Category: musical

Your favourite festive film is now a major n…

Your favourite festive film is now a major new musical adapted for the stage by Debbie Isitt, the creator of the much-loved films.

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette’s School they’re attempting to mount a musical version! Only trouble is teacher Mr Maddens has promised that a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show to turn it into a film. Join him, his teaching assistant the crazy Mr Poppy, hilarious children and a whole lot of sparkle and shine as they struggle to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true.

Feel –good, funny and full of yuletide joy, Nativity! The Musical features all of the favourite sing-a-long hits from the films including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth, One Night One Moment, She’s the Brightest Star and a whole host of new songs filled with the spirit of Christmas!

With the cast including West End favourites Daniel Boys (Avenue Q), Sarah Earnshaw (Wicked, Spamalot) and Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, Guys and Dolls), Nativity! The Musical is the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

So join us this Christmas for some MAYHEM in Bethlehem!

Tickets available here: https://www.eventimapollo.com/events/detail/nativity-the-musical

King of Ghosts – Globe Music’s Latest RecordingMusician Soumik…

King of Ghosts – Globe Music’s Latest Recording

Musician Soumik Datta’s original score will be released on Globe Music.

In the new recording, the composer and sarod player performs his reimagined score to the 1968 Satyajit Ray film, King of Ghosts, with the City of London Sinfonia, featuring percussionist Cormac Byrne and conducted by Bill Barclay.

Audiences have marvelled at the explosive film score which was played by orchestras all over the world in 2017 and finally arrived in the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in June with two evenings of live music that formed part of our Festival of Independence. 

The performances were later recorded in the same space, in high-quality studio conditions, recapturing the intimacy and vibrancy of the original performances.

On Friday 17 November, King of Ghosts will be available exclusively through The Globe. You’ll be able to download via GlobePlayer or purchase the physical CD from our shop.

From Friday 5 January, King of Ghosts will also be available to buy and download via other outlets.

Read about Globe Music >>

Read about Soumik Datta >>

Photography: Pete Le May

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Meet the Romantics Anonymous Assistant Director, Laura KeefeI’m…

Meet the Romantics Anonymous Assistant Director, Laura Keefe

I’m Laura – I am the Assistant Director on Romantics Anonymous which is currently playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what I do!

My job is to assist Director Emma Rice and look after the show when it’s up and running. Within the company we have two actors who will understudy all the parts and cover if anyone goes off sick. Part of my role is rehearsing the understudies and making sure they are ready should they need to go on. Once we’re open, I watch the show on a regular basis and give notes to the actors.

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As well as this, one of my main responsibilities on the show has been updating the script as we go along and keeping all creatives up-to-date with any changes made. 

The Globe put a fancy writing program on my laptop so I would be able to edit the script as we went along. It is crucial that everyone in the room is working with the same page numbers so that everyone is quite literally ‘on the same page’. 

This is also vital for the Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) who is in charge of ‘the book’. The book is a marked up script of the show with all sound and lighting cues on it, and details all the actors’ moves on stage including entrances and exits.

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When working on a new musical, A LOT of script changes happen. This is partly due to the number of writers and collaborators on the show. 

This piece is adapted from an original screenplay by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband by Emma Rice with lyrics by Chris Dimond. 

Throw into the mix a bunch of amazing actors with plenty of insight and interesting ideas, and that’s a lot of room to change!

If you want to come and see our show, you have until 6 January to catch it.

Book tickets >>

Photography: Steve Tanner

Son of a Preacher Man – Stoke-on-Trent

Three broken hearts, one Soho hang-out, and the only man who could ever help them…  

Son of a Preacher Man follows a trio of characters: Kat (Diana Vickers), Alison (Michelle Long) and Paul (Michael Howe) all at a crossroads in life and all looking for love. They take their search to London to find The Preacher Man, proprietor of a legendary 60s music shop, home of all things groovy and from where guidance and advice were sought from the legend himself. Of course, the shop is now a run of the mill coffee house managed by Simon (Gary Mitchinson), the Preacher Man’s Son and a trio of musical (and colourful) waitresses called the Cappuccino Sisters (Cassiopeia Berkely-Agyepong; Rachel McAllister and Jess Barker). Simon is convinced to help these characters sort out their relationships and in doing so we are taken on a modern journey through the music of Dusty Springfield with digital technology references; dating apps and different kinds of love.  

Overall, the book by Warner Brown isn’t very strong, there are some odd cringe worthy, forced one liners and dialogue that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. However unusual storyline to once side, the creative vision for this production is simply awesome.  

Led by Craig Revel Horwood (Director/Choreographer) the cast of 14 actor/musicians bring the numbers to life with such skill that it is impossible not to smile. It is hard to believe that all 14 multi-talented performers act, dance, sing and play multiple instruments, but they do so with ease.  

