Elf – A Christmas Spectacular starring David Essex and Martine McCutcheon

Elf
Elf

Elf

ELF, the hit West End and Broadway musical based on the Hollywood blockbuster movie starring Will Ferrell, is to be supersized into a Christmas spectacular which will tour the UK in December 2018. This extravaganza will play three major arenas this Christmas: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, Birmingham Genting Arena and Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. Tickets go on-sale on Friday 9 March at 9am.

 Starring pop legend David Essex as Buddy the Elf’s father, and Love Actually star and singer Martine McCutcheon as Buddy’s girlfriend, Jovie. Buddy the Elf will be played by comedy actor Tam Ryan, who counts Priscilla Presley amongst his past leading ladies. West End star Louise English will play Buddy’s stepmother. The cast also features Father Christmas and a line-up of 70 performers, including children from local Pauline Quirke Academy stage schools.

 As well as being a hugely successful singer/songwriter, director and best-selling author, David Essex has starred as the lead in many musicals from Evita to War of the Worlds and is particularly excited to be taking on the role of Buddy’s grumpy and unwitting dad. David said: “I’m really looking forward to taking Elf on tour.  The big special effects that we have lined-up are incredible, including a giant sleigh which will fly across the arena, an indoor snow blizzard and lots of skating which all adds to this perfect Christmas story.”

 Actress, singer and former EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon, added: “I’m absolutely delighted to be appearing in this wonderful show.  Elf is without doubt one of the all-time great Christmas movies, so I hope audiences in Cardiff, Birmingham and Nottingham will love this production just as much as the film!”

 Tam Ryan, who will be stepping into the big floppy shoes of Will Ferrell, said: “It’s such an honour to play this hugely popular movie character. It feels like Christmas has come early, see you in December!”

 The original stage version played to record breaking audiences in 2015/2016 at London’s Dominion Theatre and firmly established this heart-warming tale of Buddy the Elf leaving Santa at the North Pole to seek his real father in New York as a Christmas classic.  This new Christmas Spectacular production will feature a book written by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers and Hairspray) and an original score of great new songs.  The original staging will be enhanced with giant screens, showing both computer graphic backdrops and live action close-ups. The 5,000 seat arena layout will have a 70-foot wide stage and a 60-foot long thrust stage, with some scenes taking place around and above the audience.

Elf will be produced by WBP Ltd, the team behind last year’s Christmas spectacular Peter Pan, which played at Arena Birmingham and The SSE Arena, Wembley.

For tickets, visit the venue box office or theticketfactory.com

Tickets enquires:                     www.buddytheelf.co.uk
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Chickenshed’s Lou Stein: ‘There is a world of actors who are not given opportunities because of perceived disability and we have to continue to open doors because they have so much to offer.’

Don’t know his face? You’ll certainly know the fruits of his labour. Lou Stein, the American director, founded the Gate, Notting Hill in 1979, ran Watford Palace theatre and is now the artistic director of Chickenshed – the inclusive theatre company based in north London.

He is the ultimate unsung hero.

Lou-Stein-700x455[1]

Lou Stein

Chickenshed are in the middle of a vibrant Spring season. The varied programme of work addresses the issues of man-made climate change, protest and an exciting reimagining of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He is also responsible for 70 full-time staff. Artistic directors face more scrutiny than ever, does he feel the pressure? “As Artistic Director there is a great deal of harnessing and managing the energy of this wonderful company,” he says, smiling.

Stein’s artistic vision is a society that enables everyone to flourish and Chickenshed’s mission is to create high quality theatre that celebrates diversity and inspires positivity and change. What are the biggest challenges in 2018? “I think the biggest challenge for Chickenshed is certainly the social and political atmosphere at the moment,” he explains. “Charities are coming under a certain scrutiny but with Brexit, Trump and cuts to local authority funding, there is less money coming in to all charities and that is a real challenge. One of the things I’m interested in doing is making things sustainable and continuing our important role as an inclusive company with strong social aims.”

Born in Brooklyn, Lou moved here in the late 70’s. What on earth does he think of Trump?  “I feel so distant from American politics now,” he replies, dropping his tone, speaking more slowly. “Part of my reason for moving to Britain in the late 70’s was partly political and I didn’t like what was going on in my country at that time. I certainly look at it’s leadership now with disbelief as I think a lot of people do – I don’t think we are in an irreversible downturn – however there is a lot of damage being done.”

lou-stein-09[1]

Lou in rehearsals

Chickenshed is effectively a theatre as well as a higher education college. What does he think about English schools cutting the number of pupils taking subjects such as dance and fine art after the introduction of the EBacc? “What is going on is devastating,” he replies. “It’s a time bomb in a lot of ways. Firstly, the role that music, theatre and art plays in the development of individual’s confidence is undervalue by the educational authorities. My son – who enjoys music and arts- may never have the opportunities, except through Chickenshed, that other students have.  There will be a huge drop out of talent without access to a creative curriculum. I think all theatre is political and that the education of theatre in schools is highly political and very important,” says Stein.

What does he think of Chichester Festival Theatre’s aim for a 50:50 gender balance in their 2018 acting company? “I feel like we at Chickenshed are way ahead of the curve because of our inclusive practices,” he says.  “If I take the monolog season: eight plays and seven of them feature female voices and characters. What’s more four of them are directed by women and six out of seven of the plays are written by women. I get worried about subscribing to quotas because it is important that decision makers genuinely believe in the issue of inequality, not because they are made to believe in it.”

Stein believes, too, that the shift in arts journalism; the slicing of word counts and the new wave of theatre bloggers, is a positive thing. “I think that it is not necessarily a bad thing that the newspaper critic is becoming less dominant,” he says. “Now you get a fresher collection of voices. Throughout your career what tends to happen is that there will be critics who like what you do, champion you and there are some that don’t. There are a lot of new voices online and as a director I’ve found that very liberating,” says Stein.

