Review - Beautiful: The Carole King Musical comes to London

Despite frequently telling people left right and centre that jukebox musicals aren't my cup of tea, I must admit that when I learned Beautiful: The Carole King Musical was getting a West End transfer, I was very excited. After it amounted 7 tony award nominations last year my interest was piqued, and once I had purchased the cast album I knew that I had to see this show.

Photo credit - Tristram Kenton
Much like the Four Seasons in the popular musical Jersey Boys, while the name Carole King may not mean much to a large majority of generation x-ers, the music of King and Goffin is so ingrained into popular culture that most of us don't even know how we know hits such as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and Take Good Care of My Baby, we just...do! For this reason, when Rebecca at Official Theatre offered a couple of London theatre bloggers tickets to see the newly opened show, I jumped at the chance. So last night I made the journey down to the Aldwych to see if my high expectations would be matched, and I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. In fact, not only were they matched but in some ways they were exceeded to an extent I could have never predicted.
The basic plot follows Carole King, her husband Gerry Goffin and their friends and songwriting rivals Cynthia Weil and Barry Man, during their rise to fame from the late 50's onward. The dialogue is frequently interspersed with familiar songs, especially in the first act, and I frequently caught myself grinning at the slickness with which numbers were choreographed and the enthusiasm and talent with which the cast performed. However while initially this song-scene-song structure is effective, after a while the first act does seem to get a little repetitive, with King and Goffin writing a song and various groups taking that song and recording it. And while Douglas McGrath's book allows the audience to be a fly on the wall during intimate moments in act 1, at some points the more dramatic act 2 moments feel a bit sitcom-y in tone due to having received the same treatment. All in all though, the story of Carole King and her colleagues is an interesting and surprising one which kept me entertained and emotionally invested from beginning to end.

For me though, one of the most delightful elements of the show is the way that Katie Brayben transforms herself from naive teenage Carole Klein to self assured Carole King of Tapestry fame in front of the audience's eyes. Brayben nails King's iconic twangy vocals, captures all of her characteristic quirks and hits her Brooklyn accent out of the park. Paired with Alan Morrissey as the passionate yet tumultuous Gerry Goffin, Brayben captivates the audience and leads the show masterfully. Meanwhile Ian McIntosh is hilarious as hypochondriac songwriter Barry Mann,  and Lorna Want is charming as Cynthia Weil, the quick witted and super chic lyricist with the wittiest dialogue and perhaps the most stylish wardrobe in the whole show. As you would expect, the ensemble is on top form, with standout performances by Lucy St Louis who brings boundless energy and fun to her solo The Locomotion, and Ed Currie and Dylan Turner who wow with their dulcet tones as The Righteous Brothers.

Alejo Vietti's costume design was also first class, with some really staggering quick changes, no shortage of sequins, and more slacks than anyone could ever wish for. Truly, if I could have taken home everything Cynthia wore during the show then I'd have done it in a heartbeat. Beautiful is a vintage clothes lover's paradise.

I can't say enough good things about Beautiful. It's slick, it's glitzy and I predict it's going to be a surefire hit with the masses, but it's not just a stylish paint by numbers jukebox musical, it's got a heart too. In fact, it feels like I've had a lump in my throat ever since I left the theatre and I can't quite explain why. But I like it! So grab a ticket while you can as I predict that with word of mouth this show will be drawing in the crowds for months and months to come.

Verdict - 4 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome

Review - Shrek the Musical (UK Tour)

Shrek the Musical is the perfect example of a show which shouldn't work and yet does! It's cheesy, it's surreal, and it contains more fart jokes than you could ever possibly want to hear, and yet there's something about this show that makes all of these foibles obsolete. Perhaps it's the brilliant makeup and costumes that bring all of Shrek's most loved characters to life, maybe it's the sheer conviction with which the whole cast performs, or maybe it's just that with a show like this you allow yourself to sit back and enjoy it rather than being overly critical (which isn't to say that there's nothing to discuss or commend because there really, really is). It's good old fashioned entertainment, and I absolutely loved it!
The cast all give outstanding, sometimes uncanny performances as their Duloc counterparts. In particular Leo Roberts, the understudy for Shrek who was on when I saw the show, whose mimicry of Mike Myers' iconic Shrek voice was outstanding. Not to mention his singing voice which was so powerful and moving, especially during the show's act 1 closer 'Who I'd Be' which, if I'm honest, did get me a bit teary! Meanwhile, Steffan Harri (understudying the role of the tiny yet terrible Lord Farquaad) provided laughs aplenty with his energetic and hilarious rendition of 'Things are Looking Up Here in Duloc'. His almost cartoonish facial features and brilliant comic timing made Farqaad so enjoyable to watch that I found myself longing for his next scenes of comedic villainy! Additionally Faye Brookes was lovely as Princess Fiona and Idriss Kargbo did the seemingly impossible and made the role of Donkey his own!

