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Whatsonstage
★★★★★
The Guardian
★★★★
The Public Reviews
★★★★★
The Sunday Express
★★★★

Whatsonstage
“A sparkling production”
“David Hunter shines as the once idealistic and cheerful John”
“Highly recommended but don’t forget to take some tissues!”

The Guardian
“Director Daniel Buckroyd’s fine revival is performed with real verve by a cast of actor-musicians”

The Public Reviews
“Simply perfect”
“The pair sing beautifully, Atherton showcasing immense vocal power tempered with control, while Hunter gives his John both a simmering anger but also a vulnerability”
“Buckroyd’s production doesn’t put a foot wrong and delivers a real emotional punch.”

The Sunday Express
“Thrilling intensity and elegant simplicity”
“There’s musicality and muscularity from a superb ensemble”

The Stage
“The splendid 13-strong community-like ensemble of actor/musicians boasts a rich vocal end-product of West End proportions”

Once upon a Mormon :

the battle of the Broadway transfer.

I was interested this afternoon to read a host of 3 and 4 star reviews for Book of Mormon, the American juggernaut that recently transferred to The West End after incredible success on Broadway. Their advertising campaign has been hugely impressive. Posters lined the walls of every tube station and images were splattered across the front covers of newspapers long before the cast was announced and as a result the show is sold out for months.

My stagey twitter feed is full of hype for the show with glowing praise from everyone, but the critics have spoken and I’m yet to read a five star review.

There’s no shame in that, I’ve seen spectacular shows that only achieved four stars and I’m sure Mormon is a fantastic show, one that I’m very excited to see. But reading the reviews I started to question what outside factors might have affected the critics. Could the huge hype for this show persuade some reviewers to take a more negative view point to offer an alternate opinion, or simply to stand out amongst the other glowing reviews?

My questioning is more than likely a result of the fact that I’m staring down the barrel of a press night of our very own for The Hired Man and wondering what a group of seasoned theatre critics will make of our show.

Of course, we tell ourselves not to care, that we shouldn’t focus on reviews good or bad, but it’s difficult to ignore them altogether. At their best, reviews can be a great way to drive a production forward, perhaps instilling the cast with a confidence that allows them to commit to their performances in a whole new way.

That was certainly the case with Seussical, a show that I loved but feared no one else would. After a string of positive reviews (never achieving five stars, i might add) the confidence from within the cast and the level of performance grew and grew. I suspect that your average theatre-goer wouldn’t spot this shift in confidence, but the feeling within us was significant. Positive reviews can take away that niggling doubt and give you a sense that what you’re doing in really working for your audience.

Real feedback is hard to come by. It’s hard to find a reliable source. Of course your mum will love it and even your most hard-to-please friends will try to be as positive as possible, but critics owe you nothing. They watch the show, you hope, through totally unbiased eyes and review it accordingly. They don’t owe you, or your show, anything. And that’s as scary as it is necessary.

So has the Book of Mormon hype driven the reviewers to shy away from awarding the full five stars?

In Stark contrast to Mormon’s advertising campaign, ‘Once’ has sneaked into The West End practicality unnoticed and I’ll be watching with interest to see what this show is awarded.

Where Mormon is a self professed big hitter, with an advertising budget to match, Once has been almost apologetic in it’s approach. Posters for the show have only just begun to spring up in tube stations and as a result you can still buy tickets here, there and everywhere for this Broadway smash, and I urge you to do so before the reviews make this show a sell out.

I’m happy to predict, fairly confidently, that Once will receive five stars across the board and I haven’t even seen it! Us Brits love an underdog and while Book of Mormon has spent the last six months telling us how bloody wonderful it is, Once has shuffled in the back door, hood up, guitar on it’s back, happy to be the dark horse in this competition for best Broadway transfer. They are the surprise package and I can’t help but think that the critics will want to give them a fantastic write up, knowing that they need the reviews to fill the theatre.

Just like the film, Once the musical is quietly breaking hearts outside of the mainstream public eye, but i suspect that’s about to change. When the reviews hit the papers and the buzz begins to build, Once will be the West End hit it deserves to be.

