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Open letter: It’s time to put an end to the toxic West End PR culture.

Dear all,
Long story short, it’s time to put an end to the toxic West End PR culture.
There are times in life when you have to say, “do you know what, let’s not put up with idiocy anymore.” The Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn piece arguing that two dads are not ‘the new normal’ crossed the line. Freedom of speech isn’t a passport to spout hatred and bigotry.

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For too long PR and The Daily Mail have had a toxic relationship with ‘scoops’ being handed over to their ‘Entertainment Reporter’ Baz Bamigboye. London theatre PRs extend Baz preferential treatment — when they owe equal attention to all media.

But the more you find out about theatre, and the more you find out about the way theatre works, don’t you find yourself realising that nothing, not even Baz’s scoops, really happen by accident?

The Daily Telegraph Chief Theatre Critic, Dominic Cavendish summed it up recently with this Tweet. 

Arts journalism and arts journalists deserve better. What are we, the theatre-consuming community, to take from all this? Well we can simply say that enough is enough.

I call on the following Press Managers / Publicists to restore the Arts PR business in the interests of preserving the sense of an inclusive, free and fair press and in recognition of transparent arts journalism.

NT Press Office

RSC Press Office

The Almeida Theatre

Emma Holland PR

Target Live

Jo Allan PR

Kate Morley PR

Cornershop PR

Draper Conway

Royal Court Theatre

Kevin Wilson PR

Premier PR  

Amanda Malpass PR

I will be updating this blog in 7 days time – I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Carl Woodward 

Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke & Cassidy Janson announced to star in West End return of Chess

Alexandra Burke

Michael Ball

The first West End production of Chess since 1986 is to star Michael BallAlexandra Burke, Murray HeadTim Howar and Cassidy Janson. This epic musical love story will open at the London Coliseum on Thursday 26 April 2018 (Press night on Tuesday 1 May 2018) for a strictly limited 5 week season.

This is the fourth production in collaboration with English National Opera by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade, who brought Sunset BoulevardCarousel and Sweeney Todd to the London Coliseum, the home of ENO. Michael Linnit and Michael Grade also produced 42nd Street, currently playing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Michael Ball, Britain’s leading musical theatre star, will perform the role of Anatoly. For 30 years Michael has been starring in musical theatre productions in the West End and on Broadway winning critical acclaim and awards for his stage work and recording career. He is a double Olivier Award winner, multi-platinum recording artist and radio and TV presenter.  Michael made his West End debut as Marius in the original London cast of Les Misérableshe starred in the West End production ofThe Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love in the West End and on Broadway, in the London production of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion and as Caractacus Potts in the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  In 2005 he returned to Broadway as Count Fosco in The Woman in White, which transferred from London’s West End and, in the same year, made his New York City Opera debut as Reginald Bunthorne in Gilbert and Sullivan‘s Patience.   In 2007 he made his debut with English National Opera as Haj/The Poet in Kismet. In 2008 Michael made box office history with his Olivier Award winning performance as Edna Turnblad in the smash hit musical Hairspray which he then took on tour across the UK.  In 2013 Michael won his second Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his critically acclaimed lead role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 2015, Michael starred as Mack Sennett in Mack and Mabel at Chichester Festival Theatre which then went on to tour the UK.

Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke

In 2016 Michael recorded a new album with Alfie Boe, titled ‘Together’, which was released through Decca Records in November. The album went Platinum in just over 5 weeks, was 2016’s Christmas Number 1, has now sold over 600,000 copies and was the biggest selling album release of the year.Following the release, ITV commissioned a one off special,Ball & Boe: One Night Only, which was broadcast on ITV1 in December.  Michael and Alfie also entertained more than 80,000 fans on a sold out 29 date tour of the UK. In 2017 a successful tour of Australia was closely followed by a second ITV special, Ball & Boe: Back Together.  Michael went back into the studio with Alfie Boe to record a second album, ‘Together Again’ which was released through Decca Records in October.  Together Again went straight in at number 1. Combined sales of both albums are now in excess of 1 million copies and a sold out 11 date arena tour of the UK followed.

