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Theatre blogs

Theatre Blogs

26 May 2022

Theatre Blogs Theatre Blogs
  • Hamlet at Antaeus (review)
    26 May 2022
     Spoilers ahoy!

    Antaeus Theatre Company remains something of a jewel in the Los Angeles Theatre community, a highly (and deservedly) respected group with lots of support and which produced marvelous classic works.  I  have certainly found their shows just lovely, wonderful, touching.

    So they have created some mighty strong expectations.  Which means the current production of Hamlet suffers by comparison.  Unfairly.

    I want to start with the good, which is very good indeed.  This show has literally one of the best Laertes (Michael Kirby) I have ever seen, especially since that remains one of the most difficult roles in the whole play.  Unlike most Shakespeare productions, I understood almost every single sentence spoken--which to be honest is the norm for Antaeus.  Several "lesser" characters were not only good, but excellent such as the Player King (Joel Swetow), and Guildenstern (Sally Hughes).  Also, and this is no small thing, the sword fight was good.  Cannot tell you how much a bad or poorly rehearsed sword fight has ruined many a Hamlet or other play I've attended over the years.  Plus I was genuinely impressed at how this edit retained so much of the play (like Fortinbras!) so often omitted from what is after a very long play.

    This makes it sound like I'm about to damn the rest of the production with faint praise.  No!  Nor will I even praise with faint damnation.  I will simply say--it is not uniformly excellent, while never once stopping anything but a good performance.

    In fact the only solid criticism I have is that the costumes were a little bland.  A little.  Not even solidly bland, just kinda/sorta.

    On a more subtle point, I did not personally feel or perceive any specific theme or idea in the production, especially in the first half of the first Act.  The director's note in the program identifies Hamlet's dilemma in rather boring terms of plot, rather than emotional life of the character.  In the very best productions of this play, I know for sure whether Hamlet (Ramon de Ocampo) and Ophelia (Jeanne Syquia) have slept together.  In this one, I have a strong suspicion only--which still places this above the vast majority of productions.  Likewise I was very impressed with Gertrude (Veralyn Jones), and I thoroughly approve of casting one actor to play both Uncle and Ghost (Gregg T. Daniel).  Polonius (Peter Van Norden) remains the most difficult role in the whole play, and I have still seen only two performances in the role I totally believed.  One of those was Ian Holm.  But this time at least he was genuinely charming, which is a vast improvement.

    All of which boils down to complaints about nuance in a production I think otherwise quite good.  

    Hamlet plays Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, Sundays at 2pm and Mondays at 8pm at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205


  • Interview: Dictating To The Estate
    26 May 2022
    Nathaniel McBride on his new play looking at events prior to the Grenfell Tower Fire

    Dictating To The Estate is Nathaniel McBride‘s play that looks at the housing estate where the Grenfell Tower sits. But it isn’t directly about the fire, but rather the years preceeding it, when the estate underwent major redevleopment. It explores how local resident concerns were ignored and how so many factors came together that would ultimately lead the the tragic fire.

    The play felt important and one we wanted to give plenty of attention to. So as well as this written interview you can also listen to Nathaniel tell us more about it on our Runn Radio podcast here.

    You can also support the production by donating to theie crowdfunding here, this will help finance all production costs and assist the play in reaching a wider audience.

    The play looks at Grenfell pre-fire – what made you want to tackle it from that angle?

    The play is about how the fire came to happen, and that means looking at the events that preceded it. It is often said that the Grenfell Tower fire was avoidable. This is true, but understanding how it came to happen means examining the many acts that could have been taken to avoid it, but weren’t. The play is partly about these: not only acts of omission, but also positive refusals to act, which were taken by wide variety individuals, from government ministers to council officers to building contractors, over an extended period of time.

    And what can you tell us about the sources you used to research your writing?

    The main initial source was the Grenfell Action Group blog, which was kept by Edward Daffarn and Francis O’Connor, two residents living on the estate where Grenfell Tower stood. I was also able to get hold of some minutes of council meetings, as well as its regeneration plans for North Kensington. But the original problem was a general shortage of information.

    This changed when Phase 2 of the public Inquiry came to cover the events dealt with in the play. Suddenly I went from having a relative lack of material to being overwhelmed by it. Among these new documents, the most revealing were the private communications among councillors, council officials and TMO officers, which showed the real attitude they held towards the residents they were supposedly appointed to serve.

    A lot of information came from blogs published prior to the fire, have you tried to use as much of the text verbatim where possible to keep the original words?

    My method is not to add or change any words, but I do edit, often quite rigorously. From a blog post that is several hundred words long I might, for example, use just a couple of dozen words. The issue then becomes one of ensuring the edited text retains something of the essence or intent of the one on which it is based. Whether I have done this successfully will be for others to judge.

    Have you had much involvement with local residents and those affected by the fire itself during the writing and rehearsals for the play?

    We have worked in contact with the residents we represent in the play. We asked their permission to use the evidence they presented to the Inquiry, sent them copies of the script when it was finished, and several have now met the actors who will be playing them. More generally, we have tried to keep all the bereaved and survivors involved in what we’re doing through Grenfell United, the organisation that represents most of them. We held an online reading for them last year, and this year we are holding a special performance for them at the beginning of the theatre run. We are also currently fundraising for a mental health worker to offer support to any audience members who may be affected by the content of the play.

    You’ve clearly tried to highlight that it was not one single thing that caused this tragedy – but do you point a finger of blame at individuals or have you tried to show it was not one event or one person but a series of them?

    What has most clearly come out of the Inquiry is that the failures which made the fire possible were systemic, and extended over a wide range of different institutions. It wasn’t just one thing that failed, but a whole series of things. In saying this, I don’t mean to exonerate the individuals involved,  but my own view is that it was the dysfunctional regulatory and supervisory systems, weakened over many years, that probably had  the greater influence on the outcome of events than any particular individuals. That is not to say that the arrogant and disdain attitude of the authorities towards the residents did not play a part. Nor is it to deny that, if we ask who or what made these systems so dysfunctional, we often find ourselves coming back again to certain powerful individuals. David Cameron boasting that his government would ‘kill off the health and safety culture for good’ is a case in point.

    How vital has the information that has come out during the ongoing public inquiry been?

    This has been key, and has enabled me to substantially rewrite and – I hope – improve the play. Perhaps the most important material to come out has been the revelations about what was going on behind the scenes at the council and the TMO, and in particular how senior officers and councillors were actively pursuing ways to silence residents and dismiss their concerns. At the same time, the Inquiry has been a vindication of the criticisms and concerns brought by the residents.  

    What is it you hope people who watch the play will leave thinking about?

    I am hoping the play might have particular relevance to people living in social housing, and especially those who find themselves in conflict with their landlord. I don’t know if it will be much practical use, but I would like to think that it will give them a sense that they are not alone, and that the problems they face are common. While the residents of Grenfell Tower were victims, they were not passive victims: they repeatedly warned the council about fire safety issues, and when they saw the refurbishment of their homes was not being properly carried out, they organised and fought to hold it to account.  It is important that people know this.

    And by staging it at Maxilla Social Club are you hoping that local residents will want to come and see it? Have you already had much feedback from them at all?

    This is what we are hoping. Maxilla is a North Kensington institution, and has been an important meeting place in the campaign for justice for the victims of the fire. The venue has also let us set our own ticket prices, meaning we can keep them affordable. Our hope is that some people who would not normally go to see a play at a conventional theatre will come to Maxilla.

    As for feedback, we did a stall last week on Portobello Road where we distributed flyers for the play, and I have to say the response was very positive.

    Our thanks to Nathaniel for his time to chat with us.

    Dictating To The Estate plays 31 May to 12 June at Maxilla Social Club. Further information and tickets can be found here.

    The post Interview: Dictating To The Estate appeared first on Everything Theatre.

  • Podcast: Dictating To The Estate
    26 May 2022
    Nathaniel McBride on his new play about the history leading up to the Grenfell Fire

    This week’s interview was with Nathaniel McBride. Nathaniel is the writer of DIctating To The Estate, a play that looks at the history of the housing estate where the Grenfell Tower was. Whilst the play is not directly about the fire, it examines the events of the years prior to the fire when the estate underwent major redevelopments. Much of the content is drawn from blogs of people living on the estate who were raising concerns with the council and group that managed the housing. It also uses evidence given at the ongiong public enquiry.

    As Nathaniel tells us, he feels that for many people the fire has been forgotten and consigned to history, and that many people do not realise what was happening to the estate long before the fire.

    Support Dictating To The Estate

    The play is crowdfunding for funds to help fund the prodcution costs of the play and ensure those involved receive a fair wage for their contribiutions. It would also allow the play to be developed and played further. You can support the play from as little as one pound here.

    The play will be on at Maxilla Social Club, which sits on the estate itself. It runs from 31 May to 12 June. Tickets can be purchased here.

    And if you don’t have time just now to listen to the podcast, then a written interview with Nathaniel can also be found here.

    The post Podcast: Dictating To The Estate appeared first on Everything Theatre.

  • Despite committed musical advocacy, The Wreckers at Glyndebourne fails to convince
    26 May 2022

    Glyndebourne Festival 2022 – Smyth, The Wreckers: Soloists, The Glyndebourne Chorus (chorus director: Aidan Oliver), London Philharmonic Orchestra / Robin Ticciati (conductor). Glyndebourne Opera House, Sussex, 21.5.2022. (MB) Production: Director – Melly Still Designs – Ama Inés Jabares-Pita Choreography – Mike Ashcroft Lighting – Malcolm Rippeth Video – Akhila Krishnan Cast: Tallan – Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts... Read more
  • Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden was a masterclass which had me struggling for superlatives
    26 May 2022

    Bruckner: Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann (conductor). Tonhalle Zürich, 24.5.2022. (JR) Bruckner – Symphony No.9, WAB 109 Bruckner never managed to complete the last movement of this, his final grandiose symphony; lengthy fragments remained and many versions have been made of the movement and recorded – some consider this should not be heard and... Read more
  • Tripwire Harlot to Publish ‘Sledgehammer Series’ of BIPOC Plays
    25 May 2022
    The new 4-volume series will include collected works by Phillip Howze, Hansol Jung, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, and Christina Anderson.
  • Metamorphoses (review)
    25 May 2022

    Spoilers ahoy!

    I'm going to cut straight to the chase.  Go see Metamorphoses at A Noise Within theatre if you possibly can.  Never mind about movies with great CGI or retellings of fun legends in a comic book vein.  Those are not bad things, not by any stretch of the imagination.

    But this, this is genuine magic.  Real magic.  Transformation.  Watching and partaking of this performance is the very act inherent in the title.  You will no longer be the same person when you leave.

    When you walk into the theatre, almost immediately the scent of chlorine makes itself known.  Much of the stage consists of a pool--a body of water which in the course of the show will become a wild variety of places and things and acts and states of being.  Sometimes it even becomes a simple pool of water. 

    Here myths come alive, starting and ending with the seemingly simple but mighty act of granting a wish.  Under the direction of Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, a nine member ensemble breath themselves into a wide variety of characters from Greek Myth in this play by Mary Zimmerman.  Aphrodite, Orpheus, Phaeton, Myrrah, Ceyx, Hades--a long, long list.  If you don't recognize some of these names (I did not), worry not.  You will get to know them, maybe even love them, celebrate some, weep for others.  Grief and hope, arrogance and lust, revenge and gratitude, even incest and cannibalism wander on stage--becoming as much a part of the audience as Psyche and Eros (the Soul and the Heart) or Midas and Bacchus (for all intents and purposes a djinn who grants a terrible wish).

