Friday, April 10

More casting news for Frozen Musical

Breaking news this morning is that Irish  actress Stephanie McKeon will co-lead the West End premiere of Disney's Musical Frozen playing Princess Anna,  joining Pretty Woman and Les Miserables star, Samantha Barks, who was recently announced as her sister ice Princess Elsa.

Stephanie most recently appeared as Cynthia Weil in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre, West End). She  made her West End debut as Natalie in the original cast of The Commitments, directed by Jamie Lloyd. Other theatre credits include Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined (Criterion Theatre); What's It All About?:Bacharach Reimagined (Menier Chocolate Factory); Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris (Gate Theatre, Dublin), Improbable Frequency, Cinderella (Gaiety Theatre, Dublin); Anglo: The Musical (Bord Gais Theatre & Olympia Theatre, Dublin); The Life And Sort Of Death Of Eric Argyle (Edinburgh/Dublin Fringe Festival 2012); The Wizard Of Oz (The Helix, Dublin) and  A Midsummer Night's Dream (Trinity Rose Garden/Gawsworth Hall, UK)

The production has  music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and book by Jennifer Lee, Frozen.  Directed by Michael Grandage it will reopen the newly refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with previews commencing   from 30th October to 10th November with an opening night on 11th November.

Wednesday, April 8

9 TO 5 West End cast album, recorded live at the Savoy Theatre, available for download

Following the news that the London run of 9 to 5 The Musical at the Savoy Theatre (where it had been scheduled to run until 23rd May) has been cut short due to the cancellation of all performances in the West End until 31st  May, Executive Producer Adam Speers celebrated the success of the show today by saying..

"On behalf of all the producers, we are so proud of the London cast and crew who have achieved so much. Co-writer Patricia Resnick, Director Jeff Calhoun and the team at ATG Productions worked with Dolly and I to create a show so full of humour, energy and of course great songs! It filled the audiences with joy, at a time we all really needed it and will do so again. Theatre is all about bringing people together and we are very excited to share the joy of 9 to 5 around the globe in 2021 and beyond".

The West End cast album, recorded live at the Savoy Theatre, is available for download 

There is a tour of the show planned for later this year.

Week four line-up of West End stars taking part in "Leave A Light On"

This is the  week four line-up of West End stars taking part in the hit "Leave A Light On" online series of concerts which  kicked off a few weeks ago and raised almost £12,000 for artists so far, the concerts see musical performers (currently unable to appear on stage due to ongoing theatre lockdowns) give live concerts in their own homes.

All funds raised from the concerts are split between the producers and the performers themselves.

Monday 13 April
4:30pm Sophie Evans (Wicked)
6:30pm Lauren Samuels (Bend It Like Beckham)
Tuesday 14 April
4:30pm David Hunter (Waitress)
6:30pm Dean John Wilson (Aladdin)
Wednesday 15 April
4:30pm Laura Baldwin (Waitress)
6:30pm Declan Bennett (Jesus Christ Superstar)
Thursday 16 April
4:30pm Gina Murray (Hairspray)
6:30pm Summer Strallen (Young Frankenstein)
Friday 17 April
4:30pm Julie Atherton (Avenue Q)
6:30pm Christine Allado and Luke Brady (The Prince of Egypt co-stars)

You can buy tickets for all the concerts here

Hope Mill Theatre Some Enchanted Evening online Rodgers + Hammerstein concert featuring Maria Friedman Louise Dearman and Sophie-Louise Dann on 26th April

Manchester's Hope Mill Theatre is staging an online concert celebrating music from  songwriting duo Rodgers + Hammerstein, featuring West End stars including Maria Friedman (Ragtime, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) Louise Dearman (Wicked, Sideshow) and Sophie-Louise Dann (Lend Me A Tenor, Bend it Like Beckham) on Sunday 26th April at 7:00pm.
Hope Mill Theatre has been closed since Tuesday 17th March due to Covid-19 and made the difficult decision to cancel their first in-house production of the year, which was to be the UK theatrical premiere of the Broadway version of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Rehearsals were due to start next week with the show opening at beginning of May.

In honour of the cancellation of this production, Hope Mill Theatre is producing a virtual concert featuring some of the much-loved duo's favourite songs from shows such as Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and Cinderella. It will be pre-recorded and shared on the venue's YouTube channel and social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook. The concert will be free to watch but the venue is asking for donations.

The cast will perform their songs at home, with performances edited together into a complete concert experience, which will also feature some special guest hosts and familiar theatrical faces.
The venue is also thrilled to introduce cast members from the cancelled production of Cinderella, Matthew Blaker, Julie Yammanee and Cinderella herself, Georgie Buckland. Buckland is a recent graduate from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was found through the venue's open call for the role which received of over 500 submissions.

The concert will also include performers from past Hope Mill Theatre productions - Joel-Harper Jackson (Little Women), Laura Harrison (Parade) and Simbi Akande (Putting It Together). As well as Any Dream Will Do contestant Keith Jack.

Hope Mill Theatre will be launching a crowdfunder on the evening which will be used to raise money to help the venue to reopen when the time comes, and to get back on its feet.

Tuesday, April 7

We Will Rock You announces 2021 rescheduled tour dates

Following the closure of all UK theatres, the 2020 UK tour of Queen & Ben Elton’s smash hit musical We Will Rock You has been put back and rescheduled for early 2021.

The producers of  the show did not want to disappoint fans who had bought tickets, so they have been working hard to reschedule as many of the shows as possible giving people something to look forward to in these unsettling times.

We are delighted to announce the good news that the musical extravaganza will once again rock theatres across the UK from January next year, playing many of the original 2020 dates and several additional venues too. Kicking off in Cardiff on 18 January, the tour will then play in Milton Keynes, Southend, Stoke, Bristol, Wimbledon, Bournemouth, Ipswich, Bromley, York, Newcastle, Northampton, Peterborough, Norwich, Reading, Liverpool, Birmingham and Southsea - with more dates to follow. Details of how to exchange tickets will follow in the coming weeks.

Brian May said: “Happy to say our magnificent UK tour of ‘We Will Rock You’, the Rock Theatrical, will rise again! The Coronavirus has had us all on the run - but Live Theatre will win in the end!!! Keep hold of your bookings and The Vibe will be yours in 2021!” Roger Taylor added: “This is great news, I’m so pleased to see the show on the road again.”

Ben Elton added: I was so pleased to get the great news that 'We Will Rock You' is to be remounted next year after being forced to close mid tour and I hope Queen's incredible music can help to make us feel like Champions again."'We Will Rock You' has seen unprecedented success in theatres and arenas all around the world since it began in 2002 and this 2020 UK tour has been no exception. The show has received continuous rave reviews and standing ovations in every town and city it has visited, and will be ready to pick up exactly where it left off in January 2021.

Monday, April 6

Chichester Festival Theatre to stream selection of archive productions beginning with the musical Flowers for Mrs Harris

For the first time, Chichester Festival Theatre is to stream a selection of its archive productions online, beginning with the musical Flowers for Mrs Harris from Thursday 9 April for the Easter weekend. It  will be free to watch and broadcast for 30 days on CFT’s website 

With a book by Rachel Wagstaff and music and lyrics by Richard Taylor, Flowers for Mrs Harris captures the glowing humanity of the novella by Paul Gallico on which it is based. The production began at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield, where it won three UK Theatre Awards including Best Musical.It is the story of Ada Harris, a char-lady in post-war London whose drab life of dusting and scrubbing is transformed when she glimpses a Christian Dior dress in one of her client’s wardrobes and sets her heart on going to Paris to buy one for herself.

