There’s hardly a more insistent ear worm of a song in all of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ear-wormy repertoire than ‘Memory’, the breakout hit of his 1981 musical Cats, which last night celebrated the 40th anniversary of its premiere at the then New London Theatre (now itself renamed for Gillian Lynne, the choreographer whose work on the show ignited a revolution in global musical theatre, and accidentally created the West End’s first authentic dance-based musical).
My latest ShenTens is particularly bittersweet, as we can’t actually go to any at the moment: my favourite West End theatres.
Radio 2’s Greatest Show could — and should — have been a platform to celebrate more British musicals, especially here, especially now, with the industry floundering so badly. A show of support for our own creators of new musicals would not have gone amiss.
Though I’ve spent most of the last nine months really missing the real theatre that has fuelled my life for the last 40 or so years since I started going compulsively from the age of around 16, I’ve spent more time than I’d have liked in a different kind of theatre — an operating one, when I had three spinal surgeries in the space of 15 days in September. And I’ve become particularly obsessed by another kind of theatre, too: political theatre.
Last week I launched a new podcast series ShenTens here, counting down my top ten favourite musicals, and today the second episode is released.
In the last 30 years or more, roughly half of every new musical that arrives on Broadway or in the West End seems to be based on a film.
I’ve just gorged on the second series of Staged, the blissful second series of the actors-in-lockdown zoom show, directed and co-written by Simon Evans, with Michael Sheen and David Tennant playing (versions of) themselves.
A Marvellous Party, commissioned by the Noël Coward Foundation, ostensibly marks the centenary of Coward’s first appearance on stage and has been produced to raise funds for actors on both sides of the Atlantic who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic.
This version of Look Back in Anger is from 30 odd years later and was mounted by Renaissance Theatre, then a relatively new company formed by a young Kenneth Branagh. The play was directed by Judi Dench, his is a made for television re-creation from 1989.
Harry Gabriel is one of those unsung heroes in theatreland: the stage door keeper. Part surrogate parent, part nurse, part firm friend, they are the conduit between front and back of house, cast and crew, performer and fan.
In forty years at the Sha…
Fane and the London Theatre Company present Judi Dench live at the Bridge Theatre in conversation with Gyles Brandreth. For 13 nights only I Remember It Well runs from 20 March to 4 April 2020.
One from the archives: In 1988, excavations began on the site of Shakespeare’s Globe and the occasion called for a symbolic moment.
The Park Theatre has revealed initial star casting for world premiere murder mystery Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], presented in association with Avalon, which runs in London in July before transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Jasper Britton and Finty Williams have been confirmed to star in Hugh Whitemore’s Pack of Lies, at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory. The production, directed by Hannah Chissick, runs from 20 September to 17 November 2018.
The cast’s good work goes a long way to saving what is hyped as a classic, but is actually not such a very good play. Absolute Hell is fun, but this time the show is better than the writing.
London’s landmark West End venue the Theatre Royal Haymarket, a space which has housed groundbreaking productions starring Bradley Cooper, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, is up for sale.
The ensemble cast for the National Theatre’s forthcoming revival of Rodney Ackland’s 1952 play Absolute Hell, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, includes Charles Edwards, Kate Fleetwood and Jonathan Slinger.
Sadly, despite a few crisp one-liners and a catchy title I’m surprised was never used elsewhere, Twilight Song emerges as a frail Rattiganesque slice of sixties’ repressed sexuality contrasted with an awkward contemporary tryst between Adam Garcia’s cash-strapped estate-agent-turned-hustler and Paul Higgins’ desperate mothers’ boy.
Downton Abbey star Jim Carter hosts Q&A evenings with Paul Greengrass, Danny Boyle, and a joint conversation with Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith as part of the Tricycle Theatre’s new ‘In Conversation With…’ fundraising series.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust (Masterclass) are partnering with anti-bullying charity Kidscape to create Cyberscene – an innovative project which will use theatre to support the health and well-being of young people affected by cyber bullying.