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: 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”

Album Review: #ZoologicalSociety

New musical #ZoologicalSociety, written by Vikki Stone and Kate Mulgrew, gets a well-timed concept album release

“You’ve been here for one day mate, I’ve been here for years”

With a sense of impeccable timing, new musical #ZoologicalSociety launches with a concept album. The plan was to accompany the digital release with a live concert performance at BEAM 2020, the UK’s leading showcase of new British musical theatre but whilst that obviously isn’t happening, the album is now available for our delectation, thanks to Joe and Nikki Davison at Auburn Jam Music who produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the music.

The first of a series of entirely original musical commissions from Northampton’s Royal & Derngate, Vikki Stone and Katie Mulgrew’s #ZoologicalSociety takes its simple concept – animals going through the same societal pressures as humans – and fashions a rather winning musical comedy out of it. Continue reading “Album Review: #ZoologicalSociety”

Golden Bucket Awards 2020

IT STARTS WITH A SPEECH

Presented by Irvine Iqbal

This award is for those that made the speech night after night encouraging audiences to donate, making a huge impact during the Bucket Collections in 2019.

Winner: Ashley Zhangazha

FABULOUS FUNDRAISING AWARD

Presented by Harriet Thorpe

This award is for the most inventive way of fundraising for Acting for Others.

Winner: Richard Carson Continue reading “Golden Bucket Awards 2020”

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”

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: Bombay Dreams (2002 Original London Cast)

“Contradictions, city of extremes, anything is possible in Bombay dreams. 
Some live and die in debt, others making millions on the internet”

True story, until last week I thought Bombay Dreams was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Not having seen it onstage nor listened to it before, all I knew was the Lord’s name was attached to it and assumptions were thus made – it’s even his name that appears first on the album cover. But peruse a little closer and you see he’s just ‘presenting’ as one of the original producers, cast your eyes a little further down and A.R. Rahman is revealed as the composer. This may of course be old news to you but for me, it was a revelation before I’d even started!

This was multi-award-winning composer Rahman’s first effort for the stage and the palpable effort to mesh his unique take on Indian music with the world of musical theatre is obvious from the off. The musical soundscape that begins ‘Bombay Awakes/Bombay Dreams’ is layered and intriguing but the mood is shattered as soon as Don Black’s lyrics crash in (see the quote up top for a sample) and the combination is cringeworthily fatal. And across the score as a whole, the sense of compromise, of trying to serve two masters whilst pleasing none is too evident. Continue reading “Album Review: Bombay Dreams (2002 Original London Cast)”