Month: September 2014

The Book Of Mormon – Bit of a change from Frozen!

Hello everyone! I apologise from the deepest recesses of my being to all of you for not uploading in an absurd amount of time. I’m not going to make excuses because I doubt you care so in the immortal words of the pythons lets “GET ON WITH IT!”.

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Recently I had the displeasure of growing another year older. I’m sure you’ve all been there. And like most years I received presents. This year though I got a present that was indeed rather special, you see for those of you who don’t know I am a massive South Park fan. Actually probably more like a massive Matt Stone and Trey Parker fan and ever since I heard about their spectacular new musical titled “The Book Of Mormon” I have been wanting to see it more than anything else. The dilemma I faced though was at first it was only in America and then once it moved to the U.K. It was a bit out my price range, mainly because it is only shown in a single theatre in London. Now for some reason the greater powers have seen fit to bestow me with an incredibly generous girlfriend that knew this. So yeah, if you haven’t guessed it yet, we went to see The Book Of Mormon. I mean seriously if you had trouble seeing that one coming you should probably get help. We’re worried for you.

Now just to say that I was going into this thing with high expectations would be an understatement. I purposely distanced myself from anything that might give the game away or tell me just that little bit too much about what happens in the show so that when I got to finally see it I would have no anticipation of what was to come and could really experience it all for the first time. One thing that really took me by surprise though was the level of showmanship and presentation. It’s well known that Trey and Matt are perfectionists and are always totally hands on with their work but I honestly didn’t think that would be so clear on the stage. And talking of the stage boy do they use it! This isn’t the type of show that would translate to the screen or really any other art form for that matter and that just is a testament to the care that went into crafting it. I mean why make a stage show if you’re not going to the use the stage to its full advantage?

The music and songs are catchy and cleaver and like with most of their humour sometimes outrageous. They have this skill of taking something really witty and blending it with the most childish things to really help deliver the jokes. It’s very pythonesque in that respect. The songs themselves are expertly written by Trey and Robert “Bobby” Lopez, The writer and director of the other comedy musical Avenue Q and who more recently had critical acclaim when him and his wife wrote the music for Disney’s very own Frozen. Yep that’s right, Frozen. What’s more is that they manage to catch you off guard with a lot of the show and I don’t just mean the humour. The characters are all really well portrayed and excellently crafted and you genuinely feel an emotional attachment to them.  There is a level of emotion that you really don’t expect when going into the show. Everyone feels believable and real which then in turn makes the funnier parts even more so. Anyone here that has seen the South Park Movie though will already be aware of the skill with song lyrics and music of Trey and Matt but are thinking what about dance numbers? Well have no fear, some of the dance numbers in this show are some of the best I have seen and again they work the dancing into the joke or scene. Every movement is done for a reason, which it is evident, and like with the use of the stage they use the dancing to great effect.

In terms of Story I will give you a brief synopsis as I really don’t want to give anything away. It’s about two Mormon teenagers that get sent to Uganda for their Mission. Chaos ensues. The main characters Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are phenomenal. A.J. Holmes really shone as Elder Cunningham and was quite honestly a revelation and I am shocked that I had never heard of him before this musical. Just to clarify as well that I am of course referring to the British version of the cast  as that is the one that I watched. All of the actors in the show were very good at personifying their respective characters but one other that really stood out was the character of Elder McKinley played expertly by Stephen Ashfield. Again Stephen just brought a certain presence to the character whenever he was on stage and although wasn’t in the show a massive amount still managed to make his parts really memorable.

If you are a fan of comedy, musicals or even just Mormons then this is the show for you! what’s even better is that because of the theatre that the show resides in I can say to you that there aren’t really any bad seats. You are able to see the entire stage comfortably from wherever you are so don’t worry if you can’t necessarily afford the most expensive seats .

A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunnigham

A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunnigham

Tickets start from £39.75 and are on sale online and from ticket offices, The show is preformed at The Prince Of Wales Theatre in London.

