News: the West End comes together for Ukraine on a special day

A host of West End stars will join together for a fundraising night of musical entertainment in aid of UNICEF at the Charing Cross Theatre on Monday 9 May 2022 

A top line-up of West End stars will be taking to the stage at West End for Ukraine on Monday 9 May 2022 (an already auspicious day!) at the Charing Cross Theatre. The musical fundraiser is in aid of the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency Appeal, raising vital urgent funds for children in desperate need. 

The line-up for West End for Ukraine is*: Sabrina Aloueche, Paul Baker, Lizzie Bea, Gina Beck, Nikki Bentley, Kieran Brown, Joanne Clifton, Scott Garnham, Natalie Green, Adrian Hansel, Christopher Howell, Kim Ismay, Sooz Kempner, Joshua Lay, Emma Lindars, George Maguire, Jai McDowall, Nadim Naaman, Caroline Sheen, Simon Shorten, Courtney Stapleton, Harriet Thorpe, Shona White and Rachael Wooding alongside The Barricade Boys, members of the cast of Heathers and Titanic and the West End Musical Choir (*subject to availability). Continue reading “News: the West End comes together for Ukraine on a special day”

Review: Sweeney Todd, Mercury Theatre

“Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief. 
For the rest of us death will be a relief.”

A handful of cancelled performances due to production design problems meant I missed Sweeney Todd in Derby but fortunately, it being a co-production with Colchester’s Mercury meant that I was able to fit it in to what has been a most hectic schedule this October. And I’m glad I did, for Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s musical proves once again to be an evergreen classic and Daniel Buckroyd’s production here makes that case, whilst still establishing its own spin.

Most notably, it comes in the casting of Hugh Maynard as the titular Demon Barber of Fleet Street, for much as I’d love us to be in a place where it doesn’t matter, it still feels important to note that he is the first black man to play the role professionally in the UK. And from his very first utterance, you’re left in no doubt whatsoever that he’s more than up to the task, giving us a viscerally angry Sweeney, his fury his defining characteristic right up until the finale. Continue reading “Review: Sweeney Todd, Mercury Theatre”

Review: The War of the Worlds, Dominion Theatre

“I can’t believe people were sat there as if it was any other evening” 

You have to love the creative process that ends with the thought ‘we need Jimmy Nail’, but Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds really isn’t like any other show. A quick glimpse at the casts of previous arena tours, of which there have been many, gives a bit of insight as to their mindset – (former) pop stars like Westlife’s Brian McFadden, Jason Donovan and Atomic Kitten’s Liz McClarnon, reality show offcasts like Rhydian, even the Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson – now a judge on The Voice – has got in on the act. And now The War of the Worlds has landed at the Dominion Theatre and the casting has gotten no less random.

This time, I think someone came across a copy of Now 51 in a charity shop and so we have Daniel Bedingfield and former Sugababe Heidi Range making their West End debuts, alongside original cast member David Essex (whose character is naturally named The Voice of Humanity), Michael Praed and Madalena Alberto who, as per the poster, has the ridiculous snub of being the only one not to get a headshot (though she will be used to billing controversies in this theatre by now). And then there’s Jimmy Nail who at 61 gets Range, 32, as his wife…, it all makes for an oddly compelling though deeply strange affair.  Continue reading “Review: The War of the Worlds, Dominion Theatre”