Danny Mac and Carley Stenson to Star in SLEEPLESS the Musical





Fresh from the Final of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Danny Mac and West End leading lady Carley Stenson, will be playing the roles of Sam and Annie in the world premiere of SLEEPLESS the Musical based on the Tristar Pictures Inc. film Sleepless in Seattle. The new musical has a book by Michael Burdett, music by Robert Scott and lyrics by Brendan Cull.

The production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 1 to 15 April, followed by a week at The Lowry, Salford from 25 to 29 April, and finishing at Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin from 2 to 13 May, prior to a West End run.

SLEEPLESS is the enchanting new romantic musical comedy based on the original story and screenplay of the movie classic Sleepless In Seattle. Like the much loved movie, SLEEPLESS tells the heart-warming tale of Sam, who moves to Seattle with his eight year-old son, Jonah, following the tragic death of his wife. When Jonah phones a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he suddenly finds himself one of the most sought after single men in America and a great news story for feisty journalist Annie on the opposite side of the country. A fresh and lively book alongside a brand-new musical score bring this most timeless of romantic comedies to life on stage.

danny-mac-and-carley-stenson-photo-credit-dewynters-matt-crockettDanny Mac is best known for playing the role of Mark ‘Dodger’ Savage in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks. He was given his first professional role as Gavroche in Cameron Mackintosh’s touring production of Les Misérables, a role he reprised in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre in 1999. After graduating from drama school, he went straight into Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. Most recently, he played Warner in Legally Blonde at the Leicester Curve.

Carley Stenson played the role of Steph Cunningham in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks for 10 years. West End credits include starring as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical and Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. Carley also starred as Christine Colgate in the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Danny Mac and Carley Stenson are joined by Jennie Dale as Becky and Cory English as Rob. Jennie’s most recent theatre credits include Maggie Jones in 42nd Street (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris) Deb in Elf (Dominion Theatre), Dora in Singin’ in the Rain (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris) and Mae inThe Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre). On television, Jennie has appeared in The Tracey Ullman Show and Victoria Wood’s Mid-life Christmas and What Larks. Cory English can currently be seen inShe Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory. His many previous musical theatre credits include Max Bialystock in the UK Tour of The Producers, Igor in Young Frankenstein and Max Bialystock inThe Producers, both for Susan Stroman on Broadway, and Benny Southstreet in Michael Grandage’s West End production of Guys & Dolls.

Further casting to be announced.

SLEEPLESS will be directed by Morgan Young (Elf, White Christmas, Big), with set design by Morgan Large, costume design by Sue Simmerling, lighting by Tim Lutkin, video design by Ian William Galloway, sound design by Avgoustos Psillas and Terry Jardine for Autograph, orchestrations and musical supervision by Larry Blank, wig and hair design by Richard Mawbey and casting by Sarah Bird CDG.

The world premiere of SLEEPLESS is a Theatre Royal Plymouth production presented by Michael Rose and David Shor, in association with Marc Toberoff and the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin.

For further details, please visit www.sleeplessthemusical.com.


1-15 April 2017:

Theatre Royal Plymouth

Royal Parade
Plymouth PL1 2TR

Box Office: 01752 267222




25-29 April 2017:

The Lowry

Pier 8

Salford Quays

Greater Manchester

M50 3AZ

Box Office: 0843 208 6000




2-13 May 2017:

Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Grand Canal Square


Dublin 2

Box Office:  ROI: 0818 719 377 / UK & NI: 0844 847 2455


Anything Goes Review

Upstairs at The Gatehouse 14 December – 29 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Cole Porter’s great musical comes to Highgate for the Christmas season. A sunny transatlantic crossing may not seem like obvious festive material, but this is sheer joyous escapism at its best.

The plot is nonsensical, full of cheesy lines, idiotic coincidences and lunatic about faces – but logic is thrown overboard in the face of such fantastic entertainment, and the laughs come thick and fast. Director John Plews has used the 1962 Broadway revival script, and the traverse staging, with the audience seeming to be watching from a perch on the ship’s rails lends a sense of complicity to the farcical events onstage.

Billy Crocker stows away on the SS American when he discovers that the love of his life is also on board, sailing to England with her fiancé to get married. With the help of nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, Public Enemy no. 13, Moonface Martin – masquerading as a priest – and his moll Bonnie, Billy dons various disguises to continue wooing his love.

Jack McCann’s Billy begins a little smugly, but as his romance with Hope (a very sweet Samantha Dorsey) develops, the charm shines through. Taryn Erickson storms the stage as Reno, with a voice and dance skills that mark her out for a great future. Jack Keane is hysterical as Sir Evelyn – a true Wodehouse fop – making you giggle with anticipation of more buffoonery just by coming on stage. David Pendlebury and Chloe Adele Edwards are true caricatures as Moonface and Bonnie – chewing the scenery and providing lots of laughs.

The show is all about the music – from the moment the fantastic band (perched at the stern of the ship, so sometimes drowning out the male singers’ middle register for audience members nearby) struck up Porter’s overture, every foot in the room was tapping. With numbers like I Get A Kick Out Of You, Anything Goes, You’re The Top, It’s De-Lovely, Blow Gabriel Blow, Friendship and so many more, all sung with skill and gusto, this production really delivers. Chris Whittaker’s choreography is witty and energetic, making the most of the traverse staging, although I would get a little nervous in the front row with some of the high kicking.

This is one of those productions that you want to go back and see again – gorgeous, frivolous and stylish entertainment that never dates performed with panache. The perfect night out for anyone going through Strictly withdrawal.

A Christmas Carol Review

Above The Arts 12 – 31 December.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Combining two of my favourite things – theatre and food – Flanagan Collectives’ A Christmas Carol is fantastic festive fun.

Above the Arts becomes Scrooge’s parlour – bookcases and fireplace facing the debtor’s wall – full of double entendre names and the amounts owed. In the middle of the room is a huge banquet table – but don’t panic if you don’t get a seat there straight away – benches are pulled out to seat everyone during the meal.

Jacob Marley (Jack Whitam) sets everything up by telling the audience that we are all spirits and must help Scrooge change. Lots of Christmas spirit was flowing from the bar, so we were all up for that. After a chance to throw a few Bah Humbugs around about the Cratchett’s and charity, Scrooge (Al Barclay) is taken back to Christmas past – memories of his childhood chase all joviality away and the actors’ delivery creates a truly haunting atmosphere.

Christmas present is represented by the delicious two-course meal, provided by Danny Jack’s Humble Kitchen. The audience take their seats around the table, and, if they don’t all fit, the “naughty table” is pulled out for the extra guests. That’s where we sat, slightly missing out on the community atmosphere of the main table, but having personal service from the cast, and acting like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show. As you eat, Marley acts the attentive host, sharing banter with the audience, while Scrooge grills you about what Christmas means to you. There is a singalong, jokes and party games but, of course, there is Christmas yet to come to experience. This is a huge and sudden shift in tone, bringing the night back to the source text rather spookily.

Whitam and Barclay are fantastic performers, bouncing off the audience brilliantly and keeping in character throughout. Whitam was reminiscent of Lord Percy’s sensible brother and Barclay was a more animated Lurch – in the best way possible.

A Christmas Carol is the perfect Christmas night out – a classic tale told with affection and energy, full of laughter and warmth. You’ll leave with a full belly and a heart brimming over with Christmas cheer.

The Snow Queen Review

Theatre N16 11 – 22 December,  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Tatty Hennessy’s adaptation of The Snow Queen is a magical family show, relying on wonderful story telling and quiet moments of wonder rather than in your face pantomime shenanigans.

Greta’s (Jessica Arden) brother Kay (James Tobin) has changed, they are arguing all the time, and so are their parents. Greta stays in the attic, full of familiar things where she feels safe, until a stuffed crow begins to speak to her. He tells her about the Snow Queen, who steals children and replaces them with nasty copies. Greta and the crow set off to find the Snow Queen’s castle and rescue Kay.

The attic set is simple, cardboard boxes contain story props, and dust sheet covered furniture is used to create a plane, sleigh and even a polar bear. Jessica Strawson narrates the tale, describing what Greta sees with perfectly targeted language – when you tell a child that the sky “looked like the stars were having a disco”, that will instantly spark their imagination. The show took me back to my childhood, having the feel of the best Jackanory episodes – all that was missing was Bernard Cribbins. Trusting a young audience to stay with a story told simply, without many bells and whistles, is a brave thing – especially during panto season – but Hennessy’s writing is pitched perfectly, delivering its message without being patronising.

