Thursday, September 30

Ray Quinn extends role in Dirty Dancing

Ray Quinn was due to leave the part of Billy Kostecki in the West End production of Dirty Dancing on 27th November to play Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk  with his girlfriend Emma Stephens in Northampton over Christmas.

But due to public demand he will continue performing at the Aldwych Theatre until May 28th 2011 taking a short break over Christmas for his panto.  During that time he will be replaced by Will Breckin before returning on January 17th.

Gareth Gates to play Marius in London production of Les Miserables

Gareth Gates has been playing Marius in the tour of Les Miserables which ends its run at the Barbican this weekend. 

He is now due to play the part in the London production of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre from 18th October to 20th November when he leaves to do the panto Snow White with Claire Sweeney at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

When the panto ends he will return to take over from the current Marius Alistair Brammer at the end of January until the next cast change.

Apparently when Gareth auditioned for the part last year and was offered the choice of the West End version or tour the new version which he opted for.

Stomp on short UK Tour

Stomp the musical is in its 8th year at the Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End and booking until next April. 

But it is also doing a short UK tour visiting Woking New Victoria Theatre (19th-24th October), Milton Keynes Theatre (26th- 30th October) and Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (2nd -7th November).

Stomp is a fusion of percussion, movement and comedy which transforms everyday junk and clutter into infectious rhythm. Eight performers use everything from Zippo lighters, plastic bags, bin lids and even the kitchen sink to hammer out an explosively feel good rhythm.

Dreamboats & Petticoats adds 12 months to booking period

Bill Kenwright's production of Dreamboats & Petticoats ran for four months in London’s West at the Savoy Theatre and then transferred into the Playhouse Theatre in January of this year. 

The “feel good” musical features some of the greatest hit songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era and stars Tony Christie of "Is This The Way to Amarillo?" fame.

It has now extended its booking period by 12 months to 26th November 2011.

There is also a tour of Dreamboats & Petticoats which at the moment is booking to 4th December 2010.

Camilla Kerslake replaced at Les Mis 02 Arena Concert by Katie Hall

Gary Barlow’s protégée and classically trained singer Camilla Kerslake has played Cosette at the Queen’s Theatre for a short period and was due to play her again at the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the 02 Arena this Sunday, 3rd October. 

She is now indisposed and unable to perform, and the part of Cosette will be played by Katie Hall who is currently performing the role in the UK tour which is about to end its run at the Barbican.

Katie got as far as boot camp in BBC's search for Nancy in I'd Do Anything and was one of the finalists in Andrew Lloyd Webber's search for his Eurovision entry in Your Country Needs You.

Katie has understudied the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre, playing the role on a number of occasions. She then played Cosette in Les Misérables in London’s West End before joining the tour.

Wednesday, September 29

More dates added to Blues Brothers tour

More dates have been added to the tour of Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers and it is now booking until April 2011.

Extra dates include Wimbledon, Birmingham, Sunderland, Cardiff and Aylesbury.

This new tribute features original cast members from the West End along with all the favourite numbers including Everybody, Shake Ya Tail Feather, Sweet Home Chicago, Think, Respect, Gimme Some Loving and many more.

To find our more visit our page on the Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers

Priscilla's Ben Richards on the Wright Stuff this Friday

Ben Richards is currently playing Tick in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.  He will be appearing on the panel on the Wright Stuff on Channel 5 this Friday, 1st October, from 09:15am

The Wright Stuff is a chat show hosted by Matthew Wright. The format is based on the more traditional radio phone-in, featuring well-known guests discussing topical issues and encouraging contributions from the studio and television audiences, text messages, e-mails and a phone vote

News on Betty Blue Eyes

According to Anthony Drewe (of Stiles & Drewe) their new musical Betty Blue Eyes (which is based on Alan Bennett's A Private Function) will have an "animatronic pig" on stage instead of a live one (which would be fraught with danger!). It will work in the way the dinosaurs did in Walking in Dinosaurs.  They were very realistic and if the pig is anything like their quality it will seem like it's real.

Seems like Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire are definitely signed up with Anne Emery (Grandma in Billy Elliot) and Andy Mace (Dad/Winthrop/Reporter in Legally Blonde) leaving their respective shows to start rehearsals in January for the production to open at the Novello Theatre in the early Spring next year.

This news is still "unofficial" and should be treated as such until the confirmation announcement is made by the producers, as we all know how quickly things can change in musical theatre!

