Free theatre performances at West End Live this weekend

If you are in the capital this weekend, you might want to drop by West End Live in Trafalgar Square where the event will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.

West End Live provides two days of free taster performances of shows from London’s West End. Show taking part this year include: The Commitments, Once, Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Pajama Game, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, MAMMA MIA!, The Bodyguard, The Lion King, Stomp, Thriller Live, Jersey Boys, and many more.

A first for this year’s event will see a series of talks with people in the theatre industry. The talks will take place in West End Live’s Theatre Emporium, hosted in a 1920s Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. Scheduled to speak are director Jamie Lloyd and the casts of Handbagged and forthcoming production Shakespeare in Love. 

To mark the significant anniversary, there will be a cabaret performance of ten songs which have been performed at West End Live throughout the last decade.

West End Live is a free and non-ticketed event. The event runs on Saturday 21 June (11am-6pm) and Sunday 22 June (12-6pm); www.westendlive.co.uk.

Matthew Warchus to succeed Spacey at The Old Vic

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic has announced that Matthew Warchus will succeed Kevin Spacey when steps down as the theatre’s artistic director in autumn 2015.

Warchus is currently working as The Old Vic’s artistic associate. In 2008 he directed outgoing artistic director Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in Speed-the-Plow. He has worked on over 70 productions in London and Broadway including Matilda the Musical.

Nick Clarry, chairman of The Old Vic Theatre Trust said of Warchus’s appointment: ‘We are delighted to have appointed an artistic director with the talent and track record of Matthew Warchus. This is a key appointment for The Old Vic, building on the many achievements of Kevin Spacey since 2004.

‘We believe that the next few years will be a very exciting time. Our goals are to continue to develop our artistic programme under Matthew’s leadership, to continue with our outreach work, to establish an endowment fund, and then to redevelop our historic building after the bicentenary in 2018.’

Kevin Spacey said he ‘couldn’t be happier’ with Warchus’s appointment. ‘Matthew is a thoughtful, intuitive and highly creative director and he has rightly been applauded for his work, in particular the quality and diversity of his portfolio. I know he loves our theatre and I am delighted for our staff, our audiences and for our acting and production communities that he will be its next guardian.’

Matthew Warchus said: ‘I am excited and honoured to be following Kevin’s galvanising tenure at this wonderful building. He has re-established The Old Vic as a globally important theatre and I look forward to continuing to develop it as a hub of invigorating creativity.’

Book of Mormon wins big at 2014 Olivier Awards

Book of Mormon: big winner of the Olivier Awards 2014

Book of Mormon: big winner of the Olivier Awards 2014 (Image credit: Johan Persson)

It was a night of twists and turns at the Olivier Awards on 13 April, as the predicted big winners came away with smaller prizes and the underdogs prospered at the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House.

Book of Mormon from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone came away with four prizes, including the coveted best new musical title. They were awarded with best theatre choreographer for Casey Nicholaw, best actor in a musical for Gavin Creel, and best performance in a supporting role in a musical for Stephen Ashfield. Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica also had similar success, collecting three awards for best new play, best director for Lyndsey Turner and best set design, as well as sharing two other prizes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – which looked to follow in the footsteps of Matilda, leading this year with seven nominations –came away with two smaller nods at this year’s awards: best costume design and best lighting design, which the production shared with Chimerica. Fellow nominee leader for the 2014 awards Merrily We Roll Along also came away with just two prizes for best sound design, shared with Chimerica, and best musical revival.

In the acting categories, the best actress title went to Lesley Manville, and best actor in a supporting role was awarded to Jack Lowden, both for Ghosts; Rory Kinnear won best actor for his turn as Iago in the National Theatre’s production of Othello; best actress in a musical went to Once’s Zrinka Cvitešić; and best actress in a supporting role was awarded to Sharon D Clarke for the National’s The Amen Corner.

For the full list of winners and for highlights of the 2014 ceremony, visit www.olivierawards.com.

Theatre Awards UK 2011

Bertie Carvel in Matilda the Musical - winner of Best Performance in a Musical

Yesterday saw the Theatrical Management Association’s 2011 Theatre Awards UK take place at the Banqueting House, Whitehall. The awards, which were relaunched this year, honoured all aspects of the theatre world, from those on stage to the people excelling in the management and promotion of the theatres themselves.

The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre was awarded to Sir Peter Hall in recognition of his remarkable and immeasurable influence upon the shape of modern British theatre. The RSC’s Matilda the Musical – just about to start its run in London’s West End – received two awards – that of Best Performance in a Musical for Bertie Carvel playing Miss Trunchbull (pictured) and Best Musical Production.

Other successes included Edward Hall’s Propeller Productions, who were awarded Best Touring Production for Richard III and The Comedy of Errors, and Michael Sheen (currently starring as Hamlet at the Young Vic) who won the category of Best Director jointly with Bill Mitchell for their work on National Theatre Wales’ production of The Passion.

The award for Best Show for Children and Young People went to White, a Catherine Wheels production, which showed at Theatre Royal, Bath. The production is currently being performed in New York.

The Lyric, Hammersmith were recognised for the Achievement in Marketing, and the Theatre Royal, Stratford East were named Most Welcoming Theatre.