10 things you didn’t know about Kinky Boots The Musical

Kinky Boots sees its 1,000th performance and proudly welcomes its 1,000,000th customer in the West End! In celebration, here are 10  fun facts you didn’t know about the Olivier Award-winning show:

  1. There are 216 pairs of shoes/boots in Kinky Boots.
    blog kinky 4
  2. Lola, Charlie and the Angels wear the highest heels at 6″. Each of the factory workers have heels at a height of 4″.
  3. All of the boots have a platform ranging from 1/2″ to 1″. Some are visible, some aren’t!
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  4. The shoes and boots can take up to a week to make, depending on the design, height and leather used. It’s clear why it can take up to 4 months to have new boots made for the entire cast!kinky blog 1
  5. Kinky Boots was inspired by a true story. The original shoe factory’s name was W.J. Brooks Shoe Company. It was the BBC who nicknamed W.J. Brooks the ‘Kinky Boot’ Factory.blog kinky 3
  6. Charlie Price’s journey is based on the life of Steve Pateman, an Englishman who was struggling to save his family-run shoe factory from closure. Under pressure from changes in fashion and competition from abroad, he started to look for new markets. An unexpected call from a woman who ran a shop specialising in transgender glamour wear convinced him to try a line of women’s shoes in men’s sizes. He developed his line of ‘kinky boots’ under the brand name “Divine Footwear”.
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  7. 90% of the male cast had not worn heels before appearing in Kinky Boots.
  8. Each boot is made specifically to fit the wearer; an outline of each foot and 21 measurements around the foot and leg are taken.blog kinky 2
  9. In 2016, Kinky Boots was nominated for 7 Olivier Awards and won the award for ‘Best New Musical’.
  10. Each finale boot holds 5 metres of coloured elastic for the laces. blog kinky 7

Turn your ‘Blue Monday’ RED with a trip to Kinky Boots. Browse tickets here. 

The incredible new acts joining La Soirée this year

London’s favourite naughty cabaret circus has made a triumphant return this festive season, but this time, they’ve gone posh! You can now find them delivering their classic debauchery and mayhem at the Aldwych Theatre.

La Soirée’s 8th season of sauciness promises to be more potent than ever, and here we’re giving you the complete low-down on everything you can expect from the theatrical phenomenon this year.

WHAT IS LA SOIRÉE?

La Soirée is a night of live performance like no other; the mix of new burlesque, circus sideshow, comedy, and contemporary variety will stagger and astound, and leave you begging for more.

With stunning displays from some of the best cabaret artists from around the world, combined with jaw-dropping, daring comedy acts, it’s perfect for Christmas parties or a fun and unforgettable night out with friends.

WHAT IS LA PETITE SOIRÉE?

La Soirée has become well-known and loved for its priceless cheekiness, so this year sees the addition of the brand new afternoon offspring La Petite Soirée – a show with all of the spirit of La Soirée, just with a little less sauce!

La Petite Soirée is an hour-long version suitable for children aged 8+, so the whole family can enjoy!

POSH NEW VENUE, SAME OLD SHOW

This year marks a first for La Soirée: they have been let loose in a proper West End theatre! With the Aldwych boasting some real height, they have introduced some new aerial acts that have not yet been possible.

 Brett Haylock, Creative Producer of La Soirée:
“This glamorous old dame of a theatre has allowed us to present work above and beyond our beloved spiegeltent’s Big Top so prepare to meet a whole host of new gravity defying artists that will leave you in a spin!”

THE STAGE

They have brought with them their usual round stage, and audience members will have the opportunity to sit in the ‘posh’ seats on the theatre’s traditional stage to be up close and personal with the action! round stage

 THE SEATS

You can bag grand circle seats for just £23, dress circle seats for £50.10, stalls seats for £56, ringside seats for £67.90, and posh seats for £93.80.
Seating is unreserved within each band, so it’s best to arrive in plenty of time to get your pick of the seats! Doors will open half an hour before the show starts.

NOTE: There’s a strong possibility that audience members in ringside seats will get slightly more than they bargained for…

MEET THE CAST OF THE 2017/2018 SEASON 

RETURNING FAVOURITES

AMY G

AMY G

The unparalleled Amy G is a legend of the international cabaret scene. A comic powerhouse with a truly spectacular voice, she’s played in over 40 countries, 7 languages, and on La Soiree’s round, red stage for over a decade.

Whether she’s rolling around on skates, belting out a huge number, or blowing your mind with her golden kazoo, her intoxicating mix of physical, musical and stand-up comedy will leave you astounded, dizzy, and giggling inappropriately.

 

 

La-Soiree_Cabaret-Decadance_Photo-Credit-Perou

CABARET DECADENSE

Montreal puppeteers Cabaret Decadense opened La Soirée’s first London season at the Hippodrome in 2008 and return for the first West End season.

A cast of amazing characters, made from stuffed rags and scraps of materials, are showcased with breath-taking choreographed performances alongside a haunting soundtrack.

It’s a jaunty, sassy, sexy and hilarious puppet feast for adults, in which you’ll find the puppeteers to be as mesmerising as the puppets themselves.

 

 

daredevil editDAREDEVIL CHICKEN CLUB featuring JONATHAN TAYLOR & ANNE GOLDMAN

After raising the roof at the spiegeltent last year at Leicester Square, Daredevil Chicken Club are back!

Fusing vulgar slapstick and 80s pop melodrama, this hilariously unforgettable duo will have your sides splitting with their vaudevillian verve, and matrimonial mischief.

Having shared love and laughter in over 36 countries, this Vegas couple are living proof that what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas.

 

 

AND THE 2017/18 SEASON DEBUTS

hairhang edit

 


HAIRHANG BY FANCY CHANCE

Fancy Chance has been hanging by her hair since 2007.  Self-taught and a slightly mad for doing so, she’s been dangling by her locks, doing one woman shows, dragging it up as Prince, burlesque-clowning it and causing general mischief for over a decade around the UK and across the globe.

 

 

 

Maxime Blanckaert & Nathan Briscoe


THE CHILLY BROTHERS CRADLE ACT featuring NATHAN BRISCOE AND MAXIME BLANCKAERT

Maxime & Nathan, AKA The Chilly Brothers, share the passion that art should constantly renew itself and defy the limits of reality.

From Canada to France, Asia to the Baltic Sea, they have captivated audiences with their death-defying Russian Cradle.

You’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout their jaw-dropping and surreal display of human strength and precision.

 

La-Soiree_Lea-Hinz-on-Arial-Hoop_Photo-Credit-SweetLips-photography-2

 


LEA HINZ on AERIAL HOOP

A dazzling aerial artist and six-time German Rhythmic Gymnastics Champion, Lea Hinz delivers a captivating fusion of grace and flexibility with unbelievable strength.

After watching her in her element on stage, it’s difficult to believe that she very nearly gave up the world of performing for medical school!

 

 

 

La-Soiree_LJ-Marles-on-his-unique-Tension-Straps_-Photo-Credit-Pablo-Wunsch-Blanco

 


LJ MARLES on
his unique TENSION STRAPS

LJ Marles takes aerial straps to new heights in this year’s edition of La Soirée. With breath-taking precision, this home-grown Hackney talent wows audiences world-wide with his revolutionary new aerial concept.

