News: keep Clowns and carry on

In which I ask WWPD (what would Patti do) and decide to honour my reviewing schedule as best as I can

“A toast to that invincible bunch”

So…what’s a Clown to do in times of Coronavirus, apart from look longingly at this amazing Patti LuPone photoshoot from Town and County Magazine? It’s hard, if not impossible, to know what the right thing to do is at an unprecedented moment like this. When the creative industries that I love and cherish so dearly are under threat of being decimated, when the day job is also wracked by uncertainty, when the act of trying to manage my own anxiety feels hard enough on its own. Heck, even the idea of staying in of an evening feels strange after a decade of intensive theatregoing.

My answer, for now, is to keep busy and to that end, I am going to be honouring my reviewing schedule as it looked for the forthcoming month. Obviously I can’t reviews shows that haven’t happened but I’m going to try to pull together mini-feature pieces for them, to collate any previews and interviews they may have done, to give you the means of staying in touch with the companies and theatres and most significantly, the ways in which any support that you can offer can be given. Obviously, the precariousness of the situation affects so many of us but any assistance that can be offered, in any shape, will surely help in the process of getting through to the other side. Do as Patti says – “everybody rise”.

 

Photos: Douglas Friedman, styled by Ryan Young

News: National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home

National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced The Deep Blue Sea, with Helen McCrory in the lead role as Hester Collyer, will be added to National Theatre at Home for audiences around the world to experience. The recording is dedicated in fond memory of Helen McCrory, who had a long and rich association with the National Theatre and who sadly passed away last month. The Deep Blue Sea was her most recent performance at the National Theatre in 2016. Two on-stage conversations with Helen McCrory have also been made available on National Theatre at Home: one on stage in 2014 with Genista McInosh as Helen discussed preparing to play Medea (also available on National Theatre at Home) and one from 2016 in conversation with Libby Purves about playing Hester in The Deep Blue Sea.

Carrie Cracknell, who directed Helen in Medea and The Deep Blue Sea, said: “Helen was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of her generation. Incandescent, playful, fierce and wildly intelligent. Her craft and precision as an actor was awe-inspiring. On some afternoons, while Helen was rehearsing The Deep Blue Sea at the NT, the sun would pour through the windows, and it would feel for a moment that time had stopped. That the world had stopped revolving, as the entire cast and crew would stand, quietly enraptured by the humanity and aliveness and complexity of Helen’s work. As we moved the production into the auditorium, I would marvel at how she held an audience of 900 people in the palm of her hand. She could change how we felt with the slightest glance, a flick of the wrist, a sultry pause, yet somehow she never lost the central truth of her character. I couldn’t be prouder that we have this beautiful recording of our production to share. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds The Deep Blue Sea and The Comedy of Errors to National Theatre at Home”

News: some good-looking non-London shows to consider

‘My hands are shaking you know. I haven’t been so keyed up about anything since I was the Virgin Mary.’

Sheffield Theatres announces their new production of Talent, written by Victoria Wood, at the Crucible Theatre from Wednesday 30 June to Saturday 24 July 2021. Cast in the play are: Richard Cant (The Country Wife), Daniel Crossley (Me and My Girl), Jamie-Rose Monk (Dick Whittington), Jonathon Ojinnaka, (Coronation Street)James Quinn (Democracy) and  Lucie Shorthouse  (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie).

Directing Talent is Paul Foster (Kiss Me, Kate). Originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, Talent tells the story of a young woman with dreams of showbiz glory. Continue reading “News: some good-looking non-London shows to consider”

News: Young Vic and Old Vic announce new programmes

Theatre returns at both end of The Cut – programmes announced for both the Old Vic and the Young

