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Alright, theatre needs a kick up the arse

Wind In The Willows

Most of the West End and supporting media is populated by the manliest men with manliest tastes, who only produce or consider the existence of theatre because they need to tick boxes and make what they perceive to be easy cash.

No wonder so much theatre is so joyless. It got me thinking…

You see the size of the task dear old Stiles and Drewe set themselves when producer Jamie Hendry decided it would be a good idea to put one of the best loved children’s stories of all time on the biggest stage in London and they should write the music. Naturally, they wrote 20 songs.

The good news, though, is that this is a brand new British musical. (An exotic bird in the woods of the West End). The bad is that, in line with the tide of right-on idiocy that is overwhelming British Theatre, (see: Freddie Flintoff cast in Fat Friends The Musical/ Louise Redknapp in Cabaret & John Partridge in La Cage Aux Folles, I could go on) someone thought that Julian Fellowes would be a good candidate to white-wash and straight-wash The Wind in the Willows.

It’s all too easy, however, to get side-tracked by the visual assault of Rachel Kavanaugh’s production when you’re watching this stage version of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s novel slowly, slowly unfold with a ‘celebrity’ cast that is going through the motions. Cringe-making embarrassment, though, isn’t restricted to Hound and co.

The whole thing is a mess.

There is no cohesive vision in The Wind in the Willows; it lacks depth that would give it savour. ‘Property is theft!’ is blathered at some point. You won’t be singing or dancing your way out of the building – that’s for sure.

I can’t remember much else to be honest.

I don’t need to labour my contempt for it too much, however, as the merchandise for that matter, says it all.

As horrendous as it all may sound for you reading this online – shows like this are actually a lot less appealing in the flesh. Worse still, the show includes veiled attacks on the poor, clumsy class politics, a 3 hour running time and a woozy design.

Anyway, I propose that:
1.Theatre like this is not pandered to.
2.Shows like this are *largely* ignored.
3.Commercial junk written and produced and performed by a largely all-white cast are left to get on with it in private, away from the West End and hard-up families.

Basically, theatre needs to work harder. I don’t care if it’s a new musical. There needs to be a rethink – audiences deserve much better when they are paying these kinds of prices.

Just think of my manifesto as having builders in. A lengthy stretch of hellish with (mostly) white men you don’t know making a lot of noise as they destroy everything you once held dear. But then, when it’s all over, you’re all set up to have a massive dinner party.

Naturally I will be here throughout the whole fiasco, and continue to find the good bits of theatre — whether they’re fashionable or not.

Full casting announced for new British musical The Wind in the Willows at the London Palladium

Hit musical Wicked extends to 26 May 2018, now the 17th longest running show in London Theatre History

Suzi Mathers
Suzi Mathers

Suzi Mathers ©Matt Crockett. Click on the image to book your tickets!

WICKED, the West End musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is pleased to announce the opening of its 23rd new booking period at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, with tickets now on sale until Saturday 26 May 2018.

Acclaimed as “one of the West End’s true modern classics” (Metro), WICKED is now the 17th longest running show in London theatre history and recently celebrated a decade of performances at the Apollo Victoria Theatre where the “hugely popular show” (The Times) will shortly welcome its 8 millionth theatregoer. Around the world, WICKED has now been seen by over 50 million people in 15 countries, and won over 100 major awards.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR WICKED

From 30 January 2017WICKED will star Willemijn Verkaik (Elphaba), Suzie Mathers (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Sue Kelvin (Madame Morrible), Mark Curry (The Wizard), Martin Ball (Doctor Dillamond), Sarah McNicholas (Nessarose), Idriss Kargbo (Boq), Alice Fearn (Standby for Elphaba) and Carina Gillespie (Standby for Glinda).

Based on the acclaimed, best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

WICKED has music and lyrics by multi Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Disney’s PocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted) and is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire and adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman. Musical staging is by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento and the production is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello.

WICKED is produced around the world by Marc PlattUniversal Stage ProductionsThe Araca GroupJon B. Platt and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK) Michael McCabe.

