Wilton’s Music Hall has its pantomime debut with Roy Hudd’s Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington and his trusty cat Tommy return to the heart of London from 1st to 31st December 2015 in the beautifully restored Wilton’s Music Hall.

The oldest surviving grand music hall anywhere in the world, Wilton’s Music Hall will be staging its first traditional family pantomime. Dick will be treading the golden streets of London looking to make his fortune and of course there are dames, baddies, romance, danger and evil rats a-plenty in toe.

For veteran comedian, actor, writer and broadcaster Roy Hudd, it was love at first sight. Having spent decades writing, directing and performing in pantomime, Roy Hudd fell in love with Wilton’s and has written this special version of Dick Whittington especially for the venue itself. The story will take the audience on a magical voyage from London’s docks to a far-off Sultan’s Palace and back.

Roy, an authority on the history of musical hall entertainment, said: “Together with music hall, pantomime is Britain’s great contribution to the world of popular entertainment. To be part of a true family show in the oldest music hall in Europe is a dream come true.

Directing is Roy’s wife, Debbie Flitcroft, who readily admits that she’s learnt everything she knows about pantomime from her other half whom she met whilst working on her first ever pantomime at The Theatre Royal Nottingham. This will be her 14th year directing pantomime, but her first guiding her old man. Debbie has hand-picked a stellar cast of season panto performers including; Simon Burbage, Gareth Davies, Nicole Davis , Steven Hardcastle, Amelia Rose Morgan , Ian Parkin & Josh Tevendale. Like Roy, Debbie is bowled over to be working with such a terrific cast at the magical venue that is Wilton’s Music Hall.

The spectacular Dick Whittington will be a delight for all the family this Christmas. So if you’re looking for an alternative to busy high street crowds and want that traditional tingly Christmas feeling, come on down to Wilton’s; get cosy and warm the cockles of your heart, enjoy a tiddly wink or warm cup of mulled wine, gorgeous mince pies and mouth-watering food from Bliss Catering. The sheer magical beauty of Wilton’s music hall will truly encapsulate the festive season.

Ticket Information
1-31 December 2015
Matinee show start-time: 2pm
Evening show start-time: 7pm

Disney’s The Lion King Musical celebrates 16th birthday in London

The West End production of Disney’s The Lion King celebrates its 16th birthday today.

The multi award-winning musical opened at London’s Lyceum Theatre on 19th October 1999 and has since been seen by over twelve million people. It is the fourth longest-running musical currently playing in the West End, behind Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia!, and the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

The Lion King is the powerful and moving story of Simba – the epic adventure of his journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.

Once the Lion Prince Simba is born, his evil uncle Scar is relegated to second in line to the throne. Scar plots to kill both Simba and his father, King Mufasa, before proclaiming himself King. Simba however, survives the plot. He is however, led to believe that his father died because of him and so he decides to flee the kingdom.

The stage musical is based on Disney’s 1994 animated film of the same name and made its world premiere on Broadway in 1997, following a short run at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Director Julie Taymor’s reimagined story features a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi and Hans Zimmer’s original film score, along with Music by Elton John, Lyrics by Tim Rice and additional songs by Julie Taymor, Mark Mancina and Lebo M, who also produced the choral arrangements. It also has Choreography by Garth Fagan, Scenic Design by Richard Hudson, Lighting Design by Donald Holder, Mask and Puppet Co-Design by Michael Curry and Julie Taymor, Costume Design by Julie Taymor, Hair and Make-Up Design by Michael Ward, Sound Design by Steve Canyon Kennedy and Musical Supervision by Clement Ishmael. It is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

The musical features actors in in animal costumes and incorporates the use of puppetry.

The Lion King won six Tony Awards on Broadway, including Best Musical, and the West End production went on to be nominated for eight Lawrence Oliver Awards, winning Best Theatre Choreographer and Best Costume Design. The musical is a global hit and has now been seen by over 75 million people across six continents, having played in such places as Hamburg, Madrid, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, and many more. The first ever UK tour of the show was launched in 2012.

The West End production overtook Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera last year as the most successful musical of all time, grossing $6.2 million worldwide. In January 2015, Disney released licensed 30-minute and 70-minute school versions of The Lion King for primary and secondary schools.

