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    BAZ BAMIGBOYE: There’s a musicals feast in store for Britain’s Got Talent 

    BAZ BAMIGBOYE: There’s a musicals feast in store for Britain’s Got Talent

    Cameron Mackintosh was in his element, sitting in the circle of the Prince Edward Theatre, surveying a 70-strong company rehearse an important lyric change to the Les Miz anthem One More Day, one which transformed it into a declarative One More Show!

    ‘One More Day has become a song of survival,’ the theatre-owner and impresario told me. ‘And, we will survive.’

    Mackintosh and the producers of Britain’s Got Talent had assembled members of the casts from three of Mackintosh’s biggest hits: Les Miserables, Phantom Of The Opera and Mary Poppins.

    Cameron Mackintosh was in his element, sitting in the circle of the Prince Edward Theatre, surveying a 70-strong company rehearse an important lyric change to the Les Miz anthem One More Day, one which transformed it into a declarative One More Show!

    Not a soul got beyond the stage door until they’d undergone temperature checks and had nose and throat swabs taken (me included).

    The segment on BGT will open with Zizi Strallen dropping in from the heavens; then joining Charlie Stemp to perform Step In Time from Mary Poppins. 

    ‘Mary will magically conjure the theatres back to life,’ Mackintosh explained, of what to expect from tomorrow night’s programme (ITV, 7.30pm).

    Killian Donnelly and Holly-Anne Hull from Phantom Of The Opera will sail onto the BGT set in the Phantom’s boat; while Michael Ball — along with John Owen-Jones, Matt Lucas, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Shan Ako, Amara Okereke and Katy Secombe from the Les Miz concert ensemble — will raise the roof with One More Show. 

    And as if that wasn’t enough, Mackintosh promised a finale of wiz-bang proportions, to finish off the night. ‘We will celebrate what it is to perform again!’ he insisted.

    He told me the big West End shows won’t return until April (Broadway probably not until next September), by which time he hoped the social distancing rules would be lifted.

    The major musicals, with their mammoth sets and machinery, cannot operate with a physically-distanced backstage crew, let alone the economic pitfalls of a socially- distanced audience.

    ‘We have to learn to embrace this, as safely as possible,’ he said. ‘The show must go on — life must go on! — or more collateral damage to health and the economy is going to be done.’

    When I suggested that he’d been rather quiet of late — unlike his colleague Andrew Lloyd Webber — he bristled, looked me straight in the eye (the only bit of my face he could see, with my mask on) and retorted: ‘I ain’t been quiet!’

    He said he had been in ‘constant collaborative contact’ with major producers, here and on Broadway, attempting to chart a way forward. He’s also been looking at ideas for smaller-scale shows, to fill the theatres in the run-up to spring.

    Not a soul got beyond the stage door until they’d undergone temperature checks and had nose and throat swabs taken (me included). The segment on BGT will open with Zizi Strallen dropping in from the heavens; then joining Charlie Stemp to perform Step In Time from Mary Poppins

    Not a soul got beyond the stage door until they’d undergone temperature checks and had nose and throat swabs taken (me included). The segment on BGT will open with Zizi Strallen dropping in from the heavens; then joining Charlie Stemp to perform Step In Time from Mary Poppins

    ‘I don’t waste my time until I’ve got something to say,’ he continued. ‘One thing I’ve been consistent on is that I’ve told the truth. I haven’t tried to pretend there’s some rosy-coloured version of events.’ 

    His eight London theatres — all shut — cost £250,000 a week to maintain. And when they re-open, the bills will be even higher. He estimated that the bigger shows would require £2.5 to £3.5 million — apiece — to get back on their feet. 

    ‘I believe they’ll grow again, but we’re in showbusiness, and that’s in the lap of the public, coming back.’

    He said he’d been heartened by the Open Air and the Bridge theatres — and new musical Sleepless — opening for limited runs; and the apparent healthy box office advance for the musical Six.

    ‘People want to go out again!’ he declared. ‘There are green shoots in the theatre … and I want them to be trees.’

    I asked if he and Lloyd Webber were still speaking, given the whispers of tension between them over the future of Phantom in the West End; exacerbated by the development of Mackintosh’s new touring version.

    Smiling, he said that he and the maestro had enjoyed a convivial supper just a few days ago.

    ‘Andrew has been entirely involved with every decision to do with Phantom in London, because he not only co-owns the rights, but he owns the theatre,’ he said, insisting the new version of the musical would be back on at Her Majesty’s before next autumn. Maybe even sooner.

    He added that the composer had caught the touring show in Leicester, before lockdown. 

    ‘He thought it was one of the best productions he’d seen.’

    When I dared to suggest the pair of them behaved, at times, like squabbling siblings, he chuckled. ‘We did three shows together!

