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Newsies Review | London Theatre

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Extra, extra! Read all about it! Disney musical Newsies, which began life as a notorious film flop starring Christian Bale and was miraculously reborn as a Tony-winning Broadway show, is finally making its UK premiere at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. Based on the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, its tale of unionising and campaigning for workers’ rights comes at a particularly apt time, as we see industrial action on multiple fronts.That’s an added element to what is already a thrillingly immersive show, with the audience seated on three sides and the “newsies” (kids who sell newspapers) making great use of all the gangways and staircases. They’re constantly dashing into the crowd, either fleeing from the corrupt authorities or furthering their revolution – which kicks off when venal publisher Joseph Pulitzer unfairly raises the price of their bundles of papers in order to increase profits for himself.Leading the strike is veteran newsie and natural leader Jack Kelly, played with a pitch-perfect combination of street-smart charisma and a vulnerable yearning to belong and be valued by rising star Michael Ahomka-Lindsay (also a standout in this summer’s Legally Blonde). Jack voices his dreams in the show’s breakout ballad “Santa Fe”, which Ahomka-Lindsay delivers with spine-tingling conviction.The score, by Disney’s beloved composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, is otherwise on the generic side, but its many stirring anthems (like “Carrying the Banner”, “The World Will Know”, “Seize the Day”) do the job of conveying a gathering storm. It’s a bit like a junior Les Mis. And while that musical was famously built on the barricades, Morgan Large’s monumental set revolves around a giant scaffolding structure that houses the newsies, evokes New York fire escapes, and opens out to reveal singer Medda’s club.Not only that, but set pieces whoosh down from the ceiling or are whisked on by the dynamite ensemble, who turn every scene change into a mini dance number. As for the big numbers, director/choreographer Matt Cole (building on Mark Hummel’s original dance arrangements) has put together a simply jaw-dropping series of routines – the most propulsive, skilful and genuinely surprising that you’ll see anywhere this Christmas.Cole uses an astonishing mix of styles and vocabulary on top of a classical base (à la Jerome Robbins) to convey the toughness of the newsies, but also their youthful enthusiasm: they’re still just kids at heart. Jump rope and leapfrog meet one-handed cartwheels, split leaps, jetés, breakdance moves like whirling windmills, even cheerleading stunts.When they’re in the fight of their lives, they add kicks, stomps and punches too, and when they’re celebrating in the buoyant “King of New York”, we get glorious tap-dancing on tabletops and actual swinging from the light fixtures – aerial work to rival Cirque du Soleil. When the whole ensemble moves as one, it’s a force to be reckoned with, and a fantastic physical expression of the show’s themes: we are stronger together.But I must just pick out one individual to praise. Mark Samaras, who has worked with Matthew Bourne and Crystal Pite, supplies almost otherworldly pirouettes – turn after glorious turn without moving an inch. He leads the seriously impressive balletic sections, but, like the whole fantastic company, adds cheeky rambunctiousness as well.The scale of Cole’s numbers make phenomenal use of the cavernous Wembley Park Troubadour. The more intimate moments of the show are less well served here, and the lyrics often fall victim to an uneven sound balance and the sheer exuberance of the accompanying movement. But then the musical itself is better on generalised feeling than nuance, with Harvey Fierstein’s book telling this David and Goliath tale in big, bold brushstrokes.The romance between Jack and pioneering, quick-witted female reporter Katherine is rather undercooked, but Ahomka-Lindsay and Bronté Barbé add heft to it, making it a real meeting of minds as well as hearts. Barbé also makes her solo number, where she wrestles with how best to write this important story (obviously, I felt seen), a real highlight thanks to her thoughtful character work and pristine, clearly projected vocals.There’s also good work from Moya Angela as the brassy Medda, Matthew Buckett as Jack’s plucky pal Crutchie, Ryan Kobel as thoughtful newcomer Davey, and Cameron Blakely as a sharkish, steely Pulitzer. Plus it’s heartening to see the female ensemble given more to do in the second half.Natalie Pryce’s striking period costumes should spark a rise in flat caps (if they ever went out of style post-Peaky Blinders), and Mark Henderson’s lighting directs our attention in this mighty arena and changes the mood superbly – from vast dramatic shafts of light to an evocative sequence with lanterns.While this underdog tale doesn’t have the most sophisticated of narratives, I can absolutely see its themes resonating with audiences, particularly its inspiring message that the next generation of social justice warriors can change the world. We could do with that hope right now – and with a huge, spectacular show which proves, once and for all, that musical theatre is good for the soul. Seize the day and get your tickets while you can: Newsies is going to be hitting the headlines for all the right reasons.Newsies is at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre through 16 April. Book Newsies tickets on London Theatre.Photo credit: Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre (Photo by Johan Persson)

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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