Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: It’s been Show busy!

This column is a little later than usual, purely down to my busyness, or showbusyness as I like to call it. Over the last week I have seen seven shows, conducted five interviews and also met my first deadline for the Greenwich Weekender.

I’ve also done two restaurant reviews and hobnobbed with the stars at the Chelsea Flower Show as well as recording my weekly segment for BBC Radio Kent.

My feet have barely touched the ground and with three deadlines in Dorset looming my writing head has become a little frazzled.

It’s been fantastic but with a house move also getting ever closer, I have begun to panic about getting everything done.

Luckily there’s always a helpful person around to advise you on how best to manage your workload. I’ve had at least eight people ask if I’ve thought about writing a list and I’ve had to stifle my sarcasm about the wonderfully in-depth counsel!

Anyway, the shows I’ve seen lately have been a mixed bag. I watched the tour of The Play That Goes Wrong (excellent), The Addams Family (sensational), Richard III (a bit slow), The Color Purple in concert (amazing), Samantha Barks Live, with special guest Kerry Ellis (great), Judy! (fantastic) and a show I’m not going to mention, because it was so bad, I had to leave at the interval for fear of a hysterical attack.

I watch a lot of amateur shows, so I’m used to things occasionally being rough around the edges, but this ‘professional’ production was so poor, I felt it best not to pass comment on it at all.

The Celebrity count has been very high this week too, because I went to Chelsea Flower Show on Press day.

Sadly, I was on my own so I couldn’t engage in the hilarious celebrity touching game and there were few famous faces I hadn’t seen before. I guess I’ve got so used to seeing celebs now, that it would take the likes of Madonna, Kylie or RuPaul to really get me excited.

Joan Collins looked amazing among the roses in the main Pavilion however and Kelly Brook seemed very friendly as she supped on bubbly. It was nice to see Peter Kay again wandering around in the sunshine and I was a bit in awe of Paralympic Gold Medalist Ellie Simmonds.

I always find it funny that if you walk with confidence, people assume you’re someone worth looking at and take a second glance to check whether you’re famous or not, so yes, I did pretend to be someone, with my head held high. It’s the simplest little games, which amuse me!

Next week, a work experience minion is joining me in the form of my teenage daughter, so my London trip will be filled with food and drink stops. I’m seeing Wicked again (well, 26 times just isn’t enough!) and Woyzeck at the Old Vic, starring John Boyega. I’m then off to see Miss Meena and the Masala Queens at Greenwich Theatre, which looks fabulous.

You can read all of reviews and interview on my website and follow me on Twitter for all of the latest news @NickySweetland


Review: “The musical really took flight” ★★★★★ The Color Purple Gala Concert, Cadogan Hall

Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel was first adapted into a musical by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell and Allee Willis in 2005 and enjoyed a celebrated run on Broadway.

Following an acclaimed production at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013, the show received a revival on the Great White Way and once again had critics in raptures about its heart breaking story and sensational score.

Seyi Omooba, Marisha Wallace and Rachel John

There have been rumours of a West End production looming, but so far nothing has materialised. Instead, producer Danielle Tarento decided to present a charity gala concert version of the show at Cadogan Hall last night and with a cast of West End stage stars, the musical really took flight.

The show was led by Marisha Wallace, who is currently alternating with Amber Riley in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre and after this performance, I’m sure a few more people will be booking tickets to see her. The American singer displayed an amazing ability to extract every ounce of emotion from the sensitive lyrics and her powerful, yet resonant vocals filled the cavernous auditorium with ease. Her rendition of “I’m here” resulted in a spontaneous standing ovation.

She was matched by rising star Seyi Omooba as her sister Nettie who also captured the very heart of her character, despite performing in a stationary position throughout.

Tyrone Huntley and Wendy Mae Brown

Rachel John, exhibited rock star quality as Shug Avery and Tyrone Huntley was excellent as the ever optimistic Harpo. Wendy Mae Brown’s raucous Sophia added some comedy to proceedings, while Cavin Cornwall was delightfully detestable as Celie’s abusive husband.

A concert version can never evoke the same range of emotions as a full show, but with sensational individual performances this came close.

The British Theatre Academy presented the charity gala to raise money for young performers who cannot afford to train in performing arts and seeing so many in the gospel choir exuberantly entertaining the sold out audience really brought home how important the funding is.

This story of a young girl who somehow manages to triumph despite huge adversity is still so relevant and definitely deserves another London run.

Photos by Scott Rylander