 

10/10 Must watch!

-Joe

 

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Quickpickle – Kick-Ass: The Score – a review

kick assEver since I watched Kick-Ass for the first time last year, it has stayed right at the top of my favourite movies list, definitely ranking in the top five. I enjoyed it so much and re-watched it so many times, and then I found out that there was an OST (official soundtrack) that had been featured in the movie and was available for purchase – it’s safe to say that I was a little ecstatic about this new information. So I raced off and bought it immediately, and it definitely did not disappoint.

From the moment you press Play on the first track, you are immediately transported to another world. With the first track featuring the epic line, “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” as the score begins, it sets your heart racing while building to a crescendo, until the music bursts through. As the songs progress, you can feel the tone of the movie changing – from epic battle scenes to devastating scenes of death and destruction, each track evokes different emotions within the listener, and it almost feels as though I’m watching the movie all over again, for as I listen to this album, all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see the film playing out in my mind.

Composed by John Murphy, with killer tracks featuring The Prodigy, Henry Jackman, and Marius De Vries, this album is definitely one heck of a production. Seriously, just give it a listen sometime – you may not think much of it now, but after hearing it, I reckon you’ll all feel like superheroes ready to defeat the villain.

5/5 – One of the greatest musical scores I’ve ever come across.

~Steph.

Locke Review- Directed by Steven Knight

 

 

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“An interesting, well written film even if bearing a somewhat muted ending.”

 

Tom Hardy is an actor now associated with big Hollywood blockbusters. Ask anyone about Hardy, and some will point at Eames from the loud crash and bang thriller Inception, most will point to Bane from the Batman Trilogy. This is an entirely different film altogether. This film is put together on a much smaller budget, and is staged in an even smaller set. However just because Tom Hardy has traded his usual place of standing amidst the chaos of an anti gravity hotel or a network of eerier subterranean tunnels for the comfort of a BMW 5- Series, this isn’t a film to be disregarded.

 

Locke is the story of one man’s life unraveling over the course of a single car journey. Ivan Locke (played brilliantly by Tom Hardy) is first introduced to us as a pragmatic man who has it all. He has a successful job, a loving family, and tomorrow is set to be the crowning moment of his career. But after a series of phone calls, he is forced to put all that he has built in his life on he line.

 

For those who have seen any trailers or commentaries of the film, would’ve probably seen that this film has been sold as a nail-biting thriller. However after watching all 90 minutes of the film, I would summarise that this is more of a drama than a thriller. Those seeking heart-pounding action will therefore have to look elsewhere. Set entirely in the inside a car with the lone Tom Hardy, the film’s plot is carried by faceless callers on a hands free phone. They’re predominantly comprised of Locke’s wife (Ruth Wilson) a co-worker named Donal (Andrew Scott) and a woman named Bethany (Olivia Colman) whom is having Locke’s baby.

 

As each of the phone calls unravel the mystery behind Locke’s reason for taking an unscheduled detour, the dramatic tension continues to build as bit by bit we watch Ivan Locke’s life begins to crack and crumble. Tom Hardy delivers a stellar and engaging performance which (in a film this understated) is essential. This film bears no attempt to detract from the acting with fancy CGI, car chases, gunfights and people being shot in the face. Instead, it takes the innovative approach to simply focus on one man and his mistakes. Bearing this challenging role in mind Hardy does incredibly well to give his character depth, and the accompanied voice acting helps sustain your interest right from start to finish.

 

It is a big strength that the film is also incredibly well written, for if it wasn’t this film could’ve quite easily been a dull, uninspiring mess. Everything from Ivan’s background, to the mistakes he has made has be fastidiously considered and carefully crafted. This makes for some quite touching, amusing and memorable moments throughout.

