Rachael Wooding to guest star as Alice in Wonderland the musical at Mayflower Theatre Easter 2017

Rachael Wooding

Rachael Wooding

Rachael Wooding will guest star as Alice in the UK tour of Wonderland when it arrives for Easter at Mayflower Theatre from 18-22 April 2017. Rachael is one of musical theatre’s most impressive talents. In May this year she wowed the nation on Britain’s Got Talent with Simon Cowell proclaiming her rendition of ‘With You’ from Ghost was “the most beautiful version of the song” he had ever heard. Rachael went on to the live finals and her acclaimed audition has been viewed almost 9 million times on YouTube to date.

Rachael has played numerous lead parts, including the title role in the UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and her West End credits include We Will Rock You, Hairspray and Jersey Boys.

Rachael joins a stellar cast including West End star Wendi Peters, much loved for her acclaimed portrayal of Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, as Queen of Hearts and musical theatre favourite Dave Willetts, who rose to fame for playing the title role in the Phantom of the Opera, as White Rabbit.

Hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”, Wonderland is an enchanting musical adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with a huge heart, a medley of magic and a whole lot of wonder. It is a timely and touching story of love in all its forms, an adventurous exploration of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.

Completing the principal cast are Stephen Webb as Jack / White Knight, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter, Kayi Ushe as Caterpillar, Dominic Owen as Cheshire Cat, Ben Kerr as March Hare, Naomi Morris as Ellie and Michelle Pentecost as Alternate Alice / Mad Hatter. They are joined by a company comprising Sharif Afifi, Toyan Thomas-Browne, Divine Cresswell, Jessica Croll, Francesca Lara Gordon, Benjamin McMillan, Michael Morgan, Phoebe May Newman, Bree Smith, Benjamin Yates and swings Lewis Easter and Collette Guitart.

Tickets for Wonderland (Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 April 2017) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or #online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

West End leading lady Emma Hatton as Eva Perón, leading Italian actor Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che in Evita

Following its smash hit run at London’s Dominion Theatre, Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita is set to thrill audiences once again across the UK. Evita will be playing at Mayflower Theatre from Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 January 2017.

Emma Hatton

Emma Hatton as Eva Perón

Taking on the iconic role of Eva Perón will be one of musical theatre’s most exciting leading ladies today, Emma Hatton. She recently finished wowing audiences in the lead role of Elphaba in the West End’s production of Wicked. Prior to this she performed the principle roles of Scaramouche and Meatloaf in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, and Donna in the West End production of Dreamboats and Petticoats.

In addition to her success in musical theatre, Emma continues to perform regularly as a jazz and blues singer to much critical acclaim, with previous residencies and appearances including The Savoy Hotel, and Ronnie Scott’s. Her one-woman show, Songbird, sold out at the Live at Zedel’s season for Crazy Coqs and was followed by Unforgettable at the Jazz Café for the London Jazz Festival. In 2015, Emma recorded her first EP with Anthony Strong entitled Merry Christmas, Darling which went straight to Number 1 in the iTunes Jazz charts and she is currently working with Anthony on her next EP.

Gian Marco Schiaretti

Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che

Making his UK debut is leading Italian performer Gian Marco Schiaretti who will be taking on the role of Che, a character who reflects the voice of the Argentine people – linked to Eva by destiny; he brings conflict to the story of Eva’s rise to fame. Gian Marco Schiaretti most recently played the title role of Tarzan in Disney’s Musical Tarzan, in Stuttgart. Prior to this he played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet across Italy.

Joining them will be Kevin Stephen-Jones, set to play Argentine President Juan Perón. He has performed extensively across the UK and Europe in over 20 different operas. His musical theatre credits include Cats, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Love Beyond.

The cast is completed by Oscar Balmaseda, Sarah O’Connor, Natalie Langston, George Arvidson, Lewis Barnshaw, Jessica Ellen, Callum Fitzgerald, Kellie Gnauck, Dominic Adam Griffin, Kate Leiper, Joe McCourt, Jude Neill, Chrissie Perkins, Oliver Slade, Matias Stegmann and Yuval Zoref.

Telling the story of Eva Perón, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón, Evita follows Eva’s journey from humble beginnings through to extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status which ultimately lead her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.

With more than 20 major awards to its credit, and an Oscar winning film version starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita is iconic. Featuring some of the best loved songs in musical theatre, including Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, On This Night of a Thousand Stars, You Must Love Me, and Another Suitcase in Another Hall, this spectacular production promises once again to be the theatrical event of the year. Don’t miss the 2017 UK tour of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s extraordinary musical Evita.

Tickets for Evita (Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 January 2017) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

 

National Theatre – Full Casting Announced For ‘Ugly lies the bone’

Ugly Lies The Bone

Ugly Lies The Bone

US playwright Lindsey Ferrentino’s play opens in the Lyttelton Theatre in February.

Previews from 22 February, press night 1 March continuing in the repertoire with further performances to be announced.        

Full casting has been announced for Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino which makes its European premiere in the Lyttelton Theatre in February 2017.

Beauty is but skin deep, ugly lies the bone; beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own.’

After three tours in Afghanistan and months in a severe burns unit, Jess (Kate Fleetwood) finally returns to Florida.  In a small town on the Space Coast, as the final shuttle is about the launch, Jess must confront her scars, and a home that may have changed even more than her.

Experimenting with pioneering virtual reality therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain.  There, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself.

The full cast is Kate Fleetwood (last seen at the NT in King Lear and in the feature film London Road), Ralph Little (BBC’s The Royle FamilyTwo Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, is currently appearing in Dead Funny at the Vaudeville Theatre and makes his NT debut), Kris Marshall (BBC’s My Family and the feature film Love Actually), Buffy Davis(BBC Radio 4’s The Archers) and Olivia Darnley who recently toured in Filter Theatre’s Twelfth Night.

Award winning playwright Lindsey Ferrentino’s honest and funny drama was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and played a sold-out run at Roundabout Theater Company.  This UK production is directed by Indhu Rubasingham, who last year directed the award-winning ‘The Motherf**ker with the Hat’ at the NT and is Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre.  Set design is by Es Devlin whose work crosses a wide range of genres: opera, dance, film, theatre, concerts and fashion.  Her recent work includes Light Shining in Buckinghamshire at the NT and stage sets in collaboration with Beyoncé, Kanye West, U2, Jay Z and Adele.  She designed the London Olympic Closing Ceremony and the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony; video design is by Luke Halls; costume design by Johanna Coe; lighting design by Oliver Fenwick; music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham; and fight direction by Rachel Brown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-Annie Ltd.

Bristol Old Vic delighted to be nominated for The Stage Regional Theatre of the Year award. Also: The Grinning Man nominated for WhatsOnStage Award

Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic is nominated for The Stage Regional Theatre of the Yearaward, as announced today.

The Stage Awards reflect the theatre industry’s best performing theatres and theatre-makers. The open nomination process allows anyone to elect their favourite buildings, schools, companies and individuals, while an industry focus group steers the shortlist. The final cut is selected by a panel of senior editorial figures at The Stage and aims to celebrate the finest theatre achievements of the past year.

Receiving a nomination for Regional Theatre of the Year, the category recognises the top theatre outside of the capital over the past 12 months, judged on criteria including artistic quality, business success and innovation.

Bristol Old Vic was recognised by the panel as having impressed with its “strong work, both on and off stage” – remarking on the 250th anniversary celebrations, the transfer of two productions to the National Theatre, the announcement of The Ronald Duncan Prize and the ongoing redevelopment works, but it was the success of productions including The Grinning ManJane Eyre and King Lear that ensured “the work on stage continues to impress”.

Emma Stenning, Bristol Old Vic Chief Executive said: “Today’s announcement of our nomination for Regional Theatre of the Year is just the most perfect way for Bristol Old Vic to end 2016.

This was a year in which the theatre went from strength to strength; delivering a string of thrilling productions, kicking off the final transformative phase of our capital project and celebrating our 250th birthday in style.

It’s a brilliant testament to the terrific work of the Bristol Old Vic team, the extraordinary imaginations of the artists who make work here, and the continued commitment of our fantastic audiences.”

The winner will be announced at The Stage New Year Party, at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on January 27 2017.

The Grinning Man nominated for WhatsOnStage Award

The Grinning Man

This nomination comes hot on the heels of Bristol Old Vic production The Grinning Manreceiving a WhatsOnStage Award nomination for Best Regional Production. The winner will be announced at a public ceremony on Sunday 19 February at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London. Winners are decided by public vote, and audiences can vote for the production here until 31 January 2017

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National Theatre – Art of Make Believe: Staging Children’s Stories

National Theatre

ART OF MAKE BELIEVE: STAGING CHILDREN’S STORIES 

A free exhibition in the National Theatre’s Wolfson Gallery

Theatre is an amazing way to tell stories. Art of Make Believe; Staging Children’s Stories is a playful exhibition aimed at families with children aged 5-14 years and exploring how children’s classic stories have been transformed into extraordinary theatre.

Author M G Leonard (Beetle Boy) has curated a fabulous mix of interactive theatrical elements using examples of past and current NT shows. The exhibition is designed by artist Jacqueline Davies.

The National Theatre has a history of staging spectacular children’s theatre, from The Wind in the Willows to His Dark Materials, from The Cat in the Hat to this year’s production of Director Sally Cookson’s wondrously inventive Peter Pan.

The exhibition offers young people the chance to operate theatre lighting, sound effects, and rigging and play with props and costumes, lifting the curtain on world-class theatre.

Art of Make Believe: Staging Children’s Stories is in the Wolfson Gallery on the second floor of the National Theatre. Open Mon- Sat, Free

Passion and heartbreak – Welsh National Opera’s spring season of intoxicating love stories

Madame Butterfly

Madam Butterfly

Le Vin herbé, La bohème and Madam Butterfly make up Welsh National Opera’s Love’s Poisoned Chalice season which comes to Mayflower Theatre from 25-29 April 2017. This season takes audiences on a journey of love, passion, heartbreak and tragedy through some of opera’s greatest tear jerking music.

At the heart of the spring season is a new production of Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Le Vin herbé, directed by former WNO Genesis Assistant Director Polly Graham in her first main scale production for WNO.  Inspiring the season theme, Le Vin herbé (‘the spiked drink’) is based on the myth of Tristan and Isolde.  Martin’s composition investigates the very meaning and function of myths, as a group of people come together to narrate this tragic love story.  Written between 1938 and 1941, Frank Martin’s version of the lovers’ tale is more in riposte than homage to Wagner, and influenced by the imminent World War as well as his own personal crisis of losing his first wife.

Jurgita Adamonyté returns to WNO for the first time since her stunning performance in Pelléas and Mélisande in 2015 to take the role of Iseult.  Tom Randle also returns to WNO to sing the role of Tristan, with Catherine Wyn-Rogers singing the role of Iseult’s Mother.  Originally conceived for 12 singers, this production will be performed with the entire WNO Chorus taking the role of narrator as in a Greek Chorus, commenting on the dramatic action as the story unfurls.  An orchestra of 7 string players and a pianist will be on stage throughout the opera, along with conductor James Southall.

As WNO Genesis Assistant Director, Polly Graham received mentorship from internationally-renowned opera directors including WNO Artistic Director David Pountney, Mariusz Trelinski and Pierre Audi.  She returns to WNO following her work with WNO Youth Opera on Kommilitonen! during the summer of 2016 which received excellent reviews from the national media.

Up next is Puccini’s much-loved La bohème in a production which WNO first staged in 2012 to high praise from both critics and audiences.  Telling the tragic love story of Mimi and Rodolfo, this production transports audiences to the streets of bohemian Paris.

Annabel Arden’s 1913 inspired pre-war production will be directed in this revival by Caroline Chaney and will feature a double cast for Mimi and Rodolfo.  American soprano and rising star Marina Costa-Jackson makes her debut with WNO to sing Mimi, sharing the role with Jessica Muirhead who returns to WNO following her performance as Micaëla in Carmen in 2014.  Tenors Dominick Chenes and Matteo Lippi will share the role of Rodolfo.  La bohème will be conducted by Manlio Benzi who makes his debut at WNO.

Former WNO Associate Artist Gary Griffiths returns to WNO to take the role of Marcello, and Australian Lauren Fagan makes her WNO main stage debut in the role of Musetta.  Jihoon Kim takes the role of Colline and Gareth Brynmor John takes the role of Schaunard.

Completing the trio of spring operas is another Puccini classic: Madam Butterfly. Joachim Herz’s beautiful sepia-toned production will be directed in this revival by Sarah Crisp and conducted by Lawrence Foster who returns to WNO following his performance conducting the world première of The Fall of the House of Usher in 2014.

Punctuated with irresistible music including the Humming Chorus and the moving Un bel dì aria, Madam Butterfly tells the heartbreaking tale of Cio-Cio-San’s love and loss at the hands of her American naval officer, Pinkerton.  This production features a double cast for the roles of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton.  South Korean-born soprano Karah Son will share the role of Cio-Cio-San with Linda Richardson who returns to WNO following recent performances in I Puritani and Moses in Egypt.  American tenor Jonathan Burton makes his WNO debut, sharing the role of Pinkerton with Paul Charles Clarke who returns to WNO following performances in Sweeney Todd during the 2015/16 season.

Former WNO Associate Artist Rebecca Afonwy-Jones returns to WNO to sing the role of Suzuki, and fellow Welsh favourites David Kempster and Richard Wiegold also return to sing the roles of Sharpless and Bonze respectively.

Talking about the season, WNO Artistic Director David Pountney says: “To bring Madame Butterfly and La Bohème together in one season is a luxurious offering for our audiences, but there is a delightful and no less passionate or moving sting in the tail: a small, intimate but deceptively powerful work by the Swiss composer Frank Martin, a very underrated musician. You may know by now that I take a particular delight in bringing such neglected gems to your notice! In the years leading up to the 2nd World War, Martin, from his safe observation post in Switzerland, reacted to the flagrant abuse of Wager’s music by the Nazis by composing an “alternative” Tristan and Isolde, which he called Le Vin herbé – literally “The spiked drink.” Martin’s work is small scale, deeply intense, personal, full of pent up emotion, rather than the Tsunami’s of sound that Wagner created. But Martin’s work is, in its very different way, just as powerful. He gathers together a group of singers, in this case our wonderful chorus, and induces them as a collective to create for us a narrative of the famous love story. As accompaniment we have a powerfully expressive string septet plus piano. It is amazing what power and what emotion Martin is able to conjure up with these apparently slender forces, but then we remember that Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, with just a few musicians in the pit, fills large theatres with its emotion and its special atmosphere. That is what Martin achieves, and every one of you who harbours that nagging bug of curiosity will want to experience this rare operatic opportunity.”

More information on WNO’s spring 2016 season is available at wno.org.uk/lovespoisonedchalice

Tickets for Le Vin herbé (25 April), La Boheme (26-28 April) and Madam Butterfly (27- 29 April) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres: cast announced for Pygmalion

 

Pygmalion

Pygmalion

‘The science of speech. That’s my profession. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.’

How far do accents define us? Is status still dictated by our mother tongue?

Sam Pritchard directs a radical new staging of Bernard Shaw’s acute comedy Pygmalion, a hilarious and poignant tale of two opposites, Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, trying to find a common language.

Pygmalion is a co-production between Headlong, Nuffield Theatres Southampton and West Yorkshire Playhouse. It is touring the country and will at Nuffield Southampton Theatres from 15 April to 123 May 2017.

The full cast is Alex Beckett (Henry Higgins), Ian Burfield (Alfred Doolittle), Gavi Singh Chera (Freddy Eynsford Hill), Flaminia Cinque (Mrs Pearce/Mrs Eynsford-Hill), Natalie Gavin (Eliza Doolittle), Racheal Ofori (Clara Eynsford-Hill), Liza Sadovy (Mrs Higgins), Raphael Sowole (Colonel Pickering).

Shaw’s celebrated play was first staged over 100 years ago and is recognised as one of the most enduring and perceptive of comedies.  In this audacious new staging, Sam Pritchard playfully carves a contemporary world on stage using sound and video technology which examines class identity and questions how far accents and speech can define us in Britain today.

Sam Pritchard is the Associate Director (International) at the Royal Court and was winner of the JMK Award for Directors in 2012.  His credits include Anna (Aix Opera Festival/ENOA Workshop), There Has Possibly Been An Incident (Royal Exchange and Edinburgh St Stephens/Soho Theatre/Berlin Theatertreffen), Buy Nothing Day (Company of Angels), Fireface (Young Vic) and Galka Motalka (Royal Exchange).  He will be directing Guillermo Calderon’s play B for the Royal Court in September 2017.

Pygmalion continues Headlong’s progressive work with emerging directors, giving a director in the early stages of their career the opportunity to present work on main stages across the country. This programme has previously supported work from Simon Godwin, Natalie Abrahami, Robert Icke, Blanche McIntyre, Ben Kidd and Ellen McDougal.

Headlong has partnered with Nuffield Southampton Theatres on supporting emerging directors on several occasions, productions have included Romeo and Juliet in 2012 and The Seagull in 2013 and Spring Awakening in 2014.

 

Natalie Gavin plays Eliza.  Natalie is a well-known actress from stage and screen.  Her theatre credits include Mermaid (Shared Experience/Tour), Bracken Moor (Tricycle), The Crucible (Old Vic) and Shirley (Hope Mill Theatre).  Her many television roles include Jericho (ITV), The Syndicate (BBC), Prisoners Wives (BBC), The Chase (BBC) and Shameless (Channel 4). Film credits include HectorJasmine and The Arbor.

Alex Beckett plays Henry Higgins.  Alex’s stage credits include Edward II (National Theatre), Praxis Makes Perfect (National Theatre of Wales), The Changeling (Young Vic), Life for Beginners (Theatre 503), Here (Rose Theatre Kingston) and Much Ado About Nothing (Wyndhams Theatre). Television credits include Love Nina (BBC), Cuffs (BBC), WIA (BBC), I Live With Models (Comedy Central) and Twenty Twelve (BBC).  Radio credits includes Tracks on BBC Radio 4.

Liza Sadovy plays Mrs Higgins. Liza’s stage credits include Wicked (Apollo Theatre), Oliver (Sheffield Theatre), And Then The Dark (New Wolsey), A Separate Reality (Royal Court), Alice in Wonderland (Theatre Royal Northampton), La Bete (Comedy Theatre & Music Box Theatre NY), Annie Get Your Gun (Young Vic), The Good Soul of Szechuan (Young Vic) and Sunday In the Park with George (Wyndham’s Theatre).  Television credits include BabylonThe Honourable WomanExtras, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Midsomer Murders.

Ian Burfield plays Alfred Doolittle.  Ian’s stage credits include Floyd Collins (Wilton Music Hall), Great Expectations (West Yorkshire Playhouse), All My Sons (Theatre Clwyd) Dealer’s Choice (Royal & Derngate/Oxford Playhouse), One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre), A Comedy of Errors (National Theatre), The Kitchen (NT) and Major Barbara (NT). Television credits include Holby City (BBC), Humans (Channel 4), Tennison (ITV) and Call the Midwife (BBC). Film credits include The Selfish GiantV is For VendettaThe Confession and The Krays.

Flaminia Cinque plays Mrs Pearce/Mrs Eynsford-Hill. Her stage credits include Martyr (Unicorn/ATC), The Winslow Boy (Octagon), Measure for Measure (Almeida), Portrait of a Lady (Peter Hall Company), Push Up (Royal Court) and More Grimm Tales (Young Vic).  Television credits include The Moonstone (BBC), New Tricks (BBC) and Ashes to Ashes (BBC).

Raphael Sowole plays Colonel Pickering. His stage credits include the title role in Hamlet for Black Theatre Live. Measure for Measure (Young Vic), The Calm (RSC), They Drink it in the Congo (Almeida), The Merchant of Venice (Almeida) and Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Cheek by Jowl).  Television credits include Black Mirror SpecialEdge of Heaven and Youngers. Film credits include Bastille Day and Starred Up.

