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Top 5 Shows of 2018 – (the hype is real)

Top 5 shows of 2018 by Carl Woodward

All these shows are 10/10s.

It has been quite a year for theatre.

But first I thought it would only be polite to look back at some brilliantly shit moments.

Chicago returned with Cuba Gooding Jr as Billy Flynn, which was not ideal. Crumbling shows do these things, of course, in the hope of charming the audience into thinking the show still has legs. Love Island’s Caroline Flack was eventually parachuted in as Roxie Hart – reportedly pipping Cheryl Cole to the part. I know.

Elsewhere, the show most likely to drive business into the assisted suicide sector of Switzerland’s economy: Foxfinder. The West End production of Dawn King’s dystopian play – last seen at the tiny Finborough in 2005 – was a crushing disappointment. A starry affair, though, featuring Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones) and Heida Reed (Poldark).

 FoxFinder

FoxFinder

However, it closed 2 months early after reportedly playing to an average audience of 40 people. Oh dear. I was enraged at the stupidity of the production.

It wasn’t the only fiasco of the year, though, ‘cos I was also pretty distressed by Eugenius! Ben Adams and Chris Wilkin’s joyless 80’s musical returned to the Other Palace and looked all set to transfer to the Ambassador’s Theatre.

Sadly, for them, a key investor pulled out. I don’t think a show has ever made me want to eat my own teeth with despair, either. The less said about it the better.

Oh, and cult off-Broadway show Heathers transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. A horror of a show featuring Carrie Hope Fletcher. ‘The hype is real’ set a new low for witless PR. Note: Heathers was, in fact, beyond criticism.

Off-stage oddity was abundant, The Tricycle in Kilburn rebranded as Kiln Theatre. In one of the most pointless protests of all time. You want to know the location of this outrage, though, simply take a closer look at the people branding placards; they had the Brexit look about them.

But what a terrific year it has been for great theatre.

So, my Top 5 shows of 2018.

  1. Fun Home at the Young Vic, was a radical triumph. The Tony-Award winning musical based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 striking graphic novel memoir was all about growing up gay. But, if anything, it was all about the poignantly beautiful inspired lesbian protagonist and the complicated relationship with her closeted gay father. This was an unconventional 100-minute show set in a funeral home but full of life and bristling with ambition. Enchanting stuff.

A sensational Jenna Russell added majestic authority to an all-too-relatable, everyday drama. Russell invoked absolute magic. I sobbed. As did most around me.

Caroline, or Change

Caroline, Or Change

  1. Caroline, Or Change was exhilarating and distinct. Sharon D Clarke made mincemeat as Caroline, a black maid in Tony Kushner’s sprawling civil rights musical. Clarke’s vocals conveyed wilful submissiveness with tenderness, giving the production an incredible, stark atmosphere. Everything about it had a cohesiveness that only the greatest shows possess. Michael Longhust directed everything with exhilarating originality.

The glorious show stared life in Chichester – enjoyed a sell-out acclaimed run at Hampstead Theatre and is running at Playhouse Theatre until April 2019.

Go. See. It.

  1. Company is stylish, charismatic and an unselfconsciously incisive gender-switch Sondheim for the 21st Century. Elliott & Harper riotously rode the zeitgeist with this one. Bobby became Bobbie – a singleton facing her 35th birthday alone and Rosalie Craig embodied the role to classy perfection, which was a relief.

This slick and stylish amazingness also includes two of the best musical theatre performances of 2018 in the shape of Patti LuPone and Jonathan Bailey belting out 5-star, show-stopping excellence every night. Marianne Elliott’s excellent production reinvented Stephen Sondheim for today. A thrilling interrogation of a half-century old musical that deserves all the awards. Bunny Christie’s luminescent set is certainly the best thing on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Company was 2018’s most thrilling and sophisticated musical comedy.

  1. The Producers at the Royal Exchange was very, very funny and beautifully executed. I.e. unmissable theatre. Performed in the round, drawing the audience in, Raz Shaw’s brilliant revival of Mel Brooks’ musical felt horribly pertinent to the present. Timing, chemistry, acting and singing: all note-perfect.

Not for the first time, Manchester set the standard for world class theatre. Alistair David’s choreography was seriously good, too. A side-splitting and hilarious piece of work. Truly.

Anyway, at this point you’re probably wondering what the best show of 2018 is going to be.

Well:

  1. The Inheritance is probably the funniest play you’ll see about AIDS. Matthew Lopez’s two-part masterpiece manages to make you weep with laughter one moment and move you to tears the next. A brilliant rare theatre trick indeed.
The Inheritance

The Inheritance

 This is the play of the year, by the writer of the year, from the producer of the decade (Sonia Friedman), and if the beauty of The Inheritance doesn’t hit you round the head when you see it you might as well pack up and go home because it’s over. Don’t talk to me.

You can be hard pressed to find performances rarely so inspired, defined and compatible with the dozen exceptionally gifted performers. Stephen Daldry’s life-affirming production takes an unflinching look at what makes us tick, success, failure, love and heartbreak.

This is sublime 7-hour play that uniquely explores the lives of gay New Yorkers a generation on from the AIDS crisis, whilst also being a striking love letter to EM Forster and Howards End.

