20th August 2013
I received some feedback today from a very respectable theatre website about my upcoming Wilma and Friends cabaret show at St James Studio next Saturday, 31st August. I have decided to answer his question publicly, in-case anyone else feels that by putting on this show I am ‘killing my integrity’.
Question: How can a critic produce a show featuring the performers she has reviewed?
Firstly, I have always said, I am not a critic (well I suppose they say that in these days of social media, everyone is a critic, but I don’t like the word). I am a regular person, who started a little blog to give my thoughts on the shows I go to see.
I wanted to put on a musical theatre cabaret show, because, well why not?! I have been fortunate enough to meet some lovely performers since starting my blog and couldn’t think of a better thing to do than put on a night of musical theatre celebration with some of them singing. I am lucky enough to have a team of people who help me write reviews and so if I feel I have too much of a relationship with one of the actors, I let someone else review it on my behalf.
Wilma and Friends will be a fun night. There will be complimentary sherry for everyone on arrival and a special live Tea With Wilma session, on stage with the performers (Tea With Wilma is an interview section on www.westendwilma.com). Some beautiful music and songs that I hope everyone will know and love.
If in doing this, people think I am “killing my integrity” then so be it, but I hope to see as many of you there as possible to celebrate a love of musical theatre and raise a glass of sherry in its honour!
18th March 2013
Are we happy with a mediocre show these days?
I went to see Billy Elliot tonight and if I’m honest, I found the show sloppy (to say the least).
I sat in row E of the stalls on the end of the row, which I knew was a restricted view and for £20 I didn’t expect a perfect view. I am happy to miss parts of the stage and scenery for that price. However, at no show would I expect to be staring into the wings for the entire performance watching people walking up and down and getting changed. I am not referencing the door that broke and caused a show stop for ten minutes (after which they claimed the problem had been fixed, when actually they had just removed the door in question and replaced it with a curtain) but the set had a big gap in it which meant you could see everything happening back stage. That is not a restricted view, that is a sloppy set. Why would you not place a curtain over the gap at least if this is a nightly occurrence? I tweeted that there had been a show stop and received several messages telling me that was sadly a regular occurrence with this show these days.
Someone asked me today what the biggest differences are between West End shows and Broadway and I said that on Broadway they seem to still take care to ensure things are right. If people are going to pay up to £100 to see a show, corners shouldn’t be cut and problems that can easily be fixed, should be.
I have seen Billy Elliot several times before but tonight made me wonder if west end theatre has stopped caring about putting on the best show possible?’ Are we now content with seeing a mediocre performance?
On the bright side, I did manage to buy my beloved Billy Elliot teddy bear (that has been so well loved it is now in need of renewing). I just hope my bear doesn’t start to fall apart in the same way the show seems to be.
Kristin Chenoweth’s UK Tour cancelled 48 hours before it starts
The hottest story this weekend has been waking up yesterday morning to the news that Kristin Chenoweth’s UK tour (which was due to start on Monday at London’s Coliseum) had been cancelled.
Kristin posted a photo of herself and her suitcase with the quote “Was ready to go. And now completely devastated. I am Sorry to my uk fans. Not a good day. A horrible day”
Tour producers Spekulation Entertainment, who produced Idina Menzel’s UK tour last year have posted a statement on their website saying “We regret to announce that we are unable to present our planned UK tour with Tony and Emmy Award winning star Kristin Chenoweth and that the tour has therefore been cancelled. We are deeply sorry to disappoint Kristin’s many UK fans, who so readily bought tickets to see her in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. We wish to make it clear that the decision to cancel the tour is a result of Speckulation Entertainment’s unforeseen circumstances, and that Kristin is saddened not to be able to perform here as planned. She was looking forward to performing to her sold-out audiences. Ticket holders should contact their point of purchase from 10.00am onwards on Saturday 9th March for a full refund.”
Kristin, who is most well known in the UK for creating the role of Glinda in Wicked the Musical on Broadway, recently hosted the Oscars pre-show party in the US and was looking forward to her own concert tour in the UK. Fans, like myself, are devastated but I for one am easing the pain by going to see Wicked the Musical tomorrow. It won’t be the same as seeing Kristin but is the next best thing!
Is it bad that when I found out the new play Doktor Glas (which opens at the Wyndhams Theatre on 16th April for a three week run) is to be performed in its original language of Swedish (with surtitles in English), I screwed my face up in confusion and my interest in going to watch it plumeted?
Originally performed at the National Theatre of Sweden, Doktor Glas tells the story of a 19th century physician who falls madly in love with the beautiful young wife of a corrupt clergyman. When she confides in him that her marriage is making her miserable, he agrees to help in whatever way he can. Soon Doktor Glas finds himself torn between his passion and his morality, and drives the play towards its shocking climax.
Krister Henriksson is one on Sweden’s most highly respected and admired actors and takes the lead role in this show and so everything points towards this being something well worth going to watch.
I find with Opera that I can’t focus on the piece I am watching because I have to keep looking up at the screen to understand what is being said.
Maybe I should go and see Doktor Glas, for the simple reason that I find it hugely unfair that the only reason I am reluctant is due to the language difference.
20th February 2013
Viva Forever Cast Recording
A week or so ago I told you about the Spice Girls inspired, afternoon tea available at Harvey Nichols. Any mention of tea and my ears prick up and so I had to go back to the Piccadilly Theatre for some cake and a chat with some more of the cast of Viva Forever (the Spice Girls inspired musical).
In a special recording of ‘Afternoon Tea With Wilma’, actor Simon Slater (who plays Mitch in the show) talked about the possibility of a cast recording. “There is very much talk of doing a cast recording. Universal Music who own the songs are still wanting to do an album, we just haven’t had time yet”.
Having seen Viva Forever, I think a cast recording would be wonderful, as some of the Spice Girls songs have been re-arranged for the show and sound lovely. It’s sure to be a real treat for any Spice Girls fan!
Other cast members who had Afternoon Tea With Wilma were Charlotte Walcott, Darren Carnall and Rebecca McKinnis. Look out for the video interview coming soon!
18th February 2013
Award shows, A popularity contest?
When you allow the general public to vote for the winners of awards, it is inevitable that the voting will become contaminated with people who don’t know theatre well enough to recognise each nominee, so they just vote for the one they know. For example, at last nights whatsonstage awards, Michael Ball and Melanie C won best actor/supporting actress in a musical. Both very worthy winners of these awards but it could easily raise the question of whether they are just ‘more famous’ and recognisable names than the others short listed.
7th February 2013
Enjoy a ginger and lemon layer cake with Union Jack decoration; a not so scary chilli chocolate roll with leopard printed chocolate discs; a zesty and energetic orange chocolate chip cake pop, inspired by Sporty’s love of Chupa Chups; a very posh Victoria sponge shopper and a sweet and innocent vanilla and raspberry mousse prepared ‘baby style’.
All Spice Girls sweet treats are complemented by a cured beef and onion chutney poppy seed bagel; smoked chicken and carrot roulade; creamed smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread; an egg mayonnaise bridge roll and winter spiced and plain home made scones with Champagne strawberry jam and clotted cream.
The five show-stopping cocktails are all Champagne based and created by Fifth Floor Bar Manager, Dominic Jacobs, with each drink highlighting the Girls’ most famous traits.
Strawberries are the main flavour of the pink Baby Spice, whilst Posh Spice is a take on a classic Champagne cocktail and Scary Spice has a chilli kick. Tied up in individual bows, from Union Jack to leopard skin.
The VIVA FOREVER! cocktails are priced at £14.50 each.Not the cheapest drink in the world but who can resist having a Spice Girls champagne cocktail? I wonder if they will do me a discount if I have one of each?!
For more information on these delightful looking drinks click here.
I shall certainly be popping along to Harvey Nichols soon to taste them (all)! Maybe I’ll see some of you dears there!
30th January 2013
I’m so excited for LIFT the musical which opens tonight at the Soho Theatre! If you haven’t heard of it then take a look at my Tea With Wilma video interview with ex-Elphaba, Nikki Davis-Jones! You can get £5 off tickets when you enter the code ‘wilmalift’ at sohotheatre.com so there’s no excuse not to see it! I’ll be there on Friday night and so will be sure to tell you all about it!
Tonight I’m off to see Rowan Atkinson in Quartermaine’s Terms. That will be interesting I’m sure! I’ve heard it called the best play of the year so I’m looking forward to it.
Tonight also sees the press night for Rock of Ages in its new home at the Garrick Theatre. I’m sad not to be there personally but one of my reviewers will be, so you can still hear all about it! Lots of people seem to be unhappy at being charged £65 for a restricted view seat recently and so hopefully the theatre will resolve that issue soon for people so they can keep on rocking (but at a fair price)!
So what have I been up to since my last blog? Well, I met Sally Dexter who is playing Simone in Viva Forever last Saturday for tea in her dressing room and it was such fun! We had to re-arrange most of her dressing room so that we could film properly but she liked the new layout so much she decided to keep it how it was! I should take up interior decorating (or furniture arranging at least)! Look out for my hilarious interview with her soon!
On Sunday afternoon I went to Tim McArthur’s birthday party. Tim is an actor, presenter and Radio DJ for The Curtain Up Show, a theatre based radio show which has some great guests. The show is back on air soon so listen out for it! Tim is also doing a week of stand up comedy shows soon called ‘McArthur Parts’ at The Canal Cafe in Paddington. I can’t wait to go along and chuckle along with everyone else!
I have a busy weekend coming up! On Sunday I’m looking forward to seeing
Short Plays by Steven Hevey at the Soho Theatre. Here they will pack 4 different plays into one hour with actors such as Ben Freeman (currently in Wicked) performing. It’s only £5 so why not go along yourself? I’m going to have to duck out just before the end to run through Soho (watch out for me!) and get to St Paul’s Actors Church in Covent Garden for the latest West End Fests charity concert in aid of Cystic Fybrosis. A gaggle of west end performers will take to the stage/altar to belt out some songs and I believe there is even going to be an auction so paddles at the ready!
Check out the competition page of westendwilma.com where you can win some great stuff right now including tickets to The Tailor-Made Man at the Arts Theatre and Rent In Concert!
Anyway, that’s all for now dears. I have show tunes to listen to!
Love and jazz hands,
26th January 2013
I’ve decided to let you in to my diary! My thoughts and musings on what goes on in my little world! A kind of backstage look of what I get up to! I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know what you think of my ramblings!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I arrived back in London from my week of sipping piña coladas by the pool in Spain. I’ve been trotting all around filming new Tea With Wilma interviews, using my lovely new tea cup (have you spotted it in the videos?) people have been calling it the campest thing in the west end but I just think its pretty. Maybe only ladies of a certain age would agree with me?!
I met up with American actress Sarah Galbraith who is going to be playing Florence in the revival of Chess the Musical at the Union Theatre. She was a delight to talk to and despite her freezing whilst filming (the red shine you see in the video is from the heater!) she came up with some cracking answers!
Nikki Davis-Jones who recently left Wicked the Musical after understudying the lead character Elphaba for 2 1/2 years met up with me to talk about the new musical LIFT at the Soho Theatre! This is one show I’m definitely looking forward to seeing as it has a very fresh, British sound to it. Did you notice in my video interview we changed locations? We were evicted from the room we were filming in so that a gaggle of screaming children could do their dance class! We quite happily propped up the bar next door to finish the video, where I felt very much at home! Get £5 off tickets to see LIFT by using the code ‘WilmaLift’ here.
This week I was flattered to be asked if I would be interested in a cameo role in Spamalot at the Playbouse Theatre. If you aren’t familiar with the show, every night someone walks on dressed as a knight and is announced as ‘Sir, not appearing in this show’ at which point they apologise and walk off. A simple role that anyone can do and many people have been! I however, think I would be better off playing one of the dead people on the cart (far more suited to my age!)
I saw Top Hat on Friday night. I’d seen it when it first opened, sitting in the cheapest seats at the top/side. Good for £15 but I couldn’t see a thing and so I wanted to go again and sit in a decent seat! Cheap seats are good because they allow you to see shows you wouldn’t usually pay £60 for (and if you like it, you know it’s worth the money to go again). So I went again and sat near the back of the stalls. Sadly, the seats are arranged so badly that you are staring at the persons head in front of you the whole time and completely missing most of the stage! Sad but it was still enjoyable. I couldn’t help but feel the show has become content and a little sloppy. Microphones cutting out, lines being fumbled and set not working as well as it should. Treat every performance like its the first I say (although I realise everyone has their off days)! As I was leaving the theatre, through the one, small, cramped walkway, someone commented that it was the Ryanair of Theatres! A perfect description but a shame it isn’t reflected in the price!
So much more has gone on this week! I saw The Rocky Horror Show at The New Wimbledon Theatre. A great fun show with a lot of audience partici-pation! I interviewed the lovely Oliver Thornton the next day in his dressing room and he was a delight to talk to. Such a beautiful man, even without the corset! That video is coming soon.
Other interviews I’ve done are with Joseph Davenport (a swing in Matilda) and Kerry Ellis. Kerry is the first person to have had Tea With Wilma for the second time! We had a lovely chat at the new St James Theatre in Victoria. I have a busy weekend on video editing to do, don’t I?!
Anyway dears, I’ll blog again in my diary when I have more to tell you! In the mean time please let me know what you think of this new section of the website! I love getting your feedback.
Love and jazz hands,