One of the classic parts of London’s culture is the theatre scene – Musicals, Plays, Cabaret, Concerts; London has no shortage – and, as a performer, I tend to go and see more than most. Last week however, I had a very theatre-filled week, even by my standards!
Sunday night I was performing as a special guest of my very good friend, Simon Beck, in his concert “The Courage of a Dreamer”, which was a kind of pre-launch of his album which comes out next month. (If sunday night is anything to go by, it’s going to be amazing – can’t wait to hear it!)
One of the blessings of being a special guest was that I got to watch the whole concert (obviously apart from the part where I was on stage) and it really was fab! I met Simon in 2012 when we worked together on “Tommy” the musical. Him, at the time, with his Musical Director hat on….I had no idea he was a performer too! It is only in recent years I’ve got to know him without his MD hat on, and got to see what a wonderful performer he is. It was a really great concert, Our duet went really well and I even got to wear my pretty new shoes – what more does a girl need?!
So, carrying on with my busy week, on Monday night I went to see my gorgeous friend Carolyn Maitland playing Ellen in Miss Saigon in the West End – she has only recently taken over the part and she was fantastic!
My timing couldn’t have been better too as the actor playing John was off, and the understudy, Aaron Lee Lambert, was playing the part. Aaron trained at the same drama school as me (which is quite rare with such a small, select group – only about 14 people in a year group!) so it was really nice to see him up there smashing it too!
I know the show really well, but had never actually seen it – I was not disappointed! It was so powerful, incredibly moving and heart-breaking. I’m not ashamed to admit I had to have a bit of a mascara-down-the-face tidy up before I met Carolyn at stage door for a cuddle! We also discovered as we left that we were staying within ten minutes of each other so we ended up getting the tube home together which was lovely (made even more amusing by the fact that we went a few stops the wrong way due to excessive chatting so got even more gossip time!)
I highly recommend the show – it is absolutely stunning and every singly performer on that stage gives it their all – It was fantastic!
So Tuesday night came around and, as 7.00 approached, I found myself at the Duchess Theatre in the West End where the Olivier Award winning show, The Play That Goes Wrong, is playing.
The company behind “The Play That Goes Wrong”, Mischief Theatre, originated as a comedy improvisation group who all met at drama school.
I met them in the summer of 2009, up at the Edinburgh Fringe where they were performing their Improvised Movie, “Lights, Camera, Improvise!”, and I was performing in The Improvised Musical (complete madness – making up an entire musical, songs and all, on the spot based on audience suggestions!)
We spent a month seeing each other’s mad made-up shows, drinking cider in the sunshine and staying out until the sun started coming up. Since then, we’ve been at 3 more Edinburgh fringe’s together (they have been up every year since, but I have had a few years where I haven’t, sadly!), we’ve managed to keep in touch with what everyone is up to and I’ve watched their shows grow from tiny spaces not much bigger than a large wardrobe to massive UK tours and now their West End sensation!
As is the case with all West End shows, there is an annual cast change, and as such, these wonderful faces are making space for new cast members to come in and take over their incredible show in just a couple of weeks. I wanted to see the show before anyone left and tuesday night was my opportunity!
The show is HILARIOUS! I saw it 2 years ago above a pub in islington (and, coincidentally, reviewed it!) and I cannot believe how much it has grown – I was laughing from the pre-show (if you go and see it, get there about 7.15 for some pre-show giggles!) right the way through to curtain down at the end of the show. The Play That Goes Wrong has been called “The next ‘Noises Off'” and “The Mousetrap taken over by Monty Python” and it does not disappoint! Even now, I am sitting here with an ache in my stomach that is normally felt 2 days after good workout – but from laughter!
I am so very proud of what Mischief Theatre have achieved since I met them and can’t wait to see what is in store for them in the future! From cupboard spaces in Edinburgh to Olivier Award Winning in the West End – what’s next?! 🙂
So, Wednesday came around, my last night in London before my trip to the states (more info about that in a few days!), and I knew I needed to see “Tommy” the musical, before it closed. It is only on for a short run at the Greenwich Theatre, but with 5* reviews coming out of it’s ears, I needed to see it.
I also know a few people involved in the production, including James Sinclair (@James_Sinclair1), who is playing Captain Walker, and Michael Strassen (@strassen), who has directed the production – both of whom I worked with on “Duncton Wood” earlier this year. (see my post about opening night and the show itself here.)
I loved the production – Having done the show back in 2012 I know it inside-out and was expecting to be sat there being hyper-critical but I really really loved it. Michael Strassen has out-done himself yet again! The cast were fantastic, the movement incredible and the band were something else – wow!
It only has a very short run so if you want to see it, get in quick – I reckon they have a sell-out on their hands!
I’ve had a really wonderful few days of theatre, I’m a very proud friend and feel very smug that this is a part of my life – it’s such a hard industry to be in, but the pay off in getting up there, or seeing friends doing so well makes up for it all.
Now, I’ve got a couple of days of hard work and admin before heading off to the states (more info in a post early next week!)
For more information about Simon Beck and his upcoming album, please have a look at his Twitter – album order information will be available soon!
Miss Saigon is on at the Prince Edward Theatre, London. You can find out more on Twitter, Instagram and the Website.
The Play That Goes Wrong is on at the Duchess Theatre, London. You can find out more on Twitter, Instagram and the Website.
For more about Mischief Theatre, including dates of their upcoming “Lights, Camera, Improvise!” shows in the West End, check out their Twitter and their Website.
Tommy is playing at the Greenwich Theatre, London. Find out more on Twitter and the Greenwich Theatre Website