Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Alfie Boe, Matt Lucas and Hadley Fraser Announced For Les Miserables.

Exciting news!
Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas' Les Miserables dates have finally been confirmed at a press conference today.

Alfie will be appearing as Jean Valjean from June 23rd until November 26th. He wont be doing Mondays or Wednesday matinée. More can be found about that on his site HERE including holiday.

Matt Lucas will be joining as Thénardier from June 23rd until September 10th. I haven't got any information on what days he'll be off or if he has any holiday booked I'm afraid.

Now, none of this was news as such just a conformation of what everyone knew. The news of the new Javert however just made me scream with happiness at my computer.

Hadley Fraser last see in Les Miserables at the O2 as Grantaire and also perviously in the Queens production as Marius will be returning once more. This time as inspector Javert! Again he will be appearing from June 23rd.

HERE is an article from today on Whatsonstage.

I may do an extra post about todays events later but my brain is too fried with excitement right now.

Signed, JML.

Cameron Mackintosh's Big Announcement.

I've decided to head down to Shaftesbury Avenue this morning where Cameron Mackintosh will be announcing what dates Alfie Boe is due to be seen in Les Miserables.

He will be joined by Alfie for the big announcement outside The Queen's Theatre.

I'm mainly curious just to see how many people will be there since it's at 9am on a Wednesday. The first I heard of it was at 2am on Twitter and I've only seen anything else on the subject on Alfie's website HERE which was posted at 8pm last night.

Never the less it is very exciting to finally have it confirmed. I'm looking forward to seeing Alfie and I've never been to something like this so I'm interested to see how it will be staged.

Maybe we'll even get a song out of Alfie Boe. I wont hold my breath though.

I'll post back here later in the day to say how it all went so be sure to come back.

Signed, JML.

And just a little Alfie for you and to get me more excited. I love this video!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Samantha Barks leaving the Queen's.

Just a quick up date on Les Miserables 2011/2012 cast.

Samantha Barks WILL be leaving Les Miserables on June 18th.

As soon as I have any news on what she will be doing next I'll post it here. In the mean time if anybody would like to contribute to a scrapbook for Sam information can be found on that HERE.
(This was not set up be me).

Also it looks like my hopes of Scott Garnham (Feuilly) becoming principal Marius may have been in vain. It seems as though he will also be departing on June 18th but I'll try find out for certain as soon as possible.

Signed, JML.

Direct From The West End Windsor.

Last Sunday I attended Direct From The West End a production put on at the Theatre Royal Windsor by Musical Ovation LTD created by current Les Miserables cast members Scott Garnham and Martin Neely.

The company consisted of Les Miserables cast members, past and present, with the exception of Jessie May who can currently be seen in Mamma Mia!

In their own words Musical Ovation LTD was formed "to supply elite, creative and original entertainment for the professional theatre industry and corporate market".

Now first of all I have to admit that I'm out of my element with this kind of concert. I'm use to back rooms in pubs with sticky floors and cramped venues full of teenage girls with too much eye make-up and boys with personal hygiene issues.

Everybody here is very quiet and since it is in a theatre we are seated. However, it is a full house by the look of things and everybody seems excited in their own way.

We had our pre-show entertainment watching a man in the front row 'make out' with his ice cream lid and another in the row behind us try to no avail to try explain to his girlfriend how a show called Direct From The West End will in fact have performers from the West End singing songs from shows from the West End. She still seemed confused by the time the lights began to dim.

It is deafly silent when the show opens with 'A New World' from 'Songs For A New World'. I'm already hooked and impressed at this point since this is one of my favourite songs.
Killian and Scott during rehearsals.

It was a flawless rendition of the song performed by the full company which consists of; Gina Beck (Phantom of the Opera), Rachel Bingham (Les Miserables), Killian Donnelly (Les Miserables), Scott Garnham (Les Miserables), Jessie May (Mamma Mia!) and Jeff Nicholson (Les Miserables).

The first act was made up of hits from Phantom Of The Opera, Love Never Dies, Oliver, We Will Rock You, Guys And Dolls and Les Miserables.

The show also consisted of two special guests Samantha Barks (Les Miserables) who sung 'The Wizard And I' from Wicked in the first act and Antony Hansen (Wicked) who was due to sing 'Don't Stop Me Now' from We Will Rock You, which I was looking forward to, but ended up, for unknown reasons, singing the less impressive 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' from Jersey Boys.

