Tag Archives: Mike Faist

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain





Brokeback Mountain

“Dan Gillespie Sells’ minimalist score is the pulse of the piece. The songs are an essential narrative. A mood board and a close-up lens.”


Let us begin with what “Brokeback Mountain” is not. It is not a musical, most certainly not a queer musical. Nor is it a flag bearer for the LGBTQ community. Ashley Robinson’s ninety-minute play with music, based on Annie Proulx’s deeply moving novella, defies categorisation. It simply rests on its own uniqueness, to be gently devoured by the watcher. Comparisons to Ang Lee’s 2005 feature film should be avoided. Jonathan Butterell’s production has a voice of its own, sometimes barely more than a whisper, but one whose effects will rise above a lot of the clamour in the West End.

The story is one of forbidden love, framed within the memory of an ageing Ennis Del Mar (Paul Hickey). We are invited to remember a time and a place where being gay could very well be fatal. We are in a scrubland of back-country homophobia that shapes the destinies of two home-grown country kids; ill-informed and confused but wading, ultimately drowning, in bittersweet longing. Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges plays Ennis Del Mar, fearful and quiet, and ‘not much of a talker’, as pointed out by Mike Faist’s brisk and breezy Jack Twist.

They meet in 1963, both hired hands on Joe Aguirre’s (the charismatic Martin Marquez) sheep ranch. Sharing roll-ups and campfire banter, their laddish camaraderie evolves into a drunken fumbling which, after insisting is a one-time affair, becomes a lifelong passion – detached from, yet destroying their respective marriages, families and their own sense of themselves. Their presence is quite magnetic, but the onstage chemistry is not always strong enough to express the deep sense of longing.

The full force of the emotional landscape is brought to us through the music. Dan Gillespie Sells’ minimalist score is the pulse of the piece. The songs are an essential narrative. A mood board and a close-up lens. Greg Miller’s yearning harmonica with BJ Cole’s pedal steel guitar fill the silences with an emotional depth the dialogue can only dream of. Sean Green’s restrained leitmotifs on the piano perfectly underpin the plaintive vocals. Eddi Reader’s voice has a gorgeous purity, scratched by a smoky rawness that echoes the spirit of the protagonists and guides us to their hearts.

The intimacy of the play is captured, too, in Tom Pye’s thoughtful design, drifting from canvas and campfires to the chipped furnishings of Ennis’ home. There the story reaches beyond the central couple shining a light on the sad neglect of Ennis’ wife, Alma. In a stunning stage debut, Emily Fairn subtly exposes the danger that her husband has put himself in. And consequently, the danger for herself too. At its core, “Brokeback Mountain” is a tragedy of two people having to keep their love hidden from the world. But the repercussions go further, touching each and all, which Fairn brilliantly emphasises. Similarly, backing singer Sophie Reid, in a heart-wrenching cameo as Jack Twist’s wife, Lureen, brings home the aching tragedy.

“If you can’t fix it, you gotta stand it” intones Jack Twist, more than once. Fortunately, since the time this is set in, society has ceased to stand it and started to try fixing it. Unfortunately, however, the play’s desolate ending is not something that is confined to history. “Brokeback Mountain” is an important piece of theatre. Compelling and tender. Powerful but fragile. Gentle yet hard-hitting. And quite unmissable.



Reviewed on 19th May 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Manuel Harlan



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The Merchant Of Venice 1936 | ★★★★ | Watford Palace Theatre | March 2023
The Great British Bake Off Musical | ★★★ | Noël Coward Theatre | March 2023
The Tragedy Of Macbeth | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse Borough | March 2023
Ruddigore | ★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | March 2023
Killing The Cat | ★★ | Riverside Studios | March 2023
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2023
David Copperfield | ★★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2023
Dom – The Play | ★★★★ | The Other Palace | February 2023



Click here to read all our latest reviews


Dear Evan Hansen

Our competition to win a copy of the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack ends 1st April 2017 – click here for details.
Here’s some more information about how successful the album has been and the show itself.



Dear Evan Hansen, is the new musical with a book by Obie Award-winner Steven Levenson and a score by Tony® Award nominees Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. Directed by 3-time Tony® Award nominee Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen began previews on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre (239 W 45th St) on November 14th 2016 and officially opened on  December 4th 2016. The show is currently booking on Broadway until March 2018. No real indication yet as to when or even if the show will open on the West End – fingers crossed …

The Broadway cast of Dear Evan Hansen includes Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Mike Faist, Michael Park, Will Roland and Kristolyn Lloyd, and Michael Lee Brown, Garrett Long, Olivia Puckett, Colton Ryan, and Asa Somers.

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new American musical about life and the way we live it.

Dear Evan Hansen features scenic design by David Korins, projection design by Peter Nigrini, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, and hair design by David Brian Brown. Music supervision, orchestrations and additional arrangements are by Alex Lacamoire. The music director is Ben Cohn. Vocal arrangements and additional arrangements are by Justin Paul. Danny Mefford is the choreographer. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting, Lindsay Levine, CSA. Adrienne Campbell-Holt serves as Associate Director. Judith Schoenfeld will serve as Production Stage Manager, with Michael McGoff as Stage Manager.

Dear Evan Hansen had its world premiere at Arena Stage, Washington D.C. and played a record-breaking New York debut at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage. Last season, the musical won ‘Best Musical’ prizes from the Obie Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards and Helen Hayes Awards.



The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Dear Evan Hansen made an extraordinary debut on the Billboard 200, entering the chart at #8 – the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961. In addition, the album debuted at #4 on Billboard’s “Top Album Sales” ranking, and #1 on the “Top Broadway Albums” chart.

One of only four cast albums to reach the top 10 of the “Billboard 200” in the last 50 years, the album’s historic success even outpaced the debut chart position of the Hamilton, which bowed at #12. The other two albums to reach the top 10 in the last half century were Rent and the Original 1969 Cast Recording of Hair.






Production Images in this article are by Matthew Murphy




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