DR RANJ SINGH TO PLAY LANCE IN AWARD-WINNING MUSICAL & JULIET – UK & IRELAND TOUR

DR RANJ SINGH

TO PLAY LANCE

IN AWARD-WINNING MUSICAL

& JULIET

UK & IRELAND TOUR

FROM 8 JULY – 12 OCTOBER 2024

The producers of the global sensation & JULIET are delighted to announce that Dr Ranj Singh will make his musical theatre debut playing the role of Lance in the upcoming UK and Ireland tour. The UK and Ireland tour opens at Manchester Opera House on 8 July 2024. 

He joins the previously announced Matt Cardle as Shakespeare, Gerardine Sacdalan as Juliet, Lara Denning as Anne, Sandra Marvin as Angelique, Jack Danson as Romeo, Kyle Cox as Francois and Jordan Broatch as May.

Also in the cast are Michael Nelson as Henry, Liam Morris as Richard, Jade Johnson as Nell / Lady C, Rosie Singha as Judith, Nia Stephen as Imogen, Psalms-Nissi Myers-Reid as Lucy/Alternate Juliet, Andilé Mabhena as Augustine / Dance Team, Harriet Caplan-Dean as Eleanor, Alexander Kranz as Lennox, Aaron Shales as Gregory / Dance Team, Toni Paise as Violet and Samuel Wilson-Freeman as Fletcher / Resident Director and Dance Captain. 

Dr Ranj Singh said “I am absolutely overjoyed to be making my musical theatre debut in & Juliet, a show I’ve been a fan of since it first opened. I know it’s a bit of a change from my usual work, but not many people will know how hard I’ve been working behind the scenes to make this happen, and it’s an absolute dream come true. I can’t wait to work with the incredible Luke Sheppard and the entire creative team and have the time of my life this year, showing the UK what I’m made of alongside an exceptionally talented and diverse cast. Bring it on!”

Dr Ranj Singh is one of the country’s most recognised and well-loved medics and TV presenters, with a career ranging from NHS doctor, to author, to musical theatre star.

His foray into music and dance started in 2018, when Dr Ranj swapped his scrubs for sequins as a BBC Strictly Come Dancing contestant, partnered with Janette Manrara. The dancing duo also took part in the subsequent Strictly Live Tour in 2019. Then at the start of 2021, Dr Ranj’s performance on ITV All Star Musicals roused the nation and received high praise from the judges, including Elaine Paige herself. This led to him starring in his own sold-out West End show Scrubs to Sparkles later that year, alongside a host of famous faces.

He is the co-creating presenter of BAFTA-award-winning CBeebies series, Get Well Soon. He is one of the resident doctors on the BBC1’s hugely successful series Morning Live and was a regular presenter on ITV This Morning. He has fronted a range of TV shows, including ITV’s primetime series Save Money: Good HealthSave Money: Lose Weight and Dr Ranj: On Call; the W Channel’s Extreme Food Phobics; and was crowned winner of Season 2 of Cooking With The Stars.

Off air, he writes for numerous magazines and websites where he gives expert opinion and advice on physical and mental health matters. Dr Ranj is also the resident doctor for Attitude magazine and has published several books including two Sunday Times Best-Sellers, Save Money Lose Weight and How To Grow Up And Feel Amazing!.

There is life after Romeo!

Get whisked away on a fabulous journey as Juliet ditches her famous ending for a fresh beginning and a second chance at life and love—her way. Created by David West Read, the Emmy-winning writer from “Schitt’s Creek,” this hilarious new musical flips the script on the greatest love story ever told and asks, what would happen next if Juliet didn’t end it all over Romeo?

Juliet’s new story bursts to life through a playlist of pop anthems as iconic as her name, including Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time,” Katy Perry’s “Roar”and chart toppers “Since U Been Gone,” “It’s My Life,” “I Want It That Way,” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” — all from Max Martin, the genius songwriter/producer behind more #1 hits than any other artist this century, and his collaborators. Break free of the balcony scene and get into this romantic comedy that proves there’s life after Romeo. The only thing tragic would be missing it.

& JULIET is a global success and has now been performed on four continents since its World Premiere in September 2019. It began at the Manchester Opera House in England, before moving to London’s West End from 2019-2023, where it won three Olivier Awards, and 6 WhatsOnStage Awards. The show had its North American premiere in July 2022 in Toronto, where it broke box office records and played to standing-room-only audiences, before heading to Broadway, where it again broke box office records and plays nightly to sold-out crowds. & Juliet is currently playing an encore production in Australia, and will soon be seen around the globe with a North American Tour (September 2024) and its German premiere (October 2024). The German production marks the show’s first production with a book translated into a different language, and will also be the sixth country to welcome & Juliet in less than five years. More information for all productions can be found at andjulietthemusical.com

The full creative team for the UK and Ireland tour of & JULIETincludes David West Read (Book), Max Martin & Friends (Music & Lyrics), Luke Sheppard (Direction), Jennifer Weber (Choreography), Bill Sherman (Musical Supervision, Orchestrations and Arrangements), Soutra Gilmour (Scenic Design), Paloma Young (Costume Design), Howard Hudson (Lighting Design), Gareth Owen (Sound Design), Andrzej Goulding (Video & Projection Design) and Nina Van Houten(Hair, Wig & Makeup Design) and Dominic Fallacaro (Additional Arrangements and Orchestrations). Casting is by Stuart Burt.

