Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: It’s been an unusual few months

I’ve got a bit out of the habit of writing these, so for fans of them, I apologise. It’s amazing how you focus on the necessities of work and life when you’re busy and extra things just fall by the wayside. Anyway, I’m going to make a concerted effort to write a diary every week from now on.

It’s been an unusual few months, which has involved me moving house at both ends of the country (in with my wonderful parents in Devon and my awesome best mates in London), a new job and a lot of new compromises in life.

My job in London is more demanding than ever before, with a fab new contract for the Weekender titles in south London giving me a great deal of pleasure. The publications are really good and the team I’m working with is absolutely brilliant. It’s also meant I’ve been able to enjoy Greenwich a lot more, with invites to some great shows and some lovely restaurants.

I’ve been very fortunate that a lot of the PR companies that I’ve built up good relationships with have stuck by me and I’ve still been able to watch some fab West End shows and chat to the stars for both my own website and for my slot on BBC Radio Kent.

A real highlight was seeing Andrew Scott in Hamlet. Now, I don’t pretend to be a fan of straight plays or Shakespeare (I generally prefer jazz hands and vibrato singing), but the production at the Harold Pinter Theatre is one of the best things I’ve seen this year. I also adored Bat Out of Hell (and the leading pair made for a delightful interview) and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with the fabulous Audra McDonald.

The Wind in the Willows at the London Palladium was good (and really didn’t deserve some of the harsh criticism it received, in my opinion) and Yank! at the Charing Cross theatre is a beautiful show.

I have become slightly obsessed with the soundtrack of Bonnie and Clyde after watching a workshop of the musical at The Other Palace and I’ve even started to listen to a bit of Little Mix (I know right! I think I’ve regressed) after seeing them perform as part of Greenwich Music Time.

I’ve interviewed my fave West End star, Kerry Ellis, the lovely Velma Celli and a whole host of friendly and not so friendly theatrical types (one playwright had prepared a statement and refused to actually answer any questions!).

Anyway, this week is also pretty packed. I’m having a tour of the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham – which is home to an extremely talented amdram group – before I attend a rehearsal for the new production of Flashdance The Musical, starring Strictly’s Joanne Clifton and A1’s Ben Adams, as well as popping along to the Hippodrome for a lively night of music from the Blues Brothers.

You can follow me on Twitter @NickySweetland for regular news.

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Gyles Brandreth and his family to depict Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Three members of one real-life family – father, son and wife – bring Hamlet’s incestuous confusion of family life sharply into focus in a brand new production at Park Theatre. Starring Gyles Brandreth, Benet Brandreth and Kosha Engler, this take on Shakespeare’s epic drama fixes the spotlight on the myriad ways families make and un-make themselves.

In Hamlet – an epic drama with domestic tragedy at its heart – two fathers, a mother and a step-father make impossible demands on their children; sometimes it is their care that strangles and suffocates, sometimes it is their deeds and their deceptions which destroy.  Meanwhile the children test their parents by their actions and their inaction; by their madness, both real and assumed. Ultimately, two families are destroyed.

Gyles Brandreth is best known as an author, broadcaster and former MP, a reporter on The One Show (BBC1) and a regular on Just A Minute (Radio 4).  As an actor, he has played Malvolio in Twelfth Night (Riverside Studios), starred in his own award-winning musical revue in the West End and appeared in three five-star sell-out one-man shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.  His most recent London appearance was as Lady Bracknell in a musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest (Riverside Studios).

Author, Shakespearean rhetoric coach and Gyles’ son, Benet Brandreth works regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Donmar Warehouse and others on Shakespeare’s use of language. He has also written and performed for radio and the stage with his one-man show The Brandreth Papers at the Edinburgh Festival and its London transfer. He is also qualified as an instructor in the Filipino Martial Arts and as a stage combat choreographer.

Kosha Engler, wife of Benet, is a Baltimore-born actress, voice artist and writer. The voice of Maybelline UK since 2012, Kosha’s television credits include the Emmy-winning Hoff the Record (2015) and The Wire (2002). Her film credits include The Man with the Iron Heart (2017), Moonshot  2009) and Tuck Everlasting (2002).

Set round a family dinner table, claustrophobic and intense, obsessed with family ties and filial duty, Hamlet will be directed by Simon Evans, whose previous productions include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui  (Donmar Warehouse) and Midsummer Night’s Dream ( Southwark Playhouse).

Hamlet runs at Park Theatre from 22 August – 16 September