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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
I recently wrote to every major theatre chain in London to ask to see their COVID safety risk assessments and ventilation plans.
Last week saw Paula Vogel’s Indecent finally open officially at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a year and a half after previews had begun, for the UK premiere of Rebecca Taichman’s Tony-winning original production.
Although this newsletter officially remains on hiatus and will resume publication on Monday 20 September, I’m interrupting my time on the beach for a second time to deliver this bulletin with the reviews of Back To The Future that opened officially at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre on Monday.