Budget 2021 – statement from Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre

A statement from Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, following today’s Budget 2021 announcement:

‘The Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre welcome the support that Rishi Sunak and HM Treasury have shown the theatre sector in the Autumn 2021 Budget.

‘The increase in rates of relief for Theatre Tax Relief from 27 October 2021 to 45% and 50% (for touring productions) will provide producers and investors with greater confidence in developing our world-leading theatre and drive the cultural recovery from the pandemic. The relief will taper down from 1 April 2023, reducing to 30% and 35% and will return to 20% and 25% on 1 April 2024.

‘The temporary business rates relief for theatre buildings in 2022-23, a 50% relief up to a £110,000 cap per business, will provide venue operators with the cushion of a lower cost base as they reopen and develop an audience post-pandemic. The 100% improvement relief for business rates, providing 12 months relief from higher bills for occupiers where eligible improvements to an existing property increase the rateable value, from 2023 will encourage innovation and enhancement of our theatre buildings.

‘Finally, the welcome news that core funding for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Local Authorities is set to increase will reassure the venues and performing arts companies up and down the country that rely on their support in delivering culture to their local communities.

‘Over the next few days, we will be analysing the detail of the budget, continuing to work with government to promote the values of this £4.5bn sector as we get greater clarity on all the measures announced today.’




Mark Robert Petty today announces A Musical Theatre Christmas at the Actors’ Church – a one-night only festive concert in the heart of Covent Garden. Featuring festive favourites from the musical theatre cannon, traditional carols, and more, the concert will be hosted by Tom Read Wilson and Dolly Diamond, with musical direction by George Francis and BSL translation by Paul Whittaker alongside a host of West End stars. A Musical Theatre Christmas is on 5 December 2021, with tickets from £30 at: https://actorschurch.org/event/?show=15&id=873621181 and proceeds benefitting The Actors’ Church Benevolent Fund and The Royal Theatrical Fund.

The line-up of performers includes Roshani AbbeyLewis AsquithLizzie BeaNikki BentleyKieran BrownPhoebe FildesDaisy GreenwoodAlex HammondKim IsmaySooz KempnerCharlie KristensenGeorgia LennonOliver LidertCarolyn MaitlandJessica MartinPaige MillerNadim NaamanRosa O’ReillyLaura PickSara PoyzerJon TarcyHelen WoolfThe Westenders and the students of Laine Theatre Arts.

Dolly Diamond has been a drag artist for over 15 years. As well as performing in The Dolly Diamond Show, impersonations include Tina Turner, Kylie Minogue, Dame Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross and Sia. Other characters such as Carmen Miranda, Liza Minnelli and Cilla Black all make regular appearances in The Dolly Diamond Show, which has toured internationally. She was the Artistic Director of the 2017 and 2018 Melbourne Cabaret Festival, and has had successful cabaret seasons part of Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Fringe World Perth, Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Ballarat Cabaret Festival and Broken Heel Festival. She is an Ambassador for Guide Dogs Victoria, Movember, the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation.

Tom Read Wilson is an actor and presenter, best known as the receptionist on Celebs Go Dating. His theatre credits include Sleeping Beauty (Wellingborough Castle Theatre), Alice in Wonderland (Madinat Theatre, Dubai), Cat in The Hat (Everyman Theatre, Cork/The Palace Theatre, Manchester/Hull Truck/Watford Colosseum), in concert with The Fingask Follies (Fingask Castle, Perth/Chelsea Arts Club) and Sweet Revenge (Theatre Royal Windsor).

George Francis is a musical director and pianist. His theatre credits as musical director include Miracle on 34th Street, Fiddler on the Roof (Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse), Amelie (Watermill Theatre/UK tour/Criterion Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (Storyhouse Theatre); and as assistant musical director, Blood Brothers, The Sound of Music and Flashdance (UK tours).

