Tag Archives: birmingham hippodrome

The Lion King Review!

The Lion King (Fri 28 Jun – Sat 28 Sep)

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Last night, I saw one of Disney’s most-loved musicals brought to life on stage, and when I say brought to life, I mean brought to life. It was everything you could have hoped ‘The Lion King’ to be, and more.

The opening to the show, was the best I have ever seen, being immediately drawn into what was going on. It started with a visual explosion on stage, whilst listening to the most amazing vocals and harmonies that made my hairs stand on end! The much-loved ‘Circle of Life’ was soon belted out, during which, the house-lights raised leaving the audience turning around to see what was going on – the cast, in their animal costumes, were dancing down the aisles. It was an amazing opening and I really am not doing it justice, you have to go and see the show to see just how jaw-dropping it was. It left the audience completely eager and on the edge of their seats to watch what was going to happen next.

The architecture of the costumes were works of art, each and every outfit was so well thought-out and you could definitely tell how much hard work was put into the planning of them. The thing I loved most, was that the masks were raised above the actors’ heads, meaning you could still see their expressions and know where each voice was coming from. It was so clever how they managed to capture the identifying movements  through the use of puppets and models of the animals.

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The costumes for the gazelles were brilliant, not only were dancers portraying the movements of the animal, but they had models of the gazelles attached to them which reflected of the dancers movements as they leapt gracefully on stage (see below).

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One of the things that was different in this musical, which I had never seen done in other musicals before but I really loved, was in the balconies on each side of the theatre, you could actually see people playing the african drums and percussion; this made the show feel much more authentic and real. The music in the whole show was fantastic and the musical director Jon Ranger deserves a vast amount credit for making the show as big a hit as it is.

The set was really effective in portraying the scene where the wilder beasts are chasing Simba and it was genius  who this was achieved. A lot of the set was also people, whether they were meant to look like rocks or grass, I really loved that touch.

Onto the characters: young Nala and young Simba were played by Donica Elliston and Joshua Cameron who were the two cutest kids with so much sass! I thought they were amazing, especially for their age and played their roles so well – they were definitely made to be on stage! Adult Simba was played by Nicholas Nkuna and Nala played by Carole Stennett were all-round incredible. They both put so much emotion into their performances and their singing was flawless. I really think they gave the characters of Nala and Simba justice!

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Rafiki definitely had the most effortless and unique voice out of everyone and I loved the character she played. Gugwana Dlamini who played the part, is definitely a very talented actress. However, it has to be said, the most fun characters were  Zazu (Meilyr Sion), Timon (played by John Hasler) and Pumbaa (played by Mark Roper). They were hilarious and put so much energy into their roles. What made this even better is that you could tell they were really enjoying themselves. Zazu was everyone’s favourite talented, fun-loving guardian. The line dancing of Timon and Pumbaa was genuinely hysterical and I fell about laughing; this being a complete contrast of emotion to – the euphoria of the opening scene, later sorrow at various ‘tragedies’  and anger towards the show baddy, Uncle Scar (Stephen Carlile). Scar’s make up, posture and facial expressions truly conveyed a sinister character, we all rejoiced at his defeat.

Disney’s award-winning musical of course had a standing ovation, rightly so, as the atmosphere was just incredible, as was the acting, singing, dancing, costumes, set… the list could go on and on. I’ve never wanted to recommend a show as much as I recommend this one, out of every show I have ever seen in my life, this is by far my favourite. The passion, energy and effort that went into the show was out of this world. The show was a full emersion experience where sound, song and sight came together perfectly. It had everything a show should have and way way more, I liked the film but I adored it on stage.

For more information and to book tickets for the show click here.

Some of these photos shown were taken by me, to see more click here.

I am a blogger and member of Birmingham Hippodrome’s First Night Scheme, offering £5 tickets to 16-21 year olds – CLICK HERE to join the scheme for free.

