News of the Week

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child extends booking period

The musical opening the Palace Theatre in July 2016, due to outstanding demand, has extended its booking period to May 2017. The show sold over 175,000 tickets in eight hours making it an average of 6 tickets per second in the eight hours. Casting is yet to be announced.
Funny Girl transferring to West End

Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith and Darius Campbell, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 20th November, is set to transfer to the Savoy Theatre, currently home to Gypsy which closes on 28th November.

Funny Girl is sold out at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Tickets for the Savoy Theatre go on sale on 18th November. The show will open 9th April.
Hangmen cast for West End transfer announced

Hangmen, after a sold out run at Royal Court, will be opening at the Wyndham’s Theatre 1st December for a limited run. As previously announced Josef Davies, James Dryden, Johnny Flynn, John Hodgkinson, Bronwyn James, David Morrissey, Ryan Pope, Sally Rogers and Simon Rouse will star in the transfer. Andy Nyman, Craig Parkinson and Tony Hirst will complete the cast.
Patrice Tipoki to make her West End debut

Patrice Tipoki will take over from Rachelle Ann Go as Fantine in Les Miserables, currently playing at the Queen’s Theatre, between February and May 2016.

Rachelle Ann Go is transferring to the Asian tour of the musical.

Winners of the West End Wilma awards announced

Best West End Show: Gypsy

Best Off-West End Show: Carrie

Best Touring Musical: Wicked

Most Underrated West End Show: Urinetown

Rising Star: Evelyn Hoskins

Most Welcoming Venue: Prince of Wales Theatre

Best Cabaret/Solo Performance: Rachel Tucker

Best Vocal Performance: Beverly Knight

Best Family Show: Bugsy Malone

Best Actor in a Play or Musical: Jon Jon Briones

Best Actress in a Play or Musical: Eva Noblezada

Close To You Bacharach Reimagined – Criterion Theatre

Close To You Bacharach ReImagined is simply a celebration of the music of Burt Bacharach. The ‘reimagined’ part comes in the form of quirky instruments, tweaking here and there with rhythmic back-beats and clever arrangements. It is beautifully done and manages to give a fresh, modern take on these classic songs whilst still maintaining the beauty of the original music. It is a work of art and I think everyone would smile at the new life which has been given to the fantastic music of Burt Bacharach.
The production started its life as a Broadway five week workshop at the New York Theatre and then came to London for a run from 3rd July to 5th September at the Menier Chocolate Factory, an off-West End theatre, and also did a set at West End Live on 21st June. It has now transferred to the West End’s Criterion Theatre where it is booking until early January 2016. The show was originally called What’s It All About? It has now been renamed Close To You.

The show was co-created by Kyle Riabko (Spring Awakening, Hair (Broadway)) and David Lane Seltzer. The production is directed by Steven Hoggett. Riabko, as well as creating and arranging, leads the cast and is the centre of the production tying the whole piece together. His guitar playing is absolutely amazing and there is a wide collection used throughout the show.

Stephanie McKeon (The Commitments, The Wizard of Oz, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) demonstrates outstanding vocal ability during ‘Walk on By’ and harmonises so well with Anastasia McCleskey (The Book of Mormon, Hairspray, Hair) with ‘I Say a Little Prayer’. McCleskey gives a powerful and emotional performance of ‘Don’t Make Me Over’.

Renato Paris (singer/songwriter) is on keyboard and piano for much of the show but also shows off a wonderful R&B voice, with his background in singing at church really showing. He harmonises nicely with Greg Coulson (Isle of Wight Festival, numerous tours in Europe, North America and Australia) with ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’. Coulson himself a soft, gentle voice with a lovely tone and plays guitar with amazing skill throughout the show. Daniel Bailen (numerous opera credits with Metropolitan Opera) is also on guitar and harmonises with the cast very well. James Williams is the only cast member who doesn’t have a singing role. He plays a beatbox, various jingles and drums with amazing rhythm and skill.

