Thursday, 31 August 2017

REVIEW: Hamlet at the Park 90


Gyles Brandreth has clearly had a lifelong passion for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and writes as he often does with passion and eloquence in the free programme for this production. It is a family affair with his own son playing Hamlet and his daughter in law playing Gertrude and Ophelia. He challenges the audience in his notes to think about their own family. Cut down from the original play into a continuous 90 minutes the editor, Imogen Bond and directors Simon Evans and David Aula, focus Hamlet’s loss of his parents.

Hamlet is Shakespeare longest play, at over 4000 lines and the edit removes all the characters with less than 100 lines and the Scandinavian political intrigue to fit within the 90 minute running time, the result is a fast paced family drama that explores the relationships between parents and their children. It is of course given an extra poignancy by the casting of three actors from same family.
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Full casting announced for UK tour of CABARET, starring Will Young and Louise Redknapp


A new UK tour of Cabaret is to star Will Young and Louise Redknapp. 

Young will reprise his Olivier-nominated performance as the Emcee in the piece, while Redknapp will make her stage debut as Sally Bowles. 

The production, which is a revival of Rufus Norris' staging, will open on a tour from 21 September at the New Wimbledon Theatre, before touring to Blackpool (2 to 7 October), Cardiff (17 to 21 October), Leeds (24 to 28 October), Milton Keynes (31 October to 4 November), Salford (7 to 11 November), Edinburgh (14 to 18 November), Bromley (21 to 25 November) and Brighton (5 to 9 November). 
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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

London Musical Theatre Orchestra's Mack & Mabel to star DAVID BADELLA, NATASHA J BARNES and TIFFANY GRAVES


After a triumphant five-star performance of Bernstein’s Candide In Concert and a sell-out five-star 2016 season, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra makes its East London debut at the Hackney Empire on 23rd September with Jerry Herman’s hit show Mack and Mabel. Tickets are on sale now.

Starring David Bedella (Jerry Springer: The Musical / The Rocky Horror Show / In The Heights) as Mack, Natasha J Barnes (Funny Girl / The Palladium’s All Star Cinderella) as Mabel and Tiffany Graves (Chicago / Sweet Charity / We Will Rock You) as Lottie, Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life story of Mack Sennett, the legendary director of the golden age of the Hollywood silent film and King Of Comedy, who finds himself bankrupt, alone and obsolete. Forced to sell his studio, he reminisces about the glory days, from the chaos of the Keystone Kops and the splendour of Charlie Chaplin, to his turbulent love affair with rising star Mabel Norman. A world where heroes wore capes, girls were tied to the railway tracks and it all ended with a pie in the face.
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Sunday, 27 August 2017

10 Broadway shows that need to come over to the West End!

Anastasia


This production has only recently opened on Broadway, its run has only spanned over a few months but the rumours are already spreading about possible international productions, London being one of them! We love the film and the new cast recording is one of our most played albums so we can not wait to see this one! 

Waitress


A London production of Waitress is allegedly in the works to open next year, we are a huge fan of the music and hope to see it open soon! Who could star in the lead role though? We asked our readers and here are some of the top suggestions!
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Saturday, 26 August 2017

REVIEW: Loot at the Park Theatre



When Loot made its debut, in 1965 at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, there were many walkouts and a general sense of indignation towards the themes touched by Joe Horton's barefaced play. With the narrow-mindedness of religion, corruption within the police department and a general disrespect for the dead, Joe Orton had depicted a world of bigots, crooks and gold-diggers which can still spark outrage to this day but, in reality, isn't too dissimilar from the world we live in.

Being gay himself, the author didn't shy away from this topic neither, despite homosexuality being still illegal at the time the play was first staged. For its exhilarating comedy and well-balanced composition, Loot was later named by the National Theatre as one of the “100 Plays of the Century”, although Orton didn't live long enough to receive the honours for his prolific but short career as a playwright.
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REVIEW: Richard III at the Temple Church


Site specific theatre adds an extra dimension to the pleasure of seeing good productions and Antic Disposition specialise in exploiting this added audience engagement in their choice of plays and locations .On this occasion following a UK cathedral tour and a short French tour, they have bought their edited updated version of Richard III to the Temple Church tucked away in the tranquil setting of Inner Temple Hall and Gardens, just off Fleet Street in central London. 



The Temple Church, built by the Knights Temple in the 12th century provides a beautiful medieval setting amongst the memorials and effigies of the Knights for the play. Using a traverse stage running from the circular Knights Temple end to the more modern alter end with the audience sat along each side in pews. As a result the audience is very close to the action and often drawn in as aldermen or men at arms and we catch every facial tick and glance.
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REVIEW: A Rat in a Box at Courtyard Theatre


Rat in a Box takes a long hard look at the harsh realities of the renting market, for twenty something’s in London. The action unfolds in Edwina’s Kensington house, where she unashamedly rents out the box room to Nigel, small room to Greta and cellar to Cindy. Thrown into the mix the characters must navigating money, self-worth and highly volatile love lives with some explosive results. The set is sparse, with only plain cardboard boxes stacked high to signify moving, transience and basic living conditions familiar to renters. 