Tuesday, September 28

Departure Lounge Cast Signing CD & Performing at Dress Circle

Chris Fountain, Verity Rushworth, Jack Shalloo, Liam Tamne and Steven Webb are starring in the new musical Departure Lounge which starts previews tonight at Waterloo East Theatre.

They will be at Dress Circle in London’s Monmouth Street between 12:30-1:30 pm on Saturday 9th October to sign copies of the new original cast recording of the show as well as performing a few numbers. 

They will also be giving away two tickets for the Matinee Performance that day.

Louise Dearman in Concert at Leicester Square Theatre

Don't forget Louise Dearman is in Concert at Leicester Square Theatre on 7th November.

She is currently playing the good witch Glinda in the musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Oliver Tompsett and Laura Michelle Kelly to play Ghost leads?

Rumours are getting stronger that Oliver Tompsett (Fiyero in Wicked) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins) are playing Sam and Molly (played in the film by Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore) in the Musical Ghost.

Both musical theatre stars have been involved in workshops of the musical.  

The first bit of confirmed casting news is that the fabulous and larger than life Sharon D Clarke will play the fake medium Oda Mae Brown, which Whoopi Goldberg played in the film version.

Ghost the Musical moves into the Piccadilly Theatre after opening at Manchester Opera House next summer.

Monday, September 27

Jessie Buckley in Sounds of Musicals Christmas Festival

BBC’s I’d Do Anything finalist Jessie Buckley will be appearing at The Sound of the Musicals’ Christmas Festival in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall on Thursday 30th December. Other West End musical theatre stars appearing with her include Deborah Myers, James Graeme and Tim Howar.

The show will feature songs from the greatest Broadway and West End musicals including My Fair Lady, Oliver, West Side Story, The Lion King, The Sound of Music, Les Miserables and Mamma Mia.

Book tickets at:

Hannah Waddingham is Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West

I have just heard another bit of casting regarding Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz which is due to start previews next February at the London Palladium.

As well as Danielle Hope playing Dorothy and Michael Crawford playing the Wizard, as previously tipped Hannah Waddingham is to play the Wicked Witch of the West.  Seems Miss Waddingham is making cauldron stirring her speciality as she has just finished playing the Witch in Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre.

The casting of this production is going from strength to strength.  Can't wait to see who's playing the Lion, tin Man and Scarecrow. Rehearsals start in December so more announcements should be forthcoming soon.

More dates added to Spamalot Tour

The tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot is now booking well into 2011.  It spends Christmas at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham with Matthew Kelly playing King Arthur, Jodie Prenger as the Lady of the Lake and Todd Carty as Patsy, before moving on to Llandudno, Southend, Plymouth, Manchester, Sunderland, Aylesbury. Blackpool and Wolverhampton – currently ending there on 30th April 2011.

After Xmas the only bit of casting that has been announced is that Jodie Prenger will be appearing at the Llandudno venue.  Details of who will be playing the role of King Arthur and Patsy are not yet available.

Sunday, September 26

Spamalot’s New Lady of the Lake

The tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot has been receiving rave reviews all over the UK, and up until now two ladies have been sharing the role of Lady of the Lake – Jodie Prenger and Hayley Tamaddon.  This week is the last for Hayley when she will be appearing at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton.

From 18th October ex-Emmerdale actress Amy Nuttall will be playing the role at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Oxford New Theatre, Princes Theatre Torquay, Swan Theatre High Wycombe, Bath Theatre Royal, York Grand Opera House and Milton Keynes up until 4th December

Spamalot then moves into the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham over Christmas where Jodie Prenger will be back playing the role along with Matthew Kelly as King Arthur and Todd Carty as Patsy.

Alexander Hanson leaves A Little Night Music

Alexander Hanson plays his final performance tonight at the Walter Kerr Theatre as Fredrik Egerman in the revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music.

Alexander Hanson originated the role of Fredrik Egerman in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production which was directed by Trevor Nunn and subsequently transferred to Broadway.

In New York his very distinguished leading ladies have included Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch, but after tonight he is heading back across the pond to pursue more projects in the UK.

Saturday, September 25

See Hair’s Gavin Creel in Concert

Gavin Creel has recently been playing Claude in Hair at the Gielgud Theatre and is due to perform three UK concerts next month before he heads back for the States where he is presenting a new show Back to New York at Birdland in November.

Creel had Tony nominations for his performances in Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie, with other musical theatre credits including Bert in the West End production of Mary Poppins and Jean-Michel in the 2004 Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles.

He will perform his UK concerts at: The Komedia in Brighton on October 19th / London’s Jazz Café on October 20th / The Deaf Institute in Manchester October 21st

To buy tickets visit:

Friday, September 24

First preview of Flashdance the Musical cancelled

The first preview of  Flashdance the Musical  should have been tonight (Friday 24th September) but it has been cancelled and Saturday looks unlikely as well as all the complimentary tickets are being  re-allocated to next week.

This is not unusual with such a highly technical  show, but hopefully by Monday it will be ready to roll as the opening night at the Shaftesbury Theatre is not far away on 14th October and these shows normally need to get a few performances under their belt so that they can be tweaked and ready for the critics on press night.

Les Miserables Film full steam ahead

Cameron Mackintosh was in Madrid earlier this week to launch the new production and cast of Les Miserables that will open there in November.

He held a press conference and was asked by a journalist if there was going to be a film of the hugely popular show. Mackintosh's reply was "I signed a contract yesterday. I'm presenting the 02 concert next week with Universal Pictures and it's huge with over 500 in the cast being simultaneously screened to over 1,000 cinemas around the world - including Spain. It's been a long time coming, I originally was going to do it after the Broadway opening but mercifully it didn't happen. No film could have been as successful as Les Miserables has been on stage. But after 25 years it seems a very good time to do it. We'll be working with a screenplay writer over the next few months and hopefully if all that comes together, we will find a great director and get started"

So hopefully a film of Les Miserables will come together in partnership with  Working Title (both Bridget Jones films, 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill, etc, etc) and Universal.

Anita Land in Les Mis 02 Arena Concert

The new version of Les Miserables at the Barbican has received rave reviews today with John Owen-Jones’ Jean Valjean getting special mentions.   But it ends there on 2nd October so you’ve not much time left to catch it.

Cameron Mackintosh’s mammoth spectacular Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the 02 Arena on 3rd October will have a stage full of past and present stars of the show and be transmitted live to cinemas all over the world via satellite.

But the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye will be searching the chorus for Anita Land who is not a musical theatre performer but is so obsessed with Les Miz that she took singing lessons to perform at the 02

Miss Land is a literary and talent agent (Capel & Land) whose client list includes wide range of high-profile and up-and-coming authors and broadcasters.  Her father was the late Leslie Grade and her brother is the powerful Michael Grade who is rumoured to be in negotiation with Lord Lloyd Webber for a number of his theatres.

Legacy Falls “Soap Musical” at New Players Theatre

Legacy Falls is described as a musical and also “a play within a play, soap opera and comedy with some great music with comical  lyrics full of romance, hair-pulling cat-fights, hiring’s and firings, sex scandals, tantrums, deaths and a slightly unrealistic earthquake”.

It is playing at the New Players Theatre in the Arches in Villiers Street from 29th October- 20th November with previews starting 27th October.

Legacy Falls is an expose of all the bitchiness and back-stabbing behind the scenes and in front of the camera on a fictional American daytime soap opera. The main character is gay but can’t admit it with a gay romance as the central theme. There is also a boy-meets-girl sub-plot which reaches an unexpected conclusion.

The cast bringing these characters to life are Amy Anzel, Aimie Atkinson, Ezra Axelrod, Rosalind Blessed, Davis Brooks, Joanne Heywood, Tara Hugo, Mark Inscoe, Tim Oxbrow, Stephen von Screiber, Bart Williams and  Pippa Winslow.

Brixton-based, Bahamas-born Ian Poitier is bringing the show into London. It has been written by James Burn, former Assistant Musical Director of Disney’s “The Lion King” at the Mogador Theatre in Paris. The co-producer is  Danielle Tarento  who co-founded the  Menier Chocolate Factory in 2004 . Her current projects include Smokey Joe's Café at the Landor Theatre, and Frances Ruffelle: Beneath The Dress.

Buy tickets at:

Michael Crawford playing Wizard of Oz at Palladium

Andrew Lloyd Webber's original Phantom of the Opera is returning to the West End Stage.

Michael Crawford is to play the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium which which is currently booking from 7th February to Sunday 4th September 2011. Press night is 1st March.

This reunion of Crawford and Lord Lloyd Webber is 24 years after he played  the Phantom of the Opera in an award-winning role which lasted three years and 1,300 performances.

Crawford last appeared in London's West End seven years ago.  Again this was in a Lloyd Webber production when he played Count Fosco in the Woman In White. 

Crawford has a reputation for being a complete perfectionist so you can be sure his performance and characterisation of the Wizard of Oz will be honed to perfection before the production opens and he will keep on working on it. Well worth seeing!

Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom heading for the stage?

I love the over the top theatricality approach that Baz Luhrmann has to his musical productions, so was delighted to read this morning that he has told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that he has agreed to turn his film Strictly Ballroom into a stage show.

The title Strictly Ballroom has been credited with setting off the television dance show craze which has caused the resurrection of Bruce Forsyth's career.

Apparently Luhrmann is spending four weeks in Sydney from late November up until till Christmas working with Global Creatures productions which has already invested millions in the project including acquiring the theatrical rights. He will be holding a workshop and looking at the show's structure, score and choreography with them.

Global Creatures is the largest animatronic design company in the world and as Luhrmann is saying the show will take some time to get ready and needs a production company who are willing to be patient and spend a lot of money on it. Sounds like another Moulin Rouge!

Strictly Ballroom was Luhrmann’s first film and a great hit at 1992 Cannes Film Festival. Lurhmann wants to direct the production and turn it into something that will “redefine musical theatre” – whatever that means. He said “I don't want to make a show for luvvies! It’s going to be a live stage musical for everyone.”

The timescale is very vague at the moment but with Luhrmann’s current film commitments we must be talking two or three years away

Thursday, September 23

Darius Campbell Big Bands Tour Dates

Darius Campbell’s The History of the Big Bands Tour takes the audience on a musical journey through the Big Band and Swing Era including music from Harry James, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich

The songs of Frank Sinatra are used in the show to support the narrative about the key musicians of the era. His classics are used to link the bands as Sinatra began his career with Harry James before moving on to Tommy Dorsey’s band. Later he recorded with Duke Ellington, Count Basie in Las Vegas and Woody Herman at the Madison Square Gardens.

The next date is at Brighton Theatre Royal on 12th October before it moves on to Wimbledon, Glasgow, Inverness, Darlington, Woking, Manchester, Bromley and Eastbourne where it ends on 4th November

Beauty And The Beast at National Theatre

A new production of Beauty And The Beast will be staged in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre this Christmas. It is suitable for children aged eight and older and runs from 24th November to 5th January 2011 (press night 1st December).

It will be the second children’s Christmas show to be directed there by Katie Mitchell, with her Dr Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat playing there during the last festive season.

She is collaborating with the same creative team as The Cat In The Hat for of Beauty And The Beast, which promises an “explosion” of music, magic and puppets.

This version of the French fairytale has new text by playwright Lucy Kirkwood and music by Paul Clark, with a cast that includes Mark Arends and Justin Salinger – who also appeared in The Cat In The Hat – Sian Clifford, Kate Duchêne, Kristin Hutchinson and Sean Jackson.

You can also find out about other children’s shows over Christmas and pantomimes with musical theatre stars by clicking on the links.

Hannah Waddingham Concert in Barcelona

Hannah Waddingham has just finished playing The Witch at the Open Air Theatre’s production of into the Woods, and is now heading for Barcelona in Spain to do a concert there on October 28th which will also feature three Spanish musical theatre guest artists.

She will be accompanied at the piano by David Randall who is currently the musical director of Closer Than Ever which is receiving rave reviews at the Landor Theatre in London

The concert takes place at 21:30 on the 28th in the Auditori´s Sala Oriol Martorell in Barcelona, so if you fancy a weekend break in this fabulous city you can also take in a concert listening to West End diva Hannah.

Hannah Waddingham has received two Laurence Olivier Award nominations for playing Desiree Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn´s production of A Little Night Music and as Lady of the Lake in Monty Python’s Spamalot.

To book tickets visit:

Ken Hill's Invisible Man at Menier Chocolate Factory over Xmas

Ken Hill’s The Invisible Man will be playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 12th November-13th February 2011.

H G Wells’s classic tale is retold in a comedy music hall spectacular, packed with magical entertainment and illusions. 

The story is set in the rustic village of Iping where local inhabitants recount the mysterious happenings of the week when the very sinister and unsociable Griffin arrived wrapped in bandages.

It features an all star cast including Maria Friedman - Stephen Sondheim Prom, Anna in The King and I, Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd , The Woman in White in the West End and on Broadway, Ragtime, Chicago, Passion and Maria Friedman Re-Arranged: John Gordon Sinclair - Gregory in Gregory’s Girl, Absurd Person Singular, She Loves Me and The Producers: Gary Wilmot - The Wizard of Oz,  Oliver, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Me and My Girl: Natalie Casey - Donna in the BBC’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Oklahoma! and Hobson’s Choice.

