Recommended Theatre for July 2017

Recommended Theatre for July 2017

This is going to be a short one, because I haven’t had time to schedule it in advance (did I mention I’ve started a new job? Once or twice? Okay…) and I’m writing it on the morning it goes up, which is also the day of my university graduation: my family arrive in an hour, and my room still needs hoovering (vacuuming for North American readers). Apologies for the brevity, but I hope you manage to make it to these shows, because they’re great, and you shouldn’t miss them!

Working at Southwark Playhouse, London. More on this next week, because I saw it just under two weeks ago, and I want to tell you about it in detail, but it’s a fantastic chamber musical, on until the 8th July. Go go go. It’s being marketed on the basis that it was written by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and embellished by Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), which is reflected in the show: it is incredibly well written. You can book tickets here.

Jungle Book UK Tour. I kind of have to recommend this, because I’m spending a lot of my time working on it at the moment, but I would recommend it anyway. This adaptation of Kipling’s text is set in the urban jungle and is a circus musical, suitable for the whole family! (We’re suggesting 8+ as a guideline, because it can be quite loud, and Shere Khan could be scary for younger viewers, but we will welcome younger audiences if their parents think they will enjoy it!) You can catch it in Doncaster 12-15th July (book here), Birmingham 19-22nd July (book here) or Bristol 26-28th July (book here) in July (I’ll tell you about future tour dates in future posts, but you can also find the full list of tour dates here).

Rotterdam, Arts Theatre, London. I haven’t seen this yet, but I went to a breakfast discussion on Tuesday at the arts theatre about questions of gender and theatre, and I’m going to go see this play as a result of hearing what the people who made it have to say about it. You should too. It’s won an Olivier, it had a really successful run in NYC, and it’s an important play to be happening right now. It’s only on until the 15th. Go see it. Book here.

That’s all for this week I’m afraid – I need to go clean my room and then go graduate! I’ll be back next week with my thoughts about the theatre I’ve seen this month (which has been amazing!), so stay tuned for that, and I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for July (preferably within reach of London) in the comments!

Emily xxx

P.S. There is a lot of discussion of theatre etiquette going on in the comments of last week’s post – I’d love it if you added your thoughts to the mix.

Photo credit – Richard Davenport c. 2016, Jungle Book


Eating at the theatre – obnoxious or pretentious?

There have been recent discussions about the role of theatre etiquette in modern society, from people, including Imelda Staunton, saying that it should simply be unacceptable to – for example eat – in theatres to others trying to break down all rules of behaviour related to ‘traditional’ theatre-going, in an attempt to make theatre more broadly accessible. I mentioned the discussion on this blog a few months ago, and decided that it was worth a whole post, because it’s an interesting topic, which seems to polarise opinion.

*Author’s note* I should clarify here that I am talking about legal behaviour which is arguably not the “best” theatre etiquette, rather than illegal behaviour, such as filming actors/productions or photographing copyright sets. The questions about whether bootlegged theatre makes it accessible exist, but the ways to make theatre accessible should be legal, and bootlegging is not. This is a discussion of etiquette not law. *End note*

Discussions about how to behave at the (mainstream) theatre have existed since we’ve had theatres, and the rules have changed again and again: in the Early Modern period everyone spoke throughout performances in the playhouses, and it was common to heckle performers who were felt to be performing less well. By the nineteenth century, theatre and opera were events attended in white tie and ballgowns (though paying attention to what was going on onstage was optional)… I’d say we’re now in a middle ground: we have more respect for working performers and other audience members than the Elizabethans, and less “decorum” than the Victorians (unless you’re going to the opera, where a few venues still have dress code rules). And, as always with something like a middle ground, or a compromise, no one is happy, and everyone would like the norm to be pulled in one direction or the other.

