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I went to see Marti Pellow star in the Witches of Eastwick at the Derngate Royal in Northampton last year and I would highly recommend this show to all, whether you are a fan of the film, book or a fan of Marti Pellow, which I was none of them, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this show. This show is based on the novel by John Updike and the Warner Brothers Motion Picture starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Phieffer, Susan Surandon and Cher to mention just a few. The story is about three singleton women, whom live in a small town in America called Eastwick. And living in one of these small stepford style towns, there is a definite shortage of eligible men. Anyway one night after a few drinks they wish for a sexy man to hit their town, and unknown to them, the laws of the universe grant their wish and this is where we see the entrance of Darryl Van Horne. He certainly hits the town with a bang and makes a huge impression on the three women with his voodoo and devilish charm. He then proceeds to woo and have relations with all three women, but he also makes them empower themselves as women and also lifts them from the slumps of single life. Living in such a small town though this creates a stir, and tongues start wagging especially with one of local women, Felicity, whom makes it her duty to try and get rid of Mr Horne. Let's just say Darryl Van Horne has a very strange effect on all the women but also the rest of the town's locals, and proceeds to charm them all. I do not want to give away too much especially for those whom have not watched the film and read the book, but I can promise you that this devilish show is packed with sexiness, magic and just great fun. Main characters of the show Darryl Van Horne - Marti Pellow Alexandra - Ria Jones Sukie - Rebbecca Thornhill Jane - Poppy Tierney Felicia - Rachael Izen Clyde - James Graeme When the show started, I was firstly struck with the beautiful costumes and the opening scenes with the chorus of the show were fantastic. Then when Darryl Van Horne (Marti Pellow) got onto the stage well, all I can say is the women went mad ..... it was so funny watching the husbands and boyfriends just putting their heads in their hands while their wives were screaming and nearly throwing their knickers on the stage.... I can remember thinking "he's not that nice". But by the end of the show, I'm not ashamed to admit, I could defiantly see the appeal. His portrayal of Darryl Van Horne was brilliant, the accent, the sexual chemistry on stage, the way he interacted with the audience was just brilliant and the hip thrusting was okay too. Friends of mine who saw him in Chicago aswell said they were very impressed with his abilities and he has a great stage presence. The music throughout was brilliant, I think everyone's favourite tended to be "Dance with the devil" when we left, most people were singing or humming it as they returned to their cars. My other favourite part of this show, was the costumes, they were in such bright and vibrant colours, and absolutly beautiful. I think my favorites were when the Sukie, Jane and Alex were singing under the moon in the most gorgoeus bright red dresses, all slightly different designs to suit each women, but they were so nice, I wanted to own one myself. Also Marti Pellow's purple suit was fantastic, can not see it suiting many men on a saturday night on the tiles, but he just looked fantastic in it, although he looked equally attractive out of it, as there was one scene where he comes on to the stage in a crisp white shirt half done up and his boxers, god im blushing just thinking about it. I would highly recommend this show, it's a great show and a really great night out, and so if I was you I'd go and check out the "Devil"!! you will not regret it. I think at the moment there are a few show dates left that being Tuesday 14 - Saturday 18 April Royal Centre Theatre Square Nottingham Box Office 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk Monday 20 - Saturday 25 April Wales Millennium Centre Bute Place Cardiff Box Office 98799 402000 www.wmc.org.uk Tuesday 27 April - Saturday 9 May King's Theatre 297 Bath Street Glasgow Box Office 0870 060 6648 www.kings-glasgow.co.uk Our tickets were approx 31 pounds each at the Derngate, but I think it depends on which seats and what dates and times you are attending, as my friend grabbed tickets for about 25 pounds. ***Additional infomation for those of you whom are interested *** CREATIVE TEAM DIRECTOR Nikolai Foster DESIGNER Peter Mckintosh CHOREOGRAPHER Geoffrey Garratt LIGHTING DESIGNER Guy Hoare SOUND DESIGNER Colin Pink CASTING DIRECTOR Kay Magson CDG MUSICAL SUPERVISOR Kevin Amos ORIGINAL ORCHESTRATIONS William D. Brohn ADDITIONAL ORCHESTRATIONS Chris Egan and Christopher Jahnke MUSICAL DIRECTOR Tom Deering Well this was my first theatre review, so I really hope this is ok, but any constructive feedback would be great.
I'd seen Marti Pellow is Chicago so knew just how good he is at theatre, loving the film too I was very excited going to see The Witches of Eastwick. Perhaps with such high expectations I was bound to be a little disappointed. The Wiches of Eastwick, follows the strange goings on when none other than the devil himself arrives in town, Daryl Van Horne, and has his wicked way with three particular women.. who soon give him his come- uppance. Marti is great as Daryl, cheeky and confident, his grin is perfect for such a character. Obviously being set in Eastwick, a fictional US town, he has to be American, and he does a good job at the accent. However all the ladies hoping for his lovely Scottish accent to creep in will be disappointed! I did feel Marti could have put his own mark on this role, however as good performance as he gave, he'd obviously been studying the film version as his portrayal of Daryl was identical to Jack Nicolson's. To his credit though, getting such a resemblance to Jack is no mean feat. Performances form the other cast members were also great, as was the scenery however the real let down for me was the music. None of the songs were particulary memorable, though sung well. I think for such a story, the music had the potential to be really exciting, but it fell short. Not to take away from the execution of the production by cast and crew, but give such talented people a better score so they can really show us what they can do.
With a title like 'The Witches of Eastwick' you'd think the production would have had better timing. Opening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in July 2000 to mixed reviews things appeared to be going well until the advent of the foot and mouth crisis. Audiences stayed away in droves and Sir Cameron Mackintosh made a decision, the 'Witches' would fly west to the smaller Prince of Wales Theatre. For a time it looked as though Eastwick was safe but alas this was not to be and just weeks after the events of September 11 the company were informed it would close in the West End. Thus on the 27th October 2001 the final curtain came down on one of the brightest jewels in the crown of the West End. And what a show was lost to theatre-goers everywhere. Written by Dana P. Rowe (music) and John Dempsey (book and lyrics) a relatively new musical writing duo whose previous works include 'The Fix' at the Donmar Warehouse a few years ago. The show is based on a combination of both the book by John Updike and the 1987 Warner Bros film of the same name. If you know one, or both, of these then you'll recognise most of the show, but not all. Rowe and Dempsey have cleverly combined elements from both previous versions to create a third, almost separate, identity. The plot begins inconspicuously enough. Three lonely ladies from the town of Eastwick dream of romance and together they conjure it up in the shape of the Devillish Darryl Van Horne. Van Horne then proceeds to seduce all of them in turn bringing out a side of their characters none had dared explore before. But with such freedom comes the repurcussions that reverberate throughout the sleepy town and have dire consequences for more than one inhabitant. A village frozen in time until the Devil arrives to thaw it out. For the original show a cast of incredible repute and considerable talent was recruited. The key to the shows success was to be it's Darryl. Shoul d he fail then the show would fail too. After extensive searching Ian McShane was cast, star of Televisions 'Lovejoy' he was well known to a wide audience. He also had sex appeal. Although not known for his musical abilities McShane aquitted himself well. HIs deep voice, more Rex Harrison than Michael Ball, fitted with his interpretation of the Devil and he did manage to sizzle his way through the show. At least in the beginning. By the time the show changed venue his performance was lack-lustre and perfunctory. Enter Clarke Peters. A well known and very fine musical performer with such credits as Billy Flynn in 'Chicago' under his belt. Peters breathed new life into the show; a sexy devil who could also sing and dance. The character of Alexandra Spofford, the artistic eldest of the three witches, was taken by American star Lucie Arnaz. Daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lucie has be appearing in musicals stateside for years and added authenticity to teh American-ness of the show. Giving a performance that US polish, Arnaz seemed slightly ill at ease as the earth-mother of the piece but that shouldn't detract from a great performance, and some really good legs! When Armaz flew back the USA her role was taken over by Joesphine Gabrielle, another West End performer whose credits include the recent RNT version of 'Oklahoma!' Again Gabrielle sparked new interest in the show. Maria Friedman, well known to audiences almost everywhere from Casualty and more recently Chicago, took on the role of Sukie Rougemont; the shy local journalist who has trouble finding the 'words, words, words'. Another electrifying performance ensued. Her rendition of the complicated patter song 'Words, Words, Words' (which, incidentally, she requested in order that Sukie could have the same release as the other girls) was breath-taking and stopped the show. Juxtapose that with her haunting 'Loose Ends', in which she r eveals her pain at having never had a father, and hers was a deeply touching performance that moved me to tears. Yet she inevitably left and in her place came Rebecca Thornhill, soon to be seen in 'The Full Monty', another great musical performer. Unfortunately for her she followed Maria and however good Thornhill was Friedman's shoes were hard to fill. The final leading character of Janey Smart, the repressed music teacher, was filled by an inspired piece of casting: Joanna Riding. Already an accomplished performer having worked extensively at the RNT, Riding was the only one of the leads not to leave after a year but to stay on to the bitter end. With a wonderful voice that easily soared through her main solo, 'Waiting