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.
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.
Alex Hackitt-Anwyl grew up in Nuneaton and now lives in South London. FemFringe, which she founded, recently enjoyed a successful run at the Vaults Festival in Waterloo, London and will be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. We caught up for a good long chat about the show, the importance of women in the driving seats and what’s next for her.
I adored so many aspects of the Artform’s production of The Last Five Years: its intimate venue; the simple stage design; and the moving performances. In this two-person musical, we see the bittersweet rise and fall of Cathy and Jamie’s five-year relationship. It was honest, raw and heart-breaking.
Caroline, or Change is a musical of two quite different acts. The first had enjoyable parts but felt slow and left me feeling lukewarm. It was only during the second act that it shifted up a gear and an interesting show began to reveal itself. It became about much more than just an angry black woman in a low paid job, but a multi-layered insight into the feeling of change which rippled across America in the 1960s. It’s not your average feel-good musical but one that gets the brain ticking.
Some may be worried about 2019, it might be for big reasons such as that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU but hasn’t come to an agreement on what a Trade Deal will look like. Or for smaller reasons about whether you’ll be able to maintain the list of New Year Resolutions you spent so long on refining. Although 2019 may seem bleak for some, there’s lots to look forward to in the Musical Theatre World. Now I’m living in Central London, there’s so much more that I can access and I cannot wait to do so. Here’s my top five musicals I’m looking forward to seeing in 2019.
I found myself trying to explain Fanatical the Musical to a colleague at work. This made me realise that on the face of it, the show is quite a hard sell. The musical is set at a sci-fi convention and is about geeks who have an obsession with a fictional show called Angel-8. It’s an entirely original musical, doesn’t have that many known stars in the cast and is running at an off-west end theatre.