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An Inspector Calls

September 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Round-up of An Inspector Calls reviews at the Novello Theatre, London:

Telegraph: 5/5

Evening Standard: 3/5

Times: 4/5

OPENING THOUGHTS

Times: More than 15 years after its first appearance at the National Theatre in 1992, it’s still heart-thumpingly thrilling.

Telegraph: Daldry’s 1992 calling-card production hasn’t even begun to settle into some dusty, well-worn groove. In fact, not only is it ever-green fresh but it dawns on you that no other revival in this dying decade has come close to matching its breathtaking daring and faultless execution.

DIRECTION

Times: Stephen Daldry’s extraordinary reinvention of J. B. Priestley’s classic has lost none of its fierce pertinence

Telegraph: Daldry creates a running conversation between past and future, cause and effect, dream and reality. What could just be a soap-box for socialism becomes a multi-layered, mind-blowing box of tricks…. The fact that this Inspector has triumphed over time – and looks set to run and run – is rather apt since Daldry’s direction, which works hand in glove with Ian MacNeil’s exquisite expressionistic design, plays such ingenious games with temporal perspective.

ES: The real achievement of Daldry is to make something Wagnerian out of a play that is usually conceived in the idiom of Agatha Christie. It’s tempting to think of him as an alchemist, an instinctive master of how to fuse story and spectacle… Daldry’s feat is to reclaim Priestley as an experimental artist. He reimagines the play as a darkly psychological drama complete with brooding string music and sepulchral woodwind.

DESIGN

Times: Ian MacNeil’s design is as impressive as ever, and even if it no longer comes as a surprise to many, the cacophonous collapse of the Birling home as the family’s shameful secrets are exposed is a stunning coup de théâtre.

ES: The design, by Ian MacNeil, is the production’s star turn.

ACTING

Times: A faintly coarse note creeps into a couple of the performances, but the acting is mostly compelling.

Telegraph: Recently out of RADA, Robin Whiting impresses as the disturbed young Eric, as does Marianne Oldham as his equally stricken sister Sheila. Hats off first and last, though, to Nicholas Woodeson, superbly tense, tough and watchful as Goole.

ES: The action is neatly constructed… Nicholas Woodeson, in a suit he appears to have borrowed from a much larger man, is an appropriately beady-eyed Inspector. But he is mostly too self‑effacing – and then briefly stentorian, thundering out his moralistic criticism.Around him there are performances that are enjoyable yet far from subtle.

LAST WORD

Times: This is, though, outstanding theatre: a production of provocative, penetrating and exuberant brilliance.

Telegraph: Nicholas Woodeson [is] superbly tense, tough and watchful as Goole and powering the evening towards a conclusion that is as shattering as it is artistically satisfying.

ES: The production is entertaining but in the end a little too elaborately packaged.

Times: Sam Marlowe

Telegraph: Dominic Cavendish

Evening Standard:  Henry Hitchings


Book tickets to An Inspector Calls at the Novello Theatre, London and SAVE £13

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Friend comes out for West End

September 29, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Hollywood heart-throb Rupert Friend will star in new Tony award-winning comedy The Little Dog Laughed, at the Garrick Theatre in London from 8 January 2010. He will be joined by film and TV stars Gemma Arterton and Tamsin Grieg.

The play by Douglas Carter Beane is about Hollywood film actor Mitch, played by Friend, who is determined to come out of the closet against the wishes of his lean, mean, brash and crass agent (Greig). A love triangle ensues when Mitch falls for a rent boy who has a girlfriend (Arterton).

Gemma Arterton makes her West End stage debut in the play after a heady few years of high-profile film and TV parts including Quantum of Solace, The Boat That Rocked and St Trinian’s.

Rupert Friend has also become one of the UK’s highest profile young stars with a number of choice film roles including The Young Victoria and Cheri.

Tamsin Grieg is best known for TV comedies Green Wing and Love Soup, and has also appeared in numerous film, TV and stage roles.

