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Theatre Review: When Midnight Strikes - Upstairs at the Gatehouse ✭✭✭✭

When Midnight Strikes
Upstairs at the Gatehouse

13th September 2013: It's not very often a British musical comes knocking on your doorstep, and I for one am glad I opened my door to this one, I can sum this show up in one word - Brilliant!

It is set in New York on New Year's Eve 1999 - the dawn of a new millennium - and Jennifer West's intimate dinner party for close friends and family begins to fall apart upon the discovery that her husband has been having an affair. To make matters worse, she realises that the unknown mistress is one of eleven party guests. As the hosts confront their unraveling marriage, new resolutions, past mistakes, and an uncertain future merge into an explosive and life-altering evening.

Miranda Wilford as Jennifer
Photo by Steve Stubbs
With book and Lyrics by Kevin Hammonds and music by Charles Miller, they have here a beautifully thought out piece of work, which has been brought to life seamlessly by directors Damian Sandys and Grant Murphy. The set design is simple but effective, Kemey Lafond's New York apartment has a sofa, mini bar and a baby grand piano, with sliding doors to the roof terrace. The cocktail style lounge setting for the piano sits perfectly within the action of the party. Matt Ramplin does a great job on the piano throughout, accompanied by Marta Tobar on cello, which adds depth and warmness to compliment the array of vocals on show, which are nicely balanced out with the instruments and cityscapes from sound designer Sepehr Malek.

With a cast of twelve on stage, it is hard to single anybody out. This is ensemble theatre at it's very best and is of incredibly high standard. All the performers show an edge and rawness to their roles. Newley Aucutt as the hapless Edward has great visuals along with his singing and there are moments he has with next door neighbour Murial, played by Lucyelle Cliffe, which are pure comedy gold.

Newley Aucutt (Edward) & Lucyelle Cliffe (Murial)
Photo by Steve Stubbs
Miranda Wilford plays a stunning portrayal of the gutsy and not to be messed with Jennifer, the host of the party who discovers her husband has been having an affair, and later in the story, she discovers the woman who he has been dilly-dallying with is actually there at the party! Well, the interval conversations in the bar are rife with guesses of who it could be, which just goes to show the power and thought-provoking piece this is.

Another of the many stand out vocals for me though is from Jessica Anne Ball as Josephine, who sings a flawless version of 'Never Learned to Type'. The effortless power and emotion brought to the song brings you out in goosebumps and also brings a lump to your throat. Sarah Harlington's Twyla (Jennifer's sister) also has a beautiful voice.

'You Know How to Love Me' is yet again another heart wrenching song which is incredibly well sung, and some of the music in When Midnight Strikes has a Sondheim feel to it, bringing clever and witty lyrics at times to add humour to the proceedings. Catchy little numbers like 'Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em' give a Latin-esque infusion, which lends it's way to some nice choreography from Ellie Rutherford.

Jessica Anne Ball (Josephine)
Photo by Steve Stubbs
When Midnight Strikes is a very welcome addition to the London theatre scene, and I am delighted it is here, because it means new writing gets to be performed by a cast and creative team who are there to entice and excite, and audiences are in for treat. 

Don't wait for midnight to strike to get a ticket as they will sell out quick, go and see without delay! Fingers crossed it transfers to the West End as soon as possible...

Four stars ✭✭✭✭

Listings

WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES
UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE, Highgate Village, London, N6 4BD

Wednesday 11th to Sunday 29th September.

Booking Office: 020 8340 3488

Sarah Harlington (Twyla)
Photo by Steve Stubbs
Ticket Prices:

All Seats £10 Previews: Wednesday 11th to Friday 13th September*
Saturday 14th and Sun 15th September - £16 (£14 concessions)*
Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th September - £14 (£12 concessions)*
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd - £16 (£14 concessions)*
Tuesday 24th to Sunday 29th - £18 (£16 concessions)*
*Credit cards incur .50p charge per ticket.

Performance Schedule:

7.30pm Tuesday to Saturday and 4.00pm on Sundays. 

Travel:
BY TUBE #1: HIGHGATE STATION
(Northern Line – High Barnet Branch - plus 10 minute walk - Zone 3).
Exit 3. Cross Archway Road then walk up and to the end of Southwood Lane. Look to the right and you will see
The Gatehouse Pub, a large mock-Tudor building on a roundabout. Entrance to the theatre is through the pub.
[NB: Exit 3 is temporarily closed until mid October 2013 as part of refurbishment works at the station. Please take Exit 1 via the steps to the car park and up the slope. Cross Archway Road and then walk up Jackson's Lane, at the end of the road turn left onto Southwood Lane.]

BY TUBE #2: ARCHWAY STATION
(Northern Line – High Barnet branch - plus a steep hill walk for 20 minutes OR a 5 minute bus ride - Zone 2&3).
Turn left out of the main exit and left into Highgate Hill.
Take either 143, 210, or 271 up the hill to Highgate Village from Bus stop E.

BY BUS:
143 (Archway - East Finchley - Brent Cross)
210 (Finsbury Park - Golders Green - Brent Cross)
214 (Highgate - Kentish Town - Camden - Angel - Old Street - Liverpool Street)
271 (Highgate - Highbury & Islington - Old Street - Liverpool Street)

BY CAR:

Free parking after Noon in residents parking bays and pay and display bays.

Parking permitted on single yellow lines after 6.30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends


(please check the roadside signs)

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