About Terri Paddock

Since 1996, I have been passionate about promoting UK theatre, not least through WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, which I founded, and my latest theatre websites, StageFaves.com, a pioneering social media directory for musicals, and MyTheatreMates.com, a portal for theatre bloggers I co-founded with Mark Shenton. In addition, I have hosted hundreds of post-show Q&As, panel debates and other talks with all types of theatremakers. I have also written for various publications including The Times, Evening Standard, Express and Daily Telegraph, and have commented on theatre in a wide variety of print, digital, and broadcast media. Apart from my love of theatre, I am the author of two published novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs. Follow me on Twitter @TerriPaddock.
  • Joanne Pearce, Ameet Chana & Ian McDiarmid at What Shadows Q&A at London's Park Theatre
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    Podcast and photos: Ian McDiarmid and What Shadows cast on Enoch Powell and THAT speech

Podcast and photos: Ian McDiarmid and What Shadows cast on Enoch Powell and THAT speech

How do we talk to those that we hate? How do we speak across the anger that divides us? Those are the opening lines in Chris Hannan’s provocative new play, What Shadows – and they were also amongst the questions raised in the  Q&A I chaired with the cast after last night’s packed performance at London’s Park […]

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    Plays diary: What Shadows, Ink, The Unknown Island, Lucy Light, The Swallow

Plays diary: What Shadows, Ink, The Unknown Island, Lucy Light, The Swallow

I’ve had a rich few weeks for playgoing. In addition to productions I’ve already written about elsewhere – including, of those still running, Arrows and Traps’ Frankenstein at Brockley Jack and Stephen Clark’s Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios 2 – here’s a quick round-up of some other smart plays I’ve seen recently and […]

  • What has the National Theatre got in store for 2018?
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    Eye on the National: All the 2018 #NTNews announcements & reactions

Eye on the National: All the 2018 #NTNews announcements & reactions

If, like me, you're stuck at your desk today and can't follow the National Theatre 2018 season press briefing quite as closely as you'd like to, I've rounded up all today's key announcements and reactions for you here.
  • The Cervantes Theatre neighbours the Union in the new Union Yard Arches in London SE1
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    Picture this: My new neighbourhood Cervantes Theatre is a must-visit

Picture this: My new neighbourhood Cervantes Theatre is a must-visit

Living in SE1 in London, I’m absolutely spoilt for theatres. The South Bank powerhouses of the National Theatre, Old Vic and Young Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe, and, as of later this month, the new Bridge Theatre under the auspices of former NT uber-duo Nicks Hytner and Starr, are all within ten minutes’ walking distance. But […]

  • Christopher Tester in Frankenstein and Natasha Killam in The Test
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    Prometheus updated: From Frankenstein to artificial intelligence in The Test

Prometheus updated: From Frankenstein to artificial intelligence in The Test

It has been so fascinating to see Arrows and Traps’ startlingly fresh adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, just opened at Brockley Jack Theatre, and Ian Dixon Potter’s one-act drama The Test, finishing this weekend at the White Bear Theatre, in the same week on the London fringe.

Both stories centre on Promethean ambitions: scientists who, like […]

Top #quotes on faith, truth & tolerance from Doubt

There are only a few days left to catch Che Walker’s new in-the-round production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, which finishes at London’s Southwark Playhouse this Saturday (30 September 2017).

While catching up with friends last night, including the show’s producer Darren Murphy, a group of us started arguing anew over the central question in the […]

  • Christopher Renshaw, Julian Clary and James Nelson-Joyce at Le Grand Mort Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Remembering Stephen Clark with Julian Clary & co at Le Grand Mort

Photos and podcast: Remembering Stephen Clark with Julian Clary & co at Le Grand Mort

There was a moment I’ll never forget from the Q&A I hosted after last night’s performance of Stephen Clark’s Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios. Julian Clary, who is of course best known as a much-loved comedian and cabaret artist, had commented that it wasn’t really up to him whether he did more straight […]

  • Peter Hamilton Dyer (George Orwell), Jimmy Walters (director) & Tony Cox (writer) at the Mrs Orwell Q&A. © Peter Jones
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    Mrs Orwell Q&A podcast and photos: What might George Orwell have written after 1984?

Mrs Orwell Q&A podcast and photos: What might George Orwell have written after 1984?

Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged by a staggering 9,500% after the election of Donald Trump to become Amazon’s biggest seller. Orwell himself died, at the age of 46, in January 1950, just seven months after 1984 was published. What might he have written after 1984, and his earlier hit novel Animal Farm (published in 1945), if he’d lived […]

  • Waiting for Godot director Peter Reid with Tim and Jane Ridley, who saw the original 1955 production at the Arts Theatre
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    Q&A video and photos: Bringing Beckett’s Waiting for Godot home after 62 years

Q&A video and photos: Bringing Beckett’s Waiting for Godot home after 62 years

I had my own Godotesque moment to start last night’s Waiting for Godot Q&A. The stage was bare. Where were the chairs? Was anyone bringing chairs? How long would we be waiting for chairs? Did such things as chairs exist? In the end, five chairs did materialise – just enough for the show’s director and […]

  • Sondheim's Follies is a monster hit at the National Theatre
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Follies at the National

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Follies at the National

What do you need to know about Dominic Cooke’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre? It’s a great big, sumptuous, stellar hit.

I was lucky enough to see a preview myself this past weekend – standing ovation – and give a surprisingly alert-looking Dominic a hug afterwards. Any nerves he may have […]

  • Tom Hiddleston stars as Hamlet at RADA until 23 September 2017
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    #HiddleHamlet is a ★★★★ success (for the few lucky critics who got tickets)

#HiddleHamlet is a ★★★★ success (for the few lucky critics who got tickets)

Did you get lucky in the ticket ballot for #RADAHamlet, which on Twitter has also gained the predictable #HiddleHamlet hashtag thanks to its title star, Tom Hiddleston? The fundraising production, directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh (who previously directed Hiddleson onstage in Ivanov and onscreen in Thor and has long wanted to direct […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: What does Marlowe’s Edward II tell us about identity and gay rights?

Q&A podcast and photos: What does Marlowe’s Edward II tell us about identity and gay rights?

The plays may have been written 420-odd years apart, but I was really struck  by how many parallels there were between the discussion I hosted last week, to the European premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company at Trafalgar Studios, and the one I hosted last night, to Christopher Marlowe’s 16th-century classic Edward II.

Late Company, set […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: Confronting bullies with the Late Company cast

Q&A podcast and photos: Confronting bullies with the Late Company cast

Having heard so many of My Theatre Mates raving about Late Company following its European premiere earlier this year at the Finborough, I was really looking forward to seeing it at Trafalgar Studios. And yet, I still came under-prepared: I didn’t bring enough tissues. It’s not giving away too many spoilers to say that, if […]

  • Clockwise from top left: Mrs Orwell, Salad Days, Boom and King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe
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    My (non-Edinburgh) theatre diary: Salad Days, Mrs Orwell, Boom and Cowboy Rufus

My (non-Edinburgh) theatre diary: Salad Days, Mrs Orwell, Boom and Cowboy Rufus

It’s not just umbrella festival programmes, as I blogged earlier, that keep myself and other London theatregoers busy in August. Here’s a round-up of some of the other plays and musicals I’ve seen recently that are worth a look. Get booking if any tickle your fancy – all are limited seasons finishing in the […]

  • London's many festivals this August
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    Is London the real festival city in August? InMotion & other capital offerings

Is London the real festival city in August? InMotion & other capital offerings

I’m in the slightly odd position this month of working on an Edinburgh show while not being in Edinburgh at all. (Mind you, I have seen the show, in China in May, so can knowledgeably recommend it – so, if you’re in Edinburgh, by all means, do! It’s China Goes Pop!, a great East […]

From Page to Stage Q&A podcast and photos: How is the international scene changing for new musicals?

Two years ago, I chaired the opening night discussion at the third annual From Page to Stage festival of new musicals founded by Aria Entertainment’s Katy Lipson. The central question on that occasion was “are we doing enough to nurture new musicals?” And the central answer was no. Amongst the suggestions made by the audience […]

  • Sheila Atim & Shirley Henderson in Girl from the North Country; Ilan Galkoff and The Diary of Adrian Mole cast
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    Musicals diary: Spoonful of Sherman, Adrian Mole, Girl from the North Country

Musicals diary: Spoonful of Sherman, Adrian Mole, Girl from the North Country

Most of nights last week was devoted to just one play, Preethi Nair’s Sari: The Whole Five Yards, which I’m trying to help find a future life. But I have managed a few memorable evenings over the past fortnight that I can also recommend: Bob Dylan-inspired Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic, […]

  • Clockwise from top: Around the World in 80 Days, Flood and The Wasp.
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    My plays diary: Sari, Around the World in 80 Days, The Wasp, Flood

My plays diary: Sari, Around the World in 80 Days, The Wasp, Flood

My plays diary this week isn’t terribly varied. I’m spending most nights at the Tristan Bates Theatre, all in aid of one production: Preethi Nair’s Sari: The Whole Five Yards. That said, I’ll be lucky if I say the play once – demand for tickets is so high that I can’t get in any night […]

  • Dan Crawford features on the wall at the King's Head. © Jonny Fielding
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    Would founder Dan Crawford approve of the King’s Head’s big move?

Would founder Dan Crawford approve of the King’s Head’s big move?

The King’s Head Theatre attracted widespread coverage this week for its announcement that it is moving out of the King’s Head pub on Upper Street in Islington, north London, its home for the past 47 years, and into a purpose-built, two-auditoria space in the new £400million Islington Square complex.

We covered the announcement – including […]

Counting Sheep and top-notch bloggers

I’ve had issues with sleep – or rather lack of sleep – since I was a teenager. I won’t be an insomnia bore and tell you ALL of the so-called remedies I’ve tried over the years, including several sessions with a private, and very expensive, sleep therapist.

(Touch wood, the problem isn’t so bad at […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: Is Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic?

Q&A podcast and photos: Is Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic?

Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic? Particularly with its treatment of spirited Kate, the Shrew of the title, who is starved and mentally tormented (gaslighting long before Patrick Hamilton, Ingrid Bergman or Donald Trump: “I say it is the moon [not the sun] that shines so bright”) into the role of […]

  • Director Anthony Biggs, stars Sandra Dickinson & Matthew Scott & author Lee Tannen with me at the I Loved Lucy Q&A
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    Q&A podcast and photos: What would Lucille Ball think of I Loved Lucy?

Q&A podcast and photos: What would Lucille Ball think of I Loved Lucy?

It’s always a real privilege to have the playwright involved when you’re chairing a post-show Q&A. But when the play is also based on the playwright’s own best-selling memoir… When the memoir recounts his relationship with a legend like Lucille Ball… Well, that’s extra special.

Add to the presence of I Loved Lucy author Lee Tannen the show’s […]

  • Kong & the audience were impressed by Sam Donnelly's nose flute skills. Was Brendan Murphy?
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    Q&A photos and video: Monkeying around with nose flutes at King Kong

Q&A photos and video: Monkeying around with nose flutes at King Kong

Before I attended King Kong, Daniel Clarkson’s bonkers stage parody of the 1933 film classic, last week at The Vaults, I never knew there was such a thing as a nose flute.

Now I will never forget! A diva nose flautist is one of the hundreds (?) of characters portrayed by King Kong’s multi-roling cast of […]

  • Discussing the creation of new British musical Superhero at post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse. © Anthony Kelly
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    Q&A podcast and photos: How new British one-man musical Superhero took flight

Q&A podcast and photos: How new British one-man musical Superhero took flight

How many creatives does it take to make a one-man musical? The answer can be “quite a few”. And that it is in the case of SUPERHERO, the British one-man – or rather “one-dad” – musical now receiving its world premiere at London’s Southwark Playhouse.

At a post-show Q&A I chaired after last night’s performance, I was joined […]

  • My theatre diary w/c Sunday 25 June 2017: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Hamlet, The Quentin Dentin Show, West End Live
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    My theatre diary: West End Live, Lady Day, Hamlet and Quentin Dentin

My theatre diary: West End Live, Lady Day, Hamlet and Quentin Dentin

My theatre week last week started and ended with musicals.

My partner Peter and I rushed back from our – rather too work-filled – fortnight in Mallorca just in time for West End Live. It’s incredible how much this free, two-day event has grown in its 13-year history. Having started out with a handful of […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: The latest in Rotterdam‘s extraordinary trans journey

Q&A podcast and photos: The latest in Rotterdam‘s extraordinary trans journey

Just 11 months after I chaired my first post-show talk for Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam – then at Trafalgar Studios for its West End premiere – and so much has changed. The play went on to win an Olivier Award and transfer to New York before now returning for its second West End run, this […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: Talking prison lessons with Held‘s writer, director and stars

Q&A podcast and photos: Talking prison lessons with Held‘s writer, director and stars

What’s the most important lesson in a prison ‘education’? HELD is a hard-hitting new British prison drama exploring the broken lives of five inmates, including two young offenders (both played by Jack Brett Anderson) incarcerated for the first time and learning fast that there’s a price to pay for everything…

Originally two interlinked one-act plays, […]

  • Jeffrey Holland with Corinna Marlowe in Waiting for God. © Geraint Lewis
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    My Waiting for God interview series: Leading man Jeffrey Holland

My Waiting for God interview series: Leading man Jeffrey Holland

I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.

Jeffrey Holland stars in the new stage […]

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    Q&A podcast and photos: Lessons in kindness and comedy on Fried Meat Ridge Rd.

Q&A podcast and photos: Lessons in kindness and comedy on Fried Meat Ridge Rd.

I had a hunch that this would be an especially amusing post-show Q&A and the company and audience of American hillbilly comedy Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd., now transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 2 for a limited season, did not disappoint.

After a sell-out performance last night, I was joined by […]

  • Nichola McAuliffe in Waiting for God. © Geraint Lewis
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    My Waiting for God interview series: Leading lady Nichola McAuliffe

My Waiting for God interview series: Leading lady Nichola McAuliffe

I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.

Nichola McAuliffe stars in the new stage […]

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    My Waiting for God interview series: Writer and creator Michael Aitkens

My Waiting for God interview series: Writer and creator Michael Aitkens

I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.

