Another constant for over 40 years was Al Hirschfeld, whose highly distinctive line drawing caricatures of Broadway accompanied the New York Times reviews of new openings. No one elevated the simple line drawing embodiment of Broadway to an art form in its own right quite as he did.
At the theatre after an extraordinary day that saw us bid farewell to Her Majesty the Queen
Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily, after an extraordinary day that saw us bid farewell to Her Majesty the Queen, after a reign of 70 years that saw her appoint 15 prime ministers — the latest of whom Liz Truss she met only on Tuesday. Truss will now be reporting in a weekly audience to King Charles III (coincidentally the title of Mike Bartlett’s 2014 play which imagined the future that awaited him — and us — that transferred to the West End and Broadway).
Screen fame may be a major driver of ticket prices, but the breadth of British acting talent is vast
Television and big screen fame is a major driver for West End producers. Opened last week are Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey in a new production of Mike Bartlett’s COCK, and the lowest ticket price is £65, with the bulk at £100 or more, so it also translates to big prices.
But I’m a Cheerleader: A useful reminder how long the development timeline of new musicals invariably is
Based on a 1999 film about a gay conversion therapy summer camp for young gay men and lesbians, But I’m a Cheerleader was first presented in extract during Paul Taylor-Mills’ MTFestUK seasons of workshop presentations of new musicals.
What are this year’s biggest Olivier Awards shortlists snubs & surprises?
It’s always said that the honour is being nominated at all; in artistic endeavour, it should be a competition anyway. But what about those who are not nominated at all? Where does that leave them?
‘A confident, well-crafted debut play beautifully acted’: BLOODY DIFFICULT WOMEN – Riverside Studios
Bloody Difficult Women is a gripping and fascinating play based on the real-life case of Gina Miller, who in 2016 brought an action against Theresa May’s government that forced it to get parliamentary approval before invoking Article 50 to leave the EU.
Diary of a Theatre Addict returning to New York: 9 shows in 7 nights
Regular readers will know that my name is Mark and I’m an addict — a theatre addict — and much else; if you have an addictive personality, you addict to anything that makes you feel different — sex, sugar, coffee, and in my case, theatre, too.
On Broadway: Hotfooting from Six to Marlow & Moss in cabaret at 54 Below
I finally caught SIX’s Broadway incarnation. And I made a night of it: since the show runs for just 70 minutes, I was able to hotfoot it after to see Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, its co-authors and creators, in a cabaret at 54 Below.
What’s the likelihood that Hex won’t ever officially open at the National?
It’s not unusual for artistic directors of national companies to pursue the holy grail of producing a hit musical — not just for the financial security of the venue they are running, but also for their own.
‘Just allow the sensuousness to wash over you’: Moulin Rouge & Cabaret immerse West End theatregoers
I won’t push the comparisons too hard: though they have a lot in common, CABARET and MOULIN ROUGE are chalk and chese(y), the one all grit, the other all glamour. And they get productions to match.
‘Heartwarming storytelling about human survival’: LIFE OF PI – West End
I’ve also had some really wonderful nights in the theatre that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. These included the long-delayed West End transfer of Life of Pi.
What won’t now come to pass: Stephen Sondheim was in the midst of writing a new musical
Stephen Sondheim – Broadway’s musical theatre’s greatest innovator and powerhouse over the last seven decades – left us, after 91 years, in the midst of writing another new musical that he revealed only weeks ago.
My highlights from 20 shows seen over 13 nights in New York City
Here’s the final tally from my recent trip to New York City: across 13 nights, I saw 20 shows in all – 11 of them on Broadway, 8 off-Broadway, one in a cabaret room.
Princess Diana endures another fatal car crash on Broadway
As if the late Diana, Princess of Wales, didn’t suffer enough in her short life and sudden, violent death, here she is as the title character and subject of a new Broadway musical, being exploited all over again.
‘Wonderful puppets & startling visual effects’: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE – West End
Like the hit stage version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this National Theatre adaptation is about a teenager on a journey of discovery confronting a mysterious adult world.
‘A sweet, warm-hearted Christmas show’: THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT – Stratford-upon-Avon (RSC)
The Magician’s Elephant re-opens the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon after some 19 months of closure. It’s the same slot that famously produced Matilda.
‘This jukebox show earns its place in the West End’: GET UP! STAND UP!
Get Up! Stand Up! follows the standard tropes of the bio-musical, folding scenes from his life and work around some of Bob Marley’s most famous songs
‘Didn’t I want to see it unfiltered by the opinions of others?’: Mark Shenton explores critical opinion and its influence on perception
One of the pleasures — but also the risks — of being a theatre critic is that you come first to a new production, ready to form your own opinions on what you’ve seen, before you’ve already encountered or digested the opinions of others.
‘Gloriously re-imagined’: BEAUTY & THE BEAST / WICKED — Liverpool Empire / Apollo Victoria
Mark Shenton: First of all, apologies that I was missing-in-action yesterday. I was in London — and at a hotel without desk space in the rooms, so unable to write. (And the dog ate my homework, too). So no, that’s not the entirety of my excuse. But sometimes I need to take a break, too. There may be days when the newsletter fails to materialize!
Are theatres taking Covid safety provisions seriously enough?
I recently wrote to every major theatre chain in London to ask to see their COVID safety risk assessments and ventilation plans.