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Digital Theatre+ partners with Sonia Friedman Productions to Provide Education Platform for Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya

From Thursday 25th November, Schools, universities, and educational institutions all over the world will be able to see Conor McPherson’s stunning adaptation of Chekov’s masterpiece Uncle Vanya thanks to a partnership with producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Digital Theatre+, Digital Theatre’s education platform. 

The original run of Sonia Friedman Production’s sold-out stage production of Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the first lockdown Sonia Friedman Productions and Angelica Films, in association with BBC Arts, commissioned a film of the stage production, which received critical acclaim and went onto win the Theatre Award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2021.

Now this award-winning filmwill be made available alongside a suite of educational resources produced by Digital Theatre+ designed to support teachers and educators in inspiring and engaging students studying the play. 

The collaboration between Digital Theatre + and Sonia Friedman Productions follows earlier successful collaborations on Funny Girl (with Sky) and Ghosts (with the Almeida) and is among a number of partnerships Digital Theatre+ has with theatres and producers worldwide to capture and share original content with the education sector. Educational support packages are tailored to fit each production and can include including biographies, documentaries, essays, lectures, workshops, study guides, and interviews alongside other learning aids. 

The two-hour film of Uncle Vanya is directed by Olivier Award-nominated Ian Rickson and features a superlative cast including Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Rosalind Eleazar, Aimee Lou Wood, Anna Calder-Marshall, Dearbhla Molloy, Peter Wight and Roger Allam, and is directed for screen by Ross MacGibbon.

Sonia Friedman said: “One of the most important roles of a producer is to develop audiences of the future and to do everything possible to make theatre accessible for all. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously at Sonia Friedman Productions, and something we seek to promote across all our work. As such, we’re thrilled to partner with Digital Theatre Plus to make our award-winning production of Uncle Vanya available to students across the UK. 

The original run of Ian Rickson’s critically acclaimed, sold out, truly mesmeric production was cut short in March 2020 due to the pandemic. In a new version by Conor McPherson, this production had such a profound impact on audiences, that once we realised it would be impossible to bring the company back together to complete our run, we knew we had to find a way to preserve this work. So, together with our partners at Angelica Films and the BBC we were able, in the midst of strict lockdown, to produce a film of this work specifically for cinema and television.

In the empty Harold Pinter Theatre in July 2020, we were the first company to reunite to create and commit work to film. The production lost none of its beauty and power on screen, with Ross MacGibbon’s screen direction enabling Ian’s and my vision so perfectly. It was such a moment of hope in a very bleak time for the theatre industry, and I believe set a new standard for filmed theatre.”

Ian Rickson, director of the celebrated work said ‘I am delighted that Digital Theatre are able to share ‘Uncle Vanya’ on its education platform. It’s one of the great plays, which speaks to every generation in a deeply profound way. Its concerns about inheritance, equality and the environment feel so contemporary, and the performances are richly alive.’

Neelay Patel, CEO of Digital Theatre+ said “We are delighted that Digital Theatre+ will provide access to this powerful new adaptation of Uncle Vanya to students around the world. Chekhov is a key playwright on many global curricula, and Conor McPherson’s adaptation of this seminal play will be an important addition to our educational platform.”.

Digital Theatre+ is a global educational platform focused on the teaching of English and Performing Arts. The company works with all levels of education from age 11 up to Higher Education. Digital Theatre+ partners with the theatre industry, sharing captured and original content globally with educators and students from companies such as Frantic Assembly, Royal Shakespeare Company, Gecko, Complicite and the Lincoln Centre. DT+ works with theatre professionals to support their commitment to education, and to help instil a passion for theatre in young people that will help create the theatre goers of tomorrow.

Cast announced for DREAMGIRLS UK Tour

L-R Natalie Kassanga, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Paige Peddie. Dreamgirls UK © Matt Crockett
L-R Natalie Kassanga, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Paige Peddie. Dreamgirls UK © Matt Crockett
L-R Natalie Kassanga, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Paige Peddie. Dreamgirls UK © Matt Crockett

Sonia Friedman Productions has revealed the full cast of the dazzling, multi award-winning musical Dreamgirls, as it embarks on its first ever tour of the UK, opening at the Liverpool Empire Theatre this December before visiting cities right across the country throughout 2022 and into 2023.

Dreamgirls will star Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie White with Sharlene Hector performing the iconic role at certain performances, Natalie Kassanga as Deena Jones, Paige Peddie as Lorrell Robinson, Dom Hartley-Harris as Curtis Taylor Jr., Brandon Lee Sears as Jimmy Early, Shem Omari James as C.C. White, Jo Servi as Marty and Brianna Ogunbawo as Michelle Morris.

