Glittering Stars of the Stage..The Actors that I’m eager to see what they do next!

Recently I have seen a crop of actors on stage that have been quite phenomenal. From a range of productions, their performances have varied from sensitive and understated as well as the opposite end of the spectrum and embodying the the essence of physical theatre. I have compiled a list of the actors whose careers I look forward to following:

Eva Noblezada 

Making her West End Debut in Miss Saigon while still in her teens it’s safe to say a star has been born. With a depth and empathy of someone much older in years,her heart wrenching performance as Kim in Miss Saigon has to be one of the best performances by a female lead I have ever had the joy to witness. There is no big surprise that Noblezada is nominated in The Also Recognised Awards for London Newcomer of the Year. It is very clear this is a performer that we will be writing about for years to come.

Alistair Brammer 

This is a leading man who really does lead the way. With a commanding presence in Miss Saigon as GI Chris and past roles including Marius in Les Miserables this actor is very much in demand. Brammer is notably in the concert production of Follies at The Albert Hall in April, which is a tribute to Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday. Proceeding roles I would be interested to see him play would be perhaps comical ones, that will show another string to his acting bow.

James Swanton

Swanton is a natural actor. His intricate performances are given with such ease that the dedication to his art form should not be over shadowed! Adapting the Charles Dickens play Sikes and Nancy in to a one man play is certainly remarkable.To be able to slide between acting male and female roles simultaneously so convincingly is just a wonder to be seen.With such originality and great understanding of Acting, the theatre was made for actors like James Swanton.

Katie Brayben

At the forefront of the Actor/Musician wave that has struck the shores of Musical Theatre, Brayben is a real tour de force. As the role of Carole King in Beautiful, which is currently enjoying a successful run in London’s West End, the combination of humility and musical talent make this Olivier Award nominee very compelling. 

Lewis Reeves 

Kevin Elyot’s masterpiece Play My Night With Reg has been one of my theatrical highlights so far of 2015. Reeves plays the young and naive painter and Decorator Eric who has moved to London from Birmingham. What impressed me about Reeves performance, is his comic timing but also subtlety that he displayed too. With such a great performance in My Night With Reg his career is one that holds a lot of promise.

Lorna Want

Such a powerful presence on stage, Want has really put her stamp on the role of Cynthia Weil in Beautiful. Her New York accent was delivered with such authenticity and the character had such a vivacious attitude that it definitely made Want stand out in the show. Want has unsurprisingly been nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her role in Beautiful.

 Callum Francis 

I saw Francis in the role of John in Miss Saigon last month and was bowled over by his tender and thoughtful portrayal. When he performed Bui Doi I literally couldn’t hide the goosebumps,what a voice! Previously in the Lion King, it was perfect casting of Francis as the alternate John. Possessing a versatility and stunning vocal tone to his singing voice, this makes him an actor to definitely keep on the radar.

Fiona Mikel

I saw Mikel in a play called Ablutions at Soho Theatre, that FellSwoop Theatre had adapted from a novel by Patrick Dewitt. Her versatility as she eased between a handful of characters was done skilfully, most notably the role of You’s exasperated wife. I would love to see her in the future as I believe her acting style would work fantastically well in Shakespeare’s works as she would bring a fresh and honest spin on whatever role she is given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taboo Or Not Taboo? That Is The Question.

I am going to get straight to the point and say nothing is taboo in Theatre. There I said it. Of course everyone has a different opinion on what is meant by taboo and what they believe falls under this label. The Oxford Dictionary’s Online definition is as follows:

“A social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.”

One of the flaws in this definition is it states that it’s social or religious custom that is the cause of something been perceived as taboo, this implies it’s one or the other. Surely, it could be in some cases a mixture of both. This combination has been implemented from a less accepting society that existed previously, whose ripple effect can still be felt unfortunately today.

Shock tactic, publicity stunt, yes we have all heard those terms when there is nudity in a play. But why is nudity still termed by many as taboo? People are naked all in the time in their own home (ok maybe not all the time unless you are a naturist) so if a play has for example a nude scene set in ones home, as in the case of Kevin Eylot’s wonderful play My Night With Reg the character of John shows full frontal nudity, this is actually rather realistic. Let me point out too without going in to detail of the plot,that nudity was a metaphor for being exposed and secretly afraid.

Religion will inevitably be blamed for being the cause of taboo subjects but it’s as I previously described it’s a mixture of religious and social customs. In the case of sexual intimacy on stage, I don’t believe religion would be the reason if it perhaps being seen as pornographic, this would be more down the social customs that sex happens behind ‘closed doors’. But sex and nudity are a normal part of life that have to be included in some form in theatre. 

