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NEWS: TRAILBLAZING 50p TICKET OFFER RETURNS FOR TRAINSPOTTING – HIGH DEMAND EXPECTED FOR CHANCE TO SEE SELL-OUT SHOW

The Citizens Theatre is once again offering intrepid fans a spectacular box office bargain – 50p tickets for the company’s five-star rated adaptation of  Irvine Welsh’s landmark novel Trainspotting.

From 10am on Saturday 14 Oct 100 tickets for Trainspotting will be available for 50p.

The connection between Welsh’s work and the Citizens is decades old. Harry Gibson’s adaptation of Trainspotting was first staged in the Citizens Theatre’s Stalls Studio in 1994, only nine months after the novel itself was published.

This revived version is directed by Gareth Nicholls and received rave reviews during its 2016 run at the Citizens. Critics described this staging as “inspired” (The Scotsman) “courageous” (The National) with characters that “crackle with a raw new power” (Independent).

Tickets are available across 10 performances and are only available to purchase in person at the theatre. Customers will be able to buy a maximum of two tickets per person which must be paid for in cash.

The Box Office opens at 10am – but availability is strictly limited. With the 50p ticket offer increasingly popular with each show, customers are advised to join the queue early to avoid disappointment.

Trainspotting runs at the Citizens Theatre from 18 Oct – 11 Nov, before moving to the King’s Theatre Edinburgh, where it will be presented by Selladoor Scotland, from 14 – 18 Nov.

Almost 3,000 50p tickets have been sold since Dominic Hill revived the 50p ticket offer in his first season at the Citizens Theatre in 2012.

The offer honours the Citizens Theatre’s historic reputation for offering world-class theatre at affordable prices. 50p tickets were first offered at the Citizens in 1976 when the theatre was under the leadership of Giles Havergal, Phillip Prowse and Robert David McDonald; renowned in the 70s and 80s for their innovative productions.

This innovative approach also encompassed a bold pricing structure with the belief that theatre should be accessible to all regardless of financial circumstance.

As well as at Saturday’s sale, tickets for Trainspotting are available by calling the Citizens Theatre Box Office on 0141 429 0022 or by visiting citz.co.uk. Tickets start from £2 concessions.

TOURING TO SCOTLAND: First look at Danny Mac and Ria Jones in Sunset Boulevard

The first images showing Ria Jones and Strictly Come Dancing’s Danny Mac as Norma Desmond and Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard have been released. The Tony Award-winning musical is coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse next month in a five night run from 3rd until 7th October.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, played by Ria Jones lives in a fantasy world.

Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. 

All Images Copyright: Manuel Harlan

 

REVIEW: Brian May & Kerry Ellis – Golden Days

Queen’s Brian May and musical theatre stalwart Kerry Ellis have forged a strong, if unexpected, musical partnership over the past few years.

In their newest collaboration the pair have delved into their live back catalogue, deliver their own versions of some well-known classics, as well as penning a series of original songs. The result is an eclectic mix of styles and genres, doubtless to appeal to their diverse fan base.

Track by Track:

Love In A Rainbow (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Billed as “retro-psychedelic”, it’s a gentle poppy ballad and low-key start to the album.

Roll With You (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Written to illustrate Ellis’ favourite sayings, attitudes and philosophies on life. Despite the classic rock guitar riff, it’s more a cheerful middle of the road high energy pop tune.

Golden Days (Brian May)

A lushly produced power ballad.

It’s Gonna Be All Right (The Panic Attack Song) (Brian May)

Very much in the same vein as the other recently-penned songs on the album, this is another middle of the road pop-rock number.

Amazing Grace (John Newton, Trad. Arr, Brian May)

Accompanied by May on acoustic guitar, this is a simple, but beautiful rendition of the traditional hymn.

One Voice (Ruth Moody)

This choir favourite has been given a fresh vocal arrangement.

If I Loved You (Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers)

One of the musical Carousel’s most-loved songs, Ellis delivers an ear-pleasing version, gentle and less strident than the musical theatre original.

Born Free (John Barry, Don Black)

Billed as a “rock re-arrangement” of the classic movie theme this is very richly produced, and includes a guitar solo with May sounding his most Queen-like.

Parisienne Walkways (Phil Lynott, Gary Moore)

Gary Moore’s signature guitar song is given a female vocal, but it is May’s superlative guitar skills that shine  through.

I Who Have Nothing (Carlo Donida, Mogol, Jerry Leiber, Mike

Stoller)

One of the world’s most covered songs. This is an odd, synth heavy, 80s-sounding Bond theme-imitating version with dated sound and production.

The Kissing Me Song (Brian May, Kerry Ellis)

Another 80s style pop-rock number.

Story Of A Heart (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson)

Written by Abba’s world-famous song writing duo and originally the title track on The Benny Andersson Band’s compilation album, this sounds like late-era Abba after their glory days were over.

Can’t Help Falling In Love (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George

David Weiss)

A nicely judged version of the much-loved and much-covered song.

The album is a pleasant offering that isn’t going to break any new ground or win a legion of new fans. Stylistically and in its production style it sounds of another era, somewhat over-produced and the song choices, considering the talent of the two individuals involved is ultimately uninspiring, but the diverse selection will undoubtedly keep the duo’s fan base happy.

Released on Sony Music the album is available to purchase/download now.

REVIEW: Lucky Stiff

A year before classic 80s comedy Weekend at Bernies hit the silver screen, Lynn Ahren’s and Stephen Flaherty’s Lucky Stiff (based on Michael Butterworth’s 1983 novel The man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo) hit the off-Broadway stage. The 2014 film version of this early curio has, this week been released for digital download.

Down on his luck shoe salesman, Harry Witherspoon (Dominic Marsh) receives word that his uncle, whom he has never met, has left him a not inconsiderable fortune. However, as with much in life and musical theatre, things don’t come easy. Harry has to take his uncle’s corpse for one last blow out to marvellous Monte Carlo. Thrown into the mix are Tony Award-winner Nikki M. James as an animal shelter worker who dogs his every step, waiting for him to slip up so it can become the sole beneficiary and as if this wasn’t enough, fellow Tony Award-winner Jason Alexander and Pamela Shaw are siblings who have their sights set firmly on the cash. Cue silly scenarios and a raft of unfortunately forgettable tunes.

This farcical tale is set in the 70s and instead of being a modern pastiche of the decade that style forgot, it feels as entirely, authentically and depressingly dated as the 70s themselves, aided by the 60s/70s style animated sequences which pepper the action throughout.

While there are some competent performances, as you’d expect from the undoubtedly talented cast, the material they are fed does no-one any justice. It is quite frankly astonishing why the money was made for this to be produced. At 78 minutes long its brevity is on of its only redeeming features.

For musical theatre completists, it’s a chance to see an obscure musical that’s rarely, if ever staged. For everyone else don’t waste your time.

Lucky Stiff is currently available for download on iTunes and other digital platforms.

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WEST END NEWS: Almeida launch Live Cinema Broadcasts

The Almeida Theatre have announced the launch of Almeida Theatre Live, with a broadcast of Richard III to cinemas on Thursday 21 July, in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, produced by Illuminations Media.

For the first time, Almeida Theatre Live will give audiences the chance to see plays filmed live from their stage. Almeida Artistic Director Rupert Goold said: “The chance to take the work of the Almeida to international audiences via live cinema screening is a new and timely venture for us that I’m extremely excited about.”

Richard III is directed by Rupert Goold, with Ralph Fiennes as Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Margaret. For full details about the production, click here.

Richard III will be broadcast live to cinemas across the UK and around the world (7pm GMT) on 21 July. For details of screenings and booking information check local cinema listings or visit live.almeida.co.uk

Almeida Theatre Live | Richard III |  21 July 2016

WEST END NEWS: First look at Kenneth Branagh in The Entertainer – Tickets now on sale for live cinema broadcast

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, has confirmed that the date of the final Branagh Theatre Live cinema broadcast of this season will be The Entertainer at 7pm on Thursday 27 October 2016. Tickets for the broadcast of The Entertainer and details of participating cinemas can be found at branaghtheatrelive.com

Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborneʼs modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an examination of public masks and private torment. The Entertainer will play at the Garrick Theatre from Saturday 20 August until Saturday 12 November, with press night on Tuesday 30 August.

John Hurt will return to the London stage for the first time in a decade as patriarch Billy Rice opposite Kenneth Branagh, who as previously announced, will play Archie Rice in Rob Ashford’s production. Also joining the company will be Phil Dunster (Graham), Jonah Hauer-King (Frank Rice), Pip Jordan (dancer), Crispin Letts (Brother Bill), Sophie McShera (Jean Rice), Greta Scacchi (Phoebe Rice) andKate Tydman (dancer).

Tickets are also now on sale for the next Branagh Theatre Live broadcast, Romeo and Juliet on 7 July 2016. Directors Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh have reunited the stars of the celebrated film Cinderella, Richard Madden and Lily James, in Shakespeareʼs heartbreaking tale of forbidden love, with Derek Jacobi as Mercutio and Meera Syal as The Nurse. Romeo and Juliet will play at the Garrick from 12 May to 13 August 2016.

The cinema broadcasts of The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer are directed by Benjamin Caron, who has also recently collaborated with Kenneth Branagh on the forthcoming series of Wallander which is due to be broadcast on the BBC in Summer 2016.

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Cinema broadcast: 27 October 2016
Cinema ticket bookings: branaghtheatrelive.com

The Entertainer
Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road
London, WC2H 0HH

Garrick Theatre Box Office: 0844 482 9673
Online Theatre Bookings: www.branaghtheatre.com
Tickets from £15

WEST END NEWS: Aladdin Extends its run

With 315 hours of rehearsals now complete; 68 tonnes of scenery hung at the Prince Edward Theatre and 337 custom-designed, hand-made costumes created from over 1,225 varieties of fabric, adorned with millions of Swarovski crystals, Disney’s new musical Aladdin will begin previews in the West End tonight.

Ahead of the very first performance in the UK, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that Aladdin has extended its booking period into 2017. Tickets for the spectacular production are now on sale for performances up to and including 11 February 2017. Aladdin’s official opening night will be on Wednesday 15 June. For further details please visit www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk

Dean John-Wilson plays the role of Aladdin alongside Jade Ewen as Jasmine in the new musical based on the classic Academy Award®-winning animated film. Broadway cast member Trevor Dion Nicholas makes his London stage debut as Genie and is joined by Don Gallagher as Jafar, Peter Howe as Iago, Irvine Iqbal as the Sultan, Nathan Amzi as Babkak, Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Kassim and Rachid Sabitri as Omar.

Aladdin features the timeless songs from the 1992 animated film as well as new music written by Tony®, Olivier© and eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop Of Horrors). With lyrics from Olivier Award and two-time Oscar® winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony and Olivier Award, three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida), and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), and a book by Beguelin, Aladdin is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

WEST END NEWS: Full Line Up for West End Live Announced

The full line-up for this year’s West End Live has been announced. The free event takes place in Trafalgar Square and takes place on June 18th and 19th.

Over 25 shows feature with West End stars Beverley Knight, Michael Xavier, Kerry Ellis, Matt Cardle and West End debutante Pixie Lott making an appearance to promote Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The full list in alphabetical order is:

American Idiot, Beautiful, The Bodyguard, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Crazy For You, Disney’s The Lion King, Guys And Dolls, In The Heights, Impossible, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kinky Boots, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Matilda The Musical, Motown The Musical, Murder Ballad, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Secret Garden, Show Boat, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Stomp, Sunny Afternoon, Thriller Live, The Wedding Singer and Wicked.

CD REVIEW: Love Birds – Original Edinburgh Cast Recording

A rare and unusual thing – an original Edinburgh cast recording.

Following in his family’s illustrious songwriting footsteps (father and uncle The Sherman Brothers, were composers of the music for Mary PoppinsThe Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and grandfather Al – a Tin Pan Alley alumni, Love Birds is Robert J. Sherman’s new musical premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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It’s the Roaring 20s – well the golden era of Vaudeville just before the twenties roared. Armitage Shanks’ avian revue is in turmoil as his star turn ‘the feathered Caruso’ Baalthazar Macaw has mysteriously gone missing. His remaining acts: a trio of singing macaw sisters and a quartet of performing penguins press on, but there’s revolt in the ranks as Shanks refuses to move with the times and embrace the dawn of a newer, racier era.

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Despite its setting and its 20’s-evocative feel, there are some interesting and fresh-sounding tunes here: ‘Mary Poppins’ is arguably the best of the bunch and has the penguins lament their abandonment at the hands of the most famous nanny in the world, it’s a barber-shop, doo woop number that could easily sit beside Sherman’s illustrious forebears classic output. Every style of the era is represented, there are Charleston tunes, Vaudeville numbers, Ragtime, torch songs, soft-shoe shuffles and ditties that wouldn’t sound out of place in 42nd StreetBugsy Malone or a Busby Berkeley extravaganza. That the sound is produced with only a three piece band (keys/bass/drums) and a fine sounding (if small) cast of nine is laudible.

It’s perky and it’s peppy and full of brio, but it could do with a little more light and shade to contrast the unremitting joy of the rest of the recording. One can’t help feeling that this is a springboard to something bigger. It’s clear a lot of time and effort has gone into its creation and the unusual production of an Edinburgh Fringe cast recording certainly signals intent for a longer life for Love Birds: it wouldn’t be surprising to hear in the future that this is being expanded into a full-blown two and a half hour production. Meanwhile enjoy a charming blast from a bygone era.

Love Birds is available from SimG Productions

ACROSS THE POND: Finding Neverland Broadway

Despite being largely ignored by critics across the pond Finding Neverland has had healthy box-office returns.

Based on the Academy Award®-winning film of the same name, the show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. Delighted by the boys’ hilarious escapades, Barrie conjures the magical world of Neverland and writes a play unlike any the high-society London theatergoers have ever seen. It’s a tremendous risk, but as Barrie himself has discovered.

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