Thursday, 11 April 2013

Review: Once The Musical

Once The Musical
Phoenix Theatre, London

Every so often a musical or play comes along that you just weren't expecting, that just fills your whole being with soaring delight, that you can't stop thinking about it once you've left the theatre.  Once The Musical is one of these shows.  It opened on Broadway in 2011 and was welcomed with open arms a surprise smash hit winning 8 Tony Awards in the process.  It has now moved to London with high hopes of translating the success here.

Based on the Oscar winning 2006 movie of the same name & set in Dublin, it tells the story of a Guy & Girl, simply named Guy & Girl, who meet while Guy (Declan Bennett) is singing in a local bar.  He also fixes broken vacuum cleaners which cheers Girl (Zrinka Cvitešić) as she has one that needs fixing.  She can't pay him with money but offers to pay him with music.  From here a friendship blossoms that has it's complications.  He is suffering from a broken heart and she has a daughter with her daughters father still on the scene.  This sets the stage for one of the most beautiful romantic stories to start to unravel on the stage before your eyes. Leaving you breathless come the final curtain call.

Once The Musical, adapted from Enda Walsh's original story, is a musical not like your usual West End show. For starters when you arrive in the auditorium for the show the on stage bar is fully open to the public and you are actively encouraged to head up on stage for a pint.  From here the actor/musicians in the cast mingle with the crowd on stage and begin to start playing and singing which feels like a good old Irish Céilidh which everyone's invited to.  From this point you feel transported to the bar and are witnessing the events unfold for real.  Working much better than a usual gimmick this really provides inclusion into the atmosphere.  The actor/musicians all sit around the edges of the stage throughout dipping in and out of the music and story as and when required.

The cast are absolutely first class from top to bottom, and all engender you into the story like you are a family friend.  Declan Bennett is out of this world good as Guy, as you watch him become the living embodiment of every word and every song during the performance.  The words and music coarse through his soul and it's an incredible thing to watch.  It's as if he wrote  Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová's music and lyrics himself. The raw emotion on his face is incredible and anyone who isn't moved by this performance should probably be checking their pulse on the way out. Zrinka Cvitešić touching, tender and driven performance as Girl compliments Bennett fantastically too.  Her beautiful tone and delicately delivered vocals enrich Bennetts raw emotion to create some distinctly enchanting duets.  Another richly emotional performance that makes this show an absolute must see.

The rest of the cast all give their all in career performances, from Aidan Kelly's hilarious Billy, the stunning Flora Spencer-Longhurst and Miria Parvin as Riza and ex-girlfriend respectively.  Micheal O'Connor's tender Da, Valda Avik bold Baruska all light up the performance.  Ryan Fletcher's Svec is especially as great as his natural rhythm and Gareth O'Connor's subtle underplayed Eamon has a hidden gravitas to it. Finally Jos Slovik as Andre and Jez Unwin (who is an absolute dead ringer for John Turturro) round off an impeccable cast.

It really is a top notch cast for a top notch show and it really deserves to be one of the West End's newest long running shows.  John Carney and his team have done a incredible job putting Once The Musical together for London.  They have created a truly amazing romantic story for the ages that defies the usual musical theatre tropes to create an musical experience like no other in the West End currently.  You may just find yourself shedding a tear at the end too. They say a mirror is like a window to another world, well the mirrored stage will take you off to a world you won't want to return from anytime soon.

Haunting, Evocative, Essential.

Matt Bourne

Friday, 5 April 2013

Review: The Winslow Boy

The Winslow Boy
The Old Vic

Theatre goers, its a travesty that seats are being left empty for The Winslow Boy at The Old Vic. Having entered the theatre and not knowing what to expect, audiences of all walks of life will find themselves in fits of laughter during the comedic first half and welling up at some of its most poignant moments further in.

The Winslow Boy is the story of an Edwardian British household, who's head, the father - Arthur Winslow, fights for the justice of his thirteen year old son who is accused of stealing a postal order whilst away at Naval College. Putting the rest of his family at risk in terms or reputation, money and lifestyle, it shows that even in the most trivial of circumstances which could easily be brushed under the carpet, one must fight for what is right and just, even if it means losing everything.

If carried out at the correct pace, and it was demonstrated so excellently here, then The Winslow Boy and indeed other Terrence Rattigan plays can be a delight. This roller coster of emotions plays out excellently here, with every character keeping their 'stiff upper lip' whilst fully aware of the consequences they face individually and as a family. Henry Goodman as Arthur Winslow is an excellent leader of this pack. Although riddled with gout and suffering arthritis, his sharp tongue and affectionate charisma towards his family and indeed the audience makes him a loveable central figure we can all relate to.

Naomi Frederick who plays Arthur's daughter Catherine, demonstrates a strong yet relatable character, reminding us clearly and passionately of the struggles women faced in society at that time - her work with the suffragettes is regarded as pointless and with no sense of hope - she deals with the criticism of her standing with grace and dignity and Frederick manages balance a large array of emotions with effortless ease, making her a character with so many levels that the audience find her a joy to watch.

All the actors in this production provide sterling performances, however, another standout worthy of mention is Charlie Rowe, the Winslow boy himself. It's clear to see that this young actor has a bright future ahead of him. He treads the boards of the Old Vic with ease and experience beyond his years, with particular examples of excellence being his emotional reaction to Sir Robert Morton's interrogation where audience members feel so uncomfortable in their seats that they almost want to leap out of your seat and protect the poor boy.

Terrance Rattigan plays are full of fast paced, easy to listen conversations with subtle comedies about them which allow audiences of different generations to relate to and enjoy. For a cast to deliver this as it should be is no easy task, and this cast in particular should be applauded for their efforts and supported for all their hard work. The Winslow Boy is an infectious play which gets under your skin, and makes you think about the characters and their circumstances long after the curtain has fallen. It has an effect on its audience with its relatable nature and charismatic character charms. Well worth a watch, and worthy of all the rave reviews it's been receiving.

Rebecca Perfect

News: Idina Menzel returns to the UK

Idina Menzel returns to the UK following her sell-out series of concert dates last year to perform at the prestigious 2013 Olivier Awards with MasterCard ceremony and give a special one off concert at the Hackney Empire - Idina Menzel and Friends – to be broadcast on BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night. 

®Tony Award winner Idina Menzel is a compelling star of stage, film and television who originated the role of Elphaba in both New York and London in the worldwide hit musical Wicked.  She is also well known for her role in popular TV programme Glee and will return to the show in the new series.

Idina will perform at the Olivier Awards with MasterCard on Sunday 28 April at the Royal Opera House.  The glittering, star studded ceremony will be broadcast on ITV television in a full highlights package and live on BBC Radio 2. For more information please see

Idina Menzel and Friends is a special Friday Night Is Music Night, recorded at the Hackney Empire on Wednesday 24 April and airing on BBC Radio 2 on Friday 26 April.  Idina will perform songs from throughout her career with the sixty piece BBC Concert Orchestra under the baton of leading West End conductor Mike Dixon.  For more information and to book tickets please see

Idina Menzel received a ®Tony Award for her performance as Elphaba in the original production of Wicked on Broadway. She subsequently reprised the role in the original West End cast, winning a Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  Idina also received a ®Tony Award nomination for her debut Broadway performance as Maureen, in the Pulitzer and ®Tony Award-winning hit musical Rent.  Her television and film work includes Glee, Disney's Enchanted and the film version of Rent. Idina's next film project will be Disney animated feature Frozen, opposite Kristen Bell. 

As a singer/ songwriter, Idina writes and performs her own music, and has undertaken sell-out tours promoting her solo albums. Most recently she released her first live concert album and DVD, Idina Menzel LIVE: Barefoot at the Symphony, recorded in Toronto on her internationally acclaimed symphony tour.

Idina and FriendsIdina and Friends is being recorded at the Hackney Empire in London on Wednesday 24th April 2013. Tickets for the concert can be purchased directly from the Hackney Empire Box Office online or by calling 0208 985 2424.  The concert will air at 8pm on Friday 26 April 2013 on BBC Radio 2.

News: From Here To Eternity Box Office Opens




Tickets go on sale today for the world premiere of new stage musical From Here to Eternity. The show will preview at the Shaftesbury Theatre from 30th September with Press Night on 23rd October 2013. Tickets can be bought from  or by calling box office on 020 7379 5399.

Adapted from one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, this gripping tale of illicit love and army life unites the writing talents of Tim Rice (lyrics), Stuart Brayson (music) and Bill Oakes (book).  It marks Tim's first new stage musical for over ten years and Stuart's West End début. 

From Here to Eternity will be directed by Tamara Harvey (Educating Rita, Menier Chocolate Factory; The Kitchen Sink, Bush Theatre), designed by Soutra Gilmour (Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios; Antigone, National Theatre) and choreographed by Javier De Frutos (London Road, National Theatre; The Most Incredible Thing, Sadler’s Wells). The stellar creative team also includes lighting designer Bruno Poet (Frankenstein, National Theatre), sound designer Mick Potter (Phantom of the Opera, West End/ worldwide) and orchestrator & musical supervisor David White (Les Misérables, West End/ worldwide). Casting is to be announced.

Pearl Harbor,1941, where the girls sing “don’cha like Hawaii”, the men of G Company sing the blues, and where even on an army base, love and desire are never very far away. When the troubled Private Prewitt falls for the kind hearted escort club girl Lorene, and when his platoon sergeant, Warden, embarks on a dangerous affair with his commanding officer’s wife, Karen, the lives of both men are set on a course they cannot control. As war approaches, the worlds of the four lovers and the soldiers of G Company are dramatically ripped apart.

Published in 1951, From Here to Eternity was James Jones’ début novel. It won him the National Book Award for fiction in 1952. It is loosely based on Jones’ experiences in the pre-World War II Hawaiian Division’s 27th Infantry and the unit in which he served. In 1953 the novel was adapted into a film directed by Fred Zinnemann and produced by Buddy Adler, starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift, Ernest Borgnine, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed.  The film won 8 Academy Awards out of 13 nominations.


Tim Rice and Lee Menzies for Eternity Productions Limited present


Based on the novel by James Jones
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Stuart Brayson
Book by Bill Oakes
Director Tamara Harvey
Set and costume designer Soutra Gilmour
Choreographer Javier De Frutos
Orchestrator and musical supervisor David White
Lighting designer Bruno Poet
Sound designer Mick Potter

Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP

Previews from 30 September 2013
Press Night: Wednesday 23 October 2013, 7.00pm

Box Office: 020 7379 5399

To Book online visit:

Performance Times:
Monday to Saturday 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm

Ticket Prices:
£67.50, £55.00, £45.00, £35.00, £25.00
£10 off all tickets in preview period (23 September – 29 October 2013)

Group Rates
10+ Accelerator Group Rate (book and pay by Friday 28 June 2013). Best Available seats for £39.50
20+ Accelerator Group Rate (book and pay by Friday 28 June 2013). Best Available seats for £35.00
10+ Regular Group Rate. Best Available seats for £45.00
20+ Regular Group Rate.  Best Available seats for £39.50
All Group rates are valid Monday – Friday Evenings and Wednesday Matinee and exclude Saturday performances and w/c 23rd December 2013

School Rates
10+ School Rate. Best Available seats £25.00 plus 1 free teacher ticket per 10 paid pupils (every 11th ticket is free). Valid Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Evening & Matinee.
All School rates exclude Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances and w/c 28th October 2013, w/c 23rd December 2013, w/c 17th February 2014, w/c 7th April 2014, and w/c 14th April 2014.

News: The Bodyguard adds two young stars to the cast

13 year-old Joshua-James Thomas from Harrow and 12 year-old Michael Matias from Leystonstone this month join the cast of the West End hit musical The Bodyguard as the show enters its new booking period.  Performing alongside Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen who lead the cast as Rachel Marron and Frank Farmer respectively, Thomas and Matias take on the role of Fletcher, Rachel’s young son.   They will alternate the role with original cast members 11 year-old Taylor Lockhart and 10 year-old Malaki Paul.

Four times 2013 Laurence Olivier Award nominated The Bodyguard (Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical – Heather Headley, Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical - Debbie Kurup and Best Set Design – Tim Hatley) which opened in December last year, recently announced the release of over 250,000 tickets for sale taking booking at the Adelphi Theatre to 28 September 2013.  Directed by Thea Sharrock and based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Bros. film, The Bodyguard has book by Alex Dinelaris.    The Bodyguard was recently the recipient of the Award for Best New Musical.

The cast comprises Heather Headley (to 10 August 2013) and Lloyd Owen (to 7 September 2013) alongside Debbie Kurup (Nicki Marron), Mark Letheren (The Stalker), Ray Shell (Bill Devaney), Nicolas Colicos (Tony Scibelli), Mark McKerracher (Herb Farmer), Sean Chapman (Sy Spector), David Page  (Rory Fryman) and Oliver Le Sueur (Ray Court).  Ensemble members are Nigel Barber, Jordan Darrell, Yasmin Harrison, Shanay Holmes, Holly James, Robert Jezek, Melissa Keyes, Gil Kolirin, Janet Kumah, Nicholas Maude, Richard Murphy, Gloria Onitiri, Ashley J Packer, Dharmesh Patel, Lucinda Shaw, Paul Smethurst, Charlotte Watts and James Wooldridge.

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love.  A romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features a whole host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the greatest hit songs of all time - I Will Always Love You.

Since aged seven, Michael Matias has attended the Carmel Thomas Performing Arts School in Buckhurst Hill, Essex   His professional theatre credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Lion King and Oliver!  His recording credits include We Will Remember Them (Help the Heroes, 2009) and the calypso solo in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (schools recording).

Joshua-James Thomas currently attends Hatch End High School Performing Arts College.  Previously he attended the Barbara Speake Stage School where he achieved the Dance Teachers Association Preliminary: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern Dance, Juvenile Tap and Musical Theatre Syllabus Award stage 1, 2 and 3.   His television credits include New Tricks, The Paul O’Grady Show, Tune Attics, The Bill, The Morgana Show, Angry Birds and Goody Goody Gordon in Horrid Henry Movie.   The Bodyguard will mark his west end debut.

Taylor Lockhart currently trains at the Dance Factory in Berkshire where he studies dance, drama and singing. He also takes part in regular workshops run by Buttercup Agency and has attended the Sylvia Young Summer School.  His theatre credits include The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium 2011).  Taylor’s hobbies include: gymnastics, swimming and athletics, where he is member of Reading Athletics club. He also plays keyboard.

