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London cabaret Sondheim style

London cabaret gets a new spin with the launch of a series of Stephen Sondheim Society presentations at London’s Leicester Square Theatre Lounge, teeing off with actress Rachael Louise Miller on Wednesday, 19 June. These one-hour shows, starting at 7pm, will feature rising talents and more established names performing programmes in which Sondheim’s work will […]

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Miss Nightingale – The Burlesque Musical

Miss Nightingale – The Burlesque Musical, a touring production, reviewed at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham (23-25 May). Sex, scandal and showbiz in London 1942 is the subtitle of Miss Nightingale – The Burlesque Musical,  a show that highlights the dangers that beset freethinking performing artists in a backward-looking war-torn England, where lust lingers but sexual preferences and […]

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The Great Gatsby – Riverside Studios, London

Playing at the Riverside Studios, London until 8 June. It is clear from the outset that a Fringe musical of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby could never compete on scale or budget with Baz Luhrmann’s $100 million-plus Hollywood adaptation. But nor should it attempt to – and Ruby in the Dust’s production […]

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Avenue Q – Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Playing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London until 30 June. Although it ran for five years in the West End followed by a national tour, Avenue Q‘s Off-Broadway roots always showed. In its first UK fringe theatre production, the smaller space and intimacy works in its definite favour. The musical takes the idea of humans […]

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Hairspray the tour

Hairspray, a touring production, reviewed at the Hippodrome, Birmingham (21 May-1 June). If Hairspray has become one of the UK’s biggest hit musicals of the past three years, it’s because it deserves all the accolades showered upon it. It has everything. The story and lyrics, devised by a prodigiously talented team of four (librettists Mark O’Donnell […]

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Anne Reid at Crazy Coqs

Anne Reid In a New Key, at the Crazy Coqs, London. Electrocuted as Valerie Barlow in Coronation Street in 1971, Dinnerladied by Victoria Wood in 1998, kit off as a daring 66-year-old who beds a pre-Bond Daniel Craig in The Mother in 2003 and wooed by Derek Jacobi in last autumn’s wonderful TV series Last Tango […]

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Next Thing You Know – Landor Theatre

Playing at the Landor Theatre, London until 8 June. It’s not always easy to recognise whether you’ve got the right ingredients to make a musical work, but despite writers Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham’s best efforts to just write theatre music without a story, Next Thing You Know truly hits the spot with its universal […]

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Some Like It Hotter is fast and funny

Some Like It Hotter, a touring production, reviewed at the Devonshire Theatre, Eastbourne (15-18 May). Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, the stars of the iconic film Some Like it Hot, are reunited in the afterlife. They have been restored to their younger, beautiful and sexy selves and find themselves in one of Heaven’s waiting […]

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Sondheim Society Performer of the Year

Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year Competition 2013 and the Stiles and Drewe Best New Song Prize. Reviewed at the Garrick Theatre, London. When it was suggested to Stephen Sondheim that a song competition be formed in his name, he agreed only if it included new songs by young composers. For the seventh year […]

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Hutch is a story that needs to be told

Playing at the Riverside Studios, London until 8 June. Ruby in the Dust’s new play-with-music, written by Joe Evans and directed by Linnie Reedman, tells the story of Grenadian-born Leslie ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson who became one of the biggest cabaret stars of the 1920s and 1930s. He was also lover to both Cole Porter and Edwina […]

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A Phantom more human than the Webber version

Playing at the Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, Walthamstow until 31 May. “The greatest hit never to be produced on Broadway,” those are the words of veteran Broadway composer Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic) when commenting on his show Phantom which receives its British professional premiere at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre. After their triumphant productions including Flora, the […]

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Evita tour allows Alberto to shine

Evita, a touring production, reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre (15-18 May). They say the old ones are the best and here we go again with another tour of the famous 1978 Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice collaboration that turned Elaine Paige from virtual unknown to superstar. Call it what you will – musical, pop operetta – […]

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Liza On An E welcomes you to the cabaret

Playing at the Vaudeville Theatre until 18 May. Life is definitely a cabaret at the Vaudeville as Trevor Ashley brings, straight from Down Under, his one-man, or should we say, one-woman show Liza On An E for the first time to the West End (and only for five nights). From the moment the multi-talented Ashley […]

