Following the success of Before After and You Are Here,Matthew Rankcom returns to Southwark Playhouse to direct the first major U.K. revival of Stephen Sondheim & Arthur Laurents’ Anyone Can Whistle in twenty years.
When Matthew told me what their next project would be I may have let out a little squeal of excitement. I was first introduced to Anyone Can Whistle by the late, great Dora Bryan in the 80s and I’ve adored it ever since.
Anyone Can Whistle famously ran for only 12 previews and 9 performances on Broadway but has achieved cult status since. Telling the tale of a corrupt politician who lies through her teeth to revitalise her waning popularity, there couldn’t be a better time to revive this wonderful score and I cannot wait to see what Matthew brings to it.
DIMITRI GRIPARI TO PLAY DANCENY IN DANGEROUS LIAISONS
The brilliant Dimitri Gripari has just finished filming Season 1 of Dangerous Liaisons playing the Chevalier Danceny.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses is one of my all time favourite novels. I first read it as a teenager and have read it so very many times since. For those who need a quick JBR Notes edition – Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a deliciously twisted and sexy epistolatory novel that details the romantic and sexual peccadillos of a group of French nobles just before the revolution. It’s a page-turning tale of seduction and revenge that caused a scandal when it was first published.
At the centre of the story are the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont and woe betide anyone who gets in their way, including the dashing and honourable Danceny.
The series is produced for Starz by Playground and Flame Ventures in association with Lionsgate Television and is a reimagining of the famous characters and a revelation of their origin stories.
A stunning cast (we stan Robert Sterne and Charlotte Chapman) includes Clare Higgins, Lesley Manville, Fisayo Akinade, Maria Friedman, while Nicholas Denton & Alice Englert take on the iconic roles of Valmont and Merteuil. Get ready for your next unmissable binge viewing!
ESME SEARS IN REHEARSAL FOR GAZE AT NEWCASTLE NORTHERN STAGE
It was little over a month ago that Esme Sears was making her Wigmore Hall debut, since then she’s made her directing debut, directing Do You Get Your Hair Permed? at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton, and now (always keeping me busy!) she’s about to appear in Gaze at Newcastle Northern Stage. As a young Black, female creative, Esme is on her own journey of creativity – she is a writer, an actor, a director, a poet, a songwriter, and more and whenever the opportunity comes for her to explore and expand her creativity, Esme jumps at it.
No wonder then that Gaze, written by S.L.Page, appealed to Esme. Gaze is a play about women’s voices and the stories they inherit and pass on. Gaze takes the true story of Alice Guy Blaché, the first female filmmaker, who faced countless barriers and betrayal in her career and places it alongside that of Rose, a modern-day film student, grappling with her mental health and trying to find a sense of purpose in her life.
Restoring women’s voices, and particularly women of colour, to narratives that have excluded and excised their contributions is something that both Esme and I are particularly passionate about and so it is a real joy for her to be able to work on this production.
Book tickets for Gaze here and watch the trailer below.
VANEEKA DADHRIA RETURNS TO JAMIE LLOYD’S CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Vaneeka accepting the role of the Beatboxer in Jamie Lloyd’s phenomenal production of Cyrano de Bergerac, starring James McAvoy was the first West End job JBR Creative Management booked. That it was also Vaneeka’s first ever acting job as well as her West End debut made it a particularly special event – I even have the press night tickets framed on my wall!
That Vaneeka gets to return to Cyrano in 2022 is such an extraordinary gift and one we are both so grateful for. This incredible production (with casting by Stuart Burt & Richard Johnson) was one of my theatrical highlights of the past few years. Thousands of people have seen the NT Live version and now thousands more will get to see it live at its new London base at the Harold Pinter Theatre before it moves to McAvoy’s home town of Glasgow and then to New York City. Yep, Vaneeka’s off to NYC, baby!
For a first job, I’d say this one is always going to have a special place in both mine, and Vaneeka’s hearts.
12,000 tickets will priced at £15 across all UK productions, with 75% specifically for under 30s, key workers and those receiving government benefits.
One of the (many) reasons I love working with multi-platform creatives is how interesting their careers can be.
Take Esme Sears, for example. I have known and worked with Esme for years. Having trained in and pursued musical theatre for many years, Esme found herself feeling a little creatively constrained. She wanted to take some space and investigate other areas of the industry and fully explore her creativity.
She’s been writing and studying and has, through bravery and necessity, been finding her ow unique voice and her own path. She recently performed in An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre at Wigmore Hall showcasing a different tone and timbre to her stunning voice and now is flexing her creative muscles in a different direction, working on Reece Mckenzie’s cabaret, Do You Get Your Hair Permed? A Musical Exploration of the Black voice, directing him in a performance at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton.
Stepping out of your lane can be terrifying but Esme has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Working with multi-platform creatives is exciting because the embody the ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ philosophy, stepping out of their comfort zones, getting off their path and taking a wander in the woods of creativity. I’m so proud of Esme.
Find out more about Do You Get Your Hair Permed?here.
Fresh from directing the critically acclaimed You Are Here (a show I loved) at Southwark Playhouse, Matthew Rankcom‘s next project is Pippin for Italia Conti.
Pippin is one of those shows I can never quite get a grip on but I just love it every time. I’m intrigued as to what Matthew makes of it. It’s wonderfully, gloriously odd and I think it’s just a perfect show for the talented students of Italia Conti.
When Mercurius Theatre launched in 2012 with Chekhov’s Vaudevilles I bet they never anticipated reviving it almost a decade later at the tail end of a crippling pandemic. And yet, it seems like an appropriate time to look at how far Mercurius have come (15 highly acclaimed productions and 8 Offie nominations so far!) and to revisit Chekhov’s compelling mix of the serious and the comic.
