My Stagey Week 46
On Monday. I went to the cinema to watch the screening of Les Miserables The Staged Concert.
I honestly didn’t realise that this was being filmed live. I had thought that it had been recorded the previous day.
To commemorate the final performance of this incredibly unique cast, it was being filmed and beamed out to cinemas around the country and will also be released on DVD.
It is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who didn’t manage or wasn’t prepared to pay the high priced theatre tickets to get to see it.
I was one of those people, who, knowing I could see it in the comfort of the cinema using my Cineworld membership, I would get the best seat in the house to watch this fantastic show, and it really really is the greatest show.
Les Miserables, as everyone knows, has been running since 1985, and in order not to break it’s legacy of being the longest running musical in the West End, when it was decided that it’s home the Queen’s theatre was to undergo a refurbishment. The production shut down, and moved next door to the Gielgud Theatre, when it would become the “All-Star Staged Concert” for a limited 16 week run.
Although a gimmicky name, it is fair to say that they really did draft in a roster of actors who have become stars, in part largely thanks to their involvement with Les Miserables.
Michael Ball who is now a household name, is playing Javert, having started his career by originated the role of Marius in the original production in 1985.
Most recently he is known for pairing up with Alfie Boe in 2016 to release the album Together, they have since released two further albums together and toured.
Alfie Boe has released ten of his own albums since 2006 when he was signed to the Classic FM Presents label as their first signing.
In Les Miserables Alfie played the role of Jean Valjean in the 25th anniversary concert version at the O2 arena. He then played Valjean in the West Ehd and on Broadway. In the All-Stars Staged Concert, Alfie returns to play Valjean.
Earl Carpenter originally played Courfeyrac in Les Miserables in 1997. He went on to play Javert in 2008, which he has played in the West End and on Broadway, a UK tour and Toronto and Asia. In the All-Stars Staged Concert he plays the Bishop who he previously played in the 25th anniversary concert version.
Carrie Hope Fletcher played young Éponine in the West End in 2001 when she was nine years old, in 2013 she played older Éponine and remains the only actress to have played both her both as younger and older. In All-Stars she now plays Fantine.
Matt Lucas made his West End debut as Thénardier in 2011 after playing him at the 25th Anniversary Concerts the year before.
Lily Kerhoas is a graduate from the Royal Academy of Music and made her debut playing Cosette.
Rob Houchen played Marius in the West End from 2013 to 2016.
Bradley Jaden started as an ensemble member then understudied and went on as Jean Valjean. In the West End he held the role of Enjolras, in the show’s 30th anniversary cast before returning to play Javert in the original production until it closed at the Queen’s Theatre. In All-Stars he returns to play Enjolras.
Katy Secombe has played Madame Thénardier three times before. First opposite Matt Lucas in 2012, and then from 2015 to 2018.
Shan Ako was a contestant on the X Factor in 2018, mentored by Simon Cowell and made it through to the quarter final. And now plays Eponine and will continue to play her at the Sondheim Theatre.
The ensemble consisted of Rosanna Bates, Adam Bayjou, Ciarán Bowling, Simon Bowman, Oliver Brenin, Vinny Coyle, Samantha Dorsey, Tamsin Dowsett, Nicola Espallardo, Celia Graham, Barnaby Hughes, Holly-Anne Hull, Oliver Jackson, Christopher Jacobsen, Gavin James, Will Jennings, Ciaran Joyce, Katie Kerr, Sarah Lark, Joanna Loxton, Craig Mather, Stephen Matthews, James Nicholson, Rosa O’Reilly, Claire Parrish, Sophie Reeves, Grainne Renihan, Leo Roberts, Raymond Walsh, Gemma Wardle and Andrew York.
Returning for a special encore were Dean Chisnal. Jon Robyns. John Owen-Jones. And Killian Donnelly.
It’s impossible not to appreciate this musical. It’s rousing score and song after song, each are stand alone brilliant. It was a superb and unique collection of this incredible alumni of actors who have all contributed to the legacy of Les Miserables.
I myself performed Stars as part of my GCSE music exam in 1998. I then also had a small part in the movie in 2012.
Later in the evening I went to Freedom Bar Soho for Kinky Kabaret.
On the line up were Rebecca Lisewski. Craig Webb. Rosie Beaver. Vocal Xtr3me. And burlesque star Didi Derriere.
Rebecca Lisewski has an incredible voice and regularly sings at Kinky Kabaret where I have met her before.
Craig Webb is an old friend with an incredible voice and stage presence, he took part in the BBC talent show Shine, before playing George Michael in the touring show The Best of Wham. He is incredible talented and very sexy.
Rosie Beaver is the drag alter ego of my good friend Christopher D Clegg. Rosie is currently making a resurgence as later this week she played Ginger Spice in the Spice Gals show.
Vocal Xtr3me are a new three piece vocal group with incredible vocals.
I was blown away by these guys, not only are they all quite cute but their harmonies are incredible. They sang two epic medleys of Meat Loaf and Queen songs before finishing off the evening with Do They Know It’s Christmas which is one of my favourite Christmas songs.
I don’t know where these boys came from but I will definitely be looking out for them again.
Earlier in the year, I once posted a video of Grant Jackson, from Vocal Xtr3me, singing the Power of Love whilst working behind the bar at the Admiral Duncan. https://twitter.com/thatstageyblog/status/1141693843454095361?s=21
Here are all the performances from the evening:
One Night Only.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/MENQabe4RN4
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/Z8VqD6c75ec
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/cqc4QZIckTw
Ain’t Giving Up On You.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/s2RmvGl_fD0
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/qAyJc6KYPiY
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/dAeGZR4w5B8
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/-wb9AJl9yR4
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/G4ivVKztgbw
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/2wWneKSoCdY
Do They Know It’s Christmas.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/31hsv7keRdI
After Kinky Kabaret, Chris and I continued drinking whilst the cast of Les Miserables filtered in. It was nice to catch up with them and congratulate them all on such an incredible evening.
On Tuesday I was at the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre for Zomboid!
Produced by Patrick Kennedy Phenomenological Theatre for his Foreman At Fifty series.
This is what’s known as avant-garde, written by prolific author Richard Foreman and designed, directed and installed by Patrick Kennedy.
Patrick Kennedy is a firmer actor who once performed in the West End with Nicole Kidman. He then became a theatre marketing manager and set up Patrick Kennedy Phenomenological to produce alternative creative works.
His tastes are very niche, yet Patrick is very passionate and very committed to giving this style of theatre a platform.
I can’t personally say that I understand or enjoy his work, but I can certainly appreciate it and commend it.
Avante-garde work is very edgy and experimental and incredibly stylised and unorthodox. It often doesn’t have a clear narrative, and can be quite sensually overwhelming.
My brother, who I took along, absolutely loves this art form and completely gets it.
This is the fourth production by Patrick, and I am always impressed by his sheer commitment and daring to be different, I am also always impressed by his actors who throw themselves willingly into the madness.
In this production he is working with Davey Green. Tommy Papaioannou. George Seymour. Georgia Small. Nikitas Stamoulis.
With contributions from Tommaso Giacomin. Robert Wainman and Kate Manheim.
The work is a piece of art with each of the actors a component within it. Although it looks chaotic, it’s meticulously thought through and designed.
Although I doubt this style of theatre will ever take over the world, nor do I think I will ever fully understand or enjoy it, as I say I commend Patrick Kennedy for having the passion and motivation to present this rare and obscure work.
On Wednesday I released the interview I made with the cast and creatives of The Wind of Heaven at the Finborough Theatre.
Producer Bertie Taylor-Smith, director Will Maynard and cast members Louise Breckon-Richards, Rhiannon Neads, Kristy Philipps, Seiriol Tomos, David Whitworth, Melissa Woodbridge.
Rhiannon Neads, I had met before as she is one half of comedy singing duo Stiff & Kitsch, whose Edinburgh shows I saw last year and this year.
It was nice to sit down with them all and talk about this new show which has been revived after 75 years.
Here is the video and podcast:
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/BFgyJNRWqn0
On a Wednesday I was at The Union Theatre to watch Whistle Down The Wind.
This is the original musical version of Whistle Down The Wind that was written in 1989, seven years before Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version came out in 1996. Both were based on the film that cake out in 1961 that was based on the novel that was written in 1959.
This version was adapted by Russell Labey and Richard Taylor with music and lyrics by Richard Taylor.
It was produced by the Union Theatre in 2015 at their previous site, where it starred Alex James Ellison who recently wrote and starred in Fiver, and Bryan Hodgson who went on to direct Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens at the Union Theatre earlier this year.
Juan Miralles is the only cast member to have returned.
The rest of the cast consists of Sadie Levett. Tara Lucas. Stuart Simons. Fiona Tong. Louise Kempson. Eoin McKenna. Will Sutcliffe. Conor O’Rourke. Olivia Wormald. Laura Jeffries. Adrian J Mercer and George Hankers.
George is a friend of mine, who I interviewed last week as part of my World AIDS Day interviews. Having trained at Laine Theatre Arts, this is the first time he had not had to dance.
Sasha Regan has returned to direct and has incorporated the Union Youth Theatre that she runs.
As well as the primary cast, there have been three groups of children from the Union Youth Theatre who rehearse on Sundays brought in to bolster the ensemble scenes, some are also given lines and solos.
It’s a brilliant union of talent and a fantastic opportunity for these young emerging actors to work alongside adults in a professional production, and they blend in perfectly.
Sasha’s own daughter Nellie Regan was one of the soloists and sounded brilliant.
I was really impressed with this show. The music has a Sondheim feel about it, and the scenes are lovely.
Sadie Levett, Tara Lucas and George Hankers are especially great playing young children, they each bring a truthful quality.
All the cast are brilliant, and the nativity scene is hilarious and feels very Christmassy. It is the perfect show to lead up to Christmas.
The set is beautiful and has been built by Justin Williams who has designed many of the shows at the Union Theatre.
The show was also dedicated to Harry Wright, an original cast member from the 2015 production who passed away this year. Collections were made after each performance in aid of the Brain Tumour Charity.
On Thursday I watched The Wind of Heaven. Finborough Theatre.
Written by Emlyn Williams in 1945 it’s a rather kooky story about a mysterious circus owner that arrives in a Welsh village.
With most of the cast delivering brilliant welsh accents and some dialogue in welsh, it really is unlike any play I have seen before.
The acting was incredible from everyone, especially Jamie Wilkes who was unavailable when I filmed the cast interviews earlier in the week.
I first met Jamie Wilkes at the Southwalk
Playhouse where he appeared in The Diary of a Teenage Girl that I worked on.
He’s incredibly handsome and a brilliantly captivating acting, it was difficult to keep my eyes off him.
The set designed by Ceci Calf was beautiful, simple and effective with superb lighting by Ryan Stafford and a brilliant musical score written by Rhiannon Drake.
It was an enchanting story that was very compelling.
On Friday I watched Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Written by Jude Christian and directed by Tinuke Craig who recently directed The Color Purple at Leicester Curve.
It stars Timmika Ramsay as Cinderella in an updated version of the classic panto having played Gloria the Hippo in Madagascar.
Jodie Jacobs plays Buttons, having played Belle in Dick Whittington here at the Lyric Hammersmith last year. Jodie has one of the best voices I have honestly ever heard and typically her vocals sour throughout the show, but she also shows off some brilliant dancing.
Lauren Samuels who also has a incomparable voice plays one of the step sisters along side the brilliant Mairi Barclay who won an OFFIE award this year for her role in Pippin.
Rhys Taylor is superb as Fairy Fredbare, I met and interviewed him earlier in the year when he was part of the cast of Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens at the Union Theatre
Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati returns to the stage having play Ray in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and is brilliant as wicked step mother Madame Melanie.
The energetic ensemble consists of Jon Alderson. Bradley Bryant. Melanie Joyce-Ashurst. Jessica Manu. Carla Reid. And Rachel Shobande.
It was a very funny and entertaining show with some classic pop songs given updated lyrics and worked in to the story.
There was also a nice twist where Lauren Samuel’s as the step sister falls for Jodie Jacobs as Buttons proving that #LoveIsLove.
On Saturday afternoon I watched Cyrano De Bergerac at The Playhouse Theatre. Jamie Lloyd’s new take on the classic play.
The play is no stranger to reinvention having been written in 1897 it has been translated adapted and made in to various films, operas, musicals and even a ballet.
Despite this, I can honestly not recall ever seeing a production of it, and admit I don’t actually know the story of Cyrano De Bergerac, which I think might have impaired my ability to enjoy this production.
Jamie Lloyd’s work is notoriously, stylised, edgy and modern giving classic texts contemporary designs. This year he took over the Pinter Theatre to present an entire series of Pinter’s one act plays. He then redesigned Evita for Regent’s Park.
The result divided opinion, some thought it was too much of a departure from the original work that unless you knew the story and show well, you would be at a loss to decipher it.
I know Evita quite well, as it’s one of my favourite Lloyd Webber shows, and I’ve seen numerous productions of it, so for me I was able to watch Jamie Lloyd’s production comfortably and simply enjoy his new interpretation of it, and I loved it.
Cyrano De Bergerac is being propelled by the star casting of Jamie Lloyd’s muse, James McAvoy.
McAvoy has previously worked with him in The Ruling Class and in Macbeth which was given a post apocalyptic design.
I saw Macbeth and McAvoy was brilliant in it, and I did enjoy the production.
With Cyrano De Bergerac I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy it as much.
It is typically Jamie Lloyd. Stripped away is any set or scenery, a few chairs and some hand held microphones are used. The large cast include beat boxing Vaneeka Dadhira along with Michelle Austin. Adam best. Sam Black. Nari Blair-Mangat. Philip Cairns. Tom Edden. Eben Figueiredo. Chris Fung. Adrian Der Gregorian. Carla Harrison-Hodge. Seun Shote. Kiruna Stamell. Nima Taleghani. Anita-Joy Uwajeh. Mika Johnson. Brinsley Terence.
Collectively they are the most diverse looking company that again you would come to expect from Jamie Lloyd.
Jamie has always set out to draw in new audiences and to make theatre affordable for young and diverse audiences.
He opened the dress rehearsal of Cyrano De Bergerac to anyone through a pay-what-you-can gesture.
Perhaps a young audience will love it. Perhaps even an older audience might take to it too. But for me, sitting somewhere in the middle it just want my thing.
On Saturday evening I was invited to watch A Festive Evening With Patsy May & Friends at the Museum of Comedy.
Patsy May is a puppet act that got to the semi final of series eight of Britain’s Got Talent.
Although I didn’t watch her performances on Britain’s Got Talent I first saw Patsy May at Jonny Labey’s Un-Boxed ReView at SingEasy and thought she was very funny.
Here she was joined by Richard Dawes and Jasz Vegas to present a special festive adult show.
The show was a harmless romp if a little rough around the edges. A ropey sound system actually added to the fun as Patsy made light of it and was quick to joke about it. Patsy is very funny.
On Sunday evening I was at the Leicester Square Christmas spiegeltent to watch The Spice Gals.
The all drag Spice Girls tribute band produced by Tuck Shop.
I am a huge Spice Girl fan and had seen the Spice Gals show before as well as their counterpart Gals Aloud.
The Spice Gals have had a slight change in line up, returning queens Meth, Kitty Scott Claus and Ophelia Love are back as Posh, Baby and Sporty, but added to the line up as Scary Spice is star of Drag Race UK and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Vinegar Strokes. Drag Race UK finalist Baga Chipz had been booked and marketed to play Ginger Spice however pulled out at last minute, prompting Rosie Beaver to stand in.
Rosie absolutely smashed it, and I was honestly realised impressed and a little surprised at how great a dancer she is.
The show itself was a little rough around the edges and wasn’t as tight as the time I had seen it before, which was partly down to the lack of rehearsal time with the new line up I imagine. Also poor Kitty Scott Claus was a bit unwell so was doing her best but her live vocals did suffer, and for some reason Ophelia Love (who is brilliant) broke from form and decided to perform an Ariane Grange song, which although she did well, wasn’t really in keeping with the show.
The backing dancers were superb and very sexy, and over all the show did deliver some cracking routines.
Vinegar Strokes, being new to the fold was a little under under rehearsed, although she was hilarious and brought out a raunchy send up of Scary Spice. Some of the ad libs could have been improved by a little more planning and rehearsal.
I was unfortunately only able to stay to earth half of the show as I then had to race over to The Union Theatre to watch Roles We’ll Never Play.
The returning cabaret continues to sell out each month with producer Tom Duern managing to bring together an incredible line up of talent.
Amongst them, returning favourites James Hinton, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Aoife Clesham, Lawrence Smith, Aran MacRae, Lauren Soley, Josie Kemp all sounded fantastic.
With Ross Hadley, Luke Conner Hall, Katie Megan Weir, Frankie Jones, Ailsa Davidson, Evie Rose Lane, Eve Norris, Charlotte and Elizabeth Yorke.
It was Max Harwood who stood out for me this month. The recent graduate from Urdang Academy was cast earlier this year to play Jamie in the film adaption of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Watching him perform, you can see why, he is an incredible vocalist and has enormous confident on stage.
After this, Kush Khanna performed The Wall In My Head, from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Jacki Pulford who had delivered brilliant performances this year in Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens and in Karaoke gave a superb and hilarious rendition of What Comes Next? from Hamilton.
Maison Kelley tentatively performed Heart of Stone from Six knowing that the audience was made up of die hard fans. It went down brilliantly with Maison sounding incredible.
The evening and arrangements were put together again by MD Flynn Sturgeon with Tom Duern kicking off the evening with a medley of songs from The Color Purple.
Tom’s voice never fails to impress me. He simply is incredible. You can watch the video on my YouTube page https://youtu.be/7ObQ2oAwCR8
Along with all the performances from the night.
Lawrence Smith. Mr Snow. Carousel.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/Th0Ux7ckYMs
Lauren Soley. Come To A Party. Dogfight.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/wbe2v3CBs6g
Max Harwood. Times Are Hard For Dreamers. Amelie.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/3PJ6GcIFbCY
Kush Khanna. The Wall In My Head.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/JIvGFy58E94
Evie Rose Lane. The Movie In My Mind. Miss Saigon.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/Mzq109FntyI
Jacki Pulford. What Comes Next? Hamilton.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/xv4wyDG2m0s
Katie Megan Weir. Someone To Fall Back On. Jason Robert Brown.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/TTyfvA3qX8c
James Hinton. Over The Rainbow. Roles
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/gaH8JDSWnGA
Maison Kelley. Heart of Stone. Six.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/fEeKgFuQFCU
Josie Kemp. Tom Duern. Chip On My Shoulder. Legally Blonde.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/aQesFjigmsE
Aran MacRae. Rocking Around The Christmas Tree.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/VhMvbXl-_Vk
Charlotte Elizabeth Yorke. Out There. The Hunchback of Norte Dame.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/GF4KgbnJsSE
Eve Norris. My Unfortunate Erection.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/sebVumOj9b0
Kush Khanna. Pretty Funny. Dogfight.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/98mI2s6BT7I
Ailsa Davidson. Door Number Three. Sara Bareilles.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/3sNIJbRkOuc
Ross Hadley. Taylor the Latte Boy.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/obc7byQHaDs
Aoife Clesham. Lost In The Waves.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/ljA-6rguWF0
Luke Conner Hall. Screw Loose. Cry Baby.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/yxbziQ_wV4Y
Frankie Jones. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/EYT7LfrUhvI
Ailsa Davidson. Evie Rose Lane. Tonight. West Side Story.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/35qbwGmeFBM
Maiya Quansah-Breed. Christmas Lullaby. Songs For A New World. Jason Robert Brown.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/u-l3k-m-m9A
Tom Duern. Aoife Clesham. Oh Holy Night.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/vHow23iICno
Aran MacRae. Lauren Soley. Josie Kemp. Merry Xmas (War Is Over) John Lennon.
📺 YouTube https://youtu.be/lLnRys7sRhA
The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my YouTube channel here:
And the audio version can be found as a podcast here: