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Thursday, 24 December 2020

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard in Concert - at Home by the Leicester Curve (Online)

There are no ushers to take me to my seat and no murmur of the audience as the house lights go down and the overture begins, yet, as I close my living room curtains, dim the lights and the title credits roll, I feel the same buzz I get sitting in a theatre while simultaneously being taken back to rainy weekends spent watching old movies with my family. Provoked by the novel restrictions placed on theatre at this time, Sunset Boulevard in Concert - at Home presented by Leicester’s Curve theatre have transformed a beloved musical into a hybrid cinema/stage experience like no other. You can’t keep this diva down!

Originally a film Noir masterpiece by Billy Wilder then adapted into the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Black & Hampton followed by a further adaptation of the musical onto film, Sunset Boulevard lends itself to both screen and stage with authority. Set in 1950’s Hollywood it tells the story of struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (Danny Mac) who finds himself entangled in the manipulative and delusional world of ‘has been’ silent film star Norma Desmond (Ria Jones). Unable to come to terms with reality Norma dreams of returning to the screen. It is dark, melodramatic and all the old Hollywood romance one could want.

Monday, 1 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ria Jones

These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Ria Jones was most recently seen playing Mama Rose in Gypsy at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. Her other credits include Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (Théâtre Marigny); Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour); Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street (Leicester Curve & Théâtre du Châtelet); standby Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (London Coliseum); Alexandra Spoffard in The Witches of Eastwick (UK Tour); Liz Imbrie in High Society (Shaftesbury Theatre & UK Tour); Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (UK Tour); Eva Peron in Evita (Manchester Opera House); Svetlana & Florence in Chess (Prince Edward Theatre); Grizabella in Cats (New London Theatre) and Fantine in Les Miserables (Palace Theatre & UK Tour).

Photo credit: Mark Bruce 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was still in London. At first I was relieved as I thought it was the most sensible and safest option seeing on the news the devastation in Italy. Then the sadness of it all crept in and just the fear of the unknown road ahead.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I certainly need to join some fitness classes! I’ve enjoyed learning all about Zoom. I do a weekly themed quiz with a group of friends on mainly Musical theatre trivia. I’ve recorded a small section for the Joseph streamed concert and a couple of Q&A‘S. I’m also thinking I might do an at-home concert when I get back to London.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

FEATURE: When understudies save the day!

Understudies are a vital part of what keeps shows all across the world going every night. Over the past few years, we've had stories all over the press about understudies taking on lead roles in extreme circumstances and absolutely smashing it. Here are just a few of the recent stories we love (All with happy endings!), we'd like to thank these performers for not only being amazing but also taking the time to chat to us briefly for this article. And make sure to check out the bottom of the page with a breakdown of the past understudies who are astounding audiences all across the UK every night! 

Jennifer Caldwell 

When sickness hits a cast, sometimes dramatic solutions have to happen! Knights of the Rose, a new musical running at the Arts Theatre, had a wave of sickness in the cast and when an understudy is already covering someone else, whats happens?! Jennifer Caldwell was working in the Box Office and was asked for help from the Producer, she agreed to go on at 7pm and by 7.30pm was on stage! 

"When the producer asked if I could possibly step up and perform in the show I was, I think it's safe to say, apprehensive, however, adrenaline and excitement took over pretty quickly. 

The company I had around me are some of the most talented people you could ever meet which could have made things pretty daunting, but, everyone was incredibly supportive and made it so easy to slot in to the show. I couldn't wish for a better group of people to be around."

She has now been made a permanent member of the cast and features as a swing. 

"I think, as performers, we should always be willing to accept any challenge as, in such an unpredictable industry, you never know if this kind of opportunity could arise again."

Steph Parry

Steph recently finished playing Donna in Mamma Mia on the Royal Caribbean before landing the role of the standby for Dorothy Black and Maggie Jones in 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. She was called upon when Mamma Mia (at the Novello Theatre) needed someone to step in mid show for the lead role, Donna, when the understudy suffered a serious injury. 

