One of the most beautiful pieces of musical theatre London has ever witnessed: Side Show at Southwark Playhouse ★★★★★

If you mention Side Show to the most devoted musical theatre audiences, many of them will proclaim it to be one of their favourite musicals, even though until now, the show has never been performed professionally in London. The original Broadway production was nominated for four Tony awards and the cast recording made stars of its two leading ladies, Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner. The show was sadly not a commercial success and even with a few alterations, the 2014 revival again failed to connect with the mass market. Side Show does however, have everything you could possibly want from a musical and the new production at Southwark Playhouse is possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of musical theatre London has ever witnessed.

From the very first note, Henry Krueger’s soaring score and Bill Russell’s captivating lyrics draw you into a world of intrigue and despair, where the unusual are reviled and those who possess unique characteristics are ridiculed and branded as freaks. We are introduced to the Hilton sisters (Daisy and Violet), a set of teenage Siamese twins, who are forced to perform at one such seedy side-show and treated as slaves by ‘Sir'(Christopher Howell), the demonic owner of the troop. After a couple of plucky vaudeville talent scouts discover their abilities, the girls are catapulted into the spotlight, but can never shake off the wish to become part of ‘normal’ society.

Louise Dearman and Laura Pitt-Pulford star as the conjoined twins, and are simply stunning in their portrayals, perfectly capturing the hidden torment of the sisters whose unwavering loyalty towards one another eventually fends off damaging outside influences.

Hannah Chissick’s direction cleverly disguises the obvious difficulties the leading ladies face and allows the twins to make the most of their partnership, with some enchanting dance numbers and sensational duets including the tear-jerking Who Will Love Me as I Am and the show-stopping I Will Never Leave You. They are supported with class by Dominic Hodson as Buddy, Haydn Oakley as Terry, Jay Marsh as Jake and the rest of the cast of magical misfits.

It’s when Dearman and Pitt-Pulford fill the auditorium with the most spellbinding musical truisms, that the audience is really treated however, with a pair of performances, which will undoubtedly earn the acclaimed pair further plaudits.

A show about conjoined twins doesn’t necessarily have an appealing ring to it for many, so lets instead pitch Side Show as a musical about social acceptance, with exquisite music and sensational performances from all. I’ve already seen it twice and will try to get there as many times as I can before it closes in December.

Side Show continues at Southwark Playhouse until 3rd December. If you would like any further information, you can visit the website


John Partridge to star in the classic musical La Cage Aux Folles at the New Wimbledon Theatre

The iconic musical La Cage Aux Folles will embark on it’s first ever nationwide tour early next year and will boast an all-star cast when it dances into the New Wimbledon Theatre.

The acclaimed stage show will star former Eastender John Partridge role of ‘Albin’, who moonlights as star drag act Zaza at the infamous La Cage aux Folles nightclub. Partridge’s extensive theatre credits include the West End productions of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, Cats, Starlight Express and Chicago. He is also well known for playing the loveable Christian Clarke in BBC’s EastEnders and as a judge on TV’s Over The Rainbow.

Adrian Zmed will play ‘Georges’, partner of Albin and owner of the nightclub. Zmed co-starred with William Shatner as ‘Officer Vince Romano’ in the 70’s hit TV show T.J. Hooker, which ran for 90 episodes over 5 years, and for playing ‘Johnny Nogerelli’ in the cult classic film Grease 2. This will be his first stage appearance in the UK although he is no stranger to Broadway musicals having previously led the casts of Grease, no fewer than 3 times, Falsettos and Blood Brothers.

Written by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, and based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, La Cage Aux Folles follows the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez nightclub, and his partner, Albin, a drag artiste and the club’s star attraction. They live an idyllic existence in the south of France but behind the curtains of this sparkling extravaganza, all may be about to change when Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a notorious right-wing politician determined to close down the local colourful night-life. Drama and hilarity ensue when a meeting of the parents forces them to cover up their vibrant lifestyle. Will Albin be able to play the role of his life to ensure that Jean-Michel can marry his love?

La Cage Aux Folles is a multi-award winning musical. The original Broadway production became an instant smash hit when it opened in 1983. It received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The success of the musical spawned a London Palladium production and several international runs. The 2004 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and the 2008 London revival garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.

The show-stopping score includes The Best of Times, Song on the Sand and the iconic I Am What I Am, which has been recorded by musical legends Gloria Gaynor, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett.