& JULIET is presented by Max Martin and Tim Headington and is produced by Max Martin, Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page, Jenny Petersson, Martin Dodd and Rebecca Quigley.

Website: www.andjulietthemusical.co.uk

Instagram: @julietmusical

Facebook: @julietmusical                                                            

X: @julietmusical

YouTube: @julietmusical1925   

SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES NEW PRODUCTION OF SEÁN O’CASEY’S JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK STARRING J. SMITH-CAMERON AND MARK RYLANCE DIRECTED BY MATTHEW WARCHUS

SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES

NEW PRODUCTION OF

SEÁN O’CASEY’S

JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK

STARRING J. SMITH-CAMERON AND MARK RYLANCE

DIRECTED BY MATTHEW WARCHUS

Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) today announces Tony award-nominee J. Smith-Cameron (Succession) will star as Juno Boyle opposite Mark Rylance as ‘Captain’ Jack Boyle in a new production of Seán O’Casey‘s timeless masterpiece, Juno and the Paycock, directed by Tony and Olivier award-winner Matthew Warchus (Matilda The Musical, Pride).

The strictly limited run at the Gielgud Theatre opens on Thursday 3 October, with previews from Saturday 21 September, and will run until Saturday 23 November 2024.

Juno and the Paycock sees Sonia Friedman, Matthew Warchus and Mark Rylance reunite following their acclaimed productions of Boeing-Boeing and La Bête. Further casting to be announced.

The creative team is Rob Howell (Set and Costume Designer), Hugh Vanstone (Lighting Designer), Claire van Kampen (Composer) and Serena Hill CDG (Casting Director).

Priority booking opens on Thursday 23 May, to DMT+ Members at 10am, and to those signed up for priority booking at 11am, with general booking opening on Friday 24 May at 10am. Individuals can sign up for priority booking here: www.JunoAndThePaycock.com

As part of an ongoing commitment to make theatre accessible for as many people as possible, there are over 1100 tickets per week at £25 or lower, with 35% of the house for every performance priced at £55 or lower.

Matthew Warchus said, “I have long been in love with this staggeringly great melodrama – a play which collides an Irish working-class domestic tragedy with some of the comedic bravura of the 1920s Music Hall in an unforgettable indictment of the chaos of civil war. I’m very excited to be embarking on my seventh collaboration with Mark Rylance, and my first with the brilliant American actress J. Smith-Cameron, on the 100-year anniversary production of this internationally acclaimed, strikingly relevant, Irish classic.

J. Smith-Cameron said, “Juno and the Paycock is not simply a brilliant piece of theatre but an eternally relevant play so long as people must endure violent repression. The prospect of revisiting this work in the company of the great director Matthew Warchus and the truly legendary Mark Rylance absolutely floors me; I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Mark Rylance said, “It is a joy to be playing Seán O’Casey’s masterpiece with J. Smith-Cameron, and to be doing so in its 100th anniversary year. I am also delighted to be reuniting with Matthew Warchus on what will be our seventh theatrical collaboration and with Sonia Friedman who has supported me in eight previous productions.”

Dublin, 1922, the Irish Civil War is tearing the nation apart. In the cauldron of the family’s tiny tenement flat, Juno Boyle, a beleaguered matriarch whose sharp wit is a survival tool, struggles to make ends meet and keep the family together. Her husband, ‘Captain’ Jack Boyle, fancies himself a ship’s commander but sails no further than the pub. When providence comes knocking with life changing news, could the family’s troubles finally fade away?

Poetic, poignant, and hilarious, Juno and the Paycock is a big-hearted, black-humoured, tragi-comic triumph that reflects on a mother’s resilience in the midst of life’s most trying moments.

WHAT CAN GOD DO AGAINST THE STUPIDITY OF MEN?’

Mark Rylance

This is happily the seventh theatrical collaboration between Mark and Matthew Warchus.

Giles Havergal and The Glasgow Citizens Theatre gave Mark his first professional job in 1980.

In the eighties and nineties, Mark worked with many theatre companies in England and America, including the NT; The Bush; The Tricycle, Contact (Manchester); TANA (New York); A.R.T. (Boston); The Guthrie (Minneapolis). He became an Associate Artist of the RSC, where he played Hamlet, Romeo, and a number of other roles. He founded two cooperative theatre companies, The London Theatre of Imagination and Phoebus’ Cart, which toured sacred sites such as The Rollright Stones.

He trained at RADA in the great days of Hugh Cruttwell and the work of Mike Alfreds, and his company, Shared Experience, continues to be particularly inspiring and transformative in all he does.

In 1996, at age 36, Mark became the first Artistic Director of Sam Wanamaker’s project to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Throughout his career, he has acted in more than 50 productions by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He is a trustee of The Shakespearean Authorship Trust and friend of The Francis Bacon Research Trust.

After leaving the Globe in 2006, Sonia Friedman became his angel. With her company and associates she has supported Rylance in eight productions, Boeing-BoeingLa BêteJerusalemTwelfth NightRichard III, Farinelli and the KingNice Fish, and most recently Dr Semmelweis. Rylance was a co-author of Dr Semmelweis and Nice Fish, and also wrote I am Shakespeare for Greg Ripley Productions and The Chichester Festival Theatre.

Film work includes three films with Steven Spielberg, Bridge of SpiesThe BFG, and Ready Player One. Other films include The OutfitDon’t Look UpThe Phantom of the OpenBones and AllWaiting for the BarbariansDunkirkProspero’s BooksThe Grass Arena, and The Institute Benjamenta.

His television appearances include four mini-series with Peter Kosminsky; The Government InspectorThe Undeclared WarWolf Hall, and the soon to be broadcast Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light.

Mark is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple Hall in London. He is also a founding patron of the London-based charity Peace Direct, which supports local peacebuilders in areas of conflict. Lately his work has focused on Intermission Youth Theatre and The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. He will always be a patron of Survival, the international movement for Tribal Peoples and Stop the War.

In 2017 he was knighted for services to the Theatre.

J. Smith-Cameron

J. Smith-Cameron is an award-winning stage, film, and television actress. She recently completed run as ‘Gerri Kellman’ on the acclaimed HBO series, Succession, earning her two back-to-back Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a SAG Award for Outstanding Cast of a Drama Series. She will next star in the third season of the hit HBO series, Hacks, this spring.

Other notable television credits include: RectifyWaco: The AftermathTrue Blood and Search Party.

J. was last seen on stage in Love Letters opposite Victor Garber at the Irish Rep. Other Broadway/ Off-Broadway credits include: Juno and the Paycock (Joe A. Callaway Award winner and Drama Desk nominated), Our Country’s Good (Tony nominated), Sarah, Sarah (Drama Desk nominated), Fuddy Meers (Outer Critics and Drama Desk nominated) and As Bees in Honey Drown (Obie Award winner).

Recent film work includes: Turtles all the Way DownThe Year Between opposite Steve Buscemi, and Vengeance directed by B.J. Novak.

Past credits include: Nancy (Independent Spirit Award nominated) opposite Andrea Riseborough, Christine, and Margaret written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

Matthew Warchus, Director

Theatre includes: LungsPresent Laughter‘Art’The CaretakerThe Master BuilderFuture ConditionalSpeed-the-Plow, OLD VIC: IN CAMERA – A Christmas CarolFaith HealerThree KingsLungs (The Old Vic); A Christmas CarolGroundhog DayThe Norman Conquests (The Old Vic/Broadway); Matilda The Musical (RSC/West End/Broadway/International tour); Ghost the Musical (West End/Broadway/South Korea); La Bête (West End/Broadway); God of Carnage (West End/Broadway/LA); DeathtrapEndgame (West End); Our HouseMuch Ado About Nothing (West End/UK tour); Boeing-Boeing (West End/Broadway/UK tour); The Lord of the Rings (West End/Toronto); Buried ChildVolpone (National Theatre); Follies (Broadway); Life x 3 (National Theatre/The Old Vic/Broadway); True West (Donmar/Broadway); The Unexpected Man (RSC/West End/Broadway); ‘Art’ (Broadway/West End/Los Angeles); HamletHenry V (RSC); BetrayalDeath of a SalesmanThe Plough and the StarsFiddler on the RoofWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?True WestPeter Pan (Leeds Playhouse).

Opera includes: FalstaffCosì Fan Tutte (ENO); The Rake’s Progress (ROH/WNO).

Film includes: Roald Dahl’s Matilda The MusicalPride — BIFA Best British Independent Film, Simpatico.

Matthew was an Associate Director at Leeds Playhouse and Artistic Associate at The Old Vic before being appointed Artistic Director of the theatre in 2014.

Seán O’Casey

SeánO’Casey was born on the north side of Dublin in 1880 and lived through troubled and turbulent times; the 1913 Lock-out and Strike, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Anglo-Irish War and the Civil War. SeánO’Casey was involved directly with the Lock-out and Strike, starving with his fellow workers, and like many other Dubliners, he saw and was affected by the horrors of the Rising and the troubles that followed.

When he was forty he wrote three plays within three years depicting the lives of the slum dwellers he was familiar with; The Shadow of a GunmanJuno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. These plays now stand with the great plays of the Twentieth Century.

The most remarkable thing he had ever done, O’Casey later said, was to escape from the slums of Dublin. He managed to do this after his second play, Juno and the Paycock, was performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1924. Only then was he able to give up his job as labourer working on the roads. These three plays made his name, and he became known to an international audience. 

In 1926 he travelled to London to receive the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and also give publicity for The Plough and the Stars. He decided to stay. During re-casting he met and later married Eileen Carey. They moved to Devon in 1938 with his two sons Breon and Niall: a daughter, Shivaun, was born a year later. Niall tragically died of Leukaemia, aged 21, and Seán O’Casey died eight years later, aged 84.

www.JunoAndThePaycock.com

Instagram.com/JunoPaycockPlay

Twitter.com/JunoPaycockPlay

Facebook.com/JunoPaycockPlay

LISTINGS

JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK

Gielgud Theatre

Saturday 21 September – Saturday 23 November 2024

Opening Night: Thursday 3 October, 7pm

Box Office: www.JunoAndThePaycock.com

Performance schedule:

Previews (21 September – 2 October):

Monday – Saturday at 7pm

Wednesday 2 October at 2pm

From 4 October:

Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Wednesday & Saturday at 2pm

Tickets: from £20

BSL Interpreted Performance – Saturday 19 October, 2pm

Audio Described Performance – Saturday 2 November, 2pm

Captioned Performance – Saturday 9 November, 2pm

20 Questions with ….. Velma Celli

Award winning Drag Superstar Velma Cellia and her alter-ego Ian Stroughair sat down with fairypowered to answer 20 questions.  Velma is currently on tour  in Show Queen and can be seen at York Theatre Royal on May 23rd, tickets can be found here

Let’s start with a few favourites

Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)? 

RENT 

Favourite book? 

Any of the Harry Potter’s but The Deathly Hallows one and two are the best 

Favourite theatre? 

The Theatre Royal, York! OBVS 

Favourite song? 

I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Whitney Houston AKA the greatest singer of all time 

Favourite music? 

Ooooooooo SOOO many genres. Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Whitney, Aretha 

Favourite food? 

Sunday roast and (at the moment) Sushi. I just got back from Australia and their Sushi and any food to be honest is INCREDIBLE! 

Favourite drink? 

Morning, Yorkshire tea (obvs). Evening, Gin and Tonic and / or Champagne but I am not drinking alcohol until my show at York Theatre Royal! You’ll understand when you see the gown! It’s EPIC 

What is your favourite role? 

Angel in Rent. I LOVED every moment of that tour 

What was your first role? 

Kes the Musical at The Theatre Royal, York! 

And what role would you really like to play? 

A few. Mrs Trunchbull in Matilda, The Witch in Into The Woods and obviously HEDWIG 

If you weren’t a performer what would you be? 

A Chef. In fact that’s all I ever wanted to be. Might still happen 

What made you decide to be a performer? 

A mistake. Just randomly auditioned for a performing arts school and got in. I was sort of forced to audition and went for a bit of a laugh and a day out. The rest is history 

Do you enjoy touring? 

I love it. I love meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. 

What advice would you give 16 year old you? 

Never compare yourself to anyone else, be yourself no matter what and find your own way through the industry we call show I did it too! HA 

Do you fancy branching out in Producing or Directing? 

I have done both! I really enjoy it! I will never rule it out but for a few more years the stage is my home 

What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed? 

Moulin Rouge in The West End. ZOE BIRKETT gave me EVERYTHING. She stole the show! 

Favourite line from any show? 

Today for you, tomorrow for ME! 

If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be? 

I would be Louise Dearman and I would put on my own concert as her. She has (unequivocally) the best voice in the business. She can sing ANYTHING and is such a wonderful actress and an all round mega talent. She is the absolute top level of what it means to be a leading lady! Oh, and she’s the nicest person in any room! 

What are the nicest/weirdest things you have ever received from fans? 

This year I received a hand made cookie with my face on it when on tour in Australia 

Can you tell us what you will be up to next? 

My show “SHOW QUEEN” opens at York Theatre Royal on May 23rd. It is going to be EPIC and my band and guests are sensational. The BEST BURLESQUE Star in the business.. Miss Betsy Rose is coming up to blow everyone’s minds and York’s own voice of DREAMS.. Jessica Steel will blow the roof off too! 

God Save The Queens at Skipton Town Hall on June 15th and also July 13th at FieryBird in Woking. We just Won Best Cabaret award in Australia for this show! Catch Christina Bianco and I in the 10 year anniversary of our show DIVALLUSION at Crazy Coqs on August 30th

Love’s Labour’s Lost Review

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford-Upon-Avon – until 18th May 2024

Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh

5****

Love’s Labour’s Lost follows the King of Navarre and his three companions as they endeavour to swear off women for three years to focus on study and fasting. The Princess of France and her ladies arrive, wishing to speak to the King regarding the cession of Aquitaine, but must ultimately make their camp outside the court due to the Kings vow of female abstinence. However, upon visiting the Princess and her ladies at their camp, the King falls in love with the Princess, as do the lords with the ladies and these encounters make them break their oath. In an untraditional ending for a comedy, the play closes with the death of the Princess’s father, and all weddings are delayed for a year.

Sounds like a pretty straight forward piece to stage, yet many have struggled. Emily Burns’ rendition for the new season at the RSC is simply sublime. Every scene is meticulously thought out, every word perfectly placed. Whether it’s a Morecambe and Wise style water bottle exchange, or some finger snaps as the princesses discuss the archaic attitudes of the King and his Lords, there were no static moments, everything flowed and beautifully so. Navarre has now been reimagined as a Pacific Island and the King and his Lords have retreated to a sports and spa facility to endure their oath of lady abstinence. Tech wizards, they discard mobile phones, masks become face packs. It’s all so brilliant.

Polished and oozing luxury, the sets were opulent and dazzling. Designer Joanna Scotcher’s dramatic opening backdrop, set the political scene well, only to have us move on swiftly to a gold and cream haven which was framed with lights and boasting palm trees. At its center, the set contained a revolving, open staircase which added depth to the performance. Paul Englishby’s dulcet pacific island tones drew us into the story, like waves lapping on a beach. It was wonderful to see the musicians on the stage, with their garlands, flutes, and such.

The cast, as a whole, were a joy to watch, all coming together to bring this performance to life. Luke Thompson was endearing as Berowne and plays him in a cleverly understated way. Never missing a beat, he delivered a perfect performance. The same of which can be said of his ‘bro’s’, King Ferdinand (Abiola Owokoniran), and the lords Longaville (Eric Stroud) and Dumaine (Brandon Bassir). As a group, they were brilliant. Gelling together, bouncing off one another, fabulous viewing. Then we had the single ladies, who were sultry and smart. Less bawdy in their humour they none the less brought some strong and sophisticated sass to the stage. Princess (Melanie-Joyce Bermudez) opened and closed the play with such strength and tenderness, it brought a tear to my eye. Her ladies Rosaline (Ioanna Kimbook), Katherine (Amy Griffiths) and Maria (Sarita Gabony) were superb as the ‘straight guys’ to the antics of the King and his Lords.

The physical comedy was incredible, The boy band knights singing scene and the breaking the oath scene were utter genius, as was the final performance withing a performance. Don Armado, the fantastical Spaniard (Jack Bardoe), Boyet (Jordan Metcalfe), Holofernes (Tony Gardner) and Costard (Nathan Foad) raised thunderous laughter with their many antics.

This version of Love’s Labour’s Lost was a revelation. Modern, masterful, a contemporary handling of the battle of the sexes. Thoroughly enjoyable to watch and I felt so respected as a viewer by the attention to detail and the fun whimsical nature that ran through it like a cool breeze, but no doubt took so much effort to be this effortless. It really is a must see.

Body 115 review

Jack Studio Theatre – until 11 May 2024

Reviewed by Claire Roderick

4****

Described as a journey in 31 cantos, Jan Noble’s Body 115 is a powerful poetic monologue about love and loss, and enduring history.

Body 115 was the name given to the body of a victim of the King’s Cross disaster, unidentified for 20 years. In Jan Noble’s classically inspired piece, Body 115 emerges from the London mud, imbued with history and pre-history, and becomes the narrator’s guide on his journey to find his lost love and reasons for his present state.

Noble’s writing is packed with visual imagery which, together with Justin Butcher’s direction, Tom Turner’s lighting design and Jack Arnold’s sound design, evoke dank subterranean rivers and windswept cliffs brilliantly on a stage empty except for a large suitcase.

Nothing is clear in Body 115 as time and settings change and merge as the narrator searches his soul. (The audience members are given a QR code for the Body 115 website with notes on many historical and mythical references, and recordings of readings of selected cantos as they enter that I am sure most made use of on leaving the performance.) Personal musings about what went wrong in his relationship provide quieter, more immediate connections with the audience and are something of a respite before we are swept along in the roiling mix of history and modern commentary. Here mythical and historical characters are in the mix with selfies, Brexit, football and folklore, we pass through the London below, red with Roman and Celtic blood and on to the camps at Calais, unable to fully escape our history but still struggling to change with the repeated line “As we go we grieve, as we move we mend”.

Noble’s performance is full of passion, and he commands the stage in this intriguing production. Body 115 demands attention throughout, it’s not a drama you can drift in and out of, but it is well worth the effort. A masterful performance of a stunning piece of writing.

Recordings and information about future performance dates can be found at: bodyoneonefive.com

Interview with Thom Southerland

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently on its 2024-25 UK tour. We spoke with its Director, Thom Southerland, about this new production and what audiences can expect from it.

What can you tell us about the brand-new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tour?

It’s been over 20 years since Chitty Chitty Bang Bang first premiered at the London Palladium and we are now bringing a brand-new production of this well-loved story to stage. For me, Chitty is like an old friend. I used to watch it as a child and was in fact in the audience at the very first preview of the Palladium production, so it’s a show that has always stuck with me and it now feels very special to be putting my own stamp on it.

Ian Fleming wrote the book over 50 years ago and this will be an amalgamation of his original story, the film version by Roald Dahl, and the previous stage production.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be familiar to a lot of people coming to see the show, how will you be bringing a fresh look to such a beloved show?

Although this is a story that is very well-known and loved by audiences, there are also aspects of the original story which are lesser known and which we will be showcasing in our version. Of course, our show will still have all the wonderful parts that we remember from the film. Caractacus Potts will still have his bamboo stick to dance to Me Ol’Bamboo, and we will be dancing through Scrumptious’s Sweet Factory to Toot Sweets, but we will also be bringing something that feels fresh and new within this story and have even added some new songs.

One thing we definitely won’t be changing, though, is Chitty herself. She will be as spectacular as ever and I can’t wait to see her take flight.

What do you hope the audiences will take away from the production?

I really hope that when people come to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they simply enjoy a wonderful evening at the theatre. This is a wildly entertaining show which all the family can enjoy. It has beautifully lavish sets and costumes, phenomenal special effects and, in my opinion, one of the greatest musical scores ever written.

Can you describe the show in three words?

Chitty in three words would be extravagant, joyful and, dare I say, fantasmagorical!

You’ve just got into the rehearsal rooms for the brand-new tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, how excited are you to be working with this cast?

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this team in the rehearsal room. We have a phenomenal cast, as led by Adam Garcia in the central role of Caractacus Potts, who are really helping to create a unique retelling of this story on stage.

I’m also very lucky to be collaborating with the creative team on this show, including Ben Cracknell in lighting, Morgan Large on sets and costumes, our sound designer Gareth Tucker, George Dyer on musical supervision, and Karen Bruce who has been doing wonderful work with the show’s choreography. It’s been a total joy being in the rehearsal room so far, and it’s been a real collaborative process with the entire team, from the creatives to our incredible cast.

SHOWSTOPPER! THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL REVIEW

PLAYHOUSE THEATRE, LIVERPOOL – UNTIL SATURDAY 11TH MAY 2024

REVIEWED BY MIA BOWEN

5*****

Titled ‘Showstopper! The Improvised Musical’, this show truly lives up to its name by featuring an improvised musical where the audience gets to decide the setting, genre, and characters on the spot. Without any pre-planned audience involvement, the cast and live band are challenged to create music and a storyline in the moment. Each show is unique, as every performance is crafted from scratch.

Showstopper! has been running successfully for nearly 16 years because it is simply brilliant, despite the potential for messiness. It has toured extensively around the UK, consistently selling out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe each year. In 2011, it had its own series on BBC Radio 4 and in 2015, it performed a 10-week run in London’s West End, winning an Olivier Award for its outstanding performance.

Showstopper! effortlessly makes improvisation appear easy, almost making you forget that the 90-minute performance, songs included, is being created right before your eyes. The way they make music out of literally anything is phenomenal.

In every show, a team of six performers called Showstoppers don vibrant red, white and black costumes paired with corresponding bowling shoes. They are brought on stage by a well-dressed character called The Writer and accompanied by musicians. The Writer receives a phone call from a producer, who is in urgent need of a fresh musical idea. The audience is then invited to suggest a setting, title, and various musical styles, which the actors will use to create a unique story. This format enables us to feel that we play a vital role in shaping the musical, it involves us in making important decisions.

During the performance of production number 1322 at The Playhouse, we decided to set the show in a nursing home, narrowly choosing it over a multi-level car park. We titled it Between The Sheets and requested songs from Sondheim, Oklahoma, Book of Mormon and Hairspray. During the interval, we were encouraged to tweet suggestions for the second half. It became more outrageous as people suggested songs from “Hamilton” and appearances from the felines in Cats! It seemed so polished; I cannot believe they made it up in front of our eyes.

The entire cast is exceptionally talented. It is a pleasure to watch them all collaborating in the moment. However, special recognition must be given to Pippa Evans for her exceptional contribution to the success of last night’s play.

Head to the Playhouse and immerse yourself in the sheer creativity of spontaneous theatre that guarantees to captivate you with each delightful and one-of-a-kind show. It’s a joyous celebration of the art of improvisation.

Awful Auntie Review

Richmond Theatre – until Sunday 12 May 2024

Reviewed by Carly Burlinge

5*****

Richmond brings you the well known and loved story written by the very talented David Walliams – Awful Auntie.

It tells the story of a young girl Stella Saxby (Annie Cordoni) who wakes up from a coma to realise that she has been involved in a terrible accident alongside her parents who unfortunately were not as lucky as she was and have sadly passed away! With only her Crazy Aunt Alberta (Neal Foster) there to give her all the details. Stella begins to realise that things are not as they seem and that she is actually a prisoner in her own home with her Auntie alongside her pet owl Wagner (Emily Essery) and they are both only after one thing … The deeds of Saxby Hall. As Stella begins to think she has no way out she discovers Soot (Matthew Allen)t he Ghost of Saxby Hall, and together, like detectives, they begin to piece the evidence together only to realise that Aunt Alberta is not whom she seems and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

The cast were just fantastic from start to finish with Awful Auntie – despite being the villain of the show she truly did bring us all the comedic relief we needed. Neal Foster played Awful Auntie perfectly, it was  almost as if she was straight out the book itself!

Emily Essery the puppeteer  as Wagner gave us a truly spectacular performance during the entirety of the show really allowing all the children and adults to be fascinated by the  movements, so much talent. Watching the children’s faces as she stopped through the front of the audience was magical to watch.

Stella managed to capture the essence of a younger child full of imagination and wonder along side Soot (Matthew Allen) A rhyming Cockney chimney sweep Ghost, who offered much entertainment together they showed some exceptional acting and a good partnership on stage.

I also loved how the stage changed when they left the house with everything becoming small and puppetry being used for each character. This was just fascinating to watch and very cleverly done just outstanding.

This was certainly a phenomenal show, truly wondrous! Definitely one for the whole family-just spectacular and not to be missed.

It was also very special to see David Walliams himself onstage giving a warm hello to all his fans what a wonderful ending to a wonderful show

RAMIN KARIMLOO AND ANOUSHKA LUCAS TO LEAD THE WORLD PREMIERE OF A FACE IN THE CROWD WITH SONGS BY ELVIS COSTELLO

RAMIN KARIMLOO AND ANOUSHKA LUCAS TO LEAD THE WORLD PREMIERE OF A FACE IN THE CROWD WITH SONGS BY ELVIS COSTELLO

  • Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, featuring Music and Lyrics by Elvis Costello and Book by Sarah Ruhl, A Face in the Crowd is a cautionary tale about the dangers of celebrity, power, and politics.
  • A Face in the Crowd runs at the Young Vic Theatre from 10 September – 9 November. Tickets are available at www.youngvic.org

The Young Vic Theatre today announces Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) and Anoushka Lucas (Oklahoma!, Elephant) in the world premiere of A Face in the Crowd,directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah in his final production as Young Vic Artistic Director, designed by Anna Fleischle. This brand new adaptation of the Hollywood classic, a cautionary tale about the dangers of celebrity, power, and politics, features original songs by Grammy Award-winner Elvis Costello and a Book by Sarah Ruhl (Eurydice, The Clean House), based on an original story by Budd Schulberg and the Warner Bros Film.It will run at the Young Vic from 10 September to 9 November with opening night for press on Tuesday 17 September.

Tony and Olivier Award nominated actor Ramin Karimloo,seen in major musical roles including as The Phantom in The Phantom of The Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, will play Lonesone Rhodes. Actor, singer, songwriter and playwright Anoushka Lucas returns to the Young Vic where she performed as Laurey in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and in the West End transfer, earning an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. She will play Marcia Jeffries. Further casting will be announced in due course.

You gotta keep him here, Miss Jeffries. He’s the goose who laid the golden egg.

When local radio producer Marcia Jeffries interviews drunk drifter ‘Lonesome Rhodes’ in his jail cell, she immediately sees his potential and gives him a slot on her show. But as Lonesome’s fans grow more clamorous and the politicians start taking notice, Marcia realises she has unleashed a force she can no longer control.

A Face in the Crowd is a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers of elevating celebrities to positions of unchecked power.

The creative team also brings together Lighting Designer Jackie Shemesh, Musical Supervisor and Musical Director Phil Bateman, Sound Designer Emma Laxton, Choreographer Lizzi Gee and Casting Director Heather Basten CDG.

Ramin Karimloo’s (Lonesome Rhodes) stage credits include: Songbird (Washington National Opera), The Addams Family (London Palladium), Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl (August Wilson Theatre, NYC), Rumi: The Musical (London Coliseum), Anatoly in Chess in Concert (Umeda Arts Theatre, Osaka & Tokyo International Forum), Judas in Jesus Chris Superstar in Concert (Theatre Orb, Tokyo), Che in Evita (Theatre Orb, Tokyo & Vancouver Opera), Gleb Vaganov in Anastasia (Broadway),The Secret Garden (Lincoln Centre), Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Toronto, West End & Broadway, Tony Award Nominee), The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (West End, Italy & Monte Carlo) & The Phantom in Love Never Dies (West End, Olivier Award Nominee).

