Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Editor's Blog: West End Frame readers pick 2014 theatrical highlights

Earlier this week, as I found myself struggling to write my top ten shows and performances features, I took to Twitter to ask all of you about your 2014 theatrical highlights. I thought this might help me narrow down my own personal list, but in fact it only made it harder! However, as we received hundreds of Tweets I thought it would nice to put some of them together into a special feature. Find out what everyone had to say below:

West End Frame Awards 2014: Full Winners List

Readers of West End Frame were invited to vote for five awards throughout 2014. The West End Frame Awards recognise brand new and long-running plays and musicals, combining male and female actors into the same categories. Voting opens for one award at a time. We were thrilled to receive over 52,000 votes this year! Take a look at the full list of winners below:

Publicly Voted Awards

Best West End Debut
Willemijn Verkaik 
for playing Elphaba in Wicked

Runners Up
Rachelle Ann Go for Miss Saigon
Alexandra Burke for The Bodyguard

Click here for full result / Photo Credit: Darren Bell
Best Performance of a Song in a Musical
Tam Mutu 
for his rendition of 'Stars' in Les Miserables

Runners Up
Carrie Hope Fletcher for Les Miserables
Gerónimo Rauch for The Phantom of the Opera

Funniest West End Show
The Book of Mormon
at the Prince of Wales Theatre

Runners Up
The Commitments at the Palace Theatre
Urinetown at the St James Theatre

Understudy of the Year
Carolyn Maitland
for understudying Ellen in Miss Saigon

Runners Up
Tanya Manalang for Miss Saigon
Layla Harrison for The Phantom of the Opera

London Fringe Production of the Year
Chicken Shop
at the Park Theatre

Runners Up
Love Story at the Union Theatre
Damn Yankees at the Landor Theatre

Click here for full result / Photo Credit: Kim Hardy

Editor's Choice

Most popular West End Frame news articles, interviews & reviews of 2014

Find out which West End Frame news articles, interviews and reviews were most read in 2014:

Most popular news articles

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Editor's Blog: Top 10 shows of 2014

2014 has been an incredibly diverse year for theatre. Producers have taken some risks and it's great that several off-West End productions managed to make it into the West End. In 2014 I went to the theatre 257 times and, out of everything I have seen (in the West End and on Broadway as well as in off-West End, regional and fringe theatres), below I have highlighted my top ten personal favourite shows...

10
Assassins
Menier Chocolate Factory
"I don't think I breathed once"
Photo Credit: Nobby Clark

Assassins is probably the most intense piece of theatre ever written and Jamie Lloyd's production at the Menier has set theatreland alight (it sold out shortly after opening). I don't think I breathed once for the entire hour and forty-five minutes. The ensemble cast - featuring the likes of Catherine Tate, Simon Lipkin and Aaron Tveit - are remarkably strong. I am still digesting the piece and am hugely looking forward to seeing it a second time next year (I ensured I bought a ticket before publishing my review).

Monday, 29 December 2014

Sneak peek at... the new cast of Shakespeare In Love in rehearsals

Producers of Shakespeare In Love have released images of its new West End cast in rehearsals. Check out the pictures below (click image to enlarge).

From 12th January the production will welcome Orlando James and Eve Ponsonby as Will Shakespeare and Viola De Lesseps. The pair recently appeared together in Cheek by Jowl’s production of ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore. 

The new cast will also feature: Nicholas Asbury as Wessex, Neal Barry as Henslowe, Richard Bremmer as Tilney and Sir Robert De Lesseps, Paul Brennen as Fennyman, Suzanne Burden as Queen Elizabeth, Ryan Donaldson as Ned Alleyn, Edward Franklin as Marlowe, Ncuti Gatwa as Wabash, Gregg Lowe as Sam, Andy McKeane as Ralph, Peter Moreton as Burbage, Joy Richardson as Nurse, Charlie Tighe as Nol and Stuart Wilde as Webster. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Editor's Blog: Top 5 theatrical events of 2014

Every year we seem to be more and more spoilt for choice when it comes to theatrical events. This year has seen iconic shows close, productions broadcast around the world and performers returning to shows to recreate their celebrated performances. A certain theatre star also went mainstream and various concerts have left theatreland buzzing! Below are five theatrical events which particularly stood out for me this year...

5
We Will Rock You Closes

When We Will Rock You opened to negative reviews few predicted that it would go on to run in the West End for twelve years, rocking over 6.5 million people! Queen and Ben Elton's musical was so important as it attracted and created new theatregoers. Of course the final show was emotional and, although I wasn't in attendance, I have heard that it was an electrifying evening!

Editor's Blog: Top 10 performances of 2014

2014 has been an incredible year for theatre. Established stars have reminded us why they are known as theatrical legends whilst some new faces have stepped into the limelight for the first time. After looking back at every single show I have seen this year (including West End, Broadway, off-West End, fringe and regional theatre), below I have highlighted ten performances which particularly stood out for me...

10
Angela Lansbury
Blithe Spirit
Gielgud Theatre
Photo Credit: Johan Persson

In March Angela Lansbury returned to the West End stage for the first time in over thirty years to reprise her role as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's masterpiece, Blithe Spirit. She didn't hold back one bit, I have never seen a performance like it! A true legend, Lansbury received huge applause each time she entered and exited the stage - she was utterly sensational.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Impulse Productions to stage RENT

Impulse Productions are staging RENT next week. The show will run between 2nd and 4th January at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham. 

The production is in aid of Neil's Appeal for The Brain Tumour Charity. The cast features professional performers including: Samuel Robinson (Happy Days) as Mark, Cameron Sharp (Rock Of Ages, pictured right) as Roger and Jonathon Dudley (Titanic) as Angel.

