Shoshana Bean will return to Broadway in WAITRESS

Shoshana Bean Photo by Bradford Rogne Photography

The producers of the smash Broadway musical Waitress announced today that Shoshana Bean will take over the role of Jenna on March 18 and will be in the show through May 12, 2019.

Shoshana Bean‘s latest album Spectrum landed her at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Charts. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Hairspray and starred as the first replacement for Elphaba in Wicked. Most recently, she appeared as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and as Cee-Cee Bloom in the new musical adaptation of Beaches, for which she earned a Jeff Award Nomination for best lead actress in a musical.

Shoshana Bean said, “I am thrilled to be coming back to the New York stage in such a special role and show! To get to tell this beautiful woman’s story and sing this extraordinary score is an honor.”

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “​The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county — and a satisfying run-in with someone new — show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. Change is on the menu, as long as Jenna can write her own perfectly personal recipe for happiness.

Waitress opened April 24, 2016 at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th Street). Based upon the 2007 motion picture written by Adrienne ShellyWaitress is the first Broadway musical in history to have four women in the four top creative team spots, with a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, choreography by LorinLatarro and direction by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus.

Waitress began performances in London’s West End on February 8 and is currently on a North American tour.Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at 877-250-2929 or online at Ticketmaster.com.

Manhattan Theatre Club Announces Full Casting for the American Premiere of INK

BERTIE CARVEL
BERTIE CARVEL

BERTIE CARVEL

Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director) and Barry Grove (Executive Producer) have announced the  full casting for the American premiere of INK, written by Olivier Award winner James Graham (Labour of Love, Privacy, Finding Neverland) and directed by two-time Olivier Award winner, Tony and BAFTA Award nominee Almeida Theatre Artistic Director Rupert Goold (King Charles III).

Joining the previously announced Olivier Award winners Bertie Carvel and Jonny Lee Miller are David Wilson Barnes (The Lieutenant of Inishmore), Bill Buell (The History Boys), Andrew Durand (Head Over Heels), Eden Marryshow (Broadway Debut), Colin McPhillamy (The Ferryman), Erin Neufer (Broadway Debut), Kevin Pariseau (Legally Blonde), Rana Roy (Broadway Debut), Michael Siberry(Junk), Robert Stanton (Saint Joan), and Tara Summers (The Hard Problem).

Two-time Olivier Award winner Bertie Carvel (Matilda) will reprise his Olivier Award-winning performance as Rupert Murdoch and Olivier Award winner Jonny Lee Miller (“Elementary,” Frankenstein) will play the editor of The Sun, Larry Lamb.

The creative team for INK includes Bunny Christie (scenic & costume design), Neil Austin (lighting design), Adam Cork (original music & sound design), Jon Driscoll (projection design), Lynne Page(choreographer & movement director), Ben Furey (dialect coach) and Julie McBride (music director).

INK will begin previews Tuesday, April 2 prior to a Wednesday, April 24 opening night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street). Rehearsals begin Tuesday, February 26.

INK earned unanimous raves from London’s top theatre critics, including The Times, Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent, Mail on Sunday, The Guardian, Time Out, Daily Express, Daily Mail, City A.M. and The Stage.

It’s 1969 London.  The brash young Rupert Murdoch purchases a struggling paper, The Sun, and sets out to make it a must-read smash which will destroy – and ultimately horrify – the competition. He brings on rogue editor Larry Lamb who in turn recruits an unlikely team of underdog reporters. Together, they will go to any lengths for success and the race for the most ink is on! Inspired by real events and a recent hit in London’s West End, James Graham’s electrifying new play comes to Broadway in the exhilarating Almeida Theatre production, directed by Rupert Goold. In its London run, The Guardian called it “riveting,” and Time Out hailed it as “an incredibly brilliant stunner.”

INK is produced with the Almeida Theatre and Sonia Friedman Productions.

Lead production support for INK is made possible by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Additional support provided by Gary L. Churgin, a Producing Fund Partner.

TICKETING INFORMATION

Tickets for INK are available at Telecharge.com, by calling 212-239-6200, or by visiting The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Box Office at 261 West 47th Street. Joining MTC’s season of plays is easy! Just visit manhattantheatreclub.com/join, or call the MTC Clubline at 212-399-3050.

For more information and to sign up for MTC’s “30 under 35” program for theatregoers age 35 and under visit https://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/season-tickets/30-under-35/.

Manhattan Theatre Club, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past four and a half decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including 7 Pulitzer Prizes and 23 Tony Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Cost of Living by Martyna Majok; Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; August Wilson’s Jitney and The Piano Lesson; Heisenberg by Simon Stephens; The Father by Florian Zeller with translation by Christopher Hampton; Fool For Love by Sam Shepard; Airline Highway by Lisa D’Amour; Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein; Outside Mullingar and Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; The Commons of Pensacola by Amanda Peet; Murder Ballad by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash; The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg; Wit by Margaret Edson; Venus in Fur by David Ives;Good People and Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire; The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez; Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies; Ruined by Lynn Nottage; Proofby David Auburn; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife by Charles Busch; Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally; Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley; and Ain’tMisbehavin’, the Fats Waller musical. For more information on MTC, please visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

 

David Walliams scores a hat-trick as new production of Billionaire Boy is announced

Billionaire Boy

The bestselling children’s author David Walliams and the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company have today announced a new production of Billionaire Boy to tour Britain. This will be their third collaboration after the Olivier Award nominated Gangsta Granny and acclaimed Awful Auntie productions. Billionaire Boy started life as a David Walliams novel for children in 2010, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, and was filmed for the BBC in 2016. It will now embark on a national tour on 26 September 2019 from Horsham’s Capitol Theatre.

Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe Spud, who is twelve years old and the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, two crocodiles as pets and £100,000 a week pocket money. But what Joe doesn’t have is a friend. So he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comp. But things don’t go as planned for Joe and life becomes a rollercoaster as he tries find what money can’t buy!

David Walliams said today: “I absolutely loved the BSC’s terrific productions of Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie so I can’t wait to see their brand-new production of Billionaire Boy! It promises to be a brilliant show!”

David Walliams has become one of today’s most influential writers. Since the publication of his first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), illustrated by the iconic Sir Quentin Blake, David Walliams has celebrated more than ten years of writing success with global sales exceeding twenty-nine million copies, and his books have been translated into fifty-three languages. David’s titles have spent 138 weeks (non-consecutive) at the top of the children’s charts – more than any other children’s author ever. He closed 2018 as the UK’s biggest-selling author for the second year running. In addition to his fiction, David has worked with Tony Ross on six picture books as well as three bestselling short-story collections, The World’s Worst Children.

Neal Foster is the adapter and director of Billionaire Boy. He is the Actor/Manager of The Birmingham Stage Company which since its foundation in 1992 has staged over eighty productions. The company has become one of the world’s leading producers of theatre for children and their families, including Horrible Histories Live on Stage for fourteen years in the UK, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. Neal has written and directed all of the most recent Horrible Histories shows including the Barmy Britain series seen in the West End, across the UK, and abroad. Billionaire Boy will be his third David Walliams stage show after Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie. Last week he opened the world premiere of Tom Gates which he adapted with the author Liz Pichon which will be touring the country through to 2020.

Billionaire Boy is adapted and directed by Neal Foster, designed by Jackie Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Nick Sagar, special effects by Scott Penrose and music by Jak Poore.

Billionaire Boy is suitable for ages 5 +

Twitter: @BillBoy_Live

Facebook: birminghamstage

 List of tour dates: billionaireboylive.co.uk

 Tour dates currently on sale are:

Capitol Theatre, Horsham                                             26 – 29 Sep 2019

Hull New Theatre                                                             09 – 12 Oct 2019

Derngate Theatre, Northampton                              16 – 19 Oct 2019

Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe                               23 – 26 Oct 2019

Richmond Theatre                                                          30 Oct – 02 Nov 2019

Orchard Theatre, Dartford                                           13 – 16 Nov 2019

Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham                                 20 – 23 Nov 2019

Theatre Royal, Glasgow                                                 15 – 19 Jan 2020

Cliffs Pavilion. Southend-on-Sea                                23 – 26 Jan 2020 [on sale 26 Feb]

De Montfort Hall, Leicester                                          04 – 08 Mar 2020

Further casting announced for the RSC Productions of The Provoked Wife and Venice Preserved

Royal Shakespeare Company

Rufus Hound joins cast of The Provoked Wife alongside Caroline Quentin, Alexandra Gilbreath and Jonathan Slinger.

 Les Dennis to Make RSC debut in The Provoked Wife and Venice Preserved.

 Natalie Dew, Michael Grady-Hall and John Hodgkinson join cast of Venice Preserved alongside the previously announced Jodie Mcnee.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has today announced further casting for its forthcoming double-bill of Restoration plays, John Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife and Thomas Otway’s Venice PreservedThe Provoked Wife, directed by Phillip Breen, plays in repertoire from the 2 May 2019 with Venice Preserved, directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah, running from 24 May 2019 in the Swan Theatre.

THE PROVOKED WIFE

By John Vanbrugh

Directed by Phillip Breen

Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2 May – 7 Sep 2019

Press night: Thursday 9 May, 7pm

Rufus Hound will return to the RSC company as Constant in The Provoked Wife. Rufus last appeared at the RSC as Sancho Panza in the acclaimed 2016 production of Don Quixote in the Swan Theatre, which transferred to the Garrick Theatre in 2018.

One of the nation’s favourite comic personalities, Rufus Hound has forged a career for himself as a leading comedian and TV presenter. Alongside appearances on Trollied, Drunk History and The ApprenticeYou’re Fired, Rufus established his own sitcom on CBBC called Hounded. Previous theatre credits include Dusty (Tour); Present Laughter (Chichester); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre); One Man Two Guv’nors (National Theatre/West End) and Utopia (Soho Theatre).

Les Dennis will make his RSC debut as Colonel Bully in Phillip Breen’s riotous new production of John Vanbrugh’s restoration comedy The Provoked Wife, and as Priuli in Prasanna Puwanarajah’s new production of Thomas Otway’s Venice Preserved.

Les first came to prominence as a comedian in the 1970s after a winning set on Opportunity Knocks.  He became a stalwart of Saturday Night TV, in the 80s and 90s starring in TV comedies including The Russ Abbott Show andThe Les Dennis Laughter Show performing sketches and impressions, and most famously as the host of Family Fortunes between 1987 and 2002 on ITV.

His most recent work includes End of the Pier at the Park Theatre, for which he was nominated for the OFFIE award for ‘Best Male in a Play’. Further credits include Uncle Fester in the UK Tour of The Addams Family and The Miracle of Great Homer Street at Liverpool’s Royal Court.

They join the previously announced Alexandra Gilbreath (Lady Brute), Caroline Quentin (Lady Fancyfull) andJonathan Slinger (Sir John Brute) in a riotous new production of the outspoken restoration romp that shocked 17thcentury society, directed by Phillip Breen (The Hypocrite, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, The Merry Wives of Windsor).

