Tag Archives: Apollo Theatre

REVIEW: Idina Menzel live at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue

Accompanied by a 25-piece orchestra, the Tony Award-winning Broadway and Glee star has returned to London for a week-long concert season. 

Menzel bounds barefoot onto the stage at the Apollo Theatre in the West End and for the next two hours she chats, jokes, engages in some audience participation and above all belts out a series of songs that have either defined her career or have personal meaning.

The musical highlights include: Don’t Rain On My Parade, Over The Rainbow, Joni  Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Somewhere from West Side Story which she names as her favourite song ever, and a mash up of Cole Porter’s Love For Sale and The Police’s Roxanne. There are of course nods to her most famous roles with an audience participation version of Take Me or Leave Me from Rent and of course,The Wizard and I and Defying Gravity from Wicked. The most poignant moment of the evening comes as she shares her story about working with the late, great Marvin Hamlisch and sings his song At The Ballet from A Chorus Line.

It is her personality that sets Menzel apart. Despite her status as a Broadway superstar she is self-effacing, endearing, funny and, well, downright normal. She makes unnerving amounts of eye contact, stops to pose for photos and shares some personal as well as showbiz anecdotes with the packed out and very vocal crowd making this a more intimate and personal experience. Hopefully it won’t be too long before she graces our shores again.

REVIEW: Jerusalem – Apollo Theatre, London

“A comic, contemporary vision of rural life in our green and pleasant land, Jez Butterworth’s epic play is wildly original. In part a lament about the erosion of country life and in part a rebuff to the antiseptic modern world, it features a landmark central performance from Mark Rylance as hell-raiser Johnny Byron, ‘a performance so charismatic, so mercurial, so complete and compelling that it doesn’t look like acting’ (Evening Standard), and a superb ensemble cast including Mackenzie Crook who excels as Johnny’s sidekick Ginger.”

So much has been written about this play, mostly in superlatives. I didn’t manage to get a ticket for this first time round in the West End so I made sure on its return from the Tony Award winning run on Broadway that I got one.

I’m a huge fan of Mark Rylance – there are too few fearless actors any more and he is always willing to push the boundaries of performance and always so utterly magnetic.

I hate to jump on the band wagon but I really must add my own praise into the mix. This was an absolute tour de force – I have no idea how Rylance can keep up the focus or summon the energy to give a performance like this night after night. He is spell-binding. The dialogue is a treat and it was genuinely rib-achingly funny in parts and heart-rendingly sad in others. Praise must go to the rest of the cast – Mackenzie Crook and Alan Davis in particular.

This was a thing of rare quality and a real privilege to see.