Michael Aitkens conceived and created the […]

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    Q&A photos and podcast: Swinging Sixties-style with new musical Pete ‘n’ Keely

Q&A photos and podcast: Swinging Sixties-style with new musical Pete ‘n’ Keely

A string of hits, a cast of two, ‘Forever Plaid’ meets ‘I Do, I Do’. James Hindman’s 2000 Off-Broadway musical two-hander Pete ‘n’ Keely gets its European premiere at Tristan Bates Theatre, where it’s now runs to 20 May 2017. The production, directed by Matthew Gould, stars David Bardsley and Katie Kerr as the […]

  • Sophia Carr-Gomm, Natalie Simpson & assistant director Leigh Toney at The Cardinal Q&A, 2 May 2017.
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    Q&A photos and podcast: Why has James Shirley’s The Cardinal been overlooked since the 17th century?

Q&A photos and podcast: Why has James Shirley’s The Cardinal been overlooked since the 17th century?

James Shirley’s 1641 tragic masterpiece THE CARDINAL, one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre, this month receives its first major production since the 17th century. This critically lauded rediscovery is directed by Justin Audibert for Troupe Theatre in a limited season now running at London’s Southwark Playhouse […]

  • Clockwise from top: Guards at the Taj, Sea Fret, Junkyard and Waiting for God.
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    My theatre diary: Guards at the Taj, Junkyard, Waiting for God and Sea Fret

My theatre diary: Guards at the Taj, Junkyard, Waiting for God and Sea Fret

Here’s a round-up of productions I’ve seen it recent weeks which I haven’t already covered in Press Passes (do please dance your way as soon as you can into seeing both An American in Paris and 42nd Street in the West End) or other blogs. What do all four of these have in common? […]

  • David Baddiel uses Twitter to guide his storytelling in My Family: Not the Sitcom at the Playhouse
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    Inspired by David Baddiel: My top ten most highly trolled tweets

Inspired by David Baddiel: My top ten most highly trolled tweets

As a Twitter geek, one of the things I enjoyed most about David Baddiel’s latest one-man show My Family: Not the Sitcom, which is now enjoying its second West End run at the Playhouse Theatre after premiering last year at the Menier Chocolate Factory, is how he so successfully employs social media in his […]

  • The Life at Southwark Playhouse until 29 April 2017
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    What if The Life characters met their peers in Guys & Dolls & 42nd Street?

What if The Life characters met their peers in Guys & Dolls & 42nd Street?

One little postcode in New York City has been attracting a lot of stage real estate in London in recent years: the blocks around Times Square. The area is, of course, well known to theatre lovers around the globe as Broadway – both the physical street and the wider showbiz environment it encapsulates – […]

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    Photos, video & podcast: Creating a musical out of wartime prejudice in Miss Nightingale

Photos, video & podcast: Creating a musical out of wartime prejudice in Miss Nightingale

What a great way to get the Bank Holiday weekend off with a swing. Last night, I hosted a post-show Q&A at MISS NIGHTINGALE. This original British musical is now in its sixth iteration – musicals, as Sondheim says, aren’t written but re-written – since starting life as a short piece in Ipswich and […]

  • Carousel at the London Coliseum
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Alfie Boe & Katherine Jenkins in Carousel

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Alfie Boe & Katherine Jenkins in Carousel

After successes with Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd, English National Opera continues its annual headline-grabbing foray into musical theatre with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel.

As with the previous ENO musicals of the past two years, this production is produced by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade (who are also behind the current big-budget production of another Broadway classic, […]

  • The cast of 42nd Street. © Brinkhoff & Mogenburg
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about 42nd Street (and Kate Middleton!)

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about 42nd Street (and Kate Middleton!)

The second massive New York import in less than a month, 42nd Street brought its lullaby of Broadway to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night. In addition to their transatlantic journeys, An American in Paris and 42nd Street are both dance-based shows – with big budgets (£8 million is the word on the latter), huge casts […]

  • Joanna Riding in The Girls; Dominic Rowan and Tracy-Ann Oberman in Stepping Out
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    Bra-waving, toe-tapping and female solidarity: The Girls and Stepping Out

Bra-waving, toe-tapping and female solidarity: The Girls and Stepping Out

If you’re seeking life affirmation, celebrations of female solidarity (of a quintessentially British variety) and general uplift, my two current West End recommendations that tick all three boxes are The Girls, Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s new musical adaptation of the story of the Calendar Girls from Yorkshire, and Maria Friedman’s revival of Richard […]

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    Q&A photos and podcast: A return to Brechtian politics via The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Q&A photos and podcast: A return to Brechtian politics via The Caucasian Chalk Circle

What would Bertolt Brecht have made of Donald Trump? Brecht’s “epic theatre” was sparked by the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Many pundits have likened the political period we’ve now entered – with Trump in the Oval Office, Brexit under way and hard-right populism on the rise across Europe – with that dark […]

  • Doubling up with Stoppard: Joshua McGuire & Daniel Radcliffe in R&G, Freddie Fox & Tom Hollander in Travesties
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    Take two: Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Travesties, plus future fantasy casting

Take two: Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Travesties, plus future fantasy casting

I’m pleased that the Old Vic has added a week to the run of its 50th anniversary production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, now booking until 6 May – it gives me another chance to tell you to go see it.

There’s a special thrill seeing Stoppard’s breakthrough play back on the same […]

  • An American in Paris has burst onto the West End stage
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about An American in Paris

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about An American in Paris

Here’s what London is crying out for: an escape to Paris. And not the Paris of Marine Le Pen or any other modern foes and woes, but the sumptuous Hollywood Golden Age version now bursting into technicolour life onstage at the West End’s Dominion Theatre via New York and, yes, appropriately, Paris.

It’s a slew […]

Off-West End musicals diary: The Sorrows of Satan and The Wild Party

Not long left to see two Off-West End musicals I can recommend: The Wild Party at The Other Palace and The Sorrows of Satan at Tristan Bates Theatre.

The Wild Party has, of course, created waves not least for being the inaugural production of The Other Palace, the St James Theatre as was, given a quick […]

  • Paul Chahidi, Roger Allam, Shirley Williams and Tom Goodman-Hill play the "Gang of Four" in Limehouse. © Jack Sain
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    Limehouse asks both ‘what if?’ and ‘why not now?’ Urgent questions

Limehouse asks both ‘what if?’ and ‘why not now?’ Urgent questions

Steve Waters’ Limehouse is as much a rallying call as a play: a rallying call for those of us left politically homeless by Jeremy Corbyn’s failed Labour Party.

It takes its name from the east London district where the “Gang of Four” – then-Labour politicians Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and David Owen (played respectively […]

  • My Country; a work in progress
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    The ‘will of the people’? London has no place in My Country

The ‘will of the people’? London has no place in My Country

I’ve never voted Conserative. Indeed, the morning after the 2015 General Election, I was so horrified that, after five years of austerity, the Tories had not only got back in but had done so with a majority, that I immediately joined the Labour Party and vowed to get the Tories out at the next election. […]

  • Clockwise: In Other Words, Diary of a Teenaged Girl and La Ronde
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    My theatre diary: Off-West End plays Diary of a Teenage Girl, In Other Words and La Ronde

My theatre diary: Off-West End plays Diary of a Teenage Girl, In Other Words and La Ronde

Two Off-West End plays have recently inspired my other half Peter Jones to compile Spotify playlists of his youth – terribly convenient as I’ve tasked him with providing background music for a milestone birthday party this weekend (shhh… he’s celebrating the big 5-0).

In Matthew Seager’s debut play In Other Words, at the Hope Theatre, music […]

  • Lizzie post-show Q&A at Greenwich Theatre, 23 February 2017
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    Lizzie Q&A podcast and photos: Why axe murderer Lizzie Borden is a feminist icon

Lizzie Q&A podcast and photos: Why axe murderer Lizzie Borden is a feminist icon

The American gothic rock musical LIZZIE, which is now receiving its UK premiere in a limited season at London’s Greenwich Theatre, opens and closes with a nursery rhyme I memorised in my own American youth about the real-life 19th century crime:
“Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she […]

  • The cast of The Girls includes Joanna Riding, James Gaddas, Claire Moore, Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann and Debbie Chazen
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Gary Barlow & The Girls

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Gary Barlow & The Girls

In his review this morning, Michael Billington has – to borrow a phrase from Meat Loaf – taken the words right out of mouth. At last night’s West End premiere of The Girls, I was telling anyone within listening distance that, after already remarkable success as a film and a stage play (both also […]

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    Where were you on 9/11? How about 7/7? BU21 brought it all back

Where were you on 9/11? How about 7/7? BU21 brought it all back

What were you doing on 9/11? And, if you were in London, on 7/7? I thought about this recently when watching Stuart Slade’s excellent new play BU21, which this weekend completes its West End run at Trafalgar Studios 2 after last year’s premiere at Theatre503.

The play centres on a group of Londoners who were […]

  • Zoe Doano in Death Takes a Holiday. © Scott Rylander
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    Musicals diary: Death Takes a Holiday, Promises and Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Musicals diary: Death Takes a Holiday, Promises and Sorcerer’s Apprentice

A few thoughts on musical productions I’ve seen recently, with my on-the-night tweet thoughts further below.
Promises, Promises
Less than a week left to see this rarely seen Broadway musical – the first London production, in fact, since its 1969 West End premiere. I have fond memories of the Oscar-winning 1960 film The Apartment, which starred […]

  • Women's March London, 21 January 2017. © Peter Jones
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    Tanya Moodie on Trump: ‘We need to keep marching together, every day’

Tanya Moodie on Trump: ‘We need to keep marching together, every day’

This week the president of the United States Donald Trump said (or rather tweeted) that those who participated in protests against his administration fell into one of three categories: “professional anarchists, thugs or paid protestors”.

His White House Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated the last in a television interview, insisting that protestors are definitely paid, that protest has […]

  • Me and Mark Shenton in the middle with some of our amazing Awards volunteers: James Lawrence, Claire Ackling, Tina Foote and critic Kate Maltby
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    Behind-the-scenes: My Critics’ Circle Awards experience and Glenda Jackson crush

Behind-the-scenes: My Critics’ Circle Awards experience and Glenda Jackson crush

A year ago when blogging about the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, my headline was “Critics’ Circle Award winners: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?”

I didn’t know then that Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chair Mark Shenton would go on to ask me to produce these awards, nor that, in a moment […]

Top Trumps podcast: What can we do next as progressives?

The best antidote to hopelessness has got to be action. That’s what I have kept reminding myself over the past few months, and what I recited almost mantra-like on Friday afternoon as I watched Donald J Trump be sworn in as the 45th US president and then deliver a dystopian, divisive inaugural speech that painted the rest of […]

The power of the poetry in The Wild Party onstage

Stage shows based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem The Wild Party are like buses. Ahead of next month’s much-anticipated UK premiere of the Michael John LaChiusa’s musical version, directed by Drew McOnie and starring Frances Ruffelle at the re-branded Other Palace (currently the St James Theatre), comes this month’s two-hander performance care […]

  • Critics' Theatre 2016 highlights included: Harry Potter, Groundhog Day, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Yerma, King Lear, the all-female Shakespeare Trilogy and Iphigenia in Splott.
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    The list of lists: Was there a consensus on the best of #theatre2016?

The list of lists: Was there a consensus on the best of #theatre2016?

Last week I was more on schedule with rounding up lists of critics’ tips for the best theatre coming up this year. But in truth, as I’ve been organising the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards ceremony on 31 January, as well as working with My Theatre Mates’ to announce the Also Recognised shortlists soon after that, […]

The list of lists: The best theatre coming up in 2017

What are the hottest shows coming up this year? Based on the ones that are most likely to appear on top picks’ lists in my round-up of commentators’ round-ups, they are:

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Trump-tweeted hit Hamilton;
Ivo van Hove’s production of Obsession, starring Jude Law at the Barbican;
the New York transfer of The Glass Menagerie, directed by Harry […]

My top #theatre2016 plays, musicals & performances

Ahead of rounding up various publications #theatre2016 highlights, I’m taking a moment to reflect on my own theatregoing year and my favourite plays, musicals, performances and other events.

My lists are not in the least bit definitive: they represent only my personal opinions on the shows I’ve managed to see. There are two shows not […]

  • Coming up at the National in 2017: My Country, Ugly Lies the Bones, Twelfth Night and Angels in America.
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    How much have I been missing the National Theatre? 5 NT shows for 2017

How much have I been missing the National Theatre? 5 NT shows for 2017

The National Theatre used to be one of my favourite theatregoing destinations, but I’ve only been a handful of times in recent years. This hasn’t been an intentional omission on my part. When I left WhatsOnStage, I dropped off the NT’s opening night list (which is understandable), and with other commitments and financial restraints […]

  • LUV cast Nick Barber, Elsie Bennett and Charles Dorfman at the post-show Q&A
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    Q&A photos and podcast: What’s most absurd about Murray Schisgal’s LUV?

Q&A photos and podcast: What’s most absurd about Murray Schisgal’s LUV?

What’s most absurd about absurdist comedy LUV? That it’s virtually unknown in this country – despite an incredible pedigree.

Long before he wrote the screenplay for the hit 1982 film Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman, American Murray Schisgal made a name for himself in New York with this 1964 stage play, which is a riotous celebration of the […]

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    Press pass: Everything you need to know about Amber Riley in Dreamgirls

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Amber Riley in Dreamgirls

It’s taken 35 years, but Broadway hit Dreamgirls, inspired by the story of The Supremes, finally received its West End premiere last night (14 December) at the Savoy Theatre. Was it worth the wait? Based on most overnight reviews, the answer is a – very very loud (possibly over-amplified) – YES!

And as for Glee […]

Musicals (in SE1 1RU) diary: She Loves Me and Muted

I have become even more spoilt for choice for theatre on my doorstep with the arrival of my SE1 neighborhood’s newest venue, The Bunker. This subterranean black box is so close to another one of my locals – the Menier Chocolate Factory – that it shares the same full postcode; it’s converted from an […]

  • Rachael Wooding and George Maguire in Another Night Before Christmas; Naomi Todd and Colette Eaton in Her Aching Heart
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    My musicals diary: Her Aching Heart and Another Night Before Christmas

My musicals diary: Her Aching Heart and Another Night Before Christmas

I saw two two-hander musical gems this past weekend: Her Aching Heart at the Hope Theatre in Islington and, on the opposite side of town, Another Night Before Christmas at the Bridge House Theatre in Penge. Though they’re on different ends of London’s north-south axis, these two lovely pub theatres have a lot in common, […]

  • Ed Harris, Jeremy Irvine, Charlotte Hope & Barnaby Kay Ed Harris & Jeremy Irvine in Buried Child at London's Trafalgar Studios
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    6 Quotes: What can Buried Child tell us about Trump’s America?

