If It Only Even Runs a Minute 2, Landor Theatre

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After my review of the first London edition of cabaret night If It Only Even Runs a Minute, I did wonder how the hosts Oliver Southgate and Lydia Grant would take my comments. Not everyone whose show was described as a “shambolic mess”, and whose delivery was described as “amusingly under-rehearsed”, would necessarily be happy about the reviewer in question.

As it turns out, they were fine with it. So fine that I was invited back by them for Monday’s second edition.

At its core, it hadn’t changed. There’s a fine line between being informally relaxed and being disorganised – a line which If It Only Even Runs‘s hosts display a tendency to use as a skipping rope.

Personally, I find their presentation style charming, especially because the calibre of Monday’s guest performers were so high. I was being comped, though: I do wonder whether, if I’d paid for the tickets out of my own pocket, whether I’d find it quite so endearing.

But to concentrate on that side of the evening is unfair – as I said last time, the quality of the performances (and, in particular, the guest performers) is the real focus of the evening. And in their second London show, the calibre of the guests shot up several notches.

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If It Only Even Runs a Minute 2, Landor Theatre4Scott Matthewman2012-07-12 00:11:19After my review of the first London edition of cabaret night If It Only Even Runs a Minute, I did wonder how the hosts Oliver Southgate and Lydia Gran…

Soho Cinders in Concert, Queen’s Theatre

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Most new musicals take a while to see the light of day, maybe peeping over the parapet with workshops, or even a concept CD, long before they hit the stage. Few, however, gestate quite as long as Soho Cinders, a musical from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Honk!, Just So, the expanded stage version of Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Betty Blue Eyes) which, as Mark Shenton notes today, has been in development for most of this century already.

And it’s a very 21st century piece – a modern day Cinderella story, with rent boy Robbie using the wages from his escort services to fund his law studies, in order to prove that his wicked stepsisters have illegally taken over his late mother’s coffee shop. The ball becomes a fund-raising bash for a good-looking mayoral candidate whom Robbie has been seeing on the side, although he’s there to escort the wealthy businessman who’s bankrolling the mayoral bid. And when he’s exposed as a rent boy and runs off, it’s not a shoe he leaves behind, but a mobile phone…

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Soho Cinders in Concert, Queen’s Theatre5Scott Matthewman2011-10-10 10:14:16Most new musicals take a while to see the light of day, maybe peeping over the parapet with workshops, or even a concept CD, long before they hit the …

Honk!, LOST Theatre

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The LOST Theatre in Stockwell is currently playing host to a new production of Honk!, a family musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the Ugly Duckling, written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who wrote the songs for West End musical Betty Blue Eyes, which closed last weekend.

Eighteen years after it first hatched at the Watermill theatre as The Ugly Duckling, it’s readily apparent why Stiles and Drewe so easily slotted into the Disney style of musical with their extra songs for Mary Poppins: Honk! is a prototype Disney animation as if it were played out on stage rather than storyboarded. With a bit of polish, one could easily see the story on the silver screen as a classic, line-drawn animation with songs that infect the head as well as progressing the story. And it’s easily better than The Princess and the Frog, the House of Mouse’s recent attempt to revive the genre.

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Honk!, LOST Theatre3Scott Matthewman2011-09-30 12:18:09The LOST Theatre in Stockwell is currently playing host to a new production of Honk!, a family musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the …

Revisited: Betty Blue Eyes, Novello Theatre

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Back in March, I talked about an early preview of Betty Blue Eyes – whether or not it’s the UK’s most eagerly awaited musical in 2011, it was certainly mine (Shrek? Pah).

As I said at the time:

While still in its first week of previews, Betty Blue Eyes feels much closer to a finished show than, say, The Wizard of Oz did at the same stage. In that show, it felt like the audience was watching a rehearsal – here, we were watching something whole and complete, which maybe needs a little bit of tweaking here and there but won’t particularly change between now and press night. That doesn’t mean it has no flaws, but those it does have in my view prevent a four-star review becoming a five-star one.

Last night, I went back to see how the show had bedded in. And, if I did actualy give out star ratings, I’d say Betty Blue Eyes was still a solid four.

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Revisited: Betty Blue Eyes, Novello Theatre4Scott Matthewman2011-07-27 12:43:19Back in March, I talked about an early preview of Betty Blue Eyes – whether or not it’s the UK’s most eagerly awaited musical in 2011, it was certai…

Betty Blue Eyes, Novello Theatre

A musical set in a Britain of austerity, nearly bankrupted after an expensive war waged on multiple fronts, with the public’s only glimmer of hope built upon a forthcoming royal wedding? Betty Blue Eyes has surely found the perfect time in which to open (it is currently in previews, with press night on April 13).

In reality, the musical has been in gestation for quite some time now. When I interviewed George Stiles and Anthony Drewe for The Stage Podcast several months ago, their music for this adaptation of Alan Bennett’s film A Private Function was already eagerly awaited, and the number Magic Fingers had been showcased in the one-off concert A Spoonful of Stiles & Drewe in July 2008.

The fates have conspired to make the show’s concepts seem particularly appropriate now, with its message of how the proletariat should be wary of the upper classes bending the law to their own ends. Mind you, I’m sure that even if Britain were in an age of enduring prosperity, we would be able to find a parable in the tale of the little man struggling to find his place amongst the oppressors without losing his soul in the process…

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