Edwina, a cross between Edina Monsoon and Cruella De Vil, is played by Ella Banstead-Salim who gives a compelling and highly charged performance with bags of stage presence. She wields her power as property owner with tyranny, but as with all tyrants we see insecurities and flaws that for all her prosperity leads no less to success than the intended minions she employs, under the guise of tenants. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: How to Suffer Better at Laughing Horse at The Newsroom


One of the most exciting features of the Edinburgh Fringe is the great selection of free shows offered by the Laughing Horse festival. Often in bars, pubs and makeshift venues, these events involve hundreds of performers, who work exclusively on tips and are, most reasonably, prepared to bully you into putting a fiver inside their hats. 

Because of all the mayhem generally undergoing in Edinburgh during the whole month of August, you might find yourself attending one of these open shows with just a handful of other punters, as was my case when I went to see Amanda Erin Miller's solo comedy How to Suffer Better. 

In these circumstances, an artist should be particularly aware of the different impact that their voice and stage presence can have on their – arguably sober but most realistically hungover – 1pm audience, and hopefully adjust their levels of enthusiasm accordingly.
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New Production Pictures released of the DREAMGIRLS London company


The critically acclaimed, hit UK premiere of Dreamgirls has been nominated for five Olivier Awards and stars American actress and singer Amber Riley, Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav sharing the role of Effie White (Amber Riley does not perform Mondays or matinees), Liisi LaFontaine as Deena Jones and Asmeret Ghebremichael as Lorrell Robinson making up the soulful singing trio ‘The Dreams’. 


Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history. Dreamgirls charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous, and features the classic songs And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going, I Am Changing, Listen and One Night Only.
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Thursday, 24 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: The Tinder Tales at the Greenside @ Infirmary


Tinder. It’s all over the Edinburgh Fringe this year and for good reason. It seems to be a massive talking point for a broad spectrum of people. Tinder Tales, takes the real life stories from people using the app, and flips between the good, the bad and the ugly in a short 40 minutes. 

With one interviewee chair placed centre stage, and the cast sat behind it, the play mainly focuses on the stories of the individual but allows a few moments for the whole cast to get involved. Most stories were fun and comical, which allowed the most sombre moments to land quite beautifully. I questioned, however, the need to gender swap for two of the scenes. Whilst all actors in these scenes played it wonderfully, I felt if they’d kept the scenes as written, it would have landed even more of a message. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Fag/Stag at the Underbelly Cowgate



No story is ever told the same way. The general gist might be there, but there’ll always be some anecdote or sentence missed out, or rose tinted way of telling it to make you sound a bit better. What would happen if two friends told the same story, at the same time, on the same stage? Take the Australian performer/writer duo, Chris Isaacs and Jeffrey Jay Fowler, ask them to do just that, and you have Fag/Stag.

Tamara is getting married and both Corgan and Jimmy are invited. Both men loved her, Jimmy for a week in high school, Corgan during their four-year relationship, and even more now. Fag/Stag journeys from the duo receiving their invites, to the day of the wedding and all in-between. There’s so much to say about this show that I don’t think I will do it justice. Both Issacs and Fowler are captivating throughout. In a performance which is mainly about male relationships, they only look at each other once but you can feel the chemistry between the two in abundance. Their quick witted, fast paced script grabs the audience from the beginning and doesn’t let go. It’s heart-breaking to watch as friends fall out over homophobia, self-harm, and not being there when your friend needs you the most.
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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: The Prophetic Visions of Bethany Lewis at the Underbelly Cowgate


There’s a fair amount of puppets at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year and a lot of it has been very good. It was now the turn for The Prophetic Visions of Bethany Lewis, and my oh my it did not disappoint. From the moment the furry purple puppet opened her mouth (or had it opened for her) to the last note of the perfectly pitched (in all terms of the word) ending song, I was crying with laughter. 

Three brilliant puppeteers take on a variety of characters that feature in the rise, and subsequent fall of Bethany Lewis, a normal girl who starts seeing visions when she’s bumped in the head by an escaping baked bean tin. Unfortunately for Bethany, she starts seeing things that the government, and their leader, don’t want the public knowing. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is going to see it (and if you aren’t, you should) so I’ll keep quiet, but a specific scene between the Prime Minister and the creature that is running parliament is worth the ticket price alone. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Maddy Anholt - Herselves at the Underbelly Clover


Behind every woman is not just one character. There are a collection of weird and wonderful personalities just dying to be heard. At least that’s what Maddy Anholt will have you believe in her new show, Herselves. Luckily for the audience, the women wanting to be heard from Anholt are brilliant. 

