Review: Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley shimmer and scintillate in this striking reworking of Cabaret, in the immersive surroundings of The Kit Kat Club 

“Gather together to greet the storm”

There’s a lot that has gone into tempting us out from sitting in our room. Director Rebecca Frecknall and designer Tom Scutt have done an awesome job in reconfiguring the Playhouse Theatre into the risqué surroundings of The Kit Kat Club. From sweatily intimate pre-show entertainment (that could possibly benefit from a touch of crowd control) to a transformed auditorium, there’s no doubting the welcome im cabaret, au cabaret, to Cabaret

And for the eye-wincing levels that ticket prices go up to in this first casting period, as well that welcome should be extended. There’s a lot that works supremely well in this production of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff’s iconic musical. The dazzle of recognisable showtunes is stripped away to focus on the uncompromising weight of a narrative about the untrammelled rise of fascism, ostensibly in 1930s Germany but in reality, in any society at all. Continue reading “Review: Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre”

Some September casting news

Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman today announce that their second major stage musical, Rumi: The Musical will get its world premiere as a semi-staged concert at the London Coliseum on November 23rd & 24th 2021.

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.

Led by Ramin Karimloo (as Shams Tabrizi) and Nadim Naaman (Rumi), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Kimya), Soophia Foroughi (Kara), the London Coliseum cast will comprise entirely of performers of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian heritage, and will also feature a 25+ piece orchestra, conducted by Joe Davison.

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 14 September via the London Coliseum website Continue reading “Some September casting news”

Review: Carousel, Open Air Theatre

Despite some careful thinking and some glorious singing, the Open Air Theatre’s reimagined Carousel can’t stop this problematic musical from being, well, problematic

“Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain”

There’s a glorious moment early in the second half of the Open Air Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel when all its constituent concepts and parts coalesce together in perfect harmony. Joanna Riding delivering the haunting strains of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as the sparseness of Tom Scutt’s design reveals its haunting potential, cleverly contextualising Drew McOnie’s lyrical choreography with the bold brass of Tom Deering’s new orchestrations recasting this classic score with real vibrancy.   

Around it though, the rest of this notoriously tricky musical doesn’t quite stick the landing in the same way, despite the work that director Timothy Sheader and his company have put in to try and address its intrinsic issues. A soft relocation to somewhere in’t’north allows the cast to use a range of British accents but it is a certain truth that no British person has ever said the word clambake, particularly as often as it is said in this show. It may seem like a small point but it is an incongruency that rings out every single time someone says it. Continue reading “Review: Carousel, Open Air Theatre”

Book Review: Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal – Giles Terera

Taking us so far behind the scenes you can smell the greasepaint, Giles Terera’s Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal is a brilliant new book 

“My intention is…to try and show you the how”

I’m not saying I made Giles Terera’s career but I named him Best Actor in a Musical in 2015 for his spell-binding turn in Pure Imagination 🙂 Regardless of that though, there’s no doubting that dude was catapulted into the limelight by Hamilton, adding an Olivier to his fosterIAN award, and deservedly cementing his place in the British theatrical establishment. Throughout his time with the show, he kept a journal which has now been published as Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal.

The relative informality of the journal structure works perfectly in cultivating an immediate sense of intimacy as we slip from audition process to rehearsal rooms to the Victoria Palace Theatre itself. But don’t mistake these for casual observations, the book is jam-packed full of hard-won insights and all kinds of practical advice which works whether you’re a budding thespian or just a bastard, orphan, son of a… Continue reading “Book Review: Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal – Giles Terera”

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”

News: National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington

National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington including faves Melanie La Barrie and Amy Booth-Steel

As previously announced, pantomime comes to the National Theatre with Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd’s hilarious and heartfelt version of Dick Whittington. First staged at Lyric Hammersmith in 2018 and freshly updated for 2020, Ned Bennett’s production will open in the socially distanced Olivier theatre on 11th December, lockdowns permitting, and tickets are now on sale. 

The full cast includes Melanie La Barrie as Bow Belles, Dickie Beau as Sarah, Amy Booth-Steel as Queen Rat, Laura Checkley as Mayor Pigeon, Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings as Dick Whittington, Georgina Onuorah as Alice and Cleve September as Tom Cat. Beth Hinton-Lever, Travis Kerry, Jaye Marshall, Ken Nguyen, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda and Christopher Tendai also join the company. Continue reading “News: National Theatre reveals full cast for Dick Whittington”

News: #AllTheWebsAStage details announced

All the Web’s a Stageis a streaming initiative consisting of 12 marvellous jam-packed hours of all your favourite performers from the West End and theatre to comedy, drag and magic!

It’s fitting that the free livestream will be held on Thursday 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday and the date that theatres began their process of restoration after strict censorship in 1661, the last time British theatres were ordered to close for a prolonged period. 

The livestream is raising money for our artistic comrades who have been severely impacted by Covid-19. Whilst we appreciate the government’s initiatives, and the support made available for many self-employed workers, there are still many freelance artists who fall through the cracks of these new government programs. As a result, thousands of artists who are now unable to earn an income are facing the coronavirus crisis with no available financial support.

You can watch the livestream on the Theatre Together website or on the Theatre Together Facebook page this Thursday from midday. Continue reading “News: #AllTheWebsAStage details announced”

10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2019

Flashes of excellence can be found in the midst of any production so this list celebrates some of those breath-taking and/or memorable moments that really made theatregoing enjoyably fun this year

For reference, here’s my 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Crying with laughter at the VAULT

I don’t think I have laughed so much and so helplessly for a long time as I did with improv group Sorry.

Jessica Hung Han Yun’s extraordinary lighting in Equus

Ned Bennett’s production of Equus had so much to commend but it was Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting work that really stood out for me Continue reading “10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2019”

Birthday treats – poetry and post-show talks

Been a bit quiet on the show front whilst I’ve celebrating a particular anniversary (I turned 29, for the 11th time if anyone’s counting…) but I was pleased to have been treated to a couple of special evenings out with Helen McCrory and Helena Bonham Carter reading poetry and a return visit to West Side Story

“Time to look, time to care, 
Some day”

Front row tickets to something with Helen McCrory? It’s the stuff birthday dreams are made of, and so I was delighted to get to go to Allie Esiri Presents Women Poets Through the Ages at the Bridge Theatre. And not only was there McCrory action, there was a reunion of evil Harry Potter sisters Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange as Helena Bonham Carter was also on the bill.


Continue reading “Birthday treats – poetry and post-show talks”