Through its FOR GOOD programme and other charitable endeavours, WICKED is proud to support the remarkable work of the following UK charities: Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA); the Cybersmile Foundation; the Helen Bamber Foundation; the Rainbow Trust Children’s CharityStonewall‘s ‘Education For All’ campaign; The Woodland Trust and the National Literacy Trust. Further information can be found at www.WickedForGood.co.uk

Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG

Official UK websitewww.WickedTheMusical.co.uk

 Twitter: @WickedUK  |  Facebook: /WickedUK  |  Instagram: @WickedUK

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Billy Porter and Stark Sands with the Kinky Boots London cast

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Winner of Gypsy DVD lucky draw DeeDee Doke “I’ve loved “Gypsy” since I was a little girl. It’s all about ambition and reaching for the stars — in any way you can.”

DeeDee Doke

We ran “Win a Gypsy DVD” contest on the website in  November. The Gypsy DVD – courtesy of Universal Pictures. We are absolutely delighted with the level of response that the contest generated both  on the website and on our twitter handle. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who signed up to participate in the lucky draw.

DeeDee Doke

DeeDee Doke

In our effort to look at our theatre audiences beyond the “theatre audience” we put a few questions to our winners.  Having readers’ perspective about theatre and their love for theatre is both  enlightening and inspiring. Needless to say DeeDee did not disappoint. We hadn’t imagined our GYPSY DVD lucky draw would throw up someone so completely immersed, captivated and in love with British Theatre in general and Gypsy to boot.

Here’s how the Q&A  with her went…

Carl’s website 
Sophisticated, aesthetically pleasing site; I particularly like the use of images and how they’re played, and the images themselves. The content is crisp, not too dense or ‘luvvie’. I look forward to its further growth and  development.

Theatre, musicals and more 
I was introduced to theatre and musicals as a toddler, and nothing excites me as much as the opening of an onstage curtain – I love the enhanced reality, the storytelling, and with my favourite musicals, songs that I both love to hear and sing. My favourite form of entertainment — theatre, whether ‘straight plays’ or musicals. I love being in the audience; I also love performing.

Why Gypsy and what about Gypsy  
I’ve loved “Gypsy” since I was a little girl. It’s all about ambition and reaching for the stars — in any way you can. I loved the power, the style, the glamour and the amazing human story of thwarted and vicarious ambition. Every single song is so strong. And omigod, what an overture! I love the vehemence of “Rose’s Turn” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, and the wistfulness of “Little Lamb”. What characters — Rose of course, Herbie, Miss Mazeppa the Stripper, and Gypsy/Louise herself. When Louise is transformed into Gypsy, there’s such a sense that Louise has finally found her destiny, and she’s helpless to stop it — even if she wanted to, which I don’t think she does.

Favourite song from Gypsy
My favourite “Gypsy” soundtrack: I thought nothing could ever overtake the original Ethel Merman soundtrack, but the latest featuring Imelda Staunton is just staggering. I think her interpretations of Rose’s songs are my favourite but I love Sandra Church’s rendition of “Little Lamb”.

Me and British Theatre  
I can hardly put it into words. I love British theatre, revel in every production I see — whether it’s effective or not — and believe it is giving rise to some of the world’s most imaginative and revelatory productions of plays old and new. I feel so lucky to get to experience it first-hand. It’s truly one of the finest gifts we offer the world.

 

The end.

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Your chance to win a Gypsy DVD -Competition closed, Winner announcement soon

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

http://www.rasaint.net/ - Glitter Graphics

THE COMPETITION IS CLOSED. WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT SOON

Well, it’s that time of the year when I would like to run a GYPSY competition and, as luck would have it, Universal Pictures have chucked a DVD my way in order to draw attention to the fact that GYPSY is available to buy on DVD and digital download from November 28.

In order to stand a chance of winning all you have to do is submit your email address in the sign up bar below. The promo is being run for UK residents only.

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Awarded with an Olivier Award® for her role as Momma Rose, Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, The Harry Potter Series) gives “the performance of her career” in Jonathan Kent’s dazzling revival. Lara Pulver (Edge of Tomorrow, Spooks), reprises her “stunning” role as Louise and they are joined by Peter Davison (Law and Order: UK) as Herb, in this gloriously entertaining musical fable that features show stopping choreography from Stephen Mear.
Gypsy is based on memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous striptease artist back in 1957, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “the ultimate show business mother”. It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life.
Featuring the classic songs “Let Me Entertain You,” “Rose’s Turn” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne, this moving and scintillating production of Gypsy was the first to be seen in London for 40 years.

And that is that.

Stephen Schwartz Musical Receives European Premiere at Southwark Playhouse in 2017

Working The Musical

The European Premiere of WORKING will open at Southwark Playhouse on 7 June 2017, with previews from 2 June, for a strictly limited season ending 8 July 2017.

From the book by Studs Terkel

Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, the creators of Godspell and Rags

With additional contributions by Gordon Greenberg

Songs by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers & Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartzand James Taylor

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd

Directed by Luke Sheppard

Choreographed by Fabian Aloise

Casting to be announced

 

Working The Musical

Working The Musical

WORKING is the extraordinary genre-defining musical from Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz(Wicked, Godspell) based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with the American workforce: Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.

 This highly original and universal portrait of the American workday is told from the perspective of those that the world so often overlooks – the schoolteacher, the housewife, the fireman and the waitress amongst many – whose daily grind and aspirations reflect the truths of the people that make up a nation.  WORKING employs a range of musical styles and genres from contributing composers, including five-time Grammy Award-winner James Taylor and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights).

WORKING is being produced by up-and-coming theatre producers Jack Maple, Ramin Sabi & D.E.M. Productions.

CHECKOUT OUR THEATRE TICKETS – FESTIVE OFFER HERE 

Stephen Schwartz said of his new producers, “I am delighted that such a talented and distinguished theatre company will be presenting WORKING in London. I look forward to collaborating with them to ensure that the show is both entertaining and relevant to the contemporary British audience.”

Stephen Schwartz is best known for writing and composing the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning musical Wicked. Other shows for which he wrote music and lyrics include PippinThe Baker’s Wife and Children of Eden. In film, he collaborated with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted, as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and wrote the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt.  Schwartz has won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards and has been nominated for six Tony Awards.  He received the 2015 Isabelle Stevenson Award, a special Tony Award, for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent.

Luke Sheppard directed the Olivier Award-winning production of In the Heights (King’s Cross Theatre and Southwark Playhouse), for which he was nominated for Best Director at the Whatsonstage Awards, Night Must Fall (UK Tour) Stig of the Dump (UK Tour), Casa Valentina (Southwark Playhouse), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (Curve, Leicester) and the forthcoming European premiere of Peter and the Starcatcher (Royal & Derngate, Northampton).  Luke is the Associate Director of Matilda (Stratford-Upon-Avon, West End, Broadway).

WORKING first opened on Broadway in 1978, under the direction of Stephen Schwartz, with a cast including Patti LuPone, Bob Gunton, Joe Mantegna, David Patrick Kelly and Rex Everhart. The show has since undergone several revisions, with additional songs by Lin Manuel Miranda being introduced in 2009. WORKING was last performed off-Broadway in December 2012, under the direction of Gordon Greenberg (Holiday InnGuys and Dolls, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris).

The new production at Southwark Playhouse will have choreography by Fabian Aloise. Fabian was most recently resident choreographer on Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre, and Associate Choreographer on the Australian production. Prior to this, Fabian was Associate Choreographer to Arlene Phillips on We Will Rock You in Belgium, and Associate Choreographer to Ann Reinking for US and International tours of Fosse. He choreographed The 24 Hour Musical At The Old Vic for Kevin Spacey and Jamie Lloyd, and Off-West End productions of Bright Lights Big City and The Drowsy Chaperone. Fabian will be choreographing the upcoming UK National Tour of Our House.  Casting will be by Will Burton CDG. It is performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited.

LISTINGS INFORMATION

2 June – 8 July

Southwark Playhouse

77-85 Newington Causeway

London SE1 6BD

Performance Times:

Monday – Friday 7.30pm

Saturday 3.00pm & 7.30pm

N.B Tuesday 4 July – Additional matinee at 3pm

Tickets: £25 and £20 concessions (from £14 during previews)

Box Office:  020 7407 0234

Website:  southwarkplayhouse.co.uk  / www.workingthemusical.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthwarkPlayhouse

Twitter: @swkplay

 

Disney’s The Lion King Announces Next Dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance for June 2017

The Lion King

Disney UK today announced that its production of THE LION KING will hold a dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance on Sunday 4 June 2017 at 1:30pm. This follows the success of previous such performances designed to make the show more accessible for those affected by autism. In line with the announcement they have released a short video here looking at how the Autism-Friendly Performance is created. Tickets are now on sale.

The Lion King

The Lion King

Disney’s THE LION KING staged the West End’s first dedicated Autism-Friendly Performance in April 2013, working closely with The National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for autistic people and their families. THE LION KING has now staged three such performances in London and one in Edinburgh during the show’s UK tour.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK. Although everyone on the autism spectrum is different, people may be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely challenging. They can also find social situations and unexpected changes a challenge, which can sometimes lead to extreme levels of anxiety.

Understandably, a visit to a musical on the scale of THE LION KING in London’s busiest theatre could prove an overwhelming experience for a significant number of people in the UK who are autistic.

These dedicated Autism-Friendly Performances of THE LION KING include modifications to the booking process, performance and the theatre environment, including:

  • The theatre’s foyer includes designated quiet and activity areas; staffed by experts in autism throughout the performance should anyone need to leave their seats
  • Slight adjustments are made to the performance itself, including the reduction of jarring sounds or strobe lighting that face the audience
  • The cast of THE LION KING along with Lyceum Theatre box office and front of house staff have been given training to understand the needs of an audience made up of adults and children who are autistic
  • A specific website has been set up for this performance, linking to a dedicated booking page. The website includes a downloadable ‘visual story’ to help people with autism understand the process of a visit to the theatre, thus aiding their comprehension of the experience and reducing anxiety by explaining each step from arriving in the foyer to the final curtain call

Audience members can find out more information and purchase tickets at www.lionkingautismfriendly.co.uk.  Tickets are sold at a specially reduced rate and can be selected on a virtual map of the auditorium.

Disney’s award-winning musical THE LION KING is now in its 18th triumphant year at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in London on Tuesday 19th October 1999, THE LION KING has entertained over 13 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s best-selling stage production. It is currently the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.Tickets are currently on sale until 30th April 2017 for individuals and 1st October 2017 for groups.

Julie Taymor’s internationally-celebrated stage adaptation of Disney’s beloved animated film premiered on Broadway in 1997 and has now been seen by more than 85 million people across six continents. Nine productions are running concurrently around the globe. In addition to the record-breaking productions in London and New York, The Lion King can currently be seen in Hamburg, Madrid, Tokyo, Mexico City, Shanghai, Scheveningen and on tour across North America.

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THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MUSICAL GYPSY IS AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD AND DVD 28TH NOVEMBER 2016

Gypsy DVD Cover Image
Guess what: 2015’s GYPSY is out to stream and on DVD soon.
It’s a really, really brilliant musical on film.
This film does not just feature one of the greatest musical theatre performances of all time, it features THE greatest musical theatre performance of all times. Imelda etc etc and so on.
Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Awarded with an Olivier Award® for her role as Momma Rose, Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, The Harry Potter Series) gives “the performance of her career” in Jonathan Kent’s dazzling revival. Lara Pulver (Edge of Tomorrow, Spooks), reprises her “stunning” role as Louise and they are joined by Peter Davison (Law and Order: UK) as Herb, in this gloriously entertaining musical fable that features show stopping choreography from Stephen Mear.

Gypsy is based on memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous striptease artist back in 1957, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “the ultimate show business mother”. It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life.

Featuring the classic songs “Let Me Entertain You,” “Rose’s Turn” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne, this moving and scintillating production of Gypsy was the first to be seen in London for 40 years.

Let there be no doubt about this: ‘GYPSY’ is, as all musical theatre should be, simultaneously absolutely astounding and absolutely majestic.

Don’t believe me? Just watch this EXCLUSIVE clip.

Coming soon: Keep your eyes peeled for a chance to win a copy of GYPSY on DVD!