La Bohème Review

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton – until 24th November 2022

Reviewed by Emma Barnes

4****

Welsh National Opera brings La Bohème to Southampton,  and with winter on the horizon what a befitting way to transition into the new season. 

Picture the scene, it’s a cold and bitter Christmas eve in 19th-century Paris.  Four artist friends – a painter, a musician, a poet and a philosopher are poverty stricken but happy in their Bohemian existence, avoiding the rent man and scrounging free meals.   Their fates change forever with a visit from a neighbour, the ill fated Mimi (Anush Hovhannisyan), an embroiderer, who is looking for a light for her candle and finds love with poet Rodolpho (Luis Gomes).

The first half of the opera is optimistic and exuberant. Love is in the air and the café scene lights up the stage with birds, song, fireworks and happiness.  Musetta (Haegee Lee) a singer and on off lover of Marcello, the painter (Rodion Pogossov) makes an entrance, for us the highlight of the show was undoubtably Musetta’s flirtatious waltz accompanied by the wonderful WNO orchestra, what a treat.

The second half becomes increasingly dark and impending as Mimi’s health weakens and it becomes clear that fate, circumstance and poverty allows the four friends very little opportunity to influence her fate.  

La Bohème is a love story,  a tragedy. It is said to be one Puccini’s greatest works,  a deeply emotional opera with wonderfully romantic music.  The clever juxtaposition between dark and light, poverty and wealth, sickness and health are all played out as we were exposed to the extremes of human experience.

The staging was excellent,  from the smoky grey rooftops scenes of the Latin Quarter,  the joyous and colourful café scene, to the snowfall at the start of act three which set the tone for the events that followed,   everything was perfectly balanced to capture the emotion played out in scene.

La Bohème is often cited as the perfect opera for a newcomer. I watched this production alongside my Mother who has enjoyed this opera several times,  and my friend who was entirely new to the experience.  We were all thrilled by the rollercoaster of emotions.

Is it better to have loved and lost than never loved at all ?    We think so. This was both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of love shining through, told through the lens of poverty, despair and loss.

The Rocky Horror Show Review

New Wimbledon Theatre – until 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Carly Burlinge 

5***** 

New Wimbledon Theatre brings you the entertaining and established, amazing rock and roll musical created by Richard O’Brien. The one and only Rocky Horror Show! With fantastic outfits that are raunchy and sexy complete with some spectacular dancing that’s at another level of seductive and alluring that will entertain you from start to finish. A great tribute to the original Rocky Horror show. 

The story starts with Brad (Richard Meek) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) A newly engaged young strait-laced couple who are on their way to meet a professor in which they both knew from college. When things take a turn for the worst and their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that seems to be around is a creepy castle that belongs to a strange creature called Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb) an alien transvestite from the planet Transexual! When all they want to do is use the phone, in order to get help they embark on a night that will change their world forever. They go on to experience things that to them, would never seem possible! As the night begins to unfold it’s clear that anything goes in this strange and unusual place that’s full of sex, lust and lots of manipulation and even murder! 

This show has so much extravagance and is certainly not the norm offering a different experience from most shows. You definitely know the ones who love and frequent this show from the shout out participation from the audience, which adds more excitement and laughter throughout. Along with a narrator (Jackie Clune) that was as sharp and charismatic as her audience, not letting a single comeback get past her. Just brilliant! 

The whole cast were just exceptional from start to finish offering an experience that will stay with your forever. 

Frank N Furter played his part exceptionally well as a master of sexual lust and glamour that was just fascinating to watch. To be fair if I looked as good as he did there would be no issues! 

Looking around the theatre it was great to see so many outfits as well as the show full of basques, heels eye catching suspenders for the novices! 

The production offered so much fun and excitement watching everyone participate loud and proud and dancing and thrusting their pelvis away to ‘The Timewarp‘. If you’re not into being loud and taking part this is definitely not the show for you. On the other hand, if you want a wild night out with much laughter and excitement get yourself down to The Rocky Horror Show it won’t disappoint. For me spectacular is all I need to say. 

If you’re a complete beginner, then hold onto your seats for an extravagant rollercoaster ride of pure brilliance!

Pride and Prejudice (*sort of) Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 26th November 2022

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth

4****

The majority know of Pride and Prejudice or have at least heard of Jane Austen, well here comes a fantastically bold, humorous and bright spin on the original.

Get ready for a very similar storyline to the original Pride and Prejudice but with so much more fun and humour injected into it. Follow the journey, just like the classic English literature 1813 novel, of the Bennet sisters. The sisters are under pressure from their mother Mrs Bennet (Isobel McArthur), to find a suitable husband as soon as possible, in order to have someone male to receive the inheritance from Mr Bennet (the inheritance can only be passed to a male heir). Mrs Bennet lacks an inheritance so the family face becoming poor after Mr Bennet’s death.

