The RSC have hit the musical jackpot once again with Matilda, a show of bite, bile and some brilliance based on Roald Dahl’s popular children’s story about a young girl who is utterly neglected by her horrible parents and finds a refuge in books and storytelling.
Mamma Mia!, here I go again! And again and again — and still I can’t resist it. I reckon I’ve now seen it at least 14 times around the world from San Francisco to Stockholm, and last Monday, I was back at the original London production as it celebrated its 10th anniversary (coinciding neatly with the 35th anniversary of Abba’s Eurovision song contest win with ‘Waterloo’ that launched their international careers).
Last year we had two speculative theatrical imaginations of our reigning monarch the Queen’s interactions with her Prime Ministers: a whole slew of them in The Audience, and with just one of them, Margaret Thatcher, in Handbagged (which coincidentally has just transferred to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre).
No, it’s nothing to do with cow milkers in the Channel Islands; but Jersey Boys is a musical that’s the cream of the crop of pop compilation musicals that have lately become a theatrical epidemic. One of these was a 60s jukebox show called Oh What A Night, and it’s a pity that it therefore stole the title this one should have had
The National Theatre is on another amazing run of hits that has turned it into Britain’s most successful theatre, bar none. Every single show now playing there is worth seeing, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is unmissable. Like War Horse that has given the theatre its biggest-ever hit, it is based on a book but it translates it into something thrillingly theatrical that hugs the audience in its warm embrace.
The talented young cast of The Commitments give this stage version of Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel, best known for the 1991 BAFTA Award winning film, plenty of commitment. The loud and long musical jukebox score — which draws on a programme listing of nearly 40 songs, not all of them given in their entirety — is naturally embedded into the action by being about a Dublin-based soul covers band.