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Theatre Blogs

25 February 2020

Theatre Blogs
  • Chris Evans might play Orin Scrivello (aka The Dentist) in that Little Shop of Horrors remake alongside Billy Porter, Taron Egerton & Scarlett Johansson
    25 February 2020
  • Dealing with muscle soreness after long rehearsals?
    25 February 2020

    It's opening night this thursday and we have rehearsals every night til, and I am already so exhausted and worn out. My thighs feel heavy and my feet are aching from having to walk around in heels for hours. I need some tips for how to deal with this. I try to get as much sleep as I can but I get home late from rehearsal, and have to wake up early for school. We have rehearsals or shows until saturday, so 5 more nights, and I don't know how I'm going to make it til then.

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  • PREVIEW: Basement Theatre Season of Duration (Auckland Fringe)
    25 February 2020
    [Time Lords]

    Critic and practitioner Nathan Joe previews the five 4-hour long durational shows taking place at Basement Theatre for Auckland Fringe 2020. 

    With the official announcement of Nisha Madhan as the new programming coordinator of Basement Theatre, it seems appropriate that the 2020 Auckland Fringe Basement Programme (her first Fringe in this position) has her artistic fingerprints all over it. In a continuation of Gabrielle Vincent’s established legacy of the annual Basement provocation, Madhan has stepped up to the plate with what might be the fringiest challenge yet: a season of durational theatre. 

    For those drawing a blank, previous years have included the Basement Salon, 1-on-1 shows, and the Ghent Manifesto. And even if these provocations weren’t always about targeting huge audiences, they more than made up for the lack of bums on seats with a sense of artistic risk-taking. And, as someone who has participated in many of these provocations, I think it’s safe to say it has become a space where the right provocation acts as a powerful catalyst to create a work that might never have existed otherwise. My own work I Am Rachel Chu certainly would not have been made without the aforementioned Ghent Manifesto

    Our finest and most experienced practitioners of duration-based work are probably Binge Culture, most notably with their six hour Break Up (We Need To Talk). It was a sprawling, adventurous and visibly exhausting piece of theatre, drawing out a semi-improvised (as per the title) break up. I remember witnessing it and responding to it with bewilderment. But, despite my initial reactions, it remains one of the most memorable theatre experiences I’ve had the pleasure of sitting through. In the gentlest, unexpected ways, it challenged my young theatre-going brain and my notions of what theatre should look, sound and feel like. It “went pretty unnoticed in New Zealand,” as Madhan notes, “but blew up in Edinburgh earning a TOTAL theatre award nomination.” (Yes that is sort of a big deal.)

    The prospect of sitting through that much theatre may seem intimidating to some, but these particular duration-based works are designed for audiences to come and go as they please. Madhan insists that “you quickly become absorbed and addicted to the game. Time runs away with you, believe me. You can barely bear to leave just in case you miss out on something!”

    She also hopes that the makers, as much as the audience, get something rich and rewarding out of the experience: “I hope that they find something new.  I hope that they take their work around the world. I hope that they come out as bigger, stronger artists that just give zero fucks. I hope that they come out empowered, backing themselves 100%.”

    If in conventional playwriting narrative is king, because it’s about controlling audience expectation, durational performance is about letting go of control entirely. “Exhausting yourself so that you get out of the way of yourself,” as Madhan beautifully puts it. “It encourages the kind of vulnerability that you can only experience after running a marathon or arguing all night long. It’s more akin to a piece of art in a gallery. The challenge is to let it be. Leave it alone.”

    And it’s safe to say that none of the performances indulge in the expectations of traditional narrative. At most, we have micro-narratives (apologies or infomercials) on repeat. Or a single action stretched out over a period of time (cleaning). 

    So, what about the shows? There are five of them, all for one night only, that take place over the two week window of Auckland Fringe, all upstairs in the Basement Studio. I briefly interviewed each of the teams for some more details and insights about their productions:

    Just One More – Thursday 27 Feb, 6-10pm

    Last seen together in Red Leap Theatre’s Owls Do Cry and currently featuring in The New Zealand Dance Company’s Fragile Planet, performer Arlo Gibson and choreographer Ross McCormack team up again for the amusingly titled Just One More. 

    It is based on Gibson’s experience “practicing art in Auckland and from those around me who feel as though they are stuck in a never ending grind.” He describes it as a “cross between a call centre and a motivational conference.”

    As the team with what might be the highest pedigree, Just One More ensures that the season of duration starts off with a bang. Gibson is one of my personal favourite performers, who has flexed his acting muscles with an impressively broad body of work. He can dance (Owls Do Cry), he can play killer and lover all in one (Court Theatre’s The Events), and he is one helluva clown too (Thomus). McCormack has an even more embarrassingly rich CV, being an arts laureate and having worked with the legendary Douglas Wright. 

    An Open Apology – Friday 28 Feb, 6-10pm

    Now I get to introduce my own show, the concept which is taken from my co-creator (and one of the performers) George Fenn’s own show How to Apology. I’m directing the show and have a pretty decent track record as an award-winning playwright. And Fenn is a talented improv artist with more than a handful of solo shows under his belt. 

    The premise is simple: using a series of prompts, three actors attempt to apologise for any and every scenario you can think of over four hours. The situations I’ve composed are a little outside the box, containing some of the usual suspects as well as some left-field ones. The result is a sort of guided improvisation. I almost guarantee it is going to be funny, moving and even a little bit shocking. At worst, you will leave the show with a better insight on how these three people tick. At best, you might leave inspired to pick up the phone and call an old friend. Come for the catharsis or stay for the schadenfreude. 

    The other performers, Ravikanth Gurunathan (A Fine Balance, Take the Crown) and fellow Theatre Scenes critic-director Rachael Longshaw-Park (An Organ of Soft Tissue, Dr Drama Makes a Show) are also no slouches either.

    Jelly Baby – Saturday 29 Feb, 6-10pm

    Featuring a bath full of jelly and a confrontation with fatphobia, Alice Kiker’s Jelly Baby has the distinctly rebellious and experimental nature of the fringiest of Fringe shows. It’s performance art meeting theatre in the ways that the Basement has become more well known for over the last few years, moving further and further away from the programming of narrative dramas. 

    Kirker promises an “insight into the fat experience. And hopefully some glorious fat folk will get to see themselves represented and feel great about that… I think people have responded really well to the idea of making a show about Fat. That word is still a controversial one, and carries a lot of weight, and so for people to see it used in such an outright way has definitely created a little buzz.”

    Her company The Oddballs, premiered their work Fleshies last year. Jelly Baby strikes me as a continuation of that work, though zoomed in on Kirker’s specific experience and body, then elongated over a four hour period for added effect. The body as an autobiography. 

    The Infomercial Project – Friday 6 March, 6-10pm

    Suzanne Paul meets Julia Croft

    If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. The Infomercial Project was originally devised under the mentorship of genre-shaping theatremaker Julia Croft during the team’s time studying at The Actor’s Program. What originated in a ten-minute format has now been stretched into a delicious four hours. It sounds simple enough: two actors perform an infomercial over and over for four hours.

    The effect repetition has on performance might be the most exposed and exciting element here. Like watching an acting exercise on crack, it probably invites before and after photos of the cast the most of any of the duration shows. Director Jordan Dickson says audiences should expect to see “two individuals surrendering to the monotonous chaos of capitalism and relishing in the madness. 

    As someone who gets intensely nostalgic flashbacks to late nights watching infomercials, I can’t wait to see how his cast unravel. 

    Cleaning the Room – Saturday 7 March, 6 to 10pm

    I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.

    Inspired by the Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ quote above, Cleaning the Room has a meditative sounding quality to it. If the preceding duration performances seem to invite chaos or confrontation, this one seems absolutely Zen Buddhist by comparison. The ideal palette cleanser to anyone brave enough to do all five shows. 

    Olivia Mahood (co-creator alongside Poppy Serano) says, “In some ways, the audience faces a similar challenge to that of the performer. It is an exercise in staying with something for a long time, sometimes beyond comfort.”

    Think Youtube cleaning montage videos with a deeply existential twist. 


    Talking to some of the artists, concerns over the sellability of the four hour duration has proved somewhat tricky. This is art that is inherently anti-profit and anti-clickbait. This is art that asks you to sit down, slow down. It might not have the bells and whistles of a big theatre event, but it certainly feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who knows when a provocation like this will come again?  I certainly have concerns that it’ll simply pass audiences by unnoticed, but maybe I’ll end how I began, by calling on Basement Programming Coordinator Nisha Madhan’s very own words:

    “I hope that Auckland audiences don’t do that Auckland thing where they only watch their friends, or sit at home lamenting a lack of cool, interesting stuff to go to and experience, when it’s right here.  It’s under your nose. Get out of the house, support independent artists, experience something new. What’s the worst that could happen?!”

