News from the West End

This post has been long in the making. In fact, I started typing on this about three months ago. I feel it hardly deserves the title „news“ anymore but since I’d written most of it down already, I just really wanted to finish and publish this now anyway. There might still be theatre lovers, English or German, who haven’t yet heard of „Inside the West End“ or „Encore Radio“.

I love Social Media, I love Twitter because it brings me all the news I want, it helps me get in touch with interesting people and makes it easy to cross distances. I’ve only been to the London West End once, I’ve only seen one show so far (that was „Matilda“ back in May) but I’d like to think I know quite a bit about it, I know what’s going on, which shows are closing or starting, I know when a cast change is taking place, I know about awards and stuff behind the scenes and sometimes I communicate with people from the West End, actors, performers, shows or people who are in some way connected to the industry.

All that happens via Twitter. Twitter is a great place to get to know stuff and to connect with people. And thus, it was via Twitter that I heard of two very interesting new formats from the world of the West End.
First up is the podcast „Inside The West End“. I’m not generally a lover of podcasts because – unlike listening to music – I have to make time to listen to it. There’s not a lot of things I can do while listening to a podcast if I want to listen closely. But I do make an exception here and there when I come across podcasts about topics that I’m interested in.

„Inside The West End“ is one of those podcasts where I’m very glad to have found out about them. It’s being made by Rob Copeland (whose name was known to me from the „Jesus Christ Superstar“ arena tour and the JCSGlasto movement following the cancellation of the US tour) and Ben Morris (who I didn’t know before but he and Rob have been friends for a long time). They’re both actors, performers, they’ve trained at Mountview, they’ve been in the West End and other productions, they know a lot of people. They – as the name of the podcast might’ve already told you – are taking a look at what’s going on in and behind the scenes of the West End. They talk to people who work in the West End in all kinds of job: Be it a performer on stage, an ensemble member, director, musical director, writer, composer, dancer, choreographer, casting directors. And not just anyone but there are some big names on the list of who’s been on the show so far: From Kerry Ellis, Laurence Connor, Tim Minchin, Summer Strallen to Eva Noblezada, Killian Donnelly, Julie Atherton and many more.

It is really interesting to listen to. There are some recurring topics in each episode, such as what is it like to be in the business, how to get into the West End, or what role social media play for the West End and how they affect the life of an actor. But there’s also a great diversity of topics and questions that are asked: What does directing a play or a musical actually involve? What is it like to be a leading lady or a leading actor? Do you have to be a professionally trained triple threat to make it into the West End? What does the life of an ensemble member at „Phantom Of The Opera“ look like? How does the process of casting a show work and who decides who gets to be in a show and who doesn’t? And maybe most importantly: It is fascinating to learn about the biographies of the people behind those famous names.

„Inside The West End“ is very informative, at times very funny and easy to listen to. It’s as if you’re listening in to a conversation between friends: People come together who all know exactly what they’re talking about and who share a love for theatre, but are at the same time not afraid to point out things in the industry that are going wrong. If you like musicals, are interested in the West End or just want to be well entertained – I can warmly recommend listening to this podcast. You can find out about the different way to listen to the podcast on their website (I’m pretty sure they’re on iTunes, too) and you should of course also follow them on Twitter.

My second recommendation and another very entertaining way to hear about what’s new in the West End is „Encore Radio„. It’s a radio channel „playing songs from your favourite musicals“ (and there’s also the odd Disney song as well). And that’s what it does. If you (like me) sometimes feel tempted to throw your radio out the window because it’s playing the same „in“ or chart-topping songs day in day out and you love musicals, then this is the channel to go to.

There are songs from the classic musicals as well as from shows that are rather new such as „Hamilton“. There are different shows and different presenters, including Kerry Ellis on Saturday afternoons and they alternate all the songs you want to hear with interesting news from the West End. Of course there’s also the regular radio news and weather forecast as well.

You can listen to „Encore Radio“ online via their website/Radioplayer (although that never worked for me, I’m afraid – I always use this website), on DAB in London and the South East or via App for Android and Apple.