Gavi Singh Chera plays Freddy Eynsford Hill. His stage credits include Behind the Beautiful Forevers (National Theatre) and We are Here (NT).

Racheal Ofori plays Clara Eynsford-Hill. Her stage credits include Romeo and Juliet (Kenneth Brannagh Company); This is Private Property (Camden People’s Theatre), The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Portrait (Camden People’s Theatre and Tour).

LISTING AND TOUR INFORMATION

Saturday 4 to Saturday 25 February 2017

West Yorkshire Playhouse

Tickets: 0113 213 7700

www.wyp.org.uk

Tuesday 28 February to Friday 3 March 2017

Warwick Arts Centre

Tickets: 024 7652 4524

www.warwickartscentre.co.uk

Tuesday 7 to Saturday 11 March 2017

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse

Tickets: 0151 709 4776

www.everymanplayhouse.com

Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 March 2017

Leicester Curve Studio

Tickets: 0116 242 3595

www.curveonline.co.uk

Tuesday 28 March to Saturday 1st April 2017

Cheltenham, Everyman Theatre

Tickets: 01242 572573

www.everymantheatre.org.uk

Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 April 2017

Bath Theatre Royal

Tickets: 01225 448844

www.theatreroyal.org.uk

Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 April 2017

Oxford Playhouse

Tickets: 0186 530 5305
www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Tuesday 25 April to Saturday 13 May 2017

NST Campus, Nuffield Southampton Theatres

Tickets: 023 8067 1771

www.nstheatres.co.uk

 

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Top 5 Shows of the Year (according to me)

Seiriol Davies

This year’s Top 5 Shows Of The Year list was really hard to put together.

Firstly, the standard was extraordinarily high. There was not enough room for amazing stuff by more people. Too much good theatre – not a disaster, but annoying when it comes to a list.

N.B. This was going to be a Top 10 list but I haven’t really done any Christmas shopping so a Top 5 seemed more achievable. Apols.

How to Win Against History

  1. Much as I liked The Grinning Man (see below) it was How To Win Against History that hit the spot in 2016. It’s no coincidence that this show was the highest reviewed show of the year at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s all about HTWAH really. A feverishly amusing biographical musical about Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquis of Anglesey. This is musical theatre at its most adventurous: a pensive, glorious extravaganza that redefines the term “ripped-up musical”. It is an astounding melodious creation by the gifted Seiriol Davies.
Seiriol Davies

Seiriol Davies

Here is what Seiriol had to say on being number one: Oh my stars and garters, what a thing. I’m really delighted it went down so well – from a hot, dark little box by a park in Edinburgh it now looks like the show’s going to go far. We’ve some very exciting plans for it in 2017, they’re gonna take us all over the UK (subtly pressure your beloved local venues for news), including a lovely transfer to the capital (currently London) and it’s a bloody amazing feeling that Henry and his bizarre, spangly, preposterous, feels-making story are going to get in front of ever more people. See, I told you it was mainstream.

You can read my chat with Seiriol  here 

 

 

The Grinning Man

Tom Morris

Tom Morris

  1. Now that is how you do a musical. The Grinning Man is a brand-new musical from Bristol Old Vic, in its bold 250th anniversary year, directed by Tom Morris (War Horse) and based on the Victor Hugo novel and cult silent movie ‘The Man Who Laughs’. This macabre musical fairytale featured ingenious puppetry and a perfect marriage of the alternative and the discordant mainstream. As well as being expertly written the majority of the songs are skilfully structured: Seriously, well done everyone.

You can read my chat with Tom Morris  here 

 

 

 

This House

James Graham

  1. This House transferred to the Garrick Theatre, following its run at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. Having originally played two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, directed remarkably by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin. ‘FYI’ James Graham may just be the brightest playwright that Britain has to offer. Does he occupy that space by accident? Does he bollocks. Nothing about this play or Graham’s career seems left to chance. That’s not to say this play feels stilted. On the contrary, he seems to have fun with the space he’s in. This House is by turns hilarious, poignant and thrilling.

You can read my recent chat with James Graham here 

 

The Children by Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood

Lucy Kirkwood

  1. As the Royal Court entered its 60th anniversary season The Children was a welcome entry to the dynamic and eclectic season. A Kirkwood play is a gift from the Theatre Gods. The premise is simple: Two retired nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage in a post-apocalyptic world by the sea. Anyway, what really made this new play so wonderful were the harmonious performances from Francesca Annis, Ron Cook and Deborah Findlay. Whatever the frame of reference, a huge proportion of this slow-burning play situates itself outside the realms that dominate commercial theatre. Bloody brilliant etc, etc and so on. The Children runs at The Court until 14 January

 

 

Us/Them 

  1. Set during a hostage drama in a school in Beslan the greatest of evils, terrorists, chose the greatest good – a group of children as their victims. There was a feeling of relaxed charm this production, and it’s a feeling many artists find hard to engineer. BRONKS Theatre pulled it off. This is not a perfect show, but it does contain enough perfect moments to make it the best Belgium import of 2016, not to mention the best piece of dance-theatre of Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and winning The Scotsman Fringe First Award, Us/Them is coming to the National Theatre in early 2017, so book now to avoid disappointment. Book now – you know it makes sense. <<You can read my review of Us/Them here>>

(I feel a bit bad about ‘Funny Girl’ not being on the list – it probably should have been. OH WELL.)

Content Provider by Stewart Lee, a brand new long-form show touring throughout 2017

 

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee © Idil Sukan

After four years of writing and performing half hour episodes of stand up for his TV show, CONTENT PROVIDER is Stewart’s first brand new, long-form, full length show since the award-winning Carpet Remnant World.  The show will be playing at Mayflower Theatre on 3 of May 2017.

“The most consistently funny show of his brilliant career … I laughed till it hurt.”

The Times ★★★★★

“Characteristically twisty and frequently brilliant” The Guardian ★★★★

“Venomously funny” Standard ★★★★

“Two marvellous misanthropic hours… there’s no-one else to touch him”

Mail on Sunday ★★★★★

Stewart Lee began stand-up in 1988 at the age of 20, and won the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1990.  In 2001 he co-wrote the libretto for Richard Thomas’s Jerry Springer, The Opera, which went on to win four Olivier Awards.  His most recent live shows have been Carpet Remnant World (2011), Much A Stew About Nothing (2013) and Room With a Stew (2015). He made four series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle for the BBC which won Best Male TV Comic and Best Comedy Entertainment Performance at the British Comedy Awards in 2011 and a BAFTA in 2012. His fourth and final BBC series of Comedy Vehicle is now available on DVD.  Stewart is also an occasional newspaper columnist and has recently published a collection of his short prose, also entitled Content Provider.

Tickets for Stewart Lee Content Provider (3 May 2017) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

FOOTLOOSE returns for 2017 UK Tour and limited season at Peacock Theatre

The 2016 cast of Footloose  Photo Credit Matt Martin

Following a smash-hit 2016 tour which saw over 160,000 people cut loose across the UK, Footloose: The Musical will burst back onto the stage in 2017 when an International Tour launches from New Wimbledon Theatre on Friday 21 April. The tour will include a strictly limited West End season at the Peacock Theatre, playing for three weeks from Tuesday 12 September 2017.  Full tour schedule attached.

Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet. Featuring classic 80s hits including Holding Out for a HeroAlmost ParadiseLet’s Hear it for the Boy and the unforgettable title track, Footloose: The Musical is set to take the world by storm once again, bursting with youthful spirit, dazzling dance and electrifying music.

When the film was released in 1984, it became the highest-grossing February release in US film history.  The soundtrack album ended the year-long reign of Michael Jackson’s Thriller at number one and went on to top album charts all over the world, eventually selling in excess of 17 million copies.  Footloose was nominated for a Golden Globe, and both the title song and Let’s Hear It for the Boy received Academy Award nominations. Footloose: The Musical first opened on Broadway in 1998 where it ran for 709 performances, with a London production following in 2006.

Gareth Gates and Maureen Nolan will reprise their roles as Willard and Vi Moore.

Gareth Gates rose to fame through the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2001, going on to sell over 5 million records worldwide and have hits across the globe. His version of Unchained Melody sold over a million copies in the UK and is the 3rd best-selling single of the Noughties. Gareth is also the youngest ever-male solo artist to debut at number 1.  More recently Gareth has enjoyed a successful career on stage, with credits including Les MisérablesLegally Blonde and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. In 2014 Gareth appeared in the final series of Dancing on Ice, and joined boyband 5th Story as part of ITV’s second series of The Big Reunion, touring arenas with bands including Blue and Five.

Gareth will not appear in Wimbledon and Chester.

Maureen Nolan has been singing with her sisters since she was nine years old, when they became one of Europe’s first girl bands, The Nolans. Best known for their smash hit single I’m in the Mood for Dancing, The Nolans enjoyed phenomenal record sales worldwide, and worked with some of the world’s most respected artists including Frank Sinatra. On stage, Maureen has played Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers in the West End and on tour to critical acclaim. She was the fourth Nolan sister to play the role, earning them entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Other credits include Sadie in Girl’s Behind, Jill in Mum’s the Word and Sarah in The Naked Truth.

Further casting is to be announced.

Footloose: The Musical has music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and is adapted for the stage by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. It is based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford. It is directed by Racky Plews (American Idiot, West End) with choreography by Matthew Cole, design by Sara Perks and musical supervision by Mark Crossland. It is produced by David Hutchinson and Phillip Rowntree for Selladoor Productions, Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Jason Haigh-Ellery and Stephen McGill Productions. It is presented by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe.

2017 UK TOUR

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 April 2017

NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE

Box Office www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre | 020 8545 7900

Gareth Gates will not appear in Wimbledon 

 

Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 May 2017

YORK GRAND OPERA HOUSE

Box Office www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york | 0844 871 3024

 

Monday 8 – Saturday 13 May 2017

WYCOMBE SWAN THEATRE

Box Office www.wycombeswan.co.uk | 01494 512 000

 

Monday 15 – Saturday 20 May 2017

RICHMOND THEATRE

Box Office www.atgtickets.com/richmond | 0844 871 7651

 

Monday 22 – Saturday 27 May 2017

QUEEN’S THEATRE, HORNCHURCH

Box Office www.queens-theatre.co.uk | 01708 443333

 

Tuesday 30 May – Saturday 3 June 2017

BUXTON OPERA HOUSE

Box Office www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk | 01298 72190

 

Monday 5 – Saturday 10 June 2017

VENUE CYMRU, LLANDUDNO

Box Office www.venuecymru.co.uk | 01492 872000

 

Tuesday 13 – Saturday 17 June 2017

COVENTRY BELGRADE THEATRE

Box Office www.belgrade.co.uk | 024 7655 3055

 

Monday 19 – Saturday 25 June 2017

SWANSEA GRAND THEATRE

Box Office www.swansea.gov.uk/swanseagrandtheatre | 01792 475715

 

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 July 2017

GUILDFORD G LIVE

Box Office www.glive.co.uk | 0844 7701 797

 

Wednesday 19 – Saturday 22 July 2017

CHURCHILL THEATRE, BROMLEY

Box Office www.churchilltheatre.co.uk | 020 3285 6000

 

Wednesday 26 July – Sunday 6 August 2017

KURSAAL OOSTENDE, BELGIUM

 

Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 August 2017

DEVONSHIRE PARK THEATRE, EASTBOURNE

Box Office www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk | 01323 412 000

 

Monday 21 – Saturday 26 August 2017

THE TOWNGATE THEATRE, BASILDON 

Box Office www.towngatetheatre.co.uk | 01268 465 465

 

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 September 2017

STORYHOUSE THEATRE, CHESTER

Box Office www.storyhouse.com | 0845 241 7868

Gareth Gates will not appear in Chester 

 

Tuesday 12 – Saturday 30 September 2017

THE PEACOCK THEATRE, LONDON

Performances Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Sat 2.30pm, Sun 4.00pm

Box Office www.peacocktheatre.com | 020 7863 8222

ON SALE FRIDAY 30 DECEMBER