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The West End Goes MAD For Christmas

November 17, 2014 

The West End Goes MAD For Christmas is a fabulous compilation album of Christmas songs by new writers, all performed by a host of West End stars.

The West End Goes MAD For Christmas is a fab Christmas abumn featuring a fantastic range of up-and-coming new musical theatre writers along with talented West End performers and singer-songwriters.

Released on behalf of West End theatre charity the MAD Trust, and in conjunction with their annual fundraiser ‘A West End Christmas’ at St Paul’s (The Actor’s Church) in Covent Garden, all sales of the album raises money for the MAD Trust, helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

The perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves musical theatre.

 Tracks on the album include:

  • Together We Can Make It – Killian Donnelly & the cast of Les Misérables; written by Felix Hagan
  • Home – Alistair Brammer; written by Gus Gowland & Alistair Brammer
  • I Love Christmas – Chloe Hart; from The Bakewell Bake Off written by The Baking Committee
  • This Christmas – written & performed by Stuart Matthew Price
  • Reindeer Wives – Harriet Thorpe, Christopher Howell & Sophie Isaacs; written by Anderson & Petty
  • A Soldier’s Christmas – Gerónimo Rauch & Nadim Naaman; written by Nadim Naaman
  • Praying For You – Gina Beck; written by Alexander Bermange
  • The Little Match Girl – Janie Dee; written by Tim Connor

MORE ABOUT THE MAD TRUST:

The Make A Difference Trust, or MAD Trust, brings together the British Entertainment community and its audiences to raise funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK and South Arica, and those in the entertainment industry facing hardship as a result of a long-term chronic illness.

The West End Goes MAD For Christmas is released by Auburn Jam Records.

Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury – Round-up of Reviews

March 21, 2014 

Round-up of Reviews for Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury at the Gielgud Theatre

Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit

Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit

Michael Blakemore’s production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit gets a rousing reception from the critics – including Dame Angela Lansbury’s return to the stage.

Running until 7 June 2014 at the Gielgud Theatre, Angela Lansbury is joined in the cast by Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey, The King’s Speech) as Charles Condomine, Janie Dee (Hello Dolly!) as Ruth Condomine and Jemima Rooper as Elvira. Other cast include Sandra Dickinson, Simon Jones and Patsy Ferran.

What we thought

We have never seen a production of Blithe Spirit (and let’s face it – there have been a lot of them!) that manages to draw out every possible laugh from Noel Coward’s witty and fast-paced drawing-room comedy. In Michael Blakemore’s beautifully choreographed production, every single cast member is pitch perfect, particularly Janie Dee’s brittle Ruth. Angela Lansbury, making her return to London after nearly 40 years, puts in a performance worthy of her star status and top billing, managing to bring something entirely new to a character that is a well-trodden path for character actresses.

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Photos: Blithe Spirit opening night starring Angela Lansbury

March 19, 2014 

Photos of the opening night of Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre

The glittering new production of Noel Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit opened last night at the Gielgud Theatre in London.

Michael Blakemore’s production features a stellar cast including Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati, Charles Edwards as Charles Condomine, Janie Dee as Ruth Condomine and Jemima Rooper as Elvira.

PHOTOS

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Photos: Blithe Spirit – in rehearsal with Angela Lansbury

February 25, 2014 

Rehearsal photos of Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury at the Gielgud Theatre

Angela Lansbury, in rehearsal for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson

Angela Lansbury, in rehearsal for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre. Photo: Johan Persson

Rehearsals are well under way in London for a glittering new stage revival of Noel Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit.

Previews start this Saturday, 1 March 2014, at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in London as Michael Blakemore directs his acclaimed Broadway production of this classic comedy, starring legendary actress Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati.

She is joined by Charles Edwards as Charles Condomine, Janie Dee  as Ruth Condomine and Jemima Rooper as Elvira. Other cast include Sandra Dickinson, Simon Jones and Patsy Ferran.

Photos by Johan Persson.

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FIRST LOOK: Blithe Spirit poster starring Angela Lansbury

December 30, 2013 

FIRST LOOK: The poster for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre starring Angela Lansbury.

The poster has been released for the revival of Noel Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre (1 March to 7 June 2014).

Directed by Michael Blakemore based on his recent Broadway production, the play will see Angela Lansbury revive her acclaimed performance as Madame Arcati.

Angela Lansbury is joined in the cast by Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey, The King’s Speech) as Charles Condomine, Janie Dee (Hello Dolly!) as Ruth Condomine and Jemima Rooper as Elvira.

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Book tickets for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre starring Angela Lansbury

Poster for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre starring Angela Lansbury

Poster for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre starring Angela Lansbury

JEMIMA ROOPER as Elvira in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre

December 30, 2013 

JEMIMA ROOPER as Elvira in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre.

JEMIMA ROOPER

JEMIMA ROOPER

Jemima Rooper’s theatre credits include Me and My Girl (Sheffield Theatres), All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre, One Man, Two Guvnors, The Power of Yes and Her Naked Skin (National Theatre), Where Do We Live (Royal Court) and Now is the Time (Tricycle Theatre).

Television credits include Atlantis, Lost in Austen, Silent Witness, The Railway Children and as series regular in As I, and A Bouquet of Barbed Wire.

For film, her credits include The F Word with Daniel Radciffe, One Chance with James Corden, Black Dahlia, Kinky Boots and A Sound of Thunder.

The cast of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre includes Angela Lansbury, Janie Dee and Charles Edwards. The play is directed by Michael Blakemore.

LINKS

Book tickets to Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre in London

Cast Highlights: Putting It Together at the St James Theatre

December 30, 2013 

Cast Highlights for Putting It Together is a sparkling Stephen Sondheim revue at the St James Theatre starring David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen.

DAVID BEDELLA

As Man 1

David has worked in theatre for over thirty years. He spent 10 years in Chicago, then 11 in New York, performing on Broadway and in U.S. National Tours before making his London debut in 2003 creating the role of Satan in the legendary Jerry Springer-The Opera at the National Theatre then the Cambridge Theatre in the West End, where it was filmed for the BBC and released on DVD. He won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 2008 he recreated the role in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York opposite Harvey Keitel, and again in 2010 at the Sydney Opera House opposite David Wenham.

David played the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch then went on to redefine the role of Frank-N-Furter in the West End production of The Rocky Horror Show, which toured the UK 2006-07 and 2009 and 10.

2008 saw David take on the roles of Molokov in Chess in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, opposite Josh Groban and Idina Menzel; and Billy Flynn in CHICAGO, first at the Cambridge Theatre then again later that year at the Garrick. 2011- Willie Misner in Stephen Sondheim’s Roadshow and 2012- Arnold in Torch Song Trilogy, both at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Film credits include Alexander, Batman Begins, Red Light Runners, once again opposite Harvey Keitel; and Punk Strut.

Television credits, all BBC, include Ben Elton’s Blessed; Dr. Carlos in Holby City; and later this year, Franky, opposite Tamsin Greig in Inside No.9, and the new BBC police drama- By Any Means. He is the voice of Victor and the Mayor of Sodor in Thomas and Friends and is the voice of Coor’s Light throughout the UK. He is the host of the late night celebrity chat show, David Bedella And Friends and has appeared ‘In Concert’ at Leicester Square and London’s new “Hippodrome.” David will be playing the baddie opposite Jo Brand this Christmas in Aladin at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

