Jan 12, 2012

2011 Musical Roundup VI: The Performance

Now we come to the recognition of good and bad performance that I've seen in 2011.

Note:  Each category is listed in alphabetical order.

Favourite Leading Male Performance
Norbert Leo Butz in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Broadway (Agent Hanratty)
Bertie Carvel in MATILDA: THE MUSICAL, London (Miss Trunchbull)
Van Hughes in AMERICAN IDIOT, Broadway (Johnny)
Sean Jones in BLOOD BROTHERS, Leeds (Mickey)
John Owen-Jones in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, London (Phantom)

Favourite Leading Female Performance
Sierra Boggess in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25, Royal Albert Hall (Christine)
Faye Brookes in LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, Manchester (Elle Woods)
Sarah Ingram in ANNIE, Leeds (Miss Hannigan)
Verity Rushworth in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Leeds (Maria) & ANNIE, Leeds (Grace)
Rachel Tucker in WICKED, London (Elphaba)

Favourite Supporting Male Performance
Billie Joe Armstrong in AMERICAN IDIOT, Broadway (St. Jimmy)
George Asprey in THE LION KING, London (Scar)
Earl Carpenter in EVITA, Leeds (Juan Peron) & THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25, Royal Albert Hall (Auctioneer) & WE WILL ROCK YOU, Leeds (Kashoggi)
Nigel Harman in SHREK: THE MUSICAL, London (Lord Farquaad)
Oliver Thornton in PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, London (Adam/Felicia)
Favourite Supporting Female Performance
T.V. Carpio in SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, Broadway (Arachne)
Sharon D. Clarke in GHOST: THE MUSICAL, Manchester (Oda Mae Brown)
Wendy Ferguson in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, London (Carlotta)
Loretta Ables Sayre in SOUTH PACIFIC, Manchester (Bloody Mary)
Claire Sweeney in LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, Manchester (Paulette)

Favourite Child Performance
Josh Baker in BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL, London (Billy Elliot)
James Beesley in MATILDA: THE MUSICAL, London (Bruce)
Cleo Demetriou in MATILDA: THE MUSICAL, London (Matilda)
Sophie Downham in ANNIE, Leeds (Annie)
Marc Wadhwani in LES MISERABLES, London (Gavroche)

Disappointing Male Performance
Michael Crawford in THE WIZARD OF OZ, London (Professor Marvel, Doorman, Tour Guide, The Wizard)
Jason Donovan in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Leeds (Captain Von Trapp)
Waylon Jacob in THE LION KING, London (Simba)
Nigel Lindsay in SHREK: THE MUSICAL, London (Shrek)
Marti Pellow in JEKYLL & HYDE, Leeds (Jekyll/Hyde)

Disappointing Female Performance
Ava Brennan in THE LION KING, London (Nala)
Amanda Holden in SHREK: THE MUSICAL, London (Princess Fiona)
Alexia Khadime in LES MISERABLES, London (Eponine)

Favourite Understudy Performance
Wendy Ferguson in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25, Royal Albert Hall (Carlotta)
covering for Kiera Duffy
Christopher Jacobsen in LES MISERABLES, London (Jean Valjean)
covering for Ramin Karimloo
Lisa Davina Phillip in GHOST: THE MUSICAL, London (Oda Mae Brown)
covering for Sharon D. Clarke 
Cheryl Stern in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, Broadway (Jacqueline)
covering for Christine Andreas
Ben Thompson in AMERICAN IDIOT, Broadway (Favorite Son)
covering for Joshua Henry

Favourite Onstage Pairs
Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee in MARY POPPINS, Broadway (Mary Poppins and Bert)
Norbert Leo Butz and Aaron Tveit in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Broadway (Agent Hanratty and Frank Abagnale, jr.)
Harvey Fierstein and Christopher Sieber in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, Broadway (Albin/Zaza and Georges)
Jodie Jacobs and Giovanni Spano in FOOTLOOSE, Leeds (Rusty and Willard)
Paul Kaye and Josie Walker in MATILDA: THE MUSICAL, London (Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood)

Favourite Scene-Stealers
Lewis Griffiths in LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, Manchester (Kyle)
Nigel Harman in SHREK: THE MUSICAL, London (Lord Farquaad)
The Ladies of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, Broadway
Laurie Scarth in SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL, Manchester (Sister Mary Patrick)
Toto in THE WIZARD OF OZ, London

Favourite Ensemble
The ensemble of AMERICAN IDIOT, Broadway

2011 Musical Roundup III: The Bad

After listing my top 10 favourite shows, in part 3 of my musical roundup, I will go on to list the top 5 most disappointing shows I've encountered this year. At least, I'm glad that there wasn't enough shows that I was disappointed with to make the top 10. This is meant to be a PERSONAL recollection for myself and not, by any means, to discourage any actors or theatre companies out there. Here we go.

(Palace Theatre, London) 

Oliver Thornton, Richard Grieve and Don Gallagher
as Adam, Tick and Bernadette inside the Priscilla bus
I had quite high expectations with this show since many people I know who has seen it told me it was good but honestly, I didn't care much for it. I think the musical has so much more potential and there were many more things that can be done to make it, at least, a better musical. The book was thin, the jukebox musical theme could have been used better. There were times when I felt bored or felt that the show and music were really irrelevant. I was hoping for a lot more with the stage and production design, though I quite like the bus and the costume.
 (London Palladium, London)

Danielle Hope as Dorothy and Michael Crawford as the Wizard
with Toto
I wanted to love this show, I do but I was bored at several points in the show. I mean the production design was all right and I appreciate the turn from sepia Kansas to colourful Oz but apart from that, nothing really stood out for me. How the book was presented was not excited at all. The original music sounded dated and repetitive. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new music was uninspired and merely serviceable. The cast overall ranges from good (Danielle Hope as Dorothy, Marianne Benedict as The Wicked Witch of the West understudy) to disappointing (The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion as well as the legendary Michael Crawford).


Keith Jack as Joseph with the Narrator
during "Go, Go, Go Joseph"

I normally love Joseph but this touring production of it was a very mediocre one. The stage design was uninspired and it felt very robotic. I felt like the actors were doing what they were supposed to do and not what they wanted to do. The jokes weren't funny and the ensemble was far less than my expectation. Keith Jack, though all right in the title role, was less superior than the other Josephs I've seen or heard. I was also disappointed with Adam Jarrell as the Pharaoh.
(Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London)

The original London cast of Shrek: The Musical
(clockwise from left) Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, Nigel Lindsay as Shrek
Richard Blackwood as Donkey and Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad
How could a show work if you cast someone who can't sing or act? Shrek: The Musical in London suffered a lot from its weak casting. I mean the production design was overall good and interesting but the cast absolutely killed it. Nigel Lindsay couldn't sing and I just didn't believe that he was Shrek at all. Richard Blackwood was no Eddie Murphy. He was more annoying than funny and I think act one suffered a lot because of his lack of funniness. The role of Princess Fiona was written for Broadway's triple threat Sutton Foster and here they still cast someone who can't really match up to her at all. Amanda Holden's Princess Fiona, though serviceable, was far from perfect. Shrek also boasted one of the worst roles for ensemble cast I've seen. The only saving grace of the show was Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and he was amazing but him alone couldn't save the show. I also didn't like the change that they made from the Broadway version especially the opening.

(Grand Theatre, Leed) 

Marti Pellow as Jekyll with video projection of Marti Pellow as Hyde
during "Confrontation"
Definitely the worst thing I've seen in years. I love Jekyll & Hyde and though I wasn't expecting Marti Pellow to be Anthony Warlow (original complete recording) or Bob Cuccioli (original Broadway cast), he managed to make me hate him even more than David Hasselhoff. The guy couldn't act and he just couldn't manage to sing this highly demanding role. The supporting cast were no better and the production design was mediocre. Personally, I feel that Jekyll & Hyde's problem lies in its direction decision as well as poor leading man casting. I mean the bloke needs to sing A LOT of belting Broadway tunes, if they would just at least cast someone who could sing, the audience would have enjoyed him more...