Monday, 30 October 2017

REVIEW: People, Places and Things at Bristol Old Vic


People, Places and things, the highly acclaimed play by Duncan Macmillan is now on tour around the leading University cities at the same time as the original cast open on Broadway. It is a very modern play dealing as it does with mental health , alcoholism and drug addiction and the need to avoid the people, places and things that trigger that addiction. It is not comfortable viewing but the overall sense at the end is admiration for the central performance of Lisa Dwyer Hogg and the slick production and direction of Jeremy Herrin.

Lisa Dwyer Hogg plays Emma (or Nina or Sarah) the actress who following an on stage breakdown checks into a clinic for addiction therapy. At times we can't tell if she is acting, lying, or telling the truth and it demands a full on intense performance being on stage throughout the production . It must be exhausting to play and though we never like the character we can't take our eyes off her as she painfully reveals her inner most thoughts. 
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Sunday, 29 October 2017

REVIEW: Under Milk Wood at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury


Under Milk Wood was first staged in the West End in 1954, the night before it was broadcast by BBC radio and remains today an innovative and delightful play for voices in which Dylan Thomas wonderful poetic language paints glorious pictures of the people and village of Llareggub in Wales . It was also the first professional play at the fantastic Watermill Theatre and therefore is a fitting revival to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The Play spans one spring day in the village whose name spells bugger all backwards and while it is true not much happens, we meet and learn about the lives and interests of nearly 50 residents in the village . These characters are played with simple costume changes by an excellent cast of 5 and our guide is Alistair McGowan as the voice. He starts in the darkness with "to begin at the beginning " and the light gradually rises as the day dawns and the characters awake from their dreams. The bare thrust stage , with pale blue clouds on a back cloth provides a blank canvas on which his words paint the various locations from Bay view to Bath cottage and along Coronation street and Donkey street . As he says "the town ripples like a lake in the waking haze".
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Thursday, 26 October 2017

REVIEW: STORY JAM, Reel and Unravel: Rough Crossings at Canada Water Culture Space


Storytelling is the most ancient form of performing art, for the innate desire human beings have always had to share personal thoughts and experiences with others. Potentially, storytelling has the same age of human language itself and, even now, it is felt as a highly rewarding form of artistic expression, for its power to create an immediate and unfiltered connection between the performer and their audience. Unfiltered, because in most instances – as in the one I went to see at the Canada Water Culture Space – the effectiveness of the message conveyed doesn't rely on the use of fancy props, makeup, costumes, nor on particularly elaborated audio-visual effects, to make an impact on the spectators. 

Curated by Lucy Lill and Alys Torrance, Story Jam offers a season of events called 'Reel and Unravel', where storytelling and live music intertwine with fascinating results. Protagonist of the one I took part in, was Phil Okwedy, who shared his 'Rough Crossings' episodes with the support of the 30-strong London Shanty Collective. Born in Cardiff to a Welsh mother and Nigerian father, Okwedy took the audience on a long and perilous journey by sea, accompanied by the shanty musical repertoire, which is deeply rooted in the British maritime working-class. Back in the days of merchant sailing vessels, these songs accompanied the tasks of the sailors, providing a rhythm that allowed them to synchronise their input and minimise the effort.
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PIPPIN will transfer from the Hope Mill Theatre to the Southwark Playhouse next February


The Manchester transfer of PIPPIN, from the Hope Mill Theatre, will play the Southwark Playhouse from the 23rd February 2018 to the 24th March 2018. 

The show received its Manchester premiere at the city’s award winning theatre in the Summer with a four-week run at Hope Mill Theatre from Friday 25 August to Saturday 23 September.

The cast for PIPPIN included as Mairi Barclay as Fastrada/Berthe (A Damsel In Distress); Jonathan Carlton as Pippin (The Hired Man); Bradley Judge as Lewis (Yank!); Tessa Kadler as Catherine (Carousel); Rhidian Marc as Charles (Phantom Of The Opera, Les Miserables); Genevieve Nicole as Leading Player (Chicago, The Producers); Olivia Faulkner; Andrew Halliday; Scott Hayward; and Ellie Seaton.
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REVIEW: The Lady from the Sea at the Donmar Warehouse


The Lady From the Sea was written by Henrik Ibsen 129 years ago. Validated by time and the fact that Ibsen is the second most performed playwright of all time after Shakespeare, it is no wonder that this play is still as fresh as paint. Elinor Cook’s version transposes the story from 19th century Norway to a Caribbean island, breathing some new and interesting undertones into the story. Coupled with the direction of newly appointed Young Vic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, this was clearly a hot ticket. 

