Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia

MAMMA MIA OR MAMMA DISASTER?! *****

 

Review by Yaiza Freire-Bernat (Year 13)

Mamma Mia - Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus

Novello Theatre - 13/11/2015

I went to see the acclaimed musical, Mamma Mia, at the Novello Theatre on Friday 13th November.  It was performed on a proscenium arch stage with a set that reflects the pieces Cycladic Greek Island setting.  The set and props were used very effectively to portray different locations as the two sets of white beveled walls with blue doors were easily moved and rotated.  Technical elements were also employed to their full potential so as to reflect the location and time of day.  For example, there was a clever use of lighting at the end of the prologue when a yellow light illuminated the whole stage.  This, and the faint sound of crickets, immediately told the audience that it was daytime and very hot.  Contrastingly, for Sophie's hen party, the stage was darkened and colourful party lights were flown in and lanterns were placed around the space.

The performers were strong and vibrant.  Dianne Pilkington was one of the stand out characterisations of the night and her interpretation of Donna Sheridan took my breath away!  Her acting and singing were absolutely top-drawer.  I believed her every word and gesture.  As for her singing, the quality of her sound was amazing and unlike a typical musical theatre voice.  Dianne acted the songs beautifully, she did not just sing them.  I observed her performance closely and believe Dianne is a fantastic role model for those wanting to start out in the industry, whether in traditional acting or musical theatre.

Other performances were also noteworthy, including Mazz Murray's Tanya.  Her chracterisation was spot on as she owned the stage with her sassy and sexy demeanour and her performance of "Does Your Mother Know" trumped everything.  Jo Napthine's performance of Rosie was also fantastic throughout and I was crying with laughter during "Take A Chance On Me".  The trio of men was also superb.  I expected the older cast to be vocally weaker than the younger performers.  But they were consistently far stronger and both the male and female trios were terrific.

Jasmin Colangelo, the understudy to Gabriella Williams, played Sophie Sheridan.  I felt her voice took a little time to 'warm up' and her singing was not as accomplished as I would have expected but she was strong dramatically and did a terrific job overall.

In terms of minor criticisms, which are really very few, I felt the younger cast could have portrayed more sincerity in their performances.

Mamma Mia truly was an unforgettable night at the theatre.  The tunes will be stuck in your head for a week.  Hugely enjoyable and definitely a must-see event for a fabulously entertaining night out - preferably with someone who likes to sing and dance!

16 November 2015

ETO The Tales Of Hoffmann

ETO The Tales of Hoffmann
ETO The Tales of Hoffmann

THE TWISTED TALES OF HOFFMANN'S LOVERS ****

Review by Lara Defries (14yrs - Year 10)

The Tales of Hoffmann - Jacques Offenbach

English Touring Opera at The Britten Theatre 10/10/2015

The backdrop of the set was simple and darkly coloured and the cast smoothly adapted the space to become the different settings of each act. The drawers in the set walls enabled the performers to have props close at hand and the small set minimised excessive movement and meant that the production can fit into all the venues on tour.

All four soprano roles were played by Ilona Domnic and, without giving too much away, Olympia was a very different 'take' on a robot. I admit it was not what I expected but it was a pleasant surprise to see a different and creative interpretation of her characterisation that worked beautifully and took great skill.

Antonia was portrayed as a gentle sad figure. Distraught that she is unable to use her beautiful gift, her voice.

Stella was very much a wicked mix o all three women. Hoffmann's ultimate lover!

Hoffmann (Sam Furness) was very convincing as a hopeless romantic who drinks and smokes too much to help him get over his broken heart.

I greatly enjoyed the performance but without prior knowledge of the plot I would have been confused and it might have taken me some time to understand what was going on.

I think having one singer perform all four roles (Olympia, Antonia, Giuliette and Stella) was very effective and helped tie the story together. I would highly recommend this production as the clever and wicked love stories will keep you on the edge of your seat!

11 October 2015