I WON’T SEND ROSES: VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIAL

Its Valentine’s Day again. Posh restaurants, overpriced hotels and ticket touts flogging seats to panicked looking gentlemen who forgot to arrange anything. For the rest of us, it’s probably either a bunch of flowers, some chocolates, or most likely another February wondering what’s happened to the postman…

For all us Bridget Joneses, Shirley Valentines and Edward Scissorhands, fear not! There’s a whole world of Musical Theatre couples out there whose love lives are so complicated and messy, you’ll find yourselves thanking your lucky stars you’re treating yourself to a bottle of Chardonnay and a night in singing All By Myself and waiting to be eaten by Alsatians…

Oh well…Take a look at these Musical Theatre news headlines from Valentines past as we skip through the rose-beds of Theatre’s great romances. And then ruin them.

COUPLE NUMBER ONE: CHRISTINE DAAE AND “ERIK” (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA)

Phantom of the Opera - The Real News Headlines
Phantom of the Opera – The Real News Headlines circa 1986….

This dysfunctional couple makes the Addams Family look like Read more

Tiffany Graves Interview – if you’ve got it…flaunt it!

If the West End is the beating heart of the UK Theatre scene, then the National Tour is its lifeblood.

One of this year’s (2015) biggest UK tours is undoubtedly Mel Brooks’ Broadway and West End smash hit, The Producers.

The Producers - keeping it gay around the UK!
The Producers 2015 – keeping it gay across the UK! [Photography: Hugo Glendinning]
There was widespread speculation as to who would lead the cast and we think they’ve got it spot on.

  • Jason Manford (who played Pirelli alongside Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton in Sweeney Todd) is Read more

The Curious Incident of the Dangling Comedian

PANTOMIME: UNCOVERED – PART TWO

In Pantomime: Uncovered – Part One, we met the Grand Dame of Panto, Christopher Biggins. Most big Pantomimes rely on “names” – in this case Biggins and David Hasselhoff – to pull in the crowds. But panto is a big beast, and each show only as good as the whole of the cast and crew, who work their collective socks off to make the whole experience sheer and utter magic. For every big name Dame, there’s a Tinkerbell just starting out, or a Wishy Washy with years of tumble-drying behind them.

Every Captain Hook needs a great first mate: Hailing from Torquay, Steve Laister plays Starkey, sidekick to David Hasselhoff’s Seafaring Pirate. Fortunately for us, Steve will do anything for a Slush Puppy….including an impromptu interview!

The Comedy Relief

"Slush Puppy for Mister Starkey?"
“Slush Puppy for Mister Starkey?” – Curtis Bannister-Pond at the Theatre Shop…

So Steve…what first got you into Showbusiness?

“A bet!”

Really?

“Yep. I was a semi-professional snooker player and the snooker lads bet me a coke that I wouldn’t enter a talent show. So I did…”

Is this is your first panto?

“Qdos have asked me for about five years to do it, and I always said no. I gave in this y Read more

London Theatre Guide – a cat’s eye view of West End theatre

londontheareguide

I’m Winston. The Theatre Cat.

TheatrePaws

Want to bag front row seats on the day for twenty quid? Fancy a gamble on the Book of Mormon Lottery? Missed out on City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse?

Maybe you want to avoid wasting money on a complete turkey, but don’t have time to plough through endless reviews?

Read more

Christopher Biggins Interview: Dame At Sea

PANTOMIME: UNCOVERED – PART ONE

FEATURING AN INTERVIEW WITH THE GRANDEST OF DAMES, CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS

Christopher Biggins prepares for another pantomime...
Theatre Legend Christopher Biggins: Star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jesus Christ Superstar…and nearly 40 pantomimes.

Hop aboard the magic carpet, step up into the golden carriage, and cry “anchors aweigh”  as we transport you through the Stage Door into the magical world of Pantomime. Read more

An unforgettable chat with Luke Fredericks on his latest Bat Boy!

