Monday, 17 December 2012

Our Essential Guide to Disabled Access at London Theatres

Theatre is accessible to everyone, and many theatres can now cater for disabled, visually and hearing impaired audiences. This guide aims to explain how theatres can adapt to help you or someone you know.
 
Firstly, we should point out that every theatre has a varying amount of access, but theatres are adapting all the time to accommodate those who need assistance.
 
It is best to contact the theatre directly before you book your tickets, as they can tell you exactly what they can offer in terms of accessibility and assistance.
 
Access to the Theatre
Street access varies from theatre to theatre. Many have ramps and lifts that can allow disabled audience members to comfortably enter the theatre’s foyer. Some may only have steps, which could cause disabled customers some inconvenience. The theatre’s staff will be able to assist anyone in need of help whilst entering the theatre. 
 
Friday, 7 December 2012

Top 10 Longest Running West End Shows

Following our post on the Top 10 West End Flops, we thought we would restore the balance and find out which 10 West End musicals have been the longest running, and therefore very, very successful!
 
We countdown to the number one longest running show ever!

Without looking can you guess which is Number 1?

Is Les Miserables the longest running show?

10. The Lion King 1999 – present (13 years)

The Lion King, which opened in 1999 at the Lyceum Theatre, London, is still running today – and in the same theatre. The musical offers something completely original, withamazing set and costume design, as well as music by Elton John, we expect this production to run on and on.
 

9. Mamma Mia 1999 – present (13 years)

Mamma Mia’s West End premiere was in 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Using the m
usic of Swedish band, ABBA, the musical has gone on to inspire a very successful film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. It currently plays at the Prince of Wales Theatre but will move to the Novello Theatre after the London Olympics.
 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Insight Into Industry With Comedy Writer, Emma Gallagher

For insight into the stage industry, we spoke to Emma Gallagher – mother of one, comedy writer specialising in parody songs, sketches and voiceovers. She is also a film/TV extra.  
How did you find your way in comedy writing?
Back in 2003 I went to a comedy club in Brighton and saw a flyer asking for budding comedy writers to submit material for the Treason Show, a local comedy stage show in Brighton. I submitted my first ever sketch and a parody song. Luckily they liked it and I made it into their pool of comedy writers.
In April 2011 I was taken on as a writer for NewsRevue and so far this year I’ve had my material used by them on stage most weeks. Now I write for both The Treason Show (monthly Brighton/Touring) and NewsRevue (weekly Canal Cafe London).
Is it hard to get your material accepted?
It’s extremely hard as both shows require topical material, and there’s usually a team of very talented writers submitting material on exactly the same subject. You have to find an angle that no one else has thought of. You need to be sharper and funnier because each show may only cover that topic once. Occasionally I co-write with another writer, Hil Jennings. We bounce ideas around and come up with a song or sketch between us.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sound of Music & To Kill A Mockingbird Coming to Regent’s Park

It has been confirmed that a revival of The Sound of Music and an adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird will open at the Open Air in Regent’s Park, next year.
The Sound of Music is also back on the stage! Its last West End run was back in 2006 when the winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Connie Fisher took the lead role as Maria.
It will play from 25 July to 7 September 2013 at the Open Air.
To Kill A Mockingbird, the classic American novel has been newly adapted for the stage. The book is highly regarded as one of the best books in American writing. Its themes of racial inequality and rape meant that the book’s original reception was mixed, with some wanting the book banned. It is now thought to be one of the most widely read books in America that approaches the subject of race.
The production runs at the Open Air from 16 May to 15 June 2013.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Jersey Boys – Our Reader's Review

