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: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre

Be More Chill is a couple of hours of enjoyable, escapist fun at the Shaftesbury Theatre

“I am not the one who the story’s about”

Through no fault of its own, I just decided that I didn’t need Be More Chill in my life when it opened last year at The Other Palace, put it down to me trying to see less… And since that happened in a way more drastic manner than anyone could have foreseen, I had to say yes when the show announced its reboot for a summer season at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

And I’m so glad I did, as I’d been doing myself out of a really fun show. Joe Tracz’s book borrows heavily from traditions of high school melodramas and social outcasts learning life lessons but it swerves the po-faced sanctimony of the likes of Dear Evan Hansen and dives headlong into the pulpy thrills of the likes of Little Shop of Horrors, resulting in something daftly enjoyable. Continue reading “Review: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre”

Review: Disenchanted

Musical revue Disenchanted takes a deeper look at the lives of Disney princesses and whether happy ever after is all that

“One more once upon a time and I swear I’ll go insane”

Revisiting fairytale endings and reclaiming female historical narratives will be familiar to fans of Into the Woods and SIX but Dennis T Giacino’s Disenchanted attempts to tackle both in an ambitious if patchy musical comedy. Returning to some of the characters so familiar from our storybooks, the show gives them new voice to explain what life as a ‘princess’ is really and how the stories we’ve been told don’t necessarily reflect ‘reality’.

In some ways, this is powerfully effective. You can’t help but hear echoes of Thandiwe Newton’s recent decision in Badroulbadour’s story of how her name and ethnicity were changed in order to become a secondary character in Aladdin. Or nod at Mulan’s recognition that the reason she’s one of the only princesses not to end up with a partner is because she’s a lesbian. Throw in commentary on typical cup size and waist measurements and you see how much social conditioning has gone on through this mode of storytelling. Continue reading “Review: Disenchanted”

Musical news aplenty

Following its opening at the Watermill Theatre, a critically acclaimed sell-out tour in 2019, a highly successful Christmas season at The Other Palace in 2019, a Grammy nomination and 3 Olivier Award nominations, Amélie The Musical arrives in the heart of the West End this summer. Following the government roadmap announcement, tickets are on sale now for a socially distanced audience at the Criterion Theatre from Thursday 20 May. Olivier-nominee Audrey Brisson (The Elephantom, Pinocchio and Pericles (National Theatre), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Kneehigh), and The Grinning Man
(Bristol Old Vic)), will return to the role of ‘Amélie’.

The five–time Oscar®-nominated film will be brought to life once again by a cast of actor-musicians and set to a critically acclaimed re-orchestrated score. With music by Hem’s Daniel Messé, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messé and book by Craig Lucas, Amélie The Musical is directed by Michael Fentiman. The full cast includes Sioned Saunders as Gina, Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Georgette, Rachel Dawson as Amandine/Philomene, Oliver Grant as Lucien/Mysterious Man, Chris Jared as Nino Quincampoix, Caolan McCarthy as Hippolito/Elton John, Samuel Morgan-Grahame as Joseph/Fluffy, Kate Robson-Stuart as Suzanne, Jack Quarton as Blind Beggar, Jez Unwin as Raphael/Bretodeau and Johnson Willis as Collignon/Dufayel. Nuwan Hugh Perera, Miiya Alexandra, Robyn Sinclair and Matthew James Hinchliffe complete the ensemble. Continue reading “Musical news aplenty”

News: the West End starts to make plans…

With a ‘roadmap’ in place, the West End is starting to make plans for a summer that might look something close to normal

© Tristram Kenton

The Prince of Egypt will return to the Dominion Theatre from 1st July, operating under socially distanced restrictions until 4th September, after when they intend to return to ‘normal’! The show has also extended its run until Saturday 8th January 2022.

The production has confirmed that the entire cast and orchestra of almost 60 artists, will be presented in its original form at all performances. The cast of 43 is led by: Luke Brady (Moses), Liam Tamne (Ramses), Christine Allado (Tzipporah), Alexia Khadime (Miriam), Joe Dixon (Seti), Debbie Kurup (Tuya), Mercedesz Csampai (Yocheved), Adam Pearce (Hotep), Tanisha Spring (Nefertari) and Silas Wyatt-Barke (Aaron). Further casting is to be revealed. Continue reading “News: the West End starts to make plans…”

News: the 21st Annual WhatsOnStage Awards arrive on 14th March

The 21st Annual WhatsOnStage Awards are forging ahead, with a ceremony and concert recorded at the Turbine Theatre and streaming on Sunday 14th March. Tickets available here.

2020 being what it was means things will have to be different and the concert will be shining a light on a mixture of performances from shows that had their runs disrupted by the pandemic, those created during lockdown and those to look forward to in the future. Continue reading “News: the 21st Annual WhatsOnStage Awards arrive on 14th March”

Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre

If you’re feeling festive and missing musical theatre, then All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre is the place to be

“But it’s not like Christmas at all
I remember when you were here”

Thespie’s Reunited series has been a fun way of getting your musicals fix over the past few weeks and in a rather clever move, they’ve managed to put together a Christmas special featuring the companies already featured, plus some brand new special guests. So All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre so we get to see Team Schwartz and Team Girl Power again and my personal faves, Team Juliet as they tackle a range of festive classics.

For me though, it was the promise of concerts to come that proved most exciting. The tight harmonies of Heathers alumni Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams were a particular delight on both ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ and the women of Pretty Woman are in wonderfully high spirits on both ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Santa Baby’ so consider my appetite whetted for their forthcoming gigs. Continue reading “Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre”

Review: Girl Power

Alumni of SIX continue their enduring relationship to each other and to music with a sparkling new concert

“I will try and guide you
To better times and brighter days”

Regardless of how you feel about SIX The Musical, it is impossible to ignore the fire it has lit in so many people. From the devoted audiences it has inspired to ensure the show’s inordinate successes to the casts of ferociously talented women it has showcased (and whom have been particularly hard done by as the show has tried and tried to restart). Seven of those women have reunited here as part of Thespie’s Reunited season to give us Girl Power, a concert that slides effortlessly through girl bands from across the decades.

And it is as playful and punchy as you’d expect as Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Grace Mouat, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarnéia Richard-Noel show off their considerable singing (and rapping) talents but more crucially, combine beautifully into a group that truly understands the power in coming together. There’s no sense of anyone needlessly trying to grab the spotlight or the lion’s share of the lead vocals in the tradition of so many girl groups, rather a democratic split that seems to reflect the genuine affection they hold for each other. Continue reading “Review: Girl Power”

News: Thespie to stream concerts throughout December

Theatre discovery platform Thespie has announced the Reunited Series, bringing together more than two dozen of the UK’s top musical theatre artists for a series of filmed concerts premiering throughout December.

Developed by Aimie Atkinson, Thespie’s Creative Producer and the Olivier nominated star of Pretty Woman and SIX), each concert presents ensemble music performances (filmed in COVID-secure London venues), and ranges from musical theatre hits, to pop music, to favourite Christmas songs. The program of each concert has been developed by the artists involved and will also include intimate interview footage. Continue reading “News: Thespie to stream concerts throughout December”

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.