Paul Whittaker is a deaf musician and founder of Music and the Deaf, a charity to help deaf people enjoy music. He has provided BSL signage for shows such as Les MisérablesCats, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Carousel, My Fair Lady, and more. He has also signed for The Sixteen Choir, Rambert Dance Company, Opera North, and at the Edinburgh International and Aldeburgh Festivals. In 1992, he was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, spending almost 2 months researching music among deaf communities in the USA. In 2007, he was awarded an OBE for Services to Music and holds Honorary degrees from the University of Huddersfield and the Open University.



The Actors’ Church

Bedford Street

Box Office: 020 7836 5221 / https://actorschurch.org

Tickets: £30 / £40 / £60

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes

The venue is wheelchair accessible. Please wear a mask (unless exempt) and use the hand sanitizer provided. Public toilets are located just outside the church in the Piazza.

Derren Brown Showman Review

The Alexandra, Birmingham – until Saturday 21 October 2021

Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh


You would think it difficult to review a show, where there is an explicit rule to not reveal any of its contents, but this is not the case with Derren Browns Showman.

In an era where immersion and entertainment, are thought only to be achievable through virtual means, Derren brings it back to the human experience and does so in such an entertaining and poignant way which leaves you buzzing. Surrounded by strangers, by the end you feel the connection, Derren weaves a golden thread which pulls everything thing together but still leaves you with more questions than answers, but that’s ok. With the red lights you’re back in the room, and all is as it should be…or is it?

Derren commanded our attention throughout the 2 hour and 20 minute extravaganza, including interval, with his combination of theatrics and mesmerising word play. Ever the showman, his charisma and charm are not to be confused with the immense skill and thought that has be poured into Showman. Inviting audience members up at random, to partake in his beguiling and bewildering illusions, added to the ambiguity and had you turning to your neighbour asking ‘How did he do that!?’

The amazing creative combination of Derren Brown, Andrew O Conner and Andy Nyman deliver a well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable night. However, I believe, this is perhaps the first of Derren’s shows, where we get a glimpse behind the showman. Sharing his own humanity, Derren’s pathos will have you laughing and crying and leave you wanting more. More from Derren, more from live theatre and more from life.

The takeaway from Showman is that we tend to lose focus, get caught up in the small stuff and miss out on the important moments as life passes us by. One thing I urge you not to miss out on is Showman. Its truly spectacular and Derren doesn’t disappoint as he delivers another hit show.



As part of the 10th birthday celebrations for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre, the show has released new production photography of the London cast. There will also be a special performance as part of this year’s Royal Variety Performance to mark 10 years since the London opening, which will air this December on ITV.

This iconic British musical has won 99 international awards including 24 for Best Musical and has been seen by more than 10 million people across more than 90 cities worldwide. The production is now booking through to 29 May 2022 for individuals, and through to 16 December 2022 for groups and schools. For further information visit www.matildathemusical.com.

A tonic for audiences of all ages, this anarchic production about a strong and determined heroine with a vivid imagination has welcomed almost 4 million audience members in London. Adapted from the much-loved Roald Dahl book and commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the musical premiered at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home in 2010, before transferring to the West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews.

Matilda The Musical swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway. It has since toured North America, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, South Africa and China and played its first non-English language production in Seoul, South Korea in 2018/19.  Matilda The Musical will also play the Netherlands for the first time, translated into Dutch for a run at the Oude Luxor Theater Rotterdam. Tickets are now on sale for Matilda De Musical in Rotterdam at matilda-demusical.nl

Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand, and change her own destiny.

Written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and developed and directed by Matthew Warchus, the theatre production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.

With the upcoming film adaptation from the same core creative team as the theatre production (direction by Matthew Warchus, adapted for the screen by Dennis Kelly, with the music and lyrics of Tim Minchin), Roald Dahl’s themes of bravery and standing up for what you believe in will continue to inspire young audiences all over the world. Produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title, Jon Finn, and Luke Kelly of The Roald Dahl Story Company. Sony Pictures U.K. and Tristar Pictures will release Matilda across the U.K. and Ireland exclusively in cinemas on 2nd December 2022 for Christmas. Netflix will release the film in the rest of the world in December 2022.

