Thursday, 30 November 2017

REVIEW: King Tut: A Pyramid Panto at the Kings Head's Theatre

The Kings Head's Christmas offering is billed as a boutique pantomime and is the third consecutive year presented by Charles Court Opera with script, direction and starring (for around half the nights) John Savournin. This year's show is loosely based around the discovery of Tutankhamun burial chamber by Howard Carter and is firmly targeted at an adult audience . 

The small intimate space of 110 seats is transformed by Sean Turner into the Egyptian tomb and we are whisked from 1922 back to King Tut's time. In many ways this production has its routes in the harlequinade that proceeded traditional Victorian pantomime with just five stock characters . Harlequin, here Howard Carter, loves Columbine, here called Evelyn and they are pursued by Pantaloon, here called Lord Conniving. The chaos is created by Clown; here as King Tut and the servant, here a talking camel!

REVIEW: My Fair Lady at the Mill at Sonning

Lerner and Lowe's wonderful musical set in 1912 London has a joyous score, a fairytale story and a serious message which makes this new production at the small intimate Sonning Mill a delight . The transformation from flower girl , to society lady to Higgin's equal of Eliza Doolittle is beautifully staged and performed by a cast of 12 and 5 musicians and the credit for this must go to Joseph Pitcher who has directed and choreographed the show so brilliantly. 

The small stage is used very effectively with the grey rear wall and arches acting as background to the interior scenes in Higgin's study as well as the external scenes in Covent Garden, Ascot , and his mother's Conservatory . The transformation with a few props between each scene is choreographed as part of the action and moves seamlessly without lessening the pace, while leaving as much space as possible on the small thrust stage for the performers. This is used most effectively in the main chorus numbers with exciting fresh choreography to enhance the showstopping music of "With a little bit of luck", "Ascot Gavotte" and "Get me to the church on time".

Matthew Bourne's THE CAR MAN & CINDERELLA to be released for Cinemas and on DVD

New Adventures is delighted that Matthew Bourne’s “THE CAR MAN” is now available on DVD, with a Blu-Ray release set for Monday 11 December 2017, produced by Illuminations. The company is also thrilled to announce that Matthew Bourne’s “CINDERELLA”, filmed live at Sadler’s Wells, will be broadcast on the BBC over the Christmas period ahead of a worldwide cinema release from February 2018. 

Matthew Bourne said today, “The release of “THE CAR MAN” for home entertainment and the new recording of “CINDERELLA” for national and international broadcast is bringing the work of New Adventures to an even larger new audience who maybe do not have access to our live performances. It is part of a long held ambition to film all of our work for posterity but also as an inspirational educational tool for our work with young people.”

First seen in 2000, “THE CAR MAN” has been a smash-hit in the UK and around the world and this recording for Sky Arts was made at Sadler’s Wells during the show’s most recent revival in 2015. The DVD and Blu Ray release includes an exclusive 17-minute behind the scenes featurette, “The Making of The Car Man”.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

REVIEW: The Gruffalo's Child at the Lyric Theatre

Tall Stories Theatre Company describes itself as a producer that brings great stories to life for audiences of all ages but many of its shows are targeted at young children (who bring their parents or grandparent to the show). In its latest production Gruffalo’s Child which now shares a stage with the evening productions of Thriller, it is following up on the success of The Gruffalo (which is still on tour) and directly targeting small children from 3 to 7. It brings to life the cartoon characters created in picture book form by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. It was clear, even before the show started that the audience was very familiar with the characters and that excitement levels and anticipation was high despite the early 10 am start!

The simple open stage bathed in a blue wash with a large white moon peeping over the stylised trees immediately transported the children to the deep dark wood where the creatures live and the children were speculating where the mouse, snake and owl would appear from. As the house lights dimmed three expressive young actors bounced onto stage and began to narrate the simple cautionary tale. They then, over the course of the 55 minutes running time, use movement, song, mime and clever costume tweaks to create the story book creatures to varying degrees of success.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

REVIEW: Twelfth Night at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon

There can't be a better place to see Shakespeare's plays than Stratford upon Avon. As you walk across the park through the trees along the river towards the RSC's home you can't help reflect that this beautiful town was his birthplace and a perfect historical home for his plays. The Royal Shakespeare theatre reopened in 2010 with a complete remodelling of the interior into a thrust stage creating a more intimate space and it provides an excellent setting for this production of Twelfth Night.