Highlights from act one for me would have to be Jeff and Gina's 'Music Of The Night', 'The Wizard And I' from Samantha Barks, Scott, Jeff and Killian's two numbers from Guys And Dolls and the last ten minutes dedicated to Les Miserables.

After a short intermission act two began, opening with 'I Go To Rio'. The energy is a lot higher in the second act and the audience seem to start to let go a little bit now and more willing to openly enjoy themselves. This act pasted quicker then the first and left me wishing there was more.

Highlights for me in the second act were; Killian's charismatic and high energy cover of 'Superstar'.  Jeff's incredible rendition of 'Anthem' from Chess. Scott singing 'Maria', which I found very moving. 'Close Every Door' from Antony Hansen, making me wish I had seen him in Joseph. Another one from Jeff with 'Song Of The King', showing a very funny side. Lastly 'Memory' beautifully sung by Gina Beck.

Samantha Barks.
I really can't speak higher of Sam to the point where she could never not be perfect for me, so of course she was nothing less then that tonight. All three of her solo songs; 'The Wizard And I', 'On My Own' and 'Maybe This Time' were captivating and she was a joy to watch. I think the thing which I like and admire most about her, apart from her voice, is her incredible ability to convey such emotion and intent with a single look no matter how subtle that may be. She is a natural and gifted performer with a very long and exciting career ahead of her.

Antony Hansen.
Now I have to admit to not being too familiar with Antony. I can't really remember him on Any Dream Will Do (It was along time ago) and I haven't seen him in any shows. I wasn't too keen on any of his song choices apart from 'Close Every Door' which was a highlight for me and he sung it beautifully. He is a handsome lad and his presence draws you in. He's somebody I'll be keeping an eye out for in the future.

Scott Garnham.

Okay, where to start with Scott? Charming, funny, talented and he has such a presence on stage. I've only seen him as Feuilly in Les Miserables before so haven't really had a chance to see him in his full glory. He was my biggest welcome surprise of the evening. A true show man and amazing voice. Scott sung 'Till I hear You Sing', 'Luck Be A Lady Tonight' supported by Killian and Jeff and my personal favourite being 'Maria' from West Side Story which was perfection. I'm looking forward to what he'll be doing next. Hopefully become principle Marius in Les Miserables in June. That may just be wishful thinking though I'm afraid.

Rachel Bingham.
Like Antony I also didn't really like Rachel's song choices either, mainly because they're from shows I don't particularly like. She sung 'As Long As He Needs Me' from Oliver and 'The Winner Takes It All' from Mamma Mia! Despite this reason she almost got me liking them because it was her performing them. I have seen her in the Les Miserables ensemble a few times but like Scott I haven't been able to see her full potential until now. I think she is the full package and I hope there will be a lead somewhere in the near future for her because I definitely want to see more.

Jessie May.

Jessie is someone I wasn't familiar with in the slightest before now and wasn't likely to see with her being in Mamma Mia! (Sorry, I just really don't like the show). I'm really glad she was a part of the concert, she brought a fantastic energy to the show with her bubbly and bright attitude. Her personality really shone through during 'Somebody To Love' and she sung two duets with Killian Donnelly beautifully, 'All I Ask Of You' and 'Take Me As I Am'. Her range is fantactic and I can't wait to see her in her next show.

Killian Donnelly.
Now, to be honest Killian was one of the main reasons for me wanting to attend this in the first place. I have become quite a fan of his after seeing him in Les Miserables and wanted to see him singing something a bit different.
Killian is funny, charming and lets face facts he's VERY nice to look at. He has a great confidence and presence on stage which during group numbers drew me to look at him. He sung 'Bring Him Home' as if he was born to. I really hope within the next ten years he will make a return to Les Miserables as Valjean. 'Superstar' proved him to be just that and I would love to see him in something more 'upbeat' next or possibly as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. His 'All I Ask Of You' was performed with such passion and devotion. He has a very bright and long career ahead of him.

