Bye Bye Birdie Review

Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, Walthamstow  – 11 August – 4 September. Reviewed by Claire Roderick

I arrived at this fantastic venue full of excitement about a revival of a show that was new to me. My mood was enhanced by the prices at the bar – no need to take out a loan to buy a round this far from the West End! The theatre is above the pub, and after the audience and the band took their places the performing area is about the size of my grandmother’s front room. Intimate – I was going to enjoy this.

Then the show started, and halfway through the first number my heart sunk. I suddenly realised that I HAD watched this musical before – the 1990s TV version – and I may have begun to twitch a little remembering the horror.

But this didn’t last for long. Tonight I saw how the show SHOULD be performed, and would like to thank All Star Productions and the cast for curing me of my Birdiephobia. The NHS should issue tickets on prescription to any other victims forced to sit through that dreaded DVD.

The plot centres around Rosie, in love with hopeless mama’s boy Albert and their plan to make enough money to leave the music industry by staging a farewell kiss between their recently drafted rock star client, Conrad Birdie, and a fan before he leaves for his army training. The lucky girl is Kim from Sweet Apple, Ohio, but she’s just been pinned by Hugo. Things are complicated further by Albert’s domineering mother, Kim’s family and a horde of teenage fangirls. In 1960 the satire was sharper than today, in our age of social media and self promotion, but the laughs are still big and the Ed Sullivan show section, when even the adults get star struck, is wonderful.

Liberty Buckland’s Rose is full of contradictions – strong and feisty, but oh so weak when it comes to Albert. Buckland has a belter of a voice and a huge future. Ryan Forde Iosco has the difficult job of making Albert likeable. In other hands (the unmentionable DVD) Albert can be a whiny little loser, but Iosco has the right balance of hangdog looks and frustration that keep you rooting for him. He doesn’t overplay the comedy and the audience erupted when Albert takes control of his life. His voice isn’t the strongest, but he conveys the emotion expertly.

Abigail Matthews as Kim is sweet and funny, with a delightfully pure voice. Conrad Birdie (Zac Hamilton) just has to look hot until near the end of the first act, when we finally get to see what all the fuss is about. Great voice and great hips! The best lines of the show go to Jayne Ashley as Mae Patterson – using pet names as a weapon – and Harry Hart as Harry MacAfee – his reactions to Kim’s escapades are hysterical; like a cross between Lou Costello and the Incredible Hulk.

The whole cast work together to create a fantastic 50s world of frothy silliness, but the fangirls steal the show with their shrill hysteria and lovely harmonies.

Strouse and Adams’ songs are jolly rather than memorable, the exceptions being “Put on a happy face” and “Kids”, but this production does great things with the material. Special mention to choreographer Anthony Whiteman for creating such frenetic routines in so tiny a space, although I was glad I wasn’t sitting in the front row at times.

This is a fantastic production and a fun family night out.


Vincent and Flavia - The Last Tango - UK Tour opening September 2015 - credit Hugo GlendinningBritain’s best-loved dance due perform together in theatres for the very last time

Fresh from their sell-out hit shows Midnight Tango and Dance ’Til Dawn, Strictly superstars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have created their most poignant production yet as they prepare to dance in their final ever theatre show. The Last Tango opens in September 2015 ahead of a 32 week theatre tour.

Twenty years of dancing together has seen them become Strictly Come Dancing favourites, World Argentine Tango Champions, and create and star in their own Olivier Award nominated West End productions – but now, as the nation’s favourite dancers prepare to take on new projects, it is time for Vincent and Flavia to say goodbye to audiences across the UK in a brand new, thrilling live performance.

Flavia said; “We have had such a fantastic time creating and dancing in Midnight Tango and Dance ’Til Dawn. It’s an incredible experience to perform live in front of our wonderful audience night after night, but all good things must come to an end, so we’re creating our final ever theatre show. It’s going to be intimate, emotional and full of our award-winning Argentine tango. The Last Tango is going to celebrate our best work and most beautiful dance moves before we finally say farewell to theatre.”

Vincent “The last few years have been intense – we’ve loved it. It may be our final theatre tour but we’re going to go out with a bang! This is going to be our best show yet!”

Vincent and Flavia will be joined on stage by Teddy Kempner, Matthew Gent, Callum Clack, Diana Girbau, Rebecca Herszenhorn, Aaron James, Rebecca Lisewski, Jemima Loddy, Ian Oswald and Grant Thresh.