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Hairspray Review

Hairspray

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The much loved musical, Hairspray, has arrived at Birmingham Hippodrome for a two week period. Having read about the opening night standing ovation, I was even more excited to see it, especially as it is one of my favourite films.

The cast, well what can I say, they were amazing. Mark Benton, best known for playing “Daniel ‘Chalky’ Chalk” on BBC’s Waterloo Road, played the fantastic character of Edna Turnblad. He was joined by understudy Wendy Somerville as Velma Von Tussle, X Factor finalist Marcus Collins as the all-singing, all-dancing Seaweed Stubbs and Freya Sutton who played the famous Tracy Turnblad.

You would never have guessed that the same Mark Benton, who plays a nervous wreck on Waterloo Road, is the same glitzy drag artist. He really was fantastic and even when his character slipped, it was lovely to see his personality shine through amidst roaring laughter from the audience, who lapped it up. This was particularly evident in his duet with ‘his husband’ Wilbur Turnblad, played by Paul Rider, which left the audience in stitches. He looked like the stereotype of a comedy double act and couldn’t have played the part any better if the film version is anything to go by.

Before the show had even began, I was sure I’d love the character that Marcus Collins plays – Seaweed is one of my favourites in the film. I already knew he could sing but boy can he move! He was so flexible that he could have been made of elastic and you could tell he really was born to be on stage.

I thought Freya Sutton had tough competition as some of the other cast members were quite well known. However, she was the biggest stage personality, being so full of life and reveling in her role. Luke Striffler, who played Link Larkin was every bit the heart-throb, with his moves, grooves and tunes. His passion was evident in everything from  ‘the motion of the ocean’ to the ‘sun in the sky’. He really couldn’t stop the beat!

Corny Collins, played by Piers Bate, lived up to the characters name and was indeed, ‘corny’, nailing the part. However, I must say, an unforgettable character was Lauren Hood who played geeky Penny Pingleton. Her energy and stage presence had us transfixed, and her ability to stay in her gawky role throughout even all the dance moves, really shows just what a talent she is (and a real highlight of the show)!

Gemma Sutton (Amber Von Tussle) and her equally spoilt mother (Wendy Somerville) made a fearsome duo with their scheming plans and diva behaviour. However, the show really couldn’t have been in the ‘standing ovation on a Wednesday night category’ without being completed by the chorus: Lou-Anne, Brad, IQ, Shelly, Tammy, Brenda, Fender and Sketch who put on a fabulous show. I particularly loved the novelty and skill of the musical director’s solo spot. Peter White showed off his orchestra’s talents, whilst building the audience for the second half.

The set was bright and colourful, just how it should be and worked well with this stage adaption of this much-loved musical.

In case you can’t tell already, I absolutely adored Hairspray and would recommend it to absolutely anyone, of any age, who loves musical theatre. I just found it hard not being able to sing along at the top of my voice to some of my favourite tunes but that didn’t stop me from belting out renditions the whole way home… I just wish I could now be ‘welcomed to the 60’s’!

For more information or to book tickets click here.

Here’s what some of the audience members had to say during the interval!

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Me with Marcus Collins (and other X Factor contestants) in 2012!

I am a blogger and member of Birmingham Hippodrome’s First Night Scheme, offering £5 tickets to 16-21 year olds – CLICK HERE to join the scheme for free.

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Sutra Review

Sutra Review

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Sutra hit the stage at Birmingham Hippodrome last night and it certainly was not one to be missed. I had no idea what to expect but after watching the show, I was so glad to have witnessed their acrobatic feats.

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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Review

 Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (Fri 1 Feb – Sat 2 Feb)

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Before the dancers had even taken centre stage, I knew I was in for a treat. As the audience took their seats, and just minutes before the performance was about to begin there was a few minute long voice-over which left the audience in hysterics. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was certainly a show I will never forget.

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Review of ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates’

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My full review of Birmingham Hippodrome’s panto ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates’, starring Brian Conley and Lesley Joseph can be viewed here

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