Also in the cast are  Christopher Godwin  Teddy Kempner, Jo Stone-Fewings, Gary Wilmot, Michael Beckley, Gerard Carey and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

The story combines tongue-in-cheek humour with jaw-dropping special effects and ingenious illusions by Paul Kieve. Suitable for ages 8+

Book tickets at:

Ghost London Booking Opens today

Don’t forget that booking opens today for Ghost the Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre in London which starts previewing on 22nd June 2011, opening on the 19th July with booking open for performances until 28th January 2012.
 Sharon D Clarke will play the fake medium Oda Mae Brown, which Whoopi Goldberg played in the film version. The creative team are currently on their second week of auditions in New York so there should be more news soon.

Book tickets here for Ghost at the Piccadilly Theatre London

Avenue Q touring next year

Avenue Q ends its run at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London's West End on 30th October, but it’s not the end!

It has just been announced that the production will go on 28 week UK tour starting next February at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 2nd – Saturday 12th February

Tickets on sale from 4th October.

Wednesday, September 22

Sheridan Smith & Jon Boydon performing at Roadhouse Covent Garden

Sheridan Smith from Legally Blonde and Jon Boydon - who has played Galileo in We Will Rock You and is currently playing Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys - are performing with the hot band Bloomfield Avenue at the Roadhouse venue in Covent Garden on Sunday 24th October. 

The doors open at 7:00 pm and entry is free!

For more information on the venue visit:

Sweet Charity to close on 6th November

The Menier Chocolate Factory's production of Sweet Charity starring Tamzin Outhwaite was booking at the Haymarket Theatre until 8th January 2011, but is now closing on 6th November after running there for six months.

David Essex marries Susan Hallam-Wright

David Essex has just finished performing in his musical All the Fun of the Fair at the Garrick theatre in London’s West End.  It was during a tour of this show two years ago that he met Susan Hallam-Wright who he became engaged to at Christmas and has now married.

They tied the knot at St Cross Church in Talybont, outside Bangor on Monday with an intimate service held in front of less than 30 close family members and friends. They picked the 19th century Church in Wales as the bride's grandfather used to be an archdeacon in the area.

Guests then joined the couple to celebrate at a small evening reception at the luxury Tresygawen Hall Hotel at Capel Coch on Anglesey.

David Essex's next appearance on stage is over Christmas in Peter Pan at Darlington Civic Centre.

Christmas with Lee Mead Concert at Coliseum

Lee Mead is currently starring as Fiyero in the Musical Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

It has just been announced today that he is performing a solo concert entitled Christmas with Lee Mead at the London Coliseum on Sunday 19th December at 8:00 pm

Get a little closer to the man behind the voice as Lee chats about his life, his music and career so far. He will be performing  seasonal songs as well as past hits including Any Dream Will Do, Close Every Door, Paint It Black, Kiss and many more numbers specially chosen by him to share with you this Christmas.

His special guests will be Rachel Tucker from Wicked and Niamh Perry from Love Never Dies.

Book tickets from 10:00 am this morning at

Tuesday, September 21

Michael Ball releases tour dates for next year

Michael Ball has just announced dates for a major UK tour in May and June next year.

Michael  is currently sharing the role of Edna Turnblad in the tour of Hairspray the Musical and also is one of the producers of Love Story the Musical which starts previews  at the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End on 27th November.

His brand new show Heros will see Michael performing some of his own hits plus tributes to his own 'Heroes' of the music world..

The Michael Ball Heroes Tour starts at Edinburgh's Usher Hall on May 27th next year and will then play at 12 more dates across the country before closing in Brighton on June 26th.

Tickets go on sale from 09:00 Friday 24th September for the following tour dates:

May 2011
27th Usher Hall, Edinburgh
28th SECC, Glasgow
30th City Hall, Newcastle

June 2011
1st O2 Apollo, Manchester
2nd City Hall, Sheffield
4th Empire Theatre, Liverpool
7th Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
10th Symphony Hall, Birmingham
12th Millennium Centre, Cardiff
17th Guildhall, Portsmouth
18th Colston Hall, Bristol
19th Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
24th Pavilions, Plymouth
26th Brighton Centre, Brighton

New Cher Musical - If I Could Turn Back Time

Writer and director Andy Fickman has confirmed he is putting together a musical theatre production based on the life of singing icon Cher provisionally entitled  If I Could Turn Back Time.

It is not yet known if her songs will appear in the show or if it will feature an original score. Cher is about to appear in the musical movie Burlesque with singer Christina Aguilera (pictured).

Cher is now an amazing 64 and began her singing career in the 1960s as one half of singing duo Sonny and Cher with "I Got You Babe".  She has had numerous chart successes including "If I Could Turn Back Time" and appeared in a number of Hollywood films including The Witches of Eastwick, Silkwood, Mask, Mermaids and Moonstruck.

Craig Revel Horwood to direct tour of musical Spend Spend Spend!

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood  has just directed a tour of the musical Chess which has received rave reviews.

He has just  kick started another musical tour of Spend Spend Spend! at the Watermill Theatre which  starts touring on 27th September at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, 4th October at the Oxford Playhouse, 11th October at the Lowry Quays, 18th October West Yorkshire Playhouse, 25th October Everyman Cheltenham, 1st November Richmond Theatre and 8th November at the New Wolsey in Ipswich.

Spend Spend Spend! is set in the 1960s and based on the true story of downtrodden Yorkshire housewife Viv Nicholson whose life is transformed when she wins over £150,000 on the Castleford football pools (this would be worth around £5M today).

Viv told anyone who would listen that she would “spend, spend, spend” her fortune and the tabloids took great delight in detailing all her purchases fur coats, fast cars and diamonds. But it all turned sour and Viv found herself in trouble with the law, lonely and bankrupt by the mid-Seventies.

Revel Horwood presented Spend Spend Spend! at the Watermill Theatre last year and choreographed the West End version in 1998. This new production has a twelve-strong ensemble who act, sing, dance and play their own instruments and features musical arrangement by Sarah Travis and design by Diego Pitarch.

Shirley Bassey and Tony Christie to sing at Beatles tribute concert

Dame Shirley Bassey will be the headlining act at The Beatles' 50th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 28th October. The event is supporting the Noah's Ark Appeal and the Malta Community Chest Fund.

Dame Shirley will be joined by Tony Christie (currently appearing in Dreamcoats & Petticoats), Beverley Knight, Darius Campbell, the 70-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a 100 member-strong choir at the tribute celebrating the Beatles’ songs which have been given a classical twist.

Beatles aficionado Mike Read  will be presenting the tribute, taking the audience through The Beatles' legendary history.

Further highlights will include performances by Candy Rock, Maria Elena Infantino, Lynn Faure Chircop, Elliott Frisby, James Andrew Arthur, Sherry Davis, The Scarletz, William Owen, Analiza Ching, Maria Abela Manconi, Susan Black and Tony Moore.

Jonathan Ansell in tour of Lark Rise to Candleford

Jonathan Ansell has recently completed a tour of Whistle Down the Wind for Bill Kenwright.  He is now starring in a touring production of Lark Rise to Candleford along with a company of fifteen actors and musicians

The music is by Ashley Hutchings who was the founder of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band. He created the music for the original award-winning National Theatre production is supervising the music for this new revival.

Seen through the eyes of young Laura Timms Lark rise to Candelford  follows a day in the life and relationships of the farm workers, craftsmen and gentry of the fictional hamlet of Lark Rise at the end of the nineteenth century. It starts on  the first day of harvest where the villagers are celebrating with music, song and dance.

The show  is currently at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley and then goes on to visit Blackpool, Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Mold, Southampton, Richmond, Shrewsbury, Aberdeen and Wolverhampton before it ends at the Festival Theatre in Malvern on 11th December.

Musical Theatre Stars in panto

If you want to find out which musical theatre stars are performing in pantomime this year visit our guide which lists all the actors and singers, their pantomime details and tells you how to book tickets.

For example Ray Quinn (currently in Dirty Dancing) will be playing in Jack and the Beanstalk at Northampton, Gareth Gates (Les Miserables) will be in Snow White at Woking,  David Essex is in Peter Pan in Darlington and Brian Conley (Hairspray) in playing Buttons in Cinderella at Cardiff

Monday, September 20

Wicked the musical Halloween fund raising day on 31st October

The musical Wicked which is playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London’s West End has just announced its fifth annual WICKED DAY which is a free family fun day out which raises funds for local environmental causes.

WICKED DAY will take place at London's St Pancras International Station on Sunday 31st October between 12 noon and 4pm. It will feature a host of Wicked and Halloween themed events including live performances from Wicked cast members, face-painting, workshops and activities for everyone.

Funds raised at the event will be donated to the funding of a project between Wicked and the Woodland Trust in support of the charity's "More Trees More Good" Heartwood Forest Appeal which is planting England's largest new forest near St Albans in Hertfordshire.

Wicked and the Woodland Trust will work alongside London Wildlife Trust's Camley Street Natural Park and the New Horizon Youth Centre in Kings Cross which is St Pancras International’s chosen charity to enable young people to experience the natural environment on their doorsteps and at Heartwood Forest.

