Mischief Theatre will return to the West End with Mischief Movie Night this Christmas

Mischief Theatre, the award-winning company behind The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, today announce their return to the West End with Mischief Movie Night, the improvised movie live on stage, which will play for a strictly limited season at the Arts Theatre from 13 December 2017.

Returning to their comedy roots, Mischief Theatre will bring the audiences’ genre, location and title suggestions to life complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors’ cuts and a live score. The cast includes Josh Elliot as Not Sure, Dave Hearn as Uncertain, Harry Kershaw as No Idea, Henry Lewis as Don’t Know Yet, Ellie Morris as Couldn’t Tell You, Charlie Russell as TBC, Jonathan Sayer as Who Knows and Henry Shields as Guess Who. They will be joined onstage by musicians Chris Ash and Richard Baker.

Mischief Theatre was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and began as an improvised comedy group. Mischief Theatre performs across the UK and internationally with improvised and original scripted work. This Christmas Mischief Theatre will have three shows running in the West End. Their Olivier and Tony award- winning production of The Play That Goes Wrong is currently at the Duchess Theatre and running on Broadway; it will also complete a UK tour from January 2018. Their other production The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is currently at the Criterion Theatre. The company is led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.

http://mischieftheatre.co.uk/shows/mischief-movie-night

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Bring your bagpipes for an evening to celebrate the best of Scotland & Musical Theatre with Shona White & Kieran Brown

A pair of seasoned Scottish West End performers are bringing a touch of Celtic charm to the Arts Theatre just in time for St Andrews Day, in an evening to celebrate the best of Scotland and Musical Theatre.

In a show entitled Scots in the City, Shona White (Wicked, Mamma Mia, Chess) and Kieran Brown (The Phantom of the Opera,Wicked Les Miserables), alongside musical director Niall Bailey will be joined by talented Scottish musicians and some of the best Scots voices in the West End, showcasing the rich Celtic musical history of Scotland in this unique celebration of all things Caledonia! There will be a special Scottish quiz with prizes to be won and ticket holders will be treated to some real tastes of Scotland!

“We are delighted to be sharing this evening of song celebrating our mutual love of Scotland with a London audience. We are both fiercely proud of our deep Scottish roots, and also proud to be Londoners, so this is a unique opportunity to combine both. We are planning a few surprises along the way, and alongside Niall, our musicians and special guests, we hope the audience will leave with smiles on their faces and an understanding of the unique rich musical landscape of our bonnie bonnie homeland!”

So bring your bagpipes, flash your very best tartan and prepare to be swept away by sweeping Scottish melodies – and Andrew Lloyd Webber as you’ve never heard him before!

Scots in the City will be at The Arts Theatre on Thursday 30 November at 8.30pm

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical to get West End transfer

Following a third, critically acclaimed, sell-out tour, All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical, based on the story of the Small Faces, will play a limited West End season at the Arts Theatre, London.

The producers of All Or Nothing  have also announced the release of a 29-track cast recording, as well as a limited edition 15-track blue vinyl LP, available to buy from venues hosting the show on the current tour, as well as from the show website, www.allornothingmusical.com, and, when it is playing there, from the Arts Theatre.

Written and directed by the award-winning actress Carol Harrison, All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical is the story of four charismatic young kids from East London with humour, attitude, passion and, above all, talent.  They became the Small Faces and were rocketed into the big time, only to discover the path to success is paved with exploitation, betrayal and, ultimately, tragedy.

The cast at the Arts Theatre will be led by Carol Harrison as Kay Marriott and Chris Simmons as the older Steve Marriott.  Further casting is to be announced.

In 1965, a new phenomenon erupted out of London’s East End.  It was the essence of all that was cool.  It was Mod.  All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical  follows the rise and demise of the Small Faces, the band who encapsulated all that was Mod – a unique blend of taste and testosterone, clothes-obsessed and street-wise – but most of all, a dedication to rhythm ‘n’ blues.  The musical celebrates the unique sound of this iconic Mod band, with all the Small Faces’ hits, including Whatcha Gonna Do About It, Tin SoldierLazy SundayHere Comes the NiceItchycoo Park and, of course, All or Nothing.

Carol Harrison said of the West End transfer, “I am honoured that All Or Nothing  has been embraced by so many wonderful audiences who have laughed, danced, wept and sang with us across the length and breadth of the country.  I am so thrilled that we can now bring the All Or Nothing  experience to the West End.  Watch out, ‘cos the Mods are coming ……Or maybe we just never went away!”

Carol Harrison is probably best known for her role as Louise Raymond in EastEnders.  Other television roles include seven years as Gloria in Brushstrokes, Loretta opposite Ray Winstone in Get Back, and Dorothy in two series of London’s Burning.  Carol’s theatre work includes Michael Rudman’s production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the National, Ripen Our Darknessat the Royal Court, Alan Parker’s production of Alfie at the Liverpool Playhouse and Lee Hall’s Cooking with Elvis at the Lyceum Theatre, Crewe.  She was also a founder member of Half Moon Theatre in London’s East End.  Her film credits include The Elephant ManQuadrophenia and Human Traffic.

Chris Simmons is probably best known for playing the role of DC Mickey Webb for over twelve years in the long running ITV series The Bill.  He has also appeared in EastEnders as Mark Garland and in the Tracy Beaker spin-off CBBC show, The Dumping Ground.  Chris’s theatre credits include Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends (Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage), Entertaining Strangers (Lyric Hammersmith), Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (tour), Iago in Othello(tour) and Epicoene (Tristan Bates Theatre).

The show is endorsed and supported by many of those who feature in its story, including singer P.P. Arnold and Steve Marriott’s daughter, Mollie Marriott, who is the show’s vocal coach and creative consultant.

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical will run at Arts Theatre from 6 February – 11 March 2018.

West End star, Helena Blackman takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Helena Blackman became a household name after her appearance on the BBC programme, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? The show led to a successful musical theatre career, which has included roles in The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady and most recently Thom Southerland’s celebrated production of Titanic at the Charing Cross Theatre.

Next month Helena will be performing alongside fellow West End star Amanda Coutts in a special new cabaret show. Featuring songs from musicals, together with pop and diva classics, Musicals and Beyond will be staged at Above the Arts, part of the Arts Theatre in London’s West End, on Sunday 6 August 2017 and Sunday 27 August 2017.

Helena took some time off from her preparation for the show to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

Amanda Coutts and I are doing a two-woman cabaret, called Musicals and Beyond, at Above the Arts, part of Arts Theatre West End, which features an array of songs from pop to rock to musical theatre and Disney!

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

I guess a commitment to fulfilling the needs of the people I work with and wanting to be as truthful and committed in my performance as I can. I don’t want to let myself down and am not half-hearted. I’m also a problem solver and if something isn’t easily achieved, I will look at different ways. I try not to be too hard on myself and give myself a good talking too and don’t get wrapped up in the business and to just revolve myself around it. I also try and focus on myself and my health mentally and physically – good things and positive outcomes come out of me being on top of my game!  Lastly, I roll with the punches and except how my ‘castability’ has evolved and try not to control that.

What is your favourite book?

I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It’s on my iphone so I read a little at a time because it’s extremely thought-provoking and I don’t want to miss a beat, so make sure I’m in a focussed place when I read it. Self-help in my game is so important, and I try and remind myself to stay in the present and not the past or the future.

Another book I loved was Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

What are you currently watching on TV?

I’m obsessed with TV drama, more than film or theatre. Particularly crime.  Standing out for me at present is Broken. Sean Bean is now one of my favourite male actors. This is due to his performance as a pain stricken priest.  However, I also love Suits – secretly I want to be a lawyer!

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

A restaurant. I love the intimacy and I can be anonymous and it’s not such busman’s holiday!  I switch off more.

What’s your favourite sweet?

American Twizzlers!

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

A pop singer and an actress…always!

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

Wet myself on purpose! I was a pretty good kid.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Lots of moments! Performing in front of millions of people, getting the job – any job! But mostly what makes me proud is that I still have a positive attitude in regards as to what I do and in life. I don’t blame anyone for my mistakes, I don’t pay attention to societal pressures and I take responsibility for my actions and my learning. Also, fundamentally, I am independent and reasonably objective and apply that to everything.

What’s next?

After Musicals and Beyond, who knows, that’s what’s exciting – anything can happen! I like to keep my options open and create and immerse myself in new experiences.

To book tickets to see Musicals and Beyond, please call the box office on 0207 836 8463. Or to book online, please visit: www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk.

Monster musical to hit the Arts Theatre

Following a sold-out UK premiere at Southwark Playhouse, when it received 6 Off West End Award nominations including Best Musical, acclaimed rock musical ‘The Toxic Avenger The Musical’ is to transfer to the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited 10-week season from Thursday 28 September.