Alexandra Burke is Svetlana. Alexandra rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008, and currently stands as one of the most successful winners of the show selling well over 4 million records in the UK alone. Alexandra released the winners single ‘Hallelujah’, which became the current European record holder for single sales over a period of 24 hours, selling 105,000 in one day. The song also became the top-selling single of 2008 within the UK and became the UK’s Christmas number one. By January 2009, the single had sold over 1 million copies across the UK, a first for a British female soloist. Her follow up album, ‘Overcome’, debuted at number one in the UK Album Charts achieving four number one singles on the UK Singles Chart and Irish Singles Chart. ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Bad Boys’, ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Start Without You’ went on to sell 780,000 copies in the UK and became a Platinum selling single, along with three BRIT Award nominations from tracks she released as singles, making ‘Overcome’ one of the UK’s most successful albums of that year. In 2014 she made her West End debut playing the lead role of Rachel Marron in the much acclaimed musical, The Bodyguard . A UK tour followed. In August 2016, Alexandra starred as Deloris Van Cartier in the musical Sister Act, a new production directed by Craig Revel Horwood which toured the UK. In September 2017, Alexandra joined the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, reaching the final and then performed in the 4-week Strictly Come Dancing UK arena tour. 2018 saw Alexandra sign a new album deal with Universal / Decca. The album entitled ‘The Truth Is’ is released in March 2018 with a headline tour in September 18.

English actor and recording artist Murray Head is most recognised for his international hits Superstar (from Jesus Christ Superstar) and One Night in Bangkok from CHESS. He performed the role of world chess champion Frederick “Freddie” Trumper in the original London West End stage production of Chess that premiered on 14 May 1986. The show ran in London until 8 April 1989. He has also performed in Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair in the West End. He will take on the role of The Arbiter.

Tim Howar

Tim Howar

Singer Tim Howar is best known as the lead vocalist with Mike + the Mechanics. He made his West End debut as the male lead in Peggy Sue Got Married. He has also appeared in West End productions of Rent and Rock of Ages. In his native Canada he starred in Broadway productions of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour DreamcoatMiss SaigonTommyThe House of Martin Guerre and Les Misérables. He will perform the role of Freddie.

Cassidy Janson

Cassidy Janson

Cassidy Janson is Florence. Her most recent project was the LEADING LADIES trio along with Amber Riley and Beverley Knight. Previous to this Cassidy played Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Other theatre credits include Ruth in Dessa Rose at the Trafalgar Studios opposite Cynthia Erivo, Tick Tick Boom for the Menier Chocolate Factory starring alongside Neil Patrick Harris. Blood Wedding at the Courtyard Theatre, Rooms:  A Rock Romance at the Finborough, Lend Me a Tenor at the Gielgud Theatre playing the principle role of Maggie, Company at the Southwark Playhouse and Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in Avenue Q at the Wyndhams Theatre.  Janson was a member of the original London cast of Wicked and played standby Elphaba On film her credits include The Hike, Tail’s End, Day Trip to LondonFull Circle and Coma.  Janson recently guested with The Jive Aces performing at Glastonbury and Ronnie Scott’s and also doing a tour of New York City and Florida with them.  She was a soloist at The Royal Albert Hall for Magic FM’s Magic Of The Musicals last May and she duetted with Carole King in Hyde Park last Summer for 65,000 people. Her television appearances include Casualty.

CHESS was written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion KingEvita), and the original London production starred Elaine Paige, Murray Head and Tommy Korberg. That production, which ran for three years at the Prince Edward Theatre, followed a highly successful recording featuring the same stars, and included the international hit singles I Know Him So Well and One Night In Bangkok. Other well-known songs from the score include Anthem, Someone Else’s Story, Heaven Help my Heart and Pity The Child.