6 Quotes: What can Buried Child tell us about Trump’s America?

What does Sam Shepard’s 1978 play Buried Child have to tell us about America after the presidential election of Donald Trump? The West End transfer of the New Group’s production, first seen in New York this past February, was announced in September, when the likelihood of a Trump presidency was still being dismissed by […]

  • The ensemble perform Elevator Song from WIGMAKER. New Songs 4 New Shows at the Lyric Theatre, 28 November 2016. © Scott Rylander
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    New Songs 4 New Shows: Douglas Hodge is one to watch (not just for his acting)

New Songs 4 New Shows: Douglas Hodge is one to watch (not just for his acting)

A new musical – especially one not based on a film and/or arrived from Broadway trailing Tony Awards – is always a risky proposition. One received way of establishing a level of recognition and excitement for a piece before it opens is to “get the music out there” first.

Technologically speaking, getting the music out […]

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    Q&A photos and podcast: Feeling the rage with Donny Stixx‘s Philip Ridley

Q&A photos and podcast: Feeling the rage with Donny Stixx‘s Philip Ridley

What a treat to pay my first visit to London’s newest venue – The Bunker, carved out of a carpark beneath the Menier Chocolate Factory – to host this post-show Q&A for Tonight with Donny Stixx.

I’m a little in awe of playwright Philip Ridley, whose myriad plays over the years have, in addition to Tonight […]

  • Lazarus AD Ricky Dukes, Sara Reimers and Michael Peavoy at The Beggar's Opera Q&A. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Nearly 300 years on, why does The Beggar’s Opera still resonate?

Photos and podcast: Nearly 300 years on, why does The Beggar’s Opera still resonate?

There’s something in the water with The Beggar’s Opera at the moment. Lazarus Theatre’s new, modern-dress, 80-minute version at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre is the third major London presentation of the story of womanising highwayman Macheath this year.

Dougal Irvine’s musical The Buskers Opera, set in post-Olympics London with a Boris Johnson-like mayor (premiered on the day […]

  • David Fynn and the West End cast of School of Rock. © Tristram Kenton
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    Press Pass: Everything you need to know about School of Rock The Musical

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about School of Rock The Musical

Here’s everything you need to know about last night’s West End premiere of School of Rock: The Musical in a nutshell: Andrew Lloyd Webber has a monster hit on his hands; the show is both a return to hit factory form for the Lord and also not at all what you’d expect from a Lord; […]

  • Don't stop being outraged by 'The Donald'
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    What fair-minded people need to know about… Trump’s America

What fair-minded people need to know about… Trump’s America

In the days before this year’s US presidential election, Donald Trump predicted that the result would be “Brexit-plus-plus-plus”.  For me personally, “Brexit-plus-plus-plus” is a fair description of my personal reaction to the news: as an American who has lived in London most of her adult life, someone who has dual nationality, someone who campaigned hard in […]

  • Deny, Deny, Deny and Saving Jason are both running at London's Park Theatre until 3 December 2016.
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    Overdosing at the Park Theatre: Deny, Deny, Deny & Saving Jason

Overdosing at the Park Theatre: Deny, Deny, Deny & Saving Jason

Everyone’s on drugs at the Park Theatre, I tweeted last Monday night. For a theatre that consistently impresses with the diversity of its received productions, it’s interesting that it should be hosting premieres in both of its houses, opened within days of each other, that both concern drug abuse. Admittedly, abuse of a very […]

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    10 couples over 16 years: Looking back on The Last Five Years in photos

10 couples over 16 years: Looking back on The Last Five Years in photos

Update: Since first tweeting this morning, the response to this piece has been fantastic, and I’ve been alerted to more pairings. I’ve added one into the main list (taking my original 9 to 10) and am trying to include all others in the tweet list below as they come in. Tweet me @TerriPaddock if […]

Quirky musicals on my doorstep: Side Show and Moby Dick

The (new) Union Theatre and Southwark Playhouse are always a pleasure to visit – not least because both venues are practically on my doorstep, within a ten-minute walk. At the moment, they’re both showing quirky, seldom-seen musical revivals.
Moby Dick!

I lost track of the number of times that people told me Moby Dick! is “bonkers” on […]

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    Exit, pursued by a bear: How we reacted to Emma Rice’s Globe departure

Exit, pursued by a bear: How we reacted to Emma Rice’s Globe departure

My first gut response to yesterday’s news that Emma Rice was leaving Shakespeare’s Globe, announced after less than a year – and only one summer season in post – was simply “Oh my God!”. In my years of commenting on theatre, I have never been as shocked by the news of someone’s leaving a job […]

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    Photos and podcast: Sharing joy with debut playwright Theresa Ikoko and her Girls

Photos and podcast: Sharing joy with debut playwright Theresa Ikoko and her Girls

What an astonishing way to make your playwriting debut. Theresa Ikoko’s first full-length play GIRLS was a Verity Bargate finalist and winner of both the Alfred Fagon Award (for Black British playwrights) and the George Devine Award (for new writers). The premiere production – co-produced by Talawa Theatre, HighTide Festival and Soho Theatre and directed by […]

  • Berkoff double bill stars Shaun Dooley and Emily Bruni with director Nigel Harman at post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Brush up your Berkoff with Nigel Harman and co

Photos and podcast: Brush up your Berkoff with Nigel Harman and co

Two rarely seen short plays by Steven Berkoff are professionally performed together for the first time in this much-anticipated West End premiere. LUNCH and, written 20 years later, its sequel THE BOW OF ULYSSES are both set at the seaside where a couple first passionately collide and, decades later, sit reflecting on their wasted […]

  • Amanda Muggleton in The Book Club at London's King's Head Theatre
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    Photos and podcast: One-to-one with The Book Club‘s Amanda Muggleton

Photos and podcast: One-to-one with The Book Club‘s Amanda Muggleton

If you have to work on your birthday, this is just the kind of work you want. After watching the wonderful Amanda Muggleton rip through her 90-minute one-woman comedy The Book Club on Friday night, I joined her one-on-one on the onstage sofa for more hilarity.

In The Book Club, Amanda plays suburban housewife Deb, whose […]

  • Emma Hatton interviewed by Terri Paddock at Crazy Coqs, 13 October 2016
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    Photos and podcast: Coq-tales with Emma Hatton and Anna-Jane Casey

Photos and podcast: Coq-tales with Emma Hatton and Anna-Jane Casey

I’m delighted to be able to deputise for my friend and My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton for two dates of his weekly West End chat show in October. Coq-Tales and Conversations takes place each Thursday or Friday afternoon as part of the Live at Zedel season, programmed by renowned American composer Scott Alan, […]

Press Pass: Everything you need to know about Murder Ballad

As a vehicle for the combined – and considerable talents – of Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Norman Bowman, Murder Ballad is made to order.

In this sung-through rock musical, Hamilton-Barritt plays the jaded narrator (and some key ancillary characters) to the story of Ellis’ New Yorker Sara caught between her muscly and menacing ex-boyfriend […]

  • The Boys in the Band cast members Greg Lockett, John Hopkins, Ben Mansfield & Mark Gatiss reacting to another gem from playwright Mart Crowley
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    Photos and podcast: Mart Crowley and The Boys in the Band cast on making history

Photos and podcast: Mart Crowley and The Boys in the Band cast on making history

UPDATED: The Boys in the Band transfers to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre for a strictly limited season from 7 to 18 February 2017. Buy tickets here.

Mart Crowley’s seminal play, The Boys in the Band, premiered in New York in 1968, just 14 months before the Stonewall riots that ignited the gay rights movement. […]

  • Ophelia Lovibond and Dominic Cooper in The Libertine. © Alastair Muir
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    Press pass: Everything you need to know about Dominic Cooper in The Libertine

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Dominic Cooper in The Libertine

I experienced frequent flashbacks while watching The Libertine last night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Here’s another Restoration-set comedy to hit the West End in which much of the action (and myriad in-jokes) takes place in and around a London theatre. The Libertine even shares characters with Jessica Swales’ Nell Gwynn (though Nell herself is only referred to) […]

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    Photos and podcast: Climbing metaphorical mountains with Pilgrims playwright Elinor Cook

Photos and podcast: Climbing metaphorical mountains with Pilgrims playwright Elinor Cook

Critic Matt Trueman described Elinor Cook’s Pilgrims, about a pair of young mountain climbers, as the “peak of playwriting”. I got to talk mountain climbing, metaphors and much more with this whipsmart George Devine Award-winning playwright at last night’s Q&A after the performance of Pilgrims at London’s Yard Theatre.

For the Q&A, we were also joined by […]

Unfaithful: 11 quotes for would-be cheaters

Are you in a happy relationship? An unhappy one? Or just a normal one with standard-fare ups and downs? Ever thought about cheating on your partner?

Owen McCafferty’s play Unfaithful, now in its London premiere run at Found111 in Charing Cross Road, could either be viewed as either a cautionary tale or a call to […]

Podcast: Showcasing Caro Emerald and new musical That Man

That Man musical had two performances only at London’s Hippodrome Casino yesterday (20 September 2016) and, after the first one, I chaired a post-show discussion in front of an audience of industry guests to talk about the show’s journey to date and where it might go from here.

Yesterday’s presentation – though cast to the […]

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    Press Pass: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Man’s Land ‘masterclass’

Press Pass: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Man’s Land ‘masterclass’

After a run in New York and a short UK regional tour, Sean Mathias’ much-anticipated production of Harold Pinter’s 1975 play No Man’s Land officially opened in the West End last night (20 September 2016).

The production reunites Mathias with his two leading men, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, who starred in his award-winning 2009 […]

Quote Unquote: 11 different takes on actors & acting

Is it pure coincidence that many of the plays I’ve seen recently feature actors as characters? And, consequently, a range of views on the life of actors and the nature of acting, which got my quote-taking pen twitching. For any actors or FFOAs (friends or family of actors) reading, please tell me which most closely […]

  • Ralph Pezzullo & Stephen Fife. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Discussing the ‘war on terror’ at The American Wife Q&A

Photos and podcast: Discussing the ‘war on terror’ at The American Wife Q&A

What if everything you’re ever known was thrown into question? And everything you ever trusted was subjected to doubt? When San Diego housewife Karen Ruiz’s husband is accused of being a terrorist, she endeavours to clear his name. Can she maintain her faith in her husband, her marriage and her government? Or will she […]

  • HighTide 2016: Face to Face with Alexi Kaye Campbell, Elizabeth McGovern & Ben Miles, chaired by Terri Paddock. © Peter Jones
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    #HighTide2016 photos and podcast: Alexi Kaye Campbell, Elizabeth McGovern and Ben Miles

#HighTide2016 photos and podcast: Alexi Kaye Campbell, Elizabeth McGovern and Ben Miles

I made my HighTide Festival debut this weekend and what a privilege. Over the course of the weekend at this ten-day annual event, held in the beautiful Suffolk coast town of Aldeburgh and now marking its tenth anniversary, I had the privilege of chairing three hour-long “Face to Face” talks with world-class artists.

In this […]

  • Terri with director Oli Rose, writer Zoe Lewis, Wilton's Holly Kendrick and Sadie Frost
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    Photos and podcast: Post-show Q&A with Britten in Brooklyn‘s writer, director and star Sadie Frost

Photos and podcast: Post-show Q&A with Britten in Brooklyn‘s writer, director and star Sadie Frost

A New York artistic commune in the early 1940s – occupied by British exiles Benjamin Britten, WH Auden, American novelist Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter) and stripper Gypsy Rose Lee amongst many other artists – is the setting for Zoe Lewis’ new play Britten in Brooklyn, which has just premiered at […]

  • Starting out as cheerleaders: Lauren Samuels, Ashleigh Gray and Lizzy Connolly in Vanities at Trafalgar Studios. © Pamela Raith
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    Cheerleaders get a bad rap: Vanities and four other musicals with pep

Cheerleaders get a bad rap: Vanities and four other musicals with pep

Starting out as cheerleaders: Lauren Samuels, Ashleigh Gray and Lizzy Connolly in Vanities at Trafalgar Studios. © Pamela Raith

Cheerleaders generally get a bad rap. When I went back to the States for my twenty-year high school reunion a few years ago, I witnessed first hand just how bad that rap can be.

