Visit London Blog » x factor Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Understudy Triumphs in Blood Brothers at Phoenix Theatre Fri, 16 Jul 2010 13:30:47 +0000 Are you disappointed when you go to the theatre and discover the lead is being performed by an understudy? Let’s be honest, no one wants to pay for second best, especially if a well-known name is scheduled to perform.

The “celebrity lead” is often crucial to a show’s success, but in my experience it is unusual for an untrained celeb to really excel considering the vocal training and talent needed for a West End performer.

Mel C, who recently starred in Blood Brothers was one celebrity who did receive rave reviews and she brought new interest to the 21-year-old musical. Niki Evans, recent X-Factor semi-finalist now takes on the role.

But on the night I went to see Blood Brothers, Mrs Johnstone was played by Evans’ understudy Vivienne Carlyle. I didn’t realise this until the interval, but I never would have guessed had I not been told. Carlyle gave a charming rendition of this humble working-class single mum. Her voice is powerful with a beautiful tone and her acting is faultless.

The drama explores the subject of twins and the intriguing “nature versus nurture” debate. The brothers are played by Stephen Palfreman (Mickey) and Simon Willmont (Eddie), both tremendous. Palfreman convincingly portrays both the naughty schoolboy and the troubled adult, and is a pleasure to watch on stage.

Mrs Lyons was also played by the understudy, Rebekah Clifford. She is appropriately evil and a brilliant contrast to Carlyle.

Leaving the theatre, I felt quite overwhelmed (I cried for most of the second half). The understudies in this performance stole the show and made the night a triumph. Enjoy the understudy next time you see one, there’s a chance they’ll be better than the celebrity they are replacing.

Blood Brothers is on at the Phoenix Theatre until 31 July. Book tickets here

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Thursday Theatre News: Tonys, We Will Rock You, Antony Sher, and Estelle Parsons Thu, 17 Jun 2010 17:42:35 +0000 Earlier this week, Broadway’s Tony Awards were a real pat on the back for London’s theatre scene.

Gongs went to several shows which began in London: the Donmar’s Red (about Mark Rothko) won six in all, including Best Play. And two productions from the Menier Chocolate Factory, La Cage Aux Folles and A Little Night Music, won four between them.

The total of 10 awards from 28 nominations for London productions is an impressive showing for West End transfers. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Back home, I’ve got X-Factor news. Remember Brenda Edwards? Well she’s coming to the West End on Monday as Killer Queen in We Will Rock You. She’s replacing the current Killer Queen Mazz Murray for 10 weeks over the summer. Break a leg, Brenda!

Other cast news includes heavyweight thesp Antony Sher (a multi-Laurence Olivier Award winner, no less) returning to the London stage. He’ll play in Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass at the Tricycle Theatre from late September. Miller’s popular in London at the mo: if you can’t wait til September to catch some of the great writer’s work, check out The Crucible or All My Sons, both currently playing in London.

And finally, Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons is to make her West End debut in Deathtrap later this year. (If you’re about my age, you’ll remember her best as the grandma in Roseanne.)

Deathtrap is about a struggling playwright whose student asks for help writing a new thriller. The student visits his mentor’s secluded house and a series of eventful twists and turns ensues…

But what an exciting cast Deathtrap is going to have. Alongside Estelle and London theatre regulars Claire Skinner (the mum in the BBC’s Outnumbered) and Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Groff is also making his West End debut.

Yes, it’s time to stop swooning and get booking, Glee fans: Jesse St James is coming to London!

Also: any theatre lovers in London this weekend should get down to Leicester Square for West End Live. But you knew that already, right?!

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Rage Against The Machine at Finsbury Park Wed, 09 Jun 2010 13:23:45 +0000 On Sunday night Rage Against the Machine played to 40,000 fans at Finsbury Park as a “thank you” for their Christmas No. 1.

It all began last December when a Facebook campaign put Californian band Rage Against the Machine’s song Killing In The Name at the top of the UK single charts, beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry to Christmas number one. It was the first time in five years that a winner from the TV talent show ( as well as producer Simon Cowell) had not enjoyed a Christmas No. 1.

More than 180,000 people applied for tickets to the concert via an online lottery. I was one of the lucky 40,000 winners, but that didn’t stop several hundred ticketless fans scaling the fence.

It was a star-studded list of support bands including punk-veterans Gallows, hip-hop superstar Roots Manuva and gypsy-punks Gogol Bordello, who warmed up the crowd.

The crowd was ferocious when RATM came on stage and the band didn’t disappoint. Their rendition of popular 1992 track Bullet in the Head confirmed the band had lost none of its raw energy.

RATM called Jon and Tracy Morter, the couple who orchestrated the Facebook campaign, on to the stage in order to present a cheque — 100% of the proceeds from the Killing In The Name single were donated to the homeless charity Shelter.

Zach De la Rocha then paid tribute to the British punk tradition with a cover of The Clash‘s White Riot.

Finally the band left the stage before the encore, and the sound system pumped out X Factor winner’s single The Climb, while quotes from the newspapers filled the screens recounting the countdown to the Christmas Number one single sales. The words flashed up: “YOU Made History” as the the band rejoined the stage to play their biggest hit and last song of the night, Killing in the Name, and the crowd went wild.

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