Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has confirmed the initial principal casting for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel which plays from 31 July to 25 September 2021. Carly Bawden and Declan Bennett play Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, John Pfumojena plays Enoch Snow, Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding plays Nettie Fowler and Natasha May Thomas plays Louise Bigelow.
Just a quickie for this revisit to Follies, which remains as perfect a piece of musical theatre as I could hope for. I loved it then but I really love it now.
Janie Dee and Joanna Riding are two of the UK’s finest musical theatre performers. At the National Theatre the return of Dominic Cooke’s acclaimed production of Follies currently stars the two actresses.
The Olivier Award-winning Follies returns to the National Theatre in richer, deeper, more resonant form and just blows me away.
Eighteen months on and with a couple of well-placed casting changes Stephen Sondheim’s Follies returns to the National Theatre with the excellence of this devastating musical a breath of fresh air amidst a slew of disappointing recent openings in the capital.
After its sold out run in 2017, Follies is back in true glamorous style as it follows a group of dancers reminiscing and reliving their youth.
Some of the beauty of Flowers for Mrs Harris gets lost at Chichester Festival Theatre but it remains a striking new musical
“It’s a work of art… something not real, made to make you feel”
I had much love for Flowers for Mrs Harris when it premiered in Sheffield a couple of years ago, and so I was delighted to see Daniel Evans deciding to revive it at his new abode over in Chichester. My only cavil came with the placing of this most heartfelt musical in the vast space of the Festival Theatre rather than the intimacy of the Minerva where it might perhaps have been better served.
So much of the beauty of the show (book by Rachel Wagstaff from Paul Gallico’s novel, music & lyrics by Richard Taylor) comes from the fact that it isn’t a bells and whistles epic. It is something far more subtle that truly celebrates the ordinary in extraordinary, as Clare Burt’s charlady Ada Harris dares to dream of owning a Christian Dior dress and in working to achieve that dream, illuminates the lives of those around her.
Largely sung-through, the cumulative effect of Flowers for Mrs Harris is like a ripple billowing through a length of silk fabric, flipping it over – beguiling and beautiful, gentle but ultimately transformative. As Ada’s hard work takes her from Battersea to Paris, some nifty doubling in the cast sees her meeting contrasting figures to those for whom she toils. So Louis Maskell switches from accountant to dreamy photographer, Laura Pitt-Pulford from struggling actress to top model, Joanna Riding aristocracy to couturier, and all impress with their clear delineation.
And Burt is just magnificent the unassuming Ada, slowly coming to realise her place in the world, her worth and her right to a greater happiness than she ever dared dream of in the drudgery of post-war Britain. Lez Brotherston’s design looks superb under Mark Henderson’s well-observed lighting choices, and the conclusion is a thing of real, gentle wonder. Don’t just talk about wanting to see new exciting British musical theatre, go and see it now!
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Johan Persson
Flowers for Mrs Harris is booking at Chichester Festival Theatre until 29th September
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Flowers for Mrs Harris is one of the most heartwarming shows I have ever seen and a return to the great British musical. The audible gasps, from the audience, at certain parts a testament to both the writing and performances.
Details have been announced for the National Theatre’s season running from July 2018 to January 2019. Highlights include Peter Brook returning to direct at the NT for the first time in 50 years with The Prisoner, plus new plays from Nina Raine and Anthony Neilson.
Upon reaching 70 this year, Andrew Lloyd Webber is clearly in a reflective mood and hot on the heels of his autobiography Unmasked released last week, comes this new compilation album Unmasked: The Platinum Collection.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2018 season, announced today, will feature new plays by Laura Wade and Charlotte Jones and revivals of Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen and musical Flowers For Mrs Harris.
Thinking about this most well-received of plays, it is the role of Aunt Maggie Faraway who lingers most in my mind, the elegiac beauty of her speeches an elegant way of folding in traditions of Irish storytelling and emphasising the deep bonds of family.
Emma Rice scores one of her biggest hits on Bankside with a musical that couldn’t be more Emma Rice if it tried. As it is, it fits perfectly into the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, shaking up the established order once again.
Frankly, you can’t ignore the fact that every time you see it you get a free piece of chocolate. As long as you have the patience to wait for “le moment de magique” before you eat it.
What a scrummy treat this new musical is! With songs that are like a box of chocolate themselves: full of treats and unexpected surprises and a genuinely heartfelt story that celebrates human flaws, this is a show that uplifts the spirits.
Carly Bawden, Dominic Marsh, Joanna Riding, Gareth Snook and Lauren Samuels join the cast for new Emma Rice musical Romantics Anonymous at the Globe.
So having not gotten round to seeing The Girls for whatever reason (mainly that I didn’t want to), I finally bit the bullet last week and within 24 hours, the show posted closing notices for its West End run. The Girls will then head out on a two year national tour from August 2018, aiming to visit 42 theatres across the UK
David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, the producers of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s new musical comedy THE GIRLS, based on the true story, the film and the award-winning play by Tim Firth, Calendar Girls, are delighted to announce that the production will return home to Yorkshire and open at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 15 August 2018 and visit 42 theatres …
If you’re seeking life affirmation, celebrations of female solidarity (of a quintessentially British variety) and general uplift, my two current West End recommendations that tick all three boxes are The Girls and Stepping Out.
It is a happy thing: this musical about sadness, loss, betrayal and imperfect female bodies getting their kit off for charity. Happy because human, a loving tribute to rural England, friendship and ordinariness.
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