Visit London Blog » we will rock you http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:57:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 London Theatre News: Olivier Awards, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 1984, The Full Monty, We Will Rock You, RSC, Tom Conti and Ralph Fiennes. http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/london-theatre-news-olivier-awards-charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-1984-the-full-monty-we-will-rock-you-rsc-tom-conti-and-ralph-fiennes/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/london-theatre-news-olivier-awards-charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-1984-the-full-monty-we-will-rock-you-rsc-tom-conti-and-ralph-fiennes/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38159

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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I’m With the Band: Top 10 London Attractions for Musicians http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:36 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=34272

London has long been a magnet for the world’s most famous singers and bands – and it’s produced a fair few itself, from Queen to Amy Winehouse. So the city is full of great attractions where musicians and lovers of music can learn about their idols, buy classic records and even record a tune. Here are 10 of the best:

Abbey Road
The iconic Beatles album cover picturing the famous four walking over a zebra crossing on London’s Abbey Road has inspired endless copies and parodies. The nearby Abbey Road Studios are not open to the public (unless you’ve booked a recording session), but they do have a live web cam online so why tell your friends back home to look out for you doing the famous walk?

Jersey Boys
Even if you’re not familiar with the name Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, you’ll know their songs: Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye), Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, December 1963 (better known as Oh What A Night)… the list goes on. So Jersey Boys, the Olivier Award-winning musical about the band, is a must for all music fans – even if you think you’re not into musicals! Other great musicals to check out include Thriller – Live (Michael Jackson) and We Will Rock You (Queen).

British Music Experience
Roll back the years at the British Music Experience (located inside The O2) and explore amazing outfits, instruments, videos, photos and other memorabilia from the past and present of British popular music. Look out for John Lennon’s glasses, Ziggy Stardust’s 1970s number outfit and ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress. Plus you can show your best moves in the Dance The Decades booth, record a track in the Gibson Interactive Studio and transport yourself to some of the biggest concerts of the past 60 years in The Finale.

Open Mic Night at The Spice of Life
Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Jamie Cullum have all performed at The Spice of Life in Soho. And you can too if you pop along to its Open Mic Night, held every Monday. Make use of the in-house piano and PA, or bring along your own instrument. The music kicks off at 7pm, but performers should sign up at 6.30pm to be sure of getting a spot.

Denmark Street
Denmark Street, near Leicester Square, is known as London’s Tin Pan Alley. Both sides of the small street are lined with music shops, including Wunjo Guitars (selling new, used and vintage guitars), Vintage & Rare Guitars and Sax.co.uk. Stick around into the evening to enjoy live music at the intimate 12 Bar Club or Alleycat Bar Club, located below Regent Sounds Studio – where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album.

Rock and Roll London Walk
If you love to be regaled by tales of rockstar exploits, book a spot on the fascinating, two-hour-long Rock and Roll London Walk. You’ll visit the famous Marquee Club, pop into the pub where Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton once jammed, discover the location of the Sex Pistols’ world debut, and much more. No need to book, just turn up at Tottenham Court Road station (Exit 3) any Friday at 2pm.

Honest Jon’s Records
Arguably the most legendary of London’s independent record stores, Honest Jon’s is the retail arm of the acclaimed record label of the same name. Specialising in reggae, jazz and soul, Honest Jon’s has enjoyed a colourful, rollercoaster existence since its birth in 1974 and is still considered to be one of London’s best record shops by those in the know.

Wembley Arena
Every musician dreams of shouting “Hello Wembley!” to a sea of screaming fans – and many have done it, including Madonna, David Bowie and Prince. Check out Visit London’s music section for listings of gigs taking place every night across London at venues including Wembley Arena.

Music Gallery at Horniman Museum
See, hear and play instruments from around the world at Horniman Museum – from a 3,500-year-old pair of Egyptian bone clappers to a retro synth. Make time to visit ongoing exhibition The Art of Harmony, exploring Western classical music traditions, as well as the Hands-On Base, where you can give the instruments a go. Other London music museums to check out are The Royal Academy of Music Museum and The Royal College of Music’s Museum of Instruments.

Hard Rock Cafe
Today there are Hard Rock Cafes all around the world, but the London branch is where it all began in 1971. The walls of the restaurant – and the vault below – are lined with memorabilia, including the first piece donated to the cafe: Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender. You may even spot the odd rock star popping in for a burger, according to the cafe – or witness one of the occasional jamming sessions. And if you don’t, you’ll still get a great meal out of it.

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Top 10 Long-Running London Theatre Shows http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-10-long-running-london-theatre-shows/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-10-long-running-london-theatre-shows/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 10:00:41 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=32485 Some West-End shows come and go, while others become a permanent fixture on London’s theatre scene. To celebrate London Theatre Month, we’ve compiled a list of the longest-running plays and musicals that are currently playing in London’s West End.

The Mousetrap: 61 years
The Mousetrap is the world’s longest-running play, captivating London audiences since 1952. Packed with suspense, the classic whodunit takes place in a remote English country house hotel during a snow storm.

Les Miserables: 28 years
Now in its 28th year, Les Misérables is the longest running musical in the world.  This global stage sensation has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries. Set in 19th-century France, Les Mis follows the plight of an ex-convict turned mayor who is hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman.

Phantom of the OperaThe Phantom of the Opera: 27 years
The Phantom of the Opera has reigned at Her Majesty’s Theatre for a whopping 27 years. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical, which opened on 9 October 1986,  tells the tale of a disfigured composer who terrorises the Paris Opera in an attempt to make his protégé a leading lady.

The Woman in Black: 24 years
The Woman in Black has been terrifying audiences since 1989, making it the second longest-running play in the history of the West End. Based on Susan Hill’s eponymous novel, the spooky show sees a malevolent ghost haunting a small English town, bringing devastation to the lives of anyone who lays eyes on it.

The Lion King: 14 years
Still a roaring success, The Lion King is celebrating its 14th year at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Bursting with colour and brilliant songs, the Disney-movie-turned-musical sees fearless lion cub Simba making his epic journey to fulfil his destiny as king of the lions. The Lion King is one of five musicals to play for 10 or more years on both Broadway and the West End.

Mamma Mia: 14 years
Mamma Mia is now well into its second decade, after first opening in the West End in 1999. Based on the catchy tunes of Swedish pop quartet ABBA and set on a Greek island paradise, this feel-good show follows a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father.

We Will Rock You: 11 years
Mega-musical We Will Rock You has been a permanent fixture at the Dominion Theatre since 2002. Based on the songs of rock legends Queen, the show is set in a futuristic world where rock music has been banned.

Stomp: 10 years
Celebrating its 10th year in London, Stomp has been kept fresh with new routines, choreography and music. As its title suggests, talented performers use everything from zippo lighters to bin lids to hammer out a feel-good rhythm.

Billy Elliot: 8 years
Billy Elliot has been dazzling London’s West End since 2005 with its heart-warming tale of a young boy who struggles against the odds to fulfil his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. The all-singing all-dancing musical features an acclaimed score by Elton John.

Wicked: 7 years
Wicked made its West End debut seven years ago in 2006. Still going strong, the show welcomed its five millionth audience member last month. The award-winning musical tells the story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young trainee witches who meet at sorcery school.

Read more about all London’s theatre shows at visitlondon.com/theatre

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Thursday Theatre News: Record-Breaking Matilda, A Chorus Line, and Show Extensions http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/09/thursday-theatre-news-record-breaking-matilda-a-chorus-line-and-show-extensions/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/09/thursday-theatre-news-record-breaking-matilda-a-chorus-line-and-show-extensions/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 16:30:08 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=29118 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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Kids Week Launch: Booking Opens Tomorrow http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/06/kids-week-launch-booking-opens-tomorrow/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/06/kids-week-launch-booking-opens-tomorrow/#comments Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:00:30 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=26950 We attended a star-studded (and school-kid-stuffed) birthday party for Kids Week earlier today. The festival, which gives parents the chance to take kids to the theatre for free during August each year, is celebrating its 15th birthday.

At the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, West End stars including Richard Blackwood and Carly Stenson (from Shrek), Tom Chambers (Top Hat), Bonnie Langford (Spamalot) and the boys from Thriller Live, gave an audience of super-chirpy children a taste of all the excitement to come this summer.

This year, theatregoers will be able to book for hit musicals including Billy Elliot, The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Les Misérables, Singin’ In The Rain and We Will Rock You, comedies like The 39 Steps, One Man, Two Guvnors and Yes, Prime Minister, dramas Chariots Of Fire, The Doctor’s Dilemma and The Woman In Black, and colourful children’s shows such as Dora The Explorer and The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Kids Week offers you a free child’s ticket for every adult ticket purchased to one of the participating shows, plus the opportunity to purchase up to two more children’s tickets half-price.

As well as the shows, Kids Week gives children the chance to take part in singing workshops, Q&As, dance classes and puppet workshops, backstage demonstrations and more. You can take part in a Tigerlympics Tea Party, become a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz or learn about the Terrible Tudors in a Horrible Histories workshop.

Go to www.kidsweek.co.uk for a full line-up of shows and activities on offer. Tickets go on sale on the website at 10am tomorrow or you can call the Kids Week 24 hour booking hotline on 0844 248 5151. You can also keep up-to-date with Kids Week on their facebook and twitter pages. www.facebook.com/kidsweeklondon and www.twitter.com/kidsweek

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Thursday Theatre News: Chariots of Fire, Danny DeVito, Noel Sullivan, Abigail’s Party and Educating Rita http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/02/thursday-theatre-news-chariots-of-fire-danny-devito-noel-sullivan-abigails-party-and-educating-rita/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/02/thursday-theatre-news-chariots-of-fire-danny-devito-noel-sullivan-abigails-party-and-educating-rita/#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 18:55:48 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=25274 This week’s London Theatre update comes with the news that for the eighth consecutive year, London’s theatre reached record revenue levels. The sales figures for the Society of London Theatre’s members was more than £500 million for the third year in a row. Congratulations to all involved: it’s just another nod to the fact that London’s theatre scene is one of the greatest in the world.

So what’s coming up in this melting pot of money, success and creativity? Well, this week I’ve learnt the Hampstead Theatre is getting in on the mania for all things Olympic by staging a theatrical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire. The play will run from 9 May to 16 June. Mike Bartlett (who wrote Cock and Earthquakes in London) is writing the script, and Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director, Edward Hall will direct. More details on the casting of the two runners (Scottish Christian Eric Liddell and English Jew Harold Abrahams) in due course.

Two chaps who won’t be donning the running shorts(!) are Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths, because they’re to appear in Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys at the Savoy Theatre.

The play is a classic comedy of showbiz and friendship from the 1970s; or you might know it from the Oscar-winning film starring George Burns and Walter Matthau; or the high-profile TV version with Woody Allen and Peter Falk. This will be DeVito’s West End debut; he’s better known for his film acting, including Terms of Endearment, Batman Returns, Junior and Twins. In contrast, his co-star Richard Griffiths is a regular on the London stage, including The History Boys, The Habit of Art, Rules of the Game, and The White Guard. It’ll make an interesting pairing: I can’t wait.

This Week’s London Cast News

More next week.

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Thursday Theatre News: Matilda, The Globe, Idina Menzel, Anthony Sher and Lauren Samuels http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/09/thursday-theatre-news-matilda-the-globe-idina-menzel-anthony-sher-and-lauren-samuels/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/09/thursday-theatre-news-matilda-the-globe-idina-menzel-anthony-sher-and-lauren-samuels/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 17:30:31 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=23159 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: 2012, Thandie Newton, Karen Gillan and David Suchet http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/07/thursday-theatre-news-2012-thandie-newton-karen-gillan-and-david-suchet/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/07/thursday-theatre-news-2012-thandie-newton-karen-gillan-and-david-suchet/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2011 17:08:28 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=22139 This week seems to have been dominated by news of London 2012. And London’s theatreland has been getting in on the action too. More than 20 shows have released tickets for the Olympic period, to ensure audiences can book theatre tickets if they’re coming to town for the Olympics or the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

For a full list of shows that have extended their booking into 2012, check out the Official London Theatre website.

Edward Hall’s all-male theatre company Propeller have also announced their 2012 plans. They’ll perform their Shakespearean pairing of Henry V and The Winter’s Tale at the Hampstead Theatre from 4 to 21 July.

Before we get to that all-important Olympic year, there’s still exciting casting news to think about. This week’s announcements include:

  • Hollywood star Thandie Newton, who’ll appear in Ariel Dorfman’s Death And The Maiden at the Comedy Theatre from October
  • Doctor Who star Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) is making her professional stage debut in Inadmissible Evidence at the Donmar, also in October
  • Another debut, this time from Hannah Spearritt (who you’ll know from Primeval, or if you’re my age, S Club 7!) in The Belle’s Stratagem at the Southwark Playhouse from September
  • And finally, a real favourite of mine, David Suchet’s going to be back on the London stage in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, at the Apollo Theatre. You’ll have to wait til next April for that one, I’m afraid.

Last of all if you’re a fan of London theatre: don’t forget Kids Week, next month!

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Free Tickets for Williams and Catherines at the tkts Booth Next Friday http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/04/free-tickets-for-williams-and-catherines-at-the-tkts-booth-next-friday/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/04/free-tickets-for-williams-and-catherines-at-the-tkts-booth-next-friday/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2011 09:30:29 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=20623

Are you called William or Catherine? Do you fancy a free trip to the theatre?

Then head down to the tkts booth on Leicester Square early on the morning of the big day (Friday 29 April): if you’re among the first 10 Williams and Catherines in the queue, you can get one free ticket to the show of your choice!

You can choose a show on the big day itself, or book ahead (subject to availability).

What show would you go for? A wedding theme (Mamma Mia!); a Queen theme (We Will Rock You); or a ROYAL wedding theme (Betty Blue Eyes)?! Or something totally different: check out our Top 10 London Musicals for something to inspire you.

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Legally Blonde and After The Dance Triumph at the Laurence Olivier Awards http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/03/legally-blonde-and-after-the-dance-triumph-at-the-laurence-olivier-awards/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2011/03/legally-blonde-and-after-the-dance-triumph-at-the-laurence-olivier-awards/#comments Mon, 14 Mar 2011 11:30:25 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=20215 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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