Visit London Blog » the railway children Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thursday Theatre News: Tricycle Theatre, Pippin, Warren Clarke and Craig Warnock Thu, 22 Sep 2011 16:30:18 +0000 Firstly, news from the Tricycle Theatre this week. Artistic Director Nicolas Kent is ending his 28-year run in charge the theatre in 2012. In his final season, the Tricycle are staging a number of politically charged pieces, looking at the recent London riots and an exploration of the history of the nuclear bomb along with a revival of Stones In His Pockets.

New play The Riots will open the season on 17 November, written by Tricycle theatre regular Gillian Slovo. Slovo worked with Kent on the hugely acclaimed Guantanamo – Honor Bound To Defend Freedom. The Riots uses accounts from police, victims, onlookers, politicians, teachers, lawyers and community victims to explore what happened in London this summer and why.

The Bomb – A Partial History closes the season, running from 9 February to 1 April, and features a number of playwrights creating short pieces inspired by a central theme. Sandwiched in between is the Olivier Award-winning comedy Stones In His Pockets, directed by another regular at the Tricycle, Indhu Rubasingham.

Second, news of a new musical at the fantastic Menier Chocolate Factory. Pippin is a Tony Award-winning show by Stephen Schwartz with a coming-of-age storyline. It was first staged on Broadway in 1972, featuring Bob “Chicago” Fosse choreography. This new production is directed by Mitch Sebastian who promises to incorporate Fosse’s original choreography into his “high-concept” show. It all sounds very exciting, and I can’t wait to bring you some cast news!

Talking of casting, here’s the latest:

More next week…

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Thursday Theatre News: Kids Week & The Railway Children Extend, and Robert Lindsay & Joanna Lumley Return to the London Stage Thu, 21 Jul 2011 17:44:49 +0000 If you’re a fan of the fantastic theatre ticket deals for families that Kids Week offers, I’ve got some good news for you. Kids Week has added an extra week, and now runs from 12 August to 4 September. Visit now, and if you buy a full price adult seat for one of the London shows taking part, you can take along someone else (up to the age of 16) to the same show for free. A further two kids can attend for half price.)

In other news this week, The Railway Children has announced an extension, and is now booking until 8 January 2012. The production, which won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment earlier in the year, currently stars Marcus Brigstocke as station master Mr Perks.

Did you enjoy spotting some of London theatre’s regulars in BBC2’s The Hour on Tuesday? I certainly did. Abi Morgan, who wrote the series, is also in London’s theatrical news this week. She’s one of the many writers tackling an exciting Headlong theatre project about the legacy of 9/11, directed by Rupert Goold. The show, called Decade, will be staged in an atmospheric disused building in St Katherine Docks from 1 September. Other writers on the project include:

Three shows have released news of their casts this week. They are:

  • The Lion in Winter by James Goldman will star Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in November
  • Cool Hand Luke: Lee Boardman from Corrie and Lisa Eichhorn join Marc Warren in this stage adaptation of the well-known film, coming the Aldwych theatre in September
  • Nicholas Lyndhurst joins Ralph Fiennes in Trevor Nunn’s production of The Tempest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 27 August
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Legally Blonde and After The Dance Triumph at the Laurence Olivier Awards Mon, 14 Mar 2011 11:30:25 +0000 Hit West End Musical Legally Blonde won three gongs last night at the Laurence Olivier Awards, UK theatreland’s “Oscars”.

Star of the show Sheridan Smith won Best Actress in a Musical, and co-star Jill Halfpenny took the prize for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical. The show also won the Best New Musical award.

The National Theatre’s revival of Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance took four awards, including Best Revival, Best Actress for Nancy Carroll and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the ever-excellent Adrian Scarborough.

These two shows were the biggest winners at the prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards, held last night at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Other prizes went to Roger Allam for playing Falstaff in Henry IV at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (Best Actor), David Thaxton for Passion at the Donmar Warehouse (Best Actor in a Musical) and Howard Davies: best director for The White Guard at the National.

Clybourne Park, which is currently playing at Wyndham’s Theatre won Best New Play, and the Entertainment Award went to The Railway Children at Waterloo Station (which is, happily, coming back to London in a few months’ time).

The BBC Radio 2 Audience Award went to We Will Rock You.

Sadler’s Wells’ production Babel won two dance awards, including Best New Dance Production. One of the biggest shocks of the night was the Best New Opera Award, given to La Boheme by OperaUpClose, which started life in the 35-seat Cock Tavern pub theatre in North-West London, and beat much grander-scale shows at the Royal Opera House, London Coliseum and Young Vic.

Finally, Best Musical Revival went to Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, staged by the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

At the ceremony’s climax, Sondheim received a special prize in recognition of his contribution to theatre.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh described the composer and lyricist as a “true legend”, paying tribute to his “unique theatrical muscle”.

“His sense of theatrical adventure knows no bounds, his subjects… have shown us all no subjects are taboo,” Sir Cameron said.

Read more about the Oliviers here. Do you agree with the judges’ decisions? Let us know in the comments below.

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Thursday Theatre News: Ruby Wax, Railway Children and War Horse Thu, 03 Mar 2011 17:30:01 +0000 I’ve got three quick bites of theatre news for you this week.

If you’re not able to catch Ruby Wax at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where she’s currently performing Losing It (until 19 March), you’ll be pleased to hear she’s coming back in the summer.

You can now catch her show, which deals with the darkest moments of depression through poignant prose and funny songs for five weeks from 17 May.

Second up: great news about a return London journey for The Railway Children. The hit London show is back at its unique venue inside the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station from 18 June until 4 September. If the you know anyone who’s a fan of E Nesbit’s book, trains, or just fantastic family entertainment, I’d thoroughly recommend taking them along to this show…

Finally, another fantastic family hit gets a cast refresh. Nicola Stephenson and Patrick Robinson join the cast of War Horse next week. The actors are best known for inhabiting the hallways of Holby General; they’ll now be playing in Michael Morpurgo’s Second World War drama at the New London Theatre.

Stephenson will play the protagonist’s mother, left worrying for her son’s life when he runs away to worn-torn France in search of his beloved horse, Joey. The actress’s numerous TV credits include Clocking Off, Law And Order and Larkrise To Candleford. Robinson plays German soldier Friedrich Muller. In addition to Casualty, Robinson is well known for his work on ITV drama The Bill. The pair joins War Horse as it enters its fifth year; the show’s recently celebrated its one millionth customer.

Finally, have you voted for your favourite show in the BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award? The shortlist makes decisions difficult, with 4 fantastic musicals fighting it out for this year’s prize:

Have your say now at The winner will be announced at the Olivier Awards on 13 March.

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Last Chance To See Theatre in London Sat, 23 Oct 2010 09:00:57 +0000

With Christmas drawing closer many shows are ending their runs to make way for festive productions. It really is your last chance to see many of London’s most popular musicals.

A few nights ago I went to see Oliver! It has been on my list of “must-sees” ever since the Andrew Lloyd Webber programme went in search of the perfect Nancy. Oliver closes on 8 January 2011 after a fantastic two-year run, and tickets are selling out fast. I didn’t realise the scale of this production before I went – the theatre is massive and very grand and the stage constantly changes, with ever more fabulous backdrops for each successive scene. But by far the most epic aspect of this musical is the huge cast, predominantly made up of very talented young children.

The show currently stars entertainer Russ Abbot as the loveable rogue Fagin (although I saw understudy Tim Laurenti in the role) and Kerry Ellis as Nancy. Gwion Wyn Jones (Oliver) and Ben Wilson (Artful Dodger) are the real stars of the night however; I couldn’t believe how capable and confident they are – singing, dancing and acting with startling maturity and swagger. I particularly love the sequence right at the beginning of the show when all the kids come on stage to sing “Food Glorious Food”.

Read our entry on Oliver! with Omid Djalili as Fagin.

Other London Theatre Shows Ending Soon:

  • Sister Act: (ends 30 October 2010) A precocious singer joins a convent to unite the sisters with singing and music
  • Avenue Q: (ends 30 October 2010) A hilarious mischievous puppet show set in New York City
  • Sweet Charity: (ends 6 November 2010) the story of a dancer-for-hire at a Times Square dance-hall who finds love at last
  • The Railway Children: (ends 2 January 2010) An adaptation of E Nesbit’s classic about three children who find amusement watching the trains at a nearby railway station

Catch them before it’s too late!

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Thursday Theatre News: Railway Extensions, Pam Ann & Kylie The Musical? Thu, 22 Jul 2010 16:29:19 +0000

Firstly, great news for anyone who’s still eager to see the great Railway Children, featuring that real life steam train at Waterloo Station. The show’s run has been extended until January, making this a great alternative to the flurry of pantos that are sure to grace London’s stages in the festive season.

Casting news for this week features a spot of déjà vu: Cold Feet duo Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris are pairing up as husband and wife again, this time in Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre. They’re joining the ever-brilliant Alison Steadman in Noel Coward’s ghostly comedy, which opens next year.

And I’ve got details about two hit shows returning to London too: the Olivier Award-winning Blackwatch comes to the Barbican this November as part of a season which features a Polish Macbeth and that birthday Les Miserables. And Pam Ann, the comedy air hostess creation of Aussie Caroline Reid, brings her stand-up show Flying High to the Vaudeville Theatre in September.

Finally, and most excitingly, I’ve heard rumours this week of a brand new musical featuring Kylie’s greatest hits! According to Company, Kylie says:

“Yes, (stylist and creative director) William Baker and I are working on getting the story written. I’m comfortable because it’s not my life story; it’s about the interpretation of my music.”

We’ve already been thinking of possible plot lines and titles here at VL towers. Better The Devil You Know? Fever? Tears on My Pillow? There are so many top hits to choose from! Add any other ideas to the comments below!

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The Railway Children at London Waterloo Station Tue, 13 Jul 2010 10:35:32 +0000

Last night I went to see The Railway Children staged in the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station.

I loved the 1970s film as a child so the play had a lot to live up to.

The play is staged in flashback, with the grown-up children, Bobby, Phyllis and Peter reminiscing about how they became The Railway Children.

This has the advantage of allowing adult actors to play the children – and they do a good job, with Nicholas Bishop scarily childlike as Peter.

And using flashback acknowledges that most audience members will already know the ending of the story. So the focus of the play is more about how events happen (and for me, how they manage to stage them) then the end itself.

The staging was the most exciting aspect of the production. The audience were seated on two platforms on either side of the train tracks and the action took place in between.

Smoke, lighting, sound effects and moving platforms were all impressively used to create “trains” speeding along the track.

And of course, the big draw of this production is a 68-tonne steam train, the Stirling Single which chugs majestically onto the stage.

I couldn’t help comparing the play to the film, as I know it so well. So how did it measure up?

I thought the stage version captured a lot of the charm of the film but at times it was a bit too twee (too much tally-ho, “you’re a brick” type dialogue). And although it’s aimed at children, the audience don’t need to be asked to use their imagination at particular points in the play (we’re in the theatre, we’re already using it!)

I also wasn’t keen on Caroline Harker‘s portrayal of Mother. In the film, the mother was firm and “proper” but kind. The play didn’t manage any of that warmth and most of Harker’s dialogue involved her shouting at the children not to cry or ask questions.

But despite that, I really enjoyed The Railway Children. The inventive staging coupled with the unusual location make for a great night at the theatre.

If you do go, make sure you get there a few minutes early as there’s a miniature train (which children can ride in), an exhibition of photos from the film and information about The Railway Children charity in the foyer.

The Railway Children at Waterloo Station until 5 Sep 2010. Book tickets

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