Posts

Images released today of new cast in rehearsals for 1984 ahead of return to West End

Rehearsal images have today been released of an entirely new cast in rehearsals for Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation of 1984. The cast for the hit West End production of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece will be: Rosie Ede, Andrew Gower, Joshua Higgott, Richard Katz, Anthony O’Donnell, Daniel Rabin, Catrin Stewart and Angus Wright alongside Eve Benioff Salama, Cleopatra Dickens, Amber Fernee and India Fowler who will alternate the role of Child. Also making up the company, as understudies: Gerard Gilroy, Thom Petty and Ingrid Schiller.

Cast of 1984 in rehearsal. Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Cast of 1984 in rehearsal. Photo credit: Manuel Harlan
.

Following a sell-out international tour, the critically and publicly acclaimed production of 1984 will return to the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End this summer. George Orwell’s canonical work, adapted by Olivier Award-winner Robert Icke and Olivier Award-nominee Duncan Macmillan, will preview from 14 June 2016, with the press night on 28 June 2016

Now seen by over a quarter of a million people, this Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre production premiered at Nottingham Playhouse in September 2013. Since opening, 1984 has played to packed houses at the Almeida Theatre, as well as throughout its two West End runs and in performances across the globe during national and international tours.

April, 1984.13:00. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought, starts a diary and falls in love. But Big Brother is always watching.

The definitive book of the 20th century is re-examined in a radical, award-winning adaptation exploring surveillance, identity and why Orwell’s vision of the future is as relevant now as ever.

1984 is directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan with Daniel Raggett, set and costume is designed by Chloe Lamford, with lighting designed by Natasha Chivers, sound designed by Tom Gibbons and video designed by Tim Reid.

George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, is one of the most influential novels in recent history, with its chilling depiction of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance and incessant public mind-control.  Its ideas have become our ideas, and Orwell’s fiction is often said to be our reality.

West End First as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Launches Mobile Day Seats

For the first time in the West End, audiences can now access coveted Day Seats online, in a new collaboration between the award-winning show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the mobile ticketing app TodayTix.
Traditionally only available in person at the theatre box office, Day Seats have long been a favourite way to see hit shows at low prices. Now audiences can buy top tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for £25 on the day of performance via the TodayTix app.

The cast of Charlie and the Chocolate factory Photography by Matt Crockett

The cast of Charlie and the Chocolate factory Photography by Matt Crockett

Titled ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Rush’, the programme launches today and offers £25 tickets across all evening performances. To access these tickets, customers simply share the programme on social media via the TodayTix app to unlock the exclusive allocation. Tickets will be released every morning at 10am and can be purchased on a first-come-first-served basis.
Caro Newling, one of the producers of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, said: “Since opening Charlie in June 2013, we’ve developed ticketing initiatives to match the demands of a total audience of more than 2 million people. This initiative with TodayTix offers another great opportunity to channel further access to day seats, adding to an already vibrant “doors audience” which regularly reaches into the hundreds over a busy weekend at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.”
Merritt Baer, CEO and co-founder of TodayTix commented: “We’re thrilled to be launching our first West End Rush programme with the superb Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a spectacular home-grown musical, and are incredibly excited to help our customers attend theatre more often through exclusive access to the best prices.”
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has quickly become one of the West End’s most popular and successful stage musicals, and recently celebrated its 1250th performance as well as winning a London Lifestyle Award for Theatre Show of the Year, as voted for by readers of the London Evening Standard. It also won two Olivier awards in April 2014 and has broken records at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane where it opened in June 2013. It is currently taking bookings until 7 January 2017.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is directed by Sam Mendes. Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig, set and costume designs by Mark Thompson and choreography by Peter Darling.
The Official Cast Recording album is available on Sony Records, on CD and download.
This world premiere musical is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Langley Park Productions.
www.CharlieandtheChocolateFactory.com
Box Office: 0844 858 8877
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5JF
Booking until 7 January 2017

Sunny afternoon extends to October 2016

Tickets on sale now for Olivier Award-winning show’s extra dates

Show will celebrate two years in the West End in October

Fifty tickets at £19.66 for every show in July, celebrating fifty years since ‘Sunny Afternoon’ topped the charts and England won the World Cup

Due to public demand, the multi-Olivier award-winning hit British musical SUNNY AFTERNOON has announced another extension to its West End run, until 29 October 2016. The extension will take the show’s West End run past the two year mark.
This summer will also see the 50th anniversary of the release of The Kinks’ hit single Sunny Afternoon, which was released on 3 June 1966 and reached Number One on 7 July 1966 – just as England were winning the football World Cup.
To mark this anniversary, 50 top price tickets for every performance in July will be on sale for £19.66.

Sunny Afternoon

Danny Hoare, Tom Whitelock, Damien Walsh abd Oliver Hoare in Sunny Afternoon

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS TO THE SHOW

The critically-acclaimed new musical tells the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks. It has established itself as a firm favourite with audiences and critics alike since it opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in October 2014, and it begins a UK tour at the Opera House, Manchester, on 19 August 2016.
Ray Davies said: “I am delighted that Sunny Afternoon is extending in the West End and starting the national tour, playing many of the same venues The Kinks played on the road. Every time I visit the West End show I see people discovering it for the first time with the performances going from strength to strength.”
Danny Horn (Doctor Who; The Dead Dogs) plays Ray Davies, with Oliver Hoare (Antony and Cleopatra, Chichester) as Dave Davies, Tom Whitelock (Times Square Angel, Union) as bassist Pete Quaife and Damien Walsh (Dreamboats and Petticoats) as drummer Mick Avory. At certain performances, the role of Ray Davies will be played by Ryan O’Donnell (Romeo and Juliet, RSC; Quadrophenia).
Full cast: Jason Baughan, Niamh Bracken, Christopher Brandon, Harriet Bunton, Alice Cardy, Oliver Hoare, Danny Horn, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Megan Leigh Mason, Jay Marsh, Ryan O’Donnell, Stephen Pallister, Charlie Tighe, Gabriel Vick, Damien Walsh and Tom Whitelock. Understudies: Alice Cardy, Lia Given, Lloyd Gorman, Vicki Manser, Kay Milbourne, Nick Sayce, Robert Took, Alex Tosh, Robbie White.
Sunny Afternoon was the best performing show at the 2015 Olivier Awards, winning four awards.  The production won Best New Musical, Ray Davies won for Outstanding Achievement in Music, John Dagleish won Best Actor in a Musical and George Maguire won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.
Fifty years ago this year, The Kinks were sitting at Number One in the UK charts with their single ‘Sunny Afternoon’. The band’s popularity has not faded since the 1960s, with crowds of all ages filling the Harold Pinter Theatre night after night.
Featuring some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs, including You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset and Lola, Sunny Afternoon shows the music of The Kinks is still as popular as ever, more than 50 years since the band’s rise to fame.
Following a sold-out run at Hampstead Theatre, this world premiere production, with music and lyrics by Ray Davies, new book by Joe Penhall, original story by Ray Davies, direction by Edward Hall, design by Miriam Buether and choreography by Adam Cooper, opened at the Harold Pinter theatre on 28 October 2014. Lighting is by Rick Fisher, sound by Matt McKenzie and the Musical Supervisor and Musical Director is Elliott Ware.
The official cast recording album, produced by Ray Davies at his Konk studios, is released on BMG Chrysalis and is available to buy at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunny-Afternoon-The-Kinks/dp/B00NH8O7LU.
Sonia Friedman Productions commissioned Joe Penhall in 2011 to write the book based on Ray Davies’s original story. The company developed the production over the next four years, assembling the creative team and cast that presented Sunny Afternoon in 2014 at Hampstead Theatre under the direction of Edward Hall, and now at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Ray Davies is an influential and prolific rock musician and was co-founder and lead singer and songwriter for rock band The Kinks, and later a solo artist. He has an outstanding catalogue of hits from the earliest 1960s to the present day with estimated record sales in excess of 50 million. He has also acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television.
Joe Penhall is an award winning playwright and screenwriter. Plays include Some Voices (Royal Court), Blue/Orange (National Theatre and West End), winner of Best New Play at the Evening Standard Awards, Olivier Awards and at the Critics Circle, and Dumb Show, Haunted Child and Birthday (all Royal Court). Screenplays include Enduring Love and The Road.
As Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre, Edward Hall’s productions include Wonderland, Sunny Afternoon, Raving, Chariots of Fire, No Naughty Bits, Loyalty and Enlightenment. As Artistic Director of Propeller, his work has toured worldwide, played the West End and Broadway and has won numerous awards both in the UK and overseas. Other theatre work includes A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (National Theatre), Edmond with Kenneth Branagh (National Theatre), Macbeth with Sean Bean (Albery), The Constant Wife (Apollo), Julius Caesar (RSC), Henry V (RSC) and The Deep Blue Sea (Vaudeville). Television work includes Downton Abbey, Spooks and Kingdom.  Edward is an Associate of the National Theatre and the Old Vic.

Rehearsal images released for the Westend premiere of Disney’s new musical Aladdin

Ahead of its West End premiere at the Prince Edward Theatre, rehearsal images for Aladdin have been released today. From the producer of The Lion King, the new West End musical from Disney will debut at the Prince Edward Theatre on Wednesday 15 June 2016, with previews from Friday 27 May. Tickets are on general sale for performances up to and including 1 October 2016. For further details please visit www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk

Dean John-Wilson plays the role of Aladdin alongside Jade Ewen as Jasmine in the new musical based on the classic Academy Award®-winning animated film. Broadway cast member Trevor Dion Nicholas makes his London stage debut as Genie and is joined by Don Gallagher as Jafar, Peter Howe as Iago, Irvine Iqbal as the Sultan, Nathan Amzi as Babkak, Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Kassim and Rachid Sabitri as Omar.

Aladdin features the timeless songs from the classic 1992 animated film as well as new music written by Tony®, Olivier© and eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop Of Horrors). With lyrics from Olivier Award and two-time Oscar® winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony and Olivier Award, three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida), and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), and a book by Beguelin, Aladdin is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Now in its third record-breaking year on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, where it has been seen by more than 1.5 million people, Aladdin opened at Tokyo’s Dentsu Shiki Theatre Umi in May 2015 and had its European premiere in December 2015 at the Stage Theatre Neue Flora, Hamburg. Aladdin will open in Sydney, Australia in August 2016.

Previous Disney stage productions in London have included Shakespeare in Love and the Olivier-winning productions of Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and The Lion King, which is now playing its 17th record-breaking year in the West End.

Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, five-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, Olivier and two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis. Casting is by Jill Green CDG.

The production team also includes illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer, hair designer Josh Marquette and makeup designer Milagros Medina-Cerdeira. The music team is headed by music supervisor and music director Michael Kosarin, who also created the vocal and incidental music arrangements, joined by orchestrator Danny Troob and dance music arranger Glen Kelly.

ALADDIN

Prince Edward Theatre
28 Old Compton St
London W1D 4HS

Box Office number: 0844 482 5151

Website: www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk

Facebook: Aladdin London

Twitter: @AladdinLondon

Instagram: @AladdinLondon

#AladdinLondon

New Cast Announced for Third Westend Run of 1984

An entirely new cast has started rehearsals for Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation of 1984. The cast for the hit West End production of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece will be: Rosie Ede, Andrew Gower, Joshua Higgott, Richard Katz, Anthony O’Donnell, Daniel Rabin, Catrin Stewart and Angus Wright alongside Eve Benioff Salama, Cleopatra Dickens, Amber Fernee and India Fowler who will alternate the role of Child. Also making up the company, as understudies: Ingrid Schiller, Gerard Gilroy and Thom Petty.

Previous company of 1984 at Playhouse Theatre. Credit Manuel Harlan.

Previous company of 1984 at Playhouse Theatre. Credit Manuel Harlan.

Following a sell-out international tour, the critically and publicly acclaimed production of 1984 will return to the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End this summer. George Orwell’s canonical work, adapted by Olivier Award-winner Robert Icke and Olivier Award-nominee Duncan Macmillan, will preview from 14 June 2016, with the press night on 28 June 2016.

Now seen by over a quarter of a million people, this Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre production premiered at Nottingham Playhouse in September 2013. Since opening, 1984 has played to packed houses at the Almeida Theatre, as well as throughout its two West End runs and in performances across the globe during national and international tours.

April, 1984.13:00. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought, starts a diary and falls in love. But Big Brother is always watching.

The definitive book of the 20th century is re-examined in a radical, award-winning adaptation exploring surveillance, identity and why Orwell’s vision of the future is as relevant now as ever.

1984 is directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan with Daniel Raggett, set and costume is designed by Chloe Lamford, with lighting designed by Natasha Chivers, sound designed by Tom Gibbons and video designed by Tim Reid.

George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, is one of the most influential novels in recent history, with its chilling depiction of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance and incessant public mind-control.  Its ideas have become our ideas, and Orwell’s fiction is often said to be our reality.

Rosie Ede (Mrs Parsons) previously appeared in When We Are Married and Side by Side by Sondheim (both Bristol Old Vic), Crime At Blossoms (Brewhouse Theatre Taunton), Aladdin (Greenwich Theatre), The Bacchae and Blood Wedding (both for Royal & Derngate Northampton). Ede’s television and film credits include Doc Martin (Sky), My Family (BBC), Peak Practice (Carlton), Call The Midwife (BBC) and Finding Neverland (Miramax).

Andrew Gower (Winston) will make his West End debut in 1984, his previous stage work includes The Conquest of the South Pole (Rose Kingston) and Terror Tales (Hampstead Theatre). Gower is best known for his roles as Dr Andrew Mullery in Monroe, Gilbert in The Village and further on screen appearances in Outlander and Capital.

Joshua Higgott (Syme) has previously been directed by Robert Icke in Oresteia (Almeida/ West End), The Alchemist (Liverpool Everyman) and Romeo and Juliet (ADC Theatre). Higgott’s other theatre work includes Shakespeare in Love (West End), Regeneration (Royal & Derngate Theatre), Birdsong (UK Tour), Twelfth Night (Cambridge Arts Theatre), Two Gentlemen of Verona (US Tour/ ADC Theatre) and Julius Caesar (European Tour/ ADC Theatre). His film credits include The Machine (Red & Black Films), which won Best UK Feature at the Raindance Film Festival in 2013.

Richard Katz (Charrington) has been an integral member of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and Complicité. He has performed in and devised many shows for these companies including Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale, and The Master and Margarita, Measure for Measure and The Noise of Time respectively. Katz’s other numerous theatre credits include Richard II and Nell Gwynn (both Shakespeare’s Globe), War Horse (National Theatre), Faustus (Royal & Derngate Northampton) and The Hanging Man (Improbable). His work for television includes The Honourable Woman, Privates, Blessed (all BBC), The Passion (BBC/HBO) and Black Books (both Channel4).

Anthony O’Donnell’s (Parsons) rich career boasts an impressive range of work at the National Theatre includes The Captain of Kopenick, The Shaughraun, Bartholomew Fair, Ghetto, The Miser, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Under the Milk Wood, The Way of the World, The London Cuckolds and President of an Empty Room. He has also worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Donmar Warehouse.

Daniel Rabin (Martin) has worked extensively with Shakespeare’s Globe, appearing in Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, King John, Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Anthony and Cleopatra and Holy Warriors. Other stage work includes Oedipus (Nottingham Playhouse/Spoleto Festival), Ignorance (Hampstead Theatre) and Blue Remembered Hills (Chichester Festival Theatre).  His television credits include Game of Thrones (HBO), The Royals (E!) and Holby City (BBC).

Catrin Stewart (Julia) returns to work with Headlong, having played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (UK Tour), directed by Robert Icke. Recent stage credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Clywd Theatre Cymru), The Jew of Malta and Love’s Sacrifice (both Royal Shakespeare Company), The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic) and Mametz (National Theatre Wales). On screen Stewart is known for the recurrent role of Jenny Flint in Doctor Who (BBC), Emma Morris in Stella (Sky) and appearing in Misfits (Channel 4).

Angus Wright (O’Brien) previously worked with Robert Icke in Oresteia (Almeida/ West End). Wright’s vast body of theatre work includes The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic), in Twelfth Night/ Richard III (Globe Theatre/ West End/ Broadway), Privates on Parade (West End), The Master and Margarita (Old Vic), The Cat in the Hat (Young Vic/ National Theatre) and The Seagull, A Dream Play and Three Sisters (all National Theatre).  For television, he recently played Angus in Peep Show (Channel4) and further credits include Jekyll and Hyde (ITV), and Being Human, Waking the Dead and Hotel Babylon (BBC). His film credits include Jack Ryan (Paramount), Maleficent (Disney) and The Iron Lady (Pathé/ Film4).

Further casting announce for Dreamgirls starring Amber Riley

Savoy Theatre, London
Performances from 19 November
Dreamgirlswestend.com

  • Amber Riley will star in the role of ‘Effie White’ for 7 performances per week. Ruth Brown and Karen Mav will rotate performances on Wednesday evenings.
  • Singer/songwriters Ruth Brown and Karen Mav have been cast to support star Amber Riley playing the role of ‘Effie White’ for one performance per week between them.
  • Further casting for the production is still to be announced.

Sonia Friedman Productions announce today that Ruth Brown and Karen Mav will support  Amber Riley in the role of soulful singer ‘Effie White’ in Dreamgirls when the previously confirmed Ms Riley is not scheduled to perform (Wednesday evenings). Amber will star in the role for seven performances per week when the Tony Award-winning musical has its UK premiere at the Savoy Theatre with preview performances from 19 November and Opening Night on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

American actress and singer Amber Riley is best known for her role as ‘Mercedes Jones’ in the Golden Globe Award-winning musical comedy, Glee. Additional television appearances include playing ‘Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North’ in the NBC live performance of the musical, The Wiz and competing in Dancing with the Stars, which she won in 2013. Riley’s numerous theatre credits include Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the Woods and Mystery on the Docks with the Los Angeles Opera. In November 2012, she made her New York stage debut to rave reviews in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade.

Ruth Brown found fame in the first series of BBC’s The Voice, reaching the semi-finals under the mentorship of Sir Tom Jones. She has since gone on to release her first UK single ‘P.O.P.’ and is soon to debut her new album, Letters of Truth.

Karen Mav was recently a contestant on the 2015 series of ITV’s The X Factor where she wowed TV audiences and judges with her take on Etta James’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and the Whitney Houston version of the classic ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Sonia Friedman, Producer “This is fantastic news for the production. Casting Amber Riley is of course thrilling as she is the most extraordinary talent to star in our show, but now to be able to announce that Ruth Brown and Karen Mav will be joining the show, to cover Amber and share performances on the night that Amber will not be on is just fantastic.”

Full information on performance schedules will be updated on the official website Dreamgirlswestend.com

As previously announced, Dreamgirls will be Directed and Choreographed by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!), with Set Design by Tim Hatley, Costume Design by Gregg Barnes, Lighting Design by Hugh Vanstone, Sound Design by Richard Brooker and Hair Design by Josh Marquette. The Musical Supervisor will be Nick Finlow, the Orchestrator will be Harold Wheeler, with Additional Material by Willie Reale.

Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history. Dreamgirls charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous, and features the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’ .

With Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen and Music by Henry Krieger, the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett opened in 1981 and subsequently won six Tony Awards®. The original cast recording won two Grammy awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.’ In 2006 it was adapted into an Oscar winning motion picture starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

 

,

Mark Anderson talks about his role in The Toxic Avenger “It’s been great for me to step out of my comfort zone.”

 

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is an  immensely talented actor and musician based out of London. His theatre credits include  The Book of Mormon – Original West End Cast (Prince of Wales Theatre), Once Upon A Mattress (Union Theatre), Legally Blonde (National tour), Love me tender (The Churchill Theatre Bromley) and more. Currently he is starring as Toxie in The Toxic Avenger at Southwark Playhouse.

During the course of what follows you will hear Mark talking about various things. Enjoy!

Hello Mark! How the devil are you?
I’m really good ta.

You’re currently starring in Toxic Avenger at Southwark Playhouse. What’s that all about?
It’s a musical based a cult, 80s, B movie, horror film. It’s essentially your typical comic book superhero story; Nerdy guy Melvin Ferd, The Third is an aspiring earth scientist who gets dropped in a vat of toxic waste by some local thugs and evolves into The Toxic Avenger. The villain is the corrupt town Mayor who is importing toxic waste into Tromaville for large sums of cash. It’s written by Joe DiPietro who wrote I L ove You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Love Me Tender, which toured the UK last year, and David Bryan who is most famous for being in Bon Jovi. They also wrote Memphis together which was hugely successful in it’s West End run. Toxic Avenger is much smaller though, there are only five of us in the cast and three of those play multiple roles. The love interest is a blind librarian called Sarah and the Mayor also doubles as Melvin’s mother which culminates in her having a scene with herself. The other two guys literally play everyone else and quick change like there’s no tomorrow. I think what makes the piece is that it’s very aware of what it is. It self references and all of the fun and drama comes from whether or not people will make their changes and who they will come out as next. The material is SO strong and it’s just really good fun.

Mark Anderson as Toxie

Mark Anderson as Toxie

Pretty standard musical fare. You know the trendy people. Let’s call them tastemakers, the media etc. They don’t like to feel that something is too likely to be a hit; they play it cool. How anxious were you about taking on the lead role in the European Premier?
To be honest, I never considered that the response would be so fantastic. You hope but when you’re dealing with something new, you have no idea what the reaction will be like. When I got sent the script I just knew it was right up my street. Like I said, the songs are ace and when I read the script I was lol’ing every other line and I knew I wanted to do it. All you can ever hope to do is do the piece justice and to the best of your ability. I think that’s why we have something so special – there was never any pressure from anywhere but we all threw ourselves in so hard and all wanted to do well, for each other. It’s incredible to be acting with people and working for a creative team who inspire you so much, who you want to impress and work hard for and keep finding new things with every day. That’s why it works.
I never think of myself as the lead. There are only five actors in the entire thing and we all have as much to do as each other, yes, the story is about Toxie, but we’re all essential to creating the world we’re all living in, its more of an ensemble piece.
I was majorly anxious though. Ha! It was big deal for me to take on such a large role, I usually do the sidekick/geeky part and in my audition I told the director, Benji, that I was nervous about playing Toxie. Playing the nerd in the start comes more natural to me and I was worried about playing the character after he had transformed. Toxie is a 7 foot, big, green freak and has some serious songs to sing. This probably isn’t normal for a musical theatre performer but I don’t really like singing, it terrifies me. But, like anything, when you’re in context and wearing a load of prosthetics, covered in green makeup and are in character, telling a story the inhibitions seem to go away. It’s been great for me to step out of my comfort zone. When you’re used to playing certain roles you start to pigeon hole yourself and can doubt your abilities. But then that’s just part of being an actor I guess.

Toxic Avenger Team

Toxic Avenger Team with composer David Bryan

You’ve performed in some pretty big shows.(The Book of Mormon, Legally Blonde etc) Do you feel any pressure to look a certain way?
Ummm…yes, kind of. I gym a bit and always watch what I eat. This is a tricky one because it’s different for everyone. I’ve done some shows with some very physically fit people and when you’re sharing a dressing room with a group of boys who are all very in-shape, there is a certain pressure to keep up. Now, I’m quite happy knowing that I’m the best I can be and want to be. For me, the jobs I’m up for don’t require me to have a 48 inch chest but I think when you do what we do, your body is your toolkit or your office computer. You need to look after yourself because what we’re asked to do sometimes as actors is nuts and even a little cold can take you out for weeks.

What’s your favourite musical note and why?
Ha! My favourite musical note? Any one that comes out of Cynthia Erivo’s mouth probably.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
An anchovy. Dis-gus-ting! Why people eat those things is beyond me. I’m heaving.

Yuck! Who or what was your biggest influence as a performer?
Good question. I’ve never been so in awe of someone than Gavin Creel. I loved him before I met him and when we worked together I was so pleased he was nice. Ha! When we did Mormon, he was such genius onstage but that wasn’t even half of it. He was the beating heart of the building we all worked in. He included everyone and was a leading man in every sense of the word in every aspect of the job. We became great friends, he is so generous and kind and makes you feel so special. He did an ‘In Conversation With’ type thing one Sunday at the Charing Cross theatre with Ed Seckerson and he asked me to sing one of his original songs with him doing backing vocals and playing piano. I was so scared. He coached me and gave me confidence and some amazing advice I still practise now. He’s kind of incredible.

What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Is this because you know I’m obsessed with dinosaurs? They’re all so awesome. My twitter says that I’m a Triceratops so I’ll go with that. Though I always wanted to be able to fly when I was little so maybe a Pterodactyl. No, a Triceratops, final answer.

How good out of 10 was GYPSY?
10. I loved it. I love everything. I even saw the Light Princess five times (mainly because I love Tori Amos, but still).

Christ alive. Do you have anything exciting planned for the second half of 2016?
Not yet. Back to the drawing board. Wanna give me job?

If you were to take me out in West London for the evening where would we go? (Not as a date. It was never described as a date)
West London is very specific, ha! We’d go to the Southbank, it’s my absolute favourite place in London, especially when it’s sunny. From the London Eye right down to Tower Bridge. Then, we’d obviously go to the theatre.

Thanks Mark!
Thank YOU!

, ,

Mark Ravenhill, Playwright: “There is really only one rule to learn before writing a play”.

Mark Ravenhill
Mark Ravenhill

Mark Ravenhill

Mark Ravenhill is a playwright. 20 years later ‘Shopping and Fucking‘ still looks like it’s from the future and Mark continues to look ahead. I thought it would be nice to catch up with Mark to see exactly what’s happening. And I was right – it was very nice indeed.
Despite not really doing interviews he agreed to a chat. Here’s what happened.

Hi Mark Ravenhill. If you were to draw a graph of the last ten years, how would it look?
Some leaps of imagination needed here.  First, that I could draw a graph. Which I can’t.  I’ve never been able to stick to the squares on graph paper. And second, that I have the kind of mind that imagines shapes that fit on graph paper.  Which I don’t have either.  So my graph of the last ten years would me trying to think in a way which I can’t, using a medium that I’m not suited to.  In other words, my graph of the last ten years would be one of messy failure. That is not a metaphor. Or a cry for help.

A view from Islington north

A view from Islington north

 

What can you tell us about A View From Islington North the ‘evening of political satire’ you are contributing to with Out of Joint? ‘A View From Islington North’ is a celebration of Max Stafford-Clark’s relationships with playwrights.  All the playwrights who’ve written the pieces have had work directed by Max over decades. He first directed work by Caryl Churchill and David Hare in the 1970s.  I’m one of the johnny-come-latelies, having only first worked with him twenty years ago.  Max is a brilliant, infuriating, insightful and relentless director

What’s your favourite emoji?
The winky one

Shopping and Fucking

Shopping and Fucking

Shopping and Fucking is often described as a period piece isn’t it.
I don’t know how other people describe it (if it all) but yes I would describe it as period piece. I wanted to write what it felt like to be in your twenties in that moment in time.  It doesn’t have any references to contemporary events outside the play but it’s whole mood and style belongs to the late 1990s. It’s a play that is sorted for Es and whizz.

With writers it feels like there’s a constant expectation, and that they need to keep proving themselves, throughout their career. Which perhaps isn’t quite the same for a director where you can just keep going until you fall over. Is that a fair analysis?
Do you think so?  I think directors suffer from constant expectation and many fall out of favour and fashion.  But it’s true that there is a high burn out with playwrights.  Some have one brilliant debut at somewhere like the Royal Court upstairs and then never write again. Plenty write three or four plays and then find they have no more plays to write.  Very few write plays over a lifetime. I’m fifty this year. To ensure that I too ‘can just keep going until you fall over’ I’ve mapped out a cycle of forty full length plays.  I’m committed to writing one a year, finishing each one on my birthday June 7th.  So that will take me until I’m 90, when I will fall over and die as I will have advanced osteoporosis.
If you were to write a playwriting rulebook, what would Rule One be?
There is really only one rule to learn before writing a play.  Never under any circumstances use the line ‘the door was open so I let myself in’. Everything else is allowed.
Let’s imagine we’re putting theatre as an art form in a capsule to sending it into space, which one play do you put forward?
One play to represent the whole of world theatre?  Wouldn’t it need to be a DVD of a performance? (the question is in danger of conflating a ‘play’ with ‘theatre’).  But let’s say it’s a play text.  I think it would have to be one of the Greeks. That’s drama in its purest and arguably most powerful form.  I would pick Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’, although it could just as well be Euripides ‘Medea’ or Aeschylus “Oresteia’.  How about I write a new English version and we ping that into space alongside the Ancient Greek text?
Do you endlessly analyse your creative decisions or are you impulsive?
I write first drafts almost entirely on impulse and then use analysis (often aided by the director and sometimes the actors) to work through further drafts.

Do you pay attention to critics?
I’ll listen to anyone who can help me understand what I’m doing and how I might get better at it.
To the people who are still reading, do you have a final message?
The door is still open. Let yourself out. Thank you.

,

John Schwab and Matt Humphrey, “It’s not often that you take time to think about the process of the production.”

 

Royal Court Theatre, Curtain Call, photo by Matt Humphrey

Linda, Royal Court Theatre. © Matt Humphrey – Curtain Call (2016).

Curtain Call: A Year Backstage in London Theatre is the first in a series of photography books by photographer Matt Humphrey and actor/director John Schwab featuring an extraordinary collection of fly-on-the-wall backstage photography from London theatre productions in 2015/16. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards, in addition to exclusive backstage photography, Curtain Call also includes a foreword by renowned actor David Suchet and extended interviews with Chief Executive of The Old Vic Sally Greene, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Vicky Featherstone, casting director Jessica Ronane and actress Kate Fleetwood. The book is now exclusively available to buy from www.curtaincallonline.com

Tell us more about writing ‘Curtain Call’. Where did it come from?
John: Curtain Call was something I had a spark of an idea for when I was showing my sons some old programmes that I had from productions earlier in my career.  They asked if I had any real pictures from productions that I could show them, which I didn’t.  I realised that I also didn’t have any historical document other than the production photographs in those programmes as a testament to my career.  I thought this is something that needed to be addressed.  Theatre is such a visual medium, and there was nothing out there that could be seen once a production had closed.  I also wanted to make a website to service the same need and fill the same gap.  I approached photographer Matt Humphrey with the idea, and thankfully he was 100% up for doing it. It was serendipity that Matt had just finished documenting a year at The Hackney Empire. We started Curtain Call together and we haven’t looked back since.

Is this book for anybody or specifically a theatre audience?
John: I believe that this book is not only for a theatre audience, but also photography enthusiasts as well as anyone who is interested in what it takes to put any project together, be it a play, opera, film, radio show poetry event…you name it.  It envelops all corners of the art world. I think that anyone who enjoys aesthetically pleasing art would admire and get so much out of this book.

Gypsy, Savoy Theatre, photo by Matt Humphrey

Gypsy, Savoy Theatre

Gypsy, Savoy Theatre. © Matt Humphrey – Curtain Call (2016). (2)

How much do you think the general public care about backstage workers?
John: This is why I thought Curtain Call would be such a good idea.  It’s not often that you take time to think about the process of the production.  When we had our visit to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the company manager (Wyn Williams) told us that it takes over 150 people to make that show happen every day. 150!  Now an audience member is only going to see 25 or so people on stage and taking their bow.  I wanted to shed light on what it was like backstage – showing that there is more than just the performers on stage that is making the show tick.  I think that with Matt’s photography people are going to have a much better idea of the hard work, passion and dedication which runs through a company to make it the best production possible.  There is a fascination with what goes on backstage in any arena, and we wanted to shed light on the hard work carried out by all the professionals involved in a production

What is your favourite backstage area in the West End? 
John: There are quite a few.  The “hang out” area in ‘Billy Elliot’ was fun.  I do like a Green Room and there are some spectacular ones in the West End – and not for the glamour, but for the space.  The Vaudeville Theatre has a huge Green Room where everyone involved in the production hang out.  It’s such good fun being in there.  The Dressing Rooms 1 & 2 at Theatre Royal Haymarket are absolutely stunning, and something to behold.  But my favourite place of any backstage area is in the wings.  Some theatres have massive wings like Theatre Royal Drury Lane and some non-existent like The Criterion. They are all so unique, which makes them extremely exciting.

Curtain Call contains exclusive photographs, interviews and stories not available anywhere else. What sort of things can a casual reader expect to find?
John: The casual reader would expect to find exactly that.  Exclusive access to the best of London theatre and get an insight into what it takes to make a show run.  The reader will be allowed backstage, the holiest of holies of the theatre, a privilege that most theatre fans rarely get a glimpse of.  The casual reader will also recognise many of the faces and names in the book and will hopefully get a different perspective of that artist.

The 39 steps, Criterion Theatre, photo by Matt Humphrey

The 39 Steps, Criterion Theatre. © Matt Humphrey – Curtain Call (2016). (1)

Bearing in mind that obviously all photographers folk say “well I just do what I do” and so on, do you keep an eye on the movements of others you perceive to be your competitors?
Matt: Naturally I am interested in what other photographers are doing, and I would actually be very interested to collaborate with them – potentially through Curtain Call. I don’t really see other theatre photographers as competitors – we all have a distinct way of shooting and do different things. I have been fortunate to combine my experience of working backstage with my reportage and portraiture photography, which I think is quite unique, and people like that.

Thanks, lads!