I always enjoy seeing performers getting the chance to do things they don’t normally do, or to do things a bit differently, so when I heard about West End Switched Off at the St James Theatre Studio I decided to grab a ticket. Organised by Parallel Productions and MD Kris Rawlinson, this occasional concert series features a number of West End performers putting a different spin on some classic musical theatre numbers, as well as showcasing some less frequently-performed songs. As I had hoped, it proved to be a highly entertaining evening…
My post on Tuesday night about the first Eurovision semi-final was pretty popular, so I’m back with another one about the second semi-final. Hurrah, I hear you cry from all corners of Europe! (Truth be told I would’ve written this anyway, but I’m very glad someone’s reading.) In tonight’s blog, after a round-up of the semi, you also get a special bonus feature: my thoughts on the performances of the ‘Big 5’ countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), plus our Austrian hosts (who I suspect don’t have designs on holding the party again next year) and the intercontinental Aussie gatecrashers.
I bloody love Eurovision. To me, it’s an event still unique in the world in its bizarre, camp, multinational wonderfulness. The more people say ‘I don’t get it.’ or ‘But it’s crap!’, the more wonderful I’m convinced it is. I also think that although it’s not traditional ‘theatre’, there’s a lot of theatricality about the whole thing. For these reasons, I’m afraid I’m going to blog about it. If you’re not a fan, feel free to ignore my next couple of blog posts – but rest assured that normal service will be resumed shortly afterwards!
I originally saw this production in October 2014, in its first home of Harrington’s Pie Shop in Tooting. I’d seen and enjoyed Sweeney Todd before (the Chichester production with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton) and I’d also seen an impressively performed play by Tooting Arts Club (Barbarians, back in 2012) in my capacity as an occasional reviewer for whatsonstage.com. The extra intrigue added by this production being set in a pie shop (you know the story, right?) made it a must-see. I was not disappointed. Nor was Stephen Sondheim when he paid a visit to the production for its final performance.
Nobody living in the UK can have failed to notice that today is polling day in a General Election – a day that typically only comes round once every 5 years. One of the best things about polling day is the lack of media coverage of politics, providing a blissful few hours’ hiatus between the frantic campaigning in the run-up to the election and the now seemingly inevitable (and quite possibly equally frantic) rush to form a governing coalition in its aftermath. In an attempt to ruin that brief moment of peace, however, I thought I’d churn out a few thoughts on how theatre can contribute to the political debate – whether it has a valid role to play, and whether it might even be able to influence who we put our X next to in the polling booth.
I’d already seen Monsieur Butterfly at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014, but enjoyed it so much I wanted to see it again. So I was very pleased (if not surprised, since it was nominated for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award last year) to hear it was getting a run at London’s Soho Theatre, one of the best venues in town for comedy.