Updated: Jan 25, 2020
On Monday evening, I was at the Trafalgar Studios to watch Coming Clean one of the Kings Head Theatre‘s most successfu exports. Now produced under their Kings Head Theatre West End branch.
Originally revived by the Kings Head Theatre in 2017, it transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in 2019, and has once again returned for 2020.
Written by Kevin Elyot in 1982, it was his first play and was performed at the Bush Theatre. It wasn’t seen again until it was revived in 2017 by artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher.
It followed the successful West End revival of Kevin Elyot’s final play My Night with Reg, originally written in 1994 that was revived in 2015.
Having passed away in 2014, it is brilliant to see that Kevin Elyot’s work continues to have a place in the West End.
Coming Clean was originally named Cosy and was written by Kevin Elyot, who at the time was a thirty-one year old actor, and had been in several productions at the Bush Theatre.
Written for five actors with five characters, when revived by Spreadbury-Maher at the Kings Head in July 2017, he reduced it to four actors, with Elliott Hadley doubling up for two of the characters. It also starred Lee Knight, Jason Nwoga and Tom Lambert.
Much like the Sugababes, when Coming Clean transferred in 2019 they changed their line up. Jason Nwoga was swapped out for Stanton Plummer-Cambridge. This year newcomer Jonah Rzeskiwicz has replaced Tom Lambert, with Elliott and Lee becoming the surviving OGs.
When Tom Lambert played Robert, the character was written to have come from Shrewsbury. Robert has now been reworked to come from Salford in order to accommodate Jonah Rzeskiwicz’s own accent. It’s a nice switch that gives the character more definition, and feels almost like a nod to the brilliant gay dramas by Russel T Davies that are predominantly set in the north.
Eliott Hadley is also from the North West, and his accent similarly brings out the charm in Elyot’s writing that I would easily compare to Jonathan Harvey’s comedy work.
Both acts open with Elliot and Lee’s characters playfully discussing their sex lives, whilst Elliot joyfully munches through a bag of donuts. The scenes are hilariously well written and observed and superbly delivered masterfully by both. Both have superb comic timing.
The play takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion, beautifully pairing these comic scenes with tense dramatic scenes that again are superbly brought to life by some incredible acting. The heightened and heartbreaking moments come from Lee and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge scenes in particular.
The intimacy of the theatre space extrapolates the tension and awkwardness as all the action takes place within the solitary of the front room of their flat, with you feeling like you’re sat uncomfortably in the corner of the room. The scenes are well paced and build beautifully.
The play openly explores fidelity within a gay relationship and considering that this play is nearly forty years old. It’s astonishing that these characters still feel completely recognisable.
A lot of historical plays are revived with the intention to deliver the message “Look where we’ve come from” yet with Coming Clean, it feels as if its saying “Look where we sill are”.
It’s incredible when you compare it to recent plays like The Inheritance and After Glow that both also explore fidelity, how relevant and current Coming Clean still feels.
For gay men in 1982, it was only fifteen years after homosexuality was decriminalised, and at the break of what would become the AIDS epidemic. During this period, it’s fairly recognised that gay men were generally more promiscuous.
And yet almost four decades later, it’s fair to say the landscape has scarcely changed for most gay men. There is still little sanctity seen in monogamous relationships which is the main theme explored in Coming Clean, and most gay couples I know still enjoy open relationships.
This is despite reforms in marriage and adoption rights. On the same day that I watched this play, same-sex marriages became recognised in Northern Ireland. Policies have changed but the principles haven’t.
With the King’s Head generally reviving a lot of their own work, whether it warrants it or not, I feel that Coming Clean definitely deserves to continue being produced, whether they rest it for a year to then revive it a final time for it’s fortieth anniversary in 2022, it is certainly a play that I can recommend and enjoy watching again.
Coming Clean is at the Trafalgar Studios until 7th February. Tickets can be booked here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/coming-clean/trafalgar-studios/
You can also look back at one of my earliest
Vlogs to see what I thought of this production last year. Coming Clean features in Vlog 3 https://youtu.be/Wgurz4ATggI
On Tuesday evening I was invited back again to watch The Wild Flesh a play that I saw last October at the Bread and Roses Theatre where it was given two performances as part of Clapham Fringe Festival. It is now back for five days at the Tristan Bates Theatre.
Originally devised and created by Hayley May Muirhead, Isobel Pilkington, Rebecca Hoodless, Sommy Echezona and Tashan Gilardi, who form the collective Wildly Theatre Company, this is a very topical play that examines the influences of social media on body image in young women.
When I wrote about The Wild Flesh in my 37th Blog, I was quite honest with what I felt was a fair and objective view. At the time I said “The production does have some great elements however predominantly the writing feels underdeveloped and inconsistent”. Generally though, I commended the concept behind the show as a great idea, and said that although it “needs some further development there is definitely potential and promise for this piece”.
From the original production, I highlighted the things that I thought worked. The opening YouTube style video clips, the atmospheric music, and the areas that I felt needed work, the writing in general, the doubling up of characters and cliche depiction of a detective in a Columbo styled rain coat. I also said that some of the acting was inconstant and that generally it lacked direction.
I was surprised to have been invited back, but pleased. I often think when I write about a show in a constructive way that it might be seen unfavourable, and worry that I might possibly offend the people involved if they take it personally.
However by inviting me back it showed to me that the team behind The Wildly Theatre Company weren’t afraid to take up the challenge and were committed to improving this show.
Shortly after their initial run at the Bread and Roses Theatre, the team announced that they would be returning with the show in 2020. I continued to follow the team’s progress as they launched a crowd funding page through Indiegogo that raised £1,560. They also began rehearsals in November for what they promised would be a “revamped show ready for 2020”.
After this the team announced that they had cast two new actors, Caitlin Goman and Jordan Noel. Tashan Gilardi, would step up to direct the play, and
Rebecca Hoodless would focus on the music.
This is what I love about this collective. Whether there were other reasons for the shakeup, it does suggest that the team were doing what was best for the play rather than their individual selves. Bringing in two new actors that might shake up the performances is certainly a good indication, whilst also appointing a director to streamline and enhance the performances was also promising.
I was still a little apprehensive about revisiting The Wild Flesh. What if they hadn’t changed anything? What if I still thought they hadn’t quite got it right?
I was relieved and beyond delighted to discover that extensive work has been done, and what is now presented is a much modified and significantly improved version of the show that I saw in October, and it’s really good.
The play still opens with the brilliant collection of pre-recorded videos featuring Hayley May Muirhead as Lyra a social media influencer who becomes a cult figure. It’s profoundly acute, with the production acknowledging that they used quotes from real life cults.
The terrifyingly accurate portrayal of this side of social media moulds The Wild Flesh in to a Black Mirror-esque story exploring the possible scenario of how the rise and influence of social media could induct members into a cult.
The performances are stronger, and the dialogue is clearer. The number of characters has been reduced to suit the cast of five, with the two new actresses fitting like final pieces to a puzzle. The enchanting music still sets the tone perfectly, and the costumes have been slightly adjusted and improved.
There are still some inconsistencies within the performances overall, but they have certainly all improved, and baring in mind that this was only the first performance in this short run.
The reporter character has been vastly improved to incorporate a brilliant new monologue that is clearer and works better.
This play is now a much smarter, slicker and fuller formed piece of new writing that is very reflective of today’s culture. The returning actresses have elevated their performances and the new members of the cast compliment this with some fine acting.
There are still some points where the dialogue struggles and the performances dip, but generally this is a much much better show, with a fine use of comedy to subtly underpin the strong themes.
As a young ambitious new theatre company, The Wildly Theatre Company have really come together to make incredible advances in a short space of time, and have really excelled at demonstrating themselves to be a group of talented individuals who listen and respond, and are committed to making great theatre. I definitely think they are ones to watch.
The Wild Flesh is only on until 18th January, to book tickets visit:
To read my original post from October 2019 about The Wild Flesh, you can find it here:
Conveniently The Wild Flesh had started at 6.15pm and was only one hour long, that meant I was able to make it across to The Other Palace to watch Luke Bayer as part of Lambert and Jackson Production’s New Year. New Favourites season.
Spread across two weeks with fourteen incredible performers and their special guests.