This one woman stand up, character comedian and at times improv artist had the world out against her the day I saw the show but she batted every problem off with ease and hilarity. Mic problems? Don’t worry, one of her characters, Shazza, relied on her two days of drama school training and projected her chavvy heart out. Got a heckler that won’t give up? Just get the crazed zoo keeper dressed as peacock to give him one of the most disturbing lap dances he’ll ever receive. Or if someone decides to eat a full meal during your show, give them a blow-up phone half way through their mouthful and tell them it’s time for audience call in on double yolk eggs. Granted, these disruptions won’t happen every show, but Anholt’s beautiful comic timing made you think she’d planned them all along. 
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Sunday, 20 August 2017

15 things you should see at the Fringe!



"If you see nothing else this Edinburgh Fringe season get your tickets to ‘Atlantic’"

Runs on various dates until the 27th August. Click here for more information. 



"If you are at Edinburgh Fringe this summer, this really is one not to be missed. Just Wonderful."

Runs on various dates until the 26th August. Click here for more information.
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REVIEW: Salad Days at the Union Theatre


The atmosphere of The Union Theatre is lovely. Set on the stone wall of the union as the backdrop, welcoming the audience is a piano playing tramp (Tom Self) with a small drum kit being played and Double Bass being plucked, playing light and spirited music. The floor is covered in a fake grassy turf and some audience members are sitting on cushions on the floor for a more immersive experience. How light spirited it all looks with all audience members settle in for Salad Days we’re ready for the light hearted frivolity. 

Written by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds this classic musical is based around the conundrum of what to do after you graduate from school especially when you have parental pressures and societal expectations thrust upon you. 

The tale revolves around Tim and Jane - two upperclass youngsters who finish school and don’t really know what to do with themselves. Tim’s family is nagging at him to get a job with one of his uncles (he has four and one they don’t talk about) and Jane who’s Mother wants her to marry someone rich and be taken care of - Ah the good ol’ days. They come across a tramp who pays them to look after a magical piano which, when plays, enchants people and they can’t stop dancing; until the second act, when they lose it. Then find it with the help of an alien and an uncle (Tim’s uncles make appearances through the show) - Strange premise but I suppose a deus ex machina is a deus ex machina no matter how silly it sounds. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Transmission at the Assembly George Square Studios


Carrying the deceptive promise of an immersive theatrical experience, Transmission could be one of the most criticised pieces of new writing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017. Canadian company Toasterlab's ambitious project includes live installations, 16 podcast episodes and 29 augmented reality scenes set in various locations around Edinburgh.

Upon arrival at the Assembly George Square Studio Five, the audience is repeatedly invited to download an app, which can only function with Apple devices. The alternative intercache version for Android is wobbly and relies on the audience's willingness to use a good chunk of their phone's data allowance.

Time economy is also a precious factor during a festival that offers more than 3500 different shows and, for someone who spends just a week in Edinburgh, there isn't enough time for all the features proposed. Contacting the ticket holders in advance and suggesting them to become familiar with the extras beforehand, would give them a better chance to make the most of the elaborate virtual background.
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Penthouse at theSpace on Niddry St


Fast-paced, outrageous and addictive, Penthouse is all you need for a fun night out at the theatre. The exceptional acting and the recurrent use of loud rock music will drag you into the last wild night of a London banker on the edge of ruin.

Once considered the City's most promising banker, Ewan has suddenly lost his girlfriend and nearly 1.8 billion pounds of investors' money in illegal trades so, before ending it all, he decides to rent a penthouse and enjoy a booze-fuelled, cocaine-stuffed farewell party. There is a last-minute game-changer represented by Eloise, a hard-headed escort hired for the night, whose methodical approach to business appears like a handhold to the desperate Ewan. Until the very last minute, the audience is left on a cliff-hanger on whether she will manage to turn around his fate.

Playwright and actor Ed Brody, outlines four well-distinct – and mildly stereotypical – characters, brought alive by the outstanding performances of the whole cast. The speech is vivid, blunt and far from being politically correct. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Blues Brothers Live at the C venue


As each day draws to a close at the Fringe can there be a better place to be than at the Blues Brothers Live concert with a 7 piece band recreating iconic scenes from the famous films.

Jake and Elwood take us through classic line up of songs from the films with high energy, exaggerated movement and strong voices engaging the audience at every turn including Gimme some lovin' , Everybody needs somebody , Rawhide , JaIlhouse rock , Rollin on the river , Minnie the moucher and Stand by your man as well as the fun Flip Flop Fly.

The band is tight and enjoying themselves with Magic Mike on guitar , Fraser on trumpet , John Lucas in trombone , Scott on sax , Jonas on bass , Ray on drums and Ashley on the organ , each given their moment in the spotlight. The three supporting singers also each get their turn at the mike. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: The Time machine at the Assembly Roxy


Stephen Cunningham takes us on an amazing journey into the future as the world ends in HG Well's Time Machine. We travel forward 8000 years as human life is extinguished by the growing sun and he experiences the only creatures that can exist in the harsh environment . It is a nightmarish cautionary tale exhausting to watch and I am sure to perform.

