News: All About Eve tickets now on general sale

Sonia Friedman Productions and Fox Stage Productions present the world premiere of Ivo van Hove’s highly anticipated stage production of the 1950 Twentieth Century Fox film All About Eve.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night

Tickets for All About Eve are now on general sale (10am on Friday 28th September) with reduced priced previews beginning on 2nd February 2019 and over 20,000 tickets being made available at £25 or under during the run.

There’s also been more casting news about who is joining Gillian Anderson and Lily James in the company, plus a double Mercury Prize-winner now providing the music for the show. All is revealed after the jump. Continue reading “News: All About Eve tickets now on general sale”

Album Review: Marguerite (2008 Original London Cast Recording)

“Come see the show,
She will neither know nor care”

It is always fascinating to listen to the cast recordings of shows that are regarded to have flopped, to see whether the writing was always on the wall or if some reason was responsible for the magic not happening. Lasting just four months at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2008, Marguerite is one such musical, despite (or maybe because of) the weight of expectation behind its writing team.

With a book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Jonathan Kent (from the the Alexandre Dumas, fils’ novel La Dame aux Camélias) lyrics by Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, and music by Michel Legrand, the demands on these Gallic grandees were nothing short of recreating the exceptional success of Les Misérables (on which Boublil, Schönberg and Kretzmer collaborated) but it wasn’t to be. Continue reading “Album Review: Marguerite (2008 Original London Cast Recording)”

Album Review: Julian Ovenden – Be My Love

“There’s no love song finer”

Be My Love is Julian Ovenden’s second album after 2012’s If You Stay and his first for East West Records. It sees the Downton Abbey and My Night With Reg star and delve into the Great American Songbook and focus on the section covered by the earlier half of the twentieth century. So the 13 tracks run the familiar gamut of Irving Berlin to Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein to Rodgers & Hart, his rich baritone-tenor voice sliding into these classic like smooth toffee.

Recorded in Frank Sinatra’s Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, the homage paid to the crooner is palpable indeed, both musically and stylistically. Ovenden’s fine voice rides the luscious waves of the rich orchestrations here from producer Nick Patrick and his confident performance in songs like ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and ‘Get Happy’ makes a worthy comparison. And its a level of quality and consistency that is maintained across the whole album. Continue reading “Album Review: Julian Ovenden – Be My Love”

TV Review: The Sound of Music Live

“It’s quite different after you’ve grown up”

The hills are alive, with the sound of questions. Like, why. The UK’s first fully live musical theatre television broadcast saw ITV produce Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music though the result was a curious experiment that fell uneasily between two stools. Lacking the crucial energy that propels the best live theatre (which comes from an audience too), the production values (though often impressive) naturally fell short of the opportunities of filmed work

Which ultimately begs the question, what’s the point. Is the UK hankering for a new production of the show? It’s hardly as if we’re lacking for productions popping up regularly in theatres across the land. Is it showcasing the best of British musical theatre talent? In that case why cast someone like Strictly winner and former Eastender Kara Tointon as Maria and shunt the likes of Julie Atherton (one of the most outstanding performers we have, bar none) into the nun ensemble. Continue reading “TV Review: The Sound of Music Live”

Re-review: My Night With Reg, Apollo

“I sometimes think I’d rather be fancied than liked”

The Donmar Warehouse’s production of My Night With Reg opened last year under a cloud of some sadness as playwright Kevin Elyot passed away just as rehearsals were starting. As it transfers to the West End into the Apollo Theatre, it finds itself surrounded by a different kind of cloud, one of prurient controversy as TfL banned the publicity image for the show (two variations of which I have kindly provided for you here) forcing them to reissue a picture sans arsecheek. (That this Bulk Powders advert somehow passed muster seems baffling – I’d love to know the full reasoning behind both decisions.)

That it provided a sneaky bit of extra guerilla advertising can’t have hurt, as when a similar thing happened to the Globe’s recent production of ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, and it is a play that thoroughly deserves it. I ranked it in my top 25 of last year (out of over 380 shows) and my original review can be read here. And thanks to the lovely people at Official Theatre and Seat Plan, I was glad to have the opportunity to spend another Night With Reg and get my heart gently but surely broken all over again.

Seeing it for a second time brings its own special pleasures. The seeds that are subtly hidden in plain sight to bear the fruit of later plotlines become apparent, increasing the tragic weight of the story, as does the advance knowledge of the timeline. The arc of Jonathan Broadbent’s Guy develops a particularly deep resonance as his flat forms the location for the show’s three acts – the backdrop for friends old and new working their way through what life has to throw at them.

And what remains so powerful about the play is how Robert Hastie’s production teases out the universality of its themes. It may be a gay 80s play, with all the baggage that comes with that, but its really about the fears we all have no matter who we sleep with. The fear that the right person to love might never come along, the worries about keeping a long-term relationship intact and enticing, the scariness of not really knowing what to do with your life.

The original cast remain blissfully perfect in their roles – Geoffrey Streatfeild’s increasingly haunted Daniel is almost unbearably moving as grief takes over, Julian Ovenden’s ennui so skilfully essayed under his hedonistic exterior, Richard Cant and an excellent Matt Bardock so vivid even as they appear so (relatively) briefly), and Lewis Reeves – he who had to turn the other (bum) cheek – an eloquent, understated beacon of hope for the future. Hugely recommended.

Ticket kindly provided by Official Theatre and Seat PlanClick here for more information on My Night With Reg
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 11th April

2014 Best Supporting Actor in a Play + a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Joe Caffrey, Wet House
One of the most painfully believable portrayals of alcoholism you could ever wish to see and just brutal in its tragedy, even if the audience around laughed merrily away

Honourable mention: Hans Kesting, Maria Stuart (Toneelgroep Amsterdam)
As the charismatic Leicester, loved by two queens, Kesting was a silkily seductive presence but one with steel at its very core. The kind of actor you can’t keep your eyes off (and if you ever see a show at the Stadschouwberg, nip upstairs to look at the very fetching portrait of him!).

Patrick Godfrey, Donkey Heart
Julian Ovenden, My Night With Reg
Hugh Skinner, Thérèse Raquin (Theatre Royal Bath)
Geoffrey Streatfeild, My Night With Reg

7-10
Sam Crane, Eternal Love; John Hodgkinson, Love’s Labours Lost/Won (RSC); Luke Norris, A View From The Bridge; Mark Rowley, The James Plays

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Jason Pennycooke, Memphis
Twinkle-eyed and twinkle-toed, Pennycooke is a sheer delight in Memphis as Bobby, the cleaner who becomes an unexpected television star, and just edges colleagues Rolan Bell and Tyrone Huntley who altogether make a superbly strong supporting line-up for this show.

Honourable Mention: Aaron Tveit, Assassins
The arrival of this square-jawed Broadway import was much heralded and certainly didn’t disappoint as he bolstered the tip-top ensemble that Jamie Lloyd assembled for Assassins with some fierce commitment and sheer quality.

Damian Buhagiar, In The Heights
Tyrone Huntley, Memphis
Nadim Naaman, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)
Jonathan Slinger, Urinetown

7-10
Dean John-Wilson, Here Lies Love; John Marquez, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Michael Matus, The Return of the Soldier; Cedric Neal, Porgy and Bess