The current West End cast stars Jonathan Andrew Hume as Simba. The principal line-up also features Ava Brennan as Nala, George Asprey as Scar, Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa, Brown Lindiwe Mkhize as Rafiki, Howard Gossington as Zazu, Richard Frame as Timon, Keith Bookman as Pumbaa, and Nadine Higgin, David Blake and Mark McGee as hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. The role of Young Simba is shared by Geoffrey Berrisford, Kai Kennan-Felix, Taylor Keenan-Felix and Amir Wilson. The role of Young Nala is shared by India Brown, Indie Gjesdal, Amma Ris, and Kira Spencer Brown.

The Lion King remains one of the best loved West End musicals ever as it enters its record-breaking 17th year in London. Happy 16th birthday to The Lion King! Here’s to many more years to come…


The Lion King
Lyceum Theatre
21 Wellington Street
London, WC2E 7RQ
Evenings: Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday, Saturday amd Sunday 2.30pm
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Age Restrictions: The Lion King is recommended for children aged 6 and over. Under 3s will not be admitted.

WICKED musical welcomes 7 millionth theatregoer

WICKED, the West End musical that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, welcomed its 7 millionth visitor on Saturday 17th October 2015. Andrew Bell attended the performance with his wife Katie Bell and enjoyed a back stage visit with the cast after the performance.

Wicked is now in its 10th year and around the world, Wicked has been seen by nearly 50 million people in 13 countries and won over 100 international awards. The original Broadway production remains “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times) after 12 years at the Gershwin Theatre. Wicked won the much coveted 2015 Olivier Audience Award.

Wicked stars: Emma Hatton (Elphaba), Savannah Stevenson (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Liza Sadovy (Madame Morrible), Tom McGowan (The Wizard), Sean Kearns (Doctor Dillamond), Daniel Hope (Boq), Katie Rowley Jones (Nessarose), Natalie Andreou (Standby for Elphaba) and Carina Gillespie (Standby for Glinda).

Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wicked has music and lyrics by multi Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz, a book by Winnie Holzman, musical staging by Wayne Cilento and is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner and Olivier Award nominee Joe Mantello. Wicked is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire.

Wicked is produced by: Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK): Michael McCabe.
Wicked Musical London
Apollo Victoria Theatre
17 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG
Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Age Restrictions: Recommended for ages 7 and over (children under 4 not admitted).
Show Opened: 27th September 2006
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm


Irving Berlin’s Family Visit The Smallest Show On Earth

Irving Berlin’s family paid a special visit to watch the show, and to meet the cast and producers Brian Eastman and Christabel Albery, of The Smallest Show on Earth on stage at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on 8 October 2015

Cast members Brian Capron, Liza Goddard, Laura Pitt-Pulford and Haydn Oakley with Irving Berlin relatives (L-R) daughter Linda Emmet grand-daughter Caroline Emmet and niece Emily Fletcher
Cast members Brian Capron, Liza Goddard, Laura Pitt-Pulford and Haydn Oakley with Irving Berlin relatives (L-R) daughter Linda Emmet grand-daughter Caroline Emmet and niece Emily Fletcher

Linda Emmet, daughter of Irving Berlin (centre back row) with cast members and producers of The Smallest Show on Earth photo Fran Dale Haydn Oakley and Brian Capron meet Irving Berlin's daughter Linda Emmet photo Fran Dale Brian Capron, Liza Goddard, Haydn Oakley meet Irving Berlin's daughter Linda Emmet photo Fran Dale

Behind the Scenes Look at Recording of ELF Original London Cast Soundtrack

download (26)Behind the scenes footage from the ELF Original London Cast Soundtrack recording session.The London premiere of the musical ELF is based on the 2003 New Line Cinema hit starring Will Ferrell.  ELF features a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, with songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. The cast of the London production is led by Ben Forster, Kimberley Walsh, Joe McGann and Jessica Martin.


On Silva Screen Records – release date 23 October 2015



Newcastle Theatre Royal has been voted the most welcoming Theatre in the entire UK.  This major industry award was made yesterday at the 2015 UK Theatre Awards held in London’s Guildhall.

Over 256 theatres of all sizes from across the UK entered the award, which is voted for entirely by the public.  In total over 40,000 votes were cast for theatres up and down the country – the most since the award was created in 2013. Last week the Theatre Royal team was told they had been shortlisted as regional winner for the North East but the news that they had secured the top award was not announced until 3pm yesterday afternoon.


