4.12.2019, Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

Martin Skriver

Interview with MARTIN SKRIVER and SØREN BECH-MADSEN from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

All good things must come to an end. Fredericia Teater’s production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is no exception. We have one last interview about the show and were very lucky to meet up with two actors who have been a part of the it since the very first premiere a little over three years ago: MARTIN SKRIVER (Ensemble/understudy Phoebus) and SØREN BECH-MADSEN (Dupin/Ensemble/alt. Frollo). Read on to find out how their journey has been like, how it feels to be a part of the ensemble  and why you shouldn’t miss this show: 

Søren Bech-Madsen

The both of you have been a part of this show since the very beginning. How has this journey been for you? 

Søren: It has been quite the journey. This is one of those shows that you remember for the rest of your life. And hopefully the people who’ve watched it will remember it as well. Now we are doing it for the third time and we have a lot of new members in the cast and this is wonderful. It gives a new energy and we have made slight changes that have heightened the show and made it even better. So it’s been a tremendous journey and it’s been a privilege to be a part of it. 

Martin: I totally agree. I think Mads [M. Nielsen] who plays Frollo said that this is a once in a lifetime show. It’s not perfect, ‘cause nothing ever is, but everything is as close as it gets. It has given us many great memories to hold on to. We’ve played it at the Old stage at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in front of a full house every night. It’s a fantastic show to play and I honestly enjoy it every night! 

Søren: You can also feel that people are touched by this show and that inspires us to wanna do this show even more. When we played it for the first time, the theatre honestly didn’t expect it to become a big hit. It’s very much a dramatic piece and not for the smallest of children. But it became a tremendous hit.

What is your favourite part you get to play in the ensemble? 

Søren: I am fortunate that I am also alternating Frollo. That’s one of the most amazing things I have ever been allowed to do. He’s an incredible character and I do that character with all the respect in the world and I try to make him as complete and as much of a human being as an evil guy like him can be. But I also just love being in the ensemble as well. We have so much fun. 

Martin: We two have a lot of funny moments.

Søren: We do and, actually, one of the moments I enjoy the most is in “Topsy Turvy” where they find the ugliest man in Paris - their new Fool of the Year. Martin and I have built in this friendship between our characters, so he is Jacques and I’m Pierre. It’s only the people sitting on the audience podiums on stage that get to see us competing and fighting, because we are doing that behind that curtain where we stick our heads through and look ugly. These tiny details are so much fun. We as an ensemble don’t wanna distract from the story, that’s very important, but we want to create life around it.  

Martin: Our director Thomas [Agerholm] told us that every time the audience needs to see something, we help by giving that our attention. I feel like we are small cameras pointing at where the audience should look. And if you see the show again, you can see all these small stories playing out. Everybody on stage is playing a story all the time and that’s so rare in musical theatre. It’s so much fun, because you never get bored. 

Søren: We have to be in character, since we have the audience on stage. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun, quite the opposite! We have even more fun, because we have to be joyous or whatever it is the scene requires. It’s a special feeling.  

Martin: It really is. 

As you have said, you, Søren, are also alternating Frollo and you, Martin, are understudying Phoebus. How was the first time you were on? 

Søren: My first time as Frollo was in the original run nearly three years ago. I was understudying and not alternating at that point. We did the show 69 times and I got on as Frollo on show number 67. You obviously look at the script and rehearse, but you get to a point where you are like: Nothing is gonna happen. Mads is not gonna call in sick.

And then it was a Sunday. It’s a double day and we were off the day after and then we had the last two shows. So I was already packing for Copenhagen and then suddenly the phone rang: Hey, he is not doing so well. And I thought: What?! You gotta be kidding me! 

It was a lot of back and forth, because Mads wanted to do the show. It’s completely understandable, anyone would wanna do that and he was so close to having played them all. So he did the first show and that was fine. But he was really sick. So an hour and twenty minutes before show number two started, it became clear that I had to go on. And I was like: Okay, right, here we go. And I actually remember very little from that night, ‘cause I had to get in, be very focused, be in character, be there for the others, run up and ask: Where am I going in next? What’s happening now? And then had to go in again. It was just a crazy night. But I had this wonderful cast who supported me all the way around and it was a tremendous feeling when it was done. 

Frollo is gonna be one of the best characters I will ever play in my life, so I’m enjoying every time I go on. It’s a daunting task. He is not a good man, but I have to find some parts of him that are human and relatable and that will make you at times feel for him. I’m very privileged that I’m able to play him. But that first time was crazy. [laughs] 

Martin: I’ve never played Phoebus. And that’s fine, because I don’t have the urge to do it. I’m not alternating, so my task is to save the show if something terrible happens - like Emil [Birk Hartmann] getting sick. So I hope Emil has a good health and can play every show.

Søren: But you did get to do it in understudy runs and you were very good. So the audience really does deserve to see you as Phoebus.

Martin: It is fun to play him, but I also really like my own track. I play Quasimodo’s statue father now and I see a lot of the scenes playing out and I notice differences every day. I get to watch my colleagues being so alive in their characters and I can really see their eyes. That’s awesome. I get to learn a lot every day. And I think it’s a wonderful ensemble show.

Søren: The audience on stage gets a similar experience. So if people would want to see this show more than once - and hopefully they do - I would say the first time see it from in front of the stage and then see it from the stage. Because that is a very unique thing to experience.

Do you have a favourite moment in the show?

Martin: My favourite moment is when I come on stage with the mother statue and we sing the last two lines before the ensemble joins in and we finish the show. All these horrible things but also joyful things have happened and the world is cruel but that’s also okay. It’s just a very beautiful way to end this show and being a part of that ending. 

Søren: For me it’s very hard. I would just do a cop-out and say the entire show. Because I think it’s brilliant from start to end. But there is one thing that I’ve thought about. Before we go on stage, we have two gatherings and we end both gatherings by saying “Olim”, which is also the very first thing you get to hear in the show. And Olim means “one day” or “in time”. And during “Out There” Quasimodo actually sings Olim, because in Danish he sings “One day” at that moment where he sings “Out There” in the English version. That is just really beautiful. This Olim goes throughout the whole show and it’s everything that word represents: It’s hope for a future with more love and compassion and where we don’t see people as a man or a monster but as a human being. And Olim is also Quasimodo’s hope that he will be out there and have his place - one day.

Since this show ends very soon, give one reason why people should not miss it!

Søren: Because it will be quite a while until this show will be back. And this is probably the best show they will ever see. It has an amazing story, beautiful music and it will touch you to your soul. So see it now, because it is here and now and it’s all about being here and now and about being compassionate. So rush in and get tickets. 

Martin: If you ever had a hard time in your life and you like music - even if you ever only liked one musical - then go in and see it. Because as Søren says IF it comes back to Denmark, it will be in ten years, maybe more, so it’s your last chance. We will miss it for sure.


We wholeheartedly agree and will miss it as well. But here is still a little time left to see Fredericia’s The Hunchback before the curtain falls for the last time on December 15th. Make sure not to miss this musical!

And thank you both very much, Martin and Søren, for giving this interview, hope you enjoy the last couple of shows and the best of luck for all your future productions! 

© Lisa A. Murauer

1.12.2019, Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

Oliver Aagaard-Williams (L) and Emil Birk Hartmann (R)

Interview with EMIL BIRK HARTMANN and OLIVER AAGAARD-WILLIAMS from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Frollo already had their turn, and now it's time for our dashing Captain Phoebus and energetic Clopin to be in the limelight. Read what EMIL BIRK HARTMANN (Phoebus) and OLIVER AAGAARD-WILLIAMS (Clopin) say about their experiences joining Fredericia Teater's successful production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME , what they enjoy most about their characters and more: 

How was it for you to join the cast, since you guys were new to this show? 

Emil: It was a little nerve-racking at first, because this was such a big and well received show. But not only that, it was also a big reunion for those who’ve done it before and it felt that they were already this close family. There was just something extremely special about what they went through together. But then this production became its own thing and we made new memories together. 

Oliver: I agree. I think it also helps that Emil and I are quite different than the two actors that we replaced. We both gave our characters our own touch and I feel this gives something new to the show. It was also a bit comforting, because those who knew the show were very good at helping us and including us. 

Emil: And it’s cool that so many just knew the vibe of the show right from the start. So you can just put yourself into what is already there and just react to that.

Oliver: They already give you so much and you can just use that foundation to create the story. This was really helpful.

Emil: Lars [Mølsted] could have played Quasimodo from day one, ‘cause everything is so ingrained in his body. And there is something about playing across from him when you are still on script that is a little nerve-racking but also comforting. You feel like: If I do anything wrong, you got me, because you know this by heart. 

Are your characters still evolving, maybe not every day but over the course of the show?

Oliver: I actually feel that they evolve every day. You always get something new every night. Sometimes you go off stage and think: Why don’t I try this instead? And then you do that the following day and it takes you somewhere else. 

Emil: It’s so much fun to keep exploring what your character can do. I think the show as a whole changes slightly all the time, but I also have this very specific point that has become different: It’s when I run in and Esmeralda is dead. It wasn’t planned, but the lines I say there have changed. All of a sudden, I began to say things like: “I am sorry” or “I can’t” or “You can’t be dead.” The last 30 minutes are just a big breakdown for my character and I’ve been building up so much sorrow that I am actually weeping. That period of time of falling in love and then seeing that person dead in front of you is so short here. In real life, if you were discovering someone you love dead, you would go through more stages. I get to do that here, but it’s different and prolonged over the two months we’ve played so far. So every time I do that scene, I kind of get quicker to the point where I was the day before. That gives me a bit of time to go deeper into that specific moment. And that has evolved into becoming new lines or doing it a bit differently.

Oliver: We just get more time to discover these moments and also more nuances of the story, our character and the relationships to the other characters. I think it’s also something we naturally do as actors to keep it interesting. If I’m ever asking myself why I’m standing there, that gives me a second to think about that and discover the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing.

What is your favourite thing about playing your characters? 

Oliver: I always love to play these energy bombs. I’m a high energy person, so I need an outlet for that. That is why I especially enjoy doing the Topsy Turvy scene. It just has to be big, since Quasimodo sees the outside world for the first time. I need to catch the audience’s attention over and over again. But another thing is that Clopin starts out as this friendly guy who has this party for everybody and I am used to being that guy throughout a show. But I get to do a twist on it here. I get to show a darker side of the character which is really exciting. 

Emil: Phoebus might be the one who develops the most throughout the show. He goes from being an arrogant asshole to someone who has learnt that there are people who have it even worse than him - and Phoebus has been through a war, so he’s been through a lot - and he experiences what you have to go through for love. He has an incredible journey and sometimes that’s the most interesting thing to play. But sometimes the most fun thing to do is his very first song “Rest and Recreation”. All the ladies just want Phoebus and that is a hilarious show number to do, because I feel like I’m not doing anything. The girls are acting so over the top and I just have to react to them. And then sometimes when I’m a little bit depressed, it’s really nice to just go in and let that hardship bleed out through the character and be like: I’ve had a rough day, Phoebus has also had a rough day, so that fits. So it really depends on the mood what I enjoy the most.

This show has become a huge success again. Is there something that you find especially touching?

Emil: There are so many universal values and struggles in the show and I think part of its success comes from the fact that you can find a lot in it that you can relate to - regardless of where you are in life. We can all relate to feeling different and being left out. And the show is also so easy to understand. My girlfriend is from Sweden and when her family was here - and they don’t understand Danish that well - they still understood it. Because the show is just so very honest. If someone is sad, we get to see why they’re sad. So there are a lot of things that touch me. 

Oliver: What touches me the most is that honesty and courage to go for the unhappy ending. This show sort of has no winners and that’s not what you typically expect. We like to create all our stories with a happy ending. But here we get to see how hard the world is. It’s cruel but also real that Quasimodo doesn’t end up with Esmeralda. This show is just so honest to you and I feel like we are honest in telling the story. 

Emil: During “In a Place of Miracles” Phoebus and Esmeralda have their big falling in love moment, and Quasimodo says: Now I understand why I’ll never be that guy standing there. It’s not because those two are evil. They were just falling in love. It’s just that the world doesn’t work with me as the lead. It’s never gonna make me completely happy. Because I’m ugly.

Oliver: And the show doesn’t turn around so he ends up with the girl in the end. That just really gets me. This honesty.

Unfortunately, there are only a few weeks left to see this show. So give one good reason why people should make sure not to miss it!

Emil: This is a show that you don’t get to see that often. I’ve never met anyone who was not very moved by it. This is a show that they are gonna talk about in ten years. It’s just unique. And it’s not gonna come back again real soon, so don’t miss it!

Oliver: This show really is something unique. And I’m just blown away by how much of an all in kind of show this is. There are no compromises and it never felt like there were made any shortcuts in production. So if for nothing else, see it because of this. You don’t often find a show where everything is just 100% all in.

Thank you again very much Emil and Oliver. We wish you all the best and enjoy the last two weeks at The Hunchback! 

© Lisa A. Murauer 

27.11.2019, Musikhuset Aarhus, Dänemark/Tourproduktion

THE BOOK OF MORMON - Tour production 

Long ago, a simple man called Joseph Smith discovered something in his backyard that would change the world forever. That’s how the Book of Mormon was born and several hundred years later young Elder Price makes it his mission to become the best Mormon there ever was. But not everything happens as planned. Instead of being sent to his favourite place in the whole world (Orlando), Price’s mission will instead take place in Uganda. And his mission partner Elder Cunningham, who has a bad habit of lying (pardon, using his imagination), doesn’t seem to be of much help either – at first. Together those two learn the true meaning of belief and that Disney movies might not always be an accurate representation of the world…

Kevin Clay takes up the role of Price. Ambitious and arrogant Price can easily become unlikeable, but with Clay this was not the case. He gives Price’s journey from the self-absorbed but hopeful Mormon to someone questioning his very beliefs credibility. 

Conner Peirson plays the eager but a bit bothersome Cunningham. His comedic timing is on point and the way he delivers Cunningham’s lines makes one just laugh out loud – even though the jokes often follow statements that are harsh and anything but funny.  

The slowly developing friendship between Price and Cunningham is pretty much the heart of the show, which is why the chemistry between those two is so important. Clay and Peirson make a perfect duo, they just play so easily off each other. Their voices go together just as well as can be heard - among other songs - in “You And Me (But Mostly Me)”. This also serves as one of the best examples of their chemistry. 

In that performance on November 23rd, the role of Nabulungi was played by Olivia Foster-Browne who made her professional debut in this tour production. Nabulungi’s sweet but also eager personality came through in her performance. With “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” Nabulungi even has her own Disney princess-esque song that is not only played for laughs but also very beautiful – plus Foster-Browne gets to shine here. 

Literally every song has the potential to get stuck in one’s ear. It’s no wonder, since composer Robert Lopez has written the music to many other famous productions (among them Frozen or Avenue Q) too. They also show that an abundance of swear words can make up a good song – though not for singing loudly in public - like the infamous “Hasa Diga Eebowai”.  Which is a shame, because the tunes are just so catchy. The songs also often make fun of other musical numbers with melodies reminding of something heard in Wicked or Les Misérables for example. Fittingly, because the whole show likes to challenge and satirize the musical genre itself. 

The choreography by Casey Nicholaw is as important to the humour as the spoken jokes - sometimes it’s even funnier. In addition, the dancing is just great in general. The cast is giving its all, mastering these upbeat and high energy dance numbers seemingly with ease and most often, since that is what a good Mormon does, while brightly smiling. Everybody performs with enthusiasm and joy and seems to have much fun with their parts and the musical in general. And that shows. At times, it’s very hard to decide where one should look. There is often so much happening on stage – not only because of the choreography but also because of the reactions of those not being at the centre of attention.

Though this is a tour production, the scenography by Scott Pask is  detailed and wonderful to look at. From painted sceneries to the quite graphic Ugandan village, it all makes the show come alive. The lighting by Brian MacDevitt is beautifully done too – blackouts get used in unusual ways as well. 

This is not a show for everyone and it’s especially not for small children. The jokes are offensive and there are things where you ask yourself: Am I allowed to laugh at that? There might also be some which aren't that funny to all in the audience. Then again, it is hard for a show with this many jokes that all of them manage to make every single person laugh. This crude humour shouldn’t come as a surprise. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are also the men behind the not so kid-friendly South Park tv-series. But just because the show crosses the line - twice, thrice or even more often - doesn’t mean that it’s only about provocation and out to shock people. At the end of the day, The Book of Mormon is also exploring what the true meaning of belief could be and it does that in the most hilarious way possible.  

You can say “Hello” to the Mormons in Aarhus until December 6th,  their mission then continues in Zürich from December 10th until January 5th. 

For this fun afternoon, The Book of Mormon deserves:

 5/6 Sterne ★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Paul Coltas 

24.11.2019, Scandic Falconer Salen, Dänemark

Interview with  REGINA SLOTH and KIM ACE-NIELSEN from TARZAN

Fredericia Teater's production of TARZAN comes to the Danish capital after having played in both Fredericia and Aarhus. Before making its official debut on November 29th, we got the chance to talk to Tarzan and Jane themselves: KIM ACE-NIELSEN and REGINA SLOTH who offered us insight into this exciting production:


About one year ago, Tarzan has already played in Fredericia. How was it for you coming back to the characters after that time?

Kim: It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. When we met in rehearsals in Aarhus, I even said to Diluckshan [Jeyaratnam], who plays Terk, that it was so weird that it felt like it had only been last week since we’ve done it.

Regina: Almost too easy for the two of you. (laughs)

Kim: Of course, Regina and I haven’t played together that much in Fredericia. So some of it was actually new, when we came back to rehearsals. That was nice. But it has been really easy. Back in Aarhus Søren [Møller] also said that he feels like the show improves a little bit every time we get to come back. It gives you a chance to rethink and question what you are doing.

Regina: It has more depth and more levels for each character now. And the relations, like between Kim and me, are developing a lot. That feels really good. But as Kim said, we were not playing together a lot in Fredericia, as I was alternating Jane. This round I was able to collect a bit more of my natural first feeling of a way to do a scene - kind of like an instinct to do something differently. So it all feels closer to me now than it felt before. 

Since this is such a high energy show, how hard is it to keep this energy up - especially if it’s a double show day?

Regina: Yeah, double show days are really tough. 

Kim: There is so much natural energy in all the scenes that it doesn’t really feel heavy in your head, though it can be hard on your voice. But for me it’s just that the legs die after sitting in that crouch position for so long. The first week in Aarhus, I thought that I’m never gonna walk again. Today as well since we’ve started rehearsals yesterday. But it’s gonna get better the closer we get to the premiere. 

Regina: When we’ve done it a few times, your body gets used to a lot of it. 

Do you have a favourite part in the show? 

Kim: “You’ll Be In My Heart (Reprise)” with Tarzan and his mom. It’s a really nice tender moment and I enjoy every bit of it. Also because after that the show wraps up so fast. So this scene always feels like a relief, because I think: Yes, we’ve made it again. 

The very last scene in the first act is also great, when Tarzan and Jane meet for the first time. We’ve found some funny moments in that moment. And I think that’s when the show actually starts. A lot happens before, but I feel the plot doesn’t really start until Tarzan and Jane meet. 

Regina: One of my favourite moments is in the middle of “Strangers Like Me”. When the light dims and Kim and I are totally alone. You really look at me and it’s just so cute and beautiful and I just feel drawn to you. Then we are going up the stairs and I’m meeting Tarzan’s mom. That moment is so important for Jane and her whole experience, watching this love between Tarzan and his mom. There is just so much intimacy, honesty, love and joy right there. And all of that only takes about 30 seconds.

What is the one thing you love the most about playing your characters? 

Kim: I remember reading that someone at the premiere thought Tarzan was a bit too serious. And I thought: Maybe you’re right. I then talked with my husband about that and he was like: Why do you listen to that, there were 50 other reviews that loved it. And I said: I don’t just want a pat on the back. Somebody criticised something and it was a thing I could work with, so I would be stupid not to listen to it. So I try to make Tarzan more playful and happier. Because he is happy and he is supposed to be about 18. 

Regina: Tarzan is a teenager. It’s not even playing young, it’s just being aware that a teenager’s mind is not always so settled.

Kim: And he is dumb. I mean how dumb was I, when I was a teenager? So yeah, that’s fun to do.

Regina: What I like about Jane is that she’s super smart, but she is also fooling around a lot. She can’t control her emotions, because she is not a grown up yet. She doesn’t know how to react and when she reacts it’s big. I also have fun playing around with her trying to be a grown up and actually being a woman, because that’s what she is. She is a woman.

You are also coming into the auditorium a bit. Do you notice the viewers or do you try to not see them too much?

Kim: The few times Tarzan is in the audience, everybody is super focused about what’s happening on stage, so the interaction is kind of minimal. But I always treat them as if they are there; like they are animals in the jungle. Tarzan is so focused on Jane. It’s the first time ever that he sees someone that looks even remotely like him; there are just so many thoughts going on inside of his head. So I see them, but I’d find it weird to interact with them. I also try to hide and be quick, because I’m not supposed to draw attention. But I can always feel all the children noticing me right away. I don’t know if it’s a sixth sense that we grow out of or if adults are ‘polite’ and just look at the stage, because that’s where stuff happens. But I just feel all the kids’ eyes on me as soon as I’m there and then they won’t stop looking. At that point I want to acknowledge that they are there. I don’t want to ignore them. 

Regina: I’m not out in the auditorium that much, but I have moments where I am very much front stage and I can’t ignore that there is something there. But it’s more of a picture than a single person that I see. I use the energy and the focus when people are looking at me to imagine energies like a night sky for example. Sometimes you even sort of have eye contact with people, but more in a dreamy way. It’s a little weird, because there should be a fourth wall, but there is no wall. It’s something completely different. So it’s a landscape and you need to use that.

Sadly, Copenhagen is the last stop for Tarzan. What is it that you’re going to miss the most? 

Kim: I’m just dreading the last night. I’m gonna be a mess. Nothing is ever gonna be like this. I just can’t name one other leading man that can top Tarzan. Maybe some have more songs, but then they don’t have to crawl around or fly in the air. Of course, it depends what you do with the character, but that’s also what makes it great. I know working so many years as a dancer has made me able to do stuff with the role that other people can’t. That’s special. It’s not the only part in the world that’s like that, but it’s the one part that suits me really well.

