With 315 hours of rehearsals now complete; 68 tonnes of scenery hung at the Prince Edward Theatre; and 337 custom-designed, hand-made costumes created from over 1,225 varieties of fabric, adorned with millions of Swarovski crystals, Disney’s new musical Aladdin will begin previews in the West End tonight.

Ahead of the very first performance in the UK, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that Aladdin has extended its booking period into 2017. Tickets for the spectacular production are now on sale for performances up to and including 11 February 2017. Aladdin’s official opening night will be on Wednesday 15 June. For further details please visitwww.aladdinthemusical.co.uk

Dean John-Wilson plays the role of Aladdin alongside Jade Ewen as Jasmine in the new musical based on the classic Academy Award®-winning animated film. Broadway cast member Trevor Dion Nicholas makes his London stage debut as Genie and is joined by Don Gallagher as Jafar,Peter Howe as Iago, Irvine Iqbal as the Sultan, Nathan Amzi as Babkak, Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Kassim and Rachid Sabitri as Omar.

Aladdin features the timeless songs from the 1992 animated film as well as new music written by Tony®, Olivier© and eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop Of Horrors). With lyrics from Olivier Award and two-time Oscar® winnerHoward Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony and Olivier Award, three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida), and four-time Tony Award nomineeChad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), and a book by Beguelin, Aladdin is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Now in its third record-breaking year on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, where it has been seen by more than 1.5 million people, Aladdin’s global presence has grown to four productions on three continents. It opened at Tokyo’s Dentsu Shiki Theatre Umi in May 2015 and had its European premiere in December 2015 at the Stage Theatre Neue Flora, Hamburg.Aladdin will open in Sydney, Australia in August 2016.

Previous Disney stage productions in London have included Shakespeare in Love and the Olivier-winning productions of Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and The Lion King, which is now playing its 17th year in the West End.

Aladdin is designed by Olivier and seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, five-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, Olivier and two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis. Casting is by Jill Green CDG.

The production team also includes illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer, hair designer Josh Marquette and makeup designer Milagros Medina-Cerdeira. The music team is headed by music supervisor and music director Michael Kosarin, who also created the vocal and incidental music arrangements, joined by orchestrator Danny Troob and dance music arranger Glen Kelly.


Prince Edward Theatre
28 Old Compton St
London W1D 4HS

Box Office number: 0844 482 5151

Facebook: Aladdin London
Twitter: @AladdinLondon
Instagram: @AladdinLondon

Open Air Theatre’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to tour the UK with Felicity Montagu as Mrs. Bennet

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre



by Jane Austen

in an adaptation Simon Reade

Touring the UK from September 2016

With Felicity Montagu as Mrs. Bennet

Following sell-out performances in 2013, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s acclaimed production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, adapted for the stage by Simon Reade, returns this year to close the 2016 Summer Season ahead of a major UK Tour in September. Opening at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, the tour will then visit Norwich, Cambridge, Salford, Leicester, Woking, Truro, Birmingham and Richmond, with further dates in 2017.

Pride and Prejudice is the third Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production to tour the UK, following their smash hit productions of To Kill a Mockingbird in 2014/15 and Lord of the Flies in 2015/16.

Felicity Montagu will play Mrs. Bennet. Perhaps best known for playing the long-suffering PA Lynn inI’m Alan Partridge, a role she played in both the TV series and the 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Felicity was most recently seen playing Mrs Mainwaring in the 2016 film remake of Dad’s Army.Other notable roles include Perpetua in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Caroline Bosman in ITV’s Doc Martin and Sue 2 in BBC’s Nighty Night. Other film credits include I Want Candy and Confetti, and other television credits include The Durrells (ITV), Mapp and Lucia (BBC), and three series of Hank Zipzer (CBBC). On stage, Felicity has starred in Quartermaine’s Terms alongside Rowan Atkinson (Wyndham’s Theatre),The Shaughraun (National Theatre) and Angels in America (National Theatre).

One of the most universally loved and quintessentially English novels of all time, Pride and Prejudicetells the story of the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters. A family of humble means, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet see the perfect opportunity to improve their social standing when the wealthy Mr. Bingley and his eligible friend Mr. Darcy move to the neighbourhood. But while Bingley takes an immediate liking to their eldest daughter Jane, the dismissive Darcy instantly clashes with the Bennet’s headstrong second daughter, Elizabeth. As the Bennet sisters haplessly search for love in Jane Austen’s ultimate romantic comedy, it is Mr Darcy who unwittingly finds his match.

