21st Sep2015

Casa Valentina (Theatre)

by timbaros

Casa Valentina by Robert Workman 2015 1There’s a house in the Catskill mountains in upstate New York where several men go to dress up in women’s clothing. It’s also a new play by Harvey Fierstein called ‘Casa Valentina’ now playing at the Southwark Playhouse.

Fierstein, whose other show in the West End is Kinky Boots, gives us a bit of a twist on Kinky Boots’ theme where there are men who dress as drag queens purely for entertainment purposes. In Casa Valentina, we get straight men who dress up as women because they have that need. These men are from all different walks of life – yet they purely enjoy dressing up in women’s clothing, and there’s nothing sexual about it.

Jonathon (Ben Deery) shows up at Casa Valentina. He’s a bit nervous because it’s his first time at the house as he’s used to dressing up on his own when his wife is away. He meets the owners of the house, Rita (Tamsin Carroll), whose married to George (Edward Wolstenholme). George’s other name is Valentina, and it was his idea to create a safe space for men to dress up. Rita has accepted his fetish and is the glue that holds the house together. Along with looking after the men, she also provide a shoulder to cry on and and ear to listen to the men’s issues. Jonathon encounters a bevy of different types of men there: one is The Judge, whose woman’s name is Amy (Robert Morgan), another one is Bessie/Albert (Matthew Rixon) who has all he best lines and could possibly be modelled on Fierstein himself, and then there’s Isadore/Charlotte (with two woman’s names) (Gareth Snook) who leads the way for Transvestites and even campaigns at the highest level for people like them. But it’s the newbie Jonathon who has a hard time fitting – his stab at dressing girly falls flat, so it’s up to the ‘girls’ to dress him up and make him look pretty. And while these men may be camp, they are not gay, but they also want to remain anonymous. It’s political activist Isadore who riles them up with her suggestion that they all go public – strength in numbers she says. It’s get even more complicated when one of the men kiss Jonathon; this shakes up their entire unit like never before and it becomes a catalyst for their future relationship with each other.

‘Casa Valetina’ is staged in the round and it works successfully as each character floats from one side to the other very gracefully, and it gives the audience a chance to stare at their costumes and makeup. While they all look like men who dress up as woman, there are feminine qualities that they all possess; holding a purse, puckering up, wearing lipstick, and more importantly wearing a dress correctly. And all the actors are quite fine in their roles. Ashely Robinson is perfect as Gloria/Michael – he’s got beautiful eyes that are accentuated when he’s wearing makeup; handsome and gorgeous at the same time. Carroll is fine as the wife who’s given up a ‘normal’ life to take care of the girls – she doesn’t seem to realize that perhaps she has ‘lost’ her husband somewhere in his dressing up. Rixon is fabulous as Albert/Bessie – very quick with his funny lines. And Deery is perfect as the newbie – timid and shy and not too sure that he belongs there. Fierstein has not lost it in his several decades of playwriting – ‘Casa Valentina’ is funny and dramatic and hilarious and everything you could ask for in a play about transvestites.

Casa Valentina is now playing until October 10, 2015. To buy tickets, go here:

http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/casa-valentina/

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17th Sep2015

The Sum of Us (Theatre)

by timbaros

GffcPytSRz50E5plbN9oLHH-ma7n4Xx4I5yg75BTlyo,Exrjx2ZQT6MSd-N2VrZTiZF6evDd3UaDtDeuSzFdFWQ,-9_GH5YYFTxekWyxmiy5jYg7XK7JnrJ-7oZojIWCGNM-1A father who loves and accepts his gay son is the theme of the new play ‘The Sum of Us.’

In 1994, a young Russell Crowe played the gay son in the movie version of ‘The Sum of Us’ which was originally staged as a play in New York City in 1990. Now a new version of the play ‘The Sum of Us,’ which has never played in the UK, has just opened at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Harry (Sephen Connery-Brown) is a forty-something widower raising his twenty-something young son Jeff (Tim McFarland), who happens be gay. Harry is not bothered about his son being gay, he actually encourages Jeff to go out and meet other guys, to enjoy life while you can while you are young. And Harry doesn’t mind when Jeff brings other guys over to their home. Jeff is good-looking and athletic with a very positive look on life, but he says there’s a space in his heart that is empty, a space that could be filled by another man. When he meets someone he likes (Greg – played by Rory Hawkins), he’s immediately smitten. But it’s Harry who interrupts the two young men who are on the couch getting to know each other. Harry says a bit too much about Jeff, and their close father and son relationship makes Greg feel insecure about his own relationship with his father. Meanwhile Harry, after being a widower for a number of years, also starts dating – he feels like it’s time to get out there and meet another woman. And he does. Her name is Joyce (Annabel Pemberton), and her and Harry are getting on like wildfire. But when she learns that he has a gay son, she just can’t accept this. Firstly she’s angry that Harry didn’t tell her when they started dating, secondly she just can’t accept gay people at all. Even after Harry proposes to her, she just doesn’t want to see him anymore. So thus we have a father and a son who both yearn to be with someone yet obstacles get in their way. And as Harry tells Jeff, he is the sum of us, the sum of him and his late wife, and the sum of his grandparents and great-grandparents. Actually, we are all the sum of us, and this is the message of the play.