Film/TV includes: Bound, Holby City, Nativity Rocks, Life’s Too Short, Blue Bloods, The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert HallLes Misérables in Concert. Ramin has toured worldwide both solo and with Ramin Karimloo & The Broadgrass Band. He has released five solo albums on Sony Records: From Now On, Human Heart and The Road to Find Out series.

Anoushka Lucas (Marcia Jeffries) returns to the Young Vic where she played Laurey in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and in the West End transfer, earning an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. She recently played Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible at Sheffield Theatres. Anoushka’s debut play Elephant, which she wrote and performed in, premiered at The Bush in 2022, and was reprised in 2023 to wide critical acclaim. She won a Stage Debut Best Writer Award and was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award. She is currently recording her second studio album. Previous theatre credits include lead roles in Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Henry V (DonmarWarehouseand Afterlife (National Theatre). Film includes: Murder on the Orient Express.

Elvis Costello is a writer and part-time musician who made a number of records in the 20th Century, some of which are still remembered today. Costello has been performing in public for over fifty years, writing over 500 songs and collaborating with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and his wife, Diana Krall.

Sarah Ruhl is an award-winning playwright, author, essayist, and professor. She has received the Tony Award nomination for Best Play and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Her many plays include Eurydice, The Clean House, Stage Kiss, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, Stage Kiss, the Oldest Boy and Letters from Max.  

Kwame Kwei-Armah is Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre and Artistic Advisor at Manhattan Theatre Club. He was previously Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage and Artistic Director of the Festival of Black Arts and Culture, Senegal. As a playwright, Kwame was the first black Briton to have a play produced in the West End (Elmina’s Kitchen). His triptych of plays was produced at the National Theatre where he created the online resource The Black Play Archive. Kwame was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama and has been listed as one of 100 Great Black Britons.

BSL Performance:  Tue 15 October, 7.30pm 

Captioned Performances: Thu 26 September, 7.30pm & Sat 5 October, 2.30pm 

Relaxed Performances: Sat 19 October, 2.30pm & Thu 24 October, 7.30pm 

Sensory Adapted Performance: Thu 10 October, 7.30pm

Audio Described Performances: Tues 1 October, 7.30pm & Sat 26 October, 2.30pm

WE’RE GONNA GIVE YOU TO THE COUNT OF TEN, TO GET YOUR UGLY, YELLA, NO-GOOD KEISTER TO THE OTHER PALACE STUDIO…1, 2, 10!

WE’RE GONNA GIVE YOU TO THE COUNT OF TEN, TO GET YOUR UGLY, YELLA, NO-GOOD KEISTER TO THE OTHER PALACE STUDIO…1, 2, 10!

AT THE OTHER PALACE STUDIO
29 NOVEMBER 2024 TO 05 JANUARY 2025

Following on from the highly successful A Very, Very Bad Cinderella last year, Jodie Prenger (Coronation Street, I’d Do Anything), along with Bobby Delaney (Zog and the Flying DoctorsAs You Like It),are back writing this year’s The Other Palace Studio Christmas show: Homo Alone! Which will play from 29 November 2024 until 5 January 2025. 

KEVIN!!!!! Stood at Mykonos airport baggage carousel Kevin McCallister’s Dads realise they have left their beloved son at home. With the Soho flat all to himself, he devises a plan to protect his home from a bumbling duo of burglars. These flamboyant intruders have their sights set on the family’s most prized possession. But our little Kevin has other plans for Marvina and Harretta.

A parody like no other. Come join the party and get ready for a laugh-out-loud festive musical extravaganza, that will have you cracking up this Christmas!

Jodie’s last festive show, A Very, Very Bad Cinderella, has not only been the best-selling Christmas show at The Other Palace Studio, it also received rave reviews. With West End Best Friend saying, “…this is definitely not one to miss!”,and I came out at the end with a great big grin on my face” from What’sOnStage.

Writer Jodie Prenger says: “when I was asked to be involved with such a camp, glorious Christmas parody…(!) let me tell you, they had me at camp. Winter can be grim, so I really hope this tickles your tinsel. Enjoy, and be prepared to laugh for all the wrong reasons

Paul Taylor-Mills, Artistic Director at The Other Palace: “I’m thrilled to be welcoming back such a talented writing team, to create a bit of extravagant Christmas fun in the Studio with another festive, naughty musical parody”

Homo Alone is written by Jodie Prenger and Bobby Delaney. Cast and creatives to be announced.