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Monday, 3 March 2014

Spamalot, Drunk and Lauren Samuels

I've recently been lucky to see some very brilliant shows and good performances, I've decided to write up about these and who you should check out.

Cast of Spamalot.
Spamalot is one of the most fun musicals around based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the humour of Python is timeless, and no matter how many times I've seen the show (think its 9 times from its run at the Palace Theatre to the tours) I always find it hilarious. The show feautures many of the classic Python sequences including The Knights Who Say Nii and The Black Knight. The music from the show created by Python's Eric Idle and John Du Prez feautures the well known song 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' and such songs as 'Find Your Grail', 'You Won't Succeed In Showbiz' and 'The Diva's Lament'. The cast I most recently (a couple of the cast have now left the show) saw featured Joe Pasquale as King Arthur, Carley Stenson as The Lady Of The Lake, Michael Burgen as Patsy, James Bisp as Galahad, Rob Delaney as Sir Robin, Matthew Russell-Jones as Prince Herbert, Steffan Harri as Lancelot, Robin Armstrong as Bedevere, and the ensemble featuring  Hannah Malekzad, Anouska Eaton, Chris Jenkins and Graham Newell. I certainly can't single one out for praise as they all deserve it, a fine company performing a hilarious show. I truly believe if you went to see Spamalot and you didn't leave with a smile on your face then your pulse will need checking.
Publicity shot of Joe Pasquale and Carley Stenson.
Spamalot plays at the Playhouse Theatre in London, for more information visit - http://www.spamalotwestend.co.uk/

Drunk.
Another show where I can't single out a single member of the company involved is Drunk by Drew McOnie and his company. I never thought I'd be keen an a show that's dance based but I truly loved it, having seen the show twice during its short run at Curve and once at the Bridewell Theatre in London. The show is a cocktail of numbers based on drinks and follows the story of Ice who sits waiting for her date in a bar, the date doesn't show up and this leads her to tell the tale of previous partners and also all the characters she meets within the bar. The choreography comes from the young and upcoming Drew McOnie, who recently did superb work on Curve's Chicago, I think he'll go on to be the UK's best choreographer, the work here is again outstanding. The dance is set to Grant Olding's music, a score which features some great tunes, 'Scotch and Rum' (which made me and my girlfriend Megan cry on our visit to the show in London, sung and danced beautifully), 'Fruit Punch' , 'Absinthe' and 'Pimms' standing out for me. The cast are all superb too, faultless dancing and singing. Gemma Sutton, who will go on to lead big big shows is, plays Ice. Anabel Kutay is Absinthe, Simon Hardwick as Cider, Katy Lowenhoff as Champagne, Ashley Andrews as Scotch, Fela Lufadeju as Rum, Lucinda Lawrence as Vodka and Daniel Collins as Martini. They're all fantastic. I highly recommend that you catch the future work of Drew, and if you missed out on Drunk then you missed a brilliant piece of theatre.

Lauren Samuels.
Lauren Samuels is a young performer who I've always had an interest in, from seeing her in her professional stage debut in Peter Pan at Curve in 2009 to seeing her most recently at her homecoming concert in Bedworth Civic Hall.
Peter Pan at Curve. Photo by Keith Pattison.
She's a lady with a superb voice but also a wonderful actress. I loved her performance as Scaramouche in We Will Rock You, having enjoyed seeing her in London's Dominion Theatre and at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena as part of the WWRY world tour. I must praise her performance of 'Someone You'd Be Proud Of' which she recorded for The In-between musical concept album, it's truly a stunning vocal showing from Lauren, please do download it now from iTunes or Amazon. As previously mentioned I recently attended her homecoming concert at Bedworth Civic Hall, she sung a great set of songs alongside her friends, Noel Sullivan and Victoria-Hamilton Barritt. Next stop for Lauren is Water Babies again at Curve here in Leicester, I got to attend the launch for the show and I can assure you that it's going to be an incredible show and Lauren again will be superb. See below for a video of her and Louise Dearman singing 'Waiting For You' from the show. Lauren will be one of the leading light in theatre in years to come.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Stagey auction

In May I am doing another charity run, and again I am running for Curve, my local theatre. I know it's hard to just ask people to give their money for a theatre that isn't their local or one they may not even be aware of, so I've decided to put on an auction with all the proceeds from the auction going to the Curve. Visit my Justgiving if you'd like donate directly - http://www.justgiving.com/BupaCurve

To do this I need people's help, if anyone can donate anything that I can auction off to help me raise extra funds then please get in touch. I will myself donate some of my own collection and will try to collect other items too.

If anyone can get involved and help me out please contact me via:

E-Mail: leicester-mark@hotmail.co.uk
Twitter: @leicestermark or @stageyauction
Facebook (click)

I'm aiming to auction all the things off towards the end of April/start of May, and I'll list all the items on here when I've got them.

Items:
  • 'Alfie' album, signed by Alfie Boe. 
  • 'It's The Beginning: The Songs Of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds' CD, signed by Charles Miller, Kevin Hammonds and some of the performers on the CD, including Jodie Jacobs and Brenda Edwards.
  • 'More With Every Line: The Music Of Tim Prottey-Jones' CD, signed by Tim Prottey-Jones, Stuart Matthew Price and more. 
  • 'What About Us' by the Saturdays single CD, signed by all 5 members of the band.
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Book by Gregory Maguire.
  • Paddy McGuiness 2008 Tour Poster, signed by Paddy McGuiness.
  • Rocky Horror Show Poster - Leeds 2007 (unsigned).
  • John Nettles Picture, signed by John Nettles.
  • 'Rhod Gilbert and the award winning mince pie' DVD cover signed by Rhod Gilbert. (NO DVD INCLUDED).
  • Oliver! programme, (Birmingham Hippodrome 2012) signed by Samantha Barks.
  • Hairspray London programme, signed by Ben James-Ellis.
  • Legally Blonde London programme, signed by Sheridan Smith, Susan McFadden and Amy Lennox.
  • Les Miserables London programme, signed by Hadley Fraser.
  • Rock Of Ages London programme, signed by Shayne Ward, Oliver Tompsett, Natalie Andreou and Nathan Amzi.
  • Two Kerry Ellis pictures and a 'Wicked In Rock' CD, all signed by Kerry Ellis.  
  • Aladdin Jacket.
  • Hot Stuff leaflet signed by Ceri Dupree
  • Postcard signed by Camilla Dallerup. 
  • Postcard signed by Faye Tozer
  • Signed Sophie Raworth (BBC Newsreader) photo.
  • Signed Gavin Esler (BBC Newsreader) photo.
  • Postcard signed by the female cast members of Merrily We Roll Along.
  • Postcard signed by the female cast members of Singin' In The Rain.
  • Signed Claire Balding Photo.
  • Signed Vanessa Feltz photo.
  • Signed Ken Bruce Photo.
  • Signed Paul O'Grady Photo.
  • Signed Duncan Preston Photo.
  • Signed Chesney Hawkes Photo.
  • Postcard signed by the 2013 cast of Yes Prime Minister.
  • Signed Cheryl Baker photo.

Cheers

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Curve 5th Birthday Gala

On Sunday 12th January 2014 Leicester's Curve theatre concluded their celebration of the theatre's 5th birthday with a gala which featured performances from shows that have been performed at Curve and that will be performed here in the future. It was a fantastic celebration of the Curve and no one can doubt the quality of performers we've been lucky to have in Leicester over the 5 years at Curve, and previous to that at the Haymarket.


The show opened with a stunning performance of 'Broadway Baby' from Follies by Verity Rushworth, who is currently starring as Velma Kelly in Chicago at the theatre. Paul Kerryson, Curve's artistic director then came on and gave a welcome speech and introduced the fantastic Curve Young Company who performed two song from their successful run of Sweeney Todd. 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd' which featured Jak Skelly as Sweeney. The CYC all sounded perfect, I'm greatly disappointed that I didn't attend the show while the run was on but in future I will certainly be attending the CYC productions. Their second performance from Sweeney Todd was 'Nothing's Going To Harm You', which featured Tim Wilson as Toby and Mary-Jean Caldwell as Mrs Lovett. Both Tim and Mary-Jean clearly have bright futures in the theatre world, especially Mary-Jean whom I thought was really outstanding.

Jak Skelly (Sweeney) and Mary-Jean Caldwell (Mrs Lovett) in Sweeney Todd. Photo: Pamela Raith

There was next a performance of 'Getting To Know You' from The King and I, a production that begun at Curve and then went on a successful UK tour, sadly a production I never saw, but Janie Dee and the set of local kids were great. 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' from The Sound Of Music followed sung here by Lucy Schaufer, The Sound Of Music which recently was announced as the Christmas production for 2014 (find out more here). We then had a performance from another forthcoming production, Hairspray which plays at Curve from February 28th. The performance was Motormouth Maybell's song 'I Know Where I've Been' by Sandra Marvin who has previously appeared in the show in the west and on the UK tour. Sandra's vocals are truly amazing, she brought the house down as she did in Chicago as Mama Morton, a truly outstanding vocal performer.
Sandra Marvin and Verity Rushworth in Chicago. Photo: Pamela Raith

We were then treated to another performance from the Curve Young Company, 'The Rising Of The Sun' from their production of The Dreaming which features music by Howard Goodall, who visited the Curve to see the CYC in action. Next followed a performance another forthcoming show, Drunk, which plays in Curve's studio on Tuesday 28th January and Saturday 1st February before running at the Bridewell Theatre in London is the work of Chicago choreographer Drew McOnie. The show will feature some of the performers from Chicago, and the performance on the night featured vocal's from Gemma Sutton and a dance number from 3 of the male ensemble of Chicago. It's look to be a very intriguing show, one I look forward to seeing. For more information on Drunk, click here.

The company of Drunk. Photo: Sean Haliday.
We next revisited two fantastic production that I'd really enjoyed. Piaf and Hello, Dolly!. Frances Ruffelle who gave an outstanding performance as Edith Piaf in the production returned to sing 'Padam', and Janie Dee returned as Dolly Levi to perform with the Chicago cast and a local brass band 'Before The Parade Passes By', a fantastic ensemble number which closes the first act of the show.

Frances Ruffelle as Edith Piaf in Piaf. Photo: Pamela Raith
'Waiting For You' from the forthcoming world premiere production of Water Babies followed, a duet which featured the shows two leading ladies, Lauren Samuels and Louise Dearman (see video below for the video release of this song). A really exciting production for the Curve to be staging, and having also attend the launch night for the show I can say this is a show to really get a ticket for and could be destined for big things. Click here for more information and to book for Water Babies.


