10 questions for 10 years – Matthew Parker

As the Hope Theatre’s outgoing AD prepares for his final season and new adventures, Matthew Parker takes a little time to answer Ten Questions for Ten Years

It is no mean feat to transform a fringe theatre into a must-see venue but that’s what Mr Parker has done so successfully over the last few years at the Hope. Both as a director (Her Aching Heart and Steel Magnolias being particular highlights) and as an artistic director (his programming really has been reliably delightful), he has flourished and consequently, I’ve kept on going back even on Arsenal matchdays…  
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Review: The Rink, Southwark Playhouse

Get your roller-skates on and over to the Southwark Playhouse for a croking revival of Kander & Ebb’s The Rink with a stonkingly good Caroline O’Connor

“Noisy boys, long and lean.
Giggles of girls in the mezzanine”

All sorts of thoughts pass through your mind as you watch The Rink, at least they do if you’re me. Wouldn’t Gemma Sutton be perfect casting in the lead of the inevitable Lindsay Lohan: The Musical; does Jason Winter have the longest legs in musical theatre; does Caroline O’Connor have any trace of a Lancashire accent at all; didn’t Kander and Ebb write fricking fantastic songs for women; and does an ability to roller-skate in a musical make you a quadruple threat?

That’s not to say I was distracted whilst sweltering in the Southwark Playhouse during this preview on Saturday, but rather that my mind was entirely stimulated (not least when Winter does some kind of windmill move on the floor…?). The Rink is one of those musicals that history hasn’t treated too kindly, despite a premiere that starred Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli but with Adam Lenson’s expert hand at the tiller, this is a revival to treasure. Continue reading “Review: The Rink, Southwark Playhouse”

Nominations for the 2017 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
If I Forget, by Steven Levenson, Roundabout Theatre Company
Indecent, by Paula Vogel, Vineyard Theatre
A Life, by Adam Bock, Playwrights Horizons
Oslo, by J. T. Rogers, Lincoln Center Theater
Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, The Public Theater
 
Outstanding Musical
Anastasia
The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Come From Away
Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

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Nominations for 2016-2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Jaclyn Backhaus, Men on Boats
Sarah DeLappe, The Wolves
Paola Lázaro, Tell Hector I Miss Him
Qui Nguyen, Vietgone
Bess Wohl, Small Mouth Sounds

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit Continue reading “Nominations for 2016-2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Re-review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre

“You can never go back to before”

Mother may spend a song telling us that we can never go ‘Back To Before’ but fortunately you can go back to Ragtime with no fear. And in a post-election climate, it can’t help but feel even more charged as the USA finds itself at a(nother) momentous point in its history. You can read my original review here and if anything, Thom Southerland’s production has gotten even better as the actor-musicians feel even more confident and comfortable. 

Leading performances from Jennifer Saayeng and Ako Mitchell, Earl Carpenter and Anita Louise Combe, and Gary Tushaw remain powerful as ever. But on second viewing I enjoyed watching ensemble members and just how damn hard they’re working – Kate Robson-Stuart, Christopher Dickins and James Mack particularly standing out for me… If you’ve not seen the show yet, there’s a trailer below for your delectation but move quickly, there’s less than a month less of the run. Continue reading “Re-review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre”

Review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre

“And say to those who blame us for the way we chose to fight
That sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white.”

It’s impossible to watch Ragtime right now without marvelling at its relevance to the current US presidential election campaign and the lessons that were right there for Donald Trump and his team to learn. For in many ways, the show – written by Ahrens and Flaherty with book by Terrence McNally from EL Doctorow’s novel – is about the development of the modern American nation and identifies three key groups instrumental in that societal change in women, African-Americans and immigrant communities, the very people Trump has done his damnedest to alienate.

Politics aside, what’s more significant is the magical touch that director Thom Southerland seems to have when it comes to reconceiving musicals, as his actor-musician production here at the Charing Cross Theatre is an extraordinary success. Keeping most of his 24-strong company onstage throughout amplifies the overarching humanity of its storytelling, reminding us that these are all of our stories regardless of whichever group we ‘belong’. Combined with the expert musicality onstage and an ingenious design from Tom Rogers and Toots Butcher, it’s an irresistible adaptation that shouldn’t be missed. Continue reading “Review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre”

Winners of 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
WINNER – Between Riverside and Crazy Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) Produced by The Public Theater in association with American Repertory Theater. Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
The Invisible Hand Produced by New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Ayad Akhtar
My Mañana Comes Produced by The Playwrights Realm. Written by Elizabeth Irwin
The Nether Produced by MCC Theater. Written by Jennifer Haley

Outstanding Musical
The Fortress of Solitude Produced by The Public Theater in association with Dallas Theater Center. Book by Itamar Moses, Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman. Conceived by Daniel Aukin, Based upon the novel by Jonathan Lethem
WINNER –Hamilton Produced by The Public Theater. Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
The Lightning Thief Produced by Theatreworks USA Music and Lyrics by Rob Rokicki, Book by Joe Tracz. Adapted from the book by Rick Riordan
Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe Produced by Radio Mouse Entertainment, Martin Hummel, Caiola Productions, Terry Schnuck, Susan Jaffe Tane, Hernreich-Horvath Productions, Catalyst Theatre in association with Fireboat Productions, Mary Cossette, Meredith Lynsey Schade. Written and Composed by Jonathan Christenson
Pretty Filthy Produced by The Civilians in association with Jon B. Platt Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Book by Bess Wohl. Conceived by Steve Cosson, Michael Friedman & Bess Wohl Continue reading “Winners of 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards”