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CELEBRITY CASTING : IS IT EVER A GOOD DECISION?


This week saw the announcement of yet another actor taking over the role of Billy Flynn in the West End production of 'Chicago'. Duncan James, who initially originated the role back in 2008. He will star alongside another 'Celebrity' name in the form of Alexandra Burke as Roxie Hart. Duncan will be best known from his rise to fame in band Blue. Unlike many uproars we see regularly within the Theatre community when Celebrity casting is used, Duncan was let off lightly as this isn't his debut. His other theatre appearances include Warner Huntington III in the West End production of Legally Blonde and Anthony “Tick” Belrose in the UK tour of Priscilla. 

I believe in this casting decision, along with many others that celebrity casting can be a good thing when it's done correctly. And in reality household names sell tickets, with ticket sales comes a successful run of a production and in tern a successful show keeps a whole company of actors and technicians employed. Celebrities have also already built their careers and have a name for themselves, casting decisions get the media talking which is one of the best marketing ploys a show could wish for.

That being said there has been some awful decisions made in recent years, some of which you can't help but take a step back and try to understand the thought process of the producers. The wrong decision can damage a reputation so when taking in to consideration casting it needs to be done right. Decisions made such as these are when people start to question why the hundreds of professionally trained performers are not being given the chance. 

Although I do believe the Theatre community can be quick to judge a casting decision especially when celebrities are involved. I am a firm believer in having every faith in a producers decision and awaiting the opening night of a production before judgement is made.

I believe Duncan James will be an credit to the production, but lets reserve judgement until opening night. 

Let me know your thoughts below or you can find me through Instagram 

5 WEST END MUSICAL TRANSFERS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN




With the amount of heavy transfer rumours circulating the West End at the moment, it had me thinking. If I could choose my top 5 transfers to happen what would they be, and why? Touching upon musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen and Pretty Women carry on reading below to hear my thoughts.
I am starting off with one of the heaviest rumoured transfers at the moment, I think we will see some type of announcement by early next year.  With the announcement of Dreamgirls closing in January there is room for a fresh new musical to take its place. Sonia Friedman who produced Mean Girls, also produced Dreamgirls and Funny Girl. Do we see a pattern coming along here? Mean Girls holds an amazing name as is, so I really hope the West End transfer would see a debut from some new performers. Although I wouldn’t be mad if Barret Wilbert Weed follows the production to London… Right?


I mean, potentially one of the most anticipated transfers for any musical fan Dear Evan Hansen had to be on the list. Written by two of the greatest writers of our time Pasek & Paul ( La La Land, The Greatest Showman) tells the story of a socially anxious Evan Hansen and how one lie has changed his life. The story tore at so many hearts when it had its Broadway premiere, and won an astounding six Tony Awards. It'd be interesting to see who would be cast as the West End's Evan after Producer, Stacey Mindich spoke to the Daily Mail confirming that Evan would have to be played by an 'British actor' and casting would be colour blind. 


The soundtrack. I think that speaks for itself. Anastasia has one of the most beautifully written soundtracks (Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty)and although not receiving the awards it deserves I believe it would be amazing to see a West End transfer, I do believe that a limited run would work best for the musical as I don't see it being able to last long in the West End regardless of the popularity of the 1997 film, of the same name. Anastasia received mixed reviews by critics, uneven subplots and overly long running time was pinned as the main issues with the Musical. But personally I would love to see a West End premiere.


Being one of the newest premieres on Broadway, it's a little eager to wish for a West End transfer. But I am wishing a transfer purely based off the well loved 1990 movie, and 28 years later it would be interesting to see if, and how the musical adaptation has been changed. The score written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance will be released for digital download from 21st September, but the songs that have been released through promotional videos and performances I have had on repeat. Samantha Barks is and always will be a Musical Theatre Legend in my eyes, so it is overly exciting to see her in a fresh new production, with an original new score. I am hoping that a transfer would see Barks follow the production to the West End, but due to space in the West End I believe it'd be a long while before we saw a transfer, if at all. 

5. Frozen

Disney has done it again. I am a huge fan of Disney Theatrical Productions, so ever since the announcement of Frozen being written into a musical I was anticipating the release of the soundtrack. Monster and Let The Sun Shine On are both masterpieces within themselves. The book has been completely re-written to target to a more adult audience, as after doing research Disney realised 70% of their audience are adults, without children. I would love for the transfer to see Betsy Wolfe in her West End debut as Elsa, after originating the role in the Lab Production of Frozen.  And although not winning any Tony Awards, I believe a fresh new Disney Theatrical Production is just what the West End needs, to sit aside the long reigning The Lion King.

Notable mentions

I initially had Waitress as my top anticipated musical transfer, and the night before this post going live Sara Bareilles actually announced that Waitress will be making its West End transfer to the Adelphi Theatre from Spring 2019, with tickets going on sale THIS AUTUMN!

And I couldn't wrap this post up without mentioning Moulin Rouge an absolute staple in the land of Musical Theatre, and seeing a transfer to the West End would be monumental. 

Let me know if you agree with the musicals I've mentioned, or if you believe I have missed any off. Are you excited over the prospect of Broadway musicals storming the West End? Or are you wanting to see some more British premieres taking the West End?




Review : Heathers at The Other Palace

After the success of the workshop production of Heathers that premiered at The Other Palace in the summer of 2017 there has been a surge in excitement for Heathers within the UK audience. When a full production premiere was announced, the theatre community went into a melt down and Heathers pretty much sold out in the matter of 24 hours. I was lucky enough to get a ticket and can vow it is one of the most beautiful pieces of theatre I have watched. 

This version of Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s musical (which was first performed Off-Broadway in 2014) has been tightened up, while keeping to the original premier of the production. The cast - who were all very much praised in the theatre community already - have grown into their character portrayals, and have delivered, what I believe some of their best performance’s in their careers to date.


The show opens and we meet the stereotypical high school geek in the form of Veronica Sawyer (Carrie Hope Fletcher) who is going through the drama’s of high school, wishing and longing for the days of elementary school, where life was simple. Carrie Hope Fletcher, proves why she is one of the most successful performers in the UK at the moment, with an outstanding portrayal of Veronica - perfectly portrayed the struggles of high school and later on in the show on what it is really like to be a bitch. Which to many of her fans is a complete opposite to the characteristics of Carrie Hope Fletcher. Sassy, Charming and Humorous, her strong vocals work well with her character. Veronica is potentially one of the most vocally demanding roles within Theatre. Fletcher rarely leaves the stage from the moment the show begins, but finds a way to hold herself and deliver her best throughout each number. 

Carrie Hope Fletcher really begins to shine with the arrival of the Heathers, Chandler (Jodie Steele), Duke (T’shan Williams) and McNamara (Sophie Isaacs). Who all bounced off each others energy throughout the performance. All three Heathers tore apart the score with their powerhouse vocals, keeping it slick, clean and tidy with the choreography (Gary Lloyd) complementing them all. A notable mention has to be awarded to the new song written exclusively for the UK premier production, Williams made the audience fall in love with ‘Never shut up again’ and I am praying a UK cast recording is released so I can have it on repeat.

Veronica (Carrie Hope Fletcher) and J.D. (Jamie Muscato) are one of the most iconic musical theatre duos. Jamie Muscato is one of the fastest rising performers in the UK, and after seeing him in Big Fish (The Other Palace) last year I am glad to see him back on the stage. Muscato really pulled the audience through a journey of mixed emotions and feelings towards J.D. and his effortless vocals brought goosebumps across my whole body. I think UK audiences will be seeing a lot of Muscato once Heathers has had it’s run. 

A notable mention has to be made to Martha Dunnstock (Jenny O’Leary) I had high expectations after seeing O’Leary in the recent UK tour of RENT, and she did not disappoint. Jenny O’Leary portrayed everything you’d expect in a loyal high school best friend and more. I fell in love with Martha and sympathised with her throughout the show. I am blown away with her vocals every time and this was proved in Act two (Kindergarten Boyfriend).

Ram Sweeney (Dominic Andersen), Kurt Kelly (Christopher Chung), Ms Fleming/Veronica’s Mom (Rebecca Lock) Ram’s Dad/Coach Ripper (Edward Baruwa) and Kurt’s Dad/Principal Gowan (Jon Boydon) who all made up the featured ensemble were all a credit to the production and built the show up.


Heathers is running at The Other Palace until 4th August.