GEMMA COLLINS announced as ‘Mama Morton’ in the UK tour of CHICAGO











David Ian in association with Barry and Fran Weissler are delighted to announce TV personality Gemma ‘The GC’ Collins will star as ‘Mama Morton’ in the acclaimed UK and Ireland tour of the international smash hit musical CHICAGO. Gemma will join the tour at the Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 31 May 2022, ahead of playing Cardiff New Theatre, Blackpool Winter Gardens, Sheffield Lyceum, Norwich Theatre Royal and New Theatre, Oxford.

David Ian said today, “We were completely stunned by Gemma’s audition for the role. She’s an undeniable force both on and off stage, and we can’t wait to see her portrayal of ‘Mama Morton’ on tour. Audiences across the country are in for a treat.”

Gemma Collins is best known as a media personality and businesswoman, having first featured in the reality series The Only Way Is Essex. She was awarded the 2021 winner of the Best Female Personality at the National Reality Television Awards. Since ‘Essex’ Gemma has appeared in numerous television shows including, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Big Brother, Dancing on Ice and All Together Now in which she was a finalist. Most recently Gemma was seen on screens with her intimate Channel 4 documentary, Gemma Collins: Self-Harm & Me. Before finding fame on The Only Way Is Essex, Gemma was a keen performer having studied dance and winning a place at the renowned Sylvia Young Theatre School.

Gemma joins Faye Brookes as ‘Roxie Hart’, Djalenga Scott as ‘Velma Kelly’, Jamie Baughan as ‘Amos Hart’ and B.E. Wong as ‘Mary Sunshine’. The role of ‘Billy Flynn’ will be announced soon. Full tour schedule below.

The cast is completed by Ishmail Aaron, Michelle Andrews, Gabby Antrobus, Delycia Belgrave, Joel Benjamin, Tanisha-Mae Brown, Daniel Clift, Callum Fitzgerald, Emily Goodenough, Billie Hardy, Aaron Jenkins, Liam Marcellino, Theo Reece, Hollie Jane Stephens and Harrison Wilde. 

Faye Brookes (Roxie Hart) reached the final of last year’s series of ITV’s Dancing On Ice. She is best known for her role as Kate Connor in ITV’s Coronation Street, for which she won a National Television Award. Her theatre credits include Princess Fiona in Shrek and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, both on national tour, Ann/Edna in That Day We Sang directed by Victoria Wood at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, Liesl in The Sound of Music at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Frenchy in Grease at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre. Faye’s other TV credits include Agnes Franklin in Our Girl and Helena in Atlantis, both for the BBC.

Djalenga Scott’s (Velma Kelly) West End credits include Lily St Regis in Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the New London and Chicago at the Adelphi, Cambridge and Garrick Theatres. Her other credits include Anita in the national tour of West Side Story, Rizzo in Grease at Curve Leicester, Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show and Carmen in Fame, both on European tours, the US tour of Batman Live and Bombalurina in Cats at Kilworth House. Djalenga’s screen credits include Scarlett/Esme in Trapped for the BBC and Alexandra in the film I Give It A Year.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

Created by the musical theatre talents of John Kander, Fred Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, CHICAGO’s sexy, sassy score includes the show-stopping songs “Razzle Dazzle”, “Cell Block Tango”, and “All That Jazz”.  Winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy, CHICAGO is the longest running American musical in Broadway and West End history.

Since it opened in New York in 1996, CHICAGO has played in 36 countries worldwide and has been performed in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Danish, Japanese and Korean.  Worldwide it has been seen by an estimated 33 million people, grossed over $1.7 billion and played over 32,500 performances.

CHICAGO, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.  The 1996 Broadway revival of CHICAGO was choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, and produced by Barry and Fran Weissler.


Runaway Entertainment presents


The hit play by Danny Robins

Directed by Matthew Dunster

@222AGhostStory #222AGhostStory 



Producer Runaway Entertainment is delighted to announce casting news for the transfer of Danny Robins’ edge-of-your-seat, supernatural thriller 2:22 – A Ghost Story for a third season to the Criterion Theatre. The run at the Criterion follows two record breaking runs at the Noel Coward and Gielgud Theatres and three Olivier Nominations including Best New Play as well as winning the Best New Play category in the Whatsonstage awards.

Tom Felton will play the role of Sam. Having made his breakthrough as ‘Draco Malfoy’ in the Harry Potter series of films, Tom has gone on to star in award winning films The Rise of the Planet of the ApesA United Kingdom, and Belle, television series The Flash, Netflix filmThe Forgotten Battle and was most recently seen on screen in SKY’s Save the Cinema. Coming up, he will star in Independent Film Burial.

Tom Felton said: “I’m incredibly excited about getting to play in 2:22. I first started acting age 6 in a local theatre group and I haven’t trodden the boards since. I love the play, I’ve taken all my family to see it & everyone leaves with a smile. I’m thrilled to be part of this summers cast and will have a lot of fun with it.”

Mandip Gill will play Jenny. Mandip played companion Yasmin Khan in series 11, 12 and 13 of Doctor Who opposite Jodie Whittaker. She also played Phoebe McQueen in Hollyoaks and has appeared in CuckooDoctorsThe Good Karma Hospital and Casualty.

Mandip Gill said: “I am thrilled to be making my West End debut as part of the new cast of an already successful show. I am equally scared of ghosts so this should be fun” 

Beatriz Romilly will play the role of Lauren. Beatriz was born in Spain. She is best known for her work in Assassin’s Creed ValhallaFinal Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and War of the Worlds. She has also appeared on stage at Chichester Festival Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and The Bush Theatre.

Beatriz Romilly said: “I’m delighted to be returning to London and joining the new 2:22 company. I feel very lucky to be working with Matthew Dunster again, and getting a chance to dive into Danny Robins nail biting script with such a wonderful creative team and cast.”

Sam Swainsbury will play Ben. Sam is known best for his roles as Jason in the BBC sitcom Mum and Rowan in the 2019 film Fisherman’s Friends. In 2015, Swainsbury featured in the film Thor: The Dark World, In 2017, Swainsbury appeared on Fearless, In 2019, he appeared in Victoria as Dr John Snow.

Sam Swainsbury said: “It’s such a privilege to be joining the 2:22 company! I was really drawn to the script. It’s engaging, funny, exciting and poignant, but… there was something else. Something I can’t put my finger on. Drawing me to it. Almost like… like a voice. From another place. That’s normal, right?!

Matthew Dunster said: “Planning our 3rd iteration of 2:22 has been just as exciting as the first two; working with Danny and my Co-Director, Isabel Mar, and our brilliant casting directors to re-imagine the characters once more. It’s such a privilege to do that and to know audiences are excited about ‘who’s next?’  We have a wonderful cast that once again is loaded with surprise, excitement and West End Debuts. People love watching this show and we love making it.”

After breaking all box office records for a new play at the Noel Coward Theatre; described as the theatre event of the year and the hottest ticket in the West End; and after weeks of sell-out performances, the show transferred for another record breaking run at the Gielgud Theatre. The run there ended in February and a third season, this time to the Criterion Theatre, was immediately announced. 

2.22 – A Ghost Story is written by award-winning writer Danny Robins, creator of the hit BBC podcast The Battersea Poltergeist and it is directed by Matthew Dunster. Intriguing, funny and scary, it takes audiences into one adrenaline fueled night where secrets will emerge and ghosts may appear….What do you believe? And do you dare to discover the truth?

“There’s something in our house. I hear it every night, at the same time.”

Jenny believes her new home is haunted, but her husband Sam isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren and her new partner Ben. Can the dead really walk again? Belief and scepticism clash, but something feels strange and frightening, and that something is getting closer, so they are going to stay up… until 2.22am… and then they will know.

Danny Robins said “I’m overjoyed to have a cast of this outrageously exciting calibre for our new season. Tom and Mandip are stellar talents who I have admired for years, Sam is awesome and will be known and loved by comedy fans and Beatriz is someone I know is bursting with ability and on the cusp of stardom. Each new cast unlocks new surprises and thrills for me as a writer, each actor bringing their own distinctive take to the play. If you haven’t seen 2:22 before, there’s never been a better reason to come, if you have seen it, come back and see it again with this exciting line-up!” 

2:22 – A Ghost Story features set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, co-direction by Isabel Marr, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG and illusions by Chris Fisher.

2:22 – A Ghost Story is produced by Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Isobel David and Kater Gordon. 

Beautiful  – The Carol King Musical Review

Theatre Royal Brighton – until 2nd April 2022

Reviewed by Sue Bradley


In our world of modern music, we are usually blissfully unaware of the writers – we know (or, at least, know of) the artist, but who creates the songs for them to sing?

Carole King may not be a household name, particularly this side of the Atlantic, but she was a genuine pioneer, and her solo album Tapestry, released in 1971, helped to introduce the concept of the intelligent and articulate singer/songwriter to a much wider audience. I would be willing to bet that a high proportion of the older members of the audience at the Theatre Royal Brighton have had, and probably still have, a copy of Tapestry in their record collection. And King’s achievements are all the more remarkable for her being a woman in the largely male-dominated world of songwriting, especially at that time.

But King’s story started a decade earlier when she, at the age of 17, together with lyricist and future husband Gerry Goffin, wrote Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, made famous by the Shirelles. King and Goffins’ troubled relationship, and also their friendly rivalry with another songwriting team (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) provides the backdrop against which the musical Beautiful delivers a host of familiar songs. Rather than trying to weave a story around the songs, this show lets the songs do a lot of the work.  There are so many that are familiar  – you will be astonished by how many of them were written or co-written by King.

The show eases us in without a grand opening – the house lights are up and the cast drift on, until eventually Carole (played by Molly-Grace Cutler) sits at the grand piano. As soon as she starts to sing we know how good this show is going to be.  We soon come to realise that all the music we hear will be performed by the actors. Playing and singing everything, including an impressive array of brass instruments, they do this with evident enjoyment – many of them swapping instruments with apparent ease.

Of course, since there are groups like the Shirelles and the Drifters represented, there is some fine dancing too  – and, if the dance moves don’t quite have the effortless “cool” of the originals, they are still believable and help to transport us back to earlier times. 

The set is a stylised recording studio and this provides a neat solution to the perennial problem of how to have live drums on stage without them drowning everything else out. In this case the answer is simple – put them in the dedicated drum-booth found in most studios! The sound design for this show, by Tom Marshall, and directed onstage by Dan De Cruz, was excellent and made it a pleasure to listen to the music.

Carole’s journey from talented “Plain Jane” to Carnegie Hall star is affecting and unaffected. Molly-Grace Cutler sings the songs with real heart and holds the centre effortlessly. Particular mention, too, to Jos Slovick as Barry Mann who provides many comic moments with his insecurities and hypochondria and then reveals one of the best voices of the cast.

Closing the show with a rousing version of Beautiful from Tapestry, the cast and this production completely deserved the standing ovation we were more than happy to give. This was an excellent evening and I can only hope that future audiences enjoy the show as much as we did.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Review

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh – until Saturday 2nd April 2022

Reviewed by Ellen Searle


It takes a lot to get an Edinburgh audience onto its feet, but this multiple award winning musical, with outstanding performances of the entire company, fully deserved the long and heartfelt standing ovation it inspired at the Festival Theatre.

The show, from an original idea by Jonathan Butterell, with songs by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, is based on the true story of aspiring drag queen Jamie Campbell, who wants to go to his high school prom in drag. Jamie (Layton Williams) faces barriers all the way, prejudice, fear and outrage, not least of all from his own father. But Jamie has what we all need when times are tough ~ people who know right from wrong and who are on our side.

Most important of these is his mum Margaret (Amy Ellen Richardson). There is much poignancy in the the show, and particularly in the beautifully portrayed relationship between Jamie and his mother. Margaret is devoted to her son in the way only a mother can be, and the pitch perfect expression of parental pride, pain and joy as she and Jamie both grow through their intertwined experiences is a triumph of writing, directing and performance.  

The other three key allies of Jamie provide lightness and humor to offset this intensity, but they are also realistic and indeed inspiring characters. There is Margaret’s best friend, the indomitable Ray (Sasha Latoya), who supports and rallies, turning up at the right time, saying the right thing and bringing the right chocolate. There’s the steadfast best friend Pritti Pasha (Sharan Phull) standing up to bully Dean Paxton (George Sampson).  And there’s the fabulous Loco Chanelle, the alter ego of Hugo, owner of the drag paraphernalia shop that Jamie nervously enters to buy his first dress (Rhys Taylor replacing Shane Ritchie who was unable to perform on opening night due to illness).  All of these characters ‘get’ Jamie, but they are willing to challenge him, and are true to themselves. We can see ourselves in these characters as well as Jamie and Margaret, who we have been perhaps, and who we would like to be.

The acting and singing is pitch perfect,  delivered with real nuance and depth. There is plenty variety in tone as each scene flows naturally and easy into the next, with the action reflected perfectly in the singing and dancing, from the rousing, bouncy ‘Everyone’s Talking About Jamie’ ensemble number,  to Margaret’s soulful, heartfelt ‘If I Met Myself Again’, mirrored beautifully by a contemporary dance duet. 

I have only one very minor gripe, and that is that we are deprived the joy of seeing Jamie in full drag, which I expected to see in the otherwise fantastic finale.

All in all, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a delightful experience, and it is art.  It stimulates our minds, opens our hearts, and inspires us. And, it may just provide one of the best evenings of entertainment this year!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Review

Birmingham Hippodrome – until Saturday 2 April 2022

Reviewed by Louise Ford


Being brave in a confusing world…

The Curious Incident is based on the best selling novel by Mark Haddon, which was first published in 2003. This current production is adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliot. The  original National Theatre production was back in 2012 and has won a whole host of awards over the years. The adaptation stays very true and close to the original novel.

The production opens with the eponymous dog centre stage and a distraught Christopher Boone (David Bremen’s) being confronted by his angry neighbour who calls the police. The story is narrated by Siobhan (Rebecca Root), Christopher’s teacher and champion. She is there throughout the whole story guiding, prompting and steering Christopher through the difficult journey to investigate the incident. 

The set (designed by Bunny Christie) which at first glance is very minimal, just  a few cubes, is cleverly lit and manipulated with light, (Paule Constable) sound ( Ian Dickinson) and video (Finn Ross) to convey a wide range of scenes. From suburban Swindon to the crowded underground. The shock of the sounds combined with flashing lights make for a total sensory overload at times. This cleverly conveys the confusion and distress that surrounds Christopher.

At the heart of the story is a young adolescent who is struggling with the breakdown of his family. He has some “behavioural difficulties “ that his parents  try to understand and deal with. This coupled with his inability to interpret emotions, feelings and situations makes for a complicated and difficult life for both Christopher and his parents. Christopher’s observational and mathematical abilities help him to believe that he “can do anything in the world”. The first step is taking his A level mathematics at only 15. He is of course determined to get an A*.

Whilst the cast consists of just four major characters as well as Christopher and his teacher, there is  Ed, Christopher’s father (Tom Peters ) and Judy, Christopher’s mum (Kate Kordel) the rest of the parts are played by just six actors. And not forgetting the two rodents who play Toby on alternate nights!

The production feels fresh and exciting although the first half feels more energetic than the second. It was great to see an audience really get behind the story and be so enthusiastic. As the book is now a set text for GCSE English  the audience was made up of a large percentage of school pupils who really enjoyed the play, which also gave the performance an additional youthful vibe.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review

Manchester Opera House – until 2 April 2022


Joseph is my go to musical.  The first musical I ever saw, just under 40 years ago.  The first musical I ever saw in the West End around 30 years ago and a perennial favourite ever since.

This re-imagined version by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice was first performed at the London Palladium in 2019 and is now on its first tour around the UK.  Produced by Michael Harrison, this version is gloriously colourful and full of fun.  For me, it was reminiscent of a school assembly, but in a good way and the use of the children with the adults worked really well.

Alexandra Burke led the cast in her role of Narrator.  Beautifully pregnant, I’m amazed how she managed to carry a whole musical in her advanced condition – although I think the sparkly trainers may have been a concession to her gravidity.  Rarely off the stage, Burke played multiple roles including Joseph’s dad, Potiphar’s wife and various others with very impressive singing and dancing.  I was incredibly impressed, but I hope she gets to rest between performances though.

Jac Yarrow had his first professional role playing Joseph at the Palladium, nominating and winning multiple awards for his performance.  And it’s easy to see why, lyrically versatile and immensely likeable. His vocals were outstanding for Close Every Door, showing a huge range of emotions and he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself in the role.  We also get a performance by Joseph alumni, Jason Donovan as the Elvis inspired Pharaoh and his breakout number where he explains his troubling dreams to Joseph was an audience favourite.

But this is an ensemble piece and all the performers are excellent the brothers – Shane Antony-Whitely, Tyler Ephraim, Zac Frieze, MattGibson, Will Hawkesworth and Sam Stones perform a variety of musical styles from calypso, to a tango, a hoe-down and in the case of Those Canaan Days a song that wouldn’t sound out of place being sung in a French wine bar by the Little Sparrow herself.  All aided by Erica-Jayne Alden, Natalie Benyworth, Gemma Buckingham, Meg Darcy, Abbie Platts, Rochelle Sherona and Holly Willock and a group of 8 children interacting and harmonising beautifully.

John Rigby clearly enjoyed himself leading the orchestra and Joann M. Hunter’s choreography, Morgan Large’s design and Laurence Connors expert direction all combine to give us an outstanding production.

In Manchester until April 2nd and on tour around the UK, with a standing ovation and an encore that goes on forever, expressive singing of well written songs, comic interaction and spellbinding performances make this a show not to be missed. 


Rehearsal images are released today for BONNIE AND CLYDE.

Frances Mayli McCann and Jordan Luke Gage will star as the titular Bonnie and Clyde in the West End premiere of the cult-sensation BONNIE AND CLYDE THE MUSICAL, opening at the Arts Theatre from Saturday 9 April 2022.

They join the previously announced Natalie McQueen as ‘Blanche Barrow’ and George Maguire as ‘Buck Barrow’. The full company includes Cleve September as ‘Ted’ and Ako Mitchell as ‘Preacher’, Pippa Winslow as ‘Cumie Barrow/Governor Miriam Ferguson/Eleanore’, Gracie Lai as ‘Emma Parker/Stella’, Alistair So as ‘Sheriff Schmid’, Alexander Evans as ‘Henry Barrow/Deputy Johnson’, Ross Dawes as ‘Captain Frank Hamer’, Barney Wilkinson as ‘Bud/Archie’ and swings Charlie McCullagh and Annie Guy. Casting for the roles of ‘Trish’ and Young ‘Bonnie’ and ‘Clyde’ to be announced.

Who You Are And What You Do Review

Bread & Roses Theatre – until 2 April 2022

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Hugh Dichmont’s entertaining exploration of the search for happiness shows exciting potential but needs sharper focus.

The audience sit around the stage area, strewn with sequins, confetti, and balloons, with the cast sitting at opposite ends as if we are joining their party a little late. Some clowning from Valeria Rodríguez and Tosin Olomowewe sets up the seemingly random nature of the performance, and then things get a little darker.

The plots follow a rape survivor who attends acting school to learn to laugh again, a tech entrepreneur trialling a watch that injects endorphins to the wearer for a brief feeling of happiness, a Colombian house cleaner who uses her sexuality to hide her pain and a couple celebrating Christmas every day. Directed by Tom Ward, the tone swerves violently between absurdity and emotional honesty, with lots of dark humour that occasionally misses the mark as the scene ends and another begins. With various storylines unfolding episodically, the order in which the sections of the play are performed varies at each performance, with the clowns encouraging audience members spinning a wheel of fortune to determine the running order. With the titles of each section written faintly on small pieces of paper above the stage, this may aid the cast, but has no impact on the audience, making it easy to forget this conceit as the play progresses. Other shows following this model have spun the wheel between scenes, which slows the pace but could continue the silliness of the clowning opening; also giving the audience a chance to process what they have just seen and not be confused as to whether they are watching part of the same story. The plotlines are all really interesting and important, and the reasons behind the actions of some of the characters are revealed in different episodes, but none of them feel quite complete and the weak transitions mean that each section ends with a whimper rather than a bang.

The tough topics are approached sensitively, and although some dialogue is clunky, the impressive cast keep the audience engaged. Kate Sketchley’s rape survivor is a standout both in her comedic scenes learning to laugh with the ridiculous child diva Hugo (Evan L. Barker) and more serious moments facing the same actor as a more sinister character. Mohana Rajagopal is heart-breaking as the wife of John (James Heatlie), who is suffering from dementia and has sacrificed everything to ensure he is safe and happy. Tosin Olomowewe’s tech entrepreneur Daniel’s drive to provide fake and transient happiness for the masses and himself while he ignores the misery of his own family results in a particularly disturbing scene where his young son (James Heatlie) uses the technology himself.

With more development, Who You Are And What You Do has the makings of a remarkable play. As it is, the production is an entertaining but confusing night out that will spark lots of discussion on the journey home.

Frank Wildhorn Announces Special Guests for FRANK & FRIENDS













Fourth Wall Live and Frank Wildhorn are delighted to announce that West End stars Trevor Dion Nicholas, Natalie McQueen, John Owen-Jones, Christine Allado, Natalie May Paris, Frances Mayli McCann, Jordan Luke Gage and The Arts Ed Choir will be joining the composing icon on stage for  FRANK & FRIENDS – The Music of Frank Wildhorn at the Cadogan Hall on Sunday 17 April 2022 at 6.30pm. Tickets on sale now

Frank Wildhorn is delighted to be performing FRANK & FRIENDS for the first time in London. Presented by Fourth Wall Live FRANK & FRIENDS celebrates the breadth of renowned work from composer Frank Wildhorn, with selections from his pop, jazz, and theatre catalogues, including music from his musicals, Jekyll and HydeThe Scarlet PimpernelBonnie and ClydeWonderland and Dracula.

Frank Wildhorn is a Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award nominated celebrated composer of both musical theatre and popular songs including having written the Number One international hit “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” for Whitney Houston. Throughout his career he has written songs that have been recorded and performed by artists such as Hootie & the Blowfish, The Moody Blues, Stix, Johnny Mathis, Patti LaBelle, Trisha Yearwood, Colm Wilkinson, Anthony Warlow, Michael Ball, Beverley Knight, Kenny Rogers, Sammy Davis Jr, and Natalie Cole, to name a few. Among his forty original shows around the world are Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Dracula, Wonderland, Bonnie & Clyde, Victor/Victoria, The Count of Monte Cristo, Carmen, Rudolf, Camille Claudel, Mata Hari, Death Note, Excalibur/Artus, and The Man Who Laughs. At the end of 2021 the Vienna Symphony Orchestra’s recording of an original composition by Wildhorn was released, making him the first American to have a full-length symphony premiered by the World-renowned company.           

Trevor Dion Nicholas’s West End credits include ‘George Washington’ in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre and ‘Genie’ in Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre. He also presents on Magic at the Musicals and appears as a panellist on ITV’s All Star Musicals. In January 2022 he played the role of ‘Preacher’ in Bonnie and Clyde In Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Natalie McQueen’s West End credits include playing ‘Doralee Rhodes’ in 9 to 5 The Musical at the Savoy Theatre, Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre. Her other theatre credits include the UK tour of Wonderland, Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre and Starlight Express at The Other Palace. She is currently due to star as ‘Blanche Barrow’ in the West End premiere of Bonnie and Clyde The Musical at the Arts Theatre, a role she played in the sold-out Bonnie and Clyde In Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

John Owen-Jones is Broadway and West End star and recording artist, whose credits include playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérablesand The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. He has now recorded six studio albums, with his most recent, Spotlight, having been released in February 2019.

Christine Allado is best known for her award-winning performance as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds in the original West End production of Hamilton and for playing Vanessa in the Olivier Award winning production of In The Heights. Most recently she has been playing the role of Tzipporah in The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre.

Natalie May Paris is best known as ‘Jane Seymore’ in the West End production of Six The Musical, a role she played both in the West End and during the UK Tour as well as appearing on the show’s cast recording.

Frances Mayli McCann is an Olivier Award nominated actress, who originated the role of ‘Kylah’ in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Her other West End credits include ‘Heather McNamara’ in Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, ‘The Mistress’ in Evita at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and ‘Eponine’in the UK and International Tour ofLes Misérables. She is currently due to star as ‘Bonnie Parker’ in the West End premiere of Bonnie and Clyde The Musical at the Arts Theatre, the role she played in the sold-out Bonnie and Clyde In Concert at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Jordan Luke Gage is best known for his portrayal of ‘Romeo’ in the Olivier Award winning &Juliet at The Shaftesbury Theatre. His other West End credits include ‘Strat’ in Bat Out Of Hell at The Dominion Theatre and ‘JD’ in Heathers at Theatre Royal Haymarket. His television credits include playing ‘Adrian Barber’ in ITV’s Cilla, and ‘Luc’ in Cucumber on Channel 4. He is currently due to star as ‘Clyde Barrow in the West End premiere of Bonnie and Clyde The Musical.

Fourth Wall Live is an exciting new collaboration between boutique concert producer Club 11 London and theatrical producers DLAP Group. Having previously successfully produced Chita Rivera at Cadogan Hall together, the teams have now combined to bring audiences a plethora of international artists in concert at leading venues including the sold-out Bonnie and Clyde in Concert. Their recent production, Eurobeat – The Pride Of Europe was loved by audiences and critics alike during its streamed season in May 2021.

Twitter: @F_W_Live

Carducci String Quartet Review

Forum Theatre, Malvern – 24th March 2022

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau


Tonight’s programme was a varied and extremely interesting one with works covering the Classical, Romantic and 20th Century periods, presenting two composers who are latterly getting the acclaim they deserve alongside one of the two giants guaranteed to pull in a crowd.

First up was Fanny Mendelssohn’s mature String Quartet in E flat, written in 1834. A fantastic work that enjoys a wistful, melancholic air – as if battling with the requirements of polite society whilst wishing to kick off its shoes and run through the long grass. The final movement really lets loose, allowing the Carducci String Quartet to show off their virtuosity in a thrilling display of tight filigree passagework at breakneck speed. A passionate, dramatic performance superbly opening an intriguing program.

A welcome addition to the concert was being regaled with some anecdotes and facts about tonight’s music, putting the pieces in context. It was timely to hear that the second piece was conceived after a visit to bombed out Dresden, giving us an apposite reminder of the futility of war with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine still raging!

I find a deep vein of sadness in Shostakovich’s works and his ninth quartet (also in E flat, written in 1964) is no exception. There’s also that defiance to retain his unique voice in the face of Stalin’s “Socialist realism” (aka propaganda). The fourth movement is very sparse with pizzicato, long held notes and a great outpouring of emotion; like someone walking through a warzone and remembering fragmentary, joyous memories interspersed with crushing despair. The sheer effort that goes into wringing every ounce of emotion out of a piece such as this was astounding to experience, wrought in glorious technicolor with playing that was urgent, vibrant and spellbindingly intense.

Mozart’s String Quintet in G (completed in 1787) is also a brooding affair, perfectly complementing the preceding works – a masterstroke in programming. Perhaps the addition of

the second viola (Peter Lale seamlessly joining the Carduccis) is the reason for the darker palette which nonetheless ends on a sunlit vein, rounding out a perfect concert.

There’s a visceral intimacy in experiencing a quartet up close that is impossible to replicate. I was incredibly impressed by the quartet’s tone throughout and by their almost telepathic tightness. Their physicality was astounding, with first violinist Matt Denton positively dancing in his seat; often leaving it to put extra umph into a strident chord – all adding to the excitement. Cellist Emma Denton digging into a passionate phrase and that gorgeous (almost vocal like) tone that the cello has were further highlights. And with violinist Michelle Fleming and violist Eoin Schmidt-Martin thrilling in equal measure we see why this is an award winning quartet.

A stunning, enthralling performance that engulfed my heart, reminding one in these cynical times that humanity can be sublime. A challenging program to play but a total pleasure to hear. I can’t wait to explore their CDs and see them in concert again and I implore you to do the same. A massive slice of Heaven.