• Old Friends shouldn't mean there's no room for new friends
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    Conversation with Caitlin Moran: 11 things I’ll never do again + the importance of new friends

Conversation with Caitlin Moran: 11 things I’ll never do again + the importance of new friends

It’s week three of my non-theatrical blog challenge and I’m having to revise my goal already. Previously, I gushed about my hope that my efforts would lead to the wonderful Caitlin Moran taking notice of me and begging me to become her best friend. Well, as she made clear in her Times column this […]

Photos: Go See post-show Q&A with the legendary Sondra Lee

You may not have heard of octogenarian Sondra Lee, but you should have. This petite lady is a legend – and I had the privilege of chairing a Q&A with her along with Peter Tate and Lauren Fox, who star in Sondra’s world premiere production of Norris Church Mailer’s Go See last night at […]

10 things you should never say to a copper (c/o Wildefire)

A note in the programme for Wildefire, Roy Williams’ new play about the perils of modern-day policing at Hampstead Theatre, deftly summarises the public relations problem that the police force faces today. Titled “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy Note”, the piece is written by Brian Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commission of The […]

How to make your professional stage debut, aged 53

Take me out to the ballgame… There’s a lot of new talent on show in the Landor Theatre’s boisterous revival of 1955 Broadway baseball musical Damn Yankees, but I must declare a personal interest in the cast’s oldest newcomer: 53-year-old Gary Bland.

I’ve known Gary and his wife Deborah for many years. They were regulars […]

All by myself: Solo theatre at the Face to Face Festival

Four of the nine Festival Highlights shows I worked on in August were solo pieces. And over the years of visiting the Edinburgh Fringe, I estimate that at least 60% of all those shows I’ve seen there have been solos – and that’s not including any stand-up.

Personally, I love a good solo piece. […]

  • Charles Spencer takes early retirement after 25 years as Daily Telegraph theatre critic
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    Charles Spencer, Mark Shenton, Tim Walker and the “strange world of theatre critics”

Charles Spencer, Mark Shenton, Tim Walker and the “strange world of theatre critics”

When the Daily Telegraph announced yesterday that Charles Spencer is retiring after 25 years as the newspaper’s theatre critic, there was an outpouring of appreciation for Charlie on Twitter: his long service, his astute opinions, his coins of phrase (Nicole Kidman = “pure theatrical Viagra”) and his public battles with his personal demons (alcoholism […]

  • Benjamin Scheuer and Terri Paddock at The Lion post-show Q&A, 27 Aug 2014. © Peter Jones
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    Photos and podcast: The Lion post-show Q&A with Benjamin Scheuer

Photos and podcast: The Lion post-show Q&A with Benjamin Scheuer

As I mentioned in my Theatre Diary today, I cannot recommend Benjamin Scheuer’s The Lion highly enough. This is a beautiful one-man musical about a boy and his father and how that boy became a man and fell in love with playing music.

Last night, after being blown away by the 70-minute performance, I had […]

The long and winding road to Employment Tribunal

When Mark Shenton was dismissed as critic from the Sunday Express last December, it was the talking point of the theatre industry, particularly after he blogged for The Stage about the sensational reason for and the manner of the dismissal. Next week, his case against his former employer will be heard in a five-day […]

Shakespeare and chocolate combine in Sweet Theatre bars

Any chance of dieting this month went out the window with the arrival of this beautiful care package of Sweet Theatre’s Shakespeare’s Leading Ladies chocolate bars.

Sweet Theatre is the brainchild of Sally Humphreys, a theatre producer and keen confectioner. For many years, Sally has been the cupcake maker of choice for West End openings […]

  • Giorgio Adamo stars as Siddhartha in Siddhartha, the Musical at the Assembly Rooms, 2014 Edinburgh Fringe
    Permalink Giorgio Adamo stars as Siddhartha in Siddhartha, the Musical at the Assembly Rooms, 2014 Edinburgh FringeGallery

    A day in the life of Edinburgh’s busiest TSM (do you know what a TSM is?!)

A day in the life of Edinburgh’s busiest TSM (do you know what a TSM is?!)