When I see a character on stage taking drugs ( prop ones), I as an audience member and as a reviewer, realise this is part of the plot. Even though this character taking drugs is integral to the plot and how their life has descended in to something quite bleak, there would have been more distaste for this characters cosumption of illegal substances. There will still be inevitably an uneasiness from certain audience members, but I feel gritty plot devices are honoured more by the audience in recent times, who realise they are not condoning something simply by watching a piece of theatre.

Theatre is ultimately where stories are told and feelings are expressed. This setting is where an audience have chosen to come and watch that particular piece of theatre. If something is extremley offensive to them or they find distasteful they are free to leave the theatre although the price of the ticket they have bought could hinder that decision. In the same way, if someone is doing something in the street such as preaching beliefs you do not agree with you do not have to listen you can walk away. 

The word taboo I believe is still not a word that exists in the theatrical dictionary. Audiences will always have differing opinions on certain subjects, but isn’t this what makes theatre so exciting?

 

 

 

 

It’s Beyond Bollywood And Coming To The London Palladium! 



With the recent surge of Dance extravaganzas pirouetting their way to the West End, I have been especially excited by the imminent arrival of Beyond Bollywood.

Showing at The London Palladium May 8th-June 27th 2015, the run may be short, but will have a long lasting impact. With the dream team of Bollywood’s creative minds being the force behind this Show, it is very promising indeed. Rajeev Goswami has done a triple feat being the Director, Writer and Choreographer of Beyond Bollywood. Lyrics are by Irfan Siddiqui and original score by Salim-Sulaiman.

Including themes of family, self discovery and tragedy, the shows protagonist is a young girl called Shaily Shergill, who by the request of her dying mother, travels from her home in Germany to the family theatre in India. The goal is clear, to revive the theatre to it’s past glory and save it from ruin. To achieve this rebirth, a Show must be staged, a Show that has never been seen before, one that is utterly breathtaking.

The last Bollywood Show to be causing such a flutter in the West End was the Musical Bombay Dreams in 2002, which was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and ran for two years until it’s close in 2004. It has taken over ten years for such a high profile Bollywood Show to return to The West End, with a sold out run in Mumbai, the audiences in The London Palladium will soon be bedazzled by Beyond Bollywood too.

Get your tickets now for this spectacular show! https://www.londontheatredirect.com/booking/Beyond-Bollywood-tickets-at-the-London-Palladium-in-May-2015?eventId=1706&month=8/5/2015&nbTickets=2

15 Things That Make Me Happy

This list was inspired by the awesome Liz from http://theblogofhappythings.com who wrote a list of things that made her happy, in honour of the International Day of Happiness yesterday. My list is a little different as it will include the 15 things that come to mind, as there are MANY and I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit them all in to one list and plus there are always new things I discover all the time that make me happy! Let me also add the list is not written in order of preference. I would love to read the things that make make you happy too, as I believe when you are having not the greatest of days a list like this will help to give you some comfort and hopefully uplift you in some way.

15 Things That Make Me Happy are as follows:

Singing!!

Drinking Tea 

Watching and Reviewing Theatre Productions 





Spending Time With Friends  

Devouring Korma Dishes 

Listening to Music 

Chocolate ( need I say more?!)





Seeing Artists and Bands Perform Live

Tennis Matches ( being in the crowd and watching from my sofa )

Reading an Amazing Book 





Watching Epic Period TV Dramas with my Mum

Eating Seafood

Reading Articles and Reviews from Fellow Bloggers

Barnamint Baileys Cocktails  

Being close to The Sea



As I said above would love to read a list of some of the things that make you happy, it really makes you smile!























Also Recognised Awards category for Best Twitter Engagement is testament to the importance of Twitter in Theatre

When I read there was an Also Recognised Awards category for Best Twitter Engagement I knew that these new audience-voted awards were something special. This particular award is the first if it’s kind and voted for by the people who watch theatre, to honour those who encourage them to watch it .

Here are the nominees for Best Twitter Engagement below:

  • @lesmisofficial, Les Miserables Queen’s Theatre
  • @bookofmormonldn, The Book of Mormon Prince of Wales Theatre
  • @youngvictheatre, Young Vic Theatre
  • @urinetownUk, Urinetown St James and Apollo Theatres
  • @TrafTransformed, Trafalgar Transformed, Trafalgar Studios


Twitter
is without the doubt the social media tool that reaches the most amount of people when promoting the arts. The Social Media team who run the Twitter pages of Shows ( West End and Off West End) should definitely be given the recognition they rightly deserve. The demands of keeping the public up to date and stimulated with the Show they are engaging with the public is very clear to all who have seen their twitter pages. These teams live, eat and breathe theatre, tirelessly around the clock. In addition to an endless list that includes tweeting information about a show, alerting of breaking news, answering queries and comments, there is also the task of retweeting and favouriting tweets!

