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Review: ‘His succulent vocals tease the melodies and give the illusion that you are hearing a song for the very first time’ ★★★★★ Richard Hadfield, Flora Indica

Richard Hadfield is fast becoming one of the UK’s favourite jazz singers. Since leaving Collabro – the musical theatre boyband, with whom he won Britain’s Got Talent – the young crooner has grown in confidence and really established himself as a solo performer.

And now that he’s really found his niche market, in the run up to Christmas, Hadfield is putting on shows in some of the most well-known music clubs in Britain, including the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool.

As a prelude to this career defining performance, the troubadour was called upon by Made in Chelsea star Julius Cowdrey – with whom Richard is currently co-writing an EP – to play a one-off gig at the Flora Indica restaurant and I went along to enjoy the sultry sounds, while sampling some of the cuisine.

Flora Indica in Kensington is an interesting venue. Opulent and ancient, but with a twist, both with the food it serves and the design within. Having a young star perform some old-time classic jazz standards perfectly compliments this juxtaposition. When coupled with Richard Hadfield’s knack of finding cool jazz rhythms in almost everything, the gathered cool cats of Chelsea were in for a treat.

Accompanied by JJ Stilwell on double bass and Liam Stevens on piano, Hadfield opened proceedings with a nod to his love for musical theatre in the form of a mashed up version of “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Pink Panther”. His succulent vocals tease the melodies and give the illusion that you are hearing a song for the very first time. This beautiful rendition was followed by some real classics, with “Witchcraft”, Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, the Frank Sinatra favourite “Fly me to the Moon” and the glorious “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” all beautifully performed.

But it wasn’t just the oldies, as Richard proved his versatility by wonderfully executing some modern melodies too, including Calvin Harris’s “How Deep is Your Love”, Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbye”, Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” with heavy double base to the melody of “Fever” and mixed up with a bit of “Just the two of us” for good measure.

The set was finished off in style with another Sinatra classic “My Way”, which had the hugely enthusiastic Thursday night crowd on their feet in appreciation.

Richard Hadfield is definitely one to watch and with an EP on the horizon and some impressive gigs just around the corner, the future looks bright for this hugely talented vocalist.

Richard Hadfield will perform at The Cavern Club In Liverpool on 3 December and Pizza Express Live in Holborn on 16 December.

https://www.cavernclub.org/events/event/richard-hadfield/

https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/seasons-greetings-with-richard-hadfield

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Nicky Sweetland joins the team at London Theatre Bookings and The Theatre Café

London Theatre Bookings and The Theatre Café are delighted to announce that Nicky Sweetland has joined the company as a Sales and Marketing Executive.

The multi-award winning ticket agent – which opened The Theatre Café on Shaftesbury Avenue in 2015 – is hoping the appointment will further increase their online presence. By employing Nicky – who has worked as an entertainment journalist over the last three years for The London Weekly News, The South London Press, The Greenwich Weekender, Broadway World, Theatre.London and BBC Radio Kent – the company plans to implement an extensive schedule of live events in the intimate venue, including Q & As, Café takeovers and performances from some of the biggest stars of the West End.

The first live Q & A hosted by Nicky – with Tony Award Winner Kristin Chenoweth last month – gained over 15,000 live views and with the venue building in popularity with both stage stars and fans alike, the programme of special events is likely to gather a large interest.

Nicky Sweetland and Kristin Chenoweth

Nicky Sweetland commented, “I’m hugely excited to be working for London Theatre Bookings and I’m looking forward to putting the Theatre Café well and truly on the map. With our plans for more live Q & As, and events, The Theatre Café is going to become a destination for stagey aficionados from around the world, so keep an eye on our social media platforms and website for more details.”

Chief Operations Officer, Ryan Woods added, “I am so pleased Nicky has joined us to grow our social and web platforms across London Theatre Bookings and The Theatre Café. Nicky shares our passion and vision for The Theatre Café. January marks three full years the café has been open. We’ve achieved so much but there’s more to come; it’s very exciting! ”

 

Review: ‘Christian Slater steals the show’ ★★★ Glengarry Glen Ross, Playhouse Theatre

I’m sure anyone who has experienced a career in sales understands that it’s no bed of roses. David Mamet’s classic play-which was first performed in 1983- highlights the struggle of a sales force, in which there is inevitably an ‘I in team’.

Glengarry Glen Ross highlights the plight of a group of real estate agents desperate to top the sales leaderboard, earn their commission and gain a bonus in an aggressive competition to ensure they close the deal and keep their jobs.

Washed up salesman Levene (Stanley Townsend) tries to convince office manager (Kris Marshall) to throw him some more leads, while Aaronow (Don Warrington) is pressured by oily Moss (the sinister Robert Glenister) to break into the office. But it’s the ruthless Roma (played by Hollywood star Christian Slater) who steals the show in this otherwise rather gentle production. His aggressive, yet charismatic portrayal perfectly pitches the juxtaposition having your colleagues as your competition.

The problem is that under the direction of Sam Yates we never really see the full depth of the characters and get to grips with their motivation. It all feels just a bit too superficial and some of the quicker dialogue sequences seem stunted and overly forced, which results in very little build up of suspense in act one.

Act two remedies that to some extent when we are invited into the office and the exchanges become more like realistic workplace banter, but I was left feeling like I wasn’t entirely sure what the point of it all had been.

Glengarry Glen Ross is running at the Playhouse Theatre until 3 February 2018

FIREWORKS GREET NEW MUSICAL CONCEPT ALBUM

ALL over the country, people will be marking November 5 with fireworks and parties. For some, that might have something to do with Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. For many others, though, they’ll be celebrating the release of the concept album recording of a brand new British musical.

TESS, featuring lead vocals by Siobhan Dillon, Tam Mutu and Simon Bailey, will be officially unveiled to the public on Sunday, November 5.

Written by composer Michael Blore and award-winning playwright Michael Davies, the musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles is going live on the show’s website www.tessthemusical.com as part of a drive to get the musical fully staged. Followers and fans can sign up to join #TeamTess and be given free access to listen to the whole show.

Set in the Wessex so beloved by Hardy, TESS tells the devastating story of Tess Durbeyfield, daughter of a poor villager who fatefully discovers that they may be related to the ancient aristocratic d’Urberville family. As Tess is sent to seek respectability with her new-found relatives, she embarks on an emotional and dramatic journey that leads to love, loss and ultimate tragedy.

With casting by Anne Vosser, the title role on the album is sung by West End and Broadway star Siobhan Dillon, who first rose to fame in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hunt for a Maria in The Sound of Music. She recently played opposite Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard at English National Opera and on Broadway and before that appeared as Ellen in Miss Saigon.

Tam Mutu, who plays the villainous Alec d’Urberville, is another Broadway and West End favourite. He alternated the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies with Ramin Karimloo, starred as Anatoly in Chess and won a clutch of awards as Javert in Les Misérables.

Simon Bailey, who sings the role of Angel Clare, played Bob Gaudio in the West End production of Jersey Boys and is about to embark on the show’s national tour. He’s played Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Enjolras in Les Misérables and Pharaoh in Joseph and is a founder member of Teatro, Theatreland’s first supergroup.

Other cast members include Jacqueline Tate, currently playing Mme Thénardier in Les Misérables, James Dinsmore (Adding Machine, Corbyn The Musical) and Olivier Award-winner Nathan Dowling (Jerry Springer The Opera) alongside a chorus and orchestra of professional singers and musicians.

Lyricist Michael Davies said: “It’s been a wonderfully exciting journey to get to this point, and we couldn’t have wished for a better cast and technical team. We’ve had amazing support and encouragement from the likes of Sir Tim Rice and, as he delicately points out, what we now need is a producer.

“If you see Sir Cameron, do let him know…”

www.tessthemusical.com

Ahead of the opening of Rules For Living at Rose Theatre Kingston, Ed Hughes takes our Sugar Rush

Ed Hughes has a string of stage credits to his name, but is perhaps best known for his television work, which includes appearances in Ripper Street, Drifters, The Honourable Woman and Wallander.

Ed will plays Adam in the English Touring Theatre, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Rose Theatre Kingston’s production of Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living, but took some time off from rehearsals to take our Sugar Rush Quiz. 

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What are you currently working on?

Rules for Living by Sam Holcroft, directed by the amazing Simon Godwin. A very funny play about a family gathering on Christmas Day where it all starts out well and rapidly deteriorates. I play Adam one of the sons. It’s a great part and the response from the audience has been pretty crazy with the amount of laughter. 