    Basement Theatre Season of Duration begins this Thursday 27 March. Each show runs from 6pm to 10pm, and audiences can come and go as they like. 

  • First time Assistant Director - Any advice?
    25 February 2020

    We've started pre-audition prep on an amateur production of a modern musical (We Will Rock You). Apart from taking notes, doing research, attending meetings and running errands etc, what are some lesser known tips or advice that might be helpful for an A.D.?

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  • A playwright wants only critics of color to review her. Here's what our own critics think | Culture
    25 February 2020
  • Why I’m Asking White Critics Not to Review My Show
    25 February 2020
  • Critics who aren’t Indigenous, Black or people of colour aren’t invited to ‘bug.’ Yolanda Bonnell explains why
    25 February 2020
  • Theatre company resists venue's ‘licence to change’ clause
    25 February 2020
  • AMERICAN THEATRE | Theatre & Climate Change
    25 February 2020
  • How the Play ‘Cambodian Rock Band’ Got So Popular: Podcast Interview
    25 February 2020

UK Theatre Blogs

25 February 2020

UK Theatre Blogs
  • Review: The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, VAULT Festival
    25 February 2020
    I go and see The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen at the VAULT Festival and end up playing a tree with killer leaves

    “What noise does purple make?”

    Many things happened at The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but I’m sure you’ll agree that me making my VAULT Festival stage debut is one of the most noteworthy It just goes to show that even though that this is a family-friendly improv show with its eye on the kids in the audience, the adults alongside them have no chance of escaping being a significant part of the fun as well.

    Like so many improvised shows, there’s a simple set-up. Three storytellers taking it in turns to come up with an adventure story based on an idea drawn from a hat and followed up by a series of audience suggestions which, given the imaginative freedom of the young, are as outlandish and random as they are really quite amusing, once woven into the tales by these talented comedians (Lord Lovell, Admiral Seward and Lady Brooke I think it was at this show).

    That’s how a spoon as big as the world, a lifejacket made from a cow and Donald Trump helped to tell the story of how Valentines cards were invented; another giant spoon, scaffolding built by flossing and an army of space minions harvested space ginger from the Sun to warm the Earth; and dinosaur-eating sheep, a tree with killer leaves and an old man and his talented interpreter told the story of how steel wool is grown. All vital tales which were warmly hilarious in their creation in front of us – properly entertaining and endlessly watchable. 

    Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
    The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen is booking on Saturdays at the VAULT Festival until 21st March
  • Review: Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T, VAULT Festival
    25 February 2020
    Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T makes for a fun hour of queer Aussie humour at the VAULT Festival

    “Did you know one in five artists are an absolute dickhead”

    It’s a shame Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T only ran for one weekend at the VAULT Festival as his brand of irrepressibly warm cabaret has a real uplifting charm about it. It’s a relatively simple format – would-be musical theatre legend Harry Ledgerman is launching his new celebrity memoir with his talent agency manager wife Kristal Lee by his side and any number of friends who’ve come along to also share their secrets to becoming successful.

    Naturally though, success is relative and Moss’ collection of misfits  – for he plays them all – are all wonderfully deluded in their own special way. Thus the scene is set for a rapidfire kick ball change through many aspects of showbusiness, accompanied by some nifty moves (check that Chorus Line choreography) and some uncanny vocal performances as Adele, Ricky Martin and Britney sit alongside Elphaba, Piaf and Dame Judi herself.

    Thus it is a richly packed hour that really shows off Moss’ talents well. And at just an hour, there’s a slight sense of greater potential for any or all aspects of the show to go further. His comic writing is razor-sharp and the number of musical sketches does somewhat limit its appearance here. But the time flies by with laughter, and such is the quality of Moss’ varied performance skills that they would surely make Hugh Jackman his very own nemesis. Look out for him.

    Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
    Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T is booking at the VAULT Festival until 23rd February
  • Review: Essence, VAULT Festival
    25 February 2020

    Just a quickie for this as it felt a bit more work-in-progress than much else I’ve seen at the VAULT Festival. Essence marks the latest work from frequent collaborators Sarah Henley and Tori Allen-Martin and is supported by The CULTIVATE Bursary, in Association with COMMON and the Newbury Corn Exchange.

