Sunny Afternoon – Harold Pinter Theatre

Harold Pinter Theatre

Sunny Afternoon is a musical by Joe Penhall, telling the story of the British rock ‘n’ roll band, The Kinks. The show began its life at the Hampstead Theatre in 2014 before transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre.  It follows the London band’s journey, which was troubled by management difficulties, opposition due to their on-stage behaviour, internal rivalries within the band, personal struggles, as well as being the only band at the time to be banned from the USA. The story begins in 1963 with the formation of the band, was made up of Ray Davies, the lead singer and songwriter, Dave Davies, the lead guitarist, Pete Qualife, the bass guitarist and Mick Avory, the drummer. The Kinks quickly found success and took the world by storm, selling millions of records and with Ray Davies’ songwriting ability being regarded as genius.

Ray Davies was played by Danny Horn (The Dead Dogs, The Revenger’s Tragedy).  Horn is magnificent in the role giving a first class performance.  He conveys Ray’s internal struggles at the same time as giving amazing performances of the Kinks’ best-loved music.  Ray Davies thought in song and so the music of The Kinks often reflected his emotions and thoughts at the time.  Rasa, Davies’ wife, played by Megan Leigh Mason (The Elephant Man, Boeing Boeing, Godspell), sang backing vocals on numerous Kinks’ records.  Mason has a beautiful voice and gives a tender performance of ‘I Go To Sleep’.

Dave Davies, Ray’s younger brother and lead guitarist for the band, was played by Oliver Hoare (Romeo and Juliet, School for Scandal, The Jungle Book).  Hoare is magnetic and dangerous in the archetypical wild-child, rock-star role, with a penchant for women and alcohol and a disregard for authority, and he swaggers around the stage with confidence and style.

Mick Avory was played by Damien Walsh (Dreamcoats and Miniskirts, Dreamcoats and Petticoats, Rock and Roll Cinderella), who is a fantastic drummer. Mick and Dave have a fierce dislike of each other, which comes to a head with an on-stage fight at a performance in Cardiff in 1965 where Avory knocked Davies unconscious causing a wound needing several stitches.

Pete Quaife was played by superb guitarist, Tom Whitelock (Romeo and Juliet, A Clockwork Orange, Dracula).  Quaife considers himself the outsider of the band and almost leaves the group.

Sunny Afternoon is a wonderful celebration of the music of The Kinks.  There are many, many highlights in the show, including the first blasting of the iconic ‘You Really Got Me’ five-note riff which vibrates and rocks the entire auditorium and ‘Waterloo Sunset’ is also phenomenal.  Another standout number is ‘Sunny Afternoon’ set around England’s 1966 World Cup triumph.  The show comes to a sensational end with a wonderful mix of ‘Lola’ and ‘You Really Got Me’.

It is an outstanding show, with great music and a stunning cast, and is one of the most uplifting and fun musicals currently in the West End.  Sunny Afternoon is currently showing at the Harold Pinter Theatre and will be touring the UK from August 2016.

For more information on your visit to the Harold Pinter Theatre, visit our partner’s, West End Theatre Guide London, website – http://www.westendtheatreguide.london/west-end-theatres/harold-pinter-theatre/

The End of Longing – Playhouse Theatre


The End of Longing is a dark comedy written by and starring Matthew Perry. The play is set primarily in a funky bar in LA, where two female friends (Stephanie and Stevie) and two male friends (Jack and Joseph) meet to exchange thoughts on life, with often very humorous commentaries on the singles’ lifestyles.

Jack is a seemingly-shallow man, an alcoholic, although he prefers to call it “professional drinking”, who falls for Stephanie. Stephanie is a high-class call-girl/prostitute who is making a fortune plying her trade, but, against all odds, falls in love with Jack. The two share many characteristics, both of them having a self-destructive habit that they fool themselves into thinking makes them happy, but in the end, they realise their affection for one another and try to change their ways. There are many comic moments along the way, but the underlying story is one of two pretty desperate and damaged souls who’ve lost their way in life.

Stephanie’s friend, Stevie, is a neurotic pharmaceutical worker who is desperate to have a baby and, at 37, feels her chances are running out. Joseph is Jack’s best friend, a self-proclaimed unintelligent/stupid man, but he is perhaps the most “normal” and least damaged of the four characters. Stevie and Joseph are aware of their respective friend’s reckless behaviour, but they rarely challenge them on this and have often helped them out of potentially dangerous situations. This couple are very different from one another, but Joseph’s level-headedness is a great balance to Stevie’s over-analytical nature (she cannot understand how he can possibly not have a therapist), and they happily come together and welcome a baby girl, Keaton, into the world.

Matthew Perry (Friends, Mr Sunshine, The Odd Couple) stars in his own play as Jack. The part has small snippets of the much-loved character, Chandler Bing, from the TV sitcom Friends, which is hysterical, but this is a very different character, make no mistake, a much deeper one, a desperate man with a serious internal struggle to overcome his dependency on alcohol. Perry’s final monologue when he attends AA for the first time is a breath-taking plea for help, and alongside all the comedy of this play, this is perhaps the highlight of the show.

Jennifer Mudge (The Philanthropist, Rocky, Reckless) plays Stephanie and is just amazing in the role. She plays Stephanie with bravado and confidence, but she is also a frightened little girl who is afraid (and perhaps ashamed, although she doesn’t realise or admit this) to tell her parents what she really does for a living, and who is afraid to start a new career, having fooled herself into believing her life as an escort is what she wants because she is in charge and earning lots of money.

Stevie is played by Christina Cole (The Magistrate, Romeo and Juliet, Suits (TV)). She gives an outstanding performance, delivering the dialogue quickly and sharply, as suits the neurotic character, as she analyses herself and her lover and questions everything.

Lloyd Owen (The Bodyguard, Good People, Stuff Happens) plays Joseph. He gives an excellent performance as the loyal friend and companion to Jack and then the solid-rock support to Stevie. The character is relatively trouble-free and has a simple outlook on life, and he tries to help first Stevie, and then also Jack and Stephanie, making them all realise that life doesn’t need to always be as complicated and hard as they make it.

The End of Longing is an interesting mix of comedy and darkness, making the audience both laugh and cry. The first act is carefree with many comic one-liners and hilarious scenes, but Act 2 contrastingly turns serious and even sad in places and the whole tone of the show changes very quickly. The flow of the show is not as smooth as it might be – the frequent changes of set makes it feel almost like a TV sitcom, a collection of individual sketches, but the overall feeling is that it could be set anywhere in our dysfunctional world. In conclusion, Matthew Perry has made an excellent playwrighting debut, with smart jokes, well-written dialogue, and flawed but endearing characters, who are searching for love and happiness, and the play’s overall message is that everyone can change.

The play is showing at the Playhouse Theatre until 14th May 2016.

Miss Atomic Bomb – St James Theatre

Miss Atomic Bomb is a new musical comedy created by Gabriel Vick, Alex Jackson-Long and Adam Long which is making its world premiere at London’s St James Theatre.

It is set in the early-1950s, in “Atomic City USA”, Las Vegas.  Truman, who had agreed to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was still in the White House, and the US was at war in Korea.  It was the time of the Cold War, when “Red Menace” paranoia reigned and there was profound uncertainty about what the next day might bring and “Apocalypse” was everyday vernacular.  There was a dread of nuclear war, and yet also a patriotic fervour and delight over preparations for it.

Nuclear testing was taking place in the Nevada Desert around 50 miles from Las Vegas. The Government ran a PR campaign to convince people that the bombs were not only safe but fun. In true Las Vegas style, it capitalised on the situation: its Chamber of Commerce printed calendars advertising detonation times and the best viewing spots; hotels advertised their rooms based on the best views of the explosions.  The blasts would light up the sky, turning night into day, and the brightness of the flash led some to say that “The sun rose twice” that morning.  Las Vegas’ population more than doubled during the time, and the military employed around 10,000, a boon to the city’s economy.  People as far away as Utah reported animals dying, but no one in the city seemed to notice or care and it seemed the party would go on forever.  The 1963 Limited Test Ban finally put a stop to all above-ground nuclear testing.

Inspired by the bomb tests and beauty pageants of the time, this stunning new musical is set in those times, when people threw all-night parties in sight of the mushroom clouds, and Las Vegas was the tourist destination with its very own nuclear firework show.  The city’s acceptance, and indeed welcome, of the testing even went as far as glamour pageantry, in a search of a beauty queen to represent the American dream and become “Miss Atomic Bomb”.

Candy Johnson is a young sheep farmer in the Nevada desert, but because her sheep are “mysteriously” dying, she plans to travel to California with Myrna Ranapapadophilou, self-proclaimed fashion queen.  However, these plans are soon trampled by Mr Potts, a banker, who reveals their beloved grandmother had debts and he wants to repossess their trailer.  The girls take the trailer, and head off to Las Vegas, hoping to earn the money to repay the debts by entering a beauty contest.