Jeff Nicholson.
Jeff was mesmerizing every second he was on stage which I always find is the case when it comes to him. The thing which was plain to see is that Jeff should be the next Phantom. He embodies the role perfectly when he sung 'Phantom Of The Opera' and 'Music Of The Night'. He also performed another one of my favourite songs 'Anthem' and it is possibly the best performances of that song that I have heard. 'Song Of The King' was full of charm and charisma and the most fun of the evening. Jeff is one of my favourite actors/singers in the West End and I can't wait to see what the future holds for him.

Gina Beck.
The stage is definitely the right place for Gina. She seems at complete ease and was very confident in her performance. I was completely taken in when she sung 'Memory'. I would have liked to have heard another solo from Gina and also maybe seen her step out of her comfort zone and sung something less somber. I haven't been fortunate to see Gina in the West End yet but I will make sure that has changed by the end of the year. She has a beautiful and natural voice which I hope to hear a lot more in the future.

The evening was really a showcase for who the next bright stars of the West End will be and all bets placed on the eight artists above will definitely give you a generous return. All in all I think it was a huge success and I hope there are plans for some more concerts like this from Scott Garnham and Martin Neely in the near future.

Full Set List:

Act One.

A New World.
Phantom Of The Opera.
Music Of The Night.
All I Ask Of You.
Till I Hear You Sing.
The Wizard And I.
As Long As He Needs Me.
Can't Take My Eyes Off You.
Somebody To Love.
Fugue For Tinhorns.
Luck Be A Lady.
Own My Own.
Bring Him Home.
One Day More.

Act Two.

I Go To Rio.
Welcome To The Sixties.
Quintet (Tonight).
Maybe This Time.
The Winner Takes It All.
Prologue (Joseph).
Close Every Door.
Song Of The King.
Take Me As I Am.
This Is The Moment.
Never Forget.

Signed, JML.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Official Love Never Dies Cast Announcement.

Finally the new cast line up for Love Never Dies has been announced today. All of what I said in my previous post on this subject turns out to be correct.

Ramin Karimloo will continue as The Phantom for six more months doing six shows a week.
David Thaxton as Raoul.
Celia Graham is now principal Christine.
 Liz Robertson will stay on as Madame Giry and Haley Flaherty will take over the role of Meg Giry.

More information can be found on the official site HERE.

Ramin Karimloo announced his continuation first on Twitter calling it the "worst kept secret".

"Ah, Finally, it's official ... worst kept secret probably. I am staying now for six more months, reduced performances. Needed to ...."

"Sort out my schedule with my other project. It's a record deal but can't say more for now. This was all last minute. Very excited."
"So six shows a week until September 3. However, along with all this, @Sheytoons will continue to write and play as much as we can."

"It's all subject to change but I think, what nights I won't be doing will be Mon's and Thurs' but as always, things always change."

Tom Mutu will be cover for The Phantom when Ramin is off.

So it's nothing new or exciting. Just what was all ready guessed at.

The exciting news however comes from Ramin's record deal and more from Sheytoons, his band with Hadley Fraser. That's what I had been personally hoping for before news of Ramin staying on in LND leaked.
As a little extra here is Ramin singing 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' by Green Day at last nights Whatsonstage awards where he picked up the award for best lead actor in a musical. Congratulations!

Signed, JML.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Les Miserables 2011/2012 Cast.

I know it is still months away until the Les Miserables cast change, 123 days to be exact, but being a bit of a fanatic it's something I constantly concern myself with.

There is no official news apart from the occasional cast member announcing their June departure on Twitter and a lot of rumors. Well not so much rumors but impatience over long awaited contracts to be signed.

Killian Donnelly (Enjolras) and Jeff Nicholson (Factory Foreman/Brujon/1st u/s Javert) will be leaving on June 18th much to the disappointment of this writer. This may leave the way open for Martin Neely (Grantaire) to take over Enjolras if he stays but there is no news from him yet.

It is also more then likely Samantha Barks (Eponine) and Lucie Jones (Cosette) will also be leaving. I'm personally hoping for Katie Hall to return as Cosette but I'm not sure how likely that will be. A bit of a long shot I imagine.

Norm Lewis (Javert) is leaving after already extending his original contract by six months. So is Gareth Gates who took over the role of Marius after his successful run on the 25th anniversary tour last year. He recently took over from Allistair Brammer who left on January 31st. There are recent rumors of X-Factor contestant (and did he win it??) Joe McElderry taking over the role. I don't believe there is any truth to this or at least I pray to God that there isn't!

Mark Stuart Hedges (Swing) is departing most likely so will Rebecca Seale (Fantine).

Simon Bowman (Jean Valjean) and both Martin Ball (Thénardier) and Lorraine Bruce (Madame Thénardier) are all leaving June 18th too.

The majority of the casting information is just who is leaving I could guess who I think will be staying on but that would only be speculation.

Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas.
The biggest casting news is that of opera superstar Alfie Boe will be doing a six month run as Jean Valjean after his performance at the 25th anniversary celebrations at the O2 this past October. I couldn't be happier by this news being a huge fan of Alfie. Despite this having been news for quite a while now his contract still hasn't been signed. He will more then likely be in the show from June 23rd till December 3rd. He'll be doing six shows a week and I have it on good authority that he should be having Monday and Wednesday matinée off.

First understudy for Jean Valjean looks to continue as Jonathan Williams. I also hope that the recent rumors are true and after Alfie leaves in December Jonathan will become principal Jean Valjean until June 2012. Fingers crossed on that one. Jonathan was incredible in the role when I saw him at the end of last year.

The future Jean Valjean and Thenardier.
More big new is that Matt Lucas is also joining the cast as Thénardier, along side best buddy Alfie, also for a six month run. The fine details on this one are still to be finalized but it's all but confirmed.

I think Matt's casting is a bit of a good news/bad news situation.
Good news: He is a fantastic and captivating performer. He was amazing in the role at the O2.
Bad news: It's going to make getting tickets that much more harder!

Alfie and Matt at the O2 celebrations. 
That's about all the casting news I have at the moment but I will be making a lot of updates on this as soon as I have them so keep an eye out.

Hopefully soon we'll have more news on who is staying and joining the cast rather then the more depressing news of who is leaving.

Signed, JML.

Love Never Dies Cast Change 2011.

So it's only two weeks until the 2011/2012 cast of Love Never Dies are due to start performances at The Adelphi theatre.
The cast have started rehearsals just this past Monday yet there is still no official news.
Why? Is it some great secret? Hardly!

Blogs, fanpages and twitter have been rife with news on the alleged new cast, or newish cast.
Ramin Karimloo.

Ramin Karimloo is rumored to be staying on in the role of The Phantom. Phantastic news! (Sorry the pun can't be helped! It's a reflex). It also comes as a slight annoyance to many whom flooded into the box office to purchase tickets for his last show, originally March 5th, and the final week. I was one of these people but I thoroughly enjoyed the show and had been wanting to see it a second time anyway.

I was personally more annoyed that I would be having to dive deep into my already empty pockets to find the money to go a third time to see the replacement for Joseph Millson's Raoul. The part of Raoul is set to be taken over by the heartthrob of the West End David Thaxton! His casting news has been available on his Spotlight page, viewable here, for at least a week now.

David Thaxton.

David was most recently seen in the Donmar's production of Stephen Sondheim's Passion, for which he has been nominated for an Olivier award along with his new co-star Ramin for best actor in a musical. David's casting will no doubt impact the box office, not that the show really needed it, the premise sold itself already having an established story and characters. I however believe his presence will bring in a new audience and repeat visits due to his large fan base.

Liz Robertson will also be staying on as Madame Giry and Haley Flaherty will be stepping into the captivating Summer Strallen's shoes as Meg Giry.

Most underwellming is the news of first understudy, Celia Graham,  taking over the role of Christine Daaé. After Sierra Boggess she'll have a lot to live up to. However, I'll reserve judgement until I can see her in the role myself.

With Ramin staying on and Celia becoming a principal people have been commenting on how the show was unable to obtain any 'named' actors to take over the leads. This is possible. I would assume due to availability rather then nobody wanting to take to role as some have been saying.

Despite reviews and split audience opinion Love Never Dies has been highly successful in it's first year and I imagine it will be for years to come. As long as there is The Phantom Of The Opera there will be Love Never Dies following straight behind.
Celia Graham.

Hopefully there will be an official announcement soon as it is all becoming quite a mess just like the shows early beginnings. I hope this wont become a patten. However, in the mean time I'll be looking forward to hearing the two powerhouses which are Ramin and David go head to head with 'Devil Take The Hindmost' in the near future.

Signed, JML.