Graham Norton will return to host this year’s West End Bares

The Make A Difference Trust is delighted to announce that following two triumphant years, Graham Norton will return as host of this year’s WEST END BARES: RUBY STRIPPERS at the Novello Theatre on Sunday 29 October at 7.00pm and 9.30pm.

The Make A Difference Trust is also thrilled to announce the first of Graham’s star co-hosts;  Adam Garcia (The Exorcist, Murder on the Orient Express [2017], Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Tap Dogs, Saturday Night Fever, Coyote Ugly); Summer Strallen (Young Frankenstein, Love Never Dies, The Sound of Music, Hollyoaks); Dianne Pilkington (Young Frankenstein, Mamma Mia!, Wicked, Taboo); Tom Allen (Live At The Apollo, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Just A Minute); Celinde Schoenmaker (The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables) and Oliver Savile (Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!). More celebrity guest hosts and West End stars to be announced soon.

They will join the previously announced Olivier Award winning Rebecca Trehearn (Showboat, City of Angels, Ghost), who will open the show with a performance of an exclusive track especially written for the occasion by Mark Anderson (The Book Of Mormon, Legally Blonde) and Luke di Somma (That Bloody Woman [composer], 21 Chump Street).

Join the much-loved characters of Oz for an extraordinary night at WEST END BARES: RUBY STRIPPERS, which will see over 100 of the hottest performers from the West End stage take to the stage to combine the naughtiness of burlesque with the magic of the West End. All of the money raised will go to The Make A Difference Trust to fund HIV and AIDS projects that raise awareness, educate and provide care and support in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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The Make A Difference Trust is a UK based charity with a vision of a world free from HIV and AIDS. Building on the legacy of 25 years of fundraising by the Theatre industry, they continue to make the vision a reality having distributed over £1.6million in grants to support individuals experiencing hardship across the UK as well as over £1million to support projects with their UK and international partners. For further information about the Make A Difference Trust please visit  www.madtrust.org.uk

Tickets for WEST END BARES are now on sale and are priced at £15 – £100.

Tickets are available from www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk or the DMT WEST END BARES booking line 0844 482 5172 and in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office. Booking fees apply and calls to Delfont Mackintosh Theatres 0844 numbers cost 7 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

WEST END BARES are proud to be partnering with 100 Wardour St for this year’s exclusive After Party where you can continue to celebrate with the cast of the show. Tickets cost £10 and are only available when you buy a ticket for the 7pm or 9.30pm show.  Once again, there is limited availability for the After Party and when the tickets are gone, they’re gone – so don’t miss out! 100 Wardour St is split between a laid-back Bar & Lounge and chic Restaurant & Club, offering great food from midday right through until 2am with classic and contemporary cocktails. As befits the venues history as the site of London’s iconic Marquee Club where artists like David Bowie and The Rolling Stones performed, there are DJ’s and live music five nights a week.

Please note: All artists appear subject to availability.

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J. J. Abrams to join Michael Giacchino at 50th birthday party at the Royal Albert Hall

Star Trek, Lost and Star Wars: Episode VII director J. J. Abrams will join his friend and collaborator, movie music titan Michael Giacchino, at the composer’s 50th birthday party at the Royal Albert Hall next month.

Abrams and War for the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves have been added to the stellar line-up of Giacchino’s first ever major career retrospective on Friday 20 October, which will showcase his scores from the likes of Rogue One, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Super 8, Jurassic World, The Incredibles, and Up – for which he won an Oscar, BAFTA, Grammy and Golden Globe.

Michael Giacchino said: “I am honoured that these incredible filmmakers are taking the time out of their schedules to join me on that stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

“I am fortunate to call them friends, and thrilled that they will be there to celebrate with me. In many ways, this is their show as well, because it was their vision and storytelling that inspired the music we’ll be performing with the Cinematic Sinfonia that evening.”

Abrams and Reeves complete a virtual ‘who’s who’ of hot Hollywood filmmaking talent appearing on-stage at Michael Giacchino at 50, alongside Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Gareth Edwards, Andrew Stanton, Colin Trevorrow and Carlton Cuse. They’ll be on hand to introduce musical suites from their films – and to share the stories behind them.

The concert will be hosted by self-described “maker of things” Adam Savage, (from US TV sensation Mythbusters), who said: “As a movie geek, it’s insane to think that Michael has penned music for many of my all-time favorite movies – hell, I think I have a costume or prop from nearly every one of his scored films! Being his friend is the icing on the cake. Emceeing his birthday at the Royal Albert Hall?! I have to pinch myself. It’s going to be a stellar evening and I can’t wait.”