Our reviewer Rachel Hutchings went to see Jersey Boys last week, and had a blast! Rachel tells all on the jazziest musical in the West End.
Oh what a night indeed!
‘fun frivolity, and frantic, foot-tapping’
Jersey Boys provides fun frivolity and some frantic foot-tapping numbers from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It opens on the New Jersey street corner and follows the band’s search for a new member, and ends with their inevitable self-destruction. Jersey Boys portrays a tale of relationships and arguments, family break ups and deaths amidst the hedonism of Swinging Sixties’ Rock’n'Roll.
‘lovely nostalgic touches’
The show has been adapted from a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, chronicling the journey of Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons. Conversations with songwriter Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli himself provided valuable insight into New Jersey life. The attention to detail is clear and there are some lovely nostalgic touches with black and white film from actual radio and television performances acting as a backdrop for significant musical moments.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Top Flops: 10 West End Musicals You… Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Not all West End musicals are big hits, some end before they even really get started! We’ve ranked 10 of the shortest running musicals of all time!
Let us know if anyone out there has actually seen or heard of any of these shows! If you have, did these West End musicals deserve to be cut short?
theatre-seats
Which Witch (1992)
10 weeks
Which Witch, an “Operamusical” opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in London on October 22, 1992 and ran for only 76 performances. The critics ripped the musical apart, describing it as “the second worst West End musical of all time”.
Gone With the Wind (2008)
7 weeks
Adapted from the 1939 book, the musical opened at the West End’s New London Theatre in April 2008. Critics’ reviews were mixed but, the show closed in June of the same year.
Someone Like You (1990)
4 weeks
The musical opened at The Strand Theatre to solid reviews. The show centres around Abigail who goes to America with her son in search of her estranged husband, a priest. The show is set in Virginia, just after the Civil War. The show closed because the producer was in serious financial trouble and as his assets were frozen, the show instantly closed, after a month’s run.
By Jeeves (1975)
4 weeks
Riding high on the success of Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar, all set for an up and coming touring revival, Andrew Lloyd Webber embarked on a musical version of  P.G. Wodehouse’s ‘Jeeves’ series of books. The reviews were harsh and blamed the lack of character development and its lack of comedy. The show opened on the 24th April, and closed a month later.
Imagine This (2008)
4 weeks
This musical set in Warsaw, Germany during World War 2 opened in November 2008 and closed a month later. The reviews blamed it’s “trivialising of the holocaust” for its poor reception. It wasn’t helped that it opened 6 weeks after Britain announced it had entered recession.
Behind the Iron Mask (2005)
3 weeks
Loosely based on The Man in the Mask, Behind the Iron Mask opened to almost instant, unanimous, awful reviews. The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner said of the show, “I would quite happily have volunteered for death myself to help speed things up.” (Ouch!) The show closed three weeks into its run, blaming the economic climate.
Too Close to the Sun (2009)
2 weeks
Reviews of this musical were unfavourable and the planned 8 week run closed 6 weeks early! Set in 1961, Idaho, the story was the fictional account of writer, Ernest Hemingway’s last five days before his death.
The Fields of Ambrosia (1996)
2 weeks
Based on the 1970 film The Traveling Executioner set in the deep South in 1918, The Fields of Ambrosia was said to be too distasteful and audiences weren’t ready to enjoy a black comedy that featured heavy violence. The show closed at the Aldwych Theatre after just 23 performances.
Murderous Instincts (2004)
1 week
Less than a week after it opened to damning reviews, the £2 million salsa-inspired musical closed. Set in Puerto Rico, the story revolved around a family who fought for their deceased father’s estate. Constant cast and creative sacking as well as script changes were said to be another cause.
Wilde (2004)
1 night
If there was an award for the shortest run of a musical – this would be it. Wilde, a show celebrating the 150th year since the birth of Oscar Wilde closed after one performance. The Guardian’s review said, “You begin to wonder whether the sound system is being affected by the hefty rumbling of Oscar Wilde turning in his grave.” We assume the producers wanted to save even more embarrassment and close up shop, quick!

The Book Of Mormon – Announces West End Musical Transfer

The title doesn’t give much away but the musical has taken Broadway by storm. Since opening in March 2011 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, The Book of Mormon has rewritten the rules of modern theatre – and will soon be playing in the West End!
mormon-broadway-musical
by Patrick Healy
Writing team behind controversial TV series South Park, collaborated once again in the making of the show and have created a success. (It is sold out until January!) The writers have previously created music for Avenue Q and also wrote Cannibal: The Musical.
The edgy musical refers to everything from religion to consumerism to the economy. The musical itself is set around two Mormons and their journey to Uganda as they embark on a Mormon missionary to convert a local tribe. The cultural differences are a shock for both the tribe and the two young men and do their best to convert them.
Although the controversial subject doesn’t exactly scream “musical”, the show is full of satire, humour and great musical numbers – and should follow the same success as Broadway. At the Tony Awards, the show won 9 awards include Best Musical.
A West End transfer is eminent as it has been confirmed that The Book of Mormon will open in March 2013 at the Prince of Wales Theatre once Mamma Mia! has moved to the Novello Theatre.
We will hopefully hear more about this musical soon so will keep you posted! We can’t wait to hear more about the characters and cast!

Thriller Live – Our Reader's Review

Our reader, Stephanie, went to see Thriller – Live.  Take a look to see what she thought of it!
Thriller – Live is a spectacular concert with a twist of the theatrical, celebrating the person and music of Michael Jackson. The show can of course only be a representation of the man himself. But it succeeds in bringing us as close as possible in both familiar and new, imaginative ways.
Thriller Live delivers a funk filled two and a half hours of Jackson’s most popular songs and dance moves by a talented cast and live band. Expect to hear your favourite Jackson songs delivered almost faultlessly by an array of accomplished soloists. Each bring out a different side of Jackson – whether it is his high vocals or his moonwalking skills. The performers’ singing and dancing skills, combined with their accurate costumes, recreate some great versions of Jackson’s original songs.
Sunday, 28 October 2012

6 Cheap Restaurants in Theatreland

We theatre-goers have learned its possible to eat cheaply in the West End if you know where to look. Check out these restaurants, sorted by West End region, for a cheap meal before your West End show.
The Haymarket area - Royal Haymarket, Prince of Wales Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre
The Stockpot
A lovely little cafe restaurant, the original is just off Haymarket. The two-course set menu is very fast, particularly if you tell them you’re on a pre-theatre schedule. The food is quite simple, but hearty and tasty.  £20 for a meal for two, and soft drinks.
38 Panton Street
One Man Two Guvnors is now showing at the nearby Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Friday, 26 October 2012

5 Decades of Band Breakups

We look back on some of the most memorable, dramatic, sad and crazy band breakups of the last 50 years!
70s – The Beatles
The Beatles broke up in 1969 after the ‘Beatlemania’ that they had caused was starting to die down. Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s wife and her heavy involvement with the band was said to have alienated Lennon from the rest of the Beatles. Awkward! The death of their manager also caused friction between the four bandmates as Paul McCartney put it upon himself to lead the band, which apparently didn’t go down very well. The band filed string of lawsuits against  each other, including their former manager.  Although we will never really know exactly why they broke up, it’s clear their resentment of each other grew more than their love of the music.
80s – Blondie
Although one of the defining Punk bands of the 70s, Blondie’s popularity began to fade in the early 80s. Their album, The Hunter only reached number 9 in the charts, which compared to their past records wasn’t great. The extreme amount of media attention on Blondie’s frontwoman, Debbie Harry was also a sore point for the rest of band who seemed to be forgotten. This, along with financial difficulty in the band as well as guitarist, Chris Stein contracting a skin disease, the band unfortunately split in 1982. However their music still lives on and is still iconic of the decade.
90s – Spice GirlsBeing one of the most most successful girl bands was sure to put a strain on the  Spice Girls relationship.  In 1999, Geri Halliwell left the band due to ‘differences’ with bandmate Mel B. The following year they announced that the band would go on ‘hiatus’ and were not splitting up. Since then they have had numerous reunions, all as successful as their heyday! Most recently they have announced Viva Forever! – a musical about their rise to fame, featuring all of their hit songs!
Naughties – Oasis
Brotherly love isn’t really what comes to mind when we think of this band! Throughout their days together, Noel & Liam Gallagher were fighting on and off with each other. Their brawls included insulting each other’s wives, hitting each other with tambourines and even assaulting a policeman!It seems that 2009 was the final straw for the two brothers. Before headlining V Festival, they got in another argument, forcing them to pull out of the festival. Since then Liam and Noel have no contact, and although invited, Liam did not turn up to Noel’s wedding in 2010. Noel has since started a new band named Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds which is clearly no invitation for Liam to join!
Teenies – The White Stripes
Only a little way into the decade and already we hear of great bands breaking up! The White Stripes announced their split in 2011, not due to any disagreements or drama, but to preserve all the great music they had made. Jack & Meg White said at the time,“The White Stripes belong to you [the fans] now and you can do with it whatever you want.” It seems what they wanted to do was to leave the band on a positive note – rather unlike the bands above!
Other equally dramatic band-splits that could have made the list include-
- Take That, who are now “back for good” (Sorry!!)
- S Club 7 and Steps for the 90s kids out there
- The Clash and the Sex Pistols for you punk rockers!
Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Moonshadow, The Cat Stevens Musical, Destined for the West End…?

