Marisha Wallace | Live

 

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hot on the heels of her final Waitress performance and ahead of opening as Motormouth Maybelle in the London Coliseum production of Hairspray this April, Marisha Wallace has embarked on her first ever UK tour; launching with a bang last night at Sale’s Waterside Arts venue.

Bursting onto the stage looking spectacular in silver sequins and white marabou feathers Marisha proves she means business opening with a stunning rendition of Etta James’ Something’s Got A Hold on Me.

Accompanied by a four-piece band led by musical director Ross Stanley and two soulful backing singers, Marisha’s warm personality and magnetic charisma shine through as she opens up to her audience through frequent heartfelt exchanges between songs. Announcing that when she first performed in public aged just 5 years old she forgot all the words, it’s safe to say she had no such problem last night as she promptly treated the excited audience to a superb rendition of Stevie Wonder’s I Was Made To Love Her.

It’s clear to see that soul runs through her veins and the music she listened to growing up as a child in North Carolina has really shaped her as an incredibly expressive performer who communicates not only with her voice but with her whole being. She is an absolute natural on stage, incredible to think at aged just 17 she was told she may never sing again due to a cyst on her vocal chords which following the prayers of her parents miraculously disappeared when she went for surgery leaving scar tissue in its place.

The varied set list has been lovingly created catering perfectly for all tastes, Act 1 is made up largely of soul classics with a lively rendition of Tina Turner’s River Deep Mountain High ensuring this party gets well and truly started while Marisha’s version of The Bee Gee’s How Deep Is Your Love is as emotional as it is pure.

There’s well-chosen tracks from musical theatre with a heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Heart of Stone from musical theatre phenomenon SIX which is given a goose-bump inducing gospel spin while Marisha explains to the audience how the lyrics speak to her, “A heart of stone to me means that love is resilient, that I have loved before and I truly believe my resilient heart means I have the capacity as we all do to love again”. This level of honesty combined with her unquestionable talent endear her to her audience so completely they literally hang on her every word.

She closes Act 1 will a sensational Aretha Franklin medley, a tribute to the legendary singer whom she met backstage when the star came to watch Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, you can’t help but think how much joy her performance would bring to the late great Aretha.

Act 2 opens with Marisha’s catchy new single Fight Like A Woman, a sassy, strong pop anthem entirely fitting for International Women’s Day; she then continues her celebration of iconic performers with a high-energy tribute to the woman she describes as ‘The Voice’ the one and only Whitney Houston. Lapping up this upbeat medley the audience leap to their feet in approval before Marisha silences the room with a powerhouse performance of I Will Always Love You, nothing short of phenomenal, the audience once again up on their feet.

A rousing rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been from Hairspray gives the audience a hint of what they can expect from the forthcoming West End production while Marisha gives us an insight into just how much of a life changer her roles in the West End have been. As her career soared, she faced heart-breaking times in her personal life and through the roles she’s undertaken has developed an optimistic resilience which leads her beautifully into a special version of Tomorrow from Annie blended with Chaka Chan’s moving Love Me Still.

Inviting children from Stagecoach Salford and Manchester Contemporary Youth Choir to join her in an empowering performance of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman allows an opportunity for another inspiring reminder that, “anything is possible, if you just believe in yourself” and of course another standing ovation, the forth or fifth of the show at least, we lost count!

Of course, no performance would be complete without Marisha treating the audience to her jaw-droppingly perfect delivery of And I Am Telling You from smash-hit musical Dreamgirls, this one song is without doubt worth the ticket price alone, stunning from start to finish.

As cries of ‘More’ ring out from the audience Marisha returns to the stage treating us to one final classic, ending the night on the most joyful of highs with a fabulous rendition of Proud Mary, there’s strutting, sass and even an opportunity for some great fun audience participation.

Marisha Wallace’s genuine warmth and incredible talent ensure this is an unforgettable night. Her voice is sublime, smooth as honey and strong as hell. She takes you on an emotional journey with her refreshing honestly while her note perfect delivery will completely blow you away. Talent like hers is rare, so grab your opportunity to witness it while you can!

Tour dates for Marisha Wallace can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview | Marisha Wallace

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One of the West End and Broadway’s most instantly recognisable voices and beloved leading ladies is heading out on her first ever UK Tour beginning at Sale’s Waterside.

Marisha Wallace – the sensational star of such smash-hit shows as Dreamgirls, Waitress, Aladdin, The Book of Mormon and very soon Hairspray – will play a series of unmissable theatre shows in March 2020.

Beginning at Sale’s Waterside (March 8), Marisha will then play Newbury Corn Exchange (March 11), Horsham Capitol (March 13), Birmingham Hippodrome (March 14), Leeds City Varieties (March 16), Lichfield Garrick (March 17), Glasgow Glee Club (March 18) and the Arts Theatre in London’s West End (March 23).

Ahead of the tour we sat down with Marisha to get the lowdown on what we can expect from the tour, why audience participation is crucial to her performance, what ‘that song’ “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” means to her and why she has her heart set on becoming the “Beyoncé of Broadway”.

Opening Night: HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR YOUR DEBUT UK TOUR?

Marisha: Like you cannot believe – it’s going to be incredible!  To be going out around the country and singing in these different regions is going to be wonderful –the experience of a lifetime. This is my first time as a solo headliner so I can’t wait.

ON: YOU’VE BEEN IN THE UK FOR SOME TIME NOW – WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THIS COUNTRY?

Marisha: I love the people here, they are so warm, and they are so dedicated, so supportive. Those who come to my concerts seem to really get me and understand where I am coming from. I feel like I’m something of an underdog and I think they tap into that and are willing me to succeed which is really nice. I also just love being in London, I love the history and the fact that every minute I’m here I feel like I am on holiday!

ON:  SINCE COMING TO THE UK HAVE YOU HAD MUCH CHANCE TO VISIT DIFFERENT PLACES OUTSIDE OF LONDON?

Marisha: I really love Manchester, the food is incredible, it’s almost like a different kind of London, reminds me of Boston a little bit and it’s an incredible place.

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ON: WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT ON THE TOUR?

Marisha: They can expect a lot of amazing songs, a lot of soul, a lot of big numbers from your favourite musicals that I’ve been in over the years and some of my own songs.
This is a brand-new show which I feel has something for everyone. I will be performing songs by artists and songwriters that mean the world to me. I feel sure the audience will get up on their feet and dance. It’s going to be high energy and inspirational!

ON: WHO WILL BE JOINING YOU ON STAGE?

Marisha: I have my four-piece band, who are all good friends of mine. We will also have some surprise guests, some choirs and singers from the towns and cities where we are going to be playing – so you’ll see some of your hometown friends on stage singing with me as well.

ON: YOU ARE USED TO PERFORMING WITH A CAST ON STAGE, THIS TIME IT IS JUST YOU AND YOUR BAND. DO YOU PREFER PLAYING A CHARACTER OR BEING YOURSELF ON STAGE?

Marisha: I feel most comfortable on stage as Marisha Wallace because I’m in control of everything! In musical theatre I can only play the one part and it’s already written for me. With my own shows I get to be the architect of the whole thing. It’s a very personal thing for me. I feel like a showman and it’s what I like to do – I will come out on the night like a firecracker!

ON: SO IT’S A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE FOR AUDIENCE MEMBERS WHO MAY HAVE ONLY SEEN YOU IN THE WEST END?

Marisha: If you’ve only seen me in a show before you’ve never seen me like this. When I do my concerts, this is the full version of me. You will get to hear stories about my life and hopefully be inspired. That’s kind of my biggest thing when I do a show, I want to inspire people because if I can make it to where I am, then anyone can make it.

ON: SO YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SINGER?