The all-female casts take on all the roles, quite marvellously, right from Elizabeth (Leah Jamieson) through to Mr Darcy (McArthur) and Mr Bingley (Hannah Jarrett-Scott). The transition between characters is super smooth and impressive. The show starts out as five servants coming out of the shadows of Austen’s book to tell the tale, then the revolving door of changes and characters sets going…

This is not a musical as such, but has lots of music running through it and all the female cast are blessed with beautiful singing voices. Such a beautiful tone on Jamieson, even seen through some of the songs that she is clearly acting out in character rather than trying to impress. The songs are all recognisable big hits, some could say karaoke style, but such a welcome part of the show; which did need some breaking up at times, with it being a two-and-a-half hour performance. Maybe a few more songs would be welcomed!

The cast are all extremely talented, each bringing their own ingredients to an uplifting performance. Stand out funny with excellent comedic timing is Jarrett-Scott, she had the auditorium in stitches throughout, she has an excellent energy which transfers to every scene. Great timing again from Jamieson, dry and likeable. Also getting laughs was Tori Burgess, multiple great gags and moments.

The set and props are well thought out and really effective, keeping the audience interested and engaged. Hats off to lighting designer Colin Grenfell for such a great use of his tools. The lighting plays such a huge part in this show, sometimes transforming the set completely with just a drop of light or the addition of another.

Funny and light with some really lovable characters…what’s not to like?

Saturday Night Fever Review

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – until Saturday 26th November 2022

Reviewed by Emma Millward

4****

Saturday Night Fever boogied into Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre this week. Based on the storyline of the hit 1977 movie starring John Travolta, this jukebox musical features mostly songs written and performed by the Bee Gees. Directed by Bill Kenworthy, it tells the story of Tony Manero (Jack Wilcox), an Italian American man who lives in Brooklyn with his overbearing parents. His only break from reality is when he’s at the ‘2001 Odyssey’ discotheque, where he’s the king of the dance floor and admired by everyone.

As the curtain goes up, we are immediately immersed in the sights and sounds of New York, including the sound of the subway clattering in the distance. We get our first glimpse of Tony as he walks the famous strut through the streets from the original film’s opening scene, carrying paint cans back to the hardware store where he works. Jack Wilcox plays Tony with just the right amount of arrogant confidence and swagger necessary for such an iconic role. This was particularly evident in the approving whoops and wolf whistles from the audience during one particular scene when Tony is changing very slowly into the iconic white suit!

While he is dancing and romancing at the disco one Saturday night, Tony meets a talented dancer called Stephanie Mangano (played brilliantly by Rebekah Bryant). Unlike most of the other women at the disco, Stephanie rejects Tony’s sexual advances, but ultimately agrees to take part in an upcoming dance contest. Their rehearsals for the contest, including learning the dance routine to ‘More Than a Woman’, offer some comedic but also tender moments in the show.

The whole cast work well together as an ensemble. The two lead characters, of course, stand out. But other exceptional performances for me included Harry Goodson-Bevan as the doomed Bobby C, a man struggling with a major life decision for him and his pregnant Catholic girlfriend. His solo performance of the song ‘Tragedy’ was touching, but also had an unexpected nostalgic nod to the ‘Steps’ dance routine thrown in for good measure by choreographer Bill Deamer. Billie Hardy also shone as Annette, the smitten girl who is pushed aside by Tony, and ends up in the arms of his friends with disastrous results.

On stage throughout are talented musicians led by Musical Director Jeremy Wootton. Up in the rafters of the stage backdrop that doubles as the Brooklyn Bridge and the nightclub itself, they are joined by the show’s very own Bee Gees (Drew Gerry, Oliver Thomson, and AJ Jenks). All clad in shiny gold suits and Bee Gee appropriate wigs, they sing most of the songs in the show. Their vocals were pitch perfect, even on those well-known falsetto parts. 

Although the catchy songs and the energetic dance routines are all very ‘feel good’, there is no denying this is a very adult show. Misogyny, racism, drug abuse, sexual assault and suicide are all themes heavily featured in the show. The derogatory language and violence has been toned down from the original film, but there is still a lot of offensive language and a recommended audience age of 14 years or older. 

My only real criticism would be that the show seemed a bit rushed towards the end and the story seemed to finish rather abruptly. But the cast soon made up for this with an all-singing, all-dancing Bee Gees medley for an encore that got everyone up out of their seats dancing and singing along. Grab your tickets (and your dancing shoes) for the best disco in Brum this weekend!! 

INITIAL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SMASH-HIT PRODUCTION OF RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S OKLAHOMA!

★★★★★

“Punchy, playful and sexy, this Oklahoma! is an absolute knockout” The Telegraph

INITIAL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED

SMASH-HIT PRODUCTION OF RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S OKLAHOMA!

