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? […]
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 […]
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 – […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
A few thoughts on musical productions I’ve seen recently, with my on-the-night tweet thoughts further below.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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; […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
I lost track of the number of times that people told me Moby Dick! is “bonkers” on […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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. […]
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) […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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
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 […]
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), […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 – […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 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 – […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 – […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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’ […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
(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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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’, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 – […]
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, […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
All good things must come to an end. Last night was the third and final post-show panel discussion in the series that I’ve programmed and hosted around Jagged Fence’s new production of The Father, starring Alex Ferns. While I’m sad the series has finished (it was such invigorating fun!), I’m happy to say that […]
In case you didn’t know it, 2015 marks the centenary of Arthur Miller’s birth, and what a ripe old time it is for this giant of 20th-century American drama here in Britain.
After last year’s incendiary in-the-round production of The Crucible, starring Richard Armitage at the Old Vic, Ivo van Hove’s award-laden A View From […]
In today’s other blog post, I’ve been raving about the OTHER current offering of A View From the Bridge on at the moment: Stephen Unwin’s production for Touring Consortium, starring the brilliant Jonathan Guy Lewis (a very different Eddie Carbone to West End wonder Mark Strong’s).
As I disclosed, I’m loosely connected to Touring Consortium’s View, as I […]
When Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013, she remained alive and well in two West End characterisations, neither particularly flattering.
In Billy Elliot The Musical, during the “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher” set-piece, her giant Spitting Image-style head loomed large above a group of festive miners, one kitted out in a trademark Iron Lady blue […]
I’m still reeling after the thrillingly heated and thought-provoking panel discussion I hosted last night at Trafalgar Studios 2. This was the second in a series of post-show events I’ve programmed around issues and themes raised in Jagged Fence’s explosive new production of Strindberg’s The Father, starring Alex Ferns.
We set a high benchmark with last […]
Taking over from Paul Kerryson as the new artistic director at the Curve in January, Nikolai Foster is causing waves not only in Leicester but up and down the country thanks to two simultaneous and very different productions: Beautiful Thing and Calamity Jane. Guest contributor Glenn Meads caught up with him…
Nikolai Foster’s CV
Nikolai Foster […]
The inaugural #LoveTheatre day back in November caused quite a stir. Theatre – and more specifically #lovetheatre – was trending up and down the country.
Now, here we are today, the 54th annual World Theatre Day (or, like with like, #WorldTheatreDay) and you’d hardly know it. More than five decades in, you’d think that World […]
Last summer, Jamie Lloyd’s Trafalgar Transformed production of Richard III attracted negative press for the alleged bad behaviour of young Sherlock fans come to (loudly and at inappropriate moments) cheer on leading man Martin Freeman.
From my own experience seeing the play, the only bad audience behaviour I witnessed was from a pair of fifty-something […]
How far have we come with feminism since August Strindberg was writing in the 1880s? “About halfway,” said Polly Toynbee on Monday night at Trafalgar Studios, in the first of a series of post-show panel discussions I’ve programmed and am hosting around Jagged Fence’s explosive new production of Strindberg’s The Father, starring Alex Ferns and […]
I had a curious but highly enjoyable afternoon this past Friday, when I dropped in on lovely chappies Tim McArthur and Nathan Matthews, presenters of the weekly Curtain Up show on London radio station Resonance FM.
Initially, I’d been invited in to talk about the launch of the My Theatre Mates website as well as the […]
Last year, Tooting Arts Club’s site-specific Sweeney Todd – staged in Harrington’s, one of London’s oldest pie shops – topped myriad critics ‘best of #theatre2014’ lists. And, with its new iteration bringing it to a (slightly) wider audience, I reckon it’ll top many more best of lists for #theatre2015 – including mine.
“For any community […]
For the last General Election, on 6 May 2010, I went to a party at the Paramount Club at the top of Centrepoint. All night we waited up, for no dramatic climax, no result.
This time round, I can’t imagine that any self-respecting, remotely politically minded, theatre lover will want to be anywhere but crammed […]
In the years that I ran WhatsOnStage, the site’s Discussion Forum, a.k.a. “The Board”, was often the bane of my life.
Producers would pull me aside on press nights to complain about it – insiders were revealing secrets about their shows that they shouldn’t be, they lamented; competitors were dishing dirt on their shows and […]
Reporting from Manchester, my guest contributor Glenn Meads recently met up with director-producer James Baker, who is making waves at The Kings Arms in Salford. Londoners, take note. Great theatre happens elsewhere too…
James Baker’s CV
Artistic director James Baker has been fundamental in developing The Kings Arms Theatre into a thriving fringe venue in the […]
For all the planning and preparation I’ve been doing with Mark Shenton over the past few months, even I am a little taken aback by the response to our launch yesterday of MyTheatreMates.com and the Also Recognised Awards, including the UK’s first-ever award for Best Musical Direction.
I couldn’t be more delighted, and, on the […]
I was touched and heartened by the outpouring to the news last week that I finally won my unfair dismissal claim against the new owners of WhatsOnStage. Amongst many of those responses was a very frequent question: what am I up to next?
First, let me please assure you, apart from litigation, I have been […]
I offered my own take on yesterday’s 2015 Laurence Olivier nominations yesterday. But my view is only one, of course. The shortlists announcement was live-streamed across myriad platforms and attracted international headlines. So how did other commentators interpret the shortlists?
Well, angles are varied, but they largely break down into the following five main thrusts:
The biggest surprise for me at today’s Olivier nominations event at the ritzy Rosewood London hotel was just how much this event has grown in a few short years.
Celebrating nominees: you’re all beautiful
I remember so well when I held the first WhatsOnStage Awards Launch Party back in 2002. I believed then, as I still […]
Updated 1 April: New speakers now added for “Women in the Arts” debate on Tuesday 7 April – London Evening Standard chief arts correspondent Louise Jury and writer-director-feminist Fiona Laird …
I just love a good post-show Q&A and, frankly, I miss doing them as often as I used to in my WhatsOnStage days. My firm belief is that a […]
On St David’s Day, Sunday 1 March 2015, Welsh actor Michael Sheen gave the performance of his life. Not at the National Theatre or any of the world stages (and screens) that he has graced, but in the pouring down rain at a political rally in the small town of Tredegar in Wales, birthplace […]
The Off-West End play has very much been the thing for me in the past few weeks of theatregoing. Here are five (four of them brand-new plays) worth squeezing into your theatregoing calendar this month – and when I say this month, I do mean this month.
As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, […]
Two-time Tony Award-winning bio-musical Beautiful, based on the early life and career of singer-songwriter Carole King, received its West End premiere at the Aldwych Theatre last night. What did the critics and other press say about the show, leading lady Katie Brayben and King’s own emotional curtain call? All here – plus my own […]
If I had a bigger flat with lots of nice empty walls, I’d be ringing Hampstead Theatre and putting my name on a waiting list for some of the props in the current production of Peter Souter’s romantic comedy Hello/Goodbye.
In it, Shaun Evans plays Alex, “a lister, a filer, a collector”, who unpacks boxes […]
VIDEO: Damian Lewis on 7 reasons you should see American Buffalo and co-stars John Goodman and Tom Sturridge
I’m getting just a tad excited about this revival of David Mamet’s 1977 classic American Buffalo. In this interview trailer, star Damian Lewis talks more about Mamet, the play, his co-stars John Goodman and Tom Sturridge, and director, and former drama school classmate, Daniel Evans.
Damian Lewis on American Buffalo in 7 key quotes
Damian on […]
According to Caitlin Moran, people are divided according to “two diametrically opposite sets of belief” about how to load a dishwasher. But what about those of us who don’t own a dishwasher?
It’s week nine of my blog challenge to respond to my favourite columnist Caitlin Moran on various (largely) non-theatrical subjects of her choosing. […]
My former Northwest Editor at WhatsOnStage.com, Glenn Meads, recently met up with Willy Russell, whose iconic play Educating Rita has “come home” to Liverpool Playhouse this month to celebrate its 35th birthday.
The anniversary production of Russell’s two-hander is directed by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse artistic director Gemma Bodinetz and stars native Liverpudlians Leanne Best […]
I’m a little embarrassed for Caitlin Moran this week, and quite a bit embarrassed for The Times newspaper overall. Let me explain…
So it’s week eight of my blog challenge to respond to my favourite columnist Caitlin Moran on various (largely) non-theatrical subjects of her choosing. You can read more about why I started doing […]
The infinite variety of theatre in London means you can be laughing at the theatre one night, crying the next night. Or, when it’s really powerful, alternating between both on the same night. In my companion Theatre Diary piece, I shared some of the comedies I’ve enjoyed recently. Now I turn to the top-notch […]
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a sucker for memorable #quotes. I think that’s one of the reasons I adore theatre so much: great dialogue. Whenever I see a show – first night, last night, press night, whenever – I always have my pen and notebook at the ready. That’s not to […]
I’ve had a heavy schedule of plays over the past few weeks, including quite a few comedies, many of them with deep, dark cores. (For dramas I’ve seen recently, see my companion Theatre Diary piece.)
As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order. Note, the first – not the least bit dark – finishes […]
It’s week six of my blog challenge to respond to my favourite columnist Caitlin Moran each week. These blogs, unlike 99% of what I write and tweet, are meant to be non-theatrical, but with a topic like cats, you’ll forgive me – and Andrew Lloyd Webber – a few minuscule digressions.
You can read more […]
Since I started writing about theatre in 1996, I’ve had the privilege of attending four world premieres of Tom Stoppard plays – well, actually, six if you break a trilogy into its component parts.
As a very fledging correspondent, I was totally mystified by the Greek and Latin lessons of The Invention of Love, at […]
If you read my Best of the Best of #theatre2014 round-ups a few weeks ago, you may have been able to predict most of the winners of the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, announced today at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. That’s with the possible exception of Best Actress, which based on the […]
It’s week five of my non-theatrical blog challenge to respond to my favourite columnist Caitlin Moran each week. And – thank goodness with tax return deadlines looming at the end of the week – this is one I didn’t have to think too hard about because it’s on a subject she and I have […]