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.

CD Review: Bluebird (2009 Concept Album)

“He came so close to me”

I first became aware of Gareth Peter Dicks’ music through The Music Box, a compilation of some of his musical theatre tracks sung by a ton of West End faves, which served as a neat introduction to this composer. It’s a tough old world out there for new musical theatre and so people have to find the best way they can to get their music out there and noticed – showcase CDs are one, and concept albums are another, what Dicks did with his musical Bluebird a few years ago.

A love story set throughout the turmoil of WWII, Sarah Lark’s nurse Roberta Jones is like so many others in having to bid farewell to her husband Pete as he leaves for the frontline and her daughter who is evacuated to the country. Pete keeps in touch via regular letter-writing but a charming US serviceman Ben fills the void for companionship in her life but as their relationship intensifies, Roberta is forced to question what and who she wants.  Continue reading “CD Review: Bluebird (2009 Concept Album)”

CD Review: Spamalot UK Cast Album

“Now we can go straight into the middle eight”

Now that Spamalot has left the West End (again) (and may well pop up once again given its reliability as a stand-by for quickly vacated theatres), I thought I would give the soundtrack a listen, not least because it has languished on my hard-drive for a good couple of years now without me actually getting round to it. Recorded in 2010 at the Churchill Bromley, the album features the UK cast from that touring production of this Eric Idle and John Du Prez show.

It’s a live recording which means the first thing we hear is applause, something which annoys me disproportionately – why can’t, or don’t, they edit it out – as I don’t want to hear anything that isn’t the people on the stage. Likewise with the laughter throughout, I’m glad the audience were finding it funny but that’s not why people buy soundtracks, to hear others having a good time – is it too much to expect a recording unsullied by the great unwashed?! Continue reading “CD Review: Spamalot UK Cast Album”

CD Review: Words Shared With Friends

“I’m not a man who finds gestures of affection the natural thing to do”

Over the past decade or so, writer and lyricist Robert Gould has worked with a wide range of composers from across the globe and amassed quite the contact list of performer friends, so the progression to recording a collection of his songs feels like a natural one. Words Shared With Friends thus takes in collaborations from the USA to Sweden and Israel, with excerpts from eight different shows and some stand-along songs, and features a roll-call of exciting musical theatre talent including the likes of Laura Pitt-Pulford, Kit Orton, Joe Sterling and Rebecca Trehearn. 

The 16 numbers range from impassioned musical theatre to straight up pop-rock songs and through the diversity, it is the British composers who shine most. Sarah Galbraith and Kit Orton duet gorgeously on ‘I Cannot Lose You’, a newly written song from Orton’s own My Land’s Shore; Joe Sterling breezes through the effortlessly perfect pop of ’Reasons’ from the self-penned Roundabout; and Ben Stott captures the bruised fragility of Ben Messenger’s ‘Here It Comes Again’, a ruefully beautiful ballad of self-reflection and resignation.  Continue reading “CD Review: Words Shared With Friends”

CD Review: Somewhere In My Mind – The Songs of Joe Sterling

“Do we ever really know?”

Joe Sterling’s debut album Somewhere In My Mind has lingered in my iTunes folder for ages now and I’ve never quite got round to listening to it. But thanks to the randomness of the shuffle function and the inspired use of Virgin Pendolino in a rhyme, its presence reasserted itself and I gave the collection a listen. With lyricist Robert Gould, Sterling has written a couple of musicals, one of which – Roundabout – is featured heavily here, and he’s gathered an interesting collection of performers to sing their way through his first songbook.

I say interesting because it eschews many of the familiar names who pop up on this type of album and thus showcases a range of talent who may not necessarily be familiar to you or I. Rosa O’Reilly’s gorgeous pop vocal on the plaintive ‘Ships That Pass In The Night’ immediately marks her out as someone I want to know more about, Jonathan Williams find a similar purity in early track ‘Gone’ and Sterling delivers the guitar-led charms of ‘You Could Be The One, They Said’ with a lovely lightness that is persuasive and not a little attractive. Continue reading “CD Review: Somewhere In My Mind – The Songs of Joe Sterling”

fosterIAN awards 2013

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayMarianne Jean-Baptiste, The Amen CornerMichelle Terry, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Globe)Lucy Ellinson, Grounded
Stella Gonet/Fenella Woolgar, Handbagged
Lesley Manville, Ghosts (Almeida)
Shuna Snow, Iron
Best Actor in a PlayPhilip Duguid-McQuillan & Jamie Samuel, Jumpers for GoalpostsAl Weaver, The PrideBrian Cox, The Weir
Hugo Koolschijn, Scenes from a Marriage (Toneelgroep Amsterdam)
Benedict Wong, Chimerica
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayLinda Bassett, RootsDeborah Findlay, CoriolanusAnna Calder-Marshall, The Herd
Isabella Laughland, The Same Deep Water As Me
Hadewych Minis, Scenes from a Marriage (Toneelgroep Amsterdam)
Cecilia Noble, The Amen Corner
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayPearce Quigley, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Globe)Roeland Fernhout, Scenes from a Marriage (Toneelgroep Amsterdam)Richard McCabe, The Audience
Jeff Rawle, Handbagged
Andy Rush, Jumpers for Goalposts
Alexander Vlahos, Macbeth (MIF)
Best Actress in a MusicalRosalie Craig, The Light PrincessCynthia Erivo, The Color PurpleZrinka Cvitešić, Once the musical
Anita Dobson, Carnival of the Animals
Scarlett Strallen, A Chorus Line
Charlotte Wakefield, The Sound of Music
Best Actor in a MusicalKyle Scatliff, Scottsboro Boys Declan Bennett, Once the musicalDavid Birrell, Sweeney Todd
Nick Hendrix, The Light Princess
Matt Smith, American Psycho
Michael Xavier, The Sound of Music
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalLeigh Zimmerman, A Chorus LineNicola Hughes, The Color PurpleAmy Booth-Steel, The Light Princess
Katie Brayben, American Psycho
Cassidy Janson, Candide
Sophia Nomvete, The Color Purple
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalKit Orton, The Hired ManMichael Matus, The Sound of MusicBen Aldridge, American Psycho
Christian Dante White, Scottsboro Boys
Kane Oliver Parry, The Light Princess
Gary Wood, A Chorus Line

2013 Best Supporting Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Pearce Quigley, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Globe)
Taking on as famous a role as Nick Bottom has plenty of pitfalls, but Pearce Quigley fearlessly took up the challenge in Dominic Dromgoole’s revelatory and riotous production at the Globe and delivered a wittily sardonic Bottom that made him one of the most comic parts of one of the funniest productions of the year.

Honourable mention: Roeland Fernhout, Scenes from a Marriage (Toneelgroep Amsterdam)
Due to the randomness of the design of the first act, it was pure chance that my first encounter at Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s Scenes from a Marriage was with Fernhout and Hadewych Minis’ version of Johan and Marianne. But from the very first moments, his intensity sucked us right in whilst the twinkle in his eye (plus his predilection for mingling in amongst the audience) made him a hugely magnetic presence.

Richard McCabe, The Audience
Jeff Rawle, Handbagged
Andy Rush, Jumpers for Goalposts
Alexander Vlahos, Macbeth (MIF)

7-10

Toby Jones, Circle Mirror Transformation; Eric Kofi Abrefa, The Amen Corner; Peter McDonald, The Weir; Kyle Soller, Edward II

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Kit Orton, The Hired Man
Though his rugged charms are undeniable, Orton more than earned his place here in the delightful actor-musician production of Howard Goodall’s The Hired Man that graced Colchester and Leicester. A compellingly masculine presence as the flirtatious Jackson and beautifully-voiced throughout, he also revealed himself to be a dab hand on the fiddle, demonstrating all the strings to his bow. 

Honourable mention: Michael Matus, The Sound of Music
Across a sterling ensemble, Matus’ huge geniality as fixer Max Detweiler was a highlight in the Open Air Theatre’s excellent The Sound of Music, his avuncular charm a pleasure to watch and a great way to subtly reinvent the role for himself.

Ben Aldridge, American Psycho
Christian Dante White, The Scottsboro Boys
Kane Oliver Parry, The Light Princess
Gary Wood, A Chorus Line

7-10

Stephen Ashfield, The Book of Mormon; Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys; Clive Rowe, The Light Princess; Jon Trenchard, Fiddler on the Roof

Review: Dickens Abridged, Arts Theatre

“Fistulas, fistulas, always the fistulas”

Previously seen in an earlier incarnation as Dickens Unplugged, Dickens Abridged is a shorter, sharper “high-speed comic sprint through Dickens’ greatest hits.” If the format seems a little familiar, then it should come as no surprise that writer and director Adam Long is one of the founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company and it is the same frenetic energy and absurd humour that he brings to this 90 minute show which sweeps through the life and works of this literary genius.

The show works best when its 5-strong company are freewheeling merrily through its rapid-fire comedy. Purists may blanch but to hear the plots of Bleak House and The Old Curiosity Shop encapsulated in four-line ditties, likewise Little Dorrit in a musical limerick and Great Expectations covered in a quick-change routine is breathlessly hilarious. Long’s undoubted skill of creating a witty précis of even the most convoluted of plots is adroitly observed and with this talented cast of actor-musicians on fine form, it’s a winning combination. Continue reading “Review: Dickens Abridged, Arts Theatre”