Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: Dessa Rose at Trafalgar Studios 2



Dessa Rose 
Trafalgar Studios 2
Reviewed on Thursday 31st July 2014
★★★

Following two young women on their journey to acceptance, Dessa Rose is an intriguingly spiritual piece of theatre. The musical centres around Dessa, a young black slave, and Ruth, a young white mother, who form an unlikely alliance. 

Their unique friendship sees the pair looking out for each other in various situations. Based on Sherley Anne Williams' novel, the story is told as Ruth and Dessa relive their ordeals and pass on their story to their grandchildren. 

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's score is influenced by blues, folk, hymns and gospel music. These styles have been fused with musical theatre to create an incredibly refreshing style. 

This was my first time seeing a musical inside the tiny studio space at Trafalgar Studios and I was intrigued to see where the band would be positioned. Musicians are dotted around the space, with one even tucked away in the corner of the entrance. Whilst this looks a little odd, the sound is mesmerising - it is rare to hear instruments being played all around you.

GOSSIP: Beautiful to begin previews at the Aldwych Theatre on 10th February 2015?

According to the Daily Mail, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will begin previews at the Aldwych Theatre on 10th February 2015. 

Baz Bamigboye suggests there are several contenders to play the title role in the show. The musical's Tony Award winning Broadway star Jessie Mueller could transfer with the production. 

However, it is believed Mueller's understudy (Rebecca LaChance or Sara Sheperd) could lead the cast of the West End production while a few British actresses are also being considered. 

Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch releases first official images

Tickets for Lyndsey Turner’s production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch go on public sale on Monday 11th August 2014 at 10am (priority booking for Barbican members begins today).

The show opens at the Barbican Theatre on Tuesday 25th August 2014 (previews from 5th August) and runs until Saturday 31st August 2015. Take a look at official images below (click picture to enlarge). Hamlet has set design is by Es Devlin and is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions. Further casting and details for this production will be announced at a later date.

Isla Blair & David Cardy complete Made in Dagenham cast

It has been announced that Isla Blair and David Cardy will complete the cast of Made in Dagenham as Connie and Monty.

The production, which stars Gemma Arterton as Rita O’Grady, opens at the Adelphi Theatre on Wednesday 5th November (previews from 9th October).

Based on the hit British film, the new musical comedy will also star: Adrian der Gregorian as Eddie, Steve Furst as Mr Tooley, Mark Hadfield as Harold Wilson, Sophie-Louise Dann as Barbara Castle, Sophie Stanton as Beryl, Heather Craney as Clare, Sophie Isaacs as Sandra, Julius D'Silva as Mr Hopkins and Naomi Frederick as Lisa.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

GOSSIP: Nicole Scherzinger in discussions to star as Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium

According to Baz Bamigboye, Nicole Scherzinger is in "very early discussions" to star as Grizabella in the West End revival of Cats at the London Palladium.

As previously announced, the original creative team - Director Trevor Nunn, Associate Director and Choreographer Gillian Lynne, Designer John Napier and Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber - have reunited to bring Cats back to the West End this Christmas.

Scherzinger has previously worked with Lloyd Webber on several occasions. She has performed his work (including numbers from The Phantom of the Opera and Evita) on the Royal Variety Show and an Andrew Lloyd Webber ITV special. Scherzinger previously starred as Maureen in the Hollywood Bowl production of Rent.

GOSSIP: Haydn Gwynne to star opposite Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

According to Baz Bamigboye, Haydn Gwynne will star as Lucia opposite the previously announced Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

The brand new production of David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane’s show has been reconceived and re-imagined for the UK stage. Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher directs the show which has been through two full-scale development workshops with actors, musicians and the creative team.

Big Interview: Simon Bailey

Simon Bailey is currently starring in Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little which runs at the St James Studio for 16 performances only until Sunday 10th August 2014.

Simon was most recently seen starring as Liam O'Deary in I Can’t Sing (London Palladium). His West End credits also include: Romeo and Juliet The Musical (Piccadilly), Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (New London), Brit in We Will Rock You (Dominion) and Enjolras in the 21st Anniversary cast of Les Miserables (Queen’s).

As well as playing Lieutenant Torrasso/Count Ludovic in Passion (Donmar Warehouse) and Officer Starnes/Tom Watson in Parade (Southwark Playhouse), Simon is best known for starring as Raoul in the West End and brand new touring production of The Phantom of the Opera. He is a renowned singer/songwriter, realising his debut album Looking Up in December 2012.

I recently spoke to Simon about what first attracted him to Marry Me A Little, the beauty of Sondheim’s score, his varied career and future music plans…

What were your first thoughts when this production of Marry Me A Little popped up? Did you know anything about the show?
I was excited that it was this Sondheim production which hasn’t been seen in London for the best part of twenty years, but initially I didn’t know too much about it. I read up about it, the show is basically made up out of all the things which didn’t make it into other big shows and I thought that was a really exciting prospect. When I started to listen to the material, which didn’t make it into these other shows, I realised just how amazing these other shows are because the material is… incredible [laughs]! This music is so beautiful and I guess it is slightly shocking they didn’t make it into the original shows! But luckily for us they didn’t and we get to do them.