    It begins with the creation of the world, and ends with a song about love.

    Sydney A. Mason, Cassandra Marie Murphy, Eriko Soto, Trisha Miller, Nicole Javier, Rafael Goldstein, Kasey Mahaffy, DeJuan Chrisopher, and Geoff Elliott are the actors who become in turn gods and men, women and monsters, spirits and children.  Describing the stories would do them a disservice.  I can only urge you once more--take part in this journey if you possibly can.  And don't complain about the lack of air conditioning.  The entire cast ends up soaking wet sooner or later.  Nobody wants them to get sick!  Right?

    Metamorphoses plays Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm until June 5, 2022 at A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd, Pasadena CA 91107.

  • A film and spellbinding live concert by the ensemble Muzsikás celebrates Hungarian folk traditions
    25 May 2022
    Hungarian Folk Music: Muzsikás, Kings Place, London, 22.5.2022. (AK) Performers – Muzsikás (Mihály Sipos [violin], László Porteleki [violin, koboz, tambura, vocal], Péter Éri [viola, kontra, flutes, mandolin], Dániel Hamar [contrabass, gardon, drum, presenter]), Hanga Kacsó (singer/dancer), István Berecz (dancer) Simon Broughton – editor in chief of Songlines but also a film maker and freelance writer... Read more
  • April 2023
    25 May 2022
    Celebrate the grand opening of the Rouse Theatre with the sensational, Tony Award-winning musical that bursts with artistic passion.
  • March 2023
    25 May 2022
    Celebrate the grand opening of the Rouse Theatre with the sensational, Tony Award-winning musical that bursts with artistic passion.

uk Theatre blogs

UK Theatre Blogs

26 May 2022

UK Theatre Blogs UK Theatre Blogs
  • Interview: Dictating To The Estate
    26 May 2022
    Nathaniel McBride on his new play looking at events prior to the Grenfell Tower Fire

    Dictating To The Estate is Nathaniel McBride‘s play that looks at the housing estate where the Grenfell Tower sits. But it isn’t directly about the fire, but rather the years preceeding it, when the estate underwent major redevleopment. It explores how local resident concerns were ignored and how so many factors came together that would ultimately lead the the tragic fire.

    The play felt important and one we wanted to give plenty of attention to. So as well as this written interview you can also listen to Nathaniel tell us more about it on our Runn Radio podcast here.

    You can also support the production by donating to theie crowdfunding here, this will help finance all production costs and assist the play in reaching a wider audience.

    The play looks at Grenfell pre-fire – what made you want to tackle it from that angle?

    The play is about how the fire came to happen, and that means looking at the events that preceded it. It is often said that the Grenfell Tower fire was avoidable. This is true, but understanding how it came to happen means examining the many acts that could have been taken to avoid it, but weren’t. The play is partly about these: not only acts of omission, but also positive refusals to act, which were taken by wide variety individuals, from government ministers to council officers to building contractors, over an extended period of time.

    And what can you tell us about the sources you used to research your writing?

    The main initial source was the Grenfell Action Group blog, which was kept by Edward Daffarn and Francis O’Connor, two residents living on the estate where Grenfell Tower stood. I was also able to get hold of some minutes of council meetings, as well as its regeneration plans for North Kensington. But the original problem was a general shortage of information.

    This changed when Phase 2 of the public Inquiry came to cover the events dealt with in the play. Suddenly I went from having a relative lack of material to being overwhelmed by it. Among these new documents, the most revealing were the private communications among councillors, council officials and TMO officers, which showed the real attitude they held towards the residents they were supposedly appointed to serve.

    A lot of information came from blogs published prior to the fire, have you tried to use as much of the text verbatim where possible to keep the original words?

    My method is not to add or change any words, but I do edit, often quite rigorously. From a blog post that is several hundred words long I might, for example, use just a couple of dozen words. The issue then becomes one of ensuring the edited text retains something of the essence or intent of the one on which it is based. Whether I have done this successfully will be for others to judge.

    Have you had much involvement with local residents and those affected by the fire itself during the writing and rehearsals for the play?

    We have worked in contact with the residents we represent in the play. We asked their permission to use the evidence they presented to the Inquiry, sent them copies of the script when it was finished, and several have now met the actors who will be playing them. More generally, we have tried to keep all the bereaved and survivors involved in what we’re doing through Grenfell United, the organisation that represents most of them. We held an online reading for them last year, and this year we are holding a special performance for them at the beginning of the theatre run. We are also currently fundraising for a mental health worker to offer support to any audience members who may be affected by the content of the play.

    You’ve clearly tried to highlight that it was not one single thing that caused this tragedy – but do you point a finger of blame at individuals or have you tried to show it was not one event or one person but a series of them?

    What has most clearly come out of the Inquiry is that the failures which made the fire possible were systemic, and extended over a wide range of different institutions. It wasn’t just one thing that failed, but a whole series of things. In saying this, I don’t mean to exonerate the individuals involved,  but my own view is that it was the dysfunctional regulatory and supervisory systems, weakened over many years, that probably had  the greater influence on the outcome of events than any particular individuals. That is not to say that the arrogant and disdain attitude of the authorities towards the residents did not play a part. Nor is it to deny that, if we ask who or what made these systems so dysfunctional, we often find ourselves coming back again to certain powerful individuals. David Cameron boasting that his government would ‘kill off the health and safety culture for good’ is a case in point.

    How vital has the information that has come out during the ongoing public inquiry been?

    This has been key, and has enabled me to substantially rewrite and – I hope – improve the play. Perhaps the most important material to come out has been the revelations about what was going on behind the scenes at the council and the TMO, and in particular how senior officers and councillors were actively pursuing ways to silence residents and dismiss their concerns. At the same time, the Inquiry has been a vindication of the criticisms and concerns brought by the residents.  