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Kerry Ellis in Concert, sublimely enjoyable

  Kerry Ellis in Concert, reviewed at the London Palladium. It takes a big presence to host a concert at the London Palladium, one of the West End’s larger auditoriums, and make it feel like an intimate cabaret gig. Kerry Ellis uses the combination of a phenomenally powerful voice and self-effacing humility to do just that. […]

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Stuart Matthew Price, a leading man to be

Stuart Matthew Price – The Roles I’ll Never Play. Reviewed at St James Theatre Studio, London. Stuart Matthew Price, who is about to turn 30, made his London stage debut exactly six years ago in the Donmar Warehouse’s UK premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s Parade, where his stand-out tenor rang out over the opening number, ‘The […]

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Under the influence of Alison Jiear

Alison Jiear – Under the Influence. Reviewed at the St James Studio, London. After witnessing this somewhat exemplary vocal performance from Alison Jiear, it is hard to fathom why the actress and singer has only just released her third album. Not in a long time have I heard a voice of such versatility, clarity, tone, […]

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Encores! On Your Toes is one to cherish

Presented by Encores! at New York City Center, (May 8-12). The Encores! Series at New York City Center winds up its 2013 season with an elaborate and often thrilling mounting of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart‘s landmark work from 1936, On Your Toes, with its groundbreaking infusion of ballet, both classic and jazz-inspired, integrated directly […]

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Lee Lessack on route from NY to Paris

Lee Lessack’s From Manhattan to Paris at The Crazy Coqs, London. First of all I must declare an interest – I have been a fan of American cabaret artist Lee Lessack ever since I first saw him at the late lamented Pizza On the Park plenty of years ago and his light baritone still floats […]

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Desperately Seeking the Exit, it’s therapy

Playing at the Leicester Square Studio, London until May 20. In 2007, after much publicity, a new musical opened in the West End called Desperately Seeking Susan, scored with songs from the back catalogue of 1970s New Wave band, Blondie. Based on the movie featuring Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in her first major acting role, […]

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Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde. Picture: Chris Bennion

Jekyll & Hyde departs Broadway

Broadway has scored the second musical casualty of the spring season. The very noisy revival of Jekyll & Hyde at the Marquis Theatre will go silent on May 12. The production had toured extensively before opening on Broadway on April 18 for a limited run originally scheduled to wind up  June 30. The premature departure is hardly […]

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Bare, another stunning Union production

Bare, the Rock Musical, with music by Damon Intrabartolo and lyrics by Jon Hartmere (they also wrote the book), started out as a pop opera. It premiered in Los Angeles in 2000 and a newer version recently finished an Off-Broadway season in February. This is its professional European premiere. The show has similar themes to the […]

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Sunday in the Park With George goes home

Reviewed at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris (April 15-25). The production is being broadcast on European arts TV channel Mezzo on May 5, 24 and 28. Sunday in the Park With George is a rare jewel, a special treat, one of the rare musicals and works of art which can lift you up from the real […]

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Photo by Roy Tan

Merrily We Roll Along has a good thing going

Playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London until July 27. As a performer Maria Friedman has memorably interpreted the work of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim – she even played the lead role of Mary Flynn in the 1992 Leicester Haymarket production of Merrily We Roll Along – but there was no guarantee she would make the same impact in her directorial […]

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Pajama Game bustles with energy

Playing at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester until June 8. For the first of its two summer musicals Chichester Festival Theatre has unearthed another neglected little gem. Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ 1954 musical The Pajama Game is given a rare outing. There was a London production in 1999, this time it is director Richard Eyre’s […]

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Klea Blackhurst is welcome back any time

An Evening With Klea Blackhurst, reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. Nobody ever accused the lady of being soothing or subtle, but you get what it says on the tin with Klea Blackhurst, a disciple of the Ethel Merman school of belters for whom, in a room holding just 66 at a warmly glowing and […]

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Spice Girls musical Viva Not Forever

