Monday, 19 December 2016

Danny Mac and Carley Stenson to Star in SLEEPLESS the Musical

Fresh from the Final of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Danny Mac and West End leading lady Carley Stenson, will be playing the roles of Sam and Annie in the world premiere of SLEEPLESS the Musical based on the Tristar Pictures Inc. film Sleepless in Seattle. The new musical has a book by Michael Burdett, music by Robert Scott and lyrics by Brendan Cull.

The production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 1 to 15 April, followed by a week at The Lowry, Salford from 25 to 29 April, and finishing at Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin from 2 to 13 May, prior to a West End run.

SLEEPLESS is the enchanting new romantic musical comedy based on the original story and screenplay of the movie classic Sleepless In Seattle. Like the much loved movie, SLEEPLESS tells the heart-warming tale of Sam, who moves to Seattle with his eight year-old son, Jonah, following the tragic death of his wife. When Jonah phones a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he suddenly finds himself one of the most sought after single men in America and a great news story for feisty journalist Annie on the opposite side of the country. A fresh and lively book alongside a brand-new musical score bring this most timeless of romantic comedies to life on stage.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

REVIEW: RENT at St James Theatre, London

“Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La bohème, RENT features unforgettable music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson including the much-loved songs Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me and La Vie Bohème.  Winner of four Tony® Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the hugely prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it ran on Broadway for an astonishing 12 years.”

From the day Rent opened on Broadway, it has been a popular culture sensation. Shining a light on issues like HIV, homelessness and drug addiction, this musical is one of a kind and has made its way to the St James’s Theatre in London to mark its 20th anniversary.


REVIEW: Snow White, New Victoria Theatre Woking

Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's off to panto we go...!

One of my favourite things about Pantomime season at Woking's New Victoria Theatre is the excitable children who fill the auditorium. As I took to my seat, Idina Menzel singing "Let It Go" was blasting through the speakers and around 500 children around the theatre were joining in. I couldn't help but smile - the atmosphere was great and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

This year's panto is the fairytale classic 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', but this version has been reimagined in a playful and engaging way. Directed by, written by and starring Warwick Davis as 'Prof', this pantomime is bursting at the seams with fun for all the family. An unfortunate illness meant this year's press night performance was actually Snow White and the Six Dwarfs, but the cast managed seamlessly to make up for this absence and the audience were none the wiser.

REVIEW: Sinbad the Sailor at Theatre Royal Stratford East

The Theatre Royal Stratford East owes a big part of its history to panto, especially from the Fifties, when a production of Alice in Wonderland contributed to resuming the regular activities of the financially troubled venue. For the 2016 season, what’s tagged as ‘the people’s theatre’ proposes two alternative titles, with Sinbad the Sailor opening just one day after Rapunzel.

Under Paul Sirett’s pen, the Middle Eastern tale of a fearless sailor defying the seven seas becomes the misadventure of a clumsy boy, bravely supported by his sister Sinbadda (Gabby Wong) and the loyal ape Funky Monky (Gemma Salter). Contending the hand of the Princess (Marianna Neofitou) with the ruthless Prince Naw-Ze Uzz (Michael Bertenshaw), Sinbad (Julian Capolei) is challenged by the Sultan her father (Ben Goffe) to retrieve a golden casket from a desert island. Sinbad embarks on the adventure with the company of Sinbadda, Monky, the Nurse (Johnny Amobi in drag) and the disguised Princess herself. Despite the interference of some pesky pirates, the happy ending is guaranteed, as well as the redemption of the villain and ‘Oh yes, it is’ shouted aplenty.


