Tag Archives: Joshua Gannon

Fiddler on the Roof
★★★★★

Menier Chocolate Factory

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof

Menier Chocolate Factory

Reviewed – 6th December 2018

★★★★★

“warm and intimate, yet vast and epic at the same time”

 

“Fiddler on the Roof” is based on the stories of one of the most famous and beloved of all Jewish writers; Sholem Aleichem, who came to be known as the ‘folk singer’ of the Russian shtetl. Written between 1894 and 1914 the stories were a series of stand-alone monologues told by the character of Tevye to the reader. Aleichem had started to amalgamate these into a dramatic adaptation but died before he could finish it, but what he had already managed to do in his tales was to capture the hunger and the passion of his people trying to survive under desperate circumstances, but also the humour and the irony.

The often-staged musical has reflected this with varying degrees of success, but it is safe to say that Trevor Nunn’s revival hits the notes perfectly with a truly magical mix of mockery and menace. The story centres on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon his family’s lives, not least of which is the edict of the Tsar that evicts Jews from Russia. At the same time, he is coping with the strong-willed actions of his three eldest daughters who wish to marry for love and whose choice of husband moves further away from the customs of the faith and heritage that he is, sometimes reluctantly, clinging onto. This production brings to the fore the deeply rich humour of Joseph Stein’s book. But we are never quite allowed to escape the shadow of the impending threat of exile.

Andy Nyman makes this show his own with his portrayal of the patriarch ruled by his wife, Golde (a perfectly pitched performance from Judy Kuhn). Nyman’s effortless stage presence sculpts a wholly heartfelt and honest portrayal of his character, veering between tradition and compassion, and bending his beliefs, where necessary, for love. He knows exactly when to switch on and off the comedy, a skill matched by the entire ensemble. The same sensitivity is applied to Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics. Often unfairly branded as kitsch, the poignancy and the irony are accentuated by the fine performances. And combined with Jerry Bock’s sumptuous score, orchestrated for an eight-piece band, it is an exceptionally moving piece of musical theatre.

Choreographer Matt Cole remains faithful to Jerome Robbins’ original which is a feast for the eye. In fact, all our senses are treated to this outstanding rendition. Full of belly laughs it is a cry from the heart. The gorgeous strains of “Sunrise, Sunset” segue into a euphoric wedding dance which, in turn, is broken by the arrival of a vicious tsarist pogrom.

It is warm and intimate, yet vast and epic at the same time. It speaks softly to each of us yet its message shouts out to all of us. The source material is over a century old, but it is still sadly topical and the final scene where the villages flee their homeland is breathtakingly stirring. The musical ends not with a bang but a whisper. Not with a chorus line but a band of silent souls heading towards an uncertain future. The lone fiddler is beckoned, and he steps down from the roof to follow them.

All that can follow this is the standing ovation this production deserves. A production that is heading towards a far from uncertain future.     

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Johan Persson

 


Fiddler on the Roof

Menier Chocolate Factory until 9th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Gronholm Method | ★★★★ | May 2018

 

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Bromance: The Dudesical – 4 Stars

Bromance

Bromance: The Dudesical

The Other Palace

Reviewed – 18th October 2018

★★★★

“a gut-bustingly hilarious pop rock musical”

 

Brush up on your brocabulary because we’re heading to guyville. A place of bros, dudes, beer and chilli cheese fries. Bromance: The Dudesical is a gut-bustingly hilarious pop rock musical. It follows the story of Tom (Cellen Chugg Jones), Dick (Robbie Smith) and Harry (Richard J Hunt); three bros doing bro things. But on St Patricks day they come across Marty (Joshua Gannon), the opposite of a bro. We follow their quest of taking Marty on the road of bro.

First, I want to say, this show is brilliant. The music by Kyle Ewalt is genius. What starts off as a pop rock musical, skilfully glides through a plethora of music influences, from Disco to Country to Jazz. The lyrics by Michael Ian Walker and Kyle Ewalt are well crafted and add an additional layer of humour to the already hilarious script. My particular song favourite was ‘Heartburn’ performed by Harry.

With the wonderful material in play, the execution is pivotal. The five member cast succeeded in that regard. They are strong, full of energy and committed to what they are doing. Their energy pulsates throughout the entire fun, silly and irreverent two hour show; particularly in the stylised choreography. All were excellent, but the leading front bro for me was Robbie Smith as Dick. He is unstoppable in this role, creating a fully realised bro, commanding the stage and delivering the role with such humour and precision. A special mention must also go to Esme Laudat who faultlessly picks up all the female roles.

Despite everything that is going for this show, there are a few areas that need working on. There were a couple of stumbles with staging and words, and with the calibre of material and talent on stage, I expected better. The sound (Joe Morris) needs serious work; the mics of the performers seemed to cut in and out quite regularly and when they did work, the balance didn’t seem right, so you could hear some but not others. On a more positive note, the set design (Dan Gillingwater) in the small studio space of The Other Palace was very clever.

Bromance: The Dudesical is excellent. It has its problems, but they are easily fixable. I came out of The Other Palace, feeling uplifted by this show. Go check it out, bro.

 

Reviewed by Shaun Dicks

Photography by  Andy Keelan

 


Bromance: The Dudesical

The Other Palace until 24th October

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Eugenius! | ★★★★ | February 2018
Suicide | ★★★½ | May 2018

 

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