‘The Toxic Avenger’ is the brainchild of the Tony Award-winning creative team behind the smash hit West End musical ‘Memphis’, Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, an original founding member and keyboardist/vocalist for rock giants, Bon Jovi.

Prior to the London season, the production will have a month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – full details to be announced soon.

Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult 1984 comedy schlock-horror Troma film, “The Toxic Avenger”,  ‘The Toxic Avenger The Musical’ tells the story of the citizens of  Tromaville, who are crying out for a hero… Enter nerdy Melvin Ferd the Third, an aspiring earth scientist, determined to clean up the state’s major toxic waste problem. When a corrupt Mayor and her government goons get wind of his plans, they vow to stop this heroic feat. Melvin is attacked and tossed into a vat of toxic waste… transforming him instantly into The Toxic Avenger, New Jersey’s first
superhero!

Toxie is a 7-foot mutant freak with superhuman strength and a supersized heart to match. He’s out to save heavily polluted New Jersey, end global warming, win the heart of the prettiest (blindest) librarian in town and get home in time for dinner!

Prepare to laugh, scream and sing to songs including ‘Who Will Save New Jersey?” “Get the Geek”, “Thank God She’s Blind” “Hot Toxic Love” and “Choose Me, Oprah!” as ‘Toxie’ rocks the house and saves the day!

The Toxic Avenger is running at the Arts Theatre from Thursday 28 September
– Sunday 3 December.

Interview: Olivier Award winner, Jon Brittain tells us about Rotterdam ahead of its West End Transfer

After first being staged at the 60-seat Theatre 503 in Battersea, Jon Brittain’s seminal work entitled Rotterdam has continued to gain enormous critical acclaim, much to its writer’s astonishment and he told us, “What’s happened to the show so far has taken me by surprise.”

The play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios and gained the playwright an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. It also featured last month in New York at the Brits Off Broadway festival and will open at the Arts Theatre in June for a strictly limited West End run.

Jon Brittain at the Olivier Awards, where he won the gong for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

With a central plot, which tackles the issues of coming out and of transitioning, as well as the general complexities of human relationships, Rotterdam has struck a chord with London theatregoers. Jon explains, “It’s kind of a romcom in a way.”

The honest and yet comedic portrayal finds Alice, who is about to proclaim her sexuality to her parents just as her girlfriend Fiona, decides to express her desire to live as a man called Adrian.

“It’s about how Alice’s sense of her sexual identity is thrown into question by Adrian asserting his sense of his gender identity and how their relationship changes.”

It’s a real departure for Jon, who is best known for collaborating with Matt Tedford on the hit satirical comedy Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.

The Rotterdam project was something he never believed would come to fruition, but a story he was nevertheless passionate about telling.

“When I was 18/19 a couple of my friends transitioned.” Jon explains, “There were just no trans narratives in film, TV and theatre and I just thought they should have their experiences reflected on stage as well.”

Since writing the play, the climate in theatre has changed, but there are still few works, which depict the struggle trans people go through in a comedic manner and Jon said of Rotterdam, “It tells an important story and I think everyone can get something out of it.”

The celebrated comedy writer hasn’t left his political satire behind however and his new show Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows premiered at Underbelly Festival earlier this month and will continue to entertain audiences on the South Bank over the summer season.

Rotterdam is playing at the Arts Theatre from Wednesday 21st June until Saturday 15th July 2017. 

Catch Margaret Thatcher Queen of Games Shows at the Underbelly Festival Southbank from 28 June – 2 July. 

 

Review: “An interesting and inspirational piece of theatre, which you’d be a fool to miss” ★★★★★ Judy!, The Arts Theatre

Following a highly acclaimed run at Southwark Playhouse Ray Rackham’s biopic musical play about the Hollywood icon Judy Garland is back and has lost none of its charm, writes Nicky Sweetland.

The name of the show has changed from Through the Mill to simply Judy! and at the Arts Theatre, the performers are faced with a traditional pros arch stage rather than the thrust, which gave a real closeness with the audience when the show was at Southwark last summer.

Helen Sheals, Lucy Penrose and Belinda Wollaston in Judy! at the Arts Theatre. Photo by Lara Genovese

Somehow they have managed to keep an intimate feel to the production however, with everyone’s favourite ‘girl next door’ portrayed with such an astonishing depth, that you can’t help but be drawn in.

Rackham has an astute talent for layering stories, with his previous stage success Apartment 40C interlocking tales across decades. The interwoven plots within Judy! see three eras of the performer’s life and career, expertly portrayed by a trio of ultra talented actresses, who illustrate the star’s many struggles behind her successes.

West End debutante Lucy Penrose plays Garland at the time when she was given her break in showbiz at the tender age of 12, before shooting to stardom when cast as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Penrose has developed into a formidable force since first being cast in the show and her every movement and facial expression are perfectly pitched to exude the essence of the young star without it being an impersonation.

Belinda Wollaston gets possibly the most difficult task when giving us Judy in her Palace Theatre Days, a time when at the age of 29, she was already seen by many as being past her best. Wollaston’s sensitive and impassioned performance – particularly when delivering her Palace Medley – is simply breathtaking.

Not to be outdone by her younger cohorts, Helen Sheals also unleashes some powerhouse vocals to play CBS Judy, bringing a huge dose of humour balanced with fragility to the well-known star.

This is billed as a play with music (rather than a musical) and the emphasis is very much on the intricate and well-timed dialogue, but when the famous standards – including “Get Happy” and “The Man that Got Away” – do come along, my goodness do they bring the house down, with each of the Judys giving momentous and inspiring renditions.

There are also some impressive performances by the supporting cast, with Perry Meadowcroft as George Schlatter and Carmella Brown as Judith Kramer, ensuring it’s not just the ‘Talent’ that takes the limelight and with each ensemble member doubling up as the house band, there is a wonderful sense of support and camaraderie, which emanates from the stage.

Judy! is a heartwarming show about a much-loved legend played with aplomb by a hugely talented cast. If you’re a fan of Judy Garland, it’s a must see, but even if you’re not, this is an interesting and inspirational piece of theatre, which you’d be a fool to miss.

Judy! is at the Arts Theatre until 17th June 2017. 

Judy! star Lucy Penrose takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Following a hugely successful run at Southwark Playhouse last year, a show celebrating the life  and career of Judy Garland will transfer to the West End next month. Entitled simply Judy! the show will once again star a trio of talented performers who portray the icon in an overlapping story of three ages of Judy. Lucy Penrose is playing Young Judy, an innocent girl filled with hope and excitement as she heads toward her life-changing performance in The Wizard of Oz. Judy! marks Lucy’s West End debut and so we thought we would get to know her a little better by challenging her to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

1. What are you currently working on?

I am currently playing Young Judy Garland in Judy! On at the Arts Theatre in the West End from 16th May – 17th June

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

I think I’m too young in this industry to use the word successful as you never know what can happen, but what has helped me so far, has been to keep a grounded work ethic. I’m definitely a ‘geek’ and in high school could be found in the library at lunch times. I’ve always enjoyed working hard.

3. What is your favourite Book?

Sabriel by Garth Nix. I love the way that Garth Nix writes fantasy action, and that the lead kick ass character just happens to be a woman, a great role model for young girls.

4. What are you currently watching on TV? 

I’m a big Netflix fan. I just finished watching Hannibal, I’m a big fan of true crime and crime shows, I am fascinated by human psychology, and Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is pure genius.

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

I know this is controversial considering I’m an actor, but I have to say a restaurant is my idea of the perfect a night out, but the theatre and cinema are in very close second. I’m a sociable person and due to everyone’s mad schedules I don’t get to see my friends as often as I would like, so I cherish that time. Also people watching can be one of the most useful tools as an actor when developing a character.

6. What’s your favourite sweet? 

I’m more of a chocolate girl, but I will never say no to the strawberry Fruit pastels. 

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

I know this is dull, but I wanted to be an actor. I used to learn all the words to a film and then perform it to my teddies, speaking along with the movie whilst it played in the background.

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

My sister was always the naughty one, I’m sure she will agree with me. I have to admit I’m  a goody two shoes, I’ve never even had a detention. But I once ate a bit of raw cake mix, my mum saw and being a nurse told me about salmonella, to this day if my housemate is baking and she asks me to try the mix, I have to tell my mum. Like I said goody two shoes, (my housemate finds this hilarious).

9. What is your proudest achievement to date? 

The opening night of Judy! (then called Through The Mill) at the Southwark Playhouse at the bows, we had our first of many standing ovations. I can’t describe it but will cherish that feeling for the rest of my life.

10. What’s next?

Who knows, hopefully it will involve more stage lights and line learning.

Judy! will run at the Arts Theatre from 16th May until 17th June 2017.