Round-up of news, treats and other interesting things

I’m not one to blow my trumpet too much, honest, but it was nice to discover that the blog has been named one of Feedspot’s Top 50 Drama Blogs and Websites.


(c) Faye Thomas
This autumn the National Theatre will stage the world-premiere of Network, Lee Hall’s new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky.

Directed by Ivo van Hove, Tony award winner Bryan Cranston plays Howard Beale and announced today is Michelle Dockery as Diana Christenson.

Michelle said: “It’s a wonderful feeling to be going back to the National after eight years. To be working with Bryan Cranston and Ivo van Hove on an adaptation of this brilliant film is a rare and exhilarating opportunity, I am thrilled.”

A very limited number of additional on stage seats will be released in the autumn – see the NT website for more information.



Alice Hamilton (Visitors and Eventide, Bush Theatre) returns to the Orange Tree following Robert Holman’s German Skerries to direct Sarah Belcher (Medea, Almeida; Twelfth Night, Filter/RSC), Ian Gelder (The Treatment, Almeida; Kevan Lannister in four series of Game of Thrones), Colin Tierney (The Father, Theatre Royal Bath/Tricycle), Connie Walker (Death of a Salesman, Northampton/tour) and Sue Wallace (Husbands and Sons, Emil and the Detectives, National Theatre).


Major post-war playwright David Storey died in March 2017. Born in Wakefield, he was the son of a Yorkshire miner and became a distinctive voice of working class Britain, especially through productions at the Royal Court Theatre in the 1960s and 70s.

Previewing from 7 September, this is the first major production of his play The March on Russia since premiering at the National Theatre in 1989.


Following last week’s opening of Girl from the North Country at The Old Vic, a video has been released of one of my favourite numbers from the show – Sheila Atim’s performance of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)’.

Though it means we in the UK lose them for a good wodge of time, it is great to see that the seven original London leads from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will star in the Broadway production of the show when it opens across the pond in March 2018.


Reprising their roles will be Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), Sam Clemmett (Albus Potter), Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter), Alex Price (Draco Malfoy) and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy).

They will be joined by a cast of 28 new actors in the production which officially opens at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway on 22 April 2018.

They include David Abeles, Brian Abraham, Shirine Babb, Jess Barbagallo, Stephen Bradbury, Lauren Nicole Cipoletti, Joshua De Jesus, Jessie Fisher, Richard Gallagher, Susan Heyward, Geraldine Hughes, Edward James Hyland, Byron Jennings, Katie Kreisler, Joey LaBrasca, Andrew Long, Kathryn Meisle, Angela Reed, Dave Register, Adeola Role, James Romney, Malika Samuel, Alanna Saunders, David St. Louis, Stuart Ward, Madeline Weinstein, Alex Weisman and Benjamin Wheelwright.


The full cast joining Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire in James Graham’s Labour of Love has been announced.


The play follows David Lyons, a Labour MP played by Freeman, over the course of 25 years as the country, and the Labour party, undergo significant changes in philosophy, culture and class. Lancashire will play Lyons’ his constituency agent Jean Whittaker.

Rachael Stirling will play Elizabeth Lyons. Her previous theatre credits include The Winter’s Tale (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Medea (Headlong) and The Recruiting Officer (Donmar Warehouse). She has appeared on screen in Doctor Who and Detectorists, and was nominated or an Olivier Award for her role in The Priory at the Royal Court.

Kwong Loke will play Mr Shen. Loke has previously appeared in You For Me For You (Royal Court Theatre), The Lulu Plays (Almeida Theatre) and Hiawatha (Bristol Old Vic), a well as the films At Sea on Inya Lake and Another Land.

Len Prior will be played by Dickon Tyrrell. His work at the Globe includes Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello and The Oresteia, and his work at the Royal Court includes Anatomy of a Suicide and Harvest.

Susan Wokoma will play Margot Miller. She has previously appeared in A Raisin in the Sun (Sheffield Crucible, UK tour), Henry IV, Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse at St Ann’s Warehouse) and Game (Almeida Theatre).