To call The Inheritance a once-in-a-lifetime piece of theatre perfection would be 100% accurate. Hey, even retired critic Michael Coveney liked it and he hates everything and everyone. *thumbs up emoji*

Broadway beckons, no doubt.

And that brings our list to a close. Not great news for Bananaman: The Musical, but pretty good news for theatre’s best people.

Shows that have made it to Carl’s  list of  top 10:

 

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First Look: Production photos of West End hit Caroline, Or Change

Black Ticket Project announces partnership with Caroline, Or Change

Black Ticket Project
Black Ticket Project

Black Ticket Project

  • 500 tickets have been allocated to young Black people who do not normally have access to the theatre
  • Change for Change – Fundraising collections for the charity will happen after each performance of the show

In 2017 after seeing a performance of Barber Shop Chronicles at the National Theatre, Tobi Kyeremateng felt compelled to do something to help more young Black people get to the theatre. She set up Black Ticket Project. It raised funds to help people, who have not accessed and do not have the means to access theatre, get their hands on some tickets. Since 2017 the project has helped people see Nine Nightear for eyePoet in Da CornerMistySylvia, Dreamgirls, SUPERBLACKMAN and the BAC Beatbox Academy’sFrankensteinBlack Ticket Project is now delighted to be announcing its biggest project to date.

A partnership with the musical Caroline, Or Change – lead by the inspirational performer Sharon D. Clarke – will see 500 young Black people have access to a free ticket to the show through the scheme. Tobi Kyeremateng said:

“The momentum behind this project is really building. I am thrilled that so many young Black people will experience this amazing show. We have worked with a wide range of youth organisations and through social media to ensure that the tickets get to the right people. It is so exciting that an idea born one night at the theatre almost 2 years ago, has grown so fast and is attracting the interest and support of so many people. I am very grateful to Sharon and all the wonderful company of Caroline, Or Change”.

In addition to the free tickets which were all taken up in record time, Black Theatre Project will be raising money through bucket collections after every performance of Caroline, Or Change. In a scheme called Change For Change, all the money raised will be used to buy tickets for future productions for more young Black people to attend, or will cover their supplementary costs (eg. travel) to ensure the easiest access to the shows.

Sharon D. Clarke said: “This scheme is just brilliant. It provides the opportunity for more young Black people to get to the theatre, to find out what it is all about and to, hopefully, get the bug of becoming a regular theatregoer. I am sure it is going to play a big part in changing the diversity of theatre audiences in the UK and for that it is to be supported and applauded.”

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE starts rehearsals and offers unique ticket scheme

Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline, Or Change Credit Marc Brenner
Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline, Or Change Credit Marc Brenner

Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline, Or Change Credit Marc Brenner

It is announced today that the highly anticipated West End production Caroline, Or Change will extend its booking period due to popular demand and will now run in the West End at the Playhouse Theatre from 20 November 2018 to 6 April 2019. Chichester Festival Theatre’s critically acclaimed production also enjoyed a sell-out engagement at Hampstead Theatre, and has been nominated today for Best Musical and Best Musical Performance for Sharon D. Clarke in this year’s Evening Standard Awards.

The celebrated musical is written by Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America and recent recipient of the Arthur Miller Foundation Humanitarian Award. The soaring score is by Tony Award-winning Fun Home composer, Jeanine Tesori.

A truly welcoming and joyous musical, Caroline, Or Change opens its doors to new audiences with two unique ticketing initiatives:

Chichester Festival Theatre’s highly successful Prologue scheme, which enables 16-25 year olds to purchase £5 tickets across all productions in the theatre’s Festival season has now also been applied to Caroline, Or Change in the West End. The limited number of £5 Prologue tickets can be purchased by 16-25 year olds, on the day of performance and in person from the Playhouse Theatre Box Office, where proof of age ID will be required.

‘Carolines Go Free’ is an exclusive offer to anyone named Caroline. Carolines will receive a complimentary ticket when purchasing one or more accompanying tickets. The 2 for 1 initiative will be available in person at the box office or via the telephone on 0844 871 7631.

Rehearsals are now underway for the company which is led by Olivier Award-winning actress Sharon D. Clarke in a critically acclaimed virtuoso performance as Caroline Thibodeaux. The full cast will include Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Keisha Amponsa Banson, Alastair Brookshaw, Me’sha Bryan, Angela Caesar, Dujonna Gift-Simms, Sue Kelvin, Teddy Kempner, Ako Mitchell, Abiona Omonua, Vincent Pirillo, Tanisha Spring and Lauren Ward with Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong, Zalika Henry, Laura Medforth, Timothy Quinlan and Teddy Wills.

Nine young performers have been cast in the roles of Noah, Jackie and Joe. Isaac Forward, Aaron Gelkoff and Jack Meredith will alternate the role of Noah, Mark MwangiKenya Sandy and Jeremiah Waysome will alternate the role of Jackie and the role of Joe will be alternated byJosiah ChotoDavid Dube and Raphael Higgins-Hume.

Directed by Michael Longhurst, this five-star production received phenomenal critical praise when it opened with sold out engagements at Chichester Festival Theatre and again at the Hampstead Theatre.

Louisiana, 1963. Revolution is in the air, though not so much for Caroline, the poorly paid maid toiling endlessly in the sweltering basement of the Gellman household. It’s a fantastical, magical place amidst the piles of laundry and singing washing machines, especially for eight-year-old Noah Gellman who sneaks downstairs to see her whenever he can. Yet a simple gesture to leave more money in Caroline’s pocket is about to test who and how far the winds of change can ever really reach…

Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Caroline, Or Change is a playful, funny, and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval, set to an uplifting and profound score of soul, blues, classical and traditional Jewish folk music.

Chichester Festival Theatre is committed to providing affordable tickets to world-class theatre, and particularly in reaching and growing younger audiences with the aim of encouraging independent theatregoing and kick-starting a life-long love of theatre in young people. Under the leadership of Daniel Evans (Artistic Director) and Rachel Tackley (Executive Director), the price of Prologue tickets for 16 to 25 year olds has been brought down to £5 with tickets made available for all productions in the Festival season including talks with casts and creatives, late night cabarets and other social events for young theatregoers. For further information and to sign up to the Prologue scheme, visit the Chichester Festival Theatre website.

Ambassador Theatre Group, Gavin Kalin Productions, Glass Half Full Productions and Rupert Gavin, in association with Hampstead Theatre, present the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Caroline, Or ChangeBook and lyrics by Tony Kushner, music by Jeanine Tesori and is directed by Michael Longhurst, with designs by Fly Davis, choreography by Ann Yee, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting byJack Knowles, sound by Paul Arditti, casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG and children’s casting by Debbie O’Brien.

CAROLINE OR CHANGE full casting announced for the West End

'Caroline, or Change' Play performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, UK
'Caroline, or Change' Play performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, UK

‘Caroline, or Change’ Play performed at Hampstead Theatre, London, UK

Full casting has been announced for Caroline, Or Change, the celebrated musical written by Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, with a soaring score from Tony Award-winning Jeanine Tesori, which will run at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre from 20 November 2018 to 9 February 2019.

As previously announced, the cast will be led by Olivier Award-winning actress Sharon D. Clarke in a critically acclaimed virtuoso performance asCaroline Thibodeaux. She will be joined by Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Keisha Amponsa Banson, Alastair Brookshaw, Me’sha Bryan, Angela Caesar, Dujonna Gift-Simms, Sue Kelvin, Teddy Kempner, Ako Mitchell, Abiona Omonua, Vincent Pirillo, Tanisha Spring andLauren Ward with Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong, Zalika Henry, Laura Medforth, Timothy Quinlan and Teddy Wills.

Nine young performers have been cast in the roles of Noah, Jackie and Joe. Isaac Forward, Aaron Gelkoff and Jack Meredith will alternate the role of Noah, Mark MwangiKenya Sandy and Jeremiah Waysome will alternate the role of Jackie and the role of Joe will be alternated byJosiah ChotoDavid Dube and Raphael Higgins-Hume.

Directed by Michael Longhurst, this five-star production received phenomenal critical praise when it opened with sold out engagements at Chichester Festival Theatre and again at the Hampstead Theatre.

Louisiana, 1963. Revolution is in the air, though not so much for Caroline, the poorly paid maid toiling endlessly in the sweltering basement of the Gellman household. It’s a fantastical, magical place amidst the piles of laundry and singing washing machines, especially for eight-year-old Noah Gellman who sneaks downstairs to see her whenever he can. Yet a simple gesture to leave more money in Caroline’s pocket is about to test who and how far the winds of change can ever really reach…

Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Caroline, Or Change is a playful, funny, and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval, set to an uplifting and profound score of soul, blues, classical and traditional Jewish folk music.

Olivier Award-winner Sharon D. Clarke is to reprise her critically-hailed performance in the role of Caroline Thibodeaux. Clarke has enjoyed a long established stage career with credits including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Amen Corner (National Theatre), Ghost The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre) and We Will Rock You(Dominion Theatre). On TV, Clarke is known for playing Lola Griffin in BBC’s Holby City and from 7 October 2018 will guest star in the brand new series of Doctor Who.

Naana Agyei-Ampadu’s theatre credits include Avenue Q (Noël Coward Theatre), Che Walker’s The Frontline and Measure for Measure(Shakespeare’s Globe), Been So Long (Young Vic: Evening Standard Award nomination) and Feast (Young Vic).

Keisha Amponsa Banson’s previous West End credits include Motown: The Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre), The Pajama Game (Chichester Festival Theatre/ Old Vic/ Shaftesbury Theatre), From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre) and The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre).

Alastair Brookshaw’s previous theatre credits include A Little Night Music (The Watermill), She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Theatre), The Grand Tour (Finborough Theatre) and De Profundis (Leicester Square Theatre).

Me’sha Bryan is a singer, songwriter and actor whose recent theatre credits include As You Like It (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Desire Under The Elms (Sheffield Crucible), The Lion King (UK tour), The Little Shop of Horrors (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Ragtime (Piccadilly Theatre).

Angela Caesar’s theatre credits include Orlando and the Three GracesClown, and Into the Forest, (Theatre Peckham), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera (UK tour) Carmen Jones (Royal Festival Hall), An African Cargo (Nitro Theatre Company). Opera credits include Heart of Darkness (ROH), Knight Crew (Glyndebourne), Varjak Paw (The Old Vic) and The Silent Twins (Almeida Theatre).

Dujonna Gift-Simms made her West End debut in Motown: The Musical.

