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”

Review: Love Story 10th Anniversary Concert, Cadogan Hall

The 10th Anniversary Concert of Howard Goodall’s gorgeous musical Love Story sees a beautiful reunion for its stars Michael D Xavier and Emma Williams at Cadogan Hall

“They will dance in the puddles
And teach them these tunes”

Delayed from last year by, what else, the pandemic, this 10th Anniversary Concert of Love Story was such a gorgeous way to spend a Sunday evening. I loved Howard Goodall’s musical from the first time I heard it in the West End (and the second) and have followed it ever since, from fringe revivals in London and even to Bolton.

Director Kirk Jameson’s production elevated the show from its billed “concert” staging to something much more involved, if not necessarily the full monty. And with all the emotion and commitment shown by the musical’s original star pairing – Emma Williams and Michael D Xavier – so much of that initial magic was recaptured. Continue reading “Review: Love Story 10th Anniversary Concert, Cadogan Hall”

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

Musicals update November 2021

News about Love Story’s 10th anniversary concert, Bonnie and Clyde in concert, Gatsby the Musical and the return of Sasha Regan’s HMS Pinafore

Erich Segal’s iconic novel Love Story became a much-loved film and, in 2010, a hit West End musical. Now stars reunite, along with the creative team behind the acclaimed Cadogan Hall concert of Howard Goodall’s The Hired Man. Alongside the original West End leads Emma Williams and Michael D Xavier is Michael Matus (Phantom of the Opera, La Cage Aux Folles) who plays the role of Phil. Joining them are Rebecca Caine (Les Misérables, The Sound of Music, Preludes), Simon Green (Titanic, Mrs Henderson Presents) and Jenna Boyd (Come From Away).

The company is completed by Simbi Akande (The Prince of Egypt), Jordan Cunningham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Alison Driver (What’s New Pussycat?), Charlie-Jade Jones (West Side Story), Maximillian Murphy (Parade), and Nikhil Singh Rai (Les Misérables, Mountview). Love Story is simple and poetic. Wealthy Harvard student Oliver falls for artistic Radcliffe student Jenny and they marry against his family’s wishes – a choice that leads to disinheritance. Goodall’s soaring melodies and the late Stephen Clark’s words are sure to tug on the heartstrings in a night not to be missed. Continue reading “Musicals update November 2021”

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 Seven Rodgers and Hammerstein

With powerful performances from Michael Xavier, Josefina Gabrielle and more, plus a sneak peek at the forthcoming Carousel, Episode Seven of The Theatre Channel is a marvellous showcase for Rodgers and Hammerstein

“Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those”

Episode Seven of The Theatre Channel is presented in a co-production with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, as it focus on the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein allows us get a taster of their forthcoming production of Carousel. And not only that, there’s illustrative contributions throughout from Ted Chapin, former president of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Society, lending a real weight to an already entertaining episode.

For the most part, stagings are fairly straight-forward, taking advantage of the lush greenery of Regent’s Park. And when the songs are this good, there’s not much need to that much more. Josefina Gabrielle oozes class as she sashays through Allegro’s ‘The Gentleman is a Dope’ and new graduates Tavio Wright and Ethlinn Rose put the bandstand to good use in a gorgeous ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’, complete with ecstatic dance break. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Seven Rodgers and Hammerstein”

News: The Theatre Channel visits Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Adam Blanshay Productions’ renowned The Theatre Channel is back with a jam-packed Rodgers and Hammerstein special. Embracing the return of live theatre, the episode is a co-production with Regent’s Park Open AirTheatre ahead of their unique take on the classic Carousel this summer.

This brand new partnership will feature an exclusive sneak peek into the making of the upcoming production of Carousel, including behind-the scenes rehearsal footage with Natasha May Thomas and choreographer Drew McOnie. This al fresco hit tells a tragic tale with songs that will stay with you for a lifetime. Continue reading “News: The Theatre Channel visits Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre”

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”

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: #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends release ‘You Will Be Found’

You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends, a fundraising charity single in aid of youth charity The Diana Award, has been released today by Auburn Jam Music to tie in with the start of National Anti-Bullying Week, which runs from 16th-20th November. 

The star-studded single is led by ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen from Wokingham, whose experience of being bullied started the viral #CheerUpCharlie campaign. Charlie is joined on the song by numerous stage and screen stars including Wendi Peters, Layton Williams and Michael Xavier, with Iain Armitage, Michael Ball, Rufus Hound, and Faye Tozer amongst many famous faces reading their supportive messages on the song’s video. Continue reading “News: #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends release ‘You Will Be Found’”