Don’t miss your last ever chance to see this dynamic duo do what they do best live – in an intimate, passionate and explosive experience. It’s time for The Last Tango.

The Last Tango is directed by Olivier Award winning choreographer and director Karen Bruce and produced by Adam Spiegel Productions (The Producers, Dance ‘Til Dawn, Midnight Tango, Love Me Tender, The Mousetrap on Tour).

West End to use paperless ticketing for the first time…

Theatre app Todaytix is to introduce paperless tickets to the West End for the first time.

In a partnership with the Adelphi Theatre and the venue’s owner Really Useful Theatres, people using Todaytix to buy tickets will be able to use a mobile barcode for entry at the theatre.

The service marks the first time that digital tickets will have been used in the West End.

The technology will be available for the forthcoming production of Kinky Boots, which begins its run at the Adelphi on August 21.

Todaytix has also confirmed that it intends to roll out the service to other West End theatres over the next 12 to 24 months.

The ticketing app, which originated on Broadway in 2013, launched in the UK in June this year, aiming to make the West End “more accessible than ever”.

The Park Theatre in north London uses paperless ticketing, and Ticketmaster has also used the technology for music events. However, this will mark the first time that paperless ticketing has been used in the commercial West End.

Todaytix’s Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer said the new service would make going to the theatre easier than ever.

First look at cast of Jane Eyre in rehearsals

-34446Sally Cookson’s re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s novel was first staged by the Bristol Old Vic last year, when the story was performed over two evenings. The production, which opens at the National Theatre on 8 September, will now be presented as a single performance.madeleine-worrall-jane-98638

Press materials state: “Almost 170 years on, Charlotte Brontë’s story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own sally-cookson-director-and-cast-98633terms.”

Jane Eyre opens at the Lyttleton Theatre on 8 September.craig-edwards-pilot-felix-hayes-rochester-laura-elphinstone-98627

John Heffernan and Anna Maxwell Martin star in Young Vic Macbeth

98644John Heffernan will play the title role in the upcoming Young Vic production of Macbeth, opposite Anna Maxwell Martin as Lady Macbeth.

Directed by Carrie Cracknell and Lucy Guerin, the production runs from 26 November 2015 to 16 January 2016 before transferring to Birmingham REP and HOME in Manchester.

Heffernan recently starred in the RSC’s Oppenheimer, while other credits include Edward II (National Theatre) and the BBC series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Anna Maxwell Martin’s recent stage credits include King Lear at the National, Di and Viv and Rose at Hampstead Theatre and Measure for Measure at the Almeida.

The cast of Macbeth will also include: Mark Ebulue, Thomasin Gulgeç, Ira Siobhan Mandela, Ana Beatriz Meireles, Prasanna Puwanarajah and Clemmie Sveaas.

Also announced today, Romola Garai will play Isabella alongside Paul Ready as Angelo and Zubin Varla as the Duke in Joe Hill-Gibbins’ production of Measure for Measure (1 October to 14 November 2015).

The cast also includes Hammed Animashaun (Elbow/Provost), Tom Edden (Pompey), Ivanno Jeremiah (Claudio), John Mackay (Lucio), Sarah Malin (Escalus), Natalie Simpson (Juliet), Cath Whitefield (Mariana) and Matthew Wynn (Barnardine).

Emily Barclay and Sam Troughton will play an estranged couple in Marguerite Duras’ play La Musica, which is revived by Jeff James in the Maria studio from 24 September to 17 October.

And Rikki Henry’s production of Creditors by August Strindberg, in an adaptation by David Greig, will feature Jolyon Coy as Tekla, Tom Rhys Harries as Adolph and Gyuri Sarossy as Gustav.

Henry won the Genesis Future Directors Award for 2015. The play runs from 9 to 19 September in the Clare studio.

BEAM:2016 Submission for National Showcase of New Musicals


Mercury Musical Developments (MMD) and Musical Theatre Network (MTN) have announced that their first national showcase of new musical theatre,BEAM:2016 is open for submissions.

BEAM:2016 is taking place at the Park Theatre, London on 8th and 9th March 2016, and will encourage and develop musical theatre across the UK, identifying and supporting innovation, connecting practitioners and finding champions for original work.

The work to be included in BEAM:2016 will be found through an innovative series of pitching days. MMD and MTN will travel across the UK seeking out the artists making musical theatre today. At key producing venues from Scotland, England and Wales, the two companies hope to discover writers, as well as highlight the brilliant work being done by more established practitioners.

The first of these pitching days is taking place on 16th October 2015 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, with other opportunities happening throughout October and November. Writers interested in applying for a pitching slot should check out or for more information.

Caroline Routh, Executive Producer of MTN said “BEAM is going to provide an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to find those artists from all around the UK who are making new and innovative musical theatre, and we are thrilled that our showcase will help to contribute to their development and to the future of this artform.

MTN and MMD will be tracking their progress across the country with videos and blogs as they meet different artists and venues. Follow them on Twitter via #FollowtheBeam

Further information:
BEAM:2016 is to be a two day event held at the Park Theatre, London on 8th-9th March 2016. The Park Theatre (winner of The Stage Best Fringe Venue of the Year 2015) have said: “As a non subsidised off West End theatre we’re acutely aware of how important it is to develop and nurture new work, and we’re thrilled to be hosting BEAM:2016 thereby supporting a number of exciting emerging theatre makers in the field of musical theatre.” Jez Bond | Artistic Director, Park Theatre

The showcase itself combines live pitches and book-in-hand presentations of new work from artists and venues around the UK. There will also be panel discussions, provocations, networking, installations/digital displays and two Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Masterclasses. The first Masterclass will be a practical demonstration and discussion by leading industry figures on ‘Originating New Work’. The second will centre around the practicalities of workshops, industry showcases and backers auditions.

Mercury Musical DevelopmentBEAM is a joint collaboration between MTN and MMD and is a key part of both organisations’ mission to support the development of new musical theatre. MMD is a not-for-profit membership organization that is dedicated to nurturing new musical theatre writing. Our membership of over 400 bookwriters, lyricists and librettist have access to a range of development and showcasing initiatives including seminars, masterclasses and professional residencies designed to further their craft and career. We actively seek out commissions, build professional networks and are ambassadors on behalf of all our members. MMD aim is to support and represent the writers who are shaping the future of British musical theatre. To find out more about MMD go to

Musical Theatre Network is a membership organisation with a mission to create the environment that allows new musical theatre to flourish. Founded in 2005 it has grown into an organisation that has attracted members from across the industry, including independent producers, directors and writers as well as regional and major commercial producing companies. In 2012 it joined the Arts Council England National Portfolio (in partnership with MMD) and is one of only three organisations supporting the development of new musical theatre to be supported in this way. MTN runs a year round programme of development and networking events, an annual conference and an Awards scheme in Edinburgh focused on broadening the conversation about what musical theatre can be.

Bend It Like Beckham The Musical Original Cast Album Announced

bilb-cast-albumOver 140,000 new tickets are released for sale today (14th August 2015) for the critically acclaimed five-star West End production of Bend It Like Beckham The Musical, now booking at the Phoenix Theatre to 20th February 2016.

Also announced today is that the original cast album is now available to buy on digital platforms including iTunes and Amazon mp3. This will be followed on 11th September 2015 with the release of the CD by Sony Classical, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. Recorded over several performances at the Phoenix Theatre to capture the excitement of a live performance, with music and lyrics by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart, the Bend It Like Beckham original cast album features seventeen tracks from the show including Girl Perfect, Heer, Bend It, People Like Us, UB2 and Glorious.

The cast is led by Natalie Dew who plays football crazy Jess with Lauren Samuels as Jules, a player with the Harriers, a local women’s football team, and Jamie Campbell Bower as their coach Joe. Sophie-Louise Dann plays the role of Paula with Jamal Andréas as Jess’ good friend Tony. Preeya Kalidas plays Pinky, Jess’ sister, with Tony Jayawardena and Natasha Jayetileke as her parents, Mr and Mrs Bhamra.

Sohm Kapila, Buckso Dhillon-Woolley and Harveen Mann play Aunties, Irvine Iqbal and Karl Seth play Uncles, with Sejal Keshwala, Serina Mathew and Sharan Phull as Cousins. Rakesh Boury, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Tom Millen, Daniel Bolton play footballers, with Teetu played by Raj Bajaj. The Harriers are played by Michelle Bishop, Lisa Bridge, Chloe Chambers, Genesis Lynea,

Kayleigh McKnight, Leanne Pinder, Kirstie Skivington and Danielle Young. Rekha Sawhney and Shahid Khan are the production’s Indian Heritage Singers.

Bend It Like Beckham The Musical is a celebratory fusion of culture, music, emotions and fun, bursting with warmth, humour and heart. Jess needs extra time. She is facing the most important decision of her life: live up to family expectations of university, career and marriage, or follow in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham. When the talented teenager is spotted playing football in Southall, a world of unexpected opportunities opens up before her. But as her sister’s traditional Indian wedding approaches, can she keep her family happy and still follow her dreams?