Regina: It really does. 

Kim: I believe most of us think that this show is a special thing. Of course it’s gonna be a great last night, but it’s gonna be a horrible night too. 

Regina: I feel the same way. I will remember this, because this was my first job. And that is a truly emotional thing for me. The tears and stars I got in my eyes, when I got the part - that was just beyond. This opportunity is what you dream of. 

Kim: It is a dream role. When they announced the show, I thought that it was never gonna happen for me, because I was on the older side by then. But it did happen. And that makes it extra special. Tarzan really is a once in a lifetime thing. 

Thank you again very much for doing this interview Kim and Regina - especially after those two tiring rehearsal days.  We wish you both good luck for the premiere on November 29th and much fun with the remaining time on TARZAN!  



© Lisa A. Murauer

18.11.2019, Kopenhagen, Dänemark

Interview with MADS M. NIELSEN (Part I.)

Fredericia's Hunchback has done it again: Because of the high demand it got renewed once more - playing now until December 8th. After talking with the heroes, it is now about time for the bad guy who makes their lives literally hell: Frollo played by MADS M. NIELSEN.

But Frollo is not all there is to Mads. He is also directing some exciting projects coming up. One of those is the return of the musical version of Ken Follett's A COLUMN OF FIRE. We will feature all of that soon in Part II. of this interview!

What was your reaction, when you heard The Hunchback will return to Denmark?

I knew that we were eventually going to do it again, since it has been so well received and I knew that fans would come back. So I’m not surprised that it happened, I am surprised that it happened now. You could argue that it is maybe a bit too soon, but in the given situation it was the best decision they could make. 

But doing a big show like this again that has been so popular is a little frightening. You ask yourself: Was it just luck the last time? And there are also these thoughts about making it better. It’s always a bit strange to return to something. But it has been nice to revisit this show and be confirmed that it is one of the best books written in musical theatre with one of the best scores - it’s nearly perfect. It’s a beautiful show and people enjoy it and I enjoy doing it every night. 

Did you want to return as Frollo right from the start?

After I did The Prince of Egypt I said to my daughter - who is a really important part of my career, because when I work I don’t see her, so it has to be important work - that I thought that I had my share of Fredericia for the time being and that it was okay to take a break with that. Then she asked: What if they’re doing Hunchback again? And I said: Well, then I have to return to Fredericia. 

So when it was announced that they were doing Hunchback again and they asked if I wanted to return, I just had to come back.

Did you have a lot of freedom with your interpretation of Frollo? 

Yeah, I had a lot of freedoms. I take a lot of freedoms. That’s how I am as an actor. 

So I just asked our director Thomas [Agerholm] if I could bring the sword in during the Place of Miracles scene for example. To make Frollo invulnerable when he comes in. And Thomas agreed. But the others didn’t know. So we did a run-through and when Oliver [Lundqvist] saw me with the sword I said: I am experimenting. And he was like: Oh no, this is gonna go so bad! 

But that really changed the energy of the scene.

Other than that, it was kind of just like Thomas making sure that Frollo wasn’t only the cartoon villain. He wanted a bit more moral ambiguity and wait with the evil for later. And I try to wait. I try to play a man with a lot of authority who is just having a good time until the evil arises. But when I feel that the show is not really flying, I just put the evil in. 

So my co-work with both Thomas and Lynne [Kurdziel Formato] has been one of the best processes I’ve had as an actor. 

Does working with the alternate actors change your own performance? 

It’s another conscience you have on, when working with the alternate cast. But we’ve had four Esmeraldas and I’ve done a lot of shows with Oliver [Lundqvist], because he has been alternating Quasimodo right from the start. It’s really interesting to see how much he has grown, since doing it the first time. So I am used to work with alternates. 

But you do have a little more responsibility when Oliver and Katrine [Jenne] are on. To make them feel safe, so they can do their thing without getting nervous. When you then go back to the original cast, everything is a little bit easier and THEN you have to worry, because you can lose your concentration. 

You told me that it was the perfect time to do The Hunchback back then when it played in Fredericia for the first time - because of all the political things going on three years ago. Do you think the show is as relevant today and that the people come because of the political reasons? 

I don’t think the people come to the theatre, because of the political relevance of the show. They think about the story and the music and they come to see the cartoon. And then they get something else that they didn’t expect. Who is the monster and who is the man? What is love? All these universal questions are a big part of the story. And I can always see that the moment after the whipping really hits people. When I take Quasimodo’s crown off and, instead of being gentle and loving, I am hard on him. We all know that feeling of being bullied and of not being supported by our parents. That’s why the show is so relevant.

But one of the most relevant things that happened is that Notre Dame has burned. We actually had the discussion about how people might react when we burn it now during Hellfire. If it had happened now, we would probably have changed it. 

So there have never been any real plans to change Hellfire?

We talked about it, but decided that people have moved on since then. There are bigger problems now than this really beautiful cathedral - which has not only done a lot of good but also a lot of bad as well! - that has burned. And it will be rebuilt again. So we have greater issues to struggle with.

As Frollo you interact a lot with the audience. Other actors sometimes need to stay in their own bubble and try to not notice the audience. Is that something you don’t need to stay in character? 

That is something I have always done. I just have this radar, so I notice people. Sometimes I actually have to consciously turn it off and be like: Stay in character. So it is one of my bad habits. But here I use it. Frollo is checking everybody out all the time and seeking everybody’s eyes. Hopefully, I get around to almost everybody every night, so they get a glimpse of just pure evil. 

Frollo is also kind of a mirror of the worst things a person can be. Jealousy, sexual harassment and racism, he mirrors all of that. What I try to do is kind of ask the audience: I know that you think you are not like this, but can you feel yourself in him? 

And everybody enjoys Frollo. But he is a really awful person. 

I actively interact with the people sitting on stage as well. Because sometimes the show is not staged for them and they don’t get to experience everything. So I really take care and use every opportunity to say: Hi, I know you’re there. 

It’s always great to connect to the viewers. I don’t believe in the fourth wall. We are all together in this room. But you can risk ruining the illusion by being too much out there with the audience. So I have to balance that. But it’s something I enjoy doing.  

You said that you especially like scaring the audience.

Yeah. Frollo should be scary - but also sweet sometimes. He thinks he is good. Up to a certain point. Then he knows he is just fucked. 

Do you have a favourite moment or song? 

Hellfire. There are a lot of favourite moments all over the show, but nothing beats Hellfire. And nothing ever will! That is the ultimate challenge and the coolest number to do. It’s just marvelous watching the people’s reactions to what is happening on stage and I am no longer in focus. I can do whatever I want, because everybody is just looking around. And for me it was a thing that I didn’t think I could do. So learning to do it in my own way, not perfectly, but in my own way, that’s something I am really proud of. I enjoy doing it every single time. 

Lars [Mølsted] said that he has the hope that this show can make the people just a little bit better. Is that also a reason why you are going on stage and do what you do? 

No. I think if theatre can save the world, then it can also make it a worse place. Then you can only do good theatre, otherwise you are ruining the world. And I don’t want that responsibility.

So I have no intention of changing anybody or saving the world. I have a hope that people will think and that they will then change themselves. But that’s not my responsibility as an actor. My responsibility is to give the best possible performance, do the best possible show and tell this beautiful story - showing the viewers what’s in the world and show them emotions. I do that, because I like doing that and because I think it’s important. My biggest hope is that people have a nice time at the theatre and think: That was a great evening; I will do this again sometimes. 

Then of course, if the people are happy, then the world is a better place. So you could call that a change. But the change should already start before they come into the theatre. They should be open for the experience, don’t talk during the show and turn their phones off. There aren’t really that many people that listen anymore. 

I think it’s important to tell stories and that we listen to stories. And it’s also important to tell a story without having a hidden agenda of why I am telling it. I am just telling it for you to listen to it. And then you can do what you want with it. 

Thanks again Mads for taking so much of your time for our extensive talk! Best of luck for the last weeks in The Hunchback - as well as for all your other projects! 


Stay tuned for Part II. which will focus on the work as a director and especially on one of Mads' coming projects: A COLUMN OF FIRE!

© Lisa A. Murauer 

08.11.2019, Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

L: Katrine Jenne R: Oliver Lundqvist

Interview with KATRINE JENNE and OLIVER LUNDQVIST

Fredericia Teater's Klokkeren fra Notre Dame (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) has now been playing for about one month - with great success! Performers KATRINE JENNE (Florika and Alternate Esmeralda) and OLIVER LUNDQVIST (Frederic and Alternate Quasimodo) were so kind to share  their thoughts about this production as well as their experiences acting as an alternate and as part of the ensemble:


First of all, congratulations that The Hunchback got renewed yet again!

Last weekend, you both had your debut as Esmeralda and Quasimodo. Of course, it’s a different experience for the both of you. You, Oliver, have alternated as Quasimodo in the last productions too, but for you, Katrine, it is your very first time as Esmeralda. How did you both feel before going on stage?

Katrine: It’s been a special process for me. I know the story, because I was in the show the last two times we did it – just not as Esmeralda. Esmeralda has always been very special to me. Ever since I first saw the movie when I was five – I fell in love with her in a way. I never really thought that I would get to portray her!

I had butterflies in my stomach that Sunday, but those went away, ‘cause we had the matinee, where I did my usual performance in the ensemble. Doing that felt normal and then everything went so fast that I didn’t really have time to think too much. So, I was pretty calm, until the moment right before Esmeralda’s entrance. I stood there behind the curtain all by myself, since everyone else was on stage. But there was one of the girls working at the theatre with me. And she said to me: Go kill it. Then my nervousness went away and I was like: Yeah, I’m gonna go and kill it! And it was just a crazy night.

Oliver: I told you, that moment is so nerve-racking! And I had that experience three years ago. This was the first show I ever did right out of school. This time, I felt calmer. I’ve had more practice alternating major parts in big musicals without much rehearsal – this summer I also shared Ramses in The Prince of Egypt with Lars [Mølsted]. Though I’ve done this show before, I was pretty anxious as to what kind of experience this was going to be. It’s new people and a whole other mood. Despite this nervousness, I found that I had gotten a long way since three years ago. Both as a person and as an actor.

It was also a really nice experience going in with Katrine. When I’m alternating, I am normally the new energy on stage that the others pay extra attention to. It was great to get to share that with Katrine and also get to share my own experiences with her. It helps you ground your own performance, when you have to direct your attention at someone else, instead of directing it inwards – which I tend to do in a stressful situation.  

Did you have a lot of freedom in creating your own interpretation of the characters?

Katrine: In some ways, we did. We’ve gotten the same instructions as to what our director [Thomas Agerholm] wants us to do, and it is important to share all the technical stuff, standing at a certain location or delivering specific lines in a certain way. But, of course, we are different people from Lars and Bjørg [Gamst], so we do the parts our way. I think, Esmeralda feels different to me and my body than she feels for Bjørg. So, in that lies our freedom.

Oliver: Yeah, we have that freedom. That said, there is also a set character. It wasn’t us in the rehearsal space that walked the path and explored everything with the director. So, a lot of the inspiration for our characters comes from Lars and Bjørg and their way of doing it.

Katrine: Of course, it does! And you talk to them about it. I had many chats with Bjørg about Esmeralda. What she was thinking about specific scenes and how she thought about the character, things I wanted to hear her opinion on.

Oliver: Most of my talks with Lars happened three years ago, as we were creating the part – but we still have them. They are mostly about technical stuff this time around. You don’t miss the emotions, but it’s the little things you do miss as an alternate. For example, why I’m doing a certain movement in a specific scene, which I’ve only done, because I’ve seen Lars doing it like that every time.

And, as a person who has shared the role with Lars in three productions and having watched Lars evolve the character and improve the way he performs it, while still having to maintain my idea of who Quasimodo is, has been very interesting. And like with Katrine, Quasimodo has been very special to me for a long time. This was the movie I watched as a kid and I love this character. This is the one part I wanted to play more than anything, so I’m really happy that I get this chance. This is probably the last time I’m gonna do this part in my life, which means the shows I’ve got left matter. So, every time I’m on, I do the part with everything that I’ve got.

When you’re acting in the ensemble, you play a lot of different parts during the show. Do you create a specific character for each one you’re playing?

Katrine: When we started three years ago, I invented names for all the different characters I play and relationships to the other people in the ensemble. That’s what makes it fun and gives you a basis to play around with. That has stayed in this version, but it has changed a little, since we are different people.

Oliver: You also do the Florika part now. You play Quasimodo’s mom that you didn’t before. Did that affect the way you view your statue character? 

Katrine: Yeah, it actually does and it also affects the way I look at Christoffer [Skov], who plays Quasimodo’s dad. Because when we are not mom and dad, we are kind of replacing them as two statues in Quasimodo’s life.

Oliver: My track – which is the term used for the different ensemble characters we do during the show – is a little different, because I appear mostly as the same character. When we first did this show, we weren’t as ventured in having alternates being a permanent part in a production. It was easier to have me be just one part, so that another person can go in and not mess anything up in the ensemble. But we’ve grown as a theatre and as performers in the technical aspects of doing musicals. We have three alternates now and all has been planned. While I still do most of the same things that I did three years ago, Katrine’s track has changed a little and the same with Søren’s [Bech Madsen], who alternates Frollo.

Katrine: We have mixed it up a bit. Mine is a combination of the girl who played Florika before me and then some of the track I originally did.

Oliver: It’s a different experience if you’re in the ensemble track or a small supporting part. I do have a character that I’ve been working on and that’s mostly for myself and my fellow actors. We don’t want audiences to think too much about our characters, we want them to see a person who is alive and reacts in a way that fits the story’s flow. I play lieutenant Frederic, who is one of Phoebus’s mates. Emil [Birk Hartmann] and I have found a nice camaraderie that makes it really fun doing their relationship, which feeds Phoebus’ character – and that is important.

In this show, people sit on the stage. How does this closeness of the audience affect your performance?

Katrine: We have to stay in character all the time. And for me that’s really precious, ‘cause that means that the focus of the show stays throughout – for everyone. Even when you’re off stage, since you have to be quiet. I think that helps this show be as special as it is. We are staying in this story-world from the moment the public comes in until the very end.

Oliver: You also don’t want to get caught by an audience member doing stuff that’s not part of the show. So, whatever lollygagging I wanna do with my fellow actors on stage, I need to do in character.

Katrine: It forces you to be creative.

Oliver: Yes, everything we talk about and do on stage, needs to fit the style of the show.

Does your relationship with the audience change depending if you are playing Esmeralda/Quasimodo instead of being a part of the ensemble?

Katrine: As Esmeralda during topsy-turvy, I take the viewers in. I look at them and sing to them. But I have more chances doing that as an ensemble person, since it is also part of the choreography to interact. So, some of us talk, smile, sing and even give high-fives to them. But there are also places, where we don’t look at them. They are still there, we acknowledge them and we can still open up our bodies to take them in, but we don’t include them.

Oliver: They are there, just not in the same way. But we do see them – all the time.

Katrine: One time, I saw a mom and her son sitting right next to the catwalk. She was sobbing and holding him. That really affected me. She didn’t see me noticing her, until the bows, where I looked at her. We were both still crying and I smiled at her, which made her look so happy. We shared that moment, even though we are strangers. And I loved that. I try to find that whenever I can, because for me that too is what the show is about – what it does to the people.

Oliver: It’s intensely cathartic. And that is one of the things that this show has going so well, the cathartic interactions with the audience through the music and the story.

When I’m Quasimodo, I don’t see the viewers at all – except one place. That’s completely new in this production. In the end, when Quasimodo has his awakening, he takes the audience in. And though it might seem like a little thing staging wise, it’s a huge thing to do, because it’s both powerful and strange. You are in a really emotional place, it’s overwhelming. And I’m still learning how to cope with it, because that’s the only thing that you can’t rehearse at all without an audience actually being there.

Speaking of emotions, since it is such a touching show, how difficult is it for you to let go afterwards – especially if it is a double-show day?

Katrine: It does take me some time. I do think, I’m better at it this time around, because I know what I am going into. Back then, we sometimes came down into the wardrobe still crying, ‘cause we had to get it out of the system. Now, it heals itself quicker.

Oliver: You just do another show, because that’s what you have to. And it’s also very exciting to get to tell the story one more time with different experiences in your body. But you can’t have that dictate the way you experience the next show. It does feel very different doing a double-show as Quasimodo than doing my regular track. Quasimodo is such an intense part, but I like that you can feel your work in your body.

Katrine: I like that too. This story means a lot to me, so I enjoy that it costs a lot to do it every night.

If you had to pick just one, what is your favourite part of the show?

Oliver: Personally, I have a lot of favourite moments in the show.

Katrine: I have that as well.

Oliver: There are so many amazing parts put together. Making Quasimodo in the beginning – or the whole finale. There is no break there, so physically it’s very draining and it also takes a toll on my emotions. But I always enjoy these last 25 minutes or so, because I don’t get to think, I don’t get to be Oliver, I just get to be Quasimodo.

Katrine: The last time I did Florika and you were on as Quasimodo for the first time, you made me fall apart completely. When you looked at me during that part in the finale, I died. I really tried to hold it together and I did during my singing, but then I cried.

Oliver: I have one favourite moment that’s specific with Katrine. In the beginning of the interview, we talked about us being different from Bjørg and Lars – and we have an entirely different dynamic between us. One scene, I really feel we two together made ours, is “Top of the World”. Because we’ve known each other so long and it’s just very peaceful. With Bjørg it’s also magical, but in a whole other way. So, that is one of my favourite moments with you.

Katrine: Mine too. It’s also the scene where Esmeralda gets to be truly happy. She can be herself and doesn’t have to be afraid of anything – or anyone. That feels really great, especially doing that with you, since we know each other so well. That’s just a freeing moment.

Lastly, give one reason why people must watch this production?

Oliver: Okay, one good reason: “Hellfire”.

Katrine: That’s a great reason!

Oliver: It’s an overwhelming experience. I remember the first time that we were shown–

Katrine: The whole stage, the scenography and– 

Oliver: How the stage shakes.

Katrine: What the LED did and what the sound was gonna do.

Oliver: We were just sitting there and screaming.

Katrine: Like we were at an amusement park.

Oliver: In addition, the reason why I think this story is as relevant now as it was when Victor Hugo wrote it is that right now – and also in the last couple of hundred years – we have a lot of white religious men being in charge and deciding what other people get to do with their lives. And Frollo is that. He is the church, the white man that controls the disabled, the immigrants and the people who think otherwise. And “Hellfire” is the foundation for why Frollo is doing everything. It is him dealing with so much, it’s criticising the church as well. The greatest antagonists are the ones we sympathise with and that we understand.

Katrine: And that is just the content – which is the most important thing. But even besides that, it’s just an experience in itself: Sitting in the auditorium and looking, hearing and feeling that. That song is incredible.

Oliver: And Mads [M. Nielsen] has only improved in the last three years – especially as a singer. He has come to a point where he’s just awesome. I really enjoy it, so props to him for that, it’s just amazing to keep evolving like that.

Katrine: True. Hellfire is a great reason, but I also think this is a show that everyone can relate to, in general. You can see this show in your own life. No matter who you are, you can relate to someone or something in this show. And that is just special. 


Thank you again very much for this insightful talk, Katrine and Oliver. We wish you all the best in the remaining weeks of The Hunchback - and beyond! 

© Lisa A. Murauer 

05.11.2019, Folketeatret Dänemark 

SKATTEØEN (Treasure Island)

Based on the book by the same name written by Robert Louis Stevenson, SKATTEØEN (Treasure Island) follows the journey of young Jim Hawkins. Jim finds himself searching after the famous pirate treasure,after stumbling upon the map that will lead him right to treasure island. But there are many dangerous obstacles to overcome and it often proves difficult to see the difference between the good and the bad.

Written by Preben Harris, this show has long been a part of the Danish musical repertoire, with its premiere dating back to 1986. This production opened in Copenhagen at Folketeatret on October 10th and it proves that it still manages to captivate young and old alike.

Danish musician Sebastian provided the music. It offers a contrast to the time the story is set in with its rousing rock-beats, and fits this pirate adventure. The tunes are entertaining and fast-paced. Director and choreographer Birgitte Mæs-Schmidt has a sense for both timing and flow, and she knows how to keep the audience on the edge of the seat. Most songs are, while certainly good and fun, not that memorable, and the sound-mixing makes it sometimes hard to hear the lyrics. There are exceptions and one of those is “Fuld af nattens stjerner” (Full of the stars of the night): Sung beautifully by Szherley, she gives a touching interpretation as Jim’s mom too.

The adventure start even before the curtain rises: Pirates invade the foyer and engage in a rousing battle, promising exactly what the viewers will await during the show: action. From start to finish, there are only a few moments to catch one’s breath. To not take too much of the surprise away, the beginning itself can only be described as bombastic, and the second act attracts the audience’s attention just the same – though in a very different way. There is a focus on violence, not unfitting for the story’s setting. It can be rather brutal at times, as well as loud, which maybe makes this show not suitable for the very smallest family members. 

The scenography by Terry Parsons is as dynamic as the story itself. It is impressive how little it takes for all these transformations to happen on-stage – be it from the tavern to the ship to the deserted island.

It’s not all about fighting, however, there is also a lot of heart. Jacob Spang Olsen gives an impressive performance as Jim Hawkins. His Jim proves to be every child’s hero. Not only because of his courage, but even more so because of his kindness, which he keeps despite the gruesome world that surrounds him. (The role of Jim Hawkins is shared by Jacob Spang Olsen and Alfred Kann).

Kasper Leisner plays antagonist John Silver with both charisma and authority. He is just how one imagines a pirate must be, and he fits the theme of the show – that the world is not black and white – as well.

The rest of the cast seems to have a lot of fun with their characters as well – be it the good or the bad guys. Noteworthy is Kristian Boland as doctor Livesey. His calm demeanour and dry form of humour works even better in this otherwise action-packed musical, providing jokes which makes all audience members laugh – regardless of their ages. 

SKATTEØEN is entertainment for the whole family, and the fights make the time fly past. It is now playing at Folketeatret until December 8th. From January 23rd onwards, the musical sets sail for the tour all around Denmark – with a stop in Leck (Germany) as well.

4/6 Sterne ★★★★


© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Gudmund Thai


30.10.2019 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

24TIMER MUSICALS

Four newly written musicals produced within 24 hours. This is the concept behind 24TIMER MUSICALS. It aims to not only give (new) artists a chance to prove themselves, and create a environment to produce art, but to support Børnecancerfonden – a great cause supporting children with cancer. After all involved came together the previous evening, each team – consisting of one director, one scriptwriter, one songwriter, one conductor, one assistant and four performers – got to present their work on October 21st at Fredericia Teater.

Each musical had a length of about twenty minutes, the same band (minus the conductor) and incorporated the scenography already there, which was the one from Fredercia’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. However, here is where the similarities end. 

The first “I medgang og modgang” (“For better or for worse”) starts at a wedding. As Christina (Christina Marie Skodborg) is about to get married to Christian (Christian Collenburg), she begins to dwell in the past: Not only does she remembers their relationship but also that of her parents (played by Ulla Ankerstjerne and Kim Brandt) as well. Suddenly, she isn’t so sure, if that marriage is what she wants. Everybody’s performance managed to make you feel for these characters – in such a short time. This piece was also just beautifully staged: The time-jumps, the scene changes, everything was so seamless that it is hard to believe, this show was created in under 24 hours.

While the first musical was realistic, the second one went into the complete opposite direction – in every aspect. “Fire fugle i et bur” (“Four birds in a cage”) is about three birds (with a forth joining them later on). As soon as the birds came on stage, the audience erupted with laughter. It wasn’t just hard to keep it together watching the actors behave like birds –  including sounds and movement, which they kept doing for the whole thing – it was impossible. So, kudos to Anna Jørgensen Kaack, Jesper Asholt, Maria Skúladóttir and Teit Samsø for this unique avian-performance. Though primarily comedic, this piece also deals with serious questions: Is freedom worth its price? Or is it better to stay in captivity where it is safe?

The second part started with another comedy: “Superhelt søges” (“Superhero wanted”) tells the story of a boy called Daniel, who asks for a superhero online. His call is answered, as energetic UmbrellaGirl appears. Fearing UmbrellaGirl will leave again, if she discovers that Daniel called her just because he was bored, Daniel gives her the name of the only villain he knows: his overbearing mom. This is a happy-go-lucky piece and though they all must have been exhausted (like everyone else involved in this insane concept), it can truly be felt that the actors had much fun with their roles. Sara Gadborg was just on point as the mom, while Daniel Livbjerg Bevensee, Niklas Frandsen and Anna Mette Roest – whose entrance as UmbrellaGirl was hilarious – made it easy to believe they were portraying teenage kids.

The last musical presented was “Håb” (“Hope”) and it deals with exactly that. An angel (Rikke Lillevang) is sent to Odense Universitetshospital to look after a young boy. After all this time, the angel has become tired of her lonely missions, since no one ever notices her. This changes, however, when said boy – played very convincingly by Jonathan H. Jespersen – does see her. With his help, not only the angel dares to act on her own dreams, but the lives of a seemingly self-centred but lonely doctor (Joachim Knop) and a hardworking nurse (Winni Ellegaard Nielsen) change for the better.

It’s amazing what a group of dedicated people can achieve in such a short time, creating musicals that are engaging both story-wise and musically. And best of all, it also supports a great cause. So, thanks for this unique evening and all your hard work, it really paid off!

 © Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer 

 03.10.2019 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

KLOKKEREN FRA NOTRE DAME - The Repremiere 

The hunchback has returned: Fredericia Teater brought its most successful production back to life, which celebrated its reopening on October 4th. Nothing said can really capture the experience that is KLOKKEREN FRA NOTRE DAME. It is a magical show, unable to explain. One simply has to witness it for oneself.

The basic plot revolves around just a few roles. The story itself, however, is presented and lived through the whole ensemble. And it is a fantastic ensemble! Everybody plays their part(s) with such passion that you can feel their passion for this story. The stage seats give an even bigger opportunity to hear just how good each member is – since they are often so close to you that you can hear how beautifully each person sings their individual notes.  

Speaking of the stage seats, they offer a unique experience in themselves – not only because you can get close to the action. You become a part of the show itself. You can look in the auditorium and see how spellbound the audience is. There is a whole different energy on stage, the whole cast is in character all the time – whispering to each other or performing other actions – and you can feel their presence. There are a lot of moments specifically designed for those sitting on stage which can’t be noticed from anywhere else – and they are often very touching. These cancel out the disadvantage of not being able to see some scenes in its entirety. Although, it has to be said that there is one specific moment that feels much more epic sitting in the auditorium – we’ll get back to that later. Therefore, it is definitely worth coming back for a second time, to enjoy both options.

Director Thomas Agerholm returns once more and much of the original cast members reprise their roles as well: Lars Mølsted again puts on the hunch as the titular hero. His performance makes one instantly feel for him, especially in Kold som sten (Made of Stone). It is heartbreaking to watch a broken and disillusioned Quasimodo. As he collapses at the end, one feels that hopelessness as one’s own. That song is just as intense vocally. Lars Mølsted nails even the highest of notes and his rendition is as forceful as it is delicate. 

The lighting by Martin Jensen is on point throughout the whole piece. It heightens the emotions and simply enchants the viewers. The scenes inside the cathedral seem to come straight out of a fairytale and are nothing short but astonishing.

All eyes are on Bjørg Gamst, as she makes her spectacular entrance as Esmeralda, acting as the story’s turning point. Her dance is powerful yet full of grace – representing Esmeralda herself perfectly. She shows that kindness is a strength and not a weakness at all, taking Quasimodo’s side when no one else dares to act up on his behalf. One gets, why everybody becomes enthralled by her: Her liveliness radiates in all her movements, in her voice and in all her actions – which she never loses, even in the darkest hours. This is evident in En ny verden (Someday), one duet between Esmeralda and Phoebus. Bjørg Gamsts portrayal is full of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and thus painfully bittersweet.

Mads M. Nielsen as Frollo is everything – and then some more. His Frollo is not only acting as the bad guy, but also as a source of humour. It takes talent to pour the right amount of comedy into the performance. Mads M. Nielsen achieves just that. He makes the audiences laugh, without taking away Frollo’s credibility as a truly terrifying villain. He possesses a tremendous stage presence and it takes just one glance to feel that power – and terror, for there lies that spark of Frollo’s madness. His Frollo lies in duality. He is merciless but not without doubts, cruel but not heartless. He is painfully human, flawed, but not a monster – and nothing is scarier than realising that.

You don’t need to sit on the stage to feel like you’re a part of the story-world. Hardly have scene changes been this impressive. Thanks to the scenography by Benjamin la Cour, one feels the movements while riding down the bell tower, after Lars Mølsted’s touching interpretation of Himlens skær (Heaven’s Light), which leads to:

Helvedes ild (Hellfire). It is impossible to not talk about this song, though words fail to capture this.  The staging, the lighting, the choreography – and of course the performance of Mads M. Nielsen and the ensemble – everything culminates and creates a spectacle without equal. As the performance reaches its burning finale, Notre Dame itself is engulfed in infernal flames, taking the audience right into hell itself. These images are even more devastating now, since they have become reality just a few months back. There is a rapturing applause, almost as thundering as moments preceding it. There is a saying that there exists no such thing as perfection, but this puts that statement into question.

Following that showstopper is a short scene, which is just as memorable – though for the exact opposite reasons. Frollo approaches King Louis to get Esmeralda arrested, but the audience doesn’t exactly go as he has envisioned. It plays out like something straight out of a comedy piece. And the contrast works so well. Christian Collenburg shines as King Louis, his condescending treatment of Frollo – the interactions between those two are also just comedy gold – his posture and demeanour have the audience laughing out loud. 

Emil Birk Hartmann nails Phoebus. Phoebus de Martin’s motives seem to be clear: he just wants to enjoy his life, far away from the war that still haunts him. He keeps up a mask to conceal his pain, a mask that crumbles, as the story progresses. It is when he gives into his emotions and vulnerability that one feels his despair as their own. For the city turns out to be just another battlefield and Phoebus finds himself torn between his orders and his growing feelings for Esmeralda. Soon he must ask himself if it is better to be a good soldier or a good man.

The gypsies’ king Clopin is played by Oliver Aagaard-Williams and he immensely enjoys his part: He is playful and mischievous, yet also fierce in protecting his people. Right from his first song, Vendt hovedet (Topsy Turvy), his Clopin overflows with vitality, carrying the audience away. That choreography is also just one of the examples of the stunning work done by Lynne Kurdziel Formato. There are the monumental movements of the choir, Esmeralda’s arrival, and the little dance between Frollo and his vision of Esmeralda in Helvedes ild – making that performance even more dynamic.

This production achieves the highest aim: Though fleeting by itself, it is nevertheless unforgettable. This is theatre at its best! So, if you haven’t had the chance to experience the show the last time, now is the chance! KLOKKEREN FRA NOTRE DAME is now playing at Fredericia Teater in Denmark until December 15th – after its running time has been renewed a couple of times due to the high demand. Don’t miss it, no matter if you even understand Danish at all. There just is nothing else like this, not in the whole world.

Fredericia’s KLOKKEREN FRA NOTRE DAME receives 6/6 stars. Though it feels a little wrong – for of the most positive reasons! – since it deserves much more than that.  

Bewertung 6/6 Sterne ★★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Søren Malmose

 

 03.10.2019 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

Interview with BJØRG GAMST and LARS MØLSTED

 Before the re-premiere of Fredericia Teater’s successful production of Disney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, BJØRG GAMST (Esmeralda) and LARS MØLSTED (Quasimodo) granted us the chance for an insightful interview about their work and their feelings about this very special show: 

Since it is rather special occasion that Fredericia Teater brings back a past production – especially after a short time – what was your reaction, when you learnt that The Hunchback of Notre Dame will return to Fredericia?

Lars: I got the news a week before the rest of the staff. Fredericia Teater really hoped that I wanted to do it again. I was overwhelmed and incredibly happy to be able to do The Hunchback once more. Though I’ve also forgotten, how hard and exhausting it is. But it was the best news ever, because I didn’t think that I would ever get the chance to do this show again. I have kinda said goodbye to the part. You also have to approach this show with a sense of respect. It’s kind of like putting on your work clothes again and saying: Okay, let’s do this, I’m ready. Otherwise, this show will kill you – in many different aspects.

Bjørg: I’ve moved a little to producing. So, I was actually part of the process of deciding that we were going to do it. On a producing level, it was the obvious choice to bring The Hunchback back. On a personal level, however, it didn’t feel so good – I was originally supposed to be doing Tarzan. So, I thought that I wasn’t going to be a part of The Hunchback and that made me feel a bit sad. I knew that was the right decision, though, so that was what I pushed for. But, after some time, we decided that I was gonna do Esmeralda instead. And, when The Hunchback has finished, I was to return to Tarzan.

I’m very happy to be doing this show again. I jumped into the production for the run in Copenhagen back then – and I only had a week’s rehearsal. It’s really great that this time we actually have a real rehearsal period. It’s different as well, since I’m not starting from scratch. Even though I’ve done the part many times, I feel like I keep discovering something new. I’ve also had time to try out different things, which I couldn’t do last time. 

Lars: It’s the same for me, because we have a whole rehearsal period. It’s a bit shorter, since most of the cast knows the show, but we’ve had six weeks. In a remount it’s usually about three. It has been a lot of hard work this time, but almost no homework like learning lines. This makes all the difference! You have a limited amount of energy that you can only spend on so much. All that energy that we didn’t have to use for homework, we could direct into funny new things to try out on stage instead. To rediscover a show and to discover a whole new level underneath all the basics – that we thought we knew – has been fun and tough and hard and emotionally draining.

Would you say that you learnt something from the last time that you wanted to change now in this production?

Bjørg: Not exactly change something. But acting is a continuous process, and in life you get better too. You are never done and you’re stuck if you think you are.

Lars: And then you don’t belong here. (laughs)

Bjørg: You shouldn’t think that you weren’t good enough, when you did it the last time. As soon as you start thinking that way, you lose your self-esteem. You were good enough, though that doesn’t mean that you can’t find new things. However, I didn’t have the feeling that I wanted to change scenes. It’s more about going in and questioning why some things are like that. Why I move a certain way or if I were to do something different. It was about all these new possibilities that emerge from that.

Lars: We’ve had the air and the space to spark our creativity once again, to discover something new. It’s not like the old things we did were bad - I never think like that – but this time it’s been a whole new creative process. Because we’ve been building on a castle that’s already there.

Bjørg: Usually, you start from scratch. You have to find out who the person is that you’re playing. But now you start pretty high and then add a little bit of topping. I think most in the audience won’t notice, but for us it feels a little different – maybe it will also for some of the audiences. I also notice all the things that we discover when we are doing remounts now. And I’ve only just come to the realisation that, yes, I am better than I was the last time. That’s natural, because I keep learning all the time. 

Lars: We get older and we have learnt more things. It’s impossible to not bring that to the character. The older and more experienced we get, the more experienced the character can get as well.

This production has been very successful with audiences and critics alike. A lot of that success has to do with the characters, because they feel so real and manage to touch people. Is there something in particular that manages to touch you?

Lars: It would be easier to explain what doesn’t touch me! The music disarms you right from the beginning, so you’re able to receive the story – which is about humanity and about how cruel but also beautiful we all are. It’s one of the most human stories. It doesn’t matter, where you are in your life or who you are, something – if not everything – resonates. And it also resonates with us on stage. So, the very last moments always get me.

Bjørg: It’s a story that has been written a long time ago, but it never gets old or out of fashion, because it is so humane. It’s about not feeling normal and feeling out of place. I think everyone can relate to that.

Lars: We’re all monsters and we’re all men. It’s what we choose to be. On the lowest levels, it’s about bullying. You can start there and build your way up to the whole human condition.

Bjørg: It’s also about migration and things that will always be relevant. It is extraordinary to be a part of telling this story. I don’t know what exactly it is, but there is something about that moment at the end: When the bells are ringing, and the whole ensemble comes back on stage together and sings these very high endnotes. It’s so emotional and you can feel the audience’s presence and we’re just standing there and looking at them – for me it’s also the first time really looking at them. The audience has been through a lot of things, and then we’re just standing there and it’s all over. There is this certain energy in the room. I know from the ensemble as well that there is just something special about telling this story, no matter where you are in the production.  

Lars: It is quite extraordinary, because what the ensemble tells us is that most shows aren’t like this. The characters do touch the people, but it is as much the ensemble. If they don’t invest emotionally, you are left with 4-5 principle roles that have to take that load. And they can’t. Not in this show, because it’s an ensemble story. 

Bjørg: The first fifteen minutes are just mostly the ensemble. It is up to them to set the energy of the show.

Lars: If the ensemble can invest into it emotionally, then it becomes even more than a show. It becomes a story. The particular storytelling takes make this production so powerful. We have chosen to stage that we are 100% storytellers at first, and then we are 100% in character. In the end, we rip the characters off, I literally take off my costume on stage and just talk to the audience – which is brutal. It’s impactful, but you also have to give 100%. Otherwise, the whole show would fall apart. 

Bjørg: At one point, Søren [Møller Fredericia Teater’s head of theatre] said that it will probably only happen once in a lifetime that you hit a show which has a great script, the most amazing music maybe ever written, a fantastic set design and great actors. Not one part lets you down and all amounts to something extraordinary.

Lars: The parts together equal more than the total. They become more than each individual part. That’s what’s happening here. And we invest into it the best that we can. Because this is what the show and the story deserve. That’s kind of funny, because I’ve never thought it like that. And everybody in the cast and house can feel it. That’s why it hits the audience.   

Speaking of the audience: It is a big part of every production, but it’s special here that audience members can sit on the stage. Does their presence affect your acting?   

Bjørg: I’m the kind of actress that usually doesn’t see the viewers. I don’t look or notice them unless I can’t avoid it. Usually, I have this kind of bubble around me, so it all becomes a blur to me. I have to stay in my own universe. This show affects it, of course, because you can’t avoid seeing those people. And we also have the catwalk. I’m lying up there and I can feel people very close to me. It’s very in your face. But I also use their presence during the show. In the very first scene, when I enter the market place and I have my dance, I pretend they are people in the marketplace. But in my other scenes, I try to stay in my bubble.    

Lars: I never watch the audience, unless I can’t help it. If the audience is sitting in the auditorium, it is easy to build up a 4 th wall. But what we have here is like having a lot of cameras on each side, so you can never rest. If you have your back to the viewers, you can cheat a little, but here they are always looking at you. It forces you to be completely in character – at all times. Which is hard, but also makes it more fun. I have to find new ways to play with my toys or say hi to the statues and gargoyles. However, I do remember that the very first rehearsal here was really intimidating. I’ve never tried having an audience right there. You can’t hide – ever. That was my first thought. And then it transformed into: Well, I can’t hide, so I’ll make the best out of it! And it became really fun and I love it now.   

Bjørg: But even though I try to block them out, you do see audience members that you know and you can’t avoid noticing.   

Lars: Sometimes you can’t not notice, especially if it’s the same person night after night. We’ve had some of those super fans who wanted to watch the show every night, and after five to seven shows, you kind of notice that it is the same person. Which is kind of funny, though I have to spend a little more energy to block it out. Because I still have to pretend that they’re not here. But it’s really fun and most of the people on stage have already seen the show from the auditorium, so they want to have a different experience. And the things we do with the seats on stage always come as a surprise.   

Now it is just one week to go until the premiere. What is it that you are most looking forward to?  

Bjørg: I was looking forward to the rehearsals – which are almost done now. So, I am very much looking forward to present the production now. When you are this close to the opening night, there always comes a point at which you want to meet the audience.   

Lars: The thing I look most forward to, is getting the flow of doing this show and of getting the sense of the production under my skin. And then getting the viewers and showing it to them. Because I know, in my head, what it does to them. But my heart doesn’t yet.   

Bjørg: I look very much forward to that moment of singing the very last notes of the epilogue, with just all the ensemble standing there holding hands. To the emotion you get from singing that part and to that energy of both ensemble and audience. We’ve been through the experience together. It’s not the same every night, but we’ve had this experience together. That is what theatre is, it’s in the moment.   

Lars: The hope, my hope, is that every night the audience members – and we as well – get out of the room a little bit better. That’s theatre. We get to put on this story about humanity every night. It is filled with sorrow and despair, but the beauty is just there! And we are all so close to each other. It always surprises me how physically close we are to the audience and how close they are to us. Being on stage, it feels like we are further away. The big changes in the world don’t happen with theatre, but the small changes can – and then they can become big changes. So, that is what I hope for, every night.     

Thank you both very much, Bjørg Gamst and Lars Mølsted, for this interesting interview! We wish you all the best and pøj pøj med premieren!  

KLOKKEREN FRA NOTRE DAME/THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME returns on the 4th of October. Don't miss this chance to experience this production. 

© Text und Foto: Lisa A. Murauer 

14.07.2019 - Theater am Hechtplatz, Zürich (Schweiz)

 

 

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

 

 

Im Theater am Hechtplatz werden die Toten wieder zum Leben erweckt: Ein Grund zum Weinen ist dies allemal – vor Lachen. Am 4. Mai feierte Mel Brooks YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN seine Schweizer Premiere. Schon beim Hineingehen in das kleine Theater, fühlt man sich in einen Kinosaal versetzt. Eine passende Stimmung, basiert das Musical doch auf dem gleichnamigen Film aus den 1970ern.

 

 

Die Story:
In Transsilvanien gibt es allen Grund zur Freude! Mit Victor von Frankenstein ist endlich der letzte Frankenstein gestorben. Nun heißt es Schluss mit den Monstern und der Angst. Doch einen Frankenstein gibt es noch: Frederick Frankenstein, der sich in Zürich bemüht, sich von seiner verrückten Verwandtschaft zu distanzieren. Und genau ihn verschlägt es nach Transsilvanien. Es dauert auch nicht lange, bis Frankenstein der Ehrgeiz packt und er seine ursprünglichen Reservationen gegenüber der Forschung seiner Ahnen hinter sich lässt. Unterstützt von seinem Assistenten Igor und der hübschen Inga steht er kurz davor, in die Fußstapfen seines Vorfahren zu treten und einen Toten zu erwecken. Ob das wirklich eine gute Idee ist?

 

 

Die Titelrolle wird von Flavio Dal Molin dargestellt. Die Entwicklung zu einem selbstbewussteren und gleichsam auch selbstloseren Menschen nimmt man ihm ab. An Frankensteins Seite sind Assistenten Inga und Igor. Gespielt von Isabella Flachsmann und Fabio Romano sind die drei ein eingespieltes und harmonisches Team. Insbesondere ist dies beim Timing der Witze zu erkennen, denn dieses sitzt.
Martina Lory
übernimmt die Rolle von Frankensteins Verlobter Elisabeth Benning. Es ist bewundernswert, wie lange sie einen Ton mit ihrer starken Stimme halten kann.
Anikó Donáth
spielt Frau Blücher, die streng wirkende Hausdame des alten Frankenstein mit Inbrunst.
Eric Hättenschwiler
als Monster beweist, dass man sogar ohne (verständliche) Worte Eindruck hinterlassen kann. Seine Mimik ist einfach zum Zerkugeln. Nur mit seinen Augen vermag er es, das Publikum minutenlang zum Lachen zu bringen.

 

 

Die Melodien von Mel Brooks bleiben im Allgemeinen hängen, der eine Ohrwurm ist aber nicht auszumachen. Der Humor ist typisch für Mel Brooks, orientiert sich an The Producers und noch mehr an Spaceballs. Der Fokus liegt deswegen auf Slapstick, teilweise ist er auch recht schwarz und geht deutlich unter die Gürtellinie. Die oftmals wunderbar überdrehte Choreographie von Jonathan Huor trägt immens zum Humor des Stückes bei. Gleichzeitig ist sie mitunter sehr fordernd. Der Höhepunkt ist hier sicherlich die mitreißende Tanzeinlage bei „Puttin‘ on the Ritz“, die dank den Stepp Coaches Daniel Borak und Ursina Meyer beeindruckend ist. Hier beweist das gesamte Ensemble sein Können.

