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West End Word: Fringe Fever Ignites, Cumberbatch Causes Queues, and Your Chance to Be a Beatle

Even though all eyes are currently on Scotland, there’s plenty holding our attention in the Big Smoke. logo
A first look at Kerry Ellis as Wicked's Elphaba.
(© Matt Crocket)

Scotland is hogging the headlines, not just due to next month's independence referendum but also thanks to the ongoing Edinburgh Festivals. The three-week Fringe, which grows bigger every year, is now reaching its climax in a blizzard of awards, transfer announcements, and the all-important wrap parties.

Our Edinburgh site is bulging with all the latest from the festival frontline — including nearly 100 reviews so far. You can find out what was voted "funniest joke of the Fringe" (all we'll say is it involves a Hoover...). And we reveal the shortlist for the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award; who will follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Steve Coogan and Stephen Fry this year?

Meanwhile back down south, we've been overtaken by Cumberbatch fever; the Sherlock and Hobbit star caused an unprecendented stampede for tickets recently when his turn as Hamlet at the Barbican went on sale. Desperate fans queued for up to 10 hours on the venue's website for a chance to see Benedict tackle the Bard's biggest role — and we're delighted that many of them skipped the queue by booking through WhatsOnStage.

Other big names recently causing a stir include former History Boy Jamie Parker, who is starring in a revival of Guys and Dolls at the newly refurbished Chichester Festival Theatre; and the Peter Pan of pop star Barry Manilow, whose musical Copacabana is returning to the UK later this year starring former Jersey Boy Jon Lee.

We also got an exclusive first look at Kerry Ellis' return to Wicked, and found out a few of her favourite things, which ranged from David Bowie to Barbra Streisand. And check out our video version of "favourite things" with former WhatsOnStage Award nominee Cynthia Erivo, who's currently starring in the European premiere of Dessa Rose at the Trafalgar Studios.

Finally, if you fancy taking to the West End stage yourself, now's your chance! The producers of concert show Let It Be — which was seen on Broadway last year — have announced they are holding open auditions to find a new Fab Four, so if you can Twist and Shout with the best of them (or know someone over here who can), check out the full details here.