Take That and David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers present the new musical The Band, written by Tim Firth, with the music of Take That

AJ Bentley, Yasdan Qafouri, Sario Watanabe-Soloman, Nick Carsberg & Curtis T Johns,
AJ Bentley, Yasdan Qafouri, Sario Watanabe-Soloman, Nick Carsberg & Curtis T Johns,

AJ Bentley, Yasdan Qafouri, Sario Watanabe-Soloman, Nick Carsberg & Curtis T Johns, © Jay Brooks

David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Take That have announced that the UK Tour of Tim Firth’s new musical, THE BAND, with the music of Take That,  will have a major UK Tour, beginning at Manchester Opera House on 8 September, with a national press night on Tuesday 26 September 2017.

The producers made the announcement yesterday, Sunday 2 April, on stage at the Manchester Apollo (where Take That first performed in 1992), following a rapturous reception to a rehearsed reading of the new musical in front of an audience of invited guests, from fans to friends.

Take That said, “We are incredibly proud and excited that our first production as theatre producers is THE BAND – a musical that we think will touch the hearts of not just our fans, but everyone.”

THE BAND is a new musical about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband.  For five 16 year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything.  25 years on, we are reunited with the group of friends, now 40-something women, as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.

The Band will be played by AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri Isfahani, Curtis T Johns and Sario Watanabe-Soloman, who, as Five to Five, won BBC’s Let It Shine.  Playing the parts of Rachel and Young Rachel will be Rachel Lumberg and Faye Christall respectively.  Further casting is to be announced.

THE BAND will be directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, designed by Jon Bausor and choreographed by Kim Gavin, with lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, video design by Luke Halls and sound design by Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster.

THE BAND will be produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams.

Website –

Twitter – @TheBandMusical

Instagram – BandMusical

Facebook – /TheBandMusical



Manchester Opera House

8 September 2017 – 30 September 2017


Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

4 October 2017 – 14 October 2017


Bradford Alhambra Theatre

17 October 2017 – 28 October 2017


Southampton Mayflower Theatre

31 October 2017 – 11 November 2017


Llandudno Venue Cymru

14 November 2017 – 25 November 2017


Stoke Regent Theatre

28 November 2017 – 9 December 2017


Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre

9 January 2018 – 20 January 2018


Liverpool Empire Theatre

23 January 2018 – 3 February 2018


Norwich Theatre Royal

6 February 2018 – 17 February 2018


Canterbury Marlowe Theatre

20 February 2018 – 3 March 2018


Hull New Theatre

6 March 2018 – 17 March 2018


Leeds Grand Theatre

20 March 2018 – 31 March 2018


Newcastle Theatre Royal

3 April 2018 – 14 April 2018


The Bristol Hippodrome

17 April 2018 – 28 April 2018


Birmingham Hippodrome

1 May 2018 – 12 May 2018


Plymouth Theatre Royal

15 May 2018 – 26 May 2018


Northampton Royal & Derngate

29 May 2018 – 9 June 2018


Nottingham Theatre Royal

12 June 2018 – 23 June 2018


Glasgow King’s Theatre

26 June 2018 – 7 July 2018


Edinburgh Playhouse

10 July 2018 – 14 July 2018


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Instagram @bristolhipp

IN A PICKLE written by Tim Webb and directed by Patrick Lynch, 2017 US Tour starts on 22 April

“As delightful for accompanying adults as for its target audience”

British Theatre Guide

“ A rich, gorgeous production”

Children’s Theatre Reviews

Fresh and direct from its recent London run, renowned young people’s theatre company Oily Cart  has taken its acclaimed and enchanting multi-sensory production of IN A PICKLE (based on Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”) on its first UK tour since 2012, which kicked off on January 10 at Clwyd Theatr, Mold.

Originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012, this is a fully immersive and joyous theatre experience for children aged 3-5, their families and friends. The young audience will join the performers on a voyage of discovery through the landscapes of Shakespeare’s imagination and the music of his language. This magical show also brings to a close the celebrations of Oily Cart’s 35th anniversary year.

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The adventure begins with the shepherdess and her flock of little sheep during a party to celebrate the sheep shearing. When she suddenly discovers a lost baby, the audience embark on an action-packed and interactive journey to find the baby and return it safely to its home. From sailing the salty sea to visiting the mysterious royal court in search of a happy ending, this jam-packed show features many sensory delights, enchanting music, sweet smells and even some inventive and friendly fish to help along the way.

IN A PICKLE is written and originally directed by Oily Cart Artistic Director Tim Webb, directed by Patrick Lynch, designed by Claire de Loon, with musical direction by Max Reinhardt and Sheema Mukherjee who plays her sitar in the show. The music has been composed by Max Reinhardt and Finn Peters. The performers are Griff Fender, Katharine Gray, Stephanie Rutherford and Sheema Mukherjee.

The 2017 USA tour opens on April 22 at BAM until April 30 before heading to Lincoln Center, New York from 3-14 May and ending at Denver Center for the Performing Arts from 19-26 May.

Renowned for devising “all sorts of shows for all sorts of kids”, IN A PICKLE is no exception and certain performances of this production will be “relaxed” shows, open to anyone but are particularly suitable for young children with sensory, communication or learning disabilities, and anyone who would benefit from a less formal environment. Audience members should feel comfortable making noise and moving around as and when they need to.

Patrick Lynch, director of IN A PICKLE (2016/17) says “I started my career in children’s theatre with Oily Cart and directing for them once more is like coming home. I’ve used everything they have taught me over the years to make IN A PICKLE a gentle, absorbing and fantastically fun show which will be an introduction to the world and language of Shakespeare, accessible for any age.”

Oily Cart celebrates 35 years with its original founding team still at the helm. Tim Webb, Claire de Loon and Max Reinhardt started the company in 1981 to entertain young audiences, but shortly after that branched out to create shows for children and young people with PMLD and autism, as well as their original target audience of children aged 3-5. Together they have created over 80 original shows, which have toured the length and breadth of the UK as well as internationally. They are currently working on projects in the USA, Russia and Japan as well as in this country.



FIRST LOOK – Production Photos for the UK Tour of Moira Buffini’s GABRIEL

Fracked! Or: Please Don’t Use The F-Word, to tour the UK from April 2017

Fracked! Or: Please Don't Use The F-Word

Fracked! Or: Please Don’t Use The F-Word

Following an acclaimed, sold-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre, FRACKED! OR: PLEASE DON’T USE THE F-WORD will embark on a UK tour from April 2017. Alistair Beaton’s provocative new comedy takes us to an idyllic English village threatened by an energy company intent on drilling for shale gas.

Anne Reid plays Elizabeth, a retired academic who finds herself transformed from obedient citizen to angry protestor. While her increasingly grumpy husband (James Bolam) longs for the quiet life, Elizabeth soars to fame via social media. Desperate to get planning permission, hard-nosed PR men team up with a corrupt local councillor to persuade the villagers that fracking is good. Elizabeth’s having none of it, and mounts the barricades.

This new razor-sharp black comedy by Alistair Beaton takes a timely look at the conflicted core of planetary energy and earthly power. A much-praised political satirist, Beaton’s television work includes the BAFTA-nominated The Trial of Tony Blair and Spitting Image, and plays such as the West End hit Feelgood.

James Bolam’s credits include New Tricks (BBC) and Glengarry Glen Ross (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier nomination). Anne Reid is acclaimed for her many award-winning roles including Hedda Gabler (Old Vic) and Last Tango in Halifax. They are joined by Michael Simkins, known for his many TV and West End roles, most recently Yes, Prime Minister and Hay Fever. Harry Hadden-Paton also joins the cast, and is well known for his roles on stage including The Pride, The Changeling and Flarepath, and on television in Downton Abbey.

Further casting includes: Waleed Akhtar, Andrea Hart, Sophie Khan Levy, Freddie Meredith, Steven Roberts and Tristram Wymark.

