News: Keala Settle to make West End debut in & Juliet

Keala Settle – internationally renowned for her starring role in the global smash hit movie The Greatest Showman – is to make her West End debut in the award-winning & Juliet.

Keala – who shot to worldwide fame performing the iconic song “This Is Me” in the movie alongside Hugh Jackman, and is a Tony Award nominated star on Broadway – will play the role of Nurse in the joyous musical which won 3 Olivier Awards and 6 Whatsonstage Awards. Continue reading “News: Keala Settle to make West End debut in & Juliet”

The finalists of The Offies 2022

The Offies recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and ingenuity of independent, fringe and alternative theatres across London, helping to raise their profiles and rewarding the new talent that they nurture, which is essential for the future of the theatre industry.  

Though theatre has been slowly recovering from the Covid pandemic in 2021, there have been enough high-quality Offies nominations post lockdown, to enable the judging panel to select 86 finalists across nearly 30 Offies categories.  The winners will be announced at the Offies awards ceremony, to be held online this year on 20 February 2022. Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2022”

10 top theatrical moments of 2021

As distinct from my favourite shows of the year, this list celebrates the fact that sometimes the good and the not-so-good co-exist right next to each – some of my favourite moments.

For reference, here’s my 2020 list, 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Helen McCrory, in memoriam
I still don’t really have the words to talk about how sad the passing of Helen McCrory is, such a favourite actor of mine for so long. But what was joyful was hearing the absolute esteem in which seemingly every one of her colleagues held her, a testament to the person as well as the performer.

Being scared, by women
After having declared that scary theatre just didn’t work for me, the Terrifying Women made me eat my words in quite some style with their Halloween special. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2021”

My 10 favourite shows of 2021

Just a little bit late… Here’s 10 of my favourite shows, both online and onstage but fully acknowledging that I saw a lot less than usual, I might actually have broken the back of this theatre obsession – it just took a global pandemic to do it…!

1. Anything Goes, Barbican
A joyous shot in the arm that felt like the perfect welcome back into the theatre this summer. Naturally, it is coming back next year to the Barbican and a UK tour but will it be led by the irrepressible Sutton Foster? You have to hope so as she was the epitome of Broadway class.

2. The Normal Heart, National Theatre
Almost unbearably moving, Larry Kramer’s 1985 loosely autobiographical play got a masterful revival from Dominic Cooke, making the most of the Olivier being in the round and blessed with a cast full of commitment and compassion.

3. Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
Perhaps predictable for those that know me, but the four-way revival featuring Omari Douglas & Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin & Chris O’Dowd and Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi & Zoë Wanamaker turned out to be a great way to revisit this play.

4. Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
At least there’s a sense that they’re earning a bit of their hugely inflated ticket prices, as Rebecca Frecknall and Tom Scutt’s reinvention of the theatre is matched with a fearless reinterpretation of the classic musical which proves hauntingly effective.

5. What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant
One of the more unexpected theatrical experiences of the year. I had no idea of what to expect and no real idea of why it moved me quite as much as it did. 

6. DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco, Golden Goose Theatre
Gently immersive and quietly heartbreaking, this playful and powerful monologue really took me by surprise, totally captivating as Jack Sunderland’s emotionally broken Baz tries to chase the demons of both the past and present.

7. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now
5 short stories of lockdown life in Nottingham turned out to be hugely affecting, featuring a wide range of the intimately human stories that make up a global pandemic and star performances from the likes of Frances De La Tour and Julie Hesmondhalgh.

8. Mum, Soho Theatre
Led by a scorching performance from Sophie Melville, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play took a sledgehammer to Insta-perfect narratives of new motherhood to offer up something of a nightmare of early parenthood. Absolutely exhilarating.

9. Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre
With a loose focus on older LGBT+ narratives, this double bill of new gay plays was quietly impressive and in the case of Michael McManus’ A Certain Term made me sob like a baby

10. Romeo and Juliet
The National led from the front in lockdown, able to parlay its resources into transforming its intended stage production of this teen tragedy into a deluxe filmed version with a delicious cast led by Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor.

The 2021 fosterIAN award winners

Best Actress in a Play
Sophie Melville, Mum

Best Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes

Best Actor in a Play
Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations

Best Actor in a Musical
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Ayesha Dharker, The Book of Dust

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything Goes

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Dino Fetscher, The Normal Heart

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Ainsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus Line

And my top 10 plays of the year:
1. Anything Goes, Barbican
2. The Normal Heart, National Theatre
3. Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
4. Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
5. What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant
6. DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco, Golden Goose Theatre
7. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now
8. Mum, Soho Theatre
9. Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre
10. Romeo and Juliet

2021 Best Actress in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actress in a Play

Sophie Melville, Mum 
There’s something about being completely wrong-footed by a production that is truly exciting. Though Mum had put its cards on the table, the sheer intensity of Melville’s utterly committed performance as a new mother completely swept me up as we raced headlong to that rug-pull. A performance (and a show) worthy of more attention.

Honourable mention: Cush Jumbo, Hamlet 
If another Hamlet wasn’t necessarily what I was most excited for, the return of Jumbo to the UK stage was worth the wait, calling back to her days at the Royal Exchange as well as showing us all how intelligent an actor she is becoming.

Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Lava
Jessie Buckley, Romeo and Juliet
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Still Life
Lesley Sharp, Paradise

Best Actress in a Musical

Sutton Foster, Anything Goes 
And to think we were meant to have Megan Mullally…  No disrespect at all to Karen Walker but the breathless 10 minute song and dance routine that closes the first act is just spectacular and matched with the way Foster commands the stage, as a true Broadway diva, this was one of the highlights of the year.

Honourable mention: Linzi Hateley, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The song might say that any dream will do but for me, the return of ‘the’ narrator after 30 years was the tops. A real full circle moment and a truly special, unmatchable afternoon in the theatre.

Samantha Barks/Stephanie McKeon, Frozen
Jessie Buckley, Cabaret
Carly Mercedes Dyer, A Chorus Line
Alex Young, She Loves Me

2021 Best Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations
There were occasional moments when the multiple casts of Constellations felt like it might just be an experiment but in the Douglas/Tovey iteration, something magical happened as their chemistry electrified this most familiar of plays, making it sexier, funnier and more heartwrenching than ever before.

Honourable mention: Ben Daniels, The Normal Heart 
A titanic piece of acting in a blisteringly good production, all the more powerful for being on one of our largest stages. And despite the weightiness of the material and the size of that stage, Daniels filled it with the deepest of compassion. 

Charles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O’Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco

Best Actor in a Musical

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret 
Jessie Buckley rightly got a lot of the attention upon the owning of the Kit Kat Club but I don’t think Redmayne’s reworking of the Emcee is anything to be sniffed at either. A creepily expressive and starkly defined journey towards darkness, such is his charisma that we’re practically skipping along with him.

Honourable mention: Noel Sullivan, The Rhythmics 
Far too few people will have gotten to see Sullivan lead this charming new musical but one has to hope he’ll be at the lycra-clad helm once again when it resurfaces.

Declan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin’ in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxton, She Loves Me

2021 Best Supporting Actress in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Ayesha Dharker, The Book of Dust 
Ruth Wilson’s televisual take on Mrs Coulter is one of my favourite things in life so for Dharker to find an interpretation that complemented yet contrasted so effectively is quite something. Stunning costume work certainly helped but she located the perfect combination of compelling and chilling for me.  

Honourable mention: Norah Lopez Holden, Hamlet 
A fascinatingly different take on Ophelia that really worked by finding an affecting emotional truth to the character that I’ve rarely seen done before.

Liz Carr, The Normal Heart
Deborah Findlay, Romeo and Juliet
Anastasia Hille, Paradise
Gloria Obianyo, Paradise

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything Goes 
Against the star wattage of Sutton Foster, Dyer more than held her own as gangster’s moll Erma, full of vocal confidence and scene-stealing comic timing. And she impressed mightily in A Chorus Line too, a standout year for this most exciting of performers. 

Honourable mention: Victoria Hamilton-Barritt & Rebecca Trehearn, Cinderella  
As I said at the time, we’d all be winners if the musical was called The Stepmother and the Queen. Two larger-than-life scene-chewing turns that give the show so much of its life.

Emily Barnett-Salter, A Chorus Line
Kaisa Hammarlund, She Loves Me
Joanna Riding, Carousel

2021 Best Supporting Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Dino Fetscher, The Normal Heart 
A play that was almost too much to bear, a legacy so vital to remember, a removal of a sock seared into my brain. Fetscher’s Felix flirted wonderfully, felt deeply and fought magnificently in a production and performance that I won’t forget anytime soon.

Honourable mention: Pip Carter, The Book of Dust
Rewarding such malevolence onstage almost feels wrong but Carter winds his way around Bonneville’s appalling behaviour with a dangerous almost seductive charisma.

Syrus Lowe, Best of Enemies
Daniel Monks, The Normal Heart
Lucian Msamati, Romeo and Juliet

Luke Norris, The Normal Heart

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Ainsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus Line 
In a show all about the ensemble, it almost feels churlish to pick out individuals but the heartfelt beauty of Paul’s monologue is measured out so powerfully here. It helps that Ricketts is such a sensational dancer too. 

Honourable mention: Robert Lindsay, Anything Goes 
Predictably, Robert Lindsay does what Robert Lindsay always does but as Anything Goes’ Moonface, there’s a perfect marriage of character and persona that teeters just on the right edge of cheesiness.  

Stewart Clarke, Be More Chill
Andy Coxon, She Loves Me
Elliot Levey, Cabaret
Obioma Ugoala, Frozen

News: more names added to Gypsy and Camelot concerts

Paul Foster’s concert presentation of Gypsy at Alexandra Palace has added yet more to its already exciting castlist. Ebony Molina, Rachel Stanley and Alexis Owen-Hobbs will star as the titanic trio of Electra, Mazzepa and Tessie Tura respectively. They’ll be joining the seven-fold Rose of Tracie Bennett, Nicola Hughes, Melanie La Barrie, Rebecca Lock, Keala Settle, Samantha Spiro and Sally Ann Triplett and Laura Pitt-Pulford as Louise, Carly Mercedes Dyer as June and Christopher Howell as Herbie.

Directed by Paul Foster with choreography by Joanna Goodwin and sound design by Paul Smith, the show will feature a 26-piece orchestra playing the show’s original orchestrations, conducted by Alex Parker. Book your tickets for 21st February 2022 here.


West End stars Julie Atherton and Ivano Turco are the latest names added to the bill for the exclusive one night only production of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot in Concert at the London Palladium.

Julie Atherton (Avenue Q, Mamma Mia!, Sister Act, tick, tick… BOOM!) will play Morgan Le Fey, while Ivano Turco (Prince Charming in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella) takes the role of Mordred alongside the previously announced all-star cast of Ramin Karimloo, Bradley Jaden and Lucy St. Louis, as the legendary love triangle of King Arthur, Guenevere and Sir Lancelot, in the concert production on Sunday February 6.

With just one month to go, it is also announced that joining the cast are Newtion Matthews (BKLYN) as Merlyn, and Georgi Mottram, (ITV’s Walk The Line with classical crossover group Ida Girls), as Nimue. The production will be supported with the 35-strong Trinity Laban Musical Theatre Ensemble.

Final tickets are available now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com