Producer Judy Craymer has announced that Viva Forever!, the musical inspired by the songs of the Spice Girls, has posted closing notices at the Piccadilly Theatre for June 29, 2013. In a press statement Craymer said “It is with a heavy heart that we’ve had to make this very difficult decision to post closing notices […]

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The Universal Machine is a code hard to break

Playing at the New Diorama Theatre, London until May 11. The life of Alan Turing as explored in The Universal Machine is more full of incident than many other academics’. A philosopher and mathematician who predicted the rise of mechanical ‘thinking machines’, his work at Bletchley Park during the Second World War directly led to […]

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Rooms – A Rock Romance makes emotional impact

Playing at the Finborough Theatre, London until May 18. A boy-meets-girl-with-ambition love story set during the dying days of punk, Rooms – A Rock Romance may be billed as a rock romance but it also has some mighty power ballads at its heart. It’s fun to see Cassidy Janson’s Monica and Alexis Gerred’s Ian rocking […]

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Tony Awards – Matilda vs Kinky Boots

That very smart, little girl from Britain, Matilda the Musical, will be fighting it out with Kinky Boots, that crazy footwear from Britain (but redesigned by Americans), for the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical. The nominations for the Tony Awards – covering Broadway productions over the past 12 months – were announced on April […]

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The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes wins us over

Playing at the Hoxton Hall, London until May 10.   Since first appearing in 1887 we’ve seen a wealth of Sherlock Holmes’,
including a teenage incarnation and two bang up to date 21st century
sleuths. With their boisterous production of Leslie Bricusse’s The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes, Morphic Graffiti give us the music hall version. Bricusse’s musical […]

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Hot Stuff dazzles, sizzles and giggles

Playing at the Curve, Leicester until May 26. There is an insatiable appetite in Leicester for the rock musical Hot Stuff, an audacious, impudent, high-energy re-working of the Faust legend in which Joe Soap abandons his sweetheart, Julie, on the dance floor and sells his soul to Lucy Fur for fame and fortune as a rock singer. […]

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Olivier Awards, a taste of the glamour

Click on any image for a larger version. It was a glamorous night at the Royal Opera House for the 37th Olivier Awards. While all those associated with musical theatre winners Top Hat, Sweeney Todd and Billy Elliot had much to celebrate, plenty of other performers played their part too. Actress Heather Headley may not have […]

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Olivier Awards – winners revealed…

Top Hat, Sweeney Todd and Billy Elliot were the big musical theatre winners in the 37th Olivier Awards (hosted by the Society of London Theatre and sponsored by Mastercard), held at London’s Royal Opera House and compered by Sheridan Smith and Hugh Bonneville. Top Hat, currently running at the Aldwych Theatre, was victorious in three categories – […]

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Matthew James Thomas and cast in the Broadway production of Pippin. Picture: Joan Marcus

Pippin has razzle dazzle to believe in

Opened April 25 at The Music Box Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. ‘Give ’em the old razzle dazzle’, goes the Fred Ebb lyric in the Bob Fosse-created Chicago, the revival of which is currently bumping and grinding its way through its 17th year on Broadway. And that same razzle dazzle dictum is working […]

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Pippin has razzle dazzle to believe in

Opened April 25 at The Music Box Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. ‘Give ’em the old razzle dazzle’, goes the Fred Ebb lyric in the Bob Fosse-created Chicago, the revival of which is currently bumping and grinding its way through its 17th year on Broadway. And that same razzle dazzle dictum is working […]

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Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde. Picture: Chris Bennion

Jekyll & Hyde – prepare for a wall of sound

Opened April 18, at the Marquis Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. Boo! Composer and occasional lyricist Frank Wildhorn, Broadway’s favourite whipping boy, has just landed another musical on Broadway. This one’s a horror story and a revival as well – Jekyll & Hyde – and of course, it has given uppity New York […]

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Jekyll & Hyde – prepare for a wall of sound

Opened April 18, at the Marquis Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. Boo! Composer and occasional lyricist Frank Wildhorn, Broadway’s favourite whipping boy, has just landed another musical on Broadway. This one’s a horror story and a revival as well – Jekyll & Hyde – and of course, it has given uppity New York […]

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Sleeping Arrangements delivers humour and romance in spades

Running at the Landor, London until May 12. It was really only a matter of time before chick-lit, or to perhaps give it its official title of light romantic comedy, began to be considered for adaptation to the stage. Admittedly Helen Fielding’s hugely popular Bridget Jones’ Diary appears to be languishing in development hell at […]

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Geek! A New Musical, predictable but charming

Running at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London until May 18. When a musical’s title fails to deliver once, it can be disappointing. Twice, and it starts to look deliberate. Geek! A New Musical is not really about geeks. And while it’s technically a new musical, it treads such familiar ground that it hardly feels original. […]

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The Three Little Pigs entertain young and old

Reviewed at the Greenwich Theatre, London. Written by the Olivier Award-winning team that bought young audiences Honk! Just So, Mary Poppins, Betty Blue Eyes and Soho Cinders, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s European premiere of the well-known children’s story The Three Little Pigs is a sweet and simple tale, complemented by a sophisticated and appealing score […]

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Liz Robertson Sings Her Favourite Songs

Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. Forty years on from making her showbiz bow as a cabaret dancer at the nearby Savoy Hotel, the ageless Liz Robertson is back in cabaret mode for her one-woman show at The Crazy Coqs, the new go-to Piccadilly nightspot for lovers of the genre which becomes ever more polished […]

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Titanic sails in to Southwark Playhouse

The European premiere of a new chamber version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Titanic will be staged at London’s Southwark Playhouse by the same creative team behind the venue’s productions of Parade, Mack & Mabel and Victor/Victoria. Directed by Thom Southerland and produced by Danielle Tarento, Titanic (music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, book by […]

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American Psycho set to thrill at the Almeida

Almeida Theatre’s artistic director designate Rupert Goold will stage the world premiere of the musical thriller American Psycho, based on the the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, as part of the the north London’s 2013 festival. The co-production with Headlong Theatre (with which Goold has been associated for eight years) has a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa […]

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Motown the Musical proves exhilarating

Opened April 14 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York, for an open-ended run. “You built a legacy of love,” Smokey Robinson tells Berry Gordy, as Motown the Musical, heads toward its big finish. The show recounts the life of Gordy, the celebrated founder and force behind the Motown record company, which broke through seemingly impenetrable […]

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Gary Williams presents a Sinatra Jukebox

Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London. This programme from singer Gary Williams and accompanist Harry the Piano was an unusual evening for The Crazy Coqs. Williams gave us a tribute to Frank Sinatra, but instead of an hour of songs and anecdote, halfway through members of the audience were invited fill in request forms, which […]

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New York Musical Theatre Festival latest

The New York Musical Theatre Festival, affectionately known as NYMF (pronounced ‘nymph’ as in ‘nymph errant’) among New York theatre folks, has announced the 11 invited shows that will stage full productions during its tenth annual festival, running July 8-28. The festival acts as a showcase for emerging creative talents in musical theatre, giving them […]

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New York Musical Theatre Festival latest

The New York Musical Theatre Festival, affectionately known as NYMF (pronounced ‘nymph’ as in ‘nymph errant’) among New York theatre folks, has announced the 11 invited shows that will stage full productions during its tenth annual festival, running July 8-28. The festival acts as a showcase for emerging creative talents in musical theatre, giving them […]

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Carnaby Street the Musical is labour of love

Hackney Empire, London, then touring until June 29. Since the back catalogue of The Beatles is already being hurtled through nightly over at the Savoy Theatre for Let it Be, there are no climactic ‘na-na-nah-nahs’ – indeed the Fab Four hardly get a look in here – in Carnaby Street the Musical, a jukebox musical which […]

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Ghost the Musical begins tour

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, then touring until January 2014. Ghost the Musical is a theatrical masterclass in translating emotion, so be prepared to shed a few tears but still have a few laughs. Set in New York, the musical naturally sticks to the same story as the original film – for which the show’s lyricist/librettist […]

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Sweeney Todd at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Headlining his first season of work as artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse is James Brining’s own production of Stephen Sondheim’s and Hugh Wheeler’s musical Sweeney Todd, presented by WYP and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester for the Quarry stage (26 September–26 October). Brining has challenged himself to revisit his TMA Award-winning production of […]

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