Monday, April 22, 2024

Notes from London, and Streaming: Rose Byrne Gets “Physical,” ABBA Dazzles, Andrew Lloyd Webber Still Has the West End


“Abba Voyage,” is a technological wonder kind of spectacular show featuring the phenomenon that was/is the Swedish band Abba.  I recently got the chance to see this dazzling spectacle in London, where producers built their own state of the art theater. ; The technology draws you into an, entrancement like stupor. Watching gargantuan screens in an equally huge custom-built arena, the 90-minute concert is overflowing with their addictive mega hits.  Combine seeing the holographic “Abbatars” with a terrific live 10-person band, well you can’t help but have literally the best time.  The Abbatars become real people, they chat and laugh with the audience, even come back for an eager encore. The audience, some seated, some standing, dance, clap with joy and mega enthusiasm. Pure Abba appreciation!  Don’t miss it!

Andrew Lloyd Webber currently has no show playing in New York for the first time in modern memory. But his revival of his “Aspects Of Love,” now playing at London’s lyric theater, is proving to have the Webber touch, as it’s a huge hit in the West End. The musical, about complicated, tangled love triangles, was before it’s time when it first premiered in 1989.  Inspired by David Garnett’s 1955 novella, this raunchy, romantic, story of passion, love and heartbreak , directed by Jonathan Kent, takes place in ravaged post war France.  The production value is gorgeous, and Weber’s score, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Don Black, is  poignant and powerful. The sublime Michael Ball singing the shows signature song “Love Changes Everything” brings you to tears.  A definite must see for theater lovers.

Rose Byrne is having a moment. Long known as a comedic powerhouse, “Bridesmaids,” she also shines in dramatic roles i.e. “Damages.”  She has combined both skills in the Apple TV + dark comedy hit “Physical” which just dropped its first two episodes of its third and final season.   Byrne plays Sheila Rubin, an ex 60’s hippie, with deep seated personal demons, now a tormented ( vicious inner voices) San Diego fitness instructor who is trying to build a fitness empire.  Zooey Deschanel is one of the newcomers this season, playing a rival fitness star who taunts Sheila, and she’s terrific.  Byrne is also on the Apple TV + comedy “Platonic” with her good buddy and “Neighbors” co-star Seth Rogen.  Byrne’s Sheila adds another level to her impressive career with this portrayal.  Byrne is simply one of our most versatile, finest actors working today.  If you haven’t seen “Physical” yet, binge it.   Without giving spoilers, “Physical” ends the series on the artistic high bar. 

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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