I sat down with one of the founders of The Stable Musicals, Neil Marcus, a theatre producer with a distinguished history of developing new musicals and a massive supporter of emerging British musical theatre talent to discuss the growth of The Stable Musicals, their slate of new musicals and just how far they have come in the last four years.
Alex Hassell is a veteran of the London stage. Curtain Call have covered two shows with him in the shape of Henry V at The Barbican and Death of a Salesman at the Noel Coward Theatre. But before that, Alex’s career and the people he has worked with is like a “who’s who” of the industry including directors John Dove, Tim Caroll and Gregory Doran and on stage talent such as Dame Harriet Walter, Antony Sher and Mark Rylance.
But there’s a project that Alex has been involved with for the last 10 years, and one that he is intensely proud of (as you can tell when you’re listening to him). The Factory is a theatre company like no other. No sets, no props, no blocking, no set cast, no auditions, open rehearsals...you name the theatrical convention and they are tearing it down.
I went to go see a show, as they say in the business. And that show was “Building The Wall” at The Park Theatre. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s hard-hitting piece, imagining a world where, after a terrorist attack set in the very near future, President Trump imposes martial law with all immigrants “legal or otherwise” rounded up and put into internment camps.
This play is exactly the kind of play that I love to watch. Vital and current and one that needed to be written. I got to speak to Angela and Trevor about their thoughts on the play at the Park Theatre, performing in front of major theatre stars, the immediacy of this new piece and what keeps bringing them back to the theatre.
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Earlier in the year, we had the pleasure to visit the incredible show An American in Paris. I don’t think we have covered a show that was so full of triple threats… and maybe even quadruple threats - singing, acting, dancing, and stage management / technicians. There was so little in the way of automation of set pieces coming on, it was dazzling to see so much movement from the company, pushing and pulling, in between incredibly complicated singing and even more complicated dance numbers….
The EU are bringing in regulations that will stop theatres from using bulbs and fixtures that don’t comply with new regulations that is being brought into law in September of this year. And I’m not just talking London and regional theatres, but sports halls, community theatres, lecture halls and more…
Curtain Call co-founder, Matt Humphrey, sat down with multiple award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable to talk about the proposed regulations and explain in simple terms what it means for the industry here in the UK and across Europe.
Read more about the proposals here.
We had the pleasure of making a show visit to The Grinning Man, currently playing at The Trafalgar Studios. Based on the novel ‘The Man Who Laughs” by Victor Hugo, the musical was created by War Horse director Tom Morris at the Bristol Old Vic. He brought together Tim Philips and Mark Teitler, a book by Carl Grose and all four of them collaborated on the lyrics.
We sat down with Sean Kingsley, Sanne Den Besten and Louis Maskell about how hard it is to place and describe The Grinning Man, the transfer from The Bristol Old Vic, working with puppets and keeping the voice in fine working order in one of toughest sings on stage at the moment.
In this episode Lesley Manville, Jeremy Irons, Rory Keenan, Matthew Beard and Jessica Regan talk about their experience of bringing the classic Eugene O'Neill play Long Day's Journey Into Night from the Bristol Old Vic to the Wyndham's Theatre in the West End before their trip across the Atlantic to BAM in New York and the Wallis Centre in Los Angeles.
This week, we celebrate World Theatre Day by bringing you some of our favourite chats starting way back in 2015 when we visited the company of Three Days in the Country all the way up to last week when we spent the evening with the company of A Long Day's Journey into Night.
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Meatloaf is coming back. Bat Out of Hell The Musical returns to the London stage after a brief hiatus across the pond in Toronto over the winter, where it went down like the proverbial “Beast From the East.”
When we saw this show last year, I was simply blown away by the music, performed by an exuberantly energetic company on a completely wild set designed by John Bausor.
This week, I wanted to give you guys the experience that we at Curtain Call had backstage during our visit. And no better an example to be in one of the boys’ dressing rooms of Giovanni Spano, Patrick Sullivan and Dom Hartley-Harris during a quick break while “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is blaring out of the tannoy. And although they are “taking a break” in air quotes, they are busy keeping themselves warm. You can hear mid-show vocal chord steaming, working out and having a light snack…this is what it takes them to get through this huge sing of a show.
Tyrone Huntley and Georgie Henley are currently on stage at the Southwark Playhouse in Phil Ridley’s “Angry” – not so much a play as a theatre piece with Huntley and Henley performing what Ridley describes as “vespers” or stand-alone monologues.
This is a powerful piece with even more powerful performances. There were laughs, gasps, cheers and tears.
Director Max Lindsay deftly makes his London directing debut getting not only one performance out of his actors…but two. You see, Huntley and Henley swap these non-gender specific roles on alternate nights, making a return visit a must.