The lights go up on a modern looking stage, brightly lit and being decorated by two sisters Hilde and Bolette in honour of their late mother’s birthday. Their stepmother Ellida, also the protagonist of the piece, makes an effort to chime in but with a taut performance from Nikki Amuka-Bird we can clearly see tensions afoot; setting up one of Ibsen’s classic themes of social expectations at odds with the individual’s true feelings. We are then introduced to Doctor Wangel (Finbar Lynch), father to the girls and Ellida’s husband; an old friend comes to visit and the story begins. 
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Casting is announced for the world premiere of Bananaman the Musical at the Southwark Playhouse



Matthew McKenna is unmasked today as the star and “handsome hero” of Bananaman the Musical.

Bananaman, the Man-of-Peel, is flying out of the pages of much-loved comic Beano, and the hugely popular TV cartoon, in the world premiere of Bananaman the Musical, the hilarious new musical comedy by Leon Parris. 

Bananaman is a unique member of the superhero ranks. He may have a jawline you can see from space and sport an exciting tight, lycra outfit, but this superhero has the muscles of 20 men and the brain of 20 mussels. Which isn’t much! Bananaman will be attempting to save the world at London’s Southwark Playhouse this Christmas. 

Matthew McKenna has appeared in many major West End musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Legally Blonde the Musical, We Will Rock You, Starlight Express (as Electra), and The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff) and both Singing in the Rain and 42nd Street at the Theatre Du Chatelet, Paris.
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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Best shows to go to this Halloween

The Woman in Black 


One of the classic London thrillers, now in its 25th year and having been seen by over 7 million people this is a must see over the Halloween period. Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story is brought to dramatic life in Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation. Robin Herford’s gripping production is a brilliantly successful study in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror.



The Exorcist 


This new addition to the West End is sure to give you some chills down your spine. Considered the scariest movie of all time, the film adaptation of The Exorcist sparked unprecedented worldwide controversy when it was released in cinemas in 1973. Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel terrified an entire generation, The Exorcist is unleashed onto the West End stage for the very first time in a uniquely theatrical experience directed by award winning film and theatre Director Sean Mathias.

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First look at the new WICKED UK & Ireland Tour cast


WICKED, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is pleased to release new production photography, by Matt Crockett, of Amy Ross as Elphaba, Helen Woolf as Glinda and Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero, who lead the cast, together with Jack Harrison-Cooper as Chistery, of the forthcoming return engagement of the spectacular, critically acclaimed and multi record-breaking UK & Ireland Tour, which begins a five week season at the Bristol Hippodrome from 31 January 2018.

This production of WICKED will also play a special engagement at Theater 11 in Zürich, marking the musical’s Swiss premiere, from 15 November-31 December 2017 (www.musical.ch/en/wicked).

The full cast is Amy Ross (Elphaba), Helen Woolf (Glinda), Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero), Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Kim Ismay (Madame Morrible), Emily Shaw (Nessarose), Iddon Jones (Boq), Nikki Bentley (Standby for Elphaba), Charli Baptie, Jason Broderick, Samantha Brown, Hannah Cadec, Grace Chapman, James Davies-Williams, Howard Ellis, Amy Goodwin, Daniel James Greenway, Jack Harrison-Cooper, Charlie Karlsen, Nicole Lupino, Stuart MacIver, Stacey McGuire, Sara Morley, Emily Olive Boyd, Georgia Rae Briggs, Paul Saunders, James Titchener, Helen Walsh, Amy Webb, Luke Woollaston and Benjamin Yates.
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Monday, 23 October 2017

REVIEW: Fishskin Trousers at Park 90


The premise for Fishskin Trousers is intriguing. The mysterious setting of Orford Ness, a remote island off the Suffolk coast full of ancient myths and coastal sounds . The simple stage setting transports us straight away to the beach with rocks , pebbles and modern debris washed ashore. The light reflecting off the water and the sounds of gulls and gentle mewing from the sea sets the scene perfectly.

