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UK Roundup - Sweeney Todd, Tonight's the Night

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Nichola McAuliffe has been causing quite a stir this week, depending on how you see it that is. She wrote a two page article in the Daily Mail about starring in the new musical Murderous Instincts. In it, the actress refers to the producer as having 'a habit of sacking everyone' and exposes that it is under rehearsed with previews cancelled. She finishes the article, which one can only assume is supposed to be read tongue-in-cheek, 'It'll be over by Christmas?'. Whether McAuliffe brings shame on the show or not, she is truthful in what she says – Murderous Instincts is unlikely to have a long life. It's had little publicity, hardly any word of mouth and tickets are £50 – the same as two massive award winners JerrySpringer the Opera and The Producers.


An interesting, enjoyable new documentary series started this week on BBC4. Theatre Biz, which was used as the excuse for why producers weren't showing the Laurence Olivier Awards (they were pooling their resources for this, apparently), is a series of interviews and stories about the West End theatre industry. The focus of this week's programme was the Theatre Royal Haymarket and their involvement with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on Broadway. They had planned to bring it to the West End, but poor box office meant this never materialised. The series has two more episodes at 9pm on Sundays.

Musicals such as Our House and Tonight's the Night, written using existing material, often resort to gimmicks with former band members. Our House saw Madness front man Suggs appear in a lead and now Tonight's the Night will have Rod Stewart's partner Penny Lancaster for its final two weeks (it closes in October). The musical, penned by We Will Rock You author Ben Elton, is based around the back catalogue of the former Faces' star and features such songs as Do Ya Think I'm Sexy and Hot Legs.

Everyone knows that the theatre industry is an unpredictable place, especially when it comes to Sondheim musicals of late (see Assassins, Bounce). So who would have guessed that the 25th Anniversary production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, starring a cast of just nine performers, would transfer from a 216 seater theatre to a new West End space of 380 seats and end up transferring to the New Ambassador's with a total of 450 seats?! Well, perhaps it's not so unexpected - as the production had such talented performers (they all play musical instruments as well as characters) and such a unique concept, word of mouth has been fantastic for the show. Some critics, however, disliked the simplistic staging.


Prepare yourself for another dose of unique origami – Puppetry of the Penis makes a West End return. Carrying the warning "An adults-only, non-sexual show featuring full-frontal male nudity", the show will transfer – again - from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it played at the Pleasance Courtyard. Its previous outing in London, at the Whitehall Theatre, broke all previous box office records. Producers may be hoping for similar success for its three week run at the Apollo Theatre, immediately following Ross Noble's Edinburgh transfer Noodlemeister.

 

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Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include American playwright Rebecca Gilman and he's a big supporter of new writing in Britain. In addition to BroadwayWorld, Jake also writes for BBC.co.uk, Whatsonstage.com and Theatremonkey.com.


 

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