Tag Archives: Allie Daniel



Lyric Theatre

HADESTOWN at the Lyric Theatre


“Hadestown is the West End musical you’ll want to see this year. And next year. And the year after.”

Hadestown is that remarkable thing: an adaptation of a tragic Greek myth that isn’t an opera or a film, or a series of elegiac poems, but is instead a bluesy, jazzy, rock musical with an uplifting ending. Yes, you read that right. Anaïs Mitchell, who wrote the music, lyrics and book, promoted early versions of Hadestown from rural beginnings in Vermont for years before she found the right team to help bring her vision to Broadway. And after taking Broadway by storm in 2019, it’s now the turn of London’s West End. This production of Hadestown has found just the right venue. The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue is big enough to enhance the energy of its multi-talented cast, yet intimate enough to create the mood of a jazz club in New Orleans.

Hadestown is not the first musical to adapt the ancient Greek story of singer songwriter Orpheus and his wife Eurydice, but this is a fresh take on an old story. In the original, Orpheus and Eurydice are newly weds, blissfully happy until Eurydice dies from a snakebite. Unable to accept her loss, Orpheus follows her into Hades’ realm, with only his musical talent for protection. But Hadestown is not just about Orpheus and Eurydice. It’s also the story of another pair of doomed lovers, Persephone and Hades, the King and Queen of the Underworld. Plus their part in the environmental destruction that’s taking place on the planet above them. There’s a lot of material to unpack, but Mitchell’s lyrics, music and book are satisfyingly complex enough to hold it all.



Mitchell and her team have made some changes to the original Greek myth. Orpheus is still the dreamy artist, too busy composing songs to notice the danger his wife is in. Eurydice is an orphan in this version, hungry and cold. When the King of the Underworld tempts her with a one way ticket on his train to hell, she gives up Orpheus for food and shelter in return. Her story is mirrored in that of Hades’ unhappy wife Persephone. Hades, the brutal capitalist, is too busy exploiting his workers to pay much attention to her. The irony is that Hades thinks he can chain Persephone to him with his profits in gold, silver and jewelry. In the Hadestown version of the myth, there are four unhappy people with much to give. Yet they keep making the choices that bring them all to hell. There’s a lesson there for all of us. Fortunately it takes the form of memorable songs, brilliant lyrics, plus a book that is unusually complex and thought provoking. With so much packed into Hadestown, it’s easy to forgive the length of this musical. And one or two spots where the action slows, and you waken, for a moment, from the dream.

The Lyric Theatre’s production of Hadestown has put together a fantastic cast, and a band of great talent to support them. Despite the formidable leading men, Dónal Finn (Orpheus) and Zachary James (Hades), this production belongs to its leading women. Gloria Onitiri as Persephone and Grace Hodgett Young as Eurydice fill the space with their powerhouse voices, and Melanie La Barrie (Hermes) is both a voice to reckon with as well as a sympathetic narrator. Fates Bella Brown, Madeline Charlemagne and Allie Daniel turbo charge the female power on stage. The rest of the cast are equally dynamic supporters, and there’s no question the musicians are up to the task of backing these voices. Trombonist Daniel Higham and Brad Webb on drums stand out as they add just the right amount of jazz club intimacy to draw the audience in. The choreography (David Neumann), costumes (Michael Krass) and lighting (Bradley King) echo the sense of nightclub ambience. Together with the vision of Mitchell, the direction of Rachel Chavkin and Rachel Hauck’s scenic design, the team keeps this version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth paradoxically intimate, while seamlessly transferring the action between upper world to underworld, with assists from stage lifts and revolves.

Hadestown is the West End musical you’ll want to see this year. And next year. And the year after. Take your friends. This version of a classical Greek myth is something we can all relate to. Orpheus and Eurydice’s love story may have a tragic ending, but you’ll leave the theatre in an upbeat mood.

