Tribute to Olivia - Producers of the West End production of Grease have dedicated the rest of its run to the memory of Olivia Newton-John, who has died aged 73. Newton-John, best known for playing Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, died on 8 August, with a statement from her family saying she passed away “peacefully” at her Ranch in Southern California, surrounded by family and friends. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” it said.
A stage production of Grease is currently running at the Dominion Theatre in London, which is produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Donovan Mannato, Playing Field, Gavin Kalin and Curve.
Paying tribute, the producers said: “Olivia Newton-John is an icon who has inspired countless young performers across the world, not least our company of Grease in the West End. It is a huge honour to perform songs that she made world famous for thousands of fans, who continue to celebrate the legacy of this musical and her incredible talent.”
They added: “Our thoughts are with Olivia’s family and loved ones at this difficult time. We’d like to dedicate this evening’s performance and the rest of our run to Olivia’s memory and everything she represented.”
Music Education - A government-led national service for music education has been proposed as part of a report calling for all children to have access to high-quality music lessons. The service would consist of a national coordinating body – which could be within Arts Council England – and a network of local organisations to provide services similar to music hubs.
The report, called A National Music Service: how to ensure every child can access a good music education, was created by the Musicians’ Union and political think tank the Fabian Society. It warns that many young people in England are being denied access to good quality music education in schools, with the budget for music education hubs – which provide music lessons – having been cut by 17% in real terms since 2011.
The National Music Service would "offer national leadership and consistency in bringing together the music sector and schools – without stifling local identity, innovation and knowledge". The report also recommends a National Music Service for Wales as well as England.
Birmingham Rocks - Birmingham rocker Ozzy Osbourne made a surprise appearance to bring the curtain down on the Commonwealth Games. Osbourne and his band Black Sabbath received a rapturous ovation from the 30,000 capacity crowd at the Alexander Stadium as they provided a fitting climax to a star-studded closing ceremony.
The 73-year-old 'Prince of Darkness' has not performed for several years due to ill health. "I love you, Birmingham - it's good to be back!" he shouted as he rose through the stage to round off the show with classic hit Paranoid. Earlier, other famed Brummie acts including Dexys Midnight Runners, Apache Indian, Musical Youth, UB40 and Panjabi MC entertained the crowd with classic hits amid a parade featuring hundreds of athletes who competed during the 11-day Games.
Final Curtain - Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical will close in January next year. It will end its run on 8 January, having played 15 months in the West End. Following its run in London it will tour the UK, with details to be announced.
Its producers said: “Bob Marley’s music is inspirational to millions of people around the world. We are so proud to have launched this brilliant musical about his life and music in London’s West End and to have brought his legacy to the stage. We are very excited to be planning the future adventures of Get Up Stand Up! which include a UK and international tour, a North American production and a soon to be available original cast recording.”
The show is one of several that will close in January next year, alongside Mary Poppins, which also ends on 8 January and Come From Away.
(Jim Evans)
9 August 2022

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