 

 

Diese Schweizer Produktion hat sich das Musical wahrlich zu eigen gemacht. Hier ist die Übersetzung wirklich gelungen und auf das Schweizer Publikum zugeschnitten worden – komplett mit Schweizer Mundart. Auf Nichtschweizer wird hierbei allerdings Rücksicht genommen, das meiste wird nicht in der Mundart gesprochen. Ebenso wurden die Handlung, Orte und viele der Witze adaptiert, es gibt zahlreiche Referenzen auf die Schweiz sowie auf die Spielstätte selbst. Genau so gelingt eine Umsetzung.

Ebenso liebevoll ist das Stück auf die Bühne transportiert worden. Das Bühnenbild ist charmant-witzig gestaltet, es lassen sich viele nette Ideen ausmachen. Es ist eben dieser Sinn für Details sowie die Leistung aller Cast Mitglieder, die einen über so manch eine Schwächen des Musicals – die teilweise darauf beruhen, dass manche übernommenen Filmelemente unzeitgemäß wirken –hinwegsehen lassen.

 

 

Im Theater am Hechtplatz sind Freunde schräger Musicals abseits vom Mainstream auf jeden Fall gut aufgehoben. Zu Recht gab es für YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN und den engagierten Cast minutenlang Standing Ovations.

Vom 20. September bis am 13. Oktober ist die Inszenierung noch einmal am Hechtplatz zu sehen.

https://www.theaterhechtplatz.ch/produktionen/young-frankenstein/

Bewertung 6/6 Sterne ★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Theater am Hechtplatz

17.04.2019 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

URINETOWN/ TISSEBYEN - The Musical

When a musical opens with the conductor taking a (metaphorical) leak, before taking a bow and starting the overture, you get the feeling that this will not be your typical show. But then again, what else can one expect from a musical with a title like Urinetown? There is even an apology about the poor title choice (as well as an explanation that it had been easier to sell tickets for Grease).  

Conceived by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann the show depicts the not so distant future after a devastating drought. This water shortage led to drastic measures: Toilettes are neither private nor free. Everybody who skirts the law will be sent to the ominous Urinetown, a place no one has come back from. After his father gets dragged off to Urinetown, young Bobby Stærk decides to take matter in his own hand and fight for a tomorrow where everybody will have the privilege to pee.  

The whole premise is just so absurd, but this musical makes it work. The songs are also catchy and upbeat, a stark contrast to the dark lyrics. Some of the melodies have a certain Sondheim-feeling to it and are bound to get stuck in one’s head. They shouldn’t have the right to be as good and clap along-able as they are, considering they mostly revolve around peeing (or murder). Which is why it’s going to be difficult to sing them out loud in public.  

Diluckshan Jeyaratnam is the story’s hero Bobby Stærk. He makes Bobby likeable and instantly gets the viewers on his side. One of his highlights – as well as one of the show’s – “Run Freedom Run” is a true show stopper. In this energetic gospel number Diluckshan Jeyaratnam can showcase his immense vocal range. In addition, it’s a really motivating and inspiring song, even though it basically revolves around running away.  

Frederikke Maarup Viskum portrays Håb Tårnhøj, the naïve daughter of the pissoir-monopoly president.  While being an affectionate parody of other musical heroines, her Håb is more than that. Although the show plays with tropes and clichés, it still lets its characters become their own. Frederikke Maarup Viskum’s gentle, bright voice suits Håb’s carefree nature perfectly. However, as the story progresses, she demonstrates her powerful side too, which she does just as good.  

 Bjørg Gamst plays Lille Sally, one of the few truly kind-hearted characters, serving as a commentator and audience stand-in at times. Acting with a shrill little girl voice while still sounding good can’t be easy, but Bjørg Gamst makes it work. 

Lars Mølsted nails the role of Strunk. Suave and ever so slightly amused, he is prominent whenever appearing on stage without being brash. It’s no secret that Strunk gets some of the best lines, though their delivery can be tricky at times. Lars Mølsted doesn’t struggle, however, and delivers them with such nonchalance as well as confidence that even the subtler jokes manage to land. Vocally Strunk’s songs are also very demanding, but Lars Mølsted always hits the right notes, be it deep or high.  

 Kim Ace Nielsen’s facial expressions and dramatic gestures as police inspector Stram are priceless, especially together with Lars Mølsted’s more laid-back Strunk. The two of them make the perfect comedic duo. As choreographer Kim Ace Nielsen managed to grasp the musical’s atmosphere and convert it into the movements, making those sometimes the primary source for laughter. Seldom has the dancing itself been such a powerful factor in adding to the humour. One such highlight has to be “Cop Song”, where Strunk and Stram, among other police officers, break into a catchy dance number while recounting all the tales about people who have been sent off to Urinetown (the place this time, not the musical). It’s so over the top that it's impossible to keep oneself together. Countless references, from Gangnam Style to Dirty Dancing and Thriller, evoke additional laughter.  

Maria Skuladottir plays Mona Møntfod, the warden of the poorest loo in town. Her songs are pretty demanding with most notes ranging in the high key spectrum. Maria Skuladottir hits them all with immense power and passion that one forgets that the lyrics mostly centre around having to pay to pee.  

Kim Leprévost as Håb’s father Troels R Tårnhøj is just charming enough to not be completely unlikeable while still portraying a credible antagonist. It’s hard to hate the villain when he gets some of the best songs in the musical. “Don’t be the Bunny” especially stands out, also because of the adorable/disturbing bunny projections. Speaking of the scenography: done by Nevena Prodanovic, it’s absolutely excellent. It plays with the different layers and combining them with the status of the characters, having those in power at the top and the poor on the lower floor.  

There is nothing the production doesn’t play with and it’s evident that everybody involved had a great time. Everything together – be it light, staging, costumes, choreography and everything else – created a wholesome comedic experience that offers something to everybody. The passion for details and the little details are the icing of the cake. And why shouldn’t the cast list be printed on toilet paper and handed out to the audience? There is even something happening on stage, before the musical starts. Commentaries  ask the viewers to turn the mobile phone off - friendly and convincingly of course. All these little extras put one in the right mood and shows how much thought goes into every aspect of the theatrical experience.  

 Fredericia Teater managed to land their next big hit – even with an (allegedly) horrible title. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s unlike any of their previous productions. With Michelle Tattenbaum as director, Urinetown has been given an original spin, transforming it into a success. Its play with musical tropes and character archetypes are hilarious – not only for those familiar with the different shows referenced throughout. And while it is an affectionate parody with no 4th wall, it still conveys its own solid story. It’s really no surprise that the musical extended its runtime, before it even had its premiere on April 12th.   

URINETOWN/TISSEBYEN – THE MUSICAL is currently playing at Fredericia Teater until May 4th. Make sure not to miss URINETOWN (the musical, not the place!) before it’s too late!  

Bewertung 6/6 Sterne ★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Søren Malmose

 

 

29.01.2019 - London (England) / Wien, English Cinema Haydn (Österreich)

Everybody´s Talking About Jamie
The 5-Star production on the Big Screen!

Produced by a new musical production team and directed by Jonathan Butterell, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” proved to be an instant sensation. It won multiple awards and became a hit among audiences and critics. A West End transfer soon followed the opening in Sheffield, since then it has been extended twice. Following this streak of success, the show has been recorded live and been broadcasted all over the UK and Ireland. It didn’t stop there. Jamie made it over the sea and, on January 29 th, the musical was screened at the English Cinema Haydn in Vienna. 

(c) Alistair Muir

 

 

Inspired by the documentary film “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16”, the musical, with book and lyrics by Tom MacRae, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Jamie New. Having almost finished school, there is just one thing in everybody’s mind: What do I want to be in the future? Jamie has already found his dream. He wishes to perform, but not only that, he dreams about becoming a famous drag queen. However, there is a long way to go until Jamie can achieve his dream. Some struggles even seem to be almost too big, the constant discouragements from teachers and bullies are just one of those, the absence of his father another. But with the support of his loving mother and true friends nothing seems impossible and might even become possible.

The music and dancing fit perfectly together and feel amazingly fresh. Written by Dan Gillespie Sells the melodies are catchy, there are bound to be some that the audience will hum after the show. The choreography by Kate Prince is sudden, emotional and just full of life. There is so much going on all the time and the ensemble emit a certain energy on stage that can even be felt through the screen in the cinema.

John McCrea is the perfect choice for the titular Jamie. He is flashy, funny, unafraid and fearful at the same time. His voice is just as adaptable as his acting, sometimes loud at others soft, almost at the brink of breaking and nothing more than a whisper. He is not only in the spotlight he is the spotlight. This is a story about growing up and becoming yourself and while nobody’s perfect, we learn and grow from all our mistakes, just as Jamie does. And while Jamie is not without failures, John McCrea’s performance lets him stay sympathetic.

(c) Johan Perrson

 

 

The show is heart-warming, funny and touching as well. The love between Jamie and his mother Margaret is just pure. The problems they face and overcome make their bond even stronger and real. Josie Walker does a great job expressing all of Margaret’s emotions, giving her a lot of depth as well. The audience instantly feels with her.

While there are a lot of struggles to overcome until Jamie can make his dream into reality, there is a lot of fun as well. Especially audience favourites Ray (Shobna Gulati), a family friend and moral support, and drag queen attire shop owner Hugo (Phil Nichol) provide quite a lot of the show’s humour, which can get indecent at times. There is a reason why the musical is recommended 16 upwards after all.

The show is as English as it gets. While it can be a little difficult to understand everything, especially if one isn’t familiar with slang, it’s still easy to follow the story, so one shouldn’t be discouraged by that.

(c) SHOBNA

 

 

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is a product of our modern time and it is for our time. The story is about one boy and is, at the same time, universal. Above all it is a story about love. It shows that life is not always great and sometimes you have to fight for your happiness. Ultimately it is a feelgood show with the heart in the right place. There is just something about it that captivates audiences from all over, be it London or Vienna, and it will undoubtedly stay in your mind for a long time. The musical works just as well on a cinema screen. It’s easy to forget that one is not really at the theatre, some people in the cinema audience even clapped along. It’s a show everybody really should be talking about and all should keep talking.

Infos:  www.jamieincinemas.com

Bewertung 5,5/6:
★★★★★²                                   © Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer

 07.10.2018 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

 TARZAN

Denmark let the apes out and brings another animated classic to life. TARZAN celebrated its premiere in Frederica on October 5th and Frederica Teater goes out of their way to deliver a magical theatrical experience from start to finish. The foyer is decorated accordingly, with a scientist’s camp built in one corner, green lighting and boxes as tables. It really feels like stepping into the Disney movie, when setting a foot into the theatre.

The musical is for the whole family. It is about the meaning and importance of family, about home and belonging. The story follows Tarzan who, after his parents fall victim to a leopard, is raised by gorillas. As Kala has lost her child, she decides to adopt Tarzan as her own, much to the disdain of pack leader Kerchak. Looking notably different from his fellow companions, Tarzan wonders who he really is and where he truly belongs. The chance meeting with Jane Porter brings Tarzan closer to his true heritage, as well as to Jane herself.  

 

 

Kim Ace Nielsen as Tarzan definitely looks the part. He also delivers a great performance, his physical efforts, like swinging through the theatre, earns him a round of applause more than once. He clearly shows the differences in Tarzan’s communication between apes and humans. Even though he starts his communication with Jane through utterances alone, it doesn’t take anything away from Tarzan’s emotional range. Vocally Kim Ace Nielsen proves to be just as strong and expressive as proven in "Den jeg er" ("Everything That I Am"), where Tarzan discovers his past heritage, and the following "Du er mit hjerteslag (reprise)" ("You’ll Be In My Heart (reprise)"), where Tarzan promises his adoptive mother Kala that she will always be with him no matter where he will go.

 

 

Bjørg Gamst brings something to Jane Porter that makes one instantly like her. Naïve, careless and too lost in her thoughts, but brave and with a good heart, her Jane is a true Disney heroine. Though it is a rather typical love at first sight concerning Tarzan and Jane, their chemistry manages to have the audience root for them. Apart from a genuineness in her portrayal of Jane’s emotions, Bjørg Gamst manages to accentuate Jane’s humorous side as well, making the audience laugh with ease.

Maria Skuladottir plays Tarzan’s adoptive mother Kala. She gets the audience to feel with her, making Kala’s grief over her lost child almost tangible. Kala is a good mother, she is always on Tarzan’s side and puts his needs before her own. There is just something inherently good about the character that lets one sympathise with her and Maria Skuladottir does a great job in portraying just that. Their relationship goes through ups and downs, but one can really see that Kala and Kerchak truly love each other, especially in “Nu og for evigt” (“Sure As Sun Turns To Moon”). Apart from singing great on their own, their voices fit perfectly together as well.

Teit Samsø expresses Kerchak’s authority as the apes’ leader with every fibre of his body. Only having his family’s safety on his mind, Kerchak doesn’t allow himself to trust Tarzan, since he knows what men are capable of. It can be seen, however, that he doesn’t like pushing Tarzan away. That inner turmoil is shown through Teit Samsø’s performance.  

 

 

Concerning the acrobatics, Diluckshan Jeyaratnam as Tarzan’s best friend Terk is doing a spectacular job as well. Effortlessly he jumps in and out of the hoop, even swings around upside down while singing without giving any indication of that physical strain in his voice or movement. Terk’s songs have a groovy touch which Diluckshan Jeyaratnam uses to bring out Terk’s confident attitude.

On the premiere evening Arthur Ditlev Wadstrøm and Albert Mahesh Witthorf Groth played the roles of young Tarzan and Terk as if they’ve done so their whole lives. Their performances come natural without any sign of nervousness, despite their young age.

 

 

Cunning and self-absorbed, the hunter Clayton goes from a seemingly ally to Tarzan’s enemy. While Jane and her father represent the good in men, Clayton represents the evil, destructive side Kerchak has always feared. Jacob Prüser’s performance makes one just love to hate Clayton, while giving him some depths in the comparable short screen time he receives.

Hiring Lynne Kurdziel Formato as director proved to be the right choice for this musical. Being a choreographer herself, the choreography with the aerial choreography by Christel Stjernbjerg and Sita Bhuller is nothing short of phenomenal, which is especially important in a piece like this where movement plays such an essential role. Both the dancing and the acrobatic feats are beautifully staged and the hard work involved in perfecting it certainly paid off. The jungle comes to life and the ensemble members portraying the gorillas really have the monkey-movements down.

 

 

The scenography by Kevin Depinet is just as impressive. As Tarzan’s parents strand on the island, they hang in the air, giving the impression as if they were floating in the water. They continue to walk vertically on the stage, before they slowly change to walk normally as the projection behind slowly changes accordingly. The whole set emits the jungle-feeling. The light by Mike Holm and Martin Jensen helps to accentuate that atmosphere with keeping greens in the stage lighting. There were also gasps in the audience, as Tarzan and Jane rose above the jungle top and the bright sunrise splashed into the auditorium. 

 

 

Another highlight is the portrayal of the leopard. Starting with a pair of eyes and some unsettling growls, the theatre is soon in complete darkness with nothing but the sound of the leopard lurking and moving around. With the sound coming from different sides, one gets the feeling of the beast moving around, keeping the audience on the edge of the seat with the expectation of an imminent attack.

Fredericia Teater continues its streak of success with no end in sight. Tarzan again proves to be theatrical entertainment on the highest level for both old and young with its spectacular staging and themes relevant for today’s society.

Don’t let the language barrier intimidate you and make sure not to miss TARZAN with the unforgettable songs by Phil Collins, playing now at Fredericia Teater with an extended run until January 13th! If one can’t make it to Fredericia there will be more opportunities in Aarhus in September 2019 and Copenhagen in November in 2019.

Bewertung 6/6:
★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Søren Malmose

 04.10.2018 - GöteborgsOperan, Schweden

© Idea Studio, Fredericia Teater

 

 

RINGAREN I NOTRE DAME - MUSIKALEN

Since September 22nd the bells of Notre Dame can be heard in all of Gothenburg. RINGAREN I NOTRE DAME ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame”) has taken the stage in GöteborgsOperan under the direction of Thomas Agerholm.

The story incorporates elements from both the Disney movie and the original novel by Victor Hugo. It follows Quasimodo who, since he was born deformed, lives hidden in Notre Dame. Raised far from the world, his only company is the archdeacon Claude Frollo. One day, Quasimodo goes against Frollo’s directions and decides to leave his home, where he meets the gypsy dancer Esmeralda. The two quickly form a close friendship, bonding over their similar life as an outcast. Meanwhile, becoming more and more infatuated with Esmeralda, Frollo wishes to win her for himself or – if she refuses – to destroy her completely. With the whole city of Paris against them, only Quasimodo can save Esmeralda from her fate.

 

 

The music by Alan Menken with text by Stephen Schwartz includes songs from the animated movie as well as new compositions. The tunes instantly evoke an imposing atmosphere using the choir and take the audience into the epic story. In addition to sounding gorgeous, the use of the choir fits the medieval setting  and the religious themes perfectly.

Martin Redhe Nord plays the bell ringer with a pure and almost childlike innocence. Quasimodo’s desire to be among the people – even if just for one day – is expressed in "Där ute" ("Out there"), with a stunning performance by Martin Redhe Nord. Quasimodo’s feelings for Esmeralda are also portrayed in such a way that the audience just has to empathise with him. One of the most heart-warming moments is the song "Ovanifrån" ("Top of the World"), where Quasimodo shows Emseralda the view from his tower, displaying the blossoming relationship the two form.

 

 

Marsha Songcome portrays Esmeralda’s strong spirit with great credibility. Her Emserlda is bold and dares to speak up – even to god. In "Se dina minsta" ("God Help the Outcast") she even commands God to aid the people needing his help in, depicting her authority. Despite her braveness, Esmeralda is truly afraid of the gruesome fate she is confronted with. This fear is also clearly shown by Marsha Songcome, making Esmeralda both strong and frail at the same time, letting one wish for her to escape her impending doom.  

Emseralda’s dance manages to mesmerize not only the three main guys, but the audience as well. Marsha Songcome’s movements are light and powerful at the same time, her Esmeralda has some kind of energy not unlike a raging fire. The choreography by Lynne Kurdziel Formato is simlpy stunning, full of life and it enthralls the viewers.

 

 

Despite playing the role of the villain, Joa Helgesson gives Claude Frollo depths that make it possible to feel with him, even take pity on him, albeit Frollo’s gruesome deeds. Frollo is not portrayed as an inhuman, wicked being. In the beginning, as he treats Quasimodo with kindness, one can see that he is not a bad person, but throughout the musical some form of madness takes more and more hold of Frollo. That madness and Frollo’s inner struggle are emphasised in "Elden" ("Hellfire"), in which Joa Helgesson also proves his vocal talent. The finale of "Elden" couldn’t be any more spectatcular. It just takes ones' breath away, when the projected image of Notre Dame gets immersed in fire and the whole auditorium begins to tremble. Nothing akin to that moment exists.

Speaking of which: One highlight of the musical has to be the staging. The Swedish production uses one similar to the Danish one – why should you change something that perfect? – and Benjamin la Cour has once again used his magic to captivate the audience. The theatre shakes as the stage seemingly moves from the church hall to Quasimodo’s bell tower. Sound (by Andreas Renhorn), video (by Jakob Bønsdorff Eriksen) and vibrations all work together to create a special theatrical experience. It just feels purely magical.

 

 

At first glance, the soldier Phoebus De Martin seems to be a shallow man who only wants to take delight in the company of any woman he meets. However, thanks to Esmeralda’s influence he becomes more and more selfless and stands up for what’s right – even if that demands sacrifices. Jonas Eskil Brehmer gives his performance enough credibility that one can easily believe Phoebus’ change. He also manages to depict Phoebus’ inner struggle with a similar truthfulness. Though Phoebus has already lived through a hellish war and wants nothing more than to keep his newfound peaceful life, he willingly puts himself in danger for Esmeralda’s sake. Jonas Eskil Brehmer also shows great chemistry with Marsha Singcomes Esmeralda, both their duets are a joy to listen to.

 

 

The gypsies’ king Clopin possesses many sides: In one moment he is nothing more than a mischievous thief and amuses his audience, the next he emits a menacing aura, vowing to kill anyone who dares to put the lives of his people in danger. Tobias Ahlsell does a great job in portraying all of Clopin’s facets.

Even though the musical is grimmer than the animated movie, there are still moments that make one laugh. One of them is the rather short but memorable scene involving the French king Louis XI. portrayed by Magnus Lundgren. Frollo seeks the king’s help in catching Esmeralda and while that shouldn’t be as funny as it is, Magnus Lundgren reacts in an overdramatic fearful manner that one can’t help but burst into laughter.

The costumes by Anna Juul Holm and Lotte Blichfeldt are well done – fitting both setting and characters – and help the audience identify the ensemble’s roles during the musical. There are also changes in costume throughout the show which are beautifully staged.

 

 

The rest of the enormous ensemble impresses with a stunning performance. The actors take up many distinct roles – sometimes acting as narrators and characters in the same scene – and portray all of them with passion and authenticity. The ensemble’s vocal ability especially shines in the choir passages, evoking a churchlike atmosphere. Worthy of mention is the second act’s overture that incorporates the different musical themes into a stunning piece sending shivers down one’s spine.

This production also offers the possibility to sit on stage, where the ensemble sometimes sits right next to you. These church-like seats even move around, so one can look into the audience from the actors’ point of view. While there are some passages one can’t fully see, others are shown in a different way, making this musical certainly worth another visit.

As soon as the curtain falls, the viewers jumps up from their seats, bringing the ensemble back on stage again and again through their standing ovations.

Nobody should miss this production! It is theatre at its best with a magic one has to experience for oneself.  Though the musical is performed in Swedish, it doesn’t matter if one can’t understand every word. The emotions can be felt regardless, proving that musical theatre is a language of its own.

RINGAREN I NOTRE DAME playing now in GöteborgsOperan in Gothenburg until April 6th 2019!