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies and spawning numerous adaptations, most notably the 1940 film starring Laurence Olivier and the 1995 BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth.  The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice was first staged in 2013 to celebrate the 200thAnniversary of the novel’s publication.

Pride and Prejudice is directed by Deborah Bruce, whose theatre credits include The Mysteries andHelen (Globe Theatre); Ingredient X and Made of Stone (Royal Court); Scarborough (Edinburgh FringeFirst Award, Assembly Rooms/Royal Court); Blame (Arcola / York Theatre Royal) and Mrs Warren’s Profession (Bristol Old Vic). It is designed by Max Jones, whose credits include The Crucible(Manchester Royal Exchange); The Tempest (Globe Theatre); The Merry Wives of Windsor (RSC) and Of Mice and Men (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Costume design is by Tom Piper, who designed the iconicBlood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. His theatre design credits include Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre and West End); Love For Love (RSC) and The King’s Speech (UK Tour).

Pride and Prejudice is adapted for the stage by Simon Reade. Simon is currently Producer for Filter Theatre, and was previously Artistic Director at the Bristol Old Vic where he directed his own adaptations of Geraldine McCaughrean’s Not the End of the World and Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, which has played in London and on tour extensively.

Further casting is to be announced.

“A perfect Pride and Prejudice: skittish, comical, easy on the eye and moving”

Daily Mail





Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Scandalous Life and Fast Times of Lord Byron Review

Leicester Square Theatre 24 – 28 May.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Now, I must admit that I don’t know much about Byron. I’ve watched the film about Lady Caroline Lamb, heard a few poems and read about the scandals, but that’s about it. Luckily you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this show.

Leicester Square Theatre’s lounge is ideal for this intimate show. As you walk in, what looks like the local upper class drunk is sitting at the bar, but as the doors close, he gets up and introduces himself as Lord Byron.

Paul Huntley-Thomas prowls around the lounge in tails and proceeds to read one of his poems while standing precariously on a chair. This is a world weary, inward looking Byron, moaning about people only remembering him for a few of his poems, regaling the audience with scandalous tales, and questioning the whole illusion of fame and legend.

Funny, shabby and charismatic, Huntley-Thomas plays Byron with great charm, making scathing comments about the venue while flirting outrageously with the audience. He reacts brilliantly to unexpected noises and the moment he noticed twins in the audience was fantastic.

The evening is full of laughs and caustic humour, and Byron’s political views are highlighted, with a great joke about the future of Greece. There are some beautiful quieter moments where Byron’s whole aspect changes as he describes his dead lovers and daughter. The section where he reminisces about Shelley’s death and the ghost story challenge that led to Frankenstein is followed by a barnstorming reading of “Darkness”.

45 minutes is too short a time to be in the company of such a great character, played so well, and it flies by. Apparently you can book Lord Byron to attend your own soiree – that would be fun.

A wonderful show – well worth a look.

Becoming Hattie Review

Leicester Square Theatre 24 – 28 May.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Becoming Hattie is a fantastic one-woman show, with a powerhouse performance from Ashley Christmas.

As Jo, Christmas presents an outwardly strong actress with great ambition, but stuck in bit part roles as cleaners because of her size. Jo is bubbly and loud, full of enthusiasm and love of life, so her emotional reactions to snide comments and jokes about her weight are all the more moving. Jo tells of the first time, aged 8, that she saw Jacques on TV, in “Sykes”. There was a woman just like her, and people were laughing with her, not at her.

We get a snapshot of Jo’s career, including the fantastical background stories and names she gives characters such as “Domestic number 8”. The moment she has with Sherlock and her tabard character dance are superb. Her frustration at always wearing tabards is taken out on her awful agent Cinda. Cinda has a sociopathic child, Aslan, and she is always having Joyce Grenfell moments shrieking at him – simply wonderful. And then she gets the chance to play Lady Macbeth…

Hattie Jacques’ life is introduced by using audience members to take part as Desert Island Discs hosts – a lovely conceit. The difference between smooth, sophisticated Hattie and bubbly Jo is played beautifully by Christmas. Jacques’ marriage to John Le Mesurier and her affair with John Scofield are explored – with tear-jerking speeches explaining her choices, and a gorgeous story to her son ending with her warning him to never throw away a diamond.

Both Jo and Hattie are shown suffering from being type cast because of their size – with contrasting, but equally effecting responses to the casting directors. Jo’s climactic rant when she is reading for the part of Hattie Jacques is devastatingly raw and powerful.

