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Hairspray: Only 8 weeks to go

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under News

The producers of Hairspray have announced that it will close in 8 weeks time at the Shaftesbury Theatre, on 28 March 2010, following two and a half years of big-haired success.

The Olivier and Tony award winning musical has played over 1,000 performances and grossed over £50 million in the UK, becoming the longest running show at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 40 years.

Based on the cult John Waters movie, Hairspray is a colourful, fun and vibrant show which follows Tracy Turnblad – a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart – as she sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular dance show.

As the show closes in the West End it will embark on a nationwide tours, with dates including Cardiff, Glasgow, Southampton, Leeds, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Birmingham.

Brian Conley will return to the cast to play Edna Turnblad for the final eight weeks of the London run, with former Monkee Micky Dolenz playing doting husband Wilbur and Chloe Hart continuing to play Tracy.

Hairspray producer Bill Taylor said: “Every show, even a big, glorious hit show like this one, has a natural life and for now it is time for Hairspray to leave London. Margo Lion and the Broadway producers of Hairspray join Stage Entertainment in thanking every member of the company who has been involved in making it such a success and every audience member who joined us at the Shaftesbury theatre over its record-breaking run.”

Save £25 on tickets to see Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London

Record audiences for West End

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under News

In figures released today, the West End’s trade body The Society of London Theatre has announced record figures for 2009. London’s West End theatres attracted over 14 million people and generating over half a billion pounds in revenue.

Both the audience attendance and box office revenues set new records, with attendances up by 5.5% on 2008 and revenues totalling £504,765,690 – a 7.6% increase.

Money, money, money. Plays such as Enron have helped the West End in record year

Plays are continuing to do good busines in London, showing an impressive increase in attendance of 26% year-on-year at 3,637,714. Plays that did particularly well include Royal Court productions Enron and Jerusalem, both of which are transferring into the West End, and Waiting for Godot starring Ian McKellen at the Haymarket Theatre Royal.

Musicals are also bringing in more customers with high-profile openings including Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and a big box-office advance giving Legally Blonde a good start at the Savoy Theatre.

2009 was the seventh consecutive year that attendance and revenues have increased, highlighting how theatre in London has managed to beat the recession.

Commenting on the figures, Nica Burns, President of the Society of London Theatre, said: “Britain’s artistic community continues to create exceptional work. The extraordinary quality and breadth of productions available nightly in London explains these record figures in such a difficult year economically. Whilst our musicals continue to flourish, 2009 was an outstanding year for plays – proving that audiences respond to challenge and stimulation as well as toe-tapping entertainment.  Excellence is everything – look no further than London’s theatre which adds a great deal more to London’s revenue than just the ticket sales.”

Twelfth Night – Duke of York’s Theatre – Review

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Review of Twelfth Night at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

How much silliness there is in the Christmas and New Year season. Why, Shakespeare himself gives us in the timely ‘Tweflth Night’ (that is, Epiphany or 6th January to us) the fat, farting Sir Toby Belch and the foppish fool, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. In between their antics we are entertained by the muddled romances of twins Viola and Sebastian, who each believe the other dead in a shipwreck. Viola disguises herself as a man in order to serve a certain Duke Orsino; she apparently looks so much like her brother in this guise that no one can tell them apart. Hmm.

But it’s no use applying modern genetic logic to the Bard’s comedies. Even when we are sure of the outcome, it’s always fun to watch Viola – here played by the pleasingly androgynous Nancy Carroll – fall in love with the Duke, only to be sent by him as a messenger to woo the countess Olivia. The exquisite pain of it all!

But all poignancy is counterbalanced by the mirth of mistaken identity. Olivia promptly falls in love with Viola (how odd) and will be doomed to disappointment unless – could it possibly be? – her twin brother turns up and accedes, all bemused, to her desire to marry him.

