Tag Archives: Bill Kenwright

Torch Song

Torch Song


Turbine Theatre

Torch Song

Torch Song

 Turbine Theatre

Reviewed – 6th September 2019



“McOnie does a spectacular job of adapting Torch Song for the contemporary stage”


The Turbine Theatre is a brand-new venue set beneath the railway arches south of Battersea Power Station. Exposed brickwork, modern furnishings and large windows reflects the theatre’s desire to create productions with a ‘new energy’ for ‘contemporary audiences’.

What better way then to open the inaugural season with a revival of Harvey Fierstein’s seminal work, Torch Song. Directed by Drew McOnie it tells the story of drag queen Arnold Beckoff (Matthew Needham) and his quest for true love in 1970s Manhattan. He first falls for a confused bisexual man named Ed (Dino Fetscher) who dithers between him and girl-next-door Laurel (Daisy Boulton). Fed up with Ed’s lack of commitment, he starts dating young model Alan (Rish Shah) before tragedy strikes. Years later, he adopts a gay teenager named David (Jay Lycurgo) and attempts to rebuild his relationship with Ed. All the while, longs for the approval of his Ma (Bernice Stegers).

Needham has fantastic chemistry with all his co-stars. Needham and Ferscher are thoroughly convincing in the role of agonised and confused lovers, and Needham’s witty back and forth with Lycurgo is enchanting to watch. Lycurgo brings a great energy to the stage, and Stegers switches effortlessly between the comic stereotype of the overbearing Jewish mother and the wallowing widow. Stegers and Needham’s arguments about love and loss will have the audience on tenterhooks.

The set (Ryan Dawson Laight) is amazingly adaptable. A neon sign hangs above the stage indicating each of the parts in Fierstein’s trilogy  – ‘International Stud’, ‘Fugue in a Nursery’ and ‘Widows and Children First!’. In the first act we see just Arnold’s makeup dresser and two phones. The second act – one bed, though the way in which the actors interact with the space creates the illusion of two separate rooms and beds. The set becomes marvellously elaborate in the third act as the audience is transported to Arnold’s new home. The décor is gaudy and thoroughly 1970s. Bright green counters at the back and a working oven are used by Ed to make an unappealing breakfast of eggs, onions and kippers on stage.

The apartment set is dismantled seamlessly to transform into the street outside. Low blue light and cold air pumped into the audience tells us it is night. The lighting (James Whiteside) is used well elsewhere too, notably, to create the dingy surroundings of a nightclub’s ‘backroom’ where men engage in anonymous sex.

Torch Song is both touching and raucously funny. The characters are flawed but entirely relatable due to this, and the script is excellent. The play’s issues of love, loss and acceptance are still relevant today making Fierstein’s work a timeless insight into the human condition. McOnie does a spectacular job of adapting Torch Song for the contemporary stage and this is definitely a production worth shouting about.



Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Mark Senior


Torch Song

Turbine Theatre until 13th October


Previous shows covered by this reviewer:
The Knot | ★★★★ | Old Red Lion Theatre | June 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | June 2019
50 Years Of LGBT/Pride Panel And Discussion | ★★★★ | h Club | July 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | The Bunker | July 2019
The Falcon’s Malteser | ★★★★★ | The Vaults | July 2019
Type On Paper | ★★★★ | Tabard Theatre | July 2019
Camp | ★★★ | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | August 2019
Towards Zero | ★★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | August 2019


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Cilla the Musical







Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield present the new musical about the life and legend of Cilla Black, which will open in her hometown at the Liverpool Empire from Thursday 7th – 16th September before embarking on a nationwide tour. Cilla’s son, Robert Willis, will be the Executive Producer.

Cilla – The Musical, is a spectacular and heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed ITV mini-series based on the early life of Cilla Black, by BAFTA award winner, Jeff Pope (The Moorside, Philomena, From The Cradle To The Grave, Mrs Biggs).

The story follows the extraordinary life of the ordinary teenage girl from Liverpool, Priscilla White, and her rocky, yet incredible, rise to fame. By the age of just 25 she was recognized as international singing star Cilla Black. By the age of 30 she had become Britain’s favorite television entertainer headlining series’ of Blind Date, Surprise Surprise and many more.

The musical score will be the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s including Cilla’s greatest hits – Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me, alongside a backdrop of the legendary “Liverpool Sound” including the Beatles’ Twist and Shout, and American influences like California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas and many more.


The producers of Cilla The Musical will hold national open auditions in the hunt to discover their ‘Cilla’ in the same way the star herself was plucked from obscurity before becoming the iconic Liverpudlian songbird.


Cilla The Musical is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield, alongside Executive Producer Robert Willis.



Tour Details 







 7 – 16 September 

Liverpool Empire Theatre


0844 871 3017


19 – 23 September

Edinburgh Playhouse


0844 871 3014


26 – 30 September

Milton Keynes Theatre


0844 871 7627


3 – 7 October

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton


023 8071 1811


10 – 14 October

New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham


0844 871 3011


17 – 21 October

Blackpool, Opera House


0844 856 1111


31 October – 4 November

New Theatre, Cardiff


029 2087 8889


7 – 11 November

New Wimbledon Theatre   


0844 871 7646


14 – 18 November

Regent Theatre, Stoke


0844 871 7649


21 – 25 November

Palace Theatre, Manchester


0844 871 3019



On sale from Monday 27th February – check with individual venues for more details.


More tour dates to be confirmed soon!



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