Rocky Horror Show Review

Sunderland Empire – until 25 September 2021

5*****

After almost two years away, I was shivering with antici … pation to return to the beautiful and very welcoming Sunderland Empire.  And what a show to return to, the classic Rocky Horror Show.

Camper than a Scout jamboree and much more fun.  Rocky Horror is always hilarious, an adult panto at times with the audience interaction, but Phillip Franks in his role as the Narrator was more than a match for the hecklers in Sunderland.

For those unfamiliar with the story, newly engaged couple Brad and Janet break down on a trip to see their old teacher Dr Scott.  In a quest to find a phone they end up at the home of Frank N Furter and his servants Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia.

Ore Oduba (Brad) and Haley Flaherty (Janet) both deftly manage the transition from virginal couple to depraved disciples of Frank, and both have the chance to showcase their fine voices which more than match the pulsating band. Ben Westhead is the titular Rocky and it’s more his pectoral muscles that are on show rather than his vocal ones and he carries off the role with sufficient skill.

Joe Allen doubling up in his roles of Eddie and his uncle, Dr Scott, is hilarious.  A fabulous rendition of both Hot Patootie and Eddie’s Teddy and high kicking in a wheelchair showed what a star is he

Suzie McAdam  as Magenta and Lauren Ingram as Columbia are both magnificent – all legs and screaming sexuality.  Kristian  Lavercombe as Riff Raff is a revelation, with his powerful voice, he is almost more Riff Raff than the original performed by Richard O’Brien.  He has played the part now more times than the great Mr O’Brien

Rightfully though, the show belongs to Frank. And as Frank n Furter, Stephen Webb is a slightly more macho version than normal, but this adds to the fun. His attraction and menace are skilfully portrayed. And he also looks so utterly stunning that it’s impossible to tear your eyes away from him when he’s on stage. Every eyebrow raised or lick of the lips is met with roars of approval by the crowd. A sublime performance.

There isn’t a weak link in this show at all, performers, musicians and outstanding production make this one of the best versions of Rocky Horror to tour in a long time.It’s a fan favourite, full of innuendo, an adult pantomime, camper than Christmas, and a guaranteed standing ovation when the audience rises as one to do an encore of the Time Warp.

Groan Ups Review

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until 25 September 2021

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley

5*****

Mischief are making magic all over again. In Groan Ups the writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, take the familiar, extract the humour and use it to ask an age old, unanswered question – do we choose what we become?

When the characters first enter the stage as children, running down the aisles, you are smiling already. The body language and ‘what I did this weekend’ assembly, is your character development in one swift shot! There are serious subjects touched on with hilarious results that make you think and laugh out loud all at once. The concluding scenes bring the piece to a tumultuous climax. Simon (Matt Cavendish) states clearly he is what they made him, after the years of constant bullying and degradation. We all know Archie (Daniel Abbott) is gay from the first scenes as 6 year olds. So are we already what we are or does our life mould us? Each and every main character gives light and shade, delivering intensity and humour in equal measures to this question. The humour is taken to another level by Jamie Birkett as Chemise, a complete caricature that puts the farcical into this farce.

Credit must be given to the creatives. The simple and effective staging tells you what age the characters are by the size of the classroom chairs and tables! The costumes give great visual clues, like a window into life at home.

If you want to belly laugh whilst pondering a philosophical question, Groan Ups does it by the bucket full.

DICK WHITTINGTON – DRAG RACE UK QUEENS TO STAR IN THE WEST END’S SECOND ALL DRAG PANTO THIS CHRISTMAS – PHOENIX THEATRE FROM 5 DECEMBER

TUCKSHOP AND AMEENA HAMID PRODUCTIONS PRESENT

DICK WHITTINGTON

TUCK SHOP’S SECOND ANNUAL ALL DRAG WEST END PANTO

AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE THIS CHRISTMAS

STARRING CHERYL HOLE, KITTY SCOTT CLAUS, CHORIZA MAY, AND HOLLY STARS

SUNDAYS 5, 12, 19 DECEMBER 2021, TUESDAY 4 JANUARY & SUNDAY 9 JANUARY 2022

FEATURING RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE UK FAVOURITE QUEENS

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

TuckShop – the UK’s only specialist production company devoted all things drag – are back in the West End this Christmas with DICK WHITTINGTON, the second of its all drag pantomimes, following the first 2019 sell-out hit Cinderella. Teaming up with Ameena Hamid, the West End’s youngest producer, “Dick” will star RuPaul’s Drag Race UK favourites Cheryl Hole as ‘Dick’, plus two of the Queens currently appearing on screen in Series 3, Kitty Scott Claus as ‘The Spirit of Soho’, and Choriza May as ‘Queen Rat’, Dick Whittington will play at the Phoenix Theatre from Sunday 5 December, with tickets on sale now here

Written by Gareth Joiner, Dick Whittington will also star Holly Stars as ‘The Cat’, Beau Jangles as ‘The Mayor of Soho’, Yshee Black as ‘Dame Sarah’, and Ophelia Love as ‘Villager Number 4’. Further casting and full creative team to be announced shortly.

Join our hero Dick Whittington on his thrilling quest to find adventure fame and fortune in the glittering streets of Soho, with his feisty and funny pussy cast. Will he be able to defeat villainous rodent Queen Rat, with the help of the Spirit of Soho, save the city and win the hand of his love, the beautiful Alice?

Get ready to follow your dreams as this classic tale is re-imagined in TuckShop’s own way. Unlike any other pantomime you’ll see, written by Gareth Joyner, you’ll be gagging on Dick and his friends as they bring the spirit of Soho to the West End.

Cheryl Hole said, I am beyond excited to be in panto this winter on the West End of all places, definitely a pinch me moment. If you told baby Cheryl she would be doing all this, I would have told you you’re telling a big fat lie! 

I’ve actually worked with Tuckshop from the beginning of my career, pre Drag Race, and it’s gonna be a family reunion and a lot of campery! And I promise I won’t be mediocre!”

Kitty Scott Claus said, “As an international beauty & style icon, felt tip connoisseur and queen hun, I am THRILLED to be appearing in Dick Whittington and can’t wait to spread some festive panto cheer. Speaking to you as I am from my swanky W1 rooftop apartment with fabulous city views and a full staff, it’s a pleasure and an honour for the audience to be blessed with such a buxom beauty in the cast and thrilled to be bringing a bit of glamour (and something for the dads) back to London’s glittering West End!”

Choriza May said, “So excited to finally work with Tuck Shop! And what a first project to be part of mi amor! Drag Panto in the West End? Sign me in!

My partner took me to see Panto the first Christmas  I spent in the UK after moving from Spain, and I fell in love with it! Now I get to headline Dick Whittington. Full circle moment, que loco!”

Holly Stars said, “I’m in it.”

In the last two years TUCKSHOP has engrained itself as a fundamental part of the West End, bringing drag to the mainstream like never before. With the huge rise in drag popularity over the last ten years, TuckShop is at the forefront of UK Drag culture, coming hot off the heels of Chris Clegg’s fifteen years’ experience in the West End as a producer, theatre manager, and marketing expert. Having had huge success with the critically acclaimed comedy Death Drop – the first all drag spectacular in a West End playhouse and now on a major UK tour, TuckShop West End, a summer festival of drag shows and performances at the Garrick, and Cinderella at the Trafalgar Studios, TuckShop also represent the next generation of Drag superstardom, handle merchandising for performers globally, and are branching out into broadcast media, with shows such as Holly Stars: Inspirational now on Amazon Prime and OUTTv. Their smash hit show Gals Aloud has played sold out seasons across the UK, and new production The Sickening 90s Drag Prom creates new interactive experiences for audiences.TuckShop is the beating, glittery heart of an industry that continues to explode! 

AMEENA HAMID is a London based creative producer, general manager, festival curator and facilitator. Her work focuses on increasing inclusivity and representation in theatre. She has been heralded as “a true role model to the future generations” by Official London Theatre.  At just 20, Ameena earnt the accolade of youngest ever female producer on the West End as Associate Producer on Death Drop (Garrick Theatre). She worked as Line Producer on Shedding A Skin by Amanda Wilkin and curious by Jasmine Lee-Jones for Soho Theatre. Ameena was an EdFringe and British Council Emerging Producer and one of Stage One’s Bridge the Gap Producers. She is on the Board of the League of Independent Producers and part of the Creative Freelances Shaping London’s Recovery Advisory Group.

Other credits include: Co-Producer The Wiz (Hope Mill Theatre Manchester), General Manager on Wonderville Magic And Illusion (Palace Theatre), Assistant Producer to The Show Must Go On Live (Palace Theatre), Producer on Graduates at Cadogan Hall, Producer on Eating Myself (Applecart Arts and FAE Lima, Peru), Producer on Killing It and Since U Been Gone (VAULT Festival).

READING REP THEATRE ANNOUNCE FULL CAST OF DORIAN A NEW ADAPTATION BY PHOEBE ECLAIR-POWELL AND OWEN HORSLEY – THE FIRST PRODUCTION IN READING’S BRAND-NEW THEATRE

READING REP THEATRE ANNOUNCE FULL CAST OF DORIAN

A NEW ADAPTATION BY PHOEBE ECLAIR-POWELL AND OWEN HORSLEY

THE FIRST PRODUCTION IN READING’S BRAND-NEW THEATRE

Reading Rep Theatre today announce the full cast of DORIAN, a world première adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray written by Bruntwood Prize winner Phoebe Eclair-Powell, and RSC Associate Director Owen HorsleyOwen Horsley directs Andro Cowperthwaite (Dorian), Ché Francis (Henry) and Nat Kennedy (Basil). The production opens on 19 October, with previews from 13 October and runs until 7 November. DORIAN is the first production in the Reading Rep: Reborn season and marks the opening of Reading Rep’s new cultural arts hub following a two-year campaign which raised over £1 million to build the state-of-the-art performance space.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal beauty. Basil and Henry join him for the ride until it all gets a bit much, and the hangovers make way for murder…

DORIAN follows one man’s descent from beautiful debauchery to epic chaos. But who decides when the party is over?

This production will be accompanied by participation project Made in Reading that explores Reading’s LGBTQIA+ history and Wilde’s imprisonment in Reading Gaol.

Phoebe Eclair-Powell is the current winner of the Bruntwood Prize for her play Shed: Exploded View. Her other theatre credits include WinkFuryThe Picture of Dorian Gray, These Bridges, and the forthcoming Harm and Really Big and Really Loud. For television, her credits include Two Weeks to Live, and for film, the forthcoming Better the Blood.

Owen Horsley’s previous theatre credits include MaydaysSalomeFirst Encounters: The Famous Victories of Henry (RSC), Antony and CleopatraWho’s There: Hamlet, A Memory Play (Classic Stage Company), Dorian Gray (The Watermill Theatre), Henry V (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal Festival Hall), Outside on the Street (Arcola Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Lysistrata (Albany Theatre), and The Duchess of Malfi (Southwark Playhouse). As an Associate Director of Cheek by Jowl, his credits include ‘Tis Pity She’s a WhoreMacbethTroilus and CressidaCymbeline, and The Changeling.

Andro Cowperthwaite plays Dorian. He is an actor and singer/songwriter and trained at Drama Centre London. His theatre credits include The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Bridge Theatre), Salome and Dido: Queen of Carthage (RSC) and Corpus Christi (The Space). His film credits include Cold Blow Lane, The Agency and Abstract.

Ché Francis plays Henry. He is a recent LAMDA graduate, and his theatre credits include Curtains Up and The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatr Clywd), The Colours (Soho Theatre), Volpone (Omnibus Theatre) and The Toxic Avenger (Pleasance and Art’s Theatre).

Nat Kennedy plays Basil. They are a recent RADA graduate and queer theatre and filmmaker. They created The Sirrah Sisters, a female and non-binary Shakespeare Theatre Company. Their previous credits include The Maids (Southwark Playhouse), Iphigenia In Aulis (The Cockpit Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night (The Sirrah Sisters), and Macbeth, As You Like It and Henvy V (The Show Must Go Online).

Dame Judi Dench and Jamael Westman announced as new Patrons of Polka Theatre

Dame Judi Dench and Jamael Westman announced as
new Patrons of Polka Theatre

Multi award-winning stage and screen icon Dame Judi Dench will join Polka Theatre as a new patron alongside theatrical talent Jamael Westman, who currently plays Alexander Hamilton in LA, having originated the role of in London’s West End. These two acclaimed performers will work with Polka to champion theatre and creative learning for young audiences across the UK.

Following a major £8.5million Future Polka redevelopment campaign, Polka Theatre will reopen their doors this autumn with an enthralling programme of world class family theatre and creative learning activities. The completely revitalised state-of-the-art venue will provide unrivalled facilities for families and schools, including two auditoriums. The theatre seeks to continually inspire young minds, school groups and families in and around the local community and beyond, making theatre accessible for all.

Dame Judi Dench comments, I am delighted to become a Patron for Polka Theatre. Just like adults, children deserve the best theatre, and that is exactly what Polka does. I am incredibly passionate about the wonderful, positive impact that theatre can have on our lives and it is so important that starts from childhood. Theatre opens doors to new worlds, gives flight to imagination and brings stories of all kinds to life. Polka inspires and brightens children’s lives, rousing their imaginations to run wild. The new building will make sure Polka can keep making extraordinary theatre so children can continue to dream in bright colours. It is a place where children feel safe to be whoever they want to be, and most importantly it is open to every child and family to experience and take part.

Jamael Westman said, I’ll never forget the first time I came to Polka Theatre. I saw some of the young people, explore, discover, and express themselves. It was palpably exciting and joyous. Polka Theatre continues to offer a safe space to do all of those things, as it empowers young people to then go out and be confident in themselves in all their wonderful individuality. Polka is at the forefront of that, and it’s why I’m honoured to be a Patron in support of our young people in our community

Polka Theatre’s Executive Director and Joint CEO Lynette Shanbury adds, We are delighted to announce our two brilliant new Patrons, at a very important moment for Polka as we begin to re-open our doors following our incredible redevelopment. Both are such talented performers, as well as being hugely passionate about the importance of theatre for children and young people. It is inspiring for the children we work with to have such extraordinary role models join us.

Dear Evan Hansen Casting announced for West End return

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR THE OLIVIER AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTION OF

D E A R   E V A N   H A N S E N

REOPENING IN LONDON ON 26 OCTOBER 2021

OLIVIER AWARD-WINNER SAM TUTTY RETURNS IN THE TITLE ROLE

WWW.DEAREVANHANSEN.COM

Producer Stacey Mindich is today (20 September 2021) delighted to announce the Olivier award-winning Company returning to Dear Evan Hansen next month.  The London production reopens at the Noël Coward Theatre on 26 October 2021 and is currently booking to 13 February 2022.

Sam Tutty returns to the role that won him the 2020 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.  He will be joined by returning cast members Lucy Anderson (Zoe Murphy), Doug Colling (Connor Murphy) and Marcus Harman (who will play Evan Hansen at certain performances), Jack Loxton (Jared Kleinman), Rebecca McKinnis (Heidi Hansen), Lauren Ward (Cynthia Murphy) and Rupert Young (Larry Murphy). Iona Fraser takes on the role of (Alana Beck).  Completing the Company are Tricia Adele-Turner, Haydn Cox, Hannah Lindsey, Mark Peachey and James Winter with new cast members Ellis Kirk, Samantha Mbolekwa, Hannah Qureshi and Mitchell Zhangazha.

Dear Evan Hansenalso the recipient of the 2020 Olivier Award for Best Musical and Best Score, opened at the Noël Coward Theatre to great critical acclaim November 2019.  Prior to lockdown, the show welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to a special performance for The Royal Foundation which funds the Heads Together and Heads Up initiatives and the mental-health support service, Shout.  In 2021 the tracks Waving Through a Window and You Will Be Found were included in the top 50 of the BBC Radio 2 Greatest Songs from a Musical, voted for by the public.

Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson, a score by Grammy®, Tony® and Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif.

Dear Evan Hansen opened on Broadway to rave reviews on 4 December 2016, where it went on to win six 2017 Tony Awards including Best Musical among many other accolades and has broken all box office records at its Broadway home, the Music Box Theater. The show launched its First North American Tour in Denver, Colorado in October 2018 and prior to the shutdown had performed in more than 40 cities across North America playing for more than 1.5 million audience members. The show’s now-iconic blue polo and arm cast are part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording produced by Atlantic Records, was released in February 2017, making an extraordinary debut on the Billboard 200 and entering the chart at #8 – the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961 – and went on to win the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.  The Broadway production and the US National Tour will resume performances in December 2021.

Dear Evan Hansen features choreography by Danny Mefford, scenic design by David Korins, projection design by Peter Nigrini, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, and hair design by David Brian Brown.  Music supervision, orchestrations and additional arrangements are by Alex Lacamoire.  Ben Cohn is the Associate Music Supervisor.  UK Casting is by Jill Green Casting,Vocal arrangements and additional arrangements are by Justin PaulJudith Schoenfeld is the Production Supervisor. General Management is by 101 Productions, Ltd with Adam Speers as UK Executive Producer.

COVID-19

As a courtesy to each other and to help provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone, the Delfont Mackintosh Theatres ask that customers bring proof of double vaccination, a recent negative lateral flow test or natural immunity as audiences may be asked to present these upon arrival and to wear a face covering out of consideration for those around them. This guidance may change. Please visit the Delfont Mackintosh Theatres website for the most up to date information.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Instagram: @dearevanhansen

Twitter: @dearevanhansen

Facebook: /DearEvanHansen

#YouWillBeFound

Facebook@DEHWestEnd

Twitter@DEHWestEnd

Instagram@DEHWestEnd

WEBSITE

www.dearevanhansen.com

www.dearevanhansen.com/london/

LISTINGS

Theatre                              Noël Coward Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4AU

Box Office                          0844 482 5151

Dates:                                26 October 2021 – 13 February 2022

MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY: INITIAL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR ALAN BENNETT’S HABEAS CORPUS

INITIAL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR

MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY’S PRODUCTION OF

ALAN BENNETT’S HABEAS CORPUS

With their critically acclaimed production of Paula Vogel’s Indecent running at the theatre, the Menier Chocolate Factory today announces initial casting for their production of Alan Bennett’s Habeas CorpusPatrick Marber’s directs Kirsty Besterman (Constance Wicksteed), Jasper Britton (Arthur Wicksteed), Matthew Cottle (Canon Throbbing), Ria Jones (Mrs Swabb), Thomas Josling (Dennis Wicksteed), Caroline Langrishe (Lady Rumpers), Catherine Russell (Muriel Wicksteed) and Abdul Salis (Mr Shanks). The production opens on 13 December, with previews from 3 December, running until 26 February 2022. Full casting will be announced shortly.

The Menier Chocolate Factory presents

HABEAS CORPUS

By Alan Bennett

Director: Patrick Marber; Set and Costume Design: Richard Hudson

Lighting Design: Richard Howell; Music and Sound Design: Adam Cork

3 December 2021 – 26 February 2022

The antics of the Wicksteed home are a darkly satirical merry-go-round in Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus.  Family, friends and the quest for sexual pleasures of the body (“corpus”) are the ruling passions in this farcical comedy of ill-manners. Through an escapade of mistaken identities and carnal encounters, one motto holds fast: “He whose lust lasts, lasts longest.”

Multi-award-winning playwright Alan Bennett is also a screenwriter, actor and author. His other works for the stage include The History Boys, The Habit of Art, The Lady in the Van, Talking Heads, The Madness of George III, Kafka’s Dick, Enjoy, The Old County and A Cuckoo in the Nest.

Kirsty Besterman plays Constance Wicksteed. Her theatre work includes Macbeth (National Theatre tour), Genesis Inc, Experience (Hampstead Theatre), Winter Solstice (ATC), Betrayal, Separate Tables (Salisbury Playhouse), They Drink It in the Congo (Almeida Theatre), Tipping the Velvet (Lyric Hammersmith), Arcadia, Tonight at 8.30 (ETT), Private Lives (Royal Lyceum Theatre), The School for Scandal (Park Theatre) and Playhouse Creatures (Chichester Festival Theatre). For television, her work includes Doctor Who, His Dark Materials, Father Brown and Peter Ackroyd’s London; and for film Chicken and An American Nobody in London.

Jasper Britton returns to the Menier to play Arthur Wicksteed – he previously appeared in Pack of Lies and Little Shop of Horrors. His other theatre work includes The Sunset Limited (Boulevard Theatre), Murder at the Cathedral (Scena Mundi Theatre Company), Witness for the Prosecution (County Hall), Jerusalem (The Watermill Theatre), Scrooge, What the Butler Saw (Curve, Leicester), The Blinding Light (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Libertine (Theatre Royal Bath and Theatre Royal Haymarket), Richard II, Henry IV, The Jew of Malta, Marat/Sade (RSC), Race, Private Lives (Hampstead Theatre), The Last Cigarette (Chichester Festival Theatre and West End), Oedipus (National Theatre), Plague Over England (Finborough Theatre) and Rhinoceros (Royal Court Theatre). His television work includes Garrow’s Law, The Royal, Semi Detached, My Dad’s the Prime Minister and Murder in Mind; and for film, Rise of the Foot Soldiers 2, Blood, Anonymous, Morris: A Life with Bells On, Black Beard, Nostradamus and The New World.

Matthew Cottle returns to the Menier to play Canon Throbbing – he previously appeared in Communicating Doors. His other theatre credits include The Windsors: Endgame (Prince of Wales Theatre), A Small Family Business (National Theatre), What Women Did (Southwark Playhouse), Quartermaine’s Terms (Wyndham’s Theatre), A Chorus of Disapproval (Harold Pinter Theatre), Dear Uncle (Stephen Joseph Theatre) and Racing Demon (Sheffield Crucible). For television, his work includes The Dresser, Man Down, Fried, Hoff the Record, Citizen Khan, The Job Lot, Pram Face, Life Begins and Game On; and for film, The Personal Blessed and Bright Young Things.

Making her straight play debut, Ria Jones plays Mrs Swabb. Her musical theatre include Sunset Boulevard (London Coliseum, Curve, Leicester, and European tour), Gypsy (Royal Exchange Theatre), Guys and Dolls (Marigny Theatre, Paris), 42nd Street (Curve, Leicester/Theater du Chatelet, Paris), Les Misérables (UK tour/ Palace Theatre), Chess (Prince Edward Theatre), Cats (New London Theatre), Evita (Opera House, Manchester), Nine (Donmar Warehouse), High Society (UK tour/ Shaftesbury Theatre), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK tour/Hammersmith Apollo), Anything Goes, The Witches of Eastwick, Acorn Antiques (UK tours), Into The Woods (Esplanade Theatre, Singapore), Romance Romance, Victor Victoria (Bridewell Theatre), Personals (New End Theatre), A Twist of Fate (Jubilee Theatre, Singapore), Honk! (Victoria Theatre, Singapore), Jerry’s Girls (St James’s Theatre/ Jermyn Street Theatre), Closer Than Ever (Landor Theatre) and A Little Night Music (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester).

Thomas Josling plays Dennis Wicksteed, marking his professional stage debut. For television, his work includes Masters of the Air.

Caroline Langrishe plays Lady Rumpers. Her theatre work includes How the Other Half Loves (UK tour), Bang Bang (Mercury Theatre Colchester), Much Ado About Nothing (Found 111), Lady Anna: All at Sea (Park Theatre), First Episode (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Nightmare of Carlos Fuentes (Arcola Theatre), The Memory of Water (New Vic Theatre/Stephen Joseph Theatre), The Handyman (Yvonne Arnaud), Private Lives (Chichester Festival Theatre) and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Young Vic). For television, her work includes Tremors, Agatha Raisin, A Confession, Death in Paradise, The Case, Our Numbered, Pete versus Life, Doctors (as semi regular Judith Leicester), Casualty (as semi regular Marilyn Fox), Judge John Deed, Tripping Over and Lovejoy (as Charlotte Cavendish); and for film, Boxing Day, Tremors: Island Fury, Plastic, A Second Son, Love’s Kitchen, Christmas Carol and Rogue Trader.

Catherine Russell plays Muriel Wicksteed. Her theatre work includes What the Butler Saw (Curve Leicester and Theatre Royal Bath), Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales Theatre), Dreams of Violence (Soho Theatre and Out of Joint tour), The Convict’s Opera (Sydney Theatre and Out of Joint UK tour), The Waltz of the Toreadors (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Day I Stood Still (National Theatre), Talking to Terrorists, The Break of Day, Three Sisters (Royal Court Theatre and Out of Joint tours), and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (Almeida Theatre). Her television work includes as series regular Serena Campbell in Holby City, Pete vs Life. The Cazalets, Inspector Lynley (as series regular Helen Lynley), Chandler and Co (as series regular Elly Chandler), Single (as series regular Veronica) and Always and Everyone; and for film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Clockwork Mice, Solitaire for 2 and Soft Top, Hard Shoulder.

Abdul Salis plays Mr Shanks. For theatre his work includes Present Laughter and The American Clock (the Old Vic), The Barbershop Chronicles (National Theatre), A Bit of Light and Birth! (Royal Exchange Theatre), Distance (Park Theatre), Henry V (Unicorn Theatre), War Horse (New London Theatre, National Theatre), Joe Guy (New Wolsey Theatre and Soho Theatre), Don Juan in Soho (Donmar Warehouse) and The Exonerated (Riverside Studios). For television, his work includes Power Monkeys, Hacks, Strike Back, Outnumbered, Gifted, Roger Roger and The Hidden City; and for film, Trendy, Flyboys, Animal, Sahara, Welcome Home and Love Actually.

As a director, Patrick Marber’s work includes Leopoldstadt (Wyndham’s Theatre), Travesties (Menier Chocolate Factory, Apollo Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre), Steve Coogan/John Thompson in Characters (Edinburgh/Purcell Room/Touring), and his own plays Dealer’s Choice (National Theatre/Vaudeville Theatre), Closer (National Theatre/Lyric Theatre/Broadway), Howard Katz and Three Days In the Country (both National Theatre).  Other productions include ‘1953′ (Almeida Theatre), Blue Remembered Hills (National Theatre), The Old Neighborhood (Royal Court at Duke of York’s Theatre), The Caretaker (Comedy Theatre) and I Remember (devised piece at Royal Court). For television, he directed After Miss Julie and The Curator (both for the BBC). As a writer, his other work includes The Musicians (NT Connections) After Miss Julie, Don Juan in Soho (Donmar Warehouse and Wyndham’s) and The Red Lion (National Theatre). For television, his work includes: co-writer of The Day Today, Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, Paul Calf Video Diaries, The Curator, Natural Born Quizzers (all BBC); for film, Closer (dir. Mike Nichols), Notes on a Scandal (dir. Richard Eyre) and Love You More (dir. Sam Taylor-Wood); and for radio, Hoop Lane (BBC Radio 3) and Bunk Bed with Peter Curran (BBC Radio 4).

LISTINGS INFORMATION

MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY

53 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1RU

INDECENT

Until 27 November

BRIAN & ROGER

22 October – 18 December

HABEAS CORPUS

3 December 2021 – 26 February 2022

Box Office:                         020 7378 1713 (£2.50 transaction fee per booking)

Website:             www.menierchocolatefactory.com (£1.50 transaction fee per booking)

Tickets:                               Prices vary, as below from discounted preview tickets to premier seats. With the emphasis on ‘the sooner you book, the better the price’:

Please note at this time the restaurant is unable to open due to circumstances beyond the company’s control.

www.menierchocolatefactory.com

Twitter: @MenChocFactory

Instagram: @menierchocolatefactory

September in the Rain Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 9 October 2021

Reviewed by Lucy Hitchcock 

4****

September in the Rain, starring Ian Kelsey and Nicola Sloane as Jack and Liz, depicts a wedded couple from Yorkshire  as they they travel to Blackpool every year for their ounce of sunshine. 

For the last 30 or so years they have never missed a September holiday in Blackpool and they take us through their various holidays as they reminisce their marriage. Ian and Nicola have such an incredible rapport on stage, it was really like we were watching a married couple!! Amongst the world of deckchairs, ice creams and donkey rides, the couple goes through their ups and downs-the arrival of children and various arguments along the way really make this a piece to be related to on all levels. Ian Kelsey as Jack, a middle aged grumpy character who really has a heart of gold, is a real treat of casting and is able to steal your heart and break it within seconds following a fight between the two. His long suffering wife Liz, played by Nicola Sloane, is pure comedic genius. She shows such command to the stage and truly transported us into the story through her excellent portrayal. Her fast paced performance complimented John Godber’s excellent script writing perfectly. Nicola transformed with the flashbacks through the years, a real chameleon of the stage. 

Listening to the arguments had by the couple, the affection shared and the wants and wishes of life makes this such a familiar show, even if you have never seen it. It is enough to make you laugh and think about your own life and at one point, I was nearly in tears through laughing! A true masterpiece, this is definitely not a show to be missed! 

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge – until 18 September 2021

Reviewed by Steph Lott

5*****

“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound…” Celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr. Watson are asked to solve the mystery surrounding the untimely and spooky death of Sir Charles Baskerville. With rumours of a cursed giant hound loose on the moors, they must act fast in order to save the Baskerville family’s last remaining heir.

However, although Lotte Wakeham’s production more or less follows the plot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most celebrated adventure, any resemblance to previous adaptations stops there. This classic detective tale has undergone a gloriously silly overhaul, with just 3 actors performing all the roles. They had me and the rest of the audience in stitches. Jake Feretti does a star turn as a pompous and ridiculous Holmes but literally had the audience rolling in the aisles as Stapleford’s tango-dancing Spanish ‘sister’. Niall Ransome is fabulous as the bumbling Watson and one half of a country bumpkin duo. However my favourite was Serena Manteghi. Her physical comedy is brilliant, I loved the expressions she pulls as she bounces around the stage as Sir Henry and a host of other characters, including the other half of the country bumpkin duo.

The action is fast-paced and slick. There are many lunatic changes of scenery and so many visual gags that I don’t want to describe, for fear of ruining the surprises. There are so many brilliantly funny moments and any production which has lost trousers, some of the cast in their pants and a couple of roles played by stuffed dummies is alright by me!

A word here about David Woodhead’s wonderfully creative and inventive set. It’s all on castors and zooms on and off stage at lightning speed. The lighting and dry ice create a nicely atmospheric Grimpen Moor, with a suitably eerie Baskerville Hall above it on a moonlit hill.

When I took my seat for last night’s performance I wasn’t sure what to expect; how could the Hound of the Baskervilles be turned into a comedy, with only a cast of 3? However I loved the play and, from the laughter around me, it would appear that the rest of the audience did too. It was so lovely to be once again in a family audience thoroughly enjoying themselves.

This ingenious adaptation is a fabulous, exhilarating slapstick romp combining theatrical invention and wonderfully comic performances. Gloriously silly and a right hoot. I recommend you go and see it.

New Folk album COVERS FROM AWAY from the artists who inspired hit musical COME FROM AWAY

COVERS FROM AWAY

A NEW FOLK ALBUM FROM THE

ARTISTS WHO INSPIRED THE HIT MUSICAL

COME FROM AWAY

NOW AVAILABLE

Image

THE WEST END PRODUCTION OF COME FROM AWAY IS AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE, LONDON.

Today, Craft Recordings and Concord Theatricals announce the release of Covers From Awaya new folk album featuring songs from the hit Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away by Irene Sankoff & David Hein, reinterpreted by the Newfoundland and Labrador bands and artists who originally inspired the sound of the musical.

Click HERE to stream or download the album.

“This project was such a gift for us,” said David Hein. “To have our music interpreted by these amazing bands that we’re such huge fans of is truly an honor! When we first started writing Come From Away, we knew we wanted the music to be as authentic as possible, so we listened to every album from all the Newfoundland and Labrador bands that I fell in love with growing up. And now, with this album, we get to share an even more authentic experience, with those same bands putting their unique spin on every song from our show.”

“Come From Away has very few stand-alone songs, so what was most exciting about this project was the opportunity to actually collaborate with these bands by digging into our original or cut lyrics, writing new ones, or pairing songs together to create something completely new,” added Irene Sankoff. “With this album, we hope to bring Newfoundland music to people around the world. I hope people will return the favor by seeking out these artists, and buying their albums and going to their concerts, and even coming to Newfoundland to hear them.”

“We’re very happy to continue our relationship with David and Irene, and to explore new facets of their songs with these terrific artists,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, Chief Theatricals Executive for Concord.

The album was recorded in summer 2021 in various locations throughout Newfoundland, Canada, and was produced by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the writers of the musical’s book, music and lyrics, along with Ian EisendrathBob Hallett and Sean Patrick Flahaven. Two songs from the album, “Welcome To The Rock” (performed by The Navigators) and “Screech Out” (performed by The Dardanelles), can both be heard in the end credits of the Apple original film Come From Away, now streaming globally on Apple TV+.

The musical Come From Away tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. On September 11, 2001, the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.

Track List:

  1. “Welcome To The Rock” – performed by The Navigators
  2. “I Am Here” – performed by Rosemary Lawton
  3. “Wherever We Are” – performed by The Punters
  4. “Heave Away” – performed by Alan Doyle
  5. “Stop The World” – performed by The Once
  6. “Costume Party” – performed by Rachael Cousins and Abigale
  7. “Lead Us Out Of The Darkness” – performed by Silver Wolf Band
  8. “Screech In” – performed by Shanneyganock
  9. “Me And The Sky” – performed by Damhnait Doyle
  10. “Prayer Of St. Francis” / “Mi’kmaq Honor Song” – performed by Jason Benoit
  11. “Blankets And Bedding” – performed by The Irish Descendants
  12. “Somewhere In The Middle Of Nowhere” – performed by Sherman Downey
  13. “Screech Out” – performed by The Dardanelles
  14. “Themes From Come From Away” – performed by Ofra Harnoy, Mike Herriott and Bob Hallett

Covers From Away was mixed by Ian Kagey, with additional editing by Neal Shaw. The album was mastered by Oscar Zambrano. Production credits for each track can be found in the album booklet HERE.

Craft Recordings / Concord Theatricals previously released the Grammy Award-nominated original Broadway cast recording of Come From Away, available digitally and in stores everywhere.

Other recent recordings released by Craft Recordings / Concord Theatricals include the Grammy Award nominated cast albums of Amélie (Original London Cast Recording) and Carousel (2018 Broadway Cast Recording), as well as R&H Goes Pop!, Jason Robert Brown’s Coming From Inside the House (A Virtual SubCulture Concert), Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf’s Music of Broadway for Cello and Piano,Reid & Schlesinger’s The Ballad of Little Jo, Shaina Taub’s Twelfth Night, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk’s The Mad Ones, Georgia Stitt’s A Quiet Revolution and Drew Gasparini’s We Aren’t Kids Anymore.