26 July 2019

Theatre News Round-Up - 26/7/19

There's been LOTS of theatre news this week. Here we've rounded up some of the biggest...

The Full Cast of Mary Poppins Announced
Disney's Mary Poppins returns to London this winter once again returning to the Prince Edward Theatre where it originally opened back in 2004. This revival will be led by Zizi Strallen as Mary and Charlie Stemp as Bert. Joseph Millson plays Mr Banks, Amy Griffiths plays Winifred Banks, Petula Clark plays The Bird Woman, Claire Moore plays Miss Andrews, Claire Machin plays Mrs Brill, Jack North plays Roberston Ay and Barry James plays Bank Chairman and Admiral Boom.

Zizi Strallen (Mary) and Charlie Stemp (Bert)
Photo by Seamus Ryan

The ensemble is made up of 
Yves AdangLydia BannisterAngeline BellLydia BoultonMatt CoxAdam DavidsonKatie DeaconDanielle DelysJoshua DenyerStan DoughtyGlen FaceyDavide FienauriIan Gareth-JonesMark GoldthorpJoanna GregoryCatherine HannayJacqueline HughesJason KajdiSam LathwoodJordan LiveseyCeili O’ConnorMalinda ParrisAlex PinderBen RedfernRachel SpurrellLucie-Mae SumnerRhys West and Monique Young.

Mary Poppins is a show that I personally love and am REALLY excited to see it again especially with such a brilliant cast.

Mary Poppins runs at London's Prince Edward Theatre from October. To book visit here.

New Phantom of the Opera cast
Josh Piterman will take over the role of The Phantom in the London cast of The Phantom of the Opera. The Australian musical theatre star will take over the title from Tim Howar who is currently playing the role. Josh and the new company start in the show on September 9th 2019.

Also joining the cast are Richard Woodford as Monsieur Andre and Britt Lenting as Carlotta. Danny Whitehead will take over as Raoul with Bridget Costello being promoted to alternate Christine Daae.

Tim Howar (Phantom) and Kelly Mathieson (Christine) in The Phantom of the Opera
Those continuing in their roles include; Kelly Mathieson as Christine Daae, Georgia Ware as Meg Giry, Jacinta Mulcahy as Madame Giry, Paul Ettore Tabone as Ubaldo Piagni, Ross Dawes as Monsieur Firmin. Scott Davies will continue as the standby Phantom.

Completing the cast are Adam Robert LewisAlistair SoAndrei Teodor IliescuAnna ShircliffBen TylerClaire TillingCorinne CowlingDanielle PullumEleanor Sanderson-NashEllen JacksonGrace CastleHadrian DelaceyJames ButcherJohn StaceyKaty HannaKris ManuelManon TarisMatthew BarrowMorven DouglasPaul ErbsPhilip GriffithsRebecca RidoutSimon WhitakerSophie CatonSophie CottrillTim MorganVictoria Ward, and Zoe Arshamian.

The Phantom of the Opera plays at London's Her Majesty's Theatre. To book visit here.

New Tina Turner Announced For London
Tina - The Tina Turner musical which opened in spring 2018 has announced its new leading lady. Aisha Jawando will take over the role from October 8th 2019. Aisha has been part of the shows cast since it opened and is now promoted to playing the role on a full-time basis.

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, who is currently playing the title role in London is expected to join the shows Broadway company as an alternate to Adrienne Warren. 

Nkeki Obi Melekwe as Tina. Photo by Manuel Harlan
Tina - The Tina Turner musical runs at London's Aldwych Theatre where it's currently booking until January 2020. To book visit here.

Waitress Extends
The London production of Waitress has announced the diner will stay open longer with booking now open until January 4th 2020.

The musical with a gorgeous score by Sara Bareilles and an all-female creative team opened earlier this year and has clearly proved popular with London audiences.

The current cast is led by Lucie Jones, who is spectacular, in the lead role of Jenna. Ashley Roberts plays Dawn until August 10th, with Laura Baldwin returning to the role on August 12th. Marisha Wallace plays Becky.
Ashley Roberts (Dawn), Lucie Jones (Jenna) and Marisha Wallace (Becky). Photo by Johan Persson.
David Hunter plays Dr Pomatter, Peter Hannah plays Earl, Shaun Prendergast plays Joe, Stephen Leask plays Cal, Blake Harrison plays Ogie and Kelly Agbowu as Nurse Norma.

Completing the cast are Piers Bate, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Chris McGuigan, Olivia Moore, Nathaniel Morrison, Charlotte Riby, Michael Hamway, Sarah O'Connor, Leanne Pinder and Mark Wilshire. Juliette Clemens-Lary and Annabelle Jones share the role of Lulu.

Waitress is playing a London's Adelphi Theatre. To book visit here.

Andy Mace Takes Over In Only Fools and Horses
Andy Mace will take over the role of Grandad from Paul Whitehouse in the London production of Only Fools and Horses The Musical.

Mace will take over the role from July 29th. Paul Whitehouse who currently plays the role will return to the show at a later date which is yet to be confirmed.

The musical based on the massively popular sitcom is running at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket Theatre brings to life the iconic characters back to life. The show written for the stage by Jim Sullivan, son of the TV shows creator John Sullivan and Paul Whitehouse.

Andy Mace pictured as Grandad.
The current cast includes: Adrian Irvine as Denzil, Chris Kiely as Mickey Pearce, Dianne Pilkington as Raquel, Jeff Nicholson as Boycie, Pete Gallagher and Adam Venue as the Driscoll Brothers, Peter Baker as TriggerPippa Duffy as Cassandra, Ryan Hutton as Rodney, Samantha Seager as Marlene, and Tom Bennett as Del Boy.

Only Fools at Horses runs at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket currently booking until February 2020. To book visit here.

With the summer here it's an exciting time ahead for British Theatre. Let us know what you're most excited about in the comments.

22 July 2019

Shows To See This Summer

We're in the midst of the summer now and with countless choice of shows to see we've picked 5 shows we recommend the most.

Amelie - UK Tour and West End
The stage musical adaptation of the popular 2001 French musical, Amelie, is touring across the UK. The charming tale of Amelie Poulain, a shy dreamer, who by chance meets Nino Quincampoix is stunningly performed by a cast of actor-musicians. In my recent review of the show, I described it as "musical theatre perfection". Audrey Brisson is spectacular in the title role.

Amelie Tour Photos all by Pamela Raith.
For the remaining tour dates visit here. If you cant catch the show on it's remaining UK dates then the show will run at London's The Other Palace this winter, click here, for more information.

The Merry Wives of Windsor - Shakespeare's Globe
For your, Shakespeare fix in London this summer turn to Shakespeare's Globe. Their always excellent productions are well worth checking out, especially with tickets in the yard still only £5 each. The jewel in the Globe's crown this summer is a hilarious production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Elle White's production takes influences from the 1930's music, dance and fashion. This is the Globe at it's best and the leading performance by Pearce Quigley as Sir John Falstaff proves once again why is he a master of comedy.
The cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Photo by Helen Murray.
The Merry Wives of Windsor runs at Shakespeare's Globe until October 12th, for details click here.

Six - Arts Theatre
A huge smash hit, Six the Musical, continues to play to sell-out audiences at London's Arts Theatre. A concert-style musical tells the story of Henry VIII's six wives from their perspective. A tremendous score by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow drives the show and a hugely talented cast make this one of the biggest hits on the West End at the minute.
The cast of Six the Musical. Photo by Idil Sukan
Six The Musical plays at London's Arts Theatre booking into 2020, to book click here. The show will also tour the UK from October, for details click here.

Come From Away - Phoenix Theatre
Telling the remarkable true story of the Canadian town which opened its doors to stranded plane passengers in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack, Come From Away, is one of the best shows to EVER hit the West End in my opinion. This stunningly powerful musical HAS to be seen. The message of kindness is so important and relevant. The cast of 12 and the live musicians are magnificent. Unmissable.