Another enjoyable elements of the show for me was the use of puppetry. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone yet to see the show, so I'll simply tell you that the dragon puppet is really impressive, and the actress who gave her her voice (Candace Furbert) has a song that will blow you away!

For someone who was just 5 when the first Shrek film was released, it felt almost surreal that 14 years later I was sitting in a theatre watching a beloved childhood film jump off the the screen and in to real life! Yes, it's an odd topic for a musical, but does that matter at all once you're sat down in your seat and the lights are down? no! In fact, watching Shrek the Musical is probably the most fun I've had in a theatre in a long time, and if you're looking for some escapism, a way to entertain your kids for an evening or just some good old fashion fun, then be sure to book a ticket to see Shrek the Musical as soon as possible!

Verdict - 3 1/2 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome

Review - Shakespeare in Love (on stage)

Ahh, I'd almost forgotten that February is the month when Valentines Day becomes impossible to get away from! For many people it is traditionally a time to spend courting suitors and receiving tokens from loved ones. However, as there were no new potential suitors on the horizon for me I decided to spend Valentines Eve (which is definitely the correct term for the 13th of February) with my one true love...The theatre! And what better play than Shakespeare in Love to make me forget about my solitariness?
The plot, immortalized in the Academy Award winning 1998 film of the same same, follows a young William Shakespeare who is suffering from writer's block while trying to pen an epic comedy entitled 'Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter' for Philip Henslowe, the owner of the Rose Theater. He finds his muse in a beautiful merchant's daughter, Viola de Lesseps, who also happens to be Will's biggest fan, and strangely enough, bares a striking resemblance to Thomas Kent, the fresh faced thespian who Will has just cast as his Romeo! Confusion, deceit and comedy ensues (not to mention a bit with a dog!) and soon both cast and audience find themselves embroiled in a forbidden love affair which will warm your heart right up before ripping it out! The script is hilarious at times, with many jokes stemming from the irony of Will as a young, fairly unknown playwright, as opposed to the almost omnipresent being that he has become today. But there are also a number of very touching, tender moments between both lovers and friends. The play is much more than the soppy romcom that it may be perceived as. It's got a lot of heart!

Along with a brilliant script, production design is also outstanding! The stage is designed to resemble a Jacobean theater, with lighting, music and minimal props used to suggest a change in location. Interestingly, these techniques are not unlike those used when Shakespeare's plays would have been originally staged, which I'm sure was a conscious choice that really pays off. Indecently, the music (and the incredible vocals which accompanied it at some points) sounded traditional and really helped to set the scene.

As for the new cast, Orlando James wows as the handsome but wayward Will. The young man we are introduced to is uninspired, trapped in his own head and leagues away from the iconic balding Bard we're used to seeing in pictures. Meanwhile, the enchanting Eve Ponsonby is instantly likable as Viola de Lesseps, with a voice so listenable and passionate that she could probably stand on stage and read from the phone book for two and a half hours still move everyone to tears. I loved the juxtaposition between the demure, straitlaced Viola who appears in court in order to watch Shakespeare's latest works (and mouth along when she thinks no one is watching), and the Viola who bounces excitedly on her bed and proselytizes frantically to her nurse. The Viola who wears her heart on her sleeve, who is fearless in love! But for me it was Edward Franklin as Shakespeare's frenemy, the gangly swaggering Kit Marlowe, who really stood out in the cast. Despite his rather minimal time on stage, he managed to steal every scene he appeared in, and his comedic timing was excellent.

If you're looking for a brilliant play to see this year, then look no further than clever, hilarious and hugely romantic Shakespeare in Love. Guaranteed to be a hit with Bard buffs and those who wouldn't know the difference between Stratford-Upon-Avon and Stratford International!

Verdict - 3 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome

Review - The Last 5 Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I'm trying to contain my excitement as I write this blog post. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the The Last 5 Years film soundtrack has been released! The Last 5 Years (or TL5Y) is one of my favourite musicals. I find it incredible that a story so simple can be so devastatingly emotional and I'm ridiculously excited to see the film. Especially as the show is rarely performed here in the UK.

