‘Beatsville – The Beatnik Musical’ – Asolo Repertory Theatre – Sarasota, Florida

It’s not often I get home from the theatre and want to sit up half the night writing the review but last night was one of those occasions…  Working in Sarasota, Florida for a short while, I had a look at what shows were playing locally and came across this one at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.  Written by Glenn Slater and Wendy Leigh Wilf, and based on the 1959 Roger Corman film A Bucket of BloodOne of Slater’s first works with Alan Menken was writing the lyrics for the stage production Sister Act the Musical (2006).

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The Mertz Theatre is described on the Asolo website as ‘An elegant 500-seat facility originally built in 1903 as an opera house in Dunfermline, Scotland.’ So the links to the UK and it also being the first state theatre of Florida were enough for me to have a closer look.  The book was by Glenn Slater and music and lyrics by Wendy Leigh Wilf

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So what is ‘Beatsville’ – I couldn’t say it any better than the Asolo Theatre themselves so…

Dig this. One of the most highly anticipated new musicals from one of the hottest writing teams on the planet, Beatsville has its world premiere at Asolo Rep. It’s Greenwich Village, 1959 – the world of subterranean coffee shops, goateed artists, turtle-necked poets, and bongo-playing jazzbos. Tragically square busboy Walter Paisley wants nothing more than to be one of the beatniks, but he has no artistic talent whatsoever. When he accidentally kills a cat and hides it in a lump of clay, “Dead Cat” is declared a masterpiece, and Walter a genius. More “sculptures” bring more acclaim – but will the world discover Walter’s secret? From the writers of Galavant, School of Rock and Tangled comes this hip and hilarious new musical, hang onto your berets – we’re headed to Beatsville!

The whole premise of the show is about fitting in, about understanding what is real and what is fake, both materialistically and in people – a wonderfully heady, entrancing mix of upbeat music and dance, a lot of American Jazz from the fabulous live band, who took their turn on stage from time to time.

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From the moment I walked into the theatre and found my seat I was entranced…  The set was truly spectacular and as the show got underway outside the ‘Yellow Door Cafe’ with ‘Natasha’ played by the brilliant vocalist Cayman Ilika  and ‘The Claude’s’, hilariously played by Charlie Johnson and Connor Russell, we were in for quite a few more set surprises.  The design was ingenious; spinning, alleyways, doors, panels, sometimes colourful and other times just plain grimy, we had it all and the overall effect was sheer brilliance!  Natasha and Claude’s 1 and 2 took us through the whole show, with their musical narration and beautiful movements and physical shapes – the casting was perfect!

I won’t go into the story any more than I have above with the summary as if you get chance to go and see this show you truly won’t be disappointed.  We moved from extremely fast paced dance and vocals, to static shapes by the main cast and the ‘Beatniks’, in typical mannequin challenge style, ensuring the audience focused on the action intended.  The lighting added its own drama as particular events led to their own special effects – the audience came to recognise these as the show went on and could pre-empt what would happen next – all adding to the comedic effect and overall hilarity.

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Max Crumm was a perfect ‘Walter Paisley’ – the geeky outsider who just wanted to fit in… his sidekick was the wonderful Lauren Marcus playing ‘Carla’, the girl geek who had the same ambition worked brilliantly together.  Their vocal duets and chemistry on stage was great to see and hear, and enabled the audience to get swept away with the story…

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Another favourite character was the wonderful ‘Alice’ played by Billie Wildrick.  I have to say she was sensational – her vocals, dance and acting brought the character to life in every scene she was in.  Sheer brilliance!

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I don’t know a time when I laughed so much at the theatre before, and I was not alone, the whole audience joined in with many laugh out loud moments, and ‘Mrs Zwicker’ played by Ann Morrison looking for her ‘Frankie’ (the star of the show) was something special!

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If you do get the opportunity to visit this show, I cannot recommend it enough, the music, dance, brilliant choreography and direction and the story, which kept me guessing right up until the end.

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Theatre Magic!

 

The whole cast were marvellous so wanted to ensure they were all given a mention…

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Photo’s from Asolo Repertory Theatre Web site and photographer – thank you

Get tickets here until May 27th 2017

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Preview – ‘Two’ – JamJar productions – Louth

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I’m really looking forward to this intimate production of the Jim Cartwright’s ‘Two’ with Jamie Harris ad Sophie Grundy at the Studio in Riverhead Theatre, Louth on 9th February.  I have seen several productions from Louth Playgoers, both Directed by Jamie Harris and with Sophie Grundy in various roles and I’m really excited to see how this particular insight into life in a Northern Pub will work in this setting.

