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THE GREAT COMET of 1812 at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway

Natasha Pierre’s THE GREAT COMET 1812 at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway has received 12 nominations for the Tony Awards. As soon as you enter the theatre it is clear that this is more of an event than a play. One enters a spectacular night club and it is clear that the action is going to be all around. I can imagine that working if In fact I was in a night club and the evening was supplemented by this entertainment whilst I was enjoying an evening with friends. There is some very interesting musical arrangements and some good performances. Many moments worth remembering such as the rousing chorus sang by the cast from the rear mezzanine.

The fact that I had paid $170 for a seat in the front mezzanine a Broadway show altered my perspective somewhat. Clever staging is not enough. I can get this at Cirque du Soleil or more authentic events such as the incredible “Parade” in Amsterdam. This was a show based on the characters of “War and Peace”. I only followed the vague story because I saw an excellent BBC dramatisation last year. Most will have no concept of story from this production. I found it tedious in the extreme in the first act. If this content was presented on a stage it would be close to dire.

The second act was better possibly because it was shorter and there was a notably more of Josh Groban who is a world class singer. He acts rather brilliantly too. I am not deliberately swimming against the hype. Perhaps this was great expectations being dashed but I left the theatre for the second time ever on Broadway feeling very underwhelmed.

DEAR EVAN HANSON at The Music Box Theatre on Broadway

DEAR EVAN HANSEN at The Music Box Theatre on Broadway deserves the nine Tony nominations and in my humble opinion should sweep the board with Awards. The score by Benj Pasek and lyrics by Justin Paul are emotionally deep. Two musical numbers led to tears running down my cheeks because of their resonance. Steven Levenson has written an original and compelling book.

Ben Platt gives one of the most incredible performances I have ever experienced. The emotional force e created on stage is a phenomenon. Exceptional supporting cast particularly Rachel Bay Jones.

The intelligent scenic and lighting design with a beautiful string orchestration exquisitely played by the band wraps this gem in more levels of masterful storytelling.

WAITRESS at Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway

Sara Bereilles wrote the music and lyrics to the show WAITRESS. Sara played the lead at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway. What a heartwarming wonderful show full of beautiful musical numbers and great comedy. Sara Bereilles has captured that incredible essence of small town American South. Her performance was astounding.

A cast of wonderful characters give great depth to this very entertaining show. Charity Angel Dawson is sassy and sexy. Caitlin Houlahan is whimsical and endearing. Chris Diamantopoulus is adorably handsome. Will Swenson is a likeable dead beat. Christopher Fitzgerald is a hilarious odd ball. Dakin Mathews is an old grump with a heart of gold and Eric Anderson is the long suffering boss. I was smiling from curtain up and still when leaving the theatre

COME FROM AWAY at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway

COME FROM AWAY at the Gerald Schonfeld Theatre on Broadway is the story of passengers stranded because of aircraft grounded during 911 and the locals who hosted them in Newfoundland.

This is a powerful drama about exceptional human kindness beautifully told through an ensemble cast of 12 that represent 16000 people. It feels distinctly Canadian and that is an important part of the charm of this show. The true characters and true stories around this transformational world event make this show both important and relevant.

I felt both enlightened and entertained. The cast and the folksy band are simply awesome and their delivery together with the power of this story gives this show a good chance to take Best Musical Award at next weekend’s Tony Award Ceremony.

SHE LOVES ME at the Chocolate Meunier Factory

SHE LOVES ME at the Chocolate Meunier Factory is a a 1963 Broadway musical based on the 1940 movie “Little Shop around the Corner” (which would be a much better title these days!). What an absolutely delightful musical. Great material with a great cast. I loved it.

Paul Farnsworth’s Little Shop set was the best I have ever seen at the Meunier and provided exactly the right setting for this first class production. I just adore Scarlett Strallen and she is practically perfect in every single way in the lead. Katherine Kingsley is a class act and her comic performance playing off Dominic Tighe is award winning. Les Dennis brings just the right amount of charm to his role and the young Callum Howells is both cute and very funny. Luke Fetherston and Matt Crandon can both dance their socks off and I would love to see them on a bigger stage.

 

LA STRADA at the Birmingham Rep

LA STRADA at the Birmingham Rep is a devised play with music based on the subject and script work of the Frederico Fellini movie. I thought it was fabulous. There is something about the democracy of the process in a truly a devised production where every member of the team is truly invested in the whole. There is an integrity to the play which allows one to experience a unique a connection to the underlying flow of ideas which makes for a more powerful and longer lasting theatrical experience. Audrey Brisson, Stuart Goodwin and Bart Soroczynski provide exceptional performances at the core of this beautiful ensemble performance. Quite wonderful.

 

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO at The Palace Theatre

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO at the Palace Theatre are a must for any Potter fan and it will run and run and run. It is an incredible achievement after the success of the books and the movies to create the world of Harry Potter in the theatre. We are asked to “keep the secrets” and I will of course respect that as important so that every theatre goer enjoys these plays to the full. In the most general terms I will say that the medium of theatre has allowed the designers to create some incredibly thrilling scenes.

I have to be honest that Part One left me feeling completely thrilled and chomping at the bit to return the next night for Part Two. There were aspects of Part One which I just could not imagine how the second instalment could match and I was right. Part Two was still incredibly entertaining but it did not match part One. My feeling was that there was too much attention given to the relationships between the main characters and the necessary moving on of the main plot and not enough stage time to the more colourful and interesting characters. I don’t want to mention any specific names so as to spoil the surprises.