This year in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the RSC are live screening their productions worldwide. Tomorrow, Cymbeline, the romantic play that explores power and jealousy will be screened across the world. I spoke to Oliver Johnstone who plays Iachimo in Cymbeline and Edgar in King Lear – which will be screened from the 12th of October. We talked about his two highly contrasting roles and the process involved in screening a live play with an audience.
Bill Kenwright’s production of Ghost has stripped back all of the visually stunning staging and innovative digital imagery that the musical is renowned for, to focus on the intimate chemistry and potent emotion of the characters.
Telling the story of young couple Molly and Sam who are hopelessly in love and whose lives are blissful. One evening in Brooklyn Sam is tragically shot, leaving Molly heartbroken and struggling to come to terms with the fact he is gone. After Sam is killed, he becomes a disembodied ghost and embarks on discovering the reason for his death and protect Molly.
The reputable Oscar Wilde play The Importance Of Being Earnest is revived in a fresh and contemporary production, the Birmingham Rep and Leicester Curve have given the play an innovative update that maintains the classic comedic dialogue.
It is the well-known story of two brothers who create alter egos of themselves in order to escape from their monotonous lives.Through mistaken identity, they manage to land themselves in trouble and go to great lengths in order to get out of it.
With the stage completely decked out in mirror, reflecting the vanity and superficial nature of the characters. Designer Isla Shaw has reimagined the performance with a modern yet surreal vibe, with staging that makes the audience feel disoriented, the illusion gives the idea of there being no infinite ending to the stage, and therefore the performance barriers are left to the unknown.
Praise the lord that the New Alex Theatre in Birmingham were graced with the spectacular vocals, slick dialogue and all-round dazzling production Sister Act.
Currently on a UK tour, Sister Act is the story of feisty young diva Deloris, an aspiring superstar from Philadelphia who is desperate to find an agent who will make her a star. Stuck in a dead-end relationship with her criminal boyfriend Curtis, after witnessing him murder one of his gang, she is forced into hiding. Instructed to disguise herself, she is sent to shelter in a convent until her trial date. The nuns are shocked by her outrageous personality and outspoken nature, however despite her misgivings, Deloris manages to find one thing in common with the sisters – music.
The broadway smash hit musical Kinky Boots has been on the West End for a year now, after a highly successful and Olivier-winning run, the new cast bring fresh flavour to the extravagant production.
Charlie has grown up in his father’s shoe factory in Northampton and he is expected to take over the family business Price and Son, however his long-term girlfriend Nicola has other plans. When Charlie’s father passes away, he takes on the family business but struggles to keep it afloat. After stumbling into drag queen Lola, he discovers the niche market of making high-heeled boots for drag queens.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang lights up the Birmingham Hippodrome this week with a colourful and animated production of the classic musical.
With the iconic music by the Sherman brothers, it is a sensational family musical that provides immense humour and sparkle. When inventor Caractacus Potts and his children find an old Grand Prix winning car on the scrap heap, unknown to them it turns out to be a magical car. Meanwhile in Vulgaria, the Baroness has sent her two spies Goran and Boris to steal the car, however this doesn’t quite go to plan which leads family to Vulgaria.
It’s pretty safe to say that cocktails are a big part of my life. Whether it’s a special occasion, holiday, drinks with my friends or testing out new recipes at home, I am never too far from a cocktail.
As my writing takes me around the three largest cities in the UK; Manchester, Birmingham and London. I am continually in search of a great cocktail bar to settle down in after a long day. I am desperate to discover new flavours and jump on the 2016 cocktail trends.
Inspired by my favourite fictional writer Carrie Bradshaw, one of my most loved cocktails to sip on is a Cosmopolitan. Maybe because it is served in a glamorous martini glass, or perhaps just because it is pink. It is my regular go-to cocktail to pose with for Instagram. Not to mention it tastes divine and is usually made rather strong.
After reviewing Mamma Mia at the Hippodrome last month, an utterly cheesy and ultimate feel-good musical, I was ecstatic to be able to be following two of the cast members around backstage before the curtain went up on a Tuesday evening.
Mamma Mia has been seen by over 60 million people since it first opened in London’s West End 18 years ago, back in 1999. Based on ABBA’s iconic music, it is the story of a young girl living on a Greek Island. As her wedding day is approaching, she is desperate to meet her real father so he can walk her down the aisle. After finding her mother’s old diary, she invites the three potential fathers to the island.
Returning to the New Alexandra Theatre this summer, Stage Experience have outdone themselves on their production of the well-loved high school classic, Grease.
The energy is electrifying; from the opening number you are hit with a powerhouse of vocals that never lapses. This is reflected in the duets, as the intricate harmonies are pristine, and the vocal blend between Sandy and Danny is emotively potent. Lighting designer Colin Wood lights the stage beautifully; he creates radiance with the use of contemporary colours during the big ensemble numbers, and elegant shadowing for the more heart-rendering solos.
There have been many adaptations and revivals of Shakespeare’s classics this year in commemoration of 400 years since his death. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Taming Of The Shrew is magnificent, comedic and completely mesmerising.
Elisha Willis, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s stunning dancer that originated David Bintley’s Cinderella, takes to the stage for the last time with BRB as the stubborn Katherina. Whilst it is unfortunate to see her go, she masters the characterisation as the boisterous outspoken young girl who is reluctant to marry.
The Rocky Horror Show is more than just an insane musical – it is an indescribable experience.
Based on the 1975 iconic cult film, hauls of fans turn up to the show dressed in crazy themed costumes to immerse themselves in the extremities of the show.
Theatre étiquette is thrown right out of the window in this elaborate production that invites the audience to shout outrageous innuendos from the crowd as well as consistently standing up to join in with some of the show’s timeless numbers
The most exciting weekend for fans of London’s West End is merely a week away. West End Live – a free festival in Trafalgar Square that showcases the best of the West End, returns on the 18th and 19th of June.
West End Live is my musical theatre highlight every year, as it gives everyone a chance to enjoy the extraordinary talent and variety of London’s West End and it costs absolutely nothing. Despite regularly visiting the West End, I was surprised by the amount of shows I had never even given a second look until I saw them perform at the festival, I wrote about my stand out shows that performed at the festival last year.
Known for their powerful narrative performances, Northern Ballet have produced a gripping and sublimely choreographed production of Jane Eyre.
In commemoration of 200 years since Charlotte Bronte’s birth, Northern Ballet have taken the iconic novel about love, independence and feminism and portrayed this excellently through ballet.
Heightening the potency of the movement is the lighting, designed by Alastair West who beautifully captures each movement through the use of shadows and effects. The lighting creatively creates a larger shadow of Jane during her more sombre moments, so although each movement is small, her shadow provides a larger image that reflects the detail of the movement.
The RSC are pulling out the stops this year to commemorate 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. This summer they have collaborated with Slung Low, a theatre company that create immersive productions in non-theatre spaces.
Inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Slung Low have created a Fairy Portal Camp which will surround the grounds of the RSC and take place over 10 days. It is a camp of 20 artists who are going to live in the grounds of the RSC and embark on a mission – to open the portal to the fairy world.
Beyond Caring explores dark humour in an intimate play about four people that work the night shift in a meat factory.
Using innovative surroundings, the play takes place on the stage of the Birmingham Rep. With the audience positioned in thrust, the stage has been transformed into an industrial space that allows the audience to feel confined within the factor, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. The staging enables the audience to connect with the characters on stage as they open up and their stories become intriguing.
I arrived home from Edinburgh late on Monday evening. Despite severely lacking in sleep and not having had a proper meal in a week, I came home feeling nourished with theatre and alive with experience.
Edinburgh Fringe isn’t just a theatre festival, it is quite literally another world. You become immersed in the lifestyle and the culture, it is a truly beautiful place to forget about real life. It seems strange to say, but I feel as if I went to Edinburgh as one person and left as someone else.
Happy Together is a play that delves into the psychology of relationships and experiments both in real-time and the future.
The play opens with playwright Kate Newman introducing the idea behind her play, she scours the audience in search of two volunteers who will come up on stage to play the two main characters. She explains how they will be reading from cue cards to begin the performance. Picking on two audience members, it then becomes apparent it is staged but the play begins to unravel.
Set over the course of four years, the story tracks backwards. Set in a bedroom, as the story progresses the set slowly disappears. Linford Butler and Emily Bickerdike both give convincing performances as a couple in various stages of their relationship. Bickerdike’s character is intriguing as she portrays both strength and vulnerability as the relationship blossoms and deteriorates. This is similarly revealed in Butler’s role as he begins the piece nervous and uncertain, yet loses control of himself as he becomes possessive. The power shift within the piece is absorbing and adds to the complexity of the characters.
F*cking Men is a provocative play that unravels the sex lives of ten different modern gay men.
Starring three men, Haydn Whiteside, Harper James and Richard de Lisle star as a multitude of men from different backgrounds. From soldiers in the army, to playwriter, university students and married men, the play delves deeply into the thoughts and emotional baggage of these men.
The contemporary piece of theatre explores the ideas and questions behind gay culture. With modern elements touching upon their lives such as dating apps like Grindr, the piece has a focus on infidelity and ‘open relationships’. The army guy enjoys feeling pleasure from men but won’t identify as gay, the married man yearns to sleep around and the escort is desperate to settle down. As an audience member, we are taken inside the minds of these men that use sex to cover up a lot of their feelings.