Book Review: Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre


Curtain Call – A Year Backstage in London Theatre is a hefty 408 page book full of the delights and often unseen world of the theatre shows in the West End. For many audience members, we often only see the show we pay to see, however this fantastic treat gives us a fantastic glimpse into the backstage world, giving readers an honest and often spontaneous account of life backstage, in the wings and on stage.

The book itself is inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards with photographer Matt Humphrey capturing hundreds of beautiful and unspoilt moments of more than 50 London productions throughout the 2015 – 2016 season. It features many well known theatrical stars including Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman, Ruthie Henshall, Kristin Scott Thomas and Benedict Cumberbatch – to name a few.

John Schwab who has interviewed those who feature in the book, has taken us deep into the lives of those backstage and has shown us life the other side of the curtain. This book will have you immersed into London theatre within no time and I found it very hard to put the book down once I had started! It features page upon page of heartfelt photographs and interviews with the cast and crew who work tirelessly to make sure the productions happen night after night.

Both Schwab and Humphrey received unprecedented access into the magical world of many award winning shows including Billy Elliot, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Kinky Boots, Made in Dagenham, Matilda, Memphis, My Night With Reg, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Audience and

There are some very touching quotes that feature throughout the book, including;

“This show gives you all of that Christmas showbiz extravaganza, but it also makes you swallow hard in places because it really touches you”

– Jennie Dale talking about Elf The Musical at The Dominion Theatre

“If you feel like you’re having a day where you can’t cope, look at the boy, look what he has to do and shame on you if you don’t go out and give it 150 per cent”

– Ruthie Henshall, who played Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliott The Musical

Curtain Call is a book that not only will occupy your coffee table perfectly (and anywhere else for that matter) but is a book you will enjoy again and again. It is a ‘must purchase’ for all theatre lovers and audiences who love to delve deeper into the world famous West End theatre.

It is also a fantastic celebration of the productions and talent we have in London, that draws so many audience members to see the best theatre stage in the world – The West End!

The book is available on – go get it!