For theatre fans, London is never short of entertainment. There are venues dotted all over the city offering a variable platter of stagey delights and the West End is a cyclical haven of theatre, constantly refreshing itself to make sure every type of audience is satisfied. Tuesday’s blog was all about previewing the new intake of productions coming to the West End in the month of October, in which I highlighted such particularly anticipatory shows as Tim Rice’s new musical From Here To Eternity and the National Theatre’s The Light Princess, which stars Rosalie Craig and features a score by American singer/songwriter Tori Amos.
It’s not just the big West End productions which can incite excitement in the theatre fan however. I’ve often advocated the independent concerts and cabarets staged by musical theatre stars which take place in London on a regular basis. These events offer an equal level of theatrical entertainment, albeit on a far more intimate scale, and showcase the talent that the West End has to offer in an up-close and personal manner. I’ve been to many such events which feature a wide selection of the industry’s biggest and best performers, from leading men/ladies such as Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Alex Gaumond and Samantha Barks, to the likes of Kieran Brown, Chloe Hart, Scott Garnham and Sarah Lark. Each one of these events has provided its audience with a top-quality night of musical perfection, filled with belly-aching laughter and moving moments of real emotion. In the same spirit of Tuesday’s writings, this blog highlights a couple of concert events coming up in October which I think are a must-see for any musical theatre fan.
The first takes place in just under two week’s time at London’s Hippodrome Casino. Award-wining stage and screen star Richard Fleeshman is making a one-night-only appearance at the venue for a concert performance which marks his return to the London stage. Fleeshman was last in the West End for his starring role in the musical adaption of the hit 1990 film Ghost. He played the leading role of Sam Wheat, a murdered man who remains here as a ghost to protect his fiancé and avenge his death. Patrick Swayze played the same role in the original film. Fleeshman starred opposite Caissie Levy as ‘love of his life’ Molly Jensen, and the pair led the production all the way from its world premiere in Manchester to a successful West End run at the Piccadilly Theatre. He and Levy then travelled with the show when it transferred to Broadway, reprising their starring roles for American audiences at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre until the production’s closure on 18th August 2012.
Ghost The Musical is not the only thing that Fleeshman is known for however. In the musical theatre industry, he also gained recognition for playing Warner in the stage version of Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre and has performed as a special guest vocalist for numerous concert events; he recently appeared at the O2 Arena as part of the cast for American composer Scott Alan’s UK concert. He also has many other achievements to his name outside of musical theatre circles. A teenage role on long-running ITV soap Coronation Street (he played Craig Harris for 4 years) helped him on his way to prominence, with other TV appearances in such shows as Blue Murder, All The Small Things and Soapstar Superstar aiding and abetting his rise to stardom. He was invited to join Elton John as his support act on his 2008 stadium tour, spending a year touring around Europe with the ‘Rocket Man’.
Richard Fleeshman’s concert at the London Hippodrome is a unique chance for fans to experience the talent of this young life live in person. He has previously demonstrated his skill playing both the piano and guitar, and anyone who has seen him perform on stage will know that his vocal ability more than measures up in comparison. Fleeshman is “delighted” to be back performing in London again and his concert, presented by Amzi Entertainment and The Hippodrome Casino, takes place at the Hippodrome on Tuesday 15th October 2013.
His is not the only concert on offer for musical theatre fans in October however. Fleeshman may be flying the flag for West End leading men, but Hannah Waddingham has a flag of her own, representing the ladies of the West End in her own concert performance. She is set to play at the up-and-coming London-based venue of the St. James Theatre later this month, performing with her band in this one-night-only concert.
Waddingham is an award-winning stage actress, winning the WhatsonStage.com Theatregoers Choice Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for her performance as Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2011 revival of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. She is a renowned star of the West End and Broadway stage, having given critically acclaimed performances in numerous musical theatre productions over the years. Her most notable roles are originating The lady of the Lake in Spamalot and playing Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music (for both of which she received Olivier Award nominations), in addition to starring in Into The Woods (The Witch) and the recent Chichester Festival Theatre production of Kiss Me Kate (Lille Vanessi).
Hannah Waddingham and her Band: Live in Concert will be a rare an exclusive performance of some of Waddingham’s favourite songs from the worlds of musical theatre, swing and big band. Speaking about the concert, she said: “I’m so glad to finally be able to sing the songs I love and come and support this gorgeous, emerging new theatre. There is nothing like a live theatre audience, booze in their bloodstream and a fabulous band kicking out the best tunes in the world.” Her concert takes place at the St. James Theatre on Sunday 20th October 2013.
The chance to see both of these celebrated musical theatre stars in concert is one which any self-respecting theatre fan would be a fool to pass up if they were able to attend. Richard Fleeshman and Hannah Waddingham are two hugely talented stage performers who have starred in some of the biggest and best productions of the West End, and you can be sure they will deliver a night of musical entertainment to remember.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 3rd October 2013