Monday, February 20

Katie Brayben, Tyrone Huntley, Oliver Savile, Sabrina Aloueche and More to perform at West End Live Lounge

L&M Productions will present West End Live Lounge at the Union Theatre on Sunday 19th March at 7:30 pm.    It will be the company's first concert with a  line up including Katie Brayben, Tyrone Huntley, Sabrina Aloueche and Oliver Savile and other West End performers singing renditions of some of their favourite songs from the world of popular music. Musical direction by Sam Coates and the compere for the evening will be Benjamin Vivian-Jones.

Katie Brayben won an Olivier Award for 'Best actress in a musical' for her portrayal of Carole King in the original London cast of Beautiful. Since then her credits have included Sarah in The Spoils alongside Hollywood talent Jesse Eisenberg (Trafalgar Studios) and Jackie in My Mother said I never should (St James Theatre).

Tyrone Huntley's  credits include Hairspray, Memphis, Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ Superstar for which he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for his  performance as Judas at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. He is currently in the London cast of Dreamgirls playing the role of CC.

Oliver Savile can currently be seen playing Fiyero in the West End production of Wicked. His past credits include Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Cats and Mamma Mia.

Sabrina Aloueche is no stranger to the West End Stage with credits including Eponine in Les Miserables and Scaramouche in We Will Rock You..

L&M Productions was set up by West End performers Leigh Lothian (Currently in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Shaun McCourt (most recently seen in The Railway Children and the National's War Horse at the New London Theatre). This new venture was put together with a vision to raising money for those in unspeakable situations around the world. Each concert will donate proceedings towards a different cause with The UNICEF 'Syria Appeal' being the chosen charity for the first concert. Having seen such terrible footage of what is going on in this part of the world, both Leigh and Shaun wanted to do something to help these people in anyway possible and thus West End Live Lounge was born.

The full cast for the evening (subject to availabilty) are: Kelly Agbowu, Jamal Andreas, Marcus Ayton, Andrew Bateup, Arun Blair, Adam Bailey, Dale Evans, Gabriela Garcia,Natalie Green,  Lauren Ingram, Brady Issacs-Pearce, Sejal Keshwala, Laura Mansell, Iain Mattley,  Matthew Seadon-Young, Laura Tebbutt,Phoebe Street, Paul Wilkins, Gary Wood.

Magic at the Musicals Royal Albert Hall in May

Presented by Magic FM and TBI Media, Magic at the Musicals returns to the Royal Albert Hall for one night only at 7:30 pm on Thursday 4th May.

Following rave reviews last year, this brand new show, complete with 60 piece orchestra, will feature  performances from leading West End performers singing numbers from the  most celebrated shows including: The Wind in the Willows, Disney's Aladdin, School of Rock!,Jesus Christ Superstar, Blood Brothers and Mamma Mia!

Casting news to follow. 

Casting and booking details for new 20th anniversary production of Stiles & Drewe's musical HONK!

A 20th anniversary production of Stiles & Drewe's HONK! the musical  returns to London this Easter  playing at the Union Theatre from  29th March – 22nd April 2017 (press night Saturday 1st  April)

It is a brand new actor-musican versionwith puppetry, illusions - and water guns. This heartwarming reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling tells the story of Ugly, a plucky little bird who gets picked on by the other farmyard animals because he’s different. Pushed out of the flock, he embarks on an adventure across the marsh, meeting an array of characters who teach him that it takes all sorts to make a world, and that he is much more than just his fowl looks.

Ugly looks quite a bit different from his darling duckling brothers and sisters. The other animals on the farm are quick to notice and point this out, despite his mother’s protective flapping. Feeling rather foul about himself, the little fowl finds himself on adventure of self discovery all the while unknowingly outwitting a very hungry Cat. Along the way Ugly meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out being different is not a bad thing to be.

Honk! has gone on to receive over 8,000 productions around the world, and is now returning to London in its 20th anniversary year for  the third time since its celebrated National Theatre production in 2000

British writing duo Stiles and Drewe’s other works include current West End award winning  Half a Sixpence, Mary Poppins and the soon-to-open The Wind in the Willows starring Rufus Hound at the London Palladium.