Topics which I’ve heard people fight endlessly about include (and are not limited to):

  • Is it acceptable to eat at the theatre, as you might at home or the cinema? (The conversation which started me thinking about this post.)
  • Is it acceptable to simply wear casual clothes to the theatre, and not dress up even a little bit?
  • Is it acceptable to talk at the theatre?
  • Is it acceptable to use your phone (ie. read a text message, not take pictures/film of the performance, which – we’ve agreed – is illegal) at the theatre?
  • Is it acceptable to bring a small child to the theatre? What if that child makes noise?
  • Is it acceptable for disabled people to attend the theatre, if they are going to make noise/move out of their seat during the performance? Should this only happen at relaxed performances?

The general premise behind anyone asking these questions, and usually they’re someone watching someone else do one of these things and being irritated by it, is to what extent, when in a shared, public experience, like the theatre, you should be conscious of other people’s experience, and adapt your own behaviour for the so-called “common good”. The flip side is – how much is another’s comfort in traditions (by contrast with genuine problems) worth preventing people who might not have attended very much theatre, and had these rules drilled into them by well-meaning middle class families, from attending the theatre by criticising them for wearing the wrong clothes/behaving in the “wrong” way?

I think, in the case of most of these questions, the answer is “yes, of course it’s acceptable” (or “it should be acceptable, so do it until it becomes acceptable”), though perhaps some even more for some than others. If anyone is offended by your choice of clothing to the theatre, I give you full permission to ignore that opinion: the theatre is not an elite environment in which everyone must be dressed according to your neighbour’s idea of ‘propriety’. Wear whatever makes you comfortable, whether that’s white tie/a ballgown or jeans and trainers.

In terms of bringing children, I think it needs to be encouraged: theatre is a wonderful opportunity to share with other people and enjoy spectacle and thought, and the younger people are when they begin to enjoy it, the more likely they are to continue to throughout their lives (like reading). And – guess what – children are noisy and indecorous. That’s life, and theatre is about liveness. Bring the little children.

I hesitated about even including the question about disability, because I think the answer is so patently obvious that it is insulting to include it, but it is a question raised regularly, and I wanted to stand up and say that if someone thinks that disabled people shouldn’t attend the theatre, they should keep that thought to themselves, and get over it. If they think disabled people should only attend relaxed performances, which is basically the same thing – “please don’t make noise in my space ” – just attempted to be hidden, again, please, keep that thought to yourself until you’ve gotten over it. I’m sure your parents told you “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it”, and “disabled people shouldn’t come to the theatre because they disrupt my enjoyment” is a supremely not-nice, awful thing to say.

Note: This is not to say that there isn’t huge value in relaxed performances, which allow people to, for instance hear fewer very loud noises, or see a performance with tempered flashing lights, if those are things which will facilitate their enjoyment. But anyone who suggests that relaxed performances are the only ones which should be attended by disabled people because of “disruption” needs to take a long hard look at themselves and think again.

To come back to the question about eating, and with it talking and texting, I think the issue here is making unnecessary noise/light, which can distract those around you (to those returning to children/disability and trying to claim that this is also distracting noise: maybe, but human beings are allowed to exist in the same space as you, so I’d call it necessary noise.) For me, the line is eating is fine (I won’t often do it, because snack food in theatres is horribly expensive) but maybe try for something other than sweets with crinkly wrappers; talking is okay, provided its a short whisper to your neighbour about what your watching, rather than a full-length, full volume conversation about what to buy for dinner afterwards; and phones aren’t okay – you’re glowing, and no one can look at the stage, because they’re looking at you instead.

Those are my thoughts, and for me, I’d say the first few (clothes and people making noise) are ones I wouldn’t consider negotiable in different circumstances (though I’m interested to hear what you think), while the last three I think are more dependent on circumstances (e.g. I’d have less of an issue with someone using a phone in a light, outdoor performance than a dark indoor theatre). What do you think? What is/isn’t acceptable theatre behaviour? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it.

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading!