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Wednesday 12 April 2017 – Saturday 22 April 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)1483 440 000


Malvern Theatres

Monday 24 April 2017 – Saturday 29 April 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)1684 892 277


Theatre Royal, Brighton

Monday 1 May 2017 – Saturday 6 May 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)844 871 7650


Richmond Theatre

Monday 8 May 2017 – Saturday 13 May 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)844 871 7651


Theatre Royal, Bath

Monday 15 May 2017 – Saturday 20 May 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)1225 448 844


Cambridge Arts Theatre

Monday 22 May 2017 – Saturday 27 May 2017 | Box Office +44 (0)1223 503 333



Master of Farce Ray Cooney celebrates 70 years in showbiz in anticipation of his new production of Out of Order touring UK in 2017


Out of Order

Out of Order

Ray Cooney, (‘THE MASTER OF FARCE’ – The Telegraph), is celebrating both his eighty-fifth birthday and seventy years in showbiz in 2017. He is working with producer Tom O’Connell to launch a brand new season of Ray’s comedies; the first production will be an updated version of his Olivier-Award-winning Westminster comedy Out of Order, which opens in Guildford on 8 March and tours the UK until July, with a stellar cast and directed by Cooney himself. Further productions are planned for 2018, with details to be announced.

Out of Order will have a national press night in Brighton on Wednesday 22 March at the Theatre Royal Brighton, and the company will celebrate these anniversaries with a star-studded gala performance in Richmond on Thursday 6 April.

Ray Cooney’s credits include Run For Your Wife, Funny Money and Two Into One, Caught in the Net and It Runs in the Family. Out of Order was first produced regionally in 1980, under the original title ‘Whose Wife is it Anyway’, with Cooney playing ‘George Pigden’. The show was subsequently produced in the West End in 1990 starring Donald Sinden, Sandra Dickinson and Michael Williams, with Cooney directing.

Cooney’s full official biography can be read here.

When Tory Junior Minister Richard Willey tries to spend the evening with Jane, one of the Opposition’s secretaries, in the Westminster Hotel, things don’t exactly go according to plan – starting with the discovery of a body trapped in the hotel’s only unreliable sash window… Enlisting the help of his hapless private secretary George Pigden, Willey’s sticky situation goes from bad to worse, and with the arrival of Jane’s distraught young husband and with the addition of an unscrupulous waiter, Mrs Willey and Nurse Foster things really come to a head!

Ray Cooney said, “Having directed my Olivier Award-Winning play in London and all over the world, and hearing all that wonderful raucous laughter from audiences, it has become one of my favourite plays. I’ve up-dated it to present day and, fortunately, the basic premise of a philandering politician is as likely today as it was when the play was originally written!”

Arthur Bostrom, best known for his iconic role as ‘Officer Crabtree’ in classic sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo, will join the cast as the ‘Hotel Manager’, alongside Shaun Williamson (EastEnders, Extras) as ‘George Pigden’; Sue Holderness (Only Fools & Horses, Green Green Grass) as ‘Mrs Willey’; Andrew Hall (Butterflies, Coronation Street) as ‘Richard Willey’; Susie Amy (Footballers’ Wives) as ‘Jane Worthington’; James Holmes (Miranda) as the ‘Waiter’; Elizabeth Elvin as ‘Nurse Foster’; Jules Brown as ‘Ronnie Worthington’, and David Warwick as ‘The Body’. Completing the cast are Raphael Bar, Simon Murray, and Kate Sawyer.

David Warwick has been involved in Out or Order since 1990, when he played the ‘Body’ in the tryout at Leatherhead’s Thorndike Theatre (under its initial title of Whose Wife is it Anyway), then in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and the subsequent national tour. He went on to direct the play in the UK (Bournemouth & Sonning), Vienna, the Far East (Singapore & Kuala Lumpur) and the USA (Miami & New Jersey). He has also played Pigden & the Manager.

Praise for the West End production, which won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, includes:

Gleefully funny” – Guardian

Made me laugh more than any play I have seen in the West End this year” – Evening Standard

A triumph” – Financial Times

A textbook model of pyramiding lunacy” – Variety

Wildly funny” – Telegraph

An inspired machine designed to cater for one of civilized society’s greatest joys, which is to see someone else in the soup” – Sunday Times

Out of Order is produced by Tom O’Connell, Debbie Hicks and Lawrence Myers, with design by Rebecca Brower, Lighting by Jack Weir, Sound by James Nicholson and casting by Marc Frankum CDG.



Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 March Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford

Monday 20 – Saturday 25 March Theatre Royal Brighton

Monday 27 March – Saturday 1 April Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Monday 3 April – Saturday 8 April Richmond Theatre

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 April New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Monday 17 – Saturday 22 April Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 May Hall for Cornwall, Truro

Monday 8 – Saturday 13 May Malvern Theatre

Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 May New Theatre Cardiff

Monday 22 – Saturday 27 May Newcastle Theatre Royal

Monday 29 May – Saturday 3 June Manchester Opera House

Monday 5 – Saturday 10 June Orchard Theatre Dartford

Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 June Sheffield Theatres

Tuesday 20 – Saturday 24 June Churchill Bromley

Monday 26 June – Saturday 1 July Oxford New Theatre

Monday 3 – Saturday 8 July Swansea Grand

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 July Palace Theatre, Southend

Monday 17 – Saturday 22 July Nottingham Theatre Royal

Australian hit Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story comes to UK

Peace Train - The Cat Stevens Story
Peace Train - The Cat Stevens Story

Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story

The internationally acclaimed Cat Stevens experience Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story is to receive its UK premiere in a nationwide tour. In an evening of musical storytelling featuring a full live band, audiences will be treated to a full concert of Cat Stevens’ hits, revealing the man in the music and the real stories behind the classic songs. Starring award-winning Australian musician Darren Coggan, Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story will take audiences on the same journey of discovery and enlightenment travelled by Cat himself.

Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story began in 2010 for a sold-out concert at The Sydney Opera House, and was followed by national tours throughout 2012, 2013 & 2014, playing every major theatre in Australia. Considered to be one of the most important artists in the history of music, Cat Stevens began his musical career in the 60s and went on to sell more over 60 million albums worldwide.

In Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story, audiences can re-live 23 hits from the seldom-seen icon, such as: Remember The Days Of The Old School, Lady D’Arbanville, Sad Lisa and Peace Train. Tracing the path of a man who never stopped wondering about how to make the world a better place is Darren Coggan. One of Australia’s most exciting young artists, Coggan and his band’s performances in Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story have met with critical acclaim in Australia.

“Coggan, better known as a Golden Guitar winning country singer, sounds amazingly like Stevens… Coggan’s affable persona, the intriguing story and the amazing catalogue of songs adds up to a winner.”
Troy Lennon, The Daily Telegraph (AUS)

Darren Coggan’s is one of Australia’s most successful country music recording artists. In January 2001, Darren was awarded his first Golden Guitar at the Toyota Country Music Awards of Australia. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Darren was awarded the Centenary Medal for ‘Services to Australian Society’ in 2003. This same year, he released his second album, Balancing Act, for which he was awarded Australian Independent Male Vocalist of the Year. 2008 saw Darren release his fourth album, War Stories, a moving salute to the ANZACS for which he was awarded his second Golden Guitar.

In 2016 Darren was awarded ‘Male Artist of the Year’ at the Australian Celtic Music Awards, and in 2017 Darren will release his long awaited new album ‘The Wide Horizon’.

CBeebies hit animated series SARAH & DUCK brought to life on stage for the first time

Sarah & Duck
Sarah & Duck

Sarah & Duck

The enchanting world of CBeebies’ hit animated series Sarah & Duck will be brought to life on stage for the first time this Spring. Featuring a host of wonderful characters from the BAFTA Award-winning show, embarking on a brand new adventure, Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday will play at Polka Theatre from Thursday 6 April to Sunday 14 May 2017, with a UK Tour launching from Eastbourne Hippodrome on Monday 29 May 2017.

Join Sarah and Duck, along with all their favourite friends including The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, John and Flamingo and Umbrella, as they plan a circus-themed birthday party for Scarf Lady in their garden. But when the weather turns windy and the big top is blown away, will Sarah and Duck be able to save the day? Told through a fantastic blend of inventive puppetry, charming storytelling and toe-tapping music, Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday will take families and children on a magical theatrical adventure.

Following the gentle adventures of a wide-eyed, 7-year-old girl and her feathered best friend, Sarah & Duck has been a huge hit since its debut in 2013, winning a BAFTA for ‘Best Pre-School Animation’ in 2014 and regularly appearing in CBeebies’ Top Ten programmes for viewers aged 4-15. Now in its third series, it is shown in over 100 counties around the world.

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday is written by Peter Glanville, artistic director of Polka Theatre. It is directed by Roman Stefanski with set and puppet design by Laura McEwen. It is presented by MEI Theatrical in association with Polka Theatre. Sarah & Duck is a Karrot Entertainment production for CBeebies UK and BBC Worldwide

Recommended for children aged 3-6.