I’m being followed by a Moonshadow
Moonshadow
Moonshadow
Moonshadow, The Cat Stevens musical, has been playing in the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, since May. It was reported in Noise11 that it will be moving to the London West End.
This has been denied by the official production team on twitter.
… but wouldn’t it be great?

The musical is the ten year brainchild of Yusuf (formerly Cat Stevens) himself. He has said he was inspired by the ‘great’ musicals of Gershwin, Benstein and Sondheim, and Rodgers and Hammerstein:  The Sound of Music, South Pacific and West Side Story. His songs definitely show influences of musical theatre: powerful, tender, nostalgic and heartfelt.
Cat Stevens has a large following in the UK, and we think Moonshadow, if it were to come to the London, could do really well. It includes over 40 songs by Cat Stevens, including Father and Son, Wild World, and The First Cut is the Deepest.
The story is a fantasy adventure of a young man fighting to overcome the darkness, and find the land of the sun. The set is fairytale-like, and seems similar to the land of Oz, which is adorning two West End stages this summer, Wicked and The Wizard of Oz.  A similar style, appealing to a similar audience?
Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Celebs on Stage: Positive or Negative?

It is no secret that celebrities in theatre is a growing trend, that often ensures audiences fill the theatres. We give you a list of recent TV personalities, singers, actors and comedians who have transitioned to the stage, but do celebrity casts put you off theatre productions?

Rob Brydon is to make his stage debut in Alan Ayckbourn’s new play A Chorus of Disapproval alongside Extra’s and Ugly Betty actress, Ashley Jensen and Eastender’s Nigel Harman. The former Gavin & Stacey actor will be right at home in the comedy. The comical play set within a play seems right up Rob’s street and we think he’s going to do really well on stage and be a massive hit with audiences.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Newsies Musical Coming to the West End?

The hit 1992 Disney musical film, Newsies, has inspired a stage adaptation. It is playing to full houses on Broadway at the moment.  It is rumoured that the musical is looking for a West End venue – a London Newsies Musical might be on the cards!
A True Setting
The story tracks the Newsboys Strike in 1989 New York, where thousands of young newspaper sellers went on strike. The young lead, Jack, is played in the original Disney film by Christian Bale, who is best known today as Batman. On Broadway, Jack is played by Jeremy Jordan.
Anything like Annie?
The film was a failure at the box office in 1992, but it has since generated a cult following – enough to transfer to a profit at the Broadway box office. Following this success, could there be a Newsies London in the pipeline? It sounds like a 1980s Annie, the famous Broadway musical set in Hoover-era NYC, and Britain is a big fan of Annie.
Not the First Disney Show…
If a London Newsies musical does make it, it won’t be the first time a Disney film successfully makes it to the West End stage. The most famous of the Disney films to become a stage show is, of course, The Lion King. The Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins are also Disney classics that have made successful musicals in the West End.
Christian Bale’s days as a 17 year old Newsie Jack are sadly behind him – but who would you like to see as the young lead?
Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Our Essential Guide To Theatre Conduct

Here is a short guide to everything you will need to know about London theatre! What to expect inside the theatre, what is expected of you. These helpful hints will help make you and your fellow audience members’ theatre experience even more enjoyable.


She obviously didn't read our guide...no phones!

2 Michael Morpurgo Plays – Private Peaceful and War Horse

A revival of Private Peaceful, adapted from a Michael Morpurgo book by Simon Reade, is back in the West End, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in September, for only two weeks.  As one of our favourite authors, we explore what makes Michael Morpurgo’s books such childhood treasures, and so good for stage adaptations.

Adaptations – Out Of The Ashes, The Butterfly Lion, Why The Whales Came

Michael Morpurgo was one of our favourite authors as a child. We still remember recommending for him in 2002, when he became the Children’s Laureate.

The first book we read was ‘The Butterfly Lion’, at school, but over the years we read most of the ones then published.  Among favourites were ‘My Friend Walter’, ‘Why The Whales Came’, ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ and ‘Private Peaceful’.

Many have been made into television or stage adaptations, showing the true dramatic potential of Morpurgo’s heartfelt characters.  ‘Out Of The Ashes’, a poignant book about plight of a family of farmers during the outbreak of the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, made a compelling children’s drama; a play adaptation of ‘The Butterfly Lion’, the one that started my love of Morpurgo, recently showed in the Derby Theatre, and ‘Why The Whales Came’ was made into both a film and a play.

The stage and screen success of ‘Why The Whales Came’, and more recently ‘War Horse’, shows that Michael Morpurgo’s war stories are particularly magical. His settings, stories and subjects are disparate, from exotic islands to hospital beds, but Word War I does seem to be a favourite of his.

War Horse

While war is merely in the background of ‘Why The Whales Came’, it is the subject and the feeling of ‘War Horse’ and ‘Private Peaceful’.  ‘War Horse’ is in concept very like ‘Black Beauty’.  We see through the eyes of the horse the close bond between himself and his boy owner, Albert.  The horse is thrown into war, but the bond remains strong.

Though the book has been made into both stage play and film, in my opinion the play is more successful. The emotion of the horse remains palpable, so when characters such as Albert drop out for long sequences, the emotional focus of the play remains on stage.  In the film, the emotional centre is moved from the horse, to his owners, so when the owners begin to change, the film’s plot lost the emotional impact of the novel.

Indeed, the film met mixed critical success. Despite doing well at the box office, it has not matched the runaway success of the National Theatre play, by Nick Stattford, 2008, which transferred to the West End in 2009, where it is still running. The play is also running on Broadway.

Private Peaceful

The stage production of ‘Private Peaceful’ is adapted by Simon Reade, also the author of Michael Morpurgo adaptations ‘Toro! Toro!’, ‘Twist of Gold’ and ‘The Mozart Question’.  It originally shown at the Old Vic in 2004, produced by Scamp Theatre, and was followed by a successful tour, including seasons in the West End.  It is now being revived by the National Theatre, but on a limited run.  The same writer is also behind a screen play of ‘Private Peaceful’, due to come out in December, which might be the explanation for this revival.

It is the first person account of Tommo, a private in the First World War, who tells his life story from the trenches.  The book’s dual focus, of both human relationships and harsh wartime realities, makes it one of the most poignant of children’s novels, and makes a great stage adaptation.  Simon Reade’s production is a one-man show, which fits the lonely retrospective of the book.  It is miles away from the spectacle of ‘War Horse’, but with as much heart.

Michael Morpurgo is a truly magical author.  While I will always, at heart, be a bigger fan of the books than the theatrical or film adaptations, ‘Private Peaceful’ captures the feeling of the book with clarity, heart and precision.  It absolutely does credit to what remains one of my favourite children’s books.
Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Theatre: a social or critical experience?

Everyone talks about shows and movies they have seen or books they have read.  How has twitter changed the way people talk about theatre, the way they recommend theatre for their friends, and the authority of professional critics, now that everyone has something to say?

Lone Theatre-goer

In this post from superb ayoungertheatre blog, the Lone Theatregoer goes to the theatre seven times in seven days, makes friends with the person sitting next to her, and concludes that although you don’t talk to your companion in the theatre, the process of going is a social experience thanks to the conversation it generates.

Theatre and the twitterverse

In the blogosphere and twitterverse these days, such conversation can come from doing a similar thing online: tweeting, discussing and showing your appreciation or criticism for shows with a community of people you have never met.  The lone theatre-going experience is definitely a surreal one, though there is no shortage of discussion on these topics on the internet, and you are alone only in the physical sense.  But is the internet-conversation on theatre a good substitute for the real thing?

Blogging previews – the debate

Firstly there is the possibility that theatre is being over discussed and over criticised in this way.  Here, Matt Trueman argues that amateur theatre bloggers should not attend previews, suggesting that the criticism of such bloggers generates online momentum that can be damaging to box office figures even before the show is ready.  However, this works on the assumption that there is an obvious split between the theatre blogger and the professional critic – surely the point of online criticism is that the gap between the two is closing; anyone can tweet an opinion, and everyone does!

Sharing the experience with people you love

Secondly, theatre is also about sharing experiences with friends and loved ones.  Surely the opinion of your friend, your partner, or your daughter will mean more to you than the random person tweeting about the show you’ve seen on Twitter, the amateur-but-experienced review blogger, or even the professional critic, however golden their opinion.

The power is in the audience

Whether you’re taking a loved one to the theatre, or tweeting about it after, it is all publicity, and eventually cash, for the box office, and therefore the show itself.  The ‘golden critic’ has limited power where footfalls are concerned – as Mark Kermode, a favourite critic for thousands, has said in relation to genre films – ‘for as long as you keep going (to bad films, mainly) they’ll keep making them’.  This is particularly true for extending runs in the West End.
In the end, the social feedback from a show has always been a tried and tested way of deciding what gets shown in the West End – twitter and blog sites just speed up this process!  Surely the future, even the present, of criticism is social.
The authority of the critic is just the ability of the critic to get their point across.
Saturday, 29 September 2012

Broadway vs. West End

We hear all the time how West End shows are transferring to Broadway and vice versa due to their popularity with the original audience, and it is assumed that when crossing the pond, they will be just as popular.


An example of when the two musical capitals of the world were poles apart is the Broadway version of Shrek The Musical. It opened in December 2008 to mixed reviews but closed in January 2010 after just over a year, because the show wasn’t financially viable – basically wasn’t selling enough tickets, (and it was the most expensive Broadway production of all time costing an estimated $25million!)
broadway, new york's theatre district
However, over in the West End it is now one of the most popular family shows which has had continuing success here since May 2011 and is taking bookings until March 2013. What British critics called a “well-crafted show”, the Americans described as a “pretty bare-bones fairytale”. Oops, didn’t seem like we saw eye to eye on that one!

Viva Forever: The Next Chapter for the Spice Girls

The Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics saw the Spice Girls take centre stage in the world’s biggest show. It had been a while since they last performed together, and we hear that it may have been the last. At least we have their musical, Viva Forever to keep the girl power alive!
Take a look what each Spice Girl has been up to since the band’s split.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sleepless in Seattle – The Musical

Sleepless in Seattle, the 1993 romantic comedy is in the process of becoming a Broadway musical. Following in the footsteps of other film-turned-musicals such as Ghost, Sleepless in Seattle is getting a stage makeover.

sleepless-in-seattle-musical
Copyright Jim Cox
Originally written by the now late-Nora Ephron, Sleepless in Seattle starred Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It told the story of widower Sam bringing up his young son, Jonah in Seattle. Sam is persuaded to speak on the radio about his loss which causes hundreds of women to write to him. One woman, Annie, a newspaper reporter, inspired by the film An Affair To Remember, decides to write to him too, despite her engagement to Walter. They arrange to meet at the Empire State Building, but like all romantic comedies, it doesn’t go to plan.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Big Interest in London’s Art and Culture

It was assumed that the London Olympics’ presence over the summer was going to to negatively affect sales of other London attractions, such as galleries, museums and theatre. However, a Guardian article suggests otherwise.
london-olympics-ceremony
(photo courtesy of santabanta.com)
The newspaper collated figures from a survey conducted by Aka, an entertainment marketing agency. 1600 adults in the UK were asked about their attitudes towards London’s arts and culture, and the results were very positive.
66.4% of those surveyed said they “would like to go to a museum or experience London theatre” when visiting London.  This is a promising amount of interest for arts organisations.
Of the five cultural activities people were most likely to see, the survey showed the following figures:
  • Pop concerts (54% interest)
  • Stand-up comedy (52% interest)
  • Musicals (52% interest)
  • Exhibitions and museums (51% interest)
  • Plays (46% interest)
These strong figures suggest that people want to visit some of London’s arts and cultural offerings. It also means that organisations should do more to make their attractions visible because the demand is clearly there.
There were also interesting results regarding reasons why people did not attend, or have not attended, these activities. A third of those surveyed admitted to missing a performance/exhibition because they:
  • forgot to buy tickets
  • assumed the event would be sold out
  • were too time pressured
  • had too much choice!