Emily xxx

My West End Wishlist

My West End Wishlist

I first saw this post title on someone else’s blog, and thought it was really catchy! (Unfortunately, I can’t find the post now; if this is your title, please post in the comments and I will credit you!) They wrote about what productions they wanted to see in the West End, which was really interesting, and got me thinking more generally: what do I want out of specifically a West End show? What am I wishing for if I go see a play or musical in a large, commercial theatre in the West End of London, usually for a not-insignificant amount of money? How is it different from what I want if I go see fringe theatre? Or am-dram? (Note: “am-dram” is often used derogatorily. Not so in this context: I enjoy and think there is a lot to be praised in amateur theatre. But that’s a whole blog post in itself.) 

There are certain things I want from theatre, regardless of what I’m seeing or where I’m going. I always want to have some sort of emotional or intellectual reaction: I want to have been made to feel something or think about a difficult social question. (For more on this, see my post about my favourite ever productions, where I explain certain things about what makes me tick when I go see a production.) I also always want to see that artists (actors, directors, designers…) have created something interesting and exciting, whatever that may be in the context of the particular production. But I expect very different things from productions’ different theatre contexts. For me, a great West End production, beyond being emotionally/intellectually inspiring, also fulfils these criteria:

1. Great production value

It’s no secret that West End productions have higher budgets than a fringe production. If I go see a fringe production, I’m aware that the budgets can restrict the extent to which they can fulfill big ideas. When you have a West End budget, I want to experience awe inspiring set, costumes, lighting, sound worlds… It’s always nice when this happens in a fringe show, obviously, and it does, but it’s disappointing when you feel like something in the West End, which you’re likely to have paid upwards of £50 per ticket for, has been half-assed in the production department.

2. Immaculate choreography/blocking

This doesn’t​ always happen, because casts change, people take holiday, have small mind-blanks, you name it. Actors are human too. But on the whole, in the West End, casts are in roles for 6 months or year long contracts. I expect actors to know what they’re doing in most contexts, but there’s a level of polish that comes from doing eight shows a week for months and months that I expect more from the West End than fringe shows (or even large scale commercial touring shows, where, while the cast may be contracted for several months, they’re adjusting to new spaces every week). Particularly in West End musicals, with large chorus dance numbers, I expect that level of togetherness and flair that makes you sit back and think “wow”…

3. Not “star value”

This may be slightly unexpected, but I’m always a little wary of “star value”. There are some phenomenal actors who are also stars, but there are many stars who are put in roles beyond their capabilities, in order to be able to charge over-optimistically ticket prices. I saw Funny Girl at the Savoy last summer, and went on a Monday performance, when Sheridan Smith’s understudy – NAME – was scheduled to play the lead, Fanny Price, and honestly, I can’t imagine a better performance. She was outstanding, and a clear example of why you don’t need a star. (To be fair, Smith also got excellent reviews, and I’m sure she was very good.) There are moments when a “star” lead is worth the ticket inflation (Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway in summer 2010 was one of the most hilarious performances I’ve ever attended, and he could do everything required of the role – sing, dance and make me laugh with perfect comic timing) but it is far from necessary in a good West End show. A good West End show should be able to stand without a star to hold it up.

Those are the three, in my opinion, key requirements of a good West End show, so to conclude, in the spirit of the original post, here are the three shows I would love to see on the West End, with the criteria above fulfilled.

– Hamilton. I have tickets to see this in February 2018, and I hope that it is worth the year of waiting (I bought the tickets when they went on sale in February 2017)…

– Camelot. I love the film of this musical, and would love to see a really good West End revival.

– Waitress. I’ve just discovered the soundtrack to this new musical which was on Broadway last year, and I’m very curious about the show. I’d love to be able to see a great production of it, to see what I think beyond “these songs are very catchy”.

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading! As you read this, I’ve now worked a whole two weeks for Metta Theatre, and I’m loving it. Follow Metta on Facebook and Twitter to hear a little about what I’m doing (I write a lot of our social media now) and I will update you more thoroughly about what I’m doing very soon!

Emily xxx

‘In Depth: Working As A Producer’, Workshop with Fuel Theatre and the National Theatre, 19th May 2017

‘In Depth: Working As A Producer’, Workshop with Fuel Theatre and the National Theatre, 19th May 2017

The first big thing to mention this week is that I’ve started my new job! When this goes up I will have spent a whole week as Metta Theatre’s administrator. It’s great, and I’m really enjoying it so far: stay tuned to hear more about what I’m doing in a few weeks!

As those of you who’ve been around for a while will know, I interned at Fuel Theatre last summer for three months, which was an amazing experience, which set me up to start working towards being a theatre producer some day. (You can read my weekly blogs about what I got up to while I was there here.) When I saw that they were running a workshop about producing, in conjunction with the National Theatre, I was very tempted, but I hesitated, I wasn’t sure if it wouldn’t be aimed at people with more experience than me. I emailed Kate McGrath, the director of Fuel, who was running the day, and asked her if she thought it would be relevant to me. She sent me a planned schedule for the day, and it looked perfect, so I booked to go along, despite it being less than a week before my final exams, and I’m so glad I went.

The day was split into four in-depth sessions from various perspectives, using the National Theatre and Fuel’s co-production (along with West Yorkshire Playhouse, though WYP weren’t involved in the day) of the Barbershop Chronicles as a case-study in the earlier sessions. It was hugely useful in terms of learning about producing, and also upped my excitement about seeing the Barbershop Chronicles (on 5th June – watch out for my review in early July, when I tell you about theatre I enjoyed in June).


Session One: The Artist-Producer relationship

This was led by Kate and Inua Ellams, an artist Kate has been working with for 9 years. The focus was on how they had developed their relationship up to their current project, the Barbershop Chronicles at the National Theatre (which I saw on 5th June, btw, and it was fantastic, but more on that in a few weeks) and, drawing for how their relationship worked, how other producers might create relationships with artists and produce their work.

It was an incredible insight, and here are the biggest points I took away from it.

  • It takes time. Kate and Inua’s relationship has taken 9 years to develop to the stage it is at now, and that time was necessary. Kate explained this as being about trust. The artist-producer relationship depends on trust (trust that each will do what they need to do, trust that the work is good…) and trust takes time to build.
  • A group member pointed out in this conversation that, in order to trust an artist, the producer first needs to trust themselves; their taste and ability to pick something worthwhile to work on, their ability to be flexible and open to responding to ideas, and their ability to do all the administrative and financial tasks on their to-do list. (I think this is probably also true the other way round; artists need to trust in their own work before they entrust it to a producer…)
  • Different people need different things to begin a relationship (Kate specified that she needs to see the work in real life, and meet the artist for an in-person chat [or several], other people will need other things, from simply an idea they are insipired by to a detailed CV of successes or particular character traits for personalities to mesh…). No one comes in knowing exactly what they need to start building relationships, but it’s worth thinking about as your career develops, so as you do more, you can be clearer about what you need.


Session Two: Co-Producing

This was a panel discussion between Kate and Fran Miller, the National Theatre’s projects producer working on the Barbershop Chronicles.

It was a dynamic, fast-moving conversation, and explained how the co-producing relationship between Fuel and the National worked for the Barbershop Chronicles, which enables a bit of comparison of their roles as producers in a huge institution and theatre, and in a small company.

There are 25-30 shows per year at the National Theatre, and it is a staff-heavy business, with over 1000 staff members, which makes it a very different environment for producing that Fuel (10 staff members).

Co-production contracts are very complex and detailed, but very useful: they still go back to it regularly. It is negotiated by everyone involved (in the case of the Barbershop Chronicles, Fuel, the National Theatre, and West Yorkshire Playhouse). Kate and Fran suggested that, with such a complex document ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, but do worry and discuss the necessary complexities until everyone is satisfied with them.

