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.

The 2019 fosterIAN award winners

Best Actress in a Play
Sarah Niles/Natalie Simpson/Racheal Ofori, Three Sisters

Best Actress in a Musical
Audrey Brisson, Amélie the Musical

Best Actor in a Play
Lucian Msamati, ‘Master Harold’…and the boys

Best Actor in a Musical
Jamie Muscato, West Side Story (Curve Leicester)

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Monica Dolan, All About Eve

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Cassidy Janson/Melanie La Barrie, & Juliet 

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Nick Holder, Faith Hope and Charity

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
David Bedella, & Juliet

And my top 10 plays of the year:
1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse
2. Call Me Fury, Hope Theatre
3. West Side Story, Curve Leicester
4. As You Like It, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
5. Islander, Southwark Playhouse
6. Amélie the Musical, Watermill Theatre/UK Tour/The Other Palace
7. & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
8. Sexy Lamp, VAULT
9. Karaoke Play, Bunker Theatre
10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, National Theatre

fosterIAN awards 2019

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlaySarah Niles/Natalie Simpson/Racheal Ofori,
Three Sisters
Marieke Heebink,
Medea
Adjoa Andoh,
Richard II

Sharon D Clarke,
Death of a Salesman

Claire Foy,
Lungs

Leah Harvey,
Small Island

Chris Nietvelt,
De Kersentuin
Best Actor in a Play
Lucian Msamati, ‘Master Harold’…and the boysCary Crankson,
Country Music
Tobias Menzies,
The Hunt

Daniel Monks,
Teenage Dick

Wendell Pierce,
Death of a Salesman

Matt Smith,
Lungs

Zubin Varla,
Equus
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayMonica Dolan,
All About Eve
Jackie Pulford,
Karaoke Play
Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo,
Three Sisters

Janni Goslinga,
De Kersentuin

Pippa Nixon,
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Cecilia Noble,
Faith Hope and Charity

Gemma Whelan,
Pinter Seven
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayNick Holder,
Faith Hope and Charity
Hugo Koolschijn,
De Kersentuin
Rupert Graves,
Pinter Five

John Heffernan,
Pinter Seven

Martins Imhangbe/Natey Jones,
Death of a Salesman

Arinzé Kene/Sope Dirisu,
Death of a Salesman

Ken Nwosu,
Three Sisters
Best Actress in a MusicalAudrey Brisson,
Amélie the Musical
Kirsty Findlay/Bethany Tennick,
Islander
Lucie Jones/Katherine McPhee,
Waitress

Miriam-Teak Lee,
& Juliet

Samantha Pauly,
Evita

Joanna Riding,
Follies

Zizi Strallen,
Mary Poppins
Best Actor in a MusicalJamie Muscato,
West Side Story (Curve Leicester)
Keith Ramsay,
Preludes
Andy Coxon,
West Side Story (Royal Exchange)

Jordan Fox/Michael Vinsen,
[title of show]

David Hunter,
Waitress
,
Charlie Stemp,
Mary Poppins

Oliver Tompsett,
& Juliet
,
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Cassidy Janson/Melanie La Barrie,
& Juliet 
Jocasta Almgill/Emily Langham,
West Side Story (Royal Exchange)
Laura Baldwin/Marisha Wallace,
Waitress

Tiffany Graves/Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson,
The Boy Friend

Claire Machin/Claire Moore,
Mary Poppins

Rebecca McKinnis/Lauren Ward,
Dear Evan Hansen

Carly Mercedes Dyer/Victoria Hamilton-Barritt,
The View UpStairs
,
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalDavid Bedella,
& Juliet
Jack Butterworth,
The Boy Friend
Ricardo Afonso,
Jesus Christ Superstar

Rob Houchen,
The Light in the Piazza

Samuel Holmes,
Curtains

Cedric Neal,
The View UpStairs

Jez Unwin,
Amélie the Musical

2019 Best Supporting Actress in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Monica Dolan, All About Eve
In a star-studded ensemble, it was Dolan’s no-nonsense pseudo-narrator Karen who ended up pulling focus with her every utterance. With Appropriate too, 2019 was a superb year for Dolan and those of us who are captivated by her work.

Honourable mention: Jackie Pulford, Karaoke Play
Scorchingly good in a doozy of a tragicomic role, this is one I wasn’t expecting and entirely typical that it emerged out of the brilliant Bunker. 

Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Three Sisters
Janni Goslinga, De Kersentuin
Pippa Nixon, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Cecilia Noble, Faith Hope and Charity
Gemma Whelan, Pinter Seven

8-10
Deborah Findlay, Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.; Jane Horrocks, Pinter Five; Sarah Niles, Richard II

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Cassidy Janson/Melanie La Barrie, & Juliet
There was just so much superlative work in this category that shortlisting was nigh on impossible. So I doubled up on nominations, recognising how much great work was going on and in that crowded field, the glories of Janson and La Barrie just about edged it. Cassidy belting Céline as if her life depended on it, Mel getting it on in fine fashion (just watch her hips go!) – f**kin’ perfect you might say!

Honourable mention: Jocasta Almgill/Emily Langham, West Side Story (Royal Exchange)
Anita is probably one of my favourite roles in all of musical theatre and Almgill absolutely nailed it with a whirlwind of charismatic personality and pitch-perfect vocals. Langham’s Anybodys was a real surprise though, a near-constant presence in the background but a masterclass in detailed character work. And when ‘Somewhere’ starts…ooff!

Laura Baldwin/Marisha Wallace, Waitress
Tiffany Graves/Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson, The Boy Friend
Claire Machin/Claire Moore, Mary Poppins
Rebecca McKinnis/Lauren Ward, Dear Evan Hansen
Carly Mercedes Dyer/Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, The View UpStairs

8-10
Melissa James/Kate O’Donnell, Gypsy; Rebecca Lock/Carley Stenson, Curtains; Carly Mercedes Dyer/Beth Hinton-Lever, West Side Story (Curve Leicester)

The Curtain Up Show Album of the Year 2019 nominees

You can now vote for the Best London Cast Recording, Best Broadway Cast Recording and Best Solo Album here. Then fill in your details and click Vote and one lucky voter will win £100 worth of Theatre Tokens!

Best UK Cast Recording
& Juliet – Original London Cast Recording
Company – 2018 London Cast Recording
Follies – 2018 National Theatre Cast Recording
Heathers (Original West End Cast Recording)
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – 2019 Original London Cast
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Original Cast Recording

Best American Cast Recording
Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Hadestown (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Jagged Little Pill (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Moulin Rouge (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Oklahoma! (2019 Broadway Cast Recording)
Tootsie (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Best Solo Album
Cassidy Janson – Cassidy
Ramin Karimloo – From Now On
John Owen-Jones –Spotlight
Ben Platt – Sing To Me Instead
Jon Robyns – Musical Directions
Hayden Tee – Face to Face

2020 What’s On Stage Award nominations

The nominations for the 20th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards have been announced and I have a thought or two #justiceforAnneHathaway

As a publicly nominated affair, the What’s On Stage Awards always throw up an interesting set of nominations, as fanbases engage alongside theatregoers to produce an idiosyncratic reflection on the year. This year though, the nominees for the nine creative categories (Choreography, Costume Design, Direction, Graphic Design, Lighting Design, Musical Direction, Set Design, Sound Design and Video Design) have been decided by an independent panel of industry experts appointed, which has resulted in some pleasing inclusions for the likes of Equus and Small Island

Acting-wise, the focus does land a little heavily on the more famous names (plus ça change) and that Supporting Actress in a Musical category is super-crowded (the Dear Evan Hansen mothers would have been a shoo-in for me there). My only real point of issue comes with the categorisation for the & Juliet players – are you really going to nominate Oliver Tompsett as a lead and then put Cassidy Janson in the supporting category? Did you not see the show, or get any of its message at all?!

Voting for the winners is open now and closes on 27th January 2020, with the winners being revealed at a ceremony on 1st March 2020.

Best Actor in a Play, sponsored by Edwardian Hotels

Tom Hiddleston – Betrayal – Harold Pinter Theatre
Andrew Scott – Present Laughter – The Old Vic
Matt Smith – Lungs – The Old Vic
Wendell Pierce – Death of a Salesman – Young Vic / Piccadilly Theatre
Laurie Kynaston – The Son – Kiln Theatre / Duke of York’s Theatre

Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Tonic Theatre

Claire Foy – Lungs – The Old Vic
Zawe Ashton – Betrayal – Harold Pinter Theatre
Hayley Atwell – Rosmersholm – Duke of York’s Theatre
Sharon D Clarke – Death of a Salesman – Young Vic / Piccadilly Theatre
Juliet Stevenson – The Doctor – Almeida Theatre Continue reading “2020 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre

Late 90s pop is always my jam so a musical that features it is always going to be a winner. The brilliant & Juliet is so much more besides as well though, don’t miss it at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

“You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground”

What if Juliet didn’t die? And what if the writer and producer of some of the most iconic pop music of the last two decades (think Britney, Backstreet Boys, Céline, Katy Perry, Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, P!nk just to name a few) decided to lend his back catalogue of songs to a new musical dedicated to her? The result is & Juliet, a slice of energetic and hugely entertaining musical theatre that explodes with joy at the Shaftesbury Theatre. 

David West Read’s smartly self-aware book employs a metatheatrical twist as we open with William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway having a barney about the ending to his latest play Romeo and Juliet and she persuades him to give her a bash at writing a new one with him. Thus we pick up in Verona where Juliet reclaims ‘…Baby One More Time’ from Darius and declares her intention to flee to Paris with her best gal pals and flirt with some foreign guys. But as William and Anne tinker with their plotting, the fractures in their own relationship come to the fore, causing some major new plot twists. Continue reading “Review: & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre”

Album Review: & Juliet (Original London Cast Recording)

Capturing so much of effervescent fun of the show, the Original London Cast Recording of & Juliet should be on everyone’s Christmas list

“Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel
Like you’re less than f**kin’ perfect

When it comes to jukebox musicals, cast recordings can be a little hit and miss, depending on how the albums thrive (or otherwise) divorced from their theatrical contexts. Fortunately with & Juliet, a show I absolutely adored, the result is definitely more hit than miss. Having seen the show, it is a fantastic counterpart to my memories and every time I listen to it, it spurs me to look at ticket availability and ask myself how many times is enough…

The vibrancy of the production translates surprisingly well onto disc. The raucous energy of ‘Blow’ is one giant party, you’ll never hear ‘It’s My Life’ the same way again and the mash-up of ‘Problem’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ remains an absolute standout, anchored by Miriam Teak-Lee’s confident delivery and Jordan Luke Gage’s pop freshness. Teak-Lee really is superb throughout, power and passion invested in every song, treating Max Martin’s with the artistic integrity it thoroughly deserves. Continue reading “Album Review: & Juliet (Original London Cast Recording)”

Blogged: long-running shows and long-running blogs – what does the future hold

I revisit long-runners The Mousetrap, Les Misérables and Wicked, and come to a decision (of sorts) about the future of this blog

“Here’s to you and here’s to me”

Well 2019 has been an interesting year so far and one full of significance – I’ve turned 40, this blog has turned 10 and it’s all got me in a reflective mood. Personally, professionally, is this what I want to be doing? Do quote a Netflix show I haven’t even seen, does all this bring me joy…? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve revisited a few long-running shows in the West End to consider what cost longevity. 

The longest running show in the West End is The Mousetrap – 66 years old with over 27,000 performances and their answer to keeping going is to not change a single bit – has the show even ever cast a person of colour? My limited research suggests not… On the one hand, it’s a policy that does seem to have worked and that record is a mighty USP, although does the number of empty seats at the St Martin’s that afternoon suggest a waning of interest finally? Continue reading “Blogged: long-running shows and long-running blogs – what does the future hold”

Re-review: Wicked, Apollo Victoria

As Wicked powers towards its 13th year on the West End, Alice Fearn’s Elphaba ensures visitors to the Apollo Victoria won’t be disappointed

“Ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen…”

Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Wicked now – it feels like loads – so it’s useful that I have it all written down in a blog… I do know it is a good while since I last saw it, five years in fact, which was evidently my third visit to the Apollo Victoria and one which left me disappointed. So it has taken a little while for me to get interested in taking up an opportunity to go see it again but we got there, eventually.

And I have to say I enjoyed my return trip to Oz, mainly because of the sensational performance of Alice Fearn as Elphaba. It’s always nice to see a performer rewarded for paying their dues, working their way up through ensemble and chorus roles until they get that chance to shine. And because of that background, that experience, that starring role has the real sense of being a career-defining opportunity. Continue reading “Re-review: Wicked, Apollo Victoria”