He transports us from Victorian London using his adapted pocket watch as he transcends the years and his excitement at his invention slowly evaporates into fear and despair . He conveys the journey with few props and a powerful physical performance , drawing the audience in at times as if explaining what he has seen to a Victorian audience. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Catherine and Anita at the Assembly Rooms


Theatre can sometimes be uncomfortable viewing at the Edinburgh Fringe and it takes a strong performance to hold and engage the audience when the topic and venue is challenging . Sarah Roy gives such a powerful display in this disturbing play in a portacabin in George street as Catherine who is a troubled twenty something explaining her life through a series of chilling flashback scenes. 

Gradually we understand her friendship with Anita , her difficult relationship with her mother and father and how she comes to meet her first boyfriend Dan with whom she shares the secrets from her life. Roy with a simple twist of her hair and change of posture regresses back to a 7 year old , then a 12 year old and finally the 26 year old on her first date . We are shocked to learn about each relationship and its impact on her life and what brings her to the sad and disturbing end with which the play starts .
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Snap at the Assembly George square


This amazing all Korean cast of illusionists and technical team create a spellbinding world through the magic door into scenes where nothing is as it seems. Without words the 7 talented Magicians enthral and amaze the audience with their tricks.

We first meet the three tricksters in the auditorium as the audience arrives with amusing close up and simple interactions. As the lights dim they introduce us to the magic with a shadow puppet show where some of the shadows pop out of the screen. This is followed with Paintings that come alive , books that catch fire and a red hankie that flies in every direction across the stage. If there are wires they are hard to see! When one brings on his umbrella , it is no surprise when it takes on a life of its own!

They are supported by 4 wonderful specialist magicians. The Florist uses a butterfly, flowers and cards to create his magic. The oddball gives new life to the old trick with three juggling bricks . The alchemist turns sand in to sticks with elegant ease . The dreamer uses clever projection to create his illusions. Each creates a beautiful atmospheric scene that is entrancing and magical.
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Delorean at the Assembly Rooms


Everyone knows a little bit about the Delorean car story whether from the back to the future movie in which it features or from the news stories of the extraordinary investment in Northern Ireland to build the new car or the scandal that follows . But Jon Ivay sets out the whole story from start to finish in this exciting new play which has great potential to develop into a full play. It makes for a dramatic, amusing and shocking drama which has the same power to explain the business dealings behind the news story as the successful Enron musical did.

Simply set at the Assembly Rooms with a strong cast and some short cut devises that could be expanded in a full version, it is entertaining and revealing in equal measure as John Delorean and his associates leave General Motors to start up a new company to create the iconic Gull wing sports car that everyone hoped would be transformational and profitable.
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Friday, 18 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Brutal Cessation at Assembly George Square Theatre


Brutal Cessation is exactly what it says on the tin - Brutal. A frank, no holds barred portrayal of an abusive relationship where both characters are struggling to find a way to finally call time on it. 

This two hander seamlessly swaps parts half way through, allowing the audience to watch the same scenes, comparing how you view certain conversations when the abuser is male or female. This is writer Milly Thomas’s second venture at this year’s Fringe alongside her one woman show, Dust, with Brutal Cessation being performed beautifully by Alan Mahon and Lydia Larson. 

Larson, in particular comes into her own during a scene where she describes how much she wants to physically harm her partner, so much so that this is her fantasy. During the scene, you cannot take your eyes off of her, even though you want to because her level of intensity makes the audience feel so uncomfortable, but that’s the point. Mahon is constant throughout, pitching the last big blow out scene perfectly. The duo manage to tread the line of highlighting the fragility and danger of the relationship whilst keeping the audience engaged throughout. The Assemble Gardens ‘The Box’ venue mirrors the piece, feeling a tad claustrophobic during the more uncomfortable scenes. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Murder She Didn't Write: the Improvised Murder Mystery at the Pleasance Courtyard


Returning again to Edinburgh Fringe for fifth year is @degreesoferror "Murder She Didn't write" a slick formula driven improv show which takes as its loose starting point a cross between Cluedo and the Angela Lansbury 90's detective show . 

On this occasion we meet Mr Orange , Miss Scarlet , Mrs Violet , Mr Blue and the young master Green with musical accompaniment by Mr White. One is to be the victim and one the villain and our detective's sidekick in the audience Jerkins must choose. However these accomplished performers are always dependent on witty and amusing suggestions from the audience and were let down by a rather dull Tea Party in the tale of the poisonous cucumber. On a previous outing the setting on a bouncy castle provided them with much more material to improvise around. 
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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Casting announced for YOUNG MARX at the Bridge Theatre


Nancy Carroll (Jenny von Westphalen), Laura Elphinstone (Nym), Eben Figueiredo (Schramm), Nicholas Burns (Willich), Tony Jayawardena (Gert “Doc” Schmidt), Miltos Yerolemou (Barthélemy),Duncan Wisbey (Fleece/Darwin), Scott Karim (Grabiner/ Singe), Alana Ramsey (Mrs Mullett), Sophie Russell (Librarian), Fode Simbo (Peter), William Troughton (Constable Crimp) and Joseph Wilkins(Sergeant Savage) join the previously announced Rory Kinnear (Marx) and Oliver Chris (Engels) in the world premiere of Young Marx, a new comedy by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner. 

