Category Archives: News

London’s Small Theatres

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A recent BBC news story that grabbed my attention was about the future of London’s small theatres.  A small theatre is one that has a capacity  of 300 or less.  The closest I’d got to a small theatre earlier this year was seeing performances in studio spaces but earlier this year I visited the Union Theatre in London to see the musical Bare.  I was blown away at the theatre space and at the time had plans to blog about it but they were way laid with work commitments and so never happened (although when I see the transfer of Bare at Greenwich Theatre in October I’ll endevour to blog).

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The Lion King is almost here!!

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So it’s almost time for Simba and co to come to Birmingham! The Lion King opens at Birmingham Hippodrome next Friday (the 28th June).  It’s the big summer show this year, running until September 28th.  Having seen the show in London I can assure you that it is a fantastic production that brings the classic film to life.  I still need to get my tickets for the tour (hint, hint to any generous readers!) but let me know what you think if you see it.

I  came across this video on YouTube – it’s by an amazingly talented guy called Nick Pitera who has done several videos in which he performs as multiple people – including a lot of Disney.  In this video, made to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Broadway production, he got a little bit of help to make a special Lion King video…. Enjoy!

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Ghost the Musical

With the big press conference last week announcing the Spice Girls musical, the quiet confirmation that Ghost the Musical would be closing in October became louder amongst theatre goers.  Although many knew already, and others had heard rumours before the cast knew there’d been no big announcement and with the show having similar rumours state side (though hopefully with no truth) it could be that the journey for Ghost the Musical is coming to a more permanent end than what would be liked.

Some of you may remember when this blog first started I ranted and raved about this show – before I’d even seen it I was obsessed with the soundtrack and I got a chance to see it in October and loved it.  It’s a fantastic show and I can only recommend that people go see it while they have the chance.  I can only hope it tours as I think it’d do well – though they’d have to compromise with some of the set pieces that are just phenomenal.

Anyway, I wanted to post this blog to say go see it if you have the chance and also to post this video.  When Ghost the Musical first started it really embraced social media.  Before the show even premiered/previewed they streamed a showcase of the soundtrack live from Abbey Road – this video is a highlights package of that:

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Godspell – Cast of 2032

ImageThis is awesome!! It’s great to see shows embracing the community, whether it be fun days that appear to be popping up in the West End or more ambitious things like this from the current Broadway revival of Godspell, seeing shows opening themselves up for more interaction is always a good thing.

So what is this all about? Well the production of Godspell held open auditions for children aged 6-16 to perform a medley of songs from the show after a performance infront of a paying audience, with the show’s crew, set and orchestra – maximising the Broadway experience for these young people.  What was produced is shown in the video below.  You never know – some of these kids might be the next big thing!

“The GODSPELL Cast of 2032″ features Gaten Matarazzo as “Jesus,” Danny Ward as “John the Baptist/Judas,” Montana Byrne as Anna Maria, Grace Capeless as Celisse,Zoe Considine as Morgan, Jon Viktor Corpuz as Telly, Alec Gallazzi as George,Rebecca Goldfarb as Lindsay, Analise Scarpaci as Uzo and Evan Smolin as Nick.  Holly Block is the swing.

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Chichester Festival Theatre – the book!

I know, you’re all waiting for blogs on Idina Menzel and Ghost the Musical – I know you’re all refreshing the blog every five minutes and sighing in frustration when nothing comes up then getting ready to throwing the computer out the window when I blog about something completely different.  Please don’t open that window – but bare with me as I will blog about them – hopefully within the week.  It’s been a tad busy (unusally) and things are going on the wayside.

Anyways, as you know, I have a very special relationship with Chichester Festival Theatre.  One of the best shows I’ve seen this year was Singin’ In The Rain there in August and next week I venture back down there to see Sweeney Todd with Micheal Ball playing the title role.  Next year it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary.  It doesn’t seem 10 years since I had my first driving lesson to a rehearsal for the youth theatre’s first main house production to celebrate 40 years (was not the best and it’s been wiped from history…. A Story About Listening was a bit of a disaster….).  Over the past 10 years it’s gone from strength to strength moving effortlessly away from becomming an ice rink as some Chichester residents were suggesting for it to become when it was going through some troubles.

To mark it’s milestone, the theatre are releasing a book, and much like how the theatre was founded is asking the public to help with it.  This video explains it.  My name’s going to be printed in it, if you value local theatre or Chichester, get yours in it too.

For more information go to http://unbound.co.uk/books/15

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How Matilda the Musical became a success : Telegraph Theatre

Today being Roald Dahl day I wanted to point you all in the direciton of this interview from the Telegraph.  The interview with the director Matthew Warchus, playwright Dennis Kelly, and the composer Tim Minchin is a fantastic insight into how it evolved from an idea to a sell out RSC Stratford success and now heading to the bright lights of London town.  

How we turned Matilda into a musical triumph

Over the coming days I hope to share with you the review of the preview I went to last December and also a review of the soundtrack which I hope will land on my door mat tomorrow morning!

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News: Discrimination at Wicked – UPDATED .

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FURTHER UPDATE 8/8 Statement from ATG in comments

The following has just been brought to my attention on facebook:

‘Wicked’ Discrimination at The Apollo 

 

What you are about to read is a personal account on behalf of our son Gregor aged 12, regarding a recent visit to the Apollo Theatre, Victoria, London on the evening of Friday 22nd July 2011 to see ‘Wicked’-The story of the Wicked Witch of the West. I don’t know if you have seen this show but it is about someone, who due to being different is subjected to bullying, discrimination and ridicule her whole life.

 

Myself, and Jennifer my wife, have two children, Gregor, 12 and Emily, 9. Gregor has a condition called Neuronal Migration Disorder, is on the Autistic spectrum, suffers from epilepsy and struggles with his balance. Vocally Gregor communicates using vowel sounds to sound like words. Behind the huge smiles, Gregor is a very happy and clever little boy with an absolute abundance of affection, which in turn has touched the lives of many people. Emily is a fantastic young carer to her big brother and we as a family are very close.

 

At the show, from the very start, Gregor was really enjoying himself. He wasn’t making any more noise than any other child at a show or in the cinema would make, certainly nothing out of context, or disruptive. We are constantly assessing situations that affect Gregor and others around him and would most definitely have taken Gregor out of the show if he had been affecting any other member of the audiences’ enjoyment.

Fifteen minutes into the show, the front of house manager approached us and advised that we had two options. One – Gregor watched from behind a glass partition or Two- that we leave the theatre. The glass partition was completely unpractical- I even struggled to see over it! I asked to see the General Manager and queried the manner of the complaint. I was told –quote-,”it was our precious sound engineer”. I asked if any of the audience had complained and was told, “No.” One member of the audience for who we are very thankful for even stood up to fight our corner.

 

Something I will never forget, is the look of shock and surprise in the many faces of the audience nearby as we were asked to leave and for the humiliation caused to Gregor. The saddest part of it all was the look of sheer enjoyment on his face being wiped out as I had to tell him we had to leave.
At the interval, my wife and daughter were approached again to make sure they were ok and would like anything eg. Sweets/Drinks, from the obvious visual upset caused earlier. My wife’s response was an obvious one, “Yes, my son and my husband back.”

 

I was left with no choice but to take Gregor back to the hotel. I should say at this point that we live in the North of Scotland and were visiting London as part of our holiday. Jennifer stayed with Emily to watch the show but then had to find her way across London alone with our young daughter. Emily was extremely upset as to how her brother had been treated and all the excitement of going to the show was completely spoiled.
I personally find our treatment disgusting and extremely hurtful. In modern day London and Britain we are taught not to judge, discriminate or mock people because of their differences. Isn’t it ironic that this happens to a little boy in a show that is exactly about that.

 

Glyn Morris

This saddens me.  I take it that it has nothing to do with the cast of the show and that the front of house staff are going from a complaint of an over protective sound engineer.  The audience was fine with the boy’s noises and were happy to accomodate his needs and front of house staff seemed to be trying their best to make amends.

Wicked London, the official facebook page for the show has posted this response:

We are distressed to learn of the Morris family’s experience at the Apollo Victoria Theatre where our show is performed. WICKED embraces acceptance and works hard to champion tolerance through support of many charitable organisations that tackle social prejudice. We will work with the theatre owner The Ambassador Theatre Group to improve access for all and support a full appraisal of their operational procedures.

There may be a statement from the ATG later today, in which case I’ll update the post.  I hope this issue doesn’t dissuade people to see Wicked as it is an amazing show and it’s so sad that the serious issues that the show tackles has been brought to the forefront but with Wicked as the ‘attacker’.

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UPDATE:

The following statement from ATG has just been posted:

ATG OFFICIAL STATEMENT

 

We deeply regret any upset caused to the Morris family and would like to apologise for their bad experience last week at the Apollo Victoria in London. 

 

We are grateful to them for highlighting an issue that is at the very heart of our company. We firmly believe that everyone has the right to access live theatre and we especially welcome children and young people. 

 

We have prioritised training and have a member of senior management responsible for learning and access. However, this situation has emphasised the need for further training so that our operational staff can be better prepared in future and we have taken immediate measures to ensure that training is implemented and put into practice. 

 

We are further working with the Producers of Wicked to explore improving access to as wide an audience as possible for the fantastic production at the Apollo Victoria. 

 

ATG’s Joint CEO and Head of Learning and Access have both personally spoken to Mr Morris and held a useful discussion about our access provisions and the company will learn from this experience.

 

Ambassador Theatre Group

No real answer to be honest, and appears pretty standard, but let’s hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

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Congratulations Rod & Ricky

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Awwww ain’t it sweet!  To celebrate New York’s new move to allow gay marriages, one of New York’s most famous gay couples got married at the weekend.  Rod & Ricky from Avenue Q clearly have had a great relationship since meeting at the end of the funniest musical in recent times, Avenue Q.  Now I’ve seen the moment that Rod & Ricky met 6 times now, twice in New York, three times in London and once in Birmingham, and it was clear even the first time that these two were meant to be together.

To see more pictures of this joyous partnership then head over to BroadwayWorld.com

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Six Summer Saturdays… Hmmm…

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When I did my Hippodrome blog you may recall I mentioned Six Summer Saturdays.  A fantastic idea and I cannot fault the Hippodrome for trying to fill those summer Saturdays with some culture and theatre – however, and the ‘Hmmm’ in the title probably suggests, I wasn’t that excited or thrilled by what I saw on Saturday when I was in Birmingham.

The main event for the weekend just gone was circus performance and circus skills in Chamberlain Square.  Fine, it’s a good idea and parts were great – however when there’s a huge event happening on the adjoining space (Victoria Square) that is seriously outdoing what they’re doing in terms of effort and activities it doesn’t bode well.  And sadly I felt deflated and let down by the Hippodrome’s offers on Saturday and I spent most of my time enjoying the music, food and festivities at Jamaica Live – that huge event next to them.

Looking further into these two events they were apparently linked, although Jamaica Live had been arranged by other groups.  The one thing linking them was the Olympics Open Weekend.  Events were happening across the country to celebrate there being only a year until the start of London 2012.  Jamaica Live had the Olympic mascot, Olympic flags and genereally had a huge celebratory atmosphere – it also had a clear link to the Olympics, celebrating the Jamaican team not only for next year but also with a display of replica tobaggan carts used in training for the winter Olympics.  I find it very difficult to see what link the Hippodrome’s ‘No Fit Circus’ had with the Olympics.  Maybe at a stretch some gymnastics, but apart from that not much else.  It seems very much that the Hippodrome were more latching themselves onto a (I’m pesuming) funded event and taking advantage with some strenious (if that) links.

Looking through the programme for this year’s Six Summer Saturdays I’m not impressed.  The first event for example was some Jazz music – which, with massive ‘coincidence’ just so happened to fall into Birmingham’s International Jazz Festival.  So nothing new of different from what had been happening across Birmingham, nothing unique, nothing that exciting.  Poor effort for something to launch a summer of ‘big’ events.  Another event they had was using Titan the robot.  You’ve seen him on Paul O Grady, in pantos, on other TV shows, on Big Brother and a number of other events – a couple of years back.  Where’s the new, exciting, unique and artistic things we’re expecting? Also, to highlight my opinion that the Hippodrome have been jumping onto pre arranged things and hijacking them – the Hippodrome have been promoting ‘Ping!’ which, in fairness they do acknowledge that it’s run by another company, as an event you can do as part of 6SS…. they had nothing to do with them being installed, and if I’m right in thinking, members of the public can use the ping pong tables across the city whenever they want or whenever someone from STK International is present.

To compliment the negative vibes so far, I do have to admit that the events planned for the next few weeks do look better.  But when promoting the event ‘Snow in the City’ why do they have to use a picture of the event being held in London?! Make these things seem unique to Birmingham, make them look special, make them look fun and make them look like they belong to the people of Birmingham like the theatre.  This year’s 6SS doesn’t seem to have the intregrity and promise that last year’s highly successful one had.  Whatever the reason why needs to be addressed as 6SS is a fantastic idea, and needs to be brilliantly executed. 

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Ghost the Musical – New Google-inspired Trailer

We’ve all seen that Google advert where the new Dad sets up all these Google accounts for his new daughter.  It’s heartwarming isn’t it?!

Anyway, now think of it the opposite way and using lots of Apple gadgets (sure the fact it’s all Apple is a coincendence).  You’ve just died and trying to get messages across.  Well this video explores that, again it’s heartwarming!

Also, I know I have done a lot of blogs on Ghost – the Musical, I will give it a break now until I hopefully see it!

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