    A tight two-hander set in Peckham, it takes the form of an odd couple play as early 30s semi-recluse Elyot has his methodical routine shattered by the arrival of teenager Laquaya breaking into his flat. She claims an intimate connection between the two and even as he denies its possibility, they discover other ties that bind.

    In its determination to reduce the distance in our perceived differences, Essence finds a compelling argument to cleave together. Even if one’s music choices are poles apart, we don’t have to participate in a society that feels ever more polarised. It is currently less strong in the dramatic detail around the specific connection here which feels underinterrogated.

    Still, Allen-Martin’s direction finds beauty in its simplicity of two souls drawing a little closer, and in Nina Barker-Francis and Timothy O’Hara Essence finds strong voice. 

    Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
    Essence is booking at the VAULT Festival until 23rd February
  • Review: Nearly Human, VAULT Festival
    25 February 2020
    This ain’t your regular brass band… Perhaps Contraption’s wonderfully different Nearly Human is a triumph at the VAULT Festival

    “We are, each of us, a little universe”

    Nine brass band musicians walk into a fringe theatre and what do you get? You will never, in a hundred years, guess. Rather unhelpfully for a reviewer, Perhaps Contraption’s Nearly Human is one of those shows that pretty much defies description. But then, should we expect anything different from a group that describes themselves as “part choir, part chamber orchestra, part avant rock troupe” and influenced by “jazz, punk, art pop and post-minimalism”.

    Nevertheless, I’ll give it a go, as I can’t remember feeling as startlingly and strangely exhilarated as I did here. Drawing on the work of cosmologist Carl Sagan, Nearly Human straddles an intersection between performance art, live theatre and music to create its own state of being, which punts concert hall convention way over to the other side of the universe. I mean, even just to watch these musicians play with such physical abandon feels like a treat (call me, Mr Orange Trombone man – swoon).

    The narrative through-line follows the life-cycle of an atom and the programme has a handy chart to help you follow its progression but in all honesty, the show is an abstract canvas which you should just experience without worrying about its finer details (which you can always catch up on later). And the progressive compositional style of Perhaps Contraptions’ songs demand your attention in their delicious and bewitching complexity.

    There’s such delight in the unexpected richness and diversity of the sonic palette here and again, it just feels so hard to do justice in words – this is music that needs to be felt, experienced. The rhythms from Iain McDonald’s sousaphone and Riccardo Castellani’s drums anchor the sound well to allow strong vocals and close harmony work to flourish among the bold brass sound. And that movement (from movement directors Christa Harris and Lucy Ridley) is brilliantly executed, to really nail that sense of being so wonderfully different. Highly recommended.  

    Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
    Photos: Rah Petherbridge
    Nearly Human is booking at the VAULT Festival until 23rd February
  • Not-a-re-review: Three Sisters, National Theatre
    25 February 2020

    “The son is today what the father was yesterday”

    I don’t have anything more to say about Three Sisters that I didn’t cover in my original review, apart from to tell you that I went back. And I enjoyed it even more.

    Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
    Photos: The Other Richard 
    Three Sisters is booking at the National Theatre until 19th February
  • Peppa Pig My First Concert UK Tour 2020
    24 February 2020

    By Douglas Mayo

    Peppa Pig My First Concert UK Tour is currently touring concert halls and theatres around the UK. Full schedule below.

    Peppa Pig – My First Concert is a fun and interactive introduction to a live orchestra that will take Peppa Pig fans on a magical musical journey when it heads on tour in the UK from February to May 2020. This unmissable production is based on Entertainment One’s popular animated television series and gives children a chance to experience their first concert in a way that is truly meaningful to them. Specially designed for the youngest audience members, this allows them, together with Peppa, to discover an orchestra for the first time.

    Children and their families can sing and dance along with Peppa to her favourite songs, watch as Daddy Pig learns how to conduct an orchestra (and all the mishaps and mayhem that that involves!), explore all the different sounds that the many instruments make, and get a chance to enjoy familiar Peppa tunes as well as discovering some exciting orchestral pieces – all selected to be perfect for little ones, to capture their imagination and introduce them to a whole new world of music.