This is a show that tackles the serious issue of prejudice and diversity with skill, charm and humour. Christmas has the audience in the palm of her hand from the moment she walks on stage, and her energetic and charismatic performance makes this a sure fire hit.

Edward Bond’s Dea Review

Secombe Theatre, Sutton 26 May – 11 June. Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Oh dear. Inspired by Greek tragedy, this play ends up feeling more like Carry On, Don’t Lose Your Head” – but with more (unitntentional) laughs.

Edward Bond is a celebrated and respected writer, and there are glimpses of profound ideas, but it is all lost in a long (very long) evening of turgid, repetitive dialogue interrupted by escalating moments of schlock horror and violence.

The play begins looking like an AmDram production. Dea’s officer husband barks lines at her while she sits silently. The initial act of violence is the only time in the play that gasps of true shock are heard. Dea smothers her twin babies and then batters them with her stiletto heel. When her husband (who looks at least 20 years too young for the role) discovers her crime, he rapes her. This scene, although breathtakingly stilted, at least builds some tension, which is immediately shattered by the stage crew struggling to fit props through the door and jingling their keys.

The action jumps forward 18 years and the war has escalated, the asylum has been bombed, and Dea returns to her husband’s house. She meets one of her twin sons, Olly (the result of the post-murder rape) and moves in. One attempted rape, stabbing, incest and another stabbing later, Dea leaves to find her other son – a soldier. There was some dialogue, but it really didn’t make an impact amongst lots of stifled giggles.

Act 2 takes place inside an army tent. A hooded female prisoner has been brought inside and the officer is trying to extract information from her. The officer, slightly mad, is obviously the other son, so eventually Dea turns up as well. Hammering home the atrocities of war, the officer orders the men to gang rape the prisoner to get her to talk. It all gets so ridiculous that, in the dramatic climax of the scene, when gang necrophilia and a son raping his mother is taking place on stage, more giggling was heard. It was a relief when a bomb ended it all and the bar opened.

Act 3 sees Dea living in a caravan surrounded by junk and talking to the decapitated head of her officer son. A deserter from his company appears and there is some decent dialogue about sanity and peace, but any stirring hope and interest in the play is diminished when the head gets flung across the stage. The giggles started again, and while Helen Bang (the most accomplished performance on show) was trying to die with dignity in what seemed like the longest death scene ever written, shoulders were shaking all around me, and not with sobbing.

Edward Bond directed this production. It is his baby, but he has made the mistake of all overindulgent parents, ignoring its flaws and seeing greatness where there is only something barely average. In the hands of a different director, perhaps some judicious pruning and better dramaturgy could result in an interesting and provocative piece.

As it stands, Dea is an ungainly, self-indulgent, awkward sequence of brutality and boredom that is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

A View From Islington North Review

Arts Theatre 26 May – 2 July.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

This evening of political satire has its moments, but with 5 pieces by 5 different writers, the quality is variable.

The show begins with The Mother by Mark Ravenhill. Written in 2007, the piece has lost none of its power as we watch two hapless soldiers trying to inform a woman of the death of her son. Sarah Alexander is heartbreaking as the mother who launches into hysterical foul mouthed rants and tries every diversionary tactic she can to avoid hearing their words. As great as this is, this is the part of the production that, for me, doesn’t fit in. Yes, it brings home that real lives are lost because of political gamesmanship, but the final moments of dramatic and pure grief are immediately pushed aside and dismissed as the next, lighter, item begins – just like TV news I suppose.

Tickets Are Now On Sale by Caryl Churchill is a two-hander with a middle class jolly couple having a chat, which repeats with corporate slogans, soundbites and jargon replacing normal speech. A dig at corporate sponsorship, but ends up just feeling like filler as the set is changed.

The Accidental Leader by Alistair Beaton, is where the belly laughs begin. Bruce Alexander’s backbencher is in a pub quietly pulling strings and orchestrating a mass resignation of MPs in protest at their leader, who, to the party’s horror, appears to have principles and cares about more than just winning the next election. No names are used; they don’t need to be. This is what people imagine is going on in the Labour party, and the public’s opinions about MP’s motives and the influence of the press on their decisions are played with cleverly. The writing is good, but unfortunately, after The Thick Of It and Yes Minister, it needs to be brilliant to make an impact, and this isn’t quite in that league.

