Friday, 29 April 2016

Callum Francis to star as Lola in Kinky Boots Australia!

It has been announced that West End actor Callum Francis will originate the role of Lola in the Australian production of Kinky Boots.

Francis is currently understudying the role in the West End production at the Adelphi Theatre. Kinky Boots is set to open at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne on 12th October 2016.

The cast will also include Toby Francis (Charlie), Sophie Wright (Lauren), Damien Bermingham (Don), Teagan Wouters (Nicola) and Nathan Carter (George) as well as  Blake Appelqvist, comedy veteran Glenn Butcher, Hilary Cole, Jessica Condon, Denise Devlin, Euan Doidge, Daniel Downing, Bronte Florian, Linden Furnell, Ryan Gonzalez, Samm Hagen, Anthony Harkin, Joe Kosky, Jenni Little, Liam Peel, Emma Powell, Matthew Predny, Eric Rasmussen, Mark Stefanoff and Mitchell Woodcock.

Interview: Alastair Whatley, starring in Invincible

Director, actor and producer Alastair Whatley is the artistic director of the Original Theatre Company. 

He is currently starring as Oliver in the company’s touring production of Torben Betts’s Invincible, directed by Christopher Harper.

As an actor Alastair was most recently seen on stage as Teddy Graham in Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path. His credits also include: Three Men in a Boat, Birdsong, See How They Run, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Madness of George III, Vincent in Brixton, Journey’s End and Henry V at the RSC. 

He is the director of Shadowlands by William Nicholson which is currently touring the UK. Alastair’s direction credits also include touring productions of Birdsong, The Private Ear and the Public Eye, Our Country’s Good, Twelfth Night and Journey’s End. He has produced all 16 of the Original Theatre Company’s productions.

I recently spoke to Alastair about why Original Theatre chose Invincible as their next project, life on the road and his advice for actors about to take on the touring life…

It’s a very busy time for the Original Theatre Company! Invincible is very different to the company’s recent shows, what drew you all to it?
Absolutely, it is very different and that’s exactly what drew us to it. We’ve always wanted to live up to our name, Original Theatre. We did some old classics – like Birdsong and Flare Path – in an original fashion, but they weren’t true originals… whereas with Birdsong this is the first time it has ever been seen out in the regions. For a play about the North South divide, it seems a crime that it has only previously been done in London. It very much feels like a new piece of work for us.

The Lion King announces new West End cast

New cast members will join The Lion King in May 2016. Nicholas Afoa is taking over as Simba in the show which runs at the Lyceum Theatre.

Afoa made his stage debut as Simba in the Australian production of The Lion King in 2013 and played Simba in the Sydney production of the landmark musical between 2013 and 2016 performing more than 860 times over that period.

Also joining the cast are: Etian Almeida, Jonathan Andre, Janique Charles, Zinhle Dube, Sandile Gontsana, Kwesi Jeffers, Stephanie Lo, Sadia McEwen, Khaya Maseko, Daniel Monteiro, Nosipho Nkonqa, Dominique Planter, Antoine Murray-Straughan, Kayode Salina and Ricardo Walker.

Review: Show Boat at the New London Theatre

Show Boat
New London Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 27th April 2016

Fresh from its run at the Sheffield Crucible, Daniel Evans' revival of Show Boat has sailed into the West End's New London Theatre. Not only is Show Boat an important part of theatrical history, but it features a beautifully timeless score that continues to charm in 2016.

Review: The Flick at the National Theatre

The Flick
National Theatre (Dorfman)
Reviewed on Thursday 28th April 2016

Theatre can be a bold, bright attack of the senses. It can also be a still, reflective creation that can leave you wondering long into the night.

Further casting revealed for Groundhog Day musical

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye has announced further casting for Tim Minchin's musical adaptation of Groundhog Day at the Old Vic.

With book by Danny Rubin and choreography by Peter Darling, the musical is directed by Matthew Warchus who previously collaborated with Minchin on Matilda.

The show will open at the Old Vic on 16th August 2016 (previews from 11th July). As previously announced, Broadway actor Andy Karl will lead the cast as Phil. Joining the cast are Carlyss Peer as Rita and Eugene McCoy as Larry.

GOSSIP: Lin-Manuel Miranda won't star in London opening of Hamilton

According to the Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye, Lin-Manuel Miranda won't star in his musical Hamilton when it opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in the autumn of 2017.

However, Bamigboye reports that Miranda plans to join the cast later on in its run, perhaps in 2018 or 2019. Dates of the musical's London opening are expected to be officially confirmed over the next few weeks. 

Hamilton is directed by Thomas Kail with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show opened on Broadway last year to tremendous acclaim and is sold out for the rest of the year. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Lucy Jane Adcock taking over as Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls UK tour

Lucy Jane Adcock has announced that she is temporarily taking over from Louise Dearman as Miss Adelaide in the UK touring production of Guys and Dolls. 

Jane Adcock will play her first performance on 3rd May at the Norwich Theatre Royal. She currently understudies Miss Adelaide in the West End production of the show which is directed by Gordon Greenberg with choreography by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright.

As previously announced, Dearman is departing the tour due to other commitments. She is scheduled to return as Miss Adelaide on 7th June when Guys and Dolls opens in Glasgow. Dearman will complete the rest of the tour which concludes in Woking on 30th July 2016 (she will not perform on 2nd, 15th or 16th July due to other commitments).

Jamie Muscato to star in A Subject of Scandal and Concern

Jamie Muscato will star as Mr Holyoake in A Subject of Scandal and Concern by John Osborne.

The show opens at the Finborough Theatre on 23rd May (previews from 22nd May) and runs until 7th June 2016.

Directed by Jimmy Walters, this production marks marks the first theatrical staging of A Subject of Scandal and Concern in over 40 years and its long overdue London premiere.

Based on the true story of the last man to stand trial for blasphemy in England, A Subject Of Scandal and Concern was originally written for television in 1960 starring Richard Burton and Rachel Roberts, and directed by Tony Richardson, and was first seen onstage in Nottingham in the early 1960s.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery extends West End run to April 2017

Mischief Theatre have announced that their latest show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery has extended for a further six months.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is now booking to 23rd April 2017.

The production opened last week at the Criterion Theatre and has already taken more than £1m at the box office.

With Peter Pan Goes Wrong set to return to the Apollo Theatre for a limited run from October and The Play That Goes Wrong continuing to play to packed houses at the Duchess Theatre, remarkably Mischief Theatre will have three shows running in the West End over the festive period.

Richard Meek taking over as Brad in The Rocky Horror Show

Richard Meek is taking over from Ben Freeman as Brad Majors in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show from 6th June 2016.

Meek reprises his performance as Brad, having played the role on previous UK tours as well as in Singapore and New Zealand. He recently played Eddie/DR Scott in the musical's West End run at the Playhouse Theatre and has been alternating Eddie/DR Scott on the current tour. 

His theatre credits include: Sir Galahad in Spamalot (UK tour), Dustin/understudy Greaseball in Starlight Express (Germany), News Revue (Canal Cafe), understudy Jesus in Godspell (UK tour), Joseph & Judah in Joseph (UK tour) and Mikado in Hot Mikado (Upstairs at the Gatehouse). 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: The Toxic Avenger at the Southwark Playhouse

The Toxic Avenger 
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 26th September 2016

Having premiered in New Jersey in 2008 before opening off-Broadway the following year, The Toxic Avenger is finally making its UK premiere. Providing two and a half hours of joyous insanity, The Toxic Avenger features a brilliant rock-fuelled score by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro who wrote the musical Memphis.

Final casting announced for No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart

Final casting has been announced for Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land.

Best known for his roles in BBC’s Being Human and Ripper Street, Damien Molony completes the cast as 'Foster'.

He joins the previously announced Ian McKellen as ‘Spooner’, Patrick Stewart as ‘Hirst’ and Owen Teale as ‘Briggs’ in Sean Mathias’ production.

No Man’s Land will embark on a UK tour, opening in Sheffield from 3rd August, followed by dates in Newcastle, Brighton and Cardiff. The production will then head into London’s West End where it will play a limited 14 week engagement at the Wyndham’s Theatre opening on 20th September (previews from 8th September) and run until 17th December 2016.

Tituss Burgess to play London Hippodrome

Broadway's Tituss Burgess will make his London debut with solo shows at the London Hippodrome on 22nd and 23rd September 2016.

Burgess made his Broadway debut in Good Vibrations before going on to appear in Jersey Boys. He went on to originate the role of Sebastian in Disney's The Little Mermaid opposite Sierra Boggess and later returned to Broadway as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Interview: Steffan Rhodri

Steffan Rhodri is currently starring as Cyrano in Cyrano De Bergerac at Theatr Clwyd directed by Phillip Breen.

Steffan returns to Theatr Clwyd having previously appeared in Mary Stuart, Great Expectations, The Birthday Party, The Crucible, Betrayal, Dealer’s Choice, Bedroom Farce and King Lear. 

His other theatre credits include The Hairy Ape (Old Vic), The Mentalists (Wyndham’s), Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (National), Goya (Gate), A Mad World My Masters & Candide (both RSC), Posh & Absent Friends (both West End), The Kitchen Sink (Bush), Clybourne Park (Royal Court), Abigail’s Party (Hampstead/West End), The Father (Chichester), Richard II (Ludlow) and The Tempest & Two Noble Kinsmen (Shakespeare’s Globe). 

On screen he is best known for playing Dave Coaches in Gavin and Stacey, with his credits also including Spilt Milk, Under Milk Wood, Hinterland, A Touch of Cloth, Father Brown, Stella, Wire in the Blood, Belonging, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Submarine, The Big I Am, Ali G Indahouse, Solomon & Gaenor and Twin Town.

I recently spoke to Steffan about returning to Theatr Clwyd, how this production of Cyrano De Bergerac came about and people still wanting to talk to him about Gavin and Stacey…

How did this production of Cyrano De Bergerac come about?
Well it was partly my idea! It doesn’t happen very often, but in this instance I’ve been involved right from the start. Phillip Breen, the director, and I go back a long way – we worked here at Clwyd together and then became friends. We were on holiday about eight years ago and I mentioned Cyrano because it had been mulling round in my mind. It’s such a great story which is adaptable in many ways. I said, “Wouldn’t it be great to do some sort of twist on it?” I was thinking of writing a screenplay and setting it in Wales – maybe make a bilingual film.

It's official! Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Emily Blunt in new Mary Poppins film

It has been confirmed that Lin-Manuel Miranda will star alongside Emily Blunt in Disney’s new Mary Poppins film.

According to The Wrap, the Hamilton writer and star is confirmed to play lamplighter Jack (not to be confused with Bert). Blunt takes on the title role.

With Miranda currently writing songs for Disney’s upcoming film Moana, there is speculation that he could also write some material for the Mary Poppins film.

Directed by Rob Marshall (Into The Woods)it is reported that the film will be set in London around twenty years after the original story. Screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland) is penning the film whilst Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Smash/Hairspray) are composing a new score featuring original songs. 

Review: Closer Than Ever at the Pheasantry

Closer Than Ever
The Pheasantry
Reviewed on Monday 25th April 2016

With it's wistful score, the melodious Closer Than Ever is a song cycle that sings achingly about the struggles of accepting adulthood. The characters we meet are in their 30s, desperately torn between the eternal abandon of youth, and the fast encroaching confinement of, responsibility, family and unease that comes with middle age. They are thrust in front of us, reflecting on past flings, second marriages and exercise fads. 

PICS: Show Boat opens at the New London Theatre

Daniel Evans’ Sheffield Crucible production of Show Boat celebrated its West End opening last night (25th April) at the New London Theatre. VIP guests included Bryan Adams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ian McKellen, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Julian Ovenden, Samantha Spiro, Charlotte Randle, Martin Sherman, Ruby Wax, Ben Freeman and Richard Wilson. Check out images below (click to enlarge).

Currently booking to 7th January 2017, Show Boat stars Malcolm Sinclair (Capt. Andy Hawks) and Chris Peluso (Gaylord Ravenal) who join original Sheffield cast members Gina Beck (Magnolia Hawks), Lucy Briers (Parthy Ann Hawks), Rebecca Trehearn (Julia La Verne), Emmanuel Kojo (Joe), Sandra Marvin (Queenie), Alex Young (Ellie May Chipley) and Danny Collins (Frank Schultz).

Review: Another World at the National Theatre (Temporary Space)

Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State
National Theatre (Temporary Space)
Reviewed on Monday 25th April 2016

You can’t turn the news on without seeing footage from some extremist group in the Middle East. Over the past few years, the rise in terrorist organisations such as ISIS, has been the hot topic of conversation. Who are these people? And how do they seduce British teenagers into joining their revolution? Playwright Gillian Slovo interviewed a number of people, from parents of those new recruits, to school children, lawyers and reverends, and the results is 95 minutes of harrowing and eye-opening theatre.

Casting announced for 2016-17 UK tour of The Full Monty

Simon Beaufoy’s The Full Monty is returning for a 2016-17 UK tour, opening on 21st September 2016 in Bournemouth and finishing on 15th April 2017 in Sheffield. 

Gary Lucy (EastEnders/Footballer’s Wives) will reprise his performance as Gaz, with the cast also including Joe Absolom (EastEnders/Doc Martin) as Lomper, Andrew Dunn (Dinnerladies) as Gerald, Louis Emerick (Brooksid) as Horse, Chris Fountain (Hollyoaks/Coronation Street) as Guy and Kai Owen (Torchwood) as Dave. 

Review: Doctor Faustus starring Kit Harington at the Duke of York's Theatre

Doctor Faustus 
Duke of York's Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 22nd April 2016

Breaking away from their usual home of Trafalgar Studios, the Jamie Lloyd Company have taken over the Duke of York's Theatre with their production of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (using Using Colin Teevan's adaptation). In true Jamie Lloyd style some courageous ideas have been thrown into the mix, with the exploration of celebrity culture providing the evening's most compelling moments.

Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington takes on the title role, giving a sturdy performance. There was talk in the interval of some girls almost passing out when Harington took his clothes off; but there's more to Harington than his six pack - he's at ease on stage and throws himself into Faustus' complex mindset, performing intensely gory scene after intensely gory scene.

Harington stars opposite the sensational Jenna Russell as Mephistopheles - I couldn't take my eyes off Russell, once again she gives a faultless performance in an entirely different role. There truly is nothing she cannot do. The ensemble are in sync, performing Polly Bennett's eerie movement direction.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Jennifer Hudson & Harvey Fierstein to star in Hairspray LIVE!

Harvey Fierstein and Jennifer Hudson will star in NBC's Hairspray LIVE on 7th December 2016.

Fierstein, who will write the screenplay for the live broadcast, will reprise the role of Edna Turnblad which he originated on Broadway. 

Hudson, who is currently starring in The Color Purple on Broadway, will play Motormouth Maybelle. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

UPDATE (28/04/16): Comedian and actor Martin Short, who recently appeared in It's Only a Play on Broadway, will play Wilbur. Derek Hough, who is best known for Dancing With The Stars and will star as Don Lockwood in the upcoming Broadway revival of Singin' in the Rain, has been cast as Corny Collins.

Guest Blog: Emma Naomi - Deathwatch

It has been a privilege to have my London debut at The Print Room. The Coronet is steeped in history; a fantastic and eccentric venue. And what a play! It's been a challenge but a good one. I feel "Deathwatch" requires a physical and vocal rigour that consolidates the training I have had. Anything less and the play cannot survive. This is also the smallest ensemble I have ever been a part of; there are only four of us.

During our first week we worked very closely with David Rudkin who translated the text from its original French. Any questions and problems we had were addressed early on in the rehearsal process. The fact that the play has been translated from another language hasn't changed my approach to the text. I am trying to do justice to the characters I'm playing and that will always be the case. I would say, however, that a great deal more research is required to understand the context of the characters' lives.

Deathwatch is my second theatre job, the first playing Mercy Lewis in The Crucible, Bristol Old Vic. I was lucky enough to find I had won the part on our last day of third year and it allowed me to relax and research over the summer. The ensemble took me under their wing and I had a fantastic time.

PICS: Rehearsals for The Invisible Hand at the Tricycle Theatre

Rehearsal images have been released for the UK premiere of political thriller The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar. Check out the images below (click picture to enlarge).

Directed by artistic director Indhu Rubasingham, the show opens at the Tricycle Theatre on 18th May (previews from 12th May) and runs until 2nd July 2016. Design is by Lizzie Clachanwith lighting by Oliver Fenwick and sound by Alex Caplan.

Wicked's International Tour to play Hong Kong

It has been announced that Wicked's new international tour will play Hong Kong. 

The show will begin performances at Academy for Performing Arts Lyric Theatre between 8th December 2016 and 1st January 2017

As previously announced, the new production will open at the Bradford Alhambra Theatre on 20th July 2016 for five week season before travelling overseas.  Bradford will be the only British city outside of London to host Wicked in 2016. 

Wicked will play Mastercard Theatres in Singapore between 29th September and 16th October 2016 and the Theatre at Solaire in Manila in 2017.

Park Theatre announces new season

Artistic director Jez Bond has announced the Park Theatre's new season of work; including four world premieres, three UK premieres, two European premieres and a London premiere. 

Bond says, "As well as welcoming back names who have proven hugely popular with our audiences, we are thrilled to announce brilliant new talent who will be making their Park Theatre debuts, including Mark Gatiss and Hollywood star Anne Archer. 

"With a mixture of plays plus two musicals – a first for Park90 – I’m delighted to announce what I am sure will be a scintillating and varied programme. The first professional show I directed was a J B Priestley play and I consider him one of the master storytellers, so on a personal note, I’m absolutely thrilled we’re presenting his lost gem as part of our season!"

Big Interview: Nicholas Corre

Nicholas Corre is currently starring in Maltby & Shire's revue Closer Than Ever at The Pheasantry between 25th and 27th April 2016. 

Premiering in Massachusetts in 1989, Closer Than Ever soon opened off-Broadway where it played for 300 performances. It returned to New York off-Broadway in 2012 and last played London in 2014 at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

Nicholas recently starred as Harold in the first London revival of Bar Mitzvah Boy (Upstairs at the Gatehouse/Radlett Centre). His theatre credits also include The Book of Mormon (West End) and the UK premiere of Dogfight (Southwark Playhouse).

During a break from rehearsals, I recently spoke to Nicholas about anyone being able to relate to Closer Than Ever, the audience response to Bar Mitzvah Boy and what made going into The Book of Mormon so nerve-wracking. We also discussed his mum’s distinct laugh, dream roles and much more…

What were your first impressions when you heard about this production of Closer Than Ever?
I hadn’t heard of the show, but obviously I’m familiar with the writers Maltby and Shire. I frantically searched around on the internet, but there’s isn’t really anything apart from one cast recording from the 90s and a list of the songs on Wikipedia. I was going in blind! I’d worked with our MD Nick (Barstow) before, and thought it sounded like a really fun opportunity to get involved in something new and so different to what I’ve done before.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Interview: Broadway's Spencer Liff, choreographer of Falsettos & Spring Awakening

Spencer Liff is one of Broadway’s leading choreographers.

Later this year he will choreograph the Broadway revival of Falsettos starring Christian Borle, Stephanie J Block and Andrew Rannells having recently choreographed the Broadway revivals of Spring Awakening and Hedwig And The Angry Inch.

Spencer has earned two Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Choreography for his work on the Fox TV series So You Think You Can Dance, where he has been a resident choreographer for the past 7 seasons. 

His other recent TV credits include Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (choreographer & co-producer), Dancing with the Stars, How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, Mike and Molly, 2 Broke Girls, Happyland, The Latin Grammy Awards and The Emmy Awards. His film credits include the upcoming feature film Speech & Debate adapted from the Roundabout Theater play written by Steven Karam.

As a performer, Spencer earned his Equity card at the age of 7 in the first National Tour of The Will Rogers Follies directed by Tommy Tune. He made his Broadway debut in Big-The Musical, followed by The Wedding Singer, Cry-baby, Equus, and 9 to 5. Spencer won the 2008 Fred Astaire Award as Best Male Dancer on Broadway for his role in Cry-baby for which he was also associate choreographer and dance captain. 

Spencer can be seen in the NBC TV series SMASH whilst his film credits include Hairspray (Mikey), Across The Universe (Daniel), the recent remake of Footloose and the TV movie Gypsy with Bette Midler. 

During my recent trip to New York, I sat down with Spencer; we spoke about the buzz around Falsettos’ return to Broadway, the pressure of staging a revival, his journey with Spring Awakening and his ridiculously busy schedule… 

Everyone is so excited about Falsettos coming back to Broadway! How long has the show been on your radar?
I knew the show because I was a kid actor, and right after Falsettos was on Broadway I got to New York. I sang the songs as a kid, but had never seen a production and in my mind it wasn’t really a big dance show. I woke up to an email from James Lapine (co-writer/director) one morning in November… I was like ‘that’s weird’. I opened it, and he said he had seen Spring Awakening the previous night and would love to meet with me.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Broadway Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock starring Alex Brightman & Sierra Boggess

School Of Rock
Winter Garden Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 29th March 2016

Andrew Lloyd Webber has a hit on his hands! The 2003 film School Of Rock starring Jack Black was always destined to be turned into a musical, but nobody thought Lloyd Webber would be "the man" to make it happen.

Rachel Potter to play the London Hippodrome

Club11 have announced that Broadway star Rachel Potter will play the London Hippodrome on 11th July 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

Potter originated the role of Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family on Broadway and went on to play The Mistress in the Broadway revival of Evita, having previously understudied Glinda in the U.S. tour of Wicked.

On screen, Potter competed on the U.S. version of The X Factor and MTV's The Search for Elle Woods.

Daniel Bedingfield leaves The War of the Worlds

Daniel Bedingfield has left the West End production of The War of the Worlds due to "unforeseen circumstances".

Understudy Simon Shorten has taken over as The Artilleryman for the rest of the musical's run at the Dominion Theatre.

After The Mirror reported that Bedingfield had left the show due to "tensions behind the scenes", a representative for The War of the Worlds told the newspaper: "Daniel Bedingfield is no longer performing in the show due to unforeseen circumstances. The role of the Artilleryman is played by Simon Shorten.”

Full casting announced for Henry V at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Full casting has been announced for Henry V at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

The show opens on 22nd June (previews from 13th May) and runs until 12th June 2016.

As previously announced, Michelle Terry plays the title role. With a wealth of Shakespearean roles to her credit, Terry is most noted for her numerous roles at The Globe, RSC and the National, as well as Privacy (Donmar Warehouse) and Before the Party (Almeida).

In 2011 she was awarded ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ at the Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in the Royal Court Theatre production of Tribes.

Review: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery at the Criterion Theatre

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
Criterion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 21st April 2016

With The Play That Goes Wrong continuing to play to sold out houses at the Duchess and Peter Pan Goes Wrong set to return to the Apollo this Christmas, Mischief Theatre have premiered their new show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery at the West End's Criterion Theatre.

Claire Sweeney replaces Michelle Collins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Michelle Collins is withdrawing from her role as Baroness Bomburst in the UK and Ireland tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang due to a knee injury. 

Collins will play her final performance on 30th July 2016. Claire Sweeney (Brookside/Hairspray) will take over as Baroness Bomburst from 3rd August 2016 and continue with the tour until it concludes in February 2017.

Collins says: "I will be really sorry to leave the fantastic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tour after my dates at the New Wimbledon Theatre and six months on the road. I love playing the all singing and dancing Baroness Bomburst, but have been advised that the knee problem I have been managing along the way will not fully recover if I carry on for the rest of the 12-month tour. I wish Claire Sweeney every success when she takes over the role this summer."

Video: Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson & The Color Purple cast pay tribute to Prince

Last night (21st April), Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and the Broadway cast of The Color Purple paid tribute to Prince with an insane rendition of 'Purple Rain'. No other words are needed - watch the video below.

PICS: Lily James & Richard Madden rehearse Romeo and Juliet

Rehearsal images have been released for Romeo and Juliet which opens at the Garrick Theatre on 25th May (previews from 12th May) as part of Kenneth Branagh's Plays at the Garrick season. Check out the pictures below (click image to enlarge).

The show plays until 13th August 2016 with a live cinema broadcast set for 7th July. Cinderella stars Lily James and Richard Madden who reunite with Branagh to star as Juliet and Romeo alongside Derek Jacobi as Mercutio. Branagh and Rob Ashford are co-directing the show.

Harry Melling joins Glenda Jackson in Old Vic's King Lear

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye has announced that Harry Potter actor Harry Melling, who is currently starring in Hand To God, will appear opposite the previously announced Glenda Jackson in King Lear at the Old Vic. Directed by Deborah Warner, performances will begin on 25th October 2016.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Robert Fairchild & Leanne Michelle Cope to star in An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye has announced that An American in Paris is transferring to the West End next year.

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris will open at the Dominion Theatre on 4th March 2017. 

Robert Fairchild and British dancer Leanne Michelle Cope will lead the cast, reprising their performance from the Broadway production.

Big Interview: Paul Alexander Nolan, starring in Bright Star on Broadway

Paul Alexander Nolan is currently starring as Jimmy Ray Dobbs in Bright Star on Broadway at the Cort Theatre. The show is written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, inspired by their 2013 bluegrass album Love Has Come for You.

Paul’s Broadway credits include playing Guy in Once, Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar and Pasha/Strelnikov in Doctor Zhivago. He recently appeared in Daddy Long Legs off-Broadway.

His U.S. regional credits include: Aida (Kansas City Starlight); JCS and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (La Jolla Playhouse); six seasons with the Stratford Festival, including As You Like It (Orlando), The Grapes of Wrath (Al), Cyrano de Bergerac (Valvert), West Side Story (Tony, dir. Gary Griffin), Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus) and The Who's Tommy (Cousin Kevin).

During my recent trip to New York, I sat down with Paul before a performance of Bright Star to discuss how audiences have been responding to the show, why he turned down his first audition for Once and how seeing Les Mis aged thirteen made him realise he wanted to be a performer…

Opening a Broadway show is such a big deal – what’s going through your mind now that you’re open? 
I think the busier you get the more present you get because you can’t think about what’s happening tomorrow. My wife and I moved the week after opening night – I had done no packing. It has been busy! We’ve had more downtime after opening because we’re not rehearsing. We’ll enter another period with awards season coming up.

Broadway Review: The King & I starring Kelli O'Hara & Ken Watanabe

The King & I
Lincoln Center (Vivian Beaumont Theater)
Reviewed on Friday 25th March 2016

Bartlett Sher's Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King & I sits beautifully at the Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. The show, which was last seen in the West End at the Palladium in 2000, follows a British schoolteacher's unexpected relationship with the King of Siam.

This House transferring to Garrick Theatre

James Graham’s political drama This House will transfer to the Garrick Theatre, following its upcoming run at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. 

Having originally played two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin, This House opens in the West End on 30th November 2016 (previews from 29th November). Design is by Rae Smith with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Ian Dickinson and choreography by Scott Ambler.

Review: My Mother Said I Never Should at the St James Theatre

My Mother Said I Never Should 
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 18th April 2016

Charlotte Keatley’s 1985 debut play My Mother Said I Never Should made its mark with an Olivier nomination for her as Most Promising Newcomer, and in 2000 it was listed as one of the 100 Significant Plays of the Twentieth Century by the National Theatre. While I wouldn’t personally bestow that sort of honour on it, this is a both moving and often very funny examination of relationships and social pressures told through the lives of four female members of the same family.

Review: Sheridan Smith stars in Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre

Funny Girl 
Savoy Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th April 2016

Following its sold out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Funny Girl has transferred to the West End where it hasn't been seen since Barbra Streisand starred as Fanny Brice in 1966. Juxtaposing Fanny Brice's rise to stardom with the downfall of her marriage to Nick Arnstein, Funny Girl is a heartfelt musical about fame, love and what really goes on behind closed doors.

I thought Michael Mayer's production was sensational at the Chocolate Factory, but it's even better at the Savoy. Both the cast and set have been expanded to give the show more glitz and glamour. The performance numbers fill the stage gloriously (there's some brilliant choreography by Lynne Page) whilst the more sincere scenes still feel intimate and detailed. Jule Styne's music is more charming than ever. 

I cannot find the words to express how phenomenal Sheridan Smith is as Fanny Brice. Smith nails every scene; she comes into her own during the song and dance numbers, showcasing impeccable comic timing and leading the cast with tremendous spirit. Her portrayal of offstage Fanny is equally as masterful; Smith can play things up with a twinkle in her eye without losing the character's sincerity. She performs the heartfelt moments with genuine emotion, it really is quite moving.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Broadway Review: Rachel Tucker stars in Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre

Gershwin Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 25th March 2016

It's hard to believe Wicked is currently playing its twelfth year on Broadway. The production is in tip top shape - I can't remember the last time I saw Joe Mantello's production looking so slick. Nothing quite beats seeing Wicked in New York, the audience were buzzing before the show had even begun.

Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz. After seeing Wicked you will never be able to watch The Wizard of Oz in the same way ever again. During the first act we learn how the two witches - The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good - came to meet during their time at university, whilst in the second half we discover what happened behind the scenes when Dorothy was following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.

The musical may feature a grand design, dazzling costumes and an epic score, but at its heart Wicked is a show about the unique friendship formed between two women. Wicked stands apart from other shows because of the way it speaks to people; everyone can relate to a character in some way. Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's show is an absolute masterpiece.

Broadway Review: The Color Purple starring Cynthia Erivo & Jennifer Hudson

The Color Purple
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 30th March 2016

Having first played London's Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013, John Doyle's stripped back, stylistic production of The Color Purple has made it to Broadway with West End star Cynthia Erivo reprising her performance. Adapted from Alice Walker, The Color Purple tells a heartbreaking story; whilst it is gut wrenching, the piece also inspires and and is spiritually uplifting.

When I saw Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray and Marsha Norman's show in London I remember writing that I'd never experienced an audience reaction like it; however, seeing The Color Purple on Broadway was a whole different ball game. From the second the lights went down and the first number began the audience went crazy - the way this show connects with people is extraordinary. 

Erivo stars as Celie who is put through the most horrific emotional turmoils; after having an awful upbringing, Celie is married off to a man who beats her. On top of that she thinks her sister is dead and has no idea about the well-being of her two children. The piece follows Celie's life between 1914 and 1945, you can't help but be moved by her story as she ventures down her path to self acceptance. 

Hand To God announces early closure

The West End production of Hand To God will close at the Vaudeville Theatre on 30th April 2016. 

The production was previously booking to 11th June, having opened in February.

Robert Askins’ play is directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The cast of Hand To God, which ran for nine months on Broadway, includes Harry Melling (Angry Brigade/Harry Potter) and Janie Dee (Blithe Spirit/The Seagull) as well as Neil Pearson, Jemima Rooper and Kevin Mains. 

The Railway Children extends to January 2017

Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children has extended its run at the King's Cross Theatre to 8th January 2017, with new tickets released today (20th April).

The Railway Children opened at King’s Cross Theatre on 14th January 2015, following previews from 16th December 2014. The show, which currently plays in REP with In The Heights, will celebrate its 2nd Anniversary on 16th December 2016.

The cast of The Railway Children currently includes Martin Barass as Mr Perks, Suzy Cooper as Mother, Sophie Ablett as Bobbie, Matt Jessup as Peter, Beth Lilly as Phyllis, Lindsay Allen as Mrs Perks, Peter Gardiner as Doctor/Butler, Connie Hyde as Mrs Viney, Shaun McCourt as Jim, Blair Plant as Father/Schepansky and Moray Treadwell as the Old Gentleman. Adam Collier, Helen Brampton, Alan Drake and Julie Gilby complete the cast. The children’s ensemble is made up of four teams of ten children aged between 8 and 16.

Mamma Mia! announces new cast

Here she goes again! Linzi Hateley is set to reprise her performance as Donna Sheridan in the West End production of Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre from 13th June 2016.

Hateley has played the role twice before in London – from 2007-2009 and in 2010. Her other recent theatre credits include Barnum (tour), London Road (National Theatre & film) and Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre). 

Also joining the cast of Mamma Mia! are Sanne Den Besten (Les Misérables) as Sophie Sheridan, Richard Carson (Miss Saigon/Wicked) as Sky, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart (The Three Lions/39 Steps) as Bill, Jemma Revell as Ali, Amy Webb as Lisa, Filippo Coffano as Pepper and Jake Small as Eddie, with Sorelle Marsh playing the role of Donna Sheridan at certain performances. They will be joining Mazz Murray as Tanya, Jo Napthine as Rosie, Richard Trinder as Sam and Alasdair Harvey as Harry.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Broadway Review: Finding Neverland starring Alfie Boe, Laura Michelle Kelly & Kelsey Grammer

Finding Neverland
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 30th March 2016 (matinee)

Inspired by Allan Knee's play The Man Who Was Peter Pan and the 2004 film, Finding Neverland began its life in the UK at the Leicester Curve four years ago. However, producer Harvey Weinstein was unhappy with the production so fired most the creative team and started afresh. A new version of the show - by UK pop star Gary Barlow, Eliot Kennedy and James Graham - premiered at the American Repertory Theater in 2014 before transferring to Broadway the following year.

Broadway Review: Bright Star starring Carmen Cusack & Paul Alexander Nolan

Bright Star
Cort Theatre
Reviewed on Sunday 27th March 2016 (matinee)

Bright Star is a hard show to review because I sat down knowing nothing and think that's how everyone should experience it. The show is written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, inspired by their 2013 bluegrass album Love Has Come for You.

Review: The Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour) at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour)
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 18th April 2016

Fresh from its recent West End run during which a gala performance was beamed to cinemas around the world, The Rocky Horror Show is back on another UK tour. There is nothing like The Rocky Horror Show; it's not just a musical but a theatrical event with audience members continuing to dress up and heckle throughout. I love watching people who are seeing the show for the first time - they have absolutely no idea what world they have stumbled into.