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The War Of The Worlds at the Dominion Theatre

Published by: Douglas McFarlane on 21st Feb 2016 | View all blogs by Douglas McFarlane

Jimmy Nail, Heidi Range and Michael Praed

 

After the end of We Will Rock You, the Dominion Theatre undertook an extensive amount of refurbishment and the result is a fantastic modern interior with great bars and comfortable spacious seating. 

With this new production, they've also shown how much electricity they can cope with, as the amount of lights, lasers and electronic special effects used would probably require as much power required to run a small village.

It's truly a spectacle of visual entertainment. From the opening bars of the now infamous song, Jeff Wayne commands the violinists, several guitarists, and a multitude of other musicians in the opening number and the chilling words "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one he says......and still they come".  

Over the years, this show has taken on different guises on stage, and it's evolved extensively in this production. Every facet of it has been improved and enhanced, with more cast, more dancers, more lights, more scenery, and it works well.

I loved the artistic elements from the Red Weed, a dozen dancers giving the impression of the all encompassing killer weed.  It reminded me of the 'Hairy Panic' in Australia this week and brought it to life wonderfully.

The original HG Wells story is threaded through the musical composition and spoken by Liam Neeson on a variety of screens which pop up around on stage. He's telling the story years after the invasion and his character is acted out on stage by Michael Praed of Robin of Sherwood fame. There's a great cast including David Essex, Jimmy Nail, Daniel Beddingfield and Heidi Range of Sugababes fame. They each had great character in their voice and they complimented each other well. Much like Les Miserables or Jesus Christ Superstar, the parts required high quality singers with extensive range, and while their singing wasn't to the level of performers like Alfie Boe each of them held their own.

The original radio play of it was in 1938 narrated by Orson Wells, and it created panic across the UK as some listeners thought it was real. I performed in a version of this in Glasgow a number of years ago and it was clear that it would be easy to misinterpret if you'd missed the opening announcements.

The reviews haven't been good in their opening week. I'm not sure what everyone was expecting, but The Times gave it zero stars, and felt everyone was wooden. The Independent agreed and they both mocked the Liam Neeson screens popping up everywhere. Even the Evening Standard called it an "Overblown Display of Prog Rock Romp".

For me, this was great London entertainment and the audience were on their feet at the end which will surely help the production keep it's chin up in face of these negative and unnecessary presss reviews. What do they know anyway ?

 

Get yourself down to see THE WAR OF THE WORLDS at the Dominion Theatre and be prepared to immerse yourself in this 19th century classic brought to life with 21st century style.

 

http://www.dominiontheatre.com/theatre/war-worlds/

 

 

 

 

Comments

2 Comments

  • Elaine Pinkus
    by Elaine Pinkus 1 year ago
    Am going to see it and wasn't looking forward to it, but you have renewed my hope! Thanks.
  • Elaine Pinkus
    by Elaine Pinkus 1 year ago
    Hi, Douglas. Well, I am afraid I agreed with the harsher critics. Although the musicians were excellent and, of course, the score, I too found the staging tedious. Screens popping up and down, leaves floating from on high just didn't work for me. Equally the 'am-dram' choreography irritated, with dancers running to and fro and then the obligatory freeze frame. Maybe it just didn't work in the confined space. Daniel Bedingfield saved the day in part as he shone amongst the actors. I remember seeing it at Wembley a few years ago and loved it. It was atmospheric and the staging superior. So, I am glad you enjoyed this but sadly I didn't. As my husband said, it was not the worst thing he had seen but as I felt, it was not the best!
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