Review: She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible

A top cast make She Loves Me a stylishly enjoyable festive treat at the Sheffield Crucible

“Why break someone in
when I’m already broken”

The Crucible may not be the first theatre to turn to She Loves Me for a festive treat – the Menier did the same back in 2016 – but this Sheffield version more than matches that twinkling production with its own brand of Northern charm. Based on Miklós László’s play Parfumerie which has been remade more than once as films like The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got Mail, this musical treatment (book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) finds its own bittersweet flavour.

We’re definitely in rom-com territory here, as warring Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash rub each other up the wrong way, little knowing that they are corresponding anonymously through a lonely hearts column. Will they get to rub each other up the right way? Whaddya think! But there’s a minor-key backdrop too which keeps things from ever getting too sweet, a note of sadness that tempers all the musical theatre frivolity as it presents us with the downs as well as the ups of life. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible”

Review: A Chorus Line, Curve Leicester

Adam Cooper and Carly Mercedes Dyer continue a brilliant year for both of them in this vibrant production of A Chorus Line at Curve Leicester

“Maddening poise, effortless whirl”

There’s something almost wilfully perverse about the Curve mounting A Chorus Line as their festive production. For though it may possess one of the all-time great jazz-hands classics in ‘One’, aka the one song most people will know from it, the show is far from the stereotypical luvvie-fest that the too-prevalent preconceptions about musical theatre insist it must be.

For James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante’s book used real-life testimonies to break down the painful realities of the auditioning process and gives us all the blood, sweat and tears of what it takes to make it. And at this final audition for the chorus of a new Broadway show, 17 hopefuls have been shortlisted for 8 places and they have to lay their souls bare if they’ve any chance of sealing the deal. Continue reading “Review: A Chorus Line, Curve Leicester”

#AdventwithClowns Day 4 – Piaf on demand

Nottingham Playhouse’s Piaf on demand can’t cover up the deficiencies in Pam Gems’ play but it does offer a soaring leading turn from Jenna Russell

“I’m trying to be a f*cking lady”

It was a tricky one, trying to decide whether to trek to Nottingham to their production of Piaf. In all brutal honesty, Pam Gems’ play isn’t by any means a classic but with the part of Édith Piaf, it has created a created a role that offer up spectacular results in the right hands. Elena Roger near blew the roof off the Donmar back in 2008, Frances Ruffelle did well in Leicester in 2013 and I was sure Jenna Russell would do the same. I just didn’t really want to see the play again.

Fortunately, the return of Piaf on demand meant that I got to experience Adam Penford’s production and I’d argue that I probably made the right decision. Jenna Russell is indeed spectacular as la môme piaf and delivers exactly the kind of barnstorming vocal performance that you’d expect from her. But the world around Piaf is far too thinly sketched to make the requisite impact, despite sterling work from Sally Ann Triplett’s Toine and Laura Pitt-Pulford’s Marlene Dietrich. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 4 – Piaf on demand”

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”

Some early October musical news

Put A Pin In It Productions (a new Brighton based production company with a big heart and big ambition) brings a not-to-be-missed show to The Old Market in Hove this autumn. Voices of Today and Tomorrow is a musical show tunes event with a difference – partnering established West End stars with talented newcomers who are already making waves on the fringe of the industry and are sure-fire stars of tomorrow!

Jodie Steele, Luke Bayer, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Joanne Harper and Alexandra Doar plus Brighton-born Alex James Ellison, creator of the hit musical, FIVER, are set to appear live in concert alongside some of the UK’s most promising up-and-coming talent in the musical theatre industry, including Frankie Davison, Eleanor Lakin, Daniel Walford, Katie Ramshaw and Amie Shouler. Continue reading “Some early October musical news”

News: Royal & Derngate announces further productions for its 2021/22 Made in Northampton season

Royal & Derngate has announced four further productions to complete its 2021/22 Made in Northampton season. A new production of Joe Penhall’s biting contemporary satire Blue/Orange is brought to the stage this autumn by the producing team behind Ralph Fiennes’ hugely successful Four Quartets which is soon to transfer to the West End. Giles Terera and Michael Balogun will collaborate with Artistic Director James Dacre with original music by Valgeir Sigurðsson of Bedroom Community. The venue then premieres The Wellspring, an autobiographic work from playwright Barney Norris and his father David Owen Norris, directed by Jude Christian. The venue’s previously announced production of An Improbable Musical will then premiere with a cast including Niall AshdownRuth BrattAdam CourtingJosie Lawrence and Janet Etuk.

