Happy New Year to you all. I seem to have lost the impetus for writing reviews during the last half of 2016, so here’s a roundup of those other shows and plays I saw that never made it to the blog, so that I can start fresh in 2017. They are based on my tweets, notes I made after seeing them, my Mum’s memory and my not-so-great memory.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe
This was one production where not reading about it beforehand definitely impeded my enjoyment. Earlier that day I had read my niece’s fictionalised story of the play to reacquaint myself with it, but it beared little resemblance to what I saw on stage. I wish I’d read about how different it was and how they had had a dramaturg re-write it as then I may have been expecting what we saw. Our seats were to the side of the stage as well, so some of the action was obscured by columns.
I’m sure many people hailed the production as great, but it just left me confused. The premise was that people who work behind the scenes at the Globe are putting on a play and go into the woods to rehearse. After that it’s not clear what is ‘real’ and what’s not.
The last half hour was the ‘Globe workers’ putting on their play – Pyramus and Thisbe, which I didn’t know – and which, although most of the audience were in hysterics, I’m not really one really silly humour so it didn’t really sit well with me – especially when I’d been expecting to see Shakespeare!
Date of visit: 5th July 2016 2*
Groundhog Day at the Old Vic
We hated this for many reasons. Firstly, we bought cheap seats in the balcony to the side of the stage as the reviews had been so good and, although they were called restricted view, they really should not be sold at all – we could literally only see the lefthand side of the stage so missed any action on the right.
Secondly, it’s clear the story is just not strong enough for a two and a half hour show. The first 30 minutes is just the Bill Murray character being depressed. I wasn’t taken with the songs either and the set was quite simple.
In the future, I’ll just be watching the film again.. and again… and again…
Date of visit: 29th August 2016 2*
The MGM Story at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
This was a really fun show at our hidden gem of a theatre, with a talented cast as usual. Entertaining but a more amateurish than many of their productions.
The show depicts ‘the history of the golden age of song and dance and tells the tale of how the studio fostered the talent of stars including Judy Garland and Gene Kelly and composers such as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and many more. The songs were great, including classics from musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris.
Date of visit: 4th September 2016 3*
The Entertainer at the Garrick Theatre
Part of Kenneth Branagh’s season, we had bought our tickets 18 months before so couldn’t really believe it had come around!
Kenneth Branagh was fabulous as always, but the play itself I thought was too long and drawn out. I didn’t really care about the play when KB himself wasn’t on stage as he really livened it up and I would have liked to see more singing and dancing. The actress who played his daughter squeaked and my Mum, who notices these things, says that in the second act KB was wearing a beautiful Saville Row suit that in reality was too smart and expensive for the character.
The theatre was very hot and we were at the back of the stalls. Unfortunately the voices didn’t carry to us properly when the actors were speaking and not raising their voices for the part. To top it all, we came out desperate for a G&T as onstage there were drinking and talking about it the entire first half!
Date of visit: 7th September 2016 3*
Ragtime at the Charing Cross Theatre
This is one of our favourite musicals. We love it so much that the last time we saw it was in Regent’s Park and we got absolutely drenched watching it! We enjoyed the themed menu beforehand – NY immigrant food!
It is a sad and powerful story. As usual, the set and production quality at the Charing Cross Theatre was outstanding and all the cast were fabulous, getting a standing ovation.
Date of visit: 21st November 5*
Tosca at the ENO
As we expected, a great production with good acting and singing.
Date of visit: 3rd October 2016 4*
Pearl Fishers at the ENO
My thoughts on this can be summed up by my tweet during the interval which reads “Beautiful production of Pearl Fishers. Absolutely love the diving scene at the beginning, so realistic.” And it was… it did actually look as though they were swimming on stage.
Date of visit: 19th October 5*
An Audience with Michael Douglas
I’m often tempted by the “An Audience with…” evenings but this was one we just couldn’t resist. One of our favourite actors, my Mum and I enjoyed seeing him in person and hearing tales about him making some of his best films. Evening Jonathan Ross wasn’t too annoying for once, realising the evening was about Michael not him.
Date of visit: 30th October 5*
Legally Blonde at Watford Palace Theatre
This was an amateur production that I went to see because one of my colleagues is in it and because it is one of my favourite shows. Not up to the level of the productions I saw in the West End and Upstairs at the Gatehouse, it was still very enjoyable.
Date of visit: 10th November 3*
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