Forbidden Broadway, Menier Chocolate Factory

“Gerard Alessandrini (creator, writer and director) and Philip George (director) bring their multi-award winning satirical musical, Forbidden Broadway to the Menier Chocolate Factory for a limited run only, until 30 August. The show, which recently finished its record-breaking 27-year run in New York makes its first visit to London in 10 years.

The London cast is Anna-Jane Casey, Sophie-Louise Dann, Alasdair Harvey and Steven Kynman. Set designs are by Morgan Large, with costumes designs by Alvin Colt, lighting by David Howe and musical direction by Joel Fram. Forbidden Broadway is presented in association with John Freedson and Harriet Yellin.

The cabaret musical revue, Forbidden Broadway, presents an informal and entertaining look at the history of the American musical theatre, lampooning and spoofing some of the current and contemporary musicals as well as targeting actors, directors, composers and writers. Last seen on our shores 10 years ago, this updated version created especially for the Menier Chocolate Factory, features numbers from some of the best theatre productions seen both on Broadway and in the West End in recent years, including old favourites: The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, they also have their sights set on Hairspray, Avenue Q, Wicked, Jersey Boys, La Cage Aux Folles, Sunday in the Park with George and many more…

Forbidden Broadway was first seen at Palsson’s Supper Club in New York January 1982. Unemployed actor Gerard Alessandrini wanted a showcase for his talents and put together as a nightclub act, a selection of some of the musical parodies of Broadway shows he had written. Lauded by critics and audiences alike Forbidden Broadway has since become New York’s longest running musical comedy revue, winning Drama Desk, Obie and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and recently receiving a Tony Honor.

Forbidden Broadway was last seen in London in 1999 at the Jermyn Street Theatre and later that year the production transferred to the West End to the Albery Theatre, where it enjoyed a sell –out run.

Under the direction of Artistic Director David Babani, and having recently celebrating its fifth birthday, the Menier Chocolate Factory, as well as producing in SE1 at its home theatre, has transferred seven productions to the West End – most recently Maria Friedman Re-Arranged, La Cage aux Folles which is currently playing at the Playhouse Theatre and A Little Night Music which opened at the Garrick Theatre earlier this month. As well as the theatre space, the multi award-winning Menier Chocolate Factory has a restaurant serving pre-theatre and a la carte menus.”

More information and book tickets to see this farcical hit here.

Derren Brown, Infamous

Derren Brown is a wonder, a marvel… a phenomenal human being.

I spent my teenage years cynically mocking my magic-keen brothers and dad as they watched Brown’s shows in amazement, and now, 10 years on, I am in an entirely different predicament – how are these tricks possible?

Infamous is currently on tour around the country. I was lucky enough to see it on stage at the Palace Theatre in London. The auditorium was full of eager spectators and fans. We all watched Derren for over two hours as he put his mentalist mind to work stunning us all. He is wonderfully charismatic on stage and is utterly addictive to witness. Over the evening he performed a variety of tricks each showcasing a different talent. From more logical, deceiving card scams, to ominous medium work. He completed the show with a finale of ‘Dick Brain’ challenges, each more impossible than the last.

I am not able or allowed to divulge further details of this eerily brilliant show, but I would urge you to pay Derren Brown a visit… he is truly one in a million.

Book tickets here.

The Card Shark

I was dubious about the Card Shark show, not knowing what to expect of this unusual and original idea. My curiosity was increased by the unlikely choice of location, a lecture theatre at the Royal Institution in Mayfair.

After a brief delay the card shark, Steve Truglia walked on stage to educate us. The short show focused on the history and culture of card trickery combining clever sleight of hand demonstrations with film snippets about card tricks through the ages.

Charming and friendly, Steve is a brilliant performer and a very talented magician, one of just 300 Associates of the Inner Magic Circle. He is known as one of the world’s foremost close-up magicians – his tricks combine the classic and the inventive. Card tricks can by dry and repetitive, Steve’s performance is accompanied by film and music, to ensure this isn’t the case at Card Shark.

The audience was made up of magic fans of all ages, it is definitely a show for the whole family.  After a quick introduction, Steve demonstrated his impressive sleight of hand; once he knew we were all convinced of his skill he moved onto the more theoretical with video snippets of stories about notorious characters from the world of card gambling and cheating.

Contextualising card trickery within these tales was certainly an unusual way to introduce a crowd to magic and it worked, engaging and involving us all. Steve let us in on several secrets, displaying inventions from past and present that people have used to cheat the odds in their favour. Audience interaction kept everybody on their toes, and ensured an exciting momentum.

Card Shark is the ideal pre or post dinner show, and will certainly work up a mindful appetite for supper, and for card fanatics this is a must, but at £60 a ticket it is not a cheap night out.

Running until 14 October, book here. Tickets start at £25 up to £60.