* Warning, this blog post contains a few spoilers, so if you're not familiar with the story or songs then perhaps do not read! *

The music of The Last 5 Years is exhausting, emotionally draining and so, so hard to listen to...in the best possible ways! For those who aren't extraordinarily familiar with the story of The Last 5 Years, it's basically the story of two people who were never meant to be together, and their 5 year struggle to try and make their ultimately doomed relationship work. The two people in question are Jamie Wellerstein (played in the movie by Jeremy Jordan, and originally played by Norbert Leo Butz), a promising young author, and Cathy Hyatt (played by Anna Kendrick, originally Sherie Rene Scott), an aspiring actress. While Jamie's story is told chronologically, Cathy's is told backwards, and as their journey's unfold, the audience can do nothing but watch with a foresight that the characters unfortunately lack!

Much the same as my post a few weeks ago about Memphis the Musical's London cast recording, here is a track by track review of this new release. Tissues at the ready...

Track 1
Still Hurting
Ahhhh, a masterclass in how to make yourself cry in 0.2 seconds! *Spoiler Alert* Jamie is over, AND Jamie is gone! I love the fullness of Anna Kendrick's voice. It sounds much more defiant than Sherie's voice, which was thinner here and gave more of a sense of defeat! With this song, the tearier the actress gets on stage, the better, but Kendrick's defiant tone works perfectly too.

Track 2
Shiksa Goddess
My favourite Jamie song from the musical. This is very different to Norbert Leo Butz's take on the song. Normally I like Jamie to come across as a bit awkward and nerdy in this song, as it is the first song that he sings at the beginning of the relationship. In the original stage recording I like the way Norbert Leo Butz plays Jamie like he can't believe his luck and he's in slight disbelief, while Jeremy Jordan sounds slightly more cocky and self entitled, which obviously still works but was unexpected. It'll be interesting to see how his characterisation of the role differs from other actors'.

Track 3
See I'm Smiling
Every bit of me wants for Cathy and Jamie to work things out during this song. I love how exasperated Anna Kendrick's Cathy sounds at the beginning. It makes her outburst at the tempo change ('you know what makes me crazy.[..]') seem more rational and natural! The way 'You and you and nothing but you' is given a whole new context in I Can Do Better Than That really makes that part painful here.

Track 4
Moving Too Fast
Probably the most famous song from TL5Y, I frequently thank the theatre gods for the sheer number of  musical theatre actors whose covers of this song are on Youtube! Of course, I expected nothing less than a perfect rendition from Jeremy Jordan, having already heard him on the soundtracks of Newsies and Bonnie and Clyde, the TV show smash and the film Joyful noise. He was, of course brilliant!

Track 5
A Part of That
Admittedly, I do find myself skipping this song normally. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it on this recording. Anna Kendrick takes you on a journey with her voice and I found my face pulling every possible expression while listening.

Track 6
The Schmuel Song
Not exactly a treadmill or cross trainer song, I must admit that while I do adore this song, I often skip it as well! However, I LOVE Jeremy Jordan's use of different voices for the characters of Schmuel/The Clock. I found myself giggling quite a bit! I have a feeling this bit is going to be amazing in the film. A rare fun moment.

Track 7
Summer in Ohio
I adore the easygoing sound of the ukulele on this track. It really is a hilarious song that I'm sure 99% of female vocalists have in their repertoire.  Anna Kendrick is excellent of course. I love everything about her voice!

Track 8 
The Next Ten Minutes
Anna Kendrick has the perfect voice for Cathy. It goes straight through you and makes the hairs on your arms stand on end. The 'I do's' are chilling and form perhaps one of the most heart-rending moments of the whole show, having already heard everything that comes afterwards from Cathy!

Track 9
A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home To Me
This is lot more talky than singy but it's still a great song and I just love Jeremy Jordan's voice! He's outstanding. Every tiny detail of his vocal performance tells you so much about his character. As I've said before, Anna Kendrick's voice is lovely in this moment.

Track 10
Climbing Uphill
As an aspiring actress, this song really resonates with me. Anna Kendrick nails the comedy and she sounds much less like a caricature that Sherie Rene Scott does. I LOVE the lyric change from 'why am I working so hard?/These are the people who cast Linda Blair in a musical!' to 'these are the people who cast Russel Crow in a musical!' What a burn! I adore Cathy!

