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Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Callum Scott Howells and Madeline Brewer Announced to Join Cabaret From 3 October 2022


The producers of the multi award-winning, critically acclaimed production of CABARET at the KIT KAT CLUB in London’s West End are thrilled to announce that BAFTA Award nominee Callum Scott Howells will play ‘The Emcee’ and Emmy Award nominee Madeline Brewer will play ‘Sally Bowles’ from 3 October 2022 until28 January 2023kitkat.club

 

Callum Scott Howells said today “I can't wait to work with the incredible team and company, and follow on from two actors who I hugely respect and admire. I feel very lucky and excited to be taking on such an iconic role within this widely celebrated and unique production. It's going to be a ride.”

 

Madeline Brewer said today Rebecca’s vision is the most magical and emotional and exciting Cabaret I’ve ever seen. It’s a Sally and a Kit Kat Club so thrillingly fun and humbly prescient. I’m beyond honored to be invited to the party.”

 

Callum Scott Howells is best known for playing Colin in Russell T Davies’ hit Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin. For his performance as Colin, Callum won the BAFTA Cymru Award for Leading Actor and the Royal Television Society Award for Best Male Actor. For the same role, he was twice nominated at the 2022 BAFTA Television Awards; for Best Supporting Actor and Virgin Media’s Must See Moment. Later this year, he will be seen in the Netflix film The Beautiful Game opposite Bill Nighy. Callum’s theatre credits include She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Matthew Bourne’s production of Lord of the Flies.

 

Madeline Brewer has starred as Janine Lindo in all four seasons of Hulu’s hit drama The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She will star in the fifth season of the show, due to premiere this September. Madeline began her career portraying Tricia Miller in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Her film credits include Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez and Cam for Netflix. Madeline’s other credits include Netflix/Channel 4’s Black Mirror and Apple TV’s Shining Girls. 

 

At certain performances, the role of Sally Bowles will be played by Emily Benjamin.

 

As a member of the original cast of this production, Emily has been a swing and understudy to the role of Sally Bowles since the show opened last year. Her other West End theatre credits include Bat Out of Hell The Musical at the London Coliseum and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Bridge Theatre.

 

Also joining the cast on 3 October 2022 will be Sid Sagar as ‘Cliff Bradshaw’, Danny Mahoney as ‘Ernst Ludwig’ and Michelle Bishop as ‘Fraulein Kost’. Vivien Parry and Richard Katz continue to play ‘Fraulein Schneider’ and ‘Herr Schultz’ respectively.

 

The cast is completed by Gabriela Benedetti, Charles Croysdill, Laura Delany, Sally Frith, Matthew Gent, Ying Ue Li, Ela Lisondra, Chris O’Mara, Grant Neal, Hicaro Nicolai, Adam Taylor, Toby Turpin, Patrick Wilden and Sophie Maria Wojna.

 

The Prologue Company currently includes Rachel Benson, Laura Braid, Asmara Cammock, Julian Capolei, Celine Fortenbacher, Reuben Greeph, Samantha Ho, Andrew Linnie, Carys McQueen, Kate Robson-Stuart and Sally Swanson

 

This unique production of CABARET opened in December last year to critical and audience acclaim, widely praised as the ultimate theatrical experience. In April this year, the production won a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards, the most for any musical revival in Olivier history, as well as three prestigious Critics Circle Awards.

 

In a time when the world is changing forever, there is one place where everyone can be free… Welcome to the Kit Kat Club, home to an intimate and electrifying new production of CABARET. This is Berlin. Relax. Loosen up. Be yourself. 


Transforming one of London’s most famous theatres with an in-the-round auditorium and reimagined spaces, before the show guests are invited to enjoy and explore the Kit Kat Club with pre-show entertainment, drinks and dining all on offer. When booking, guests receive a 'club entry time' to allow enough time to take in the world of the Kit Kat Club before the show starts. But of course, the show really starts when you first join us in the club…

 

One of the most successful musicals of all time CABARET features the songs Wilkommen, Don’t Tell Mama, Mein Herr, Maybe This Time, Money and the title number. It has music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Joe Masteroff. Based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood.

 

CABARET is directed by Rebecca Frecknall, set and costume design is by Tom Scutt with choreography by Julia Cheng. Musical supervision by Jennifer Whyte and musical direction by Ben Ferguson with lighting design by Isabella Byrd and sound design by Nick Lidster. The casting director is Stuart Burt and the associate director is Jordan Fein.

 

CABARET at the KIT KAT CLUB is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions and Underbelly.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Chess the Musical in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Review


Chess the Musical in Concert
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd August 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After the success earlier in the year of Bonnie and Clyde in Concert, the bar has been set rather high for what concert productions at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane can provide, and this most recent one certainly hits the mark.