 

 

 

 

 

La-Soiree_Symone_Photo-Credit-Chris-Gardner

 


SYMONÉ on
HULA HOOP

Highly energetic hula-hooper Symoné specialises in a unique multi-hoop performance, inspiring a myriad of hula fans to take the plunge into the world of hoops. With her distinctive dance hall rhythms and electrifying voguing, alongside her fierce attitude, you’ll be up on your feet, swaying your hips in harmony.

 

 

 

La-Soiree_Mallakhamb-India-ft-Rajesh-Amrale-with-Rajesh-Rao_Photo-Credit-Chris-Gardner


THE MALLAKHAMB INDIA!  featuring RAJESH AMRALE WITH RAJESH RAO

Straight from the streets of Mumbai comes the amazing ancient art of Mallakhamb from Rajesh Amrale and Rajesh Rao.

Rarely performed outside of its homeland India, this pair of awesome acrobats will blow your minds with their incredible mix of exceptional strength, sensational speed and spectacular skill.

 

 

 

HAND TO HAND featuring LEON FAGBEMI and KLODI DABKIEWICZ

Boasting champion gymnastic backgrounds, this captivating pair make the perfect partnership. Smouldering Leon, an ex-acro gymnast, showcases superb strength, and the fiery former rhythmic gymnast Klodi flaunts effortless flexibility.

La-Soiree_Michele-Clark-on-Hula-Hoop_Photo-Credit-GOP-Variety

MICHELE CLARK on HULA HOOP

From China to the US, this daringly dexterous hula-hooper has hypnotised crowds across the globe. Incomprehensible illusions and risky rotations make for Michele’s signature style. The combination of skill, flair, and unbelievable precision delivers a truly original and unforgettable performance. One thing’s for sure — Michele Clark’s hoop tricks will spin you dizzy!

Playing at the Aldwych Theatre until 3 February. Book tickets for La Soirée & La Petite Soirée now.

Why Cirque du Soleil will cure your January Blues!

Discover why Cirque du Soleil will cure your January Blues!

If you’re in need of a little bit of sunshine this winter, look no further!
Cirque du Soleil, aka ‘the Circus of the Sun’, is coming to town with their new show ‘OVO’ and they know exactly how to light up a stage: Winter blues be gone!

OVO, meaning “egg” in Portuguese, is a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. When a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives. It is love at first sight when a gawky, quirky insect arrives in this bustling community and a fabulous ladybug catches his eye – and the feeling is mutual.

And if you happened to be walking around central London on the 14th of December, there is a chance that you have come across what was very different from the average selfie:

CirqueDuSoleilLondonOvoShots
Ice-webbing as a new olympic sport!
cirquedusoleil-ovo-london
Not an average London telephone booth selfie

Including a giant spider in action and a couple of bugs, Cirque Du Soleil’s OVO cast were posing for a London photoshoot. Better still, catch them at their best at the stage of the iconic Royal Albert Hall in January.

It is with reason that the troupe has come a long way from its humble street performer roots in Montreal, as they take over the world with skill, artistry and grace, quickly becoming one of the world’s best known performance groups of all time.

Still need convincing? We’ve put together 5 great reasons why one should not miss the opportunity to grab a seat for a performance of the uplifting, life-affirming and vibrant OVO:

 

  1. Cirque Du Soleil’s every production is a new story

Cirque du Soleil is so much more than a few acrobatics and jugglers – every new show is an enchanting story! From the ice-covered mind of Crystal, to the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor, each show entices you into a weird and wonderful world. It’s not just a circus, it’s a thrilling experience that will have you at the edge of your seat!

 cirque-du-soleil-ovo-london-2018-triplet-three-VHpE

  1. Each costume is unique

The legendary costumes are incredibly detailed and custom-designed in-house. With the entire cast measured head-to-toe, you can be sure they’ll be showed off to perfection.

cirque

  1. Diversity is praised

 Unlike some types of shows, Cirque du Soleil praises diverse body types and performers that look unique. In a world that often tries hard to make us conform, Cirque du Soleil wants its artists to stand out and be proud of who they are! What’s not to like about that?

mc-cirque-du-soleil-ovo-philadelphia-20160509

 

  1. They have a Las Vegas residency

Cirque du Soleil have performed resident shows in the mighty Las Vegas for more than two decades now! To have staying power in this city that never sleeps means you’ve really got something special! Their spectacular sets, show-stopping costumes and awesome acrobatics have made them one of the top things to do in Las Vegas. Luckily, this winter you won’t have to travel that far…

  1. New show ‘OVO’ is teeming with life

The performers that hit the London streets this December were giving Londoners a little taste of the never-seen-in-the-UK before show ‘OVO’, a colorful riot that dives into our ecosystem, uncovering the world of insects while being a little bit more flexible than David Attenborough! Expect non-stop energy and movement as colorful crickets, silky spiders, and flexible fleas take to the stage to take your breath away like only the Cirque Du Soleil can do! OVO is a show that’s guaranteed to get the whole family buzzing for days.

Original Filename: 5D3F5441.CR2

 

Roll up to see the world’s greatest circus at the iconic Albert Hall from January 2018: Book your tickets today!

Opens from 7 January – 4 March 2018

Premieres 10 January 2018

Black Friday 2017: Top Deals On London & West End Theatre Tickets

The biggest shopping event of the year has returned. Your inbox is probably full to the brim with discounts on electronics, flights, and beauty products, and the idea of hitting the high-street this weekend may be more than a little daunting.

But Black Friday isn’t just about fighting over cheap televisions in ASDA; it is the perfect opportunity to grab yourself a great night at the theatre!

From musical sensations like Dreamgirls and Motown, to Christmas classics such as A Christmas Carol, there’s a discounted ticket for everyone to get their hands on this Black Friday. Here’s a round-up of the best deals. You can view our full list at fromtheboxoffice.com.

 Plays

Venus in Fur

Enjoy Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer’s seductive performance for half the price in Venus in Fur, a dark comedy about desire, fantasy, and the innate love of fur. With stalls seats from just £17.50, it’s an offer you can’t refuse…
Save 58% on Venus in Fur tickets.

The Ferryman

If you haven’t yet seen ‘the play of the year’ (Time Out), now is probably the best time to book; you can avoid the fees this Black Friday Weekend! Jez Butterworth’s epic new masterpiece is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, following the Carney family’s annual harvest celebrations. It’s a gripping three-and-a-half hours featuring stellar performances from a goose, a rabbit, and a baby. What are you waiting for?
Book The Ferryman tickets from £15 and no fees.

Oslo

This Black Friday Weekend, you can book tickets for the award-winning Oslo for half the usual price. Discover the thrilling true story of a Norwegian couple who risked everything for peace – and enjoy a performance from James Bond’s Toby Stephens – with tickets from just £15.
Save 59% on Oslo tickets. 

Goats

You may or may not be surprised to hear that there are 5 actual goats in Goats at the Royal Court. If this concept excites you, then we have some even better news: this weekend only, you can get better-than-half-price tickets for the new work by Syrian playwright Liwaa Yazji.
Book tickets for Goats from £8.

