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”

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: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed

Comedian, actor and singer Jason Manford is to host The Royal Variety Performance at the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will deliver a special message to the charity and the artistes performing in the show, as he looks forward to this exceptional evening of entertainment.

Returning to the North after nine years, the show promises to be an unforgettable evening of exceptional performers, world class British theatre and superb comedy, plus some exciting surprises. Continue reading “News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed”

Winners of the 2020 Olivier Awards

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical                                          
David Bedella for & Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre – WINNER
Stewart Clarke for Fiddler On The Roof at Playhouse Theatre
Jack Loxton for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre
Rupert Young for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre                          

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Lucy Anderson for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre
Petula Clark for Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre
Cassidy Janson for & Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre – WINNER
Lauren Ward for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre                

Continue reading “Winners of the 2020 Olivier Awards”

News: Michelle Collins fundraises #ForTheLoveOfArts

A new series of monologues, curated and produced by Michelle Collins alongside the Equity Benevolent Fund, has been released online for charity. Entitled “#FortheLoveofArts”, the scheme sees acting talent come together to raise funds for beleaguered artists and individuals during the ongoing pandemic.

Appearing in the series are Lesley Manville, Ian McKellen, Adjoa Andoh, Miriam-Teak Lee, Derek Jacobi, Layton Williams, Sue Johnston, Jason Watkins, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Pearl Mackie and more. Some of the monologues are brand new works penned especially for the series.

The monologues can be viewed on the Equity Benevolent Fund’s YouTube channel.

Lockdown theatre review: Curtains

The curtains are lifted once again for Curtains as it is available to watch online again

“I’m sorry but this theatre is in quarantine”

I enjoyed the Kander & Ebb musical Curtains when it made its long-awaited West End debut over the festive period, and was saddened when its ambitious UK tour had to be curtailed once lockdown was enforced. The producers had filmed a performance from early in the run though for their archive and have generously made it available to watch through their website here. And for the completist in me, it has turned out well as it meant I have the opportunity now to see Ore Oduba in the role that Andy Coxon covered for the West End stint.

Paul Foster’s production is great fun, full of wryly comic performances (Samuel Holmes is a standout here), stunning dance (Alan Burkitt – swoon!) and musical theatre gloriousness (you’ll wonder how Rebecca Lock isn’t a bigger name). And I don’t know about other people, but I’ve been craving escapist entertainment much more than anything too serious and Curtains certainly fits the bill (it’s all the more impressive considering it was indeed early in the run for them). Move quickly and watch it tonight!

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”

Review: Curtains, Wyndham’s Theatre

A Kander & Ebb premiere in the West End you say? Curtains makes its bow at the Wyndham’s Theatre and I had an arrestingly good time with it

“Shall we all observe a moment of silence…
to match the audience’s response to Jessica’s first number”

There’s no denying that theatre loves shows about theatre and on the Charing Cross Road right now, you’ve got a play within a play at the Garrick right next to a musical about a musical at the Wyndham’s. Curtains ups the ante though by throwing in a murder mystery as well for good measure and the result is a something of a good old-fashioned romp, blessed with that rarest of things, a barely-known Kander & Ebb score. Having only received a few drama school productions (I saw it at Arts Ed

The show dates back to 2006 but had a tricky road to completion as original book writer Peter Stone died before finishing it, Rupert Holmes stepping in to rewrite, and Fred Ebb also passed away a year later, with Kander and Holmes completing the lyrical content. Curtains managed a relatively successful run on Broadway but for whatever reason, it never made the leap across the Atlantic (into the West End at least) until now, as Paul Foster’s touring production steps neatly into a scheduling gap to provide an alternative cup of Christmas cheer. Continue reading “Review: Curtains, Wyndham’s Theatre”

10 questions for 10 years – Paul Foster

Director Paul Foster (no relation, honest!) takes on the 10for10 challenge

Paul Foster has two major projects in the near future – diving into The Deep Blue Sea with the glorious Nancy Caroll and opening a UK tour of Curtains with Jason Manford. And it is surely in no small part to his revelatory work on A Little Night Music (featuring a career-best Josefina Gabrielle) at the Watermill in 2017 that his star is rising so.

I asked him to recall a little of that time:

“A testament to truly brilliant creative colleagues and a matchless cast that we pulled it off in four weeks!. The quality of that material is so apparent and to get to know Sondheim a little as we prepared for it was incredible. I’d got his autograph when I worked the cloakroom at the National but left it on the 91 bus, so the emails and calls squared the circle!”

Continue reading “10 questions for 10 years – Paul Foster”

Midlife Crooner Crisis Album Reviews

With Top of the Pops cruelly taken away from us, I’ve rarely much of a clue as to what in the charts. But I doubt even the most knowledgable of experts could have predicted that one of 2016’s biggest albums would come from the presenter of The Chase. Chasing Dreams ended the year as the second biggest UK debut and perhaps unsurprisingly given his key demographic, achieved that with predominantly physical sales.

So the arrival of a follow-up was never in doubt but it brings with it competition, from a whole raft of middle-aged white male presenters seeking to tap into those CD sales. And me being the kind soul that I am, I’ve listened to some of them, mainly so that you don’t have to…as it’s not a field overflowing with the kind of music that floats my boat. Each to their own though. 
Continue reading “Midlife Crooner Crisis Album Reviews”