    What is it you hope people who watch the play will leave thinking about?

    I am hoping the play might have particular relevance to people living in social housing, and especially those who find themselves in conflict with their landlord. I don’t know if it will be much practical use, but I would like to think that it will give them a sense that they are not alone, and that the problems they face are common. While the residents of Grenfell Tower were victims, they were not passive victims: they repeatedly warned the council about fire safety issues, and when they saw the refurbishment of their homes was not being properly carried out, they organised and fought to hold it to account.  It is important that people know this.

    And by staging it at Maxilla Social Club are you hoping that local residents will want to come and see it? Have you already had much feedback from them at all?

    This is what we are hoping. Maxilla is a North Kensington institution, and has been an important meeting place in the campaign for justice for the victims of the fire. The venue has also let us set our own ticket prices, meaning we can keep them affordable. Our hope is that some people who would not normally go to see a play at a conventional theatre will come to Maxilla.

    As for feedback, we did a stall last week on Portobello Road where we distributed flyers for the play, and I have to say the response was very positive.

    Our thanks to Nathaniel for his time to chat with us.

    Dictating To The Estate plays 31 May to 12 June at Maxilla Social Club. Further information and tickets can be found here.

    The post Interview: Dictating To The Estate appeared first on Everything Theatre.

  • Podcast: Dictating To The Estate
    26 May 2022
    Nathaniel McBride on his new play about the history leading up to the Grenfell Fire

    This week’s interview was with Nathaniel McBride. Nathaniel is the writer of DIctating To The Estate, a play that looks at the history of the housing estate where the Grenfell Tower was. Whilst the play is not directly about the fire, it examines the events of the years prior to the fire when the estate underwent major redevelopments. Much of the content is drawn from blogs of people living on the estate who were raising concerns with the council and group that managed the housing. It also uses evidence given at the ongiong public enquiry.

    As Nathaniel tells us, he feels that for many people the fire has been forgotten and consigned to history, and that many people do not realise what was happening to the estate long before the fire.

    Support Dictating To The Estate

    The play is crowdfunding for funds to help fund the prodcution costs of the play and ensure those involved receive a fair wage for their contribiutions. It would also allow the play to be developed and played further. You can support the play from as little as one pound here.

    The play will be on at Maxilla Social Club, which sits on the estate itself. It runs from 31 May to 12 June. Tickets can be purchased here.

    And if you don’t have time just now to listen to the podcast, then a written interview with Nathaniel can also be found here.

    The post Podcast: Dictating To The Estate appeared first on Everything Theatre.

  • ‘A perfectly balanced & in sync production’: DIRTY DANCING IN CONCERT –Touring ★★★★
    25 May 2022

    Touring – reviewed at Eventim Apollo, London

    Marking the 35th anniversary of the popular iconic film Dirty Dancing written by Eleanor Bergstein which starred Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing The Movie in Concert comes to the stage and is now on tour.

    The quartet of singers accompanied by the highly accomplished band has brought the memorable music of Dirty Dancing to the front of the stage while the audience delights in watching the digitally remastered version on the big screen at the back of the stage.

    This was my first experience of watching a film set to a live band and singers and the experience certainly excelled my initial expectations. I wasn’t sure how much the live music and stage lighting effects would distract me from the enjoyment of the film, but they actually evoked an engaging atmosphere. Lionsgate Entertainment has created a perfectly balanced and in sync production.

    The audience is actively encouraged to sing along throughout the performance and to join in with the parts they know. However, it wasn’t the raucous audience participation I had anticipated. The tone was considerate and appreciative. Those who attended genuinely appeared to want to take pleasure in having the privilege of being able to watch the film on the big screen once again.

    One thing is for sure this production left a lasting, positive impression and we all had the ‘Time of our Lives’ as we revisited Dirty Dancing and enjoyed the accompanying music dialogue. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend anyone to go and watch this production, especially if you are a fan of the original film.

    For further details of the ongoing worldwide tour dates, ticket bookings and future performances taking place at Hammersmith Apollo please use the links provided below.

    Four Stars

    https://www.dirtydancingontour.com/tickets-tour/dirty-dancing-in-concert-dirty-dancing-in-concert

    https://www.eventim.co.uk/city/london-181/venue/eventim-apollo-hammersmith-15134/

  • ’It’s the first-rate performances that really bring this show to life’: LIFT – Southwark Playhouse ★★★
    25 May 2022

    Southwark Playhouse, London – 18 June 2022

    Produced by Gartland Productions, Lift has returned to London after premiering in 2013. Set in a Covent Garden lift (if you’ve attempted the steps, you know how crucial this particular lift is) it looks at eight of the characters on the same under a minute journey.

    Played by Luke Friend, the busker (like many of us do while laying by the pool on holiday) imagines what his fellow lift-mates’ stories and connections may be and the plot goes from there. Opening the musical alone on stage with a guitar, he is good at leading the show and seems at ease throughout. Sometimes his words get lost but his super strong vocals are great and he especially shines in the more angsty moments.

    The rest of the cast share the names Sarah, Kate and Gabriel and you never quite know whether their stories are really happening or whether they are in the busker’s head. Due to this the plot is somewhat confusing and hard to follow, and in fact it may have been better just to focus on one or two individual characters. Each character’s story is interesting and intriguing but due to the structure you never truly get to delve into them so are left feeling a little shortchanged.

    However, it’s the first-rate performances that really bring this show to life. Hiba Elchikhe is a certified star in her role as the secretary; giving dreamy vocals and making the absolute most of all she’s given to work with. Alongside her, Marco Titus gives a nice performance and the pair bounce off of one another very well.

    Kayleigh McKnight completely wows with her rendition of ‘Lost in Translations’ which is a vocal marathon and Cameron Collins shows versatility in his various personas. Tamara Morgan is endearing and witty in her performance as well as working with Collins and McKnight well. Jordan Broatch and Chrissie Bhima are excellent together, bringing their virtual avatar characters together so impressively and entertainingly.