  • Queers Curated by Mark Gatiss, 2 Jun, 30 Jun
  • Home? Curated by Noma Dumezweni, 14-20 Jun
  • The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter, 7-10 Jul
    Directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Daniel Mays and David Thewlis
  • Bagdad Cafe by Percy and Eleonore Adlon, adapted by Emma Rice, 19 Jul-21 Aug, streamed 25-28 Aug
    Starring Patrycja Kujawska, Le Gateau Chocolat and Sandra Marvin
  • Camp Siegfried by Bess Wohl, 7 Sep-30 Oct
    Directed by Katy Rudd and starring Patsy Ferran and Luke Thallon
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jack Thorne, 13 Nov-8 Jan
    Directed by Matthew Warchus
  • A Number by Caryl Churchill, 24 Jan-19 Mar 
    Directed by Lyndsey Turner  and starring Lennie James and Paapa Essiedu
  • Into the Woods – Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, 16 Apr-9 Jul
    Co-directed Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman

  • Changing Destiny by Ben Okri, 9 Jul-21 Aug
    Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
  • Klippies by Jessica Siân, 4–13 Aug
    Directed by Diyan Zora
  • AI developed by Chinonyerem Odimba and Nina Segal, written alongside GPT-3 OpenAI technology, 23–25 Aug
    Created by Jennifer Tang and Company
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare, 25 Sep-13 Nov
    Directed by Greg Hersov and starring Cush Jumbo
  • Best of Enemies by James Graham, 2 Dec-22 Jan
    Directed by Jeremy Herrin

News: line-up for Monday Night at the Apollo #2 revealed

The star line up has been confirmed for the second concert of the series for Monday Night at the Apollo – which will be performed in front of a socially distanced audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday 14 June, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie, which is dedicated to bringing the best live and recorded theatre to audiences around the world.

Shan Ako (Les Miserable, Xfactor), Arthur Darvill (Once, Doctor Who), Sophie Evans (Wicked, Wizard of Oz), Sandra Marvin (Waitress, Emmerdale) and Oliver Tompsett (&Juliet, Wicked) will join on-stage for an intimate night of music and theatrical chat, featuring ovation worthy performances of songs from their favourite genres. Host Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Swallows and Amazons) invites his audience behind the curtain to catch these castmates as you’ve never seen them before. Sharing their most cherished memories and experiences from their careers, alongside performances of music personal to them, West End royalty celebrate the craft and industry they’ve so dearly missed. Continue reading “News: line-up for Monday Night at the Apollo #2 revealed”

News: 4 West End shows announce their casts

As a comedian, impressionist, game show host, reality TV star, soap, screen and stage actor, Les Dennis returns to the West End in the multi-award-winning smash hit musical Hairspray the Musical as Wilbur Turnblad having previously performed the role on tour. He stars alongside Michael Ball, who returns to his legendary, Olivier Awardwinning role of Edna Turnblad. Lizzie Bea will star in the iconic role of Tracy Turnblad. Acclaimed West End star Marisha Wallace will take the role of Motormouth. Rita Simons (Eastenders’ Roxy Mitchell) and Jonny Amies (Granchester on ITV; Sex Education on Netflix/Eleven Film) will also join the cast as Velma Von Tussle and Link Larkin respectively.

The full company includes Georgia Anderson, Kimani Arthur, Dermot Canavan, Lori Haley Fox, Mari McGinlay, Ashley Samuels, Michael Vinsen and Imogen Bailey, Pearce Barron, Jordan Benjamin, Joel Cooper, Luke George, Christopher Gopaul, Bradley Judge, Winny Herbert, Lily Laight, Madeleine Lawton, Holly Liburd, Will Luckett, Mireia Mambo, Kody Mortimer, Robyn Rose, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Amy West and Natalie Woods. Continue reading “News: 4 West End shows announce their casts”

Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Frances De La Tour, among others, star in the heartbreakingly excellent Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

“So, this is where the magic happens”

At a moment when theatreland is full of news of planned reopenings and hopes for the future, it is good to still be able to look at the cultural contributions that reflect on the recent past. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now does just that by offering up 5 short tales of what life in Nottingham during lockdown has been like, stories that speak to the human impact of a global pandemic.

