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Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical – St James Studio

Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical was performed at the St James Theatre Studio, London. Initially planned as a one-off performance, this second performance of Ivor Novello and the Great British Musical at the swish, perfect-for-the-occasion studio space at the St James Theatre, was a worthy case of ‘back by popular demand.’ That the show […]

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Blues in the Night – Hackney Empire

Blues in the Night was performed at the Hackney Empire, London. This splendid revue first appeared off-Broadway in 1980 but only for around 50 performances. Two years later it moved to Broadway and ran for less than 70 shows. It fared better in London in 1987 with Maria Friedman, Carol Woods, Debby Bishop and Clarke […]

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Carnival of the Animals – Riverside Studios

Carnival of the Animals was performed at the Riverside Studios, London. Thom Southerland, director of A Carnival of the Animals, told me that this production was still very much a work in progress. He wanted to get it in front of an audience to gauge their reaction and see how to further develop the piece. So […]

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Forever Tango – Walter Kerr Theatre, New York

Forever Tango opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre, New York and continues until 15 September. The steamy index on Broadway these summer nights is being hiked a notch or two by the return of Forever Tango. The show, created and directed by the Argentine-born Luis Bravo, first unleashed all its sensuous contortions on the Great […]

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Barbershopera – The Three Musketeers

Barbershopera! The Three Musketeers was performed at the St James Theatre Studio, London, and tours until 26 October. For those who have never seen a Barbershopera! production before, the name accurately suggests close harmony a cappella singing, within a conventional narrative structure. And while that’s perfectly true, the name doesn’t quite capture the anarchic nature of […]

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Barb Jungr – St James Studio

The Men I Love: The New American Songbook – Barb Jungr at the St James Theatre Studio, London. The second of four Fridays with that real singer’s singer Barb Jungr at the plush St James Studio was always going to be a treat, provided you were prepared to cast aside preconceived ideas about how hugely popular […]

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The Cradle Will Rock – Encores New York

The Cradle Will Rock was presented by Encores! at Off-Center at New York City Centers. The new Encores! Off-Center series at New York City Center has gotten off to a rousing start with its fledgling production, Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 opus The Cradle Will Rock. You might even say, a rabble-rousing start. The piece is unabashed […]

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Tim Flavin – Crazy Coqs

Cravin’ Flavin: Memoirs of a Broadway Gypsy was performed at the Crazy Coqs, London. Broadway’s loss was very much London’s gain with Tim Flavin, a song-and-dance man from Texas whose luck turned big-time when his love life brought him across the pond in the mid-1980s and he enjoyed huge success almost immediately. Flavin took to […]

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Guildford School of Acting – Pippin

Performed at the Ivy Arts Centre, Guildford. Stephen Schwartz and Roger O Hirson’s Pippin is a show in which a band of strolling players re-enact the story of Prince Pippin, the son of King Charlemagne, and his journey in search of life’s meaning – war, religion, regicide, hedonism and rural domesticity are all tried. When […]

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The Matchgirls – Wilton’s Music Hall

The Matchgirls was performed at Wilton’s Music Hall, London. The Red Ladder Theatre Company, in collaboration with Dumbwise, produced a cohesive interpretation of Bill Owen and Tony Russell’s 1966 musical The Matchgirls which fulfilled the aims of both theatre companies in terms of creating socially engaged pieces of work. The production was a community theatre piece […]

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Daryl Sherman – Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Daryl Sherman performed at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London. American jazz singer and pianist Daryl Sherman has been a longtime favourite at New York’s most famous cabaret haunts – the Algonquin, the Waldorf-Astoria, Feinstein’s at the Regency etc – and she has previously been in London at the now-defunct Pizza On the Park. Now, after […]

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Daryl Sherman – Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Daryl Sherman performed at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London. American jazz singer and pianist Daryl Sherman has been a longtime favourite at New York’s most famous cabaret haunts – the Algonquin, the Waldorf-Astoria, Feinstein’s at the Regency etc – and she has previously been in London at the now-defunct Pizza On the Park. Now, after […]