He is sanguine about the future. “I’d like us to open our eyes to those people from the disability world,” he says. “It is time for the theatre world to fully embrace the opportunity to widen their understanding of what diversity means,” he says.  “There is a world of actors who are not given opportunities because of perceived disability and we have to continue to open doors because they have so much to offer.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest  runs at Chicken Shed, Studio Theatre 17 Apr – 12 May. Box Office: 020 8292 9222

New children’s cast and online lottery announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical

RSC's Matilda The Musical_
RSC's Matilda The Musical_

RSC’s Matilda The Musical_ March 2018_Sara Munday, Savannah Read, Olivia Wells and Lily-Mae Evans who share the role of Matilda_Photo by Manuel Harlan

  • New children’s casting announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical 
  • Sara Munday and Olivia Wells join Lily-Mae Evans and Savannah Read in the title role from 13 March 2018
  • Brand new online lottery launches on Monday 5 March 2018  with band a tickets available for £25 at every performance
  • Currently in its seventh year in the West End and now booking until 10 February 2019, the multi award-winning musical’s Uk & Ireland tour starts on Monday 5 March at Leicester Curve 

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s West End production of Matilda The Musical has announced that Sara Munday and Olivia Wells will join Lily-Mae Evans and Savannah Read in the title role of Matilda from 13 March 2018. Seen by over 7.7 million people across more than 60 cities worldwide, the multi award-winning production is now playing its seventh year in London, booking at the Cambridge Theatre until 10 February 2019.

Also announced today is Matilda The Musical’s first ever online ticket lottery which will begin on Monday 5 March. The online rolling lottery offers the chance to purchase two Band A seats at £25 each for every performance. The lottery can be entered at any time for all performances in a two-week period and lucky winners will be notified 3 to 5 days in advance of being given a 24 hour window to book their tickets online.
In addition to the new ticket lottery, there will continue to be sixteen £5 tickets held for 16-25 year olds at every performance which are available to purchase in person from 10am on the day of each performance at the Cambridge Theatre Box Office.
Winner of 86 major international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the hit show is now the longest running production to play at the Cambridge Theatre and is one of the top twenty longest running musicals in the West End having now welcomed over 3 million audiences members.
The RSC’s Matilda The Musical UK and Ireland tour will have its first performance on Monday 5 March at Leicester Curve, where it will play until 24 March before touring to Dublin Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (4 – 28 April 2018),Sunderland Empire (8 May – 2 June 2018), Milton Keynes Theatre (5 – 30 June 2018), Birmingham Hippodrome (3 July – 8 September 2018), Manchester Palace (18 September – 24 November 2018) and Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre (4 December – 12 January 2019).
The other young performers announced today join the London company in the three teams who play the roles of Bruce, Lavender, Amanda and the rest of the pupils at Crunchem Hall and are as follows: Isabella AleppoBobby Beynon,Jacob BlandMia ByersImogen DarwenDarmani EbojiAsher EzequielDaniel Etim Finnemore,  Ashirah Foster NoticeRuben GarciaMikey ImpiazziTaziva-Faye KatsandeJackson LaingSadie Victoria Lim,Madison LocksColby MulgrewJack Riley and Sam Winser.
Omar Cain-FrancisLucy CheesmanLiberty GreigLauren HensonVaidile JonikasMia McLoughlin andMartin Soosaipillai will continue in the roles of Bruce, Lavender, Amanda and the pupils at Crunchem Hall.
The show’s forthcoming child cast change will see Lily-Mae, Sara, Savannah and Olivia join the current adult cast which includes David Shannon as Miss Trunchbull, Gina Beck as Miss Honey, and Tom Edden and Marianne Benedict as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.
The full adult cast includes Keisha Amponsa BansonRichard AstburyGina BeckMarianne BenedictDavid BirchTom EddenMaria GracianoKarina HindPeter HoustonKatie LeeVicki Lee TaylorKris Manuel,Bryan MottramTom MuggeridgeEmma Robotham-HuntDavid ShannonSimon ShortenBiancha SzynalCallum Train and Robert Tregoning.
Matilda The Musical is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and direction by Matthew Warchus. The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.
Inspired by the incomparable Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews. The New York production of Matilda The Musicalopened in April 2013 at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre and was celebrated on 10 “Top Ten” lists for 2013, including TIME Magazine’s #1 Show of the Year.
Matilda The Musical has now been seen by more than 7.7 million people worldwide, having played in over 60 cities with more than 5500 performances in the West End, on Broadway, across North America and in Australia and New Zealand.
Matilda The Musical swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway.
The Australian and New Zealand production won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, and played sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland. The show broke further records in July 2016 by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated. Matilda The Musical will have its first non-English language production at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, South Korea from September 2018 until February 2019.
Matilda The Musical is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company with André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood as Executive Producers. The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.
LISTINGS INFORMATION
MATILDA THE MUSICAL
Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, WC2H 9HU
Booking until 10 February 2019
Tuesdays 7pm
Wednesday – Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday & Saturday 2:30pm
Sundays 3pm
Box Office: Cambridge Theatre 020 7087 7745 / RSC Ticket Hotline 01789 403493
No booking fee.

Catherine Tate announced as host of Olivier Awards 2018

Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate © Matt Crockett

  • Catherine Tate announced as host of Olivier Awards 2018 with Mastercard
  •  2018 Be Inspired Champions announced. 
  • Road To Oliviers a new four-part series to premiere with Facebook Live throughout March and April
  • Nominations for the Olivier Awards 2018 will be announced live on Facebook At 1Pm On Tuesday 6ThMarch Via This Link

The Olivier Awards with Mastercard, the UK’s most prestigious stage honours, is delighted to announce Catherine Tate as the host of this year’s 42nd Olivier Awards ceremony.  The ceremony will be hosted at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 8th April and broadcast to the UK and worldwide.

