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Stiles and Drewe's Three Little Pigs - Palace Theatre

Gareth Gates

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

LEANNE Jones (as Bee), Simon Webbe (Wolf) and Gareth Gates (Q) will star in Stiles and Drewe’s Three Little Pigs, which runs at the Palace Theatre from August 5 to September 6, 2015 (mornings and afternoons only).

He can huff and puff until the cows comes home, but will the Big Bad Wolf get the better of the three little superstar piglets in this brand new retelling of the classic story?

Whatever happens, Three Little Pigs is full of catchy songs, jokes and japes for little ones and parents alike.

For her professional debut playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, Leanne Jones won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical, The Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer and Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She has also appeared in Molly’s Wobbly Tit Factory (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), and on The Voice on BBC1.

Best known as a member of the British boy band Blue selling over 15 million records and penning many of their hits, Simon Webbe has also released solo albums and had five UK Top 40 Singles. In 2008, he was a contestant on I’m a Celebrity… get me out of here! and last year, he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing with dancing partner Kristina Rihanoff. They ended the series as Runners-up and went on to win the Strictly Live Tour. He has previously appeared at the London Palladium in the West End musical production of Sister Act.

Gareth Gates is the youngest ever male solo artist to debut at number 1, with the million selling single Unchained Melody. Famously part of the inaugural Pop Idol Will Vs Gareth final in 2002, Gates has gone on to sell over five million records worldwide and star in Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Legally Blonde The Musical amongst others. He is currently on tour throughout the UK playing with his live band.

The cast also includes Taofique Folarin (The Lion King, Avenue Q) as Bar.

Three Little Pigs will be directed by Anthony Drewe and be designed by Jason Denvir.

Three Little Pigs is suitable for ages 3+.

Running time: 50 minutes.

The Commitments continues at the Palace Theatre until November 1, 2015.

Pure Imagination, The Songs of Leslie Bricusse - St James Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PURE Imagination, The Songs of Leslie Bricusse, directed by Tony nominated Christopher Renshaw, will receive its world première at St. James Theatre (Main House), where it runs for a 4-week season – from Thursday, September 24 to Saturday, October 17, 2015.

Pure Imagination celebrates the songs of Leslie Bricusse, one of the most prolific and well loved film and musical theatre songwriters of our time.

Whether writing alone or forming magical partnerships with the likes of Anthony Newley, Henry Mancini, John Williams and John Barry, double Oscar and Grammy Award winner Leslie Bricusse’s music has touched us all.

He has composed over 1,000 songs and written the book, music and/or lyrics for more than 40 musical films and plays over a 60-year career. This heartwarming and uplifting show includes such favourites as What Kind Of Fool Am I, If I Ruled The World, Talk To The Animals, Feeling Good, Goldfinger and many, many more.

Leslie Bricusse has been nominated for 10 Oscars, nine Grammys and four Tonys and won eight Ivor Novello Awards in an illustrious career. His composing started as a student at Cambridge, where he co-authored, directed and performed in his first two musical shows, Out of the Blue and Lady at the Wheel, both of which transferred to London’s West End.

He spent the first year of his professional life writing another musical, The Boy on the Corner and the screenplay and score of his first motion picture, Charley Moon, which won him his first Ivor Novello Award. His later stage musicals include Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, Pickwick, Harvey, The Good Old Bad Old Days, Goodbye Mr Chips, Henry’s Wives, Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde, Noah’s Ark, Sammy, Cyrano de Bergerac Kennedy, Victor/Victoria and It’s a Dog’s Life!

Christopher Renshaw (Director) began his career in the 1970s directing opera at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House. His acclaimed production of The King and I began in Australia, and was mounted on Broadway and in the West End. Another production of The King and I opened on Broadway starring Donna Murphy (she won the Best Actress Tony Award) and Lou Diamond Phillips to rave reviews. Renshaw received the 1996 Drama Desk Award as well as Tony and Outer Critics’ Circle nominations for his direction, and the revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival.

In 2002, he directed the world premiere of Taboo, using the music of Boy George, in London. It later transferred to Broadway and was revived in London in 2012, when it was co-produced by Danielle Tarento. His production of The Gipsy King’s Zorro has been seen in London, Amsterdam, Moscow, Tokyo and Paris. After opening at The Alliance Theatre, Atlanta last year, it is now on its way to Broadway.

We Will Rock You ran at the Dominion Theatre for 12 years.