There are many standout performers including: Vickers in her role as Kat from Rotherham, who shows off her belting vocals to numbers that are absolutely suited to her style. EllieJane Goddard as multiple characters who showed us she has a real talent for multiple instruments, and Howe in his role as Paul, with a strong voice and energy.  

‘I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself’ was the number that pulled at my heart strings. Performed in perfect three-part harmony by McAllister; Goddard and Liam Vincent-Kilbride as ‘The Singles’ and a total picture of just how lonely the world can be in this modern age of dating.  

However, for me the standout performances of the night came from the two Swings who understudied for the absent Debra Stephenson and Ian Reddington. Long gave a powerhouse performance as Alison, a teacher who has fallen in love with one of her students. She demonstrated complete control vocally and a faultless performance. You would never believe that she was an understudy.  

Similarly, Micthinson in the title role of Simon (Son of a Preacher Man) was strong, controlled and totally believable as a Principal character.  

Morgan Large (Set and Costume Designer) excelled in this production with a skilful creation that perfectly complimented the story line in every sense. A fully moving and set that worked seamlessly between different scenes and locations, complimented by lighting by Richard G Jones (Lighting Designer), the stage was a visual treat for the eyes.  

Clever sets and lighting; well-choreographed dancing and brilliant music, Son of a Preacher Man is everything you want from a musical. Yes, the quality of the story line is questionably weak, but that can be forgiven because everything else about this is just superb.

The UK tour of Our House continues around venues until the end of the year: http://sonofapreachermanmusical.com  

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 10th October 2017  

This review was originally written for North West End. North West End Rating: ★★★★

http://www.northwestend.co.uk/index.php/professional-reviews/the-midlands/2475-son-of-a-preacher-man-regent-theatre-stoke

Our House – Blackpool

Our House is a fast paced, Olivier Award winning jukebox musical that first hit the UK in 2002 and showcases the music of the band ‘Madness’ with a coming-of-age, romantic comedy story line. This is the fourth countrywide tour of this show since leaving the West End, this time brought to us by an Immersion Theatre Company and Damien Tracey Productions partnership and featuring some well-known celebrity faces.  

The story of ‘Our House’ takes its influences from many different well know sources including ‘Blood Brothers’ and the movie ‘Sliding Doors’. Essentially the relationship between the good and bad choices we make in life and what might happen if we travel down a different life path, presented in a quirky split narrative format. Ironically this production of the popular musical also raises some questions about the good/bad choices of the production team.  

Without doubt the best choice was to bring Fabian Aloise on board as Choreographer. The big ensemble numbers: ‘Our House’, ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘Wings of a Dove’ were lively, energetic and completely carried the show. Some really complex choreography, expertly executed by a talented ensemble cast. The Fosse inspired ‘Embarrassment (Reprise)’ also known as ‘Encouragement’ was to a standard usually reserved for bigger West End productions and was quite mesmerising.  

It’s always a risk to cast an inexperienced, celebrity performer such as George Sampson (Reecey) into a big musical production. Unfortunately, on this occasion it wasn’t a risk worth taking. Sampson is the wrong performer for this role. Whilst he is clearly a skilled street dancer (although street dance is randomly out of place within Our House story line), Sampson lacks the vocal and acting abilities to create a stage presence worthy of bad boy Reecey. With whispery dialogue, and a Northern accent he completely missed the character profile and got lost on the stage amongst his colleagues.  

One such colleague is Callum Mcardle in the role of Dad. Mcardle is seasoned musical theatre professional and delivered note, clear perfect vocals throughout and brought the role of Dad to life. 

Frances Dee (Swing), Lottie Henshall (Ensemble) and Michael Nelson (Swing) also gave brilliant performances throughout and consistently drew attention away from some of the weaker Principals with their energy and commitment to their broad range of characters.

The true star of any Our House production is the performer tasked with playing the role of main character, Joe Cassey. This is a high demand, athletic role that requires the triple threat and an ability to change costumes quickly and within sometimes confirmed spaces. Jason Kajdi (Cassey) did not let us down and held the show with ease in the palm of his hand. He is a sturdy, powerhouse performer and played Joe Cassey with great comic timing that won the audience over. 

Deena Payne, the other headline name, unfortunately looked uncomfortable and miscast as Kath Cassey, the shows matriarch character. A generally underwhelming portrayal.  

Lighting (Tim Deiling), Set (David Shields) and Sound (Chris Whybrow) presented significant issues throughout. Performers were poorly lit and often stood in partial shadows or complete darkness. Sound quality was variable with missed cues and unequal microphone volumes. However, the biggest issue of the night was the Set with several clunky/noisy scene changes and a disastrous back stage view for at least half of the Blackpool audience during ‘Tomorrows Just Another Day’ that completely ruined the Good Joe / Bad Joe illusion as we watched performers change into their prison costumes overseen by a lady with a torch in her mouth. This is totally unacceptable for professional theatre and needs to be addressed quickly by the creative team.  

