Remembering the worst idea of all time: StageCon



Make it through the first nine circles of hell and you’ll find a bunch of average theatre people, in Shoreditch Town Hall, over a weekend taking selfies with millenials – for £160.

An idea, surely, no one in their right mind would pass off as entertainment or fan engagement.

The inaugural and ironically, probably last ever ‘Theatre Convention’ was just stupid and criminally naive. Looking back now, it’s obvious that in 2018 the industry is caught in the strange no man’s land between commercialism and exploitation.

StageCon, announced in August, was due to take place in November 3 and 4 at Shoreditch Town Hall in London. Sharon D ClarkeCarrie Hope FletcherMichael Xavier and Christina Bennington were among the stars set to appear, but today after backlash the organisers said some of the contributors had to pull out due to offers of professional work.

Translation: they got a better offer too.

The whole thing was not good. In fact it was the opposite of good. It was very, very bad.

Shed no tears, though, for StageCon or the rats jumping ship. Spread out over a long weekend, the point of StageCon was completely lost on me, but our interest was meant to be held by an ‘exciting programme of events.’

Where are we now? Well, this week Michael Xavier pulled out, for starters, the event was pulled from Shoreditch Town Hall’s website and today was officially ‘postponed’ until 2019.

Woah there, folks. Back up the truck.

True to form, It fooled absolutely no one, of course, least of all me. Of all the irritations that came with StageCon over the summer, it was the cost, partnership with the WhatsOnStage and smugness that got me the most.

Additionally, now United Theatrical will now be the sole organiser of the event. All ticket holders have been contacted and offered a refund or the option to transfer their ticket to next year’s StageCon, apparently.

A spokesperson today said: ‘The organisers are also keen to engage with those who have previously shared their feedback, in order that the community has the chance to contribute to an event created for the community, and that it has every opportunity to become a regular and celebrated fixture on the UK’s theatre calendar.’

That’s why the organisers kept defending, deflecting and denying any incentive to cash in. They got dumb and greedy, and quickly discovered, as was inevitable, that supply had outstripped demand.

This is not just my opinion, obviously. Almost everyone who has looked at the nuts and bolts of StageCon have concluded it’s not good enough.

Anyway, StageCon will be postponed until next year after feedback from fans. Don’t, however, rule out the possibility of a last-minute redemption.

I’m not exactly holding my breath here, though.

We live in nutty times.

UK’s Most Welcoming Theatres announced after record-breaking public vote

UK Theatre Awards

UK Theatre has announced the regional and national winners of the 2018 Most Welcoming Theatre award, after an unprecedented 56,000 votes were cast by members of the public.

Most Welcoming Theatre Winners 2018


Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

East Midlands

Buxton Opera House


Orange Tree Theatre

North East

Newcastle Theatre Royal

North West

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

Northern Ireland

Grand Opera House, Belfast


Pitlochry Festival Theatre

South East

The Mill at Sonning

South West

Arts Centre, Swindon


New Theatre, Cardiff

West Midlands

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Yorkshire and the Humber

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Part of the annual UK Theatre Awards, Most Welcoming Theatre is an opportunity for audiences across the country to celebrate their local theatre. All the regional and national winners will be invited to the Awards on Sunday 14 October at London’s Guildhall, where an overall winner will be announced.

In 2017, the overall winner was The Mill at Sonning.

Cassie Chadderton, Head of UK Theatre, said:

‘It is fantastic to see a record-breaking number of people all over the country casting votes in support of their local theatres this year. This award is a chance to recognise the importance of theatres as valuable cultural hubs, and the loyalty they can inspire by creating a fantastic audience experience – from friendly front-of-house service to engaging outreach projects and imaginative, entertaining programming.’

The full list of nominations for this year’s UK Theatre Awards can be viewed here.

For more information on the UK Theatre Awards and to book tickets to the ceremony visit the UK Theatre Awards website.

The UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award 2018 is sponsored by Theatre Tokens




The King and I: From The Palladium Cinema Trailer Released

The King And I

The multiple Tony award-winning Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I – currently enjoying huge West End success – is to be released in cinemas around the world this autumn by Trafalgar Releasing.  THE KING AND I: FROM THE PALLADIUM, filmed on stage at the iconic London Palladium, will open in cinemas for one night only on 29 November*.  Tickets are now on sale.

This unmissable majestic production, directed by Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher, first opened on Broadway in 2015 for a critically acclaimed 16 month run at The Lincoln Center Theater, this was followed by an unprecedented record-breaking sold out USA tour.  The show then transferred to the London Palladium in June this year, with the three original Broadway lead actors reprising their starring roles – Tony Award-winner (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for The King and IKelli O’HaraTony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe and Tony Award-winner (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for The King and IRuthie Ann Miles.  The London production continues to draw huge critical acclaim, smash box office records – including the biggest grossing week in the London Palladium’s history, taking £1,058,317.50 for an eight performance week, play to packed houses and receive nightly standing ovations.

With the announcement of November’s cinema release, even more theatre lovers across the globe will be able to watch “Broadway musical’s undisputed Queen (The Sunday Times) Kelli O’Hara take to the stage as Anna, Ken Watanabe in a “powerhouse” (The Times) performance as The King and the “powerfully moving” (New York Magazine) Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang in THE KING AND I: FROM THE PALLADIUM.

Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

With one of the finest scores ever written including; Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting to Know You and Shall We Dance, and featuring a company of over 50 world-class performers, THE KING AND I: FROM THE PALLADIUM is a testament to the lavish heritage of gloriously romantic musical theatre – it is the greatest musical from the golden age of musicals.


Five stars for a sumptuous King and I.  Book Now.  It’s a hit”


The Times 

“The evening belongs to Kelli O’Hara”


Sunday Express 

“We left the London Palladium on a bright cloud of music – joyous!”


Daily Mail


“Looks and sounds ravishing.  Complete rapture”


Daily Telegraph

“Simply spellbounding!”


Financial Times

“Without doubt the big, glitzy musical of the summer!”


“Fit for a King!”

 Daily Express


London Production of Hamilton welcomes new cast members for second year at the Victoria Palace Theatre


Producers Jeffrey Seller and Cameron Mackintosh have announced full casting for the London company of HAMILTON which is going into its second year at the Victoria Palace Theatre. The production is booking to 30 March 2019.

Jamael Westman continues as Alexander Hamilton, Tarinn Callender as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Hamilton,Jason Pennycooke as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson and Cleve September as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton.

From 3 December, original London cast members Sifiso Mazibuko will play the role of Aaron Burr and Courtney-Mae Briggs will play Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds.  Also continuing are Jade Albertsen, Curtis Angus, Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, Johnny Bishop, Jack Butterworth, Kelly Downing, Leslie Garcia Bowman, Gregory Haney, Leah Hill, Barney Hudson, Waylon Jacobs, Aaron Lee LambertPhoebe Liberty, Sharon Rose, Alexzandra Sarmiento and Lindsey Tierney.

Joining the company are Allyson Ava-Brown as Angelica Schuyler, Dom Hartley-Harris as George Washington and Jon Robyns as King George. At certain performances the role of Alexander Hamilton will be played by Karl Queensborough. They are joined by Robson Broad, Lisa Darnell, Joe Griffiths-BrownSinead LongEmile Ruddock and Ellena Vincent.

Between 17 December 2018 and 12 January 2019 the role of Alexander Hamilton will be played by Ash Hunter.

The Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning production of HAMILTON originally opened at the Public Theater in New York in 2015. Later that year, the Broadway production opened and, in December 2017, the London production opened at the newly re-built and restored Victoria Palace Theatre.

HAMILTON has book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire and is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton.  HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg and hair and wig design by Charles G. Lapointe.

HAMILTON is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and helped shape the very foundations of the America we know today. The score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway – the story of America then, as told by America now.

 Allyson Ava-Brown played Fantine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre.  Her other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream andAladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith, Etienne Sisters, Beauty and the Beast, Crowning Glory and Jack and the Beanstalk all for Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Villain’s Opera and Honk! The Ugly Duckling both for the National Theatre, Simply Heavenly at the Trafalgar Studios and Julius Caesar andAntony and Cleopatra for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Dom Hartley-Harris’ previous theatre credits include Moonfleet at the Salisbury Playhouse, Tiger Bay at the Wales Millennium Centre, Bat Out Of Hell at Manchester Opera House and the London Coliseum, Beautiful – The Carol King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre, Accidental Brummie for Birmingham Rep and Macbeth and Billy Young: A Life on Death Row for The Old Joint Stock.

Jon Robyns created the roles of Princeton and Rod in the London production of Avenue Q and played Marius and Enjolras in Les Misérables on stage at the Queen’s Theatre as well as taking part in the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 and the 25th anniversary Cast Recording.  He was last on stage in the UK tour of The Wedding Singer and his previous theatre credits include Legally Blonde at the Curve Theatre, Road Show for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Spamalot at the Harold Pinter and Playhouse Theatres and Memphisat the Shaftesbury Theatre.


Karl Queensborough has recently appeared on stage in Sylvia at The Old Vic and can next be seen in White Teeth at the Kiln Theatre.  His previous theatre credits include The Little Matchgirl for Shakespeare’s Globe/Bristol Old Vic, Aladdin, Cinderella, Dick Whittington and Jack and the Beanstalk for the Lyric Hammersmith,  A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes for the Tricycle Theatre, The Machine Stops  for the Theatre Royal York/Pilot Theatre, Only the Brave  for Soho Theatre/Wales Millennium Centre/Bird Song, Morning for the Lyric Hammersmith/Traverse Theatre, Student 365for the National Theatre of Scotland and Ignition Out of Reach for Frantic Assembly.

Full ticketing information can be found on the official website at hamiltonmusical.com which includes details of the HAMILTON West End £10 daily Lottery. Patrons are advised to check the official HAMILTON channels for news of late release seats which may become available at short notice.   The producers of HAMILTON are working to combat the unauthorised profiteering of third-party resellers and ticket touts.  Delfont Mackintosh Theatres has pioneered for the West End a paperless ticket system for this production – HAMILTON Paperless Ticketing, powered by Ticketmaster.

HAMILTON is produced in London by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill FurmanThe Public Theater and Cameron Mackintosh.

Smash-hit Twelfth Night comes to Bristol Old Vic

Twelfth Night
Shakespeare’s most loved comedy is heading to Bristol Old Vic (17 Oct – 17 Nov), following a trailblazing run at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. After Bristol Old Vic’s first collaboration with the Royal Lyceum, the smash-hit, five-star sensation Touching The Void (“Tom Morris’ most accomplished project since War Horse” – The Telegraph, ★ ★ ★ ★ ★), Twelfth Night marks the two leading theatres’ second co-production. Lyceum Associate Artist Wils Wilson (The Strange Undoing Of Prudencia Heart) directs this “hedonistic house party” (The Guardian, ★ ★ ★ ★) with “visual richness, passion, poetry and thought” (The Scotsman, ★ ★ ★ ★).

This celebration of love in all its forms tells the story of Viola and her twin as they wash up on the shores of Illyria, sparking a gender-bending night of mischief and mayhem. Desire and grief collide in a heady cocktail as hidden emotions are aroused in a quartet of lovers. But their frivolity is tinged with cruelty, as the puritanical Malvolio – transformed for a time into a Technicolor alter-ego – is humiliated and abandoned; a man marooned, left behind by a generation he will never understand.

The bacchanalian shenanigans use Welsh Music Prize winner Meilyr Jones’ bold and beautiful compositions as their engine, intertwining early music with contemporary tones. The cast includes multi-award winning performer and writer Christopher Green as Malvolio, Lisa Dwyer Hogg (People, Places and Things, Silent Witness) as Olivia and Guy Hughes (The Little Match Girl) as Andrew Aguecheek.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “A triumph of the psychedelic imagination” (The List)
★ ★ ★ ★ Magnificent… powerful and hugely entertaining.” (The Stage)
★ ★ ★ ★ A groovy kind of love awaits” (The Herald)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ A roaring success” (Just For Culture)

Stagecon Postponed Until 2019


The organisers of StageCon, the UK’s first convention for theatre fans throughout the UK and Europe, have announced they are postponing the event until 2019, passing control to United Theatrical as Producer and General Manager.  StageCon was originally planned to run over the weekend of 3 & 4 November at Shoreditch Town Hall in London.

 When StageCon was announced in August, the organisers were overwhelmed by the responses they received.  It was clear this was an event that fans of theatre were excited about, but, at the same time, they have realised that the ticket pricing necessary to cover the costs of the event was too high for some, particularly younger members of the community.

 James Yeoburn, the UK General Manager for StageCon, said, “StageCon is an event that offers a great opportunity for fans from across the UK and the rest of Europe to come together in London to celebrate the magic of theatre.  All involved in the event continue to keep this community celebration at heart.  We have listened to the feedback received in the weeks since launching and recognise that ticket prices and lead time have prohibited many of the most loyal fans from being able to attend.  It is important that we acknowledge that feedback, and work with our industry partners to make the requisite changes to allow for greater accessibility.  We are sorry to not have the chance to share the exciting programme of events and performances developed for November, but look forward to presenting this with ample notice for next year.  United Theatrical are delighted to be leading the StageCon that everybody has waited for, including us!”

 The organisers are also keen to engage with those who have previously shared their feedback, in order that the community has the chance to contribute to an event created for the community, and that it has every opportunity to become a regular and celebrated fixture on the UK’s theatre calendar.

 In addition, some of the previously announced contributors are now unavailable 3 & 4 November due to their being offered professional work which has taken priority. The organisers have therefore decided to take more time to ensure that audiences benefit from a strong and varied programme of productions, actors, creatives and theatre makers who can participate in 2019.

 “It is imperative that StageCon reaches its full potential for the UK’s theatre community, and we must prioritise that over all else,” James added.

 All ticket holders have been contacted and offered a refund or the option to transfer their ticket to next year’s StageCon.

National Theatre of Scotland launches Futureproof today



Scotland’s first nationwide international festival of theatre and performance created by young people in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018

 Young Scots work with UK and international theatre companies from South Africa, Russia, Canada, Germany, Australia and Belgium to create 10 new pieces of work and present it in 10 locations across Scotland: Glasgow, Moray, Edinburgh, Polmont, Paisley, Dundee, Fife, Highlands, Aberdeen, Shetland, Ayrshire.

 Futureproof, the National Theatre of Scotland’s festival marking Scotland’sYear of Young People in 2018, launches today, Friday 28thSeptember. The festival, created by young people working alongside some of the biggest global names in theatre-making and a host of the best Scottish talent, will see ten productions and over 75 performances take place in ten locations across the country between 28 September and 28 October 2018. Tickets are now on sale.

Young people have influenced where and how all the performances will be staged, with locations including Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution Polmont; Aberdeen beach; within the galleries of the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; Haroldswick Hall in Unst; the Bonar Hall in Dundee; Rothes Halls in Fife, the Ayr Gaiety, Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, Mareel in Shetland and throughout the streets of Elgin and Forres.

Futureproof includes learning theatrical engineering from the legendary, radical Russian theatre AKHE, inspired by the life and works of Alexander Bell and about their ancestors in Shetland from the Canadian experts in social-specific performance events, Mammalian Diving Reflex; young men in HMP & YOI Polmont being asked questions about identity and inheritance by socially engaged Scottish practitioners, Glas(s) Performance, and teenagers creating and performing in their own music video with Australian theatre investigators Back to Back in Dundee.

For full list of productions visit:


Futureproof is supported by The Year of Young People Event Fund, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, Scottish Power Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Theatre of Scotland, said:

 Futureproof will unleash young Scottish creative energy across the nation.  This international festival places radical participatory theatre practice at the forefront of theatre-making in Scotland whilst celebrating young people’s place in our society and at the heart of cultural life. We want to open up the possibility of what the future of theatre could look like whilst offering audiences a nationwide festival of unbridled exuberance and talent. We are delighted to be part of Year of Young People 2018 and this commitment to Scotland’s youth is carried through our 2018 programme of work.”

#NTSfutureproof   #YOYP2018   @NTSonline

Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Welsh join Arinzé Kene to announce ‘Misty’ extension

Arinze Kené in Misty © Helen Murray
Arinze Kené in Misty © Helen Murray

Arinze Kené in Misty © Helen Murray

Actors Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Welsh joined Arinzé Kene on stage to announce that ‘MISTY’ will extend its run at Trafalgar Studios until 17 November 2018 due to phenomenal demand.

Following its sold-out run at the Bush Theatre and critical acclaim in the West End, Arinzé Kene’s MISTY ‘The most important cultural experience in British theatre right now’ (BBC), will extend its run at London’s Trafalgar Studios due to phenomenal demand.  Originally due to end on 20 October, the production will now play until 17 November.

Last night actors Daniel Kaluuya (Oscar nominated in 2018) and Anthony Wise (The Brothers Size at The Young Vic, The Barbershop Chroniclesat the National Theatre) joined Kene on stage to celebrate the most talked about show in the West End which has been acclaimed for its success in attracting new audiences into the West End with its mix of theatre, gig and performance-poetry.  Photo here. 

Speaking after the show Kaluuya said ‘I love Misty. When Arinzé asked Anthony and I to host a night around it, we wanted to celebrate it and get as many people talking about it as possible.

MISTY by Arinzé Kene

Directed by Omar Elerian

Designed by Rajha Shakiry

Lighting design by Jackie Shemesh

Sound design by Elena Peña

Video design by Daniel Denton

Dramaturgy by Kirsty Housely and Stewart Pringle

Performed by Arinzé Kene

Musical Directors / Musicians – Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod

Little Girl – Mya Napoleon / Rene Powell / Sedonna Henok


at Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2DY






★★★★ METRO





★★★★★ CITY AM




Arinzé delivers an epic, heartfelt and playful exploration of creative freedom, set against a pulsating vision of modern London.Misty is directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (NASSIM, One Cold Dark NightIslands) and features an original musical score performed live during the show.

Theatre Icon Chita Rivera to play London Concerts in Feb 2019



A theatrical icon and one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned 10 nominations, won twice and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Returning to London, Chita Rivera will play just TWO concerts at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square at 230pm and 630pm, Sunday 10th February 2019. Tickets are on sale immediately from www.club11.london/chita

The incomparable Chita Rivera will recreate signature moments from her legendary career and collaborations with her special guests including numbers from West Side Story; Sweet Charity; Chicago; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Bye, Bye, Birdie; The Rink; The Visit and more.  In addition to a special tribute to her dear friends John Kander & Fred Ebb, the timeless music of Leonard Bernstein, Charles Strouse & Lee Adams, Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim will also be featured.  Ms. Rivera will be accompanied by an orchestra led by her long-time music director Michael Croiter.

On coming to London, Chita Rivera said “I am so happy to be returning to my favourite town…so many memories, West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Spider Woman, Palladium.  And now Cadogan Hall.  Can’t wait!” 

Chita has performed many of her iconic Broadway roles in London including West Side Story, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Bye Bye Birdie.

A versatile actress/singer/dancer, she recently starred in The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway, the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age nine) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Chita’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful.  On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba, Can-Can with The Rockettes. Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002.  In November, 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing

Tickets are available from www.club11.london/chita

Chita Rivera is presented in London for this engagement by Darren Bell for Club 11 London, Dan Looney and Adam Paulden for DLAP ENTS & Yael Silver.