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  • Writer's pictureThat Stagey Blog

My Stagey Week -19

On Monday I returned to the Underbelly where the cast of Follies had reassembled to form a cabaret entitled On Reflection.

With Follies having closed on Saturday, Janie Dee and several of the cast put together this show to celebrate and say goodbye.

Spread across five nights a different selection of the Follies Cast performed each night.

They each took to the stage to introduce the song they had chosen to perform which meant something to them as well as showing the audience a photo that went with their stories.

The performers on the night I went included Christine Tucker, Caroline Fitzgerald, Aimee Hodnett, Ian McLarnon, Adrian Grove, Janie Dee, Lindsay Atherton, Vanessa Fisher as well as my old pals Alyn Hawke and Gemma Sutton.

It was a cute evening, and was lovely to catch up with Alyn before he heads to Chichester to begin rehearsals for Oklahoma!

I then made my way over to Freedom for the Kinky Kabaret take over with the cast of Sweet Charity with Danielle Steers sounding incredible doing a stripped back version of Britney Spears Toxic. Lauren Drew sang Dead Girl Walking from Heathers. Charlotte Jaconelli sounded sensational showing off her operatic range before treating the audience to a song from Mean Girls. Shaq Taylor and Jo Eaton-Kent also sounded incredible, while Arthur Darvill impressively sang and accompanied himself on the piano.

On Tuesday I was at the gala performance of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie which welcomed new cast members Faye Tozer and Bianca Del Rio.

This was my sixth time, having seen John McCrea. Luke Bayer and now Layton Williams play Jamie each twice. Luckily I love this show, so I don’t mind seeing it again.

It’s easy to dismiss Faye Tozer as just “that one from Steps” but as well as making it to the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2018, Faye has already appeared in several musicals, including Tell Me on a Sunday. Saucy Jack and the Space Vixen. My Girl. Over the Rainbow, and Singin’ in the Rain.

In Everybody’s Talking About Jamie she takes over from Hayley Tamaddon to play Miss Hedge, and as well as nailing the accent, Faye sounds and looks incredible giving an all right spot on performance.

Meanwhile Bianca Del Rio also impresses. Again, easy to dismiss as “that one from Drag Race”, Bianca or Roy Haylock has already had experience in musicals, once playing Angel in Rent. Bianca/Roy brings an added slice of sass to the role of Loco Charelle/Hugo.

Without even attempting a British accent, an amendment to the script allows Roy to use his Native American accent, which is not a cop out but rather a wise choice. Bianca’s comic delivery works better when served with an American accent.

After the show, we were treated to pizza and drinks as we mingled at the theatre and I got to chat to the cast. Lee Latchford-Evans and Ian ‘H’ Watkins from Steps and Jamie Campbell and his mother Margaret were also watching.

We then all made our way to Freedom to continue the evening, where I got chatting to Laura Anderson from Love Island.

With ITV in the headlines last week over the decision to cancel the Jeremy Kyle Show and the question over whether Love Island show be cancelled, it was reassuring to chat to Laura who spoke highly about the level of after care that she has received from ITV following her appearance in Love Island.

Bianca Del Rio and Faye Tozer will perform in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie until 29th June.

On Wednesday I revisited Hair as this week the tour reached Dartford. Having seen the show in Wimbledon, I couldn’t resist coming back to see this incredible cast again. This time I was sat front row.

Everyone in this show sounds incredible. Bradley Judge went off during the interval, with David Heywood stepping in to take over the role of Woof.

As well as coming back for another chance to hear Paul Wilkins and Natalie Green, whose voices I adore. I was also back to see Jake Quickenden who I had arranged to interview.

Jake has spoken publicity recently about his struggles with anxiety, and with it being Mental Health Awareness week, I felt it was a perfect opportunity to sit down with him and hear more about his story.

Jake is easily one of the nicest, most down to earth gentleman you could ever meet. We chatted candidly in his dressing room in a video that can be found on my You Tube channel.

Hair continues to tour until 10th August.

On Wednesday evening I watched Summer Street at the Waterloo East Theatre.

The Waterloo East Theatre, is actually quite a nice space. Well located, with comfy chairs and a warm welcome every time I have been, and I have enjoyed shows such as Jest End here.

Summer Street describes itself as “The hilarious Aussie soap opera musical”.

Having grown up watching Neighbours and Home and Away, I easily recognised how these shows lend themselves to satire, and within this musical is the potential for a great concept.

However it just doesn’t deliver.

Alarm bells were ringing as I sat down to read the programme. Andrew Norris who has written the book, music and lyrics, also produces, writes and directs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is no reason why someone can’t do all these things, and it not always a bad thing. But more often than not, when someone is self producing their own work it simply means it’s because nobody else will.

The cast of four make a commendable effort to do the best they can, but the music isn’t great and the writing is pretty terrible.

Summer Street is at the Waterloo East theatre until 2nd June.

On Thursday I got to chat to Lala Barlow and Robbie Smith about their show The Worst Little Warehouse in London which they are taking on tour around the UK.

I saw this show last summer in Edinburgh and think it’s fantastic. It’s full of musical theatre references, which is thanks to both Lala and Robbie having extensive CV’s working in musicals.

The interview can be found here:

For more details about their tour, visit:

In the world’s worse kept secret, Lucie Jones made her debut as Jenna in Waitress. She is due to take over from Katharine McPhee from 17th June. However unexpectedly they decided that Lucie would go on for Katharine who was away in New York.

No official announcement was made, and the evening was shrouded in secrecy and speculation, with Lucie alluding by only a cryptic tweet the day before.

I snapped up a ticket along with friend’s of Lucie’s Luke Bayer and Hiba Elchikhe and we joined Lucie’s husband and parents to watch her return to the West End.

I was also lucky to catch my friend Chris McGuigan who was understudy for Cal.

It was fantastic to see Lucie command the stage and sound incredible and to see Chris who was also superb.

The show itself, I still don’t think is that great. But I’ll admit I enjoyed it more this time.

Lucie can be seen in Waitress officially from 17th June.

On Saturday I interviewed the cast of Meets the cast of Country Music and got to watch them rehearse.

Country Music is one of Simon Stephens early plays and is directed by Scott Le Cras.

It has been incredible well cast and includes

Cary Crankson, Rebecca Stone, Yusuf Hofri and Frances Knight who were all a pleasure to meet and chat to.

The full interview can be seen here:

Country Music is at the Omnibus Theatre 29 May - 24 June

On Saturday evening, I gave myself a night off from the theatre to attend a screening party for the Eurovision Song Contest. Organised by Tim McArthur and Nathan Matthews, they took over the Rio cinema in Dalston where 400 people watched the entire show on the large cinema screen before partying till 3am.

Although the UK did terribly, it was a fun evening with an interesting performance from Madonna.

I spent Sunday recovering from the night before and then dragged myself along to the Two Brewers in Clapham for Chris Mcguigan’s birthday. Mary Mac was performing.

The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my You Tube channel here:

And the audio version can be found as a podcast here:

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