Visit London Blog » Theatre Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:51:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 London Theatre News: The Voice Star Joins Phantom Cast, And Three Big Transfers Mon, 04 Aug 2014 11:54:21 +0000

Billy Elliot The Musical

What a month July was for news of returning theatre stars.

Olivier Award-winning original star of Billy Elliot The Musical, Liam Mower, will pull on his ballet shoes at the Victoria Palace once more when he returns to the show for one night only on 28 September. Liam’s far too grown up to play Young Billy now. Instead he’ll play Older Billy. Why? Well, because on that night Billy Elliot is being screened live to cinemas, so you can see the stage adaptation of the film on the big screen.

Also returning to a show that helped to make her famous is Kerry Ellis, who’ll be greening up once more to play Elphaba in Wicked from 4 August. Ellis’ happy return comes as current Wicked Witch Willemijn Verkaik has had to withdraw from the production to have surgery.

Musical theatre star Liam Tamne, who was a hit on BBC talent show The Voice UK but didn’t quite win it, is coming home to the West End. He’s joining the cast of the show with the most iconic mask in theatre history, The Phantom of the Opera. Tamne fans need not fret, he won’t be covering half his face in the name of entertainment, he’ll be playing Raoul from 1 September.

After the World Cup, we’re in the heart of football’s transfer season, so it’s only fitting we have some transfer news of our own:

It’s going to be a busy September, isn’t it?

This is a Guest Post by Official London Theatre, the premier website for London theatre. With the latest news, fantastic features, comprehensive listings and incredible offers it is your one-stop shop for everything about the theatre capital of the world.

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London Theatre News: Billy Elliot returns to the big screen and Tamsin Greig makes her musical debut Wed, 25 Jun 2014 09:00:56 +0000

Billy Elliot is coming to cinema screens! I know what you’re thinking, I’m a decade or so too late with this news; bear with me. The stage adaptation, Billy Elliot the Musical, will be live screened to cinemas around the world on 28 September. So if you haven’t seen the movie or the stage show, or even if you have, you can now see the theatrical spectacular as though it were a film. Have you followed me?

More musical news for you:

  • Olivier Award winner Tamsin Greig – the star of Episodes and Green Wing – is to make her musical theatre debut this winter, leading the cast of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown when it receives its UK premiere at the Playhouse Theatre.
  • Comedian Steve Furst, who previously appeared in Matilda The Musical, and West End regulars Mark Hadfield, Sophie-Louise Dann and Naomi Frederick will join Gemma Arterton in the musical stage adaptation of Made In Dagenham.
  • More of the West End’s finest – including Rolan Bell, Jason Pennycooke and Claire Machin – are set to join Beverley Knight and Killian Donnelly in Memphis the Musical.

And in news of a musician who’s not actually in a musical, former Boyzone star Keith Duffy will make his West End debut in A Handful Of Stars at the Trafalgar Studio 2 later this month. The play, which was previously a hit at Battersea’s Theatre503, is the story of a man railing against the moral corruption that surrounds him.

Speaking of corruption, both moral and political, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have been so successful in London that the shows’ run at the Aldwych Theatre has extended to 4 October, giving everyone an extra month to see why they have received so much acclaim.

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London Theatre News: Ronan Keating comes to the West End and The Voice star joins Thriller Live cast Wed, 11 Jun 2014 09:00:44 +0000

Pop stars from my formative years are taking to the West End stage in the coming months.

First is former Cleopatra singer Cleo Higgins, who recently caught the eye – and, more tellingly, the ears – in The Voice UK. She’ll be comin’ atcha in the West End production of hit Michael Jackson musical Thriller Live from the end of this month.

Then there’s Ronan Keating, who’s proving life really is a rollercoaster by making his West End debut in Olivier Award-winning musical Once in November. The ex-Boyzone star will play an Irish busker on the brink of quitting music when he meets a young Czech mother who changes his life forever.

While strictly speaking he may not be a pop star, Aled Jones does have a hit single to his name; the Christmas classic Walking In The Air. He’ll be getting festive this winter when he joins former Holby City star Tom Chambers to bring seasonal musical White Christmas to the Dominion Theatre.

Other shows coming to London include:

Michael Flatley’s world conquering dance spectacular Lord Of The Dance is bringing its high-kicking impressiveness to the London Palladium for an autumn run; Olivier Award-winning ballet The Wind In The Willows is hopping back to the West End to play a Christmas season at the Vaudeville; and the Donmar Warehouse’s autumn season will feature an all-female Henry IV and a revival of musical City Of Angels, starring Samantha Barks.

Before all that there’s a summer of excitement kicking off with West End LIVE.

