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Avenue Q, Sister Act close tonight

October 30, 2010 by  
Filed under News

The West End bids farewell to long-running shows Avenue Q and Sister Act tonight, 30 October 2010.

Patina Miller and Simon Webbe in Sister Act

Patina Miller and Simon Webbe in Sister Act

Patina Miller, Simon Webbe and Sally Dexter will perform for the last time tonight, Saturday 30 October, at the London Palladium as a packed house will cheer out Sister Act after 17 months in town.

The hit musical, based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, opened on 2 June 2009 with Patina Miller as nightclub singer Deloris van Cartier and Sheila Hancock as Mother Superior. Whoopi Goldberg also played the role of Mother Superior for short stints in August and October this year, alongside regular Superior – Sally Dexter.

The show will vacate the Palladium leaving a three month gap before The Wizard of Oz opens at the theatre in February 2011.

Sister Act will move to Broadway following its London closure, with Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks (The Addams Family) taking the director helm. The show will open at the Broadway Theatre on 20 April 2011.

Kate Monster and Cassidy Janson in Avenue Q

Kate Monster and Cassidy Janson in Avenue Q

And over at the Wyndham’s Theatre, cult Broadway show Avenue Q will also bow out of London today, after opening on 1 June 2006 at the Noel Coward Theatre.

The musical had been scheduled to close at the Noel Coward in March 2009 but a surprise surge in bookings led producer Cameron Mackintosh to keep it going, transferring the show to the Gielgud Theatre. It made a further move to the Wyndham’s Theatre, its current home, in March this year.

The show won three Tony Awards on Broadway and continues to run off-Broadway in New York. The London cast saying farewell tonight include Delroy Atkinson, Cassidy Janson, Rachel Jerram, Sion Lloyd, Tom Parsons, Paul Spicer, Jacqueline Tate, Irene Alano-Rhodes, Alan Pearson, Amanda Posener, Jaygann Ayeh, Sam Harrison and Maria Lawson.


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Wicked Day this weekend

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under News

West End blockbuster Wicked will be celebrating this weekend, Sunday 31 October 2010, with its annual WICKED DAY.

Now in its fifth year, WICKED DAY is a free day of family fun that celebrates the show and raises money for charity. This year’s event will take place at St Pancras International station in London between 12 noon and 4pm and feature live performances from the cast of the show, plus Halloween-themed events including face-painting and workshops.

Proceeds from the day will go to the Woodland Trust and New Horizon Youth Centre in Kings Cross.

Wicked Day 2009

Wicked Day 2009


More information on Wicked Day
Book tickets to Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London
Great mal and ticket deals to Wicked

Baz and Love: The saga continues

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under BLOG

I feel bad for Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail’s showbiz guru.

He loved Loved Never Dies and feels as disappointed and betrayed as a scorned lover (see 30 July: Baz falls out of love with Love).

We’ve been following the highs and lows (mostly lows) and this week’s Daily Mail is yet further tales of LND woe.

It somewhat reminds us of Private Eye’s Glenda Slag column: Love Never Dies, it’s the greatest musical we have ever heard, it deserves to win every award known to showbiz, its love will never die (geddit?!). Love Never Dies, what a pile of poo, the love is dead as a door-nail (geddit?!!).

He wants to love it, and wants to love Andrew Lloyd Webber, but would ruin his significant street cred if he loved the show. A rock and a hard place for poor Baz.

Our favourite line in his gut-wrenching piece relates to the forthcoming changes to the show (see 22 October: Love Never Dies but it does take rests) by theatre impresario Bill Kenwright; “No disrespect to Bill Kenwright, but no A-list director of international repute would touch Love Never Dies after O’Brien’s departure.”

So there!

Baz says that his real beef is with the fact that no good can come out of an artist (Andrew Lloyd Webber) turning themselves into a corporation (Really Useful Group) and that’s what’s done it in for the show. However, said corporation has done pretty well so far, as has that other big beast Cameron Mackintosh Limited, which is as slick a money-making company as you could find. The problems lie deeper but are not beyond rescue. We await the changes to the production with some interest.

Frankenstein cast: Cumberbatch & Miller

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Fresh from receiving a British Film Institute Fellowship this week, director Danny Boyle has announced his cast for Frankenstein at the National Theatre, playing in the Olivier from February 2011.

Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch to star in Frankenstein

Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch to star in Frankenstein

Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the venue following his much-praised turn in Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance, and will be alternating the roles of Dr Frankenstein and his monster with movie star Jonny Lee Miller.

This creative casting is in-line with Boyle’s promise to create a fresh new approach to theatre through this production. The adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel has been reimagined by Nick Dear and told from the point of view of the monster.

