Grease The Musical Review

The Grand Theatre, Leeds – 20 July 2019

Reviewed by Sally Richmond


Grease is the word – and the apt words for the new musical tour are: exhilarating, electrifying and energising! The world’s best-loved musical is back and it’s better than ever!

Grease originally opened in Chicago in 1971, followed by a move to Broadway in 1972, where it received seven Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. The 1978 film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John is the fourth highest-grossing live action musical of all time!

Headlining the show as Teen Angel was the fabulous entertainer Peter Andre and he did not disappoint! The multi-talented, fresh, young cast gave non-stop, jam-packed flawless performances but the show hit an all time high when Mr Andre entered the stage, standing at the top of a stairway dressed in white satin with pink tinted wings and hair. The crowd erupted into screams and whistles as he soulfully sang ‘Beauty School Dropout’.

The show, wonderfully choreographed by Arlene Phillips, was filled with favourite Grease tunes (including: Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want) but also included some songs not associated with the movie – or within a different order to what was expected – which was refreshing and made you feel like you were watching something familiar but new!

Dan Partridge and Martha Kirby portrayed the two love-struck teenagers, Danny and Sandy, with charm and gave them a likability factor and it was uplifting to see Sandy having a little bit more spunk and spirit than in the famous film. Rizzo (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) had some real show-stopping moments when delivering pitch perfect lyrics and amusing, sarcastic lines – usually towards Sandy or her on/off boyfriend Kenickie (Louis Gaunt), who wowed us with his impressive back-flips!

Director Nikolai Foster encapsulated the thrilling commemoration of the birth of what it was to be “cool” and the whole phenomena of teenage culture in his adaptation of the Grease the Musical (originally born from the book, music and lyrics of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey). Society was changing and Grease takes us back to that time in 1959, when Elvis was taking the world by storm as was the hand-jive. Scenes were cleverly introduced and smoothly linked through radio DJ commentary provided by the sleazy Vince Fontaine ( Darren Bennett), who gave the audience many laugh out loud moments, alongside whipping the dance contestants of the Rydell High into a frenzy, as they all tried to eagerly to win the coveted trophy..

By the mega thrilling finale, the production of Grease the Musical had the audience up on their feet in seconds, as Peter Andre invited one and all to join in a phenomenal music and dance medley which he fronted. I couldn’t see anyone still sitting as the whole cast gave such infectiously, enthusiastic performances so that no one could want to miss out on becoming part of the celebration and the party.

Feel-good, fabulous and family-show sum up this musical perfectly and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start their Summer Dreams now.


N O E L    S U L L I V A N


S C H O O L   O F   R O C K  –  T H E   M U S I C A L


Noel Sullivan will join the award-winning show School of Rock – The Musical from 19 August 2019 and will play the lead role of Dewey Finn at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.  The hit West End production, based on the iconic film of the same title, is currently booking to January 2020.

Sullivan will lead the adult cast alongside Laura Tebbutt as Rosalie Mullins, Mark Anderson will take over the role of Ned Schneebly from Alan Pearson from 8 October 2019, Rebecca LaChance continues as Patty Di Marco and Jake Sharp will play Dewey Finn at certain performances. 

The remaining adult cast comprise Keisha Amponsa BansonRyan BearparkRob Falconer,Kelly Hampson, Suzie McAdams, Richard MorseJayde NelsonAndy ReesAlex Tomkins,James Wolstenholme and Benjamin Yates with swings Jessica KirtonPaul KembleBilly MitchellCatherine Morris, and Andy Prosser.  Three teams of twelve kids who play live at every show make up Dewey’s band.

Noel Sullivan said: “It’s been a lifelong ambition of mine to perform in a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I have been a huge fan since I was a child and to get the opportunity to work on such an incredible production is absolutely a dream come true. I loved School of Rock the movie and this hilarious musical doesn’t disappoint. I look forward to not only taking on one of my most challenging roles to date but also working alongside some of the most talented kids in the country. I’ve been in some great bands before but this one is really going to take some beating!” 

Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pint-sized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful, but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

School of Rock – The Musical features music from the movie, as well as new music written byAndrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian FellowesSchool of Rock – The Musical is directed by Laurence Connor with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, set and costume designs by Anna Louizos,lighting design by Natasha Katz,sound design by Mick Potter, music supervision by John Rigby with Matt Smith as musical director.

Noel Sullivan Is best known for his part in the record-breaking pop group Hear’Say, winners of ITV’s hit show Popstars. After the band, Noel went on to carve out a successful career in theatre and television. He can currently be seen in the new Russell T Davies drama for BBC1 and HBO, Years and Years.  His previous TV credits include Ordinary Lies 2 and Gavin and Stacey, both for BBC1. As a West End actor, his theatre credits include Galileo in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, Danny Zuko in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre as well as leading roles in Rock of Ages, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fame, Flashdance, Love Shack and many more.  Noel created the role of Seamus O’Rourke in Tiger Bay the Musical which had its world premiere in Cape Town before a run at the Wales Millennium Centre.  Noel regularly performs as a concert soloist and most recently starred in the Best of Rock Musicals at the Eventim Apollo as well as creating his first solo show “If you don’t Noel me by now” an evening with Noel Sullivan. 

Produced by Paramount Pictures, the 2003 hit film School of Rock was directed by Richard Linklater and starred Jack Black in a career-defining performance.

School of Rock — The Musical is produced in the West End by Andrew Lloyd Webber for The Really Useful Group and Warner Music Group & Access Industries with Madeleine Lloyd Webber as Executive Producer.


Theatre:                    Gillian Lynne Theatre, 166 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5PW

Dates:                       booking to January 2020

Running time:            approximately 2 hours 40 minutes including interval

Box Office:                020 7087 7750

Performances:           Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm, Sundays at 3pm

                                Prices:   from £15.00

Student rush tickets for £10 on Wednesday evening

All ticket prices include a £1.50 restoration levy.  No booking fee via official box office channels


Twitter & Instagram: @SchoolofRockuk





‘A thrilling experience. The best Fiddler I’ve seen in the West End’

Daily Telegraph

Chocolate Factory Productions, Sonia Friedman Productions and Michael Harrison present

The Menier Chocolate Factory production of


Book by Joseph Stein               Music by Jerry Bock          Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick         

Director Trevor Nunn; Choreographers Jerome Robbins & Matt Cole; Set Designer Robert Jones  

Costume Designer Jonathan Lipman; Hair and Make Up Designer Richard Mawbey

Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin; Sound Designer Gregory Clarke

Musical Supervisor & Director Paul Bogaev; Orchestrations Jason Carr

Fiddler on the Roof today announces a final extension until 2 November at the Playhouse Theatre, where it broke box office records with the highest advance for any production there. Trevor Nunn directs Andy Nyman(Tevye), Maria Friedman (Golde), Anita Dobson (Yente), Nicola Brown (Chava), Harriet Bunton (Hodel), Dermot Canavan (Lazar Wolf), Stewart Clarke (Perchik), Joshua Gannon (Motel), Matthew Hawksley (Fyedka), and Molly Osborne (Tzeitel), as well as Miles BarrowSofia BennettPhilip BertioliLottie CasserleyElena Cervesi, Lia CohenTalia EtheringtonShoshana EzequielIsabella Foat, Fenton GrayJames Hameed,  Adam LinsteadAdam MargilewskiRobert MaskellRobyn McIntyre, Gaynor MilesEllie MullaneTania Newton,George OlneyCraig PinderValentina TheodoulouEd Wade and Taylor Walker in the reconfigured auditorium.


‘Musically, geopolitically, emotionally, this Fiddler raises the roof.’

The Guardian

Direct from its sold-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Tony and Olivier award-winning director Trevor Nunn’s ‘exuberant revival’ (Daily Telegraph) of the classic Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof is now playing in the West End for a strictly limited run. The Playhouse Theatre has been transformed into an intimate space especially for this production.


‘An evening to be celebrated as a spikily poignant reminder of what it is to be human in politically dark times. Both whirlingly energetic and achingly moving, it marks itself out straight away as one of the most uplifting nights possible to be had in the West End right now.’
The Arts Desk

Old traditions and young love collide in this joyous and timely celebration of life. Tevye’s daughters’ unexpected choice of husbands opens his heart to new possibilities, as his close-knit community also feel winds of change blowing through their tiny village.

Featuring the iconic score including ‘Tradition’, ‘Matchmaker, Matchmaker’, ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ and ‘If I Were a Rich Man’, and featuring original choreography from Tony Award-winning Jerome Robbins alongside new choreography by Matt Cole, Fiddler on the Roof ‘bursts from the stage’ (Financial Times), bringing new life to one of the most beloved musicals of all time.

Listings                                                                                                                         Fiddler on the Roof

Playhouse Theatre

Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE

Box Office: 0844 871 7631

Tickets from £20

Twitter: @FiddlerWestEnd

Instagram: @FiddlerWestEnd

Facebook: /FiddlerWestEnd


Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm, from 2 September Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Matinees Tues (Until 27 August), Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm

Please check the website for full details of performance schedule.

Groups Bookings: 020 7206 1174

Access Bookings: 0800 912 6971

Captioned Performance: Monday 16th September 7.30pm

Audio Described Performance: Monday 9th September 7.30pm

Full Cast Announced for BIG at Dominion Theatre











Joining the previously announced Jay McGuiness, Wendi Peters, Kimberley Walsh and Matthew Kelly as Josh Baskin, Mrs Baskin, Susan Lawrence and George MacMillan respectively in BIG The Musical, will be Lori Haley Fox as Mrs Kopecki/Miss Watson and Edward Handoll as Paul Seymour, with Harrison Dadswell, Jamie O’Connor and Jake Simon sharing the role of Young Josh and Jobe Hart, Austen Phelan and Theo Wilkinson sharing the role of Billy. 

Also in the cast will be Charlie Bull, Colin Burnicle, Christie-Lee Crosson, Vicki Davids, Alex Fobbester, Leanne Garretty, Stuart Hickey, Matt Holland, Tash Holway, Ross McLaren, Richard Murphy, Eddie Myles, Katharine Pearson, Anton Fosh, Gemma Fuller, Gary Murphy and Katy Osborne.  There will be two teams of children in the musical, made up from Olufemi Alaka, Coco Cousin-Brown, Asher Ezeguiel, Ellis Griffiths, Imogen Law Hing Choy, Noah Leggott, Amaya Lucas, Cassia McCarthy, Ophelia Parsons, Bailey Razdan, Lucinda Wicks and Chanel Zinyemba.

Based on the smash-hit movie starring Tom Hanks, BIG The Musical makes its West End premiere at the Dominion Theatre for a strictly limited nine-week season from 6 September to 2 November 2019, with a Gala Night in aid of Make-A-Wish on Tuesday 17 September.

BIG is a joyous, heart-warming musical about 12 year-old Josh Baskin who longs to be big.  When a mysterious Zoltar machine grants his wish, he finds himself trapped inside an adult’s body and he is forced to live and work in a grown-up world, but his childlike innocence has a transforming effect on the adults he encounters.

With music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, BIG has a book by John Weidman and direction and choreography by Morgan Young.  Associate choreographer is Helen Rymer, orchestrator and musical supervisor Stuart Morley, set and costume designer Simon Higlett, lighting designer Tim Lutkin, video designer Ian William Galloway, and sound designers Terry Jardine and Avgoustos Psillas, wig and hair designer Richard Mawbey, musical director Jeremy Wootton, illusions by Chris Fisher, casting directors Natalie Gallacher CDG for Pippa Ailion Casting and Sarah Bird CDG, and general management by David Pearson for Encore Theatre Productions Ltd.