As part of my recent Festival Highlights Challenge, I had the pleasure of meeting – and, for 24 hours, effectively stalking – Sarah Quinney at the Edinburgh Fringe. Sarah is a Technical Stage Manager for Festival Highlights, one of the Fringe’s most prolific and consistent theatre producers. Every day from 30 July to 25 […]

Producer cries foul on ATG after free tickets request

What chutzpah! Producer David Johnson’s reaction to a request from ATG, the UK’s largest theatre owning group, for complimentary tickets to his production of Fascinating Aida’s Charm Offensive at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is extraordinary. It shows the frustration of independent producers feeling the squeeze. I reprint Johnson’s letter to ATG’s Peter Evans in full… And […]

Embarking on my Edinburgh Festival Highlights adventure

In London, five shows a week is a serious haul. In Edinburgh, that’s small fry. When I was reviewing in Edinburgh, I could easily do twice that in a day.

This year, this week, I’m experiencing the festival from a different perspective. I’ve been working with producer James Seabright and Festival Highlights, guest-editing content on […]

Mobile switch-off: My role in the Theatre Charter movement

Have you lost count how many times a mobile has gone off when you’re at the theatre? I have. And I marvel at the timing. Doesn’t it always seem to be at a quiet, crucial moment of performance?

In truth, what’s started to annoy me even more than mobiles ringing – it is possible accidentally […]

  • Just the type: Forbes Masson, Martin Freeman, Philip Cumbus, Jo Stone-Fewings in Richard III
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    Why is Jamie Lloyd and Martin Freeman’s Richard III set in a 1970s open-plan office?

Why is Jamie Lloyd and Martin Freeman’s Richard III set in a 1970s open-plan office?

When the production shots for Richard III were first released earlier this week, showing that director Jamie Lloyd had located the Bard’s bloody history play in a 1970s office block, my interest was piqued.

After seeing the show at Tuesday’s opening night, my first reaction was to describe the resulting effect as “Get Carter meets […]

  • Jersey Boys stars Ryan Molloy, Philip Bulcock and Stephen Ashfield in the film Everybody Knows My Name
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    The Jersey Boys‘ lost song (and VIDEO): Reminted by original London four

The Jersey Boys‘ lost song (and VIDEO): Reminted by original London four

Clint Eastwood eat your heart out. While the Jersey Boys big screen release has received lukewarm reviews, I’m giving a massively big thumbs-up to a small screen release featuring the stage musical’s original four West End stars.

Everybody Knows My Name is the brainchild of actor Philip Bulcock, who played The Four Seasons’ Nick Massi […]

Wanted: Small Asian children for Miss Saigon

Do you have a small, confident, South-East Asian-looking child? If so, Jo Hawes is looking for you. My interest was piqued when I attended Miss Saigon recently at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre.

On the cast credits page of the programme, just below the notification about American stars Eva Noblezada (who plays Kim) and […]

When did you catch the theatre bug? (VIDEO)

Every theatregoer has their own story about what and who turned them on to theatre. For me, growing up in the United States, it all started with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Years later, after moving to London, I got to meet him and work for his company, the Really Useful Group.

This video blog – using […]

  • Sonia Friedman is on a roll with Oliviers and Tony success
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    Hey, Ms Producer! Sonia Friedman leads the growing ranks of female producers

Hey, Ms Producer! Sonia Friedman leads the growing ranks of female producers

Maybe it’s because I’m considering trying my own hand at producing and the universe is sending me encouragement, but everywhere I look at the moment, I see female producers.

On Sunday night, the powerhouse that is Sonia Friedman takes another shot at Tony Awards glory in New York, where her transfers of the Shakespeare’s Globe […]

  • The cast of Urinetown also had blood rain down on them
    Permalink The cast of Urinetown also had blood rain down on themGallery

    Don’t ride the Tube with blood on your face… Urinetown‘s company manager explains

Don’t ride the Tube with blood on your face… Urinetown‘s company manager explains

David Curl, company manager of Urinetown at St James Theatre, recalls the challenges of working with so much stage blood. The show is now aiming for a West End transfer, venue still to be announced.

I first had to use a large amount of blood onstage in a tour of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling in […]

  • Harriet Walter takes the title role in Henry IV, directed by Phyllida Lloyd at the Donmar Warehouse
    Permalink Harriet Walter takes the title role in Henry IV, directed by Phyllida Lloyd at the Donmar WarehouseGallery

    Who owns Shakespeare? Phyllida Lloyd and Harriet Walter lay claim for women

Who owns Shakespeare? Phyllida Lloyd and Harriet Walter lay claim for women

“Julius Caesar rocked my world,” says Donmar artistic director Josie Rourke. She isn’t talking about the play alone, but rather Phyllida Lloyd’s acclaimed all-female production, which Rourke programmed at the Donmar Warehouse in late 2012-early 2013 before transferring it to New York for a run at St Ann’s Warehouse.

Now director Lloyd is reuniting with star […]

  • Angela Lansbury keeps conjuring at the West End's Gielgud Theatre until 7 June 2014 only
    Permalink Angela Lansbury keeps conjuring at the West End's Gielgud Theatre until 7 June 2014 onlyGallery

    Noel Coward in three events: Blithe Spirit, Relative Values and Tonight at 8.30

Noel Coward in three events: Blithe Spirit, Relative Values and Tonight at 8.30

You only have three more weeks to catch Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre. Michael Blakemore’s production – and, more specifically, Angela Lansbury’s performance in it as dotty clairvoyant Madame Arcati – is undoubtedly one of the theatre events of the year.

The “eventfulness” of the occasion has little to do with the play. The […]

  • Just grab a chair for a simpler, meditative mind-break
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    What I learned today: Five-minute meditation for dummies (you DON’T have to sit like this!)

What I learned today: Five-minute meditation for dummies (you DON’T have to sit like this!)

Learning meditation is one of those things I’ve had on my life to-do list for years. I have several friends who swear by it and who have been to multiple escape-way-out-of-London retreats where they do NOTHING but meditate – well, and sleep and eat, but no talking, reading or writing – for days on […]

  • Wonder Woman knew how to strike a high-power pose
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    What I learned today: How to feel more powerful in two minutes

What I learned today: How to feel more powerful in two minutes

Even if you’re not a great reader of it, you will know that your body language communicates volumes to others. First impressions are formed in less than ten seconds and, overall, the actual content of what we say to someone will only comprise about 11% of the message they take away about us after […]

What I learned today: How to care for someone with delirium

Yesterday, I told you about what’s been happening with my father, who slipped into an extended Delirium following knee replacement surgery. For the family, seeing a loved one in Delirium can be highly distressing, but for the sufferer, it can be absolutely terrifying, and that terror can increase their confusion. Their best chance at […]

  • After a knee replacement, my father spent two weeks in hospital suffering from post-operative delirium
    Permalink After a knee replacement, my father spent two weeks in hospital suffering from post-operative deliriumGallery

    What I learned today: The difference between delirium and dementia – and how it can affect your parents

What I learned today: The difference between delirium and dementia – and how it can affect your parents

(Preface: After a two-week, medically-necessitated hiatus, I’m able to resume my learning blog challenge – with a serious topic. I urge you to read this one, especially if you have elderly parents facing an operation at any point in the future.)

On Tuesday 1 April 2014, I launched my personal “What I Learned Today” blog […]

  • Jesus has left the building at the 'godless' Sunday Assembly services
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    What I learned today: How to get the best bits of church with pop songs and no mention of God

What I learned today: How to get the best bits of church with pop songs and no mention of God

Having just posted about St Paul’s Cathedral, it may seem a little odd to immediately follow up with an apparently “anti-church” blog, but I did warn you that my topics, and the scheduling of them, would be random as part of this month’s challenge! So here goes on today’s… I have many deeply religious […]

Old versus young actors and audiences: Home Sweet Home

Every subsidised theatre, as well as PR and social media savvy commercial producers, has an audience development agenda. Though the idea, of course, is to make theatre accessible to all, including ethnic minorities and disabled groups, the lion’s share of the outreach attention and effort is directed at getting young people into theatre. (Ticketmaster’s […]

  • Roger Lloyd Pack
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    Roger Lloyd Pack won’t be resting in peace – he’ll be singing

Roger Lloyd Pack won’t be resting in peace – he’ll be singing

When a loved actor dies, those of us in the business mourn the person as well as the future performances that we’ll now never see. And we reflect on past performances and, if you’re a journalist, what they were like in past interviews.

It is received wisdom that actors and journalists – interviewees and interviewers […]