There was a […]

  • Clockwise from top: Groundhog Day, Children of Eden and Allegro.
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    My musicals (and market) diary: Groundhog Day, Allegro, Children of Eden

My musicals (and market) diary: Groundhog Day, Allegro, Children of Eden

This instalment of my theatregoing recommendations could be called not just my musicals diary but my musicals-on-my-doorstep diary. All three shows – Children of Eden, Allegro and Groundhog Day – are playing at what I consider neighbourhood theatres, within five to ten minutes’ walk of my front door: Southwark Playhouse (more like two minutes), […]

  • Waiting for Waiting for Godot cast James Marlowe, Laura Kirman and Simon Day at the post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Post-show Q&A at the European premiere of NYC hit Waiting for Waiting for Godot

Photos and podcast: Post-show Q&A at the European premiere of NYC hit Waiting for Waiting for Godot

Two hapless understudies on a production of Waiting for Godot occupy their time backstage, trying to understand art, life, theatre and their precarious existence within it. Dave Hanson’s hit New York comedy Waiting for Waiting for Godot receives its European premiere at London’s St James Theatre and, just before he flew back to New […]

  • The Lazarus Theatre panel debate: Ricky Dukes, Sonia Massai, Edith Hall and Timothy Sheader, chaired by Terri Paddock. All Q&A photos © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Breaking taboos at Lazarus Tis Pity debate

Photos and podcast: Breaking taboos at Lazarus Tis Pity debate

Are there any stage taboos left? John Ford’s 17th-century romantic thriller ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE, centring on an incestuous relationship between brother and sister Giovanni and Annabella, is one of the most controversial in the classical canon and was not performed in the UK for more than 200 years until the mid-twentieth century. Does […]

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    ‘Laughter through tears’: 25 quotes heard in Steel Magnolias‘ salon

‘Laughter through tears’: 25 quotes heard in Steel Magnolias‘ salon

If the line “Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion” makes you nod your head, then you must see the play from which it comes: Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias, now revived at the Hope Theatre. If you’ve already seen the 1989 film of the same name, which was released two years after the stage […]

  • Andy Karl stars as Phil Connors in endless repeats of Groundhog Day at the Old Vic
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    Press pass: First Groundhog Day reviews + Tim Minchin interviews & features

Press pass: First Groundhog Day reviews + Tim Minchin interviews & features

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Could the dream team behind multi award-winning, all-over-the-globe hit Matilda – director Matthew Warchus, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell – possibly strike gold again with their very next musical? Judging by reactions of the first batch of reviews for Groundhog Day, the answer is a resounding […]

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    My musicals diary: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Go-Between, The Fix

My musicals diary: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Go-Between, The Fix

July was a big month for Q&As for me so I’ve been a little pre-occupied by follow-up blogs on those. But in addition to musicals I’ve hosted events at – I’m Getting My Act Together and Through the Mill, both of which have now completed their strictly limited runs at, respectively, Jermyn Street Theatre […]

  • Rotterdam post-show Q&A. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Getting to grips with gender issues at Rotterdam Q&A

Photos and podcast: Getting to grips with gender issues at Rotterdam Q&A

What a treat it was to not only see Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam again last night, but to be able to question this hugely talented young writer about his bittersweet comedy, which ranked amongst my Top Ten new plays of last year.
The play – set in the titular Dutch city, where Jon once spent months (unhappily) working in a call […]

  • Scenes from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. © Manuel Harlan
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    Press Pass: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child earns global raves, breaks more records

Press Pass: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child earns global raves, breaks more records

Ahead of the double-show gala day at the West End’s Palace Theatre this Saturday, a galaxy of stars have already turned out for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And I’m not just talking about Emma Watson and other celebrities who have sneaked in during seven weeks of previews.

(The Cursed Child started performances in […]

  • The cast of Some Girl(s) with director Gary Condes at post-show Q&A, chaired by Terri Paddock at Park Theatre
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    Photos and podcast: Men, misogyny and Neil LaBute at Some Girl(s) Q&A

Photos and podcast: Men, misogyny and Neil LaBute at Some Girl(s) Q&A

I first – and last – saw Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s) in its world premiere in the West End in 2005, in a production that starred Friends’ David Schwimmer along with “girls” including Catherine Tate and Lesley Manville. In this first major London revival, Charles Dorfman takes on the pivotal role of a writer (never addressed […]

  • The Trial of Jane Fonda post-show Q&A on 19 July 2016. All event photos © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: Jane Fonda and war on trial with Anne Archer and co

Photos and podcast: Jane Fonda and war on trial with Anne Archer and co

What does The Trial of Jane Fonda, concerning the actor-activist’s controversial protests during the Vietnam War (in which the UK did not support our US allies), have to tell us about more recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq (in which we did)? Particularly in the wake of the Chilcot Report? (And was the timing of […]

  • Through The Mill Q&A. © Anthony Kelly
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    Photos and podcast: Going Through the Q&A Mill with three Judy Garlands

Photos and podcast: Going Through the Q&A Mill with three Judy Garlands

I first saw – and adored – Through the Mill when it premiered at the London Theatre Workshop (then above a pub in Fulham) last year. I was delighted when the show, which revolves around three pivotal periods in the life of Judy Garland, announced its transfer to the – much larger, more centrally […]

  • Landi Oshinowo, Nicholas Colicos and Rosanna Hyland at I'm Getting My At Together's post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: I’m Getting My Act Together with Landi Oshinowo and co

Photos and podcast: I’m Getting My Act Together with Landi Oshinowo and co

Last seen in London in 1981, when its premiere production ran at the West End’s Apollo Theatre after success Off-Broadway, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road has returned 35 years on for a limited season at Jermyn Street Theatre, where Landi Oshinowo takes on the role of pop star […]

  • Claudio Macor and Peter Tatchell at Savage post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Peter Tatchell and the real-life Nazi war crimes behind Savage

Photos and podcast: Peter Tatchell and the real-life Nazi war crimes behind Savage

Most theatregoers will have only learned about Carl Peter Værnet from watching Claudio Macor’s new play Savage, now running upstairs at the Arts Theatre. But the Nazi doctor from Denmark has played a large role in the life of LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell for decades.

It was in the late 1980s that Tatchell first learned of Værnet, […]

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    Plays for my #Brexit & #Chilcot mood: The Truth & Faith Healer

Plays for my #Brexit & #Chilcot mood: The Truth & Faith Healer

Has anyone else had difficulty getting back into their theatregoing after the results of the EU Referendum? The two – excellent – plays I have managed to see since the UK voted to leave on 23 June, have both, in a strange way, deepened my Brexit despair too.

Neither Florian Zeller’s The Truth nor Faith Healer by […]

  • Jade Ewen, Dean John-Wilson, Trevor Dion Nicholas and the cast of Aladdin. © Disney
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    Press pass: All the Aladdin reviews, the biggest star on the purple carpet + show trailer

Press pass: All the Aladdin reviews, the biggest star on the purple carpet + show trailer

The first-night bookers could never have imagined that the timing of Aladdin’s West End opening could feel so incongruous with what’s happening in the real world. For producers Disney themselves, it’s been a week of sadness and horror: a boy killed by an alligator at their resort in Orlando, Florida, where, of course, 49 […]

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    My personal #EURef round-up: If you’re not sure how to vote yet, please read & watch

My personal #EURef round-up: If you’re not sure how to vote yet, please read & watch

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two months campaigning on behalf of Britain Stronger in Europe and Labour In for Britain. In these final days leading up to the EU Referendum next Thursday, 23 June, I’m actually IN Europe, on a long-planned holiday to my favourite European escape, Mallorca. And I’m feeling […]

PHOTOS: The new cast of Some Girl(s) show their sassiness

Character portraits aren’t just for Harry Potter. Photographer Darren Bell gained access to the new cast of Buckland Theatre’s revival of Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s) to snap these beauties.
In the play, directed by Gary Condes, Guy (played by Charles Dorfman) is desperate to clear his conscience before he gets married. So he sets off on […]

Press Pass: All the reviews on Jesse Eisenberg and The Spoils

In my years of covering theatre, I’ve seen a lot of Hollywood stars make their West End debuts, but I’ve rarely, if ever, seen it done with quite so much aplomb. Jesse Eisenberg and Kunal Nayyar – best known internationally for, respectively, multiple films including The Social Network, and US sitcom The Big Bang […]

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    Manchester’s Menier is born: Look inside the new Hope Mill Theatre

Manchester’s Menier is born: Look inside the new Hope Mill Theatre

I’ve long been a fan of Katy Lipson at Aria Entertainment and have followed her fast-growing career with great interest. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to physically follow her to Manchester, where she’s recently branched out into venue programming and management with the team behind the city’s newest fringe venue, the Hope Mill Theatre. […]

  • The Potters captured in Charlie Gray's family character portrait
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    Complete Harry Potter family albums + VIDEO: Potters, Granger-Weasleys and Malfoys in Cursed Child

Complete Harry Potter family albums + VIDEO: Potters, Granger-Weasleys and Malfoys in Cursed Child

Celebrity photographer Charlie Gray has shot three sets of exclusive character portraits of the grown-up characters from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, along with the next generation, which feature in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The wildly anticipated two-part stage play receives its world premiere this summer at the West End’s Palace Theatre, […]

  • Terri Paddock with Sideways author Rex Pickett and the cast at last night's post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Sideways author Rex Pickett and the wine-mad cast

Photos and podcast: Sideways author Rex Pickett and the wine-mad cast

Did you know that Sideways was an unpublished novel – rejected, like the efforts of the character Miles in the story, some 66 times – when the film rights were first picked up? In fact, the novel and film, about middle-aged buddies Miles and Jack on a pre-nuptials road trip through California wine country, were […]

A View from Islington North: “It’s not all about deselection”

Having never met him before, in less than a week, I’ve crossed paths with Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, twice. Last Thursday, he attended the monthly meeting of my constituency Labour party (CLP), in which one of his colleagues threatened the deselection (or to be precise, the “mandatory reselection”) of my MP. Tonight, I […]

  • The advert for Barney Norris' in The Sunday Times was just the prompt I needed
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    From stage to page: Barney Norris’ Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain + 12 quotes

From stage to page: Barney Norris’ Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain + 12 quotes

I took slight umbrage with arts journalist Richard Brooks the other week. “You have probably not heard of Barney Norris,” started one of Brooks’ item in his weekly column in the Sunday Times’ Culture section.

“Yes, I absolutely have!” I harrumphed. I have been a vocal champion of Barney’s since seeing his award-winning debut play […]

Monster Raving Loony: Where is the party now? Tooting…

When Monster Raving Loony was announced a few months ago, I got a bashing on Twitter when I cheekily asked dramatist James Graham if he’d considered writing his next political play about the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn – “or if that was too close to his current subject”.

I don’t want to attract more […]

  • Cast Lauren Samuels, Natasha Cottriall and Maimuna Memon at the post-show Q&A
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    Photos and podcast: Talking politics and musicals at The Buskers Opera

Photos and podcast: Talking politics and musicals at The Buskers Opera

The Buskers Opera, set during the London 2012 Olympics, is inspired by John Gay’s 1728 The Beggar’s Opera which, amongst other works, has also inspired Brecht’s 1928 piece The Threepenny Opera, revived later this month at the National Theatre.

But while the basic structure and characters are owed to Gay, the zany genius of The Buskers Opera […]

Mourning Show Boat: Why do great shows close early?

When the news came in late yesterday that, just a fortnight after opening, Show Boat had posted West End closing notices, I was both shocked and not the least bit surprised.

To be clear, Daniel Evans’ Sheffield Crucible production isn’t shuttering immediately at the New London Theatre, where it opened on Monday 25 April, following […]

Toxic treatment: 7 horror films that should be musicals

I’m not a great one for horror films: I scare way too easily. Even Shaun of the Dead gave me nightmares, and no, I’m not kidding about that.

I’ve never seen any of the original Troma cult classic screen incarnations of The Toxic Avenger, which launched in 1984, but I’m happy to report that the […]

  • Two generations of female playwrights: Tanika Gupta and Anna Jordan at My Mother Said I Never Should panel discussion. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: What’s changed for female playwrights since My Mother Said I Never Should?

Photos and podcast: What’s changed for female playwrights since My Mother Said I Never Should?

How much has changed for female playwrights since 1985 when Charlotte Keatley wrote her landmark play, My Mother Said I Never Should? The play is now receiving its first major London revival in a critically acclaimed production starring Maureen Lipman and Katie Brayben at the St James Theatre, and as part of the limited […]

  • Barbara Flynn and Zoe Wanamaker in Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse, April 2016
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    Elegy: Would you erase your lover’s memory of you to save their life?

Elegy: Would you erase your lover’s memory of you to save their life?

I’ve met up with two friend couples since seeing Nick Payne’s new play Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse on Saturday afternoon – well, seeing it via the loop in the theatre bar as a coughing fit drove me out of the auditorium five minutes into the performance – and I’ve posed the play’s central […]

  • Guests at the Managed Networks theatre security seminar, 26 April 2016. © Debra Rapp
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    How secure is the theatre industry? ISIS isn’t the only threat

How secure is the theatre industry? ISIS isn’t the only threat

To my theatregoing readers: in the wake of Paris and Brussels, how secure do you feel going to the theatre?

Yesterday, I chaired an event looking at security risks currently facing Theatreland. As far as terrorism threats go, let me share some good news from our guest speaker, Rob Hoblin, a Cognitious Ltd consultant who […]

  • Rose Leslie papped on the red carpet at Doctor Faustus' West End opening
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    Press Pass: All the reviews (and #GameOfThrones pics) from Doctor Faustus opening

Press Pass: All the reviews (and #GameOfThrones pics) from Doctor Faustus opening

I shared some of my own thoughts about Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Doctor Faustus – along with choice quotes (be they care of Christopher Marlowe or Colin Teevan) – last night. This morning’s other coverage following the star-studded opening night is, like the story itself, a mixture of heaven and hell.

While most critics […]

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    Fame before the fall: Kit Harington in bloody Doctor Faustus in 9 quotes

Fame before the fall: Kit Harington in bloody Doctor Faustus in 9 quotes

The first thing you need to know about Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Doctor Faustus – apart from the fact that it stars Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow from TV’s Game of Thrones), which every Throner undoubtedly already knows – is that it is not for the squeamish.

There is A LOT of blood – […]

What if every day were #Shakespeare400 and London Marathon?

Celebrations for an important family milestone – my partner Peter’s mother’s 70th birthday – prevented me from taking part in festivities around the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare on the day itself yesterday. But I’ve had fun catching up on some of it today.

The Globe’s Complete Walk was a fantastic cultural installation […]

  • Sheridan Smith and the Funny Girl company at the Savoy Theatre
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    Press Pass: All the (new) reviews and opening night news from West End Funny Girl

Press Pass: All the (new) reviews and opening night news from West End Funny Girl

Just a fortnight ago, bets were already being placed on Glenn Close to secure the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her commanding turn as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard – but I’d say all bets are off again. Sheridan Smith as asserted her claim to declare “I am the […]

  • Some of the theatre industry pros running the 2016 London Marathon
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    Get inspired: 6 theatre pros running the London Marathon … and why they’re running

Get inspired: 6 theatre pros running the London Marathon … and why they’re running

This past Sunday, I went on my first run for ages – and managed all of 5k. I have run a few half-marathons in fitter periods, after each of which I vowed that I would never – never, ever – run a full marathon. So I’m always full of awe and admiration for those […]

My theatre diary: Five of my favourite plays on now

From Mark Shenton’s Top Ten Tickets on My Theatre Mates last week, I noted that I could personally recommend eight of them – and, of the two I couldn’t whole-heartedly endorse, one of them, the NT revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs, I haven’t yet seen.

But, in this theatre diary catch-up, I want to […]

  • Sunset Boulevard: Glenn Close with (l-r) Michael Xavier, Julian Forsyth and Xavier again
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    Press pass: All the reviews on Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond and Sunset Boulevard

Press pass: All the reviews on Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond and Sunset Boulevard

As I round up the overnight reviews of Sunset Boulevard, I can’t stop Norma Desmond’s signature diva song, “With One Look”, spooling round and round in my head. I have a feeling it may stay there for awhile.

