"The Production of She looks and sounds stunning. I am sure it will be a hit. Good luck to all the cast and crew." (Mark Lester - leading actor in the movie 'Oliver!')
"A unique musical and theatrical feast from the cream of the British music scene." (Nick Shilton, The Classic Rock Magazine)
"Drama, Pathos, Intrigue, it’s like an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical! [...] Part Weber musical, part Danny Elfman soundtrack, and all Clive Nolan..." (Terry Jackson, Prognaut)
"This is not just an album. It's an event! (Musical Discoveries)
'She' in Cheltenham 2016: A Review by Simon Lewis (The Echo)
'SHE' Caamora Theatre Company The Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham 3rd September 2016.
You know you’ve seen something good when you drop everything to go and see it again - and again. Worthy of such sustained attention is She - The Musical which echoed thrillingly round the Playhouse auditorium once more, as Caamora Theatre stopped by with their latest adaptation of Clive Nolan’s east African adventure based on the novel by Henry Rider Haggard.
This was my third encounter with Ayesha et al. and, to be honest, I’m not going to zero in on every last production detail that dominated my two previous reviews. Suffice to say that She - Mark III was everything I expected it to be. Under director Ian Baldwin, this mystical rock opera remains a healthy living organism, thoughtfully re-inventing itself, with new scenes, costumes and staging deservedly raising seasoned eyebrows.
'She' in Cheltenham 2015: A Review by Simon Lewis (The Echo)
It is a measure of the musical talent and pulling power of a musician of the stature of Clive Nolan that his Fire and Quest event at Cheltenham Playhouse was sold out long before opening night. Such a feat is all the more remarkable when you consider that a substantial proportion of the audience had flown in from as far afield as The Netherlands, Poland and even Brazil. Native English speakers became almost an ethnic minority, keeping a low profile in the front stalls, as the shows opening, doom-laden chords re-echoed round the packed auditorium.
Back in town to celebrate Gloucestershire-born Nolans success in the sphere of musical theatre, Caamora Theatre Company presented their reworked production of She, a musical based on the late 19th century novel by H. Rider Haggard that received its European première at the Playhouse in 2012. Under new director Ian Baldwin, the second act had undergone some substantial alterations, and from a logistical point of view, this was a step-up from the crowded house presentation of three years ago. Most importantly, the band had vacated the stage, giving it all a lot more room to breathe, and creating space for a set comprising two cleverly adaptable screens functioning as temples, tombs and the jungle-infested tropics.
'She in Cheltenham 2012: A Review by Stephen Lambe (Classic Rock Society)
She Must Be Obeyed
As many will know, the Clive Nolan’s dramatic musical adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s romantic melodrama was first produced as a double album and recorded as a live DVD back in 2008. Since then, it has been produced in a concert format at the Boerderii in Zoetermeer in Holland, and a sumptuous stage version in Bolivia in 2010. For this first UK stage production, a slightly more modest setting had been chosen, Cheltenham’ s cosy 200 seat Playhouse Theatre. The chosen format was to mix many of the principle singers and players from the original production with a supporting cast of enthusiastic locals.
Joining Agnieszka Swita in the title role of Ayesha, the 2000 year old Queen, were former Pallas frontman Alan Reed as Holly and Magenta’s Christina Booth as Ustane, plus drummer Scott Higham and guitarist Mark Westwood. With Clive wisely stepping down from the lead role of Leo, new face David Clifford (who some will remember as the drummer in 1990s prog-folkers Red Jasper) stepped in, his clean cut, matinee idol good looks almost perfect for the role, not to mention his excellent singing voice. As a local man, David also took on the demanding double role of producer and director of this challenging production.
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: A Review by Simon Lewis (The Echo)
The rock opera remains a rarity, but every so often, a new one drops by and grabs you forcefully by the throat. Into this distinguished fraternity strides Clive Nolan’s 'She', an exotic, visually stunning pageant that is Cleopatra grafted onto 'Journey tothe Centre of the Earth', and set to a driving music score that evokes the great days of progressive rock.