Into this space walk three seemingly disconnected characters, separated by time and backgrounds and we begin to be drawn into the mysteries and tragedies of Orford Ness and to puzzle over their connections. Elizabeth Kuti has created three interesting characters each with a tragic backstory . The problem is that the exploration of their stories is presented as a series of static monologues directed at the audience either seated or standing while the other two characters hold their frozen poses. Except for one knowing glance, there is no interaction between the characters or response to the stories. We are therefore left to focus on the words and delivery of each monologue .Quite simply this is not enough to hold our interest for the ninety minutes running time.
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Cast announced for THE BORROWERS at The Watermill Theatre


The Watermill Theatre’s Christmas show, The Borrowers, Mary Norton’s classic adventure story, runs from 16 November to 31 December. This adaptation by Theresa Heskins will be performed by actor-musicians with a new score composed by Tarek Merchant. The cast includes Anna Fordham (Rich William/Eggletina), Frazer Hadfield (Boy), Natasha Karp (Mrs Driver), Ed MacArthur (Crampfurl/Spiller), Nenda Neurer (Arrietty), Matthew Romain (Pod) and Charlotte Workman (Homily).

The Clock family live under the floorboards of a large country house. Resourceful, clever and just four inches tall, Pod, Homily and their intrepid daughter Arrietty, have their lives thrown into peril when Arrietty ventures out into the big blue-skied world and is spotted by a ‘human bean’.

The final show in The Watermill’s 50th anniversary year, The Borrowers is directed by the theatre’s Artistic Director, Paul Hart. It is designed by Toots Butcher, lighting is by George Seal with movement by Tom Jackson Greaves.
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Mad On Her! Is Back in the Heart of London at Above The Arts Theatre


Mad On Her! Is Back in the Heart of London. 

Feast your eyes upon the glamourous and glitzy cast of "Mad On Her" - 80s Jukebox musical, say Mad On Her fast- you'll get the gimmick, Mad On Her is back after a successful short tour around the UK's top Fringe venues including Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, and is ready to take The Heart of London by storm.

Mad On Her will play Sundays in November and December at the Above The Arts Theatre, Leicester Square, from the 5th of November to the 3rd of December, and the line up is through the roof. (5th November is Sold Out!)

Mad On Her Principal Cast includes Emmerdale’s Sweetheart Kelsey Beth Crossley, X Factor/ Loserville’s Sarah Watson, Jade Johnson (CBBC's Worlds End) James Colebrook and West End Power-House Laura Wilson, Joining them are Jordan Todd (BGT semi-finalist) Dani Acors (Jesus Christ Superstar) Brooke Havana Bailey (Billy Elliot) Simone Kite (Moulin Rouge) Sara Latif (BBC Bollywood), Emily Shuck, Hollie Steel and Phoebe Rose White (Rent).
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Further Touring Dates Announced for MISS SAIGON Tour


Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce further touring dates for his acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical MISS SAIGON. Further to the previously announced dates, MISS SAIGON will now also play Bradford Alhambra (19 September – 20 October 2018), Sunderland Empire (24 October – 17 November 2018) and Theatre 11, Zurich (28 November 2018 – 13 January 2019). Full tour schedule below.

This tour of MISS SAIGON opened at Leicester Curve to sell-out business in July this year and has continued this success with rave reviews and nightly standing ovations in Birmingham and currently Dublin.

This new production was first seen in the West End in March 2014 where it opened to record-breaking advance sales and critical acclaim with Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph writing “This thrilling new production spills out beyond the theatre and speaks directly to the times we live in”. The show swept the board at the 2015 Whatsonstage.com awards winning a record breaking nine awards, the most awards ever won by a single show in the 15-year history of the awards including: Best West End Show and Best Revival of a Musical. IN March this year, it opened on Broadway where it plays to nightly ovations and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The New Yorker recently called it a “Dynamite Broadway revival”.
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Thursday, 19 October 2017

REVIEW: The Secret Keeper at The Ovalhouse


Written by Angela Clerkin The Secret Keeper is a modern fairytale based in a fantasy kingdom set many years away from this one. The tale is of a young girl who keeps secrets, which manifest as Magpies, to the point where she is over burdened by them. 

From the beginning the humour that resides as the basis is apparent. When walking in actors are dressed in hoods, with beaks and white gloves portraying magpies greet you with a pull string talking doll narrating the settings. We’re soon introduced to ‘The Good Daughter’ the centre of this piece. Expertly played by Clerkin, The Good Daughter is an innocent bystander emotionally blackmailed into keeping secrets and this isn’t just the only under current running through this piece. Although neglect and child abuse run through, it’s only lightly touched upon as heavy political satire takes over. This is still 
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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Moya Angela joins Karen Man and Marisha Wallace as Effie White in DREAMGIRLS


American star Moya Angela joins the London cast of Dreamgirls as Effie White with Karen Mav and Marisha Wallace, who already star in the London production alongside original London Effie, Amber Riley. They will be sharing the role of Effie from November 20 2017. 

Amber Riley will play her last performance on 18th November 2017. 


The show has also announced that it is extending booking until June 2018. 

Electric vocalist Moya Angela has been a respected musical theatre actress in the US for many years, receiving great acclaim playing Effie White in the North American revival tour of Dreamgirls, touring with Disney’s The Lion King and being part of the original Broadway casts of Ghost the Musical and most recently In Transit. She wowed judges and audiences when she auditioned for the 2016 series of America’s Got Talent, reaching the quarterfinal stages.

Established star of Broadway Marisha Wallace joined the London cast of Dreamgirls earlier this year having received rave reviews in the role of Effie White in the Dallas Theater Centre production. On Broadway, she has originated roles in Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten! and toured the US in The Book of Mormon.
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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cast announced for the Manchester Royal Exchange production of GUYS AND DOLLS



Guys and Dolls, produced with Talawa Theatre Company is being Directed by Michael Buffong. It will be set on the streets of Harlem during one of New York City's 'most significant cultural awakenings'. It will feature the original music from composer and lyricist Frank Loesser.


The cast includes Koko Basigara (Allison), Evonnee Bentley-Holder (Mimi), Nathanael Campbell (Liverlips Louis), Darren Charles (Society Max), Ewen Cummins (Lieutenant Brannigan), Chelsey Emery (Agatha), Ray Fearon (Natahan Detroit), Kurt Kansley (Harry the Horse), Danielle Kassarate (Angie the Fox), Fela Lufadeju (Benny Southwest), Melanie Marshall (General Matilda B.Cartwright), Ako Mitchell (Nicely-Nicely Johnson), Abiona Omonua (Sarah Brown), Javar Parker (Rusty Charlie), Joe Speare (Big Julie), Jaime Tait (Calvin), Toyan Thomas-Browne (Moe), Trevor A Toussaint (Arvide Abernathy), Lucy Vandi (Miss Adelaide), T'shan Williams (Martha) & Ashley Zhangazha (Sky Masterson).
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STOMP to close in London’s West End on 7 January 2018


The Olivier Award-winning and global phenomenon STOMP will end its 15-year run in London’s West End on 7 January 2018, following a box office record-breaking 10-year run at London’s Ambassadors Theatre. However, as the creators of STOMP, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, state, this is not the end of STOMP in London: 

“We want to emphasise that we don’t consider this the end of STOMP here; we actually feel it’s going to be good for the show to take a break, reconfigure, reinvent and return at some point in the future in a different London venue, where we can present the show in a way that is more in keeping with its original ethos.”

In 2018, the show will continue to tour throughout the globe, with dates already confirmed for Paris, Beirut, Prague, Lisbon and Milan, as well as a Dutch tour, a German tour, an Indian tour, an Italian tour, an Australian and New Zealand tour and a French tour. In addition, negotiations are underway for extended seasons in China, South America and Turkey. 
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Adult casting announced for the Matilda The Musical 2018/19 UK and Ireland Tour


Today, the Royal Shakespeare Company announces the adult casting for the first five venues of the Matilda The Musical 2018/19 UK and Ireland Tour. Craige Els will reprise the role of Miss Trunchbull, having played her in the West End for three years between 2014 and 2017. He will be joined by Carly Thoms as Miss Honey and Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood as well as former West End cast-mate Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood. 

Winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, Matilda The Musical will open at Leicester Curve(5 – 24 March) and will then tour to the Dublin Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (4 – 28 April), Sunderland Empire (8 May – 2 June), Milton Keynes Theatre (5 June – 30 June), Birmingham Hippodrome (3 July – 8 September), Manchester Palace (18 September – 24 November) and Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre (4 December – 12 January 2019). Further dates and venues are to be announced in due course. The West End production will continue to play at the Cambridge Theatre, where it is currently booking until 27 May 2018.
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Monday, 16 October 2017

Mischief Theatre announce their return to the West End with MISCHIEF MOVIE NIGHT



Mischief Theatre, the award-winning company behind The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, today announce their return to the West End with Mischief Movie Night, the improvised movie live on stage, which will play for a strictly limited season at the Arts Theatre from 13 December 2017. 

Returning to their comedy roots, Mischief Theatre will bring the audiences’ genre, location and title suggestions to life complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors’ cuts and a live score. The cast includes Josh Elliot as Not Sure, Dave Hearn as Uncertain, Harry Kershaw as No Idea, Henry Lewis as Don’t Know Yet, Ellie Morris as Couldn’t Tell You, Charlie Russell as TBC, Jonathan Sayer as Who Knows and Henry Shields as Guess Who. They will be joined onstage by musicians Chris Ash and Richard Baker. 
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THE OTHER PALACE Announces Autumn/Winter Season in The Other Studio


The Other Palace is delighted to announce the upcoming shows in the Autumn/Winter Season for The Other Studio.

There is an exciting mix of one-night performances and longer running shows in October and November beginning with “Come Join the Dots” on Friday 27 October; an evening of slick and sophisticated close part harmony, with just a dash of mischief. Fresh from their sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, “Hot Gay Time Machine” covers all the moments of a gay man’s life from coming out to navigating the naked politics of the locker room and runs for six performances from Monday 6 November to Wednesday 8 November. The National Youth Music Theatre return to The Other Palace for an evening celebrating the “Great American Songbook” on Saturday 25 November; and on Monday 27 November and Tuesday 28th November Niv Petel explores the effects of National Service on everyday life in “Knock Knock”.

Get into the festive spirit from early December and “Celebrate Christmas with Natalie Rushdie” as she performs a selection of Diva and Christmas Classics on Saturday 2 December. “The Barricade Boys – Christmas Cabaret” lights up the stage from Tuesday 5 December to Saturday 23 December showcasing some of the world’s finest male voices from the West End, International Tour and Hollywood movie of the world’s longest running musical - Les Misèrables. 
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Saturday, 14 October 2017

REVIEW: Metropolis at Ye Olde Rose and Crown


Here, in my humble opinion are a list of subjects that shouldn’t be made into a musical:

The ‘successful’ reign of Hitler, The Trial of OJ Simpson and Metropolis, sadly the last one has been created. This musical adaptation by Joe Brooks and Dusty Hughes of the 1927 cult classic is the next show that the resident company of Ye Olde Rose and Crown Pub, All Star Productions have decided to tackle - the main question is, why? 

Metropolis’ story is about the massive class divide in the year 2026 where the elitist society live in leisure whilst machines facilitate their way of life and the poor, Workers run the machines. 
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Friday, 13 October 2017

JERSEY BOYS Tour Full Cast & Extra Dates



Due to overwhelming demand, a further 12 dates have been announced for the second UK & Ireland Tour of the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning musical JERSEY BOYS, taking the tour through to March 2019. 

The newly announced 2018/19 dates are The Marlowe Canterbury (2 – 13 October 2018), New Victoria Theatre Woking (16 – 27 October 2018), Bristol Hippodrome (30 October – 17 November 2018), Leeds Grand Theatre (20 November – 1 December 2018), New Theatre Oxford (18 December 2018 – 5 January 2019), Wales Millennium Centre (16– 26 January 2019), Palace Theatre Manchester (29 January – 16 February 2019), Edinburgh Playhouse (19 February – 2 March 2019), Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin (5 – 16 March 2019) and Mayflower Theatre Southampton (19 – 30 March 2019).
The producers are also delighted to announce that Michael Watson will be playing Frankie Valli, Simon Bailey will be Tommy De Vito, Declan Egan will be Bob Gaudio and Lewis Griffiths will be Nick Massi. Michael, Simon, Declan and Lewis have all previously performed their roles in JERSEY BOYS to great acclaim: Michael and Simon in the West End, Declan in the West End and Australia, and Lewis in the first UK and Ireland tour. Dayle Hodge will return to the production to play Frankie Valli at certain performances.
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REVIEW: Pop-Up Opera's Hansel and Gretel at the V&A Museum of Childhood