Jamie Harris first joined Louth Playgoers in 2010 after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Drama.  In his time at Playgoers he has acted in 18 productions, directed 10 and been the lighting designer on 5.  Recent directing credits include ‘Songs We’ve Always Wanted to Sing’, ‘Sister Act’ (which I absolutely loved!), ‘LPS Christmas Concert’, ‘Practice to Deceive’ and ‘Musical Memories’ (which had some incredible talents on show!).  He also Directed the 2013 Pantomime ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and the 2015 pantomime ‘Beauty and the Beast’.  His most recent acting credits include, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Sleuth’, ‘Practice to Deceive’, ‘Journey’s End; ‘The Ladykillers’ and ‘Me and My Girl’.    I recently saw the Pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’ which Jamie also Directed;  see the review here.  Jamie’s next directing ventures will be ‘LPS Summer Concert 2017’ followed by the 2018 pantomime.

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Jamie Harris in ‘Practice to Deceive’

Sophie Grundy was a delight to watch in the recent pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’. (See link above for my review of that production).  It was her third leading role in pantomime and she told Louth Playgoers “I can’t wait to get back on stage and bring my character ‘Alice’ to life!”.  Sophie recently appeared in ‘Songs We’ve Always Wanted to Sing’, and was a part of the ‘Sister Act’ cast which she said was an incredible experience.  Before Dick Whittington, her last acting role was a Princess Rose in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in 2013.  However, her most recent work was as Assistant Director on ‘Sleuth’ which was shown in July in the Studio Theatre at the Riverhead,  she also found that a great experience.  Sophie is really looking forward to performing in this production of ‘Two’ with Jamie Harris, despite the show being only a week before her wedding!  (It’s certainly one way of taking your mind off your big day Sophie!)

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Sophie Grundy in ‘Dick Whittington’

Louth Playgoers Say of this production:

From the company that brought you the sellout production of “Sleuth,” JamJar productions is proud to bring you Jim Cartwright’s “Two.” This classic play from 1989 gives an intimate insight into the colourful life of a Northern pub, via a rich tapestry of witty, moving and at times heartwarming dialogue. A bickering landlord and landlady, along with a further 12 pub regulars who enter their lives, are brought to the stage by just 2 actors. You’ll laugh at the flirtatious Moth and his long suffering girlfriend Maude, you’ll hate the aggressive Roy and feel for his abused wife Lesley, and you’ll fall in love with Fred and Alice who just want to sit alone and watch the tele! A play which takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, it is both hilarious,heart wrenching and above all honest. So pull up a barstool before last orders are called!

‘Two’ is running in ‘The Studio Theatre’, part of Riverhead in Louth on 9th, 10th and 11th February.  The tickets for this ‘up close and personal’ performance are very limited and are selling well, so ensure you book now to avoid disappointment.

Watch out for my review of this show on 10th February!

Box Office

Telephone: 01507 600350
The Box Office is open for advanced booking every Monday to Saturday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

The Riverhead Theatre
Victoria Road
Louth
LN11 0BX

Email: admin@louthplaygoers.co.uk

Photo’s courtesy of Darren Hobson Photography

Review – ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ CAODS

 

From 26th October to 5th November 2016, Lincolnshire’s County Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS) presented the fabulous ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ in the New Theatre Royal Lincoln.

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Having seen and been thoroughly impressed with last years award winning production of ‘Sister Act’, I was really looking forward to CAODS being back at the New Theatre Royal Lincoln with their production of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’.  The stage musical was made popular by the 1988 MGM film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, and although I remembered the story up to a point (it’s been years since I’ve watched the film), the musical version takes us on a delightful journey through some great twists and turns, learning about the brilliant characters and their ever-changing personalities.

The costumes, make up and props were very authentic and with it being staged in the beautiful French Riviera, there was scope for luxury and affluence which were both found in abundance.  Neil Martin, Company Manager,  (The Complete Design Company) created a fabulously designed set, with beautifully moving scenery and set pieces taking us from the hotel lobby, terrace, balcony, villa lounge and bedroom, station and airport.  The lighting really brought the stage to life; the sunshine and beauty of the daylight, and then the moon casting it’s glorious romantic light on the evening scenes.

Musical Director, David Williams, played keyboards and led the full orchestra in the pit and he also worked with the cast to produce an overall glorious sound combining both the harmonies and solo voices beautifully.

