February news round-up

Lots to catch up on so here’s a quick round-up of some upcoming concerts and events that could well be worth your time

If you’re looking for the more social side of things to go along with your theatregoing, then have a look here. Getgo Club is like a book club for theatre. Each month they take members to amazing London theatre & host a pre-show mingle, followed by a post-show discussion. The event is curated and hosted by working artists who will  ensure that discussions take place in a safe, fun, & open environment. Members also receive extra goodies such as discounts on tickets & drinks. All for £5!

Getgo Club is a great way to join a community of arts lovers, and head to a variety of theatre as a group. It has  and The first meet-up is at the end of February and I hear they have very limited spaces left so why not find out more here or even just apply directly for a membership here.


The visibility of mental health support has never felt more important and so it is good to see events raising awareness and much-needed funds popping up. Simply Live is a cabaret in aid of Industry Minds, who provide free and low cost mental health support to anyone in the creative arts through therapy, seminars and other useful tools.

Takiig place at Bunga Bunga Covent Garden, on Sunday 15th March, they have already announced a promising line-up which includes Grace Mouat, Cameron Burt, Tom Gill, Hannah-Grace Lawson, Vanity von Glow, and Claire O’Leary. Follow the event on Twitter or Instagram and then book your places here to support this great organisation.


Ahead of a revival at the Hope Mill next month, Zorro the Musical revisits London with a one-off concert recital at Cadogan Hall with London Musical Theatre Orchestra & Chorus and a tip-top cast including the glorious Emma Williams reprising her original role and therefore singing the beautiful song ‘Falling’.    

The full cast is Ricardo Afonso (Zorro/Diego), Emma Williams (Luisa), Lesli Margherita (Inez), Robert Tripolino (Ramon) and Zubin Varla (Don Alejandro). Also appearing will be Catarina Amaral, Daniel Amity, Charlotte Clitherow, Richard James-King, Danny Lane, James Leeman, Lauren Lockley, Matthew McDonald, Mia Michaud, Grace Mouat, Rebecca Ridout, Justine Saville, Margarida Silva, Joe Thompson-Oubari, Richard Upton and Enrico Volpi.


Also working the one-off concert vibe on Sunday is The Pirate Queen, as Boublil And Schönberg’s musical is revived for a charity gala at the London Coliseum with proceeds going to Leukaemia UK. Most exciting for me is the return of Hannah Waddingham to a stage

Main cast
Rachel Tucker (Grace O’Malley), Hannah Waddingham (Queen Elizabeth I), Steph Parry (Majella), Emma Norman (Evleen), Earl Carpenter (Dubhdara), Daniel Boys (Lord Bingham), ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Jai McDowall (Tiernan) and Matthew Pagan (Donal) from Collabro.

Featured ensemble
Pearce Barron, Jamie Birkett, Trudi Camilleri, Sabrina Carter, Shaun Dalton, Adam Dawson, Callum Heinrich, Jade Johnson, Harry Mills, Charlotte Payne, Sophie Reeves, and Jak Skelly

Ensemble
Skye Adams, Thomas Ball, Jeremy Batt, Mary-Jean Caldwell, Sinead O’Callaghan, Christopher Cameron, Jordan Castle, Alfie Doohan, Charlie Ellerton,  Judicel Eslao, Nicola Espallardo, Amy Everett, Lois Morgan Gay, Aidan Harkins, Siwan Henderson, Hannah-Grace Lawson, James Mateo-Salt, Scarlett Maltman, Ethan Tanner, Harry Winchester,  and Cristian Zaccarini.


There’s also a concert version of The Secret Garden (not taking place on Sunday, it’s the 4th April for this one) which is aiming to fill the London Palladium with its lead cast of Lucie Jones, Ramin Karimloo and Jac Yarrow.

Also appearing in the show will be Sarah Bakker (Rose), Bianca Baykara (Alice), Adam J Bernard (Ben Weatherstaff), Lucy Drever (Narrator), Louise Ellard-Turnbull (Mrs Winthrop), Ben Forster (Neville Craven), Sejal Keshwala (Ayah), Melanie La Barrie (Mrs Medlock), Johndeep More (Fakir), Michael Riseley (Captain Albert Lennox), Celinde Schoenmaker (Lily), and sharing the roles of Colin Craven are Finley Glasgow and Isaac Lancel Watkinson, and of Mary are Aoife Hughes and Darcy Jacobs, with Trinity Laban Musical Theatre forming the ensemble.