The play opened in January 2006 off-Broadway and the UK premiere will be directed by Jamie Lloyd, who is experienced at star vehicles having recently directed James McAvoy in Three Days of Rain.

The New York Times said of the comedy that it’s, “the tastiest homegrown comedy of manners to hit New York since, well, Mr. Beane’s “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

SPECIAL OFFER: Save £12 on tickets to The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick Theatre London (valid Monday to Thursdays until 21 January)

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Our Class – Review

September 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Review of OUR CLASS at the Cottesloe, National Theatre

The history it covers is complex, but the staging of Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s distressing new play (in a version by Ryan Craig) couldn’t be simpler. There isn’t a prop in sight bar the wooden chairs which are both the starting point and final resting place of Dora, Menachem, Heniek, Zygmunt and their fellow classmates who return from the dead to relive their lives from the moment they started school in 1925.

Stepping into the bare rectangular playing area, the five Jewish tots and their Catholic counterparts introduce themselves and their ambitions in childish tones, oblivious to the differences which are destined to determine their futures. But these children are from the Polish village of Jedwabne, where, in 1941, the sizeable Jewish population was virtually eradicated overnight – apparently not, as previously believed, by the invading Germans but, it is now claimed, by their own Polish neighbours.

As their country comes under the power of first the Soviets, then the Nazis, the fortunes and status of the ten Jason Watkins (Heniek) in ‘Our Class’. Amanda Hale (Rachelka – later Marianna), Sinead Matthews (Dora) and Lee Ingleby (Zygmunt). protagonists change, shift and overlap. There’s an occasional act of defiant heroism or unexpected kindness in the face of a mass determination to purge the town of every single one of the 1600 Jews, but, overwhelmingly, ignorance, fear and treacherously self-serving deception fuel the group mentality of brutal anti-Semitism and destroy the bonds formed in childhood.

Even the good fortune of Abram who sails to America in the 30’s and lives long enough to become the head of another dynasty to replace those who were lost is scant compensation for the dreadful fate of his Jewish classmates.

Fine, well-defined performances (including Lee Ingleby’s cold, calculating Zygmunt, Sinead Matthews’ Dora with unfulfilled dreams of becoming a film star and Jason Watkins’ creepy cleric) sustain the three hours of director Bijan Sheibani’s excellent production, and this grim but involving drama shows, tragically, that terrible deeds often reap far greater rewards than honourable ones.

Louise Kingsley. Courtesy of This Is London.

Spice Girl to join Blood Brothers

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Melanie Chisholm, otherwise known as Sporty Spice from the Spice Girls, is to make her West End debut next month in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre.

Playing the lead role of Mrs Johnstone, Mel C, 35, joins a roll call of famous theatrical ladies who have played the part including Barbara Dickson, Petula Clark, Kiki Dee and currently X-Factor runner-up Nikki Evans.

Willy Russell’s dramatic musical about a pair of twins from Liverpool who are separated at birth only to cross paths later in life has run successfully at the Phoenix Theatre since 1991 and remains one of London’s most popular and successful shows.

Mel C will start performances on 26 October.

Save £29 on tickets to Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre

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Swayze honoured in West End

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Hollywood star Patrick Swayze was honoured last night with one minute’s silence at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End.

Before the evening performance of Dirty Dancing at the theatre, a minute’s silence was held as a tribute to the star, who died on Monday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Swayze starred in the hit 1987 film Dirty Dancing alongside Jennifer Grey, and became an international star.

This was followed by his role in blockbuster movie Ghost, which is also set to become a West End musical in 2010 with music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and direction by Matthew Warchus.

The creator and writer of both the movie and the stage show Eleanor Bergstein said in a statement: “The cast and crew of Dirty Dancing join the loving fans of Patrick Swayze all over the world in shock and sorrow at the loss of a great artist and a courageous man. We are grateful for the inspiration his great spirit has given to us. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”

His stage career included roles in Grease and Chicago on Broadway and as Nathan Detroit in 2006 West End production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Patrick Wayne Swayze, August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009


Save £20 on tickets to Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre

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Griff Rhys Jones to star in Oliver!

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Comedy appears to be a key factor in casting the role of Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s multi-million pound production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

First Rowan Atkinson was cast in the lead role when the show opened at the Theatre Royal in January this year, followed by current Fagin, Iranian comedian Omid Djalili. And now the producers have announced that TV and stage star Griff Rhys Jones has landed the part of Dickens’ greatest villain.

Griff shot to fame in the late seventies on satirical TV show Not The Nine O’Clock News alongside Rowan Atkinson. No stranger to theatre, he has won Laurence Olivier best comedy awards for his performances in Charley’s Aunt and An Absolute Turkey and has enjoyed great success on stage and TV.

Producer of Oliver! Cameron Mackintosh said, “I’ve wanted to work with Griff for years so I’m delighted that the marvellous role of Fagin has tempted him back to the stage this Christmas. Griff is an actor with an amazing array of successful talents, all of which will undoubtedly be poured into his unique and entertaining interpretation of one of Dickens’ most famous and beloved creations. I can’t wait!”

Griff joins the cast of the Rupert Goold directed show alongside BBC “I’d Do Anything” winner Jodie Prenger, as Nancy and performs from 14 December until June 2010.

BOOK TICKETS TO OLIVER!

Great Oliver! dinner and show packages from £32.50

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Car Hire Advice in London

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel Guide

Hiring a car to get around in London can be an expensive option unless you plan to also see other places in the UK. Hire car costs, the congestion charge and parking fees all add to the expense, plus the city is relatively compact and a good public transport system makes getting round easy (see our Getting Around Guide).

Hiring a car

If you’d like to hire a car in London then often picking it up at the airport makes sense. All of the major car hire companies are represented at London’s five major airports and at major railway stations and key areas across the capital. See a comprehensive guide and advice on hiring a car at CarHireInsure.com.

You have two main choices in hiring a car:

1. Go direct and hire a car with the car hire company. Major hire car companies represented in the UK include Hertz, Sixt and Alamo. They often run special offers and promotions.

2. Use an aggregator that scans across a number of car hire companies to find a good deal. Major players include Ebookers and Carrentals.co.uk.

 

Parking at the airport:

It’s usually cheaper and easier to pre-book if you intend on parking at one of London’s airports. See companies such as Purple Parking for airport parking deals.

Parking in London

If you are staying out of London but driving in for the theatre then make use of Westminster City Council Car Park’s Theatreland Parking Scheme. You can save 50% on your car parking charge by driving to a participating car park and taking a paper ticket upon entry. Then at the West End theatre you are attending ask the box-office staff to validate your paper ticket using their special validation machine. When you return to the car park and insert your paper ticket in the payment machine you’ll enjoy a 50% discount off the standard casual tariff. The participating car parks are: Chinatown; Pimlico; Leicester Square; Soho; Marble Arch / Park Lane; Trafalgar Square; Oxford Street. See more details of theatres and corresponding car parks here.

Car Hire Excess Insurance

When hiring a car it’s worth getting Car Hire Excess insurance to protect yourself against the excess charges you are expected to pay if the car is damaged. You can insure yourself rather than the car and choose between annual policies for unlimited car hire or day rates. Taking out independent excess insurance is cheaper than taking out a car hire company’s excess insurance policy. Read more about Car Hire Excess Insurance at CarHireInsure.

Driving in London

It’s not as scary as you might think, but driving in London requires a bit of planning. The Congestion Charge zone is an area of central London that you have to pay £8 per day to enter on Mondays to Fridays 7am to 6pm. There are no toll booths or barriers – but rather cameras patrol the zone and you need to pay the charge online or call 0845 900 1234 or pay at selected service stations or newsagents.

Parking can be expensive – although if you are going to the theatre you can save up to 50% (see Parking above).

Westendtheatre.com is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. Please check all information before you book or travel.