Based on the Twentieth Century Fox Film BIG written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, Michael Rose, Damien Sanders and Paul Gregg for Encore Theatre Productions Limited present the Theatre Royal Plymouth production of BIG.



6 September – 2 November 2019

Dominion Theatre

268-269 Tottenham Court Road


Box Office 0845 200 7982

Tickets from £29.50 (£1 from every ticket sold will be donated to Make-A-Wish® UK)

Performances Monday to Saturday 7.30pm*, Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm(*7pm on 17 September)



Jules Verne inspired immersive game 80 Days: A Real-World Adventure comes to Covent Garden, July – September 2019

Fire Hazard Games, in association with Underbelly, present
80 Days: A Real-World Adventure
Secret location, Covent Garden
Thursday 11th July – Sunday 29th September 2019

Gather your travelling companions! The esteemed Mess’rs of the Reform Club (est 1841) have accepted your wager, and the expedition to circumnavigate the globe is about to begin…

Based on Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Around the World in 80 Days, Fire Hazard Games are staging a new, high energy urban adventure for adults in central London. Fire Hazard’s recent real-life immersive games include The Hunted Experience and John Le Carre’s The Circus. 80 Days: A Real-World Adventure is presented in association with Underbelly Festival Southbank.

The Reform Club has reopened the challenge to race Around the World in 80 Days and, this time, it’s open to all! Players are briefed by the Club’s wealthy patrons at a secret location in Covent Garden and have just 80 minutes to dash around central London to raise funds, make critical expedition purchases and decide whether to trust those who may help or hinder them along the way.

A theatrical adventure in both the virtual and real worlds, players will be guided through the game via a web app on their mobile phones, whilst also encountering a real cast of colourful characters as they make their way through London.

With a live leaderboard, cryptic clues, surprise challenges and multiple ways to win, the journey concludes with a race around the world at Underbelly Festival Southbank, guided by the cast and crew. This is a fast-paced journey unlike any other.

Michelle Hudson, Producer at Fire Hazard Games, says We have been doing real-world games for many years now, but are very excited about an experience based around this classic adventure story. With all of the uncertainty in the world today, we wanted to make a fun and fast-paced experience that will take people away from the every day for a few hours and put them in charge of their own grand expedition. We’re sure that 80 Days: A Real World Adventure will be just the ticket!

Players can participate as solo explorers or in a group – all that’s needed is a phone and a sense of adventure!










40 years since Bill Kenwright’s first production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic biblical story, the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatis once again one of musical theatre’s biggest hits, enjoying sell-out performances across the country.

The musical started out in 1968 as a 15-minute cantata and was the first of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals to be performed publicly. Bill Kenwright’s production has since been nurtured and developed to become the much-loved phenomenon it is today – the longest running touring musical of all time.

The production has recently been given enhanced choreography by sought-after choreographer Gary Lloyd – known for his crossover from music to theatre and as creative director with some of the world’s biggest artist’s live performances and arena tours including Sir Paul McCartney; Sir Cliff Richard; Dame Shirley Bassey; Sir Tom Jones and more recently Kelly Clarkson; Leona Lewis; Robbie Williams and Pink.

Combining Lloyd’s dynamic new material with Henry Metcalf’s original choreography for 2019 and beyond, it is intended to refresh the family favorite production whilst at the same time retaining its trademark style and integrity.

Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colours, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is full of life and colour, and features unforgettable hit songs including Go, Go, Go Joseph, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door To Me.

Lloyd said: “Bill Kenwright’s beautifully biblical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was the first show I ever saw at the theatre. It inspired me to pursue a career on stage, so I was beyond excited to be working with Bill and Henry to bring this 40-year family classic into the 21st century for another and future generations.

Metcalf said: “Joseph started as an end-of-term show by two naive but brilliant 19-year-olds, and is now one of the country’s biggest musical legends. Every scene has a different musical style. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is always memorable, Tim Rice’s lyrics always innovative, and Bill Kenwright’s production always magical and many millions of theatre goers from ages 5 to 95 will testify”.