It was fabulous to see some of Adam Korwin-Slepowronski’s signature dance moves from ‘Classes with Adam‘;  and my favourite moment, although there were many, was the ‘crutches’ scene at the end of ‘love is my legs’,  The whole audience erupted with laughter.

It was obvious that Director Janie Smith had worked with the cast to bring an authentic French vibe to the whole performance.  The audience were made to feel they were in the French Riviera and were immersed in every scene… the comic timing, the romantic looks and the fabulous twist at the end all combined to make a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable performance.

My stand out moment in the whole show, was my buddy Dawn Wilson, playing Hotel Receptionist, Mathilde…  her comic timing was impeccable with ‘that lift’, and I loved her cameo as a nun!

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Apart from one or 2 sound glitches and having to work on a very small stage, the whole show was superb, and worthy of any national theatre.  The lead roles were played exceptionally well by Ian George Norton, Christian Thomas Norton, Imogen Phillis, Andrew Wydrzynski , Helen Elizabeth Rae and Emily Mason-Hill.

The musical features a delightfully jazzy score by David Yazbek (The Full Monty), the Broadway production was nominated for a staggering 11 Tony Awards

Some comments made by my friends about the production:

 

“This show needs to tour on the west end with this cast”

“Fantastic show. Well done cast thank you for giving us all a wonderful experience. Thanks that is to everyone involved in the production. x”

“Brilliantly funny show “

“Great laugh and a well polished show “

“Went along last night, you were all Fab!”

“Well done scoundrels an amazing show !! Again ❤”

“Just been to see dirty rotten scoundrels. What a show! Laughed ’til I cried. Well done Dawn Wilson, Imogen Phillis, Alex Gillard, Emma Kirkup, Adam Matthew Korwin-Slepowronski, Helen Elizabeth Rae and everyone else involved. Brilliant!”

“Well done CAODS friends on a top performance last night of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Lincoln Theatre Royal. I hope you have a wonderful last day today and all those bugs do one so that you can all enjoy it! X
If you’re at a loss for something to do this afternoon, get down to the theatre to see it. You’ll love the show and the newly spruced up theatre.”

“Well done last night CAODS and break a leg for your final two shows today xx

Lovely to see you all Dawn Wilson, Emma Bowler, Ian George Norton, Christian Thomas Norton,  Ben Atkinson”

“‘Twas the dirtiest, rottenest, Scoundrelist ?? Show EVER ! ~ snooze ya’ lose …if ya’ haven’t been to see it … GO TODAY! ~ best wishes from me on your last leg! ~ ‘break one’ for all of us that have ❤loved ❤this hilarious show ! ~ xx”

“Have a fabulous last show day. Loved it just as much last night as I did last week. Both my girls really enjoyed it too 😘”

It was really outstanding, well done to you all.

“Great job last night. Well done CAODS. A really entertaining show; I have not laughed so much in ages!”

“Hey you Scoundrels! Thanks for a fantastic show, especially loved the Ruprect and Oklahoma numbers. Well done CAODS.”

“It was excellent, very well done, well performed, I particularly liked the Oklahoma number, and thought the best scene in the whole thing was Andrew’s balcony scene!! Please pass on my congratulations to everyone x”

“Oh my goodness ….. home after watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for the second time!! 💕💕💕💕Love this so very much …. laughed out loud (ooops VERY loud) …. whooped … clapped … and thoroughly enjoyed this amazingly hysterically funny show … if I could find the time I would be back tomorrow 💕💕💕💕 ….. thank you so much to all my CAODS family, production team, orchestra … you are all fantastic 😘😘😘 …… Dave Taylor … saw you having a cheeky cough but well done for carrying on !! 💕💕💕

Knowing most of you lovely people have ‘the bug’ also knowing how tired you are all getting … cast,crew,production team and orchestra… I take my hat off to each and every one of you … The show is just so slick, polished, the props are gorgeous, the scenery and costumes are breathtaking 💕💕💕 loved loved loved it 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕”

“Fantastic evening watching CAODS Dirty Rotten Scoundrels! It was so good & so funny! Definitely recommend it. Big well done to Helen Elizabeth Rae, Imogen Phillis, Emma Kirkup, Dawn Wilson and anyone else I’ve missed off!”

“What a fabulous show CAODS! Brilliant … Loved it! Get tickets….must see it!! Fabulous performances and stunning singing!”

 

(Thank you to Lester McKone, Steve Nash and Niel Martin for use of their photographs)