It’s the festive season, and of all the Christmas shows on offer this year, I’m not sure they could possibly come much bigger than Chickenshed’s Jack! Playing is believing… As ever, the North London theatre company’s end-of-year spectacular is staggering in its ambition, with a cast of 800 in total across four revolving rotas. And if that inevitably means that at times things get a bit chaotic, it’s a small price to pay for a show with such warmth, inclusivity and pure joy.
The Rocky Horror Show started as a tiny fringe production upstairs at the Royal Court, nearly 50 years ago. Over time it has grown and developed, but still retains the connection with fans with the constant breaking of the fourth wall, and encouraged callbacks (example: when Janet is first mentioned, you shout “Slut!”).
La Maupin is a folk punk musical celebrating this queer icon, written by Olivia Thompson and performed by a small cast of actor-musicians from female-led theatre company Fantastic Garlands. The story follows Julie on a rollercoaster ride as she runs from the law, fights in duels, joins the opera, falls in and out of love with men and women alike, moves to Paris, gets another death sentence – and does it all while being unequivocally, unapologetically herself, even when everything and everyone seems to be against her.
No doubt about it, Lea Michele is the Greatest Star, singlehandedly salvaging a train wreck of a revival and tuning it into a white hot hit. Not seen on Broadway since its original 1964 production, Funny Girl returns with a redesign of the 2016 London production, retaining direction by Michael Mayer and updates to Isobel Lennart’s original book by show-doctor Harvey Fierstein.
Endearing, funny and charming, the National Gallery’s Picture Perfect Christmas is truly the perfect event for wholesome family fun. Writer and director Francesca Renee Reid bases the production on Avercamp’s ‘A Winter Scene With Skaters Near A Castle’, with a beautiful castle set and snowy landscape.
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical comes to Leeds Playhouse for the festive season. The musical invites one into a world of imagination of Charlie’s plight and Willy Wonka’s confectionery wonders at his chocolate factory. The musical is based on David Greig’s book with Marc Shaiman’s musical composition and his and Scott Wittman’s lyrics.
Christmas has exploded over Birmingham in a shower of confetti with the arrival of Nativity! The Musical, written and directed by Debbie Isitt. If the spirit of Christmas has yet to grab you, or you find yourself feeling jaded by world events, get yourself to Birmingham Rep this December and revel in the fun. There’s even a cute dog in it.
If you’re looking for some festive magic this year, look no further than the Dominion Theatre for a gloriously Christmassy, sparkly production of Elf The Musical. Based on the cult classic film, it tells the story of Buddy the Elf who finds out he’s really a human, so makes the journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father and experience the world. This musical adaptation has all the most iconic parts of the film plus a heap of theatrical magic that makes it the perfect festive treat.
There’s nothing quite like reviewing a festive family production when the auditorium is full of excitement from the four busloads of primary school children sitting ready and waiting the wonders that are about to come alive on the stage. At 10.30am, spirits were running high for Rapunzel at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury.
Now with the addition of a further four cast members, Love Goddess at The Cockpit has become a full-length musical, in which the events in the former Margarita Carmen Cansino’s life play out in the mind of Rita Hayworth, the screen icon she became.
Discover what critics have made of this revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester. The production continues to play until 11 December 2022.
Musical theatre’s new guilty pleasure, & Juliet is an accelerated endorphin rush that leaves the cheering crowd on a giddy high. A jukebox musical so in touch with its identity that it literally starts with a jukebox on the stage, & Juliet corrals more than two dozen of 100-plus hits of mega successful songwriter Max Martin into a sassy, sexy musical comedy.
Too old for trick or treating? Local fireworks display cancelled? You could stay in and binge-watch a Netflix boxset, or plan a scary movie marathon – or you could try something a bit different.
In Michael Longhurst’s dreamy new London production of The Band’s Visit at the Donmar Warehouse, where everyone is close to the stage, it’s enchanting and quietly riveting. It also features, in the work of leading lady Miri Mesika, in the role that won Katrina Lenk the 2018 Outstanding Actress Tony, one of the most remarkable British stage debuts in living memory.
Rarely in the history of Islington playgoing have so many first-nighters whooped so enthusiastically at Gospel rock. When cheers for Elton John’s anthems in Tammy Faye at the Almeida Theatre briefly abate it is often for quite different whoops, laughter at James Graham’s dry sharp script or moments of enchanted shock at an unexpected popup.
The plot of Bombay Superstar transpires to be a bit of an unofficial biopic of the Bollywood actress Rekha. Rekha’s story has been subtly changed and some life events have been swapped with her then leading man, Amitabh Bachchan, for what I can only imagine to be creative/entertainment purposes.
When you book tickets to a musical you would ordinarily expect to see a highly polished, carefully choreographed production where every line, step and song has been rehearsed a hundred times. Not so if you’re heading to Hackney Empire for An Improbable Musical, a show which will be improvised before your eyes.
A day in the life of George, an Englishman living in America, in his fifties – a man alone following the death of his younger partner, Jim. A man of routine habits, but this is no routine day. Actor Theo Fraser Steele (who gives a finely judged performance), adapter Simon Reade and director Philip Wilson give us a glimpse into the world of Christopher Isherwood’s novel in A Single Man.
OLD MEN DO NOT FORGET Peter Gill’s new play has a melancholy beauty about it; it’s a sort of poem as the veteran playwright and director engages with age, regret and memory. The one-act, hour-long piece, performed … Continue reading →
Since its opening in 2019, the Turbine Theatre in Battersea has been a leading player in showcasing new musicals, while providing a safe space to try out modern and exciting work. Their most recent is a musical version of the cult classic film But I’m a Cheerleader. Producer, Paul Taylor-Mills has been championing this show for several years and after personally seeing it as a workshop version at MT Fest, it’s great to see how the musical has developed and progressed to its current form.