University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

My Favourite Show…

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ByBadger Admin

Apr 25, 2024

IN THE HEIGHTS

Written by: Santiago Buitrago, Staff Writer

We can’t talk about Lin-Manuel Miranda without discussing the international hit that was Hamilton, and how it established Miranda’s voice as a fresh and unique take on musicals in the mainstream. Miranda, though busy with a multitude of acting roles, continued his work on musicals after Hamilton, working on the Disney movie Encanto and having his directorial debut with the wonderful Tick, Tick… Boom! Still, not too many people have explored his first success with In The Heights, the fun, eclectic brainchild of Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, set in the neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City. It is the greatest demonstration of Miranda’s storytelling ability. The show’s story highlights the struggle of Latin-American people living in New York, and the subculture born in places like it, where so many different countries mix. The music is the crux, and further builds upon this idea of platforming voices that otherwise have difficulty being heard. It mixies a multitude of Latin music genres to cement identity into this incredibly moving story about a ‘barrio’ that comes together in crisis. 

COME FROM AWAY

Written by: Lily Gould, Staff Writer

We all know about 9/11 – the deadliest terrorist attack in history – but what we often don’t hear about are the uplifting acts of humanity that came in the immediate aftermath. One of the lesser known details of the attack is that as soon as the planes hit the World Trade Center, every other plane in the American airspace was ordered to land. For many, the only place they could land was Gander International Airport. Come From Away is a musical focusing on one huge, collective act of kindness from the people of Gander, Newfoundland, in the midst of the fallout of 9/11. This show is my favourite because I believe that now, more than ever, we need to be reminded that humanity is strongest when it is kindest. The plot of the musical focuses on 38 planes that were ordered to land at Gander International Airport, resulting in around 7000 passengers on those planes being taken in by the locals of the town. The plot follows multiple stories: a couple breaking up, friendships being formed, and love being found, to name a few. But, the message of the story is clear: that humanity will prevail. The catchy songs are just a bonus to memorable and emotional moments, which really make the musical what it is. Come From Away is currently on tour across the UK.

JIGSAW

Written by: Lyla Amin, Staff Writer

Jigsaw is the second of a memorable two-part, live stand-up show by Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss which is also available on Netflix. The show is wonderfully dynamic, as Sloss uses comedy to tackle tough topics ranging from coming of age, dad jokes, drugs, and death. The slightly pessimistic, dark humour that guides the audience through the show takes you on a journey of emotions, from roaring laughter to almost feeling the grief or losses he has experienced in the past.  The reason this show stands out to me is down to Sloss’s alternative take on relationships. He asks the big questions that people tend to avoid in life, including who you’re meant to be with, when you’re meant to be with them, the sacrifices you make for them, and, most significantly, whether it is worth tackling that fear of loneliness that can drive us to settle for less. I think it’s this conversation that makes the stand-up show unmissable for anyone, as he addresses the blurring lines of what love can be versus what it should be. Although the show is doused in almost constant cynicism, Sloss’s insistent humour makes any topic at least border on hilarity and seem less daunting.

ALEX IN WONDERLAND

Written by: Akshayaa Suresh, Staff Writer

A welcome change from standard stand-up, Alex in Wonderland offers a novel fusion of song, mime, and personal tales. In his two-hour show, Alexander Babu combines humorous sketches, poignant glimpses into his personal journey, and music from Tamil films. Although Babu’s ‘message’ segments may seem simplistic to some, it’s easy to overlook because of his contagious energy and talent. His tribute to musical greats such as AR Rahman, MSV, and Ilaiyaraja is a heartfelt and humorous display of his extraordinary range as a performer. Even if you are not familiar with the language (he uses English liberally, and there are subtitles to help you along) and/or Tamil film music, give it a go! The show’s overall charm and entertainment value are undeniable, despite its slow start and heavy reliance on religious allusions. Even for those who are not familiar with Tamil cinema, Babu’s sincerity and deft storytelling make for an unforgettable viewing experience. While the show’s themes occasionally stray into the known, it is still worth watching again because of its enduring appeal. It’s clear from Babu’s thank-you gestures to his audience that Alex in Wonderland is a celebration of creativity, resiliency, and the joy of music, rather than merely a show. 

CABARET AT THE KIT KAT CLUB

Written by: Katie Mahoney-Roberts, Staff Writer

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club is a musical currently being performed at the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End. This show is a fantastic and immersive experience from the moment you enter the theatre. Phones and photos are restricted as you enter, so every detail remains a secret. Without ruining the surprise, you are encouraged to arrive early to experience incredible live performers, music, and drinks, which lead you to your seats. It is these details which award the show a top rating from me as I have not experienced anything simila prior to viewing Cabaret. You are transported from the streets of London into 1930s Berlin. The show itself is set on a smaller stage so allows the experience to be very intimate, and the show transcends the stage in terms of the physical performance and its visceral sense. It makes you feel so close to the actors, who bring the show to life so well that the stage is barely decorated. The cast is brilliant and has a rotating celebrity playing Sally Bowles. This is currently portrayed by Cara Delevigne but when I watched in June, Maude Apatow was the lead. As the record-breaking winner of seven Olivier Awards, there is no surprise that the show is one of my personal favourites.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE

Written by: Ceylan Akturk, Staff Writer

Shirley Valentine – the one-woman play by Willy Russell, staged in Ankara, Turkey and featuring Bengisu Gürbüzer Doğru in the titular role – fascinated audiences with its touching portrayal of a woman’s journey to self-discovery and liberation. Shirley is a tired, middle-aged Liverpool housewife who finds herself dissatisfied with the labour of her daily routine. When a friend invites her on a vacation to Greece, it flashes an awakening within Shirley that lets her rediscover her sense of self-worth and passion for life. Shirley was given life by Bengisu Gürbüzer Doğru’s portrayal, which precisely handled the character’s emotional complexities with authenticity. Gürbüzer Doğru skilfully captured Shirley’s inner struggle and resiliency, bringing the audience along on her path of transformation, from tender contemplation to sudden outbursts of liberation. The reason why this play was fascinating to me is because of its clever direction and vivid staging, which brought me into Shirley’s world and helped me empathise with her challenges and triumphs. The play effectively conveyed the spirit of Shirley’s oppressive home life, as well as the lively Greek island where she found freedom. For anyone feeling stuck in a rut like Shirley, this play was an encouraging reminder to break free and embrace all life has to offer. 

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By Badger Admin

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