THEATRE TALK: Priscilla Sparkles At Cast Change... While Jersey Boys Prepares
New but certainly not newbies
As cast-change season hoves into view in the West End, everyone from Mamma Mia to Jersey Boys and Wicked is getting in on the act. Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert's new cast debuted on Monday night at the Palace Theatre. With the incredible Tony Sheldon finally departing the role he created - as well as these shores - after four years of playing Bernadette, it was always going to be hard-going for the next man to step into his high heels, but Don Gallagher acquitted himself pretty well on his first outing, particularly sparkling in his moments with John Bowe, the new Bob (Clive Carter is off to Victoria to play the Wizard in Wicked). Of course, this was the first time the new cast had performed in front of a full theatre, so there were a few pacing issues and note mishaps as they adjusted to receiving a response to their lines and dealt with first-night nerves.
You wouldn't expect any less of West End standard performers, but on their first time out (while the first cover Adam, Jon Tsouras, was on for only his third or so time in the role), they really did a great job, and the casual observer would have had no idea that this was, in fact, a mostly-new cast. Given a week or so and some notes, it seems clear this company will sparkle as much as the old. New ensemble member Hugo Harrison said of the evening on his Twitter: "A day of being overwhelmed by support of cards, cakes, flowers txt mesgs, posts and cupkcakes! Great nite, looking forward to a yr of it!"
Meanwhile, Jersey Boys is currently preparing for its own cast change, to take place next week. While popular choice Ryan Molloy remains as Frankie, We Will Rock You's Jon Boydon joins as Tommy DeVito and Eugene McCoy joins as Nick Massi. Boydon, who started a well-intentioned, if little-updated, blog last year, finally updated with a swathe of exciting info about his trip to the real Jersey to research his role.
"The week over in New York was just a fantastic experience," he said. "Joining us for the entire trip was London's Resident Director, Jon Emmanuel; and for the first couple of days we sat around a conference table talking about everything. We had history of New York, Italian migration and settlement, prohibition, employment, housing, wealth, dialect, mafia structure, music, fashion, politics, international events...
"This kind of detail before you even open up a script and start reading is so rich for an actor, it fills in so many of the blanks, and informs so much of the atmosphere of the piece; pure New Jersey gold... it was such a relaxed and energised atmosphere to work in, it was both fun and exhausting, but I was so glad to have something to get my teeth into after all those weeks since I left WWRY."
Stuart Silver rocks my socks
I'd never heard of him before last week, but I must recommend this slightly dishevelled, sweet and surreal comic, who's been about since 2006. He performed part of his new show, which he has just finished writing, at a Battersea Arts Centre scratch on Thursday, and having gone in knowing absolutely nothing, I exited with a firm intention to see him again in the future. Silver, who is performing the full show on March 15th at the London Spoken Word Festival, is like Milton Jones, but more grounded; Bill Bailey, but more surreal. He intersperses his words with fabulous ukelele strumming, at one point lying on the ground and managing to continue as if nothing had changed. I laughed the whole way through, even resorting to silent laughing and yelps of hilarity at some points. Check this man out at his official website.