News: new musical theatre record label launched

Neil O’Brien Entertainment Launches Westway Music – a new musical theatre record label based in London whose initial signings include Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Kerry Ellis & Lee Mead

Westway Music is a new music and film platform dedicated to the music of theatre, from London’s West End through to New York’s Broadway and beyond. Formed by Neil O’Brien, the label has so far signed musical theatre stars Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Samantha Barks, Lee Mead, Joe Stilgoe and Cassidy Janson.

The label launches on November 12th with the release of Frozen star Samantha Barks’ brand-new studio album Into The Unknown. Covering songs from Broadway, West End and film musicals alike and with a couple of duets thrown in for good measure, it’s bound to be a corker, especially if her accomplished debut is anything to go by. Continue reading “News: new musical theatre record label launched”

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: musicals coming to the screen soon

In The Heights

Due to arrive on 25th June, Jon M Chu’s film of In The Heights, based on Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’s vibrant musical, tells the story of a Hispanic-American community threatened by gentrification. The film stars, among others, Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Beatriz, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera and Lin-Manuel Miranda predictably makes an appearance, though as Piragüero not Usnavi. Continue reading “News: musicals coming to the screen soon”

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”

News: updates for Frozen in the West End.

With so much uncertainty still blighting the West End, Frozen the Musical has announced that it is taking tickets offsale and postponing its premiere until a new timetable can be confirmed. But to sweeten the pill, they’ve also revealed the final members of their company.

Chris Fung and Kerry Spark will join the already announced cast, led by Samantha Barks (Elsa) and Stephanie McKeon (Anna), as well as Obioma Ugoala (Kristoff), Craig Gallivan (Olaf), Oliver Ormson (Hans), Richard Frame (Weselton), and alternating the role of Sven, Mikayla Jade and Ashley Birchall. Continue reading “News: updates for Frozen in the West End.”

News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed

Comedian, actor and singer Jason Manford is to host The Royal Variety Performance at the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will deliver a special message to the charity and the artistes performing in the show, as he looks forward to this exceptional evening of entertainment.

Returning to the North after nine years, the show promises to be an unforgettable evening of exceptional performers, world class British theatre and superb comedy, plus some exciting surprises. Continue reading “News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed”

Review: First Date – the Musical

Samantha Barks and Simon Lipkin lead a terrific ensemble in this innovative, virtual production of First Date – the Musical – shame about the show itself…

“It’s only a first impression
And though the impression is strong
It never can hurt to question
Though I doubt this will lead to romance”

There’s so much to commend in this virtual production of First Date – the Musical. Directed by Dean Johnson in the elegant surroundings of the Crazy Coqs, there’s a really clever use of video inserts to enhance this show about an unlikely blind date and make it stand out in the ever-crowded market of livestreams that are available.

Johnson’s videography is genuinely high-quality and provides a constant stream of laughs, as moody black and white segments will awkward pauses and fantasy sequences support the main event. And with Simon Lipkin and Samantha Barks leading the cast, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Nicholas McLean and Danielle Steers making up an ensemble of dreams, signs look good. Continue reading “Review: First Date – the Musical”

Casting news for early September

As some theatres look to a careful reopening and others consolidate their online offers, casting news of four intriguing shows breaks 

The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse will star Molly Lynch (Cathy) and Oli Higginson (Jamie) who return to their roles after they were cut short on 16 March. They will be appearing in the show from 1 – 31 October and will be in the same ‘support bubble’ so the show won’t adhere to socially distancing staging.

However, in the venue, there will be strict social distancing measures in place. For full info on that head here and click on the Covid-19 FAQS tab: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/the-last-five-years/#covidfaqs Continue reading “Casting news for early September”