Jeremy Herrin directs the piece for Headlong, and this world premiere marks the return of Michael Grandage Company to the West End for the first time since Photograph 51 which starred Nicole Kidman.

Review: Songs and Solidarity, Trafalgar Studios

“We could see this was a bad one immediately. The sky was glowing.”
Touted as an evening of song, dance and poetry, Songs and Solidarity was a remarkable event indeed. A fundraising gala evening pulled together in the space of a week by the superhuman efforts of actor Giles Terera and producer Danielle Tarento, it was a concert for the hundreds of families made homeless and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire. Hosted by Claire Sweeney, musically directed by the enormously talented Tim Sutton, 
The balance of the programme was just right too. From pure musical loveliness like the gentle harmonies of Tyrone Huntley and Jon Robyns on Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ and the simplicity of Rachel Tucker’s acapella take on ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, to the more intense emotion of Terera’s own ‘Ol’ Man River’ and a visibly moved Clare Foster’s ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ (a song with which I wasn’t familiar but rather destroyed me). From the much-needed comic relief of Stiles & Drewe skipping through ‘A Little Bit of Nothing On A Big White Plate’ to the soul-warming ‘Indiscriminate Acts Of Kindness’ performed by the ever excellent Julie Atherton.
The more stirring emotional moments came from those performers talking about their more personal connection to the tragedy. Musician Earl Okin spoke movingly about living in the shadow of the tower itself before a stunning version of Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless The Child’, polymath Rikki Beadle-Blair turned his experience of being evicted from his own tower block into something akin to performance art before an impassioned ‘Change Is Gonna Come’, Mark Thomas had us in tears of laughter with his comedy set before expertly twisting the knife with his fervent defence of public servants, particularly the firefighters whom he had visited just to say thank you.
Musical numbers were interspersed with powerful extracts of verbatim testimony from some of the survivors of the fire, read by the likes of Nikki Amuka-Bird, Rakhee Thakrar and Vikesh Bhai, even Dame Judi Dench got in on the action with a recording. But for me, the most memorable part of the evening came with Noma Dumezweni’s recital of this Facebook post from a firefighter who attended Grenfell. Gently asking us to close our eyes and to consider this a radio play, it was a sobering reminder of exactly what we ask of our much beleaguered emergency services and of the scale of the tragedy which should not, can not, must not be forgotten.
It was also instructive and inspirational to hear from Eartha Pond, the Queens Park councillor who set up this GoFundMe page to help provide a focal point for support and whose tireless efforts on the ground to help those affected by the fire are being fitted around the responsibilities of her day job. In the words of Heather Small, a surprise addition to the bill, ‘what have you done today to make yourself feel proud?’ Well, you can still donate money and if you are quick, you can also still participate in the silent auction (entries close on Friday 30th). 

Programme
Had I A Golden Thread – Alexia Khadime
Total Praise – West End Gospel Choir
We’ve Lost Everything – Vikesh Bhai
True Colors – Tyrone Huntley and Jon Robyns
I Said Listen, We Have To Go Back – Nikki Amuka-Bird
Natural Woman – Cassidy Janson
Extract from The Hotel Cerise and Still I Rise by Maya Angelou – Bonnie Greer 
God Bless The Child – Earl Okin
Your Face – The Olai Collier Company feat. Caitlin Taylor and Ayden Morgan
Mark Thomas
Change Is Gonna Come – Rikki Beadle-Blair, accompanied by Jami Reid Quarrell
Ol’ Man River – Giles Terera
She Moved Through The Fair – Rachel Tucker
Wind Beneath My Wings – Rachel Tucker

A Little Bit of Nothing On A Big White Plate – Stiles & Drewe
One Thing I’ll Say, I’m Proud Of The Young People – Rakhee Thakrar
Don’t Worry About Me – Clare Foster
It’s Not About Muslim Or Christian – Nikki Amuka-Bird
Redemption Song – Tyrone Huntley
Indiscriminate Acts Of Kindness – Julie Atherton, accompanied by Curtis Volp
The Fire Fighter – Noma Dumezweni
Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries – Claire Sweeney
Sweet Thing – David McAlmont accompanied by Curtis Slapper
Proud – Heather Small
You’ve Got A Friend – Cassidy Janson and Company