Sister Act – Round-up of Reviews

September 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

A summary of Sister Act reviews

  • Charles Spencer – The Telegraph:4/5
  • Fiona Mountford – Evening Standard:4/5
  • Michael Coveney – The Independent:3/5
  • Maxie Szalwinska – The Sunday Times:3/5
  • Benedict Nightingale – The Times: 3/5
  • Michael Billington – The Guardian: 2/5
  • Quentin Letts – Daily Mail: 2/5

Reviews were mixed for major new musical Sister Act at the London Palladium when it opened last week. Some of the big hitters such as Charles Spencer of the Telegraph and Fiona Mountford of the Evening Standard loved the show, whilst others were more reserved.

Based on the hit 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, who is an exec producer on the new stage show, the musical premiered at the Palladium with a performer dressed as a nun abseiling down the side of the theatre and a celebrity filled audience, including Goldberg.

The musical stars West End newcomer Patina Miller as cabaret singer Delores and Sheila Hancock as Mother Superior.

Review of the reviews – Opening Thoughts

OB: “This summer’s feelgood night out in London”

GU: “What we have here is a show that feels less like a personally driven work of art than a commercial exploitation of an existing franchise”

TE: “Sister Act proves more enjoyable on stage than it did on film… Frankly, what’s not to like, especially when you’ve got a chorus line of jiving nuns singing their hearts out ecstatically?”

VA: “Shamelessly and irresistibly entertaining”

DM: “Call me a miserable old monk, but I hated Sister Act”

ES: “Whether or not divine intervention is involved, it’s a wimple-wibbling, habit-forming triumph”

IN: “There’s no such thing as restraint anywhere in Peter Schneider’s production”

ST: “It’s safe to say the stage show trumps the film – at least for aficionados of serious kitsch”

TI: “A rather sweet, sentimental film has been hyped up, coarsened, given… the big, brash Broadway treatment”

The Story / Book

OB: “It’s not the most original story in the world”

GU: “In order to pad out a slight story, every key member of the cast also has to be given a number. As a result, the plot grinds to a halt…”

TE: “The book, by Cheers writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, is strong, funny and touching”

DM: “I know I may be taking it too seriously, but I found myself recoiling sharply from this story’s saccharine values and its bullying gaiety”

Patina Miller

OB: “[Her] sheer sexy singing vim leaves the film’s star, Whoopi Goldberg, looking retrospectively miscast”

GU: “Patina Miller invests Deloris with a wealth of raucous energy and just about convinces in her conversion from fame-seeking individualist to member of the singing sorority”

TE: “The show’s real find… she has all the comic vitality of Whoopi Goldberg in the film, but she’s sexier and sings up a storm”

VA: “Sassier, snappier and younger… Miller’s powerhouse vocals, pitched somewhere between Gloria Gaynor and Whitney Houston, and her thrillingly fast vibrato act as the show’s engine”

DM: “After an off-key start, shows herself to have a cheesy presence and a Merlin engine of a voice”

ES: “There can be no disputing the evening’s main draw: 24-year-old Miller… her magnificent voice is rich, soaring and, crucially, unflagging. She might have been unknown last night, but today all that will have changed”

IN: “This unknown 24-year-old from South Carolina is the real deal, a genuine new star, oozing confidence and sex appeal like it was going out of fashion”

ST: “Less brash than Goldberg, but pretty fabulous nonetheless”

TI:  “Patina Miller, is the show’s great plus”

Sheila Hancock

OB: “Sheila Hancock and Claire Greenway, as the Mother Superior and the tubby ingenue nun, offer sidespreads of delight and razor-sharp timing”

GU: “Lends the show some needed gravitas”

TE: “A warmer but no less winning performance”

VA:  “One of the U.K.’s best-loved actors, does droll like no one else”

DM: “On fine form”

ES: “Delightfully droll”

The Music

OB: “Don’t expect the Motown hits of the film; we have a set of new disco inventions, which mostly work”

GU: “Alan Menken’s music admittedly has a pounding effectiveness”

TE: “The disco-inspired score… is a cracker”

VA: “Alan Menken’s new score (aside from the ballads) says goodbye Motown, hello disco…  But the problem with pastiche is that it irons out a composer’s individual voice”

ES: “Attractive, gospel-inflected score”

