In 2020, for the first time in centuries, heavy red curtains swept closed on stages across the West End; all theatres were closed. Two actors – Lloyd McDonagh and Salvatore Scarpa- keenly feeling the loss of their theatre homes, turned to a form of art that could still thrive over the following months, and set about photographing the stage doors of the deserted city.
Fourth Wall Live and The Hippodrome Casino London are thrilled to announce a series of over 40 shows at the Hippodrome Casino this winter. The season runs from 18 November every week for 5 weeks and will include two shows nightly at 7.00pm and 9.00pm.
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”
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.
Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)
Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre
The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions. A truly joyous and momentous occasion.
The fourth instalment in the Nativity film series, Nativity Rocks! restores a little of the goodwill squandered by the previous two sequels
“I’m wishing Father Christmas doesn’t forget where I live like he did last year”
I can’t think of a film franchise that has squandered such promise as the Nativity series. Debbie Isitt’s original film was such a sweetly unexpected success, but its magic sadly proved rather elusive as its subsequentsequels lost any of its sense of purpose or improvised charm. So the arrival of a third sequel in the shape of Nativity Rocks! (released in cinemas in 2018) came with a healthy dose of apprehension, even if the musical adaptation has rescued some of its lustre (though is that also now in danger of oversaturation , as the musical is now in its third consecutive winter tour).
For all my reservations though, Isitt had zero problem in attracting a quality ensemble as the cast undergoes something of an overhaul. So Marc Wootton’s Mr Poppy is dispatched to Australia and replaced with Simon Lipkin’s Mr Poppy (his long-lost brother), Daniel Boys is the fresh-faced teacher taking St Bernadette’s school choir through the rigours of yet another competition, with Helen George as the putative love interest, Gabriel Vick as the posh rival schoolmaster. Plus there’s Hugh Dennis and Anna Chancellor as some well-to-do parents, Ramin Karimloo as a refugee father, Meera Syal and Celia Imrie too, plus Craig Revel Horwood… Continue reading “Film Review: Nativity Rocks! (2018)”
I’ve long admired Jon Robyns and his new album Musical Direction reflects on his career so far beautifully, as well as suggesting what fun lies ahead
“You can get what you want or you get old”
Having fallen in love with Jon Robyns in parallel with tumbling hard for Avenue Q, he really is the leading man of my (entirely platonic) dreams, so news of a new solo album was certainly up my strasse. And Musical Direction manages an excellent job of balancing many of the aspects of that come with musical theatre performers making their own recordings.
There are nods to his performance past – a chirpy take on The Last Five Years’ ‘Moving Too Fast’ and a delicately beautiful glide through Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Hushabye Mountain – and a perfectly timed look to the future too. And this is where the cleverness kicks in as you may not think you really need another version of ‘Bring Him Home’ but this acoustic, cello-drenched arrangement is spine-tingling good, certainly whetting the appetite for his imminent debut as Jean Valjean when Les Misérables reopens the Sondheim Theatre. Continue reading “Album Review: Jon Robyns – Musical Direction”