Nonetheless, anyone unfamiliar with the original novel, to which this striking interpretation remains largely faithful, might well have a hard time following the storyline and working out who’s who. The curse that threatened to undo this brilliantly-conceived adaptation of Rider Haggard’s tale and compromise its long-anticipated European première was the sound system: for the better part of its two-hour duration, it was all a shade too loud, especially for an intimate theatre like the Playhouse, and much of the singing, though strong and convincing throughout, was frustratingly unclear. Increased volume doesn’t always equal excellence, yet for all that, the music itself was bold, symphonic, martial, even savage, and imbued with powerful echoes of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Jean-Michel Jarre.
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: A Review by Magdalena Grabias
The Epic Journey of 'She'
It has been a long way that Clive Nolan's 'She' has gone since its first performance at the Wyspianski Theatre in Poland. This first show in 2007, a few months later released on DVD for viewing pleasure of fans all over the world, was more of a concert version enriched by some theatrical elements like costumes, props or indeed the venue itself - a stylish theatre dating back to the turn of the 20th century. The audience assembled that night in Katowice consisted mainly of progressive rock enthusiasts - admirers of talents of many of their idols gathered for this occasion.
Many travelled across the country to watch this curious event which brought Clive Nolan, Alan Reed, Christina Booth, John Jowitt, Mark Westwood and numerous other prog giants together on one stage. Not with less interest were we watching the leading lady of the show, a Polish singer Agnieszka Swita, whose star was just beginning to shine. By the end of the show, not a soul in the audience had any doubts as to the reasons of Clive's choice. Agnieszka proved to be perfect for the role of the immortal Queen, Ayesha and charmed the audience with her powerful voice and charismatic performance.
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: The Final Chapter Part One
More than a year and a half of collective efforts of the 'She' cast and crew was reflected in four days and five Cheltenham performances in February 2012. The first UK production, featuring two different casts, a chorus, a live band, and dancers, was received with enthusiastic reactions from both the audiences and critics, which combined with creative passion of the artists added up to more than a satisfying experience.
Clive Nolan: I am still buzzing from the 'She' shows last week. What a journey it was, to bring my musical to life, and I can only thank every one of those involved for making it a brilliant experience. I think we did something we can all be proud of, and it just shows what can be possible. Specials thanks must go to David Clifford for his superb efforts in directing 'She': it might have been his first experience as director, but it should certainly be not his last! People keep asking me what I 'really think' about these shows, and my answer is the best proof I can offer... I hope everyone of you will stay with us, and get involved with our next big adventure... 'Alchemy'!
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: The Final Chapter Part Two
David Clifford (Producer/Director/Leo): Drummers don't really talk to keyboard players or singers; it's a social strata thing (I'll leave you to judge which way around), so despite the fact I have known Clive for many years, when our bands toured together we never really spoke much. So embarking on this epic journey in the last 18 months was without any more foundation than a passing nod between dressing rooms. I think we've learned a lot about each other and the process involved in putting a full musical on.
We both came armed with our own camps (unfortunate term given the circumstances) of people and merged two tribes. We have built between us a really solid team now that really pulled together when it counted coming into the shows. I would not in this instance want to single anyone out for praise (although one or two spring to mind) because they all worked damn hard and produced the goods. I am proud to be working with each and every one of them; front and back of stage. Based on what we have achieved so far; I think anyone out there would be stupid to miss 'Alchemy' in Sept 2013.
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: A Review by Pete Waite
I think it is safe to say that when you watch a musical production like this (or opera or ballet) you get most out of it if you have some idea of what the story is about beforehand. So, to prepare for this trip, we watched the DVD of the show in Poland and both Mrs P and I have been listening to the live recording on iPods and in the car. I think this really helped.
We arrived in Cheltenham early enough to see the understudies do the matinee performance, which was more enjoyable than perhaps you might imagine. The understudies were normally members of the chorus and they were all markedly different in appearance and styles compared to their counterparts. There was quite a good turn-out crowd-wise so we got seats towards the back.
'She' in Cheltenham 2012: A Review by Mel Nicholls
The Understudies Show
I was lucky enough to be able to watch 'She' at The Playhouse Theatre last Saturday for the matinee performance. I did not know what to expect as had not heard of the story before or seen a performance at this theatre.
I was spellbound straight away, not only from the actors before me but also the music, a strong rock core with fantastic percussion that was the heartbeat of the performance.
The lead cast were convincing and captivating, Chris Lewis as Holly had a most unique and hypnotic voice while Ben Perkins as Leo was dashing yet suitably strong and manly in his persona. Ustane played by Becky Carter was not only enchanting to watch but I felt she was made for the role. An emotional death scene left me with a tear in my eye and her haunting melodic vocals, set deep in my mind, wanting to hear more.