HADESTOWN at the Lyric Theatre

Reviewed on 21st February 2024

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Marc Brenner



Previously reviewed at this venue:

GET UP STAND UP! | ★★★★ | August 2022



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How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying


Southwark Playhouse



How to Succeed

“a highly intelligent musical that lampoons modern ideas of success and ambition”


Just over sixty years ago the musical satire, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” took Broadway by storm, winning eight Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for best drama. Based on Shepherd Mead’s semi-autobiographical, humorous novel of the same name, it charts the rapid rise of J. Pierrepont Finch up the corporate ladder as he pursues his American Dream. It is inevitable that the office politics and gender assumptions are going to struggle to stand the test of time, but Georgie Rankcom’s exuberant and dynamic staging dismisses any reservations we might have with sheer razzmatazz and inventive risk-taking in the personnel department.

Gender blind casting is nothing new. In fact, it has become a bit of a paradox: the choices these days are nearly always far too deliberate to have been taken ‘blindly’. Discussion aside, it might not always work. But in this case, it adds an essential twist – and much needed sympathy for the principal, self-obsessed characters. Gabrielle Friedman, as the scheming and deceiving Finch, is an endearing mix of opportunism, cynicism and self-deprecation; played with a twinkle as bright as their comic asides are subtle. We can’t fail to be on their side as Finch cheats, lies and manipulates his way to the top. Already at the top is the misanthropic, misogynist company boss, J. B. Biggley. Tracie Bennett grabs the role by the horns and wrestles it into a loveable beast of burlesque parody.

Everything works wonders. And it is refreshing to see that the book and lyrics are an unashamed joke, shared by performers and audience alike. You don’t need a manual to instruct you not to take this too seriously. Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert’s book is charged with shocking wit and pertinent observation, while Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics elevate the piece with a captivating score and libretto. But that’s a sure thing. The real success lies in the staging. Alexzandra Sarmiento’s choreography is as sharp as any knife used by these back-stabbing individuals.

But the acerbity is softened by vulnerability and sensitivity. Allie Daniel in particular, as Finch’s love interest, gives a stunning performance as Rosemary Pilkington, the secretary who yearns for his neglect and would just be “happy to keep his dinner warm”. Daniel embodies comic genius and vocal virtuosity in a powerhouse of a performance. Her comic timing is matched by Elliot Gooch, who deliciously struts with camp abandon as Biggley’s nepotistic nephew intent on revenge. The quality of the singing cuts across the board, each voice given their moment in Loesser’s uplifting score which allows the characterisation to shine through. Grace Kanyamibwa comes into her own during the number ‘Brotherhood of Man’; an uplifting mix of scat and gospel. Nobody steals the limelight as solos merge into duets, into rousing company ensembles. Bennett’s finely tuned, gravelly tones blend lushly in ‘Love from a Heart of Gold’ with the operatic cadences of Annie Aitken, Biggley’s mis-appointed mistress and secretary. Verity Power, Milo McCarthy, Danny Lane, Taylor Bradshaw all stand out, and fall back in line again in what is probably one of the most generous and joyous companies on the London stage.

This is a highly intelligent musical that lampoons modern ideas of success and ambition, and not so modern ideas of a women’s place in the workforce, and old-school mentality. It does so with affection, not for the culprits but for the victims. ‘A Secretary Is Not a Toy’ is simultaneously behind, and ahead, of its time in this production. The aching duet ‘Rosemary’ is timeless, and beautiful. And the humour of the piece is brought out in ‘Coffee Break’, ‘Been a Long Day’ and ‘Paris Original’.

Finch may have used a how-to manual to reach success. Alas, in reality there is no handbook available to create a successful musical. But clearly this company doesn’t need one. The success of this show is pretty much guaranteed. Anyone can see that – without really trying.


Reviewed on 16th May 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Pamela Raith



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Strike! | ★★★★★ | April 2023
The Tragedy Of Macbeth | ★★★★ | March 2023
Smoke | ★★ | February 2023
The Walworth Farce | ★★★ | February 2023
Hamlet | ★★★ | January 2023
Who’s Holiday! | ★★★ | December 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | September 2022
The Prince | ★★★ | September 2022
Tasting Notes | ★★ | July 2022
Evelyn | ★★★ | June 2022


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