This RSC production is headlined, at least in the minds of a local audience, by TV star Richard Wilson, cast as the countess’s steward. This is a man full of pomp and ceremony, so that he inevitably falls prey to a wicked practical joke played by Belch and Aguecheek. Persuaded by a fraudulent letter that Olivia secretly loves and admires only him, he adorns himself with cross gartered yellow stockings (as per her supposed tastes in fashion) and fantasises aloud about his future role as consort instead of servant. The two pranksters, meanwhile, hide in the Cubist-styled foliage of a tree to listen and laugh, their heads popping out like so many tourists posing behind comic beachside boards.

This is quite funny, although it has to be said that Wilson, notwithstanding his cut glass accent, lacks the required diction for Shakespearean verse-speaking, so that you have to strain to understand him.

The rest of the cast are, as you might expect, excellent. The erotic frisson between Nancy Carroll and Jo Stone- Fewings as the Duke sustains us throughout with its titillating prospect of hopeless love which will somehow bear fruit, while Alexandra Gilbreath as Olivia is both pretty and pretty determined to have her man. How modern: we love her.

There is live music, merriment and even sword fighting to point up the Bard’s rapier wit. Enjoy.

SUE WEBSTER. Courtesy of This Is London.

Book tickets to see Twelfth Night att he Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2009

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Awards

Awards announced:26 January 2009

Best New Play
Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth (Royal Court)

The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical (new or revival)
Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith and Novello theatre)

Best Actor
Mark Rylance in Jerusalem (Royal Court)

Best Actress
Rachel Weisz in A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar Warehouse)

The John and Wendy Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
Jude Law in Hamlet (Donmar at Wyndham’s theatre)

Best Director
Rupert Goold for Enron (Headlong at Minerva theatre Chichester and Royal Court)

Best Designer
Christopher Oram for Red (Donmar Warehouse)

Most Promising Playwright
Alia Bano for Shades (Royal Court)

The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer (other than a playwright)
Tom Sturridge in Punk Rock (Lyric Hammersmith)

South Bank Show Awards 2010

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Awards, South Bank Show Awards


Awards announced: 26 January 2010

Presented by Billy Connolly

Winner: The Thick Of It – BBC2  – Armando Iannucci’s dark political comedy set in the corridors of the British government.

Home Time – BBC2
The Inbetweeners – E4

Presented by Royal Ballet principle Tamara Rojo

Winner: E=mc² – David Bintley – Birmingham Royal Ballet – David Bintley’s new ballet for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, named after Einstein’s theory of relativity, with force fields of dancers.

Diversity – Dance Troupe
Limen – Wayne McGregor – Royal Opera House

TV Drama
Presented by Rob Brydon

Winner: Red Riding – C4 – Adapted from David Peace’s cult noir novels, an ambitious, dark and thrilling trilogy of interlinking films set in Yorkshire in the 1970s and 80s.

Being Human – BBC3
Collision – ITV1

Presented by Jarvis Cocker

Winner: Florence + the Machine – Lungs (not in attendance – acceptance speech through VT) – Her soaring, epic vocals, quirky melodies and self-contained musical world, found in her debut and platinum selling album Lungs.

Frankmusik – Complete Me
The xx – xx

Visual Arts
Presented by Grayson Perry

Winner: Anish Kapoor – RA – Anish Kapoor‘s joyful mid career retrospective exhibition, including his shooting cannon, which by the end of the exhibition had fired over 20 tons of molten wax.

Richard Long – Tate Britain
Roger Hiorns – Seizure

Presented by Rachel Weisz

Winner: Fish Tank – Academy-award winning writer/director Andrea Arnold’s second film, Fish Tank – set in Essex, is the story of Mia, a volatile 15 year old.

An Education
The Damned United

Presented by PD James

Winner: The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds – A sympathetic and poetic exploration of John Clare’s madness.

Forest Gate – Peter Akinti
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

Presented by Rolando Villazon

Winner: Peter Grimes – ENO – David Alden’s coruscating production of Peter Grimes.

Into the Little Hill / Down by the Greenwood Side – Linbury Studio – ROH2 / The Opera Group / London Sinfonietta
The Fairy Queen – Glyndebourne

Presented by Dominic West

Winner: A Streetcar Named Desire – Donmar Warehouse – The Donmar’s revival starring Rachel Weisz.

Jerusalem – Jez Butterworth – Royal Court Theatre
The Habit of Art – Alan Bennett – National Theatre

Arts Council England’s Diversity Award
Presented by Jo Whiley

Winner: Julie McNamara – Playwright and performing artist.

Jenny Sealey – Graeae Theatre Company
Clean Break – Theatre, Education, new Writing

Classical Music
Presented by trumpeter Alison Balsom

Winner: Nielsen; Inextinguishable – A cycle of concerts performed by The Hallé Orchestra and The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – Two leading British orchestras, The Hallé Orchestra and The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, join forces for a cycle of symphonies by arguably Denmark’s greatest composer, Carl Nielsen.

City of Dreams: Vienna 1900-1935 –  Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
Easter Reflections – The Sixteen

The Times Breakthrough Award
Presented by Sir Ian McKellen

Winner: David Blandy – for Visual Art

Alina Ibragimova – for Classical Music
Emma Fryer – for Comedy
Melissa Hamilton – for Dance
Carey Mulligan – for Film
Peter Akinti – for Literature
Daniel Kramer – for Opera
The xx – for Pop
Lucy Prebble – for Theatre
Suranne Jones – for TV Drama

Outstanding Achievement Award in association with The Dorchester
Presented by Sir David Attenborough

Winner: Melvyn Bragg

Nation at the National Theatre – Save £18

January 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Save £18 on tickets to see Nation at the National Theatre in London

Offer valid for selected performances

The National Theatre follows His Dark Materials, Coram Boy and War Horse with a spectacular stage adaptation ofTerry Pratchett’s latest witty and challenging adventure story Nation.

Adapted by award-winning playwright Mark Ravenhill, Nation is set in a parallel world, in 1860. Two teenagers are thrown together by a tsunami that has destroyed Mau’s village and left Daphne shipwrecked on his South Pacific island, thousands of miles from home. One wears next to nothing, the other a long white dress; neither speaks the other’s language; somehow they must learn to survive.

As starving refugees gather, Daphne delivers a baby, milks a pig, brews beer and does battle with a mutineer. Mau fights cannibal Raiders, discovers the world is round and questions the reality of his tribe’s fiercely patriarchal gods. Together they come of age, overseen by a foul-mouthed parrot, as they discard old doctrine to forge a new Nation.

“Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Nation will hold adults and children in thrall.” (Daily Telegraph)

Suitable for 10 years +

Save £18 on tickets to see Nation at the National Theatre in London

Press Release: West End Theatre Holds Winter Sale

January 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Centre

West End Theatre Holds Winter Sale

Thousands of London Theatre tickets reduced in annual promotion

January 2010, London: The West End in London is holding its annual Winter Sale, offering thousands of tickets to Musicals and Plays at reduced prices.

London theatre website westendtheatre.com is promoting the sale, running until the end of February* and including an enormous range of shows across the whole of the West End.


A host of shows are included in the promotion, with ticket savings up to 50% off the face value. Shows in the sale include: Chicago, currently starring original cast member Ruthie Henshall; big budget and big-haired musical Hairspray; Elton John’s Tony-award winning show Billy Elliot; Les Miserables, enjoying record box-office sales following Susan Boyle’s cover of I Dreamed A Dream; Blood Brothers starring ex-Spice Girl Melanie C; the stage versions of hit movies Dirty Dancing and Sister Act; Broadway cult hit Avenue Q; blockbusting Queen musical We Will Rock You; and a magical stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Nation at the National Theatre.


And it’s not just musicals that are included in the sale. A raft of drama and comedy is featured, reflecting the West End’s current renaissance for staging Plays. Offers include the hilarious, award-winning play The 39 Steps, Richard Wilson in the RSC’s new production of Twelfth Night; a revival of the National Theatre’s acclaimed An Inspector Calls; and Sir Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot at the Haymarket Theatre Royal.

Marketing Director Paul Raven said: “This is our best year to date in terms of attracting high-profile and big-budget West End shows to join our Sale, and we hope that theatregoers in the UK and overseas will benefit from the sheer range of productions on offer, and the great reductions in ticket prices.”

Visit: www.westendtheatre.com

* Shows vary in terms of offer validity dates and performances. Check website for details.


Notes for editors:

Westendtheatre.com is one of the fastest growing theatre ticketing sites on the web, offering discounts of up to 50% on a wealth of London musicals and plays. The site also offers a range of Hotel & Theatre and Dinner & Theatre packages – including free dinners at West End restaurants for the price of tickets to a show.

The site is powered by Encore Tickets, one of the UK’s largest theatre ticket wholesalers, providing significant allocations of tickets to sold-out West End shows.

Theatre Gift Vouchers

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Shop

westendtheatre.com presents the gift of theatre. Theatre Gift Vouchers are the perfect present and can be exchanged for London’s top plays and musicals, as well as over 40 restaurants, or  a night in one of central London’s finest hotels.

Theatre Gift Vouchers are a great birthday, Christmas or anniversary present, and ideal for rewarding staff or customers. Do you have a friend visiting London? Then treat them to a London theatre gift voucher. No holidays or weekend breaks in England are complete without a visit to London’s world-renowned theatre scene, and theatre vouchers are an unbeatable gift for any visitors you want to impress.

  • The perfect gift
  • Available in £10, £20 and £50 denominations
  • Redeemable over the phone across a variety of theatre packages
  • Presented in attractive presentation wallets, and dispatched within 24 hours of purchase
  • Ideal for employee incentive schemes
  • Provided by Encore, one of the largest London theatre ticket wholesalers
  • Also valid at selected West End restaurants and hotels


Theatre Merchandise

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Shop

It’s not just about going to see a show – it’s all the great things you can BUY before, during and after!

So to celebrate the joy of showbiz shopping we’ve put together a wealth of the latest DVDs, soundtracks and music, books and goodies all related to West End shows.

Show merchandise includes a range of T-shirts and clothing, CDs, DVDs, books, key-rings, caps, bags and magnets for a wealth of shows – from current shows such as Wicked, Phantom, Billy Elliot and The Lion King, to classic musicals including Joseph, Evita and Funny Girl.


Music on Amazon: CDs – Musicals & Shows

Music on Amazon: MP3 and Downloads – Musicals & Shows


Film & TV on Amazon: Musicals

Film & TV on Amazon: Movie Musicals

Books on Amazon: Musicals and Theatre


Wicked The Musical:  AMAZON
The Lion King:  AMAZON
The Phantom of the Opera:  AMAZON
Les Miserables:  AMAZON
Mamma Mia!:  AMAZON
Billy Elliot The Musical:  AMAZON
The Book of Mormon: AMAZON
We Will Rock You: AMAZON
ONCE The Musical: AMAZON
Miss Saigon: AMAZON
BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical AMAZON
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory AMAZON
Jersey Boys The Musical AMAZON
Matilda The Musical AMAZON
The Commitments The Musical AMAZON
Legally Blonde The Musical AMAZON

Twelfth Night at the Duke of York's Theatre – Save £12.50

January 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Save £12.50 on tickets to see Twelfth Night at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Offer valid Monday to Friday 18th January to 12th February

Richard Wilson (One Foot in the Grave) stars as Malvolio in the RSC’s acclaimed new production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran directs a stunning company of actors in a production that has been critically hailed as a “comic joy”.

Richard Wilson joins the RSC for the first time to play Malvolio. An award-winning actor and director, Richard’s recent stage appearances include Whipping It Up, Waiting for Godot and What the Butler Saw. In addition to his role as Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, Richard’s other TV includes the BBC’s Merlin.

Save £12.50 on tickets to see Twelfth Night at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

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