With lyrics by Charles Hart, music by Howard Goodall the original cast album of Bend It Like Beckham The Musical also features Rail Gaddi music by Kuljit Bhamra, Sadaa Charhdi Kalaa and Sacheh Bahd Shah Punjabi texts by Gurinder Chadha. Orchestrations by Howard Goodall and Kuljit Bhamra, electronic rhythm sequences are programmed by Howard Goodall and musical direction is by Nigel Lilley. Live sound (theatre) is designed by Richard Brooker, assisted by Ross Portway. Live sound (theatre) is mixed by Roisine Mamdani, assisted by Michaela O’Brien. The album is mixed and engineered by Gary Thomas, assisted by Joshua Thomas at Vale Audio Facilities and mastered by Ben Turner. The live album Creative Producer and Editor is Howard Goodall and the Executive Producer is Tris Penna.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, with original music by Howard Goodall and lyrics by Charles Hart, Bend It Like Beckham The Musical has a new book by Paul Mayeda Berges & Gurinder Chadha; choreography and musical staging by Aletta Collins; set design by Miriam Buether; costume design by Katrina Lindsay; lighting design by Neil Austin; sound design by Richard Brooker; musical direction by Nigel Lilley and orchestrations by Howard Goodall & Kuljit Bhamra.

Bend It Like Beckham The Musical is produced in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Deepak Nayar Productions, Bend It Films, Fischer & Vaswani Productions, Tanya Link Productions & Zeilinger Productions, Lost Marbles & Two Way Split, Delman Jacobson, DOIT Media & Entertainment (India) and Reliance Entertainment.

Comedy Musical Show Jest End at Waterloo East Theatre

jest-end-212x300The hit comedy musical show that exposes the latest gossip and celebrates the hits and flops of Theatreland is back for a limited run at Waterloo East Theatre 24th November to 6th December 2015.

Jest End is London’s answer to Forbidden Broadway and has been going from strength to strength since the birth of the show at Jermyn Street Theatre 2007.

Home grown and created by British composer Garry Lake ( Composer/Lyricist of Social Media Musical ‘LIKE ME’ ) Jest End continues to provide London audiences with a fresh up to date comedy, one that is proving to be a smash hit for musical theatre fans of all ages.

With a theatrical tongue placed firmly in the cheek of the West End, Jest End will take on the latest and most popular musicals in this fantastic new production, including; WICKED, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, MATILDA, LES MISERABLES, BILLY ELLIOT, GUYS AND DOLLS, SUNNY AFTERNOON, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, JERSEY BOYS, AND MANY MANY MORE.

Lake will continue to direct, accompanied by Choreographer and long term creative companion Rebecca Howell, as well as Musical Director James Doughty.

The latest cast of Jesters is yet to be announced, but with the track record of the show attracting some of the finest voices in the West End including; Louise Dearman & Rachel Tucker, it’s a given that Lake will not disappoint.

So, if you’re stuck to make a decision on what show to take in, why not visit Waterloo East Theatre and watch them all at once.