With Mean Girls due to arrive in the West End in Spring 2021, the folks at Official Theatre managed to get our hands on the Plastics latest Burn Book and it’s full of burns and gossip about some of the West End’s favourite characters! No one escapes the wrath of Regina and Co, from the characters of Wicked and & Juliet, to James McAvoy’s Cyrano de Bergerac and even Henry VIII from SIX (well, sort of).

Take a look at the full West End Burn Book here. Could you do better? They’re looking for the best ‘burns‘ for some of the other characters in London theatre and you might even get added into the book itself.

Review: The Garden, Tristan Bates

Playing at Tristan Bates with alumni from The Play That Goes Wrong, The Garden is like Beckett but with humour and heart

“We are the real onions”

Written by and starring alumni from The Play That Goes Wrong (which I have still yet to get around to going to see), new play The Garden is undergoing a short run at the Tristan Bates in association with Carers Trust. Fundraising efforts have allowed for tonight’s performance to be offered as a welcome respite for carers, to provide a bit of a treat for them.

And it is a fascinating play that they’re getting to see. Set up as a Beckettian take on the Garden of Eden, it is far more deftly comic than that would seemingly allow for. When you’ve got Colin and Veronica instead of Adam and Eve, how could it not be?! Crucially though, The Garden is also rather touching in its gentle drama, leaving me more moved than I’ve ever been in an actual Beckett play. Continue reading “Review: The Garden, Tristan Bates”

2017 BroadwayWorld UK Awards Shortlist

Best Actor in a New Production of a Musical
Andrew Polec, Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum
John McCrea, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Sheffield Crucible
John Partridge, La Cage Aux Folles, UK Tour
Jon Robyns, The Wedding Singer, UK Tour
Michael C. Hall, Lazarus, King’s Cross Theatre
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris, Dominion Theatre

Best Actor in a New Production of a Play
Andrew Scott, Hamlet, Almeida Theatre
Arinzé Kene, One Night in Miami…, Donmar Warehouse
Brendan Cowell, Life of Galileo, Young Vic
Conleth Hill, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Harold Pinter Theatre
Lucian Msamati, Amadeus, National Theatre
Nicholas Woodeson, Death of a Salesman, UK Tour Continue reading “2017 BroadwayWorld UK Awards Shortlist”

Christmas music 2013

A Very West End Christmas

A rather special project, A Very West End Christmas has gathered up a group of nearly 50 musical theatre performers to record an EP of 5 Christmas classics for a number of charitable causes – Great Ormond Street’s Giggin’ for Good, West End Fests for CRY UK and The Band Aid Charitable Trust. It’s a steal at £3.95 for the EP and with some seriously great talent onboard, assembled by co-producers Kris Rawlinson and Darren Bell, it’s a mostly very good listen.

The strongest numbers are, a little perversely, actually the ones which don’t feature the full choir. Michael Xavier croons perfectly through ‘The Christmas Song’ (although it is sad that there is no accompanying video of him roasting his chestnuts…), Chloe Hart and Jeremy Hart have lots of fun in a swinging ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, and there’s an interesting arrangement of’ O Holy Night’ featuring Sabrina Aloueche, Jodie Jacobs and Katie Payne (though that song will always belong to Hannah Waddingham for me).  Continue reading “Christmas music 2013”

Review: Cross Purpose, Kings Head

“One can’t always remain a stranger”

Albert Camus may be better known as a philosopher and author than as a playwright so it is a rare opportunity that presents itself to catch his play Cross Purpose (Le Malentendu) in the Sunday/Monday slot at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre pub. A mother and daughter eke out a joyless existence, running a glum guesthouse somewhere in Central Europe and murdering their rich guests, but when their next victim turns out to be a man with a connection to them both, tragic consequences ensue. 

Stuart Gilbert’s translation captures something of the philosophical weight of Camus’ writing, his exploration of the way life is cruel to anyone no matter how intrinsically good or evil they may be, but often does so in a rather cumbersome manner. There’s an archness to the text which also possesses a vein of mordant humour, both of which prove effective in summoning the strangeness of this world. But the turn of phrase occasionally jars in its awkwardness and not all the actors manage to surmount this challenge. Continue reading “Review: Cross Purpose, Kings Head”

Review: Rent, Greenwich Theatre

“In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife”

Just a brief note on Rent as it is closing tomorrow and sadly I could find little constructive to say about it. I somehow have remained immune to the charms of Jonathan Larson’s show despite it gaining a fanatical following amongst some and so the prospect of seeing it filled me with much less anticipation than it did my companions for the evening. And for me, Paul Taylor-Mills’ production at the Greenwich Theatre did little to convince me to change my mind. 

