National Student Drama Festival 2019 to take over Leicester

Groups of passionate young theatre makers are gearing up to take over Curve and venues across Leicester city as part of National Student Drama Festival (NSDF).

From Sat 13 Apr to Fri 19 Apr, over 400 people between the ages of 16 and 25 will come to the city to showcase their work, take part in workshops and classes and try something new. Curve, one of the UK’s leading producing theatres and a registered charity with a commitment to developing new artistic talent will lead the way as a festival host, with City Hall, Leicester Cathedral, Leicester Adult Education Centre, Mercure Grand Hotel, 2Funky Music Café and the Sue Townsend Theatre are also welcoming participants across the week.

The NSDF is an annual festival for young people who are passionate about making, watching and talking about theatre. This year NSDF has one of the best line ups in its 60 year history. Award-winning theatre company Slung Low will be in-residence for the entire festival. NSDF has assembled an incredible array of artists to lead masterclasses: Harriet Walter, Joan Iyiola, Simon Stephens, April De Angelis, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Jon Brittain, Roy Alexander Weise, James Phillips, Chris Thorpe, Lucy Ellinson, Ishy Din and Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director of Curve.

Alongside this, many of the UK’s most important theatre companies are coming to NSDF to offer workshops including the RSC, Young Vic, Royal Exchange, Manchester; Nottingham Playhouse, National Theatre of Wales, National Youth Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Good Chance, Soho Theatre, Sisters Grimm, Headlong, Rash Dash, Middle Child, Barrel Organ, Fuel, Paines Plough, Lung, New Diorama, Bristol Old Vic, Mountview and Equity.

Speaking about the festival, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“All of us at Curve strive to create theatre that is provocative, entertaining and inspiring. Young people, new work and collaboration sit at the heart of our organisation and we are proud Leicester is hosting the prestigious NSDF. We are thrilled to be working with this terrific team and would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of the students and practitioners from across the UK, who are our guests for what promises to be an incredible season.

“We are looking forward to seeing the work across the festival and know it will inspire our Leicester audiences and all who work in our theatre.”

Leicester City Council is supporting the National Student Drama Festival. Mike Dalzell, the council’s director of culture, tourism and inward investment said:

“Leicester is home to a thriving arts and cultural scene, and with one of the youngest populations in the UK is the perfect city to host this exciting festival.

“We are delighted that our city will be home for a week to some of the best up and coming talent in the theatre world, as well as the many leading directors, producers and artists who will be working with them. We hope they enjoy their experience of Curve and Leicester, and look forward to welcoming them on many return visits in the future.”

NSDF Guest Director James Phillips said:

“We’re thrilled to be bringing NSDF to Leicester, especially with one of the biggest and broadest workshop programmes in NSDF’s sixty-year history. It’s very exciting to be able to welcome artists like Harriet Walter, Joan Iyiola, April De Angelis, Timberlake Wertenbaker and so many others to the Festival this year, alongside the best student theatre in the UK. It’s going to be an incredible week.”

Selected shows to be performed at NSDF 19 include How To Save a Rock, a devised show with zero carbon footprint from Pigfoot Theatre in Oxford, Gary Owen’s Killology, a production by Durham University’s Fourth Wall Theatre and Things We Do Not Know, a piece of spoken-word theatre created by Process Theatre in association with Bristol-based charity One25.

Wayne Jackson, a member of Manchester’s Arden School of Theatre, will be presenting a Gogglebox inspired piece called Are You Still Watching? At the festival, in collaboration with Eggs Collective. He said:

“We are incredibly excited to perform at Curve for NSDF ’19; our show is vibrant and different and will fit really well within this innovative space.  Also, this is the first time that The Arden has been represented at NSDF and we are thrilled to be able to perform at such a beautiful theatre.”

For more information on NSDF 19, visit

To find out more about Curve, visit


Casting announced  for the UK Premiere of On Your Feet!

Christie Prades 

Jamie Wilson and Gavin Kalin have announced casting for the UK premiere of ON YOUR FEET! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, which will play a limited season at the London Coliseum from Friday 14 June – Saturday 31 August 2019. Prior to the London run there will be seven performances at Curve, Leicester from 3 – 8 June 2019.

Christie Prades will play ‘Gloria Estefan’, George Ioannides ‘Emilio Estefan’ and at certain performances the role of ‘Gloria Estefan’ will be played by Philippa Stefani. Madalena Albertowill play ‘Gloria Fajardo’, Karen Mann ‘Consuelo’.

Christie Prades played the role of ‘Gloria Estefan’ in “On Your Feet!” on Broadway and can currently be seen in the same role on the US tour of the show. Christie’s other credits include ‘Vanessa’ in “In the Heights”and “West Side Story”.

George Ioannides has appeared in the West End productions of “Annie” and “Mamma Mia!” and was most recently seen as ‘Eduardo Cortez’ in “An Officer and a Gentleman” at Curve, Leicester and on national tour.

Philippa Stefani played ‘Mimi’ in the recent national tour of “Rent”. She has also played ‘Daniela’ in “In The Heights” at King’s Cross Theatre. Her other theatre credits include the original London casts of “Wicked” at the Apollo Victoria and “I Can’t Sing” and “Sister Act”, both at the London Palladium. She has also appeared in “High Society at the Old Vic and ”Ghost” at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Madalena Alberto’s West End credits include the title role in “Evita” at the Dominion Theatre and ‘Grizabella’ in “Cats” at the London Palladium. She has also appeared as ‘Fantine’ in the 25th Anniversary tour of “Les Miserables” and was most recently seen as ‘Giulietta’ in “Aspects of Love” at the Southwark Playhouse.

Karen Mann’s many credits include ‘Golde’ in the national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” opposite Paul Michael Glaser, ‘Marley’ in “Scrooge” at Curve and ‘Mother Superior’ in “Sister Act” also at Curve and on national tour. Her extensive work at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury includes ‘Gladys’ in “Copacabana”, ‘Viv’ in “Spend Spend Spend” and ‘Mrs Lovett in “Sweeney Todd”, which transferred to both the New Ambassadors Theatre and Trafalgar Studios.

Completing the cast will be Hollie Cassar, Francisco Del Solar, Katie Dunsden, Eduardo Enrikez, Laura Friedrich Tejero, Denzel Giskus, Francesca Lara Gordon, Yonly Leyva Desdunes, Elia Lo Tauro, Martin McCarthy, Alicia Mencía, Ciro Lourencio Meulens, Carl Patrick, Clayton Rosa, Julia Ruiz Fernandez, Shanna Michelle Slaap, Dawnita Smith, Frank van Hengel, Despina Violari and Alain Zambrana Borges.

Klaudia Gjergji, Holly McDonagh, Emily Perra will share the role of ‘Little Gloria’ and Santiago Huertas Ruiz, Jonathan Naranjo, Alejandro Puentes Motato will share the role ofNayib/Young Emilio/Jeremy.

 ON YOUR FEET! is the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria and charts their journey from its origins in Cuba, onto the streets of Miami and finally to international superstardom and features some of the most iconic pops songs of the era, including ‘Rhythm is Gonna Get You’, ‘Conga’, ‘Get On Your Feet’, ‘Don’t Want To Lose You’ and ‘1-2-3’.

Gloria Estefan has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is the most successful Latin crossover performer in the history of pop music.  In addition to her 38 number 1 hits across the Billboard charts, Gloria recorded the Oscar-nominated song ‘Music of My Heart’ and has received numerous honours and awards over the course of her illustrious career. Emilio Estefan is a founding member of the pioneering Miami Sound Machine, who created a brand new Latin crossover sound – fusing infectious Cuban rhythms with American pop and disco. Combined, they have won a staggering 26 Grammy awards.

The Tony Award® nominated show ran on Broadway for two years, playing for over 750 performances. It is currently on a two year US tour, whilst the production in Holland played to sell out business and standing ovations for a season in 2017/18.

 ON YOUR FEET! is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), with choreography by Olivier Award-winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman).

ON YOUR FEET! is produced by Jamie Wilson and Gavin Kalin with Colin Ingram and Peter Kane for InTheatre, Marc David Levine and Curve.


 ON YOUR FEET! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan

 London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ES

Friday 14 June – Saturday 31 August 2019

Box Office: 0207 845 9300

Performances: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Matinees – Thursdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm, Sundays at 3.00pm

Curve Leicester, Rutland Street, Leicester, LE1 1SB

Monday 3 June – Saturday 8 June 2019

Box Office: 0116 242 3595

Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Matinee: Saturday at 2.15pm


Where next for The Color Purple?

The Color Purple
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Brexit has been delayed, the far-right is on the rise & global warming continues.

But fear not. An actress with extreme views on LGBTQ+ folk has just been cast as a lesbian in The Color Purple. Repeat. An actress with extreme views on LGBTQ+ folk has just been cast as a lesbian in The Color Purple.

At the time of writing this, Oluwaseyi Omooba will be leading the cast in the role of Celie in the upcoming Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome production.

Her theatre credits include Hadestown (National Theatre); Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors (Regent’s Park); Martha in Spring Awakening (Hope Mill Theatre) and Tilly in Junkyard (Bristol Old Vic and UK Tour).

Omooba has faced allegations of  fanatic, offensive views in recent days after an old Facebook status emerged online – that read: “I do not believe homosexuality is right” the social media post in question was posted in 2015.

But how Omooba herself, and the co-producers of Oprah Winfrey’s Broadway musical reconcile their thoughts on the evils of homosexuality with the lead playing a lesbian is a whole new level of crazy.

Because, for all the talk of inclusivity, it is quite obvious, that this is pretty low-grade stuff. The arts should lead the way with tolerance and respect. These kind of views are not welcome in my sector.

It’s a bridge too far.

This kind of scandal has become ubiquitous in the recent years: an offensive social media post is uncovered & it normally ends with a public apology, and often a firing.

As a result, Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippordrome responded rapidly to the post, which is currently spreading through theatre Twitter like wildfire.

“The views expressed in the historic social media post by a member of Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s The Color Purple cast in no way reflect those held by either of our theatres,” was the message rolled out on both Curve & Hippodrome’s social media handles. It continues, “We will be looking into the matter and will issue a full response in due course.”

Fair enough, but let us hope that Omooba does the right thing: apologises pronto and exits the production. It’s hard then to think of anyone less suited to a role in this musical or, in fact, any musical.

Where next for The Color Purple?

Omooba has remained silent on the topic, which is probably best. Because the more you delve into this one the more alarming it becomes.

Earlier this week, her father Ade Omooba a pastor who co-founded Christian Concern – was awarded an MBE for his work in voluntary service.

Hang on… WHAT?

Indeed, Christian Concern are a group that advocates for gay conversion therapy; the practice also known as “ex-gay therapy” or reparative therapy promotes the insane idea that being gay is something that should, and can, be “cured”.

Jesus wept.

The Colour Purple is a musical that ‘celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.’

I am glad that Curve and The Hippodrome are taking it seriously and perhaps reconsidering the wisdom of this casting.

Then we will see how much they really believe in what they’re selling.