A Christmas Carol

If the prospect of January blues is already looming, then The Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol may be the ideal show for you. You can save over £55 on January performances, helping you and your loved ones beat the post-Christmas slump! Plus, you’ll get to see Rhys Ifans from Notting Hill and Kevin & Perry Go Large, which is pretty cool.
Save 57% on The Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol.

A Woman of No Importance

The first offering in the Vaudeville Theatre’s Oscar Wilde Season is the “witty and challenging” (The Upcoming) A Woman of No Importance. With what promises to be a delightful and refreshing evening at the theatre, the £25 stalls seats seem pretty tempting, don’t they?
Save 38% on A Woman of No Importance tickets.

Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham play two strangers whose lives change forever after a chance meeting in Simon Stephens’ newest play, Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle. What’s certain is that you’ll be bagging a bargain with stalls seats at just £22.50.
Book tickets for Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle.

Strangers In Between

Delve into the highs and lows of growing up gay in modern Australia in Tommy Murphy’s insanely relevant, heartfelt and hilarious play at Trafalgar Studios. This Black Friday, you can save 28% on front-row seats!
Book tickets for Strangers in Between from £25.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist, arguably the scariest movie of all time, has been unleashed into the West End in a brand new stage adaptation at the Playhouse Theatre. Book tickets this weekend and get half price stalls seats, if you dare…
Book tickets for The Exorcist from £25.

Circus

ovo

Cirque Du Soleil – OVO

You’ll be swinging through the air with 25% discounted tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s newest, spell-binding masterpiece OVO! 
Book tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s OVO.

 

Musicals

Motown the Musical

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to keep you from getting to Motown with tickets from just £22 this Black Friday! Jump on the scorching joyride through the songs and stories of the record label that changed it all.
Book tickets for Motown with no fees.

An American in Paris

You can bag yourself seats in the stalls for the ‘S Wonderful An American in Paris from just £18.50! Catch the beautiful theatre-ballet hybrid before the engagement ends on 6 January.
Save over 50% on An American in Paris tickets.

Dreamgirls

Broadway sensation Dreamgirls burst onto the scene in the West End almost a year ago and continues to play to nightly standing ovations. With the role of Effie White now played by the fantastic Moya Angela of America’s Got Talent fame, don’t miss the opportunity to book with no fees!
Book tickets for Dreamgirls from £17.70.

 

Thriller

If you’re a sucker for a Jackson tune (let’s face it, who isn’t?), then Thriller Live guarantees to deliver a sensational night of dancing and music. This Black Friday, you can save up to £35 per ticket!
Book tickets for Thriller Live. 

The Toxic Avenger

Save 71% on one of the West End’s newest – and most hilarious – musicals. There are hundreds of tickets available for just £20.
Book tickets for The Toxic Avenger.

Five Guys Named Moe

After a hugely successful stint in both the West End and Broadway over two decades ago, the Olivier award-winning Five Guys Named Moe has come back with a bang. Book now for up to 65% off – and warm up your jazz hands!
Book tickets for Five Guys Named Moe. 

Family Specials

Annie

It’s not really a Hard Knock Life when you can save 45% on tickets for Annie
Plus, you can now enjoy the wonderful Meera Syal as she takes over the orphanage from Monday 27 November.
Book tickets for Annie from £23.50. 

Jack and the Beanstalk

Join Jack, a lovable cow, and an enormous beanstalk at the Lyric Hammersmith for their annual festive panto! This Black Friday, you can save up to £10 per ticket for selected December & January performances.
Book tickets for Jack & The Beanstalk from £18.

Wilde Creatures

Enjoy some hauntingly beautiful Oscar Wilde tales with all the family for half the price! This weekend only, you can grab front-row dress circle and stalls seats from only £10!
Book tickets for Wilde Creatures.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Introduce your little ones to the theatre with the charming The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Ambassadors Theatre. This weekend, we’re offering you an exclusive 35% off – you can bag yourself fantastic stalls and circle seats from just £16.80!
Book tickets for The Hungry Caterpillar. 

Slava’s Snowshow

Join Slava and his troupe at the Royal Festival Hall as they culminate in a snowstorm of epic proportions. With a discount of over 50%, and rear stalls seats from £20, it’s an unmissable family outing.
Book tickets for Slava’s Snowshow.

The Gruffalo’s Child

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning sequel to The Gruffalo is brought life in the West End this Christmas. With monstrous savings of up to 43%, The Gruffalo’s Child is an irresistible treat for you and your little ones.
Book tickets for The Gruffalo’s Child. 

Opera & Dance

La Bohème

Enjoy a radically different take on Puccini’s timeless classic at Trafalgar Studios this December! With great comedy, sublime music, and over £10 off each ticket, there’s no doubt that it’ll be an opera experience you’ll never forget.
Book tickets for La Bohème from £20.

Project Polunin Presents Satori

Celebrate the unifying power and joy of dance at the London Coliseum this December with Sergei Polunin’s multimedia programme. This weekend only, book tickets from £20 with no fees!
Book tickets for Project Polunin Presents Satori.
Browse the full list of Black Friday offers at fromtheboxoffice.com.

 

15 things you didn’t know about the cast of The Rat Pack – Live From Vegas

The Rat Pack – Live From Vegas returns to the West End this Christmas, bringing the glitz, the glamour, and the smash-hits that we all know and love.

Transport yourself back to the 1960s where, at the famous Sands Hotel, Frank, Sammy, and Dean perform alongside the sensational Burrelli Sisters and The Rat Pack Big Band. With a wonderful array of seasonal classics, including Pack favourites Baby it’s Cold Outside, Let it Snow, and White Christmas, it’s an ideal festive treat for the whole family.

Final casting for this year’s Pack spectacular has been announced. From royal invitations, to approval from Sammy Davis Jr. himself, here’s everything you need to know about the new cast!

Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra

  1. Garrett is an Irish singer and actor, who’s a familiar face on both stage and screen, having starred as Dr Cathal Hennessy in five series of the popular TV drama Ros Na Rún.
  2. His most recent theatre credits include The Father in Blood Wedding and The King in Dr. Faustus. He also starred as Joseph in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar.
  3. He is the winner of Best Male Voice at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera.

David Hayes as Sammy Davis Jr.

 

4. David certainly isn’t a newbie to the role: he has performed in The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas in the West End, around the UK, in Germany, Denmark, and across the US.
5. David is also a successful comedian and emcee, and has worked with a variety of stars including George Lopez, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Herbie Hancock, and Florence Henderson.
6. Sammy Davis Jr. himself saw David’s performance in Atlantic City and said: “That was the best singing impersonation of me that I’ve ever heard!”

 

Nigel Casey as Dean Martin

 

7. Nigel’s career really set off with his role of Greaseball in Starlight Express, and he has since enjoyed tremendous success throughout Europe.
8. Nigel starred as Billy Flynn in Chicago, Danny in Grease and Monty in Saturday Night Fever.
9. Like David Hayes, he is not new to the role; he has previously played Dean Martin in the Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas at the Savoy Theatre and in various states across America.
10. He has written and produced his very own album called “Forever’s A Long Time” which has achieved huge success in Germany.

