Joseph Reviews

Michael Coveney on (four stars) – “Lee’s just the job. He has footballer thighs, curly black hair and a voice that never gives up even when he misses the melodic line at moments of stress. The mums will like him and other older women find him sexy. Myself, I prefer the camel, but hey, ‘Any Dream Will Do’ … The show looks so much better in the Adelphi than it did before, balancing the charm of the children’s chorus with the vaudeville excesses among the Pyramids and Egyptian café classes with a firmer control. The scale is more suited to the content, and Lee is less desperate to please than either Jason Donovan or (oh God, he was awful) Philip Schofield … It brims with witty musical invention and engagingly literate lyrics, encompassing pop styles of calypso, country music, Parisian café songs and megamix disco sounds, drawing out a fantastic all-purpose finale from such still fresh items as the irresistible ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and the sinuous ‘Close Every Door to Me’ … Rice and Lloyd Webber have written a lovely new song, ‘King of My Heart’, for the Elvis-style Pharaoh (Dean Collinson), which stitches together many fine clichés while inventing some surprise melodic leaps. Preeya Kalidas, the star of Bombay Dreams, makes up in style and beauty as the Narrator what she lacks in vocal texture, while Stephen Tate, the original Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, is a notable Potiphar. Stunning costumes all round, too, and not just the coloured coat.”

Rhoda Koenig in the Independent – “Has Andrew Lloyd Webber managed, once again, to use a TV talent contest to make an unknown a star? Commercially, yes indeed, going by the hyperactive box office and an audience that reaches beyond the usual patrons of the West End … It seems less likely that Lee Mead will join the immortals. Lacking in character and with a tendency to give out towards the end of a line, his voice is not the world’s greatest, or even the greatest in the show … That honour belongs to Dean Collinson, whose Elvis-imitating Pharaoh matches the original with every dirty growl, falsetto flutter, and sudden, heart-stopping intimacy…But Mead more than fulfils the requirements, with a mop of dark curls, a wholesome, sweet manner, and a way of filling a pleated loincloth that will appeal to all sexes … The real star is Steven Pimlott’s production of 1991. It shows, in this revival, what gold-plated professionalism can do for even this simple story of brotherly disloyalty, dream interpretation, and an ending in which the god of vengeance takes a rare day off … It’s not only Joseph’s coat that knocks your eyes out – all the sets and costumes glow with rainbow hues and joie de vivre.”

Nicholas De Jongh in the Evening Standard (three stars) – “For those of us, aged ten and over, who do not take musicals too seriously, this earliest of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s shows, still does the comic-satirical business with amusing gusto. It offers a seductive blend of camp, kitsch, and cool mockery of a few Old Testament dreamers and tough-boys, not to mention the sound of Lloyd Webber in first romantic and triumphal form …This gawdy, hand-clapping, seductive revival, based upon the popular 1991 production by Steven Pimlott who died in February, jubilantly keeps a satirical tongue in its cheek as it unfolds on a stage that does not need to bother with multi million-pound, scenic sensations … The music and the staging offers no end of appealing parody… Potiphar’s Twenties high society world looks a triumph of crazy, mixed-up taste, with men exposing bare legs and white socks, while Potiphar’s wife (Verity Bentham) plumbs the depths of come-hitherish vulgarity … Nichola Treherne is credited as associate director, but I suspect the show’s co-producer, Bill Kenwright, took a prime hand in the direction, as this evening of delightfully nuanced joie de vivre and spirited jokiness recalls elements of his own production four years ago.”

Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph – “I suppose one ought to be sternly disapproving about this revival of Joseph … Yet I have to admit to voting for Lee myself and to experiencing a sugar rush of pure pleasure at last night’s exuberant premiere when I found myself in the same row as the losing contestants on Any Dream Will Do. The generous enthusiasm with which they whooped and applauded Lee at the end was touching to behold … As Lee was hoisted high into the air on a terrifying piece of machinery to wild ovations during the grand finale, there was no doubt that the former understudy had proved himself a West End star. What Lee Mead has in spades is charm, crucial in a role that could easily seem unattractively priggish. He also looks good in a loin cloth, and has a powerful and expressive voice … By the end, however his vocals were beginning to sound a touch frayed and he and the management need to take care he doesn’t overstrain his greatest asset like Connie Fisher in The Sound of Music. Both Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have gone on to bigger things than Joseph, together and apart, but this early piece … has an irresistible bloom of youth about it … What you hear is a composer delightedly discovering his gift for melody. And Tim Rice … is at his witty best, coining couplets Cole Porter might have smiled upon … Nichola Treherne has revived the late and sorely missed Steven Pimlott’s 1991 Palladium production with terrific brio and the energy level never flags … Joseph looks like being a sure-fire hit all over again.”

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail – “Book of Genesis this ain’t. Nor is it classic musical theatre or high art. But the Joseph which opened in the West End last night, with TV find Lee Mead in the lead, is cheery, let-your-hair down fun …Trivial? You bet. Goosed to within an inch of its life? Undeniably. But it is amusing and agreeable and perfect for ten-year-olds, as well as grown-ups who have had a couple of sharp ones in the bar beforehand … Lee – he is one of those actors for whom the Mr Mead bit seems arch – is a handsome hit …The voice is weak in the lower register and at one point it almost disappeared completely, washed away by an over-pumpy band and maybe by a dry mouth. He sounded slightly blocked-nosey in the early moments. Flu, maybe … But he has stage presence and a winning way and the public, having voted for him on BBC One’s Any Dream Will Do, will forgive him much. Good. He deserves it… The cameo of the night belongs to Dean Collinson, who gives us an Elvis Presley Pharaoh. Terrific stuff…Lee himself is not a natural comedian. He does not move particularly well. But he hurls himself into the honking cacophony and is almost as gorgeous to behold as Joseph’s multi-coloured coat … Preeya Kalidas, who plays the Narrator, almost dislodged a couple of my fillings, so tunelessly did she screech one or two notes…. On either side of the stage a large choir of pop-eyed children warble away like nestlings…At first I was uncertain if their enthusiasm was infectious or mightily irritating, but I slowly thawed and by the end was humming along with the rest of the stalls…Joseph had won me round. As it will do London.”

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Les Miserables Reviews

“With much sledgehammer-like subtlety, Victor Hugo’s novel blasts onstage in a performance that, by no surprise, marks a justification for the musical’s 16th consecutive year in the West End.

Recalling that the original production was by the Royal Shakespeare Company – can its restructuring repeat such highs? – this show crushes later rivals that attempted to conquer such grandiose spectacle.

Les Miserables has a mosaic of characters – police, prostitutes and pragmatic students – woven onto an automatically dramatic backdrop of tragic revolution in France where there is glory in death for a cause.

Its real star, apart from a world-class performance by Hans-Peter Janssens as fugitive turned fighter Jean Valjean, is the pounding, slippery, exquisite score by Claude-Michel Schonberg. Like the production, it has heavy operatic influence. The music is almost incidentally orchestrated, perched to provide a clear path for the vocal crescendos. The score is also oddly uncommercial. There are few hummable choruses with plain chord structure but there are dozens of intricate, consistently strong melodies that carry Herbert Kretzmer’s digestible lyrics.

This wielding backbone is augmented by designer John Napier’s revolving stage, atmospherically effective with David Hersey’s lighting and directors John Caird and Trevor Nunn crackling over decades and cities.

Although almost every number is as strong as a finale, the passion – death, romance or obsession – often provides touching moments such as policeman Javert’s search of the dead and Valjean’s Bring Him Home.

The swinging rowdiness of Master of the House is a welcome variance from the enthralling pomposity of the show’s unrelenting ambition, which supersedes itself when Javert avows to the stars that he will hunt down Valjean. Les Mis is an overwhelming and exhilarating experience that remains a grand daddy musical. ” The Stage

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The Lion King Reviews

The Lion King roared and the West End cheered last night as this wonderful evening unravelled in the famous, restored Lyceum… Most impressively, our very own Zimbabwe-born designer, Richard Hudson, has created a fantasy world of savannah and veldt, of jungle and desert, of burnished colours and a great looming, swivelling rock that represents the seat of power. You hope all nights in the theatre will be like this… Julie Taymour, steeped in Bunraku puppets and Indonesian temple dancing, provides the most glorious commercial demonstration of the actor and the mask yet devised. You see the animal, and the actor, and you relish the manipulation and the beauty of the choreography. Watch out for a very slinky cheetah and a wicked trio of hyenas. The performance energy is not yet as high or as concentrated as it was on Broadway… Potent, popular, primitive and perennial, The Lion King restores true magic to the West End. The genius lies in the genorosity of spirit and the way it embraces so many types of song while providing an overall pictorial style. This is the ideal show for all children from eight to 80.” The Daily Mail

“Yes, this really is a musical that invents a better class of magic than those multi-million-dollar technological tricks and thrills flashing on celluloid. In a beautiful dazzle of invention and imagination, the true star of The Lion King, director Julie Taymor, has dreamed up a way of bringing an entire African jungle and its menagerie of animals thrillingly to the stage: eastern and western styles meet and merge. The Disney cartoon’s air of sweet whimsy is quite banished. With intricate mobile masks, puppets, exotic costumes and even stilts, which are all Taymor’s own creation, these jungle creatures, from prides of lions to jeering hyenas, capture a fresh dynamic theatricality. They look like a new alliance between the human and the animal as they parade, shuffle and athletically dance in Taymor’s brave new world, with its gusts of chanted African choruses. The giraffes are operated by actors on stilts concealed within the animals’ skin. The front legs of each zebra belong to performers who wear the same skin as the animal they play. Designer Richard Hudson’s jungle is equally startling, since it looks like a children’s picture-book brought to life with sudden promontories and gorges leaping into view… Taymor’s production – with its vivid set-piece parades of jungle life, birds on poles and animal silhouettes on backcloths – travels at exuberant pace, pausing for spectacular dramatics… It lights up the West End with the blaze of Taymor’s fabulous imagination.” The London Evening Standard

The Lion King roared into town last night and staked its claim as the mane attraction for the millennium. From the opening moment when the burning African sun rose on stage and a gaint elephant sashayed down the centre aisle it was clear we were in for some real Disney magic. Over £6Million has been poured into turning the hit cartoon movie into a musical. And it’s money well spent. You won’t see more colourful costumes or more imaginative back-drops anywhere else… The African music from Lebo M is stirring. Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice contribute showstoppers such as ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’. But even if you don’t go home from London’s West End humming the songs you will sing the praises of the spectacular sets and exotic costumes. It’s a fun show for all the family. The Lion King rules okay. This one will roar and roar.” The Mirror

“Disney’s mighty Lion King has roared into the West End in triumph. I was bowled over by the show when I saw the premiere in New York two years ago, and if one was going to be coldly analytical, the Broadway staging probably just has the edge when it comes to precision and sheer pizzazz… Adults will enjoy The Lion King, especially those, in the odious modern parlance, still in touch with their inner child. But it is a great family show, and the word great is no exaggeration… The triumph of Julie Taymor’s often inspirational staging is that she constantly stimulates the imagination. Throughout this show about animals, you are aware of the humans inside the ingenious costumes, and the humanity of the narrative. Many of the characters wear masks not over their faces but on top of their heads, so you see both the human and the animal simultaneously, and there is no attempt to disguise the hands operating the beautiful and ingenious puppets. In this way the viewer is drawn into the show, invited to collaborate in a communal act of story-telling, rather than being merely gobsmacked with high-tech special effects. This is theatre at its potent best. The score is one of the finest in years. The pop songs by Elton John and Tim Rice are tuneful and witty, but it would all seem a touch bland if that’s all The Lion King had to offer. Fortunately the African composer Lebo M has added superbly haunting chants and vocal arrangements that combine Zulu tradition with the vibe of the South African townships. The result is that the show is distinctively African, with a strong sense of place and ritual, and when the adult Simba comes to reclaim the Pridelands, it is impossible not to be reminded of Nelson Mandela. As always with Disney, there are moments when it all seems a bit twee, others when it is excessively PC. But the ingenuity of Taymor’s direction and costume designs, the beautiful, simple settings by Richard Hudson, the power of the narrative and the wit of the dialogue (Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi are responsible for the excellent book) easily outweigh such critical niggles… For once a mega musical lives up to the hype. This is a dazzling show with the heart of a lion.” The Daily Telegraph

“There is enough jaw-dropping theatrical spectacle in The Lion King to tickle even the most hardened theatre critic’s palate. As the procession of animals makes its way down the aisle at the beginning or the cast controls a flight of coloured birds across the auditorium after the interval, you really are transported thousands of miles away from the Strand on a drizzly London night to the primary colours and vegetation of the Africa Savannah. The grass grows upward to become a swaying part of cast head-dresses. The flying and the exuberant, impeccably lit sets are stunningly imaginative too. And all that is counterpointed by some riveting, powerfully rhythmic African-style singing – as pure as plainsong – mostly by the elastic-bodied Gugwana Dlami…” The Stage

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Dirty Dancing Reviews

Michael Coveney on (2 stars) – “It’s admirable that the show follows the 1987 film so faithfully, because Eleanor Bergstein’s story is a good one… The ensemble dance numbers come thrillingly alive in Kate Champion’s choreography, and the central couple of Josef Brown and Georgina Rich are much more attractive than Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the movie, Brown especially taking Johnny on to a higher level of sexual intensity and technical dance ability. He also doesn’t have too annoying a hairstyle. The score is a jukebox of the Chantels, the Drifters, Tina Turner, Otis Redding, and so on, but it doesn’t have the coherent texture of a ‘proper’ musical and often seems quite arbitrary. In the end, you feel as though you’ve been cudgelled by a brand product, not gone through the genuine experience of musical theatre.”

Benedict Nightingale in The Times (4 stars) – “This makes Hans Christian Andersen look like a kitchen-sink realist. But who cares when Brown is on the dance floor or (inevitably) in his bedroom…. When he and Rich’s Baby are at their sinuous best, you feel what that movie suggested. Dancing isn’t almost as good as sex. No, sex is almost as good as dancing – or, rather, both are indivisible. Maybe that’s enough to justify a show which adds so little to the original…. All this is brilliantly staged, but raises an obvious question. Why not get a DVD of the movie…? Yet I found myself warming to Bergstein’s modern fairy story and to the principals: Brown, elegant of mind and spirit as well as body, and Rich, growing in assurance, skill and beauty as she takes her life into her own hands – and, of course, her own feet.”

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail – “…. Dirty Dancing is a night of good, jiggly rubbish, blameless silliness which ends with an uplifting finale. It’s hard to dislike it, but it’s also hard to call it memorable art. It’s a product, and it shows.”

Paul Taylor in the Independent – “The dancing… is the delight of James Powell’s attractively staged and happiness-spreading production of the nifty theatrical adaptation by Eleanor Bergstein. True, as Johnny, the chippy dance instructor at the up-market American Butlins, Josef Brown does not have the balletic dynamism of Patrick Swayze in the movie, nor does he have the latter’s capacity to make you root for the little man, as he’s a tall, strapping mass of muscle. But he and the well-cast Georgina Rich – who brings light physical grace and just the right kind of unconventional attractiveness to the role of doctor’s daughter, ‘Baby’ Houseman – radiate an infectious pleasure in their dancing together. This is a show that will give keen pleasure to Dirty Dancing addicts and to newcomers alike…. The music is a mixture of recorded golden oldies…. in general, this is a very enjoyable evening.”

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Billy Elliot The Musical Reviews

“…Billy Elliot strikes me as the greatest British musical I have ever seen, and I have not forgotten Lionel Bart’s Oliver! or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s  Phantom of the Opera. There is a rawness, a warm humour and a sheer humanity here that is worlds removed from the soulless slickness of most musicals. Yes,
there are rough edges that would give Cameron Mackintosh a fit of the vapours, yes, there are occasional scenes that are not as powerfully played as those in the film. But there is so much more that is big and bold, imaginative and great-hearted. The emotion always seems real and spontaneous, rather than
cunningly manipulated to pull at the heartstrings… The whole cast is blessed with a freshness and sincerity I have rarely seen equalled, and one leaves this triumphant production in a mist of tears and joy.” The Daily Telegraph

“Turning small-scale movies into big musicals is a treacherous business. It failed with The Full Monty, which lost all of its gritty truth when musicalised. But Billy Elliot succeeds brilliantly because Elton John’s music and, especially, Peter Darling’s choreography enhance Lee Hall’s cinematic concept. The musical, even more than the film, counterpoints Billy’s personal triumph with the community’s decline… Stephen Daldry’s production is a model of fluidity and intelligence. He constantly reminds us that the special power of the musical is that it can express a lyrical idea through physical action…” The Guardian

“…Together, Stephen Daldry and Lee Hall have concocted a piece that’s tougher, bolder and, as my tear-ducts can attest, more moving than its admittedly admirable celluloid precursor. With its rags-to-riches, or rather poverty-to-piroutte, story, the piece invites sentimentality. But that’s almost entirely missing in the Geordie pit village where young Billy discovers he has a gift for dance… Moreover, the action exactly coincides with the 1980s miners’ strike — and this comes across far more emphatically than in the film…” The Times

Billy Elliot The Musical, based upon Stephen Daldry’s classic movie, is just irresistible. It catches you
– or at least me – in its fervent grasp, and pins you down with all the artfulness of a vintage seducer, right to the misguided, sentimental finale… This is an evening which throws a fierce political punch as well as an emotional one. No modern musical has struck such rebellious, old Labour, workingclass conscious notes… Stephen Daldry, always at his best on the grand scale, deftly marshals a throbbing mixture of angry miners, threatening policemen and little girls in tutus – all singing. Ian MacNeil’s versatile designs set the changing
scenes…” The London Evening Standard

“BILLY’S A WHIZ! He’ll lift your soul, make you cry and send you home high with hope. Quentin Letts dances with delight at the first night of the £5million musical adaptation of Billy Elliot. Only its heavy-handed politics take the shine off the show. DREAMY dancing, full-rip staging, stonking songs and terrible politics. But for its dismally trite, Socialist Worker angle on the miners’ strike, Billy Elliot the Musical would stand tall this morning as a production of the most searing quality. Even with that significant flaw this is
a glorious show. It’s a weepie, funny spectacle married to a super score by Sir Elton John. The beautiful blond boy playing the lead last night, Liam Mower, will surely become the biggest child star since Mark Lester played Oliver Twist…” The Daily Mail

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Never Forget Transfer from the Savoy Theatre to Lyrics

Never Forget Transfer from the Savoy Theatre to Lyrics Theatre. The season will run from Thursday 20th November 2008 to Saturday 25th April 2009 and is now available for bookings.

Never Forget is the story of Ash Sherwood, an aspiring singer-songwriter struggling to make it on the Manchester music scene. Along with Jake Turner – his best friend and brother of Ash’s fiancée, Chloe Turner –Ash auditions for a Take That tribute band, desperate to try anything that might elicit his big break.

At the auditions Ash and Jake meet band manager Ron Freeman. Ron, a budding pop Svengali, is searching for a group of willing and amenable lads so desperate for success he can mould them into his very own version of the ultimate boy band: Take That. Never one to dream small when big will do, Ron not only wants to enter the band into a big competition, he also wants his band to be capable of transcending their humble beginnings and “to change the face of pop”. However, instead of the fame hungry puppets he wanted, our Svengali soon realises that he has instead recruited five creative and original characters – each committed to the group for their own reasons.

There’s Ash, who after years of wasting his talent in dingy bars and clubs is chasing the prize money that might help save his mum’s struggling pub and pay for his wedding to Chloe; Jake ‘The Face’ Turner, a sharp witted, wannabe ladies man hoping the band will get him out of his dead end job; Adrian Banks, an introverted bank manager, hopelessly attempting to win over his adulterous wife; Dirty Harry, a dim yet endearing stripper looking to recover his self respect; and Jose Reize, a wide-eyed and optimistic Spaniard, who has travelled to England to make something of himself – away from the clutches of his overbearing mother.

Having been brought together by Ron with promises of world domination the boys quickly form a genuine bond, practicing long and hard for the competition they hope will launch them towards stardom. However, the arrival of ambitious record executive Annie Borrowman throws those bonds into doubt and tests the loyalty and friendship of all those involved.

Never Forget is a story of dreams, ambition and betrayal: because sometimes you can only really discover who you are by pretending to be someone else…

Never Forget is currently booking until 25th of April 2009 Book Tickets for Never Forget

Rain Man in Apollo!

Josh Hartnett will appear in a upcoming adaptation of the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man, which will be staged in West End from the end of August 2008.The Hollywood star will take a part of Charlie Babbitt, the role originally played by Tom Cruise in this cult movie from 1988. British actor Adam Godley will be performing Dustin Hofman’s part of Charlie’s autistic brother Raymond.

Raymond is the elder brother Charlie never knew he had, an autistic genius who’s spent most of his life in an institution. When Raymond is released into Charlie’s care, Charlie decides to ruthlessly exploit Raymond’s talent in order to save his flagging business. The story about self-discovery and unconditional love begins when two brothers embark on a journey that will forever change their lives.

Rain Man is currently booking until 20th of December 2009 Book Rain Main Theatre Tickets