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OPENING TONIGHT: All The Fun of the Fair

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under News

David Essex’s new musical ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR will have its London premiere tonight at the Garrick Theatre.

Best known as a recording artist who sold millions of albums in the 70s and 80s, David Essex is also an established writer and performer for theatre. He first came to prominence in musical theatre starring as Jesus in the original West End production of Godspell in 1972 and Che in Evita in 1978 and went on to co-write and star in Mutiny at the Piccadilly Theatre.

And now David returns to the London stage in All The Fun Of The Fair, a show he has co-written with Boogie Nights creator Jon Conway and that features a range of David Essex hits and album favourites – notably inspired by his debut album ‘All The Fun Of The Fair’.

Show show also stars Christopher Timothy and Louise English, with the leading role of David’s son Jack played by Michael Pickering.

Book tickets to All The Fun Of The Fair at the Garrick Theatre in London

Carmen at the O2 Arena – Save £17.50

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Offers

BOOK NOW: Carmen at the O2 Arena – Save £17.50 on tickets

An epic new production of Bizet’s opera CARMEN is coming to the O2 Arena in London this May and will be the first fully staged opera to be performed at the O2.

Sung in English and staged in the round, Carmen is the world’s most popular operas and this  production will be one of the biggest ever staged in London, promising a visual and musical feast including a cast of 200 and breathtaking visual spectacles.

The opera stars Cristina Nassif as Carmen, John Hudson as Don Jose and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gareth Hancock. Also Darius Campbell will play the Bullfighter for one night only on Sunday 23 May.

From the very first note to the final tragic chords, this stunning in-the-round production of Bizet’s masterpiece vividly portrays the powerful story of lust, superstition, and murder that passionately unravels with fatal consequences.

Carmen at The O2 Arena will be performed by a cast of over 200 artists including dancers, acrobats and fire-eaters. The wonderful set and fabulous costumes wil bring to life the atmosphere of the town square, the cool night air of the smugglers’ mountain hideout and the colourful festivities outside the bullring in Seville.

Sung in English, Bizet’s unforgettable score contains some of opera’s finest arias and best loved music. The rousing Song of the Toreador, the beguiling Seguidilla, the tantalising Habanera and the enchanting Flower Song – sensual music that perfectly captures the very essence of Spain. This world class company of singers, musicians and artists will provide an unforgettable production of Bizet’s Carmen, staged on an epic scale at The O2.

Book now to enjoy £17.50 off tickets to see Carmen at the O2 Arena in London.

Valid all performances on 21st, 22nd and 23rd May

Cristina Nassif carmen
John Hudson Don Jose
Gareth Hancock conductor
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Women Beware Women – National Theatre – Review

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

At the end of Thomas Middleton’s 1621 tragedy Women Beware Women, there are more dead bodies on stage than in the final moments of Hamlet. It’s the gory, Grande Guignol climax to a rude, crude Jacobean romp in which lust, greed, incest, murder, sexual infidelity and rape are the order of the day – and night.

It all begins when a rather nerdish and indigent Florentine bank clerk called Leantio (Samuel Barnett), elopes with the beautiful Bianca (Lauren O’Neil), a wealthy heiress, and marries her.

Unbeknownst to the hapless Leantio, Bianca has caught the eye of the libidinous Duke of Florence (Richard Lintern), who, with the conniving help of the reptilian widow Livia (Harriet Walter), lures Bianca to his courtly residence where he rapes her.

Livia also cunningly contrives a marriage between her niece Isabella (Vanessa Kirby) to a punkish idiot (Harry Melling) while at the same time paving a way for her brother Hippolito and Isabella to have an incestuous affair on the side.

And if that’s not damage enough, she then sets her sites on poor Leantio whom she seduces with promises of wealth and status.
Though it is the scheming of the kind of treacherous woman the play’s title asks you to beware, it’s the Duke and Hippolito who benefit most from her machinations.

As in most Jacobean tragedies, immorality comes at quite a price with the web of deceit in which the protagonists are ensnared resulting in murder most foul.

Director Marianne Elliott stages the play’s bloody final act as an orgiastic masque in which actions speak more ghoulishly than words. She’s assisted by Lez Brotherston’s set which goes into permanent revolve mode during this elaborate and inventively staged dance of death.

Once again the full resources of the Olivier’s remarkable facilities are effectively employed with particularly striking use being made of a quartet of impressive chandeliers.

Yet the most memorable scene is the intimate chess-playing encounter between Livia and Leantio’s frumpy old mum (Tilly Tremayne) which takes place while the Duke is having his way with Bianca in another part of the court. Unaware that her daughter-in-law is being ravished against her will, the old woman listens innocently to the chess-related metaphors and sexual innuendos spoken not so innocently by the knowing Livia.

It’s staged in modern dress and with an accompanying jazz score. But as the atmosphere at its very core is so endemic to the morals, mores and machinations of Jacobean tragedy, to take it out of the period that defines it seems pointless.

Still, it’s a generally well-staged revival with a deliciously subtle yet poisonous performance from Harriet Walter, who, with Harry Melling’s preening, doltish idiot, stands out from a cast that’s merely routine.

National Theatre Olivier.

CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.



‘Marianne Elliott’s magnificent and disturbing National Theatre revival benefits from updating the Italian Renaissance to a period mish-mash of New Look couture, dead cool and punk primitivism.’

‘The wealthy widow Livia, played in the very likeness of the Duchess of Windsor by an elegantly acerbic Harriet Walter.’


‘Almost indecently enjoyable.’

‘The anti-heroine, Livia, played by Harriet Walter like a mix of Cruella De Vil, the White Witch in the Narnia books and Margaret Thatcher in her prime.’

‘The closing carnage… presented as a brilliantly choreographed dance of death complete with black angels and sinister exotic references.’

‘As well as Walter’s compelling performance, there is much fine work elsewhere, especially from Lauren O’Neill as the initially warm and loving Bianca, whom we see hardening in the play; from Richard Lintern as the suave, fascistic Duke; Vanessa Kirby as the sweet teenager gulled into incest with her uncle; and Harry Melling as the idiotic ward she is supposed to marry, and who spends much of his time trying to look up her dress.’

‘Dark, decadent and immensely stylish, Women Beware Women makes you laugh even as you shiver.’


‘Wicked. It’s the only worf for this stylish revival of Thomas Middleton’s seldom staged, dark, devilish and decadent Women Beware Women.’

‘The climactic scene of heartless lust, greed and carnage is one of the best ever staged at the Olivier. The stage – haunted by devilish creatures in skull caps and black wings – revolves, revealing one spectacular4 fatality after another in a whirling dance of death.’

‘Wickedly entertaining theatre. And thanks to the Travelex £10 ticket scheme, available for £10.’


‘Womanly wiliness is centre stage in [Marianne Elliott’s] magnificently seductive production.’

‘Elliott updates the action from Renaissance to 1950’s Florence. This makes for a slinkily good-looking production, with women in Dior New Look, as set from Lez Brotherston that is at once opulent and oppressive, and lashings of sultry, dark jazz music (Olly Fox).’

‘It is a world steeped in glamour, decadence and greed. Here men treat women like parcels, trading them, owning them, locking them away. It is only Livia, a wealthy widow, who can pull strings. Harriet Walter’s Livia is superb: her poise, acid wit and attractive energy put you in mind of Richard III’

‘The acting is beautifully precise, with strong performances from Samuel Barnett as Bianca’s jealous husband, Vanessa Kirby as Isabella and Harry Melling as the idiot she must marry. It is a witty production, revelling in Middleton’s bitter black humour and enthusiasm for sexual innuendo.’

‘The production gradually darkens as it approaches the climactic masked ball, delivered here on the revolving stage as a dizzying dance of murder.’

‘This is a staging that wraps its inky fingers around you and holds you, spellbound’


‘Here is a court thick with corruption and Marianne Elliott’s almost hypnotic production updates the action to the late fifties / early sixties and perfectly captures the louche immorality.’

‘It all adds up to a typically Jacobean-style bloodbath but this terrific production gives us enough humour to lighten the load, particularly with Harry Melling’s ludicrously camp heir.’

‘In a top quality cast, Harriet Walter is magisterial as Livia and Lauren O’Neill makes for an impassioned Bianca.’

‘Most effective of all is the finale of the masked ball, where the swirling set, smoky air and seductive music turns the final roll call of bodies into a heady orgy of death.’


“The National’s bravura production”

“This is a rich production, full of the theatrical flourishes that are the director Marianne Elliott’s trademark.”

“Harriet Walter, as Livia, is a cold-eyed manipulator, and comically vampish when seducing Leantio (Samuel Barnett), but the younger actresses are outstanding. Lauren O’Neill, as Bianca, conveys a potent mix of anger and bitter bewilderment, her delivery crystal clear. Vanessa Kirby is excellent and understated as the unwittingly incestuous Isabella. Harry Melling, as the obsessively bawdy Ward, delivers nice clownish comedy.”


“Harriet Walter dazzles as the subtle villainess.”

“A fiercely felt, finely wrought, seldom-seen play by one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. A play whose subject is corruption and whose language is pungent. Producing such a drama is, surely, one of the reasons the National theatre needs to exist.”

“Marianne Elliott’s production of Women Beware Women has verve and nerve.”

“It’s an extravaganza that Elliott delivers with relish. There’s a strong case against ever updating Women Beware Women. The inturning, winding verse is of a piece with a Jacobean architecture of dark corners, twists and complications. But this production – in which every densely written line is delivered with brutal clarity – is as good as a modern dress could be.”

“Walter, who is at the peak of her powers as an actor, is, here and throughout, a magnificent source of fascination and energy.”


‘Marianne Elliott’s production of this 1621 play by Thomas Middleton culminates in a gorgeous, debauched masked ball. ‘

‘Elliott brings a lavish sensibility to his work’

‘Harriet Walter gives a performance at once measured and full of relish: there’s passion in her destructiveness, yet also clarity in her unscrupulous plans. Lauren O’Neill makes a sympathetic Bianca, while Harry Melling gets to prance around in a delightfully cretinous fashion as The Ward, and Samuel Barnett’s Leantio is a nerdy sort of libertine.’

Mamma Mia!, Free Dinner and cast Q&A

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Offers

Enjoy a fabulous free meal at Planet Hollywood in London and top price tickets to see ABBA’s Mamma Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre – all for only £62.50 (ticket face value £62.50). PLUS enjoy a free Q&A and meet-the-cast session after the show, making this a truly unforgettable night out at the theatre.

Offer valid on 20th and 27th May only (restaurant booked for 6pm, show starts at 7.30pm, Q&A follows the show)



Mamma Mia! is the smash-hit musical based on the songs of ABBA. The show celebrated its 11th London birthday in April this year and continues to break box office records at the Prince of Wales Theatre.  From West End smash to global phenomenon, “MAMMA MIA!” has already been seen by over 42 million people in over 200 cities across North America, Australia, Europe and Asia.

Inspired by the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, writer Catherine Johnson’s enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolds on a Greek island paradise.  On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago…


Planet Hollywood is the world’s one and only dining experience inspired by the glamour of Hollywood. The successful restaurant now boasts a large cocktail bar, along with many other themed areas, such as the Bond room, the British room and our trendy Cabana room.  There are still lots of favourite pieces of memorabilia, among them Ursula Andress bikini from the iconic film, Dr No,  R2D2 from the classic Star Wars films and much much more. Planet Hollywood is a madhouse of giant proportions. From the scurrying waiters to the continuous soundtracks to the projection screen going up and down, to the sounds of happy kids, to the visual overload of a collection of museum-quality film memorabilia, Planet Hollywood’s atmosphere is absolutely unique.

Sample Menu


Exclusive offer for the performances of Mamma Mia on the 20th and 27th May. Package includes a 2 course dinner, top price ticket and a Q&A session with cast members after the show, for only £62.50

Offer valid on 20th and 27th May only (restaurant booked for 6pm, show starts at 7.30pm, Q&A follows the show)


AWARDS: Ayckbourn to receive Tony Award

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Broadway News, News

Sir Alan Ayckbourn, one of the UK’s greatest living playwrights, is to be awarded a special Tony award in June to recognise his life’s work.

Alan Ayckbourn

The Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre will be presented to Alan Ayckbourn at the ceremony in New York on 13 June. Ayckbourn, who is 71, has written 74 full-length plays, and saw a revival of his play The Norman Conquests win a Tony Award last year. His 1975 play Bedroom Farce is currently playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

He will collect his honour at a ceremony in New York on 13 June. The nominees for this year’s Tony Awards will be presented on 4 May.

US actress Marian Seldes will also be presented with a Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre award. She performed in all 1,809 New York performances of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, a show that will come to London in August starring Simon Russell Beale, Anna Massey, Jonathan Groff and Claire Skinner.

Other non-competitive, special awards announced ahead of the ceremony include the Isabelle Stevenson Award to David Hyde Pierce, who will star in La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in June alongside Joanna Lumley and Mark Rylance. Also Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre will be presented to the Alliance of Resident Theatres New York,  B. H. Barry and Tom Viola.

More information from the Tony Awards:

Alan Ayckbourn is the author of more than 74 full-length plays including Absurd Person Singular (1975), Bedroom Farce (1975), Just Between Ourselves (1976), Woman in Mind (1985), A Small Family Business (1987), House & Garden (1999) and Private Fears in Public Places (2004). He has directed more than 300 productions, including the West End premieres of most of his writing. Between 1972 and 2009, he was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, where the majority of his work has been and continues to be premiered. Sir Alan, who was knighted in 1987, was most recently represented on Broadway with The Norman Conquests. That production received the Tony Award as Best Revival of a Play in 2009.

Marian Seldes won a Tony Award in 1967 for her performance in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, the first of five Tony nominations. Her Broadway career spans more than six decades, from her debut in Medea in 1947 through her most recent appearance in Terrence McNally’s Deuce (2007). Among her many Broadway credits was Ira Levin’s long-running Deathtrap, in which she appeared in all 1,809 performances. She is revered as a teacher to several generations of actors, having served on the faculty at Julliard (1967-1991) and Fordham University (2002-present).

David Hyde Pierce: Humanitarian
The recipient of the second Isabelle Stevenson Award will be Tony Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce. This honor recognizes an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. Mr. Pierce is being honored for his work in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. He began his support for the Alzheimer’s Association in the early 1990s and is currently a National Board Member. He works on both a local and national level advocating congressional leaders for additional funding for Alzheimer’s research and care programs. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support, and research.

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Established in 1990, Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre recognize institutions, individuals and organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre, but are not eligible in any of the established Tony Award categories. This year’s Tony Honors will be presented to:

  • The Alliance of Resident Theatres New York (A.R.T./New York) – Founded in 1972, A.R.T./New York assists its nearly 300 member theatres in managing their companies effectively so they may realize their rich artistic visions and serve their diverse audiences well. Over the years, A.R.T./New York has earned a reputation as a leader in providing progressive service to its members, making the organization an expert in the needs of the Off and Off Off Broadway community.
  • B. H. Barry – A leading theatrical fight director, Mr. Barry pioneered the teaching of stage combat as part of the curriculum in U.S. drama programs, having being been trained in his native England. His numerous Broadway credits range from the 1981 productions of Frankenstein and Macbeth to Dividing the Estate in 2008.
  • Tom Viola – Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the nation’s leading industry-based not-for-profit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. Mr. Viola is being honored for his personal commitment to the fight against AIDS, which stretches back beyond his service as founding administrative director of Equity Fights AIDS in 1988. He saw the organization through its merger with Broadway Cares in 1992, and became BC/EFA’s executive director five years later. BC/EFA was previously honored with a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre in 1993.

LINKS: Tony Awards

CASTING: Sister Act and Legally Blonde

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under News

It’s the great boy-band takeover of the West End as ex-Blue singer Simon Webbe and actor and pop singer Richard Fleeshman head to Theatreland.


Simon Webbe

Duncan James may be currently wowing them in Legally Blonde, but fellow Blue band mate Simon Webbe will be following in his footsteps later this year, by joining the cast of Sister Act at the London Palladium.

Webbe, who has appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and is also a singer-songwriter, manager and recording artist, has had a few acting parts over the last few years but nothing as big as a major role in a West End show. Previous acting credits include romantic-comedy The Truth About Love and British gangster movie Rollin’ With The Nines.

Also starring in Sister Act is Patina Miller and Over The Rainbow judge Sheila Hancock .


Richard Fleeshman

Talking of Duncan James, he’s off! James, who has starred in Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre since its opening in January, will leave the show at the end of June.

His replacement in the role of Warner will be ex-Coronation Street star Richard Fleeshman. Most recently in BBC drama All The Small Things, Fleeshman also has a singing career and has released a an album, won ITV show Soapstar Superstar and supported Elton John on his 2008 stadium tour.

Sheridan Smith will continue in the lead role of Elle Woods in the feel-good hit that is based on the successful film.

BEN RICHARDS in Priscilla Queen of the Desert

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Cast - Archive, Star Watch Archive

The Bill star Ben Richards to premiere in Priscilla

Best known for his TV roles, BEN RICHARDS is to take over from Jason Donovan in June this year to play the lead role in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Richards is most famous for playing PC Nathaniel Roberts in Britain’s longest-running police drama, The Bill, as well as a long stint on racy series Footballer’s Wives.

He is also an accomplished musicals actor having played numerous roles in high-profile West End shows including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty.

Book tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London.