La Cage Aux Folles will run at the New Wimbledon Theatre from 14th – 18th March 2017

Tim McArthur takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Tim McArthur is an actor, director and presenter, who is well known within the West End as the host of Resonance FM’s Curtain Up show. His alter ego, Sister Mary McArthur is a cabaret favourite and Tim’s recent one-man show at the St. James theatre was met with critical acclaim. The charismatic performer is already preparing for a busy pantomime season and will host the coveted Wilma Awards at the Hippodrome Casino next week.

Tim took on the challenge of our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?
Just directed a production of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town at Ye Old Rose and Crown in Walthamstow.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?
Keeping my feet on the ground, learning from every job and being co-operative with fellow workers.

What is your favourite Book?
This is really bad – I am not a massive reader, tend only to read books on holiday but I love Jonathan Harvey’s books.

What are you currently watching on TV?
The Fall is brilliant and The Apprentice is always hilarious – where do these so called business people come from? I am a huge Zombie fan as well, so half way through The Walking Dead season 6 – scares the bejesus out of me! I always fast forward the scary bits then re watch. #teenagegirl.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?
Because I present the Curtain Up Show on Resonance FM and about to start a new Sunday show on Encore Radio, I am lucky and see 2 – 3 shows a week, so on a night out, I probably will go out for dinner or meet mates in the pub or the CAA.

What’s your favourite sweet?
I love, love, love Drumsticks reminds me of my youth.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I actually wanted to be a Bus Driver! Clang Clang went the Trolley..

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child?
I was severely bullied at school – so it was probably nicking off school. I still got 5 GCSE’s so I suppose not all bad.

What is your proudest achievement to date?
Tough question – over the years been lots of shows I have directed that have special place in my heart. Acting wise I played Sam Byck in Assassins and I suppose that is high on my list. But probably I would say my proudest achievement is still been in the business and working after all these years.

What’s next?
I am hosting the Wilma Awards on November 4th at the Hippodrome, then directing Prince Bendover in Boots at the RVT, then playing Twankey in Charming Dick at The Cockpit Theatre in December. Happy Christmas….

A real diamond for theatregoers: The Phoenix Artist Club 

A secret little haven for the stagey glitterati, The Phoenix Artist club is a fabulous spot to while away the hours, with good food and a fabulous atmosphere.

Nestled below the Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road, the private members club is open to anyone during the daytime and offers free wifi, as well as complimentary tea and coffee within its plush lounge bar area, adorned with theatrical memorabilia. 

Once the evening draws in, you can also indulge in an excellent pre-show meal and choose from the extensive and reasonably priced menu. 

The snazzy little enclave also boasts a vast range of entertainment, ranging from well known London cabaret performers to the Stars of the future. 

A real diamond of a place for theatre goers, or for those after a relaxing evening away from the hustle and bustle of central London. 

For more details you can visit the website

Get ready for a Hip Hop weekender at the BFI Southbank

As part of its BLACK STAR season, the UK’s largest ever celebration of black actors in film and television, the BFI is bringing audiences back to the thrilling days when Hip Hop stars first made bold, successful moves into acting.  Presented by Sonic Cinema and in association with MOBO Film, the Hip Hop weekender will take place from 4 -6 November at the BFI Southbank in London and feature film screenings, DJ sets and a family funday.

Screenings include 90s film classics, from the theatrical re-release of John Singleton’s ground-breaking and Oscar®-nominated Boyz n the Hood (1991), starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, to Set It Off (dir. F. Gary Gray, 1996), starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise; Friday (F. Gary Gray, 1995), starring Ice Cube, Nia Long, Chris Tucker and Bernie Mac; New Jack City (dir. Mario Van Peebles, 1991), starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T and Chris Rock; Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1999), starring Forest Whitaker; House Party (dir. Reginald Hudin, 1990), starring Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Martin Lawrence; Juice (dir. Ernest R. Dickerson, 1992) and  Gridock’d (dir. Vondie Curtis-Hall, 1997), both starring Tupac Shakur.

A Hip Hop weekend would not be complete without live music from a few of London’s top DJs: The Doctor’s Orders, Time Out’s ‘kings of the capital’s Hip Hop scene’, join BFI Southbank to present a club night for adults on Friday, 4 November and a special morning club event called FUN DMC, for kids and parents on Sunday, 6 November. WORK IT, on the scene since 2008, will bring their 90s hip hop and RnB tracks to the BFI Southbank following the screenings on Saturday, 5 November.

BLACK STAR Family Funday , which will take place at the BFI Southbank on Sunday, 6 November will include a screening of Joe Pytka’s Space Jam (1996), starring Michael Jordan, Bill Murray and Danny DeVito; and a Daytime Block Party with music from The Doctor’s Orders, dancing and a chance for kids to master their basketballs skills with players from the London School of Basketball.

