Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

A cheeky return visit to the Victoria Palace Theatre sees Hamilton in rude health, with the 2021 cast in fine form 

“You’ll be back, soon you’ll see”

You know how it is, when a ticket to Hamilton falls into your lap, you can’t really say no to this… So a return to the Victoria Palace Theatre, my first since this behemoth of a show actually opened up and one which was surprisingly rewarding, over and above the pleasures of the show itself.

Karl Queensborough and Simon-Anthony Rhoden now occupy the key roles of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and what I found really interesting was that my sympathies actually altered between them. I’ve always been team Burr (it must have been the Terera of it all) but Rhoden has introduced a brusquer, harsher characterisation, which combined with Queensborough’s hugely open charisma, had me swapping sides quicker than James Madison. Continue reading “Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre”

News: musicals update

© Danny Kaan

The Distance You Have Come recorded live at The Apollo Theatre will be available to stream on stream.theatre from 5th to 11th August 2021. In a song cycle of his most acclaimed works, sung by some of the best voices in the west end, award winning composer and lyricist Scott Alan leads us through a year in the intertwined lives of six people facing the joy and heartache of the human experience, as they each search for their own version of happiness – which is, after all, what it’s all about.

This phenomenal cast features Andy Coxon (West Side Story, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical); Alice Fearn (Come From Away, Wicked); Adrian Hansel (Starlight Express, Hairspray); Emma Hatton (Evita, Wicked); Dean John-Wilson (The King and I, Aladdin) and Maiya Quansah- Breed (SIX, Rent).

Orchestrations are by Scott Hayes (Rent; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) who will also be the Musical Director, Kirk Jameson joins as Director (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Marry Me a Little; Madagascar) with Lighting Design by Andrew Ellis (Eugenius, Flashdance): Original Direction was by Scott Alan and original Production Design by Simon Daw. The production is produced by Sevans Productions and Krystal Lee.


New UK Musicals and Parkwood Theatres have announced the cast and creatives of the world premiere of new British musical Ordinary People. Supported by funding from the Farnham Maltings Our Town Project and written by Darren Clark, Ordinary People takes real life stories from the lives of the people of Maidstone in Kent and turns them into a truly British musical. At its heart the show explores the idea that there is nothing ordinary about ordinary people.

The cast features actor musicians Anne Marie Piazza (RSC’s The Day of the Living, These Trees Are Made of Blood), Jared Leathwood (Billionaire Boy), Tom Self (The Hired Man UK Tour) and Sorrel Jordan (The Juliet Letters). This new musical is directed by Jenny Longley with choreography by Lorna Thomas and musical direction by Tom Self. Ordinary People premieres at Maidstone’s Hazlitt Theatre for two performances on the 30th and 31st July.


The highly anticipated tour of the Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose has announced their all-female cast, starring Kanako Nakano (Miss Saigon, West End; Priscilla Queen of the Desert, West End). The production, winner of the coveted Les Enfant Terribles Stepladder Award, will also feature Maya Britto (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Arabian Nights, Hoxton Hall) in the titular role, Lucy Park (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Game Face, Q Theatre/Tristan Bates Theatre), Yuki Sutton (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Satanic Panic ’87, Channel 4), Amy Parker (Ride, Vault Festival; Dancing By Myself, King’s Head Theatre), and Cara Baldwin (The Marathon Project, online; The Half Moon Shania, Zoo Venues/Vault Festival).

Tokyo Rose is an electrifying new musical about one of America’s most controversial trials, examining a real-life story of scaremongering and scapegoating. New Diorama Theatre and Underbelly first commissioned this exciting project as part of the Untapped Award, and its potential was realised following a sold out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2019. From September, the tour will visit MAST Mayflower Studios, Southwark Playhouse, Curve Theatre, Leicester, The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Corn Exchange Newbury, and Birmingham Hippodrome.


Michael Harrison and David Ian have announced that Adam J BernardTarinn CallenderMatt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud will play The Drifters in a brand new musical also starring Beverley Knight, which tells the remarkable story of one of the world’s greatest vocal groups and the woman who made them.

The Drifters Girl will begin performances in Newcastle on Saturday 9 October 2021, playing until Saturday 23 October. Performances at the Garrick Theatre in London start on Thursday 4 November 2021.


Hamilton returns to the Victoria Palace from 19th August and has revealed its new cast. Karl Queensborough will play the title role of Alexander Hamilton with Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Aaron Burr, Ava Brennan as Angelica Schuyler, Sharon Rose as Eliza Hamilton, Trevor Dion Nicholas as George Washington, Waylon Jacobs as Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Emile Ruddock as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Khalid Daley as John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton, Emilie Louise Israel as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds and Harry Hepple as King George. At certain performances the role of Alexander Hamilton will be played by Nuno Queimado.

The cast also comprises Jade Albertsen, Curtis Angus, Robson Broad, Matthew Caputo, Filippo Coffano, Ashley Daniels, Kelly Downing, Lydia Fraser, Jordan Frazier, Manaia Glassey-Ohlson, Jake Halsey-Jones, Olivia Kate Holding, Peter Houston, DeAngelo Jones, Nicolais-Andre Kerry, Travis Kerry, Ella Kora, Natasha Leaver, Aaron Lee Lambert, Phoebe Liberty Jones, Sinead Long, Louis Mackrodt, Jay Perry, Lindsey Tierney and Brandon Williams.

