News: The West End & Beirut collaborate for The Beirut Emergency Appeal

West End stars and Broken Wings alumni collaborate with members of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra to raise money for the Red Cross’ Beirut Emergency Appeal 

Following the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4th 2020, over 40 artists have collaborated between London and Beirut to film a music video of ‘All I Longed To See’, from new musical Broken Wings by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan, with orchestrations by Joe Davison.

The video has been produced in aid of The Beirut Emergency Appeal, a collaborative fund established between both The British and Lebanese Red Cross. As a result of the explosion, at least 181 people have lost their lives, over 6,000 people have been wounded, and 300,000 are now homeless. These numbers are likely to continue to rise. Continue reading “News: The West End & Beirut collaborate for The Beirut Emergency Appeal”

Review: Kings of Broadway 2020

Jule Styne, Jerry Herman & Stephen Sondheim get a worthy lockdown tribute in Kings of Broadway 2020

“Knock-knock! Is anybody there?”

There certainly was a whole lot of people there as the online concert of Kings of Broadway 2020 in support of NHS Charities Together and Acting for Others brought a large dose of classic musical theatre back into our lives. Expertly marshaled by musical director and pianist Alex Parker, the choice to spotlight Black Lives Matter through a recital of Maya Angelou’s ‘And Still I Rise’ was a good one, even if it showed the relative caucasity of the main line up. Continue reading “Review: Kings of Broadway 2020”

The Curtain Up Show Album of the Year 2018 nominees

Best UK Cast Recording
Broken Wings – Original Concept Album
Calendar Girls – Original London Recording
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Original West End Cast Recording
Six The Musical – Studio Cast Recording
Working: A Musical – Original London Cast Recording
Young Frankenstein – Original London Cast Recording

Best American Cast Recording
Frozen – Original Broadway Cast Recording
Mean Girls – Original Broadway Cast Recording
My Fair Lady – 2018 Broadway Cast Recording
Once On This Island – New Broadway Cast Recording
Pretty Woman – Original Broadway Cast Recording
The Prom – Original Broadway Cast Recording

Best Solo Album
Audra McDonald – Sing Happy
Carrie Hope Fletcher – When The Curtain Falls
David Hunter – Silver Linings
Louise Dearman – For You, For Me
Natasha Barnes – Real
Sutton Foster – Take Me To The World

Album Review: Broken Wings

Written by Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan, the concept album of new musical Broken Wings marks an ambitious debut and an impressive arrival 

“I remember the beauty of home”

Would you be able to name the third best-selling poet of all time? Behind Shakespeare and Laozi, it is actually the Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran. So adapting his work for the stage is perhaps something of a natural step, and an under-explored one given the Anglo-Saxon bias of the Western canon. And it feels only right that it should fall to a Lebanese man and a Qatari woman to compose a musical based on one of his most famous works.

The result is Broken Wings. A new musical which has not only released a concept album, but will play the Theatre Royal Haymarket for four nights in early August, marking the first Arabic-inspired musical to grace the West End. But is it any good? I have to say I have fallen hard for its charms, as it reveals itself to be a supremely confident piece of writing, and one which balances the melting pot of its influences with an almost classic approach. Continue reading “Album Review: Broken Wings”

Album Review: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall

“We had such hopes…”

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, The Phantom of the Opera decamped to the Royal Albert Hall for 3 performances, the highlights of which were spliced together to give a full CD/DVD release package which contains as full a rendering of the entire score as it currently available. Maybe it was a rush job though as the sound quality on this CD really isn’t good enough for it to be genuinely recommendable, even for a live recording. 

I also had mixed feelings about the production itself. I just can’t get on with Sierra Boggess’ voice, her soprano voice always erring to the too shrill for my liking and the vibrato she employs has all the subtlety of a jackhammer. Christine isn’t the strongest-written of roles at the best of times and Boggess just feels too emotionally vapid to be the inspiration of such all-conquering adoration as she is served with in this story. Continue reading “Album Review: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall”

Re-review: Les Misérables, Queens

“Who is this man, what sort of devil is he?”

An unscheduled visit back to this old stalwart for me as I took a friend’s last minute spare albeit with not just a little hesitation: the cult of Alfie Boe has not quite won me over yet… Les Misérables has been one of those shows that has present in my life for as long as I can remember really, having seen it countless times but my love for it had become a little comfortable, a little by rote, and so it was most lovely to have the truly fantastic 25th Anniversary touring production last year remind me just why I felt this way about the show, seeing it at the Barbican really was one of the highlights of my year. What was remarkable was that it played in conjunction with the West End production at the Queen’s so there were two versions running in London at the same time, all topped off with a pair of celebratory concerts at the O2.

Keen to keep the momentum going with this show and responding to how well-received the anniversary activity was, producer Cameron Mackintosh has instigated something of an overhaul to the West End production, hoping to transfer some of that energy and freshness by incorporating the new orchestrations, increasing the size of the orchestra back up to 14 and a cast change which brings back some familiar faces (in new roles) and also allowing some of the new faces – Alfie Boe, Matt Lucas – from the concert to play the roles for real this time. Continue reading “Re-review: Les Misérables, Queens”

Review: The Cradle Will Rock, Arcola Theatre

“This is a war to end war, we do it for peace”

The final show to take place in the main theatre at the Arcola’s current premises on Arcola Street in Dalston, The Cradle Will Rock also marks the 10th anniversary of the theatre founded by Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen which will be moving just down the road to the Colourworks building and opening there with a new Rebecca Lenkiewicz play about Joseph Turner in the New Year. With book, music and lyrics by American Mark Blitzstein, the musical is set in a fictional town, Steeltown, USA and concerns the wide rifts between workers and the wealthy at a time when millions were unemployed: in this case it is the union struggles of the interwar period and 1937, though there’s much resonance in the material of the nefarious influence of those in positions of power on the average citizen that echo through to today.

Events take place as a liberty committee made up of the great and good of this particular town are arrested by a confused rookie cop on the very evening that the workers in the steel plant are voting whether to unionise themselves, that committee having set out to stop the vote. But as a series of vignettes play out, we come to see how each of the town’s leaders have fallen under the corrupt influence of the steel magnate Mr Mister with only a previous few people able to withstand the pressure and fight for what they believe is right and fair. Continue reading “Review: The Cradle Will Rock, Arcola Theatre”

Review: Les Misérables, Barbican

“Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?”

When I first started this blogging lark, I thought that what I wanted was to be ‘respected’ as a ‘serious’ theatregoer and whilst I’ve never been ashamed of being a huge fan of musical theatre amongst many other things, I’d always been uneasy about demonstrating that too much. But after great conversations with so many of my new friends in the online reviewing community, I’ve come to fully appreciate that integrity really does come from being truly honest about things that I see and the things that I love and this could not have been better illuminated than in the last two days: an obscure Sondheim revival at the Donmar and the umpteenth time of seeing Les Misérables, albeit in a new production and I can proudly say that it was Les Mis that came out as a clear winner for me despite what my inner snob may have wanted me to say!

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg adapted it for the stage in 1980, and it first played in London at the Barbican, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Trevor Nunn, transferring to the Palace and then the Queen’s Theatre where it is still running after 25 years. And to mark that 25th anniversary, Mackintosh conceived this touring version of the show, directed by Lawrence Connor and James Powell (a decision which sadly left Nunn’s nose out of joint) and after touring the country, it has now arrived back at its original home at the Barbican for 22 performances only. Continue reading “Review: Les Misérables, Barbican”