Bewertung 6/6:
★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Mats Bäcker

 13.08.2018 - Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutschland

 

 

TITANIC - THE MUSICAL

Following its critically acclaimed tour through the United Kingdom, TITANIC – THE MUSICAL written by Peter Stone travels to the Staatsoper Hamburg for its final stop.

There are probably not many who have never heard of the Titanic, the greatest ship of its time that set sail in 1912 and collided with an iceberg leading to the deaths of approximately 1500 of the 2100 people on board. There is, however, a difference between knowing about the events back then and seeing them play out on stage. That is exactly what this musical, directed by Thom Southerland, sets out to do: to tell the tale and let the audience understand what happened not only to the ship but also to the people on board.

 

 

Based on the historic events, every name that is mentioned during the musical belonged to a real person on the ship. While there have been dramaturgical changes, Titanic mostly stays true to the events that took place during the maiden voyage, a fact that gives the musical an additional weight, knowing that these people really existed and that most of them perished on that ship.

Though one knows right from the start that the musical will not have a happy ending, watching many characters die and hearing the survivors speak – without any sound in the background – how the others died is quite heavy. Nonetheless, with a reprise of “Godspeed Titanic” and the powerful chorus, Titanic does end on a hopeful note.

 

 

The differences of the social class are one of the musical’s core themes. In the end, the remaining passengers all share the same fate, destroying the former barriers between the classes. The characters do share one thing. They all boarded the Titanic for the hope of a better life. Third-class Irish girl Kate McGowan, portrayed by Victoria Serra, dreams of becoming a governess in America. Her determination to realise her dream does not falter even with all the odds against her which ensures her survival with her lover Jim Farrell (Chris McGuigan).

 

 

Others are not as lucky. Stoker Frederick Barrett, played by Niall Sheehy – who possesses a voice that is easily heard even in the chorus –, for example. Barrett wants to get married and even sends his proposal while on the Titanic in “The Proposal/The Night Was Alive" – an ear-worm sung beautifully by Sheehy and Oliver Marshall as telegraph operator Harold Bride. First-class lady Caroline Neville (Claire Marlowe) travels with her second-class lover Charles Clarke (Stephen Webb) to finally get married. However, Clarke stays behind on the Titanic. First-class couple Isidor and Ida Strauss, portrayed by Dudley Rogers and Judith Street, also decide to not leave the ship to allow others to get to safety and the two die together in a heart-wrenching moment.

 

 

Nearly everyone gets a solo. One of the most striking is “Mr. Andrews’ Vision” by Greg Castiglioni as Titanic’s designer Thomas Andrews. Showcasing his strong voice the song depicts Andrews’ descent into madness as he imagines how Titanic’s passengers are all going to die, before Andrews himself perishes as well.

 

 

The characters do not know about the dreadful events about to happen. Most of them are indeed having the time of their lives. Especially Alice Beane, portrayed by Jacinta Whyte, a second-class woman who is always trying to get close to the first-class celebrities – much to the dismay of her husband Edgar (Timothy Quinlan), but to the amusement of the audience.

The music by Maury Yeston fits the historical time perfectly and the melodies will surely follow one home. It also sometimes has a quite eerie touch, especially apparent in one of the most powerful moments of the musical “No Moon”, the final song of act one sung by Joel Parnis as Lookout Frederick Fleet. The night seems calm, but as the song progresses an ominous touch is added to the music letting the audience know that the moment of doom is near. The last few moments are bound to give goosebumps, as the theatre begins to shake.

The set by David Woodhead is simple but efficient. It shows that there is not much needed – just a few props – to depict a believable change in location. The costume – again by David Woodhead – is inspired by the fashion of the 1910s and clearly shows the differences in class. The lighting by Howard Hudson creates a powerful atmosphere, starting with bright lights that get dimmer and darker as the story progresses – depicting the hope that ends in despair.

 

 

With loads and loads of characters and no true protagonist the cast does an amazing job in their portrayal and deserves a huge compliment for depicting every character in a memorable way. The first act gives the characters enough room and time to grow, letting the audience get to know them while the knowledge where the story will end lurks in the back of the head. The characters all get their moments to let the audience feel with them, before everything goes downhill in the second act.

There is not much time left to watch this production live, TITANIC – THE MUSICAL sets its sails for the last time on August 19th and it would be a shame to miss it!

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer © Fotos: Scott Rylander und Anabel Vere

09.04.2018 - Fredericia Teater, Dänemark

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT

 

 

After their successful musicals, including The Little Mermaid and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fredericia Teater now delivered another production based on a well-known animated movie. THE PRINCE OF EGYPT had its world premiere in Fredericia on April 6th!

Directed by Scott Schwartz the musical tells the story of the two princes of Egypt Moses and Ramses. Though the brother’s relationship can be described as rocky, mostly due to Moses’ recklessness and Ramses’ willingness to tag along, their bond is strong. That bond is tested when their father, pharaoh Seti, returns with a slave girl, Tzipporah, meant as a present for Ramses. However, the slave girl manages to escape. While looking for her, Moses stumbles upon a Hebrew woman, Miriam, his birth sister. The truth about Moses’ heritage is revealed. He was born a Hebrew slave. His mother saved him from certain death by the pharaoh’s soldiers by putting him on the Nile and he was then taken in by the queen of Egypt.

No longer able to look away from the pain of the Hebrew slaves, Moses accidentally pushes one of the pharaoh’s guards, who has abused the slaves, to his death. As Ramses tries to console Moses, Moses confesses to his true origins. Taken aback, but still on his brother’s side Ramses tries to convince Moses not to abandon his family and home. He fails and Moses runs off into the desert.

Moses stumbles upon Tzipporah and stays with her people. Meanwhile, Ramses is crowned pharaoh after his father’s death. Time passes and one day, while looking for a lost sheep, Moses finds a burning bush. Hearing the voice of God Moses learns of his mission. He is meant to return to Egypt to deliver the Hebrews to freedom. To achieve that Moses must face Ramses again.

 

 

Changing from a mischievous prince to a humble shepherd to God’s messenger and saviour of his people, Moses goes through a long journey as the musical progresses. A challenging part, but there is no doubt, Diluckshan Jeyaratnam’s portrayal is perfect. His Moses is arrogant, strong, doubtful and deeply flawed which makes him incredibly human and thus sympathetic. Not only his acting but also his singing is superb. Diluckshan Jeyaratnam’s voice touches the audience, especially in “For The Rest of My Life”, in which a horrified Moses laments the sacrifices made to save his people.

 

 

Jason Gotay’s Ramses desperately seeks his father’s approval and wants to prove himself as the future pharaoh. Behind the serious demeanour Ramses can be funny. Jason Gotay possesses comedic talent, when Ramses tries to break the awkward silence at his first meeting with his future wife Nefertari for example. Even when he becomes pharaoh, Ramses’ love for Moses is strong. Ramses is deeply conflicted and Jason Gotay’s depiction of that conflict is convincing. Though he acts as the antagonist, one can’t help but sympathise with Ramses, especially as he mourns his son.

After the world premiere the role of Ramses will be played by Lars Mølsted.

The brother’s relationship is the heart of the show and Diluckshan Jeyaratnam and Jason Gotay are the ideal pair. Their voices sound great together, the songs they share are a joy to listen to – “Always On Your Side” comes to mind – and their chemistry is on point. Moses’ relationships to both his adopted and birth family gets expanded in the musical as well. This adds a lot of emotional weight, especially to Moses’ decision to abandon his adopted family.

 

 

Anne Fuglsig as Queen Tuya portrays a loving mother to both Ramses and Moses. Her taking Moses in, though she knows about his true heritage, shows her kind heart. She desires harmony above all else, begging her two sons to make amends after they become enemies.

The musical does a great job depicting its characters as not only black and white. Mads M. Nielsen as Pharaoh Seti is the perfect example. Though Seti committed gruesome acts, killing the children of the Hebrew slaves, it is shown that he does so reluctantly. While he often scolds his sons, he also loves them dearly. “Ma’at/One Weak Link” haunts Ramses even after Seti’s death – as does Seti’s presence. In the blink of an eye, Mads M. Nielsen switches between Seti’s emotions using his vocal range, be it demanding or tender or showcasing the deep and threatening depth of his voice, when somebody – mostly one of the princes – crosses the line.

 

 

Nadia Abraham’s entrance as Tzipporah in “Dance To The Day” shows Tzipporah’s confidence and courage. Her dancing and voice are wonderful, fitting the oriental tunes in Tzipporah’s songs. Nadia Abraham also harmonises both with Diluckshan Jeyaratnam’s Moses and with Silke Biranell’s Miriam. Together, Nadia Abraham and Silke Biranell sing “When You Believe”, their rendition is powerful and caring at the same time.

Ramses’ wife Nefertari, played by Kristine Yde or Sandra Elsfort, comes across as cold and unapproachable. In reality, she hides her feelings because of her role as queen. Her song “Heartless”, as she shows her true colours while mourning her son, is moving.

 

 

Søren Bech-Madsen plays Hotep, Egypt’s high priest. Controlling the pharaoh – Seti and Ramses – Hotep acts as the musical’s true villain. Søren Bech-Madsen has a deep, powerful voice fitting the demonic chants and his Hotep can be truly frightening.  

The musical is quite dark, but humour plays a part as well. Runi Lewerissa as Tzipporah’s father Jethro and Christoffer Lund Skov as Moses’ brother Aaron provide a lot of the lighter moments of the show. Their songs, “Through Heaven’s Eyes” and “One Of Us”, are also beautifully choreographed.

 

 

Speaking of which, the choreography by Sean Cheesman is simply spectacular and brings a special magic to The Prince of Egypt. There are not many different props used throughout, instead the focus is on the dancers who transform themselves into set pieces or into the scenography. Through movement they use their bodies to become the waves of the sea, the sand in the desert, the pharaoh’s temple, the plagues or even the burning bush. Special mention to the talented dancers who are doing an amazing job!

The music is written by Stephen Schwartz. Most songs from the animated movie are used in the musical. In addition, new songs have been created. Highlights include the choral “Deliver Us” with a stunning performance by Samira Alm as Moses’ mother Jocheved and the duet “Never In A Million Years” sung by Moses and Tzipporah.

 

 

The lighting by Mike Billings and Fredericia Teater produces a unique and fitting atmosphere, the contrast between the yellow and blue lighting creates scenes that almost seem like paintings. The projections are often breath-taking and when Moses divides the sea the audience erupts in applause. That scene alone is worth seeing this production.

Fredericia Teater doesn’t disappoint. It has brought to life an emotional story bound to captivate audiences with its unique magic. Though Moses has divided the sea, the audience stood in unity, giving cast and crew a well-deserved standing ovation.

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT playing in English and Danish at Fredericia Teater in Denmark until May 18th (English) and June 10th (Danish) before opening at Det Kongelige Teater (The Royal Theatre) in Copenhagen on June 21st next year.

If we were to give stars, this performance would receive:
★★★★★

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Søren Malmose


02.03.2018 - Union Theatre, London

 

 

CARMEN 1808

Adapted as a new musical piece “Carmen 1808” opened at the Union Theatre on February 7th under direction of Phil Willmott - who also wrote the book and lyrics.

Based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée the musical takes place in Madrid during the French occupation of Spain. The Catalan Captain Velarde has been transferred to enforce the French laws on the Spanish population. His loyalty is tested, as he meets the gypsy girl Carmen. Carmen works as a spy for the Spanish resistance and she is initially only out to use Velarde to gather information about the French’s plans. At first, Velarde seems to be reluctant to her advances, but soon he falls in love with her and Carmen does with him.

 

 

Velarde joins the resistance in their fight against the French. When the rumour spreads that the Spanish king has returned from exile, the resistance fighters gather in the streets to celebrate. However, as it turns out, they have been tricked and riled up by the French to destroy them once and for all. Velarde dies in the bloodbath. Unable to continue living without him, Carmen takes her own life.

With only ninety minutes, the plot seems sometimes rushed, but the acting is so strong that the sudden changes in character don’t feel forced. Especially Maximilian Marston as Captain Velarde goes through very fast changes in character. Velarde soon falls for Carmen, even though he has been hesitant in the very beginning. Marston manages to make these changes feel fitting and believable.

 

 

The engery with which Rachel Lea-Gray performs is remarkable. Her Carmen is confident and seductive, she knows what she wants and how to get it. Beneath that strong, distant appearance Carmen also possesses a softer side. This is shown in Carmen’s realisation to her own feelings for Velarde and in the tender moments she shares with him. Lea-Gray portrays Carmen’s strength just as well as her insecurity. Lea-Gray and Marston make a great pair with an interesting power balance which is fun to watch.

Josephina, the former lover of Velarde, is played by Charlotte Haines. Soft and almost fragile Haines’ voice fits the delicate Josephina perfectly. However, there is more to Josephina than meets the eye and her innocent façade hides another side. These character changes are convincingly shown by Haines.

 

 

The painter Francisco Goya is put in the spotlight in this production. Portrayed by Alexander Barria he acts both as a character in the story and as a narrator, operating outside the character’s world. He emits an omnipresent vibe and he is almost all the time on stage, often painting the characters in the background.

Corporal Luis played by Thomas Mitchells seems to be rather cowardly in the beginning. A soldier who doesn’t dare to question the French orders he is given. He becomes obsessed with Carmen and in his rivalry with Velarde for her love, he doesn’t hesitate to turn his back on Velarde, even imprisoning him. In the end, Luis sides with the resistance, proving that he can make the right choice without thinking about Carmen.

 

 

The resistance’s leader Javier Rizal portrayed by Blair Gibson is defiant until the end. His dedication and sheer will is remarkable, accentuated by the performance of Gibson.

The sound effects, designed by Theo Holloway – and their absence! – are used effectively throughout the performance. The few gunshots truly get to the audience. Their absence makes one scene even more impactful, when the sound is instead replaced by a stillness of the characters – reminiscent of a painting, painted in the piece by Alexander Barria as Goya – making that scene even more impactful.

 

 

The set by Justin Williams and Jonny Rust plays a lot with different levels, used to illustrate the power balances between the characters. Carmen uses all of the space, walking and even jumping on the different areas fitting her confident character. Since the set is quite static, the light, designed by Ben Jacobs, adds a lot to the atmosphere with the use of shadow and haze. Thus, creating different locations without making any changes in set at all.

The dances are beautifully choreographed by Adam Haigh. There are fast changes in pace, done effortlessly by the whole cast. Through the small auditorium the action is happening close to the audience and the energy of the dances can be felt as well. Georges Bizet’s famous music arranged by Teddy Clements for this musical rendition fits the dances and the tone of the piece perfectly.

 

 

Through the musical production of Carmen, the work has become more accessible in a way, especially appealing to a younger audience and those interested in the musical genre or those intimidated by the heavy tones – and duration – of an opera piece.

Though the story doesn’t end on a positive note, the musical certainly does with the audience clapping as the actors reprise the fast-paced dances. One doesn’t leave the theatre with a heavy feeling, a feeling of helplessness, but rather with a more hopeful one.

Carmen 1808 now playing at the Union Theatre until March 10 th!

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Scott Rylander

© Lotta Heinegård/Charlotte T Strömwall

 

 

16.02.2018 - Malmö (Schweden)

PIPPIN

The musical PIPPIN by Roger O. Hirson with music by Stephen Schwartz, first performed in 1972 on Broadway, celebrated its premiere in Sweden at the Malmö Opera on January 27th 2018.  

Directed by Ronny Danielsson the musical tells the story of the titular character Pippin (Oscar Pierrou Lindén), the restless son of Charlemagne (Michael Jansson), searching for his place in the world and for the meaning of his life. On that journey he is accompanied by the Leading Player (Lindy Larsson), an enigmatic figure acting as the storyteller. Whatever Pippin tries, nothing seems to give his life any meaning, be it taking part in the war of his father or his love affair with Catherine (Åsa Fång).

 

 

In the grand finale, the Leading Player tries to seduce Pippin into committing suicide by setting himself on fire, since it is the finale that gives the life its true meaning. As Pippin refuses, the furious Leading Player leaves the stage, after taking away all theatre ‘magic’. The musical ends with Catherine’s son Theo alone on stage singing “Theos Himmel” (“Corner of the Sky – Reprise”) without an orchestra – performed beautifully by Ruben Vaarning in that performance on Sunday February 11th.

Oscar Pierrou Lindén plays Pippin. His voice gives his performance a heart-warming, often touching aspect, especially apparent in “Himlen” (“Corner of the Sky”). Though Pippin himself with his questionable actions isn’t or shouldn’t be the most sympathetic character, Lindén manages to stay likeable throughout the play.

Pippin’s everyday-like outfit stands in stark contrast to the opulent flashy costumes of the other cast members, marking him visibly different and less glamourous. Fitting, since he is the one searching for his place in the world. Compliments to Camilla Thulin for designing these costumes.

 

 

Right from the start Lindy Larsson as the Leading Player captivates as he leads the audience into the magical world of the musical in “Den Magi Som Ni Ser” (“Magic To Do”). Larsson possesses the perfect stage presence for the part, even when he is in the background, that presence can be felt. Charming, but with dangerous and cunning undertones his Leading Player is not unlike a devil, seducing and manipulating Pippin throughout the musical. His relationship with Pippin and his feelings for him are ambiguous, he seems to care about him in some way and near the end he seems to be truly hurt by Pippins actions and rejection.

 

 

Åsa Fång gives a likeable Catherine and loving mother to Theo (Oliver Palm, Ruben Vaarning or Melker Wickenberg). Her courting of Pippin by imitating the cry of a seal-like animal is one of the funniest moments in the musical. The love duet “Om Kärlek” (“Love Song”) gives both Fång and Lindén the opportunity to show their talent as well as their chemistry with each other.

Interactions with the audience is one of PIPPIN’s defining aspects. Apart from Larsson it is Johannes Wanselow as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe who interacts with the audience the most, even encouraging them to sing along in “Tid Att Ta Din Tid” (“No Time at All”). That song is also remembered for Wanselow’s entertaining use of a Segway.

 

 

Charlemagne, the power-hungry king is played by Michael Jansson. It’s impressive how fast Jansson can speak and sing, shown in “Krig Kräver Kunskap” (“War Is a Science”), also featuring an impressive choreography by Roger Lybek. The choreography with its use of breathtaking acrobatics adds to the circus atmosphere of the show as well.

Pippin’s half-brother Louis played by Kitty Chan is self-loving and feisty. That arrogance is perfectly and hysterically portrayed by her. Louis’ mother Fastrada depicted by Nina Pressing makes it clear that her loyalties lie with her son. Using Pippin and willing to betray her husband that ruthlessness is particularly evident in “Sprida Lite Solsken” (“Spread a Little Sunshine”).

 

 

The stage designed by Martin Chocholousek is adaptable, taking the audience into a church or to the cannels of Venice. The orchestra isn’t hidden in the orchestra pit but present on the stage and in some songs individual musicians come to the front of the stage.

PIPPIN with its absurd comedic elements promises an entertaining evening. The Swedish production delivers, with its hilarious ideas – enormous inflatable ducks or a headless soldier, stumbling around the stage combined with his talking head – and outstanding performance of the cast.

PIPPIN now playing at the Malmö Opera until April 21st!

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Malin Arnesson

 

 

02.02.2018 - London (England)

HOT LIPS AND COLD WAR

Created by Lizzie Freeborn “Hot Lips and Cold War” takes the audience back into the 1960’s, the time of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The threat of a nuclear war, the growing movements for social and racial equality define that time. Directed by Tim McArthur the musical explores what might have been, surrounding Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and both of their deaths.

Ashley Knight (Jerome The King Kingsley)

 

 

The musical opens with wide-eyed Maria (Sylvie Briggs) in Ireland. Maria is in love with White House worker Davy (Adam Small). When she reveals that she is pregnant she follows Davy to Washington, stealing money from the church to finance the flight. Maria starts working as a photographer for Jackie Kennedy (Marcia Sommerford). Mrs. Kennedy suspects that her husband (Robert Oliver) has affairs, among them Marylin Monroe (Freya Tilly), and she wants Maria to catch Kennedy in the act to finally have proof. Maria soon learns that the White House bears many secrets and she must decide where her loyalties truly lie.

 

 

Sylvie Briggs does a great job portraying Maria. The world doesn’t treat Maria kindly, but she never loses her good heart and even though she did steal from the church, the remorse she feels seems genuine. Briggs’ has a great chemistry with Jamal Franklin as Marvin. As the Kennedy’s and Marilyn are the focus in Act II, Marvin is mostly absent, sadly since Franklin delivers a great performance. However, Marvin and Maria get their deserved attention near the end. The evolution of Maria’s and Jackie Kennedy’s maid and Marvin’s mother Grace, portrayed by Florence Odumosu, is done well. Having a rocky start, the two develop a mutual trust over the course of the musical. Odumosu also portrays her love for Marvin in a very convincingly way.

Jamal Franklin, Sylvie Briggs (Maria)

 

 

Though Davy is a character one just loves to hate, Adam Small still manages to portray his character in a way that one even feels sympathy with him at times.

Robert Oliver gives a confident but conflicted John F. Kennedy. The love for his wife is evident, but his desire for other women – most of all for Marylin Monroe – is often stronger. Real speeches of Kennedy are used, to which Oliver gestures to with his back to the audience. An interesting choice that could have gone wrong but works. Marcia Sommerford as Jackie Kennedy depicts a strong woman and loving wife. Being aware of her husband’s infidelity, Sommerford effectively portrays the jealousy and despise Jackie feels, especially towards Monroe.

Jamal Franklin (Marvin) and Florence Odumosu (Grace)

 

 

Freya Tilly as Marilyn Monroe knows how to take the stage without much effort. Her Monroe is ambitious, but deep down a highly unstable and lonely woman, perfectly shown in her last song “Call Me” where a broken Monroe awaits a call from Kennedy before dying. Worth mentioning is Tilly’s wonderful rendition of Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President”.

The cast is joined by Lewis Rae as Kennedy’s secretary Kenny O’Donnell and Ashely Knight as racist democrat politician Jerome Kinsley. Both deliver a great performance.