Jumpy Review – Our Reader's Review

Our reader Josh went to see Jumpy at the Duke of York’s - and laughed all the way through!  Here is his Jumpy review – the critically acclaimed show starring Tamsin Greig.  
jumpy-play-west-end

It is easy to see why April de Angelis’s new comedy Jumpy enjoyed such success in its original run at the Royal Court last year. Now playing in the West End, it is a hilarious and pertinent show, clearly written with today’s audience in mind. Tamsin Greig leads the cast with her fantastic portrayal of Hilary, a middle-aged mum whose job prospects and marriage are slowly fading away. The play focuses on the strained relationship between Hilary and her teenage daughter Tilly (Bel Powley), who develops an acute sense of sexual awareness and a tendency promiscuity, to the shock of her mother.
Friday, 21 September 2012

Woman In Black – Our Reader's Review

Our reader Karl was lucky enough to get The Woman in Black tickets, at the Fortune Theatre last week. Here’s what he thought about it!  
The publicity boasts that over 7 million people have paid to see The Woman in Black: this show is clearly a success. But it is heartening to see a popular, long-running production and to find it so fresh.
‘toys with the notions of illusion and performance’
Horror is a genre heavily dependent on manipulating the gaze. Theatre, a fixed-perspective spectacle before a static audience, might not seem like its natural home. Stephen Mallatratt’s smart adaptation of the original Susan Hill novel succeeds by acknowledging and embracing the limits of the medium. It toys with exactly the notions of illusion and performance that theatre can deal with.
‘Barriers between identities begin to break down as the Actor becomes Mr Kipps, and Mr Kipps becomes everyone else’
Mr Kipps comes to a haunted mansion on an island with a terrifying history. Weird things start to happen to Mr Kipps, alone in the spooky house. The simple ghost story becomes more complex and satisfying with the meta-theatre that surrounds it. The young Actor (Adam Best) enlivens the manuscript bought to him by Mr Kipps (Ken Drury), and the two of them begin to act it out together.  Barriers between identities begin to break down as the Actor becomes Mr Kipps, and Mr Kipps becomes everyone else.
‘deeply accomplished piece of entertainment’
The meta-theatre never overwhelms this deeply accomplished piece of entertainment. At first the design and dressing seems minimal; a single wicker chest serves as a carriage, a desk, a bed. More elaborate sets are half-glimpsed through gauze, suggested into being with artful lighting as the illusion grows to swallow the framing device. Some scenes include excellent film noir-esque constructions in the shadows.
‘excellent chemistry between Best and Dury’
Whilst certainly the play has scares (mostly of the sudden-jump variety), there is a light comic touch, particularly in the opening scenes. This is thanks to the excellent chemistry between Best and Drury, and Drury’s skilled performance of an unskilled performer. This comedy never failed to delight the audience. The frights come so much more successfully because the audience have been endeared to the characters through a little humour.
The Woman in Black is a smart, solid, unpretentious and thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre. What is all the fuss about? Just see for yourself.
Have twitter?  If you want to be in with a chance of winning tickets to The Woman in Black, enter competwition!
Thursday, 20 September 2012

UK Average Theatre Ticket Price Up To £47

There has been much talk over the predicted sales of West End theatre tickets in 2012 being lower than normal.
every-penny-counts-theatre-tickets
However, the West End box office has made a record £528 million over the last year and has seen the average audience capacity rise from 760 to 770.
This is very positive stuff indeed. People are obviously interested in theatre-going.
These figures come from a recently released report call the Box Office Data Report 2011 which evaluates how much London box offices make over the year, looking at which months, shows and theatres draw in the most revenue.
What is a little less exciting is the average face-value ticket price which has risen by 2.8% to £46.40, which is a little discouraging (but still less than the 4% inflation rate.)
The average price customers actually pay is almost £9 cheaper than the face value average at, £37.97 due to discounts on tickets. This is a difference of 22%, which has dropped from a little more impressive 25%, suggesting that discounts given on tickets aren’t as great and as popular as before.
Generally, the outlook is pretty positive. The average weekly earnings in London theatres is £50.9 million which is up from £45.4 million in the previous year’s study. Big name actors such as Kevin Spacey, James Corden and Sienna Miller are said to have been big draws in terms of audience numbers.
There is no telling to how things will change in the next coming year but there could be a possibility that the average ticket price may reduce due to many theatre productions predominantly plays, charging the majority of their tickets at £10, to encourage a new audience to theatres.

Viva Forever! – Cast & Plot Announced

The title role of ‘Viva’ for the upcoming Spice Girls-inspired musical Viva Forever! will be played by actress, Hannah John-Kamen. Viva’s mother, Lauren will be played by Mamma Mia!’s star Sally Ann Triplett.
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As well as the cast announcements, we now know the story of Viva Forever! Viva, a young ‘wannabe’ singer puts together a girl band and they enter a TV singing competition. Lauren, Viva’s adoptive mother, who lives on a houseboat, has her doubts about her daughter entering the music industry.  The show follows the girl band through their rise to fame and how they handle the limelight.
The plot came at a bit of a surprise, we had assumed that the musical would be all about the 5 Spice Girls themselves, but we like this different approach of creating the completely new character of Viva.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Rufus Hound to Star in One Man, Two Guvnors – The Tour

The Celebrity Juice, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Nevermind The Buzzcocks star, Rufus Hound is to play the coveted role of Francis Henshall in the UK tour One Man, Two Guvnors. The role, now famously played by Tony Award winner James Corden will be Hound’s second theatre achievement, as he is currently playing in Utopia at the Soho Theatre.
One Man, Two Guvnors is currently played at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Corden’s previous understudy, Owain Arthur playing the lead role, whilst he has been taking the show to Broadway.
Rufus has James to thank for introducing him to the play, as it was Corden who first got tickets for him.  This ultimately sparked his desire for the role. Hound said the day after he auditioned for the part, he got the phone call confirming he would be Francis Henshall on the UK tour!
We wonder what doors this role will open for Rufus, he seems to be well on his way to becoming a stage star!
The tour, which will run from October 2012 – February 2013 will travel to 11 theatres, including Leeds, Glasgow, Norwich and Nottingham.
Thursday, 13 September 2012

Loserville Comes to the West End

Loserville is joining the new London musicals, in the West End! It will soon be coming to the Garrick Theatre, replacing Chicago which is set to close in September.
The writers are James Bourne and Elliot Davis. James Bourne (no, not Jason Bourne!), is best known as a member of the boy band Busted. In an ear of manufactured music, the group wrote all their own songs, an played their own instruments.
After their split, he formed Son of Dork. It is this band’s 2005 album, ‘Welcome to Loserville’ on which the Loserville musical is based. Like The Who’s Tommy, the musical turns a story-telling concept album into a stage show.
Lil Chris Hardman will reprise his role for the West End, but Gareth Gates, who played Eddie, will be replaced by Stewart Clarke for the transfer. Eastenders star, Aaron Sidwell will play the young lead, Michael Dork.

We Will Rock You Arena Tour – 2013!

Next year, the London musical of Queen’s hits, We Will Rock You, will have played for 10 years in the West End. To celebrate, the show will be embarking on a worldwide arena tour.
The We Will Rock You Arena Tour will kick off in Nottingham in March. It will then visit Dublin before doing a European tour of  Finland, Denmark, Holland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Turkey and Bulgaria. It will return to Sheffield at the end of May, and go on to more venues in the UK. The tour will continue in Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, dates will soon be announced.
The UK venues that have been announced so far are as follows:
March 27 – 30: Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, UK
April 4 – 6: O2 Arena, Dublin, Ireland
May 30 – June 2: Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, UK
June 5 – 9: Leeds Arena, Leeds, UK
June 12 – 15: Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland
June 18 – 22: Metro Arena, Newcastle
Rachel Tucker, of I’d Do Anything fame, will be playing the part of Meat. Other casting decisions are yet to be announced.
Tickets to the We Will Rock You Arena Tour will go on sale this Autumn.
Throughout the Arena Tour, the We Will Rock You London Musical will continue to play to audiences at the Dominion Theatre – buy tickets now!