Kerry Katona to play Emma Bunton in Spice Girls’ Musical?

According to the Daily Star newspaper today wannabe actress Kerry Katona could be set to make her stage debut next year as Baby Spice in the Spice Girls’ Musical Viva Forever.

West End producers say they are lining up Kerry to play Emma Bunton.  Apparently they say she can sing and dance and was a keen fan of the Spice Girls.  But this news is very premature as The Spice Girls get a say in the casting as well.

Miss Katona would certainly attract a lot of pubicity for the new musical!

Kerry started her career in Atomic Kitten as sales began to drop for Spice Girls music.

Lee Mead and Rachel Tucker from Wicked on Michael Ball today

Lee Mead (pictured here playing Fiyero) and Rachel Tucker from the musical Wicked are performing on the Michael Ball Show this afternoon.

Sunday, September 19

Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert to be broadcast to cinemas worldwide

The  sell-out, one-off performance of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the 02 Arena on Sunday 3rd October  is to be seen across the world  after Cameron Mackintosh has reached a deal to beam it via satellite into cinemas as far afield as Japan and Australia. .

Fans that cannot get to see the event live will now be able to enjoy the spectacle (which has a running time of three hours) on the big screen with full surround sound. Most of the UK cinemas I have checked are advertising a showing time of 19:00 on Sunday 3rd October, but double check this at your local cinema.

See a trailer for the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables  and to view which cinemas are showing the concert and to buy tickets for the screening of Les Miserables at at

The O2 spectacular will also feature members of the current West End Les Miserables cast. The touring cast from the Barbican, members of the original cast and special guests including Alfie Boe playing Jean Valjean, Matt Lucas from Little Britain playing Thenadier, Lea Salonga who was the original Kim from Miss Saigon  as Eponine  and Nick Jonas (of Jonas Brothers fame)  playing Marius.

You can pre-order the official DVD which is due for release on 29th November from Amazon here 

Saturday, September 18

Children’s Christmas Shows

There is a great selection of shows for children over the Christmas period.

The Polka Theatre for Children in Wimbledon is presenting Lost and Found which is about a little boy who finds a lost penguin and decides to take it home by rowing to the South Pole.  There are two versions: one for babies and toddlers (aged 1-2 years) and another for children aged 3-5 years.

Also at the Polka is the Snow Queen which is suitable for 6-11 year olds and tells the story of two little girls who were inseparable and did everything together until one very cold night when one of them falls under the spell of the evil Snow Queen and is whisked away on her sleigh to her icy palace far away.

The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford is presenting Matilda a Musical which is Roald Dahl’s story about a little girl with extra special powers.

The Gruffalo is a magical show for children age 3+ adapted from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s popular book.  Join Mouse on a through the deep dark wood. Meet a wheeler-dealer Fox, an eccentric old Owl, a maraca-shaking and a party-mad Snake! Mouse can scare hungry animals away with tall stories of the terrifying Gruffalo, but what happens when he comes face to face with the very creature he imagined...? Showing at the Garrick Theatre.

My Dad's a Birdman is for 5-8 year olds and is showing at the Young Vic Theatre in Waterloo. Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have written the songs for the show which is about a young girl and her father who enter a human flying bird competition.  But Auntie Doreen disapproves and is out to bring some order back to No.2 Lark Rise! Will the father and daughter duo get a chance to fly, or will something get in their way?

You can join Peppa Pig’s Party at the Criterion Theatre and get involved in new Peppa Pig songs, train rides, cake baking and plenty of games for everyone to take part in. The story is all about the little pig Peppa who lives with her brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa Pig's Party is about a special day which she spends with all her friends including Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog and Emily Elephant.

The Snowman is the stage version of Raymond Briggs' much-loved book returns to the Peacock Theatre this Christmas. When a young boy's snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve, the two set off looking for adventure and meet dancing penguins, reindeer and Father Christmas on their travels. The Snowman flies through the night sky above you, before escaping the clutches of the evil Jack Frost to return home for Christmas morning. Age 2+

The Night Before Christmas at the Ambassadors Theatre tells the story of a lovable but naughty elf that is busy in Father Christmas’ workshop wrapping all the presents for delivery.  But what is he hiding and is he secretly keeping some toys for himself. Children at the show will receive a special gift and be able to put their wish-lists into Santa’s post-box. Age: 2+

Bagpuss is paying at the Soho Theatre in Dean Street. It  will featuring all the much-loved characters Emily, the mice, Gabriel the toad, Madeleine the rag doll, the wooden woodpecker and Professor Yaffle. It focuses on young shop owner Emily who restores lost objects to their owners with the help of Bagpuss and friends. Jon Lloyd’s new stage production brings the characters to life by puppetry and song. Age: 7 and under.