I’m excited to see Vaudevilles and to catch up with Jenny afterwards to find out what revisiting the production was like.
Vaudevilles plays at the White Bear Theatre from the 19th – 30th October. For more information and to book, click here.
I didn’t see my first panto until I was in my 40’s but it’s a genre I have much love for – not to mention huge admiration for the performers and their stamina! I gave my Dame one Christmas and when it was over I slept until Valentine’s Day!
The Theatre Royal, Stratford East is, hands-down, easily in my top ten of pantos and so I’m overjoyed that Ashley Goh will be taking on the role of Bow Peep for them this year. Ashley is an incredibly exciting talent and I cannot wait to see their take on this classic tale.
Head into the dark, dark woods (well, Stratford) this Christmas for an adventure where nothing is quite what it seems. Bring the family. This is going to be a treat.
Life is disappointing? Honey, you don’t need to tell me! What a year, eh? Never mind, because life is about to get very, very beautiful indeed. The girls are beautiful, the orchestra is beautiful, and Matthew Gent? The most beautiful of them all.
Transforming the Playhouse Theatre into Christopher Isherwood’s legendary Kit Kat Club, the first new production of Cabaret the West End has seen in years promises to be a sensory overload. This will be a Cabaret the like of which we have never seen before and I am absolutely thrilled, beyond thrilled, that Matthew will be joining the company as Hans.
I’ve know Matthew for the best part of 15 years and watching his talent grow in that time has been an extraordinary privilege for me. I am so happy that he will be returning to the West End in what will surely be an iconic production of an iconic musical.
AN INCONVENIENT BLACK HISTORY OF BRITISH MUSICAL THEATRE
Think you know the history of British musical theatre? You may want to reconsider!
When the opportunity to work with Sean Mayes and Sarah Whitfield presented itself I was intrigued. Sean & Sarah are the authors of An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre 1900-1950 and, in advance of their book launch in September, we have been working with Wigmore Hall to present a concert of music which re-centers the experiences and contributions of Black creatives on the British musical theatre genre.
Presented by Sean and Sarah, featuring arrangements by Sean, the concert will be hosted by Jonathan Andrew Hume (Come From Away, The Lion King) and feature performances by Hume andEsme Sears as we explore, rediscover, and celebrate the forgotten heritage of Black practitioners.
Directed by Shanté Campbell the evening will be an innovative hybrid of concert and discussion with Sean and Sarah talking about their work uncovering this lost history, and performances that centre the repertoire.
With tickets just £20 and a range of £5 tickets available for Under 35s, I am beyond proud that JBR Productions and JBR Creative Management are assisting Wigmore Hall in producing this concert and supporting Sean & Sarah in their ongoing work.
September 21st is the official launch date for the book from Bloomsbury & Methuen and copies will be available to buy on the night. You can also preorder An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre 1900-1950here.
To book, please see the Wigmore Hall website here.
TIM PHELPS TAKES TO THE OPEN ROAD IN THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Despite being a born-and-bred Londoner, thanks to Kenneth Graeme’s The Wind In The Willows, I have concocted many childhood memories of sepia summers of yore where I splashed in ponds, skipped through meadows and snoozed beneath trees. It’s a gloriously rambunctious tale for the ages and The Pantaloons are probably the perfect company to capture its genteel anarchy.
Tim Phelps is always thrilled to work with The Pantaloons and, after the year we’ve had, he’s delighted to be back out on the road bringing this exuberant story to life.
It’s one of my favourite books ever and I hope Tim and all the Panaloons are having a wonderful summer with it. Grahame may have written that there is absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats but I bet he’d have thought a Pantaloons summer show would have been something worth doing.
Although sadly this production was hit by Covid lockdowns last year, you’d have to have a Screw Loose to think it would be cancelled altogether!
Director Grace Taylor is taking a break from her duties as Associate Director on Six to direct the students of Chichester University’s Musical Theatre course in the musical Cry Baby.
Cry Baby was one of my favourite films as an angsty (but stagey) teenager. The musical is an adaptation of the cult film that was written and directed by the iconic John Waters . It’s sassy, subversive and sexy and the terrific score by Adam Schlesinger captures that perfectly.
Grace has been looking forward to this for such a long time and I can’t wait to see her work her magic on it. I’d recommend you book but it sold out even before it started rehearsal!
Cry Baby runs from the 29th-31st July at the Assembly Theatre Bognor Regis
KEONI BLOCKX JOINS CAST OF MUSICAL SPECTACULAR 1830
A stunning new musical performance, 1830, will play to audiences in Belgium this August.
Keoni Blockx is thrilled to be back home in Belgium to appear in 1830 which charts the birth of the Kingdom of Belgium and promises a spectacular like no other. The production features three parts – the first two parts will be played across two separate pop-up theatres and the stunning climax against the backdrop of the castle de Merode.
With direction from Luc Stevens and music by Sam Gevers, the brand new music score will be heard through headphones while Florian Boutonnier will bring 1830 to life with a fantastic dance ensemble.
All in the majestic grounds of the castle de Merode, it sounds like Belgian audiences are in for a treat this summer.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a married actor must one day want to perform with his wife. Burton and Taylor did it, Branagh & Thompson, Russell & Hawn – and now, thanks to a bit of inspired casting by The Pantaloons, Jennings & Healey.
Yes, Neil Jennings and his wife, actress Jennifer Healey, will be spending the summer as English literature’s iconic couple: Darcy & Elizabeth.
The Pantaloons are known for their anarchic style and exuberant sense of play, incorporating commedia dell’arte, pantomime and stand-up comedy in their work and, by using a real life married couple as the warring lovers, they’re definitely upping the ante on Austen’s sparkling comedy.
Find out more about The Pantaloons Pride & Prejudice including booking information and where to catch it here.