Cheltenham Everyman Theatre                                 

Tues 27 – Sat 31 August                                                      01242 572 573

Glasgow King’s Theatre                                             

Tues 3 – Sat 7 September                                                   0844 871 7648

Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre                              

Tues 10 – Sat 14 September                                                      01224 641 122

*Jaymi Hensley is not scheduled to perform in Aberdeen

Crewe Lyceum Theatre                                               

Tues 17 – Sat 21 September                                                           01270 368 242

High Wycombe Swan Theatre                                   

Tues 24 – Sat 28 September                                                           01494 512 000

York Grand Opera House                                          

Tues 1 – Sat 5 October                                                         0844 871 3024

Dublin Bord Gáis Energy Theatre                             

Tues 8 – Sat 12 October                                                       +353 1 677 7999

Nottingham Theatre Royal                                        

Tues 15 – Sat 19 October                                                     0115 989 5555

Torquay Princess Theatre                                          

Tues 22 – Sat 26 October                                                     0844 871 3023

Weston Super Mare Playhouse Theatre                   

Tues 29 October – Sat 2 November                                               01934 645 544

Sheffield Lyceum                                                          

Tues 5 – Sat 9 November                                                    0114 249 6000

Billingham Forum Theatre                                         

Tues 12 – Sat 16 November                                                            01642 551 381         

St Helens Theatre Royal                                              

Tues 19 – Sat 23 November                                                            01744 756 000

*Please check venues websites for casting details.

Casting Announced For Warheads At Park Theatre

True Maverick Media and Park Theatre present


By Taz Skylar & Ross Berkeley Simpson

15 Aug – 7 Sep 2019 | Park Theatre

What happens to youth when it’s sent to war?

True Maverick Media are delighted to bring their thought-provoking production, Warheads to Park Theatre. The piece, which is based on the story of writer and lead actor Taz Skylar’s best friend, shines a light on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in young soldiers. The production runs from 15th August – 7th September.

Upon return from his first tour of Afghanistan, 19-year-old Miles Weppler isn’t quite himself. Noises don’t sound the same. People don’t look the same. Pizza doesn’t taste the same. The harder he tries to act normal, the harder it gets to be normal. And all his loved ones’ attempts to help him just keep making things worse.

Through the eyes of his therapist he’s just a lost boy. Through the eyes of his girlfriend he’s a stubborn and sometimes scary man. Through the eyes of his best friend, he’s paranoid. And through the not-so-best friend’s eyes, Weppler’s just a d*ck.

Warheads oscillates between multiple timelines, with the audience given a glimpse into Miles’ life before he signed up to the army and the man he becomes post-war. We get an intimate view of what motivates a young man towards the military, and why he wants to stay at any cost.

The cast and production team are working closely with Eden Orfanos-Shoro, an art psychotherapist who has been conducting trauma informed expressive arts workshops. Eden, who has treated many PTSD sufferers, also acts as dramaturg on the production. 

Writer and lead actor Taz Skylar said:

“PTSD is always portrayed as a man’s illness. I wanted people to see how it affects boys and girls. Boys and girls that are old enough to go to war, but not old enough to play ‘Call Of Duty’. Boys and girls who are old enough to shoot guns, but not old enough to drink a beer. Boys like my best friend.”

Warheads stars Klariza ClaytonJoseph ConnollySophie Couch, Craig Fairbrass, Hassan Najib and Taz Skylar,with spoken word from Suli Breaks.

Taz Skylar, who wrote the play, alsoplays the lead role of Miles Weppler. Taz played Dawes in The Kill Team (Oscilloscope Pictures), directed by two-time Oscar nominated Dan Krauss. Other credits include Jason in Villain(Ascendant Films) opposite Craig Fairbrass, and The Deal (Electric Entertainment), both due to be released soon.

Klariza Clayton plays Tena, Miles’ girlfriend. Klariza is perhaps best known for playing the role of Sam opposite Dani Harmer in Dani’s House (CBBC). She also played Luke Pasqualino’s character’s sister, Karen in Skins (E4); Joy in House of Anubis (Nickelodeon) and Holly in Lovesick (Netflix). Other credits include the lead role in feature film Suicide Club (Wild Eye Releasing) and Shaz in Harry Brown (Lionsgate).

Craig Fairbrass plays Deeks, Miles’ army capatain. Craig is best known for his roles as Dan Sullivan in EastEnders(BBC) and Pat Tate in the Rise of the Footsoldier (Optimum Releasing) film series. Craig has also had notable roles in Cliffhanger (TriStar Pictures); White Noise: The Light (Rogue Pictures); The Bank Job (Lionsgate); Devil’s Playground (E1 Entertainment); St George’s Day (Metrodome) and Breakdown (Soda Pictures).

Sophie Couch plays Phillipa, Miles’ inexperienced therapist. Sophie trained at Rose Bruford College before joining the National Youth Theatre. Last year she played ‘Two’ in James Fritz’s The Fall (Southwark Playhouse). Warheads marks Sophie’s professional stage debut.

Hassan Najib plays Mory, Miles’ best friend. Hassan’s most recent credits include Tortoise (NYT) and Zigga Zagger (NYT).

Joseph Connolly plays the role of Tembe, Miles’ girlfriend’s adopted brother, and Miles’ arch rival. Joseph studied at the University of West London and is a recent graduate of ALT. Warheads marks his professional acting debut.

Suli Breaks provides spoken word for the production. He is best known for his spoken word videos on his YouTube channel ‘sulibreezy’, with hits including ‘Why I Hate School but Love Education’ and ‘I Will Not Let an Exam Result Decide My Fate’.

Warheads is directed by Toby Clarke. Toby trained as a writer and director at the Central school of speech and drama, before joining the National Youth Theatre as ‘Playing Up Manager’. He worked as the head of performing arts at Oval house for three years. Toby has directed at National Theatre Studios and Pleasance Theatre, and has worked extensively with the Donmar Warehouse and The Lyric Hammersmith. He is also the founder of ALT actor training. 

Further Creative Team

Associate director: Sean Hollands

Associate producer: Marcus Kartal

Co-producer: Siobhan Walsh

Box office: 020 7870 6876*

UK premiere of Dave Malloy’s musical Preludes comes to Southwark Playhouse this September

The UK première of new musicalPreludes by Dave Malloy, writer of Broadway hit Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, comes to Southwark Playhouse’s Large space for a six week run this September, directed by Alex Sutton and produced by Danielle Tarento (Grey Gardens, Titanic, Parade).

The UK première of 

Music, lyrics, book and orchestrations by Dave Malloy.

Run: Friday, 6 September – Saturday 12 October 2019

Sergei Rachmaninoff has it all; world-wide fame from a single composition by the age of 19, commissioned to write his first symphony at 20 and engaged to the love of his life, Natalya. But at 21 he is crippled with a depressive paranoia and anxiety. His world has imploded, his work has stopped, he cannot even lift a pencil to compose a simple melody. Such is the power of the men who sought to destroy him, who haunt his waking nightmares and poison his dreams. And when those men happen to be the greatest artists of their day, how do you come back, how do you escape the darkness and come into the light?

Based on a true story of Rachmaninoff’s sessions of hypnotherapy, Preludes is an extraordinary new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy. It examines the crippling debilitation and harm the world can do to people, and how the dramatic and musical process can be used as therapy to restore them back into the fullest of creative lives.

Using live piano and electronics, Malloy uses a hybrid of his own and Rachmaninoff’s compositions to create a dream-like world that takes us to the darkest recesses of Rachmaninoff’s mind.

Three-time Tony Award-nominated writer Dave Malloy is a composer and writer of some of the most exciting new music theatre works. His best-known piece, Natasha Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, based on War and Peace,started at Ars Nova in New York before transferring to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre where it played to huge critical and audience acclaim and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, the highest number of nominations in the 2017 awards season, including Best Musical.

The cast is Rebecca Caine, Norton James, Georgia Louise, Tom Noyes, Keith Ramsay and Tim Walton.

Rebecca Caine plays Dahl. Credits include originating the role of Cosette in Les Misérables, (RSC and West End),Phantom of the Opera (Canada), Flowers for Mrs Harris(Sheffield Crucible) and Harold and Maude (Charing Cross Theatre). Norton James plays Chaliapin. Credits includeChoir of Man (Australian tour), Spamalot (Mercury Theatre, Colchester) and Love Story (Union). Georgia Louise plays Natalya. Credits include Mamma Mia (Novello), Kinky Boots(Adelphi Theatre) and 13: The Musical (Apollo/NYMT). Tom Noyes plays Rachmaninoff. Preludes is Tom’s professional debut. Keith Ramsay plays Rach. Credits include Amour(Charing Cross Theatre), Lost in Yonkers (Watford Palace),Portia Coughlin (Old Red Lion) and Julius Caesar(Shakespeare’s Globe). Tim Walton plays The Master. Credits include City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Kiss Me Kate (Old Vic), Matilda (RSC/West End) and Mamma Mia!(Prince Edward Theatre).

Direction by Alex Sutton. Set and costume design byRebecca Brower. Lighting design by Christopher Nairne. Sound design by Andrew Johnson. Choreography by Ste Clough. Musical direction by Jordan Li-Smith. Casting by Danielle Tarento.

Dave Malloy saysI am so so thrilled and tickled to see Preludes be given new life in this London premiere. It’s a very personal piece for me, wrestling with all the things it is to be an artist and a human, and the score features my music entwined with Rachmaninoff’s work, some of the most romantic and rousing piano music I know. I cannot wait to come to Southwark Playhouse and see this show reimagined by this amazing new team.”

Preludes originally premiered at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York in 2015. It ran for three months in a production developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin.

Along with Fun Home and the soaring, Broadway-bound Hamilton, this smashing production says that the American musical is not only not dead but also growing luxuriantly in places you never expected.” Ben Brantley, The New York Times on Preludes at the Lincoln Center Theater

Motown The Musical Review

Hull New Theatre – until 6 July 2019

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


I was lucky enough to see Motown The Musical in the West End two years ago, but let me tell you that this touring production is far superior! It is a total treat, jam packed with talented young actors, full of verve and passion. And the music…. just incredible, the band led by Griff Johnson is tight and funky, the singing sublime. The audience at the Hull New Theatre was quickly on their feet at the end of last night’s performance to give the cast a more than justified standing ovation.

The performance starts in 1983 in Pasadena California as the various Motown artists gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the label. We are then taken back to the beginning of the story when Berry Gordy (Edward Baruwa) borrows the money off his family to start his new label. He then starts to sign artists and what talent he signs, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Four Tops, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Jackson 5. The music is of course almost non-stop but feeds into the story, with over 50 songs included and yet I guarantee there will be songs that you love that aren’t in the show.

The story follows Berry Gordy’s personal relationships as well as looking at the workings of the label, but far more importantly it puts the development of the label and the artists into context by referencing what is going on around them. It is easy to forget that Motown was started in an era of segregation, but we see a concert with police on the stage and signs for a segregated audience. The use of archive video footage shows us JFK’s assassination, Martin Luther King, race riots and the Vietnam War. One of the most powerful pieces is just before the interval when the cast perform “War Child”, leading into Marvin Gaye’s (Shak Gabbidon-Williams) “What’s Going On

Edward Baruwa as Berry Gordy is of course the central pin of the whole performance and he commands the stage, his voice powerful but sweet. Surely I wasn’t the only member of the audience with tears in my eyes as he sang “Can I Close the Door”? Breathtaking.