Chess, last seen in London in 2018 at the Coliseum, is set in the 1970s/80s amid the Cold War. Two chess masters meet in Bangkok to fight it out for the world championship title, but also end up in political and romantic competitions. 

By Tim Rice's own admission in the programme notes, the music is the heart of this show, with many finding fault with the book that is sometimes all over the place. Thankfully in this production everything is fairly sleek and issues with the book can be overlooked thanks to the sumptuous cast, choir and orchestra.

Director Nick Winston put on the show in a previous iteration in Japan and has superbly brought it to the London stage with a version that puts the focus strongly on storytelling, both through the music and the buoyant choreography by Alexzandra Sarmiento and Tara Young

This is further helped in no small way by the outstanding LMTO Orchestra, directed expertly by Freddie Tapner. The sumptuous, melodically complex, beautifully syncopated score is showcased to the highest degree. There's a sensitivity given to the more pared back moments whilst the rousing, dramatic pieces of score are stretched to their full extent to provide real wow moments. The LMTO Chorus also bring add excellent power and oomph to the proceedings.

There were some songs which were cut from the show, namely the song Talking Chess between Anatoly and Freddie and Commie Newspapers which I think would have helped the plot be a bit clearer, especially for those seeing the show for the first time. But of course given the short turnaround and runtime for the concerts, I can certainly understand why some pieces had to be cut and shifted and what was still included was excellent. Any plot issues really fly under the radar when you have such a wonderful team on stage and offstage making everything else so enjoyable.

This onstage team is made up of some musical theatre heavyweights and there are standout performances throughout. Samantha Barks' rendition of Nobody's Side and the Anthem Reprise are definitely at the top. Joel Harper-Jackson's Pity The Child, Hadley Fraser's Anthem also bring the house down, and Frances Mayli McCann and Barks also compliment one another beautifully in the classic I Know Him So Well.

Having first seen Chess in concert version at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008 and falling in love with it at age 10, seeing this production of equal strength was an absolute treat to witness. Here's hoping we see more of this outstanding adaptation and the stellar cast who brought it to life!

photo credit: Mark Senior

Friday, 1 July 2022

Come From Away to Play Final Performance in West End on 7 January 2023

The multi award-winning London production of global hit musical Come From Away will extend in the West End from September until the end of the year before holding its final performance at the Phoenix Theatre on Saturday 7 January 2023.

By the time the West End company take their final bow, this critically acclaimed production will have played 1048 performances in London, 47 performances in Dublin and won many major UK theatre Awards including the Olivier, Critics’ Circle and What’s On Stage Awards for ‘Best Musical’.

The current London cast of Come From Away includes Jenna Boyd (Beulah and others), James Doherty (Claude and others), Mark Dugdale (Kevin T/Garth and others), Alice Fearn (Beverley/Annette and others), Kate Graham (Diane and others), Robert Hands (Nick/Doug and others), Jonathan Andrew Hume (Kevin J/Ali and others), Gemma Knight Jones (Hannah and others), Kirsty Malpass (Bonnie and others), Harry Morrison (Oz and others), Emma Salvo (Janice and others), Lejaun Sheppard (Bob and others), with Chiara Baronti, Ricardo Castro, Stuart Hickey, Alexander McMorran, Sarah MorrisonLucy ParkJennifer Tierney and Matthew Whennell-Clark.

The Come From Away band includes Alan Berry (Musical Director/UK Musical Supervisor), Matt Bashford (Whistles/Irish Flute/Uillean Pipes), Aoife Mairead Ní Bhriain (Fiddle), Oli Briant (Electric/Acoustic Guitar), Justin Quinn (Acoustic Guitars/Mandolins/Bouzouki), Joey Grant (Electric and Acoustic Bass),  Ray Fean (Bodhrán/Percussion), Ian Whitehead (Drums/Percussion), Huw Evans (Associate Musical Director), Andrew Barrett for Lionella Music, LLC (Electronic Music Design), Phij Adams (Associate Keyboard Programmer), Ryan Driscoll (Music Preparation), and David Gallagher (Orchestral Management).

Come From Away shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.

Experience the joy, heartache and soaring music as the spirited locals and global passengers overcome their fears and a world of cultural differences to come together and forge friendships that will stay with them forever. The first female American Airlines captain, the quick-thinking town mayor, the mother of a New York firefighter and the eager local news reporter are among the many real characters caught at the start of the moment that changed the course of history, and whose stories became a true celebration of hope, humanity and unity.

The international hit musical has celebrated sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, in Canada, throughout Australia, and on a 60-city North American Tour.

The Come From Away creative team includes Irene Sankoff and David Hein (Book, Music and Lyrics), Christopher Ashley (Director), Kelly Devine (Musical Staging), Ian Eisendrath (Music Supervision and Arrangements), Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Design), Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Howell Binkley (Lighting Design), Gareth Owen (Sound Design), David Brian Brown (Hair Design), August Eriksmoen (Orchestrations), Pippa Ailion CDG and Natalie Gallacher CDG (Casting), Joel Goldes (Dialect Coach), Michael Rubinoff (Creative Consultant), Bob Hallett (Newfoundland Music Consultant),  Shirley Fishman (Dramaturg) and Tara Overfield (Associate Director and Choreographer UK).

Come From Away is produced in the UK by Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. The European premiere of Come From Away was co-produced with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre.

Tickets for Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre are available via comefromawaylondon.co.uk.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol – A New Musical will play a Christmas season at the Southbank Centre


Producers Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment are delighted to announce that the European Premiere of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol – A New Musical will play a Christmas season at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 8 December 2022 to 8 January 2023, with a press night on 13 December 2022. Tickets go on sale on 4 July 2022www.dollyschristmascarol.com
 
Dolly Parton said today “Bringing our reimagined Charles Dickens classic to London feels like a homecoming. My songs weave the music of my beautiful Smoky Mountains into this timeless Christmas story, and I can’t wait for London audiences to hear them as we tell that story, set in a place that is truly special to me.”  

Set during the 1930s in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, this heart-warming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season. As a Christmas Eve snowstorm approaches, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner and three ghosts who compel him to see life anew and discover that love and family are the greatest and most precious gifts we have. Dickens’s classic characters and Parton’s heart-felt songs beautifully reimagine this timeless story in a whole new light.  
Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an adaptation by David H. Bell, Paul T. Couch and Curt Wollan. The book is by David H. Bell with music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton.  It is produced by Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Full Cast and Creative Team Announced for Billy Elliot the Musical


Curve has announced the cast and creative team for its upcoming Made at Curve production of Billy Elliot the Musical.

The first new UK production is directed by Nikolai Foster (A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard – At Home, West Side Story) and will run at the Leicester theatre for six weeks only from Thursday 7 July to Sunday 14 August. Press night will take place on Thursday 14 July.

The titular role of Billy Elliot, the miner’s son with a passion for ballet, will be performed by Leo Hollingsworth from Nottinghamshire, Alfie Napolitano from Northamptonshire, Samuel Newby from Hertfordshire and Jaden Shentall-Lee, whose family live in Leicestershire.

Billy’s dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson will be played by West End and Broadway legend Sally Ann Triplett, whose iconic roles include Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (National Theatre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Young Phyllis in Follies (Shaftesbury Theatre), as well as Martha in the recent Made at Curve UK tour of White Christmas.

Michael, Billy’s best friend will be performed by Bobby Donald, Lucas Haywood, Ethan Shimwell and Leicester’s Prem Masani, who will make his stage debut in the production.

All hailing from the East Midlands, Pearl Ball, Caitlin Cole, Lola Johnstone and Ellie Copping – who returns to Curve’s stage having previously appeared as Susan Waverly in the 2018 Made at Curve production of White Christmas - will share the role of Debbie, Mrs. Wilkinson’s daughter.

Joe Caffrey, who previously performed in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical, will join the cast as Billy’s Dad Jackie, while Broadway and West End sensation Rachel Izen will play Billy’s Grandma Edna. Luke Baker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the Made at Curve UK tour of Grease) will play Billy’s older brother Tony and Jessica Daley (recently seen in Made at Curve productions of White Christmas and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) will play Billy’s Mum.

The adult company will be completed by Craig Armstrong as George, Minal Patel as Big Davey, Cameron Johnson as Mr. Braithwaite, Micky Cochrane as Scab, Robin Paley Yorke as Lesley, Christopher Wright as Mr. Wilkinson, Michael Lin as Pit Supervisor, Jonathan Dryden Taylor as Posh Dad, William Atkinson as Older Billy and ensemble, and Steph Asamoah, Tori McDougall, Anna Rossa and Louie Wood as members of the ensemble.

The young company of ballet dancers and boxers, most of which are Midlands-based or have local family connections, will feature Willow Adamson, Maddie Seren Ashley, Oliver Back, Aneeka Kaur Bains, Ella-Rose Blackburn Price, Harvey Clarridge, Lily Corkill, Miley Dalton, Matisse Didier, Isabelle Francis, Ethan Galeotti, Rahul Gandabhai, Isla Granville, Uzziah Gray, Orlaith Rae Hunt, Ava Rose Johnson, Ava Mia Komisarczuk, Kyrelle Lammy, Lienna-Jean Langdon, Tahlia Maddox, Lorcan Murphy, Nesisa Mhindu, Sophia Pirie, Hayden Polanco, Gopal Thacker and Mirabelle Varakantam.

