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”

Review: Staircase, Southwark Playhouse

Returning to the not-so-distant past when same-sex relationships were illegal, this is a thought-provoking revival of Charles Dyer’s Staircase at Southwark Playhouse

“When have you bolstered me?”

There’s a deep sadness at the heart of Charles Dyer’s 1966 play Staircase, both onstage and off. Today we might define it as internalised homophobia but at a time when homosexuality was still very much illegal in the UK, such a diagnosis must have seemed unnecessary. As it was, to get the play staged by the RSC, it had to submit to heavy censoring and though it was later made into a film starring Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, it was recalibrated into a camp comedy that twisted it even further away from authorial intent.  

The play takes place over a long night of the soul for hairdressers Charlie and Harry in the Brixton barbershop Chez Harry (beautifully realised by set designer Alex Marker). They’ve have been together for 20 years but with Harry struggling to cope with his receding hairline and Charlie revealing an impending court case after being arrested in a pub for sitting on a man’s knee in drag, tensions are rising, putting their already spiky relationship under further strain. Continue reading “Review: Staircase, Southwark Playhouse”

News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage

The Mono Box is delighted to announce RESET THE STAGEa collection of 7 filmed monologues written by 7 emerging, ethnically diverse writers performed by established actors on the empty stages of 7 London theatres in lockdown will stream live online on Thursday 17th June at 7.30pm.

This series of short films featuring actors Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Star Wars: Rogue One, Sex Education), Ken Nwosu (Killing Eve, Sticks & Stones) and Danny Kirrane (Don’t Forget the Driver, Peterloo) The evening will be introduced by Patrons of The Mono Box, Sir Derek Jacobi, Youssef Kerkour, Susan Wokoma and James Norton. All ticket sales will raise money for the continual work of the company nurturing and providing opportunities to emerging theatre talent.  Continue reading “News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage”

Musical news aplenty

Following its opening at the Watermill Theatre, a critically acclaimed sell-out tour in 2019, a highly successful Christmas season at The Other Palace in 2019, a Grammy nomination and 3 Olivier Award nominations, Amélie The Musical arrives in the heart of the West End this summer. Following the government roadmap announcement, tickets are on sale now for a socially distanced audience at the Criterion Theatre from Thursday 20 May. Olivier-nominee Audrey Brisson (The Elephantom, Pinocchio and Pericles (National Theatre), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Kneehigh), and The Grinning Man
(Bristol Old Vic)), will return to the role of ‘Amélie’.

The five–time Oscar®-nominated film will be brought to life once again by a cast of actor-musicians and set to a critically acclaimed re-orchestrated score. With music by Hem’s Daniel Messé, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messé and book by Craig Lucas, Amélie The Musical is directed by Michael Fentiman. The full cast includes Sioned Saunders as Gina, Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Georgette, Rachel Dawson as Amandine/Philomene, Oliver Grant as Lucien/Mysterious Man, Chris Jared as Nino Quincampoix, Caolan McCarthy as Hippolito/Elton John, Samuel Morgan-Grahame as Joseph/Fluffy, Kate Robson-Stuart as Suzanne, Jack Quarton as Blind Beggar, Jez Unwin as Raphael/Bretodeau and Johnson Willis as Collignon/Dufayel. Nuwan Hugh Perera, Miiya Alexandra, Robyn Sinclair and Matthew James Hinchliffe complete the ensemble. Continue reading “Musical news aplenty”

2021 Offie & ONCOMM Award Winners

In this ‘special circumstances’ year, the Offies 2021 Awards Ceremony celebrated the creativity and resilience of artists in fringe, alternative and independent theatre in a time of crisis who have found new ways to produce fresh and inventive work for thousands of stay-at-home audiences.

The Offies are OffWestEnd’s main awards, for shows with at least 10 performances, and awards were given to the best of the shows presented before lockdown and the few who managed to go ahead in the summer

The OnComm is the new award for online shows from across the UK (and beyond) and was introduced in May 2020. Additionally, the winner of the OffFest award for theatre shows in festivals was also announced, alongside extra OneOff awards for innovative work and initiatives in 2020, especially in the light of the Covid lockdown. Continue reading “2021 Offie & ONCOMM Award Winners”

The finalists of The Offies 2021

The finalists for the 2021 Offies (for productions in 2020) have been announced and congratulations to the 47 finalists across 16 of the 28 Offies categories. The winners will be announced at the Offies Awards Ceremony, being held online on 21 February 2021.

