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Sister Act casting announced

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under News

After a year long global search, 24 year-old US actress Patina Miller has been cast to make her West End debut playing the lead role of ‘Deloris Van Cartier’ in the divine new musical comedy “SISTER ACT”.  Born and raised in South Carolina, Patina’s previous credits include the critically acclaimed 2008 production of Hair in New York.  The role of Deloris in “SISTER ACT” was made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie of the same name, and Goldberg is a co-producer of the stage version.

Starring alongside Patina will be Sheila Hancock as ‘Mother Superior’.  To many, a national treasure and a multi-BAFTA nominee, Sheila’s career spans theatre, television, radio and film and she won a 2007 Olivier Award for her performance in CabaretDad’s Army and EastEnders actor Ian Lavender also stars as ‘Monsignor Howard’.  “SISTER ACT” opens at the London Palladium on 2 June, following previews from 7 May.

Whoopi Goldberg says:

I am proud to announce that we’ve finally found you an amazing girl to play Deloris. It wasn’t easy, but we did it.  And boy, can she sing (unlike some people we know – me!). And in order to match her, we went for the best and we got the brilliant… Sheila Hancock is our Mother Superior, a legend and not just in my mind.  I think together they will reinvent SISTER ACT and bring it to a whole new level…can you tell I’m excited?”

Also starring in “SISTER ACT” will be Chris Jarman as ‘Shank’, Ako Mitchell as ‘Eddie’, Katie Rowley Jones as ‘Sister Mary Robert’, Claire Greenway as ‘Sister Mary Patrick’ and Julia Sutton as ‘Sister Mary Lazarus’, Thomas Goodridge as ‘TJ’, Nicolas Colicos as ‘Bones’ and Ivan De Freitas as ‘Dinero’.  The cast also includes Vanessa Barmby, Amy Booth-Steel, Julian Cannonier, Ben Clare, Helen Colby, Kate Coyston, Jennie Dale, Jaymz Denning, Nia Fisher, Alison Harding, Paul Kemble, Debbie Kurup, George Long, Hugh Maynard, Jo Napthine, Aysa O’Flaherty, Landi Oshinowo, Verity Quade, Helen Walsh and Emma Woods.

“SISTER ACT” features a score by Alan Menken, eight-time Oscar winner and composer of many of the world famous songs from Disney’s movies, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin and Enchanted, with lyrics from his long- time collaborator Glenn Slater.  The book is by the award-winning team Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, whose writing credits include the classic television comedy Cheers, and the production is directed by Peter Schneider.

“SISTER ACT” has musical supervision by Michael Kosarin, choreography by Anthony Van Laast, set design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Lez Brotherston, sound design by Mick Potter, lighting design by Natasha Katz and musical direction by Nicholas Skilbeck.

“SISTER ACT” is produced in London by Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment, producers of Hairspray, Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour!, High School Musical and Saturday Night Fever.


The West End beats Broadway again

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Broadway News, News

Recession?… What recession?

SOLT has just announced that 2008 was a record-breaking year for West End theatre with millions of people choosing to see a show in London.

The final total was a whopping 13,807,286 theatregoers – up 1% on 2007. To put this in perspective, Broadway in 2008 achieved a total audience of 12,319,902; the O2 arena sold 1,806, 447 tickets, and Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour was the highest grossing in concert history, entertaining 2,350,282 million fans.

It’s not all good news though as musicals were the main beneficiary of the increases whilst plays dropped 1%.

Also SOLT reports that the second half of 2008 was less successful than the first half, perhaps indicating that 2009 may still prove to be a challenging year. However, the West End is certainly fully prepared for a fight, with a slew of big hitting shows and stars landing in town over the next few months.


What’s New in the West End

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Thriller Live – Round-up of Reviews

January 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews of Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre in London.

Thriller Live

Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre

Michael Jackson tribute show Thriller Live features the pop superstar’s greatest hits and recreates some of his – and the Jackson 5’s – most memorable live performances and set pieces.

Read reviews below from the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and more.


Book tickets to Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre in London

South Bank Show Awards 2009

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Awards, South Bank Show Awards


Awards announced: 20 January 2009

The Clothes on their Backs by Linda Grant

Othello – Donmar Warehouse

Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

Classical Music
Alfred Brendel’s Retirement Concerts

ENO’s co-production with the Young Vic (Lost Highway / Punch and Judy)

TV Drama
The Devil’s Whore (C4)

Pulling – Series 2 (BBC3)

Wayne McGregor for Entity and Infra

Visual Arts
Peter Doig – Tate Britain

Hunger – Steve McQueen

Arts Council England’s Diversity Award
Mohammed Ali, Street Artist

The Times Breakthrough Award
Aaron Sillis (Dance)

Outstanding Achievement Award in association with The Dorchester
Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Nigel Planer to join Hairspray; Michaell Ball extends run

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The producers of Hairspray have announced that Nigel Planer and Verity Rushworth are to join the cast of the multi-award winning musical, beginning on Monday 2 February.  Nigel takes over the role of ‘Wilbur Turnblad’, husband of larger than life ‘Edna’ played by Michael Ball.  Verity will play ‘Penny Pingleton’, best friend of ‘Tracy Turnblad’ played by Leanne Jones.

