News: Westway’s exciting new release schedule for 2022

Westway Music’s new release schedule for 2022 includes Joe Stilgoe, Rachel John, John Barrowman, Kelly Ellis and Lee Mead

Joe Stilgoe’s stunning new album Theatre is released on Friday 29th April. Recorded in The Netherlands in December with the world famous 64 piece Metropole Orkest and at RAK Studios in London with the Capital Voices Choir, this collection of twelve songs (including three original Joe compositions) is our most ambitious recording project to date.

Get ready for the first single ‘Bring Down The Curtain’, to be released on 8th April and the world premiere of the album at London Barbican on Monday 2nd May where Joe will perform with the equally impressive BBC Concert Orchestra.

Rachel John’s debut album will be available on Friday 8th April, From My Lips To God’s Ear, recorded at The NTA Church, Tooting, London.

The album features nine hymns and was originally a live stream film made in March 2021 by Ramin Karimloo for his Mercy Productions. The first single from the album, ‘Blessed Assurance’, is released worldwide on 18th March.

Rachel will be appearing at the Rise Up With The Arts concert at Alexandra Palace, London on World Theatre Day (March 27th) alongside artists including Adam Lambert, James Morrison, Hannah Waddingham and Heather Small.

John Barrowman has signed a two album worldwide deal with Westway and will commence recording his new album in London in early April. Produced by long time collaborator Matt Brind and recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra the album will be pure classic musical theatre – they will be revealing the song list over the coming months and filming the recordings so sit tight for more news!!!

This autumn will see the release of the new Kerry Ellis album. This will be her 3rd solo album & promises to be the best yet! Widely regarded as the biggest ticket in U.K. theatre, Kerry has one of the greatest & most unique voices in the world of theatre. This album sees her embark on her first ever originals albums in addition to some cleverly cultivated covers under the guidance of Grammy nominated producer Mike Stevens (Annie Lennox, James Morrison, ELO, 10cc). Kerry has spent the last year in the studio working with songwriters such as Frank Wildhorn, John Beck, Jess Greenfield (High Flying Birds) & James Taylor to put together a top class country rock album which takes her songwriting and vocals to a whole new level.

Spring is nearly here and our first Westway Sessions series is launching on 9th May at the amazing new PIANO SMITHFIELD, London with an opening night featuring Rob Houchen and Emma Kingston. Every week we will play host to some of the best names in musical theatre performing in an intimate surrounding. Get ready for shows featuring Rachel John, Alice Fearn, John Owen-Jones, Kelly Mathieson, Jenna Lee James, Cassidy Janson and Lee Mead and a chance to meet the team behind the label!!

Lee Mead will be performing a short series of concerts with his band at The Pheasantry, Chelsea Thursday 17th – Sunday 20th March.

There are still a limited number of tickets available and for anyone who hasn’t yet purchased a copy of the Live At London Palladium DVD/CD Lee will be signing copies in person along with a chance to purchase some of the limited edition merchandise produced for the show.

February musicals news catch up

Catching up on the news for some forthcoming musicals: the UK tour of Singin’ in the Rain, The Love Revue in London, the Gaiety Musical Festival in Warwickshire and Broadway’s Funny Girl

Chichester Festival Theatre and Stage Entertainment’s production of Singin’ in the Rain is gearing up for major UK and Ireland 2022 tour and has just revealed its cast. Leading this glorious production are Sam Lips as Don Lockwood Charlotte Gooch as aspiring actress Kathy Selden; Ross McLaren  as Don’s slapstick sidekick Cosmo Brown and Jenny Gayner as the strangulated silver-screen siren, Lina Lamont.

Across the tour, they will be reunited with their Sadler’s Wells co-stars who make special guest appearances at select dates. Faye Tozer will reprise her role as Lina Lamont in Canterbury, Woking, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh and Newcastle Kevin Clifton will reprise his role as Cosmo Brown in Bristol, Cardiff, Southampton, Liverpool and Glasgow. And Adam Cooper returns to the show with his legendary performance of Don Lockwood in Woking, Manchester, Glasgow and Plymouth. Continue reading “February musicals news catch up”

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”

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”

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 update for Christmas theatre in London

Regions across the UK were hoping to win the lottery but with the news of Tier 2 (for now) for London, here’s some Christmas theatre news 

The Donmar Warehouse announces today that it will present a special concert online to mark the festive season. LOOKING A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS will be performed in the beautiful setting of St Paul’s Church (affectionately known as The Actors’ Church), in the heart of Covent Garden and premiere online for free on the Donmar’s YouTube channel on Wednesday 16 December, 7.30pm. The concert will be captioned, and an audio introduction will be available in partnership with Vocaleyes.

This hour-long concert of musical numbers, sketches and seasonal poetry will be directed by Simon Evans (Staged, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui) with musical direction by Nigel Lilley (Piaf, Caroline, or Change) and production design by Grace Smart (My Beautiful Laundrette, One Night in Miami). Continue reading “News update for Christmas theatre in London”

TV Review: Motherland (Series 2)

The second series of Motherland continues to peel back layers of articifice around cultural ideas of motherhood – still bruisingly comic but sometimes just bruising

“Life’s too short to dick about with aubergines”

There’s a boldness to this second series of Motherland that is sometimes breath-taking. The show, created by Sharon Horgan, G*a*a* L*n*h*n, Helen Linehan and Holly Walsh, has never been sentimental about motherhood, brutally comic about the varying difficulties of being a parent/partner/employee/friend all at the same time and being utterly unafraid to show its characters failing at one if not more of them on an episodal basis.  

This second season though, all now available to watch on t’iPlayer, tightens the screws even more, really pushing out the limits of what these people are willing to inflict on others in the name of just getting through the day. It makes for a bracing watch but even I was wondering whether the brutality shouldn’t be reined in just a bit… Continue reading “TV Review: Motherland (Series 2)”

Album Reviews: Dan Burton – Broadway Melodies / Patti LuPone – Don’t Monkey With Broadway / Kyle Riabko – Richard Rodgers Reimagined


Something of an undersung talent in this country (all his top gigs have taken place in Paris, or Kilworth), Dan Burton is nevertheless leading man material, and his debut album Broadway Melodies is proof thereof. Short and sweet at ten concise tracks, Burton swoons and slides effortlessly through the Great American Songbook. 

Highlights include the happiest of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’s, a most elegant sway through Camelot’s ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’, and a chirpy duet on ‘Well, Did You Evah?’ with Lee Mead, a palpable warmth of friendship apparent throughout. Also good is The Pajama Game‘s ‘Hey There’, perfectly crooned and symptomatic of the good feeling suffused through this record. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Dan Burton – Broadway Melodies / Patti LuPone – Don’t Monkey With Broadway / Kyle Riabko – Richard Rodgers Reimagined”

How to solve a problem like a compilation – my alternative Unmasked

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Unmasled

I make my own suggestions about interpretations of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs that could have been included on his new compilation album Unmasked

“They must have excitement, and so must I”

In a world of Spotify and iTunes and other online music services, compilation albums ought to have died a death. But the enduring success of the Now That’s What I Call Music series puts the lie to that, showing that while the idea of curating your own content is tempting, many of us prefer to let someone else do it for us.

So Andrew Lloyd Webber’s decision to release new anthology Unmasked is a canny one in that respect (read my review here), tapping into the desire to have a nicely pleasant set of musical theatre tunes to pop on in the car. And as with any compilation, it’s as much about what hasn’t been included as what has, that stands out. Continue reading “How to solve a problem like a compilation – my alternative Unmasked”

Album Review: Rachel Tucker – On The Road (Deluxe)

“Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?”

Proving that you don’t need to win the reality show that you’re in to set your career, and that it’s your talent that matters, Rachel Tucker’s success is testament to just how far hard work and a hella big voice can take. Headlining shows in the West End and Broadway, including playing Wicked’s Elphaba in both, 2017 has seen her play a series of dates on a UK tour with musical director Kris Rawlinson, which in turn produced an album – On The Road – which has recently been digitally released with some bonus tracks in a deluxe edition.

Reflecting the diversity of a live show, the record opens with a potency and confidence that could see her take her place among the Rat Pack as she swings confidently through classics like ‘Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today)’ and ‘The Candyman’. New musical theatre gets a look in with the searching emotion of Dear Evan Hansen’s ‘Waving Through A Window’ and then the intensity is dialled down for a moment with Randy Newman’s heartbreaker ‘When She Loved Me’. Continue reading “Album Review: Rachel Tucker – On The Road (Deluxe)”