When The Phantom of the Opera was unloaded from the Her Majesty’s Theatre last year, it produced the forlorn sight of the original Phantom chandelier resting on the pavement outside the theatre instead of poised over the proscenium from which it famously comes crashing down over the heads of those seated in the stalls.
On Monday, leaders of three American entertainment unions — SAG-AFRA, Actors’ Equity Association and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 released a joint statement condemning workplace harassment, bullying and violent behaviour.
It’s peculiar that disabled arts and artists are yet to make a substantial cross-over, at least in British theatre. Yes, there was one happy incidence of this at the Donmar Warehouse, when gay disabled actor Daniel Monks starred in their production of Teenage Dick in 2019.
Mamma Mia! recently marked its 22nd anniversary in the West End (it premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, subsequently moving twice — first to the Prince of Wales, and then its current home, the Novello).
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The post ShenTens: My Top 10 Favourite Regional Theatre Venues first appeared on Shenton Stage.
We are just over a month away from the cautious re-opening of indoor theatre venues from 17 May, which will restore theatres to their pre-lockdown condition last December of being able to operate at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, I want to start keeping track of the shows that are coming back, or are newly being announced, in a new feature here that will be updated weekly until such time as it becomes a reality, and from then on will provide a weekly update to that week’s openings and future ones.
On Friday the resumption of theatre life began in New York; meanwhile, today is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway opening night of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, his jagged and shattering tribute to the musicals as well as the marriages of yesteryear, as James Goldman’s characters confront their current predicaments as middle and old-aged people looking back on their lives through the prism of the nostalgia of their theatrical pasts — all set to a score that gently pastiches the songs of the period while actually improving on them.
All of my ShenTens podcasts to date have concerned the living. Today I’m visiting the past, sometimes fairly recent, of my favourite past legends of musical theatre’s great Broadway leading ladies.
It’s been announced that Howard Panter & Rosemary Squire’s Trafalgar Entertainment are joining forces with regional theatre operator HQ — who currently operate 11 venues from Bromley and Dartford to Southend, Swindon, Crewe and Guildford.
Today, for the first time since the mid-December lockdown brought the shutters down on most forms of social interaction in public, including the closure of non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries, Britain is beginning the process of edging out of those some of those restrictions.
In four previous episodes of my weekly #ShenTens podcast, and their accompanying columns here, I’ve chosen my top ten favourite leading ladies and leading men respectively in both Broadway and West End musicals. Now I turn to rising stars — the next generation of performers who are already making their mark in London. (I’ll get to Broadway when it returns to business itself).
In theatre no one has been more affected by the pandemic than freelancers, who make up the bulk of the workforce and who, according to a new report from Freelancers Make Theatre Work, are responsible for creating 94% of the work created for the nation’s stages.
A constantly recurring theme as we hopefully start emerging from this pandemic — and even long before it actually happened — was about creating space for new voices and talents, and preferably younger and more diverse voices, whether as writers, directors, producers, designers, actors or even theatre critics.
It’s both surprising, and not, in the light of this that Phantom — a fictional character whose physicality is almost entirely shrouded by a cloak and whose face is 50% covered — has never been played by a black or Asian actor yet in its 35-year run in the West End.
We’ve all got them: things we enjoy — sometimes mightily — that it’s just a little bit embarrassing to admit to liking. Like admitting, in my case, a massive passion for Selling Sunset, the real estate reality TV show set in the cramped offices of an LA boutique agency that sell houses to millionaires and billionaires. (But somehow seem to work cheek-by-jowl in a tiny office on Sunset Boulevard).
It was just after 5pm on 16 March 2020 that Boris Johnson made his heart (and business) stopping announcement: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel. We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”
In a feature for The Stage earlier in the week, Jessica Korvavos, president of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, was asked to sum up the last year: “A year when singing and dancing in public have been against the law? It’s been like a horrible dystopian cross between Footloose and Groundhog Day.”
There’s no question that, apart from his undoubted brilliance as a composer of instantly memorable melodies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest gift is as (self) publicist. He’s just wonderful at getting people to speak about him and his shows; and thereby promote them.