The cast is completed by upcoming performers including: Sol Morgan (Collins), Jake Sharp (Benny), Alicia Antonietta Albanese (Mimi), Becci Steen (Maureen) and Sarah Yeomans (Joanne). Olivia Anderson, Joe Barnett, Katie Dean, Rebecca Haydon, Matthew Miller, Alice Plant, Luke Renwick, Jordan Ricketts, Charlotte Statham and Lydia Stephenson complete the company. Direction is by Luke Renwick with Musical Direction by Ian Stephenson.

You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don't Have Any Jews concert to be staged at the Garrick Theatre

It has been announced that You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don't Have Any Jews will be staged at the Garrick Theatre for one night only on Sunday 8th February 2015. 

The concert will "celebrate the ongoing Jewish contribution towards showbusiness". The cast will perform numbers by Sondheim, Bernstein, Berlin, Schwartz and many more. You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don't Have Any Jews is produced by Collaborative Artists LTD.

The cast includes: Shimi Goodman (pictured), Michaela Stern, Alex Marshall, Jodie Beth Meyer, Sasha Herst , Freya Tilly, Tanya Truman, Daniel Donskoy, Rebecca Wicking, Rosanna Harris, Simone Douani, Natasha Karp, Georgie Freeman, Francesca Berlin and Jackie Marks. Musical Direction is by Colm O'Regan.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Album Review: Rush Of Life by Julie Atherton



Rush Of Life
Julie Atherton
Theatre Bench Records
★★★★

In the land of musical theatre West End star Julie Atherton is known as the Queen of new writing. As well as showcasing her remarkable vocals, Atherton's latest studio album Rush Of Life features material by some of the industry's most exciting new writing talents.

Editor's Blog: Christmas telly picks + odds & ends

Turkey? Check. Presents? Check. Stagey TV planned and set to record...?

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some stagey TV. Highlights on Christmas Day include Kiss Me, Kate at the Proms (BBC2 / 14.45) starring Ben Davis, Tony Yazbeck, Alexandra Silber and Louise Dearman, as well as The Sound of Music Live (Channel 5 / 12.35) which was originally broadcast live on US TV. It stars Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Christian Borle and Audra McDonald.

Louise Dearman in Kiss Me, Kate at the Proms

If you're looking for a classic musical movie there's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Channel 5 / 15.25) or documentary-wise there's Frozen at Christmas (Channel 4 / 20.00) and Tim Rice - A Life In Song (BBC2 / 22.30).

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

London Fringe Production of the Year 2014: Full Result

Epsilon's production of Chicken Shop, which ran at the Park Theatre (Park90) in September, has won West End Frame's London Fringe Production of the Year Award. Love Story at the Union Theatre finishes second whilst Damn Yankees at the Landor Theatre finishes third. Other runners up include Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club) and In The Heights (Southwark Playhouse). Check out the full result below.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and voted in the 2014 West End Frame Awards! We received over 52,000 votes this year and can't wait to launch the first 2015 Award in February! We will be revealing the full 2014 winner's list, including Editor's choice awards, in due course.

WINNER
Chicken Shop 
Park Theatre (Park 90)
Photo Credit: Kim Hardy Photography
22% 

Chicken Shop wins 'London Fringe Production of the Year' Award

Epsilon's production of Chicken Shop, which ran at the Park Theatre (Park90) in September, has won West End Frame's London Fringe Production of the Year Award. 

Speaking to West End Frame, producer Angela Bull said: "Thank you West End Frame for this recognition. The buzz you get when you find a script that you know is special is so exciting, and then when the whole team come together for the first time, cast and crew, that excitement is palpable. 

"Epsilon couldn't have wished for a better team of people to be involved in a production. This award is for all of us and for the hard work that was put in. We would also like to thank the Park Theatre for housing us through the summer and believing in our season. 

"We all had such an amazing time working on Chicken Shop and so to top everything off by winning this award truly is the cherry on top. Above all, the show would have been nothing without its audience, who not only showed immense support during the run but have now gone a step further and voted us London Fringe Production of the Year. It just doesn't get any better than that! Thank you!"

Interview: Caroline Harker, starring in The Railway Children

Croline Harker is currently starring as Mother in the London revival of The Railway Children at the brand new King’s Cross Theatre. Caroline created the role in the play’s original run at Waterloo Station in 2010. 

The Railway Children is currently in previews ahead of its official opening on Wednesday 14th January 2015 and its run was recently extended to 6th September 2015. 

The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, once again features a live steam locomotive and a vintage carriage, originally built in 1896.

Caroline’s theatre credits include: Blithe Spirit (York Theatre Royal), Pride And Prejudice (Regent’s Park), The Village Bike (Sheffield Crucible), Tusk Tusk, The Strip and The Editing Process (all Royal Court), All Mouth (Menier), Entertaining Angels (Chichester/UK Tour), Present Laughter (UK Tour), Battle Royal (National), Falling (Hampstead), Things We Do For Love (Duchess) and Hidden Laughter (West End).

I recently spoke to Caroline about why she is reprising her performance in The Railway Children, the secret to the production’s success and what it has been like to rediscover the show…

When you found out The Railway Children was returning did you immediately jump at the chance to do it again?
Straight away I said “yes” because I had just done a play with Damian (Cruden) who is directing and also directed it before – I did Blithe Spirit with him in York. I love working with Damian so much that I had no hesitation. I know that’s odd because some people think they must never go backwards. Last time was a pretty unusual and special experience; site-specific theatre can be quite tough. At Waterloo there were lots of challenges, it wasn’t theatre as you know it and it was hard but I remember it so happily. It was a very good and rewarding time! It’s so nice to do something that you know the audience are enjoying!

Review: Singin' in the Rain at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Singin' in the Rain 
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Reviewed on Friday 19th December 2014
★★★★

I caught Chichester's recent production of Singin' in the Rain several times so was intrigued to see how such a big glamorous musical would work in such a small theatre. John Plews' production works a treat. The small cast have to work twice as hard. They burst with energy and carry the piece from beginning to end.

Monday, 22 December 2014

First casting announced for Jesus Christ Superstar 2015 UK Tour

First casting has been announced for the 2015 UK Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar which opens at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on Thursday 21st January.

Glenn Carter is set to return as Jesus, a role he has played in the West End, on Broadway and on film. The cast also includes Rhydian Roberts (Rocky Horror Show/X Factor, pictured right) as Pontius Pilot, Tim Rogers (Carousel/Whistle Down the Wind) as Judas Iscariot and Rachel Adedeji (Thriller Live/X Factor) as Mary Magdalene.

Jesus Christ Superstar has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. This new production is directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright with design by Paul Farnsworth, choreography by Carole Todd,  lighting by Nick Richings and sound by Dan Samson.

Big Interview: Katy Secombe

Katy Secombe is currently playing Mrs Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Rose Theatre Kingston which is one of the most successful selling productions in the Rose’s history, second only to A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring Judi Dench.

Katy’s West End credits include playing Brenda in I Can't Sing (London Palladium), Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables (Queen’s/Palace) and Rosie in Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales). She recently appeared in Tom Hooper’s Oscar winning film adaptation of Les Mis. 

At the National Theatre Katy has been in Mother Clap's Molly House, A Winter's Tale, Twelfth Night and Guys and Dolls. Her theatre credits also include: Mama Morton in Chicago (UK Tour), The Lyons (Menier Chocolate Factory), Alice Challice in Darling of the Day (Union), Cinderella The Midnight Princess and Hay Fever (both Rose Theatre Kingston), Hannah in A Chorus of Disapproval (New Wolsey) and The Music Man (Chichester).

I recently spoke to Katy about her latest stage role, why she loved working on I Can’t Sing and how she managed to secure so much screen time in the Les Mis movie…

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is breaking records at the Rose Theatre Kingston. Are you feeling the buzz?
Yes! It’s lovely to play to a packed audience, especially when the kids are so wrapped up in the story! There’s very little shuffling about which is lovely for us. They’re very involved! We’re telling a fantastic story anyway so we’re on the right track before we even start. Everyone has done an amazing job and we’re all very proud of the kids in the show.

Sarah Earnshaw replaces Bonnie Langford in Spamalot 2015 UK Tour

Sarah Earnshaw will reprise her performance as The Lady of the Lake in the 2015 UK Tour of Spamalot. She replaces the previously announced Bonnie Langford who will continue to star in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Earnshaw, whose West End credits include Wicked and Scrooge, joins Joe Pasquale as King Arthur and Todd Carty as Patsy. The tour opens on 15th January 2015 at the Manchester Opera House. Earnshaw, Pasquale and Carty are confirmed to appear until 14th March 2015 at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

The cast also includes Will Hawksworth as Sir Robin, Richard Kent as Prince Herbert, Richard Meek as Sir Galahad, Josh Wilmott as Sir Bedevere, Jamie Tyler as Sir Lancelot, Daniel Cane, Abigail Climer, Matthew Dale and Holly Easterbrook. Inez Mackenzie, Ste Clough and Richard Astbury complete the cast as swings.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Urinetown to close 3rd Jan 2015

Urinetown will conclude its West End run at the Apollo Theatre an extra week earlier than planned. 

The production was originally booking until 24th January 2015 but later set its closing date as 10th January to make way for the West End transfer of My Night With Reg. However, Urinetown will now conclude its run on Saturday 3rd January 2015.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd, Urinetown looks into how the world would cope if we lost the privilege to pee. The satirical musical comedy ran on Broadway to great acclaim between 2001 and 2004, receiving ten Tony Award nominations. It won for Best Book, Best Score and Best Direction.

Photo Feature: Cats at the London Palladium releases new images

Producers of Cats at the London Palladium have released new pictures of the cast in action. The show stars Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella. Check out the pictures below (click image to enlarge).

The cast also includes: Cameron Ball (Macavity/Admetus), Kathryn Barnes (Tantomile), Cassie Clare (Cassandra), Ross Finnie (Skimbleshanks), Charlene Ford (Bombalurina), Stevie Hutchinson (Pouncival), Adam Lake (Alonzo), Paul F Monaghan (Bustopher Jones/Asparagus/Growl Tiger), Joel Morris (Carbucketty), Natasha Mould (Jemima), Benjamin Mundy (Coricopat), Antoine Murray-Straughan (Rum Tum Tugger), Joseph Poulton (Quaxo/Mistoffelees), Nicholas Pound (Old Deuteronomy), Sophia Ragavelas (alternate Grizabella), Clare Rickard (Jellylorum/ Griddlebone), Adam Salter (Bill Bailey), Laurie Scarth (Jennyanydots), Hannah Kenna Thomas (Victoria/White Cat), Callum Train (Munkustrap), Zizi Strallen (Demeter), Dawn Williams (Rumpleteazer) and Benjamin Yates (Mungojerrie).

Ryan Gover, Barry Haywood, Alice Jane, Grace McKee, Dane Quixall and Libby Watts complete the company as swings. It is rumoured that Kerry Ellis will take over from Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella in February.

Jerry’s Girls to be revived at the St James Studio

It has been announced that Jerry’s Girls will be revived at the St James Studio next year. 

Thirty years after it opened on Broadway, the musical revue will run for a limited two week season. The production opens on Wednesday 4th March (previews from 3rd March) and runs until Sunday 15th March 2015. Casting to be announced.

