Life after Sunny Afternoon… Part 1

Carly Anderson and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
Carly Anderson and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon.
Photograph by Kevin Cummins.

Of course I’ve already seen Amy Ross in her first outing since leaving Sunny Afternoon in the summer, but now comes the real work following the exodus that was cast change…

Last week saw the first previews of Sunny alumni Carly Anderson & John Dagleish’s new shows: Xanadu & The Winter’s Tale, respectively. Two very different offerings in very different surroundings.

First, on Friday 16 October, was Xanadu at Southwark Playhouse. I admit that I was only excited about the prospect of seeing Carly, as the whole thing sounded far too ridiculous for me to really love. I mean, roller discos? Add to that the Bakerloo line packing up at Lambeth North and making our getting there very difficult, and you’ll understand why I wasn’t in the most optimistic of moods… Also, unallocated seating – not my favourite thing ever, especially when (understandably) there were lots of seats reserved for the cast’s family & loved ones.

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But quite unexpectedly I loved it! I think that owed a lot to a cast full of talent, in particular Carly; I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating that it’s criminal she’s not had a starring role before. Comedy, singing, dancing… She’s off the scale! And the show itself is basically great fun – and just doesn’t take itself at all seriously. You need that sometimes. I’m looking forward to returning in a couple of weeks to review it properly!

Then the next day, Saturday 17 October, saw the first performance of The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick Theatre. This was the one show in the Branagh season that I’d really wanted to see as soon as it was announced – John being added to the cast later this year was just the icing on the cake. Why this play? Never seen it before (actually, given how much I love Shakespeare, I’ve seen embarrassingly little in the theatre) and the story has always interested me. Add to that the best stage direction ever (“Exit, pursued by a bear”) and I’m sold!

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It was pretty good, all in all. I can’t say that it’s my favourite play (very wordy, even for Shakespeare), or that I’m a particular fan of Branagh’s acting – but I liked the setting of the production, and the costumes are exquisite. And John… Wow. He’s just perfect for the role, and the skills on show are remarkable. I’m obviously a bit biased, but the show really did come alive from his first scene (he chucks some snow from dress circle level on the left right at the beginning, but that doesn’t really count!). Singing, accents – even a bit of dancing! He may not be getting the rest he probably needs, but he definitely deserves this part. I hope I can get to another theatre performance of this (I feel the need to review it), and with any luck I’ll get to the cinema broadcast somewhere as well.

Not many of the original cast have new roles lined up yet (at least publicly, and as far as we know), however there have been a couple more announcements recently. Emily Goodenough & Jo Servi are heading up to Birmingham Rep for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – and former understudy Silas Wyatt-Barke has a role in The Lorax at The Old Vic. Both are more family affairs, for the Christmas season.

Also something I’ve just remembered – Tam Williams apparently has a brief appearance in the new Bond film, Spectre. This is released on 26 October, so if you do go to see it keep a very keen eye out for him!

We Afternooners are listening out for news all the time, and obviously there’s one name in particular I’m hoping will pop up on a cast list in the very near future. Patience is a virtue…

Sunny Afternoon cast in rehearsals Photo credit: Kevin Cummins
Sunny Afternoon cast in rehearsals
Photo credit: Kevin Cummins
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