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Jack Holden in Cruise (Credit: Pamela Raith Photography)

London Theatre News Today: Thursday 20 May

First Published 20 May 2021, Last Updated 27 May 2021

Production images released for the world premiere of Cruise

Production images of the live stage production of Cruise have been released today. Written and performed by Jack Holden (War Horse, West End; Ink, Almeida Theatre), Cruise is an urgent, moving and inspirational new play with live music and spoken word. Bringing to life 1980’s Soho, this one-man show is a celebration of queer culture; a kaleidoscopic musical and spoken word tribute to the veterans of the AIDs crisis.  The show reopened the Duchess Theatre in the West End on 18 May and runs to 13 June.

Based on true stories Jack was told whilst volunteering for Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ Listening Service, this new play, directed by Bronagh Lagan, shines a light on a generation devastated by HIV and AIDs. The show will feature an uplifting 80s electronic soundtrack featuring classic anthems as well as original new music performed live by The Little Unsaid’s John Elliott.

Related Article: Tell Us In 10: Jack Holden
In this week's Tell Us In 10, we’re talking to Jack Holden, writer and lead star of Cruise, a new play opening at the Duchess Theatre from 18 May.

Cruise is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on Earth.  When Michael is diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he’s told he’ll have four years to live – at most. So, with the clock ticking, he and his partner, Dave, decide to sell their house, flog the car, spend everything they have and party like it’s the last days of Rome. When Dave dies two years later, Michael doubles down on his hedonistic ways, spending what little he has left and drowning himself in drink and drugs.

On the last night of his four-year countdown – the 29th February, 1988 – Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells. He says his goodbyes to friends, enemies and strangers; old haunts, dive bars, cafes, clubs and pubs; his brothers, sisters, allies and exes. He dances, sings, and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all his affairs taken care of, Michael promptly… survives.  Michael got lucky, and he goes on to live to a ripe old age. Michael has been given the gift of life; but what kind of life can he now live?

We went along to the first performance of Cruise and you can follow our experience in the article below. Described as “A powerhouse solo performance, full of nostalgia and a love story to life.” this show is well worth booking!

Related Article: Our trip to the first performance of Cruise
"A powerhouse solo performance, full of nostalgia and a love story to life", our thoughts on Cruise and it's celebration of queer culture. Must end 13 June!

New production images released from Death Drop

Playing at the Garrick Theatre until 11 July, Death Drop is a rampant, raucous, ridiculous romp of a murder mystery serves up all the drama, comedy, twists and turns you’ll ever need!

And today, the show releases a selection of production images that proves it’s just that.

Starring RuPaul’s Drag Race legends Willam and Latrice Royale alongside Britain’s Got Talent 2020 semi-finalist Myra Dubois, this brand-new comedy is a West End first bringing together a full cast of leading drag performers, in a hilarious murder mystery like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Be sure to book your tickets and celebrate your return #BackOnStage with a whole lotta laughs!

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical returns to the West End this summer

Aisha Jawando and the cast of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The hit production of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical will re-open at the Aldwych Theatre on 28 July 2021 following over a year of shutdown across the West End with a cast led by Aisha Jawando and Jammy Kasongo as Tina and Ike.

This new musical reveals a comeback story like no other, of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of racism, sexism and ageism to become the global Queen of Rock n’ Roll. Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is a celebration of resilience and an inspiration of triumph over adversity.

Click below to read the full story and be sure to grab your tickets.

Related Article: West End Production of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical to return from 28 July
The hit production of Tina - The Tina Turner Musical will re-open at the Aldwych Theatre on 28 July 2021 with a cast led by Aisha Jawando and Jammy Kasongo.

Zog will fly back to London this summer for three weeks only

(Photo: Mark Senior)

Zog is roaring back to London this Summer! Based on the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, the smash-hit stage adaptation from Freckle Productions is flying into Rose Theatre Kingston from 4-11 August, and Cadogan Hall from 18-29 August.

Large in size, and keen in nature, Zog is so eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know. Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet…a duel with knight, Sir Gadabout the Great!

Zog is one of the best-loved creations of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the UK’s number one picture book pair behind many modern classics, including The Gruffalo which has been published in 75 languages. Together their books have sold over 75 million copies.

First published in 2010, Zog won the Galaxy National Children’s Book of the Year Award. It has since sold over 1 million copies and has been published in 19 languages. On Christmas Day 2018, Magic Light Pictures premiered an animated film of Zog on BBC One featuring an all-star cast including Sir Lenny Henry and Rob Brydon.

Zog is adapted for the stage by Freckle Productions, who are pioneers in imaginative storytelling for children. They are best known for their adaptations of classic Julia Donaldson titles including Stick Man, which this year celebrates its 10th season in the West End, and Tiddler and other Terrific Tales.

The 2021 cast features Billy Mahoney as Zog, Lois Glenister as Princess Pearl, Benedict Hastings as Sir Gadabout, Asha Cornelia Cluer as Madam Dragon and Danielle Whittaker in various roles. The cast of actor-puppeteers bring the world of Zog to life with handcrafted puppets designed and created by Little Angel Theatre co-founder Lyndie Wright.

Zog is directed by Emma Kilbey with songs by Joe Stilgoe. It is designed by Katie Sykes with lighting design by Ric Mountjoy, puppetry design by Lyndie Wright and orchestrations and musical direction by Paul Herbert.

Book your tickets to this family-friendly show at the Rose Theatre below!

The Show Must Go On! Live at The Palace Theatre to be broadcast worldwide with LIVE stream by Universal and NT LIVE

The Theatre Support Fund+ are delighted to announce that, due to phenomenal public demand, the final performance of the sold-out run of THE SHOW MUST GO ON! LIVE AT THE PALACE THEATRE will now be streamed as a LIVE broadcast on Sunday 6 June at 7pm.

Theatre fans will be given further opportunity to enjoy the show in its entirety as it is made available to watch on ‘The Shows Must Go On!’ YouTube channel for the seven days following the LIVE broadcast.

Filmed by National Theatre Live, the world’s most iconic musicals return to the West End stage with a stunning concert performance that audiences can watch from the comfort of their homes for free; exclusively via the hugely popular ‘The Shows Must Go On!’ YouTube channel:  youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON LIVE AT THE PALACE THEATRE is set to be the biggest celebration of musical theatre this year with 18 of the biggest musicals in London West End all performing! Including Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, SIX, Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical& Juliet, Les Misérables, Disney’s The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, Come From Away, The Phantom Of The Opera, Mary Poppins, MAMMA MIA!, Back to the Future The Musical and Pretty Woman The Musical along with a thrilling line-up of West End talent, a multi award winning creative team and the finest musicians in London.

The LIVE broadcast is announced after a record breaking on-sale and follows an incredible year for The Theatre Support fund+, raising over £900,000 for theatre charities from their renowned ’The Show Must Go On!’ merchandise. All profits from the concert will go to Acting for Others and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s charity, Fleabag Support Fund. Audiences watching the broadcast can donate to Theatre Support Fund+ via the website, www.theatresupportfund.co.uk/donate or Text ‘THEATRE’ followed by the amount you want to donate to 70460.

Chris Marcus and Damien Stanton from Theatre Support Fund+ said today: ‘We wanted to give audiences who missed out on tickets and theatre fans worldwide the opportunity to watch and be a part of this celebration of the West End, in this once in a lifetime concert! It’s been 15 months since many of these shows have performed and this is a great way to kick off the re-opening of the West End, with performances from so many fantastic names in our industry. Our ‘The Show Must Go On!’ campaign has been supported by people from 72 countries so we are delighted to be working with ‘The Shows Must Go On’ YouTube channel and NT Live on bringing this broadcast to people’s homes all over the world and want to thank them for everything they have done to make this all possible’.

The concert will be hosted by musical theatre legends, Bonnie Langford (“9 to 5 the Musical”, “42nd Street”) and Trevor Dion Nicholas (“Hamilton”, “Aladdin”). Performances and casting include:

Aisha Jawando in a performance from TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL, Marcus Harman in a performance from Dear Evan Hansen, Sharan Phull in a performance from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Collette Guitart and Hana Stewart who will alternate in a performance from SIX, Trevor Dion Nicholas in a performance from Hamilton, Dom Simpson and Tom Xander  in a performance from The Book of Mormon, Laura Pick in a performance from WICKED, Tilly-Raye Bayer, Imogen Cole, Alyssa D’Souza, Alex Munden and Carly Thoms in a performance from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical, Jordan Luke Gage in a performance from & Juliet, John Owen Jones in a performance from Les Misérables, Kayi Ushe and Janique Charles in a performance from Disney’s The Lion King, Christine Allado and Alexia Khadime in a performance from The Prince of Egypt, Alice Fearn in a performance from Come From Away, Lucy St Louis and Rhys Whitfield in a performance from The Phantom Of The Opera, Zizi Strallen in a performance from Mary Poppins and Mazz Murray in a performance from MAMMA MIA! In addition, Olly Dobson in a performance from Back to the Future The Musical and Aimie Atkinson in a performance from Pretty Woman The Musical. There will also be a choir of 16 which is made up of Musical Theatre 2020 graduates.

The concert will also include a brand-new opening number, written by West End musical writing duo Stiles & Drewe called ‘The Show Must Go On!’ which celebrates the theatre industry in these current times.

Be sure to mark your diaries and tune into this wonderful production. You can also check out our online calendar to find out where you enjoy more online theatre.


New production images released for transatlantic production of Lucinda Coxon’s Herding Cats

Production images for Herding Cats by Lucinda Coxon playing at Soho Theatre until 22 May have today been released.

Anthony Banks directs Jassa Ahluwalia (Unforgotten, Peaky Blinders) as Michael, Greg Germann (Grey’s Anatomy, Friends From College and Ally McBeal) as Saddo, and Sophie Melville as Justine (Pops, Iphigenia in Splott).

Anthony Banks is reunited with Lucinda Coxon following their collaboration on the world première production. The staging is a hybrid of in-person and livestream theatre that marks a first-of-its-kind international collaboration. With Germann performing live in Los Angeles, his character will be transmitted via video-link into the Soho Theatre where Ahluwalia and Melville are performing in-person, creating a unique live experience for the audience. Simultaneously, audiences across the globe can access the production as a live-streamed cinematic theatrical experience that will combine the performances of both the American and British actors in real-time.

The production is accessible online to audiences across the globe via Stellar and in person, with social distancing in line with current UK government guidelines, at Soho Theatre.

Herding Cats is a chillingly funny play about a generation negotiating intimacy and independence in the 21st century. Meeting the demands of modern life is as impossible as herding cats for Justine, Michael and Saddo. To deal with work, Justine talks – a little too much – to her roommate Michael who earns a living by chatting with strangers like Saddo. But all three will soon find that in a cold, disconnected world, words may not be enough.

For in-person and streaming tickets, go to www.herdingcatsplay.com


Enjoy West End musical performances this week on ITV’s This Morning At The Musicals

Layton Williams (Jamie) and The Cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre. Photo credit Johan Perrson

To celebrate the reopening of theatres this week, This Morning will be joined by the cast of some of the biggest shows in the West End in This Morning At The Musicals.

This week has seen performances from Mamma Mia!, Pretty Woman The Musical, Six, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical and tomorrow, you can enjoy a performance from the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Tune in at 10am and begin your Friday with some stagey magic!



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