Showtime

by Hazel Kyte

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Woodside Park Synagogue or the United Synagogue.

 

BRILLIANT START TO JEWISH BOOK WEEK - On Saturday night, had the pleasure of Steven Berkoff interview at Kings Place following his new book 'A World Elsewhere', followed by 'The Merchant Speaks' playreading and discussion of anti-semitism with first class panel including Janet Suzman and Anthony Julius. Tuesday at JW3 William Miller (son of Jonathan Miller) was interviewed by Brian Daniels, with excerpts from his book  Gloucester Crescent. Wednesday at JW3 saw a full audience for a Gershwin tribute - and Saturday night I am back at Kings Place for Mrs. Parker of New York - about Dorothy Parker. It is always a very social outing, where you meet up with old friends.

 

THE BATTLE OF CABLE STREET - ARCOLA

Again, Berkoff on top form, giving his one man prose/poetry piece on the history of the battle of Cable Street, and his own East End reminiscences. Second time I have seen this, and consider it 'unmissable'.

 

THE CUTTING EDGE - ARCOLA THEATRE

A new play written and directed by Jack Shepherd finds a young couple trying 'the good life' in the country, against difficult odds - add an assortment of uninvited guests whilst Anna, the wife tries to prepare for a dinner party, a lot of booze, and nothing much happening - the highlight of the evening being the performance of Maggie Steed as Elvira 'visiting old haunts'.

 

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES - PARK THEATRE

This is a new adaptation by Simon Callow of Jean Poiret's play - (which of course became the wonderful musical by Jerry Herman) Well acted, great costumes, a 'fun piece' bordering on farce cum panto, with lots of 'rushing around'... and a very appreciative audience. Must make special mention of Syrus Lowe as Jacob - the 'maid' - fantastic and enjoying every moment, making him a joy to behold.

 

DEAR EVAN HANSEN - NOEL COWARD

In from New York, where it was a Tony winner for best musical, I would call this a play with music rather than a musical. The story is strong, about teenagers who are 'outsiders', and how by 'confusion' Evan becomes a media hero...Good performances, and voices, but not the song and dance 'smile on your face' musical from which you come out humming the tunes.

 

THE MIKVAH PROJECT - ORANGE TREE THEATRE

Very strong new play by Josh Azouz, directed by Georgia Green, about relationship between Avi (Alex Waldman) an orthodox happily married man in his early 30s, and Eitan (Josh Zare) a l7 year old boy, members of the same congregation, who meet at the MIKVAH, which they dug together.  The young boy develops a 'crush' on the older man.  Would point out there is some 'discreet' nudity, as they go into the ritual baths. Extremely well acted, and though short, l hour and 5 minutes, totally holds your attention.  I am surprised that this is at Richmond, as would have thought it would be a West End or North London production. The set is also very realistic

 

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS. - UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE

 Now, this is what I call a 'musical' - a fairy story with a difference, as story of  'the princess and the pea' is turned into, in their words 'a musical about love, lechery and a legume' with music by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer - book by Barer, Jay Thompson and Dean Fuller.  This is a fun piece, for all ages, presented with the usual 'pazzazz' of The Gatehouse, in no way inhibited by their small stage space. The set is clever, the costumes effective, and the performances, song, and dance all first class - orchestra too... Look, it's cold and wet outside, no one wants to go on the tube... so for a good night out, you can't beat this for a family outing.

THE HAYSTACK - HAMPSTEAD

Directed by Roxana Silbert, the new Artistic Dirtector of Hampstead, this world premiere play written by Al Blyth, is  by far the best production of the season. Extremely well acted, it is the story of Neil and Zef two twenty something geeks total computer whizz guys who get involved weith National Defence and Security - with a romance lurkiing amid the story, this is a superb 'keep you on the edge of your seat thriller '- highly recommended and now extended run. Shades of l984.

 

ON MCQUILLAN'S HILL - FINBOROUGH THEATRE

Again a premiere, writen by Joseph Crilly, ,set in Ulster in l999, it has an extremely competent cast, a complex story of family relationships, and continuation of the 'troubles' in Ireland... not always easy to follow the dialect, and one would have thought it was a revival of a much older piece.

 

THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS - BRIDEWELL THEATRE

Totally brilliant production of this musical parody, where one story is told in style if various composers - Rogers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Gerry Herman, Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb, cannot recommend it highly enough, we sat with smiles on our faces throughout the extremely clever re-writes by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart, and great performance by the multi talented cast of six, good voices, dancing and characterisation. Don't miss it!!!!

BE MORE CHILL - THE OTHER PALACE

Lively musical based on book by Ned Vizzini, tells how teenage angst stops 'boy getting girl' until boy is helped by 'super computer' in his head which makes him 'cooler'. Musc and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz, this comes in for a limited season from New York - good music and lyrics - story that youngsters engage with, I see this being a 'cult hit' - certainly from the enthusiasm of the audience, who whooped with delight at the excellent performances, songs and choreography in this fun story. Loud and zappy - warning, beware what you spend your 'bar mitzvah' money on!!!

 

ELTON JOHN - IT''S A LITTLE BIT FUNNY - UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE

Never having been an Elton John Fan must say I thoroughly enjoyed this - the sheer energy of Martin Kaye, not to mention his brilliant performance both on piano, singing, and regaling his 'story' -  an Elton fan 'living the dream' in Vegas. Chris Burgess, the writer,is always first class, and well on form with this piece, directed by Ben Stock. Excellent stage design, by Ben Rogers. I am always amazed by the sheer standared of excellence which comes from Upstairs at the Gatehouse, with local prices for West End quality.   Watch out for ONCE UPON A MATTRESS and JEWISH HOLLYWOOD coming shortly.

 

BIG NEWS - MY PERSONAL ALL TIME FAVOURITE ON THE CABARET SCENE - MARK NADLER (MR. PERSONALITY) IS COMING TO THE PHEASANTRY, CHELSEA, FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY - SATURDAY MARCH 14TH, 8.30 PM - MARK IS A PIANIST, SINGER AND ALL ROUND ENTERTAINER.... WITH HIS SHOW 'THE OLD RAZZLE DAZZLE' - AN EVENNG OF LIES AND LIARS SHOW PRICE £25 AND PIZZA EXPRESS VENUE.... SEE YOU THERE - BOOK EARLY!!!!!!

 

FOR BERKOFF FANS, LIKE ME, A WHOLE WEEKEND... JEWISH BOOK WEEK 29TH MARCH AT KINGS PLACE 'A WORLD ELSEWHERE', AND THE BATTLE OF CABLE STREET - ARCOLA AFTERNOON AND EVENING SUNDAY 1ST MARCH - GOING TO SEE THIS A SECOND TIME!!

 

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, YOUR OWN THEATRE REVIEWER, HAZEL KYTE, MAKES HER FILM DEBUT IN GARY SINYOR'S 'THE JEWISH ENQUIRER' ( I ONLY APPEAR IN ONE EPISODE), AVAILABLE ON AMAZON FEB 29TH, WATCH THIS SPACE.....

FILM TALKS - JW3

MUSICAL MOMENTS FROM NON-MUSICAL FILMS - the brilliant George McGhee, in fine form with his brilliant film clips and informative lecture, a joy.

Look out for   VIVIEN LEIGH - A FRAGILE BEAUTY 18th March, and just announced LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.. MISS PEGGY  LEE 10th June, and BETTE DAVIS, ALL ABOUT BETTY lst July.  Just announced BERKOFF as part of Jewish Book Week, 29th Feb.

 

 

MAGIC GOES WRONG - VAUDEVILLE THEATRE

Mischief Theatre (together with Penn and Teller) follow in their inimitable fashion with a first class entertainment about 'howlers', to the delight of the entire audience... good for 8 to 88 - with 'some' audience participation. To everyone's amazement some actually work!!!! Great fun.

 

ENDGAME THE OLD VIC

Superb acting from a stellar cast including Alan Cummings, Daniel Radcliffe and Jane Horrocks, Beckett's 'Theatre of the Absurd' in all it's glory...dustbins and all, if you have never seen 'Theatre of the Absurd' it is an education.... but not everyone's cup of tea... personally,  I have now had enough Becketts, includng Waiting for Godot and Krapp's Tape, but newcomers are still intrigued.

 

TEENAGE DICK - DONMAR

Michael Longhurst directs Mike Lew's very clever version of Richard 2nd as a highschool teenager, and horror with ambition. The more you know of the Shakespeare original, the more you will enjoy this, 'dark piece made lighter'. very well acted by entire cast, but must make special mention of Daniel Monks as Richard of Gloucester. Well worth seeing, and getting the programme.

 

KUNENI AND THE KING - AMBASSADORS

This is the RSC production from the Fugard Theatre Cape Town, written by John Kani, and starring the 'greats' -Antony Sher as Jack Morris, an aging actor with Cancer, and John Kani as Lunga Kunene, who comes to be his 'carer'.   I would rate this as 'umissable theatre' - the like of which you may not be privileged to see again, as these two old friends and colleagues come on stage together to show the South African story from a black and white world.

It has humour, pathos, and totally holds your attention - don't miss it, limited run to 28th March.  Worth buying the programme!

 

HACKNEY EMPIRE 

Had an amazing morning at the Hackney Empire, as inspiring young directors  Yamir Choudury and Jo Hemnant talked about their hopes for this as total community theatre to appeal to all ages and backgrounds , and their work with Alter Ego and Headlong Theatre. As this is the first theatre I ever attended - MOTHER GOOSE - THE PANTOMIME - December l940,  I just loved revisiting (have been there since of course) and agreeing to what makes theatre an integral part of your life... The theatre is being redecorated, and they actually allowed me in the box where my love of theatre began.... will report more.

 

THE SUGAR SYNDROME - ORANGE TREE THEATRE

Written by Lucy Prebble in 2003, prior to Enron and  Very Expensive Poison, this totally holds your attention, as it shows how the internet has changed since its early years.     Dani, a teenager with a deserted mother, bunks from school and has no interest other than meeting people on a chat line, knowing nothing about whether what they say is true. A real play of the new generation  - and quite scarey with all the implications. Very well acted, and specially watch out for Jessicca Rhodes, playing Dani, her first role since leaving RADA - she was superb, and I predict stardom awaits.

JEFF HARNER SINGS SONDHEIM - PHEASANTRY

Total joy by one of New York's top cabaret stars, charting his own life via Sondheim's music, worked beautifully, and accompanied by Jon Weber, master of the piano, also in fine fettle, sadly did not get to Jon's solo Jazz night on the Monday but will do my utmost to  do so next time.

42ND STREET - UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE

Went for a second time to see this superb production, and loved it even more.... they are sold out for the run, but I did tell you to book early... so now telling you to book early for ONCE UPON A MATTRESS 5th to 29th March and JEWISH HOLLYWOOD 28th April to 24th May. at this venue. 

RAGS - THE MUSICAL = PARK THEATRE

This fabulous show is a Katy Lipson production, and for those of you not in 'the know' Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, is synonymous with top quality musical theatre, and this is certainly no exception. Book by Joseph Stein, music Charles Strouse and lyrics Stephen Schwartz, this is the story of the early immigrants to the USA - From the boat to Ellis Island yiou follow the fortunes, and misfortunes of Rebecca (Carolyn Maitland) and Bella (Martha Kirby) going to the family home cum factory on the Lower East side. April l910 to September l911.... There is a strong story, and a great history being shown here, bright and good music,  and the entire cast have great voices, and the music played on stage shows you the time you are in.Well staged - in fact well everything - this is good musical theatre in every sense, and I urge you to go along for entertainment and enlightenment of the immigrant problem and how things never change. Look out for  fuutuare productions ELTON JOHN IT'S A LITLE BIT FUNNY and JEWISH HOLLYWOOD coming to Upstairs at the Gatehouse 

HAMILTON - VICTORIA PALACE

Finally got to see the rave rap of the century, Lin-Manul Miranda has certainly done a brilliant job bringing he story of Alexanxder Hamilton, a penniless Caribbean immigant who arrives in New York City on the eve of the American Revolution to become George Washington's right hand man, and one of the founding fathers.  The story is sung in rap form, but clearly enough to hear all the words, and if it is not as 'tuneful' as the Great American Songbook shows, it is a great history lesson, beautifully choreographed with movement and dance - very good voices, and understandable how this 'new style has been a muilti-award winner and 'sell out' in both New York and London. Tickets are made available every few months, and it will run for years...

WAITRESS - ADELPHI THEATRE

In from Broadway, this is a lightweight musical about a waitress. having marital problems and finding herself pregnant - dont worry there is a happy ending, and lots of song and dance - non of it memorable, but pleasant enough, except for what I felt un-necessarily bad language in what should be a 'famlily show'... not that the  audience seemed to mind!! Usual ecstatic applause all round. Certainly not Sondheim!!!!

COME FROM AWAY - PHOENIX THEATRE

Book, music and lyrics  by Irene Sankoff and David Klein, this was a TONY WINNER, and well deserved. Directed by Christopher Ashley, this  slick London production is very well worth a visit. Running just under two hours with no interval, it is a history lesson, with comedy and pathos, as we learn of the experiences of the community of Gander, Newfoundland, when during the horrors of  9/11, no planes could land in the USA,  and 7,000 passengers were stranded in an area where the local airport was hardly ever used, and almost on the point of closure. The warmth and generosity of the community is told with music and song, not necessarily tunes you will come out humming, but you will certainly have a 'feel good' warmth, and have learnt a lot about the goodness of people as you emerge. There is even a Jewish twist to the story, go and see it.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Woodside Park Synagogue or the United Synagogue.

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