Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre

A cheeky return visit to the Victoria Palace Theatre sees Hamilton in rude health, with the 2021 cast in fine form 

“You’ll be back, soon you’ll see”

You know how it is, when a ticket to Hamilton falls into your lap, you can’t really say no to this… So a return to the Victoria Palace Theatre, my first since this behemoth of a show actually opened up and one which was surprisingly rewarding, over and above the pleasures of the show itself.

Karl Queensborough and Simon-Anthony Rhoden now occupy the key roles of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and what I found really interesting was that my sympathies actually altered between them. I’ve always been team Burr (it must have been the Terera of it all) but Rhoden has introduced a brusquer, harsher characterisation, which combined with Queensborough’s hugely open charisma, had me swapping sides quicker than James Madison. Continue reading “Re-review: Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre”

News: musicals update

© Danny Kaan

The Distance You Have Come recorded live at The Apollo Theatre will be available to stream on stream.theatre from 5th to 11th August 2021. In a song cycle of his most acclaimed works, sung by some of the best voices in the west end, award winning composer and lyricist Scott Alan leads us through a year in the intertwined lives of six people facing the joy and heartache of the human experience, as they each search for their own version of happiness – which is, after all, what it’s all about.

This phenomenal cast features Andy Coxon (West Side Story, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical); Alice Fearn (Come From Away, Wicked); Adrian Hansel (Starlight Express, Hairspray); Emma Hatton (Evita, Wicked); Dean John-Wilson (The King and I, Aladdin) and Maiya Quansah- Breed (SIX, Rent).

Orchestrations are by Scott Hayes (Rent; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) who will also be the Musical Director, Kirk Jameson joins as Director (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Marry Me a Little; Madagascar) with Lighting Design by Andrew Ellis (Eugenius, Flashdance): Original Direction was by Scott Alan and original Production Design by Simon Daw. The production is produced by Sevans Productions and Krystal Lee.


New UK Musicals and Parkwood Theatres have announced the cast and creatives of the world premiere of new British musical Ordinary People. Supported by funding from the Farnham Maltings Our Town Project and written by Darren Clark, Ordinary People takes real life stories from the lives of the people of Maidstone in Kent and turns them into a truly British musical. At its heart the show explores the idea that there is nothing ordinary about ordinary people.

The cast features actor musicians Anne Marie Piazza (RSC’s The Day of the Living, These Trees Are Made of Blood), Jared Leathwood (Billionaire Boy), Tom Self (The Hired Man UK Tour) and Sorrel Jordan (The Juliet Letters). This new musical is directed by Jenny Longley with choreography by Lorna Thomas and musical direction by Tom Self. Ordinary People premieres at Maidstone’s Hazlitt Theatre for two performances on the 30th and 31st July.


The highly anticipated tour of the Edinburgh Fringe hit Tokyo Rose has announced their all-female cast, starring Kanako Nakano (Miss Saigon, West End; Priscilla Queen of the Desert, West End). The production, winner of the coveted Les Enfant Terribles Stepladder Award, will also feature Maya Britto (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Arabian Nights, Hoxton Hall) in the titular role, Lucy Park (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Game Face, Q Theatre/Tristan Bates Theatre), Yuki Sutton (Tokyo Rose, New Diorama Theatre/Edinburgh Fringe; Satanic Panic ’87, Channel 4), Amy Parker (Ride, Vault Festival; Dancing By Myself, King’s Head Theatre), and Cara Baldwin (The Marathon Project, online; The Half Moon Shania, Zoo Venues/Vault Festival).

Tokyo Rose is an electrifying new musical about one of America’s most controversial trials, examining a real-life story of scaremongering and scapegoating. New Diorama Theatre and Underbelly first commissioned this exciting project as part of the Untapped Award, and its potential was realised following a sold out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2019. From September, the tour will visit MAST Mayflower Studios, Southwark Playhouse, Curve Theatre, Leicester, The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, Corn Exchange Newbury, and Birmingham Hippodrome.


Michael Harrison and David Ian have announced that Adam J BernardTarinn CallenderMatt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud will play The Drifters in a brand new musical also starring Beverley Knight, which tells the remarkable story of one of the world’s greatest vocal groups and the woman who made them.

The Drifters Girl will begin performances in Newcastle on Saturday 9 October 2021, playing until Saturday 23 October. Performances at the Garrick Theatre in London start on Thursday 4 November 2021.


Hamilton returns to the Victoria Palace from 19th August and has revealed its new cast. Karl Queensborough will play the title role of Alexander Hamilton with Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Aaron Burr, Ava Brennan as Angelica Schuyler, Sharon Rose as Eliza Hamilton, Trevor Dion Nicholas as George Washington, Waylon Jacobs as Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Emile Ruddock as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Khalid Daley as John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton, Emilie Louise Israel as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds and Harry Hepple as King George. At certain performances the role of Alexander Hamilton will be played by Nuno Queimado.

The cast also comprises Jade Albertsen, Curtis Angus, Robson Broad, Matthew Caputo, Filippo Coffano, Ashley Daniels, Kelly Downing, Lydia Fraser, Jordan Frazier, Manaia Glassey-Ohlson, Jake Halsey-Jones, Olivia Kate Holding, Peter Houston, DeAngelo Jones, Nicolais-Andre Kerry, Travis Kerry, Ella Kora, Natasha Leaver, Aaron Lee Lambert, Phoebe Liberty Jones, Sinead Long, Louis Mackrodt, Jay Perry, Lindsey Tierney and Brandon Williams.

News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November

Auburn Jam Music are delighted to be releasing ‘You Will Be Found’ by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends, a fundraising charity single in aid of youth charity The Diana Award, on Sunday 15 November to tie in with the start of National Anti-Bullying Week (16-20 November).  

The star-studded single is led by ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen from Wokingham, whose experience of being bullied started the viral #CheerUpCharlie campaign. Charlie is joined on the song by numerous stage and screen stars including Wendi Peters, Layton Williams and Michael Xavier, with Iain Armitage, Michael Ball, Rufus Hound, and Faye Tozer amongst many famous faces reading their supportive messages on the song’s video. The single is available to pre-save now on iTunes, Deezer, Spotify and Tidal at https://ditto.fm/you-will-be-found. Continue reading “News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November”

Review: Hello Harry! A Celebration of 40 Years at Stage Door

Just a quickie for the infusion of pure joy that was Hello Harry! A Celebration of 40 Years at Stage Door

Amid the constant shower of shit that passes for news about theatre at the moment, this online concert to celebrate the incredible 40 year career of Harry Gabriel, the Shaftesbury Theatre’s Stage Door Keeper, was an absolute ray of sunshine.

Put together by Giles Terera, the guest list was truly astonishing, featuring a veritable who’s who of the theatre world, all connected one way or another with Harry through the 40 years of shows he has seen pass through the Shaftesbury Theatre. Continue reading “Review: Hello Harry! A Celebration of 40 Years at Stage Door”

Review: Sweet Charity, Nottingham Playhouse

A sparkling lead turn from Rebecca Trehearn, and brilliant choreography from Alistair David, enliven this Sweet Charity at Nottingham Playhouse

“Your game makes very good sense”

So pleased to have managed to squeak into Nottingham Playhouse’s Sweet Charity before it finished, this is what everyone uses their annual leave for, right…?! The second major production of the show in recent months following the Watermill’s strong actor-muso interpretation this summer, it is one which makes a bold move in introducing Alistair David’s choreography to give this 1966 musical a fresh lick of paint.

It’s the only real sense of updating that Bill Buckhurst’s production provides but it is an impactful one, David reimagining almost wholesale and invigorating the almost-too-familiar sounds of Cy Coleman’s classic score. In takis’ podium-based design, it looks a dream and more than justifies new AD Adam Lenson’s decision to reintroduce musicals to the programme here after an absence of more than a decade. Continue reading “Review: Sweet Charity, Nottingham Playhouse”

Review: Chess, London Coliseum

Nobody’s on nobody’s side – an all-star cast can’t save this game of Chess from itself, for me at least

“From square one I’ll be watching all sixty-four”

It’s taken over 30 years for Chess to return to the West End (though it was seen at the Union in 2013) and though it has a huge amount of resource thrown at it in Laurence Connor’s production for English National Opera, it doesn’t necessarily feel worth the wait. An 80’s mega-musical through and through with an intermittently cracking score from ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Richard Nelson’s book hasn’t aged particularly well and bears the hallmarks of the  substantial tinkering it has had at every opportunity.

It’s not too hard to see why it has needed the tinkering. The mix of Cold War politics told through the prism of rival US and Soviet chess Grandmasters, love triangles and power ballads is a tricky one to get right and part of the problem seems to be just how seriously to take it all. On the one hand, the chess matches are backgrounded with montages of the real-life tensions of the 80s; on the other, scenes that take us through the various locations of the tournaments are a cringeworthy riot of cultural stereotyping that revel in their utter kitsch. Continue reading “Review: Chess, London Coliseum”

Not-a-re-review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre

Hadn’t planned to revisit Jesus Christ Superstar but stepped at the last minute for an ailing friend…
And whilst it remains impressive, it also remains elusive, caught between gig and theatre…

 

 Meaning there wasn’t much to discover anew on second viewing (my review from last year).
Still worth a shot if you’ve not seen it though.

All photos © Johan Persson

Continue reading “Not-a-re-review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre”

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre

“Could you ask as much from any other man?”

Andrew Lloyd Webber sure doesn’t make it easy – for his support of new musical theatre in taking over the St James Theatre to making a transatlantic dash to the House of Lords to vote in support of tax credit cuts for the working poor, it’s hard to know where to stand. His status in the British theatrical establishment remains largely unchallenged though and it is to the 46-year-old Jesus Christ Superstar that the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park have turned for their big summer musical, directed this year by Timothy Sheader. 

And how do you play a 70s rock opera for today? You bring onboard shit-hot creatives like Tom Scutt and Drew McOnie to reinvent it for 2016. Scutt’s design choices make a virtue of the timeless iron structure that edges the stage. The company arrive in luxury sportswear, its loose silhouettes and muted earth tones akin to a Kanye West fashion show with which McOnie’s contemporary choreography meshes perfectly. Later scenes feature the glitter-covered muscularity of something like a late night Brighton Pride, a smattering of Xerxes from the film 300 and all out Sink the Pink excess during the whipping sequence. Continue reading “Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Open Air Theatre”

Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre

“You won’t get that out a book on prison procedure
When those suits get caught on the hook, that’s when they need ya”

Bad Girls ran for eight years on ITV, covering the whole gamut of women’s prison storylines from the sublime to the senseless, and now the women of HMP Larkhall live on in Bad Girls the Musical, written by original creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts. Taking many of the characters and fashioning its own story from a range of plotlines across the lifetime of the show, Will Keith’s production for the Union makes for an effective translation from screen to stage.

Perhaps naturally, given the size of the 17-strong company and the number of introductions that thus need to be made (even for those familiar with the TV show), the main thrust of the story takes a little time to come into focus. The corrupt practices of prison officer Jim Fenner, fond of doling out privileges in return for sexual favours, eventually crystallises the motives of the diverse cast of inmates but there’s also the slow burning relationship between lifer Nikki and reformist governor Helen that adds to a book which may seem slight but is ultimately dramatically satisfying.  Continue reading “Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre”