What’s Hot In London in July?

Simon HardingOK, you are coming to London for a theatre break in July and you need something to do during the day. Of course there are the museums and the attractions and the parks,  but July has a few very special events to offer too.

Here are five great ideas of ways you can fill up your days when you come to London – whether you have a show to go to in the evening or you are just down for the weekend!

Summer Streets

Regent Street all Sundays in July 2015

Regent Street Hosts Summer Streets

Experience Regent Street at its best with the return of Summer Streets. Each Sunday will be a different theme. First will be “Garden Party” on 05 July followed by “Health Kick” on 12 July.

Fashion Festival (19/7) and Culture Club (26/7) will cover the third and fourth Sundays – it is just a pity there are not more!

These occasions are an ideal time to shop, dine and have a refreshing drink or two!

Kew The Music

Kew Gardens 07 – 12 July 2015

Kew Gardens is the place to be for one of the coolest summer music festivals. Acts include Paloma Faith, Jools Holland, UB40 and the Specials.

To go with the music you can also pre-order a yummy hamper or pick up some bites from the artisan food stalls and bar… or you can just BYO!

Bastille Festival

Bankside and Borough Market 12 July 2015

Bastille Festival is back for its eighth year at Bankside and Borough Market. Sample some French delicacies, enjoy live music and street performances and take part in a game of boules. For those left wanting more, the festivities will carry on at night with the Bal Populaire.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990

Guildhall Art Gallery 10 July – 24 Jan 2016

The Guildhall Art Gallery celebrates Black British cultural heritage, social and political history. Particular focus will be put on the lives of activists Eric and Jessica Huntley and a number of prominent Black artists will be featured.

Eid Festival 2015

Trafalgar Square, 25 July 2015

Celebrate the Eid festival in Trafalgar Square to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Sample a feast of worldly foods with stalls will be dishing up Malaysian, Turkish, Asian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Indonesian, and Arabic cuisine. Enjoy live music and performance, plus family activities such as face-painting, henna, calligraphy and sports

Stay cool out there!

All the best

Simon

Family Theatre Breaks in London this summer

Family tips - London in the summer

saraHi theatre-goers

Could it be that summer is finally here? I was up in London yesterday evening and it was lovely to wander around in a t-shirt, as were many others, and there’s an amazing atmosphere during the summer months in the capital.

So, why not make use of the long summer nights with a family theatre break to see brilliant kid Matilda the musical at the cambridge theatre londonfriendly shows such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda the Musical, Disney’s The Lion King and Wicked to name but a few and tie it in with a visit to one of the many events or attractions happening in England’s capital city.

Here are a few of my family favourites…

British museum for families in the summerWe love the world famous Madame Tussauds on Baker Street which is currently exhibiting the extra-ordinary Star Wars experience; plus many an hour can be spent looking at the amazing collections of Egyptian and Roman artefacts at the British Museum in the leafy area of Bloomsbury.

In the West End’s centre, Covent Garden, you’ll find the London Transport Museum which will fuel young minds and give them plenty of hands-on activities. For those with a penchant for the bizarre, don’t miss the mind blowing exhibits on show at Ripley’s Believe or Not museum on Piccadilly Circus.

Family tips - London in the summerFor a sight-seeing bonanza made remarkably easy, visit the Southbank for Sealife London Aquarium, the London Dungeons and the London Eye all situated next to each other. Further along past the National theatre, where you’ll find many street artists and second hand book stalls amongst other things, there a zillion & one restaurants to choose from including Strada, Yo Sushi!, Piemaster and Gourmet Pizza Co.

In the South West area of Kensington you will find the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum next to each other – both of which will visually stimulate your child’s brain no end and again these two museums could indeed take between four to six hours to explore fully.

You can add these and many more attractions to your London theatre break this summer when you book online.

So don’t avoid London this summer thinking that it’s a stuffy airless city, it is so vibrant and exciting and a place that will have the kids shouting for more, more, more.

What about booking a break to celebrate Father’s Day?

sarasig

 

X-Factor Stars in London’s West End

Matt Cardle - Memphis theatre breaks

Sara benn
Hi Theatre-goers

I’ve been watching ITV’s the X-Factor on and off since 2005 (the first series completely passing me by) and with the announcement this week that the 2010 X-Factor winner Matt Cardle will be the successor to Killian Donnelly in the role of DJ Huey in the sensation musical Memphis at the Shaftesbury theatre, it made me think about all the other winners and runners ups from the tv talent show who may not be hitting No 1 in the charts but have forged out successful careers in musical theatre.