  • Matthew Freeman as Musical Director of the Rat Pack Big Band

    Matthew Freeman

11. Matthew is a platinum and gold disc award-winning conductor, arranger and pianist who enjoys a diverse international career.
12. He conducted and arranged IQ Magazine’s award-winning ABBA The Show, which has played in 38 countries and at London’s Wembley Arena.
13. In 2015, he conducted the BBC’s Planet Earth Live in Germany and Austria. He will also be conducting the new BBC Planet Earth 2 across Europe in 2018.
14. Matthew has conducted and arranged over 50 albums, including Larry Adler, Dame Shirley Bassey, Vic Damone, Ruthie Henshall, David Soul and many more.
15. He also received an invitation to arrange and conduct Decca’s celebration of the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday!

 

Now’s your chance to hang with the coolest pack in town! The Rat Pack – Live From Vegas plays at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 13 December until 3 February.

Book your tickets for The Rat Pack – Live From Vegas today.

The A-Z of Motown: Learn your ABCs the Motown way

A. ABC By The Jackson 5

What better way to start the alphabet than with our ABCs? It was this song that knocked The Beatles off the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1970!

B. Baby Love by The Supremes

C. Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson

As well as hitting number 1 in the U.S Cash Box Top 100, Cruisin’ was also a huge hit in New Zealand, reaching number 1 in 1979.

D. Dancing in the Street by Martha & The Vandellas

“It reminds me of my younger days, back when there was a sense of neighbourhood spirit and the sense of being a part of something. I think with the fast paced nature of the modern times, life can sometimes slip past you and this song just reminds you to take a breath, and enjoy the soulfulness of life itself!” (Kirsty from KirstyRalph.co.uk)

E. Easy by Commodores

F. First I Look at the Purse by The Contours

Written by Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers, the Contours track peaked at #12 on the Billboard’s R&B chart.

G. Get Ready by The Temptations

“Sassy and spectacular as it is, it was actually the last song Smokey Robinson wrote and produced for the Temptations. No song feels more marvellously Motown.” (Lela from LelaLondon.com)

H. Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder

This great track was written as part of the campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday, leading to the creation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day in 1983.

I. I Want You Back by The Jackson 5

“I’ve never known this to come on and the dance floor not be flooded- it’s absolutely irresistible! Just such a happy, uplifting song! Always brings a bit of sunshine to my ears!” (Katie from BloodyHellBrennan.com)

J. Jr. Walker & The All Stars

K. “Keep your freedom for as long as you can now” – “Shop Around” by The Miracles

This was Motown’s and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles first million-selling single, released in 1960.

L. Lonely Teardrops by Jackie Wilson

Written by Berry Gordy alongside his sister, Gwendolyn Gordy and Roquel “Billy” Davis, the song was a smash hit. The success of Jackie Wilson’s songs spurred Berry Gordy to start his own label resulting in the birth of Motown!

M. Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder

“It was difficult to pick my favourite Stevie Wonder song but this one always makes me want to get up and dance.” (Frankie from NewGirlOnTheBlog.me)

N. “No wind, No rain, Nor winter’s cold can stop me, babe” – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

O. Ooo Baby Baby by The Miracles

P. Please Mr Postman by The Marvelettes

There is a funny reason behind why I love this song, when I was at school a remix of the original came out and my group of friends and I were obsessed with it. It became one of those songs we always put on in the car when we all first passed our driving tests.” (Frankie from NewGirlOnTheBlog.me)

Q. “Quit talking Square Biz”- Square Biz by Teena Marie

R. Reach Out I’ll be There by The Four Tops 

S. Superstition by Stevie Wonder

“It’s just such a great arrangement, the brass is phenomenal in this and that bassline is just pure funk! It’s utterly infectious!” (Katie from BloodyHellBrennan.com)

T. Too Many Fish in the Sea by The Marvelettes

“This song works as well as a regenerating bar of chocolate for breakup recovery gifts. Even with Wanda leading the whole affair, all of the ladies have a vocal moment in the sun here (perhaps the earliest trace of girl power?).” (Lela from LelaLondon.com)

U. Upside Down by Diana Ross

“Nile Rodgers wrote this song with Diana Ross and last summer I saw him and CHIC in concert. They played this song and it was an unforgettable moment in my life.” (Frankie from NewGilrOnTheBlog.me)

V. “Vote for me and I’ll set you free”- Ball of Confusion by the Temptations

W. Where did our Love Go by The Supremes

“I love this song because the Supremes are the epitome of a Motown girl band, this song was their breakthrough song which kicked off their massive careers. It is an upbeat song that everyone can sing and dance to yet the lyrics are written really well and it’s actually very meaningful.” (Amy from SincerelyAmy.com)

X. The world is rated “X” – Marvin Gaye

Y. You Really Got a Hold on Me by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles 

Z. Zoom by the Commodores– “I’d like to fly far away from here”

A poignant love song from Commodores multi-million selling, self-entitled album, written by group members, Ronald LaPread and Lionel Richie along with producer, James Anthony Carmichael.

What’s YOUR favourite Motown song? Let us know in the comments below!

Book tickets for Motown the Musical in the West End here.

Funny jokes that only theatre nerds would understand

They say that laughter is the best medicine, and we’re inclined to agree! Luckily, there’s jokes aplenty out there in theatre-land, from stand-up superstars to cheesy panto banter. Being the geeks we are, we can’t resist a theatre funny or two, so here are a few of our favourite jokes that only theatre nerds would truly understand…

  1. Two neighbours in Stratford have a dispute about whose house is the authentic birthplace of William Shakespeare. Officials kept the peace by putting a plaque on both their houses.
  2. A Stage Manager’s View of the World: The tech crew trips over clearly marked ledges. Actors trip over tape on the floor. Dancers trip over tape that was pulled up yesterday.
  3. How do you drown an actress?
    Place a mirror at the bottom of a pool.
  4. How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
    100 of course! 1 to screw the bulb in and 99 to stand around, saying, “It should be me up there!”
  5. How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
    Sorry, a new light bulb isn’t in the budget.
  6. A sound technician, a lighting designer and a stage manager find an old lamp, backstage at the theatre. One of them gives it a rub, and out wafts a genie!
    “Since you all found me,” he says, “You each get one wish!”The sound technician steps up and says, “I wish to be sitting poolside in my own multi-million-pound mansion!” And POOF, he is gone.

    The lighting director takes his turn and says, “Well, I wish to be sitting on the beach on my own multi-billion-pound private island!” And POOF, he is gone.

    Then stage manager turns to the genie and says, “I wish to have them both back in 10 minutes.”

  7. The funniest part of Macbeth is when the soldiers all cut a branch of a tree to hold in front of them while they march on the castle; pretending to be innocent trees instead of an army.

    The second funniest part is that it actually works.

    And a few one liners for luck…

  8. A friend of mine got sacked as a set designer for not getting the work done. He didn’t make a scene.
  9. Tried acting on a farm once. It went terribly; I got mooed off the stage.
  10. Planning to open a new shadow puppet show. Business plan says we’ll make a fortune, but those are just projected figures.

