New design for popular theatre site
29 July2010, London: Leading London theatre website westendtheatre.com has launched a new-look design for its popular theatre website.
Created in-house by parent company Silver Sea Media, the new design follows the site’s consistent growth since its launch in 2007, to become one of the premiere websites covering London’s West End.
The redesign opens out the website to reflect the increasing demand for news and information on London theatre, with a greater emphasis on showbiz stories and profiles, entertainment and industry news and comment, and the tracking of events and activity in and around London’s Theatreland. The design, which includes a new colour palette, also places greater emphasis on Westendtheatre.com’s comprehensive ticketing and booking functionality, in partnership with Encore Tickets.
New features on the site include a Twitter Watch strand to follow West End celebrities and stars on the popular social networking platform, improved coverage of actors and actresses appearing in London and increased use of tools to help theatregoers plan a trip to the capital – including Theatreland maps, and guides to matinees and Sunday performances.
Paul Raven, director of Westendtheatre.com, said: “We are delighted to be able to unveil a new-look Westendtheatre.com. From today, new digital features will combine with our news, reviews and ticketing to offer an unparalleled level of coverage and interactivity. We intend to continue to add new features to ensure that the innovation that has been central to Westendtheatre.com continues into the future.”
Argentinean actress continues to forge acclaimed career
By the time 2012 is out, Elena Roger is going to be considerably more famous than she is now.
That’s because Michael Grandage’s 2006 production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita is to be revived on Broadway in Spring 2012 starring Roger as Eva Peron, and joined by Latino superstar Ricky Martin as Che.
The Argentinean actress won an Olivier award for her role in the show – and if the reaction to her London performance in that role is anything to go by, America is going to fall in love with her.
She followed Evita in London with a 2009 Olivier Award win for her performance as Edith Piaf in the Jamie Lloyd directed Piaf at the Donmar Warehouse and in the West End.
And she is about to return to the Donmar to star in a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion alongside Scarlett Strallen and David Thaxton, again directed by Jamie Lloyd.
The show is part of the Donmar’s celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday, that will also include concert performances of Merrily We Roll Along and Company at the Queen’s Theatre, featuring members of the original Donmar productions including Anna Francolini, Adrian Lester, Clive Rowe, Michael Simkins and Sophie Thompson in Company and Daniel Evans, Julian Ovenden and Samantha Spiro in Merrily We Roll Along.
Elena Roger’s other credits include Matthew Warchus’s Boeing Boeing, and in her native Buenos Aires she played Nine, Beauty and the Beast, Les Misérables, Saturday Night Fever and Mina, che cosa sei, with director Valeria Ambrosio.
27 March 1908 – 22 March 1973
Hugh Beaumont, famously known as Binkie Beaumont, was one of the most powerful West End theatre managers of his, or any other, generation.
As co-founder and managing director of play producers H.M. Tennent Ltd, he controlled much of the West End for forty years. He was famously very publicity shy, avoiding his picture being in the papers and leaving scant details about his parents, upbringing, education or even his real name.
He worked out of a small office above the Gielgud Theatre (then the Globe Theatre) on Shaftesbury Avenue and at one time was running a staggering fourteen productions at the same time in London. From 1936 to 1973 the company produced over 400 plays, musicals and revues, covering every aspect of British theatre from big musicals such as My Fair Lady to the edgy new work of Joe Orton.
He touched the lives of many of the most famous writers and actors of the Twentieth Century, forming close working relationships with people such as Noel Coward, Terence Rattigan, Emlyn Williams, Cecil Beaton, John Gielgud, Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and Edith Evans.
For much of his time in the West End, he was assisted by the efforts of H.M. Tennent’s talented press agent Vivienne “No News Is Good News” Byerley (1906-1995, obituary).
Balcony tickets reduced from £25 to £12
Enjoy a special offer on tickets to La Bete at the Comedy Theatre in London. The show, which opened recently to rave reviews, features an all-star cast including US theatre and TV star David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), recent Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance (Jerusalem), and Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous).
The play is directed by acclaimed, Tony award winning director Matthew Warchus and is running at the Comedy Theatre for a short season until 28 August before moving straight to Broadway.
American playwright David Hirson’s rollicking 1991 play, is a comic tour de force about Elomire (David Hyde Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theatre, and Valere (Mark Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Joanna Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages.
Other cast include Stephen Ouimette, Lisa Joyce, Greta Lee, Robert Lonsdale, Michael Milligan, Liza Sadovy and Sally Wingert.
Balcony tickets reduced from £25 to £12
Pre or post theatre dinner at Thai Square and ticket to the show only £47.50 (ticket usually £50).
Westendtheatre.com presents a great theatre dinner package to see Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre in London.
Catch Sheridan Smith (Gavin and Stacey) in her break-out performance in the lead role of Elle Woods only until 23 October (note: Sheridan is on holiday 8 – 14 September).
This fabulous, fun-filled musical also stars Richard Fleeshman (Coronation Street) and Jill Halfpenny (Chicago, Eastenders).
College sweetheart and homecoming queen Elle Woods doesn’t take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her for someone serious, Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and heads for Harvard Law School!
Based on the hit movie of the same name, Legally Blonde the Musical is the Broadway sensation created by a top-of-their-class creative team, led by Tony Award-winning director and Olivier nominated choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray).