‘Do as your Mother tells you or you will be eaten by someone who looks strangely like her’ was the moral of the story at Pop-up opera’s interpretation of Humperdink’s 1894 Hansel and Gretel. Their mission is to stage opera in places where it wouldn’t usually be staged and make it more accessible for any audience member. Whilst this is a noble cause I feel as if they relied on the wrong devices to make it ‘accessible’. 


As I walked into the V&A Museum of Childhood’s gift shop I was greeted with a piano, two projectors and a fridge. The slight modern twist on this contemporary classic is nice to see but is updating a minimalist set what is needed to make it relatable to modern audiences? Apparently it’s not all that’s needed. The projector screens are narrating what is being sung; however I feel slightly cheated by this.
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REVIEW: Oslo at the Harold Pinter Theatre


Lord Reith set the mission of the BBC to Inform, Educate and Entertain and it is rare when a West End play sets out to deliver these lofty ambitions in a commercial drama but JT Rogers has a written a brilliant play that delivers this with an outstanding cast and a slick good looking production. It is a docudrama with a strong feel of verbatim theatre that sets out to Inform us of the role Norway played in the delicate negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in a hectic 12 months in 1992/93. It Educates us on the technique of gradualism in negotiating between extreme opposing factions to reach what seems an impossible goal, challenges us all to consider how we can support the “possibilities on the horizon” and promotes the work of The International Peace Institute. Most of all it Entertains for over two and half hours as the delicate and fraught discussions unfold. Director Bartlett Sher cleverly manages this balance to create an enthralling evening.

We are guided through the process by Terje Rod-Larsen, the first director of the Fafo Institute which played a central role in the negotiations and his wife Mona Juul , a career minded official in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. This couple played by Toby Stephens and Lydia Leonard with grit, optimism and humour provide the exposition of the process directly to the audience and carefully through white lies, misdirection and determination bring the two sides together. As they say “what is a lie but a dream that might come true”. We see little of their personal relationship as the play focuses on their professional engagement in the negotiations.
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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

REVIEW: Legally Blonde at New Victoria Theatre, Woking


If you’ve not seen the classic chick-flick film Legally Blonde, starring Reese Witherspoon, where have you been since 2001? Elle Woods, the chihuahua loving sorority sweetheart takes it upon herself to follow the love of her life, Warner, to Harvard Law School to prove to him that being blonde does not mean she’s not “serious” or “a Marilyn, not a Jackie”. It’s light-hearted yet deeply inspiring for girls everywhere who have ever wanted to prove someone wrong. 

After a successful run on Broadway, then at London’s Savoy Theatre starring Sheridan Smith and a stint at Leicester Curve last year, this UK tour was eagerly anticipated: starring Lucie Jones as Elle Woods, Rita Simmons as Paulette and Bill Ward as Professor Callahan. This is the fourth version of the stage show I’ve seen in the last 18 months, so my expectations were high. 

At Woking’s press night performance, due to illness, Lucie Jones was absent but we were treated to a debut performance as Elle from understudy Rebecca Stenhouse. I love seeing understudies have their opportunity to shine and when it comes to debuts, the atmosphere surrounding them is unique and adds an indescribable excitement to the evening which can be felt from the stage. Rebecca Stenhouse was remarkable - truly effortless as Elle. In a role which commands more stage-time than Mama Rose in Gypsy, she was energetic, warm and lovable from the offset and lit up the stage throughout. Brava, Diva!
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Sunday, 8 October 2017

REVIEW: 31 hours at the Bunker Theatre


31 Hours by Kieran Knowles is the type of explosive play that makes you watch your every step on the way home from the theatre, afraid something may fall on you, or you may bump into someone. It presents what theatre offers at its best: a mirror to society, making the audience dread and embrace every word that is coming. 