Review: Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic

Gorgeous chocolate-based musical Romantics Anonymous works another coup de foudre as it briefly returns to the Bristol Old Vic before a US tour

“What if we try and take a chance?
Whit if we simply shift our stance?
I’ll admit that just the thought of change terrifies me too.
But what if we try something new?”

In this remounting, Romantics Anonymous proves that rare thing – a show that can survive losing Joanna Riding from its cast. It’s a good couple of years since this musical adaptation of the French-Belgian film Les Émotifs Anonymes took the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse by storm and in the meantime, it has reached an almost mythic status among its devotees calling for a revival. This might not be what they had in mind but it’ll certainly do for now.

Wise Children and Plush Theatricals are taking the show on the road in the US, so this short opening stop at the Bristol Old Vic feels like a bit of a treat. For its new outing, Romantics Anonymous has been spruced up a bit – composer Michael Kooman and lyricist Christopher Dimond have added a couple of new songs and director and book writer Emma Rice has rejigged here and there too, whilst necessarily recasting some of her ensemble. Continue reading “Review: Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic”

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”

Film Review: Peterloo (2018)

I wanted to like Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, I really did…

“You must be famished coming all the way from Wigan”

I’ve been a big fan of Mike Leigh’s film work, since discovering it in the last decade or so, and loved his last film Mr Turner. So news of his return to period drama, albeit through his idiosyncratic process, in Peterloo was a plus for me. The reality though is an epic that proved a real slog for me, even boring by the end. Continue reading “Film Review: Peterloo (2018)”

Review: Rutherford and Son, National Theatre

A superb cast including Roger Allam elevates a fine production of Rutherford and Son at the National Theatre

“There’s not a scrap of love in the whole house”

It’s grim up north. I can say this as an absent son of t’other side of the Watford Gap. But in Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son,  it really is tough-going. Roger Allam’s mightily bearded Rutherford is a ferociously brutal industrialist from the north-east of England who is fierce at home as in the glassworks he runs but down a generation, there’s a growing tendency towards not putting up with such levels of grimness. 

One of his sons bogged off to London and has come back with a working class wife and child, the other wants to find God in Blackpool and his daughter has pretty much been the downtrodden whipping boy for 30-odd years. But it is the beginning of the twentieth century and change is afoot – political and personal, societal and sexual and writ large in the generational struggle here, it can be powerfully affecting. Continue reading “Review: Rutherford and Son, National Theatre”

Re-review: Follies 2019, National Theatre

Follies 2019 remains the show that I need right now

“I’m so glad I came”

Just a quickie for this revisit to Follies, which remains as perfect a piece of musical theatre as I could hope for. I loved it then but I really love it now, Joanna Riding is just heartbreakingly perfect as Sally, she really brings something to the role that somehow eluded Imelda Staunton (for me at least), Alexander Hanson is superb in tracing Ben’s tragic fall, and Janie Dee and Peter Forbes maintain their stellar work as Phyllis and Buddy (seriously, Dee is a proper showstopper).

And as is surely appropriate in Dominic Cooke’s production, ghosts of the past interplay with what we’re seeing from top to bottom. It was great to see Dame Felicity Lott as Heidi, a different but no less affecting proposition than Dame Josephine Barstow (there truly ain’t nothing like a…). And the young talents of Gemma Sutton, Ian McIntosh, Harry Hepple and Christine Tucker are eloquently elegant as the younger incarnations of the central quartet. Continue reading “Re-review: Follies 2019, National Theatre”

Review: Follies 2019, National Theatre

The Olivier Award-winning Follies returns to the National Theatre in richer, deeper, more resonant form and just blows me away

“It’s the cat’s pyjamas”

Like the ghosts of their younger selves that haunt the characters in Follies so beautifully in this production, for those who were lucky enough to catch its superlative Olivier Award-winning 2017 run, so too do our memories interplay with what we’re seeing, inducing some soul-shiveringly exceptional moments that are almost metatheatrical in the feelings they provoke. 

The tingle of anticipation is never far away but the show somehow feels richer, deeper, more resonant in the note of melancholy it strikes as it exposes nostalgia for the rose-tinted self-delusion it so often becomes. Janie Dee’s Phyllis somehow feels more desolate, especially in her bitterly brilliant ‘Could I Leave You’; Tracie Bennett scorches the roof once more in ‘I’m Still Here’ in what feels like a more internal performance now; we’re all at least a year older… Continue reading “Review: Follies 2019, National Theatre”

Review: Into the Woods, Menier Chocolate Factory

“I’m not nice, I’m just right”

Fiasco Theater’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s evergreen Into the Woods was a big success over in the US and its actor-muso ethos seems ideally suited for this transfer to the Menier Chocolate Factory. It’s also an approach that pays dividends with the material, Sondheim and James Lapine’s interrogation of the world of fairy tales and what happy ever after really means.

Stripped back and doubled up, Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld’s fully actor-musician production makes a virtue of the communal spirit and really makes you notice how much of an ensemble show it really is. Not just in how each of the storybook characters get their chance to shine (or not, as the case may be) but in the relationships, of both family and friends, with which we surround ourselves, just to save us from those moments in the woods. Continue reading “Review: Into the Woods, Menier Chocolate Factory”