March 25, 2012
A round-up of reviews for Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre in London starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
The acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which played last year in Chichester to packed houses, has transferred into the West End.
Starring Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett, the show is playing at the Adelphi Theatre, directed by Jonathan Kent and designed by Anthony Ward.
See below for a round-up of reviews, including The Guardian, Telegraph, Evening Standard and Variety.
November 4, 2011
The acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which has been playing in Chichester to packed houses, will transfer into the West End in March 2012.
Starring Michael Ball as Sweeney Todd and Imelda Staunton as Mrs Lovett, the show will play at the Adelphi Theatre from 10 March 2012.
The show is directed by Jonathan Kent and designed by Anthony Ward.
STAGE SPY CHECK-LIST
- Show: Sweeney Todd
- Author: Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler
- Theatre: Adelphi Theatre
- Director: Jonathan Kent
- Stars: Michael Ball, Imelda Staunton
- Opens: 10 March 2012
- Original production: Chichester Festival Theatre, 24 September 2011
May 13, 2011
Award-winning choreographer Stephen Mear has directed a brand new production of Broadway musical She Loves Me at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester (until 18 June 2011).
The witty and romantic show about lovelorn shop assistants stars TV heartthrob Joe McFadden (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Rent, Heartbeat) and West End leading lady Dianne Pilkington (The 39 Steps, Wicked).
The show, with a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, is directed and choreographed by Stephen Mear and designed by Anthony Ward.
The strong cast also includes Jack Chissick, Steve Elias, Matthew Goodgame, Charlotte Harwood, Joshua Lay, Gavin Mccluskey, Amanda Minihan, Danielle Morris, Zak Nemorin, Brenda Jane Newhouse, Lee Ormsby, Joseph Prouse and Amy Ellen Richardson.
Photos by Roy Tan.
June 9, 2010
OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Set and Design Winners
Best Set Design
2012 Matilda The Musical designed by Rob Howell
2011 The White Guard designed by Bunny Christie
2010 Jerusalem designed by Ultz
2009 August: Osage County designed by Todd Rosenthal
2008 Rae Smith and the Handspring Puppet Company for War Horse
2007 Sunday In The Park With George, designed by David Farley and Timothy Bird
2006 Hedda Gabler designed by Rob Howell
2005 His Dark Materials designed by Giles Cadle
2004 Hitchcock Blonde designed by William Dudley
2003 A Streetcar Named Desire designed by Bunny Christie
Best Set Designer
2002 Tim Hatley for Humble Boy and Private Lives
2001 William Dudley for All My Sons
2000 Rob Howell for Richard III, Troilus and Cressida and Vassa
1999 Anthony Ward for Oklahoma!
1998 Tim Goodchild for Three Hours After Marriage
1997 Tim Hatley for Stanley
1996 John Napier for Burning Blue
1995 Stephen Brimson Lewis for Design for Living and Les Parents Terribles
1994 Mark Thompson for Hysteria
1993 Ian MacNeil for An Inspector Calls
1992 Mark Thompson for The Comedy Of Errors
1991 Mark Thompson for The Wind In The Willows
Designer of the Year
1989/90Bob Crowley for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hedda Gabler, Ghetto and The Plantagenets
1988 Richard Hudson for his season at The Old Vic
1987 Lucio Fanti (with Design Team) for The Hairy Ape
1986 William Dudley for Futurists, Kafka’s Dick and The Merry Wives Of Windsor
1985 William Dudley for The Mysteries and The Critics
1984 John Gunter for Wild Honey
1983 Ralph Koltai for Cyrano De Bergerac
1982 John Gunter for Guys And Dolls
1981 Carl Toms for The Provok’d Wife
1980 John Napier and Dermot Hayes for Nicholas Nickleby
1979 William Dudley for Undiscovered Country
1978 Ralph Koltai for Brand
1977 John Napier for King Lear
1976 Farrah for Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2) and Henry V
June 7, 2010
OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Costume Winners
Best Costume Design
2012 Crazy For You designed by Peter McKintosh
2011 After the Dance designed by Hildegard Bechtler
2010 Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert – The Musical designed by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner
2009 The Histories designed by Tom Piper and Emma Williams
2008 Vicki Mortimer for The Man Of Mode at the National
2007 The Voysey Inheritance, designed by Alison Chitty at the National Lyttelton
2006 The Dog In The Manger designed by Es Devlin at the Playhouse
2005 All’s Well That Ends Well designed by Deirdre Clancey at the Gielgud
2004 Power designed by Christopher Oram
2003 Twelfth Night designed by Jenny Tirimani
Best Costume Designer
2002 Jenny Beavan for Private Lives
2001 Alison Chitty for Remembrance Of Things Past
2000 Julie Taymor for The Lion King
1999 William Dudley for Amadeus and The London Cuckolds
1998 Tim Goodchild for Three Hours After Marriage
1997 Tim Goodchild for The Relapse
1996 Anthony Ward for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Way Of The World and La Grande Magia
1995 Deirdre Clancy for Love’s Labour’s Lost and A Month In The Country
1994 Gerald Scarfe for An Absolute Turkey
1993 William Dudley for Heartbreak House, Pygmalion and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
1992 Mark Thompson for The Comedy Of Errors
1991 Jasper Conran for The Rehearsal
April 16, 2010
Review of Posh at the Royal Court theatre in London
Given the Royal Court’s long-running anti-Establishment bias, you didn’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that Posh would be a loaded play about class.
It’s set in a private dining room of an Oxford gastropub where The Riot Club, comprising ten pukka male students in their early twenties, meet for a ritualistic dinner whose main course is a ten-bird roast, and where the bottles of wine outnumber the guests.
All harbour an inflated sense of entitlement, convinced they are responsible for putting the ‘great’ in Great Britain – past present and future, and resent the fact they are no longer in power.
Bright but foul-mouthed, conspicuously debauched (they each bring a sick bag with them as a hedge against excessive eating and drinking), and with a stereotypical Hooray-Henry approach to the world, practically everything they say reeks of a snobbish class-consciousness rather than class.
With ten characters in the mix, playwright Laura Wade, by necessity, has chosen only a handful on whom to concentrate. And while each has his revelatory moments, a few, such as Tom Mison, as James, the Riot Club’s president, David Dawson as their resident gay poet (deliciously named Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt), Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Dimitri, a Greek by name but an English toff by nature, and most memorable of all, Leo Bill as the group’s repellently outspoken (and violent) member Alastair, make the most impact.
Indeed, the one element not in short supply is impact, and after the initial hour or so – the time Wade allows her characters to establish themselves, the play dramatically shifts gears. The meal starts uneventfully enough. There’s some discussion about the wine on offer and it’s discovered that the ten-bird roast comprises only nine birds (no guinea fowl could be found). Nor does the The landlord (Daniel Ryan) endear himself by asking the lads to keep the volume of noise down as other paying customers have complained.
The evening is further compromised when a ‘prozzer’ (prostitute) called Charlie (Charlotte Lucas) who has been booked for the night refuses to indulge in the sex act expected of her and is forced to leave when the landlord discovers her presence. The evening climaxes not in sex, despite a clumsy attempt on behalf of one of the boys to kiss the landlord’s waitress daughter (Fiona Button) against her will, but when the aggressive Alastair floors the landlord with a vicious uppercut after they trash his dining room.
It’s at this point that incredulity supersedes shock as all ten students, oblivious of their victim’s life-threatening wounds, stand around bickering and apportioning blame rather than calling an ambulance.
Despite their all-for-one and one-for-all philosophy, self-preservation kicks in and the rest of the group decide that Alastair, who administered the blows, should take the blame.
Wade’s coup d’grace and her ultimate thrust of the dagger into the heart of a political party she clearly despises, is a final scene in which an influential Tory MP (Simon Shepherd) reassures an unrepentant Alastair that the party needs more men like him, and that the influential old-boy network to which he belongs will help clear his name prior to recruiting him into Conservative politics.
If ever a play loaded the dice to make a point, this is it. The relish with which the playwright hammers home her message comes dangerously close to caricature and you will search in vain for a smidgen of decency among her ten offensive toffs, not one of whom appears to have a single redeeming feature.
Yet there is undeniable ingenuity in the way the play is constructed, in the characters’ authentic speech patterns and in the author’s ability to juggle so many characters without losing focus.
Laura Wade is certainly a talent to watch and it will be interesting to see how she handles a play with less easy targets and with a fairer, more balanced point of view.
Lyndsey Turner’s skilful and fluent direction and Anthony Ward’s settings contribute immeasurably to the success of an evening, which although flawed and manipulative, packs quite a wallop.
CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.
October 2, 2009
Review of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Like Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, though only more so, Truman Capote’s most endearing creation, Holly Golightly, the heroine of his 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, exists most vividly in the mind’s eye. Endow her with flesh and blood and the bloom soon evaporates.
In Blake Edwards’s 1961 screen version, even the captivating Audrey Hepburn, who came as close as was humanly possible to recreating the essence of Holly, was unable to satisfy everyone’s expectations.
An adult, yet with a childlike irresponsibility, Holly is naive as well as sophisticated. Her heart is definitely in the right place and she wouldn’t harm a fly, but at the same time she is oblivious of the hurt and destruction her selfishness can bring to others. She never thinks about the consequences of her actions, yet she is abundantly capable of warmth and tenderness. She can both infuriate and enchant, annoy and delight. She is contradictory and contrary, yet totally, absolutely lovable. Has there ever been a more elusive yet enchanting creature?
To ask an actress to capture all of Holly’s maddening yet delightful qualities – as well as her beauty – is something of a tall order. Offered a chance to take it on, Anna Friel, in what should have been a career-making opportunity, certainly provides the looks.
But alas, not much else. She does her best and towards the very end even manages a smidgen of vulnerability.
Ultimately, though, the task is beyond her and, consequently, there’s a cavernous gap at the centre of Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Capote’s novella.
Nor is the situation helped by Anthony Ward’s set (two revolving fireescapes on either side of the stage plus some nasty cut-outs of the Manhattan skyline) which is of such singular ugliness it does nothing to conjure the exotic glamour and excitement of New York in the early forties and late fifties.
As William Parsons, the sexually ambivalent would-be author and narrator who lives in the same brownstone apartment as Holly (and who is unrequitedly in thrall of her), American actor Joseph Cross – looking like a young Tim Robbins – doesn’t make much of an impression either. But then none of the cast, with the exceptions of Dermot Crowley’s barman Joe Bell and John Ramm as Holly’s forgotten husband Doc, convinces. Strange this, considering that one whole page of the programme is devoted to the four (count ‘em) casting directors used on the production. Go figure, as they say.
Though pretty faithful to the novella, playwright Adamson does take certain liberties with some of the supporting players, most noticeably Madame Spanella (Suzanne Bertish), a wannabee opera singer. In the book she’s the moral guardian of the piece, anxious to have Holly, the immoral party-girl, evicted. Yet as tweaked by Adamson, she thinks nothing of seducing young men by inviting them to her apartment for ‘filet mignon’ and to ‘listen to my cadenza’. Which turns her into something of a hypocrite. And a comic caricature.
Director Sean Mathias is in better control of the play’s more intimate moments than the clunky crowd-scenes, but he should have eliminated the silly horse-riding and kite-flying sequences.
Though this adaptation is closer to Capote’s original text than the film, watching it is like breakfasting at a greasy spoon rather than anything associated with Tiffany’s.
Another pointless attempt to improve on a classic.
CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London.
June 8, 2009
British musical Billy Elliot triumphed last night at the 63rd Annual Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The show won 10 awards, taking the number of international awards Billy Elliot has won to an impressive 73. Its wins included best musical, best director (Stephen Daldry), featured actor in a musical (Gregory Jbara), and leading actor in a musical – which went to all three of the young actors playing Billy (David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish). Billy Elliot also won a slew of creative awards including best orchestrations (Martin Koch), best scenic (Ian MacNeil), lighting (Rick Fisher) and sound (Paul Arditti) design of a musical, best book (Lee Hall) and best choreography (Peter Darling).
Liza Minnelli presented Elton John, Stephen Daldry, Eric Fellner and Sally Greene with the Tony for Best Musical, joined on stage by the cast, production team and co-producers.
The original production of Billy Elliot is still playing at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London after celebrating its 4th anniversary last month and the show has played to over 3.5 million people worldwide.
Despite sound problems running throughout the awards ceremony, the star-studded gala for 6,000 people saw an 11 minute show-stopping opening that included the three Billy’s performing “Electricity” from the show accompanied by Elton John, songs from West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Next to Normal, Hair, Shrek, Dolly Parton singing 9 to 5 with the cast and Liza Minnelli singing “And the World Goes Round”.
Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, other shows profiled included Mamma Mia!, Legally Blonde and Jersey Boys, with guest appearances from Lucie Arnaz, Jeff Daniels, Edie Falco, Will Ferrell, Carrie Fisher, Jane Fonda, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon and John Stamos.
Other British winners included Angela Lansbury, winning her fifth Tony Award for her performance as Madam Arcati in Blithe Spirit; Matthew Warchus for best direction of a play for God of Carnage – and his production of The Norman Conquests also won best revival of a play; Tim Hatley for best costume design of a musical for Shrek; and Anthony Ward winning best costume design of a play for Mary Stuart.
The life of British actress Natasha Richardson was also celebrated at the awards following her death in March.
February 20, 2009
Writer Lucy Prebble
Well not quite “the musical” but it would be fabulous! Ridiculously young and talented playwright Lucy Prebble (creator of the Secret Diary of a Call Girl TV series) is turning the infamous American corporate scandal into a new play, which also promises music, movement and video. This could all go so easily wrong if it wasn’t that man of the moment Rupert Goold (Oliver!), teaming up again with Oliver! designer Anthony Ward, is at the helm. Promising to cast new light on the scandal, the play opens at the Royal Court Theatre in September.
January 4, 2009
Gillian Anderson is to star in a new production of Ibsen’s classic play A Doll’s House at the Donmar Warehouse.
She will be joined by a stellar cast that will include Christopher Eccleston, Toby Stephens, Tara Fitzgerald and Anton Lesser.
In a new version by Zinnie Harris, the play will be directed by Kfir Yefet and designed by Anthony Ward.
In the classic drama, Nora loves her husband above all else. But when she risks her reputation in order to save his, she begins to question her devotion and finds herself fighting for her own life.
Zinnie Harris’s new version is set against the backdrop of British politics at the turn of the last century, in a world where duty, power and hypocrisy rule.