Now, only one question remains – will Neil be recreating the lake scene?
GRACE TAYLOR directs Confessions of A Rabbi’s Daughter
Among many other things, Grace Taylor is passionate about musical theatre, particularly new musical theatre, particularly female-led new musical theatre. So, when she’s not Queening it up in the West End and on the UK tour as Associate Director on Six, she’s bringing her considerable skill and expertise to other projects.
Confessions of A Rabbi’s Daughter, a new musical written by Emily Rose Simons and produced by and starring Tanya Truman is a female-led new work that practically had Grace’s name written all over it.
Rachel, played by Truman, is a budding Jewish matriarch in a prominent Orthodox London synagogue, weeks away from obtaining the last essential requirement to follow in her departed mother’s footsteps – a husband. Will she manage to keep herself, her community and family together, or find the courage to follow her heart in another direction?
Running at the Mountview Catalyst Festival on the 19th and 25th July with a live AND livestreamed performance on July 19th and an on-demand performance on the 25th. For more details and to book, click here.
KEONI BLOCKX workshopping new musical Sweet, Bloody Mary
Hell hath no fury like a harvest queen, right? Welcome to Sweet, Bloody Mary – a new British musical drenched in magical realism and serving you an exsanguinated cross between Carrie, Promising Young Woman and The Crucible.
In the devout town of Mossy Moor, Christina (and her fierce, feisty and fearless new friend, Mary) is out for revenge – but at what cost?
Keoni Blockx is thrilled to be involved in the workshop of this original new musical from James Baker, Austin Fitzsimmons and Lucy Burke.
PHIL ADÈLE joins the West End company of The Lion King
It genuinely feels like I’ve been waiting to announce this forever. The week that the pandemic closed the theatres in 2020 was the week that Phil Adèle was meant to begin rehearsal for The Lion King and the week that the cast announcement was due to be made.
Now, more than a year later, finally, I get to talk about how proud I am of Phil and how excited I am to see him on the Lyceum stage playing Ed in the 2021/22 company.
I was at the re-opening of the Lyceum Theatre in 1996 after the building had been dark for ten years and I was there for the first night of The Lion King in 1999. I cannot wait to now be there when this stunning theatre reopens in 2021 with this beloved production. It’s been worth the wait.
Phil has been with me throughout my own journey as an agent. During that time he’s grown to be a much loved friend and we’ve been there for each through a lot of life’s ups and downs. I believe it’s all up from here and I can’t wait to be part of the next stage of his journey.
There are some jobs that strike a personal chord. Perhaps it’s a ‘bucket list’ venue, or job, or director, or perhaps it’s when it’s one of those rare full-circle moments. I’ll be sure to ask Oliver Lynes whether this particular job strikes that chord with him as this does, indeed, mark a full-circle moment.
I have no idea what it’s like to return to a theatre you performed in as a child (although if the London Coliseum wants to give me a ring and invite me, I’m open to it!) so I think this job might be very special for Oliver. It marks, not only his return to Shakespeare and to theatre after the pandemic, but also a return to one of the first theatres he ever performed in.
The news that Oliver has joined the cast of The Maltings Theatre, St. Albans for The Comedy of Errors is really special and I can’t wait to see this and ask him what it’s like to come back to where it all began. To be announcing it on Shakespeare’s birthday too – what a joy!
VANEEKA DADHRIA IN UNITE – IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS BLACK AND WHITE
The brilliant Vaneeka Dadhria is so thrilled to be returning to a rehearsal room later this month to work on Unite – It’s Not As Simple As Black And White and I’m really chuffed for her (do people still say chuffed?)
The project launched by New Vic Borderlines, Port Vale FC Foundation Trust, Sporting Communities CIC and Mackman Group, has so far engaged almost 2000 local people with hundreds sharing their lived experiences of prejudice and discrimination in their local communities.
Vaneeka is excited to be working on this because it combines so many of her passions; theatre, creating work, social issues and sport. Thanks to project funding from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants Scheme, Unite – It’s Not As Simple As Black And White will be offering free, live-streamed performances to educational institutions and community groups.
Vaneeka goes into rehearsal next week with Daniel Braimah, Shanice Harris, Jonny Khan and Al Maxwell.
Read more about Unite – It’s Not As Simple As Black And Whitehere.
HEATHER LAI PRODUCES SACRAMENT AT KING’S HEAD THEATRE
Following a run at Dublin’s Theatre Upstairs and London’s Vault festival, Heather Lai is proud to produce the transfer to the King’s Head Theatre of Sacrament as part of the digital on-demand season, Plays On Film.
Starring Fiona Kingwill, Sacrament is a funny and thought provoking monologue that asks whether it’s possible to reconcile a religious upbringing with finding sexual empowerment as a young woman in the 21st century. Set in a small University town in the UK in the early 2010s a young Irish Catholic woman begins to question her sexuality.
It is my pleasure to work with multi-platform creatives who work across a number of fields and Heather is a talented theatre-maker who, alongside her own acting work, is also a hard-working and dedicated director and producer.
RHYS JENNINGS RETURNS TO ROLE OF JACK HOLDEN IN ZOMBIES, RUN!
Seven seasons after his last appearance as Jack Holden, host of Radio Abel in Abel Township, Rhys Jennings has returned to the role in Zombies, Run!
Zombies, Run! is an immersive running app game where players run, collect items to help the town survive, and listen to various audio narrations to uncover mysteries – all while trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Rhys created the role of radio DJ Jack Holden in the first season of Zombies, Run! back in 2012 and has remained a popular fan favourite since. He is thrilled to be returning to play Jack for Jack & Eugene’s World Tour – a self-contained adventure within the Zombies, Run! universe.