DANIEL CROSSLEY

As Man 3

Theatre credits include: Cosmo Brown in Singin In The Rain (Chichester Festival Theatre, Palace Theatre), Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl and Paul in A Chorus Line (Sheffield Crucible), Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Hull Truck), Bert in Mary Poppins (National Tour), Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly! Jacques de Boys in As You Like it, Abram in Romeo and Juliet, Darren in Desires of Frankenstein, various roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labours Lost, Oh What a Lovely War and Where’s Charlie (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Anything Goes and Love’s Labours Lost (National Theatre), Sebastian in Twelfth Night (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Tony in Abigail’s Party (Northcott Theatre Exeter), HC in The Snow Queen (Derby Theatre), Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sprite Productions), Andrew in I Really Must Be Getting Off (White Bear), Oliver in Roast Chicken (Hen and Chickens), Owen/Kieran/Russell/Skinner in Modern Dance for Beginners (Etcetera theatre), Danny in Boyband (Derby Playhouse and Gielgud Theatre), Fosse (Prince of Wales Theatre), Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Fame (Cambridge Theatre), Cats (New London Theatre)

Television credits include: Doctors (BBC), The Last Enemy (BBC), Coronation Street (ITV), Heartbeat (ITV).

Film credits include: The Borghilde Project, Working Lunge.

JANIE DEE

As Woman 1

‘Is there a more enchanting actress on the British stage than Janie Dee? She combines good nature, good humour, an unforced charm and unself-conscious sensuality with a sense of mischief.’ (Benedict Nightingale, The Times)

The twin themes of charm and versatility have followed Janie throughout her extraordinarily varied career. A career which encompasses work on stage, film, television and radio, and embraces everything from Shakespeare at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the Globe (including ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, which was filmed by Opus Arte), to revivals of classic plays at Bath and Chichester (‘Design for Living’, ‘A Month in the Country’), acclaimed performances in modern dramas and comedies by Harold Pinter (‘Old Times’, ‘Betrayal’), Alan Ayckbourn (‘Comic Potential’, ‘A Woman in Mind’) and Michael Frayn (‘Skios’, ‘Noises Off’, ‘Donkeys Years’). In addition Janie has performed in many intimate cabarets and taken starring roles in musicals (‘Carousel’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘Cats’, ‘Can Can’, ‘My One and Only’, ‘Mack and Mabel’ and the classics of Rodgers and Hammerstein).

In the past year alone, Janie has performed in Michael Frayn’s riotous farce ‘Noises Off’ at the Old Vic and in the West End, created a lethal new role, Miranda, the glossy magazine editor, in Lucy Kirkwood’s acclaimed new play ‘NSFW’ at the Royal Court, for which she won her fifth Olivier award nomination, as Best Supporting Actress in a Play, and the irresistible matchmaker Dolly Levi in ‘Hello, Dolly!’. In addition, in January she created a brand new cabaret, ‘Satin Doll’ at the Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel to great acclaim.

Janie has just completed a short film, ‘The Bathroom’ written and directed by Sam Peter Jackson, directed a new musical version of ‘The Kitchen’ by Derek Barnes, based on the play by Arnold Wesker for Central School of Speech & Drama and performed with Kurt Elling in a new symphonic piece, ‘That Obscure Hurt’ written by Musician of the Year 2013 Guy Barker, and Robert Ryan, which was premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival earlier this month and broadcast live on Radio 3, as part of the Britten anniversary celebrations.

Janie is winner of the Olivier, London Evening Standard & Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress for her performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Comic Potential’ and the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for ‘Carousel’ at the National Theatre, directed by Nicholas Hytner.

DAMIAN HUMBLEY

As Man 2

Training: Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Theatre: Charley Kringas in Merrily We Roll Along (West End/Menier Chocolate Factory); Harry in Company (Sheffield Crucible); Max in Lend Me a Tenor, The Musical (Plymouth Theatre Royal/West End); Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Menier Chocolate Factory – UK Tour); Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof (Sheffield Crucible and Savoy Theatre); Jamie Wellerstein in The Last 5 Years (Menier Chocolate Factory); Walter Hartright in The Woman In White (Palace Theatre); Urinetown (Melbourne Theatre Company).

Concerts: The Symphony of Australia (SOA); Masterpiece: The Music of

Andrew Lloyd Webber (Really Useful Group)

Recordings: Merrily We Roll Along (DigitalTheatre.com); Lend Me A Tenor

(Original Cast Recording); The Symphony of Australia (Sydney Symphony

Orchestra); Fiddler on the Roof (2007 London Cast Recording); Masterpiece:

The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (2001 Live Cast Recording)

CAROLINE SHEEN

As Woman 2

Caroline has starred in premiere musicals in the West End and across the world, most recently playing the role of Fantine in Les Miserables opposite Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean. During her time in the show Caroline was given leave to appear in Tom Hooper’s Academy Award winning film adaptation of the show.

In 2010, Caroline was asked by Disney Theatrical and Cameron Mackintosh to tour America playing Mary Poppins, a role she originated on the UK Tour in 2008. Whilst in America, Caroline won the prestigious Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress in a touring production, she performed with the cast on Dancing with the Stars, and she was welcomed by Michelle Obama on her Opening Night in Washington DC. The same year Caroline released her debut album “Raise the Curtain” to critical acclaim. Other recordings Caroline can be heard include “The Witches of Eastwick”, “Mamma Mia”, “A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe”, “Serious Cabaret” and the charity single “A Miner’s Song” with other welsh celebrities raising money for the National Mining Memorial.

2009 saw Caroline creating the role of Clara Johnson in the European Premiere of The Light in the Piazza, Adam Guettel’s Tony winning masterpiece. Adam then invited Caroline to sing with him in his Cabaret debut in 2012 at London’s Hippodrome Casino.

Other West End leading roles include Sandy in Grease, Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Eponine in Les Miserables, Jennifer Gabriel in the original cast of The Witches of Eastwick, Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Sophie in Mamma Mia. Other theatre work includes leading roles in prestigious venues including the National Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse.

On television she has appeared in Torchwood, Hotel Babylon, Doctors and Henry VIII – Portrait of a Tyrant. Other TV appearances include the Royal Variety Show, Aled Jones and Co, the Mike Doyle Show, Art Talks with Mal Pope, and Blue Peter. Whilst appearing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2002, HTV Wales made a documentary about Caroline, her career and her upbringing in Wales.

Caroline’s extensive concert work includes guest soloist appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House, the London Palladium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St David’s Hall, and at the Opening performance of the Wales Millennium Centre. She has appeared alongside Michael Ball, Cliff Richard, Bryn Terfel, Dennis O’Neill, Catrin Finch, Aled Jones, Barbara Cook and John Owen Jones. Caroline also performed her own one woman show to a sell out audience at the Battersea Barge. Most recently Caroline was lead soloist at the Welsh Proms in the Best of the West End.

In 2012 Caroline was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the University of Wales, Newport.

CREATIVE TEAM

ALEX PARKER- Producer/Musical Director

Theatre credits as Musical Director include Once Upon a Matress (Union Theatre) and A Little Night Music (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre), as Producer/Musical Director Marguerite (Tabard Theatre), as Associate Musical Director Mrs Henderson Presents (Workshop) The Pajama Game (Chichester Festival Theatre) Soho Cinders (Soho Theatre) and as Assistant Musical Director Soho Cinders in Concert (Queen’s Theatre).

He has conducted in concert artists including Maria Friedman, Matt Lucas and Rosalie Craig, Janie Dee, Joanna Riding, Anna O’Byrne, David Birrell and more.

Studied Music (BMus) at the University of Birmingham (graduated 2012).

In October, Alex will begin work as the Assistant Musical Director on the premiere of a brand new musical in the West End.

Alastair Knights – Director

Alastair read English at University of Birmingham before gaining an MA at Guildford School of Acting, where he graduated in 2012.

As director/choreographer his credits include Anything Goes (University of Birmingham), Company (Electric Theatre) and Something Wonderful: An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre). He conceived and directed the original Jule Styne revue ‘Everything’s Coming Roses’ which premiered in Guildford in April and most recently staged a 40th Anniversary concert of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘A Little Night Music’ starring Janie Dee, Joanna Riding and David Birrell.

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Putting It Together at the St James Theatre

December 30, 2013 

Putting It Together is a sparkling Stephen Sondheim revue at the St James Theatre starring David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen.

First produced by Cameron Mackintosh on Broadway, Putting It Together is a sparkling revue featuring the songs of Stephen Sondheim.

The show features an extraordinary, award-winning cast that includes David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen.

Set at a cocktail party in New York City, Putting It Together is the story of two couples, one middle-aged and married, the other young lovers just starting out, who reflect on their relationships through the acclaimed songs of Stephen Sondheim.

At the St. James Theatre for three weeks only, Putting It Together features a stellar list of songs from Sondheim’s greatest shows including Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Follies, Company, Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods and many more.

Putting It Together is directed by Alastair Knights and choreographed by Matthew Rowland with musical supervision by Alex Parker and musical direction by Theo Jamieson.

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Theatre: St James Theatre

ANGELA LANSBURY as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre

November 29, 2013 

ANGELA LANSBURY as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre.

Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury’s Broadway performance as Coward’s infamous clairvoyant earned her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress and became her fifth Tony Award.

Her professional career spans more than a half-century, during which she has flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a Broadway musical star and most recently as the star of Murder, She Wrote. The actress made her Broadway debut in 1957 when she starred as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce, Hotel Paradiso.

In 1960, she returned to Broadway as Joan Plowright’s mother in the season’s most acclaimed drama, A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney. One year later, she starred on Broadway in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to New York in triumph in 1966 as Mame, for which she won the first of her Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. She received the others as the Madwoman of Chaillott in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival of Gypsy and as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979).

From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on Murder, She Wrote, for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1982, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 1994 she was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Angela and her husband Peter were married in 1949. They worked together until Peter’s death in January 2003. Angela has three grown children, Deirdre, Anthony and David, and three grandchildren.

Lansbury was last seen on the London stage playing Gertrude in the National Theatre production of Hamlet in 1975. Prior to that, she starred in the celebrated production of Gypsy at the Piccadilly Theatre and in the RSC production of All Over at The Aldwych.

In November this year Lansbury received an honorary Oscar in recognition of her outstanding 70 years of contribution to the film industry.

The cast of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre includes Angela Lansbury, Janie Dee and Charles Edwards. The play is directed by Michael Blakemore.

 LINKS

Book tickets to Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre in London

CHARLES EDWARDS as Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre.

November 29, 2013 

CHARLES EDWARDS as Charles Condomine  in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre.

Charles Edwards

Charles Edwards

This appearance brings Charles back to Blithe Spirit as he made his theatrical debut in the play.

Since then his star has continued rise with numerous roles at the National Theatre including: This House, in which he played the persuasive Conservative chief whip Jack Wetherhill and gained a nomination for a Best Actor Evening Standard Award. Other National Theatre performances include Twelfth Night, The Duchess of Malfi, All My Sons and most recently starring in Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude opposite Anne-Marie Duff. His other theatre credits include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe and George V in The King’s Speech, both of which gained him Evening Standard Award Best Actor nominations, as well as Hannay in The 39 Steps in the West End and on Broadway.

On television he is best known as Michael Gregson, a wealthy London publisher and suitor of Lady Edith Crawley in the global hit Downton Abbey. His many other TV roles include Holy Flying Circus, Murder Rooms, opposite the late Ian Richardson and Monarch of the Glen. Film work embraces Philomena starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, the Hollywood blockbuster Batman Begins, and period features such as Mansfield Park and An Ideal Husband.

The cast of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre includes Angela Lansbury, Janie Dee and Charles Edwards. The play is directed by Michael Blakemore.

LINKS

Book tickets to Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre in London

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