Ever thought about writing a theatre blog? Even seasoned bloggers sometimes need some expert guidance, so we were utterly thrilled when BBC broadcasting legend and theatre critic Libby Purves OBE agreed to share a few of her insider tips with us.
Tips like:
  • How bloggers get started?
  • How long should a review be?
  • Which blogs do the bloggers read?
  • How long do bloggers spend blogging?
  • Why it’s not always about the big hit shows.

In the first of a series of interviews with the West End’s top Theatre writers and bloggers, we meet Mark Shenton. Mark co-founded MyTheatreMates.com with friend Terri Paddock, a site which is building a big network of great bloggers and has some terrific contributors.

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My Theatre Mates – definitely a must read for all thespians!

Mark is associate editor of The Stage, as well as joint lead critic. He has written regularly for The Stage since 2005, including a daily online column.

Hi Mark and thanks for the interview. When did you start writing a blog and what do you wish you’d known back then?

This week we met the enchanting Gemma Sutton who has been wowing audiences in hit West End show Gyspy as Rose’s daughter June and now takes over from Lara Pulver in the role of Louise, a character who undergoes a chrysalis-like transformation to become the complex and eponymous Gypsy.

There’s still time to catch Chichester Festival Theatre’s jaw-dropping West End transfer of possibly the greatest of all American Musical, Gypsy. The show is booking until 28th November at the Savoy Theatre and features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.

Hi Gemma. You’ve been playing June since Gypsy started – when did you take over the role of Louise?

When we last met Murray Lane he was stuck in a lift with Patti Lupone seconds from disaster in Sunset Boulevard. In the second part of our exclusive two part showbiz interview , we talk to the man who dressed Lee Evans in The Producers, once revealed a nearly naked Oliver Thornton in Priscilla, and is now leaving Oompa-Loompas in stitches on a nightly basis at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Lee Evans and top West End dresser Murray Lane
Lee Evans and top West End dresser Murray Lane

Hi Murray – tell us about your current show…

Right now I’m working on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I can’t believe it’s been two years! I actually started 3 weeks after the show opened. Before that, I was on Viva Forever!

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….

4star

“One sees something new every time one looks at truly beautiful things.”

There is a crackle of electricity as the house lights dim in the Noel Coward Theatre. London has waited 16 years for the return of one of the greatest stars of Hollywood’s nineties and noughties. This Oscar Winning Best Actress has that rarest of things – genuine star quality – and the starkness of the contrast between Kidman’s radiance

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…

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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.

4starJaw dropping high octane male burlesque Age guidance: Suitable for adults only After a dazzling sell-out run in 2014, the all-male burlesque phenomenon Briefs returns this summer for a fourth time to London Wonderground. Hosted by Shivannah (Fez Faanana), a feisty antipodean drag queen, the fun starts even before you walk in to the fabulously big topped Spiegeltent currently sandwiched between the Royal Festival Hall and London Eye. There can’t be too many places you can sup a pre-show glass of Prosecco sitting in a fairground waltzer eyeballing a nearly naked male burleque dancer, can there? This is one theatrical soiree you really do want to arrive at early – when they call you, get in line fast to get the very best of the unreserved seating.

“Get there early for the very best of the unreserved seating”.

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.

Fancy rubbing shoulder-pads with Norma Desmond or helping Oliver Thornton out of his Basque? When Tiffany Graves, star of Chicago and The Producers gave us her “leading lady” list of the West End’s most interesting characters, one name was at the very top. Murray Lane has been dressing the biggest stars in the West End for three decadent decades, and we’re thrilled to say that he’s agreed to share his dressing room secrets and tales from the theatrical closet with us. In this two part interview, we meet the man who knows Patti LuPone, Elaine Paige and a host of West End stars very intimately indeed!

Patti Lupone: Every performance is a Masterclass
Murray with Patti LuPone: Every performance is a Masterclass

Hi Murray – let’s start at the very beginning – how long have you been a dresser?

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!