After a sell-out, critically acclaimed premiere at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, Ian Shaw and Joseph Nixon’s brilliantly funny play will arrive in the West End from 11th May. The Shark is Broken reveals the hilarious behind-the-scenes drama on one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, and tickets are on sale now from just £18.75.
Netflix has rapidly become our first choice for lazy day entertainment, providing us with hours of bingeable material at the touch of a button. To those of you with an account (which is almost everyone, right? Find out your mum’s login details if not!): Once you have eventually caught up on Orange Is the New Black – and maybe had a shower, peeled back your curtains and engaged in some human interaction – you’ll be delighted to hear that you have access to some of the best musical theatre from the comfort of your own home!
From timeless classics like Annie and Funny Girl, to modern creations like Mamma Mia!, Netflix can satisfy every theatrical desire. Here are the top 8 musicals available for streaming right now:
1. Annie (1982)
Follow 11-year-old Annie, the world’s favourite urchin, as she transforms from rags to riches after capturing the heart of Daddy Warbucks with her adorable innocence and optimism. It’s a charming, feel-good classic complete with unforgettable songs. Perfect entertainment for a rainy day.
A brand new production of AnniestarringMiranda Hart opens at London’s Piccadilly Theatre on 23 May. Book tickets here.
2. Dreamgirls (2006)
Adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical, and taking strong inspiration from the true story of The Supremes,Dreamgirls explores the evolution of 60s & 70s R&B music through the eyes of American girl group The Dreams. Tensions arise for the girls when their manager replaces lead singer Effie with the more ‘marketable’ Deena. Boasting a star-studded cast of Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy, this is a real must-see.
3. Funny Girl (1968)
Follow the life-story of Broadway star Fanny Brice in the semi-biographical musical film Funny Girl. Based on the 1963 musical, the romcom – starring Oscar Award-winning Barba Streisand – highlights Brice’s hostile relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein. It’s an old classic that’s definitely worth a watch.
4. Grease: Live (2016)
Be transported back to the 1950s to follow the whirlwind high-school romance between innocent Sandy and greaser Danny in a live television special starring Julianne Hough,Vanessa Hudgens and Carly Rae Jepson. Incorporating elements from both the 1978 film and the original stage production – as well as brand new songs – it’s an uplifting, one-night musical extravaganza you don’t want to miss!
5. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
In the fantasy musical film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Barbra Streisand stars as a brash New Yorker who, at the request of her conservative fiancé, undergoes hypnotherapy to diminish her smoking habits. While under hypnosis, she shifts between present day and her past life in early 19th-century England. The film adaptation, and the oldest musical on Netflix, is described by Paramount as “a delightful combination of comedy, drama, fantasy and music.”
6. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Embrace the lovable hits of Swedish pop band ABBA in Mamma Mia!– the film adaptation of the 1999 West End musical. A single mum is preparing for her daughter’s wedding on the Greek isle of Kalokairi, when her three ex-lovers (and potential fathers of the bride-to-be) arrive for the big day. With a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Julie Walters – and ABBA’s most-loved songs – Mamma Mia! promises to delight and uplift.
7. Puss in Boots (1988)
Much to his dismay, Corin inherits only a cat from his father. However, he is soon stunned to learn that the cat transforms to a human being when wearing a pair of boots. Follow the adventures of the magical cat as he helps his young master win the heart of a princess! Jason Connery and Christopher Walken star in this lovable musical film adaptation of the classic fairy tale Puss in Boots.
8. De-Lovely (2004)
Explore the life and career of American composer and songwriter Cole Porter in the 2004 musical biopic De-Lovely. From the night he first met his devoted wife, up until the day he died, you’ll witness his life unfolding much like one of his musicals.
We’ve all been there: You have 3 one night stands in a row, fall pregnant and then 20 years later your daughter tracks all three possible fathers down on her wedding day using only the songs of ABBA. Sound familiar?
That’s the basic premise of Mamma Mia!, the hit musical featuring the songs of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show has now been running in London’s West End for an incredible 18 years and since then, national tours and productions have sprung up around the world. So what is it that makes the show such an enduring hit? And who are the characters? Let’s take a tour through the Greek Islands to the fabulous world of Mamma Mia:
Here we have our Seven Things you never knew about Mamma Mia!, followed by pretty much everything there is to know about the show
During early London previews, audiences laughed so hard at the actors’ serious delivery of dialogue like “Chiquitita, tell me…what’s wrong?” that scenes had to be hastily redirected with tongues firmly in cheeks – it worked and the show became a monster hit.
Producer Judy Craymer met Benny & Björn while they were in London promoting their first musical, Chess. She loved the theatricality of The Winner Takes It All and suggested a musical using ABBA’s back catalogue. At first the boys were less than enthusiastic but thankfully Judy changed their minds!
Mamma Mia! has strong female leads – and the team behind the show was also comprised of three amazing women: Producer Judy Craymer, writer Catherine Johnson and director Phyllida Lloyd.
The cast gets through 121 bras per show – That’s a lot of underwire!
