Friday, August 29

Casting for Urinetown the Musical

Jamie Lloyd's production of the musical Urinetown which played at the St James' Theatre earlier this year is to transfer into the West End Apollo Theatre from Monday 29th September.with Jenna Russell reprising her performance as Ms Pennywise, with a number of the original St James' Theatre cast returning.   Richard Fleeshman will not be there as Bobby Strong due to other commitments but the part will be played by Matthew Seadon Young  and  Simon Paisley Day will play  Caldwell B. Cladwell.

They will be joined by Jonathan Slinger who will again play Officer Lockstock. Marc Elliott, Rosanna Hyland and Karis Jack will also reprise their performances as Mr. McQueen, Hope Cladwell and Little Sally. Further confirmed casting includes Chris Bennett (Swing& Dance Captain), Katie Bernstein (Little Becky Two Shoes/Mrs. Millennium), Cory English (Old Man Strong/Hot Blades Harry), Madeleine Harland (Soupy Sue/Cladwell's Secretary), Kane Oliver Parry (Robbie The Stockfish / UGC Executive),
Aaron Lee Lambert (Billy Boy Bill/ UGC Executive), Nathan Amzi (Officer Barrel), Mark Meadows (Senator Fipp), Joel Montague (Swing)Julie Jupp(Old Woman / Josephine Strong), Jeff Nicholson (Tiny Tom/ Dr. Billeaux) and Alasdair Buchan, Christina Modestou and Vicky Lee Taylor as Swings.


Back to the Future Musical delayed

According to Baz in today's Mail  the  musical version of Back To The Future has been "put on ice"   just as workshops of the show were due to be staged following behind-the-scenes ‘creative differences’ between director Jamie Lloyd who has withdrawn ‘amicably’ from the show and Bob Gale, who wrote the 1985 film and its two sequels, disagreed over the production’s direction. Lloyd said  his decision to withdraw was ‘just a case of wanting to stand by my vision’.‘You absolutely have to believe in it or there’s not much point,’ he said. Gale will now write the version of the show that he favours, and send it out to directors later next year.

The movie featured Michael J. Fox as high-school student Marty McFly who’s also a budding rock guitarist. But his parents are losers and Marty hasn’t got much of a future. Until, that is, he is hurled back in time by crazy scientist Doc Brown — played by Christopher Lloyd — to when Marty’s folks were in high school.

The musical had been expected to open in the West End next year, but will not be ready now until  at least 2016. The American actor Roger Bart had been in informal talks about playing Doc Brown in the show.

 Jamie Lloyd, meanwhile, has jut directed Martin Freeman in Richard III at Trafalgar Studios, plus he’s busy re-casting The Commitments at the Palace Theatre, and transferring satirical comedy Urinetown The Musical to the Apollo.


Hadley Fraser & Caroline Sheen in Before After new musical

West End stars Hadley Fraser and Caroline Sheen are starring  in the world premiere of Stuart Matthew Price and Timothy Knapman’s new romantic musical, Before After, at the  St. James Studio on Sunday 28 September at 3.00pm.

Everybody has one great lost love. They broke our hearts, they haunt our dreams and we will never, ever forget it. But what if fate gave you another chance? Do you think you’d get things right the second time around? In Before After, Ami (Caroline Sheen) meets Ben (Hadley Fraser) by a tree on a beautiful hillside. She reconises him instantly - he was once the love of her life. But Ben doesn’t recognise her. As we watch their love grow in both the past and the present, might they finally find their happy ever after after all? He’s the right man in the right place - but is this the right time?

Before After will be workshopped for two weeks then performed to the paying public on Sunday 28 September at 3.00pm at St. James Studio. Industry insiders will be invited to see the show on Friday 26 September at 2.30pm.

Composer Stuart Matthew Price said: “We are thrilled with the stunning West End cast we’ve assembled and with the generous support of the Arts Council, excited to give Musical Theatre fans the opportunity to be in at the very beginning of the journey for this new British musical. We want their feedback as we look to mount a fully staged production later in 2014 or early 2015.”

Hadley Fraser, soon to star as Stine in the sold-out Donmar Warehouse production of City of Angels, made his professional debut in Les Misérables and returned to West End production as Javert in 2011. His other West End roles include: The Far Pavilions (Shaftesbury),Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (Savoy), Peter Pan (Savoy), El Gallo in The Fantasticks (Duchess). He played Raoul in the 25th Anniversary staging of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall. As a vocalist he can be heard on Scott Alan’s releases Keys and Scott Alan LIVE.

Caroline Sheen played the title role in the musical Mary Poppins in the UK then in the US, where she won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production. She appeared in the West End as Fantine in Les Misérables alongside Hadley Fraser, and appears in the film version as well. She made her West End debut as Marty in Grease at the Cambridge Theatre and later starred as Sandy at the Victorial Palace. She played Florinda in Into the Woods at the Donmar Warehouse and was the original cast of Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre, understudying the lead role of Sophie. She created the role of Jennifer Gabriel in the world premiere production of The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. She was Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium.

Stuart Matthew Price made his debut as as perfomer in the critically acclaimed Parade at the Donmar Warehouse. Other theatre credits include Mack and Mabel at Southwark Playhouse, The Sound Of Music at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Dear World at Charing Cross Theatre, Shrek The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (original West End cast); Sweet Smell of Success at Arcola Theatre and Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show. In 1999, Stuart’s first musical, Searching, won him the Stoll Moss Theatre’s Award for Most Promising Under 18 Musical Writer. Since then Stuart has worked on a number of new musicals including The Diary of Me, which premiered at the Harlow Playhouse in 2006, followed by a short run as part of the Perfect Pitch Showcase Season in 2008 at Trafalgar Studios. Stuart’s individual songs have received much acclaim too and his song Stories of Heroes, won him the 4th Annual Tim William’s Award in 2012.

Tickets for Before After


Wednesday, August 27

Liam Doyle, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Jonny Fines, Faisal Khodabukus and Alex Jordan-Mills to star in Premiere of Altar Boyz at Greenwich

The cast has just been announced for the UK premiere of Altar Boyz which will run at Greenwich Theatre for a limited period from  3rd-18th October

Liam Doyle, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Jonny Fines Faisal Khodabukus and Alex Jordan-Mills will play members of  a fictitious boy-band - whose members include Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham - on the last night of their 'Raise the Praise' tour. When fate brings them to New York, will the boyz take a bite out of the forbidden apple?

Liam Doyle is starring as Fiyero in Wicked (UK Tour). Other recent credits include Link Larkin in Hairspray (UK Tour) and Troy in High School Musical. Jonny Fines’ credits include Lift (Soho Theatre), Avenue Q (UK Tour) and The Sound of Music (UK Tour). Jamie-Ray Hartshorne has appeared in the premiere of new musical The Prodigals (Belgrade Theatre) and The History Boys (National Theatre). Faisal Khodabukus’ recent credits include I Can’t Sing (London Palladium), Dirty Dancing (UK Tour) and La Cage Aux Folles (Playhouse Theatre). Alex Jordan-Mills played Billy in the 2013 revival of Taboo (Brixton Clubhouse), and most recently played Nick Piazza in Fame (UK Tour).

The show played Off-Broadway for five years and will be directed by Steven Dexter, whose credits include Loserville in the West End and Honk at the Watermill.  It is  choreographed by Ewan Jones (Water Babies) with musical direction from Mark Crossland

Tickets for Altar Boyz



Tuesday, August 26

Demand for Miss Saigon Gala Performance crashes Delfont Mackintosh booking system

From the number of very disappointed tweets I received earlier today it comes as no surprise to hear that the 25th anniversary gala performance of Miss Saigon on 22nd September which went on sale this morning sold out within minutes.

Over 18,000 people tried to buy tickets when booking opened which is  an unprecedented amount for a single performance in a theatre with just over 1700 seats. Fans who queued around the block at the Prince Edward Theatre managed to secure tickets at the original 1989 prices. Online demand was so overwhelming that it crashed the box office ticket system within 10 minutes and the entire Delfont Mackintosh ticket website went down shortly afterwards. The technical team restored the system as quickly as possible and the performance was sold out within minutes.

The Gala Performance was announced last week to salute 25 years since the musical originally premiered.  To celebrate this milestone the cast of the new production will be joined onstage by members of the original company in a special finale. 

For those who missed out on tickets this morning, there will be a limited number day seats available on the morning of Monday 22nd  September. The Gala Performance will also be recorded for BBC Radio 2 and will be broadcast in its entirety on Sunday 28 September.


Sondheim's Assassins is Menier's Christmas Show

The Menier Chocolate Factory has just  announced its winter season, which includes Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins directed by Jamie Lloyd.  I am very excited by this news as I saw this show in 1992/3 at the Donmar direced by Sam Mendes and loved it.

Assassins is  revue-style portrayal of men and women who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate  American Presidents. It will open on 21st November an run over Christmas and New Year until 7th March, with full casting and creative team to be announced.

Jamie Lloyd's other recent shows include Urinetown which is due to come into the Apollo from the St James' Theatre on 29th September and The Commitments currently running at the Palace.

Tickets for Assassins go on sale on 29th August for Chocolate Factory supporters and 8th September to the public.


Monday, August 25

Sheridan Smith Who Do You Think You Are?

Sheridan Smith is due to feature on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, when she goes on a hunt to discover the beginnings of her family’s musical heritage.

Sheridan was born in Epworth where her parents Marylin and Colin Smith performed as a Country and Western duo The Daltons. As she grew up she soon followed in their footsteps. She is most well-known for her roles as Emma in The Royle Family, Janet in Two Pints of Lager and Rudi in Gavin & Stacey.
She also appeared on the West End in 2010, playing the lead role, Elle Woods, in Legally Blonde. She won a BAFTA for Best Leading Actress in 2013 for her portrayal of Charmian Biggs, wife of Great Train 
Robber Ronnie Briggs, in ITV drama Mrs Biggs and is shortly to play Cilla Black in a three part series.

Sheridan's  episode was filmed 
earlier this year and is part of the 10th series of the show. It will air on BBC One at 9:00pm on on September 4th.


Tuesday, August 19

Anton du Beke & Erin Boag That's Entertainment Tour

Strictly Come Dancing pros Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag are touring  a spectacular new show ‘That’s Entertainment’  in UK and Ireland in 2015 .

It provides a sophisticated combination of music, song and dance for Anton and Erin to perform their quick step, foxtrot, tango and waltz with the showbiz razzmatazz of hits and steps from stage and screen including ‘Steppin’ Out With My Baby’, ‘True Love’, ‘Make ‘em Laugh’, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ and ‘That’s Entertainment’.

They will be joined on stage by  vocalist Lance Ellington, six world-class Ensemble Dancers and the 25-piece London Concert Orchestra conducted by Richard Balcombe

The tour starts on 22nd January  at Northampton Royal & Derngate and goes on a countrywide tour which is currently scheduled to end at the Bristol Hippodrome on 29th March.

Tickets for That's Entertainment