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: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre

Ben Forster, Alice Fearn, Sophie Evans, Layton Williams, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Shanay Holmes join forces for a West End Musical Celebration at the Palace Theatre

“There’s a party to start in a new part of town”

Brought to you by the producers of West End Musical Drive In and West End Musical Brunch, West End Musical Celebration sees the collaborative, communal, concert spirit finally brought into a bona fide West End space in Palace Theatre.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but nor does it pretend or need to. Pulling together a top tier company including Alice Fearn, Layton Williams, Rachel John and Trevor Dion Nicholas and giving them some of the best showstoppers around, you can hardly go wrong. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre”

Some musicals news from the last week

News about new musicals in Leicester and Maidstone, plus concerts in the West End and Chiswick 

The line up has been confirmed for the first 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 24 May, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie.

Aimie Atkinson (Six, Pretty Woman), Cassidy Janson (&Juliet, Beautiful), Lucie Jones (Waitress, Rent), Cedric Neal (Chess, Motown the Musical) and Julian Ovenden (South Pacific, Downton Abbey) will join on-stage for an intimate night of music and theatrical chat, featuring ovation worthy performances of songs from their favourite genres with host Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Swallows and Amazons). Continue reading “Some musicals news from the last week”

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”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 5

Episode 5 of the West End Musical Drive In adopts a loose Hallowe’en theme with Lucie Jones, Jon Robyns and Kelly Agbowu

“Boris isn’t due on for another half an hour so we’re alright”

Saving the best for last might sound like something of a cliche but it is hard not to feel that way with this fifth and final instalment from the West End Musical Drive In (see reviews of episode 1episode 2, episode 3 and episode 4) which was their actual last show from the summer. Headlining the company is Lucie Jones and she really does reconfirm her absolute star quality.

The Hallowe’en theme sees some of the more interesting song choices of the show. Jones visiting Beetlejuice and The Addams Family, and Kelly Agbowu nailing Ursula’s iconic ‘Poor Unfortunate Soul’ and Elphaba’s ‘No Good Deed’. And a raucous rendition of ‘The Time Warp’ is lots of fun even if its with a recorded version of the track. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 5”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 4

The West End Musical Drive In‘s fourth instalment sees cast members from Aladdin getting us to honk our horns

“Miss rona hasn’t stopped us from gathering here, in a car park, to celebrate musical theatre”

The latest digital visit to the West End Musical Drive In sees us catch a concert featuring three performers connected through their performances in productions of Aladdin. Matt Croke, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Hiba Elchikhe gather here for one of the more fun concerts in this series, with duets aplenty but a slight issue with the format does begin to arise.

Within the first 20 minutes, we’ve already heard two songs that have been performed in previous shows in this series (see reviews of episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3). It’s not the end of the world by any means, and arguably this version of ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ is a stonker, but it is perhaps something to be considered by the creators as these gratefully-received online options are explored. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 4”

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”

Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 3

Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Emma Hatton and Laura Pick have a wicked time in the rain at the West End Musical Drive In

“Are you here to distract me
So I make a big mistake?”

The third instalment of the West End Musical Drive In’s streaming offer (reviews of episode 1 and episode 2) sees them land with a Wicked focus, spotlighting four current and recent members of the West End cast, along with a cheeky guest appearance from Carl Man. So it was Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Emma Hatton and Laura Pick taking their individual moments to shine in the pouring rain of a Great British summer.

As with the first, co-producer Shanay Holmes acted as MC with an ever-impressive amount of energy and also taking the opportunity to show off her mighty fine vocals with a song or two herself (the closing ‘One Night Only’ is standout). And over an hour and 40 minutes or so, we’re treated to a range of musical theatre classics from some pretty powerhouse vocalists. Continue reading “Review: West End Musical Drive In, Episode 3”