On Sunday night, the Olivier Awards felt the absence of some of the artists involved in Sunset Boulevard […]

My frenetic night live-tweeting the 2016 #OlivierAwards

After my frustrated efforts to both attend and tweet from the Olivier Awards nominations announcement back in February, I concluded that it was impractical to even attempt to attend this year’s ceremony and stand a chance of covering it with my various theatre media hats on. So instead I booked myself – thanks very much […]

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    Photos and podcast: On Ayckbourn and comedy with How The Other Half Loves‘ cast and director

Photos and podcast: On Ayckbourn and comedy with How The Other Half Loves‘ cast and director

What’s the essence of good comedy? And what marks out an Alan Ayckbourn comedy in particular? What does the UK’s most prolific, produced playwright (80 plays and counting) demand of actors and directors? And, despite the (often onerous, occasionally near-impossible) demands, why do actors and directors relish coming back for more?

These were some the […]

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    En garde for the French revolution in theatre (and I don’t just mean Florian Zeller)

En garde for the French revolution in theatre (and I don’t just mean Florian Zeller)

I recently wrote about super-hot French playwright Florian Zeller’s London hat trick – with The Father, The Mother and, still running at the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Truth.

As I sat down to catch up on my Theatre Diary of other plays I’ve seen recently, however, I realised London’s theatre landscape is going Gallic for […]

British musical theatre has just had its Woodstock moment: I was there

This time last week I was coming down from the buzz of BEAM:2016. Today, as I was re-reading my notes and other people’s write-ups for this blog, I received news on casting for The Toxic Avenger, starring Mark Anderson (who I saw performing at Beam) and produced by Aria Entertainment’s Katy Lipson (one of the […]

  • My partner and friends wrote messages to cheer me on during my long lawsuit
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    Decluttering and wiping the slate clean on the past three years

Decluttering and wiping the slate clean on the past three years

My partner Peter and I spent most of this weekend in a frenzy of DIY-ing and de-cluttering, with an emphasis on the latter. We live in a small two-bedroom flat near Waterloo and, in a matter of weeks, will be joined by my good friends Richard and Justin, and their dog Crumpet, emigrating from […]

  • Remarkable debut: 13-year-old Adam Bregman, who had his own Bar Mitzvah in October, stars in the title role
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    Bar Mitzvah Boy: How do you turn a famous musical flop into a smash hit?

Bar Mitzvah Boy: How do you turn a famous musical flop into a smash hit?

I have all sorts of bias when it comes to Bar Mitzvah Boy: my friend Lara Stubbs stars (as the somewhat spoilt, Jewish princess older sister of bar-mitzvahed boy in question); the show is directed by Stewart Nicholls, with whom I worked last summer on Robbie Sherman’s Love Birds; and it’s produced by the […]

  • Cedric Neal (left) leads the Motown cast as Berry Gordy
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    Press Pass: All the Motown reviews plus starry livestream, news and interviews

Press Pass: All the Motown reviews plus starry livestream, news and interviews

Yes, I am posting this #PressPass at gone 4am – blame those incessant Motown hits that keep spinning round and round and round my head after attending tonight’s (technically, now last night’s) West End premiere of the Broadway hit, Motown the Musical.

You will know, of course, that this is the (company?) bio-musical telling the […]

  • Stephen Unwin. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: The politics of theatre at The Caucasian Chalk Circle Q&A

Photos and podcast: The politics of theatre at The Caucasian Chalk Circle Q&A

What’s the difference between political theatre and theatre about politics? Can theatre be a catalyst for real change? Do right-wing political perspectives get a fair hearing onstage or is theatre the preserve of the left-wing? And how much does modern political theatre owe to Bertolt Brecht?

These were just some of the questions that arose in a lively […]

  • Lynn Nottage accepting the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize from judge Tanya Moodie. National Theatre, 22 February 2016
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    Tanya Moodie: Female playwrights ‘light candles in gale winds’

Tanya Moodie: Female playwrights ‘light candles in gale winds’

It was hugely inspiring attending the presentation of the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize at the National Theatre on Monday night. Inspiring to hear about so many brilliant plays written by women. Inspiring to hear from so many of the authors of those plays, not least the winner, Lynn Nottage, for her play Sweat. […]

  • Tracie Bennett leads the troupe as Mrs Henderson in Mrs Henderson Presents
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    “I clapped so hard I dented my ring” + Press pass: All the reviews and news on Mrs Henderson Presents

“I clapped so hard I dented my ring” + Press pass: All the reviews and news on Mrs Henderson Presents

I gave Mrs Henderson Presents a very enthusiastic response at the curtain call of last night’s West End premiere – so enthusiastic that, as I tweeted at the time, I dented my ring. This is not good, it was my favourite ring, but I couldn’t help myself and I don’t begrudge the show. (A […]

Press pass: All the reviews and news on Gemma Arterton as Nell Gwynn

The poster of Nell Gwynn shows a saucy, bare-shouldered Gemma Arterton and promises “fun, funny and joyous… a cast of 20! and a band… naughty songs… merry dances. And a dog!”

And Christopher Luscombe’s lively production of Jessica Swale’s bawdy, feminist, Restoration-style romp delivers every one of those items it advertises. It’s also the perfect […]

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    Press pass: All the reviews and news on Matthew Perry’s The End of Longing

Press pass: All the reviews and news on Matthew Perry’s The End of Longing

I wrote last night about my personal response (including misgivings) to Matthew Perry’s playwriting debut, and return to the West End stage, in The End of Longing which I saw last week. And now the national newspaper critics have all filed their verdicts, which are – on the whole – so savage that the news […]

  • Jennifer Mudge and Matthew Perry in The End of Longing. © Helen Maybanks
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    Friends forever? What can I say about Matthew Perry’s The End of Longing?

Friends forever? What can I say about Matthew Perry’s The End of Longing?

Near the end of an interview Matthew Perry gave with The Times last weekend, the interviewer Sarfraz Manzoor commented “having made so many people so happy it feels only right to wish some happiness for him”.

That’s the same feeling I carried with me into the Playhouse when I saw The End of Longing a […]

  • Florian Zeller family plays: Kenneth Cranham in The Father, Gina McKee in The Mother
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    A Florian Zeller hat trick: The Father, The Mother and The Truth

A Florian Zeller hat trick: The Father, The Mother and The Truth

Is Florian Zeller the new Yasmina Reza?

Certainly, he’s the most successful French playwright to hit English shores since Reza, whose 1990s hits – Life x 3, The Unexpected Man and, of course, the long-running (eight years in the West End), starry cast-rotating Art – were followed more recently by 2006’s God of Carnage in […]

My theatre diary: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Rabbit Hole, Pink Mist, One of Those

Here are a few more plays that I’ve seen recently and can happily recommend. As usual, I’ve listed them in closing order – and two of them finish their London runs this weekend, so sorry for the short notice.

If you follow me on Twitter (@TerriPaddock) – please do! – you’ll be able to see […]

Andy Capp rediscovered: Ought he to be ashamed of himself?

I had an image in my mind of Andy Capp – the flatcap pulled low, fag and beer in hand cartoon image, that is – but didn’t know too much about him. Though I was always aware of the existence of Reg Smythe’s internationally famous comic strip, now celebrating its 60th year, I don’t […]

  • Students from The Guildford School of Acting perform extracts from the 2013/14 Perfect Pitch Award winner, ODD, by Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth
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    What happens when you cross Dragons’ Den with new musicals?

What happens when you cross Dragons’ Den with new musicals?

In November, I blogged about three ‘new’ musical schemes, including The S and S Award, which was held at the St James Theatre. On Friday, I was back at the St James covering another great scheme – and award – to add to the list.

The Perfect Pitch Award, co-presented by Theatre Royal Stratford East, […]

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    Press pass: No more Sunday shows, but Rufus Norris’ confidence is growing at the National

Press pass: No more Sunday shows, but Rufus Norris’ confidence is growing at the National

The audience at yesterday’s National Theatre press conference gave the biggest cheer to news that hasn’t generated headlines anywhere: artistic director Rufus Norris invited journalists to wish bon voyage to the theatre’s head of press Lucinda Morrison and we did so volubly, the applause only ending when Lucinda motioned for us to cut it […]

  • Mona Golabek performs The Pianist of Willesden Lane at the St James Theatre
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    A very personal Holocaust memorial: The story behind The Pianist of Willesden Lane

A very personal Holocaust memorial: The story behind The Pianist of Willesden Lane

My partner and I saw, and were deeply moved by, The Pianist of Willesden Lane when it had its London premiere at the St James Theatre last Friday.

The play is based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival, written by Mona Golabek (with Lee […]

  • The cast of Martin McDonagh's Hangmen
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    Critics’ Circle Award winners: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?

Critics’ Circle Award winners: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?

The annual best of lists are always a good indication of who’s likely to triumph at the Critics’ Circle Awards, which were presented this afternoon at the Delfont Room in the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. Understandably so as it’s critics who, by and large, draw up those lists and critics only – […]

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    My theatre diary: Plays 4000 Days, Hangmen, The Dazzle, Jane Wenham, The Long Road South

My theatre diary: Plays 4000 Days, Hangmen, The Dazzle, Jane Wenham, The Long Road South

I’m well overdue for a theatre diary, aren’t I? So here goes with a quick one on more new plays I’ve seen in recent (and not-so recent) weeks that I’d recommend catching and haven’t yet managed to squeeze in to separate blogs. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order: the first three finishing […]

  • Alan Rickman (1946-2016)
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    Putting Alan Rickman’s theatre work (and activism) centre stage

Putting Alan Rickman’s theatre work (and activism) centre stage

You don’t need me to tell you that Alan Rickman passed away last week, or how shocking and unexpected his death from cancer was at the age of 69, just days after his contemporary David Bowie shuffled off this mortal coil in similar circumstances.

I had just sat down at my laptop mid-day last Thursday after returning […]

  • Grey Gardens' American writing team: Scott Frankel (music), Michael Korie (lyrics) and Doug Wright (book) at a post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse, chaired by Mark Shenton
    Permalink Grey Gardens' American writing team: Scott Frankel (music), Michael Korie (lyrics) and Doug Wright (book) at a post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse, chaired by Mark ShentonGallery

    Composing Grey Gardens: “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present”

Composing Grey Gardens: “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present”

The American writers of Grey Gardens are clearly delighted with the European premiere production of their musical (See Also my #PressPass round-up), now being staged at London’s Southwark Playhouse in a limited, six-week (and already sold-out) season. “We feel enormously blessed,” said composer Scott Frankel, at a post-show Q&A, chaired by My Theatre Mates’ colleague […]

  • Grey Gardens at Southwark Playhouse. Clockwise from top left to right: Jenna Russell, Sheila Hancock, Aaron Sidwell, Rachel Anne Rayham, Jenna Russell, Sheila Hancock. © Scott Rylander
    Permalink Grey Gardens at Southwark Playhouse. Clockwise from top left to right: Jenna Russell, Sheila Hancock, Aaron Sidwell, Rachel Anne Rayham, Jenna Russell, Sheila Hancock. © Scott RylanderGallery

    Press pass: All the reviews and more from Grey Gardens‘ European premiere

Press pass: All the reviews and more from Grey Gardens‘ European premiere

Producer Danielle Tarento and director Thom Southerland have created another Off-West End mega-hit musical. In fact, Grey Gardens has broken all box office records at Southwark Playhouse where it has already sold out, eclipsing the pair’s other much-loved Broadway musical reclamations at the same address over the past five years: Grand Hotel (2015 – […]

  • Clive Rowe reprised his "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" for the National Theatre's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013
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    Why Nicely Nicely Johnson is no longer ruined for me (though Clive Rowe remains a giant)

Why Nicely Nicely Johnson is no longer ruined for me (though Clive Rowe remains a giant)

For years Guys and Dolls has been all but ruined for me: that’s what happens when you are lucky enough to see a definitive production and performance. I speak, of course, of Richard Eyre’s legendary National Theatre revival of this 1950 roadway classic. And, what’s more, I didn’t even see the original. (Much referenced by other […]

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Guys & Dolls

The 2016 West End season got off to a rollicking start this week with Wednesday’s opening of Guys and Dolls, the latest Chichester Festival transfer to the Savoy Theatre, which follows fast on the heels of the last CFT transfer of another Broadway musical revival, Gypsy. It was a surprisingly star-studded, red carpet affair for […]

  • Clockwise from top left: Matt Henry in Kinky Boots, John Heffernan in Oppenheimer, Greg Hicks and Peter Bourke in Clarion, Derren Brown in Miracle and Noma Dumezweni in Linda
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    Year in Review: More Top 10 #theatre2015 lists from me and my Mates

Year in Review: More Top 10 #theatre2015 lists from me and my Mates

After rounding up various publications’ #theatre2015 highlights yesterday, it’s time to reflect on my own year in the stalls (well, mainly in the stalls, occasionally in the dress circle).

I don’t pretend for a minute that these lists are definitive of the theatregoing year overall; they represent only my personal opinions on the shows I’ve […]

Year in Review: My top Twitter activity in 2015

If you know me at all well, you’ll know that I’m a Twitter addict – which includes a love for all sorts of nerdy things to do with Twitter management and monitoring. And that includes Twitter Analytics, which has been coming on leaps and bounds over the past year.

And so, after an engrossing few […]

  • Lia Williams and Angus Wright in Duncan Macmillan's reimagining of Oresteia
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    Year in Review: The best of the best of #theatre2015 round-ups

Year in Review: The best of the best of #theatre2015 round-ups

After my two-week Christmas roadtrip in the US, I’m finally back at my desk and able to catch up on all the 2015 UK theatrical year round. Have you been keeping up in my absence?

Fear not either way, because once again – and as promised on Twitter – I’ve rounded up the round-ups to […]

  • Noma Dumezweni took over the title role in Linda just ten days before it premiered
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    The heroic Noma Dumezweni + 7 quotes on women who take on the world

The heroic Noma Dumezweni + 7 quotes on women who take on the world

After Anna Francolini on Monday and the Judy Garlands yesterday, I’m going for a hat trick of blogs about amazing women today so that I can tell you this: if you haven’t yet seen Linda at the Royal Court yet, get your skates on.

You’ve only got until 9 January to see this new play […]

What’s the collective noun for Judy Garlands?

Take your pick of Judy Garlands.

On the London stage this week alone, you’ve got a choice of three – Helen Sheals, Belinda Wollaston and Lucy Penrose – in Ray Rackham’s brilliant new play with music Through the Mill.

In the new year, Peter Quilter’s Olivier and Tony-nominated End of the Rainbow returns, with Lisa Maxwell (from TV’s The […]

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    Makes me wonder: Why isn’t Anna Francolini a household name?

Makes me wonder: Why isn’t Anna Francolini a household name?

“Who are you?” It’s the only real question, according to wonder.land via Lewis Carroll. But the main question that kept running through my mind while watching the Damon Albarn musical at the National Theatre the other night was: “Who is Anna Francolini?” Or more precisely, why isn’t she a bigger star?

Anna has been performing […]

Please do Stop the War in the Labour Party

I have tried as much as possible to ignore the press around Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance of the Stop the War organisation’s Christmas do this week. Frankly, I just didn’t want to get myself wound up so close to the holidays over some (in my opinion, ill-judged) engagement in Corbyn’s social diary.

Labour Party leader endorses […]

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    Press pass revisited: Has wonder.land improved since its Manchester premiere?

Press pass revisited: Has wonder.land improved since its Manchester premiere?

When wonder.land premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July, reviews were decidedly mixed. National press who made the trip north were underwhelmed, bestowing a raft of three-star ratings, while local critics were kinder, bumping it up to a four-star show. In the intervening months, rumour has it, there’s been extensive redevelopment of this […]

  • Jeremy Corbyn with Rapunzel's "Prince Corbyn", played by Alex Hope, and Fairy Jane and Fairy John
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    Local MP Jeremy Corbyn and the art of the theatre publicity pic

Local MP Jeremy Corbyn and the art of the theatre publicity pic

When news of the Park Theatre’s pantomime, Rapunzel, came through earlier this year, I remember clocking the name of the hero character Prince Corbyn – names are never a coincidence when it comes to pantomimes, surely?

But had naming considerations also played a part in casting the role? Finding an actor named Alex Hope to […]

  • Sheridan Smith and Darius Campbell in Funny Girl. © Marc Brenner
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    Press pass: All the reviews and pics of Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl

Press pass: All the reviews and pics of Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl

With the House of Commons Syria vote last night, it may be surprising that any other news gets a look-in in today’s newspapers. But in musical theatre happenings, the big news was London’s first major revival of Jule Styne’s Broadway classic Funny Girl. The big question: could Sheridan Smith lay to rest the ghost […]

Jeremy Corbyn consulted me on Syria: Here’s my response

On Friday night, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn emailed me (and other grassroots members of the Party) asking what I think Britain should do about the civil war in Syria, our national security, the threat of ISIS and, specifically, “Should Parliament vote to authorise the bombing of Syria?” He wanted to know my thoughts by the […]

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    Happy Thanksgiving: 10 things even Brits can give thanks for (including theatre, of course)

Happy Thanksgiving: 10 things even Brits can give thanks for (including theatre, of course)

A year ago I was gorging myself on turkey and pumpkin pie and basking in family love in Huntsville, Alabama. It was my first time back to the States for Thanksgiving in over 20 years and it reminded me what a top-drawer holiday it is. You get a Christmas meal with all the family […]

#LoveTheatreDay 2015: The overwhelming and the inspiring

In case it escaped your notice, the second annual #LoveTheatreDay (that’s opposed to last year’s #LoveTheatre Day, for the record) took place last Wednesday. I’d had it marked in my calendar for months and had intended to indulge fully this time, cognisant that for last year’s inaugural event, I’d overdosed fairly quickly, feeling Twitter punchdrunk after […]

  • Nigel Harman hosts The S and S Award gala
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    The S & S Award photos: The future of new musical theatre starts Here

The S & S Award photos: The future of new musical theatre starts Here

I usually prefer to spend Sunday nights in winter holed up at home, but I was glad to make an exception – especially thanks to the considerately early start time of 5.30pm – last night for The S and S Award gala at the St James Theatre. As I previously wrote, this is an […]

  • Julian Ovenden recently recorded a new musical with The Stable
    Permalink Julian Ovenden recently recorded a new musical with The StableGallery

    3 important ‘new’ schemes for new musicals that get my full support

3 important ‘new’ schemes for new musicals that get my full support

I’ve been thinking a lot about new musicals recently. That’s not meant to be a blatant plug for my new website Stage Faves. Apart from the small detail that #StageFaves’ covers revivals and long-running blockbusters too, the fact is that, by the time a musical reaches the West End, it’s unlikely to be ‘new’ […]

Quote Unquote: 15 of my favourite lines from 6 plays on now

People who see me in the theatre no doubt assume I’m always armed with my little notebook and scrambling for the pen that always seems to have fallen to the bottom of my bag because I’m a critic. [Readers of this blog know, however, that I never lay claim to that label.]

But I’m not […]

  • Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh with co-director Rob Ashford and the company at the press day's final curtain call
    Permalink Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh with co-director Rob Ashford and the company at the press day's final curtain callGallery

    Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade / All On Her Own

Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade / All On Her Own

There’s nothing like a major theatre event to warm the cockles on a winter’s day. And the opening of Kenneth Branagh’s return to the West End with a year-long season as actor-manager was undoubtedly an event with a capital E.

And also a bit of a marathon, albeit one with a long pit-stop. The 2pm […]

  • Ben Forster and Kimberley Walsh in Elf The Musical at the Dominion Theatre. © Alastair Muir
    Permalink Ben Forster and Kimberley Walsh in Elf The Musical at the Dominion Theatre. © Alastair MuirGallery

    Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Elf the Musical

Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Elf the Musical

Maybe I’m just an old softie. Okay, yes, let’s admit it, I am. I’m also a lifelong believer in the restorative power of Christmas music which, like Katrina and the Waves’ “Walkin’ on Sunshine”, is my go-to Spotify choice if I’m feeling down – never mind if it’s a July heatwave, sleigh bells have […]

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    13 thoughts On Freedom: Belarus Free Theatre marks ten years by Staging a Revolution

13 thoughts On Freedom: Belarus Free Theatre marks ten years by Staging a Revolution

Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), the underground theatre group routinely censored and persecuted in its state-controlled homeland, is celebrating its tenth birthday this month.

Founded by human rights activist husband-and-wife Nikolai Khalezin and Natalie Koliada, joined by director Vladimir Shcherban, BFT’s inaugural production in May 2005 was Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, which tackles Belarusian taboo subjects […]

  • Erik Odom (Tim), Charlotte Parry (Tina), Dan Fredenburgh (Tom) and Stephen Tompkinson (Teddy) in Pig Farm by Greg Kotis @ St James Theatre. Directed by Katharine Farmer.
(Opening 28-10-15)
©Tristram Kenton 10/15
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com
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    From Pig Farm to Urinetown: Piss and sh*t and sustainability

From Pig Farm to Urinetown: Piss and sh*t and sustainability

The play Pig Farm, which is currently receiving its UK premiere at London’s St James Theatre, is written by American Greg Kotis, who also wrote the book for the Urinetown, the musical which also received its UK premiere at the St James before transferring to the West End last year.

Attending Pig Farm’s opening last week, […]

  • Simon, Josh, Thomas and Jake
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    Photos and podcast: Barrie Keeffe discusses “unacceptable”, still timely Barbarians

Photos and podcast: Barrie Keeffe discusses “unacceptable”, still timely Barbarians

Regular readers of this blog will know that, a few weeks ago, I was blown away by Tooting Arts Club’s revival of Barbarians, Barrie Keeffe’s 1977 modern classic about disaffected London youth. So much so that I practically begged the producer Rachel Edwards to let me come back and chair a post-show discussion on the […]

  • Producer Katy Lipson introduces the From Page to Stage opening night and season © Peter Jones
    Permalink Producer Katy Lipson introduces the From Page to Stage opening night and season © Peter JonesGallery

    From Page to Stage photos and podcast: Are we doing enough to nurture new musicals?

From Page to Stage photos and podcast: Are we doing enough to nurture new musicals?

What an honour! Last night I had the privilege of helping to open the third annual From Page to Stage season of new musicals. From Page to Stage is the brainchild of Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment, who also produced The House of Mirrors and Hearts, for which I chaired a post-show Q&A at […]

The birth of an Icon: I was there

Obviously I go to the theatre a lot: but last night truly was special. I had the huge privilege of attending a premiere, at the White Bear Theatre, that marked the playwriting debut of a dear friend, whose scripts I’ve had the honour of reading over many years.

That’s not to suggest that said friend, Dave Cantor, is […]

  • Niamh Cusack, Tom Hughes and Anthony Head in Ticking at Trafalgar Studios 2. © Bronwen Sharp
    Permalink Niamh Cusack, Tom Hughes and Anthony Head in Ticking at Trafalgar Studios 2. © Bronwen SharpGallery

    My theatre diary: ‘New’ plays The First Man, Ticking, Teddy Ferrara, Eventide

My theatre diary: ‘New’ plays The First Man, Ticking, Teddy Ferrara, Eventide

The new play’s the thing, even when it’s very old…. Here are four I’ve seen over the past few weeks, three of which I haven’t managed to squeeze yet into separate blogs due to lack of enough hours in the days, but that I’d nevertheless recommend. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order.

The exception on […]

  • Huw Parmenter and Tom Maller in Dark Tourism at the Park Theatre. © Oli Sones
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    Dark Tourism and the art of the theatrical put-down: 17 top insults

Dark Tourism and the art of the theatrical put-down: 17 top insults

Richard, one of the central characters in Daniel Dingsdale's debut play Dark Tourism (like me) has a thing for quotations. The irony is that he's a peddler of lowest common denominator culture, a "celebrity" PR with a hotline to the tabloids, who once dreamed of high-brow literary success.

Why do we love celebrating Stephen Sondheim so much?

Next weekend, the 85th birthday of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will be marked (albeit, somewhat belatedly – his actual birthday was on 22 March) in grand, celebratory at the West End’s 2,000-seat Theatre Royal Drury Lane, care of the Sondheim Society.

The company of HEY, OLD FRIENDS! An 85th Birthday Tribute to Stephen […]

Why are strong women – and witches – so scary?

Tonight should have been the night that Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new Out of Joint play Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, inspired by the last woman in England to be charged with witchcraft in the 18th century, visited the Ipswich High School for Girls as part of its rural touring in East Anglia and Essex.

Unfortunately, […]

This is England: Barbarians tap into anti-austerity rage

I’m not the only theatre person who was focused on the Conservative Party Conference last week.

Though she may not have anticipated quite the extent of the spitting, pig mask wearing protests outside the gates of the “Tory scum” meetings, Tooting Arts Club producer did intentionally time the opening of her Tooting Arts Club revival […]

  • A brief moment's political respite: on the beach in Brighton
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    My Conference diary: A striking similarity to the Edinburgh Fringe

My Conference diary: A striking similarity to the Edinburgh Fringe

I wish I could have been in Manchester last week for the Conservative Party annual conference. Not because I’ve suddenly gone “true Blue” and definitely not because I wanted to spit at those who are.

I joined the Labour Party the day after this year’s General Election and, despite (not because of) Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership […]

  • Leslie Bricusse (centre) with Pure Imagination cast (l-r) Dave Willietts, Julie Atherton, Niall Sheehy, Siobhan McCarthy and Giles Terera
    Permalink Leslie Bricusse (centre) with Pure Imagination cast (l-r) Dave Willietts, Julie Atherton, Niall Sheehy, Siobhan McCarthy and Giles TereraGallery

    Pure Imagination: Leslie Bricusse on searching for the perfect song

Pure Imagination: Leslie Bricusse on searching for the perfect song

How well do you know the work of composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse? How many songs can you name by this living legend… apart from “Pure Imagination” (and the “Oompa Loompa” theme) from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

How about, for starters, Bond classics “Goldfinger” and “You Only Live Twice”, “If I Ruled the World”, “What Kind […]

  • Mark Rylance interviewed by Andrew Marr on his BBC One Sunday politics show
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    Mark Rylance: ‘What’s wrong with being a theatre actor?’

Mark Rylance: ‘What’s wrong with being a theatre actor?’

On this Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, in amongst an interview with David Cameron and other reports from this year’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester, I was delighted to see Marr, perched in the circle at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, chatting with actor Mark Rylance.

Theatregoers know, of course, that […]

  • The company of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the West End's Apollo Theatre
    Permalink The company of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the West End's Apollo TheatreGallery

    A new musical every night? Top 5 Showstopper conspiracy theories

A new musical every night? Top 5 Showstopper conspiracy theories

I’ve known the Showstoppers for many years, both the company and its producers (James Seabright and Suzanna Rosenthal), and over that time, I’ve seen the show many times – or rather I’ve seen many shows care of the Showstoppers exactly one time each.

On one of those occasions, when the company was resident at the King’s […]

  • Barney Norris in rehearsals for Eventide
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    INTERVIEW (pt2): Barney Norris on Peter Gill, Van Gogh writing and theatres as ’empathy engines’

INTERVIEW (pt2): Barney Norris on Peter Gill, Van Gogh writing and theatres as ’empathy engines’

Playwright Barney Norris has followed his award-winning debut Visitors with Eventide, which is now running at London’s Arcola Theatre before touring until 15 November 2015, care of Up in Arms, the theatre company he co-founded with director Alice Hamilton.

I’m a huge fan of Barney, both as a great writer and a great thinker. In this second […]

  • Barney Norris with Eventide cast member Ellie Piercy in rehearsals
    Permalink Barney Norris with Eventide cast member Ellie Piercy in rehearsalsGallery

    INTERVIEW (pt1): Eventide‘s Barney Norris on monoculture, Thomas Hardy and Salisbury dreams

INTERVIEW (pt1): Eventide‘s Barney Norris on monoculture, Thomas Hardy and Salisbury dreams

I’ve been looking forward to Barney Norris’ new play ever since I caught his acclaimed four-hander Visitors at the Bush Theatre last year. The play, which centred on an elderly couple dealing with the devastating consequences of dementia, affected me deeply. Partly, that was because of my own family’s experience with my father’s recent post-operative delirium, but […]

  • Olivia Morgan and Scott Karim in Brave New World, touring until 5 December 2015
    Permalink Olivia Morgan and Scott Karim in Brave New World, touring until 5 December 2015Gallery

    My theatre diary: Only Forever, Brave New World and See What I Wanna See

My theatre diary: Only Forever, Brave New World and See What I Wanna See

Off-West End, out of town and out of this world. I’ve seen a few shows recently that have left me feeling distinctly disquieted… for their visions of the future, their distortions of the past and potential Armageddons.

As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, and the first on the list, Only Forever , finishes […]

  • These boots are made for dancing - and running and running in the West End, I hope
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    Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Kinky Boots

Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Kinky Boots

This morning I’m delighted to be in agreement with most of the overnight critics awarding a slew of four stars to last night’s opening: the London premiere of another New York import. Of course, this import has a strong British pedigree. I’m talking about Kinky Boots, of course, the Broadway musical based on the […]

  • Nicole Kidman plays late DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51 in the West End
    Permalink Nicole Kidman plays late DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51 in the West EndGallery

    Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51

Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51

I love it when I disagree with the critics. No, really I do. I’m fascinated that we can all have such widely variant opinions on the same thing – and I’m very happy for mine to be challenged. While for me, Photograph 51 never really developed into compelling drama, most overnight critics have awarded […]

  • Bryan Vernel and Joshua McGuire are hilarious as food-fighting political combatants in Future Conditional at the Old Vic, September 2015
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    What do the Old Vic and Labour Party regime changes have in common?

What do the Old Vic and Labour Party regime changes have in common?

I’ve witnessed at first-hand two regime changes over the past few days and curiously they have a man in common: Ed Miliband.

The political regime change, the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn as Miliband’s Labour Party leadership successor, has of course dominated the news this weekend. As a Labour Party member myself – and one who […]

Press pass: Critics drub Dusty, video steals the show

How many shows can you name that have their opening night more than a fortnight after their run was scheduled to end? Dusty is London’s own Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a fraught high-tech show that has attracted more headlines for its delays and backstage bust-ups than for anything happening onstage.

Over the summer, a […]

  • Audience at the Tristan Bates Theatre
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    Photos and podcast: Why we should edit classics like Hamlet and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine

Photos and podcast: Why we should edit classics like Hamlet and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine

A couple of weeks ago, as part of the ongoing Hamlet hysteria, I was amazed that such an apparent uproar was caused by director Lyndsey Turner’s experimenting with the placement of the play’s most famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be”. When I was contacted by the Independent (article link below) for comment […]

What would Jeremy Corbyn do for the arts?

I was pleased to be invited to an event at the Arcola Theatre last night, to hear Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn launch his new Arts Policy document. This is the latest in more than a dozen Policy documents that Corbyn has released during the party leadership race since June.

Nine days before the deadline […]

  • The Love Birds performing at the 2015 Pleasance Gala Launch at the Edinburgh Fringe
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    The Fringe may be over, but perhaps we can keep the spirit alive a little longer?

The Fringe may be over, but perhaps we can keep the spirit alive a little longer?

Yesterday wasn’t just a miserably wet Bank Holiday Monday in London (and most of the rest of England): north of the border, it was also the conclusion of the world’s largest arts festival, the glorious Edinburgh Fringe (and its parent, the more auspicious and less chaotic Edinburgh International Festival).

So Edinburgh was on my mind […]

  • The Jewish Contribution to Broadway: How many of these composers and lyricists can you name?
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    Can you succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews? Maybe not…

Can you succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews? Maybe not…

We owe the phrase “you won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews” to Spamalot – so it only officially entered the theatrical lexicon circa 2005 when the Monty Python musical opened on Broadway (and I first heard it live a year later, when it had its West End premiere at the […]

  • Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, August 2015.
    Permalink Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, August 2015.Gallery

    Press pass: Critics finally (officially) get their say on Cumberbatch Hamlet

Press pass: Critics finally (officially) get their say on Cumberbatch Hamlet

As one critic stated upfront: the press night is a major anti-climax. Nevertheless, while the verdicts don’t make a blind bit of difference to the box office on a production that sold out at record speed a year ago, it’s time to take pause and review the reviews for #HamletBarbican, a.k.a. the Benedict Cumberbatch show. While […]

  • Sinead Cusack in Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse
    Permalink Sinead Cusack in Splendour at the Donmar WarehouseGallery

    My theatre diary: Musicals, magic and monsters including Impossible, Splendour, Seven Brides and Heartbreak Hotel

My theatre diary: Musicals, magic and monsters including Impossible, Splendour, Seven Brides and Heartbreak Hotel

Apart from my Edinburgh blitz, I like to take August a little slow on the theatregoing front. These few weeks offer a brief respite while many people are away on holiday or still up at the Fringe (which I’m not the slightest bit jealous about – no, really) before the ‘autumn season’ kicks off […]

  • Is the meth laced? Miles Allen performs the unauthorised parody One Man Breaking Bad
    Permalink Is the meth laced? Miles Allen performs the unauthorised parody One Man Breaking BadGallery

    My Edinburgh Diary: From Love Birds to solo shows, politics, circus, stand-up and more

My Edinburgh Diary: From Love Birds to solo shows, politics, circus, stand-up and more

Food poisoning, the infamous “festival flu” or some other strain of (literally) gut-wrenching misery? Whatever it was, I became quite violently ill on the train journey home from Edinburgh yesterday. When we arrived at King’s Cross station in London, my partner Peter had to half-carry me into a taxi to take me home, where […]

Dear reader: My epistolary musings about Dear Lupin

Dear reader
Writing a blog in the form of the letter (as I did with my Conversation with Caitlin Moran series) about the stage adaptation of the 2012 book Dear Lupin allows me to both use the word epistolary (my favourite word of the week) and to demonstrate its very definition, which is: “relating to the writing […]

Rock operas: How much does American Idiot owe to Tommy?

Birth-wise, more than three decades separate The Who’s Tommy and Green Day’s American Idiot, but location-wise, the distance is only three short train stops, from London’s Charing Cross to Greenwich. That is, for the next few weeks in any case.

It’s a happy coincidence that these two “rock operas” based on groundbreaking “concept albums” are both […]

  • Kyle Riabko in Bacharach Reimagined
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    From Burt Bacharach to Tom Jones: A theatrically easy-listening explosion

From Burt Bacharach to Tom Jones: A theatrically easy-listening explosion

I had ninety, non-stop magic moments at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this month at the opening of What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined.

Sat on one of the (extremely comfy) onstage sofas, I felt as if I was in the middle of a Burt Bacharach mega-mix mash-up music video. A seven-strong company of terribly talented twenty-somethings, led by […]

Is UK justice for sale to the highest bidders? (VIDEO)

If you have never been unlucky enough to find yourself in the middle of a legal dispute, I can almost guarantee you – or, at least, 99% of you – that you can’t afford it. Certainly not if it drags on for months or years, as such matters tend to; certainly not if it […]

  • "By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone": meeting others who believe this was life-changing for me
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    I’ve just been accepted into a club I’ve been looking for all my life: The Labour Party

I’ve just been accepted into a club I’ve been looking for all my life: The Labour Party

I had a life-changing moment on Thursday night. I showed up to an event where I didn’t know anyone and discovered it was exactly where I belonged.

Relationships aside, I’ve had this powerful an epiphany of self-realisation only twice before in my life. The first was when I came to the UK as a student […]

  • Robert Sean Leonard and one of three Scouts in To Kill a Mockingbird, Barbican Theatre, London, July 2015
    Permalink Robert Sean Leonard and one of three Scouts in To Kill a Mockingbird, Barbican Theatre, London, July 2015Gallery

    My theatre diary: To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V, As Is, Orson’s Shadow & The Invisible

My theatre diary: To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V, As Is, Orson’s Shadow & The Invisible

Since I got back from my month of remote working in Mallorca, I’ve been lucky enough to pack in lots of trips to the theatre, including this quintuplet of limited season plays that are all worth a look.

As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, and the first on the list finishes this […]

  • Stephen Merchant in The Mentalists at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, London, July 2015. © Helen Maybanks
    Permalink Stephen Merchant in The Mentalists at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, London, July 2015. © Helen MaybanksGallery

    Press pass: Everything you need to know about Stephen Merchant in The Mentalists

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Stephen Merchant in The Mentalists

Comics were out in force and applauding warmly at last night’s opening of The Mentalists, in which fellow stand-up and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant made his West End acting debut – but what did critics think?

Most overnight reviews fall in the three-star range, underwhelmed more by the choice of play than the performances of […]

  • Producers, Jamie, Molly, Ryan and Rob
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    Photos and podcast: The making of new British musical The House of Mirrors and Hearts

Photos and podcast: The making of new British musical The House of Mirrors and Hearts

The adage – usually attributed to Sondheim – that “musicals aren’t written, they’re rewritten” was central to the post-show discussion that I hosted last night at London’s Arcola Theatre. It was the final preview performance of The House of Mirrors and Hearts, the new British chamber musical by Eamonn O’Dwyer and Robert Gilbert, which faces critics […]

  • Cross-dressing appeal: David Suchet stars as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre, London's West End, July 2015
    Permalink Cross-dressing appeal: David Suchet stars as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre, London's West End, July 2015Gallery

    39 top quotes from The Importance of Being Earnest: How many belong to Suchet’s Lady B?

39 top quotes from The Importance of Being Earnest: How many belong to Suchet’s Lady B?

Shakespeare aside, is there any playwright more quotable than Oscar Wilde? And, of all his plays, is there any more quoted than his 1895 comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest? And of the famously feckless characters who populate this Wildely famous play, is there any who delivers more of those quotable quotes […]

  • Damon Albarn's new musical wonder.land transports Lewis Carroll's Alice to a digital landscape
    Permalink Damon Albarn's new musical wonder.land transports Lewis Carroll's Alice to a digital landscapeGallery

    Press pass: Everything you need to know about Damon Albarn’s wonder.land

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Damon Albarn’s wonder.land

Is it all a Blur? That’s a pun you may hear frequently in relation to the musical theatre debut of the seminal 1990s band’s frontman, Damon Albarn, which opened in Manchester last night.

wonder.land is Albarn’s digital-age take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Lewis Carroll children’s classic celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

Albarn has […]

Why holidays are out and remote working is in

Unless you spotted my occasional beach tweets or are one of my personal Facebook friends, you may not have noticed that I’ve been away recently. My partner Peter and I spent all of June in Mallorca.

Now don’t be too jealous – and with heatwave weather like we’ve come back to here in the UK, […]

  • Natalie Dew in Bend It Like Beckham at the West End's Phoenix Theatre, London, June 2015
    Permalink Natalie Dew in Bend It Like Beckham at the West End's Phoenix Theatre, London, June 2015Gallery

    Press pass: Everything you need to know about Bend It Like Beckham

Press pass: Everything you need to know about Bend It Like Beckham

The reviews are in, and there’s no doubt about it – the West End musical makeover of Bend It Like Beckham has scored big with the critics. Perhaps the show’s impeccable timing – as the Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada and Fifa continues to reel from its corruption scandals – helped, but […]

Don’t forget: Memory play The Father affects us all

UPDATED January 2016: The Father is returning to London for a second limited West End season, running at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited season from 24 February to 26 March 2016. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
It’s the last chance this week to catch the French playwright Florian Zeller’s mind-bending play The Father, in which […]

How to handle criticism (unless you’re an actor)

Most actors don’t read their reviews – or, at least, most actors say they don’t read their reviews.

And when it comes to stage acting, I can see their point. Critics review a single performance, one night. After reviews are published, the actors have still got to go out onstage every night and critical words […]

Do you believe in magic in the West End?

(Updated: Since first writing this, yet-another magic show has been announced for the West End. The Illusionists, featuring Britain’s Got Talent’s Jamie Raven, has now been added below.) There are few things that excite me more at a party than when I meet someone who says they can do card tricks. I will move […]

14 surprising facts about JM Barrie’s Peter Pan

In my other blog today, I wrote about the “fact” that JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan as a metaphor for World War One. This was a little bit of a fib (explained fully here), but I thought I’d make up for my momentary dishonesty by sharing a few actual, real, honest-to-goodness surprising facts about Barrie’s 1904 classic.

In […]

  • WWI soldiers create the flying effects in Peter Pan at the Open Air Theatre. © Tristram Kenton
    Permalink WWI soldiers create the flying effects in Peter Pan at the Open Air Theatre. © Tristram KentonGallery

    Did you know JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan as a metaphor for WWI?

Did you know JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan as a metaphor for WWI?

Peter Pan is currently enjoying a critically acclaimed but maddeningly short run at the Open Air Theatre. (I understand the logistical reasons behind back-to-back productions in Regent’s Park, but I do miss a summer repertory that allowed more time for audiences to book and catch up.)

You only have until 14 June to see this Peter […]

What are the challenges populating Bedford Falls onstage?

During my visit to the rehearsal rooms of It’s a Wonderful Life on radio, which launches a new UK tour this week, I also got to chat to three of the incredibly hard-working, six-strong ensemble cast about their experiences creating characters in a community we’re all familiar with.

Your fave It’s a Wonderful Life #quote? I well up […]

  • James Stewart and Donna Reed starred as George and Mary Bailey in Frank Capra's 1946 film classic It's a Wonderful Life - with Karolyn Grimes as their daughter Zuzu.
    Permalink James Stewart and Donna Reed starred as George and Mary Bailey in Frank Capra's 1946 film classic It's a Wonderful Life - with Karolyn Grimes as their daughter Zuzu.Gallery

    It’s a Wonderful Life – coming to a stage near you – isn’t just for Christmas

It’s a Wonderful Life – coming to a stage near you – isn’t just for Christmas

Frank Capra’s 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart as everyman George Bailey, is probably my favourite film of all time. It’s certainly the one I’ve seen more times than any other. Quite frankly, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it. Definitely once – or sometimes twice, thrice […]

  • Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, before he physically transforms himself into Joseph Merrick.
    Permalink Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, before he physically transforms himself into Joseph Merrick.Gallery

    Please please please, Camilla Long: Stop going to the theatre

Please please please, Camilla Long: Stop going to the theatre

In my #PressPass round-up today of The Elephant Man, one recent clipping that I did not include is the one that got me, and others, so riled up about yesterday on Twitter.

It’s a Sunday Times column by Camilla Long – published yesterday in, of all places, the newspaper’s Style supplement – that offended me on so many levels that […]

  • Bradley Cooper and Alessandro Nivola in The Elephant Man
    Permalink Gallery

    Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man

Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man

After nearly a week of staggered press performances, and one starry gala evening, the reviews are now out for the West End transfer for The Elephant Man, which is now running for a limited 12-week season until 8 August 2015 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Scott Ellis’ production already comes trailing four Tony Awards nominations […]

  • The talented young company are put through their drills by choreographer Drew McOnie in Bugsy Malone at London's Lyric Hammersmith.
    Permalink The talented young company are put through their drills by choreographer Drew McOnie in Bugsy Malone at London's Lyric Hammersmith.Gallery

    1976 and 5 other things Bugsy Malone and Carrie have in common

1976 and 5 other things Bugsy Malone and Carrie have in common

I’ve seen two musicals recently that I’d recommend: Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith and Carrie at Southwark Playhouse.

Bugsy Malone is set in Prohibition-era New York City with rival gangsters Fat Sam and Dandy Dan at loggerheads. As custard pies fly and Dan’s destructive ‘splurge guns’ wreak havoc, Bugsy, an ex-boxer turned manager, falls […]

  • Connections2-generic-600
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    How do you connect with theatre? 7 basic plots, 3 key connections

How do you connect with theatre? 7 basic plots, 3 key connections

In my theatregoing, I like to make connections. Are you the same?

There are, of course, the physical connections on the night – between performers and audience, between the other theatregoers in the room, the special, ephemeral connections of the live ‘shared experience’ – but then there are also the mental and emotional connections that […]

  • The 2015 Stephen Sondheim Society Performer of the Year finalists and judges. © David Ovenden
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    Judging Sondheim Society Student standouts and new songs … from my seat in the stalls

Judging Sondheim Society Student standouts and new songs … from my seat in the stalls

On Sunday, I attended my first Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Awards (or, the SSSSPOTYs, ‘for short’!). The competition is now in its ninth year – and I, for one, certainly intend to be back for its tenth anniversary in 2016.

The SSSSPOTYs …. wait, wait, do I really have to call them […]

Photos: Theatre gets ultra fashionable in McQueen

Monsoon is about as close as I get in my day-to-day life to designer fashion – which is to say, I know NOTHING about fashion that I haven’t picked up from The Devil Wears Prada.

And, if I really stopped to think about it and were honest, with that wilful ignorance has come a degree of reverse […]

  • Lucy Fleming, Roberta Taylor, Olivia Llewellyn and Tessa Bell-Briggs in As Good a Time as Any
    Permalink Lucy Fleming, Roberta Taylor, Olivia Llewellyn and Tessa Bell-Briggs in As Good a Time as AnyGallery

    As Good a Time as Any for … ‘Women of a Certain Age’ as people not Product

As Good a Time as Any for … ‘Women of a Certain Age’ as people not Product

Since producing and hosting a post-show debate last month on “Women in the Arts” at Trafalgar Studios, I’ve been thinking a lot about gender inequality in theatre, and particularly in casting. And two recent plays I’ve seen have brought the subject of into even sharper focus for me – both highlighting the problem and […]

  • Meryl Streep in “Sophie’s Choice”, Ian McKellen in “Othello”, Marlon Brando in “Godfather”
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    Curse of the character actor? Antony Sher doubted he could play Falstaff

Curse of the character actor? Antony Sher doubted he could play Falstaff

Tonight, Antony Sher opens in the West End in the RSC’s transfer of Death of a Salesman. But, as acclaimed as the production is, as important as it is in this centenary year of Arthur Miller’s birth, and as epic a part as life’s underdog Willy Loman (who Sher plays) is, the truth is […]

  • John Heffernan stars in Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer for the RSC. © Alastair Muir
    Permalink John Heffernan stars in Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer for the RSC. © Alastair MuirGallery

    Destroyer of Worlds: A closing speech to end all closing speeches?

Destroyer of Worlds: A closing speech to end all closing speeches?

Several weeks after the West End press night, I’m still thinking about Oppenheimer, which, after its premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company has transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre for a limited West End season (thank you, RSC).

I blogged separately about Tom Morton-Smith’s incredibly ambitious play in an earlier #TheatreDiary, but I wanted to […]

What I learned today: Why film noir is so prudish

I’m having trouble shifting my black mood since the 2015 General Election (what would Tony Benn say?!) so why not a suitably dark blog subject to match it? Let’s talk about film noir.

Film noir literally translates, from the French, as black film or film of the night. If you watch films from ‘the past’, […]

Benn, Bevan, Michael Sheen and the NHS: Who Cares?

My newfound Tony Benn obsession has also got me thinking anew about the “most dangerous” Labour man in Parliament before him: the Welsh politician and founder of the National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960).

And thinking of Bevan reminded me that I still hadn’t got round to blogging about actor Michael Sheen’s brilliant speech at […]

  • Tony Benn died on 14 March 2014
    Permalink Tony Benn died on 14 March 2014Gallery

    Articles, quotes, radio and film documentaries feeding my new Tony Benn obsession

Articles, quotes, radio and film documentaries feeding my new Tony Benn obsession

I knew embarrassingly little of Tony Benn before seeing Andy Barrett’s new play Tony’s Last Tape this past Sunday. (Read my separate blog on the production and interview with its star Philip Bretherton here.)

But since Sunday, boy have I been making up for lost time. After leaving the Bridgehouse, I’ve devoured obituaries and other articles […]

Tony Benn’s message for this Thursday: ‘Vote!’

After success at Nottingham Playhouse, Tony’s Last Tape has transferred to south London’s new fringe theatre, the Bridgehouse in Penge SE20, for a three-week run in election month.

I imagine that Labour Party faithful and others of a particular political persuasion have more pressing matters on their mind just at the moment. But I do […]

  • Christina Bianco joined fellow Forbidden Broadway co-stars Damian Humbley and Anna-Jane Casey in daring to go bare
    Permalink Christina Bianco joined fellow Forbidden Broadway co-stars Damian Humbley and Anna-Jane Casey in daring to go bareGallery

    Popular vs personal: How did my own choices fare against the #AlsoRecognised winners?

Popular vs personal: How did my own choices fare against the #AlsoRecognised winners?

On Monday, we announced on MyTheatreMates.com the winners of our inaugural #AlsoRecognised Awards.

The first year of these Awards has caught the imagination of the industry, the audience voters and the nominees and winners more than I had hoped to imagine. Your winners are lovely, truly lovely and appreciative. Just look how they’ve embraced – […]

  • Joe Layton and Jojo Macari in Jonathan Guy Lewis' A Level Playing Field at London's Jermyn Street Theatre. © Chris Coulson
    Permalink Joe Layton and Jojo Macari in Jonathan Guy Lewis' A Level Playing Field at London's Jermyn Street Theatre. © Chris CoulsonGallery

    My theatre diary: Three must-see new plays Clarion, Level Playing Field, Oppenheimer

My theatre diary: Three must-see new plays Clarion, Level Playing Field, Oppenheimer

In amongst the stellar West End revivals of late – not least “mother of all musicals” Gypsy with Imelda Staunton and David Mamet’s American Buffalo starring Damian Lewis and John Goodman – are some spectacular brand-new plays on and off West End.

Here are three in particular that I highly, highly recommend. The first two […]

  • Greg Hicks and Peter Bourke in Mark Jagasia's Clarion at the Arcola Theatre. © Simon Annand
    Permalink Greg Hicks and Peter Bourke in Mark Jagasia's Clarion at the Arcola Theatre. © Simon AnnandGallery

    Press pass: All you need to know about how Clarion dishes the dirt on the tabloids

Press pass: All you need to know about how Clarion dishes the dirt on the tabloids

I’m so proud of my friend Mark Jagasia, how could I resist pulling together one of my #PressPass round-ups for his debut play? Clarion premiered to rave reviews (really, see below) last week at the Arcola Theatre and is already tipped for a transfer.

When preparing this and today’s other Theatre Diary blog about Clarion, […]

  • John Goodman, Damian Lewis and Tom Sturridge American Buffalo, Wyndham's Theatre, London
    Permalink John Goodman, Damian Lewis and Tom Sturridge American Buffalo, Wyndham's Theatre, LondonGallery

    VIDEO, pics and press pass: Back to the 70s with Damian Lewis and John Goodman in American Buffalo

VIDEO, pics and press pass: Back to the 70s with Damian Lewis and John Goodman in American Buffalo

As Rolls Royce productions go, they don’t get much better than this. Homegrown screen and stage star Damian Lewis returning the stage after a six-year absence, and for the first time since Homeland made him a mega mega international star (after seeing him in this and Band of Brothers, my nephews in Chicago simply […]

  • Kevin Spacey gives his successor Matthew Warchus the thumbs up at the Old Vic
    Permalink Kevin Spacey gives his successor Matthew Warchus the thumbs up at the Old VicGallery

    Press pass: All the news, interviews and opinions on the Old Vic’s changing of the guard

Press pass: All the news, interviews and opinions on the Old Vic’s changing of the guard

Less than two days after the star-studded gala to bid farewell to Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic, his successor Matthew Warchus is making headlines with an inaugural year-long season and commanding statement of intent. It’s undoubtedly a whole new era down Waterloo way – the award-laden Young Vic down the road, be warned. […]

  • Under new artistic director Matthew Warchus, the Old Vic is poised for a very bright future
    Permalink Under new artistic director Matthew Warchus, the Old Vic is poised for a very bright futureGallery

    Matthew Warchus brings real star-quality – and a major rebrand – to his first season at the Old Vic

Matthew Warchus brings real star-quality – and a major rebrand – to his first season at the Old Vic

One of the most awkward moments at the Olivier Awards last week came during Kevin Spacey’s acceptance of his Special Award – when he forgot the name of his successor.

“As nice as this is,” said Spacey, Olivier in hand, “I don’t want to necessarily spend a lot of time looking back at the past […]

  • Is Imelda Staunton the best Momma Rose ever?
    Permalink Is Imelda Staunton the best Momma Rose ever?Gallery

    Press pass: ‘Once in a lifetime’ Gypsy extends with ‘pocket diva’ Imelda Staunton

Press pass: ‘Once in a lifetime’ Gypsy extends with ‘pocket diva’ Imelda Staunton

This morning, producers confirmed that – on the back of a shedload of new five-star reviews from last week’s West End opening – Jonathan Kent’s Chichester Festival production of Gypsy, “starring Imelda Staunton as the indomitable Rose”, has extended its booking until 28 November 2015 at the Savoy Theatre.

Having consumed the first shedload of […]

  • 1973: Angela Lansbury, in her last London stage appearance prior to Blithe Spirit in 2014, starred as Rose at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre, in a cast that also included Bonnie Langford as Baby June
    Permalink Gallery

    10 unmissable Mommas … that I nonetheless missed. How many have you seen?

10 unmissable Mommas … that I nonetheless missed. How many have you seen?

Is Imelda Staunton the best Momma Rose ever? She’s absolutely the best Momma Rose I’ve ever seen – but, then again, she’s also the only Momma Rose I’ve never seen.

Yes, my not-so-guilty confession is this: I’ve never seen Gypsy before…

I say that without much guilt because, incredibly, Jonathan Kent’s current critically acclaimed Chichester Festival […]

  • Kenneth Branagh's "Plays at the Garrick" stars Rob Brydon, Lily James, James Madden, Dame Judi Dench and Branagh himself. © Johan Persson
    Permalink Kenneth Branagh's Gallery

    Press pass: All the news, interviews, opinions (and booking) for Kenneth Branagh season

Press pass: All the news, interviews, opinions (and booking) for Kenneth Branagh season

Just days after Kevin Spacey gave his (literal) swansong when accepting his Special Award at the Oliviers, our own homegrown Hollywood star has announced his plans to take over a West End theatre as actor-manager.

As you will have noticed from the avalanche of coverage and quickening social media frenzy, Kenneth Branagh is back. Though […]

  • David Beckham, Prince William and David Cameron - or not? In William Gaminara's Three Lions
    Permalink David Beckham, Prince William and David Cameron - or not? In William Gaminara's Three LionsGallery

    My theatre (diversity) diary: Buyer, Lions, Harvey, Stevie and After Electra

My theatre (diversity) diary: Buyer, Lions, Harvey, Stevie and After Electra

At a recent post-show panel I hosted at The Father on the subject of “Women in the Arts”, Act for Change campaigner Stephanie Street shared a statistic that shocked me: currently, according to Stephanie, the average ratio of male to female roles in the West End is 10-1.

Could that really be true? Just ten […]

42 late theatre greats who we should stop and remember

The most moving moment for me every year at the Olivier Awards ceremony is the tribute sequence, during which the industry remembers colleagues who have passed away during the previous 12 months.

This year’s tribute was a musical one, with Julian Ovenden singing (beautifully) “Smile and the World Smiles With You”, accompanied by choir and […]

Watch & listen: Talking #Oliviers on Sky and Resonance FM

What were your red carpet memories from this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards?

A week before this year’s event on Sunday 12 April 2015, having been quietly dropped from the media invitation list since leaving WhatsOnStage, I wasn’t planning to get very involved in the furore this year – apart from, of course, watching the highlights […]

  • Angela Lansbury received a standing ovation at the 2015 Oliviers
    Permalink Angela Lansbury received a standing ovation at the 2015 OliviersGallery

    Oliviers: 23 priceless quotes and 8 more-than-words moments from the Royal Opera House

Oliviers: 23 priceless quotes and 8 more-than-words moments from the Royal Opera House

This afternoon I caught up with the ITV highlights programme of last night’s Olivier Awards. While quite entertaining, it’s no surprise that the telecast missed out a lot of good stuff – sometimes right in the middle of a quote. (Ahem, see Kevin Spacey, oh what’s his name… Matthew Warchus.) The TV version was […]

  • The "Drama Kings" photoshoot for The Times. © Robert Wilson
    Permalink The Gallery

    Suits you, Larry: Olivier lauded actors dress up and talk shop

Suits you, Larry: Olivier lauded actors dress up and talk shop

As a way of raising the glamour stakes ahead of this Sunday’s Laurence Olivier Awards, last Saturday’s Times Magazine’s cover story was a five-star effort.

For the piece, three out of four of this year’s Best Actor nominees – James McAvoy, Mark Strong (for The Ruling Class and A View From the Bridge, both of […]