The sumptuous set is designed by Simon Higlett and draws inspiration from the Arts and Craft movement, the art of Audrey Beardsley and William Morris and creates a strong Victorian period feel. This is intermingled with period influences from Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria's servant Abdul and Gilbert and Sullivan. In this context the transposition of the play from Illyria to a country house in Victorian England works with Feste, Viola and Sebastian becoming Indian servants, Orsino an artist and Malvolio, at times a character from comic opera. The whole setting is enhanced by Tim Mitchell's subtle atmospheric lighting and Nigel Hess's music.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Madalena Alberto returns to play title role in tour of EVITA

Madalena Alberto returns to the coveted title role of EVITA, for which she received critical acclaim in the 2014 West End revival at the Dominion Theatre, on 6 December 2017 in Manchester.

Following the smash hit run in the West End, Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece is set to thrill audiences again across the UK and beyond. Portuguese-born Madalena will be taking her unique interpretation around the world in countries such as Luxembourg, Dubai, Croatia, Bulgaria and Italy, as well as major cities in the UK, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Regarding her come back Madalena says: ‘I'm very excited to have the chance to revisit this amazing part. There are only a few roles like this in musical theatre. And I’m amazed at how three years can make a difference as I feel that I’ve grown so much, and have a slightly different view on Eva now. Even the score and words keep surprising me with their brilliance and storytelling. I can’t wait to go back to it with more maturity and a fresh heart.’

Casting announced for TINA: The Tina Turner musical at the Aldwych Theatre

Joining the previously announced Adrienne Warren, who plays the title role, are Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Ike Turner, Madeline Appiah as Tina’s mother Zelma Bullock, Jenny Fitzpatrick as the alternate Tina, Lorna Gayle as Tina’s Grandmother GG, Tom Godwin as Record Producer Phil Spector and Lyricist Terry Britten, Francesca Jackson as Ike and Tina’s manager Rhonda Graam, Aisha Jawando as Tina’s sister Alline Bullock, Natey Jones as Tina’s father Richard Bullock and Tina’s first love Raymond Hill, Gerard McCarthy as record company Marketing Manager Erwin Bach and Ryan O’Donnell as Tina’s Manager Roger Davies. They are joined by ensemble members Tsemaye Bob-Egbe, Keisher Downie, Kit Esuruoso who also plays Tina’s son Craig Hill, Jammy Kasongo, Sia Kiwa, Jason Langley, Kayleigh McKnight, Baker Mukasa and Tanisha Spring and swings Derek Aidoo, Gavin Alex, Edward Bourne, Candace Furbert, Hannah Jay-Allan and Rodney Vubya.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, the world premiere of the new musical TINA will open at the Aldwych Theatre in April 2018.  Performances will begin on 21 March 2018 with press night on 17 April 2018.  Produced by Stage EntertainmentTINA is currently booking to 16 June 2018.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

REVIEW: Hiding Heidi at Etcetera Theatre

After 23rd June 2016, many have been wondering about the future of all EU citizens currently residing in the UK. Especially those, like me, who come from Europe and can no longer ignore the incertitude of a future in Britain. Some have already planned to return to their home countries, but many are reluctant to do so, as their entire life is now in the UK.

Playwright and director Ian Dixon Potter explores this issue from a dystopic and near-apocalyptic perspective, depicting a heavily-policed country where drastic measures are taken to prevent the presence of illegal European workers. 

Mid-age engineer Ralph (Richard De Lisle) and his elderly mother Dorothy (Maxine Howard) are looking for a carer, which seems to be an impossible task now that all jobs must be carried out by British people. They end up illegally hiring Heidi (Siobhan Ward), a nurse from an unspecified European country. The woman has been living in Stoke on Trent for nearly five years, before losing her job in a hospital, as a result of the changes in the employment law. She is unwilling to go back to her country, as she admits that all her friends and future plans are based in England, and she's willing to accept an underpaid and potentially risky job rather than leaving.

REVIEW: Spamalot at New Victoria Theatre, Woking

"Lovingly ripped off from the hugely successful 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this spammier than ever production is a riotous comedy full of misfit knights, killer rabbits, dancing nuns and ferocious Frenchmen. Join King Arthur as he travels with his hapless Knights of the Round Table on a divine mission to locate the illusive Holy Grail – with uproarious consequences."

