Tuesday, 31 January 2017

THE BOOK OF MORMON announce new cast from 30th January

From South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre album, follows a pair of Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s a long way from Salt Lake City.

Book, Music and Lyrics are by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon has choreography by Casey Nicholaw, set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt, sound design by Brian Ronan, orchestrations by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus and music supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus. 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Michael Matus & George Rae to star in Stephen Sondheim's The Frogs at Jermyn Street Theatre

They will play Dionysos and Xanthias in the UK premiere of the latest Broadway version of the rarely performed musical, an hilarious send up of Greek comedy and satire, with a book revised and expanded by Nathan Lane.

The Frogs, loosely based on a comedy written in 405 BC by Aristophanes, freely adapted for today by Burt Shevelove, and even more freely adapted by Nathan Lane, with Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, produced by House on the Hill Productions in association with Jermyn Street Theatre and directed by Grace Wessels, will premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre from Tuesday 14 March - Saturday 8 April.

Michael Matus has just played Mrs Bumbrake in the UK premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher. He has featured in seven shows for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His many West End and major roles include Monsieur Firmin in The Phantom of the OperaWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Lend Me a Tenor, Yes Prime Minister, Imagine This, Martin Guerre and The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

REVIEW: Death Takes a Holiday at Charing Cross Theatre

It's the year 1922, a wealthy family is driving home after celebrating the engagement of Grazia (Zoƫ Doano) and Corrado (Ashley Stillburn) when, due to excessive speed, the young bride-to-be is thrown out the car. Seconds before the crash, we see her standing on the seat in a black lace dress of gothic flavour, defying the wind with her arms outstretched and singing the uplifting 'In the middle of Your Life' with the rest of the company. Astonishingly, she survives the accident unscathed, landing safely in the arms of a nameless man dressed in black. Her carefree attitude has unwittingly seduced Death (Chris Peluso) and he decides to take a weekend off to spend it with Grazia at the family's villa in northern Italy. Assuming the human features of prince Nikolai Sirki from Minsk, Death strives to grasp the meaning of love and will soon find out that this feeling is even stronger that death itself.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

STARLIGHT EXPRESS in Bochum to be performed in English for the first time, new cast announced

Bochum Theatre's Starlight Express is to be performed in English for the first time ever in a one-off show. 
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is about a child's train set that comes to life and competes to become the fastest engine in the world. It opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in 1984, and closed in 2002.
The actors famously perform on rollerskates, and the original choreography was by Arlene Phillips.
It has been running in Bochum, Germany for almost 29 years, and has been seen by more than 16 million people. The German production has the original West End staging, which sees the characters skating through the stalls and audience. This production will now be adapted into the English language for the first time on 28 March 2017. 

FIRST LOOK: Wonderland the musical, on tour around the UK

Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s WONDERLAND was hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”.

WONDERLAND is an enchanting musical adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with a huge heart, a medley of magic and a whole lot of wonder. It is a timely and touching story of love in all its forms, an adventurous exploration of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.

Completing the principal cast are Wendi Peters as Queen of HeartsDave Willetts as White Rabbit, Kerry Ellis and Rachel Wooding as AliceStephen Webb as Jack / White Knight, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter, Kayi Ushe as Caterpillar, Dominic Owen as Cheshire Cat, Ben Kerr as March Hare, Naomi Morris as Ellie and Michelle Pentecost as Alternate Alice / Mad Hatter.

They are joined by Sharif Afifi, Toyan Thomas-Browne, Divine Cresswell, Jessica Croll, Francesca Lara Gordon, Benjamin McMillan, Michael Morgan, Phoebe May Newman, Bree Smith, Benjamin Yates and swingsLewis Easter and Collette Guitart.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

REVIEW: Gaslight at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

For a play written in 1938, Gaslight feels refreshingly relevant and powerful with its key themes resonating hard. A busy audience are drawn into the world of Bella and cruel mental abuse inflicted (or not) on her by imposing husband Jack Manningham.

All the action takes place in the claustrophobic and moodily lit drawing room in the Manningham house complete with secret bookcases and ornaments galore. The set was rich and luxurious and was the perfect setting for this tense and atmospheric play. Music is used sparingly but effectively to ramp up the suspense while never taking focus from the story and performances of a small but strong cast.

Monday, 23 January 2017

REVIEW: The Wild Party at the Hope Theatre

Before theatre as we know it, oral storytelling was how tales were shared amongst the community. Mingled Yarn Theatre is devoted to preserving this tradition by offering classical texts, new plays and adaptations to audiences in various venues across the UK. At the Hope Theatre for a short run, the company is presenting 'The Wild Party', a piece written in 1926 by Joseph Moncure March and remained unpublished until 1928, due to its outrageous and sex-fuelled content.

Queenie is a vaudeville dancer who shares an apartment in Hollywood with Burr, the clown who jumps on stage after her act and also her possessive lover. When Queenie's wild spirit clashes with Burr's jealousy, a drug and alcohol-fuelled party becomes a whirlwind of sex and blood. Set in the golden age of jazz and played by only two actors (Joey Akubeze and Anna Clarke) 'The Wild party' is the detailed account of that doomed evening and its ugly outcome.

REVIEW: The Convert at the Gate Theatre

Assimilation: “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture.”

Conversion: “the fact of changing one's religion or beliefs or the action of persuading someone else to change theirs.”

These two words come into play in The Convert, written by Danai Gurira, directed by Christopher Haydon and playing at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill until 11 February. We are in Rhodesia, in today’s Zimbabwe, in 1896, then under British colonial rule.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Donmar Warehouse announces full casting for LIMEHOUSE, a new play by Steve Waters

The Donmar Warehouse today announces full casting for playwright Steve Waters’ searing new drama Limehouse. The play imagines what happened when the ‘Gang of Four’ met in 1981 to break away from the Labour party and form the SDP. Casting includes Roger Allam as Roy Jenkins and Tom Goodman-Hill as David Owen, joining the previously announced Paul Chahidi as Bill Rogers and Debra Gillett as Shirley Williams. Nathalie Armin will play Debbie Owen, wife of David Owen and co-host of that momentous day in east London. The production is directed by Olivier Award-winning Polly Findlay, who makes her Donmar debut.  

A divisive left-wing leader at the helm of the Labour party. A Conservative prime minister battling with her cabinet. An identity crisis on a national scale.


The ENO announces full cast for Rodgers and Hammerstein's CAROUSEL

Nicholas Lyndhurst (Star Keeper) joins the previously announced Alfie Boe (Billy Bigelow) and Katherine Jenkins (Julie Jordan) in Rodgers andHammersteinCarousel, the third production in the partnership between The GradeLinnit Company and English National Opera (ENO).

This semi-staged production of Carousel marks BAFTA Award Winning Actor Nicholas Lyndhurst’s return to the West End stage, where he was last seen in Trevor Nunn’s 2011 production of The Tempest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. His other West End credits include Allan Davis’ The Straight and Narrow at the Wyndham's Theatre, Peter Hall’s production of The Dresser at the Duke of York’s Theatre and The Foreigner, by Larry Shue at the Albany Theatre. Lyndhurst is best known for his classic television series; Only Fools and Horses, Goodnight Sweetheart, After You’ve Gone, Rock & Chips, Butterflies and The Piglet Files.  Lyndhurst can also be seen in the 2016 film, A United Kingdom

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Full casting announced for GREASE the musical on tour around the UK

Grease is the word! Full casting is announced for the hit 70s musical.

Casting for the tour includes Tom Parker (The Wanted) who makes his musical theatre debut playing Danny Zuko,Danielle Hope (Over the Rainbow winner) who plays Sandy and Louisa Lytton (Strictly Come DancingEastEnders) who plays Rizzo.

Completing the cast are Tom Senior as Kenickie, Michael Cortez as Sonny, Oliver Jacobson as Roger, Ryan Heenan as Doody, Callum Evans as Eugene, Lauren Atkins as Marty, Rosanna Harris as Jan, Rhiannon Chesterman as Frenchy, Gabriella Williams as Patty and Ailsa Davidson as Lynch. The ensemble includes Charlotte Coggin, Anthony Hughes, Alessia McDermott, Natasha Mould, Anna Murray, George Olney, Rory Phelan and Grant Thresh.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

REVIEW: BLOOD BROTHERS at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking

When the Daily Mail’s Patrick O’Neill reviewed the original production of Blood Brothers on 10th January 1983 he said: “It may be a little early in the year for prophecy, but I rashly predict that come December this extraordinary show will be among the best new musicals of 1983.” The legacy of this stunning musical is as strong as ever, with it now being prominently featured in English and Drama curriculums at schools Nationwide. Hundreds of school children flooded into the New Victoria Theatre last night and filled every seat in the auditorium.

Branded “A Greek tragedy with a Scouse Accent” (O’Neill, 1983) Blood Brothers is the heart-wrenching and captivating story by Willy Russell, of two twins who are separated at birth and grow up not knowing the other exists. One brother leads a life of privilege and high-class education, while the other belongs to a family who can barely make ends meet. When they are finally re-united, the outcome is destructive and unalterable.

Monday, 16 January 2017

All Star Productions announce full cast for MY LANDS SHORE at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre

The passionate new musical from Wales is a tale of conflict, social injustice, moral dilemmas, guilt, love and heartbreak, with Music and Lyrics by Christopher J Orton and Book and Lyrics by Robert Gould.

The show tells the story of Dic Penderyn a Welsh labourer and coal miner who lived in Merthyr Tydfil who was involved with the Merthyr Rising of 3 June 1831. In the course of the riot he was arrested alongside Lewis Lewis, one of the primary figures in the uprising, and charged with stabbing a soldier with a bayonet. The people of Merthyr Tydfil doubted his guilt, and signed a petition for his release. However, he was found guilty and hanged on 13 August. After his death he was treated as a martyr in Merthyr and across Britain.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

REVIEW: He(Art) at Theatre N16

He(art)is a one-hour long drama that sees two couples of actors play alternate scenes in the round, with their stories boundto collide. The four of them are always in sight and, whilst two are centre stage, the others sit in the corner. The play opens in an art gallery, where Niall's set design isboth functional and original. There are a variety of small propshanging from the golden ceiling (either inside plastic bags or secured to a hook) ready to be picked up at the right moment.The use of lighting is minimal and some musical inserts help to frame the scenes with smooth and well-rehearsed transitions. Careful direction makes sure that the actors never stay too long in the same spot and I don't mind them occasionally turning their backs on me.

REVIEW: Abigail at The Bunker

Preparing an interview to Abigail's director Joshua McTaggart, I had a chance to learn a lot about The Bunker before having visited it personally. As its artistic director, Joshua started this new venture almost a year ago with Executive Producer Joel Fisher and together they have created a platform that fosters the creative process and invites the audience to spend time in the venue before and after the show. Thanks to a series of ancillary initiatives – like exhibitions, live music and talks – theatre enthusiasts, new writers and actors alike now have a welcoming space for their discussions. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

INTERVIEW: Arun Blair Mangat, currently playing Benny in IN THE HEIGHTS at the Kings Cross Theatre

You had a fairly quick turn around from being in Kinky Boots to moving over to In The Heights, what were the challenges when making the switch over?

Yes, I was really lucky to start In The Heights whilst still at Kinky Boots. My last week at the Adelphi Theatre was a bit crazy because during the days I was in rehearsals for Heights trying to learn the lyrics and lines. I was keen to find my interpretation of Benny's character as quickly as possible because we had quite a short rehearsal period. Then at night I would go to the Adelphi, put on a pair of heels and become Lola. The two roles could not be more different, but it was such an awesome experience. I think the most challenging aspect of the quick turn around was making sure I was off book and had created a fully realised person in Benny because everyone in ‘el barrio’ is integral to the community and I knew that I was stepping into a show that had already been running for the best part of a year. I wanted to make sure that I could bring a fresh energy whilst also being on par with everyone who was staying on for the last leg of the run.

In Kinky Boots you understudied the lead and now you’re playing a lead! How was it making that progression?

The progression was actually relatively seamless because I was lucky enough to become Standby Lola for my last few weeks at Kinky Boots, so that helped ease the transition for me. It’s been a few years since I’ve played a lead in a show so it’s great to be able to sing solos and hear how my voice has developed since I was 18/19. On Kinky Boots it was great to understudy Matt Henry. He’s a good friend and such a talented actor, so being able to learn from him about how to take care of yourself on and off stage was really beneficial too.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

INTERVIEW: Lucie Jones, currently playing Maureen in the 20th Anniversary Production of RENT

What a year! From Legally Blonde to RENT, nothing like variety? 
Variety is the spice of life! My whole career has been varied to the max so this year has been no different. I really loved Legally Blonde!

Tell us a little bit about your character in RENT...
Maureen. She’s a tricky one to put into words but she’s definitely feisty for sure. She’s an activist – constantly trying to change things for the better, whilst unashamedly self-promoting!

Is RENT a show that you'd seen or heard before? 
I’d heard some of the tunes and loved them but didn’t know it very well. I’m well and truly a Renthead now!

REVIEW: A Christmas Carol at the Lyceum Theatre

During this festive season, the recently formed London Musical Theatre Orchestra has honoured the theatregoers with a special gift. On the same date the novel was first published in 1843, the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is performed in the capital for the very first time. Written by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the same Lynn Ahrens, this concert version of the Broadway sensation has filled the Lyceum Theatre with beautiful melodies and meaningful dialogues, in a true Christmas spirit.
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