Tag Archives: Joe Aaron Reid




Seven Dials Playhouse



Seven Dials Playhouse

Reviewed – 15th February 2022



“unquestionably funny and also heartbreakingly sad”


We need to talk about “Steve”. Or rather Steven. And Stephen. And Esteban (the Spanish form of Stephen). There’s another Steve, too, in Mark Gerrard’s tragicomedy who lurks, unseen, offstage but just as instrumental in the unravelling of the tightly knitted relationships of his namesakes and their best buddies. Even the late Stephen Sondheim is ever present throughout this production, to whom it is dedicated; his music a constant undercurrent, and wisps of his lyrics reverently scattered over the dialogue. There is something elegiac about Gerrard’s bittersweet tale. A parable, almost. Self-aware and conscious of the passage of time.

The play opens with Steven celebrating his 47th birthday in a downtown New York bar. Although not in a fully-fledged midlife crisis, Steven is struggling with the transition into middle age. A stay-at-home Dad, he is also grappling with the notion that his long-term partner is having an affair with his best friend’s partner. Meanwhile his closest confidante, Carrie, is terminally ill. Fuelled by vodka stingers he inevitably spills out his emotions, upsetting his guests and the glasses on the table. But no matter, Argentine waiter Esteban is on hand to clear up the literal and figurative mess. So, too, is the rewind button which replays the scene avoiding the outburst and offering a smoother transition into the unfolding narrative that follows.

Andrew Keates’ spirited and passionate direction perfectly mixes a human story with a heightened, almost musical delivery from the characters. Whenever it becomes a touch absurdist we are pulled back into the nitty gritty of everyday life. Infidelity, parenthood, monogamy, mortality, impending death, lost opportunities. We all know the score. We may have heard it before, but Gerrard manages to make it fresher by putting it in the context of same sex relationships. But even that concept, like the play’s protagonists, is reaching a certain age, and Gerrard is cleverly questioning whether the gay community itself might be having a midlife crisis. ‘Where do we go from here?’ he seems to be asking. While celebrating the huge progress made over the decades, there is a whole new set of questions now. Inspired by the passing of the New York marriage bill, Gerrard is reflecting on the double-edged nature of the milestone. “Oh my god, now we can get married. What are we supposed to do with that?”

This is definitely not a ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenario, however. Nor is it a caricature of the gay American Dream. The writing is too sharp for that and at times the sexuality is irrelevant. It speaks to everyone. It is fundamentally about relationships and friendships and how we look out for and after each other. It is unquestionably funny and also heartbreakingly sad. Keates makes us care deeply about the personalities laid bare before us, aided by his impressive cast.

David Ames holds the fort as Steven, hilariously abrasive and camp but deeply caring and easily wounded. Jenna Russell gives an absolutely glowing performance as Carrie, the bold and brazen lesbian confronting her terminal illness with more strength than all the men around her put together. All the performances are exceptional; strongly twisting the dialogue – wringing out the laughs and the tears in equal measure. The highs and lows are mirrored by Ben Papworth at the piano, echoing the emotions with his dynamic and varied accompaniment.

The phrase ‘Once Upon A Time’ is a leitmotif throughout the show that reminds us that this is a New York Fairy Tale – in many senses of the word. But it also reminds us that the happy endings promised are more elusive than we once thought. We have come a long way, Gerrard seems to be saying, but there’s still further to go. But, hey, forget the psychobabble – “Steve” is in essence a hugely entertaining tragicomedy. Sharper than most that cover similar ground, it cuts through societal and sexual divides and then unwittingly sews them together. It appeals to all of us – and is a ‘must see’.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by The Other Richard



Seven Dials Playhouse until 19th March


Previously reviewed by Jonathan this year:
Freud’s Last Session | ★★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | January 2022
A Level Playing Field | ★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2022
The Devil’s in the Chair | ★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2022
An Evening Without Kate Bush | ★★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2022
Us | ★★★★ | White Bear Theatre | February 2022


Click here to see our most recent reviews





Sonia Friedman Productions is delighted to announce that the highly anticipated Original London Cast Recording of the new, hit West End musical Dreamgirls, will be released on Sony Classical mid-April and is available to pre-order today via Amazon.


This brand new double-album was recorded live last month at the Savoy Theatre. It captures the on-stage exhilaration of the original London cast of Dreamgirls, the 14 piece band and the audience, and features iconic songs from the musical including ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’.

The Dreamgirls Original London Cast Recording is produced by Henry Krieger and mixed by Andy Bradfield. This cast recording features Amber Riley as Effie White, Liisi LaFontaine as Deena Jones and Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell Robinson – making up the soulful singing trio ‘The Dreams’; Joe Aaron Reid as Curtis Taylor Jr, Adam J. Bernard as Jimmy Early, Tyrone Huntley as C.C. White, Nicholas Bailey as Marty and Lily Frazer as Michelle Morris and Michael Afemaré, Jocasta Almgill, Callum Aylott, Hugo Batista, Samara Casteallo, Chloe Chambers, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joelle Dyson, Kimmy Edwards, Candace Furbert, Nathan Graham, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Gabriel Mokake, Siân Nathaniel-James, Sean Parkins, Kirk Patterson, Ryan Reid, Rohan Richards, Noel Samuels, Durone Stokes and Tosh Wanogho-Maud.

The long-awaited UK premiere of Dreamgirls opened at the Savoy Theatre in December 2016 to widespread critical acclaim, 35 years after originally opening on Broadway and is Directed and Choreographed by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!), with Set Design by Tim Hatley, Costume Design by Gregg Barnes, Lighting Design by Hugh Vanstone, Sound Design by Richard Brooker and Hair Design by Josh Marquette. The Musical Supervisor is Nick Finlow, the Orchestrator is Harold Wheeler, with Additional Material by Willie Reale.
Swarovski is delighted to be the Set and Costume Design partner for Dreamgirls, bringing to life the incredible visions of Tim Hatley and Gregg Barnes. Over one million Swarovski crystals have been incorporated into the production, adorning 275 costumes and 3 crystal curtains.
Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history. Dreamgirls charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous.
With Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen and Music by Henry Krieger, the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett, opened in 1981 and subsequently won six Tony Awards®. The original cast recording won two Grammy awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.’ In 2006 it was adapted into an Oscar winning motion picture starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.
Liisi LaFontaine is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.


Dreamgirls (Original London Cast Recording)

Cat. number: 88985429492
Barcode: 889854294922
Formats: 2CD & Digital
Label: Sony Classical



Full show information can be found at:





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