Matilda The Musical is produced by Executive Producers Denise Wood and Griselda Yorke for the Royal Shakespeare Company.  The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

André Ptaszynski had worked as one of the Executive Producers of the production from 2011 until his untimely death in 2020.  He is much missed by all his colleagues.

9 to 5 Review

Nottingham Theatre Royal – until Saturday 30 October 2021.

Reviewed by Louise Ford.


Pour myself a cup of ambition 

The power of Dolly Parton is all around, in a good way. From the writing of the music and the lyrics to the cameo appearance setting the scene and moving the plot along. We all need a touch of Dolly in our lives.

The 1980’s film, based on the book by Patricia Resnick has been adapted for the stage and is currently touring the UK. It’s an up beat tale that touches on some important issues that sadly haven’t gone away today.  However in the musical the baddies get their comeuppance, thanks to Girl Power.

The story follows the office lives of three co-workers, all with different backgrounds, different stories but one common foe; the  old boys’ club that dominates their workplace and their bigoted boss in particular.

So we have Violet (Louise Redknapp), Judy (Vivian Panka) and Doralee (Stephanie Chandon), all at different stages of life, working hard to manage their ambitions, their home lives and their families. All three are played sympathetically with just the right amount of feistiness, naivety and drive. Violet ties the scenes together in a gentle understated way.  Doralee is a toned down Dolly all big hair, high heels and a push up bra! Work those assets. Judy is the naive new comer who under the care and tutelage of her co-workers blossoms into a career woman of the 80’s.

The villain of the piece is Franklin Hart Jnr (Sean Needham) the CEO of Consolidated Companies a proper pantomime baddie who slimes,  gropes and ogles his way through the company. 

The sets are outlined by 80’s computers which nicely frame the scenes which range from the offices, the roof top and the bedroom. The costumes are bright 1980’s suits with lots of gold buttons and lapels! There are some good ensemble dance routines which enhanced the moving scenery and set changes.

The production is book-ended by the eponymous 9 to 5 which has the audience singing and clapping along in appreciation and enjoyment. Some of the humour and one-liners are a little Carry-on in nature (I still miss Dick. I’m going nuts with my nuts in a truss) which for me jarred but I think I’m in the minority there. The audience loved the slap stick elements and innuendos! Note to self must get out more. So gather around the coffee machine, add an extra spray of girl power and keep on workin’ until your dreams come true!

Vanara – The Legend Review

Hackney Empire, London – until 31 October 2021

Reviewed by Celia Armand Smith



A story of love, loss, rivalry, and survival; Vanara The Legend is an ambitious telling of a tale as old as time.

Set in a mythical forest, Vanara tells the story of the moon worshipping Kogallisk tribe and their rivals, the moon following Pana people. The Kogallisk hold the secret to fire (both physical and metaphorical) and the Pana want it. Each tribe has an heir, Ayla played by Emily Bautista, and Mohr played by Jacob Fowler who inevitably meet and fall in love despite their families telling them that they cannot under any circumstance even look each other in the eye. This is all happening against a backdrop of an impending eternal dark winter foretold by oracle The Oroznah, played by Johnnie Fiori. The cast is great, with Kayleigh McKnight as Sindah belting out some memorable solos, and Cavin Cornwall as Crohm and Carole Stennett as Tonah heading up the Kogallisk tribe with powerful stage presence.