Above the Stag Theatre really sets the bar high on this one. Their previous shows had names such as ‘Rent Boy: The Musical’ and ‘Bathhouse: The Musical.’ However, they have now produced a play that is serious, heartwarming and very well-acted. The Sum of Us is a story that most gay men may not relate to; who can say that their fathers have whole heartedly accepted their homosexuality. But the play, written by David Stevens, who also wrote the film version and the original play version, successfully combines the son’s and father’s search for love and the close relationship they have with each other. And in the end, the message is that we all want someone to love and someone to love us, no matter whether you are gay or straight. Connery-Brown is great as Harry, as is McFarland as Jeff. They have a real rapport as father and son, and even resemble each other a bit. Hawkins and Pemberton are fine as the other halves, who may or may not wind up in the men’s lives. The set, down to the details of the1990’s script, cleverly goes from a living room to a park, in this cute theatre that is nice and cozy with a bar to match.

The Sum of Us is playing at Above the Stag Theatre until October 4th. Tickets can be bought here:

http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/

Buy tickets now – it’s selling out fast!

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15th Sep2015

Barbra Streisand is coming to London (Theatre)

by timbaros

ImageBarbra Streisand is coming back to London!

Well, it’s not the real Barbra Streisand but the world’s most famous Barbra Streisand impersonator – Steven Brinberg.

Brinberg is returning to the lush surroundings of Brasserie Zedel’s Crazy Coqs cabaret room with his show titled ‘Simply Barbra celebrates Funny Lady’ to coincide with the 40th anniversary release of the film ‘Funny Lady.’

Steven has been acclaimed for his vocal performance of Barbra Streisand for over a couple decades around the world. He has also appeared in numerous concerts with the late Marvin Hamlisch, released two CD’s, appeared in films such as ‘Camp’ and ‘Boys Live,’ and has also appeared in a concert version of ‘Funny Girl’ on Broadway, with Whoopi Goldberg and Kristin Chenoweth.

Tickets for ‘Simply Barbra celebrates Funny Lady,’ which is running from Tuesday September 15 to Saturday September 19th at the Crazy Coqs Cabaret Room, which is located inside Brasserie Zedel right off Piccadilly Circus, can be bought here:

https://www.brasseriezedel.com/crazy-coqs/steven-brinberg-2015?

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11th Sep2015

Dusty (Theatre)

by timbaros

Dusty-34A new musical about Dusty Springfield arrives in the West End – with a thud.

There’s something just not right with ‘Dusty,’ which is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre. Could it be the singing? Could it be the acting? Could it be the directing and script? Could it be that it’s multi-media theme just doesn’t work? I think it’s all of the above. Let’s start with that multi-media mularcky. The producers are calling this show a ‘Fusion Musical’ which means that the show is a combination of Alison Arnopp performing as Dusty mixed in with videos of the actual Dusty Springfield singing from her various television appearances (American Bandstand – 1964, The Ed Sullivan Show – 1965 and 1968, the Dusty TV series on the BBC – 1966 and 1967, Morecambe & Wise Show – 1970, plus others). Twenty video clips are included in the show, and while a few are cleverly done as holograms, it’s unfortunate that these video clips are much better than any live singing that’s performed. And it’s quite funny because the audience claps at the video clips, like they’re actually seeing Dusty live! And it’s not fair to have Arnopp’s voice competing with Springfield’s in the videos.

And the acting and singing? Well, it’s OK. Arnopp is credible as Dusty. Sure she can sing, and sure she can dress like her, and she definitely can act, but Arnopp is a far cry from the real Dusty. And the wigs she wears? They’re a bit over the top – not her fault, but in a few scenes she looks a bit like a drag queen. A bit better is Francesca Jackson as Dusty’s friend Nancy Jones. She’s just as pretty as Dusty yet it’s Dusty who becomes rich and famous, however Jackson is a fine singer in her own right. And Whitney White owns the stage in her short bit as Martha Reeves. She’s bound to a huge star in the West End in a few years time. But Arnopp’s singing is a far cry from any other biography musical that’s currently playing in the West End (think ‘Memphis’ where Beverly Knight wows them every night at the Shaftsbury Theatre and Katie Brayben who brings Carole King to life every night in ‘Beautiful’). The rest of the ensemble are quite good, energetic and vibrant, and I also couldn’t help but notice that they are all very young.

I’ll have to pin the blame on the direction and the script. Both by Chris Cowey, who used to be a producer on Top of the Pops. It’s not what you had hoped to expect from a musical tribute show to a British legend. Yes, Dusty Springfield is considered a legend, in her heyday and even today. She scored an incredible 18 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1970 – her peak years. She was a cultural icon of the 1960’s and was one of the best-selling UK singers in that decade. She’s been inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame, and was awarded on OBE. Yet, all this doesn’t seem to matter in the show ‘Dusty.’ It presents Dusty in flashbacks, with Dusty’s life story told by Nancy to a presenter for the television show ‘Talk of the Town.’ It’s a device that doesn’t quite work. And her sexuality is handled a bit clumsily on the show. She was a Lesbian, and in the show she has a minor relationship with a woman who lives in Los Angeles, but it’s a part of the show that appears to be thrown in at the last minute, and before you know it the relationship is over. It’s an acknowledgement of her sexuality but it’s too quick and not enough.