Track 11
If I Didn't Believe In You
Another tearfest! I adore the way this song builds and the way that Jamie goes from caring and supportive husband, through passive aggressive selfish sulker, to outright meany, and back to supportive husband, all in the space of 5 minutes. It's a bit scary really, and I think it really makes audience think harder about Jamie and way he puts so much blame on Cathy, while never really admitting to his own wrongdoings. 'Don't we get to be happy, Cathy?' well I don't know about Cathy, but for the audience the answer is a resounding NO! Because we all know what's coming. Bring a box of tissues to the cinema with you. Not a packet...a box!

Track 12
I Can Do Better Than That
My favourite Cathy song and perhaps my favourite TL5Y song of all. When this was released early along with Moving Too Fast I had it on repeat for a whole evening so I'm pretty familiar with it. There's something addictive about Anna Kendrick's voice when she sings JRB's music. Her voice is noticeably less 'big and belty' than Sherie's, but both approaches work. I LOVE the coyness of the line 'very well placed tattoos!' People have complained about how autotuned she sounds, but I don't think she sounds autotuned that much, if at all. Although admittedly the rough contemporary tone to her voice is very different to Sherie Rene Scott's.

Track 13
Nobody Needs To Know
This song is beautiful, but such an uncomfortable listen. Cathy has just sung about her past disappointments, and how she and Jamie can do better, so It makes your stomach hurt and gives you butterflies, in a bad way, to hear Jamie singing this gentle song to the woman he's having an affair with. Jeremy Jordan sings the music of JRB with ease, he has such a beautiful voice and of course the lyrics are gorgeous but also make you very uneasy. It's incredible how just a song can make you feel such incredibly extreme emotions.

Track 14
Goodbye Until Tomorrow / I Could Never Rescue You
The most painful song in the whole show. Cathy is reflecting on her new-found love for Jamie, right at the beginning of their 5 year long relationship. It's heartbreaking that distance factors so much into the breakdown of their relationship, and here, right at the very beginning of their relationship Cathy is singing about how she cannot wait to see Jamie again after their last meeting. It's tiny, but it's the suggestion that right from the first moment, the pair were never meant to be together. The way the motif from 'I Could Never Rescue You' plays before Still Hurting, showing that the story has finally been completed, is the cruelest part of this whole score! Jeremy Jordan is stunning in I Could Never Rescue You. I'm still to this day not sure how I feel about Jamie as a character. It seems like he really loves Cathy throughout their relationship, but then he treats her so badly (not that she's a saint either). I really do ask myself just how honest I think he's being as he tells her he loved her before leaving.

All in all, having listened through this recording a few times while writing this review, I'm pretty sure it doesn't suck! I'm definitely in love with the leads, and having already fallen deeply in love with the story and songs, I would say that personally I've found it as close to perfect as can be! The thing about The Last 5 Years is that as cheesy as it may sound, you really are taken on an an emotional rollercoaster ride. Every song is like another layer of bandage on a wound that refuses to heal. It's ridiculously sad, and as the story moves on, although for the most part the songs continue to alternate between happy and sad, your knowledge of what is to come makes the happier moments at times ever more tragic than than the sad ones, and that is what makes Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years so incredibly moving!

My ATG Blind Date - Once the Musical

If you've never gone on a blind date before then let me tell you now, being set up with someone entirely at random, (via a questionaire on twitter in my case), is probably one of the most nerve wracking experiences ever. However, the call of free tickets and a night of stagey company was too good to refuse and so I applied to take part in ATG's first ever blind date experience purely out of curiosity. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet someone else who loved theatre as much as me, enjoy a lovely night out at the theatre and do something different on a night when otherwise I'd probably only be prepping for uni the next day. That being said, I apply to these sort of things all the time, never really expecting to be chosen. So imagine my surprise when Lauren from ATG emailed me to tell me that I'd been selected to take part, and that my date and I would be seeing Once at the Phoenix Theatre! I was both shocked and delighted, and more than a little bit nervous too.
The day quickly approached and I headed to London on the train, ready to meet my date! Unfortunately, the course of true stageyness never does run smoothly and I found myself on a delayed train that arrived at Charing Cross at 6:25, five minutes before I was due to be at the theatre! Panic! Still, after power walking from the station to the theatre I managed to arrive only 5 minutes late. Not bad going. I introduced myself to the lovely front of house staff and was led to the Abassador Lounge, offered a drink (I decided on orange juice) and left to wait for my blind date, who arrived only a few minutes after me!