DATE OF BIRTH : 27th March 1972

PLACE OF BIRTH : Born in Rustington, West Sussex.

LIVES : South East London.

WIFE : Helen, Married in May 2003.

TRAINING : Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom

PREVIOUS JOBS : Working on a battery farm.

TELEVISION CREDITS : Dad; Love in the Afternoon; Doctors; Holby City; Footballer’s Wives; The Bill

FILM CREDITS : Bring Me the Head of Mavis Davis; Julie and the Cadillac’s

THEATRE CREDITS : Time Flies; Robin Hood & Babes in the Wood; The All New Jimmy Cricket Show; Radio Times; The Joe Longthorne Summer Show; The Magic of the Musicals Tour; The Golden Songs of the Silver Screen Tour; Tribute to Rudolf Nuryev; Meet the Boys; Up on the Roof; Hot Mikado; Grease; Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ Saturday Night Fever; The Full Monty; Guys and Dolls; Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Book tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London.

Jason Donovan to leave Priscilla

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Jason Donovan to leave hit musical Priscilla. The Bill star Ben Richards to take over as Tick.

Ben Richards as Tick in Priscilla

Jason Donovan, the star of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, is to leave the show this June. Donovan, who led the first UK cast of the show in the starring role of Tick, has appeared in the musical since March 2009.

The role of Tick will be taken over by Ben Richards, best known for playing hunky PC Nathaniel Roberts in ITV drama The Bill. Britain’s longest-running police drama, The Bill was recently axed by ITV in a prime-time shakeup that sees the drama end its run on UK screens this autumn.

As well as his high-profile TV work in shows including Footballer’s Wives, Ben Richards  is also a musical theatre star having played numerous roles including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty.

Richards told the Daily Mail, “If I’m scared, I’m happy. It’s a challenge… And it’s a gay character and I want to play it right. Hopefully, I can nail it.’

Ben Richards as himself!

The Olivier award-winning show has also extended its booking period to May 2011.  The other main cast members remain the same including Don Gallagher as Bernadette, Oliver Thornton as Adam and John Bowe as Bob.


CASTING: Billy, Mamma and Chicago

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Three big West End shows have announced new cast members, including EastEnder’s Emma Barton joining the cast of Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre.


From 31 May Genevieve Lemon will join the cast of Billy Elliot in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre. She will play Billy’s dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, played in the movie by Julie Walters. Australian actress Lemon has appeared in numerous musicals and plays including Billy Elliot in Sydney.

Also 12 year old Aaron Watson from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, will join the cast to become the 23 young boy to play the title role of Billy in the West End.


Harriet Thorpe will join the cast of Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London from 14 June in the role of Tanya. She is best-known for her TV roles in the Brittas Empire and Absolutely Fabulous, and stage roles include Madame Morrible in Wicked. Other current cast members include West End star Linzi Hateley and Jessie May as mother and daughter Donna and Sophie Sheridan.


EastEnders star Emma Barton, who played Honey Mitchell in the BBC soap, will return to the London stage from 26 April to star as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre in London. Taking over from Ruthie Henshall, and appearing for only 12 weeks in the role, she returns to the role after performing in the UK tour of the show. Her other stage work includes The Secret Garden for the RSC and Grease.

Also starring in the show will be Vivien Carter (We Will Rock You), as Velma Kelly, Terence Maynard as Billy Flynn and Adam Stafford as Amos Hart.

Save £13.50 on tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Save £13.50 on tickets to see Jason Donovan in the smash-hit new musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Monday-Thursday Evenings and Thursday Matinees until the 27th May

Priscilla Queen of the Desert has just celebrated its first fabulous year at the Palace Theatre in London, flushed with critical acclaim and audience adoration. Based on the Oscar winning film, Priscilla is a spectacular new musical about three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus named Priscilla and take their show to the middle of the Australian outback.

Britain’s very own adopted Aussie Jason Donovan stars as Tick and handsome young leading man Oliver Thornton plays Adam in this crowd-pleasing spectacular.

This multi-million pound production includes 500 outrageous costumes from the movie’s Oscar-winning designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner and 28 of the most glamorous and talented performers in the West End, with songs including I Will Survive, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Shake Your Groove Thing, Don’t Leave Me This Way and Finally. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a must-see, fabulous evening in London theatre and a West End theatre smash-hit.

Save £13.50 on tickets to see Jason Donovan in the smash-hit new musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Monday-Thursday Evenings and Thursday Matinees until the 27th May

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