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Friday, 5 March 2021

REVIEW: Facing the Music: Imelda Staunton at the Chichester Festival Theatre (Online)

Chichester Festival Theatre has been closed for nearly a year and this week launched a series of four online events under the banner "Facing the music" before rerunning a recording of last year's event "Celebrating Sondheim" to at least connect with their audience and to celebrate musical theatre. First up is the irrepressible wonderful Imelda Sondheim, now surely a National Treasure, in conversation (when he lets her speak) with Edward Seckerson, a specialist musical theatre journalist. It's a fascinating insight into her approach to her work and reminds us of how she has become one of the leading Stephen Sondheim actresses amongst a host of other excellent work. 

The ninety-minute interview focuses on her portrayals of Sondheim's extraordinary leading lady creations and draws out her approach to each and the similarities in them. It briefly touches on her role as Vera Drake in the Mike Leigh film made in 2003 which involved six months of improvised rehearsal and three and half months filming and of which Staunton said she had "never done anything else easier" and the rehearsal put the character into her "muscle memory". So successful was the process that she won a BAFTA and Oscar nomination. It also touched on her time at RADA and in repertory in Exeter and Nottingham that gave her a solid base of experience.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

SIX the Musical announces it plans to re-open on Friday 21 May, 2021 at the Lyric Theatre

Electrifying West End musical phenomenon SIX will reopen at the Lyric Theatre on Friday 21 May, 2021.

With social distancing at indoor venues expected to remain in place until June 21 at the earliest, the theatre will initially operate at the same 50% capacity as December 2020 before the current national lockdown.

Customers already booked into cancelled dates for the show will be contacted first by Nimax Theatres from March 5 to move their bookings to new dates.

Tickets for the new dates will go on sale to the general public on Monday 29 March via

SIX, by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, which has become a global hit, is now booking at the Lyric theatre to Sunday August 22.

Outside the Spotlight: A trip down memory lane with Christopher Parkinson | Captured by Liz

Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

Coffee at the ready, a gloomy day in London sets us up for today's instalment of Outside the Spotlight. We literally embark on a walk down memory lane, as Chris leads me around Central London and theatreland, reminiscing about the incredible stages in the city he has gotten to be on and the roles he has gotten to play so far in his career. Having worked on television, film and theatre, we go back to where it all began - the stages of London.

Currently part of the original cast of smash hit &Juliet, Chris started his performing journey at a young age. Seventeen years ago (I know right?), he was cast as Billy Elliot for the first workshop of the show. The workshop process took place at the American Church on Tottenham Court Road, and was later performed at the Old Vic. “I remember one day, my company manager came up to me and told me to go downstairs for a rehearsals. So 10 year old me heads downstairs, I open the door, and sitting there is Sir Elton John at the piano, waiting for me. He taught me Electricity!” Fast forward a decade and a bit, Chris is back at the American Church for another workshop: &Juliet. Talk about full circle! “Being with a show from the beginning is so special! And so rare to get an opportunity like that! It’s a new musical, a new British musical! It’s such a dream to be a part of an original creation and be a small part in forming it. Especially with a show like this, which features so many iconic songs from our generation. Performing a Katy Perry song in front of Katy Perry surely was a once in a lifetime experience.”

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

REVIEW: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice at the Southwark Playhouse (Online)

The title Sorcerer’s Apprentice evokes strong memories for me of the sequence with Mickey Mouse surrounded by dancing brooms and buckets in the 1940’s animated masterpiece Fantasia which I saw as a child (some years after its release!). Richard Hough has taken the same source, the 1797 poem by Johann Von Goethe as the inspiration for this new musical which he has written with music by Ben Morales Frost. While it is now set in Midgard in the Frozen North in the nineteenth century it has a very modern feel with its themes about Global Warming’s impact on the Earth. The resulting 2-hour musical is a cross between Nanny McPhee and His Dark Materials with the parent-child relationships at the centre of this typical folk story with an ethical message and a central character Eva Gottel in a Greta Thunberg style role as the teenage activist trying to change behaviours. 

Indeed, Mary Moore in her professional debut role holds the production together and drives the storyline from her first appearance in a loft bedroom with “Invisible” bemoaning that they treat her as invisible while seeking attention through disruptive behaviour at school, only to be told that direct action is at odds with the philosophy of this house! She has a sweet charming innocent demeanour that masks her desire to be noticed by her father and society but perhaps explains her falling for Erik Sanderson, a scientist a few years older than her, played by Yazdan Qafori. Their song together “Spellbound” about channelling the power of the Northern Lights Aurora through an open mind (which has been released as a music video and single) not only embraces the theme of the enhancing of magical powers with science but also provides the opportunity for some on-stage magic.

REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure by Les Enfants Terrible

Les Enfants Terrible are an innovative and exciting production company and having experienced the brilliant immersive theatre experiences of Alice’s Adventures Underground at Waterloo vaults and The Games Afoot at Madame Tussauds in previous years we knew when we booked for a six-person private online adventure that they would deliver and so they did. The private booking meant we knew the other households involved which added to the enjoyment although at no stage were we allowed to be competitive against each other with the emphasis being on solving the mystery and preventing the murder of the Prime Minister as a team.

Once logged in we met Dr Watson in the lobby who explained the task and each element of the adventure and provided the links to get into the various rooms. He was a jovial chap with a weak knowledge of UK geography but a good guide to the adventure. Most of the effort is down to the participants but there is barely time to investigate all the clues let alone debate them or reflect on your findings. There is plenty of content to distract you from the task and ancillary investigations that may or may not help.
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