News: Songs and Solidarity – a concert for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

Adding to the fundraising efforts already established, actor Giles Terera and producer Danielle Tarento have put together a theatrically inclined evening of song, dance and comedy in aid of those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Songs and Solidarity takes place on Sunday 25 June at 7.30pm, and will feature performances from West End stars including Olivier Award-winner Noma Dumezweni, Rachel Tucker (Wicked), Tyrone Huntley (Dreamgirls), Clare Foster (Travesties), Cassidy Janson (Beautiful) and Alexia Khadime (The Book of Mormon).

They will be joined by a host of performers and comedians including Julie Atherton, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Jon Robyns, Jason Manford, Mark Thomas, Stiles and Drewe, Rikki Beadle-Blair, Vikash Bhai, Bonnie Greer, David McAlmont, Omar F Okai Company, Earl Okin, Claire Sweeney, Rakhee Thakrar, Gok Wan and the West End Gospel Choir.

The concert will also feature contributions from Dame Judi Dench, and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.


Talking about the event, Terera said:

“I’m sure for all of us our immediate response is to want to try and reach out and help, either as an individual or collectively. The community that has suffered this horror has always been a strong, close knit, diverse, creative one. As an artistic community we aim for those same values. 

“At the same time it is a community which has been marginalised and ignored for a very long time. So as well as the vital response of trying to contribute financially and materially we have an opportunity to come together stand in solidarity with those directly affected and say this should not have happened.”



Proceeds from the concert, which will also feature a silent auction with theatre-related lots, will go to
the Grenfell Tower Fire Fund set up by Eartha Pond.

Songs and Solidarity takes place at Trafalgar Studios on Sunday 25 June at 7.30pm

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Specials 2008-2010

“Because your song is ending, sir…It is returning. It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor? Oh, but then… He will knock four times.”

Cos he’s special, David Tennant got to spread his farewell over 4 specials from Christmas 2008 to New Year 2010, and as this also marked Russell T Davies’ departure from the show, the stories start off grand and rise to operatic scales of drama by the time we hit the megalithic The End of Time. That finale works well in its quieter moments but does suffer a little from an overabundance of plot and whatnot. The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead are good value for money romps but it is The Waters of Mars and all its attendant darkness that stands out most, teasing all the complex arrogance of a God-figure gone wrong.

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Episodes, in order of preference

The Waters of Mars
The End of Time
The Next Doctor
Planet of the Dead

Top 5 guest spots

1 Bernard Cribbens’ Wilf, graduating from guest appearances to fully-fledged companion for The End of Time was a masterstroke – their ruminative conversations a powerful counterpoint to all the bombast
2 As the would-be Doctor in The Next Doctor, David Morrissey’s pained eloquence was just lovely, all the more so for its initial unexpectedness

3 Lindsay Duncan’s intense Captain Adelaide Brooke and her defeat of the Time Lord Victorious and all his hubris – wow.
4 Velile Tshabalala’s Rosita – another to add to the list of companions that could have been
5 This series also saw the last appearance of Lachele Carl’s US newsreader Trinity Wells, a constant since the reboot whose brief reports were always nice to see.

Saddest death

I’m probably supposed to say Ten here but the portentousness of the farewell tour was too much even for me, so Adelaide’s demise gets the nod for being so fantastically dark 

Most wasted guest actor

Catherine Tate – given the sledgehammer of Donna’s departure, bringing her back so minimally in this way felt like a slap in the face

Most important thing that is never mentioned again

Are the Weeping Angels Gallifreyan in origin as hinted here? Or is it just me?

