Saturday, December 28, 2013

REVIEW: London Theatre Pilgrimage

I spent my Christmas in London and there is really no better way to spend it than filling my days going to shows. Here a rundown of the shows I saw and my impressions of them:

The Duchess Theatre, Friday December 20

The Wind in the Willows, a production of the Royal Opera House was a huge disappointment. This show, directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett had a poorly structured story to match with mediocre choreography. It may be whimsical for kids but utterly boring for an adult

Menier Chocolate Factory, Saturday December 21

This Candide is a beautiful production; but still, it is a flawed musical. I actually don't think that there can be a production that can rescue this notoriously difficult piece by Leonard Bernstein. Having said that, this production, directed by Mathew White, came close.

Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Saturday December 21

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Sam Mendes, turned out to be better than I expected. The set and costume designs were spectacular while there's clarity and crispness in the story-telling that is not found in its cinematic counterparts.

Palace Theatre, Sunday December 22

The Commitments, a musical written by Roddy Doyle based on the novel of the same name and of the same author, has to be the laziest musical I have ever seen. The performance was not bad at all, but I would describe this production, directed by Jamie Lloyd, more like a concert rather than a musical. Wouldn't recommend it at all.

Phoenix Theatre, Monday december 23

Once, the musical, has a lot of heart and gravity. Beautiful music by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. While slow burning, Once's charm lies on the group of performers with musicality oozing out of their pores. The production was simple, effective and intimate.

Shaftesbury Theatre, Tuesday December 24

From Here to Eternity, the musical, is a beautifully crafted gutsy and gritty show that portrays the dark side of the "good" war. The musical, with music and lyrics by Stuart Brayson and Tim Rice and a book by Bill Oakes is based on the novel of the same name, written by James Jones. The choreography by Javier de Frutos was particularly outstanding! Looking back, this could be one of the better shows I have seen during this trip.

Aldwych Theatre, Thursday December 26

Stephen Ward, the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, was pleasantly entertaining. With book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, the musical is based on the real life events behind the 1963 Profumo Affair. It is a brave choice of story and it was wonderfully staged and directed by Richard Eyre. Unfortunately, the biggest letdown of the piece was the music, while on period, it sounded like regurgitation of old Lloyd Webber music.

National Theatre, Thursday December 26

The Light Princess is Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonaldadapted by Samuel Adamson. Directed by Marianne Elliott and with music and lyrics by Tori Amos, The Light Princess has to be one of most whimsical production in West End during its run. It was stunningly staged and utterly mesmerizing. Rosalie Craig, as the Princess, gave a tireless and beautiful performance. Still, it can benefit from a bit of editing.

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