The My Theatre Matters! UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre Award in association with Smooth Radio is one of the most coveted of the UK Theatre Awards – the only nationwide awards to honour outstanding achievement in theatre throughout the United Kingdom.


Over 400 UK Theatre members and guests attended the Awards ceremony in London compèred by musical theatre star Michael Xavier, with appearances from guest presenters including Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Barbara Windsor MBE, Richard Wilson OBE, Anne Reid MBE and Lee Mead.


Theatre Royal Chief Executive Philip Bernays was down in the capital to receive the award: “We are so honoured with this win – in the UK theatre sector this is probably the most coveted accolade of all.  We strive to excel in everything that we do in order to attract the biggest audiences and the best shows in what is a very competitive market, and the word ‘Welcome’ continues to be our central mantra. This award is an outstanding achievement and true testament to the effort and dedication of our staff, who always go ‘one step beyond’.”


There are nineteen awards on offer in total, covering a huge wealth of merit in the industry ranging from Best New Play to Best Design, Best Show for Children, and Achievement in Opera. Another notable winner was Theatre Royal regular and Friends’ Patron Matthew Bourne who won The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre.


Theatre Royal Chairman Cllr Ged Bell, said: “We were shortlisted for this award last year and narrowly missed out, and it’s a great delight to us to have won it in 2015 – when there were more nominations and votes cast than ever before.  We believe that our team are indeed one of the most dedicated and passionate in the country, and they are thoroughly deserving of this honour.  A big thank you to them, and of course to our audiences and supporters for voting for us.”


Rachel Tackley, President of UK Theatre, said: “We have been delighted to see the tremendous level of support for theatres across the United Kingdom.  Theatres play a hugely valuable role in our local communities and this vote, along with the My Theatre Matters! campaign, provides a platform for the public to tell their stories about how important their local venue is to them.”


It’s been a good month for the Theatre – last Monday, Newcastle Theatre Royal also won Receiving Venue Team of the Year in the prestigious Technical Theatre Awards (TTA) which recognises the staff who work behind the scenes and highlights the excellence of one venue which stands out above all others, as voted for by touring theatre technicians.

The Theatre Royal’s Annual Report for 2014/15 details record breaking figures for the charity. It was the Theatre’s best ever in terms of ticket sales, with a total of £10.3m worth of tickets sold, 44 visiting theatre, opera, ballet and dance companies welcomed and 406 performances presented to a staggering 405,681 people. The attendance for the year was also at 80% capacity, which is an astonishing 21% above the national average.

MAMMA MIA! London Extends Booking Period




The global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! at London’s Novello Theatre is now extending its booking period until 22 October 2016, taking the show through to its 18th playing year in London.

MAMMA MIA!  Musical LondoMAMMA MIA! stars Dianne Pilkington as Donna Sheridan, Mazz Murray as Tanya, Jo Napthine as Rosie, Gabriella Williams as Sophie Sheridan, James Darch as Sky, Richard Trinder as Sam, Alasdair Harvey as Harry, Charles Daish as Bill, Louise Young as Ali, Stephanie Fearon as Lisa, Dan Partridge as Pepper and Rory Phelan as Eddie. At certain performances, the role of Donna Sheridan is played by Shona White.

download (28)From West End to global phenomenon, MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise.  To date, it has been seen by 60 million people in 49 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $2 billion at the box office.

MAMMA MIA! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004.  The musical re-opened at the Novello Theatre in 2012.


The London production of MAMMA MIA! has been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population.  The show has celebrated over 6,500 performances in London and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.  In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.   


Produced by Judy Craymer, MAMMA MIA! The Movie, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, is the highest grossing live action musical film of all time.


With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch.


MAMMA MIA! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.



Novello Theatre


London WC2B 4LD

Monday to Friday Prices:  £65.00, £37.50, £20.00, £15.00

Saturday Prices:  £67.50*, £52.50, £39.50, £25.00, £15.00

*£69.50 from 26 October 2015

Please note: Saturday pricing applies to all performances 26-30 October 2015, 28 December 2015 – 2 January 2016, 15-20 February 2016, 25 March – 9 April 2016, 30 May – 4 June 2016 and 25 July – 3 September 2016.

A £2.25 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked online, and a £2.75 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked by phone. No booking fee on tickets purchased in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office.