The BFI’s BLACK STAR season, which will run until the end of the year, is the UK’s biggest season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. The season’s aim is to bring the work of black actors to a new generation of UK audiences, helping to reposition them and their performances in our collective memory.

BLACK STAR will be available to audiences everywhere in the UK; in cinemas including BFI Southbank, on BBC Television, on BFI DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player from 17 October – 31 December.

The full BLACK STAR Hip Hop Weekender programme can be found here:


Richard Campbell takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Richard Campbell is a regular on our screens and recently starred alongside Sean Bean in the hit ITV2 drama The Frankenstein Chronicles. His numerous London stage credits have seen him gain huge acclaim, with his list of awards and nominations including being shortlisted for Whatsonstage Best Actor in a Play For 93.2FM (Royal Court), and for Whatsonstage Best Supporting Actor in a Play for To Kill A Mockingbird (Regents Park Open Air Theatre). Richard won the Screen Nation Best Emerging Talent award for The Bill (ITV) and has just finished a run of THEY DRINK IT IN THE CONGO directed by Michael Longhurst for the Almeida.

Richard took on the challenge of our Sugar Rush Quiz.

  1. What are you currently working on?

Promoting a one off drama I’m in on BBC 2 called NW based on the Zadie Smith Novel

  1. What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

Being able to be diverse

  1. What is your favourite Book?

I’m reading “Between the world and me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, it’s becoming my favourite book

  1. What are you currently watching on TV?

I don’t really have time to watch TV anymore, which is terrible. Last thing I was seriously involved in was The Affair and Power. I’m a season behind on power so need to catch up, but I love that show

  1. Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?

I would have to say the theatre. I’ve just finished a run in the theatre doing a play called “They Drink It In The Congo” at the Almedia Theatre in Islington. It restored my faith in good theatre. Its where I started acting, and there’s so much good theatre around at the moment.

  1. What’s your favourite sweet?

Ha ha, that’s a tough one. I go through stages, so right now its Rowntrees Randoms, but I was hooked on Haribo Tangtastics, the sour ones for a while.

  1. What did you want to be when you were a child?

I never really had a burning desire to be anything. I’ve always just gravitated to the things I like or been good at. So there was a period in my life where I was doing athletics for my county so naturally I thought I would go in that direction. Then I broke my leg doing triple jump and acting came to the forefront and here I am

  1. What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child?

I was discussing this with my family the other day. I ran away from home at the age of two!! Seriously don’t ask me how. I grew up in flats in North London and apparently the front door was open, I climbed down a flight of stairs and went across the street to the other block of flats where my aunt lived. Pointed to their number and waited for someone to press their bell. My mum had no idea until she got a call from my uncle saying I was with them.

  1. What is your proudest achievement to date?

My daughter

  1. What’s next?

Filming a new drama for ITV1 called Liar and heading back to season 2 of The Frankenstein Chronicles. I have a script, which has been in development for four years now, so really pushing to get that off the ground this year as well.

Simon callow to star in A Christmas Carol at the Arts Theatre

The hugely popular re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ festive staple A Christmas Carol, starring Simon Callow and directed by Tom Cairns, will return to the Arts Theatre in London for a strictly limited season.

Based on Dickens’ own performance of the novel, Simon Callow and director-designer Tom Cairns have created a critically acclaimed, one-man storytelling that is both heart-warming and deeply moving. With sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012, A Christmas Carol, with Simon Callow , has become a well-loved adaptation for the Christmas season.

As the ghosts spirit Scrooge from the present to his past and future, Dickens takes us on a magical journey from the miser’s dank and creaking house to cosy hearths, and from snowy graveyards to joyful festivities. This treasured story offers a celebration of goodness, a plea for justice and the promise of redemption.

One of the nation’s best loved stage and screen actors, Simon Callow steps back into Charles Dickens’ shoes following previous performances as the author in the stage productions The Mystery of Charles Dickens at the Playhouse Theatre, Dr Marigold & Mr Chops at Riverside Studios, the film Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale, on television in the BBC’s An Audience with Charles Dickens, and Doctor Who in 2005 and 2011. Callow has even written two books about the author, Dickens’ Christmas in 2003 and Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World in 2012 .

The enduring popularity of A Christmas Carol, both as a novel and on stage, is testament to a story that transcends centuries, and has never been out of print. Within two months of its original publication in 1843, eight stage productions were known to have been mounted, and Dickens himself chose the story to perform not only at his first public reading in 1853, but also at his farewell performance in 1869.

A Christmas Carol is produced by Assembly Festival and Riverside Studios, directed and designed by Tom Cairns, with sound design by Ben and Max Ringham.

Simon Callow went to work in the Box Office of Sir Laurence Olivier’s Old Vic Theatre in 1967, subsequently training at the Drama Centre until 1973, when he left for his fisrt job as the front end of a horse in Büchner’s Woyzeck at the Edinburgh Festival. He then played in repertory at Lincoln, and with the Young Lyceum and Traverse Theatre Companies in Edinburgh. His first West End appearance was in 1975 opposite Harry Secombe in The Plumber’s Progress; later that year, he worked for Gay Sweatshop. He then joined Joint Stock Theatre Company for two years, played Titus Andronicus at the Bristol Old Vic, Arturo Ui at the Half Moon Theatre and Eddie in Mary Barnes at the Royal Court, before joining the National Theatre to create the part of Mozart in Amadeus and perform all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. He has since worked at the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre, the Bush Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and in many West End theatres.

Callow has toured extensively, an activity about which he is passionate. In 1988, he played Faust in both parts of Goethe’s play at the Lyric Hammersmith; in 1997, he acted in The Importance of Being Oscar, following this in 2000 with The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which he played for four years in Britain, Ireland, America (New York and Chicago) and Australia (Sydney and Melbourne); in 2005 he acted in The Holy Terror by Simon Gray. Callow has appeared in The Woman in White and, for the RSC, Merry Wives: the Musical. In 2008, he played Captain Hook in Peter Pan in which he made his entrance singing Michael Jackson’s Bad.

In 2009, he played Pozzo in Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen, Ronald Pickup and Patrick Stewart at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. In Christmas 2009, he played two unknown one-man plays by Charles Dickens, Mr Chops and Dr Marigold at the Riverside Studios, and in 2010 played his one-man show about Shakespeare, The Man from Stratford across the British Isles and in Trieste; in 2011 and in 2012 he did highly successful seasons of Being Shakespeare, a revised version of The Man from Stratford, in the West End.

Callow gave the English language première of Emmanuel Darley’s Tuesday at Tesco’s, at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011, which won a Fringe First Award and the Glasgow Herald’s Archangel. At Christmas in 2011 and 2012, he gave an acclaimed performance in his one-man version of A Christmas Carol. In 2013 he performed in the world premiere of Matthew Hurt’s play The Man Jesus at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, and performed his own one-man play Inside Wagner’s Head in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, after which he acted with Felicity Kendal in a tour of Chin-Chin. Last year he appeared in Tuesday at Tesco’s off-Broadway.

His films include Amadeus, A Room with A View, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Thunderpants and The Phantom of the Opera. His latest films, soon to be released, are Hampstead, The Vieroy’s House, and Victoria and Abdul. He has directed over thirty plays, musicals and operas, including the original West End production of Shirley Valentine, the première of Single Spies at the National Theatre, Les Enfants du Paradis at the RSC, Carmen Jones at the Old Vic, Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera, Jus’ Like That at the Garrick and, most recently, The Magic Flute at Holland Park Opera, with designs by Tom Phillips. He directed the film of The Ballad of the Sad Café, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine and Rod Steiger, in 1990.

He has also written thirteen books, including Being an Actor, Shooting the Actor, and Love is Where it Falls, as well as biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and the first three volumes of a life of Orson Welles, with Dickens’s Christmas recently having been reissued. His most recent books are: My Life in Pieces, which won the Sheridan Morley Theatre Biography Award; Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World; and Being Wagner, which will appear in Jan 2017.

Callow was appointed C.B.E in 1999 and is an honorary doctor of Queen’s University Belfast, Birmingham University, the Open University, and Kingston University, as well a Fellow of the University of the Arts London. In 2014 he was made a Freeman of the City of London.

A Christmas Carol will run at the Arts Theatre from 8 December to 7 January. If you would like any further details, you can visit the website

Laura Pitt-Pulford to star as Nell Gwynn at Shakespeare’s Globe

Laura Pitt-Pulford will star as Nell Gwynn when the English Touring Theatre’s production of Jessica Swale’s Olivier Award-winning comedy returns to Shakespeare’s Globe for a two week run.

1660 Drury Lane. Charles II has cast off London’s drab, puritanical past with a love of all things loud and sexy. A young Nell Gwynn is selling oranges for sixpence in the burgeoning West End theatre scene unaware of who is in the audience one fateful night.

Jessica Swale’s warm-hearted, bawdy bio-drama ( winner of 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy) tells the story of an unlikely heroine, who went from lowly orange seller to win the adoration of the public and the heart of the King.

Jessica Swale is an award-winning playwright and the Artistic Director of Red Handed Theatre Company. Her first play, Blue Stockings was performed at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2012 and is a Drama GCSE set text. Other writing includes, All’s Will that Ends Will, Thomas Tallis, The Playhouse Apprentice, adaptations of Sense and Sensibility, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Secret Garden, Stig of the Dump and a new play, The Mission, about illegal adoptions in the 1920s. In 2012 she won a BAFTA JJ Screenwriting Bursary and is current commissions include the screenplay of Nell Gwynn for Working Title, the Horrible Histories Movie and Love [Sic], a new play for BBC Radio 4. As director, Swale set up Red Handed Theatre Company in 2006, where her work includes The Belle’s Stratagem, The Busy Body, The Rivals, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Southwark Playhouse), The School for Scandal (Park Theatre) and Palace of the End (Arcola).

Laura Pitt-Pulford plays Nell Gwynn. Her theatre credits include Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible), Oliver!, The Sound of Music, Piaf, Hello Dolly! (Curve), The Smallest Show on Earth (UK tour), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Return of the Soldier (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Light Princess (National Theatre), A Man of No Importance (Salisbury Playhouse), Mack and Mabel and Parade (Southwark Playhouse), title role in Sweet Charity (Belfast MAC), The Little Prince (Lyric Belfast), Guys and Dolls (UK tour) and Copacabana (Watermill Theatre, Newbury).

Nell Gwynn will run at Shakespeare’s Globe from 2 – 13 May 2017. For more information, you can visit the website

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible starring Coronation Street’s Charlie Condou is set to thrill at the Richmond theatre

Arthur Miller’s classic American drama, The Crucible, is coming to the Richmond theatre in a new production by Sell A Door Theatre Company and The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch in association with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg.


Starring Charlie Condou [Coronation Street], as the witch-hunter, Reverend Hale, this new production of an American classic is directed by Douglas Rintoul, Artistic Director of the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, and takes a Brechtian look at this violent story of frail reason in the face of hysteria. Following Rintoul’s recent hits at The Queen’s, Made in Dagenham and Much Ado About Nothing, this atmospheric staging of The Crucible promises the same level of quality and acclaim.

One of the twentieth century’s landmark plays, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible stands as both a historical record and a political parable for our times. The unrelenting witchhunt and violence, an allegory of the brutal McCarthyism of American politics in the 1950’s, resonates with an unnerv- ing clarity now in a post-Brexit UK where violent mob mentality and race-driven hate crimes are on the rise.

David Hutchinson, Artistic Director of Sell a Door Theatre Company said today: “The Crucible was the first production I ever witnessed on stage; and resonates today as it did when it first met an audience as a fundamentally important piece of American theatre that calls into question our highest beliefs and morals. After our summer and autumn season of high flying musicals, it’s a chilling, powerful play that is punching off our 2017 season of work”

The Crucible will run at the Richmond Theatre from 11th-15th April 2017. If you would like any further details, you can visit the website

A great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle at any time of the day: McGettigan’s, Fulham

The acclaimed Irish restaurant and pub chain, McGettigan’s opened its first establishment in the UK earlier this year on the bustling thoroughfare of Fulham Broadway.

After undergoing a major refurbishment, the contemporary, yet comfortable saloon has all of the charm of your local public house, but with a plush interior design and excellent menu on offer to accompany your visit.
Whether you are after a night out to watch the football on one of the big screens, or an intimate dining experience within the opulent surroundings, you will find cuisine to suit all occasions.

I popped in on a surprisingly busy Wednesday night to sample the fulsome menu for myself. I allowed the staff to choose my supper and after a lot of contemplation, they decided I should try two of the smaller dishes.

First I munched on the McGettigan’s signature chicken wings, which are wonderfully aromatic, spicy and mouth watering, served with a cooling and creamy blue cheese sauce (£7). They come with carrots and celery sticks and with over ten wings in a single portion, is a substantial dish for the price.

I was then served another meaty delicacy in the shape of some pork belly popcorn (£6.50); bite sized pieces of pork beautifully cooked to provide a sweet treat. After devouring the chicken wings, the full serving of pork proved too much for me, but it would be wonderful to share both dishes as a social nibble with a couple of pints.
I washed them down with a couple of glasses of crisp and refreshing South African Sauvignon Blanc and had a taster of the Sticky Toffee pudding (warming and satisfying), just so I could make sure I had filled my ever expanding stomach.

The lively venue has really become part of the local community and sponsors the Hammersmith & Fulham rugby team. It also offers live music three nights a week and has just introduced a brand new and very affordable lunch time menu, so it’s a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle at any time of the day.

If you would like any further details, you can visit the website