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Bloody hell: A Monster Calls, The King and I, The Jungle, Bring it On and Young Frankenstein

A Monster Calls

Sally Cookson’s brilliant and touching staging of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls is currently at the Old Vic, London. There were many moments of genius, in the direction and delivery of this gorgeous production. It’s another lovely, solid effort from one of Britain’s most enduring directors. There is something seriously lovely about the coiled rope and choral beauty that explodes into propulsion and colour – and its ambition is matched only by its beauty. Take Kleenex.
THE KING AND I

THE KING AND I

The Tony-Award winning Lincoln Center Theater production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein epic The King and I is currently gracing The London Palladium for a limited engagement. Powered by the lung-busting magnificence of Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe’s star-power, respectively. The show-within-a-show in the second half does drag. But the dazzling spectacle and the skill of the performers on display is enveloped in designer Michael Yeargan and costume designer Catherine Zuber’s glorious work. I haven’t seen this much Gold Leaf since Follies.
Millennials will have only experienced the musical via the 1956 film. Yes, inert, and yes, problematic, yadda yadda, and, indeed creaky at times but at the heart of the sumptuous story is the struggle between modernity and tradition and production values. This is a unique showcase for the talent of many young actors of Asian ethnicity, too. The King and I is epic, timeless and superb.
Fun fact: the tiniest child in the small army of the King’s children is less than a metre tall. Adorable.
THE JUNGLE

THE JUNGLE

Is there a show that has had as much critical acclaim as The Jungle? First seen at the Young Vic last year, this vibrant migrant-crisis drama has moved into the West End. Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin’s production gets straight down to business placing us in the heart of an Afghan Café. Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s remarkable, rackety play is cleverly conceived; distinctively different. To that end, this kind of theatre is hard to get right but they do and the incredible company of performers bring the refugee crisis closer to home, making it more personal and difficult to ignore.
The essential grit in the oyster, though, is that towards the end, the whole narrative occasionally overestimates how much of a damn normal people give about politics and the charity appeal isn’t as clever as the creative team imagines. In fairness, none of that really matters, The Jungle is a harrowing reminder that everyone has a story worth telling.
I really tried to hate Bring it On – The Musical, but resistance is futile; it had me at “Being a cheerleader is like being a marine: you sign your life away.” It’s hard to resist this giddy musical based on the cult teen comedy. With songs by Lin-Manuel-Miranda and Ewan Jones’s choreography and direction give the whole show a lift. This originally premiered in 2011 on Broadway and the now the British Theatre Academy have brought it to Southwark Playhouse. Many of these bright young things will certainly go into the profession.
The chief glory of the show is Robyn McIntyre as Campbell, the captain of her high school team and vows revenge on her rival. A first-rate ensemble bless things with a remarkable energy, excellent comic timing and touching vulnerability. A predictable feelgood story but Bring it On is a blast, simply.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

I will miss Young Frankenstein. The show has a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, and music and lyrics by Brooks, and tells the story of Frederick Frankenstein who inherits his grandfather’s castle in Transylvania.
Both times I’ve watched it – Brooks’ horror movie spoof has felt grotesquely pertinent to the #MeToo whirlwind. Last year, I found it a poignantly contemporary antidote to the endlessly offended culture; this time, I laughed harder without discomfort at the naughty satire on the politics within the piece. Hadley Fraser undoubtedly does a marvellous job as Dr Frankenstein. Lesley Joseph, I have to say, is really quite splendid and relishes the role as scene-stealing Frau Blucher. Also, I really rate Diane Pilkington who is consistently excellent as Elizabeth. The rather fantastic live cast recording has also just been released; so check it out.
Complaining about unsubtlety is beside the point with material like this. In fairness, this show is extremely funny so the individuals who took issue with Young Frankenstein are credulous individuals who take everything at face value and with hindsight, make the Creature look smart.
Overall: some people like Young Frankenstein, some people do not. The latter people are wrong.
Young Frankenstein is at Garrick Theatre, London until 24 August.
A Monster Calls is at Old Vic, London until 24 August.
Bring It On is at Southwark Playhouse, London, until 1 September.
The King and I is at the London Palladium until 29 September.
The Jungle runs at the Playhouse theatre, London, until 3 November.
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London Theatre is a flickering tealight of hope: Allelujah! Bat out of Hell, Fun Home & King Lear

There is a special furnace in theatre hell reserved for rubbish state-of-the-nation plays, so I’ll keep it brief. You thought Young Marx was dull? Try staying awake through Alan Bennett’s new play, where the substance is so lacking that it prompted me to leave at the interval. Since the NHS is never out of the headlines and affects nearly all of us, we have long been crying out for a new play on the subject.

Unfortunately, Nick Hytner’s Allelujah! is not it. Generously described by Michael Billington as a “hospital drama”, rather than virtue signalling mediocrity. Not Bennett or Hytner’s finest hour, if we are honest.

Allelujah

Allelujah Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

Old people singing and dancing sweetly– check.

Two original ‘History Boys’ – check.

A sub-plot involving immigration and Brexit – check.

I attempted to discover, once and for all whether Bat out of Hell was good. I can now announce my findings: no, it is nowhere near as dreadful as The Band.

This is exactly what, I think, consumers of Jukebox musicals – shows created out of the existing back catalogue of popular hits – want to see.

From musical to album to musical again, the mind-blowing scale of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell; robot bats, motorbikes and a Cadillac is quite something to behold. I loved the nonsense of it all. The main source of fascination, though, is how cunningly constructed and gloriously sung it is.

BAT OUT OF HELL

BAT OUT OF HELL

This Jukebox musical is so meticulously crafted, with entertainment in mind, that it becomes disorientating to watch.  

Sometimes you see a show and you can’t quite pin it down. I loved Fun Home at the Young Vic, the Tony-Award winning musical is based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 striking graphic novel memoir about growing up gay. I know what you’re thinking, another Broadway musical making a long-awaited debut in London. But, if anything, the accolades attached to this show understate the level of theatre sorcery going on here: kids tap-dancing on a coffin, a lesbian protagonist and a closeted gay father. Absolutely ideal.

An intelligent book and an inventive score combine with  often unbearable-to watch emotional performances that are so neatly done. Part of a fine ensemble, Jenna Russell is a cut above the rest. I haven’t seen as concise and uplifting a musical all year. Bit special.

FUN HOME

FUN HOME

Just when you thought you’d had enough Shakespeare, along comes Ian McKellen’s victory lap as King Lear at Duke of York’s Theatre. Jonathan Munby’s monumental production began life at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2017. McKellen is, of course, sublime at least in terms of unassuming lucidness: you will not see such another dignified Lear this year. A brilliant Sinead Cusack add further class to an evening that combines with something more mystic and mythical.

KING LEAR

KING LEAR

79 year-old superstar McKellen shines solidly for 3 hours 40 minutes, in what may be his last major Shakespearean role on stage. We’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Unmissable. Truly.

Allelujah! is at Bridge theatre, London, until 29 September

Bat out of Hell is at Dominion Theatre, London until January 2019 (link https://batoutofhellmusical.com/)

Fun Home is at the Young Vic, London, until 1 September.

King Lear is at Duke of York’s until 3 November and will be broadcast live on 27 September via National Theatre Live.

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 Is ‘The King and I’ the most problematic musical of all time? Yes and No

The King and I
The King and I

The King and I

Most lavish and exciting musical revival of 2018, so far? No contest: The King and I.

67 years on from its Broadway debut, whatever our differences elsewhere, I hoped there’d be one thing which we’d all agree on. The King and I is a timeless classic and this is a show of considerable quality. This is an evening of full-blown spectacle with swankingly grand West End production values and ranks as one of the most entertaining nights out at a theatre that I have had for quite some time.

An opinion confirmed when I took my seat at The London Palladium this week. Kelli O’ Hara, making her west end debut quietly commanded the stage and wrestled with the complex score and glorious melodies unfurled before me, which, for a theatre fan, is like finding the source of the Nile. The kids are gorgeous, the storytelling is delicate, forceful and ambiguous.

Anyway, this golden age musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein is about a 19th Century British widow who travels to Siam (now Thailand) to tutor its monarch’s many children; think of it as a more nuanced version of The Sound of Music. (interestingly, The King and I was written eight years before The Sound of Music)

I don’t expect you to watch it, obviously, but if you have the time and money, then do. It’s as funny, heart-warming and brilliantly structured as a musical can be. But the most remarkable thing is, major elements of it are now considered politically incorrect. Sure, it is dated, lengthy and teeters on imperial condescension. But for me it is about status, and the old embracing the new. The story and characters are racist in our time but isn’t in its own and occasionally becomes stuck and unable to transcend from that place. Hmm.

If nothing else, though, we can all agree that The King and I is flawed and certain elements are offensive. If you are someone who deplores slavery and colonialism, which is to say you are a sensible person, then well done. As the reviews quickly demonstrated, ranging from three to five stars. Certain critics, and columnists, have of course, leapt on the show and its ‘problematic’ material.

Reviewing the production, which won four Tonys in 2015 for the Broadway revival, the Guardian’s Michael Billington said The King and I “seems to endorse the idea of the civilising influence of the west on the barbaric east.” Time Out’s Andrzej Lukowski labelled the musical “kind of racist… like an elderly relative who you make allowances for on grounds of age.” Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish calls the show “one of the most problematic musicals of the 20th Century American canon.”

But do we write The King and I out of history? Surely it is better to present it in all its ‘problematic’ detail and fire the minds of the twenty-first century theatre goer so that such things don’t ever happen again. It should be planting new conversations.

Nevertheless, condemning the unease with which the discourse around this show is something that we should all be doing. The majority of the reviews, interviews and ‘buzz’ having been written by white men who would not dream of admitting that this great liberal democracy has afforded them all the most extraordinary privileges in life, including, an expensive private education, for which without it they would swiftly have no point, purpose, job or income, obviously. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

The King and I runs at the London Palladium until 29 September.

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Is Heathers beyond criticism?

Heathers

I’m quite intrigued by the recent revelations that Heathers is beyond criticism.

In recent times, the traditional press night has  become ever more nebulous. I got an email last week saying that there would be no press night for Heathers. It sounded like a theatre bulletin from another planet: who wouldn’t have a press night for an off-broadway hit, coming to town, in 2018?

This week, Andrezj Luwkowski wrote in The Stage: ‘This production has virtually sold out on the strength of the Heathers name, it scarcely needs reviews. But when you’re unashamedly charging your audience top dollar (top price ticket: £75), inviting scrutiny – or explaining why you’re not – feels like a politeness to them, as much as anything.’

Heathers

Heathers

We all understand the pressure that producers face and that everyone has to do advertising deals. We understand that in a world that contains The Band, critics probably aren’t at the top of the list like they might have been a few years ago.

Last night, though, there was a Gala evening. Baz BamigboyeOfficial London Theatre,WhatsOnStage were in attendance. Call me cynical, but this is not conducive to anything other than cheerleading.

It is the producers and PRs stage-managing the narrative and ‘buzz’ within an inch of its life. It’s kind of maddeningly admirable.

The mixed messages continue.  Heathers is a ‘work-in-progress’ and not a full scale production. However, producer Paul Taylor-Mills said: ‘‘I’m thrilled that within a year of The Other Palace we have a project that has gone from workshop to a fully realised production.” Confusing, right?

But it isn’t just the critics that are relegated to the theatre dead-zone. Glancing at social media it becomes increasingly clear that anyone who has an opinion to the contrary that Heathers is the greatest musical in 2018, is shot down in flames or called a troll and/or hater.

I suppose the cocktail of Carrie Hope Fletcher and Heathers is a fandom that ranks among the most uptight on the internet but, also, if for whatever reason you’re a fan of a show or a performer, it’s unpleasant to see them being criticised. I get that.

You only need to look at the comments under the West End Live performance (that has racked up 150,000+ views) to realise that Heathers is a cult show, driven by cult personalities.

Perhaps some of the vagueness comes from a place of insecurity, and perhaps they’re more aware than they care to admit that the entire operation is questionable. The mind boggles.

I think it is terrific that Heathers is in London, I admire the commercial-nous. But I just wish more people could see it at an affordable rate, with more transparency and a regard for the critical community.

Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace from 9 June to 4 August.

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So I went along to the launch of The King and I yesterday

Bartlett Sher’s Broadway hit musical The King and I is heading to the London Palladium for a limited 14-week engagement, before a tour that will see the show visit Asia.

I went along to the launch. There were goodie bags and bucks fizz and it was frankly amazing. Here is what happened.

Press and media type people

Press and media type people

Doors opened at 11.15 am but I didn’t want to look too eager, so I arrived at WAC Centre, Belsize Park at about 11.20am. The invite promised breakfast and while there was no porridge on offer I did find some miniature sausage rolls, and mixed berries on cocktail sticks.

After a while we were led into a rehearsal room for a presentation and cast Q&A.

Sir Howard Panter – lead producer-  appeared and made some amusing comments.

Original Broadway cast members Kelli O’Hara, who won a Tony award for her portrayal of Anna, and Japanese movie star Ken Watanabe file into the rehearsal room with various cast members and give us a look at several of the show’s toe-tapping numbers.

The orchestra fire up and O’Hara storms the space like a celestial being with ‘Getting To Know You’. What a voice. What. A. Woman.

Several numbers from the show are performed and then we are gifted, from the theatre Gods, an excerpt of ‘Shall We Dance’. Incredible scenes.

There was a huge round of applause and I went off to chat to Na-Young Jeon (Les Miserables) and Dean John Wilson (Aladdin) who will play the young lovers, Tuptim and Lun Tha.

How do they think the morning went? “It was nice to have an audience because we’ve been playing to a blank space for four weeks. It’s nice to get a round of applause at the end of things. We’re super excited,” he says.

What, I ask, can this production of The King and I say to modern audiences about feminism. “People might not come and see the show because they may think that it is dated. But I really want to say because it is Rodger’s and Hammerstein it is so beautiful and sweeping you will love the music. It is also a very modern revival; I think especially now with Me Too movement and so many strong women alongside strong men saying that we deserve the same rights it is relevant. So, I hope that fifty years later The King and I will still be timeless and people will think we’ve achieved something,” she says.

“Right now – what a time to put a show on like this – the way that society is going. It is an old story but it is so relevant to today. It is a timeless story,” he says.

Here is a photo of us after our chat. Don’t we look happy.

Left to right - Dean John-Wilson, Me & Na Young-Jeon

Left to right – Dean John-Wilson, Me & Na Young-Jeon

Anyway, it is a golden time for diversity on our capital’s stages, it feels like a significant overdue moment for BAME representation in the West End with shows like Tina, Kinky Boots, Lion King, Hamilton, Dreamgirls & Motown the Musical.

So, I suppose the big question is this: why revive The King and I? Why now?

A sixty-seven-year-old musical about a mid-twentieth century schoolteacher teaching Victorian values at the court of the King of Siam could be problematic. Will this production interrogate Orientalism? Are the gender and race politics, in abstract terms, outdated and harmful? Food for thought, ladies and gentlemen.

Either way it was an 10/10 sort of morning full of feeling and I cannot wait to see this exceptionally gifted company bring a bit of class back to the West End. Let us hope they put a fresh spin on a familiar tale…

The company of The King and I take a bow

The Company of King and I

The Company of King and I

The King and I runs at the London Palladium from June 21 until 29 September

https://kingandimusical.co.uk/

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A catch up with Cat from The Lieutenant of Inishmore: ‘It could have really gone tits up.’

Due to popular demand I caught up with Cat in between rehearsals for The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

The revival of Martin McDonagh’s play opens in the West End next month. It stars Poldark’s Aidan Turner and is directed by Michael Grandage.

Originally performed by the RSC in 2001, McDonagh’s black comedy is set in Ireland in the early 1990s, and satirises nationalism and terrorism in the modern day

Here is what happened.

Hello again. How are you?

I’m doing well. This weather is quite tedious; I find a quiet place in between rehearsals to cool – hot on the top, cold at the bottom, you know how it is.

Let’s not discuss our private lives. How are the rehearsals for The Lieutenant of Inishhmore going?

It is going very well. I have to confess I was pretty bruised that I did not feature in any of the rehearsal shots. I mean I would have liked some for my portfolio but the PR is wary of me, she’s threatened, she’s trying to ruin my moment. A bit petty in my opinion but what can you do.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre

The last time we spoke you mentioned that you thought that your co-star Aidan Turner may have allergies. Turner recently confessed that he is, in fact, allergic to cats. How has this impacted your working relationship?

It could have really gone tits up… Luckily, it has been fine. I adore Aidan, he spills over with emotion, continually taking the company in unexpected directions. His accent is exuberant and it helps that he is pretty buff and it has been a joy to take him to the theatre as my guest.

Interesting. I know that you are close to Nick Hytner; have you been to The Bridge?

I saw Nightfall recently; the whole thing seemed like a lot of effort for not much reward. It wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. I think the two Nicks are trying to find their War Horse or Curious Incident; I’m not sure anything else in the current programme really fits the bill. I have a feeling that in a few years we’ll probably look back on the first ten years as the Nicks finding their feet, and it’ll be the second decade that really make the most sense. If it isn’t a Pret a Manger by then.

Have you seen Orlando Bloom in in ‘Killer Joe’?

I know Katy Perry very well so we attended the dress rehearsal together. I am usually wary of star vehicles and stunt casting. Mind you, I think it can be a good thing for theatre because it so often brings new audiences through the door who may have never been to that theatre before. Sometimes, though, all I crave to see is a really good actor. But I thought that Bloom was quite good, so critics are invited to sit the fuck down.

What most drives you to be brilliant – fear of failure or thirst for success?

I try not to take this industry too seriously. I constantly want to outdo the last thing I’ve done.

With Harvey Weinstein being arrested and the #MeToo movement finally having its Hurricane Katrina moment. How widespread is abuse and bullying in theatre?

The thing is, most of the people in power who work in this industry are total bell-ends. I am currently working on an initiative: #MiaowToo – It is important that cats are afforded the same watershed moment to expose theatre-land thugs; I was at an audition recently. I was picked up, stroked and dropped on the *concrete* floor without consent. Anyway, it is mostly men in power abusing that power, habitually and with the belief that they will never be revealed. This careless grooming has to stop.

Do you lead or follow?

I definitely lead.

Is it hard work doing all that leading? It must be a lot easier to just sit around copying people.

No, it’s not hard work, it’s part of who I am. I love to strive to do things differently. That’s part of why I love what I do.

Are you in this for the long run?

I’ve just done an interview with The Guardian with a ‘fresh new voice’ that has replaced Lyn Gardner. Don’t get me started… I’m still furious about it. Anyway, ‘How long do you think you’ll do it?” asked the fresh new voice; I can’t remember her name, I think they used to be a stand-up comic. “A year?” Maybe I’ll stretch it to two, I purred.

Finally, is there anything that you’d like to add?

I’d like to say that The UK’s theatre exports are pretty much restricted to Sonia Friedman, James Graham, Michael Grandage and Caryl Churchill. I am currently looking at a KickStarter to supply emergency subsidies to any theatre company developing half-decent UK theatre talent. Also, please come and see The Lieutenant of Inishmore; it boasts an outstanding cast. It is superbly cast, written and acted with ruthless and icy force. There are no weak links. Martin McDonagh squeezes every gorgeous horrible drop out of the violence. Cheers!

The Lieutenant of Inishmore runs at the Noel Coward Theatre 23 June – 8 September 2018

Read the first interview with Cat from ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ HERE

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Lyn Gardner & The Guardian: the end of an era?

Lyn Gardner
Lyn Gardner

Lyn Gardner Photo credit – Pamela Raith

Like a phantom itch from an amputated limb, the Guardian have decided to call time on critic and journalist Lyn Gardner writing about theatre. It is one of the stupidest things it’s ever done.

The writing has been on the wall for some time. Last year, the idiots who run the Guardian cut her weekly theatre blog,  as a result of cost-cutting measures; saving them £13,500.00 annually. She was then appointed associate editor at The Stage, following the cancellation of her theatre blog contract.

The Guardian stated today, “We have decided to look to add some new voices to our arts coverage. Our commitment to coverage of the theatre remains absolute.” Lyn’s contract, which ends on June 1, comprised of 28,000 words of features & up to 130 reviews a year. Removing Gardner’s voice is not absolute, or progressive or smart. It’s none of that. It’s none of anything. It’s just loads of nothing. It is the short-sighted sound of the end of an era.

Who are these new voices? It may not seem like it, but it’s actually a comparatively small selection of critics who keep arts coverage going. None of them are up to the challenge of replacing Lyn.

Gardner is one of the few arts journalists who don’t subscribe to navel-gazing or hysterical right-on agendas. Her dedication to children’s theatre, new work and regional theatre is unrivalled. Last year she was presented with a Total Theatre Award as a result of significant contribution for her journalism work on the fringe. (I’m not even going to go into the devastating loss of her Edinburgh Festival Fringe coverage. I’ll literally lose control.) She was also awarded a UK Theatre Award for her outstanding contribution to British Theatre.

To most people theatre criticism is now a joke. I don’t think it’s very funny. In such hopeless circumstances, the best we can do is cancel our subscription to the Guardian and/or email the editor Katherine Viner: [email protected] our despair. While you are at it subscribe to The Stage and pay for your journalism.

It feels like theatre is finally facing up to its shameful diversity problem, though, when it comes to who is writing about theatre and in spite of the economic woes of the mainstream media. Critics of Colour was recently launched for people of colour who write about theatre and to support the development of critics from BME backgrounds.

Anyway, as long as there is theatre and culture there will be critics responding. But the responsibility cannot fall solely to bloggers plugging this particular void. Blogging is not good for your mental health. I’ve run a theatre website for about two years and if I am totally honest, it might have prompted me to have a quiet cry once or twice. Keeping on top of it all is an almost impossible task and it is just not sustainable.

I guarantee you, though, no matter how bleak this is for the arts community, Lyn will be back. Gardner has a new website http://www.lyngardner.com and will continue her work at The Stage, no doubt in a wider capacity. Bring it on. 

Lyn Gardner, Me & Mark Shenton at Theatre Craft, 2017

Lyn Gardner, Me & Mark Shenton at Theatre Craft, 2017

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So I went along to the launch of Company

On reading the phrase ‘An invitation to the official launch of Elliott & Harper’s revival of Company at Joe Allen with director Marianne Elliott & cast members Rosalie Craig, Broadway legend Patti LuPone and Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyctogether in one sentence you know you’re in for quite a treat.

I mean, it’s not every day you get the opportunity to join 87 other strangers over breakfast with ‘critically acclaimed’ musical theatre people and Mel, is it?

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Photo by John Nguyen

So, with some degree of excitement I made my way to Jo Allen, and here are some things I noted.

To kick things off, David Benedict, Sondheim’s official biographer hosted an alright discussion with Rosalie Craig who will play the re-gendered lead role of Bobbi, Patti LuPone plays Joanne & Mel Giedroyc takes on the role of Sarah. All four ladies were on top form. Somebody’s phone went off during this bit and LuPone criticised Uma Thurman for her questionable turn in The Parisian Woman on Broadway.

The launch included an exclusive first performance of Being Alive by Rosalie Craig. And what she did was great. Slick, cool and laid-back, As well as the song being amazing on its own merits, Being Alive (aka one of the 1000 greatest songs of all time) sounded bloody good live from a female perspective and the crowd reacted quite positively to it, i.e. they clapped like loons.

Modern technology permitted me to catch the moment with a twitter vid (is that what we call it?) and I’ve placed it below these words. I even put on a shiny filter to create an ‘intimate’ feel. You’re welcome.

The next thing I knew, I found myself with various members of the press at a round table interview with Marianne Elliott and Mel Giedroyc. I took the opportunity to ask them how they feel about Stephen Sondheim originally stating that, with Company, he wanted a show “where the audience would sit for two hours screaming their heads off with laughter, and then go home and not be able to sleep.”

EB9C1B26-04FD-45CA-A712-942AB51C41EE

Ladies Who Launch etc —  L to R LuPone, Craig, Elliott & Giedroyc. 

“Oh God… It is a very funny piece. But I suppose ultimately it is a serious subject,” Elliott says. “Look at the news recently about the pay gap between genders that revealed men are paid more than women, which is unbelievable. The reason for it is that women are not in managerial positions; they are staying at home, they are looking after kids or thinking about going part-time or starting a family. I know a lot of women in that situation – I was in a similar situation myself. It is a very serious issue for women in their mid-30’s because they probably know that if they want to have a family then the clock is ticking.”

What does Mel think? “I love the idea of an audience laughing a lot throughout a show. But I don’t like the idea of them not sleeping – they must laugh and then sleep,” Giedroyc says simply. “But not in the theatre! They must laugh until they are so tired that they go home and then they sleep.” Righty ho.

Company is shaping up to be one of the theatrical highlights of 2018. Well done all.

There were various pastries and refreshments and that was that.

COMPANY-Landscape_1237x554-1

Company will run at the Gielgud Theatre from September 26 to December 22.