So pleased to have one of my favourite actresses take on the 10 questions for 10 years challenge – all hail Noma Dumezweni!
Fifty-four years is quite the wait for a sequel but the sweetness and charm with which Mary Poppins Returns lands on our screens makes it pretty much worth it.
I’m not one to blow my trumpet too much, honestly, but it was nice to discover that my blog has been named one of Feedspot’s Top 50 Drama Blogs and Websites.
MyTheatreMates are delighted to champion The Albany and ARC Stockton’s major new initiative to make theatre freely accessible to local children in south London. The #EveryChildTheatre campaign has already attracted Theatreland support from patrons including Jude Law and Noma Dumezweni. Can you help out too? Read more and consider donating to the scheme’s Crowdfunding initiative. They have until 4 August 2017 to meet their target of £10,000!
“We could see this was a bad one immediately. The sky was glowing.”Touted as an evening of song, dance and poetry, Songs anA fundraising gala evening pulled together in the space of a week by the superhuman efforts of actor Giles Terera and producer Danielle Tarento, it was a concert for the hundreds of families made homeless and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire.
Adding to the fundraising efforts already established, actor Giles Terera and producer Danielle Tarento have put together a theatrically inclined evening of song, dance and comedy in aid of those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire was a devastating loss but a small mercy has been the way in which so many have responded in offering various means of help and support. Adding to this remarkable group are Giles Terera and Danielle Tarento, who have combined forces to speedily put together Songs and Solidarity – a West End fundraising gala evening of song, dance and comedy for the hundreds of families made homeless and the relatives of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire.
Fresh from taking the Barbican by storm (again) with Roman Tragedies, Ivo van Hove and Toneelgroep Amsterdam will be returning to London next month with a version of Luchino Visconti’s 1943 film Obsession.
Harry Potter producer Sonia Friedman tops theatre’s 2017 power list. She’s been placed number one in The Stage 100, The Stage newspaper’s definitive guide to the most influential figures working in the UK theatre and performing arts industry
The end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances should be on their way soon, once the food coma has abated, but to tide you over, here’s my list of 9 of my top moments in a theatre over 2016, the things that first come to mind when someone says ‘what did you enjoy this year’. For reference, here’s my 2015 list and 2014 list.
The ‘arrival’ of the Hope TheatreI’ve been gazumped by The Stage in recognising this Islington fringe theatre for a stellar year but it is no more than Matthew Parker and his team there deserve. Over the course of 2016, intelligent and exciting programming has made the Hope into a must-see venue for me, no mean feat in a market already full of fringe venues and new ones opening every time you look up. From promoting new writing to astutely chosen revivals, scorchingly personal writing to themed seasons culminating in delightfully campy lesbian musicals, this theatre has been on fire all year long and has made me excited to see every single thing they put – and there’s precious few places, large or small, that can say that.
Wizards and magic and owls, oh myI’d have to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again before deciding officially whether it is a great piece of drama or not, but there’s no doubting that it is a stonking piece of theatre and the atmosphere at the very first shows was something quite amazing to be a part of, even from the back row of the balcony. The romantic sweep of Christine Jones’ set and Steven Hoggett’s movement, John Tiffany’s endlessly imaginative direction and of course, the masterfully jaw-dropping effects from Jamie Harrison. It felt like something I’d never seen before and in the case of Sprocket the Owl, it was something no-one else saw either!
(c) Stephen CummiskeyMiriam Buether turning the world upside downIt’s incredible that in the same month that I saw Harry Potter, a play at the Hampstead Theatre matched it for simply astounding set design. Miriam Buether’s work on Wild was jaw-droppingly good and what I was particularly proud of on a personal level, was how I managed to reference it in plain sight in the review, yet still managing to avoid spoilers.See also: opening in the same month, Bob Crowley’s design for Aladdin was impressive against such stiff competition
The Hired Man brought to orchestral lifeI knew the concert version of The Hired Man at Cadogan Hall would be good, but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional it would be. Hearing Jenna Russell and John Owen-Jones duetting on ‘No Choir Of Angels’ took me to the edge, being joined by Matthew Seadon-Young for the soaring ‘If I Could’ pushed me right over to leave me quietly sobbing for most of the interval.See also: Glenn Close ripping through ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’
Discovering Lorraine Hansberry, for myselfBefore March this year, I’d never seen a Lorraine Hansberry play and seeing two in a month – Eclipse’s touring A Raisin in the Sun and the National Theatre’s Les Blancs – absolutely blew me away. Both will rank very highly in my end-of-year list but more than that, I enjoyed finding my own way into loving Hansberry’s work. It’s all very well being told someone is good (even when that someone is my mum, who has ranked Raisin… as one of her favourite plays for a while) but I much prefer forming these opinions for myself and now I can hand-on-heart agree that Hansberry’s was a superb talent.
The glorious rise of Noma DumezweniThere’s something beautiful in seeing karmic justice being served, especially to an actor who you’ve admired for a goodly while. Noma Dumezweni may not have been a household name at the beginning of the year but the trifecta of stepping into the lead role of Linda at a moment’s notice, making her directorial debut in I See You, and then nailing her inspired casting as the adult Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has seen her profile rise stratospherically. Most impressive of all the serene grace with which she has handled all manner of racist trolling on Twitter.
Finally getting ‘Satisfied’In a most rare example of restraint from myself, I had the Original Cast Recording of Hamilton for something like a year without listening to it, knowing that I would be doing my damnedest to see the show. And sure enough, with several months planning and the help of a generous birthday gift, I got to see the original cast live at the Richard Rodgers Theatre whereupon I experienced the absolute genius and glory of Renée Elise Goldsberry’s ‘Satisfied’ completely unspoiled. Without exaggeration, one of the best moments of musical theatre ever written.See also: getting to relive the sumptuous harmonies of Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn and Keala Settle in ‘A Soft Place To Land’ from Waitress thanks to the wonder of Broadway cast recordings
(c) Pascal VictorIsabelle Huppert being Isabelle HuppertI’d argue that Isabelle Huppert is one of the finest actors in the world and what is particularly exciting about her is that she rarely takes easy, predictable decisions in her choice of collaborators and material. From films such as Elle to La Pianiste, she always provokes and so perhaps it was no surprise that a rare UK theatre appearance would be equally challenging. If anything got me through the nearly 4 hours of Phaedra(s), it was the undeniable electric star quality that she radiates, no matter what she’s doing.See also: getting to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart is always a pleasure, even if I had to suffer Pinter for the privilege
Holding the curtain in Derby A personal one here but one that still makes me chuckle. Back in March, I was invited to Derby Theatre to see the double bill of Look Back in Anger and response piece Jinny but the train I was booked on was cancelled. I got on the next one, knowing that time would be extremely tight, but I wasn’t expecting that when I got to the station, the wonderful Heidi from Derby Theatre bundled me into her car along with Mark Lawson, Michael Coveney and some other bloke, drove us to the stage door, where we were rushed into the theatre where they had held the beginning of the performance for our arrival! Not bad for a two-bit blogger 😉
The 2016 Evening Standard Theatre Awards in pictures: Billie Piper, Ralph Fiennes, Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (in a fairy costume), Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tyrone Huntley, Noma Dumezweni and many more.
In this special edition of the (still) As Yet Unnamed London Theatre Podcast (AYULTP), the bloggers are focusing on one production only, albeit a two-part one: the world premiere of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Be warned: their free-ranging discussion may not strictly #KeepTheSecrets…
So what did I really think about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? You need to know two things – first that I went to a press night because the reviewer assigned to it got a hospital appointment the same day and secondly I only read the books originally until my godson grew too big to stay on my knee, since when I’ve maybe seen two of the films.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has officially premiered at the West End’s Palace Theatre. Having already gone down well with preview audiences and Harry Potter fans, did it charm critics as well? It’s currently booking until 27 May 2017.
Ahead of the double-show gala day at the West End’s Palace Theatre this Saturday, a galaxy of stars have already turned out for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And I’m not just talking about Emma Watson and other celebrities who have sneaked in during seven weeks of previews. Critics have had their first chance to pass judgment today and have unanimously – and internationally – awarded the two-part stage saga rave reviews: four and five stars across the spectrum.
It’s not only Henry IV who gets two plays. Cry God for Harry, Hogwarts and St Joanne: the woman who (whether you love the tales or not) admirably got a telly-softened generation hooked on big, fat, complicated books with Latin words and old-fashioned moral values.
Celebrity photographer Charlie Gray has shot three sets of exclusive character portraits of the grown-up characters from JK Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, along with the next generation, which feature in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The wildly anticipated two-part stage play receives its world premiere this summer at the West End’s Palace Theatre, where it begins previews on 9 June 2016 and officially opens to the press on 30 July 2016.
This production sees Noma Dumezweni (soon to be starring in Harry Potter: The Cursed Child in the West End) making her directorial debut, at the Royal Court, where she scored an #AlsoRecognised nominated triumph in Linda before Christmas – but does it work? I See You runs at the Royal Court Theatre until 26 March 2016.
As rehearsals begin, producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender are delighted to announce that joining Jamie Parker (Harry), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Paul Thornley (Ron) are Nicola Alexis, Helen Aluko, Jeremy Ang Jones, Rosemary Annabella, Annabel Baldwin, Jack Bennett, Paul Bentall, Anthony Boyle, Zoe Brough, Sam Clemmett, Morag Cross, Cristina Fray, Rudi Goodman, Claudia Grant, James Howard, Christiana Hutchings, Lowri …
Of course I want to see lots of excellent black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) actors cast in lead roles. No thinking theatre lover wouldn’t. The best and most suitable actors for every part, please. I am, however, disturbed by the distorted way in which last week’s report led by Jami Rogers for the University of Warwick and based on the Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database has been spun.
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