Cassidy Janson on Beautiful, Big Breaks and Bezzas

Cassidy Janson is currently blowing audiences away as Carole King  in hit West End musical Beautiful. Appropriately, we met Cassidy on one of the windiest days of the year!

Cassidy, thanks for making it through a tornado to talk to us. You must be up to your eyes in Beautiful’s first birthday celebrations?

Yes, everything happens at once. It’s blowing a gale outside…and of course it’s today that both the washing machine and the TV decide to break down! Read more

MURRAY LANE: UNDRESSING THE WEST END (Part One)

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?

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Here is how you can still see Nicole in CATS if you haven’t got a ticket yet.

The announcement of Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella has blown The Palladium Box Office with bookings and tickets were sold out within a few weeks of their release.

Since the show opening in December, reviews have been raving and several celebrities have been spotted in the audience – it seems this is THE West End event of the year (including 2014!) and getting hold of a ticket for performances before the 7 of February can be challenging indeed! So we thought we would help you out so you don’t miss out on all the fun.

GRAB THOSE DAY SEATS!

You will have to queue up. Get up early and arrive at the London Palladium Box Office before 8 am on the day of the performance you are aiming for – Day Seats are for the same day ONLY. There are around 40 tickets available every day (only) and they cost £25 each, but each person can buy only 2 tickets. You also MUST BUY WITH A DEBIT/ CREDIT CARD – they don’t take any cash over the counter. I have rang the Box Office and they haven’t seen anyone staying overnight yet – but I would try arriving very early just to make sure. The Box Office opens at 10 am and it sells out within a few minutes.

TRY THE SECONDARY MARKET

If you have some cash to spare (like over £100 per ticket) and want to book a little bit in advance then try STUBHUB (I have seen some tickets for £35 which seems a fair price to me). If you can’t find then go to SEATWAVE (but the prices are high!)

You can also try GET ME IN and any other re-seller you can think of – but it’s good to have a little browse as prices vary.

WHAT ** NOT TO DO **

Don’t buy off ticket touts on the streets! On top of overpriced, they might be FAKE and you will not be allowed in. Never provide payments in advance to anyone and avoid Ebay. Buying from a ticket seller may be expensive but your entry is guaranteed.

I hope this little guide is useful and that you can still see this wonderful show!

‘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!