Boyle, who has spent the last 15 years in film and won an Oscar last year for Slumdog Millionaire, has a previous history in theatre, having worked for the RSC and Royal Court, including productions of Howard Barker’s Victory, Howard Brenton’s Genius and Edward Bond’s Saved. Boyle, along with former Royal Court head Stephen Daldry, is also charged with creating the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics.

Earlier this year Benedict Cumberbatch played the lead in Thea Sharrock’s acclaimed production of Terence Rattigan’s After The Dance at the National Theatre. This year he has also become a household name by playing Sherlock Holmes in the hugely popular BBC series based on Conan Doyle’s books. Forthcoming roles include Steven Spielberg’s film version of the National Theatre’s War Horse, currently playing at the New London Theatre in the West End. Past stage roles include work for the Open Air Theatre and the Almeida – including an Olivier Award nomination for his performance in Hedda Gabler in 2005.

Jonny Lee Miller worked with Boyle in his 1996 break-out movie Trainspotting, and has gone on to cover a number of stage roles including Beautiful Thing (Bush Theatre), Festen (Almeida and Lyric Theatre), Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Ambassador’s Theatre) and After Miss Julie on Broadway.

The play’s adaptor, Nick Dear, covers the world’s of theatre, film and TV. At the National Theatre his plays Summerfolk and Power have been staged, plus The Art of Success at the RSC. Screenwriter credits include Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Lewis.

Frankenstein in the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre will start previews from 5 February with press nights on 22 and 23 February, and the show is currently booking until 17 April, with further dates to be announced. The show is suitable only for 15 years+. Public booking for Frankenstein opens on 1 December 2010.

A series of special Platforms talks called ‘Beyond Frankenstein’ will run alongside the production: Frankenstein on Film on  24 February looks at Hollywood and the Frankenstein story; Frankenstein’s Science on 4 March sees Dr Brian Cox talk to Richard Holmes about the science behind Mary Shelley’s creature; Frankenstein’s Creator: Mary Shelley on 15 March sees acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin discuss the life of the author of Frankenstein; and Josephine Hart presents Romantic Poetry on 15 April, revealing the works of Shelley, Byron and their Romantic contemporaries.

Frankenstein will also be broadcast live to cinemas across the UK and around the world on 17 March as part of National Theatre Live.

Book tickets to Frankenstein at the National Theatre


Cottesloe to Change Name

A £10 million  donation from Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman towards the redevelopment of the National Theatre, will see  the Cottesloe Theatre renamed in his honour. The gift will form the cornerstone of the £70 million the venue needs to raise to complete its NT Future project. The donation is the largest ever given to the National and will see the studio space, called the Dorfman Theatre, enlarged. An enjoining room will be called the Cottesloe Room.

Dorfman’s Travelex company has supported the National for the last 8 years through its Travelex £10 tickets season.

When We Are Married – Reviews Round-up

October 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews Round-up

A round-up of press reviews for When We Are Married: J B Priestley’s classic comedy about class and hypocrisy returns to the West End featuring an all-star cast including Maureen Lipman, Lynda Baron, Susie Blake, Roy Hudd and Sam Kelly.

Book tickets to When We Are Married at the Garrick Theatre

Lloyd Webber sells venues to Michael Grade

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Lord Lloyd Webber has agreed to sell four of his West End theatres to a consortium headed by Michael Grade, according to The Stage newspaper.

Michael Grade, former head of ITV

Michael Grade, former head of ITV

The deal for the theatres, rumoured to be around £50 million, was brokered earlier this week. The consortium buying the theatres is led by former BBC Chairman and ITV Chief Executive Michael Grade and theatre agent Michael Linnit.

The deal includes the New London Theatre, current home to War Horse, the Palace Theatre, where Priscilla Queen of the Desert is playing, Chicago venue the Cambridge Theatre and Her Majesty’s Theatre, which has run Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera since 1986.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Group will continue to own West End flagship venues the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, currently housing Oliver! and then Shrek The Musical, the London Palladium, which sees Sister Act close on Saturday and Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz open in February, and a 50% stake in the Adelphi Theatre, home to Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies.

Final contracts are still to be signed. Really Useful Group chief executive Andre Ptaszynski has told staff at the venues that “we are fully committed to a process of information provision and consultation, where appropriate, with staff (and trade unions) to make sure that we cover all employee issues and concerns.”

Michael Grade’s family history is entwined with London theatre, with his uncle Lew Grade staging Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the 1950s and 60s for his ATV network. Michael has recently recorded a Radio 2 history of the venue timed for its centenary this December.

His uncle Bernard Delfont converted the London Hippodrome into the Talk of the Town restaurant in 1958, bringing in a host of entertainers including Frank Sinatra, Eartha Kitt and Judy Garland, and staging the Folies Bergère. In the early 1990s Bernard Delfont struck a deal with Cameron Mackintosh to take on his Prince Edward and Prince of Wales theatres, creating the company Delfont Mackintosh, which today owns seven West End theatres.

