Jason Manford To Host Olivier Awards


Jason Manford has been announced as the host of the Olivier Awards 2019 with Mastercard. Having previously hosted in 2017, the much loved comedian, actor and singer will return to the Royal Albert Hall for the glittering ceremony on Sunday 7 April.

Jason Manford is an award-winning comedian, broadcaster and actor. As well as frequent television appearances on shows like 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Live At The Apollo, Jason boasts numerous stage credits, including the multi-Olivier Award-winning production of Sweeney Todd, an acclaimed UK tour of The Producers, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was recently announced that Jason will be starring in a new touring production of the Kander and Ebb musical Curtains from October this year.

Jason Manford said:

‘I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be back hosting the Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall. Having worked in theatres all across the country doing both stand-up and musicals for the last 20 years, I know the hard work that goes into putting on a show. It’s a privilege to host this star-studded evening and to celebrate the very best of all areas of British theatrical talent.’

Nominations for the Olivier Awards 2019 with Mastercard will be revealed on Tuesday 5 March at 1pm, via Facebook Premiere on the Olivier Awards website.

The Olivier Awards ceremony will be broadcast via official media partners ITV, Magic Radio and Facebook. Full details to be announced soon.

OlivierAwards.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


It’s Not A Sprint Review

Vault Festival, Leake St, London – until 3rd March 2019

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley


A one woman show about the niggling self doubt that can follow you from puberty through the rest of your life. Portrayed through an energetic performance, running a marathon, that makes you want to egg Maddy (Grace Chapman) on as she breaks through 13 miles – further than she has ever run before! Tussling with millennials’ reputation for not being finishers, she collapses not far from the end. Having banished her inner voice, Maddy (Grace Chapman) let’s it back in again, so she can fight hard against it and finally cross the line. It’s like she depends on that voice as her sparing partner.

This story is told through that head voice most of us have that keeps us company. The writer, Chapman, uses it to show how hitting 30 can be like a midlife crisis for women, with all the time pressures of society to conform: settle down, have a career, have babies, buy a house, go on exotic holidays. Taking on a massive challenge like a marathon is a classic way of proving to the world, convincing yourself, you still have time and you’ve still got it. Mainly you are not a failure. The use of the balloon to be a second player at times is clever.

This piece warns you to beware! Running a marathon gives that head voice sooo much space and scope to bring self doubt to the fore front, especially when you have the additional pressure of a wedding proposal!

It is an unusual way of giving you a glimpse into the mind of a millennial woman. Grace Chapman gives an honest and insightful performance, with light and shade, and a lot of sweat!

LIPSTICK: A Fairy Tale of Iran Review

Omnibus Theatre, Clapham, London until 24th March

Review by Lisa Harlow


An intriguing soup of elements is contained within this show. It describes itself as part theatre, part drag cabaret which ‘fuses storytelling, vaudeville, theatre, lip-synch and boylesque’.

On arrival, you find yourself as part of the audience at the drag cabaret. It’s from this stage, designed as a catwalk strip for striding with feathers and shiny sparkles, that all of the storytelling from Tehran, Derry and London takes place. An unusual set of bedfellows.

The narrative is primarily told by Orla (Siobhan O’Kelly). She makes clear that the trauma she has experienced in Tehran seems to have splintered away any sense of linear narrative in her mind of events. Snapshots of what took place became twisted and spewed out an altered sense of reality, like the twisted fairytale of Rapunzel story she relays within the performance.

Stark opposites are provided by the liberal lives that Orla, as a feminist artist, and her best friend Mark (Nathan Kiley), a drag cabaret artist) enjoy in London compared to the tightly controlled environment of Iran. Revelling in their plans to open their own performance space and sharing stories of sexual antics with their respective gay lovers comes to a censored halt whilst Orla adjusts to her new temporary home. Having opted to visit as part of an inter-cultural exchange, Orla expected to struggle within the environment of censorship yet, at no point, did she anticipate how deeply she would experience the Iranian brutal methods used to ensure submission to its controls.

O’Kelly is a convincing and captivating storyteller. Kiley is equally as beguiling in his role as Mark. He commands your attention throughout the performance (in all sorts of ways!) and his singing leaves all satiated with its alternating smooth depths and frothy fun. In spite of remaining in London, Mark himself experiences his own form of trauma and perverse manipulations, exposing the tarnish under his sparkles.

This is a story that is moving and powerful, told through unusual lenses, yet having the altogether familiar themes of love, forgiveness and perseverance of the soul woven throughout. There are no sugary corners here though. The fear that has been stirred against the power and ‘sorcery’ of women’s bodies and used for manipulation and control retriggers an angry flame in Orla. The lessons she takes away from this experience ensures she is determined to share the truth and not be complicit with the lie.

Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK Announces New Cast Ahead of 30th Anniversary










As Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK at The Fortune Theatre, London prepares to celebrate its 30thAnniversary in the West End in June 2019, PW Productions are delighted to announce that from Tuesday 19 March 2019 the show will star Stuart Fox as ‘Arthur Kipps’ and Matthew Spencer as ‘The Actor’.  

Having previously played the role of ‘Arthur Kipps’ at the Fortune Theatre and during the UK Tour, Stuart Foxreturns to “The Woman in Black”. His other West End credits include “Woman in Mind” at the Vaudeville theatre, “The Normal Heart” at the Royal Court, and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at the Fortune Theatre. His other theatre credits include “Ten Times Table”, “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” and  “Educating Rita”  all at the The Mill at Sonning, and “Springs Eternal”, “The Man Who Pays the Piper”, “The Stepmother”, “Sauce for the Goose”, “Three Farces” and “Winter” all at the Orange Tree Theatre and “After the Ball” at Theatre Upstairs Highgate.

Matthew Spencer has played the role of ‘The Actor’ at The Fortune Theatre and during the UK Tour of “The Woman in Black”. His other West End credits include “Amadeus” at the National Theatre, “1984” and the Almeida and Playhouse Theatre, and “War Horse” at the New London Theatre. His other theatre credits include “The Busy Body” at the Southwark Playhouse, “Bent” at the Trafalgar Studios, and “Sleuth” and “Tartuffe” at the Watermill Theatre and UK Tour.

In June this year THE WOMAN IN BLACK will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in London’s West End. Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’. He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, but as they delve further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. The borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins creep.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is directed by Robin Herford, with designs by Michael Holt and lighting by Kevin Sleep.

Matthew Bourne To Be Honoured With Special Olivier Award


Sir Matthew Bourne OBE has been announced as the recipient of this year’s Special Award at the Olivier Awards 2019 with Mastercard, in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in dance.

Hailed by many as the UK’s most successful living choreographer and director, Bourne has created and directed dance for musicals, theatre and film for 30 years, receiving numerous international accolades including seven Olivier Awards. This Special Award will be Bourne’s eighth Olivier Award, making him joint holder of the most ever Olivier Awards, alongside Judi Dench.

Kenny Wax, President of the Society of London Theatre, said:

‘The Society of London Theatre is delighted to acknowledge Matthew Bourne’s extraordinary achievements in dance with this year’s Special Olivier Award. Matthew has transformed the landscape of dance in this country and across the globe with his bold, innovative and popular work, loved by audiences around the world.’

As Artistic Director of his first company, Adventures in Motion Pictures (1987 – 2002), Bourne’s award-winning work included SpitfireNutcracker!Highland FlingCinderella and The Car Man – as well as Swan Lake, which went on to become the longest-running ballet in the West End and on Broadway, and be performed all over the world.

In 2002, with Co-Director Robert Noble, Bourne launched New Adventures, now a hugely influential exporter of British dance around the world. With the company, Bourne has premiered iconic productions including Play Without Words, Edward Scissorhands, Sleeping Beauty and The Red Shoes. 2019 sees the world premiere of Bourne’s 12th full-length production, Romeo and Juliet, which involves young dance talent from across the UK performing alongside the New Adventures company. 

Since 2008, New Adventures has delivered engaging and ambitious projects for people of all ages and abilities, reaching thousands worldwide each year as part of the company’s ambitions to develop and nurture the next generation of artists and audiences.

Bourne has created choreography for several major musicals, including Cameron Mackintosh’s productions of Oliver! and My Fair Lady, the National Theatre’s revival of South Pacific, and the 2004 production of Mary Poppins (with Stephen Mear), which returns to the West End later this year.

Awarded the OBE for Services to Dance in 2001, Bourne was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2016 for services to dance, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award in recognition of his outstanding services to the art of ballet.

The Olivier Awards, widely recognised as Britain’s most prestigious stage honours, return to the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 7 April. This year’s nominations will be announced on Tuesday 5 March, and further details of the ceremony – including the host – will also be announced soon.

Past recipients of the Special Award include Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Sondheim, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.

Sheridan Smith returns to the West End in new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium






Acclaimed star of Funny Girl and Legally Blonde returns to the West End

Creative team also announced, with production

to be directed by Laurence Connor (School of RockMiss Saigon)

Casting for the role of Joseph to be announced at a later date

Performances begin Thursday 27 June 2019

Today Michael Harrison and the Really Useful Group are delighted to announce that BAFTA and Olivier Award-winning actress Sheridan Smith will return to the West End this summer in the new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.

Sheridan will play The Narrator, as the iconic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice is re-imagined in a brand new production. The production will play a strictly limited 11-week season from Thursday 27 June.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be directed by Laurence Connor. Laurence’s credits include the acclaimed London production of School of Rock and the Tony-Award nominated production on Broadway, the recent London productions of Miss Saigon and Chess, the international arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and he is also the Co-Director of the new version of Les Misérables which has enjoyed worldwide success including Broadway, UK and US tours.

Laurence will be joined on the creative team by Choreographer JoAnn M Hunter (who has 20 Broadway shows to her credit, including School of Rock and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever), the award-winning Morgan Large who will design the set and costumes, Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell and Sound Designer Gareth Owen.

Double Olivier Award winning Sheridan Smith is Britain’s most captivating young actress. She made her TV debut in 1999 in ITV’s comedy series Dark Ages and went on to become a renowned household name on the long running cult series Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Her other TV credits include her starring role in Mrs Biggs, for which she was named Best Actress at the 2013 BAFTA TV Awards and was nominated for an International EMMY, and winning the National TV Award for her highly acclaimed portrayal of British icon Cilla Black in ITV’s 3-part drama Cilla, for which she was also nominated for her second BAFTA and International EMMY. Her most recent TV project was the ITV Primetime Drama Cleaning Up.

Her film credits include HysteriaTower BlockQuartet and Universal’s The Huntsman and Winter’s War.

Sheridan made her stage debut at the Donmar Warehouse in Into the Woods, and has since gone on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses in UK theatre. She earned her first Olivier Award Nomination for her performance in Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End, and in 2009 was awarded her first Olivier Award for her role of ‘Elle Woods’ in the West End production of Legally Blonde the Musical. She also won the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her role of ‘Doris’ in Flare Path. Most recently Sheridan enjoyed a highly celebrated run at The Savoy Theatre in Funny Girl, playing ‘Fanny Brice’, a role last played by Barbara Streisand.

Released as a concept album in 1969,the stage version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has become one of the world’s most belovedfamily musicals. The multi-award-winning show, which began life as a small-scale school concert, has been performed hundreds of thousands of times including multiple runs in the West End and on Broadway, international number one tours, and productions in over 80 countries as far afield as Austria and Zimbabwe and from Israel to Peru! The show features songs that have gone on to become pop and musical theatre standards, including Any Dream Will DoClose Every Door To MeJacob and Sons, There’s One More Angel In Heaven and Go Go Go Joseph.

Told entirely through song with the help of the NarratorJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatfollows the story of Jacob’s favourite son Joseph and his eleven brothers. After being sold into slavery by the brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled showman, the Pharaoh. As Joseph strives to resolve Egypt’s famine, he becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man and eventually reunites with his family.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is produced by Michael Harrison.

For further information, please see www.josephthemusical.com

The Pirates of Penzance Review

Wilton’s Music Hall – until 16 March 2019

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Sasha Regan’s all male Pirates of Penzance is simply irresistible. This joyful, exuberant and hilarious show is a perfect fit for Wilton’s wonderful space, with the cast popping up all around the auditorium. The first appearance of the ladies parading around the balcony is unforgettable, and the bungled burglary is a torch lit wonder.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s absurd story is lifted to supreme silliness by the non-stop visual gags going on in the background as Frederic (the impressive Tom Senior) and Mabel (the sweet but strong Tom Bales) gamely sing their hearts out professing their true love. Lizzi Gee’s choreography injects an impish joy into each musical number, even with simple head movements, and the oh-so-familiar songs are made to feel fresh and exciting. The sergeant and his policeman, complete with Cornish accents and giant moustaches on sticks are a hoot, and the chorus of girls and Mabel’s sisters will have you crying with laughter. This is a show you could return to time and time again, as you’re bound to miss some of the shenanigans in the ensemble. Vocally, the cast is spot on, and musical director Richard Baker on the piano is outstanding. The only colour amongst the costumes of white and beige is found on the Major General’s hunting jacket, but this splendour is offset by the prop used as his noble steed! David McKechnie is word-perfect in the role, while James Thackeray’s louche Pirate King and Alan Richardson’s gleefully odious but pitiable Ruth are a magnificent comic double act.

This is a must-see production for Gilbert and Sullivan aficionados and novices alike – gloriously daft and intoxicatingly uplifting.