Review: The Drifters Girl, Garrick Theatre

The Drifters Girl is a classic example of the worst type of jukebox musical – a group effort in failing to tell an interesting story whilst putting on a good show

“Everyone supports the Yankees but their players change all the time, so why can’t this be applied to a band?”

I hadn’t intended to go and see The Drifters Girl but I stepped in for an ailing pal as an emergency plus one. And I kinda knew what to expect and much as I appreciate the talents of Beverley Knight, Adam J Bernard, Tarinn Callender, Matt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud, this West End biopic/jukebox combo was just not how I wanted to see those talents showcased. 

Ed Curtis’ book is a prime example of the inferior version of this genre. Presented with the nucleus of a prime piece of storytelling – the life of Faye Treadwell, one of the first African American women to succeed in music management – it then uses the thinnest details of that story to provide linking material between a whole lotta songs. Continue reading “Review: The Drifters Girl, Garrick Theatre”

Some February casting news

Casting announced for But I’m A Cheerleader: The Musical, the Six the musical tour and the National’s touring Hamlet plus the line-up for Roles We’ll Never Play


Photo © Mark Senior

The cast of the Turbine Theatre’s soon-to-arrive But I’m A Cheerleader: The Musical has been announced. Alice Croft leads the cast as high school cheerleader Megan Williams who goes through a sexual awakening and self-realization at the rehabilitation camp where her parents send her when they suspect she is a lesbian.

Joining her are Oliver Brooks (Dad/Larry), Edward Chitticks (Jared/Rock), Damon Gould (André), Tiffany Graves (Mary Brown), Jodie Jacobs (Mom/Lloyd), Lemuel Knights (Mike), Evie Rose Lane (Graham), Harry Singh (Jalal), Jodie Steele (Kimberly/Hilary), Aaron Teoh (Dolph) and Kia-Paris Walcott (Sinead). Continue reading “Some February casting news”

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.

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: Dear Audience coffee table book announced

If you’re still writing your lists for Santa, then Dear Audience could be just what you’re looking for. A theatrical coffee table book filled with over 140 pages showcasing the Arts industry, with exclusive imagery, personalised letters to audiences and much more besides.

There’s a veritable who’s who of stage folk involved, from Sally Ann Triplett, Michael Xavier and Frances Rufelle to Oliver Tompsett, Linzi Hateley and Andy Coxon, and the book has been put together by Sophie Ross and Danny Kaan’s Digi Creative. Pre-orders can be made now and are guaranteed for Christmas delivery.

News: Hiba Elchikhe launches Out Of The Darkness, Into The Spotlight

In collaboration with Nimax and The Theatre Café, West End performer Hiba Elchikhe is thrilled to announce a brand-new musical theatre based web series: Out Of The Darkness, Into The Spotlight.

Bringing a little bit of glitter to the grey, this three-episode series hopes to not only entertain, but shine a light on the performers who are keeping the West End alive, even during lockdown.  Continue reading “News: Hiba Elchikhe launches Out Of The Darkness, Into The Spotlight”

Review: An Officer and a Gentleman, Curve

Emma Williams reconfirms her star status in this 80s musical adaptation of An Officer and a Gentleman at Leicester’s Curve Theatre ahead of a UK tour

“Way to go, Paula! Way to go!”

From its opening number (which provides an unsettling reminder that Status Quo actually had a decent tune or two), this major new musical of An Officer and a Gentleman shimmers with a sense of real quality. Some might demur at the notion of a movie remake peppered with a random assortment of pop songs from the 1980s but the resulting piece of theatre is highly enjoyable.

This is down to the integrity and craft of Nikolai Foster who rightly takes this source material (book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen from his original screenplay) seriously. We may be in 1982 but there’s no jokey visual gags about that decade here, just an over-riding sense of life on the edge for the working class community of Pensacola, Florida, looking on at the US Naval Aviation Training Facility that dominates their city. Continue reading “Review: An Officer and a Gentleman, Curve”

Review: 35mm – A Musical Exhibition, The Other Palace Studio

“Why must we justify? 
Let’s defy their forms and fixtures…”

There’s something about choosing a song cycle as your form that automatically feels like a declaration that the entertainment that lies ahead is going to be a mixed bag, some hits and the possibility of some misses in a willfully diverse collection, loosely connected by an overarching theme. And so it proves with Ryan Scott Oliver’s 35mm: A Musical Exhibition, currently getting a short run in The Other Palace’s studio space.

The hook here is that the 15 songs are each inspired by a photograph taken by Broadway photographer Matthew Murphy, allowing for the exploration of any (and all) aspect of human nature and the adoption of any musical style he wishes. An exponent of new musical theatre writing, Scott Oliver calls to mind something of the complexity of Michael John LaChiusa’s compositions and equally brings the same kind of challenges. Continue reading “Review: 35mm – A Musical Exhibition, The Other Palace Studio”

Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Wilton’s Music Hall

“If they choose to, the company may dump any man”

The historic walls of Wilton’s Music Hall – the last surviving grand music hall in the world – may be old but they are far from old-fashioned. After their major refurb, the shift into becoming a producing venue has seen them adopt a varied multi-disciplinary programme of comedy and music as well as theatre (look out for the Tobacco Factory’s highly-rated Othello coming soon).

Sadly, their current revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – the first major one in this country since its 1963 premiere – falls on the side of the fatally old-fashioned. Director Benji Sperring’s sure touch has seen him work wonders with shows like The Toxic Avenger but here, an inconsistency of tone and performance level means that it sits awkwardly on this august stage. Continue reading “Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Wilton’s Music Hall”