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

Perseverance and faith. There have been times when I have been out of work for extended periods and the doubts start to creep in, whether I will ever work again? Should I try something else? Just by keeping going, working on what I can control, and having faith that it will turn around it always has done. For every low moment it always balances itself out. Also being a bit stubborn helps at times! 

What is your favourite Book?

I have a few but 100 years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I had never been to Colombia when I read it in my twenties and I found it magical and intensely moving. I never dreamed that I would see the world he paints. I then met my wife Andrea Pelaez who is a Colombian choreographer and have been many times, the book has always stayed with me. I have now read it in Spanish which took a while but was even more beautiful.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

Billions. I am a box set junky and on tour you have lots of down time in different towns or between shows so have been ploughing through “Billions”. I have always loved watching Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis. I prefer shows that make you think not just entertain and this is a cracker.

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

Having a toddler means I haven’t gone anywhere very much. So right now am craving a night out at the cinema to see Blade Runner with my wife. When the tour of Rules for Living finishes this is the plan (if it’s still showing).

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I have a chocolate addiction going on so really anything I can get my hands on at times. If I had to pin it down then a pack of Giant Chocolate Buttons.

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

A cricketer. I played cricket for England U19 young colts so all my time was spent playing sport all over the place from the age of 14-19. But then I decided to go to Drama School at 18 and got into The Guildhall School of Music and Drama so that put an end to the cricket.

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

I grew up in the country near Ipswich so spent a lot of time with friends on farms we used to drive a Citroen 2CV around at the age of 12 and had air guns which was pretty crazy thinking back but a lot of fun at the time.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

Playing Fred Silvester in the original production of This House at the National Theatre. We opened at the Cottlesloe Theatre (now Dorfman) and it kept growing from there to the Olivier and West End. It was a special play by James Graham and group of people with Jeremy Herrin directing. I felt very proud of the show and all we did.

What’s next?

I direct as well as act, so am directing A Chorus Line at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama for their final year musical in January. We are in the design process at the moment and will start doing auditions soon. I always love to juggle multiple projects at the same time and to get the chance to work on a classic musical is a privilege.

 

Rose Theatre Kingston

7 – 18 November

Box office: 020 8174 0090

www.rosetheatrekingston.org

Review: ‘Frightening, fatalistic and yet alarmingly funny’ ★★★ The Exorcist, Phoenix Theatre

I have to say, most of the time I find everyday life frightening enough, so I’ve never been one to seek out terror. Having said that, I’m a big fan of the classic gothic horror The Woman in Black, which is still playing at the Fortune Theatre after 25 years.

Any hope of the new stage adaption of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist being remotely like the gentle Victorian thriller was dashed early on however and I spent much of the evening watching through my fingers as a disturbing commotion unfolded.

Frightening, fatalistic and yet alarmingly funny, The Exorcist is worth the ticket price for Clare Louise Connolly’s unbelievably apt performance as the possessed 12-year old girl Regan. Perfectly sweet and innocent to begin, before the demon really takes charge, Connolly’s transformation into a cursing sexual Satan is quite remarkable. And when she is miming the dulcet tones of Sir Ian McKellen (pre-recorded as the devil), I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself that Gandalf has changed a bit.

The staging effects (with design by Anna Fleischle, illusion by Ben Hart and lighting by Tim Mitchell) are also pretty impressive – with projections including a wall of rats to make your flesh crawl and a clever use of sectional tabs – although the reliance on blinder lights and loud noise is, at times, a little too much.

Having said that, director Sean Mathias has managed to capture the feel of the 1973 film, with enough fright, tongue-in-cheek humour and downright cheesy dialogue.

But some of the acting feels a bit wooden as a result, with a need for a greater build up of suspense and for the actors to not so obviously be waiting for the stage effects to come along. However, I’m sure that will come as they get into the run.

No, The Exorcist is not a high-class dramatic piece of theatre, but it is, nevertheless a highly entertaining night out.

The Exorcist is running at the Phoenix Theatre until 10 March.

Review: A City break to Oxford

After a summer in London, a break to another UK city might seem like a strange choice for a weekend away. However, so many of us take for granted the rich history of our little island and the wealth of beautiful metropolises, which lie within its shores. I’ve therefore decided to try to experience more of them, while doing a bit more ‘stacationing’ over the next few years and so I began with a trip to Oxford.

Known as the “city of dreaming spires”, Oxford is famous for its architecture, culture and, of course, its education establishments. Just over two hours from Greenwich, the city offers a great place to escape the doldrums of London for a weekend of opulence.

And it really does have a feeling of wealth as soon as you clap your eyes on the majestic buildings, which litter the city centre.

But before you can get to the lavish eateries, and designer retail outlets you have to contend with one of Oxford’s other famous ‘attractions’, the traffic. If you are planning to go for a weekend, I would advise leaving as early as possible; the traffic on Fridays in and around Oxford is monstrous

I arrived at my fairly modest lodgings after a four-hour car journey (I did get a bit lost, which didn’t help) and was heartened that I was to be staying at the Holiday Inn, which additionally boasts a spar. After a tumultuous and busy few weeks at work and a stressful expedition to get there, the facilities immediately helped to loosened me up and gave me a holiday feeling right from the start.

The hotel has simple décor, but is extremely well maintained and offers a sauna, gym, steam room, Jacuzzi, treatment room and a decent sized swimming pool (unlike the tiny ones you often get in hotels). There is also an excellent restaurant on the premises, which provided a fulsome feast for my first night in residence and a huge breakfast to see me off on my city excursion the next day.

It’s also really conveniently located on the edge of the city – near to the airport – and just a stone’s throw from the park and ride, so I was able to board a bus and get into the city within 15 minutes at a cost of just £2.

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And it turned out to be a good time to visit, as fortuitously it was the annual Oxford Open Doors weekend. The festival offered free entry to many of the historic buildings and colleges and so after a fun little jaunt around on a vintage bus, I crossed the thresholds of some of the most famous buildings in the city – many of which had exhibitions and events to entertain me, but which I probably wouldn’t have made the effort to go to if I’d had to pay. I did shell out to ascend Carfax Tower however – as I had heard it was the place to go for the best views over the city and I wasn’t disappointed.

But I wasn’t just there to be educated and I made good use of the myriad of retail establishments; all situated conveniently close together and linked by a matrix of intricate back streets, which housed an abundance of continental bars restaurants and interesting little independent shops. There was even an open-air food market where you could sample cuisine from around the world and all of the big high-street retailers. With a new mall opening in October, the city centre is likely to become even more popular as a shopping destination.

Oxford did also provide me with a home from home feeling, as – a bit like Greenwich – the city contains a good amount of green space and waterside amusement amidst the exquisite historical architecture and urbanisation.

After a few more swims and an enormous final breakfast I embarked on the journey home, which with the quiet Sunday morning roads took just over two hours.

Oxford is easy to get to so you don’t feel like you’ve taken up too much of your weekend on travel time and despite it being an affluent destination; it can be experienced on a fairly humble budget.

Ahead of launching his new EP, John McLarnon takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Glaswegian singer-songwriter John McLarnon launches his much-anticipated debut EP ‘Thirty Two Winters’.

Combining soaring melodies and raw vocals ‘Thirty Two Winters’ acts as an exciting follow-up to John’s debut single ‘Snow Angels’, which reached number 4 on the iTunes chart upon release.

Influenced by fellow celtic songwriters Glen Hansard, Damien Rice & Foy Vance, ‘Thirty Two winters’ weaves thoughtful powerful lyrics with sweeping folk inspired instrumentation to produce an honest and exciting debut.

In addition to his songwriting, John is also an actor most recently appearing as Killick in Season Three of Amazon’s epic drama ‘Outlander’ and in West-End play ‘Apologia’ alongside Tony and Emmy award winner Stockard Channing. He also played guitarist Outspan Foster in Roddy Doyle’s hit show ‘The Commitments’ in London’s West-End.

John will launch his new EP ‘Thirty Two Winters’ at Above The Arts Cabaret Club London on 24th November, but took some time off from preparations to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently coming to the end of working on ‘Apologia’ at the Trafalgar Studios and writing and rehearsing new songs for my EP launch next month. 

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

I think the key thing is being honest with yourself and identifying where your strengths lie and focusing on constantly improving what makes you stand out in such a competitive business.  

What is your favourite Book?

I would say ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland, I read it whilst travelling and it has stuck with me ever since, I also recently really enjoyed Matt Haig’s ‘How To Stop Time’.

What are you currently watching on TV?

‘MindHunter’ on Netflix at the moment, it’s my new addiction, hoping to get it finished in time for season two of ‘Stranger Things’.  

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

I’d say restaurant then the theatre or cinema…….. is that cheating? 

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I have got the sweetest of sweet tooth’s so that is a tough one but if pressed I would have to go for peanut M&Ms.  

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

When I was a kid I only wanted to be a footballer, then as I grew up I decided on an architect then ended up an actor and musician, funny old life.

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

Me and my mates were really into WWE wrestling when we were kids and I can distinctly remember knocking my best mate out with an Argos catalogue, his Mum wasn’t too pleased, however we are still friends today so all was forgiven.  

What is your proudest achievement to date?

 Finishing and releasing music I’ve written.     

What’s next? 

Launching my EP ‘Thirty Two Winters’ at Above The Arts Cabaret Club London on 24th Nov.

Tickets are on sale now and available at:

https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/john-mclarnon-thirty-two-winters-ep-launch/

New musical EUGENIUS! To open at The Other Palace 

After a successful debut concert performance at the London Palladium last year, Warwick Davis and Kevin Wood announce the full-scale production of the British cult musical “EUGENIUS!” at The Other Palace from 22 January until the 3 March 2018.

Written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins, “EUGENIUS!” tells the story of Eugene, a teenage boy whose nightly dreams of a distant world of heroes and villains may just be the ticket to him creating his very own comic book movie in Hollywood. Joined by his best friends ‘Janey’ and ‘Feris’, our comic writing genius must discover the true meaning of growing up, finding the superhero within, saving the world from both earthbound villains and possibly those from distant galaxies, and along the way, falling in love.
EUGENIUS! is produced by legendary “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” actor Warwick Davis and features the voice of Prince Vultan himself, Brian Blessed. Warwick said, “We are thrilled to be bringing an original British musical to The Other Palace. After a tremendous concert performance at the London Palladium last summer we can’t wait to see the fully staged production. Ben and Chris have written this incredible 80’s inspired score and includes the songs ‘Go Eugenius’ and ‘Comic Book Kind of Love’, which recieved popular acclaim last year’.

The book, music and lyrics for ‘EUGENIUS!’ are written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins. Award winning Ian Talbot will direct. Ian was previously the Artistic Director at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre for 20 years, for which he received an OBE. He has directed ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘Lend Me A Tenor’. The creative team is completed by Aaron Renfree who will choreograph, sound design by Gareth Owen, lighting by Andrew Ellis, musical supervision by Stuart Morley and musical direction by Darren Lord. Set and costume design will be by Hannah Wolfe and the show’s design features specially commissioned comic book artwork by Marvel artist, Simon Williams (Transformers, Spider Man, Marvel Heroes, The lncredible Hulk).
  

EUGENIUS! THE MUSICAL will run at The Other Palace from Monday 22 January – Saturday 3 March 2018 

A host of West End stars will gather for Sunday at the Musicals

A whole host of West End stars will gather at St. Paul’s Church (The Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden next month for a very special concert.

Entitled Sunday at the Musicals the show will be hosted by Rosemarie Ford and feature a cast of musical theatre performers together with the renowned musical pair Classical Reflection and seventy members of the London Show Choir.

The company will perform songs from past and present musicals – accompanied by pianist, Matt Pallant –  in what is expected to be a night not to be missed.

The cast will include, Emily Clare, Classical Reflection, Susan Colclough, Amanda Coutts, Lizzie Deane, Aimée Fisher, Michelle Francis, Gabriela Garcia, Jenny Gayner, Pippa Gearing, Catherine Hannay, Aimée Hodnett, Claudia Kariuki, Alex Lodge, Carolyn Maitland, Natalie Moore-Williams, Sarah O’Connor, Louise Olley, Alfie Parker, Laura Pick, Caroline Rodgers, Jordan Shaw, Elena Skye, Pippa Winslow, Alex Young

Sunday at the Musicals will take place at St. Paul’s Church (The Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden, London, on Sunday 26th November 2017. Doors will open at 7.00pm and the concert will begin at 7.30pm.

Tickets for the production, which is in aid of Marie Curie UK, can be purchased online now: www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/383903.