OPEN AIR THEATRE
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (musical)
Ends 22nd September 2018.
Captioned performance: 31st August 2018 at 7.45pm
Audio Described performance: 8th September 2018 at 2.15pm
Seymour is a bullied florist's assistant with a taste for rare plants and Audrey
- a victim of domestic violence. Seymour's latest rare plant has a taste for
blood... Sassy musical fun for almost all...
DINOSAUR WORLD LIVE (show for children)
Ends 9th September 2018.
This show brings dinosaurs to life on stage in an interactive show for all the
family (ages 3+). Following a hugely successful UK tour last year, DINOSAUR
WORLD LIVE returns due to popular demand, now featuring a brand new Triceratops.
The 2018 UK tour opens on 30 March at The Broadway, Peterborough, visiting a
further 30 venues nationwide, followed by a 4-week summer season at Regent’s
Park Open Air Theatre in London (14 August - 9 September 2018). The 2018 cast
includes: Elizabeth Mary Williams (Miranda), Alexandra Harman (Understudy
Miranda/ Puppeteer), Darcy Collins (Puppeteer), Liam Wright (Puppeteer),
Samantha Arends (Puppeteer), Chris Milford (Puppet Technician/Puppeteer).
Using stunning puppetry to bring remarkably life-like dinosaurs to the stage,
DINOSAUR WORLD LIVE presents a host of impressive pre-historic creatures
including every child's favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex,
along with a Giraffatitan, Microraptor, Segnosaurus and Triceratops. The show
introduces Miranda, daughter of palaeontologists, who grew up surrounded by
dinosaurs on a far-away island off the coast of South America. She has brought
her pre-historic pals to your local theatre and would love you to meet them.
Warning: some of these dinosaurs aren’t as docile as they seem!
If looking for fun things to do with the kids, DINOSAUR WORLD LIVE delivers an
entertaining and educational live show that promises to delight the whole
family. Each performance is followed by a post-show meet and greet where
audience members have the opportunity to meet some of the dinosaurs in person.
DINOSAUR WORLD LIVE is written and directed by Derek Bond (Sweet Charity,
Manchester Theatre Awards 2017 winner, Little Shop of Horrors Manchester Royal
Exchange). The creative team includes: Puppet Designer Max Humphries (National
Theatre, Royal Opera House, Cirque de Soleil); Puppet Director Laura Cubitt
(Running Wild, Chichester Festival Theatre; Don Quixote, RSC; War Horse NT
Berlin); Puppetry Consultant Toby Olié (for the National Theatre: Elephantom,
Peter Pan, The Light Princess, Hansel & Gretel, NT: 50 Years on Stage and also
the original hind puppeteer of Joey in War Horse); Set & Costume Designer James
Perkins; Lighting Designer John Maddox and Sound Designer Tom Mann. Produced by
EXTRA EVENT ON TOUR:
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of ‘TO KILL A
MOCKINGBIRD’ will return for a UK tour in 2019, opening at Curve Leicester on
7th February 2019. With further dates soon to be announced.
See www.curveonline.co.uk or call
0116 242 359 for details.
(Seen at the evening preview performance on 4th August 2018)
Every so often, the Open Air Theatre drops the ball with a weak revival of a
great show. The last occurrence, for the monkey, was “Ragtime” in 2012. Sadly,
with an oddly similar backdrop, 2018 seems to be the year.
In fact, the backdrop is a forewarning. Proudly stating “Drive In Movie
Theatre.” The monkey queried it, thinking that America always spelled it “Theater,”
but was told it was correct for the period. It remains unsure and can’t find
research to suggest it is so. Feel free to email.
Moving on. This manages issues with staging, cast, and - unusually - sound
design. The last is usually perfect every year, but this time Nick Lister for
Autograph produces a biscuit-tin at best. Perhaps it will improve during
previews, but the monkey isn’t hopeful.
Tom Scutt’s spelling query aside, he fills the stage with shopping trolleys and
cartoon sky-scrapers, crowding out the action and, with director Maria Aberg,
destroying key moments with busy movement the stage crew struggle to keep pace
with; even as the actors clamour desperately to get their emotions across.
Worst of all, Scutt, Aberg and others who can’t be found for apportioning blame,
decide to eschew the usual “all puppet” plant in favour of an enormous drag
queen Vicky Vox. Nothing against Vox at all – she struggles manfully with the
comedy, obviously knowing it would sound better coming from a
loveable-but-deadly snarky pot plant. Thus the first charm of the show is lost.
Almost as sad, leading loves Seymour (Josh Baker) and Audrey (Jemima Rooper)
feel mis-cast. He should be a weedy nerd of little brain, she should be equally
dreamy with a sullied innocence. What we get is a pretty buff guy in a Richard
Ayoade tribute wig, and a mature woman who really should know better. Baker
handles his songs with heavy touch, Rooper almost wins over the scenery in
“Somewhere That’s Green” but misses completely the musical theatre vocal
required for major duet “Suddenly Seymour.”
As sadistic dentist Orin (Matt Willis) mis-fires on every level. He’d need to
share the nitrous oxide around to get the monkey to laugh, let alone find him as
menacing / entertaining as he appears to find himself while under the influence.
Later, as a range of other characters, he fails to find much in any of those
either. Not a good choice.
Still, there are redeeming features.
Forbes Masson as Mr Mushnik is credible, with a nice line in Yiddish
pronunciation. Even better, the trio of Chiffon (Renee Lamb), Ronnette
(Christina Modestou) and Crystal (Seyi Omooba) are fun guides – Modestou in
particular an expressive performer with an engaging style.
A couple of other neat touches – guess who provide the initial voice-over (you
won’t, but it’s fun), and the fairly amusing “flowers” provide a little
entertainment, but for the most part there’s just no spark, life or bouncing
parody that the work needs to really let rip as the joyous spoof celebration of
all things anti-Americana that it really should be.
Not much bloomin’ good, is the monkey verdict.
Photo credit: Johan Persson. Used by kind permission.
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