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Get yourself to the Royal Academy before the end of the year to see Abstract Expressionism. Really worth the visit.

Tickets available online or free if you’re a Friend of the RA. Abstract Expressionism closes on 2 January 2017.

Sarah Southern

Anastasia

Anastasia should be a one act ballet.  It started its life as a one act ballet but MacMillan added two additional acts as a prologue. He originally created Anastasia for the German Deutsche Oper Berlin in the late 1960s focusing on Anna Anderson who claimed to be daughter of the last Tsar of Russia.  When transferring the ballet to London for the Royal Ballet in the 1970s the extra two acts were added.  They are so different that it feels like you walked into a different theatre for third act.

Anastasia is on at the Royal Opera House until 12 November. Tickets available online.

Read reviews of Anastasia: Guardian, Spectator

Sarah Southern

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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How do you follow a seven book mega film franchise?  Well, with a two part theatre extravaganza, of course. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is six hours of theatre in one day. And it still goes too quickly.

Tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child went on sale at the end of October 2015.  I queued online for over 2 hours to get my tickets.  I then waited 10 months to actually sit in my seat.  I felt very invested in its success before I had even entered the Palace Theatre.

Not wanting to give anything away, #keepthesecret, this is a play that you must see.  It doesn’t matter that you can’t get tickets until December 2017 – book them now anyway.  You will be on the edge of your seat.  You’ll be blown away by the magic.  It has to be seen.

Tickets can be booked online.

Sarah Southern

 

Groundhog Day

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Groundhog Day the movie is a real guilty pleasure of mine.  A film with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell where his day is on loop.  What’s not to love? Knowing the team behind Matilda where working on the musical stage version was reason enough to get excited and ensure I secured some tickets.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of the 1993 film, Groundhog Day follows the tale of Phil Connors, a local tv man, who is in Punxsutawney on 2 February to see the groundhog turn (it’s a weather tradition thing) and gets trapped by a snow storm.  Waking the next morning it is still 2 February and continues to be so for a long time.  Repeating the day over and over.

Transferring this well known tale to stage, when the audience have such an expectation for such a loved film, must have been a challenge.  A challenge executed perfectly.  The staging, pace, costumes and characters made me love this version more than the film. Tim Minchin’s lyrics and music were wonderfully brilliant and you’ll definitely be looking them up on youtube when you get home.

This is a musical that is smart, funny and as soon as you leave makes you want to book again.  If it doesn’t transfer to the West End I’ll be disappointed.  It needs a longer run and a wider audience.  Expect a sweep of awards at the next Olivier awards.

Groundhog Day is on at the Old Vic until 17 September. Book tickets online.

Read reviews elsewhere: Guardian, Telegraph, The Stage

Sarah Southern

Frankenstein

Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein opened last night at the Royal Opera House.  A must see for all.  5 stars.

Tickets available now via Royal Opera House.

Sarah Southern

Cleansed

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When Cleansed came to stage in February there were reports of people fainting, walking out and generally being appalled by the gruesomeness of what was on stage.  I’d half forgotten this when I booked to see this on a Wednesday afternoon.  I’d perhaps not got into the right zone to watch so much violence and nudity.

The play, written by Sarah Kane, was originally performed at the Royal Court in the late 1990s.  The revival at the National Theatre has received some mixed reviews (Telegraph, Guardian, Spectator) yet I quite enjoyed it.  The nudity just made me wonder how naked the actors had to get in rehearsals and when two actors swapped underwear whether this was really hygienic.  Nudity has perhaps had its day as shocking.  The sad-masocistic torture left me in shocked and the shooting of rats with a gun genuinely made my heart skip a beat.

The audience was incredibly young, perhaps as it was a Wednesday matinee.  But a real positive to see the majority of the seats filled with people under 30.

Cleansed closes on 5 May.  Tickets can be bought via National Theatre.

Sarah Southern

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, written by August Wilson in the early 1980s, has been revived by the National Theatre.  It follows the story of Ma Rainey and her band at a recording studio in Chicago, set in the 1920s.

Tickets are available at the National Theatre until 18 May.

Reviews: Telegraph, Guardian, The Stage, Time Out

Sarah Southern

 

People, Places and Things

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People, Places and Things has transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre after a critically acclaimed run in the Dorfman Theatre at the National.  The lead actress Denise Gough won the Oliver the night after I watched this play.  If she hadn’t won there would have needed to have been a recount.  Her performance was pure brilliance.  This was already a hot ticket so pause reading this and book a ticket now!

People, Place and Things follows the addiction of Emma, an actress, who is checking herself into rehab. She is funny, likleable and at times a little too relatable.  Denise Gough perhaps gives the most realistic performance of a drunk I’ve ever seen.  Just the right amount of stumbling and mumbling.

This was a joint production between the National Theatre and Headlong.  Headlong were behind the brilliant Chimerica which I adored when it transferred to the West End in 2013.  People, Places and Things had the same pace, sharp change of set and drew you in to the story in the same dynamic way.  Please, Headlong, keep producing these new, fresh, fast placed plays.

People, Places and Things is on the Wyndham’s Theatre until 18 June.  Tickets available online and day tickets are available at 10am for £25.

Read reviews of People, Places and Things: Guardian, Time Out, Independent, Telegraph

Sarah Southern

Woman in Gold

Whilst researching some films for a project at work I came across Woman in Gold with Dame Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.  Turns out it was downloaded on our Apple TV so I had a little gander of it last night.

Woman in Gold is about the story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish Austrian woman who fled to the US during World War Two.  Her family had been successful business owners in Vienna during the early part of the 20th century.  Her aunt Adele had been painted by Gustav Klimt and the painting, along with other artworks, were looted by the Nazis in the 1930s.  The painting is know as Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted in 1907.  You’ll recognise the painting.  It’s pretty famous.

The film follows the relationship of Mirren as Maria Altmann and Reynolds as her lawyer Randy Schoenberg.  It has a similar feel to the relationship between Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench in Philomena,  That slightly oddball but warm relationship between an older woman and a young man who is reaching a difficult pass in his life.  I like it.  It helps a difficult and often emotional subject matter to be tackled with humour and warmth.

The younger Altmann is played by the brilliant Tatiana Maslany who you probably won’t have seen in Orphan Black.  Shame, as you have missed out.  Woman in Gold reminds us of the lives that people had torn away from them.  It is a tear jerker with softer and funnier sides to it.  Definitely worth a watch.  And it has really made me want to visit this amazingly beautiful painting.

You can rent Woman in Gold from iTunes now and see the painting for real at the Neue Galerie in New York.

Read reviews of the film: Telegraph, Guardian, Variety

Sarah Southern

 

 

The Winter’s Tale

Have you booked tickets yet for The Winter’s Tale at the Royal Opera House?  Well, you should.  Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and music by Jody Talbot with Lauren Cuthbertson in the principal role and first came to stage in 2014.  It is a real delight and should not be missed – I will be seeing it at least twice in the coming month.

2016 marks the 400th celebration of Shakespeare with multiple cultural organisations marking the occasion and the Royal Opera House’s production of The Winter’s Tale is part of this celebration.

Reviews from 2014: GuardianTelegraphIndependent

Tickets can be bought from here. Remember that Royal Opera House also has about 50 days seats available on the day.

Sarah Southern