Visit London Blog » musicals Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:40:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 10 Fun Facts About The Phantom of the Opera Fri, 22 Nov 2013 15:25:15 +0000 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera is one of London’s longest running musicals, reigning at Her Majesty’s Theatre for a whopping 27 years. Geronimo Rauch recently joined the cast as the new Phantom, the disfigured composer who terrorises the Paris Opera in an attempt to make his protégé a leading lady. Fresh from his success as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Rauch is an Argentinian singer and actor. To celebrate the casting of the new Phantom, we’ve compiled a list of 10 fun facts about the famous musical.

1. The Phantom of the Opera has been played to more than 130 million people in 30 countries in 151 cities around the world with an estimated gross of $5.6 billion worldwide. The box office revenues are higher than any film or stage play in history, including Titanic, ET, Star Wars and Avatar

2. The musical has played for more than 26 years with over 11,250 performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre

3. The show has been performed in 13 different languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Danish, Polish, Swedish, Castilian, Hungarian, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, Mexican Spanish

4. Won 70 major theatre awards including three Olivier Awards, an Evening Standard Award, seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, seven Drama Desk Awards and five Outer Critic Circle Awards

5. Original cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one.  Album sales now exceed 40 million worldwide.

6. The dazzling replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier is made up of 6,000 beads consisting of 35 beads to each string.  It is three metres wide and weighs one ton.  The touring version falls at 2.5 metres per second.  The original version was built by five people in four weeks.

7. The Phantom’s make-up takes two hours to put on and 30 minutes to take off.  The actor’s face is moisturised, closely shaved and the prosthetics are fitted, setting immediately, before two wigs, two radio microphones and two contact lenses (one white and one clouded) are placed.

8. 2,230 metres of fabric are used for the drapes, 900 of which are specially dyed.  The tasselled fringes measure 226 metres.  They are made up of 250 kilos of dyed wool interwoven with 5,000 wooden beads imported from India.  Each one is handmade and combed through with an Afro comb.

9. There are 130 cast, crew and orchestra members directly involved in each performance

10. Each performance has 230 costumes, 14 dressers, 120 automated cues and 22 scene changes. To create atmosphere, 281 candles, 250 kg of dry ice, and 10 fog and smoke machines are used.

Find ticket prices for The Phantom of the Opera here


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Interview with Jonathan Andrew Hume from The Lion King Wed, 29 May 2013 10:00:02 +0000 Jonathan Andrew HumeJonathan Andrew Hume is currently playing Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. He returns to London having played the role in the Singaporean production. Hume also played Judas in the 2004 Jesus Christ Superstar tour as well as making television appearances in Hope & Glory and Eastenders. Here he talks about his experience of playing the iconic role, and the effect The Lion King story has had on him…

Why do you think The Lion King has been such a long running success?
The Lion King is a spectacular show. There are so many layers to it and at the heart of it is a timeless story that resonates with everyone.

How did you react to being asked to play such an iconic role as Simba?
Ever since I first saw The Lion King, I fell in love with it. I used to watch the video with my brother so many times that we could recite the words along with the characters! Simba’s journey is really inspirational. When I was offered the role, it felt as if I’d been told to play a childhood hero!

You’ve done some TV work – do you prefer the stage?
Yes, most definitely. On the stage, there’s no opportunity to stop and start over again like with television or film. I love the challenge of reproducing the story every day, but still keeping it fresh for those coming to see it for the first time.

How old were you when Disney’s Lion King film came out? Did the story have a profound effect on you?
I was 11 years old when the film was released. If I think about what the story means to me, I’m reminded of Simba’s progression and growth that leads him to succeed. By learning from our mistakes, we can develop and succeed in our lives.

Jonathan Andrew Hume in The Lion KingHave you ever had any wardrobe malfunctions on stage?
As part of my costume, I wear a beautiful hand-beaded corset. Unfortunately, some of the beads occasionally fall off with all the dancing. Even after the costumes are created, there’s still a lot of hard work that goes into maintaining them.

You were Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – how does it feel going from villain to hero?
It’s always fun playing the bad guy! There’s something appealing about acting in a way completely unlike yourself. But playing the good guy is just as fun. Being able to save the day and get the girl eight times a week is a good feeling!

Why should theatre-goers see The Lion King? And after that why should they see it again?
The Lion King is a musical for kids and adults, theatre-lovers and first-timers. The show is so rich with detail that it’s impossible to take it all in the first time. The beautiful puppetry and costumes, the vivid make-up and lighting, the enormous staging, the evocative music and choreography all combine to create this wonderful musical. Who wouldn’t want to see it again?!

The Lion King is currently playing at the Lyceum Theatre. Book tickets to see the show here.


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Interview with John Partridge from A Chorus Line Wed, 01 May 2013 10:00:26 +0000 johnpartridgeJohn Partridge plays Zach in A Chorus Line currently playing at the London Palladium. John is best known for playing the role of Christian Clarke in EastEnders (BBC) for the past five years. In 2010, he was part of the panel on Over the Rainbow (BBC). He has worked extensively as a singer and dancer in musical theatre, playing Rum Tum Tugger in the official film production
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of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

What does A Chorus Line mean to you?
It’s an iconic musical and being involved in it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A Chorus Line is the forefather of reality TV shows, such as X Factor, and is therefore particularly relevant today.

What’s your favourite song from A Chorus Line?
“Dance Ten, Looks Three” for obvious reasons!

When was the first time you saw A Chorus Line and how many times have you seen it?
I’d never seen the stage show, but I did see the movie while I was training myself.

Do you think A Chorus Line is the ultimate dancer’s musical?
I don’t think A Chorus Line is the ultimate dancer’s musical; I think it’s the ultimate performer’s musical.

A Chorus Line at the London Palladium

Why do you think A Chorus Line has been so successful?
I think it’s successful because it deals with real emotions and real-life stories. It isn’t a fairy tale or a fantasy, it offers a glimpse into the lives of performers striving to achieve their dreams. It’s inspirational.

What does performing at the London Palladium mean to you?
It’s legendary! Icons and idols have walked through the corridors, sat in the dressing rooms, laughed, cried, and sweated on that stage. It has an energy all of its own.

What do you bring to the role of Zach?
I bring my own experience to the role. I’m not so old that I can’t remember what it was like to be young, eager and excited by all the possibilities that lay before me. But I’m also old enough to know what it feels like to have a fresh batch of kids right behind you snapping at your heels. I know what it feels like to be rejected, to have your whole self worth wrapped up in a “Yes” or a “No”.

John Partridge in A Chorus Line

What part of a musical do you enjoy most; the dancing, acting, or singing?
I enjoy all of them equally.

Any lucky charms or rituals before you go on stage?
No, I am not superstitious. Preparation is King.

How important are your fans to you?
My fans are extremely important to me as they root for you, encourage you and support you – a little like family.

A Chorus Line is currently playing at the London Palladium. You can book tickets to see A Chorus Line here. You can follow A Chorus Line and John Partridge on twitter: @AChorusLineLDN and @mustbejp

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Five New West End Musicals to Look Forward To in 2013 Wed, 26 Dec 2012 11:00:42 +0000 This year has been an exciting one for top West End musicals. From Top Hat to Kiss Me, Kate, with the brilliant Sweeney Todd, and The Bodyguard, not to mention Viva Forever, there have been some fantastic musicals on offer.

Here are just some of the great shows we have to look forward to next year:

A Chorus Line1. A Chorus Line, London Palladium from 2 Feb
Back in the West End for the first time since the 70s, the award-winning A Chorus Line comes to London’s Palladium in February, starring John Partridge and Scarlett Strallen as Zach and Cassie, with Leigh Zimmerman playing Sheila and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt playing Diana. Altogether now: “One… singular sensation, every little step she takes…”

2. The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre from 26 Feb
Another multi-award winning show, The Book of Mormon is the first of two Broadway imports to hit the West End in 2013. This first will make its UK premiere at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it’s the story of two teenage Mormon missionaries trying to convert a Ugandan village. As it contains explicit language, this is a show for over 18s only: time will tell whether UK audiences love it as much as their US counterparts.

3. Once, Phoenix Theatre from 16 Mar
This year’s Tony Award for Best New Musical went to Once; and from March we can see it on our side of the pond at the Phoenix Theatre. Based on the 2006 Irish musical film of the same name, Once features an ensemble cast of actor/musicians and tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant and their shared love of music.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 18 May
Hot on the heels of Matilda comes a new Roald Dahl-based musical. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features a host of musical stars including music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, a book by the award-winning playwright David Greig and choreography by Peter Darling, the chap behind both Billy Elliot and Matilda. It’s directed by Skyfall director Sam Mendes, and stars Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka, and plays at the wonderful Theatre Royal Drury Lane from May. Sounds like a perfect recipe for success…

5. The Sound of Music, Open Air Theatre from 25 Jul
Finally for musicals in 2013, I’m really excited about a new production of The Sound of Music at the Open Air Theatre. Opening in July, this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is sure to be a real treat: the past few musicals from the Open Air Theatre have been amazing, including three winners of the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.

If you prefer your shows without all that lovely singing and dancing, check out my tips for the top London plays coming in 2013.

What musicals are you looking forward to seeing in 2013? Let us know in the comments below.

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Your Views: The New Cast of Ghost The Musical Thu, 08 Mar 2012 11:39:10 +0000

Ghost The Musical has been romancing audiences in London since summer 2011. In January, the musical had a major cast change with Mark Evans and Siobhan Dillon taking over from Richard Fleeshman and Cassie Levy in the lead roles. We asked what you thought of Ghost with its new cast members:

“Siobhan Dillon and Mark Evans were very impressive as relatively new cast members in the stage adaptation of Ghost at the Piccadilly Theatre. I thought this might detract from my enjoyment of the show (having seen it previously with original cast) but was actually pleasantly surprised to find that, if anything, I was more impressed the second time round.

“The actors comfortably delivered their lines, with highly comical scenes, a great score, impeccable timing from Sharon D Clarke and overwhelming special effects. Ghost is still one of my top five West End musicals.”
Lucy Hillyard

“I thought it was amazing and it totally exceeded my expectations.  The special effects were awesome. It’s the sort of play you could see again and again as there is just so much to it. The staging was some of the best I have ever seen in the West End.” 
Alison Couper 

“Thoroughly enjoyed Ghost, wonderful cast and the sound effects were fabulous.”
Josephine Somers

“I thought the special effects were amazing and very well thought out.  The lead characters were great, very good singers too!  For me the lady that played Oda Mae Brown stole the show.”
Bernice Windley

“Thought it was very good – a few tears as well!. The special effects exceeded my expectations.”
Sarah Bagg

Have you seen Ghost The Musical? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below.

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Video: London Theatre Highlights for 2012 Tue, 07 Feb 2012 14:00:11 +0000

We love this video from the Society of London Theatre: it gives a great taste of all the incredible shows you can catch on stage in London this year.

Go to the Theatre section on our main site to find out more.

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Six New West End Musicals to Look Forward to in 2012 Thu, 29 Dec 2011 14:00:43 +0000

It’s been an interesting year for West End musicals. 2011 has seen huge success stories like Matilda and Crazy For You transfer to the West End, as well as The Wizard of Oz, Shrek and Ghost The Musical.

How can 2012 top that? Well, if the rumours are true, we could be in for some pretty exciting new musicals for the Olympic year. There are whispers of Bridget Jones’ Diary The Musical (with the ever-brilliant Sheridan Smith as the lead); murmurs of Viva Forever The Musical (Spice Girls songs and Jennifer Saunders writing – what more could you want?!); hints about a musical version of The Bodyguard, complete with Whitney Houston’s songs; and suggestions of a Wind In The Willows musical too…

While I love rumours as much as the next person, my tips for 2012 are all based on facts. These shows are definitely coming, and you should be getting excited about them!

1. Master Class, Vaudeville Theatre, from 21 Jan
Tyne Daly has already wowed Broadway audiences with her performance as Maria Callas in Master Class. Next month, she’s heading to London to do the same. I can’t wait.

2. Singin’ In the Rain, Palace Theatre, from 4 Feb
One of my favourite films of all time, it’ll be great to see Singin’ In The Rain on the London stage in February. Particularly with star dancer Adam Cooper in the lead role, and Scarlett Strallen as Kathy.

3. Sweeney Todd, Adelphi Theatre, from 10 Mar
I’m thrilled that Michael Ball is heading back to the West End. He’s such a fantastic singer, and an all-round musical superstar. Sweeney Todd has already had rave reviews from Chichester; I’m so excited about seeing this show when it comes to London in the spring

4. Top Hat, Aldwych Theatre, from 19 Apr
I was a big fan of Tom Chambers when he was on Strictly Come Dancing, so I can’t wait to see him in Top Hat in the West End. My parents have already seen this show on tour, and promise that we’re in for a real treat when it comes to the Aldwych next year. And there’s another one of those Strallen sisters to look out for! (Summer, this time.)

5. Wah! Wah! Girls, Peacock Theatre, from 24 May
Just while you were thinking that all I was going to recommend for 2012 were revivals and transfers, I give you a sparkling new musical from Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh. It’s East London meets Bollywood, and part of the exciting World Stages London collaboration for 2012.

6. Porgy And Bess, London Coliseum, from 11 Jul
Finally for summertime (when else?!), the Cape Town Opera comes to the London Coliseum to mark 75 years since George Gershwin’s death. This vibrant, physical production of Porgy And Bess shifts the action to apartheid-era Soweto, with all the classical-jazz-opera musical combinations as strong as ever. It should be a real spectacle.

What musicals are you looking forward to seeing in 2012? Let us know in the comments below…

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Win Tickets to See Elton John Live Thu, 07 Jul 2011 09:14:14 +0000 Enter our competition to win tickets to see megastar Elton John live at Magic Summer Live.

You and a friend can enjoy a perfect summer afternoon at Hatfield House, experiencing live music in beautiful surroundings.

As well as Elton John, the line-up includes Rumer, The Pierces, The Lighthouse Family and The Overtones. There’ll also be a West End Stage where you can see excerpts from you favourite West End Shows including Billy Elliot, Wicked and Jersey Boys.

We’ve got fifteen pairs of tickets to Magic Summer Live to give away. Enter now (and hurry, competition closes 10 July 2011).

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Three Musicals to See in London this February Wed, 16 Feb 2011 10:54:54 +0000

This February some fabulous new musical theatre productions have come to London’s stages. Here are a few of the best I’ve seen recently that are worth checking out:

A new staging of this Sondheim favourite is underway at the Southwark Playhouse. We meet single party guy Bobby as he quizzes his coupled up friends about the pros and cons of married life. On his 35th birthday should he really still be without a wife? This is a lively show, with numerous great songs, the cast are vocally extremely strong and make the best of the tricky music. A must see for Sondheim fans. Until 12 Mar

The Last Five Years
This rarely performed gem from talented American composer, Jason Robert Brown is one of the best contemporary musicals out there, in my opinion anyway. The dynamic score combines a variety of musical styles, with memorable melodies and funky creative harmonies. It tells the sad tale of Cathy and Jamie who have broken up after an epic five year relationship. We hear the journey from both characters. Lauren Samuels as Cathy and Christopher Pym as Jamie are both confident and witty in this thoughtful piece. Until 5 Mar, Tabard Theatre

Transferring after a sucessful run at Sadler’s Wells, Shoes is now at The Peacock Theatre. With toe-tapping tunes and incredible costumes this is a brilliant night out for everyone and anyone. Hilarious shoe stories, entrancing singing and best of all, unbelievable dancing. Until 3 Apr

Forget the rain and grey skies and book yourself a jolly night out this February. Let us know which one you like best

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Woody Sez at The Arts Theatre Wed, 09 Feb 2011 12:02:23 +0000

Calling all folk fans and musicians… this show is for you! In fact I think anyone who appreciates music will enjoy Woody Sez at the Arts Theatre. This new musical explores the life and music of folk icon Woody Guthrie. Known more often as the man who inspired and mentored Bob Dylan, we now meet Guthrie as a legend in his own right, which is how he deserves to be remembered.

It is the four passionate performers that make this production outstanding. Aside from being very talented multi-instrumentalists they have a Guthrie wisdom and an infectious joy that make the audience immediately feel at ease; consequently it is impossible not to listen to and enjoy their journey. The stage is simply set, with a backdrop of Woody photos and instruments of all shapes and sizes lining the sides of the platform, I counted 12 in total.

There is a real fluidity about the show: the performers frequently switch characters and yet the whole story is effectively united with a long list of songs. Woody is played by the musical director and writer David M Lutken. Lutken is obviously a specialist in the subject and a very charismatic performer.

The script features 34 Guthrie songs, but with intros and encores the final number is more like 40! Darcie Deaville and Helen Jean Russell are wonderful as the female cast members. Folk music lends itself to harmonising and they create wonderful nuances with their voices. The flaws in a performer’s voice can be what makes it most beautiful. Music was definitely much more emotional before auto tune was invented!

David Finch (Andy Teirstein’s alternative) was hilarious as the fourth cast member. He played everything from classical violin to spoons – which I have never been lucky enough to see before – it is quite staggering to watch. He plays various characters through Woody’s travels, and to each part brings a new personality, it was great fun to watch.

Woody Sez introduces a cast not just of performers but of devoted musicians, their verve made this show one of the best off-West End productions I have seen in a long time.

Woody Sez continues until 2 April at the Arts Theatre. Book tickets

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