Visit London Blog » matilda Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:26:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thursday Theatre News: Record-Breaking Matilda, A Chorus Line, and Show Extensions Thu, 13 Sep 2012 16:30:08 +0000 Firstly (and fittingly for Roald Dahl Day) congratulations to Matilda the Musical for making it into the Guinness Book of Records! The hit musical won the awards for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Director, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Set Design and Best Sound Design at the Olivier Awards last year, stealing the record Nicholas Nickleby (1980), which had retained the title for Most Olivier Award Wins for more than 20 years.

Second, there’s a new musical on the horizon. A Chorus Line opens at the London Palladium next year: the first London revival of the show ever. Featuring the iconic songs One (Singular Sensations), What I Did For Love, I Can Do That and Hope I Get It, the Olivier Award-winning musical is the story of 17 dancers auditioning for a Broadway show. It’ll play a limited season from 2 February (press night 19 February) to 29 June.

London Cast News

  • Janie Dee will lead the cast of NSFW at the Royal Court, Lucy Kirkwood’s debut play opening in late October
  • Tricycle season regular Simon Chandler and Charlotte Lucas (last seen in Posh) are among the cast joining Adrian Lester in Red Velvet at the Tricycle theatre
  • West End star Oliver Tompsett is swapping one rocking West End musical for another as he’s leaving Rock Of Ages to join We Will Rock You in October
  • Conleth Hill, Will Keen, Felicity Montagu and Malcolm Sinclair will join the previously announced Rowan Atkinson in Quartermaine’s Terms at Wyndham’s Theatre
  • Damian Humbley, Jenna Russell and Mark Umbers return to the Menier Chocolate Factory this winter to star in Maria Friedman’s forthcoming production of Merrily We Roll Along

London Shows Extending

  • Chariots of Fire has extended its West End run at the Gielgud Theatre until 2 February 2013
  • Top Hat has extended its booking period at the Aldwych Theatre until 28 September 2013
  • Matilda is now booking at the Cambridge theatre until 22 December 2013
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Our Best Bits: The VL Team’s London Highlights of 2011 Fri, 30 Dec 2011 11:50:01 +0000

Madelene Yeshin
All my theatre highlights took place at The National, from Danny Boyle’s mind-blowing production of Frankenstein, to the hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors and finally to the beautiful, romantic and funny play by Daniel Kitson -It’s Alright Now, until Later. On the food front, I had an incredible dining experience at Heston’s Dinner in Knightsbridge, and dicovered a new favourite Oxford Street eatery at Riding House Café - perfect for escaping the shopping crowds. Finally, my most bizarre experience of the year was rowing across the roof of Selfridges on an emerald lake courtesy of Bombas and Parr.

Lettice Kemp
My 2011 highlights included following the craft trail at the Thames Festival, seeing Milton Jones’ stand-up show, being utterly terrified by Daleks at the Doctor Who Experience, visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition, watching Arthur “Rory” Darvill in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe and attending Knit Nation for the first time. Tapping into the trend for shocking Christmas jumpers, I took a one-day knitting class at Loop and mastered Fair Isle knitting. I also took a silver clay class at the London Jewellery School and a lampshade making class at The Make Lounge, both of which I heartily recommend. Best of all was South Pacific at the Barbican: just beautiful and dreamy.

Aly Garvey
There were some gorgeous exhibitions in London this year including the Glamour of the Gods at the National Portrait Gallery which I loved. Degas and the Ballet at the Royal Academy of Arts was fantastic too. I enjoyed dinner at two of London’s most well-known restaurants, the OXO Tower and the Rib Room which have both had refurbishments this year and reopened looking better than ever with food and drinks to match.

Hannah Collingbourne
After seeing Shrek The Musical, my friend declared, “That’s the best thing that’s happened to me all week!”. I have to agree; in fact it was one of my top events for the whole year. Audience members of all ages left the theatre with a smile on their face. If you need cheering up in the dark winter months after Christmas, I’d recommend a visit to Shrek.

Lisa Williams
Walking along the Southbank with all the beach huts, beach and drinking Pimms on the roof top garden bar during the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Britain was fantastic. I was also lucky enough to go to The O2 to watch the ATP Tennis semi-final matches, which was truly inspiring. Next would be my preview trip of the Harry Potter tour which is opening in March – I just couldn’t believe how much detail had gone into making the sets! Finally, my trip on the Orient Express: being treated like royalty, drinking champagne and eating divine food while pottering around in a beautiful train… what a year!

Jenny Owen
From the swashbuckling Pirates exhibition, to the beautiful and delicate paintings of Degas, it’s been a great year for soaking up some culture in London. I spent hours at the Mirá½¹ exhibiton at Tate Modern, and now we have the Dickens exhibition, which I think really deserves all the hype. Other stand-out moments included visiting The Ritz (every bit as decadent as I’d imagined); touring the Tower of London by night and visiting beautiful Lancaster House during a rare public opening.

Lianne Kolirin
Matilda was unquestionably the highlight of my year in London. The kids loved it too, but you don’t need a little one in tow to appreciate this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic. I also enjoyed visiting World Travel Market over the autumn. Practically every country around the world occupies a tiny corner of the enormous ExCel exhibition centre. It’s so huge; you could spend a whole week taking in the atmosphere. Earlier in the year, I saw John Bishop compere a comedy benefit in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. So many great acts, so many laughs. Best of the bunch was Seann Walsh, who is definitely a face to look out for in 2012.

Tom Butler
Skylight at Commonwealth Institute2011 has been a great year for discovering new spaces in London, from inside the former Commonwealth Institute as part of Open House London, to the Eden Project-designed Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden & Bar for the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. I’m glad this beautiful, grassy rooftop will be back in 2012. Other highlights included a Q&A with author Kazuo Ishiguro at a screening of Never Let Me Go in February (the venue, the Ritzy in Brixton, had an incredible year of events celebrating its 100th birthday), and Hackney Wicked in July. Finally, the best single moments were the decision to award the 2017 World Athletics Championships to London, and the discovery of (possibly) London’s best burritos at Picante Mexican Grillin Victoria – both are a fantastic result for the city.

Zoe Craig
There have been some great shows in London this year. Highlights for me included the brilliantly acted plays Clybourne Park, Frankenstein and The Westbridge; and classy musicals Crazy For You, Matilda and Betty Blue Eyes. Best of the lot was One Man, Two Guvnors – a wonderful script, a fantastic cast, and whole lot of fun. I also loved seeing the new Penguin Beach at London Zoo earlier in the summer.

What were your highlights of 2011? Let us know in the comments below…

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Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre Fri, 25 Nov 2011 16:05:44 +0000

Christmas is not Christmas without a family trip to the theatre. And this year there’s only one show in town.  Well… that’s not strictly true, but you catch my drift. It’s hard not to gush about Matilda The Musical, which has just opened at the Cambridge Theatre and will hopefully become a permanent fixture in London’s West End.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has dusted down Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s classic and given it an all-singing, all-dancing makeover.

The play opens with a chorus of children boasting that “My mummy says I’m a miracle”. A million miles from those proud parents is ballroom dancer Mrs Wormwood, who, to her dismay, has just discovered she is pregnant – and nine months gone at that.

Her husband, a brash wheeler dealer (played by comedian Paul Kaye), is rather more upbeat about Matilda’s arrival, until he discovers she’s a girl. The uncouth pair adopt a peculiar style of parenting; ignoring and teasing their daughter in equal measure.

But despite their best efforts to get her to stop reading and watch more telly, Matilda turns out to be a bookworm extraordinaire. The little girl, played by one of four very talented young actresses, seeks solace in a kindly librarian and her sensitive teacher, Miss Honey. There is no doubt that Matilda (ours was played by 11-year-old Cleo Demetriou) is the star of the show. Her powerful voice and fine acting suggest a lengthy career lies ahead.

That said, it is the humour that makes this such a success and that is thanks to writer Dennis Kelly and musical comedian Tim Minchin, who wrote the score and lyrics for the play.  There’s a laugh a minute when Matilda’s crude, uncaring parents are on stage, but it is actor Bertie Carvel who steals the show as the evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.

Carvel’s hilarious depiction of the one-time Olympic hammer thrower is comedy genius. With her high-pitched voice and uber-padded outfits, Miss Trunchbull is like an extreme kickass pantomime dame. Though a little fearsome at first, she soon becomes the villain we love to hate, which explains why Carvel recently won the award for Best Performance in a Musical at the 2011 Theatre Awards UK.

I’m not sure who loved Matilda more – me or my kids. There were a few loud bangs and a couple of split-second scary moments, but otherwise their little faces were plastered with huge grins throughout. Whether or not you have children, Matilda is a wonderful show with catchy tunes and a brilliant script so be sure to catch it while you can.

Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre until 12 February 2012. Book tickets

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Thursday Theatre News: Mamma Mia, Noel Coward, Young Vic, Billy Elliot & Simon Callow Thu, 20 Oct 2011 17:00:18 +0000 Firstly, news of an early closure. Cool Hand Luke was booking until 7 January, but it’s now closing on 19 November: bad luck guys…

On a more positive note, after 12 years, long-running musical Mamma Mia! is moving. I’ve yet to confirm the exact dates, but the hit ABBA show is moving from the Prince of Wales theatre to the Novello on Aldwych, following the excellent Crazy For You. More details when I have them!

The Young Vic has announced a new show: theatre company Sound&Fury are bringing Going Dark to the venue next March. It’s going to be an immersive show with interesting lighting, projections and sound, about a narrator in a planetarium.

Finally, the Evening Standard Theatre Awards longlist has been announced. Congratulations to the National Theatre, Matilda The Musical, Shakespeare’s Globe, Crazy for You and more who’ve all been nominated. I wouldn’t like to be the judge choosing between Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, James Corden, Ralph Fiennes, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law for the Best Actor category…

This Week’s London Cast News:

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Thursday Theatre News: Matilda, The Globe, Idina Menzel, Anthony Sher and Lauren Samuels Thu, 29 Sep 2011 17:30:31 +0000 If you’re excited about catching up with Glee tonight, you might also want to look into securing tickets to see Idina Menzel at the Royal Albert Hall next month. Idina, who plays Rachel Barry’s mum, is performing a one-off show accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 6 October.

Do you have tickets for Matilda previews? Then you may be contacted by the RSC to rearrange your dates: the first five previews have been cancelled, and opening night has been rescheduled for 24 November. Executive Producer Andre Ptaszynski explains the delay:

“Matilda has a cast made up of three different teams of young actors and four young actresses in the title role. This means that, unlike other shows, we cannot extend everyone’s working hours, take shortcuts and reduce the number of dress rehearsals to meet the date of the first preview.”

The other big news this week comes from Shakespeare’s Globe. I was lucky enough to head down there this week to find out all about their incredible Globe to Globe season. Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole was as inspiring as ever with his tales of far-off places desperate to perform at what’s become the world’s “temple to Shakespeare”. There’s not enough space to tell you about all of it here, but check out their incredible website to whet your appetites. Tickets go on general sale on 17 October. See you there!

This Week’s Cast News:

  • American actor Kyle Soller is joining David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf in Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Apollo Theatre from April next year
  • Lauren Samuels who you’ll recognise as one of the Over The Rainbow runners-up and more recently as Sandy in Grease, is transferring to the cast of We Will Rock You from 10 October, alongside Alasdair Harvey and Wayne Robinson
  • Tom Bateman, Sonya Cassidyke, Rory Fleck-Byrne and James Norton are all joining the cast of The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Previously announced stars include Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley.
  • Olivier Award-winner Antony Sher will star in two National Theatre productions next year: Travelling Light by Nicholas Wright and The Captain of Köpenick by Carl Zuckmayer.
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Thursday Theatre News: Matilda, Miranda Raison, Paul Daniels and Romola Garai Thu, 19 May 2011 17:00:08 +0000

Firstly: we knew it was coming… we just didn’t know when! But now, it’s finally been announced: the London transfer of the hit musical Matilda is coming to the Cambridge Theatre on 22 November (previews from 18 October).

That means the record-breaking Chicago (14 years and counting!) will be booted out of the venue, but I’ve got every confidence they’ll find another home for their fishnets and jazz-hands soon.

Matilda, meanwhile, will retain much of its cast from the award-winning Stratford run, including London stage regular Bertie Carvel as child-hating headmistress Miss Trunchbull, and Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as Matilda’s parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood. Tickets go on sale this weekend for performances up until 12 February – get booking now!

I’ve got great casting news for you this week: so many great names are stepping up to put on a show in London, it’s a really exciting time.

  • Miranda Raison is returning to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in July. She’ll play the lead in Anne Boleyn a new play by Howard Brenton  which sold out last year. (I saw the show, and thoroughly recommend it.)
  • EastEnder Phil Daniels is joining the cast of The Beggar’s Opera at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. If you’re not a soap fan, you might know Daniels from the film Quadrophenia, TV series Holding On and Rock & Chips, and as the famous voice in Blur’s 1994 hit Parklife.
  • Romola Garai, who’s been all over our TV screens in period adaptations recently (Emma, The Crimson Petal and The White) is to appear at the Royal Court this summer. She’ll star alongside Alexandra Gilbreath and Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley to you and me) in The Village Bike, a darkly comic, provocative new play by Penelope Skinner.
  • It’s a case of “Here I Go Again” for West End regular, Sally Ann Triplett. She’s heading back to Mamma Mia! after a two-year absence to play leading lady Donna Sheridan.
  • Finally, star of stage and screen Michael Feast is joining the cast of Pygmalion on Monday, replacing Simon Ward, who’s contracted a viral infection. Feast joins Rupert Everett, Kara Tointon and Diana Rigg in the hotly-anticipated new production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic.

Let us know in the comments what you’ve seen and enjoyed in London’s theatres this week…

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