Review: Now or Never, Barn Theatre online

There are some good performance in Matthew Harvey’s Now or Never, the latest online show from the Barn Theatre but I’m not sure the song cycle format entirely works

“We could still make it to Paris”

What would you do if there was only a week left to live? That’s the question facing the seven people in Now or Never, a new song cycle written by Matthew Harvey. Continuing the Barn Theatre’s inventive forays online, with a non-stop, one-shot, one-night-only production that is over and done with in a scant 30 minutes.

Get a dog? Connect with loved ones? Go to Paris? Reach out to those long estranged? Harvey’s writing covers the emotional gamut and fits his self-identified brief of writing about responses to global adversity without writing specifically about the pandemic. And with it being just half an hour, it has that feeling of shining bright like a star. Continue reading “Review: Now or Never, Barn Theatre online”

News: Cast announced for Barn Theatre’s Now or Never

The Barn Theatre have today announced the full casting and creative team for upcoming livestream Now or Never. 

Now or Never is a British song cycle with an exciting and ambitious digital twist. Now or Never is a song cycle written by associate artist Matthew Harvey, which follows 7 people as they each take a defiant act of positivity in their last week on Earth.  Continue reading “News: Cast announced for Barn Theatre’s Now or Never”

News: Ramin Karimloo and co-composer Nadim Naaman head the cast of ‘Rumi: The Musical’

Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman today announce their second major stage musical, Rumi: The Musical. 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.

Rumi: The Musical will launch first with a full-length concept album, with Ramin Karimloo and Nadim Naaman heading  a West End cast comprising entirely of performers of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian heritage, and also featuring The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Continue reading “News: Ramin Karimloo and co-composer Nadim Naaman head the cast of ‘Rumi: The Musical’”

News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November

Auburn Jam Music are delighted to be releasing ‘You Will Be Found’ by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends, a fundraising charity single in aid of youth charity The Diana Award, on Sunday 15 November to tie in with the start of National Anti-Bullying Week (16-20 November).  

The star-studded single is led by ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen from Wokingham, whose experience of being bullied started the viral #CheerUpCharlie campaign. Charlie is joined on the song by numerous stage and screen stars including Wendi Peters, Layton Williams and Michael Xavier, with Iain Armitage, Michael Ball, Rufus Hound, and Faye Tozer amongst many famous faces reading their supportive messages on the song’s video. The single is available to pre-save now on iTunes, Deezer, Spotify and Tidal at https://ditto.fm/you-will-be-found. Continue reading “News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November”

September theatre news, the UK version

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced their Autumn plans and it looks to be a good’un. It includes:
– Sarah Kane’s Crave, directed by Tinuke Craig and starring Erin Doherty and Alfred Enoch, staged in a socially distanced Festival Theatre for 10 performances and live streamed to digital audiences
– for Christmas, a series of festive concerts (including one with Rebeccas Caine and Trehearn), followed by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in a new version of Pinocchio by Anna Ledwich, directed by Dale Rooks
Michael Ball, Sheila Hancock and Patricia Routledge in conversation with Edward Seckerson
– cabaret and comedy including Frisky & Mannish, The Black Cat Cabaret, Barely Methodical Troupe, Rich Hall, Suzi Ruffell, Russell Kane and Rosie Jones
– music ranging from a celebration of Sondheim with West End stars, to a song recital by Kate Royal, a new concert from Joe Stilgoe and a portrait of Rachmaninoff with Henry Goodman and Lucy Parham Continue reading “September theatre news, the UK version”

Review: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Some seriously big names – David Walliams and Robbie Williams – can’t save the RSC’s new musical The Boy in the Dress at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

“Don’t eat my cheese”

There’s no lacking for big names behind the RSC’s big new musical The Boy in the Dress. Based on the novel by David Walliams and adapted by Mark Ravenhill, and with a score by Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers and Chris Heath, the pedigree is certainly there in this story about Dennis, a young football-crazy boy who decides, one day, that he’d quite like to go to school wearing a dress. But Gregory Doran’s production ends up hitting the crossbar – literally so… – and it is a little difficult to work out exactly why.

Is it in Walliams’ book, where absent mothers get entirely short shrift (as do most women, the character of Darvesh’s mum, who even gets a song, is called…Darvesh’s mum) and notions about celebrating difference only go so far – it’s OK for boys to wear dresses and win football matches, but if you buy a copy of Vogue, then you’re the target for homophobic jokes in the script. Or is it in the score which is full of strangely low-impact numbers, until an Indian man appears – cue the Bollywood song! Or someone puts on a dress – cue the disco number! It can feel that there’s not much sophistication at work here. Continue reading “Review: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre”

August theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw in August.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, aka the Sheridan Smith show
Queen of the Mist, aka the surprisingly affecting one
Appropriate, aka all hail Monica Dolan
Waitress, aka ZZZZZZZOMGGGGG STUNT CASTING oh wait, Joe Suggs hasn’t started yet
The Doctor, aka all hail Juliet Stevenson
A Very Expensive Poison, aka it was a preview so I shouldn’t say anything
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
The Night of the Iguana, aka justice for Skyler Continue reading “August theatre round-up”

Finalists of 2019 Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year

Louise Cowling (The Hammond School, Chester)
Jamie Bogyo (RADA)
Aliza Vakil (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
Samantha Bingley (Brunel University)
Oisín Nolan-Power (Royal Academy of Music)
Lily Kerhoas (Royal Academy of Music)
Lucy Reynolds (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
Cameron Burt (Guildford School of Acting)
Niamh James (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
Ahmed Hamad (ArtsEd)
Stuart Thompson (LAMDA) 
Paige Fenlon (Bird College)

Host: Joanna Riding
Judges: Edward Seckerson (Chair), Julia McKenzie, Daisy Maywood, Peter Polycarpou, Gareth Valentine