News: keep Clowns and carry on

In which I ask WWPD (what would Patti do) and decide to honour my reviewing schedule as best as I can

“A toast to that invincible bunch”

So…what’s a Clown to do in times of Coronavirus, apart from look longingly at this amazing Patti LuPone photoshoot from Town and County Magazine? It’s hard, if not impossible, to know what the right thing to do is at an unprecedented moment like this. When the creative industries that I love and cherish so dearly are under threat of being decimated, when the day job is also wracked by uncertainty, when the act of trying to manage my own anxiety feels hard enough on its own. Heck, even the idea of staying in of an evening feels strange after a decade of intensive theatregoing.

My answer, for now, is to keep busy and to that end, I am going to be honouring my reviewing schedule as it looked for the forthcoming month. Obviously I can’t reviews shows that haven’t happened but I’m going to try to pull together mini-feature pieces for them, to collate any previews and interviews they may have done, to give you the means of staying in touch with the companies and theatres and most significantly, the ways in which any support that you can offer can be given. Obviously, the precariousness of the situation affects so many of us but any assistance that can be offered, in any shape, will surely help in the process of getting through to the other side. Do as Patti says – “everybody rise”.

 

Photos: Douglas Friedman, styled by Ryan Young

News: Mondays in January to look distinctly brighter with Monday Night at the Apollo

Tickets are on sale now for Monday Night at the Apollo – a brand-new concert series taking place in front of a socially distanced audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. The concerts will take place at 7pm on Monday 11 January 2021Monday 25 January 2021 and Monday 8 February 2021, and will also be livestreamed to audiences at home.

An intimate evening of conversation and song hosted by Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Duchess of Malfi), Monday Night at the Apollo will see some of the West End’s best-known performers sing an eclectic mix of music from their favourite genres. Performers will share their most cherished memories and experiences from their careers, alongside performances of music which is personal to them, in a relaxed and informal theatrical celebration. Continue reading “News: Mondays in January to look distinctly brighter with Monday Night at the Apollo”

Review: The Poltergeist

Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is a vivid monologue, performed well by Joseph Potter

“I’ve woken up with a headache”

From the tiny flat above a dry-cleaners in Ilford which he shares with his boyfriend Chet, Sasha seethes. Once fêted by the art world as a teenage prodigy, he crashed and burned spectacularly and has never really recovered. An invitation to his niece’s birthday party seems like a good opportunity to get out but between his pill-popping, catastrophising and near-boiling resentment towards his family, it is clear we’re in for a bumpy ride. 

The Poltergeist sees Philip Ridley maintain his long-standing relationship with the Southwark Playhouse with a customarily intense monologue which proves a gift of a role for Joseph Potter. Sasha is a young man very much in his head, so as Potter rattles wonderfully through all the various roles, there’s the sense that we’re seeing exaggerated versions of these characters as Sasha bristles against the indignity of having to make small talk when he could be exercising his vengeful streak. Continue reading “Review: The Poltergeist”

Review: Falling Stars

Exploring the extraordinary songbook of the 1920s, Peter Polycarpou and Sally Ann Triplett are fantastic in the hauntingly excellent Falling Stars

“There are people who hesitate, but corned-beef makes them cheer”

The creative team behind Falling Stars had only gotten one day into rehearsals before the second lockdown was announced in England so after rearranging their dates at the Union Theatre for early January, they also set about creating a filmed adaptation which will be available to stream for a week from Sunday 22nd November. 

Falling Stars was conceived and written by Peter Polycarpou after the discovery of a 1920s songbook in an antiques shop. It takes the form of a revue, exploring the work of writers who created some of the most sublime music, songs which have endured for nearly a century now. Names like Carl Schraubstader and James V Monaco might not be as well known as those of Charlie Chaplin and Irving Berlin but they were all writing standards to be remembered. Continue reading “Review: Falling Stars”

UK theatre casting news – November update

Theatre Royal Bath will reopen on 3 December with a revised performance schedule for Oleanna and Copenhagen, the final two plays in the theatre’s Welcome Back Season.

David Mamet’s provocative  drama Oleanna, directed by Lucy Bailey will star Rosie Sheehy  and Jonathan Slinger, who replaces John Heffernan in the role of John. The play will now run in Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio from 3 December to 22 December and again from 4 January to 16 January 2021. Reduced capacity at the Ustinov Studio will allow for an audience of 60 persons per performance.

The November run of Michael Frayn’s multi award-winning  Copenhagen has been postponed until the new year when it will play Theatre Royal Bath’s Main House from 20 January to 6 February 2021.  Directed by Polly Findlay it will star Haydn Gwynne, Philip Arditti, and in a change to original billing of Michael Gould, Malcolm Sinclair.


Following the latest lockdown measures in England, Curve has rescheduled The Color Purple in concert to Monday 1 to Saturday 13 Mar 2021Sunset Boulevard in concert will now open slightly later than originally planned and run Friday 18 Dec – Saturday 9 Jan. Dates for Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual remain unchanged (Monday 25 Jan to Saturday 6 Feb). 

Joining the previously announced Ria Jones as Norma Desmond and Danny Mac as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard will be a host of original company members from Curve’s award-winning 2017 touring production. Molly Lynch will reprise her role as Betty Schaefer, Adam Pearce returns as Max Von Mayerling, Dougie Carter as Artie Green and Carl Sanderson as Cecil B DeMille.

The Sunset Boulevard company will also include Benjamin ChambersOwen ChapondaJoanna GoodwinKristoffer HellströmJames MeunierGemma NaylorJoanna O’HareJessica PaulSam Peggs and Barney Wilkinson.

Led by the previously announced T’Shan Williams as Celie, original company members of Curve’s 2019 production of The Color Purple, including KM Drew BoatengOwen Chaponda, Perola Congo, Danielle Kassarate, Anelisa Lamola, Karen Mavundukure, Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah, Landi Oshinowo, Simon Anthony Rhoden and Jo Servi, will also return to Curve’s stage next year. Due to prior commitments, Danielle Fiamanya is now unable to join as Nettie in the rescheduled performances.

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, performances of this evocative and life-affirming musical will be directed by Tinuke Craig, with a six-piece orchestra led by Musical Director Alex Parker. The team will be joined by Set Designer Alex Lowde and Choreographer Mark Smith

Both productions of Sunset Boulevard and The Color Purple will be lit by Curve Associate Ben Cracknell, with sound design from Tom Marshall.

Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual will see award-nominated Leicester actor Hareet Deol reprise his role as Suf Khan in Dougal Irvine’s drama based on the real life of reformed Leicester football hooligan Riaz Khan, who will also rejoin the cast. Director Nikolai Foster will once again bring the 80s streets of Leicester to life on Curve’s stage, with design from Grace Smart. Lighting Designer Charlotte Burton and Composer Tasha Taylor Johnson also join the show’s production team.


Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes have announced the cast for Damian’s Pop–Up Panto! at the Crucible Theatre. Joining legendary Dame, Damian Williams, are comedian, presenter and internet dancing sensation Joe Tracini (CBBC’s The DengineersHollyoaks), West End star Gemma Sutton (Gypsy, Follies, Girl From the North Country), Lucas Rush (Rock of Ages) and Deborah Tracey (Standing at the Sky’s Edge).

A festive fun-sized treat for the whole family, Damian’s Pop-Up Panto! is written and directed by regular pantomime producer Paul Hendy. Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes have produced the Sheffield Lyceum pantomime for 14 years. This year, the panto relocates across Tudor Square to the Crucible Theatre.

Review: Marry Me A Little

Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker star in a beautifully sung, beautifully filmed digital version of Sondheim’s revue Marry Me A Little for the Barn Theatre

“What can you do on a Saturday night alone?”

The ever-enterprising Barn Theatre in Cirencester are getting particularly good at making lemonade out of lockdown lemons and so it is little surprise to see that their production of Marry Me A Little, which had its run curtailed by the imposition of Lockdown #2: Electric Boogaloo, is now available to stream for a limited period, thus exponentially increasing its reach.

Recorded over its final performances by Ben Collins, the work of editor Ben Evans (with Collins co-editing and also with sound editor Harry Smith) shouldn’t be underestimated. They have done a remarkable job in translating Kirk Jameson’s directorial vision onto screen, the film is as slickly professional as you could hope to dream of, with just enough texture in there to remind you it is live theatre. Continue reading “Review: Marry Me A Little”

Review: Hoard – Rediscovered

Theatrical archaeology meets real archaeology in Hoard – Rediscovered as the New Vic Theatre revisit their Staffordshire Hoard Festival for the streaming age 

“The archaeologists have of course found no evidence of dragons”

After a weekend immersed in the plummy accents of The Crown, it was wonderfully refreshing to counter-balance that with the everyday cadences of blessedly much more regular folk in Hoard – Rediscovered. Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre has a rich tradition of verbatim work and with this characterful addition to theatre’s necessary shift to the streaming world, there’s quite the digital treasure trove in store. 

Hoard – Rediscovered sees the New Vic revisit their 2015 Staffordshire Hoard Festival, a celebration of new writing focused on the remarkable discovery of a mighty hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold in a field in 2009. Written and directed by New Vic artistic director Theresa Heskins, Unearthed is a verbatim docu-drama that shifts the attention away from the thousands of pieces of treasure to focus on the stories of the real people whose lives it impacted. Continue reading “Review: Hoard – Rediscovered”

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the Hollywood edition

Perhaps inevitably, famous names getting more clicks than bona fide theatrical talent remains as true as ever as Tristram Kenton’s before-they-were-famous photo montage and its sequel are now followed up by a full-out Hollywood edition. Interesting to see the people who’ve trodden the boards over the years but for me, this is a less interesting selection of productions than we’ve previously seen, not much FOMO envy here at all:
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2020/nov/18/nicole-kidman-orlando-bloom-hollywood-stars-west-end-stage-in-pictures

Photos: Tristram Kenton

News: Make Your Own Musicals launches pantomime activity packs

Make Your Own Musicals, a company started in lockdown, has been making musical activity packs for children to write their own original mini-musicals at home. Now, for the festive season, they are branching out into family pantomime packs to fill the void many families will be feeling this year.

Make Your Own Musicals was designed as a way of offering original theatrical activities for children to do at home. Each activity pack contains child friendly writing guides, original backing tracks, and corresponding sound effects, as well as fun extra pages such as print-out tickets and cut-out costumes and props. The packs are crafted to inspire confidence and creativity at a time when it can seem hard to find. Continue reading “News: Make Your Own Musicals launches pantomime activity packs”

TV Review: The Crown, Series 4 Episodes 1-3

I ration myself to Episodes 1-3 of Series 4 of The Crown in the first instance but find it is losing its lustre a little

“I’m struggling to find any redeeming features in these people at all”

Kicking off in 1977, Series 4 of The Crown swiftly moves into my lifetime with its second scene taking place in 1979, although not quite into events that I remember, at least in these first three episodes. And with the arrival of both Diana Spencer and Margaret Thatcher on the scene, there’s quite the decade to explore.

But something has gone a little awry for me and The Crown. The sheer scope of Peter Morgan’s writing means that there’s a mahoosive ensemble at work here but the nature of his construction of episodes that drill down to intimate focus means that there’s huge gaps and terrible wastage, particularly of Helena Bonham Carter’s delicious Princess Margaret. Continue reading “TV Review: The Crown, Series 4 Episodes 1-3”