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The Watermill Theatre announces Autumn and Winter season for 2019

Kiss Me Kate
  • Paul Hart directs The Watermill’s summer musical Kiss Me, Kate
  • Bill Buckhurst directs Sondheim’s Assassins in a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse
  • Watermill Young Company presents Cyrano de Bergerac
  • Watermill Ensemble presents a fast-paced A Mini Summer Night’s Dream featuring a cast of three
  • Mark Twain’s classic The Prince and the Pauper reimagined in a new version by Chinonyerem Odimba

 The Watermill Theatre today announced its new season for Autumn/Winter 2019.

In keeping with the theatre’s growing reputation for producing theatrically bold and imaginatively staged musicals performed by actor-musicians, the season highlights will include the multi-award-winning classic Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate, as well as a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse of Stephen Sondheim’s whip-smart and insightful Assassins

 Also featuring is work from the Young Company who will be performing Glyn Maxwell’s adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s epic Cyrano de Bergerac and The Watermill Ensemble return with a hilarious, high-octane version of Shakespeare’s Dream in A Mini Summer Night’s Dream which will tour to schools. Finally, the festive season unwraps with a lively adaptation by Chinonyerem Odimba of Mark Twain’s classic story of confused identities, The Prince and The Pauper for all the family.

Paul Hart, Artistic and Executive Director said ‘I am really excited about bringing this season of work to The Watermill.  Our summer musicals have become must-see shows, and I can’t wait to get working on Kiss Me, Kate in The Watermill’s unique and intimate space – Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, egos raging and gun-toting gangsters, what’s not to love?  This brilliant show-within-a-show set up and Cole Porter’s sublime score will be reimagined with actor-musicians. I am also delighted to be co-producing Assassins with Nottingham Playhouse, one of Sondheim’s most pertinent pieces, continuing our long association with the work of Sondheim. It is thrilling to see work from our fantastically committed Young Company and they will be bringing to life a very funny production of Cyrano De Bergerac. Our ever versatile Watermill Ensemble will be showcasing a fast-paced, joyous ‘Mini Summer Night’s Dream’ with three actors playing all the parts. The show will  tour to schools and run at the theatre. Finally, for the festive season we have a real treat for all the family with Chinonyerem Odimba’s new version of Mark Twain’s classic story The Prince and The Pauper.’

Continuing its commitment to making its work accessible to all, The Watermill will offer £10 tickets for 16 to 25s to all main house productions. It will stage its twelfth integrated signed performance during the run of The Prince and the Pauper on 11 and 14 December, as well as a Relaxed Performance on 7 December. There will also be a Relaxed Performance of A Mini Summer Night’s Dream on 7 November and audio described performances for Kiss Me, Kate, Assassins and The Prince and the Pauper.

The Watermill Theatre presents

KISS ME, KATE

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter

Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

Directed by Paul Hart

Designed by Frankie Bradshaw

Choreography by Naomi Said

Sound designed by Tom Marshall

Thursday 25 July to Saturday 21 September

PRESS NIGHT: MONDAY 29 JULY AT 7.30PM

Onstage romance collides with backstage drama in this musical comedy about the highs and lows of working in theatre.

When ego-centric actor-manager Fred Graham and his fiery ex-wife Lilli Vanessi find themselves starring opposite each other in a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, sparks begin to fly. Meanwhile in another corner of Ford’s Theatre, Baltimore, Fred’s current flame and rising star Lois Lane attempts to tame her gambler boyfriend only to be thwarted by the arrival of a couple of gangsters who somehow find themselves centre stage!

Despite chaos reigning on and offstage, the show must go on! Will the cast make it to curtain up or will they literally bring the house down?

Showbiz shenanigans together with Cole Porter’s jazz-inflected score form a sparkling tribute to theatre in all its greasepaint and glory.

Kiss Me, Kate’s iconic music and razor-sharp wit are catapulted into the limelight by a cast of actor-musicians performing showstopping numbers including Too Darn Hot, Another Op’nin’ Another Show, Brush Up Your Shakespeare and So in Love.

 Principal Sponsor, Saica Pack

 

The Watermill Theatre and

Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company present

ASSASSINS

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by John Weidman

ASSASSINS is based on an idea by Charles Gilbert Jr.

Original orchestrations by Michael Starobin

Playwrights Horizons Inc., New York City, produced ASSASSINS off-Broadway in 1990

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited
Directed by Bill Buckhurst

Musical Supervision and Orchestration by Catherine Jayes

Designed by Simon Kenny

 

Thursday 26 September to Saturday 26 October

PRESS NIGHT: MONDAY 30 SEPTEMBER AT 7.30PM

 ‘Murder is a tawdry little crime. But when a president gets killed… he gets assassinated.’

A man sits in a storeroom on the sixth floor of a Book Depository in Texas waiting for John F. Kennedy’s motorcade to pass below. He rests his finger on the trigger, ready to join a line of men and women who have shot their way into the history books.

Assassins is a satirical and stylish look at why individuals reach for a gun when they feel their voice can’t be heard. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to perform harrowing acts. Clever, funny and thought-provoking, this is a musical about the power of the President, the lure of celebrity and the failure of the American Dream.

This multiple Tony award-winning vaudeville style show is a modern classic. Following the success of A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd, The Watermill returns to Sondheim with a multi-talented cast of actor-musicians.

 The Watermill Young Company presents

CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Adapted by Glyn Maxwell
From the play by Edmond Rostand

Directed by Seamus Allen

Designed by Cory Shipp

This amateur production is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD a Concord Theatricals Company.

Wednesday 30 October to Saturday 2 November

PRESS NIGHT: THURSDAY 31 OCTOBER AT 7.30PM

 ‘Does it seem strange: a hundred cutthroats against one poor poet?’

Cyrano is the greatest swordsman in all of France whose prowess in battle is only equalled by the beauty of his poetry. Fierce with a pen and notorious in combat, the gifted nobleman appears to have it all. If only he could capture the heart of his one true love Roxanne. The Watermill Young Company return with a swashbuckling tale of adventure and romance.

The Sackler Trust, Principal Supporter of The Watermill Young Company

The Watermill Ensemble presents

Shakespeare Unlocked

A MINI SUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Danielle Pearson

Directed by Robert Kirby

Monday 4 to Friday 8 November

PRESS NIGHT: TUESDAY 5 NOVEMBER AT 7.30PM

‘If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here. While these visions did appear…’

Three actors unlock Shakespeare’s enchanting play in a fast-paced 75 minute production with live music.

Midsummer’s night. The costume store backstage at a theatre. Things begin to come alive… Sprites, fairies and young lovers collide in Shakespeare’s beguiling comedy of magic and mischief. Over the course of a single night, hearts are broken, vows are made and dreams are chased.

There will be a free post-show Q&A following performances from Tuesday to Friday.

This production will also tour to schools. For more information about the tour call 01635 570927.

The Sackler Trust, Principal Supporter of The Watermill Schools Touring Programme.

 The Watermill Theatre presents

THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
By Mark Twain

Adaptation and Lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba

Music and Lyrics by Tarek Merchant

Directed by Abigail Pickard Price

Thursday 14 November to Saturday 4 January 2020

PRESS PERFORMANCES: SATURDAY 16 NOVEMBER AT 2.30pm and 7pm.
A magical, musical tale of dreams, ambition and friendship.

Two young dreamers with very different lives long for change. The Prince is bored of royal life, of endless parties and rules and grown-ups. Most of all, he hates the grown-ups and wishes he had friends his own age to play with. Outside the palace walls in the bustling streets of London, a young girl who loves to play music and dance, dreams of escaping her humble life to perform for the finest people in the city.

When their two worlds collide, the Prince and the Pauper embark on a thrilling adventure beyond their wildest imaginations. Switching places to live each other’s lives, will they ever be the same again?

Suitable for age 4+. We regret that we are unable to admit children under 3 or babes in arms into the auditorium except for the Relaxed Performance.

Principal Sponsor, Horsey Lightly Solicitors

One-off events

The Watermill Theatre and Paines Plough present
COME TO WHERE I’M FROM

Saturday 9 November at 6.30pm
This celebrated nationwide project visits Newbury inviting the finest local playwrights to write and perform mini plays about their home towns.

Since 2010, more than 160 writers from across the UK have returned home to pen plays about the places that shaped them. Together these plays make up a theatrical tapestry of the nation – a playwrights’ guide to Great Britain. At theatres from Bristol to Belfast, Cardiff to Coventry and Nottingham to Newcastle, these plays have been performed by the playwrights themselves, coming home to tell their tale.

Now, Come To Where I’m From visits The Watermill for a special evening of new short plays about Newbury performed by the playwrights themselves on the stage of their home town theatre.

Download the Come To Where I’m From app to listen to plays from around the UK for free. Available from the App Store and Google Play.

 LISTINGS INFORMATION

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury RG20 8AE

Tickets: Online: www.watermill.org.uk
Box Office: 01635 46044

Booking opens on Tuesday 23 April at 10am.
Friends of The Watermill Priority Booking opens Friday 12 April at 10am.

KISS ME, KATE

Dates: Thursday 25 July to Saturday 21 September

Press Night: Monday 29 July, 7.30pm
Times: 
Evening performances at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinées at 2.30pm. Final performances on Saturday 21 September at 1.30pm and 6.30pm.
Audio Described performance on Saturday 17 August at 2.30pm, Touch Tour at 1pm.

Ticket prices: Monday evenings and Thursday matinées: £22 and £18.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings and Saturday matinées: £31, £28, £20.

Friday and Saturday evenings: £33, £30, £22.

ASSASSINS

Dates: Thursday 26 September to Saturday 26 October

Press Night: Monday 30 September, 7.30pm
Times: Evening performances at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinées at 2.30pm. Final performances on Saturday 26 October at 1.30pm and 6.30pm. Audio Described performance on Saturday 26 October at 1.30pm, Touch Tour at 12 noon.

Ticket prices: Monday evenings and Thursday matinées: £22 and £16.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings and Saturday matinées: £31, £28, £16.

Friday and Saturday evenings: £33, £30, £19.

 

CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Dates: Wednesday 30 October to Saturday 2 November

Press Night: Thursday 31 October, 7.30pm.

Times: Wednesday to Friday evening performances at 7.30pm, Saturday at 6.30pm.

Ticket prices: £12 and £11.50, concessions £7 and £6.50.

A MINI SUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Dates: Monday 4 to Friday 8 November

Press Night: Tuesday 5 November, 7.30pm

Times: Evening performances at 7.30pm. Wednesday and Thursday matinées at 2.30pm. There will be a Relaxed Performance on Thursday 7 November at 2.30pm.

Ticket prices: Monday to Friday evenings: £14 and £13. Wednesday and Thursday matinées: £8 and £7.50.

THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER

Dates: Thursday 14 November to Saturday 4 January. Performance times vary so please go to www.watermill.org.uk

Press Night: Saturday 16 November, 2.30pm and 7pm

Accessible performances:
BSL integrated performances on Wednesday 11 December at 2.30pm and Saturday 14 December at 2.30pm.
Audio Described performance on Saturday 21 December at 2.30pm, Touch Tour at 1pm.
Relaxed Performance on Saturday 7 December at 2.30pm. Tickets for the Relaxed Performance are £20 and £18.
Ticket prices: From Thursday 14 November to Thursday 12 December £23, £17, £12.
From Saturday 14 December to Saturday 4 January £25, £18, £13.
Schools’ tickets are £9. Please call the box office to book on 01635 46044.

 

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM

Date: Saturday 9 November 
Time: 
6.30pm

Ticket prices: £12 and £8.

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

Ray Rackham

Ray Rackham

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judy! By Ray Rackham

“Of course, it was Judy’s last movie”

“Judy who?”

“Are you kidding me?”

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

“Oh, you mean Liza Minnelli’s mum!”

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

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

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

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

“We love you Judy”

“JG – always in my heart”

“I still believe in the rainbow”

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

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

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

I hope to see you there.

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

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

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