Michael Grade’s ability to run leisure and entertainment companies has often come under fierce criticism. He took over Bernard Delfont’s First Leisure Corporation, set up with Max Payne, in 1997, leaving in 1999 after a turbulent few years. He received harsh criticism from Delfont’s widow, Lady Delfont, who told the Daily Telegraph in 1999 that, “At no time did we understand that Michael Grade’s job was to asset-strip a thriving company.”

His recent tenure at ITV was during a troubled time for the broadcaster and, as Chairman of Pinewood Shepperton studios, he recently faced calls to step down by one of its leading investors, the funds group Crystal Amber, charged with an unconvincing performance since the company floated six years ago and a lack of adequate direction.

Lloyd Webber has been slowly divesting of his theatre assets. In 2005 Really Useful sold four theatres to Nimax Theatres – the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick and Duchess for £11.5 million. And in a frank interview with the Daily Mail in July, Lloyd Webber talked of the stress involved in keeping the theatres going and the large debt owed on them: “We’ve got an overdraft of about £100 million against the theatres, which is too much… it’s simply beyond me.”

Lloyd Webber has a close association with all four venues he is divesting: the Palace Theatre was famously the office of Prince Edward, who worked for Lord Webber on a number of his shows from the venue; the Cambridge Theatre housed his production of The Beautiful Game in 2000; the New London was where his acclaimed, internationally successful production of Cats started in 1981; and Her Majesty’s Theatre has been home to his most successful ever production, The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrated its 10,000th performance at the venue this week.


More information on the New London Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre and Palace Theatre

Elaine Paige cast in USA Follies

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Broadway News, News

Elaine Paige to sing I’m Still Here in new US production of Follies; new album Elaine Paige and Friends out Monday; new EP concert tour announced.

Elaine's new album, Elaine Paige and Friends

Elaine's new album, Elaine Paige and Friends

More news on the new American production of  Stephen Sondheim’s Follies (see our August piece, Fantasy Casting). Sadly, speculation that Kim Cattrall would be joining Bernadette Peters (who is playing Sally) to perform the role of Phyllis was just that, speculation! Instead Jan Maxwell will take the role at Washington’s Kennedy Center in May and June next year.

Jan is a Broadway stage regular whose recent turns in The Royal Family and Lend Me a Tenor in New York earned her Tony Award nominations for both parts.

Perhaps even more exciting is that First Lady of British Musical Theatre Elaine Paige (for that is her full name) is continuing her US offensive by taking the part of Carlotta Campion. She’s too OLD we hear you cry! But Elaine playing the seen-it-all-before ex-Follies girl and fading film star, who belts out show-stopper “I’m Still Here”, will be something to behold and follows a long line of gutsy broads who have played the part including the late Eartha Kitt in London.

Other cast include Terrence Currier as Theodore Whitman, Rosalind Elias as Heidi Schiller, Florence Lacey as Sandra Crane, Linda Lavin as Hattie Walker, Régine as Solange LaFitte, David Sabin as Dimitri Weismann, Susan Watson as Emily Whitman and Terri White as Stella Deems. The show will be directed by Eric Schaeffer with choreography by Warren Carlyle.


Elaine has announced her UK concert tour to follow her new album, Elaine Paige and Friends.

The tour starts in February 2011 and covers much of the country’s A-list venues including Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre, the Royal Festival Hall in London, The Edinburgh Playhouse and Symphony Hall in Birmingham. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, 28 October.

Her album will be released this Monday, 1 November 2010 and features duets with a host of big stars. Watch videos with her duet stars John Barrowman, Olivia Newton John and Billy Ocean here.

Buy Elaine Paige and Friends here.


IPSWICH: Regent Theatre – 23 Feb, www.ipswichregent.com
BLACKPOOL: Opera House – 25 Feb, www.blackpoollive.co.uk
GATESHEAD: The Sage – 26 Feb, www.thesagegateshead.org
EDINBURGH: The Playhouse – 28 Feb, www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk
GLASGOW: Royal Concert Hall – 1 March, www.glasgowconcerthalls.com
EASTBOURNE: The Congress Theatre – 3 March, www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk
LONDON: Royal Festival Hall – 4 March, www.southbankcentre.co.uk
MANCHESTER: Bridgewater Hall – 6 March, www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
BIRMINGHAM: Symphony Hall – 7 March, www.thsh.co.uk
CARDIFF: Wales Millennium Centre – 9 March, www.wmc.org.uk
TORQUAY: Princess Theatre – 11 March, www.princesstheatre.org.uk

VIDEO: Elaine Paige and Friends

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Videos

Video interviews with John Barrowman, Olivia Newton John and Billy Ocean  about their duets with Elaine Paige for her new album, Elaine Paige and Friends – out on 1 November 2010.


Elaine Paige and John Barrowman


Elaine Paige and Olivia Newton John


Elaine Paige and Billy Ocean


AMAZON: Buy the CD – Elaine Paige and Friends

DRESS CIRCLE: Buy the CD – Elaine Paige and Friends

Sadler’s Wells record year; Nude dance

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Sadler’s Wells, the dance venue in North London, has posted record audiences figures for its 2009 to 2010 financial year.

The craze for dance in the UK, fuelled by shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, has boosted audiences at Sadler’s Wells, with dance now ranking second to football as the nation’s favourite activity.

Over 600,000 people visited Sadler’s Wells last year, seeing 136 productions at the popular dance venue, and bringing in £19.8 million of revenue. In line with Arts Council cuts, it was also announced that Sadler’s Wells’ annual subsidy for the next financial year will be cut by 6.9%.

The chairman of Sadler’s Wells, David Bell, said: “We have no illusions about the challenges ahead as the government makes cuts in every area including, of course, the arts. But our finances are strong, our support is excellent and our team superb, which gives us huge confidence for the future.”

Un Peu deTendresse Bordel de Merde

Un Peu deTendresse Bordel de Merde

Sadler’s Wells also revealed their forthcoming programme for 2010/2011, featuring a wide and eclectic mix of productions including:

  • Controversial choreographer Dave St Pierre’s 2007 show, Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde, which features 20 nude male and female dancers. The show will debut in June and is described as “leading the audience on a journey through their emotions as the performers leap with primal urgency, or lie crumpled and defeated on the ground, before climaxing in a moving finale”. Dave St Pierre, who is a self-styled “enfant terrible” of the dance world, will be bringing his work to the UK for the first time, and guarantees the Wells plenty of press coverage. Some of St Pierre’s previous work includes La Pornographie des âmes, which included scenes of masturbation.
  • In March Bartabas, the famous French horse trainer, impresario and film producer, will make his British debut by bringing his new show The Centaur and The Animal to Sadler’s Wells, featuring dancers on live horses. The show will be co-choreographed by Japanese butoh master Ko Murobushi.
  • Ivan Putrov

    Ivan Putrov

  • Also in March The Pet Shop Boys will team up with Venezuelan dancer and choreographer Javier de Frutos for a new dance piece based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Most Incredible Thing. The show will star former Royal Ballet principal and dance poster boy Ivan Putrov along with a cast of 15. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys said, “we wanted to do something unfashionable, like a Tchaikovsky ballet, but with pop music”. Ivan Putrov also commented that “I am so excited that my friendship with Neil and Chris has led to the development of The Most Incredible Thing. I am happy to be working with this great team and very much looking forward to the new creation.”
  • Other highlights include Anne Teresa De Keersmaker and her Rosas company; transvestite ballet with les ballet C de la B; Rosalba Torres Guerrero; Dutch National Ballet; Sol Pico and American Ballet Theatre; Balletboyz; and the return of Stephen Mear’s Shoes and breakdance festival Breakin’ Convention.

Coming up at Sadler’s Wells this Christmas is the return of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, whilst at Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue – the Peacock Theatre – seasonal favourite The Snowman comes back to London.


Tickets to Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella

Tickets to The Snowman

Information about Sadler’s Wells (map, seating plan, journey planner)

Sadler’s Wells website

La Soiree Ticket Offer – Save £19.50

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Offers

Save £19.50 on ringside seats to see La Soiree at the South Bank Big Top in London

Valid Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday performances, and Friday and Saturday at 9.45pm

La Soiree at the Big Top on the Southbank

La Soiree at the Big Top on the Southbank

The team behind the hugely successful La Clique are back in London with a brand new show. Welcome to the sexy, funny, dangerous world of LA SOIRÉE! – a madcap family of artists in an awe-inspiring, spine-tingling, jaw-dropping and death-defying show of circus and magic, at new venue the South Bank Big Top.

The exquisite South Bank Big Top is home to the talents of Captain Frodo, The English Gents, David O’Mer (Bath Boy) and Miss Behave for a strictly limited run in this beautiful pop-up venue on the South Bank. With an auditorium of carved wood, polished mirrors, crystal and leadlight, guests are instantly transported to the glamour of a bygone era.

“The long-lost days of variety have been magnificently reborn”. (Telegraph)

“The perfect offering for the forthcoming festive season” (Evening Standard)

BOOK NOW: Save £19.50 on ringside seats to see La Soiree at the South Bank Big Top in London

Valid Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday performances, and Friday and Saturday at 9.45pm

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