The London cast of Come From Away. Photo credit unknown.
Come From Away plays at London's Phoenix Theatre, to book click here.

Let us know what shows you think are MUST sees this summer.

19 July 2019

Vogue Parody - 73 Questions with Me!

The 73 questions idea was started by Vogue back in 2014. It's a fun and easy way of getting to know celebrities. Now it's my turn to have a go and hopefully, you learn some more about me!
I was nominated to join the game by Becky over at Musical Theatre Lives In Me – Take a look at her blog here.
1. What’s your usual Starbucks order? 
I don't particularly like hot drinks, other than Hot Chocolates and I tend to only have them in the winter. I'm more likely to order a fruit smoothie - anything with mango in it!

2. What does your work station look like? 
Tidy or I'd never know where I'd put things!

3. Favourite Food?
A difficult question to nail down. I'd probably say pizza but also love fish and chips (with mushy peas!) and gammon and eggs.

4. Favourite Author? 
Probably Marcus Sedgwick as I've read more of his books than any other author. My favourite of his that I've read is A Love Like Blood - probably the book I've enjoyed most generally.
The cover of A Love Like Blood by Marcus
5. What do you think of open relationships?
A definite no from me.

6. What is your favourite video game?
I only really ever play Fifa so that's the answer!

7. Guilty Pleasure treat?
Apple crumble or McFlurries!

8. Favourite Movie?
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. A cinematic masterpiece.

9. Favourite Book? 
See back to question four!

10. Twitter or Instagram?  
I think Twitter as it's a better way to connect to people whereas Instagram is just seeing people's photos and what they're up to rather than having that connection or conversation that you might have on Twitter.

11. Laptop or Desktop? 

12. Best advice you’ve ever received?
To never give up. Having someone believe in you during the darkest times can be so helpful.

13. What project are you working on right now? 
Mostly just this - Beyond The Curtain - as it's still in its early days but I'm hopefully going to develop as time goes on.

14. Favourite Colour? 
Royal Blue - Leicester City colour.

15. Did you get good grades in school? 
I got all the C's in GCSE's and went on to complete a BTEC National Diploma in Computing and also an apprenticeship in business administration

16. Dream Job?
Writing theatre content or just working within a theatre. Theatre is my greatest passion and love and I'd love to be able to spend my life within the theatre.

17. Play any sports?
Not any more really. I used to play football quite regularly and also a bit of tennis.

18. Do you have a degree? 
Nope, but see question 15 again for my life's academic achievements.

19. Nationality? 

20. What is your favourite kind of blog post? 
To write and to read - theatre content; reviews or reacting to the latest stagey news.

21. What do you like to collect? 
Autographs I guess is the answer. I love going to stage doors after a performance and asking the actors I've just watched to sign my programme. I guess in that regard too theatre programmes themselves too - I've endless boxes of them from across the years!

22. Describe yourself in three words
Weird, loyal and kind.

23. If you were a rapper, what would your stage name be?
Mc Jons - I've just made this up. It's shit, isn't it?

24. Who was the last person you Dm’d 

25. What’s on top of your wishlist right now? 
To go back to Paris.

The Eiffel Tower in 2015.
26. Sorting house 
Nope. I'm not sorting the house. I'm typing these... (I'll show myself out)... But Ravenclaw according to Pottermore.

27. How many tattoos do you have?

28. what are you most thankful for so far this year?
Other than seeing some amazing theatre, it's basically just being here still. It's been a really tough couple of years battling depression/anxiety but I'm nearly right back on the right track.

29. What’s the best thing that has happened so far this month? 
Seeing Amelie and being on holiday in Cornwall (where I'm typing this now)

30. What’s the best thing that has happened to you today? 
The first bite of the cheese and ham toastie I had at lunch was pretty damn brilliant.

31. Favourite season 
The football one? 
Spring or summer really. Brighter warmer weather helps me feel happier.

32. What’s the best thing ever? 
The feeling when the lights go down in the theatre and a show begins.

33. Favourite Holiday? 
Has to be Christmas - the lead up being the best part of it.

34. Which fictional character do you relate to most? 
Honestly, right now I'd say Amelie. I'm a bit of a daydreamer, who loves to be kind and do kind things. I'm also quite shy too. I see lots of me in her.

35. Do you like surprises? 
Yes and no! I like to give people surprises but I'm also quite anxious when receiving them.

36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had and 37. Which surprise made you cry? 
I really don't know. I'd feel bad to single anything out really here.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve ever given? 
Planning theatre trips for people's birthdays - like travel and tickets.

39. Do you like Muffins?
Depends on which type you're asking about really. Breakfast muffins yes. Sweet muffins (like chocolate or blueberry) not so much.

40. Do you cook often? 
I tend to be the one doing the evening meal, that or the mothership - which is mostly sticking things from the fridge/freezer in the oven!

41. What’s your favourite dessert? 
Apple crumble.
Apple crumble
42. Is there a dessert that you don’t like? 
I've never like meringue so anything with that - Eton mess etc.

43. Cake or pie? 
Cake. Although apple or cherry pie is right up there.

44. What’s your least favourite food? 
There are so many foods that I dislike but I really don't like spicy foods. Curries I really can't stand.

45. What’s your favourite condiment? 
Tomato ketchup. I have it with lots of things, even roast dinners - Christmas dinner included!

46. It’s 4am on a random Saturday, what are you doing? 
If I'm awake probably having a nervous breakdown! 

47. If you could a college class, what would it be called?
The dangers of social media. It's important that people know about what effects social media can have.

48. Best Animated Film? 
Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

49. What has a guy/girl ever done or said to impress you?
Just kindness and positivity.

50. The best thing to do on a first date? 
A meal then a show - granted you can't talk during a show but still sharing that experience is magical.

51. Worst thing to do on a first date? 
Be on your phone/not pay attention to your date.

52. What’s the best pick up line? 
(Can't even think of one right now!)

53. Best comic book character? 
Batman. Although some of the movie adaptations have been rubbish - I'm looking at you Batman vs Superman.

54. Name three things that are always in your handbag?
I don't carry a handbag!

55. Favourite Drink?
Mango smoothie/Pepsi Max

56. If you could play a historical figure in a movie, who would it be? 
Shakespeare or a King. I'm fascinated by history.

57. Kittens or Puppies 

58. Favourite Sushi Roll? 
Never tried sushi.

59. What lipstick do you use?

60. What foundation do you use?
Again none.

61. Blow-dry or air dry?
Towel then air dry!

62. Who is your fashion icon?
I don't have one.

63. Favourite Disney character?
Baloo from The Jungle Book.
Baloo from Disney's The Jungle Book
64. What are you doing tomorrow?
Travelling home from Cornwall.

65. Movie you laughed the most through?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

66. A movie that made you cry?
The end of Paddington 2 absolutely broke me! Pixar's Coco too and The Notebook.

67. If you could sing a duet with anybody, who would you choose?
Emma Williams, Show of Hands or Josh Groban

68. If your life was a song, what would the title be?
A Crazy Ride

69. Favourite animal?

70. Favourite illustrator?
I can't say I have one!

71. A person you'd love to have coffee with?
I'd love to meet historical figures from the past, William Shakespeare probably. But for those alive, Emma Thompson.

72. The country you'd most like to visit?
New Zealand. Blame my love of Lord of the Rings for this mostly but I just love the look of the landscape and scenery.

73. Best way to decompress?
Listen to music, read a book, watch a movie.

Les Miserables Concert Full Cast Announced.

With the big concert run of Les Miserables now under a month away the full cast has been announced.

This spectacular staging of the worlds longest running musical runs at the Gielgud Theatre for 10 weeks only this summer - next door to the Queens where the show recently closed for renovations of the theatre and where the show will re-open this December when the theatre is renamed the Sondheim Theatre.

Much of the lead cast has been previously announced; Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean (with John Owen Jones playing 3 performances a week), Michael Ball as Javert, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Fantine, Matt Lucas as Thénardier, Katy Secombe as Madame Thénardier, Rob Houchen as Marius and Bradley Jaden as Enjolras.

Shan Ako (Eponine) and Lily Kerhoas (Cosette) complete the principal cast.

The company includes: Rosanna Bates (Factory Worker), Adam Bayjou (Montparnasse), Ciarán Bowling (Swing), Simon Bowman (Bishop of Digne), Oliver Brenin (Swing/Dance Captain), Earl Carpenter (Barnatabois), Vinny Coyle (Feuilly), Samantha Dorsey (Whore), Tamsin Dowsett (Locket Crone), Nicola Espallardo (Factory Worker), Celia Graham (Factory Girl), Barnaby Hughes (Courfeyrac), Holly-Anne Hull (Whore), Oliver Jackson (Claquesous), Christopher Jacobsen (Warnings), Gavin James (Factory Foreman), Will Jennings (Swing), Ciaran Joyce (Joly), Katie Kerr (Swing), Sarah Lark (Swing/Assistant Dance Captain), Joanna Loxton (Assistant Dance Captain/Swing), Craig Mather (Combeferre), Stephen Matthews (Babet), James Nicholson (Jean Prouvaire), Rosa O’Reilly (Whore), Claire Parrish (Swing), Sophie Reeves (Swing), Grainne Renihan (Hair Crone), Leo Roberts (Brujon), Raymond Walsh (Grantaire), Gemma Wardle (Factory Worker) and Andrew York (Lesgles). 

The much-celebrated musical includes the iconic songs I Dreamed a Dream, Stars, Bring Him Home, One Day More and many more.

Les Misérables is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmerand original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel with additional material by James Fenton and adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird.
The concerts run at the Gielgud Theatre from the 10th August until 30th November 2019 - tickets are limited and are available here.  You certainly don't want to miss the theatrical event of the summer!


18 July 2019

Bollywood Jane arrives at Curve this August.

Saris, sequins and lip-syncing love songs – if only life could be so simple!

Curve's latest community production, Bollywood Jane, which will feature over 30 people from Leicester and Leicestershire is in the midst of rehearsals for a run this summer (2nd-11th August 2019) in the theatre's studio space.

The Bollywood Jane company in rehearsal. Photo by Matthew Cawrey
Bollywood Jane is set on Leicester’s Golden Mile and packed with drama, dynamic Bollywood-inspired choreography and sparkling saris. The show is directed by Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie (The Crucible, 2018) with choreography from Kesha Raithatha (Traces, 2018).

In this Bollywood-spectacular meets kitchen sink drama set on Leicester’s famous Golden
Mile, 16-year-old Jane and her mum, Kate is struggling to make ends meet. Heading to the
local Bollywood cinema for work, Jane becomes mesmerised by the ultimate rom-com
blockbuster, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ).

As a friendship with local boy and cinema co-worker, Dini looks to promise Jane her own
happily ever after, she daydreams of escaping her reality. Swept into the technicolour world
of her vivid imagination, Jane becomes the leading lady in her own Bollywood film.

Rav Moore (Dini) and Chloe Wilson (Jane). Photo by Matthew Cawrey
The role of Jane is shared across the run by Chloe Wilson and Phoebe Lewis.

Speaking about the role, Phoebe – who shares the same birthday as DDLJ and Bollywood
star Shah Rukh Khan - said:

“Bollywood Jane really appealed to me because I'm drawn to the vibrancy and sounds of
Bollywood. I feel honoured to have been given the chance to play Jane, and look forward to
bringing the character to life and working with such a wonderful diverse cast and creative

Playing Dini is Rav Moore who lives in Leicester, he said:

“It's an exciting project to get involved with. The show is set in Leicester and involves the
local community, plus it has a big Bollywood-esque story line which is great for Bollywood
lovers like myself!