I sat down with Huntley, Henley and director Max Lindsay to talk all things “Angry”.
If you haven't heard of The HandleBards yet, you are in for a treat. As they describe on their website, they are "charmingly chaotic bicycle-powered Shakespeare". A roving company of bards who travel the country (and beyond), bringing a particular type of fun, fast and dare-I-say "furious" theatre that has seen them grow from a band of four "brothers" into a full-blown company with 15 members...and growing.
Listen to Tom Dixon, a founding HandleBard and one of their producers, as he discusses the company's history, vision, views on sustainable theatre, burst tyres and so much more...
Jonathan Ajayi, Sope Dirisu and Anthony Welsh make up the brilliant onstage company of The Brothers Size along with Manuel Pinheiro playing live music while the action takes place. This critically lauded play is on at The Young Vic and has been wowing audiences with it's electrifying performances and cracking script by Oscar-winning film "Moonlight" 's creator, Tarell Alvin McCraney.
This week, we speak to Anthony Welsh, who plays the non-brother in The Brothers Size Elegba, about his journey with this play. It was a play he was completely familiar with, having performed in it 10 years ago and it was interesting to see how he approached it with a decade’s worth of experience under his belt.
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Special Relationship are back at the Park Theatre with There or Here, Jennifer Maisel’s new play about connections, both real and virtual, when a couple outsource their surrogate pregnancy to an agency in India.
I saw the show on the first preview and it was in fantastic shape, getting a lot of laughs from the get go. And they’ve gone on to get some good notices, especially applauding the entirely female, BAME, and/or LGBTQ+ cast and crew – something you just don’t see enough of on stage.
I sat down and talked to the entire cast, the producers and the playwright backstage at The Park, pre-matinee. That’s a lot of us in a small dressing room, but it was perfectly cozy and a lot of fun.
It has been all change at the Donmar Warehouse over the last few days. To begin with Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (the artistic director and executive producer, respectively) stepped down. Josie and Kate were the first female partnership to run a London theatre. It will be over six years of a collaboration that saw great successes such as The Vote and the Shakespeare Trilogy starring Dame Harriet Walter.
And in the last 24 hours as this episode drops, Alastair Coomer, the Donmar Warehouse’s Casting Director is heading for pastures new across the river on the Southbank to become the new Head of Casting at the National Theatre. He will be replacing Wendy Spon, who has held the position for more than 11 years, recently casting Network and Follies, both huge hits.
We don’t’ really do this, but I thought I would take you back to a chat we posted in an earlier podcast where Alastair was joined by casting director Ginny Schiller as we talked about the Casting Directors' Guild.
It’s not often that shows that have played the National Theatre Olivier stage come back for another bite of the apple. Those occasions are few and far between. But that is exactly what is happening this Thursday, the 11th of January at the NT when the theatrical smash hit Amadeus returns for a four month run.
Peter Shaffer’s timeless tale set in Vienna, directed by Michael Longhurst, was such a quick sell out that the National did the sensible thing and brought it back this season with most of the cast reprising their roles - including this week’s guest Lucian Msamati as Salieri. Lucian was universally praised for his controlling, conniving portrayal of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s nemesis (with Adam Gillen playing Mozart again) with the Sunday Times calling it “an immersive performance” in their five-star review, which I don’t think anyone can argue with.
This week sees the closing of a show that was praised for its brilliant choreography and direction of Christopher Wheeldon - making his directorial debut if you can believe it! Critics called it “theatrical gold” and a “riot of colour and movement”, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. I was captivated by the company of “An American in Paris” as their skills as dancers, singers and actors were on full display. They also move every bit of scenery, ensuring that the flow of movement never stops. And to top it all off, there’s a 20-minute ballet to finish this Broadway Transfer.
When we went to visit the company earlier this week, I had a quick look at the cast list and saw how many swings were on "An American in Paris." 13! That is a lot for any show, and I knew that I just had to sit down with some of them and let them tell their story about how intense this show is, not only the main cast and ensemble, but for the small army of swings.
James Butcher, Rebecca Fennelly , Aaron Smyth and Amy Hollins and I had a little chat just as the show started.
Last year we covered Claire Van Kampen’s Farinelli and the King after it transferred from the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe to the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End.
This past Sunday, it opened on Broadway. The reviews have been raves pretty much across the board.
Getting just as many great notices as the play’s star are Sam Crane and Iestyn Davies who play Farinelli and Farinelli’s Voice respectively.
The convention that director John Dove employed here was to have renowned counter tenor Iestyn Davies play the castrato Farinelli, who sings the Arias literally standing next to Sam Crane. And it really works, as the boys explain in this week's episode.
Earlier this week, in Episode 70 of the Curtain Call Theatre Podcast, we brought you the company of People, Places & Things...well, not the entire company. There were three local actresses that joined the West End Transfer at the St. Anne's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York. I chatted to them about their previous experiences of the show, what it was like joining an already well-established company and just what is a "Super Emma".
Matt Humphrey and I had the opportunity to fly over to New York and catch People, Places & Things at the St Anne’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. With both of us having seen the show a couple times before, we got to watch it again before heading backstage last Friday night. And I cannot begin to tell you how phenomenal this production was. The company has grown in stature, taking Jeremy Herrin’s production of Duncan Macmillan’s play to new heights.
It has been an absolute pleasure getting to meet this company and get to know them over the last year, and Matt and I were overwhelmed by the welcome we received, both when we watched the show and also when we were backstage. We realise what a privileged position we are in, and it is something that we never forget. This visit, was truly unforgettable.
I sat down and talked to the company about taking the play from London (both at the National and the Wyndham’s Theatre) to New York, and how they themselves thought the audiences there received the play.
The Evening Standard Theatre Awards shortlist was revealed with two cast members from The Ferryman among those nominated.
Laura Donnelly has been nominated for Best Actress and Tom Glynn-Carney for the Emerging Talent Award.
Curtain Call paid a visit to The Ferryman when it was on at The Royal Court, just as they announced their transfer to The Gielgud in London's West End.
We have seen a recent spate of high profile actresses making acceptance speeches at awards nights - highlighting the unequal representation of actresses on stage and screen and the need to redress the balance. It kicked off in earnest with Denise Gough at the 2017 Olivier Awards, actor Jimmy Nesbit even chipped in at the BAFTA TV awards, and is continuing as witnessed by Deirdre Mullins’ speech after picking up a Best Actress in Film award at the Scottish BAFTA’s.
I had the opportunity to sit down at the National Theatre a couple weeks ago, who have just announced themselves that there will be equal representation gender balance on stage by 2021, with two Equal Representation for Actresses members, advocates and campaigners Polly Kemp and Jennie Matthews.
Polly Kemp: @pollykemp
Jennie Matthews: @89Matthews
A few months ago, we went over to the ENO London Coliseum to take in the theatre spectacle that is Bat Out of Hell: The Musical.
It started in Manchester before moving down to London, and last weekend the entire London company started their run in Toronto at the Mirvish Theatre.
Bat Out of Hell is like nothing I have ever seen...or heard. The sound system in that theatre was incredible.
And there were so many people in that production, that, for the first time, I had to have help to make sure that we talked to as many of the company as possible. Theo Bosanquet, who you have heard on this podcast before, and I spoke to scores of people that night, and we hope to have the majority of that content up on our site soon.
This week, I thought I would bring you the full chat I had with Sharon Sexton, who plays Sloane in the show. We talked about everything from being in such a physically demanding show, various states of dress and how a musical theatre actor can keep their voice in tact during a long run of a show that’s such a big sing.
We were fortunate enough to find time with multi award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable, an associate of the National Theatre where her many credits include Follies, Angels in America, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and War Horse.
She talked to Theo Bosanquet and Matt Humphrey about her serendipitous entry into the profession, her design process and collaborations with directors including Marianne Elliott, and how she feels the industry can improve in regards to gender and diversity.
Curtain Call recently partnered with The Mono Box, a fantastic organization founded by Joan Iyiola, actress most recently seen on Stage at Shakespeare’s Globe in Eleanor Rhode’s production of Boudica, and Polly Bennett, a movement director and choreographer who has worked at theatres including the Royal Court, Birmingham Rep, Chichester Festival Theatre and more – currently preparing the cast of the NT’s production of People Places and Things before they head off to New York later this month.
Over they past three years, they have become a resource for theatre professionals – affording them networking opportunities, further skills attainment and practical tools for the industry.
Everyone we talked to was so enthusiastic about The Mono Box and their ability to give advice, allow networking opportunities and support professionals no matter where they are in their career.
I spoke to Niall Bishop, a volunteer and an Ambassador for The Mono Box, about his experience of his time working for the amazing group of people.
I have been waiting to chat to my next guest for ages! I first met Olivia Williams when I was understudying Matthew Fox in Neil Labute’s two-hander “In a Forest Dark and Deep” back in 2011, and have had the privilege to share the stage with her on numerous Word Theatre stages around London. I am in AWE of her talent. Olivia doesn’t just play characters, she inhabits them. Rosemary Cross in Rushmore or Anna Crowe in The Sixth Sense to Miss Stubbs in An Education. On screen, you just believe her. And that’s brilliant acting. As for her on stage exploits...she’s such a powerhouse. And she's going from strength to strength in her latest production "Mosquitoes" at the National Theatre in London.