NELL GWYNN: RESTORATION BOND GIRL

“They’ve disgraced our trade. Ruined our art. They’ve put a woman on the stage.”

At first glance, James Bond and Restoration Comedy might not seem to be natural bed-fellows. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find both contain a world of brave, brash and bawdy women unafraid to charm and calculate their way to notoriety. The Pussy Galore of the Seventeenth Century was without doubt Nell Gwynn, a woman who helped to challenge the male dominated world of British Theatre and went on to immortality in the names of numerous pubs.

So who better to play this Jewel of the Restoration than Bond Girl Gemma Arterton? One of the finest young talents of her generation, don’t underestimate Arterton’s versatility. She is a fine stage actress with a hugely diverse CV ranging from leading roles in Ibsen’s The Master Builder (Almeida) to Made In Dagenham (Adelphi). Like Nell herself, Arterton is ambitious, witty and fearless.

Jessica Swale’s blissfully entertaining comedy, Nell Gwynn, comes to the Apollo Theatre from 4th February 2016. Nell Gwynn celebrates an unlikely heroine, who went from Front of House orange seller to top comedy Actress, winning the adoration of the public and the heart of the King in the process.

Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale
Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale: Feat. Gemma Arterton

Although best known now as the mistress of King Charles II, here are five things you may not know about Nell Gwynn:

  1. She was nick-named “Cinder Nelly” and did actually buy a glass carriage!
  2. She had a mouth like a sewer
    Courtiers at the Palace said ‘Anybody may know she has been an orange-wench by her swearing’
  3. Her son was the Duke of St Albans
    Nell made good use of her filthy tongue. She reputedly called “Come here you little bastard” to her son in front of a horrified King. As Nell said, “what should she call him, was not bastard true?” A Dukedom followed very quickly.
  4. Nell’s greatest rival was the Duchess of Portsmouth, the Catholic Louise de Keroualle
    When Nell was insulted by a crowd, she leant out of her carriage and cried “Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore”
  5. She almost ended up in the Debtor’s Prison
    Following King Charles’s death in 1685, Nell appealed to King James who settled her immediate debts and provided her a pension of £1500 a year
Nell Gwynn: Used her considerable wit and charms to change British Theatre forever.
Nell Gwynn: Used her considerable wit and charms to change British Theatre forever.

Following a critically acclaimed and sell-out limited season of 11 performances at Shakespeare’s Globe, don’t miss this opportunity to see Nell Gwynn in the West End.

Until 30th Apr 2016
Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue

‘A delight, silly and serious… full of crowd pleasers, lilting music and sumptuous costumes… there is even a dog.’

★★★★

The Times

‘Falls between Restoration comedy, My Fair Lady, Carry On films and Blackadder.’

★★★★

Meet West End Wilma: The First Lady of Theatreland

We all love a good gossip, and few women have their finger more firmly on the pulse of Theatreland than top-blogger and all-round glamourpuss West End Wilma. So what of the lady behind the teapot? Join us for an exclusive peek through Wilma’s stage door!

Hi Wilma. It’s a tremendous honour to meet you – and you’re looking fabulous by the way! You’re well known for your love of tea and interviewing the great and the good of West End Theatre, but what we really want to know is….

Read more

Guest Post: 12 Things We’ve Learned From Working In A Theatre Box Office

This is a guest post from Stage Jobs Pro.

We think working in a theatre box office must be, on the whole, a great job to have but, like all customer-facing roles, maintaining a cheery persona whilst serving a constant stream of people for an eight hour shift is sometimes enough to challenge even the most friendly and super efficient human being.

A sense of humour is surely part of the job description and, with that in mind, our friends at Stage Jobs Pro have compiled this amusing list of things they’ve learned from selling tickets all day, every day.

  1. If there’s a way of getting into that sold out show, you know about it…

Skyfall_Shanghai_The_Elevator_1080p Read more

Is this the West End’s most expensive ever show?

Firstly, an apology. We’re about to use the C word. Christmas….and it’s still only August.

While we’re used to stories about the high cost of West End Theatre, even we were a little shocked at the news this week that a festive trip to Elf – The Smash Hit Musical will cost up to an eyewatering £240.00 per ticket. The show will star Kimberley Walsh (Girls Aloud, Strictly Come Dancing, Shrek The Musical) alongside  Joe McGann, Jessica Martin and Ben Forster (Jesus Christ Superstar).

Our advice is simply to avoid the uber-expensive seats. The Dominion is one of those theatres which, because it was once a cinema, tends to have pretty great views wherever you sit.

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Are you the next Sir Cameron Mackintosh?

Are you 16-25 or do you know someone who is?
Are you passionate about theatre?
Think you’re a budding stage manager, designer or lighting wiz?
Could you market a show and make it a hit?
Think you could show Sir Cameron Mackintosh how it’s done?

Your Theatre Needs You!

Booking is now open for TheatreCraft 2015, an essential, free, “beyond the stage” careers fair for anyone aged 16 – 25 looking for a non-performance career in theatre. It returns to the Royal Opera House on Friday 20th November 2015 and is celebrating its tenth inspirational career guidance event.

Read more

Stiles & Drewe’s Goldilocks & the 3 Bears CD launch!

On Friday afternoon, we popped along to the Theatre Café on Shaftesbury Avenue to attend the launch of the new studio cast recording of Goldilocks & the 3 Bears by Olivier Award-winning George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Soho Cinders, Betty Blue Eyes, Mary Poppins, Honk!).

The Theatre Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue - practically perfect in every way!
The Theatre Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue – practically perfect in every way!

Fans dropped in to buy a copy of the CD and get it signed by James Gillan and Leanne Jones from the cast, plus Stiles & Drewe who had hot-trotted it there direct from rehearsals of their latest musical, The Three Little Pigs – buy tickets from here! Read more

Miss Saigon to close, but will there be a DVD release?

*UPDATE: MISS SAIGON HAS BEEN RELEASED ON DVD – (buy on Amazon), making a new addition to our guide to essential DVDS & SOUNDTRACKS EVERY THEATRE FAN NEEDS!

**UPDATE: PREVIEWS FOR A LIMITED BROADWAY ENGAGEMENT OF MISS SAIGON BEGIN 1ST MARCH 2017.**

Original post from 2015:

We’re shocked (and saddened) to hear that Miss Saigon will sing her final notes at the Prince Edward Theatre on February 27th 2016. The show’s original production ran at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for ten years, so it comes as a real surprise that Cameron Mackintosh‘s epic revival, which opened in May 2014 will be flying off again quite so soon.

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Kids Go Free to London Shows this summer – our Kids Week top tips!

Now in its 18th year, the Kids Week promotion just gets bigger and better… Throughout August, Theatreland will be full of families enjoying theatre for less, thanks to Kids Week, the Society of London Theatre‘s summer promotion which enables a child aged 16 or under to see a show for free with a full paying adult, plus two additional children can go for half-price.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

More than 40 shows are taking part, including The Gruffalo, Aliens Love Underpants, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Railway Children, Hetty Feather, Let It Be, Memphis The Musical, War Horse and Wicked. Even new shows in town such as Bend It Like Beckham and Sinatra at the London Palladium are participating!

Booking is now open at www.kidsweek.co.uk or you can purchase tickets by calling the dedicated ticket hotline on 0844 248 5151. There are no booking or postage fees!

Kids Week has produced a special video to celebrate the Kids Go Free offer. How many show characters can you spot?

Here are our Kids Week top tips:

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Theatre In The Open Air: A Midsummer Night’s Treat

Pour a Pimms, pack a picnic and prepare yourself for some perfect summer theatre beneath the sun, the moon and the stars. Whether it’s a sunny Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre, or a midnight matinee of As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe, no summer is complete without some outdoor magic and moonlight. We’ve rounded up the very best open air experiences in London and around the British Isles… Read more

Douze Points: A West End Eurovision Love Affair

This weekend sees the 60th anniversary of the camp-fest that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

Laughter and Lycra....nothing beats the drama of a Eurovision final
Laughter and Lycra….nothing beats the drama of a Eurovision final

Vienna has re-phased its traffic lights in anticipation for a competition which started way back in 1956 when Europe was just a group of countries making cheese and squabbling over Poland. Since then, Europe has opened it’s arms to allow countries like Azerbaijan, Israel and anyone else with enough money to take part. This year, it’s Australia.

Austria's Eurovision crossings are anything but pedestrian...
Austria’s Eurovision crossings are anything but pedestrian…

Eurovision is unashamedly camp: Last year’s winner was Austria’s Conchita Wurst – part drag queen part bearded sausage. Before that we had Jedward singing about lipstick and Russia’s dancing grandmothers creating a decoy while the rest of the family invaded Ukraine. The West End has a long standing love affair with all this nonsenseso just how many West End performers have stepped up to “take one for their country”? Read more

Will the real Billy Elliot please step forward….

Who can believe ten years have passed since since Billy Elliot fouettéd his way onto the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre? Back in 2005, three incredible young actors created the stage role of Billy and wey aye man, they’ve grown up. In writing this post, I seem to have unearthed a wiki-leak…the curious case of the two George Maguires. But more of that later… Read more

Election Night – West End Special

Tonight, some 40,000 theatregoers will try to escape the UK general election by voting with their cheeks and parking their bottoms on the red velvet plush seats of London’s Theatreland. But Theatreland’s writers, actors and directors have a long standing fascination with their expense-dodging power hungry counterparts. Tonight, we take an irreverent look at the Politics of Theatreland – a place where neither Monarch nor Prime Minister is above derision. Famously described as “show business for ugly people”, Politics is a whole lot closer to theatre than we might like to admit, and when you look at the leaps of Eddie Izzard, Glenda Jackson and Russell Brand from the theatrical onto the political stage, you see how easily the lines can blur.

The Vote

Election night broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse

Catherine Tate and Samuel West will be voting Donmar [Photograh Johan Persson]
Catherine Tate and Timothy West will be voting Donmar [Photograh Johan Persson]
Judi Dench and Mark Gatiss tonight lead a stellar cast Read more

Jersey Boys Competition

Jersey Boys - Copy

There are a pair of tickets to be won for Jersey Boys at Picaddilly Theatre.

The Tickets will be made via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/FromTheBoxOffice and also via our Twitter page: http://bit.ly/1zje2Bx 

T&C’s: To enter you must like the Facebook page, share the post and comment (you can say anything, but if you don’t we can’t contact you if you win.) On Twitter you must follow us and re-tweet the competition Tweet. Over 16 year old only. Prizes non transferable and no cash alternative. No change of date or performance available.

There is no limit to the amount of entries, you can enter as many times as you wish via all channels.

The Winners will be announced on Monday 11 of May, at 11:00am London time.

Good Luck!

Best from the Box…

A disgruntled Kayleigh..!
A disgruntled Kayleigh..!

One of our favourite offbeat commentaries on London Theatreland is Kayleigh Llewellyn’s insider and alternative perspective at My So Called Life In A Box. Documenting her interactions and overheard conversations with the public, during her job at a West-End ticket selling booth, the blog is both insightful and hilarious. Though it consists of ‘found material’ and real-life incidents, Kayleigh self identifies as a “writer, improviser, feminist” and her nuanced sarcasm and astute observation never fails to have us in stitches. Without further ado, here are five of our top recent moments (click on titles for full posts): Read more

Knight of a Thousand Stars: Why the Ladies Love Kenneth Branagh

Like pubs, the Royal Family and cheese rolling, Kenneth Branagh is one of Britain’s greatest phenomena. Hollywood loves him, and so have a succession of incredibly talented and high-flying British women.

Kenneth Branagh
Knight of a Thousand Stars: Sir Kenneth Branagh

So, what is it about our Ken that attracts the likes of Emma Thompson and Dame Judi Dench to love and Read more

Beautiful Ladies Win Big at the Oliviers…

Katie Brayben as Carole King
Katie Brayben as Carole King

Beautiful is the story of hit-writing songstress Carole King – the ordinary girl behind the iconic songs. At Sunday night’s prestigious Olivier awards the musical, which was nominated for 8 awards, smashed it out of the park with two important wins. Katie Brayben went away with BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL and Lorna Want, her right hand woman who plays Cynthia Weil (a fellow writer and great friend of Carole’s) was awarded BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL.

You can catch the award winning musical in the West End’s Aldwych Theatre. For now here is the lovely Katie discussing the importance of the nomination to her and the cast…

We are also selling Beautiful tickets.

A Mad World My Masters – National Tour

madworld1_2590553bThere’s so much great theatre transferring from Stratford’s Swan – here we are with another post on an RSC production, now touring the UK.

The Royal Shakespeare Company may not exactly be synonymous with irreverence but Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World My Master is all glamour, filth and fun! Set in fifties Soho, it tells the story of a young bachelor desperate to get his hands on his rich uncle’s fortune by any means possible.

Sean Foley’s production comes complete with new gags, jazzy musical numbers and pure entertainment. The nationwide tour is already in full-swing and reaches London on April 29th, with a limited run at the Barbican.

For more information head here 

Oppenheimer Opening Soon

EventGallery-3566Here at From The Box Office HQ we are falling over ourselves with excitement for the upcoming, limited run of Oppenheimer at Vaudeville Theatre, Lodon (March 27th).

Tom Morton-Smith’s play was an explosive hit (ahem, sorry… we couldn’t resist!) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, with critics praising the show’s marriage of personal intrigue and historical import. Dominic Cavendish called the ambitious RSC production “an evening greater than the sum of its many brisk scenes”.

j-robert-oppenheimerScientific biopics are seemingly rather en vogue just now, with both The Imitation Game and Theory of Everything clearing up at the film awards ceremonies this year… it seems theatre is to be no exception.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was by all accounts a fascinating character, wrapped up in Communist politics and now associated with philosophical queries into the morality of science and war. Morton-Smith’s play chronicles The Manhatten Project from the discovery of nuclear fision, through to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima but also takes pains to explore the man himself. It is both meticulously researched and thoroughly accessible. An insightful yet entertaining watch…

Oppenheimer is directed by Angus Jackson and retains the majority of it’s 20 strong, critically acclaimed cast members.

Oppenheimer is showing at Vaudeville Theatre, London from March 27th – May 23rd. Tickets are available from £27.16.