News: Andrew Lloyd Webber to host a special gala performance of Cinderella with Malala Yousafzai

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit new musical Cinderella is to hold a special gala performance to raise money for Malala Yousafzai’s work to empower women and girls around the world.

With the backdrop of a worsening global refugee crisis, which has interrupted the education of millions of young women, Malala Fund wants those who have lost everything to retain access to the opportunities they need to build a better future.

More than 130 million girls are out of school today and Malala Fund is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead through access to a free, safe and quality education. Continue reading “News: Andrew Lloyd Webber to host a special gala performance of Cinderella with Malala Yousafzai”

Review: Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre

Andrew Lloyd Webber puts his name front and centre with this new version of Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, if only it was worth it…

“The only thing I’ve learnt from you is to be a completely heartless bitch”

If this were a show about Cinderella’s stepmother and the Queen of Belleville, then I think Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new show Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella might stand a fighting chance. Between them, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Rebecca Trehearn effortessly chew up the stage at the Gillian Lynne Theatre and steal pretty much every scene they’re in, climaxing in a brilliantly spiky and knowing duet.

Problem is, they’re trying to present a modernised version of the classic fairytale and not even an Academy Award-winning writer can really square this obstinate circle. Emerald Fennell’s take on Cinderella is to make her a goth in a picture-perfect, beauty-obsessed town and the first thing we see this Cinders do is graffiti a statue of Prince Charming (who is missing presumed dead and the brother of her best pal – apparently being a goth also means being a heartless bitch…). Continue reading “Review: Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre”

News: World Premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella set for 25 August 2021

The Really Useful Group today announce that, after a period of enforced closure, the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella will be on Wednesday 25 August. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, written by Academy Award winning Emerald Fennell (Best Original Screenplay Oscar in April 2021) and with lyrics from David Zippel, the brand new musical will resume performances at the Gillian Lynne Theatre on Wednesday 18 August. Previews initially began on Friday 25 June 2021, before another period of closure due to Covid-19 isolation protocols. Continue reading “News: World Premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella set for 25 August 2021”

First look at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella

By hook or by crook, Andrew Lloyd Webber was going to get Cinderella to the ball and the show is now in previews, albeit with the social distancing that he had previously promised to get himself locked up over. Now the posturing is over, the attention can turn to the show, with a new score by the lord, plus lyrics by David Zippel and a script from Killing Eve’s Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell.

Carrie Hope Fletcher is the lead but it is Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Rebecca Trehearn for whom I’m most excited. These tasters pics from Johan Persson give an idea of how the show looks at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, revealing some amazing costume work.

Continue reading “First look at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella”

News: Cinderella reveals the full cast who will be going to the ball

The Really Useful Group has announced the full cast for the forthcoming production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Academy Award winning Emerald Fennell (Best Original Screenplay Oscar at last Sunday’s ceremony) and lyrics from David Zippel. The brand new musical will open at the Gillian Lynne Theatre on Wednesday 14 July 2021, with previews from Friday 25 June 2021.

Joining the previously announced cast will be Rebecca Trehearn, who will play The Queen, Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin as Cinderella’s stepsisters Marie and Adele and Gloria Onitiri, who will play The Godmother. They join Carrie Hope Fletcher, as title character Cinderella in the highly anticipated new production, as well as Ivano Turco as Prince Sebastian and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt playing The Stepmother. Continue reading “News: Cinderella reveals the full cast who will be going to the ball”

Blogged: long-running shows and long-running blogs – what does the future hold

I revisit long-runners The Mousetrap, Les Misérables and Wicked, and come to a decision (of sorts) about the future of this blog

“Here’s to you and here’s to me”

Well 2019 has been an interesting year so far and one full of significance – I’ve turned 40, this blog has turned 10 and it’s all got me in a reflective mood. Personally, professionally, is this what I want to be doing? Do quote a Netflix show I haven’t even seen, does all this bring me joy…? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve revisited a few long-running shows in the West End to consider what cost longevity. 

The longest running show in the West End is The Mousetrap – 66 years old with over 27,000 performances and their answer to keeping going is to not change a single bit – has the show even ever cast a person of colour? My limited research suggests not… On the one hand, it’s a policy that does seem to have worked and that record is a mighty USP, although does the number of empty seats at the St Martin’s that afternoon suggest a waning of interest finally? Continue reading “Blogged: long-running shows and long-running blogs – what does the future hold”

Review: Chess, London Coliseum

Nobody’s on nobody’s side – an all-star cast can’t save this game of Chess from itself, for me at least

“From square one I’ll be watching all sixty-four”

It’s taken over 30 years for Chess to return to the West End (though it was seen at the Union in 2013) and though it has a huge amount of resource thrown at it in Laurence Connor’s production for English National Opera, it doesn’t necessarily feel worth the wait. An 80’s mega-musical through and through with an intermittently cracking score from ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Richard Nelson’s book hasn’t aged particularly well and bears the hallmarks of the  substantial tinkering it has had at every opportunity.

It’s not too hard to see why it has needed the tinkering. The mix of Cold War politics told through the prism of rival US and Soviet chess Grandmasters, love triangles and power ballads is a tricky one to get right and part of the problem seems to be just how seriously to take it all. On the one hand, the chess matches are backgrounded with montages of the real-life tensions of the 80s; on the other, scenes that take us through the various locations of the tournaments are a cringeworthy riot of cultural stereotyping that revel in their utter kitsch. Continue reading “Review: Chess, London Coliseum”

Review: Titanic, Southwark Playhouse

“Possibly she won’t go down 
Possibly she’ll stay afloat
Possibly all this could come to an end
On a positive note…”

Between them, producer Danielle Tarento and director Thom Southerland have been responsible for some of London’s best small-scale musical revivals of recent years, so it was with interest that their production of the 1997 show Titanic was announced as the Southwark Playhouse’s first musical in its new premises. It won Tony Awards though little critical favour on Broadway, yet timed itself well to ride on the coat-tails of the extraordinary success of James Cameron’s film of the same story which opened some six months later. And as such an enduringly popular tale, Maury Yeston’s music and lyrics and Peter Stone’s book thus have much to battle against to make its own mark.

Based on real passengers and the accounts of survivors, Stone’s book focuses in on a number of couples travelling in different parts of the boat, which means that the emphasis lands heavily on the class divisions onboard. A decent decision one might think but in populating the worlds of first class, second class and third class, all within the first half, the show already feels doomed to sink. There’s just simply too many characters for us to process, never mind genuinely empathise with, and though a hard-working ensemble strive excellently to differentiate their various characters (with some surely sterling backstage help) it does take a while to be entirely sure who is who. Continue reading “Review: Titanic, Southwark Playhouse”

Film Review: Les Misérables (2012)

“Life has dropped you at the bottom of the heap”

For many people, myself included, it is nigh on impossible to approach a film version of stage behemoth Les Misérables with a blank slate. It’s been a mainstay of the musical theatre world since its 1985 London debut – it is most likely the show I have seen the most times throughout my lifetime – and after celebrating its 25th anniversary with an extraordinarily good touring production, has been riding high with a revitalised energy. So Tom Hooper’s film has a lot to contend with in terms of preconceptions, expectations and long-ingrained ideas of how it should be done. And he has attacked it with gusto, aiming to reinvent notions of cinematic musicals by having his actors sing live to camera and bringing his inimitable close-up directorial style to bear thus creating a film which is epic in scale but largely intimate in focus.

In short, I liked it but I didn’t love it. I’m not so sure that Hooper’s take on the piece as a whole is entirely suited to the material, or rather my idea of how best it works. Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score has a sweeping grandeur which is already quasi-cinematic in its scope but Hooper never really embraces it fully as he works in his customary solo shots and close-ups into the numbers so well known as ensemble masterpieces.  ‘At The End Of The Day’ and ‘One Day More’ both suffer this fate of being presented as individually sung segments stitched together but for me, the pieces never really added up to more than the sum of their parts to gain the substantial power that they possess on the stage. Continue reading “Film Review: Les Misérables (2012)”