A ‘sell out’ show – but it didn’t impress me, I’m sad to say.
To begin with, I should make it clear that I admire Susan Boyle. I appreciate that she struggled against the odds to achieve her dream, and I am delighted that she has been successful. She has an engaging personality and a wonderful voice, and her success as a recording artiste is well-deserved.
However, this review is about the show itself – the world premiere of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.
I don’t like to be negative, and have thought hard before posting this – especially in the light of all the rave reviews. However, as a musical, I have to admit that I found it disappointing. ‘Low-budget’ and ‘padded-out’ are the adjectives that best describe this show – in my clearly ‘minority’ opinion.
If you are expecting a musical of similar caliber to Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Phantom, Jersey Boys, Blood Brothers etc, you will probably be disappointed. The fact that tickets for all of these musicals are very similar in price might lead you to expect that this is a similarly wonderful production. In my opinion, it doesn’t come anywhere close!
The whole show seemed ‘amateurish’ to me, I’m sad to say. Apart from Elaine C Smith, there are only eleven in the cast – and, in my opinion, none of them stand out as memorable singers, dancers or actors. I thought the script banal, the choreography uninspired, and the acting wooden.
The set never changes (it’s little more than a bare stage with a backdrop of tv screens) and the songs are all re-workings of hymns or hits made famous by other people. You leave the theatre with ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ in your head – but this signature song is from another show!! All a bit of a cheat really, when you think about it – especially considering the price of the tickets!
All in all, I feel this is a very flimsy attempt at a musical. It has little substance and can surely only appeal to audiences caught up in the national emotional hysteria of Susan Boyle’s story. I honestly expected a better production for the price of my £39-ish ticket!
To end on a positive note, Elaine C Smith is excellent as Susan, and it was nice to see Susan herself singing two songs at the end of the show.
- Joan Gibson
07 Apr 12
I only attend local theatre, but if this musical with the original cast comes to America, I will travel across the country to see it! I will also bring a half dozen of my family and friends. We love Susan and can't get enough of her and her story! Patricia from Texas - Patricia from Texas
06 Apr 12
I can't wait for it to come us the US. It's about time we revived an appreciation for music that is beautiful to listen to. - Mary
05 Apr 12
I cannot express how much this production has impressed my life! I saw one preview, the premier and the night after the premier. I could see it again and again. Elaine was a total surprise to me, as I am from the US and did not know of her before. She is a marvel! Even her mannerisms are complete Susan! What a treat. She made me laugh and she made me cry. Her At Seventeen touched me deeply in her interpretation and the context of the play. Loved the Scarlet Ribbons and cried again at the dad's death scene when Susan, her mom and her dad sang 3 different songs simultaneously. Perfect!! Then, of course, there was Susan! Words cannot express hearing her live and in the flesh! She is beyond belief! Cannot wait for this show to come to the US! - Jean
05 Apr 12
Saw 2 previews and Opening Night and could see it a dozen times again. Wonderful and can stand alone without the simply amazing Susan Boyle. - Betty Adams
05 Apr 12
I have already seen this production twice and I cannot wait to see it again - in fact I can't imagine ever being tired of seeing it. The script is faultless and the acting is sensitive and authentic, hilariously funny and deeply sad. If you are somebody who has never understood all this hype about Susan Boyle, this show will surprise and enlighten you. Definitely not to be missed. - Moll
04 Apr 12
This is a show for the entire family to enjoy. I've seen dozens of tweets from teens who were reluctantly coerced to go with granny who came out tweeting that they loved it. And what's not to love? It never drags, entertains with slick dance routines, keeps you laughing with funny scenes, and watch out - when it's sad, you'll be in a puddle of tears in spite of yourself. The set is a clever show in and of itself, and the cast are real pros. I've never heard a more tenderly sung Scarlet Ribbons. Elaine C. Smith deserves every theater award she is going to get from this show. Susan Boyle herself turns out to be more charismatic and powerful than you ever imagined she could be. The entire production generates so much positive energy it could light up the entire West End for a year. Forget you're too urbane and sophisticated to like anything to do with Susan Boyle and just go and have a great time! - Cindy
04 Apr 12
Pleeeease come to the USA with the original cast. - NewYorkUSA
04 Apr 12
i was privileged to see this show two nights. I have been involved in theater for nearly 60 years and this is outstanding theater. It is superbly written, and brilliantly acted. Elaine C Smith was a delight and I must admit a bit of a surprise for me. I expected her to be good. She far exceeded my expectations. The show is tight, seamless and a delight from start to finish. Hearing the "real" Susan Boyle is of course a magical experience, but this show is stand alone and even without the incredible Miss Boyle, the show is complete. It deserves a run at the West End and Miss Smith, her fellow cast members, and all involved with the production deserve kudos and awards. Well done, all!! - Carol
04 Apr 12
Absolutely superb, I laughed, I cried ,I clapped until my hands hurt. The best musical I have seen for a long time and I am sure it will be around for a very long time. Susan was indeed the icing on the cake but the whol cast and particularly Elaine deserve the highest praise, a complete joy from beginning to end. Very much hope it does come to the West End, I will be the first in the queue. - Ann Whittle.
04 Apr 12
Terrific performance by Elaine C Smith - acting and singing her heart out in her portrayal of Susan Boyle at Newcastle's beautiful Theatre Royal: a poignant tale of a family life in a small Scottish mining town, and Susan's sudden rise to fame. Elaine was well supported by the whole cast and orchestra and of course the final appearance of Susan Boyle herself to sing I Dreamed a Dream crowned a truly memorable evening. Standing ovations all round were well deserved and I would recommend this musical to everyone. Hopefully, the West End calls ! - Donald Robertson
04 Apr 12
WONDERFUL review!!! Can't wait for it to come to the US!! - Laura B
28 Mar 12
Elaine is marvelous and the show itself has everything, both tears and laughter and fast-paced action. When Subo comes on at the end, it's the mind blowing icing on a first rate cake. Great evening in the theater. - sam worden
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