26 September 2020

Script In Hand Podcast

Following a successful first season, the Script in Hand podcast will return for a second season. The podcast will return this autumn to dissect scripts, talk play texts and explore characters from a mix of well-known playwrights and some lesser-known gems. The podcast is co-hosted by up-and-coming directors and script enthusiasts Lexie Ward and Meg Robinson and will delve into a diverse array of 12 hand-picked plays and will be joined by guest speakers throughout the season.

The first season (which is available wherever you get your podcasts) has seen the ladies cover plays including Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Mischief Theatre's The Play That Goes Wrong, Chekhov's Three Sisters and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's Emilia

The second season will kick off on October 7th with POSH by Olivier Award-winning playwright Laura Wade. Lexie and Meg will be joined by the first special guest of the season, director and JMK runner up 2019 Oscar Toeman to discuss what makes POSH the perfect play for current times.  

Lexie Ward, co-founder of Script in Hand, says; “Playwrights really are the most talented and genius folk, this is basically our love letter to them and their work. We were simply over the moon and staggered by the response from our first season, feedback was incredible and it’s made us even more excited for the launch of season 2.” When asked about what followers can expect from the season, Lexie continued “We’ve spent our down-time putting together an incredible programme of wonderful scripts and have managed to secure some special guests who will bring a fresh approach and new angle to the discussion. There’s clearly an appetite for a podcast like this and we hope our listeners enjoy discovering new plays or revisiting ones they’re familiar with at a new level.”

A selection of plays the ladies will cover.

Season 2 will also see an array of special guests grace the ‘podcast couch’ including directors Kash Arshad and Alasdair Hunter, and playwright Tatty Hennessy, author of A Hundred Words for the Snow, who will provide a backstage pass to the inner workings of her text. 

Script in Hand is available across all podcasting platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, simply search ‘Script in Hand’. Listen again to the whole of season 1 on-demand and join the team for season 2 on October 7th with a new episode released every Wednesday. 

Find out more on Twitter & Instagram; ‘ScriptInHandPod’ across all social media platforms.





24 September 2020

Romantic Anonymous - Live Stream Review.

Nothing can beat live theatre but thanks for Wise Children we've finally got a taste of live performance again even if it's from our own homes. Emma Rice's company have revived their critically acclaimed production of Romantic Anonymous for the week streaming it live and direct from The Bristol Old Vic stage into homes across the country and internationally as part of their virtual tour (I watched as part of the Midlands date, where it allows you to buy stream tickets through a local theatre) and it's utterly magnificent.

This whimsical joyous production felt like eating an entire box of chocolate treats. Every bite delivered enjoyment and warmth inside. Right from the get-go and the pre-show countdown with audience noise to Emma Rice's opening introduction, I felt quite emotional. Just being able to see a performance that's live (granted on a screen) again was so magical. 

A fantastic Carly Bawden as Angélique.
Photo Steve Tanner.

The musical tells the tale of Angélique (Carly Bawden), a gifted chocolate maker who is crippled with social anxiety, and Jean-René (Marc Antolin), boss of failing chocolate factory. Both characters are excellently drawn out. Whether is Angélique fainting when anyone looked at her or Jean-René who breaks out into embarrassing sweats. Once you break through their layers these two characters are perfectly matched as their love story develops.

One of the piece's biggest strengths is the warm relatable characters and performances that fill this delightful French world. The fragility is captured perfectly. Carly Bawden is particularly effective at catching Angélique inner anxiety. She is radiant from the get-go and has a really lovely stage presence. Marc Antolin is both tremendously awkward, with moments like the restaurant scene where Jean-René runs into swap his shirt to hide his sweats until he comes back in a different colour, and a delight to watch as he embodies the character's journey throughout the piece.