Jack & Eugene’s World Tour begins on April 29th. You can find out more here and watch the trailer below. And look out – there’s zombies about!
Isabella Leung has joined Disentangle Projects as a Storyteller for their latest project The Girl Who Fell Through The World.
The Girl Who Fell Through The World is a story about growing up in a world that holds you back. Ola is a clever, confrontational, and bored 10 year old girl. She lives on the 37th floor of a council building in the centre of Croydon with the most amazing view of the city, which she can’t visit. She loves reading stories about young people going on adventures or daydreaming about going on one. One day she finds a book that transports her to other parts of the world. The Girl Who Fell Through The World is a coming-of-age voyage of self-discovery for 6-10 years olds.
Disentangle have created six animated episodes using five storytellers, including Isabella. The episodes will begin live-streaming from 14.30 on Saturday 17th April and Isabella has been in the studio this week recording.
Find out more about The Girl Who Fell Through The Earth and Disentangle Projects at their website.
Before lockdown hit in 2020, Max Hutchinson had been playing the role of The Actor in Woman in Black in the West End. Faced with no prospect of returning to terrify audiences Max decided to launch his own theatre company, Scoot Theatre, bringing an open-air Midsummer Night’s Dream to cricket grounds in London and the environs.
As one of the first companies to start putting on theatre again, Scoot demonstrated that theatre was resilient and viable delighting packed audiences and winning a 4 star review from The Telegraph. They followed up with a celebration of musical theatre and an adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
Now Max is bringing Scoot back with not one, but two Shakespeare productions. A Midsummer Night’s Dream returns by popular demand and this summer they’re adding The Comedy of Errors to the repertoire.
Both shows are under 60 minutes long, family friendly and promise to deliver a wonderful night out whether you’re a Shakespeare aficionado or a first-timer.
For more details and to book, check Scoot’s website here and watch the trailer below.
ASHLEY GOH JOINS WEST END CONCERT PRIDE AT THE PALACE
Kicking off Pride month 2021, and giving everyone a whole lot of joy in the process, Pride At The Palace comes to the West End’s Palace Theatre for one night only on June 7th.
Ashley Goh is proud to appear alongside a plethora of performers from West End productions including Sharif Afifi, Natasha Agnew, Ebony Clarke, Jordan Lee Davies, Jo Eaton-Kent, Fra Fee, Joel Harper-Jackson, Chloe Hart, Christopher Howell, Sarah Ingram, Idriss Kargbo, Claudia Kariuki, Kush Khanna, Carl Man, Serina Mathew, Mason Alexander Park, Robin Simoes da Silva, Courtney Stapleton, Liam Tamne, Miiko Toiviainen, Alex Thomas-Smith, Layton Williams, Faye Wheeler, Shona White, Danny Whitehead and Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke.
The evening is supporting HIV and sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust and will be presented by Luke Kelly. It is produced by West End MD and composer Alex Parker and his production company Quick Fantastic.
I am absolutely delighted to have signed Sean Mayes and Sarah K. Whitfield, the authors of An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre 1900-1950.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had a number of extraordinary conversations with Sean and Sarah about this radical and timely work. Disrupting commonly held ideas that Black performance practice was almost non-existent in British theatres prior to Windrush, An Inconvenient History explores how Black creativity and performance practice played a significant role in musical theatre in the first half of the 20th Century and reinstates the work of Black composers, musicians, performers and choreographers as integral to the development of the form.
Sean Mayes is a New York music director active both in New York City and Toronto, with a background in London and the UK. He is an active member of the Broadway music community as a vocal coach, accompanist, orchestrator-arranger and pit musician. He is a part-time Professor in Musical Theatre at Sheridan College, Canada, and has published on the history of music directing and the role of Black music directors on Broadway.
Sarah K. Whitfield is a Senior Lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Wolverhampton. Her research focuses on exploring the historiography of musical theatre and recovering the work that women and minoritized groups have done through archival research and digital humanities. She has published widely on collaborative practice in musical theatre, film musicals, and in queer fan studies. Her most recent book is the edited collection: Reframing the Musical: Race, Culture and Identity (2019).
“Get outta my surgery!” Meryl Griffiths will be screeching at some point this evening. Well, not quite. Meryl is far too genteel and elegant for that.
Meryl will be turning up in Albert Square this evening as Dr. Chen to deliver some news for one of the regulars. Is it good news or bad news? No spoilers here, you’ll just have to tune in to the BBC this evening at 19.40 to find out!
We have quite a lively and supportive client Facebook group and I love seeing my clients work together and support each other so, having sent client Phil Adèle to audition for client Matthew Rankcom, it was a real delight to hear from both of them how much they enjoyed the audition – getting an offer for Phil to join the company of You Are Here, Matthew’s latest directing project was just the icing on the cake.
I’ve represented Phil for almost as long as I’ve been an agent and I’m privileged to be able to call him a friend too. His talent is indisputable and joining the cast of You Are Here is just the beginning of a very exciting stage in his career – 2021 really is coming up Phil. Phil will be joining Rebecca Lock, Jordan Frazier and Wendi Peters in the company.
It’s looking likely that You Are Here will be my first trip back to a theatre and I feel super lucky that I’m getting to see two clients for the price of one trip! Cannot wait.
Gamers, unite! League of Legends: Wild Rift, the skills-and-strategy game from Riot Games, is a fast-paced game where you can team up with friends, lock in your champion, and go for the big plays. Whether you’re a duo, trio, or full five-stack, you can queue up with your squad and climb the ladder one enemy Nexus at a time.
Promoting the release, Freddie Love got to experience the wild ride that is Wild Rift as they featured in the new Google Play advert. Get in on the action by watching the advert below.
OK, be warned, Dad joke coming up. What did Cinderella say to the assistant at Snappy Snaps? Someday my prints will come. It’s not just a Dad joke, it’s an ancient Dad joke – I mean, who gets prints anymore? I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
After a year of being locked down Elysia Gwyn Day is thrilled to finally be leaving the country (and my jokes) behind and heading for warmer climes at Disney’s park in Hong Kong. The Disney resort there is fully open and welcoming visitors and the Royal Reception Hall princesses are welcoming fans from all over the world. It will certainly make a change from taking an hour’s worth of outdoor exercise every day.
A fantastic triple-threat performer, Elysia is over the moon to have the opportunity to be performing again and is excited to be spending the next six months in Hong Kong waving her wand, sprinkling a little bit of stardust and helping Hong Kong Disney celebrate 15 years of Disney magic.
JESSICA LUCIA ANDRADE APPEARS IN THE BLOODY CHAMBER
I’m a bit of a fan of horror. It’s easily one of my favourite film genres and I do love a good horror story at bedtime to send me off to sleep while I’m still worrying about the monsters under the bed.
Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is actually one of my favourites. It’s creepy, and contemporary, and erotic, blending folklore and feminism with a touch of bloodlust. It gives me the shivers – in a good way.
I’m thrilled then that Jessica Lucia Andrade is returning to Proteus Theatre to bring Carter’s collection of stories to life. Featuring an all-female cast this production features aerial work, circus skills, physical theatre, a gothic design and a haunting soundscape to really bring it to life.
Take a trip to the dark side with Proteus Theatre’s The Bloody Chamber, coming to Worthing Theatre this summer before a UK tour in 2022.
For more details visit Proteus’ website, to book click here, or watch the trailer below.
JACOB DANIELS CAST AS LEAD IN NEW BRISTOL-BASED PILOT
Admittedly I haven’t been back to Bristol since my student days in the early ’90s but I remember it (sort of) fondly as a hotbed of left-wing politics and activism. Good to hear that’s still the case!
The pilot for Square begins filming in May with the intention to have it commissioned into 6 part series. Jacob Daniels plays Bristol student Justin in this contemporary drama which deals with mental health, education, law enforcement and sexuality.
While the Epi bar and the Nelson Mandela Cocktail Lounge are long gone, I am still, technically, an honorary life member of Bristol’s Student Union so I’m really looking forward to seeing how Square plays out. Bet it’s no longer £1 a pint on Mondays though.
Find out more about Square here or watch Jacob’s interview below.
I think most of us have thought about taking a brave leap into the unknown at some point in our lives and wondered what it would be like to walk away from everything we know and love and start over.
Neil Bartram & Brian Hill’s new musical You Are Here imagines just that scenario when suburban Chicago housewife Diana walks out of her home to begin her life again.
It’s July 20th, 1969, the night of the moon landing when Diana makes her giant leap into the unknown. Around this, Bartram & Hill (The Theory of Relativity, Bedknobs & Broomsticks), have crafted an intimate and oftentimes hilarious recounting Diana’s adventures.
Since graduating from GSA in 2019, Matthew Rankcom has himself been taking giant leaps in carving out an exciting career for himself as a multi-platform creative. He is a producer, an actor, a director and, during lockdown, became Artistic Director of The Grey Area Theatre company. Their inaugural production, Before After, which starred Rosalie Craig and Hadley Fraser was a real highlight of 2020 and I can’t wait to see Matthew bring his sensitive, intelligent direction to You Are Here.
Starring the legend and icon that is the wonderful Wendi Peters as Diana, we’re crossing fingers and toes that You Are Here will be one of the first productions to return to live performance when it opens at the Southwark Playhouse in May.
I love working with Matthew, he has incredible energy and vision and drive and it has been so exciting to see how those qualities have kept him creating and kept him positive throughout lockdown.
You Are Here is going to be an absolute treat – so get booking now! Full details here.
ISABELLA LEUNG TO PLAY LEGENDARY PIRATE CHING SHIH
Over the last year Isabella Leung has been to hell and back twice, literally. She was appearing in the immersive spectacular Dante’s In-Furlough at The Vaults where the audience were invited to revel in the fiery flames of hell but lockdown closed that down – not once, but twice!
Undaunted, Isabella picked herself up and decided to set her sails on a different destination. This year she’s hitting the high seas of 19th Century China in A Game Not Lost as Ching Shih 鄭石氏, a Chinese pirate leader who terrorised the China Seas during the Jiaqing Emperor period of the Qing dynasty.
Ching Shih commanded over 1800 junks (traditional Chinese sailing ships) manned by 60,000 to 80,000 pirates – men, women, and occasionally children. Her ships entered into conflict with several major powers, such as the East India Company, the Portuguese Empire, and the Qing government. In her early life she was a Cantonese prostitute who worked in a floating brothel (花船) in Canton.
Isabella is working with director and writer Dorothy Kay and dramaturg Zhui Ning Chang to stream Ching Shih’s incredible story into your home.
Find out more about A Game Not Lost and book tickets here.
Like a lot of seventies kids I used to watch Doctor Who from behind the sofa and hope it wouldn’t give me nightmares. I’ve been an avid fan from Tom Baker right through to Jodie Whittaker so it’s always a thrill for me when any of my clients get to join the Whoniverse.
Rhys Jennings is, of course, no stranger to the Big Finish audio dramas having worked with them a number of times but Max Hutchinson is making his debut. You can hear both of them in the upcoming release The Lone Centurion as Felix and Marinus respectively.
The Lone Centurion follows Arthur Darvill, reprising his role as beloved Rory Williams, as he searches for the Pandorica – which he was meant to be guarding but appears to have misplaced.
Have a listen to the trailer below and then order your copy at Big Finish.
TATS NYAZIKA PLAYS GREGORY IN NEW ROMEO & JULIET FILM
When a client texts you to say they’ve had “one of the best days of their life” you know that they’ve been working on something pretty special.
So obviously I’m beyond excited to see Tats Nyazika as Greg in this new, dynamic film version of Romeo & Juliet which is being released in 2021. It stars Olivier Award winner (Dear Evan Hansen) Sam Tutty as Romeo and Emily Redpath as Juliet, both making their film debuts.
This version of the classic text is directed by Nick Evans, produced by the dynamic new production company Metcalfe Gordon and was shot in Stratford using state-of-the-art VR technology.
2021 is already looking a whole lot brighter. Well, perhaps not for Romeo & Juliet who still end up dead. Ooops, spoilers.
For the chance to be entered into a competition to win a signed script or exclusive signed photo and be one of the first to receive more information sign up at www.romeojuliet2021.com
CALUM GULVIN AND SELCOUTH SHOW NOMINATED FOR COMEDY AWARD AT THE LONDON SHORT SERIES FESTIVAL
This weekend I’m hoping to mainly spend chuckling and cheering.
Calum Gulvin is part of the ribticklingly funny comedy group Selcouth Show, a group of talented ArtsEd grads who create comedy sketches. Already featured on the independent comedy online streaming service Twisted Mirror TV, Selcouth Show have just picked up a nomination from the IMDB listed London Short Series Festival for Best Comedy for their sketch House Viewing.
Part of a worldwide network of festivals, The London Short Series is an opportunity for web series and digital content makers to unite for three days to celebrate online storytelling. The festival provides digital story-makers with a unique opportunity to showcase and partake in original screenings, workshops from leading industry professionals and more, as an international audience of digital movers and shakers unite for this unique occasion.
Selcouth Show have been nominated for Best Comedy for House Viewing which stars Calum and guest stars Sarah Seggari.
The festival is currently up and running here and the awards take place this Saturday from 19.00. Keeping everything crossed!
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm I am the least Christmass-y person imaginable. My birthday is right before Christmas so I know that the Three Wise Men said “This is for your birthday AND for Christmas…” which always made me a bit bitter growing up! I have been known to ban decorations and Christmas tunes until Christmas Eve, yep, I’m THAT Grinch.
This year though, I think we all need a little bit of cheering up. So I’m delighted that Max Hutchinson‘s terrific theatre company Scoot Theatre are one of the many thousands of companies bringing Dickens’ Christmas Carol to life. I’ve read an early draft of the script and can assure you this is the perfect treat for the family this year and will bring a smile to even the most Scrooged of us.
Written and directed by the lovely Max, book early to ensure your spot and allow Scoot to spread a bit of Christmas cheer this December.
I can’t be the only one secretly hoping that when all the pandemic has finally eased enough for us to be allowed back into theatres that online streaming will continue, in some form at least. It would be wonderful to think that productions, particularly new writing, could have a wider reach and that theatre could be made more accessible via the internet.
As nights grow longer and evenings colder, I confess the thought of being able to snuggle on the sofa with a cup of something warm and watch a brand new musical beamed into my home is a pretty enticing one. Even more enticing when the team involved boasts the wonderful Grace Taylor as director.
Somehow, despite being the very busy Associate Director on Six, Grace has managed to continue her commitment to new musical theatre. In recent years she has worked on The Whisper House, The Attic, Fanatical, Wasted, and Harmony Park to name a few. She works closely with Somewhat Awkward as Artistic Director for The Ceiling Project a platform for new musical theatre featuring female or female-led writing teams.
Now, Grace continues her association with Stay Awake, Jake the new musical by Tim Gilvin which will be presented at Southwark Playhouse as a live-stream production on December 18th and 19th.
Stay Awake, Jake is the story of one man’s journey across England’s deserted motorways to be reunited with his girlfriend. It is a musical about love, responsibility, fatherhood, and ultimately what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
Ahmed Hamad reprises the role of Jake for the Southwark livestream, Tamara Saringer returns as Musical Director, and it is produced by Pearson Theatre Productions & Damien Tracey in association with S&S Theatre Productions. The lovely James & Rosie Pearson also cast the production.
For more details on Stay Awake, Jake and how to book click here.
Catch a first look and listen to Ahmed in Stay Awake, Jake, here.
Ashley M. A. Walsh won Best Film Score for his work on The Long Walk Back at Hellifax Horror Fest. He also picked up a nomination in the same category from the Sandgrounder Film Festival. A prolific musical theatre writer, Ashley is also a skilled film composer, and we reckon these are just the first awards in an exciting career.
Totally delighted for Ashley and his work on this super creepy horror short which was directed by Eyre and Ely & Sam Retford and starred Delphi Lacey, Sam Retford, and Rebecca Evans.
Please contact JBR for Ashley’s film composition portfolio.
Yes, it’s that time of year. Pumpkins, potions, plays and…Pantaloons.
Things are a bit different this year, to be sure. Still, we’re not letting it get us down and we’re embracing the challenge, right? With that in mind, there’s a spooky delight in store for you on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st October as long-time Pantaloons member, Tim Phelps, joins the rambunctious company for a trademark hilariously hair-raising interactive show. Part comedy horror anthology, and part video conference call, A Spectre Calls is an experience unlike any other.
So if Zoom, or FaceTime or Skype, or Google Hangouts is your idea of hell then you’ll be in great company with the brilliant Pantaloons. Book now for this interactive horror special and put a smile on your face to rival any pumpkin carving.
Ashley Goh joins the cast of new musical Shift+Alt+Right
Our industry has been forced to innovate more than ever before as a result of the pandemic. Theatre has embraced new ways of reaching audiences and Adam Lenson Productions has been at the forefront of examining how to explore and push the boundaries of how musical theatre can adapt to survive.
No surprise then that this innovative new musical from Hilmi Jaidin is being produced by ALP. Conceived and written entirely for digital presentation, Shift+Alt+Right was written by Jaidin to examine the ways in which extremism has adapted to new technology. It will be performed live by actors in four different locations, using new streaming software advances to create a live cinematic event that is acted and sung live each night.
Adam Lenson and I have been friends for a very long time and it’s inspiring to see how he devotes himself to new musical theatre, to stretching the form and breaking down barriers. I’m thrilled therefore that Ashley has been cast in this groundbreaking new piece and I can’t wait to see how this works and unfolds. Ashley is a very exciting new voice in musical theatre and is overjoyed to be part of this.
For more information on Shift+Alt+Right click here.
Tats Nyazika performs in A Black Story for Applecart Arts’ Dazed New World Festival.
Tats has been so busy during the last six months that you’d be forgiven for thinking that there hasn’t been a global pandemic or lockdown at all!
He continues this busy streak this week as he performs in A Black Story for Applecart Arts.
Written by Sabrina Richmond, A Black Story places relationships in the time of Covid under the microscope, taking three households and three sets of relationships in one unassuming Victorian terrace and addressing how each is reordering life as they once knew it.
A Black Story premiers on October 19th and then repeats on October 21st and 24th, giving you three opportunities to catch it.
For more information on Applecart Arts, the Dazed New World Festival, or A Black Story, click here.
ASHLEY GOH JOINS CAST OF RADIO MUSICAL MAKE ME INFAMOUS!
As we slowly crawl back into getting theatres open and putting shows on in them again it’s exciting to see continued experimentation with the theatrical form. Here comes a brand new, online, radio musical from MP Theatricals.
Ashley Goh joins the company of Make Me Infamous! which features Book, Music and Lyrics by Jude Taylor. Make Me Infamous tells the story of a girl who writes theme tunes for supervillains and what happens when a group of disgruntled aspiring villains team up to steal her work. This two hour radio musical is available for pre-order as a digital download, due to be released early November. The release will include behind the scenes features and a virtual comic book.
Not content with just being in the company, the talented Ashley also lends their skill as an artist, designing the production artwork and featuring in the digital comic book which comes as a download with every purchase.
For more details and to preorder your copy, visit the Make Me Infamous! webpage here.
ISABELLA LEUNG HEADS TO HELL IN IMMERSIVE SHOW DANTE’S IN-FURLOUGH
After a pandemic-induced break, I’m so happy for client Isabella who is finally heading down back to hell to party with the Devil in the Underworld in an immersive party hosted by The Vaults for a limited season from May 18th – 30th.
Dante’s In-Furlough (which needs some kind of award just for having the most fantastic title) is a socially distanced immersive show where patrons are invited to be part of the Devil’s wedding celebration – if you can navigate the nine circles of hell to get there.
Faced with the choice of partying in the Underworld at the society wedding of the year or spending another night on Earth in the current living hell that is the global pandemic, I’m sure Isabella has made the right decision in joining the company of Dante’s In-Furlough and getting down and dirty with Devil.
Why not join her for the night of your life? Book here.
Need a bit more persuading? Watch the trailer below.
NEIL JENNINGS’ JOINS THE ALBERT SQUARE CONSTABULARY
I’m old enough to remember hearing that now-familiar theme tune for the very first time and seeing the Walford constabulary called in to investigate the murder of Reg Cox (Spoiler alert: Nick Cotton did it.)
You’d have to have been a very astute fortune-teller to predict that 35 years later I’d be switching on to watch my client (and brother-in-law) Neil Jennings make his debut appearance as part of the Walford Constabulary.
Tune in tonight to watch Neil on the Square on BBC1 at 20:35. I know one thing; Nick Cotton’s not involved this time.
NEIL JENNINGS’ THEATRE COMPANY MANGLED YARN RECEIVES ACE FUNDING
In what has been, lets face it, a pretty gloomy year for the arts, let’s celebrate a bit of good news, shall we?
Thrilled to announce that Neil Jennings has just received ACE funding for his theatre company, Mangled Yarn, to present their Christmas show.
Every Time A Bell Rings is the story of how Clarence Odbody, Angel Second Class, earned his wings. It may sound like a familiar tale but an angel needs to learn their trade, and that’s a lesser known story.
Using a mixture of live and pre-recorded performances, including interviews and stories, all collected and reworked in Mangled Yarn’s own raucous style.
Alongside a live, socially distanced audience, Every Time a Bell Rings will also be available to Live Stream or Download at a later date, so even if you can’t join us live in person for whatever reason, we can still reach out to you… it turns out it IS a wonderful life.
NEW MUSICAL ‘THE ATTIC’ BOASTS INVOLVEMENT OF TWO CLIENTS
Put the words magical realism, Gothic, feminist, and black comedy together and I’m all in.
An original musical that pays homage to Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf and Gabriel García Márquez, The Attic was expected to play at Goldsmiths in a workshop as part of their new musical course. When Covid put an end to that, rather than postponing, The Attic sought out a new home and was delighted to settle in to The Union Theatre for this presentation.
Including not one but two of my creative clients, Ashley M A Walsh, riding high from the success of The Jury at Upstairs at the Gatehouse as composer, and the perpetually busy Six Associate Director Grace Taylor as Director, The Attic will play an industry presentation at The Union on October 1st boasting a fabulous cast of West End performers.
RISING YOUNG DIRECTOR MATTHEW RANKCOM DIRECTS NEW MUSICAL
When lockdown postponed Matthew Rankcom’s highly-anticipated revival of Side Show it was, understandably, a blow. Undeterred Matthew went ahead and launched his new theatre company Grey Area Theatre with The Zoom Where It Happens, an online showcase of new musical theatre using 2020 drama grads.
Following the success of The Zoom Where It Happens, Grey Area announced they would be partnering with Southwark Playhouse to present an online rehearsed reading of Stuart Matthew Price and Timothy Knapman’s new musical Before After starring West End royalty: real-life husband and wife Hadley Fraser and Rosalie Craig playing a couple who were once very much in love.
[Sidebar, this feels particularly special to me as I was at Mountview at the same time as Stuart Matthew Price and, when he appeared as the Young Soldier in Parade at the Donmar, he was one of the first people I interviewed during my theatre journalist days!]
Before After will be available online to watch in the comfort of your own living room/armchair/bed/wherever. I love new musical theatre and I can’t wait to experience this.
Tats has been a busy lad during lockdown, appearing in a Movember Mental Health campaign on Facebook, being invited to workshop new play, The Moors, by Tonderai Munyevu and appearing in a piece of online theatre, Southwold, for The Space as part of 2.0 Fest.
Now he’s popping up in the UK Government’s campaign for the NHS advising us all to be aware of our Hands, Face & Space in order to stem the spread of Covid-19 and not overwhelm the NHS
It’s an important campaign with a great message and Tats is thrilled to be part of it.
Another graduate from St. Mary’s, Twickenham (I like it there!), I first met Renée in late 2017 and was initially impressed by her wit and fierce intelligence. She completely blew me away at her graduating showcase in 2018 and I was thrilled that she chose me to represent her.
Matching the client to the job is really important to me and after graduation Renée showed an increasing interest in working with young people. She, like me, feels that representation and putting back is important so the Young Shakespeare Company seemed like a natural fit. She thought they were “the loveliest people in the world” when she first auditioned for them. Lucky for us, the YSC thought the same about her and cast her as Juliet in their current tour of Romeo & Juliet.
Touring schools in the UK at the moment, she’s super excited to be taking Romeo & Juliet out to Gibraltar later in the year.
What can I say about the charming, dashing, and debonair Max Hutchinson? We’ve been working together on and off for a few years now; we booked his role in Downton Abbey together and then, when his agent unexpectedly left the industry, I was privileged enough to be his first call.
In the short space of time since Max joined me at JBR Creative Management we’ve seen the release of Downton Abbey, he’s booked a commercial for Tommee Tippee, landed the role of The Actor in Woman In Black in the West End (a dream job and real bucket list moment for him), and next month has another feature film coming out, Dream Horse, in which he plays James Lingford opposite Toni Collette.
With him settled in to Woman in Black for the next year it would be easy for him to sit back and enjoy a bit of a break. Not Max. A true all-round creative, he’s already working on several very exciting projects and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.
Advice. If you’re thinking about representing your husband, maybe think again. Agenting is an all-consuming job at the best of times without pillow-talk involving a discussion on which headshot best captures your loved one.
All that said, I can’t imagine anyone being more proud of Rhys Jennings than I am. Watching him grow and develop over the last twelve years has been an incredibly joyful experience. I never imagined that in addition to building a great CV as an actor, including a number of West End jobs, he would also become an award-winning musical theatre writer.
My pride in representing him as both an actor and writer is immeasurable and I cannot wait for the world to see his extraordinary work, The Wicker Husband, when it opens at The Watermill Theatre in March.
I often think that just having the right attitude in this industry is half the battle and Calum certainly has that. I mean, truth be told, endless positivity can be a bit wearing sometimes but Calum is just one of those young actors who brims with good cheer and an optimistic outlook.
Little wonder then that he’s having the time of his life touring in Friendsical, a loving parody of the Friends TV series. If any series taught us about the value of keeping positive and surrounding yourself with upbeat people, it’s Friends, right?
“Where do you find talent like Vaneeka?” I get asked a lot. “Twickenham,” is my answer. A graduate of St. Mary’s Drama, Vaneeka and I hit it off the second we met. She is one of the funniest, most alive, and exciting young graduates I’ve met and from Day One she’s kept me in stitches.
As part of the Ensemble in Jamie Lloyd’s Cyrano de Bergerac in the West End, Vaneeka has been attracting attention for her “magnificent beatboxing – gulping, pulsing, hissing, ticking” – The Guardian.
As first jobs go this has to be up there as one of the coolest imaginable. I’m biased obviously, but I’d say keep your eye on her. A fashion designer, spoken word artist, beatboxer, grime artist and brilliant actress, Vaneeka is the very definition of a multi-platform artist and there are some very exciting projects on the horizon for her.
I feel like I’ve had a lot of coffees with Verity. A lot of long, chatty, let’s put the world to rights, coffees. All squeezed in between her incredibly busy schedule.
She’s busy all the time but is thrilled to be joining the creative team as set and costume designer for the relaunched Chiswick Playhouse and their production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Straight off the UK tour of Rock of Ages, Josh Dever continues rocking out, this time, I’m really excited as Springsteen is a bit of a legend to both of us.
The brand-new Turbine Theatre’s first musical is High Fidelity. The original novel by Nick Hornby spawned a hit movie and this stage musical but this new version relocates the script back to London making it a perfect choice for the sparkly new Turbine.
I trained at Mountview with Matthew Gent – which is a really, really long time to be in awe of this wonderful performer.
The last time I saw him on stage was in Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi. He’s been cruising for a while, but I’m thrilled to have him back on home turf in Queen of the Mist which has transferred into town from the Brockley Jack.
Jessica Sherman is currently garnering rave reviews at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, where she is starring as Heidi Hansen in the Canadian premiere of Dear Evan Hansen, the first production of the iconic show to be staged following the award-winning Broadway debut.
“Jessica Sherman sensitively taps into her maternal softness but plays equal attention to her rage”
“It was Jessica Sherman as Heidi, Evan’s struggling single mom, who truly broke my heart with her Act 2 number “So Big/So Small”.