Friday, 28 June 2013

Understudy of the Year: The Top Five

Ashley Day
Understudy Elder Price
 The Book of Mormon
21% of the final vote

Understudy of the Year 2013: 6th - 18th place

6th place
Jon Tsouras
Understudy Greg / Bobby
A Chorus Line
5% of the final vote

Keith Chegwin and Olga Sharutenko to star in The Nutcracker on Ice at the London Palladium

It has been announced that the Imperial Ice Stars will bring their new production of The Nutcracker on Ice to the heart of the West End this autumn. Starring ITV’s Dancing on Ice duo Keith Chegwin and Olga Sharutenko, The Nutcracker on Ice will open at the London Palladium on Thursday 24th October for a strictly limited season of 14 performances only until Sunday 3rd November. Press night will be held on Friday 25th October.

Earlier today it was announced that Barry Humphries's Farwell Tour will transfer to the London Palladium from 13th November until 8th January. Simon Cowell's I Can't Sing! The Musical will begin previews at the iconic theatre in February. 

The Palladium is no stranger to ice; the iconic London venue was once the site of The National Skating Palace in the late 1890s, and hosted the World Figure Skating Championships in 1898. The Nutcracker on Ice marks the first time almost 36 years that the London Palladium stage will be transformed into an ice rink.

Over the last nine years, The Imperial Ice Stars have performed to almost four million people across five continents, at some of the world’s most prestigious venues – London’s Royal Albert Hall and Sadler’s Wells, Singapore’s new Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre, Montreal’s Place des Arts and Moscow’s Red Square.

Ashley Day wins West End Frame's Understudy of the Year Award 2013

Following an intense six week voting period, we are thrilled to announce that Ashley Day has won West End Frame's Understudy of the Year Award 2013 for understudying the role of Elder Price in The Book of Mormon! 

The record breaking Broadway show officially opened at the West End's Prince of Wales Theatre on 21st March 2013. Ashley made his Elder Price debut the following week when Gavin Creel became ill with laryngitis.

Speaking to West End Frame, Ashley said: "I am overjoyed to have won Understudy of the Year! It's such an honour to be working on this show and to be part of the 'Mormon' family. Thank you to everyone who voted and to West End Frame for recognising all of us understudies."

No stranger to the West End, Ashley most recently understudied the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. His other theatre credits include Troy Bolton in High School Musical (UK tour), Evita directed by Michael Grandage (Adelphi) and Mary Poppins directed by Richard Eyre (original cast, Prince Edward).

The result was extremely close. Despite theatre fans voting in their thousands, just thirty votes separated the top two. Alan Burkitt, who understudies Jerry Travers in the West End production of Top Hat, comes second. Alan recently received rave reviews for his performance when Gavin Lee was too unwell to perform on press night.

Heidi Range to star in Happy Days UK Tour

It has been announced that Happy Days - A New Musical will receive its UK Premiere when it embarks on a UK Tour next year. The production will star the Sugababes' longest serving member, Heidi Range as ‘Pinky Tuscadero’. 

Directed and choreographed by Andrew Wright, Happy Days will open at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley in January 2014, before commencing a national tour. According to press material, "further star casting will be announced shortly". 

Happy Days is written by Garry Marshall, the legendary creator of the television series. Garry is also the director of many world-wide smash-hit films including Pretty Woman, Beaches and The Princess Diaries 1&2. It includes 21 original songs by Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning Hall of Fame Songwriter, Paul Williams (Bugsy Malone, Evergreen, Rainy Days and Mondays) as well as the much-loved Happy Days theme song from the TV show.

Henry Winkler, the original Fonz from the television series will serve as Creative Consultant, working alongside the director in creating the ‘Happy Days’ world of 1959 America and guiding the cast in creating their ever so familiar characters, especially that of ‘The Fonz’.

Review: Derren Brown: Infamous at the Palace Theatre

Derren Brown: Infamous
Palace Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 27th June 2013

It is one thing to watch Derren Brown's television shows, but to see his unique brand of magic and mind control live is like nothing I have ever experienced before in my life. It is very hard to write an in-depth review as during the performance Derren asked journalists, as well as the entire audience, not to give away what happens during the performance.

CONFIRMED: Owain Arthur returns to One Man, Two Guvnors, Angela Griffin & Kellie Shirley join the cast

It has been confirmed that on 23rd September 2013, having travelled over 25,500 miles worldwide and performed almost 500 times as loveable chancer Francis Henshall, Owain Arthur will return to the Theatre Royal Haymarket to lead the cast of One Man, Two Guvnors, the National Theatre’s internationally acclaimed smash hit comedy.

Arthur will be joined by Angela Griffin as Dolly with Kellie Shirley and Peter Caulfield reprising their roles of Pauline Clench and Alfie, previous played in the One Man, Two Guvnors touring productions. Dominic Thorburn joins the cast to play Alan Dangle. 

Current cast members Sam Alexander as Stanley Stubbers, David Benson as Gareth, Ian Burfield as Charlie Clench, Amy Cudden as Rachel Crabbe, Derek Elroy as Lloyd Boateng and Hugh Sachs as Harry Dangle will continue in their roles.

Theatre Gossip: Killian Donnelly, Sarah O’Connor and Sean Kearns join ensemble of The Commitments

Killian Donnelly
According to the Daily Mail, Killian Donnelly (Billy Elliot, Les Miserables), Sarah O’Connor (Les Miserables) and Sean Kearns (Billy Elliot, The 39 Steps) have been cast in the ensemble of The Commitments. 

The Commitments opens at the Palace Theatre on Tuesday 8th October 2013 (with previews from 21st September). Tickets are on sale now! The show has been adapted for the stage by Roddy Doyle from his original novel. 

The production will be directed by Jamie Lloyd, who most recently directed Macbeth as part of Trafalgar Transformed at Trafalgar Studios. The show will be packed with classic soul songs including ‘Mustang Sally’.

The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced. The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesiser band – the opening scene has them playing but ignored in a shop window - who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.

Theatre Gossip: Owain Arthur returning to One Man, Two Guvnors, Angela Griffin, Kellie Shirley and Dominic Thorburn to join the cast

According to the Daily Mail, Owain Arthur will return to the West End production of One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 23rd September 2013. Owain was originally James Corden's understudy in the play before taking over when the Gavin and Stacey actor transferred to the Broadway production. Owain has recently been starring in the UK and international tours of the National Theatre's hit show.

The newspaper also claims that Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin, Eastenders actress Kellie Shirley and West End favourite Dominic Thorburn will join the cast from September.

This gossip has now been confirmed! Click here for the full story.

Speaking to West End Frame during an interview last year, Owain said "It’s hard work but I'm definitely still enjoying it. Getting to please audiences night after night is such a treat for an actor as you rarely get to do that every day." Click here to read to full interview.

Multi award-winning One Man, Two Guvnors opened at the National Theatre in May 2011. In November 2011, after its first UK tour, the show transferred to the Adelphi Theatre where it completed a sell out run. Since 2nd March 2012 the London production has been playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The Broadway production of One Man, Two Guvnors completed its successful run at the Music Box Theater in 2012. 

Barry Humphries's Farwell Tour to transfer to the London Palladium

It has been announced that global star and legendary entertainer Barry Humphries is to transfer his Farewell Tour to the London Palladium. The production will open on Friday 15th November (previews from 13th November) and will run until Saturday 8th January.

EAT PRAY LAUGH! will give audiences the chance to bid farewell to Humphries, arguably Australia’s greatest entertainment export, whose creations have brought him international acclaim and adoration: cultural attaché the Honorable Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone and, of course, the incomparable Dame Edna Everage.

The London Palladium has played host to the greatest stars that Variety entertainment has known, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye and Sir Bruce Forsyth. Now Dame Edna Everage – the Gigastar of Variety! – will take her final bow at the iconic London venue.

Dame Edna today said, "I've been away from home too long possums, and my true home is the London Palladium. Book now for the housewarming party of the century!" 

Humphries, one of the world’s sharpest wits and finest comic talents, has already taken his final triumphant bow to audiences throughout Australia and New Zealand where additional performances were added across the tour to satisfy the demand of more than a quarter of a million adoring fans.

CONFIRMED: Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical 'Stephen Ward' to premiere at the Aldwych Theatre in December

After months of speculation, it has finally been confirmed that Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, Stephen Ward, will receive its world premiere in the West End later this year.

Directed by Richard Eyre, Stephen Ward will open at the Aldwych Theatre (currently home to Top Hat) on 19th December 2013 (previews from 3rd December) and is currently booking until 1st March 2014. Tickets go on sale on 28th June, starting from £15. Top price seats cost £57.50 and casting will be announced in due course.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Interview: Gareth Gates

Since coming second in the first series of Pop Idol back in 2001, not only has Gareth Gates had a hugely successful career as a recording artist, selling over 3.5 million records in the UK, but he has also had an incredible career in musical theatre.

Gareth’s theatre career began when he took over from Lee Mead to star in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He then created the role of Marius in the International 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables and went on to play the part in the West End. His other theatre credits include Eddie in Loserville (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Cain in Children of Eden (Prince of Wales) and Warner in Legally Blonde (UK Tour). Most recently Gareth starred alongside The Osmonds in the UK Tour of Boogie Nights.

Next month Gareth will star opposite We Will Rock You’s Rachel Wooding in the short UK Tour of Momentous Musicals. The show, which sees West End stars perform some of the most popular songs in musical theatre, will visit the New Wimbledon Theatre on Wednesday 17th July, the Princess Theatre, Torquay on Friday 19th July, the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford on Monday 22nd July and the Palace Theatre, Manchester on Thursday 25th July.

Recently I spoke to Gareth about what people can expect from Momentous Musicals, when his love for theatre first began and what roles he has his eye on and would like to play in the future...

Having performed in Momentous Musicals last year, are you looking to touring the UK with the show next month?
Yes, the show was such a great success and we had incredible feedback which is why we've added a few more dates this year. I'm really looking forward to it because I had so much fun doing it last time.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory extends booking following mixed reviews

Sam Mendes' production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opened earlier this week to mixed reviews, has extended its run at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane by six months with half a million new tickets going on sale. The production will now run until at leat 31st May 2014.

The Daily Mail described the show as "as slow as cold treacle" and The Arts Desk said that Sam Mendes' production is "as bland and sugary as cheap confectionery" while The Mirror described the show as "Truly magical".

Review: Fences at the Duchess Theatre

Duchess Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 24th June 2013

August Wilson's Fences is a compelling piece of theatre which is superbly acted by one of the strongest casts in the West End.

Review: Cats (UK Tour) at the Milton Keynes Theatre

Cats (UK Tour)
Milton Keynes Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 26th June 2013

Despite Cats being one of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, this was my first time seeing it. From the moment that the house lights go down and the orchestra begin to play the iconic melody, you cannot help but be transported into a very weird but wonderful world.

Review: Pride and Prejudice at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Pride and Prejudice
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 26th June 2013

This adaptation of the classic Jane Austin novel provides a charming night at the theatre, despite its length and its tendency to slip into pantomime.

Full casting announced for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre

Final casting has been announced for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre.

The production will see Richard Eyre return to the Almeida to adapt and direct Ibsen’s famous play. Ghosts opens on 3rd October 2013 (previews from 26th September) and runs until 23rd November 2013.

Brian McCardie (Jacob Engstrand) and Charlene McKenna (Regina Engstrand) join the previously announced Lesley Manville (Helene Alving), Jack Lowden (Oswald Alving) and Will Keen (Pastor Manders).   

Helene Alving has spent her life suspended in an emotional void after the death of her cruel but outwardly charming husband. She is determined to escape the ghosts of her past by telling her son, Oswald, the truth about his father. But on his return from his life as a painter in France, Oswald reveals how he has already inherited the legacy of his father’s dissolute life.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Will Young to star in Cabaret UK Tour

It has been announced that Will Young will reprise his role in Rufus Norris’ acclaimed production of Cabaret. Following a successful West End run at the Savoy Theatre last year, the UK tour of Cabaret will open at the New Wimbledon Theatre on Wednesday 28th August 2013.

Ever since winning the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2002, Will Young has been one of the UK’s most popular and successful music artists and holds the record for the fastest selling debut single in British chart history. Will has also enjoyed a successful acting career which saw him appear alongside Dame Judi Dench in the film Mrs Henderson Presents, and it is the combination of these talents which has led him to star in Cabaret.

Tim McArthur to star in Nunsense at the Landor Theatre

It has been announced that the Landor Theatre will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Nunsense with its production of Nunsense A-men!

The production opens on 1st July (previews from 27th July) and runs until 29th July. The show stars  Sister Mary McArthur (the musical comedy creation of Tim McArthur) as the Reverend Mother and is directed by Robert McWhir whose previous successes have included I Love You Because, Ragtime, Curtains and A Class Act.

While Sister Mary McArthur has appeared in various cabaret, Nunsense A-men! marks her musical theatre debut. This totally unexpected opportunity came about when she was slurping tea and chomping flapjacks with the theatre’s artistic director Robert McWhir who confided he was worried about an unexpected gap in the programme. The least she could do was to try and help him fill it... she had always had this desire to star in a musical and was sure the other sisters would help out!

Interview: Bonnie Langford and Joe Pasquale

Last week comedy legend and winner of I’m A Celebrity, Joe Pasquale, joined Bonnie Langford (aka the Queen of the West End) in Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre. 

Pasquale stars as King Arthur and Langford plays The Lady of the Lake. Joe Pasquale and Bonnie Langford starred in Peter Pan together thirteen years ago and after they were reunited via Twitter, Joe came to see her in Spamalot. Following the performance, Bonnie suggested that Joe would make a great King Arthur and put the idea to the show’s producers.

Spamalot tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and features a bevy (or possibly a brace) of beautiful show girls, killer rabbits and French people. The show also features fantastic tunes more magical than a Camelot convention, including He Is Not Dead Yet, Knights of the Round Table, Find Your Grail and of course the Nation’s Favourite Comedy Song (Reader’s Digest Poll 2010 - before it went bust), Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

As one of the country’s most popular funny men for over 20 years, Joe Pasquale has appeared on stage in six Royal Variety Performances and in the touring productions of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, The Wizard of Oz and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Joe won the 2004 series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and also made it to round six of ITV1’s Dancing on Ice earlier this year.

Musical Theatre legend Bonnie Langford has starred in countless musicals including 9 to 5, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity, Oklahoma!, 42nd Street, Me and My Girl, The Pirates of Penzance, Cats, Gypsy and Gone with the Wind. On screen she has starred in Opportunity Knocks, Bugsy Malone, Just William, The Hot Shoe Show, Doctor Who and Dancing on Ice.

Last week I visited Joe and Bonnie backstage at the Playhouse Theatre to discuss Spamalot’s incredible success, what it was like for Joe to join such a well established show, Bonnie’s dream King Arthur and social networking...

What do you think is the secret to Spamalot’s success?
BL: Spamalot was going before in a different incarnation, the show was longer and more ‘Broadway-ish’. What they’ve done with this new version is slimmed it down and ‘trimmed off the fat’ which I think is part of its charm. The show is completely mad but is no longer indulgent. There is something for everyone, ultimately people like the British eccentricity. The show wasn’t actually meant to run this long though, this new production was touring. I joined the tour in 2012 and then that was meant to be it. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Review: All Saints at the Last Refuge

All Saints
The Last Refuge
Reviewed on Tuesday 18th June 2013

All Saints, a new play by Nicola Baldwin, concerns itself with the dilapidated titular Church in Peckham and its dwindling congregation. Lead by recently-arrived vicar Stella, the church is on the precipice of collapse, both in terms of the building itself and its lack of engagement with the local community. Towards the start of the play, Stella talks longingly of vibrant church communities in local warehouses and shop fronts and she longs to bring that fervour into her ailing flock.

Review: Less Than Kind (UK Tour) at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Less Than Kind (UK Tour)
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 24th June 2013

Less Than Kind opens with Olivia Brown skillfully organising a busy social life for her and her partner, Sir John Fletcher. It transpires that her beautiful home belongs to Sir John who is going through a divorce. In her former life Olivia, now widowed, had a modest lifestyle married to a dentist. It is apparent, however, that Olivia and Sir John are very much in love. Then Olivia’s son, who had been sent away at age 12 when war broke out, returns trying to demonstrate he is now an adult with socialist views and he objects to his mother’s relationship with a man who he considers a fascist.

Full casting announced for the West End return of Dirty Dancing

Last month it was announced that Jill Winternitz, Paul-Michael Jones and Charlotte Gooch will star in the West End return of Dirty Dancing. The record-breaking show opens on Saturday 13th July  for a limited season at London’s Piccadilly Theatre until Saturday 22nd February.

The full cast includes: Colin Charles (‘Tito Suarez’), James Coombes (‘Dr. Jake Houseman’), Mark Faith (‘Mr Schumacher’), Stefan Menaul (‘Neil Kellerman’), Julia J Nagle (‘Marjorie Houseman’), Michael Remick (‘Max Kellerman’), Wayne Smith (‘Billy Kostecki’) and Emilia Williams (‘Lisa Houseman’) plus an ensemble cast comprising of Jonathan Cordin, Gemma Fuller, Rebecca Hodge, Faisal Khodabukus, Callum Nicol, Rosa O'Reilly, Adam Philpott, Kate-Emma Portlock, Stephanie Powell, Joseph Prouse, Aaron Richardson, Claire Rogers, Russell Smith, Lizzie Stavrou, Will Tyler and Tara Verloop.

Earlier this month it was announced that Jersey Boys will move to the Piccadilly Theatre after Dirty Dancing's run, making way for Miss Saigon to open at the Price Edward Theatre.

24 hours left to vote for Understudy Of The Year 2013

You only have 24 hours left to vote for your favourite understudy to win West End Frame's Understudy of the Year 2013! Voting must close at 3pm tomorrow (Wednesday 26th June). The result will be announced on Friday (28th June). CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW.

Eighteen understudies, standby's and alternates have been nominated for the award which is part of the 2013 West End Frame Awards. The nominees are: Alan Burkitt, Anna O'Byrne, Ashley Day, Ben Jennings, Charlotte Scott, Chris Holland, Claire Poyzer, Emma Hatton, Gary Watson, Gloria Onitiri, Hayley Gallivan, Johnny Gibbon, Jon Tsouras, Jonny Purchase, Katie Paine, Olivia Greene, Stuart Ward and Tim Driesen.

Miss Saigon to hold open auditions in London next month

After months of speculation, last week Cameron Mackintosh finally confirmed that Miss Saigon will return to London, opening at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014. Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh's production of Alain Boulil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's epic show has become one of the most successful musicals in history and the greatest success ever to play the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. 

Auditions have already been held in Manila and now open auditions for East and Southeast Asian actors, singers and dancers are to be held in London on 1st and 2nd July, will successful auditionees beginning rehearsals next Spring. All the details are below:

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sneak Peek at... Anita Dobson & the cast of Carnival of the Animals in rehearsals

Images have been released of cast members rehearsing for Carnival of the Animals, a new musical which will premiere at Riverside Studios in London from 4th to 14th July for 14 performances only. Take a look at the pictures below! (Click on an image to enlarge.)

The French composer Camille Saint-Saens wrote his short orchestral suite The Carnival of the Animals as a work of fun for his friends, and did not permit a public performance during his lifetime. Since his death, the piece has become a firm family favourite in the concert hall, with many of its melodies, such as The Elephant, The Aquarium, Fossils and The Swan, achieving popular recognition. 

Composer Gavin Greenaway, lyricist Roger Hyams and book writer Andrew Marshall, along with director Thom Southerland and producer Brian Eastman, have now taken this music and worked it into a new stage musical, capturing the family appeal Saint-Saens first created.

Review: West End Heroes at the Dominion Theatre

West End Heroes
Dominion Theatre
Sunday 23rd June 2013

Last night West End Heroes, a unique charity gala concert bringing West End stars and military musicians together, took place at the Dominion Theatre to raise money for Help For Heroes. The performers were accompanied by the most incredible fifty piece orchestra from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

A Chorus Line confirms early closure and announces European & UK Tours

Producers of A Chorus Line have confirmed that the revival will close on Saturday 31st August 2013. The production was previously booking until 4th January 2014 at the London Palladium. Simon Cowell's X Factor musical (called 'I Can't Sing The Musical') begins previews at the Palladium in February 2014, it is currently unknown what production will fill the gap. 

The producers of A Chorus Line are currently finalising European touring plans for the production that will give audiences in Germany, Holland, France and beyond the chance to see the acclaimed London production, prior to a UK tour beginning in Autumn 2014.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Review: Rock Of Ages at the Garrick Theatre

Rock Of Ages
Garrick Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 19th June 2013

Featuring the greatest 80s rock songs, Rock Of Ages provides a night like no other. The show is most certainly the loudest, sexiest and hottest musical in London. Following a 16 month run at the Shaftesbury Theatre, earlier this year Rock of Ages transferred to the slightly smaller Garrick Theatre. The Garrick is the perfect home for Rock of Ages as the show's design is fairly simple and it provides a slightly more intimate experience which works with the tongue-in-cheek humour.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Theatre Gossip: A Chorus Line to close at the end of August

According to various online sources, A Chorus Line will close on 31st August 2013. The production was previously booking until 4th January 2014. It is rumoured that the cast were told earlier today, before the news broke online. Producers are yet to comment and officially confirm the closure.

Simon Cowell's X Factor musical (called 'I Can't Sing The Musical') begins previews at the Palladium in February 2014, it is currently unknown what production will fill the gap. However, there have been rumours that the touring production of Hairspray could transfer to the theatre for a limited season. Please remember nothing has yet been confirmed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Interview: Russell Grant

Russell Grant is hosting Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical on 23rd June & 10th July at the St. James Studio. 2013 marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of the Welsh-born composer, who gives his name to both a West End theatre and the internationally respected Ivor Novello Awards. The evening also features other British theatre composers such as Noël Coward, Lionel Bart and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Russell's love of Novello began when he toured in the last major production of Novello’s King’s Rhapsody. 

Following a successful stint on Strictly Come Dancing, Russell was invited by Andrew Lloyd Webber to star in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. The show marked his return to the Palladium after 34 years when he performed there alongside Tommy Steele in Hans Andersen. 

Russell's other West End credits include Slogger Williams in Tom Brown’s Schooldays (Cambridge), the Snake in Children of Eden (Prince of Wales) and Carlos in Midnight Tango (Phoenix Theatre). Last year Russell won plaudits galore with his glitzy Teen Angel in the 20th Anniversary production of Grease in which he performed a unique Latin dance mega-mix choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

Earlier this week I spoke to Russell about why he is so passionate about Novello's work, his involvement with Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical and his amazing theatre career...

When did you fall in love with the work of Ivor Novello?
I’ve always been involved with Ivor Novello from a very young age. Back in the 70’s I toured the UK in King’s Rhapsody which was one of his great operettas. I toured for six months and totally fell in love with his music – it is just out of this world. Ever since I have campaigned to get more and more recognition with modern day audiences as he was, and still is, such an important man. 

Top Hat to close on 26th October, followed by 2014/15 UK Tour

After months of rumours, it has been confirmed that the West End production of Top Hat will close at the Aldwych Theatre on 26th October 2013, apparently making way for the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, Stephen Ward. There are plans for 2014/15 UK Tour.

Top Hat’s producer Kenny Wax said "It has been such a great privilege to have produced the first ever stage adaptation of Top Hat. We look forward to taking the production out on an 18 month national and international tour and over the years to come I have no doubt that the stage musical will be performed by both professional and amateur companies all over the world. I hope they have as much fun as we're having."

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace announce UK Tour of brand new dance show

Following a successful West End run and UK Tour of Midnight Tango, Strictly Come Dancing's Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have announced plans to tour the UK next year with a brand new dance show.

'Dance 'Til Dawn' is described as a sensation new dance show straight from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The tour will open at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne, in February 2014 before touring the UK until July.

Former World Champions, Vincent and Flavia shot to fame with their breathtaking Argentine Tango on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing. Since the dazzling duo launched Midnight Tango in 2010, they have thrilled over half a million people across the UK both on tour and in London’s West End.

Review: The Night Alive at the Donmar Warehouse

The Night Alive
Donmar Warehouse
Reviewed on Thursday 20th June 2013

Following a recent run of Conor McPherson’s contemporary classic, The Weir, The Donmar Warehouse is currently hosting the world premiere of McPherson’s new play, The Night Alive. The Irish playwright has also directed the production which features a rock solid cast who are hard to fault. I love the bluntness of McPherson’s writing which is both funny and gruesomely intense in places.

Theatre Gossip: Dusty Springfield musical to open in the West End next year

According to the Daily Mail, a new musical based on the life of Dusty Springfield is being planned to open in the West End next year. 

Producers Vicki Wickham (who was friends with Dusty) and David Ian (producer of The Bodyguard) have apparently asked writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig to write the musical which is currently untitled and has no director. The show will apparently only feature numbers associated with Dusty.

Wickham told the paper that she has seen numerous "really bad" shows and scripts about Dusty. 

She said "Dusty was extraordinary. Yes, she could drive you mad — all divas do. But there’s such a lovely side to her that should, and will, be told."

She also said the show will be the story of Dusty’s life, following the singer from the days when she was still known by her birth name, Mary O’Brien, through her rise to chart-topping success. Dusty's biggest hits include Son Of A Preacher Man, I Only Want To Be With You, Wishin’ And Hopin’, and Yesterday When I Was Young. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Review: Bracken Moor at the Tricycle Theatre

Bracken Moor
Tricycle Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 18th June 2013

Alexi Kaye Campbell’s new play is a very dark piece of theatre. In places Bracken Moor is a psychological horror, a genre which doesn't usually translate well on stage. I'm not a fan of shows such as The Woman In Black because I think eventually they can become a little cheesy and predictable. However, Bracken Moor works well and the 'horror' parts do not become cheesy.

Musical Directors to receive recognition at 2014 Oliviers with introduction of new category

Helen Mirren
It has been announced that the Olivier Awards 2014 will be held on Sunday 13th April, once again at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. 

The cut-off date for eligible productions is Tuesday 25th February 2014. Further details will be announced in January 2014.

A new category has also been revealed. The brand new “Outstanding Achievement in Music" category will bring together potential nominations across the music fields including composition of original music for plays, orchestration and musical supervision/direction.

Confirmed: Miss Saigon West End revival to open at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014

After months of speculation, it has finally been confirmed that Miss Saigon will open at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014, following the transfer of Jersey Boys to the Piccadilly Theatre. Tickets go on sale 9th September 2013.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh said: "I find it hard to believe that it is already 25 years since I first premiered Miss Saigon in London, where it became the greatest success ever in the long history of the Drury Lane Theatre and went on to be a phenomenal success around the world."

"Ten years ago I decided to reconceive the show in a completely re-imagined physical production that could play a far greater number of theatres than the original but still retains Bob Avian's legendary musical staging and the same scale of cast. As well as touring the UK with enormous success the new production directed by Laurence Connor has been seen in numerous countries around the world where it has been embraced by audiences and critics alike with as much enthusiasm as the original."

"If anything the tragic love story of Miss Saigon has become even more relevant today. In the last 25 years our country has become involved in similar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the way we weren't in Vietnam and the American Dream has been buffeted by the reality of recent history. The new production has taken a more gritty and realistic approach to the design than the operatic original but still delivers the power and epic sweep of Boublil and Schönberg's great score."

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Louise Dearman, Kerry Ellis & Ramin Karimloo help launch new musical theatre radio station

Wise Buddah and Mothership Management have announced plans to launch a brand new online online radio station, Stage Door, for fans of musical theatre. An Indiegogo campaign has been launched today (19th June) to help make Stage Door a reality. Some of the biggest West End stars have already agreed to present programmes which, as well as playing musical theatre songs, would broadcast the latest news, backstage gossip and interviews.

Louise Bowden (Singin’ In The Rain), Louise Dearman (Wicked), Kerry Ellis (Wicked), Mark Evans (The Book of Mormon), Hadley Fraser (Les Misérables), Alex Gaumond (Top Hat), Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom of the Opera) and Oliver Tompsett (We Will Rock You) have already signed up to host a show on Stage Door when it launches.