Tag Archives: Rosie Glossop

Musical Review: Fashion Victim – The Musical! (The Cinema Museum, London)

Rosie Glossop (centre) as Mimi Steele. Photograph: Alex Carr.

Rosie Glossop (centre) as Mimi Steel. Photograph: Alex Carr.

Rating: ****

In a nutshell

It might stumble a little on the catwalk, but its wit, sense of fun, and fierce compere makes this an incredibly entertaining evening.

Overview

Fashion: dazzling, daring, and fickle. As it’s an industry so full of divas and drama it’s no surprise that it makes for a good subject for a musical. It’s no further surprise that, capitalising on this, Fashion Victim – The Musical! is full of as much pizzazz and punch as Naomi Campbell’s mobile.

After the success of the earlier Edinburgh Fringe version, writer Toby Rose has made alterations and accessorised Fashion Victim – The Musical! for a London debut, having interestingly resorted to crowdsourcing for the funds to build a custom catwalk and hire a suitable venue for the venture. Ending up in the little known but none the less stunning space of London’s The Cinema Museum, is the result more Prada than Primark?

Writing

Rose is no stranger to outrageous camp wit, especially being the founder of the Palm Dog Award: a prize for the best canine performance in film. Consequently, Rose’s writing is full of unabashed satire and vicious pokes that are aimed not only at the fashion industry but pop culture as a whole, meaning there are plenty of punch lines and gags to keep you chortling. Those less fashionably inclined might miss a few of the references, but nothing is really so obscure that it would go over too many people’s heads.

Therefore, it’s as shame the thrust of the story is as shallow as the industry it’s sending up. A thinly veiled and pedestrian cautionary tale, it doesn’t really offer anything deep or original. In fact, because of this Rose doesn’t quite manage to keep up the octane of the show as it sashays towards an all too predictable conclusion. But thankfully, its overall humour, production values, and cast makes up in bounds for what the plot lacks.

Songs

Cayelan Mendoza pens a score that has variety and energy, managing to capture the anarchic chic of the show. Admittedly, whilst there isn’t really anything you’ll come away humming, none of the songs feel third rate or uninspired. Indeed, if you pay close enough attention to the lyrics, there’s a definite intelligence and sharpness: the only thing that really fleshes out otherwise ordinary characters and story.

Production

Rose has managed to pull out all the stops in getting a top-notch creative team on board for Fashion Victim – The Musical!. Director Robert McWhir (also Artistic Director of the celebrated Landor Theatre) works incredibly well with TV choreographer Ryan Jenkins to fill the catwalk with colourful action and scintillating dance. But it’s great to see McWhir spend as much attention to bits that happen as asides and off the stage, giving the whole show a real sense of spontaneous cabaret which bolsters its sense of unbridled fun.

Richard Lambert’s lighting design also adds some unexpected nuance, particularly through his use of spotlight, paying a quiet homage to the venue, even if, on the surface of things, they seem a little juxtaposed.

James Wilkinson as Cedric Chevallier. Photograph: Alex Carr.

James Wilkinson as Cedric Chevallier. Photograph: Alex Carr.

Cast

As the vivacious and devious Mimi Steel, Rosie Glossop finds time within the production to wow the audience with the sheer power of her brilliant voice. Yet, it’s a shame that these are but small moments that allow her talent to shine as the writing of her character doesn’t make full use of her abilities. However, alongside our hero James Wilkinson as French male-model superstar Cedric Chevallier, they both bounce a keen sense of joyous pantomime against each other to great comic effect.

On Wilkinson’s part, again the superficiality of his character doesn’t allow a proper glimpse into any talent he may have. It’s also a little disappointing that he finds it difficult to project his singing voice in the lower range of his register, even though mic-ed up, meaning that his one big solo number is lost among the music. But when he’s singing higher in his range in some fab little duets with Glossop, and/or when he gets his shirt off (see picture), he is certainly forgiven.

Yet it’s really Carl Mullaney that really steals the show. As host, narrator, and compere for the evening, Mullaney is the real star at the helm, piloting the show at full steam ahead. Feeding off the audience’s energy and reactions as well as interjecting with a litter of marvellously knowing quips, it’s worth going to see Fashion Victim – The Musical! just for his company and entertainment alone.

Verdict

It’s hardly high theatre, but it’s wholly entertaining. It’s camp catwalk kitsch at its best, and if it’s a carefree and laugh-a-minute evening you’re after then you should be killing for a ticket for Fashion Victim – The Musical! 

Fashion Victim – The Musical! plays at The Cinema Museum, London, SE11 4TH, until 5 July 2014. Tickets are £10-£20. To book visit www.fashionvictimthemusical.com


Theatre Review: Best of Friends (Landor Theatre, London)

Aidan O'Neill as Mike Chariot. Photograph: Matt Cocklin LRPS

Aidan O’Neill as Mike Chariot. Photograph: Matt Cocklin LRPS

Rating: ***

Best of Friends was almost the new musical that never happened. Originally billed to go on at Arts Theatre last year as The Golden Voice, with a cast of 20+ and none other than Darren Day in the lead, the production crumbled due to fraud. However, where there’s a will there’s a way, and a year later it’s now up and running at the Landor Theatre, albeit as a much smaller show.

Jim (Nick Fogarty) and Mike (Aidan O’Neill) have started a band at their local youth club. But, lusting for fame and fortune, Mike abandons his musical partner to appear on TV talent show, “The Face & The Voice”. But success isn’t quite what Mike expects. 20 years on, he returns from obscurity to set up a music school, which indirectly reunites him with Jim. But Jim’s life has seen him plunge into London’s criminal underground. Is this a chance for Mike’s redemption or Jim’s revenge? And about the big secret his estranged ex-lover Natalie (Rosie Glossop) has kept from him?

Production

If you didn’t know that this was supposed to be a bigger off-West End show, you certainly wouldn’t have thought it as it doesn’t look at all out of place on the fringe. The set does well to turn the cosy space at the Landor into the grimy backstage of some forsaken gig-venue, with scruffy graffiti scribbled across the black back wall. A clutter of what seem like ordinary flight boxes are actually custom bits of flexible and mobile set pieces which enable director Robert McWhir to prevent the show from being static and visually bland, despite concessions being made by way of the set. Richard Lambert’s lighting design also adds surprising injections of colour and timbre despite the stage’s decidedly monochrome look.

There are some moments of the show that you can imagine working well as the all singing and dancing production it had originally planned to be. But McWhir, throughout, ensures that nothing actually feels reduced, missing, or removed.

However, Maximilien Spielbichler’s video designs, displayed on several computer screens scattered around the stage, seem to distract rather than add. This is especially true when a couple of the animations don’t loop as smoothly as they should, making them look cheaper than they probably are. In other places, the animated graphics have little impact on a scene; the number of screens not quite being able to make up for their lack of scale like those you see on real life TV talent shows. Because of this, these ultimately feel unnecessary and out of place, except for one well-placed reel of fake news broadcasts, which could probably been done just as well as fake radio broadcasts.

Nick Fogarty (left) and Aidan O'Neill (right). Photograph: Matt Cocklin LRPS

Nick Fogarty (left) and Aidan O’Neill (right). Photograph: Matt Cocklin LRPS

Music and Book

Fogarty has certainly penned some rather notable numbers in this musical. There are several songs that pack a punch, such as “Stay”, which Sarah Goggin uses as a vehicle to apex her already strong performance. However, there are other songs where you feel Fogarty doesn’t quite have as much heart in them compared to the others, and they end up feeling transient as the scenes they’re in.

Also, as first and foremost a musician, Fogarty certainly isn’t much of a book writer. The character dialogue is consistently clumsy and unconvincing, and the narrative suffers not only from uneven pacing, but a depth that’s as shallow and empty as the industry it’s trying to send up. However, the rivalry between Jim and Mike, and 19 year-old hangover of his relationship with Natalie, has enough intrigue and drama to stop it from being forgettable, even if it’s a story many may have seen before.

Cast

The decision to have Fogarty have a finger in yet another pie by playing the villain of the piece, is an ill-judged one. Whilst this may well be as a result of the cuts the show has had to make, it’s difficult to feel intimidated by someone who comes across more Dyck Van Dyke than Grant Mitchell. This robs the danger and urgency his character’s spite places our hero in, which could have really lifted the writing otherwise.

Thankfully the rest of the cast hold the show together well. But with the writing and dialogue not being top-notch, the cast struggle to shine through, though they clearly try hard to give volume to a flat text. Despite O’Neill’s competent and lovable performance as the lead, it’s the supporting ladies that steal the show. Glossop finds moments to showcase the power of her spectacular voice, whilst Goggin gives perhaps the most sweet and sincere performance of the entire cast.

Verdict

Even though not ground-breaking, as a whole, Best of Friends is solid enough to hold your attention and keep you more than entertained, due to enough head-bobbing and rock-steady songs and several star turns. It’s great to see that the tenacity of Fogarty and the creative team prevail despite all that has happened, paying off with this decent fringe musical. Yes, it could be, and might have been, much better. But that by no means means that this reduction should be dismissed because of this. Buckle in, and rock out.

Best of Friends plays at the Landor Theatre, London, SW9 9PH, until 10th May 2014. Tickets are £19. To book visit www.landortheatre.co.uk.