Writers Olu Alakija, Nathan Ellis, Amy Guyler and Emteaz Hussain take us through the full gamut of experiences – from volunteering at food banks to life as a delivery driver, students dealing with disrupted schooling and the strange ballet of getting a COVID safe Uber. And not only that, there’s a special short but spiky sketch from Alan Bennett performed by the luminous Frances De La Tour. Continue reading “Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now”

Review: Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe

Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe rips the piss out of Eurovision with great affection and some seriously good tunes

“Clap and cheer like crazy people”

Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe rises like a phoenix once again, now being hosted by Liechtenstein as Craig Christie’s musical enters the streaming market with a filmed performance from the Clapham Grand. Directed with a knowing wryness by Max Bex Roberts, the shows brings together 9 European nations and the UK to work through any number of Eurovision stereotypes in highly amusing style.

The show actually does a great job of ripping the piss out of so many of the Eurovision staples around the songs as well. The show-stealingly good hosting (David O’Reilly’s Orla Aboard nailing it as Marlene Cabana), dry Eurocrats reading out the rules (Andy Coxon being adorkable), the local colour (Sooz Kempner and Scott Paige in brilliant form), the little clips before each song. And a final number by Marlene hits a surprisingly authentic emotional note which lifts the spirits just before the voting begins.

But enough, here’s the brief notes from my scorecard, from douze points to nul! Continue reading “Review: Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe”

Review: A Killer Party

An online bite-sized musical murder mystery? A Killer Party boasts a strong cast if not quite the killer instinct

Did you always want to work as a traffic warden?’
Did you always want to work in an unviable industry?'”

A Killer Party is a curious thing. A murder mystery musical broken up into 9 episodes which can be watched at your own pace, it wears its lockdown origins a little too closely given how far the quality of digital theatre offerings have come over the last few months.

Written by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan (book), Jason Howland (music), and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and adapted for British audiences following its US-centric debut last years, we follow the case of Varthur McArthur, the artistic director of Blackpool’s
smallest regional theatre who is offed during a read-through for his latest production. Who’s your suspect? Take your pick from any of the theatrical stereotypes on offer. Continue reading “Review: A Killer Party”

Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #7

Writers between the ages of 14 and 21 get their turn to take over the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper for its seventh and final edition

“Did you see what I done?”

The seventh (and final) part of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper is actually something of a Brucie bonus, an additional edition

Naomi Lundie-Smith’s existential tube journey in summer friends? sees Jemima Mayala reflect poetically on the passing joys of that particular season. Ruby Stokes’ Paths; Unparalleled speaks of hard-won truths – appropriate to any age – about online dating, delivered with wryly resigned recognition by Frances Mayli McCann.

I also really enjoyed the intertwining narratives of Blessing Adetunji’s Beyond Touch (of a) Screen, enhanced by evocative movement work from Kemi Awoderu andTyrone Huntley. And one of the more reliably entertaining elements of the newspaper format doesn’t disappoint here, with the musical front page Lockdown FM striking in its punchy immediacy.

Photos: Isha Shah
Living Newspaper #7 is streaming via the Royal Court until 9th May

News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns

Following acclaim for their spectacular musical-packed digital series, Adam Blanshay Productions’ The Theatre Channel is back with a sixth episode, featuring more theatrical legends and musical magic! The new episode, entitled ‘Showstoppers’, will kickstart proceedings with incredible performances from major West End talent including Danny Mac (Sunset Boulevard; Pretty Woman The Musical), Kerry Ellis (Wicked; We Will Rock You) and Layton Williams (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; RENT). The series will be available to stream in a new partnership with Stream.Theatre from Friday 30th April, with tickets for Episode 6 now on sale.

Further talent involved includes dynamic sister duo Amber Davies (9 to 5; Love Island) and Jade Davies (Les Misérables; The Phantom of the Opera) as Side Show’s conjoined twins, alongside
Katie Deacon (Mary Poppins; An American In Paris) showcasing the original A Chorus Line choreography by Michael Bennett. The track for this stunning rendition of ‘Music and the Mirror’ has been provided by Antonio Banderas’ Malaga-based Theatre company Teatro del Soho, following their acclaimed Spanish-language revival. Academy Award and Tony nominee Antonio Banderas will also be sharing his knowledge of the production in an extra special exclusive interview for The Theatre Channel, featured in the episode. Continue reading “News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns”