News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns

Following acclaim for their spectacular musical-packed digital series, Adam Blanshay Productions’ The Theatre Channel is back with a sixth episode, featuring more theatrical legends and musical magic! The new episode, entitled ‘Showstoppers’, will kickstart proceedings with incredible performances from major West End talent including Danny Mac (Sunset Boulevard; Pretty Woman The Musical), Kerry Ellis (Wicked; We Will Rock You) and Layton Williams (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; RENT). The series will be available to stream in a new partnership with Stream.Theatre from Friday 30th April, with tickets for Episode 6 now on sale.

Further talent involved includes dynamic sister duo Amber Davies (9 to 5; Love Island) and Jade Davies (Les Misérables; The Phantom of the Opera) as Side Show’s conjoined twins, alongside
Katie Deacon (Mary Poppins; An American In Paris) showcasing the original A Chorus Line choreography by Michael Bennett. The track for this stunning rendition of ‘Music and the Mirror’ has been provided by Antonio Banderas’ Malaga-based Theatre company Teatro del Soho, following their acclaimed Spanish-language revival. Academy Award and Tony nominee Antonio Banderas will also be sharing his knowledge of the production in an extra special exclusive interview for The Theatre Channel, featured in the episode. Continue reading “News: All-star musical anthology series The Theatre Channel returns”

Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice brushes up well as a classy and confident new British musical

“You must be a young lady of extraordinary power”

Thwarted out of its planned run at the Southwark Playhouse at the beginning of the year, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has worked its own kind of magic to re-emerge as an online production, available now to stream at stream.theatre over the next couple of weeks. And we should be mighty glad that it has, as it turns out to be a refreshing twist on familiar material, family-friendly without talking down to its audience and ultimately, a really rather lovely new British musical .  

Acknowleding the relative paucity of Goethe’s original poem, Richard Hough’s book imagines a much richer world in which brooms can eventually go crazy. The show is set in Midgard, a place up in the far north with a unique and precarious relationship to the aurora borealis,  one which is challenged by the desire for economic progress. There, only a single-father sorcerer and his rebellious daughter exploring her own magical potential can save the day, but they can barely talk properly together. Continue reading “Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

News: new musicals for Christmas and New Year

It’s a theatre that reliably creates memorable Christmas productions so it is good to hear that Forever Plaid will return to Upstairs at the Gatehouse from 16th December. The cast features Cameron Burt, George Crawford, Christopher Short and Alexander Zane, with Ian Oakley (musical director) and Jess Martin.

The show was written and originally directed and choreographed by Stuart Ross and has musical continuity, supervision and arrangements by James Raitt. This production is directed by John Plews and choreographed by Racky Plews. Continue reading “News: new musicals for Christmas and New Year”

Review: Groundhog Day, Old Vic

“I have not a bad word to say, 
about small towns. Per se.”

Expectations were high, how could they not be. Following on from the extraordinary success of Matilda, Tim Minchin’s next foray into musical theatre was to an adaptation of the 90s movie Groundhog Day, playing a two month run at the Old Vic ahead of a presumed Broadway transfer (a move that has had a little doubt cast on it by the withdrawal of major producer Scott Rudin). Now full disclosure, I saw it in its first week thanks to the PWC £10 tickets and the show went for a full month of previews before officially opening, so feel free to take my opinion with a pinch of salt.

For I did not enjoy Groundhog Day, at all. Worse than that, I was bored by it – at least hating something rouses some form of passion, but as Danny Rubin’s book cycled round and round and Minchin’s not unpleasant but in no way striking score dissipated into the ether, I wondered if Rudin might not have had the right idea. There’s a stellar performance from US import Andy Karl as the central Phil, carved out of that leading man material that is particularly American, but for me there was just too little magic emanating from Matthew Warchus’ direction to elevate the material.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 17th September

Review: Sunset Boulevard, London Coliseum

“Has there ever been a moment
With so much to live 
for?” 

Dammit – one of the key rationales behind my Broadway blowout last winter was seeing actors I didn’t think I’d otherwise have the chance to see in the West End, Glenn Close being chief among them and thus I forked out a pretty penny to see her in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. So naturally her return to these shores was announced a few months later with a reprisal of her Tony Award-winning performance as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard.

And as with last year’s Sweeney Todd here at the Coliseum too, director Lonny Price and the ENO have returned to the semi-staged format which allows them to mount a bare-bones production and still charge full whack for tickets, prices thus go up to £150. I understand that money has to be made, especially for an organisation in as perilous a position as theirs and they say at least 400 tickets at every performance is available at £25 or under (altitude training not provided though…) Continue reading “Review: Sunset Boulevard, London Coliseum”

Review: Sweeney Todd, London Coliseum

“At the top of the hole sit the privileged few”

And it is mostly the privileged few who’ll get to see this lavish English National Opera production of Sondheim’s oft-revived Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as stalls seats will set you back an eye-watering £95, £125 or £155. Somewhat cheaper seats are available from the upper circle upwards but still…* Lonny Price’s semi-staged production (with its nifty fake-out of a beginning) was first seen in New York in March 2014 but unsurprisingly, given it featured Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel as Mrs Lovett and the demon barber himself, it declared “there’s no place like London” and has now taken up residence in the Coliseum alongside a cast of nearly 40 musical theatre veterans (and Thompson’s daughter) and a lush-sounding  orchestra of 60.

Thompson and Terfel may be the headline names but the real pleasure comes in the luxury casting that surrounds them. Philip Quast and John Owen-Jones bring a richness of vocal to Judge Turpin and Pirelli respectively, Alex Gaumond and Jack North both mine effectively Dickensian depths to Beadle and Toby and there’s something glorious about having the marvellous Rosalie Craig here, even in so relatively minor a role as the Beggar Woman as her quality shines through despite that wig. Matthew Seadon-Young and Katie Hall as Anthony and Johanna are both really impressive too, their voices marrying beautifully as they respond intuitively to the textures of David Charles Obell’s orchestra. Continue reading “Review: Sweeney Todd, London Coliseum”

2015 Offie Award Winners

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

Best Female
Linda Bassett for Visitors at The Bush and the Arcola Theatre
Laura Jane Matthewson for Dogfight at Southwark Playhouse 
Shannon Tarbet for The Edge Of Our Bodies at The Gate

Best Supporting Female
Leila Crerar for Martine at Finborough Theatre
Vicki Lee Taylor for Carousel at Arcola Theatre
Thea Jo Wolfe for Singing In The Rain at Upstairs At The Gatehouse

Best Male
Patrick O’Kane for Quietly at Soho Theatre
Harry Lloyd for Notes From Underground at The Print Room, Coronet
Robin Soans For Visitors at the Bush and Arcola Theatre Continue reading “2015 Offie Award Winners”

2015 Offie Award Finalists

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

Best Female
Linda Bassett for Visitors at The Bush and the Arcola Theatre
Laura Jane Matthewson for Dogfight at Southwark Playhouse 
Shannon Tarbet for The Edge Of Our Bodies at The Gate

Best Supporting Female
Leila Crerar for Martine at Finborough Theatre
Vicki Lee Taylor for Carousel at Arcola Theatre
Thea Jo Wolfe for Singing In The Rain at Upstairs At The Gatehouse

Best Male
Patrick O’Kane for Quietly at Soho Theatre
Harry Lloyd for Notes From Underground at The Print Room, Coronet
Robin Soans For Visitors at the Bush and Arcola Theatre Continue reading “2015 Offie Award Finalists”

Re-review: Urinetown, Apollo Theatre

“When a young girl has as many lines as I do, there’s still hope for dreams”

Though Urinetown’s run at the St James Theatre was very well-received (including here by yours truly), I have to profess to being a little surprised that a West End transfer was announced. The quirky nature of the show didn’t immediately seem to lend itself to one of the larger houses but without any mid-sized theatres in town, there’s no choice but to supersize when in reality, an extended run at the St James would have been ideal. It was sad to see the house so quiet for this midweek matinée and the run has now been shortened by a couple of weeks to allow My Night With Reg to move in so perhaps it was too hard a sell but Jamie Lloyd’s production certainly has much going for it. A few thoughts follow.

It’s nice to see a company supporting its own rather than parachuting in a ‘name’ for the sake of ticket sales and so Richard Fleeshman is replaced as the show’s hero Bobby Strong by Matthew Seadon-Young who has been there from the beginning. And likewise Julie Jupp and Alasdair Buchan will be stepping up to step into the shoes of Jenna Russell and Marc Elliott when they leave at the end of November – it’s a natural and brilliant progression route and it something that should definitely be encouraged. (Naturally the show isn’t immune to economic realities and so it is Phill Jupitus who will be coming in for Simon Paisley Day, an interesting choice but as I’ve never seen him on stage one I’m a little unsure about.) Continue reading “Re-review: Urinetown, Apollo Theatre”