‘Dusty’ opened on 25 May 2015, and had it’s official press night this week. It took 14 weeks for the production team to get this show done as they wanted it. However, another few weeks of additional tweaking won’t really save this production. And they left out any mention of her last hit, which became one of her biggest – ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This’ – sung with the Pet Shop Boys. It’s a song that past and current generations are familiar with. Instead of ‘Dusty’ being a celebration of her and her career, it’s more like a minor tribute to a woman who deserves to be remembered in a bigger and better show.

Performance Times:- Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2:30pm and Saturdays at 3pm

Run time approx. 2 hours.

Mon, 25th May 2015 to Sat, 21st November 2015

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28th Aug2015

The Clinic (Theatre)

by timbaros

the_clinic_poster_SMALL_web_mediumWhat happens when you go to a clinic? Well, if you’ve been taking drugs and having lots of unsafe sex, then you might be more likely be HIV+. The new play “The Clinic” explores this scenario, and so much more.

Not so much a play but more of a health education lesson, “The Clinic” is produced by David Stuart, the Lead Substance Use Advisor at 56 Dean Street (a London sexual health clinic based in the heart of Soho), and written by Patrick Cash.

We are introduced to characters that we may recognize and identify with, portrayed by a cast of London scenesters. DJ Stewart Who plays a sexual health advisor at the clinic; he used to be a drug addicted party animal but now he dispenses HIV advice and results to men much younger than him.

Then there’s the wealthy businessman (Matthew Hodson) who enjoys sex with young men and thinks that he can buy them his love and affection. He’s also in HIV denial.

Zachariah Fletcher is the confused young man, an extreme party boy who likes to go clubbing and take drugs, not necessarily in that order. He’s also into chillouts (orgies). And he’s at risk of contracting HIV. He meets (via Grinder) Damien Killen’s character, a young respectable guy who seems to have a good head on his shoulders, is handsome with a good body, who came to London only to somehow become HIV+. He feels like he’s no longer desired but now damaged.

Then there’s Shirley (Pretty Miss Cairo). She runs a Vauxhall beauty clinic which acts as a sanctuary for the drugged out boys when the clubs close.

These characters may not be real people, but they are composites of characters that Cash met and interviewed after 56 Dean Street commissioned him to write this play. He interviewed not just the people who work at the clinic but some of the patients as well.

It’s a bare bones production, played in the very warm King’s Head Theatre in Angel (take a bottle of water with you, and a hand fan). And the cast should be admired for taking part in this play. It’s difficult at times to hear some of the dialogue (Fletcher is so soft-spoken I could hardly hear his dialogue), but Hodson (who is perfect as the villian), Miss Cairo and Killeen more than make up for the play’s faults. And Stewart Who (is that his real surname?) brings a certain stoicism to his role.

And as you enter the theatre before the play starts, you are given a glossary of terms referred to in the play. There were several words in the glossary that I had never heard of before, so I did learn something new by going to see the play ‘The Clinic.’ It’s a perfect setting for a gay play, a place where we’ve all been to.

‘The Clinic’ is now playing at the Kings Head Theatre in London until August 29th.

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04th Jul2015

Bend it Like Beckham (Theatre)

by timbaros

Atk5oQTJwl8oES88UQibHk6goVimhO_4iMzbr3f_GlsDoes a musical version of the hit film “Bend it Like Beckham” work? You bet it does!

The plot from the film is successfully transformed into a fantastic singing and dancing musical with a clever set, memorable songs, superb costumes and an excellent cast.

Natalie Dew is amazing as Jess, a young woman coming of age in a Sikh household in the Asian community of Southall, London in 2002. She loves the game of football, enough so that she’s got two large posters of David Beckham in her bedroom. One day Jess is spotted playing football by Jules (Lauren Samuels, playing the Keira Knightley role from the film) who plays for the Hounslow Harriers team. Jess goes along to one of the team’s practices where coach Joe (Jamie Campbell Bowen) takes in interest in her playing, as well as in her, and Jess decides to play for the team, without telling her parents. She knows that her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra (Tony Jayawardena and Natasha Jayetileke), will forbid her from playing the game that she absolutely loves. Coach Joe feels that Jess is good enough to make the England team, and along with Jules, they urge her to stay in the game, even after her parents do find out. Meanwhile, Jess’s older sister Pinky (Preeya Kalidas) is about to get married to a man whose family thinks that Pinky is not suitable for their son. But all Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra want is the best for their daughters, they worked hard and have provided a good life for them and they want them to continue to live, and follow, their traditional Sikh life. But Jesse has a dream, and she wants to play for England, but will her parents stop her from fulfilling this dream?

