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Open letter: It’s time to put an end to the toxic West End PR culture.

Dear all,
Long story short, it’s time to put an end to the toxic West End PR culture.
There are times in life when you have to say, “do you know what, let’s not put up with idiocy anymore.” The Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn piece arguing that two dads are not ‘the new normal’ crossed the line. Freedom of speech isn’t a passport to spout hatred and bigotry.

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For too long PR and The Daily Mail have had a toxic relationship with ‘scoops’ being handed over to their ‘Entertainment Reporter’ Baz Bamigboye. London theatre PRs extend Baz preferential treatment — when they owe equal attention to all media.

But the more you find out about theatre, and the more you find out about the way theatre works, don’t you find yourself realising that nothing, not even Baz’s scoops, really happen by accident?

The Daily Telegraph Chief Theatre Critic, Dominic Cavendish summed it up recently with this Tweet. 

Arts journalism and arts journalists deserve better. What are we, the theatre-consuming community, to take from all this? Well we can simply say that enough is enough.

I call on the following Press Managers / Publicists to restore the Arts PR business in the interests of preserving the sense of an inclusive, free and fair press and in recognition of transparent arts journalism.

NT Press Office

RSC Press Office

The Almeida Theatre

Emma Holland PR

Target Live

Jo Allan PR

Kate Morley PR

Cornershop PR

Draper Conway

Royal Court Theatre

Kevin Wilson PR

Premier PR  

Amanda Malpass PR

I will be updating this blog in 7 days time – I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Carl Woodward 

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Interview with the cat from ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’

Michael Grandage will direct The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh.

The PR campaign kicked off this week with bold artwork, which features Aidan Turner in a vest – holding a cat. The star of the show is undoubtedly the unassuming cat whose bloody paws hint at the pitch-black comedy within McDonagh’s play.

I caught up with cat earlier this week to find out how his involvement came about.

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Hello cat! How are you?

Fine, thank you.

How did you come to be on the The Lieutenant of Inishmore publicity material?

Right place, right time! I was on a night out with friends at The Ivy Club and after a few drinks I needed to pee, so went to the bathroom and bumped into Cameron Mackintosh who said he was looking for a cat for his latest venture with Michael Grandage. The rest is history. I couldn’t believe it when I got the call saying I was going to be part of the production.

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Aidan Turner

Why do actors pose like Aidan Turner has in your recent publicity shot? Is it because their talent isn’t apparent?

Ha! I think it comes from all those years of rejection. When one becomes a household name such as Aidan their ego can become inflated. I tend to keep myself to myself most of the time… I don’t think Aidan even realised I was a huge Poldark fan but he was very humble. I hope he keeps his shirt on during rehearsals.

Did you have any concerns about appearing in your winter coat?

I may be a bit chunkier than the average feline but I’m proud of how I look. And when you consider what I might have been wearing instead — a pair of boots for instance — I think it’s turned out fine.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is arriving after *another* James Graham play. Have you seen Quiz?

I saw QUIZ at Chichester… I think it’s a good play. I guess after the huge success of Labour of Love, James is in a really different place to where he was before — Ink was such a sophisticated play too, though, know what I mean? It pushed Graham to the theatre a-list and Quiz feels a bit like *another* crossover into the mainstream. I guess James’ profile and the momentum of his amazing 2017 will make it a massive hit anyway, but I’m kind of glad this is the last James Graham play on St. Martin’s Lane for a while. I’d really like to see an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in there. Perhaps Aspects of Love?

The full, all-Irish cast of The Lieutenant of Inishmore was announced earlier this week. Press night should be a laugh.

Yes, my agent called to tell me the news; I think it is a real top-notch cast. I am quite nervous at the prospect of starring in Aidan Turner’s West End debut.

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Aidan Turner and cat

Will you have stunt-double puppets for the gorier elements of the play?

No. I do all my own stunts.

So, what do you make of Aidan Turner swapping Poldark for a serious play?

I think it’s great. I don’t know him very well — that photo was the first time we met, and he didn’t say much to me — think he’s a great talent. Can you imagine the calibre of the projects and collaborators he’s been offered post-Poldark?

When you say he didn’t say much to you, what do you mean?

Well he didn’t say anything to me to be honest. He just stroked me occasionally.

Maybe he has allergies.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

Well Nick Hytner has been in touch, I might do a few adverts. But while I’ve enjoyed my brush with fame I think I’ll just keep a low profile. I’ll probably travel a bit.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore  runs at the Noël Coward Theatre from 4 July until 8 September with previews from 23 June.

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

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Five key shows opening in London in the next four months 

Here are five important shows opening in London between now and the middle of November. (Please note that I am open to doing regional shows and Fringe shows but thought it would be fun to start with the ‘big ones’ – just humour me for the time being)

Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August)

Tyrone Huntley and Declan Bennett both have a natural luminescence so intense that it would shine bright in a Vantablack theatre dungeon. This revival is perfectly at home at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock musical could raise the Titanic from the sea bed. Enjoy!

Five Guys Named Moe (29 August)

How do you think this will do?

It doesn’t exactly feel as if the world of theatre is ‘battening down the hatches’ in anticipation of an unstoppable Clarke Peters musical tsunami. At the same time: you can’t go wrong with a bit of Clarke Peters. (Unless you happen to be the person who designed the poster, who ‘went wrong’ on an epic scale.) Anyway, the cast are extremely talented and it’s on at this new pop-up theatre in Marble Arch. So, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’, etc.

Footloose (12 September)

At this point we are so far into ‘will this do’ territory that you might as well watch the 1987 film.  It’s always difficult to say that a movie musical is entirely pointless, especially when there are audiences enduring it on tour around the country. However, this show, literally a frame-by-frame recreation of the movie, does make you wonder

The Toxic Avenger – (28 September) 

This show is a JOY. Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s cult rock musical lands at the Arts Theatre following a storming month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Watch and learn, lesser theatre entities. This is how you do it.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – (6 November)

This show is a really exciting thing, isn’t it? The new musical by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae premiered at Sheffield Crucible last year and transfers to the Apollo Theatre. John McCrea is brilliant, and ‘Everybody’s Talking’ is a super-smart musical. If you enjoy it, buy the concept album.  

N.B. There are two plays (‘Ink’ and ‘Labour of Love’) by up-and-coming scribe James Graham opening this Autumn in St Martin’s Lane, apparently.