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Ray Rackham Productions announces the world première of a new play, developed through the London Theatre Workshop Theatre Lab

Developed through London Theatre Workshop’s Theatre Lab, Freddie, Ted, and the Death of Joe Orton is a timely work written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales and the tragic, untimely death of the author and playwright Joe Orton.  This thrilling tragi-comedy is a fascinating new play penned by Don Cotter who recently played the role of studio boss, Louis B. Mayer, in the West End production of Ray Rackham’s Judy! 

Freddie, Ted, and the Death of Joe Orton examines the devastating impact in the shift in the balance of power between two men at a time when homosexuality was considered a crime.

Ray Rackham

Ray Rackham

Brighton, England, 1960s. Middle-aged Freddie, suffering from undiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, has inherited a three bedroom house which he now shares with his younger partner, the aspiring musician, Ted. When Freddie intercepts a life-changing letter addressed to Ted, his fragile hold on reality begins to crumble.

Ray Rackham directs Don Cotter’s third full length play.

“But that’s how things used to be. It’s 1967. We’re legal now. No more living in fear. No more waiting for the dreaded knock upon the door. Times are changing for the better, Freddie, and we have to change with them. That’s why I’m catching that train tomorrow. And that’s why you have to let me.”

BIOGRAPHY

Robert Styles (Freddie)

The West End’s Robert Styles has been with the play since its very first draft; having honed and developed the piece in a series of readings and workshops. Robert plays Freddie, suffering from undiagnosed OCD, whose house we visit as the fateful events of the play unfold. Robert Styles trained at the Arts Educational School. His experience covers regional, touring and West End theatre productions including: A Patriot for me (RSC Barbican), The Creeper (Playhouse London), The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (Chichester), King Lear (Old Vic), Priscilla (Palace Theatre London), What The Butler Saw (Belgrade Coventry), The Way Of The World (Northampton), Original Sin (Crucible Sheffield), A Month In The Country (Salisbury Playhouse), The Importance Of Being Earnest (York), A Christmas Carol (Birmingham Rep), Wind In The Willows (Clwyd) and a season at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park. Film and television credits include: Silent Witness, Guerrilla, Eastenders, Doctors, Jonathan Creek, The Cricklewood Greats, Suffragette, Elizabeth – The Golden Age and Harry Brown.
Robert recently supplied the voice and animation of Mr. Blackteeth in the new CBBC series Creeped Out!

Eoin McAndrew (Ted)

Ray Rackham, Director: “Eoin McAndrew is a fascinating new talent, and I’m delighted that he is playing Ted. His audition was one of the best I’ve seen in many years.”
Eoin McAndrew plays Ted, a young singer-songwriter who lives with Freddie (Robert Styles), a troubled soul suffering from undiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The story unfolds when Freddie intercepts a life-changing letter addressed to Ted and his fragile hold
on reality begins to crumble. Eoin studied Drama at the University of Exeter and trained as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Most recently he appeared in Cream Tea and Incest for Adjective Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe and filmed an episode for Autopsy: The Final Hours Of… for ITV.
His theatre work includes: The House of Edgar at the Edinburgh Fringe (Agosy Arts Company, Brighton Fringe Award Shortlisted) and Spring Awakening at the National Student Drama Festival (Shotgun Theatre, Winner of Best Student Musical). At Central he appeared in The Wonderful World of Dissocia and Beweep, Outcast. He was also a founding member of the Illogical Theatre Company, which toured productions in Exeter and London.
His film and television work includes City of Ember (Pipeworks Productions), The Race (Go- Kart Productions) and Marú (TG4).

Listings Information

FREDDIE, TED and the DEATH of JOE ORTON

A new play by Don Cotter

Produced by Ray Rackham Productions

London Theatre Workshop: Leadenhall Market, 88 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0DN (above the New Moon Pub).

27th November – 16th December, 2017 (Press Nights on 30th November and 1st December at 7:30 p.m.)


Monday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Additional Saturday matinee on 9th December at 2:30 p.m.


Preview Tickets

27th November – 29th November £10 flat rate. Thereafter Standard Ticket Price £16. Concessions £12.


CAST:

Freddie: Robert Styles

Ted: Eoin McAndrew

Dilys: Helen Sheals

Glenn: Perry Meadowcroft


CREATIVES:

Written by: Don Cotter

Director: Ray Rackham

Set Design: Justin Williams Design

Assistant Design: Jonny Rust

Costume Design: Millie Hobday

Hair & Makeup: Leanne Steedman

Casting: Michelle Hutchings, for Ray Rackham Casting

 

Tickets can be purchased at LTW’s online box office:

http://londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/freddie-ted-and-the-death-of-joe-orton/

 

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Guest blog: Ray Rackham: “Going Beyond the Rainbow”

Ray Rackham
Ray Rackham

Ray Rackham

Picture it, 25th December, nineteen-eighty-something. Whilst the rest of my family were either falling asleep in front of the television, or arguing over a rather heated game of Trivial Pursuit; the pre-pubescent, spoilt, incredibly precocious younger version of me was watching my increasingly frustrated father attempt get my Christmas present to work; a portable colour television. They were all the rage in nineteen-eighty-something, and I was the only child on Middleton Street who had one.

