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Sunday at the Musicals - St James Studio

Marti Webb

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SUNDAY at the Musicals is a special one-night concert being produced by Paul Burton and Paul Burton Productions in aid of the Royal Variety Charity (formerly the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund).

This year’s concert will take place in the Studio Theatre of the St. James Theatre, London, on Sunday, June 5, 2016.

The production, hosted by Caroline Dennis, will feature female singers from the world of musical theatre performing songs from past and present musicals, accompanied by pianist, Michael Haslam.

Singers include Bronté Barbé, Natasha J. Barnes, Helena Blackman, Suanne Braun, Emily Jane Brooks, Sabrina Carter, Samantha Dorsey, Alice Fearn, Lori Haley Fox, Katie Rowley Jones, Margaret Keys, Joanna Kirkland, Sarah O’Connor, Liza Pulman, Emma Ralston, Amy Ross, Rachel Stanley, Carly Thoms, Rebecca Trehearn, Marti Webb (pictured), Shona White, Lucy Williamson and Pippa Winslow.

Carole Todd directs.

Time: 7.30pm.

For more information and to book tickets, visit

Through the Mill - final casting announced

Through the Mill

Casting news

FINAL casting has been announced for the musical play Through the Mill, which is transferring to Southwark Playhouse (The Large), where it runs from July 8 (previews from July 6) to July 30, 2016.

Joining previously announced Helen Sheals as CBS Judy, Belinda Wollaston as Palace Judy and Lucy Penrose as Young Judy are Harry Anton, Amanda Bailey, Carmella Brown, Rob Carter, Don Cotter, Chris McGuigan, Perry Meadowcroft, Tom Elliot Reade and Joe Shefer.

All are reprising the roles they originated in the play’s world premiere last December at London Theatre Workshop.

West-End veteran Don Cotter (Snoopy the Musical, Duchess Theatre, No Sex Please, We’re British, Garrick Theatre) returns to play MGM mogul, L.B. Mayer; Rob Carter (Fresh Meat and Peep Show, Channel 4) returns to play Hunt Stromberg Jr.; and Amanda Bailey (Antigone, King’s Head Theatre) and Joe Shefer (Laramie Project, London Theatre Workshop) play Garland’s parents Ethel and Frank Gumm.

Tom Reade is Garland’s arranger and lifelong friend Roger Edens; and Harry Anton returns to play Garland’s longest serving husband Sidney Luft. The rest of the company includes Carmella Brown, Chris McGuigan and Perry Meadowcroft.

The actor-musician company make up the onstage Judy Garland band, accompanying the three actresses playing Judy Garland on a number of hit songs, including The Trolley Song, The Man That Got Away and Over the Rainbow.

Set primarily during the filming of The Judy Garland Show in 1963, Through the Mill chronicles the production difficulties behind the scenes, intercut with the young Judy Garland’s rise to fame through MGM in the 1930s, and her triumphant sell-out concert engagement at the Palace Theatre in the early 1950s.

Read more about Through the Mill.

The Spoils - Alfie Allen and Katie Brayben join cast

Katie Brayben. Photo credit: Craig Sugden.

Casting news

ALFIE Allen (Game of Thrones), Katie Brayben (Beautiful – The Carole King Musical) and Annapurna Sriram (Billions) join previously announced Jesse Eisenberg and Kunal Nayyar to complete the cast of the European premiere of The Spoils.

Described as a razor-sharp new comedy, written by as well as starring Eisenberg, it transfers fo London’s Trafalgar Studios for a strictly limited season – from June 2 (previews from May 27) to August 13, 2016.

Alfie Allen (Ted) is best known for playing the role of Theon Greyjoy in the multi award-winning hit TV series Game of Thrones. His other TV credits include the upcoming Close To The Enemy, Accused, Moving On, Freefall, Casualty 1907, Coming Up, Joe’s Palace, Jericho and The Golden Hour.

His film credits include John Wick, Plastic, The Body, Confine, Powder, Freestyle, Soulboy, Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl and Stoned. Allen was last seen on stage in the national tour of Equus and he will be making his West End debut in The Spoils.

Katie Brayben’s (Sarah) theatre credits include My Mother Said I Never Should (St James Theatre); Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), for which she won the 2015 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical and was nominated for an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical Performance; King Charles III (Almeida Theatre/Wynham’s Theatre); American Psycho (Almeida Theatre); Ragtime The Musical and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); and 13 (National Theatre).

Brayben has also appeared in the film Vera.

Annapurna Sriram (Reshma) previously starred in The Spoils, alongside Jesse and Kunal, in The New Group Production, Off-Broadway, and she will make her West End debut reprising the same role. Her screen credits include Billions, alongside Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, and the series South of Hell with Mena Suvari and Zachary Booth. Sriram also has two forthcoming independent films – In Case of Emergency and Adrift.

Nobody likes Ben. Ben doesn’t even like Ben. He bullies everyone in his life, including his roommate Kalyan, an earnest Nepalese immigrant. When Ben discovers that his school crush is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back.

Read more about The Spoils.

The Old Vic - 2016/2017 season announced

Season preview

THE Old Vic has announced Artistic Director Matthew Warchus’ second season and it includes a wide-ranging programme that includes world premieres, new writing, musicals, classic revivals and The Old Vic Variety Nights.

There will also be a new strand of children’s programming to engage the next generation of theatregoers, demonstrating Matthew Warchus’ ‘something for everyone’ approach.


The world premiere of Samuel Beckett’s No’s Knife performed by Lisa Dwan – October 3 (previews from September 29) to October 15.

Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me?

No’s Knife sees Beckett exploring the powerful resilience to stay alive. Hard on the heels of a sold-out international tour of the Beckett Trilogy, Lisa Dwan presents a fresh and penetrating interpretation of this monologue. Recognised as modern theatre’s foremost adaptor of Beckett’s work, Dwan brings her unexpected and compelling voice to these hitherto unperformed writings.

William Shakespeare’s King Lear, directed by Deborah Warner and starring Glenda Jackson, with Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Melling – November 4 (previews from October 25) to December 3.

A quarter of a century after she gave up acting for politics, double Academy Award-winning legend Glenda Jackson returns to play the title role in Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy.

Yasmina Reza’s Art, translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Matthew Warchus – January 3 (previews from December 10) to February 18, 2017.

Three friends and a white painting. One of the most acclaimed plays of recent times, Art premiered in London twenty years ago and went on to become a phenomenon, winning Moliere, Evening Standard, Olivier and Tony Awards. Director Matthew Warchus reunites the entire original team to revisit Yasmina Reza’s dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance.

Jack Thorne’s new version of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, directed by Joe Murphy and starring John Boyega – March 7 (previews from February 25) to April 15, 2017.

People like us are unhappy in this world and in the next: if we made it to heaven, we’d have to help make it thunder.

The multi-award winning Jack Thorne breathes new life into Woyzeck, one of the most influential plays ever written, creating for our time what Büchner intended for his: an unforgettable howl of rage.

IN 2017 and Beyond

Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead .

Half a century after its premiere on The Old Vic stage, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the hugely acclaimed play that made a young Tom Stoppard’s name overnight, returns to The Old Vic in a 50th anniversary celebratory production.

Described as a mind-bending situation comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is set against the backdrop of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and sees two hapless minor characters, the titular Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, take centre stage.

Stoppard’s brilliantly funny, existential labyrinth offers us as window into a world where life and art collide.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – adapted for the stage by David Greig and directed by Max Webster.

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!

The irrepressible, big-hearted, moustachioed critter is back as Olivier-nominated Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax returns to The Old Vic stage.

Described as a dazzlingly funny, moving and inspiring show, it sees the go-getting Once-ler come face to face with the magical Lorax in a battle over the beloved truffula trees and the whole of Paradise Valley.

David Greig’s adaptation is a brilliant riot of eye-popping colour, gorgeous puppetry and infectious music to enchant adults and children alike.

Fanny and Alexander – adapted from the film by Ingmar Bergman by Stephen Beresford and directed by Max Webster.

The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. So let us be kind and generous. There should be no shame in us taking pleasure in our little lives.

Ingmar Bergman’s magical study of childhood, family and love is often considered one of the greatest films ever made. Now, adapted by BAFTA-winning writer Stephen Beresford, it becomes an epic theatrical event.

Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore – a new version by Nigel Hess and Christopher Luscombe, directed by Christopher Luscombe and with musical adaptation by Nigel Hess.

We sail the ocean blue and the Pinafore’s a beauty!

Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic HMS Pinafore has its decks scrubbed anew by Nigel Hess and Christopher Luscombe (composer and director of the recent West End hit Nell Gwynn) in what is described as a sparkling new adaptation which stays true to the much-loved original while borrowing from the rich Gilbert and Sullivan catalogue to create a show full of surprises.

There will also be a puppetry show, Missing Light, created by Mark Arends as part of a new programme of children’s theatre, while The Old Vic Variety Nights return for a second series.

Speaking about the new season, Artistic Director Matthew Warchus said:

“Anyone who has visited The Old Vic in the last eight months will have felt the new wave of energy which has swept through the building. There’s a completely fresh feel to the foyer, bars and café, and a completely fresh approach to how we programme our productions and events. There’s much more happening, and for a much wider range of people. For a theatre without public funding this is no mean feat. It’s an exciting shift, aimed at consolidating The Old Vic as a vibrant and indispensable part of London’s artistic scene.

“With my second season, we continue our mission to be a leading creative hub in the capital, and further afield, radiating an energising and unintimidating spirit, as we celebrate the best of what theatre can be.”

Currently at The Old Vic: Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, starring Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay (until May 14, 2016).

For more information or to book tickets call the box office on 0844 871 7628 or visit

The Secret Garden returns to the West End

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS SUMMER, the Tony award-winning musical The Secret Garden is returning to the West End, where it will play a six week season at the Ambassadors Theatre – from August 3 (previews from July 27) to August 31, 2016.

Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden has script and lyrics by Pulitzer prize and Tony award-winner Marsha Norman and music by Grammy award-winner Lucy Simon. It will be directed by Rupert Hands.

This special “Spring” version of the show has been adapted to 75 minutes by its creators to be performed by young people.

The Secret Garden comes from the same production team that was behind Annie Jr, which broke box office records last summer at the Arts Theatre, at the same time giving 350 youngsters the chance to act for the first time in the West End.

More than 2,000 children have auditioned for The Secret Garden and 300 youngsters will be cast in the show.

Producer Matthew Chandler of P2P Productions said: “This is the European premiere of a new version of The Secret Garden, specially adapted to be performed with just four adult actors and 20 children. We have 21 teams of child actors who will perform in rotation throughout the season. It is a fantastic opportunity for all the youngsters involved.”

Orphaned while living in India, 10 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire, England to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald, whom she has never met. There, the ill-tempered and lonely Mary meets Martha, a chambermaid, who tells her of a secret garden which belonged to her aunt Lily before she died.

Mary’s search for the garden introduces her to a slew of other characters including Dickon (Martha’s brother), Ben (the head gardener), Neville (her other uncle), and a spirited robin that seems to be trying to talk to her. This compelling tale of forgiveness and hope reveals that even the cruelest of environments can blossom with new life.

Director Rupert Hands said: “I’m very much looking forward to working on this beautiful musical with such an exciting company of young actors. Giving young people the opportunity to work on great shows in great spaces is vital for the future of theatre.”

The Secret Garden is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Produced by Matthew Chandler and Stephan Garcia for P2P Productions, The Secret Garden has musical direction by Richard Baker, choreography by Jamie Neale and costume and set design by Lizzy Leech. Resident Director is Julie Thomas and Resident Choreographer Katy Stephens.

To book tickets, call the box office on 020 7395 5405 or visit

The Donmar's Elegy - two pre-show discussions

Carrie (Barbara Flynn) and Lorna (Zoe Wanamaker). Photo by Johan Persson.

THE Donmar Warehouse’s new play Elegy, by Evening Standard Award-winning playwright Nick Payne, imagines a very-near future in which radical and unprecedented advances in medical science mean that it’s now possible to augment and extend life. This is a world in which the brain is no longer a mystery to us. But at what cost.

The Donmar Warehouse invites audiences to two pre-show discussions to explore the creative process behind Elegy.

Discussion: Memory, Identity and Sense of Self – May 17 from 6pm to 6.45pm. On stage at the Donmar Warehouse.

Director Josie Rourke and Deborah Bowman, Professor of Bioethics, Clinical Ethics and Medical Law discuss how memory, identity and sense of self intertwine, and the impact of their loss on individuals and those that love them.

Who are we when our memories are compromised, diminished or lost?

Tickets: £7.50 – available online at

Discussion: Neuroscience, Mortality and Ethics – June 14 from 6pm to 6.45pm. On stage at the Donmar Warehouse.

Playwright Nick Payne, Dr Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, and Murray Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London, explore how advances in neuro-science intersect with issues of morality and ethics.

What if every neuron in the human brain could be mapped and decoded?

Tickets: £7.50 – available online at

Both discussions are supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award.

Read more about Elegy, which continues at the Donmar Warehouse until June 18, 2016.

Romeo and Juliet - The Steiner Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PerformInternational are presenting Romeo and Juliet at The Steiner Theatre – from May 18 to June 11, 2016.

Romeo and Juliet, probably the best known love story in the world, addresses the theme of love in a particular context, one of hate, violence and aggression.

Families feud with families, individuals taunt and spew accusations and insults at each other, sticks and swords are drawn at the drop of a hat and the atmosphere of Verona – or London or any city in our troubled world – you can cut with a knife.

How can love like Romeo’s, like Juliet’s, so fragile, so tender, so true, so intense – not words we necessarily feel comfortable using today – be born and live in such an atmosphere? It seems impossible, and yet it happens. It survives for so short a time and it dies. Yet it transforms – transforms the hate, the violence and the aggression.

With music by acclaimed composer Gregers Brinch, Romeo and Juliet is directed by Sarah Kane and stars Manish Srivastava as Romeo and Victoria Jane Appleton as Juliet.

Steiner Theatre, Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road, London, NW1 6XT

Savage - full casting announced

Casting news

FULL casting has been announced for Claudio Macor’s Savage, which runs at the Arts Theatre from July 1 (previews from June 29) to July 23, 2016.

Previously announced cast members include Alexander Huetson (Phil Willmott’s Encounter, Above the Stag) as Nikolai Bergsen, Gary Fannin (The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Spectre, 24: Live Another Day) as Dr Carl Peter Værnet and Nic Kyle (The Grand Tour, Finborough Theatre, Closer to Heaven, Union Theatre) as Zack Travis.

They will be joined by Bradley Clarkson (Flames, Waterloo East Theatre, Murderer, Upstairs at The Gatehouse) as General Heinrich Von Aechelman. This follows his success in The Tailor-Made Man.

Other cast members include Lee Knight (Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre, Drama at Inish, Finborough Theatre, Archimedes Principle, Park Theatre) as Georg Jensen, Emily Lynne (She Loves Me and Romance Romance, Landor Theatre) as Ilse Paulsen, and Christopher Hines (Phil Willmott’s Encounter, Above The Stag, Aladdin, Newbury Corn Exchange, The Ring Cycle, the Scoop, Doctors, BBC) as Major Ronald Hemingway.

Kristian Simeonov (East 15 Acting School) completes the cast, making his London stage professional debut as Goran.

Described as a stylish new drama and love story, Savage uncovers the tragic tale of a Nazi doctor and his ill-conceived “cure” for homosexuality.

Read more about Savage.

Oil - Anne-Marie Duff and Yolanda Kettle star at the Almeida

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ANNE-Marie Duff (Husbands and Sons, Strange Interlude, Saint Joan, National Theatre) and Yolanda Kettle (Birdland, Royal Court Theatre) will play mother and daughter in Ella Hickson’s new play Oil, which runs at the Almeida Theatre from October 14 (previews from October 7) to November 26, 2016.

Previously Posted: Playwright Ella Hickson and director Carrie Cracknell make their Almeida debuts with the world premiere of Oil.

Described as an explosive new play which drills deep into the world’s relationship with this finite resource, it runs from October 14 (previews from October 7) to November 26, 2016.

The Stone Age. The Bronze Age. The Iron Age. The Age of Oil. The Stone Age didn’t end for want of stones. One woman and her daughter. What do you do when you know it’s going to run out?

An epic, hurtling crash of empire, history and family – Oil drives our imaginations from 1889 to 2016 and beyond.

Ella Hickson’s previous plays include Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC); Boys (Headlong/Nuffield Theatre, Southampton/HighTide Festival/Soho Theatre); The Authorised Kate Bane (Traverse Theatre); Gift (part of Decade for Headlong); Hot Mess (Arcola Theatre); Precious Little Talent (Trafalgar Studios); and Eight which played at Bedlam Theatre, P.S. 122 New York and Trafalgar Studios, and won the 2008 Fringe First Award.

In 2011, Hickson was the Pearson writer in residence at the Lyric Hammersmith. She was the recipient of the 2013 Catherine Johnson Award.

Carrie Cracknell’s production of Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea will open in June at the National Theatre where her past work includes Medea and Blurred Lines. Her credits elsewhere include Macbeth and A Doll’s House at the Young Vic, which transferred to the West End and Broadway, Birdland, Pigeons and Searched for the Royal Court, and Wozzeck at ENO.

Cracknell was Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, London from 2007 to 2012. She has also previously been Associate Director at both the Young Vic and the Royal Court.

Oil will be designed by Vicki Mortimer, with movement by Joseph Alford, lighting by Lucy Carter, composition by Stuart Earl and sound by Peter Rice. Casting is by Julia Horan.

Iris Theatre's Much Ado About Nothing and Treasure Island

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS summer, Iris Theatre is presenting William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s swash-buckling novel Treasure Island in promenade productions at St Paul’s (the Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden.

Much Ado About Nothing will be performed in the grounds and interior of St Paul’s from Wednesday, June 22 to Friday, July 22, 2016.

Much Ado About Nothing is a delightful celebration of the overwhelming power of love. Hero loves Claudio, and nothing, not even the scheming slander of a resentful Prince will stop them from being together. Beatrice hates Benedick, and Benedick despises Beatrice, but the more they bicker and fight, the deeper they will fall in love.

Described as a laugh-out-loud comedy for all ages, Much Ado About Nothing will be directed by Amy Draper, with set design by Amber Scarlett, costume design by Kinnetia Isidore, sound design by Filipe Gomes and lighting design by Benjamin Ploya. The producer is Tanja Pagnuco.

Much Ado About Nothing will be followed by a family friendly interactive version of Treasure Island. Perfect for buccaneer boys and pirate lasses aged 6+, it runs from July 27 to August 28. Pirate costumes are positively encouraged!

All hands on deck and get set for the adventure of a lifetime! Join the young Jim Hawkins aboard the Hispaniola on a daring voyage across the seven seas. Meet Long John Silver and his madcap crew on the hunt for Captain Flint’s hidden gold…but beware of the Black Spot!

Treasure Island will be directed by Daniel Winder, with set design by Valentina Turtur and costume design by Maddy Ross-Masso. The producer is Tanja Pagnuco.

Casting for both productions has yet to be announced.

Iris Theatre was created in 2007 to produce work at the world-famous St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. Growing year on year, Iris gained full charity status in October 2009 with a mission to support the development of the next generation of professional theatre practitioners and to produce a fresh and vibrant repertoire of varied work resulting in affordable and accessible theatre.

NB: The Box Office will be located at the Covent Garden Entrance, not on Bedford Street.