Jest End
Waterloo East Theatre
Tuesday 24th November to Sunday 6th December 2015


Lights, Camera, Action at Empire Cinemas Catterick

image002 (3)Lights, Camera, Action at Empire Cinemas Catterick Garrison.
Catterick Garrison, August 2015: This October, Empire Cinemas will be rolling out the red carpet in Catterick Garrison as part of a £25m redevelopment to the area.
image001A state-of-the-art, seven-screen cinema complex will bring a new era of entertainment to residents of Catterick and the surrounding area. The new opening is part of a larger retail and leisure development (Princes Gate) being built by Kier Property at the heart of Catterick Garrison close to the A1.
Representatives from Kier Property, Richmondshire District Council and the MoD gathered this week as they ‘handed over’ the cinema to Empire’s Chief Executive, Justin Ribbons. Empire Cinemas will now fit out the multi-screen cinema as excitement starts to build ahead of the grand opening on Friday 23rd October. The cinema also creates a number of job opportunities for the local community, with more 40 positions being recruited ahead of launch.0210
The cinema will be helmed by new General Manager Dave Thomas. Dave has 16 years of experience in the cinema industry working his way up through the ranks to become Empire’s first General Manager appointment at Catterick.
Dave Thomas commented:
“What a fantastic development in the heart of Catterick. I’m really excited at the prospect of building a brand new team, and thoroughly preparing the team and the cinema for the opening. I look forward to welcoming movie lovers from Catterick and the surrounding areas into our state-of-the-art cinema and sharing our love for film with them. What a great time to launch the cinema – with so many blockbusters coming up it’s the perfect place to catch the incredible PAN (Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund), James Bond: SPECTRE (Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill) later this year”.
0360The cinema will be surrounded by several well-known high street brands such as Next, Boots andSportsDirect, as well as popular food and drink operators including Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, Greene King and a new 60 bed hotel for Premier Inn including a Brewers Fayre. For those with a sweet tooth the cinema itself will include a Ben & Jerrys Scoop Shop plus an Empire IMPACT screen – the ultimate way to experience blockbuster movies.
Tom Gilman, Marketing Director of Kier Property in the North commented:
“The cinema is an integral part of this brand new town centre for Catterick Garrison and we are very pleased to be able to hand it over to Empire today – This is a key milestone in the project and once opened to the public I am sure the cinema will become a firm favourite with families looking to enjoy the latest films”.
Justin Ribbons, Chief Executive of Empire Cinemas adds:
“We are delighted to be opening the newest addition to the Empire family in Catterick and look forward to entertaining film fans from across the area for many years to come.”
Empire Cinemas’ cater for all; from Empire JNRS, which offers families the chance to see a family favourite every weekend for pocket money prices; to Empire Seniors, where the over 60’s can watch a selection of the best recent and classic films every Wednesday, including tea or coffee and a biscuit. Empire Cinemas also welcome parents with babies through their Empire Parent & Baby screenings, providing a relaxing environment for parents/guardians to enjoy the latest releases with the lights up and sound down, every Monday morning. Other offers include Sav£rday Tuesday, which offers customers a chance to see current films for a ‘credit crunch busting’ price, and Last Chance To See Thursdays, which screens selected films coming to the end of their run at Saverday prices.
In addition to the very latest film releases, there will also be a variety of Empire Extra screenings, where customers can experience big stage productions and events on the big screen from the comfort of their local cinema – be it theatre, opera, ballet, music or sport, customers can sit back and enjoy the big screen experience in high definition where you’re always guaranteed the best seat in the house at a fraction of the theatre ticket price.

From opening see:
o   Pan –
o   26th October: SPECTRE –
o   20th November: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
o   18th December: Star Wars: The Force Awakens –

For further ticketing information visit or call
08714 714 714.

New rehearsal images for the 2015 National Tour of FLARE PATH

flare-path-cast280The producers of the forthcoming UK tour of Terence Rattigan’s FLARE PATH, directed by Justin Audibert, have announced the full cast, headed by the previously announced Leon Ockenden as Peter Kyle, Olivia Hallinan as Patricia Graham and Philip Franks as Squadron Leader Swanson.

Siobhán O'Kelly and Leon Ockenden in rehearsal for Flare Path (photo Peter Gurr) (3)They will be joined by Adam Best as Flying Officer Count Skriczevinsky, James Cooney as Percy, Simon Darwen as Sergeant Miller (Dusty), Stephanie Jacob as Mrs Oakes, Shvorne Marks as Mrs Miller (Maudie), Siobhan O’Kelly as Countess Skriczevinsky (Doris), William Reay as Corporal Jones (Wiggy), Holly Smith as Maid and Alastair Whatley as Flight Lieutenant Graham (Teddy).

Alastair Whatley, Philip Franks and Olivia Hallinan in rehearsal for Flare Path (photo Peter Gurr)FLARE PATH is produced on tour by Alastair Whatley for The Original Theatre Company and Anne-Marie Woodley and Jon Woodley for Birdsong Productions Ltd.
Official website: Twitter: @flarepathtour Facebook: @flarepaththetour

Holly Smith in rehearsal for Flare Path (photo Peter Gurr)



Flare Path 2015 TOUR SCHEDULE
18 – 29 August Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
1 – 5 September Richmond Theatre
7 – 12 September Theatre Royal, Bath
15 – 19 September Festival Theatre, Malvern
22 – 26 September Exeter Northcott Theatre
28 September – 3 October Cambridge Arts Theatre
5 – 10 October Salisbury Playhouse
12 – 17 October Theatre Royal Winchester
19 – 24 October The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
3 – 7 November The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
10 – 14 November Liverpool Playhouse
16-21 November The Palace Theatre, Southend
23 – 28 November Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford