Love Theatre Day Celebration

It’s the fourth year of Love Theatre Day, a global celebration of all things theatre.

We want to take this opportunity to thank and celebrate all the backstage preparations that make the fantastic world of theatre happen.

To do this in style, we’ve put together an infographic of Opera North’s Kiss Me Kate theatre tour.

It shows how our team of drivers supported the show and made sure all the theatre transport plans went like clockwork.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share what you love about theatre, #LoveTheatreDay.

And if you’ve got a theatre tour coming up and are looking for a theatre transport team, get in touch with us today.

We can provide a quote within 30 minutes of the receiving your request.

Love Theatre Day Infographic

Love Theatre Day infographic

The Rise of the Theatre Talent Show

At the beginning of 2017 the BBC launched Let It Shine; a reality show to find performers for a new, ‘Take That’ inspired musical.

It’s the latest in a long line of similar talent shows that have appeared on British screens in the last decade and which moved on to become theatre tours in their own right.

We thought it would be interesting to look back at previous theatre talent shows and see how well their theatre productions turned out.

Join us on our trip down memory lane, as we relive the highs and lows of this unusual time in television history.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

The theatre talent show phenomenon kicked off with How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Contestants competed for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2006 production of The Sound of Music, and were judged on their performances by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, as well as Doctor Who actor John Barrowman.

Eventually, the finalists were narrowed down to ten hopefuls, who competed for votes each week live on BBC1. The winner was Welsh actress Connie Fisher, who received a six-month contract to play the role of Maria Rainer.

 

Connie’s debut at the London Palladium was warmly received by several newspapers:

 

  • The Guardian said Connie “occupies the Palladium stage with absolute confidence and winning charm”.

 

  • The Independent said Connie was “charmingly natural from the moment she starts to sing” and possessed “a mellifluous warmth, a comforting maternal quality”.

 

  • Variety was less complimentary, saying she was “winningly confident” even if she “lacks originality and the essential vulnerability”.

 

Despite the review by Variety, Connie went on to star as Maria during a UK theatre tour of The Sound Of Music in July 2009, which started in Cardiff before touring to Bradford and Southampton among other places.

 

Any Dream Will Do

The following year, Andrew Lloyd Webber returned to television to find his next star.

The theatre talent show, ‘Any Dream Will Do’, offered a starring role in the 2007 performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, at the Adelphi Theatre in London.

Hosted by the unmatched Graham Norton, the show followed a similar format to How Do You Solve… with twelve Joseph hopefuls reaching the final.

 

The Essex-born Lee Mead won the competition, in the end, receiving the most public votes after nine weeks of live shows.

 

Joseph’s reviews were mixed:

  • Writing for londontheatre.co.uk, Chloe Preece said the props and costumes “look like they came from a charity shop”. She went on to criticise the songs, saying “ ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door to Me’ were the only mildly passable ones”. However, she praised Mead himself, citing his “rich and strong” voice and popularity with the audience.

 

  • The Evening Standard was more complimentary, saying the show “offers a seductive blend of camp, kitsch”.

 

  • The Times said Lee Mead was “both talented and enthusiastic”, while the show as a whole “is a reminder of how splendidly versatile Lloyd Webber can be”.

 

Mead went on to perform as Joseph for 600 shows before appearing as Joseph for the last time in January 2009.

A ‘10 years since Joseph!’ anniversary theatre tour is planned for 2018 with Milton Keynes, Newport and Redditch as key destinations so far.

I’d Do Anything

Andrew Lloyd Webber returned to television for a third time with I’d Do Anything in 2008.

This time the production in the limelight was Oliver!

The search was on for the lead role of both Oliver Twist and Nancy.

Three young hopefuls would go on to play the part of Oliver in the West End, while just one would go on to play Nancy.

 

Blackpool entertainer Jodie Prenger landed the role of Nancy, while the role of Oliver was shared by Gwion Jones, Harry Stott and Laurence Jeffcoate.