My date's name was Tom and as we chatted before the show he told me all about his work as a lighting technician in London and I talked about uni and the show I'm currently rehearsing for. We also discussed our favourite shows, and the ones that we were looking forward to seeing in the future (Kinky Boots in particular!). Then, after enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the staff in the Ambassador Lounge and chatting for a little while, it was time to take our seats for the show.

I was excited to be seeing Once again, having already seen it with some friends last summer, and despite there being a new leading guy on the stage (singer Ronan Keating of Boyzone fame, who took over from the marvelous David Hunter a few months ago) I'm happy to say that the show was just as mesmerizing this time as it was the time before. From the moment Ronan started strumming his guitar I felt my heart start racing. Every note played in Once is heavy with emotion, and before you get to know any of the characters, or even get a sense of the story, you can perceive that it's going to be a teary ride. By the time the show reached it's finale I was so swept up in the action, and enamored with the characters, that I didn't want it to end. I could have easily sat for another 2 and a half hours or more and watched Ronan Keating, Jill Winternitz and the rest of the brilliant performers in Once tell me all about what happened after the story finished. But sadly, the show ends on a poignantly bittersweet almost-cliffhanger, and I left the theatre feeling empty yet full, oddly uplifted and completely venerated. My gut was unquestionably wrenched.

I don't think I could ever say enough good things about Once. From the colourful array of brilliant characters played by a cast of hugely talented actor-musicians, to the gorgeous set design and hauntingly atmospheric lighting, every single element of the show is sewn together perfectly. Once is a vibrant patchwork quilt of a show, and a must see for any self respecting theatre fan!

As for my Blind Date over all, I had a fantastic time. My date and I exchanged contact details and I'm certain we'll get in touch with each other soon to discuss all things stagey again. Thank you ATG for this wonderful evening, and thanks also to everyone at the Phoenix Theatre for making my visit so comfortable and enjoyable. I can't wait to read how the other 4 blind daters got on over at the ATG blog, and will link the article HERE if you're interested in seeing what my date thought of me!

Verdict - 4 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome

Review - The Commitments

Ahhh, another Jukebox musical I'd been meaning to see for a while, The Commitments has been open in London since 2013, and has gained mostly favourable reviews, but if you've read much of my blog, you'll know that while I am a HUGE musical theatre fan, jukebox musicals never really appeal to me. However, while I was in London to see Di and Viv and Rose I thought I might as well make a stagey day of it and catch another show too, and with restricted view tickets for the particular show priced at just £13, I basically thought 'why not?' and just went for it.
The story, set in Ireland in the 1980s, follows the trials and tribulations of a group of young musicians (and the trumpeter from the Beatles' All You Need Is Love...because why not?) as they try to achieve stardom, at least locally, with their band The Commitments. Given the context of the story (a poverty stricken 1980s Dublin suburb, where the unemployment rate was high and spirits were low), the story felt appropriate, very grim, gritty and understated, but entertainment-wise, this gave the show a lackluster tone overall. Large chunks of the story felt very rushed, and a lot of the songs were marred by brawls constantly breaking out between characters just as the song was starting to get the crowd going. Hardly any of the characters were fleshed out very much, and most of those that were weren't very likable (with the main exception being Dennis Grindel's Jimmy Rabbitte, the band's exasperated manager). It's such a shame though, because the whole cast gave 110% and I was hugely impressed every single performance.

The cast member whose performance really stood out to me though, was Brian Gilligan as The Commitments' lead singer Decco. His character, while unlikable, was at least entertaining, with a huge personality and a couple of really brilliant comedic moments. Not to mention his soulful powerhouse voice (that sounds like an oxymoron, but if you've seen the show then you hopefuly understand what I mean) which brought down the house in numbers such as Heard it Through the Grapevine and Try a Little Tenderness. The 'Commitmentettes' who mainly provided backing vocals were also incredible, especially when given their time to shine during a solo in act 2.

The set design is also commendable. As a drama student, I love a good, complex, multifaceted set, and on that level this show did not disappoint, with the stage dressed to look like an estate, large set pieces were pulled out from the wings in order to create the appearance of the inside of a house, or a bar, or a garage. I'm don't feel qualified to talk much about the more complex aspects of the set design, so if this is making very little sense then just imaging Christine's dressing room in Phantom...but grimier...and on a much bigger scale.

