Where’s SOLT when you need it?

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

I came out of a matinee today at the Vaudeville to find that bus routes to take me from the Strand back across the river had been suspended: there was a fire in Holborn (see inset), and none were operating. After a few minutes, a bus arrived that was going as far as Waterloo — so I jumped on board that to get me part of the way. On the other side of Waterloo Bridge, it got held up in traffic — just as the northbound lanes of the bridge were being shut off.
Oops. It looked like a controlled kind of chaos was about to hit the West End. And as ever, it seemed that Twitter was providing (some of) the answers. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tweeted, “Due to incident at Holborn, tonight’s 7.30pm performance of @CharlieChoc_UK has been CANCELLED.” On The Lion King’s website, they posted this update at 16:22: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been left with no option than to cancel this evening’s performance.”

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RSC returning home to the London theatre that was built to its own specifications

In London theatre, News, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

When the Barbican Centre first opened in 1982, one of its first resident companies was the Royal Shakespeare Company, who gave up their beloved West End addresses at the Aldwych and Donmar Warehouse to move there. The Barbican’s two theatre spaces that replaced them — the mainhouse Barbican Theatre and Pit respectively — were built specifically to and for the RSC’s specifications.
So it was hugely surprising, not to say foolhardy, when then artistic director Adrian Noble suddenly decided to withdraw the company from the building entirely in 2002, and become a company that peripatetically roamed all over the capital, hiring theatres as it needed them from the Noel Coward and Novello to the Roundhouse. It did particularly impressive work in reconfiguring the Roundhouse as a bespoke space for itself, but the company’s lack of a permanent presence in London damaged it greatly.

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Cynthia Erivo heads to Broadway, Jonny Donahoe comes home & Ben Brantley raves about Chenoweth

In Broadway, Inspiring people, London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

No sooner did I declare Cynthia Erivo yesterday to be number two in my list of current UK musical theatre actresses in my round-up for The Stage than yesterday it was also announced that she’s at to reprise the shattering performance she gave in The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the summer of 2013 when John Doyle’s production transfers to Broadway, beginning performances at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on November 9 prior to an official opening on December 3.

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BAC: A theatrical trailblazer faces a different kind of blaze

In Features, London theatre, News, Opinion by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

I’ll admit that I seldom go to BAC. But I have always liked — even loved — that it’s there. It’s a major home for emerging theatre companies, and even if I miss them at the beginning of their lives there, I acknowledge that the building has a major role in developing the talent of the future and the future, in turn, of the theatre.
It is here, after all, that my favourite British musical of the century so far — Jerry Springer the Opera — was born. It’s also where the 1927 company, whose show Golem transfers to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios next month, began.
So it was particularly distressing to hear of the fire that engulfed the venue yesterday — and utterly destroyed its venerable 120 year old Grand Hall.

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Farewell to Geraldine McEwan

In Features, Inspiring people, News, Opinion by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

Into the 90s, she was stunning in Ionesco’s The Chairs at the Royal Court, opposite the late Richard Briers, and from where they transferred to reprise it on Broadway. That was a project she’d initiated herself, telling Playbill’s Harry Haun when it transferred to New York in 1998: “I was reading plays, as one does, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll have a look at Ionesco, but I should think it’s old hat.

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Thriller Live’s 7th Year

In Musicals, News, Opinion by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

When Thriller Live arrived at the Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue exactly six years ago today, I thought it felt very much like a filler that would be there for a few months but then move on. Instead, of course, it was Michael Jackson who moved on himself to the great pop arena in the sky, and the show became a sort of living memorial to him. In the days following his death, the theatre became a shrine with fans coming there to post tributes. (There’s now a permanent one in the foyer).