All prices include £1.25 restoration levy.

Early Bird Pricing – anyone booking four months or more in advance of the performance they are attending (Monday to Thursday performances only) will be able to purchase £65 tickets for £45, a saving of £20 on the regular top price, but only through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, either online, in person at the theatre, or by calling the Novello Theatre Box Office.

Performance Times:

Monday – Saturday 7.45pm

Matinees – Thursday & Saturday 3.00pm*

*extra Tuesday matinees on 27 October 2015, 16 February 2016 and 9 & 23 August 2016

Christmas 2015/16 Performance Schedule

Monday 21 December                              7.45pm

Tuesday 22 December                             3.00pm and 7.45pm

Wednesday 23 December                        3.00pm and 7.45pm

Thursday 24 December                            NO PERFORMANCE

Friday 25 December                                 NO PERFORMANCE

Saturday 26 December                            3.00pm and 7.45pm

Monday 28 December                              3.00pm and 7.45pm

Tuesday 29 December                             3.00pm and 7.45pm

Wednesday 30 December                        3.00pm and 7.45pm

Thursday 31 December                            3.00pm

Friday 1 January                                       7.45pm

Saturday 2 January                                  3.00pm and 7.45pm

Currently booking to 22 October 2016

The performance lasts 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)

Box Office: 0844 482 5115









1 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgNew production images of the cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda The Musical are now available. Evie Hone and Lizzie Wells have joined Anna-Louise Knight and Lara McDonnell in the title role, alongside Michael Begley (Mr Wormwood), Miria Parvin (Miss Honey) and Rebecca Thornhill (Mrs Wormwood). Craige Els will continue in the role of Miss Trunchbull. Matilda The Musical, which celebrates its 4th birthday on Sunday 25 October, is now booking at the Cambridge Theatre until 18 December 2016.6 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Rebecca Thornhill (Mrs Wormwood) Credit Manuel Harlan.jpg

Capturing the imagination of young and old alike, Matilda The Musical has now received 50 awards in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and New York, and has been seen by over three million people worldwide. The London and Broadway productions of Matilda The Musical have been joined by the US tour which opened in Los Angeles in May. After opening to rave reviews at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 20 August, the Australian production has just announced it will open at Melbourne’s Princess 5 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Sharlene Whyte (Mrs Phelps) Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgTheatre from 13 March 2016 for a strictly limited season.

The young performers who play the roles of Bruce, Lavender, Amanda, Nigel, Eric and the other pupils at Crunchem Hall are as follows: Leo Ayres, Charlie Barnard, Thomas Berry, Fifi Bloomsbury-Khier, Tilly Cook, Bronte Cosgrave, Ellie Dadd, Connor Deeks, Carla Dixon, Dayna Dixon, Denzel Eboji, Hannah Hague, Keyaan Hameed, Caoimhe Judd, Sophia Keaveney, Lia Moxom, Demi Olawoyin, Ben Perkins, Max Reader, Jason Rennie, Joe Sheridan, Jacob Smith, Eva Trodd, Harrison Vaughan and Jamie Wilding.8 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Miria Parvin (Miss Honey) and Craige Els (Miss Trunchbull) Credit

The adult cast includes Fabian Aloise, Robbie Boyle, John Brannoch, Oliver Brooks, Jonathan Cordin, Olly Dobson, Demi Goodman, Elliot Harper, Will Hawksworth, Kate Kenrick, Rachel Moran, Tom Muggeridge, Charlotte Scott, Matthew Serafini, Biancha Szynal, Laura Tyrer and Sharlene Whyte.

9 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Craige Els (Miss Trunchbull) Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgInspired by Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011. On 25 October, Matilda The Musical will celebrate its fourth anniversary in London with tickets now on sale until 18 December 2016 at the Cambridge Theatre.

Having swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, winning a record-breaking seven awards, Matilda The Musical has gone on to take Broadway by storm winning four Tony Awards® and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for each of the four girls sharing the title role. The New York production of Matilda The Musical, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Dodgers, opened in March 2013 at Broadway’s Shubert 10 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Michael Begley (Mr Wormwood) Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgTheatre.

Matilda The Musical is produced in the West End by the Royal Shakespeare Company with André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood as Executive Producers. The production was developed with the support of Company Dramaturg Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

Matilda The Musical is written by playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin, and direction by Matthew Warchus. The production is designed by Rob Howell, with 11 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Matilda The Musical Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgchoreography 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.

Listings Information


Cambridge Theatre,EarlhamStreet,WC2H 9HU
Booking until 18 December 2016
Tuesdays 7pm
Wednesday – Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday & Saturday 2:30pm
Sundays 3pm

Extra matinee performance – Thursday 29 October

Box Office: Cambridge Theatre 0844 412 4652 / RSC Ticket Hotline 0844 800 1110

To book online visit: www.matildathemusical.com

Empire Cinemas ‘Cin-sations’ study reveals the emotional power of cinema

image001 (3)Empire Cinemas’ Horror Cin-sations Study reveals the emotional power of cinema


Favourite scary moments in cinematic history revealed

  • Exorcist tops the scariest moments, ahead of Alien and Silence of the Lambs
  • Film Phobias – Over 5m1 people have developed a fear or phobia after watching a film
  • Psychologist Dr. Dave Lewis reveals how film causes powerful emotional responses
  • Released ahead of Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension on October 21st

Empire Cinemas, the UK’s largest independent cinema chain, is today releasing The Horror Cin-sations Study; a report exploring the most fearful film moments in history. This research is announced alongside commentary from psychologist Dr. Dave Lewis and ahead of the release of Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension on October 21, available to book now at www.empirecinemas.co.uk.

The research by Empire Cinemas, whose ethos is “lose yourself in film”, reveals that fear is an emotion keenly sought by cinemagoers and many film fans actively choose to watch a scary film to feel alive (14%).Almost one fifth (17%) of the UK say the most scared they have ever felt in their lives was when watching a film in the cinema, whilst the equivalent of over 5m1 people (11%) claim to have developed a phobia or fear after viewing a film on the big screen.

Psychologist, Dr. Dave Lewis says:  “When it comes to creating feelings of terror, movie makers have a number of powerful psychological tricks up their sleeve. One is to provoke what is called the ‘startle’ response. This is a primitive, inbuilt, reaction to anything unexpected and therefore potentially threatening. It triggers the audiences’ ‘fight or flight’ survival system; adrenalin floods through their bodies, their pupils widen, muscles tense, palms become sweaty, mouths go dry and pulses race. By combining a startling image, such as the moment an alien bursts from Kane’s chest, with suitably fear arousing music a director can produce gasps of horror from an audience. These involuntary reactions intensify the terror for everyone.”

The list of terrorising big screen moments was topped by the head-spinning scene in the Exorcist. The alien stomach-bursting scene, from Ridley Scott-directed sci-fi horror film Alien, put the fear into several respondents (21%) as did the genre-busting horror film Psycho, were Marion was stabbed in the shower, and the butchering of a prison guard in Silence of the Lambs (both 17%).

The Top Scary Moments in Cinematic History


Exorcist – Regan’s head-spinning scene  



Alien –  alien bursts out of the Kane’s chest



Psycho – the merciless stabbing of Marion



Silence of the LambsLector attacks the prison guard



Carriethe hand emerges from the grave 



Jaws – Hopper finds Gardner’s boat


Delving deeper into the minds of different generations, it seems the horrors that have graced our screens in more recent years may well be scary to the younger generation of film lovers, but the older generation are more frightened by the classics. One quarter (26%) of 18-24 year olds voted the scene from The Ring (2002) of the girl emerging from the TV as their scariest cinematic movie moment, compared to just 5% of over 55’s. Whereas just 8% of 18-24’s voting the stabbing of Marion in Psycho (1960) as their scariest movie moment, compared to 28% of over 55’s.

The study also looked into how horror movies affect men and women differently. It appears men (17%)feel more alive when watching a horror film than women (11%). Additionally, more men (10%) than women (5%) admit that horror films have actually helped condition them to fear.

Jon Nutton, Marketing Director for Empire Cinemas said:  “Who hasn’t left a cinema with feelings of genuine fear after watching either a classic horror film or one of the modern day thrillers? Recent box office smash hits such as Insidious and The Babadook have triggered the emotions of millions of filmgoers and Paranormal Activity is set to heighten the senses for many more.”

“The immersive power of the medium lets cinemagoers lose themselves in film and this study shows how a visit to the silver screen provides an emotional release.  At Empire Cinemas, our relentless pursuit of the ultimate cinema experience awakens the senses of film lovers across the UK.”


For further information and listings on all forthcoming films, visit www.empirecinemas.co.uk.   



King’s Cross Theatre until Sunday 3rd January 2016.  Reviewed by Catherine Françoise

5 stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Blown A~Waaaaaay by phenomenal energy and performance excellence !! What a cast, band and creative team! I can’t wait to see it again!

In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical and returns to London again after creating a storm last year in its critically acclaimed sell out off West End run at The Southwark Playhouse. Reclaimed disused platforms at the back of Kings Cross Station have been transformed into a brand new purpose built theatre and provide an evocative and unique performing space for this vibrant, youthful blast of energy and creativity. I knew very little about the show (deliberately so) so came to it ‘fresh’ and frankly I was blown away! Tremendous in every possible way! Score, script, direction, band, singing, acting, choreography, dancing, location, costumes. set, effects, staging, atmosphere ~ Beyond BRILLIANT!

Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda who also wrote the music & lyrics and starred in the original Broadway production, with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, In The Heights was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards winning four: Best Musical, Best Original Score Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman). It also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and was nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and it is clear why ~ Miranda is a fresh, energised new writing voice and has been called the most electrifying force in musical theatre for a decade having followed In The Heights with the hottest ticket on Broadway right now ~ the hip hop musical Hamilton ~ in which we follow the life of USA founding father Alexander Hamilton and cabinet meetings are depicted as epic rap battles.

In London In The Heights is brilliantly directed by Luke Sheppard, with breath-taking choreography once again from Drew McOnie who won the off West End Award for best choreography at Southwark. He has a cast of incredible dancers to showcase his work who give their all in bright vibrant costumes and trainers and then some more! Phenomenal energy, shapes, style, sexy and sassy and truly exhilarating to watch! Although essentially an ensemble show, each character is a strong individual.

Musically In the Heights is a Joyous blast of energy and creative genius giving a disparate yet close community its multicultural voice through a pastiche of hip-hop, salsa, pop, latin and Caribbean influences in catchy tunes and urban lyrics. The band led by Ton Deering are truly superb.

The story focuses on the everyday struggles of immigrant tenement dwellers in a Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City over three days. Despite hardships, difficulties, conflicts, tensions, poverty and culture clashes, bridges are built, relationships are healed, joy triumphs over sadness and reasons are found to throw a salsa-swinging street party. Some may query a lack of ‘grit’ and seedier aspects of city living, but frankly it’s refreshing to watch a story that all generations can be inspired and uplifted by ~ contemporary Musical Theatre for all generations.

As for the incredibly hard working cast there are no weak links whatsoever and ALL deliver powerhouse performances ~ Sam Mackay plays high energy narrator and rapper Usnavi who as the owner of a cornershop bodega is at the centre of the community and sees what’s happening…“Everybody’s stressed, yes, but they press through the mess / Bounce checks and wonder what’s next.” Usnavi is infatuated with Vanessa, a stunning Jade Ewan who works at the beauty salon and is desperate to move away from her alcoholic mother and other neighbourhood problems but frustrated by a bad credit score. Nina (Lily Frazer) is the first in her family to get to university but is back from Stanford University for the summer having lost her scholarship, dropped out and, even more distressing for her parents (David Bedella and Josie Benson) who own a small taxi and limousine business, has fallen for uneducated Benny (Joe Aaron Reid), a good-natured and ambitious employee of theirs but not from the same cultural background with no prospects (as far as they can see) for their high flying daughter. Ewan, Frazer, Bedella and Benson are tremendous singers and give powerful, poignant performances. Elsewhere, the lease on Daniela’s (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt) beauty parlour has run out and the rent has been raised but she’s going with her head held high. Abuela Claudia (Eve Polycarpu) as the older and wise woman in the community sings powerfully of the value of paciencia y fe (patience and faith). Usnavi struggles to live up to the example of Abuela Claudia, eventually recognising the truth of her philosophy through his young employee Sonny (Cleve September) who tells him to embrace the love around him.

Kings Cross Theatre is a fantastic new space in itself and In The Heights is a truly exhilarating experience. The cast and band are simply superb ~ a truly inspirational and powerful performance that stays with you, tapping into all our aspirations for a better world and a brighter future for our children, grandchildren and indeed ourselves. It taps into our better selves and lifts heart, soul and spirit.