Marisha: I’ve been a singer my whole life, music was such an important part of my family growing up, and early on I decided I wanted to make a career out of it. I went to go to university, but I did not get in because they said there was something wrong with my voice. It was then found I had a cyst on my vocal chords and had to have surgery.
I was told they did not know if I would be able to sing again after surgery but thankfully the surgery turned out well and I went back to the same school and they asked whether I would like to do musical theatre.

I’ve worked so hard to get here. I have been working at this for 15, 20 years just trying to make my dreams come true, going from nothing to making it.

ON: ON YOUR WEBSITE IT STATES YOU “GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN IN NORTH CAROLINA, BUT THE SMALL TOWN NEVER HELD DOWN HER BIG CITY DREAMS”. IS IT FAIR TO SAY YOU ARE LIVING YOUR DREAM?

Marisha: I am totally living my dream. When I was on Broadway I thought ‘This is it, I’ve made it’ but when the West End came calling I realised ‘Wait there is an even bigger dream than I ever thought’. To be here getting to do all the things I love is amazing.
Everything I ever wrote down or said I wanted to do is happening to me right here in the UK. The exciting thing is you feel that your journey can lead you to the right place and I certainly feel I’m at the right place at the right time.

ON: IT CAN BE A HARD LIFE THOUGH?

Marisha: Yes, it’s hard for a musical theatre performer. By your very nature you have to be multi-faceted, be able to sing, dance, act, and must have the stamina of a crazy person because you do eight shows a week. But at the same time it’s also a wonderful life. To be able to do all these things, live all these roles alongside performers who become true friends is so special. Every time I go out I want to prove myself as a performer – I basically want to be the Beyoncé of Broadway! She does everything; she sings, dances, acts, she likes to use all her gifts and I love her for that!

ON: WHO WERE YOUR MUSICAL HEROES GROWING UP?

Marisha: Definitely all of the soul women: Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Jennifer Holiday. I do a lot of these artists in my show, and of course Whitney Houston. My God, Whitney’s voice. The way those tones affect people is just truly amazing.

ON: HOW MANY OF THEIR SONGS WILL FEATURE IN YOUR TOUR?

Marisha: Lots of them. It is brilliant to be able to take a song by Whitney, Janis Joplin, Etta James and fit them alongside songs from musical theatre and my own material. I’m blessed I can sing a number of different styles and while at one point I thought I needed to focus on just one sound or genre I then thought ‘Who cares… I’ll sing it all!’

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ON: HOW IMPORTANT TO YOUR PERFORMANCE IS THE AUDIENCE?

Marisha: They are everything to me. The audience truly help make the show. On this tour it is just me, my band and the audience – they are my other actors in this play.
Audiences want to be part of a concert and with me they get the chance to sing along, stand up, dance, scream, cheer, let out your emotions because that’s what a concert should be. You don’t just sit and watch – I want you to participate!

ON: “AND I AM TELLING YOU…” FROM DREAMGIRLS HAS BECOME SUCH AN ICONIC SONG THAT AUDIENCES NOW INSTANTLY RELATE IT TO YOU. WHAT DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU SING THAT SONG?

Marisha: The song is so special to me – I’ve never sung any song like it, it’s one of a kind.
Singing that line ‘And you’re going to love me’ and then getting that love back from the audience is something that you cannot describe. It means so much. It’s an incredibly powerful and personal song for so many people who have all been on their own journey in life.

You know when things have not gone well, they’ve been beaten down, but then they come out from the ashes and say ‘you know what, I am going to make it’ and ‘you are going to love me in the end’. That is why that song is so important, it has such a powerful message, one of never giving up. I think everyone, at some stage in their life, can relate to it.

Every time I sing it I think I’m not going to go there, you know all the way there, but every time I sing it I go there because it swoops you up into this world of emotion.
Also, all the things I have been through and my journey to get here to the stage just envelopes me when I sing that song. I always cry at the end.

ON: HOW HAS THE RETURN TO WAITRESS BEEN FOR YOU?

Marisha: It’s been so exciting because I’ve never gone back to a show that I’ve left before. Everyone has been so wonderful. This company is the most beautiful company and just a really big family.

ON: AFTER YOUR TOUR YOU BEGIN THE ROLE OF MOTORMOUTH MAYBELLE IN A STAR-STUDDED REVIVAL OF HAIRSPRAY. YOU MUST BE TREMENDOUSLY EXCITED.

Marisha: I can’t believe it because I kind of thought that role would not come my way for another 10, 15 years.  Michael (Ball) and I both performed last summer at Lytham Festival in Lancashire and we did ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ We got talking, I got the audition and I got the part. I’m so excited.

ON: WHAT WOULD BE THE DREAM ROLE FOR YOU?

Marisha: My dream role has not been written yet. I want to do an original piece where I get to create the role from scratch using all my talents. It would be cool to do something brand new, that no-one has done before.

I feel in my career I have had to top all the best who’ve gone before me. Behind me I had Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Holliday, Amber Riley and I had to aim to be a better version than all those who went before. I would be so excited to be the foundation version so the next person to come to the role would be challenged to top Marisha!

ON: DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE AHEAD OF THE OPENING NIGHT OF YOUR TOUR?

Marisha: Get your tickets now, it’s going to be wonderful, emotional and a hell of a night out!

Tickets for Marisha Wallace’s show at Sale’s Waterside can be found here.

Nominees revealed for Olivier Awards 2017

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The nominations have been announced for this years’ Olivier Awards and there’s a wealth of hot competition in the categories.

The prestigious event is being held on Sunday 9th April at London’s Royal Albert Hall and promises to be a star-studded occasion full of show-stopping performances from some of the best theatre productions around.

Leading the way with a phenomenal 11 nominations is brand new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was shown to audiences in 2 parts at the Palace Theatre. Groundhog Day – another new kid on the block – has also got a big nod from the theatre world, receiving 8 Olivier nominations.

Great news for one of the more ‘veteran’ musicals as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar picks up 6 nominations, making it officially the most Olivier Award nominated show in history.

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FUNNY GIRL, , MUSIC – JULE STYNE, Lyrics – Bob Merrill, Book – Harvey Fierstein, Director – Michael Mayer, Choreography – Lynne Page, Set Design – Michael Pavelka, Costumes – Matthew Wright, Lighting – Mark Henderson, The Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

Opening Night have their fingers crossed for Sheridan Smith, nominated in the Best Actress in a Musical category for her incredible portrayal of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, most recently seen on tour at Manchester’s Palace Theatre (read our review here https://opening-night.org/2017/02/23/funny-girl/ ).

One person who can definitely bank on taking home a gong on the night is Sir Kenneth Branagh who will receive a special award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British theatre.

The Olivier Awards 2017 with Mastercard will take place on Sunday 9 April at the Royal Albert Hall. Tickets to theatre’s biggest night are available from priceless.com

Full list of nominees below:

 

Best Actor

Ed Harris for Buried Child at Trafalgar Studios 1

Tom Hollander for Travesties at Apollo theatre

Ian McKellen for No Man’s Land at Wyndham’s theatre

Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

 

Best Actress

Glenda Jackson for King Lear at the Old Vic

Cherry Jones for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

Billie Piper for Yerma at Young Vic

Ruth Wilson for Hedda Gabler at National Theatre – Lyttelton

 

 

Best Director

Simon Stone for Yerma at Young Vic

John Tiffany for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

John Tiffany for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

Matthew Warchus for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

 

Virgin Atlantic Best New Play

Elegy at Donmar Warehouse

The Flick at National Theatre – Dorfman

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

One Night in Miami … at Donmar Warehouse

 

Mastercard Best New Musical

Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre

The Girls at Phoenix theatre

Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

School of Rock the Musical at New London theatre

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Ian Bartholomew for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre

Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre

Ben Hunter for The Girls at Phoenix theatre

Andrew Langtree for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre – Olivier

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at Arts theatre

Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at New London theatre

Emma Williams for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre

 

Outstanding Achievement in Music

Dreamgirls – music by Henry Krieger at Savoy theatre

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – composer and arranger: Imogen Heap at Palace theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar – the band and company creating the gig-like rock vibe of the original concept album of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