Lou Lubowitz is the newly-appointed manager of the Golden Goose Hotel (after the previous manager’s stint was abruptly “terminated”) who is under pressure from his now bosses to turn around the failing business.  Together with his brother, army runaway Joey, he comes up with a plan to hold a beauty pageant where the winning lady will be crowned “Miss Atomic Bomb”.  People flock to the hotel and the question on everyone’s lips is: who will be Miss Atomic Bomb?

Florence Andrews (Once, Wicked, Dandy Dick) played Candy Johnson.  Andrews is fantastic in the role and sang ‘California’ with great power, conveying the young dreamer’s hopes and ambitions. Candy is transformed into a beauty pageant contestant from sheep farmer, but she never loses her country roots and is one of the few people to question what the government officials and scientists are telling the public about the testing.

Catherine Tate (Doctor Who (TV), The Vote, Assassins) played neurotic fashion-guru Myrna Ranapapadophilou.  In contrast to Candy, Myrna is out of place in the country because she isn’t cut out for farming.  Tate is excellent in the role and performs a hysterical number called ‘Sugardaddy’ with hotel manager, Lou, where the two decide to realise their dreams together.

Lou Lubowitz is played by Simon Lipkin (The Lorax, Assassins, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change).  Lipkin is comic genius as Lou, with really strong vocals and also some great tap-dancing – he performs ‘That Girl (is Miss Atomic Bomb)’ with great showmanship.

Dean John-Wilson (Songs For A New World, Here Lies, From Here To Eternity) played Joey Lubowitz, and makes his deserting soldier character likeable and sympathetic.  John-Wilson gives an emotional performance of ‘I’ll Stay With You’ when Joey decides to stand with his brother rather than running away which he has done all of his life.

Mr Potts, the cunning banker, is played by Daniel Boys (Little Shop of Horrors, Love Story, Spamalot).  He is hysterically funny as he proudly states Candy Johnson’s trailer will be his and then she will be locked up for a very, very long time.

All of the rest of the cast were outstanding, including: Stephane Anelli (Saturday Night Fever, Sinatra, Fiddler on the Roof) as Professor Alvin Schmol who continues to vouch for the atom bomb even though it is producing some unforeseen side effects to those in the ‘blast’ zone, singing ‘Fallout’; Sion Lloyd (The Bodyguard, The Pajama Game, Avenue Q) as Sergeant Flint and Boo Boo; and Olivia Fines (Singin’ in the Rain, The Producers, Grease) as Sharon, one of the Miss Atomic Bomb contestants.

Miss Atomic Bomb is a phenomenal new satirical comedy musical with a lot of potential to be a great success.  The musical numbers are really strong, a mix of jazz, rock n roll and country music, and there are brilliantly choreographed dance numbers by Bill Deamer (who also co-directed with Adam Long).  The show exaggerates American pride and patriotism to comic effect, making a caricature out of devilish bankers and wayward, righteous army officials. Unbelievably, what should have been devastating to the city’s tourism actually put it on the map.

So, who will be Miss Atomic Bomb?!  Everyone buy a ticket and head to the St James Theatre to find out!

In The Heights – King’s Cross Theatre

In The Heights is a musical by Quiara Alegria Hudes with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.  It began its life on a stage at Wesleyan University, Connecticut in 1999.  An updated version of the show was staged at the National Music Theatre Conference in Waterford, Connecticut in 2005 before it opened on Off-Broadway and then Broadway.  In The Heights premiered in the UK at the Southwark Playhouse in May 2014 and then transferred to the King’s Cross Theatre.

The show is set in Washington Heights, a suburb of New York City, and tells the story of the neighbourhood through the eyes of struggling business owners: Usnavi, who runs a convenience store; Daniela, a local salon owner, and her employee, Vanessa; and Kevin and Camila Rosario, who run a taxi business.

The Rosarios’ daughter, Nina, a Stanford University freshman, returns home to Washington Heights with bad news for her parents, who are devastated when she tells them that she has lost her scholarship and dropped out.  Later on in the show, Kevin, wanting a better life for his daughter, announces that he has sold the family business to pay for Nina’s tuition, upsetting both his wife and his employee Benny.

Usnavi discovers he has sold a $96,000 winning lottery ticket and the whole neighbourhood dreams of what they would spend that fortune on.  Abuela Claudia, who raised Usnavi, reveals to the audience that she has the winning ticket. When she tells Usnavi, they make plans to return to his homelands, the Dominican Republic.  Shortly after, news comes that Abuela Claudia has passed away and the neighbourhood mourns the woman who was like a mother to all of them.  Usnavi decides that Washington Heights is his home and Nina decides she is going to go back to Stanford.

Sam Mackay (Wonder.land, Flashdance, Mamma Mia) played Usnavi and gave a fantastic performance of the opening number, ‘In The Heights’.  He runs the local convenience store in partnership with his cousin, Sonny, who is played by Cleve September (The Last Days of Troy). Usnavi was raised by Abuela Claudia, played by Eve Polycarpou (Mother Courage and her Children, The Bacchae, Palace of the End) who has a very powerful voice.

Nina was played by Lily Frazer (Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables) who was excellent in the role.  Her performance of ‘Breathe’ was very touching and she demonstrated great vocal ability throughout the show.  Kevin and Camila Rosario are played by David Bedella (Rocky Horror Show, Sweeney Todd, Chicago) and Josie Benson (Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera, Why Don’t You Just Sing Jazz?).  Bedella’s performance ‘Inútil’ was a vulnerable and tender moment in the show, and Benson gave a standout vocal performance of ‘Enough’.

Joe Aaron Reid (Ghost, Catch Me If You Can, Chicago) played Benny, who has had a past relationship with Nina which is renewed during the show. Reid gave a wonderful performance, particularly during ‘Benny’s Dispatch’.

Philippa Stefani (Evita, I Can’t Sing, Grease) played Daniela and she gave a standout performance with ‘Carnival Del Barrio’.

Jade Ewen (former Sugababe, Porgy and Bess, Tonight’s the Night) played Vanessa and gave a incredible vocal and dance performance.

Overall, the dancing is phenomenal and the music has a wonderful groove to it.  In The Heights is high energy, fresh and rhythmic – a carnival on stage, as embodied in the fantastic musical number ‘Carnival Del Barrio’.

Rocky Horror Show – UK Tour

The Rocky Horror Show began its life on 19th June 1973 in the upstairs part of the Royal Court Theatre, seating 63 people.  Since then, it has captivated audiences, gained a devoted fan base, and been a smash hit on stage and on the big screen.  For all of this, we have to thank Richard O’Brien, the father of the Rocky Horror Show, who wrote the script, music and lyrics.

The show is the story of recently engaged Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who get a flat tire while driving on a remote road on a stormy night.  In search of a telephone, they walk back to a castle they’ve seen a few miles back, where they are taken on a strange journey of decadence, transvestism, sex and rock ‘n’ roll.

Brad and Janet were played by Ben Freeman (Happy Days, Wicked, Legally Blonde) and Diana Vickers (Hatched ‘n’ Dispatched, The Duck House, Fall of Little Voice).  Freeman gave a great performance as Brad.  Richard Meek (Hot Mikado, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Godspell) has now taken over the role. Vickers played Janet with a youthful innocence and naivety and, overall, her vocal performance was phenomenal, particularly during ‘Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me’.

Frank-N-Furter was played by Liam Tamne (Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Hairspray) who was fantastic in the role.  Tamne pulled off the part as the cross-dressing, flamboyant, eccentric, persuasive doctor with style and confidence.  His performance of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ was brilliant.

Kristian Lavercombe (Jesus Christ Superstar, Urinetown, Oliver!) and Kay Murphy (Matilda, The Tailor-Made Man, Top Hat) played Riff Raff and Magenta.  Both of them gave amazing performances. Murphy also played the Usherette who opens and closes the show with ‘Science Fiction, Double Feature’.  She has a wonderful voice and Lavercombe played the demented sidekick Riff Raff fabulously well.

Sophie Linder-Lee (Wicked, Mamma Mia!, Silence! – the Musical) gave an amazing performance as Columbia.  Her tap dance solo during the ‘Time Warp’ was excellent and she has the perfect voice to hit the high notes the part requires.  Eddie and Dr. Scott were played by Paul Cattermole (S Club 7 (band)),who gave an fantastic performance of ‘Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul’ and ‘Eddie’.  Dominic Anderson (Cats) played the muscular piece of eye candy Rocky perfectly.

The highlight of the show is the iconic ‘Time Warp’ which is high energy, fabulous and gets the audience up and dancing along only twenty minutes into the show.  Another standout number is ‘Rose Tint My World’.

Overall, it was an outstanding show.  The Rocky Horror show, following a sold out two-week run at the Playhouse Theatre in London, is currently touring the UK.  For full details of the tour dates and locations and to buy tickets, visit their website: http://rockyhorror.co.uk/