Malaki Paul attends the Latymere All Saints Primary school in Edmonton, North London.  His vocal skills were first noticed when he was around seven years old whilst rehearsing with his church choir. 
Performances include: Latymere’s Got Talent and a local competition called ‘The X-mas Factor’ which marked his first big public performance.  On television he reached the semi-final stage of Britain’s Got Talent

With designs by Tim Hatley, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Richard Brooker and video designs by Duncan McLean.  Choreography is by Arthur Pita, orchestrations by Chris Egan with musical supervision by Mike Dixon. The Bodyguard is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian. 


Dates                                        until 28 September 2013

Address                                      Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London WC2

Performance schedule 

27 April 2013 
Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm

Heather Headley is not scheduled to appear at the 3pm performances.

From 29 April 2013 - 28 September 2013
Monday – Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 5pm and 8.30pm
Saturday at 3pm and 7.30pm

Heather Headley is not scheduled to appear at the 3pm & 5pm performances.

Box Office                                  0844 579 0094 (no booking fee)

Ticket prices                     £20 - £67.50 including £1 theatre restoration levy

 No booking fee for tickets purchased directly from the 
Adelphi Theatre

Day seats       A limited number of £25 day seats will go on sale from the Box Office at 10am on the day of the performance

(no booking fee)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

News: Stage One awards £50,000 to emerging theatre producer


  • Stage One has awarded £50,000 of its Start-Up Investment Fund to theatre producer, James Quaife.
  • James Quaife will co-produce Barking in Essex, by Clive Exton, alongside MJE Productions.

Stage One, the charity that supports new UK theatre producers and productions, has just announced the latest recipient to receive its Start-Up Investment Fund. James Quaife has been awarded £50,000 by the charity to co-produce alongside established producers MJE Productions, a new comedy, Barking in Essex by Clive Exton. The production will open at London’s Wyndham Theatre on the 6th September 2013 and will star Lee Evans, Sheila Hancock and Keeley Hawes.

The production will be directed by Harry Burton, with design by Simon Higlett, lighting by James Farncombe, and sound by Gareth Owen. The Start-Up Fund was launched in 2010, supported by industry suppliers, offers outstanding emerging theatre producers an investment (which they must match) in their first major commercial production.

Joseph Smith, Stage One’s chief executive said “James is an ideal candidate for the Start-Up award. He has shown great promise as an emerging commercial producer, working his way up through the different scales of productions. Stage One are proud to support his next step as a co-producer of a new West End play”.

James Quaife commented “I am thrilled to have received this investment from the Stage One Start-Up Fund for the West End production of Barking In Essex. To have both the financial support and the support from industry professionals is absolutely crucial with the development of my career as a commercial producer. I am extremely proud and excited to be a part of this production and wish to thank MJE Productions and Stage One for allowing me this incredible opportunity”.

Carole Winter said: “MJE Productions is proud to support the Stage One Investment Programme, which was created to encourage creative, successful and responsible practice. This award will allow James, a gifted young producer, the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and participate at every level in mounting a major West End show. Opportunities such as this are crucial to shore up the future of commercial theatre producers, as it is they who will ultimately be responsible for nearly all West End and regional touring productions”.

Stage One recently announced that it will offer two regional apprenticeships for emerging producers thanks to generous support from the Eranda Foundation. For more information on the Apprentice Scheme for New Producers contact Katie Harper at

News: Simon Russell Beale & John Simm to star in The Hot House

Jamie Lloyd Productions today announced that The Hothouse, Harold Pinter’s macabre tragicomedy will return to London’s West End in a new production this May. The Hothouse is next up in a thrilling season of work for Trafalgar Transformed, a joint initiative between director Jamie Lloyd (Donmar’s Passion, Broadway’s Cyrano de Bergerac, the National Theatre’s She Stoops to Conquer, Royal Court’s The Pride) and Howard Panter. It comes hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed Macbeth, starring James McAvoy, tickets for which have sold out. The Hothouse, with design by award-winning Soutra Gilmour, runs from 4 May to 3 August, with the press night on 9 May 2013.

Simon Russell Beale (Privates on Parade, National Theatre’s Timon of Athens and Collaborators) is playing Roote and John Simm (Elling, Sheffield Theatres’ Hamlet and Betrayal) is Gibbs. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Jamie Lloyd said "It is a dream come true to be working with Simon Russell Beale and John Simm on this funny, peculiar and frightening play as a part of Trafalgar Transformed. The Hothouse is the third Pinter project I have worked on (following The Caretaker and The Lover & The Collection) and I am thrilled to be introducing Harold's work to a young, diverse audience via our £15 Mondays ticket scheme."

It’s Christmas Day in a nameless state-run mental institution where the inmates are subjected to a tirade of mindless cruelty. A maniacal and self-obsessed leader breeds a contagion of hierarchical savagery amongst his staff, who thrive on a noxious diet of delusion and deceit.

The day got off to a lousy start!  A death and a birth.  Absolutely bloody scandalous!  Is it too much to ask – to keep the place clean?

Under a veil of devilish wit and subversive humour, Pinter’s biting political commentary on the perils of unchecked power is as vital and pertinent today as when it was written in the 50’s.

Simon Russell Beale was recently on stage in Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre. Other stage credits include The Seagull and The Tempest for the RSC, for the National Theatre; Hamlet (for which he won the Evening Standard Best Actor Award), Humble Boy (also in the West End), Jumpers (also in the West End and on Broadway), Much Ado About Nothing, Major Barbara, London Assurance, Collaborators and Timon of Athens (for which he won the Critics Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance in 2012).  Simon’s stage credits for the Donmar Warehouse include Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night (for which he won the 2002 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards). Further theatre credits include Spamalot at the Palace Theatre/Broadway, The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic and Deathtrap at the Noel Coward Theatre.  His film credits include The Deep Blue Sea and My Week with Marilyn.  On television, Simon’s credits include Henry IV Parts I & II, A Dance to the Music of Time (for which he won the BAFTA for Best Television Actor) and two series of Spooks and Sacred Music. Simon is an Associate Artist of the RSC and National Theatre.

John Simm’s stage credits include Speaking In Tongues at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Elling at the Bush Theatre and Trafalgar Studios (for which he was nominated for the Olivier and Theatregoer’s Choice Award for Best Actor 2008), Danny Rule at the Royal Court, Hamlet and Betrayal for Sheffield Theatres and Goldhawk Road at the Bush Theatre. John’s film credits include Everyday, Tuesday, Brothers of the Head, 24 Hour Party People, Wonderland, Human Traffic, Boston Kickout and Understanding Jane. On television, John’s credits include The Village, Mad Dogs, Exile (for which he was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor 2012), Doctor Who, The Devil’s Whore, Life on Mars (for which he was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor 2007), Blue/Orange, Sex Traffic, State of Play, Crime and Punishment, The Lakes and Cracker. 

As part of the Trafalgar Transformed season all tickets will be £15 on Mondays. Half of these will be made available through a special outreach scheme led by the Ambassador Theatre Group Creative Learning Department, targeted towards schools and first-time theatregoers. The other half will be released monthly to the public on the first day of each month for 24 hours, starting on 1 May 2013*, and will be available online or at Trafalgar Studios box office. Additionally, day seats will be available at £10 for all performances, Tuesday through Saturday (* Monday 6 May is excluded)

Harold Pinter wrote twenty-nine plays including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, twenty-one screenplays including The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant's Woman and Sleuth, and directed twenty-seven theatre productions, including James Joyce's Exiles, David Mamet's Oleanna, seven plays by Simon Gray and many of his own plays including his last, Celebration, paired with his first, The Room, at The Almeida Theatre in the spring of 2000. In 2005 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Other awards include the Companion of Honour for services to Literature, the Legion D’Honneur, the Laurence Olivier Award and the Moliere D'Honneur for lifetime achievement. In 1999 he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. He received honorary degrees from eighteen universities.

Jamie Lloyd's theatre credits include Macbeth starring James McAvoy, the first production for Trafalgar Transformed, Cyrano de Bergerac at the Roundabout; American Airlines Theatre, Broadway, The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic, She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre, The Faith Machine and The Pride (Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement) at the Royal Court, Inadmissible Evidence, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Passion (Evening Standard Award for Best Musical) and Polar Bears all at the Donmar Warehouse, Piaf at the Donmar/Vaudeville/Teatro Liceo, Buenos Aires/Nuevo Teatro Alcala, Madrid (Hugo Award for Best Director, Clarin Award for Best Musical Production and ADEET Award for Best Production), The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick Theatre, Three Days of Rain at the Apollo Theatre, The Lover and The Collection at the Comedy Theatre, Elegies: a Song Cycle at the Arts Theatre, The School for Scandal at Theatre Royal, Bath, Salome for Headlong, Eric's at Liverpool Everyman and The Caretaker at Sheffield Crucible and the Tricycle Theatre. Jamie was Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse from 2008 to 2011.

Jamie Lloyd Productions is a partnership with Jamie Lloyd and Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).

Howard Panter is a key figure in the Arts and Entertainment industry - topping The Stage 100 four times consecutively, from 2010 to 2013, alongside his wife and business partner, Rosemary Squire.  As co-founder, Joint CEO and Creative Director of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) Howard has worked on productions throughout the world.  He has been responsible for nurturing the talents of some of the brightest lights from film and television in the theatrical world, from Kristen Scott Thomas to Sheridan Smith. Howard is the stimulus behind some of the most important production companies in the West End, UK regions and Broadway, including Sonia Friedman Productions, Theatre Royal Brighton Productions and Jamie Lloyd Productions.  With over thirty years’ experience, Howard has worked with world-renowned organisations such as The Royal Court Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Michael Codron Ltd.

Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) was co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in 1992, and is the largest owner/operator of theatres in the UK with 39 venues, an internationally recognised theatre producer and a leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets. Current and recent ATG co-productions include Posh, Jumpy, and Constellations (Royal Court at the Duke of York’s), Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 the Musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot starring Marcus Brigstocke and Jon Culshaw and now Stephen Tompkinson. Coming in the new year: Passion Play by Peter Nichols starring Zoë Wanamaker directed by David Leveaux (a co-production with Tali Pelman Productions), The Rocky Horror Show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Maurice’s Jubilee. Recent productions include All New People starring Zach Braff, The Mystery of Charles Dickens starring Simon Callow, South Pacific starring Samantha Womack and Paulo Szot, Dandy Dick starring Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Prevost, Blue/Orange starring Robert Bathurst, Ghost the Musical, Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker!, Legally Blonde the Musical starring Sheridan Smith, Being Shakespeare (West End, Brooklyn Academy of Music), The Misanthrope starring Damian Lewis and Keira Knightley, West Side Story, Elling starring John Simm, Guys and Dolls starring Ewan McGregor, and in New York, The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, Exit the King starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon. Howard Panter, Adam Speers and Evanna White produce for Ambassador Theatre Group.


Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm

£10 - £54.50

As part of the Trafalgar Transformed season all tickets will be £15 on Mondays. Half of these will be made available through a special outreach scheme led by the Ambassador Theatre Group Creative Learning Department, targeted towards schools and first-time theatregoers. The other half will be released monthly to the public on the first day of each month for 24 hours, starting on 1 May 2013*, and will be available online or at Trafalgar Studios box office. (* Monday 6 May is excluded)

Daily Day seats will be available for £10. These are limited to one ticket per person and tickets can only be collected two hours before the performance time. 
Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall,
Westminster, SW1A 2DY
 0844 871 7632


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

News: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Trailer

The official video trailer has been released today for the world premiere stage production of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which stars Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka and is directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

The producers of the show – Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick - also announced that an extra performance would be added to the start of the run, so the show will now have its first preview on Friday 17thMay 2013.

The first images of rehearsals have also been made public, showing Sam Mendes working with Douglas Hodge and other members of the company.

Tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are on sale for performances from 17thMay 2013 until the end of the current booking period on Saturday 30thNovember 2013.

The new trailer can be viewed below.

Alongside Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka, the cast includes Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee, Billy Boyle as Grandpa George, Roni Page as Grandma Josephine and Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina.

Other cast will include Joe Allen, David Birch, Alex Louize Bird, Michelle Bishop, Matthew Clark, Alex Clatworthy, Jennifer Davison, Ross Dawes, Nia Fisher, Kate Graham, Derek Hagen, Clare Halse, Mark Iles, Daniel Ioannou, Kieran Jae, Mireia Mambo Bokele, Jane McMurtrie, Natalie Moore-Williams, Sherrie Pennington, Damien Poole, Antony Reed, Paul Saunders, Jack Shalloo and Jay Webb.

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors, and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.
ROALD DAHL’s deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life in a brand new West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (Midsummer; Creditors; Tintin In Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda).

Douglas Hodge is a four time Olivier-nominated actor/director, who has worked at the National Theatre, the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Court Theatre. On Broadway, he recently starred at the American Airlines Theatre in the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac, for the Roundabout Theatre Company. He won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his Broadway debut in La Cage Aux Folles, having already won the Olivier Award for the same performance in London. For ten years he worked closely with Harold Pinter, and he was Associate Director at the Donmar from 2007 to 2009. He has released two albums of his own compositions 'Cowley Road Songs' and 'Nightbus', and won the Stiles and Drewe 2012 Best New Song Award for ‘Powercut’. Alongside numerous television credits, his feature films include Vanity Fair, Robin Hood, the soon to be released Serena, andDiana – in which he plays Paul Burrell, butler to Diana, Princess of Wales.

This world premiere musical is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick.


Roald Dahl’s

Directed by Sam Mendes

Book by David Greig

Music by Marc Shaiman

Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman

Set and costume design by Mark Thompson

Choreography by Peter Darling

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5JF

Previews from 17 May 2013

Opening Night: Tuesday 25 June 2013, 7.30pm

Box Office: 0844 858 8877

To Book online visit:

Performance Times:

Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Wednesday & Saturday 2.30pm
(except 20-22 May, 27-28 May, 3-4 June, 5 June (matinee), 12 June (matinee), 26 June (matinee))

Ticket Prices:

£25.00, £32.50, £39.50, £49.50, £67.50
£10 off all tickets in preview period (18 May – 24 June).
Booking fees apply

Group Rates:

12+ Group Rate
Top price seats reduced to £45.00
Valid Mon-Thu evening & Wed matinee performances
Excludes w/c 27 May 2013, 25 June 2013 and w/c 28 October 2013
Subject to availability

Education Rates:

10+ Schools Rate
Seats up to £49.50 reduced to £25.00
Valid Tue-Wed evening and Wed matinee performances
Excludes 27 May – 1 Jun 2013, 25 Jun 2013, 22 Jul – 31 Aug 2013 and 28 Oct – 3 Nov 2013
Subject to availability

News: Before The Party - Production Images

Matthew Dunster directs Rodney Ackland’s Before The Party at the Almeida Theatre which runs until 11 May 2013, with press night on 28 March.  Based on a short story by Somerset Maugham, Before The Party has designs by Anna Fleischle with lighting by Philip Gladwell and sound by Ian Dickinson. Dunster’s production of Before The Party will be the first in over 25 years.