For The Music To Begin', perhaps the most dramatic of the three girls release songs. Riding simply was Jane Smart, it is impossible to imagine any other actress perform the role with such dexterity; a good dancer and able actor Joanna has just moved back to Drury Lane to take over from Martine McCutcheon as Eliza Dolittle in 'My Fair Lady'. Stardom looms. Maybe even world domination. The role of Felicia Gabriel, town gossip and self-appointed moral crusader, although not one of the leads was perhaps one of the most difficult. Where to find an actress, of a certain age, with such a wide vocal range, the ability to act well, dance and do magic tricks? In Rosemary Ashe, that's where! Staying for the full length of the run, Ashe dressed in a array of outrageous outfits with matching hair enlivened the stage at every opportunity, stealing scenes from nearly every other performer. Her big number where she leads the company in 'Dirty Laundry' was something that had to be heard to be believed. It is of great credit to all involved; director Eric Shaeffer, Choreographers Bob Avian and Stephen Mear as well as production designer Bob Crowely that the large cast never felt like a large cast. Each and every member of the company had a distinct personality which was reflected in not only the dialogue of various scenes but also in the individualistic costumes and unique chroreography. Watching the routines in this show offered a refreshing change from productions like 'West Side Story', where all the dancers do exactly the same thing and moves as one collective character called 'the chorus'. Here we saw a village dancing, real people of all shapes and sizes dancing just the way you or I would. There aren't many other musicals where you'd find out that Eudora had a house full of cats or Franny told war stories unless they were the leads. The 1950's set was also highly distincticve. Resembling, and indeed I believe based on, a typical New England Village there was a really strong sense that Eastwick was "perfect": sets although "larger than life" and almost cartoon-ish were like something out of a picture postcard from Long Island, with perfect picket fences surrounding perfect lived. Well groomed hills loomed on the horizon (or rather upstage) and the idealistic church, which is blown up near the end added a sense of latent danger and power to the production. The lighting complimented the set briliantly; at times dazzling, reflecting the clean brightness of day, and at other times darkly sensuous. One of the main attractions of this show, and the reason I initially went to see it, was the spectacular flying sequence. 'The Making of...' documentary shown nationally just before the show opened highlighted the flying and just watching small sections sent shivers down my spine. The effect was no less thrilling in real life. At Darryl's house the Witches finallly realsie thier dreams and take flight under Van Horne's guidance, a metaphor for sexual freedom maybe. With closed eyes and uttering the prayer "Let it..." the three women magically rose and flew over, yes over, the audience before vanishing into the rafters. Sadly after the move the flying scene was curtailed due to space and expense. Inevitably a small amount of the magic was aslo lost. However there were some problems. Some aspects of the didn't seem to work no matter what changes occured. The most stricking instance being the inclusion of the young lovers. Alexandra's son Michael and the Gabriel's daughter Jennifer were cut from the movie version and one can understand why. Offering a more traditional romantic theme of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, they detracted from the action. Given the sappy song 'Something' their innocence didn't provide a refreshing contrast to the darker elements of the show as it was intended to, they just irritated. It was nothing to do witht he capable performances of Peter Joback or Caroline Sheen, it was just that the change of pace never worked... not matter where it was placed (and it was constantly changed). They seemed like they were out of a different musical. World even. Another complaint was that the show was not instantly hummable. If by that detractors meant that certain tunes were not threaded through the show numerour times at every available opportunity then they were right. The audience didn't leave having heard only one or two strong melodies, they left having heard many, and that can cause a problem. Once heard a few times they stick with you but at a one off event like a theatrical performance, unless worked into a score like Andrew Lloyd Webber, that is the perennial dilemma: saturate a show so that people leave hummimg after one hearing but get bored quickly with the repetitive nature, or keep it interesting for many viewings? I know which I prefer, you decide which one you'd like. If any of this has intrigued you and you'd like to know what I've been droning on about for so long then the show is survuved by it's Cast Album featuring the original production so it doesn't include the changes made after the February 2001 transfer. Thus Van Horne's signature number of 'Who's The Man' is included rather than it's replacement 'The Glory of Me'. For me 'Who's The Man' was an incredibly enjoyable song, even though it didn't necessarily fullfil all of the requirements of an eleventh hour song, so don't think you'd be losing out by hearing that instead. 'Something' is also still in it's original position, and for me it is at it's least intrusive there. 'The Witches of Eastwick' had a marvellous West End life in both it's incarnations and yes it had it's flaws. But did it deserve to close like that? The answer has to be 'No'! The colourful characters, the brilliant performers, clever lyrics, strong melodies, unique choreography and innovative staging of Eastwick will be sadly missed by all those lucky enough to have been caught in it's spell. Rest In Peace 'Witches' ... until next time... ... In America, Australia, Russia, Japan and Scandinavia ... maybe even a UK tour?
The Witches Of Eastwick is one of the best reviewed musicals in recent years. But the events of Sept 11th have had a dramatic effect on theatreland and many shows are closing early. Peggy Sue Got Married came and went. Antartica is on the way out after leaving people cold and Cats may also be next. Witches is the latest in a long line. The Witches Of Eastwick opened in London in July, 2000 at the theatre Royal, Dury Lane. The musical had a loyal following but it was thought that the show was too overblown and required some tweaking to the songs. Many thought that the sheer scale of the show needed downsizing. So in March of this year the Witches flew to The Prince Of Wales theatre in the heart of the West End. But ticket sales like most of the West End have been down. Therefore it was decided two weeks ago that the show would close on Sat, 27th Oct. So, you only have one day to go! The Witches Of Eastwick is based on the Warner Brothers film which was released in 1987. Three women dream of the perfect man. The small town that they inhabit is very restricting and they long for the day when they can let their hair down and be their true selves. If you wish long enough, something devlish may this way come! And sure enough- an enigmatic stranger is soon charming his way into Eastwick leaving women falling at his feet like Tom Jones at a Cardiff Stadium gig! Daryl Van Horn (Clarke Peters) seduces Alex, Jane and Sukie and then attempts to take on the whole town with his devlish humour and fast talking approach to life. The three women love the freedom that Daryl is able to give them. But soon the three women find themselves the topic of ome very hot gossip. Alex (Josefina Gabrielle) is the artist. She makes clay models of mishapen people! They start to sell once she is seduced by Daryl. Jane is a music teacher. Once Daryl arrives on the scene, she starts to make frighteningly good music! Sukie is a journalist who has a thirst for know ledge and she gets more information than she bargained for! Soon, the matriarch of the town - Felicia (Rosemary Ashe) has the town's gossips tongues doing over-time with her tales of the seducer and his three women. The women become bored and decide that Daryl has to go. But this ain't no ordinary man. It's the devil. So singing the words of "I Will Survive" are not going to work! The Witches Of Eastwick is a very rare musical. It has comic moments, touching scenes and songs which are in no way overblown. The performances are first rate. Each cast member gives the material their all and you really do get a sense of the whole cast having a ball on stage. Which of course rubs off on you. Joanna Riding steals the broom from underneath the other witches with a polished an humourous turn but Anne Robinson would be very disappointed as there is no weakest link here! Many critics have criticised the songs as not being immediately catchy. But this makes a change from musicals which feature one chorus repeated so many times as if to sell the album ten times over. The special effects are effective without taking over the whole show and the plot is fast paced so you never have a chance to look at your watch. The three lead females are utterly bewitching. Each one makes their stamp on the piece and work so well together that you cannot imagine them arguing over the size of the dressing rooms like some West End stars. The scene where they literally fly over the audience is amazing. You really do feel the need to applaud immediately as the effect is so magical. Clarke Peters is a revelation as the handome devil who literally has the women of Eastwick on their knees. He is so much better than Ian McShane who originally opened the show as Mr Van Horn. He relishes his lines and again looks like he is having a great time on stage. The stage set has been downsized from the original show. This works to better effect. Imagine Graham Norton or Elton John have been given the chance to design a bedroom! That's Daryl's budoir! The camp lively feel of the show is best displayed here. The colour red oozes sex appeal from every corner of the stage and the pairs of lips hanging from the ceiling make you smile each time you catch sight of them! If you want to see a different musical with more double entendres than choruses and one which will leave you smiling as you leave the theatre, then Witches is for you. But hurry, it flies out of London tomorrow! Last night Saturday. Thanks for reading. Glenn
First off I should say: although I love theatre, I don't get to go as often as I would like, so my theatre knowledge is completely amateur! My trip to sea "Witches of Eastwick" came about through a friend who came to visit London and organised to go, kindly inviting me to join the group going! I've seen the film...a great film which would be hard to beat, but this does not do a bad job of it. I was most impressed by the stage designs, with stunning sets and one could almost say "special effects"! Ian McShane (probably most famous for the TV series "Lovejoy"), did a fantastic job as the lead. His acting reminded me of an Al Pacinoesque style of performance, extremely vibrant and demanding the kind of attention from the audience as would be expected from a character like his -"the devil"! Our fellow "witches" also did a spectacular job...and yes, I had a favourite: "Jane", the seemingly frigid school teacher, whose transition after being involved with our "devil" is by far the most radical and extreme. At one point, she's wearing a little tennis outfit. Whilst walking through some of the "Eastwick" society, who are of course trying to do the best job of showing their extreme disapproval, she turns, lifts her skirt up, and shakes her pelvis, exposing a set of bright red underwear...the whole theatre was laughing and thinking "you go girl"! All in all, it's a production with a high feel-good factor and I would say it's a musical I would have no qualms about going to see again if a friend of mine should decide they'd like to see it and had no-one to accompany them!