The standout play is Ayn Rand Takes A Stand by David Hare, with the wit and intelligence you would expect from his work. Ann Mitchell steals the show with her wonderfully languid, weird performance as Ayn Rand. At first, you’ll have no clue what is going on in this surreal white room. A Russian woman is regaling an uncomfortable looking man called Gideon with her views on selling oranges. Eventually it becomes clear that the man is George Osborne (Steve John Shepherd – managing to make Osborne seem human) and their talk turns to free market, free will and free speech. Enter Theresa May (Jane Wymark – spot on) and a gloriously absurd circular argument about free speech and May’s championing of it, as long as it doesn’t threaten “British values” begins. Rand then defends the need for immigration and free movement of labour from a purely capitalist viewpoint, but with wonderful emotion and eloquence. How Wymark reacts to all of this is brilliant.

How To Get Ahead In Politics by Stella Feehily suffers from following such a wonderful play. It’s not bad, dealing with a chief whip managing claims of sexual harassment against candidates, his devious solutions and the hypocrisy and double standards of political life, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Again, Malcolm Tucker and Sir Humphrey Appleby cast long shadows.

The show ends with a fantastic song by Billy Bragg, No Buddy, No sung competently by the cast.

Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, A View From Islington North is an entertaining evening of satire, and worth going just to see Ann Mitchell ‘s amazing Ayn Rand.

Guys and Dolls Review

Grand Theatre, Leeds – 25 May 2016

I’ve never seen Guys and Dolls before so I’m not sure if I am upset this has passed me by or happy I have finally found this wonderful gem of a show.

Set in the 1950’s with some beautiful fashions and lovely costumes, Guys and Dolls tells a story of good versus evil.  Gamblers versus God.

Nathan Detroit (Maxwell Caulfield) a hustler looking for a place to hold a crap game has been engaged to Miss Adelaide, a dancer, for 14 years with no sign of a wedding.  Desperate to find $1000 he bets that Sky Masterton (Richard Fleeshman) won’t be able to take Sister Sarah Brown, the Salvationist, to Havana

Adelaide (Lucy Jane Adcock) has told her mother, in weekly letters, that Nathan married her 12 years ago and they now have 5 children and another on the way.  In “Miss Adelaide’s Lament“, she sings that she has a cold due to psychosomatic problems whilst waiting for Nathan to marry her “Just from waiting around. For that little band of gold. A person can develop a cold”

Sarah Brown (Anna O’Byrne) wants to reform all the gamblers and low life at her Salvation Army mission.  A bet with Sky gets her 12 sinners in to her prayer meeting to impress her boss, General Cartwright (Melanie Marshall).  She falls in love with Sky but like Adelaide, she wants to change him. Not realising they wouldn’t be the men she fell in love with if they change them.

The show is filled with fabulous songs and excellent choreography but it is the show stopping “Sit down, you’re rockin the boat” which captivates the show.  Sung by Nicely Nicely Johnson (the wonderful Jack Edwards), this is a joyous moment in a wonderful show

In Leeds until 28 May and on tour around the UK

Gangsta Granny Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 24 May 2016

This hilarious and moving story from David Walliams is a story of prejudice and acceptance.

Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But Ben doesn’t know she is a Gangsta Granny.

Walliams described Birmingham Stage Company’s touring adaptation of Gangsta Granny after its opening-night performance: “A fantastic show. It’s so much better than the book!” so you can’t get much higher praise

Everything about director/adaptor Neal Foster’s approach is fun, colourful sets unfold like picture-book pop-outs, there’s a lot of music and every comic opportunity is grasped (gran’s mobility scooter is a slow-moving hoot); there’s even an up-to-the-minute gag about 5p plastic bags.  The production itself is full of vigour and the cast are rarely offstage, doubling as dancing set-changers even when they are not in a scene. All of them display great energy, which never drops

Told through the eyes of 11 year old Ben (Ashley Cousins). Each Friday night whilst his self-obsessed parents go off to ballroom dance and watch Strictly Stars Dancing, Ben is unceremoniously dumped at his grandma’s with hardly a word of hello.

There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be sooooooooo boring! But when Ben discovers some gems in a biscuit tin and realises his Granny (Gilly Tompkins)  has a secret, life becomes much more exciting for both of them.  Carefully treading a moral line, the story tells us that Granny never profited from her crimes, committed them only for the “buzz” and has come to the view that stealing is wrong. Nevertheless, she has never succeeded in her dream of stealing (and returning) the Crown Jewels. Can Ben use his encyclopaedic knowledge of plumbing to help Granny pull off the crime of the century, even under the nose of Mr Parker, local neighbourhood watch supremo and busybody?

The characters are very much larger than life and almost pantomime-like, but this adds to the energy of the piece which moves along at a cracking pace and holds the younger audience members attention. Add in a slick, detailed and well-designed rotating set, some niftily choreographed scene changes and some colourful costumes and you have a rounded production which is appealing and enjoyable.