Also announced today are Bond, the best-selling string quartet, who will play a new arrangement of ‘Married Life’ with orchestra, from Giacchino’s Oscar-winning score to Up.

Giacchino himself will share conducting duties with maestro Ludwig Wicki, a familiar face to fans of the Hall’s acclaimed ‘Films in Concert’ series, and the program will span Giacchino’s musical work from across the last 20 years, as well as giving the audience a personal glimpse of the composer through stories and home movies from his childhood.

Abrams and Giacchino have worked together since the hit TV series, Alias, and on feature films including Star Trek, Mission: Impossible 3, and Super 8. Reeves and Giacchino have collaborated four times, their most recent project being this summer’s critically-acclaimed War for the Planet of the Apes.

A portion of the proceeds from this concert will go directly to the Royal Albert Hall’s Education & Outreach projects to spread the positive powers of music to new audiences and communities.

Michael Giacchino at 50 is part of the Hall’s Festival of Film, which runs from 7 October to 3 November, and features 25 events across seven spaces, headlined by Film in Concert presentations of Jaws, Fantasia and The Addams Family, alongside a celebration of the legendary James Horner (TitanicAliensAvatar) and a world premiere career retrospective of James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games, The Dark KnightFantastic Beasts).

Friday 20 October, 7:30pm www.royalalberthall.com

Patti LuPone and Rosalie Craig to star in new London production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company

Broadway star Patti LuPone will join Rosalie Craig in a new London production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Tony award-winning musical, Company.

The production will be directed by Marianne Elliott and for the first time ever, the lead role of Bobby will be re-imagined as a woman.  Company will run at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue from 26 September 2018 for a strictly limited season.

Rosalie Craig will play Bobbi and Tony and Olivier award-winning Patti LuPone will play Joanne.

At Bobbi’s 35th birthday party all her friends are wondering why she isn’t married; why she can’t find the right man and why she hasn’t settled down to have a family.  The multi-award winning musical comedy about life, love and marriage includes Stephen Sondheim’s iconic songs, The Ladies who Lunch, Being Alive and Side by Side.

Marianne Elliott said:  “I feel so lucky to be directing this wonderful musical.  I’ve loved it for years.  I really want to make this production contemporary, to explore what it feels like to be a 35-year-old sexually confident woman managing friendships and searching for love.  Stephen Sondheim and I have talked a great deal about how this new interpretation might best be executed and I can’t wait to share it with audiences.  I also get to work with the beautiful and talented Rosalie Craig, as well as a hero of mine, Patti LuPone.”

Patti LuPone added: “I saw War Horse in New York and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in London.  I came out of both productions blown away by Ms Elliott’s vision. So naturally I am thrilled beyond words that she wants me to be a part of Company. I’m a lucky girl. Marianne, Steve, London. I thought I’d sworn off musicals, but working with Marianne was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.”

Rosalie Craig’s extensive theatre credits include:  Marianne Elliott’s production of The Light Princess, for which she won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress in a Musical and was nominated for an Olivier Award, Rosalind in As You Like It, The Threepenny Opera and London Road – all for the National Theatre.  Other theatre includes: City of Angels for the Donmar, Lady Macduff in Macbeth for Manchester International Festival, directed by Kenneth Branagh, Sylvia in the musical Finding Neverland and the title role in Miss Julie at Chichester Festival Theatre.  Her film and TV credits include: London Road, Spooks, and Casanova.

Patti LuPone returns to London to make her first appearance in a West End musical for over 25 years.  Patti is currently starring on Broadway in War Paint.  Her  previous London theatre credits include originating the role of Fantine in Les Misérables for the RSC and Cameron Mackintosh, an Olivier-award winning role in The Cradle will Rock and creating the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.  Her numerous Broadway credits include: originating the role of Eva Peron in Evita, Gypsy, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Sweeney Todd, Anything Goes, Noises Off, The Old Neighborhood and Master Class.  Her many screen credits include:  Cliffs of Freedom, The Comedian, Union Square, Parker, City by the Sea, Heist, State and Main; Just Looking, Summer of Sam, The 24 Hour Woman, Family Prayers, Driving Miss Daisy and Witness.  Her television work includes:  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Penny Dreadful, Girls, American Horror Story: Coven, Glee, 30 Rock, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Grammy Award), Ugly Betty, Will & Grace (as herself), Frasier (1998 Emmy nomination) and Law & Order.  LuPone, who is a graduate of the first class of the Drama Division of New York’s Juilliard School and a founding member of John Houseman’s The Acting Company, is the author of the The New York Times bestseller Patti LuPone: A Memoir.

Company will run at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue from 26 September 2018 for a limited season www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk

Casting announced for Terry Johnson’s Insignificance at the Arcola Theatre

The cast have now been announced for the first London revival in over 20 years of Insignificance by two-time Olivier Award winner Terry Johnson. Alice Bailey Johnson (The Libertine, Royal Haymarket; Oh What A Lovely War, UK Tour; Desdemona, Park Theatre), Simon Rouse (Tribes, Crucible Theatre; The Dresser, Duke of York’s Theatre; Hangmen, Wyndham’s Theatre), Tom Mannion (Hamlet Who’s There, Trafalgar Studios; The Autumn Garden, Jermyn Street Theatre; The Patriotic Traitor, Park Theatre) and Oliver Hembrough (Echo’s End, Salisbury Playhouse; Wasted, West Yorkshire Playhouse; A Further Education, Hampstead Theatre) will bring this hilarious and bittersweet comedy to life on stage at the Arcola Theatre.

Insignificance centres on an imagined meeting between Albert Einstein, who is deliberating whether to testify to McCarthy’s House Committee, and Marilyn Monroe, who is being pursued by her jealous husband Joe DiMaggio. Over one night in a hotel room, the characters grapple playfully with the difficulties of knowing the world, each other and themselves.

Director David Mercateli comments, When Insignificance premiered, America had a celebrity president in Ronald Reagan. Now it has a celebrity president once again. It’s a fascinating time to revive this play about four individuals who are also towering icons, at the top of their games. What’s the reality of that for them? And what happens when the fantasies we project on to people become part our reality, part of the world we live in?

Insignificance premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 1982, and was voted one of the top hundred plays in the NT2000 Platform series. It won Terry Johnson the Plays & Players Award for Best Play, and the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.

‘Work in Progress’ production of Alain Boublil’s Manhattan Parisienne to be staged at The Other Palace

Robert Mackintosh in association with The Other Palace will present ‘Work in Progress’ production of Alain Boublil’s Manhattan Parisienne.

Alain Boublil said today “Robert Mackintosh invited me to visit the theatre one day last year. I was amazed to discover how perfect a setting The Studio was for Manhattan Parisienne. Exactly what I’d dreamed of. I mentioned to Robert how much I’d love to do the show there and gave him a copy of the play. He also gave a copy to Paul Taylor Mills, who liked it too. I am beyond thrilled that things have come together now so that Robert and The Other Palace, along with myself, can present a new development of the show”.

Manhattan Parisienne is a New York story of differences and attraction, of two struggling artists and an unlikely meeting of minds.  She is a French actress/singer.  He is a Manhattan musician who has a history with Paris.  Connected by music, they embark on a surreal journey through New York. Manhattan Parisienne  features excerpts of songs from the classic French and American songbooks by songwriters including Jacques Brel, George and Ira Gershwin, Michel Legrand, Cole Porter and Charles Aznavour.  The play, by Alain Boublil, made its debut at 59E59 theaters in New York. Marie Zamora, who played Eve, is to reprise the role here.

Manhattan Parisienne will have public sharings in The Studio at The Other Palace between Tuesday 10 and Saturday 21 October 2017. 

Full casting announced for Fat Friends the Musical

The first image of the Fat Friends the Musical family has been released, as full casting for Kay Mellor’s new musical is unveiled. Fat Friends the Musical will premiere at Leeds Grand this November with an extensive UK tour to follow in 2018. Joining the previously announced cast, Natasha Hamilton (Atomic Kitten) will take on the role of Julia, Kevin Kennedy(Coronation Street) stars as Fergus and Rachael Wooding (We Will Rock You) appears as Joanne, alongside Jonathan Halliwell (Let It Shine) as Paul and Chloe Hart (Hairspray) as Val. Alan will be played by Neil Hurst, one of dozens of Yorkshiremen who applied for the role through an open audition call.

Also newly announced, What’s On Stage Award nominee Joel Montague, who recently starred alongside Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, will share the role of Kevin with Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. Freddie will appear in Leeds, Southampton, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Blackpool with Joel completing the remaining tour dates.

Futher cast includes: Craig Armstrong, Lizzie Bea, Paul Brangan, Emma Crossley, Ellie Leah, Laura Manselland Ryan Pidgen. As previously announced, the cast is completed by Jodie Prenger and Natalie Anderson with Sam Bailey and Elaine C. Smith sharing the role of Betty.

Natasha Hamilton is best known for being one third of one of the UK’s most internationally successful girl groups of the last decade, Atomic Kitten. On stage she has starred as Mrs Johnston in Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre) and Rent (Touring).

Kevin Kennedy is most recognised for his 20-year portrayal of Norman ‘Curly’ Watts in ITV’s flagship soap Coronation Street (1983-2003). His theatre credits include Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (international tour), Hamlet (Sheffield Crucible) and Ducking Out (Duke of York’s).

Rachael Wooding’s leading stage credits include We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Jersey Boys (Prince Edward Theatre), Hairpsray (Shaftsbury Theatre) Evita (UK Tour) and most recently she starred in the UK Tour of Wonderland and Street of Dreams. Television and film credits include Coronation Street (ITV), Doctors (BBC).

Joel Montague is currently appearing in School of Rock at the New London Theatre. He has an extensive stage career including Funny Girl (Savoy Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory) for which he was nominated for the What’s On Stage Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, The Producers (UK Tour), Urinetown (Apollo Theatre and St James Theatre), Rocky Horror Picture Show (UK Tour), and Tommy in Concert (Prince Edward Theatre).

Jonathan Halliwell was a finalist in the BBC contest, Let It Shine and will appear on screen in Kay Mellor’s upcoming BBC drama Love, Lies and Records. For stage he has appeared in White Christmas (Dominion Theatre).

Chloe Hart has appeared in Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre), A Damsel in Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre), Wicked (Victoria Palace), Les Miserables (Queens Theatre) and led the West End cast of Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre).

Neil Hurst started his career in Musical Theatre in shows such as EvitaJoseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Me and My Girl.  His most recent theatre work includes Gaudete for French theatre company Obra and The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. In television, Neil recently played the role of Gary Plunkett in BBC’s Home from Home. Other credits include The 4 O’Clock Club; The Jacksons; The Syndicate and Fresh Meat. Neil also played Vernon Kay’s comedy sidekick in several series of ITV’s All Star Family Fortunes.

Fat Friends, the award winning TV drama has been adapted for the stage by its creator and one of the UK’s most prolific writers, Kay Mellor, whose extensive television credits include hit series of Band of Gold, The Chase, The Syndicate, In the Club and whose stage credits include A Passionate Woman. 

Produced by Joshua Andrews and Adam Spiegel, with original music and songs composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, Fat Friends – The Musical will open at Leeds Grand Theatre in November ahead of an extensive UK tour, visiting Bromley, Newcastle, Hull, Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Dartford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast, Bradford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.

Fat Friends – the Musical is designed by Bretta Gerecke with choreography by Karen Bruce, musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements from Simon Lee, sound design by two time Olivier Award winning Gareth Owen and lighting design from Tony Award nominated Nick Richings, Fat Friends – The Musical, sees the nation’s favourite group of dieters reunited as this new show bursts on to the stage.

The ‘weight’ is over; Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss, this brand new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends in an original musical bulging with hopes, humour and heart. Join the infamous group of loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at their local branch of Super Slimmer’s by the lovelorn Lauren whilst Kelly fantasises about fitting into the wedding dress of her dreams. Fat Friends offers a generous serving of hilarious fun with a sprinkle of romance on top!

Fat Friends hit television screens in October 2000, following the lives of a group of overweight friends as they struggle with the absurdities of modern dieting. Entertaining millions of viewers for five years on ITV, the show starred Alison Steadman, Gaynor Faye and Lisa Riley and launched the careers of James Corden and Ruth Jones. Written by Kay Mellor, the show was nominated for multiple awards including the BAFTA for Best Drama Series.

www.fatfriendsthemusical.com

Full casting announced for The Exorcist

“I’m telling you that ‘thing’ upstairs isn’t my daughter…”

Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel terrified an entire generation, The Exorcist will be unleashed onto the West End stage for the very first time in a uniquely theatrical experience directed by Sean Mathias and adapted for the stage by John Pielmeier.

Jenny Seagrove will play Chris MacNeil opposite Peter Bowles as Father Lankester Merrin, Adam Garcia as Father Damien Karras, Clare Louise Connolly as Regan, Todd Boyce as Doctor Strong, Mitchell Mullen as Doctor Klein, Elliot Harper as Father Joe and Tristram Wymark as Burke.

Widely considered the scariest movie of all time, the film adaptation of The Exorcist sparked unprecedented worldwide controversy when it was released in cinemas in 1973. Winner of two Academy Awards, William Friedkin’s masterpiece saw audiences petrified to the point of passing out and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time.

“Oh please, Mother, make it stop! It’s hurting.”

When the medical profession fails to provide answers to young Regan’s strange symptoms her desperate mother Chris turns to a local priest for help. But before Father Damien can tackle what’s before him, he must overcome his own shaken beliefs, as this fight is for more than just one girl’s soul…

Peter Bowles, star of stage, film and television, will play Father Lankester Merrin – the Exorcist of the title. Peter’s West End theatre credits include Hay Fever with Judi Dench at Theatre Royal Haymarket, Archie Rice in John Osborne’s The Entertainer (Shaftesbury) and several leading roles in classic plays for Sir Peter Hall. He is probably best remembered for playing the role of Richard DeVere in the hit BBC comedy series To The Manor Born as well as leading roles in The Irish RMThe BounderRumpole of the Bailey and Only When I Laugh. Peter can currently be seen on ITV’s Victoria as the Duke of Wellington.

Jenny Seagrove, one of the UK’s most respected actresses, will be playing the role of Chris, the mother of Regan, who suffers emotional turmoil in the search to find help for her daughter’s ever increasing strange behaviour. Her prolific theatre career has seen her play the lead in almost every West End playhouse, with recent credits including Alan Ayckbourn’s How The Other Half Loves at the Haymarket, Brief EncounterVolcano, Tennessee Williams’ Night Of The Iguana, David Rabe’s Hurlyburly and The Country Girl with Martin Shaw. Jenny recently appeared as Louisa Gould in the film Another Mother’s Son but perhaps is best known to TV viewers as QC Jo Mills in ITV’s BAFTA award winning Judge John Deed.

Adam Garcia plays Father Damien Karras. Adam is a two-time Olivier Award nominee, was last seen in the West End in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s The Winter’s Tale (Garrick) and recently starred in the world premiere of Kevin Elyot’s last play Twilight Song (Park Theatre, London). Musical stage credits include Kiss Me Kate, directed by Trevor Nunn (Chichester/Old Vic); Fiyero in the original London cast of Wicked with Idina Menzel (Apollo Victoria), Chip in On The Town (London Coliseum) and Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (London Palladium). Adam gained international recognition for leading roles in films including Coyote Ugly and Riding in Cars with Boys with Drew Barrymore, and he appears in Kenneth Branagh’s forthcoming film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Director Sean Mathias has worked at the National Theatre and many times in the West End and on Broadway, as well as extensively internationally. In 2009/2010 Sean’s production of Waiting For Godot played two seasons at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and toured the UK and internationally. In 2013 Godot played Broadway along with his production of Pinter’s No Man’s Land, the latter transferring to Wyndham’s Theatre in October 2016 starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and won Best Revival at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards that year.

The Exorcist is designed by Olivier Award-winning Designer Anna Fleischle (Hangmen), Lighting Design by Philip Gladwell (Five Guys Named Moe), Composition and Sound Design by Adam Cork (London Road), Projection Design by Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington(Brief Encounter) and Illusion Design is by Ben Hart (Impossible).

The Exorcist will play a strictly limited run at the Phoenix Theatre from 20 October 2017 to 10 March 2018.

Love Actually Live Concert with full orchestra set to tour the UK

It is one of the world’s best-loved modern Christmas films, having become synonymous with the season for many, and now Love Actually will be screened live across the UK as part of a huge concert tour, featuring a full orchestra performing the enchanting score.

Kicking off the holiday season and getting many into the holiday spirit, the tour will begin at the London Palladium on 11th November, before travelling onto Manchester, Glasgow, and Birmingham, before finishing up in Edinburgh.

Directed by Richard Curtis and originally released in cinemas in 2003, Love Actually tells ten separate yet interweaving stories of love around Christmas time.

The film features an all-star ensemble cast, including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley Rowan Atkinson, Martin Freeman, and many more.

A full, live orchestra will perform Craig Armstrong’s evocative score at these shows, with the film being projected onto a huge screen. Armstrong is one of the UK’s most recognised film composers, with his work being awarded a BAFTA for his Achievement in Film Music.

With the film becoming a Christmas tradition for many, audiences attending the Love Actually Live Concert Tour will be treated to a unique way to watch the film that has gotten so many into the holiday spirit for the last 14 years.

 

1st December – Manchester Bridgewater Hall

2nd December – Bristol Colston Hall

3rd December – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

4th December – Birmingham Symphony Hall

5th December – Edinburgh Usher Hall

10th December – London Theatre Royal Drury Lane – Matinee and Evening Performances

Review: ‘You won’t find a more joyful show in the West End’ ★★★★★ Five Guys Named Moe, Marble Arch Theatre

I’ve got a lot of history with Five Guys Named Moe. I only went to see the original 90s West End production by accident after Piaf starring Elaine Paige was cancelled and I found the Louis Jordan musical at the Lyric Theatre as a last-minute alternative.

And it ignited a love within a musical theatre-loving, trumpet playing teenager, which has endured. The cast recording formed one of the soundtracks of my youth, so when I heard the Clarke Peters’ musical was to be revived once again; I couldn’t wait to be transported back to the magnificent New Orleans nightclub.

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This time a brand new pop-up theatre has been built to house the production, so as soon as you cross the threshold you feel as if you are in another age, with a band playing above the bar on a veranda and an utterly spellbinding atmosphere.

The auditorium itself is much more opulent than the pop-up theatres which were previously used up at Kings Cross too and if you’re very lucky you will be seated in the Bull Ring, with a conveyor belt revolve moving around you throughout the performance.

And what a performance it is, with the classic songs of Louis Jordan – who was known as the King of the Jukebox – expertly played by the onstage band and his clever and funny lyrics given the perfect voice by six wonderful actors at the top of their game.

Five Guys Named Moe follows the story of Nomax (Edward Baruwa), a chap who has broken up with his girlfriend, is down on his luck and has found solace at the bottom of a bottle. A group who emanates from his radio (Ian Carlyle, Idriss Kargbo, Dex Lee, Horace Oliver and Emile Ruddock) sets about changing his ways and saving him from destitution.

Classic like “Choo, Choo, Ch’boogie” and “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” are given modern vigor with Andrew Wright’s choreography and the cast performs its socks off, leaving you with a sense of elation.

With its stomping numbers and hilarious interplay, you won’t find a more joyful show in the West End.

Five Guys Named Moe is running until 17 February 2018 

Review: ‘Ticks along at a reasonable rate’ ★★ Footloose, The Peacock Theatre

There’s been a rise of the use of actor/musicians over the last few years and it’s a trend I’m not a fan of. Despite the fact that I’m in awe of anyone with the ability to can sing, dance, act and play at least one musical instrument to a reasonable standard, when all muddled together on stage, sadly the quality of all of the elements tends to suffer.

That is unfortunately the case in Racky Plews production of Footloose, the musical comedy based on the 1984 film, which after a nationwide tour has taken up residence at the Peacock Theatre for a limited run.

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Footloose follows the story of a teenage boy, who after his father abandons the family is forced to move to a small town in the American bible belt, where dancing has been banned.

Now, let’s not assume the material is of excellent quality and staging it with the actors playing the entire musical score has ruined it. No, Plews and her company are working with a bit of a stinker of a show in any case – with a pretty preposterous story, vacuous characters and really flimsy script – so injecting something different, on paper is a good idea.

But what you get is a bit of a muddle on stage, where dance routines are hampered by the performers continually having to cope with being attached to an electric guitar, while maneuvering around the relatively meager performance space.

It’s also pretty implausible that in a town that has banned dancing, you’d find council members happy to pick up a base guitar or tenor saxophone and don’t even get me started on the out dated and sometimes downright offensive themes hidden within the pretense of a morality tale.

That said, the cast do their best with the material and – thanks to some exuberant performances from the female ensemble – in the most part, particularly in act two, when the well-known tunes come one after another.

There are some decent performances from Joshua Dowen as Ren and Hannah Price as Ariel, while star cast member Gareth Gates shows some comedic prowess as the dungarees clad Willard.

But the continuous impediment of the musical instruments also makes some of the direction very clunky (for example, after Ariel storms off in a temper she then sits down at the piano to accompany her tormentor).

If you’re a fan of the film and the music you will probably be able to look past the problems with the production and just enjoy the ambience, but if you’re a musical theatre fan, this show might not be for you.

Footloose runs at the Peacock Theatre until 30 September