It’s a real shame that Kajdi wasn’t placed at the headline of this show in favour of better known (celebrity) performers who quite frankly failed to hold their own and let the overall production down. That said the overall enthusiasm of the cast makes this production a success and if a few early technical teething problems (and possibly some recasting) can be resolved it may grow into a hit show.  

The UK tour of Our House continues around venues until the end of the year: http://www.ourhousetouruk.com

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 09th October 2017    

This review was originally written for North West End. North West End Rating: ★★★

http://www.northwestend.co.uk/index.php/professional-reviews/lancashire/2469-our-house-opera-house-blackpool

Romantics Anonymous in RehearsalThis Friday sees the opening of…


The Romantics Anonymous company in rehearsal. Photo by Steve Tanner.


Marc Antolin (Ludo), Lauren Samuels (Ensemble), and Joe Evans (Ensemble). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Marc Antolin (Ludo). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Joanna Riding (Mother/Magda). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Marc Antolin (Ludo), Gareth Snook (Mercier), and Joe Evans (Ensemble). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Carly Bawden (Angelique). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Nigel Lilley (Music Supervisor), Jim Henson (MD) and Joanna Riding (Mother/Magda). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Marc Antolin (Ludo), Carly Bawden (Angelique) and Gareth Snook (Mercier). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Marc Antolin (Ludo), Joe Evans (Ensemble), Dominic Marsh (Jean-Rene) and Carly Bawden (Angelique). Photo by Steve Tanner.


Carly Bawden (Angelique), Dominic Marsh (Jean-Rene), Gareth Snook (Mercier), Natasha Jayetileke (Suzanne/Mimi), and Joe Evans (Ensemble) . Photo by Steve Tanner.

Romantics Anonymous in Rehearsal

This Friday sees the opening of our new musical in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Romantics Anonymous!

Here’s a sneak peek of the cast in rehearsals – you can find more photos over on Facebook.

Find out more about the show >>

Photography by Steve Tanner

Cilla, The Musical – Liverpool

In 2014 multi award-winning writer Jeff Pope treated UK television audiences to a breath-taking biopic of Cilla Black, starring actress Sheridan Smith. The audience reach for the first episode made it ITV’s highest rated drama debut of that year and it of course went on to be nominated for (and then win) multiple awards.

Fast forward 3 years, and Bill Kenwright (Producer/Director) brings ‘Cilla – The Musical’, an adaptation of the critically acclaimed TV series to Cilla’s home town of Liverpool for its first performances before embarking on a lengthy UK and Ireland tour.  

Pope’s musical, just like the TV show is an entertaining account of the early life of a national treasure. It celebrates the thriving culture of Liverpool in the Sixties, when hundreds of artists were playing venues across the City and developing their unique Merseybeat sound. It also celebrates the late Cilla Black who got her big break at the Cavern Club where she worked and where she met The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein who ultimately launched her iconic career.

There was certainly a lot of hype about this musical before it opened. Following weeks of highly publicised open auditions at venues up and down the country the producers of ‘Cilla – The Musical’ announced they had identified their Cilla. Kara Lily Hayworth was named as the actress who was to play the musical and TV legend after multiple auditions including a live performance at the Cavern Club.

Executive Producer and Son of Cilla Black, Robert Willis is quoted as saying: “We wanted somebody who wasn’t going to impersonate my mum but someone who could capture her spirit… when I saw the response of the audience at the Cavern, I knew she was the one my mum would have wanted!”

Hayworth is undoubtedly a talented performer who is likely to go far in her career. Trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, she is no stranger to the stage and musical theatre and performed her socks off throughout singing Cilla Black’s cherished hits including: ‘You’re My World’, ‘Alfie’ and ‘Something Tells Me’.

In my opinion, the first few numbers performed by Haworth: ‘Zip-a-dee Doo Dah’ and ‘Chime Bells’ didn’t quite land well and cast some initial doubts on the rest of the production. Set in a busy Cavern Club and supported by on-stage Big Three band, Hayworth seemed to get swallowed up Kenwright’s stage direction. It all seemed a little too busy and the ensemble dancing with their backs to the audience distracted from Hayworth’s vocals.

However, once the scenes moved out of the club setting and into the studio, Hayworth seemed to relax into her role and the crescendo of the Act One finale ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ was simply breath-taking and a real breakthrough moment for the production bringing the audience to their feet even before the song had finished.

Hayworth is joined on stage by several principal colleagues and a large supporting multi-role ensemble cast that brought to the production enthusiasm and energy, and supported the principle cast excellently. Cilla’s parents are skilfully brought to life with lots of humour by Pauline Fleming and Paul Broughton, and The Beatles are portrayed well vocally by Bill Caple, Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins and Alex Harford.

Carl Au gave a very confident and skilled performance as Bobby Willis, Cilla’s boyfriend (and future husband) with a perfect mix of humour; stage presence and vocal talent. His duet with Hayworth ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ was haunting and his solo, ‘A Taste of Honey’ was brilliant.

Another highlight performance is credited to the Actor who played The Mammas and the Pappas Denny Doherty for ‘California Dreamin’. Unfortunately, this Actor isn’t credited in the programme for this number but should absolutely take a bow for one of the stand out; epic vocal performances of the night.

Technically, this is an epic production with lots of scene; costume and instrument changes. Unfortunately, sound (designed by Dan Samson) was a big issue for this performance, particularly sound cues throughout dialogue and songs. From the start, it seemed like there were missed cues and many lines of script were unfortunately clipped by poor microphone coverage.

Gary McCann’s set design was spectacular with huge scale recreations of the Cavern Club, the London Palladium and Sixties era TV studios that transported the audience back in time. Supporting McCann’s set was a visually pleasing lighting design by Nick Richings with huge lighting arches and what seemed like hundreds of rigged lights to compliment the on-stage action.

So final verdict, did ‘Cilla – The Musical’ do Liverpool proud?

The adapted musical version of Cilla doesn’t quite pack the same gritty punch as it’s TV inspiration. Pope’s multi-layered TV script showed audiences the truth of working class life in Liverpool, spattered with religious tensions and lots of drama. ‘Cilla – The Musical’ whilst certainly entertaining, approaches the same content in a lighter, glitzier and more humorous manner which unfortunately, in my opinion loses some of the texture of the true story.  

Hayworth certainly has a real strength and maturity to her singing voice that shone through clearly in her portrayal of the title role, but if I’m honest, I’m not certain that she truly captured the spirit of Cilla. She played the role a little meeker than you would expect, never really showing the raw grit and drive that we all know the legend possessed. However, I suspect that Hayworth will quickly grow into this role and make it her own in no time at all, a potential star of the future and therefore definitely a production that is recommended so you can say that you were “there at the birth of a star”.

The UK tour continues around venues throughout 2017/18: www.cillathemusical.com

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin
Reviewed: 08th September 2017  

This review was originally written for North West End. North West End Rating: ★★★★

http://www.northwestend.co.uk/index.php/professional-reviews/liverpool/2362-cilla-the-musical-empire-theatre-liverpool

The world premiere of a brand new musical that will simply sweep…

The world premiere of a brand new musical that will simply sweep you off your feet! ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ is based on the Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere. Its feel-good soundtrack includes the hit song from the movie ‘Up Where We Belong’ along with many 80s classic anthems.

With direction by Nikolai Foster, choreography by Kate Prince and musical supervision by Tony Award-winning Sarah Travis. This inspiring, breathtakingly romantic musical celebrates triumph over adversity and features one of the most iconic romantic scenes ever portrayed on screen. Let Love Lift You Up where you belong!

Click here for tickets: www.officerandagentlemanmusical.com

Hershey Felder’s Our Great Tchaikovsky is a time-bending tale of…

Hershey Felder’s Our Great Tchaikovsky is a time-bending tale of music, politics and one of the world’s most beloved composers. Known for the beautiful ballets Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and the ferocious and melodic brilliance of his symphonic works, piano concerti, overtures, operas and chamber music, a healthy 53-year-old Tchaikovsky conducted the premiere of his enigmatic Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique” and, nine days later, he was dead. To this day, how and why he died is still a mystery.

An award-winning actor and musician Hershey Felder created and directed last season’s sell-out hit, ‘The Pianist of Willesden Lane’ and now returns direct from an acclaimed US Tour with his unique and moving blend of piano virtuosity and musical biography.

Click here for tickets: www.theotherpalace.co.uk

Les Enfants Terribles bring their multiple award-winning show,…

Les Enfants Terribles bring their multiple award-winning show, The Terrible Infants to the magical surroundings of Wiltons Music Hall for the first time.

Based upon a series of twisted tales, this fantastic spectacle blends puppetry, live music and story-telling into a highly sensory theatrical feast suitable for big kids and small grown-ups! Featuring narration from Dame Judi Dench.      

Roald Dahl meets Tim Burton in this hugely theatrical, funny, sad, silly, junk-filled, puppetry packed, dark, delicious, magical piece of performance.

This unforgettable 10th anniversary production follows the huge success of The Trench, The Vaudevillains and the Olivier Award-nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground.