The Starling Arts Flock Return to the London Stage!

The Starling Arts Flock Return to the London Stage!

Starling Arts are back in 2017 with a new jam, Black and Teal! Word on the street is that it is going to be their best concert yet. 

Following the success of Abracadabra in 2013, the Starling Arts choirs will once again be performing to a packed out audience at the John McIntosh theatre, West London. The aptly named Black and Teal (coined from the famous company colours) takes place on both 7.30pm on Saturday April 1st and 5pm Sunday April 2nd 2017. Fans are already snapping up tickets, which are on sale via the Starling Arts website!

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A Morning Singing Revolution - Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus was born in June, a collaboration with rock heroes Rockaoke at the brilliant central London venue The Phoenix Cavendish Square. And the interactive morning singing sessions are back, starting again on Tuesday 22nd September at 7.30am. The best way to banish the blues? Belt out a rock anthem with a group of likeminded commuters. Never have you needed caffeine less than after a morning spent singing, so we hope you will set the alarm and join us for the most energising morning you can experience in London! 

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Musicals to see in London in 2014

Wednesday 15th January 2014

Thank you, London theatre, because 2014 is set for some of the most exciting musical theatre programming I’ve seen in the five and half years I’ve lived in this glorious city. I’ve been booking up tickets galore and here’s an insight into what I, and you, can see in 2014.

Off-West End

Down at the gorgeous Menier Chocolate Factory, be sure to catch Candide which has just extended ‘til March 1st. I saw it before Christmas and left with happy tears in my eyes at the glory of this production and Leonard Bernstein’s sublime score. 

I’ve yet to visit the St James Theatre (which opened in 2012), so am excited to have booked several shows for the coming months. Sondheim’s Putting It Together runs ‘til the end of January with an all-star cast including Daniel Crossley and Caroline Sheen and the UK premiere of Urinetown runs from February 22nd - May 3rd. There’s also a limited West End run (at the Duchess Theatre) of the 2013 sell-out production of Tell Me On a Sunday

Urinetown poster. Source: Time Out

In the St James Studio, new musical theatre writers Kerrigan & Lowdermilk can be seen performing their songs on February 8th. Produced by United Theatrical, the production company of actors Stuart Matthew Price and James Yeoburn, this evening of entertainment follows on from Price and Yeoburn’s acclaimed ‘Andrew Lippa in Concert’ at the same venue. I look forward to seeing what other new musical delights these boys, in partnership with the St James, can introduce London audiences to in the future.

For something a little bit different, the new musical of American Psycho is the sell-out success story of the Almeida Theatre and runs ‘til February 1st. Unless you’re willing to queue for day seats or returns, the production is sold-out, but judging by its critical reception, it won’t be the last we see of a singing Patrick Bateman...

Theatre Royal Stratford East is celebrating 50 years since Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshops’s groundbreaking Oh! What a Lovely War with a revival that also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the subject of the musical. The production runs February 1st - March 15th.  Stratford East will also be reviving Theatre Workshops’s production of Lionel Bart’s Fings Ain’t What They Used T’Be  from May 8th - June 8th; my excitement for the year ahead continues!

Come summer, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park will host musical masterpiece Porgy & Bess. Featuring some of the greatest songs by George and Ira Gershwin, this is the sort of show I’ll happily sit through rain for (it’s hard to think of summer when it’s so grey and cold outside...)

Many venues will be releasing their new seasons in the coming weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see what else is in store for later in the year!

West End

The West End is set for some exciting openers, and some intriguing...

I Can’t Sing, the X Factor musical, opens at the Palladium in February. With a book by Harry Hill and an original score by Steve Brown, I’m interested to see whether this show is more than just another profit machine for Simon Cowell. With Cynthia Erivo (who blew me away in The Color Purple last year) in the lead role and Nigel Harmen playing Mr Cowell, the production is in safe hands cast-wise. I’m looking forward to seeing how it sits with the critics, but the audience will undoubtedly be the judges of the show’s longevity. 

I Can't Sing poster. Source: officialtheatre.com

March will see the premiere of a musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre. Starring Robert Lindsay, Rufus Hound and Katherine Kingsley, the production is directed by the fabulous Jerry Mitchell and comes into town following a UK tour. 

Chichester Festival Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Pajama Game will be replacing the not so acclaimed From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre in April. If it’s anything as good as the transfers of Singing in the Rain, Sweeney Todd and Kiss Me, Kate  were, then it’ll continue to prove that Chichester know what they’re doing when it comes to musical revivals (we won’t mention Barnum for now...)

Of course the thing I’m saving all my money for is the return of Miss Saigon which comes to the Prince Edward theatre from May. Cameron Mackintosh’s mega-musical was the show I was a bit too young to see as a kid on a London theatre trip, so I’m super excited for its return (along with just about every other person I know!) Boublil & Schoenberg’s score and that helicopter are sure to see the production run for many years, as they did in the original West End production. Bring it.

What shows are you seeing in 2014? We’re in for a good ride, folks!

Avenue Q: A Musical For Our Generation

Friday 31st May 2013 

Emily writes about her experience of Avenue Q at Upstairs at the Gatehouse 

Avenue Q has always felt to me the musical of our generation. Perhaps it's because I first saw the show in my second year of university, when my resounding concern really was 'what do you do with a BA in English, what is my life going to be?’ 

In the same way that George Orwell used allegory in Animal Farm to talk about very human problems under the guise of the animal kingdom, Avenue Q achieves the same effect using puppets - furry mouthpieces singing their way through our biggest fears - being broke, unemployed, lonely and without purpose. It’s a show that parades as sheer, outrageous fun yet its fluffy hand puppets allow us to talk about things that would make for pretty uncomfortable viewing otherwise. 


Last night I made an overdue, first visit to my local fringe venue, Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, which is currently playing congenial host for the first fringe production of the musical Avenue Q. Produced by resident company Ovations, John Plews has directed, with musical direction by Simon Burrow, and choreography by Grant Murphy. 

The company have wisely called upon original London cast member Simon Lipkin as associate director, and puppet coach Nigel Plaskitt, ensuring this fringe run lives up to its West End big brother, staying loyal to the original puppetry magic created in the larger spaces of the original production. Yet, the imitate fringe setting brings a heightened charm to the piece - there’s no where to hide, and belly laughs were deeper felt than when sat in an anonymous sea of a large dress circle. 

It felt a treat to be so close to these musical performers, with not a bead of sweat or subtle gesture missed. From the front row you can really see how hard the actors are working. This is a real ensemble show, requiring consistent contributions to the collective energy, and some serious chutzpah from the actors. Particular praise goes to the vocally athletic and charmingly comedic Josh Wilmott who doesn’t drop a shot as Trekki Monster and Nicky and the brilliantly cast leading team of Will Jennings and Leigh Lothian, both showing stamina, diversity and natural comedy as Princeton/Rod and Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut. 

I recently listed 5 musicals perfect to take an apprehensive boyfriend to in my blog post Macho Musicals. Avenue Q nearly made my list - and I assure you this production is a serious contender. It’s a top show to convince a theatre skeptic that musicals can entertain, but also provoke, explore and enlighten. 

Avenue Q runs until June 30, so there's still time to see it. If sex sells, then the naked puppet intercourse should leave this run sold out. Visit www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com to buy a ticket. 

Emily