Featuring songs from classic musicals including Hello Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry’s Girls brings together an all-female cast to celebrate Jerry Herman's special gift for writing songs that capture the true spirit of the great American musical, honouring the legacy of the multi Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist of some of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time.

Idina Menzel to perform on The Jonathan Ross Show tomorrow!

It has been revealed that Idina Menzel will perform on tomorrow night's Christmas special of The Jonathan Ross Show. The star is likely to perform a number from her holiday album Christmas Wishes. 

Other guests include David Walliams, Peter Capaldi, Jimmy Carr and Ed Sheeran. The programme is screened on ITV1 at 10pm on Saturday 20th December 2014. Menzel recently appeared on The X Factor UK, performing a surprise duet with Michael Bublé. Watch the video here. 

Menzel is returning to the UK next year as part of her world tour. She opens at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin on Saturday 20th June before visiting Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Bournemouth. Menzel will then play Wembley Arena on Saturday 27th June 2015! Tickets are on sale now.

Natalie Andreou joins Wicked as standby Elphaba!

WhatsOnStage have revealed that Natalie Andreou is joining the West End production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre as Standby Elphaba from 2nd February 2015. 

Andreou most recently starred as Sherrie in the West End production of Rock of Ages (Shaftesbury/Garrick). Her theatre credits also include: Footloose (UK tour), Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales), Evita (UK tour) and Fame (European tour).

As previously announced, current standby Elphaba Emma Hatton assumes the role full time from 2nd February 2015. Jennifer DiNoia plays her final performance as Elphaba on Saturday 31st January 2015.

GOSSIP: City Of Angels in "early stages" of West End transfer talks

According to the Daily Mail, the Donmar Warehouse are in the "early stages of talks" about transferring City Of Angels to the West End. Baz Bamigboye has revealed that discussions are at an "exploratory" stage with theatre owners.

The musical currently stars Samantha Barks, Rosalie Craig, Katherine Kelly, Peter Polycarpou, Marc Elliott and the West End Frame Award winning Tam Mutu as well as Rebecca Trehearn, Hadley Fraser, Nick Cavaliere, Cameron Cuffe, Adam Fogerty, Kadiff Kirwan, Sandra Marvin, Mark Penfold, Jennifer Saayeng, Jo Servi and Tim Walton.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

GOSSIP: Kerry Ellis to take over as Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium?

According to the Daily Mail, Kerry Ellis - aka the first lady of the West End - will take over as Grizabella in Cats from 9th February 2015. Nicole Scherzinger plays her final performance on 7th February.

UPDATE (03/01/15): Posters have reportedly been put up around London confirming that Ellis will star as Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium from 9th February 2015. However, producers are yet to make an official announcement.

According to Terri Paddock, Cats will extend its run at the London Palladium to 25th April 2015. The musical will apparently take a two week break in March. 

Ellis recently reprised her performance as Elphaba in the West End production of Wicked. She was the first British actress to play the role and also starred in the Broadway production. 

Ellis famously understudied Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (National/Drury Lane) which was when she was spotted by Queen’s Brian May who invited her to audition for We Will Rock You. After creating the role of Meat in WWRY, Ellis and May have recorded albums and toured the world together. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock musical to premiere on Broadway next year

It has been announced that Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation of School of Rock will open on Broadway next year.

The show will premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre on 6th December 2015 (previews from 2nd November). Based on the 2003 movie, School of Rock will be directed by Laurence Connor, with a book by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes. The musical will feature music from the movie, as well as new music written by Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater.

Full casting announced for The Sound of Music 2015 UK Tour

Full casting has been announced for the 2015 UK Tour of The Sound of Music. The production opens at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley on Thursday 15th January 2015. 

Joining Danielle Hope (pictured right) as Maria von Trapp is Steven Houghton (Coronation Street/London’s Burning) as Captain von Trapp .

The cast also includes Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess, Sarah Soetaert as Baroness Elsa Schrader, Howard Samuels as Max, Grace Chapman as Liesl, Luke George as Rolf, Kate Milner Evans as Frau Schmidt and Martin Dickinson as Admiral Von Schreiber. 

The Commitments extends West End booking to September 2015

Jamie Lloyd's production of The Commitments has extended its West End run at the Palace Theatre until 13th September 2015. The show opened in September 2013.

Phil McIntyre (producer) says “We’re extremely happy to announce that The Commitments has extended its current booking period for the second time to September 2015. The response from audiences has been quite incredible and we are thrilled the show will continue its residency at The Palace Theatre.”

The Commitments features many classic soul songs including Think by Aretha Franklin, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones, Papa Was A Rolling Stone by The Temptations, Knock on Wood by Eddie Floyd, In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett, Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding and of course, Mustang Sally.

Sneak peek at... London revival of The Railway Children

Production images have been released for the London revival of The Railway Children. Check out the pictures below (click image to enlarge). The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, once again features a live steam locomotive and a vintage carriage, originally built in 1896.

The Railway Children, which is currently in previews, recently extended its run at the King’s Cross Theatre until 6th September 2015. The production stars Jeremy Swift (Spratt in Downton Abbey) and original cast member Caroline Harker (click here for further casting). 

Keith Jack, Jodie Jacobs & Sabrina Aloueche + more star in The Songs of Scott Morgan

It has been announced that Keith Jack (Joseph), Jodie Jacobs (Rock Of Ages) and Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You) will perform in The Songs of Scott Morgan at the Leicester Square Theatre in The Lounge on Sunday 1st February 2015. 