People often write off X-Factor for making ‘10 second stars’ who, after the obligatory Christmas No. 1, pretty much disappear off the planet, but there have actually been a good number of them who have used their 15 minutes fame to their advantage and not given up on the ‘performing music to a live audience’ dream.

Shayne WardI’ll start with the 2005 winner, Shayne Ward, who after initially having a string of top 20 hits in 2006, fell away into obscurity for a number of years until he popped up as the larger than life character of Stacee Jaxx in the 2011 West End production of Rock of Ages – the 1980’s inspired homage to big hair, blue denim and tight Lycra leggings. He has since dueted with Louise Dearman (Wicked) singing the Oscar winning song Falling Slowly from the musical Once; has toured the UK in the mammoth arena production of The War of the Worlds and has now landed a regular role in Coronation Street. The 2005 runner-up, Andy Abrahams, has recently appeared in the UK touring production of Godspell.

Runner up in 2006 was baby-faced Ray Quinn who was already destined for a life in the performing arts having started his career at a young age in the Channel 4 soap Brookside. But his success on the X-factor proved he could sing as well and he went on to star as Danny Zuko in the West End production of Grease at the Piccadilly theatre. He has since toured the UK extensively with many top-notch musicals including Legally Blonde, Dirty Dancing and The Rise & Fall of Little Voice. In between all that he won the 2009 series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice and was crowned the “All Stars” winner as the ice show came to an end in 2014. The winner in 2006, Leona Lewis, whilst not appearing in a musical theatre production did make her acting debut in 2014 in a musical film called Walking on Sunshine.

One of my all-time favourite X-Factor contestants was Rhydian Roberts who was runner up to Leon Jackson (Leon who???) in 2007. I’m a bit of a sucker for the velvet tones of a tenor voice, so was completely drawn in to Rhydian’s renditions of the Phantom of the Opera and the tear-jerker Somewhere (from West Side Story) during the competition. Rightly so, Rhydian went on to have a successful recording career with two top 20 studio albums and performing in a number of hit musical theatre productions including The War of the Worlds, Grease, We Will Rock You and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. He can currently be seen as Pilate in the UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. I already have my tickets booked!

Alexandra Burke - Edinburgh The Bodyguard2008’s winner Alexandra Burke started off as a pop-princess with enviable chart success, but then went the way as many X-Factor contestants and lay dormant for a number of years before making her West End stage debut as Rachel Marron in the phenomenal The Bodyguard at the Adelphi theatre in 2013. She is now touring around the UK with the same production.

I’ve already mentioned one of my all-time favourite contestants, but in 2009 Rhydian was topped by winner Joe McElderry. Although Joe failed to have chart success immediately after the X-Factor I always thought he should find his way into musical theatre – especially Les Miserables but what do I know? Over the last 5 years he’s released 4 successful studio albums (two of them getting into the top 3) and was the winner of tv reality shows Popstar to Opera Star (Series 2) and Channel 4’s The Jump in 2014. In 2012, he took my advice and began his musical theatre career with a cameo appearance in Dirty Dancing at the Sunderland Empire, followed by a one-off appearance as Tommy in The Who’s Tommy at the Prince Edward Theatre and appeared in Thriller – Live alongside Stooshe and Macy Gray. Joe Mcelderry in The Who's Tommy

This year he reprises his role as Tommy at the Blackpool Opera House for a two week run in September. Again, my tickets plus B&B are booked.

And so we come to 2010 and that year’s winner Matt Cardle who, I thought, did have a very “sellable” voice. I was surprised when he didn’t do as well as predicted in the singles charts. Anyway, he certainly didn’t give up on his musical dream and was picked personally by Memphis star Beverley Knight to take over as her leading man which he will do from 6th July 2015.

Kinky Boots Theatre Breaks in LondonAnd finally, 2011 runner up Marcus Collins has carved out a successful musical theatre career within the UK touring production of Hairspray and will soon be seen in this year’s London premiere of Kinky Boots with Killian Donnelly – that man making way for Matt Cardle.

Now is that a “six degrees of separation” scenario or what?