Freya Tilly (Marilyn) withJKF (Robert Oliver) and Lucas Hall Kenny)

 

 

The musical incorporates different musical styles – among other genres jazz, swing and more classical tunes – fitting both the atmosphere of America in the 1960s and the different characters with their backgrounds. Performed in the London Theatre Workshop – a small theatre space – the audience is never far away from the events on stage and the actors can be seen up-close. There are only minor set changes, Kennedy’s office is always shown – but not always the ‘real’ setting. Lots of details can be explored, photographs on the wall for example, adding a nice touch to the scenery.

Ending with Kennedy’s assassination, all characters gather on the stage. The true heart of “Hot Lips and Cold War” is not the Kennedy family or Marilyn Monroe but ordinary people represented by Maria, Marvin and Grace. Though history doesn’t remember their names, their representatives are given voices in this musical, showing that trust is what is truly important.

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Jamie Scott-Smith

 

 

02.02.2018 - "London Park Theatre", London (England)

ROTHSCHILD & SONS

“Rothschild & Sons” first performed in 1970 on Broadway now opened in the UK for the very first time. With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick – Bock and Harnick have collaborated before in “Fiddler on the Roof” – and a book by Sherman Yellen it can now be experienced under direction of Jeffry B. Moss in London’s Park Theatre. 

The musical tells the story of the Rothschild’s, a Jewish family living in the ghetto of Frankfort in the late 18th century. Separated by a wall, Mayer Rothschild (Robert Cuccioli) dreams of tearing that wall down, finally regaining dignity and freedom again. To achieve that he prays that his wife Gutele (Glory Crampton) will give him sons. His prayers are answered and Mayer rises to fame with his five sons and builds a financial empire. However, when the Napoleonic wars start, Mayer realises that his family might have to overcome their own differences before they can make a difference.

Robert Cuccioli gives a sympathetic Mayer Rothschild. His strengths and flaws  his ambition to free his people and his want for control over his sons lives as well as his lack of faith in them  make him a well-rounded character. “In My Own Lifetime” is both bittersweet and hopeful, portraying Mayer’s wish to live to see the wall break down. The song captures the musical’s atmosphere best and Cuccioli’s voice shines.

 

 

Glory Crampton as Mayer’s wife Gutele always stands by her husband’s side, while also growing as an own person. It is her husband that makes most decisions as the head of the family, though Gutele’s emotions are put in the focus as well. While Mayer sends the sons on their missions all over Europe in “The Sons Depart”, Gutele gets the spotlight as she laments her sons’ departure and fears for their uncertain future. It makes one wish that she would have received more moments like this – especially since she is the only major female character –, as her character has a lot of potential.

Of the five sons it is Nathan, portrayed by Gary Trainor, who the audience gets to know most. Smart like his father but reckless too, a conflict between father and son is inevitable. Both Nathan and Mayer must learn to trust in each other to achieve their common goal. That conflict is portrayed believably by both Cuccioli and Trainor.

 

 

Richard Dempsey, Tom Giles, Stephen Jacob and Kris Marc-Joseph playing the other sons all manage to stand out and give their characters different personalities. This is best depicted in “Rothschild and Sons”, showing how they work together with their father. The sons’ growth over the course of the musical – physically and in character – is shown convincingly by the actors.

The stage is small, apart from one adaptable prop there is no furniture onstage. This emptiness combined with the small theatre space puts the cast in the foreground. They can be seen from (almost) all sides. It is interesting to watch their facial expressions or gestures, particularly when they are not the centre of attention. Especially Glory Crampton does a good job portraying Gutele’s emotions, even when she doesn’t say anything and stands by the sides. Big compliments for performing the whole two hours without an interval, though the musical might have benefited from one.

 

 

The musical tells a personal family story, but general themes – conflict between the generations, overcoming obstacles – are relatable to all. “Rothschild & Sons” explores the Jewish history and oppression while not becoming a history lesson. The ending is a bittersweet one. The Rothschild’s achieve a victory that not all live to see. The audience knows that as history marches on, the future is not a happy one.

Even after almost 50 years “Rothschild & Sons” has a contemporary touch to it. The musical shows that storytelling doesn’t have to rely on a big stage design or a lot of props, if done well small gestures and expressions are enough. The Park Theatre’s stage is prefect for just that, seeing the actors’ expressions up close.

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Pamela Raith 

© Southbank Centre

 

 

18.01.2018 - "The Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre", London (England)

RAMIN KARIMLOO - "Back From Broadway"

Broadway and West End star Ramin Karimloo returns to London with his new concert in The Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre. Ramin is perhaps best known for playing major parts in some of the biggest musicals, roles include both Raoul and the Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera” or Enjolras, Marius and Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables”. His most recent role was that of Gleb in the world premiere of “Anastasia” on Broadway.

With “Back From Broadway“ Ramin once again returns to the UK following the successful tour in 2017. The enormous hall is filled and people have travelled from all around the world.

Starting with “Neverland” from “Finding Neverland” Ramin promises to take the audience on a journey. With music taken from famous musicals to songs not as known and even some of Ramin’s original compositions, it truly feels like a journey. A rather personal one giving this unique collection of songs. Though some of the big hits were included in the concert, it was nice to hear lesser known tunes as well.

The songs were very different, ranging from country to more traditional showtunes, but Ramin makes them all his own, his unique voice fitting all these different genres. Highlights include “Music Of The Night” from “Phantom Of The Opera”, “’Til I Hear You Sing” from “Love Never Dies” and, of course, the absolute touching performance of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Misérables”. At the beginning, right after the first notes of “Bring Him Home” the hall bursts into an enormous applause. Ramin proves that he only needs a few seconds to take the audience into the song. He portrays the various emotions in such a convincing way, often sending chills down your spine.

Whatever the song, Ramin brings the right amount of energy to the performance. Speaking of which, the energy he possesses is remarkable. Not only can it be felt in all his performances but is also evident in the fact that there wasn’t an intermission during the whole concert. Ramin was on stage from start to finish. Nothing seems to stop him or seems to bring him down, be it injuries, guitars that need to be tuned – sometimes a couple of times – or the heat on the stage.

A big compliment to the band as well. Being on stage for almost the whole time is not an easy feat, but they never got tired and their performance was stunning. Especially “From Now On” from “The Greatest Showman” deserves a praise. Evolving from a quiet solo of Ramin into a triumphant chorus with incorporation of the band, it was a highly energetic piece. It can be seen that both he and the band are simply having a great time on stage, making the concert even more enjoyable.

Throughout the evening Ramin proves that not only is he an excellent singer but can play the guitar just as well. “High Flying Adored” from “Evita” comes to mind, which Ramin performed with singer Matthew Harvey. Apart from singing, Ramin also composes songs himself. Some of his original compositions were performed during the concert. “Cathedrals” is probably the one that instantly stays in one’s head with its bittersweet beauty. Questions about home and belonging are sure to resonate with the audience, a lot having come a far way for the concert. 

Even though The Royal Festival Hall is a truly enormous building, Ramin makes the concert personal. He acknowledges the audience. His gaze is often straight into the auditorium, giving the feeling of directly looking at the spectators. As Ramin takes the audience through this concert, he also gives insight into his personal story, telling about the roles he played and his time in the countries he worked in and the different stages he performed on. Ramin even actively encouraged the audience to clap and sing along –  if one knows the lyrics – to some of the songs.

In the end, the audience was on their feet, giving both Ramin and the band a well-deserved round of applause. One woman even stood up to dance right in front of the stage during one of the last acts “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” from Johnny Cash. The last song, “Ol’ Man River” from “Showboat”, was performed by Ramin alone. This gave an intimate touch to the concert’s end, fitting the personal tone felt throughout the evening. “Ramin Karimloo Back from Broadway” marked a successful return and the concert proved to be a very entertaining evening. The audience was thrilled. It came as a surprise as the end of the concert was announced. It hadn’t felt like it had already been two hours. Surely it couldn’t have been already over? However, the clock didn’t lie. Time flew by fast, too fast even. Hopefully, one day, Ramin will be back once more.

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer

 

 

16.01.2018 - "Trafalgar Studios", London (England)

THE GRINNING MAN

“The Grinning Man” opened in London’s Trafalgar Studios on December 6th after its acclaimed run at the Bristol Old Vic. Based on Victor Hugo’s novel “The Man Who Laughs” the dark tone of the musical doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, neither “Les Misérables” nor “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are known as particularly happy stories. “The Grinning Man” is no exception to this. However, a surprisingly amount of humour can be found in this new musical directed by Tom Morris – who has written the lyrics with Carl Grose, Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler.

As the spectators enter the auditorium, they are taken in the surreal , carnival fair like, world. The walls are covered with dim, but various colours. The stage designed by Jon Bausor is shaped like the notorious grin of the Grinning Man. In the middle of one row a low table can be found, its purpose only revealed at the very end of the musical. A few rows before a pedestal is used by the actors for different reasons during the show.

Laughter is the best Medicine” the first song already sets the musical’s ambiguous tone. The clown Barkilphedro (Julian Bleach) takes the stage, looking into the audience for a long time before the music starts. The song is reminiscent of both Sondheim in terms of music and Tim Burton in terms of the atmosphere with the ensemble’s heads peeking out from under the curtain. Barkilphedro introduces the audience to, as he says, a truly miserable family: King Clarence (Jim Kitson) with his children Angelica (Julie Atherton), Josiana (Amanda Wilkin) and Dirry-Moir (Mark Anderson).

 

 

It is Dirry-Moir who stumbles upon the Trafalgar fair where he meets Grinpayne (Louis Maskell). Mutilated as a child Grinpayne’s face is half concealed, hiding a horrendous smile. Together with  the blind Dea (Sanne Den Besten), who Grinpayne once has saved from freezing to death, he was taken in by Ursus (Sean Kingsley). There he performs in Ursus’ show, displaying his own story. Showing it now to Dirry-Moir who is amazed by both Grinpayne and his smile. As Grinpayne rises to fame, he has only one goal: Finding the man who gave him his grin.

 

 

Louis Maskell’s portrayal as Grinpayne is excellent. Being sympathetic it’s easy for audiences to feel with Grinpayne through his struggles. A challenging role, Maskell has to speak and sing through Grinpayne’s mask and with his lower face hidden most of Grinpayne’s emotions have to be conveyed through eyes and eyebrows. Maskell excels in all of this. His movements often feel puppet-like as well, with limbs and fingers bending farther than they probably should. This is especially evident in “I Am The Freak Show” where Grinpayne shows the audience his face for the first time. A big compliment to Susanna Peretz for creating the Grinning Man’s grin with the make-up. 

Ursus, the adoptive father of both Grinpayne and Dea, is played by Sean Kingsley. Despite his kind appearance, he hides a dark secret. His love for his children, however, is genuine. This conflict of Ursus wanting to keep the truth hidden from both Grinpayne and Dea was conveyed convincingly by Kingsley. Kingsley’s voice has a unique feel to it, rough but with warmth at the same time, which is fitting the divided nature of the character.

 

 

On January 8 th, the role of Dea was played by Claire-Marie Hall. Kind and almost fragile, but still firm, Dea’s love for both Grinpayne and Ursus was evident in Hall’s acting. Her portrayal of the blind Dea was also very believable. Hall’s voice resonates perfectly with both Maskell’s and Kingsley’s.

Julian Bleach’s Barkilphedro is a rather uncharacteristically clown, acting as the narrator at times. Being detested by most characters and fitting the role of the villain to some extent, he is nonetheless one of the audience’s favourites. Addressing the audience and commenting on the play serves as his defining sources of humour. No words can describe Bleach’s erotic breakfast dance. It’s charm simply has to be experienced live.

 

 

It’s fun to watch Mark Anderson’s Dirry-Moir being a spectator of Grinpayne’s story along the audience. Taking his place in the orchestra pit, his reactions are almost distracting from the events on the stage. Dirry-Moir is not the only one of the siblings strangely attracted to Grinpayne. The sexual frustrated Josiana played by Amanda Wilkin develops an obsession after seeing Grinpayne. “Brand New World Of Feeling” not only depicts her seduction but also gives Wilkin the chance to show her singing talent. Julie Atherton as Angelica goes from a mute recluse to a firm Queen, almost as cruel as her father, to one of Grinpayne’s fans. The drastic character changes are believable portrayed by Atherton.

One of the most defining elements of the musical are its inclusion of puppetry designed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié. Depicting Grinpayne and Dea’s history through puppets adds to the fair atmosphere of the show, while also incorporating the backstory nicely into the plot. These puppets were only used during the retelling of their childhood. The shift from the puppets to the actors as Grinpayne and Dea got older was done in a very creative, almost magical and fluent way. Another highlight is the wolf Mojo, brought to life on stage by James Alexander-Taylor and Loren O’Dair. The movements feel so real that it’s easy to forget that it’s not a real animal on stage.

08.01.2018 - "Det Norske Teatret", Oslo (Norwegen)

THE BOOK OF MORMON

“The Book of Mormon” created by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone is definitely not a musical for the whole family. Violence, profanities and sexual themes are used throughout the show. Despite – or maybe because of the higher rating – the musical is a Broadway and West End hit and has now travelled to Norway. “The Book of Mormon” directed by Vidar Magnussen opened in Oslo’s Det Norske Teatret on September 2 nd.

The musical starts innocent enough as a light parody of Mormonism. In a short intro the history of the Book of Mormon is told with prophet Joseph Smith (Niklas Gundersen) entering the stage, sprouting the smile all Mormons have on their faces. At the age of nineteen every Mormon is sent out in the world as a missionary for two years. The ambitious Elder Kevin Price (Frank Kjosås) is looking forward to that mission, praying to God to send him to his favourite place in the whole world: Orlando. Reality has something else in store for Price. Together with the less ambitious Elder Arnold Cunningham (Kristoffer Olsen) he must go to Uganda.

 

 

It all goes downhill from there. Both Mormons realise that Africa is not quite as it is depicted in “The Lion King”. In addition, the other Mormons who have arrived before Price and Cunningham didn’t manage to convert one villager to Mormonism. Price’s attempt doesn’t work any better. Hunger, aids and a murderous warlord (Markus Bailey) are part of daily life, making it difficult to convert the disinterested villagers. Price loses more and more faith in both himself and his religion. Only as Cunningham bonds with Nabulungi (Anette Amelia Hoff Larsen), the daughter of the village chief (Marvin Amoroso), the tide seems to turn.

Arrogance and selfishness are not qualities that make a sympathetic person. However, Frank Kjosås manages to portray Price as a character unable to hate. While he mostly cares about himself, he shows concern for the other Mormons and villagers as well. One can’t help but to like him and later pity him because of everything he is put through – even though it’s often played for laughs. At least in the beginning, Kjosås mostly wears the typical smile on his face. Price’s true emotions shine through that mask, Kjosås manages to express them through facial expressions alone.

 

 

Cunningham acts as the exact opposite to Price. Having never read the bible – being too boring as he states – he prefers to make things up to convert the villagers to Mormonism. His lies have a noble cause to them, as he tries to make the text more accessible to the villagers and wants to help them. Kristoffer Olsen’s Cunningham is loud and sometimes irritating, but at the same time a nice person. Olsen possesses great comedic talent. He uses both small and big gestures, changes in his voice as well as slapstick to create humour. His performance is never over the top. Even running gags as him getting Nabulungis name wrong – calling her John Bon Jovi or Nintendo among other names – or his habit of putting his hand in other people’s faces stay funny throughout the musical. “Mann Opp” (“Man Up”) in which Cunningham decides to help the villagers after Price abandons him is one of the examples of Olsen’s talent. Here he shows that he can sing in a much deep voice suited to the heavy metal theme of the song.

One of the biggest source of the humour comes from the interactions between Kjosås and Olsen. Their interactions in “Du og Eg (Men Stort Sett Eg)” (“You and Me (But Mostly Me)”) indicates their different personalities. Price puts himself above Cunningham, who in turn tries to get to the front as well, ending in a Titanic-esque pose on top of the airport stairs. The relationship between Price and Cunningham serves as the heart of the show. Their declaration of friendship near the end of the musical is one of the emotional highlights, showing how both characters have changed.

 

 

Anette Amelia Hoff Larsen portrays Nabulungi as a strong girl that has endured much in her life, but who is still a little bit naïve. Her hope for a better life is fuelled by Cunningham’s stories of Salt Lake City. In “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” she expresses this dream, believing Cunningham will bring her to this perfect place. Hoff Larsen’s relationship with Olsen’s Cunningham is both funny and sweet. This is best expressed in “Døype Deg” (“Baptize Me”) in which Cunningham baptizes Nabulungi in a way that could stand for something else.

Playing the warlord, Markus Bailey acts as the villain of the show. His portrayal ranges from frightening to hilarious. Sometimes even both at the same time as his dance in “Mann Opp” proves, performing naked with machine guns in his hands. Bailey shows that he has a great voice, singing Lucifer in Price’s nightmare about hell in “Skikk’leg Skikk’leg Skummlet” (“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”). His gigantic costume in this song resembling a red evil minion is one example of the great costumes by Ingrid Nylander – another worthy mention is a nightmarish, bloodstained Donald Duck appearing in the same song.

 

 

While a lot of jokes are obscene, offensive or a mix of both, the musical uses simpler and more innocent humour as well. (Facial) expressions from the ensemble often make a scene funnier. This starts in the opening “Hallo” (“Hello”) in which the Mormons try to promote their religion by ringing doorbells and grinning from one ear to the other. It’s amazing how long they all can keep up this grimace. Another example is “Skru Det Av” (“Turn It Off”), where the typical smile is explained as a Mormon coping mechanism. Instead of giving in to negative or even forbidden emotions the Mormons just “turn them off” and start smiling. On December 31 st, the song is led by Preben Hodneland as Elder McKinley – a role that is shared with Jonas Fuglevik Urstad. McKinley tries to keep his own sexuality repressed. He often fails as his feelings for Price couldn’t be more obvious, much to Price’s confusion.

Despite the satirical tone, there is no ill-will towards the musical from real Mormons. On the contrary, they use the success of the musical for promotion. With the slogan “The book is always better” they are giving away copies of the original Book of Mormon in front of Det Norske Teatret. Some even watched the show themselves, as one Mormon asked about one’s favourite song and stating his.

 

 

With all its offensive jokes, the Norwegian production miraculously manages to never go too far that one has to feel bad about oneself laughing along. Judging from the reactions from the audience and a lot of sold out performances “The Book of Mormon” is an enormous success in Norway too. Well deserved, since the whole cast – with special mention to the perfect duo Kjosås and Olsen – is worth experiencing live.

The Book of Mormon” playing at Det Norske Teatret in Oslo until December 30 th 2018!

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: "Det Norske Teatret"

 

 

14.12.2017 - Kopenhagen (Dänemark)

Interview with DILUCKSHAN JEYARATNAM
Moses in "The Prince of Egypt"

“The Prince of Egypt” based on the 1998 DreamWorks movie had its world premiere in Silicon Valley on October 6 th 2017 and will now be transferred to Denmark where it will open in Fredericia on April 6 th 2018. Having just finished his musical theatre program this June Diluckshan Jeyaratnam plays the lead character Moses in both productions and was kind enough to meet up to discuss working on this amazing project.

First of all, how did you get into acting?
I actually came into acting very late. I played music and sang since I was a little child, but it wasn’t until high school that I first played and saw musicals. I was totally blown away by all this amazing stuff that can happen on stage. Even then I didn’t think that I’d do it professionally. Instead, I took a degree in multimedia design. When I finished my degree, finding jobs wasn’t easy and I realised that even if I got a job as a multimedia designer I wouldn’t be happy. Because that’s not what I’m passionate about. What I’m really passionate about is music together with theatre and musicals. I applied for the musical theatre program in Fredericia and luckily I got accepted. Ever since then I have only pursued this career. It’s the only thing that really makes me happy.

 

 

Even though you have only just finished your theatre program, you’ve already starred in Fredericia’s acclaimed production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as Clopin and now play Moses in the world premiere of “The Prince of Egypt”. How did you obtain the role of Moses?
It was the artistic director of Fredericia Teater Søren Møller who mentioned that they were going to do a show. At first, he didn’t tell me which show or role it was, only that it’s a big show and he thought I would be a good fit for one of the roles. Later on, I found out it was “The Prince of Egypt” and it was Moses he wanted me to audition for. Almost a week later, we had a video audition, where Stephen Schwartz and Scott Schwartz were on the other side and it was an amazing experience. When I finished the audition Søren asked me if I could stay for ten minutes. I waited, then he came through the door and said: “Well, you got it”. I literally got the role on the same day.

That’s amazing! Have you seen the DreamWorks movie before?
Yes, I watched it when I was a kid and I loved it. With “Hunchback” it’s still to this day one of my favourite animated movies. And I love it even more now, because I understand the adult themes better.

 

 

What would you say were the biggest challenges with the role of Moses?
The biggest challenge was that Moses is a person that everyone knows and has their own picture of how he is and should be. That made me question if I was the right one to do this. But when we started rehearsing I realised that I actually have to base him on myself and on my own values, because a lot of Moses’ beliefs and values are the same as mine. Also, our director Scott Schwartz and I wanted Moses to be more human than a heroic prince. We wanted him to be relatable. To do that was definitely one of the challenges, but to work with that was also one of the best things.

For the premiere in Silicon Valley you were in the US for two months. How did it feel to work and rehearse there?
I was actually nervous in the beginning, because I’ve never worked in the US before. I wasn’t sure how it will be different from Denmark and what the people will be like. The thing about theatre is that it’s about people and the chemistry on stage. But it was amazing. Everybody I’ve worked with was so sweet and welcoming. We were all really grateful to get the chance to be the first ones in the world to do this. It was an intense period. Our rehearsal period was about three and a half weeks before the previews and premiere. But it was what I hoped it to be and, actually, more than that. I really miss all of them. They are like my original “Prince of Egypt” family and, hopefully, I will see them again soon.

 

 

Speaking of the premiere; how was that?
It was amazing. We were nervous, because this was the very first time anyone in the world was going to see this. But the reaction was amazing. I talked with some audience members and they loved it. People came to me and thanked me for bringing this role to life. There were a lot of Jewish people that have grown up with Moses and this story and it was really touching when they told me I was perfect as Moses. 

After this premiere “The Prince of Egypt” now comes to Denmark. What are you most looking forward to work on in the Danish production?
I am really looking forward to see how it’s going to be different. I know it’s going to be bigger in Fredericia. Fredericia Teater is known for doing technically advanced stuff. I’m sure they are going to make the musical even more spectacular. And I’m really looking forward to see how the audience in Denmark will react to the show compared to the US. Also, I am excited to do it in Danish.

In Fredericia there will be both be performances in English and Danish. Do you think it will be a challenge to switch between those two languages?
We haven’t got the Danish script yet, rehearsals start at the beginning of February, so we will get the Danish script a few weeks before then. I’m comfortable with both languages, but the fact that we have to switch is definitely a big challenge. That’s why I’m happy that I got to do the English version so many times that I have memorized it. It’s not like I have to learn two completely new things at once. I’m happy for that. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but I am certain we can do it.

 

 

What would you say is the main reason why people should see this production in Fredericia?
I think people should definitely see it because of the story more than anything. It’s the exact beautiful story from the film and the musical goes even deeper in some stuff. For instance, it really focuses on the relationship between the two brothers Moses and Ramses. That makes it even sadder when they become enemies later on. We have more time to really show the bond between them and also between Moses and both his adopted and real family. In addition, People should see this production, because of the choreography. Choreographer Sean Cheesman did an amazing job in the US and now works on this production. We used the human body to show waves and plagues for example, so I think that the body movement together with the technical things will really make the musical look spectacular. People will definitely see a beautiful show.

You still have some time until rehearsals start again. Do you have any plans you want to share?
Sure, I am planning a few small things. An intimate concert I have been doing with a team of mine here in Fredericia and a concert in London this December. Otherwise I am honestly just going to relax and be with my family, since this is basically the first time since June I’ve had a vacation.

Thank you very much for the interview and best of luck for the concerts and “The Prince of Egypt”

© Interview: Lisa A. Murauer, © Fotos: Kevin Berne

2016.10.25 - Philadelphia - © Jordan August

 

 

14.12.2017 - England (London)

The Legend of Zelda - Symphony of the Goddesses
Live in Concert

1986 marked the birth of “The Legend of Zelda” when the first game was realised. Over 30 years later, the series has evolved into one of Nintendo’s most successful titles with 19 games released so far – not counting remakes or spin offs. Apart from the classical storyline – a fight between good and evil – and the ever-evolving gameplay mechanics this huge success of the series can undoubtedly be explained by the beautiful music composed by Koji Kondo. Along with the games the soundtrack has changed and improved, but the iconic theme is still the same as it was back in 1986. It’s fitting that this concert “The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddesses” begins with exactly that theme in their “Overture (2017)”.

 

 

Hearing a live orchestra is always an impressive experience by itself and “The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddesses” takes the audience on a journey. A journey through the rich soundtrack, reliving iconic moments from the games. This concert tour was created after the huge success of three concerts celebrating the 25 th anniversary of “The Legend of Zelda”. As with the anniversary concerts this tour is very successful as well, being presented in one of London’s major venues, the Eventim Apollo on the 21 st of November.

 

 

It’s not hard to see why the demand to experience this music live is so high. The soundtrack differs from game to game, capturing the mood of the respective story, characters and settings while still sharing a unique vibe, which makes them feel like they belong to the “Zelda” franchise. Upon hearing, players are instantly transported back when first experiencing the games. With music ranging from harp soli to orchestral tracks, there is something for everyone to enjoy – even if they have never played the games themselves.

 

 

The concert is designed as a five-movement symphony, changing between single music-titles and movements from specific games. Featuring both older and newer entries, the concert tells their stories through the selected musical pieces. Starting with the main theme, the music shifts to “Dragon Roost Island” from “The Wind Waker”. This playful melody transports the audience to an island inhabited by a human-bird species and the dragon living on top of the mountain. This theme is followed by a medley of “Majora’s Mask”, one of the game’s darker entries dealing with the impending destruction of a town by a falling moon. This dark atmosphere is perfectly illustrated by the music presented, getting gradually more unsettling as time runs out. The next medleys feature newer entries, namely “A Link Between Worlds” and “Breath of the Wild”. Upon hearing the peaceful music of “Breath of the Wild” the audience is instantly taken into the game’s vast open world.

 

 

While the game clips shown on the screen above the orchestra help with illustrating the stories being told, the live music always takes the centre of attention. Hearing the orchestra conducted by Giacomo Loprieno and the choir is truly a marvellous experience. With Loprieno’s teasing way of getting the audience to applaud louder and the playfulness the orchestra members present their musical instruments during the curtain call, it can be seen how much fun everybody had on that evening.

The cutscenes are not the only things shown on the screen. Messages from “The Legend of Zelda” creator Shigeru Miyamoto, producer and director Eiji Aonuma and musical director Koji Kondo offer a deeper insight into the creation of the games and the music.

 

 

The next part of the concert is a symphony starting with “Prelude – The creation of Hyrule”, telling how Hyrule – the setting of most games – was formed by the three goddesses that give the concert its respective name. This is followed by “Movement I – Skyward Sword” with themes ranging from that game’s main orchestral theme “Ballad of the Goddess” to other calmer themes, the theme of supporting character Fi for example. The first act closes with “Movement II – Ocarina of Time” – reliving the story through the music of the arguably most ground-breaking game in the series serves as a worthy finale before the intermission.

Act two opens with “Intermezzo – Temple of Time”, which evokes the atmosphere of a religious shrine. This choral piece is the one where the choir can truly shine. The next suite “Movement III – The Wind Waker” takes the audience on a journey over the vast ocean with music like “The great Sea” as well as reliving the story with “Aryll’s Theme” – Aryll being the sister of protagonist Link that gets captured – and its gloomy reprise, played upon finding her again in her dungeon.

The following “Movement IV – Twilight Princess” features more choral numbers, like the “Title Theme” or “Spirit’s Lament” and the orchestral “Hyrule Field”.

Movement V – Time of the Falling Rain” is made up from music from “A Link to the Past” the first game to feature themes like “Zelda’s Lullaby” or “Hyrule Castle” which have become iconic soundtracks of the series.

 

 

Despite its name the “Finale” is not the end of the concert. As a special bonus “Ballad of the Wind Fish” from “Link’s Awakening” and another rendition of “Breath of the Wild” make the true ending of the concert, reliving music from an older title and the newest addition to the franchise.

Loud cheers and applauding from the audience gave the concert its deserved ending. A few people even dressed up as characters from the series and quite a lot were humming tunes when leaving the theatre building. It’s amazing to see how many are touched by the games and their music, proving that the franchise is still thriving after three decades.

© Kritik: Lisa A. Murauer

 

 

14.12.2017 - Kopenhagen (Dänemark)

Interview with
MADS M. NIELSEN
as Director of ELF - The Musical

Mads M. Nielsen being famous in Denmark both as an actor and a director truly had a busy schedule this year – acting as Frollo in Fredericia’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, directing the newly written musical “(B)Romance” and the adaptation of Lena Kaaberbøl’s first book in the famous “Vildheks” (“Wildwitch”) series to name just a few of his projects. Despite that tight schedule, Mads still found time for an interview discussing his latest project – the Danish adaptation of “ELF – The Musical”, which opened in Tivolis Koncertsal on the 23 rd of November – as well as giving a tour around Tivoli. I couldn’t be more grateful for that and want to thank him very much.

How has it been working as a director on “ELF – The Musical”?
It’s been amazing. It has been very hard, because it’s a big show. And we’re behind – we’re always behind – but this also helps with making the right decisions in such a short time. I can’t change my mind. When somebody suggests a different way of doing something to save time I either have to let go of the original plan or stick to it and make it work somehow. So, you have to choose your battles. You have to kill your darlings, but some darlings you have to save.

Since the movie is so well known and popular, was it difficult to transport it to the stage?
No, I don’t think that was difficult. Actually, I think the musical is even better than the movie. The jokes often work better on stage. It’s hard to have grown-up stuff in a kid’s movie, but in the theatre you have more levels. There is one level for the kids and another one for the grown-ups. Also, you can’t stop theatre in the middle of the performance and rewind. It’s ongoing. You can’t go back and ask yourself: “Is that character allowed to say that?”  

So, the musical differs from the movie?
We have rewritten it, so that it takes place in Denmark. Instead of Manhattan it’s set in Copenhagen and we changed Central Park into Tivoli. We have also incorporated H.C. Andersen into the story. It’s kind of a personal rendition.

What were the differences working as a director on “ELF” compared to your previous projects?
“Vildheks” was about making a new language, inventing a new way to tell a story through theatre, kind of like a music video. It was a show to get kids to be physical and the songs were used to start that movement. Compared to that, “ELF” is a really classical musical-comedy with a lot of dancing and spectacular numbers, but with a modern touch as well. “ELF” is also the biggest show I’ve ever done. So, the biggest challenge for me as the director has been to make everybody happy and to be there for everybody.

What is the main reason why people should see “ELF”?
“ELF” is supposed to get the whole family to laugh together. Maybe sometimes they’re laughing at something only dad gets or that only the smallest gets, but hopefully they experience this feeling of being together. To go to this theatre here in Tivoli – which is a magical place in itself – and to have a unifying experience.

Tivoli really is a special place and with the Christmas atmosphere there couldn’t be a more perfect location for “ELF”. At the time of the interview, they were still in the middle of preparing Tivoli for the upcoming Christmas season, closed to the general public. Despite the constructions happening, the magical atmosphere could already be felt upon entering.

© Mads M.Nielsen

 

 

How far is it different working as a director compared to working as an actor?
As an actor, I always try to encourage everything around me to be good. It’s easier for me to work good, when the show around me is good, as well. But if it comes down to it, I also can be less social and more egoistic. Because then my only job is to make me work. But when working as a director I have to be social. My job is to make everyone else work. And we get more production value when everybody in the production is happy. So, I have to think about everyone and take my time for them.

What advice would you give to someone – or maybe your younger self – who aspires to be a director?
Don’t. (laughs)
I think you really have to know, why you want to direct. If you want to direct, because you want to be in charge of everything, then you shouldn’t direct. The truth is, you are not in charge of everything. It is your job to make everybody in the different departments work together and to make everybody happy.

What is your reason for directing?
For me it’s to bring people together. To get them away from movies and their phones and bring them together in the theatre. 

Speaking of the theatre, upon entering the auditorium there were quite a lot of production workers rehearsing.

Even in your spare time, you’re all working?
Yeah, we have a tight production schedule. Everybody is working like maniacs in their breaks as well. It’s a full day today. I had a long meeting with the props designer and then a PR meeting, then four hours rehearsal with the choreographer, then a tech rehearsal for Santa’s sleigh, now I’m talking to you and then I’m going back having a run through. And then I’m doing lights tonight. It will be over by 3 o’clock tonight.

Is it different to work with a big or small stage when directing?
It’s of course a lot of fun working with the big stage, but also more challenging. When you’re doing a show like “(B)Romance” on the small stage underneath Det Ny Teater you can get into the eyes of the performers. You can’t do that here. But this set has a kind of romantic touch – kind of like the Golden Age musicals – to it, with big entrances and the stairs. You can do a lot of comedy there.

What would be the one project you would love to direct in the future?
“Dracula”. But I would also like to play Dracula, so that would be kind of a sticky situation.

You want to do a scarier show?
Yes, I’d love to. But I would also love to direct a Disney show, like “Mulan”. I think Thit [Aaberg who played main character Clara in “Vildheks”] would be perfect as Mulan. She has the right energy and confidence for the role. I’d love to do “Mulan” with her.

Have you anything specific planned after your work on “ELF” is finished?
No, not really. Maybe get back to acting a little bit. I think the next challenge for me is to do some theatre again. But let’s see. At the moment, my focus is to get “ELF” as good as possible.

Thank you again for this interview and this unique tour around Tivoli, Mads, and best of luck for all your future projects!

“ELF – The Musical” opened on the 23 rd of November and you can read the review already on our website. See the musical now in Tivolis Koncertsal in Copenhagen until the 26 th of December!

© Interview: Lisa A. Murauer

Foto © Tivoli PR

 

 

25.11.2017 - Kopenhagen (Dänemark)

ELF - The Musical

Christmas is saved!

Even though there is still one month to go, Christmas has officially come to Copenhagen with “Elf – the Musical”. Humour for the whole family, catchy songs bound to get stuck in your head and a heart-warming story with hilarious and interesting characters – this show has it all and brings out the child in the adults and the Christmas spirit into the heart of everyone. Performed in Tivolis Koncertsal in the heart of Tivoli no other setting could be more perfect for this festive musical. Christmas lights, the smell of cinnamon, Danish æbleskiver and gløgg, the whole atmosphere of Tivoli already puts the audience in the right mood before entering the enormous theatre.

Foto © Annett Ahrends

 

 

Based on the hit movie starring Will Ferrell, “Elf – the Musical” directed by Mads M. Nielsen is rewritten with the Danish audience in mind. The story told by Santa Claus himself follows Brormand. Brormand, despite being human, was raised by Santa and his elves in Greenland, after landing there by accident, believing himself to be an elf, too. When he discovers his true heritage, Brormand sets out to find his real father and travels to Copenhagen. There are just two problems: Brormand’s father Verner Holt doesn’t know about Brormand’s existence and, what is even worse, he is on the naughty list for not believing in Santa anymore. 

With the changed setting from New York to Denmark the story gets a lot more personal. Especially for the younger audiences this rewrite makes the story more relatable as the characters visit places they have been to – such as Tivoli itself. There are a lot of references and jokes about Danish culture, even H.C. Andersen is featured in the story in a clever rewrite of an essential scene of the movie that could not be realised on stage. Apart from incorporating Denmark the musical takes a modern take on the movie, as well. For example, Santa’s nice or naughty list is replaced by an iPad, and apparently Santa plays Angry Birds on it. 

Foto © Annett Ahrends

 

 

It’s an absolute joy watching Pelle Emil Hebsgaard as Brormand. He brings so much energy with him every moment he comes on stage. With his bright nature he lights up the room whenever he appears. His jokes are on point and he manages to get a laugh from the audience with ease. Noteworthy is “En rar superfar” (“World's Greatest Dad”), where Brormand sets out to find his dad in Copenhagen, which features an amazing set with cardboard figures of known Copenhagener sights and buildings like the Axel Towers. In addition, a hilarious giant rabbit gliding with Brormand over the stage gets a laugh from both young and old audiences. Both the set and the costume were designed by Astrid Lynge Ottosen. With all the humour there are still serious moments, which Hebsgaard portrays just as well. Seeing him abandoned by his real father is absolutely heart-breaking. When not being the centre of attention it’s still often hard not to focus on Hebsgaard. He’s always on his feet and makes the audience wonder what he is up to next. He truly brings this character to life and makes the audience relate to him with ease. 

Foto © Annett Ahrends

 

 

Christiane Schaumburg-Müller takes up the role of Julie who works in the Christmas isles and Brormand instantly falls in love with her. Being not easily impressed by Brormand’s advances Julie slowly warms up to him, a change which Schaumburg-Müller portrays perfectly. Whereas the romance felt quite rushed in the movie, both characters get fleshed out more and their interactions are made more believable. Schaumburg-Müller performing “Brormands Julesang” (“A Christmas Song”) with Hebsgaard shows their great chemistry and both actors can showcase their voices as well. It’s impossible to not still hear the song when leaving the theatre and hard not to hum along, too. 

Niels Ellegaard portrays Brormand’s father Verner Holt. In the beginning, Holt is only interested in his work, neglecting his family and doesn’t want to have anything to do with Brormand. Over the course of the story he accepts Brormand as his son little by little and realises that family is more important than his work. Ellegaard does a convincing job portraying his character’s transformation.

Foto © Miklos Szabo

 

 

Michael Holt – the little brother of Brormand – is played by either Julian Horta Meier Clausen, Mathias Aurdal Holmberg or Oliver Arndt De Thurah. At the premiere, the role was taken up by Julian Horta Meier Clausen. He can show his great voice and acting especially in “Tro på dig” (“I'll Believe in You”), and ”Den ægte julemand” (“There Is a Santa Claus”), where Michael starts to believe in Santa Claus for real again. These songs are both duets with Julie Steincke as Michael’s mother Mille Holt. Steincke portrays a kind and loving mother to both Michael and later to Brormand as well. This kindness doesn’t stop her from taking a stand against her husband when she tries to convince him to search for Brormand. 

Santa Claus is portrayed by Tommy Kenter who also plays Verner Holt’s fearsome boss Hr. Grønkjær. The two characters couldn’t be more different. Even though there sometimes is not much time between changing, Kenter gets into each role with ease.

Foto © Annett Ahrends

 

 

They are joined by Camilla Bendix as Holt’s secretary Kit, her idea for a Christmas story involving a human leg is bound to have the audience burst into laughter, and Mikkel Lomborg as the Magasin’s shop owner where Brormand briefly works at. His fast interactions with Brormand are one of the funniest moments in the show.  

With an enormous cast there is always something happening on stage. It’s worth focusing on the background during the musical numbers watching the interactions of the ensemble. A special mention here to Christian Lund and Søren Bech-Madsen who together with Camilla Bendix have the audience burst into laughter as they try to help Holt come up with a Christmas story by gesturing wildly. The whole ensemble portrays a vast area of different characters, bringing something unique to every one of them.

Foto © Annett Ahrends

 

 

The scenography features lots of stairs on the big stage, which often get used for humorous purposes. The bright, colourful lights – reminding of festive decorations – on the stairs’ edges illustrate a Christmas atmosphere. The highlight of the used props has to be Santa’s sleigh flying of the stage in the grand finale. The audience was up on their feet applauding for the final curtain call at the end of the premiere on November 23 rd

“Elf – the Musical” is the show to get ones Christmas spirits high. It’s a feel-good musical for the whole family to come together. With jokes for everybody to laugh at, there couldn’t be a better way to pass the time until Christmas. This sense of togetherness, being in company with one’s loved ones and just having a good time with them, is what Christmas is truly about. So, until then everybody should experience the magic of both Tivoli and “Elf – the Musical.”

 © Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer

 

 

24.11.2017 - Wales Millenium Centre (Wales)

TIGER BAY - The Musical

The new Welsh musical „Tiger Bay The Musical“, directed by Melly Still and co-director Max Barton, had its world premiere just on the 13 th of November in the Wales Millennium Centre. With the script written by South African author Michael Williams whose ancestors are from Wales and music by Welsh composer Daf James the musical couldn’t be more connected to the Welsh culture. In addition, many of the cast members are Welsh, as well. 

 

 

The musical takes place in the name giving Tiger Bay, the dockland area nearest to Cardiff, in the early 1900s. Tension is high as both immigrants from all over the world and the local “Donkeymen”, the workers who pushed the carts of coal, often live in extreme poverty. Themba (Dom Hartley-Harris) comes to Cardiff after having lost his wife and son. As he starts to work as a “Donkeyman” he meets young Ianto (shared by Louise Harvey and Ruby Llewelyn), an orphan who leads a gang of orphaned boys in the bay. Ianto recently stole something from the Third Marquess of Bute (John Owen-Jones) and when Themba protects Ianto from his cruel boss O’Rourke (Ian Virgo), an unlikely friendship begins. Meanwhile Rowena (Vikki Bebb) struggles with her given role in society along with the decision if she should marry O’Rourke, not knowing that he has mistress Klondike (Busisiwe Ngejane) on the side. And as it turns out this affair is not the only thing O’Rourke tries to hide. There are far darker secrets in his past, which connects him directly to Themba. 

John Owen-Jones as Bute gives a convincing performance, conveying the despair of Bute about losing his wife and not knowing where his son is. The soft melody sung by John Owen-Jones in Welsh in the opening is hauntingly stunning. His solo “Mary”, where Bute mourns his wife and “Shadowland” are just as beautiful. Especially “Shadowland”, which is performed by most of the main characters, is bound to get stuck in one’s head. 

 

 

While Bute can’t let go of his past, Themba, who is in a similar position, tries to leave his past behind and begin a new life. Dom Hartley-Harris’s portrayal of Themba’s struggle to let go and start anew and the bond with Ianto makes the audience easily sympathise with him. When his past catches up in “This is the Man” the struggle becomes a different one as Themba’s more merciless side comes through. Dom Hartley-Harris also shares the nostalgic duet “Taste of Home” with Vikki Bebb as Rowena. Their voices sound great together and one really sees the home they both describe in this song. 

Rowena goes from a woman not knowing if she should accept her role in society to a strong minded individual, standing up for her own and other’s rights. “Who I am” shows her change perfectly, Vikki Bebb rightfully earns a long applause after this performance. 

Acting as the antagonist, Noel Sullivan gives a convincing performance as O’Rourke judging from the booing, which he receives from the audience during the curtain call. Only out for his own profit O’Rourke doesn’t shy away from violence. Noel Sullivan possesses a great voice, which he can showcase in “Harbour Master of Your Heart”, which he sings with Rowena. This key and atmosphere change in this song is also amazingly done, as the light, romantic tone shifts into a darker one when Busisiwe Ngejane as mistress Klondike sings. 

 

 

The heart of the musical is Ianto, played by Ruby Llewelyn at this performance – evening on the 18 th of November. With a cheerful and witty attitude Ianto provides a lot of the humour of the show and steals himself easily into the heart of the audience and especially Ianto’s emotional bond with both Themba and Bute is heart-warming. By the end of the musical the audience gets to see how many characters of the musical connect to Ianto in their own, different ways, which creates one of the most beautiful and moving moments of the evening. It’s clear that Ruby Llewelyn is a rising star and possesses an immense talent. “My Name is John”, where O’Rourke forces Ianto to convince Bute of being his lost son, is the song where she truly shines, giving her the opportunity to switch between a range of emotions at a moment’s notice, which she does with ease. 

 

 

The musical features a large talented ensemble. Special mention deserve Suzanne Packer as the kind local pub owner Marisha, Rhidian Marc who can show his amazing voice as both Rowena’s firm boss Mr. Locke and the cruel First Mate who takes pleasure in punishing the orphan boys, Lee Dillon-Stuart as “Donkeyman” Gavin and bay resident Bogdan among other ensemble roles and manages to give each of these roles a distinct personality, and, of course, all the kids playing the orphaned gang. Not only is there always something happening on the stage, there are moments in the show where the auditorium becomes involved in the performance, as well. For example when the “Donkeymen” come in through the auditorium entrances handing out leaflets that fall from the ceiling and march on the stage. 

 

 

While this story is fictional, it draws upon real events and characters. Both Bute and Leonora Piper (Liz May Brice), a spirit medium supposed to help Bute in finding his lost son, really existed. These connections to reality make the story much more powerful. The inclusion of not only Welsh but also other languages, for example Zulu as spoken by Themba, illustrate the multicultural setting of Tiger Bay. Though the musical takes place in the past, a lot of issues addressed are highly relevant today. Without wanting to give too much away, while the ending is not a completely happy one, the main theme of the show is about a sense of community. 

At the end of the evening the cast rightfully earned their standing ovation for their performance. “Tiger Bay” proves that sometimes the best stories are the ones found right at our doorsteps. Despite being so deeply connected to Cardiff’s history, there is a lot in this musical for audiences from literally all over the world to relate to.

© Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer
© Fotos: Polly Thomas

 

 

20.11.2017 - Kopenhagen (Dänemark)

Annie Get Your Gun

The Danish production of “Annie Get Your Gun” directed by Daniel Bohr already sets the tone of the musical with the grand opening “Der’ intet, der slår showbusiness” (“There's No Business Like Show Business”). All cast members perform together on the bright and opulent stage, creating a showbiz feeling from the very first moment on. 

The musical is loosely based on the remarkable lives of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler. It tells the story of farm girl Annie who becomes part of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show company after winning against former Wild West show star Frank Butler in a shooting contest. Annie is instantly smitten by Frank and the two become a successful duo in the company. Annie gains popularity and even overshadows Frank, who in turn leaves Annie and the company for good. As Annie becomes the first female show star she has to decide what’s more important to her. Her career or her love for Frank?

 

 

Maria Lucia Heiberg Rosenberg takes on the lead role of Annie Oakley. She perfectly depicts both Annie’s confidence – especially in her shooting abilities – and her nervousness and romantic feelings concerning Frank Butler. In the beginning, Annie is more of a tomboy, speaking in slang and wearing “unfeminine” clothes. However, the more time she spends with the company – and when she wants to impress Frank Butler – the more often she wears dresses and seems to care more about her appearance. One thing Annie never loses is her bright nature. It’s heart-warming to see her with her younger siblings (portrayed in this performance by Nikolaï Havrehed, Julie Vangaa Knudsen, Victoria Kristiane Bech, Thora Marie Lind Wilhardt) and with Chief Sitting Bull (Asger Reher) who becomes a father to Annie and even tries – in his way – to help Annie get back with Frank.

 

 

The role of Frank Butler, which is normally played by Carsten Svendsen, was performed by Jesper Paasch on this evening – November 10 th. Paasch did an amazing job portraying Butler as a confident and quite arrogant individual. He struts around in a manner comparable to a peacock, especially when he shows off his skills. Being originally the lead in Buffalo Bill’s (Flemming Krøll) Wild West show he gets gradually more irritated by Annie’s success, which later overshadows his own. On the other side, it becomes evident that he truly cares about Annie. Maria Lucia and Jesper Paasch are fun to watch together and their great chemistry can especially be felt in “Hvad som helst du ka’ gør’“(“Anything You Can Do”), where the two try to outbid each other in pretty much everything, and in their heart-warming duet “De Si’r At Kærlighed Er Vidunderlig”(“They Say It’s Wonderful”).

 

 

Anne Suppli as Frank Butler’s assistant and former lover Dolly Tate acts as a sort of rival to Annie. She is dismissive of both the unladylike Annie and the romance between her sister Winnie and Tommy, whom she dislikes, because he is part Native American. Like (most of) the rest of the cast Dolly gets her happy ending and ends up with Charlie Devenport (Kim Hammelsvang).

The bright scenography was done by Paul Farnsworth (who also did the costumes). The puppets used range from farm animal to the bigger horse and the absolutely huge figure of Queen Victoria or others used during Annie’s tour through Europe to represent the different nationalities in a funny way. There are many ideas that help to illustrate the showbiz feeling. One highlight were the puppets used in the ballroom scene where Annie and Frank meet up again after Annie’s European tour. The ensemble dances with them – the puppets are all differently dressed, as well – and later interacts with them during “Elsker du en, mit håb“(“Who Do You Love, I Hope”) sung by the second love pair Tommy (Mikkel Moltke Hvilsom) and Winnie (Maria Corydon).

 

 

Seats on stage offered a special opportunity to get closer to what’s happening on stage, too. And while there might be some parts which can be seen better from the auditorium, other things are specifically performed for the stage audience, as well.

Since the musical was written in the 1940s, the story sometimes seems a little cliché. While a woman protagonist and show star with kind of masculine character traits was at that time surely very innovative, there are some plot points that – when seen from a modern perspective – feel a little outdated. Nevertheless, the emotions portrayed convincingly by the whole cast, their great performance when singing and acting, the fresh ideas – especially when scenography is concerned – and the often well-known and catchy songs make “Annie Get Your Gun” a feel-good musical, which promises and delivers lots of fun. There were plenty of people clapping along to the songs and the evening was closed with a standing ovation.

© Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer
© Fotos: Miklos Szabo / Titelbild: Nils Ditlev

 

 

03.11.2017 - "The Drayton Arms Theatre", London (England)

When-Midnight-Strikes

“When Midnight Strikes” – with the story by Kevin Hammonds and music by Charles Miller – takes the audience to New York back in 1999. Jennifer (Elizabeth Chadwick) and Christopher (Simon Burr) host a party at their apartment to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It’s the end of a millennium and along with new resolutions come new beginnings. The party gets more complicated as Jennifer has reasons to suspect that Christopher is not faithful and that the woman in question is at the party herself...

 

 

It’s a small stage on the first floor of “The Drayton Arms Theatre”. The scenery doesn’t change, it depicts a New York apartment with a balcony in the back. This smallness of the stage is a nice contrast to the large ensemble. It often fills the whole stage when all characters appear together, truly giving the feeling of a crowded party. Producers Elizabeth Chadwick and Marc Kelly – the latter acts as the director as well – have found the perfect venue to tell this story.

 

 

There is always something happening on stage. While some characters are performing, it’s interesting to see what the others are doing. Even when they are not the centre of attention, their personalities and the relationships to each other shine through. An example is “Shut up”, where each character, while mingling with the other guests, expresses their annoyances with their speaking partner. These interactions add a lot of humour to the show, other highlights are “Party Conversation” sung by the rather awkward Edward (Andrew Truluck) and uninvited neighbour Muriel (Victoria Waddington) finally acting on their feelings for each other and “We’re here” featuring the arrival of Jennifer’s sister Twyla (Georgina Nicholas) and her best friend Bradley (Marc Kelly). There are touching moments as well, as, for example, “I never learned to type” by party hostess Josephina (Ellie Nunn), who is lamenting her dream to become an actress. 

 

 

Invited party guests – including Christopher’s brother Greg (James Dangerfield) or friends Nicole (Stephanie Lysé) and Rachel (Marcia Sommerford) – as well as unexpected guests – as Alex (Matthew Boyd) brought along, because he has nowhere else to go – all share their own story throughout the performance. Each member of the cast manages to portray a complex character. Be it Christopher’s best friend Zoe (Victoria George) using her shallowness to hide her true feelings for Christopher, or Twyla seemingly heartbroken, because her boyfriend couldn’t make it to the party, everybody has hidden depths and sometimes hidden secrets, too. Unfortunately, this large ensemble means that it is not possible for the audience to get to know all characters as much as one would hope. There simply isn’t enough time in the musical to give everybody the attention they would deserve.

Nonetheless, humour, music fitting the story’s atmosphere, interesting character interactions and an unexpected ending make this – rarely performed – musical a memorable experience outside the main West End shows.

© Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer
© Fotos: Thomas Scurr

 

 

20.10.2017 - "The Vaults Theatre", London (England)

Join the Tribe and celebrate the 50th anniversery year of  HAIR

In London ist es seit dem 11. Oktober wieder haarig. Zum 50-jährigen Jubiläum des Musicals „Hair“ unternehmen Zuschauer eine wahrhafte Zeitreise in die 60er Jahre, wenn sie durch die Tore des Theaters „The Vaults“ schreiten. In einem intimen Rahmen wird das Publikum eingeladen, ein Teil des Tribes zu werden. Auch wenn 50 Jahre vergangen sind, „Hair“ könnte kaum aktueller sein, wie diese Produktion zeigt.

Stepping through the gates of „The Vaults Theatre“ feels like travelling back in time. Back into the 60s where the musical “Hair” takes place. “Hair” changed the musical theatre forever, showing what can be put on stage, breaking down barriers and fighting against both racism and discrimination fifty years ago. The opening of this production with speeches from Donald Trump that transform into speeches about the Vietnam War makes one realise that all these issues are still relevant today.

 

 

“’Hair’ is a reminder that while we might think we have come so far – and in a way we have – that maybe we haven’t changed as much as we would have liked and we should keep fighting”, says Koryann Stevens, who plays Mary.

 “There is a message”, director Jonathan O’Boyle says. “About diversity, equality, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, about nuclear war and peace. That’s all still really present. Look at America today and what they’re going through with violence and with the way their current president is operating. The show is really permanent and it’s quite sad that fifty years on those issues haven’t been resolved.”

At the same time “Hair” is not only a grim reminder of what hasn’t changed, but also about having a good time. Natalie Green, who plays Cassie, says: “If you go out feeling miserable, then something is wrong with you.”

 

 

It is hard to summarise what the musical is about. “Hair” is about a hippie tribe and each tribe member brings their own story to the show, while the Vietnam War constantly lurks in the background. Claude (Robert Metson) is pressured by his parents – played by members of the cast Daniel Bailey and Natalie Green – to enlist in the army and fight in the Vietnam War. The rest of the tribe tries to convince him not to give in to that pressure. Especially Claude’s best friend Berger (Andy Coxon) and Sheila (Laura Johnson) try to convince him to stay.

 

 

This fifty-year anniversary production is based on the critical acclaimed Manchester production which played at the “Hope Mill Theatre”, sharing the same director and many of the cast members.

“The cast from Manchester had a lot of input from the new people who brought their own ideas and creativity to the production. At the same time, the new members had a lot of security the existing cast members brought with them about how the show works”, says Jonathan O’Boyle about working with both new and old cast members. “The energy , which is really important to the show, they bring is extraordinary.”

 

 

This energy can especially be felt in the powerful “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last” which transforms into “Let The Sun Shine In”, a performance which is bound to give the audience goose bumps.

With its rich theatre history and many different productions all around the world, why should people come and see this production in particular?

“It is different”, says Liam Ross-Mills playing Woof – a character that loves both plants and Mick Jagger and has a memorable moment when he is being swung around in the American flag. “You wouldn’t have seen anything like it before.”

“It’s intense, funny, sad. It’s real life”, adds Natalie Green.

“This production of ‘Hair’ is unlike any show I have ever seen. It’s immersive, it works on the idea of a group of people coming together. I think it’s exciting, even for people that have never experienced theatre before”, says Robert Metson.

“Our main intention was to breathe a little bit of new life into it – not that it needs that, because it’s fantastic – but to reinvent it for a new and younger audience”, says Jonathan O’Boyle. “We really wanted to immerse the audience in the show, because the more we worked on “Hair” the more we realised that the show is for the audience. The audience is as much part of the show as the music or the characters or the story, so we wanted to include them, which I think we have achieved.”

The audience is the heart of this production and the audience participation makes every performance unique in its own way. “We were doing a show a couple of nights ago and about fifty people started singing “Good morning star shine” along with us and we were like: this is so cool. Everyone just knows the songs”, Liam Ross-Mills remembers.

 

 

With only about 200 seats in the auditorium “The Vaults” offers the right place for a truly intimate and personal performance. The actors are never far away, always ready to come into the audience. “From the get-go we are there with you, the audience walks in on stage and we come out in the audience. And no matter where you are, we find a way to get to you”, says Robert Metson.

They do find a way to get to you. Be it touching you or your hair, talking to you or reacting to you. One memorable moment is before and during the performance of the song “Hair”. Margaret Mead played by Patrick George introduces her husband Gilbert, who in that performance – the evening show on October 12 th – was a man from the audience sitting next to his girlfriend. During the song Margaret takes her place between the couple, constantly interacting with “Gilbert” and other members of the audience. This interaction made it quite hard – in a good way – to focus on the song, which is a fast, energetic number featuring an amazing choreography by William Whelton.

 

 

“If you come more than once, you would see a completely different show, depending on where you sat and because we are all going around, you can focus on different people who all tell a completely different story. It’s normal life. It’s watching people just be people and following their stories”, Kirsten Wright, who plays the naïve and sweet Crissy, says.

“We invite the audience in straight away”, says Liam Ross-Mills. “Right in the beginning we say: You are one of us.” Coming into the auditorium before the show starts, the whole cast is sitting in circle in the middle of the stage with their eyes closed, illustrating the broken barrier between audience and actors. The smell and the whole atmosphere makes the room feel like a different world and for the next two hours it becomes just that.

 

 

“Hair” really emphasizes the importance of every member of the cast. Everybody plays an essential part. This becomes apparent right at the start when the whole cast comes together in the opening song “Aquarius” sung by Shekinah McFarlane as Dionne. Even with a large ensemble, everybody manages to portray distinct characters that are memorable in their own way. Be it Adam Dawson as Jude, Abiola Efunshile as Tia, Jammy Kasongo as Hud or Jessie May as Jeannie.

When the audience fills the stage at the end of the show, dancing with the cast members, they truly become one with the tribe. “Our aim is to make the audience feel like part of the show as much as possible. That’s what’s really special about this show to me. The sense of community that we are all on this journey together and we are there as a group”, Robert Metson adds. This sense of community truly gives “Hair” its magic. That magic which puts one in a good mood, when leaving the theatre, still hearing the songs inside the head. As Natalie Green says about “Hair”: “If you go out feeling miserable, then something is wrong with you.”

Many thanks to Natalie Green, Koryann Stevens, Kirsten Wright, Liam Ross-Mills, Robert Metson and Jonathan O’Boyle for the insightful interviews.

Das Musical wird bis zum 13. Jänner 2018 aufgeführt. Wer also während dieser Zeit einen London-Tripp plant, sollte sich die Show nicht entgehen lassen.

Nähere Infos findest du unter: www.hair50.com

© Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer
© Fotos: Claire Bilyard

 

 

20.10.2017 - "Det Ny Teater", Kopenhagen (Dänemark)

(B)ROMANCE - The Musical (The Show)
A brand new Danish musical

The brand-new Danish musical „(B)Romance – en musical“ opened on October 14 th – following a four-year production process. The musical is presented on the small stage “OFF Det Ny” under “Det Ny Teater” in Copenhagen. “OFF Det Ny” was created by the producer of “(B)Romance” Kasper Beknes and the stage fits the intimate story perfectly. 

“(B)Romance” tells the story of Frederik (Morten Hemmingsen) and William (Johannes Nymark). Inseparable since childhood their friendship is put to the test when both men fall in love with Ellen (Selene Muñoz), who is caught in her love to both men. 

 

 

What sounds like a typical love-story is much more than that. Without wanting to give away too much, at its core, “(B)Romance” is not about the love-triangle, but about friendship.

The scenery, which is designed by Benjamin La Cour, is simple and keeps the focus on the cast. The three actors are what the show is about and nothing should – and nothing does – take the attention from them. Much is required of the cast – not only because they are constantly the focus of the show. Morten Hemmingsen and Johannes Nymark transform from old men into kids in front of the audience. Through the play they portray Frederik and William at different periods in their lives and neither masks, nor different costumes are being used. Hemmingsen and Nymark just use their bodies to depict these changes and different ages of their characters. Their acting alone is convincing enough to see two old men instead of these two young actors on stage. 

 

 

One highlight is definitely “Hvem er du” (“Who are you”), a dance-number performed by the old Frederik and William in the retirement home as they try to remember who the other person is. 

Hemmingsen and Nymark are the perfect pair. The close friendship between Frederik and William is clear to see right from the start. This makes it easy to laugh with them and later to suffer with them as their friendship begins to crumble.

Watching Hemmingsen and Nymark act together would make this musical worth to watch, but it is Selene Muñoz who makes “(B)Romance” truly stand out. She acts as the narrator and tells the story in a very distinct way. Other than Hemmingsen and Nymark, she never sings. Actually, she does not even say any word during the entire performance. The story and Ellen’s feelings are revealed through dancing and, interestingly, Ellen’s intentions often seem to be clearer and more open than those of the two men. Even when Muñoz doesn’t appear as Ellen on stage, Ellen’s presence can always be felt. This moving presentation of the story also helps those not fluent in Danish to understand what is happening, for dancing is a language with no spoken language barriers. Muñoz‘ depiction of Ellen gives the conflict between Frederik and William more credibility and thus makes it more powerful. She makes it easy to understand why both men are captivated by Ellen. 

 

 

Since the scenery doesn’t take the attention away from the main cast, the details concerning their costumes are much more apparent. Hemmingsen and Nymark both wear an almost identical grey and black suit, only that the colour scheme is reversed. This makes a nice contrast between the two men and to Selene Muñoz, who is the only one who changes costume. 

“(B)Romance” was written and composed by Mikkel Petterson and Christian Berg. Their songs are catchy and make it easy to hum along. Some melodies make one wonder if one hasn’t heard them before, as they seem sort of familiar and sometimes have an – in a good way – old-fashioned touch. At the same time, they also sound new and modern. 

 

 

To make the musical come to life they received help from Andreas Garfield who wrote the dialogue and director Mads M. Nielsen. They both put a lot of input into the story and their hard work can be seen when watching the performance.

The whole creative team made “(B)Romance” into the musical it is now. A truly special musical indeed, with a story that is not only told through music and dialogue, but also through dancing. Everything fits together and nothing plays a bigger part than the other. With humour and big emotions “(B)Romance” tells a story about love – be it love in friendship or romantic love – and forgiveness. It is forgiveness that the most moving moment in the show is about: The moment when Frederik and William find each other after all these years and finally make their peace with each other. To sum their story up, it makes sense to use words from the musical, “We are born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship we can, for a moment, create an illusion that we aren’t.”

“(B)Romance – en musical” can be seen in Copenhagen “OFF Det Ny” until November 2 nd. A wish remains that “(B)Romance” will live on beyond that date. The premiere was met with standing ovations and applause, so hopefully that wish will become reality.

© Bericht: Lisa A. Murauer
© Fotos: Det Ny Teater

 

 

28.09.2017 - "Gamle Scene" des Königlichen Theaters in Kopenhagen" (Dänemark)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

(Klokkeren Fra Notre Dame)

Never before has the musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” been produced in Scandinavia. Fredericia’s production called “Klokkeren fra Notre Dame” became an instant success after celebrating its premiere in Fredericia. On June 23 rd, the musical opened at The Royal Theatre’s “Gamle Scene” in Copenhagen, where it even got an extended run. Apart from obtaining raving reviews Fredericia’s production also received the price for “Best musical” at this year’s “Årets Reumert”, the annual Danish theatre awards.

 

 

The Story:
The story takes place in Paris at the end of the 15 th century. The hunchbacked Quasimodo lives in the towers of Notre Dame working as a bell ringer. His only human contact is his foster father, the archdeacon Claude Frollo, who advises Quasimodo to stay hidden in the church seemingly for his own protection. On the day of the Festival of the Fools – where the ostracised gypsies attend as well – Quasimodo decides to leave Notre Dame for the first time.
At the festival, he meets the gypsy dancer Esmeralda. Not only Quasimodo but also captain Phoebus and Frollo are captivated by her dance. Especially Frollo develops an unhealthy obsession with Esmeralda. After she turns him down, he sees no other way to free himself from his madness but to kill her – even if that means having to burn down the whole city.

 

 

The intention of this production was to take the story from the stage to the audience and to take the audience into the story no matter where the audience members would sit. For that reason, the scenography – designed beautifully by Benjamin La Cour who got a price for this work at “Årets Reumert” – is something special. A catwalk, which the actors even leave at times, leads into the auditorium. With the use of video projectors, one gets the feeling of being in Notre Dame itself and the changes of scenery – when it seems to move from the ground floor of the church to Quasimodo’s towers or the absolute glorious shift from “Heaven’s Light” to “Hellfire” – contribute to a unique theatrical experience.

 

 

One innovation allows a special interaction between the actors and the audience. Members of the audience could sit on the stage itself – either on the left or right side. Dark cloaks lie on these special seats, which were designed to resemble church pews. It is up to the audience if they want to wear these clothes. Wearing them truly made one part of the scenery itself, giving the impression to the rest of the audience to be a part of the ensemble. Even more so when these seats shift position so that one could look directly into the auditorium.

 

 

The view is restricted at times. However, being that close to the actors, receiving plenty of glances – and even jump scares – and having them sit right beside you is a special event. It is pretty shocking when the archdeacon himself takes his seat at the stage and starts laughing and even talking to members of the audiences. During the chorus it can be clearly heard how immensely talented every member of the ensemble is. When the singers are this close to you, every single voice can be heard separately and they all sound marvellous.

 

 

In contrast to the Disney movie the musical is quite dark. Nonetheless, there are plenty of moments to make the audience laugh. The scene where Frollo meets up with King Louis – “The Careful” – comes to mind. Given that Frollo wants to achieve Esmeralda’s arrest, one wouldn’t think that this scene would be as hilarious as it is, but the combination of Sebastian Harris as King Louis and Mads M. Nielsen as Frollo is priceless. Right at his introduction Harris manages to make the audience laugh, as he lets Frollo wait for a very long time. So long that Frollo, while being on his knees, looks at the audience, seemingly asking for help. Seeing the villain, who has just proved in the intense “Hellfire” scene to be dangerous, slipping on his knees to the king to finally get noticed, one can’t help but laugh at the shear absurdity.