    As a whole, the cast are incredibly strong and it’s in the ensemble, deeply harmonic moments where the musical really comes to life. It’s also when the narratives intersect that things become interesting. The audience start to spot connections and are  forced to work out what’s really true and linked. As well, the plot provides an interesting study on grief that has moments of revelation which are well approached.

    Andrew Exeter’s steel rig set is good at emphasising certain parts of the story and is a solid way of transforming the space to the various locations. The bright lighting is engaging and adds to Lift’s fantastical, dreamlike setting. There’s not a huge amount of diversity between Craig Adams’ songs but each one does well to bring some story to each character, even if it is fairly surface level.

    Overall, Lift is a well-paced show which lacks real depth and cohesion but is carried exceptionally well by the eight person cast. As a cult favourite, it’s worth catching it just for the powerhouse voices and strong visuals.
    photo credit: Mark Senior

  • Review: Legally Blonde, Open Air Theatre
    25 May 2022
    Lucy Moss refreshes and reinvigorates Legally Blonde the musical in iconic style at the Open Air Theatre

    “If you’re wrong, we look desperate AND homophobic”

    The Open Air Theatre isn’t a venue one necessarily associates with taking risks, so getting SIX co-creator Lucy Moss to direct a wonderfully diverse and queered-up revival of Legally Blonde feels like an excitingly big swing. Quite how it will go down with the picnic blanket crowd in Regent’s Park I don’t know but attracting a new audience there surely has to be a good thing.

    Following its Sheridan Smith-starring West End run, the show has been a popular one, appearing on the London fringe, in Leicester and UK tours aplenty. But what Moss and dramaturg Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong have smartly done is to refine what the musical might mean in 2022, to a society for whom inclusion and diversity are meaningful concept that affect them on the daily as opposed to right-wing talking points to mock and score points.

    So fashion major turned Harvard law student Elle is played by a brilliant Courtney Bowman and that refocusing of the main lens away from conventional Hollywood notions of beauty filters down through the whole show. Gender, race, body shape, sexuality, it’s all broken down here and anyone is welcome to the party, it is just a wonderful spirit that infuses the production, written by Laurence O’Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Heather Hach.

    Bowman’s warmth leads from the top and she connects with the audience from the off, letting us know that she’s all over this from the opening non-proposal to its final valedictory successes. And she’s supported by standout work from Nadine Higgin as the iconic Paulette, Michael Ahomka-Lindsay’s Emmett is cannily reconceived as his own kind of outsider and a perfect match to this Elle, and Vanessa Fisher continues to impress me with every thing she does. 

    Ellen Kane’s choreography is energetic and energising, never better than in the tireless skipping routine of ‘Whipped in Shape’ which Lauren Drew leads with astounding skill. Jean Chan’s costumes are cracking in their tribal demarcations. The only kinda bum note comes with Laura Hopkins’ set design which seems to aim for so-ugly-it’s-good territory but doesn’t reach the target.

    I could go on. There’s LGBT+ couples in background scenes, light textual updates raise a smile, Alistair Toovey is smoking hot as Warner, ‘What You Want’ remains a masterclass in whipping through plot in song, the dogs! Rationally, I know this might not be for everybody but honestly, not liking this would be like putting a half loop stitch on china silk.

    Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
    Photos: Pamela Raith
    Legally Blonde is booking at the Open Air Theatre until 2nd July
  • FEATURED SHOW: Christian Holder shines a spotlight on the human spirit in Love & Destruction at The Playground Theatre
    25 May 2022

    After his success with the play Ida Rubinstein – The Final Act at The Playground Theatre in London, director Christian Holder has been asked back to stage Love & Destruction at the venue (25 to 29 May 2022), an evening of two contrasting halves, the first using piano music and poetry to celebrate the work of female Ukrainian artists, and the second offering a drama which questions the role of authoritarian male dictatorship. Here, Christian discusses this moving, contemporary evening at the theatre with My Theatre Mates.

    The evening will open with original compositions by Ukrainian concert pianist Alla Sirenko, the only Ukrainian composer to have their work performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. These will be interwoven with readings by the actor Maryam D’Abo of compelling poems by Lesya Ukrainka and Lyuba Yakimchuk.

    The second half is the world premiere of One Man, a play in one act by Peter Efthymiou starring Anthony Cozens, Wilf Scolding, Peter Tate and Joshua WardChristian Holder directs.

    Christian Holder has had several theatrical careers, from a child actor and dancer in London, to a principal dancer with The Joffrey Ballet in New York, to costume designer and choreographer, and most recently as a solo cabaret vocalist. Christian danced with the Joffrey Ballet for 13 years before transferring his talents to costume design and choreography. He also taught ballet in several Manhattan studios and for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Christian designed stage wardrobe for Tina Turner from 1973 to 1984, as well as costumes for ballets choreographed for American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, and companies in the US and France. For The Playground Theatre Christian has written and directed Ida Rubinstein – The Final Act with his collaborator Naomi Sorkin.

    Thanks to the show’s association with The Ukrainian Cultural Association in the UK (UCA-UK), a donation from each ticket sold for Love & Destruction will support the British Red Cross Appeal in purchasing a second ambulance for children in the Ukraine.

    How did you get involved with Love & Destruction at The Playground Theatre?
    Peter Tate [The Playground Theatre’s co-artistic director] invited me to direct after having seen my work for Ida Rubinstein – The Final Act last year. He felt that the play he had written should have a movement quality that my background could bring to the piece.

    The evening has a topical and fascinating premise, celebrating the work of female Ukrainian artists through piano music and poetry and questioning the role of authoritarian male dictatorship through drama. Can you tell us more about how you approached each part separately and as a whole?
    Naturally, I was deeply moved and outraged by the events in Ukraine as they unfolded so wantonly and callously. When I was asked to participate in putting together an evening that would in some way offer support for the plight of the Ukrainian people, I leapt at the chance.

    Director Christian Holder in rehearsal with actor Anthony Cozens for One Man at The Playground Theatre, London. Pictures: Jonathan Phang

    The play One Man was an arresting and potent piece of writing – yet deceptively simple. So, it was a matter of living with it, night and day, on my laptop, so that my mind could begin to envisage all the possibilities that emerged from my imagination.

    Simultaneously, the first half of the evening slowly came into focus. I knew that I wanted to use poetry by Ukrainian women. Initially it was mostly about finding a way to celebrate female voices, since One Man is relentlessly masculine. The four protagonists are male.

    What was the process like in the rehearsal room with the different casts and creatives?
    Wonderful! Getting to know the actors and begin work as a “family”. It was a little more circuitous to find the right pianist and actress. I couldn’t be happier with the way things evolved. I have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic group of players!

    What you do think the audience will learn from the musical and dramatic aspects of the evening and how those play for and against each other?
    The music pours out of the extraordinary soul of the pianist, Alla Sirenko, and this is augmented by the seasoned and august presence and voice of Maryam d’Abo. This section embraces the viewer and takes them on an emotional journey of music and voice.

    The play for the four men is harsh an abrasive, but with a spiritual undercurrent and ending that will leave the audience with a sense of hope.

    In the context of all that is happening in the Ukraine, it must have incredibly emotional to work on this project.
    Yes. It has been emotional, but it is also rewarding to be able to make an artistic statement that is born of pain and devastation, and yet is a testament to the human spirit.

    Director Christian Holder in rehearsal with the cast of One Man at The Playground Theatre, London

    What is it like to be back at The Playground Theatre and to be working with Peter Tate in his role at the venue but also as an actor?
    It’s terrific to be back at the Playground. I didn’t know, when Peter and his wife, Naomi, first took me to see the space, that it would develop into this vibrant centre for the arts. It is awe-inspiring to see how it has blossomed in a relatively short period of time.

    You have worked in several different roles in the theatre, from actor and dancer to costume designer, choreographer and director. How do you think that informs the way you approach staging a production?
    I see it all as an extension of myself. It’s all connected. Acting, movement, music – it is all about communication. Spiritual communication.

    In a nutshell, why should audiences see Love & Destruction?
    The evening will hopefully shine a spotlight on the human spirit; all the good, and all the bad. Man’s inhumanity to man. Ultimately, nevertheless, there is a spiritual connection that – if we let it – will serve to buoy us all through the darkest instances of our time on this planet. To let us sense that “winter is always followed by spring”.

  • ‘A memorably murderous evening out’: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS – Chichester ★★★★★
    25 May 2022

    Chichester Festival Theatre – until 4 June 2022
    Guest reviewer: Gill Gardiner

    A hugely entertaining adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel for theatre by Ken Ludwig; a masterly performance by Henry Goodman as Poirot with a superb supporting cast including Patrick Robinson (Monsieur Blanc), Samuel Collins (Hector MacQueen), Laura Rogers (Countess Andrenyi) and Sara Stewart (Helen Hubbard).

    This is the first time the novel has been adapted for stage in Europe. From a book very heavy on detail, the play manages to successfully condense the plot whilst maintaining the sense of mystery as well as the quirkiness of the characters.

    For me, Goodman was the perfect Poirot for a stage adaptation. He manages to infuse humour into the character adding to the theatrical entertainment without losing the sense of the seriousness of the crime he is trying to solve or the moral dilemma that he faces as he gets closer to the solution. A standout performance.

    The set is also impressive. The opulence of an Istanbul restaurant in the opening scenes contrasts sharply with the chill of a broken down train in a snowstorm where an impressive huge train at the back of the stage allows for more flexible staging at the front. The impression of the train is never lost, incorporating the geographical relationship between the compartments essential for the plot. Snow falling around the borders of the stage helps to set the scene. Never before in the theatre have I experienced spontaneous applause for the scenery.

    First class entertainment, mystery, intrigue, and stand out performances. A memorably murderous evening out, highly recommended  whether you are a fan of Agatha Christie or not .

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  • News: guest stars including Adrian Dunbar join Stones in his Pockets
    24 May 2022
    Adrian Dunbar, Conleth Hill, Siobhán McSweeney, Saoirse-Monica Jackson and more among stars becoming extras in Stones in his Pockets

    A tour de force in comic showmanship, Marie Jones’s legendary award-winning play will explode once again into the Lyric Theatre where it all began almost 25 years ago. But this time it’s unlike you’ve ever seen it before as, with the help of technology – and a host of famous stars – Stones in his Pockets will be brought to life in a new way. 

    Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty), Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones, original cast of Stones in His Pockets), Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls), Tommy Tiernan (comedian / Derry Girls) and Tara Lynne O’Neill (EastEnders / Derry Girls) are amongst the stars of Northern Irish screen to become extras in this production which centres around a Hollywood blockbuster being filmed in Ireland.

    Director Matthew McElhinney said:

    “The idea was always to bring the movies to Stones.  The premise for Stones in his Pockets this time round, is the idea that the extras become the stars, and the stars become the extras. With that in mind, our two actors who play the extras in the play, they’re going to become the stars of their own movie at the end, and famous faces of Northern Ireland are going to become our on-screen extras”.

    Producer of Stones in his Pockets, Iwan Lewis, who is also Artistic Director of Barn Theatre added:  

    “We filmed the stars of Northern Irish theatre, television and film.  They are the stars, but today, they’re going to be playing extras on the big screen”.

    Filmed cameo roles include famous Northern Ireland actors, 

    • Adrian Dunbar (The Crying Game / Line of Duty)
    • Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones / Stones in His Pockets)
    • Saoirse Monica Jackson (Derry Girls)
    • Ian McElhinney (Game Of Thrones / Derry Girls)
    • Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls / The Holding)
    • Tara Lynne O’Neill (Eastenders / Derry Girls)
    • Kerri Quinn (Coronation Street / Hope Street)
    • Tommy Tiernan (comedian / Derry Girls)

    Show details
    Written by Marie Jones
    Directed by Matthew McElhinney
    Design by Gregor Donnelly
    Choreography by Fleur Mellor
    Lighting Design by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner
    Sound Design by Harry Smith
    AV Design by Benjamin Collins & Alex Tabrizi
    Costume Design by Denise Cleal
    Cast:
    Shaun Blaney
    as Jake
    Gerard McCabe as Charlie

    See if you can spot your favourite Northern Irish star on the big screen if you go along to the show! Stones in his Pockets plays at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from Tuesday 7th June – Sunday 3rd July 2022. Tickets available online at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or in person from Lyric Theatre Box Office – Tel 028 90381081.

  • Review: Two Palestinians Go Dogging, Royal Court Theatre
    24 May 2022

    Review: Two Palestinians Go Dogging, Royal Court Theatre

    Jerwood Theatre Upstairs The Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the most complex, thorny geopolitical problems of our time – seemingly impossible to solve. If you’re a non-expert like me, it’s probably something you don’t wade into lightly; something very serious; something you don’t crack jokes about. But not if you’re Sami Ibrahim. If you’re Sami Ibrahim you write a play called two Palestinians go dogging. As Hala Omran playing Reem, our narrator-cum-compère, assures us “It’s ok, you’re allowed to laugh”. The play is studded with amusing punchlines and outrageous, hilarious scenarios, which keep the audience chuckling and onside with Reem…
    Summary
    Rating
    60
    Good

    In an entertaining if muddled evening, this play tackles challenging subject matter using dark humour and inventive storytelling. But it fails to rise to the challenge of reaching a meaningful conclusion.

    User Rating: Be the first one !
    Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

    The Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the most complex, thorny geopolitical problems of our time – seemingly impossible to solve. If you’re a non-expert like me, it’s probably something you don’t wade into lightly; something very serious; something you don’t crack jokes about. But not if you’re Sami Ibrahim. If you’re Sami Ibrahim you write a play called two Palestinians go dogging.

    As Hala Omran playing Reem, our narrator-cum-compère, assures us “It’s ok, you’re allowed to laugh”. The play is studded with amusing punchlines and outrageous, hilarious scenarios, which keep the audience chuckling and onside with Reem and her languorous husband Sayeed (portrayed soulfully by Miltos Yerolemou). This darker-than-black humour allows the play to access and explore the torrid existential nightmare of surviving in Palestine in 2043 – another wise-crack on the never-ending nature of this conflict.

    Reem invites us to play a contorted version of ‘Simon Says’ but this time it’s ‘Bibi Says’, a sly dig at Benjamin Netanyahu (who, we are told, has died, become a corpse and been reincarnated to make it to 2043). One family member tries to climb the barbed wire fence separating Israel and Palestine but gets stuck: sardonically, he survives two years ‘on the fence’, each relative unwilling to transgress the border to help him down. He does, however, become a major tourist attraction. The rye humour of the piece is one of its major strengths.

    Strong also is the sheer smorgasbord of storytelling devices energetically pumped out by the ensemble cast, occupying a shambling bomb-shelter of a stage. There are times when this achieves real theatrical heights. As Reem tries to tell the story of how a young Israeli conscript was murdered by her son, the soldier’s spirit interrupts. Through clever use of on-stage microphones we really feel the victim attempt to wrest back control of the narrative of her death. The play toys well with this idea of who should be telling the story, forcing us to question who is on the right side of this conflict. As Reem says, her story is only true “because I’m telling it”. Later Adam (Philipp Mogilnitskiy), an Israeli will give an almost carbon copy speech of Reem’s, lamenting the loss of a child. two Palestinians certainly highlights the futility of the constant anguish and violence.

    Whilst the piece has a strong voice, it is guilty of not really working out what to say with it. A strong first half leads into a long slog to reach the 2 hour 50 minute run time. The episodic structure of the play tries to cover too much, the narrative flits between different characters, and as we draw near the climax it’s still not clear what the central message is. In an attempt to draw these threads together, Ibrahim sends Reem a letter – from the playwright – in which he tells her she is not real, that he doesn’t know how to tell her story, or the story of Palestinians. It’s incredibly underwhelming. Instead of being a clever conceit, it feels more like the writer has dumped their insecurities into the conclusion of the play in lieu of an ending. If you don’t know how to tell your story, it feels incredibly disingenuous to tell your audience this after almost three hours.

    Despite this rather deflating finish, I reflect on an entertaining evening that tackled difficult subject matter with deft humour and inventive staging. I just wish this play had more gut-punching depth to complement the punchlines.

    Written by: Sami Ibrahim
    Directed by: Omar Elerian
    Designed by: Rajha Shakiry
    Lighting design by: Jackie Shemesh
    Sound design by: Elena Peña
    Video design by: Zakk Hein
    Fight direction by: Bret Yount
    Produced by: Royal Court Theatre and Theatre Uncut

    Two Palestinians Go Dogging plays at Royal Court Theatre until 1 June. It is currently sold out for all dates but check with box office for returns. More information here.

    The post Review: Two Palestinians Go Dogging, Royal Court Theatre appeared first on Everything Theatre.

  • ‘Laced with subtle morals, themes & messages’: NOW IS GOOD – Chester ★★★
    24 May 2022

    Storyhouse Theatre, Chester – until 28 May 2022
    Guest reviewer: Jennifer Hughes

    Directed by Joyce Branagh, Chester Storyhouse Theatre hosts the word premiere of Tim Firth’s brand new musical Now Is Good.

    Jeff Rawle’s much loved Ray opens the show with a moving and poignant song, which seems a bizarre description of a lyric largely based around falling through a shed roof and fig rolls, yet it is moving and humorous in equal measure. Beautifully, he sings about his late wife while surrounded by broken timber, dust sheets and memories. A scene echoed by his Health and Safety guru son, Neil (Chris Hannon) towards the end of the play… but I won’t spoil that for you.

    An old mahogany clock takes centre stage throughout the show, never changing in time, never moving forward, which echoes the sentiments of the largely ‘older’ characters in the play who sing about their frustrations with the internet, video calling and the modern obsession with the ‘Alexa’ lifestyle.

    The ‘old and the new’ theme is not only portrayed through the refurbishing of the old high street bank into a new community hub, but depicted beautifully by the introduction of the Storyhouse Youth Theatre – playing characters from the nearby school, alongside their more mature fellow thespians. Working in education, I can honestly say that Alyce Liburd’s facial expressions as teacher Katy are on point.

    In all, this play is something very different. It is laced with subtle morals, themes and messages. Celebrating life, tackling loneliness, being afraid to move on but yet offering hope and a sense of community over a fig roll and a sing song.

Theatre podcasts

Theatre Podcasts

26 May 2022

Theatre Podcasts Theatre Podcasts
  • Kunafa and Shay Season 2 Episode 8: Multihyphenate Artists with Denmo Ibrahim and Sarah Fahmy
    25 May 2022

    Artistic identities can be complicated, and many theatremakers work equally within two or more disciplines simultaneously. The most interesting work is rarely created in a vacuum. These multidisciplinary artists create diverse projects in all senses of the word, broadening our idea of what theatre can and should be. Today, two such multihyphenate artists, Denmo Ibrahim and Sarah Fahmy, converse about their multiple identities, how they reconcile and manage their myriad expertise, and the role of multihyphenate artists in today’s theatre landscape.

  • Today on Broadway: Wednesday, May 25, 2022
    25 May 2022

    Rira Moreno Is Doing What Now? Off-Broadway Alliance Awards, “Lempicka” Releases “Woman Is” Single “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is appreciated: Ashley Steves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @NoThisIsAshleyGrace Aki This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @ItsGraceAkiJames Marino This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | read more

    The post Today on Broadway: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 appeared first on BroadwayRadio.

  • Special Episode: Analise Scarpaci on ‘Doubtfire,’ Debut Solo Album
    24 May 2022

    On today’s episode, Grace Aki chats with Analise Scarpaci who is currently starring in Broadway’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” and recently released her debut EP “Pathetic Little Dreamer.”  The album delivers a singer-songwriter pop mix of seven original songs. Praised by The Seattle Times with reviews like “Analise Scarpaci has a legit read more

    The post Special Episode: Analise Scarpaci on ‘Doubtfire,’ Debut Solo Album appeared first on BroadwayRadio.

  • Today on Broadway: Tuesday, May 24, 2022
    24 May 2022

    Scenes From The “Smash” Musical First Table Read, “Moulin Rouge” Allows Masked Performers, Angela Lansbury Gets Lifetime Achievement Tony “Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day. Any and all feedback is appreciated: Ashley Steves This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | @NoThisIsAshleyGrace Aki This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. read more

    The post Today on Broadway: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 appeared first on BroadwayRadio.

  • #324 – Santiago Guzmán
    24 May 2022

    Santiago Guzmán (he/him) is a writer, performer, director and producer for theatre and film originally from Metepec, Mexico, now based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Santiago is the Artistic Director of TODOS Productions, an organization that seeks to promote, produce, and support work of under-represented artists in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    He is the Artistic Associate for Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre in Halifax, NS and General Manager for Neighbourhood Dance Works in St. John’s, NL. He is a proud member of The Quilted Collective, whose first anthology, Us, Now, has been published by Breakwater Books in 2021.

    www.sguzman.ca
    Twitter: @santiguzjan
    Instagram: @santig1

    Support Stageworthy
    Tip Jar: tips.pinecast.com/jar/stageworthy [ Read more ]

    The post #324 – Santiago Guzmán appeared first on Stageworthy.

  • Time Stands Still @ Bold Theatre in La Palma – Review
    24 May 2022
    Time Stands Still @ Bold Theatre in La Palma – Review 7.4 out of 10 - Average Show! www.latheatrebites.com May 13 – 29,2022
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare @ Costa Mesa Playhouse in Costa Mesa - Review
    24 May 2022
    The Complete Works of Willam Shakespeare @ Costa Mesa Playhouse in Costa Mesa – Review 7.5 out of 10 - Above Average! www.latheatrebites.com May 13th – June 5th, 2022
  • These Tiger’s Got Claws! : Tiger Style! @ South Coast Repertory – Review
    24 May 2022
    Tiger Style! @ South Coast Repertory – Review 8.9 out of 10 - Excellent Show! LA Theatre Bites Recommended www.latheatrebites.com May 15 – June 5,2022
  • Special Episode: Anna Fleischle on the Scenic Storytelling of ‘Hangmen’
    23 May 2022

    On today’s episode, Matt Tamanini is in conversation with the Tony-nominated designer of “Hangmen,” Anna Fleischle. In addition to dark comedy’s breathtaking set, Fleischle also designed the show’s costumes.  Having been involved with the show since its premiere in 2015, Fleischle has seen the show through multiple incarnations both in read more

    The post Special Episode: Anna Fleischle on the Scenic Storytelling of ‘Hangmen’ appeared first on BroadwayRadio.

  • Offscript: What We Talk About When We Talk About Abortion
    23 May 2022
    This week the editors discuss theatre's role in dispelling the fears and misconceptions surrounding abortion with Alison Leiby and Justice Hehir.

Theatre magazines

Theatre Magazines

26 May 2022

Theatre Magazines Theatre Magazines
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