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Dominic West to take West End role

February 21, 2011 

British actor Dominic West, star of HBO’s The Wire, is to return to the London stage this summer in a new production of Simon Gray’s 1970 play Butley.

Dominic West

Dominic West

West, who is about to star in new BBC drama The Hour penned by Abi Morgan, will take on the role of Butley, an alcoholic academic in the throes of a mid-life crisis. The role was originally played by Alan Bates, and starred Nathan Lane on Broadway in 2003.

Harold Pinter, who directed Bates in the first West End production in 1971, called the character of Butley “a remarkable creation” and said in his introduction to the Faber collection of Simon Gray’s plays that he “found its savage, lacerating wit hard to beat… The extraordinary thing about Butley, it still seems to me, is that the play gives us a character who hurls himself towards the destruction while living, in the fever of his intellectual hell, with a vitality and brilliance known to few of us.”

The play will be directed by Lindsay Posner and run at the Duchess Theatre from 1 June 2011. West will star alongside Paul McGann.

Chichester Festival Theatre’s musical production of Love Story is currently playing at the Duchess, with Tim Firth’s Sign of the Times following from 7 March starring Matthew Kelly and Gerard Kearns.

LINKS

Book tickets to Butley starring Dominic West at the Duchess Theatre

Love Story to Close at Duchess Theatre

February 1, 2011 

The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Love Story will close as scheduled at the Duchess Theatre on 26 February 2011.

Emma Williams and Michael Xavier in Love Story

Emma Williams and Michael Xavier in Love Story

The new musical, based on Eric Segal’s best-selling book and the acclaimed film, is the first producing venture for musicals star Michael Ball, along with The Mousetrap producer Stephen Waley-Cohen, and Hairspray and Sister Act producer Adam Spiegel.

The show is set to go on a UK tour after it closes in the West End.

The West End cast features Emma Williams, Michael Xavier and Peter Polycarpou, with direction by Rachel Kavanaugh, music by Howard Goodall, book by Stephen Clark and lyrics by Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall.

Other cast in the show include Richard Cordery, Jan Hartley, Gary Milner, Paul Kemble, Julie Stark, Lillie Flynn, Christopher Killik, Jamie Muscato and Rebecca Trehearn.

LINKS

SPECIAL OFFER: Save £22.50 on tickets to Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in London

Interview with Love Story producer Michael Ball


Last Chance to see Love Story

January 31, 2011 

The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Love Story which transferred to the West End will complete its run on 26 February 2011.

Producer Adam Spiegel said: “We are very proud to have brought Love Story to the West End and are looking forward to announcing a UK tour shortly as well as a number of further productions to be staged worldwide.”

The West End cast comprises Emma Williams as Jenny, Michael Xavier as Oliver Barratt IV and Peter Polycarpou who plays Jenny’s father, Phil, all of whom reprise their roles at the Duchess Theatre. They are joined by Richard Cordery, Jan Hartley, Gary Milner, Paul Kemble, Julie Stark and ensemble members Lillie Flynn, Christopher Killik, Jamie Muscato and Rebecca Trehearn. This new musical version of Love Story, inspired by Erich Segal’s novel, is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with music by Howard Goodall, book by Stephen Clark and lyrics by Stephen Clark and Howard Goodall. Love Story, which enjoyed an acclaimed run in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester earlier this year, is designed by Peter McKintosh, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound designer Matt McKenzie, musical direction by Stephen Ridley and musical staging is by Lizzi Gee.

Love Story, which is produced in the West End by Michael Ball, Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen.

Oliver Barrett IV went to Harvard and Jenny Cavilleri to Radcliffe. He was rich, she was poor. He was sporty, she played music. But they fell in love. This is their story.

Erich Segal’s best-selling novel, Love Story, became one of the most romantic films of all time, has sold over 21 million copies world-wide and has been published in 33 languages.

Release issued by: Premier PR

LINKS

SPECIAL OFFER: Save £22.50 on tickets to Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in London

Free Hotel Rooms in London

January 10, 2011 

Free Hotel Rooms in London

Celebrate winter with our great new hotel and theatre promotion, with blockbuster shows including Love Never Dies, Legally Blonde, Priscilla, Jersey Boys and Billy Elliot.

Westendtheatre.com has partnered with 18 top London shows and a range of Central London hotels to offers visitors to the city a fabulous winter treat.

