Michael Coveney’s Blog Has Moved

Welcome to the archieved posts of Michael Coveney’s blog. Michael’s blog has now moved.

To see posts for this blog written after September 2010, please click here to visit the new blog page.

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The Outings Blog Has Moved

Welcome to the archieved posts of the Whatsonstage.com Outings blog. This is where we kept a record of all of the Outings our Theatre Club went on, up until October 2010. We also shared information from the Q&A sessions or meet and greets which we hosted after performances.

To see posts for this blog written after August 2010, please click here to visit the new blog page.

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 462 Comments

Enlightenment – 11 October 2010


Edward Hall launches his very first season as artistic director of the Hampstead Theatre with the UK premiere of Shelagh Stephenson’s modern mystery Enlightenment and last night 75 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers came to see what this first production bodes for the rest of the season.

A clean white stage, minimal furniture and a range of both eerie and everyday projections put the audience distinctly on edge as this upsetting ‘murder’ mystery explores the meaning of materialism in a divided world and middle class fear and guilt. Continue reading

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 632 Comments

Flashdance The Musical – 7 October 2010


Last night over 150 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers made their way to the Shaftesbury Theatre for a night of fantastic dance and classic tunes as iconic 80s film Flashdance comes to the stage as a musical. There’s nothing new about this story – a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a talent (in this case for dancing) overcomes a mixed bag of obstacles to realise her dream – but even if you know how it’s going to end and the dialogue doesn’t make you think it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

Arlene Phillips choreography is dynamic – changing shape and style to suit the varying moods of the piece. One of my favourite moments was in the rehearsal room of the dance studio where Phillips melds classical and modern with great effect. Designer Morgan Large has also proved his worth with a set that incorporates not only moving ‘steel’ walls but projections and mirrors making this production feel truly larger than life. Continue reading

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 849 Comments

Yes, Prime Minister 23 Sep 2010


Over one hundred and sixty theatregoers made their way to Shaftesbury Avenue’s Gielgud Theatre last night for the Whatsonstage.com Outing to Yes, Prime Minister. Written by Jonathan Lynn and Sir Anthony Jay, who both created the television shows Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister some 30 years ago, the play continues to poke fun at the relationship between hapless Prime Minister (David Haig) and his Cabinet Secretary (Henry Goodman).

Speaking to theatregoers throughout the evening it seemed clear that most had seen the television series at some point – if not when they were initially broadcast then by catching the shows, which now seem to be constantly repeated on certain cable channels. Possibly the only person who publicly admitted not seeing the show was our editorial director, Terri Paddock, who gave the excuse of having grown up in America when she introduced the guests for the post show Q&A.

The show itself is a wordy and intelligent satirical comedy which closely follows the television show’s formula. Characters such as Hacker’s principal private secretary, Bernard Woolley (Jonathan Slinger) are still fixtures of the cast, with the main new addition being Claire Sutton (Emily Joyce) as the Prime Minister’s “SPAD” or special policy advisor. The female presence adds a lot to the play, and certainly gives different perspective to the discussions which erupt throughout the play. It also gives another character to back Hacker up against the comically controlling presence of his Cabinet Secretary!

Yes, Prime Minister goes further than the television show ever dared in terms of plot lines, something Jonathan Lynn acknowledged during the question and answer session, saying that what was acceptable to TV audiences of the time, and what can be portrayed on stage now have changed. He was quick to add that he didn’t think there was too much of a difference and that almost all of the material they write about is inspired by real world events!

The post show Q&A session brought an interesting mix of questions to the principals and writer/director Jonathan Lynn. One of the main topics of discussion was how much the issues tackled in the play such as global warming, moral standards, coalition government and the economic crisis mirror what happens at Westminster. Although all those involved in the show made it quite clear that it is not updated to reflect what is happening in the papers on a given day, it seems to be a strange coincidence how much of what is ridiculed by Haig and Goodman on stage draws parallels in the papers on a daily basis.

There were a lot of great photographs taken last night, some of which are in the gallery above. We also started documenting our outings by taking pictures of our theatregoers throughout the night, some of which have been added to the Whatsonstage.com Facebook group which you can find at Facebook.com/whatsonstage.

Please feel free to email any thoughts and comments about the play to feedback@whatsonstage.com. We look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again for joining us for this event and please check the homepage for any future Outings.

Andrew Girvan

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 1,513 Comments

Design for Living – 16 September

Last night Whatsonstage.com theatre club members attended Noel Coward’s 1933 risqué love affair between three friends, Design for Living, at the Old Vic Theatre. Orignally banned by British censorhips after its London premiere in 1939, Design for Living has caused waves after each performance. After 15 years away the show returns to London’s stages under the directions of Anthony Page and a fantastic cast including Tom Bourke, Andrew Scott, and Lisa Dillon. Design for Living held the audience’s attention for its entire two interval, three hour show. With three beautiful set changes designed by Lez Brotherston moving up from a Bohemian studio in Paris to a chic flat in London and finally settling in an exquisite penthouse in New York, the changes of the set brought on its own applause before the third act. Continue reading

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 1,083 Comments

Shoes – 6 September 2010


Over 50 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers made their way across London in spite of the striking Tube to see Shoes at Sadler’s Wells last night. The ‘dance revue’ was a bit of a departure from the mixture of straight plays and musicals that the outings normally attend, but with a score by Richard Thomas, the composer of Jerry Springer – The Opera and direction and choreography by Stephen Mear, whose work has recently been seen in the West End production of Sweet Charity, we were certainly in safe hands.

Exploring mankind – or more accurately womankind’s – relationship with footwear I found the two hours flew by, teaching me an awful lot about shoes on the way. And what a way to learn, the show combined the work of a number of choreographers including Aletta Collins, choreographer of Jesus Christ Superstar, and Kate Prince, the director and founder of ZooNation – the company behind Sondheim street dance re-imagining, Into the Hoods. Continue reading

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 1,328 Comments

Educating Rita – 2 September 2010

Last night Whatsonstage.com theatregoers returned to Trafalgar Studios to see Educating Rita, the second part of our Willy Russel season and not only did we enjoy a fantastic piece of theatre but we were also treated to a really interesting post show Q&A with the two stars.

Like Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita is an exploration into one woman’s search for meaning in life and while Shirley finds meaning on a Greek Island the leading lady in last night’s piece, Rita (Laura Dos Santos) finds meaning through literature and more specifically through studying literature at an open university. Her path of self-discovery is inevitably complex but true to style Willy Russel has made sure that you both laugh and cry throughout this compelling story. Tim Pigott-Smith plays Rita’s washed out lecturer (who once hoped to be a poet) with touching honesty and the chemistry between these two actors makes for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

Following the show Pigott-Smith and Dos Santos both joined us for a relaxed Q&A and let us in on the secret of the shared prop,  why the wanted to be involved in this project and which of the Ritas they like best. A podcast from this Q&A will appear in the news section of the site shortly and are definitely worth a look.

Please do feel free to email your comments and thoughts about the play, as well as any photos you have of the event and the evening through to feedback@whatsonstage.com, we love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining us for this event, and do check the homepage to keep up to date on all of our upcoming Outings.
Laura Norman

Club Manager

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 1,270 Comments

Shirley Valentine – 27 August 2010

Last night a group of 125 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers ventured through the rainy deluge to the Trafalgar Studios. The fight against the inclement weather was, however, more than compensated for by Meera Syal’s outstanding performance in Shirley Valentine. This one woman show, a transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory, is being performed alongside Educating Rita as part of the Willy Russel season.

Meera Syal more than filled the role of Russell’s comic heroine, who combines the laugh-out-loud funny with the achingly poignant. The show sees the Liverpudlian Shirley move from being a couped up chip-cooking housewife to a cocktail waitress in a beach-side Greek taverna, her journey from one to the other peppered with humorous anecdotes. Syal’s comic timing was always spot on – especially so when she encountered unexpected prop hiccups!

Theatregoers were also treated to a post-show question and answer session with Syal and Glenn Walford, the show’s director. The discussion included topics such as the techniques Syal used to learn the incredible two hour one-woman show, the playing of multiple characters and the relevance of Shirley’s story for a modern audience.

Please do feel free to email your comments and thoughts about the play, as well as any photos you have of the event and the evening through to feedback@whatsonstage.com, we love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining us for this event, and do check the homepage to keep up to date on all of our upcoming Outings.

Helena Rampley

Posted in Whatsonstage.com Outings | 1,271 Comments

Another dummy run for The Dummy Tree

Conor Mitchell is one our most promising musical theatre writers, but he shows too many signs of remaining just that.

A new production of his short, sub-Sondheim threnody for lost childhood, The Dummy Tree, playing at the tiny Tristan Bates theatre — situated with significant poignancy opposite the Really Useful Group headquarters in Tower Street — is no more “sorted” a piece than it was at the National Theatre “Connections” season two years ago.

And the conscious echoes of Into the Woods are a little unfortunate as that edgy masterpiece is currently playing — between monsoons — in the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park.

Continue reading

Posted in Michael Coveney | 1,396 Comments