Wednesday, October 22

Tour of Oh What A Lovely War announced

Wendi Peters (Corrie's Cilla Battersby-Brown) is to join the ensemble cast of Oh What A Lovely War on its 2015 national tour. The show  will return to its spiritual home - Theatre Royal Stratford East - in January before embarking on its tour to  Richmond, Malvern, Manchester, Cambridge, Bath, Torquay, Guildford, Coventry, Brighton, Leicester, Aylesbury, Birmingham, Truro, Hull and Wimbledon theatres..

Peters' recent stage credits include White Christmas at the Lowry, Salford (which she is reprising at the Dominion Theatre ), The Mystery Of Edwin Drood at the Arts Theatre and Rutherford & Son for Northern Broadsides.

Oh What A Lovely War originally premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1963 whenJoan Littlewood adapted the play from Charles Chilton's work for radio through her company Theatre Workshop. It, transferred to the West End in June 1963, opening on Broadway in 1964 and receiving four Tony Award nominations including Best Musical.

This revival opened at Theatre Royal Stratford East in February 2014 with a cast including Caroline Quentin.

Killian Donnelly, Alistair Brammer, Gerónimo Rauch, Nadim Naaman and Gina Beck MAD Christmas Album

The West End Goes MAD For Christmas is  MAD Trust’s first official Christmas album produced by Auburn Jam Records due for  release on November 30th to coincide with Trust’s annual fundraiser, A West End Christmas at St Paul’s Actor’s Church, Covent Garden.

It is compilation album of Christmas songs by new writers performed bya host of West End stars.  The track listing is:

- Together We Can Make It written by Felix Hagan peformed by
Killian Donnelly & the cast of Les Misérables
- Home - Alistair Brammer; written by Gus Gowland & Alistair Brammer
- I Love Christmas - Chloe Hart; from The Bakewell Bake Off written by The Baking Committee- -This Christmas - written & performed by Stuart Matthew Price
- Reindeer Wives - Harriet Thorpe, Christopher Howell & Sophie Isaacs; written by Anderson & Petty
-A Soldier's Christmas - Gerónimo Rauch & Nadim Naaman; written by Nadim Naaman
-Praying For You - Gina Beck; written by Alexander Bermange
 -The Little Match Girl - Janie Dee; written by Tim Connor

Nikki & Joe Davison are the husband & wife team behind Auburn Jam Music production

 CDs at £10, are available to pre-order now.

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Friday, October 17

New Musical Mrs Henderson Presents to open at Bath next Summer

Theatre Royal Bath is to  host to a try-out run of the new musical Mr Henderson Presents from 14th August 2015.

Based on Stephen Frears' 2005 film, which starred Bob Hoskins, Will Young and  Judi Dench as 'Laura Henderson', who created a vaudeville show featuring all-nude young women at the Windmill Theatre in London during "a time of great censorship," says producer Michael Harrison.

The film's producer Norma Heyman is a backing the musical alongside John Reid and Harrison with  music by George Fenton and Simon Chamberlain with lyrics by Don Black and choreography by Andrew Wright. Terry Johnson will direct  from his own adaptation of Martin Sherman's screenplay.
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Alex Gaumond to replace Rufus Hound in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Actor and comedian  Rufus Hound has left  the production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre  with West End leading man Alex Gaumond  taking over the role of Freddy Benson from November 11th. In the meantime, an understudy will play the part. Gaumond has just finished playing Miss Trunchbull in Matilda

There is speculation about the reasons for Hound's sudden derparture. Hound (One Man Two Guv'nors, Celebrity Juice, and the winner of the recent Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special) is now reportedly working on a film. Prior to his departure, the actor was out of the show for a week due to illness, from which he has since recovered. But today the  Mail speculates Hound's absences and now permanent exit from the show have more to do with off-stage "chemistry" between him and his co-star Robert Lindsay.

Statements from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' producers and director "wish him all the best" as Hound goes on to "pursue other opportunities"..

A spokesperson for Hound said that the actor ‘has now completed his engagement and has started filming a movie’.

The show now stars Olivier, Tony and BAFTA award winning Robert Lindsay (Me And My Girl, Becket, Oliver!, My Family) as the conman Lawrence Jameson, competing with Freddy Benson (Alex Gaumond)  for the riches and the heart of the young impressionable heiress, Christine Colgate played by Katherine Kingsley (Singin' in the Rain), who was just nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Michael Grandage's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bonnie Langford  plays Muriel Eubanks, a glamorous divorcee looking for love in Beaumont-sur-Mer on the French Riviera and Gary Wilmot  plays Andre Thibault, Beaumont-sur-Mer's Chief of Police.




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Tuesday, October 14

Downton Abbey Christmas Album featuring Julian Ovenden

The cast of Downton Abbey are  to release a double  Christmas album next month featuring Elizabeth McGovern and Julian Ovenden. Jim Carter, who plays butler Charles Carson, performs a spoken word version of T'was The Night Before Christmas.

It will feature a festive version of the period drama's theme tune along with choral versions of traditional hymns and carols.

Elizabeth McGovern, plays Cora Countess of  Graham and Julian Ovenden, who plays Charles Blake, will be the most featured on the album because they both have musical backgrounds. McGovern fronts a folk band called Sandie and the Hotheads while Ovenden is a well known and established  musical theatre star and singer  who has released albums. On the 45-track Downton album McGovern¡s  performances include It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and she performs a duet  of The First Noe lwith Ovenden

Christmas at Downton Abbey is due for release on 10th November.  You can pre-order your copy here

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Wednesday, October 8

Bend it Like Beckham to Replace Once at the Phoenix?

The  news today that Once the Musical is to close at the Phoenix Theatre at the end of Ronan Keating's engagement on 21st March, gives strength to the rumour is that Bend It Like Beckham the Musical is taking its place.

Based on the 2002 film starring Keira Knightley, the musical has David Beckham's blessing and will be directed by Gurinder Chadha, who also directed the film, with  music and lyrics by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart.

The film centres around 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikhs in London. Infatuated with football but forbidden to play by her parents, she joins a local women's team, which makes its way to the top of the league.

Accordin to Baz Bamigboye a developmental workshop was held last   October with  Samantha Barks playing 'Jules' ( portrayed by Keira Knightley in the 2002 movie) alongside Tara Divina as 'Jess' (originated by Parminder Nagra on screen) in the starring role. Frances Ruffelle, Shobna Gulati, Preeya Kalidas, Jamie Muscato, and Richard Fleeshman were also part of various workshops. There hae also been number of rehearsed readings and workshops  including a big one in May this year at the Dominion Theatre which Andrew Lloyd Webber and theatre critic Mark Shenton attended.

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Tuesday, October 7

The Railway Children back in London over Christmas

The Olivier Award-winning production of Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children is  returning to London from  16th  December 2014  (press night on 14th January,) in a new venue at the  King’s Cross Theatre,on King’s Boulevard, behind King’s Cross Station, where a purpose built 1,000-seat theatre, complete with a railway track and platforms, and with a state of the art heating system, will be specially created.    
The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, will once again feature a live 60-tonne steam locomotive and Gentleman’s Carriage.Casting will be announced shortly.

Book tickets for the The Railway Children,  which is running until 1st March 2015. 

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Friday, October 3

Details of Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Radio 2 broadcasts tonight

At 8:00 pm on BBC Radio 2 tonight Claudia Winkleman is presenting  an Arts Show special, celebrating 25 years of Miss Saigon ahead of the Radio 2 recording of the Gala Performance, recorded live from The Prince Edward Theatre. Claudia will be featuring Sir Cameron Mackintosh, it's original stars Lea Salonga, Simon Bowman and Jonathan Pryce, plus its current stars Eva Noblezada and Alistair Brammer

This is followed at 9 :00 pm by Michael Ball who will be presenting footage from backstage plus there is a broadcast of the entire show with a spectacular celebratory finale as the cast of the current production are joined by members of the original company, all on stage at the Prince Edward Theatre. Finale footage to be available afterwards for 7 days.

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