Honk! is produced Paul Virides & Lian Wilkinson for Dot By Dot Productions, directed by Andy Room, with Oli Rew as musical director, choreography by Lily Howkins,  designer Anna Reid with  puppet designer Phoebe Hill. The cast includes:

Glaswegian Liam Vincent-Kilbride plays Ugly,  making his London stage debut. He trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has played Che in Evita and Mark Cohen in Rent.

Emily Goad (Maureen/Henrietta/Penny/Lowbutt/Pinkfoot). Previous roles include Rosemary in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Julie Jordan, Carousel.

Emma Jane Morton (Grace/Dot/Queenie/Mother Swann). Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Windsor), Leader of the Pack (Waterloo East).

Ellie Nunn
(Ida, Ugly’s mother). Shakespeare in Love in the West End, Lady Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan (King’s Head).

Robert Pearce (Turkey/Bullfrog/Jack Daw). Col. Chambers in The Glenn Miller Story (Tommy Steele No1 UK tour), Jitters in Hoods! The Musical, directed  by Craig Revel-Horwood, at the Arts Theatre.

Leon Scott (Drake, Ugly’s father). Thor in Norseome (UK tour), and Montano in Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe).

Sam Sugarman (Cat) was in Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show, Union Theatre, and Smee in Stiles & Drewe’s Peter Pan: A MusicalAdventure.

Anthony Drewe said: Hans Christian Andersen has been described as ‘a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and when he grew up with a beautiful singing voice and a passion for the theatre he was cruelly teased and mocked by other children’. Sadly, cruel teasing and mocking is still prevalent today whenever someone is perceived as being ‘different’, and it’s not only children who perpetrate this injustice. Some truly ugly attitudes revealed themselves in the lead up to the Brexit vote, and recent events in the US have only served to shake our wonderfully diverse, multicultural society.
When George and I wrote Honk! it was, in part, in response to the reaction that my young mixed–race nephews were receiving at school, because their skin was of a different colour. But bullying is not limited to racial diversity. A recent study in the UK found that 45% of 13 to 18 year-olds have experienced bullying by the age of 18, with the majority saying the primary reason was their physical appearance. It’s a sobering fact that 1 in 10 teenagers bullied at school have attempted to commit suicide, and at least half of the suicides among young people are related to bullying. Sadly, it is true that the victims of bullying are most likely to become bullies themselves. Maybe one day this vicious cycle will be broken, then we will all have something to quack about.

I think the reason Honk! has enjoyed such success and been seen in so many productions around the world is that everyone can relate to the plight of an outsider trying to fit in – we have all felt it at some point in our lives. We wanted to write a musical about acceptance – a celebration of being different, where diversity is welcomed and embraced, and where everyone plays their own part in a multicultural community, albeit on a duck pond.

Friday, February 17

Rachel Tucker announces May & June tour dates

Rachel Tucker (Elphaba in the West End and Broadway productions of Wicked) has announced dates  for her UK tour which opens in Belfast in May.

The musical theare star rose to fame on Andrew Lloyd Webber's BBC show I'd Do Anything, has played the green witch in Stephen Schwartz's production for more performances than any other actress in the show's history. Her other recent theatre credits include Queen's  We Will Rock You at the Dominion, and Sting's musical The Last Ship on Broadway.

Her  solo tour will be  directed by her husband Guy Retallack, when she will be performing musical theatre songs as well as some jazz and soul.

The tour opens at the MAC Belfast on 13th May before moving to the Gate Theatre, Cardiff (19th May), Gala Theatre, Durham (29th  May), Grand Theatre, Lancaster (3th May), The Apex, Bury St Edmund's (31st May), Capitol Theatre, Horsham (3rd June), Live At Zedel, London (5th-7th June), and Pizza Express Live, Birmingham (9th and 10th  June).

Caroline Flack to join Tom Chambers in Tour of Crazy for You

It has just been announced that Caroline Flack is to  make her stage debut as Irene in the national tour of the Watermill Theatre’s acclaimed production of CRAZY FOR YOU. Caroline joins the previously announced Tom Chambers as Bobby. From the producers of “Sister Act” and “Nativity! The Musical”, the national tour of ”CRAZY FOR YOU” opens at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth on 17th August.

Prior to presenting, Caroline trained in musical theatre. She won the 12th season of “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2014. She currently presents  ITV’s Love Island with previous presenting credits including “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here NOW!” and “The Xtra Factor”. She has also presented “The X Factor”.

Peter Polycarpou and Tracie Bennett lead cast for Mrs Henderson Presents in Toronto

Peter Polycarpou is playing the role of Vivian Van Damm opposite Tracie Bennett in Mrs Henderson Presents when it tours to Toronto and plays at The Royal Alexandra Theatre from March 12th  to April 23rd.

The cast includes Evelyn Hoskins, Matt Slack, Matthew Malthouse, Adam Rhys Charles, Jenny Huxley Golden, Tricia Adele Turner, Kimberly Powell, Alex Delamere, Grace Mckee, Ross Carpenter, Fenton Gray, Piers Bate, Lucy Carter, Maria Garrett, Lauren Hall, Ross Carpenter, Mark Prendergast, Matthew Jeans,Tania Newton, Anne Smith, Simon Green and Piers Bate.

The Girls Cast Album?

According to Baz in today's Mail,  writer Gary Barlow, director Tim Firth and producers of The Girls David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers ,  are believed to be in discussions with Disney and Decca about collaborating on the cast album for the new musical , which opens on Tuesday and  is getting standing ovations and rave reviews while it previews at he Phoenix Theatre. 

Thursday, February 16

Samantha Barks, Tim Howar, Oliver Tompsett and Hannah Waddingham starring in The Sound of Musicals

A new tour of the The Sound of Musicals has just been announced with show-stopping numbers from musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, Chess, Oliver!, Les Misérables, Jersey Boys, Evita, My Fair Lady and Chicago. They will be performed  four star soloists from the West End: Samantha Barks (Les Misérables), Tim Howar (Tonight’s the Night; Rock of Ages; and vocalist with Mike and The Mechanics), Oliver Tompsett (Wicked; Guys and Dolls) and Hannah Waddingham (Kiss Me Kate; A Little Night Music, Grease) accompanied by a live London Concert Orchestra conducted by  Richard Balcombe or Mnchedter Concert Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall.

The dates with booking links are:

Thursday 11 May 7.30pm – BIRMINGHAM Symphony Hall
Friday 12 May 7.30pm – MANCHESTER The Bridgewater Hall
Saturday 13 May 7.30pm – LONDON Royal Festival Hall 

Fiddler on the Roof to play at Chichester this summer

News has just broken that Daniel Evans' first Chichester season includes musicals featuring Sharon D Clarke, Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman
From 10th July- 26th August (press night July 18th).  Daniel Evans will direct British-Iranian comedy actor Omid Djalili playing the title tole as Tevye- His  many credits include taking on the role of Fagin in Oliver! (West End). Tracy-Ann Oberman (EastEnders) is  Tevye’s wife Golde. in a new production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. With a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick it features classic number s including "If I Were A Rich Man", "Tradition" and "Matchmaker".

As previously announced Sharon D Clarke will make her Chichester debut in the Olivier Award-winning Caroline, or Change from 6th May-3rd June. 

Tickets for Fiddler on the Roof  (on sale 25th February
for friends and 4th March for general public)

Wednesday, February 15

First casting news for tour of Hairspray the Musical

The first casting news has just broken for the new tour of Hairspray the musical which is due to open at Cardiff Millennium Centre in August. 

Matt Rixon returns to the show as Edna Turnblad having played the role previously. His theatre credits include Cinderella (Richmond Theatre), Casa Valentina (Southwark Playhouse) and The Ladykillers (New Vic Theatre & UK Tour). TV credits include Tarantina Connections on Channel 4, Unique Species on Channel 5 and Henry VI Part 3 for the BBC.

Brenda Edwards returns as Motormouth Maybelle. She was  a 2005 X Factor semi-finalist with  theatre roles including Mama Morton in Chicago (West End), Pearl Pastor in Carmen Jones (Royal Festival Hall) and Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (West End and UK tour).

The show will be directed by Paul Kerryson with choreography by Drew McOnie, Ben Atkinson is Musical Director and Re-orchetrations, Ben Harrison is sound designer and Philip Gladwell is Lighting Designer with set design by Paul Moore and costumes by Takis.

Robbie Williams to perform again with Take That on Let It Shine final

Robbie Williams has  confirmed that  he will reunite with Take That on the final of BBC's Let It Shine when he appears  as guest judge on 25th February,  alongside Gary Barlow , Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp and the public to  decide which band will be crowned the winners and appear in Gary Barlow's new West End musical The Band.
He will reunite with Take That, minus ex-member Jason Orange, for a one-off performance, as well as joining the talent show as a guest judge saying 'I'm looking forward to being back with Gary, Mark and Howard on Let It Shine and am excited to be a guest judge for the very special final,'
Apparently Gary is aiming to  make sure their reunion as a four-piece is a huge success and blows the audience away. He wants to finish off Let It Shine with a bang and he thought a Take That reunion to close the show was the perfect way to achieve it.

Robbie last reunited with Take That last November during a special one-off show to celebrate receiving the prestigious BRITs Icon Award.
Robbie has also  he would jump at the chance to rejoin former his former band mates for a reunion tour admitting he was 'really proud' of what the  group have achieved, describing himself as a 'floating member'.

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill starring in UK premiere of musical Honeymoon in Vegas concert

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill are to star in UK premiere of the musical Honeymoon in Vegas concert at the London Palladium at 7:30 pm on Sunday 12th March.

They will be accompanied by the 30 piece  London Musical Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Jason Robert Brown who composed the piece.

Samantha Barks is to take on the role of Betsy and Arthur Darvill will play Jack, with full casting to be announced son. The musical is based on the 1992 hit film which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicholas Cage. It is the story of tells the story of mild-mannered Brooklynite, Jack, who haunted by the fear of a promise to his dying mother never to get married, avoids proposing to his new girlfriend Betsy. He finally summons the nerve and takes Betsy to Las Vegas only to have his plans compromised by a dashing gambler with an eye for luxury and Jack's new fiancée.
Barks is best known for playing Eponine in Les Miserables, in the West End, the 25th Anniversary Concerts at the O2, and in the 2012 film adaptation. Recent theatre credits include Cathy- Last Five Years (St James Theatre); the title role in the world premiere of Amelie - A New Musical (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Mallory/Avril in City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Velma Kelly in Chicago (Hollywood Bowl) and Sally Bowles in Cabaret (UK Tour). Recent film credits include Interlude in Prague (Stillking Films), Bitter Harvest (Devil's Harvest Productions), The Canary (Pioneer Pictures), the voice of Miss Acacia in Jack & The Cuckoo-Clock Heart (EuropaCorp) and The Christmas Candle (Pinewood Studios). Samantha also recently toured launching  with her debut album.

Darvill  has had a wide and varied career. Theatre includes: Treasure Island (National Theatre), Once (NYC and UK), Our Boys (Duchess Theatre), Soft Cops (RSC), Doctor Faustus (Shakespeare's Globe), Been So Long (Young Vic), Swimming With Sharks (Vaudeville), Terre Haute (Trafalgar Studios, National Tour), Stacey (Arcola), Terre Haute (Edinburgh). Television and Film Includes: Legends of Tomorrow (Berlanti Productions), Danny and The Human Zoo (BBC), Broadchurch ( ITV), The White Queen (BBC), The Paradise (BBC), Doctor Who (BBC), Little Dorritt (BBC), He Kills Coppers (Ecosse), The Verdict (RDF), Untitled Robin Hood (Imagine Entertainment), Sex, Drugs, Rock N Roll (Lipsync Productions), Pelican Blood (Ecosse). Other work: He is also Artistic Associate and musican/writer in residence of The Bush Theatre and founding member of Fuego's Men Theatre Company