I stumbled across this cracking comic strip by Cailey on Tumblr. I love social media geekery.


I’m not sure whether I absolutely love this or want to burst out in hysterical laughter. Mark Evans and Siobhan Dillon sound pretty good (albeit with some muted production on this version of the track), but the bit where they try to merge the Ghost storyline with a betrayed-ex-themed pop song is a bit funny.

Anyway, good on them for doing a bit of out-of-the-box promotion. As I was saying about Wicked, I think West End shows could stand to do some fresher and more innovative multimedia marketing – stuff like this is a great way to get attention. I haven’t been back to see Ghost since my visit in previews, but I hope to soon. A great day for musical geekery!

Quite a cool video on the Time Out website talking to the Wicked cast backstage at the Apollo Victoria – lots of facts and PR snuck in, but interesting to any fans of the show, plus nice to see the actors au naturel in the theatre.

Watch the video here (I can’t embed it as it’s Time Out‘s content)

Always love seeing them greenify (I tried it one Halloween – see my Twitter profile pic) and I never knew that Elphaba has a green spotlight as well as her painted hue. I can never understand, though, why they always use that same footage from the German tour production or whatever it is that they use on all the ads and trailers – it’s not even the original cast. You’ve made millions, Wicked HQ – splash out on some footage of your own production!

Makes me want to see it again, for the (whisper it) fourth time. Rachel Tucker is definitely one of the best green girls out there.

Men and musicals

September 30, 2011

If you love musical theatre (and are not a gay man) chances are it won’t enhance your love life. Much has been made of the effect of Disney on girls’ expectations of romance, but what of the good old fashioned musical?

Neeever going to happen

Watching too many musicals when you’re small and impressionable will slowly indoctrinate you into a world of serenades, serendipitous timing and females who just win at life (while delivering some killer soprano.)

Rationally, you know that men aren’t going to walk up and down your street singing about how much they love doing that (My Fair Lady), be your next smokin’ hot but complicated employer (The Sound of Music) or drop all of their friends and debauchery to be your perfect man (Grease/Guys and Dolls).

When bad hair happens to good heroes

But equally, you are left with a lingering disappointment when they don’t spend an evening dedicated to repeatedly singing your name (West Side Story), ditch the blonde cheerleader for the weirdo outcast (Wicked) or love you despite the impending doom of your mutual AIDS diagnosis (Rent).

Avenue Q came too late for me – blokes are infinitely more likely to hand you a confusing mixed-tape or freak out about you morphing into a giant bride monster. But too little too late, musicals – you injected me with beautifully-sung romance and I had no shot at a clear perspective.

The social scene that comes with London theatre is also a weird sci-fi experience, as if a sparkly dictator simply weeded out all of the straight men in a hetero-intolerant parallel universe. Catch a guy’s eye across the stalls bar? He may have a dreamy tan and impeccable shoes, but he’s not looking for a

The tight trousers are a myth too

leading lady. It’s getting so I actually have to schedule designated ‘straight man’ social events to avoid spending my golden years as a fag-hag spinster with two mangy cats called Lloyd and Webber.

Now I’m off to wait for a handsome aristocrat and a sewer-dwelling musical genius to start fighting over me. Have a fabulous anniversary weekend, Phantom fans 😉

Fairytale phenomenon

March 22, 2011

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a beautiful princess was… a little pissed off.

This brilliant Disney parody, Portrait of a Princess (written by hot new composer Michael Bruce) has absolutely made my week.

Our leading lady is the hysterically sharp and subtle Julie Atherton, navigating a less-than-romantic royal existence filled with deadbeat princes, sexual frustration and dwarves. It simply confirms my long-held suspicion that Atherton is the best comedy actress and singer we have in the West End.

There are also some excellent cameos from Legally Blonde‘s Sheridan Smith, Being Human‘s Russell Tovey and even S Club’s Jon Lee at 2:46!

The video was produced by the fabulous Speckulation Entertainment, who I can always rely on for fresh, homegrown musical theatre talent, and has had over 23, 899 hits already.

Join the fun and witness the bits that Disney left out.

Michael Bruce’s album Unwritten Songs, featuring this track, is now available at Dress Circle, Amazon and iTunes.


January 9, 2011

One of the reasons I started West End Geek was that I became increasingly aware of a new breed of theatregoer that was young, enthusiastic and genuinely wanted to spend their money on seeing as many shows as possible. This is a generation that has nothing to do with the fusty, middle-aged white men writing reviews for the broadsheets, but who get excited about new talent, talk in terms of original casts, revivals and favourite leads, and who quite possibly perform themselves, be it Am-dram or training professionally. Joining Twitter last year, I found a buzzing community of people putting out 140-character reviews, reporting from opening nights and sharing news and gossip. This online wave of theatre-geekery has enabled us to come out of the closet, share our love of all things sparkly, perky and camp and discover fabulous voices and performances every day.

YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert

YouTube: hot stuff

Added to this is the wonder of YouTube. There are billions of videos out there by musical theatre fans; some are clever homages to certain shows, some behind-the-scenes nosy, some dodgily-recorded clips of shows. I’m not praising or promoting these bootleg vids, but it is darn useful to confirm whether you want to see a certain new lead, for instance. If you search around for something normal (a Wicked clip, for example) you’ll often find something crazy (someone has genuinely put together an ‘Elphaba-off’ – matching clips of the same ambitious parts of Defying Gravity sung by different actresses).  Here are ten vids you might enjoy – don’t worry, no Rachel Berry-style home performances…

Kerry Ellis and Brian May talk about her recent album, Anthems

Kez and Brian chat about the production process, cut in with lots of clips of her doing her thing. Always good to appreciate someone who is every bit as good live in the studio as the final cut.

Wickeder – Forbidden Broadway

Not strictly video, but this audio clip of the hilarious Wicked parody by the creators of witty cabaret Forbidden Broadway is an absolute geekfest. Not only are the vocalists spot on in their roasting of Idina and Kristin, but the lyrics are phenomenal and the tale of their competition for Broadway darling and Tony Award winner is brilliantly summarized.

Angeline sings Les Miserables

Hilarious because my sisters and I also sang along to this epic musical in the car as little-uns, 5-year-old Angeline gives a strong performance as Convict 1, Javert AND Jean Valjean while listening to the opening of the show. A WEG in the making.

Good Morning Voldemort

What do you get when you cross a crazed Harry Potter fan with a crazed Hairspray fan? This bizarre version of Tracy Turnblad’s belter of a song is oddly brilliant. Even if the miming is slightly hysterical.

Oklahoma Cast do Lady Gaga

Being on tour can do funny things to you. Luckily this cast’s dose of crazy was also ha-ha funny, as they recreated Lady Gaga’s Telephone video almost frame-by-frame. Some exceptional dancing, miming and direction here, a world away from Surrey with the Fringe on Top.

Lea Salonga’s audition for Miss Saigon

This is fascinating as a piece of musical theatre history; Lea Salonga was only 17 when she auditioned for the lead role in Miss Saigon (during the producers’ international search for a young Asian star) and her voice is already so beautiful and pure in this clip. A few months of rehearsal later, you can also see her promotional performance on Wogan as the show opened in 1989.

Legally Blonde on Broadway

Legally Blonde was one of the first musicals to use TV to increase its profile. MTV broadcast the whole production, available in parts on YouTube, and then created a casting show to find the next Elle Woods. This was the first time I’d seen a televised, well-filmed stage show, and I think it really works (without decreasing the appeal of the live version) – when it came to London I knew I wanted to see it.

Prop 8: The Musical

When California’s ‘Proposition 8’ was passed in 2008, revoking the right of same-sex couples to marry legally in the state, there was outrage throughout the entertainment industry as well as the gay community. Marc Shaiman decided to write a witty musical about the issue, and this genius clip stars Jack Black and Neil Patrick Harris among others.

Ghost: the musical preview

This hotly-anticipated musical has truly milked its online coverage, but luckily the songs sound fab. Watch my girl-crush Caissie Levy, Sharon D. Clarke and the creative team showcase the material on this film about their Abbey Road studio sessions.

Cheno on Glee

For anyone else who thought Kristin Chenoweth was the absolute highlight of Glee’s season 1 guest stars, this is a cute little insight into the filming of her first episode. For my all-time favourite, Chenoweth moment, see Taylor the Latte Boy.

The WestEndGeek Quiz

December 29, 2010

To celebrate the festive period, WEG has prepared a little theatre quiz for you – yes, it’s time to get your geek on. And no Googling!

1. What are the names of the three operas performed by the company in The Phantom of the Opera?

2. In Legally Blonde, name two of the reasons which make Callaghan’s legal team wonder if the witness is gay or European?

3. Which of the following was not on Broadway this year?

a) Next to Normal
b) The Scottsboro Boys
c) Little Women
d) Promises, Promises

4) What is the longest-running show currently in the West End?

5) Which show had previously held that title?

6) What do Wicked’s Louise Dearman, Spring Awakening’s Lucy May Barker and Avenue Q’s Paul Spicer have in common?

7) Which main cast member of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert at the O2 was a last-minute replacement?

8 ) Which is the oldest surviving West End theatre and which show is it now home to?

9) Name the theatrical aunt of actresses Summer and Scarlett Strallen.

10) Which iconic theatre role did the mother of pop star Eliza Doolittle create?

11) Which of the following musicals has not spawned a reality TV casting show?

a) The Wizard of Oz
b) Legally Blonde
c) Oliver!
d) Mary Poppins

12) Which show did Wicked’s Alexia Khadime appear in before going green?

13) Name the two Broadway legends that Glee’s Rachel Berry thought might be her biological mother?

14) Which British TV actress went for the part of Baby in Dirty Dancing: the musical, but narrowly missed out?

15) Which of the following actresses was not considered for the lead role in the movie version of Evita, snapped up by Madonna?

a) Meryl Streep
b) Bette Midler
c) Michelle Pfeiffer
d) Olivia Newton-John

Answers to follow. Have a very geeky New Year!