Monday, 9 November 2015

Editor's Blog: Glenn Close discusses Sunset Boulevard, Soft Lad released on DVD & Memphis bids farewell

Glenn Close has revealed that she is "getting on the treadmill" ahead of her West End debut next year. 

"It's not something I really love to do, but really I know how much energy it takes. You have to be in good shape and take care of your voice" said Close, who will reprise her performance as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard for a limited run at the London Coliseum between 1st April and 7th May 2016. 

Having first played Norma in LA, Close went on to win Tony, Drama Desk and Dramalogue awards for originating the role on Broadway under the direction of Trevor Nunn. This new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton's musical marks the second show produced by the English National Opera and the GradeLinnit Company. Lonny Price directs.

"When I was approached to do this I thought it was a gift because to do a character and be able to come back to the same character twenty years later is going to be an exploration for me" Close explained at a press event last week. "I've had twenty years of life, I've had twenty more years of my craft and I think she won't be exactly the same. I'm not too sure what she'll be like... she's in my psyche. When you play a great character like that she becomes part of the fabric of your being. She haunted me after I left her [laughs]!"

Christopher Hampton, Glenn Close and Don Black at the London Coliseum

When questioned about how she initially tackled the musical's biggest numbers 'With One Look' and 'As If We Never Said Goodbye', Close explained, "We had an amazing ensemble that started in LA and then went to New York so I always felt that I was the weakest singer. I knew I had a lot to learn and I really, really worked hard. I don't have the freaky, fabulous voice that Elaine Paige or Bettie Buckey has. I think of those songs as monologues and then I get through them."

Tickets are on sale now, with 100 seats at £12 for every performance.

If you're stuck for Christmas gift ideas for someone stagey, it's certainly worth checking out new book Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story. I'm always more than happy to be sent theatrical books as I enjoy having something to read on the train into work, but when Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story landed through my letter box with an almighty thud it was clear that I had to rethink my plan.

Published by DK, the book takes readers on a journey of musical theatre through the ages. The book is huge and joyous to flick through - I could happily sit down and browse for hours. It is, perhaps, a little odd to also include musical movies which have never been produced onstage (any excuse to include a page on Frozen). The information is mostly interesting, the double page spreads for the biggest shows are fantastic (my only complaint is that Wicked is most certainly deserving of a two page spread).

Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story is out now.

West End actor Leon Lopez has recently turned his attention to film making. Marking his directorial debut, Soft Lad - which was screened in cinemas throughout the summer and autumn - is released on DVD today. I recently embraced a night off from theatre and attended a London screening of the film which follows the emotional turmoils of a twenty-two year old dancer who has been having an affair with his sister's husband.

Jonny Labey & Daniel Brocklebank in Soft Lad

The superb cast including Jonny Labey - who appeared in In The Heights at the Southwark Playhouse last year - Suzanne Collins, Craig Stein and Daniel Brocklebank act their socks off, I literally found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. What I love about Soft Lad is that it has a story you might expect to find in a soap opera but takes it so much further. Lopez tells the story with such truth and detail, all the characters are incredibly real. Nobody is perfect so during the heart wrenching finale I found myself feeling incredibly torn. 

Soft Lad is a film worth getting excited about - it is most certainly worth a watch! Intriguingly Lopez originally wrote Soft Lad as a play; at some point I would love to see the story being told on stage - it's a firecracker. 

It has been far too long since I have written an Editor's Blog so, naturally, there are lots of shows to catch up on. Last month sadly marked the end of Memphis' West End run. Written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, Memphis was one of my favourite musicals of 2014 so I had to catch it again before it closed to make way for Motown The Musical. 

I caught Beverley Knight's final night and have never witnessed a vocal performance like it. Knight was given the almighty send off she deserved, receiving a mid-show standing ovation for her sublime rendition of 'Colored Woman'. I enjoyed the performance so much that I ended up buying a ticket for the final show two weeks later. 

Rachel John - who was previously Knight's alternate - made the role of Felicia her own; her voice is world class. Matt Cardle once again was incredible as Huey, ending the evening with a very emotional rendition of 'Memphis Lives In Me'. A huge shout out has to go to the ensemble who brought the show to life - Memphis' choreography is insane. 

Supporting cast members Rolan Bell (Delray), Tyrone Huntley (Gator), Claire Machin (Gladys) and Jason Pennycooke (Bobby) all raised their own bar during their big numbers, and I'm sure will all go on to do big things. During Knight's final speech she said her dream is for Memphis to return to the West End - and I couldn't agree more. 

Sam Mackay as Usnavi and the cast of In The Heights

I recently returned to the King's Cross Theatre to catch another performance of must-see musical In The Heights which just gets better and better. Understudy Sarah Naudi was terrific as Vanessa, performing in place of Jade Ewen. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is somehow even funnier as Daniela whilst the whole cast continue to take to the stage with such passion. There's not much else left to say about In The Heights... if you haven't seen it you need to buy a ticket ASAP! 

Finally, back in September I was lucky to catch a performance of Parade during its sold out run at the London Theatre Workshop. It was my first time seeing the show; I was bowled over by the power of the score and the heart wrenching storyline. Jody Tranter's production impressively didn't feel limited by the intimacy of the London Theatre Workshop and the cast of upcoming talent shone throughout. It seems a shame the show couldn't run for longer - fingers crossed it returns for another season next year.

Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Photo Credit 1&2: Hubert Smith
Photo Credit 4: Simon Annand
Photo Credit 6: Johan Persson

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