But this story is also about the Motown artists, Karis Anderson was stunning as Diana Ross from the naïve sweet school girl to the diva she became, her voice was beautiful and at times tear jerking. Shak Gabbidon-Williams (Marvin Gaye) has quite simply an incredible voice, I could have listened to his songs all night. Nathan Lewis was a wonderful Smokey Robinson making the perfect foil for Berry Gordy. Special mention should go to Carlo Braithwaite for his portrayal of a young Michael Jackson, what moves he had! The audience loved him.

The ensemble played the rest of the artists, musically stunning, choreography that was spot on for the era, such an incredibly talented bunch.

The costumes (Emilio Sosa) were fabulous and so many costume changes and wig changes, yet the whole performance is slick and stylish. David Korins’ sets were deceptively simple but very effective in taking us from office to home to nightclub to tv studio.

The story alone would make a good night out at the theatre, add in the fabulous music and the talented cast and it becomes a no-brainer. If you want to float out of the theatre knowing you’ve had a great night then go and catch Motown The Musical.

Bare – a Pop Opera Review

The Vaults, London – until 4 August 2019

Reviewed by Prachya van de Gevel


What do you get if you cross Romeo and Juliet, High School Musical, Glee, Sister Act 2 and Cruel Intentions? Yes Bare – a Pop Opera embodies a lot of these into one opera musical.

The story tells of the lives of a senior class in their final term at their Catholic Boarding School, as they traverse, exploring their sexuality, drug usage and their feelings of loneliness and their confessions of their sins. Our star crossed lovers Jason (Darragh Cowley) and Peter (Daniel Mack Shand) do the majority of the heavy lifting, they feature in almost every one of the 36 numbers in this theatrical piece.

I really enjoyed watching them both perform in their roles, one the high school jock , handsome, popular and  yet mysterious with a secret, Whilst Peter is the polar opposite, he is knows who he is but struggles to accept his sexuality as in the eyes of God he doesn’t know where he stands, but he is ready to proclaim his love for Jason and shout it from the rooftops!  Their voices work extremely well together and there is real chemistry between them, from the offside glances and the scenes of a sexual nature! The school is preparing for their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet and this theme and scenes from the iconic play. Enter our leading lady Ivy (Lizzie Emery) the popular girl with all the guys if you know what I mean… her promiscuity means I don’t have too much empathy for her character, and I felt her performance needed a little more emotion from it and every scene she was upstaged by Nadia (Georgie Lovatt) who in my opinion was a standout in the show, her songs and one liners made me think about the show on the way home and got the audience the most laughs, she has a brief scene involving self harm that I feel could have been explored deeper but maybe due to the long running of the show it was shortened, for me she is one to watch in the future!

The cast member that got the most appreciation was Sister Chantelle (Stacy Francis) her portrayal of Sister Diva/Beyonce comin atcha with all the attitude and swagger and acceptance really brought the house down! On the flip side Claire (Jo Napthine) playing Peter’s mother had me thinking of my own history and relationship with my mother, scary how accurate and real some of her scenes became for me.

The main cast is rounded out by Tom Hier in the role of Matt, the jealous always in 2nd place behind Jason of the show his portrayal was very well done and created many scenes of tensions throughout the show

The rest of the cast with the exception of the school drug dealer Lucas (Bradley Connor) kinda faded into the background, not because they  had bad performances but because they were outshone by the main cast members!

They were integral to scenes and set changes and wow can this cast perform. For many of them this is an early roles for them and in some ways that shows, but overall I think that I would really like to see this show again however a seat further back to take in the full stage without my neck going back and forward between different sides of the set! I felt sitting too close did not give me a full view of the stage.

The songs are catchy and the themes of the play are very poignant especially as we celebrate pride month. I say go see this pop opera for the music the story and the energy of the cast and team on this high energy production. I look forward to seeing more of this cast again and I am sure I will be seeing the show again before it closes!