Luke’s guests were Aviva Tulley, Caroline Kay and Max Harwood with musical director Flynn Sturgeon.
I have known Luke for several years, even before he began his training at Mountview. He is a very special talent and the sweetest person.
Luke achieved a meteoric social media presence after continuing to post videos to YouTube of himself singing in his bedroom.
He has a very distinctive voice and incredible range. I remembering worrying that Luke was going to limit his own castability by becoming known just for his videos and his riffs.
He proved me wrong when he became alternate to John McCrea sharing the titular role in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
I was at both Luke’s very first and final performances as Jamie, and sitting there in the audience watching Luke as Jamie, I was blown away. He absolutely smashed it, and I will openly admit that I actually preferred Luke’s portray of Jamie. I felt he approached it more tentatively to start giving Jamie more of an arc as his confidence grew throughout the show.
Luke works hard, and takes nothing for granted, and values his strong fan base, and is always incredible nice to them.
It’s fair to say that Luke just loves to sing and he can never seem to say no to taking part in a concert or a cabaret. Even when he was in Soho Cinders, he honoured a prior commitment to perform with Collabro in Durham, taking a night off from Soho Cinders to travel all the way to Durham and back to perform with them.
It must be exhausting for Luke to do all these cabarets, and as well as worrying about Luke’s stamina, I was worried that an audience might be growing tired of Luke performing at so many cabarets. I wondered whether an audience would frankly get sick of him. However there is no chance anyone could. Luke is naturally warm and funny and incredible charismatic, and it comes across in every concert he takes part in. He also changes things up, and rarely performs the same songs twice.
In his evening at The Other Palace, Luke sang music from Taboo the musical, Adele and a song by Billie Eilish, who was recently announced as the vocalist on the new James Bond soundtrack.
Luke is also a huge champion for new talent, and is incredibly encouraging and supportive of other people. Having seen her in Once On This Island at the Southwalk Playhouse, Luke invited the incredible Aviva Tulley to perform with him. Aviva has a stunning voice, and reminded me of a young Cynthia Erivo, who once sang on the same stage here at The Other Palace studio space, and is now nominated for two Academy Awards.
With Caroline Kay, he sang one of her own song’s ‘Museum of Collections’ and then also sang ‘Home’ from The Wiz with the incredible Max Harwood. Max who later this year will appear in the movie adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, just like Luke has an incredible voice, and for any Jamie fans in the audience (myself included) it was brilliant to see these two singing together.
I have nothing but respect for Luke, not only for his talent but for how he conducts himself. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet him, he will just brighten up your entire day.
Here are some of the songs from his cabaret that you can find on my YouTube channel:
Aviva Tulley ‘The Human Heart’ from Once On This Island
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/w17NzrZOoN8
Luke Bayer ‘Take Me Away’ by Scott Alan
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/lZ9Cqtampgo
Caroline Kay with Luke Bayer ‘Museum of Collections’
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/sImbbfu65qQ
Caroline Kay ‘Can’t Get My Love’
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/kkUpc9bmLhA
Luke Bayer and Max Harwood ‘Home’ from The Wiz
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/CEW8JzRy2nI
On Wednesday, I was due to interview the cast of Coming Clean, however due to the imposition of two of the actors, we had to reschedule and later abandon the interview.
It was a shame as I really was looking forward to chatting to them about this production.
In the evening, I was back at the Other Palace, this time to watch Andy Coxon.
Andy is incredible sexy. I’m allowed to say that because we’re mates, and because it’s true.
I first met Andy when we both worked on the Les Miserables movie, Andy then went into the West End production, and was also one of the original members of the Barricade Boys, a super group formed of rotating members of Les Miserable who now continue to tour the world.
He continued to work in the West End appearing in Beautiful, before suffering from a frustrating spate of almost being cast in several productions, making it to the final rounds but not getting booked. It happens to everyone in the industry, it is the nature of the business, but I remember chatting to Andy at the time, and it was really beginning to get him down, which is horrible to watch someone who you know is incredibly talented begin to doubt themselves.
Andy’s luck, however did change, and he was
cast in the show Yank! at the Charing Cross Theatre, after this he appeared in Hair at the Vaults, and last summer achieved a career highlight by playing Tony in West Side Story at the Manchester Exchange Theatre.
I traveled up to Manchester to see him in West Side Story, and he and the production, and everyone involved were brilliant. It was a stunning show, with Andy proving he was a bona fide leading man. What impressed me the most, is that Andy’s casting as Tony came shortly after several reports in the media suggesting that gay actors can’t play straight characters convincingly. Andy completed proved them wrong. As an openly gay man, he was completely convincing as Tony and previously as Berger in Hair. Although Berger did swing both ways. Again Andy was magnificent in that, which was also a sizzling production.
Andy’s solo concert consisted of songs from Les Miserables, and West Side Story as well as opening up by sharing songs that were personal to him, at one point he became overwhelmed whilst singing ‘Dear Mr President’ by P!nk, he also performed an incredible version of a new song from Ben Platt’s album.
At concerts like this, you often hear the same people singing the same songs, and in a two week series of cabarets, you can guarantee there will be a few songs that pop up more than once. So it is really nice when someone performs something new, that you haven’t heard before.
Andy was accompanied by Nick Barstow who he had befriended and worked with before. Nick is a brilliant music director and composer, and Andy appears on his Re:Arrangement album, singing a new version of ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar.
Andy chatted candidly about relationships, and work, and told us stories about working on the Les Miserables movie, I was gobsmacked when Andy openly told the audience a story about Tom Hooper the director of Les Miserables. He also talked about working with Scott Alan, and then introduced his special guest Emma Hatton, whom he worked with in the Scott Alan musical The Distance We Have Come.
It was a gorgeous evening, and really nice to see Andy through and overcome his fears and anxieties about commanding his own solo show. He was natural and sounded incredible, and I am sure now that he has done this one, it’ll spur him on to do more of them.
Andy will also be returning to Manchester Exchange Theatre this summer to reprise the role of Tony in their stunning production of West Side Story.
Here are a selection of the songs that Andy performed which I uploaded to my YouTube channel:
Andy Coxon ‘I Dreamed A Dream’
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/1eRt3JJGXHg
Andy Coxon and Emma Hatton performing ‘Only Us’ from Dear Evan Hansen
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/LzUpCVTSddc
Andy Coxon performing ‘In Case You Don’t Live Forever’ by Ben Platt
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/_oyCF9NsIDc
Andy Coxon performing ‘The Schmuel Song’ From The Last Five Years
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/miTOPLZ_aa8
Andy Coxon performing ‘Maria’ from West Side Story
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/ySJQVFilQBI
On Thursday, I travelled all the way up to Sheffield especially to see my pal Adrian Hansel in Guys and Dolls at the Sheffield Crucible.
Completing their six week run, I booked a ticket to see their final Thursday matinee so that I could travel to Sheffield and back in the same day.
Astonishingly this was the first time that I have actually ever visited the Crucible theatre, which was the theatre where Everybody’s Talking About Jamie started out before moving to London.
I once saw Guys and Dolls in the West End where it starred Simon Lipkin and Rebel Wilson. It had a very old broadway, classic look, which director Robert Hastie has stripped back for its Sheffield audience.
The costumes are still in keeping with any original setting, however sets have been stripped away to simple steel frames that slide in and out over a revolve. Similar in style to last year’s production of West Side Story in Manchester, it opened up the space and made way for the huge dance sequences.
In Guys and Dolls, although there are some fabulous dance sequences, between these the vast set looked rather sparse, however the incredible cast did superb work filling it.
With experience in film and TV as well as theatre, the Crucible’s artist director Robert Hastie has assembled a stellar cast of really strong performers who can really act well.
Martin Marquez and Natalie Casey are brilliant, with Natalie playing Miss Adelaide, its nice to see how this part should be done, after seeing Rebel Wilson.
Else where, Alex Young is incredible, partnered beautifully with Kadiff Kirwan they are both magnificent.
TJ Lloyd who I last saw in Bananaman The Musical, is perfectly cast as Nicely Nicely and is brilliant.
Obviously Adrian was fantastic too.
The ensemble cast are much younger than I saw in the West End and consisted of my pal Jacob Fisher, and the gorgeous Darragh Cowley who slicked his trademark curly hair back for this production, before shaving it off entirely after finishing the run. He still looks stunning.
Choreographed by Matt Flint the dance sequences are slick and upbeat with the ensemble completed by Dafydd Emyr, Dawn Hope, Matthew Malthouse, Ross McLaren, Garry Robson, Alex Young, Shaquille Brush, Frances Camier, Charlotte Coggin, Adam Denman, Emily Dunn, Tash Holway, Samantha Hull, Kate Playdon and Anthony Starr.
All in all it was a wholesome production. Without any huge updates and wasn’t presented in a particularly different way. It certainly delivered as a faithful revival of the classic musical written in 1950.
On Friday evening I went to watch Caroline Kay at The Other Palace.
I first met Caroline last year when I interviewed her ahead of her cabaret at the Crazy Coq. She walked in, looking stunning, and as soon as she began to talk I adored her. Her Irish charm is alluring.
Before the interview, I had done my research and looked up and listened to her two EPs. I remember feeling pleasantly surprised by how brilliant and catchy her songs were.
We chatted about these and her career in general, and I was struck by how ambitious and self motivated Caroline was.
She is stunning, and her voice is gorgeous. But yet since graduating from Mountview, she hasn’t really found or been giving the right opportunity in musical theatrical. It’s a shame, and quite frankly a travesty that she hasn’t landed any roles or hit the West End yet. But the West End’s loss, is Spotify’s gain, as this slump in theatre work and opportunity has driven Caroline to create some of the best self penned songs, I have heard from a female performer.
I’ve said this before about Caroline, and I will say it again, I would not be surprised if Caroline becomes the next Sara Bareilles. I say this based on the fact that Caroline has previously presented and is continuing to develop and write a musical with herself as the lead called Daisy. I’ve not seen it, but based on her songs, she has a style similar to Sara’s who made her name and recent fortune in theatre writing Waitress, which she is also about to return to in the West End.
Caroline’s concert at the Other Palace was a perfect mix of her own songs and some classic musical theatre and pop songs.
Although she’ll complain she struggled to even walk on to the stage in her figure hugging skirt. She looked fabulous and appeared relaxed, confident and self assured as she greeted the packed out audience that included her parents who had flown over from Ireland.
I noticed as well, and I’m not sure whether this was because it was Friday evening. (Arguably the best slot of the week) but Caroline’s audience were easily the warmest and most receptive audience that I had seen all week at any of these shows.
I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised by how strong Caroline’s fan base was. Until this I thought she was a well kept secret, but it clearly seems that Caroline has well and truly been discovered by many.
Her incredible guests (As if she even needed support) were Luke Bayer, Molly Lynch, and Tom Duern with MD Flynn Sturgeon.
Tom produced the Roles We’ll Never Play series in which Caroline has performed twice with Flynn Sturgeon as musical director at both.
At twenty-two Flynn is a sparky and very talented young musician. I chatted to him afterwards and pointed out that what I like the most about Flynn is that he smiles as he performs. A lot of musical directors, frankly look miserable when they’re sat behind the piano, as if we can’t see them frowning.
In keeping with mash ups and rearrangements, Caroline and Tom performed a medley of songs from the pop group TLC.
Tom’s voice sounded exceptional as always, although perhaps a little work is needed if hid rapping is to be revered. He did struggle a little with one of the verses, not that it deterred him.
Caroline had already performed three of her own songs before welcome surprise guest Dan Buckley who she literally plucked out of the audience to perform ‘Museum of Collections’. A song that they had previously recorded and released together.
I hadn’t seen Dan since he was last here at the Other Palace performing in Eugenius and it was nice to see him back. He is brilliant.
Caroline then squeezed in a superb rendition of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ before inviting her next guest and fellow Irish sweetheart Molly Lynch to perform a special new version of ‘When She Loved Me’ arranged by Flynn.
Flynn then continued to show off his talents by accompanying and singing with Caroline on her brilliant and incredibly catchy song
‘Better Than You’.
Having performed with the man himself at one of his concerts she next performed
‘Anything Worth Holding On To’ by Scott Alan accompanying herself on the piano. Before breaking trend by performing ‘What Baking Can Do’ from Waitress, rather than ‘She Used To Be Mine’ that people usually go for.
Her final guest was the incredible Luke Bayer who joined Caroline to perform a moving version of her song ‘Always You’ that she dedicated to her parents.
Caroline’s rapport with the audience was superb. She has a naturally dry sense of humour that I absolutely adore. She effortlessly kept the audience engaged and entertained.
Her final song was a brilliant take on ‘Moving Too Fast’ from The Last Five Years. Written for the male character, she gave it her own little spin.
Caroline then welcomed all her guests back to perform a haunting and beautiful rendition of ‘Into the Unknown’ from Frozen 2 arranged again by Flynn.
It was a brilliant evening, and Caroline spent a long time after the show chatting to her fans.
What I love about Caroline is how kind natured and supportive she is. Even after our interview at the Crazy Coq, Caroline sent me a personal voice note thanking me for the care and time that I had taken to edit it. She also posted an adorable video of her proud parents watching the interview.
Recognition and appreciation like this makes such a difference, and really encourages and reminds me why I do it. Creating this blog takes a lot of time and work, and Caroline is always the first to recognise this and thank me for it, which I really appreciate.
Here are all the songs that I uploaded to YouTube from the evening.
Caroline Kay. Colours of the Wind. Pocahontas.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/6E_EjXc4fdM
Caroline Kay and Tom Duern. TLC Medley.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/8DcYaGNFI7o
Caroline Kay and Dan Buckley. Museum of Collections.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/5nS9-evy68s
Caroline Kay. Don’t Rain On My Parade.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/wXlyoFlsZeM
Caroline Kay and Molly Lynch. When She Loved Me.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/d2BRqjgAxF4
Caroline Kay with Flynn Sturgeon ‘Better Than You’
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/nnndMQOsqYc
Caroline Kay. Anything Worth Holding On To. Scott Alan.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/hlSKVCV5VYc
Caroline Kay ‘What Baking Can Do’ from Waitress.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/nz1rrWZfwjo
Caroline Kay and Luke Bayer. Always You.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/CFg-YCpyxj8
Caroline Kay. Moving Too Fast. The Last Five Years. Jason Robert Brown.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/J-zhKnGesm4
Caroline Kay. Luke Bayer. Molly Lynch. Tom Duern. Into The Unknown. Frozen 2. The Other Palace.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/yCivIgoZJrg
On Saturday afternoon, I had planned to travel to Leicester for the last day of their production of West Side Story, starring Jamie Muscato. However, I didn’t want to exhaust myself, so instead I stayed in London for the other reason, to watch my pal Liam Doyle for his New Year, New Favourites cabaret at The Other Palace produced by Lambert Jackson Productions.
Founded by Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson, these guys are brilliant, and this series of cabarets have proved really popular. I managed to get to as many of them as I could, and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.
Liam was probably the only person in this series to actually engage with the theme of “New Favourites”. For his set list he selected songs that were new favourites of his, and new writing. Within this he also grouped songs together in themes, with one set exploring the varies stages of a relationship, and dedicated a song to his girlfriend Jodie Steele.
Like Andy Coxon earlier in the week, for Liam doing his own show was a personal challenge, but for different reasons. Liam underwent vocal surgery four months ago, which at the time must have been worried and quite scary. For Liam who loves singing, to potentially lose his voice was devastating. Fortunately the operation went well, and Liam has made a full recovery.
Even so, typical of Liam he had to challenge himself and picked a bunch of songs with some high notes, to kick off his set. It was a personal triumph for Liam to be back on a stage singing again, and he was brilliant. Like everyone in this series, he seemed so comfortable and at ease in front of a small intimate audience.
His special guests were Bronte Barbe and Jonny Purchase and his musical director was Kris Rawlinson.
It was a brilliant afternoon hearing Liam sing some new songs and some classic favourites. I posted some of these on my YouTube channel.
Liam Doyle performing ‘Boy With Dreams.’ from Edges by Pasek and Paul
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/sWp1_xnyWC0
Liam Doyle performing ‘What Is It About Her.’ from The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/V4M4eOwVyRQ
Liam Doyle performing ‘Grow As We Go’ by Ben Platt at The Other Palace.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/WVRjYnY5TbM
Liam Doyle performing ‘In Love With You’ from First Date by Austin Winsberg, Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/yz0uQGfDiDU
Liam Doyle. Jonny Purchase. She. Georgia Stitt.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/bY1x129pM-Q
Jonny Purchase. No More Roxanne from The Man Who Would Be King.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/lhKspdmb-Yg
Liam Doyle and Bronte Barbe performing ‘You Matter To Me’ from Waitress
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/iaBRbN7ABwQ
Bronte Barbe performing ‘Out Of My Head’ by Kooman and Dimond.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/kC4vQDH-IPA
On Saturday evening I went to watch Fix at The Pleasance.
Presented as part of their New Work 2020 season, this was the first production of ten shows that will continue until June.
Fix is written by Julie Tsang and directed by Jen Tan, and is produced by Unbroken Theatre in association with Yellow Earth Theatre.
It is a two hander starring Mikey Anthony-Howe and Tina Chiang.
Tina is an old friend of mine who I used to work with at the Actors Centre, she has continued to perform and has done some incredible work in TV and theatre. Last year she appeared in the acclaimed BBC series Bodyguard and last summer she was in the brilliant play E8 at Edinburgh Fringe.
Tina is a brilliant actress, and I love watching her perform, she also has impeccable good judgement about the work she does, always selecting brilliant writing.
Fix is a superb thriller that grips you from the start and holds you in for the entire one act.
Superbly performed by Mikey and Tina, who manage to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Horror as a genre is difficult to achieve well within theatre, successful shows like the Woman in Black, do rely in part to set pieces and special effects. In Fix however, all the suspense and tension is build and held solely by the performances, and it is brilliant.
The writing lures you in, and the superb lighting and sound pull you further into the story.
It was presented in the Pleasance smaller venue, which is shaped like a shipping container.
It is on until February 1st and I throughly recommend it.
On Sunday I was invited by Scott Nichol to watch what he described as an “urban street panto” that he was performing in called Super Heroes and the Magic Lamp at Millfield Theatre.
As a white Scottish boy, I was certainly intrigued to find out more about Scott’s involvement as he isn’t what I would typically describe as urban or street, but then why not. As I was about to be reminded street and commercial dance is taking over popular culture and defiantly is being found rising through musical theatre.
Scott was playing Widow Twankey in this clever take on a traditional panto of Aladdin. Incorporating into that story, four popular superheroes, Captain America, Black Panther, Super Girl and Spiderman.
It seems a mad concept to mash up these two genres, but then when you think about it, it’s genius. Kids love superheroes and the idea of incorporating them into a panto actually really works well.
The show is written and directed by Erina Lewis, and is also a huge showcase and celebration of the work done by the students of Platinum Performing Arts. The weekend school that Erina is now Vice President for, having originally attending herself since she was three years old.
Platinum continue to teach a range of classes in street dance, commercial dance, ballet, tap, contemporary, singing and drama, for ages 3 to 25.
It’s seems a brilliant division for young and aspiring performers.
As I say, theatre is already evolving to incorporate this style of dance, which is already seen across TV in shows like the X Factor and Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
Erina and her sister Kyra Lewis appeared together on the most recent series of the X Factor. Enhancing their profile they both perform in Super Heroes and the Magic Lamp as the Genie and the Spirit of the Ring.
The show is faithful to the Aladdin story with a few tweaks to incorporate the superheroes, and the scenes are interjected with brilliant dance sequences from all the cast and students.
These are superbly executed and are incredible. The kids knock out routines that you would see on the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent and everyone involved is incredibly talented.
This is the type of dance that these kids are seeing on TV, and doing in their bedrooms, so it makes so much sense for a dance college to encourage this with pioneering focus on this style.
Scott who trained with Erina at Italia Conti now works with Platinum to include some traditional musical theatre as well now. Providing a full and well rounded programme for all the kids.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which was completely unlike any panto I have seen before. It was so fresh and current and delivered on all levels.
It was a little rough around the edges, but this is a thriving and up and coming company working within their means to put the kids first and provide this platform and opportunity did their work and talents to be seen by an audience and their chance to take part in a professional show.