Catherine Tate is an award-winning actress and writer renowned for her BBC Two series The Catherine Tate Show and her central role in BBC One Doctor Who alongside David Tennant.  Stage credits include Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory, 2015), The Vote (Donmar Warehouse, 2015), Season’s Greetings (National Theatre, 2011), Much Ado About Nothing (West End, 2011) and Some Girl(s) (West End, 2005) as well as credits at the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Catherine presented BBC Two Shakespeare Live! From the RSC with David Tennant and the pair recently reunited for Disney’s Duck Tails (2017).  Other recent film credits include playing Baba Yaga in animated horror comedy Monster Family (2017).

Catherine Tate commented, “I’m delighted to be hosting this year’s Olivier Awards. Theatre has always been a big love of mine both as a performer and as an audience member. For me it’s the shared experience that can’t be beaten. The memories I have of theatre stay with me long after the show has ended, even the productions I caught as a child, such is the power of this wonderful medium! There is so much to celebrate within the UK theatre scene and it’s my pleasure to be involved in this exciting and inspiring event.”

The Oliviers Awards is also delighted to announce the 2018 Be Inspired champions, voted for by members of the public and industry.  This year’s winners include Ballet Teacher, Angela Allport; accessible theatre campaigner and reviewer, Pippa Stacey; Youth Theatre Director, Cheryl Govan and editor of The Musical Theatre Appreciation Society social media platforms, Willy Mukendi.  The champions will attend the ceremony on 8th April to receive their plaques during the red carpet show.

2018 sees the premiere of Road to the Oliviers, a new four-part series building excitement with intimate performances, interviews with the nominees and backstage footage from nominated shows.  These will be co-produced by the Olivier Awards and Facebook, and broadcast live on 16th, 23rd, 29th March and 6th April.

Nominations for the Olivier Awards 2018 will be hosted on Facebook on Tuesday 6th March at 1pm.

Mastercard continues its partnership with Society of London Theatre and its headline sponsorship of the Olivier Awards, bringing cardholders with a passion for theatre closer to the genre they love.

Full broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

Cast Changes Announced for MISS SAIGON UK Tour

Elana Martin
Elana Martin

Elana Martin

Cameron Mackintosh today announced that from Monday 30 April Elana Martin will play ‘Ellen’ and Aicelle Santos will play ‘Gigi’ in the current UK tour of his acclaimed production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical MISS SAIGON. They join Red Concepción as ‘The Engineer’, Sooha Kim as ‘Kim’, Ashley Gilmour as ‘Chris’, Ryan O’Gorman as ‘John’ and Gerald Santos as ‘Thuy’. At certain performances ‘The Engineer’ is played by Christian Rey Marbella, and ‘Kim’ is played by Joreen Bautista.

Aicelle Santos

Aicelle Santos

Also new to the cast from 30 April will be Iroy Abesamis, Jonathon Bentley, Devine Cresswell, Ross Lee Fowkes, Yukina Hasebe, Rob Herron, Jade Ma, Samuel Nicholas, Pierce Rogan, Louis Stockil, Joaquin Pedro Valdes, Brad Veitch, Gabriella Williams, Zheng Xi Yong and Sian Yeo,

Elana Martin’s West End credits include “Travesties” at the Apollo Theatre and “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Her other credits include the UK tours of “39 Steps” and “Scrooge”.

Aicelle Santos is a recording and concert artist in the Philippines appearing in many concerts as both a solo performer and one third of the successful trio ‘La Diva’. As an actress, her theatre credits include “Katy”, “Rak Of Aegis” for which she won a Best Actress in a Musical award and “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag” for which she won a Best Featured Actress in a Musical award.

Red Concepción’s many theatre credits in his native Philippines include ‘Adam/Felicia’ in “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” for which he won the ALIW Award and Gawah Buhay Award, ‘Tommy’ in “The Normal Heart” and ‘Alan Strang’ in “Equus” as well as the musicals “West Side Story” and “Hairspray”.

Sooha Kim made her professional debut in this recent production of “Miss Saigon” at the Prince Edward Theatre where she covered the role of ‘Kim’ before going on to play the role in the Japanese production. Her credits whilst training in Korea include ‘Maureen’ in “Rent” and ‘Carmen’ in “Fame”.

Ashley Gilmour also appeared in “Miss Saigon” at the Prince Edward Theatre. His most recent credits include playing ‘Link Larkin’ in the national tour of “Hairspray”.

Ryan O’Gorman played the role of ‘Tom Collins’ in the 20th Anniversary UK Tour of “Rent”.  His other theatre credits include “LesMisérables”, at the Queen’s Theatre, “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre, “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace Theatre and the UK tour of “Oliver!”.

Gerald Santos was the youngest ever winner of the biggest singing contest in the Philippines, Pinoy Pop Superstar. He has released five studio albums and has won numerous awards including winning twice Best Male Concert performer at the prestigious ALIW Awards.

From 30 April the full cast will be Iroy Abesamis, David Allwood, Joreen Bautista, Jonathon Bentley,  Red Concepción, Vinny Coyle,  Devine Cresswell, Kristine Diaz, Aynrand Ferrer, Ross Lee Fowkes, Ashley Gilmour, Seng Henk Goh,  Yukina Hasebe, Rob Herron, Sooha Kim, David Kar-Hing Lee, Amanda Lindgren, Winchester Lopez,  Jade Ma, Christian Rey Marbella, Elana Martin, Thao Nguyen, Samuel Nicholas, Ryan O’Gorman, Youngjoo Park, Pierce Rogan, Aicelle Santos, Gerald Santos, Louis Stockil, Eloisa Amalia Tan, Gavin Tsang, Joaquin Pedro Valdes, Brad Veitch, Amadeus Williams, Gabriella Williams, Sian Yeo,  Zheng Xi Yong and Gerald Zarcilla.

Last year, this production of MISS SAIGON opened on Broadway where it played to nightly ovations and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. The New Yorker called it a “Dynamite Broadway revival”. When the smash-hit run of this production opened in London in May 2014 to record-breaking advance sales and critical acclaim, Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph wrote, “This thrilling new production spills out beyond the theatre and speaks directly to the times we live in”. The show swept the board at the 2015 Whatsonstage.com awards winning a record breaking nine awards, the most awards ever won by a single show in the 15-year history of the awards including: Best West End Show and Best Revival of a Musical.

 MISS SAIGON tells the story of the last days of the Vietnam War, 17 year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

MISS SAIGON has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, adapted from original French lyrics by Alain Boublil, with additional lyrics by Michael Mahler. The new production is directed by Laurence Connor with musical staging by Bob Avian and additional choreography by Geoffrey Garratt.  Production design is by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley based on an original concept by Adrian Vaux; costume design by Andreane Neofitou; lighting design by Bruno Poet; projections by Luke Halls; sound design by Mick Potter; and orchestrations by William David Brohn.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical MISS SAIGON has become one of the most successful musicals in history.  The original Broadway production of MISS SAIGON opened on April 11, 1991 with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million).  The show went on to play for nearly ten years and 4,063 performances seen by more than 5.9 million people. MISS SAIGON has been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

MISS SAIGON UK TOUR 2018/2019

www.miss-saigon.com

WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2018

MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON

www.mayflower.org.uk – 02380 711811

WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018

MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester  0844 871 3019

WEDNESDAY 16 MAY – SATURDAY 23 JUNE 2018

THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME

www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome  0844 871 3012

WEDNESDAY 4 JULY – SATURDAY 4 AUGUST 2018

THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

www.theatreroyal.com  01752 267222 

WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST – SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL

www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk    01603 63 00 00

WEDNESDAY 19 SEPTEMBER – SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER 2018

BRADFORD ALHAMBRA

www.bradford-theatres.co.uk 01274 432 000

WEDNESDAY 24 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER

SUNDERLAND EMPIRE

www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire  0844 871 3022

WEDNESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2018 – SUNDAY 13 JANUARY 2019

THEATRE 11, ZURICH

www.musical.ch/de/theater11zuerich

Smash Hit Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams makes London Premier at Underbelly Festival 6 April – 20 May

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

  • Smash Hit Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams makes London Premiere at Underbelly Festival for six weeks only
  • A 14 strong cast tells the tale of the circus through astonishing synchronised feats of acrobatics, juggling, contortion and dance, as seen on ITV’s royal variety performance
  • inspired by the cast’s childhood dreams of becoming circus performers and the transformative power of circus to effect positive social change
  • Circus Abyssinia runs at Underbelly Festival from 6th April – 20th May 2018
  • Tickets on sale now via  www.underbellyfestival.com

‘One of the best acts ever seen… Fun for all the family’. ★★★★★ Sunday Mail

‘A phenomenal hour of circus that shows that dreams can come true’ ★★★★★ Broadway Baby

‘Sensational Entertainment’ ★★★★ The Times

Following a smash hit run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and as seen on ITV’s Royal Variety Performance, Circus Abyssinia makes its London premiere at Underbelly Festival for six weeks only. As circus marks its 250th anniversary this year, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a jubilant celebration of circus itself that will mesmerise audiences of all ages through the sheer infectious energy and spirit which fly from its cast.

Written by Cal McCrystal, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is an unashamedly joyful mix of astonishing stunts, astounding circus skills and enchanting adventure. The show dramatises in surreal, often comic and mostly wordless ways, the magical true tale of two Ethiopian brothers, Bibi and Bichu who dreamed as little boys of joining the circus, and stages the journey of how their dream came true. Performed from the perspective of the young brothers, through the universal language of circus, the show mixes autobiographical and fictional narratives to tell how the Bibi and Bichu became world-class jugglers.

Underbelly Festival audiences will be plunged into a world of daredevil wonders as they encounter a host of other circus dreamers: dancing, contorting, gravity-defying figures, all weaving tales of their own. The inimitable Circus Abyssinia Troupe, a team of dazzling and prodigiously talented acrobats from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, whose reputation for bold and vertiginous acrobatic displays are both awe-inspiring and heart-stopping to watch.

The multi-talented and incredibly versatile Circus Abyssinia Troupe celebrate the birth of a new Ethiopian tradition through a breath-taking range of circus skills including; human juggling, hand-vaulting, contortion, cloth spinning, Cyr Wheel, clowning and the astonishing eight strong double Chinese Pole act. Fusing theatrical storytelling with astonishing stunts, the show combines the arts and innovations of contemporary circus with Ethiopia’s artistic heritage to create one of the world’s first full-blown Ethiopian circuses. Surrealist and joy-driven, accompanied by a soundscape that draws on Ethiopia’s rich musical past and present, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a transformative celebration of circus itself.

From humble beginnings, Bibi and Bichu learnt their skills at a young age busking and tumbling for crowds in the city streets of Jimma, working tirelessly to master their craft and realise their dreams of joining the circus. Now world-renowned jugglers they have performed in thousands of shows in countries all over the world ranging from Japan to Germany. Bibi and Bichu discovered the incredible Circus Abyssinia Troupe acrobats at Circus Wingate, a circus school they have sponsored since 2010 as part of their ongoing commitment to support the development of Ethiopian circus in an effort to repay the kindness they received from other artists in their own careers. The troupe’s burgeoning circus careers have changed their lives and the lives of their families for the better in very real, significant ways: most were living in poverty until 2015.     

The brothers who now reside in the UK were also resident jugglers at the acclaimed Giffords Circus from 2002 – 2016, touring for 11 seasons throughout the south of England. It was during their time with Giffords, performing as part of Moon Songs in 2015 alongside renowned stage and screen director Cal McCrystal, that the brothers found their inspiration for Circus Abyssinia. The new show unfolds with a dreamlike sense inspired by the 2015 production but the driving force behind the performance is the transformative magic of circus itself, and all its acts play with the possibility that such magic and energy are forces that can be mastered.  

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is a surreal retelling of how the cast dreamed of the circus in a country without one and created a phenomenal new Ethiopian tradition. The show is an unmissable event for children and adults who will love the extraordinary physical feats of strength, dexterity and fluid grace, and the reminder that, when we work together and fight for them, dreams are for there for the taking.

LISTINGS

Underbelly and Bibi & Bichu present

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Underbelly Southbank Festival, London, SE1 8XX

Dates: Fri 6 April – Sun 2o May, (not 11th April), 7.30pm (6 April – 2 May, Tues-Fri), 7.45pm 3 – 20  May, Tues-Fri) 3pm & 6pm (Sat), 6pm(Sun)

Prices: from £14 previews, £19.50 weekdays, £23.50 weekends

Running time: 60mins

Age Range: Universal

Tickets available via www.underbellyfestival.com

CAST

Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam

The Circus Abyssinia Troupe:

Betelhem Dejene

Etsegenet Ashenafi

Helen Shimelse

Semeret Getachew

Lemlem

Alemayehu Mulugeta

Befekadu Esmael

Ezera Nigusse

Daniel Gezahegn

Miliyared Assfaw

Mikiyas Deneke

Yohanns Woilamo

Yosef Damot

Msganaw Gebremaryam

 

THE CREATIVE TEAM

Writer – Cal McCrystal

Director – Bichu Tesfamariam

Choreographer – Kate Smyth

Lighting Design – Mark Whatmough

World Book Day reveals over half of children at Key Stage Two are not being read to at home

World Book Day
  • Over half of children at Key Stage Two are not being read to at home
  • A new survey has demonstrated that shared reading encourages a reading habit that leads to better educational development
  • World Book Day launches three year campaign calling on parents and carers to read with children for just 10 minutes a day to kickstart their child’s reading habit 
  • World Book Day is celebrated across the UK and Ireland today, Thursday 1st March 2018

Results from the annual National Literacy Trust surveyi, which gathered data from schools across the UK (49,042 pupils), reveals that nearly half (47.5%) of children aged 8-11 are not reading with someone outside of school, a figure which increases to nearly 80% (77.2%) across the full school age range.

The results are despite the fact that over half (50.4%) of those who read at home say it helps them to feel calm, as well as evidence showing that children who don’t read with someone at home enjoy reading less (75% vs 84.7%). This problem is even more pronounced for those receiving free school meals (65.8%).

The survey shows an urgent need to encourage shared reading, given its direct impact on reading enjoyment, and indications that children who enjoy reading more do better at school – children and young people who enjoy reading very much are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their ageii. In response, World Book Day has launched a three-year campaign to get children and adults to ‘Share A Story’ and read with children for just 10 minutes a day to help form reading habits, cement a love of reading and reverse this worrying trend.

Reading to a child on a daily basis through childhood, for just 10 minutes a day, is one of the most important factors in raising a reader for life. Research shows that 65% of 5-7 year olds read to themselves when they are read to nearly every day and this rises to 73% for 8-13 year oldsiii. Reading for pleasure is positively linked with literacy-related benefits as well to as a higher performance in maths and scienceiv. Children who read for enjoyment are likely to do significantly better at school than their peersv.

As well as directly contributing to the development and enjoyment of independent reading, shared reading helps children feel calm and reassured and is shown to significantly help the bonding experience with a child for adults and improve wellbeingvi.

Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust said:“At the National Literacy Trust, we know that a love of reading can dramatically change a child’s life story. Parents and carers play a crucial role in helping children discover this passion and research shows that sharing a story with your child for just 10 minutes a day can significantly boost how well they do at school, at work and in life. This World Book Day, we’re encouraging parents to set a regular time every day to read with their child – just 10 minutes can make all the difference!”

Lauren Child, Waterstones Children’s Laureate said: “Sharing a story with your child is a lovely way of winding down at the end of the day. Reading together lets a child know by example that books are a good thing, creating a habit of reading and a special bond.”

World Book Day have launched a toolkit of ideas and downloadable resources to help parents and carers, employees and colleagues to get involved in the ‘Share A Story’ initiative. They have suggested ways to get involved for schools, adults and booksellers, with ideas ranging from encouraging companies to let staff to leave work on time on World Book Day to make it home in time for the bedtime story to pop-ups, reading cafes and assemblies.

Ideas for schools and nurseries include:

  • Invite parents and carers in for a storytelling session with hot chocolate and your child’s favourite teddy
  • Hold Share a Story sessions in classes, with older children reading to younger children or pupils sharing their favourite story with the rest of the class
  • Invite grandparents or other special guests in to be surprise story tellers
  • Create book borrowing boxes
  • Put up posters around your school or nursery to encourage people to join in
  • Start book clubs at lunch or after school
  • Show our Share a Story assemblies, which you can find here and here
  • Host a book-special breakfast club
  • Get parents involved – hand out our Share A Story For 10 Minutes Today letters explaining the crucial difference sharing a story for just 10 minutes a day can have on their child’s future and encourage them to start the habit now with fun ideas and top tips from expert storytellers
  • Make some noise about books and join in with BookClubbing – encourage students to launch their own YA Book Club, get them sharing the books they love using #ShareAStory or run your own poll in school to find their top reads

Ideas for workplaces and businesses include:

  • Encourage staff to leave work on time on World Book Day so they can make it home in time for the bedtime story
  • Start a book club
  • Invite your local bookshop in to run a pop-up bookshop for the day
  • Hold a Very Short Story competition
  • Create a reading café
  • Start a #ShareAStory email chain
  • Invite employees to bring in a book for a book-swap
  • Put up WBD posters around your workplace
  • Share information about the campaign on your company intranets

Ideas for booksellers and libraries include:

  • Extend opening hours for a special Share A Story session or hold one during the day
  • Invite an author or entertainer in to Share a Story with children and adults
  • Invite children to become book reviewers with our book review display templates
  • Display Share A Story posters in your shop or library to encourage people to join in the campaign

 

World Book Day marks the world’s biggest celebration of reading for pleasure, where the UK and Ireland’s entire book industry works proactively together to address falling literacy levels and create readers of the future. Last year over 1.2 million £1 book tokens were redeemed, enabling 1 in 4 children (1 in 3 for those receiving free school meals) to ‘purchase’ their first ever book. Research by the National Literacy Trust* has indicated that of the nation’s 8-11-year-olds, 89.5% are aware of World Book Day and in 2016, 60% were inspired to read more by the celebration of reading*.

The World Book Day books for 2018 in full:

  • Oi Goat! by Kes Gray and Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Mr Men: My Book About Me By Mr Silly written and illustrated by Adam Hargreaves, original concept by Roger Hargreaves (Egmont)
  • The Baby Brother From Outer Space! by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham (Nosy Crow)
  • Paddington Turns Detective and Other Funny Stories by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain, illustrated by Clair Rossiter (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Terry’s Dumb Dot Story: A Treehouse Tale by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Macmillan)
  • The Girl Who Thought She Was a Dog by Clare Balding, illustrated by Tony Ross (Puffin)
  • Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Shane Devries (Puffin)
  • The Bolds’ Great Adventure by Julian Clary, illustrated by David Roberts (Andersen Press)
  • Marvel Avengers: The Greatest Heroes by Alastair Dougall (DK)

Ireland only:

  • Rugby Roar by Gerard Siggins (O’Brien Press)

Teen & Young Adult:

  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Penguin)
  • Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
  • I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson (Egmont)
  • Summoner: The Novice by Taran Matharu (Hachette)
  • Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury)

From late February, children in the UK and Ireland have be given a £1 (€1.50 in Ireland) book token in their nurseries, preschools and schools, which they can use to claim their free World Book Day title in participating bookshops and supermarkets from 26 February to 25 March 2018, or to put towards the £2.50 special edition YA titles, enabling them to purchase them for just £1.50.

Visit www.worldbookday.com for more information and to subscribe to the free monthly World Book Day e-newsletter.

[1] The National Literacy Trust’s Annual Literacy Survey, 2018
[1] Source: Children and Young People’s Reading in 2015, National Literacy Trust (2016)
[1] Reference: Creating Readers for the Future, Egmont (2018)
[1] Reference: Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading, Institute of Education (2013)
[1] Reference: Celebrating Reading for Enjoyment, National Literacy Trust (2017)
[1] Reference: Professor Peter Fonagy, CEO of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Norfolk & Norwich Festival announces Full 2018 Programme

Daniel Brine
Daniel Brine

Daniel Brine © Claire Haigh

  • Over 10 world premieres, a major new art installation, unique concerts and large-scale free outdoor events
  • 2018 Festival runs Friday 11 May – Sunday 27 May 2018 with public booking open from Thursday 8 March

Norfolk & Norwich Festival has today announced the full programme for its 2018 Festival (11 – 27 May). The programme, which spans performance, theatre, music, visual arts, literature, circus, outdoor and family events, includes world and UK premieres, one-off spectaculars, and a host of free events across the Festival. The Festival will showcase renowned international artists from across the globe and countries as widespread as Syria, Australia and India, alongside the best local Norfolk and UK talent presented across the county, from Norwich city centre and Great Yarmouth to Wells-next-the-Sea.

Daniel BrineFestival Director said: “The Festival is a wonderful time to celebrate our city and county, to bring communities together to experience great art and performance, and to welcome artists and visitors from across the UK and around the world.  Our programme is broad and rich and we’re proud to be presenting world premieres alongside celebrated productions not previously seen in Norfolk. This year the Festival has been put together by all of our team. My predecessor, William Galinsky, laid the foundations with major commissions and partnerships and the team, along with ourprincipal programming partners Britten Sinfonia, Serious and Writers’ Centre Norwich has given flesh and life to the programme. I’ve joined as we put the finishing touches in place and I have quickly immersed myself in the excitement and challenge of delivering one of the UK’s most dynamic arts festivals.

World premieres include: Mercury Music Prize winner and pioneer of Asian Underground music Talvin Singh at Norwich Cathedral; Norwich, Ely and Peterborough Cathedral Choirs combining for a concert to perform the premiere of BBC Young Composer Of The Year Alex Woolf’s new piece; a durational choral piece from The Voice ProjectKathryn Tickell & The Darkening bring the oldest Northumbrian folk songs to life again; the internationally acclaimed circus company, Barely Methodical Troupe headline the Adnams Spiegeltent with ShiftImprobable present The Paper Man, inspired by the unexplained death of Austrian football star Matthias Sindelar in 1939, who humiliated the Nazi regime by refusing to throw a match; Wayfaringa large-scale artwork based around the ancient routes of the Icknield Way in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Wells Beach. The Isle of Brimsker, a new multi-sensory story from specialists in making theatre for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities Frozen Lighta magical cycle-powered ride-on carousel The Bewonderment Machine by A Bird in the Hand TheatreMirror Mirror by Mind The Gap, one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies; Belly of the Whale, the first outdoor show by critically acclaimed Ockham’s Razor and steampunk inspired The Playground of Illusions by Travelling Light Circus.

Further Festival highlights include: an opening spectacular from Transe Express as carnivalesque drummers take over the streets and living dolls on stilts transform the city centre into an open-air opera house; alt-rock icon Amanda Palmer, five-time Grammy Award-winner Mary Chapin CarpenterLadysmith Black Mambazo, Ben Folds, West African female super-group Les Amazones d’Afrique, Award-winning jazz singer Barb Jungr singing works from Bob Dylan, MOBO winners Binker & MosesDavid McAlmont presenting ‘Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall’; singers Mark Padmore andChristopher Purves in a programme of music and poetry in Songs of the SeaLondon Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme of Mahler and Rachmaninov with pianist Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev; a special concert from The Trout Quintet, Europe’s leading violinist from the South Indian Classical tradition Jyotsna Seikanth together with Bollywood Brass Band, a continued partnership with BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists, presenting some of the most promising new talent from around the world; king of crime Jeffery Denver, a community takeover of the Council Chamber in city hall to debate wellbeing, environment and integration with Ben Okri, the return of the City of Literature weekendincluding Hilary Spurling on Anthony Powell, punk royalty Viv Albertine discussing the follow up to her best-selling memoir; a Writes Back! series covering Autism, disability and D/deafness; Caitlin Davies’ exploration of real-life stories of women prisoners Bad GirlsProcessions banner-making workshops to join mass promenade marking 100 years of votes for women; Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall and Britten Sinfonia closing the Festival with Beethoven’s’ Symphony No.5.

PERFORMANCE

The 2018 Festival will see multiple world premieres in performance.

Improbable will present the world premiere of The Paper Man, exploring what we do when fascism comes to town and inspired by the unexplained death of Austrian football star Matthias Sindelar in 1939, who humiliated the Nazi regime by refusing to throw a match. The production follows middle-aged, white British, Football addict-in-recovery and Improbable co-founder, Lee Simpson in his search for answers.

The internationally acclaimed UK circus company, Barely Methodical Troupe headline the Adnams Spiegeltent with the world premiere of Shift following their previous hits Bromance and Kin. The company have been garnering acclaim since their first show toured for over 18 months worldwide drawing on the company’s background in circus, dance and parkour.

The Isle of Brimsker presented by Frozen Light is a new multi-sensory story from specialists in making theatre for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities about a lighthouse keeper and a runaway.

Provisional Figures is a new piece of theatre from award-winning Portuguese film and theatre director Marco Martins, inspired by the 10,000 Portuguese immigrants arriving in Great Yarmouth in the mid-2000sPresented in Great Yarmouth the show will be accompanied by a celebration of Portuguese culture, food and drink.

Other performance highlights include: cabaret sensation Le Gateau Chocolat’s personal tribute to his musical heroes,IconsForced Entertainment’s comical, absurd and acclaimed Real Magic; plus, as part of the City of Literature programme, Rosy Carrick’s mixed media time travel show Passionate Machine; tour de force of the live literature circuitHannah Silva’s Talk in a BitJack Dean’s protest show NuketownTim Clare and Mark Grist’s Voted Out which uses state-of-the-art voting technology to give the audience the power of choice

The dance programme for 2018 includes the return of world-renowned choreographer Hofesh Shechter with his heart-stopping Grand Finale, animated by six musicians live on stage, Gandini Juggling’s new show Sigma blending juggling and classical Indian dance and multimedia projections and inclusive dance companies Stopgap and Flex who bring two free shows to outdoor spaces. There’s also the return of the ever-popular audience led Ragroof Tea Dances to The Adnams Spiegeltent.

LITERATURE

In England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and the Writers’ Centre Norwich will once again present a world-class literature programme, including the City of Literature Weekend, taking place over three full days.

The 2018 literature line-up includes writers such as punk musician Viv AlbertineCaspar Henderson on natural history and neuroscience, Sarah Perry and special guests marking an important year for women in writing – 80 years of Rebecca,the 100th birthday of Muriel Spark and the 200th anniversary of FrankensteinHilary Spurling will discuss her long awaited portrait of Anthony Powell, Rachel Hewitt will speak on the history of emotional thinking, Fred Pearce on humanity’s nuclear history, Hugh Lupton tells the story of making his new novel The Mabinogion, TED speaker and author of New York Times bestseller Chasing the Scream Johann Hari on his new book Lost Connections, Professor of Psychology Charles Fernyhough and Professor of Disability Research Tom Shakespeare will discuss how books help us understand diversity and Caitlin Davies’ talks about her exploration of real-life stories of women prisoners, Bad Girls. During the Festival there will be 5×15 on the mysteries of human brains and bodies, a Writes Back! mini-series covering Autism, disability and D/deafness, a community takeover of the Council Chamber in city hall to debate wellbeing, environment and integrations with Ben Okri and a live telling of Preti Taneja’s deeply-moving and award-winning novellaKumkum Malhorta set in New Delhi, in the grounds of Norwich Castle.

MUSIC

Highlights of this year’s contemporary music programme, co-curated by EFG London Jazz Festival producers Seriousinclude one of the world’s greatest groups Ladysmith Black Mambazo, five-time Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin CarpenterBen Folds performing some of his best-loved songs with just a piano, Mercury Music Prize and South Bank Prize winner Talvin Singh presenting a brand new project featuring beatboxer Jason Singh, David McAlmont presenting ‘Billie Holiday at Carnegie Halla concert inspired by Holiday’s legendary 1956 gig, and containing Almont’s interpretations of her most well known songs. Kathryn Tickell and the Darkening present a brand new concert, Opera North deliver a live scored screening of Battleship Potemkin with music by Jan Bang and Matt CalvertGrammy Award nominee Deva Mahal, Jyotsna Srikanth & Bollywood Brass Band and Syrian musician Maya Youssef Trio all perform at the Playhouse and alt-rock icon Amanda Palmer, one half of the cult-punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, in a performance kicked off by comedian Andrew O’Neill at OPEN.

The Festival’s classical music programme is co-curated for the second time this year by Britten Sinfonia who return withThomas Adès, following their sell-out performance of Beethoven’s Symphonies 1 and 2 in 2017, to continue their journey with Symphonies No 4 and 5 alongside the music of Gerald Barry featuring Nicolas Hodges, as well as presenting theirAlice Through the Looking Glass as part of the family programme. Other highlights in the programme include Robert Trevino conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme of Mahler and Rachmaninov with pianistArseny Tarasevich-NikolaevNorwich, Ely and Peterborough Cathedral Choirs combining for a concert to perform the premiere of BBC Young Composer Of The Year Alex Woolf’s new piece, The Sixteen’s return to the Festival with a programme spanning 500 years of British choral music, The Trout Quintet (Hyeyoon Park, Brett Dean, Kian Soltani, Leon Bosch and Benjamin Grosvenor) with a special concert, singers Mark Padmore and Christopher Purves, joined by Simon Russell-Beale for a programme of music and poetry in Songs of the Sea and the continuation of the partnership with BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists, giving audiences the opportunity to hear some of the most promising new talent from around the world with concerts from Ashley Riches, Mariam Batsashvili, Aleksey Semenenkoand Andrei Ionita.

THE ADNAMS SPIELGELTENT

The Adnams Spiegeltent will be back at the Festival with a characteristically vibrant programme which includes headline show Shift from Barely Methodical Troupe, cabaret sensation Le Gateau Chocolat’s personal tribute to his musical heroes, and a host of lively late night gigs curated by Serious including: West African female super-group, Les Amazones d’Afrique; award-winning jazz singer Barb Jungr singing works from Bob Dylan, MOBO winners Binker & Moses; jazz influenced afro-beat band Maisha;  South London Royal Academy graduate Ashley Henry and House of Waters who bring their melting pot of multiple sounds.

Festival favourites the Ragroof Tea Dances also return.

THE FREE OUTDOOR PROGRAMME

The Free Outdoor Programme at the Festival brings world-class performances from across Europe to Norwich’s parks and open spaces completely free of charge.

This year’s Festival will open with Transe Express as carnivalesque drummers take over the streets of the city and larger than life singing dolls on stilts transform Norwich into a fantastical open air opera house. The parade will move through the streets of the city and culminate in a spectacular aerial finale.

Other programme highlights this year includes Marco Barotti’s robotic woodpeckers popping up across the city and transforming mobile signals into beats tapped out onto the city’s architecture and Wayfaring, a large scale world premiere from And Now: inspired by the ancient routes of the Icknield Way, taking place on Wells Beach with illumination, music and performance in a huge free celebration.

The Garden Party will also return to the Festival for the middle weekend with breath-taking circus, intriguing illusions, life-like puppets and strange beings from outer space. Norfolk & Norwich Festival is thrilled to be continuing its membership of the Creative Europe In Situ network and the UK-based Without Walls, bringing to the festival the very best outdoor work from the UK and all over Europe. Both networks are supporting NNF’s own commissions.

VISUAL ART

The 2018 visual art programme includes Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall, with new never seen before paintings, Glasgow-based, Turner Prize-shortlisted artist Nathan Coley at the East Gallery and leading British sculptor Lynn Chadwick’sBeasts made up of three striking sculptures at Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park.

FAMILY

Alongside multiple events for families in the Free Outdoor Programme, Britten Sinfonia will present Alice through the Looking Glass and Kid Carpet and the Noisy Animals will take younger audiences on a silly and lively journey about going on holiday. Plus there are free storytelling, dancing and music events for Early Years in the Spiegeltent.

The Festival runs 11 – 27 May 2018.

The flagship arts organisation for the East of England, Norfolk & Norwich Festival showcases some of the world’s most renowned international artists alongside regional talent, drawing audiences from across the UK.

Norfolk & Norwich is dedicated to making Festival events accessible for all. There are a variety of initiatives in place to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the work.

Full information on Norfolk & Norwich Festival and all events at www.nnfestival.org.uk.

Twitter: @NNFest
Facebook: www.facebook.com/NNFestival
Instagram: @NNFest

Patricia Hodge, Matt Lucas & Tracy-Ann Oberman join Chichester’s Festival 2018 company

Festival 2018
Festival 2018

Festival 2018

Further lead casting is announced today for Festival 2018 at Chichester Festival Theatre. Matt Lucas makes his Chichester debut as Bill Snibson, the Cockney barrow boy who discovers he’s an Earl, in Daniel Evans’s new production of ME AND MY GIRLTracy-Ann Obermanreturns to the Festival Theatre as Monica in Noel Coward’s PRESENT LAUGHTER; while Patricia Hodge also makes a welcome return as Margrethe Bohr in Michael Frayn’s COPENHAGEN. Public booking for all Festival productions opens this Saturday, 3 March.

Daniel Evans, Chichester’s Artistic Director, says: ‘We’re really delighted to welcome such excellent actors to Chichester this summer. Our audiences will be familiar with Tracy-Ann Oberman from our production of Fiddler On The Roof last summer and Patricia Hodge from Travels With My Aunt in the 2016 season. It’s also wonderful to be able to introduce our audiences to faces that are new to West Sussex and I’m particularly excited to be directing Matt Lucas in Me and My Girl.

‘The musical is rooted firmly in the British music hall tradition and the part of Bill Snibson, our working class hero, requires an actor with funny bones, effortless wit and an innate charm.  Matt has these in spades. I can’t wait to see how his unique, inventive comedic talent lights up our main stage this summer at CFT.’

Patricia Hodge joins Charles Edwards and Paul Jesson in Michael Frayn’s award-winning three-hander, COPENHAGEN (17 August – 22 September). Her most recent Chichester appearance was in Travels with My Aunt (2016); her many television credits include Miranda andDownton Abbey. Her extensive West End and UK theatre work includes Frayn’s Noises OffSummerfolk and Money (Olivier Award) at the National Theatre.

 Matt Lucas will lead the cast of the uproarious musical comedy ME AND MY GIRL (2 July – 25 August) alongside Caroline Quentin, who plays the Duchess. Known to a television audience of millions for the smash hit TV series Little Britain, his theatre work includes the role of Thenardier in Les Misérables in the West End. His recent screen credits include Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland, Paddington and Bridesmaids.

Tracy-Ann Oberman will play Monica in Coward’s glittering comedy PRESENT LAUGHTER (20 April – 12 May), joining Rufus Hound as Gary Essendine. She played Golde in the hit production of Fiddler On The Roof at Chichester last summer; her stage credits also includeBoeing-Boeing and Stepping Out in the West End, while extensive TV work includes New Tricks, EastEnders and Friday Night Dinner.

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