Batboy: It’s a BEAST of a show

Rob Compton as Bat Boy
Rob Compton as the eponymous Bat Boy

Meeting Luke Fredericks – currently directing Batboy which begins previews at the Southwark Playhouse tonight, 9th January 2015 – is unforgettable. Full of energy and passion, it’s a privilege to meet this ebullient young director, whose recent production of Carousel, New York Times critic Ben Brantley described as Read more

‘Tis The Season To Be Jellicle

Welcome to Christmas in Theatreland! If you’re unfeasibly excited, up to your eyeballs in wrapping paper and overdosing on eggnog, you’re not alone. The nights may be long and skies dark and gloomy, but fear not – the lights of Theatreland burn bright at this time of year. You’re not short of choices either – White Christmas, The Snowman, Slava’s Snow Show…it’s quite possible to see a different Yuletide favourite on each of the twelve days of Christmas.

Love him or loathe him, nothing says Christmas like Aled Jones.
Love him or loathe him, nothing says Christmas like Aled Jones.

I feel like I should be wearing wings and hovering above a stable for this bit, for I bring glad tidings of great joy to you and all mankind – the arrival of a new star in the West End sky. There’s a certain shudder of fearful anticipation in theatre circles when it’s announced that a celebrity is cast in a much loved show; for every Catherine Tate (currently wowing in Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory), there’s a Caprice Bourret (who mimed her way through so much of Rent that she became known as Marcel Marceau). So I’m delighted to report that Nicole Scherzinger is a whole different proposition – her acting is good and boy, can she sing!

Nicole, perhaps most famous for a stint alongside Simon Cowell on X Factor, joins a cast of West End singers and dancers for a much anticipated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. We’re not sure it really needed reviving, but it’s keeping that wonderful old beast, the London Palladium warm and toasty over Christmas, so who’s complaining? It’s somewhat ironic that the Palladium only became available following the premature flop of Cowell’s own show, I Can’t Sing.

A word of caution – if you’re booking to see Cats this Christmas or New Year, it’s worth noting that Scherzinger doesn’t perform in every show.

From Pussycat Doll to Pussycat Diva: Nicole Scherzinger
From Pussycat Doll to Pussycat Diva: Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole appears until 7 February 2015 except at performances on 30, 31 December 2014 and 1 January 2015, subject to illness, diva moments, catsorcisms, and arguments with Lewis Hamilton.

If a load of mangy old cats wailing about in a giant litter tray isn’t your thing, here are a few other ideas to brighten up the Christmas Break:

FASCINATING AIDA AT THE SOUTH BANK

Fascinating Rhythms from a fabulous threesome...
Fascinating Rhythms from a fabulous threesome…

Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman are a comedy-cabaret trio with three Olivier Award nominations, three national tours and over ten million YouTube hits for ‘Cheap Flights’ (their infamous anthem to budget travel).

Fascinating Aida are cabaret royalty whose alumni include Russell Churney and Issy Van Randwyck. The show is filled with topical concoctions hot off the stove, along with treasured old jewels. Like a magnificent Stilton, these ladies just improve with age.

Charm Offensive, the fabulously decadent show from Fascinating Aida, returns to Queen Elizabeth Hall From 1st – 11th January 2015.

http://www.fascinatingaida.co.uk/

FROST FAIRS AND FROZEN FINGERS

London's South Bank is the place to be for some brilliant seasonal theatre.
London’s South Bank is the place to be for some brilliant seasonal theatre.

Between the 17th and early 19th Centuries, the magnificent river Thames regularly froze, giving birth to London’s magical Frost Fairs. It’s been a long time since anyone could walk on the Thames (barring Jesus or possibly David Blaine), but it’s still possible to continue the festivities courtesy of the southbankcentre’s wonderful winter festival.

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/winter-festival

Also on the Southbank, sandwiched between the Royal National Theatre and Borough Market, if Christmas is incomplete without a really good story told by candlelight you may still (if you’re very lucky) be able to snap up a ticket for Winter’s Tales:

http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on/concerts-by-candlelight/winters-tales

Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) reads Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Lady with the Little Dog’, Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) brings life to ‘The Garden Party’ by Katherine Mansfield and Roger Allam will read ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ by DH Lawrence. These and more are all read by romantic candlelight in the Globe’s magnificent new indoor theatre, The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!