REVIEW: @Greasemusical @TheCentre #Cardiff #UKTour #18Jul2017

20229226_1386632198057407_272362647520683066_n♬♫♪ Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool, just how will I start, my Grease review….♬♫♪

One of the world’s biggest musicals has returned to Wales Millennium Centre for a two week run as part of its UK tour that stars Tom Parker (formerly of The Wanted), Jimmy Osmond (formerly a teen singing legend), Danielle Hope (Loves Ruby slippers), and Louisa Lytton (formerly Ruby from Eastenders – yes, I’ve seen what I’ve done there)

Pink Ladies Photos by Paul Coltas

The main thing to remember if you’ve not seen the musical version of Grease is to not to think “oh, this is different to the film” – which I will admit to doing a little bit during the performance. The musical came first; the film version of the musical will always be different.

That aside, this production is brilliant, the sets, costumes, the sound, all add to a pretty impressive staging of a musical that began in 1971 and has had the likes of Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze, Craig Mclaughlin and Luke Goss as Danny, and of course Elaine Paige, Samantha Womack, Debbie Gibson and Sonia as Sandy.

How do the two leads fair in this list of alumni, well, Tom Parker in his first stage acting role is pretty impressive. Being in one of the biggest boy bands in the UK certainly put him in good stead for the musical and dance numbers – and he has something most ex boy band members don’t have – comic timing and a personality to boot.

Tom Parker (Danny) and Danielle Hope (Sandy) Photo by Paul ColtasDanielle Hope’s musical theatre pedigree is undeniably brilliant. Having won “Over the Rainbow” and becoming Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, becoming  Éponine (twice) in the London production of Les Mis and touring with the Sound of Music and Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream coat, watching her was a joy – just a shame her talent wasn’t showcased further.

The standout moment for me was Jimmy Osmond singing Beauty School Dropout, which further goes to prove there’s no age limit on talent – and class never gets old. A showman, will always be a showman.

Louisa Lytton’s portrayal of Rizzo shows a different side to a character that the film version seems to miss. The song “There are worse things I could do” makes more sense on the stage as the lyrics are being told to another person, not the audience.

Pink Ladies Photos by Paul ColtasOther mentions to Ryan (Doody) and Oliver (Roger) – although not well known outside of theatre circles, both are brilliant vocally and added something a little special – if your only experience of Grease is the film – this will be a special “oh, I didn’t know that” moment.

The ensemble numbers are where Grease truly takes flight. From Greased Lightning, to We go together, I dare you to sit in your seat and not want to hand jive your way around the auditorium.

If you’re a fan of the film, and have never seen the musical – I’d recommend you take a long hard look at yourself and book tickets now. If you’re not hopeless devoted to the film – I’d also recommend booking tickets now because I’ll tell you more, tell you more, for those Summer nights, Grease will sell like lightening, of the greased variety

Grease is currently at Wales Millennium Centre till 29th July 2017

Tom Parker (Danny) and Danielle Hope (Sandy) Photo by Paul Coltas (2)

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NEWS: @WickedUK Flies Back to #Cardiff @TheCentre in 2018

Multi record-breaking UK & Ireland touring production

Returns to Wales Millennium Centre for a strictly limited 4 week run

From Wednesday 31 October to Saturday 24 November 2018

Wicked_Elphaba_Credit Brinkhoff and Mögenburg (Small)

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is delighted to confirm that its spectacular, multi record-breaking and critically acclaimed touring production will return to Wales Millennium Centre in 2018. One of the most successful productions in the venue’s history, Wicked was previously seen by over 90,000 people during its celebrated engagement in March/April 2014.

A truly outstanding production” (South Wales Evening Post), Wicked returns for four weeks only from Wednesday 31 October to Saturday 24 November 2018. Tickets go on public sale on Monday 27 March, and are priced from £20.

wicked-glinda-and-elphaba-a-previous-cast-photo-credit-matt-crockettExecutive Producer Michael McCabe said: “We were overwhelmed by the incredible response from audiences and critics alike when we first brought Wicked to Cardiff for the Welsh premiere in 2014, and it is extraordinary to think that over 90,000 people came and saw us. The whole team at Wales Millennium Centre showed such tremendous enthusiasm and support, and we’re all really delighted to return to this stunning venue.”