REVIEW: EMERGE at the Tristan Bates Theatre

Last Sunday was the first EMERGE event, a new writing night organised by Flux Theatre at the Tristan Bates in Soho. EMERGE is a workshop in which 4 short pieces of 'work in progress' are performed to an audience and a professional industry panel, which then offer feedback to the artists in the second half of the event. 
I stayed for both the plays and the talk afterwards, which proved to be a great treat.
The first piece was “The Phlebotomist” by Ella Road that presented two women, a patient and a nurse. The scene was set in the future, and the patient had just found out that she had a low health score (due to her history of risky health conditions in her family) which made her undesirable to future employers. In a time when we feel like everything about us, including our health, is part of the economy, this was a strong opening piece.  
The talk after the show revealed not only that this was part of a full play, but that the nurse was the character whose life we will follow. The performances were very good, however the two actresses Nicola Taylor and Amy Cotter were of approximately the same age, which did not work for me: I would have wanted the nurse to be older, and show more authority, especially due to the patient showing she will do anything to avoid her score being published. I actually thought this was a standalone piece, with a clear beginning and end and thought it was nicely crafted.

REVIEW: Mother Goose at Wilton’s Music Hall

Tucked in the western corner of Tower Hamlets, Wilton’s is one of London’s few remaining music halls that were built during the mid-19th Century's boom and survived to decline until this day. The battered but nonetheless gorgeous decor suggests a rocky past, where Wilton’s served as a soup kitchen and as a rug storage, before being enlisted for demolition in the 1960s. Thankfully, it was saved by a public campaign and its doors finally reopened to the public in 1997.

Following last year’s glorious pantomime debut with Dick Whittington & His Cat, the producing venue proposes for 2016 an original version of the classic Mother Goose, written by comedy genius and President of the British Music Hall Society Roy Hudd. Also present on stage in the role of Mother Goose, Hudd delivers a charismatic performance, loaded with eggsilarating puns – allow me this – and references to politics and society. His vivid gaze and kindly touch are more credible as a maternal figure than vanity-driven hag but, under his effortless guidance, the show sails smoothly towards its happy ending.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Shakespeare’s Globe announces lead casting for John Webster’s The White Devil and Shakespeare’s Othello

Shakespeare’s Globe is delighted to announce that Kate Stanley-Brennan, Jamie Ballard, Joseph Timms, Paul Bazely and Michael Feast will star in John Webster’s The White Devil, from 26 January. Kurt Egyiawan, Sam Spruell, Natalie Klamar, Thalissa Teixeira and Joanna Horton will star in Othello, from 23 February.

Directed by Annie Ryan, The White Devil runs from 26 January, with Kate Stanley-Brennan in the lead role as Vittoria. Kate’s theatre credits include The Night Alive (Lyric Belfast),  Hedda Gabler, The Risen People, The Plough and the Stars, Terminus, Playboy of the Western World (Abbey Theatre), Wuthering Heights, Salome (Gate Theatre) and Yerma (West Yorkshire Playhouse/National Theatre Studio). Screen credits include Dollhouse, Chasing Green, Dublin in Pieces, Speed Dating, Raw (RTE), Tudors (Showtime) and Fair City (RTE).

INTERVIEW: Gabriela Garcia, currently playing Nina in IN THE HEIGHTS at the Kings Cross Theatre

Lin-Manuel Miranda came to see the show, how was it knowing you were performing to him?
It was both unbelievably nerve racking and exciting in equal measure! However, the fact that I was able to manage my nerves and was still able to do the show, proved to me how far I have come since I was a student at ArtsEd. Having Lin in the audience was something I never thought would happen to me- I admire him so much- it was literally a dream come true. 

When the show opened you started in a much smaller track, and now have moved on to performing the role full time. How was it watching the show progress and also your part?
Amazing! I would not have had it any other way- the fact that I was able to play both Yolanda and Nina meant I got to see the piece from 2 different viewpoints. It also gave me the opportunity to perform some of Yolanda's brilliant dance tracks but still sing and act in Nina's iconic scenes. Also I learnt so much from being an understudy and had the privilege of learning a lot from the actresses that played Nina before me. 


Monday, 12 December 2016

Full cast announced for the UK tour of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Full casting for the UK tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie has been confirmed.

Sam Barrett (The Fix) will play Jimmy Smith, Graham McDuff (Spamalot) will play Trevor Graydon, and Katherine Glover will play Miss Dorothy. 

They join the previously announced Joanne Clifton as Millie Dillmount, a Kansas girl determined to make it big in New York, and Michelle Collins as Mrs Meers.

Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton will take on the titular role of Millie Dillmount, a Kansas girl who moves to New York determined to make it big in the Big Apple. Her previous credits include Face the Music, Burn the Floor, and Norma Jeane the Musical.

FIRST LOOK: Cinderella at the London Palladium

Qdos Entertainment’s production of Cinderella begins previews at the London Palladium this Saturday, 10 December 2016, with press night on Wednesday 14 December 2016.  This five week limited run the over the Festive season concludes on Sunday 15 January 2017.

The cast comprises Paul O’Grady (Baroness Hardup), Julian Clary (Dandini), Amanda Holden (The Fairy Godmother), Lee Mead (Prince Charming), Paul Zerdin (Buttons), Nigel Havers (Lord Chamberlain), Count Arthur Strong (Baron Hardup), Natasha J Barnes (Cinderella) and Suzie Chard and Wendy Somerville (The Wicked Stepsisters).  They are joined by Liz Ewing, Christopher Howell, James Paterson, Carrie Sutton, Vicki Lee Taylor and Ed Wade and ensemble members Rhianne Alleyne, Charlotte Alloway, Gianni Arando, William Atkinson, Pamela Blaire, Myles Brown, Lucy Carter, Jacob Fearey, Diana Girban, Chloe Hudson, Emma Johnson, Ricky Lee Loftus, Holly Prentice, Niall Swords, Luke Woollaston and Tom Woollaston.

REVIEW: Charming Dick at the Cockpit Theatre

Nothing quite compares to a British panto. I did not grow up here, but in my first year studying in the UK a few years back, I joined my university’s theatre society. Traditionally, in December, the programme included a panto and I was thrown into its unique and bonkers genre.

This week, I attended my first panto in quite a while, and what a show it was! Charming Dick, written by Paul Emelion Daly and which is playing until 23 December at the Cockpit Theatre, is an adult LGBTQ show from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

It follows Dick coming to London to seek fame, fortune and the big time, but instead ending up working in a launderette with his Aunt Twankey (the T is silent). But the Wicked Witch is determined to get her evil hands on the launderette and steal poor Twanky’s magic lamp, which can turn gay bars into gold, whilst the Witch’s sexually confused son Prince Charming is being pursued by Eurovision wannabe Babe.

REVIEW: Her Aching Heart at The Hope Theatre

Celebrating with a magnificent revival the 25th anniversary of Bryony Lavery's Her Aching Heart, The Hope Theatre and producer Andrea Leoncini found the cutest way to welcome their audience. After arriving at the box office, I was offered my ticket attached to a programme by a pin with a heart-shaped head. This little surprise made up for having to wait for the opening of the auditorium in the busy Hope and Anchor pub on the ground floor, which can be quite noisy but is also the best place to grab a quick drink during the interval.

Her Aching Heart is the cheesy account of a fortuitous encounter between two women, which are immediately stricken by an uncontrolled crush for each other. Nor the apparent mutual hatred, nor the social inequality, not even the geographical distance can part what love has joined, as demonstrated by a range of episodes presented in this tongue-and-cheek extravaganza. The peasant and the noble lady’s adventures are told in parallel with that of two other women, who discover a fancy for each other whilst reading the same book.

Friday, 2 December 2016

REVIEW: Testosterone at New Diorama Theatre

Written and performed by Kit Redstone, Testosterone is the hilarious yet thought-provoking autobiographical account of an ordinary man – as we see him on stage – in the process of defining his own masculinity. 

It has been two years since Kit had his first injection of testosterone and he takes it to the stage to talk with the public about the externally unnoticeable divergence between looking like a man and behaving like one. 'What determines our perception of an individual?' – he asks – 'Their looks or their personality? Aren't they supposed to coincide?'. Not necessarily, as we are bound to learn.

With a series of flashbacks and pop-up gags – courtesy of Daniel Jacob and comedy duo Rhum and Clay (Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells) – Kit shares a few anecdotes that represent the milestones along the road of his gender reassignment.
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