 

However this film isn’t without its weaknesses. It’s an interesting, well-written film that for me possessed a somewhat muted ending. As his journey comes to a close and we finally come to terms with the changes of Locke’s life, the film makes an attempt at a resolve on some aspects of Locke’s life. This hinders the closure of the film leaving you with an uncomfortable ambiguity as to how Ivan Locke is going to confront the situation he has found himself in.

 

Verdict

 

4/5

 

Even with a muted ending, the acting and well written tale that has been woven into this original piece of film making definitely deserves a watch.

Luke H

Young & Hungry – a review

Young-Hungry-Key-Art So I’m just going to jump right on into this week’s review by talking about Emily Osment, who has recently blossomed into a superb young actress and is getting heaps of much-deserved recognition. A lot of you might recognise her as the hilarious tomboy skater girl Lilly Truscott, who starred in Hannah Montana as the protagonist’s best friend throughout all four seasons. She also played the main role in the movie Cyberbully (2011), a film looking into the power of the internet and how cyber bullying can have dire consequences and can do a lot more damage than one might initially think. Ever since her baby-faced days on Disney Channel, there’s always been something about Emily Osment that I liked, so when I heard that she was going to be starring in a new show on ABC Family, I was dying to watch it.

Young & Hungry begins by introducing us to Gabi Diamond (Osment), a food blogger and aspiring chef who lives in an apartment with her banking intern roommate, Sofia. But Gabi has a long way to go before achieving her dreams, and so she applies for a job to be a personal cook for young entrepreneur Josh; despite being underqualified for the job, Gabi manages to impress Josh with her culinary skills, and so he hires her, much to her surprise and delight. This paves the way for eight episode of greatness, and here are just a few reasons why I think everyone should watch this show (especially now that season one has just finished, so you can marathon all eight episodes in one delicious sitting!)

Aside from the fact that Emily Osment is fantastic, the other cast members definitely need a look-in too. Aimee Carrero, who plays Sofia, is charming and hilarious, and comes wrapped in a layer of sarcasm and wit, which makes her even more of a joy to watch on screen. Her interactions with Gabi are brilliant, and by the end of the first episode it is impossible not to adore the kooky pair. They are also extremely relatable as individual characters; trying to achieve their dreams, experiencing relationship drama, and leaning on each other for support – seeing such a genuine portrayal of friendship in this show is wonderful.

The rest of the cast is also amazing – from Josh’s loud-mouthed housekeeper Yolanda to his flamboyant personal assistant Elliot, every character is unique and memorable, and with a cast of only five permanent actors, it is easy to immerse yourself in the lives and happenings of each person on the show.

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Speaking of the supporting cast, I need to take a moment to congratulate the show’s casting team in this area – I mean, it’s very rare to have a show that ticks just one or two boxes in terms of diversity, but Young & Hungry really takes the cake (excuse the pun!) when it comes to having a range of people in the show. First and foremost, its main character is female; this in itself is refreshing, as already this is showing a difference compared to other male-centric shows. The main cast is then made up of three females and two males – three out of these five are people of colour, and one is also homosexual. I literally drown in representation every time I watch a new episode and I love it. Also, one episode focuses heavily on a lesbian storyline involving a character played by Ashley Tisdale, and seeing a story like that treated so normally and with such great humour was so refreshing to watch. And yes, I am aware that sometimes the characters (in particular Elliot, who is gay) can exhibit some stereotypical traits at times, but in no way is it done maliciously or to make fun of certain groups of people, and that is something I appreciate very much.

Along with the supporting cast, the guest stars are also marvellous. As aforementioned, Ashley Tisdale stars in one episode and a few episodes later, Jesse McCartney makes an appearance; both of these cameos are excellent, but the most entertaining guest star in my opinion is Mallory Jansen, who plays Caroline, Josh’s snooty rich girlfriend who provides bucketful’s of laughs with her cavalier bourgeoisie lifestyle and obliviously obnoxious attitude.

Written by David Holden and produced by none other than Ashley Tisdale, this show is one of the best break-out shows I have come across in a while, and has definitely kept me entertained over the last eight weeks. Here’s hoping we get a season two!

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5/5 – While the show has copious funny moments, it also has some very touching scenes, with heart-warming words and meaningful messages being conveyed, making it an all-round success.

~Steph.

Grim: A New Musical – a review

GRIM “A love story to die for.”

 

I’ve always been a lover of the theatre. From a young age, I remember my parents taking me to various shows, ranging from my sister’s school plays to outstanding plays performed in the West End. So when my mum told me that she’d booked us tickets to see a brand new show in London this week, I was over the moon.

On the surface, ‘Grim’ already looks like a rather interesting play – it follows the character of Grim (otherwise known as the Grim Reaper) who goes to a little town to fulfil her tasks of taking the souls of the dying, but her plans are firmly thrown off-course when she meets none other than Cupid himself. And then the story takes a turn for the unexpected. Cupid finds himself instantly taken by Grim, and vows to have her return his bold affections. However, Grim is unused to the behaviour of others; being the Angel of Death, she is accustomed to darkness and loneliness, and so at first, Cupid’s advances are unwelcome and she quickly rejects him, much to his dismay.

But then, she meets Amelia. A timid girl who is often ridiculed by her classmates, Amelia is more withdrawn than ever after the devastating death of her baby brother, of which she blames herself for, due to his dying in a fire after she left him in his room with a candle so he wouldn’t be afraid of the dark. But then, after admitting all of this to Grim, Amelia is given some precious advice from the Reaper, who tells her that as long as her intentions were never bad, then she has nothing to feel guilty for. She never meant for her brother to die, and so she is not responsible for the tragic happening. Grim reassures Amelia that her brother’s death was a severely grim2unfortunate accident, but that it was not Amelia’s fault. This moment forges a strong bond between the girls, and for the first time in their lives, they are both thrilled to have someone to call a friend. Amelia then talks some sense into Grim and convinces her to talk to Cupid, which sparks some much-overdue feelings of affection between the pair.

But then, things take an ugly turn. The other students are wary and fearful of Grim and her strange aura, and they’ve noticed that the death toll has risen noticeably since she moved to town; they vow to be rid of her before she can wreak any more havoc, unaware that she is bound by her responsibility as the Angel of Death and that taking the souls of people causes her a great amount of pain and guilt.

As the story builds to a climax, Grim realises that she cannot be with Cupid, for anyone she ever gets close to ends up befalling a terrible fate. She bids him farewell, saying the same to Amelia, who is grief-stricken at the loss of her friend, but knows that it’s for the best.

However, Grim does not anticipate the sudden consequences of her rejection of Cupid; so when she finds him close to death after attempting to take his own life, she is horrified. But, she knows that if she doesn’t take his dying soul to be with her in the afterlife (as was his plan) then he will be forever lost in a state of limbo; and so she takes him.

This is a surprisingly happy ending, though – Cupid’s death, while sad, means that he and Grim can finally be together. Clad in matching black robes, they exit the stage together during the final scene, their love plain for all to see.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable production, with beautiful staging and a wonderful cast; it was captivating from start to finish, and had some surprisingly funny moments too. So if you’re ever in London and you fancy seeing a show, I definitely recommend taking a trip to see ‘Grim’. With an enchanting vibe that extends to other great productions like Wicked, this is one event that is not to be missed. And if you’ve never been to the theatre before now, then you could use this as your first experience – and I’ll be damned if you don’t leave the theatre with a huge grim– I MEAN, grin, on your face.

5/5 – Oh, and just to add further incentive – did I mention that it’s a fantastic musical too?! Showcasing a cast with voices as sweet as honey and as powerful as a herd of stampeding bulls, the soundtrack to this show is hauntingly beautiful and will make the hairs on your arms stand on end in the best way possible.

~Steph.