"Spamalot was the winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best New Musical, while it enjoyed a victorious West End run. This hilarious show is written by Python legend Eric Idle."

On paper alone, Spamalot is outrageously funny and this script has been updated to be as relevant now as it was when it premiered 12 years ago. It's Python's classic style of humour and fans of the films and television shows will love it. With this production, sadly what it's missing is, well, people... 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

7 Off-West End shows you need to see that are on right now!

Hair at the Vaults 

Hair is celebrating its 50th Year with this London production, transferring from the Hope Mill Theatre it runs at the Vaults until the 13th January. 

Mad on Her at Above The Arts Theatre 

This Cheesy 80's musical is fresh and the most fun you'll have. Another musical to have played the Hope Mill Theatre, it plays at the Above The Arts Theatre and you still have time to catch it. It plays on the 19th (4pm and 7.30pm) & 26th (6pm and 8.30pm) November and 3rd December (4pm and 7.30pm). 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Further casting announced for Dick Whittington at the London Palladium this Christmas

Dick Whittington is produced by Nick Thomas and Michael Harrison for Qdos Entertainment, the team behind last year’s twice Olivier-nominated London Palladium production of Cinderella, which broke box office records for the highest grossing week in West End theatre history. Dick Whittington is written by Alan McHugh, directed by Michael Harrison, choreographed by Karen Bruce with musical supervision and orchestrations by Gary Hind, lighting by Ben Cracknell, set designs by Ian Westbrook, 3D Creations, costumes by Hugh Durrant, visual special effects by The Twins FX, projection design by Duncan McLean and sound design by Gareth Owen. 

Emma Williams and Lukus Alexander complete the principle casting for the London Palladium Pantomime this Christmas playing the role of Alice Fitzwarren and Eileen the Cat respectively. They will join the previously announced Julian Clary (Spirit of the Bells),Elaine Paige (Queen Rat), Ashley Banjo (The Sultan) and Diversity (The Sultan’s Special Advisors), Paul Zerdin (Idle Jack), Nigel Havers (Captain Nigel), Gary Wilmot (Sarah the Cook) and Charlie Stemp (Dick Whittington).

REVIEW: Beautiful: The Carol King Musical at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A generation of girls grew up enjoying the music of Carole King and in particular her hugely successful 1971 album "Tapestry" which was listed on the Billboard 200 for over 300 weeks, was for many years the longest run by a female solo artist and has been ranked as one of the best ever albums. This slick and enjoyable production starts and ends with her first solo concert at Carnegie Hall in June 1971 and in between traces her story from her first song writing hit in 1960 for The Shirelles, "Will you love me tomorrow" through her first marriage to her song writing partner Gerry Goffin until she was confident to perform her work herself. It is a fascinating back story to the album that made her name and we learn so much about her emotional journey, the sixties writing factories and are surprised by the hits she wrote for other artistes before she had the courage to perform herself.

The core of the production is the rivalry between King/Goffin duo and Weill/Mann at Aldon Music where Donnie Kirshner regularly sets the challenge to give him a hit song for an artist by the following day. This competitive battle between the two couples defines their relationship and ultimately creates a loyal friendship between King and Weill. The production features strong performances from the leads with Kane Parry capturing the unfaithful Goffin, Matthew Gonsalves the infatuated Mann and Adam Howden the demanding Kirshner . However it is the two female leads that steal the show. Amy Richardson is a joy as Weill, putting her career before her love, with great energy and comedy but it is Bronte Barbe as King who is the star.

REVIEW: The Very Perry Show at The Hen & Chickens Theatre

Some people collect coins or stamps, some others, like me, collect banana stickers. Katy Perry collects people and, during The Very Perry Show, revives some of these people in a lively stand-up comedy. From the moment she steps on stage as herself, talking directly to the audience, I can tell she's a fringe veteran, cheerful and confidently addressing her intimate crowd.

Her 60-minute show is a jewel box of different human instances, with fully-fleshed characters aged 6 to 75. First on stage is Carmel, a pensioner from Northern Ireland obsessed with Ken Barlow from Coronation Street. She secretly hates her best friend and is remarkably well informed on the lives of other villagers.

When Perry re-emerges from the sketch, she finds a little red diary in her pocket, belonging to 12-year-old Susy. She's been ejected from boarding school for wiping out the chemistry lab and returns home to find her mother comatose with a cocktail of antidepressants and amphetamines. Fascinated by her state of stupor, she decides to produce a documentary for BBC called 'Mummy on the Brink', which causes havoc amongst the spectators.

Friday, 10 November 2017

REVIEW: The Tailor-Made Man at the White Bear Theatre

This play tells the true story of William Haines, a movie star in the 1930s who was fired for being gay. In the story we are shown the ups and downs of his long term relationship with partner Jimmie Shields and their close friends who help put their life back together when they come under attack from local homophobes. 

In a time of Weinstein and Spacey, we have been enlightened with some of the disgusting goings on behind the camera in the entertainment industry. This play speaks out about that and even though its this production marks the 25th Anniversary of the play, it still has a relevant and prominent message. And with the wonderful Mr Trump in power, the homosexual themes are very close to home. 

Bryan Hodgson brings a new life to this play, his clean and simplistic style cuts together like a movie. Transitions were slick and innovative with focused and precise acting.

REVIEW: Am I Dead Yet? at the Soho Theatre

’Am I dead yet’ is a small show worth of the fringe venue upstairs (I almost was dead after climbing three flights) in the heart of London’s West End at the Soho Theatre. 

Written and performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe this hour long performance really makes you think about death; but not as you’d expect. First of all three stories underpin the performance; one of a suicide in the late 70s/Early 80s the next is a young girl who fell into a frozen over lake set in modern day and the third is a hypothetical story set many, many years in the future where technology has progressed to a point where people don’t die; interspersed with songs about death it sounds like an awfully morbid night - in fact it was the complete opposite. 

They are wonderful storytellers, carrying the audiences attention whilst telling the three stories all intertwined, which involve some heavy themes, is a skill. Before we get into the stories and after both performers have bounced about in their boxers right at the beginning there’s a CPR instructional section from a real paramedic - This followed some very interesting facts of why keeping a body freshly dead is better than leaving a collapsed person to die - very insightful stuff. 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

REVIEW: The Retreat at the Park Theatre

The Park Theatre programmes its two venues to appeal to a wide audience demographic in the Finsbury Park borough . This year we have seen a diverse mix including Hot Coals' wordless comedy "Finders Keepers", Giles Brandreth's cut down "Hamlet" and the strange goings on of Orford Ness in " Fishskin Trousers". On this occasion "The Retreat" a first stage play by Sam Bain targets the fans of TV comedy shows Peep Show ,Fresh meat and Gimme Gimme Gimme with its sophomoric base comedy. It is directed by Kathy Burke who has a fine comedy touch.

The opening sounds of the toll of bells and bird calls with muted light streaming through the small window effectively places us in a remote location.From my vantage point perched high up in the circle, peering down like a Scottish eagle hovering over a rather large basically furnished Scottish crofters hut, we meet Luke, a successful city trader.He has decided to covert to Buddhism and has travelled north to prepare sending his older brother,Tony, a postcard "Starting Retreat, please pay bills and redirect post". Tony smells a rat and can't understand why he would give up a life where "you were probably getting hooker Nectar points".

REVIEW: The Red Lion at Trafalgar Studios

Stephen Tompkinson is the devious club manager Kidd in Patrick Marber's changing-room tragicomedy The Red Lion. His fiery first appearance on stage resounds like an air horn, whilst he rants about the pitch falling in to disrepair and the volunteer staff lacking enthusiasm. For a solid ten minutes, the Trafalgar Studio 2 is raptured by his northern coarse vernacular and the audience is visibly in stitches.

Facing a close-up on his fit of rage – and trying to talk reason into him – is his subordinate Yates (John Bowler), once a dauntless fullback and now in charge of the kits. Placidly ironing the shirts, he delivers pearls of wisdom, expressing an empathy that seems to be a foreign concept to his boss. Seeing the game as a noble occurrence that brings the community together, Yates is mocked by the money-thirsty Kidd, whose vision of the football club corresponds to a business transaction, possibly aimed at filling his own pockets.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Pantomime Season 2017/18

As December approaches all over the country theatres are preparing for one of their busiest times of the year as the annual pantomime brings in new and old audiences to the traditional Christmas show. Pantomime is often a child's first experience of live theatre and therefore it hopefully plays a critical role in establishing a young person’s love of live entertainment. It is also a unique shared experience, not just as the family go together but the genre is built on audience interactions and traditional calls and shout outs.