Phillip Breen said; “I am incredibly excited to be working with the RSC once again and this talented ensemble of actors. This company brings together a first-class line-up of established comic talent with some of the most exciting young actors I have seen making their professional debut on the RSC stage. The Provoked Wife is an utterly unique comedy. With echoes of Harold Pinter’s Consent and Noel Coward’s Private Lives, John Vanbrugh’s outspoken and – at times – scandalous comedy of marriage is hilarious, sharp and disturbing in equal measure”.

The full cast of The Provoked Wife includes: Pete Ashmore (Servant/Porter), Isabel Adomakoh Young (Cornet),Les Dennis (Colonel Bully), Natalie Dew (Bellinda), Polly Edsell (Lovewell), Alexandra Gilbreath (Lady Brute),Kevin N Golding (Justice), Alison Halstead (Constable), John Hodgkinson (Heartfree), Rufus Hound(Constant), Nickcolia King-N’Da (Tailor), Steve Nicolson (Rasor), Carl Prekopp (Lord Rake), Caroline Quentin(Lady Fancyfull), Ben Roddy (Servant/Watch), Jonathan Slinger (Sir John Brute), Rosalind Steele (Pipe), Sarah Twomey (Mademoiselle) and Toby Webster (Treble).

Lady Brute is tired of her tedious, loveless marriage and her tedious, drunk husband. When she decides to spice up her love life with a younger man, scandal threatens to ruin her.                                                                                                                                         

The Provoked Wife is designed by Mark Bailey, with lighting by Tina MacHugh, music by Paddy Cunneen, sound by Dyfan Jones, movement by Ayse Tashkiran and fights by Renny Krupinski.

VENICE PRESERVED

By Thomas Otway

Directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah

Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 24 May – 7 Sep 2019

Press night: Thursday 30 May, 7pm

Returning to the RSC in the role of Jaffeir is Michael Grady-Hall, whose previous credits for the company includeImperium I & II, Oppenheimer, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, As You Like It and Hamlet.  He will join the previously announced Jodie McNee as Belvidera who was last seen at the RSC in Roxana Silbert’s 2013 production of A Life of Galileo, Mark Ravenhill’s new translation of Brecht’s play.

Following his roles in Twelfth Night, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing John Hodgkinson returns to the RSC to play Antonio in Prasanna Puwanarajah’s savage political thriller. Aquilina will be played by Natalie Dew. Her previous theatre credits include Arabian Nights for the RSC, Twelfth Night (Young Vic), Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre).

Prasanna Puwanarajah added; “Venice Preserved has been in my head for the past 8 years and it has never felt more apposite than now; it’s a thrilling, hot shard of Restoration noir about idiots in power versus the seismic political movements and moments that pull a city – and relationships – to pieces. I’m thrilled to be directing at the RSC for the first time, and for it to be this extraordinary play, and I’m excited by the company we’ve formed; new faces of all ages will play alongside RSC veterans, making this a great opportunity to see incredible performers climb into one of the great verse tragedies.”

The cast of Venice Preserved also includes: Isabel Adomakoh Young (Spinosa), Pete Ashmore (Theodore), Les Dennis (Priuli), Natalie Dew (Aquilina), Polly Edsell (Brabe), Kevin N Golding (Duke), Michael Grady-Hall(Jaffeir), Alison Halstead (Bedamar), John Hodgkinson (Antonio), Nickcolia King-N’Da (Brainveil), Jodie McNee (Belvidera), Steve Nicolson (Renault), Carl Prekopp (Eliot), Ben Roddy (Officers), Rosalind Steele(Aquilina’s Maid), Sarah Twomey (Waiter), Toby Webster (Durand).

Driven by love and revenge, two disaffected noblemen join a revolutionary movement to overthrow the corrupt leaders of their failed city state. But the conspirators they join are as corrupt as those in power, and their friendship is torn to pieces in the furnace of love.

This will be Prasanna’s Puwanarajah’s first time directing for the RSC, having previously acted in Gregory Doran’sTwelfth Night in 2010, the National Theatre’s production of Absolute Hell and in the hit TV shows Doctor Foster andPatrick Melrose. 

Venice Preserved is designed by James Cotterill with lighting by Jack Knowles, sound by George Dennis, Movement by Polly Bennett, fights by Kate Waters and video by Nina Dunn.

 

Talawa unveils plans for new hub

Artist’s illustration of the redeveloped Fairfield Halls. Fairfield Halls ©Rick Mather Architects
Artist’s illustration of the redeveloped Fairfield Halls. Fairfield Halls ©Rick Mather Architects

Artist’s illustration of the redeveloped Fairfield Halls. Fairfield Halls ©Rick Mather Architects

Talawa Theatre Company is to take up residence within the redeveloped Fairfield Halls in Croydon, giving the UK’s primary Black theatre company a 200 seat studio and offices. This will be the first time since 1995 that Talawa’s headquarters will feature an on-site performance space. The new spaces, opening to the public on 16 September 2019, will operate as a central hub for Black artists, develop a community outreach programme, and allow the company to create, develop and premiere new work.

Fairfield Halls – South London’s largest Arts Centre – will reopen after a multi-million-pound redevelopment to transform it into a state-of-the-art venue in the heart of the Croydon community. Originally opened in 1962 as an arts and entertainment space, Fairfield Halls closed in July 2016 for the redevelopment.

 Besides providing a space for Talawa’s artist development programme MAKE, the new residency will create opportunities to train young Black artists in technical and creative theatre disciplines, suited to Croydon’s status as the London borough with the largest youth population, working in partnership with organisations in the borough and nationally.

In addition to premiering and developing new work, Talawa Theatre Company will use the studio as a space to research & develop new ideas, and create a programme of activities, debates and events aimed at Croydon’s diverse community.

Talawa Theatre Company is currently based in Rich Mix, in Shoreditch, having previously based their headquarters for 10 years near Old Street. From 1991-1995, Talawa based their offices at the Cochrane Theatre.

Programming plans for the studio will be announced in Autumn 2019.

Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company, said: “For Talawa, this building provides a home for Black artists, enabling them to make outstanding work which will truly diversify and shape the cultural life of the whole country.”

Neil Chandler, BH Live’s Venue Director of Fairfield Halls, said: “After several months of discussions I am delighted that we have encouraged one of the top theatre companies into Croydon. To welcome Talawa into the refurbished and relaunched Fairfield Halls, South London’s arts centre, is a fantastic accolade for the venue. Our combined commitment to aspiring young artists, the borough of Croydon and inspirational programming will no doubt make for some exciting projects in the years ahead.”

Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Talawa and incredibly proud that they have chosen Croydon as their new home. Their vision and ambition in changing the face of theatre, attracting diverse audiences and creating platforms for the work of Black artists, is internationally renowned, and we are excited by the conversations we have already had with them about the potential for them being based here. Our multi-million pound investment transforms Fairfield Halls into world-class arts centre, putting culture at the heart of our regeneration and creating a wealth of new opportunities for our communities to access the arts. Talawa recognise and share our ambition, and we very much look forward to working with them as we make this become a reality.”

Talawa Theatre Company is the most successful Black theatre company in the UK. They have established a track record of producing work which shines a spotlight on Black artists, creating theatre for diverse audiences across the country. Mounting more than fifty productions over their 30-year history, their current co-production, Superhoe by Nicole Lecky, can be seen at the Royal Court until the 16thFebruary. Other recent productions have included collaborations with the Royal Exchange; Guys & Dolls, King Lear (in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre) and All My Sons (Royal Exchange Theatre, UK tour), and new work including Girls by Theresa Ikoko (co-production with Soho Theatre, HighTide) and Half Breed by Natasha Marshall (co-production with Soho Theatre).

‘The Light in the Piazza’: further casting announced for six-time Tony Award-winning musical

Dove Cameron Photo Credit: Martina Tolot

Dove Cameron Photo Credit: Martina Tolot

  • World-Renowned Soprano, Renée Fleming, and star of Disney’s The Descendants, Dove Cameron, already announced in lead roles
  • Cast includes London stage favourites from musicals, opera and theatre, Rob Houchen, Celinde Schoenmaker, Liam Tamne, Marie McLaughlin and Malcolm Sinclair part of an all-star company
  • Daniel Evans leads world class creative team for London premiere of Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel masterpiece
  • Coming to the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, 14 June – 5 July 2019 for twenty performances only with 35 piece orchestra of Opera North
Renee Fleming Photo Credit Andrew Eccles

Renee Fleming Photo Credit Andrew Eccles

Scenario Two has announced further casting for the London debut of the acclaimed Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza. The Light in the Piazza will be performed in a full staging at the Royal Festival Hall in a limited run of only twenty performances directed by Olivier award-winner, Daniel Evans, designed by Robert Jones with costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mick Potter.   The ravishing score will be played by the 35 piece orchestra of Opera North under the baton of Kimberly Grigsby, conductor of the original Lincoln Center production.

Joining Renée Fleming and Dove Cameron as (Margaret and Clara Johnson respectively) will be acclaimed West End star and 2019 Off West End award-winner, Rob Houchen, as Clara’s suitor, Fabrizio Naccarelli.   Rob’s previous credits include West End productions of Les Misérables and Titanic and he was most recently seen in his Offie winning performance in Eugenius!

 Celinde Schoenmaker will play the role of  Franca Naccarelli.  Previously Celinda has starred as Christine Daaé in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, and played the role of Fantine in the West End production of Les Misérables.   She is well-known for her YouTube and podcast collaborations with Carrie Hope-Fletcher.

Liam Tamne will play Guiseppe Naccarelli.  Previously Liam has taken the roles of Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Enjolras in Les Misérables and Fiyero in Wicked as well as being a member of Will.i.am’s team on The Voice Season 2.

Fabrizio’s mother Signora Naccarelli will be played by Olivier-nominated international  soprano, Marie McLaughlin, who has performed at many of the world’s leading opera houses including Covent Garden, The Metropolitan Opera, New York and Munich Opera.

Malcolm Sinclair will make a welcome return to the London stage as Margaret’s husband and Clara’s father, Roy Johnson. Malcolm’s career spans more than three decades and encompasses a vast array of West End, National Theatre and RSC productions alongside roles in films such as Casino Royale and V for Vendetta.

The rich singing talent in the company includes Matthew Woodyatt, Rhona McGregor, Tom Partridge, Molly Lynch, Nicholas Duncan, Chlöe Hart, Danny Becker, Monica Swayne and Simbi Akande.

Already announced are four-time Grammy winner and Tony nominee Renée Fleming who will be making her long-awaited London musical theatre debut as American Margaret Johnson, and Dove Cameron– who also makes her UK debut as Margaret’s troubled daughter Clara. Dove is best known for her role in Disney’s The Descendants trilogy.  She recently played the role of Amber von Tussle in NBC’s Hairspray Live! and starred as Cher in the Off-Broadway production of Clueless: The Musical.

Final casting is currently taking place for the featured role of Signor Naccarelli, Fabrizio’s father.  Scenario Two expects to make a major announcement within the next month regarding this role.

The Light in the Piazza

On its Broadway debut, The Light in the Piazza  was described by the New York Times as having “the most intensely romantic score of any musical since West Side Story”.

Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza book is by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel.  Set in Florence during the summer of 1953, it’s a touching and heart-wrenching love story.  A fateful gust of wind whisks Clara’s hat into the hands of local dreamer Fabrizio Naccarelli and It’s love at first sight. However, Clara isn’t quite what she appears and soon they must all confront a secret that’s been kept in the shadows for far too long.

The Light in the Piazza’s rich, emotional score is a totally unique genre amongst Broadway musicals. Unapologetically lyrical and romantic, it transports us to 1950s  Florence in the period made famous by films such as La Dolce Vita for a romantic evening of love and light.

Bristol Bus Boycott pioneers attend press night for Princess & The Hustler

Bus Boycott campaigners Roy Hackett, Paul Stephenson and Barbara Dettering chat with Bristol Old Vic Artistic Director Tom Morris and Eclipse Theatre Company’s Artistic Director and Director of Princess & The Hustler, Dawn Walton. (Photo by Harry Plowden)

Bristol Old Vic last night welcomed Bristol’s pioneering Civil Rights campaigners Paul Stephenson, Roy Hackett and Barbara Dettering at the press performance for Eclipse Theatre Company, Bristol Old Vic and Hull Truck Theatre’s co-production Princess & The Hustler.

The new play by Bristol playwright Chinonyerem Odimba is set in 1960s Bristol on the cusp of change. Set against the backdrop of the Bristol Bus Boycott, the play demonstrates the personal impact of the Civil Rights movement on Bristol’s real communities at that time, through the lives of one black Bristolian family.

Seun Shote who plays Wendell Senior with Bus Boycott pioneer Roy Hackett (Photo by Harry Plowden)

Seun Shote who plays Wendell Senior with Bus Boycott pioneer Roy Hackett (Photo by Harry Plowden)

Paul Stephenson and Roy Hackett, Bristol’s original Bus Boycott campaigners, now in their 90s, attended last night’s performance as guests of honour, staying until the small hours to talk to the cast and share their extraordinary experiences with them.

Bristol Old Vic Artistic Director Tom Morris today said,

“Chino’s beautiful play and this collaboration with Dawn Walton’s brilliant Eclipse Theatre Company is set firmly in the context of Bristol’s 2018 Year of Change. Prompted by Ujima Radio’s Roger Griffith, we determined that our newly reopened theatre would renew its welcome to every community in the city, and celebrate the stories which matter most to the people who have made our city what it is. The story of the Bristol Bus Boycott and the community of St Pauls who fought to combat employment prejudice in the city is one of those stories which is both inspiring in relation to what the city might achieve in the future, and chastening in relation to the injustices which remain unaddressed.

The night was made all the more special by the fact that Paul Stephenson and Roy Hackett, the original architects of the Bus Boycott, together with Barbara Dettering, who founded the St Pauls Carnival in its wake, were able to attend, closing an extraordinary circle of witness and celebration of their heroic achievements.”

In 1961, Bristol Evening Post exposed a ‘colour bar’ by the Bristol Omnibus company, preventing non-white people from working as bus drivers in Bristol. The prejudice was tried and tested in 1963, when Paul Stephenson, spokesman for the West Indian Development Council, sent his black student Guy Bailey to interview for a job as a bus driver. After a successful phone interview, Bailey proceeded to visit the Omnibus company, where he was promptly turned away and refused the job.

The West Indian Development Council’s founding member Roy Hackett and Paul Stephenson announced the Bristol Bus Boycott in April 1963, urging Bristol’s black communities to avoid taking the bus until the colour bar was lifted. A month later, Bristol University students held a protest march in support of the boycott. The stand-off finally came to an end in August 1963, when the Omnibus company announced that there would be no more discrimination in employing bus crews. Two years later, the British Government passed the first Race Relations Act of 1965, outlawing discrimination on the grounds of race in public places. To celebrate the unity that helped end the colour bar on Bristol’s buses, Bristolian activist and social worker Barbara Dettering put on the first St Pauls Carnival in 1968, an annual African Caribbean carnival now held every July in Bristol.

The Bristol Bus Boycott is now seen to be a pivotal moment in Black Civil Rights history, spearheading positive change across the UK.

Princess & The Hustler opened on Sat 9 Feb and will run at Bristol Old Vic until Sat 23 Feb, before heading on a UK-wide tour.

Donmar Warehouse announces further casting for Artistic Director Josie Rourke’s Farewell Production

Sweet Charity

Cast Includes Lizzy Connolly, Arthur Darvill, Lauren Drew, Anne-Marie Duff, Jo Eaton-Kent, Will Haswell, Charlotte Jaconelli, Stephen Kennedy, Debbie Kurup, Martin Marquez, Ryan Reid, Amy Ellen Richardson, Danielle Steers and Shaq Taylor

The Donmar Warehouse today announces further casting for Artistic Director Josie Rourke’s farewell production, Sweet Charity. Joining previously announced cast members Anne-Marie Duff as Charity and Arthur Darvill as Oscar will be Lizzy Connolly, Lauren Drew, Jo Eaton-Kent, Will Haswell, Charlotte Jaconelli, Stephen Kennedy, Debbie Kurup, Martin Marquez, Ryan Reid, Amy Ellen Richardson, Danielle Steers and Shaq Taylor.

Sweet Charity will be choreographed by the world-renowned Wayne McGregor, who reunites with Josie after working on her debut film Mary Queen of Scots. Josie returns to the music of Cy Coleman who wrote the score for her Olivier Award-winning production of City of Angels. The book is by

Neil Simon and lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

For Rourke’s farewell production, all tickets at every Friday performance of Sweet Charity from 26 April will be free to those aged 25 and under through SWEET FRIDAYS. Part of the Donmar’s successful YOUNG+FREE scheme, SWEET FRIDAYS free tickets will be allocated by ballot. As part of the scheme the Donmar will also invite schools from every London borough to see Sweet Charity for free. SWEET FRIDAYS are made possible with the generous support of Susie Sainsbury and the Backstage Trust.

During Rourke’s time as Artistic Director, YOUNG+FREE, has made over 15,000 free tickets available to those aged 25 and under. Enter the ballot for SWEET FRIDAYS tickets at www.donmarwarehouse.com

“The minute you walked in the joint, I could see you were a man of distinction, a real Big Spender…”

 New York, 1967. Charity Hope Valentine is a dance hall hostess who “runs her a heart like a hotel”. At the hopeless end of a long line of users and losers, she meets Oscar, a mild-mannered tax accountant, and Charity Hope Valentine once again puts her faith in love.

Members Priority Booking for Sweet Charity:

Steel members and Copper members now on sale.

Friends begins online from 9am, phone bookings begin at 10am, on Thursday 19 February 2019.

Public Booking for Sweet Charity:

Begins online at 9am, phone bookings begin at 10am on Thursday 21 February 2019.

Josie Rourke (Director) is the Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse where she has directed Measure for Measure, starring Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden; Saint Joan, starring Gemma Arterton and broadcast live in cinemas around the world in partnership with National Theatre Live; the world premiere of Nick Payne’s new play Elegy;  Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Revival, ran at the Booth Theatre, New York and was broadcast live in cinemas with National Theatre Live; The Vote, which was broadcast live on More 4 on the night of the 2015 UK election to an audience of half a million and nominated for a BAFTA; City of Angels, which received the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival; Privacy, a new play created by James Graham and Josie Rourke, which also played at The Public Theater, New York, and starred Daniel Radcliffe;  Coriolanus, which was broadcast live in cinemas in partnership with National Theatre Live and for which Tom Hiddleston won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor; The Weir, which transferred to Wyndham’s Theatre; The Machine at Manchester International Festival and at Park Avenue Armory, New York; Berenice; The Physicists; The Recruiting Officer; Frame 312; and World Music. Her additional theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s Theatre, nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Revival; Men Should Weep at the National Theatre; Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare; Crazyblackmuthafuckin’self and Loyal Women at the Royal Court; King John at the RSC; and The Long and the Short and the Tall and Kick for Touch at Sheffield Theatres. Rourke was previously Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, which was named Theatre of the Year under her leadership. At the Bush Theatre, her credits include the premiere of If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet by Nick Payne.  Josie’s first feature film Mary Queen of Scots, produced by Working Title a​nd Focus Features and starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, was released in the US in 2018 and in the UK in January 2019.

Wayne McGregor CBE (Choreographer) returns to the Donmar Warehouse after his work as Movement Director for Patrick Marber’s Closer, directed by David Leveaux, and reunites with director Josie Rourke after choreographing her debut film Mary Queen of Scots. Wayne is a multi-award-winning British choreographer and director. He is Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor, the creative engine of his life-long choreographic enquiry into thinking through and with the body. Studio Wayne McGregor encompasses his extensive creative collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science; Company Wayne McGregor, his own touring company of dancers; and highly specialized learning and research programmes. Studio Wayne McGregor, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, is based in its bespoke creative arts studio space at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Wayne McGregor is also Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet, the first person to hold this position from a contemporary dance background, and where his productions are acclaimed for their daring reconfiguring of classical language. He is Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has an Honorary Doctor of Science from Plymouth University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of Leeds. He is part of the Circle of Cultural Fellows at King’s College London. McGregor is regularly commissioned by and has works in the repertories of the most important ballet companies around the world, including Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Munich Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He has choreographed for theatre, opera, film (Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireFantastic Beasts, Sing, Mary Queen of Scots), music videos (Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers), fashion (Gareth Pugh at London Fashion Week, 2017), campaigns (Selfridges), TV (Brit Awards, 2015 & 16), and site-specific performances (Big Dance Trafalgar Square, 2012). McGregor’s work has earned him four Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards, two Time Out Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, two Olivier Awards, a prix Benois de la Danse and two Golden Mask Awards. In 2011 McGregor was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance.

 Lizzy Connolly (Nickie) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Present Laughter (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Twilight Zone (Almeida), Oklahoma! (BBC Proms), On The Town (Open Air Theatre), The Wild Party (The Other Palace), Once In A Lifetime (Young Vic), The Vanities (Trafalgar Studios), Mrs Henderson Presents (Theatre Royal Bath and West End) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End). Her work for film and television includes The FestivalPlebs and The Windsors.

Arthur Darvill (Oscar Lindquist) makes his Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. His theatre credits include Genesis Inc. (Hampstead), Elevenses/Beginning to End/TBCTV (Somerset House Studios), Hir (Bush), Treasure Island (National Theatre), Once (Broadway/West End), Our Boys (Duchess), Doctor Faustus (Shakespeare’s Globe), Is Everyone Ok? (Nabokov), Swimming with Sharks (Vaudeville), Terre Haute for which he was nominated for the 2007 Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer (UK Tour/Trafalgar), Stacey (Arcola) and Terre Haute (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh). His film credits include Sex, Drugs, Rock N Roll and Pelican Blood. Television work includes Legends of Tomorrow, Danny and the Human Zoo, Broadchurch (Series 1, 2 & 3), The White QueenThe Paradise, Doctor Who, Little Dorritt, He Kills Coppers and The Verdict. His work as a composer includes Been So Long (Young Vic/Traverse), Fantastic Mr Fox (Nuffield/Lyric/tour), I Want My Hat Back (National Theatre), The Frontline and The Lightning Child (Shakespeare’s Globe), and Stoopud Fucken Animals (Traverse). Been So Long has now been adapted into a feature film (Netflix/BFI/Film 4).