On 21 and 22 July London’s Trafalgar and Leicester Squares will be full of theatre as the free entertainment festival returns. In a packed Trafalgar Square the capital’s most popular musicals will take to a special stage to perform excerpts from their acclaimed shows. To celebrate West End LIVE’s 10th year, a 1920s Spiegeltent will be erected in Leicester Square hosting an incredible exhibition and special Official London Theatre In Conversation With events featuring casts and creatives of hit shows.

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London Theatre News: Kevin Spacey’s successor at the Old Vic is named, and Let It Be plays a London encore Wed, 28 May 2014 09:00:29 +0000 Lordy there’s been some news in the past few weeks, what with Sir Cameron Mackintosh announcing that he’s purchasing and refurbishing the Victoria Palace and Ambassadors Theatres. While it makes the long term futures of Billy Elliot the Musical and Stomp a little uncertain, it has to be good news for the theatres moving forward.

Another earth-mover on the news front is that Matilda the Musical director Matthew Warchus will be the man to succeed Kevin Spacey when the Hollywood star steps down as Old Vic Artistic Director in 2015. Warchus has awards and experience aplenty, so the appointment has been met with nods and approval all round.

But what of the shows?

Well, some old West End favourites are returning. In July, Beatles extravaganza Let It Be is back for a summer season at the Garrick Theatre where, from August, it will be joined by family favourite Horrible Histories Barmy Britain Part Two. So beheadings by day and head wobbling in the evenings.

Also back, a little later in the year, is the Olivier Award nominated Eric And Little Ern, which brings its tale of Morecambe and Wise to the St James Theatre this Christmas. As well as returners, there are a handful of transfers.

Park Theatre hit Daytona, which stars The Simpsons’ and This Is Spinal Tap’s Harry Shearer and British stage and screen star Maureen Lipman, moves to the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 30 June. Written by and co-starring Oliver Cotton, it’s the tale of a couple whose love is clear even after 50 years together. The arrival of a long lost family member brings a new story into their lives.

Almeida hit King Charles III, which imagines a future in which Prince Charles has become king, also transfers into the West End, playing at the Wyndham’s Theatre this autumn, while hit children’s show Hetty Feather makes a move to the Vaudeville Theatre this summer.

More London theatre

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London Theatre News: The Scottsboro Boys gets its revival, and Hollywood stars Ben Foster and Juliette Binoche head for the West End Wed, 14 May 2014 09:00:19 +0000

Since it closed at the Young Vic there have been rumours about The Scottsboro Boys transferring to a West End theatre. Brilliantly, these rumours have now been confirmed. From October, theatregoers at the Garrick Theatre can see exactly why critics and audience members in Waterloo were so excited about Kander and Ebb’s musical tale inspired by real events of the 1930s when nine young black men were falsely accused of rape.

The Olivier Award nominated show will open too late to join the productions taking part in West End LIVE, the free festival of all London’s theatre district has to offer. The annual event, held in Trafalgar Square, has announced it is happening on 21 and 22 June, and that Billy Elliot The Musical, The Bodyguard, Jersey Boys, Stomp and Wicked are already lined up to perform. More shows are set to be announced shortly.

Away from musicals, there have been a raft of exciting casting announcements.

Jane Horrocks – of Absolutely Fabulous and The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice – is returning to the West End as part of the eagerly awaited second Trafalgar Transformed season at the Trafalgar Studios. She’ll play the torn wife of George Khan in the revival of hit play East is East. The tale of a Pakistani chip shop owner trying to give his children a Muslim upbringing in 1970s Salford opens at the Trafalgar Studio 1 in October.

Before that another brilliant British actress, Gina McKee – of Notting Hill and Our Friends In The North – joins The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman in the first show of the season, Shakespeare’s Richard III, from 1 July.

Then there’s Great Expectations’ Vanessa Kirby and X-Men: The Last Stand’s Ben Foster joining Gillian Anderson in the Young Vic’s A Streetcar Named Desire from 23 July, Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche starring in Antigone at the Barbican in 2015 and Neil Morrissey of Men Behaving Badly – and Bob the Builder – replacing Rory Bremner in Relative Values from 26 May.

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London Theatre News: Richard Armitage, Fathers And Sons, Shakespeare In Love and Matilda Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:00:26 +0000

You can never have enough hobbits, dwarves or dragons on the London stage. That’s what I’ve always said. We’ve already heard that The Hobbit’s Bilbo Baggins, Martin Freeman, is coming to London to play Richard III, and that Benedict Cumberbatch,

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who voices Smaug in the big screen Tolkien adaptation, will play Hamlet in 2015. Now it’s the turn of former Spooks and Robin Hood star Richard Armitage, who shrinks to play dwarf Thorin Oakenshield in the Middle Earth-set movies, to join the fantasy stage invasion.

Armitage is heading to the Old Vic in June to play John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s classic tale of duplicity, maliciousness, tension and suspicion The Crucible. The play about the Salem witch trials will be the third production at the iconic theatre this year to play in-the-round.