"It was such a surreal night, there was a moment just before I stepped out onstage where I thought “what the hell am I about to do?!” But I walked out to such a huge cheer from the audience that I instantly knew they were behind me and it felt so awesome!" 

She completed the show to great acclaim and was promoted from stand by to lead as Dorothy Black in 42nd Street.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Following on from Sunset Boulevard’s smash-success run at the ENO, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-loved musical has been touring the UK with a magnificent 16 piece orchestra. We follow struggling writer, Joe Gillis, on his quest to create a movie script which will get his name in the Hollywood history books. On his way, he meets Norma Desmond – once upon a time, a Silent Screen starlet, whose light is somewhat fading as films in Hollywood progress. Desperate to launch her return to film and fame, she shows Joe a screen-play she has been developing: a mish-mash mess about Salome – in which the aging Desmond plans to play the 16-year-old lead…. Needless to say, the plot doesn’t sit too well with Gillis, so he agrees to work with Desmond to re-write the screenplay and launch her return to the industry. In time, their relationship becomes blurred and Desmond begins to emotionally blackmail Gillis, threatening suicide and damnation if he leaves her. The story escalates and climaxes with a series of dramatic eventualities at her home, 10086 Sunset Boulevard. 

As Norma Desmond is Ria Jones, who made headlines when understudying Glen Close at the ENO in the same role. I had the pleasure of hearing her sing at the WhatsOnStage Awards last February and she received a full standing ovation after just one number. In Sunset Boulevard, she is utterly compelling and gripping as Norma. The power of her performance came from deep within her. Her eyes were so expressive that her inner monologue was almost audible. “As If We Never Said Goodbye” is one of my all-time favourite Musical Theatre songs, and the version I heard last night is my new definitive rendition. Moving and emotionally harrowing – it was perfection.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Pocket Size Theatre 5th Anniversary: Our Top 10 Interviews!

We have been lucky enough to interview some incredible performers, from all lines of work. We have collected together our top 10 most viewed interviews over our 5 years at Pocket Size Theatre and here they are! And what a selection of people we have. Click on the images to read the interviews. 


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

INTERVIEW: Ria Jones, about to star as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard on tour around the UK

Ria Jones is a theatre legend in her own right, she created the role of Norma Desmond almost 30 years ago in a workshop and is now returning to play he role full time after understudying Glenn Close at the London Coliseum in this new production which tours around the UK. Her other credits include Eva Peron in Evita (Opera House Manchester), Fantine in Les Miserables (National Tour & Palace Theatre), Grizabella in Cats (New London Theatre), Liz Imbrie in High Society (Shaftesbury Theatre & UK Tour), Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (UK Tour), Alexander Spoffard in The Witches of Eastwick (UK tour) and Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street (Leicester Curve Theatre & Theatre Du Chatelet). 

We chat to her in rehearsals of this new production of Sunset Boulevard...

You have played some of the most iconic female roles in Musical Theatre history (Evita, Fantine, Norma, Grizabella, Reno to name a few!). What has been your favourite role to play so far and why?

As much as I loved play Eva Peron and Reno Sweeney I absolutely adored playing Mrs. Overal in “Acorn Antiques The Musical” as it was so far away from anything else that I had ever done. It was a real challenge which I loved and I also adore comedy.

What was your first ever job as an actress? And if you went back in time, what advice would you give yourself on your first day of rehearsals? 
That’s a long time ago; 35 years! It was the role of Robin in “Godspell”. My advice would be to know your lines as best you can.

If you had to re-live one show you have done in the past, which one would it be?
“Evita” – It was my first time on as Eva Peron – I was only 19 years old!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

REVIEW: Miss Leading Ladies at the St. James Studio Theatre

This wonderfully funny show takes a nostalgic look at some of the greatest ladies to have graced the stage and screen.

As the audience steps into the studio, they are immediately transported into what spears to be a smoky jazz club, helping the audience to get in the mood for what they were about to see. But it also allows them to focus on brother and sister duo Ceri Dupree and Ria Jones constantly without ever losing our attention.
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