Monday, 12 October 2015

bye bye birdie

On Friday 4 September we all - with Hei Mun (who organised it, of course), Laura and Margaret - went to the Old Rose & Crown in Walthamstow (my first time in this pub theatre) to see Bye Bye Birdie. It was very good. I enjoyed it at least five times more than Miss Saigon, which I'd seen the day before; the younger generation, conversely, preferred Miss Saigon; when I asked tonight why she didn't like this one so much, she said that nothing happened in it.

A stage musical from the early 60s, made into a film which I've never seen. Funny script, proper songs, very good performances, lots of harmony/ensemble singing, and good dancing. They took a risk playing good songs from the period before the start and at the interval, but the show's music bore the comparison.

The small band was at the back of the performing area (audience seated on two edges of the 'stage', front and left). One of the most striking things, which actually made the show more enjoyable, was how much the drummer in particular seemed to be enjoying not only playing but also watching the show; she was very cheery; and indeed I tracked her down on Twitter to thank her for this enhancement of the theatregoing experience...

I didn't know any of the songs, except the short 'We love you Conrad, we do' song, which passed into popular culture, perhaps via 'We love you Beatles', as a football terrace song, as in 'We love you Arsenal, we do'.

Once again an excellent fringe production worthy of a much bigger theatre, and performers as good as any on a west end stage, whether living out a career in the London fringe or a bright hope for the future. We'd seen Zac Hamilton (Conrad Birdie) before, in Princess Ida at the Finborough (he has a memorable face; a couple of others may have been in things we've seen, but I didn't remember them). The standout performances were Ryan Ford Iosco as the manager Albert Peterson, Liberty Buckland as his assistant/fiancee Rose Alvarez, Abigail Matthews as fan club president Kim Macafee and Harry Hart as her dad Harry Macafee.

(One of the most interesting things in the programme is that most of the cast listed their Twitter account in their bio. I've noticed more and more that people in fringe/offWE things I see are active on Twitter, which must be useful professionally.)

All Star Productions do things regularly there, I think, perhaps usually musical, and Bethan went there with Hei Mun earlier in the year to see something.

Some reviews. BritishTheatre. A Younger Theatre (a surprisingly poor review, which suggests I should ignore Lucy Streeten's reviews in future because we obviously see things very differently). LondonTheatre. MusicalTheatreReview. Voice Studio (someone's reviews on their work site). IndieLondon. Remote Goat. Civilian Theatre (a review blog, new to me). Unsurprisingly, not so many reviews on the first couple of results pages, and all online-only reviewers.