A highlight of the show is ‘Making Love’ where Riabko and McKeon sing and dance together with Kyle playing a guitar on Stephanie’s back. It is a lovely, tender moment which really stands out. ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose?’, ‘What’s it all about?” and ‘Message to Michael’ are other stand out songs. The encore of ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ is one of the crowd favourites and was a nice way to close the show. There is an added surprise when the cast are singing ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ outside the theatre as you leave, a really lovely send off.

It is a feel-good show, with great music, amazingly talented singers and musicians just having so much fun. The integrity and melody of the songs are preserved, but given a fresh, updated sound that people of all ages can enjoy. The modern take on it should attract the younger generations and help ensure this wonderful music lives on. It is a joy of a show and deserves a much longer run!

Close To You is playing at the Criterion Theatre and currently booking until January. The Criterion is a lovely theatre, smaller than most other West End theatres but a perfect venue for this show as it keeps it personal and the whole crowd is involved. To book tickets visit the Close To You website: http://closetoyoulondon.com

News of the Week

Rachel John takes the lead female in Memphis

Rachel John has taken the microphone after Beverly Knight left to start rehearsals for Cats, playing at the London Palladium from 23rd October – 2nd January. John will perform Felicia Farrell until Memphis closes on 31st of this month.

Wicked hits 7 million viewers

The hit West End musical, Wicked, currently showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, welcomed it’s seven millionth visitor through the doors on Monday.

Wicked also had its annual press night on Thursday.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child moves forward with more information being released

The musical will be staged in two parts both opening on 30th July 2016 at the Palace Theatre. It will be based on a new story developed by J K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. The tagline for the show is: “Eighth story. Nineteen Years Later.” Tickets go on general sale on 30th October.

Footloose tour announce tour dates

Bridlington Spa – 29th January – 6th February

Dartford Orchard Theatre – 8th-13th February

Edinburgh Festival Theatre – 16th-20th February

Lowestoft Marina Theatre – 2nd-27th February

Cardiff New Theatre – 29th February – 5th March

Manchester Palace Theatre – 14th-19th March

Carlisle Sands Theatre – 21st-26th March

Portsmouth King’s Theatre – 28thMarch – 2nd April

Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre – 12th-16th April

Oxford New Theatre – 19th-23rd April

Weston-Super-Mare Playhouse – 25th-30th April

Wimbledon New Theatre – 2nd-7th May

Liverpool Empire – 9th-14th May

Watford Colosseum – 17th-23rd May

Derry Millennium Forum – 31st May – 4th June

Torquay Princess Theatre – 6th-11th June

Glasgow King’s Theatre – 13th-18th June

Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre – 20thth-25th June

Birmingham Alexandra Theatre 0 4th-9th July

Newcastle Opera House – 12th-16th July

Woking New Victoria Theatre – 18th-23rd July

Brighton Theatre Royal – 25th-30th July

Bristol Hippodrome – 1st-6th August

Headlines

Elf the musical (showing at the Dominion Theatre over Christmas) has released a cast recording

Cats opens at the Palladium for a Christmas run

Les Miserables taking the Barricade to Singapore from May 2016

Mamma Mia extends its run at the Novello Theatre – now booking to October 2016

Rocky Horror announce tour cast including Liam Tamne (Frank-N-Furter), Kristian Lavercombe (Riff-Raff), Sophie Linder-Lee (Columbia), and Dominic Anderson (Rocky).

Show from 2015 that should transfer – I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – Over the Arts

  

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a show containing numerous sketches about love, relationships and marriage created by Joe DePietro (also wrote Memphis with David Bryan) and Jimmy Roberts. The idea is find someone you think is perfect and then spend the rest of your life trying to change them. It is different from other shows I’ve seen because there are no constant characters as it’s made up of individual sketches, which can make for a stop and start performance. 
The production was played at Over the Arts, a new theatre space above the Arts Theatre, holding only 80 people. It is a very small theatre and makes for a very personal and intimate performance. The actors are very on display as you see every detail. West End theatre tickets are expensive and unaffordable for a lot of people. For this venue, they’re £15 a ticket and, even if you’re in the back row, you get a perfect view (like row G of a West End theatre). If you paid £15 for a West End ticket you’d probably be back row, in ‘the Gods’, behind a pillar!

The show is very simple when referring to sets and lighting and only requires four actors. Because of its simplicity it has been a favourite for college performances. Director, Kirk Jameson, started this production with the idea of having experienced, comedy actors performing it.

This vision was realised. Julie Atherton (Avenue Q, Sister Act, Mamma Mia) was cast as Woman 1 who performs her solo number, ‘I Will Be Loved Tonight’, a subtle but beautiful song which is very moving and something all women can relate to. Gina Beck (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked) played Woman 2 who performs a solo number, ‘Always a Bridesmaid’, is one of my favourite songs from the show, it’s just so funny and Beck’s vocals were perfect.

Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, Avenue Q, I Can’t Sing) was cast as Man 1 who performs ‘Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love with You’ is one of tenderest moments of the show, so lovely and soft and subtle – beautiful. Samuel Holmes (White Christmas, Spamalot, Kiss me Kate) completes the cast as Man 2 who performs ‘Baby Song’ which is a nice little song sung by Holmes playing a new father who is caught the ‘baby talk’ bug. Man 1 explores the more masculine qualities of men when Man 2 explores the softer, possibly gay qualities and the pair make for a nice contrast. 

The first sketch is ‘Cantana For A First Date’ which was superbly done with the four cast member dressing for their first dates and going through the usual gitters associated with it. The number ends with them ringing the doorbell and saying ‘hi’. It sets the tone perfectly and, in this production, the cast connect immediately.

‘Stud and a Babe’ is one of my favourite moments in the show which is between Man 2 and Woman 1. It is the first date of an awkward couple. After discussing getting his phone fixed, she tells him a ‘cute’ story about her brother having eleven toes. They break into song and decide to try to seduce each other by being a stud and a babe but fail miserably. 

‘Single Man Drought’ involves all four cast member with the two ladies being on dates with boring men who talk a lot. A truly hilarious number which relies on timing and tone of voice and was achieved stunningly well by Atherton and Beck. It morphs into ‘Why? Cos I’m a Guy’ joins onto this sketch after the women decide to go to the ladies room and the men are paying the bill.

‘He Called Me’ is another personal favourite of mine. It’s sung primarily by Woman 2 who is waiting for a guy to call and believes he won’t call on the day he said he would. To her surprise, he does and there is a song and dance which is interrupted when he calls again – he’s needy!

The ‘Marriage Tango’, performed by Man 1 and Woman 2, is a hilarious moment in the show where a married couple with two kids see the opportunity to have sex. The whole scene is about them trying to get it on but constantly getting interrupted.

‘On the Highway of Love’ is where a married couple with two kids (Man 1 and Woman 2) in the back are fighting and hanging out of the car windows. The husband, Man 2, believes driving is a right of manhood, the wife, Woman 1, shares her “never ending opinions” with him and driving as a simple means of getting from a to b. 

The show finishes on ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ which says find somebody to love that you think is perfect and then spend the rest of your life trying to change them. It sums up the whole show so well bringing it to a good end.

This production was an outstanding piece of theatre – we love it, it’s perfect, don’t want it to change. The actors were all outstanding and maintained an easy flow to the show with no low points. We’re hoping for a transfer because it ended up sold out and we found it funnier than a lot of ‘funny’ shows on West End at the moment. It’s unique, quirky, comical,and relatable.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Julie Atherton have been nominated for BroadwayWorldWestEndAwards.  Vote here: http://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/vote2015region.cfm

Return to Beale Street – Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre

  

Memphis is a wonderful show which closes on 31st of this month. It touches the important, historic issue of discrimination and segregation between white people and black people. The story begins when Huey, played by Matt Cardle, walks into a black club on Beale Street where he is the only white person there, attracting strange looks. The club is owned by Delray, played by Rolan Bell, Felicia’s protective brother. The tale of forbidden love begins between Huey and Felicia who risk their own safety to be together believing that ‘love will stand when all else falls’. Huey rises from poverty to Memphis radio number one playing the music of his soul. He gets his own TV show but loses everything when he kisses Felicia on live TV and she leaves to pursue her singing career in New York. He decides he couldn’t leave Memphis singing ‘Memphis Lives In Me’ which links nicely to when Huey’s mother talked about his late father who never left Memphis. The show finishes with Felicia returning to Memphis on her first national tour and stopped by Huey’s office where he is a radio DJ with one listener, she asks him to join her on stage at her concert. He agrees and they close the show on (you’ll never let anyone) ‘Steal your Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Beverley Knight had her final performance as Felicia Farell on Saturday 17th. For the remainder of the run, Rachel John will be stepping into Knight’s shoes and taking the microphone. Having seen her impressive and emotional performance of ‘Coloured Woman’ at West End Live where she demonstrated outstanding vocal ability, she’ll be able to fill the place.

Memphis will embark in a UK tour from autumn 2016. Dates, venues and casting haven’t been announced. Beale Street is coming to a theatre near you. Head along, you’ll have a ball with amazing music, energetic dance numbers, and humour. You might just find the music of your soul too.

The Ushers – Arts Theatre


The Ushers came to the Arts Theatre after being very popular on Edinburgh Fringe and made its London debut at the Hope Theatre and then the Charing Cross Theatre in 2013/14. It is the front of house musical and follows the story of theatre ushers and their trials and tests with customers, careers and love.
This production is directed by Max Reynolds and written by Yiannis Koutsakes and James Oben. The musical features a lot of dance sequences which were brilliantly choreographed by Russell Smith.

It is a simple show with five ushers and a sleazy manager who work at a theatre playing ‘Oops I Did It Again’. Simple and brilliant in this case. The story begins when a new usher, Lucy, played by Corrine Priest (Girlfriends, Les Miserables (while training)), joins the front of house team. Priest has a wonderful voice, performing ‘Dreams and Ice Creams’ with a lovely tone.

Gary and Ben, played by Ben Fenner (The Confession Room, Sleeping Beauty) and Rory Maguire (Kiss of Spiderwoman, Betty Blue Eyes), are a gay couple with their relationship on the rocks because Ben has taken an acting job in Austria. Ben feels that Gary is not serious about their relationship and leaves the team without a word, singing ‘It’s Time to Let Go’. Gary is unsure he has made the right choice singing ‘Half Finished Story’ he is torn.

Stephen, played by Cameron Sharp (Rock of Ages, Rent), is an actor who is an on and off usher. He sings ‘The Parts I Could Play’ which is performed wonderfully by Sharp who demonstrates incredible vocal talent in this number.

Rosie, played by Alexandra Parkes (Grease, Ruthless), is perhaps the outsider of the group as she’s not an actress but rather a stagey ninja who stalks various ‘leading men’ of the West End. She performs ‘Leading Men’ a very comic scene, wonderfully performed by Parkes.

Harry Stone (A Midsummer Nights Dream, Fame, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) plays Robin the rather sleazy, slimy manager and failed opera singer. He cares about nothing other than ‘spend per head’ and harasses and blackmails his employees.

It is a very funny show with a satisfying ending where the ushers win over their manager who is forced to resign and the relationships and potential relationship come together. It is the height of all stagey-ness – what’s not to love? A fabulous show performed by a very talented cast.

The Ushers runs at the Arts Theatre until Sunday 18th October.

News of the Week

In The Heights has press night at the Kings Cross Theatre
In The Heights officially arrived in London on Tuesday after having its press night and receiving rave reviews. The show had transferred to the West End for a limited (although recently extended) run until June next year after a sold out and highly acclaimed run at the Southwark Playhouse. 
Beverly Knight’s final week in Memphis

This was Beverly Knight’s final week as Felecia Farrell in Memphis. Knight is leaving Memphis, which itself is closing on the 31st of this month, to join the Cats cast at the London Palladium as Grizabella.