And is the 8th longest running show in West End history. It first opened in the West End in 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre, transferred to the Prince of Wales in 2004 and in September 2012 it transferred to the Novello Theatre.
33,000 Rhinestones have to be individually sewn on to the costumes used in Super Trouper. If just one rhinestone were to come loose, it’s believed the whole Swedish economy could collapse.
Mamma Mia! is the shows with the most number of people per booking – more than The Lion King – with an astonishing average of 3.5 tickets per single booking. Groups of women, maybe? We don’t know, but it could be as there is plenty of male flesh on show in the show…
Meet the characters (in order of appearance):
Sophie managed to grow up in Greece without a trace of a Greek accent. She is getting married to Sky. Her mother, Donna, has a terrible habit of leaving her diary lying around. Sophie’s main hobbies are reading other people’s diaries and singing Abba songs.
Lisa & Ali
Lisa & Ali are Sophie’s best friends. They perform important Musical Theatre duties such as singing, acting and explaining elements of plot which cannot otherwise be explained through Swedish Pop Music.
Best friend of Donna, Tania has developed a deliciously cynical view of the world. Once a member of “Donna and the Dynamos” she has since made a living by divorcing as many times as possible.
An unmarried British author and other best friend to Donna. Rosie also sang with “Donna and the Dynamos”. Now dumpy frumpy and middle aged but still a up for a laugh, she remains quite a man-eater if left unwatched.
Mamma Mia is set on a Greek Island, so book writer Catherine Johnson decided to name the lead character after a kebab. To complete the cliché, Donna owns a taverna and wears dungarees – presumably to cover the chilli sauce stains.
Sky is the boyfriend of Sophie and soon-to-be-son-in-law of Donna. He set off around the world in search of himself, but only made it as far as the West End. He now earns a living designing Greek versions of Tripadvisor and taking his top off.
The slightly crazy sidekick/best man to Sky, Pepper (not to be confused with the cartoon pig) tends bar for Donna and is quite the smitten kitten when he bumps into her best friend and Musical Theatre cougar, Tania.
One of Sophie’s three possible fathers. A writer and adventurer, Bill falls in love with Rosie. Bill is only Swedish in the film – presumably to keep Scandinavian cinema-goers, the chef in the muppets and the rest of ABBA happy?
An architect and the second of Sophie’s three possible fathers. Sam broke Donna’s heart 20 years before when he returned to his wife-to-be. But Sam soon realised he loved Donna and returned to win her back, only to find she had found a new way to keep her kebabs warm.
The third of Sophie’s three possible fathers, Harry confesses that Donna was the first – and last – woman that he loved. He then realised why – and ended up with two dogs and a husband.
The Creative Team
Catherine Johnson wrote the book for both the Stage and Screen versions of Mamma Mia, spurred on by earlier successes including writing many of the best lines in series 9 of Byker Grove.
The Producer Judy Craymer reportedly made £90m from the success of Mamma Mia. She later turned her back on success by developing Viva Forever, a musical featuring the songs of the Spice Girls. Sadly it turned out to be Viva Not Forever and the show quickly waved Goodbye.
Now a CBE, Phyllida Lloyd directed Mamma Mia on both stage and screen. She loved Meryl Streep so much that she stalked her until she finally gave in and agreed to play Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Mamma Mia: The Movie
Following the incredible success of Mamma Mia on stage, in 2008 the decision was taken to make as much money as possible by releasing a movie version. This also gave several screen hunks, including Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, the chance to demonstrate why singing is sometimes best left to the professionals. Despite some bum notes, the film became the highest grossing British movie of all time.
Top Five reasons people love Mamma Mia on Stage:
It reminds them of being on holiday
The show is packed full of great Abba songs and Pierce Brosnan doesn’t sing any of them
The cast is full of young pretty people dancing and singing
Mamma Mia also has its own YouTube channel, where you can find a series of behind-the-scenes videos, see them all here:
Abba Songs featured in Mamma Mia (in order)
Act I Honey Honey (Sophie)
Money, Money, Money (Donna, Tanya, Rosie, Pepper & Ensemble)
Thank You for the Music (Sophie, Sam, Harry & Bill)
Mamma Mia (Donna & Ensemble)
Chiquitita (Donna, Tanya & Rosie)
Dancing Queen (Donna, Tanya & Rosie)
Lay All Your Love on Me (Sky, Sophie, Male Ensemble)
Super Trouper (Donna, Tanya, Rosie, Female Ensemble)
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) (Male ensemble)
The Name of the Game (Sophie and Bill)
Voulez Vous (Ensemble)
Under Attack (Sophie and Ensemble)
One of Us (Donna)
SOS (Donna & Sam)
Does Your Mother Know (Tanya, Pepper & Ensemble)
Knowing Me, Knowing You (Sam)
Our Last Summer (Harry & Donna)
Slipping Through My Fingers (Donna & Sophie)
The Winner Takes It All (Donna)
Take a Chance on Me (Rosie & Bill)
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do (Sam, Donna and Company)
I have a Dream (Sophie)
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)
This dysfunctional couple makes the Addams Family look like Read more →