When working with a huge company like the NT different things come into play than working with smaller companies, because there are more people and more procedures involved than in smaller institutions, which don’t necessarily have policies for certain things. Kate and Fran gave two examples of how this affected the Barbershop Chronicles production process: the marketing was dictated by the NT’s marketing timeline, which was non-negotiable. The other, more amusing example, was Kate’s idea of getting food from the countries visited in the play for press night. In a small company, this might only have required one conversation, but with the NT, required eight conversations with eight different people, all of whom had input on how press night should function.

*Side note* There was a question during this conversation asking about contracts in general. This was the advice: Begin writing a contract with a standard contract originally and then edit it/make it bespoke to individual relationships/situations. *End side note*


Session Three: Detailed parts of producing.

After lunch, the first session in the afternoon was more detailed insight into producing. Four members of the Fuel team came in to give insights on their particular roles within Fuel as a producing company: Ed Errington, General Manager, Stuart Heyes, Head of Production, Emilie Wiseman, Head of Programme, and Sarah Wilson-White, Projects Producer​. The attendees of the workshop had half an hour with two members: I was in a group discussion with Ed about fundraising, and one with Sarah about pitching tours to venues.

Ed focused on fundraising for smaller projects and explained the importance of multiple sources of funding. He explained ACE small grants (<£15,000) and said to ask for what you needed, but to go up to the limit, not to feel that you’d be better off asking for £10,000, when you needed £15,000 from ACE, because you thought they might be more willing to give a smaller amount. ACE won’t cover all the costs of a project though; you need to get other funding sources: in-kind support is one (e.g. a venue offering you free rehearsal space). The other important ones covered were trusts and foundations and crowdfunding. Trusts give funding to projects which match their areas of interests: focus applications on the few to whom your project is relevant. Some do support non-charities (e.g. Jerwood), but it is usually easier to get support from trusts if you are a charity. Crowdfunding is a resource which is still being discussed: people are still working out how best to use it. The recommendation that came out of this discussion was to focus crowdfunding on something specific (e.g. please donate to help build the set) and giving appropriate rewards.

Sarah started by suggesting that you should give yourself a year to 18 months to pitch a tour, knowing that popular touring windows are school holidays for children’s shows, and Feb-May/Sept-Nov for adult shows. You should know how much each show costs before you pitch it to someone, and you should tell venues exactly what each show costs. The key information to put in a programmers pack is minimum stage space, target audiences, dates. Invite people to showings, arrange meetings in Edinburgh and develop relationships personally (preferably over phone rather than email). The objective is to find synergy with venues and aims. She also suggested the importance of budgeting to get photos/films from R&D periods (research and development) to send with programmers packs (but don’t send these if they don’t end up being good!).
Session Four: Different Producers’ perspectives

The final session was a panel discussion between four producers with different backgrounds: Kate, Nick Williams, an independent cross-scale producer who produces international tours; Henny Finch, a commercial producer for Headlong, who recently produced 1984 in the West End, which is currently on Broadway; and Kate Scanlan, currently working with Battersea on a new, localised cross-artform space.

Each gave an overview of the sort of work they do, and some advice. Start by getting to grips with how the landscape works where you want to create work, and make partnerships. Go make the relationships in person. In the relationship development stage, it is more about the meeting of minds of collaborators than about the show necessarily. If you can afford it, you can be in just one place, for just one week. Think about shows as ‘one suitcase’ or ‘two suitcase’ shows where you can. If you’re looking to make an adaptation and need to discuss rights: take your time with relationship building, it will be a series of delicate conversations. Remember that subsidised theatre can move to the commercial sector if it is popular enough.

They finished by giving a “top tip” each: the single piece of advice they thought would be most useful. These were:

  • Pick a good ‘Horse’ (artist) and back them to the end
  • Trust yourself: charm people, solve problems and trust yourself so you can be believed
  • It’s easy to get bogged down in stuff – just keep going!

My biggest conclusion was that producing is about relationships with people, and to take your time building these: I’ve got a long process of relationship building ahead of me, and I’m looking forwards to it immensely.

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading. If you have any particular insights that you can add to this conversation please leave them in the comments: it’d be great to hear them, and please like the post if you enjoyed it! I’ll be back next week with my “West End Wish list”: everything I want from a West End show, follow the blog if you haven’t already so you don’t miss it!

Emily xxx

The Need For Arts Funding and Arts Education

The Need For Arts Funding and Arts Education

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing on a Tuesday: I’ve been writing one post a week, on a Friday at 5pm for months now. There is a reason. If you are, like the majority, though not all, of my readers, based in the UK, you will probably be aware that we have a general election happening on Thursday. I want to write a little bit about arts funding and arts education, which are becoming more and more disparaged, and viewed as unnecessary, sometimes even elitist luxuries.

Now, I should start by saying that I absolutely agree that, when compared to food, housing and safety, access to arts and arts education is a secondary priority. That said, I think you should consider your candidates’ and parties’ positions on funding for the arts and funding for arts education, and, ideally, vote for those who at the very least won’t continue to cut funding for these, and preferably for those who want to increase them. (Side note. This post is deliberately being written just before an election, and therefore the most relevant thing to do is vote. However, our role in our democracy isn’t over on the 9th June. Continue to pester your representatives, whether you voted for them or not, to remind them of the importance of funding for the arts and other issues which are important to you.)

When we look back on the past, we judge societies on what they’ve left in legacy; both positive, like art or writing, and negative, like terrible human rights abuses. We know that arts are important to humanity, and most people will agree that human nature is better expressed in beautiful music than it is in the complex intricacies of the hypothetical value of tiny percentages of companies on the stock market. But funding to the arts in the UK is being cut enormously, and cuts to schools are affecting their teaching of arts most strongly.

Arts, in all their forms (music, dance, theatre, literature…) are on the national curriculum, but are being squeezed out of many schools, particularly those with the least funding available, who simply can’t afford the teaching and equipment for arts education. This widens the gap between those who can afford a more privileged education for their children (either by being able to afford to live in areas with better state schools or by paying for private education) and those who cannot: if only those who are already better off (the single clearest indicator of school success is parental wealth) have access to arts education there is something outrageously wrong with society. If a child whose learning will be facilitated by creative opportunities cannot have those opportunities because their parents bought a house in the “wrong” area of their city, something needs to change. Please look at the candidates in your constituency’s views on funding for education, and vote for those who intend to at the very least stop cutting funding to education, and preferably increase the funding available, so that all children have the opportunity to learn as many subjects as they deserve, and focus on those (arts or other) which are best suited to their interests and abilities.

For me, there is very little as worthwhile as the shared experience of theatre: a group of humans assemble in the same space, experience joy, sadness, laughter together, and leave that little bit happier. Subsidised theatre (theatre which exists because of grants from the government or charities) is usually cheaper than commercial theatre (theatre which makes money from investments and ticket sales) and tries to reach certain objectives that commercial theatre doesn’t seek to, necessarily: it explores issues that may not be considered elsewhere, and, most importantly, it seeks to reach audiences that don’t usually attend theatre. This can be because theatre rarely goes to certain towns (the Arts Council England has strategic touring grants for theatre to go to places which have less theatre available) or by trying to reach groups of people who attend theatre less frequently (for financial or other reasons). If the government cuts that funding, these people simply won’t get that theatre. To date, I’ve worked in companies that make subsidised theatre (Metta and Fuel). The work we do to make art is, in my opinion, necessary for us to be the best society we can be, and I urge you to vote to keep it in existence.

That’s all for this public service announcement. Please share this post to as many people as you can in advance of the election. I will be back to my normal posting schedule and content on Friday, with a post about an amazing workshop I attended about producing theatre!

Emily xxx

P.S. I don’t claim to have all the answers to political questions, but, for what it is worth, I will be voting for Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Cambridge, and I joined the Liberal Democrat party, because I think they represent my views about the vast majority of issues most closely. If you want to know more about what I think, you can follow me on twitter, but even if you disagree with me in every way possible, please vote on Thursday.

Theatre I Enjoyed in May 2017 | The Addams Family Musical UK Tour Review

Theatre I Enjoyed in May 2017 | The Addams Family Musical UK Tour Review

I had my final university exams in May 2017, so I didn’t make it to very much theatre. In fact I went to see one thing in the whole month, which is the least I’ve been to the theatre all year. That said, what I went to see was great, and I’m so glad I went, even though it was less than a week before my finals. I went to see The Addams Family Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre on the 19th May at 8.30pm, and came out, after a fun evening, thinking that it was a wonderful production of a mediocre musical.

I had a really fun night, and really enjoyed the production, which was colourful and detailed, and the performances which were mostly very strong. The set was striking, and impressive in its variation and slick movements, though it felt on the edge of being a little crowded on the stage when the full company (about 20 actors) were onstage. (This may well be because it is designed for a UK tour, and is going to theatres of varied sizes, and needs to fill stages significantly bigger than the New Wimbledon, I don’t know.) The costume design was definitely a huge, strong aspect of the show’s aesthetic, and it was spot on. Colourful and varied: I loved it.

The performances were all excellent, as far as they could be in fairly two-dimensional characters. I particularly enjoyed Cameron Blakely’s extravagant Gomez Addams, and Carrie Hope Fletcher’s forceful and alluring Wednesday Addams: the performers gave excellent renditions of the most interesting characters in the show. Blakely dominated the production with his charismatic rendition of Gomez and great comic timing, as well as the ability to bring in a little heart-wrench in Happy/Sad, a number he shared with Fletcher, about the complex emotions of watching children growing up. Fletcher’s singing was powerful and her presence was striking, though she, along with several other cast members, sounded a little vocally tired, perhaps due to the decision to have two evening performances in close succession (5pm and 8.30pm), which would exhaust anyone.

Samantha Womack’s Morticia was excellent, her singing was beautiful and her characterisation on-point for what she was given, but, unlike the characters of Gomez and Wednesday, she was less developed, leaving Womack seeming less inspiring than the other two lead characters, not through any fault of her performance.

The strongest supporting performances for me came from Grant McIntyre, as a childish but endearing Pugsley Addams, and Charlotte Page, as Alice Beineke (Wednesday’s boyfriend’s mother), who was endearingly uncertain until she drank the potion intended for Wednesday, and revealed a fantastic, feisty attitude. Les Dennis’ Uncle Fester was endearing and entertaining, though his singing left a little to be desired in the tuning department, and Valda Avik’s Grandma was enjoyable and amusing. Dale Rapley and Oliver Ormson as Mal and Lucas Beineke gave convincing performances of Ohioan Americans interacting with the unusual Addams family with horror and fascination respectively. Dickon Gough’s Lurch deserves special praise for excellent comic timing (slower than I would ever dare, but it worked!) and for some beautiful basso profundo singing in the final number.

The chorus of ancestors were strong singers and engaging dancers, though they occasionally seemed out-of-place, which I think is due to the musical’s writing leaving something to be desired, rather than the chorus themselves.

I did enjoy the musical itself, to some extent: it was funny in lots of places, and endearing in a few, but I don’t think it should make it onto your list of best musicals. It takes familiar characters, ages them a few years, and a familiar plot line (two families with opposing values meet because their children are romantically involved, awkwardness ensues, then everything ends happily ever after), which just feels a little lazy, compared to some of the other, outstanding musicals out there. There are some good numbers (Happy/Sad, Pulled, and Crazier Than You, were my favourites, in that order), but the musical as a whole felt, to me, a little bit too commercial and aimed at pure, meaningless entertainment, rather than discussing anything more serious. (The possible exception is the song Happy/Sad, which may be why it was my favourite.) The performers seem almost too good for the script, even when vocally tired, which is a shame.

That said, I encourage you to go and see it – I had a fun night, and am thrilled I went. You will get lighthearted amusement and fun, an amazing production in terms of design and excellent performances.

