Punchdrunk’s Artistic Director Felix Barrett has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

“The visionary who reinvented theatre.” The Observer

Felix Barrett has today been awarded an MBE for his work in the theatre industry. Artistic pioneer Barrett founded Punchdrunk with colleague Pete Higgin in 2000. Since then the company has become renowned around the world for its ground-breaking approach to making theatre, winning numerous awards and thousands of loyal fans in the process and becoming a byword for all that is different from traditional theatre. The company’s practice has influenced a generation of theatre makers with its style of productions and practice.

Felix Barrett said: “It is really an honour to be given an MBE and it comes as a complete surprise. For years Punchdrunk has worked right at the very edges of the theatre sector, so to be acknowledged by the establishment is truly humbling. There are an incredible amount of people who have been with me all along the way, creating vivid and adventurous worlds for audiences to explore, and this award is something I feel I absolutely share with them”.

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DREAMGIRLS announces further casting

DREAMGIRLS
Savoy Theatre, London
Performances from 19 November
Dreamgirlswestend.com

  • Further casting announced to join star Amber Riley
  • Reduced price previews tickets from Saturday 19 November to Tuesday 13 December across all price bands including 100 tickets per performance at £15

Sonia Friedman Productions is delighted to announce further casting for the long-awaited UK premiere of Dreamgirls which will have preview performances at the Savoy Theatre from 19 November and Opening Night on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

As previously confirmed, American actress and singer Amber Riley will star as Effie White. Ms Riley will be joined by Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell Robinson and Liisi LaFontaine as Deena Jones, making up the soulful singing trio ‘The Dreams’. Nicholas Bailey will play Marty, Adam J. Bernard will play Jimmy Early, Tyrone Huntley will play C.C. White and Joe Aaron Reid will play Curtis Taylor Jr, with Ruth Brown and Karen Mav alternating the role of Effie White at performances when Amber Riley is not scheduled to perform.

The cast of Dreamgirls will also include Jocasta Almgill, Callum Aylott, Hugo Batista, Samara Casteallo, Chloe Chambers, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joelle Dyson, Kimmy Edwards, Candace Furbert, Nathan Graham, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Gabriel Mokake, Abiola Ogunbiyi, Sean Parkins, Kirk Patterson, Ryan Reid, Rohan Richards, Noel Samuels, Durone Stokes and Tosh Wanogho-Maud.

Sonia Friedman, Producer: “It was wonderful to announce our star Amber Riley a few weeks ago. Now, having seen more than 1000 performers audition over many months, I am thrilled that we can reveal most of our Dreamgirls company. It is 35 years since its Broadway premiere, so to finally be the ones to bring it to London with our world-class creative team and incredibly talented, exciting young cast is an honour and privilege. I believe we now have the perfect team to create a sensational production that I hope will be well worth the wait.”

Amber Riley is best known for her role as ‘Mercedes Jones’ in the Golden Globe Award-winning musical comedy, Glee. Additional television appearances include playing ‘Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North’ in the NBC live performance of the musical, The Wiz and competing inDancing with the Stars, which she won in 2013. Riley’s numerous theatre credits include Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the Woods and Mystery on the Docks with the Los Angeles Opera. In November 2012, she made her New York stage debut to rave reviews in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade.

Ibinabo Jack’s stage credits include Legally Blonde The Musical (Savoy Theatre), The Color Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory), Little Shop of Horrors (Manchester Royal Exchange) and The Bodyguard on UK Tour.

Liisi LaFontaine was a finalist on The Winner Is (NBC) as part of a singing duo The LaFontaines with her mother Nita Whitaker. Her stage credits include Ti’Moune in Once on This island(LACHSA production), Mimi in Rent (Skylight theater) and Trisha in Dog Sees God (Skylight Theater). Her first EP titled Golden is now available on iTunes.

Nicholas Bailey is best known for playing Dr Anthony Trueman in EastEnders (BBC One) and Carl in The Archers (BBC Radio 4). Stage credits include The Duke of Burgundy in Richard Eyre’s production of King Lear (National Theatre), Gabriel in Breakfast with Mugabe (Theatre Royal Bath), Julius Caesar (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Dreaming (Manchester Royal Exchange/West End). In 2006, Bailey was a contestant on ITV’s Soapstar Superstar.

Adam J. Bernard can currently be seen in Thriller Live! (UK Tour), having previously starred in the West End production. Further theatre credits include I Can’t Sing (London Palladium), Hairspray The Musical (Asia Tour). Television and film credits Star Wars VII, Drifters (Channel 4), Random (Channel 4), Holby City (BBC), Legends (TNT).

Tyrone Huntley’s stage credits include The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales), Porgy and Bess(Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Sister Act (UK Tour), Hairspray (Leicester Curve), Aladdin(King’s Lynn Corn Exchange). He was most recently seen as Gator in Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre).

Joe Aaron Reid is currently starring as Benny in In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre). Broadway theatre credits include If/Then, Chicago, Curtains, Ghost, Catch Me If You Can and Finian’s Rainbow. He also appeared in the NBC drama Smash for two seasons.

Ruth Brown found fame in the first series of BBC’s The Voice, reaching the semi-finals under the mentorship of Sir Tom Jones. She has since gone on to release her first UK single ‘P.O.P.’ and is soon to debut her new album, Letters of Truth.

Karen Mav was recently a contestant on the 2015 series of ITV’s The X Factor where she wowed TV audiences and judges with her take on Etta James’s ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and the Whitney Houston version of the classic ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Full information on performance schedules and further casting will be updated on the official website Dreamgirlswestend.com

As previously announced, Dreamgirls will be Directed and Choreographed by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten!), with Set Design by Tim Hatley, Costume Design by Gregg Barnes, Lighting Design byHugh Vanstone, Sound Design by Richard Brooker and Hair Design by Josh Marquette. The Musical Supervisor will be Nick Finlow, the Orchestrator will be Harold Wheeler, with Additional Material by Willie Reale.

Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history. Dreamgirls charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous, and features the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’ .

With Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen and Music by Henry Krieger, the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett opened in 1981 and subsequently won six Tony Awards®. The original cast recording won two Grammy awards for Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.’ In 2006 it was adapted into an Oscar winning motion picture starring Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

Amber Riley and Liisi LaFontaine are appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.

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WEST END STAR JOANNA STRAND AND FRIENDS TO PERFORM AT LONDON HIPPODROME CASINO ON 14 JULY 2016, IN MAD TRUST FUNDRAISER

JOANNA STRAND AND FRIENDS will perform at The Hippodrome Casino in the heart of London’s West End on Thursday 14 July at 11.00pm, in a fundraising cabaret supporting the work of The Make A Difference Trust (MAD Trust). Joanna will be joined by headline guests Gary Williams and Jacqui Tate, alongside an exciting line-up of West End performers.

Other special guest performers will include Rodney Earl Clarke, Katherine Evans, Pamela Hay, Monique Henry, Theo Jameson, Lydia Jenkins, Ria Jones, John Mclarnon, Nathaniel Morrison, Nigel Richards, Thomas Humphreys, Colette Lennon, David Shannon, the West End Gospel Choir, Worbey And Farrell, with a few more surprises on the night (line-up subject to change).

Alongside her career on London’s West End stage (The Phantom of the Opera, Master Class, Jekyll and Hyde), Joanna Strand enjoys success as a cabaret performer and regularly performs her shows at The Crazy Coqs, Pheasantry, Pizza Express Dean Street and New York venues including Feinstein’s, 54 Below, The Carlyle and Metropolitan Room.

Gary Williams enjoyed his West End debut, recreating the role of Frank Sinatra for 150 performances of The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas at The Theatre Royal Haymarket. He has been a regular guest of the BBC Concert Orchestra for ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’ and had the honour of performing for The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. He performs regularly at The Crazy Coqs and many other London cabaret venues.

Jacqueline Tate’s theatre credits include the Broadway transfer of South Pacific, Avenue Q (West End & National Tour), The Phantom of the Opera (West End) and world tours of Evita and My Fair Lady. Recently, she has appeared at the Crazy Coqs, The Pheasantry and Pizza Express Dean Street with her dueting partner Joanna Strand.

Tickets are now on sale, priced at £16.50 and £22.50 (including booking fees), and can be booked through The Make A Difference Trust here: www.madtrust.seetickets.com . Doors open at 10.30pm, the event starts at 11.00pm. Ticket holders must be aged 18 or over.

All profits will go to The Make A Difference Trust.  With a legacy of over 25 years, the MAD Trust, trading as TheatreMAD, brings together the theatre industry and its supporters to raise funds for HIV and AIDS projects that raise awareness, and provide care, support and education in the United Kingdom and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Trust also supports those in the entertainment industry facing hardship as a result of a long term illness.

To find out more about The Make A Difference Trust, visit: http://www.madtrust.org.uk/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/madtrust

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madtrust.org.uk/

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Odd Shaped Balls Review

The Old Red Lion 31 May – 26 June.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Newly promoted to the Rugby Premiership, Chiltern Colts and their star fly half James Hall suddenly become newsworthy. So when he is outed by an ex-boyfriend, the media frenzy and reactions of his team mates have a devastating impact on James. Within days, the fans even have a chant for him – much to his bemusement. Odd Shaped Balls follows James as he (and the club) tries to come to terms with his sexuality and deals with the fear that he may not be able to play his beloved rugby again.

Richard D. Sheridan’s writing is sincere and emotional, and Matthew Marrs plays all the characters with great skill and commitment. The fact that there are so many characters does dilute the impact of the play somewhat, especially in the scene where James tells his girlfriend about his gay relationship. Marrs has such an expressive face, but we only see quick flickers of reactions as he switches between the characters of Claire and James, where each character deserves longer moments.

The laughs are provided by the characters in the rugby club, and from personal experience, these are extremely well observed. Marrs gets to wheel out his accents as well-meaning coach Aidan, macho captain Matt and Jonesy, the Welshman with a long list of VERY inappropriate questions and suggestions (a good attempt that went down well with the people from East of Offa’s Dyke, but tended to lapse into Bristolian at times).

The awkward reactions of James’ parents were written beautifully, and James’ bewildered responses were realistic and effective, often followed by a moment of quiet, but all too often the pace is relentless and the play proceeds like a runaway train, where a slower, more even pace was needed.

Marrs manages the character transitions brilliantly, and manages to make you care about James. The fact that the play doesn’t wrap things up neatly is appropriate as sport attempts to become more diverse and accepting, hindered by press and social media fascination with the personal lives of stars, and there are no easy solutions.

The finely detailed set is a triumph and the lighting design is well thought out and subtle. It just seemed that this one-man play might be made richer and more well rounded with one or two extra cast members.

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The Commitments direct from West End

DIRECT FROM LONDON’S WEST END

THE COMMITMENTS

DUBLIN & UK TOUR – STARTING OCTOBER 2016

CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT

 

KEVIN KENNEDY TO STAR AS JIMMY’S DA

BRIAN GILLIGAN TO STAR AS DECO

ANDREW LINNIE TO STAR AS JIMMY RABBITTE


Tickets on sale now

 

“The Commitments is the musical we’ve been waiting for.

So good, our critic almost weeps”

The Sunday Times ★★★★★

 

“This hugely enjoyable show touches the sublime. Wonderfully funny”

Daily Telegraph ★★★★

 

“Unstoppable fun. A big-hearted, big-night out”

The Times ★★★★

 

Coronation Street legend, Kevin Kennedy, is to star as Jimmy’s Da in the UK tour of the critically acclaimed musical The Commitments written by Roddy Doyle, starting in October 2016.

 

The UK tour will also feature many of the cast from the record breaking show’s two year run at London’s Palace Theatre, including Brian Gilligan who will reprise his starring role of Deco and Andrew Linnie who will star as Jimmy Rabbitte.

 

Thirty years since The Commitments first burst from the pages of Roddy Doyles best-selling novel, the world’s hardest working soul band will be going on a seven month UK tour. The smash hit musical will begin at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 3 October, before opening in Dublin for the first time ever. It will then travel to theatres across the UK until May 2017.

Roddy Doyle said: “The Commitments were born in Dublin, moved to London, and will soon be hopping all over the shop. I wrote the novel – invented the characters – in 1986, and it thrills me to think that they will be entertaining audiences throughout the UK and Ireland 30 years later, in 2016.”

 

Kevin Kennedy won the hearts of the nation when he starred as Curly Watts in Coronation Street. Since leaving Coronation Street, Kevin has regularly appeared in theatre productions including: Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and We Will Rock You.

 

Kevin said: “After working abroad, I am delighted to be returning to such an iconic musical as The Commitments. It is a pleasure to travel around the country playing to enthusiastic audiences who love this show.”

 

Brian Gilligan originally played the role of drummer Billy ‘The Animal’ Mooney in the West End production.  Several months later, he was overheard singing to himself in the stairwell at The Palace Theatre and blew away the director, leading to him being cast as Deco a few weeks later.

 

Brian said: “I am very fortunate to be returning to a role and show that I really love. It’s gonna be exciting bringing the show back home to Dublin.”

 

Andrew Linnie was originally part of the West End production’s ensemble, but saved the day when the actor playing Jimmy Rabbitte damaged his knee and both of the understudies were unavailable. Despite not having performed the role before on stage, Andrew stepped up to the plate to take over that the role that evening, and received a standing ovation after just a few hours rehearsals. He then carried on playing the role for the rest of the week and got great reviews for his performances.  After performing the role in the West End, Andrew will now play Jimmy Rabbitte on the UK tour.

 

Andrew said: “I made my West End debut in this show and couldn’t be more delighted to be returning to play the wonderful music again.”

 

The Commitmentettes will be played by sisters Amy Penston, (Natalie) and Leah Penston (Imelda), while Christina Tedders (Bernie) will complete the talented trio.

 

Amy said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to be back with The Commitments playing Natalie. I’m so looking forward to working with some of the old gang and rock the stage together again. Not only that, but it’s a dream come true to back on stage with my wonderful sister, Leah. We’re just elated to be working together again!”

 

Leah said: “I’m so thrilled to be joining the cast of The Commitments, playing the role of Irish icon Imelda Quirke, which was originally portrayed in the film by Angeline Ball. I have some pretty big shoes to fill! The fact that I get to perform alongside my amazing big sis makes it all the more special. It’s going to be a tour to remember!” 

 

Christina said: “I have loved The Commitments since I was a little girl – my nightly renditions of ‘Mustang Sally’ were both the joy and bane of my parent’s evenings! I’m totally thrilled to be playing the role of Bernie.”

 

Also appearing on the tour, having appeared in the West End production, are Peter Mooney (Derek), Padraig Dooney (Dean), Sam Fordham (Mickah) and John Currivan (Billy). They will be joined by Rhys Whitfield (James), Alex McMorran (Joey), and Christian James (Outspan).

 

The Commitments received huge critical acclaim following the September 2013 World Premiere in London.  Opening to rave reviews, it was quickly hailed as a smash hit musical sensation.  The Sunday Times awarded the show five stars, saying “The Commitments is the musical we’ve been waiting for. So good, our critic almost weeps”. The Daily Telegraph and The Times both gave the show four stars and the Daily Mail said the show was “a fabulous fun night out”.

 

The show has been adapted for the stage by Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, from his original novel. Directed by C Jay Ranger, The Commitments is packed with more than 20 classic soul songs performed live on stage including: Night Train, Try A Little Tenderness, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Reach Out, Uptight, Knock On Wood, I Can’t Turn You Loose and more!

 

The Commitments tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced. The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesiser band – the opening scene has them playing, but ignored, in a shop window – who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.

 

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a number of wannabes before finalising the new line up who he names The Commitments. The humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, and proceed through early rehearsals for their first gig. Just as they improve and begin to get a name for themselves they combust. The backing singers are all getting off with the middle aged horn playing legend, the singer has entered Eurovision, the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career.

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Grimy, dark Welsh debut comedy play opens at the Old Red Lion

Velvet Trumpet present:

UGLY LOVELY
June 28th – July 16th 2016, Old Red Lion

South London-based theatre company Velvet Trumpet present the grimy, dark, bittersweet and, above all, funny debut play of excitable Welsh playwright Ffion Jones: Ugly Lovely.

‘But where else can you go bird? All we’ve got is Swansea. You haven’t got nowhere else.’

It’s Shell’s birthday and cradling her only gift, won at the local arcade, she’s finally woken up to smell the vodka. Between nights out with her only friend and chats with her Nan’s ashes, she tries to unravel what she wants from life in the pretty sh*tty city of Swansea.