Reuniting the creative team behind the smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors, Young Marx, the opening production at The Bridge, runs from 18 October (opening night Thursday 26 October) until 31 December 2017. Designs are by Mark Thompson with music by Grant Olding, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Arditti.
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Bruce at the Underbelly Cowgate


This year, The Last Great Hunt's 2015 sell-out hit Bruce, a puppetry adventure through space and time, detailing the life of a puppet made of sponge, returns to the Fringe, playing once more to packed houses. Its popularity is undeniable. Bruce himself, an affable, likeable but misfortune-prone man, is brought to life expertly by Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd and Tim Watts, clad in black morph suits - one of whom provides all of Bruce's gestures with white gloved hands, the other the voices of Bruce and several other characters. So far, so good. It's a clever idea, and its Blue Peter-ish sponge central character should make for a show full of typical fringe chutzpah.

Sadly, however, the main problem with this comedy show is that it simply isn't funny. While comedy may be the most subjective of all the art forms, it speaks volumes that at the performance I attended, gag after gag failed to land. There were hushed titters here and there for much of the show. Several punchlines are repeated with a slight twist to reinforce the joke, in the manner of a tired American sitcom. The story begins to drag as it seems to start becoming an hour in search of a big laugh.
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REVEIW: 13 at The Ambassadors Theatre


Jason Robert Brown is now a household name but before Parade no one really knew who he was. The Last Five composer first took Songs for a New World off broadway and rose to acclaim with Parade. Now he’s bringing 13 the story of a young boy who’s life is turned around when his parents start going through a divorce. Uprooted from New York Evan Goldman needs to find his place in the ever changing social conundrum which is a new school. 

The show is being brought to the stage by The British Theatre Academy after their triumphant performance of The Secret Garden last year. 

The set is minimalist and simple with a large map of Appleton Indiana to show us where each scene is happening. Colourful and vibrant, it’s a well used device. 
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FIRST LOOK: Jesus Christ Superstar returns to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park


Following its overwhelming sell-out success in 2016, Jesus Christ Superstar returns this summer (11 August – 16 September), giving audiences one final chance to see the production in its original home.

Declan Bennett, Tyrone Huntley (who won the Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award for his performance in 2016), David Thaxton and Peter Caulfield, reprise their roles of Jesus, Judas, Pilate and Herod. The 2016 production won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival and Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. 

Maimuna Memon takes the role of Mary. Previous credits include Winnie and Wilbur (Birmingham Rep), Lazarus (King’s Cross Theatre), The Busker’s Opera (Park Theatre) and Into The Woods (Royal Exchange Manchester). 
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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

REVIEW: Unfolding Tales at the Stockwell Playhouse


When someone says ‘A musical about the life of J.R.R Tolkien’ you think to yourself ‘Why?’ Yet after reading about his life you’d understand this subject matter is perfect for a musical. Tolkien’s life is littered with drama from the passing of his mother at an early age through to The Battle of the Somme where he contracted trench fever and then to his coup de grace when he published the Lord of the Rings trilogy; and turning this into a musical is the job of young composter Joseph Purdue and book writer Claire Gibson, and what a task it is. 

As the performance starts we’re introduced to the fact this is a semi-staged version and only features the songs. It’s directed by Adam Haigh and he has done an exquisite job of staging at the Stockwell Playhouse. The use of a minimalist set and a constant ensemble presence on stage is very effective. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Tamar Broadbent, Get Ugly at the Underbelly Clover


“When you break up with someone, you become 25% less attractive” – the starter for the comedy talent that is Tamar Broadbent and her new show “Get Ugly”. Armed with jokes on the mic and witty songs accompanied by her keyboard, Broadbent takes the audience through her journey of becoming newly single and finding the strength in herself to finally move the fridge. 

Although her stand up was good, she really came into her own when she got behind the keyboard. Her songs were catchy, refreshing and really did make you laugh. It was easy to forget (whilst you were laughing at the “Shoreditch Wanker” she’d dragged up on stage) but Tamar Broadbent has a beautiful voice. I almost wished there were even more songs, as they were the highlight of the performance. With constant nods to current pop stars, she became the Edinburgh Fringe’s very own Taylor Swift. Break up songs don’t need to be angry or sad, Tamar Broadbent has delivered a new style, and it’s funny, really funny. 
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REVIEW: Olympilads at Theatre N16


Love, financial struggle and mental illness clash in a family drama born by the prolific collaboration between playwright Andrew Maddock and director Niall Phillips. The pair, who received critical acclaim for their previous productions IN/OUT (A Feeling) and HE(ART), confirm with Olympilads a distinctive empathic approach towards real life dilemmas and the impossibility to find an ideal, or even reasonable, solution for them.

It's the summer 2012 in London. The Olympic Games are on TV all day and for the Londoners, the whole life seem to revolve around this sporting event. Darren (Nebiu Samuel) is training hard to beat Usain Bolt in the Men's 100m Finals. Someone said it can't be done but his father used to believe in him and the young boy knows he must run as fast as he can to win. His sister Abigail (Michelle Barwood) has a grudge against him and sees Darren's detachment from reality as a mere act of selfishness. Their brother Simeon (Rhys Yates) has given up on his private life and works hard to support Darren's dreams and reconcile his estranged siblings. Darren is oblivious to Simeon's efforts, Abigail lacks compassion for Darren and Simeon is tired of keeping it all together.
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New UK tour announced for Luke Norris' GROWTH


Luke Norris’ award winning production of Growth will embark upon a second UK tour this Autumn. The production originally debuted at Paines Plough’s ROUNDABOUT @ SUMMERHALL at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2016 and won a prestigious Fringe First award before touring the UK. 

Dominic Jones will play Tobes with Dafydd Llyr Thomas playing roles including Jared, Joff, Julian, Justin, Jack, Jermaine, Jamie and Joel and Safiyya Ingar will play roles including Beth, Ellie, Lily, Lise, Bess, Billie, Liza and Izzy. Growth will tour to over twenty-five venues across the UK.

It’s a lump in a bag of lumps. It’s fine.”

Tobes is young, free and having a ball. Off.

He’s successfully ignored his lump for two years but it’s starting to get in the way - cramping his style and, worse, affecting his sex life. So now there are pants to be dropped, and decisions to be made… It’s a real ball ache.
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Monday, 14 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Atlantic - A Scottish Story at the Assembly Hall


A girl looks across the ocean and longs to discover. But if she is left behind, she must still find a way to live. Is it a curse to stay? What if we couldn't travel, could never leave home and see the world? Can we still be happy?

A superb cast bring to life this breath-taking piece of new writing. The cast is 16 strong and lead by the fearless Caroline Lyell as Evie. We see Evie grow from a boisterous child to a strong courageous woman with a secret. I was absolutely mesmerised by her performance, when she was happy the audience smiled with her and in the more solemn moments the audience were moved to tears. Caroline held us in the palm of her hand from start to finish. 

Reed Lancaster is charming and charismatic as Quinn. He breathes life into the character and is equally believable as both a young excited child and a captivating adventurer. His vocals seem effortless and his story telling truly excellent. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Losers at the Underbelly Cowgate


The ever growing rise in the need for instant fame and fortune, regardless of talent, is a subject that is currently being covered a lot in theatre. Frequently, the pieces become quite similar and struggle to tread the line of entertaining and not preachy. In order to overcome this obstacle, the piece would need to be original, exciting and completely different to something we’ve seen before. Step forward Tit4Twat and their new show Losers. 

Four friends, tired of being talented and not getting the attention they believe they deserve, devise a new game show that they will film, with an audience, to send off to a casting director. This casting director will then hopefully cast just one of them, the winner, in a new reality show, granting them the sudden fame they crave. The audience are each given a voting devise when they enter, with four buttons matching the colour of clothing for each contestant. At the end of each round, you decide who wins and who loses and has to face the losers forfeit. 
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

INTERVIEW: Charlie Stemp, currently starring as Arthur Kipps in HALF A SIXPENCE at the Noël Coward Theatre


How much of the original Tommy Steele film and stage adaptation inspired your portrayal of Kipps?
I’m afraid nothing at all – I have still not seen it to this day. I didn’t want it to interrupt with creating the role.


How do you feel your training at Laine aided your ascension to a leading man of the West End?
It gave me the foundation on which to build my career – their solid values of respect, patience and determination have formed the way I approach my work.


How long did it take you to master the banjo? 
8 weeks – it takes longer than you think!
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Saturday, 12 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Thrill Me - The Leopold & Loeb Story at the C Too


Chicago, 1924. A Shocking true story of two law students who kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy in their desire to commit the perfect crime.

Recent graduates Ellis Dackombe & Harry Downes play beautifully opposite each other in this thrilling production. Downes impressively captures Leopold’s seeming vulnerability in his performance and Dackombe’s Loeb is the perfect concoction of psychopath and charmer. Superbly directed by Guy Retallack, the two gentlemen manoeuvre around the stage with ease taking the audience on a journey of love, mystery, murder and deceit.

Special mention must go to Musical Director Kris Rawlinson, who plays pretty much none-stop for almost 90 minutes. He pours life into the score and brings a huge amount of animation to the piece, moving the musical along and proving to be the final element to complete this fantastic production. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the Pleasance Grand


The Pleasance Grand was heaving with people on my trip to see Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. Now in it’s 10th year, the Olivier award winning troupe have made a name for themselves as a must see during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The premise is similar to that of other improvised shows, the audience decides the fate of the musical that will be performed that night. Luckily, that means no spoilers, as the show I saw is unlikely to ever happen again. 