The piece is further enhanced by the talented company who all play more than one role. There's some fine work from the all of these company, from the always watchable Gareth Snook, a brilliant Sandra Marvin, Me'sha Bryan, Omari Douglas, Laura Jane Matthewson, Harry Hepple and Philip Cox (watch out for his hilarious moments during 'Savoir Faire'). I applaud the work of all the cast from creating an isolated bubble to get the show on to fantastic performances.

The cast of Romantics Anonymous. Photo by Steve Tanner.

This quirky romance has great musical numbers written by Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman. They fit the style of the piece perfectly. Let's hope there's a cast recording in the works as I'd love to listen to the songs again. How great to have a brilliant live band too, here under the musical direction of Tom Brady. Emma Rice's book and direction allow the story to breathe and unfold beautifully. Etta Murfitt's delicate choreography further fits into the setting of the piece. Lez Brotherson's stage and costume design and Malcolm Rippeth's lighting design is effective, especially the use of various neon signs which set the scene of where the action of the story is happening.

The production really uses the camera well, especially with characters looking directly into the lens so you feel like they're directly talking to you. Whilst we can't be in the theatre currently, this really is the next best thing. The team who have gotten this week of live-streamed performances together really must be congratulated. It's perfectly captured and is a thoroughly enjoyable 2 and a half hours.

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. A gorgeous outstanding production that brings out all the warm feelings and reminds us why we love live performance. Unmissable.

The show is being streamed all this week with shows on Thurs 24th Sept and Fri 25th Sept at 7.30pm UK tour time and Saturday 26th Sept at 9pm. There's a captioned and audio described showing on Monday 28th Sept at 7.30pm. Each night is being streamed as part of a virtual tour. Check out https://romanticsanonymous.com/ to book and for more information. The trailer is below.

22 September 2020

10 Songs from 10 Shows.

Hey guys, it's been a little while since I posted anything on my site. Firstly I hope that you're all keeping well during this still difficult time. It's been great to see big news of shows coming back, like Six, Everybody's Talking About Jamie, The National Theatre and more. Hopefully with any of the new guidelines coming in that theatres are still able to open to socially distanced audiences. The only live performance I've seen is a couple of the brilliant RSC's Shakespeare Snapshots in Stratford-Upon-Avon. I am due to see Rent at The Hope Mill Theatre in November which is super exciting.

I've thought of a, hopefully, fun blog post to return with. I'm going to pick 10 stage musicals and chose my favourite song from that show's soundtrack and tell you why I picked that song. I'd love to see you guys have a go with the same shows too (or your own 10) and let me know what you're favourite songs from those show are.

Les Miserables - Master of the House

It's quite hard to choose a standout number from the sung-through iconic French Revolution set musical. It's a great credit to the work of Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel (original French lyrics) and Herbert Kretzmer that Les Miserables continues to thrive on any stage it plays. I've chosen 'Master of the House' as it's probably one of the songs I'd listen to most from the soundtrack. The song is sung by the Thenardier's and the ensemble in their tavern. It's a joyous celebration of these two pompous characters.

Hamilton - Dear Theodosia

Pre-lockdown and Hamilton's subsequent release on Disney + I'd steered clear of the show presuming it wouldn't really interest me as I'm not a big fan of rap music. I was wrong here. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show, it's been brilliant captured and performed with a superb original cast. I do dip in and out of the soundtrack rather than listening to it straight through and I've become obsessed with the number 'Dear Theodosia' in particular, which comes just before the end of Act One. It's beautifully sung by Leslie Odom Jr and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Wicked - As Long As You're Mine

Stephen Schwart's score to Wicked is much loved internationally and the show enjoys incredible runs on Broadway, on the West End and beyond. This Wizard of Oz 'prequel' has had phenomenal success since it premiered back in 2003. I've had the joy of seeing some incredible Elphaba's in the show; Kerry Ellis, Willemijn Verkaik and Nicki Bentley. Picking a number from the show was difficult as I could have easily chosen 'Dancing Through Life', 'Defying Gravity' or 'No Good Deed' but I've always had a soft spot for the romantic ballad 'As Long As You're Mine' sung in the second act by Elphaba and Fiyero as their romance blossoms. 

Six - Six

Six is undoubtedly one of the biggest theatrical success stories in the last few years. This British musical, which began life as a student show and has gone on to have an open-ended run in the West End and was due to open on Broadway around the time the pandemic shut theatres. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss have created a masterpiece telling the stories of Henry VIII's six wives from their perspectives in a 75-minute pop concert style show. It's both educational and joyous. Each of the Queen's gets their own number to shine in but it's the big final number that I've gone for. 'Six' celebrates the Queen's as they come together as a band and celebrate themselves.

Phantom of the Opera - Past the Point of No Return

Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical is rightly renowned as one of the best musicals of all time. With music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart, the show has been a hit worldwide. Set in the Paris Opera House it tells the tale of a mysterious Phantom and his attraction to young soprano Christine Daae. I was very split in choosing and nearly went for 'Masquerade' but I love 'Past The Point of No Return' which is sung by The Phantom and Christine during the premiere of the Phantom's Don Juan Triumphant. It's a beautiful piece.

Mamma Mia - Voulez-Vous

The jukebox musical with the music of Abba has defied all expectations. A West End run of over 20 years, worldwide productions and 2 box office smash films. The musical tells the story of Sophie who finds her mum's diary and discovers she has 3 possible fathers all of whom she invites to her impending wedding. The back catalogue of Abba means the show is full to the brim of amazing musical numbers ranging from 'Dancing Queen', 'Mamma Mia', 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimmie,' and 'The Winner Takes It All' but my personal favourite from the show is 'Voulez-Vous' which closes Act One in the stage production.

Waitress - Take It From An Old Man

The stage musical adaptation of the 2007 movie is bolstered with a book by Jessie Nelson and music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. For me, it was certainly a case of the music being better than the show. It's only more recently following on from watching Little Voice on Apple TV (which I highly recommend) that I've appreciated the superb work by Bareilles. I only caught it once during it's run in London which sadly was curtailed by the COVID pandemic but will be more than willing to give it another go on its UK tour which is planned for 2021. I know many will disagree with my choice here but I just love 'Take It From An Old Man' sung by the character Joe to Jenna.

Rocky Horror Show - Don't Dream It (Be It)

This was probably the hardest of the 10 to pick for me. It's the musical I've seen the most (some 60 + times!) and is full of incredible songs including 'The Time Warp', 'Sweet Transvestite', 'Hot Patootie', 'Once In A While', 'I'm Going Home' and more! I've gone with 'Don't Dream It (Be It)' though as it's such a powerful message and lyrically it's stunning. The music work by Richard O'Brien throughout the piece is second to none. Rocky Horror is fast approaching its 50th anniversary and it's still as incredible and joyously relevant as ever.

West Side Story - Gee, Officer Krupke

With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most iconic musicals of all time. The musical is inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and is set in the Upper West Side of New York, it explores the rivalry between two gangs The Sharks and The Jets. I hadn't seen the musical until I saw it at Curve last Christmas and what an incredible production. Jamie Muscato as Tony and Adriana Ivelisse as Maria were stunning and so perfectly cast. I've chosen 'Gee, Officer Krupke' sung by some of the Jets as they lampoon Officer Krupke.

Dear Evan Hansen - You Will Be Found

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have had some remarkable success over the last few years including La La Land, The Greatest Showman but arguably their best work is on the musical Dear Evan Hansen. It's a stunning soundtrack full of incredible musical numbers. The musical deals heavily with mental health and is very powerful - I defy you to not cry especially during 'Words Fail' in the second act. The musicals most iconic number is the act one finale 'You Will Be Found' which is an anthem of no matter what you'll always be found because they'll always be someone there for you.

I hope that was a fun little read for you. Let me know what your picks for your favourite song from these 10 shows would be.

Take care and look after yourselves and each other.

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