Tag Archives: Josh Prince

Beautiful

reviewed at the Theatre Royal, Norwich on 3 October

As shows hewn out of  back catalogues go, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is much more enjoyable than most. Just launched on its post-West End tour, it juxtaposes two couples.

The main one is song composer Carole King (Bronté Barbé) and her future husband lyricist Gerry Goffin (Kane Oliver Parry). Then there’s a less intense and more wise-cracking pair – lyricist and singer Cynthia Weil (Amy Ellen Richardson) and hypochondriac composer Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves).

Carole’s mother Genie Klein (Carol Royle) and music publisher Donnie Kirschner (Adam Howden) act as their stimuli as the story moves from 1958 to 1971, from young beginners fighting for their first vital contracts and professional contacts to Carnegie Hall itself.

Visual impressions are no longer a mere matter of smoke and mirrors. Their place has been taken by lights and scaffolding, give or take the odd item of furniture, staircases and a couple of pianos.

Derek McLane’s sets, Alejo Vietti’s costumes and Peter Kaczorowski’s lighting ensure that Marc Bruni’s production keeps on the move.

Josh Prince’s choreography also reflects the decades in question and is very well danced by the 12-person ensemble with Esme Laudat and Khalid Daley in particular making their presence felt.

As King, Barbé manages the transitions between eager schoolgirl, young wife and solo performer effectively and puts over the feelings as well as the words and notes of her numbers. Richardson makes a fine contrast. Parry and Gonsalves play far less sympathetic characters equally well.

Four star rating.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs at the Theatre Royal, Norwich until 7 October with matinées on 4, 5 and 7 October. it also plays at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend between 10 and 14 October and at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich between 17 and 21 April 2018.

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Filed under Music Music theatre & Opera, Reviews 2017

Shrek

(reviewed at the Theatre Royal, Norwich on 10 June)

“Once upon a time…” usually leads to an ending along the lines of “…and they all lived happily ever after”. It’s the bits in between, of course, which make the real story – not its bookends. Shrek, as you probably know, started off as an illustrated children’s book in 1990, was turned into an animated film by DreamWorks in 2001; this is turn became the stage musical currently on a national tour.

Film into theatre doesn’t always work. The production values which tour director Nigel Harman has harnessed for the David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori piece are, to put it mildly, lavish. Tim Hatley’s sets, costumes, masks and puppet design are all splendid and the hard-working cast do them justice.

Dean Chisnall is the ogre who eventually does find his princess – but not by metamorphosing into a handsome prince. The audience is on his side right from the start. Faye Brookes as Fiona, slightly underpowered vocally, is a red-haired spitfire, the cantankerous side of feisty. Idriss Kargbo plays the street-wise, know-all Donkey, Sancho Panza to Shrek’s Don Quixote.

The villain of the story is Lord Farquaad, cleverly played on his knees with puppet legs and much cloak-swirling by Gerard Casey. The Dragon, manipulated by four bunraku-style handlers, is a triumph while Josh Prince’s choreography takes full advantage of the padded, glittering and gleaming nature of the dancers’ costumes.

Children of all ages who have grown up with the book and the film will love it. I rather suspect that their seniors will also enjoy it.

Shrek runs as the Theatre Royal, Norwich until 28 June.

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Filed under Musicals, Reviews 2015