    Whether they make you giggle or groan, if you have any funny theatre gags to add to our list, we’d love to hear them! Or perhaps leave the comedy to the experts and treat yourself to tickets for a professional stand-up show…
    Browse upcoming comedy shows here!

 

 

10 things you didn’t know about Andrew Lloyd Webber

Whether you know him by his full name or simply as ‘The Lord’, Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the biggest names in Theatre Land!
With 13 smash hit musicals and a TV career under his belt, he’s no stranger to global success.

But how much do you really know about this legend of our time?

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Lord Lloyd Webber – use them to impress your mates during that pre-show drink!

1. He had musical parents. The man behind Cats and Phantom had an accomplished musician for a mother and a father who was a (you guessed it!) composer. Looks like talent really does run in the family!

2. He was a childhood prodigy. While we were playing with toy cars and Barbies, Lloyd Webber was working on his music. At nine years old he had already composed a series of musicals and could play both the violin and organ. Anyone else feeling a little inadequate right now?

3. He married the original Christine Daaé. Sarah Brightman played the original soaring soprano in The Phantom of the Opera and won Lloyd Webber’s heart! They wed in 1984 but divorced just six years later.

4. He gets the pre-show nerves. It’s reported he was so nervous before the premiere of Phantom that he had to leave the theatre! Looks like The Lord’s only human after all…

5. His biggest regret involves Tim Rice. Lloyd Webber told The Telegraph in 2013 that his biggest regret was not having a long-term writing partner. Artistic differences pulled him apart from Tim Rice – but as we all know, the show must go on!

6. He’s a record holder. Lloyd Webber is the first and only composer to have a whopping six productions running in London’s West End at the same time! Who says men can’t multi-task?

7. He’s a proud father of five. Lloyd Webber’s brood includes Imogen and Nicholas with his first wife, and Alastair, William and Isabella with his third. The ultimate modern family!

8. He’s a Tory. Lloyd Webber was made a Conservative peer in 1997 and even let his tune ‘Take that look off your face’ to be used on a party promotional film in 2005!

9. He’s a charitable man. Hats off to Lloyd Webber for putting his fame and money to good use. He has worked with a range of charities including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Nordoff Robbins, Prostate Cancer UK, and War Child. Plus, he’s got his very own foundation to support arts, culture and heritage in the UK too!

10. He’s blessed in the trouser department. Well, according to ex-wife Sarah Brightman anyway! She blurted out the risqué comment in an interview with Graham Norton and Lloyd Webber was so embarrassed on behalf of his son, he threatened her with legal action! Oopsy!

We’re always on the look-out for the next Lloyd Webber – but will anyone ever measure up?

Photograph by Lucy Sewill

School of rock ticketsPhantom of the opera tickets

An American In Paris Is Closing in Jan 2018 + Cinema Release

The producers of the new musical-ballet production An American in Paris, currently playing at the Dominion Theatre in London, have announced last night that the show will not continue beyond its current last booking date, Saturday 6 January 2018.

They have also announced that the London stage production has been filmed for future release in cinemas, featuring the original cast led by Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope.  Further announcements included plans for a major North American tour of the show.
An American in Paris premiered in 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris to ecstatic reviews before transferring to the Palace Theatre on Broadway, where it received 12 Tony® nominations, from which it won: Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, Best Set Design and Best Lighting Design. The musical also won several other awards, including Drama Desk Awards, Theatre World Awards and more.

The storyline follows an American GI who decided to stay in France after the end of the second world war, in the hope of following his dream career as a painter in the lively city of Paris. He meets a young ballet dancer, with whom he inadvertently falls in love.

An American in Paris is produced in London by Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan, Roy Furman, Michael McCabe and Joshua Andrews by special arrangement with Elephant Eye Theatrical, the Pittsburgh CLO and Théâtre du Châtelet.

An American In Paris is currently playing at the Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7AQ

@AmericanParisUK

Performance schedule:
Monday to Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday & Saturday matinees 2:00pm until Saturday 30th September
From Wednesday 4th October 2017: Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2:30pm
Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one 20-minute interval.

The full show listing and tickets can be found on our website: www.fromtheboxoffice.com/AnAmericanInParis (Special Offer Available) or the show’s official UK site AnAmericanInParisTheMusical.co.uk.

 

Stephen Mangan, Toby Jones & Zoë Wanamaker to star in The Birthday Party

After its world premiere almost 60 years ago, Harold Pinter’s landmark play The Birthday Party returns to the London stage in a new production by Ian Rickson featuring a power trio of Olivier Award winners: Stephen Mangan, Toby Jones and Zoë Wanamaker. Written in 1957, The Birthday Party was Pinter’s second full-length play, which soon became his most well-known and frequently performed work.

Stanley Webber (Toby Jones), an unemployed piano player, leads a mundane but peaceful life as the only guest in Meg (Zoë Wanamaker) and Petey Boles’ rundown seaside boarding house. When two strangers, Goldberg (Stephen Mangan) and McCann, arrive on Stanley’s birthday, their intentions grow increasingly sinister, and the harmless birthday party organised by Meg slowly turns into chaos. Everyone from the resort owners, to the innocent next door neighbour, becomes entangled in the turmoil of Stanley’s bizarre birthday party.

Widely recognised as one of the greatest plays of the late twentieth century, this intriguing drama is commonly classified as a ‘comedy of menace’: it has a unique ability to keep audiences amused but simultaneously on the brink of terror.

birthday party cast collage .png
Stephen Mangan, Toby Jones and Zoë Wanamaker (left to right)

Stephen Mangan is a British actor, best known for his roles as ‘Guy Secretan’ in Green Wing, andDan Moody’ in I’m Alan Partridge. Mangan’s previous stage credits include his portrayal of ‘Norman’ in The Norman Conquests on Broadway – for which he was Tony-nominated – and his role of ‘Bertie Wooster’ in Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Toby Jones is a British actor and voice artist, most well-known for his roles as ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ in The Girl and ‘Truman Capote’ in Infamous; he also provided the voice of ‘Dobby’ in the Harry Potter films. Described by the Independent as ‘Britain’s most versatile actor’, Jones’ stage credits include Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre and Parlour Song at the Almeida Theatre. This will be his first stage role since 2011.

Zoë Wanamaker, who is known for her roles in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and My Family, has worked extensively with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Following critically-acclaimed productions of Betrayal and Old Times, Ian Rickson returns to direct this new production at the Harold Pinter Theatre, open from Tuesday 9 January for a strictly limited 14 week run. Book tickets for The Birthday Party now!

Conor McPherson’s Girl from the North Country: What is it about?

The Old Vic proudly presents the world première of Girl from the North Country, opening in July.  The electrifying new show full of hope, heartbreak and soul, from award-winning playwright Conor McPherson, features the iconic songbook of Bob Dylan, including classics such as ‘Sweetheart Like You’ and ‘You Aint Going Nowhere’. 

What’s it about?
It’s 1934 in Duluth, Minnesota. A close-knit community, living life on a knife-edge, huddles together in their local guesthouse. Nick, the guesthouse owner, owes more money than he can ever repay; Elizabeth, his wife, is losing her mind, and Marianne, their daughter, is carrying a child that no-one will account for. When a boxer looking for a comeback and a preacher selling bibles show up at their doorstep in the middle of the night, things begin to spiral beyond the point of no return.

So is it a play? Is it a musical?
Girl from the North Country is a production with music; Conor McPherson emphasises that it is not a compilation of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits, nor a West End blockbuster in which the plot is driven by the music, but actually a ‘conversation’ between the story and Dylan’s classics.

Is the production biographical to Dylan?
It isn’t. However, it is set in the place where he was born (Duluth, Minnesota) in the 1930s, the period from which a lot of music that inspired Dylan (Woody Guthrie) was produced.

Is the music live?
Yes, there is a live band, comprised of 4 musicians playing piano, double bass, guitars and strings. Some actors will also be performing musical instruments on stage, including drums, tambourines and harmonica. Jack Shalloo (who plays Elias Burke) has learnt the harmonica for the role!

The cast members will also be using many original instruments from the period in which the production is set, including a 1930s drum kit and piano.

So who is the girl from the North Country?
The title is less descriptive than suggestive. Without giving too much away, it could refer to a number of characters.

Is the music in the style of Bob Dylan?
Some of the music is in Dylan’s style; however, you’ll see (and hear) a wide variety of styles throughout the performance. Some songs will perhaps feel more souly – and some more folky. There will be big ballads, similar to those performed in more mainstream musicals, and some songs that will be a little more stripped back and bare.

The company of Girl from the North Country recently performed extracts from the show in a recent workshop. Listen to them here.

Has Bob Dylan had any involvement in the production?
No more than a few days after Conor McPherson sent Bob Dylan’s management an outline of the production, he received an email from them saying:

‘Bob Dylan has read it, likes it, and is happy for you to go ahead.’

Shortly after, a parcel enclosing 40 Dylan albums arrived at his door, including a note specifying that he could use any songs in any way he liked.

Will Bob Dylan be seeing the production?
Conor McPherson and the team have worked very closely with Bob Dylan’s management on the genesis of the show, and will, of course, be inviting him!

Playing from Sat 8 Jul – Sat 7 Oct 2017, book tickets for Girl from the North Country now.

Elaine Paige, Ashley Banjo, Gary Wilmot, and Charlie Stemp join cast of Dick Whittington

Elaine Paige, Ashley Banjo & Diversity, Gary Wilmot and Charlie Stemp join Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin and Nigel Havers in the cast of Dick Whittington, playing for a strictly limited five-week festive run at the London Palladium from Saturday 9 December 2017 to Sunday 14 January 2018.

elaine blog
Elaine Paige will star as Queen Rat

 

Multi-award-winning actor, producer, and broadcaster Elaine Paige returns to pantomime after more than 50 years to play Queen Rat. Her previous West End credits include Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Follies, to name just a few. Elaine quickly took to Twitter following the announcement explaining that she is ‘so excited’ to star in her first panto since 1966!

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Diversity
Ashley Banjo & Diversity

 

Ashley Banjo is the founder and leader of innovative dance group Diversity (winners of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2009). Ashley and Diversity will star as The Sultan and his entourage!

gary blog
Gary Wilmot to star as Sarah the Cook

Gary Wilmot is set to star as Sarah the Cook. Gary’s theatre credits include Big The Musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and many more! Wilmot is also starring as Badger in The Wind in the Willows, opening at the London Palladium later this month.

stemp blog
Charlie Stemp will star as Dick Whittington

Award-winning Charlie Stemp currently plays the lead role in Half a Sixpence, which completes its West End run at the Noel Coward Theatre this September. Charlie will take the title role of Dick Whittington. Previous theatre credits include Wicked at the Apollo Victoria and the international tour of Mamma Mia!

Dick Whittington will be produced by Nick Thomas and Michael Harrison for Qdos Entertainment – the team behind last year’s London Palladium production of Cinderella, which was nominated for two Olivier awards!

A seasonal must-see for all ages, don’t miss your chance to visit the West End this Christmas for some fabulous festive fun. Book tickets for Dick Whittington today.

 

New cast announced for WICKED at the Apollo Victoria

Alice Fearn and Sophie Evans will head the new London cast of WICKED from Monday 24 July 2017. Also joining the cast are Bradley Jaden, Melanie La Barrie, Andy Hockley, Jack Lansbury and Laura Pick. 

Now in its 11th smash-hit year at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, the West End musical phenomenon WICKED, tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz and an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Based on Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed, best-selling novel, the show ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters in L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.

alice fearn

Alice Fearn, who will be replacing Willemijn Verkaik in the role of Elphaba (the illegitimate daughter of Melena Thropp and the Wizard of Oz), originally joined the London production in 2016 as a standby for the role. Her previous appearances in the West End include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Shrek The Musical, Into the Woods, Les Misérables and The Woman in White. 

sophie evans

Sophie Evans, who will be playing Glinda, was the acclaimed runner-up in the BBC talent show ‘Over the Rainbow’ and subsequently played ‘Dorothy Gale’ in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

bradley jaden

Bradley Jaden will take on the role of Fiyero (Elphaba’s love interest), which is his current role in the musical’s international tour. Previously, he starred in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre as ‘Enjolras’.

melanie

Melanie La Barrie is starring as Madame Morrible, and is currently part of the acclaimed Everyman Company at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. Previous roles include ‘Mrs Phelps’ in the original cast of Matilda, ‘Madame Thénardier’ in Les Misérables and ‘Mrs Corry’ in the original cast of Mary Poppins.

Andy Hockley

Andy Hockley, who is starring as The Wizard, has long been part of The Phantom of the Opera, playing ‘Monsieur Firmin’ at London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. He most recently played ‘Grandpa Potts’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at West Yorkshire Playhouse and on the UK & Ireland Tour.

jack lansbury

Jack Lansbury, graduate of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, is making his West End debut in WICKED as Boq.

laura pick

Laura Pick, Elphaba’s standby, played ‘Maria von Trapp’ in The Sound of Music at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Martin Ball (Doctor Dillamond), Sarah McNicholas (Nessarose) and Carina Gillespie (Standby for Glinda) continue in their current roles.

Current cast members Willemijn Verkaik (Elphaba), Suzie Mathers (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Sue Kelvin (Madame Morrible), Mark Curry (The Wizard) and Idriss Kargbo (Boq) are set to play their final performances on Saturday 22 July 2017.

Already the 17th longest running show in West End theatre history, the show has astonishingly won the WhatsOnStage Award for ‘Best West End Show’ three times, and is proudly a two-time winner of the Olivier Audience Award.

Book your tickets to the West End favourite, multi-award-winning show WICKED here.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical to complete its West End run

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical completes its astounding West End run on Saturday 5th August 2017, after two and a half years at the Aldwych Theatre.

Based on the early life and career of legendary singer songwriter Carole King, the musical received its Broadway premiere in January 2014 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. February 2015 saw the London premiere, and a US tour began soon after. The Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning show is set to open in Sydney, Australia this September.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical reveals the unknown story of King’s emotional journey from schoolgirl to superstar; from her troubled relationship with husband and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin, and their playful rivalry with fellow song-writing duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, to her incredible rise to stardom. The show intimately portrays how the woman who wrote the soundtrack to a generation became one of the most successful solo acts in music history.

