Today I am bringing you three new stage productions that have been adapted from previous work that you can see on stage in London. The shows below include a new interpretation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, an opera set in 2017 and a musical about a teenage drag queen.
The Lost Boy Peter Pan @ Pleasance Theatre, London*
Photo courtesy of The Other Richard
Running until: 7th January 2018
Tickets and more information: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/lost-boy-peter-pan#overview
Artistic Director of Action To The Word, Alexandra Spencer-Jones has created and directed a brand new adaption of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, currently playing at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington. True to the original story, it is about Peter Pan who brings Wendy Darling and her brothers Michael and John to Neverland so she can be a mother to the Lost Boys. I seem to be forming a yearly tradition in seeing Peter Pan adaptations as last year I saw Sally Cookson’s production at the National Theatre and I’m planning to see the production at Regent’s Park next year. Because Peter Pan is such a famous story and has had many, many adaptations since it was first published, I always try to look at what makes the production different to previous adaptations.
Firstly, Alexandra Spencer – Jones has assembled a very talented cast of 8 actor/musicians who play various roles and instruments throughout the performance. They are a very tightly packed ensemble, who bounce off each other very well from beginning to end. I was surprised to see the show starts off with Peter Pan’s origins of him being abandoned in Kensington Gardens and that it didn’t start straight in with introducing the Darling family. And yet, passed the initial introduction, the production fell quite flat for me. I didn’t feel like I was watching anything different. The production includes musical interludes of pop songs from Harry Styles’ Sign of the Times to Fun’s We Are Young to The Zombies’ She’s Not There.. I couldn’t help but feel that they were added just to make the production seem somewhat different. They were performed brilliantly, but I just couldn’t see the point of them being in the show. INSERT SOMETHING ABOUT THE SET.
That being said, as a 21 year old, I’m probably the wrong audience for this type of show. I would recommend seeing this production if you are looking to introduce your loved ones to Peter Pan for the first time.
La Bohéme @ Trafalgar Studios 2*
Photo courtesy of Scott Rylander
Running until: 6th January 2018.
Tickets and more information: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/la-boheme/trafalgar-studios/
I must note, that I have seen two opera productions in my life. One was a production of Alice in Wonderland that my friend was in. The second was La Boheme. When I first heard about the show, I was particularly intrigued to see how a different take on the classic opera would translate. Performed in English and set in Dalston in Hackney, La Boheme is unlike anything I’ve seen before. This production originally premiered at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington and is the first show in the theatre’s West End season at the Trafalgar Studios in the very intimate studio 2. I had a vague idea of the plot, purely by knowing that this is the opera the musical Rent is based on. La Boheme follows flatmates Ralph and Mark and their relationships. Ralph falls madly in love with drug abuser Mimi when she knocks on his door one evening for a light. And Mark decides to patch things up with his ex girlfriend Musetta. Although the main focus is the relationship between Ralph and Mimi, we do get to explore the relationship between Mark and Musetta.
What the small space does for the show is share the intimacy of the relationships with the audience. However, being part of the audience, I felt that it was too intimate for my liking. I was sat in the row at the back and having the one couple perform right in front of me for a long period of time was super distracting, because it meant I missed what was happening with the other couple on the opposite side of the the stage. Perhaps I was in the wrong seat, but when Ralph and Mimi are stood at your feet, snogging the faces off each other, you can’t see much else!
That being said, it is an impressive production to have such powerful voices perform in such a small space. The company of four actors and two musicians are undeniably excellent. The company do alternate every performance and the band at the performance I attended consisted of Panaretos Kryiatzidis on piano and William Rudge on cello. The minimalist band highlighted the exquisite voices of the performers, particularly a stunning portrayal of Mimi by Becca Marriott, who is also one of the co writers of the piece. All the actors have electric chemistry between each other, it bounces off the walls of the small studio.
It is such an interesting piece and something for opera newbies like myself to sink my teeth into. With a short run time of 1hr and 45 minutes, the show flies by. Although the staging could have incorporated the entire audience’s view, the small studio amplifies the intensity and drama of the relationships. It is worth seeing.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie @ Apollo Theatre.
Running until: 6th April 2019.
Tickets and more information: http://www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk/
I have been meaning to write about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for ages, now. I saw a preview back in mid November and I continue to think about it all the time. The show follows 16 year old Jamie New from Sheffield who dreams of becoming a drag queen. The show was inspired by a documentary about a teenage drag queen from Sheffield titled Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. The musical premiered in Sheffield earlier this year and has landed in the West End with a few additional changes to a lot of well deserved hype. It is amazing to see a brand new, British musical be welcomed in London with open arms.
The show is filled with a fantastic ensemble that is a real mix of experienced and fresh faced performers. John McCrea leads the cast as Jamie and he is just incredible. He injects so much life, heart and sass into his performance as Jamie, you can’t help but root for him. He is supported by Lucie Shorthouse as Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha, who has a stunning voice and is the best friend we all need and deserve. You can tell both actors get on really well as it is crystal clear in their performances. The rest of the ensemble are a real diverse mix of actors that it’s honestly refreshing to have a show labelled as a British musical that is actually reflective of Britain today and isn’t just filled with slim white people.
Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom Macrae’s score is infused with pop with electronic influences and is similar to the score of a show like Kinky Boots. He has tailored the score to fit the voices of the actors like a hand to a glove. Lucie Shorthouse has a solo titled “Beautiful” which was only enhanced by a simple space projection, matched with Lucy Carter’s lighting design and Luke Halls video design, to the back of the Anna Fleischle designed set.
Everybody in theatreland is talking about Jamie and they deservedly so. It is a modern classic musical, filled to the brim with diverse talent and British humour which is evident in Tom Macrae’s book of the show. Jonathan Butterell has directed an incredible new show that proves you don’t need big names to produce a fantastic musical. I’m so glad I saw it and I can’t wait to go back time and time again. Before April at least.
Let me know if you’ve seen any good adaptations lately.
Until next time,