“I am really excited to be involved in the big dance numbers, working with the amazingly
talented dancers we have. I have performed in multiple plays and musicals since I was a
child. Last year, I was the male lead for a dark comedy play that was performed at the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Bollywood Jane will be my second lead role this Summer!”

The ensemble. Photo by Matthew Cawrey
Rebekah Fleming, who performed in Curve’s 2018 Community production of Fiddler on the
Roof will play Jane’s mum Kate. She said:

“I love Curve community productions and this one was very different so thought it would be
nice to do something different for a change.

“I’m excited about the script, it’s pacey, funny and an opportunity to learn about another
culture that I’ve always been fascinated by. I’ve been performing for a while and have done
a few of Curve’s community productions over the years and love it every time. Curve is such
a special place to me.”

Tickets for Bollywood Jane at Curve are on sale now. To book, visit www.curveonline.co.uk,
call 0116 242 3595 or visit the Box Office in person at Curve.

15 July 2019

Poppy's First Show

Another blog written by one of you, the readers, this time it's Poppy Baxter who talks about seeing her first show, Hairspray.

Everyone has a few stand-out childhood movies, the ones that remind you now of your years then. My sister and I still share an intense love for the critically panned The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, she adored Bend it Like Beckham, my heart lay with Hairspray. 

As with many equally embarrassing memories from my pre-teens, my conscience will never quite be cleared of the crush I had on Elijah Kelley’s Seaweed from the 2007 Hairspray movie.

Hairspray Movie Poster.
The film was like candy, filled with sherbet dresses and catchy, cotton-candy tunes. Something about the film resonated with me, Tracy Turnblad’s confidence, beauty and strong voice empowered a chubby, frizzy-haired Pops and soon enough my sister was begging for a moments reprieve from my heartfelt car-ride renditions of ‘Good Morning Baltimore’.

I must’ve watched that movie 20, 21, 22 times over, the CD might as well have set up house in my CD player. I knew every word to every song, every riff my dear Seaweed sang, every “front step cha-cha-cha, back step cha-cha-cha” the Corny Collins hopefuls danced.

When the show came to the Birmingham Hippodrome in 2010 and my friend and I got tickets for my birthday, I didn’t think I could ever be more excited. A few rows back in the dress circle sat mum then, me then Chloe, then dad then sister, and then the show began.

Memories of the show come in bubbly, bright, technicolour bursts. The actors seemed like giants, the sets as tall as buildings. I remember the twirling swing skirts and saccharine suits of the ‘Nicest Kids in Town’, the moving melodies of the ensemble in ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’. I remember Les Dennis and Brian Conley as Wilbur and Edna Turnblad corpsing mid-embrace during ‘Timeless To Me’, the audience cheering them on only making it harder for them to keep a straight face. I remember thinking how much fun they all must be having, how pretty all the lights, costumes, sets were; and oh, sweet Seaweed. The dance moves were even more impressive in person.

I think I knew then that theatre meant something special. You could step into a room and be transported back in time or across the Atlantic or both. You could live anywhere for 2 hours and 20 minutes, even in your favourite movie, but it was more than a movie; more vibrant, more thrilling, more impermanent and unpredictable. In what movie would the actors crack up mid-scene? No cuts, no edits, no rewinds. It all happens in front of you. For all, I knew Chloe hated it, but I was hooked.

Production photo from Hairspray. Photo credit unknown.
Now decidedly older, arguably more mature and somewhat less chubby than I was then, I still can’t help falling in love all over again when I listen to Hairspray. With a fuller understanding of the context of the show and the society it portrays, I feel even more grateful to have witnessed it at such a young age. Hairspray is a show about acceptance, love and making yourself heard, messages which seem all-too-relevant in current climates.

And Seaweed, if you’re reading this, call me. 
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