This autumn also sees Royal & Derngate’s artist development programme Generate host a festival of new work and present 60 Miles by Road or Rail chronicling the recent history of Northampton Town. Meanwhile, the venue’s charity compilation album Incidental: Music for the Stage, will be released on 24 September on CD and all major streaming platforms. Continue reading “News: Royal & Derngate announces further productions for its 2021/22 Made in Northampton season”

Some September casting news

Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman today announce that their second major stage musical, Rumi: The Musical will get its world premiere as a semi-staged concert at the London Coliseum on November 23rd & 24th 2021.

Rumi, based on a story about the 13th century philosopher and poet Rumi by Evren Sharma, follows Al Fardan and Naaman’s 2018 debut Broken Wings, which premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket before touring the Middle East.

Led by Ramin Karimloo (as Shams Tabrizi) and Nadim Naaman (Rumi), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Kimya), Soophia Foroughi (Kara), the London Coliseum cast will comprise entirely of performers of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian heritage, and will also feature a 25+ piece orchestra, conducted by Joe Davison.

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 14 September via the London Coliseum website Continue reading “Some September casting news”

News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season

A feast of visiting drama, dance, comedy, family shows and music for all tastes and ages is heading to Chichester Festival Theatre for the Winter 2021/22 season.

We’re particularly proud to offer a new home-grown production: the revival of one of the best plays of modern times, John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt: A Parable, directed by Lia Williams and starring Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in their Chichester debuts. Continue reading “News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season”

Early September theatre news

Full casting has been announced for the brand new stage adaptation of British comedy The Good Life which tours the UK this Autumn. The acclaimed cast will include actress and presenter Preeya Kalidas as ‘Margo Leadbetter’, Dominic Rowan as ‘Jerry Leadbetter’, and Sally Tatum as ‘Barbara Good’, joining the previously announced actor and comedian Rufus Hound as ‘Tom Good’. Also featured will be Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchard.

The new comedy by Jeremy Sams, is based on the classic television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey which entertained countless millions in the 1970s and which I have never seen an episode of. Directed by Jeremy Sams, this world premiere production will be the first time that the iconic characters of suburban neighbours the Goods and the Leadbetters will be seen on stage. The Good Life will open at Theatre Royal Bath on 7 October 2021, before dates at Cheltenham Everyman, Salford Lowry, Oxford Playhouse, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre. Continue reading “Early September theatre news”

News: Casting for MUM, The Mirror and the Light and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

© Jeremy Freedman

Francesca Moody Productions, Soho Theatre and Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Popcorn Group have announced that Sophie Melville, Denise Black and Cat Simmons will appear in the world premiere of MUM.  This provocative and unflinching portrayal of early motherhood and mental health, written by Olivier award-winning playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia, The Globe/ West End) and directed by Abigail Graham (soon to also direct Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith) will run at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 30 September – 16 October before transferring to Soho Theatre from 20 October – 20 November.

Motherhood. No one can prepare you for it. No matter how much you tell yourself you can do it – can you?  Where’s the rush of love? When will you sleep again?  What if the thing you fear most is also the thing you crave?  All you wanted was one night of unbroken sleep, what have you done? 

Nina is a new mum and tonight is her first night off. Tonight is about pizza and wine and letting go. But Nina didn’t feel prepared for motherhood and isn’t sure she fits the job description. Nina feels like she’s losing her grip.

This thought-provoking, funny and honest new play shines a light on early motherhood, anxiety and mental health. MUM examines the pressures and complex emotions many women experience when they have a baby. At a time when mothers have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, never has it been more pertinent to explore these issues. Continue reading “News: Casting for MUM, The Mirror and the Light and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice”