Sunday, February 28

Wicked! Writers Sought

The West End musical Wicked! has launched a writing competition which is designed to encourage writing talent across a broad age range. It is called the Wicked Young Writers’ Award 2010,

The main award is split into four age categories ranging from 5 to 16. Entrants submit a story, poem, drama or illustrated piece on a subject of their choice up to a maximum of 750 words before 31st July.

A separate prize, the Gregory Maguire Award, is open to 17 to 25 year olds.  Entrants need to write a piece that takes a well-known story and examines it from a different perspective, as Maguire did when he wrote Wicked!

Wicked author Gregory Maguire and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo will judge the entries and select 20 writers from each category to attend a prize-giving ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of Wicked! A winner from each category will also receive four tickets to Wicked and a writing master class from one of the award judges. All of the short-listed pieces of work will be published in an anthology.

More information about the competition can be found at

Dancing on Ice Duo Up for West End Roles

Dancing on Ice star Hayley Tamaddon and her professional skating partner Dan Whiston are heading to London's West End, with Theatre bosses keen to persuade the duo to star in a musical together.

One tabloid newspaper reported that a producer has been impressed by the "chemistry" between the couple and they could be linked to roles in the musical Chicago.

Don’t be horrified as apparently Dan can sing as well as dance and Hayley's got a great voice.  The ex Emmerdale actress  was runner-up in ITV's Soapstar Superstar which led to her singing with Michael Ball at the Opera House in Blackpool . She has also done numerous pantos, plàyed Frenchie in Grease, Diana Morales in A Chorus Line as well as appearing in Boogie Nights, Mamma Mia!,  Fame. and The Rocky Horror Show.

Saturday, February 27

New Career for John Barrowman on QVC?

Musical theatre performer John Barrowman hosted yesterday afternoon’s QVC shopping channel as only he can.  I have to say he was so over the top as usual that he came across as brilliant with his own QVC membership card which he seems to use to buy everything that QVC sells.

He turned up at the studio dressed in QVC clothes and during the hour he was on demonstrated the best way to use certain cleaning accessories and became very enthusiastic about duvet sets with a high thread count.  He even sealed his CDs in a Lock & Lock tub and submerged them in water.

There is clearly nothing this man won't do for publicity. QVC now have a huge problem on how they can top his performance. American home-shopping channels use stars like Marie Osmond, Paula Abdul and P Diddy but the UK is still long way from these dizzy heights!

New Bernadette Peters Film “Coming Up Roses"

The fabulous Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters is in a new film “Coming Up Roses” where she plays a musical comedy performer who has always appeared in summer shows and second rate tours. She has 15 and 21 year old daughters – the eldest of which can’t wait to get married and move away from mother.

The film starts shooting in the Queen District of New York on 1st March and the producers are Belladonna Productions (best known for "Transamerica" which received two Academy Award nominations in 2006). The new film seems to pay homage to Miss Peters' last Broadway show which was Sam Mendes’ revival of Gypsy. Even the film’s title sounds like one of the numbers from the Sondheim-Styne score.

Miss Peters is also due to appear in a number of benefit concerts celebrating Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday.

Auction of Danny La Rue’s Costumes

London’s  Victoria & Albert Museum has purchased four costumes worn by the late Danny La Rue ahead of an auction where 90 of his costumes and gowns will be put up for sale. Danny died at the age of 81 in June last year.

Two of the costumes purchased by the V&A will be on permanent display in the museum, while the other two will feature in a forthcoming exhibition of pantomime costumes at the Museum of Childhood
Dannie La Rue’s other costumes are owned by Annie Galbraith and will be appropriately auctioned at Brick Lane Music Hall on March 12th.  La Rue was a regular there and last performed at the venue in 2007. Viewing is from 10:00. The sale starts at noon.

Items being auctioned will include pantomime costumes, gowns worn in the West End show Hello, Dolly! and frocks he wore in music hall and cabaret shows.

The Marvelous Wonderettes UK Tour

 The Off Broadway musical The Marvelous Wonderettes looks as though it could be heading to the UK for a national tour in the autumn.

The Wonderettes are Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy: four high school girls who plan their futures at the 1958 Highfield School prom, then meet up again ten years later to see if their lives turned out as expected.

The musical has a similar style to Dreamboats and Petticoats as it tells the story of the Wonderettes by using music from the 50s and 60s including “Lollipop", “Dream Lover",“Stupid Cupid",“Lipstick on Your Collar", “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me",“It’s My Party" and “It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)”

It is to be directed by the writer and director, Roger Bean, and is set to open in September for a twelve week run. Touring dates and venues soon to be announced.

Friday, February 26

Love Never Dies Promos this Weekend

Tonight Andrew Lloyd Webber will be a guest on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross at 10.35pm on BBC1. He will give an update about Love Never Dies, which started previews at the Adelphi Theatre earlier this week.  Sierra Boggess, who plays Christine Daaé, will also perform the show’s title song ‘Love Never Dies’.

And on Sunday ALW will appear on ITV1’s Dancing On Ice which goes out at 6.50pm. This time he will be accompanying opera diva Katherine Jenkins as she performs her version of “Love Never Dies” while Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean perform their dance interpretation on ice.

Laurence Olivier Awards to be broadcast live this year

For the first time the Laurence Olivier Awards ceremony will be broadcast live from Park Lane’s Grosvenor House Hotel starting at 18:30 on Sunday 21st March 2010.

The ceremony will be presented by actor Anthony Head, who is currently appearing in Six Degrees Of Separation at the Old Vic. Nominated stars including Jude Law, Keira Knightley, Rachel Weisz, Juliet Stevenson, Samuel West and Ken Stott have confirmed their attendance at the event,

Other nominees are Gillian Anderson, James Earl Jones, Mark Rylance, Imelda Staunton, Mackenzie Crook, Melanie Chisholm (for her performance in Blood Brothers), Patina Miller, Tony Sheldon, Maureen Lipman and Rowan Atkinson.

This year’s ceremony will announce the winner of the new Audience Award, as voted for by the readers of Official London Theatre. Shows including Wicked, War Horse, Phantom Of The Opera, We Will Rock You and Billy Elliott are battling it out to be crowned the West End’s favourite long-running show.

Voting remains open until 17th March with over 36,000 votes cast so far.

Thursday, February 25

"The Doctor And I " Track on New John Barrowman Album

Dr Who and the musical Wicked! Come together on a bonus track on John Barrowman's new solo album entitled John Barrowman which is being released by Arista

The CD  features a number of songs from the musicals including Peter Allen's "Don't Cry Out Loud" and "When I Get My Name in Lights" (The Boy From Oz), Jerry Herman's "I Won't Send Roses" (Mack and Mabel), Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way" (Nine) and "My Eyes Adored You" and "Oh What a Night" (Jersey Boys). He also duets with Jody Prenger (Nancy in Oliver!) on “So Close" from Enchanted.

Recorded exclusively for the iTunes version of the album, "The Doctor and I" is a re-worked version of "The Wizard and I" from Wicked.  It is about Captain Jack (Barrowman's character in Doctor Who and spin-off series Torchwood) and his relationship with the Doctor.

Evita Revival Planned for New York

The producers Hal Luftig and Scott Sanders are aiming to mount a Broadway revival of the musical “Evita” next year with the Argentine actress Elena Roger in the title role. Miss Roger is shortly to appear in the Sondheim musical Passion at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

Michael Grandage, the artistic director of the Donmar, directed the 2006 revival of Evita starring Miss Roger and apparently has signed on to direct the Broadway production as well.

The producers are also looking for a “name” to play Che Guevara and an offer is outstanding to the singer and actor Ricky Martin

Musical Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi to Open in London

The award winning musical Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi which was written for the Liverpool City of Culture celebrations in 2008, is to open in London at the Union Theatre, Southwark from 5th-27th March (previews 3rd March).

The musical written by Phil Willmott takes an irreverent look at the Adelphi Hotel in the 1930s.  It offers the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as wealthy Americans sail into Liverpool Docks in luxury liners for their first taste of England.

Meanwhile the receptionist Alice has fallen for the charming Thompson from accounts, but fate, Hollywood, two wars and the staff and guests all play a part in this love story which spans 60 years.

Once Upon at Time at the Adelphi has an original score original and it won Best Musical Production in the 2008 TMA Awards, and was nominated for Best Regional Production in last year’s Awards.
The cast for Adelphi are Marc Antolin, Emily Barlow, Emma Barr, Jamie Birkett, Benjamin Bond, Lucyelle Cliffe, Nicholas Collier, Paddy Crawley, Joanna Goodwin, Jon-Paul Hevey, Ally Holmes, Rebecca Hutchinson, Rudi Last, Lucinda Lawrence, Matt Markwick, Jodie Michaels, Matthew Naegeli, Lindsay Scigliano and Will Stokes.

It will be directed by Phill Willmott and designed by Charlie Cridlan, with musical supervision by Elliot Davis, choreography by Andrew Wright, musical direction by Michael Bradley and costumes by Geraldine Spencer.

Wednesday, February 24

Andrew Lloyd Webber extends Universal contract to 40 years

Andrew Lloyd Webber has renewed his record contract with Universal to make it one of the longest continuous deals in the music world.

The deal covers digital and CD sales, publishing rights for film, TV and advertising. It will encompass his entire back catalogue which includes the original Jesus Christ Superstar album originally released in 1970.

The composer has signed a new long term contract ahead of his eagerly awaited Phantom follow up Love Never Dies, which is currently previewing at the Adelphi Theatre.

Lloyd Webber's music has sold in the tens of millions over the past forty years with Phantom of the Opera alone having exceeded 20 million.  Other hit productions have included Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Cats.

Tuesday, February 23

Robin Cousins is new Teen Angel in Grease

Robin Cousins will be swapping the ice rink for the West End stage when he joins Grease playing Teen Angel on 29th March. Toby Anstis is playing the role until 20th March. 

The former Olympic champion and Dancing on Ice judge will guest star for a limited season until 19th June at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Robin is a gifted choreographer with ice interpretations of The Wizard of Oz, Starlight Express and Disney's Toy Story. Away from the ice, Robin has appeared in Cats, The Rocky Horror Show (in the West End) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. He is currently commentating for the BBC on figure skating at the Winter Olympics and will return as head judge to the ice panel of Dancing on Ice this weekend.

Technical problem at first preview of Love Never Dies

The reason the large musicals always enter into a period of previews before the all too important opening night was clearly illustrated by the first preview of the of Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies.

The musical came to a grinding halt within the first five minutes when there was a problem with the stage revolve at the Adelphi Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber quickly ran up the stalls aisle to stop the show while the problem was fixed. The audience was asked to remain in their seats and director Jack O'Brien went on stage and told them that all would be well. The show started up again with Liz Robertson continuing with the opening scene.

There were a few tiny problems with the trapeze artists but leading lady Sierra Boggess who had been ill and missed dress run was in top form.  As was Ramin Karimloo who certainly delivered.

The audience gave the show a standing ovation and Andrew Lloyd Webber said “It's halfway there” with the usual tweaking and tightening up needing to be done.  You only have to witness the reaction from the departing audience to see that it’s going to be another great hit for the composer, which he deserves with his great passion for musical theatre and his desire for perfectionism

Sunday, February 21

Sierra Boggess pulls out of dress rehearsal for Lloyd Webber's “Love Never Dies”

The leading lady of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies could not perform at the final dress rehearsal on Saturday after she fell ill with flu.

American actress Sierra Boggess plays Christine in Love Never Dies and previews are due to start at the Adelphi Theatre on Monday 22nd February. The £8million show is the sequel to the Phantom of the Opera with the masked mystery man now living in Coney Island in New York where he now runs a funfair.

The understudy Celia Graham (pictures) stepped into Miss Boggess's shoes for the performance and according to Andrew Lloyd Webber gave a stunning performance.  This is quite remarkable because before a show opens the understudy is usually not completely au fait with the role, but Miss Graham was:  even though her costumes were not ready and she had to perform in a white underskirt!

She earned a standing ovation from Lloyd Webber, director Jack O'Brien and  the show's crew. Ramin Karimloo, who plays the Phantom, handed her a bouquet of white roses.

Lloyd Webber said he hoped that Sierra Boggess would be well enough to perform on Monday.

Ramin Karimloo Fabulous in Love Never Dies

I’ve just seen the preview of Ramin Karimloo’s single Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies.

He has a very mature voice with a great vocal range  which means he can deliver the powerful ballad in a way that must please ALW enormously. And apart from that he is broodingly handsome and very easy on the eye! 

I must say everything I have heard about this show is good and having watched this I certainly am looking forward to its opening.

Love Never Dies starts previewing at the Adelphi Theatre on Monday 22nd February.  It tells the story of the Phantom of the Opera ten years on (played by Karimloo) when he has moved to Coney Island.

Love Never Dies opens on March 9th, the day after the soundtrack album is released.

Saturday, February 20

Lloyd Webber Speaking to Wogan about Love Never Dies

With the first preview of “Love Never Dies” cancelled and the first one now due on Monday 22nd February at the Adelphi Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber is talking to Terry Wogan on his  BBC Radio 2 show Weekend Wogan this Sunday 21st February between 11:00 and 13:00.

Twelfth Night the Musical at Bridewell Theatre

A musical version of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is playing at the Bridewell Theatre in City of London at lunch time from 23rd Feb to 19th March 2010. (Monday – Friday at 1:00 pm -length 45mins)

It is a very different take on one the Bard’s  great comedies turning it into a grand 1930’s musical.  It tells the story of what happened when Shakespeare meets the Golden Age of  Hollywood.  Classics include “Cheek to Cheek”, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.