After what seemed like an eternity; white noise was replaced by a distant sound of strings, and the television static faded to a grainy, almost sepia hue. I was devastated. I wanted full on “Goonies” inspired, He-Man and She-Ra technicolour. What I had was a young girl, wandering around a barn yard, in black-and-white (my tastes were not as developed to differentiate the sepia), singing about all the world being a hopeless jumble. Christmas was, for me at least, ruined.

But then, I heard the now incredibly familiar Over the Rainbow, with its bold, opening leap straight up an octave from Middle C, juxtaposed with darker, underlying chords to offset the apparent schmaltz of the melody, and I was hooked.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby”.

Transfixed with that Christmas day memory, I continued through my childhood, and very much into adulthood, looking for that technicolour fantasy land, “where troubles melt like lemon drops”. I believe I found it, in the many school plays, attempts at amateur dramatics, and every time I got up to sing a song (or, as my grandmother would say, “do a turn”). My very own technicolour was to come from Fresnel lanterns, home-made star cloths and smoke machines. From the theatre!

Fast forward to two-thousand-and-something. I had just recently closed my production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins at the Pleasance Theatre, and had just accepted the position as Artistic Director of the soon to be formed London Theatre Workshop. I was also trying my luck at being a burgeoning librettist lyricist (a passion that resulted in my contribution to the musical Apartment 40C), and translating a 1980s film to stage (a passion that resulted in very little!). One might safely say that I had found the place where happy little bluebirds fly, and it was in the professional theatre. Having been invited to a very ‘Sloaney’ dinner party, where I was being my usual self, dominating the cocktail conversation (like a cross between Woody Allen, Liberace and James Corden), I found myself lucky enough to be sat next to an elderly producer who had worked on the movie “I Could Go on Singing”.

Judy! By Ray Rackham

“Of course, it was Judy’s last movie”

“Judy who?”

“Are you kidding me?”

This wonderfully caustic and acerbic lady then proceeded to teach me, chapter and verse, everything and anything a self-respecting theatre geek should know about the late, great, Judy Garland.

“Oh, you mean Liza Minnelli’s mum!”

She didn’t talk to me for the rest of the evening.

But what she did do was instil an absolute hunger to find out more about this deeply troubled, yet gorgeously triumphant human being, who was taken tragically too soon just around the corner from where I had been dining. On my way home, I rather coincidentally stumbled across the mews house on Cadogan Lane, where over forty years earlier Judy had died. And by coincidence I meant that I had jumped in a cab and had asked the driver to take me there. Even in the romanticised setting of the glow of a London street lamp, and my possibly having had one too many cherry brandies at dinner, it was clear that the tiny mews house had seen better days. The paintwork on the door was peeling off, I remember some brown tape had been placed across an upstairs window, and a solitary Christmas bauble could be seen from another, even though it was the middle of April. Overall, the place seemed to exist in a world of faded glamour. Forgotten and unloved. The garage door was covered in hardboard, as if there was some kind of building work going on behind it. Maybe the new owners were restoring it to its former glory? Maybe there has been a break-in? The overall shabbiness of the building lead me to believe that the former was implausible, and the latter inevitable.

I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Where was the blue plaque? Where were the garlands of flowers, or cards of heartfelt tribute? Where was the love? I may have been forty or more years late to the memorial, but where were the fans? I’d never felt sadder for someone I didn’t know, and never more so alone. As I started to leave, a faint glimmer of light caught my eye, reflecting from the shine of the London street lamp. It came from the temporary hardboard garage door. On second glance, I realised that scrawled on the door, in purple glitter pen, were the words “if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why can’t I?”

Upon further inspection, it became clear that every inch of hardboard had a comment scrawled across in.

“We love you Judy”

“JG – always in my heart”

“I still believe in the rainbow”

Immediately, I started to think of my own place in the world, my love of the theatre; the fantasy, technicolour world where you can forget your troubles and get happy. I believe in that world; and a huge part of the Judy Garland narrative, however you dress it, represents that. It was at that moment that I began to see Judy not a person whose sole legacy to the entertainment industry was of trouble, heartache and pain; but of skill, talent and determination, and most importantly of love.

So what if in her later years she cracked on that ambitious leap straight up the octave from Middle C in her signature song? Were the countless tales of pills and liquor all that was actually interesting about this incredibly beguiling woman? Why do we, almost a part of our DNA, like to wallow in the pain, when there remains so much to celebrate? It was at that moment I decided to write a play about Judy. I had for many months been working on a piece about stardom, and by the time I had got home that night the two ideas had morphed into one.

And now, that same show opens at The Arts Theatre in London’s West End, on May 16th, 2017. Having been workshopped and produced at the London Theatre Workshop in December 2015, where I am still, very proudly, Artistic Director; and then at Southwark Playhouse in 2016; it makes me very happy to say that in 2017 Judy Garland is back in town, with three actresses playing her, at the same time, a stone’s throw away from the Talk of the Town; where the actual Judy played her last London gig. I certainly never expected my show to go from 60 seats to the West End in eighteen months. Some might say it’s a bit like a Mickey and Judy film. Sometimes little bluebirds do fly.

I hope to see you there.

Oh, and the Liza Minnelli gag found its way into the first draft, and has been there ever since.

PS: Cadogan House that Ray mentions in the article has since been torn down.

FIVE WEEK WEST END SEASON SUMMER 2017
Venue: Arts Theatre,
6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB
Dates: Tues, 16 th May to Sat, 17 th June 2017
Time: 7.30pm (Thurs & Sat Matinees – 2.30pm)
(extra Matinees Tues 6 th & 13 th June)
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Online: artstheatrewestend.co.uk

Judy! by Ray Rackham opens at Arts Theatre on 16th May for a 5 week West End run

“A TRIBUTE TO HER EXTRAORDINARY TALENT…WITH A GLITTERING, FULL-TILT INTENSITY” Times

Following a critically acclaimed debut season at Southwark Playhouse under its original title, Through The Mill, Ray Rackham’s biographical musical about the life of iconic movie star and chanteuse, Judy Garland, arrives in London’s West End this Summer.

“THE SHOW REMINDS US HOW, IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN A MERCILESS INDUSTRY AND THE HUNGER FOR LOVE AND LIFE, A STAR IS INEVITABLY TORN Guardian

Judy! By Ray Rackham

Judy! By Ray Rackham

Since her first tentative steps on the stage as a young girl, Judy Garland has become an enduring icon to millions of fans of all generations around the world.

Leaving behind the usual portrayal of Garland’s life as one of pure heartbreak and self-destruction, Ray Rackham has created a poignant and ultimately uplifting story portraying the star as a survivor in a man’s world. He has cleverly created an overlapping story of three ages of Judy – Young Judy (an innocent girl filled with hope and excitement as she heads toward her life-changing performance in The Wizard of Oz), Palace Theatre Judy (a woman at the height of her performing powers in the midst of a passionate romance with Sidney Luft) and CBS Judy (an older and possibly wiser woman) – that demonstrates that no matter how hard we look for love in all the wrong places, the answer is ultimately inside ourselves.

“BRILLIANT” Harpers Bazaar

The cast includes Helen Sheals (Last Tango In Halifax, Downton Abbey) as CBS Judy, Belinda Wollaston (Mamma Mia, Titanic) as Palace Judy and Lucy Penrose as Young Judy. The memorable score which is brought to life by a live band, is a wonderful combination of Garland standards interlinked with some of her lesser known numbers and includes The Trolley Song, The Man That Got Away and, of course, Over The Rainbow.

“RACKHAM’S SCRIPT HAS AN OVERARCHING SENSE OF HOPE AND VAUDEVILLIAN RESILIENCE…AN UNMISSABLE PRODUCTION.” The Stage

Ray Rackham

Ray Rackham

RAY RACKHAM (Playwright/Director) – As a Producer and Associate Producer: Ah, Wilderness!, Romeo and Juliet, God (all at London Theatre Workshop), Follies in Concert (London Palladium) and the Thirtieth Anniversary Production of Side by Side by Sondheim (West End, Novello). As a Producer Director, Barbara Cook in Happily Ever After (Fortune), Ordinary Days and the UK premiere of Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino’s A Catered Affair (both at London Theatre Workshop); Company (Pleasance Theatre); Follies (StageSpace); and Assassins (Mainspace). As a Director, Four by Tenn (Drayton Theatre, as part of the repertory Tennessee Williams celebration, where Ray directed an early treatment of The Glass Menagerie); Into the Woods (Greenwood Theatre); and Company (Baron’s Court Theatre). Ray devised the Sondheim review Just Another Love Story, which enjoyed a run at London Theatre Workshop and was recipient of the Artistic Excellence Award at the Brighton Festival, subsequently performed across London and the UK. His first musical, Apartment 40C, enjoyed its world premiere at London Theatre Workshop in December 2014 and transferred to the St James Theatre in April, 2015, again to great commercial and critical success.

Ray’s latest work as a librettist/Lyricist includes a new, original musical entitled Therapy.

His first thriller, Disturbance, is in the early stages of a North American production in 2017.

He is also developing a number of projects for television and film.

FIVE WEEK WEST END SEASON SUMMER 2017

Venue: Arts Theatre,

6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB

Dates: Tues, 16 th May to Sat, 17 th June 2017

Time: 7.30pm (Thurs & Sat Matinees – 2.30pm)

(extra Matinees Tues 6 th & 13 th June)

Box Office: 020 7836 8463

Online: artstheatrewestend.co.uk