If you can’t get to the show anytime soon, buy yourself the original film and prepare to fall in love with a beautiful movie as well as an incredible song-writer in Glen Hansard. It grabbed me a number of years a go and if anyone asks what my favourite movie is, I’ll always reply “Once”. Not only because it sounds cooler than saying “Back to the Future Two”, but also because it means I might introduce someone new to this incredible movie. A genuine cult classic.

Make sure you catch Once AND Book of Mormon if you can sniff out a ticket. Both, I’m sure, are fantastic shows and ones I’ll be aching to see once I’m back in London.

For now though, I’ll bid you farewell. I have my own press night to focus on next week and I’d best stop speculating before I drive myself mad. Check back soon for a blog featuring Hired Man reviews and some gorgeous production photographs. I’ve got a feeling this will become a very special show to me.

Take care one and all. Be happy. x

“How do you eat an elephant?” he asked.

I paused. I’d rang my dad for a slice of fatherly advice and so far I’d found none, but given there’s very few elephants roaming around the streets of Bolton, I sensed some profound words may be on their way.
I began working on My Land’s Shore the day after Seussical ended. Ever the dedicated worker, and in need of a good night’s sleep, I left the after show party early, leaving Bird Girls, Monkeys and Cats in Hats to handle the JaegerBombs without me.

Seussical was a very special show to me. Beautifully written and performed by a wonderful cast in one of my favourite theatres in London. I wasn’t entirely sure that starting work on a brand new show the following day would feel all that brilliant, but I reasoned that waking up with nothing to do could feel even worse.
And so bright and early the next morning, while the rest of my cast crawled drunkenly into their beds, I crawled sleepily in the other direction, script in hand, ready to start work on My Land’s Shore.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that certain which character I was supposed to be playing. I only received the script two days earlier and with my head firmly in Seussical-mode, I felt terribly underprepared. I introduced myself to the company during the meet and greet with a “Hi, I’m Dave and I’m playing Richard…I think?”. A chorus of giggles flew back as it slowly dawned on me that, “Yes” I was playing Richard and, “Yes” Richard was the lead role, featured in almost every scene and breaking into song at every opportunity.
I don’t mind telling you, I walked home with tears in my eyes that evening. The reality of saying goodbye to such an enjoyable show, just hours before undertaking a difficult new project had gotten the better of me. But with two short weeks until our workshop performance, it was time to get to work.

I sat down that night and began learning the material. For two weeks I worked day in and day out, exploring this fantastic character and learning his words. I had a mountain to climb. One that at first glance seemed utterly insurmountable.
But that’s why we have family and friends, right? So that in those moments of stress, reasonable or otherwise, you can offload and confide in a friendly pair of ears and let them calm you down.

And so with a mountain to climb, or an elephant to eat, I phoned my dad.

“How do you eat an elephant?” He asked.

“A spoonful at a time”

So following his advice, I made a start.
I chipped away.
I nibbled a leg.
And two weeks later, I took my bow having polished off that pesky elephant and fallen in love with another fantastic show along the way.
It’s bizarre to see how quickly a seemingly impossible task can become something incredibly fun and rewarding.
Two weeks a go I started work on The Hired Man.

Anyone fancy a hippo?

NEW STUFF

Just a quick note to say, the site has been updated with all manner of new stuff. Have a nosey around and check out the new additions, including an all new About section, a new track in Music and a brand new Gallery featuring rehearsal, performance and promotional photos from SEUSSICAL. There’s also a couple of gig photos thrown in for good measure. I’ll be adding TOMMY rehearsal and performance shots very soon, as well as some new headshots, so keep ‘em peeled and pop by anytime.

While you’re here, feel free to revisit some of the old stuff too, you’ll find a load of SUPERSTAR performances in my Video section and many more rambling Blogs if you scroll down. What a lovely way to spend your evening!

Take care chums! x

THE REVIEWS KEEP ON COMING!

So as we begin our second week of SEUSSICAL, the reviews continue to pop up in our inboxes and I still find myself nervously skimming the last few lines to make sure it’s a positive one. Every review has been so lovely about our show. Some have had their criticisms, but all seem to agree that this is a great show, driven by wonderful writing and a energetic and talented cast. I’m very proud of this lovely bunch and I’m so glad the show has been so well received.

And so, if you’ll indulge me for a minute, I’d like to blow our very large Seussical trumpet with a load of quotes…

“If you’re looking for a family show with something more than panto’s stock characters and sledgehammer humour, Seussical is just the thing.”

“It really is that rarest of beasts, a show for all the family.”
(BroadwayWorld)

“The resolution, as in the best children’s stories, is at once empowering, clever and surprising.”

“David Hunter’s single-minded, kind and beleaguered Horton the Elephant is a superb, sensitive creation.”
(The Public Reviews)

“It is a crazy and colourful Christmas show for children of all ages.”

“We meets the most loveable character Horton the elephant, played by a most lovable actor, David Hunter - you could warm your hands at his personality.” 
(RemoteGoat)

“There are several strong performances within the cast, such as ITV Superstar’s David Hunter as the endearing Horton, whose delightful rendition of ‘Alone In The Universe’ will tug at the heart strings and is one of the highlights of the show.”
(Bargain Theatre)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the entire company are wonderfully cast in their roles and have worked so hard to bring these characters to life. Bargain Theatre picked out a few names for extra praise…

“Clarke Devlin’s JoJo features an impressive vocal range along with superb acting ability. Jessica Parker as Mayzie La Bird delivers a powerhouse vocal and is delightfully ditzy. Kirsty Ayers as Gertrude McFuzz also stands out in a characterful and quirky performance.”

And finally, a word from Mark Shenton, one of theatre’s most respected (and feared) critics. He watched the show the morning after press night and took to twitter with his thoughts…

@ShentonStage : Yesterday started with Sell A Door’s kids’ version of Ahrens & Flaherty’s Seussical. A big improvement on Broadway original!

@ShentonStage : A young, enthusiastic cast for Seussical give it their all; David Hunter as Horton the Elephant is a delight!

Read the full reviews at the links below
and buy your tickets at www.seussical-london.com

Thanks for reading one and all! x


http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=9292

http://bargaintheatreland.com/seussical-2/

http://www.whatsonthefringe.com/seussical-review/

http://westend.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Reviews-SEUSSICAL-Arts-Theatre-December-9-2012-20121210

http://onestoparts.com/review-seussical-arts-theatre

https://twitter.com/ShentonStage

THE REVIEWS ARE IN!

Yesterday, me and the rest of the Seussical cast stepped on stage for our press performance and stared into a dark auditorium, full to the brim with theatre critics.

Time to be judged!

It’s an anxious wait the following morning as reviews start to trickle in, but so far they’ve been great. I hope you don’t mind me pulling out a few quotes and celebrating the show’s success. If you’re already cringing, then look away now…!

***** 

Aw, you stayed!

For me, the best thing about the reviews so far, has been their comments on this fantastic cast. I’ve worked with these guys now for about a month and I can tell you they’ve worked their tiny buns off to make this production what it is. Everyone is so well cast in their roles and their work is brilliant. Here’s what the reviews had to say…

“The entire cast exudes playfulness with their characters, without patronising their young audience.”
(The Upcoming)

“All the cast do a stunning job of telling the tales on stage with great energy, top notch vocals, harmonies, and an array of costumes”
(backstagepass)

They’ve also noted the quality of the show itself. Followers of this blog, or all the nonsense I spout on twitter, will know how much I love this material. The songs are so beautifully written and the script is witty, clever and full of heart…

“All songs, put together by Tony Award winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Aherns, are catchy and foot tapping for both children and big kids alike.”
(GayTimes)

“Perfect fare for audiences young and old as Seuss’ timeless themes of belonging, compassion and childhood shine through accompanied by a bizarre mix of characters and glorious mix of songs.”
(The Stage)

And finally, I’ll leave it to these two reviews to summarise…

“An adorable alternative to the Christmas panto: a reasonably priced, genuinely joyful and principled production.”
(BroadwayBaby)

“Seussical is 80 minutes of outrageous family fun.”
(West End Frame)

I feel very lucky that people have said some lovely things about me too. If you can stand the cringe factor of me posting this on my own blog, have a read…

“Superstar finalist David Hunter is utterly enchanting as Horton The Elephant”
(The Stage)

“A clever synthesis of several stories involving a kind-hearted elephant, beautifully done by David Hunter.”
(Whatsonstage)

“Since David was a finalist on ITV’s Superstar everyone has been itching to see him back in the West End and he certainly does not disappoint.”
(West End Frame)

If you haven’t thrown up yet, here’s a biggun…

“David Hunter…brings such an endearing quality to Horton that it’s hard not to push Gertrude out of the way to gain his affections first. His natural connection to the audience takes everybody along for the ride with him, and you can’t help but be on his side. Hunter’s singing voice is as strong as ever, and his seamless ability to act throughout every song makes us question why he didn’t reach the final of ITV1′s Superstar. Although Lord Webber’s loss is Seussical’s huge gain.”
(SoSoGay)

And there we are! Some fantastic reviews that i’m so pleased to be able to share with you. We’re revving up to the Christmas Holidays now and hopefully this means larger crowds and even more fun! This cast deserve to be seen, so please buy your tickets and join us for a giggle! Let me know when you’re coming and I’ll come and say hello with a cuppa tea!

Thanks for reading…and not vomiting!
 

Read the full reviews at the links below…

http://www.whatsonstage.com/reviews/theatre/london/E8831354869732/Seussical.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/37826/seussical?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheStageReviews+%28The+Stage+%2F+Reviews%29

http://sosogay.co.uk/stage-review/review-seussical-arts-theatre/

http://www.westendframe.com/2012/12/Review-Seussical.html

http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2012/12/07/theatre-review-seussical-at-the-arts-theatre-2/

http://www.broadwaybaby.com/listing.php?id=17987

http://www.backstagepass.biz/2012/12/theatre-review-seussical-arts-theatre.html

http://www.gaytimes.co.uk/Interact/Blogs-articleid-9404-sectionid-762.html

Seussical on the Tubesical

Next time you’re riding up the escalators in Central London, put down your Metro for a moment and keep an eye out for these wonderful Seussical posters lining the station walls! If you spot one, let us know and you could win a signed copy. That’s nice innit!

www.seussical-london.com
@Seussical_LDN 

I haven’t been into town to have a look yet, so I probably won’t win a poster. Damn.

The Doctor Will Amaze You Now

We’ve reached the end of the second week of Seussical rehearsals and we are powering thorough the material. Opening night is fast approaching (Tuesday the 4th of December…he types, nervously) and I think we could have a very special show on our hands. Touch wood!

I think the most striking thing about the show is how fantastically well written it is. A lot of the text is lifted straight from the Dr Seuss books and it’s been a pleasure to explore his world in so much detail. His wordplay is outrageous and ingenious in equal measure and his crazy characters are beautifully crafted and so “real”.

And This is no coincidence, because while he dresses his characters in floppy ears and feathered tails, it becomes clearer with every word that Seuss is writing about real life.

Before Theodor Seuss Geisel became known for his Grinches and Whos, he had been a political cartoonist and he obviously didn’t leave his ideals behind when he moved on to more colourful characters. With this in mind, i wanted to share this image with you. A collection of lovely Seuss covers, with their subtext printed in place of the titles. 

(Top Row, left-right)
The Butter Battle Book
The Sneetches
The Cat in the Hat
The Lorax
(Bottom Row)
Yertle The Turtle
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Green Eggs and Ham
Horton Hears A Who 

So any of you wondering if it’s okay to pop along to Seussical without the kiddies, the answer is a resounding YES! There’s a lot to discover in the Fantastical World of Dr Seuss!

Here’s a few links for you…

Official Website:
www.seussical-london.com

Interview inc. Rehearsal Footage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhXg18gPIa0

The good Doctor on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss 

Lots of love to one and all!

Dave. x

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