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To say the Bend it Like Beckham is a feel good show is an understatement. From start to finish we are treated to a very vibrant and colorful spectacle, the likes which we haven’t seen in the West End in a long time. And the cast is perfect. Drew brings just the right amount of vulnerability and youthness to the role of Jess – it’s like the part was specifically written for her. Kalidas as Pinky brings the show punch, sass, and vavavoom. Jamel Andreas is very good as Jess’s best friend Tony who is perfect for Jess, perhaps too perfect. Other standouts include Sophie-Louise Dann as Jule’s blond mom, she’s sassy, funny and a blond bombshell. And Rekha Sawhney beautifully sings a traditional wedding song called “Sadaa Chardhdi Kalaa” that will mesmerize you. Gurinder Chadha, who wrote and directed the movie, which is set in the pre 9/11 era, also wrote (with Paul Mayeda Berges) and directed this stage version. She’s captured the spirit of Jess and her love of the game that most British people can relate to, and has given us a show that at no point gets boring or drags – it’s dialogue is very witty yet very dramatic. And the whole cast do wonders with it, and with the set that changes from a shopping street, to Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra’s living room, to an actual football field, all cleverly done. And the show wouldn’t have the name ‘Beckham’ in it if he didn’t make an appearance. The actual David Beckham is NOT in the show, but a lookalike is (along with a Victoria Beckham lookalike). Let’s hope the real David Beckham goes to see it, he will absolutely love it.

Bend it Like Beckham is playing at The Phoenix Theatre.

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28th May2015

McQueen (Theatre)

by timbaros

Lee Alexander McQueenFashion Designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February, 2010 at the age of 39. But his work and memory lives on, including in a new play simply called McQueen.

Stephen Wright plays (and looks just like) McQueen, who was one of the most celebrated UK fashion designers of our time. McQueen, though very successful, had a troubled life; drugs, depression, the suicide of his friend and muse Isabella Blow, who practically helped McQueen become the success that he was, and the death of his mother are some of the factors that probably led him to take his own life in his Central London flat on Feb. 11, 2010.

McQueen is written not as a play about his life but more about the journey McQueen took to build his career. The journey is brought on by fictional character Dahlia (Dianna Agron) – the idea taken from McQueen’s 2008 collection ‘The Girl Who Lived in the Tree.’ She’s basically a stalker who breaks into McQueen’s flat. He’s startled at first, but her childlike personality and beautiful looks and curvy body appeal to McQueen in a visual sense.

So McQueen and Dahlia travel through a few important milestones in McQueen’s life; the tailor shop where McQueen got his start and where, on the spot, he makes a dress for Dahlia. They go to his mother’s home, where she is upstairs in bed, sick. And McQueen gets to be reunited with the ghost that is Blow (a smashing Tracy-Ann Oberman), the woman who bought up all of McQueen’s first collection but who still wants to know why he didn’t take her with him to the top, and why did he leave her behind when it was she who made him what he was. In between these pit stops we are visually treated to very slow moving dancers who change the set and morph with, through and in between each other. Visually it’s stunning, you don’t realize the set is changing because the movements are so mesmerizing. But this doesn’t make up for the fact that McQueen the play is a bit too thin and doesn’t provide the theatregoer with a true celebration and story of McQueen’s life.

Wright is amazing as McQueen. In fact he looks exactly like McQueen did in his later years. Wright captures all of his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, including the scene where he instantaneously creates a dress for Dahlia. It’s an excellent performance. Agron as Dahlia is given lots of soliloquy dialogue to recite – is she talking to McQueen, the audience, or to herself? And yes, she does recite, likes she’s reading from a teleprompter. Hers is not a great performance as she’s with the amazing Wright during the whole show. But Oberman practically steals the show from Wright in her all-too brief turn as Bow. It’s a showstopping performance, with Oberman dressed in a sexy negligee. Playwright James Phillips and Director John Caird have produced a play that is weak in biography but beautiful in its presentation, but we’re still left wanting to know more about McQueen and his life and his fashions. We will have to do with the V&A Museum’s Savage Beauty exhibition as well as the highly-acclaimed book about McQueen; Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin, by Andrew Wilson, as well as Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, by Dana Thomas.

McQueen is playing at the St. James Theatre until June 27th:

http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/theatre/mcqueen/

LOGO

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16th May2015

Carrie the Musical (Theatre)

by timbaros

Evelyn Hoskins as Carrie and Greg Miller Burns as Tommy in CARRIE - THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit Claire BilyardA musical adaptation of Stephen King’s supernatural novel Carrie, which was a hit 1976 film, has just opened, and it’s very good!

It’s hard to believe that music could be used effectively to tell the story of Carrie White, a high school student who’s picked on by her fellow classmates. But the songs in the show work, telling the tale of this strange young woman, who lacks self-confidence and has an overprotective and very religious mother, helped by a super-talented cast who look like they have just stepped out of the pages of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue.

Evelyn Hoskins, in the role that made Sissy Spacek a star (as well as receiving an Oscar nomination for her performance) plays White. Timid, meak, and small in stature, she’s not like the rest of the girls in her school.

Carrie the Musical, told in narrative form by one of the girls who survives the climactic ending, opens (as does the film) with Carrie experiencing her first period in the gym showers. She has no idea what is happening to her body, and this gives her female classmates the opportunity to ridicule her, and to call her names, including Scary White. Carrie is angry about this, and uses her supernatural powers to make the lightbulbs explode. Meanwhile, one of the girls videotapes it and soon enough the other students are watching it on their mobile phones.

The female classmates are led by Chris (Gabriella Williams). She’s mean, evil, yet glamorous and very popular. She’s got a ‘thing’ for teasing Carrie, and the rest of her friends follow suit. Carrie is taken under the wing of gym teacher Ms. Gardner (Jodie Jacobs), who makes the girls reluctantly apologize to Carrie. All but Chris apologizes, so Ms. Gardner bans her from the upcoming prom. Chris vows to get even with Carrie. Meanwhile Sue (Sarah McNicholas) feels sorry for Carrie, and feels bad for making fun of her in the locker room. So she asks her boyfriend Tommy (Greg Miller-Burns) to take Carrie to the prom. At first he says no, but then agrees to take her after Carrie is inspired by a poem he had written that he read aloud in class, which is one of the shows most poignant scenes.

Carrie’s mom (Kim Criswell), just about treats her daughter like a small child, not listening to her but praying for her sins and singing religious songs. She’s fanatical yet motherly in a creepy kind of way.

So Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, and she says yes, much to the utter dismay of her mother. There’s no surprise what takes place at the prom if you’ve already seen the film or read the book. Carrie and Tommy go to the prom and Carrie gets blood dumped on her as they stand on stage after being voted Prom King and Queen (with the vote being manipulated by Chris’s gang of girls). Carrie uses her powers to cause mayhem, death, and destruction, and it’s all expertly executed by the cast and crew of the show.

Hoskins is perfect as Carrie. Though while at times her singing is reminiscent of a watching a high school musical, she really comes into her own as the show proceeds, especially after showing some real emotion when Tommy asks her to the prom. As her mom, Criswell is superb. She’s Piper Laurie (who played the mother in the film) with pipes, especially when singing ‘ When There’s No One.’ Williams is fantastic as well. She’s the bully, yet she’s also the beauty. Carrie is William’s professional debut. But Miller-Burns is the standout among the cast. As the young man who takes Carrie to the prom, we see a sparkle in his eye, a richness and emotion to his voice, and he’s the perfect actor to play Tommy, the man every boy wants to be like and the man every girl wants to be with.

The stage becomes, from one minute, the locker room, then a class room, then Carrie’s dining room, to the finale – the school’s gymnasium where the prom is held. The dumping of the blood on Carrie’s head and the mayhem that follows is superbly executed, and extremely intense. Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd has done an amazing job in putting together this production. Carrie the Musical, with music by Michael Gore and Lyrics by Dean Pitchford (of Fame fame), was a big flop when it debuted on Broadway in 1988 and subsequently in an Off-Broadway production in 2012. But with it’s London debut the show looks ready to hit the West End. Let’s hope it does, with the same cast and crew – it’s bound to be a hit.

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27th Apr2015

TheEntertainmentWebsite.com reaches 200,000 hits!

by timbaros

Orange British Academy Film Awards 2010 - Red Carpet ArrivalsTheEntertainmentWebsite.com has reached the remarkable number of 200,000 hits (page views) in just under two years since its inception. It’s an amazing milestone in that there are so many film blogs and film websites out there on the internet; this proves that there is room for one more – one that is unique in terms of content and style, and which stands out from the others.

TheEntertainmentWebsite.com covers film, DVD and theatre reviews, as well as the current Box Office figures, upcoming film releases and West End productions, film awards, and a Film Trailer of the Week. TheEntertaimentWebsite.com also covers breaking entertainment news – including the untimely death of comedienne Robin Williams.

In the two years, TheEntertainmentWebsite.com has covered press conferences for major film releases including Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave and Red 2. TheEntertainmentWebsite.com has also interviewed actor Alan Cumming to discuss his career and the release of his 2013 film Any Day Now. TheEntertainmentWebsite.com has also been invited to attend the London, Sundance, BFI Flare Film festivals, the London Film Critics Awards, the announcement of the 2014 BAFTA nominations, as well as dozens of film premieres and red carpet events. TheEntertainmentWebsite.com was also granted access to Pride Director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford as well as co-star Andrew Scott.

Other interviews granted to TheEntertainmentWebsite.com include ones with David W. Ross, star and writer of the American drama I Do; Stacey Passon – Director of the newly-released on DVD film Concussion: Shane Bitney Crone – Producer and star of the riveting documentary Bridegroom; and Darren Stein – Director of the camp comedy G.B.F.; and several others.

TheEntertainmentWebsite.com was created by Tim Baros in July 2013. Tim also writes for and contributes to Pride Life Magazine and website, The American Magazine and website, www.Hereisthecity.com, www.Blu-Raydefinition.com, TheGayUK online magazine and website. He has also contributed to TNT Magazine and Squaremile.com.  Tim Baros is the UK representative for the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association.

What’s next for TheEntertainmentWebsite.com? Coverage of this fall’s London Film Festival, and to see lots and lots more movies and theatre.

Keep on clicking on TheEntertainmentWebsite.com!!

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13th Apr2015

Olivier Awards – Theatre

by timbaros

images-358Theatre’s big night took place last night at London’s Royal Opera House and it was Sunny Afternoon – a musical about The Kinks musical group – that took four awards at the ceremony. A View From The Bridge, which started it’s life at the Young Vic and which is now playing at The Wyndham Theatre, took three awards including one for Mark Strong for Best Actor. In the highly contested Best Actress in a musical, it was Katie Brayben taking the gong for playing songwriter Carole King in the newly opening musical Beautiful. The show ended with special award winner Kevin Spacey singing Bridge Over Troubled Water with Memphis the Musical’s Beverly Knight.
Complete winners below.

SPECIAL AWARDS
Sylvie Guillem and Kevin Spacey

BEST ACTRESS
Penelope Wilton for Taken At Midnight
Theatre Royal Haymarket

images-359

BEST ACTOR
Mark Strong for A View From The Bridge
Young Vic & Wyndham’s Theatre

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Katie Brayben for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Aldwych Theatre

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
John Dagleish for Sunny Afternoon
Hampstead Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre

MASTERCARD BEST NEW MUSICAL
Sunny Afternoon
Hampstead Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre

VIRGIN ATLANTIC BEST NEW PLAY
King Charles III
Almeida Theatre & Wyndham’s Theatre

THIS MORNING AUDIENCE AWARD
Wicked
Apollo Victoria Theatre

MAGIC RADIO BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL
City Of Angels
Donmar Warehouse

BEST REVIVAL
A View From The Bridge
Young Vic & Wyndham’s Theatre

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Angela Lansbury for Blithe Spirit
Gielgud Theatre

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Nathaniel Parker for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies
Aldwych Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR
Ivo Van Hove for A View From The Bridge
Young Vic & Wyndham’s Theatre

BEST NEW COMEDY
The Play That Goes Wrong
Duchess Theatre

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Lorna Want for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Aldwych Theatre

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
George Maguire for Sunny Afternoon
Hampstead Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre

WHITE LIGHT AWARD FOR BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Howard Harrison for City Of Angels
Donmar Warehouse

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Christopher Oram for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies
Aldwych Theatre

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Gareth Owen for Memphis The Musical
Shaftesbury Theatre

XL VIDEO AWARD FOR BEST SET DESIGN
Es Devlin for The Nether
Duke of York’s Theatre

BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER
Sergio Trujillo for Memphis The Musical
Shaftesbury Theatre

AUTOGRAPH SOUND AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC
Ray Davies for Sunny Afternoon
Hampstead Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AN AFFILIATE THEATRE
Bull
The Maria at the Young Vic

BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION
The Mastersingers Of Nuremberg
London Coliseum

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA
Richard Jones for his direction of The Girl Of The Golden West, The Mastersingers Of Nuremberg and Rodelinda
London Coliseum

BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION
32 Rue Vandenbranden by Peeping Tom
Barbican
&
Mats Ek’s Juliet And Romeo by Royal Swedish Ballet
Sadler’s Wells

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE
Crystal Pite for her choreography in the productions of The Associates – A Picture Of You Falling, The Tempest Replica and Polaris
Sadler’s Wells

BEST ENTERTAINMENT AND FAMILY
La Soirée
La Soirée Spiegeltent

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04th Mar2015

Beautiful – Theatre

by timbaros

Will you Still Love me tomorrow. I feel the Earth Move. You’ve got a Friend. These are just a few songs written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin that are included in the new West End Show Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.

While Carole King might not be known to the younger generation, anyone 50 and older know her, and her music, very well. In the 1960’s she, along with her husband Goffin, wrote dozens and dozens of hit songs including The Locomotion, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, and Up on The Roof. Beautiful tells the story of King’s life, how when she was a young girl and sold her first song to music producer Don Kirshner, to meeting her songwriting partner, and partner in life, Gerry Goffin, to being a single mother as well as a very very successful singer and songwriter. In Beautiful, King is played by the energetic Katie Brayben, from the piano playing right down to the curly hair, the resemblance is very good.

Beautiful covers King’s life from age 16 to the age of 29, when she’s at Carnegie Hall performing ‘So Far Away’ – a hit single from her mega-selling and multiple grammy winning album Tapestry. It’s just Brayben and the piano on stage. The show then goes back in time, the time when teenager King (Brayben) is at home in Brooklyn wanting to go into Manhattan to sell songs to Kirshner, but her mom tells her that she’s not going into Manhattan all by herself. When King does get to Kirshner’s (played by Gary Trainor) office, she meets people there who will be the key players in her life. She meets Cynthia Weil (Lorna Want) and Barry Mann (Ian McIntosh), a songwriting couple, but more importantly she meets Goffin (Alan Morrissey). They start a romance, but King gets pregnant so her and Goffin get married. He loves her, and they literally make beautiful must together – they are at their best when writing songs, and they write some of the biggest hits of the 1960’s. But over time Goffin starts to feel like he’s being tied down and wants to take advantage of their new celebrity status, while King wants them to go home at the end of each day and spend time as a family. It’s a stressful situation for King, and it doesn’t help that Goffin is having mental problems to go along with his infidelity. And this is the plot of Beautiful – the relationship between King and Goffin and their very close friendship with Weil and Mann. But in between this storytelling we get great musical performances by the ensemble in the show – the actors who play the musicians that King and Goffin write songs for. And this is when Beautiful comes alive. The ensemble really lets it rip, and brings life and color to the show when they perform songs such as 1650 Broadway Melody, Some Kind of Wonderful and On Broadway, among others.

Beautiful is a female singer, songwriter, mother, daughter, an American, and British-born Brayben does a fine job in portraying King. Recently seen in American Psycho, Brayben can sing and act, and can hit all the notes, and like King, Brayben writes her own music. Her hairstyle changes throughout the course of the show, most of these styles, however, make her look much older than the character she is playing. Morrissey is fine as Goffin, excited about their love yet still not sure that’s he’s happy or not in their relationship. Want and McIntosh are excellent as their best friends, and even more so when they provide emotional support after King’s breakup of her marriage. The staging of the show is fine, moving from living rooms to recording studios to Kirshner’s offices – but it’s Peter Kaczorowski’s lighting that literally and figuratively lights up the stage. If only the book of the show was as good. By Douglas McGrath, the book is very mundane and not very dramatic – sure we care about King’s life but give us more of the music and razzle dazzle and less of their bickering and conversations. It’s a musical that should be a musical, yet Beautiful plays more like a drama show with bits of music thrown in. But the show redeems itself when near the end, Brayben (as King) and the ensemble bring down the house with the song ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” – it’s a moment when you realize that King really is the greatest female songwriter of all time.

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28th Feb2015

Gods and Monsters – Theatre

by timbaros

James Whale was famous for directing the Frankenstein films. But he’s also known for being the subject of the hit 1996 film Gods and Monsters. Now it’s a play, produced for the first time and currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse theatre.

The play, as well as the film, deals with the platonic relationship Whale has with his gardener in 1950’s Los Angeles. Whale, played by an excellent Ian Gelder, and in the film played by the Oscar nominated Ian McKellan) is a man of older persuasion, a bit lonely who only has his housekeeper Maria (Lachelle Carl) to keep him company. One day along comes young reporter Kay Joey Phillips) who wants to know all about the Frankenstein films. But for every tidbit of information that Whale gives to him, Whale cheekily demands that he takes off a piece of clothing. But reminiscing, not only about his films but also about the time he served in the army reminds him when of he when he fell in love with a fellow soldier. And unfortunately, not all is well with Whale, he’s got some sort of medical problem, which is confirmed when he goes to see his doctor (Will Rastall).

Enter the new gardener Clayton Boone (Will Austin). He’s young, virile, sexy, muscular (perhaps a bit too much), and of course Whale takes a shine to him, asking him into the house for a cup of cold iced tea. Soon enough Whale invites Boone into the house for lunch, then he asks if Clayton would pose for him, as Whale enjoys painting. But Boone makes it clear that it’s only the face that Whale will paint as Boone won’t be taking off his shirt or pose, as he says, “In his birthday suit.” But of course eventually Whale gets him to do so, first topless, but then near the end of the show, in a very dramatic moment, at Boone’s insistence does he take off all of his clothes, asking Whale if this is what he wanted, while Whale is in the midst of one of his attacks. Whale gets his chance to seduce Boone but is unable to do so, and it appears that Boone wants to be seduced. Whale gets his wish, a wish that he has pined for, but is unable to do anything.

Russel Labey, writing an original script for the stage, does a good job incorporating the relationship Whale has, or would like to have, with these young men who come in and out of his life. Labey also smartly executes the wartime flashbacks Whale has that include both Phllips and Rasall playing the younger Whale and his love interest. This production is very well done in it’s small space, and it is Gelder who carries the show. He’s almost a dead ringer for McKellan, very believable in the part and even more so when he’s up to seducing the young boys. The rest of the cast is strong as well, though once Austin takes his shirt off its hard to imagine anyone having bigger muscles than him – to say its a bit distracting is an understatement. The male nudity in this show is not gratuitious – all of the young actors get naked – it’s all part of telling Whale’s story. Gods and Monsters is a well done production – not quite four stars but worthy enough to see.

Gods and Monsters is playing up until March 7th. To buy tickets, please visit:

http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-large/gods-and-monsters/

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28th Feb2015

Superman – Theatre

by timbaros

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no – it’s Superman the Musical.

Playing until this weekend at the Leicester Square Theatre, Superman is not just a musical but it is also a comical look at the man we all know and love as the saviour of Gotham City, preventing disasters and capturing criminals.

Originally produced for the Broadway stage in 1966, and coming directly from Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre where it played last year, it’s transfer to the West End brings with it a set made up of cardboard props, and a cast who mostly struggle with the all encompassing singing, dancing and acting.

Craig Berry plays Superman. Sure, he’s got the look down – the black gelled-back hair and the chiselled chin, but Berry just doesn’t have much stage presence for playing such a larger than life character. Sure, the costume fits him, but that’s about it. Michelle LaFortune doesn’t fare much better. Her Lois Lane is bland. LaFortune can sing, but it doesn’t help when she forgets a line or two.

So what’s the plot you ask? We should know it as we’ve all seen those Superman movies. Lane is in love with Superman but not with Clark Kent, who works with her at the Daily Planet, and you see Clark Kent is actually Superman! Another man in the office – Max Mencken (a good Paul Harwood) – is the office lethario and vies for Lane’s affections, though he’s with Sydney (a good Sarah Kennedy), a clueless co-worker who’s looking for love in all the wrong places. However, when Mencken teams up with Dr. Abner Sedgwick (an excellent Matthew Ibbotson) to devise a plan to turn Superman into an ordinary mortal, one who would obey Dr. Sedgwick’s every command, things don’t look too good for Superman, and it is Lane who happens to fall in love with Dr. Sedgwick’s assistant Jim (Charlie Vose), and forgets all about Superman.

Superman plays like an amateur production (a high school production) with a few talented members of the cast (Harwood, Kennedy and especially Ibbotson), but it’s the ones who aren’t as talented that bring this show down. And the backup dancers do their darndest, all trying very hard to keep things moving (especially the adorable Christine Harris), but they just can’t save this production. Music by Charles Strouse with lyrics by Lee Adams help the show move along, but the end just doesn’t come soon enough.

Off
27th Dec2014

John – Theatre

by timbaros

press a_24 performer_hannes langolf_photographer_hugo glendinningThe term ‘John’ is a word associated with a man who visits prostitutes. It’s also the name of the central character in a show with the same name.

John, now playing at the National Theatre, is an extremely unique theatre experience. The first half of the show is about a man named John. He’s had a hard life, classifies himself as straight, but he goes to gay saunas. The second half of John takes place in a gay sauna where we continue to hear John’s story as well as the stories of other patrons in the sauna, including the owners. So John is a story about men, sex, love, intimacy, and real life.

Lloyd Newson, who conceived, directed, and choreographed John on behalf of DV8 Physical Theatre, had three researchers go to say saunas primarily in London and asked patrons if they were willing to be interviewed. Newson conducted the interviews with just a handful of the men, but one man in particular, John, stood out. And it became clear to Newsom that John would be the central character in his new play.

So the first half of John tells his story. He came from a very disturbed Northern background where his father was a rapist and his mother was an alcoholic. He’d been married, had lots and lots of girlfriends, and two children. He also has a criminal record with 2 convictions. He’s been in prison (where he discovered his homosexuality), homeless for a time, but he turns his life around by getting a degree at the Open University. He goes to saunas to connect to men, not necessarily in a sexual way but more in an emotional way. He wants to be normal, be part of the middle class, be part of a community. And his life is portrayed on stage in a unique way – a revolving stage that revolves as the story is told. Also more unique is that the actors perform physically movements with their entire bodies. They twist and turn and go sideways and bend. And what’s fascinating about this is that they continue to do this the entire show, while at the same time telling the story, bending and moving. So we get a glimpse into John’s life as told by him and he and his fellow actors revolve and bend and tell a story that never once gets boring.

The second half of the show takes place in a gay sauna. There is a very well choreographed bit when three actors constantly undress and dress, several times, but it’s very interesting in how it’s done – it’s al choreographed in a way so that their clothes are moved by another actor to a different area only to be picked up by one of them to get dressed again, and the process repeats itself. We get to meet the owners of the sauna, who tell stories in what they find and put up with in their sauna. ‘They’ tell us that once they found someone dead, a young Portuguese man, and that his mom wanted to pay a visit as she wanted to see where her son had died. They also go into detail about at times finding ‘poo’ in the sauna. It’s actually quite funny when they describe where and how they find it, even in the jacuzzi. There’s also an attendant who gives us a rundown of what’s in the sauna: gloryholes, sling room, so as the stage turns around, we see more of the sauna and more of it’s ‘patrons’. Another man says that he doesn’t care that he’s being reckless or not. And like in any sauna, the men walk around and around and around, ignoring the ones they don’t want to be with and ignoring the ones they want to be with. But it’s the physical movement in the show that makes it very unique. The actors are moving, constantly, in tandem with each other. It’s ballet without the pointy toes.

But John is ultimately about gay men and gay saunas, intimacy and them searching for something they’re not too sure about. And while this show could’ve only been about John’s life story, or a separate show about saunas, John is a show that is so unlike anything you will have seen this year. Kudos not just to Andi Xhuma who plays John but to the entire cast (and Newson) for putting on a show that is really hard to describe but definitely needs to be seen.
John is playing at the National Theatre until January 13, 2015. To buy tickets, click here:
http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/john

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