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading! If you’ve seen The Addams Family UK Tour, I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments! If you’ve seen any of the US versions, it would be fascinating to compare, so please tell me about those as well! Please like the post if you enjoyed it, and share it with your friends and family if you think they’d like it! I’ll be back next Friday with a post about the other thing I did on the 19th of May: a workshop about producing run by the National Theatre and Fuel. There will also be a bonus post in the middle of the week; make sure you follow the blog if you haven’t already so you don’t miss anything!

Emily xxx

Recommended Theatre for June 2017

Recommended Theatre for June 2017

Happy 1st Birthday to this blog! I started this blog a year ago tomorrow, after I’d finished my second year university exams, and wanted something to occupy my time and document what I was doing in theatre. I can’t believe a whole year has gone by, but I’m hugely grateful for the memories I’ve saved by doing this, about what I did for so many projects, and while interning over the summer, and for how far I’ve come during this year.  I’m looking forwards to writing about what I do in the coming year, and seeing where I’ve ended up by the time it’s rolled by. I’m also very grateful for the support of those of you who read this blog regularly: I really appreciate it.

When this post goes up, I will have finished two of my three final university exams. That’s a scary thought! But an exciting one as well: I’m looking forwards to some really exciting new things, starting very soon after this post goes up. (See last week’s life update!) In the mean time, life goes on, and theatre happens that you probably want to see. Here are my recommendations, in London, Cambridge and elsewhere for the month of June 2017.

In London:

The Barbershop Chronicles is on at the National Theatre until the 22nd June (and then at West Yorkshire Playhouse in July – wait for next month’s recommendations for that!). Produced by Fuel (I was involved in some of the casting preparation while I interned there) this play by Inua Ellams is set in six cities around the world, and considers the relationship between black men and their barbers, and their discussion of the world in barbershops. I cannot wait to see it! You can book tickets here.

Woyzeck is on at the Old Vic until the 24th June, and it looks thrilling and dark. The COld War, politics, and love. And an actor who was in a Star Wars film. What more could you want? You can book tickets here.

In Cambridge:

Wife, based on Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife, is on at the Corpus Playroom 30th May-3rd of June, and – despite being very keen – I’m not going to be able to see it (due to exams and then going to see Julius Caesar in Sheffield). Please go see it for me, and tell me all about it in the comments. You can book tickets here.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is on at the ADC Theatre from the 1st to the 10th June. From what I can tell, it’s a sparkly, fun musical, and that alone is a reason for it to be a great post-exams choice: easy, fun and a great way to unwind after a tense few weeks. I’m hoping to get to see it! You can book tickets here.

The Language Archive, about languages, love and being lost in translation, is on at the Corpus Playroom from 20th-24th June. As a bilingual person, I’m fascinated by this topic and very interested to know what this play has to say. You can book tickets here.


An Evening With An Immigrant, which I’ve mentioned before is my favourite production probably ever (of those I’ve personally seen to date). It’s on on 22nd June at The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford upon Avon, and you can book here.

Julius Caesar, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, on from now until 10th June. I’m going to see this with my family as a 21st birthday present, which we booked almost six months ago: that’s how keen I am to see this production… You can book tickets here.

By the time this goes up, I will have seen The Addams Family Musical UK Tour, and I’ll tell you all about it in next week’s post. In June, it will be on at Southend Cliffs Pavilion 30th May-3rd June (book here), Birmingham Hippodrome 6th-10th June (book here), Theatre Royal Bath from 13th-17th June (book here), Hall for Cornwall, Truro, 20th-24th June (book here), and Nottingham Theatre Royal, 27th June-1st July (book here).

That’s all for this week: thank you as always for reading. If you have any good vibes/ well intentioned thoughts/ prayers to a deity of your choice/… that you’d be willing to send my way as I sit my final exam and start my new job, I’d be very grateful! I’ll be back next Friday with my thoughts on what little theatre I made it to this month.

Emily xxx