1. Carole King surprises West End cast, 6 March 2017, photo Craig Sugden

During its West End run, the show had two surprise visits from Carole King herself, where she stunned both the cast and the audience with her presence, before taking to the stage to sing her classic You’ve Got A Friend. Fellow composers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann joined King for London’s opening night in February 2015.

Other classics featured in the show include Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Locomotion, One Fine Day, and A Natural Woman along, and hits from songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil such as You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and Uptown.

The West End cast comprises Cassidy Janson in the title role of Carole King, Matthew Seadon-Young as Gerry Goffin, Stephanie McKeon as Cynthia Weil, and Ian McIntosh as Barry Mann.

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical - 24th February 2015

The show will hit the road on a UK & Ireland national tour, starting in Bradford on 9 September 2017. You can view tour dates here.

Book tickets for the rest of the Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’s West End run here.

Watch the show’s trailer below.

Review: Don Juan in Soho – a thrill-ride of debauchery, anarchy, and chaos

David Tennant stars in an update of Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho, loosely based on Moliere’s tragicomedy ‘Don Juan’. Having premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 2006, Marber describes his new adaptation as ‘naughty but nice’.

Set in contemporary Soho, the focus of the classic French play is transformed to a more intimate – and particularly filthy – insight into the life of Don Juan: a hopelessly sexist, cruel seducer, who lives only for pleasure.

Don Juan in Soho

The play is opened by dancers dressed innocently – and ironically – in white, as the audience awaits what is soon to become a thrill-ride of debauchery, anarchy, and chaos. Anna Fleischle’s classic, simplistic set, featuring the impressive statue of Charles II, provides the perfect backdrop, while tensions rise as Tennant’s arrival on stage is eagerly anticipated.

Tennant thrives in his almost animalistic character: Don Juan (or DJ) seduces women (or at least attempts to) as often as possible – even if they happen to be a newly-wed crying in a hospital waiting room over their husband’s critically-ill state. He pursues his prey until they surrender: he made huge effort with Lottie, played by the compelling Dominique Moore, until their wedding day when she had become less interesting and ‘have-able’. 

David is suitably mischievous, revealing a side to his acting capabilities that is far removed from the sci-fi protagonist we knew and loved in Doctor Who, and the dour Detective Inspector in Broadchurch. He is no stranger to the stage, however, having played in Hamlet in Gregory Doran’s critically-acclaimed RSC production and in Richard II at The Barbican more recently.

Don Juan in Soho

Adrian Scarborough shines as Stan, a highly amusing but often disloyal side-kick to DJ, who claims that DJ will “do it with anything… even a hole in the o-zone layer”. As the play progresses, you find yourself growing increasingly empathetic towards sweet, stumpy Stan; the moment DJ admits the admiration he has for his companion is almost touching (it’s difficult to commit to describing a character as outrageously amoral as DJ as ‘touching’).

The hilarity of the play is certainly enhanced by its modern additions, perhaps most notably the reference to one of Trump’s many controversial remarks, but also DJ’s lecture on modern society having the need to be “friended, followed, and liked” and how we have so-called ‘progressed’ from “charcoal to the iPhone”. 

Don Juan in Soho

Despite DJ’s barbaric behaviour and severely out-dated views, Tennant succeeds in winning the audience over: you somehow forgive his lifestyle and find yourself planted firmly by his side.

Don Juan in Soho is running at the Wyndham’s Theatre until Saturday 10 June. For an unmissable, scandalous evening, book your tickets here.

3 Things To Know About the New Cast of Les Mis London

Les Mis London just announced a new cast starting on June 12: just in time for you to get in a little revolution this summer!(Though if they’d pushed it back a week earlier, the new cast could have officially stepped in on Barricade Day, just saying….)

Major cast changes include Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean, Carly Stenson as Fantine, Hayden Tee as Javert, and Karis Jack as Eponine. Steven Meo will step in as Thenardier, Jacqueline Tate as Madame Thenardier, and Hyoie O’Grady as Enjolras. Paul Wilkins and Charlotte Kennedy will continue in their current roles as Marius and Cosette, respectively.

Here are 3 things to know about the new cast of Les Misérables London:

1. Killian Donnelly has already played half the characters in the show – including in the film
So transitioning to the role of Jean Valjean should be fairly smooth. The Irish-born actor first joined the cast of Les Misérables in 2008 as swing. Shortly after joining the company, he understudied several roles, including Javert, Enjolras, and Jean Valjean (a role he performed on several occasions). His performances as an understudy must have impressed someone, because he officially took on the role of Enjolras shortly thereafter, and continued in that role from 2009 to 2011. But the buck doesn’t stop there. Donnelly also played Courfeyrac in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables at the O2, and Combeferre in the 2012 film adaptation.It’s been a few years since Donnelly has been involved in Les Mis, though. He’s currently playing the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway – a role that got him nominated for an Olivier Award.

2. Carley Stenson once received a nomination for Best Exit (not to be mistaken for Brexit)

From 2000 to 2010, Stenson played Steph Cunningham in Hollyoaks, a popular soap opera about a group of college kids. Stenson’s character eventually died in a burning building after struggling with cervical cancer (apparently she decided to go out with a bang, since she was dying anyway). Stenson’s exit from the show created quite a stir and even brought her a nomination for Best Exit. That seems particularly relevant to her new role as Fantine – a character who has possibly one of the most moving exits in theater history. But Stenson isn’t all doom and gloom: she’s also starred in West End productions of Legally Blonde, Shrek the Musical, and Spamalot.

3. Hayden Tee has played Javert in three different countries – UK will be the fourthThe New Zealander has played Javert in Australia, New York, and Dubai. He first performed the role in the 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables in Australia. Before the Australian run began in 2015, though, Tee attended a Broadway production of Les Misérables and hid a note to himself in one of the chairs inside the theater. The note read, “Dear Hayden, Congratulations on your Broadway Debut as Javert, March 2016.” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy: Tee debuted as Javert on Broadway in January 2016 and won several awards for his performance. Anyone who’s tried reading Les Misérables will also appreciate the fact that Tee has read Hugo’s 1400-page novel three times. I’d give him an award just for that.

Bonus:
Here’s our light-hearted look at this most serious-sounding of musicals

Where Does London’s West End END? The answer is in this map

Not all London Theatre is West End, not all West End is THE West End. But how are you supposed to know the difference? We’re here to help you with that.

The term West End is used with no official geographical definition as such, therefore, it varies depending on the subject being discussed.

For example, some people refer to the West End as the Central West part of London.  Ed Glinert’s West End Chronicles (2006)  describes the districts falling within the West End as Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Marylebone. By this definition, the West End borders Temple, Holborn and Bloomsbury to the east, Regent’s Park to the north, Paddington, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge to the west, and Victoria and Westminster to the south. This is a large area in comparison to the Theatreland definition of the West End.

Traditionally, the West End sits within the boundaries of Regent Street, Oxford Street, Kingsway and The Strand. However, The Apollo Victoria and the Victoria Palace Theatre are both also considered “West End Theatres” despite being in Victoria, which is outside this area. They are part of a classification of West End Theatre by means of the ‘type’ of shows they host – Big, blockbuster Andrew Lloyd Webber type of shows. It seems they are self-proclaimed West End Theatres and no one really dared to say otherwise!

