The current production of West Side Story staged at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester is spell-binding. This timeless piece has been inventively revived by Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom and showcases musical theatre at its finest.
Artform is an amateur theatrical company resident at the Broadway Studio in Catford, South East London. They have produced a diverse selection of musicals, plays and concerts. Their previous productions include ‘Avenue Q’, ‘Into the Woods’, and ‘Oh What A Lovely War’. I met up with Sheila Arden, Artform’s Chair and Artistic Director to discuss the ins and outs of running a theatre production company, what it’s like to be a Director and what Artform has planned next.
NewsRevue is bloody brilliant. The production, staged at the Canal Café’s pub theatre, is reminiscent of a musicalised Mock the Week episode. In a series of comedic scenes in quick succession, the show provides sharp satirical commentary on the messy current political situation we currently find ourselves in. Instead of lamenting at the shit show that Brexit is or the buffoon who holds the highest office in the US, this pokes fun at the farce that it all is and provides unexpected comic relief.
I often find myself out of step with audience’s responses to shows, most recently with Hadestown or Bat out of Hell to name a few. Usually I’m fine with having a dissenting opinion, but with Emilia, I’ve been shocked by how different my thoughts have been to nearly all the glowing reports I’ve seen, especially from people whose opinion I highly value. Simply put, I applaud the show’s intentions but it didn’t sweep me away as it has for many others.
Six, the wildly popular new West End musical, is currently wowing audiences at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square. Above this theatre, there is a little-known venue aptly called Above the Arts. It’s a relaxed setting with some stylish artwork, a small bar, some sofas and typically plays host to cabaret acts. On a Saturday afternoon, Amy Lovatt graced the stage with her very first concert, ‘I’d Rather Be Me’. The set opened with a playful rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls and included many musical theatre fan favourites including songs from The Last Five Years, Miss Saigon and Little Shop of Horrors.
In the Actors Centre, a fringe theatre venue in Leicester Square, a select audience witnessed the first full staging of After All, Alex’s Music Therapy Show. In this one-man musical performance, Alex talks us through his very personal experience of supporting his terminally ill brother with assisted suicide. Unable to process the ordeal, he eventually manages to find emotional release in Musical Therapy.
Moving back home to live with your parents is an experience which is painfully all too familiar. Goodbye independence, privacy and peace. I didn’t think there could be anything as undesirable, until I saw Killing Nana at The Hen and Chickens Theatre. I’ve come to realise that living with your grandma could not only be worse but may drive you to homicide. Yes given the title, you can assume it doesn’t end well for Nana.
I first came across Louise Cook’s name when I visited the recent West End production of Dreamgirls. The whole show blew me away but I remember being stunned by how dynamic the lighting design was in particular. When I learnt that Louise was part of the lighting team, I knew that I wanted to reach out to her as part of this series. Since Dreamgirls, Louise now works on tours of musicals and travels all around the world. I caught up with her to learn more about what it’s like to work in lighting in the theatre industry.
Deli Dumrul is an ancient Turkish tale which has been brought to life by the Arcola’s Ala Turka Company, helmed by Director Naz Yeni. Once our storytellers take centre stage, you are transported to another land, surrounded by vibrant Turkish music, culture and these engaging characters. The show beautifully harnesses the power that theatre has to connect with all audiences regardless of time or place or even language.
100% Chance of Rain is a show that is one of a kind.
As you take your seat at the theatre, you think you are in familiar territory and in to see a conventional play. The stage is framed with cream coloured broken umbrellas and nothing appears to be out of the ordinary. But as the house lights go down, next thing you know you are greeted by a woman projected on a screen telling the audience to close their eyes and focus on their breathing. She enters into a monologue and seven or eight cast members in brightly coloured clothing grace the stage and are all moving in unique ways, almost as if to communicate something. Thus, the tone for the night is set and you realise you are in for an interesting evening ahead.