Sue Kelvin’s theatre credits include Wicked (Apollo Victoria), Private Lives (Gielgud Theatre), Travelling Light and A Streetcar Names Desire(National Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy Theatre), Chicago (Cambridge Theatre and Adelphi Theatre),  Beau Jest (Hackney Empire), Oliver! (London Palladium), Assassins (Donmar Warehouse) and Les Misérables (Palace Theatre).

Teddy Kempner’s theatre credits include Driving Miss Daisy (Theatre Royal Bath/ UK Tour), The Trial and The Bourgeois Gentilhomme (National Theatre),  A Month in the CountryHow To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, and Six Pictures of Lee Miller (Chichester Festival Theatre),Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse),  Measure for Measure and Habeas Corpus (Peter Hall Company), Nicholas Nickleby (RSC, London and New York), The Three SistersThe Merry Wives of WindsorOthelloThe Suicide (all RSC), and Snoopy in Snoopy (Duchess Theatre: Olivier Award nomination).

Ako Mitchell is an actor and filmmaker whose theatre credits include Guys and Dolls and Little Shop of Horrors (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Wild Party (The Other Palace), Ragtime (Charing Cross Theatre), Fences (Duchess Theatre) and the role of Mufasa in The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre).

Abiona Omonua’s theatre credits include Guys and Dolls (Manchester Royal Exchange), Hamlet (Tara Arts), Soul (Royal & Derngate and Hackney Empire), Dessa Rose (Trafalgar Studios), The Color Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory), Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre), Parade (Southwark Playhouse), Hairspray (original UK tour), and Hot Mikado (The Watermill).

Vincent Pirillo is an actor and Opera singer whose theatre credits include She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Phantom of the Opera (UK Tour), Sweeney Todd (Chichester Festival Theatre), Inherit the Wind (The Old Vic) and Fiddler on the Roof (Sheffield Crucible/ Savoy Theatre).

Tanisha Spring‘s theatre credits include Tina (Aldwych Theatre), Big Fish (The Other Palace), One Love: The Bob Marley Musical (Birmingham Rep) and Beautiful (Aldwych Theatre).

Lauren Ward’s theatre credits include Matilda (Cambridge Theatre and RSC/Courtyard Theatre), The Sound of Music (London Palladium), The Philadelphia Story (The Old Vic), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Camelot (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Winter’s Tale and Pericles (RSC). Broadway credits include Matilda (Shubert Theatre: Tony Award nomination), Follies (Balasco Theatre) and 1776 (Gershwin Theatre: Drama League Award winner, Drama Desk Award nomination).

Ambassador Theatre Group, Gavin Kalin Productions, Glass Half Full Productions and Rupert Gavin, in association with Hampstead Theatre, present the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Caroline, Or ChangeBook and lyrics by Tony Kushner, music by Jeanine Tesori and is directed by Michael Longhurst, with designs by Fly Davis, choreography by Ann Yee, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting byJack Knowles, sound by Paul Arditti, casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG and children’s casting by Debbie O’Brien.

LISTINGS

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Book and lyrics by TONY KUSHNER
Music by JEANINE TESORI
Directed by MICHAEL LONGHURST
Starring SHARON D. CLARKE 

Playhouse Theatre
Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE

www.carolineorchange.co.uk | @carolinewestend

Performance schedule:

First performance: 20 November 2018
Final performance: 9 February 2019

Monday to Saturday performances at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinee performances at 2.30pm
Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes including one interval

Box office details:

Website: www.carolineorchange.co.uk
Telephone: 0844 871 7631
Prices from £20

CAROLINE OR CHANGE transfers to the West End starring Sharon D. Clarke

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

  • West End transfer announced for Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical, directed by Michael Longhurst.
  • Sharon D. Clarke to reprise the title role of Caroline Thibodeaux.
  • Playhouse Theatre, London from 20 November 2018 to 9 February 2019 following sold out engagements at Chichester Festival Theatre and Hampstead Theatre.

Caroline, Or Change, the celebrated musical written by Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, with a soaring score from Tony Award-winning Jeanine Tesori, will transfer into the West End’s Playhouse Theatre from 20 November 2018 to 9 February 2019.

Hailed by critics, in a virtuoso performance as Caroline Thibodeaux, Olivier Award-winning actress Sharon D. Clarke will reprise the title role when the production transfers to the West End this autumn. Further casting is to be announced in due course.

Directed by Michael Longhurst, this five-star production received phenomenal critical praise when it opened at Chichester Festival Theatre last year and again following its transfer to Hampstead Theatre, where it is currently sold-out until 21 April.

Louisiana, 1963. Revolution is in the air, though not so much for Caroline, the poorly paid maid toiling endlessly in the sweltering basement of the Gellman household. It’s a fantastical, magical place amidst the piles of laundry and singing washing machines, especially for eight-year-old Noah Gellman who sneaks downstairs to see her whenever he can. Yet a simple gesture to leave more money in Caroline’s pocket is about to test who and how far the winds of change can ever really reach…

Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Caroline, Or Change is a playful, funny, and deeply moving portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval, set to an uplifting and profound score of soul, blues, classical and traditional Jewish folk music.

Partly inspired by his own boyhood, the book and lyrics are by Tony Kushner. Kushner is author of the ground-breaking Angels in America, his two-part epic drama about the AIDS epidemic in 1980’s New York which recently ran at the National Theatre, is currently playing at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York, was made into an HBO mini-series and inspired an opera and musical workKushner’s film credits include screenplays Fences starring and directed by Denzel Washington, Lincoln, Munich which he co-wrote for Steven Spielberg and forthcoming remake of West Side Story, also for Spielberg. Other credits include The Intellectual Homosexual’s Guide to Capatilism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, Hydriotaphia, Slavs!:Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness and adaptations of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children and The Good Person of Szechwan.

Music is by Jeanine Tesori. Tesori wrote the Tony Award-winning Best Original Score to Fun Home, alongside Lisa Kron’s book and lyrics, the music for Broadway, West End and inernational touring Shrek The Musical, eleven new songs for the stage adaptation of Thoroughly Modern Millie and the score for Broadway production, Violet. In addition to Caroline, Or Change, her work with Tony Kushner includes incidential music for Mother Courage and Her Children and their opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck. Film scores include Nights in Rodanthe, The Little Mermaid: Ariels Beginning and Mulan II. Tesori’s opera The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2013.

Michael Longhurst directs. His credits include the recent revival of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (National Theatre) and Nick Payne’s Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall at Royal Court and in the West End and with Ruth Wilson and Jake Gyllenhaal on Broadway. Longhurst also worked with Gyllenhaal on his American stage debut in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet (Roundabout Theatre, New York). Other credits include Gloria (Hampstead Theatre), Belleville (Donmar), Bad Jews (Theatre Royal Bath/West End), and Linda (Royal Court).

Olivier Award-winner Sharon D. Clarke is to reprise her critically-hailed performance in the role of Caroline Thibodeaux. Clarke has enjoyed a long established stage career with credits including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Amen Corner (National Theatre), Ghost The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Porgy and Bess (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre). On TV, Clarke is known for playing Lola Griffin in BBC’s Holby City.

Ambassador Theatre Group, Gavin Kalin Productions, Glass Half Full Productions and Rupert Gavin, in association with Hampstead Theatre, present the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Caroline, Or ChangeBook and lyrics by Tony Kushner, music by Jeanine Tesori and is directed by Michael Longhurst, with designs by Fly Davis, choreography by Ann Yee, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting by Jack Knowles, sound by Paul Arditti, casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG and children’s casting by Debbie O’Brien.

LISTINGS

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Book and lyrics by TONY KUSHNER
Music by JEANINE TESORI
Directed by MICHAEL LONGHURST
Starring SHARON D. CLARKE 

Playhouse Theatre
Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE

www.carolineorchange.co.uk | @carolinewestend

Performance schedule:

First performance: 20 November 2018
Final performance: 9 February 2019

Monday to Saturday performances at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinee performances at 2.30pm

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes including one interval

Box office details:

Website: www.carolineorchange.co.uk
Telephone: 0844 871 7631
Prices from £20

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FIRST LOOK: Production Images – Caroline, or Change at Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre announces full company joining Sharon D. Clarke for Caroline, Or Change

Sharon D. Clarke
Sharon D. Clarke

Sharon D. Clarke

‘That old copper statue by the Courthouse downtown, honouring the dead Confederate soldier, ain’t there no more…’

 Hampstead Theatre presents Tony Kushner’s and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical Caroline, or Change following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre last summer. Sharon D. Clarke will reprise her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in this highly anticipated transfer which is directed by Michael Longhurst.

  1. In quiet Lake Charles, Louisiana, the destruction of a Confederate statue might just signal that change is in the air…  But, whatever the progress of the civil rights movement, in the Gellman household things seem just the same – for now at least.  Eight year old Noah, heartbroken by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage, sneaks down to the basement to spend time with the black maid he idolises, Caroline Thibodeaux: Caroline who runs everything.  Whilst the basement may seem a fantastical place – even the appliances have a voice of their own – Caroline’s work there is repetitive and badly paid.  But when Mrs Gellman comes up with a way for her to take a little more money home, the consequences for Caroline and Noah’s relationship are not what anybody might have expected…

An Olivier Award-winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Change creates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval.

Sharon D. Clarke will be joined by Naana Agyei-Ampuda, Alastair Brookshaw, Angela Caesar, Me’sha Bryan, Sue Kelvin, Teddy Kempner, Ako Mitchell, Abiona Omonua, Vincent Pirillo, Carole Stennett, Sharon Rose, Lauren Ward, T’Shan Williams.

Sharon D Clarke’s theatre credits include Caroline, Or Change (Chichester), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Pigs and Dogs (Royal Court Theatre), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (National Theatre), A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes (Tricycle Theatre), An Oak Tree (National Theatre),Everyman (National Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Porgy and Bess (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park), Blues in the Night (Hackney Empire), The Amen Corner (National Theatre, 2014 Olivier Award Winner – Best Supporting Actress), Ghost (Original London Cast, 2012 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Actress and Manchester Theatre Award winner – Best Actress), Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre, West End), Mama Morton in Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Original London Cast, 2003 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award winner), The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre, West End), Fame (Scandinavian tour), Rent (Shaftesbury Theatre, West End), Guys and Dolls (National Theatre), Mama I Want to Sing (Cambridge Theatre, West End), Asaka in Once on this Island (Birmingham Rep and West End, 1995 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role), Little Shop of Horrors (Leicester Haymarket Theatre) and Medea (Theatr Clwyd & Young Vic). Sharon has also starred in four Pantomime seasons at the Hackney Empire (Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Mother Goose and Cinderella, directed by Susie McKenna). Her film and television credits include DoctorsSilent WitnessHolby City – series regular, Unforgotten, You, Me and Them II, Death in Paradise, New Tricks, Psychobitches, BushTau, Sugarhouse, Secret Society, Beautiful People, Broken Glass, and Tumble Down.

Tony Kushner returns to Hampstead following The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a key to the Scriptures in 2016 and Slavs! in 1994. Kushner’s plays include A Bright Room Called DayAngels in America – Parts One and Two and Homebody/Kabul. As well as Caroline, Or Change his collaborations with composer Jeanine Tesori include the opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck. Kushner has adapted and translated Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion; S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk; Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan andMother Courage and Her Children and the English-language libretto for the opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’ film of Angels in America, and for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln. His books include Brundibár, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, among other honours. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

 Jeanine Tesori won the Tony Award for Best Original Score with Lisa Kron for the musical Fun Home. She has also written Tony-nominated scores for Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center); Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan) and Shrek – The Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). The National Theatre’s 2006 production of Caroline, Or Change received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her 1997 Off-Broadway musical Violet (lyrics, Brian Crawley) opened on Broadway in 2014 and garnered four Tony nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Operas include A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner, Glimmerglass) and The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy, Kennedy Center). Music for plays includes Mother Courage (dir. George C. Wolfe, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline); John Guare’s A Free Man of Color (Lincoln Center Theater, dir. George C. Wolfe) and Romeo and Juliet (Delacorte Gala). Film scores include Nights in RodantheEvery Day and You’re Not You. Jeanine Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild and was cited by the ASCAP as the first female composer to have two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway. She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University.

Michael Longhurst is an award-winning stage director. He returns to Hampstead Theatre following his acclaimed production of Gloria this summer. His lauded production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus at the National Theatre featuring live orchestral accompaniment from the Southbank Sinfonia is currently playing its second run in the Olivier.  Michael’s Royal Court production of Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall transferred to the West End, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and received four Olivier award nominations, and ran on Broadway starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson who was Tony-nominated. He also directed Jake Gyllenhaal in his American stage debut at the Roundabout Theatre, New York in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. Other theatre includes Bad Jews (West End, Theatre Royal Bath & UK tour), They Drink It In The Congo and Carmen Disruption (Almeida), ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore and The Winter’s Tale (Sam Wannamaker Playhouse), Linda, The Art of Dying, Remembrance Day (Royal Court), A Number (Nuffield & Young Vic), Cannibals (Royal Exchange, Manchester), The History Boys (Sheffield Crucible), Dealer’s Choice (Royal & Derngate), The World Of Extreme Happiness (NT Shed), Stovepipe (site-specific promenade with the National Theatre, HighTide & Bush Theatre, Sunday Times’ Top Ten Theatre Events of the Decade), Midnight Your Time (HighTide), On The Beach (Bush Theatre), On The Record and Gaudeamus (Arcola), dirty butterfly (Young Vic, winner of the Jerwood Directors Award), Guardians (Pleasance & Theatre503, Fringe First Award). Michael trained in directing at Mountview after reading Philosophy at Nottingham University. In 2015, the Evening Standard named him as one of the 1000 most influential Londoners.

Cast List
Caroline Thibodeaux       Sharon D Clarke               
The Washing Machine    Me’sha Bryan
Radio 1                                 T’Shan Williams
Radio 2                                 Sharon Rose
Radio 3                                 Carole Stennett
The Dryer/The Bus           Ako Mitchell
Grandma Gellman            Sue Kelvin
Grandpa Gellman             Vincent Pirillo
Rose Stopnick Gellman   Lauren Ward
Stuart Gellman                  Alastair Brookshaw
Dotty Moffett                     Naana Agyeu-Ampadu
The Moon                           Angela Caesar
Emmie Thibodeaux          Abiona Omonua
Mr. Stopnick                       Teddy Kempner
Noah                                     Charlie Gallacher / Aaron Gelkoff
Jackie                                    Kenyah Sandy / Mickell Stewart-Grimes
Joe                                         Josiah Choto / David Dube

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Michael Longhurst
Designed by Fly Davis
Choreography by Ann Yee
Musical Direction by Nigel Lilley
Lighting by Jack Knowles
Sound by Paul Arditti
Casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG
Children’s Casting by Debbie O’Brien
Starring Sharon D. Clarke

12 March – 21 April

Press Night Monday 19 March

Hampstead Theatre announces two new productions for 2018

Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre announces the first two productions for 2018:

  •  The UK premiere of Sarah Burgess’ breathtakingly witty Dry Powder will be directed by Anna Ledwich.
  • Tony Kushner’s and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical Caroline, or Change transfers to Hampstead following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre with Sharon D. Clarke reprising her role as Caroline Thibodeaux.

 Artistic Director Edward Hall comments,

 ‘We’re delighted that Sarah Burgess will make her UK debut at Hampstead with her new play Dry Powder. As the recipient of The Laurents/Hatcher award, one of America’s largest grants for new writing, Sarah is clearly making waves in the US, and we’re proud to introduce this bold new voice to British audiences. Anna Ledwich will direct following her critically acclaimed production of Beth Steel’s Labyrinth last autumn. Tony Kushner’s work continues to enthral audiences around the world and we are thrilled that he will be returning to Hampstead after iHO with his musical collaborator Jeanine Tesori and their multi-award winning musical. 

Partnering up with our friends at Chichester, this will be our first musical offering since Sunny Afternoon and I know it will be a special experience hearing Jeanine’s score in our intimate Theatre as the phenomenal Sharon D. Clarke makes her Hampstead Theatre debut.’

DRY POWDER
Written by Sarah Burgess
Directed by Anna Ledwich

26 January – 3 March

Press Night Thursday 1 February

‘Do we work in public relations? Because I’m starting to feel like I accidentally work in public relations’

Hampstead Theatre presents the UK premiere of Sarah Burgess’ breathtakingly witty and virtuosic comedy, Dry Powder. Directed by Anna Ledwich, this production explores the vision, the vulnerability, and the vilification of those shaping – and skewing – the economy.

New York City – open for business 24/7.

In the same week his private equity firm forced massive layoffs at a supermarket chain, Rick threw himself a lavish engagement party – which even featured an elephant – setting off a Public Relations nightmare. However, all’s not lost when you’re the titan of high finance – there’s still an abundance of cash in reserve and Seth, one of Rick’s partners, spots an opportunity to salvage the company’s reputation with an investment that’s both sound and PR-friendly.  But Jenny, the third partner, and Seth’s nemesis, has other ideas: she’s not in business to make friends. If there’s money to be made, she’ll do whatever it takes to generate the maximum return, irrespective of what the critics might say…

Sarah Burgess‘ play Dry Powder was a 2016 recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award and a 2016 finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Dry Powder premiered at the Public Theater directed by Thomas Kail, starring Claire Danes, John Krasinski, Hank Azaria, and Sanjit De Silva. Her newest play Kings will receive its world premiere in 2018 at the Public Theater. Other plays include Camdenside (Ground Floor selection; Berkeley Rep; Kilroys list 2015) and FAIL: Failures (ANT Fest). Writer for The Tenant (Woodshed Collective) and “Naked Radio,” Naked Angels’ podcast series. Burgess has been a writer-in-residence at SPACE on Ryder Farm and the Cape Cod Theatre Project. WP Lab and Ars Nova Play Group alum.

Anna Ledwich returns to Hampstead Theatre following the critically acclaimed Labyrinth. Her other Hampstead productions include Kiss MeDonny’s BrainThe Argument and the Olivier Award nominated Four Minutes Twelve Seconds Downstairs. Her other credits include The Stick House (Raucous Collective/Bristol Old Vic) and Lulu (Gate Theatre/Headlong) for which she received the New Directions Award. She was awarded the Michael and Morvern Heller Director’s Bursary at Chichester Festival and is an Associate Director at Theatre 503 and co-Artistic Director of Theatre on the Fly at Chichester Festival Theatre.

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Michael Longhurst
Starring Sharon D. Clarke

12 March – 21 April

Press Night Monday 19 March

 ‘That old copper statue by the Courthouse downtown, honouring the dead Confederate soldier, ain’t there no more…’

 Hampstead Theatre presents Tony Kushner’s and Jeanine Tesori’s celebrated musical Caroline, Or Change following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre earlier this summer. Sharon D. Clarke will reprise her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in this highly anticipated transfer which is directed by Michael Longhurst.

  1. In quiet Lake Charles, Louisiana, the destruction of a Confederate statue might just signal that change is in the air…  But, whatever the progress of the civil rights movement, in the Gellman household things seem just the same – for now at least.  Eight year old Noah, heartbroken by the death of his mother and his father’s remarriage, sneaks down to the basement to spend time with the black maid he idolises, Caroline Thibodeaux: Caroline who runs everything.  Whilst the basement may seem a fantastical place – even the appliances have a voice of their own – Caroline’s work there is repetitive and badly paid.  But when Mrs Gellman comes up with a way for her to take a little more money home, the consequences for Caroline and Noah’s relationship are not what anybody might have expected…

An Olivier Award winning musical with a hugely original, highly eclectic and uniquely American score, Caroline, or Changecreates an uplifting and profound portrait of America at a time of momentous social upheaval.

Tony Kushner returns to Hampstead following The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a key to the Scriptures last autumn and Slavs! in 1994. Kushner’s plays include A Bright Room Called DayAngels in America – Parts One and Two and Homebody/Kabul. As well as Caroline, or Change his collaborations with composer Jeanine Tesori include the opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck. Kushner has adapted and translated Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion; S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk; Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan and Mother Courage and Her Children and the English-language libretto for the opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’ film of Angels in America, and for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln. His books include Brundibár, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, among other honours. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

 Jeanine Tesori won the Tony Award for Best Original Score with Lisa Kron for the musical Fun Home, which is currently playing on Broadway. She has also written Tony-nominated scores for Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center); Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan) and Shrek – The Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). The National Theatre’s 2006 production of Caroline, or Change received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her 1997 Off-Broadway musical Violet (lyrics, Brian Crawley) opened on Broadway in 2014 and garnered four Tony nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Operas include A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner, Glimmerglass) and The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy, Kennedy Center). Music for plays includes Mother Courage (dir. George C. Wolfe, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline); John Guare’s A Free Man of Color (Lincoln Center Theater, dir. George C. Wolfe) and Romeo and Juliet (Delacorte Gala). Film scores include Nights in RodantheEvery Day and You’re Not You. Jeanine Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild and was cited by the ASCAP as the first female composer to have two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway. She is the artistic director/co-founder of A Broader Way, an arts empowerment program for girls from underserved communities; the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center; and a lecturer in music at Yale University and Columbia University.

Michael Longhurst is an award-winning stage director. He returns to Hampstead Theatre following his acclaimed production of Gloria this summer. His lauded production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus at the National Theatre featuring live orchestral accompaniment from the Southbank Sinfonia will return to the Olivier in 2018.  Michael’s Royal Court production of Constellations starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall transferred to the West End, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and received four Olivier award nominations, and ran on Broadway starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson who was Tony-nominated. He also directed Jake Gyllenhaal in his American stage debut at the Roundabout Theatre, New York in If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. Other theatre includes Bad Jews (West End, Theatre Royal Bath & UK tour), They Drink It In The Congo and Carmen Disruption (Almeida), ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore and The Winter’s Tale (Sam Wannamaker Playhouse), Linda, The Art of Dying, Remembrance Day (Royal Court), A Number (Nuffield & Young Vic) Cannibals (Royal Exchange, Manchester),The History Boys (Sheffield Crucible),Dealer’s Choice (Royal & Derngate), The World Of Extreme Happiness (NT Shed), Stovepipe (site-specific promenade with the National Theatre, HighTide & Bush Theatre, Sunday Times’ Top Ten Theatre Events of the Decade). Midnight Your Time (HighTide), On The Beach (Bush Theatre), On The Record and Gaudeamus (Arcola), dirty butterfly (Young Vic, winner of the Jerwood Directors Award), Guardians (Pleasance & Theatre503, Fringe First Award). Michael trained in directing at Mountview after reading Philosophy at Nottingham University. In 2015, the Evening Standard named him as one of the 1000 most influential Londoners.

Sharon D Clarke’s recent theatre credits include Caroline, or Change (Chichester), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Pigs and Dogs (Royal Court Theatre), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (National Theatre), A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes (Tricycle Theatre), An Oak Tree (National Theatre), Everyman (National Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Porgy and Bess (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park), Blues in the Night (Hackney Empire), The Amen Corner (National Theatre, 2014 Olivier Award Winner – Best Supporting Actress), Ghost (Original London Cast, 2012 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Actress and Manchester Theatre Award winner – Best Actress), Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre, West End), Mama Morton in Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Original London Cast, 2003 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award winner), The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre, West End), Fame (Scandinavian tour), Rent (Shaftesbury Theatre, West End), Guys and Dolls (National Theatre), Mama I Want to Sing (Cambridge Theatre, West End), Asaka in Once on this Island (Birmingham Rep and West End, 1995 Olivier Award Nominee – Best Performance in a Supporting Role), Little Shop of Horrors (Leicester Haymarket Theatre) and Medea (Theatr Clwyd & Young Vic). Sharon has also starred in four Pantomime seasons at the Hackney Empire (Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Mother Goose and Cinderella, directed by Susie McKenna). Her film and television credits include DoctorsSilent WitnessHolby City – series regular, Unforgotten, You, Me and Them II, Death in Paradise, New Tricks, Psychobitches, BushTau, Sugarhouse, Secret Society, Beautiful People, Broken Glass, and Tumble Down.

Hampstead Theatre and Under 30s

Hampstead Theatre has recently launched The Downstairs Club, a free membership scheme for under 30s that provides better access to Hampstead’s cheaper tickets across the Main Stage and Downstairs.

Hampstead has also launched their new young writers initiative, Inspire: The Next Playwright Programme. Hampstead Theatre’s Inspire: The Next Playwright Programme is a free opportunity for 18 – 25 year-old aspiring playwrights to develop their ideas, talent and craft under the mentorship of award-winning playwright Roy Williams over the course of a year.

Hampstead has received over 400 applications and successful applicants will be contacted shortly.

Roy Williams comments,

‘I am really chuffed and excited to be mentoring the Hampstead Theatre’s new young writers’ group. It’s all about finding new voices. Theatre will die without them.’ 

For more information please go to www.hampsteadtheatre.com

LISTINGS

Main Stage

PRISM

Written and directed by Terry Johnson

6 September – 14 October

THE SLAVES OF SOLITUDE

By Nicholas Wright

Adapted from the novel by Patrick Hamilton

Directed by Jonathan Kent

20 October – 25 November

CELL MATES

By Simon Gray

Directed by Edward Hall

30 November 2017 – 20 January 2018

DRY POWDER

By Sarah Burgess

Directed by Anna Ledwich

26 January – 3 March

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Michael Longhurst

12 March – 21 April

Previews, Mondays and matinees

Full Price: £30/£27/£18

Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*

Seniors (matinees only): £22/20

Groups For every 9 tickets get the 10th free

Access: £16

 Tuesday – Saturday evenings

Full price: £37/£32/£25

Under 30s/Students: £15/£10*

Groups For every 9 tickets get the 10th free

Access: £16

*Under 30s and Student concession seats are available in row A (£15) & Band C (£10)

Downstairs

NO ONE WILL TELL ME HOW TO START A REVOLUTION

By Luke Barnes

Directed by Anna Ledwich

21 September – 21 October

THE FIRM

By Roy Williams
Directed by Denis Lawson

27 October – 2 December