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Guildhall School of Music and Drama – Rags

Performed at the Barbican, London. The end of Fiddler On the Roof sees Tevye, his family and neighbours forced out of their homeland, leaving for new lands and new lives. Rags can be seen as a continuation of their story, albeit with different characters, for it tells of other Jewish displaced immigrants arriving in New York. […]

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Nunsense A-Men! – Landor Theatre

Nunsense A-Men! continues at the Landor Theatre, London until 28 July. Dan Goggin’s original Off-Broadway hit, Nunsense, is possibly the only musical ever to have started life as a series of comedy greeting cards. After it grew from a cabaret night into a full-blooded musical, the long-running Off-Broadway show spawned several sequels, before the original […]

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Bullets and Daffodils – Tristan Bates Theatre

Bullets and Daffodils continues at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London until July 6. The poetry of Wilfred Owen, born as it was from anger at the cruelty of war, is full of powerful imagery and intense emotion. Sadly, neither are on display in Dean Johnson’s tribute to Owen, Bullets and Daffodils. Rather than treating Owen as an onstage […]

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Guildford School of Acting – Footloose

Performed at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. Set in the quiet town of ‘Bomont’ in Bible-belt America, Footloose the musical was a very ambitious choice of show for a cast of third-year drama school students. However, the musical theatre graduates of the Guildford School of Acting pulled it off with all the style and professionalism […]

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Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano – Crazy Coqs

Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack – Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano at the Crazy Coqs, London. It was most inconsiderate of Andy Murray to drag out his quarter-final until 7.20pm on Wednesday as nobody was going to leave their sofa or Wimbledon seat until the final point had been won, and that was surely […]

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This is My Family – Crucible Studio Sheffield

This is My Family continues at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield until 20 July. This is a homely show, which I guess is appropriate. The music, by Tim Firth, who also wrote the script and lyrics, is gentle and slightly old-fashioned. Some songs are moving, nearly memorable, and all are touchingly delivered. As local entertainment, it […]

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An Evening With John Bucchino – St James

An Evening With John Bucchino and Friends was performed at the St James Studio, London. Award-winning American composer and lyricist John Bucchino is not as well-known here as some songwriters who have journeyed across the pond, but his work is well worth listening out for. Although he has written for Broadway and film, and his […]

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The Supreme Fabulettes – Viva La Drag

Leicester Square Theatre, London. London and in fact most of the UK has had a long love affair with the drag queen. From the remotest of working-men’s clubs to the streets and bars of Soho; from the boy actors of Shakespeare’s Globe to Lily Savage’s Blankety Blank, the drag queen is unquestionably a part of […]

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Gregg Edelman – Crazy Coqs

Gregg Edelman’s Broadway State of Mind at the Crazy Coqs, London. After one big Broadway star in Patti LuPone last week, now London embraces another in Gregg Edelman, four-time Tony Award nominee – “or, as my brother puts it, four-time Tony Award loser!” and star of 15 Broadway shows, starting with Evita in 1979 right […]

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Will Young and Cabaret on tour

Singer/songwriter Will Young will reprise his role as the Emcee in Rufus Norris’ acclaimed production of Cabaret. Following a successful West End run, the UK tour of the musical will open at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre on 28th August.  Ever since winning the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2002, Young has been one of the UK’s […]

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Drury Lane

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London. Booking until 31st May, 2014. On many different levels much is expected of Sam Mendes’ production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. On one level, Roald Dahl’s story of the mysterious confectioner and his quest for a successor is a much loved piece of British culture, not […]

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West End Heroes – Dominion Theatre

Performed at the Dominion Theatre, London. An idea two years in the making, West End Heroes combined a variety of West End performers with singers and musicians from the Armed Forces for a unique evening in aid of the charity Help for Heroes, hosted by Brian Conley. The military services contain a number of regular musical troupes. […]

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Seth Rudetsky – Deconstructing Broadway