“Velvet Trumpet are the masters of municipal dark comedy. An unlikely genre but they totally nail it” Stewart Pringle (Time Out/Exeunt)

Velvet Trumpet have a passion for intimate new comedies which delve into the humour and pathos of unexplored occupations and unexamined lives. They also think the way the theatre industry is run is a bit w**k. “We’re the theatre company that hates theatre. We don’t come from money so we understand the importance of championing the work of people who wouldn’t normally get something on stage and aim to produce work that’s relatable, honest and genuinely funny.  And we never compromise. It all comes down to high standards and a strong DIY ethic…”

“(Velvet Trumpet) aren’t afraid to be inventive and push against the squeeze on funding and challenge the social status quo that seems to have theatre by its vice-like, privileged grip” (View From The Upper Circle on Money Womb)

Velvet Trumpet curate sell-out new writing night ‘Soggy Brass’ at Southwark Playhouse – where Ugly Lovely originated. Having garnered a cult following they now offer a Royalty Card – much like a loyalty card but REGAL – priced at £15 and available online. The card allows their regular punters to support the company whilst getting the best concessions on Velvet Trumpet productions for life. They’re shiny, they’re plastic and they’re individually numbered.

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Weird Sisters Theatre Company, Airswimming at Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham 21-25 June

Airswimming
By Charlotte Jones

 

“Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be … 50 years for you my dear, 50 years for me”
Sent to the Asylum for daring to be different

 

Picture this: It’s 1924. You are a glamorous 21 year old choosing an outfit for your coming out ball at the Dorchester. A shimmering, silver, halter necked dress perhaps? All those silly, past “misdemeanors” forgotten. Until… Daddy calls the Doctor and you find yourself at St Dymphna’s Hospital for the ‘Criminally Insane’ for the next 50 years with only “unhinged, cigar smoking, monomaniac transsexual” Dora Kitson for company.

 

Weird Sisters Theatre Company present Airswimming, a poignant two-hander by Charlotte Jones at the Bread & Roses Pub Theatre, Clapham from 21 to 25 June 2016 at 8pm. Having enjoyed critical success, including a nomination for the Broadway Baby Bobby award, at the Brighton Fringe, the Weird Sisters are delighted to be appearing in Clapham before taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

 

Set in a psychiatric hospital, Charlotte Jones’ debut play is inspired by real events. Director Stephanie Goodfellow comments: “Despite the tragedy of the women’s circumstances, this is by no means a bleak play. There is a wonderful warmth and wacky humour in the unlikely friendship between Dora, a cross-dressing self­-confessed deviant, and Persephone, a young unmarried mother”.

 

Founded in 2014, the Guildford-based, all-female theatre company thrives on work that juxtapose dark themes with absurd humour. “There’s a poignant moment in the play when Dora threatens to trepan herself with a Moulinex hand whisk” says Stephanie, “while comical, it is underlined with great sadness, as we realise that if these women weren’t mad when they were committed, they certainly are when they leave.”

 

This production features original music written by composer and sound designer Nigel Dams.“Nigel has a background in rock music which is the perfect foil to the sweetness of the Doris Day songs which are featured in the show” says Stephanie. As with the music, there is a thrilling energy to this play in which two worlds collide and nothing is quite what it seems.
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AGATHA CHRISTIE’S THE MOUSETRAP WILL BEGIN THE FINAL LEG OF ITS RECORD-BREAKING 60TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR THIS AUTUMN

Agatha Christie’s beloved murder mystery The Mousetrap will begin the final leg of its record-breaking, and first ever, UK tour at Glasgow Theatre Royal on 12th September. The tour will then visit Swindon, Cardiff, Wakefield, Perth, Ayr, Edinburgh, Guildford, Birmingham, Tunbridge Wells, Isle of Wight, Derry, Oxford, Carlisle and Aberystwyth.

The Mousetrap originally opened at Nottingham Theatre Royal in 1952 starring Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim before embarking on its current record-breaking West End run. The production has been the world’s longest running stage production at its London home since breaking the record in 1958 and recently celebrated its 26,000th performance. The 60th Anniversary – and first ever – UK tour of this beloved murder mystery has now played over 1,100 performances up and down the country and been seen by over 1 million people, having broken box office records in many of its tour venues.

The Autumn 2016 tour will star Anna Andresen (Mollie Ralston), Nick Barclay (Giles Ralston),Tony Boncza (Major Metcalf), Lewis Collier (Sgt Trotter), Gregory Cox (Mr Paravicini), Amy Downham (Miss Casewell) and Oliver Gully (Christopher Wren) and Sarah Whitlock (Mrs Boyle).

Anna Andresen trained at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, her previous theatre credits include The Frozen Scream (Birmingham Hippodrome/Wales Millennium Centre),The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre)  Above & Beyond, You Once Said Yes (LLLR) Into The Sunlit Uplands (Theatre 80.St Marks, NYC)  Texting From Dachau (Red Bean Studio, NYC) Running On Empty, Lisa Is Looking Into The Mirror (Bennett Media Studio, NYC) , Red Admiral (Soho Studio)The Bald Prima Donna (The Etc) and Crossed Wires (Theatre 503). In addition to her work on stage Anna has also appeared in Fortitude, Miss Marple, Silent Witness and Wire in the Blood.

Nick Barclay trained at Mountview Theatre School and has appeared in more than 240 professional stage productions. Nick’s previous theatre credits include Stone Cold Murder, Dial M for Murder, The 39 Steps, The Titfield Thunderbolt, Strangers on a Train, Dead Funny, Romantic Comedy, Dangerous Corner, House Guest and Kind Hearts and Coronets. He is also a veteran of numerous repertory seasons in places such as Wolverhampton, Bournemouth, Crewe and Sidmouth. He has also written and performed for the world famous NewsRevue in London and directed various productions up and down the country. Nick has toured internationally with productions such as Stones in His Pockets, Art, Private Lives and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Tony Boncza originally trained as a journalist before joining The National Youth Theatre and then the Central School of Speech and Drama. Tony’s recent stage appearances have included roles in Great Britain (National Theatre), the South East Asian tour of The Mousetrap, Yes Prime Minister (West End & UK Tour), The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound (both Chichester Festival Theatre). Tony also played Sgt Trotter in the West End’s production of The Mousetrap25 years ago. In addition to his work on stage, Tony has appeared on screen in The Royals, The Sarah Jane Adventures and EastEnders.

Lewis Collier’s previous stage credits include Classic Ghost Stories (UK Tour), The Three Lions(St James Theatre & Tour), Macbeth (Erasmus International Theatre Co. Italy) and Two Noble Kinsmen (Round Pebble Theatre Co.). Lewis has also appeared on film in Checkmate.

Gregory Cox trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and has had an illustrious career on stage beginning with Oliver! (West End) and Little Lies which starred John Mills (Wyndham’s Theatre and Toronto). Gregory’s other theatre work includes Muswell Hill (Park Theatre),Arcadia (UK Tour), Don Juan (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith), The Picture of Dorian Gray(Windsor and UK tour), Tale of Two Cities (Sheffield Crucible), Hamlet (Rose Theatre), The Devils (Union Theatre) and The Seagull (UK tour). Gregory was also Mr Paravicini in the 2013 cast of The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre, London.

Amy Downham trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has appeared on stage in Generation Y (MF Productions), Twelfth Night (Attic Theatre Company), Out of Love(White Bear Theatre), Daisy Pulls it Off (Watermill Theatre) and Every Brilliant Thing(Nabokov). Amy has also appeared on TV in Doctors, EastEnders and Hollyoaks.

Oliver Gully trained at the Guildhall School of Acting; his previous stage credits include Hamlet(The Courtyard Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK Tour) and Timebomb (The White Bear).

Sarah Whitlock reprises the role of Mrs Boyle, having previously appeared in both the Far East tour and West End productions of The Mousetrap. Her other stage credits include No Sex Please We’re British (Strand Theatre) and Curse of the Werewolf (The Union Theatre), alongside UK Tours of Blithe Spirit, Keeping Up Appearances, Not Now Darling and Dry Rot. Her television appearances have included Filth, The Mary Whitehouse Story, Upstairs Downstairs, The Miss Marple Series and The Bill. She appears regularly in pantomime productions, with credits including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington and Sleeping Beauty. She has also appeared at the Up The Creek comedy club performing her own stand-up routine.

Mousetrap Productions has also licensed 60 productions of The Mousetrap worldwide to mark the 60th year, and many of these have also broken records, from Cape Town to Philadelphia, Singapore to Sydney. During this period, the world’s longest running show will have been seen in every continent with professional productions in Australia, China, Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Scandinavia, Venezuela, and across the United States and Canada.

The Mousetrap continues its open-ended run at St. Martin’s Theatre, London. The UK tour is now booking until December 2016

www.mousetrapontour.com

SPRING 2016 TOUR DATES

31 May – 4 June
The Courtyard, Hereford
www.courtyard.org.uk
Box Office: 01432 340 555

6 – 11 June
Derby Theatre
www.derbytheatre.co.uk
Box Office: 01332 59 39 39

13 – 18 June
King’s Lynn Corn Exchange
www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk
Box Office: 01553 764864

20 – 25 June
Salisbury Playhouse
www.salisburyplayhouse.com
Box Office: 01722 320 333

27 June – 2 July
Opera House Manchester
www.atgtickets.com/venues/opera-house-manchester
Box Office: 0844 871 3018

4 – 9 July
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre
Box Office: 0844 871 7607

18 – 23 July
Princess Theatre Torquay
www.atgtickets.com/venues/princess-theatre-torquay
Box Office: 0844 871 3023

25 – 30 July
Venue Cymru Llandudno
www.venuecymru.co.uk
Box Office: 01492 872000

1 – 6 August
Jersey Opera House
www.jerseyoperahouse.co.uk
Box Office: (01534) 511 115.

8 – 13 August
Bristol Hippodrome
www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome
Box Office: 0844 871 3012

AUTUMN 2016 TOUR DATES

12 – 17 September
Glasgow Theatre Royal
www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-glasgow
Box Office: 0844 871 7647

19 – 24 September
Swindon Wyvern
www.swindontheatres.co.uk
Box Office: 01793 524481

26 September – 1 October
Cardiff New Theatre
www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
Box Office: 029 2087 8889

3 – 8 October
Wakefield Theatre Royal
www.theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk
Box Office: 01924 211 311

10 – 13 October
Perth Horsecross
www.horsecross.co.uk
Box Office: 01738 621031

14-15 October
Ayr Gaiety Theatre
www.ayrgaiety.co.uk
Box Office: 01292 288235

17 – 22 October
Edinburgh Kings
www.edtheatres.com/kings
Box Office: 0131 529 6000

24 – 29 October
Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk
Box Office: 01483 440000
ON SALE SOON

31 October – 5 November
Birmingham Alexandra Theatre
www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham
Box Office: 0844 871 3011

7 – 12 November
Tunbridge Wells Assembly Rooms
www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk
Box Office: 01892 530613

14 – 19 November
Shanklin Theatre, Isle of Wight
www.shanklintheatre.com
Box Office: 01983 868000

21 – 26 November
Derry Millennium Forum
www.millenniumforum.co.uk
Box Office: 028 7126 4455

28 – 30 November
Oxford New Theatre
www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-theatre-oxford
Box Office: 0844 871 3020

1 – 3 December
Carlisle Sands Centre
www.thesandscentre.co.uk
Box Office: 01228 633766

5 – 10 December
Aberystwyth Arts Centre
www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk
Box Office: 01970 62 32 32

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The Hollywood Special Effects Show to tour this summer

THE HOLLYWOOD SPECIAL EFFECTS SHOW 

RETURNS – BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER

TOURING 3 JUNE UNTIL 15 AUGUST 2016

A DANGEROUSLY EXPLOSIVE FAMILY TREAT!

The Hollywood Special Effects Show, the interactive science and special effects family show, is back! Bigger and better than ever, the dangerously explosive school holiday treat will tour from 3 June until 15 August 2016.  

2016 tour venues include The Lowry, Salford (3-4 June), Grand Theatre, Swansea (26-27 July), Baths Hall, Scunthorpe (30-31 July), Artrix, Bromsgrove (2-3 August), The Hawth, Crawley (5 August), Rose Theatre, Kingston (6-7 August), Theatre Royal, Windsor (8-10 August), Charter Theatre, Preston (12 August), Opera House, Buxton (14 August) and Churchill Theatre, Bromley (15 August). For further details of all tour dates visit www.hollywoodspecialeffects.co.uk  

Audiences will be able to get closer to the action than ever before as this interactive and explosive family show goes behind the scenes of many favourite blockbusters films to discover the science and secrets of creating movie magic.  Live on stage, the show’s team will give a revealing insight into the world of special effects, taking families on an exciting journey as they feel the heat of an onstage inferno, marvel at gruesome sci-fi monsters, are blown away by apocalyptic weather and hold on tight through huge explosions!

The Hollywood Special Effects Show uses more pyrotechnics than any other UK touring theatre show, and for some sequences, the audience is protected by bullet proof glass placed across the stage.  The animatronic dinosaur that appears in the show was built by specialists in Japan, and the large air cannon used in the finale of the show is capable of firing a projectile over a whopping 500 metres. 

The show was selected as one of two productions to appear at the 2016 Big Bang Fair, the largest science fair in the UK, which was visited by over 70,000 people in four days.

For a peek behind the scenes in the Hollywood Special Effects Show trailer, and details of how to book, visit www.hollywoodspecialeffects.co.uk This family show is suitable for ages 6+.

Follow the show on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HollywoodSFXS and Facebook: www.facebook.com/hollywoodsfxs

This production is presented by Nick Brooke Ltd & RIP Productions. 

LISTINGS 

2016 – All venues now on sale

3rd June         7pm The Lowry, Salford 0843 208 6000 www.thelowry.com  

4th June         2pm & 7pm The Lowry, Salford 0843 208 6000 www.thelowry.com   

26th July         7pm Grand Theatre, Swansea01792 475715 www.swansea.gov.uk/SFX2016

27th July         2pm & 7pm Grand Theatre, Swansea 01792 475715 www.swansea.gov.uk/SFX2016

30th July         7pm Baths Hall, Scunthorpe 0844 854 2776 www.bathshall.co.uk  

31st July 2pm & 7pm Baths Hall, Scunthorpe 0844 854 2776 www.bathshall.co.uk  

2nd August 6pm Artrix, Bromsgrove 01527 577330 www.artrix.co.uk  

3rd August 2pm & 7pm Artrix, Bromsgrove 01527 577330 www.artrix.co.uk  

5th August 7pm The Hawth, Crawley 01293 553636 www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk  

6th August 7pm Rose Theatre, Kingston 020 8174 0090 www.rosetheatrekingston.org  

7th August 2pm & 7pm Rose Theatre, Kingston 020 8174 0090 www.rosetheatrekingston.org  

8th August 7pm  Theatre Royal, Windsor 01753 853 888 www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk   

9th August 2pm & 7pm Theatre Royal, Windsor 01753 853 888 www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk  

10th August 2pm & 7pm Theatre Royal, Windsor 01753 853 888     www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk  

12th August 2.30pm Charter Theatre, Preston 01772 80 44 44 www.prestonguildhall.com  

14th August 7pm Opera House, Buxton 01298 72190 www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk  

15th August 2.30pm & 7pm Churchill Theatre, Bromley 020 3285 6000 www.churchilltheatre.co.uk 

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Norma Jeane the Musical Review

LOST Theatre May 30 – June 18.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Opening on what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, Norma Jeane the Musical takes a look at the demons that haunted her.

Opening with Marilyn Monroe being institutionalised after her split from Arthur Miller and critical mauling of her latest film, a bedraggled Norma Jeane (Sarah Rose Denton) sits forlornly on the bed as Marilyn Monroe (Joanne Clifton) enters in full song and dance mode, with accompanying troupe of male dancers. The difference between Norma Jeane and her polished, glamourous alter ego provides most of the comedy in the show, with Marilyn’s image conscious posturing and posing in iconic outfits in stark contrast to Norma Jeane’s slip wearing mess. Denton is impressive as Norma Jeane, managing to portray the unravelling mind without going over the top. Over the top is a perfect description for Clifton’s performance as Marilyn, and it is joyous. She has great comic timing, uses all the familiar mannerisms and brings her dance training into every gesture.

Throughout the show Marilyn is visited by ghosts and voices from her past, the most intimidating and brutally honest being Uncle Marion (Joseph Bader – he could read the phone book and make it enthralling with that voice). The abandonments, religious upbringing and first marriage are explored, along with the father fixation, and Norma is constantly reminded of her bad blood and the madness that runs in her family. Not a happy story, or ending, but the show is not all doom and gloom, providing lots of bittersweet laughs. Erica Martin is wonderful as Grace, Monroe’s religious mother, veering from gentle supportive words to vehement biblical condemnation of Hollywood in the blink of an eye, and Ruth Betteridge as young Norma Jeane (yes, there are three of her on stage by the end) is sweet and flirtatious, with a delightful soaring voice.

The structure of the show feels like a review, with each new voice having a song and cheesy choreography to show an issue from Marilyn’s early life. The use of multiple composers adds to this effect, with no coherent style running through the show. This may be intentional to emphasise the fracturing of Monroe’s mind and character, but it does make you wonder what the show could have been if Anton Mullan had written the whole thing – all the best songs were his, including the fantastic finale. The sound balance needs some tinkering, with some vocals being drowned out by the music and the dancers’ footsteps in certain numbers.

Norma Jeane the Musical takes a look at the darker side of Monroe’s life with a light affectionate touch and is full of energy and great performances. Well worth a look.

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