IN: “There’s nothing really refreshingly new here even if you might feel like brushing down your John Travolta poses when you get home”

ST: “Is at its best when tipping its hat to 1970s tunes”

TI: “There’s less deft comedy, but much more music, most of it indebted to the 1970s, where the action is now set. That lets Alan Menken, the composer, have a lot of catchy fun with period rock and disco”

Staging & Direction

OB: “What transforms this… are the sets (Klara Zieglerova), which ravish the eye and dance with glee”

GU: “Everything is coarsely overstated”

TE: “Pacy direction by former Disney executive Peter Schneider”

VA: “Peter Schneider’s extremely well-cast production is enshrined in sets that create little atmosphere”

TI: “The film’s point was that Deloris liberates the nuns’ voices while they liberate her spirit… But there’s no gentle piety here. If Deloris liberates the sisters, it’s for roles in A Chorus Line”

The Last Word

OB: “If you can smother quibbles about the daft story… and if, crucially, you like to save up for big-budget musical spectaculars, this is your night this summer”

GU: “All too typically the nuns, in Anthony van Laast’s choreography, kick up their heels like the Rockettes and prance around in gilt vestments that might be described as surplice to requirements”

TE: “I suspect this musical comedy about a nun on the run could prove habit-forming”

VA: “Is “Sister Act” great theatrical art? No. Is it hit entertainment? Oh, yes”

DM: “Hold on to your wimples”

ES: “Take it away, sisters”

IN: “It’s show time, not musical theatre magic”

ST: “With its lashings of glitter, such is its assault on reticence (and our retinas), the show occasionally has you longing for a spell of calm contemplation, perhaps a vow of silence”

TI: “Patina Miller display the first of her star qualities, a terrific voice. Add warmth, humour, vivacity – and you’ve a star who lacks Whoopi’s wry vulnerability but adds dazzle to the razzle around her”

Book tickets to see Sister Act at the London Palladium

Special Offer: Book top price tickets and enjoy a FREE DINNER at a West End restauarant

KEY TO REVIEWS:

OB: The Observer Sister Act review by Euan Ferguson

TI: The Times Sister Act review by Benedict Nightingale

ST:The Sunday Times Sister Act review by Maxie Szalwinska

IN: The Independent  Sister Act review by Michael Coveney

ES: Evening Standard Sister Act review by Fiona Mountford

DM: Daily Mail Sister Act review by Quentin Letts

VA: Variety Sister Act review by David Benedict

GU: The Guardian Sister Act review by Michael Billington

TE: The Telegraph Sister Act Review by Charles Spencer

Priscilla – Reviews Round-up

September 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The critics’ reception to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, which officially opened on Monday, was decidedly mixed, although mostly middle of the road – which is fitting for a musical based on a road movie. There was no doubt on the merits of the design, and the cast and direction were largely praised. However, the source material (i.e. the movie), or what was done with it, led to most of the criticism.

Michael Coveney in The Independent and Michael Billington in The Guardian gave the show 2 stars, with Charles Spencer in The Telegraph, Nicholas de Jongh in the Evening Standard and Benedict Nightingale in The Times opting for 4 stars.

Here’s a quick round-up of the reviews:

FIRST OFF

Michael Coveney: “I will survive, I’m sure, but the Priscilla wave that caught the Palace Theatre last night was a pretty strong blast of lethal elements…”

Michael Billington: “Compared with the warmth and joie de vivre of La Cage aux Folles, this musical version of the famous 1994 Australian movie feels like a synthetic spectacle.”

David Benedict: “Simon Phillips’ enjoyably shameless tuner restyling of this tale of self-affirmation on heels and wheels doesn’t so much teeter toward as topple into self-indulgence. But audiences happily whipped up into having, in every sense, a gay old time are likely to overlook its curious flaws.”

Charles Spencer: “Those who like their musicals tasteful, subtle, and preferably written by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Trevor Nunn should give this wildly entertaining new import from Australia a wide berth. It makes Mamma Mia! seem like something by Chekhov.”

