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: Monday Night at the Apollo #2

The second Monday Night at the Apollo showcases the marvellous skills of Shan Ako, Sophie Evans, Arthur Darvill, Sandra Marvin & Jamie Muscato

“A few stolen moments is all that we share”

After a highly successful opening show, Monday Night at the Apollo returns for a second instalment with its genre-busting tracklisting. Hosted by the ever-chirpy Greg Barnett, this concert featured Shan Ako, Sophie Evans, Arthur Darvill, Sandra Marvin and Jamie Muscato subbing in for an unavailable Oli Tompsett.

Fresh from rehearsals for the Old Vic’s Bagdad Cafe, Sandra Marvin was probably my MVP. Impressing with jazz standard ‘Hit me with your high notes’ and a similarly laidback saunter through Whitney’s ‘Saving All My Love For You’, by the time she moved onto Hairspray, she had the audience eating from her palm. Continue reading “Review: Monday Night at the Apollo #2”

News: line-up for Monday Night at the Apollo #2 revealed

The star line up has been confirmed for the second concert of the series for Monday Night at the Apollo – which will be performed in front of a socially distanced audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday 14 June, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie, which is dedicated to bringing the best live and recorded theatre to audiences around the world.

Shan Ako (Les Miserable, Xfactor), Arthur Darvill (Once, Doctor Who), Sophie Evans (Wicked, Wizard of Oz), Sandra Marvin (Waitress, Emmerdale) and Oliver Tompsett (&Juliet, Wicked) will join on-stage for an intimate night of music and theatrical chat, featuring ovation worthy performances of songs from their favourite genres. Host Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Swallows and Amazons) invites his audience behind the curtain to catch these castmates as you’ve never seen them before. Sharing their most cherished memories and experiences from their careers, alongside performances of music personal to them, West End royalty celebrate the craft and industry they’ve so dearly missed. Continue reading “News: line-up for Monday Night at the Apollo #2 revealed”

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: 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…”

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: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 1

This capture of last summer’s West End Musical Drive In delivers much of the thrill of live performance, with Shan Ako and Layton Williams in particularly fine form

“Honk your horns”

Last summer saw the team behind the West End Musical Brunch pivot within the constrictions of social distancing to create the West End Musical Drive In concert series. And with great consideration for those of us who don’t drive, the shows were filmed and five of them are now being streamed on a weekly basis via Stream.Theatre.

Layton Williams is the headliner for this show and it is is not hard to see why. Supported by an ensemble from the forthcoming tour of Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, he struts with outrageous levels of charisma and fashion-forward thinking through numbers from that show, Kinky Boots, Rent and much more besides. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 1”

News: West End Musical Drive In comes to Stream.Theatre

From the Drive-In to your home, relive the biggest musical concert series of 2020. With 10 hours of incredible live performances from over 25 of the greatest West End stars, including Layton Williams (Everyone’s Talking About Jamie), Lucie Jones (Waitress), and Alice Fearn (Come From Away), this exciting digital series will bring five fantastic West End Musical Drive In concerts directly to you. A different concert will be available to stream each week from Friday 19th February to Sunday 21st March via Stream.Theatre.

Additional casting includes, Trevor Dion Nicholas (Hamilton), Shanay Holmes (The Bodyguard), Emma Hatton (Wicked), Shan Ako (Les Misérables), Sophie Evans (Wicked), Maiya Quansah Breed (Rent), Laura Pick (Wicked), Matthew Croke (Aladdin), Jon Robyns (Les Misérables), Kelly Agbowu (Waitress), Hiba Elchikhe (Aladdin), Jodie Steele (Heathers) and 12 previous cast members of Six The Musical. Continue reading “News: West End Musical Drive In comes to Stream.Theatre”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Three

Exploring the world of rock musicals, Episode 3 of The Theatre Channel features Alex Gaumond, Shan Ako, John Owen-Jones, Francesca Jackson, Aisha Jawando and Rob Houchen

Je cherche le soleil
Au milieu de ma nuit

First, a confession. The idea of a rock musical generally leaves me cold so the announcement of the theme of the third episode of The Theatre Channel being just that wasn’t one that filled me with too much joy. But the quality of Episode 1 and Episode 2, plus the calibre of talent they’ve been attracting, meant that I was happy to at least give it a whirl.

And if it didn’t make a convert out of me (there’s enough fans of Rent out there already…), there’s plenty to be impressed with. The highlight of the half-hour show for me was the chance to hear the Québécois Alex Gaumond singing ‘Le Monde est Stone’ from Starmania in its original French, the desperation of this soaring ballad transcending any linguistic barrier (though subtitles are provided). Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Three”

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.