The stellar line-up also includes: Maria Coyne, Lewis Bradley, Suzie Lowe, Sophie Ramsey, Lauren Varnham, Katie Paine, Oliver Savile, Luke Bayer and Nicole Faraday. The matinee performance has sold out, but a handful of tickets are still avaliable for the 8pm show.

Jersey Boys UK & Ireland Tour announces new dates

Producers of Jersey Boys have announced that the musical's current UK and Ireland Tour has been extended.

Newly announced 2015 dates include: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (28 April – 9 May), Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff (21 July – 1 August), Sunderland Empire (8 – 19 September), Lyceum Theatre Sheffield (6 – 17 October), Venue Cymru Llandudno (10 – 21 November) and Theatre Royal Glasgow (8 December – 3 January 2016). 

The UK and Ireland Tour of Jersey Boys stars Tim Driesen as Frankie Valli, Stephen Webb as Tommy DeVito, Sam Ferriday as Bob Gaudio and Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi. Matt Corner plays the role of Frankie Valli at certain performances. 

Panto Review: Russell Grant & Suzanne Shaw star in Cinderella at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre



Cinderella
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 16th December 2014
★★★★

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a great panto and Cinderella at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre makes all your dreams and wishes come true. Appealing to adults as well as children, the production features sparkling sets and terrific costumes as well as plenty of witty one-liners.

It's 100% official! Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton transfers to Savoy Theatre from 28th March!

Following months of speculation, it has finally been 100% confirmed that Imelda Staunton will star as Momma Rose in the West End transfer of Jonathan Kent’s Chichester Festival Theatre production of Gypsy. 

The production opens at the Savoy Theatre on 15th April 2015 (previews from 28th March). Tickets go on sale today. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Gypsy, a musical fable with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, has choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Anthony Ward, musical direction and orchestration by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis. Gypsy is produced in the West End by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels confirms West End closure ahead of two year tour & international productions

It has been confirmed that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will close in the West End on 7th March 2015. The show will embark on a two year UK Tour and productions are planned for Australia, Korea and Germany.

As previously announced, the tour kicks off in Birmingham at the New Alexandra Theatre on 5th May 2015. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened in the West End in February 2014. Since then the show has been seen by over 200,000 people.

The current cast includes Robert Lindsay, Bonnie Langford, Katherine Kingsley, Alex Gaumond and Lizzy Connolly . Ben Fox has taken over from Gary Wilmot as Andre. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. It has music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane.

Film Review: Disney's Into The Woods


Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood

Into The Woods
Disney
Released 9th January 2015
★★★★★

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's dark and twisted musical Into The Woods seemed an unlikely choice for a stage to screen adaptation from squeaky clean Disney. Intertwining several fairytales, Into The Woods tells a cleverly pieced together story that translates well on the big screen.

The film sees Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) fleeing from the ball, Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) being pursued by the big bad wolf (Johnny Depp), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) letting down her hair and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) being chased down his beanstalk by the giant.

Panto Review: Aladdin at the Shaw Theatre



Aladdin 
Shaw Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 16th December 2014
★★★★

I have seen some crazy pantos over the years, but the Shaw Theatre's production of Aladdin could quite possibly be the craziest. After being dazzled by Wimbledon's spectacular panto last week, it was nice to see a more simple pantomime which relies less on its big budget and star casting.

Casting announced for The Goodbye Girl at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Casting has been announced for the upcoming revival of Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl.

The production opens at Upstairs at the Gatehouse on Friday 6th February 2015 (previews from 4th February) and runs until Saturday 28th February 2015.

The Goodbye Girl is described as a "wry, warm-hearted musical comedy". It is based on Neil Simon's Academy Award and Golden Globe award winning film, with score by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by David Zippel.

Rebecca Bainbridge (Mamma Mia/Cabaret) will star as Paula and Paul Keating (The Wizard of Oz/Tick Tick Boom, pictured right) will star as Elliot. The role of Lucy will be shared between Shannon Beach and Olivia Hallett. 

Sneak peek at... Kristin Scott Thomas as the Queen in The Audience

Producers of The Audience have released the first image of Kristin Scott Thomas as the Queen. Check out the picture below (click to enlarge).

The new version of Peter Morgan’s play opens at the Apollo Theatre on 5th May 2015 (previews from 21st April) and is booking until 25th July 2015. Directed by Stephen Daldry, The Audience has designs by Bob Crowley with lighting by Rick Fisher, sound by Paul Arditti and music by Paul Englishby. Further casting is to be announced shortly.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Railway Children extends run at King’s Cross Theatre

It has been announced that The Railway Children has extended its run at the King’s Cross Theatre until 6th September 2015. The production begins performances tonight (16th December). Tickets for the new booking period are on sale from 19th December.

The revival stars Jeremy Swift (Spratt in Downton Abbey) and original cast member Caroline Harker (click here for further casting). The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, once again features a live steam locomotive and a vintage carriage, originally built in 1896.

Photo Feature: City Of Angels production images

The Donmar Warehouse has released the first production images for City Of Angels which officially opens tonight (16th December). Check out the images below (click picture to enlarge).

City Of Angels runs until Saturday 7th February 2015. The entire run is sold out; however, the Donmar will be releasing more than 550 tickets each week, including Barclays Front Row (released 10am every Monday throughout the run) and Day Tickets (available in person at the Box Office every day). 

Big Interview: Willemijn Verkaik - "I couldn’t be happier!"

Willemijn Verkaik is currently starring as Paulina in the West End premiere of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane's musical opens at the Playhouse Theatre on Monday 12th January 2015 (previews from 17th December 2014) for a 20 week limited run. Willemijn is working alongside a stellar cast including Tamsin Greig, Haydn Gwynne, Jérôme Pradon, Anna Skellern, Ricardo Afonso, Haydn Oakley and Seline Hizli. Bartlett Sher directs.