Well, that blog was a bit of a mini-production in itself! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing it.

Have a great rest of the week

Sara

Matthew Warchus First Season at the Old Vic Theatre, London

Hi Theatre-goers

I was reading with great interest about the forth-coming season at the Old Vic theatre under the new Artistic Directorship of Matthew Warchus who is stepping into the role this Autumn.

Outgoing Artistic Director Kevin Spacey will over-see his last production High Society before vacating the position after an 11 year successful tenure.

rob-brydon 200x200Matthew Warchus, who won an Olivier Award for Best Director in 2012 for Matilda the Musical, will begin his new season directing Gavin & Stacey star Rob Brydon who will lead a mammoth cast of young performers in a new play by Tamsin Oglesby called Future Conditional about Britain’s current educational system. Rob Brydon has also been announced as a member of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and is appearing with the man himself in an adapted French farce called The Painkiller at the Garrick theatre next Spring.

After Future Conditional, Warchus will direct a production of Eugine O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape followed by family fun over the Christmas period in the form of Dr Suess’s classic tale The Lorax which promises ‘theatrical invention, songs and zany humour’.

timothy-spall 200x2002016 brings two star turns in form of Ralph Fiennes in David Hare’s adaptation of Ibsen’s The Master Builder and then Timothy Spall, not best known for his stage work, will star in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker.

Warchus’ inaugural season ends on a high in collaboration with some old friends – namely composer and lyricist Tim Minchin and award winning choreographer Peter Darling (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) who were at the fore-front of the success of Matilda the Musical. They are now throwing their talents into the boiling pot again with writer Danny Rubin to bring us a musical version of the 1993 hit film Groundhog Day which sees a belligerent TV presenter relieve one horrible day in his life over and over again.

With all this to look forward to, it looks like it’s going to be another great 12 months for the Old Vic theatre.

Enjoy the week

Regards

Sara

Spring Awakenings in London

bill bailey

but not Spring Awakenings :-(

Hi Theatre-goers

Hope you all had a good Easter weekend and for those of you still enjoying the Spring break I hope you are being jollied up by the lovely weather.

The month of April has three big openings in the West End with Imelda Staunton giving a critically acclaimed performance in Gypsy which opens officially at the Savoy theatre on 25th April; at the Old Vic theatre Cole Porter’s sophisticated musical High Society opens on 20th April.

damian-lewis american buffaloHollywood comes to town with Damien Lewis and John Goodman leading the cast in David Mamet’s hard hitting yet funny crime drama American Buffalo which opens at the Wyndham’s theatre on 27th April (previews from 16th April).

Finally, the Theatre Royal Bath’s production of Noel Coward’s comedy Hay Fever starring Felicity Kendal and Simon Sheppard opens at the Duke of York’s theatre on 29th April.

bend it like beckhamOnwards to May and there’s the world premiere of new musical Bend It Like Beckham based on the British 2002 comedy film about a young Asian girl fighting against family tradition as she vies for a place on the local women’s football team. It opens at the Phoenix theatre on 24th May (with previews from 15th May).

We also have a revival in the form of The Audience which was last seen in London in 2013 with Dame Helen Mirren playing the pivotal role of Her Majesty. Now another Dame takes steps into the regal shoes in the form of Kristen Scott Thomas. The Audiences opens at the Apollo theatre on 9th May.

Towards the end of June Oscar Wilde’s exquisite comedy The Importance of Being Earnest begins its previews at the Vaudeville theatre on the Strand on 24th June with ITV’s Pirot David Suchet giving an award worthy performance has the intimidating Lady Bracknell. It officially opens on 1st July.

bill baileyIf none of the above appeal to you must be (a) mad or (b) out of the country for the next three months… However, here at Theatre Breaks we like to offer variety and know that not everyone gets as excited as us by musicals, so how about booking early for Bill Bailey’s Limboland tour which comes to the Vaudeville theatre during December – a fantastic Christmas present for anyone who loves their wit very dry or closer to hand are our fabulous Wimbledon 2015 Packages where you are able to watch finals matches on the magnificent No 1 Court.

Now, never say we don’t give you a choice…

Enjoy the week

Regards

Sara

PS check out the Vickster’s review of American Bufallo at https://vickster51corner.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/theatre-review-american-buffalo-starring-damian-lewis-john-goodman/ – has some interesting comments on seats and prices too!