Legally Blonde the Musical will take you from the social whirl of California Campus life to Harvard’s Halls of Justice with the West End’s brightest new heroine (and of course, her Chihuahua, Bruiser).
The UK’s leading entertainment correspondent, Baz Bamigboye from the Daily Mail newspaper, has finally broken ranks and ranted his frustration at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies.
After years of enthusiasm for the project in his weekly Daily Mail column, Baz has had enough, writing that, “it’s as if the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which boasts his most beautiful score, has become an abandoned child”.
In a rare ALW bashing, he also berates the composer for not sorting out the show before the opening, “[he] should have sat down with his team and changed the show, including trimming his score”.
Even the marketing people get a good going over, with Dewynters’ advertising campaign for the show cited as “a shambles”.
This seems a bit unfair: if it was a hit show then the advertising campaign would be neither here nor there. But marketing and PR have become a theme of this show’s progress in the West End.
If a big show is not entirely working after opening night, the dream of any producer is to be able to “fix it”. But that’s not usually an option for producers spending bags of money a night on an expensive show, especially given that the creative team will have all disbanded and moved on to other projects. And so the show keeps on going as long as there’s an audience, and then it’s done.
For Andrew Lloyd Webber – and Cameron Mackintosh when he produced Martin Guerre back in 1996 – money is no object and so the fixing begins. Martin Guerre was completely reworked after it opened, even going dark and reopening – which is what Andrew Lloyd Webber has muted as an option for his show.
The mistake here has been to make any public reference to problems with Love Never Dies. Sure continue to tinker a bit behind-the-scenes, but the show is what it is. As soon as that opening night is done, we only want to hear positive things from the producers and the creative team. No bitching, no moaning, no angst from Andrew Lloyd Webber about how he’s not happy.
The lessons here are all going to be about how to manage theatre PR in a brave new world, from bloggers blogging before the show even opens to a composer/producer who’s bigger than the show itself.
Britain’s Got Talent judge to star as Princess Fiona in new stage adaptation of Shrek
Amanda Holden, the TV and stage actress and judge on ITV’s variety show Britain’s Got Talent, has secured a lead role in the forthcoming DreamWorks production of Shrek The Musical®, based on the Oscar-winning film.
Playing Princess Fiona, the down-to-earth and independent heroine of the show, Shrek The Musical opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London on 7 June 2011.
Holden has a theatrical background, having trained at Mountview Theatre School and appeared in stage roles including Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Mille at the Shaftsbury Theatre and Liesl Von Trapp in a touring production of The Sound of Music. Her numerous TV credits include Suspicious Circumstances opposite Edward Woodward, Eastenders, Mel in Kiss Me Kate, The Grimleys, Wild At Heart, Cutting It and Big Top.
Shrek The Musical originally opened on Broadway in December 2008 and was nominated for eight Tony Awards. It closed in January this year after a relatively short run, although is now on a major tour of the USA. A number of changes have been made to the touring – and forthcoming London version – of the show, including a new opening, new songs, improved magic and illusions, a newly styled dragon and more emphasis on giving the show “heart”.
This has been confirmed by reviews of the US touring show, which opened this month at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago starring Eric Petersen. The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones said that the show had, “finally discovered a human scale. Or, to put it another way, “Shrek the Musical” has belatedly found more of a heart”.
Other casting confirmed for the London production includes Richard Blackwood, who will play the Donkey. Blackwood is a comedian, singer and TV and radio presenter and is also step-brother to model Naomi Campbell. Recent stage appearances include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre alongside James Earl Jones and Adrian Lester.
The London stage musical is based on the irreverent fairy tale from William Steig’s book Shrek and the Oscar-winning Dreamworks Animation film. The creative team includes directors Jason Moore (Avenue Q) and Rob Ashford (Promises, Promises), with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Olivier Award winner Jeanine Tesori, scenic, costume and puppet design by Tim Hatley, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound design by Peter Hylenski and choreography by Josh Prince.
The show is the first stage venture for DreamWorks Animation’s theatrical arm and was originally initiated as a project by award-winning director Sam Mendes. The musical will be produced in London by DreamWorks Theatricals’ Bill Damaschke and Mendes’ Neal Street Productions under Caro Newling.
Neal Street Productions is also behind a number of high-profile new London theatre projects including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Official casting information will be released soon. Drury Lane is currently home to Oliver!, which will close at the theatre on 8 January 2011.
The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium
The show will start performances on 7 February 2011 at the London Palladium (CLICK HERE TO BOOK TICKETS).
Lord Webber is producing the show, following his search for a Dorothy in BBC One’s Over The Rainbow. His company owns the London Palladium alongside a number of theatres in London including the Adelphi, where his follow-up to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, is currently playing.
The first stage version of L Frank Baum’s classic book was in 1902 starring Anna Laughlin. The 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland is the most famous version of the show, and was adapted into a stage musical in 1945 by Frank Gabrielson for the St. Louis Municipal Opera. In 1987 the RSC produced a new stage musical version which was much closer to the film, and starred Imelda Staunton as Dorothy, who was nominated for an Olivier award for Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actress in a Musical.
Andrew Lloyd Webber will look to add some new songs to the stage show: “The film worked fantastically but we need some new songs for the stage show”, said Lloyd Webber.
Direct from Broadway, Bill T Jones’ Tony award-winning dance, theatre and music show based on the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
A powerful new drama by Martin Sherman about the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, starring Robert Lindsay.