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”

2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations

The nominations for the 22nd Annual WhatsOnStage Awards have been announced 

Voting is open now, closing on Friday 21 January 2022, with the winners being announced at the awards ceremony on Sunday 27 February 2022. Write-in votes for Sutton Foster should be sent forthwith.

BEST PERFORMER IN A MALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Roger Bart – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Olly Dobson – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Arinzé Kene – Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, Lyric Theatre
Julian Ovenden – South Pacific, Chichester Festival Theatre
Eddie Redmayne – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Ivano Turco – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre

BEST PERFORMER IN A FEMALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Aimie Atkinson – Pretty Woman, Piccadilly Theatre & Savoy Theatre
Samantha Barks – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Jessie Buckley – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Carrie Hope Fletcher – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre
Beverley Knight – The Drifters Girl, Garrick Theatre
Stephanie McKeon – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane Continue reading “2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

News: The Theatre Channel announce a Stephen Schwartz spectacular for Episode 8

Adam Blanshay Productions’ acclaimed web series The Theatre Channel returns with a show stopping musical spectacular to honour the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked; Pippin; Godspell). Under the new direction of Olivier Award nominated choreographer Fabian Aloise (Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; Wicked, Germany) Schwartz’s modern masterpieces will come alive led by a sensational cast, including leading West End women Alice Fearn (Wicked; Come From Away), Louise Dearman (the only woman to play both Elphaba and Glinda – Wicked; Evita), and Christine Allado (The Prince of Egypt; Hamilton).

Further casting includes the incredible Stewart Clarke (Be More Chill; Fiddler on the Roof), Melanie La Barrie (Wicked; & Juliet), Cedric Neal (Back to the Future; Motown: The Musical) and the cast of the critically acclaimed revival of Pippin at the Charing Cross Theatre, with their fantastic rendition of ‘Magic To Do’. This marks the first time The Theatre Channel is doing a music video in collaboration with a production currently running in the West End, as they continue to evolve their concept. Continue reading “News: The Theatre Channel announce a Stephen Schwartz spectacular for Episode 8”

Book Review: Dear Audience

Just a quickie for this as the book is almost sold out now, but Sophie Ross and Danny Kaan’s coffee-table book Dear Audience is such a beautiful book that I’d encourage you to go and purchase one of the few remaining copies. Striving to photographically celebrate the arts industry from a wide range of performers through producers, MDs and writers, it is a nicely high-quality publication that matches that aim. 

In the interest of fairness, I can’t pick favourites from the many many names featured here, just look at the tags to see the impressive roll-call. What really elevates the book though is the inclusion of heartfelt letters from some of the participants, adding a really personal note to the whole endeavour, reminding us of the personal cost of the pandemic alongside what it has done to the sector as a whole. Track down those last copies now.

Review: Monday Night at the Apollo

As the West End begins to return, new concert series Monday Night at the Apollo reminds us of just some of its talent

“Just waiting there till you came home to me”

On the face of it, you would expect Monday Night at the Apollo to be all about celebrating the world of musical theatre. But though the roll-call is full of stagey sorts, the breadth of the source material they’re drawing from is so broad that we’re more or less past the interval before we actually hit any MT classics.

We’re treated to the likes of Aimie Atkinson’s growling through ‘Rolling in the Deep’, Cedric Neal imbuing Billy Joel with real soul on ‘Just The Way You Are’, Cassidy Janson showcasing the lushness of her lower register in ‘Get Here’ and Julian Ovenden crooning dreamily through Tom Waits and Dolly Parton. Continue reading “Review: Monday Night at the Apollo”

Review: A Killer Party

An online bite-sized musical murder mystery? A Killer Party boasts a strong cast if not quite the killer instinct

Did you always want to work as a traffic warden?’
Did you always want to work in an unviable industry?'”

A Killer Party is a curious thing. A murder mystery musical broken up into 9 episodes which can be watched at your own pace, it wears its lockdown origins a little too closely given how far the quality of digital theatre offerings have come over the last few months.

Written by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan (book), Jason Howland (music), and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and adapted for British audiences following its US-centric debut last years, we follow the case of Varthur McArthur, the artistic director of Blackpool’s
smallest regional theatre who is offed during a read-through for his latest production. Who’s your suspect? Take your pick from any of the theatrical stereotypes on offer. Continue reading “Review: A Killer Party”

Some musicals news from the last week

News about new musicals in Leicester and Maidstone, plus concerts in the West End and Chiswick 

The line up has been confirmed for the first concert of the series for Monday Night at the Apollo – which will be performed in front of a socially distanced audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday 24 May, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie.

Aimie Atkinson (Six, Pretty Woman), Cassidy Janson (&Juliet, Beautiful), Lucie Jones (Waitress, Rent), Cedric Neal (Chess, Motown the Musical) and Julian Ovenden (South Pacific, Downton Abbey) will join on-stage for an intimate night of music and theatrical chat, featuring ovation worthy performances of songs from their favourite genres with host Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Swallows and Amazons). Continue reading “Some musicals news from the last week”

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”

News: Monday Night at the Apollo reveals new dates

Newly revised dates have now been confirmed for Monday Night at the Apollo – a brand-new concert series for 2021, to be performed in front of socially distanced audiences at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie, which is dedicated to bringing the best live and recorded theatre to audiences around the world

Originally scheduled for earlier in the year, the concerts have now been rescheduled to reflect the recently announced government roadmap for the lifting of restrictions. Tickets are on sale now for Monday 24 May, Monday 14 June and Monday 5 July. The producers will continue to review each date as it approaches and react according to government guidelines at the time. Continue reading “News: Monday Night at the Apollo reveals new dates”