The staging of this epic tale is a forest made from scaffolding where the band sits high in the canopy overlooking the stage. A rotating portion of the set cleverly divides the two tribes and changes quickly to create a backdrop for the final tragedy and inevitable resolution. The soundtrack by Gianluca Cucchiara and Andrew James Whelan, coupled with the excellent choreography by Eleesha Drennan made for an enjoyable evening. The group choreography scenes were for me some of the most powerful moments, especially a nightmarish dream and a battle scene beautifully depicted in contemporary movement. Much of the singing is about either fire or love; lost love, new love, found love, unrequited love, fires that burn bright within, without, in your eyes etc. The entertainment factor allows you to forgive some of the over the top narrative that at one point an audience member sitting near us referred to as an “Eastenders moment”.

Vanara – The Legend is a bold new musical that tackles some tough topics and is highly enjoyable. It has big songs and a big heart and the cast is superb.






Playful Productions and the Royal Shakespeare Company have confirmed today that The Mirror and the Light will end its run on the previously planned date of Sunday 28th November 2021 and not perform an extension.

An industry-leading project that was developed while navigating the lockdowns, the ambitious and bold production brings to life the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the complex and vibrant world of the court of Henry VIII. It features a cast of 24 performers including 7 West End debuts and has created work for hundreds of freelance practitioners after an impossible year. It began performances at the Gielgud Theatre in September and has enjoyed a hugely successful run, delighting audiences with many commenting that this was their first trip back to the theatre since the initial lockdown 18 months ago.

Over recent days, it has become clear that the ever-changing environment creates a level of uncertainty that does not support the risk involved in extending the run beyond its original planned end date. The run will therefore end on Sunday 28 November at which time it will have played 75 performances to over 50,000 people.

The producers expressed their gratitude to audiences and the cast, backstage and creative team for making it the success it has been so far. 

The Box Office will begin contacting ticket holders to move them to one of the remaining dates or offer a refund today. If tickets were booked via a ticket agent or third party they will contact bookers directly to arrange a date change or refund.


Playful Productions, Stage Play and Cedella Marley present 




The West End production of Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, which opened last week at the Lyric Theatre, has extended its booking period until 18th September 2022. Hailed as a major cultural event the landmark production about Bob Marley’s life began performances at the Lyric at the start of the month.

With unlimited access to Marley’s superlative songs of love and unity and a book by award-winning Lee Hall, acclaimed director Clint Dyer channels the militant spirit and moving story of one of music’s most significant figures. The production’s dynamic company of performers, led by Arinzé Kene as Bob Marley and Gabrielle Brooks as Rita Marley, combine with the very best reggae musicians to bring this inspirational tale of passion, political transformation and enduring hope from Trenchtown to the West End. Tickets are now on sale at www.getupstandupthemusical.com.

From the hills of rural Jamaica, blending visionary musical talent and revolutionary zeal, Bob Marley set out to touch the world with his inspirational musical message and soul stirring advocacy for the oppressed. 

The full cast includes:  Arinzé Kene (Bob Marley), Daniel Bailey, Craig Blake, Charles Blyth, Gabrielle Brooks (Rita Marley), Melissa Brown Taylor (Marcia Griffiths), Maxwell Cole, Athena Collins, Michael Duke, Kimmy Edwards, Raphael Estavia, Henry Faber, Cannon Hay, Shanay Holmes (Cindy Breakspeare), Savanna Jeffrey, Natey Jones (Peter Tosh), Sophia Mackay (Judy Mowatt), Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton, Cleopatra Rey, Julene Robinson, Jacade Simpson (Bunny Wailer), Nate Simpson, Archie Smith, Declan Spaine, Jaime Tait, Teddy Wills.



Casting is announced for the sensational brand-new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which is set to light up the stage at Newcastle Theatre Royal Tue 24 May – Sat 2 Jun 2022 direct from two triumphant seasons at The London Palladium.

Linzi Hateley – Joseph’s original, Olivier Award-Nominated Narrator – will be sharing the stage once again with Jason Donovan who will reprise his role as Pharaoh and Jac Yarrow as he prepares to don the famous coat in the titular role on tour.

Linzi Hateley is an Olivier Award nominee and Theatre World Award winner who has starred on Broadway, in the West End, with the RSC, and at the National Theatre. She now returns to the role of the Narrator, having first starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1991 opposite Jason Donovan and Phillip Schofield at the London Palladium – for which she received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Jason Donovan will return in the role of Pharaoh. He was originally in the show when he made his defining stage performance as the title character of Joseph in the 1990s, in a sold-out 18-month run which produced a No.1 single and best-selling soundtrack album. Jason raised the roof of the London Palladium during the show’s 2019 and 2021 engagements as Pharaoh, who rocks ‘Song of the King’ in the musical.

Jac Yarrow caused a sensation when he made his professional stage debut playing Joseph, following in the footsteps of a line of stars who have previously played the title character. His portrayal of Joseph won him unanimous acclaim and an Olivier Award nomination, with his rendition of ‘Close Every Door To Me’ regularly stopping the show with standing ovations.

Producer Michael Harrison said: “After two sensational runs at The London Palladium, I am delighted to bring this joyous show to the Newcastle Theatre Royal next year as Joseph prepares to unite audiences and spread happiness across the UK. Our ‘dream team’ casting will enchant newcomers and longstanding fans alike; Jac Yarrow has wowed audiences and critics with his spectacular debut and attendees should be prepared for the roof to be raised when Jason Donovan steps on stage. Linzi Hateley is confirmed to return to her role as Narrator when we perform in Newcastle having delivered a delightful dose of nostalgia to audiences at special performances of Joseph at the London Palladium this summer. GO! GO! GO! JOSEPH!”

Audiences and critics were unanimous in their acclaim for the legendary musical – the first major collaboration by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber – when it returned to the London Palladium in 2019 and again in 2021.

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 beloved family 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 Do, Close Every Door To Me, Jacob and Sons, There’s One More Angel In Heaven and Go Go Go Joseph.

Told entirely through song with the help of the Narrator, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat follows the story of Jacob’s favourite son Joseph and his eleven brothers. After being sold into hardship 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 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. He is the director of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.

JoAnn M Hunter (who has 20 Broadway shows to her credit, including School of Rock and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever) is the show’s choreographer, set and costume design are by the award-winning Morgan Large with Ben Cracknell as Lighting Designer and Gareth Owen as Sound Designer

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

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tue 24 May – Sat 4 Jun 2022. Tickets are priced from £20.00 and can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

Gatsby Charitable Foundation donation brings Theatre Artists Fund Autumn grants to £500,000

Gatsby Charitable Foundation donation brings Theatre Artists Fund Autumn grants to £500,000


Following a major donation from Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Theatre Artists Fund has recently been able to raise over £500,000 for a sixth round of grant applications to support struggling theatre freelancers.

The latest funding round has made it possible to distribute 1,003 individual £500 grants to support struggling theatre freelancers this Autumn.

Since the Theatre Artists Fund was created by director Sam Mendes and the Society of London Theatre in July 2020, it has raised £7.8m and distributed 8,294 grants to individuals around the UK. More than 3,000 people, foundations and business have contributed towards the Fund, helping people from over 38 performing arts professions pay rent and bills and put food on the table, during a hugely challenging time for the theatre industry. 

From 3 November, a free exhibition by globally renowned photographer Rankin opens at the Fujifilm House of Photography in Covent Garden, celebrating the many faces of London’s theatre industry through a series of nearly 150 portraits. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to donate to the Theatre Artists Fund alongside other charities. A limited-edition book of the portraits will be released later in November, with a portion of proceeds also going to the Theatre Artists Fund.

Although theatres around the UK can now open to full audiences, uncertainty and financial instability remain a significant issue for the thousands of freelance theatre workers in the UK, and there is still a high demand for Theatre Artists Fund support. Donations to the fund provide an essential lifeline and go directly to those in need.

Full details of how to apply and how to donate to the Theatre Artists Fund are available at theatreartists.fund