This play because it appeals to all ages and is not gender specific. It is relevant to today’s society where old people can be viewed as insignificant. This play has a comical way of dealing with this stereotype, turning it completely on its head.  Filled with laughter and farts, its funny and poignant and a fabulous night out

In Darlington until Saturday 28th and on tour around the UK

The Quentin Dentin Show Review

Above The Arts Theatre  16 – 28 May.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

The Quentin Dentin Show is a wonderfully weird rock musical that takes a skewed and scathing look at the foibles of modern life.
Stagnating in a dead end relationship, Nat and Keith accidently summon the supernatural therapist Quentin Dentin to their flat. His methods are unusual to say the least, and just what is his hidden agenda?
The show starts quietly – as the audience takes their seats, the 3 piece band (Mickey Howard, Archman Wolfie and Henry Carpenter – writer, composer and musical director) plays waiting room muzak while 3 eccentric white clad chaacters explore the place like childlike robots. Nat and Keith are introduced, Quentin Dentin appears and the show explodes into one of the most unpredictable and insane hours of your life.
Quentin finds the couple two friends and makes them live out their fantasies – using only a battered old sofa as a prop, we are taken to art galleries, under the sea, and outer space – but nothing makes them happy, and nobody likes you if you’re not happy!
The story is basically bonkers, but brilliant – any show that includes songs about lemons, space (“there’s literally no pressure!”) and the ocean (that plays like “Under the Sea” on a bad acid trip), showcases the worst gold lamé suit ever created and makes everything that happened to Alice in Wonderland seem completely logical is a sure fire hit.
Luke Lane is phenomenal as Quentin. It’s as if someone distilled John Barrowman, Edmund Blackadder, Billy Graham, Jerry Springer and Marge Proops, added a gazillion blue Smarties and shook vigorously. He belts out his songs and is hysterical as he becomes more and more manic when his methods keep failing. His lines are delivered with sly and oily charm at first but soon he is threatening to insert stress eggs into Nat and Keith’s bodies, twitching and shouting “It’s not fascism if it’s good for you!”
Shauna Riley and Jamie Tibke are great as Nat and Keith – more an owner/pet relationship than two adults as he bounds around the set like a puppy. Felix Denton and Lydia Costello as Friends 1 and 2 are full of energy, very funny and pop up all over the place.
A fantastic production. You don’t need therapy to be happy, just go see The Quentin Dentin Show.

The Machine Stops Review

Theatre Royal, York.  Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

The Machine Stops, a dystopian novella written by EM Forster in 1909, is brought to life through Neil Duffield’s new adaptation, directed by Juliet Forster (no relation) and features a soundtrack composed by John Foxx, founder member of Ultravox.

Staged in the Studio of York Theatre Royal, with approximately 100 seats, creating a close and intimate ambience. In the middle of the stage sat a metallic climbing frame and a chair. This minimalistic set showed the dystopian nature of the performance.

In a post-apocalyptic world mankind now lives underground, each in their own individual unit, with no windows and no physical contact with anyone, everything is done through The Machine. Marcia Gray and Gareth Aled are the cogs in The Machine, acrobatically twisting and turning through the metal climbing frame, responding to Vashti’s commands. Both Marcia and Gareth showed their gymnastic capabilities to great effect, weaving through the frame. You certainly believed that they were The Machine.

We see Vashti (Caroline Gruber) taking centre stage communicating with others through The Machine via what can I only describe as a “tablet”. She is always “busy”, even though she never leaves her room, struggles to walk through inactivity, but seems content with her life. Her relationship with The Machine is the be all and end all in her existence. She is more of a machine than The Machine itself, just a piece of flesh, never moving from her chair.

On the other side of the world is her son Kuno (Karl Queensborough), pleading with his mother to come and visit, they have had no physical contact since birth. He longs to rebel against The Machine, explore above ground and breathe in the air, craving human contact. His performance shows great physicality and dexterity as he gets more desperate.

Needless to say things so go wrong and The Machine Stops!

This was 90 minutes of nonstop compelling theatre and it was great to watch. The cast of four proves that you don’t need a large cast to put on a great show.

To think that this was written over 100 years ago with notions of the computer technology, instant messaging and facetime we use today, showing the dangers of isolation and the effects upon society. It certainly sends out a chilling message.

York Theatre Royal until 4th June

The Point, Eastleigh – 8th & 9th June

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth – 10th & 11th June

Platform Shift Festival, Budapest – 15th – 19th June