Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Emilia already looked like one of the top tips of Michelle Terry’s inaugural season at the Globe and with this cast announcement, Nicole Charles’ production fast becomes an absolute must-see!

Nadia Albina will play Lady Katherine 
Anna Andresen will play Mary Sidney 
Shiloh Coke will play Lady Anne Clifford
Leah Harvey will play Emilia 1
Jenni Maitland will play Countess of Kent 
Clare Perkins will play Emilia 3 
Carolyn Pickles will play Lord Henry Carey 
Vinette Robinson will play Emilia 2 
Sophie Russell will play Lord Thomas Howard
Sarah Seggari will play Lady Cordelia 
Sophie Stone will play Lady Margaret Clifford 
Charity Wakefield will play William Shakespeare 
Amanda Wilkin will play Alphonso Lanier

In 1611 Emilia Bassano penned a volume of radical, feminist and subversive poetry. It was also the first published collection of poetry written by a woman in England. Lloyd Malcolm promises to reveal the life of Emilia: poet, mother and feminist from the 10th August. See you there? Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

Album Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Unmasled

Andrew Lloyd Webber marks his 70th birthday with a new musical anthology –  Unmasked: The Platinum Collection – taking in shows new and old with some surprises along the way (Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Duncan from Blue )

“Oh what a circus, oh what a show”

Upon reaching 70 this year, Andrew Lloyd Webber is clearly in a reflective mood and hot on the heels of his autobiography Unmasked released last week, comes this new compilation album Unmasked: The Platinum Collection. Available physically as a 2CD or 4CD version (the latter with a 40 page book of liner notes and tributes), this collection looks back on a career spanning nearly 50 years and features some new twists on the material as well as reminding us of the old favourites.

Over the four discs, 17 of Lloyd Webber’s shows are represented here (Jesus Christ Superstar tops the list with 8 tracks, Evita and Phantom just behind), alongside assorted one-off songs (such as ‘Amigos Para Siempre’ from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the Gary Barlow co-write ‘Sing’ from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee). But for ALW fans it will be the unreleased stuff that makes the mouth water – five new orchestral suites and a smattering of new recordings featuring the likes of Lana del Rey (a winsome ‘You Must Love Me’ and Gregory Porter (a spirited ‘Light At The End Of The Tunnel’. Continue reading “Album Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection”

News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert

Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP) is pleased to announce the following creative team for Broadway Classics in Concert, on TuesdayFebruary 208:00 p.m., in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.

Don StephensonStage Director
Kevin StitesMusic Director/Conductor
Christopher AshProjection & Video
Jason LyonsLighting
Dave HorowitzSound
Gary MickelsonStage Manager
Telsey + Company / Craig Burns, CSACasting

MCP also welcomes Nikki Renée Daniels who will be joining the outstanding alumni cast for Broadway Classics in Concert.

The full alumni cast includes Michael Arden (Ragtime, Hunchback of Notre Dame)Sierra Boggess (The Secret Garden)Carolee Carmello (Broadway Classics 2013)Allan Corduner(Titanic)Nikki Renée Daniels (The Secret Garden)Quentin Earl Darrington (The Secret Garden)Ramin Karimloo (Parade, The Secret Garden)Norm Lewis (Ragtime)Laura Osnes(Crazy For You)Lea Salonga (Ragtime)Ryan Silverman (Titanic) and Tony Yazbeck (Crazy For You). Continue reading “News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert”

Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrates 70 years with ‘Unmasked: The Platinum Collection’

In celebration of his 70th birthday this March, new compilation ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: THE PLATINUM COLLECTION will be available March 16th through UMC / Polydor.  

The collection is personally curated and overseen by Lloyd Webber to include classics from his earliest work starting with 1968’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through his most recent School of Rock. 

Newly recorded songs from superstar artists Nicole Scherzinger (“Memory”, Cats), Gregory Porter (“Light at the End of the Tunnel”, Starlight Express) and Lana Del Rey (“You Must Love Me”, Evita) add to the collection of his cherished works from the past five decades. 

The set also contains recordings by world-class performers such as Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, and released for the first time, Beyonce singing “Learn To Be Lonely” from the 2005 Academy Awards with Lloyd Webber accompanying on piano. 

UNMASKED: THE PLATINUM COLLECTION is available as 2 CD and 4 CD editions. The 4-disc version contains an exclusive 40-page book with a personally penned introduction from Lloyd Webber and more in-depth notes on each track, written by respected theatre critic and Lloyd Webber biographer Michael Coveney, together with personally written tributes from Barbara Streisand and Glenn Close among others. 

Pre-order 2 CD Edition

Pre-order 4 CD Edition

Continue reading “Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrates 70 years with ‘Unmasked: The Platinum Collection’”

Album Review: Love Never Dies (2010 Concept Album)

“The world is hard, the world is mean

It’s hard to keep your conscience clean”

I hadn’t listened to Love Never Dies since seeing its very first preview (oh how we laughed when ALW ran furious from the stalls when the set broke down) and having popped on the concept album that was released in tandem, I was soon reminded why. The not-a-sequel to Phantom of the Opera too often feels like a lazy retread of familiar ground, demonstrating zero musical progression and revealing a stagnation where there once was innovation.
 
The Coney Island setting undercuts any attempt to get close to the gothic horror of the opera house, the ‘freak show’ elements are desperately tame there. The swerves into rock are ill-advised in the extreme. Lyrically, there’s no ingenuity here at all, the words play second fiddle to the music to their peril And above all, the interpolation of themes from Phantom serve as a constant reminder of what this is not, and also the ultimate folly of the enterprise.
 
There’s a strange imbalance to the writing, that pushes the female characters to one side. So having saddled Sierra Boggess’ Christine with a rewritten song from The Beautiful Game as the title track, the maestro doesn’t give her much else of memorable interest to do, whilst the book simultaneously robs the character of any real agency. Same with Mme Giry, sung here by Sally Dexter though played by Liz Robertson onstage, a great talent sorely underused.
 
The focus is squarely on the men and Lord knows Ramin Karimloo has the physique to cope with it. Sad truth is though, that there’s a large amount of bluster and not much ballast to what he has to sing (once more). He’s a mighty singer but these are substandard goods. Love Never Dies has been substantially tinkered with since I saw it, and since this recording was made, but it is hard not to feel that its problems are of a more existential nature.

 

Album Review: Anastacia (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“What dream hold the key to your heart?”


I may be the wrong target audience for Anastasia, currently doing decent business on Broadway, being 18 when the film came out and never having made the effort to see it since. And I have to say the prospect of seeing the musical treatment fills me with even less enthusiasm, having now listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
Composed by the seemingly tireless Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, it is a relentlessly chirpy and traditional score that didn’t excite me for one Cossack-kicking moment (and given the number of tracks here, it is a substantial moment). Its Russian influences are worn so heavily they drag down much of the first half, a lack of subtlety that is carried through with real consistency.
The first time you hear the wall of choral voices, it is powerfully done but they are fatally overused in so many songs that the heart sinks when they strike up once again, robbing so many songs of the nuance they could otherwise possess (‘Stay I Pray You’ is the perfect case in point here). And so little sense of real character comes through either Christy Altomare’s title character of Derek Klena as her love interest, simpering being the order of the day.
Rare highlights come with Mary Beth Peil’s aching ‘Close the Door’ and getting to hear Ramin Karimloo (even if he deserves stronger material). But by and large, its hard not to feel that the rest of the Romanovs are the lucky ones here…

Leading Man of the Year 2016

It’s that time of year again when I am publicly shallow in my appreciation of the men that grace our stages and given the hit counts I get on these annual posts, you’re all just as thirsty as me!

The lists from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 are there for your perusal too but let’s get on with 2016’s show!

Elliot Cowan

This list wouldn’t be this list without Elliot Cowan on it, it was almost named after him at one point!. And if there’s something a bit wrong about including so good a play as Les Blancs on as tawdry a post as this, there’s no doubting how his ongoing transition into a silver fox is irresistible.

(c) Faye Thomas

Phil Dunster

Pink Mist was another of those plays where I had to try hard not to be distracted by the handsomeness of its cast, but fortunately a Gay Times photoshoot allowed us all to return, guilt-free, after the fact.

(c) Gay Times

John Light

Apparently on a one-man mission to make Shakespeare sexy, this time saw The Winter’s Tale hotting up, especially good fun as I’d ponied up for seats that were practically on the stage for this one.

Andrew Schneider

Any man that can do a Robyn dance routine (YOUARENOWHERE) is a winner in my book, and when you look like this guy, you can be sure I won’t be dancing on my own.

(c) Maria Baranova

Denholm Spurr

Not necessarily the best photo but a worthy entrant for his commitment to new gay writing as much as his commitment to looking mighty fine in it.

Kit Harington

It’s a bit of a shame that Harington did a whole lot of press about how he didn’t like being objectifed for his body just before Jamie Lloyd went and exploited it shamelessly in Doctor Faustus. Not many other people were complaining though…

(c) Marc Brenner

Ramin Karimloo

I loved the fact that within minutes of Murder Ballad starting, director Sam Yates had Karimloo shirtless, recognising and rewarding its target audience

Ned Derrington (plus bonus Dominic Tighe)

Given that one of Emma Rice’s first innovations at the Globe was to get Derrington’s Lysander in his pants and flirting outrageously with a male Helenus, who knows what other treasures we have now lost with her untimely departure on the schedule later this year.

(c) Getty Images

Ben Batt

There’s probably something in the fact that I think every man I’ve ever seen play Stanley Kowalski has made it on here, so who am I to buck a trend…

(c) Manuel Harlan
(c) Manuel Harlan

Sam Crane

Rumour has it I might have gone to Sunset in the Villa Thalia in the hope of seeing Mr Crane in beachwear. I may not have been disappointed 😉

(c) Manuel Harlan

Mateo Oxley

Nuff said 😉

(c) Ellie Kurtz

Michael Xavier

Production shots for Sunset Boulevard missed out one of the more eye-opening bits of the show with Xavier in his swimming trunks but fortunately, his tracking of his fitness progress on Instagram in advance of the show

O-T Fagbenle

Utterly charming and silkily dangerous, Fagbenle’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was a feast for the eyes as well as the heart and soul.

And a final Brucie bonus, Luca Savazzi from one of the last things I saw in 2016…

(c) Jan Versweyveld

2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations

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 
Kenneth Branagh for The Entertainer
Ralph Fiennes for Richard III

Best Actress in a Play, sponsored by Live at Zédel 
Billie Piper for Yerma 
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 “2017 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Festive news #4 – #StageFaves launches new musical merchandise

Stage Faves, the pioneering social media directory for musical theatre fans, has launched several new ranges of fan merchandise, just in time for Christmas. All designs are available across women’s and men’s t-shirts as well as hoodies, tote bags and mugs. 
Stage Faves is a fresh concept in musical theatre community building, connecting fans, performers and shows with each other and all the 24/7 social media content they want in one place. At its heart is a database of more than 2,000 musical theatre performers – Alfie Boe to Zoe Doano and every letter in between – that pulls together all of their public social media feeds into a single profile page for fans.
In addition, fans can show their support for their favourite performers with a range of merchandise personalised to each and every one. A new design (pictured above), commissioned by Stage Faves and specially created by graphic artist Metin Salih, captures the vibrancy of the West End and British musical theatre today, with nods to the increasing importance of social media as a means for stars and fans to connect. For a limited time only to meet Christmas demand, Stage Faves has also released new “All I Want For Christmas Is…” merchandise for all performers. In the Stage Faves merchandise shop, perennially popular items – including the “Mad about musicals” and “Musicals are my first love” ranges – provide perfect Christmas gifts for any musical theatre lover. All of the above are available in the #StageFaves merchandise shop: 

And if that doesn’t convince you, how about this video from #StageFaves’ vlogger Perry

Festive news #2 – Christmas Concert by Music Theatre Masterclass

Also giving up precious time before Christmas in aid of a good cause, is this motley crew to the left. Rufus Hound will be hosting a concert featuring them at The Actor’s Church in Covent Garden in aid of Children with Cancer UK on Sunday 18th December from 7.30pm. Children with Cancer UK is the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer. Almost 4,000 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK and their aims are to determine the causes, find cures and provide care for children with cancer.


The impressive line-up here features Ramin Karimloo, Cassidy Janson, Ben Forster, Emma Kingston, Peter Polycarpou, Sandra Marvin, Jordan Shaw, Emmanuel Kojo, Carole Stennett, Norman Bowman, and Chris Johnson. And the company will be bolstered by the Musical Theatre Masterclass Choir – a group of talented students from the London performing arts school, run by Michael Xavier (dammit, he really is close to the nicest man alive isn’t he!).

Tickets cost £25 plus booking fee and are available here.
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