Broadway and West End stars Jose Llana and Annalene Beechey to star in UK Tour of ‘The King And I’

Following the critically acclaimed Broadway smash hit run of the THE KING AND I and its box office sold out record breaking season at the world famous London Palladium, comes the announcement that the multi Tony Award winning production will now embark on a major UK tour from Spring 2019.

Reprising his critically acclaimed Broadway performance as The King will be Jose Llana* and performing as Anna, fresh from her West End success, will be Annalene Beechey*. 

 This unmissable, majestic production will open in Manchester in April 2019, and then visit Dublin, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hull, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol, Woking and Southampton.

The news of the tour comes hot off the heels of the cinema release of the live production of THE KING AND I: FROM THE LONDON PALLADIUM, whichhas become the biggest live event in cinemas of 2018 following last week’s first global screenings. The production in cinemas has taken in excess of  $2.5m at the box office already. In the UK the film reached the number one spot, with more than double the box office of the next film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.  More than 135,000 movie goers packed cinemas across the globe for the initial performance to watch THE KING AND I: FROM THE LONDON PALLADIUM – filmed on stage at the iconic London Palladium.  Such has been the demand for tickets, Trafalgar Releasinghas scheduled encore screenings both in the UK and globally throughout December and into 2019. The film has already broken all equivalent records.

 The West End critics heaped praise on THE KING AND I, the Daily Mail “left the London Palladium on a bright cloud of music”, while the The Times awarded the show “Five stars for a sumptuous King and I” declaring it “a hit”. Daily Express hailed it “London’s theatrical event of 2018” whilst The Daily Telegraph concurred proclaiming the show “looks and sounds ravishing”. Another five stars were awarded from the Sunday Express and the Financial Times called it “simply spellbinding”.

 Acclaimed Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher will once again direct the production and be reunited with the celebrated creative team that brought this majestic production of THE KING AND I  to life at the Palladium earlier this year.

Also joining the cast will be Kok-Hwa Lie in the role of Kralahome and Aaron Teoh as Prince Chulalongkorn. Edward Baker-Duly will take on the dual roles of Orton and Ramsay and William M Lee will play Phra Alack. The female ensemble will include Yuki Abe, Miiya Alexandra, Aiko Kato, Misa Koide, Ela Lisondra and Ena Yamaguchi. The male ensemble will include Irvine Ray Abesamis, Cletus Chan, Steven Hardcastle, Eu Jin Hwang, Jesse Milligan, Prem Rai and Joaquin Pedro Valdes. The Swings will be Rachel Jayne Picar, Nick Len and Jasmine Leung.

 Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, 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, featuring a company of over 50 world-class performers, and full scale orchestra, THE KING AND I is a testament to the lavish heritage of gloriously romantic musical theatre – it is the greatest musical from the golden age of musicals.

 Producer Howard Panter says: “The response from London audiences to this multi award-winning production of THE KING AND I was unprecedented.  Critical plaudits, Box Office records and standing ovations at every show – we were overwhelmed with the rapturous response.  Coupled with the reaction to the Global cinema screenings of the film version – which is the biggest theatre event in cinemas of the year and number one at the Box Office. This really is musical theatre at its very best, so we are thrilled that we can now share this wonderous production with theatre lovers up and down the country next year.”


 Peter James’ The House On Cold Hill UK Tour

Peter James
Peter James

Peter James

The thrilling work of multi-million selling author Peter James returns to theatres in January 2019 with the world premiere production of the spine-tingling stage play The House on Cold Hill – The announcement comes in the week the acclaimed author hits No. 1 again in the UK book charts for the 13th consecutive time, with his latest page-turner, Dead If You Don’t.

The House on Cold Hill is the best-selling novel by Peter James – author of the award-winning Roy Grace series – and now becomes the fourth play in his box office smash hit and critically acclaimed stage franchise following the huge sell-out success of Not Dead EnoughThe Perfect Murder and Dead Simple on stage.

 The House on Cold Hill is a modern day ghostly thriller that will send shivers down your spine and make you think twice about returning home to a dark, empty house after the show!

The House on Cold Hill

The House on Cold Hill

Within days of moving into the huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion in the remote Sussex countryside, the Harcourt family quickly realise that the house of their dreams hides a dark secret and that they aren’t the only residents at Cold Hill…

James has been acclaimed as ‘one of the most fiendishly clever crime fiction plotters’ (Daily Mail) and his brilliant international bestselling novels have been published in 37 languages and sold over 19 million copies worldwide.

Following the recent nationwide stage success of the Peter James plays with stars including Shane Richie, Jessie Wallace, Claire Goose, Les Dennis, Laura Whitmore, Jamie Lomas, Bill Ward and Tina Hobley, The House on Cold Hill will reunite Peter James with theatre producer Joshua Andrews, the Olivier award winning director Ian Talbot and award winning writer Shaun McKenna.

Peter James said: It has been a great thrill for me to have three stage adaptations of my work so cleverly written and brilliantly performed over the last five years, and a joy to see the huge pleasure they’ve given audiences around the UK, and overseas.

 “I’m very excited by the latest adaptation, of my best-selling ghost story The House on Cold Hill, which starts on a six-month nationwide tour next January, with the same production team behind it.  

 “The intimacy of theatres is particularly well suited to instilling a great atmosphere of suspense and thrills in audiences, and I can promise there will be no shortage of both with the stage production of The House 0n Cold Hill!”

 Casting to be announced.

Oily Cart’s theatrical feast for all the senses embarks on second UK tour

Kubla Khan © Photo credit: Neal Houghton
Kubla Khan © Photo credit: Neal Houghton

Kubla Khan © Photo credit: Neal Houghton

Making its World Premiere last year to great critical acclaim, with appearances on BBC Breakfast, BBC’s online news and the Today programme, Oily Cart are once again bringing the sights, sounds and smells of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem Kubla Khan to life in 2018 to take more intrepid young audience members on an epic journey. Together with the national charity Sense, Oily Cart transformed Coleridge’s rhythmically rich and vibrant poem into the company’s first ever production for children and young people who are deafblind, and are delighted to once again tour this fully immersive and inclusive theatrical experience around the UK from May 2018.

As one of the UK’s most innovative and ground-breaking young people’s theatre companies, Oily Cart is renowned for devising “all sorts of shows for all sorts of kids” and this production is no exception. In addition to creating their very first show for a young deafblind audience, playing with temperatures, taste and touch to tease out the poem’s lyrical and scent-infused language – from “the caves of ice” to “the milk of paradise” – Oily Cart have also created two other distinct versions of this same show for youngsters on the autism spectrum and for those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. Kubla Khan will tour to special schools around the UK and mainstream venues, including Stratford Circus Arts Centre and Derby Theatre. Performances at Rose Theatre Kingston will coincide with deafblind awareness week.

In keeping with the company’s trademark immersive and hands-on style, the audience for Kubla Khan will be centre stage at all times, right at the heart of each bespoke and tactile 55-minute show. Featuring three actors and one musician – kora player Kadialy Kouyate – the show will play to an audience of just six alongside their adult carers. The River Alph runs through the poem, binding it together, so central to Oily Cart’s multi-sensory production is a wonderfully carved and contoured channel which winds its way through the audience. The channel floods, drains, and fills with sand, water and ice while the aroma of incense drifts by; these tactile sensations will help to create the experience of a boat ride through the poem.

Written in 1797, and first published in 1816Kubla Khan is hailed as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, along with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. It is widely believed he wrote most of the poem immediately following a particularly vivid and lurid dream about Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kublai Khan. The rich and colourful metaphors of Coleridge’s writing, and their almost cinematic qualities, lend themselves perfectly for the complex and immersive needs of these audiences, as writer and director Tim Webb explains:

“One of the key reasons why I chose to work withthis text, apart from the fact that it is filled with verbal descriptions crying out for multisensory interpretation, is that it is written in a rich and intricate style, featuring rapidly shifting points of view and characters and situations that defy ready definition. It offers a multitude of facets that can be appreciated both by the brain and the senses and is therefore perfect for deafblind audiences.”

KUBLA KHAN will embark on a UK wide tour from May to July 2018.

The Lyric Hammersmith and Filter announce casting for the UK Tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Lyric Hammersmith and Filter’s critically acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream today announced the casting for the UK tour, which opens at the Lyric Hammersmith on Friday 13 April 2018. The cast and band includes Allyson Ava-BrownGeorge FouracresDaniel FraserDavid GanlyHarry JardineMatt King SmithAmy MarchantKayla MeikleAlan PaganMichael Palmer and Dharmesh Patel.

Following the production’s hugely successful run at both the Lyric Hammersmith and Royal Exchange Manchester in 2012, the production was revived in 2016 at the Lyric and then toured to Brisbane Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival. This riotous reinterpretation of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays now returns for a seven-week UK tour. Featuring original live music, this classic tale of young lovers and warring fairies is given a unique and irreverent twist.

Sean Holmes, Director and Artistic Director at the Lyric Hammersmith, said “I’m delighted that the Lyric is back touring the country and especially thrilled that Filter’s Lyric Dreamis the focus of this major national tour. We hope new audiences everywhere will delight in its anarchy, its irreverence and its fun.”

Allyson Ava-Brown

For the Lyric: Aladdin

Theatre credits include: The Quiet House (Birmingham Rep/Park Theatre); Etienne Sisters, Beauty and the Beast, Crowning Glory, Jack and the Beanstalk, Martina Cole’s Dangerous Lady (Theatre Royal Stratford East); In Bed (Theatre Centre Works); Snakes and Ladders (UK Tour); Puss In Boots (Hackney Empire); Carnival of the Animals(Riverside Studios); The Swallowing Dark (Liverpool Playhouse/Theatre503); The Wiz (Birmingham Rep/West Yorkshire Playhouse); Moonshadow/Yusuf Islam In Concert(Tour); The Villains Opera, Honk! The Ugly Duckling (National Theatre); Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre); Julius Caesar, The TempestAnthony and Cleopatra(RSC/Stratford/Tour/West End); Hairyfairies (Fick Productions); Simplyheavenly (Trafalgar Studios); Passports to the Promised Land (Nitro); Cinderella (Watford Palace Theatre).

Film and TV credits include: Casualty, Doctors, Bear Behaving Badl, The Wrong Door, Basil Brush Show, EastEnders, Sea Of Souls, Kerching!, Holby City, Secret Diary of A Call Girl, VeraSherlock Holmes And The Living Dead, Witness and Ambition to Live.

George Fouracres

Theatre credits include: Antigone, Romeo and Juliet, The Cure, The Seventh Seal and Black Comedy (ADC); Babushka, The Red Shoes (Troupe); Diary of a Nobody (Kings Head Theatre); Ecclesiastical Perks (The New Arcadians); Life x 3 (HATS); Pick Me Up (Edinburgh Fringe).

Television credits include: Drunk HistoryRaised By Wolves and The Woman In Red.

Radio credits include: Daphne Sounds Expensive and Newsjack.

Daniel Fraser

For the Lyric: Jack and the Beanstalk

Theatre & Opera credits include: Deny, Deny, Deny (Park Theatre); Flare Path (UK Tour); Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies (RSC Swan/Aldwych/Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway); Chariots of Fire (Hampstead Theatre/Gielgud); Oh, To Be in England (Finborough Theatre); After Lydia (Watermill); Orpheus: The Mythical (Royal Opera House).

Film and TV credits include: Doctors, Holby CityThe Patrol, Frequencies, Scar Tissue, Happiness and Lab Rats.

David Ganly

For the Lyric: Cinderella

Theatre credits include: Girl From The North Country (Noël Coward); On Blueberry Hill (Dublin Theatre Festival); Once (Olympia Theatre Dublin); Lonesome West (Tron Theatre); The Plough & the Stars (Abbey Theatre, Dublin/Irish & US Tour); Shakespeare in Love (Noël Coward); Threepenny Opera (Gate Theatre); King Lear (Theatre Royal Bath);  Macbeth (Sheffield Crucible); The Lonesome West (Druid Theatre, The Royal Court/Sydney Festival/Lyceum, Broadway); Of Mice and Men (Watermill); The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium); The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Young Vic), Chicago (Cambridge); The Weir (Gate Theatre); Translations (National Theatre); The Full Monty (Prince of Wales).

Film and TV credits include: Citizen Charlie, Sunset Song, Body of Lies, Hippie Hippie Shake, Dorothy Mills, Widow’s Peak and Space Truckers. 

Harry Jardine

For the Lyric: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Brisbane Festival/Dublin Festival).

For Filter: Twelfth Night (India, US and UK Tour)

Theatre credits include: The Secret Seven (Storyhouse, Chester); Octagon (Arcola); Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward); Faster Higher Stronger Straighter (Scealta Mora); People of the Town (London Collective).

Film and TV credits include: DoctorsWhat is Wrong with these People? Journey’s EndMaster of CeremoniesThe Thief and In the Heart of the Sea.

Radio credits include: Borgen, What Does The K Stand For?, Woman in Mind, The Oresteia and Home Front.

He is the Artistic Director of Vamp Theatre Company

Amy Marchant

For Filter: Twelfth Night (India/USA/UK tour)

Theatre credits include: Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward); To Sir, With Love (UK Tour); Love’s Labour’s Lost, Taming of the ShrewThe Tempest (The Willow Globe Theatre).

Film and TV credits include: DoctorsConfection and Big Day.

She is an Associate Artist of The Willow Globe Theatre.

Kayla Meikle

For the Lyric: Jack and the Beanstalk.

Theatre credits include: Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet (National Theatre); PRIMETIME (Royal Court); Merlin (Nuffield); The Taming of the Shrew (Arts Theatre); All That Lives(Ovalhouse); Streets (Interval Productions)

Film and TV credits include: Will.

Dharmesh Patel

For the Lyric: Beauty and The Beast and Too Close To Home.

Theatre & Opera credits include: The Captive Queen, The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Cymbeline, The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe); Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus, King Lear, Hamlet, The Comedy OF Errors, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, American Trade, The Grain Store, Morte d’Arthur (RSC); East is East, England Away (UK Tour); Fever Dream Southside (Citizens Theatre); Albion (Bush Theatre); Too Clever By Half (Royal Exchange Manchester); The Snow Queen (Trestle Theatre); Happy and Married (Freedom Studios); Satyagraha (Improbable/ENO/New York); Accidental Death Of An Anarchist (Octagon Theatre, Bolton); Slow Time (National Theatre); Silent Cry (Red Ladder Theatre Co.); The Happy Prince (Leicester Haymarket Theatre).

Television includes: Casualty, Doctors and Ray’s Daze.

Radio includes: Cooking By Heart, Love Boat, Silver Street and Wimmy Road

Created by                                                                          Filter

Directed by                                                                         Sean Holmes

Design by                                                                             Hyemi Shin

Lighting Design by                                                            Oliver Fenwick

Sound Design & Original Music by                             Chris Branch & Tom Haines

Casting announced for the UK tour of James Graham’s This House

James Graham
THIS HOUSE by James Graham,

THIS HOUSE by James Graham, Chichester Festival Theatre, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

Rehearsals began today for the first UK tour of This House, which opens at West Yorkshire Playhouse on 23 February(national press night 28 February). The cast – who play a colourful host of MPs and Whips – is Ian Barritt (Batley & Morley/Woolwich West/Belfast North/Western Isles & Ensemble), William Chubb (Humphrey Atkins), Giles Cooper (Fred Silvester), Stephen Critchlow (Bromsgrove/Abingdon/Liverpool Edge Hill/Paisley/Fermanagh & Ensemble), James Gaddas (Walter Harrison), Natalie Grady (Ann Taylor), Ian Houghton (Armagh, Ambulance Man, Ensemble), David Hounslow (Joe Harper), Marcus Hutton (Ensemble), Harry Kershaw (Paddington South/Chelmsford/South Ayrshire/Henley/Marioneth /Coventry North West/Rushcliffe/Perry Barr & Ensemble), Louise Ludgate (Rochester & Chatham/Welwyn & Hatfield/Coventry South West/Ilford North/Lady Batley & Ensemble), Geoffrey Lumb (Clockmaker/Peebles/Redditch/Stirlingshire West/Clerk & Ensemble), Nicholas Lumley (Oxshott/Belfast West/St Helens & Ensemble), Martin Marquez (Bob Mellish), Matthew Pidgeon (Jack Weatherill), Miles Richardson (Speaker Act I/Mansfield/Sergeant at Arms Act II/West Lothian & Ensemble), Tony Turner (Michael Cocks), Orlando Wells (Walsall North/Plymouth Sutton/Serjeant at Arms Act I/Speaker Act II/Caernarfon/Clerk & Ensemble) and Charlotte Worthing (Ensemble). Ian Houghton, David Hounslow, Matthew Pidgeon, Tony Turner and Orlando Wells return to This House having previously appeared in the West End production.

James Graham’s critically acclaimed and prescient political drama takes on a new importance in the current political climate. Are we in the midst of a political revolution? Can the country stay united? Roll back to 1974… The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and back biting as Britain’s political parties’ battle to change the future of the nation, whatever it takes.

In an era of chaos, both hilarious and shocking, when votes are won or lost by one, there are fist fights in the parliamentary bars, high-stakes tricks and games are played, and sick MPs are carried through the lobby to register their crucial votes as the government hangs by a thread. This House strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes; the whips who roll up their sleeves and on occasion bend the rules to shepherd and coerce a diverse chorus of MPs within the Mother of all Parliaments.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin with Jonathan O’Boyle, the production is designed by Rae Smith with lighting design by Paule Constable and Ben Pickersgill on tour, music by Stephen Warbeck, choreography by Scott Ambler and sound by Ian Dickinson.

This House is produced on tour by Jonathan Church Productions and Headlong.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO EPISODE 1 OF COMMIT NO NUISANCE a new theatre podcast by Mark Shenton and Carl Woodward

Shows discussed in Episode 1: The Band, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Girl From the North Country, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (at Brentwood Leisure Centre) Witness For The Prosecution & Pal Joey.

Theatre podcast by Mark Shenton & Carl Woodward

Commit No Nuisance

Commit No Nuisance

UK Tour dates announced for Dusty the new Dusty Springfield musical

Katherine Kingsley
Katherine Kingsley

Katherine Kingsley

DUSTY, the landmark new musical based on the authorised biography of Dusty Springfield will have its world premiere at Theatre Royal Bath in June 2018 before dates at The Lyceum in Sheffield, Newcastle Theatre Royal, and The Lowry in Salford.

With a fiercely funny and emotionally charged script from BAFTA and Olivier nominated writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful ThingCoronation Street), DUSTY will be directed by Olivier Award-winner Maria Friedman (Merrily We Roll AlongStepping Out) and star Katherine Kingsley (PiafSingin’ in theRain) in what promises to be a career-defining performance celebrating the music of a lifetime. Further casting will be announced in due course.

Featuring many of Dusty Springfield’s blazingly soulful pop hits, including I Only Want to Be with You,Son of a Preacher Man and You Dont Have to Say You Love MeDUSTY celebrates theextraordinary and vivacious woman whose timeless voice immortalised her as “one of Britains mostsuccessful female singers” (The Telegraph).

DUSTY originates from the notes and memoirs of the late singer’s close friend and manager Vicki Wickham, as well as conversations with her lifelong personal assistant Pat Rhodes, and friend and record company executive Tris Penna.

London born Dusty Springfield’s career started in the late 1950’s. She soon became known across the world for her soulful voice and iconic look with hits spanning four decades. Her 1969 masterpiece ”Dusty In Memphis’ is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and Dusty has been inducted into both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame.

Jonathan Harvey wrote his first play in 1987, and has since written over 15 more, including BabiesBoom Bang-A-Bang and Beautiful Thing, which was later made into an acclaimed film. He has been the recipient of the Evening Standard, George Devine and John Whiting Awards, and his work has been both Bafta- and Olivier-nominated. Jonathan’s extensive television writing includes Coronation Street, on which he has worked since 2004, Beautiful People and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. He has also written for shows as diverse as RevShamelessAt Home With The BraithwaitesThe Catherine Tate Show and Tracey Ullman’s Show. He has also published five novels and been hailed as ‘the new theatrical voice of his generation’.

Best known as a three-time Olivier Award winning star of the musical stage, director Maria Friedmanmade an astonishing directorial debut in 2012 with a hugely acclaimed production of Merrily We Roll Alongwhich won Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards 2013, the Olivier Awards 2014 (for which Maria was also nominated for Best Director of a Musical), and the Critic’s Circle Award 2013. She went on to directHigh Society at The Old Vic in 2015 and recently Stepping Out at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Katherine Kingsley has received widespread critical acclaim and multiple Olivier and WhatsOnStage award nominations. Theatre credits include playing Marlene Dietrich in Piaf (Donmar), Christine Colgate inDirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre London, Manchester Opera House and Aylesbury Waterside Theatre), Helena in Michael Grandage Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Noël Coward Theatre), Lina Lamont in Singin’ In The Rain (Palace Theatre London and Chichester Festival Theatre) and The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre). On screen credits include the film Genius as well as appearances on The Bill, Casualty and Bad Education.

DUSTY is produced by Eleanor Lloyd Productions in association with Tris Penna and Vicki Wickham. Eleanor Lloyd Productions is currently presenting Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall. Recent projects include Nell Gwynn with Gemma Arterton, Olivier Award for Best Comedy (Apollo), Fantastic Mr Fox Winner Best Presentation of Touring Theatre – UK Theatre Awards (NST Theatres & Tour), 1984 (Playhouse, 2014, 2015 & 2016, Hudson Broadway), My Night with Reg, Olivier Nomination for Best Revival (Apollo) and Handbagged, Olivier Nomination for Best Comedy (Vaudeville and UK tour).


Book by Jonathan Harvey
Directed by Maria Friedman

Designer Tom Pye
Choreographer Tim Jackson

SOCIAL: @DustyTheMusical


Saturday 23 June – Saturday 7 July 2018
*Online booking from 2 November 2017* | 01225 448844
Tickets from £23.00
Evenings performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Saturday 30th JuneThursday 5th July and Saturday 7th July at 2.30pm.(no performance Monday 25th June).

Wednesday10 July – Saturday 14 July 2018

*On Sale from early 2018* | 0114 249 6000
Tickets from £18.00
Evening performances at 7.45pm
Matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tuesday 17 July – Saturday 21 July 2018
* General on sale from 10 November 2017* | 08448 112 121
Tickets from £19.50
Evening performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Wednesday and Thursday at 2pm and Saturday at 2.30pm

Tuesday 24 July – Saturday 28 July 2018
* General on sale from 20 October 2017* | 0843 208 6000
Tickets from £14.50
Evening performances at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm



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Crazy For You Caroline Flack, Interview: “There is so much more to the UK than London.”

Caroline Flack knows all about troubled romances after her 8-week stint presenting Love Island, the most watched and talked about show of the summer. The source of many a heated watercooler conversation, the show is all about relationships going wrong, or right. So it is fitting that she makes her theatrical debut playing Irene, a woman whose love life is also bumpy, in hit musical ‘CRAZY FOR YOU’.

“She’s strong. She knows what she wants. But there’s a vulnerability,” Flack tells me as we chat during rehearsals. “She gets hurt the whole way through, but she’s brilliantly defiant. She stays strong and doesn’t give up. She’s naughty as well. There’s definitely bits of Irene that are quite like me.”

CRAZY FOR YOU’, which tours the UK from August 2017 to May 2018, is a joyful, romantic musical comedy packed with fantastic Gershwin songs. It’s the story of Bobby, a banker who longs to be a stage star. When he’s forced to foreclose on a failing theatre, he falls for the owner’s daughter who would want nothing to do with him if she knew who he was. Irene is the woman he leaves behind.

“It’s feel good and fun,” says Flack. “It’s a show the whole family can enjoy, but it’s got a very cool vibe to it too. It’s one of those shows where you will have a smile on your face the whole way through. I know, because I’ve seen the rehearsals. I think audiences will be blown away by the talent of the cast.”


That cast, which includes ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ winner Tom Chambers and West End star Charlotte Wakefield, are indeed supremely talented. While the ‘triple threat’ performer – singer, dancer, actor – is considered the holy grail of musical theatre, ‘CRAZY FOR YOU’, stars are quadruple threats. They also play their own instruments. “I’ve never been so in awe of a cast before,” Flack gushes.

CRAZY FOR YOU’, is a reunion of sorts for Flack and Chambers. Both won the BBC’s flagship Saturday evening dance competition and starred together when show’s live version toured the country.

When Flack talks about the ‘Casualty’ and ‘Holby City’ star, who built his stage reputation leading the casts of ‘Top Hat’ and ‘White Christmas’, she does so in terms that make him feel like a big brother. He looked after her, he supported her when she was nervous. He is, in fact, the ideal person to have around as you make your professional theatre debut.

It was her time on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2014, and the live tour, that reignited her ambition to perform on stage. It was an ambition she had held since childhood. When, as a teenager, she discovered that performing could be a career, she set her heart on it and studied for three years at Bodywork Company in Cambridge. “It’s the only real qualification I have,” she laughs.

Her ambition to perform on stage morphed into a presenting career when she started being offered jobs. From co-presenting Channel 4’s celebrity sports show ‘The Games’ in 2005, she moved to ‘Gladiators’, Saturday morning kids show ‘TMI’, ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now!’ and ‘The Xtra Factor’. They’re projects she clearly loved, but that eagerness to get back to the theatre was always lurking. Quite simply, she says, “I love the stage.”

“It wasn’t just a case of wanting to be on stage, it was wanting to be on stage but doing the right thing,” she explains. So why was this Watermill Theatre production of Crazy For You the show that brought her back to the theatre? The answer is that playing Irene gives her the opportunity to get to grips with a character rather than worrying about leading an entire show singlehandedly. It’s the chance to relearn her craft and refresh her memory of theatrical performance. And, in a show packed with glorious songs like I Got Rhythm and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, she has a fantastic solo number. “As soon as I head Naughty Baby,” she enthuses, “I thought ‘Yes, this is great.’”

Choreographer Nathan M Wright has created a new routine specifically for Flack. It’s still being finalised as we chat, so she can’t give too much away, but she does say it “plays to her strengths,” and uses a piano and rope. “It’s saucy and suggestive, but not too naughty,” she laughs.

Handily, for an actor about to set off on a tour around the country, she’s a fan of the nomadic life. “I’m a traveller at heart,” she grins. “There is so much more to the UK than London and I don’t get to see it enough, so I’m massively excited. There’s some really amazing venues around the UK, and to play them will be hugely exciting.”

Push her a little harder on where she’s most excited about visiting, though, and the ‘born traveller’ outlook fades, just a touch. “Norwich,” she says. “It’s my home town.” It’s not that she’s looking for home comforts, but that performing for an audience filled with family and friends will be a special occasion. “We’re planning some fun dinners afterwards,” she laughs.

She’s also looking forward to the show’s northern dates. The tour will head to Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool before Flack departs in December. “I think there’s something in me that should have been northern,” she giggles. “It’s very friendly up in the north. With the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ tour, the more northern you got, the more excitable the crowds were.”

I wonder whether, having worked on both ‘Strictly’ and ‘X Factor’, Flack has sought dance or vocal advice from any of those shows’ experts. “All my experts are standing in front of me in this production,” she replies. “I only have to ask them.”

She needs no extra advice on dealing with pre-show anxiety either. While she may not have performed in a musical before, competing in Strictly, both on TV and our tour, tested her courage. She’s an old hand at live TV too. “The nerves never kick in until just before you start,” she explains. “An hour before, they suddenly hit.” They come with a “good sickie feeling,” she says. “I have a little mantra I say to myself. It’s never changed. I say that in my head and then I get on with it.”

With Strictly, her success revolved around just two people. When she’s presenting, it’s often just Flack “on a sofa, chatting to someone”. With ‘CRAZY FOR YOU’, “you’ve got 30 people all working together.” And she is relishing the team ethos that comes with being part of a musical production.

The cast are even talking about getting her involved in the music side of the show. “Everyone says’ that they’re going to teach me something by the end of the tour. I am aiming for the drums.”

So don’t be surprised if, by a later tour date, you see Flack with drumstick in hand, proving herself not just a bona fide musical theatre star, but a quadruple threat too.

Can you imagine.

Crazy for You is currently at Theatre Royal Plymouth and then tours the UK until 5 May 2018. 

Princess Diana commemorated in Royal Vauxhall’s 20th Anniversary UK Tour

Royal Vauxhall, UK Tour. Photo by Phil Harris
Royal Vauxhall, UK Tour. Photo by Phil Harris

Royal Vauxhall, UK Tour. Photo by Phil Harris

In 1988, Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett reportedly helped Princess Diana escape the pressures of palace life by dressing her in drag and smuggling her into London’s notorious gay pub: the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Twenty years after her untimely demise and based on real accounts, Royal Vauxhall commemorates Diana’s death by reliving the night of her life.

As the princess, the clown and the rock king sing, drink and dance together, their wild night unfolds as the weight of responsibility and the spectre of AIDS looms over them.

Now the stuff of urban legend, details of the trio’s night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern first came to the fore in the 1998 autobiography of Cleo Rocos: the longtime collaborator of Kenny Everett. Royal Vauxhall irreverently opens up this infamous evening as three high-profile friends explore their sexuality, their mortality and the claustrophobia of Royal family life.

Royal Vauxhall was developed and first aired at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the celebrated gay pub where this notorious event purportedly took place, and one of the few iconic gay cabaret venues still standing. The show was written partly in response to the widespread closing of iconic gay and gay friendly pubs and clubs in London and around the country. It explores the need for safety and sanctuary for minority communities, as well as for famous people who need a place to hide.

Royal Vauxhall stars international musical comedy sensation Carrie Marx as Princess Diana (The Segue Sisters, Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen), cabaret favourite Joe Morrow as Kenny Everett (Café de Paris, Bungabunga) and the Edinburgh Spotlight Best Cabaret Award-winning performer and MC Desmond O’Connor (BBC Radio One’s Fun and Filth Scott Mills: The Musical).