Performed at the Leicester Square Theatre, London. “I am obsessed with the small moments,” Seth Rudetsky admits during his one-man show Deconstructing Broadway. And how: his show is all about the small moments in various Broadway and other musical theatre shows. The moments that turn a great performance into one that is, as Rudetsky puts it, “Ah-MAH-zing”– or turn […]

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Sondheim Society – Rachael Louise Miller

The Stephen Sondheim Society presents… Rachael Louise Miller, Leicester Square Theatre, London. It’s very hard not to warm to Rachael Louise Miller, the actress/singer who launched the Sondheim Society series of early-evening cabaret in the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge to rapturous applause and an almost-full house. She’s tiny, very pretty, has a typical Lancashire lass […]

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A Little Night Music – Yvonne Arnaud

Performed at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. For a single night the one and only Desiree Armfeldt graced the stage of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre by courtesy of musical director Alex Parker, a man with a passion for staging concerts and musicals with large orchestras at the core of the entertainment. He is also able to conjure […]

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My Fair Lady – Kilworth House Theatre

Playing at the Kilworth House Theatre, near Lutterworth, Leicestershire until 14th July. Mitch Sebastian’s memorable staging of My Fair Lady is as well-chiselled as the astutely and beautifully designed environment of the Kilworth House Theatre in which the musical is performed, from the fine vocals of the cast to Cornelius Clarke’s black-smeared dustman, Alfred Doolittle, an old hack out of Ealing […]

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Payback the Musical – Riverside Studios

Playing at the Riverside Studios, London until June 30. Mining the world of daytime television for musical theatre material by necessity invites comparison with Jerry Springer: The Opera, but where Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee used the form to examine morality and religion, in Payback the Musical Paul Rayfield is content to stick with the heightened […]

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Patti LuPone – Leicester Square Theatre

Playing at the Leicester Square Theatre, London until 23rd June. It’s not often we get a real live Broadway musical theatre legend in the West End and fans, among them Adele, were out in force for Patti LuPone’s opening night at the Leicester Square Theatre. A belter in the Ethel Merman tradition and an actress […]

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Arts Ed – The 25th Annual Spelling Bee

Performed at the Arts Educational School, London. One of the pleasures to be had from supporting drama student productions is the opportunity to see musicals that one only knows from recordings, but have rarely been performed in this country. They also offer the chance to see revivals of old favourites or to catch up on […]

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Mission Drift – The National Theatre Shed

Playing at The NT Shed, London until 28th June. Mission Drift exploded into the UK in 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it blew critics and audiences away. So convincing was its force that those who hadn’t seen it – including me – fell upon the news of a London transfer like ready-made disciples. […]

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Amanda McBroom at Crazy Coqs

Amanda McBroom at the Crazy Coqs, London. Everyone has different tastes, of course, but for any cabaret lover there can surely be no better way of spending 80 minutes than in the company of the distinguished, delightful and truly brilliant Californian singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom, a lady best known as the writer of the title song of Bette […]

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Barbra Streisand – O2 Arena

Barbra Streisand performed at the O2 on June 1 and 3. Something of a miracle happened when Barbra Streisand succeeded in turning the cold and unwelcoming atmosphere of the O2 into an intimate family reunion. Where else but at this venue are you denied to move to better empty seats at intermission since you paid […]

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We Will Rock You Arena Tour

No fewer than 25 Queen melodies energise We Will Rock You, Ben Elton, Roger Taylor and Brian May’s 2002 hit show, a version of which is touring Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Eastern Europe, and, more recently, Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena. Elton’s idea is terrific, but as contorted as it is ingenious. As a vehicle for the sizzling […]

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The West End Men in Concert

Playing at the Vaudeville Theatre until June 22. The West End is awash with fantastic tunes – from current musicals to the classics of previous years – but a show in which the music is the star also needs to offer something a little special. Although, at first, none of The West End Men in […]

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Billy the Musical – Union Theatre

Playing at the Union Theatre, London until 29th June. Originally staged in the West End back in 1974, Billy the Musical (adapted from Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s play Billy Liar by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais), with a score from John Barry and Don Black, has at its heart a hardly average musical hero. Billy […]

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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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