Friday, 19 September 2014

Big Interview: Michael Watson, starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys

Michael Watson recently took over as Frankie Valli in the West End production of Jersey Boys which has moved to London’s Piccadilly Theatre. 

Although the production has been running for over six years, Michael is only the third actor to play Frankie full-time in the West End. He follows the footsteps of Ryan Molloy, who played the role for six years, and John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony for originating the role on Broadway and reprised his performance in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation.

Jersey Boys has been seen by over 19 million people worldwide and is firmly established as one of the West End's longest running and most popular shows. It tells the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks.

Michael’s West End theatre credits include: We Will Rock You (Dominion), Imagine This (New London), Sister Act (Palladium), Shrek The Musical (Drury Lane) and the charity gala performance of Hair (Piccadilly). Before taking over as Frankie full-time, he understudied the role for a year at the Prince Edward Theatre.

I recently spoke to Michael, who is one of the friendliest and most hospitable performers I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing, backstage in his dressing room at the Piccadilly Theatre after a matinee performance about how it feels to have taken over as Frankie, how he prepared to take on one of the biggest roles in musical theatre and his future career ambitions…

You’ve been lead Frankie for nearly five months now! You must be feeling more settled. What was it like taking over? 
It was definitely a quite surreal experience because not only did I take over from Ryan (Molloy) who was the original over here, but we had the original Broadway Frankie, John Lloyd Young, come and do six weeks. I took over from the two masters of the trade! It was a mad experience and I tried to take it in my stride without letting it get on my shoulders too much. As you say, as time goes on you settle in and find your own way of ‘being Frankie’ and don’t try to recreate anything. It’s about finding your own way of playing the role around the system of the show.

Competition: Win a pair of tickets to see Blood Brothers on tour!

We are giving away a pair of free top price tickets to the UK Tour of BLOOD BROTHERS! To enter the competition, simply sign up to West End Frame's mailing list below.

The winner will be randomly selected at 10am on Thursday 4th October 2014 (entries after this time will not be included). The prize is valid on Monday – Thursday performances at all tour venues until 29th January 2015.

Even if you already subscribe to West End Frame's newsletter you still have to input your details below to enter this particular competition. You will not receive our newsletter twice (assuming you enter the same email address). Please read the terms and conditions below.

Written by Willy Russell, the legendary BLOOD BROTHERS tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. The superb score includes Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True. 

Janie Dee stars in 84 Charing Cross Road at the Salisbury Playhouse

Following her recent acclaimed performance in Blithe Spirit opposite Angela Lansbury, it has been announced that Janie Dee will lead the cast of a new production of 84 Charing Cross Road at the Salisbury Playhouse. The play premiered at the theatre in 1981.

James Roose-Evans - who wrote the stage adaptation and directed the original production - has signed up to direct the revival. 84 Charing Cross Road runs between Thursday 5th and Saturday 28th February 2015.

84 Charing Cross Road tells the story of Helene Hanff  who, over a period of 20 years beginning in 1949, had a transatlantic correspondence with a bookseller based at the titular address. Based on Hanff's 1970 book, the play enjoyed success in the West End and on Broadway. It was also adapted into a film which starred Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft.

Janie Dee is one of theatre’s biggest stars, having played countless starring roles in musicals and plays in both London’s West End and in some of the UK’s most prestigious regional theatres. As well as Blithe Spirit, Dee's most recent theatre credits include Putting It Together (St James) and Noises Off (Old Vic).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Full casting announced for Landor's revival of Damn Yankees

Full casting has been announced for the Landor Theatre's revival of Damn Yankees.

The production opens on Tuesday 7th October 2014 (previews from 1st October) and runs until Saturday 8th November 2014.  Damn Yankees is written by Richard Adler (music), Jerry Ross (lyrics) and George Abbott and Douglass Wallop (book). 

Jonathan D Ellis (Les MisĂ©rables, Blood Brothers) will star as the Mephistophelean Applegate. He will be joined by Poppy Tierney (The Witches of Eastwick) as Lola and Alex Lodge (Saturday Night Fever) as Joe Hardy. Tony Stansfield will play Van Buren, the role he first played in the 1990s West End run!

Interview: Liam Doyle

Liam Doyle is currently rehearsing for the UK premiere of Altar Boyz. The production will play a strictly limited run of 14 performances at the Greenwich Theatre between Friday 3rd October and Saturday 18th October 2014.

Altar Boyz is described as a “foot-stomping, rafter-raising” musical comedy about a fictitious boyband on the last night of their Raise the Praise tour. The show is “full of sharp parody, sinfully spectacular dancing and irreverent humour.” 

Liam recently originated the role of Fiyero in the first UK and Ireland tour of Wicked. After winning GMTV’s ‘Search for Troy Bolton’ competition, Liam toured the UK as Troy in High School Musical. 

His theatre credits also include: Link in Hairspray (UK Tour), Eddie and understudy Sky in Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales / Novello), Camp Rock (Dubai), Ricky Nelson in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven (national tour) and After The Turn (Courtyard). 

I recently spoke to Liam about life post Wicked, why Altar Boyz is a new challenge and the support he receives from theatre fans…

You’ve just left Wicked and have literally gone straight into rehearsals for Altar Boyz. Is your brain frazzled? Both shows couldn’t be more different!
Yes! It’s actually a really nice change. I loved being in Wicked but this is something which is new and which is really fresh. Everybody working on Altar Boyz wants it to be the best it possibly can be, there’s such a nice team. I’m loving every second of it! It has actually made leaving Wicked a lot easier because this is so much fun.

Jeremy Secomb & Siobhan McCarthy star in new production of Sweeney Todd

Casting has been announced for a new production of Sweeney Todd at Tooting Arts Club starring Jeremy Secomb and Siobhan McCarthy as Sweeney and Mrs Mrs Lovett.

Secomb's West End credits include The Phantom of the Opera, Lend Me A Tenor The Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Evita and The Woman in White. 

McCarthy was nominated for an Olivier Award after originating the role of Donna in Mamma Mia. She also starred as Sveltana and the mistress in the original London productions of Chess and Evita. Most recently she played Velma Von Tussle in the West End production of Hairspray.

The cast will also includes David Freedman as Judge Turpin, Ian Mowat as Beadle, Kiara Jay as Pirelli/Beggar Woman, Nadim Naaman as Anthony, Grace Chapman as Johanna and Joseph Taylor as Tobias.

Thriller Live extends West End booking to September 2015

The West End production of Thriller Live has extended its West End booing period at the Lyric Theatre to Sunday 6th September 2015.

A press statement from producers Paul Walden and Derek Nicol reads: “We are thrilled that Thriller Live continues to be one of the longest running shows in the West End and its celebration of the music and iconic choreography of one of the world’s greatest ever artists is continuing to attract new generations of theatregoers from around the world. 

"We are looking forward to theming the theatre’s bars for a ghoulish week celebrating all things Halloween and the show’s iconic title track, Thriller, and we are delighted that lead singer Cleo Higgins has been nominated Best West End Debut in the West End Frame Awards.

Thriller Live continues to set and break records and new territories around the globe, where it has now performed to standing ovations in 28 countries from South Korea to Norway, Poland and South America to China.The latest world tour will take in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.