Review: Together Again

Featuring the marvellous Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams, Together Again might Thespie’s best Reunited gig yet

“Good times we’ll share again”

For whatever reason, the musical adaptation of Heathers held no attraction for me so I never actually got around to going to see it. The quality and appeal of its cast was never in doubt though, so I was interested to what the title trio of Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams would get up to in Together Again, their concert for Thespie’s Reunited series.

There’s an easy informality about this trio, who clearly get on like a house on fire, that elevates this concert to the best kind of cabaret. Full of chat, in-jokes and genuine admiration inbetween songs, the three of them conjure up the type of atmosphere that fully engages you and keeps you hanging off every note they sing. Continue reading “Review: Together Again”

News: Glenn Close, Jeremy O Harris, Patti LuPone and more perform scenes from Angels in America

The Great Work Begins: Scenes from Angels in America streams October 8, featuring Tony winners Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Nikki M. James, and more Broadway stars performing scenes from Tony Kushner’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize–winning play.

Multiple performers share the roles of some characters, with Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Rannells, and Paul Dano as Prior Walter; Lois Smith and Vella Lovell as Harper Pitt; and Jeremy O. Harris, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Larry Owens as Belize. The cast also includes Glenn Close as Roy Cohn, Brandon Uranowitz as Louis Ironson, Laura Linney as Hannah Pitt, and Nikki M. James, Patti LuPone, Linda Emond, and Daphne Rubin-Vega as the angels Lumen, Fluor, Phosphor, and Candle, respectively.

Continue reading “News: Glenn Close, Jeremy O Harris, Patti LuPone and more perform scenes from Angels in America”

Nominations for 2020 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
BLKS Produced by MCC Theater Written by Aziza Barnes
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven Produced by Atlantic Theater Company and LAByrinth Theater Company Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Heroes of the Fourth Turning Produced by Playwrights Horizons Written by Will Arbery
Is This A Room Produced by Vineyard Theatre Conceived by Tina Satter
Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie Produced by Ars Nova Created by The Mad Ones and Phillip James Brannon, Brad Heberlee, Carmen M. Herlihy, January LaVoy
 
Outstanding Musical

A Strange Loop Produced by Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Michael R. Jackson
In The Green Produced by Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Grace McLean
Octet Produced by Signature Theatre. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dave Malloy
Soft Power Produced by The Public Theater and Center Theatre Group Play and Lyrics by David Henry Hwang, Music and Additional Lyrics by Jeanine Tesori
The Secret Life of Bees Produced by Atlantic Theater Company Book by Lynn Nottage, Music by Duncan Sheik, Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd

Continue reading “Nominations for 2020 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Review: The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, National Theatre

Any opportunity to see Lesley Manville on stage should be taken but The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call proves close to a trial at the National Theatre

“We’re alive now only in the sense that moss and lichen are alive”

There’s no two ways about it – Tony Kushner’s new version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call is a punishing evening on the buttocks. Thank the Lord (or the donors) for the relative comfort of the seating at the National Theatre but unless you’re a fan of Lesley Manville (and what right-thinking individual isn’t), it could well prove punishing on your patience too. 

Manville really is superb. She’s Claire Zachanassian, the richest woman in the world who has returned to her dilapidated hometown with an intriguing proposition for the townsfolk. She’ll donate an incredible, life-changing amount of money for everyone if they’ll carry out a brutal act of vengeance on the man whose actions forced her to leave the place as a pregnant teenager. And she rises to the challenge, displaying a mesmerising stage presence that is startling in its power. Continue reading “Review: The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, National Theatre”

20 shows to look forward to in 2020

I look ahead to some of the 2020 shows exciting me most with an emphasis away from the West End, looking mostly instead at the London fringe and across the UK 

Sure, there’s all sorts of big ticket shows coming to London in 2020 (with big ticket prices too to go with their big names), like Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, A Doll’s House with Jessica Chastain. But there’s so much more to discover if you venture away from Shaftesbury Avenue…

1 The Glass Menagerie, Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe at the Barbican
Not that I want to be predictable at all but Isabelle Huppert! Acting in French! Right in front of you! I understand that van Hove-fatigue might be setting in for people but only a FOOL would pass up the chance to see one of our greatest living actors. A FOOL! 

2 The Glass Menagerie, Royal Exchange
And if you wanted to do a direct compare and contrast, Atri Banerjee’s revival for the Royal Exchange will be worth checking out too for an alternative perspective. 

3 The Wicker Husband, Watermill
Even before Benjamin Button tore my heart apart, I was excited for the arrival of this new musical by Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark but now, the bar has been raised even higher. And the gorgeous intimacy of the Watermill feels like a perfect fit.


4 Children of Nora, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Me: “I don’t need any more Ibsen in my life”
Also me: Robert Icke revisiting the world of A Doll’s House through the eyes of the next generation? Yes please.

5 Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic
I don’t think I thought this delicious Koomin and Dimond musical would ever actually return, so this short run in the UK ahead of a US tour feels like a real blessing. Now where did I put my badge?
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2020”

News: new productions and casting updates for the National Theatre

Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor headline a new production of Romeo and Juliet, while Callum Scott Howells and Rosie Sheehy star in Gary Owen’s Romeo and Julie, among other big news from the National Theatre

New productions

Simon Godwin returns to the National Theatre to direct Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET following his critically-acclaimed productions of Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night in the Olivier Theatre. Set in modern Italy in a world where Catholic and secular values clash, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Countryplay the two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and corruption. Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chroniclesis cast as Mercutio. The production will open in the Olivier Theatre in August 2020.

Set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Lucy Carter, composition by Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Continue reading “News: new productions and casting updates for the National Theatre”

News: the National Theatre announces 15 new productions for 2019 and 2020

So much goodness! The National Theatre have just announced details of productions stretching deep into 2020, and with writers like Lucy Kirkwood, Kate Tempest, Roy Williams and Tony Kushner, and actors like Lesley Manville, Maxine Peake, Conleth Hill, Cecilia Noble and Lesley Sharp, it is hard not to feel excited about what’s ahead.

Olivier Theatre 

Following a sell-out run at Rose Theatre Kingston, the acclaimed two-part adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by April De Angelis is reworked for the Olivier stage by Melly Still (Coram Boy). When the most important person in her life goes missing without a trace, Lenu Greco, now a celebrated author, begins to recall a relationship of more than 60 years.  Continue reading “News: the National Theatre announces 15 new productions for 2019 and 2020”

Review: Caroline or Change, Playhouse Theatre

The extraordinary Caroline or Change makes the leap into the West End at the Playhouse Theatre, with a titanic Sharon D Clarke at the helm

“The Devil made the dryer.
Everything else, God made”

For the assiduous theatregoer, this is the third opportunity to catch this stirring Chichester Festival Theatre production of Caroline or Change. From its original run at the Minerva last year to the Hampstead Theatre this spring, this idiosyncratic musical now arrives in the West End in the relative intimacy of the Playhouse Theatre.

And it is an intimacy that is needed to draw you into the true shape of Michael Longhurst’s production – to be confronted with that Confederate statue, the sweltering isolation of that basement, the knots of tension on furrowed brows. The winds of change may be starting to blow across the US of the early 1960s but here in this Louisiana household, societal change has yet to filter down to the individual.  Continue reading “Review: Caroline or Change, Playhouse Theatre”

Album Reviews: Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project / Mamma Mia / Il Divo – A Musical Affair

This trio of album reviews covers Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project, Mamma Mia! The Movie Soundtrack and Il Divo – A Musical Affair

“You know I’ve got
So much that I wanna do”

Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project has an amazing list of performers, composers, and musicians behind it, all coming together to create a 2-CD set and 48-page children’s book to benefit breast cancer research, support and education. And rather wonderfully, it is an utterly gorgeous record. Brilliant jazz musicians accompany writers like Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Gwon and Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez in indulging their gentler side to create the prettiest tunes. And then a cast of dreams sing them – just listen to Raúl Esparza’s aching tenderness on ‘This Little World’, or Donna Murphy’s crystal clear ‘Lucky’ (by Stephen  Schwartz) – we should all be so lucky to be lulled to sleep this way. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project / Mamma Mia / Il Divo – A Musical Affair”

Winners of 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Kate Benson, [PORTO]
WINNER – Jocelyn Bioh, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Lindsey Ferrentino, Army and the Orphans
Meghan Kennedy, Napoli, Brooklyn
Dominique Morisseau, Pipeline

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Carousel
David M. Lutken, Woody Sez
Conor Ryan, Desperate Measures
WINNER – Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants
Continue reading “Winners of 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards”