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: 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: Peter Pan, Barn Theatre

A magical team surround Waylon Jacobs in this wondrous ‘one-man’ Peter Pan at the Barn Theatre

“Aren’t you going to do the voices?”

Something about Peter Pan always ends up making me cry. I know this but still, I wasn’t prepared for the way in which Alan Pollock’s adaptation, conceived and directed by Kirk Jameson for the Barn Theatre, completely poleaxed me. It’s a subtle reference that comes out of left field late on during this production, but it is achingly, gorgeously, done, a real reminder of the power of theatre to play with your emotions even during the most familiar of work.

This version of JM Barrie’s classic is billed as a one-man-show, as Waylon Jacob’s father checks into his hotel room and Zooms with his daughter to tell her a bedtime story. And though it takes him a moment to get into it, soon he’s using any and all of the things around him to magic up a storytelling masterclass. Jacob is superb as he embodies all of the characters we know so well, and is aided by a creative team that conjure up an atmosphere that is truly enchanting. Continue reading “Review: Peter Pan, Barn Theatre”

Review: Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz

Check out Wicked alumni Nikki Bentley, Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Alexia Khadime, Liam Tamne and more in Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz

“Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope?”

From Godspell and Pippin to Wicked and The Prince of Egypt, Stephen Schwartz has been composing musicals for more four decades now and so has amassed quite the songbook. So it makes sense that it is to him that Thespie have turned to launch their Reunited Series, a set of four filmed concerts premiering throughout December and featuring some pretty amazing musical theatre talent.

First up is Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz, which gathers together nine alumni of the London production of Wicked, now in its 14th year, to cherry-pick their favourite songs and deliver them in socially-distanced concert style in the swanky Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel. Not only that, there’s a guest appearance from the man himself, Schwartz introducing the gig from his piano with a soaring snatch of Pippin. Continue reading “Review: Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz”

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: Cast announced for The Barn Theatre’s The World Goes ‘Round

The Barn Theatre’s outdoor festival continues full steam apace with Kander and Ebb’s The World Goes ‘Round

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester and Piers Cottee-Jones have announced the casting for their new outdoor production of the Kander & Ebb musical revue The World Goes ‘Round.

The revue, which features songs from Kander & Ebb’s hit musicals including Chicago and Cabaret, will run for two weeks during the Barn Theatre’s Summer outdoor theatre festival Barnfest. Continue reading “News: Cast announced for The Barn Theatre’s The World Goes ‘Round”

Album Review: RE:arrangement – An Album by Nick Barstow

A musical theatre album with a difference, RE:arrangement – An Album by Nick Barstow is refreshingly bold

“I’ve been changed, yes really changed”

Nick Barstow is a multi-hyphenate of a different order – musical director, arranger, and composer, a behind-the-scenes triple threat if you will. And having made a success of his cabaret series RE:arrangement, he’s now released an album RE:arrangement – An Album by Nick Barstow which showcases his gift for reinventing musical theatre standards by the likes of Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Kander & Ebb, with the help of some guest stars including Faye from actual Steps.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the name of the album, some of these arrangements really are quite radical and really serve the purpose of making you look at these songs anew. So I can admire the decision to transpose the elegiac beauty of Ivor Novello’s ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ into full-on Jason Robert Brown territory (or is it more Jonathan Larson…?), delivered with real commitment by Noel Sullivan, whilst still craving the crystalline harmonies of Muriel Barron and Olive Gilbert.It’s just different is all. Continue reading “Album Review: RE:arrangement – An Album by Nick Barstow”

Album Review: Alice Fearn – Where I’ve Been…Where I’m Going

I finally get round to listening to Alice Fearn’s 2016 album Where I’ve Been…Where I’m Going and enjoy it, a lot

“A late night ‘Yes sir’
leads to good press sir”

I’m always pleased to see musical theatre performers trekking a little off the beaten path when it comes to putting together the tracklisting for their albums. As deeply held a connection as they may have to this standard or that, it can get a little wearing to hear the same material regurgitated time and again. So Alice Fearn instantly gets brownie points for her 2016 collection Where I’ve Been…Where I’m Going.

Michel Legrand rubs shoulders with Andrew Lippa, there’s a deep dive into the Kander + Ebb archive, Sondheim is in there but he’s gender-flipped and there’s a track from Smash that reminds me I really need to get around to watching that show. And allowing her inspiration to draw far and wide just adds that extra level of interest, surprise even as in the case of the brassy delights of Frank Wildhorn & Jack Murphy’s ‘Big Time’ which was new to me and an instant fave. Continue reading “Album Review: Alice Fearn – Where I’ve Been…Where I’m Going”

Review: I’m Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road, Jermyn Street Theatre

“I’ll find my way again
And I will sing my song”

Written in 1978 by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, it’s a little bit depressing that I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road still has the resonance that it does nearly 40 years later. The show may not have been seen in the UK for nearly 40 years but its commentary on how the music business – indeed culture at large, even society as a whole – treats middle-aged women remains as incisive as it surely ever has done.

Heather Jones is a pop singer who has just turned 39 and is on the cusp of launching a refreshed act in front of a bunch of music biz luminaries in a New York cabaret club. The only problem is, her manager Joe isn’t keen on her new image, her new sound, her new lyrical honesty, he wants the safe, same old same old, unthreatening Heather back because he doesn’t believe he can sell a mature woman as a commercial prospect. Continue reading “Review: I’m Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road, Jermyn Street Theatre”