Gay agenda rating

F – with the focus on Tennant’s (and Davies’) departure, I think they forgot about the gays (Alonso and Jack’s implied hook-up aside)

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 4

“Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved”

 

And here we are, my favourite series of Doctor Who. So much huge wonderfulness and even its less good moments are still more than halfway decent. Key to the series’ success is Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble – gobby and one-dimensional in her introductory episode the Christmas special The Runaway Bride, her character journey throughout this season is magisterially constructed, a true awakening of self (with thankfully no romantic inclinations towards our Time Lord) and one given unbearable poignancy due to its frustratingly tragic end.
It’s also one of the best constructed series in terms of its over-arching season arc, its warnings and clues layered meaningfully into several stories and building into a momentous and properly climactic finale, which lands just about the right level of grandiosity. There’s also the first companion-lite episode (the superbly creepy Midnight) to go with the Doctor-lite one (the achingly beautiful dystopian Turn Left); a typically brilliant Moffat double-header in  Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead with gorgeous work from Alex Kingston as the soon-to-be-hugely-significant River Song; and if the return of Rose undoes some of the emotional impact of the Series 2 finale, Billie Piper’s work is spikily powerful. These are episodes I can, and have, watched over and over again.

 

Episodes, in order of preference

Turn Left
Silence in the Library
Forest of the Dead
Midnight
The Unicorn and the Wasp
The Stolen Earth
Journey’s End
Planet of the Ood
The Fires of Pompeii
Voyage of the Damned
Partners in Crime
The Sontaran Stratagem
The Poison Sky
The Doctor’s Daughter

Top 5 guest spots

1 Fenella Woolgar’s marvellously layered Agatha Christie
2 Ryan Sampson’s brattish teenage genius Luke Rattigan
3 Sarah Lancashire’s nanny in the stars Miss Foster
4 Lesley Sharp’s technical brilliance (along with everything else) as Sky Sylvestri
5 And serving up Winifred Bambera-style realness, Noma Dumezweni’s Captain Erisa Magambo

Saddest death

You have to admire Kylie’s gumption, not only securing a guest star role as Astrid Peth but securing her place in the annals as one of the few companions to perish in the line of duty. Special mention to the truly haunting demise of Talulah Riley’s Miss Evangelista in The Library.

Most wasted guest actor

O-T Fagbenle’s Other Dave, I just love him too much to be satisfied with anything less than a lead role.

Most important thing that is never mentioned again

THE REALITY BOMB – yet another all-powerful weapon that no-one else has tried to use

Gay agenda rating

B – loving the casual references to characters’ sexualities (ie Sky in Midnight) and the pointed recognition of the contemporary difficulties – of the flirting boys in The Unicorn and the Wasp

 

Winners of the 2017 Olivier Awards

Here are the winners for the 2017 Olivier Awards – it will come as little surprise that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child carried the night, sweeping a record 9 trophies from its record 11 nominations. And on the musical side of things, there was a pleasing spread of awards (although fans of Half A Sixpence will undoubtedly be miffed). There’s a temptation to be slightly cynical (who doesn’t love a bit of a snark…)  in that Cursed Child winning so many was an easy way to grab headlines – spreading the love better reflects the diversity of the industry, insofar as these awards reflect it at all. And  Groundhog Day winning Best New Musical just before it opens in New York and rumoured to return to London in the coming months feels a tad convenient but hey ho, whatcha gonna do.

I didn’t do too badly with my predictions –  I got 6 out of 8 winners right in the acting categories. Full list under the cut.


Best actor in a supporting role in a musical

Ian Bartholomew for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre
Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at Savoy theatre – WINNER
Ben Hunter for The Girls at Phoenix theatre
Andrew Langtree for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic
 
Best actress in a supporting role in a musical
Haydn Gwynne for The Threepenny Opera at National Theatre – Olivier
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt for Murder Ballad at Arts theatre
Rebecca Trehearn for Show Boat at New London theatre – WINNER
Emma Williams for Half a Sixpence at Noël Coward theatre

Continue reading “Winners of the 2017 Olivier Awards”

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things


An amusing tidbit from Paul Chahidi’s Twitter takeover for the Donmar Warehouse, promoting his show Limehouse and the commitment its actors have to the art of the warm-up.


Fresh from taking the Barbican by storm (again) with Roman Tragedies, Ivo van Hove and Toneelgroep Amsterdam will be returning to London next month with a version of Luchino Visconti’s 1943 film Obsession. Joining Jude Law in the multinational cast is the fantastic Dutch actress Halina Reijn, Chuk Iwuji, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Robert De Hoog, and Aysha Kala, Rehearsal pics above by Jan Versweyveld and an excellent feature on the show here from Sarah Hemming.


Something lovely from the beginning of the week

What better way to welcome the spring equinox than with @MissDumezweni‘s beautiful reading of Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. pic.twitter.com/bJvJmQN8ar

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) March 20, 2017


Hampstead Theatre announced the casting for the world premiere of Stephen Brown’s play Occupational Hazards, which is based on Rory Stewart’s critically acclaimed memoir of the same name.

Directed by Simon Godwin, this new play tells an extraordinary story about the moral conflicts, the dangers and the comic absurdities inherent in any foreign occupation.Henry Lloyd-Hughes will play the role of Rory having last been seen at Hampstead Theatre in Nina Raine’s Tiger Country in 2011.

The cast also includes Nezar Alderazi, Waj Ali, Silas Carson, Amy Cudden, Vangelis Christodoulou, Vincent Ebrahim, Aishya Hart, John Mackay and Johndeep More.


Manchester’s HOME is delighted to announce the first UK revival of Martin Sherman’s award-winning Rose, which premiered at the National Theatre in London in 1999. Directed by Richard Beecham, Janet Suzman takes on the role of the eponymous Rose. As the current refugee crisis engulfs Europe, as America closes its doors to refugees, and as racism, xenophobia and nationalism are resurgent across the globe, this revival of Rose is being touted as extremely topical and timely.

Janet Suzman commented:

“This anarchic, agnostic tearaway got to me when I read Martin Sherman’s terrific play. Rose’s ironical self-awareness, her independence of spirit, her fierce instinct for survival is the story we all want to hear about the human spirit at its bravest. In the end she finds a moral purpose to a life forged in an immoral world. I salute Rose and her like.”

Richard Beecham added: 

Rose strikes me as a play for our times. Written on the cusp of the millennium as an epitaph to the 20th century, this play about the refugee experience, about anti-Semitism and xenophobia, about the conflict in Israel/Palestine, about America as a safe haven for the persecuted, looks forward to our 21st century world in a frighteningly prescient way. It does so with real insight, bravura storytelling and a mordant sense of humour and I am delighted to be working with the extraordinary Janet Suzman to bring Rose alive for audiences today.”

The production runs Thu 25 May – Sat 10 June

2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Palace
Elegy – Donmar Warehouse
The Flick – National Theatre Dorfman
One Night in Miami – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
Groundhog Day – The Old Vic
Dreamgirls – Savoy
The Girls – Phoenix
School of Rock – New London

Best Revival 
Yerma – Young Vic
The Glass Menagerie – Duke of York’s
This House – Garrick
Travesties – Apollo Continue reading “2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

The 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards winners in full

Here’s the full list of the 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards winners. No real surprises here, there rarely is with these awards voted for by the public but it is nice to see a real spread across the musicals categories rather than one show dominating as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child does with the plays. And we’ll just ignore the leniency with the deadlines that meant Dreamgirls was able to sneak in despite having only played a handful of previews by the time nominations closed…congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Best Actor in a Play, sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian
Ian Hallard for The Boys in the Band
Ian McKellen for No Man’s Land
Jamie Parker for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child WINNER
Kenneth Branagh for The Entertainer
Ralph Fiennes for Richard III

Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Live at Zédel 
Billie Piper for Yerma WINNER 
Helen McCrory for The Deep Blue Sea
Lily James for Romeo and Juliet
Michelle Terry for Henry V
Pixie Lott for Breakfast at Tiffany’s Continue reading “The 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards winners in full”