Running until the end of March 2011, you can book a free room in a central London hotel when buying a top-price theatre ticket to one of a selection of shows.

Prices start at just £45 ($70 USD / €55 Euros) per person for a three star hotel, continental breakfast and a best seat to a major West End show, based on two people sharing.

An amazing selection of big-budget West End musicals are featured in the promotion including: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to the Phantom of the Opera – Love Never Dies; Legally Blonde, based on the smash-hit movie; Tony award-winning Elton John musical Billy Elliot; a new musical adaptation of Love Story; fabulous, spectacular show Priscilla Queen of the Desert; Jersey Boys featuring the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons; Dirty Dancing; sexy, sassy Kander and Ebb show Chicago; joyous 1960s musical Dreamboats and Petticoats; Grease The Musical; Willy Russell’s powerful musical Blood Brothers; theatre, dance and percussion show Stomp; and Michael Jackson tribute show Thriller Live.

Comedy and drama included in the promotion ranges from a riotously funny adaptation of The 39 Steps, to Samantha Bond in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, terrifying thriller The Woman in Black, and classic comedy When We Are Married.

BOOK NOW

See all shows in the promotion and book now

Terms and conditions of the promotion:

Prices are per person and based on two people sharing a twin or double room in one of our chosen Central London 3* hotels. Valid for select performances and subject to availability. Once booked, the package is non transferable and cannot be exchanged or refunded. All prices include VAT and all other transaction and booking fees. Selected shows are subject to a £5 supplement. For full terms and conditions visit www.westendtheatre.com/theatre-breaks

Opening this week: Love Story, Potted Panto

December 6, 2010 

This week’s West End openings include romantic new show Love Story, Christmas treats with Potted Panto, The Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker, plus Derek Jacobi in King Lear.

Emma Williams and Michael Xavier in Love Story

Emma Williams and Michael Xavier in Love Story

Love Story
Love Story gets its official opening night at the Duchess starring Emma Williams and Michael Xavier on 6 December. Erich Segal’s best-selling novel Love Story, which was famously turned into a film starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, has been given the musicals treatment by Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark.

The show had its premiere earlier this year at the Chichester Festival Theatre and was well received by critics, with The Stage calling it a “gorgeous new chamber musical”. The producers of the show include West End star Michael Ball, Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen and it is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with design by Peter McKintosh and musical direction by Stephen Ridley. Read our interview with Michael Ball.  Book tickets to Love Story at the Duchess Theatre.

King Lear at the Donmar

Derek Jacobi gives his King Lear at the Donmar Warehouse, opening on 7 December in a new production by Michael Grandage. Also starring Gina McKee. Book tickets.

The Night Before Christmas

Magical family show The Night Before Christmas opens at the Ambassadors Theatre on 8 December. Meet Father Christmas and see a wonderful story come to life in this brand new show, full of songs, poems and stories. Book tickets.

Potted Panto
Those CBBC rascals Dan and Jeff bring Pantomime mayhem to the Vaudeville with Edinburgh family hit Potted Panto on 10 December. CBBC’s Dan and Jeff, the masterminds behind Potted Potter and Potted Pirates, turn their attentions to that much loved British institution, the pantomime. Potted Panto crams seven much-loved pantomimes into one show. Dan and Jeff career through Cinderella in 3D, dazzle with a Dick Whittington featuring Jeff as the Mayor of London and struggle to work out how two people can play seven dwarves and which of them will make the prettiest princess. From conventions and costume to heroes and villains, the dastardly double act explores all the elements of the art form we both love and loathe as a nation. Book tickets to Potted Panto at the Vaudeville Theatre.

English National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
On the same night English National Ballet open their seasonal production of The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum in a sumptuous new production by Artistic Director Wayne Eagling to celebrate the Company’s 60th birthday. Book tickets.

COMING SOON

And next week… A Flear in her Ear opens on 14 December at the Old Vic starring Tom Hollander, Lisa Dillon and Jonathan Cake.

Star Interview: Michael Ball

November 17, 2010 

Interview: Two Minute Call

“Michael Ball, this is your two minute call…”  Westendtheatre.com catches up with king of West End musical theatre Michael Ball, who adds another string to his bow this month by co-producing new musical LOVE STORY at the Duchess Theatre in London. Here he talks about embarrassing auditions, favourite theatres and the ultimate West End show.

