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! ”

 

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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.

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.

Review: ‘Will leave you questioning your own mortality’ ★★★ Duet for One, Richmond Theatre

Society often discusses the meaning of the phrase ‘quality of life’ and more deeply the meaning of life itself, but for most, these are merely superficial hypotheses rather than issues meaningfully thought out.

Tom Kempinski’s two hander Duet for One – which is running at Richmond Theatre this week – seeks to investigate these theorems by giving us insight into what it’s like to have an important part of our lives taken away.

The play is set in a psychiatrist’s study (with all of the obligatory accoutrements, including a lavish chaise lounge, thanks to a majestic design by Lez Brotherston) and depicts a series of appointments with a former virtuoso violinist. Stephanie (Belinda Lang) has been a musician since a young age but after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, her glittering career has come to an abrupt end. The exchanges are disquieting and yet at the same time humorous in what feels like a competent and truthful journey of acceptance.

Lang is excellent as the spoiled performer, who initially tries to hide her grief for the loss of her vocation, while Oliver Cotton as Dr Feldmann spends more time reacting rather than acting until the final instalment, but when he launches into a dialogue about the meaning of life, comes into his own and displays some real sensitivity.

It takes a bit of getting going, with Lang’s character pretty unlikable for the most part but it’s worth the wait; act two is a really interesting character study which will leave you questioning your own mortality.

Duet for One runs at Richmond Theatre until 28 October.

Carolyn Maitland will perform Songs Chosen By You Live at Zedel

West End star Carolyn Maitland will perform an intimate cabaret at the celebrated Live at Zedel, Piccadilly this weekend. The acclaimed performer – who is perhaps best known for portraying Ellen in the West End production of Miss Saigon – has created a unique show, with the set list put together from suggestions on social media.

Maitland – who recently wowed audiences as Sally Bowles in Cabaret – will be joined by some of her London stage colleagues, Marsha Songcome and Kieran Jae.

The show entitled Songs Chosen By You will feature Kris Rawlinson as MD and audiences can expert a variety of jazz, pop and musical twists all under the roof of the stunning art Novo venue.

Carolyn Maitland will perform Songs Chosen by You Live at Zedel on 28 October 9:15pm.

https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/carolyn-maitland-songs-chosen-by-you-oct-2017/106481053