A fantastic solo performance from Matthew Barrow of 'Being Alive' from Company followed, Matthew who was a magnificent Amos in Chicago once again showing his vocal talents here. Paul Kerryson then performed a frankly superb Fagin singing 'You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two' from Oliver! with some of the local kids who'd starred in the original production at Curve. Act one of the gala concert was finished with a performance of 'The Lullaby Of Broadway' from 42nd Street, a show which until Chicago opened had held the box office record at Curve. David Leonard performed as Julian Marsh and Lucinda Lawrence as Peggy Sawyer, Lucinda was understudy for the role during its run and had to go on for the press night. So far as superb night of performances and this was only the first half.
Original Company of 42nd Street. Photo: Pamela Raith.
The second half of the show began with Ngo Ngofa reprising her performance in Hot Stuff, a cult musical here in Leicester which features songs from the 70s and 80s. Ngo performed Tina Turner's 'Simply The Best'. We were then treated to a performance of 'Seasons Of Love' from Rent, the show that alongside Annie that CYC will perform at Curve in the summer. Followed by an outstanding vocal performance from Gemma Sutton who sung 'There Won't Be Trumpets' from Anyone Can Whistle. I highly rate Gemma from her superb performance as Roxie Hart in Chicago and whom will be part of the company of Drunk, I hope she goes on to big things in the future.

Gemma Sutton as Roxie Hart in Chicago. Photo: Pamela Raith
We then we're treated to two songs from possibly my favourite show to have played at Curve, Gypsy. We had 'You've Gotta Get A Gimmick' sung by Katy Hards, Anabel Kutay and Lucinda Lawrence, followed by 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' sung by Madalena Alberto. The Chicago company then joined with the CYC to perform 'Quitette' from West Side Story which was another of the previous productions done by the CYC. Lucy Schaufer reprised her performance from the European premiere of the musical The Light In The Piazza with a performance of 'Dividing Day'. We then switched back to West Side Story for a performance of 'A Boy Like That' by Sandra Marvin and Zizi Strallen. Zizi's voice in particular soared in this duet.

Caroline O'Connor in Gypsy at Curve. Photo: Catherine Ashmore and Pamela Raith
David Witts, who has recently been playing Joey Branning in BBC soap EastEnders, performed the title song from Sunset Boulevard. David will star as Link Larkin in Curve's production of Hairspray. Frances Ruffelle then performed the Don Black song 'To Sir With Love'. Lucy Schaufer then performed 'Everybody Loves Sondheim' and song discussing as you'd expect the reason's why Sondheim is so popular. Janie Dee then performed two Kander and Ebb songs 'There Goes The Ballgame' and 'Say Yes'. She also went in to the audience and offered a bottle of wine to a lady, having seen her perform in Hello, Dolly! she seems to have great ability to mix with the audience.

Janie Dee in Hello, Dolly! Photo: Catherine Ashmore.
Another vocal powerhouse of a performance by Sandra Marvin followed with the number 'I Am Changing' from Dreamgirls. 'Beautiful Girls' from Follies led by Callum Train was the finale to the evening which led to the company bows and another short speech from Paul Kerryson. After the speech the cast of Chicago performed a dance number before the superb orchestra under the musical direction of Ben Atkinson played the playout from Chicago.

 
Chicago. Photo: Pamela Raith
A truly fantastic night revisiting some of the superb productions that have played and the chance to hear some of the songs from forthcoming productions at the Curve. There can be no doubt of the amount of talent that performed on the night from the Curve Young Company to more seasoned performers, all of them performed outstandingly. One of the best night's I've had at the theatre. Thank you all involved. Here's to the next 5 years of the Curve and theatre in Leicester...

Water Babies Launch.

On Monday 14th January 2014 I had the joy of attending the launch for the new musical adaptation of 'The Water Babies' which will premiere at Leicester's Curve Theatre on April 24th 2014. We were treated to a talk from the creative team, 4 songs from the production and the chance for a question and answer session with all involved. The event was followed by a reception in bar afterwards which gave everyone a more intimate chance to talk to all the people involved with the show.
Lauren Samuels, Tom Milner and Louise Dearman who will star in the show. Photo by Pamela Raith.

The launch was begun by a performance by Tom Milner who will play Tom in the show, the song  'In Too Deep' was a fantastic solo number which Tom sung fantastically. We then had a talk with Peter Shaw, who was the producer on the 1978 film. He discussed how its been a long time idea of turning the story into a musical but with the technology now in theatre's it's finally achievable. Peter also explained how he was delighted to be working with a young British team on the show.

We were next introduced to Lauren Samuels who will play Ellie in the show. Lauren who made her professional debut at the Curve when she starred as Wendy in a musical adaptation of Peter Pan. She performed a duet called 'Last Page' with Tom. One comment from an audience member credited the fact that the already looked to have chemistry when performing this song.

Tom Milner and Lauren Samuels perfoming 'Last Page'. Photo by Pamela Raith.

After this performance we were introduced to Ed Curtis and Guy Jones, Ed who will be directing the production and Guy who has written the lyrics, both together penned the book for the production (both have previously worked together on the Take That musical 'Never Forget', a show which I really enjoyed). They talked on some of the technical aspects of the production, with half the action taking place underwater they said they'd got a few tricks up their sleeves with how to put these scenes, which are animated in the movie, on the stage. They also mentioned there would be water used for the show.

We were next introduced to Louise Dearman who will be playing Mrs D in the show. Louise sung a solo song 'Open Your Eyes' before joining everyone on the stage as all three of the actors involved in the show discussed how excited they were to get the opportunity to be creating a role in a new show.
Louise Dearman who will play Mrs D in the show. Photo by Pamela Raith

To end the launch there was the chance for the audience members to ask questions to the creative team and the actors involved which was followed by a performance of the duet 'Waiting For You' which has been released with a video (see below) and was also performed at the Curve's 5th Birthday Gala. The duet features Lauren's Ellie and Louise's Mrs D and is a beautiful song.


I can say from hearing the 4 songs on the night from the show, and all the talk by the creative team and a first look at costume designs that the show seems genuinely exciting and one that will be a big success in its run at Curve, and wherever it will go after it, especially with such an incredibly talented cast. I highly recommend that you all book your tickets now for the run at Curve, which begins April 24th and plays until May 17th. To book and for more information on the production visit - Water Babies, Curve Theatre, click here.

Water Babies Launch. Photo by Pamela Raith

Friday, 6 December 2013

My Theatre Awards 2013

Following up from my own personal awards for the shows I saw in 2011 and 2012, I am continuing by doing it again for 2013. It's all just a bit of fun and my own personal opinion.

The winners are in bold.

Best Leading Actress In A Play: (2012 winner - Pippa Nixon)
Tara Fitzgerald - Hermione (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Michele Dotrice - Mrs Wilberforce (The Ladykillers: UK Tour)
Frances Ruffelle - Edith Gassion (Piaf: Curve Theatre)
Pippa Nixon - Rosalind (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Beatie Edney - Queen Victoria (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Anneika Rose - Rani Das (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Michelle Terry - Titania/Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's Globe)
Katy Stephens - Tamora (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Joanna Horton - Helena (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)

Pippa Nixon as Rosalind in As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Keith Pattison

Best Leading Actor In A Play: (2012 winner - Michael Hodgson)
Jo Stone-Fewings -  Leontes (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Ian McDiarmid - Galileo Galilei (A Life Of Galileo: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Paul Brown - Professor Marcus (The Ladykillers: UK Tour)
Jonathan Slinger - Hamlet (Hamlet: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Alex Waldmann - Orlando (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Roger Allam - Prospero (The Tempest: Shakespeare's Globe)
Tony Jayawardena - Abdul Karim (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Ben Allen - Olivia (Twelfth Night: Propeller, International Tour)
John Light - Oberon/Theseus (A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's Globe)
Stephen Boxer - Titus (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Alex Waldmann - Bertram (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Richard Goulding - Dick Follywit  (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Matthew Needham - Candide (Candide: Royal Shakespeare Company)
David Tennant - King Richard II (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Nigel Lindsay - Bolingbroke (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jonathan Slinger as Hamlet in Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Alastair Muir
To see a clip of Jonathan Slinger as Hamlet -  click here.

Best Supporting Actress In A Play: (2012 winner - Susie Trayling)
Emma Noakes - Perdita (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jodie McNee -Virginia (A Life Of Galileo: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Laura Pitt-Pulford/Julia Hills - Toine (Piaf: Curve Theatre)
Pippa Nixon - Ophelia (Hamlet: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Joanna Horton - Celia (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jessie Buckley - Miranda (The Tempest: Shakespeare's Globe)
Rose Reynolds - Livinia (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Charlotte Cornwell - Countess Of Rossillion (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Sarah Ridgeway - Truly Kidman (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Lizzy Watts - Olivia (Twelfth Night: Filter Theatre)
Emma Hamilton - The Queen (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Sarah Ridgeway  - Bulgarian Soldier/Sophie/Tucamon (Candide: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Rose Reynolds as Lavinia in Titus Andronicus (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Simon Annand

Best Supporting Actor In A Play: (2012 winner - Ray Fearson)
Pearce Quigley - Autolycus (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Matthew Aubrey - Andrea (A Life Of Galileo: Royal Shakespeare Company)
William Troughton - Harry Robinson (The Ladykillers: UK Tour)
Alex Waldmann - Horatio (Hamlet: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Nicolas Tennant - Touchstone (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
James Garnon - Caliban (The Tempest: Shakespeare's Globe)
Colin Morgan - Ariel (The Tempest: Shakespeare's Globe)
Ray Panthaki - Hari (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Gary Shelford - Maria (Twelfth Night: Propeller International Tour)
Pearce Quigley - Bottom (A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's Globe)
Kevin Harvey - Aaron (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Greg Hicks - King of France (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jonathan Slinger - Parolles (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Ian Redford - Sir Bounteous Peersucker  (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Richard Durden - Spunky (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Oliver Ford Davies - Duke Of York (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company) 
Michelle Terry (Titania/Hippolyta) and Pearce Quigley (Bottom) in Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare's Globe). Photo: John Haynes.