Rachel John is set to replace Knight for the rest of the show’s run in the West End prior to its UK tour.
Emma Hatton marks 350 shows at Wicked

Emma Hatton, London’s current Elphaba, celebrated 350 shows in Wicked on Tuesday. Wicked is currently playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and booking until November next year. 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reaches the 1000 milestone and extends its run in the West End

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory celebrated 1000 performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Monday and also extended its booking period to 3rd Decemeber 2016.
Close to You opens officially

Close to You had its press night yesterday at the Criterion Theatre. Close to You transferred to the West End after a run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, called What’s it all about? at the time, and is a celebration of the music of Burt Bacharach.
American Idiot announces a UK Tour 2016

American Idiot currently playing at the Arts Theatre has announced a UK tour in 2016. Amelia Lily will be reprising her role as Whatshername. Further casting to be announced and some dates have been set. The tour starts 19th March.
Aladdin confirmed and first casting announced

Aladdin had been confirmed for June 2016 at the Prince Edward Theatre (currently home to Miss Saigon). Trevor Dion Nicholas will play the Genie. 
Full casting for Funny Girl announced 

Funny Girl, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 2nd December, has announced full casting: Valda Aviks, Natasha Barnes, Emma Caffrey, Danis Campbell, Matthew Croke, Marilyn Cutts, Joelle Dyson, Rebecca Fennelly, Luke Fetherston, Leah Harris, Kelly Homewood, Sammy Kelly, Maurice Lane, Bruce Montague, Joel Montague, Stuart Ramsay, Sheridan Smith and Gay Soper.
Kinky Boots extends its run

Kinky Boots, currently showing at the Adelphi Theatre, has extended its booking period to May next year.

Dinner with Saddam – Menier Chocolate Factory

Dinner with Saddam is a political comedy play written by Anthony Horowitz. Horowitz based the play on a newspaper article he read a decade ago. The article was about Saddam Hussain, more specifically, his habit of visiting ordinary peoples’s homes for dinner without warning around the time that his regime was under threat from Western forces.
It seems, on the surface, a strange event to base a comedy play on – possibly the biggest unresolved scandal of recent times. An invasion which involved missiles falling down on a city full of citizens, weapons of mass destruction never found, protests ignored… Doesn’t sound funny – does it?

The play is a masterpiece. It manages to be comical but also make a statement taking shots at Western leaders of the time. It makes no attempt to excuse Hussain’s actions which were, at times, brutal, but makes a point of saying Iraq was stable under his regime and his removal has left a vacuum. It is a very thought-provoking piece – I am in awe.

The play begins with a normal family scene with Sanjeev Bhaskar (Spamalot, Unforgotten (TV), Doctor Who (TV)) and Shobu Kapoor (A Night in Tunisia, House of the Sun, Eastenders (TV)) playing Ahmed and Samira Alawai. Their daughter, Rana, played by Rebecca Grant (Bombay Dreams, Around the World in 80 Days, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), has an arranged marriage to Jammal, portrayed by Nathan Amzi (Rock of Ages, In The Heights, Urinetown), but she is reluctant to go through with it despite her father’s insistence. Their world is turned upside down when Colonel Farouk, played by Ilan Goodman (Bad Jews, Dorian Grey, Austentatious), arrives on their doorstep and announces President Hussain, played by Steven Berkoff (Salomé (stage), A Clockwork Orange (film), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (film)), is coming for dinner and possibly staying the night!

The cast are all outstanding, perfectly executed performances and amazing to watch. The actions of a ruthless dictator, anti-President groups, rat poison, suits and farts – what a show! I know that sounds like a very bizarre description but it works on so many levels.

This production is directed by Lindsay Posner and is playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory until November 14th. – a wonderful venue for a wonderful play. The Menier Chocolate Factory is one of my personal favourite theatres as it is small like other off-West End theatres but classy like West End theatres. I must, again, praise the merchandising – a crisp, clean programme with absolutely no advertising, and a poster.

An outstanding production with every aspect on point. To book tickets click the link below, but hurry tickets are selling fast and you definitely don’t want to miss this one. https://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/Online/default.asp?sToken=1%2C4b958ea6%2C5616dc90%2C8482FB85-C6E0-45CF-95EE-4C2035534CD9%2Ch72CbHqZIDWyd9UKjQESyQk9ssU%3D&BOset::WScontent::SearchResultsInfo::current_page=1&doWork::WScontent::getPage=&BOparam::WScontent::getPage::article_id=2AE8014F-542E-465E-A0CA-94D6C7871CB5

News of the Week

Motown cast announcement

Motown is opening in the Shaftesbury Theatre in February 2016 featuring 50 classic songs from the Motown era. This production is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.

The following actors will be starring in the production with final casting to be announced soon. Keisha Amponsa Banson as Mary Wells, Cindy Belliot as Anna Gordy, Samuel Edwards as Jackie Wilson, Aisha Jawondo as Martha Reeves, Joshua Liburd as Eddie Kendricks, Lucy St. Louis as Diana Ross, Simeon Montague as Jermaine Jackson, Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy, Cleopatra Rey as Gladys Knight, Brandon Lee Sears as Tito Jackson, and Cherelle Williams as Mary Williams.
Dirty Dancing UK tour 2016 announcement

Producers of the musical, Karl Sydow and Paul Elliot, announced earlier this week the Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will tour the UK from August 2016. The tour opens in Blackpool on 11th August and then going around the country.

Further dates, casting and creative teams are to announced.
Les Miserables 30 years in the West End

Les Miserables had an anniversary concert on 8th October marking its 30th year running in the West End. It welcomed back from past stars from their cast including Alfie Bowe, John Owen-Jones, Geronimo Rauch and members of the original cast to perform along side the current cast.

Having been performed in 22 languages, 44 countries and for nearly 70 million people, this show continues to make history.

For pictures visit:

https://www.londontheatre1.com/news/118263/les-miserables-30th-anniversary-gala-images/
Sondheim 85th Birthday concert

A concert has been announced for Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday. A one-night special at the Theatre Royal with 30 West End stars and a 40 piece orchestra led by Gareth Valentine celebrating the music of Sondheim.

The cast includes: Bonnie Langford, Alistair McGowan, Michael Xavier, Anton du Beke, Anna Francolini and Laura Pitt-Pulford.

For more information and for ticket booking visit: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/events/event/hey-old-friends-an-85th-birthday-tribute-to-stephen-sondheim
The Phantom of the Opera celebrates 29 years 

The Phantom of the Opera opened on 9th October 1986, making this its 29th birthday. An enchanting, ensnaring, mystical and wonderful show.
Mrs Henderson Presents transferring to the West End

Mrs Henderson Presents has confirmed it is transferring to the West End. The production will open in February 2016 until June at the Noel Coward Theatre. Casting is yet to be confirmed. Tickets go on sale midnight tonight.

Show from 2015 that should transfer – The Assassins

The second show that should without a doubt transfer to the West End is The Assassins.


The Assassins was a very high profile production in London. The show ran from 21st November 2014 to 7th March 2015. It is the work of Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and John Weidman (dialogue), portraying all the successful and attempted assassinations of American presidents, linking their stories in a rampage of desire for attention, fame and glory. The historic storyline intrigued me.

The production was directed by Jamie Lloyd. The set was inspired: an abandoned fairground kind of look, eerie lighting, and the carousel playing Hail to the Chief at the beginning and end to bring the show in a loop was inspired.

The Menier Chocolate Factory is an excellent theatre. The restaurant at the front is very nice for a pre-theatre meal. The bar area is a little small for the number of the people and would be better with a bit more seating, but drinks are reasonably priced so can’t complain. The merchandise includes reasonably priced programmes and posters, and I really do commend the beautifully designed programmes from this theatre – no advertising, just information which gives a clean, crisp programme that makes a great memento. The theatre itself was very small and intimate with an electric atmosphere.

This was not only a star-studded cast but a very experienced one – very exciting.

Aaron Tveit (Les Miserables (film), Graceland (TV), Rent (Broadway)) as John Wilkes Booth was outstanding. He left a month before the end as a result of a change in schedule for his next commitment – Graceland, the TV series. I was lucky enough to see Michael Xavier (Love Story, Into The Woods) in the role, who took over from Tveit, and both of them were excellent. I preferred Xavier and his rendition of ‘Ballad of Booth’ had me in tears.

Catherine Tate (Doctor Who, Nativity 3) as Sarah Jane Moore plays a very convincing dizzy, Southern attempted assassin and teams up with Carly Bawden as Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme (My Fair Lady, Pippin, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) to assassinate Gerald Ford. Their plan failed and they ended up comically throwing bullets at the President. Carly plays an excellent Squeaky with an incredible performance of ‘Unworthy of your Love’ with Harry Morrison (Kiss me Kate, Oliver!, The Wizard of Oz) as John Hinckley Jr (attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan). The song uses light and shade to incredible effect.

Stewart Clarke (Ghost, Loserville) as Giuseppe Zangara, plays an Italian immigrant who attempted to assassinate Franklin D Roosevelt. Clarke gave a wonderfully demented performance of the assassin in the musical number ‘How I Saved Roosevelt’.

Andy Nyman (Abigail’s Party, Ghost Stories) was cast as Charles Guiteau who assassinated James Garfield to promote the sale of his book and wanted to be ambassador to France. I also saw Adam Bayjou, the understudy, (The Full Monty, Love Story) in the role who was also excellent and both gave a moving performance of ‘Ballad of Guiteau’.
David Roberts (Ghost, Mamma Mia, Aspects of Love) plays Leon Czolgosz who assassinates William McKinley. The ‘Gun Song’ is one of my favourite songs from the show. Roberts plays the role well, conveying love of Emma Goldman (a political activist), played by Melle Stewart (Kiss Me Kate, Jekyll and Hyde, Mamma Mia), and a last resort ‘I have no other opportunities, I’ll kill a President’ motive.

Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, I Can’t Sing, As You Like It) as The Proprietor and Jamie Parker (Guys and Dolls, Proof) as The Balladeer were the key parts of the whole production, the puppet-masters by engineering and pulling the strings. In the opening scene, The Proprietor goads and entices the assassins, singing ‘Everybody’s got the Right to be Happy’, as he sells them guns. The Balladeer represents Americana and says that it’s not the answer, but is ultimately corrupted as Parker transforms from Balladeer to that most famous of all assassins, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Dropping a shower of red confetti on the stage to close the show gave an outstanding, very dramatic effect, signifying blood of the Presidents and eternal glory for the assassins. The lights faded, an eerie silence prevailed, before the lights then revealed the cast pointing guns into the audience – what a tense finale to a spectacular piece of theatre!

All in all, it was a stellar production with a truly outstanding cast. It is one the most intense pieces of theatre I have ever seen and the storyline is interesting and clever. The whole thing ran like clockwork. It is a very serious show but there are little pieces of humour here and there (albeit dark humour) and it uses light and shade to extraordinary effect. It all has a very powerful message behind it and I don’t think there’s any other show quite like it, nor will there ever will be. Sondheim, Weidham, I salute you.

I’m so hoping for a transfer. After press night, the production was completely sold out for the entire run and I know so many people didn’t get tickets (couldn’t) and were watching the website for cancelations. A transfer would allow the people who missed out to see it and others to witness the dark, enticing magic once again. I want to hear the other national anthem playing again…

The Assassins is one of five nominees for the Radio 2 Audience Award for the Best Musical. Vote at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/210GVVk18KTFtxXWH5XghKR/vote-for-the-radio-2-audience-award-for-best-musical