The full company will include Shonah Buwu, Harvey Ebbage, Olivia Foster-Browne, Kellianna Jay, Ryan Kayode, Holly Liburd, Ross Meagrow, Samuel Nicholas, Nicole Nyarambi, Ilana Richardson and Josh Singleton.

Featuring the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’, this sensational production ofDreamgirlshad its critically acclaimed West End première in December 2016 at London’s Savoy Theatre, 35 years on from opening on Broadway.

Meet the Dreams – Effie, Lorrell and Deena – three talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s, a revolutionary time in American music history. Join the three friends as they embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit.

A finalist on ITV’s The Voice in 2019Nicole Raquel Dennis wowed viewers and judges at her blind audition, performing Dreamgirls mega-hit ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ alongside team mentor Jennifer Hudson. Her London stage credits include Alana Beck in the original West End cast of Dear Evan Hansen (BBTA winner – Best Supporting Actress in a Musical), the original West End cast of Waitress (Adelphi Theatre), The Book Of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre) and Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre).

Soul, Gospel and Blues artist Sharlene Hector has been the singer withGrammy® Award-winning electronic music duo Basement Jaxx as well as providing backing vocals for Sam Sparro, Natasha Bedingfield, Boy George and Mary J. Blige.

Natalie Kassanga’sWest End theatre credits include playing Diana Ross in Motown: The Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre), Young Nala in Disney’s The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre), Dear Evan Hansen (Noel Coward Theatre) and Oliver! (Theatre Royal Drury Lane).

A graduate from the Royal Academy of Music, Paige Peddie was the ‘Unexpected Star’ on BBC1’s Michael McIntyre’s Big Show on Christmas Day, 2018.  Theatre credits include Disney’s The Lion King (UK Tour), Equus and Enron (Nottingham Playhouse).

Dom Hartley-Harris was in the original West End cast of Bat Out of Hell the Musical (Dominion Theatre) with further credits including Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre) and Tiger Bay (Wales Millennium Centre).

American actor, dancer and singer Brandon Lee Sears’ recent London theatre credits include Come From Away (Phoenix Theatre), Motown: The Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre), Heathers (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and On The Town (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).

A recent graduate of Arts Educational School, London, Shem Omari James’s theatre credits include The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Leicester Curve) and Songs For A New World (Vaudeville Theatre).

Jo Servi’s theatre credits include The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Dirty Dancing (UK Tour), Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre), City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Ragtime (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Jersey Boys (Prince Edward Theatre), The Enchanted Pig (Royal Opera House, UK Tour and in New York), Stephen Fry’s Cinderella (The Old Vic Theatre), Guys And Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre), Oh! What A Night (UK & European Tour), Ragtime (Piccadilly Theatre), Whistle Down The Wind (UK National Tour), My One & Only (Piccadilly Theatre) Disney’s The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre) and Once On This Island, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, A Life of Galileo and A Christmas Carol (Birmingham Repertory Theatre).

Brianna Ogunbawo’stheatre credits include The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre),Motown: The Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre), Disney’s The Lion King (UK tour) and Hairspray (UK tour).

This award-winning production of Dreamgirls is Directed and Choreographed by Olivier® and Tony® Award winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Mean Girls, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!), with Set and Costume Design by Tim Hatley, Lighting Design by Hugh Vanstone, Sound Design by Richard Brooker, Hair Design by Josh Marquette, Music Supervision by Nick Finlow and Casting by Natalie Gallacher CDG for Pippa Ailion Casting CDG. The Associate Director is Alison Pollard, the Associate Choreographer is Sean Parkins and the Resident Director is Ricardo Coke-Thomas.

With Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen and Music by Henry Krieger, with Additional Material by Willie Reale, the original Broadway production of Dreamgirlswas Directed by Michael Bennett who Co-Choreographed the show with Michael Peters. The production opened in 1981 and subsequently won six Tony® Awards with the original cast recording winning two Grammy® Awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.

’The 2006 motion picture adaptation of Dreamgirlsstarred Jennifer Hudson (winning her an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress), Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

The Original London Cast Recording of hit West End musical Dreamgirls is available via Sony Masterworks Broadway.The UK and Ireland tour of Dreamgirls is produced by Sonia Friedman ProductionsGreenleaf Productions, Fakston Productions, Rupert Gavin/Mallory Factor, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Griffin Dohr in association with 1001 Nights Productions, Steven Rivellino.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Resumes Performances in North America in Newly Staged, One Show Magical Adventure

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the world’s most award-winning play, will return to North America as a newly staged, one show magical experience. Performances of this world premiere theatrical event begin at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre in New York on November 16, 2021, and at the Curran in San Francisco on January 11, 2022. The Canadian premiere in Toronto will begin performances in May 2022 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Broadway tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, July 12, 2021. San Francisco tickets go on sale Wednesday, July 21. For more information and to sign up for pre-sale access, please visit HarryPotterOnStage.com. On sale dates for the Canadian premiere are to be announced.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child originally cast a spell over the world as an epic two-part event. Now, the show has been boldly restaged as one singular performance by the award-winning creative team for its return to North America. With just one ticket in hand, audiences will enjoy all the adventure the continuation of Harry’s story entails in one magical afternoon or evening.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the first Harry Potter story to be presented on stage, has been seen by over 4.5 million people worldwide and holds a record 60 major honors, with nine Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Play and six Tony Awards including Best New Play.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play by Jack Thorne, directed by John Tiffany.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child features movement by Steven Hoggett, set by Christine Jones, costumes by Katrina Lindsay, music & arrangements by Imogen Heap, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Gareth Fry, illusions & magic by Jamie Harrison, music supervision & arrangements by Martin Lowe. US Casting by Jim Carnahan, CSA.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions.

Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender said: “We are delighted to announce that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which since its triumphant opening in New York and San Francisco has seen record breaking numbers of people spellbound by the wizardry on stage, will be returning in North America in a new, re-imagined version that audiences can see in one afternoon or evening.

This is an unprecedented moment in theatre history. After being closed for more than 15 months, almost all of Broadway and theatre across North America will return before the end of the year. Given the challenges of remounting and running a two-part show in the US on the scale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the commercial challenges faced by the theatre and tourism industries emerging from the global shutdowns, we are excited to be able to move forward with a new version of the play that allows audiences to enjoy the complete Cursed Child adventure in one sitting eight times a week.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is already the longest-running two-part play in Broadway history. The new version of the play has the potential to thrill audiences for many years to come.

Though the global shutdowns were awful and devastating on so many levels, they afforded us, as theatre-makers, the rare opportunity to reunite with our award-winning creative team who fully embraced the challenge of creating a new single part version of the play that would be a compelling theatrical experience in its own right and stand shoulder to shoulder with the original two-part version. It’s been the most wonderful process of rediscovery to bring this new spectacle to life while still delivering all the amazing magic, illusions, stagecraft, and storytelling set around the same powerful narrative, that has enthralled audiences and critics alike.

Bringing Harry Potter to the stage to cast its spell on audiences in North America has been an extraordinary journey. We want to thank our creative team, associates, cast, crew, and all those who have tirelessly worked on the production for their unflagging support and commitment as we embark on the next leg of our journey.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a story about community, family, and the power of friendship, a story that reminds us that together and united we have the strength to overcome all odds. It’s a story of our time and we can’t wait to share this new version of our play with our amazing audiences in North America. We’ve missed you enormously and look forward to welcoming you back to Hogwarts. That’s the magic of the theatre—It’s every bit as alive as the portraits hanging on Hogwarts’ walls. Because for all of us… it’s time to believe in magic again.”

Jack Thorne and John Tiffany said: “We are incredibly excited to be returning to the US with this reimagined Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We’ve been working hard on this new version throughout lockdown and it’s been a joyous process of rediscovery. It has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes and we have been inspired by the entire creative team every step of the way.”

J.K. Rowling said: “Collaborating on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been one of the great joys of my professional life. While no one would wish for what has happened over the last year, it has given Jack, John and the first-class creatives who first breathed life into the production the opportunity to revisit the play, and to find a new way to frame our story — with amazing illusions and some exquisite new staging— all the while keeping our original story intact.  I’m so proud to be associated with this new, reimagined version, and to be able to welcome back audiences to the Lyric, Curran and Ed Mirvish theatres.”

Productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Melbourne, Australia (now playing), London’s West End (currently scheduled for October 14, 2021) and Hamburg, Germany (returning for previews on December 1, 2021) will continue in the original two-part format.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is one of the most defining pop culture events of the decade” (Forbes).

19 years after Harry, Ron and Hermione saved the wizarding world, they’re back on a most extraordinary new adventure – this time, joined by a brave new generation that has only just arrived at the legendary Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Prepare for spectacular spells, a mind-blowing race through time, and an epic battle to stop mysterious forces, all while the future hangs in the balance.

The entire theatre has been transformed to immerse you in this one-of-a-kind experience packed with “thrilling theatricality and pulse-pounding storytelling” (The Hollywood Reporter). It will leave you “audibly wowed, cheering and gasping” (The Telegraph), as “visions of pure enchantment send shivers down your spine” (Rolling Stone). “You’ll be wondering ‘how’d they do that?’ for days to come” (People Magazine).