In more casting news, Seth Numrich, who won the 2013 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer, and Caoilfhionn Dunne, who he pipped to that award, will both appear in Brian Friel’s Fathers And Sons at the Donmar Warehouse from June.

And we’ve found out who will be following in the Royal footsteps of queen of the West End, Dame Judi Dench, by playing Queen Elizabeth I in the stage adaptation of Shakespeare In Love. That honour falls to London stage regular Anna Carteret, who’s joined in the cast by The Borgias’ David Oakes and former Olivier Award nominee Paul Chahidi.

The romantic comedy follows the Bard, whose 450th birthday was celebrated last week, as he looks to beat a bout of writer’s block by finding a muse in the form of a noblewoman. Their taboo love affair draws together a wealth of characters and inspires the creation of a little play entitled Romeo And Juliet.

One more thing. Matilda The Musical, one of the most popular shows currently playing in London, has extended its run into 2015. That’s a lot more naughtiness for us all to enjoy.

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Olivier Awards 2014: Almeida Theatre the big winner on the night Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:51:16 +0000

The Royal Opera House hosted the 2014 Olivier Awards with Mastercard last night, where the cream of British theatre were saluted in a star-studded ceremony.

The show was opened by the company from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before hosts Stephen Mangan and Gemma Arterton, who is due to star in Made in Dagenham at The Adelphi Theatre in October, got things underway. The first award was presented by the ever-cool James McAvoy and went to Ghosts for Best Revival at the Almeida Theatre.

The Almeida itself made plenty of headlines, beating off the bigger West End theatres with plays Ghosts and Chimerica scooping eight awards between them, including the American Airlines Best New Play award for Lucy Kirkwood’s political epic Chimerica.

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will be thrilled today, as their musical The Book of Mormon took away four awards, including Mastercard Best New Musical. Book of Mormon is one of the big winners that you can still catch on the West End stage, as its current run at the Prince of Wales Theatre doesn’t end until 3 May.

Other winners that can still be seen include Best New Comedy winner Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, which has recently swapped leading man and last night’s host, Stephen Mangan for Robert Webb. You can also catch the Best Actress in a Musical Zrinka Cvitešic in Once at the Phoenix Theatre.

The prestigious BBC Radio 2 Audience Award went to Les Miserables for the second time, which of course can still be booked at The Queen’s Theatre.

The National Theatre continues to get the best out

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of its actors, with Rory Kinnear winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Iago in Othello and Sharon D Clarke named Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Amen Corner.

The show was rounded off in style by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus reuniting to celebrate 15 years of Mamma Mia!, in one of 14 live performances on the night.

See the highlight reel above for a quick look at the red carpet, including the dashing Tom Hiddleston, Kristin Davis of Sex and the City fame, host Gemma Arterton in a full-length pale blue Prada gown and even ballet stars Let Marianela and Thiago from our London Story competition.

Full highlights of the ceremony can be seen on ITV Player for the next 29 days.

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London Theatre News: Benedict Cumberbatch, National Theatre and Old Vic seasons, Alexandra Burke, Thriller Live, The Commitments, Olivier Awards Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:15:43 +0000

There’ve been rumblings about it for months, but we finally know for sure that Sherlock and The Hobbit star Benedict Cumberbatch will get all Shakespearean and give London his Hamlet. The production, which already looks to be one of 2015’s highlights, will play at the Barbican.

I know we’re barely three months into 2014 and already we’re looking forward to next year, but Cumberbatch fans aren’t the only people getting excited about 2015.

The National Theatre has looked that far ahead and announced a season including new plays by David Hare, Tom Stoppard and Richard Bean alongside an adaptation of Treasure Island and Helen McCrory starring in Medea.

Hit musicals Thriller Live and The Commitments have also cast their eyes that way and announced extensions to their popular runs taking them into 2015.

Kevin Spacey’s not thinking quite that far in advance. The Artistic Director of the Old Vic has only announced plans until the end of 2014. He’ll be taking to the stage in May to play ground-breaking lawyer Clarence Darrow in a one-man show, followed by a modern take on The Crucible and Kristin Scott Thomas starring in Greek tragedy Electra.

At the Adelphi Theatre, one British music mega star will replace another as X Factor winner Alexandra Burke takes over from soul sensation Beverley Knight as The Bodyguard’s Rachel Marron from 2 June. By all accounts Knight has made a big impression since making her stage debut in the Whitney Houston musical; let’s hope Burke can do the same.

Just one more thing, if you’re wondering what to do on the evening of 13 April, the answer is watch the Olivier Awards with MasterCard. The show’s fantastic performances have been announced and include all the nominated Best New Musical and Audience Award shows, Broadway star Bernadette Peters and ABBA’s Benny and Björn joining the cast of Mamma Mia! to celebrate the show’s 15th birthday. Tune in to ITV from 22:15 to see all the best bits.

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Spotlight On: Wandsworth Tue, 25 Mar 2014 10:44:16 +0000 The London Borough of Wandsworth in South London extends southwards from the River Thames. Geopgraphically, it includes the towns of Clapham, Balham, Tooting, Wandsworth, Putney, Battersea and Earlsfield. It is also one of the most lush boroughs in London, boasting 670 hectares (1,700 acres) of green space.

The famous towers of Battersea Power Station stand at the water’s edge of the river. The iconic structure is currently under redevelopment with lots of exciting prospects planned to emerge, so watch this space (and the video above). Meanwhile, here are five more things to do when exploring Wandsworth.
Battersea Park Pagoda
Battersea Park and the Thames Path
Situated on the banks of the river Thames, the 200-acre Battersea Park has a variety of activities on offer. Families are entertained at the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo and the children’s playground. Cyclists, runners, and skaters utilise the circular road around the park and as well as the sports fields, tennis courts and athletics stadium. For a slower pace of London life, check out the Buddhist Peace Pagoda, water fountains, and Pump House art gallery. The park is connected to the Thames Path which is well worth following for as long as your legs can handle.
Tooting Lido
Tooting Bec Lido
At 91.5 metres in length, Tooting Bec Lido is England’s biggest fresh water, open air swimming pool. The multi-coloured changing cubicles offer a glimpse into what leisure time was like for London’s ancestors. The pool is open for public use from late May until the end of September. There is a children’s paddling pool and a café onsite making it a great day out for families.
Chez Bruce
Chez Bruce
There are many beer garden pubs, cocktail bars, and Indian curry houses in Wandsworth. However, Chez Bruce takes the top spot in Wandsworth’s eating and drinking guide because it’s one of the best restaurants in the UK. The casual, Michelin-starred French restaurant can be found just across the road from Wandsworth Common, one of London’s many green spaces. Prices are of Michelin standard too, so if you’re on a budget, maybe opt for a lunchtime booking and only order a glass of wine.
The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
The beginning of the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race takes place on the river Thames at Putney on Sunday 6 April 2014. As this is one of the world’s oldest and closely contested rowing races, the atmosphere is excitable, to say the least. It’s therefore worth arriving well in advance of the actual start of the race in order to get a good spot either on Putney Bridge or along the Thames Path on Putney Embankment. The Dukes Head pub is a good places to station yourself for the action.

Battersea Arts Centre
Wandsworth’s beating heart of culture can be found at the Battersea Arts Centre in Clapham Junction. The diverse range of events taking place at the “BAC” include cabaret, poetry, interactive theatre, spoken word, comedy, workshops, talks, classes and debates. The space is seen as a place to nurture new, unfinished theatrical and musical works. This means that whatever performance you see, it will be creative and probably unconventional. There’s also a cool bar and café onsite which makes for an interesting place to simply hang out and soak up the atmosphere.

Images courtesy of Flickr users Ndecam, Bod, Rolyatam, Nevalenx and squeezeomatic.

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London Theatre News: Olivier Awards, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 1984, The Full Monty, We Will Rock You, RSC, Tom Conti and Ralph Fiennes. Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:00:01 +0000

Did your favourite get the nod when the nominations for the Olivier Awards 2014 with MasterCard were announced? Tom Hiddleston and Jude Law both made the all-important list. So did Hayley Atwell and Judi Dench.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is on it too (in a big way – it received seven nominations). The Roald Dahl adaptation celebrated by announcing that Josefina Gabrielle would join its cast. She’s nominated for an Olivier too, for her work on Merrily We Roll Along, the only show to match Charlie’s seven nominations.

The hit production of George Orwell’s dystopian tale 1984 currently playing at the Almeida Theatre also picked up a nomination for Best New Play. Happily it has announced a West End transfer, so even more of us can see what caught the Olivier judges’ eyes.

Also among the nominees was the stage adaptation of The Full Monty, nominated for Best New Comedy. Sadly if you want to see the acclaimed production you’ll have to be swift as despite the award recognition producers have decided to close the show early, on 29 March.

West End long-runner We Will Rock You, itself a previous Olivier Award winner, is also bringing its London run to a close. It will say “Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go” for the final time on 31 May.

In happier news of London stage arrivals:

  • The Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies will transfer to the Aldwych Theatre from 1 May,
  • Tom Conti will replace Martin Shaw in the cast of Twelve Angry Men from 31 March, with the show extending until 14 June,
  • And Ralph Fiennes, currently impressing cinemagoers in The Grand Budapest Hotel, will return to the National Theatre next year to star in George Bernard Shaw’s Man And Superman.
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