The 2018 Chichester Festival production is directed by Daniel Evans, with a cast led by Clare Burt (who won a UK Theatre Award for her performance), Joanna Riding and Gary Wilmot.Also in the cast are Claire Machin, Louis Maskell, Mark Meadows, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Nicola Sloane, Luke Latchman and Rhona McGregor, and a company of ‘Dior models’ largely drawn from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.

Daniel Evans and Kathy Bourne, Artistic and Executive Directors respectively of CFT, said: ‘We are delighted that, thanks to the generous agreement of all the artists involved, we are able to make Flowers for Mrs Harris available for people to watch for free at home. Initially, this was intended to be no more than an archive recording, but we felt that the themes of kindness and compassion might bring a bit of joy to people’s lives during these very difficult conditions. While the T­­­­­­­­­heatre itself is closed, we are determined to keep working behind the scenes to bring theatre to people at home. Happy Easter from us all at CFT!’

Details of future broadcasts will be announced shortly.

West End to remain closed until 31st May

It has today been confirmed by the Society of London Theatres (SOLT), that he West End will remain closed until at least 31st  May.

SOLT said in a statement: "We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly."

You can see the latest list of closed and rescheduled shows here

Saturday, April 4

BroadwayHD streaming new shows in April including "Fame," "Billy Elliot," "Jesus Christ Superstar"

The theatre streaming site BroadwayHD has announced new shows including "Fame," "Billy Elliot," "Jesus Christ Superstar," launching throughout April. The site is also still offering a week's free trial.
Here are all the new shows launching in April:

    "Fame — Live from the West End" — April 7. The definitive 30th anniversary tour of Fame, had its final three performances filmed at the Peacock Theatre..
    "Moses" — April 8. A musical experience telling the epic Biblical drama, from the plagues to the parting of the Red Sea.
    "Jonah The Musical" — April 8. The Bible story which sees Jonah inside the belly of a whale, performed using special effects and live animals.
    "Noah" — April 8. Live animals join the cast of Noah to be led inside the ark, on a set which towers four stories high above the stage.
    "Jesus Christ Superstar: Live Arena Tour — April 9. The hit rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, featuring song favorites such as "Heaven on Their Minds," and "I Don't Know How to Love Him."
    "Billy Elliot: The Musical" — April 16. The beloved show, based on the 2000 film, tells the tale of a young boy named Billy who just wants to dance ballet, with music written by Sir Elton John.

The productions join BroadwayHD's existing line-up of over 300 shows, including "Pippin", Kinky Boots," "Cats," "42nd Street," "The Phantom of The Opera," "The King and I," "Sound of Music," and "An American in Paris."

Friday, April 3

Hairspray at Coliseum postponed until September

The revival of the multi-award-winning  musical Hairspray has announced new dates for its limited West End return to the Coliseum. The musical, starring Michael Ball, Paul Merton, Marisha Wallace and  Rita Simons  was due to open on the 23rd of this month, but it had only just started rehearsals when the theatre lockdown was imposed so it has now been postponed until  the autumn with  the 18-week run now due to  begin  on September 1st  and run to November 8th. (Press night 8th September)

Exchanges for ticket holders will begin at 9:30 am today - until Monday 4th May, all existing ticket holders have priority to move their tickets to a new date. All new ticket purchases can be made from Tuesday 5th May.

Thursday, April 2

THE SHOWS MUST GO ON! Andrew Lloyd Webber launches free musical theatre streaming Inbox

Recent weeks have seen the temporary closure of theatres and their shows, meaning audiences around the world are spending more time at home than usual. Today, Andrew Lloyd Webber has launched a free musical theatre streaming Inbox  THE SHOWS MUST GO ON YOUTUBE CHANNEL LAUNCHES FRIDAY 3 APRIL   (Link not yet live)

Each show will be available weekly (from 7pm BST) for a limited 48-hour period online – no charge or sign up required – giving fans of musical theatre an opportunity to enjoy beloved shows, from their living rooms.

From Friday, 3 April at 7:00pm BST –  THE SHOWS MUST GO ON YouTube Channel, for the first time ever, will make available a selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much loved musicals, launching with one of the most enduring shows of all time, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR DREAMCOAT. The 2000 adaptation, inspired by the West End production, stars Donny Osmond, Maria Friedman, Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins. The fan-favourite includes mega hits Close Every Door to Me, Go Go Go Joseph and Any Dream Will Do.

 The second production to be made available will be legendary rock classic, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (2012) Good Friday 10th April  on , the arena production starring Ben Forster, Tim Minchin, Melanie C and Chris Moyles,

Further shows are to be announced, alongside full-length shows, clips of famous performances and behind-the-scenes footage will be uploaded regularly to the channel, so fans can continue to get their theatre fix at home.

Download show stills, synopses and promo videos here (Link not yet live)

For fans who wish to make a charitable donation, a variety of organisations will be listed on THE SHOWS MUST GO ON full-length YouTube channel videos, including: Acting for Others, Broadway Cares and Actors Benevolent Fund.

Next Week`s West End performers doing Leave a Light On Concerts

More West End stars performing live stream Leave a Light On concerts next week have just been announced.

There will be three performers per day with each one  performing a 45-minute set from their own homes as the lockdowns continue.  You can see a full schedule of those involved below and buy tickets for the newly announced concerts here.

Monday 6 April

2.30pm Lara Denning (Everybody's Talking About Jamie, Matilda)
4.30pm Lauren Drew (Six, Heathers, Evita)
6.30pm Alice Fearn (Come From Away, Wicked)

Tuesday 7 April

2.30pm Janique Charles (Currently Nala in The Lion King)
4.30pm Olivia Moore (Waitress, Heathers) and Piers Bate (Waitress, Mrs Henderson Presents)
6.30pm Zoe Birkett (Pop Idol, Rock of Ages, Priscilla Queen of The Desert)

Wednesday 8 April

2.30pm Raquel Jones (Tina The Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, American Idiot)
4.30pm Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You) & Maria Coyne (Wicked)
6.30pm Josh Piterman (current Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera)

Thursday 9 April

2.30pm Paul Wilkins (Les Misérables, Hair)
4.30pm Nadim Naaman (Broken Wings, The Phantom of the Opera)
6.30pm Jodie Steele (Heathers, Six, Wicked)

Friday 10 April

2.30pm Tim Mahendran (Currently in & Juliet)
4.30pm Renee Lamb (Be More Chill, Six)
6.30pm Fra Fee (Les Misérables, Dirty Dancing)

Monday, March 30

Alfie Boe, The Barricade Boys, John Owen-Jones among performers supporting the NHS with superb rendition of "Bring Him Home"

A special video  of Les Misérables' hit number "Bring Him Home" has been recorded to celebrate the NHS. The stunning track has been produced by  performers who are all former cast members of Les Misérables including the The Barricade Boys, Alfie Boe, Ramin Karimloo, John Owen-Jones, David Shannon, Alistair Brammer, Fra Fee and Rob Houchen,

The video is introduced by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on the set of This Morning, with Schofield saying: "Our NHS have always been our guardian angels, selflessly taking care of us when we need them. What they are expected to do now requires superhuman talent, strength, care and total commitment. Yet there they are, on the frontline for us, battling with everything they have to try to save us.That's why I'm behind this and any other project that collectively forms a nationwide, deafening chorus of 'Thank you, you are incredible, we appreciate every single one of you and we will do anything we can to help you through these unprecedented times'."

Scott Garnham, founder of The Barricade Boys says: "Music has this incredible power to make people stop and listen. "Bring Him Home" will resonate with so many people – it's a trying and scary time for everyone but we still have a lot to be grateful for, in particular, our incredible NHS. This is just a very small way of saying thank you."

Click here to play the video