10 top theatrical moments of 2021

As distinct from my favourite shows of the year, this list celebrates the fact that sometimes the good and the not-so-good co-exist right next to each – some of my favourite moments.

For reference, here’s my 2020 list, 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Helen McCrory, in memoriam
I still don’t really have the words to talk about how sad the passing of Helen McCrory is, such a favourite actor of mine for so long. But what was joyful was hearing the absolute esteem in which seemingly every one of her colleagues held her, a testament to the person as well as the performer.

Being scared, by women
After having declared that scary theatre just didn’t work for me, the Terrifying Women made me eat my words in quite some style with their Halloween special. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2021”

News: new musical theatre record label launched

Neil O’Brien Entertainment Launches Westway Music – a new musical theatre record label based in London whose initial signings include Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Kerry Ellis & Lee Mead

Westway Music is a new music and film platform dedicated to the music of theatre, from London’s West End through to New York’s Broadway and beyond. Formed by Neil O’Brien, the label has so far signed musical theatre stars Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Samantha Barks, Lee Mead, Joe Stilgoe and Cassidy Janson.

The label launches on November 12th with the release of Frozen star Samantha Barks’ brand-new studio album Into The Unknown. Covering songs from Broadway, West End and film musicals alike and with a couple of duets thrown in for good measure, it’s bound to be a corker, especially if her accomplished debut is anything to go by. Continue reading “News: new musical theatre record label launched”

News: live shows at the Hippodrome and Cadogan Hall

Tickets now available for a series of new live shows at
Lolas Underground at The Hippodrome Casino in October, November and December 2021.

OCTOBER 2021
Wednesday 6th October – 8pm – David O’Reilly
Thursday 14th October – 7pm – Joe McElderry
Wednesday 20th October – 8.00pm – Hayley TamaddonNOVEMBER 2021

Monday 1st November – 8.00pm – Maria Coyne
Wednesday 3rd November – 8.00pm – Jo O’Meara
Tuesday 23rd November – 8.00pm – Kerry Ellis
Monday 29th November – 8.00pm – Lizzie Bea
DECEMBER 2021

Thursday 2nd December – 7.00pm – Michael Mather
Monday 6th December – 8.00pm – Evie Rose Lane
Tuesday 7th December – 8.00pm – Emma WIlliams
Thursday 9th December – 7.00pm – Sophie Louise Dann
Sunday 12th December – 2.30pm – Alice Fearn
Tuesday 14th to Thursday 15th December – 7.30pm  – Christina Bianco
Monday 20th December – 8.00pm – Danielle Steers
Tuesday 21st December – 8.00pm – The Girls From OZ

Plus Jenna Russell, Keala Settle, Shoshana Bean, and Jessica Vosk all playing Cadogan Hall.

 

Review: Closer Than Ever, BroadwayHD

Starring Lee Mead, Kerry Ellis and more, this streaming production of revue Closer Than Ever makes a good impression on BroadwayHD

“I know something that people don’t know”

A revue is always tricky to review. As a random collection of songs by the same composer, unconnected by a book as in a conventional musical, they can be a bit scattershot, relying on directorial vision to provide some kind of thematic consistency that provides a satisfying cohesiveness. This new production of Maltby and Shire’s Closer Than Ever just about gets there, though it occasionally struggles to break through the digital form.

The promotional blurb promises to “delve into the trials and tribulations of modern love”, a rather bold claim given some of these songs date as far back as 1983. But to their credit, musically they freshen up well under Nick Barstow’s assured musical direction. And many matters of the heart are timeless, so there isn’t too much staleness around subject or lyrical content, sexy secretaries aside. Continue reading “Review: Closer Than Ever, BroadwayHD”

Broadway Baby book receives all-star reading

An all-star cast has come together for a very special virtual reading of the new best-selling illustrated book Broadway Baby. The book has been written by West End and Broadway producer Russell Miller with Judith A. Proffer and was originally released in October 2020. 

The online event has brought together a plethora of stars of stage and screen including Catherine Tate, Matt Henry MBE, Sharon D Clarke MBE, Kerry Ellis, Adam Cooper, Simon-Anthony Rhoden, Jo Servi, Claire Sweeney, Madalena Alberto, Norman Bowman and Suzanne Shaw. Continue reading “Broadway Baby book receives all-star reading”

Book Review: Dear Audience

Just a quickie for this as the book is almost sold out now, but Sophie Ross and Danny Kaan’s coffee-table book Dear Audience is such a beautiful book that I’d encourage you to go and purchase one of the few remaining copies. Striving to photographically celebrate the arts industry from a wide range of performers through producers, MDs and writers, it is a nicely high-quality publication that matches that aim. 

In the interest of fairness, I can’t pick favourites from the many many names featured here, just look at the tags to see the impressive roll-call. What really elevates the book though is the inclusion of heartfelt letters from some of the participants, adding a really personal note to the whole endeavour, reminding us of the personal cost of the pandemic alongside what it has done to the sector as a whole. Track down those last copies now.

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Six: Showstoppers

Danny Mac, Kerry Ellis and Layton Williams star in The Theatre Channel – Episode Six: Showstoppers, with added Antonio Banderas

“Let’s go on with the show”

The beauty of so many theatrical things going digital is that it is now harder to properly miss out on something. Episode Six of The Theatre Channel, subtitled Showstoppers, aired last month but I let it slip me by – fortunately it is available on demand so in advance of dipping into its newest Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute, I gave it a shot.

And I’m glad I did, as it very much indulged my inner theatrical nerd by stretching its definition of showstopper way beyond the Phantom and Les Mis classics you might have expected them to plump for. Instead, we get hits from the likes of The Last Five Years, Sideshow, If/Then and Annie Get Your Gun, proving that wonders well beyond the West End hits. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Six: Showstoppers”

Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium

Celebrating his 40th birthday in quite some style and with quite the guest list, Lee Mead at the London Palladium made for a great night

“I’ll make you so sure about it”

I spent my 40th birthday eating as many Michelin-starred meals as I could hoodwink people into treating me to but being a much more genial sort, Lee Mead celebrated his by making a long-awaited return to live performance. Lee Mead at the London Palladium was his first concert in 18 months and in some ways, it was almost worth the wait.

With time on his hands, he has been able to come up with a beautifully balanced setlist with MD Adam Dennis. One which pays tribute to the shows that have made his career thus far, one reflects songs that have inspired him but above all, one which demonstrates love. Love for music, love for his friends and family, love for the act of performing to which he is so clearly accustomed. Continue reading “Review: Lee Mead at the London Palladium”

News: Well-Behaved Women take over Cadogan Hall

Producers Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson have announced a production of Carmel Dean’s song cycle, entitled Well-Behaved Women, to be performed at Cadogan Hall on 3rd September and directed by none other than Julie Atherton. The show explores how the behaviours and attitudes of leading ladies throughout history have changed the world today and thus features the likes of Boudicca, Cleopatra and Mary Magdalene.

The line-up features Maisey Bawden as Lady Liberty, Anna-Jane Casey as Billie Jean King and Janet Armstrong, Janie Dee as Eleanor Roosevelt, Nicole Raquel Dennis as Eve, Hiba Elchikhe plays Cleopatra and Malala Yousafzai, Kerry Ellis as Boudicca, Gabriela García as Frida Kahlo, Cassidy Janson as Virginia Woolf, Rachel John as Maya Angelou, Linda John-Pierre as Harriet Tubman and Rachael Wooding as Mary Magdalene.

News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns

Following acclaim for their spectacular musical-packed digital series, Adam Blanshay Productions’ The Theatre Channel is back with a sixth episode, featuring more theatrical legends and musical magic! The new episode, entitled ‘Showstoppers’, will kickstart proceedings with incredible performances from major West End talent including Danny Mac (Sunset Boulevard; Pretty Woman The Musical), Kerry Ellis (Wicked; We Will Rock You) and Layton Williams (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; RENT). The series will be available to stream in a new partnership with Stream.Theatre from Friday 30th April, with tickets for Episode 6 now on sale.

Further talent involved includes dynamic sister duo Amber Davies (9 to 5; Love Island) and Jade Davies (Les Misérables; The Phantom of the Opera) as Side Show’s conjoined twins, alongside
Katie Deacon (Mary Poppins; An American In Paris) showcasing the original A Chorus Line choreography by Michael Bennett. The track for this stunning rendition of ‘Music and the Mirror’ has been provided by Antonio Banderas’ Malaga-based Theatre company Teatro del Soho, following their acclaimed Spanish-language revival. Academy Award and Tony nominee Antonio Banderas will also be sharing his knowledge of the production in an extra special exclusive interview for The Theatre Channel, featured in the episode. Continue reading “News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns”