A Week At The Theatre | Crazy For You, Ride*, I, Joan.

A bit of variety for this week’s post! A trip to Chichester, the Charing Cross Theatre and my first time back at the Globe since pre-covid.

Crazy For You at Chichester Festival Theatre
Rating: 4/5
Running until: 4th September 2022

After immense critical acclaim, I knew I had to make my way out to Chichester to see how good this production is for myself. Set in the Great Depression, Crazy For You follows a young man called Bobby Child. Dreaming of being in the theatre yet being pushed into a banker’s profession by his mother in New York, Bobby aims to fix up the theatre in a small Nevada town. Susan Stroman’s production is thoroughly entertaining and while act 2 seems to go slightly off the rails, this is truly a fantastic production.

Leading the cast is Charlie Stemp, who won over theatregoers hearts as Arthur Kipps in Half A Sixpence and as Bert in Mary Poppins, respectively. And he sings, acts and dances like a dream in this production as he has done in those. But something that really shined for him in this production is the physical comedy aspect, which I hadn’t seen him do before. He’s a true leading performer, his star continues to rise and rise and deservedly so. He also makes one half of a fantastic pairing with Carly Anderson as Polly Baker, who is also a sensation in this role and they both have electric chemistry with each other. There’s fantastic support from Merryl Ansah and Tom Edden, both of whom shined in their own ways as well.

Susan Stroman’s choreography is beautiful and really helps heighten the story. It’s always at 100% and doesn’t dip below this as the show kicks off with a great tap number at the start and just keeps going. I also really liked Beowulf Boritt’s encompassing set as I felt it really gave both the New York/Follies scenes and the Nevada scenes their own individuality.

As I said, the plot does go a bit off the rails in act 2 and a few scenes feel like filler. But with two brilliant lead performers and a show that’s about the love of live theatre, it’s no wonder people have flocked to this production. At time of posting, today is the last day of the run in Chichester, but I really hope this isn’t the last of this. Fingers crossed for a West End run!

Ride at Charing Cross Theatre*
Rating: 4/5
Running until: 17th September 2022
Ticket link: https://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/ride

Do you know the story of Annie Londonderry? I didn’t either before going into this musical. Turns out she was the first woman to cycle around the world as a result of a wager that sort of landed in her lap. The musical follows Annie’s journey in 1894 as well as her motivations into doing the journey in the first place.

This two hander is performed by two fantastic actresses who are just at the start of their careers. Liv Andrusier is sublime as Annie, she possesses buckets and buckets of charm and charisma which suits the character so well. But she can also really deliver on the emotional scenes too. Alongside her is Yuki Sutton who juggles many, many characters to aid in Annie’s story and she floats between them all with such ease. Both actresses have long careers ahead of them with their incredible acting and their vocal pipes of steel.

Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams’ book and score are really well paced and the music is pretty catchy. I can’t wait to hear a cast album of the score, there are definitely a few ear worms within it. It’s quite an achievement of how much of Annie’s story they managed to squeeze into 90 minutes without making any of the scenes feel like filler. There’s some lovely choreography from Natasha Harrison that made use of the small space. The set design by Amy Jane Cook is superbly detailed, although I wished it was used more to tell the story throughout as I felt this didn’t really kick in until towards the end.

This is a superb new musical that you’re definitely going to want to check out. And you’ll be able to say you were there when Liv and Yuki’s careers eventually go into the stratosphere.

I, Joan at Shakespeare’s Globe
Rating: 4/5
Running until: 22nd October 2022
Ticket link: https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/whats-on/joan-2022/

A buzzy new adaptation on Joan of Arc and their story, Charlie Josephine’s new play positions the legend of Joan into a story that’s relevant to today. In this version, Joan has been called on by God in order to fight into battle while at the same time battling their own sense of gender and how they identify as themselves.

I found this play completely and utterly fascinating. Charlie Josephine’s script is full of action and drama and I thought it was really clever to take such a well known figure of history and present how they interpret them. What a perfect place to host this production then Shakespeare’s Globe, a place renowned for rejecting gender binaries.

The use of the “wooden O” with the outdoor space works well, particularly when Joan is amongst the crowd, amongst their people as it were. There’s a really cool slide on the stage which looks a lot of fun, although I do wish there was a bit more of a set to further heighten the story.

Leading the cast as Joan is Isobel Thom who is truly sensational and I really couldn’t believe this was their professional debut. What a great future they have ahead of them. Also thought Adam Gillen was fantastic as Thomas and Jolyon Coy who provided such great comedic relief in act 1 as Charles then switches this up seamlessly in act 2.

Overall, I thought this was a really great new play and a real treat to see more non-binary leads in theatre, as our non-binary pals deserve to see themselves represented.

Until next time!

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