Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fan Review - The Last Ship - CherAnn

Seeing as so many of us are still saving up our pennies to get over to The Last Ship, we're doing our best to get in touch with any 'fans' of Rachel's who have managed to get there, to ask if they'd be interested in writing their own review of the show. We've managed to get a few people involved so far & look forward to many more in the future. Over the next week or so we'll be sharing the first few, but today we bring you the first in our series of 'Fan Reviews' for The Last Ship.

First up we have a review from CherAnn Macuroy..... Spoiler alert ahead (Just in case you don't know much about the show yet).

You can also read a slightly different version of this post directly on CherAnn's blog Van City Gal In London Town with a few extra pictures & links to relevant information, plus some really interesting updates from her about her time in London.

"I’m not the kind of person to write a  review of any kind, but in the past year I’ve  managed to see a few shows in London’s West End & on Broadway. So I thought I’d give it a go. I had heard about The Last Ship mostly because of a certain actress/singer from Ireland who was popular in Wicked in London for about 3 yrs. I had discovered her through someone I knew as well as through a West End actress, also from Wicked, who I had seen perform in 2013. This certain individual who just made her Broadway debut is Rachel Tucker. I had only known about her for the past year and had seen almost all her videos from when she was on BBC’s talent program “I’d Do Anything” and her gigs and “Wicked” performances after that, never seen her live. I had been planning a trip to NYC after being in London this past May 2014 with a British friend who I had met online through a theatre blogging website (ironically). Please check out her review of “The Last Ship” on I had seen a couple of videos of my newfound friend in which she was interviewing Rachel Tucker a few months beforehand.  
Stepping into the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd Street in downtown Manhattan had me on my toes.  Not knowing much about the show, but booking our tickets a few months in advance, my fellow London friend/theatre blogger managed to be upgraded from the Mezzanine to third row from the stage! Her friend, who was just buying a last minute ticket, was also upgraded & got to sit with us! It was Saturday Oct 4th, 2014 and it was the 1st matinee of the show since it hit the stage a few days ago. I guess because it was brand new and not many people knew about the show, the matinee was not sold out. It was a lucky day, indeed! It was so thrilling and exciting to see something brand new & also visiting the city that never sleeps (bucket list check!). 
The opening number, “Island of Souls” really captured the audience with the first main characters Jackie White, Young Gideon, Peggy White, Father O’Brien, Young Meg & the rest of the company. At first, I was freaking out because I saw the redhead girl that was supposedly Meg Dawson… Whom Rachel Tucker was playing, but it was not she. I thought to myself I’d have to see the show again because it was Rachel who I wanted to really see! (Plus, it was my 1st time, ever, to see her perform live). However, as the show progressed & young Gideon left his hometown of Wallsend, & returned 15 years later (played by Michael Esper), “August Winds” brought chills to my body & the spotlight finally shone on Rachel Tucker, the older & matured Meg Dawson. She really drew in the audience, I could tell by the way she portrayed her role. As Sting once described her, she really is tough & tender! It was nice to see her soft sides during some parts of the show & a really sassy side, particularly during her solo performance of “If You Ever See Me Talking to A Sailor” in the hometown pub. Every move that she made, every expression, every laugh, every sad or angry moment… you could see and feel her talent oozing, & she made it so raw & believable! I found it really fascinating how Sting was able to tweak and work his music around her vocals and make it her own. I’m not too familiar with the accents of that part of the UK, but everyone’s accents seemed so perfect! Even Rachel’s accent seemed perfect which was tweaked due to her Northern Irish accent.  “The Last Ship” that is first sung by Father O’Brien is one of my favourites… I love how they bring it back as part II and in the Finale.  I thoroughly enjoyed the love triangle between Meg, Gideon & Arthur… another favourite I’d have to say is “When We Dance”. The lyrics are absolutely beautiful. It has amazing harmonies and Rachel’s vocals in this particular song was so stunningly gorgeous that balanced the two other actor’s voices which made the piece daunting, luring, and pretty-waltz-like at the same time. I have been listening to this song (Sting’s version) many times… I cannot wait for an official cast album! 
Act II began with “Mrs. Dees’ Rant” sung by Mrs. Dees and the women, including Rachel Tucker. There was no specific announcement when the intermission/interval was over, except for the flicker of lights out in the lobby. The actresses just came out of nowhere and began singing at the corner of downstage left (with a drink at hand) while people were still out in the lobby, in the restroom, or heading to their seats. All the house lights were on, which made it more like a personal interactive performance in which we could all take part in and clap along. It was so fun and a great way to start the second act! Mrs. Dees definitely is a powerhouse! One of my favourite scenes in this part of the show was the prison cell with Tom Dawson with his biological father, Gideon. You learn how similar they can be and how they form some sort of bond, through “The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance” (another soulful, daunting waltz)… I especially liked when Meg Dawson entered the scene, shouting at the top of her lungs and cursing like there’s no tomorrow. Haha! All the comical moments were really on point and it was so entertaining. Closer to the end of the show you get a strong, heartfelt performance of Gideon on his own for a good amount of time. I could really feel tears forming in my eyes, and could not stop them from streaming down my face in the Finale of the show. To not spoil the story, you really feel for all the characters at the end, especially for Meg and Tom.  
This piece of theatre is really a masterpiece in itself; it was like a breath of fresh air! I felt my heart go to my throat several times due to the talent that just blew me away. I was born in the 80’s and know very few songs of Sting & The Police, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It was so interesting to learn about Sting’s past and the way he shared his story through each scene and song. I enjoyed every moment of it that I had to see it again, two days later! I couldn’t get enough of the music; and to meet Rachel Tucker at the stage door afterwards really was a dream come true! A huge inspiration, that topped my trip for sure! The stage is the perfect size, the set transitions are beautiful to watch (particularly the shipyard), the cast is incredibly talented, the soulful music (Celtic-y/choral singing & harmonies) is gorgeous and catchy, the lyrics have so much heart and are absolutely brilliant, and the story is incredibly captivating. I must say (for me), Rachel Tucker stole the show! I honestly could not keep my eyes off of her! I’m not being biased, but most of the cast is made up of men and there are only a few women (who are all strong vocally), but there was something about Rachel that made the audience fall in love with Meg Dawson. I recommend anyone in Manhattan or visiting NYC to check out The Last Ship. If I were a local I would make an attempt to see this show on a regular basis to support this piece of art & the fantastic, talented cast. It deserves so much and it would be fantastic to see in the UK, where the story originates. It is worth every penny & more. 5 stars!  
FYI: there is what they call a “Saturday Night Scream” I believe before or after the show on Saturdays where the cast of The Last Ship sing/serenade their neighbours of Jersey Boys over at the August Wilson Theatre across the street. The cast recently sang some Lionel Richie right outside the stage door & front entrance of the Neil Simon Theatre!
 - C.A. Macuroy T., North Vancouver, BC, Canada"

Thanks so much Cherann for being the first brave person to share their thoughts for our blog. We really appreciate you taking the time to write such a great review & letting us feature it here.

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