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”

Review: The Rhythmics, Southwark Playhouse

New musical The Rhythmics captures much of the bittersweet and heart-warming nature of a good Brit flick at Southwark Playhouse

Note: I saw The Rhythmics on Saturday 11th December, just before the rescheduled press night and then the devastating news that the production was being forced to close due to Covid-19 related absences and the impossibility of productions of this size being able to retain understudies. Heartbreaking in the extreme, not least because the show was a joyous shot in the arm, right next to my booster (get vaccinated, everyone, please). I truly hope the show gets to return as it’s too good not to be shared. I wrote this review before the cancellation and haven’t edited it – I hope it brings a little joy.

“Sod off and let me play with me ribbons”

Who doesn’t love a montage? All the best films have them because all the best films are based on building up the big performance (whether it is Sister Act, Bring It On or Pitch Perfect). New musical The Rhythmics sticks well to this model but cleaves a little closer to home, a la The Full Monty, Brassed Off or even Calendar Girls, implementing a distinctly British tone to its quietly touching story of ribbons, red lycra and redemption.

With a teenage daughter he’s barely got room for in his tiny flat in Chorlton and a real difficulty in holding down a job, single dad Grey would rather dream of being in a band than taking life seriously. But when circumstance conspires to get him in the same room as auditions for an all-male rhythmic gymnastics troupe, he’s set on an unlikely path towards possible World Championship glory and definite self-discovery and some rather snug red lycra pants. Continue reading “Review: The Rhythmics, Southwark Playhouse”

Musicals update November 2021

News about Love Story’s 10th anniversary concert, Bonnie and Clyde in concert, Gatsby the Musical and the return of Sasha Regan’s HMS Pinafore

Erich Segal’s iconic novel Love Story became a much-loved film and, in 2010, a hit West End musical. Now stars reunite, along with the creative team behind the acclaimed Cadogan Hall concert of Howard Goodall’s The Hired Man. Alongside the original West End leads Emma Williams and Michael D Xavier is Michael Matus (Phantom of the Opera, La Cage Aux Folles) who plays the role of Phil. Joining them are Rebecca Caine (Les Misérables, The Sound of Music, Preludes), Simon Green (Titanic, Mrs Henderson Presents) and Jenna Boyd (Come From Away).

The company is completed by Simbi Akande (The Prince of Egypt), Jordan Cunningham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Alison Driver (What’s New Pussycat?), Charlie-Jade Jones (West Side Story), Maximillian Murphy (Parade), and Nikhil Singh Rai (Les Misérables, Mountview). Love Story is simple and poetic. Wealthy Harvard student Oliver falls for artistic Radcliffe student Jenny and they marry against his family’s wishes – a choice that leads to disinheritance. Goodall’s soaring melodies and the late Stephen Clark’s words are sure to tug on the heartstrings in a night not to be missed. Continue reading “Musicals update November 2021”

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
months.

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”