Artists appearing include Aileen Gonsalves, Susan Bracken, Jennifer Monaco, Nick Danan, Brendan Lovett, Jack Lewis, Ian Mairs, Edward Hulme

Friday, February 19

Sweet Charity on the Move

As mentioned in my previous blog  Tamzin Outhwaite and the cast of Sweet Charity are moving from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Theatre Royal Haymarket.  They close at the Menier on 7th March and start previewing at the Haymarket on April 23rd,opening on 4th May.  It is now booking until 8th January 2011.

Rehearsals for the transfer start on 16th April as the actors will need to adapt to the new, larger space. Also there might be the odd cast change, but most of the principal cast members are due to transfer with the show.

Lily Allen to appear in West End Musical

Apparently Lily Allen wants to combine her love of music with acting as is interested in appearing in a West End Musical.

She is rumoured to have signed up to appear on the London stage this summer  in a production of Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty which  tells the tale of  four young working class friends and lovers who become increasingly dissatisfied with their dead-end lives and each other.

Be interesting to see how she copes with the discipline of 8 performances a week!

New Judges Announced for Lloyd Webber’s Over the Rainbow

Following the news yesterday that Denise Van Outen and John Barrowman will not be judges on the new reality show to find Dorothy in a new production of the Wizard of Oz, it has now been announced that Charlotte. Church, Sheila Hancock and John Partridge will be helping him in his search. Graham Norton will return as host of the Saturday night show, which is scheduled for the Spring on BBC1

Actor John Partridge is best known for playing gay Christian Clarke in EastEnders, but also appeared in Cats in the West End.

Charlotte Church began her career as a classical singer when she was still at school, and released a recording of Pie Jesu which was written by Andrew.

Sheila Hancock brings a wealth of experience to the judging panel having appeared in many stage and TV shows.  She is currently playing Mother Superior in Sister Act at the London Palladium.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said he thought that "each member of the panel brings something new and exciting which will take Over the Rainbow even further than the previous shows".

The search for Dorothy has already begun as auditions are taking place in cities across the UK.

Is Andrew Lloyd Webber Abbey Road’s Saviour?

Andrew Lloyd Webber may buy the iconic Abbey Road recording studios who have been hit by debts of over three billion.

It was first made famous by The Beatles on their Abbey Road album and Lord Lloyd Webber is in talks over the North London building owned by music company EMI as it is a place he has mixed memories of.  The composer first recorded at the St John's Wood site with Tim Rice in 1967 and was mixing work for his new Phantom sequel Love Never Dies there when his battle against cancer began last year. The soundtracks for Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express and Evita were all made there.

A spokesman has said: "Andrew is very interested in buying Abbey Road Studios. He thinks it vital the studios are saved for the future of the music industry in the UK."

There have been calls for the National Trust to buy it and Radio 2’s Chris Evans has urged Sir Paul McCartney to save Abbey Road "for the nation".  EMI who bought the studios in 1929 have refused to comment.

Sondheim Season at Donmar Warehouse

To mark Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday in March, the Donmar Warehouse will present a season of the composer's work alongside the already announced production of "Passion” which  reunites director Jamie Lloyd with Argentinean actress Elena Roger playing Fosca. Sondheim said: "There is no venue, or team of artists, that I would rather have produce the piece."

Lloyd has spoken with Sondheim and Lapine and that the most obvious change will  be  to re-orchestrate the score for the Donmar’s space.There will be a cast of 15 and the hunt is currently on to find an actor who can play Giorgio who is the soldier Fosca is obsessed with.

On 16th September Sondheim at the Donmar will feature  Michael Grandage and Sam Mendes in conversation about staging Sondheim at the Donmar.

Other events will include "In Conversation"  with Sondheim  which will be a 50 minute event on October 11th before a Passion performance,  plus concert performances of previous Donmar productions "Company" on 31st October  and "Merrily We Roll Along" on 7th November.

The "In Conversation" comes recommended by me as I heard him talking by Jeremy Sams at a National Theatre platform many years ago and he is a really entertaining and fascinating man to listen to.

Thursday, February 18

Latest info on Paradise Found at Menier Chocolate Factory

The Menier Chocolate Factory has just announced their Spring/Summer season with more details of the new musical Paradise Found.

Harold Prince and Susan Stroman will direct a cast straight from New York including Mandy Patinkin, Kate Baldwin, John Cullum, Shuler Hensley and Judy Kaye in the world premiere of Paradise Found.

The musical tells the story of the Shah of Persia who is feeling low so to cheer himself up heads to Vienna with his Eunuch (Mandy Patinkin) in tow is search of new adventures. He promptly falls in love with the Empress of the Empire, much to the dismay of her husband.  A prostitute who is a double for the Empress is substituted for a night of passion but she’s in love with a Baron, who’s having an affair with the Soap Manufacturer’s Wife….  Following it so far?  ….

Based on the novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Joseph Roth and set to the music of Johann Strauss, Paradise Found will run from 19th May - 26th June at Menier Chocolate Factory.

John Barrowman and Denise Van Outen not going Over The Rainbow

Both John Barrowman and Denise Van Outen have been dropped from Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest BBC talent show searching for Dorothy and Toto to appear in his new production of The Wizard of Oz.

Actor and singer John Barrowman, who has appeared on all of Lord Lloyd Webber's shows, will not be appearing in the show due to other commitments.

But days before filming starts Miss Van Outen was allegedly told she could not be a judge on Over The Rainbow because she is six months pregnant with her first child. She will be replaced on the panel by Charlotte Church, who is 12 years her junior.

The decision will plunge the corporation into a fresh sexism row as her little girl is not due until May and the show starts in March.

A BBC spokesman said: “Over The Rainbow is a brand new show for BBC1 with a completely new line-up of judges. None of the other five previous judges will be taking part. We expect to be revealing the new judging line up in the next few days”.

A source at the BBC said Miss Van Outen may be included in the show in some way.

Wednesday, February 17

A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim Side by Side

A concert entitled A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim Side by Side will be held at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Saturday 10th April 2010 at 19:30 

It will feature Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis with soloists Mary Carewe and Graham Bickley.

Stephen Sondheim is the undisputed king of the American musical and fellow New Yorker Carl Davis leads this 80th birthday tribute with music spanning Sondheim's career including classics from Send in the Clowns, A Little Night Music, West Side Story, Gypsy and Sweeney Todd.

For more information contact:

Shirley Jones at Dress Circle on Saturday 20th March

Called the  "the first lady of American song" by Bob Hope, Hollywood and Broadway leading lady Shirley Jones will be at Dress Circle in Monmouth Street on Saturday 20th March at 1.45pm  to sign copies of her album " Then and Now"

She is due to make her debut in the UK and London’s West End performing her solo show Shirley Jones in Concert at the Arts Theatre from 22nd March to 3rd April 2010.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein cast virtually unknown Miss Jones  as Laurie in the 1955 movie version of Oklahoma! She appeared in the films The Music Man and Carousel and won the 1960 Academy Award for Elmer Gantry. She was the matriarch of The Partridge Family and has appeared on Broadway in South Pacific, Maggie Flynn and 42nd Street.

Trevor Nunn to direct Aspects of Love at Menier

Trevor Nunn is to direct a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Aspects of Love" at London's Menier Chocolate Factory.

This will be the first major London revival of the 1987 show which has book and lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart. It begins performances at the Menier on July 3rd and runs until September 11th, with casting still to be announced.

Other collaborations Nunn has had with Lloyd Webber include "Cats," "Starlight Express," "Sunset Boulevard" and "The Woman in White."

Peter Andre to play Danny Zuko in Grease?

Rumour has it that Peter Andre is in discussion to take on the leading role of Danny Zuko (the character made famous on film by John Travolta)  in the long running musical Grease in London’s West End.

Andre is a huge fan of the show and at a recent visit told the cast that he would love to join them . He loves the character of Danny and is confident that he will be able to play him but his diary is pretty full at the moment so it won`t  be until next year.

The show at London's Piccadilly Theatre currently features former Hear'Say singer Noel Sullivan as Danny

42nd Street at Chichester Festival

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its season today and the rumours are correct and 42nd Street will be playing there from 12th June-18th August.

The production will be directed by the fabulous Paul Kerryson with Julian Kelly assisting as Musical Director.

42nd Street was a Tony Award Winner for Best New Musical when it premiered in 1980. The show was produced in London in 1984 (winning an Olivier Award for Best Musical) and its 2001 Broadway revival again won a Tony for Best Revival..  It is pure showbiz with great choreography and one show-stopping number after another.

42nd Street is the inspiring story of small town girl Peggy Sawyer’s meteoric rise from the chorus line to Broadway star.

It is fully of great Broadway numbers including  Lullaby Of Broadway, We’re In The Money, Keep Young And Beautiful, I Only Have Eyes For You and, of course 42nd Street.

You can find out more at

Tuesday, February 16

Sister Act 2010 Nun Run

Sister Act The Musical and the charity Barnardo's launched London's first ever Nun Run last year.  It was a great success with a thousand nuns running round the capital raising over £30,000.

Nun Run 2010 has been announced and  will take place on 2nd May 2010, once again to raise money for Barnardo's. The run will begin at 10:00:  with registration from 08.30.  Entry is just £20 which includes your nun costume to keep and a donation to Barnardo's.

It will start on Potters Fields next to City Hall on the South Bank and make a short loop around Shad Thames going under and then over Tower Bridge. It will pass historic landmarks including The Tower of London and St. Paul’s before crossing the river and returning past Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern.

This is the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and there will be live performances from the cast of Sister Act (currently appearing at the London Palladium)  and Barnardo's children's choir before and after the run. This is a really great day out for all the family.  You can sign up for the Nun Run here

Ruthie Henshall playing Roxie Hart for another two months

Ruthie Henshall has just announced she is to extend her current London run of Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre for another two months until 18th April because “Every single night is a blast and I love the role of Roxie as an older woman”.

Anna Jane Casey has returned to the production to play Velma Kelly, and Terence Maynard returns on 1st March to play Billy Flynn.

Trevor Nunn returning to Menier Chocolate Factory

Trevor  Nunn is due to return to  the Menier Chocolate Factory later this year to direct another production which could well be another Sondheim musical to mark the composer's 80th birthday in March.

This would follow his award-winning revival of A Little Night Music last year which is currently running on Broadway with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury.

His new production is  likely to open in July, following Hal Prince and Susan Stroman's new musical Paradise Found which begins previews on 19th May and stars Mandy Patinkin

Priscilla Heading for Broadway

At Sunday’s Awards Concert Gary McQuinn who is the producer of Priscilla Queen of the Desert confirmed  the Australian musical is planning a Broadway transfer in 2011.

Priscilla opened at London's West End Palace Theatre last March and won a Awards  for Best Set Designer (Brian Thomson) and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Oliver Thornton).

The company,  including Jason Donovan and Tony Sheldon, closed the ceremony very colourfully with renditions of “Colour My World” and “I Will Survive”.

Elaine Paige appearing at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

The line-up has been revealed for this year’s  Cheltenham Jazz Festival  with names including Jamie Cullum, Paloma Faith, Elaine Paige, Sir Michael Parkinson, Curtis Stigers, Buddy Greco, Stewart Lee and Craig Charles.

The Festival offers six days of jazz, blues, pop, club and world music from April 28th to May 3rd.

Elaine Paige will be presenting two gala performances on 28th and 29th April in the beautiful surroundings of The Daffodil restaurant which once a 1930s art deco cinema. Her performance will feature a range of classic jazz songs and contemporary numbers with a jazz twist. Ticket prices  include three-course dinner and champagne on arrival

On Friday 30th April there is a celebration of the Rat Pack as Sir Michael Parkinson Presents a special live edition of  Friday Night is Music Night: Sinatra with the BBC Concert Orchestra,  Buddy Greco and Curtis Stigers performing numbers from the Frank Sinatra songbook. 

More booking information can be found at:

Latest Casting News for Priscilla Queen of the Desert

John Bowe will be taking over the role of Bob from Clive Carter in Priscilla Queen of the Desert with effect from 8th March 2010.

Bowe has some impressive TV credits including George Marlow in “Prime Suspect”, Duggie Ferguson in “Coronation Street” and Dr Morgan in “The Cranford Chronicles”. Theatre credits include “Terms of Endearment”, “The Lady from the Sea” and many productions for the RSC including Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It and Hamlet.

The show is playing at the Palace Theatre to packed houses and the cast now confirmed from 8th March are Jason Donovan (Mitzi/Tick), Don Gallagher (Bernadette), Oliver Thornton (Felicia/Adam), John Bowe (Bob), Portia Emare (Diva), Emma Lindars (Diva), Charlotte Riby (Diva), Newley Aucutt (Miss Understanding), Yvette Robinson (Marion), Steven Cleverley (Farrah and Young Bernadette), Daniele Coombe (Shirley), Tristan Temple (Jimmy), Kanako Nakano (Cynthia), John Brannoch (Frank)

Friday, February 12

Michael Ball Dancing On Ice this Sunday

West End performer Michael Ball is acting as a judge for Dancing on Ice this Sunday when he stands in for head honcho Robin Cousins who is on Winter Olympics duty with the BBC for the next two weeks. His participation in the show will be officially unveiled on tonight's Dancing On Ice spin-off show fronted by Ben Shephard and Coleen Nolan.

Even though Michael isn't an ice dancer, he has had loads of theatre experience and will be judging the contestants on performance skills.

When his judging is over Michael Ball is rejoining the cast of Hairspray for some of the tour dates when it  kicks off at the millennium Centre in Cardiff on 30th March. 

Love Story to be produced at Chichester

The tear jerker film Love Story starring Ali McGraw, Ryan O'Neal is being turned into a play with music by Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark to run at the Minerva at Chichester in late May this year.

Goodall has written the score and worked on the lyrics with Clark and Director Rachel Kavanagh has begun casting for the production which will start rehearsals in April.

Andy Williams’ Where Do I Begin was the movie's soundtrack and it will be interesting to see how Goodall's score compares.

