Saturday 17th August

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Chicago: The Musical © The Phoenix Theatre

Chicago The Musical

Rating:

Sandip Kana, What’s On London reviewer

Despite good performances from much of the cast, Walter Bobbie’s new incarnation of the frank and funny classic lacks a slice of razzle dazzle.

It would be difficult not to have noticed the large array of promotional posters across London heralding the return of Chicago, pitted as one of the West End’s ‘must see’ musicals.  But although there are a number of commendable aspects to this production, overall it is disappointingly flat compared to previous stellar iterations.

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Category: Theatre
The Braille Legacy © Charing Cross Theatre

The Braille Legacy review

Rating:

French musical The Braille Legacy recently held its world premiere at Charing Cross Theatre, telling the true story of Louis Braille’s invention of his eponymous tactile alphabet which helped transform the lives of blind people ever since.  

Directed by the highly-acclaimed Thom Southerland (Titanic, Parade), The Braille Legacy has many of the ingredients required to be a classic: a strong story with bleakness and hope, a young cast with impressive voices and a thoughtful approach to presentation.  

However, as Sandip Kana writes below, a few glaring issues prevent the production from fully allowing its thought-provoking message to shine through.

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Category: Theatre
Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Debbie Chazen in The Girls
Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Debbie Chazen in The Girls

The Girls – If you’re going to see one musical this year, it has to be Barlow’s!

Rating:

Hotly anticipated musical The Girls is now being performed at Phoenix Theatre until July 2017.  Based on the hit 2003 film Calendar Girls, Tim Firth (who wrote the film) and national treasure Gary Barlow have joined forces to return this heart-warming story to the stage.  In doing so, as Shannon Rawlins writes below, they have produced the best British musical since Billy Elliot.

Film, play, musical – Phoenix Theatre’s brand new production The Girls has been on quite the journey.  Now, in the heart of the West End, you can hear sung the true tale of a Yorkshire Women’s Institute group’s fundraising efforts of producing a nude calendar to raise money for a memorial sofa.

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Category: Theatre
© Jessica Verma
© Jessica Verma

Baby Wants Candy: Thrones! The Musical Parody review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

The latest production from US comedians Baby Wants Candy is a fun, crude and entertaining tribute to Game of Thrones, with plenty of tits and dragons.

Warning: as with the musical, this review contains some GoT spoilers.

Like its televisual inspiration, Thrones! The Musical doesn’t take itself too seriously.  That much is clear from the opening number, which bluntly tells those who prefer George R.R. Martin’s books to leave now.  Because of that, it can recognise the TV show’s flaws upfront without committing sacrilege: “So many plot lines quickly end in disaster, although the blonde-girl-in-the-desert one could go a lot faster.”

We then cut to an apartment, where recently divorced Lesley admits to her friends that she’s never seen the hit HBO series.  Although initially horrified (“No wonder he left you!”), the friends agree to act out GoT to show her what she’s missing.

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Category: Comedy
Aladdin-Prince-Edward-Theatre-Jade-Ewen-Jasmine-and-Dean-John-Wilson-Aladdin-Photographer-Deen-van-Meer-©-Disney-2-238x357

Disney’s Aladdin flies into the West End

Rating:

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Two years after its Broadway debut, Disney’s Aladdin has arrived in London’s West End to run at The Prince Edward Theatre until 11th February 2017.  The magical musical – based on the timeless Middle Eastern folk tale – stars former Sugababe Jade Ewan, Dean-John Wilson and Trevor Dion Nicholas.

On its opening Arabian night, Disney pulled out all the stops by laying on a surprise purple – but non-flying – carpet for the arriving audience.  There on the carpet was Shannon Rawlins to report back for What’s On London.

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Category: Theatre
Sophie Carmen Jones slays as Velma Kelly
Sophie Carmen Jones slays as Velma Kelly

Rouge your knees and pull your stockings down – Chicago is in town!

“Murder, greed, corruption, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”

Remember in 2002, when Catherine Zeta-Jones slid down a well-oiled table in suspenders and bagged herself an Oscar for her performance in Chicago?  I certainly do.  And the only reason I know about the well-oiled table is because I attempted it in my Year 8 English classroom, with painful results ….

Chicago is probably my favourite musical.  Based on true events back in the 1920s, it tells the story of Roxie Hart, who shoots her lover and enlists the help of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn to free herself from jail.  Along the way, we meet double-murderess Velma Kelly, spicy Matron Mama Morton and blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Amos Hart.  And it’s currently at the New Wimbledon Theatre, before carrying on its tour of the UK.

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Category: Music
Shrek and Fiona go head-to-head
Shrek and Fiona go head-to-head

Shrek The Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Based on the 2001 animated film, ‘Shrek The Musical’ is an entertaining evening which will have both adults and children dancing in their seats throughout the whole performance. On the penultimate stop of a hugely successful UK tour, Shrek is currently at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

The title character is brought to life by Dean Chisnall, who manages to showcase both the aggressive and softer side to the ogre, despite not having the strongest singing voice. Sometimes a struggle to understand his mumbling dialect, Chisnall most importantly captures the warmth of the character.

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Category: Kids

Bend It Like Beckham – The not so beautiful game

Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 breakout hit Bend It Like Beckham hit the West End recently, turning the story of football mad Jess’ struggle to live up to her Sikh family’s high standards in an all-singing, all-dancing musical. Directing the adaptation herself, Chadha has a lot to live up to. With a script co-written by Guljit Bindra and Paul Mayeda Berges, it was a brave decision for Chadha, branching out in a new direction to which she has not previously ventured.

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Category: Theatre