This year there will be hundreds of venues staging a pantomime, thousands of actors and technical staff employed and several million attending as part of the audiences. Qdos has established itself as the leading Pantomime production company with 35 productions this year including the two leading venues of the London Palladium and Birmingham Hippodrome but there are many other companies with multiple productions (UK productions, Imagine, PHA, Jordan and Evolution) and lots of “in house” productions. All of them are built on the same traditional elements that have made the genre so established over the last two hundred years.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

REVIEW: Trestle at the Southwark Playhouse

Trestle at Southwark Playhouse Little house is the world premiere of Stewart Pringle's 2017 Papatango new writing prize and it is easy to see why he won the award .His writing has a tender gentle charm , at times almost Pinteresque with its pauses and unsaid reflections, as it explores the developing relationship between Harry and Denise, both said to be in their sixties in a village hall in Yorkshire . It promises to ask how we choose to live in the face of soaring life expectancies and does so through twenty one episodic scenes.

It becomes a sort of Groundhog Day experience as each of the first twenty scenes explores the relationship at the weekly changeover of the Billingham Improvement Committee which Harry chairs and the middle aged Zumba class which Denise leads. We never meet the rest of committee or the class attendees and therefore the action is restricted to the five minutes or so between bookings and the removal of the trestle table used by the committee. But in each scene we learn a little more of their past and lives aside the village hall. 

Thursday, 2 November 2017

REVIEW: JOY at Gerry’s at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Joy (Imogen Roberts) wants to have a normal life and enjoy her independence like everyone else. Since she was born, her father John (Danny Scheinmann) and her sister Mary (Rachael Bright) did everything to shelter her from those who could take advantage of her goodwill, but the time to fly the nest is now rightfully approaching. Like other people around her, Joy wants to hang out with her friends, have her own house and get married to her boyfriend Paul (Deen Hallisey), but her family finds it hard to let her go.

In this sweet and inspiring coming of age play written by Stephanie Martin, a young girl with Down's syndrome claims her right to have an adult life, an academic career, a job, read romantic novels and join an art club.

"Disability is a shit word," writes Joy in a letter to her father. "I’m not using it anymore. So, I’ve decided, I am not a pet. I am just me. And I love being me."

Further tickets released for upcoming West End production of HAMILTON

Jeffrey Seller and Cameron Mackintosh today announce a further release of tickets for the first booking period of HAMILTON which will go on sale tomorrow, 3 November 2017, at 12 noon GMT.

The reseating process necessitated by the rescheduling of preview performances is now complete. As previously announced by the Producers, once the extensive reconstruction of the Victoria Palace Theatre was nearing completion, a further allocation of tickets for the first booking period of HAMILTONwas to become available for sale. This further release includes newly created boxes, the remaining reseat tickets and some production seats. In addition, as well as the previously announced Daily Lottery tickets, new standing tickets will become available, details of which will be announced at a later date. Additionally, Patrons are advised to check the official HAMILTON channels for news of late release of seats which may become available at short notice.Full ticketing information can be found on the official website at

Further casting announced for London Musical Theatre Orchestras A Christmas Carol

London Musical Theatre Orchestra have announced further casting for the 2017 production of their spectacular concert version of A Christmas Carol, which returns by overwhelming popular demand to the Lyceum Theatre in London after a five-star sell-out performance last year, with two performances of the festive favourite at 7.30pm on 11th and 18thDecember. Tickets are on sale now.

Multi award-winning stage and screen actor Robert Lindsay (Citizen Smith / My Family / Wimbledon / Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) returns to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. He is joined by Lucie Jones (Les Misérables / We Will Rock You) as Emily / the Ghost of Christmas Future, Hugh Maynard (The Lion King / Miss Saigon) as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Gemma Sutton (Gypsy / The Go-Between / Strictly Ballroom) as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Olivier-nominee Michael Xavier (Prince of Broadway / Into The Woods / Sunset Boulevard) as Bob Cratchit. Further casting will be announced in due course.
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