★★★★★

“Oklahoma! is stunningly reimagined” Financial Times

Eva PriceSonia Friedman Productions and Michael Harrison in association with the Young Vic Theatre today announce initial casting for the West End transfer of the critically acclaimed production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Reprising their roles from the run at the Young Vic are Raphael Bushay (Mike), Arthur Darvill (Curly McLain), James Patrick Davis (Will Parker), Stavros Demetraki (Ali Hakim), Greg Hicks (Andrew Carnes), Rebekah Hinds (Gertie Cummings), Anoushka Lucas (Laurey Williams), Marie-Astrid Mence (Lead Dancer), Liza Sadovy (Aunt Eller) and Patrick Vaill (Jud Fry), with full casting to be announced shortly. The production will open at Wyndham’s Theatre on 28 February 2023, with previews from 16 February, and run until 2 September 2023. The production is currently nominated for four Evening Standard Awards, including for Best Musical, Best Director and Best Musical Performance for Vaill.

The Producers have set aside a number of £10 tickets for Monday – Wednesday performances that are offered directly to those currently under-represented in West End theatre audiences. These are made available via an outreach programme run by Sita McIntosh of Inclusive Audiences – www.inclusiveaudiences.com.

Reimagined for the stage by Daniel Fish, the production played a sold-out run at the Young Vic earlier this year, having previously transferred to Broadway from St. Ann’s Warehouse winning the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

★★★★★

“Your heart will soar. Exceptional.” Metro

Eva Price, Sonia Friedman Productions, Michael Harrison

in association with the Young Vic Theatre

present

The Bard Summerscape production of

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s

OKLAHOMA!

Music by RICHARD RODGERS

Book and Lyrics by OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II

Based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs

Original Choreography by Agnes de Mille

Director: Daniel Fish; Orchestrations, Arrangements and Co-Music Supervision: Daniel Kluger; Choreographer: John Heginbotham; Scenic Designers: Lael Jellinek Grace Laubacher;

Costume Designer: Terese Wadden; Lighting Designer: Scott Zielinski; Sound Designer: Drew Levy;

Projection Designer: Joshua Thorson; Co-Music Supervision and Additional Vocal Arrangements: Nathan Koci

Forget what you think it is… this is Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! as you’ve never seen it before – re-orchestrated and reimagined for the 21st century. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, Daniel Fish’s bold interpretation recently enjoyed a sold-out run at the Young Vic following sold-out runs in New York and across the U.S. on tour.

Oklahoma! tells a story of a community banding together against an outsider, and the frontier life that shaped America. Eighty years after Rodgers & Hammerstein reinvented the American musical, this visionary production is funny and sexy, provocative and probing, without changing a word of the text.

Raphael Bushay plays Mike. His theatre work includes The Crucible (National Theatre), Red Riding Hood (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Tempest, Henry V (Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre), Don Quixote (Royal Shakespeare Company), As You Like It (The Lamb Players), Peter Pan, Henry V (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Queen of Chapletown (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox (UK / UAE tour, NST / Lyric Hammersmith / Leicester Curve), and Kampala (The Miniaturists / Arcola Theatre). For television, his work includes Holby City.

Arthur Darvill plays Curly McLain. His theatre work includes Rare Earth Mettle (Royal Court Theatre), Been So Long (Young Vic), The Antipodes, Treasure Island (National Theatre), Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse), Once (Broadway and West End), Genesis INC. (Hampstead Theatre), Hir (Bush Theatre), Elevenses/Beginning To End (Somerset House), Our Boys, Swimming With Sharks (West End), Marine Parade (Brighton Festival), Doctor Faustus (Shakespeare’s Globe), White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Gate Theatre), Is Everyone OK? (Nabokov), Stacey (Arcola Theatre), and Terre Haute (Edinburgh Fringe Festival/West End/tour). For television, his work includes GraceDC’s Legends of TomorrowWorld on FireDanny & the Human ZooBroadchurchDoctor WhoThe White QueenThe ParadiseLittle DorritHe Kills Coppers, and The Verdict; and for film, Fairytale Sect, Minutes Past Midnight, Robin Hood; Sex Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Pelican Blood.

James Patrick Davis plays Will Parker. His US theatre credits includeOklahoma! (Theatre World Award recipient for Breakthrough Performance on Broadway, also at St. Ann’s Warehouse and Bard Summerscape), The House of Blue Leaves (Broadway), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… (Soho Rep), The Mother of Invention (Abingdon), The More Loving One (La MaMa),  Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Richard IILong Day’s Journey into Night, As You Like It (Quintessence Theatre Group), Clybourne Park (Long Wharf Theatre), and American Buffalo (Studio Theatre). For television, his work includes Search Party.

Stavros Demetraki plays Ali Hakim. For theatre his work includesPeter Pan (Birmingham Rep), The Vote (Donmar Warehouse), Timon of Athens, Antigone, She Stoops To Conquer, The Kitchen (National Theatre), Adventures In Wonderland, Supermarket Shakespeare (Teatro Vivo), As You Like It (Dash Arts / Curve), Blood Wedding (Liverpool Everyman), By The Way (Chopped Logic), Gilgamesh (Belgrade Theatre / UK tour), and Birds Without Wings (Eastern Angles). For television, his work includes Miss Scarlett & The Duke, Doctor Who, Tyrant, and White Van Man; and for film, The Phantom Warrior, Hampstead, Risen, Dracula Untold, The Hope Rooms, Blush Furiously, and The Simple Equation.

Greg Hicks plays Andrew Carnes. His theatre work includes Dinner with Groucho (Civic Theatre Dublin, Belfast International Festival, Arcola Theatre)The Open House (Bath/Print Room), Richard III, The Kreutzer Sonata, Clarion (Arcola Theatre), Play Strindberg (Ustinov Studio), All’s Well That Ends WellHamlet, Little Eagles, Anthony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, A Winter’s Tale, King Lear (RSC), Angels in America (Headlong), Venice Preserved (Citizens), Coriolanus (The Old Vic – Critics’ Circle Award and Olivier nomination Best Actor). For television, his work includes  Domina, Citizen Charlie, Burton & Taylor, and The Bible; Midsomer Murders; and for film, The Mercy,and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Rebekah Hinds plays Gertie Cummings. Her theatre work includes Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder (Paines Plough’s Roundabout – Winner of Best Musical Edinburgh Fringe), What’s New Pussycat? (Birmingham Rep), Paradise (Hampstead Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Watford Palace), Grotty (The Bunker), Humble Boy (Orange Tree), Anita & Me (UK tour), The Government Inspector (Birmingham Rep/Ramps on the Moon UK Tour – Olivier Award Nominated), Billy Liar (Royal Exchange), Around the World (Sadler’s Wells & Mint Theater, New York), The Little Prince – Concert (Savoy), and Sondheim Prom (Royal Albert Hall). Hinds won the Audience Favourite Award in the Musical Comedy Awards 2019 as half of comedy duo Maris Piper. For television, her work includes Scarborough, Inside No. 9, The SyndicateTrollied, Shameless, Aunties, and Stains of Staines; and for film, Who Fired That Cannon?ShandylandThe Public Benefits, and Woman of the Night.

Anoushka Lucas plays Laurey Williams. Her theatre credits include Elephant (Bush Theatre – also playwright), Henry V (Donmar Warehouse), After Life (National Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Chiaroscuro (Bush Theatre), Faces in the Crowd (Gate Theatre), and Sparks (Edinburgh Fest / Vault Festival). For film, her work includes Murder on the Orient Express and Been So Long. Her recording work includes her debut album Dark Soul (debut album); and her composition includes Sparks (BBC Radio 4 / Edinburgh Festival / Vault Festival), The Ballad of Klook and Vinette (Park Theatre / NAMT Festival NYC), and The Etienne Sisters (Theatre Royal Stratford).

Marie-Astrid Mence is Lead Dancer. Her theatre work includes Then Or Now, Table Talk, The Waiting Game, Courage, Like Water, Click, Pendulum, Captured, Washa, Ingoma, House Of Dream, The Suit, Red Riding Hood, Storyville, A Dream Within A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dépouillement, Tearfall, Melt, Mapping, Until Without Enough, Undivided Love. For television, her work includes Find me in Paris, L’Opera, and Spellbound.

Liza Sadovy plays Aunt Eller. Her theatre credits include Cabaret (KitKatClub at The Playhouse Theatre – Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical), Living Newspaper, A Separate Reality (Royal Court), Present Laughter (The Old Vic), I’m Not Running, Absolute Hell, Tales from the Vienna Woods, The Heiress (National Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatre), Pygmalion (Headlong), Wicked (Victoria Apollo), Oliver! (Sheffield Crucible), Mrs Klein (Northampton Theatre Royal – winner of TMA Best Supporting Actress), La Bête (Comedy Theatre and Music Box Theatre New York), Annie Get Your Gun, The Good Soul of Szechuan, Six Characters Looking for an Author (Young Vic), Sunday in the Park with George (West End and Menier Chocolate Factory), Secret Rapture (Bristol Old Vic), Richard II (Berkoff Productions), The Dresser and the UK première of Into The Woods (West End), Alice (RSC), The Slow Drag (Whitehall Theatre), Broken Glass (Manchester Library Theatre), Company (Donmar Warehouse and West End), and Sugar Hill Blues (Hampstead Theatre). For television, her work includes A Small Light, Outlander, Ridley Road, Vera, Babylon, The Honorable Woman, Emma, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Extras, Prime Suspect, Tonight at 8:30, Castles,and I Remember Nelson; and for film, Kativta & Teresa, Disobedience, The Knot, Sweeney Todd, Topsy-Turvy, and Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire.

Patrick Vaill plays Jud Fry – reprising the role he has played in Daniel Fish’s production since its conception. He is currently nominated for Best Musical Performance at this year’s Evening Standard Awards. His US theatre credits include I’m Revolting (Atlantic Theatre Company), Oklahoma! (Broadway, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Bard SummerScape – Drama Desk and Grammy Award Nominations), Macbeth (Lincoln Center Theatre), Peter Pan (Bedlam), Cabaret (national tour, Roundabout Theatre Company), Edward II (Red Bull), Camelot, Othello, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, Henry V, Richard II, As You Like It, Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Shakespeare Theatre Company, DC), and also work with Bay Street Theatre, Capital Rep, amongst others. For television, his work includes Dash & Lily; and for film, Bleecker, Xmas In July, and short films The Lovers and Research.

After long and highly distinguished careers with other collaborators, Richard Rodgers (composer, 1902-79) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist, 1895-1960) joined forces in 1943 to create the most successful partnership in American Musical Theater. Prior to joining forces, Rodgers collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart on musical comedies that epitomized wit and sophistication (Pal Joey, On Your Toes, Babes in Arms and more), while Hammerstein brought new life to operetta and created the classic, Show Boat, with Jerome Kern. Oklahoma!, the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, introduced an integrated form that became known as “the musical play.” Their shows that followed included Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. Collectively, the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals have earned Tony, Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Pulitzer and Olivier Awards. The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization is a Concord Company.

Daniel Fish is a New York-based director who makes work across the boundaries of theatre, film, and opera. He draws on a broad range of forms and subject matter including plays, film scripts, contemporary fiction, essays and found audio. His 2019 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! transferred to Broadway from St. Ann’s Warehouse and won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Other recent work includes White Noise, inspired by the novel by Don DeLillo (Ruhrfestspiele Recklingshausen, Theater Freiburg, Skirball NYU), Most Happy, based on Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” (Williamstown Theater Festival), Michael Gordon’s opera, Acquanetta (Prototype Festival/Bard SummerScape), Don’t Look Back (The Chocolate Factory), Who Left This Fork Here (Baryshnikov Arts Center, Onassis Center), Ted Hearne’s The Source (BAM NEXT WAVE, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera), and Eternal, a video installation. His work has been seen at theatres and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe including, The Walker Arts Center, PuSH, Teatro Nacional D. Maria, Lisbon/Estoril Film Festival, Vooruit, Festival TransAmériques, Noorderzon Festival, The Chocolate Factory, The Public Theater’s Under The Radar, Opera Philadelphia/Curtis Opera Theater, American Repertory Theater, Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College, Yale Repertory Theater, McCarter Theater, Signature Theater, The Shakespeare Theater Company, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Staatstheater Braunschweig, and The Royal Shakespeare Company. Residencies and commissions include The MacDowell Colony, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Mass MOCA, and LMCC/ Governor’s Island. In December 2022, he will première a new production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide for Opera National de Lyon. He is graduate of Northwestern University’s Department of Performance Studies and has taught at The Juilliard School, Bard College, and The Department of Design for Stage and Film at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  He is the recipient of the 2017 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for the Theater.

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#OklahomaMusical

OKLAHOMA! 

LISTINGS:

Wyndham’s Theatre

Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA

Box Office: 0344 482 5151 / www.OklahomaWestEnd.com

Groups booking: 0344 482 5100

Access booking: 0344 482 5137

Tickets from £10

West End Temptations announced for AIN’T TOO PROUD – The Life and Times of The Temptations at the Prince Edward Theatre

WEST END TEMPTATIONS

ANNOUNCED FOR THE

TONY AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY MUSICAL

AT THE

PRINCE EDWARD THEATRE

FROM 31 MARCH 2023

The producers of the smash hit Tony Award-winning Broadway musical AIN’T TOO PROUD are thrilled to announce the West End quintet taking on the iconic roles of The Temptations at the Prince Edward Theatre from Friday 31 March 2023.


Cameron Bernard Jones as Melvin Franklin, Kyle Cox as Paul Williams, Sifiso Mazibuko as Otis Williams, Tosh Wanogho-Maud as David Ruffin and Mitchell Zhangazha as Eddie Kendricks will bring the incredible true story of the greatest R&B group of all time to London.
Further casting to be announced. ainttooproudmusical.co.uk 


Cameron Bernard Jones’ theatre credits include Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City, the titular role in The Wiz at the Hope Mill Theatre, South Pacific at the Chichester Festival Theatre and Tina The Musical and Motown The Musical both in the West End, the latter in which he also played the role of Melvin Franklin.


Kyle Cox currently stars in Elf at the Dominion Theatre. His additional theatre credits include the role of Wyatt in Crazy For You at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and a workshop production of Halls: The Musical at the Turbine Theatre.


Sifiso Mazibuko’s theatre credits include the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre, as well as Malindadzimu at the Hampstead Theatre and Motown The Musical in the West End.


Tosh Wanogho-Maud’s theatre credits include the role of Ben E King/ Rudy Lewis in The Drifter’s Girl at the Garrick Theatre, Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, Joe in Show Boat at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Mutumbo in The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Young Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre and Winston in Whistle Down the Wind at the Aldwych Theatre.


Mitchell Zhangazha’s most recently appears in Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. His other theatre credits include Dear Evan Hansen at the Noel Coward Theatre, for which he won the Black British Theatre Award 2022 for Best Understudy/Swing in a Theatre Production, Back to the Future at the Manchester Opera House, Motown The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre, The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, Caroline or Change at the National Theatre, Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre, Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Young Michael Jackson in Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre and on tour.

AIN’T TOO PROUD – The Life and Times of The Temptations, which won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography, is the electrifying new musical that follows the remarkable journey of the group from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. The rest is history – how they met, how they rose, the ground-breaking heights they hit, and how personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart as the United States fell into civil unrest. This thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty and betrayal is set to the beat of the group’s Grammy Award-winning music including the hits My Girl, Just My Imagination, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone and so many more.

AIN’T TOO PROUD has a book by Kennedy Prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau and reunites two-time Tony Award winning director Des McAnuff with Tony and Olivier Award winning choreographer Sergio Trujilio, whose previous collaborations include the Tony Award winning hit show Jersey Boys. It has Scenic Design by Tony Award nominee Robert Brill with Costume Design by Tony Award winner Paul Tazewell. Tony Award winning Lighting Designer Howell Binkley and Tony Award winning Sound Designer Steve Canyon Kennedy unite once again following their success working together on Jersey Boys. Projection Design is by Drama Desk Award winner Peter Nigrini, Hair and Wig Design by Charles G. LaPointe. Music Supervision and Arrangements are by Kenny Seymour, Orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner Harold Wheeler and Music Direction by Matt Smith

The Temptations are often referred to as American Music Royalty, with an expansive catalogue of hit songs and an ongoing prolific six-decade career. Ranked Number One in Billboard Magazine’s recent list of ‘Greatest R&B/Hip Hop Artists of All Time’, the group were also named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’.  “My Girl,” released in December 1964, was The Temptations’ first #1 charted record and sold multi-millions of copies. “My Girl” was inducted into The Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and in 2018 it was entered into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. It has become a standard now. The Temptations have over 50 gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards all combined, and also have been awarded five Grammy® Awards, including the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy® Award. They won Motown’s, and their first ever GRAMMY in 1969 for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance by a Duo or Group for their song “Cloud Nine.” In 1989 The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their songs “Just My Imagination”, “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone” and “My Girl” are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s ‘500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.’ In 1994 The Temptations were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California and in 2019 a star on the Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame in Harlem, New York City. Still helmed by founding member, Otis Williams, The Temptations celebrate their 60th Anniversary with a brand-new album, Temptations 60, available now.


AIN’T TOO PROUD is produced in the West End by Ira Pittelman, Tom Hulce, Stephen Gabriel and Jamie Wilson.

ORE ODUBA IS TO RETURN AS BRAD MAJORS TO CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW FOR A LIMITED SIX WEEK RUN AT LONDON’S PEACOCK THEATRE

TO CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE

ROCKY HORROR SHOW

ORE ODUBA IS TO RETURN AS BRAD MAJORS FOR A LIMITED SIX WEEK RUN AT LONDON’S PEACOCK THEATRE

AS THE LEGENDARY MUSICAL CONTINUES

TO THRILL AUDIENCES ACROSS THE UK

3rd MAY UNTIL 10TH JUNE 2023

“Oduba is masterful as the out-of-depth Brad” Birmingham Mail

“Ore Oduba is engaging, sharp, witty and can sing and dance

with the ease of the greats” ManchesterTheatres.com

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

FROM ROCKYHORROR.CO.UK

Actor, presenter and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Ore Oduba is to don his fishnets once again as he returns to the role of Brad Majors in this special 50th Anniversary production of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show for a limited six week run at the Peacock Theatre, London. Ore who received rave reviews and delighted audiences up and down the country during the 2021 UK tour, will thrill London audiences once again from 3rd May until 10th June 2023. Tickets are on sale now from RockyHorror.co.uk.

Ore Oduba said: “I can’t wait to reunite with my Rocky family, reprising my role as Brad Majors. There is just nothing quite like the Rocky Horror Show. I had the most incredible time touring the country last year, so to slip on the heels and zip up my corset again on the 50th anniversary of this iconic show will be so special. I can’t’ wait to Time Warp again with London audiences at the Peacock Theatre next year, it’s going to be epic!”

Producer Howard Panter said: “Rocky Horror has always been a show I loved, since its earliest days in the Kings Road. Richard O’Brien and I are delighted this non-stop party continues to thrill audiences across the world, and we look forward to the next 50 years!”

Since it first opened in London in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is the longest continuous run of a musical anywhere in the world and has become the world’s favourite Rock ‘N’ Roll musical, having been performed worldwide over 50 years in more than 30 countries and translated into 20 languages.

This musical extravaganza continues to play to packed houses as it tours the length and breadth of the UK until 2023 with a stellar cast that is showing no signs of slowing down! Theatre is in full throttle and this extraordinary cast is ready to deliver a guaranteed party not to be missed.

Already wowing Rocky Horror audiences up and down the country, West End star Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys/Legally Blonde) continues in the iconic role of Frank, slipping into a corset and heels with ease and is joined by fan favourite Haley Flaherty (Mamma Mia/Chicago) as Janet.

Kristian Lavercombe (Jersey Boys/Jesus Christ Superstar) once again reprises his role as Riff Raff, follow-ing more than 2000 performances around the world, with Darcy Finden who made her professional debut last year as one of the Phantoms now steps up to play the role of as Columbia. Ben Westhead (Oliver/The Sound of Music) plays Rocky, Suzie McAdams (School of Rock/Kinky Boots) takes on the role of Magenta and Joe Allen (Little Shop of Horrors/Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) plays Eddie & Dr Scott. Playing the Phantoms are Stefania Du Toit (Starlight Express/Singing in the Rain), Jessica Sole (Into The Woods/Camelot), Reece Budin (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical/Man of La Mancha) and Fionán O’Carroll (Theatre whilst training: Urinetown/Children of Eden) who is making his professional debut. Nathan Shaw (Walk Like A Man) is Male Swing and Tyla Nurden (Funny Girl/Carrie, The Musical) is Female Swing.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash hit show features all of the famous musical numbers which have made The Rocky Horror Show such a huge hit for over four decades, including “Sweet Trans-vestite”, “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, “Dammit Janet” and, of course, the timeless floor-filler, “The Time-Warp” – this is perfect show to help people forget the doom and gloom of recent months.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their favourite college professor. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation – meaning, of course, getting dressed-up in the most outrageous fancy dress.

The Rocky Horror Show first began life in 1973 before an audience of just 63 people in the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs. It was an immediate success and transferred to the Chelsea Classic Cinema, before going on to run at the Kings Road Theatre, 1973-79 and the Comedy Theatre in the West End, 1979-80. In 1975 it was transformed into a film called ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. This film adaptation took over $135 million at the Box Office and is still shown in cinemas around the world more than 40 years after its premiere, making it the longest running theatrical release in cinema history. Many stars including Russell Crowe, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Jerry Springer, Jason Donovan and Meatloaf have appeared in The Rocky Horror Show over the past 45 years.

In 2015, as part of a sold-out season at London’s Playhouse Theatre, a special star-studded Gala charity performance in aid of Amnesty International was broadcast to over 600 cinemas across the UK and Europe. The live screening – featuring a host of celebrities playing The Narrator including Stephen Fry, Mel Giedroyc, Emma Bunton, Ade Edmondson, Anthony Head and Richard O’Brien – smashed box office records and was the biggest grossing film in cinemas across the UK. The performance was subsequently screened on the Sky Arts channel.

Ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, The Rocky Horror Show is the boldest bash of them all. But be warned, this show has rude parts!

What the press have said about The Rocky Horror Show:

“Panto for grown-ups – colourful, in your face, relentlessly energetic and high on audience participa-tion” – The Times

“Hard to think of another musical quite as unique as this. Christopher Luscombe’s affectionate production feels like a genuine blast from the past” – Mail on Sunday

“As delightfully naughty as ever!” – Daily Telegraph

“So fast, so funny, so sexy” – Daily Mail

“Still the sexiest and funniest show in town” – Evening Standard

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Ticket prices: From £10 Website: www.rockyhorror.co.uk

Twitter: @rockyhorroruk

Instagram: @rockyhorrorofficial

Facebook: /rockyhorrorshow

NEW MUSICAL ‘BERLUSCONI’ TO PREMIERE AT SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE ELEPHANT

  • FRANCESCA MOODY PRODUCTIONS AND WISHFUL THINKING MUSICALS PRESENT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF NEW MUSICAL BERLUSCONI DIRECTED BY JAMES GRIEVE, CHOREOGRAPHED BY REBECCA HOWELL AND DESIGNED BY LUCY OSBORNE.
  • RUNNING AT SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE ELEPHANT FROM 25 MARCH – 29 APRIL 2023 WITH A BOOK, MUSIC AND LYRICS BY RICKY SIMMONDS AND SIMON VAUGHAN, THIS IS A MODERN-DAY CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT AN ALL TOO FAMILIAR BRAND OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.
  • TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW AT WWW.SOUTHWARKPLAYHOUSE.CO.UK

“I am the Jesus Christ of politics”

Francesca Moody Productions (Fleabag, Baby Reindeer) and Wishful Thinking Musicals are delighted to announce the world premiere of BERLUSCONI – a naughty, noisy exposé of the original perma-tanned media mogul turned populist politician, told through the eyes of three formidable women ready to share their side of the story and break the veneer of that million Lira smile.

BERLUSCONI is an urgent and prescient story about a brand of political leadership that has become all too familiar. With soaring melodies and driving beats, this hilarious and outrageous new musical assembles an award-winning team to tell the astonishing, outlandish, almost true story of one of the world’s most charismatic, charming and morally dubious political leaders.  

As Silvio tries to enshrine his legacy by grandiosely writing the opera of his life, his detractors are closing in…

Producer Francesca Moody said: “I am thrilled to be presenting this extraordinary and incredibly funny new musical with an award-winning team of the most exciting roll-call of creatives. Berlusconi is an all too familiar story of outrageous corruption and grotesque male privilege allowed to run riot, indeed seemingly run a country. It’s a musical which places a fierce feminist lens on a political leader who was known for his charming misogyny and spotlights the human cost of his time in office. Berlusconi upended Italian politics and it could not feel timelier, or more appropriate to be exploring this outrageous and almost true story with riotous comedy and sensational songs.

Director James Grieve said: “The chance to make and premiere a brand new British musical is a rare and brilliant thing. Ricky and Simon have written an incandescent, uproarious, strikingly apposite show that melds sabre sharp lyrics with a technicolour head rush of a score. It is a witty, incisive, affecting, hugely entertaining work of dazzling originality and élan. I feel immensely privileged and excited to bring it to the stage alongside a visionary producer and outstanding creative team.”

Written by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan, this modern-day cautionary tale is produced by Francesca Moody (Fleabag) and directed by James Grieve (Fisherman’s Friends). The musical will be choreographed by Rebecca Howell (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾) with Set and Costume by Lucy Osborne (The Famous Five), David White (Les Misérables) as Executive Musical Supervisor, Jordan Li Smith (City of Angels) as Musical Supervisor & Musical Director, Dan Samson (Heathers) as Sound Designer and Casting by Will Burton CDG. Associate produced by Alex Cook and Alan Hayling, based on an original idea by Alan Hayling.

Jersey Boys Review

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – until 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Julia Spargo

3.5***

It must be very difficult to create a musical from a true story, not least the story of four people who all have very different takes on their collective history, but that is exactly what Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have done here, to great effect.

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their creation to their eventual disintegration, told Rashomon-style by each of the four band members in turn.

Tommy DeVito started a band in the early 1950s with his brother Nick DeVito and friend Nick Massi, known as The Variety Trio. Tommy then discovered a very young Francesco “Frankie” Castelluccio before Joe Pesci, a friend of Tommy’s, introduces the band to singer-songwriter Bob Gaudio, who changes the fortunes of the group by coming up with a series of hits which are featured in this jukebox musical.

The production opens with a performance of “Ces soirées-là” a 2000 French song which sampled “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)”, the 1976 Four Seasons hit. Tommy DeVito (played by Dalton Wood) arrives on stage and introduces himself. There follows a frenetic ten minutes of narration and movement on stage as the group’s creation and subsequent various guises are rushed through. Tommy DeVito goes in and out of prison, Frankie (Ryan Heenan) changes his name to Valli and meets and marries Mary Delgado (played with spark by Emma Crossley) and the band changes both name and sound without success until Joe Pesci (excellently played by newcomer George Salmon) introduces Bob Gaudio (Blair Gibson) to the group.

This section feels rushed and I struggled to keep up with the story. It could have been condensed and the narration slowed, since a lot was lost with the chaotic movement on stage. I’m also not sure what the first song added to the story, except to show that their songs were still relevant decades later, but the subsequent ninety minutes of hit-after-recognisable-hit does exactly that.

The introduction of the brilliant Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio, both to the band and as narrator, changes the pace of the musical and allows for more coherent storytelling. Bob guides us through the early years of the group’s struggle for success as they get a contract with producer Bob Crewe (Michael Levi), change their name to The Four Seasons and Bob starts churning out hits such as “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. An entertaining scene where Bob loses his virginity (offstage) to the backing of “December, 1963 (Oh what a night)” takes us towards the conclusion of the first act, when the band is accosted by a loan shark claiming Tommy owes him $150,000.

The second act, narrated first by Nick Massi (Christopher Short) and subsequently Frankie, takes the audience through the band’s inevitable disintegration as they navigate divorce, a weekend in jail, debt, jealousy, betrayal, mob involvement, Nick leaving the group and the death of Frankie’s daughter from a drug overdose. These dramatic twists and turns make for a very entertaining musical featuring a slew of recognisable hits that visibly lifted the audience right through to the end. I didn’t stop smiling throughout.