    There’s no better way to give children their first concert experience than with a much-loved children’s character – and characters don’t get much more well-loved than Peppa herself.

    Photo: Dan Tsantilis

    Flautist and children’s concert specialist, Jane Mitchell, has been heavily involved in the creation of this union between children’s entertainment and live orchestra. As Creative Director and principal flautist of critically acclaimed British chamber orchestra Aurora, Jane is incredibly well respected in the world of classical music; but in this new production, she has worked alongside arranger Iain Farrington to interweave beloved Peppa Pig songs into classics by Beethoven and others, including Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Grieg.

    Jane says “Orchestras are sometimes seen as inaccessible for young audiences. Breaking that down is incredibly rewarding – and playing Muddy Puddles alongside Mozart is amazing fun. The Peppa Pig audience is mostly under five, so that ‘Wow’ experience is really important. If you can reach them through a character they know and love, it’s a golden opportunity”

    Peppa Pig My First Concert UK Tour is suitable for ages 18 months +

    Return to our Touring Page


    9 April 2020
    Brighton Dome Concert Hall

    11 and 13 April 2020
    Bridgewater Hall Manchester

    14 – 15 April 2020
    Queen Elizabeth Hall London

    25 May 2020
    St George's Bristol

    27 – 28 May 2020
    St David's Hall Cardiff

    30 – 31 May 2020
    Queen Elizabeth Hall London

    This post Peppa Pig My First Concert UK Tour 2020 first appeared on British Theatre. Hurrah!

  • No.33, nthspace Adelaide – nthspace Gallery Theatre (Adelaide Fringe) – Review
    24 February 2020

    No.33, nthspace Adelaide – nthspace Gallery Theatre (Adelaide Fringe) – Review

    What happened at number 33? Upon arrival, we are given a strung label and asked to write a message to a significant woman in our lives. After taking off our shoes, we’re then invited to follow a mysterious woman dressed in white (Brigitte Jarvis) through the front door. She doesn’t say a word whilst we settle in an entirely white room, a double bed in the middle. Plush carpets and drapes hang from the ceiling, making it look cosy. We are abuzz with anticipation. The initial impact is remarkable. Short clips are projected simultaneously on the four walls, as…

    Part art installation, part immersive experience, this show is a one of a kind masterpiece.

    User Rating: Be the first one !

    What happened at number 33? Upon arrival, we are given a strung label and asked to write a message to a significant woman in our lives. After taking off our shoes, we’re then invited to follow a mysterious woman dressed in white (Brigitte Jarvis) through the front door. She doesn’t say a word whilst we settle in an entirely white room, a double bed in the middle. Plush carpets and drapes hang from the ceiling, making it look cosy. We are abuzz with anticipation. The initial impact is remarkable.

    Short clips are projected simultaneously on the four walls, as we witness some of the events involving the women of the house over the past one hundred years. Compelled to unravel the mystery that connects them we are encouraged to join an impromptu treasure hunt, exploring every nook and cranny of the space and sharing clues with our fellow onlookers.

    More truths are uncovered, and a twisted bloodline is eventually revealed, stunning us with a sudden sense of horror. What has emerged clashes with the immaculate appearance of the room and the angelic vision of the woman who’s been guiding us through the journey. As we head towards the exit, very little has been said, but everything is finally clear.

    Part art installation, part immersive performance, No.33 is a masterpiece like no other. Visually striking and supported by an unconventional narrative format. The staggering attention to detail makes the experience unforgettable, bringing together several artforms. Cinematography, dance, spoken word, visual arts, music and theatre are crafted together by the Melbourne-based company RAWcollective – headed by Ru Atma and Brigitte Jarvis. Recipient of the Adelaide Fringe Artist Fund, the duo boasts a combined background in the arts spanning over 55 years. The same Jarvis plays all the female characters in the plot and is an absolute pleasure to watch.

    Devised by: Ru Atma and Brigitte Jarvis
    Producer: RAWcollective
    Booking Information: This show has completed its current run.

  • NEWS: Be More Chill extends run & becomes longest running show at The Other Palace
    24 February 2020

    The producers of the UK premiere of Joe Iconis’ Be More Chill which premiered last week have announced a six-week extension to 14 June 2020, making it the longest running musical at London’s The Other Palace.

    Scott Folan plays the central character of Jeremy Heere, with Blake Patrick Anderson as Michael Mell and Miracle Chance as Christine Canigula. Stewart Clarke plays The Squip, Eloise Davies is Brooke Lohst, Christopher Fry plays Mr Heere and Mr Reyes, James Hameed plays Rich Goranski, Renee Lamb is Jenna Rolan, Millie O’Connell is Chloe Valentine and Miles Paloma plays Jake Dillinger. Understudies are:  Gabriel Hinchcliffe, Eve Norris and Jon Tsouras.

    Joe Iconis said:

    “Making my London debut as a musical theatre writer has long been a dream of mine and my experience with Be More Chill at The Other Palace has exceeded all expectations. I have been blown away by the response of audiences and the theatre community here in the UK and am ecstatic that we will be extending our run until 14 June. How thrilling that more people will now get to experience this production I am so proud of, populated by a genius cast of British unicorns. I look forward to returning this summer to see those brilliant creatures work their misfit magic once again.‘

    Be More Chill is based on the groundbreaking novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini. With original music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and a book by Joe Tracz.

    Since the 2015 Original Cast Recording was released by Ghostlight Records, millions of people streamed the album and formed a passionate community of Be More Chill fans, leading the musical to receive a Broadway production, and now this new London production.

    When the 2019 Broadway Cast Recording was released by Ghostlight Records, it debuted at No. 2 on the Top Cast Albums Chart. Songs from the musical have now accumulatively garnered over 350 million streams, with the breakout track ‘Michael In The Bathroom’ amassing over 31 million streams and 8 million YouTube views alone. Tumblr has ranked Be More Chill as the No. 2 most talked-about musical on their platform, behind only Hamilton.

    Joining Iconis and Tracz on the creative team are director Stephen Brackett, choreographer Chase Brock, set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Bobby Frederick Tilley II, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau, sound designer Ryan Rumery and video designer Alex Basco Koch with wigs by Dave Bova. Orchestrations are by Charlie Rosen, vocal arrangements by Emily Marshall, UK musical direction by Louisa Green and UK casting is by Will Burton.

  • ‘Kaye’s enthusiasm for Elton is infectious’: ELTON JOHN IT’S A LITTLE BIT FUNNY – Upstairs at the Gatehouse ★★★
    24 February 2020

    Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London – until 1 March 2020

    Martin Kaye enthrals his audience at Upstairs at the Gatehouse as he spins the tale of Elton John’s ascendance into global super stardom, complete with pitfalls along the way. Kaye’s enthusiasm for Elton is infectious, weaving in his own autobiographical detail into his recantation of the singer’s journey from the lonely Reginald Dwight in grey flannel trousers through to the sensational Elton John in spangled hot pants.

    The show is centred around a night in Las Vegas where Kaye, during his time performing in Million Dollar Quartet, bumps into his ultimate hero Elton John in a hotel lobby where the two then spent an eventful, confessional, evening together. The evening’s narrative however seems minimal, especially when contrasted with Kaye’s excellent singing talent and with the Rocketman movie having only recently graced our screens, there is not much here that we do not already know. But the songs are great and undoubtedly the best part of the performance is a finale that sees Kaye getting the whole audience to sing along with ‘Crocodile Rock’.

    Steph Pyne’s set is striking, with huge illuminated lettering and the piano being put front and centre (literally with some incredibly inventive live projection of Kaye’s finger work), giving the feel of being front row at an actual Elton John concert. The lighting is effective, helping to create atmosphere and tone, as the sparse set and limited props allow Kaye’s showmanship, with his odd socks and wild piano playing, to be the main focus of the event. Clever and entertaining, the show is a musically brilliant tribute to one of our greatest showmen.

  • Max Hutchinson talks about humour, horror and tragedy in THE WOMAN IN BLACK
    24 February 2020

    Hello and thank you for taking time out to talk to us today at West End Wilma.
    Thank YOU very much!

    What have been some of your highlights in your career so far?
    I think I’m very fortunate that I’ve enjoyed all of my jobs so far! I’ve not had any shockers – I know others who have! I recently shot a scene on a film that’s coming out in April called ‘Dream Horse’, which I’m really excited to see, as it’s an amazing story. My scene was opposite Toni Collette who I just think is incredible, so that was a real highlight! I also did a bit of work on the National Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Gala performance a few years ago and being in the room with all those actors I admired was amazing. I got to rehearse with Alan Bennett and all the original History Boys. I’m really enjoying this job too mainly because everyone is so nice and also because it’s a part I’ve wanted to play since I was about fifteen!