CHESS tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends. Two of the world’s greatest chess masters, one American, one Russian, are in danger of becoming the pawns of their governments as their battle for the world title gets under way. Simultaneously their lives are thrown into further confusion by a Hungarian refugee, a remarkable woman who becomes the centre of their emotional triangle. This mirrors the heightened passions of the political struggles that threaten to destroy lives and loves.

Featuring English National Opera’s award-winning Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by John Rigby with choreography by Stephen Mear, this new West End production will be directed by Laurence Connor, whose recent credits include School of Rock and Miss Saigon on Broadway and in the West End, Les Misérables on Broadway, and the international Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour. This is the fourth production in collaboration with ENO by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade.

The show’s reputation has never been higher; there have been countless versions produced all over the world. The return of the sensational score to the London stage is an important and exciting musical theatre landmark.

 CHESS is presented by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade in collaboration with English National Opera, by arrangement with Three Knights Limited, The Shubert Organisation Inc & Robert Fox Limited. 

www.chessthemusical.com

Twitter: @chessthemusical

Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone comes to life at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

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The story of a legendary singer-songwriter and activist comes to life in the critically-acclaimed Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 6 – 10 March.

Celebrating the singer-songwriter’s political passion and musical genius, Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone, is a searing mix of storytelling and songs. Starring the Olivier award-nominated, Josette Bushell-Mingo, and accompanied by a live band, the show draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone and Josette’s own extraordinary career.

Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century. She was the consummate musical storyteller who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, and love through her work. Touching upon the 1960s civil rights movement, the show draws into parallel the struggles of the civil rights movement today and questions how far we’ve really come.

Having played to packed out audiences at London’s Young Vic and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the show now comes to Birmingham as part of a UK tour. Some of Nina Simone’s best-loved songs such as Feeling Good, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free and I Loves You Porgy combine with a clear provocation in this production directed by Dritëro Kasapi who said:

“The music of Nina Simone is really iconic. She was a true pioneer, and a virtuoso musical storyteller. Josette lays her heart on the line in this production, just like Nina did, performance after performance.”

Josette Bushell-Mingo also said: “When I began the artistic process for Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone, I thought that the piece was going to be about my relationship with Nina. I have found that it is much more than that. The production is about our relationship to each other, through the prism of blackness.”

Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2000 for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Rafiki in the London production of The Lion King.  Her many theatre credits include Romeo And Juliet with Damien Lewis at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC) and Simply Heavenly (West End) and The Vagina Monologues (New Ambassadors Theatre).

A Unity Theatre and Riksteatern co-production with dramaturgy by Christina Anderson, design by Rosa Maggiora, musical direction by Shapor Bastansiar, lighting design by Matt Haskins and video by Dritëro Kasapi.

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First Look: Rehearsal Images released for the tour of Chip Shop Chips

Edward and Freddie Fox to star in An Ideal Husband at The Vaudeville Theatre

An Ideal Husband
An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband

Classic Spring  have announced that real-life father and son, Edward and Freddie Fox, are to play fictional father and son in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, from 20 April at the Vaudeville theatre. Also starring, in the role of Mrs. Cheveley, is Frances Barber. Directed by Jonathan Church, An Ideal Husband will play at the Vaudeville Theatre 20 April to 14 July 2018, before opening the Theatre Royal Bath Summer Season on 18 July to 4 August 2018.

Edward Fox will play the Earl of Caversham. Among his many stage and screen credits, Edward has appeared as Winston Churchill in The Audience (West End), with Helen Mirren, and performed T.S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ (Riverside Studios). Most recently on screen in Taboo (BBC), with Tom Hardy, Edward is best-known for his performances in The Day of the Jackal and Edward & Mrs. Simpson (ITV). Screen credits also include A Bridge Too Far, The Dresser, and Gandhi.

Freddie Fox will play Lord Goring. He played Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas in The Judas Kiss, opposite Rupert Everett (Hampstead Theatre, West End). Other credits include Travesties (Menier Chocolate Factory, West End), Cucumber (Channel 4), Banana (E4), Boy George (BBC) and The Three Musketeers. Following cast injuries, Freddie took the role of Romeo to great acclaim in Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet, with Lily James (Garrick Theatre).

Frances Barber plays Mrs. Cheveley. Best-known for her role as Caroline Warwick in Silk (BBC), her many screen and stage credits include Mr. HolmesVicious (ITV), and Death in Paradise (BBC). Her numerous stage appearances have included playing Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Globe), Arkadina in The Seagull (RSC), and Julius in Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse).

Classic Spring is a new theatre company from former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Dominic Dromgoole. The company is staging an unprecedented year-long celebration of Oscar Wilde at the Vaudeville Theatre, including runs of all four of his major plays, plus a series of ‘interludes’ and ‘Wilde talks’ intended to give a complete picture of his life and work. Next to open in the season is Guy Chambers’ new folk opera, The Selfish Giant. The production will be co-produced by Royal & Derngate, Northampton, and directed by multi-award-winning director Bill Buckhurst. The limited run of lightly-staged performances will run at Royal & Derngate 4 April – 7 April, before moving to the Vaudeville from 10 – 14 April.

Guy Chambers is a long-time collaborator with Robbie Williams, having co-written many of his most popular hits, including Angels, Millennium and Let Me Entertain You. Guy has also collaborated with Kylie Minogue, Rufus Wainwright, Mark Ronson and Diana Ross, amongst others. He has won three BRIT Awards, three Ivor Novello awards and an MTV Video Music Award.

Over 20,000 tickets under £20 are being made available across the season, encouraging younger audiences and making the season as accessible as possible.

Dominic’s production of A Woman of No Importance, starring Eve Best and Anne Reid, ran successfully through the end of last year. Lady Windermere’s Fan, starring Kevin Bishop, Samantha Spiro and Jennifer Saunders and directed by Kathy Burke, plays at the Vaudeville until 7 AprilAn Ideal Husband will be followed by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Previous interludes and Wilde talks have included a lecture from the inimitable Stephen Fry, and a critically-acclaimed performance of De Profundis by Simon Callow (adapted by Frank McGuinness), which is set to return later this year.

CLASSIC SPRING: A year-long celebration of Oscar Wilde

Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, London WC2R 0NH

Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Kathy Burke
12 January to 7 April 2018
Press night: 22 January 2018
Live cinema broadcast: Tuesday 20 March, 7.15pm

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
Adapted and composed by Guy Chambers
Directed by Bill Buckhurst
Royal & Derngate: 4 – 7 April 2018
Vaudeville: 10 to 14 April 2018

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Jonathan Church
20 April to 14 July 2018
Press night: Thursday 3 May
Live cinema broadcast: Tuesday 5 June, 7.15pm

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
20 July to 20 October 2018
Press night: Thursday 2 August
Live cinema broadcast: Tuesday 9 October, 7.15pm

Performance times (A Woman of No Importance and Lady Windermere’s Fan)
MondaySaturday7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees2.30pm

Performance times (An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest)
TuesdaySaturday7.30pm
TuesdayThursday and Saturday matinees: 2.30pm

Theatre Royal Bath:
Wednesday 18 July to Saturday 4 August 2018

Performance Times:
Monday – Saturday evenings 7.30pm
Matinees Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm

Box office: 01225 448844 / theatreroyal.org.uk
Booking opens on Saturday 10 April 2018

Rosalie Craig and Hadley Fraser to perform The Light Princess in concert at Cadogan Hall

Rosalie Craig
Rosalie Craig

Rosalie Craig

Club 11 London and Alex Parker Theatre Company today announced that The Light Princess from Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson will receive its first ever concert performance this summer. Rosalie Craig reprises her role of Althea, for which she won the Evening StandardTheatre Award for Best Musical Performance,and Hadley Fraser will play Digby with further casting to be announced. Directed by Paul Foster, the concert takes place at Cadogan Hall on Sunday 1st July 2018.

Based on the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald, The Light Princess tells the story of a princess afflicted by a constant weightlessness, unable to get her feet on the ground, both literally and metaphorically, until she finds a love that brings her down to earth.

Rosalie Craig said today, “It’s so wonderful to have the opportunity to revisit this incredible piece 5 years on. It is hugely special to me and it will be a joy to hear it and sing it again after all this time.”

Samuel Adamson commented, “I’m thrilled that The Light Princess is going to float again this July in a concert produced by Club 11 London and Alex Parker Theatre Company. I can’t wait to hear the incomparable Rosalie Craig sing the role of the princess again – and who better to be her prince than Hadley Fraser?”

Rosalie Craig reprises her role as Althea. She is currently appearing in The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre. Other theatre credits include BecomingCity of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), The Threepenny OperaAs You Like ItTableLondon Road (National Theatre), Hitchcock Blonde (Hulltruck Theatre), Ragtime (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Swallows and Amazons (Bristol Old Vic), Aspects of Love (Menier Chocolate Factory), Anyone Can Whistle (Jermyn Street Theatre), and Alice In Wonderland (Royal Shakespeare Company). For television her credits include Endeavour, Scrotal Recall, My Family and Other Animals, Casanova and Grease Monkeys; and for film her credits includeLondon Road.

Hadley Fraser plays Digby and is currently appearing in Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre. Other theatre credits include Harlequinade, The Winter’s Tale (Garrick Theatre), Saint Joan, The Vote, City Of AngelsCoriolanusThe Machine (Donmar Warehouse), A Long Day’s Journey into Night (Bristol Old Vic), The Pajama Game (Chichester Festival Theatre), Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre) and Assassins (Sheffield Theatres).

For television his credits include Decline and Fall, Him, Sons of Liberty, Pompidou and The Fresh Beat Band; and for film his credits include Murder on The Orient Express, The Legend Of Tarzan, Les Miserables, Convincing Clooney and The Lost Tribe.

Paul Foster directs. Recent theatre credits include A Little Night Music, Tell Me on a Sunday (UK tour) and Laurel and Hardy (Watermill Theatre) and Annie Get Your Gun (Sheffield Crucible).

The Light Princess                                                                                                                                           Listings

Cadogan Hall

5 Sloane Terrace, Belgravia, London SW1X 9DQ

Sunday 1 July 6.30pm

Box Office: 020 7730 4500

www.club11.london/tlp / www.cadoganhall.com

 Almeida Theatre: Romola Garai cast in title role of Ella Hickson’s The Writer

Romola Garai
Romola Garai

Romola Garai

“I want awe. I feel like I need blood. All the time. And anything less than that makes me feel desperate. It makes me feel like I want to die.”

She wants to change the shape of the world. But a new way of thinking needs a new story. How can she make herself heard?

Ella Hickson returns to the Almeida following the success of Oil in 2016 with the world premiere of The Writer, directed by Blanche McIntyre.

Tickets for The Writer, alongside tickets for Machinal and Dance Nation, are now on sale to general public.

 Romola Garai plays the Writer. Her previous theatre credits include Queen Anne at the Theatre Royal Haymarket; Measure for Measure at the Young Vic; Indian Ink at Roundabout Theatre (New York); The Village Bike at the Royal Court; Three Sisters at the Lyric Hammersmith; King Lear and The Seagull for the RSC and Calico at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Her television work includes The MiniaturistBorn to KillChurchill’s SecretLegacyThe HourCrimson Petal and the WhiteEmmaMary BryantDaniel DerondaPerfectAttachments and The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. For film, her credits include SuffragetteDominionThe Last Days on MarsHaving YouJunkhearts; One DayGlorious 39The Other ManAtonementAngelAmazing GraceRenaissance; ScoopAs You Like It; Inside I’m DancingVanity FairHavana NightsNicholas Nickleby and I Capture the Castle.

Ella Hickson’s Oil was produced by the Almeida Theatre in 2016 (it won the Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play in 2013). Her other plays include MerlinWendy and Peter PanBoysThe Authorised Kate BaneGift (part of Headlong’s Decade), Precious Little Talent and Hot Mess.

Blanche McIntyre directs. Her theatre credits include The Norman Conquests at Chichester Festival Theatre; Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen for the RSC; Noises Off at the Nottingham Playhouse; Welcome Home, Captain Fox! at the Donmar Warehouse; The Oresteia at HOME, Manchester; As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare’s Globe; Arcadia for English Touring Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group; Accolade at St James’ Theatre and also at the Finborough Theatre; Tonight at 8:30 and The Nutcracker at Nuffield Southampton Theatres; Ciphers for Out of Joint, Bush Theatre and Exeter Northcott; The Birthday Party at the Manchester Royal Exchange and The Seagullfor Headlong Theatre, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Derby Theatre (winner of Best Director at 2013 UK Theatre Awards) and Foxfinder at the Finborough Theatre. McIntyre was the winner of the 2011 Critics’ Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award. She will direct The Winter’s Tale at Shakespeare’s Globe later this year.

Cast announced for the World Premiere of Great Apes from the novel by Will Self; reimagined for the stage by Patrick Marmion

Great Apes
Great Apes

Great Apes

Great Apes is a new play by Patrick Marmion directed by RSC and Donmar actor Oscar Pearce (Wolf Hall, Real Thing), based on the novel by Will Self opening at the Arcola Theatre on Monday 19th March.

Great Apes is a hilarious, uncanny and unnervingly original take on humanity’s place in the evolutionary chain. It is a modern odyssey into the abiding mystery of what it means to be a human being.

When Turner Prize winning artist Simon Dykes wakes up one morning after a wild night out, he finds his world has changed beyond recognition. His girlfriend, Sarah, has turned into a chimpanzee. And, to Simon’s horror, so has the rest of humanity.

Suffering a nervous breakdown Simon is immediately taken to Charing Cross hospital where he’s treated for being under the psychotic delusion that he’s a human being. Here he comes under the care of charismatic and controversial chimp psychiatrist, Dr Zack Busner who helps Simon come to terms with his condition.

Artist Simon Dykes is played by Bryan Dick whose stage credits include Years of Sunlight (Theatre 503); Hobson’s Choice (Jonathan Church Productions), Seminar (Hampstead Theatre); Public Enemy (Young Vic Theatre); Kursk (Young Vic); Tinderbox (The Bush Theatre); Amadeus (The Crucible Theatre); The Alchemist (National Theatre);The Life of Galileo (National Theatre) and Bone (Royal Court Theatre).

Ruth Lass plays male psychiatrist Dr Zack Busner. Ruth’s credits include A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian (Hull Truck); Hospital At The Time of the Revolution (Finborough Theatre); The Rest Is Silence (World Shakespeare Festival) ; The Tempest  ( Jericho House – Tour & Barbican);The Girl on the Sofa (Edinburgh International Festival/Royal Lyceum) and  Les Justes (Gate Theatre).

Donna Berlin (Charlotte Busner): Stage credits include Of Kith And Kin (Sheffield Crucible Theatre/Bush Theatre)Anna Karenina (Manchester Royal Exchange/West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Rolling Stone (Manchester Royal Exchange/West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Bacchae (Northampton Theatre Royal) and Blood Wedding (Northampton Theatre Royal).

 Ruth Everett (Jane Bowen): Stage credits include The Lower Depths (Arcola Theatre);

Don Quixote (RSC); Dr Faustus (RSC); The Alchemist (RSC); Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre); ‘Tis  Pity She’s A Whore (Cheek By Jowl); KingLear,(Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre); Dangerous Corner (Salisbury Playhouse) and Antony and Cleopatra (Chichester Festival Theatre).

 John Cummins (Gambol): Stage credits include The Alchemist (RSC)Don Quixote (RSC); Doctor Faustus (RSC); Anna Karenina (Manchester Royal Exchange & WYP); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe); Eternal Love (UK Tour -ETT / Globe Theatre); Stuart: A Life Backwards(High-Tide & Sheffield Crucible);The Vortex (The Rose Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing (Ludlow Festival) and Anne Boleyn (UK TOUR -ETT / Globe Theatre).

Stephen Ventura (Kevin Whately): Stage credits include Cinderella (Oxford Playhouse); Running Wild (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Fifth Column (Southwark Playhouse); The One That Got Away (Theatre Royal Bath); The Dog And The Night And The Knife (Arcola Theatre); The Orphan Of Zhao (RSC) and Boris Godunov (RSC).

Vivienne Smith (Sarah Peasenhulme): Stage credits include Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (UK and Ireland Tour).

 Writer and producer Patrick Marmion is a journalist, theatre critic, speaker and Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. Previous plays include The Divided Laing (Arcola Theatre), Terms & Conditions (White Bear), Pieta – After Chekhov (Finborough & Print Room), Osterley (Urban Scrawl), The Institute (Etcetera). Screenplays include ‘Mushroom Soup’ (Sam Mendes/Renaissance Films),’ Kids FM’ (Working Title Television), ‘Maid Marion’ (Channel Four Films), ‘Archie Tanner & The Dodo’ (Children’s Film & Television Foundation) and ‘The Dead Guy’ (based on novel of same title).

Making his directorial debut is award-winning actor Oscar Pearce. A regular with the RSC his credits include Wolf Hall, Greg Doran’s celebrated A Midsummer Nights Dream and the renowned Spanish Golden Age Season. He has appeared in the West End many times including the Donmar Production of The Real Thing, which transferred to Broadway and I.D. at the Almeida. His portrayal of Chris in All My Sons at the Bolton Octagon won him the MEN best supporting actor. This is his third collaboration with the Arcola after appearing in the feted Jenufa and the more recent success, The Divided Lang.

Movement director Jonnie Riordan is a graduate of Frantic Assembly’s ‘Ignition’ programme. As Movement Director his credits include Connections Festival 16/17 (National Theatre), Maggie & Pierre (Finborough Theatre), CAUGHT (Pleasance Theatre), Cracking, Hooked and Bat Boy (Iso Productions, New Wimbledon Studio). As a Director: Man Up (Frantic Assembly Ignition, Stratford Circus, Latitude), Boy Magnet and WhiteNoise (ThickSkin) and Found (The Albany)Jonnie is directing the first stage adaptation of Nigel Slater’s Toast at The Lowry in May.

 Set and costume design is by Sarah Beaton, recipient of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design. Design credits include Faust (Schauspielbuhnen in Stuttgart), Mother Christmas (Hampstead Theatre Downstairs),Babur in London (Theatre Rigiblick, Zürich/Lilian Baylis Studio), Crocodiles (Royal Exchange, Manchester), This Is Living (Trafalgar Studios), Diary of a Madman (Sherman Cymru/Tobacco Factory), And Now: The World! (Derby Theatre), And Here I am (Arcola, Palestine Tour) and The Man I Live With (Oxford Playhouse).

Matt Haskins is an international lighting designer. Credits include Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Apollo Theatre), RoundelayTruth and Reconciliation (Royal Court), No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution, Kiss Me (Hampstead Theatre), Crocodiles (Royal Exchange, Manchester), A Bright Room Called Day (Southwark Playhouse), Dream Story (Gate Theatre) and The House of Mirrors & Hearts (Arcola Theatre), Walk with Me (Girl Effect/Punchdrunk) and Dido, Queen of Carthage (Kensington Palace).

Sound design is by Dan Balfour. Recent credits include: #[email protected], The Devils (Royal Central School Of Speech Drama), Seafret (Old Red Lion, HighTide Festival), Figures Of Speech (Almeida Theatre),  I Call My Brothers, CaughtRed Helicopter (Arcola Theatre), RE: Home (Yard Theatre), DREAMJenufa –Opera Works (English National Opera), Walking the SOLO (Bush Theatre), Nude (The Hope Theatre) and  Deathwatch (The Roundhouse),

Co-producer Steve Hennessy is the author of over 20 plays for stage and radio and the founder of Stepping Out Theatre, the country’s leading mental health theatre company. They have been producing work on mental health themes with theatre professionals and mental health service users since 1997. Steve’s work includes the acclaimed Lullabies of Broadmoor Quartet (Oberon Books) – four plays about well known Broadmoor patients which toured nationally in 2011. The Divided Laing was Stepping Out’s 54th production.

Great Apes is produced by the Arcola Theatre in association with Stepping Out Theatre.

Listings information:

Venue:                   The Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL

Dates:                    Wednesday 14 March to Saturday 21 April

Press Night:        Monday 19 March at 7pm

Times:                 Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, plus Saturday matinees at 3pm

Wednesday matinees on 4 April11th April and 18th April at 3pm.

Ticket prices        Best £26 (£22 previews); Standard  £22 (£19 previews);Value £15; Restricted   £12 – Arcola Passport holders go free -Pay What You Can (Tuesday evenings – limited availability)

Box Office:www.arcolatheatre.com

020 7503 1646 (Mon-Sat, 12.30pm-6pm)

Alice Sebold’s Global Bestselling Book, The Lovely Bones is Brought To Life on Stage

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

  • Alice Sebold’s global bestselling book, The Lovely Bones is brought to life on stage for the first time
  • The Lovely Bones receives its world première in a co-production between Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Royal & Derngate  and Northern Stage in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
  • Adapted by Bryony Lavery, directed by Melly Still and commissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The world première of The Lovely Bones, one of the bestselling novels of the 21st century and now adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melly Still, will open Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 30 October and run until 10 November.

Alice Sebold’s unique coming-of-age tale captured the hearts of readers throughout the world when it was first published in 2002. An uplifting story about life after loss, The Lovely Bones, achieved critical acclaim and became an instant bestseller across the world. It won the Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Fiction 2003 and was on Oprah’s Book Club list for 2010.

The Lovely Bones tells the story of young girl Susie Salmon, who is just like any other girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead. Susie can only observe while her family cope with their grief in their different ways. Her father, Jack is obsessed with identifying the killer. Her mother, Abigail is desperate to create a brighter future. And her sister, Lindsay is discovering the opposite sex with experiences that Susie will never know. Susie is desperate to help them and there might be a way of reaching them.

Alice Sebold today expressed her excitement to “see The Lovely Bones as a play and to see its characters come to life on stage”

Playwright Bryony Lavery said: “I am thrilled that Birmingham Repertory Theatre asked me to adapt Alice Sebold’s rich, funny, tough, healing book The Lovely Bones. I’ve found that the huge story is very, very happy to change its medium and reveal its treasures on The REP’s main stage. I am a most fortunate playwright!”

Bryony Lavery’s acclaimed work includes the Tony Award-winning Frozen (due to be revived in the West End this spring) Stockholm (Frantic Assembly), Kursk (Young Vic) and Beautiful Burnout (National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly).

Bringing The Lovely Bones to life on stage is director Melly Still, whose credits include the acclaimed Olivier and Tony Award-nominated production of Coram Boy (National Theatre and Broadway), My Beautiful Friend (Rose Theatre Kingston) and several recent productions for Glyndebourne, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Lovely Bones will also play at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Everyman Liverpool, Northern Stage, Newcastle and The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.

Tickets go on sales to REP members today and general booking opens Thursday 22 February.  Box Office 0121 236 4455 / birmingham-rep.co.uk

#LovelyBones18