The following categories are not going forward for 2021 awards as there were insufficient nominations due to theatre closures arising from Covid-19 lockdowns:

  • Design: Costume
  • Design: Video
  • Choreography
  • Company Ensemble
  • Musicals: New Musical
  • Opera
  • Panto
  • Plays: Most Promising New Playwright
  • Plays: Production
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (0-7)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (13+)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (8+)

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2021”

Review: Stay Awake, Jake

One-man-musicals don’t get much better than Stay Awake, Jake

“As the sun comes up, I should be there”

There’s something a little perversely amusing about the fact that mere hours after I caught the matinee of Stay Awake, Jake, mounted digitally here at Southwark Playhouse, I was myself hurtling north out of London on the same motorway. In my case, I was outrunning the imposition of Tier 4 measures to get my family Christmas; for Jake, it’s something else altogether.

Tim Gilvin’s one-act, one-performer show is simplicity itself. 70 minutes of sung-through musical theatre, stuck in a car as Jake races from London to Carlisle. His journey is triggered by a phone call with his girlfriend but in order to save his relationship, Jake needs to do some self-reflecting and where better than a long stretch of the M6?  Continue reading “Review: Stay Awake, Jake”

Review: The Fabulist Fox Sister

New musical theatre gets haunted by the intriguing charms and waspish humour of The Fabulist Fox Sister

“Tonight is going to be different”

There’s something just a little bit perverse about the scheduling of new musical The Fabulist Fox Sister, seeing its third and final performance up against Strictly Come Dancing’s much-heralded Musicals Week. Of course, any spotlight on the world of musical theatre is to be welcomed in these trying times and it was nice to see the likes of fresher shows Waitress and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie alongside the all-too-predictable Phantom. But the continued focus on big West End shows does make it trickier for small shows to break through, to reach those audiences who’ve been conditioned to expect crashing chandeliers at every turn.

With music by Luke Bateman and book and lyrics by Michael Conley The Fabulist Fox Sister ably demonstrates that a reduction in scale doesn’t necessarily equate a loss in impact. Indeed, the particular intimacy gained in a live-streamed environment like that far outweighs the experience of straining to see from the balcony of any number of West End venues. Taking the true story of Kate Fox – who with her sisters pioneered the movement of spiritualism – as a starting point and fashioning from it an entertaining monologue with songs, this is a thrilling taste of what musicals can also be. Continue reading “Review: The Fabulist Fox Sister”

Review: The Poltergeist

Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is a vivid monologue, performed well by Joseph Potter

“I’ve woken up with a headache”

From the tiny flat above a dry-cleaners in Ilford which he shares with his boyfriend Chet, Sasha seethes. Once fêted by the art world as a teenage prodigy, he crashed and burned spectacularly and has never really recovered. An invitation to his niece’s birthday party seems like a good opportunity to get out but between his pill-popping, catastrophising and near-boiling resentment towards his family, it is clear we’re in for a bumpy ride. 

The Poltergeist sees Philip Ridley maintain his long-standing relationship with the Southwark Playhouse with a customarily intense monologue which proves a gift of a role for Joseph Potter. Sasha is a young man very much in his head, so as Potter rattles wonderfully through all the various roles, there’s the sense that we’re seeing exaggerated versions of these characters as Sasha bristles against the indignity of having to make small talk when he could be exercising his vengeful streak. Continue reading “Review: The Poltergeist”

News: new musicals for Christmas and New Year

It’s a theatre that reliably creates memorable Christmas productions so it is good to hear that Forever Plaid will return to Upstairs at the Gatehouse from 16th December. The cast features Cameron Burt, George Crawford, Christopher Short and Alexander Zane, with Ian Oakley (musical director) and Jess Martin.

The show was written and originally directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross and has musical continuity, supervision and arrangements by James Raitt. This production is directed by John Plews and choreographed by Racky Plews. Continue reading “News: new musicals for Christmas and New Year”