Earlier this year, Willemijn won West End Frame’s West End Debut Award for her portrayal of Elphaba in Wicked (Apollo Victoria). The Dutch star first played the role in Germany in 2007. She then starred as Elphaba in Holland before joining the Broadway company, making her the only actress to have played the iconic character in three different languages. Following a successful stint in New York, Willemijn joined the London production to tremendous acclaim. 

Willemijn is the voice of Elsa in the German and Dutch language versions of Disney's Frozen which is the highest grossing animated movie of all time. Her theatre credits also include: Donna in Mamma Mia (Stuttgart, Germany), Songs For A New World (Stuttgart, Germany), Amneris in Aida (Tecklenburg, Germany) and Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Cologne, Germany).

During a break from rehearsals, I recently spoke to Willemijn about her return to the London stage, why Women on the Verge is a new challenge and what the rest of the cast are like to work with. We also discussed her emotional departure from Wicked, why winning West End Frame’s Best West End Debut Award meant so much to her plus much, much more…

Women on the Verge has been completely re-workshopped since its Broadway run and is almost like a totally new show. At what point did you come on board?
I didn’t do any of the workshops so for me this is really fresh. I first heard of the show when I was auditioning and I started to do my research.

What were your first impressions? The music is so refreshing!
I thought the music was amazing! David Yazbek is a genius – the songs that he’s written for Pepa (Tamsin Greig) and Lucia (Haydn Gwynne) and for everyone are just so thrilling and special. All those Spanish influences are very refreshing. I just love the way he brings a song into a scene and gets that Spanish feeling. He captures the feel of the scene and the show… I am a fan [laughs]!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sneak peek at... Jamie Lloyd's production of The Ruling Class starring James McAvoy

Pictures of James McAvoy and the cast of The Ruling Class rehearsing the production have been released. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, The Ruling Class runs at Trafalgar Studios, marking McAvoy's return to Lloyd's Trafalgar Transformed season. 

The show also stars Ron Cook, Kathryn Drysdale, Joshua McGuire and Anthony O'Donnell and features Michael Cronin, Serena Evans, Paul Leonard, Elliot Levey and Forbes Masson. The ensemble includes: Rosy Benjamin, Andrew Bloomer and Oliver Lavery.

The Ruling Class opens on 27th January (previews from 16th January) and runs until 11th April 2015. Design is by Soutra Gilmour, with lighting by Jon Clarkand and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. Choreography is by Darren Carnall with musical direction by Huw Evans.

Dance 'til Dawn to tour again following West End run

It has been announced that, following the conclusion of its current West End run at the Aldwych Theatre, Dance 'til Dawn will embark on another UK Tour from Wednesday 28th January. See dates below.

The show stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. The former World Champions have been dancing together for twenty years and stole the hearts of the British public 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.

Dance ‘Til Dawn is directed by Olivier Award winning choreographer and director Karen Bruce.

Review: Cats at the London Palladium starring Nicole Scherzinger


Antoine Murray-Straughan as the Rum Tum Tugger

Cats
London Palladium
Reviewed on Friday 12th December 2014
★★★★

The biggest marmite musical of all-time, Cats, has returned to the West End and completely taken over the London Palladium. Based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is set on a special night of the year when all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball.

Friday, 12 December 2014

VOTE: London Fringe Production of the Year 2014

Gemma Sutton in DRUNK
So far this year some of the biggest shows in the West End - including Wicked, Miss Saigon, The Book of Mormon and Les Miserables - have picked up West End Frame Awards.

But for the final West End Frame Award of 2014 we have decided to bring back London Fringe Production of the Year to celebrate all the incredible work that has been produced in some of London's most exciting smaller venues over the past year.

2014 has been an incredible year for fringe theatre. The bar has been raised leaving theatregoers fighting for tickets. Twenty shows have been nominated for the Award, including: A First World Problem (Theatre503), Alice Through The Looking Glass (St Paul’s Church), Carousel (Arcola). Carthage (Finborough), Chicken Shop (Park), Damn Yankees (Landor), Dogfight (Southwark Playhouse), Drunk (Bridewell Theatre), Freak (Theatre503), Holes (Arcola Tent), In The Heights (Southwark Playhouse), Kiss Me, Kate (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Love Story (Union), Oh, the Humanity and Other Good Intentions (Tabard Theatre), Pacific Overtures (Union Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club), Sweeney Todd (Twickenham Theatre), The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith (Old Red Lion), The Return of the Solider (Jermyn Street) and Thérèse Raquin (Finborough/Park).

Tricycle Theatre announces new 2015 season

The Tricycle Theatre has announced its new 2015 season.

As well as the previously announced A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts and Happy Birthday Without You, Lover’s Rock Monologues sees Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson and Victor Romero Evans, return to the Tricycle following their successful run in 2012. Lover’s Rock Monologues illustrates the intimate inside story behind this trailblazing cultural phenomenon, interspersed with the music that defined it. Also returning to the Tricycle stage is Nina Conti, with her new show from this year’s Edinburgh Festival, In Your Face.

As the centrepiece of the new season, Indhu Rubasingham (Artistic Director) will direct the world première of John Hollingworth’s Multitudes – this timely play set in Hollingworth’s home town of Bradford examines one family’s conflict of faith and identity set against the backdrop of a nation questioning immigration policies and confronting who gets to call themselves British.

Photo Feature: Cats starring Nicole Scherzinger opens at the London Palladium

Last night (11th December) the West End revival of Cats officially opened at the London Palladium. Nicole Scherzinger made her theatrical stage debut as Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking show. Check out pictures below (click image to enlarge).

The musical received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981 where it played for 21 record-breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The production was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. 