A new production of Beauty And The Beast is being staged in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre this Christmas. It will be the second children’s Christmas show to be directed there by Katie Mitchell, with her Dr Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat playing there during the last festive season.  It runs until 5th January. Age 8+

You can see Get Santa at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from 1st  December-22nd January.

It’s Christmas Eve but Holly isn’t happy as all she’s ever wanted is to meet her real Dad and Santa has failed to deliver, bringing lots of useless presents instead. Holly’s had enough and this year she is  going to wait up for Santa and get the only present she’s ever wanted.

This is the beginning of an adventure which includes a very dim elf called Bumblehole, a machine that changes families and a teddy bear with an evil master plan  Get Santa! is written by Anthony Neilson with music by Nick Powell. Suitable for children aged 7+

The streets of Hammersmith are paved with gold this Christmas as Dick Whittington and his Cat are joined by a cake loving Bollywood Prince, the feisty Alice and of course the delightfully delectable Sarah the Cook.
Dick Whittington and –his Cat plays at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith from 27th November,8th January.  It has been written by Joel Horwood & Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. Conceived & Directed by Steve Marmion  Age: 6+

Snow Play at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith invites children into a magical winter wonderland. Winter has arrived early and is sitting in Patrick's house. Snow Play is about Patrick's hilarious attempts to get rid of Mr Winter (and lots and lots of snow) from inside his home.

Children are invited to throw snowballs and decorate a Christmas tree. After the show everyone will be invited to stay and make a treat to take home as a Christmas decoration: uniquely combining performance and play. Snow Play is on from 2nd December- 2nd January.  It is suitable for ages 2- 7 with a running time of 60 minutes

Finally there is a real nostalgic treat in store with a production of The Railway Children which is playing in the old Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo Station.

The Snowman back in London for Christmas

The Snowman is returning to the Peacock Theatre again this Christmas from 1st December-9th January 2011.

The stage version of Raymond Briggs' much-loved book tells the story of a young boy's snowman which comes to life on Christmas Eve and the two set off looking for adventure. On their travels they meet dancing penguins, reindeer and Father Christmas.

The Snowman flies through the night sky above you, before escaping the clutches of the evil Jack Frost to return home for Christmas morning.

The show features Howard Blake's “Walking in the Air” performed by a live orchestra, with choreography from Robert North and directed by Bill Alexander

Tickets at:

Change to Les Miserables' Performance Schedule

The West End cast of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre and the touring cast at the Barbican will not be performing on Friday 1st October.

Both casts will be doing shows on Saturday 2nd October at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. There is no evening performance on that day as they are rehearsing for the 25th Anniversary Concert at the 02 Arena on Sunday 3rd October.

The West End cast’s schedule returns to normal on Monday 4th October, but the touring production ends on Saturday 2nd.

Friday, September 17

Priscilla finds Broadway Home

The production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert  is still running in London's West End at the Palace Theatre, but Priscillabus is also about to go on a worldwide trip. 

The musical will have a 12-week run in Toronto beginning in October before heading for Broadway with previews at the Palace Theater in New York starting  on February 28th 2011.

It stars Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson and Nick Adams as three friends who find love in the Australian outback.

Tour of Grease Announced

As already mentioned, Grease the musical will close its doors after four years at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End on 30th April 2011 to make way for the new musical Ghost for which Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics is supplying the songs.

It will almost immediately begin a national tour opening at the Edinburgh Playhouse on 6th May 2011.  Watch this space for the full touring schedule and cast.

Pet Shop Boys writing songs for My Dad's a Birdman at Young Vic

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe aka the Pet Shop Boys are writing the songs for David Almond's My Dad's A Birdman which is suitable for 5-8 year olds and opens at the Maria Studio at the Young Vic Theatre on November 25th and runs until 1st January 2011.

Almond wrote Kit’s Wilderness and Skellig, which Trevor Nunn staged at the Young Vic and which subsequently became a TV drama.  He is the 2010 winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and twice winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book Award.

My Dad’s a Birdman is about a young girl and her father who enter a human flying bird competition.  But Auntie Doreen disapproves and is out to bring some order back to No.2 Lark Rise! Will the father and daughter duo get a chance to fly, or will something get in their way?

It will be directed by Oliver Mears, artistic director of the Second Movement Opera Company

Book tickets at: