Tag Archives: Ashley Stillburn

Review of The Woman in White – 4 Stars


The Woman in White

Charing Cross Theatre

Reviewed – 4th December 2017


“the cast float around each other with well choreographed ease”


I spent my teenage years with my nose in a classic book, or two, or three, (or four), but I have to admit I never really enjoyed the writing of Wilkie Collins. In latter years I’ve enjoyed adaptations for stage and screen far more than the novels. They brought to life some of his complex characters and amazing plots. Maybe it was the lawyer in him that made his attention to detail so precise, and my teenage attention span that struggled with his prose.


Written in the mid nineteenth century, the book felt like a detective novel, yet that was a genre that barely existed at the time. Having not seen the original production, I was a little wary of how a classic mystery, complete with Victorian ghosts, could be adapted as a musical, even with a score from the capable hands of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Explaining this plot involves untangling deliberate deception, sinister marriages, and questionable morals. It encompasses several journeys, an asylum, a marriage, and an impossible love affair, not to mention mistaken identities, two huge ‘secrets’ and a potential murder/kidnap to juggle! The cast have the unenviable task of ensuring the audience follows the twists and turns of five intertwined, unfurling lives, through David Zippel’s lyrics.

Charing Cross theatre is not a large venue, but Morgan Large’s adaptable set effortlessly glides to separate centre stage to direct your attention left or right, as well as framing action at the back to effectively shield dramatic entrances. The effect is very atmospheric and spacious, I frequently felt I was part of the journey around the stage throughout the story.

The score has been revised for this new production and is performed to perfection by the live orchestra conducted by Simon Holt. The acoustics of this old Music Hall aid the wonderful voices of the cast who float around each other with well choreographed ease. As an ensemble their voices harmonise beautifully, and the lyrics afford some humour to the tale.

The story has many protagonists pivotal to the plot, each presence on stage needs to command attention – and does. There is more than one leading lady and more than one villain at work. And the hero of the piece may just be a heroine. Carolyn Maitland, Anna O’Byrne and Sophie Reeves (Mariam, Laura and Anne) have equally stunning voices. Each sings with the other at some point throughout the show to great effect. Different songs leave you feeling each has out-sung the other until the next number and the dynamic shifts.

Ashley Stillburn, Chris Peluso and Greg Castiglioni work wonderfully as Walter, Glyde and Count Fosco – the latter turning in an amazing comic cameo in the middle of the second act to much applause.

The show has lightened the tone from the original novel without losing the mystery – and with a twist at the end that remains a surprise. The Woman in White with its accomplished cast and tremendous score should be one of everyone’s Christmas shows to see.



Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Darren Bell




The Woman in White

is at the Charing Cross Theatre until 10th February



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Braille Legacy – Casting

Final casting is today announced for the world première of a major new musical, “The Braille Legacy”, the thrilling, true, inspirational and epic story of Louis Braille, a young blind boy who wanted the same chance in life as those who see and ended up improving the lives of millions of blind people around the world.

It is being directed by acclaimed director Thom Southerland (”Ragtime”, “Titanic”, “Grey Gardens”, “Death Takes A Holiday”) and will première at Charing Cross Theatre (Artistic Director Thom Southerland, Managing Director Steven M. Levy) from Monday 10 April to Saturday 24 June.

Joining previously announced Olivier Award nominated Jérôme Pradon (West End credits include the UK premiere of the musical “Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”, Guillaume in “Martin Guerre”, Chris in “Miss Saigon”, Javert in “Les Miserables”, and Judas in the Emmy-winning video of “Jesus Christ Superstar”) are:

Jason Broderick (“Godspell” UK tour, “Anna Nicole – The Opera” Royal Opera House); Tate-Eliot Drew (“My Lands Shore” Ye Olde Rose N Crown Theatre); Will Haswell (“Jersey Boys” West End, Pinocchio in ‘Shrek the Musical” UK tour); Lottie Henshall (“Doctors” BBC1); Sarah-Marie Maxwell (“She Loves Me” Menier Chocolate Factory, “Top Hat” UK tour); Matthew McDonald (“Death Takes a Holiday” Charing Cross Theatre, “Allegro” Southwark Playhouse); Kate Milner-Evans (“Showboat” West End, Carlotta in “The Phantom of the Opera”); Janet Mooney (West End includes “Les Miserables” and “Love Never Dies”); Ceili O’Connor (“Grand Hotel” Southwark Playhouse, “Evita” UK tour); Michael Remick (West End includes “Dirty Dancing” and “The Sound of Music”); Ashley Stillburn (Corrado in “Death Takes A Holiday” Charing Cross Theatre, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables” West End); Jack Wolfe (is making his professional stage debut as Louis Braille); and a child cast featuring Guillermo Bedward, Thomas Brown, Tallulah Byrne, Beau Cripps, Ilan Galkoff, Honey Harrison-Maw, Eliz Hassan, Megan Haynes, Zachary Loonie, Mimi Slinger, Ophir Fifi Tal, William Thompson.

“The Braille Legacy” is the story of a revolution and an heroic fight for independence, with the themes of difference, freedom, hope and love and the triumph of human values over adversity.

In Paris in the 19th century, blind people were victims of profound discrimination. Louis Braille, a bright young mind with a mad dream, arrives at the Royal Institute of Blind Youth, searching for the same chance as everyone else: to be free and independent. But he soon discovers that people and things aren’t always what they first seem. By sheer determination and courage he stumbles upon something revolutionary: a simple idea, a genius invention, a legacy. Two hundred years ago, Louis Braille changed the world by inventing the tactile system of communication, the Braille alphabet, liberating the “People of the Night” and introducing literacy, knowledge and culture to a people who were otherwise trapped. It was their journey into the light.

“The Braille Legacy” has an original French Book and Lyrics by Sébastien Lancrenon, Music by Jean-Baptiste Saudray, with an English translation by Ranjit Bolt. Music Supervision and Orchestrations are by Simon Lee.
The full creative team is: Director: Thom Southerland, Music Supervision and Orchestrations: Simon Lee, Musical Director Toby Higgins, Choreographer Lee Proud, Set Designer: Tim Shortall, Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin, Costume Designer: Jonathan Lipman, Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson, Casting: Stephen Crockett at Grindrod Casting, Children’s Casting: Jo Hawes, Music Preparation: Simone Manfredini, Associate Director Rupert Hands.

The Braille Legacy Ltd by arrangement with
Colbert Entertainment Ltd present

The Braille Legacy

Monday 10 April to Saturday 24 June


Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Matinees Wednesday at 2.30pm
and Saturday at 3.00pm

Audio-Described Performances:
Saturday 27 May at 3.00pm
Monday 29 May at 7.30pm


Ticket prices:
Stalls £32.50
Balcony £22.50
Slips £17.50
Premium seats £39.50

Premium seats are best stalls locations,
and include a programme and a glass of
sparkling wine


The Arches
Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NL

08444 930650