As a theatre reviewer and writer I understand the platform that twitter can offer. In effect, when I’m tweeting a link to a review or blogpost, it is to promote what I’ve written, when the social media team are doing their work a whole entire creative team and cast are relying on them to capture the publics attention.

The twitter engagement is of course a two way street with the public having to get involved with a shows twitter to make it thrive and to keep the chain going, whether it be tweeting their opinion on a show or directly getting in touch with the social media team. It can be described as a partnership one thrives on the other in order to be successful.

The category for Best Twitter Engagement at the Also Recognised Awards has excitingly set a precedent, and I look forward to seeing what other new innovative and relevant categories they develop in the future.

Voting for the Also Recognised Awards is open until April 17th 2015 http://mytheatremates.com/also-recognised-awards/

The Also Recognised Awards are a vital addition to the Theatre Awards Season

Being a Monday, the start of a new week I don’t think it could have been a better time for a revolution. Not just any revolution, a Theatre Awards revolution.

The renowned Theatre critics Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock have come together as a theatrical powerhouse and created the Also Recognised Awards. These Awards will acknowledge the wealth of lesser-know talent that is overlooked by other theatrical awards and are audience-voted. There are ten categories in total, with six being ones that were unfortunately omitted by WhatsOnStage Awards. Paddock having founded the WhatsOnStage awards in 2001 with a close involvement from Shenton, it only seems fitting that the pair have resurrected these very important and relevant accolades after her 2013 departure :

  • Best Ensemble Performance
  • Best Solo Performance
  • Best Shakespearean Production
  • Best Original Music
  • London Newcomer of the Year
  • Theatre Event of the Year

Three new categories are as follows:

  • Best Show Poster
  • Best Show Trailer
  • Best Twitter Engagement

There is a new award category, one that is a first for the UK, this is the award for Musical Direction. The shortlist for this award was created with the help of musical director Mike Dixon and director Andrew Keates, who felt passionately about this award coming in to effect, after years of campaigning for other awarding bodies to give credit to Musical Direction.

The list of full nominees and how to vote can be found at http://www.MyTheatreMates.com a new digital venture founded by Shenton and Paddock. Voting opened today and closes on the 17th April 2015

Are Cast members performing instruments live on stage the new staple of Musical Theatre?

During the last six months I have noticed a significant link between many of the Musicals I have watched, the ones I’m referring to being Once, Sunny Afternoon, Beautiful, The Commitments and Let It Be. I’m sure you’ve guessed the link..yes they all involve instruments being performed live on stage by the cast.

The last five years has seen a change in the Musical Theatre components, the ‘juke box’ Musical has mutated in to something quite exciting. As well as singing the songs of a particular artist or band, the casts are actually becoming them in every possible sense, which often includes performing on an instrument. This new wave of musical is biographical, so as an audience we are given an overview of the artists life, as for example Beautiful which charts Carole King’s early career.

Actor/ Musicians are now being given roles in music theatre that show the full depth of their skills. This is without doubt recognition for those who have worked hard in different musical fields, such as classical or jazz. I am saddened to see Once close in the West End as most of the cast are skilled musicians who quite honestly look like they are having a ball on stage, with their love of making music very evident. 



 A rich diversity and versatility in Musical Theatre is important as it means new productions and genres can be explored. The Guildford School of Acting have recently developed a new BA (Hons) Actor Musician course to commence in 2015 subject to approval, this is testament to the general consensus that can be felt in the Musical Theatre community. A course such as this one, incorporates both actor and musicianship skills to work side by side and nurtures individual interests and talents. The Guildford School of Acting describes the course on its website in these words ”The programme aims to develop versatile highly skilled performers able to work professionally as either actors, musicians, or, as is becoming increasingly called for, as performers who can combine musicianship and acting on stage”.http://gsauk.org/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-actor-musician/

What will be next for the new Musical, Theatre has to evolve like everything, but which direction will it take? I would like to think that as well as acting and performing the music of legends, more new instrument based musicals will start to emerge. With the writing talent we are surrounded with in Theatre, it would be a great thought, that in the next couple of years we see more and more of this work translating to the stage.

Reflections on the Olivier Awards Nominations 2015

Let me first congratulate all those who have received Olivier Awards Nominations 2015. Here are a few thoughts on some of those who have received nominations (and those who have not..)

James Swanton

 I hope that I am not in a minority, but I was stunned by James Swanton’s mesmerising performance in the adaptation of Charles Dickens’ one man play Sikes and Nancy, at The Trafalgar Studios. Perhaps it was naive of me to think there would be a nod in such a prestigious category, but I believed Swanton would get a Best Actor Olivier Awards nomination. It would have been a worthy nomination and an acknowledgment of this actors unique ability. 

It would be a fitting description that I’m dissapointed, as I feel that someone who gives such precision to their craft should be given recognition. Of course awards are not the only indication of achievement, but for a performance that Swanton has given, it was truly worthy.

All I can hope, is that the future Olivier Awards will give James Swanton the accolades he will so surely deserve.

Miss Saigon: Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada

The West End revival of Miss Saigon captured my heart as well as an Olivier Nomination for Best Musical Revival. This is an incredible production with some outstanding performances. Jon Jon Briones has been nominated for Best Actor in a Musical which is so well earned, his performance as the Engineer commands the Prince Edward Theatre stage.

Unfortunately a nomination for Best Actress in a Musical was not given to the extraordinary Eva Noblezada. This is hard to comprehend as her performance as Kim in Miss Saigon is flawless. Noblezada’s vocals are silky but with a depth that brings you to tears and she really is a shining light and inspiration to all other young actresses. As I hope with James Swanton, future Olivier nominations will be coming her direction in years to come!

My Night With Reg

My Night With Reg at The Appllo Theatre was a revelation to me. This revival of Kevin Elyot’s 1994 play was a bittersweet and deliciously funny triumph.

It was no surprise to me that My Night With Reg is nominated for Best Revival. With perfect casting, the Thatcherite Britain getting acquainted with the AIDS Virus came to life in front of the audience. I felt myself attaching myself to the characters who made me laugh, as well as at times want to weep too. I was hook,line and sinker for this marvellous Play. 

Two of my favourite productions of the last year My Night With Reg and Miss Saigon have both been revivals. When there is an outstanding cast and premise that grips your soul such as in the case of these two, then all the ingredients are there for a recipe that’s something quite spectacular.

Sunny Afternoon 

As soon as I had finished watching Sunny Afternoon The Kinks Musical at The Harold Pinter Theatre I knew this Show was special. There was an electricity that had been caused by the Show. 

The humble four lads from Muswell Hill were now superstars, they were The Kinks. For this Show to be nominated for Best New Musical as well as an array of other awards including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for John Dagleish and George Maguire, really is testament to the impact this Show has had in just a few months. 

Sunny Afternoon has really introduced the soundtrack of a generation to a whole new one. With songs such as You Really Got Me and Waterloo Sunset, Songwriter Ray Davies showcases his many triumphs.

Beautiful The Carole King Musical: Katie Brayben

The final thought is one of the very well earned nominations for Beautiful The Carole King Musical at The Aldwych Theatre, which I saw very recently. Much praise is deserved for Katie Brayben, who potrays the shy but focused Carole King perfectly, and with such steely musicianship is a real tour de force in the role. With a Best Actress in a Musical nomination, Brayben certainly has a beautiful career ahead.

I only wish the sensational ensemble cast could be nominated for an award as their portrayal of especially The Drifters gave me goosebumps, the authenticity is really something quite magical. 

Please let me know your thoughts on the Olivier Awards Nominations 2015 in the comment section below!

The full list of Olivier Awards nominees can be found here: http://www.olivierawards.com/nominations/view/item274537/best-revival/

Female DJs London, haven’t you heard?



Founder Tanya Love created Female DJs London after being told repeatedly, the lack of number was the reason for most festivals being headlined by male DJ’s, not to mention the charts and LP’s complied by them. Love described it as a general feeling of “Women DJ’s don’t get a look in..like we don’t exist”

Love decided that it was high time to stand up and take action, the DJ Chart Top 100 having more females in it 20 years ago than it does in the present day.“Its been a delight to meet such incredibly devoted, talented women. Many of whom produce, promote, work in record shops and record labels” Love explains, evidently very passionate and submerged in her industry. 

What strikes me about Female DJ’s is the community that has been created for these talented DJ’s to help promote each other’s career, or as Love aptly calls them “A collective uniting women” in an industry that you very much work as a singular figure.

After organising the biggest showcase event of female DJ’s of it’s kind in London, with 51 female DJ’s it did not receive the coverage from the press that Female DJs London had hoped to receive, with it being rather minimal to say the least. Love simply describes the situation as “This is how it works”.

Unperturbed by this hiccup, they currently have their own show Saturday nights on Soho Radio. The other members of the collective have their own various shows too.

Love’s vision for Female DJs London as well as aspiring female DJ’s : “In the future I want female DJ’s to get more work, better pay, higher profiles, more recognition, sponsorship deals, freedom to be individuals and not expectations to fit to a sexist stereotype to get work..we are DJ’s not porn stars. That’s what I’d like to get across to younger generations coming through.”

This is a bold statement, but is regarding a career that Tanya Love is commited. I’m excited to see the future of Female DJs London with such a strong spokeswoman and innovator.



Soho Radio Saturday’s 7-9pm SohoRadioLondon.com

@FemaleDJsLondon

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