School of Rock the Musical – three children’s bands who play instruments live every night at New London theatre

 

Best New Dance Production

Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young at Sadler’s Wells

Blak Whyte Gray by Boy Blue Entertainment at Barbican theatre

Giselle by Akram Khan and English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells * Read our review here – https://opening-night.org/2016/09/28/english-national-ballet-giselle/

My Mother, My Dog and CLOWNS! by Michael Clark at Barbican theatre

 

Outstanding Achievement in Dance

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for their London season at Sadler’s Wells

Luke Ahmet for The Creation by Rambert at Sadler’s Wells

English National Ballet for expanding the variety of their repertoire with Giselle and She Said at Sadler’s Wells

 

Best Entertainment and Family

Cinderella at London Palladium

David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom at Vaudeville theatre

Peter Pan at National Theatre – Olivier

The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells

 

Best Theatre Choreographer

Matthew Bourne for The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells

Peter Darling and Ellen Kane for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Steven Hoggett for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

Drew McOnie for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

 

Magic Radio Best Musical Revival

Funny Girl at Savoy theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

Show Boat at New London theatre

Sunset Boulevard at London Coliseum

 

Best Actor in a Musical

David Fynn for School of Rock the Musical at New London theatre

Tyrone Huntley for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

Andy Karl for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Charlie Stemp for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre

 

Best Actress in a Musical

Glenn Close for Sunset Boulevard at London Coliseum

“The Girls” – Debbie Chazen, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice, Claire Machin, Claire Moore and Joanna Riding – for The Girls at Phoenix theatre

Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre

Sheridan Smith for Funny Girl at Savoy theatre

 

Best Revival

The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

This House at Garrick theatre

Travesties at Apollo theatre

Yerma at Young Vic

 

Best New Comedy

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery at Criterion theatre

Nice Fish at Harold Pinter theatre

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at National Theatre – Dorfman

The Truth at Wyndham’s theatre

 

Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

Cuttin’ It at the Maria, Young Vic

The Government Inspector at Theatre Royal Stratford East

The Invisible Hand at Tricycle theatre

It Is Easy to Be Dead at Trafalgar Studios 2

Rotterdam at Trafalgar Studios 2

 

White Light award for Best Lighting Design

Neil Austin for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

Lee Curran for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

Natasha Katz for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

Hugh Vanstone for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

 

Best Sound Design

Paul Arditti for Amadeus at National Theatre – Olivier

Adam Cork for Travesties at Apollo theatre

Gareth Fry for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

Nick Lidster for Autograph for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air theatre

 

Best Costume Design

Gregg Barnes for Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre

Hugh Durrant for Cinderella at London Palladium

Rob Howell for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Katrina Lindsay for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

 

Blue-i Theatre Technology Award for Best Set Design

Bob Crowley for Disney’s Aladdin at Prince Edward theatre

Bob Crowley for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

Rob Howell for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic

Christine Jones for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

Freddie Fox for Travesties at Apollo theatre

Brian J Smith for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

Rafe Spall for Hedda Gabler at National Theatre – Lyttelton

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Melissa Allan, Caroline Deyga, Kirsty Findlay, Karen Fishwick, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann, Joanne McGuinness and Dawn Sievewright for Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at National Theatre – Dorfman

Noma Dumezweni for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace theatre

Clare Foster for Travesties at Apollo theatre

Kate O’Flynn for The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York’s theatre

 

Best New Opera Production

4.48 Psychosis at Lyric Hammersmith

Akhnaten at London Coliseum

Così Fan Tutte at Royal Opera House

Lulu at London Coliseum

 

Outstanding Achievement in Opera

Renée Fleming for her performance in Der Rosenkavalier at Royal Opera House

Stuart Skelton for his performance in Tristan and Isolde at London Coliseum

Mark Wigglesworth for his conducting of Don Giovanni and Lulu at London Coliseum