“Every 31 hours someone takes their own life by jumping in front of a train. They are ten times more likely to be male.” 

31 Hours is the story of four men who clean up after rail suicides. Four actors (Abdul Salis, James Wallwork, Salvatore D’Aquilla and Jack Sunderland) enter in their Network Rail orange work gear, and don’t leave the stage for about ninety minutes. They switch roles, going from the employees to the employers, family members to suicidal characters. Not only do these four workers have to face the aftermath of suicide and “incidents” every week, but the hard work they put in leaves them isolated, not willing to talk. This in turn brings its own questions about why they are doing this job at all and even what they are living for. 
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REVIEW: A Nazi Comparison at the Waterloo East Theatre


As someone who's been studying communication techniques for many years, I was initially impressed by the simplicity with which Craft Theatre conveys its political message. Based on Hanns Johst's play Schlageter and comparing contemporary political leaders to Hitler, the company highlights how propaganda relies on the divulgation of distorted information to manipulate public opinion. To corroborate this idea, we're also shown a video clip about Corbyn and the responsibilities of the press in his recent unsuccess during the general election. Another topic that emerges at the beginning of the play, is the Grenfell Tower disaster and the cloud of misinformation around the reasons of the fire and the number of victims. 

Getting caught in a pro-truth rally whilst heading to university, main character Clare (Louise Goodfield) meets Craig (Craig Edgely), a self-defined 'white hero' and a civil rights activist. Smitten with him and inspired by his socio-political views, Clare gives an academic presentation, where she announces her retirement from a course in Public Relations to embrace the fight for social justice. Focusing on the dynamics of American propaganda since the end of World War II, Clare makes a list of the country's political manoeuvres which have been supported by worldwide communication campaigns, despite breeching diplomatic agreements and disregarding basic human rights. 
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Friday, 6 October 2017

REVIEW: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the The Greenwich Theatre


Nick Lane is the next in line to take the beast that is Jekyll and Hyde. The Stage had named his previous adaptation as ‘one of the best regional theatre productions in the UK’ when it was last performed. Awaiting the audience is a simple set contorted by shadows towering over the four chairs which stood empty on the stage; already an ominous atmosphere settles across the stage like the calm before a storm. 

Balancing between 4th wall breaking narration and living in the moment the interest of the audience doesn’t wane. In fact it’s the opposite; the audience grip on to every word spoken by the small troupe of players skirting the boards. There’s only four of them but the amount of characters played you’d think it was a company of ten. There is a real storyteller feel to this piece and each glance, sentence and movement is multilayered and deep. You can see a real synergy between actors, piece and director. 
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Thursday, 5 October 2017

REVIEW: Flashdance at the New Wimbledon Theatre


Based on the 1983 film, Flashdance first made its way onto our local stages back in 2008 with a UK tour of the show, starring musical theatre legend Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and the late Bernie Nolan. It transferred into London’s West End in 2010, again featuring Ms Hamilton-Barritt, at the Shaftesbury Theatre before closing after 16 weeks. Since then we have seen a US tour production and many international ones, this time Sell-a-Door production have brought it back to the UK. I wish they hadn't. 

This show lacked any style or vision, nothing was interesting or different. A boring concept which I’m sure anyone with the amateur rights to the show will do exactly the same. Possibly to a higher standard. 

The choreography of the show, which is meant to be the highlight, was instead predictable and uninspiring. Just because you add in lots of girls doing splits in different positions, doesn’t mean I’m going to be interested. In fact, it means the total opposite. 
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REVIEW: Labour of Love at the Noel Coward Theatre


James Graham is fast becoming the leading British modern author with his sharp witted comedies based on well researched insight into the events of recent decades. Our House brilliantly told the story of the hung parliaments in the seventies and Ink, now playing just along the road from Labour of Love explores Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the Sun at beginning of seventies . Now Michael Grandage Company and Headlong bring his latest play to open in the West End, a revealing comedy about the ups and downs of the Labour Party.