Managing Director at Wales Millennium Centre, Mathew Milsom, said: “It is a pleasure to be bringing Wicked back to our stage next year.  One of the smartest modern musicals, Wicked is packed full of show-stoppers, spectacular design, and certainly complements our varied programme for 2018.  It is sure to be a highlight for musical-lovers and we look forward to welcoming the cast and crew back to Wales Millennium Centre.”

Acclaimed as “one of the greatest musicals of our time” (Daily Mail), “a magical mystery tour through the fantasyland of Oz” (London Evening Standard) and “one of the West End’s true modern classics” (Metro), Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students and their extraordinary adventures in Oz, which will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. Based on the acclaimed, best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters originally created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked has become a global phenomenon featuring astounding technical wizardry, stunning costumes and show-stopping songs by three-time Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz.

This spectacular production of Wicked, acclaimed by the Northern Echo as “the ultimate Broadway experience for theatre audiences all over the UK”, played a fifteen-city tour of the UK & Ireland from September 2013 – July 2015, winning five-star rave reviews at every venue. It resumed touring in July 2016 to embark on a major international tour including engagements in Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai and Beijing, before a much anticipated return to the UK & Ireland in 2018.

Wicked is already the 17th longest running show in West End theatre history and recently celebrated a decade of performances at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, where it continues an open-ended run. Around the world, Wicked has now been seen by over 50 million people in 15 countries, and won over 100 major awards.

 Wicked has music and lyrics by multi Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Disney’s Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted) and is based on the acclaimed novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire and adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman. Musical staging is by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilentoand the production is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello.

Wicked is produced around the world by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK/International Tour) Michael McCabe.

Casting for the 2018 UK & Ireland Tour is to be announced.

WICKED IN NUMBERS

  • WICKED was seen by over 90,000 people in its first visit to Wales Millennium Centre in 2014.
  • By the time this acclaimed production of WICKED returns to Cardiff it will have travelled almost 12 thousand miles (by road, sea and air) since its debut in Manchester on 12 September 2013.
  • Almost 1.5 million theatregoers have seen this production to date.
  • This “thrilling theatrical experience” (Metro) features 350 stunning costumes, 140 wigs, 244 pairs of shoes, 110 hats, 125 pairs of gloves and 30 prosthetic masks.
  • It takes 100 people, both on-stage and behind the scenes, to delivery every single performance of this gigantic touring production that has been acclaimed as “every bit the West End show” (The Public Reviews).

WICKED AROUND THE WORLD

  • WICKED has been seen by over 50 million people across over 100 cities in 15 countries.
  • WICKED is already the 17th longest running show in London theatre history and now one of the top five longest running musicals currently playing in the West End.
  • WICKED recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary in the West End, and has played over 4000 performances at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where it continues an open-ended run.
  • WICKED has won over 100 major awards including 3 Tony Awards, 6 Drama Desk Awards, 2 Olivier Audience Awards, 9 WhatsOnStage Awards, an Evening Standard Theatre Award and a Grammy Award.
  • WICKED was also recently named as the ‘Best Theatre Production for Schools’ at the School Travel Awards.

Official website: www.WickedTheMusical.co.uk

Twitter: @WickedUK

Facebook: /WickedUK  |  Instagram: @WickedUK

REVIEW: @MammaMiaMusical @TheCentre #Cardiff 12.10.16

REVIEW: Mamma Mia!
LOCATION: Wales Millennium Centre
DATE: 12th October 2016

It’s fair to say it’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest jukebox musical of all time and it’s currently on tour around the UK with it’s present home of the Wales Millennium Centre. And as a footnote, tonight’s performance was the 3000th of a UK tour!

img_6009What more can be said about Mamma Mia that’s not been said before? It’s one of the biggest selling DVD’s, the music that it’s based around is from the biggest export of Sweden (baring Volvo and Ikea), and did you know Mamma Mia! Isn’t the first attempt at employing the ABBA catalogue for a stage musical. Abbacadabra was originally a French TV special that employed ABBA songs with altered French lyrics to tell classic fairy tales. In 1983, it was adapted to the London stage and ran for eight weeks.