Pure Imagination is presented by Danielle Tarento (also Casting Director), who was named Best Producer at the 2012 Off West End Awards and nominated Producer of the Year at the 2015 Stage awards. Her production of Titanic at Southwark Playhouse won Best Off West End Production at the 2014 Whatsonstage Awards and Best Musical Production at the 2014 Off West End Awards.

She has also produced Gods And Monsters, Dogfight, Victor/Victoria, Mack & Mabel, Parade, Company and Three Sisters (Southwark Playhouse); The Grand Tour (Finborough Theatre); Taboo (Brixton Clubhouse); The Pitchfork Disney (Arcola Theatre); Burlesque, Drowning On Dry Land (Jermyn Street Theatre); and Noël And Gertie (Cockpit Theatre). She is co-founder of the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Pure Imagination has musical direction, orchestrations and vocal/dance arrangements by Michael England. Casting has still to be announced.

Tickets: from £15 – available from the box office on 0844 264 2140 or online at www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Wedneday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Also at St James Theatre: McQueen, a journey into the visionary imagination and dark dream world of Alexander McQueen (until June 27); Songs for a New World, with the unforgettable songs of Jason Robert Brown (July 22 to August 8); and Stardust Road, a toe-tapping journey through Hoagy Carmichael’s masterful musical score (October 27 to November 21, 2015).

An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli - London Palladium

Liza Minnelli

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ON SUNDAY, September 20, 2015, Rocco Bunvino Productions are presenting An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli at the London Palladium.

Currently in her sixth decade of performing, Liza Minnelli is the winner of four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a Grammy, two Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy and a BAFTA, and remains one of the world’s most consummate performers and beloved entertainers.

For her work in film and on record, stage and television, she has won critical acclaim, a multitude of fans, and recognition from her peers in show business, giving new dimension and credibility to the word ‘superstar.’

Now Minnelli is to follow in the footsteps of Hollywood movie greats Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino, John Travolta and Arnold Schwarzenegger by getting up-close and personal with her British fans on stage in the West End.

An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli promises to be a truly un-missable event. Unlike her concerts, Minnelli will be interviewed for 90 minutes live on stage about her extraordinary career – from growing up in Hollywood to the present day. The evening will end will a few intimate songs, with Minnelli accompanied by her long time musical director and pianist, Billy Stritch. There will also be a Q&A session with her fans in the audience.

Minnelli said: “I’m always so excited to return to Britain, which I’ve considered to be a second home for many years. I have so many friends there and I look forward to being back again for these special intimate evenings. Whenever I do concerts people always say they want to hear about me growing up, being on Broadway, in the movies, the people I’ve met and worked with… so this will give me a chance to share a lot more of those stories. I can’t wait to see you all again!”

An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli will be the star’s fiftth engagement at the London Palladium – her first was in 1964 when she and her mother, Judy Garland, sold out two special concerts. She also appeared there in solo concert runs in 1973, 1978 and 1986.

To celebrate this, Minnelli will be inducted into the London Palladium Hall of Fame – her photo will be hung next to her mother and alongside Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and the other American stars who have performed at the venue from the 1950s to the present day.

Liza Minnelli was born in Los Angeles and made her screen debut as a toddler in the musical In the Good Old Summertime in 1949. One of the world’s best-loved entertainers, she won Tony awards for Flora, the Red Menace in 1965, Liza at the Winter Garden in 1977, The Act in 1978 and Liza’s at the Palace in 2009.

Nominated for an Academy Award® for The Sterile Cuckoo in 1969, she went on to win the Best Actress prize for her best-known film, Cabaret (1973), which also won her a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA. She won an Emmy for Liza with a Z (1972) and was also the recipient of a Grammy Legend Award in 1990 making her one of the few artists who have won entertainment’s top six awards.

Her other film credits include Charlie Bubbles (1967), Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), Lucky Lady (1975), A Matter of Time (1976), New York, New York (1977), Arthur (1981), Stepping Out (1991), and Oh In Ohio (2006).

Tickets for An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli are available at www.seetickets.com/.

Also at the London Palladium: Beyond Bollywood, a colourful dance extravaganza celebrating the history and resonance of Indian arts (until June 27, 2015).

NB: There will also be An Intimate Evening with Liza Minnelli in Sheffield at the City Hall on Tuesday, September 22 and at the Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow on Thursday, September 24, 2015.

The Barbican's Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch - how to get £10 tickets

Star Trek Into Darkness

SONIA Friedman Productions, in partnership with Sky Arts, has allocated 100 £10 tickets, spread throughout the auditorium, for every performance of Lyndsey Turner’s production of Hamlet.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, it runs at the Barbican Theatre from August 25 (previews from August 5) to October 31, 2015.

Sixty of the Sky Arts £10 tickets will be sold in advance via the Barbican website in an on-line ticket ballot and 30 will be available each day as day-seats. The final 10 will be sold via a select number of charities who work with under-privileged young people. In total, there will be over 8,500 £10 seats made available for this production during the run.

From 10am today (Friday, May 29) and until 10am on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, the general public will have the opportunity to enter the lottery ticket ballot by visiting hamlet.barbican.org.uk/ to apply for up to two tickets. On Friday, June 19, 2015, the successful applicants will be notified by email with further information about how to purchase their winning tickets from Monday, June 22 onwards.

In addition, from time to time, small numbers of tickets in other price bands will be released for advance sale online, please visit hamlet-barbican.com/ for up-to-date information.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this fantastic scheme with Sonia Friedman Productions. At Sky Arts we firmly believe that the Arts should be accessible to everyone – and it is wonderful that this hotly anticipated production of Hamlet will be open for so many more people to share.”

The Hamlet cast also includes Leo Bill as Horatio, Sian Brooke as Ophelia, Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, Ciarán Hinds as Claudius, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Laertes and Jim Norton as Polonius. Read more.

Full casting will be announced soon.

In Hamlet, a country is arming itself for war while a family is tearing itself apart. Forced to revenge his father’s death but paralysed by the task ahead, Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of the state.

Hamlet will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on Thursday, October 15, 2015 as part of National Theatre Live.

Read more about Hamlet, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lyndsey Turner.

Mr Foote's Other Leg - Simon Russell Beale stars at Hampstead

Mr Foote's Other Leg

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RICHARD Eyre will direct Simon Russell Beale in Ian Kelly’s Mr Foote’s Other Leg, which runs at Hampstead Theatre (Main Stage) from September 14 to October 17, 2015.

Being celebrated is not the same as fame Mr Foote, therein lies the death of kings.

In Georgian London no one is more famous than Samuel Foote. Satirist, impressionist and dangerous comedian, he has become a celebrity in a city and at a moment in time when the concept of selling personality was born. He even has the ear of the king.

Adored by many, despised by some, Foote finds himself at the sharp end of attacks from the press and a surgeon’s knife. And in an age obsessed with fame, his colleagues from the worlds of science and the stage – from Benjamin Franklin to David Garrick – begin to wonder: does fame make you mad?

Described as a riotously funny new play, Mr Foote’s Other Leg is based on Kelly’s award-winning biography of Foote and explores our obsession with celebrities.

Kelly’s other biographies include Antonin Careme, Beau Brummell, Giacomo Casanova (Sunday Times Biography of the Year 2008), and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Richard Eyre returns to Hampstead following the sell out hit The Last Of The Duchess. His recent theatre credits include Ghosts (Alemida Theatre/West End), The Pajama Game (Chichester/West End) and Guys and Dolls (National Theatre).

BAFTA and Olivier award-winner Simon Russell Beale will be making his Hampstead debut in Mr Foote’s Other Leg. His recent theatre credits include King Lear (National Theatre) and Privates on Parade (West End). He is currently playing The Dean in Steve Waters’ new play Temple at the Donmar Warehouse.

Further casting for Mr Foote’s Other Leg has still to be announced.

Also at Hampstead Theatre: the UK premiere of Luna Gale (June 13 to July 18, 2015).

The Finborough's Alpha Beta - casting announced

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for the first major London revival for more than 40 years of Ted Whitehead’s Alpha Beta, which runs at the Finborough Theatre from Thursday, June 18 to Sunday, July 19, 2015.

Tracy Ifeachor plays Norma, with Christian Roe as Frank.

You know… when a structure has lost its essence but retained its shape, the geologists call it: a Pseudomorph. A false shape. That’s our marriage.

Mr and Mrs Elliot have imprisoned themselves within a domestic incarceration of marriage, family and society’s twitching curtains. Battling through their self-made entrapment for the sake of the kids, they soon begin to destroy each other through an ugly routine of rows, affairs and suicidal blackmail.

Written with a controlled irony and an underlying compassion for its tormented characters, Ted Whitehead’s bold and unflinching play asks questions about the choices we make to fit in with social conventions – questions that are just as relevant now as they were in 1972.

Originally performed at the Royal Court and in the West End with Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts, this new staging directed by Purni Morell and designed by Verity Quinn, takes the Finborough Theatre back to its original use, transforming the space into a domestic living room where the brutal examination of a disintegrating marriage takes place.

Tracy Ifeachor’s theatre includes Welcome to Thebes (National Theatre), Raisin in the Sun (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), As You Like It (The Curve, Leicester) and Noughts and Crosses (Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and on tour). On screen, she has appeared in Take Down and Blooded (film); Doctor Who, Hawaii Five-O, The Originals, John Malkovich’s Crossbones, Jo, Strike Back and Casualty (TV).

Christian Roe’s theatre includes Stand (Oxford Playhouse), Seesaw, How Nigeria Became and The Velveteen Rabbit (Unicorn Theatre), Monkey Bars (Unicorn Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and UK Tour), Roaring Trade (Paines Plough at Soho Theatre), The Power of Yes (National Theatre) and Sixty-Six Books (Bush Theatre). He has also appeared on television in Skins: Fire, Wallander, Walter’s War, Criminal Justice and White Heat.

Playwright Ted Whitehead’s first play, The Foursome, premiered at the Royal Court Upstairs in 1971 and transferred to the West End. His other works include The Sea Anchor, Mecca and Old Flames, and an adaptation of The Dance of Death at the Riverside Studios starring Alan Bates. He has also written extensively for television, including adaptations of The Life and Loves of a She Devil and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Presented in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, Alpha Beta has lighting by Phil Bentley. Assistant Director is Anastasia Osei-Kuffour.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.

Theatre and Dance at Rich Mix - July 2015

RICH Mix has four productions lined up for the first half of July 2015.

Scary Shit – Upstairs on Saturday, July 11 at 8pm. Tickets: £10, £8 concessions.

A humorous, naughty, risk-taking dance/theatre piece that looks at human obstacles and how we can challenge and conquer our fears.

The Eulogy of Toby Peach – Upstairs on Saturday, July 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £8, £6 concessions.

Toby’s delivering his Eulogy. Join him at the Cancer Club, complete with chemotherapy cocktails and Willy Wonka stem cells. An honest and inspiring discovery of self-mortality and celebration of life.

Freestyle Live – in the Main Space on Saturday, July 11 at 8pm. Tickets: £7, £5 concessions.

Freestyle Live is an interactive event in which dancers become more than dancers; having to use all their skills of entertainment through challenges judged by the audience.

The Misfit Analysis – Upstairs on Sunday, July 12 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £8, £6 concessions.

Cian has autism. He likes to spin tin openers. But he’s not an idiot. Using multi-media and performance poetry, Cian playfully questions ideas around disability in society.

Read about June at Rich Mix.

To buy tickets, call the box office on 020 7613 7498 or visit www.richmix.org.uk/.

The Pajama Men and cast of The Play That Goes Wrong join this year's 50-Hour Improvathon

The Pajama Men

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ACCLAIMED American improv stars, The Pajama Men, are the latest big name signings to be anounced for the eighth annual 50-Hour Improvathon, which takes place at Lost Theatre from 7pm on Friday, May 29 to 9pm on Sunday, May 31, 2015.

The Pjama Men – Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez – hailed by The Guardian this week as the biggest influence on an entire generation of improv and comedy acts, will help get the event off to a stunning start on Friday evening.

Others now confirmed include:

Members of the Best Comedy Olivier Award-winning West End show, The Play That Goes Wrong, including Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, Bryony Corrigan and Nancy Wallanger.

Members of The Comedy Store Players and Paul Merton’s Impro Chums – Lee Simpson plus others.

Cariad Lloyd (Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Newcomer nominee and star of her own show for BBC3 – The Cariad Show).

Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy in Game Of Throne)

Dan Starkey (as well as playing long-running character Strax in BBC1’s Doctor Who, he recently appeared on University Challenge).

Ruth Bratt (seen in Ricky Gervais’ Derek (Channel 4); BBC’s Mongrels: Vic Reeves’ Ministry Of Curious Stuff and BBC3’s People Just Do Nothing).

Mark Meer (Canadian Screen Award nominee and Canadian Comedy Award winner, known worldwide as the voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect trilogy. A veteran of over 25 improvathons!).

Paul Foxcroft.

Members of Showstopper and Austentatious.

RSC actors Alan Cox, Joseph Chance and Oliver Senton.

London Cabaret Award Winner Sarah Louise Young.

This year’s 50-Hour Improvathon is an hilarious homage to all things Hollywood, featuring leading improvisers from the UK and overseas, playing a range of lovable and eccentric characters in modern-day Los Angeles. Screen sirens, budding starlets, struggling writers, crazed directors, big-shot producers… it takes all sorts to make the most successful movie studio in the world!

“This year’s setting is a celebration of all the movies we know and love – with a dose of red-carpet Hollywood glamour,” promises the event’s director, Adam Meggido.

A core group of around 20 actors will play the whole 50 hours, going without sleep, with guest performers dropping in from time to time. There will be a band throughout and an all night bar!

As the performers become increasingly sleep-deprived they lose the ability to censor themselves and an extraordinary new playing style emerges. Wild, unpredictable, funny and engaging, this is live theatre at its most exciting. It’s like watching an entire DVD box-set of your favourite drama in one viewing.

There is also a special ‘Family Episode’ (Sunday 11am – 1pm) where the action is suitable for children.

Director Adam Meggido is the co-creator of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (BBC R4, three West End runs, seven sell-out Edinburgh Festivals, UK and international tours, West End Live, The Olivier Awards); The School Of Night (with Ken Campbell – Royal National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and BBC Radio 3); and is currently the world record holder for the longest continuous direction of improvisation (55 hours, Toronto December 2013).

He is also a writer, composer and director, his musical Burlesque winning four Off West End Theatre Awards in 2012 including Best New Musical.

How it works: Each episode lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes followed by a 15-minute break. Episodes start at 7pm, 9pm, 11pm, 1am, 3am etc – right the way through the night. Audiences can buy tickets for any stand-alone episode or watch as many hours as they like. Many brave the whole extravaganza with a 50-hour pass.

Tickets: £10 for a two-hour episode (£7 concessions). £5 to stay on for any subsequent episodes. These can only be bought at the venue on the day. £55 for a full event pass (was £45 if bought by April 1). To book, call the box office on 020 7622 9208 or visit www.losttheatre.co.uk/.

Brudermord: The Puppet Hamlet - Shakespeare’s Globe

Brudermord: The Puppet Hamlet

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS Sunday (May 31, 2015), Shakespeare’s Globe is hosting a bizarre and exclusive event: a slapstick comedy version of Hamlet. Entitled Brudermord: The Puppet Hamlet, it will be performed by candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – and by puppets.

After a mysterious, hilariously slapstick German Hamlet was found in the archives of a German monastery in 1710, Texan company The Hidden Room Theatre worked with Oxford University’s Tiffany Stern to recreate this historic eccentric event as it may have originally been performed: a puppet show.

The comical-tragical-historical Hamlet will be performed by beautiful hand-carved marionette puppets and their human narrators, in English, and by candlelight.

The 4pm performance will begin with a short introduction to the play and the production by Beth Burns, artistic director of The Hidden Room Theatre.

The 7pm performance will begin with a short introduction to the German original and the production by Professor Tiffany Stern (University College, Oxford).

Brudermord: The Puppet Hamlet is suitable for ages 6+. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets: £17.50, £12.50 concessions, £10 (children under 16 at 4pm performance). To book, call the box office on 0207 401 9919 or visit www.shakespearesglobe.com/education/events/performances/puppet-hamlet.

Times: 4pm and 7pm.

Running time: 80 minutes.

It’s a Wonderful Life - David Benson joins cast

David Benson

Casting news

DAVID Benson has joined the cast of It’s a Wonderful Life. Performed as a radio play, it visits Richmond Theatre on Sunday, June 21, 2015, as part of a UK tour.

Benson will play four characters – Pa Bailey, Mr. Gower, Mr Potter and Officer Bert.

Benson starred in a series of award-winning one-man shows about Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, Noël Coward and Princess Diana. He also appeared in over 1,000 performances of the acclaimed One Man, Two Guvnors at the National Theatre and in the West End.

The rest of the cast are Oliver Stoney (as George Bailey), Richard Albrecht, Lynsey Beauchamp, Benjamin Chamberlain and Augustina Seymour.

It’s A Wonderful Life is the iconic story of idealist George Bailey, whose dreams look set to be dashed by small-town scandal and big business. Alone on a bridge, contemplating life, he decides that everyone would be better off without him… or would they? It falls to hapless guardian angel, Clarence, to try and save him.

This new British production is a loving tribute to the golden era of the wireless and a fresh take on a heartwarming and timely movie classic.

Read more about It’s A Wonderful Life.

For more information or to book, visit www.wonderfultour.co.uk/