The four were joined by   Rowan Atkinson as Fagin, and all of them appeared in the 2009 production at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, which ran for just under two years.

 

Reviews for the show were mixed again:

 

  • Writing in The Guardian, Susannah Clapp described Jodie’s Nancy as “boisterous by strangely bland”.

 

  • While Michael Billington (writing in the same publication) said she “delivers her big number with passionate fervour” even if there were “too many cockney knees-up for his liking”.

 

  • Michael Coveney delivered the most damning verdict in The Independent:  “(…) she can’t act and she doesn’t have the depth of lung power to fill a plastic bag, let alone a West End theatre on a daily basis”.

 

Over the Rainbow

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 4th BBC collaboration followed his search for a Dorothy (and Toto) to star in his 2011 production of The Wizard of Oz.

According to Lloyd Webber himself The Wizard of Oz presented unique challenges, as previous productions had struggled to differentiate themselves from the 1939 film.

Eventually the show opened at the London Palladium, where it ran for 18 months.

 

The show was also unusual in that the winner was eventually replaced by her alternate. Danielle Hope, a 17-year old Mancunian, beat out all ten of her rivals in a grueling eight-week competition.

However, her rival Sophie Evans was brought on to play the role once a week, before replacing Danielle full time in 2012.

Lloyd Webber’s production was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for the Best Musical Revival.

 

  • Writing in the Telegraph, Charles Spencer (self-professed Wizard hater) said Danielle’s Dorothy offered a “thoroughly competent rather than an inspired performance. She sings Over the Rainbow with feeling (…) but she lacks the heart-catching vulnerability of the young Judy Garland”. However, he did also say that fans of the original film would enjoy it.

 

  • The London Evening Standard’s Henry Hitchings was more complimentary, saying Danielle Hope made “a winning impression. Her performance combines innocence with easy charm, and her voice soars”.

 

  • Sophie Evans’ performance was well received by the Oxford Times . Christopher Gray described her as “an actress and singer of the greatest accomplishment”.

 

  • While Karen Price from the Wales Online said she “plays a naive and tender Dorothy who you really want to befriend”.

 

Superstar

The last theatre talent show to hit our screens by Webber was Superstar.

It followed the search for the lead actor in Lloyd Webber’s 2012 production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

This show was marked by a few changes: it moved to ITV, with Amanda Holden presenting it and Jason Donovan, Dawn French and Melanie Chisholm replacing John Partridge, Sheila Hancock and Charlotte Church as the judges.

 

The show was won by Sunderland actor Ben Forster, who benefited from previous experience in productions like Grease and Thriller – Live.

Lloyd Webber’s production premiered at the 02 Arena in London, before going on to Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin and several other venues.

It also saw a high number of celebrity cast members.

Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles played the role of Herod, while Spice Girls member Mel C played the role of Mary Magdalene and Tim Minchin played the role of Judas.

 

The production polarised critics:

 

  • While the Telegraph’s Laura Thompson praised it, citing Tim Minchin’s “weary intelligence’ and Mel C’s ‘lovely relaxed Mary Magdalene”.

 

  • The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner was far less complimentary. She said the show contained “spectacle, but very little variety” and decried the performers’ poor acting abilities.

 

Ready For A Theatre Tour?

Whatever shape your theatre tour takes, Stagefreight is on hand to ensure that the show goes on.

Our trailer selection means we can safely transport props and stage equipment for large and small productions without issue. For productions performing at multiple venues, our staff will help you get on the road as soon as possible, helping you complete your theatre tour with minimal stress.

Don’t forget to visit our Case Studies page. There, you can read about our experiences working with major clients like Opera North.

If you think Stagefreight can help you with your own production, don’t delay; get in touch with us now via our contact page.

The Biggest Theatre Shows of 2017

Learn more about the hottest shows on the horizon

As a theatre transport company, Stagefreight has been involved in some breathtaking stage shows over the years.

There’s nothing quite like seeing someone tread the boards first hand.

That’s why we’re highlighting some of the most exciting theatre shows around the UK.

The Tempest (Barbican Theatre)

The Shakespearean play of magic and misdirection needs no introduction. However, it’s never been performed quite like this; with an actor in a state-of-the-art motion capture suit.

Starring as Ariel in the Barbican Theatre’s production, Mark Quartley’s suit generates a digital avatar that mimics his movements.

The suit’s intricacies are explored in this article, but the lavish sets may be enough to turn your head.

This play is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for younger theatre-goers. Book your tickets from Barbican here.

Mark Quartley and Simon Russell Beale in The Tempest at the Barbican Theatre (Photo: Topher McGrillis, RSC)
Mark Quartley and Simon Russell Beale in The Tempest at the Barbican Theatre (Photo: Topher McGrillis, RSC)

Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre) 

This sung-through musical has exploded in popularity during its American tour. It tells the life story of Alexander Hamilton- immigrant, statesman and Founding Father- via music influenced by both classic theatre shows and contemporary hip-hop.

Shining a light on a vital chapter of American history, the work has received numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, an American composer and actor whose career spans 15 years and numerous awards. He also co-wrote the songs for Moana, Disney’s latest animated musical.

Hamilton is coming to the UK for the first time this November. Playing to sold- out venues across the USA, this is one history lesson you can’t afford to miss.

Visit Ticketmaster for more details and tickets.

Hamilton Musical Poster Victoria Palace Theatre
Hamilton Musical Poster Victorian Theatre

Pagliacci 

If you’re looking for a legend among theatre shows, the new production of Pagliacci may be just what you’re looking for.

This classic Italian opera is a tragic tale of murder and jealousy in two acts.

Combining both tragic and comedic moments, the opera contains some of the medium’s most famous musical pieces.

This production stars Peter Auty as Canio, the original singer of ‘Walking in the Air’ from The Snowman.

Performing at venues across the country including Leeds, Hull and Nottingham, this production has been organised by Opera North.

We’ve pleased to work with them as a theatre transport company, and we heartily recommend this new show.

Book tickets at the Opera North website: https://www.operanorth.co.uk/productions/pagliacci

Also, read all about our work with Opera North in our case study.

Pagliacci Opera North
Pagliacci (Photo:Opera North)

Ghost Dances 

This contemporary dance piece is returning to British stages for the first time in 13 years. Written by Christopher Bruce and first performed in 1981, the theatre show is a tribute to the people of South America and the trials they have endured.

Written by Christopher Bruce and first performed in 1981, the theatre show is a tribute to the people of South America and the trials they have endured.

It also takes inspiration from Day of the Dead imagery and Latin American music.

Ghost Dances’ haunting costumes and powerful emotional themes mean seeing it now is a rare opportunity.

The piece was performed several times in the past through the 80s and 90s. It garnered positive reviews from many different publications including the New York Times, Independent and Evening Standard.

This time the piece is being performed by Rambert, a London-based contemporary dance company. However, they are performing at several venues nationwide; you can buy tickets from their website.

Miguel Altunaga, Carolyn Bolton in Rambert's new revival of Christopher Bruce's Ghost Dances (2016)
Miguel Altunaga, Carolyn Bolton in Rambert’s new revival of Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances (2016)

The Sleeping Beauty

This lavish stage production is inspired by the classic Charles Perrault fairytale.

The timeless story of fairies, princesses and spinning wheels has seen countless adaptations. However, this show from the Birmingham Royal Ballet might be one of the most lavish yet.

Featuring elaborate costumes, gorgeous sets and rave reviews from the Guardian, Times and Sunday Telegraph, this is an exciting yet family-friendly night out.

Book tickets now at the Birmingham Royal Ballet website.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty (Photo: Birmingham Royal Ballet)

These are just a handful of theatre shows you can look forward to in the UK.

We can’t wait to see what the theatre transport side of our business sends our way next!

Don’t forget you can read more about our prior theatre jobs on the Our Work page of the website.