Tag Archives: Emily K Neal

The Greatest Love of All
★★★★

London Palladium

The Greatest Love of All

The Greatest Love of All

London Palladium

Reviewed – 19th May 2019

★★★★

 

“a thoroughly entertaining evening and a wonderfully fitting homage to Whitney Houston”

 

Presented by Showtime Australia, The Greatest Love of All is billed as a live concert honouring the talent, music and memory of Whitney Houston. The show has already been introduced to audiences worldwide and, this time, it was London’s turn to experience two hours of Whitney hits.

Whether you’re a fan of Whitney Houston, or perhaps not as familiar with her music, Belinda Davids ensures a great evening. From the moment she takes to the stage, she has the audience in the palm of her hand, belting out those high notes and nailing the softer moments in songs. We are encouraged to get up from our seats during some of the numbers, including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, which the majority of the packed out London Palladium does without much persuasion. Davids’ energy and enthusiasm never falters in the time she is on stage and she maintains a powerful presence throughout, as well as being personable.

Accompanying the vocals are a six-piece band and the National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, who are on stage throughout. This generally works well, although the musicians did appear to overpower the vocals at the start of the show. One musician gives an especially notable performance, playing the saxophone, flute and keyboards at various points. The saxophone solos are particularly effective and give an enhanced energy to an already lively show.

There are some nice visual elements to the show. Lighting design fits in with the moods of the songs, with colourful lights for the upbeat numbers and spotlighting for the emotion-fuelled ballads. Visual effects include vibrant designs and sequences (some best described as kaleidoscopic) shown on screens either side of the stage and a main screen at the back. Far from distracting from the vocal performances, this element complements the whole show and is amazingly effective.

Director Johnny Van Grinsven has clearly put a lot of thought into a production that could quite easily have turned into just another tribute show. Alongside a stunning performance from Belinda Davids, there are talented musicians, dancers and fantastic visual design all combining to create a thoroughly entertaining evening and a wonderfully fitting homage to Whitney Houston.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

 


The Greatest Love of All

London Palladium

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The King & I | ★★★★ | July 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

The Marvelous Wonderettes
★★★★

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

The Marvelous Wonderettes

The Marvelous Wonderettes

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 11th April 2019

★★★★

 

“a celebration of two great eras for music”

 

It’s 1958 and the evening of Springfield High School’s prom. The Marvelous Wonderettes, consisting of Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy, are set to provide the entertainment, and that they do!

The four performers are immediately recognisable as 1950s teenagers. Costumes (Emily Bestow, Designer, and Susan Hodges, Costume Supervisor) are classic fifties style dresses, each one a different pastel shade, which makes for an eye-catching design element. This is complemented well with the use of matching props including lollipops and school exercise books.

Within Act One we’re treated to an array of fifties hits (vocal arrangements by Roger Bean and Brian William Baker), including Mr. Sandman, Lollipop and Stupid Cupid. As well as group numbers, each character performs solos as part of their efforts to be voted Prom Queen. Joseph Hodges has directed them well and good use is made of the small performance space.

Act Two finds us at Springfield High School’s Class of 1958 ten year reunion, with obvious sixties style costumes a clear reflection of this. The Marvelous Wonderettes are again performing, but this time with updates on their love lives, heartbreaks and big events. This is realised through the performance of hits from the sixties, including You Don’t Own Me, Son of a Preacher Man and Respect. In both acts, the four performers display strong vocals as well as good storytelling through song.

Characterisation is spot on, with each girl bringing something different to the table with their personaility traits. From Betty Jean (Louise Young) and Cindy Lou’s (Rosie Needham) clear schoolgirl rivalry to Missy’s (Sophie Camble) sweet peacemaker role and Suzy’s (Kara Taylor Alberts) lovable quirkiness, there’s a lot to keep us entertained.

This show is undoubtedly a celebration of two great eras for music. Although the plot (Roger Bean) is quite basic, this is not a massive issue as the four performers do a good job of engaging the audience through their delivery of the catchy songs, as well as some highly entertaining audience interaction scattered throughout. With impressive harmonies and high energy performances, go and join The Marvelous Wonderettes for an evening of nostalgic fun.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by  Kevin Ralph

 


The Marvelous Wonderettes

Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 12th May

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
A Night at The Oscars | ★★★★ | February 2018
After the Ball | ★★★ | March 2018
Return to the Forbidden Planet | ★★★ | May 2018
Kafka’s Dick | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nice Work if You Can Get It | ★★★★ | December 2018
Bad Girls The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
Strike Up The Band | ★★★★ | March 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com