Benedict Nightingale: “Let’s reassure those who recall the film of Priscilla, or helped to make it the cult it remains, that the stage version has everything, maybe more than everything, they could reasonably expect.”

Ian Shuttleworth: “The basic story – two drag queens and an older transsexual journey in an old coach from Sydney to Alice Springs to do a show and to introduce Tick to his young son – is there, but little more.”

Nicholas de Jongh: “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert comes flouncing and flaunting into the West End. I welcome it with open arms and a glad rag-bag of positive adjectives. London has never played host to a musical pitched on a higher level of gayness and camp comedy, transsexual barrier-breaking and bitchy, witty drag-queenery, than this ingenious adaptation of the sensational film of the same name.”

ON JASON DONOVAN

MC: “Donovan, it has to be said, seems to have lost what little stage personality he had developed as Joseph in the Deamcoat, and turned, well, rancid.”

DB: “Jason Donovan… possesses adequate skills, but his stage wattage never rises above warm.”

CS: “Jason Donovan is engagingly gauche and touching as a gay man facing up to the responsibilities of fatherhood

BN: “And at least when he’s in his paternal mode, Donovan also brings a little gravity and texture to a potentially bland character.”

ON THE DESIGN

MC: “The divas descend from Sydney Harbour Bridge, cleverly evoked by legendary designer Brian Thomson. But that’s as good visually as it gets.”

MB: “What the show is really about is spectacle; which, thanks to Brian Thomson’s production design and the costumes of Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, is hurled across in bucketloads.”

DB: “The production’s most extravagantly successful element — its design. Brian Thomson’s sets — especially the impressively lit bus — may be the show’s real star.”

BN: “There’s energy, fun, tunefulness and, above all, the most outrageous swirl of costumes that I, who have seen La Cage aux Folles and even boggled at Ian McKellen’s Widow Twankey, have yet encountered.”

DB: “Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s ceaseless parade of spectacular costumes, making “Wicked” look like a weekend in Amish country.”

CS: “The costumes and wigs are almost insanely over the top and feature so many feathers one begins to fear for the survival of the ostrich as a species; even the bus Priscilla is an ingeniously mechanised and cunningly designed delight.”

ON THE DIRECTION

MC: “Simon Phillips’s production is slick, well-organised and fairly enjoyable.”

NdJ: “Simon Phillips’s production artfully exploits the fact that drag queenery relies on excess and exaggeration.”

MB: “Simon Phillips directs this kaleidoscopic extravaganza with martial skill.”

CS: “Simon Phillips’s production has a driving energy and a palpable mission to delight”

ON THE HUMOUR

CS: “… the one-liners and snide put-downs are also wonderfully funny and there was one gag involving a man nicknamed Trumpet and a ginger nut biscuit that almost had me out of my seat and writhing helplessly in the aisle.”

BN: “There are wisecracks galore (“we’ll be nothing but skin and silicone”, moans Tick after that desert breakdown) and songs you’ll recognise, starting with Downtown, ending in Always on My Mind.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

MC: “The journey from Sydney to Ayres Rock is a relatively modest one, but this lot have been caught up in a disco fever that doesn’t justify their travel passes. Big hand, though, for the finale costumes of shellfish and jungle animals that suddenly appeared as if by osmosis in a presentational void.”

MB: “Although the show is eventually about a father-son reunion, it never touches the heart. And, given the unexplored richness of Australian theatre, it is a pity that this artistically buoyant country should now be represented in the West End by this garish throwback in which camp is determinedly overpitched.”

DB: “There’s competition in London’s current hit revival of another grand-scale, truly gay musical, “La Cage aux Folles.” But judging by the newcomer’s infectious feel-good tone, this show’s even higher levels of sentimentality and cheerfully filthy humor are anything but a drag.”

CS: “The fastidious and the squeamish should avoid this show like the plague. Everyone else will have a terrific drag ball.”

IS: “This is not a show about diversity, or sexuality, or even drag… but if you want big frocks and wigs, clapping along to 1980s boys’-town musical numbers and a chance to pretend that you’re being affirmative without having to think or feel a thing for almost three hours, this is the show for you.”

NdJ:  “When these gender- illusionists have dragged up, faced bar-room violence and returned to their bus to find the words “f**k off, faggots” painted all over it, the singing of Both Sides Now is given a searing poignancy. In similar fashion Always On My Mind, Tick’s song to his son who comes to accepts his gay father, helps bring a reconciling laughter and pathos to this bitter-sweet, big-hit musical, that stands up for brave sexual outsiders.”

The critics:

Michael Coveney, The Independent

Michael Billington, The Guardian

David Benedict, Variety

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

Benedict Nightingale, The Times

Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times

Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard

BOOK TICKETS TO SEE PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT AT THE PALACE THEATRE

Belinda Carlisle to join Hairspray

September 8, 2009 by  
Filed under News

It’s all change at Hairspray as the producers announce another cast change starting 26 October. Pop star Belinda Carlisle will join the big-budget, big-hair show as Velma Von Tussle, alongside the Never Mind The Buzzcocks comedian Phill Jupitus, who will take the role of Edna Turnblad, formerly played by Michael Ball and currently by Brian Conley.

Also musicals stalwart Sharon D Clarke , who has played many of the West End’s big shows, will take the role of Motormouth Mabel.

Other cast members remain in place including Chloe Hart (Tracy Turnblad), Verity Rushworth (Penny) Liam Tamne (Link Larkin), Adrian Hansel (Seaweed) and Raquel Jones (Little Inez) all remain with the show and are joined by new cast members Tony Timberlake (Wilbur Turnblad), Nicola Brazil (Amber Von Tussle) and Gavin Alex (Corny Collins).

Hairspray has won numerous awards including the Olivier Award Best Musical gong and Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards.

Hairspray starts Sunday performances from Sunday 8 November, running Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, with matinees on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 3.00pm.

Hairspray discount tickets: Save £27.50 on tickets with westendtheatre.com

BACKGROUND

Belinda Carlisle is a Grammy Award nominated singer and actress.  As lead singer of the groundbreaking band The GoGo’s she was part of the first ever girl group who wrote and played their own music to top the Billboard Charts in the US.  Following extensive touring with The GoGo’s, her solo career was hugely successful with global hits including Circle In The Sand, Leave A Light On For Me, I Get Weak, We Want The Same Thing, Live Your Life Be Free and the international number one Heaven Is A Place On Earth.  Screen credits include the movie “Swing Shift” and appearances on “Dancing With The Stars” (ABC) and “Hell’s Kitchen” (ITV1).  Based in France, Belinda still performs around the world.

Phill Jupitus is a broadcaster, writer and actor who has appeared on British television & radio and the stage for over 20 years.  His career began at record label Go Discs where he was press officer for The Housemartins and directed videos for Billy Bragg and Kirsty McColl.  He also worked as a performance poet and compered for acts like Madness, The Who and Paul Weller before becoming a regular fixture on the UK comedy circuit.  He has appeared on many television and radio panel shows including “QI” and “News Quiz”, as well as being a regular team captain on the hit BBC 2 show “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”, and has toured extensively with his one man shows.  As a DJ, Phil played the first ever record on BBC 6Music as host of the “Breakfast Show”, which he presented for five years.  He is also a columnist (and sometime cartoonist) for The Times’s football supplement The Game and regularly records very successful football and music podcasts.

Sharon D Clarke is a prolific West End, television and radio star and recording artist.  Her stage credits include “Chicago”, “We Will Rock You”, “The Lion King”, “Rent” and “Guys & Dolls” as well as many productions at the Hackney Empire.  On television she has appeared in “The Singing Detective”, “Waking The Dead”, “The Crust” and she played Dr Lolo Griffin on BBC 1’s “Holby City” for more than three years.  She also appeared as a judge on the hugely successful “Last Choir Standing” for the BBC in 2008.  She has appeared on many chart singles as a guest vocalist, including Going Back To My Roots (with FPI Project) and I Wanna Give You Devotion (with Nomad).

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