A 90s pop-rock updating of Puccini’s La Bohème, the focus becomes a community of bohemians in New York’s Lower East Side as HIV/AIDS spreads its lethal influence as they all struggle to hold onto their dreams. There’s undoubtedly a dated feel to the material, something exacerbated by the low budget design of set and costume which feels rough around the edges but not in a way which really worked with the show. Continue reading “Review: Rent, Greenwich Theatre”

Review: Merrie England, Finborough

“No other land could nurse them”

The Finborough’s policy of celebrating neglected British musical theatre has unearthed much of interest for fans of the genre, though it is probably safe to say that there have been as many which will remain curiosities as there have bona fide successes worthy of further recognition and reappraisal. It is thereforemost pleasing to discover that their latest rediscovery, the comic opera Merrie England, is a genuine contender for the latter category and a scream of a success.

Written in 1902 by composer Edward German and librettist Basil Hood (a man who apparently died from overwork and undereating…), the show occupies similar territory to Gilbert and Sullivan in its operetta form, considerable lyrical wordplay and complete frivolity when it comes to matters of plot. For what its worth here, the play is set in the court of Queen Elizabeth I as she visits the Mayday celebrations in the village of Windsor, an event which sends the lovelives and rivalries of everyone from monarch to villagers into haywire. Continue reading “Review: Merrie England, Finborough”

Review: Ragtime, Landor

“It was the music of something beginning…”

Earlier this year, it did seem that the Landor had a bit of a curse as a range of issues forced programme changes on more than one occasion, but they do seem to have hit their stride now. I didn’t catch Carousel but it seemed to go down well and that was followed an incomparable production of The Hired Man, probably one of the best shows of the year so far, so there was no pressure resting on the show following at all: Ragtime. Directed by Artistic Director Robert McWhir, Ragtime continues the Landor’s strong trend of delivering top-quality fringe musical theatre with unfeasibly large casts: over 20 people make up this ensemble! I caught a preview on a Sunday afternoon as a ticket for a tenner deal popped up on Twitter (if you’re on Twitter then think about following theatres you like as similar deals are frequently posted up there).

And I am pleased to report that Ragtime comes close to the heights of The Hired Man in creating a stunning piece of emotional drama, enlivened with some perky playfulness and all wrapped in a deliciously beautiful score (and funnily enough set in a similar time period). The opening number is a thing of pure joy, managing to cover the thematic scope of the play and fully introduce the three families around which the story turns. Terrence McNally’s book is based on a novel by E.L. Doctorow set at the turn of the twentieth century in a New York bustling with huge social change. Continue reading “Review: Ragtime, Landor”

Review: The Hired Man, Landor

“No greater pleasure than work done well”

The Hired Man was Howard Goodall’s first musical, setting Melvyn Bragg’s story of turn-of-the-century everyday rural Cumbrian life to a score inspired by Kurt Weill but primarily influenced by English choral and folk music. Based on events that happened to Bragg’s grandfather, the plot revolves around farmhand John Tallentine, his wife Emily and their family during a period of considerable social and economic upheaval as agriculture declines, pit mining advances and the shadow of the First World War threatens everything and everyone.

Though the scope of the story is huge, taking in a significant chunk of British social history, it is actually intimately told by focusing in on this single family and how the larger events impact their daily lives. In this respect, Andrew Keates’ production at the Landor is a great match of venue and material as we are taken right into the heart of this story and the struggles of its tightly-knit society to find just a little daily happiness as they work the land whether through a pie and a pint in the local or breaking marriage vows. Continue reading “Review: The Hired Man, Landor”

Re-review: Once Upon Another Time at the Adelphi, Union Theatre

I quite often come out of shows knowing exactly which of my acquaintances I will be recommending it to, and Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi was no exception. However, this time I decided to go again as well, such was my enjoyment of the show. You can read my original review here, but I enjoyed it just as much the second time round and still found it just as moving.

Performances throughout were just as strong, if anything the choreography was delivered with even more confidence, and it was interesting to watch it from a different seat. Despite the Union being such a small space, it was a completely different viewing experience from the side and I also quite liked the fact that I heard much more of the harmony work going on in the ensemble, without the band being right behind me as it was last time. Continue reading “Re-review: Once Upon Another Time at the Adelphi, Union Theatre”