I may have grown up in London, but for the past ten years I’ve been living in a small seaside town on the Kent coast. Picturesque it may be, but quiet and uneventful would also be apt adjectives – especially in the winter months when everything shuts down for the season. One of the things I miss about London is one of its best features: any night of the week, there is always something going on somewhere.
This is certainly true of theatre. In addition to the wide variety of plays and musical that are continuously running in the West End – not to mention the rich choice of fringe theatre – there are a regular offering of theatrical-based events, including cabarets, concerts, fundraisers, galas and, not forgetting, musical revues.
The students of The Musical Theatre Academy (MTA) will be showcasing their talents in the school’s annual revue this March. The MTA, which was name ‘School of the Year’ in The Stage 100 Awards 2012, was founded by principal Annemarie Lewis Thomas in 2009 and has quickly earned itself a reputation as a “truly innovative and forward-thinking college” (Andy Barnes, Perfect Pitch) – hence the nod from The Stage. The MTA is producing a hotbed of future musical theatre stars, with all of their 2011 graduates having secured agent representation and already making a name for themselves: Samantha Hull has performed in Carmen (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre) and A Chorus Line (Tel Aviv); Lauren Austin and Sam Hallion have both performed in Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway theatre, Catford); Kay Victoria Hindmarsh, Erica Birtles and Bethan Forsey were all in new musical Nevermore (Courtyard Theatre) and Ziggie Skward took part in the workshop performance of new musical Van Winkle (Waterloo East Theatre), as well as being a guest vocalist at a variety of cabarets and concerts; most recently opening the winter showcase of Giggin4Good.
The 2012 revue will give people a chance to now see what the current MTA students have to offer. Something Old, Something New features the whole college performing a range of songs and dances from musicals past and present. The revue is being staged by Jack Gunn who has performed in and choreographed in a long list of theatrical productions, and is on the MTA board of advisors. There are sure to be some well-respected industry names in attendance, including stage and screen star Lara Pulver, who is a patron of the MTA. If you’re interested in seeing the next crop of West End talent, then pay a visit to the Bridewell Theatre between 14th-17th March 2012. I’ve already seen what they can do first-hand, having been along to a number of events they’ve been involved in – a mix of MTA students/graduates recently performed in the annual MADTrust event A West End Christmas and perfectly displayed just why the MTA is fast becoming the theatre school of choice.
There are also a couple of cabaret nights coming up which are worth any musical theatre fan checking out. The first is a night of new writing at Soho’s Freedom Bar, a popular haunt of West End performers and regular Monday night home to the popular Kinky Kabaret. Slip Into Your Skin: Songs of David Are celebrates the music of American composer David Are, featuring songs from Walker In Babylon, Never Could Be Any Other Way and a live acoustic set from the man himself from his album, Storytellers Ball. With a writing style described as “Method Man meets The Music Man”, Are’s music follows a very narrative path, complete with hooky melodies and electro-pop storytelling. The night is produced by Conrow Productions, whose last concert, The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt, was a sell-out success – I was there and Reid Gealt’s music, bolstered by the stunning church venue of St Andrew Holburn and coupled with a stellar line-up of West End stars, made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. They put on a great night of entertainment and this new venture is sure to be just as entertaining, helped once again by a selection of top West End talent. David Are will be joined by a number of guest vocalists from London’s West End, including: John Addison (Phantom, Les Miserables); Carl Au (Jersey Boys); Paul Ayres; Sharon D Clarke (Ghost); Liam Doyle (Hairspray, After The Turn); Jenny Fitzpatrick (Ghost); Kelly-Anne Gower (Les Miserables, Blood Brothers); Jodie Jacobs (Rock of Ages); Laura Selwood (Ghost); Carley Stenson (Legally Blonde); Ceili O’Connor (Wizard of Oz) and Jonathan Williams (Les Miserables). You can hear them performing David Are’s songs at Freedom Bar on Sunday 18th March 2012.
Another popular cabaret venue is the Delfont Room at the Prince of Wales Theatre, which is soon to kick off its 2012 cabaret season with a showcase of songs from new composing duo Barry Anderson and Mark Petty in An Evening With Anderson and Petty. Also due to appear there is Legally Blonde star Carley Stenson, currently appearing as Elle Woods at the Savoy Theatre. She is to host the cabaret night Carley Stenson and Friends, having asked a number of her friends from the world of musical theatre to join her for an intimate evening of singing and laughter. Many will know Stenson from the TV soap Hollyoaks, where she played the regular character of Steph Cunningham, but her West End debut in Legally Blonde has earned her critical theatrical acclaim too. She’s no stranger to performing on stage though, having previously played roles in productions all over Britain, including Sandy in Grease, Nancy in Oliver and Princess Amneris in Aida, to name a few. She has also been a member of the musical theatre group Diamond for six years, performing alongside acts such as Lemar and Beverly Knight. Now, whether you’re a fan of her screen or stage career (or both), you can enjoy a fun, relaxed evening of music with Carley Stenson (and friends) just before her time in Legally Blonde ends with the show’s closure on 7th April 2012. Her one-night-only cabaret takes place at the Delfont Room on Sunday 1st April 2012.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Monday 27th February 2012