The cast do a fine job. Arden keeps Greta childlike without being annoying, and her interactions with Crow are authentic playground language and emotion. Tobin handles the Crow puppet brilliantly, delivering way more bird jokes than the world needs and managing to convey emotion with just a twitch of Crow’s head. I never thought I could feel affection for a puppet that resembles a pygmy Skeksis, but that’s the magic of this show. Strawson is an excellent narrator, never talking down to the audience, and injecting a tone of wonder in her voice at just the right moments. She also plays the characters Greta meets on her quest, showcasing her range of accents.

Tatty Hennessy has streamlined the original story, and focuses on the message that changes in life can be scary, but we must take the risk and move forward to find happiness. This is something the children will have heard in many school assemblies, but never presented as imaginatively as this.

The Snow Queen is one of the best children’s shows I’ve seen – intelligent, imaginative and spellbinding. Take your children to see this. Or just go and treat your inner child.


Theatre N16 11 – 22 December.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Christmas by Simon Stephens is as festive as a bowl of cold sprouts. The bleak and lonely reality of Christmas for so many people is portrayed with dark humour and authenticity.

Set in an instantly recognisable dingy pub, the regulars – all two of them – chat with the landlord. A postman comes in for a drink too. That’s about it as far as the action goes. Stephens squeezes every bit of angst possible out of the characters – never losing the naturalistic flow of the conversation and scattering instances of deep thought amongst the inanity, just as real drinkers do.

The dire financial situation of barman Michael, barber Guiseppe and hodcarrier Billy weigh them down, as they muse about community, tradition, family and home. Guiseppe (Alec Gray) is the most effusive and repetitive story teller, as befits his age and nationality – and Gray evokes the grief and loneliness of the widower magnificently. Jack Bence is full of twitches and ticks as the heavy drinking, emotionally damaged Billy – punctuating every sentence with foul language, but still emanating a childlike quality. Brendan Weakliam’s forlorn Michael keeps an eye on proceedings, while Christopher Sherwood as Charlie stirs up trouble with his bitter questions, delivered with mocking smiles. Comic relief is provided by Tom Telford as various customers, none of whom stay long under the hostile glares of the regulars.

Directors Jamie Eastlake and Sarah Chapleo don’t rush the pace. Long moments of awkward silence add to the sense of isolation and hopelessness. There are glimmers of light where characters could make a change in their lives, but you just know that they’ll be back in their safe haven next week. Relevant and hard hitting, Christmas is well worth seeing – if only to remind you that spending Christmas with your family isn’t as bad as it seems.

Stellar cast announced for bold adaption of La Ronde | The Bunker | Feb – Mar 2017

La Ronde

A Collaborative Artists production in association with Heretic Production

The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU

Saturday 11th February 2017 – Saturday 11th March 2017 

Collaborative Artists return for 2017 with a bold reimagining of Arthur Schnitzler’s infamous classic La Ronde in a new adaption by Max Gill. La Ronde embraces life’s game of chance and the blindness of desire and fortune as fate decides the cast’s roles every night and throughout the play. Four actors play the cast of ten – no night or scene will be the same. With over three thousand different versions of the show, what will your story be?

Featuring a stellar cast, Lauren Samuels (Vanities: The Musical, Trafalgar Studios; Bend it Like Beckham, Grease) steps outside the realm of musical theatre for this daring production, and will play alongside BBC’s Versailles star Alex Vlahos (Fortune’s Fool, Old Vic; Emperor and Galilean, National Theatre), Leemore Marrett Jr (Chariots of Fire, Hampstead Theatre; Tide, Arcola; Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), and Amanda Wilkin (Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe and International Tour; Arabian Nights, Watermill Theatre).

South London, 2017. The disparate lives of the city’s inhabitants are thrown together by the caprice of desire and fate. La Ronde distils the beating heart of London’s sexuality with verbatim testimonies from real life prostitutes, lovers, adulterers. Where there is desire, there is power; lust and the search for love bind us all.

Schnitzler’s La Ronde was written at a time when sex was regarded as sinful and reprehensible. Director Max Gill re-works this controversial 1897 classic into a gender-neutral adaptation that interrogates modern attitudes to gender, sexuality, and social status.

Max Gill comments, La Ronde in all its incarnations has always been a mirror to society’s sexual appetites and anxieties. Since it was first conceived, the rabbit-hole of desire has only deepened; the opportunity to explore how our sexuality creates us, how choice controls us, how desire defines us, has never been more exciting than today.

La Ronde opens Season Two at The Bunker – an exciting new venue in London Bridge. It is preceded by three nights of Phosphorous Theatre presenting Dear Home Office, a project developed with eight young male refugees living in London.

La Ronde Performance Dates

Saturday 11th February 2017 – Saturday 11th March 2017

Tuesday – Sunday, 7:30pm

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 3pm

No performance on 14th February

Running time 1 hour 15 minutes

Website www.collaborativeartists.co.uk

Twitter @BunkerTheatreUK, @collaboartists, @Larondelondon

Joel Dommett at The Grand



Fresh from his hugely memorable performance on 2016’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Joel Dommett is set to return to the road with his solo show, Joel Dommett: LIVE.


Catch the star of Sky1’s Bring The Noise at Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 30th April 2017.


Tickets go on sale to Priority Members on Monday 19th December (become a member for £10) and on general sale on Wednesday 21st December.

Tickets are priced at £22 available from leedsgrandtheatre.com or 0844 848 2400

Ferris & Milnes – Christmas Cracker Review

Ambassadors Theatre 13 December.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Ferris & Milnes’ West End debut – sadly just a one-off performance – should be available on the NHS as a cure for the Winter blues. Full of festive magic and performed with warmth and wit, Christmas Cracker is a perfect Christmas show.

Jam-packed with great numbers from a wide range of genres – Martin Milnes archly states that Dominic Ferris has a modern theatre and pop background, while he works with classical music and legitimate theatre! – the show has something for everyone.

The first act takes place in Martin’s living room, where the Steinway grand piano he just happens to be “piano sitting” comes in very handy for rehearsing their Christmas concert. This act has the feel of a classic 70s sitcom (in all the best ways), with Dominic’s calm manipulation of Martin to open his mind to new performance ideas creating some hysterical moments. The young performers of the Arts Ed choir seem to revel in their stereotype characters, and bounce off Ferris and Milnes deliciously, especially when being berated for rapping by Milnes – “You should be listening to Ivor Novello!” There’s also a (very weird) love triangle.

Act two is the actual concert – slick and stunning, with less comedy shtick and more musical numbers.

Dominic Ferris is a sublime pianist, with a lovely versatile voice. Martin Milnes is a vocal gymnast – switching between tenor and Mariah Careyesque high notes with consummate ease. Their voices blend beautifully and they perform together with intuition and infectious joy.

The set list reads like a whirlwind romp through the best of musical theatre. Decomposing Composers / By Strauss is a charming rollcall of Milnes’ favourites, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off perfectly sums up their differences, and many other delightful duets. The solo performances are exquisite – each man showcasing his own style and performed with passion and integrity. Milnes’ Italian Street Song and You Could Drive Me Crazy are a masterclass of vocal range and physical comedy, and he demonstrates his versatility with his heartfelt What Kind of Fool Am I?

Ferris’ versions of If I can Dream and Daniel are gorgeously husky, and his piano solos just carry you away on a wave of energy and rhythm.

The choral pieces are simply stunning – with the choir giving their all in Carol of the Bells, Sir Christimas and O Holy Night. The show builds up into a full Christmas frenzy that would make Scrooge jump on stage to join in – it’s like being enveloped in a giant Christmas jumper and offered a bottomless glass of eggnog – all that was missing was snow. Glorious entertainment – I just wish they had more performances – I could watch this show on loop.

Annie Get Your Gun Review

What a pleasure it was to travel to Sheffield Crucible to see this new, 5* production of Annie Get Your Gun with its superbly tuneful, wonderfully witty score by Irving Berlin.

The show is blessed with a freshness, charm and humour that are completely captivating, as well as one of the greatest collections of songs in the history of musical theatre. Berlin’s tunes and lyrics have embedded themselves into the public’s consciousness. Annie Get Your Gun contains a mind-boggling array of beloved and delightful as ever standards. Including There’s No Business Like Show Business,  which sums up the entire process of putting on a theatre performance.  In this performance it’s’ an acapella version that starts the show from the back of the auditorium and the spotlight follows Frank onto the stage through the audience

Still deliciously fresh, sweet and funny seven decades after its premiere Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, find their love for each other undermined by professional rivalry. It’s hilariously encapsulated in one of the show’s most famous songs, Anything You Can Do. Other hits include Doing What Comes Natur’lly, The Girl that I Marry and the beautiful love song I Got Lost in His Arms

Anna Jane Casey as Annie Oakley is a pocket rocket phenomenon, a sophisticated performer, the twang in her voice is very much American and you’d never guess she was from Lancashire.

Frank Butler. Ben Lewis, is very much a dashing he-man who can make you understand Annie’s comic love at first sight near-swoon.

With a huge cast of 22 adults and 3 children it would be hard to mention everyone but mention must be made to Maggie Service as Dolly Tate the demon spinster and Frank Butler’s assistant – she spends most of the show in very little but with some amazing legs – and Lauren Hall as her underaged kid sister Winnie add much to the comic and musical pleasures of the production. Cleve September as Winnie’s half-Indian boyfriend is one of the show’s outstanding stars and the romance between the two is an interesting side story. Nicolas Colicos is fabulous as  Buffalo Bill; Timothy Quinlan his canny business adviser Charlie Davenport and Karl Seth’s nicely judged Chief Sitting Bull

With Laura Hopkins’ set designs, Alistair David’s vivid choreography and Paul Herbert’s Musical Direction all under the direction of  Paul Foster combines for a truly magnificent show.  Already extended until 21st January – this is a show not to be missed

US cult “hilllbilly comedy with a heart of gold” comes to the White Bear Theatre

Wildcard Theatre and the White Bear Theatre present:

January 17th – February 4th 2017, White Bear Theatre

With a run of over six months at Pacific Rep Theatre in Los Angeles, Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road is a hillbilly comedy with a heart of gold. Writer and actor Keith Stevenson, who originated the role of JD in Los Angeles, hails from Keyser, West Virginia, the hometown of the actual Fried Meat Ridge Road. Now, with Wildcard Theatre, he brings his brand of Americana to the White Bear Theatre, opening in the same week as the inauguration of a president widely believed to have been elected due to his manipulation of similar characters.

“This play will have you laughing non-stop” The Examiner

Things could not get any worse for Mitchell, who just lost his girlfriend, his apartment, and his job at the local Spork Factory. With nowhere to go, he answers an ad for a roommate and finds himself in a West Virginia countryside motel with JD, an affable hillbilly of mysterious origins. Soon JD’s neighbors – curmudgeonly Flip, meth-head Marlene, and her hot-headed boyfriend Tommy – have all but taken over the tiny room. When this zany group find themselves in a brief hostage situation, Mitchell must decide to save himself or join this dysfunctional family and let his freak-flag fly.
In 2012, Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road received an Ovation Award nomination for “Best Playwriting for an Original Play.” That same winter, Keith Stevenson wrote (and starred in) the holiday sequel, A Fried Meat Christmas. In 2014, he opened the third installment of the series, The Unfryable Meatness of Being.

“delightfully quirky comedy (…) a sharply executed, excellent production” Stage Raw

Alongside Keith Stevenson, the production also stars Robert Moloney (The Revenant) and Dan Hildebrand (Kraznys mo Nakloz, Game of Thrones). Director Harry Burton has acted and directed in theatre, television, film and radio for thirty years. His theatre directing work includes the acclaimed production of The Dumb Waiter with Lee Evans and Jason Isaacs (Trafalgar Studios), The Room (Royal Court), Quartermaine’s Terms (Windsor). In 2013 Harry was awarded Penn State University’s Kjell Meling Award for Distinction in the Arts and Humanities. Designer Simon Scullion has worked extensively in West End Theatre, including Peter Pan Goes Wrong and Showstopper!.

The White Bear Theatre has now reopened after a major refit, with a new purpose-built theatre upstairs at the White Bear pub, now run by Young’s and offering a warm, convivial atmosphere.