Anyhow, If you are planning on getting yourself into a walking self-tour of the West End in a theatrical sense, I’d keep within the classical boundaries, because Victoria is a little bit far to go by foot, and it is also not very pretty as it stands now in 2017, being cramped with construction work – there isn’t much to see there!

A Map Of London's West End
An easy visualisation of London’s iconic Theatre District, the West End, and its boundaries.

Meet Janique Charles: The Lion King’s new Nala

Janique Charles officially replaces Ava Brennan in the role of Nala, Simba’s childhood friend, in Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. We sat down with her to discuss her journey in getting the role, what it’s like to work for Disney and, ultimately, how it feels to be part of the most successful musical in history.

'Can You You Feel The Love Tonight' - Nick Afoa as Simba, Janique Charles as Nala 2017 ©Disney.jpg

Congratulations on getting the role! Has musical theatre always been the ultimate goal for you?

I’ve always wanted to work for Disney. Whether it was through performing in a Disney musical, on the Disney channel or on a Disney cruise ship – I just knew I wanted to work for Disney. Having grown up endlessly watching Disney movies and Disney TV, I’ve always felt very connected to it – so this is a real dream come true for me.

So how did you get the role of Nala? 

I’ve been working on The Lion King for 4 years. I moved here from Trinidad and Tobago in 2013 to join Disney’s The Lion King UK tour, which also stopped in Basel, Switzerland, and that’s where my journey began! About a year ago, I made it to the West End, playing a number of different roles in the ensemble: the banana lady, a white bird, a hyena (which was so much fun!) and a lioness. Once I had a taste of playing a lioness, it became clear to me how much I’d enjoy playing Nala.

What do you particularly like about her?

She’s sweet, but fierce. She stands up for herself and those she cares about. It’s not in my character to be this fearless, so I love that in this role, I get to be fierce every day.

What’s your favourite thing about being part of such a successful musical?

I think the thing I appreciate the most is having the opportunity to work with so many professional and truly talented people. I learn so much from these world-class performers, whilst playing a part in a story that I adored growing up. It’s a wonderful experience.

'Shadowland' - Janique Charles as Nala 2017 ©Disney

If you could see any other film made into a musical, what would it be?

I’ve always liked the Prince of Egypt, I think that film has potential to be an incredible musical. There are some really underrated, beautiful songs. In terms of Disney films, The Lion King is of course my favourite, however, The Little Mermaid comes a very close second! I love the innocence of Ariel, but if it was made into a musical, I’d have to play Ursula – I have so much fun playing these bolder, more daring characters.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Well, working for Disney is what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve been working for years to get here. So I often have to remind myself to breathe, relax and enjoy what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

I think on a less serious note, falling over most days in rehearsals is a challenge. It’s a very physical show – particularly the fight scene between Nala and Simba – so it’s bound to happen. It’s past the stage of embarrassing now, but it sure does hurt!

So what’s your relationship like with Nick Afoa (Simba)?

Nick’s great – he’s a really funny, cool guy. He’s from New Zealand – so it’s really interesting learning about his culture and hearing all of his stories from when he played rugby professionally. We’ve had a lot of laughs since beginning rehearsals. But I love every member of the cast; they’re all so inspiring and bring so much to the show.

'The Embrace' - Nick Afoa as Simba, Janique Charles as Nala 2017 ©Disney .jpg

For people who haven’t seen the show yet, what can they expect?

It’s so beautiful. You just can’t even imagine how much you’ll enjoy it. There’s one particular scene with white birds that makes me fall in love with the show more each time; their costumes flow out like a flower in bloom. You can’t put into words how beautiful it is. The music, the costumes – it’s all mind-blowing.

One last question – is there any advice you’d give to aspiring actors/actresses?

To put it simply, never give up. Keep trying, auditioning, playing the smaller parts. I played so many characters in the ensemble for the show and I learned so much. I had to know the show in and out; that experience was truly invaluable.

Janique performs her role of Nala for the first time tonight at 7.30pm.
Book tickets for Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre here.

Watch the official trailer below.

Who is Tape Face? Here’s everything you need to know about Sam Wills.

Sam Wills, known as Tape Face (formerly The Boy With Tape on His Face), brings his uniquely hilarious comedy to the Garrick Theatre this June for a strictly limited run of 7 weeks.

So who is he?

He’s 38 years old, originally from Canterbury, New Zealand and calls himself a ‘prop comic’ to avoid the word ‘mime’ that connotes walking against the wind and striped tops (which he ironically wears in the picture below).

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Where did it begin?

When he was 12, he discovered a clown in his neighbourhood, knocked on his door and asked to be his apprentice – and that’s where the story begins!
His next stop was a circus school in his hometown of Christchurch, where he majored in juggling and acrobatics and graduated with a diploma in New Circus. After graduating, he began his career in “stand-up”, where he would walk on glass, hammer nails up his nose and eat marshmallows off of mousetraps (which is probably not the conventional Friday night entertainment you’d expect from your local comedy club).

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Why is he silent?

After winning a big New Zealand comedy award for a show called Dance Monkey Dance, people expected him to continue dancing like a monkey. After growing tired of this, he decided to shock his audience by creating a show that was the exact opposite – no dancing, no funny tricks, and absolutely no talking.
He unfortunately ruined it on his very first performance of his silent character by walking on stage and greeting his audience with ‘good evening, guys’; this is where tape was introduced and Tape Face was born!

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What has he done already?

Arguably the most interesting performance to date for Tape Face was his performance on the red carpet for the world premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in Wellington. He performed on the Royal Variety Performance in 2011, was nominated for the Fred Award in the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in 2012 and performed for several years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he met his future wife English burlesque performer Felicity Redman (also known as Lili La Scala); they are now proud parents of a baby boy whose middle name is Danger! Most notably, he made it to the final of America’s Got Talent in 2016 and began building a name for himself in the US.

Tape Face’s audition for America’s Got Talent 2016 was viewed over 45 million times on YouTube – that’s more than the population of Canada! You can re-live his time on AGT in the video below.

Why is he different?

Wills told Ed Potton (The Times) that his primary job as Tape Face is to encourage his audience to remember what it was like to be a kid, playing without fear or embarrassment. He claims that a lot of comedy shows recently push some kind of message or narrative, but he feels that comedy should just be about being fun and being funny.

One of the most captivating parts of Tape Face’s show is the relationship he develops with audience members; the time he convinced Mel B to wear a toilet seat around her neck on national television is a prime example of this!

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Tape Face is now West End-bound with his greatest gags, delivering guaranteed entertainment to UK audiences, whom he claims make him step up his game: “the UK has such a great tradition of comedy that you can’t slip something past an audience, because they’ll see through it pretty quickly” (The Times).

There’s nothing quite like Tape Face; his multi-award-winning spectacle really does need to be seen to be believed. With around-the-world critical-acclaim, you’d be a fool to miss the chance to be a part of the phenomenon this year.

Opening at the Garrick Theatre on Tuesday 6 June – book tickets here.

View the official trailer below.