PREVIEW: Heat 3 Melodifestivalen 2020 starring Mohombi, Mariette, Anis don Demina & Faith Kakembo

Jörgen Elofsson has written songs for pop titans including Celine Dion, Agnetha Fältskog, Britney Spears and Geri Halliwell and this year his sole Melodifestivalen credit is for Faith Kakembo (pictured above).

  • Read on for reasons including Mariette, Mohombi and Anis Don Demina who also appear in this third heat

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THEATRE REVIEW: Uncle Vanya starring Richard Armitage & Toby Jones

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHERE? Harold Pinter Theatre RUNTIME: 160 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 14/1, press night 23/1 runs to 2/5/20

Six years after a brooding Olivier-nominated performance as John Proctor in the Old Vic’s production of The Crucible and Richard Armitage (pictured above in rehearsal) is back on the London stage in Conor McPherson’s re-imagining of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya

  • Read on for reasons including how Toby Jones is the comic highlight as Armitage goes topless

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THEATRE REVIEW: Amélie the musical at the Other Palace

WORTH A LOOK?: ***

WHERE? Other Palace RUNTIME: 150 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 27/12, runs to 1/2/20

We’re a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace and had forgotten that the Paris-set 2001 film on which this musical is based references the death of Princess Diana in that city quite so much.

  • Read on for reasons including which West End show the British actress who originated this Amélie opens in this autumn

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PREVIEW: Melodifestivalen 2020 Heat 1 starring Felix Sandman, The Mamas, Robin Bengtsson and Sonja Aldén

UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect the 10/1/20 running order reveal

The last three winners of Melodifestivalen – Robin Bengtsson, Benjamin Ingrosso and John Lundvik – have been male soloists making their second attempt to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest.

  • Read on for reasons including Felix Sandman (pictured above), Robin Bengtsson, The Mamas and Sonja Aldén who also appear in this debut heat

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PANTOMIME REVIEW: Goldilocks at the Palladium starring Julian Clary and Paul O’Grady

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE? London Palladium RUNTIME: 180 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 28/12, runs to 12/1/20

We’ve seen the Palladium pantomime in each of the last four years since it returned to this iconic venue after a break of more than three decades.

  • Read on for reasons including how Clary gently encourages O’Grady to take part again next year

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PREVIEW: 9 reasons why we can’t wait for January (2020) starring Madonna

  1. Madonna brings Madame X to the London Palladium

2019’s Madame X collection made our Album of 2019 shortlist and was Madonna’s best since 2005’s Confessions. We were at her last London gig at The 02 in 2015 and are looking forward to the shift from arenas to theatres for this 15-gig run. Tickets The tour opened in the US in the autumn and, despite the late starts, promises much. We’re just glad we don’t have to be up early after what is shaping up to be a late night albeit in thrall to the Queen of Pop.

  • Read on for reasons including new Pet Shop Boys album, Richard Armitage’s West End return and VAULT Festival

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AWARDS: winners of the 2019 monstas are …

monstagigz readers have been voting throughout December for their favourite pop, theatre, TV and film of 2019 from our shortlists. Read on for details of our monstas winners …

2019’s Best Performance Of A Song

  • I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman by Arun Blair-Mangat and Miriam-Teak Lee (& Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre, pictured above) Review & Juliet tickets

Screen Shot 2019-12-30 at 19.20.02

  • Thank you to everyone who voted. Picture via Facebook courtesy & Juliet musical
  • Read on for reasons including the remaining 13 theatre, pop, film & TV winners

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TOP 6: Best read monstagigz content of 2019 starring Sheridan Smith

  1. When Sheridan Smith stole the show in Joseph at the Palladium 

Thank you to our tens of thousands of readers who drove up our traffic by more than 12 per cent in 2019 and welcome to a top six of the most popular content of the year.

Sheridan Smith won our Best Theatre Actress monsta in 2015 and here stole the show in Lloyd Webber’s Palladium revival of one of his biggest hits. We said in our review: ‘We know we’re in safe hands when the always reliable Sheridan Smith channels Eric Morecambe from behind a fake moustache, confiding to the audience: ‘It’s still me.’ It was such a success that it returns to the Palladium for a second run next summer. Tickets

  • Read on for reasons including what Carrie Hope Fletcher did next and the return of Dame Maggie Smith

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Fairytale (International) by Saara Aalto (December 2019)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

OUT? now

TRACKLIST: Every Christmas Day; Christmas Without You; Let It Go; Starry Skies; Can I Keep The Pictures?; Fairytale Of New York

Aalto won our Best Album monsta last year for her Wild, Wild Wonderland LP and, although its follow up is only half a dozen tracks long, it signposts an interesting future for her singing original songs.

  • Read on for reasons including why live is where Aalto always excels

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