This is a play of two halves. In the first half we travel back in time to 1990 and David Lyons election as constituency MP for Ashfield in the midlands through the events that shaped his career and relationship with the local constituency party who select him. In the second half we travel forward in time over the same events revealing the real truths behind the story . The result is a palindrome of events that reads differently depending on the direction of travel.
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

REVIEW: The Best Man at the Richmond Theatre


Gore Vidal’s 1960 Tony award nominated play The Best Man has been given a UK premiere by Bill Kenwright with an all star stellar cast of well known television drama actors and appears to be packing in audiences in its short south of England tour. Set is the hotel suites of two of the three candidates for nomination in the US presidential primaries it a well written and well acted production. Although the original play was a thinly veiled attack on the actual candidates for the 1960 Democratic convention and the votes chasing in the US electoral delegate system is alien to a British audience, the melodramatic structure works well to create an enjoyable and entertaining drama. The recent events in the US presidential elections between Clinton and Trump make this seem as relevant today as when it is set.

What makes this production buzz and enthral the audience is the central performances of the five main characters battling for the nomination, the two candidates, their wives and the “kingmaker” former President whose endorsement they all seek. Martin Shaw is majestic as Secretary William Russell, the candidate with principles and integrity but with dark secrets that you can feel just below the surface of his otherwise controlled poker faced and intelligent persona. When he is on stage with the wonderful Jack Shepherd, as the elder statesman and former president Hockstader, the drama is spell binding. Both are compelling watching and completely convincing. The rival candidate Jo Cantwell is played by the American Jeff Fahey. He is unscrupulous, conniving and unable to read people and we naturally dislike him although he does not present the image of Kennedy on whom he is based reflecting Vidal’s dislike of him.
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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Full casting has been announced for EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE at the Apollo Theatre



Full casting has been announced for the West End transfer of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, directed by Jonathan Butterell and written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, which will play a limited season at the Apollo Theatre from Monday 6 November following a critically acclaimed run at Sheffield Crucible. 

As previously announced John McCrea will return to play the title role of Jamie alongside Josie Walker who reprises her role as his Mum, Margaret. They are joined by the following original cast members from the run in Sheffield Daniel Davids (Levi), Mina Anwar (Rayia ‘Ray’ Begum), Luke Baker (Dean Paxton), Courtney Bowman (Fatimah), Tamsin Carroll (Miss Hedge), James Gillan (Tray Sophisticay), Harriet Payne (Bex), Shiv Rabheru (Cy), Lucie Shorthouse (Pritti Pasha) and Kirstie Skivington (Vicki) along with Alex Anstey (Laika Virgin), Luke Bayer, Marvyn Charles, Ken Christiansen (Jamie’s Dad), Jordan Cunningham (Sayid), Ryan Hughes (Mickey), Daniel Jacob (Sandra Bollock), Cherelle Jay, Rebecca McKinnis, Phil Nichol (Hugo), Chloe Pole and Lauran Rae (Becca). 
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REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger at the Arts Theatre


Premiering in London at the Southwark Playhouse last year, Toxic Avenger returns to London after a hugely successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Now playing at the Arts Theatre through to December 3rd. 

Based on the 1984 cult classic, The Toxic Avenger follows the story of a small town hero who gets dunked in toxic waste after trying to clean up the problem. Add in a corrupt Mayor, a New Jersey mother and a blind love interest and you get this. 

The story is completely bizarre and silly but its perfect escapism. With whats going on in the world at the moment, shows like The Book of Mormon are what we need and this follows in their footsteps. 
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Monday, 2 October 2017

National Tour announced for the award winning musical TEDDY


Sarah Loader for Snapdragon Productions in association with The Watermill Theatre present the award-winning musical “TEDDY” at The Watermill Theatre from Thursday 11 January – Saturday 10 February 2018 (Press Night Monday 15 January at 7.30pm), ahead of a national tour and a London season at The Vaults, Waterloo from Thursday 29 March – Saturday 5 May 2018. Full tour schedule and on sale information below.

Following the recent success of their smash hit production “Boudica” at The Globe, Tristan Bernays reunites with director Eleanor Rhode and choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves for the 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll musical TEDDY. First seen at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015 and winner of Best New Musical at the Off West End Awards, TEDDY has music by Dougal Irvine, Musical direction by Harrison White, Set design by Max Dorey, Lighting design by Christopher Nairne, Sound design by Max Pappenheim, Costume design by Holly Rose Henshaw and Casting by Natalie Gallacher for Pippa Ailion Casting.
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