BWW: Watch Gavin Creel Help Sara Bareilles Launch WAITRESS in the West End!

BroadwayWorld UK attended the West End press launch of Waitress at Ronny Scott's Jazz Bar ahead of the show opening next year. Watch the video below!

Following on from its Broadway success, the smash-hit musicalWaitresswill begin preview performances on 8 February ahead of its official opening night on 7 March at London's Adelphi Theatre.Book tickets here!

Currently playing its third year on Broadway, Waitress will bring with it an all-female lead creative team - a West End musical first.

Based on the 2007 motion picture written by Adrienne ShellyWaitress was the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Latarro and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.

Jamie Body spoke to Sara Bareilles and got a sneak peek at some of the songs in the show - with Bareilles joined by Gavin Creel

Video can be seen here:


Following on from Camden People’s Theatre’s brilliant Come As You Are festival last year, the event is set to replicate its success with a UK tour this Autumn and will once again be headlined by Milk Presents’ Bullish, which tells of ancient mythology against modern gender navigation. The festival is a fantastic exploration of LGBTQIA+ theatre and the first tour of its kind, which begs the question: do we still need to educate people in what this actually means?

It has been just over 50 years ago since the partial decriminalising of homosexuality in England & Wales but many members of the LGTBQ+ community still struggle with acceptance and findings ways to express themselves. Even in London, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, you can still be a victim of ridicule and hatred if you are different.

A passionate advocator of LGBTQ+ theatre, Milk Presents co-founder, Lucy J Skilbeck doesn’t think that London is the only place for the community. “I don’t think it’s a case that London is a gender fluid capital and the rest of the country is barren, I don’t think that at all. It’s a myth that London is one thing and the rest of the country is different.” Skilbeck originates from Yorkshire and the rest of the Bullish crew come from various parts of the UK, bar London. The show and company are perfect examples of illustrating that you can find your tribe and do what you love regardless of where you are from.

Milk Presents previous work includes JOAN, loosely based on Joan of Arc and also, as Skilbeck explains, “the character of the Minotaur, which is part beast and part man. This really struck a chord with me. It allowed me to figure things out in a way that I wouldn’t be able to if the story wasn’t there. It lets you explore identity in a way that is a bit away from yourself.”

With the rise of musicals such as Kinky Boots and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and having queer theatre venues such as The Kings Head, being LGTBQ+ isn’t a USP of a show anymore.

“You have to be wary of selling a show on identity. We are a non-binary, trans, queer theatre company but our show is about the story of the Minotaur and that is the selling point. There is however a responsibility to explore stories that are not just one narrative. We need to explore what is non-binary and transgender.  They are not just one single story line, they are plural things and those experiences are varied and many.”

As well as performing at five venues for the Come As You Are festival, Bullish is performing 32 shows across 17 towns later in the year and Skilbeck is clearly anticipating great things once outside of the Capital. “I’m excited to meet with queer, trans and non-binary people who already exist and meet them in their town or city. It’s not like we are bringing something to them that is not there, queer people are all over the country.”

Tackling queer theatre from a different perspective and having to deal with the worries of not only how she is perceived but how this could impact her son’s life is Liz Clarke with I’m Bitter About Glitter. Remarkably, as well as starring nine-year-old, Felix the show has been created with him as an equal contributor. Clarke describes the show as, “The Wizard of Oz crossed with finding your bag and school shoes on a Monday morning.” As well as Skilbeck, the Artist also believes in the fundamental importance of making and bringing such work to varying parts of the country. “The (CAYA) festival is vitally important! We have a responsibility to work in this way and explore these themes. It is really important to bring these viewpoints to communities that don’t always have access to the arts or these types of work.”

Social Media and the internet have been a game changer for people who have felt different or ostracized. It provides a therapeutic outlet for people to research, connect with like-minded people and provides avenues to express how you feel but it has also become one of the main sources of bullying for children, a concern that is very close to Clarke’s heart. “It is something that as a parent is very frightening – it is a whole new world to navigate, we can educate and arm ourselves with the knowledge of this but still we have to have these frank conversations.”

The festival encourages all families, whether they are heterosexual or LGTBQ+ to attend and experience the festival, as well as to ask questions. Clarke further talks to me about how she sees her son’s experiences. “It’s amazing working with a young person who is experiencing being different from his peers and has different views and interests. I believe it is vitally important to nourish these questions as they are our future – they are getting it right, they are very open, non-judgemental and beautiful accepting of difference.”

The Camden People’s Theatre have been making theatre for 24 years and over that time frame have worked with an incredibly varied range of artists and creatives. Executive Director, Kaya Stanley-Money tells me that, “our mission statement is to support early-career artists making unconventional theatre – particularly those whose work explores issues that matter to people now.” Work such as that by Clarke? “To be included in this program is very important to us as having a young person’s voice who is at other end of the scale; new, fresh… I have great hopes for the younger generation,” She tells me.

Exciting and inspiring, lets hope that with festivals such as Come As You Are, which force those across the UK that perhaps have never met anyone LGBTQ+ to do so, there’ll be more ‘normalisation’ and acceptance of otherwise marginalised groups.

The Come As You Are Festival kicks off on September 27th at the Theatre Royal Wakefield and tours until December 1st ending at the Lighthouse in Pool.

SW Londoner: X Factor winner goes back to his roots as Madagascar the Musical comes to New Wimbledon Theatre

Madagascar the Musical brings the zoo to the New Wimbledon Theatre this week with the help of an X Factor winner going back to where it all it began.

Based on the smash hit DreamWorks movie, Madagascar – The Musical follows four ‘crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to Madagascar.

Starring the 2016 X-Factor winner Matt Terry, this musical adaptation features puppets, energetic dance numbers, and a talented cast and creative team.

Matt said: “What a lot of people don’t know is that I trained in musical theatre before I ended up on the X-Factor, so I fell into that and was going through the audition process.

“X-Factor obviously went really well but I’m back to my roots now – where it started off.”

He added: “I love the cast, I love the music, and I feel really passionate about it – it’s a film as iconic as Shrek so it’s important to get right.

“The casting is great, the minute you walk into a room you can tell, that’s Alex, that’s Marty, that’s Melvin, that’s Gloria.”

When it came to the rehearsal process it didn’t involve just watching the movie over and over again on repeat.

“They made me think if Alex were a human, who would he be, and my thought was that his character to me is like Joey from Friends,” added Matt.

“He gets all the ladies, but it’s coming from a good place – he’s not arrogant and everyone likes him. It’s fun to separate them as animals and analyse their characters as humans.”

The original movie was released in 2005 and was voiced by the likes of David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen.

The musical’s director Kirk Jameson, said: “It’s a story that spans across the ages and generations. There have been a few sequels, and now we’re ready to see it live.”

Despite the film being released so long ago the original and sequels are just as popular now and Kirk has even been given extensive notes from his nephew and was told that the iconic song ‘Move It’ was necessary to the show, lucky for him that it is.

From the moment he read the script Kirk knew there had to be puppets in the show.

He said: “I was worried about the puppets because they can look bad very easily but they’ve been so amazing to work with. The puppets are a dream and now the least of my concerns.”

The show has an extensive selection of puppets designed by Max Humphries and puppet direction by Emma Brunton.

What: Madagascar — The Musical

Where: New Wimbledon Theatre

When: July 21-28 2018

More information

SW Londoner: ADRIFT: Shailene Woodley finds new depths in real-life survival story

Based on a true survival story, Shailene Woodley and Sam Clarin star in the beautifully shot open water movie ADRIFT.

Bright-eyed and free-spirited Tami Oldman Ashcraft, played by Woodley, left her life in California to travel the world and explore. With little money and very few possessions to her name she works enough to fund her travels and enjoys the freedom that her life grants her.

Shailene (Divergent series, Big Little Lies, The Fault in Our Stars) delivers a career-best performance with the emotion and depth she portrays, hardly leaving the screen in this movie.

Sam, known for his roles in Hunger Games, My Cousin Rachel, Me Before You,  plays Richard Sharp, the on-screen and real-life partner of Tami.

The engaged couple spend months sailing around the South Pacific islands in Sharp’s 36-foot sailboat, Mayaluga, when they decide to take a break from their idyllic life to sail a 44-foot yacht, Hazana, from Tahiti to San Diego.

The dream of a happy future takes a detour when the pair get caught in the tropical wave turned hurricane, Raymond, less than three weeks into their journey.

Unable to out sail the ruthless Hurricane, Sharp and Ashcraft fight desperately to keep Hazana afloat in the 40-foot waves and 140-knot winds.

The movie jumps from present time to past events highlighting the couples love and the power and distraction of the hurricane. The non-linear narrative helps to build suspense as moments of romance and hope are then instantly turned-upside down, literally, as Tami and Richard fight for survival when the yacht capsizes.

The film does well to build suspense and tension, director Baltasar Kormákur is no stranger to a survival film having directed Everest and The Deep.

Baltasar knows how to use effective cinematography and a variety of shots to establish the vastness of the ocean and the peril that the pair face.

The chemistry between Shailene and Sam is believable and has you rooting for them as all seems lost.

The film artfully maps out a true tale of epic proportion, with one woman’s fight for survival at its centre.

The film falls into the realm of many other open water and disaster movies such as All is Lost, 2013, Open Water and Perfect Storm.

As this is a true story, some of the audience may very well know the outcome, yet this doesn’t dull the film’s sheer emotional impact as it reaches its rollercoaster conclusion.

BWW: Glengarry Glen Ross

One of my first assignments as a reporter for BroadwayWorld UK was to to interview the cast and director of the West End Play Glengarry Glen Ross. The cast included Christian Slater and the dialogue was insightful talking about the themes of the play and how they are still relevant in the present time. You can find out more about the show and see the video here.

David Mamet's trailblazing modern classic Glengarry Glen Ross, directed by Sam Yates, runs at the Playhouse Theatre in London's West End until 3 February, 2018 - read our review. The production stars Christian SlaterRobert GlenisterKris MarshallStanley Townsend and Don Warrington. At a time of fierce debate about the American Dream and what it represents, Glengarry Glen Ross is a lacerating satire for modern society, highlighting how economic austerity can affect the morality and greed of individuals under financial pressure. Pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other, four increasingly desperate employees will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you're f****d. Watch the video and read the article on Broadway World  

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Relaxed theatre

So you might be thinking what is a relaxed performance? Is it where the cast leave the glitz and glamour behind and wear pj's and the audience can come and go as they please and eat food in the auditorium? ...No would be the answer to that. Relaxed performances are designed to allow those members of the audience who would most benefit from having a more relaxed and accessible environment. Relaxed performances are open to people with autism spectrum condition, sensory and communication disorder and learning disabilities.

This means that for that particular performance there is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and when possible small changes to the light and sound of the show will be made to accommodate this, overall trying to reduce some of the sensory aspects of a production. Shows like 'The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time' give just a small insight to what life with a disability is like and it was also the first West End show to give a relaxed perform to an older audience.

During relaxed shows families will be warned when to expect loud noises or of bright light changes and for anyone who is overwhelmed during the performance there is, when possible,   a 'chill out ' zone located somewhere in the building which also may have televisions and audio relay to the show.

There you can relax more and still not miss out on the production. Theatre and the arts has been shown to help with interaction and communication within people with disabilities and learning difficulties and this is a great way to expand on this and make sure that theatre is accessible to all. More and more theatres and shows are now starting to implement relaxed performances and with live theatre now being shown in cinemas and with the occasional live musical on TV,  the mediums in which we watch and enjoy theatre are starting to expand and thus making it much more accessible.

You can find out some more information on Relaxed Performances here: Stage Newspaper. An great article from The Stage about relaxed theatre. ATG - find out information here about ATG relaxed theatre and performances. There are also certain charities such as Mouse Trap that also run relaxed and disabled friendly theatre trips.

Some shows that offer relaxed performances are :Curious Incident    Wicked.   Matilda  Most show websites and pantomimes will list when their next relaxed and altered show will be. And make sure to check out if your local cinema show live theatre and shows.