Angels in America – a fantasia on how to get tickets for a sold-out show.

Tickets for Angels in America sold out very quickly- a mark of the excitement for this 25th anniversary production of Tony Kushner’s epic, but the folks at the National have come up with three ways that you can still catch the show and this bunch of jobbing actors (pictured by Helen Maybanks) have kindly re-enacted the experience of trying to get tickets for the show… Continue reading “Angels in America – a fantasia on how to get tickets for a sold-out show.”

2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts

“For whatever reason, he spared a hamster”

When you see as much theatre as I do, it can be difficult to keep up to date with cinematic releases – if I have a night off, I rarely want to spend it in a dark room… – but I have tried my best this year to see at least some of the Oscar-nominated films, so that I can chip in once they’ve been distributed in a way that will doubtless cause some controversy or other.

Continue reading “2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts”

News – more tickets for Mary Stuart released today

“It’s all in the execution”

Aside from an excuse to use one of the greatest publicity shot ever created in our lifetimes, courtesy of Miles Aldridge, this is actually a public service announcement to let you know that more tickets for Mary Stuart will go on sale at 10am today (Monday 5th December). And  a little bird can tell you that since the show is pretty much in the round, the new seats that they’ve added in the Stalls (Section C) are really rather good as you’re very close to the action. (Sightlines are affected occasionally esp in final scene so I’d opt for 3-4 or 31-32 if you can). That little bird might also tell you to book now for the love of God, tickets will be like gold dust!

Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes (with interval) (subject to change)
Booking until 21st January

News – Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival begins

Monday 14th November sees the launch of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival at Hampstead Theatre and The Actors Centre. Produced by Sphinx Theatre Company and Joanna Hedges, Women Centre Stage exists to promote, advocate for and inspire women in the arts and has developed and commissioned a wide range of new work which uniquely brings together a diverse array of women characters far from the margins into centre stage.

This is the second year of Women Centre Stage and the festival features a range of workshops and creative comings-together which will culminate in the Performance Day on Sunday 20th November which will feature seven programmes throughout the day. This will include opportunities to see emerging work from new and established writers, plays commissioned from last year’s festival, and see four playwrights respond the headlines of the day in writing a new play each in 24 hours. 

“What will we say at the Women Centre Stage Festival? Enough of being backgrounded. The world will just have to get used to our stronger presence in every walk of life and art. I’m happy to be part of that conversation.” 

Dame Janet Suzman.

(c) Ruphin Coudyzer
Reflecting the significance of the festival and the work it has been and will continue to achieve, there’s a mightily impressive role call of British talent contributing to the programme. Writers such as Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Evening Standard Award-winning Charlene James, Dawn King, Howard Brenton, Vinay Patel, April de Angelis and Sabrina Mahfouz will be represented with actors like Dame Janet Suzman, Ann Mitchell, Maggie Steed, Cecilia Noble and Ronke Adekoluejo treading the boards.


It all promises to be a fascinating and valuable day and I’m currently planning to attend a significant amount of the programme – more details below – and if you’re interested in coming along too, then take a look at their website here

Programme for the Performance Day – Sunday 20th November

A Question of Identity – 12.00pm

Three performances from emerging companies and artists looking at the question of female identity, featuring F*cking Feminists by Rose Lewenstein originally commissioned by Theatre 503 and Mama Quilla, Road to Huntsville by Stephanie Ridings originally commissioned by China Plate, Warwick Arts Centre and mac birmingham and Battleface by Sabrina Mahfouz originally commissioned by the Bush Theatre.

Women on the Edge – 1.30pm

Sphinx Theatre presents three plays commissioned and developed from the 2015 festival featuring She Didn’t Jump She was Pushed by Matilda Ibini starring Anita Joy Uwajeh and Ronke Adekoluejo, Man- Up by Camilla Harding and Alexandra Sinclair and Justice by Judith Jones and Beatrix Campbell.

In Conversation: Changing the Landscape – 2.45pm

How can we encourage change in the cultural landscape to improve gender equality in theatre? A panel discussion chaired by Sarah Crompton former Arts Editor in Chief at the Telegraph with playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, Suzanne Bell – New Writing Associate at Royal Exchange Theatre and Elizabeth Newman -Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre.

PRIDE and Prejudice – 4.00pm

Presenting work which provokes us to talk about prejudice. Join us for Chloe Todd Fordham’s The Night Club, an excerpt of Tanika Gupta’s A Perfect Match plus Graeae Theatre Company showcase 6 brand new pieces from an all female Deaf/disabled creative team featuring writers from all over the UK; promoting empowering female narratives and shining new light on the perceptions (and misperceptions) of women today.

New Women – 5.30pm

We present new plays by April de Angelis, and Winsome Pinnock including performances by Janet Suzman, Kathryn Pogson and Cecilia Noble plus The Hiccup Project join us straight from tour to present an excerpt of May-We-Go-Round.

Sphinx Writers Group: Power Play – 7.00pm 

Six months in development, we present new writing from the Sphinx Writers Group; Dawn King, Georgia Christou, Jessica Sian and Catriona Kerridge.

24 Hour Plays: Making Headlines – 8.30pm

Four writers are given 24 Hours to write a new play responding directly to that days news headlines. The new work will be rehearsed on the day of the festival and presented at the end of the day as the Festival Finale. Featuring four new plays from Howard Brenton, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Charlene James and Vinay Patel. Ann Mitchell and Maggie Steed plus others will join us to perform in this hour of exciting new writing.

Top 10 West End Shows To See This Christmas

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”

The festive season is nearly upon us and if you are making a shopping trip to the bright lights or you just love the feel of Christmas in London, you have to take in a West End show. 
2016 has been yet another vintage year in theatreland and we’ve teamed up with BoxOffice.co.uk to bring you the top ten shows we recommend you check out for that Christmas treat.
  1. Dreamgirls – Glee star Amber Riley plays the lead role in this brilliant musical telling the story of the rise of a Chicago R&B act in the 1960s. Running at the Savoy Theatre until March 2017.
  2. Aladdin – The latest Disney classic to get the West End treatment is this classic story of the street urchin from Agrabah at the Prince Edward Theatre until April 2017.
  3. The Bodyguard – Whitney Houston classics such as ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ feature heavily in this adaptation of the hit movie, with Beverley Knight playing the leading role at the Dominion Theatre until January 2017.
  4. School of Rock – Jack Black’s 2003 comedy about turning students into rock legends comes to the New London theatre until February 2017, with some new Andrew Lloyd-Webber-penned numbers.
  5. Cinderella – The classic family fairytale is the perfect pantomime performance to take in over Christmas, and you have until January 2017 to ensure you go to the ball at the London Palladium.
  6. Matilda the Musical – Roald Dahl’s Matilda comes to life in this brilliant new musical at the Cambridge Theatre until October 2017 via a successful Broadway stint, with music by comedian Tim Minchin.
  7. The Book of Mormon – From the creators of South Park and strictly for adults only, this much-talked-about mix of laughter and songs runs at the Prince of Wales theatre until January 2017.
  8. The Lion King – Another Disney smash featuring dancing, singing and plenty of African inspiration at the Lyceum Theatre until April 2017.
  9. Thriller Live – Visually spectacular and featuring amazing choreography, the career of Michael Jackson is celebrated at the Lyric Theatre until October 2017, featuring early songs like ABC and classics like Billie Jean.
  10. Wicked – The popular prequel to the Wizard of Oz telling the story of Dorothy, the Good Witch and the Bad Witch is celebrating ten years at the Apollo Victoria and runs until November 2017.   

RSC release new Cymbeline trailer

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s more rarely performed plays and it is a thought that seems to have struck several artistic directors as 2016 has seen three major productions announced. Dominic Dromgoole included it in his outgoing season of late plays at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (my review here), Emma Rice is transforming it into Imogen at the Globe later this autumn, and Melly Still is currently tackling the play for the RSC at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until 15th October.

The RSC’s production will then transfer to London’s Barbican for a limited season from 31st October until 17th December 2016 so you have no excuse not to do a compare and contrast exercise between the Globe and the RSC’s approaches to the romance, power, jealousy, love and reconciliation of this surprising play. A trailer for Still’s contemporary adaptation can be found below and all ticket information for both Stratford and London can be found here.

Blogged: Theatre on screen July 2016

“Things are going to get, now and for the rest of your life, extremely difficult”
Well actually, things are getting easier to watch theatre in different ways and as I leave on holiday for a wee while, I thought I’d round up a few of the current offerings.
Mike Bartlett’s smash hit Wild at Hampstead Theatre was livestreamed yesterday and is available until midnight on Tuesday. 
Talawa’s touring production of King Lear is available on the iPlayer (I was a tiny bit disappointed with this to be honest)


And Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag has been developed into a TV series – not got round to watching it yet but could well be good

Happy London Pride – paying tribute to Orlando and beyond

“Love, sweet love…no, not just for some but for everyone”

It’s no secret that Broadway cares but there’s still something extremely touching about a community coming together to help others, especially when it feels close to home. However others want to spin it, the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an attack on the LGBT+ community and that is something that is just chilling in its cold reality. But from such horror comes something positive too as people rally together to share love and support, solidarity and hope that no matter how dark it gets, we’re never alone. 


In London, the LGBT+ community has the Pride in London Parade to spark the coming together over what will be a poignant weekend. And on Broadway, Broadway Records President Van Dean, SiriusXM Radio Host Seth Rudetsky and Producer James Wesley have pulled together a dream choir of amazing performers to record a charity single of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’ to benefit the Orlando LGBT+ community. Take a look at the video below (and be blown away by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel and so many more) but I urge you to please buy a copy too, to support this very worthy cause.

You can buy ‘What The World Needs Now’ here. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the song will benefit the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida



And matching Broadway for passionate respect are the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The response to their musical tribute of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ at the Soho vigil for the Orlando victims was such that they have decided to release it as their own charity single (it had originally been intended for their 25th anniversary album later this year, and recorded just hours before the attack took place).


You can find out more about ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ here or purchase it directly on iTunes and Google Play. Proceeds from the sale of the charity single will be split equally between the Orlando Victims Fund, organised by Equality Florida; and Galop, the UK’s LGBT anti-violence charity that supports victims of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime.

Support new musical theatre writing – The Wicker Husband

“She sang a melody of the hope of the springtime

It’s not often that you’ll find me championing the cause of puppetry on here but in The Wicker Husband, a new folk musical based on an original short story by Ursula Wills-Jones, we just have such a thing. With book and story by Rhys Jennings and music and lyrics by Darren Clark, The Wicker Husband will be an unconventional musical combining puppetry, folk music and dance to weave the tale of an Ugly Girl and her understanding of the cruel world she lives in. It is the story the Outsider, of self-acceptance in a society that tells us what it is to be “Ugly”.

And if that sounds like your cup of tea, then you’re in luck. As the guys launched an online crowdfunding campaign for further development of the project and as it stands, have reached well over a third of their target. In the cutthroat world of commercial theatre, especially musical theatre, you have to admire the determination of the creative team, bolstered by director/dramaturg Charlotte Westernra, in finding alternative ways to develop their work. The campaign is scheduled to end on 2nd April and it would be fantastic to see them reach their goals so watch the story-so-far video below and then head over to http://bit.ly/wickerhusband to see the range of incentives to help you make your mind up on how much you want to donate!


As a proper taster of the show itself is the gorgeous Laura Wickham’s beautiful rendition of the song ‘The Sparrow’s Tale’, accompanied by a group of talented musicians who really give a sense of how the ‘folkiness’ of the score has the potential to be utterly beautiful, evoking the splendour of Howard Goodall’s The Hired Man (arguably the best British musical of recent times). Such music deserves the chance to be heard and no puppet-phobia will get in the way of me supporting The Wicker Husband and I hope you’ll feel the same way too.

Introducing Tyrone – the truth-telling sock puppet –

Hand To God opens at the Vaudeville Theatre next month, hot from a Tony Award-nominated run on Broadway and there’s a little hint of a teaser for you in this video, introducing Tyrone who is, as the title says, a truth-telling sock puppet.

Previews start on 5th February and booking runs until 11th June, Wednesday matinées are priced at a bargainous £25, and the cast includes the excellent Janie Dee, Jemima Rooper and Harry Melling. Also, how could you not want to see a show directed by someone as stupendously named as Moritz von Stuelpnagel?!