The cast comprises Stella Gonet (Blanche), Katherine Parkinson (Laura Skinner), Alex Price (David), Michelle Terry (Kathleen Skinner), Michael Thomas (Aubrey) and June Watson (Nanny).  They are joined by Polly Dartford, Anna Devlin and Emily Lane who will alternate the role of Susan Skinner. 

The war is over and the Skinner family are trying to return to normal. If only the blasted Government weren’t such a nuisance about the rations and Cook could get some more of those delicious delicacies. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering.  Amidst the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than one party on the climb to social success.


 Before The Party

                   Audio Described performance by VocalEyes 27 April 2013 at 2.30pm, Touch Tour at 1pm
                   Captioned performance 2 May 2013 at 7.30pm

 Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, Islington, London, N1 1TA        

The Almeida Cafe-Bar is open from 11.30am -11.00pm, Monday to Saturday

Box Office     Phone 020 7359 4404 (10am – 7.30pm)

In person 10.00am – 7.30pm, Monday – Saturday
preview prices £8 - £26, concessions available
after press night price £8 - £32, concessions available
day seats (2 per person) will go on sale at 11am on day of performance, in person from Box Office for all performances post press night

Islington First (if you live or work in Islington) £20, check box office for dates
Under 30s £16 for Monday performances
Regular performances are Monday - Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 2.30pm, Press Night at 7pm

                        Extra matinee Wednesday matinee performances at 2.30pm are 10 April and 1 May 2013

News: Once Production Images

The London production of Once, which is in previews at the Phoenix Theatre opens on 9 April and is currently booking to 30 November 2013. 

Once has book by award-winning Irish playwright and screenwriter Enda Walsh. Based on the 2007 motion picture written and directed by John Carney, music and lyrics are by Academy Award® winning Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová who, for Falling Slowly, won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Scenic and costume designs are by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Clive Goodwin, musical supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe and movement by Steven Hoggett. The Martin Guitar Company is the proud sponsor of Once.

The cast comprises Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešić as Guy and Girl respectively, joined by Valda Aviks, Ryan Fletcher, Aidan Kelly, Gareth O’Connor, Michael O’Connor, Miria Parvin, Jos Slovick, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Jez Unwin and Gabriel Vick. Alternating the role of Girl’s young daughter Ivanka will be Poppy-Lily Baker, Mia-Jai Bryan, Pacha Anna Greenand Nancy Ann Jeans.

Based on the much-loved Oscar-winning film, Once is a celebration of love, friendship and music. When an Irish busker and a young Czech mother meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected.

Having received the most nominations (35) in the 2012 theatre award season, Once went on to become the recipient of 21 awards, the most on Broadway that year. As well as winning eight Tony awards including Best New Musical, Once was named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards. The Broadway cast recording of Once was named Best Musical Theater Album in the 2013 Grammy® Awards. The New York production of Once, the fastest Broadway musical to recoup in 16 years, opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in March 2012 where it continues to break box office records. Once will begin a US national tour launched by The Road Company in the summer of 2013.

Actor singer songwriter Declan Bennett (Guy) has appeared on Broadway and in the West End. His theatre credits include Rent and American Idiot on Broadway, Taboo at the Venue Theatre and It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow and Our Day Out for the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Following success as a member of the band Point Break, he released his first solo album The Painters Ball in 2005. Bennett’s most recent album Record: Breakup was released in April 2011 preceded by An Innocent Evening of Drinking in 2008. His film credits include Inside Llewyn Davis, Contagion and Downtown Express.

Croatian born Zrinka Cvitešić (Girl), a theatre, film and television actor, has been a member of the Croatian National Theatre since 2005 where her roles included Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Irina in Three Sisters, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gwendoline in The Importance of Being Ernest, Lulu inShopping and Fucking and Jenny in The Threepenny Opera. For her performance in What is a Man Without a Moustache? she won several awards including The Heart of Sarajevo Award and Best Actress Awards at the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Golden Arena Festival and the Pula Film Festival. For her performance as Luna in the award-winning On the Path she was named the Croatian Shooting Star at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival and also received a nomination in the Best Actress category at the 2010 European Film Awards. Her other film credits include The Horseman and most recently she won the Bernhard Wicki Award for Best Actress at the 2012 Münich Film Festival for her role in My Beautiful Country. In 2010 Cvitešić won Ples sa zvijezdama, the Croatian version ofDancing with the Stars.

Enda Walsh is an Irish playwright living in London. He is the winner of numerous international awards and his work has been translated and produced worldwide. His recent plays include Misterman,Penelope, The New Electrical Ballroom and The Walworth Farce. His other plays include Chatroom, The Small Things, Bedbound and Disco Pigs. On film his work includes Hunger which was the winner of the Camera d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival as well as being BAFTA nominated. Walsh was awarded with the Tony Award and the Outer Critic Circle Award for his work on Once.

John Tiffany won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Awards for his work on Once. For his production of Black Watch he won the Laurence Olivier and Critics' Circle Best Director Awards as well as a Scotsman Fringe First, a Herald Angel and a Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland. Tiffany was Associate Director for the National Theatre of Scotland from 2005 to 2012 where his productions included Macbeth, Enquirer, Peter Pan, The House of Bernarda Alba, Transform Caithness: Hunter, Be Near Me, Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, The Bacchae, Black Watch, Elizabeth Gordon Quinn andHome Glasgow. His other work includes The Glass Menagerie (A.R.T.), Jerusalem for West Yorkshire Playhouse, Las Chicas del Tres y Media Floppies at the Granero Theatre, Mexico City and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, If Destroyed True, Mercury Fur and The Straits for Paines Plough, and Gagarin Way, Abandonment, Among Unbroken Hearts, Perfect Days and Passing Places for the Traverse, Edinburgh. From 1997-2001 Tiffany was Literary Director at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and from 2001 to 2005 was Associate Director at Paines Plough Theatre Company. During 2010-11 Tiffany was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.

Glen Hansard’s film credits are The Commitments and Once. His albums include Strict Joy, the Academy Award® winning soundtrack of Once, The Swell Season, The Cost, Burn the Maps, Set List: Live in Dublin, For the Birds, Dance the Devil, Fitzcarraldo and Another Love Song.

Markéta Irglová’s film credit is Once. Her albums include The Swell Season, the Academy Award® winning soundtrack of Once, Strict Joy and Anar.

Once was originally developed at the American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in April 2011. A developmental run of Once at New York Theatre Workshop began performances in November 2011. The production went on to break box office records and concluded a sold out engagement including a two week extension. The Oscar winning independent Irish film was shot in 17 days and was made for $150,000. It went on to gross $20m worldwide becoming a critically acclaimed international smash. The soundtrack was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

The original cast recording of Once is available via Masterworks Broadway, a label of Sony Masterworks -

The Producers of the West End production are Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo, Brian Carmody, Michael G. Wilson, Orin Wolf and Michael Rose Limited in association with New York Theatre Workshop.


Theatre: Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0JP
Dates: currently booking to 30 November 2013, press night 9 April at 7pm
Performances: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees 3pm

Prices: to 9 April 2013: £49.50 - £19.50, plus concessions

From 10 April – 30 November 2013: £67.50 - £19.50, plus concessions

A limited number of Day Seats at £19.50 each will go on sale from the Box Office, in person only, from 10am on the day of performance. All ticket prices include a restoration levy

Box Office: 0844 871 7629

News: Keeley Hawes Joins The Cast Of Barking In Essex

Keeley Hawes, Karl Johnson and Montserrat Lombard are joining the cast of Clive Exton’s comedy, BARKING IN ESSEX, starring Lee Evans and Sheila Hancock.  The play will premiere at Wyndham’s Theatre on Monday 16 September 2013, following previews from 6 September. 

Freedom finally beckons for lowlife con man Algie Packer.  He’s done seven years inside and now he’s coming home to spend his carefully stashed cash - £3.5million in untraceable notes.  But there’s something Algie’s family has forgotten to mention…  The Packers are your average dysfunctional Essex crime family with a big problem.  Are they going to be able to cover their tracks before Algie arrives home? 

Lee Evans (The Producers, Endgame, The Dumb Waiter) is hapless, dim-witted Darnley, Sheila Hancock (The Last of the Duchess, Sister Act, The Birthday Party) is Emmie, his mother and very much the boss of the family, and Keeley Hawes (Spooks, Ashes to Ashes, Upstairs Downstairs) is Chrissie, Darnley’s perma-tanned wife.  Karl Johnson (Lark Rise to Candleford, Noises Off and a long career at the National Theatre) plays their neighbour and friend Rocco, and Montserrat Lombard (St Trinian’s 2, Ashes to Ashes, Love Soup) plays Allegra, Archie’s high-class lawyer and girlfriend, whom he’s sent on ahead to retrieve the money.

Clive Exton’s writing credits include the highly-acclaimed film 10 Rillington Place, Poirot, and Jeeves and Wooster.  BARKING IN ESSEX will be directed by Harry Burton (The Dumb Waiter, The Leisure Society), with design by Simon Higlett, lighting by James Farncombe, sound by Gareth Owen and casting by Anne Vosser.  It will be produced in London by MJE Productions and James Quaife Productions.



Wyndham’s Theatre
Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0DA

Performances:  Monday-Saturday at 7.30pm*; Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm**
*7.00pm on Monday 16 September; ** no matinee on Saturday 7 September

Christmas 2013 performances:  no performances on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 December; additional matinee on Tuesday 31 December 

Tickets:  6-19 September: £22.50 - £42.50; from Friday 20 September: £22.50 - £52.50  

N.B.  The play contains bad language and is suitable for ages 16+
Box Office:  0844 482 5120