Grace Blackman is a shining example of how you don’t have to go to drama school to make a living as an actor. She a true grafter, in every sense of the word. When she’s not working on feature film set or a short film set or on stage, she’s working tackling strangers in an escape room or she’s working on her showreel or she’s working on a new monologue.
This is what I found so fascinating whilst following her on Twitter. She just seems to always be doing something that is pushing her career in the right direction.
So I figured, why not reach out to see if she’d come talk to me for twenty minutes or so and take me through, and tell you all, what it is that drives her, her work technique, views on job-shaming and so many other things.
Richard Brooker has been involved in theatre for his entire life. From working on the New London Theatre production of Cats, he worked his way up to Sound No. 1 and mixed shows for a dozen years before he started designing. He’s now one of the country’s top sound designers working on shows such as Dreamgirls, The Bodyguard, Funny Girl, Bend it like Beckham, Annie, West Side Story, Sister Act and many, many, many more.
I caught up with him at the get-in of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the New Wimbledon Theatre to chat about his career, the difference a good and bad sound experience can be and how to get into the sound game if you’re interested.
Florian Zeller has a new play in the West End... How many times in recent years have we heard that? But the good thing is, if you do hear that sentence, you know you’re heading for a good evening in the theatre. So book your tickets.
The Son, starring a quartet of incredibly talented actors, lit up The Kiln Theatre garnering rave reviews before announcing a transfer to The Duke of York’s Theatre early on in its run.
Michael Longhurst’s production is a hard-hitting brutal play about teen depression, broken relationships, new relationships and stressed loyalties. But there is so, so much more in this play to discover. We had the opportunity to sit down with the principals in the cast just before warm up - Amaka Okafor, John Light, Laurie Kynaston and Amanda Abbington - to discuss the plays themes, the rehearsal process and the audience reactions.
Sophie Cohen, founder of House of Kittens, an erotic immersive theatre company sat down to chat with me about her new show Amatory Asuylum. The audience will find themselves transported into a world of sensual theatre to experience a unique, immersive journey embracing the surreal, the dramatic and the erotic.
Sophie and I chatted about her concepts for House of Kittens, the shows they create and how immersive theatre is a perfect fit for their shows. But don’t worry, you won’t get dragged up on stage to take part in a spanking…
House of Kittens Tickets (NSFW)
We’re going off-piste this week.
This week, we’re going to give you a three of the bard’s finest works as you have never heard them before.
A colleague of mine many years ago in the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and also a fantastic actor - Mikey O’Connor - well, we started a little project where we wanted to take classic literature and turn them into palatable short versions that you would hear around a campfire, including folk songs.
You get Romeo & Juliet as a country ditty, Henry V as a campfire tale and a Bob Dylan Hamlet.
Ken Davenport is a multiple-Tony Award-winning Broadway producer whose work spans around the globe. For those of you here in the UK, you may be familiar with a few of his productions including “Kinky Boots”, which won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2016 and Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury.
Ken is also busy giving back as much as he can to the theatre community at large. In that vein, he puts on a conference - The Producer’s Perspective Super Conference - every year where the world’s top theatrical talent gather for a weekend of education, inspiration and connection.
We talk to Ken about The Super Conference where hundreds of the world’s smartest creators descend upon New York City to learn what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s actually working and trending.
Book tickets here: Super Conference Website and make sure to use the unique code CURTAIN19 to get your special discount to the conference.
There’s a new theatre in London. And there’s a London debut to mark its opening. The Boulevard Theatre, right-smack-bang-in-the-middle of Soho, is London’s most technologically advanced theatre with a capacity of up to 165, and featuring a full revolving balcony and auditorium!
David Malloy’s Ghost Quartet will open the Boulevard. You may not have heard of the show, and it’s probably because it has never played London. But you’ve most likely heard of David or his shows before, Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 being his most high profile offering, picking up 12 Tony nominations in the 2016-2017 Broadway season and winning many awards on its way there during its off-Broadway run.
Ghost Quartet is a song cycle - a staged concept album, if you will - about love, death, and whiskey. It’s a series of songs that take you through the interwoven previous lives of four characters collective histories.
Carly Bawden, Niccolò Curradi, Maimuna Memon and Zubin Varla will star in what is a heavy hitting West End cast.
I sat down with Malloy last week to chat to him about the concept of Ghost Quartet, its London premiere and working with the creative team that drove the success of the pie shop Sweeney Todd, which ran for ages in Tooting, the West End and in New York.
Earlier in the week, we brought you Samantha Pauly, Trent Saunders and Ektor Rivera as they got ready to go on stage. But I thought that just wasn’t going to be enough to really show you backstage before a show.
Hopefully you’ll get a feel of what it’s like to be part of a company as I go from room to room and chat with some of the fantastic theatre professionals working on Jamie Lloyd’s production of “Evita” at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
We were back at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this week - one of our favourite places to do our Curtain Call visits. It was a welcome return for us to see not only a Jamie Lloyd production, but following the sell-out success of Jesus Christ Superstar two years ago, another Andrew Lloyd Webber hit show.
We sit down with the company members who play the three main antagonists in the show, Samantha Pauley as Evita Peron, Trent Saunders as Che and Ektor Rivera as Juan Peron to discuss their journey from across the Atlantic to Regent's Park here in London to perform one of musical theatre's classic rock scores.
This week, we talk to The Inbetweeners Joe Thomas, Olivier Award nominees Summer Strallen and Alex Gaumond, as well as Bo Poraj and Laura Patch about their new dark comedy "What's in a Name?", in which a dinner party gets wildly out of hand when a father-to-be suggests his son just might given the name of one of history's most vile human beings.
In a slight variation to a normal press junket, they actually performed the play in a rehearsed reading before we got to speak with them. And it was fantastic. We laughed. A lot. Which bodes well before they head off on a UK tour.
Shure have come up with a microphone that is hitting the theatre world by storm. Smaller, lighter, better response and performance along with a body back that is far less conspicuous than those they have released before. Sitting alongside their big initiative called “This is the Moment”, highlighting the critical moment where every single piece of the production puzzle comes together at the moment a performer takes a breath to speak, sing or even play a note.
I had the pleasure of talking to the Senior Product Manager, Microphones at Shure about the years of development and incredible invention and iteration that has seen their new Axient digital wireless system and the Twinplex system used on shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, War Horse and the new musical Jagged Little Pill.
As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank, Dominic Dromgoole oversaw 10 successive and extremely successful seasons at the Bard’s theatre. His tenure started with his directing Corialanus with Alastiar Macaulay for The Financial Times saying, "If Dromgoole can build from this promising start, the best years at Shakespeare’s Globe lie ahead.". And the final production he directed, The Tempest, was similarly well received with The Stage saying “Few directors can take a space and make Shakespeare feel as alive in it as Dromgoole.” But he oversaw many productions from a multitude of talented directors including Jeremy Herrin’s 2016’s production of Macbeth was similarly revered with David Lister of the Independent stating “This is the Globe at its best.”
In his last season, two of the Globe’s productions would hit the West End with Nell Gwynn and Farinelli and the King… the later even ended up on Broadway picking up 5 Tony Award nominations.
And now, Dominic Dromgoole is turning his hand to film directing, with his feature film debut “Making Noise Quietly” which hit the screens on the 19th of July and is written by Robert Holman - the script having been adapted from the acclaimed stage play of the same name and written by Holman, Nick Drake and Mark Rosenblatt.
I sat down to talk to Dominic about the transition from theatre to film, working with some of his favourite actors and what he sees himself doing next.
The Actor's Nightmare, a collection of Christopher Durang's short plays, is having it's World Premiere this week at the Park Theatre here in London. I sat down in their rehearsal room at the Jerwood Space with director Lydia Parker, and pretty much all of the company including Meaghan Martin, Layo-Christina Akinlude, Stefan Menaul and Kate Sumpter to talk about getting their heads around playing many characters in numerous plays in the same production, the language of Durang, working in the round and their own actors nightmares.
When we were covering People, Places & Things in New York for Curtain Call, and Matt was busy taking some beautiful photographs, I was backstage chatting to the company. That is where I met Himesh Patel. Now, you may not have heard of his name yet, but you most certainly will have seen him on your screens recently. He’s the star of the film “Yesterday”, written by Richard Curtis and directed by Danny Boyle. Before we started recording, and I am annoyed I didn’t get this on tape… Himesh hinted to the fact that he hopefully going to work on this little Richard Curtis film, but didn’t say much more than that. And that “little” film looks like it is going to be the next big hit, at least here in the UK.
In 2008, actor Darren Raymond became Artistic Director of Intermission Youth Theatre. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Darren who had recently finished a run of Othello.
He took charge with just four young people in that first season. Since that day, more than 100 16-25 year olds have past through St Savior’s and been introduced to the genius of Shakespeare, discovering that he is just as accessible today as he was 400 years ago.
I sat down to talk with Darren about Intermission’s latest production - Othello: Remixed, as well as their mission, vision and plans for the future.
Screenwriter and Playwright Janet Jones has had an astonishing career. She’s worked for just about every studio out there and not just as a writer, but that’s just the beginning.
She’s written lyrics, poetry, worked as a tour guide for a major Hollywood Studio, writer’s assistant, script editor, and she’s even making her own podcast. She always has a ton of projects on the go.
She’s a working writer, and you don’t get to sit down and chat with many of those… At least, I don’t. So sit back and listen to an extraordinary story of how somebody goes from Motown to the Tower of London in one lifetime!
BalletBoyz was founded in 2000 - the same in the same year that Billy Elliot was released - by ex Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. They became associate artists at Sadler’s Wells in 2005. In 2013, they won the National Dance Award for Best Independent Company.
They are now in their 19th year and have gone from those two original dancers to nearly a dozen, and they have moved into a fantastic home in Kingston on the outskirts of London. In June, they are bringing their latest show "Them/Us" to the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, which will be the BalleyBoyz’s first foray into the heart of Theatreland.
Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” has been an extremely popular story in pretty much all forms of entertainment you can possibly imagine. A best-selling novel, a Billy Wilder film, American and British television adaptations, radio adaptations... If you can think of it, it’s probably been done. And, of course, that includes theatre.
Today, we come from a south London rehearsal room where we are talking to two members of the new company who are about to join the cast of the London production of the Agatha Christie classic which opened on October 6 2017 at County Hall on London’s South Bank. Produced by Eleanor Lloyd Productions and Rebecca Stafford Productions and directed by Lucy Bailey, the show has been extremely well received and has already seen its run extended multiple times.
Lewis Cope and Carolin Stoltz play the lovers at the centre of this thriller and are extremely excited to be joining such a revered production in such an iconic location.
This week, I catch up with another friend i haven’t seen for quite some time, because when I heard that Laurence Mark Wythe had a new musical being performed with the National Youth Musical Theatre, I just had to get the inside scoop. Along with his writing partner Timothy Knapman, they take the story of The Big Bad Wolf and turn it on its head.
Laurence is an extremely prolific music writer and always seems to have something on the go, so I really appreciated him sitting down with me, talking about his early career, how and why he got into the composer game and just what it’s like writing and recording music in a new digital age.
On this episode, we bring you Siubhan Harrison. After graduating from Guildford School of Acting, she hasn’t really stopped, ticking off some big bucket list musical jobs along the way including Les Mis, Grease and Guys and Dolls - all in London’s West End.
Siubhan is the real deal. And she’s showing off her comedy chops as well as her dramatic acting prowess in the winner of Best New Comedy at this year’s Olivier Awards, Home, I’m Darling.
We sat down in Siubhan’s dressing room for a quick pre-show chat to talk about her journey in getting to work with Tamara Harvey again, her director on “From Here to Eternity”, as well as discussing how theatre is changing for parents, what we love about theatre and the proper pronunciation of Theatre Clwyd.
Ben Hewis is the guy that goes behind the scenes to bring you behind the scenes of some of the biggest shows hitting london. If you have seen any promotional footage for shows such as Come From Away, Night of the Living Dead Live, Gloria Estefan's On Your Feet (which you will be seeing soon) as well as covering untold numbers of opening nights and awards ceremonies for WhatsOnStage, including working the red carpet and press room from this year’s Olivier Awards.
But more than that Ben has been up to something good. After seeing a production of Emilia (currently running at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End) he’s been using the Twittersphere to raise awareness about the production and to encourage and take as many disadvantaged young women to see the show as possible.
We recently got to sit down with the company of "All About Eve", currently playing at the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End, to talk about bringing this classic Hollywood film to the London Stage, and then back to the screen on an NT Live broadcast.
The company, led by Gillian Anderson and Lily James as Margo Channing and Eve Harrington respectively, were totally aware that this production of the beloved film, arguably the film that launched Marilyn Monroe’s career, and where Bette Davis utters the immortal words “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”, was going to be highly scrutinised. But they didn’t have to worry at all. Ivo van Hove’s interpretation has seen a sold out run at the Noël Coward and the company revelled in this stage adaptation.
Say the name Strallen and you can take your pick of a first name and you are pretty much guaranteed a quality turn. Scarlett, Zizi, Saskia and this week’s guest, the wonderful Summer Strallen have all graced stages across London, the UK and indeed the globe - all the while picking up nominations and awards all over the place. These are some seriously talented sisters.
And I had the absolute pleasure to meet, sit down and have a good old chin wag with Summer last week to chat about all kinds of things, because, let’s face it, she’s got a CV that most actors would die for, working for some of the greatest directors of our time.
Summer is currently playing in Intra Muros at Park Theatre until the 4th of May.
This week, it’s a little mini podcast. One that shows just how manic it can be backstage before a show during one of our visits and one that you can listen to in between stations on the London Underground. Just about as long as an Oscar® speech.
So why not let us celebrate the genius that is Olivia Colman. Not only is she a delight to watch on stage and screen. But as we found out this award season, she’s exceptionally good at an acceptance speech. Raspberries and all.
We had the absolute pleasure in meeting and chatting to Olivia while she was on stage at the National Theatre performing in Mosquitoes. So you will hear us referencing another Olivia, and that would be friend of the show Olivia Williams. She talks about their on stage sisterly bitterness as well as her fondness for the National Theatre. Hopefully we see her back there soon.
A couple of weeks ago, we brought you right into the heart of the launch party for “Come From Away” held at Canada House. The Broadway transfer was just about to start rehearsing before heading off to Dublin for an “Off Off Off West End” run.
And this week, we return to Canada House to the official press event before tonight’s official opening.
And just one of the many, many reasons you should go watch this show is to see the powerhouse performance of this week’s guest, Rachel Tucker. Rachel is a West End and Broadway star, appearing in “We Will Rock You” and others here in London as well as Sting’s “The Last Ship” on Broadway… and she played Elphaba in “Wicked” on both sides of the Atlantic. This girl can absolutely sing! And what’s more, she’s just lovely to meet in person.
We got the opportunity to talk to her about her role as “Beverley / Annette and others”. It’s a marvellous track, and we sat down to talk about just what it meant to be part of this amazing story that is SO much more than a 9/11 musical.