Death of a Salesman, Sharon D Clarke: “There is space for us to tell the stories that we want to tell – not just the stories we feel we have to tell.”

Sharon D. Clarke
Sharon D. Clarke hasn’t changed. That is, admittedly, something of a loaded statement. Obviously, she has changed. This year cemented her as UK theatre’s biggest superstar. Whether it is musical or play she always delivers the goods.

Earlier this year, Sharon received acclaim for her Linda Loman in Marianne Elliott’s and Miranda Cromwell’s sell-out revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic. This Loman family is black, which casts their drudgery in pre-civil rights American in a whole different light. She stars alongside Wendell Pierce as husband Willy Loman.

Her CV is prolific on stage and screen; with appearances on Doctor Who and Holby City as well as stints in The Lion King (as Rafiki) and We Will Rock You (originating the role of Killer Queen). Furthermore, in 2014 she won an Olivier Award for James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner at the National Theatre. In 2017 she picked up an MBE.

And earlier this year, she won one of the most coveted Oliviers: Best Actress in a Musical for playing the lead in the glorious revival of Tony Kushner’s civil rights musical Caroline, or Change – first at Chichester, Hampstead and then in the West End. She also found time to star in Blues in the Night at Kiln Theatre.

Sharon D Clarke, Blues in the Night –photo by Matt Humphrey

Sharon D Clarke, Blues in the Night –photo by Matt Humphrey

We are talking on the phone, Sharon is in her dressing room at the Piccadily Theatre, London where she is embarking on a 10-week run. The first question I ask, though, is a reference to her recent appearance in Elton John biopic Rocketman:

What were you like as a child, Sharon? She bursts out laughing. “As a child?” Clarke says slowly. “Chatty. I was a very sociable child. My school report actually said: ‘would do better if talked less.’ I was the child that other people came to with their problems; I was the girl in the loos telling the other girls that they were actually having a period. Problem solver, outspoken and lively.”

Clarke brings bluesy, fragile heartbreak to her Linda. How would she describe the character? “Linda’s all-consuming love for her husband is her biggest weakness and her biggest strength. From a woman’s point of view, she’s dealing with three very immature men: Willy and her two sons Biff and Happy. She’s also fighting to keep her family together.”

“These are the types of roles that I would have never had been seen for historically”, she insists. “To be able to get inside this play; a seminal piece of American literature, is a privilege. The way I see it is that Lynda is the glue within the family, her drive is supporting her husband because he’s not able to support himself emotionally and her concern for him keeps her going. She’s terrified for him every time he leaves the house. But I would say that she’s a very strong, ferociously loyal and loving wife and mother,” Clarke says.

Death of a Salesman in the West End Rehearsals - Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Death of a Salesman in the West End Rehearsals – Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

I ask what question people ask her most when she talks about this Death of a Salesman, produced by Elliott & Harper, Cindy Tolan and The Young Vic. “I would say nearly everyone asks me what difference does it make through the eyes of an African American family? How does it change the show? In answer to that question, it absolutely heightens and deepens the words,” she explains. “There are more things that leap out of Miller’s text that make more sense. For example when Willy demands his bit on the side to go back into the bathroom because it would have been illegal for a black man to have an affair with a white woman, Or when you’re boss who is calling you kid it takes on a different connotation – it is all representative of the glass ceiling – you look at this Loman family and from the outside they would have been doing well as they have a mortgage, a car and Willy has a job. But it would never go further as the world was never ready for that at that time.”

Death of a Salesman in the West End Rehearsals - Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Death of a Salesman in the West End Rehearsals – Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

I ask Sharon what it was like having two directors. Clarke considers this for a moment. “I wasn’t sure at first. But I found it to be a treat and a dream,” she begins. “Marianne and Miranda work on different aspects of the show and actually that works really well. For them, it’s not a new collaboration and they already have history (both worked closely on last year’s gender-swapped Company) and a unique shorthand. Sometimes they’ll finish each other’s sentences. As an actor you know that you are in safe hands with those women.”

We talk about theatre-making as a constant quest. Has Salesman taken her further along the path she needed to go? “I think every show does that. There is a whole new generation seeing this production, which is vital. It’s about finding more in your craft and discovering something that stretched you and challenges you so that you’re not jaded, or bitter and twisted,” Clarke says.

Caroline, Or Change has announced it will transfer to Broadway next year, with Clarke reprising her role. I ask her if she is excited to be making her Broadway debut. “Of course, I am,” she gasps. “Wow, that is such a wonderful opportunity and such a joy. I’m going with a show and it will be my fourth time doing it. So, it doesn’t necessarily allow me to be as nervous as I could have been,” she explains. “But I’m under this woman’s skin. I feel that I know Caroline and can do the character and that story complete justice.”

Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, or Change

Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, or Change

“What is especially exciting is Tony Kushner’s actual maid, whom Caroline is based on, is still alive and she might be able to come to see the show. That is giving me goose bumps right now just talking about it.”

Clarke is aware how rare it is for a black woman, like herself to be in a position of power in the industry, and she is determined to use her influence to tell stories that might not otherwise be heard. “I’ve been very lucky,” she says. “For me, as a performer it’s vital that we hold a mirror up to society and continue to tell these stories and there is space for us to tell the stories that we want to tell – not the stories we feel we have to tell.”

With that, it’s time for Sharon to clear off and perform for a sold-out audience at the Piccadilly. Before she goes, I ask how she stays positive in a turbulent world. “Let’s live the best lives that we can live,” Sharon decides. “Since the EU Referendum, with the ongoing uncertainty with Brexit, and especially what’s happening across the pond with the other guy…” she continues, “mankind needs to wake up. We seem to have forgotten that we’re all here sharing this planet.”

Death of a Salesman Trailer

Death of a Salesman is at the Piccadilly Theatre, London until 4 January 2020 

IAN McKELLEN ON STAGE British theatre charities announced

Sir Ian McKellen shaking his bucket
  • £3 Million raised for venues throughout the UK
  • Ian Mckellen’s ground-breaking theatre journey returns to the West End this weekend
  • 10 charities named to receive all profits for the West End run

Following an unprecedented, sold-out tour which raised £3 million for 80 theatres throughout the UK, Ian McKellen’s 80th birthday theatre journey continues with a return to London for 80 further performances at the Harold Pinter Theatre from tonight, Friday 20th September.

All profits to the West End show will be donated to 10 charities which raise vital funds for a cross section of people involved with the arts; from young theatre makers just starting out to retired theatre professionals and people with disabilities working in the industry. They include Denville Hall, English Touring Theatre, Equal People, King’s Head Theatre, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, National Youth Theatre, Ramps on the Moon, Royal Welsh College, Streetwise Opera and U Can Productions.

A limited availability of tickets is still available via

Ian McKellen says:

“Having raised essential funds for regional theatres, I am delighted to bring this show to the West End where the beneficiaries will be British theatre charities selected by those involved with the daily running of the show.”


With Tolkien, Shakespeare, others… and you!
Presented by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions
Directed by Sean Mathias

Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London SW1Y 4DN

Performance schedule*

First performance: 20th September 2019
Last performance: 5th January 2020
Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm
Sunday at 3:00pm

*Performance on 1st November at 2:00pm
*No performances from 2nd – 7th November

*Christmas schedule:

23rd December at 7:30pm
24th December at 3:00pm
25th December No performance
26th December No performance
27th December at 7:30pm
28th December at 7:30pm
29th December at 7:30pm

Tickets from £10 at or

Hit comedy NOISES OFF heads to the West End

Noises Off
  • West End transfer announced for Michael Frayn’s hit comedy
  • Garrick Theatre, London From 27th September
  • Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 24th July at 10AM via

Two plays for the price of one!

Michael Frayn’s classic farce about a farce, Noises Off, which has played all over the world where theatre is done, returns to the West End for the fourth time as it heads to the Garrick Theatre from 27th September 2019 to 4th January 2020. “Is this the funniest farce ever?” asked the Evening Standard when this production opened at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.  And replied: “Yes. Yes it is.”

ALSO, simultaneously, and at no extra cost, the farce that the characters of Noises Off are playing, Nothing On, is making its epic tour from Weston-super-Mare to Stockton-on-Tees. “Is this the most remarkable entertainment to hit Ashton-under-Lyne since the Black Death?” asked the Ashton-under-Lyne Advertiser.  And replied: “Possibly.  Apart from the Second World War.”

Reprising their roles for the West End in the side-splitting comedy play(s) will be:

BAFTA Television Award nominee Meera Syal (Beautiful Thing, Absolutely Anything and The Kumars at No. 42) as Dotty Otley portraying Mrs Clackett, the housekeeper with a taste for sardines.

Lloyd Owen (Cleaning Up, Monarch of the Glen and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) as Nothing On’s director extraordinaire Lloyd Dallas.

BAFTA winning Daniel Rigby (BBC Two’s Eric & Ernie and One Man, Two Guvnor) as Garry Lejeune, who in turn gives us his best Roger Tramplemain.

Simon Rouse (Hangmen, Local Hero, The Bill) is Selsdon Mowbray, who, if he can remember where he is in the script, will play the Burglar.

Further casting to be announced.

This rip-roaring production, directed by Jeremy Herrin (All My Sons, This House, Wolf Hall), is currently bringing the house down at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

After watching from the wings a production of his 1970 farce The Two of Us with Richard Briers and Lynn Redgrave, also at the Garrick Theatre, and noting that the goings on behind the scenes were funnier than out front, Michael Frayn wrote Noises Off. The original production directed by Michael Blakemore, opened at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 1982 before heading to the West End, Broadway and beyond. A feature film was made ofNoises Off in 1992.

Girl From The North Country to return to the West End for eight weeks only

Girl From The North Country

The critically-acclaimed hit Girl from the North Country, written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan, is to play at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End for a limited season from 10 December 2019 to 1 February 2020. Girl from the North Country opens in the West End following a run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, opening 28 September 2019, and prior to the Broadway production opening in March 2020 at The Belasco Theatre.

An instant classic’ The Times *****
Piercingly beautiful’ The Independent *****
Conor McPherson weaves magic with Bob Dylan’s songs’ The Observer *****

‘A Ravishing Production! Bob Dylan’s songs have never sounded so heartbreakingly personal and universal. As close as mortals come to heaven on earth’ New York Times
The full cast for Girl from the North Country at the Gielgud Theatre includes Daniel Bailey (Ensemble), Colin Bates (Gene Laine), Katie Brayben(Elizabeth Laine), Anna Jane Casey (Mrs Burke), Nicholle Cherrie (Ensemble), David Ganly (Mr Burke), Simon Gordon (Ensemble), Steffan Harri(Elias Burke), David Haydn (Ensemble), Rachel John (Mrs Neilsen), Sidney Kean (Mr Perry), Finbar Lynch (Reverend Marlowe), Donald Sage Mackay (Nick Laine), Gloria Obianyo (Marianne), Ferdy Roberts (Dr Walker), Wendy Somerville (Ensemble), Gemma Sutton (Katherine Draper), Shaq Taylor (Joe Scott) and Alan Vicary (Ensemble).

Girl from the North Country opened at The Old Vic in July 2017 to huge critical acclaim and playing to sold out audiences. It transferred to the Noël Coward Theatre in December 2017 and won the 2018 Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical as well as being nominated in the Best New Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music and Best Actor in a Musical categories. The production went on to have a sold out run at the Public Theater, New York in 2018. Girl from the North Country opens at the Gielgud Theatre following a run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, from 28 September to 24 November 2019.  The Broadway production will open on 5 March 2020, with previews from 7 February, at The Belasco Theatre.  Casting for the Broadway production is to be announced.

  1. A time-weathered guesthouse in the heartland of America. Only a song can shake off the dust for one group of wayward souls—and old dreams may hold the promise of new beginnings. As they pass in and out of each other’s lives, their stories awaken with passion, fury and extraordinary beauty.

Reimagining the music of Bob Dylan as roof-raising ensemble pieces and soul-stirring solos, celebrated playwright Conor McPherson (The Weir, The Seafarer) writes and directs this heartbreaking and universal story about family and love.

Girl from the North Country features scenic and costume design by Rae Smith; orchestrations, arrangements, and music supervision by Simon Hale, with additional arrangements by Simon Hale and Conor McPherson, lighting design by Mark Henderson; sound design by Simon Baker; movement direction by Lucy Hind and casting by Jessica Ronane CDG.

Girl from the North Country is produced by Tristan Baker & Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Steven Lappin, Sony Music Entertainment UK, David Mirvish and The Old Vic

Daniel Bailey (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Jesus Christ Superstar (Barbican Centre); Wizard of Oz (Pitlochry Festival Theatre); King (Hackney Empire); Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Queens Theatre, Hornchurch); Hair (The Vaults); Motown the Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre); Wheel of Misfortune (The Old Red Lion Theatre); The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre); South Pacific (UK tour); Blues Brothers (Erasmus Theatre) and Hair(Bronowski Productions).

Colin Bates (Gene Laine). Theatre includes: Billy Elliot the Musical (West End); The Effect (Off-Broadway); Oliver! (UK Tour); A Picture of Dorian Gray (A Noise Within) and Switzerland (Geffen Playhouse). Film and TV includes: The Good ShepherdNaked NormandyLa PrièrePachamama,Nice Talking to YouDating My MotherT11 IncompleteSneaky PeteThe ShowChildren’s HospitalOne Life to Live and Ghost Recon Wildlands 2.

Katie Brayben (Elizabeth Laine). Theatre includes: Honour (The Park Theatre); A Walk on The Moon (The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco); The Spoils (Trafalgar Studios); My Mother Said I Never Should (St James Theatre); Beautiful -The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre, Winner of Best Actress in a Musical Olivier Award 2015); King Charles III (Almeida and Wyndham’s Theatres); American Psycho (Almeida Theatre);Joking Apart (Nottingham and Salisbury Playhouse); Ragtime The MusicalA Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); 13(National Theatre); John and Jen (Landor); Friday 4pm (Arcola Theatre); Company (Southwark Playhouse); Is Everyone OK? (nabakov and NuWrite); Counted? (UK Tour); The Great British Country Fete (Bush); Skin Tight (Riverside Studios); Mamma Mia! (Ten year anniversary cast and International Tour and West End); Return To The Forbidden Planet (UK Tour) and Some Girls are Bigger Than Others (Lyric Hammersmith, Dublin Theatre Festival). Her film and television credits Self Help – A Serial Killer’s Guide To LifeLuther, The AlienistDoctor WhoKing Charles III andVera.

Anna-Jane Casey (Mrs Burke). Theatre includes: Calendar Girls (UK Tour); Billy Elliot (West End, UK and International Tour); Stepping Out (West End); Annie Get Your GunFlowers For

Mrs Harris, Sweet CharityPiaf (Sheffield Theatres); Mack and Mabel (Chichester Festival theatre and UK Tour); Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre, London); Sunday in the Park with GeorgeForbidden Broadway (Menier Chocolate Factory); Hobson’s ChoiceMack and Mabel (Watermill, Newbury).

Film and TV includes: Family GuyCoronation StreetThe RoyalDoctorsEastEnders,

The BillHeartbeatHolby City and Beyond the Sea.

Nicholle Cherrie (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe); Leave Taking (The Bush Theatre); Mamma Mia (Cyprus) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Regents Park Open Air Theatre). Television Includes: Doctors.

David Ganly (Mr Burke). Theatre includes: Girl from the North Country (Noel Coward Theatre); On Blueberry Hill (Dublin Theatre Festival); Once(Olympia Theatre Dublin); Lonesome West (Tron Theatre); The Plough & the Stars (Abbey Theatre Dublin and Irish & US Tour); Shakespeare in Love(Noel Coward Theatre); Threepenny Opera (Gate Theatre); King Lear (Theatre Royal Bath); Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith); Macbeth (Sheffield Crucible); The Lonesome West (Druid Theatre, The Royal Court, Sydney Festival and Lyceum, Broadway); Of Mice and Men (The Watermill); The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium); The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Young Vic) for which David received an OFFIE nomination for Best Actor; Chicago(Cambridge Theatre London); The Weir (Gate Theatre); Translations (National Theatre) and The Full Monty (Prince of Wales Theatre). Film and TV includes: Citizen Charlie, Sunset Song, Body of Lies, Hippie Hippie Shake, Dorothy Mills, Widow’s Peak and Space Truckers.

 Simon Gordon (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (Dominion Theatre, London Coliseum, International Tour); Moulin Rouge!Julius CaesarParadeAlba Nuadh (RADA). Film and TV includes: Scrambled EggsSuperstarRoby and The Gates of Nargara and Milk.

 Steffan Harri (Elias Burke). Theatre includes: Shrek in Shrek The Musical (UK & Ireland Tour); Les Misérables (Queens Theatre); Monty Python’s Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre); Hollti (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru); Little Shop of Horrors (Aberystwyth Arts Centre) and Children Of Eden (Prince of Wales Theatre). Television includes: Rownd a Rownd.

David Haydn (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Cat on a Hot Tin RoofThe Wedding Singer (Summer Rep Theatre); Gaslight (Ed Mirvish Theatre); Stones in His Pockets (Popular Productions); The Irish Curse (Edinburgh and Dublin Festivals); Jamie the Saxt (Finborough Theatre); Kinky Boots(Adelphi Theatre); The Secret Garden (Barn Theatre); The Burnt Part Boys (Park 90); I Dreamed a Dream (UK Tour); Parade (Southwark Playhouse); Fame (UK Tour) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour).

Rachel John (Mrs Neilsen). Theatre includes: Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre); The Color

Purple (Concert – Cadogan Hall); The Bodyguard (Dominion Theatre and Toronto); Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre); RENT (UK Tour); We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre and UK Tour); Sister Act (London Palladium); The Legend of the Lion King (Disneyland Paris) and The Lion King (Asian Tour and Lyceum Theatre).

Sidney Kean (Mr Perry). Theatre includes: Berberian Sound Studio (Donmar Warehouse), Toby Belch is Unwell a One man show (London, Prague, Bristol & Edinburgh, Fetch Theatre), Fever Chart (Trafalgar Studios, Theatre Royal York), Legal Fictions (Savoy Theatre), Public Interest (New Diorama) Henry1V Part 1(NTC), The Odd Couple (MK Productions). TV work includes: Coronation Street, Silent Witness, The Fear, The Long Firm, Frost, Doc Martin, Poirot, 2Point4 Children, The Bill, EastEnders, Brookside, Lovejoy, Grange Hill, Casualty, Blakes 7, Robin Hood, Raphael The Mortal God, Warship, King Oedipus (Play for Today), Dixon of Dock Green. Film includes: Hatton Garden The Heist, The Village in The Woods, Orthodox, Lifeforce, Queen of Hearts, Revelation Hanuman, Lucas & Albert, Subverted, Gli Zii. Radio includes King Street and King Street Revisited(BBC), The Government Inspector (BBC) Travels With My Aunt (BBC) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (BBC) and 30 episodes of the highly acclaimed, amusing and comical Mission Improbable as Agent X The Master of Disguise (BBC World Service).

Finbar Lynch (Reverend Marlowe). Theatre includes: Girl from the North Country (Noel Coward Theatre); The Lady from the Sea (Donmar Warehouse); Richard III (Almeida Theatre); Ma Rainey’s Black BottomThe HothouseAntony and CleopatraNot About NightingalesKing Lear(National Theatre); Antigone (Barbican Centre / World Tour); The Silence of the Sea (Trafalgar Studios); Desire Under The ElmsThe Big Fellah (Lyric Hammersmith); The Fairy Queen (Glyndebourne / Paris / New York); The Duchess of MalfiDancing at Lughnasa (The Old Vic); Faith Healer (Bristol Old Vic); The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist (Chichester Festival Theatre / Liverpool Everyman); The Fastest Clock in the Universe (Hampstead Theatre / Leicester Curve); Portrait of a LadyA Doll’s House (Bath Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Rose Theatre Kingston); Three Sisters on Hope Street (Hampstead Theatre / Liverpool Everyman); Ghosts (Gate Theatre); The TempestJulius CaesarA Midsummer Night’s DreamMeasure for MeasureCoriolanusThe AlchemistThe VirtuosoAmphibiansA Woman Killed with KindnessThe Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC). Film and TV includes: TreadstoneThe Mallorca FilesThe DevilsThe FeedFoyle’s WarDCI BanksBreathlessThe MusketeersGame of Thrones, Silk, Inspector George Gently, Richard II, Proof, Dalziel and Pascoe, Waking the Dead, Red Cap, Atilla the Hun, Second Sight, Mind Game, Holby City, Small World, Between the Lines, Glenroe, Adventures of a Mathematician, The World We Knew, Black 47, Property of the State, Suffragette, Child 44, Departure, The Numbers Station, Matilde, To Kill a King, Lost Batallion, King Lear, Scold’s Bridle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Schooner and Rawhead Rex.

 Gloria Obianyo (Marianne Laine). Theatre includes: Antony and Cleopatra (National Theatre); Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic); The Wild Party (The Other Palace); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Donmar Warehouse) and Fanny and Alexander (The Old Vic). Film and TV includes High Life, Dune and Good Omens.

Ferdy Roberts (Dr Walker). Theatre includes: Twelfth NightMacbethA Midsummer Night’s DreamThree Sisters, Water (Lyric Hammersmith); Twelfth Night (Tricycle Theatre); The Caucasian Chalk Circle (National Theatre); Silence (RSC); Faster (London /New York); Fatherland (Royal Exchange); Plaques and Tangles (Royal Court); Lampedusa (Soho Theatre); Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre); Open Court, If You Don’t Let Us Dream We Won’t Let You Sleep (Royal Court); WallensteinThe Sea (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Birthday PartyThe Dumb Waiter(Bristol Old Vic); Girl in a Goldfish Bowl (Sheffield Crucible);  Frankenstein (Derby Playhouse); Another Country (West End) and The Changeling, Beautiful ThingThe Rise And Fall Of Little Voice (Salisbury Playhouse). Film and TV includes: Dark AngelFoyles War, Whistleblower, The Bill, Goldplated, Your Mother Should Know, Holby City, Doctors, A Touch Of Frost, What You Will, Mr Nice, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and Honest.

 Donald Sage Mackay (Nick Laine). Theatre includes: True West (Vaudeville Theatre); Angry Alan (Edinburgh Fringe First Award, Soho Theatre, Aspen Fringe); White Guy on the Bus (Finborough Theatre); Moon for the Misbegotten (Lyric, Belfast); Linda (MTC); Fred’s Diner and The Other Place (Magic), Our Town (ATL), stop. reset. (Signature), Blood & Gifts and His Girl Friday (La Jolla Playhouse); Game’s Afoot (Cleveland Play House) and Six Degrees of Separation (Old Globe). Film and TV includes: Deep State, Treadstone, Looming Tower, Modern Family, Mad Men, Frasier, Masters of Sex, Elementary, Blue Bloods, Good Wife, House, West Wing, NCIS, Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, Weeds, The Shield, Star Trek Enterprise, According to Jim, ER, Scrubs, The Practice, Providence and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Wendy Somerville (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Local Hero (Royal Lyceum Theatre); School of Rock (Gillian Lynne Theatre); The 306: Day(National Theatre of Scotland); Cinderella (London Palladium); Threepenny Opera (National Theatre); Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre); Hairspray(Shaftesbury Theatre & UK and Ireland Tour); Sweeney Todd (Adelphi Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre); Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre) and Writer’s Cramp (Saint-Saëns Festival). Television includes: Classical Brit Awards 2011, Royal Variety Performance and 25th Anniversary Concert 2010 – Les MisérablesBilly Elliott the Musical – LiveRoyal Variety Performance 2007 – Hairspray. Recordings include Sweeney Todd London cast recordingScrapbook and Michael Ball Past and Present

Gemma Sutton (Katherine Draper). Theatre includes: Follies (National Theatre); Sweet Charity (Watermill Theatre); The Rink (Southwark Playhouse) Winner of Offie for Female performance in a Musical; A Christmas Carol the Musical (LMTO); Strictly Ballroom (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto); The Go Between (Apollo Theatre); Gypsy (Savoy Theatre); Sound of Music (Cairo), Gypsy (Chichester Festival Theatre); Carousel (Arcola Theatre); Blues in the Night (Hackney Empire); Chicago (Leicester Curve Theatre); Drunk (Leicester Curve Theatre and The Bridewell Theatre, London); Hairspray (UK Tour); Me and My Girl (Kilworth House Theatre); Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre); Dames at Sea (Union Theatre); The Kissing Dance (Jermyn Street Theatre); Oklahoma! (UK tour), Gone with the WindImagine This (New London Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s DreamMacbethLady Be Good and The Boy Friend (Regent’s Park Open Air); Children Will Listen (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) and Crimes of the Heart (Union Theatre). Film and TV includes: West Side Stories, DoctorsCilla. Recordings include: Gypsy London Cast RecordingImagine This Original London Cast Recording.

Shaq Taylor (Joe Scott). Theatre includes: Hadestown (National Theatre); Sweet Charity (Nottingham Playhouse); Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre). He was runner-Up in the Stephen Sondheim Student Performer of the Year 2017 (Noel Coward Theatre). Film includes: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Alan Vicary (Ensemble). Theatre includes: Moll Flanders (Mercury Theatre); Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre); A Damsel In Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Crucible (The Old Vic); King Lear (Chichester Festival Theatre, BAM New); Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix Theatre, UK tour); The Sound Of Music (Manama, Bahrain, London Palladium); The Secret Garden (Birmingham Rep); The Fantasticks (Duchess Theatre); The Power Of Yes (National Theatre); Carousel (Savoy Theatre); Gone With The Wind (New London Theatre); Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre);Les Miserables (Palace Theatre); Kiss Me, Kate (Victoria Palace Theatre); The Phantom Of The Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre, UK Tour); The Duchess Of Malfi (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh); Brigadoon (Victoria Palace Theatre) and Me And My Girl (Adelphi Theatre). Film and TV includes:London Road, Para Handy, Taggart, Timewatch. Recordings include: Cast albums of BrigadoonMary PoppinsThe Sound Of Music and the Original West End Cast recording of Kinky Boots.

Conor McPherson is an acclaimed writer and director. He was born in Dublin in 1971 and attended University College Dublin where he began to write and direct. Stage plays include Rum & VodkaThe Good ThiefThis Lime Tree BowerSt NicholasThe Weir (Olivier, Evening Standard, and Critics Circle Awards); Dublin CarolPort AuthorityShining City (Tony Award nominated);The Seafarer (Tony, Olivier and Evening Standard Award nominated); The Veil, and The Night Alive (New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, Olivier, Evening Standard and Lucille Lortel Award nominated). Adaptations include Franz Xaver Kroetz’s The Nest, and August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death. Screen credits include the screenplay for the BBC series Paula, broadcast earlier this year.

Bob Dylan is one of our culture’s most influential and ground-breaking artists. Born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1941; self-taught on piano, guitar and harmonica, he travelled to New York City in 1961, quickly establishing himself as an explosive performer in the Greenwich Village music scene. More than half a century later, Dylan continues to perform almost 100 concerts each year. He has released more than 50 albums and written over 600 songs. He’s sold more than 125 million records and is the holder of 11 Grammy Awards. His songs have been covered more than 6000 times by artists as diverse as Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Adele. He is also an accomplished visual artist and author, and in 2016 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature – the first songwriter to receive such a distinction.

Sheridan Smith returns to the West End in new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith

Today Michael Harrison and the Really Useful Group have announced that BAFTA and Olivier Award-winning actress Sheridan Smith will return to the West End this summer in the new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.

Sheridan will play The Narrator, as the iconic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice is re-imagined in a brand new production. The production will play a strictly limited 11-week season from Thursday 27 June (Press Night: Thursday 11 July 2019).

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be directed by Laurence Connor. Laurence’s credits include the acclaimed London production of School of Rock and the Tony-Award nominated production on Broadway, the recent London productions of Miss Saigon and Chess, the international arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and he is also the Co-Director of the new version of Les Misérables which has enjoyed worldwide success including Broadway, UK and US tours.

Laurence will be joined on the creative team by Choreographer JoAnn M Hunter (who has 20 Broadway shows to her credit, including School of Rock and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever), the award-winning Morgan Large who will design the set and costumes, Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell and Sound Designer Gareth Owen.

Double Olivier Award winning Sheridan Smith is Britain’s most captivating young actress. She made her TV debut in 1999 in ITV’s comedy series Dark Ages and went on to become a renowned household name on the long running cult series Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Her other TV credits include her starring role in Mrs Biggs, for which she was named Best Actress at the 2013 BAFTA TV Awards and was nominated for an International EMMY, and winning the National TV Award for her highly acclaimed portrayal of British icon Cilla Black in ITV’s 3-part drama Cilla, for which she was also nominated for her second BAFTA and International EMMY. Her most recent TV project was the ITV Primetime Drama Cleaning Up.

Her film credits include HysteriaTower BlockQuartet and Universal’s The Huntsman and Winter’s War.

Sheridan made her stage debut at the Donmar Warehouse in Into the Woods, and has since gone on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses in UK theatre. She earned her first Olivier Award Nomination for her performance in Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End, and in 2009 was awarded her first Olivier Award for her role of ‘Elle Woods’ in the West End production of Legally Blonde the Musical. She also won the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her role of ‘Doris’ in Flare Path. Most recently Sheridan enjoyed a highly celebrated run at The Savoy Theatre in Funny Girl, playing ‘Fanny Brice’, a role last played by Barbara Streisand.

Released as a concept album in 1969, the stage version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has become one of the world’s most beloved family musicals. The multi-award-winning show, which began life as a small-scale school concert, has been performed hundreds of thousands of times including multiple runs in the West End and on Broadway, international number one tours, and productions in over 80 countries as far afield as Austria and Zimbabwe and from Israel to Peru! The show features songs that have gone on to become pop and musical theatre standards, including Any Dream Will DoClose Every Door To MeJacob and Sons, There’s One More Angel In Heaven and Go Go Go Joseph.

Told entirely through song with the help of the NarratorJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat follows the story of Jacob’s favourite son Joseph and his eleven brothers. After being sold into slavery by the brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled showman, the Pharaoh. As Joseph strives to resolve Egypt’s famine, he becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man and eventually reunites with his family.

 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is produced by Michael Harrison.

Rehearsal image of ‘Betrayal’ featuring Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox

Betrayal cast triptych. Images by Charlie Gray
Betrayal cast triptych. Images by Charlie Gray

Betrayal cast triptych. Images by Charlie Gray

 Ashton and Cox star alongside Tom Hiddleston in Jamie Lloyd’s production of Betrayal by Harold Pinter

–   The Jamie Lloyd Company production will run for a strictly limited season from 5 March at the Harold Pinter Theatre, in the West End

Rehearsals began this week for The Jamie Lloyd Company production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal which runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 5 March 2019 for a strictly limited season ending on 1 June.  Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the production stars Golden Globe, Olivier and Evening Standard Award winner Tom HiddlestonZawe Ashtonand Charlie Cox.

 To mark the event, a new triptych of cast images by photographer Charlie Gray has been released.

 With poetic precision, rich humour and an extraordinary emotional force, Betrayal charts a compelling seven-year romance, thrillingly captured in reverse chronological order. The complexities of the human heart are explored in this, “the greatest, and the most moving, of all Pinter’s plays” (The Daily Telegraph).

Tom Hiddleston returns to the London stage as Robert following his acclaimed Hamlet directed by Kenneth Branagh and his Evening Standard Award-winning performance in Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in 2014. 

 His theatre credits include: Hamlet, Coriolanus, Ivanov, Othello, Cymbeline, The Changeling. His film credits include: Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, Kong: Skull Island, I Saw The Light, High-Rise, Crimson Peak, Thor: The Dark World, Exhibition, Only Lovers Left Alive, Avengers, War Horse, The Deep Blue Sea, Thor, Archipelago, Unrelated. His television credits include: The Night Manager, The Hollow Crown (Henry IV Parts I & II, Henry V), Wallander, Miss Austen Regrets, The Gathering Storm.

 Zawe Ashton will play Emma. Like Pinter, Ashton was born in Hackney, London. Known for her roles in television sitcom Fresh Meat, the comedy series Not Safe for Work, Wanderlust and the forthcoming Velvet Buzzsaw, Zawe starred in The Jamie Lloyd Company production of Jean Genet’s The Maids at Trafalgar Studios and played the title role in Lloyd’s production of Salomé for Headlong.

 Charlie Cox, who plays Jerry, is best known for the leading role in Daredevil for Marvel, Tristan Thorn in Stardust, Jonathan Hellyer Jones in The Theory of Everything and Owen Sleater in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. On stage, he appeared in the 2008 production of The Lover & The Collection, directed by Jamie Lloyd at the Comedy (now Harold Pinter) Theatre, the title role in The Prince of Homburg at the Donmar Warehouse and Nick Payne’s Incognito in New York.

 Betrayal is presented by The Jamie Lloyd Company, Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Ben Lowy Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions and Glass Half Full Productions.

 Harold Pinter was born in Hackney, London in 1930. He lived with Antonia Fraser from 1975 until his death on Christmas Eve 2008.

 Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter was lauded throughout his life as one of the greatest living playwrights, who had a revolutionary impact on how theatre was written and performed, and who it represented on stage. An establishment agitator who challenged injustice, he became as famous for his political interventions as for his writing later in his life.

 His genius was recognised within his lifetime as a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, the Companion of Honour for services to Literature, the Legion D’Honneur, the European Theatre Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award and the Moliere D’Honneur for lifetime achievement. In 1999 he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature, in addition to 18 other honorary degrees.


After working as an actor under the stage name David Baron, Pinter went on to be a theatrical playwright, director, screenwriter and actor.

 He wrote his first play The Room in 1957 and from there 29 plays, including The Birthday Party, The Hothouse, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, Old Times, No Man’s Land, and Betrayal.  Sketches include The Black and White, Request Stop, That’s your Trouble, Night, and Precisely.

 Pinter directed 27 theatre productions, including James Joyce’s Exiles, David Mamet’s Oleanna, seven plays by Simon Gray and scores of his own plays including his last,Celebration, paired with his first, The Room, at The Almeida Theatre, London in the spring of 2000.

In film he wrote 21 screenplays including The Pumpkin Eater, The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Sleuth.

 He continued to act under his own name, on stage and screen. He last acted two years before his death in 2006, when he appeared in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Ian Rickson.


Oberon Books’ James Hogan : “If you’ve been doing this job for thirty years, you’ve seen everything. Flapping doesn’t get you anywhere.”

James Hogan

James Hogan

James Hogan is one of UK theatre’s most captivating—and articulate—independent publishers. His company, Oberon Books, publishes many of today’s hottest contemporary playwrights, as well as a prolific library of works by and about some of the greatest theatre practitioners in history. Hogan is the people’s publisher: widely respected, but unassuming.

We meet at The Ivy Club in London. Hogan is already in the restaurant when I get there – seated in his favourite booth. The restaurant is relaxed and spacious, the furnishings a mix of leather and velvet. He greets me warmly and we talk candidly about the industry, the challenges of publishing in the twenty-first century and more.

Skim his company’s back-catalogue and you find one landmark publication after another; over 1,700 hundred plays and counting. So how did it all begin? “It was back in 1984 – I was part of a play-reading group at Riverside Studios, and it occurred to me that there were very few publishing outlets for young writers,” he explains. “So, I started one. And ever since, it’s been a mixture of love and business… though always the idea was to say yes, not no”.

Oberon Books

Oberon Books

Oberon went on to become one of the UK’s most exciting independent publishing houses specialising in drama and the performing arts. “I started it alone, publishing mainly lesser-known writers at small theatres and theatres in the regions,” he says. “I went outside of London and luckily a lot of writers working in the regions then came into London and we already had them on our list. We did a lot of work with the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre, I even published a play that premiered in Westcliffe-on-Sea,” he smiles.

Hogan had an altogether different early career. “I began work, at the age of nineteen, in the Foreign Office. I was security-vetted. So, I had to come out and say I was gay. This was pre ’64 and homosexual acts were illegal, because there had been a lot of spies in the news and gay, single men were targeted by the security services,” he tells me. “I was invited – if you want to call it that – to appear before a security panel. The first question, as I barely sat down, was: “Are you homosexual?” I said yes. I was living with a man and in a relationship. It wasn’t an easy time. Soon after, I decided it would be much more comfortable to get out of the Foreign Office and go to another department, so I went to the Department of Trade. It was important to come out because they obviously already knew. So, if I denied it I would have been a security risk – blackmailable. They weren’t out to persecute me – they wanted to know if I was hiding my true identity. That’s all. I didn’t suffer any repercussions.”

I tell him that he strikes me as unflappable. Hogan rolls his eyes. “I’m certainly flappable if someone comes up and kicks my dog Lily; I’d be pretty flappable then and probably throw stones,” he says. “But if you’ve been doing this job for thirty years, you’ve seen everything. Flapping doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Nonetheless, his ardour is apparent when we talk about modern approaches to publishing, getting current work seen and protecting writers’ interests from “unscrupulous” and “nouveau” publishers who demand more rights than they need: “Don’t give online-only publishers exclusive rights to your play. There’s no need to at that level. Generally, publishers only need a LICENCE to publish,” he points out. “The copyright stays with the author ALWAYS. Give yourself a get-out. You may need it. Bigger publishers who offer the full range of sales and promotion support naturally expect an exclusive LICENCE but not copyright. Get an agent if you can, or at least a copy of a typical industry-standard publishing Agreement.”

What you sense in Hogan is an outstanding publisher speaking up for his clients, past, present and future. He gives every writer exactly the attention they need, and Oberon is driven by the tangible, on-the-ground concerns of its authors. He wouldn’t have it any other way, but he also has an eye to the changes ahead.

“I have slowed down because I’m 73. I’m doing the business thing of arranging management succession. The company has to be secure as it goes forward. Eventually I am going to die and somebody else will be running Oberon,” he pauses. “What happens if I fall off my perch? I’ve got to think of the writers. They have to stay as safe and secure with the same prospect and service without any interruption.”

Significantly for Hogan, two plays by the late Edward Albee open in the West End this spring. James Macdonald’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Harold Pinter Theatre and The Goat, directed by Ian Rickson at the Theatre Royal Haymarket are the first revivals of Albee’s landmark plays since his death last September.

“I met Edward Albee through Will Eno (whose play “Wakey Wakey” has just opened in New York and received fantastic reviews in the New York Times)”, he says. “I’m sure that Albee agreed to meet me because I publish Will, but I also published a biography of Albee by Mel Gussow. I found Albee absolutely enchanting and I had lunch with him a couple of times in London. We had things to chat about; he was diabetic and I’m diabetic so we talked about which kinds of chocolate we can eat. I’d never imagined that he was the chatty type. But more importantly he gave me some important information about how he writes. He said that he rehearses the play in his mind, every line, from beginning to end, before he writes anything down. He clearly had very rational and clear views of the world. There were no illusions, with Albee they don’t exist.”

And the fact that a new generation are flocking to the West End to see these plays is wonderful to him. Hogan is passionate about the necessity of theatregoing.

“It sounds banal but go and see theatre that you enjoy, just keep going, don’t turn away from the theatre because it will continue forever,” says Hogan.  “In most cases, it tells the truth and that’s what unscrupulous politicians are afraid of and always have been. The theatre has always been seen by politicians as a dangerous place so let it go on being a dangerous place. It can’t be a dangerous place if you don’t go to it.”


Interview with Playwright Phil Porter: “I often think about the song ‘A Woman’s Touch’ from ‘Calamity Jane’.”

Phil Porter

Phil Porter is a playwright, who has brilliantly just co-adapted ‘The Miser’ with Sean Foley, a West End production due to open at the The Garrick Theatre. Hurrah.

Phil won the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize for Cracks in my Skin and the Arts Council’s Children Award for Smashed Eggs (Pentabus Theatre). His recent plays include The Man With The Hammer (Plymouth) The Christmas Truce (RSC) Blink and A Mad World Masters (RSC) The Tempest (adaptation co-written with Peter Glanville for the RSC).

I thought it would be good to chat to him ahead last week. Here is what we discussed.

Phil Porter

Phil Porter

Hi Phil, where are we and what can you see?

Right now I’m in rather delightful surroundings. A rather posher hotel I would normally find myself in. I can see you mostly and a hanging light thing over the bar with lots of fake but nonetheless beautiful candles. It reminds me of an event I went to in a park in Brighton with lots of fire-based installations and rusty metal. Lots of Pagan things go on in Brighton in the Winter.

How is ‘Dry January’ going?

I’m not big on abstinence. I’m a vegetarian – maybe that one small sacrifice is what makes me feel entitled to drink as much wine as I fancy. If I was ever going to attempt a month dry it wouldn’t be January!

You’ve had quite a busy week, haven’t you?

Well, the first two days of this week I was in rehearsals for The Miser’. This is a script I’ve co-adapted with Sean Foley and which he is now directing, with quite an impressive starry West End cast – Griff Rhys Jones, Mathew Horne, Katy Wix and Lee Mack, who is making his West End debut. We open in Bath on February 8th for a couple of weeks of previews, then a week in Richmond, then into The Garrick following ‘This House’ from March 1st.

From what I’ve heard adapting is a bit of a ball ache. With this in mind is co-adapting a bit of a double ball ache?

I don’t even know if it is an adaptation really. Adapting suggests taking it from one medium to another. Molière wrote it as a play and we continue in that fashion. The first thing I did with Sean was work on ‘A Mad World My Masters’ for the RSC a few years ago. That was kind of easier because Middleton wrote it in English, and as a result there was only so much we could change without stomping on someone’s very clever original play. So we just edited the play to make room for some songs and put in a few new jokes. But when a play is written in a different language the process is inevitably a bit more interpretive. But it wasn’t a ball ache – it was great fun. Maybe normally there would be a difficult status thing where you are fighting with your co-adaptor over every line. But Sean is the director so if we were to disagree on something – and generally we don’t – I’d probably let it go because he is the one who has to bring the thing to life. If he has a strong sense of how he’ll make a particular line work I’m happy to follow his judgement on that. I think it works well. I’m there just thinking as a writer while Sean is sort of writing and directing at the same time.

Tell me about Sausages

Eh? Oh, I know what you mean by that. Something I said in an interview I did with the Soho years ago. I wrote my first play on a train to Plymouth when I was about seven. It was about some sausages trying to escape from a freezer – written in the 1980s when all sausages were frozen. Maybe it could come back as an experimental opera; a play for voices. Looking back I didn’t really understand what screenwriting guru Robert McKee would describe as ‘progressive complication’. The sausages simply found a hole in the corner of the freezer and escaped halfway down the first page.

You can’t turn on the TV these days without seeing an advert for sausages. Anyway, what writers do you rate?

In terms of the playwriting giants my greatest hero is Federico García Lorca . He had an amazing poetic sensibility that I really love. I rate many of my contemporaries – Dennis Kelly and Mike Bartlett spring to mind. The way they can write so well, and also so much, is amazing and makes me jealous. Lucy Kirkwood is a fantastic writer. James Graham is another who is very brilliant and extraordinary prolific. And of course my pal Amy Rosenthal, a great writer who posseses a real understanding of comedy – a rare and much undervalued talent.

What are your thoughts on Hull as UK City of Culture 2017?

The choices often seem to be quite provocative. I remember when Glasgow was announced as a European City of Culture years ago, and people reacted in uproar: Glasgow?! As if it had been decided once and for all by a committee that Glasgow was Europe’s Most Cultured City. If that were the case then Hull as the UK City of Culture would be a perverse choice, but that’s not what it’s about. Overall, it’s a positive thing.

Contemporary arts centre Mac Birmingham has been hit by a 70% cut to its council funding, as part of major reductions inflicted on the city’s arts by its local authority. These are challenging times for new work, what are your thoughts on where the next Phil Porter will come from?

My very first play was on at the Mac. The landscape is obviously changing. It’s a big problem that places like Mac, where writers might find support as they’re starting out, are losing the funding they need to offer that support. Most writers, even if they’re really good, won’t get picked up by the big new writing venues, at least at first. It also damages the touring infrastructure, further limiting opportunities. And besides arts funding there are some even broader problems, in the way our society is changing, that make it very difficult for a writer from a remotely normal background to develop a career. I left university with no significant debts, moved to London, paid £250 a month in rent, and picked up a couple of commissions from new writing theatres who could afford to take a chance on an unproven writer. None of that would happen now. But on the more positive side, at least if you write a good play there are people genuinely committed to unearthing new talent.

Talk to me about your work with the RSC.

I’ve been working with the RSC for nearly 10 years now. I owe a lot to Pippa Hill, their Literary Manager, who commissioned me to write a five minute play for an event in 2008 and has been offering me bigger and bigger challenges ever since. This has culminated in ‘The Christmas Truce’ in 2014 and now ‘Vice Versa’ which is on in The Swan over the coming summer. It’s great to work somewhere with those kinds of resources. Having the support of a company like the RSC gives me a great push.

How do you feel about deadlines?

There are two kinds of projects. There are ones that are already in the brochure. Then my brain understands that it is no way a soft deadline; people are going to do this play and it needs to be ready for rehearsal and ready for an audience. Those deadlines I take very seriously. If it’s a more open commission I will always try to make the deadline or as near damn it. But I know from experience that what a theatre really wants is a play they can do rather than one that has arrived on time. I had a play on in Plymouth last year and I was quite late on the first draft deadline. For a little while I felt a bit like I was hiding which is the worst thing. If you owe someone a play you just have to keep the channels of communication open. As long as they know you’re working on it they’re generally fine. But it’s definitely a good thing career-wise to be known as someone who delivers on time.

What is your favourite theatre in London?

I still get very excited about going to The National. I think it goes back to that period when you start discovering theatre and you find this palace on the river with three plays going on a night and at least one of them is something that will completely blow your mind. I still get really excited about going to see a West End show. It’s funny doing the West End thing because as playwrights we are simultaneously taught to be slightly snooty about the West End but on the other hand if you get a West End transfer then you’ve made it.

Are West End ticket prices too high?

Undoubtedly. Some shows and some producers definitely take the piss more than others –  I’m pleased to say The Miser is relatively inclusive. I don’t understand the economics of it well enough to know why the inflation is so rapid. But yeah, it’s a crazy system.


What’s your favourite musical?

I like musicals more than you might imagine. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for ‘Cabaret’. Every Christmas me and my girlfriend watch ‘Meet Me in St Louis’ and it gets me every time. And I often think about the song ‘A Woman’s Touch’ from ‘Calamity Jane’. Whenever I’m writing something and trying to think about how to transition quickly from one state to another I imagine Doris Day and her pal cleaning up that house. It’s the ultimate montage sequence – a very important artistic reference point for me.

Amazing. What have you got coming up in 2017?

We have the RSC show, ‘Vice Versa’, which is a Roman style comedy. I never wrote it as such but it’s starting to look like a Trump satire. Um, I’m writing a sort of futuristic musical for The Soho with a composer called Marc Teitler who wrote ‘The Grinning Man’. On a day-to-day basis I’m currently writing an adaptation of ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ for Joe Murphy to direct. Joe directed my play ‘Blink’ (Soho Theatre) and is directing ‘Woyzeck’ at The Old Vic this year. Then I have another commission for Plymouth and I’m trying to adapt my old play ‘The Cracks In My Skin’ into a film. But right now it’s mostly about ‘The Miser’ and ‘Vice Versa’


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Your chance to win a Gypsy DVD -Competition closed, Winner announcement soon - Glitter Graphics


Well, it’s that time of the year when I would like to run a GYPSY competition and, as luck would have it, Universal Pictures have chucked a DVD my way in order to draw attention to the fact that GYPSY is available to buy on DVD and digital download from November 28.

In order to stand a chance of winning all you have to do is submit your email address in the sign up bar below. The promo is being run for UK residents only.

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Gypsy DVD Cover Image

Awarded with an Olivier Award® for her role as Momma Rose, Imelda Staunton (Maleficent, The Harry Potter Series) gives “the performance of her career” in Jonathan Kent’s dazzling revival. Lara Pulver (Edge of Tomorrow, Spooks), reprises her “stunning” role as Louise and they are joined by Peter Davison (Law and Order: UK) as Herb, in this gloriously entertaining musical fable that features show stopping choreography from Stephen Mear.
Gypsy is based on memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous striptease artist back in 1957, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with “the ultimate show business mother”. It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life.
Featuring the classic songs “Let Me Entertain You,” “Rose’s Turn” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne, this moving and scintillating production of Gypsy was the first to be seen in London for 40 years.

And that is that.


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!