My Stagey Week 43
On Monday, the incredible cast and company of Falsettos, Natasha J Barnes, Gemma Knight Jones, Daniel Boys, Joel Montague, Laura Pitt Pulford, Oliver Savile dedicated their show to MAD Trust presenting a special charity gala hosted By Claudia Winkleman and Gaby Roslin
I arrived to a fabulous drinks reception at The Other Palace, where Matheson Bayley was playing the piano as we enjoyed prosecco and prosecco.
Claudia Winkleman gave a short speech telling us a little bit more about how all the money raised would be spent.
After this, I raced across town to Freedom Bar Soho for the final of The Crown.
Not to be confused with the acclaimed Netflix TV series about the Queen, this was a fantastic talent search looking for the next drag royalty in London. Think Ru Paul’s Drag Race but live, with various new and aspiring drag queens from the London circuit.
Hosted by Ophelia Love and Kitty Scott-Claus whose YouTube series The Tea Bag. I am obsessed with. Their chemistry and banter is hilarious. The finalists were Anna Toni. Sissy Lea and Vanity Milan.
They opened the evening with a spectacular and inspired group lip sync rendition of ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj which was simply brilliant.
Each finalist then performed two solo routines choosing whether to sing live and dance or lip sync.
The audience went wild for each performance with whistles, fog horns and confetti cannons dominating the evening.
Vanity Milan became an early favourite for me, bringing out two backing dancers for her first routine before embodying Beyoncé with her second.
The final was adjudicated by returning judges Carl Mullaney, Demi Noire, Louis Cyfer and Stuart Saint, and new judge Meth the Queen.
Each judge gave feedback to the finalists after each performance. Carl Mullaney also Meth both also performed as well as the incredible Demi Noire who looked stunning as she performed a brilliant burlesque routine. I’m not normally a huge fan of burlesque, too much tits and ass for me, but Demi Noire was something really special, and I was captivated.
The audience then selected the winner by distributing tokens to each Queen who they wanted to win.
It was a very close competition with Vanity Milan being crowned the winner.
It was a genuinely brilliant and entertaining evening, which I filmed in it’s entirety for my YouTube channel.
You can watch it here: 📺 YouTube
They have already announced that they will be bringing the competition back for a second series in February 2020.
If you are a drag queen and fancy applying, visit: https://forms.gle/JpPCkLSvAt8RwfBa7
After this I stuck around for Kinky Kabaret. Hosting as always by Carl Mullaney, this week they had a diva takeover, feautung Bleu Woodward, Laura Mansell, Lisa Marie Holmes and Katie Birtill who were all in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
They each have incredible voices and all sounded exceptional, singing a range of songs from Priscilla as well as a few other classics.
All the videos can be found on my YouTube page.
Bleu Woodward. I've Never Been To Me.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/3LY2fND1Lnc
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/P4_6nrkZ_IE
Laura Mansell. The Show Must Go On.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/VITKJKpe0ds
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/qZfFiYRQlTI
Laura Mansell and Lisa Marie Holmes. Tell Him.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/MAsK3lmXxWI
Katie Birtill. How Come You Don’t Call Me by Alicia Keys.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/WKOLFWNqp5k
The Best by Tina Turner
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/6JwC_G_Egpk
Lisa Marie Holmes. MacArthur Park.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/mg4ldw-LpuE
I Have Nothing.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/zjJXyL2zoiQ
Laura Mansell. Lisa Marie Holmes. Katie Birtill and Bleu Woodward. Finally and I Will Survive.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/DkTcQMiWDVA
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/oBYq-PDYZVM
On Tuesday I watched the cinema screening of 42nd Street.
Filmed especially for the big screen whilst in the West End, I originally saw this production twice before it closed.
Starring Bonnie Langford, it was shot beautifully and brilliantly translated onto the big screen.
As I sat watching it, I was reminded how stunning this production is, and how spectacular those huge ensemble sequences were.
Tom Lister, who I still remember from Emmerdale delivers a cracking performance. I remember seeing him in a short lived production of Waterbabies at the Leicester curve with Lauren Samuels and Louise Dearman.
Clare Halse who is currently in the West End’s production of White Christmas is also magnificent.
But the star of the show is Philip Bertioli, who during its run on Drury Lane was part of the ensemble. In a care of life initiating art, Philip stepped up to replace Ashley Day who held the role of Billy Lawlor.
Philip goes to my gym, and is incredibly gorgeous. He has recently completed the run of Fiddler on the Roof, and is about to appear in Singin’ In The Rain at the Mill at Sonnig.
After the film, I text Alyn Hawke who appeared in it, and watched it in Wales with his family. I made a joke about being able to see his nipples through the white vest he had to wear.
On Wednesday I was at the press night for Mary Poppins.
The much anticipated return for the show that opening in the West End at the exact same theatre, the Prince Edward in 2004, and is the only Disney musical to have opened in the UK. It went on to open on Broadway in 2006.
Laura Michelle Kelly originated the role of Mary winning an Olivier award.
The show closed in the West End after three years in 2008, but went on to tour.
Zizi Strallen who now plays Mary was part of the touring production from 2015. Zizi’s sister Scarlett Strallen played Mary on Broadway.
New to the production is Charlie Stemp, who fits the role perfectly having rose to fame in Half A Sixpence. Also produced by Cameron Macintosh and written by Styles and Drew.
Styles and Drew have written additional songs for Mary Poppins which features the original songs from the movie and the book has been written by Julian Fellowes who also wrote the book for Half A Six Pence.
Mary Poppins remains a brilliant wholesome show that offers something for everyone. It retains the charm and brilliance of the original film, with the new songs sitting comfortably next to the original.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think the new songs would carry an entire musical on their own, but alongside the classic songs they work well.
The production is stunning and colourful, and a much needed escape from the world outside.
There is something magical about Mary Poppins as a story that captures everyone’s hearts and this production I’m sure won’t fail to win yours over too.
It is choreographed by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, with stunning ensemble tap sequences which are astounding.
The set, which remains unchanged from the original production, is nice and clever, and brilliantly lit.
For me, Petula Clark doesn’t really bring anything extra to the role of the bird women, and felt like an unnecessary casting. Although her performance isn’t bad.
I was seated next to Zizi Strallen’s mum who looked incredibly proud throughout the show.
It was lovely to see Matthew Croke who had not been back to the Prince Edward theatre since he played Aladdin here until it closed to make way for Mary Poppins. He was accompanied by his beautiful wife.
After the show, a fleet of old red London buses was hired to travel us all to the Victoria Palace Theatre which had been superbly and quickly decorated following the performance of Hamilton there.
The food was typical of Cameron Macintosh’s generosity, who certainly knows how to throw a party. There was a lavish cold meat and fish counter on two floors with a third floor that served bangers and mash. The basement was converted to a dance floor and cocktail bar, with the bars across all floors completely free and serving until 2am.
I chatted to Stan Doughty who plays one of the statues in a very revealing costume who said he is absolutely loving being part of the show.
I also caught up with the gorgeous Jacqueline Hughes who was with her husband. She looked stunning and was brilliant playing one of the nannies at the beginning of Mary Poppins.
I chatted to Charlie and Zizi who both looked stunning as they enjoyed the party, and also caught up with Strictly Come Dancing and Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher, as well as my old Arts Ed pal Paul Wilkins who has recently finishing the UK tour of Hair.
The party continued till 2am, although I ducked out before this to head home.
I was up on Thursday for some filming in East London after which, I went along to the Phoenix Arts Club for their weekly screening of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK.
Communal screenings took place across bars across the country, throughout the series, and are a great chance to watch and share reaction to the show.
Hosted by Ophelia Love and Kitty Scott-Claus who do an accompanying YouTube series called The Tea Bag, in which they discuss and react to each episode of Drag Race.
I avidly watch these, as I find Ophelia and Kitty are hilarious.
They were joined for the screening by Cheryl Hole, a contestant in the series who was also part of the Girls Aloud tribute band Gals Aloud with Ophelia and Kitty.
In this week’s episode, Cheryl was sent home, which was a shame but it was brilliant to sit with her and watch her own reaction to the show.
After this she was interviewed by Ophelia and Kitty, which you can watch in full on my YouTube channel:
And you can Watch all the episodes of The Tea Bag on TuckShop’s YouTube channel.
Straight after this, I made my way across to the Boulevard Theatre to watch Andrew Patrick-Walker in his cabaret as part of their Finale series.
Launched with Fra Fee, this is the second in the series of late night cabarets.
Andrew Patrick-Walker is a phenomenal performer who I met recently when he appeared in Jerry Springer The Opera and Brooklyn the Musical. His voice is extraordinary and he’s quite cute too.
I met up with Andrew earlier in the week at the Boulevard Theatre to chat about his show and about his career.
The full interview can be found on my YouTube channel:
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/Z-mgHiU199w
Joining Andrew at his cabaret were special guests, Luke Bayer, Natalie Green, Amy Matthews and Courtney Stapleton. Each performed a duet with Andrew.
Andrew is brilliant, and what really struck me watching him perform is his good an actor he is as well as a singer, he was charming and charismatic to watch and put together a very enjoyable evening.
On Friday, I had a shorter day of filming, finishing in time to make my way across to the BFI, for the special advanced screening of Frozen 2, a whole week before it is released in cinemas.
I am the biggest fan of the original movie, and Olaf, and saw the Broadway adaptation last year in New York.
I was so excited to see this sequel, and a little apprehensive whether it would be as good as the original.
As I took my seat, I could not contain my excitement.
Wow. It was everything I wanted and more. It was simply brilliant. The new songs are just as good, but the whole story feels so much more developed. The characters are explored further, Olaf is funnier, it goes deeper and darker than the original, and even defies Disney’s legacy by including characters of colour and a character called Ryder who although it’s not confirmed, it’s certainly alluded that he might possibly be gay.
It is a stunning film, I laughed, I cried, I can’t wait to see it again.
Afterwards there was a Q&A with directors Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck. I was ready and prepared to ask Jennifer to confirm or deny whether Ryder was in fact a gay character and to ask when and if ever Disney would produce a film with an openly gay character. Unfortunately they preferenced taking questions from the children in the audience, who to be fair, had quite sensible questions.
My heart was completely full as I made my way home whistling the new songs from rye movie which are now instantly stuck in my head.
On Saturday afternoon I went to watch two plays at the Bunker Theatre, which are being presented as a double bill. I sat with my friend Hannah who works there, and discussed the recent announcement that due to redevelopment the Bunker Theatre will soon close due to redevelopment, it’s a shame, as the theatre has produced some brilliant work within it’s short three year history.
The first of the double bill was Before I Was A Bear.
Starring Jacoba Williams it explores and examines adultery and slut shaming with in social media and society.
Brilliantly written as a one women show by by Eleanor Tindall and directed by Aneesha Srinivasan I thought it was superb.
Jacoba Williams is a brilliant actress. Her performance was captivating and sincere and very authentic and thoroughly deserved the glowing five star review that The Stage awarded it.
After this I watched I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)
Written by Ava Wong Davies, directed by Helen Morley, and starring Tuyen Do and Aoife Hinds appealed less to me than Before I Was A Bear.
The poetic style of the language, although beautiful was lost on me, as I struggled to connect with the play as the two characters remained segregated although occupying the same space for most of the play. The stylised movements were also discordant for me.
After this, I went to the Phoenix Arts Club where my friend Miss Rosie Beaver was making a triumphant return to the London drag scene.
Rosie Beaver is the drag persona of Christopher D Clegg who now runs the successful production house and management team Tuck Shop that looks after several drag queens and produces drag troupes Gals Aloud and The Spice Gals.
Rosie Beaver never takes herself too seriously and loves to perform live mash ups and magic tricks. Her set went down well alongside Gingzilla and host Michael Twaits, with Sarah Bodalbhai accompanying them on the piano.
Michael Twaits is a superb host with a gorgeous voice and Gingzilla always puts on a terrific show.
The venue was full to capacity, and I almost would not have got in had I not been lucky enough to have been there as producer Stuart Saint’s guest, sitting on his table with his friends who were all lovely.
The Phoenix Arts Club recently knocked down a wall adjoining their two rooms and extending their bar. Shows and cabarets are now presented there in the round, which works brilliantly, with lighting, sound and smoke added for effect.
The Phoenix Arts Club also now offers food, making it a brilliant night out.
Sooz Kempner arrived for the second part of the evening serenading us in to the early hours. Although most will lols Sooz for her stand up comedy, she is an accomplished and superb singer with a stunning voice, and loves to sing show tunes. I honestly think Sooz is one of the most underrated performers I know.
I filmed her singing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion which is now on my YouTube page.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/i6cbobfPG2M
On Sunday I was at the Other Palace to watch Jodie Steele as part of Lambert Jackson Production’s Sunday Favourites series.
Founded by performers Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson they have successfully produced concerts at Cadogan Hall and the Other Palace, with Sunday Favourites being their latest series of shows.
Jodie was the last in the series which has included Aimie Atkinson, Alice Fearn, Joe McElderry, David Hunter, and Jason Pennycooke.
Currently on tour in Six, Jodie squeezed this show into her day off, and brought along close friends Michael Vinsen, Kayleigh McKnight, Lauren Samuels, Eloise Davies, Jodie Jacobs and Zoe Birkett with Kris Rawlinson as MD.
Jodie presented a complete look at all the shows she has been in, performing one song from each song chronologically as well as a beautiful rendition of a P!nk song.
Jodie is undeniably an incredibly talented actress and singer, which I am reminded every time I see her. I have been lucky enough to have known her since I first saw her playing Mimi in a small but brilliant production of Rent at the Tabard Theatre.
Since then she has not stopping working, even having to renegotiate her contract so that she could perform in both Heathers and Rock of Ages.
The evening was brilliant, not only because Jodie is so fantastic, but also thanks to her superb guests. Michael Vinsen, I still regard as one of the finest actors in musical theatre since seeing him in the original cast of Bare. Kayleigh McKnight is stunning and has just returned from touring the world with Hugh Jackman, Lauren Samuels again is a formidable actress as well as a superb singer and Zoe Birkett’s legendary voice I have been aware off even before she entered the first and ordinal series Pop Idol. Zoe and I grew up in neighbouring towns in the North-East of England.
Eloise Davies and Jodie Jacobs reunited with Jodie to perform a song from the musical Myth, written by Sam Cassidy.
When Myth was produced at the Other Palace, I made a disparaging joke on Facebook about the show, which Sam took to heart and I don’t think has ever forgiven me.
Although I acknowledged at the time, that I didn’t think the show was that good, listening to the girls perform again, I have to openly admit that I might have been wrong.
Listening back, it is a very very good song, and I perhaps think I might have been to quick to disregard Myth, and I certainly owe Sam a further apology.
Knowing how determined and hard working Sam is, I am sure there will be another resurrection of Myth at some point where I will definitely endeavour to see it again, but with a more open view.
It was nice to catch up with Jodie and everyone after the show, which finished nicely by 8pm meaning that I was home by 9pm.
Lambert Jackson Productions have announced their next season of concerts taking place at the Other Palace across January with an incredible array of talent including Jodie’s gorgeous boyfriend Liam Doyle.
For more information visit:
The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my YouTube channel here:https://youtu.be/4E4vbTFBTmA
And the audio version can be found as a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/thatstageyblog/episodes/Vlog-43---Audio-e960ak