    What is your current show about and what attracted you to the part you are playing?
    The show I’m doing at the moment is ‘The Woman In Black’ at the Fortune Theatre. It’s a ghost story about a solicitor called Arthur Kipps who has endured a haunting and tragic experience in his youth but now the time has come for him to tell his family about his ordeal. He has written it all down and comes to an actor for some public speaking lessons. The actor manages to persuade him to turn it into something more like a performance for his family and so these two people tell his story, with the actor playing the younger version of Kipps and Kipps himself playing all the other characters. Like I say, I saw this play fifteen years ago and I remember thinking “I’d like to play that part”. I think I’m attracted to the fact that the audience is encouraged to use their imagination a lot – we only use a few props and costumes to suggest locations and characters. I’m attracted to the direct address we have with the audience (even thought the conceit is that we are rehearsing in an empty theatre) and I really enjoy the variety – there are lighter parts, jumpy bits and tragic moments. It’s also about a growing friendship and trust between the two characters and I really like that my character’s main motivation is to help Arthur Kipps.

    What West End show would you like to see make a comeback and why?
    This is really hard. I absolutely loved ‘Caroline, or Change’, which I saw at the Playhouse. I thought everything about that show was fantastic – especially Sharon D. Clarke’s performance. So I’d love to see that again. Or ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ – the Menier production that transferred to the Harold Pinter a few years ago. I didn’t train in musical theatre but I love musicals! I get very jealous watching them! I’d also bring back ‘The Jungle’ because I missed it.

    If I asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?
    Now, I slightly cheated on this one because I put this question in a WhatsApp group of old drama-school mates, expecting the inevitable torrent of unprintable abuse or things like “Very Impressive Nose” or “Big Bird’s Doppelganger”, but I was quite taken aback that they actually said some nice stuff. My mate Dave said “Kind, Funny and Hard-Working” – which was nice of him. He must have been drunk.

    What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
    I haven’t had anything that embarrassing happen to me really. Although my trousers did split down the backside fifteen minutes from the end of the show the other day. I spent a quarter of an hour looking very shifty while trying not to turn my back to the audience.

    I was on stage when something rather amazing happened to someone else about seven years ago. An actress I was on stage with started covering her mouth during a scene – which was a new choice. When we got offstage she explained that two of her teeth had fallen out (they were veneers). Incredibly, someone else in the cast found the teeth who also happened to be the son of a dentist and had a couple of veneers himself. Said member of the cast then ran out to his car, got his home dentistry kit (which he had for such emergencies), and then stuck our cast mate’s teeth back in for her, all in the fifteen minute gap she had offstage before she was on again. With hindsight it’s amusing; at the time there was panic.

    Oh – it wasn’t an embarrassing experience on stage but I did manage to bump Dame Maggie Smith on the head with a tray while playing a footman in the Downton Abbey film. I was mortified about that.

    What are your thoughts on theatre etiquette? What things annoy you when you are performing or when you are in the audience?
    I suppose my theatre etiquette gripes are the usual ones…anything that detracts from what’s going on onstage: phones, conversations, sweet wrappers etc.

    We are living in a time where films are often being turned into stage plays and musicals. If you had to choose one, what film would you like to see adapted to the stage?
    This is tough. I’d love to see a musical adaptation of Pixar’s ‘Up’?! Or what about a David Nichols book (but also a film) – ‘One Day’ maybe?!

    If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
    Probably Martha in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Or Beatrice in ‘Much Ado’. I watched the film of ‘Mary Poppins’ weekly at my Grandma’s house as a child so I’d love to play Mary Poppins too! I’m not very good at giving one answer am I!?

    If you won the lottery and could stage one theatre show of your choice, what would you choose and who would be your dream cast?
    One of my favourite stories is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Tom Hanks would make a pretty awesome Atticus I reckon, with Sally Cookson directing.

    Why do you think people should come and see your show?
    I think people should come and see ‘The Woman In Black’ because it’s got a bit of everything – some humour, some horror, some tragedy. It’s an opportunity to really use your imagination. We hope it’s a very effective ghost story, of course, but it’s also about friendship and how we all use storytelling as a coping mechanism.

    REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN BLACK (Fortune Theatre) ★★★★★

    Photo: Tristram Kenton

    The post Max Hutchinson talks about humour, horror and tragedy in THE WOMAN IN BLACK appeared first on West End Wilma.

Theatre Podcast

25 February 2020

Theatre Podcast
  • An Exciting Announcement about Playing on Air!
    25 February 2020

    We're announcing some exciting changes to Playing on Air's release calendar! Listen to find out more.

  • Today on Broadway: Monday, February 24, 2020
    24 February 2020
    Controversial Cast Change at “Beetlejuice,” Busy Week on the Boards, “Frozen” Debuts New song on TV Patreon: BroadwayRadio Tell Me More | Episode 40: Tovah Feldshuh on Powerful Women, B’way from 2000-04 1) Sophia Anne Caruso Departs “Beetlejuice,” Presley Ryan Takes Over 2) This Week’s Theatrical Schedule Monday, read more
  • This Week on Broadway for February 23, 2020: The Sabbath Girl @ 59e59
    23 February 2020
    Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about Zoe Caldwell, The Sabbath Girl @ 59e59, Mack & Mabel @ New York City Center, A Cocktail Party Social Experiment @ The Chelsea Music Hall, and Rules of Desire @ The Playroom Theatre. This Week on Broadway has been coming to read more
  • Theatre Audience Podcast Episode 18
    23 February 2020

    The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, Tale Told By An Idiot at Wilton’s Music Hall with backstage interview with actor Sara Alexander. Endgame & Rough for Theatre ll at The Old Vic starring Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, Jane Horrocks and Karl Johnson. Cyrano de Bergerac, Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company at The Playhouse Theatre starring James McAvoy with a backstage interview with actor Nari Blair- Nangat. 

  • The Wallis and Four Larks' Production of Frankenstein @ Wallis Annenberg
    23 February 2020
    8.5 out of 10 - A GREAT SHOW! Feb 12 - Mar 07,2020 WORLD PREMIERE: The Wallis and L.A.-based Four Larks (in their Wallis debut) are developing Frankenstein, an exuberant amalgamation of dynamic physical theatre, live music and experiential design bringing Mary Shelley's tale to life in a modern take that spotlights the dangers of unregulated technology.
  • Tell Me More | Episode 40: Tovah Feldshuh on Powerful Women, B’way from 2000-04
    23 February 2020
    On today’s episode of “Tell Me More,” Matt Tamanini talks to a literal legend. A four-time Tony nominee and two-time Emmy nominee, Tovah Feldshuh is like the energizer bunny of performers. With nine Broadway shows, over 100 TV and film credits, and her busy concert schedule, Tovah has been an read more
  • Today on Broadway: Friday, February 21, 2020
    21 February 2020
    Critics Review “West Side Story” on Broadway & “Mack & Mabel” at Encores!, “The Inheritance” Announces Closing Date, the Lopezes Next Project Tovah Feldshuh in Broadway by the Year | Broadway Musicals of 2000-2004 1) Critics Weigh in on “West Side Story” Actor’s Equity Releases Statement on “West read more
  • Crossing the Atlantic: NYT theatre critic Ben Brantley on theatre in New York and London
    21 February 2020

    Ben Brantley is the co-chief theatre critic for The New York Times. He has been a staff critic since 1996, filing reviews regularly from London as well as New York.

    In this episode, BTG’s London Editor Philip Fisher speaks with Ben about his career, as well as about plays in London and New York, past, present and future.

    (Photo credit: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

  • Three on the Aisle: This Time It’s Personal
    21 February 2020
    This week the topic is how personal experiences inform criticism, as the critics touch on 'Mac Beth' at Hunter Theater Project, 'Gun and Powder' at Signature Theatre, and 'Medea' at BAM
  • Today on Broadway: Thursday, February 20, 2020
    20 February 2020
    Critics Rave for “Anatomy of a Suicide,” Tour Announcements Galore, “Mack & Mabel” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” Highlights Patreon: BroadwayRadio 1) Critics Weigh in on “Anatomy of a Suicide” from Atlantic Theatre Company 2) National Tour News Ahmanson Announces 2020-21 Season, Including West Coast Premiere of “The Lehman Trilogy” read more

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25 February 2020

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