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: 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”

Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online

Featuring 18 West End musicals, The Show Must Go On is a concert to remember, featuring a whole host of theatrical talent both on and off the stage

“Just like Dolly Levi, we are back where we belong”

Showcasing 18 West End musicals that are reopening soon or in some cases, have already reopened, The Show Must Go On is a celebratory concert, gathering together so much on- and off-stage theatrical talent in aid of Acting for Others and Fleabag Support Fund.

With Bonnie Langford and Trevor Dion Nicholas hosting and gamely working their way through a multitude of rapid-fire show descriptions, the real MVPs of the night were the orchestra, under Stuart Morley’s direction, and the choir, made up of recent graduates, who enthusiastically put their voices to any number of harmonised accompaniments. Continue reading “Review: The Show Must Go On, Palace Theatre/online”

News: 4 West End shows announce their casts

As a comedian, impressionist, game show host, reality TV star, soap, screen and stage actor, Les Dennis returns to the West End in the multi-award-winning smash hit musical Hairspray the Musical as Wilbur Turnblad having previously performed the role on tour. He stars alongside Michael Ball, who returns to his legendary, Olivier Awardwinning role of Edna Turnblad. Lizzie Bea will star in the iconic role of Tracy Turnblad. Acclaimed West End star Marisha Wallace will take the role of Motormouth. Rita Simons (Eastenders’ Roxy Mitchell) and Jonny Amies (Granchester on ITV; Sex Education on Netflix/Eleven Film) will also join the cast as Velma Von Tussle and Link Larkin respectively.

The full company includes Georgia Anderson, Kimani Arthur, Dermot Canavan, Lori Haley Fox, Mari McGinlay, Ashley Samuels, Michael Vinsen and Imogen Bailey, Pearce Barron, Jordan Benjamin, Joel Cooper, Luke George, Christopher Gopaul, Bradley Judge, Winny Herbert, Lily Laight, Madeleine Lawton, Holly Liburd, Will Luckett, Mireia Mambo, Kody Mortimer, Robyn Rose, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Amy West and Natalie Woods. Continue reading “News: 4 West End shows announce their casts”

News: Crazy Coqs announces May reopening and new program

Crazy Coqs, Soho’s unique live entertainment venue within the Brasserie Zédel complex, announces the re-opening of the venue on 17 May 2021 – pending further government announcements – with a full programme from 17 May – 30 June 2021, offering both live shows and simultaneous live streams for audiences who cannot make it to the venue in-person. Live-streamed shows will be confirmed in April.

The annual Joe Stilgoe + Friends (including Hadley Fraser, The Puppini Sisters, Le Gateau Chocolat), Clare Teal & Jason Robello, Paul Potts, Marisha Wallace, Ria Jones, Grace Dent, Dillie Keane, Ian Shaw and Jay Rayner all feature in this new season. Continue reading “News: Crazy Coqs announces May reopening and new program”

News: I Dare You – Charity Single To Be Released on 16 March

The Make A Difference Trust today announce the release of the charity single I Dare You. The track featuring a host of stars of the West End stage will be released on Tuesday 16 March 2021, to mark the anniversary of the day UK Theatres went dark in 2020.

With an appeal by Vanessa Williams, raising funds for the MAD Covid-19 Emergency relief Fund, singing together for the first time are Aimie Atkinson, Samantha Barks, Sharon D Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Shaun Escoffery, Shanay Holmes, Francesca Jackson, Cassidy Janson, Aisha Jawando, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Jamie Muscato, Eva Noblezada, Natalie Paris, Jay Perry, Louise Redknapp, Oliver Tompsett, Faye Tozer, Sally Ann Triplett, Rachel Tucker, Marisha Wallace and Layton Williams. Continue reading “News: I Dare You – Charity Single To Be Released on 16 March”

Album Reviews: Marisha Wallace – Tomorrow / Shan Ako – Brave Heart / Soviet Zion

A trio of music reviews with Marisha Wallace’s album Tomorrow, Shan Ako’s EP Brave Heart and the original concept album of Soviet Zion

“I’m gonna shine out like a beacon in the night”

Watching some of the most recent musical theatre treats streaming over the last couple of weeks has proved a useful reminder of the need to catch up with the music that some of those performers have been releasing. Marisha Wallace dropped a Christmas EP a few years back but Tomorrow, released through Decca Records, marks her full debut album. Robbed of the chance to round out her run in the pandemic-curtailed Waitress last year, Wallace’s attention turned to curating and creating the inspirational focus for this collection.

The result is a nifty if eclectic blend of musical theatre and pop songs, with a few original tracks thrown in for good measure. And at its best, its soulful power is highly effective. A repurposed ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie, a delicate trip through Kacey Musgrave’s ‘Rainbow’ and the driving pop of ‘Before I Go’ form part of a powerful first half of the album. That level doesn’t quite maintain for me on a Side B that doesn’t demand relistening quite as much but those high spots make this a definite recommendation for your playlists. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Marisha Wallace – Tomorrow / Shan Ako – Brave Heart / Soviet Zion”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Five The Classics of Broadway

The Theatre Channel returns with Episode Five, full of The Classics of Broadway sung by the likes of Bonnie Langford, Gary Wilmot and Marisha Wallace

“Tell me, why should it be true,
That I get a kick out of you”

Over four instalments last year, Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Café’s The Theatre Channel managed the not-inconsiderable feat of finding its niche within the crowded marketplace of streamed theatrical content and also elevating its quality. Such is its quality with its consistently high production values, you really do get the feeling of seeing bona fide musical theatre rather than just another concert.

It doesn’t come easily though and the filming of Episode Five – The Classics of Broadway was hit particularly hard with the double whammy of the third lockdown and director and choreographer Bill Deamer having to shield. But we all know the show must go on and with Thom Southerland being brought in as co-director, this musical journey down the Great White Way arrives in fine form, maintaining that impressive standard. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Five The Classics of Broadway”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Four The Holiday Special

Nipping in just before Santa arrives, The Theatre Channel’s fourth episode delivers festive treats aplenty in The Holiday Special

“If you’re burdened down with trouble
If your nerves are wearing thin…”

With all the uncertainty that has haunted the world of theatre since the pandemic began, there’s something unalterably pleasing about seeing a theatrical enterprise grow from strength to strength at this time. Born out of the explosion in streaming content that emerged in the first lockdown, The Theatre Channel has taken that concept and elevated it to something rather special, so mince pies and buckets of mulled wine all round for everyone at Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Café.

In its half-hourly episodes, it has found focus in its themes (Hallowe’en, rock musicals) and shown generosity in its casting. Starrier names may be the headliners but the decision to introduce the Café Four (comprised of Alyn Hawke, Emily Langham, Sadie-Jean Shirley and Alex Woodward) as a regular ensemble has proven a masterstroke. providing continuity across a diverse range of performances and from episode to episode, but also showcasing their own talents alongside a raft of Olivier winners and nominees. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Four The Holiday Special”