London’s Free Open-Air Theatre Season 2015

  This year London’s Free Open-Air Theatre Season as part of the More London Free Festival, will be running from Wednesday 5th – Sunday 30th August 2015 at The Scoop, More London Riverside, London. Created in 2003, this is Londons only Free Festival for Classical theatre which makes it extremely accessible. Rather incredibly, 10% of the audience attending The Scoop in 2014 had not been to a theatre production previously, so this festival really is introducing theatre to new audiences!

Gods and Monsters Theatre have devised two productions, one slotting in to a family entertainment category  and another that contains more adult content. Both productions are based on the theme of war and how it has been perceived historically. Commited to bringing aincent myths and legends to the stage, Gods and Monsters Theatre believe our future is rooted in the distant past. The two productions that will be performed are as follows:

Captain Show-Off! – adapted from the Roman comedies of Plautus by Phil Willmott, with original music by Theo Holloway, 6pm

Women of Troy – adapted by Lisa Kuma from Euripides’ Trojan War Trilogy, 8pm

Artistic Director of the festival Phil Willmott made these comments:

“This summer London theatre’s liveliest family show and most passionate, poignant drama is once again free for everyone! I’m so proud to be taking the capital’s award winning free outdoor theatre festival into its 13th year with a regular attendance of over 30,000 people, statistically the most culturally diverse audience in the city and with more first-time theatre goers than any other venue enjoying our daring repertoire”

For more information about Gods and Monsters Theatre Company and London’s Free Open-Air Theatre Season 2015, visit their website: http://godsandmonsterstheatre.com

My Thoughts On…The Offies 

  

The Offies Award Nominations are interesting as they are continuously compiled as new productions are put forward for consideration. If you were unfamiliar with these awards, they were created by OffWestEnd.com to honour and celebrate productions at independent London theatres (or ‘fringe’ theatres as they are most widely known). The productions nominated have to have had at least ten performances over a minimum of a three week period and be an active member of OffWestEnd.com. 

What is particularly engaging, is the theatre or theatre company of the production that they wish to be considered, have to get in touch with OffWestEnd.com to be assessed at a performance of their choosing. This is certainly a clever initiative, as it makes a partnership between the theatre and the awards rather than something official and unattainable, so essentially inclusive of a variety of productions. With the TBC Award for a production that does not fit the standard criteria, The Offies are truly something special to be embraced by all theatre lovers. 

There was much elation to see the cast of My Children! My Africa! at The Tristan Bates Theatre all recently receive Offies 2015 nominations, with Rose Reynolds nominated for Best Female, Anthony Ofoegbu for Best Male and Best Supporting Male for Nathan Ives-Moiba as well as a nod for Best Set Designer for Nancy Surman. The London revival of Athol Fugard’s Apartheid set play was stunning in every sense of the word and has definitely swept the nomination board, and without going in to great detail if there was one production that should be nominated it was this one. My review of My Children! My Africa! for LondonTheatre1 can be found here  https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/106426/review-my-children-my-africa-at-tristan-bates-theatre/

It is no exaggeration The Offies are a vital piece of the independent theatre jigsaw that London is so renowned for internationally, and make it something that should be celebrated. With 300 productions being considered over the course of the year at innovative theatres such as Soho Theatre and the Union Theatre, the fringe scene is ruling the waves with it’s calibre of productions.

To cast your vote for the three public voted Offies categories and to have your voice heard, you need to be a subscriber, details can be found along with a full list of the nominations here: http://www.offwestend.com/index.php/pages/the_offies 

Why Summer 2015 Is A Sizzling Time For Theatre!

Where do I begin… Well are you having a dilema with deciding on what theatre productions to go and see and are not sure if the booking time is expiring on that show you have been ooooing and aaaaahing over for a while? Then the solution is simple, it is called Stagedoor App http://apple.co/1C4IvnY This new free app has been developed for those who create, watch and write about theatre. Including a special feature to follow your favourite creatives in one simple hub, the creators have certainly tapped in to the stage loving consciousness. Summer and far beyond is certainly in very capable hands, with a theatre planner essentially at your finger tips.
 Stagedoor App photo above 

Kinky Boots, Elephant Man and Bend It Like Beckham , these are just some of the productions that are imminently arriving to the West End this summer. With a variety of productions covering a wide spectrum, there is a Show for all tastes. Of course it has been impossible over the last week not to hear the news about Motown The Musical coming to Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016, which after a phenomenal Broadway run is going to wow London audiences. Motown really is a music genre that contains some of the greatest music ever written in terms of lyrics and melody. Here is the link to a recent article I wrote for London Theate Direct about my top 5 songs from Motown The Musical https://www.londontheatredirect.com/post/604/Motown-The-Musical—My-Top-5-Songs-.aspx This show certainly has caused quite a stir this Summer, with many anticipating 2016 already.

What is getting you hot round the theatrical collar this summer?


Ready, Steady..Bake! The West End Bake Off Will Cook Up A Tasty Storm!

 

Do you love cake? (let’s face it who doesn’t?). If you love cake and helping to raise funds for a phenomenal charity, then you are in for a treat… 

West End Bake Off, in aid of our official charity Acting For Others, will be held on Saturday May 23rd at St Anne’s Church Courtyard London W1D 6AF from 11:00 to 13:00.

The Bake off will be opened and co-judged by none other than stage, film and TV legend Barbara Windsor MBE. You are invited to buy the cakes and sweet treats made by the participating West End Shows and indulge your sweet tooth in the name of charity, it doesn’t get much better than this!


Many of the West End’s favourite shows including Beautiful –The Carole King Musical, Billy Elliot The Musical, The Book Of Mormon, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Mamma Mia!Les MiserérablesThe Mousetrap, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Railway Children, War Horse, Gypsy and Wicked will be taking part in this historical theatrical bake off! If that doesn’t wet your stagey appetite then I don’t know what will?!


Acting For Others represents 15 other theatrical charities, helping those in the entertainment industry who are suffering hardships due to a variety of reasons including illness and injury. This wonderful charity gives back to those who have dedicated their lives to entertaining with their great talent.


Keep the 23rd May 2015 free in your diary and join this exciting event!

@WESTENDBAKEOFF

@ActingforOthers


One Is Definitely Not The Loneliest Number In Theatre

Some of the most outstanding theatre I have seen have been a one person Show. The sheer skills that an actor has to demonstrate to be in command and carry the production on their shoulders is a true marvel.

Being exposed is a frightening thing whatever the situation might be and none so much as when on a stage. When you are a singer at a concert you most likely have a band or pianist  to accompany your performance. This is definitely a great safety net if you like as a one person show is perhaps you and a backing track or simply if it’s a non-musical show just yourself. Having to create an entire performance based soley on your acting performance is not an easy feat, to put it mildly.

In the example of Linder Productions No Regrets The Life Story and Songs of Edith Piaf, a one woman show performed by Sally Jones the expertise as a performer is very much evident. Magnetic Personality and Talent are the two magic ingredients as one works in conjunction with the other to make a Show a success. This show really let’s the Jones tell stories of the subject as themselves as well as perform music by Piaf ( in the original French). James Swanton’s one man adaptation of Dickens’ Sikes and Nancy is a different type of production all together as he is literally acting numerous roles simultaneously rather than retelling stories and facts, but the level of both productions to keep the audiences interest is very high indeed. Both actors have incredible content to work with in the form of two iconic stories one a biopic and one fictious.

To say a soul is bared on stage is not an exaggeration as to really deliver a wonderful script this has to be done, no questions asked, and no holding back is the name of the game. Whoever has written those lines, whether a playwright or yourself you have to show conviction, as if you don’t believe in what you are doing there is a near hundred percent chance no one else will. 

Old vs New Theatre Productions-There Should Be No Winner ( let alone competition )

Tale as old as time..no I’m not talking about Disney I’m referring to Theatre Productions. Are Classics a guaranteed way of a gaining publicity and most importantly ticket sales? With a crop of new productions having their west end run ending abruptly ( yes that includes Made In Dagenham), it seems fitting to discuss what is a burning issue. 

 

With the recent Kenneth Branagh season announced including an assortment of Shakesperian and modern plays I was rather delighted. When you have a play such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the same year long season as Frances Verber’s play Painkillers you know there is something there for every theatre goer with all genres covered. There are however no brand new works among the line up of five plays to be performed at The Garrick. In all probability I think these well known works were predicted to be the sold out success that they have evidently been over the last month.

New works are seen as a risk there’s no denying that. This seems to apply in particular to musical theatre which seems to rightly throw caution to the wind and produce a lot of new and often outstanding productions that seem to accumulate a great response from reviewers. But this high praise is not enough seemingly, to guarantee box office success and a long run.

A classic production has the prestige behind it and a trust of a creative team and cast but could this be changing? Fringe productions of works by Shakespeare face the same lack of interest as productions of classical musicals, an example of this being the revival of Godspell this year that has been on tour closing early due to poor ticket sales. Expectations are not being  met by certain productions that can be described as being ‘cult classics’ and others are a producers dream come true. In the case of Kevin Elyot’s play My Night With Reg that was an instant success, the public were willing to give the revival of this play the accolades it deserved.

The magic ingredient to a ‘successful’ show is elusive and not a bottled liquid in Waitrose. I think in the case of a classic it should be stimulating and innovative, in the same way a brand new Show should too. Both classic and new productions should be embraced for their quality not pre-conceived ideas or reputations.