The BAFTA-winning CBeebies duo live on stage for the first time

At Polka Theatre from Thursday 6 April to Sunday 14 May 2017

Prior to a UK Tour

Press performance at Polka Theatre on Saturday 8 April at 1.30pm



Twitter: @Sarah_and_Duck


 Edward Fox returns to the West End in celebrated one-man play, Sand in the Sandwiches, for a strictly limited London run followed by an extended UK tour

Edward Fox

Edward Fox

Fresh from a sell-out 2016 UK Tour, Edward Fox is to return to the West End in the celebrated one-man play exploring the life and work of John BetjemanSand in the Sandwiches, for a strictly limited London run. A journey through memory and verse, the play collates the work of the twentieth century’s most treasured poet. Written by Hugh Whitemore and directed by Gareth Armstrong, it will visit Northampton before its London premiere at Theatre Royal Haymarket between May 30th and June 3rd 2017, followed by an extended UK tour visiting Cambridge, Malvern, Woking, Brighton and Bath.

Edward Fox said “It is lovely to be returning to one of the great theatres of the world and to the role of John Betjeman, even now at the age of 80. All of us involved are working to magnify the voice of one of the greatest minds in England. Betjeman once said that ‘poetry is life’, and I agree. You can’t live without it.”

John Betjeman was the nation’s favourite poet. Sand in the Sandwiches celebrates a man famous not only for light verse and laughter, but for his passions, his sense of purpose and his unforgettable poetry. Through boyhood, his adolescence, to life as Britain’s Poet Laureate, Sand in the Sandwiches presents a hugely entertaining insight into the world of this much-loved irreverent writer. Triple BAFTA winner Edward Fox (OBE) stars in this new one-man play, bringing Betjeman’s poetry and vivacious personality to life.

Edward Fox’s distinguished career counts iconic British films including the Oscar winning Ghandi, The Day of the Jackal, A Bridge Too Far, Oh! What a Lovely WarThe Dresser, The Go-Between, A Doll’s House, Pride and Prejudice, Robin Hood, Nicholas Nickleby, Force 10 from Navarone and James Bond’s Never Say Never Again. His stage credits include: The Audience, Four Quartets, Hamlet, An Evening with Anthony Trollope, Letter of Resignation and many more. His film credits have won him three BAFTA Awards and in 2003 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to stage and cinema.

Hugh Whitemore, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, is an award-winning writer whose work spans stage and screen. Theatre credits include: As you Desire Me, Stevie, Pack of Lies (which won Judi Dench the Olivier Award for Best Female Actor), The Best of Friends, Breaking the Code, God Only Knows, Disposing of the Body, The Last Cigarette playing at acclaimed theatre across the UK and internationally. His films credits include: Jane Eyre (1996), 84 Charing Cross Road, Stevie, The Return of the Soldier, Bluebird, Man at the Top, and All Neat in Black Stockings. With over 70 television credits, Whitemore has written for broadcasters in both the UK and USA, winning two Writers Guild of Great Britain Awards and two Emmy Awards.

Director Gareth Armstrong specialises in solo performance and has helped to create a dozen such theatre pieces, including Hugh Whitemore’s My Darling Clemmie starring Rohan McCulloch as Winston Churchill’s wife, and his own dramatisation of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, called Wilde Without the Boy. As an Associate Artist at Salisbury Playhouse under the Directorship of Jonathan Church, he premiered his own one-man show, Shylock. The play toured for over a decade to more than forty countries and has been translated and performed in Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian and Mandarin Chinese. Armstrong also co-founded The Made in Wales Theatre Company to premiere new plays and was Artistic Director of Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre.

Sand in the Sandwiches will play at Theatre Royal Haymarket between Tuesday May 30th and Saturday June 3rd. This week is available at the theatre due to a pre-contractual, prior engagement, which means that Damian Lewis is unavailable to perform in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? The producers took the decision to suspend the run of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? for that week. The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? will recommence performances on 5th June.

Sand in the Sandwiches by Hugh Whitemore is directed by Gareth Armstrong with designs by BAFTA award-winning Fotini Dimou, lighting by double Olivier award-winning Howard Harrison and sound by Olivier award & Ivor Novello award nominated composer Simon Slater. Sand in the Sandwiches is produced by Jonathan Church, Oliver Mackwood Productions and Oxford Playhouse.