Category: London

'Matilda the Musical' wins big at Olivier Awards in London

April 16, 2012 |  7:15 am


"Matilda the Musical," based on the popular book by Roald Dahl, was the big winner at the Olivier Awards on Sunday, scooping up the prize for best new musical plus six other awards. The Oliviers are Britain's highest theater honor, the London equivalent of Broadway's Tony Awards.

The seven wins for "Matilda" was an Olivier record. The musical was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Co. and is playing at the Cambridge Theatre on London's West End. The production also won prizes for direction, by Matthew Warchus; lead actor, for Bertie Carvel; and lead actress, which was shared by the four young actresses who rotate in the musical's title role.

"Collaborators," by screenwriter John Hodge, won the Olivier for best new play. The drama, at the Cottesloe Theatre, tells the story of a writer who is commissioned to write a play about Josef Stalin.

PHOTOS: Olivier Awards 2012

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Apparently stolen photos part of London digital art exhibit

April 13, 2012 |  8:15 am

The term “art thief” has taken on new meaning.

A pair of artists has turned 10,000 private photos they say they stole from 100 hard drives into a public slideshow. The exhibit, on display at London's Carroll/Fletcher gallery, also features intentionally tattered works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons.  

Curator Barbara Rodriguez Munoz told the Associated Press that the show is meant to question public versus private, as well as what falls under the "art" umbrella.

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Olafur Eliasson work rejected by London Olympics

April 12, 2012 |  7:00 am


Officials with the London Olympics have rejected a proposed work by a major contemporary artist, saying that the piece doesn't meet their criteria. As reported by the BBC News, the work was intended to be a centerpiece for the London 2012 Festival, a gathering of artists and cultural groups coinciding with the Summer Games.

Olafur Eliasson -- a Danish-Icelandic artist known for his conceptually grand projects --  was expected to create an interactive installation where people would breathe on behalf of "a person, a movement or a cause" and record it on a website in a personal "breath bubble," according to the BBC News.

But the artist's application for a 1-million pound ($1.6 million) grant for the work has been rejected by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, an organization created by the British government to use National Lottery funds to create infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Eliasson is said to be working a new project, with funding coming from alternate sources.

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Britain's Globe caught in conflict over Israeli theater company

April 11, 2012 |  8:00 am


Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London is in the middle of a political skirmish as a group of British cultural figures is demanding that the company disinvite an Israeli theater organization from appearing at an upcoming festival.

In a recent letter to Britain's Guardian, the group is asking that the Globe withdraw its invitation to Israel's National Theatre, Habima, which is scheduled to perform a Hebrew-language version of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" at the Globe to Globe festival in May.

Among the letter's signatories are Emma Thompson, Mike Leigh, Mark Rylance, Caryl Churchill, Miriam Margolyes and Harriet Walter. The group claims that Habima "has a shameful record of involvement" with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. 

The Globe to Globe festival is part of London's Cultural Olympiad, which will coincide with the Summer Games. The Globe is planning to host a number of Shakespearean productions, each performed in a different language.

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Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas among Olivier Award nominees

March 15, 2012 |  1:55 pm

Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas among Olivier Award nominees .
Jude Law, Kristin Scott Thomas and Paulo Szot are among the nominees for this year's Olivier Awards, the highest theater honor in Britain. The nominations were announced Thursday in London.

Leading the roster are the new musicals "Matilda" and "Ghost," with 10 and five nominations, respectively. Also scoring high are the new plays "The Ladykillers," based on the 1955 movie, and Richard Bean's "One Man, Two Guvnors," with five nominations each.

Rounding out the nominees for new musical are "Betty Blue Eyes," "London Road" and "Shrek." The nominees for new play also include "Collaborators" by John Hodge and "Jumpy" by April De Angelis.

Law received a nomination for his performance in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" at the Donmar Warehouse, while Scott Thomas was recognized for her leading role in a revival of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" at the Comedy Theatre.

Other acting nominees include Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller for "Frankenstein," which was directed by Danny Boyle; Lesley Manville for Mike Leigh's play "Grief"; and Ruth Wilson for "Anna Christie." Szot was recognized for his role in the revival of "South Pacific," for which he won a Tony Award in 2008.

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L.A. Phil's Borda and Bohnett to attend White House dinner

March 14, 2012 | 12:58 pm

L.A. Phil chairman and president attending White House dinner tonight

For David Bohnett, the technology entrepreneur, philanthropist and chairman of the L.A. Philharmonic, Wednesday is a big night. With his guest Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the L.A. Phil, he'll be attending a White House state dinner honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron.

We hope Bohnett remembered to pack his tux, though this wonky blog post from Washington Post tells us this isn't technically a state dinner, which is reserved purely for heads of state (that would be Queen Elizabeth), but rather an official dinner. Either way, we remain impressed and jealous that Bohnett will be serenaded by a live performance from the PM-selected British folk group Mumford & Sons and Obama favorite John Legend.

The full guest list for the dinner -- which will be held in a tent Wednesday night on the South Lawn -- has yet to be revealed but a few invitees have gushed their exciting news to the press, including Damian Lewis from "Homeland" and Hugh Bonneville, the earl of Grantham from "Downton Abbey" fame. Bohnett, Borda and the other guests will be dining on a British-American menu, including the main course, Bison Wellington, made from buffalo tenderloin from North Dakota.

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Opera review: 'Death of KIinghoffer' at English National Opera

March 5, 2012 |  3:54 pm

The Death of Klinghoffer, Alan Opie, Jesse Kovarsky, 3, (c) Richard Hubert Smith
English National Opera mounted the first production in England of “The Death of Klinghoffer” last month. Protests had been promised over the staging of John Adams' opera about the American Jewish passenger who was killed and thrown overboard in his wheelchair on a hijacked Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985. There were fears that performances would be disrupted by demonstrators who felt that the opera expresses elements of anti-Semitism. But on Feb. 25 a mere lone figure showed up with a placard in front of the London Coliseum, ENO’s home.

A week later, when I attended, the picketer had packed up. This was simply a Saturday night at the opera, and one for which there was now some buzz. The reviews were highly favorable of what is an inoffensive, realistic production by Tom Morris, mastermind of “Jerry Springer, the Opera” and “War Horse.”

Despite an unfortunate lack of cultural nuance and context, the theatrically vivid performance of Adams’ intense and moving score makes a strong point. Most important of all, this is probably the right production at the right time. The Metropolitan Opera will ship it to New York in a coming season (no dates have yet been announced), and certainly both companies are eager to avoid the charges of anti-Semitism that have made “Klinghoffer” an operatic hot potato.

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Tour Charles Dickens' London with actor Simon Callow

February 7, 2012 |  9:02 pm

Ian Dickens, great-great-grandson of Charles, talks with actor Simon Callow
Simon Callow knows his way around the classics. Formerly a stalwart of the London stage (the Old Vic), he went on to roles in film adaptations of E.M. Forster's "A Room With a View" and "Howard's End," was Tilney, the master of revels, in the Oscar-winning "Shakespeare in Love," and played a popular character in that classic of romantic comedy, "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

Callow is singularly qualified to take on a giant of 19th century classics, Charles Dickens, who was born 200 years ago Tuesday. Callow has played Dickens in several British TV movies, and reprised the role on two episodes of "Doctor Who."

In this video for the Guardian newspaper, Callow takes viewers on a tour of Dickens' London, from a factory and a warehouse where he was a child laborer, to the offices of his magazine All the Year Round.

"It's remarkable how much of it remains intact," Callow says.

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Charles Dickens' 200th birthday: Ralph Fiennes helps set the stage

February 7, 2012 |  6:27 am

Charles Dickens
Tuesday will be a Dickens of a day. Feb. 7 marks the bicentennial of Charles Dickens birth, and plenty of celebrations are planned on both sides of the Atlantic for the literary superstar. Britain's National Film Theatre is holding a retrospective, and a ceremony will be held at London's Westminster Abbey starring actor-director Ralph Fiennes, who, along with Helena Bonham Carter, will act in the latest film version of “Great Expectations,” out next year.

On this side of the pond, New York’s Morgan Library & Museum is showcasing "Dickens at 200," a collection of the writer’s manuscripts, photographs, illustrations and caricatures. The museum also notes that Dickens, who penned 15 major novels, has inspired more film, TV and stage adaptations (about 320, if you’re counting) than any other writer, even Jane Austen. 

“What sustained his success were these larger-than-life characters he was able to create,” says exhibition curator Declan Kiely. “There were 989 named characters in Dickens' fiction. … He was powerful in depicting childhood experiences, and he wrote childhood characters that adult readers could identify with.”

PHOTOS: Unique Charles Dickens adaptations

All of Dickens' works moved from page to stage in his lifetime, with the author sometimes making cameos. “Dickens was inspiring stage adaptations before the ending of his novels were published,” says Kiely. When the novelist came to the States in 1867 for a reading tour, he was met with a host of East Coast theaters playing his books from Baltimore to New York.

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Theater review: 'The Comedy of Errors' at the Broad Stage

November 16, 2011 |  6:00 am

Comedy of errors

 There are bound to be folks who prefer Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” to his “Much Ado About Nothing” and “As You Like It,” just as there are undoubtedly those who’d rather watch repeats of “Three’s Company” than “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” I can’t count any of these people as friends, but I know they’re out there.

That’s a subtle hint that my response to the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre production of “The Comedy of Errors,” now at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica through Nov. 27, may be tainted by my preference for character-based comedy over situational farce. The play, modeled on a Roman comedy by Plautus, is a gag machine of mistaken identity involving identical twin brothers separated at sea in a freak shipwreck that divided a family neatly in twain.

The spirit of this British touring production, in keeping with the Globe’s relaxed, audience-friendly style, is loose-limbed and winking. No argument there. The confusion wrought when one twin turns up in Ephesus, where the other prosperously resides, encourages a frolicsome attitude. Director Rebecca Gatward, however, daringly takes this one step further, adding her own layer of horseplay to the comedy.

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