Review: The Fabulist Fox Sister

New musical theatre gets haunted by the intriguing charms and waspish humour of The Fabulist Fox Sister

“Tonight is going to be different”

There’s something just a little bit perverse about the scheduling of new musical The Fabulist Fox Sister, seeing its third and final performance up against Strictly Come Dancing’s much-heralded Musicals Week. Of course, any spotlight on the world of musical theatre is to be welcomed in these trying times and it was nice to see the likes of fresher shows Waitress and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie alongside the all-too-predictable Phantom. But the continued focus on big West End shows does make it trickier for small shows to break through, to reach those audiences who’ve been conditioned to expect crashing chandeliers at every turn.

With music by Luke Bateman and book and lyrics by Michael Conley The Fabulist Fox Sister ably demonstrates that a reduction in scale doesn’t necessarily equate a loss in impact. Indeed, the particular intimacy gained in a live-streamed environment like that far outweighs the experience of straining to see from the balcony of any number of West End venues. Taking the true story of Kate Fox – who with her sisters pioneered the movement of spiritualism – as a starting point and fashioning from it an entertaining monologue with songs, this is a thrilling taste of what musicals can also be. Continue reading “Review: The Fabulist Fox Sister”

News: winter 2020 season at Southwark Playhouse

Southwark Playhouse continue to knock it out of the park with their programming with new musicals livestreaming and a revival of one of the best new plays of the last 10 years – Nick Payne’s Constellations

CONSTELLATIONS
Written by Nick Payne. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle. Lighting design by Jamie Platt. Sound design by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite. Set and costume design by Lee Newby.
Cast: Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo and Oliver Johnstone.

Dates: Thursday 26 November – Saturday 19 December 2020­­­

One relationship. Infinite possibilities.

Nick Payne’s Constellations explores how even the smallest change in our lives can dramatically alter the course we take. It is a spellbinding exploration of love, science, heartbreak and hope.

Premiering at the Royal Court in 2012, Constellations went on to receive critical acclaim in the West End and on Broadway. It returns to London this Christmas, starring Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo (Three Sisters – NT, Been So Long) and Oliver Johnstone (All My Sons – Old Vic, On Chesil Beach), directed by Jonathan O’Boyle (The Last Five YearsThe View Upstairs).

Winner of the 2012 Evening Standard Award for Best New Play, Constellations speaks to the power of human connection against all odds. Continue reading “News: winter 2020 season at Southwark Playhouse”

Interview: founder of New UK Musicals and composer extraordinaire Darren Clark

As new digital sheet music store New UK Musicals launches, I talk with multi-award winning composer & lyricist Darren Clark about the site and his career

Darren Clark has been responsible for two of my favourite shows of recent years in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Wicker Husband so I was interested to discover that he has been keeping very busy during lockdown, creating New UK Musicals

New UK Musicals is an online platform where you will be able to purchase sheet music from some of the best new musical theatre writers working in the UK today. It’s a digital store where performers and fans can listen to online samples, purchase fresh, new songs and also connect with the writers who create them.

Designed and built during lockdown, the site launches with a competition for performers who will be able to buy and download selected songs from the site and upload videos of themselves performing to New UK Musicals. First prize includes a number of free downloads from the site as well as the opportunity to perform alongside West End stars in a special edition of Adam Lenson’s SIGNAL Online Concert Series celebrating the work of these writers on the 16th June.

Writers represented on the site include: Finn Anderson (Islander), Rebecca Applin (Jabberwocky), Bateman & Conley (The Sorrows of Satan), Ed Bell (My 80 Year Old Boyfriend), Darren Clark (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Elliot Davis (Loserville), Gus Gowland (Pieces of String), Teresa Howard (I Capture the Castle), Richy Hughes (Superhero), Carl Miller (Wasted), Noisemaker (My Left Right Foot), Eamonn O’Dwyer (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Susannah Pearse (Jabberwocky), Victoria Saxton (Marriage a la Mode), Amir Shoenfeld (Benny in Beta), Emily Rose Simons (Confessions of a Rabbi’s Daughter), Tim Sutton (The Secret Garden), Stiles & Drewe (The Wind in the Willows), Webborn & Finn (The Clockmaker’s Daughter) and Wigmore and Green (Van Winkle). Continue reading “Interview: founder of New UK Musicals and composer extraordinaire Darren Clark”

Review: H.R.Haitch, Union Theatre

New musical H.R.Haitch at the Union Theatre has a feel of knockabout fun which begs not to be taken too seriously

“We are hoping for a happy outcome”

As Kensington Palace gears up for one royal wedding, Iris Theatre are jumping down the aisle first with their musical take on stately nuptuals H.R.Haitch, now playing at the Union Theatre. And though it features a mixed-race woman (like Meghan) marrying a prince, such is the development time for musicals that is actually the fact that she is a ‘commoner’ (like Kate, apparently) that proves the inspiration here.

For aspiring canapé-chef Chelsea is Barking born and bred, and a strident anti-monarchist to boot. And she’s pretty excited about her suspicions that her nice-but-dim boyf Bertie is going to propose! Thing is, Bertie is actually Prince Albert – heir to the British throne and (for reasons I’m not sure we ever really understood) living incognito among the people. Will Queen Mary accept her? Can the older Princess Victoria thwart the line of succession? And what is it with politicians and pigs…? Continue reading “Review: H.R.Haitch, Union Theatre”

News: Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor All Stars album is released

The weather outside might be frightful but new musical theatre is always delightful, especially when it is festive-themed. Following a target-smashing Kickstarter campaign this October, Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor All Stars album is released today, just in time for the holiday season. Featuring performances by Olivier Award-winner Rebecca Trehearn, Jon Robyns, Tori Allen-Martin, the Italia Conti School Choir and many more, the album is packed full of music by selected winners and runners-up of Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor from 2013-16.

Xmas Factor is Iris Theatre’s annual showcase of the very best new musical theatre, around the theme of Christmas. Writers are invited to send in a song which is selected by the programming team to continue in the competition, culminating in a Panel Award and Audience Award at the concert. This year’s event, All Stars, features the best of those finalists from across the last four years, including winners and runners up of the two awards – all of which feature on the album. Songs cover an eclectic mix of themes from Korean festivities in ‘Christmas in Pyongyang’ to the best Yuletide movies in ‘Christmas Films Again’ and the thoughts of Jesus’s dad himself in ‘Joseph’s Lullaby’. Continue reading “News: Iris Theatre’s Xmas Factor All Stars album is released”

Review: St John’s Night, Jermyn Street Theatre

“Don’t forget about the goblin in the attic”

Written early in his career in 1852, Ibsen’s play St John’s Eve (or St John’s Night as it has been retitled here in this translation by James McFarlane) was so poorly received that it was brushed under the carpet somewhat and not even included in his collected works. Following on from last year’s successful version of another neglected Ibsen piece Little Eyolf, director Anthony Biggs returns to the Jermyn Street Theatre to see if lightning can strike twice by giving St John’s Night its UK premiere. This may have been a preview but for me, I’m not so sure that it did succeed, instead reminding us why some plays are left to collect dust.

This is very much an example of the playwright-in-progress , being unlike any other Ibsen play that I know, as it is a fairy-tale comedy, taking influence from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream but putting a decidedly Nordic spin on it. The play is set on a Norwegian farm whose ownership is unclear after the death of Mr Berg. Berg’s second wife lives in one house and is trying to secure the inheritance for her daughter by finding a good marriage and she invites her chosen victim Birk, with two of his friends, to join in their midsummer revels. Berg’s ageing father and naïve daughter live in another, older house on the estate which happens to have a resident goblin upstairs and when the young people decide to take their party up to a mystical hill, the goblin – a Puck-like figure – spikes their drink with a potion that unlocks all sorts of hidden memories. Continue reading “Review: St John’s Night, Jermyn Street Theatre”