Some alternatives for festive shows in London, if panto ain’t your thing

Not up for seeing panto but still fancy getting out of the house before Omicron burns it all down? Here’s some alternatives to pantomimes over the coming month, plus a mention for some seriously good deals on West End shows over at Seatplan


Les Misérables and The Phantom Of The Opera star John Owen-Jones will be joining fellow Welsh West End singing sensation Lucie Jones to celebrate the festive season in style at her exclusive December concerts. John – who has starred to great acclaim as both Jean Valjean and The Phantom – will appear at the Lucie Jones at Christmas concerts at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, and at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

The intimate and exclusive shows will feature Lucie, who has just finished playing Jenna Hunterson on the UK tour of Waitress and will soon take on the iconic role of Elphaba, and John performing all their favourite Christmas songs and showtunes, accompanied by Lucie’s live band. The dates are Monday December 13 at St David’s Hall, Cardiff and Tuesday, December 14 at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com Continue reading “Some alternatives for festive shows in London, if panto ain’t your thing”

Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Garrick Theatre

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical kick off their new West End residency at the Garrick Theatre in their own inimitable style

“You need a show in 75 minutes…?!”

Sitting down to watch Showstopper! The Improvised Musical start their latest West End residency at the Garrick Theatre, I couldn’t help but think back to the days when they used to play the King’s Head Theatre regularly (sadly more than 10 years ago now and most of my visits sadly unrecorded but here’s one of them at least). Their expert comic stylings definitely benefit from the bigger stages available to them now but there was also a greater likelihood that one of your suggestions might actually get used!

For the uninitiated, the show works on the conceit that a brand new musical needs to be written right then and there and the host for the evening, Dylan Emery for this show, collects ideas about musical styles, plot twists and titles from the audience via texts and tweets. The company then improvise an original show from the hodge-podge of suggestions, with Emery intervening at crucial moments to make things as entertainingly difficult as possible. Continue reading “Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Garrick Theatre”

Review: The Comeback, Noël Coward Theatre

The Comeback proves to be a piece of warmly inclusive comedy at the Noël Coward Theatre, perfect festive fare

“Who wants to see the Alex and Ben show?”

For someone who first became aware of comedy duo The Pin due to their impeccable Twitter content during the first lockdown, the idea of them doing a full length play seemed rather improbable given the strength of those sketches was their 70 second running time. But Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen’s credits stretch much further (you can tell I don’t listen to Radio 4…) and The Comeback actually began life at the 2018 Fringe before being pimped for this West End run at the Noël Coward Theatre.

And over and above the pleasure of being able to go to the theatre again, something sadly not true for everyone in the country and possibly not even for London for much longer, The Comeback offers the kind of warmly generous comedic thrill that feels perfect for the season. I found it to be ‘Christmas Day on the sofa’ -funny throughout, with some moments that are frankly hilarious and others that didn’t quite tickle my funnybone as much, though the beauty of comedy is that we all have different senses of humour and so you’ll just have to come and decide whether it is funny for yourselves. Continue reading “Review: The Comeback, Noël Coward Theatre”

News: West End Wonderland announced

Join stars of the West End stage for festive fun galore at West End Wonderland, a week of unique performances with plenty of stardust. All right in the heart of theatreland at the Welsh Chapel, Charing Cross Road.

Cabaret Whores, Sarah-Louise Young’s brilliant musical character comedy is packed with hilarious original songs, bitingly funny stories and lightning quick changes. Named as one of Time Out’s Top Ten Cabaret Acts of the Year, Sarah-Louise has appeared in the West End with Fascinating Aida, Julie Madly Deeply, La Soirée and Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.
 
Yes Queens is the West End’s first female-led improvised comedy night, featuring top UK improv talent from Olivier Award-winning productions such as Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Austentatious and Mischief Theatre. Interactive Theatre at its best. Continue reading “News: West End Wonderland announced”

Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre

The ever-hilarious Austentatious return to the West End with a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre

“Forgive me, I did not know a mouth baby should be addressed so”

It’s been a moment since I’ve seen Austentatious. Their rise has been sure and steady over the last few years, graduating from monthly residencies at the Leicester Square Theatre to the Savoy Theatre and then on to a weekly booking at the Fortune Theatre, whilst also finding time for highly successful national tours and seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe. And that’s also not to mention that this is a side hustle for this company of very-much-in-demand comedians.

I’ve seen them just a few times over the years but weekly visits at West End prices are beyond even my devotion (that said, there is a loyalty card scheme…). But I couldn’t resist a visit to welcome them back to the bijou surroundings of the Fortune where we were treated to the surreal delights of Northanger Crabby. For the uninitiated, Austentatious is a show entirely improvised in Jane Austen-style and costume from a title suggested by the audience. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre”

Review: SORRY, VAULT Festival

Improv group SORRY team up with Andrew Hunter Murray for a fricking hilarious night at the VAULT Festival

“There isn’t any wrong or right, just blow or strum”

The angels smiled on me when improv supremos SORRY announced another gig to follow their previous sold-out shows at the VAULTs this year. And not only that, their special guest for this one was none other than Andrew Hunter Murray, he of Austentatious and recent Sunday Times-best selling list fame.

I possibly didn’t laugh as hard anywhere else than at their show here last year and this time round was no disappointment either. Their format works extremely well – 15 minutes chat with their guest at the top of the show and then the rest of the time spent riffing on the subjects raised, in some brilliantly off-the-cuff and off-the-wall improv from Liz Kingsman, Alison Thea-Skot, Naomi Petersen, Sophia Broido and Lola-Rose Maxwell. Continue reading “Review: SORRY, VAULT Festival”

Review: IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert, VAULT Festival

IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert tickles my improv cravings in quite some style at the VAULT Festival

“I’m used to playing stadiums”

It’s no secret I love a bit of improv so an advisory warning of “strong chance of audience interaction, costume changes, excessive glitter and oversharing” is like manna from heaven. IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert promises all of this and delivers more in a highly amusing hour of made-up pop songs, crowd-surfing antics and audience banter which is deceptively slight, smuggling in some on-the-point truths about some weighty themes.

The show sets itself up as a rare chance to see an intimate concert of the megastar IMOGENÉ (once she’s got off the helicopter from Tokyo natch) and since she’s about to head into the studio with Mark Ronson, we gotta help her write some new songs. So dial down your inhibitions and toss your suggestions into the hat as there’s nothing quite like having a spangly leotard serenade you and lead you into some kind of new enlightened state of being. Continue reading “Review: IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert, VAULT Festival”

Review: The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, VAULT Festival

I go and see The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen at the VAULT Festival and end up playing a tree with killer leaves

“What noise does purple make?”

Many things happened at The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but I’m sure you’ll agree that me making my VAULT Festival stage debut is one of the most noteworthy 😉 It just goes to show that even though that this is a family-friendly improv show with its eye on the kids in the audience, the adults alongside them have no chance of escaping being a significant part of the fun as well.

Like so many improvised shows, there’s a simple set-up. Three storytellers taking it in turns to come up with an adventure story based on an idea drawn from a hat and followed up by a series of audience suggestions which, given the imaginative freedom of the young, are as outlandish and random as they are really quite amusing, once woven into the tales by these talented comedians (Lord Lovell, Admiral Seward and Lady Brooke I think it was at this show). Continue reading “Review: The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, VAULT Festival”

Review: Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T, VAULT Festival

Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T makes for a fun hour of queer Aussie humour at the VAULT Festival

“Did you know one in five artists are an absolute dickhead”

It’s a shame Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T only ran for one weekend at the VAULT Festival as his brand of irrepressibly warm cabaret has a real uplifting charm about it. It’s a relatively simple format – would-be musical theatre legend Harry Ledgerman is launching his new celebrity memoir with his talent agency manager wife Kristal Lee by his side and any number of friends who’ve come along to also share their secrets to becoming successful.

Naturally though, success is relative and Moss’ collection of misfits  – for he plays them all – are all wonderfully deluded in their own special way. Thus the scene is set for a rapidfire kick ball change through many aspects of showbusiness, accompanied by some nifty moves (check that Chorus Line choreography) and some uncanny vocal performances as Adele, Ricky Martin and Britney sit alongside Elphaba, Piaf and Dame Judi herself. Continue reading “Review: Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T, VAULT Festival”

10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2019

Flashes of excellence can be found in the midst of any production so this list celebrates some of those breath-taking and/or memorable moments that really made theatregoing enjoyably fun this year

For reference, here’s my 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Crying with laughter at the VAULT

I don’t think I have laughed so much and so helplessly for a long time as I did with improv group Sorry.

Jessica Hung Han Yun’s extraordinary lighting in Equus

Ned Bennett’s production of Equus had so much to commend but it was Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting work that really stood out for me Continue reading “10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2019”