If you’ve lived under a rock since 1999 and haven’t seen the film, this is the general premise;

It’s the story of a former pop-singer turned hotel owner on a Greek Island. On the weekend of her daughter’s wedding, she is reunited with the former members of her girl group and three ex-beaus, one of whom is the father of the bride-to-be. Add to this, the music of Abba, the feel of a summer romance and you have one of the biggest and brightest musicals of the last 20 years.

img_6008
When you review something like this there’s a danger of letting each performance be praised when there were particular moments for me to have the hairs stand on the back of my neck. Sara Poyzer’s Winner takes it all was one of those moments as was her number with Jaqueline Braun and Emma Clifford of Dancing Queen. The choreography is just stunning in the group numbers of Lay all your love on me and Gimme Gimme Gimme. Richard Standing as Sam provides the perfect opposite to Sara’s Donna – dot dot dot. And mention also to Lucy May Barker who plays Sophie, with a voice like that it won’t be long till she’s headlining a musical. img_6010

Mamma Mia was the first major musical of its kind, and since then we’ve had the music of Queen (We Will Rock You), Madness (Our House), The Kinks (Sunny Afternoon) and Spice Girls…. Well okay, that’s not the best comparison as it didn’t last too long. So okay, Jukebox Musicals aren’t everybody’ s cup of tea, you can’t put a Wicked against a We Will Rock You, but for a night of pure pop brilliance from one of the music’s best writers, an escape from the humdrum grind of the day to day life, get yourself down to the Wales Millennium Centre as Mamma Mia is there till 13th November.

It won’t cost much Money Money Money, for you to say I do I do I do, just ring ring the box office and you’ll be the winner that takes it all. Go on, take a chance!

(Photos from the Mamma Mia Tour Website)

NEWS: ALVIN AILEY® AMERICAN DANCE THEATER RETURNS TO @TheCentre AS PART OF UK TOUR 2016

ALVIN AILEY® AMERICAN DANCE THEATER RETURNS TO WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE AS PART OF UK TOUR 2016 

TUESDAY 4 & WEDNESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2016

 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the world’s most popular dance companies, will return to the UK for the first time in six years and presents an exhilarating mixed bill of dance at Wales Millennium Centre on Tuesday 4 & Wednesday 5 October during its UK tour 2016. Celebrating the human spirit through the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition, Ailey’s performances, under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Battle, form the perfect edition to the Black History Month line-up taking place across Wales throughout October.

Founded in 1958, the company is recognised by the U.S. Congress as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World.” In almost six decades, Ailey’s artists have performed for over 25 million people in 71 countries on six continents and continue to wow audiences and critics around the world.

Commenting about the Company’s return to the UK, Ailey’s Artistic Director Robert Battle said:I’m proud to continue Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s legacy of extensive international tours with my inaugural visit leading the Company’s extraordinary dancers through the United Kingdom. Presented by Dance Consortium six years after they so successfully last welcomed Ailey, we’ll share a diverse repertory of works including several UK premieres.  I’m excited for audiences old and new to experience the uplifting performances that have inspired people the world over, fulfilling Mr. Ailey’s belief that ‘Dance came from the people and should always be delivered back to the people.

Head of Programming at Wales Millennium Centre, Louise Miles-Crust, said: “After a 6 year absence from the UK, I’m extremely excited Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, one of the world’s most exciting and inspiring modern dance companies, will be performing at the Centre as part of their UK tour.  From British Dance Edition to the Mariinsky Ballet and Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, 2016 has been an exceptional year for dance at the Centre, bringing the very best in national and international dance across a wide range of genres to audiences in Wales. Alvin Ailey, with their fresh, modern style and wide audience appeal, will bring this year’s season of dance at the Centre to a breath-taking conclusion.”

The Wales Millennium Centre programme will include UK premieres by two of today’s most acclaimed choreographers: the uplifting Exodus by hip hop choreographer Rennie Harris; and the spiritual journey of Four Corners by Ronald K. Brown. A company UK premiere, the dreamlike duet After the Rain Pas de Deux by Christopher Wheeldon, will also be performed during the Cardiff evening.

Drawing the programme to a close will be Revelations by Alvin Ailey. The beloved crowd-pleaser, the most widely-seen modern dance work in the world, will be performed by the incomparable Ailey dancers. Revelations premiered in 1960 and continues to bring audiences all around the world to their feet.

The Ailey CARDIFF 2016 programme, which is subject to alteration, will be as follows:

Four Corners / Exodus / After the Rain Pas de Deux / Revelations

UK Premieres

 Exodus (2015) Choreography by Rennie Harris / Music: Original compositions by Raphael Xavier, “A New Deal” by Ost & Kjex. Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie (Lorenzo) Harris created a work that explores the idea of “exodus” – from one’s ignorance and conformity – as a necessary step toward enlightenment. Set to gospel and house music along with spoken word, the work underscores the crucial role of action and movement in effecting change. Exemplifying his view of hip hop as a “celebration of life”, Exodus marks Harris’ latest invitation to return to spiritual basics and affirm who we are. His previous contributions to the Ailey repertory include Home (2011) and Love Stories (2004), Judith Jamison’s dynamic collaboration with Harris and Robert Battle.

Four Corners (2013) Choreographer: Ronald K. Brown    / Music: Carl Hancock Rux, Yacoub & Various Artists. Four Corners brings to life the vision of four angels standing on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds. Drawing inspiration from the lyrics of Rux’s Lamentations, Four Corners trails 11 dancers as they rise to seek a life of peace on the “mountaintop”; a powerful and hope-filled journey of tribulation, devotion and triumph.

Company UK premiere

After the Rain Pas de Deux (2005 / Ailey Company Premiere 2014) Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon / Music: Arvo Pärt. An instant hit at New York City Ballet in 2005, Christopher Wheeldon’s dreamlike duet – praised for its sublime simplicity and intricate partnering – is revealed in a fresh light as the Ailey dancers make it their own. Set to music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the sensual male‐female pas de deux has resonated deeply with audiences and marked the first work by Christopher Wheeldon to enter the Ailey repertory.

Ailey Classic

Revelations (1960) Choreography by Alvin Ailey / Music: Traditional Spirituals. More than just a popular dance work, Revelations has become a cultural treasure, beloved by generations of fans. An American classic acclaimed as a must-see for all, Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece is a tribute to his heritage and genius. Using African-American spirituals, the work fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul. Seeing Revelations for the first time or the hundredth can be a transcendent experience, with audiences cheering, singing along and dancing in their seats from the opening notes of the plaintive I Been ’Buked to the rousing Wade in the Water and the triumphant finale, Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.

 

ALVIN AILEY® AMERICAN DANCE THEATER – UK Tour 2016 – WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF

Tue 4 & Wed 5 October at 7.30pm

Wales Millennium Centre CARDIFF

Tickets: 029 2063 6464 www.wmc.org.uk

REVIEW: @TheCentre @ChittyMusical @CarrieHFletcher @leemeadofficial #Wales #Cardiff #ChittyChittyBangBang

Imagine a world where one of the most famous spy novelists in the world creates a much loved children’s novel, which then goes on to star one of Hollywood’s greatest experts in the art of the cockney accent.

Imagining it? Well, if you’re still not 100% sure of what I’m talking about, it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and since 2002 it’s been selling out as a musical all over the place, and now it’s taking a pitstop at Wales Millennium Centre till 21st August 2016.

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tour

With a cast that includes some of musical theatre’s best known names – headed by former Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dreamcoat lead, Lee Mead as Caractacus Potts, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Truly Scrumptious (who actually played Jemima in the original London production in 2002), also Shaun Williiamson & Claire Sweeney playing the Bomburst’s.

It’s a story that doesn’t need much explaining, but if you’ve never seen the film before, here’s what the website says…

“Can the loveable but whacky inventor, Potts, along with his two children and the gorgeous Truly Scrumptious outwit the bombastic Baron Bomburst who has decreed that all children be banished from his kingdom? What happens when the children are caught and imprisoned with the other youngsters by the evil Child Catcher? Will it all end happily-ever-after? Well, of course it will!”.

Quite possibly one of popular cultures most famous villains is the child catcher, but as a 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tourfootnote, he wasn’t in the original Ian Fleming book. He was introduced via the screenplay for the movie by Roald Dahl. Next time you watch the film, it doesn’t take much to compare the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The BFG to the film. You could be one of the generation for that the child catcher remains a terrifying reminder of your youngers days – this was certainly the case for the woman sat in front of me in the stalls. Every time the CC appeared, she couldn’t watch the stage – and was slightly mocked by the children she was with, bless.

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tour

The audio and visuals of the show is amazing. Chitty herself (cars are always female – why?), is one of the most expensive props created, £750,000 being the figure being muted. And that’s what pretty much steals the show – sorry human performers but you know it too.

Lee Mead – now we know the boy can sing, and he dances pretty blooming good too. The old bamboo is an old school Hollywood dance extravaganza which transfers to the stage with so much ease. It’s a simple thing to forget that it’s been 9 years since Joseph as his performance belies someone with many more years experience.

Carrie Hope Fletcher, who you’ll know as being the younger sister of Tom from Mcfly, is terrific.  From the moment she rides onto stage to the when she’s a music box – really, truly, she’s brilliant.

Shaun and Claire are pure Vulgar..ians, and Andy Hockey (he’s from Pontypridd you know) and Matt Gillett (not from Ponty), both have show-stealing moments. Andy’s Granpa dancing is ace, and Matt, well, Matt as the child catcher…. See the previous comment.

If you want a proper evening out for all the family, you won’t go far wrong with this. The Sherman Brothers soundtrack will be buzzing around your brain for many an hour after you leave the Wales Millennium Centre. Yes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you.

For more information, visit http://www.wmc.org.uk/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalesMillenniumCentre/

Twitter: @theCentre

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Tour

Photos from http://www.chittythemusical.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS: @TheCentre and @CapeTown_Opera #MandelaTrilogy #Cardiff #Wales

WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE &  CAPE TOWN OPERA PRESENT

MANDELA TRILOGY

TO TOUR THE UK AND IRELAND  FROM 24 AUGUST 2016

Wales Millennium Centre and Cape Town Opera are delighted to present the return of Mandela Trilogy, opening at Wales Millennium Centre from 24th to 27thAugust 2016 followed by a UK and Ireland Tour, finishing on 24 September 2016.

Mandela Trilogy, written and directed by Michael Williams with music by Peter Louis van Dijk and Mike Campbell, is a musical tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela and had its European premiere at Wales Millennium Centre in 2012.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic and Creative Director at Wales Millennium Centre said “Following its debut performances and fantastic reception at Wales Millennium Centre in 2009, we are delighted to be presenting Cape Town Opera’s Mandela Trilogy on a UK and Ireland tour next summer.  Showcasing the talent of the hugely gifted Cape Town Opera’s company, this production will offer audiences a wonderful spectacle with its exceptional cast, award-winning chorus and original score.  I’m delighted we are able to share the story of Nelson Mandela’s heroic and inspirational life, two years after his death. This tour is another step in the development of collaborative and exchange projects between the Centre and our strategic partner – Cape Town Opera.”

From tribal initiation rites on the banks of the Mbashe River, through the heady and rebellious jazz-fuelled days in Sophiatown, to incarceration and reflection on Robben Island and finally beyond, to freedom – this is the story of one of the world’s most iconic figures.

The amazing life of Nelson Mandela is brought vividly to the stage by Cape Town Opera in a large-scale celebration and tribute to the man who touched hearts and minds around the world.

Told in three parts by a cast and orchestra of over 60 South African performers, the music matches the vastly different phases of Mandela’s journey from freedom fighter to president.  The upbeat jazz and swing-influenced songs of Sophiatown are framed by musical styles more familiar in contemporary opera – with a dash of Xhosa folk music that grounds the production in its African roots.

Written by two different composers, each Act is in stark contrast to the others, but with an over-arching dramatic theme that shines a light on the life of an extraordinary man.

For more information, visit http://www.wmc.org.uk/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WalesMillenniumCentre/

Twitter: @theCentre

MANDELA TRILOGY comes to Wales Millennium Centre from 24th–27th August 2016 as part of a UK tour. Ticket prices range from £14 to £53. For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call 029 2063 6464. Age guidance 10+ (No under 2s).