'She' in Holland 2011: A Review by Magdalena Grabias
Painted with Sounds and Colours
On September 3rd, 2011 the Zoetermeer Boerderij, was buzzing with life and excitement long before first guests arrived for the concert. Musicians, sound and light engineers, and the rest of the crew worked hard to secure the smoothness of the evening show.
Clive Nolan returned to Holland this time to entertain the European audience with his ambitious musical project 'She'. It is for the first time since theatrical performances in Bolivia in January 2010 that 'She' got performed on stage again. The event in Holland – the eight-man rendition of 'She' in concert - was quite a different experience from the very start. Nevertheless, even though devoid of lavish theatrical scenery, props and dancers, the show turned out to be equally attractive both musically and visually. But with such team of artists, so much talent and amount of hard work invested in the rehearsals, the eventual success of the spectacle was hardly surprising.
'She' in Holland 2011: A Report by Magdalna Grabias
Under the Musical Spell
After more than a year 'She' finally got back on stage. The eight-man version of the musical took place in Zoetermeer (NL) on September 3rd, 2011. The show featured four singers: Agnieszka Swita (Ayesha), David Clifford (Leo), Christina Booth (Ustane) and Alan Reed (Holly) and four musicians: Clive Nolan (keyboards), Mark Westwood (guitars), Scott Higham (drums) and Kylan Amos (bass).
Clive Nolan: "Returning to De Boerderij is always exciting with whatever band or project I am involved in, but this particular visit was something very special for me: a chance to bring 'She' to Holland. And I was not disappointed. I was amazed at how the audience engaged and reacted to the show, and relieved that all the technology allowed us to pass untroubled through the music. For me it proved just how effective the 'eight-man version' is, and now I am thinking that perhaps we could take 'She' to other countries as well! A thoroughly enjoyable experience, and thanks to all who made it so!"
'She' Album Review by Bob McBeath (Prog Archives)
With She Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena etc.) returns with his most ambitious project to date. Under the name Caamora, he and Polish vocalist Agnieszka Swita present this lavish double CD production based on the novel of the same name by H Rider Haggard.
Both Nolan and Swita assume vocal characters, with Alan Reed (Pallas) and Christina Booth completing the cast. Instrumentally, an impressive array of familiar names support Clive's symphonic keyboards and orchestrations. The entire project is composed and produced by Nolan, with Threshold's Karl Groom lending a hand on the technical side.
'She' Album Review by Pete Pardo (Sea of Tranquility)
In the mood for a grand, majestic, symphonic rock opera? Well, then you've come to the right place my friends. She is the latest musical vision from Caamora, the side project of Clive Nolan (Arena/Pendragon/Neo), that also features Polish vocalist Agnieszka Swita. This intense 2CD concept album is based on a 19th Century novel by H. Rider Haggard, about "two explorers who travel to Africa and stumble into a world of mystery and intrigue.
They discover lost tribes living in vast underground caverns and worshipping a living Goddess Ayesha, the queen who is believed to be a woman of vast age. She welcomes the explorers, but her true motives soon become apparent. Ayesha has been waiting for the return of the man she loves…a man she murdered 2000 years ago." Sound interesting? It certainly is, so prepare yourself for a complex maze, both lyrically and musically, throughout this lengthy set.
'She' Album Review by Geoff Feakes (DPRP)
As someone that makes a point of never buying an album thats advertised on TV you could say I have an aversion to sales hype. I was therefore understandably sceptical when a fanfare of publicity announced the release of Caamoras Rock Opera She. Two years in the making it was officially premiered in Katowice, Poland on 31st October 2007 with an extravagant stage show that was recorded for DVD. The album has just now been launched and is available in virtually every conceivable format.
Depending upon your preference (and pocket) the options include (takes a deep breath) a double CD studio album, a double CD digipack with a bonus track, a triple vinyl album with bonus track, a live DVD, a DVD digipack that includes a double live CD, and finally a box set that includes the double studio CD, the double live CD, the live DVD and a bonus DVD. My review copy arrived in the most modest of these formats, the studio album minus the bonus track. Oh, and I almost forgot there is also an EP available headed by the song Embrace.