Overall, for the price of the seats, I can't really complain. The show was enjoyable, but I was never wowed. There was no big showstopping moment for me. In fact, I can't really recall any moment when I felt very much emotion towards anything that happened. It just....happened. But the cast was enthusiastic, and at the end, the audience clapped and cheered and sang along, and it was a nice way to spend an evening. But for me it felt like fluff (y'know, grimy, gritty fluff. Lint from a dilapidated tumble dryer is maybe more in keeping with the show's aesthetic) without much substance.

Verdict - 2 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome

Review - Di and Viv and Rose

Di and Viv and Rose is a show that I probably wouldn't have considered seeing if it weren't for the generosity of +LondonTheatreDirect.com, whose 'Ticket Tuesday' twitter competition I was fortunate enough to have won.

The synopsis which can be read here promises a 'hilarious and heartwarming' story by Amelia Bulmore about the ups and downs in the friendship of 3 students who share a house together at uni, as they grow up and go their separate ways. The bubbly synopsis, accompanied by images of the 3 main characters, dressed in pastels and smiling cheerfully, suggests lighthearted fun and honestly, taking my seat I was expecting nothing more than a few laughs and some fluffy escapism, which is exactly what I got...for the uni-centric first act. But it's act 2, in the years that follow the alcohol and marrow fat pea filled student life, that this heart wrenching play really starts to resonate!
Honestly, this play was really affecting for me. As a young person currently studying at uni, I could laugh along with a lot of the absurd hilarity that sprung from typical student life. I've never had to stick a BluTack ring to the bottom of a semispherical bowl in order to make it usable, as the resourceful Viv did, but I have had to fashion many a wedge out of newspaper in order to stabilize tables, wardrobes, you name it in my own student house! It;s the delightful, little details like this that any uni student past or present can relate to that really gives the play it's humor. But make no mistake, it's not all laughs and pop culture references from the last century! The play has real heart, and really hit home for me. Watching the three friends overcome distance, illness and other commitments, just to keep their friendship alive as the decades slide away from them was really touching and really made me think about my own friends, and how it's so much easier today, with skype and facebook and mobile phones, to keep in touch with one another wherever we are, as opposed to the struggles that Di and Viv and Rose must go through just to catch up with one another for a few hours after they move away from one another.

It wasn't only the characters experiences that I related to either, but their very personalities. I guarantee every member of the audience saw themselves in at least one of the characters. Be it Di (Tamzin Outhwaite), a strong, sporty, sarcastic young woman, very comfortable with her sexuality and trying to impress a girl that she likes, despite the problems that stand in her way. Viv (Samantha Spiro), a somewhat uptight, studious feminist constantly dressed like 'it's the war' and determined to get what she wants, no matter what. Or Rose (Jenna Russell), a bubbly glue which holds the group together, enjoys cooking and looking at 'beautiful things', and manages to sleep her way around the entire university, all while dressed in the clothes that a 9 year old of today might be seen sporting! The characters were individual, unique, relatable and never stereotypical. It was refreshing to see to say the least.

And of course, the cast was remarkable. Every time Jenna Russell opened her mouth, you couldn't help but smile! She gave Rose the perfect balance of childish nativity and witty 'house-mom' worldliness that really endeared her to the audience. Tamzin Outhwaite had a smile that lit up the room and when she spoke a particularly emotional monologue half way through act 2, you could have heard a penny drop in the Vaudeville. But it was the stoic Samantha Spiro that really grabbed my attention. Firstly, her character was the one I saw myself in the most, secondly, she played her character so dryly that you found yourself waiting for her next stroke of veiled sarcastic genius, and thirdly, the way she portrayed her character through the years was truly amazing. So much so that while her character at the end became somewhat unlikable, I still found myself rooting for her! In fact, after one uncharacteristic outburst where she rants and cries about how special the trio's relationship was, I almost felt that an applause was needed then and there. She was breathtaking!  Not to mention the fact that her character's vintage wardrobe was simply enviable. The set was also remarkably different. From the intimacy of the student's living area to the grandeur of a swanky New York apartment, I was continually wowed. In fact the minimalist yet impressive production elements were one of the most notable elements of the whole show.

So all in all, Di and Viv and Rose was a pleasing, fun, but at points heart wrenching two and a half hours. The cast is energetic, the story is full of surprising twists and turns and the script is full of wit and sarcasm. An inspiring play that will leaving wishing you called your friends more often!

Verdict - 3 1/2 Stars

Twitter: @OddJazzShoes
Bloglovin: Talkstageytome