For me, it’s exactly the right direction producers show be taking to update and move pantomime into the 2020.
Several choreographers were credited for their work and included by Tania Chrysanthou. Lashane Williams. Kash Powell. Tendai Chitate. Sereece Martin. Greg Armand. Kenedy Small. Matthew Dawkins. Carlie Cokell-Smith.
Performing were Tommy Keeling. Tyler Cunningham. Kyraa Lewis. Jediael Stilling. Annabelle Davis. Shakane McLeod. Ayo Fawole. Loraine Hunte. Jessica King. Mia Chari Advani. Faye Edwards. Marion Davidson. Scott Nichol. Harmony Cover-Allicock. Alexis Waldcock. L’Shay Cover-Allcock. Zoe Hughes. Mia Benbow. Lia Theodolou. Leah Schoburgh. Luana Levene. J’ci Bonsu.
If you would like any more information about the school, please visit https://www.platinumperformingarts.co.uk/
Super Heroes and the Magic Lamp continues at the Millfield Theatre from 24-26th January.
To book tickets visit: https://www.millfieldtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/superheroes-the-magic-lamp/
On Sunday I was invited by musical theatre and classical singer David Fearn as he debuted his brand new drag persona Davida Loca.
Having only once dressed up before in drag, this is an entirely new enterprise that David is hoping to develop.
To make her entrance onto the scene, and to road test her heels, David booked the exclusive and beautiful Shoredich Tree House. A private residence in Shoredich that operates as a pop up venue for intimate music showcases and cabarets.
David in full face, was rehearsing as I arrived to set up, having offered to record all the performances.
The special guests that he had assembled for the evening included Maiya Quansah-Breed. Nuwan Hugh Perera. Adam Petitt. Caroline Daggett and Lizzie Holmes under the musical direction of Dan Turek, and the entire evening was in aid of Crisis UK raising over £1000 from ticket sales.
Although I have seen many drag queens who can sing as well as lip sync, I have never seen a drag queen with a classical background.
Setting Davida Loca apart, her set was a combination of musical theatre and classical music, with each of her guests sounding incredible.
The intimidate setting of the Shoredich Tree House created a brilliant ambience.
Davida looked stunning, making her grand entrance in a beautiful black dress, performing ‘Fabulous’ from Sister Act.
She then performed the popular choice ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ from Six.
Maiya Quansah-Breed who was one of original Queens but has since left the show, now lives in Manchester and travelled down to London especially to take part in this show. She joined Davida to sing ‘Some Day’ from The Hunchback of Notra Dame as well as ‘Take Me Or Leave Me’ from Rent. Maiya also sang ‘The Man That Got Away’.
Davida skilfully and brilliantly hosted the evening, appearing relaxed, confident and very funny.
She performed ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ from the Phantom of the Opera. Before mixing it up with a brilliant rendition of ‘I Know Him So Well’ in which he impersonated Cher and Britney Spears. It was hilarious.
The comedy continued as Davida gave a hilarious synopsis of the Cats movie before performing a reworked version of ‘Memory’ with comical new lyrics that she had written.
She also reworked ‘What Comes Next?’ from Hamilton to reflect Meghan and Harry’s recent departure from the UK.
Adam Petitt sounded incredible performing ‘Who I’ll Be’ from Shrek and ‘Music of the Night’ from the Phantom of the Opera.
Classical singers Caroline Daggett and Lizzie Holmes sounding superb and were hilarious as they sang ‘Women’ from Candide, Lizzie also sang ‘Glitter and Be Gay’.
Davida finished the evening by performing ‘I Am What I Am’.
I was incredibly impressed by Davida and felt the entire evening went really well. As a first try out in drag, David was incredibly accomplished and looked and sounded brilliant.
It’s an amazing achievement, and I can only see Davida Loca’s act getting even better and better.
Some of the videos of their performances can be found as highlights in my accompanying Vlog this week, and I will be uploading full videos in due course.
The accompanying Vlog for this week can be found on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/deefoNzLNJ4
And the audio version can be found as a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/thatstageyblog/episodes/Vlog-49--Audio-eac94g