    ‘The fact that Cats and Phantom, in their original incarnations, still captivate the world is an extraordinary record.

    ‘I’m thrilled that I’ve given Andrew the two biggest successes of his career — and that he’s written two of the most wonderful musicals that I’ve had the luck to produce.’

    And with that, he got up and left, humming Be Back Soon from Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

    Clark’s secret love on her fantasy island…

    Actress Morfydd Clark said that with everything going on in the world at the moment, she prefers to read young adult fantasy novels, so she only has to deal with the perils of an alternative universe

    Actress Morfydd Clark said that with everything going on in the world at the moment, she prefers to read young adult fantasy novels, so she only has to deal with the perils of an alternative universe

    Actress Morfydd Clark said that with everything going on in the world at the moment, she prefers to read young adult fantasy novels, so she only has to deal with the perils of an alternative universe.

    Even so, the very day that she rang me from Auckland in New Zealand, where she’s been holed up for a year, working on a new Lord Of The Rings TV series, she’d heard from her sister back in Wales that Mati, her toy poodle, had somehow managed to fall off a roof.

    Whaaaat?! She explained that her sister had taken the dog with her to a cafe. ‘She apparently crawled through these railings and ended up falling,’ she told me, adding that Mati’s fine; though her sister may take longer to recover!

    Speaking of scared, I jumped out of my skin when I first saw Clark as the title character in director Rose Glass’s superb film Saint Maud (out in cinemas today), about a fervently religious nurse. It’s an outstanding performance; and means Clark will now surely be on every director’s radar.

    Saint Maud is Morfydd’s third picture to hit cinema screens this year. She’s in Craig Roberts’s recently released Eternal Beauty, and Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History Of David Copperfield, which is still available digitally.

    She told me that her enforced exile means she’s very homesick, but she plans to leave off travelling ‘until it seems sensible and essential for me’.

    She has found comfort in the fact that New Zealand reminds her of Wales. ‘It’s the cragginess,’ she said, wistfully. And though it may be spring there at the moment, ‘for a Welsh person, it’s jumping in the sea weather’.

    When she’s not reading her fantasy fiction, Morfydd can be found distracting herself with the TV series Black Sails, starring Toby Stephens as a pirate, which she’s only just discovered.

    ‘Everybody behaves brutally,’ she said, ‘but also everyone’s absolutely brave in it — the opposite of Succession [the media dynasty drama on Sky], where everyone’s a coward.’

    She laughed and added: ‘Oh, and I’m utterly in love now with Toby Stephens!’.

    Emily Costello will bring her highly praised performance as Tommo, the 17-year-old WWI soldier facing charges of desertion in Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, to the Garrick Theatre for a two-week run starting on November 7

    Emily Costello will bring her highly praised performance as Tommo, the 17-year-old WWI soldier facing charges of desertion in Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, to the Garrick Theatre for a two-week run starting on November 7

    Watch out for…   

    Emily Costello, who will bring her highly praised performance as Tommo, the 17-year-old WWI soldier facing charges of desertion in Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, to the Garrick Theatre for a two-week run starting on November 7. It will be the first new play to open in the West End since March.

    James Demaine has the role of Charlie, Tommo’s beloved brother.

    Costello and Demaine played to acclaim at the Barn Theatre’s outdoor festival in August. 

    Producers Jack Maple and Brian Zeilinger-Goode saw the show in Cirencester, and joined forces with BoxLess Theatre and the Barn, to take it to the Garrick.

    The two actors will play all the characters in the production, directed by Alexander Knott, which will also get four performances at the Bristol Old Vic (from October 21) before heading into the West End.

    Call 0330 333 4811 for booking details. 

    Costello and Demaine played to acclaim at the Barn Theatre’s outdoor festival in August. Producers Jack Maple and Brian Zeilinger-Goode saw the show in Cirencester, and joined forces with BoxLess Theatre and the Barn, to take it to the Garrick

    Costello and Demaine played to acclaim at the Barn Theatre’s outdoor festival in August. Producers Jack Maple and Brian Zeilinger-Goode saw the show in Cirencester, and joined forces with BoxLess Theatre and the Barn, to take it to the Garrick

    Sophie-Louise Dann is taking her socially-distanced cabaret, May I Have A Moment, on the road. 

    First stop is the EMF Theatre in Tonbridge, Kent, on Oct 24; followed by the Everyman, Cheltenham (Nov 7). 

    The show includes numbers from Bend It Like Beckham, Calendar Girls, and other musicals Dann has starred in.

    EMF tickets from box [email protected]

    Sophie-Louise Dann is taking her socially-distanced cabaret, May I Have A Moment, on the road

    Sophie-Louise Dann is taking her socially-distanced cabaret, May I Have A Moment, on the road

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