Do hold on to the edge of your seat, as this spellbinding spectacular will whisk you back to Hogwarts and beyond your imagination for a one-of-a-kind journey that is everything you hoped for and more.

Health and safety protocols for the theater going experience will be announced closer to the start of performances. We will be adjusting to all industry and government guidance to keep our audiences and company safe.

Re:emerge season coming to the Harold Pinter Theatre, produced by Sonia Friedman Productions

J’OUVERT

Following a year of extraordinary challenges, and as British theatre begins to find ways to re-emerge from the devastating impact of the enforced shutdown, SFP today announces a season of new plays for a new world. The RE:EMERGE season will create a space for vital, new voices and fresh talent in the West End and beyond, working alongside some of the industry’s greatest theatremakers and artists The extraordinary collection of plays curated by SFP alongside Ian Rickson – who becomes Artistic Director for the season – tackles urgent issues integral to rebuilding our society, including structural inequality, climate change and the economics of truth in an internet age. Supported by Arts Council EnglandRE:EMERGE will support the theatre-makers of the future, provide vital work for the freelance community and celebrate the live experience as we begin to build back to the full reopening of British Theatre.

The RE:EMERGE season intends to open to socially-distanced audiences from May to help
re-open and re-energise our theatres, and will be staged in a Covid safe environment following government advice and adhering to social distancing guidelines; and in line with Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s See It Safely campaign. Alongside the season, SFP also intends for the comedy The Comeback to return to the West End following its enforced shutdown in December.

Announced today as part SFP’s RE:EMERGE season so far is:

·         Amy Berryman’s WALDEN, directed by Ian Rickson, starring Gemma ArtertonFehinti Balogun and Lydia Wilson.

·         Yasmin Joseph’s J’OUVERT, directed by Rebekah Murrell, starring Annice BoparaiGabrielle BrooksSapphire Joy and Zuyane Russell.

·         Joseph Charlton’s ANNA X, directed by Daniel Raggett, starring Emma Corrin and Nabhaan Rizwan.       

Tickets from £10, with over 600 tickets per week under £15

SFP plans to open the season in May in line with the government’s roadmap. Further information regarding performance and on-sale dates will be released in the coming weeks, and audiences can sign up today at www.sfp-reemergeseason.co.uk to be the first to hear more news. Tickets for the previews will be priced from £5, and from £10 for the runs post press night, with a top price ticket of £49.50. There will be 600 tickets each week priced under £15.

There is intention for all three productions to be filmed for a future broadcast life, with J’OUVERT being shown on BBC Four as part ofBBC Lights Up – a season of plays for BBC radio and TV, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and continuing BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

Sonia Friedman said today, After what has been such a devastating year for so many it fills me with the greatest joy and hope to announce RE:EMERGE, an SFP Season of bold, new work for a bold, new world as we begin to build back to the full reopening of British Theatre.

“Yasmin Joseph’s J’OUVERT, first seen at Theatre503 and currently in rehearsals to be filmed for the BBC, reveals Notting Hill Carnival through the eyes of two best friends navigating the joys and dangers of young Black womanhood in 21st Century Britain. Whilst Amy Berryman’s WALDEN depicts the intensity of familial love and loss as the climate emergency encroaches ever closer, Joseph Charlton’s ANNA X delves deep into the corruption of truth and reality through the all-consuming lies we tell the world about ourselves over social media. These extraordinary plays, each one with a distinct and powerful voice, will thrill, move and delight audiences.

“We hope that the RE:EMERGE Season will help the immense effort being made across our industry to reopen our theatres, with the most exciting, new talent working in tandem with some of our greatest theatre makers and artists. And this is just the beginning – we have so much more to come.

“We are deeply thankful for the commitment of all the extraordinary group of writers, actors, directors, designers, stage managers, technicians and theatre makers who have agreed to be a part of this season – just when theatre needs them most. I am also incredibly grateful to Ian Rickson, one of my closest and most dedicated long-time collaborators, for his vision and co-curation of this Season. And my thanks must also extend to my incredibly committed team, who have worked so passionately under very challenging circumstances to help bring this season of work together. I would also like to thank Arts Council England, whose support has made RE:EMERGE possible. After an incredibly difficult year, I cannot wait for us all to ‘re-emerge’ from our homes and return to the theatre, where together we can be entertained, enthralled, challenged and dazzled by these astonishing works.”

Twitter: @SFP_London #ReEmergeSFP

Instagram: @SFPOfficial #ReEmergeSFP

Facebook: /SoniaFriedmanProductions #ReEmergeSFP