Best Set Design: (2012 winner - Max Jones)
William Dudley (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Michael Taylor (The Ladykillers: UK Tour)
Hugh Durrant (The Rocky Horror Show: 40th Anniversary UK Tour)
Jon Bausor (Hamlet: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Naomi Watson (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Lez Brotherston (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Michael Pavelka (Twelfth Night: Propeller International Tour)
Libby Watson (My Fair Lady: Kilworth House Theatre)
Mark Thompson (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Colin Richmond (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Katrina Lindsay (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Alice Power (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Libby Watson (Anything Goes: Kilworth House Theatre)
Soutra Gilmour  (Candide: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Stephen Brimson Lewis (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Al Parkinson (Chicago: Curve Theatre)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Set. Photo: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg
Best Lighting Design:
James Farncombe (The Ladykillers: UK Tour)
Ben M Rogers (Chess: Union Theatre)
Nick Richings (The Rocky Horror Show: 40th Anniversary UK Tour)
Arnim Friess (Piaf: Curve Theatre)
James Farncombe (As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Malcolm Rippeth (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Chris Ellis (Hot Stuff: Curve Theatre)
Ben Omerod (Twelfth Night - Propeller International Tour)
Paul Pyant (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Donald Holder (The Lion King)
Chris Davey (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Lutkin (All's Well That Ends Well: Royal Shakespeare Company)
James Farncombe (A Mad World My Masters: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Mitchell (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Philip Gladwell (Chicago: Curve Theatre)
The Rocky Horror Show 40th Anniversary Production.
Best Costume Design: (2012 winner - Eloise Kazan)
William Dudley (The Winter's Tale: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Sue Blane (The Rocky Horror Show: UK Tour)
Juliet Shillingford (The Hired Man)
Max Jones (The Tempest: Shakespeare's Globe)
Lez Brotherston (The Empress: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Ceri Dupree (Hot Stuff: Curve)
Jonathan Fensom (A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's Globe)
Libby Watson (My Fair Lady: Kilworth House Theatre)
Mark Thompson (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) 
Colin Richmond (Titus Andronicus: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Stephen Brimson Lewis (Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Takis (Chicago: Curve Theatre)
Katy Stephens as Tamora in Titus Andronicus (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Simon Annand
Best Choreographry: (2012 winner  - Andrew Wright)
Nathan M Wright (The Rocky Horror Show)
Ankur Bahl (The Empress)
David Needham (Hot Stuff)
Mitch Sebastian (My Fair Lady)
Peter Darling (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Mitch Sebastian (Anything Goes)
Drew McOnie (Chicago)
Chicago at Curve. Photo: Pamela Raith

Best Solo/Concert Performance: (2012 winner - Little Women)
The Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert (Palace Theatre)
Alfie Boe (UK Tour)
Michael Ball: Both Sides Now (UK Tour)
Rent: 20th Anniversary Concert (UK Tour)



Best Ensemble Performance:
The Winters Tale (RSC)
Chess (Union Theatre)
As You Like It (RSC)
The Hired Man (Mercury Theatre/Curve Theatre)
Rent: 20th Anniversary Concert (UK Tour)
All's Well That Ends Well (RSC)
A Mad World My Masters (RSC)
Anything Goes (Kilworth House Theatre)
The Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour)
Candide (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Richard II (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Chicago (Curve Theatre)
As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Keith Pattison

Best Supporting Actress In A Musical: (2012 winner - Victoria-Hamilton Barritt)
Natasha J.Barnes - Svetlana (Chess)
Abigal Jaye - Magenta (The Rocky Horror Show)
Ceris Hine - Columbia (The Rocky Horror Show)
Jill Cardo - May (The Hired Man)
Nikki Davis-Jones - Maureen (Rent)
Jemma Alexander - Joanne (Rent)
Yildiz Hussein - Miss Hot Stuff (Hot Stuff)
Tia Noakes - Veruca Salt (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Lorna Want - Hope Harcourt (Anything Goes)
Jayde Westerby - Magenta (The Rocky Horror Show)
Sandra Marvin - Mama Morton (Chicago)
Natasha J Barnes in rehersals for Chess. Photo: mugphotography

Best Supporting Actor In A Musical: (2012 winner - Oliver Boot)
Kristian Lavercombe - Riff Raff (The Rocky Horror Show)
Mark Stobbart - Issac (The Hired Man)
Ian Stroughair - Angel (Rent)
Stephen Webb - The Boss (Hot Stuff)
Cornelius Clarke - Alfred P. Doolittle (My Fair Lady)
Hugh Osborne - Colonel Pickering (My Fair Lady)
Nigel Planer - Grandpa Joe (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Daniel Fletcher - Dennis (Rock Of Ages)
Nic Greenshields - Moonface Martin (Anything Goes)
Matthew Barrow - Amos Hart (Chicago)
Matthew Barrow as Amos Hart in Chicago. Photo: Pamela Raith.

Best Leading Actress In A Musical: (2012 winner - Sophia Kiely)
Sarah Galbraith - Florance Vassy (Chess)
Roxanne Pallett - Janet (The Rocky Horror Show)
Lauren Samuels - Scarmouche (We Will Rock You)
Julie Atherton - Emily (The Hired Man)
Kerry Ellis - Mimi (Rent)
Helena Blackman - Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady)
Lara Denning - Miss Honey (Matilda)
Kara Lane - Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes)
Dani Harmer - Janet (The Rocky Horror Show)
Gemma Sutton - Roxie Hart (Chicago)
Verity Rushworth - Velma Kelly (Chicago)
Gemma Sutton as Roxie Hart in Chicago. Photo: Pamela Raith.

Best Leading Actor In A Musical: (2012 winner - Bertie Carvel)
Nadim Naaman - Anatoly (Chess)
Tim Oxbrow - Frederick Trumper (Chess)
Oliver Thornton - Frank (The Rocky Horror Show)
Ben Forster - Brad (The Rocky Horror Show)
MiG Ayesa - Galileo (We Will Rock You)
David Hunter - John (The Hired Man)
Rory Taylor - Roger (Rent)
Ceri Dupree - Lucy Fur (Hot Stuff)
Mark Inscoe - Professor Higgins (My Fair Lady)
Jack Costello - Charlie Bucket (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Douglas Hodge - Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Jon Lee - Frankie Valli (Jersey Boys)
Ross Hunter - Drew (Rock Of Ages)
Jonathan Andrew Hume - Simba (The Lion King)
Matthew Goodgame - Billy Crocker (Anything Goes)
David Leonard - Billy Flynn (Chicago)
Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Best Understudy Performance: (2012 winner - Ankur Bahl)
Kara Lane - Nancy (Oliver!)
Oliver Ryan - Hamlet (Hamlet)
Kiza Deen - Ophelia (Hamlet)
Chris Gardner - Bob Gaudio (Jersey Boys)
Ben Deery - Saturninus (Titus Andronicus)
Lara Denning - Miss Honey (Matilda)
Charles Bruton - Miss Trunchball (Matilda)
Christos Dante - Brad (The Rocky Horror Show)
Kara Lane as Nancy.

Best Royal Shakespeare Company Production: (2012 winner - King John)
The Winter's Tale
A Life Of Galileo
Hamlet
As You Like It
The Empress
Titus Andronicus
All's Well That Ends Well
A Mad World My Masters
Candide
Richard II
As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company). Photo: Keith Pattison

Best Play (not RSC): (2012 Winner - Twelfth Night (Globe)
The Ladykillers (UK Tour)
Piaf (Curve)
The Tempest (Shakespeare's Globe)
Twelfth Night (Propeller Theatre Company)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare's Globe)
Twelfth Night (Filter Theatre Company)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare's Globe). Photo: John Haynes

Best Long Running Musical:
The Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour)
We Will Rock You (Arena Tour)
Jersey Boys (Prince Edward Theatre)
Rock Of Ages (Garrick Theatre)
The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre)
Matilda (Cambridge Theatre)
The Rocky Horror Show 40th Anniversary Production.

Best New* Musical: (2012 winner - Matilda)
Chess (Union Theatre)
The Hired Man (Curve/Mercury Theatre)
Hot Stuff (Curve)
My Fair Lady (Kilworth House Theatre)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
Anything Goes (Kilworth House Theatre)
Chicago (Curve Theatre)
Chicago (Curve). Photo: Pamela Raith

*first time I'd seen this production hence why I class it as new.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Curve Theatre 5th Birthday.

The Curve Theatre here in Leicester is now 5 years old, and what a brilliant 5 years it's been, I'm sure for the people behind the Curve it's been a roller-coaster at times but as an audience member I must say I have and do love the Curve, it's easily my favourite theatre. I am so proud that the Curve is my local, and the quality of productions that it constantly produces.

Photo of Curve at night.

From my first visit to the Curve back in 2008 to see the first show staged "Simply Cinderella" I have visited on numerous occasions, seeing a diverse range of productions including the Curve's own produced shows "Peter Pan", "42nd Street", "Gypsy", "Hello, Dolly!", "Piaf" and the current production of "Chicago", to "Finding Neverland" under Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and touring productions such as "The Ladykillers" "One Man, Two Guvnors" and "The Rocky Horror Show".

Production Photo from Gypsy (2012). Photography by Catherine Ashmore and Pamela Raith
The work the Curve do in the local community is superb, with such projects as Curve Cares (which is the Christmas Campaign for 2013), The Curve Young Company, workshops and community shows ("Oliver!" in 2012). You can check out more of the work by visiting their website (click here).

Production Photo from the current production of Chicago. Photography by Pamela Raith.
I've had the pleasure of taking part in two 10k runs fundraising for Curve (via the Leicester Theatre Trust who run the theatre) where I raised around £300. I plan to continue to fundraise for the Curve in the near future. I feel supporting the arts is vital, especially local arts outside of London. I must thank the Curve for giving me the opportunity to support them.

Me running the Stratford Big 10k for Curve in September 2013.
I must briefly mention Fiona Allan (chief executive) and Paul Kerryson and thank them for the work they've done and continue to do with making Curve a success throughout the last 5 years and of course too all the staff, crew and performers who have made the Curve magical too visit too.

On stage the 2014 Spring season looks very exciting with an in house production of "Hairspray" starring EastEnders David Witts, and a World Premiere of the musical version of "The Water Babies" starring West End leading lady Louise Dearman, there is also the 5th birthday gala in January 2014 which will feature some of the stars of the previous productions.

I hope all of Leicester is/will be proud of the Curve, for the work it does on stage and in the local community. I hope the Curve goes from strength the strength and I'm sure I'll be visiting for the rest of my life.

Happy 5th Birthday Curve!


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Chicago - Curve Theatre

Long has Leicester and in particular Paul Kerryson produced fantastic productions and this years Christmas offering by Curve is truly spectacular. Having seen many different productions under the direction of Paul (The Wizard Of Oz, 42nd Street, Gypsy and Hello Dolly to name a few) this new production of the classic musical Chicago certainly doesn't disappoint.

The West End revival ran for 15 years before closing in 2012, and the show has toured the UK a few times, but having seen a touring production at De Montfort Hall a few years back (starring Jimmy Osmond, Emma Barton and Twinnie Lee Moore) I can say that I found Curve's production much more enjoyable. Paul and his team have put on a wonderful 5 star quality production using a fantastic set, and a highly talented company of performers and musicians.

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

A company led by Gemma Sutton as Roxie Hart and Verity Rushworth as Velma Kelly performed to a real high standard during the preview I attended. I can't fault a single member of the company. Verity's ''All That Jazz" opened the show strongly and set a bar for how every number would be done throughout the show. I particularity enjoyed the "Cell Block Tango" which featured the female ensemble. Sandra Marvin wowed with her vocal performance of "When You're Good To Mama", she had a real presence and a huge vocal quality. David Leonard's Billy Flynn was strong and effective, his versions of "All I Care About" and "Razzle Dazzle" a real show highlight. A great supporting performance from Matthew Barrow as Roxie's supportive husband Amos stood out, as did his brilliant "Mister Cellophane". The "We Both Reached For The Gun Scene" where Billy uses Roxie as a puppet in a press interview was superbly acted by David and Gemma. All throughout the show the numbers were sung and danced to such a high standard. I couldn't fault a single part of the show. Drew McOnie's choreography is strong and the wonderful set designed by Al Parkinson and lighting by Philip Gladwell add to the piece superbly.

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography
This production is superb, slick and sexy. I'd highly recommend a trip to Curve here in Leicester where the show runs until January 18th, you won't regret it. Superb. Tickets can be purchased here.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

About me!: Next Interviewee....Mark Johnson

About me!: Next Interviewee....Mark Johnson: Now we will interview Mark Johnson , a fellow theatre fan and blogger from Leicestershire who loves seeing musical theatre and plays in ...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Rocky Horror Show 2013

The 40th Anniversary UK tour of the Rocky Horror Show closed on Saturday (2nd November 2013) at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre. Beginning its run ("it was great when it all began...") back in December of 2012 in Brighton's Theatre Royal the show has traveled up and down the UK over the past 11 months performing to sell out audiences.



For me, having seen the shows two previous UK tours (2006-07 and 2009-10) I was coming into this tour having seen the show 43 times, now that may sound a lot to people who don't understand but Rocky Horror is one of those shows in which every night is different, it's a unique stand alone show and it's not just a show, it's an experience. This isn't a show you just turn up to, watch it and go home, this is a show you can dress up, join in and meet many audience members who are there like you to have a great time. I defy anyone to go and see the show once and not want to return to see it again.

Stage door photos from Nottingham.

Coming into this tour I was again very excited to see a new production but under the same direction as the two previous tours, Mr Christopher Luscombe. This new tour also gave me a chance to see a new cast performing the show, again after seeing a cast so many times it's somewhat refreshing to see a new company up there performing. The new tour didn't disappoint me, the sets (Hugh Durrant), the lighting (Nick Richings), the costumes (Sue Blane's wonderful designs), the choreography (Nathan M Wright), and all the musicians. All of the pieces joined together to make the show once again brilliant.



The cast were faultless, I can't really pick fault at any of them. Oliver Thornton's Frank was superb, though I still prefer David Bedella's (maybe cause David was my first and will always now be Frank to me). Roxanne Pallet and Dani Harmer made superb Janet's, Ben Forster and Christos Dante (understudy whom covered the role when Ben was back in Jesus Christ Superstar) were outstanding Brad's, I truly loved the vocal performance of Ben when singing 'Once In A While'. Phillip Franks is possibly the best narrator I've seen, his quick and witty responses, refreshed for each show made his a joy to see perform. Ceris Hine's (the only original returnee from the previous tour) Columbia is a masterpiece, I don't think there is a role more suited to her out there. Abigail Jaye (who sadly had to depart the show) and Jayde Westaby Magenta's were top vocal performances. Kristian Lavercombe's Riff Raff is easily my favourite Riff of the actors I've seen in the role, it's no wonder he's been cast in the role in the forthcoming Australian production, his vocals are powerful, and his acting strong. Rhydian and Henry Davis Rocky's were great. Joel Montague (another who had to depart the show) and Richard Meek's Eddie/Dr Scott were brilliant, Richard's I particularly enjoyed. The Phantom's, Rachel Grundy, Maria Coyne, Christos Dante, Sam Murphy, David Gale all played their parts in the background well and when understudying the lead parts. All in all, I had a discussion with Rachel's mum and dad on the final night where we said you can't fault a single person on the stage, and that was right.


Sadly due to money mainly I didn't get to see the tour as many times as I would have liked. I only caught 12 shows, one in Brighton, one in Aylesbury, 4 in Leicester, two in Nottingham and 4 in Wolverhampton, but I'm just glad to have gotten to see it the once. I think across the venues I saw it, Nottingham's two audiences were superb, considering I saw it on a Monday evening and Friday early the audiences were loud and up for it but not too loud like the Friday evening in Leicester where the audience were a real disappointment and the treatment of Phillip Franks was disgraceful.

The Rocky Horror Centipede

One of the joys of Rocky is the fellow Rocky fans, there is nothing like this bunch of dedicated lovely fans who travel up and down and see the show. There's simply to many to name but you all know who you are, thanks for always making me feel welcome and part of the family. The final weekend in Wolverhampton was a blast, from pizza party in our room to the last day of the tour, the meet up for lunch and just seeing people I hadn't seen for a while. There isn't a bunch of lovelier people out there. It's a shame this tour has ended so soon, that just when you get to see everyone you could have to wait nearly a year (until the Rocky Picnic) or more to see everyone again. The Rocky family are all "superheroes".

Rocky Fans on the stairs of the Wolverhampton Grand.

I'd like to wrap up this blog with a few thank you's, first of all the master himself Richard O'Brien for creating this masterpiece that will be enjoyed for many many generations to come. Christopher Luscombe, whose productions have been superb. All the cast for their brilliant performances. in particular Rachel Grundy and Maria Coyne, both of whom have been lovely to speak to and support throughout, they're two of the kindest sweetest people I've ever met. To everyone involved on putting the show on at each venue, and all the Rocky Family for being lovely and genuine people.


It's been another brilliant tour, and I can't wait to Time Warp again sometime soon...


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

My Rocky Horror Show Visits

In this blog I'm listing the venues I've seen The Rocky Horror Show on stage and all the casts I've seen perform in the show.

Up to date as of 3rd November 2013

2006-07
York: Grand Opera House (x2)
Leicester: De Montfort Hall (x4)
Torquay: Princess Theatre (x3)
Wimbledon: New Wimbledon Theatre (x2)
Cambridge: Corn Exchange (x2)
Sheffield: Lyceum Theatre (x2)
Dunstable: Grove Theatre (x2)
Woking: New Victoria Theatre (x2)

Tour Total - 19

Cast:
David Bedella - Frank N Furter
Matthew Cole - Brad (York and Leicester)
Richard Meek - Brad (Torquay - Woking)
Suzanne Shaw - Janet (York and Leicester)
Sarah Boulton - Janet (Torquay, Wimbledon and Cambridge)
Hayley Tamaddon - Janet (Sheffield, Dunstable and Woking)
Julian Essex-Spurrier - Rocky (York and Leicester)
Sergio Priftis - Rocky (Torquay - Woking)
Kay Murphy - Columbia (York and Leicester)
Sarah French-Ellis - Columbia (Torquay)
Lauren Appleby - Columbia (Wimbledon and Cambridge?)
Sarah Boulton - Columbia (Sheffield, Dunstable and Woking)
Nathan Amzi - Eddie/Dr Scott
Iain Davey - Riff Raff (York and Leicester)
Matt Harrop - Riff Raff (Torquay - Woking)
Shona White - Magenta/Usherette (York and Leicester)
Claire Parish - Magenta/Usherette (Torquay - Woking)
Richard O'Brien - Usherette (Wimbledon)
Lynden O'Neill - Phantom (York and Leicester)
Stuart Ellis - Phantom
Sarah Boulton - Phantom (York and Leicester)
Claire Parish - Phantom (York and Leicester)
Kevin Littlejohn - Phantom (Torquay - Woking)
Erin Carter - Phantom (Torquay - Woking)
Lauren Appleby - Phantom (Torquay, Sheffield - Woking)
Katie Funk - Phantom (Wimbledon and Cambridge?)
Biggins - Narrator (York, Torquay, Cambridge, Sheffield, Dunstable)
Brian Capron - Narrator (Leicester and Woking)
Danny Baker - Narrator (Wimbledon)


2009-10 Tour
Stoke: Regent Theatre (x2)
Birmingham: Hippodrome (x1)
Leicester: De Montfort Hall (x5)
Northampton: Derngate Theatre (x2)
Nottingham: Theatre Royal (x3)
Oxford: New Theatre (x2)
Norwich: Theatre Royal (x1)
Bristol: Hippodrome (x3)
Woking: New Victoria Theatre (x1)
Liverpool: Empire (x1)
Birmingham: Alexandra Theatre (x1)
Aylesbury: Waterside Theatre (x2)

Tour Total - 24
Overall Total - 43



Cast:
David Bedella - Frank N Furter
Mark Evans - Brad (Stoke and Birmingham (Hippodrome))
Richard Meek - Brad (Leicester - Aylesbury)
Haley Flaherty - Janet
Dominic Tribuzio - Rocky (Stoke - Bristol)
Julian Essex-Spurrier - Rocky (Woking, Liverpool and Aylesbury)
Stuart King - Rocky (Birmingham)
Ceris Hine - Columbia
Nathan Amzi - Eddie/Dr Scott (Stoke - Bristol)
Adrian Der Gregorian - Eddie/Dr Scott (Woking - Aylesbury)
Brian McCann - Riff Raff (Stoke - Bristol)
Stuart Ellis - Riff Raff (Woking - Aylesbury)
Kara Lane - Magenta/Usherette
Stuart Ellis - Phantom (Stoke - Bristol)
Henry Davis - Phantom (Stoke - Norwich)
Marc Leslie - Phantom
Stuart King - Phantom (Bristol - Aylesbury)
Tom Partridge - Phantom (Woking - Aylesbury)
Charlotte Scott - Phantom
Daniela Valvano - Phantom
Biggins - Narrator (Stoke, Oxford, Norwich, Liverpool, Birmingham (Alexandra))
Ainsley Harriot - Narrator (Birmingham (Hippodrome))
Mark Curry - Narrator (Leicester)
Nigel Planer - Narrator (Northampton)
Maxwell Claufield - Narrator (Nottingham)
Michael Aspel - Narrator (Woking)
Steve Pemberton - Narrator (Aylesbury)



2012-13 40th Anniversary Tour
Brighton: Theatre Royal (x1)
Aylesbury: Waterside Theatre (x1)
Nottingham: Theatre Royal (x2)
Leicester: Curve (x4)
Wolverhampton: Grand Theatre (x4)

Tour Total - 12
Overall Total - 55


Cast:
Oliver Thornton - Frank N Furter
Ben Forster - Brad (Brighton - Nottingham and Wolverhampton)
Christos Dante - Brad (Leicester)
Roxanne Pallett - Janet (Brighton and Aylesbury)
Dani Harmer - Janet (Nottingham - Wolverhampton)
Rhydian - Rocky (Brighton and Aylesbury)
Henry Davis - Rocky (Nottingham - Wolverhampton)
Ceris Hine - Columbia 
Joel Montague - Eddie/Dr Scott (Brighton and Aylesbury)
Richard Meek - Eddie/Dr Scott (Nottingham - Wolverhampton
Kristian Lavercombe - Riff Raff
Abigail Jaye - Magenta/Usherette (Brighton and Aylesbury)
Jayde Westaby - Magenta/Usherette (Nottingham - Wolverhampton
Christos Dante - Phantom (Brighton - Nottingham and Wolverhampton)
David Gale - Phantom
Sam Murphy - Phantom (Leicester)
Rachel Grundy - Phantom
Maria Coyne - Phantom
Phillip Franks - Narrator