The Time Traveller’s Wife

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Based on the best selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger and the film screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin, The Time Travellers Wife takes the leap into musical theatre and does so with unquestionable style.

Pop legends Dave Stewart and Joss Stone have linked up to create the music and lyrics, gifting the piece with soulful melodies and deeply layered numbers that drive and develop the story beautifully.

Portraying a tale about a time traveller could quite easily become confusing & chaotic, not here; this slick production with its clear storytelling and impressive design translates into something that’s hugely impressive and emotionally resonant.

David Hunter takes on the role of Henry, a time traveller who has no control over when or where he’ll be ripped out of the present and pulled into his past or maybe even his future. Hunter is superb in the role, every disappearance and reappearance is more impressive than the last, he’s right before your eyes one moment then appears at the opposite side of the stage in a completely different costume the next. This is a truly demanding role which he pulls off with ease & heaps of charm.

Joanne Woodward is perfectly cast as Clare. She gives the character depth and complexity while making her instantly likeable, showing both strength and vulnerability. The chemistry between the two is wonderful, their voices gel together so beautifully, lifting Stone and Stewart’s lyrics to the next level. You desperately want happiness for this duo as they portray the multi-layered characters with pure heart.

Tim Mahendran and Hiba Elchikhe add to the fun of the piece as bickering but hopelessly devoted Gomez and Charisse while as Henry’s Father, Ross Dawes makes sure his featured scene packs an emotional punch.

The set design, projections and illusions elevate this production far beyond a love story. They are thrilling, surprising and absolutely stunning. Journeyman which opens Act 2 is something very special, acting as real showcase as complex choreography, incredible vocals and impressive technology combine. Designers Anna Fleischle, Lucy Carter, Andrzej Goulding, Richard Brooker and illusionist Chris Fisher have ensured that the time travelling elements have been treated with the care they deserve, and the results are simply magical, with constant surprises keeping the audience on their toes from start to finish.

This ambitious production directed by Bill Buckhurst succeeds entirely, the technology is matched by a cast at the top of their game while the clear storytelling captivates completely. The Time Traveller’s Wife is a superb addition to musical theatre, with I hope, a long future ahead. Filled with love, heart and hope, this stunning new musical is a total triumph.

The Time Traveller’s Wife is on at Chester’s Storyhouse until Saturday 15th October tickets available here.

Ghost

 

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although it seems like five minutes ago it’s actually an incredible 8 years since Ghost the Musical first premiered in Manchester before opening in London’s West End ahead of a successful Broadway transfer and judging by audience responses at the Palace Theatre the love for this classic story shows no sign of waning.

Based on Bruce Joel Rubin’s iconic 1990 film, starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost tells the tragic love story of Brooklyn residents Sam (Niall Sheehy) and Molly (Rebekah Lowings) whose lives are cruelly torn apart when Sam is heartbreakingly murdered in a street robbery gone wrong. As Sam watches the scene of his death from a distance, stuck between two worlds he realises what at first seemed like a tragic accident is anything but and his beloved Molly is now in danger too. In order to find his own peace he must find a way to connect with and ultimately protect his love from beyond the grave, cue Oda Mae Brown an outrageous and questionable psychic who has made a living off receiving messages from the dead and passing them onto their living relatives for a fee of course; Problem is she’s never actually connected to anyone from the afterlife until now.

039_Ghost 2019_Pamela Raith Photography

Rebekah Lowings is hugely endearing as Molly, tentatively attempting to navigate life after the loss of her soulmate she skilfully takes us along for the turbulent ride. Her voice is beautiful; she delivers each solo with fabulous control. The chemistry between Lowings and Niall Sheehy feels genuinely convincingly further adding to the emotion and impact of this production. Sheehy is lively and charismatic as Sam, his commitment to protecting Molly from danger genuinely touching.

Jacqui Dubois is brass, bold and boisterous as Oda Mae Brown, her razor sharp comedic timing is a joy to watch and her hilarious interactions with Sheehy are a real highlight. The scene where we first meet her and her two abetting sisters Louise (Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy) and Clara (Sadie-Jean Shirley) is hilarious with their exaggerated gestures and punchy harmonies.

Special mention must also go to Sergio Pasquariello and Jules Brown who both impress as evil duo Carl and Willie.

063_Ghost 2019_Pamela Raith Photography

Impressive set and costume design from Mark Bailey adds to the slickness and authenticity of this production while Dan Samson’s sound design although vibrant occasionally overpowers the vocals of the performers. Nick Richings lighting design really makes this piece stand out visually, particularly impressive is the way Sam is lit once he passes from the real world.

The production translates exceptionally well from screen to stage with the addition of some great illusions from Richard Pinner delivered convincingly by an excellent cast.

Ghost will please fans of the original film and is also strong enough as a standalone production for those coming to the show with fresh eyes. It’s heavy on both emotion and humour while the dramatic and engaging story unfolds. There’s love, hope, comedy, deception and drama all neatly packed into this impressive production and while Dave Stewart’s  songs may not be the most memorable they are enjoyable and beautifully delivered.

This reworked incarnation directed by Bob Tomson feels faithful and impressive. Gone is the celebrity casting allowing this production the delivery it deserves ensuring Ghost once again cements itself as a modern theatre classic. Hugely entertaining theatre which engages on every level and will leave you with more than a little tear in your eye.

Ghost the Musical is at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 20th April tickets available here.