New Hal Prince/Susan Stroman Paradise Found musical opening at Menier Chocolate Factory

Paradise Found is now definitely going ahead at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Broadway star Mandy Patinkin will lead the jointly-directed Hal Prince and Susan Stroman production which will run  from May 19th until  June 26th. The show is based on Joseph Roth's novel The Tale Of The 1002nd Night which is about a visit the Shah of Persia made to Europe in 1873.
Patinkin will play the Shah's eunuch and more casting is expected to be announced shortly.

The music is by Johann Strauss Jr, which has been orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick with a book by Richard Nelson and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh.

Harder They Come Jimmy Cliff reggae musical to tour UK

The Harder They Come is reggae musical based on the iconic 1972 film which launched Jimmy Cliff. It is the first genuine black Caribbean musical to be staged in the UK and tells the story of a country boy who heads for the bright lights of Kingston, Jamaica with high hopes of becoming a reggae star.  The  harsh reality of the music scene drives him into life as an outlaw, but he would rather die than give up his dream.

The songs that made the movie so unforgettable include You Can Get It If You Really Want, Many Rivers To Cross, Higher and Higher, Rivers of Babylon and The Harder They Come - all performed live by a reggae band.
It was launched at the Theatre Royal Stratford East four years ago, has been in the West End and is now to tour the UK this summer starting at Nottingham Playhouse on 14th May.

After Nottingham it will visit Birmingham Hippodrome, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Northampton Derngate, the New Wimbledon Theatre, The Lowry, Oxford Playhouse and the Cardiff New Theatre.

Thursday, February 11

Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies cancels its first preview

Love Never Dies  has cancelled its first preview on February 20th sending the following note to ticket holders:

"It is with great regret that we have taken the early decision to cancel the first preview of Love Never Dies at The Adelphi Theatre on February 20th. This complex show is half way through its technical production period, as we write this letter, and it is clear that we need the two extra days' work which will take us to Monday February 22nd. We are not, at this time, behind schedule and everything is looking extremely promising. Planning ahead, however, it is clear we would only be able to present an exhausted company on stage at the end of next week and, possibly, a show still not in a technically safe and secure state. Rather than spring this on you at the last minute, we have taken an early decision to cancel.

Most other previews are already heavily sold, but as a precautionary measure we have held back seats for the performances on Friday March 5th and Monday March 8th for customers who have been affected.

We are aware that many of the audience who planned to see the show on February 20th bought tickets explicitly because it would have been the first public performance. This, of course, has an inbuilt risk to it, as it is not infrequent that the plan of a new show's arrival is knocked off course by technical demands. We are, nevertheless, very sorry to disappoint those who hoped to see the first performance. We will try to keep to schedule over the next ten days and aim for a dress rehearsal on February 20th. We fervently hope that we may be sufficiently prepared for this to be a public dress rehearsal. If we can do that, we will contact you by Friday evening February 19th and you will be most welcome to join us for that special occasion as well as having your preview seats re-booked. You will appreciate that this is an ambition and an aim and we cannot guarantee it, but maybe you can will us along."

The World Premiere of  Love Never Dies will take place on 9th March at London's  Adelphi Theatre. Previews now begin on 22 February and the show will subsequently open in New York on 11th November 2010 and then in Australia in 2011.

Performers from Stomp to appear in C4 comedy gala

Alan Carr, Bill Bailey, David Mitchell, Jo Brand, Michael McIntyre, Jonathan Ross, Lee Evans, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones and Jack Dee and Omid Djalili are lined up to take part in Channel 4’s Comedy Gala  which is a one-off live comedy event being organised by C4 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.  It will be held at the O2 Arena on 30th March and broadcast on TV the following month.

It will feature performers from the dance musical Stomp which is currently on at the Ambassadors Theatre and is being described as the “biggest live stand-up show in history” as it will be staged in front of 14,000 people at the O2 Arena.

Tickets go on sale from tomorrow at the 02.

Scott Alan to appear live at the Delfont Room

The young American songwriter Scott Alan is returning to London for a single  concert live at the Delfont Room at the Prince of Wales Theatre at 23:00  on Saturday 13th March 2010.

His show is called “Just me, and a piano, and him, and her...”, and will feature Alan and  two West End stars. As well as several recordings, his work includes the musicals Detour and Piece.

Book tickets at:

New Cabaret Shows at Menier Chocolate Factory

The Menier Chocolate Factory is presenting Hannah Waddingham in cabaret with six performances from 16th-20th March at 20:00 every night plus a late show on Saturday 20th March at 23:00.

Miss Waddingham has been nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance as Desiree Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s musical A Little Night Music which was directed by Trevor Nunn and opened at the Menier before transferring to the Garrick Theatre last year.  It is now playing on Broadway starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury.

Her other impressive theatre credits include The Lady of the Lake in Monty Python’s Spamalot, Suzanne Valadon in Charles Aznavour’s Lautrec, Christine Warner in The Beautiful Game, Satan in Tonight’s the Night, Fay Hubbard in A Chorus of Disapproval, Nikki Wade in Bad Girls the Musical, Rizzo in Grease, The Shimmy Girl in Smokey Joe’s Café and Rose in The Likes of Us (Sydmonton Festival).

Hannah Waddingham will be accompanied by a six piece band and her repertoire will include swing, pop and jazz with musical direction by Chris Walker. The show will be recorded live for an album to be released later this year

To book tickets contact:

Wednesday, February 10

Latest on new musical by Pete Townshend from The Who

The new musical being penned by Pete Townshend from The Who is called Floss and is about an equestrian. It was completed last November and he and has been recording the music ever since and doing demos since early December.

Townshend believes some of the tracks would work well as new numbers for The Who. He has written about 10 songs so far and thinks Roger Daltrey might enjoy singing some of them.

Sweet Charity to transfer to Haymarket Theatre?

Strong rumours are suggesting that the Menier Chocolate Factory's acclaimed revival of Sweet Charity, starring Tamzin Outhwaite will now transfer to the Haymarket Theatre.

It was originally thought that it would transfer into the Wyndham's Theatre but instead Avenue Q is going there when it finishes its run at the Gielgud Theatre on 13th March to make way for Cameron Mackintosh’s Broadway transfer of Hair which previews on 1st April and opens on the 14th.

Waiting for Godot finishes at the Haymarket on 3rd April and Sweet Charity closes at the Chocolate Factory on 7th March so the dates certainly work.

Tuesday, February 9

Dancing in the Streets Tour Dates

Dancing in the Streets is continuing on its countrywide tour until May after spending three years in London's West End. This is Motown at its best in Ivor Novello award winning director Keith Strachan's production of the hit show. 

Tamla Motown was responsible for producing some of the world's best and most influential songs of the 20th century. The Dancing in the Streets company of singers, dancers and band will have you dancing in the aisles with classic hits including I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Baby Love , My Girl,  Dancing in the Streets, Where Did Our Love Go, Reach Out I'll Be There,  Stop In the Name of Love, You Can't Hurry Love, Tears of a Clown and  Tracks of My Tears.

These were all numbers made famous by artists like The Four Tops, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Ritchie, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and Maratha Reeves and the Vandellas.

For full details of the remaining tour dates click on the links above.

Alexander Hanson Receives Olivier Award Nomination for Sondheim Revival

West End performer Alexander Hanson,  who is currently in the Broadway Revival of Stehpen Sondheim's  “A Little Night Music” with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, has received an Olivier Award nomination for “Best Actor in a Musical or Entertainment” for his performance in Trevor’s Nunn’s production.

The Sondheim score features one of the composer's best-known songs, “Send in the Clowns,” as well as “Every Day a Little Death,” “The Miller’s Son” and “A Weekend in the Country.”

The show opened to critical acclaim at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in November 2008 and subsequently transferred to the West End where it played for a limited season at the Garrick Theatre before travelling across the Pond.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s Musicals make £26million

Theatre boss Sir Cameron Mackintosh picked up a massive £26million last year as his West End musicals managed to defy the credit crunch.

One reason given was that although the public were cutting back on hoildays and travel, they were still treating themselves to the occasional night out, and with Sir Cameron's tried and trusted shows they knew what they were getting for their hard earned money.

Takings from musicals including Mary Poppins and Oliver! jumped 20% to £32.3m in the year to April 2009. Sir Cameron was paid £2.2m and he pocketed a £4m dividend - as well as a special dividend of £20m, which he lent back to the company.

West End Performers in Concert for Haiti Earthquake Appeal

West End musical actors appear in concert performing Snappy Title: From the Heart which is a collection of songs selected from a variety of new musicals.

The concert will be  held at London's Pigalle Club on Sunday 21st February and the charity performance is in aid of the Haiti Earthquake Appeal and Mercury Musical Developments.

The performers who are all donating their time include Louise Dearman (soon to take over as Glinda in Wicked) and Sarah Lark (seen in the TV search "I'd Do Anything"), as well as Rob Archibald, Lucy May Barker, Gina Beck, Gerard Bentall, Richard Dempsey, Kirsty Hoiles, Cassidy Janson, Jon Lee, Jenna Lee James, Jeremy Legat, Lucy Mills, Martin Neely, Verity Quade and Jonathan Williams.

To book tickets, visit the box office at