Lauren Drew (Ensemble) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Heathers – The Musical (Theatre Royal Haymarket and The Other Palace), Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre) and Ghost (UK Tour). Lauren trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

 Anne-Marie Duff (Charity Hope Valentine) returns to the Donmar Warehouse after previously starring in the productions of Berenice directed by Josie Rourke in 2012 and Days of Wine and Roses in 2005. An award-winning actress on both stage and screen, Anne-Marie is known for her roles in ShamelessThe Virgin Queen and Nowhere Boy, and is considered one of the UK’s most prolific actresses. In 2018 Anne-Marie starred in Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle and returned to the National Theatre as Lady Macbeth, a role she previously undertook on Broadway opposite Ethan Hawke. On the big screen, Anne-Marie recently appeared in On Chesil Beach, the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s bestselling 2007 novel, and on television she lent her voice to the BBC One/Netflix series Watership Down that aired over Christmas. Anne-Marie is next going be seen in the BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. Other prolific big screen credits include SuffragetteBefore I Go to SleepThe Last StationIs Anybody There?The Waiting Room, Notes on a ScandalThe Magdalene Sisters and Enigma.  On the small screen, her credits include From DarknessParade’s EndAccusedMargotWild West and The Way We Live Now. Additional theatre credits include War and Peace (West End), Cause Celebre (the Old Vic), The Daughter in Law, The Soldier’s Fortune (Young Vic), Oil (Almeida), Common, Husbands & SonsStrange InterludeCollected StoriesKing Lear and Saint Joan (National Theatre).

 Jo Eaton-Kent (Ensemble) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Mermaids (Kings Head Theatre); Roll Over Beethoven, Three Minute Heroes (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry) and Barefoot Gen (MAYA Productions). Jo’s TV credits include Don’t Forget the Driver and The Romanoffs.

 Will Haswell (Ensemble) makes his Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. His theatre credits include The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre), Our House (UK Tour), The Braille Legacy(Charing Cross Theatre), Jersey Boys (Piccadilly Theatre), Shrek (UK Tour), Dick Whittington (White Rock Theatre, Hastings), Anything Goes (Kilworth House), Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales and Novello Theatre), 42nd Street Gala (London Palladium), Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin (Civic Theatre, Chelmsford) and Some Like It Hot (LTA Studio Theatre).

Charlotte Jaconelli (Ensemble) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Heathers – The Musical (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and She Loves Me (Landor Theatre). Charlotte has also released albums in 2012 and 2013, selling over 1 million copies, and has performed in venues across the globe. Charlotte trained at the Arts Educational School in London.

Stephen Kennedy (Herman) returns to the Donmar Warehouse after appearing in The Vote which was also televised on election night in 2015 on More 4.  His theatre credits include La Traviata (Theatre des Champs Elysees), Hamlet (Flute Theatre), The Velveteen Rabbit (Unicorn Theatre), King Lear (Old Vic), The Plough and the StarsThe Silver Tassie, Mother Courage, England People Very Nice, Dido Queen of Carthage, Waves, Women of Troy (National Theatre), King John (Rose Theatre), The Crucible (Royal Exchange, Manchester), The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic), To Kill a Mockingbird (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Elegy For Young Lovers (ENO), Messiah (Lyon), La Traviata (Vienna), Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Perth Theatre), School for Scandal (Barbican Theatre), Shoot the Crow (Waterfront Studio), The Agent (Old Red Lion/Trafalgar Studios) and Cyrano De Bergerac, The Birthday Party and Tamburlaine (Bristol Old Vic). His TV and film credits includes Dark Heart, Holby City, Silent Witness, Lucky Man, Casualty, Doctors, A Touch of Frost, The Bill, Making Waves, The Vice, Private Peaceful, The Agent, Notes on a Scandal, Braveheart and Nothing Personal.

Debbie Kurup (Helene) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Girl from the North Country (West End and Old Vic), The Threepenny Opera (National Theatre),The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre), Chicago (Cambridge Theatre and Adelphi Theatre), Sister Act (London Palladium), West Side Story (Prince of Wales Theatre London), Tonight’s The Night (Victoria Palace), Rent (Prince of Wales Theatre and UK), Boogie Nights (Savoy Theatre), Anything Goes (Sheffield Theatres and UK tour), Jack and the Beanstalk (Hackney Empire), East (Leicester Curve), Fame (UK tour), Guys and Dolls (Sheffield Theatres), Pal Joey (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Poison (Tricycle Theatre). Debbie’s film credits include The Two Wolves, 28 Weeks Later and Hollow.

Martin Marquez (Vittorio Vidal) returns to the Donmar Warehouse after appearing in Fool for Love and Front Page. His theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing and Imogen (Shakespeare’s Globe), This House (UK Tour), Husbands & SonsMother Courage and Her Children and Love’s Labour’s Lost (National Theatre), Anything Goes (National Theatre and West End), From Here to Eternity (West End),  Before I Leave (National Theatre Wales), Ah, Wilderness (Young Vic),  Gondoliers, I Caught My Death in Venice and Insignificance (Chichester Festival Theatre), Blasted (Sheffield Theatres), Boeing Boeing (UK Tour), Cleansed and Identical Twins (Royal Court), Still Alice, The CrucibleDon Juan and Of Mice and Men (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Television credits include Holby City, Dead Pixels, Bounty Hunter, The Crown, Modus, Decline and Fall, Suntrap, Vera, The Job Lot, Benidorm, Twenty Twelve, New Tricks and Hotel Babylon.

Ryan Reid (Ensemble) makes his Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. His theatre credits include Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre), In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre), Shrek (UK Tour), Puss in Boots(Hackney Empire) and Blues in the Night (Hackney Empire). Ryan has also appeared on the Original London Cast Recording of Dreamgirls and Not Forgotten Society’s 90th Anniversary Concert (Buckingham Palace). He completed his training at Arts Educational School in London.

Amy Ellen Richardson (Ursula March) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Royal Festival Hall), Follies (Royal Albert Hall), Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory/Harold Pinter), Crazy For You (Novello), Spamalot (Palace), Les Misérables (Queens), Into The Woods, Gigi (Regent’s Park Open Air),On The Town (London Coliseum), Aspects Of Love (Prince of Wales), Kiss Me Kate (Sheffield Crucible), Sweet Charity (Nottingham Playhouse), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Into The Woods (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Singin In The Rain (UK Tour), Oklahoma (Chichester Festival Theatre), She Loves Me (Minerva Theatre), Vincent In Brixton (UK Tour), A Christmas Carol (Sherman Cymru) and Whistle Down The Wind (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Her film and TV credits include Les Misérables, This Morning and Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert.

Danielle Steers (Carmen) makes her Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. Her theatre credits include Bat Out Of Hell (Dominion Theatre, Ed Mervish Theatre Toronto, ENO and Manchester),Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych), The Bodyguard (Adelphi), We Will Rock You (International Arena Tour), Hairspray (Aberystwyth Arts Centre), Legally Blonde (Savoy) and Respect La Diva(Garrick).

Shaq Taylor (Ensemble) makes his Donmar Warehouse debut in Sweet Charity. His theatre credits include Hadestown (National Theatre), Sweet Charity (Nottingham Playhouse) and Les Misérables(Queen’s Theatre). His film credits include The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Shaq trained at Arts Educational School in London.

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Grievance culture is not unproblematic

Julian Ovenden and Gillian Anderson in All About Eve.

How seriously should theatre-goers take a reviewer that keeps using the word problematic?

Not seriously at all, obviously.

A trend that, arguably, represents everything rotten & self-destructive about the industry currently. Imposing self righteous 21st century values on the past also means work is now regularly dismissed: sight unseen.

Who needs creative expression anyway? Balance? Forget it.

It’s like Brexit it goes from bad to worse

In an industry that has only recently begun to grapple with the equality issues that have bedevilled it, progress has been made on representation & visibility.

But where does all this agenda-driven, middle class self-loathing & guilt tripping actually lead? Well, it is initially on display in the current crop or preachy ‘woke’ commentary that is entrenched in mainstream culture. See: Theatre Twitter / Exeunt & an increasing number of The Stage’s reviews.

Berkoff as Harvey Weinstein. Photograph credit: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock

Berkoff as Harvey Weinstein. Photograph credit: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock

Steven Berkoff recently directed himself in Harvey, a one-man show about Weinstein, at the Playground theatre, London. The play attempts to delve into the disgraced movie mogul.

The Guardian went and awarded it 2 stars. This was a workshop run of a new play by an 81 year old man. Press were not invited – they went anyway. Tabloid stuff innit.

Berkoff may not be to everyone’s taste and the timing is undeniably questionable (too soon etc) but he is a man with an international profile & reputation for cutting-edge theatre (East, Salome and Decadence) Berkoff is also one of the foremost actors of his generation. To write him off for having a scrotum & daring to tackle this material is churlish.

Every year a rotating number of individual voices rise above the usual noise on social media but the stupidity remains ritualised. Everyone is offended – everything is problematic. Even Mary Poppins is racistyou know.

Long term, as others are often too scared to point out, though, it’s hardly an unconnected surprise to learn that critics are being culled & informed mainstream coverage is in decline. Who wants to read this stuff? Modern life is already miserable enough as it is.

It’s always a case of fine margins, of course, with The Stage & increasingly The Guardian which are both regularly condemning patriarchy in a campaign that can best be described as annoying.

It is, though, hard to escape the sense that all concerned are going through the motions – effortlessly, sometimes brilliantly – but going through the motions, none the less. Chasing trends rather than setting them.

All About Eve

All About Eve

This week, I visited the Noel Coward to see Ivo Van Hove’s production of All About Eve. The play is based on the classic 1950 film, that sees Bette Davis as an ageing star under siege from a manipulative aspiring actress.

Gillian Anderson & Lily James are great & I found it compelling. Technical wizardry aside, the vital element in the brilliance of All About Eve is that the direction & cast are of a phenomenally high standard. Truly.

Anyway, in a review for Time OutAndrzej Łukowski commented: “Her appearance is the first sense that any women exist in this world, and she’s there to mourn, repent, and care for a suffering man, not to have her own agency.” ‘Written in a very different era, ‘All About Eve’ is not totally unproblematic in its depiction of female ambition and its relationship to female bodies. But it is still pretty potent, and apt, and you can see why it appealed to Van Hove.’

All About Eve is geared toward the #MeToo era; most of the audiences are young, smart females. I used to enjoy reading first night reviews. Now, so often, the recurring themes and language around the same complaints about ‘all male’ creative teams week-after week mean that those writing about theatre have talked themselves into an opinion.

By which I mean give me strength –  let’s not get carried away chaps, it’s just people jumping on an obvious bandwagon.

Stay strong, readers.

All About Eve is at the Noël Coward theatre, London, until 11 May.