In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony awards including Best Musical, and ran for eighteen years. Since its world premiere, Cats has been presented in over 30 countries, has been translated into 10 languages and has been seen by over 50 million people world-wide. 

CONFIRMED: Damian Lewis to star in West End revival of American Buffalo

Following reports, it has been confirmed that Damian Lewis will return to the West End next year to star in a major new revival of David Mamet’s 1975 play American Buffalo.

Directed by Daniel Evans, the production runs at the Wyndham’s Theatre between 16th April and 27th June 2015.

Damian Lewis said: “David Mamet is one of our greatest living playwrights and I’m thrilled to be performing in his brilliant American Buffalo. It’s exciting for me to be back on stage, particularly as I will have the pleasure of working with director, Daniel Evans, who I trained with at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. We’ve always wanted to work together and I really can’t think of a more exciting project to partner on.” 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cynthia Erivo, Oliver Tompsett & Carrie Hope Fletcher join The Night of Electric Voices line-up

The Daily Mail has announced that Cynthia Erivo (I Can't Sing / The Color Purple, pictured right), David Bedella (Sweeney Todd / In The Heights) and Oliver Tompsett (White Christmas / We Will Rock You) will star in The Night of Electric Voices at the London Coliseum on Sunday 1st March 2015.

They join the previously announced Adam Pascal (RENT / Memphis), David Michael Johnson (We Will Rock You) and Kerry Ellis (Wicked / Oliver!) who is known as the first lady of the West End.

UPDATE: It has also been confirmed that the line-up will include: Ricardo Afonso (Women On The Verge / Top Hat), Daniel Boys (Spamalot / Avenue Q), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Misérables / The War of the Worlds) and Tiffany Graves (Chicago / Tonight’s The Night).

UPDATE: The West End Frame Award winning Lee Mead, who currently stars in Casualty, has also joined the line-up.

GOSSIP: Matthew Warchus' film Pride being adapted into stage musical?

According to the Daily Mail, Matthew Warchus' film Pride could be adapted into a musical.

Baz Bamigboye reports that Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford have been "discussing the possibility". Warchus said, "We would have to guard against it being too sentimental - or too over the top."

Bamigboye stresses that Pride may never make it to the stage; however, if it does it won't be until late 2016 or 2017. 

GOSSIP: Damian Lewis to star in West End revival of American Buffalo?

According to Baz Bamigboye, Damian Lewis will star as Walter "Teach" Cole in a West End revival of American Buffalo by David Mamet. Directed by Daniel Evans, the production is set to run at the Wyndham's Theatre between 17th April and 26th June 2015.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Lewis said: "I wanted to get back to the stage, but I didn’t want to do it unless it was a great play."

More soon...

Gillian Lynne to miss Cats opening following accident

Writing on Twitter, the legendary Gillian Lynne has explained that she will not be able to attend tonight's official opening of Cats at the London Palladium due to a "horrid accident". Lynne has broken her ribs in ten places.

She tweeted the following:


We send Gillian all our love and wish her a speedy recovery!

Further casting announced for The King's Speech 2015 UK Tour starring Jason Donovan

Further casting has been announced for the 2015 UK Tour of The King's Speech.

Joining the previously announced Raymond Coulthard as King George VI and Jason Donovan as Lionel Logue are: Nicholas Blane, Jamie Hinde, Felicity Houlbrooke, Claire Lams, Katy Stephens and Martin Turner.

The play, which is adapted from the Oscar-winning movie, has previously toured the UK and run in the West End.

City Of Angels cancels tonight's preview due to cast illness

The Donmar Warehouse has been forced to cancel tonight's preview performance of City Of Angels due to cast illness (the theatre does not employ understudies). 

An official statement reads: 

Due to the sudden illness of an actor we regrettably have to cancel tonight’s preview of City of Angels, as we can’t employ understudies. We are contacting all tonight’s bookers by text, email and phone to book into another show (subject to availability) or arrange refunds. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience or disappointment caused and thank all patrons for their understanding. 

City Of Angels officially opens on Tuesday 16th December 2014 and runs until Saturday 7th February 2015. The entire run is sold out; however, the Donmar will be releasing more than 550 tickets each week, including Barclays Front Row (released 10am every Monday throughout the run) and Day Tickets (available in person at the Box Office every day). 

Review: Noël Coward's Christmas Spirits at the St James Studio



Noël Coward's Christmas Spirits
St James Studio
Reviewed on Wednesday 10th December 2014
★★★

Noël Coward’s Christmas Spirits is a delightful little show. Written and directed by Nick Hutchison, the piece is told through song, poetry and prose. 

Set in December 1940 during the Blitz, the piece sees Noël Coward in his flat using Madam Arcati – his own creation – to summon various voices to examine the spirit of Christmas through the ages... yes - it is all a little bizarre. 

Hutchison has pieced together a variety of excellent material; however, the piece’s structure is questionable and I think it would work far better as a light-hearted musical revue. It is almost taking itself a little too seriously. The concept may be odd, but it is still very easy to watch. 

A man of many talents, Stefan Bednarczyk musically directs and stars in the piece. Opening the show with one of the evening’s highlights - Noël Coward's 'Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage' - Bednarczyk's bursts with old-school charm throughout, proving popular with the audience. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Sneak peek at... West End revival of Cats at the London Palladium starring Nicole Scherzinger

Ahead of its official opening tomorrow (11th December), producers of Cats at the London Palladium have released production images featuring the cast in action. The revival stars Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella. Check out the pictures below (click image to enlarge).

Cats, one of the longest-running shows in West End and on Broadway, received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981 where it played for 21 record-breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The production was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. 

In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony awards including Best Musical, and ran for eighteen years. Since its world premiere, Cats has been presented in over 30 countries, has been translated into 10 languages and has been seen by over 50 million people world-wide. 

Ghost Stories extends to March 2015

It has been announced that the West End revival of Ghost Stories has extended its run at the Arts Theatre until 15th March 2015. 

Since the original production opened at the Lyric Hammersmith, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's show has played to over 400,000. It has broken all box office records at the Arts Theatre. The current cast includes: Simon Holmes, Paul Kemp, Paul Kendrick, Chris Levens, Alexander Nicolaou, Gary Shelford and Mark Starr.

Panto Review: Linda Gray stars in Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre



Cinderella
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 9th December
★★★★

Known for staging the greatest pantomimes in all the land, this year's New Wimbledon Theatre panto is bigger and crazier than ever before. I must admit I had forgotten just how bizarre panto is; Ian Talbot's production ticks all the right boxes and provides a fun family experience.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Panto Review: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Park Theatre



Jack and the Beanstalk 
Park Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 5th December 2014
★★

A pantomime like no other, once again the Park Theatre have staged their own unique take on a classic panto story, Jack and the Beanstalk. Jez Bond and Mark Cameron have torn up the panto rule book, delivering an alternative family friendly pantomime experience.

Guest Blog: A change in the air…

Jonathan Slinger in Urinetown
For many years, London's West End was known for being full of Jukebox Musicals. Shows such as We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages dominated theatreland, bringing audiences to their feet night after night. However, jukebox musicals aren’t for everyone as there are many who would prefer to see something totally new. 

2014 has been very different, there seems to be a change in the air – there has been a sudden influx of original shows. New plays and musicals are taking the West End by storm and proving that you don't need a famous well known score to send audiences out from a theatre with smiles on their faces.

I was very lucky to witness three of these brand new original shows in a recent visit to the capital and they all made an impact on me in very different ways. 

Do musicals always have to have a happy ending? Well - not that I will be spoiling anything here… but over in Urinetown (currently at the Apollo Theatre) you are certainly made to question that idea. Jamie Lloyd's brilliant production of the Broadway musical, which had a sell-out run at the St James Theatre earlier this year, is continuing to pull in the crowds since its West End transfer back in September. 

Full casting announced for Twelve Angry Men 2015 UK Tour

Full casting has been announced for the 2015 UK Tour of Twelve Angry Men. Seven actors who recently appeared in the West End revival will reprise their performances for the tour. 

Joining the previously announced Tom Conti is: Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street), Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey), Andrew Frame (EastEnders), David Calvitto (These Shining Lives/The Odd Couple), Mark Carter (Hollyoaks/Utopia) and Sean Power (Secret Diary of a Call Girl). Jon Carver (Doctors) returns to play The Guard.

The cast is completed by: Denis Lill (The Royal/Only Fools And Horses), Paul Beech King Lear/A Tale of Two Cities), Alexander Forsyth (Porcelain/It Never Ends), Edward Halsted (Holby City/Jonathan Creek) and Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood).

GOSSIP: Pretty Woman the Musical is "a year away"

Garry Marshall has revealed that Pretty Woman the Musical is "a year away" and that Disney are producing the production which is likely to find its way to Broadway.

Speaking to deadline.com, the American actor/director/writer/producer said: "The producer is Paula Wagner, who’s a Broadway gal, and we’re putting it all together. It’s a year away but Disney’s behind it. After 24 years. In the old days nobody figured that a movie could become a play, so in the ’80s they gave writers theatrical rights, a piece, you can’t get near that. [Pretty Woman screenplay author] J.F. Lawton owns half and Disney owns half. He wanted to write an opera where everybody dies and Disney wanted to make the Julia Roberts part amodel…

Monday, 8 December 2014

GOSSIP: Bradley Cooper wants to bring The Elephant Man to the West End

Bradley Cooper has revealed that he wants to bring The Elephant Man to the West End. 

Cooper is currently starring in the play on Broadway. Scott Ellis' production officially opened last night (7th December) at the Booth Theatre.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Cooper said: "The West End is amazing and incredible. It would be an honour and exciting to do The Elephant Man in the West End. Let’s get through this run first. We’ve got 85 more shows to do!"

The Elephant Man runs on Broadway until 15th February 2015. Based on the real life of Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man tells the story of a 19th-century British man (Cooper) whose severe disfigurement made him a star of the traveling freak show circuit. 

Streets: A New Kind of Musical returns for limited run next year

It has been announced that Interval's production of Streets: A New Kind of Musical will return for a limited run of just three performances next year. The revival is supported by the Arts Council.

Running at The Vaults between Thursday 8th and Saturday 10th January 2015, the cast will include: Tori Allen-­‐Martin, Ben Cousin, Manal El-­‐Feitury, Pikey Esquire, James Eyres Kenward, Brandon Lee Henry, Jake Leigh, Sian Louise, Kayla Meikle, Alex Middleton, Stuart Morris, Kieron Mulhall, Louis Quaye, Chloe Shillibeer, Danielle Tabor and Leon Tennant.

Charlie Brooks stars in new comedy at the Park Theatre

Full casting has been announced for Contact.com at the Park Theatre.

The play opens on 15th January 2015 (previews from 13th January) and runs until 14th February 2015.

The cast includes Charlie Brooks (EastEnders/Beautiful Thing, pictured right) as Kelly, Tanya Franks (EastEnders) as Naomi, Jason Durr (Black Coffee) as Matthew and Ralph Aiken (Waiting For Lefty) as Ryan.

Mathew and Naomi await the arrival of the youthful Ryan and Kelly. They’ll meet for one night of unlimited pleasure, then part. That’s the agreement, that’s the plan – but can they stick to it? Ryan and Kelly have a different agenda.