February recap

I can’t review every single show that I go to, but it’s nice to keep track of the ones that got away from my critical eye! I’ve also managed to tick a few more shows off my ‘to see‘ list this month. Here are a handful of February’s shows that I haven’t posted about…

The Last Tango

Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace are two of the most well-known proponents of the famous Argentine dance, the tango, and they are currently in the midst of touring their final show. It’s a nostalgic tale; George (Teddy Kempner) is clearing out his attic and finds a series of items that take him on trips down memory lane. There is very little in the way of dialogue, instead the dancing tells the story completely. It’s an inspired set of songs, many of which are from classic musicals – it is instantly accessible and a real visual treat. The entire ensemble is hugely talented at both dancing and singing, but it’s undeniable that Vincent & Flavia are the stars of the show. Their partnership has always been a perfect fit, but it seems to improve & sparkle more every time I see them perform. I really enjoyed the incorporation of the Charleston & jive into the early parts of the show, but of course the tangos were the shining lights – it was hard to keep my eyes off their feet, with some very intricate choreography and embellishments in the Argentine tangos. My absolute highlight had to be a very emotionally charged number towards the end, where the couple parted. I’m not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes at its beauty & pure storytelling power. It’s a truly wonderful show, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it has a West End residency in the future.

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Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone in The Last Tango
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

The Maids

I’ve managed to see this a couple of times already, having booked a few months ago, and it hasn’t officially opened yet (hence no full review). It was partly to see the awesome talents assembled on one stage, as well as being intrigued by the story. I enjoy Jamie Lloyd’s style, so I generally try to see as many of his productions as possible. Obviously there has been a bit more time for refinement (press night is tomorrow), but I have to say I was left a bit disappointed after both of my visits. The cast are incredible, there’s no doubt that they are at the top of their game. My impression was that it’s focusing more on style over substance – there are some bits of the script that feel a little overdone, and there’s some distracting background music in random sections. A little more work on this, rather than altering the hairstyle of one of the cast, is required for this production to show its full potential. I really hope it does.

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The Maids
Photo credit: Jamie Lloyd Company

Chicago

A show that I’ve wanted to see onstage for such a long time and, despite being sat in the back row of the stalls with the overhang occasionally getting in the way, one that I really enjoyed. It’s great having the band up on the stage and being truly involved in the show (in particular I loved the entr’acte – all of the musicians and the MD really get into it!), and amazing that such a story can be told convincingly in a minimalist fashion. The choreography was stunning, with some Fosse originals thrown in, and brilliantly performed by a talented company. I wasn’t particularly sold on Sam Bailey’s performance as Mama Morton; she kept changing her voice (both speaking & singing) from line to line, and her vocals didn’t seem very strong at times. Far more accomplished were Hayley Tamaddon (a cute & quirky Roxie), Sophie Carmen Jones (the sassy Velma Kelly), Neil Ditt (sweet & charming as Amos Hart) and John Partridge (a suave Billy Flynn). ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’ was probably my favourite number, combining fantastic moves with quick lyrics & human ventriloquism. The tour is making its way around the country, so be sure to see it when it’s near you.

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The cast of Chicago
Photo credit: @ChicagoOnStage

Of course I’ve still been a regular at the best show in the West End: Sunny Afternoon! So I thought I should take this opportunity to implore you to vote for it to make the Magic Radio Audience Award shortlist at this year’s Olivier Awards. You have until 12pm on Friday 11 March to help us out! If you need any justification, try reading my review of the current cast, or possibly my recent love letter (of sorts) to the show. It technically encompasses the latter half of the original cast’s exploits, so if you’ve only seen them then you know how fantastic they were… The shortlist will be announced on Monday 14 March.

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Photo credit: Kevin Cummins/@KinksMusical
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