Michael Ball. Photo: Nicky Johnston

Michael Ball. Photo: Nicky Johnston

What was your first professional theatre experience?

I played Judas and John the Baptist in a production of Godspell at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in 1984. It was just after I’d left Guildford School of Acting.

If someone could only see one musical or play in their lifetime, what should it be?

Les Miserables – it doesn’t run for 25 years for nothing! It’s stuffed full of great characters, great songs and an epic story and it truly demonstrates why musical theatre is one of the most exciting story telling mediums known to man. There’s one play in the West End at the moment which is an absolute must and that’s War Horse – it’s the most astonishing production I’ve ever seen onstage, absolutely brilliant.

What’s your favourite West End theatre and why?

I have a soft spot for the Palace Theatre in London – it’s where I saw Jesus Christ Superstar when I was about 11 and decided then and there I wanted to be in musical theatre. Then, when I got my first West End role as Marius in Les Mis, I found myself stepping onto the Palace Theatre stage for the first time – it was an emotional moment I can tell you! I was back at the Palace in 2005 in Woman In White playing the fabulously revolting Count Fosco.

The stars of Love Story, Michael Xavier and Emma Williams, and producer Michael Ball.  Photo: Craig Sugden

The stars of Love Story, Michael Xavier and Emma Williams, and producer Michael Ball. Photo: Craig Sugden

What would be your profession if you hadn’t chosen the theatre and entertainment industry?

I’d be a chef – I love cooking for other people; it’s still about being creative and about entertaining people and, as a bonus, you get to eat as much as you like!

What’s your most embarrassing audition?

I once did an audition for the tour of ‘There’s A Girl In My Soup’ to play the hippy stoned layabout drummer. Unfortunately I turned up wearing a three piece pin striped suit and tie, was very keen and totally wrong for the part! It was the first audition I’d ever done and I thought you had to dress smartly, like you would for a business interview!

Which do you love most? The first day of rehearsals, the first night of the show or the last night?

They are fabulous and awful in equal measure; the first day of rehearsals is exciting because you’re like the new boy at school, everyone’s getting together for the first time and there’s great expectation in the air because you don’t know what to expect. The first night is really exciting and supremely nerve wracking at the same time; then on the last night of a show you experience a mixture of emotions from elation to sadness.

Tell us a theatre secret.

Port doesn’t work for preserving the voice – honey and water is far better.

What’s your single most important piece of advice to a budding actor or actress?

Just keep on trying, keep on learning and keep up to date – there’s lots of work out there and although there’s fierce competition, I truly believe that talent will rise to the surface. You’ve got to work extremely hard and be aware of what’s going on – keep a look out for auditions and make sure your CV’s up to date with a great photo.

* * * *

Michael Ball is currently producing new musical LOVE STORY at the Duchess Theatre in London, from 27 November. Based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel, which was famously turned into a film, the show transfers to the West End from a sell-out season in Chichester starring Emma Williams and Michael Xavier, and is produced by Michael Ball, Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen.

Book tickets to Love Story at the Duchess Theatre

VIDEO: Love Story at the Duchess Theatre

November 2, 2010 

Erich Segal’s best-selling novel Love Story, which was famously turned into a film, transfers to the West End from Chichester starring Emma Williams and Michael Xavier, and produced by Michael Ball.

Book tickets to Love Story
More information about the show
More information about the Duchess Theatre

VIDEO

Love Story at the Duchess Theatre

LINKS

Watch more videos on West End Theatre TV

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Celebrity Endorsement : The Musical

October 15, 2010 

Bette Midler, Michael Ball, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith… is celebrity endorsement of musicals the future of theatre?

It’s one thing for a star name to be jettisoned into a musical to liven things up and provide some celebrity “tits and ass”. But what about celebrities simply endorsing a show because, well, they can?

Bette Midler performing at Caesars Palace

Bette Midler performing at Caesars Palace

This comes after news that the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, will act as a “producer” on the new Broadway production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in New York, running from 28 February.

Midler is joining a growing list of celebs on both sides of the Atlantic who are investing their time and money in shows without feeling the need to haul themselves on stage, from Elton John bank-rolling gay play Next Fall, to Will Smith and Jay-Z  injecting a million dollars into Fela! – which is coming to the National Theatre next month.

And in the UK let’s not forget Whoopi Goldberg’s involvement in Sister Act, providing money and showbiz face-time, but with minimal artistic input from the lady herself (not counting the few days she actually starred in it).

Michael Ball has also recently lent his cash and name to the Chichester transfer of new musical Love Story, which opens at the Duchess Theatre next month.

All this is nothing new in TV land, where getting an executive producer credit on a show is contracted as part of the deal and relates to getting some extra dollars. It’s the stuff of a million US dramas where the headline star is given an Exec Producer credit.

Michael Ball and the cast of Love Story

Michael Ball and the cast of Love Story

But in the UK, is there still an expectation that anyone with Producer in their title should actually do just that, and even carry the can for the production?

You only need to look back to “executive producers” Ant & Dec and the TV phone voting scandal to see how wrong it can go, and how the title does carry some responsibility for the way the show is made and marketed.

So is this the way that theatre is going? Musicals have become a big, global business with millions of dollars at stake, so attaching a star name like Bette Midler, Michael Ball and Whoopi Goldberg to a project – especially a project without any onstage star names – seems like a clever marketing ploy.

It could also be a genuine way for the celebrity endorser to broaden their career in entertainment and become engaged and active in the business of putting on shows rather than just starring in them – something that Michael Ball seems to be doing.

And despite Bette Midler pumping a rumoured “significant” amount of money into Priscilla, she has also met with the director of the show, Simon Phillips, and given him extensive notes on his new production, and plans to attend rehearsals ahead of the pre-Broadway try-out in Toronto next week to add her thoughts (we’d love to know what Simon Phillips thinks of this input!)

If celebrity endorsement of shows is the shape of things to come, and is sold to us as something more than just an investment and a credit above the title, we will need to hear from the celebrities themselves about why they want to be involved. Bette’s Priscilla press release quote about her participation simply confirms our worst suspicions: “A new star on Broadway and her name is PRISCILLA!! So much fun, it’s practically illegal!!  In fact, it IS illegal in four states!!”

MICHAEL XAVIER in Love Story

October 12, 2010 

Michael Xavier returns to Love Story

MICHAEL XAVIER in Love StoryMichael Xavier  will join his fellow Into The Woods prince Simon Thomas on the West End stage this year when he stars alongside Emma Williams in Love Story at the Duchess Theatre.

Last seen as the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince in Into The Woods at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, Michael has forged an accomplished musicals career since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University.

He played jock Oliver Barrett in Love Story at the Chichester Festival Theatre earlier in the year and has also appeared as Curly in Oklahoma at the theatre. Other roles include Sir Galahad in Spamalot at the Palace Theatre, Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Freddy in My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Sky in Mamma Mia in the UK on tour.

Love Story is a passionate new musical based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel – which became one of the most romantic films of all time starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Created by Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark, the show stars Emma Williams as Jenny, Michael Xavier as Oliver Barratt IV and Peter Polycarpou as Jenny’s father, Phil.The producers of the show include West End star Michael Ball, Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen and the show is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with a book by Stephen Clark, design by Peter McKintosh and musical direction by Stephen Ridley.

Book tickets to LOVE STORY at the Duchess theatre in London

EMMA WILLIAMS in Love Story

October 12, 2010 

The lovely Emma Williams in Love Story

EMMA WILLIAMS in Love Story

Emma made her West End stage debut as Truly Scrumptious in the original production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, co-starring with Michael Ball – who is producing the West End transfer of Love Story.

She went on to star in Desperately Seeking Susan at the Novello Theatre, Zorro at the Garrick Theatre, and opposite Bryn Terfel as Johanna in Sweeney Todd at the Royal Festival Hall. Earlier this year she originated the role of Jenny in Love Story at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Emma’s film and TV work include Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is, Bleak House and Cosi.

Love Story is a passionate new musical based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel – which became one of the most romantic films of all time starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Created by Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark, the show stars Emma Williams as Jenny, Michael Xavier as Oliver Barratt IV and Peter Polycarpou as Jenny’s father, Phil.The producers of the show include West End star Michael Ball, Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen and the show is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with a book by Stephen Clark, design by Peter McKintosh and musical direction by Stephen Ridley.

Book tickets to LOVE STORY at the Duchess theatre in London

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