Set in an Ancient Greek gladiator arena, “Glad” the musical, followed the story of two best friends trying to impress the stuttering, Emperor Caesar. The opening number, “We do it all for Caesar”, made you realise just why the Showstopper team have such packed out audiences – they’re incredible. Our 60 minute musical took inspiration from the music of (thank you audience suggestions), Fame, any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Dear Evan Hanson and Pirates of Penzance. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Atlantic: America & The Great War at the Assembly Hall


“Atlantic: America & The Great War” tells the story two African American sisters who on the eve of WWI uncover their complicated European ancestry. When one disappears while tracing their lineage overseas, the other must leave home for the first time to find her. 

A leading cast of 4 actors, supported by an ensemble of 12. From the moment they stepped on stage I was captivated. Although this is a new musical, it felt familiar and welcoming. It was easy to follow and immerse oneself in.

Annabelle (Abigail Stephenson), Jane (Mariah Copeland), Jesse (Neal Davidson) & Martin (Preston Smith) lead this fierce cast in an exciting hour-long adventure. Seamlessly Directed by David H. Bell, there isn’t a moment in the production where the energy dipped. With a very well utilised minimal set the audience is transported on ships, trains, coaches & into the battlefield. 
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Friday, 11 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Gutted at the Pleasance Jack Dome


A shameless tale of love, laughs and lavatories” describes co-creators Liz Richardson and Tara Robinsons 60-minute coax into the living world of ulcerative colitis, but I feel this description is only the tip of the iceberg white porcelain toilet seat. 

Gutted feels personal from the moment you enter the space, beautifully designed and littered with loos it essentially presented as an English country garden (I was half expecting Mary Berry head to emerge from one of them). This quaint design sums up Tara and Liz’s brilliant take on Richards story – taking something were usually uncomfortable or giggly or embarrassed talking about and putting it out in the front garden for all to see. 

Were taken through her trials and surgeries through a constant swap of characters (all beautifully portrayed by Richards herself) from Flower hating nurses to meaning well friends who simply just don’t understand. None of these characters seemed pushed, everyone had meaning and brought relatability to her story. There was also some audience participation led by Liz which would usually make me cringe but due to her beautifully open energy the audience (including myself) were eager to help.
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The Other Palace Announces Concert-Style Workshops of STARLIGHT EXPRESS


The Other Palace is delighted announce three concert-style workshop performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical STARLIGHT EXPRESS, in The Theatre at The Other Palace on Thursday 14 , Friday 15 and Saturday 16 September at 7.30pm. All tickets are priced £25 and go on sale at 12.00noon on Friday 11 August. Tickets are only available from The Other Palace Box Office, online at theotherpalace.co.uk or by calling 020 7087 7900. 

Members of the original creative team of STARLIGHT EXPRESS will collaborate again, along with a group of carefully chosen actors and musicians to explore the piece. Focussing on the score and lyrics, and working for a week before the public showings, Andrew and the team will continue to work on the show in the daytime before evening performances, responding to audience reaction and feedback as they navigate the exciting process of revisiting this classic work.

STARLIGHT EXPRESS originally opened in the West End in 1984 where it ran for over 7000 performances, and continues to run in a purpose built venue in Bochum, Germany where more than 15 million people have seen it. The Bochum production celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: KIN at the Underbelly’s Circus Hub


Barely Methodical Troupe’s latest show, KIN, is an engaging, comedic, exhilarating piece of family-friendly circus. Perfectly at home in Underbelly’s largest big top, the tremendously talented cast of six burst onto the stage in an hour of entertainment that flies by.

The concept sees the five men competing in some sort of sinister Olympics-come-Hunger-Games, while a stern, straight faced woman looks on. Their competition takes the form of shows of physical prowess, strip-teases and (bad) trumpet playing. When they are deemed to have done well there is a reward; a banana. They are marked as they go, attempting to charm and impress their judge. 

The judge herself, Nikki Rummer, has some beautiful moments, equally as skilled slinking across the stage in an enthralling acrobatic solo or in physically controlling the group of boys as if reminding them of their place in this particular hierarchy. One of the most memorable sequences involves her riding the heads of the group as if on a wave, or standing atop a horse. The strength and skill on display here is astonishing. 
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Dust at the Underbelly Cowgate

I’ve been struggling to write a review for Dust. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because a few days after seeing it, it’s still seems to be affecting me, a true sign of a good show. Before the show, I knew it would be quite tricky, with a subject matter like suicide, but I wasn’t ready for the powerhouse of a performance, that was Milly Thomas. 

The self-penned one woman show, follows Alice’s journey in afterlife following her suicide. Thomas effortless throws herself around the stage, into other characters and positions some actors would shy away from, but that’s what makes it so brilliant. Her performance is brave and real and so very honest. She had the audience in the palm of her hand from the first scene and didn’t let go until the lights went out. The monologues were beautifully crude at points, and whilst I thought it might alienate certain members of the audience, one quick glance around proved me wrong. 
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Thursday, 10 August 2017

REVIEW: Iconic: A Brief History of Drag at The Underbelly Festival


Disclaimer: In this review I use Drag related terminology and will be foot-noting as I go along. 

Drag queens are everywhere now a days. We’re watching them on our TVs, we’re watching them in our theatres and we’re quoting them in our every day lives, well I know I certainly am. For the past 14 weeks a group of friends and I have got together on a Saturday night and watched the latest instalment of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m addicted to it and have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one. Drag has been in our theatrical culture for a long time; the term drag was first coined by Shakespeare meaning ‘Dressed As a Girl' and for it’s varietal season The Underbelly Festival on London’s Southbank, tonight, brings us ‘ICONIC: A brief History of Drag’. School is in and it’s time to educate these chicks* and fangirls in what it’s all about. The ‘Herstory*’ lesson has begun, this is drag 101. ‘Yas Gawd*’ ‘You better werk*’ and ‘Sissy that walk*’ are all compliments that are flying through my mind as the show begins. 
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IN REHEARSALS: Unfolding Tales at The Stockwell Playhouse


Currently in rehearsals is a piece of New Musical Theatre called Unfolding Tales based on the life of the author of ‘The Lord of The Rings Trilogy’ and ‘The Silmarillion’ J. R. R.Tolkein. 

We were lucky enough to be given an exclusive first look at the cast of the stages concert version in rehearsals. 

The cast is led by Liam Doyle as Tolkien (Legally Blonde (Warner Huntingdon III, U.K. Tour), Heathers (Kurt Kelly, The Other Palace), Ghost (Sam Wheat, Asian Tour), WICKED (Fiyero, UK tour), Mamma Mia (Eddie, Novello Theatre), West Side story (Tony, Kilworth House Theatre), Jodie Steele as Tolkien’s Mother
Mabel (WICKED (Stand by Elphaba, UK & International Tour), FAME (Carmen Diaz), Legally Blonde (Margot & 1st cover Elle/Brooke, Kilworth House), Jesus Christ Superstar (1st cover Mary, UK Tour), RENT (Mimi, The Tabard Theatre) and Alexa Terry as Edith Bratt, who originated the part (Insane About Broadway (Musical Theatre concert, West-End), Unfolding Tales (Edith Bratt, Arts Theatre), Dick Whittington (Pantomime), Aida Cruises (Lead soloist).
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Circa: Humans at the Underbelly Circus Hub


The latest offering from contemporary circus heavyweights Circa, Humans, is a beautifully stripped-back knockout. Created by Yaron Lifchitz, it puts the spotlight on the bodies of ten acrobats as they physically explore what it means to be human. 

As the audience enter the large circus tent at Underbelly’s delightful Circus Hub on the Meadows, the performers also trickle in one by one. They move into the performance space and change into their costumes for the show – a simple affair. This perceptively reminds the audience that these incredible performers are humans, just like us. It is from this that the audience are invited in to the world of the piece. From a thrilling trapeze sequence, to towers of people higher than seems possible, to seeing these performers try to lick their elbows, Humans becomes a love letter to the human body, and the ways our bodies allow us to connect. Lifchitz is not simply captivated by the amazing things these bodies can achieve, but also by their frailties and it is in this marriage that the piece truly succeeds.
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Nassim at the Traverse Theatre


Nassim Soleimanpour’s self-titled fourth play is a fantastically exciting theatrical experiment which sees a different performer take the stage each day, unrehearsed and having never read the script. This was Monica Dolan’s turn. Known for her appearances on television, including W1A, and premiering her own solo show The B*easts in Edinburgh this summer, she bravely launched herself into the unknown. 

Introduced by a producer of the show, Dolan was told to open a large box to find within it the four-hundred-page script for the performance. She opened the box; within it was a simple page containing an instruction. Her first response… ‘Do I have to obey it?’ This wonderfully set off the piece in which both performer and audience are asked to be complicit in its making.
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EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Thus Spoke… at CanadaHub @ Kings Hall in association with Summerhall


At the first ever incarnation of CanadaHub at the Fringe, a new venue giving the cream of Canada’s art world a platform, two of Montreal’s most celebrated and influential theatre artists have come together to present Thus Spoke… and it is a thrilling thing to behold. This is not your grandmother’s theatre; the audience are not left passive in the dark, nor ignored by the performers. There is no narrative, as such, and not everything can be intellectually understood or explained. But the atmosphere is enthralling, drawing you in to this charming and bizarre piece.

Directed by Frédérick Gravel and Étienne Lepage, with movement by Gravel and words by Lepage, it is a patchwork of philosophy, political rants, movement and song. With topics covered as diverse as the problems with assassinating Trump to the social taboo of female masturbation, as well as a speech reclaiming the label of being an arsehole, the company of four performers have a captivating dryness and manage to somehow not take themselves too seriously. This prevents the piece from becoming heavy or laboured; they know it is a piece of avant-garde theatre, and keep their tongue planted firmly in cheek about it. 
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