Review: A Chorus Line, Curve Leicester

Adam Cooper and Carly Mercedes Dyer continue a brilliant year for both of them in this vibrant production of A Chorus Line at Curve Leicester

“Maddening poise, effortless whirl”

There’s something almost wilfully perverse about the Curve mounting A Chorus Line as their festive production. For though it may possess one of the all-time great jazz-hands classics in ‘One’, aka the one song most people will know from it, the show is far from the stereotypical luvvie-fest that the too-prevalent preconceptions about musical theatre insist it must be.

For James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante’s book used real-life testimonies to break down the painful realities of the auditioning process and gives us all the blood, sweat and tears of what it takes to make it. And at this final audition for the chorus of a new Broadway show, 17 hopefuls have been shortlisted for 8 places and they have to lay their souls bare if they’ve any chance of sealing the deal. Continue reading “Review: A Chorus Line, Curve Leicester”

Early September theatre news

Full casting has been announced for the brand new stage adaptation of British comedy The Good Life which tours the UK this Autumn. The acclaimed cast will include actress and presenter Preeya Kalidas as ‘Margo Leadbetter’, Dominic Rowan as ‘Jerry Leadbetter’, and Sally Tatum as ‘Barbara Good’, joining the previously announced actor and comedian Rufus Hound as ‘Tom Good’. Also featured will be Nigel Betts and Tessa Churchard.

The new comedy by Jeremy Sams, is based on the classic television series by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey which entertained countless millions in the 1970s and which I have never seen an episode of. Directed by Jeremy Sams, this world premiere production will be the first time that the iconic characters of suburban neighbours the Goods and the Leadbetters will be seen on stage. The Good Life will open at Theatre Royal Bath on 7 October 2021, before dates at Cheltenham Everyman, Salford Lowry, Oxford Playhouse, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre. Continue reading “Early September theatre news”

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: White Pearl, Royal Court

Despite a cracking design, White Pearl doesn’t convince as an effective play at the Royal Court

“It’s just a fun ad. Now the whole world is going crazy”

On the one hand, there’s lots to appreciate about White Pearl, a play about Asian women, written and directed by women of Asian descent and starring them too. Its foregrounding of non-native English voices, subject matter so atypical for the UK, its very programming on a major London stage – this is important stuff.

On the other, it’s not a fantastic piece of writing and as significant as its presence here is – something which should not be left unremarked – nothing is gained by not being frank. Anchuli Felicia King’s play straddles the world of satire and comedy but ultimately satisfies as neither and there’s a reliance on some troubling dramatic tropes. Continue reading “Review: White Pearl, Royal Court”

Review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre with TodayTix

“I’ll do my dance, I’ll make them drink”
 

I’m pretty there’s a clause in the gay contract that means it is illegal to turn down the offer of drinks in the Julie Andrews Room so who was I to resist when the folks at TodayTix invited me to try out their mobile ticketing app by coming along to see Miss Saigon. Founders Merritt Baer and Brian Fenty have had big success on Broadway with their service, offering tickets for a range of shows one week to one hour before showtime and boasting of enabling tickets to be purchased in 30 seconds or less.

And I have to say that they’ve pretty much nailed it. The interface of the app is bright and easy to use (certainly it was on my iPhone6), there’s a wide range of West End shows available and the process of choosing and booking tickets at all price levels is simple and speedy with a little seatmap showing you where in the theatre your selected seats are. It really does streamline the ticket-buying process so that making any last minute decisions to see a show that much easier. Continue reading “Review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre with TodayTix”

Re-review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre

“Why God? Why today?” 

I wasn’t the hugest fan of Miss Saigon first time round as my review from then clearly attests but I’m never one to be entirely closed-minded (though it may not often seem that way…) so when the opportunity to take a friend who had not previously been popped up, I made a return visit to the Prince Edward Theatre. The show is still basking in the glow of recently winning 9 What’s On Stage awards and it is clear that it is attracting a younger and atypically passionate crowd (for a West End show at least). 

That passion cuts both ways though as the overexcited group behind us couldn’t hold back from the flash photography and the young woman in front of me was less enthused than the rest of her party and spent most of the show on Facebook. It makes for a different kind of theatre experience when you’re having to do battle with that kind of behaviour but given my continued lack of engagement with the storyline of this particular musical theatre behemoth, it was as much a distraction for me as anything.  Continue reading “Re-review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre”

Review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre

 
“Hey Joe, try taking a little excursion
You’ll feel good from a little perversion”

There’s a real generational split when it comes to Miss Saigon – a contemporary of such 80s mega-musicals as Phantom and Les Mis, it has comparatively fallen by the wayside in terms of longevity nor has its score really attained the status of a bona fide classic. So there’s a group of people familiar with the show ready and waiting to make comparisons between the original and this major revival at the Prince Edward Theatre, and then there’s the rest of us – me included – for whom this is a new experience.

And as is often the case when expectations have been pumped sky-high (“Box office records broken on the first day!” “The greatest musical ever?!” “Watch out for the helicopter…”), it isn’t immediately clear what all the fuss is about. Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s book is basically Madame Butterfly redux but transplanted to the Vietnam war as GI Chris is loved long-time by Kim, their love then forced apart by the US defeat in Saigon and a reunion, of sorts, organised once he finally discovers that he left more than his heart with Kim that evening… Continue reading “Review: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre”

Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Palace

“Everyone likes to dress up, wear some sequins, get in touch with their feminine side…apart from lesbians that is”

When I found out a great Canadian friend who just happens to be a huge musicals fan was stopping in town briefly in the festive season, I had little doubt of what would be the best thing for us to see: Priscilla Queen of the Desert. For this is not a show about about subtlety: using a carefully judged collection of familiar pop songs, some amazing costumes and a production design team whose maxim was clearly ‘more more more’, this is a fun-packed, crowd-pleasing spectacular that was the perfect anecdote to the horrible weather.

It’s based on the film of the same name, where three ill-matched drag performers take a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs to meet up with the estranged wife and son of one of them, and little has been changed. Of the three leads, Tony Sheldon is superb as the transexual Bernadette, armed with a lifetime’s collection of quick one-liners, a steady grace and an unerring conviction in who she is. The trumpet anecdote is one of the funniest things you will hear all year and Sheldon’s performance holds the show together, elevating it beyond a series of drag turns. Continue reading “Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Palace”