February 20, 2024

Best shows in London 2024: Six the Musical, ABBA Voyage, more

Calling all theater lovers! An evening at the theater has never felt so important. With the dark winter evenings feeling like they start at 4pm, and frigid temperatures getting colder and colder, nothing sounds better than cozying up in an auditorium and being immersed in an evening of music.

As a self-proclaimed slave of Sondheim, former performer and all-round theater fanatic, I and my colleagues at HELLO! are here to arm you with a brilliant list of shows and performances you need to see in London right now – and it’s not just in the West End.

Whether it’s an immersive experience like ABBA Voyage, a non-West End production Upstairs at the Gatehouse or our favorite ex-wives causing a storm in the Vaudeville, we’re here to rate London’s best performances so you never miss the latest productions.

Songs for a new world

(From left to right) Christopher Cameron, Eleanore Frances, Luke Walsh and Lizzy Parker in Songs for a New World

I have three words for you. Jason Robert Brown. If you didn’t see the name of the show and immediately bought tickets, I don’t know what to say.

The last time Songs For A New World came to London was in 2021 when it played at the London Palladium and now Quiet Good Theater has brought back the life-affirming song cycle for a four-week run Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

For those unfamiliar, the show follows four characters, Woman One, Woman, two, Man One and Man Two, who, over the course of the performance, entrust the audience and each other with their respective challenges.

Christopher Cameron as Man 2 in Songs for a New World, Upstairs at the Gate House
Christopher Cameron as Man 2 in Songs for a New World, Upstairs at the Gate House

Like the majority of Jason’s work it is exceptionally complex musically and incredibly taxing vocally, but the cast’s ability to not only shine as individuals but also find the perfect balance in ensemble numbers could not be denied, especially in Flying Home, the penultimate number. in Act II.

Particular solo highlights included Lizzy Parker’s unguarded rendition of I’m Not Afraid of Anything. The Flagmaker, performed by Eleanore Frances, was a distinctly heartbreaking song. Especially when set against the backdrop of the current state of the world, it didn’t bring tears to the eyes.

Luke Walsh's vocals were excellent© Clarissa Debenham, free film photography by Clariss
Luke Walsh as Man 1 in Songs for a New World, Upstairs at the Gate House

As for the boys, Luke Walsh’s performance as the energetic King of the World was certainly a highlight. His towering tenor vocals were impeccably contrasted by Christopher Cameron, whose vocal depth and unforgettable tone were beautifully captured in She Cries.

What I found most refreshing about the performance was the actor’s approach to the singing. Especially with Eleanore and Lizzy, the pair did not succumb to oversinging or simply belting on every occasion. They made what felt like appropriate choices across their range to hold back, mix excellently and ultimately sound true.

The life and color that exudes from the cast’s performances are the antithesis of the muted costumes and pedestrian decor. The only criticism I have of the production is that it deserves a West End location.

Producer Kai Wright said: “If the opportunity to work on Jason Robert Brown’s beautiful debut play wasn’t enough, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with a truly incredible talent.

“This show holds a very special place in my heart and I hope we have managed to create a little magic that touches other people in the same way it inspired us during the process of creating this production.”

Where: Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate

When: February 9 – March 3

Tickets: Songs for a new world

Review by: Isabelle Casey, reporter

SIX

A photo of the cast of SIX on stage © Dave Benett
The cast of SIX will definitely give you a boost!

Listen, I’ll tell you a story! I went to the press night for the new cast of SIX and this is what I thought.

The show has reached stratospheric levels of popularity, with each Queen cast on the show gaining its own cohort of super fans. Whenever there is a cast change, I can’t even imagine the pressure put on the newcomers to diversify their roles and put a different spin on the queen before them.

Cast-wise, the creative team mixed up a lot of things while still staying true to the recognizable traits of the characters and of course several things stood out for me.

Janiq Charles has taken on the role of Katherine Parr© Dave Benett
Janiq Charles has taken on the role of Katherine Parr

Janiq Charles as Katherine Parr was an exceptional choice. Casting a Trinidadian actress in this role was a choice that should have been made earlier. Her rich singing had a velvety depth that I haven’t heard vocally in that role before (and I’ve seen the show three times…). Not to mention that I could watch her for the entire performance; she is a captivating performer and her stage presence is impeccable.

Kayleigh McKnight may have one of the most iconic songs from the entire show, Heart of stone, and after hearing the song performed countless times, I was so impressed with her vocal choices and how she changed it. And I mean it, because not only did she wow the audience with her crystal clear belt, but also when she showed off her soprano range in her vocal additions, which was a very welcome change of pace.

    Kayleigh Mcknight plays Jane Seymour© Dave Benett
Kayleigh Mcknight plays Jane Seymour

All in all I had a great night, it’s hard not to know what to say with such an uplifting tracklist, as the show goes on and on I couldn’t help but notice the slightly OTT, ‘panto-esque’ elements of the production felt slightly elevated. Whether it was the pressure of the press night I don’t know, but overall it’s certainly a solid cast and a brilliant show.

Where: The Vaudeville Theater

When: Now until April 23, 2024

Tickets: SIX the musical

Review by: Isabelle Casey, reporter

ABBA trip

A photo of the ABBA Voyage arena
ABBA Voyage takes place in a purpose-built space in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

“SOS, they didn’t play Super Trouper!” was my immediate criticism as I left the purpose-built arena, but short of depriving me of my favorite ABBA song, you can’t leave ABBA Voyage without being impressed, even if it’s just how realistic the band comes across.

The experience does exactly what it says on the tin and gives you as close to an authentic concert of the famous Eurovision band as you could want. I was in the standing section instead of the stadium at the back, and I’m glad we weren’t just there for dancing purposes, but I also think it really helped me feel fully immersed in the experience.

The seats were very far back, and while it would have helped to take in the whole of the spectacle, I don’t think it would have been the experience it was if I hadn’t been on the floor.

Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus at the world premiere of ABBA Voyage © Dave Benett
Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus at the world premiere of ABBA Voyage

The live backing singers and band were excellent and really brought the energy to the room, another reason why it was a good choice to be up front as you could feel the energy they radiated.

Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford

When: Now until November 25, 2024

Tickets: ABBA trip

Review by: Isabelle Casey, reporter

Elvis evolution

The king of rock ‘n’ roll returns! Elvis Evolution launches in London in November, and if you loved ABBA Voyage, you better get on the waiting list. Thanks to thousands of unseen personal photos and home video footage, Elvis himself will take the stage, via state-of-the-art AI and holographic projection.

Elvis Evolution culminates in a nostalgic and enchanting celebration of music, allowing fans to experience “his meteoric rise to fame, his larger-than-life personality and the cultural movement he sparked in the 1950s and ’60s.”

Stay tuned for a review!

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