The Made at Curve production of Billy Elliot the Musical will by choreographed by Lucy Hind, with Musical Supervisor and Musical Director George Dyer. The set will be designed by Michael Taylor with costumes designed by Edd Lindley. Also joining the creative team are Lighting Designer and Curve Associate Ben Cracknell, Sound Designer Adam Fisher, Props Supervisor Lizzie Frankl, RYTDS Resident Assistant Director Lilac Yosiphon, Birkbeck Trainee Director Thyrza Abrahams, Associate Choreographer James Berkery, Dialect Coach Elspeth Morrison, Fight Director Kev McCurdy and Head Chaperone Helen ‘H’ Mclaren-Frost.

Children’s casting is managed by Jo Hawes, with adult casting led by Curve Associate Kay Magson CDG.

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“We are beyond excited to share our extraordinary cast for Lee Hall and Elton John’s astonishing musical Billy Elliot, ensuring this summer in Leicester is truly memorable.
“Billy Elliot is a musical filled with incredible characters, epic ideas and at its heart, the story of a young boy who has the passion and courage to dance down a different path from the one prescribed for him. We are thrilled to be working with our four Billys - Alfie, Leo, Jaden and Sam - and the entire young company - all hugely talented, brimming with energy and representing the very best young talent in the UK today.
“And leading the entire company, theatre legend Sally Ann Triplett takes on the role of the inspirational teacher we all need in our lives, Mrs. Wilkinson. Joining Sally, we are proud to welcome a first-class company to Curve, totally 55 performers! This is by far the most ambitious show we have staged at Curve and there is no better time to present this musical which recognises the value of culture in our society, the importance of expressing your truest self and gives a voice to the courageous working-class communities who are depicted in Lee Hall’s astonishing play. All beautifully framed by Elton John’s electrifying score.”

Based on Stephen Daldry’s BAFTA-winning 2000 film starring Jamie Bell and Julie WaltersBilly Elliot the Musical features music from Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall. The musical first premiered at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre in 2005 and went on to win a host of international awards, including four Olivier Awards and ten Tony Awards.

Tickets for Billy Elliot the Musical at Curve be purchased on Curve’s website www.curveonline.co.uk, over the phone by calling 0116 242 3595 or in-person at Curve’s Box Office.

photo credit: Marc Brenner

Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson’s Epic Musical From Here To Eternity Returns to London


Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson’s epic musical From Here To Eternity is to get its first London revival in a newly revised production at Charing Cross Theatre.

‘From Here To Eternity’ will run from 29 October - 17 December.

Set in the two weeks leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, ‘From Here To Eternity’ is a compelling portrait of humanity, love, duty and redemption set against the backdrop of a beautiful and conflicted paradise.

Adapted from the classic novel by James Jones this breathtaking musical unites the writing talents of Tim Rice (lyrics), Stuart Brayson (music) and Donald Rice and Bill Oakes (book), and is directed by Brett Smock (Producing Artistic Director / The Rev Theatre Company).

From Here To Eternity marked Tim Rice’s first new stage musical for over 10 years. His extraordinary career includes winning 12 Ivor Novello awards, 4 Tonys and 3 Oscars, with smash-hit musicals including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess and The Lion King.

Director Brett Smock said: “After extensive development work on ‘From Here To Eternity’ in the US at The REV Theatre Company in New York and The Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine, we are thrilled to join forces with UK producer Katy Lipson/Aria Entertainment to present a powerful new production designed specifically for the intimacy of Charing Cross Theatre. Framed by a world on the brink of war, at a time when we are losing the last of the ‘Greatest Generation’, and with the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor just last year, it feels timely to revisit this fascinating series of events.”

 

Lyricist Tim Rice said: “It’s wonderful to have ‘From Here To Eternity back in London. Since its world premiere in the West End in 2013, there have been two excellent productions in North America, both directed by Brett Smock, and I’m delighted he’s bringing the latest iteration of the show back across The Pond. Katy Lipson and her team are the perfect partners: young, dynamic and energetic - like the fighting men of G Company. It’s been a treat to get back to the writing desk with Stuart, too.If you like your musicals soft and fluffy, this show is not for you. We have nothing to offer but danger, betrayal, heart-break, hope, blood, sweat and tears!”

 

Composer Stuart Brayson said: “Since my tiny acorn of an idea that the classic James Jones novel would make a good musical - and everyone thought I was mad - I’ve been fortunate to experience its remarkable journey from early workshops at the Bridewell Theatre to a West End run, a wonderful film of the production, a successful cast album and two terrific American productions. That’s not too shabby for a self-taught musician and working class lad from Gateshead!”

 

“Gentlemen rankers out on a spree
Damned from here to Eternity”
(Rudyard Kipling)

Cast to be announced.