Nigel Planer is best known as Neil in ‘The Young Ones. His numerous West End credits include ‘Chicago’, ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ and ‘Wicked’.  Verity joined the cast of ‘Emmerdale’ in the role of Donna Windsor-Dingle at the age of 12, and has gone on to become one of the show’s best loved characters.  She leaves the programme onscreen at the end of January 2009.  She also appeared in the 2007 season of ITV’s ‘Soapstar Superstar’.

Current and original lead performers Michael Ball, Leanne Jones and Ben James-Ellis have all extended their contracts to remain with the show and will now perform until Saturday 25 July 2009.  The role of ‘Edna Turnblad’ is the longest continuing part that Michael has ever played in the West End.

The smash hit award-winning musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre won ‘Best Musical’ as well as ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ for Michael Ball and ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ for Leanne Jones at the 2008 Olivier Awards.


Free hotels offer

January 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Offers

Free London hotel rooms on offerin major new West End theatre promotion

Thousands of free rooms included in the price of a ticket to 13 major West End shows

Westendtheatre.com has announced a major new promotion offering free hotel rooms in London when buying a theatre ticket.Shows included in the promotion include successful musicals Hairspray, Joseph, Grease, Sunset Boulevard, Chicago, Billy Elliot, Wicked, The Sound of Music and Zorro.

Running until 31st March 2009, the promotion features a range of hotels across London. A 3* hotel is offered free when booking one of the 13 shows available, with also the opportunity to upgrade to a 4* or 5* hotel for a small additional fee. Prices start at only £44.75 per person for a twin room and tickets to a show, based on two people sharing.


People to watch: Paul Wills

January 11, 2009 by  
Filed under News

This week it’s the turn of Theatre Design to attract our attention. And up and coming new star in this world seems to be PAUL WILLS. Over the last few years he has been coming to the fore with a body of work that includes some of the major London and regional theatres – none more so than his current production of See How They Run at the Royal Exchange in Manchester – plus designing their forthcoming production of Macbeth.

He has also recently covered opera (English Touring Opera’s Rusalka), new plays Pornography at Birmingham Rep and The Frontline at The Globe, and a classic revival of Arthur Miller’s The Man Who Had All The Luck at the Donmar Warehouse.

Wills (29) trained at Bretton Hall in Leeds, associate and assistant designing with key figures such as Stephen Brimson Lewis and Christopher Oram before moving on to design his own productions at notable venues including the Young Vic, the Tricycle Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, the Classic Stage Company in New York, The Watermill Theatre, The Menier Chocolate Factory, the Royal Court Upstairs, the Bush, the Gate and the RSC’s The Other Place.

More unusual projects must include a production of The Magic Flute for the National Theatre of Palestine in Bethlehem and Ramallah, directed by Sam West.

Theatre design – particularly in the West End – is often dominated by a handful of grand-dame theatre designers, so it’s promising that young designers are managing to battle through to the foreground and forge a solid reputation.

Paul Wills’ full biography:  www.paulwills.co.uk

Special ticket offers

January 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Offers

January means a host of special offers on London theatre tickets. This month westendtheatre.com features a range of discounted shows including £20 off Dirty Dancing, £16 off Joseph – featuring Gareth Gates, £20 off Sunset Boulevard, £26 off Carousel, £20 off Billy Elliot £26 off Woman in Mind starring Janie Dee – plus offers from the National Theatre.

For the latest special offers visit: www.westendtheatre.com/offers

Coming up in 2009: A Doll’s House

January 4, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Gillian Anderson is to star in a new production of Ibsen’s classic play A Doll’s House at the Donmar Warehouse.

She will be joined by a stellar cast that will include Christopher Eccleston, Toby Stephens, Tara Fitzgerald and Anton Lesser.

In a new version by Zinnie Harris, the play will be directed by Kfir Yefet and designed by Anthony Ward.

In the classic drama, Nora loves her husband above all else. But when she risks her reputation in order to save his, she begins to question her devotion and finds herself fighting for her own life.

Zinnie Harris’s new version is set against the backdrop of British politics at the turn of the last century, in a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule.

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Coming up in 2009: Phaedra at the National Theatre

January 4, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Helen Mirren to star in Phaedra Dominic Cooper to star in Phaedra

Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia!) star in a new National Theatre production of Jean Racine’s 1677 classic tragedy Phaedra, directed by Nicholas Hytner. The production will co-star Margaret Tyzack and open in June 2009.

In a version by Ted Hughes, the story centres on a Greek myth about a queen who falls passionately in love with her stepson in her husband’s absence.

Booking with westendtheatre.com opens soon

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