CAST ANNOUNCED FOR LET IT BE

LET IT BE RETURNS WITH UK PREMIERE OF NEW SHOW

Cast announcement coincides with 48th anniversary

of Let It Be album release

 

Brand new Part II imagines The Beatles’ reunion concert that never was – a rare treat for fans

 

 

Let It Be: A Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles returns to the UK for a national tour starting in Summer 2018, and comes to the Opera House, Manchester from 22nd – 27th October.

 

Today, the talented cast who will portray the Fab Four in the show have been revealed, coinciding with the 48th anniversary of Let It Be the album which was released on 8 May 1970.

 

Let It Be was the 12th and final studio album released by The Beatles, almost a month after the band split and went their separate ways. The album release also came shortly before the film of the same title opened in cinemas.

 

And now, Let It Be: A Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles returns to the UK with a brand new second half of the popular show, giving audiences a rare glimpse of how the band may have continued as a four-piece. Fans will see The Beatles reunite for one night only, set a decade after the group went their separate ways.

 

A cast of talented musicians will take to stages across the country as the Fab Four, wowing audiences with their effortless and indistinguishable portrayal as John, Paul, George and Ringo. The performers have already toured the show to some of the biggest stages in the world including Broadway.

 

The cast are revealed as Michael Gagliano who will play John Lennon, Emanuele Angeletti as Paul McCartney, John Brosnan as George Harrison and Ben Cullingworth as Ringo Starr. The band will be joined on stage by musical director Michael Bramwell on keyboards.

 

Producer Jeff Parry comments: “I grew up listening to The Beatles, they sparked a passion for music which, for me personally, has gone on to become so much more – a career, and a way of life. Their talent, hunger and incredible ambition inspired me to follow my dreams too. The Beatles were so much more than a group. And it’s unbelievable to think that Let It Be was released 48 years ago. It still sounds as current as it did back in 1970.

 

“Our strong cast of Michael, Emanuele, John and Ben, along with musical director Michael, are going to give audiences a show they have never experienced before – The Beatles’ concert that never was. Developing the show with the new Part II has been a complete labour of love and I am so excited to now introduce this brand new element to UK fans.”

 

Let It Be has firmly established itself as a successful West End and international touring show. And now the smash-hit stage show has been updated and is back on tour, featuring a brand new Let It Be Part II – which has never been seen before in the UK.

 

The show is a celebration of the phenomenal music of The Beatles, and has already been seen by more than two million people worldwide, including an acclaimed run in the West End and two UK tours.

 

Let It Be features many of the Fab Four’s best loved songs including A Hard Days Night, Day Tripper, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Twist and Shout, I Want To Hold Your Hand and Strawberry Fields Forever.

 

Beatles fans are invited to join John, Paul, George and Ringo for a great night of live music. Enjoy the early beginnings at the word famous Cavern Club, through to the height of Beatlemania.

For more information, or to book, visit www.atgtickets.com/Manchester.

Sean Holmes announces his departure from the Lyric Hammersmith

Sean Holmes announces his departure from the Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric Hammersmith today announces that Sean Holmes will step down in October 2018, after almost a decade as Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive. Sean joined the Lyric in January 2009.

During Holmes’ tenure at the Lyric, he has directed 22 shows including the Olivier Award Winning Blasted, which received the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award. His ground-breaking Secret Theatre project reinvented the traditional approaches to making theatre as well as the theatre-going experience. One of the most prominent achievements during his joint tenure with the then Executive Director Jessica Hepburn, was the planning, fundraising and completion of a major capital development project, completed in 2015. Holmes’ production of Bugsy Malone – the first stage version in over a decade – reopened the theatre to great critical and audience acclaim. Diversity and access for young people has remained a priority – both the audience demographic and through the Lyric’s outreach work – which has increased dramatically under his and current Executive Director, Sian Alexander’s joint leadership. Sean Holmes’ final directing projects at the Lyric wereThe Plough and The Stars – a revival of his 2016 production to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising and a remount of A Midsummer Night’s Dream currently on a major national tour.

Holmes’ productions for the Lyric include: The Plough and The Stars (also at Abbey Theatre Dublin and a Irish/US Tour), The SeagullTerrorShopping and F**kingBugsy MaloneA Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK Tour/Manchester Royal Exchange/Brisbane Festival/Dublin International Festival), Herons, Secret Theatre Shows 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7, Cinderella, Desire Under the Elms, Morning, Have I None, Saved, Blasted (winner Olivier Award 2011, Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky, Ghost Stories (also Duke of York’s/Liverpool Playhouse/Panasonic Theatre, Toronto/Arts Theatre), Three Sisters and Comedians.

Holmes’ distinctive programming choices have presented an extraordinary scope of work – both experimental and accessible. Having introduced Pantomime to the Lyric, it is now firmly established as a local tradition and celebrating 10 years in 2018, bringing a fresh inventive approach to the traditional form. Alongside Bugsy Malone, The Seagull and Saved, Holmes has placed such shows as Philip Venables’ operatic setting of Sarah Kane’s final play 4.48 PsychosisThings I Know to be True from Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company Australia, and the massively influential international co-production Three Kingdoms.

Ticket prices have remained accessible, and the longstanding programme of Free First Nights has now welcomed more than 50,000 people who live and work in Hammersmith and Fulham to the Lyric for free, and often for their first theatre experience.

The Lyric’s capital development project began in 2012, and the theatre fully reopened in 2015 revealing a contemporary and inviting front of house makeover, as well as impressive state of the art facilities in the new Reuben Foundation Wing. In the three years since opening, these new facilities (including a dance studio, music practice rooms, a recording studio, film & TV studio, editing suite, 50 seat cinema, a digital playspace and a sensory space for disabled children) have enhanced the scale of the Lyric’s theatre productions, whilst also dramatically increasing the range and volume of work with young people from all backgrounds. Notably, the Evolution Festival, established in 2016, which showcases the talent and creativity of Londoners aged 18-25 and has led to ongoing development of some of these productions. During his tenure at the Lyric, Sean Holmes has invested considerably in the careers of young directors, writers and actors from a wide range of backgrounds, through mentoring and proactive support.

The end of Holmes’ tenure at the Lyric will see a 3-month refurbishment of the theatre’s 550 seat Victorian Matcham auditorium and the modernisation of the Studio theatre, beginning in June 2018.

Sean Holmes says: “I’ve been incredibly lucky over the last nine years to have been the Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith. During that time, it has been a home to the weird, the wonderful and the unexpected. The youthful exuberance of Bugsy Malone, the game changing attack of Three Kingdoms, the populist magic of Ghost Stories, Filter’s derangedDream, the fierce blast of Blasted, our beloved Panto and the unique experiment of Secret Theatre are just some of what we’ve produced. There have been successes and failures – some glorious – but the Lyric has always remained defiantly itself.  A local, London, national, international theatre, proud of its Hammersmith roots and open to all. It has been my privilege in that time to work with a host of committed, passionate and creative collaborators and I want to thank them all – staff and artists, board members and associates, theatres and companies, supporters and funders and most especially the young people whose energy and sense of ownership makes the Lyric what it is – warm, inclusive, welcoming, provocative and messy. I’m going to miss it very much, but I feel it’s time for a new generation to take over the helm and look forward with great anticipation and excitement to seeing a new artistic vision illuminating the theatre I love.”

Sian Alexander, Executive Director says: “It’s been a joy and a privilege to co-lead the Lyric with Sean in the final three years of his tenure. We will truly miss him and his unique spirit and energy. He leaves the Lyric in rude health and I look forward to continuing to build on all we have achieved.”

Lisa Burger, Chair of the Board says: “From the Olivier Award Winning Blasted to Bugsy Malone and from The Plough and the Stars to Secret Theatre, Sean has directed an extraordinary range of work for the Lyric.  Diversity and work with and for children and young people has been a focus during his tenure and this has increased in impact and reach following the completion of the Reuben Foundation Wing in 2015.  On behalf of the Board I want to express huge gratitude for an incredible nine and a half years and wish him the very best as he returns to a freelance directing career.”

The search for Holmes’ successor will begin at the end of May.

Cast announcement for Hairspray The Musical

HAIRSPRAY THE MUSICAL

UK TOUR

Directed by Paul Kerryson

Choreographed by Drew McOnie

NEW CAST ANNOUNCED FOR UK TOUR OF HAIRSPRAY

New casting has today been announced for the UK Tour of Hairspray as it continues to travel the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland. Having entertained big, bold and beautiful audiences across the country to critical and public acclaim since opening last summer, Hairspray will travel to Llandudno, Canterbury, Southend, Wycombe Swan, Cheltenham, Stoke, Oxford, Newcastle, Eastbourne, Dublin, York, Swansea and Bournemouth.

 

Joining the cast will be Raquel Jones (The Bodyguard, Jesus Christ Superstar) who will be returning to the role of Lil’ Inez having played the part for two years during the West End run of the production at Shaftsbury Theatre. Shak Gabbidon-Williams will be making his professional debut as Seaweed and Dan Partridge (Mama Mia!, Sleeping Beauty)  takes over the role of Link Larkin from Edward Chitticks.

 

Established musical theatre performer Graham MacDuff will now play the role of Wilbur Turnblad alongside Gemma Lawson as Amber Von Tussle and Rosie O’Hare now in the leading role of Tracy Turnblad.

 

Brenda Edwards will continue in the role of Motormouth Maybelle alongside Jon Tsouras (A Chorus Line) as Corny Collins. Matt Rixon (The LadykillersAround the World in 80 Days) as Edna Turnblad, Gina Murray (Chicago and Full Monty) as Velma Von Tussle, Annalise Liard-Bailey as Penny Pingleton.

Further cast includes: Adam Price, Lucinda Lawrence, Marion Fagbemi, Brianna Ogunbawo, Amana Jones, Emma Warren, Kirsty Ingram, Courtney Brogan Smalley, Ross Clifton, Ben Darcy, Brian O’Muiri, Ziggy Tyler Taylor, Abz Kareem, Reece Richards, Shay Barclay, Abiola Efunshile and Lindsay McAllister.

Full dates and tickets are available at www.hairsprayuktour.com/tour-dates.

Choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie with direction from Paul Kerryson.

It’s Baltimore 1962, where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.

 

Hairspray is a musical based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Divine and Ricki Lake by cult filmmaker John Waters. With music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray originally opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 2002 and subsequently won eight Tony Awards. The production opened in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2007 and won four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Proving to be an international success, Hairspray has also opened in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Dubai. Following the musical’s phenomenal success on stage, a film of the musical was released in 2007 which starred John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden.

Kes Review

Jack Studio Theatre – until 19 May

Reviewed by Claire Roderick

5*****

Barry Hines’ book A Kestrel for a Knave, and Ken Loach’s film of the book Kes, have a special place in British culture. Even the inclusion of the book in the English curriculum hasn’t stopped the love for this story of a down-trodden young boy finding hope, purpose and love from raising and training a kestrel. Robert Alan Evans’ stage adaptation, with a cast of only two, manages to blend the very best aspects of the novel and the film, and in director Kate Bannister’s expert hands, this play is a mini-masterpiece. Although still raw and real, Bannister brings a softer touch to the story without shying away from the nonchalant cruelty of the characters.

I was a little worried that my opinions may have been coloured by my attachment to the book and the film, but my friend from New Zealand, who had never heard of Kes (and whose comment “It’s a play about training a kestrel? Riiiiiiiiight…” summed up her attitude before we entered the theatre) sat riveted throughout and turned to me with a gasp and tears in her eyes as she realised what was going to happen to poor Kes.

The play starts with a man (Rob Pomfret) bouncing violently around memories and places from his youth, before Billy Kasper (Simon Stallard) is seen, cradling the fledgling Kes. Billy’s life in the Northern mining town is full of hardship and violence, from being punched by his older half-brother Jud as he wakes up each morning to the bullying from boys and staff at school. With his single mum letting what little money she has run through her fingers and cadging Billy’s wages from his paper round, and Jud only interested in him when he needs a bet put on, Billy’s life develops meaning as he learns how to train Kes.

Karl Swinyard’s set is beautifully evocative, with the Caspers’ kitchen probably reminding everyone in the audience of their gran’s home and a few lockers and slammable desk bringing back the horror of school. Ben Jacobs’ lighting design provides a sense of movement and time, and the luscious, nostalgic tones when Billy is with his lure and Kes are straight out of the Hovis ads. Kes is never seen, but Jack Barton’s sound design has the audience ducking at times as the sound of spinning lures and flapping wings soar around the theatre.

Simon Stallard is phenomenal as Billy, personifying the perpetual victim, head down, trying not to be noticed, and effortlessly becoming a beacon of energy as he captures the joy and potential within the boy as he revels in his freedom, trust and responsibility with Kes. Rob Pomfret gives an astonishing performance as the protagonists in Billy’s story. He transforms into Billy’s mum, Jud, and schoolteachers with consummate ease, using different jackets to signal each character, although he honestly didn’t need them as each character was so clear in their identity and mannerisms. As the older Billy, he will melt the hardest of hearts as he tries to stop his younger self making the same mistakes and describing their devastating consequences. I could watch these two actors all day – a pair of simply brilliant performances.

Get a ticket while you can. You’re in for a treat – Kes is a lovingly crafted production that is hard-hitting, hopeful and will make your heart soar.

Grotty Review

The Bunker – until 26 May

Reviewed by Claire Roderick

3***

Rigby’s misadventures on the London lesbian scene, or the desert, as she witheringly describes it, are hilariously depressing. Writer Izzy Tennyson plays Rigby full of ticks that are both endearing and irritating and slowly reveals the reasons for the main characters’ idiosyncrasies.

Rigby narrates and sets the scene, interrupting the action with bitingly honest comments that she can’t voice to the women around her. Finding it easier to be with older women, Rigby’s relationship with Toad (Rebekah Hinds), slightly overweight, lover of lesbian bingo and devoted to her cat, ends and Rigby starts seeing Toad’s ex-fiancée, Witch (Grace Chiltern), a tattoo artist who gets turned on by her lovers’ shame. When Rigby realises who Witch is, she doesn’t stop seeing her, even though she knows the situation is “grotty”.

Tennyson’s clever writing sees Rigby verbally attacking lesbian tribalism and the pecking order in the gay scene, as the lesbians gather in a cellar listening to the pounding music of the “gay boys” above. Lots of serious points are made in scattershot style as Rigby tries to explain herself. The story gets darker, and the laughs sparser as we discover more about Witch and Rigby. Rigby’s recollections of a psych review doctor (Anita-Joy Uwajeh) branding her as “suicidal, but not suicidal enough”, followed by the late introduction of Rigby’s sick mother (Clare Gollop) explain more about Rigby’s needs in an almost silent scene than the last hour of her constant talking. Seemingly throwaway lines that could easily have been missed in Tennyson’s initial rapid-fire delivery are revisited, making the glimmer of hope for a healthy future and relationship as the lights fade more meaningful.

Director Hannah Hauer-King keeps the movement fluid and makes the most of the available space, stopping this wordy play from becoming stale, and the talented cast, led by the astonishing Tennyson, perform with total commitment. There are a few moments that lose energy, but overall, Grotty is a sharp, funny, slightly disturbing play that audiences of any gender or sexuality will enjoy.

Keepy Uppy Review

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds – Saturday 5th May 2018

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood

3.5***

Tutti Frutti, a national touring theatre company, focuses on productions specifically for children and families and is reputed for their creative imagination. A lot of their work is based on traditional stories but also contemporary ones. Their latest production, Keepy Uppy, directed by Wendy Harris, has been brought to the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds for two performances and also marks the beginning of a UK Tour.

Written by Evan Placey, Keepy Uppy is about Joey (Danny Childs) who is football mad and his life revolves around the beautiful game. The passion is also shared by his mother (Eden Dominique) and their daily routine includes an imaginary game from getting up to going to school. Football fever is not affected when both Joey and his Mum face setbacks along the way and that they are determined as ever to reach the cup final.

With the FIFA World Cup happening next month it is a perfect opportunity to bring this exciting production to many children and families. The spirit of the beautiful game begins before when there is a considerable number of children sat at the front, dressed in their football gear, and waiting for “kick-off”.

Joey and his Mum share the wonders of football to the audience with imaginative and passionate energy; slick movements including the use of a football to co-ordinate such moves and poetry and catchy rhythmic narration which is set to live music by Dom Sales. One must admire the versatile and creative staging, courtesy of Kate Bunce. The space and lighting is used effectively with the props for a variety of things and how the use of chalk is drawn to create different ones. The fast-paced interaction between the mother and son is good and it successfully keeps the children, particularly those sat on the floor at the front, engaged and entertained.

There is a carnival atmosphere with music and dance during the latter half of the performance with flags representing the many countries that play the game. This would include countries that have qualified to play at the forthcoming World Cup. Keepy Uppy with an excellent cast is no doubt an entertaining and colourful show especially for the children who are transfixed from kick off to “shoot” and ultimately the “final whistle”. It certainly celebrates the beautiful game

West Yorkshire Playhouse 50 Year Landmark

By Dawn Smallwood

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s history began 50 years ago on the 5th May 1968 when it was proposed for Leeds to have its own Playhouse. This was heard at a public meeting, held at the Town Hall, following a successful four year campaign lead by Doreen Newlyn and supported by Peter O’Toole (Hollywood legend), Keith Waterhouse and John Neville (then Nottingham Playhouse’s artistic director). They determinedly argued that “a city without a theatre is a city without a heart” (Source: West Yorkshire Playhouse) and their claim is very true today as West Yorkshire Playhouse prides itself as being heart of the city.

The packed public meeting on that day obviously was a sign for good things to come and the quest for a Playhouse became a reality. Funding was secured from the public and Leeds City Council towards the development. The development was in receipt of further funding, the construction began a year later, and the Leeds Playhouse opened its doors in 1970 on the University of Leeds site. The Playhouse housed productions there for 20 years until it moved to its current site at Quarry Hill in 1990.

The spirit shared by Newlyn and James Brining (West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Artistic Director) remains strongly the same. The Playhouse’s spirit and aims are to engage widely with the community and make theatre accessible to everyone in the City of Leeds. This is evident with their critically acclaimed and award winning development and engagement programmes and world class theatre productions year after year. They always offer a wide variety of productions from big scale musicals to new home grown talent.

With the success and ethos it is felt the West Yorkshire Playhouse is ready for their forthcoming major redevelopment project which is starting in July 2018 after Searching for the Heart of Leeds, such a fitting production to mark the Playhouse’s next chapter. The current building will be transformed and modernised with an addition of Bramall Rock Void,

a new studio theatre space, and the development will be funded by Leeds City Council, Arts Council and the Playhouse itself. The West Yorkshire Playhouse and SOYO will provide a temporary 350 seat theatre on site for the Autumn 2018/Spring 2019 programme.

Exciting times ahead and no doubt more special milestones will be celebrated in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s present and future journey.

 

CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER MEETS WESTERBERG HIGH¹S NEWEST GIRL BAND FOR HEATHERS – THE MUSICAL

CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER MEETS WESTERBERG HIGH’S NEWEST GIRL BAND FOR

HEATHERS – THE MUSICAL

OPENING AT THE OTHER PALACE FOR A STRICTLY LIMITED RUN

FROM 9 JUNE – 4 AUGUST 2018

 

 

After breaking previous box office records at The Other Palace, the European premiere of HEATHERS – THE MUSICAL continues to delight, this time with the announcement of an incredible house band.

 

Musical director SIMONA BUDD will lead five sensational musicians in performing Olivier Award winner LAURENCE O’KEEFE’S kick ass score.

 

Made up of amazing musicians from hit West End and touring productions, the band includes draws on some of the most experienced talent around as well as introducing some exciting up and coming musicians: Becky Brass(Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour) on Drums; Robyn Brown on Bass; Roseanne Duckworth (Wicked, Les Misérables)on Trumpet; Emily Linden (Our Ladies of Perpetual Soccour) on Guitar; and Katie Punter (La Cage Aux Follies, Sister Act, Shrek The Musical) on Reeds.

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher said: “I am beyond thrilled to get to sing each night alongside such a fierce group of musicians and love the fact that this will be the first ever all female band at The Other Palace. Look out Westerberg High; this girl band is going to bring the house down this summer”.

 

Following a rapturous response to its sell-out 2017 workshop, 80s cult classic HEATHERS – THE MUSICAL is back in class this summer with new songs, new material and new classmates. Produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor Mills, who produced the award winning Carrie together in 2015, the musical premieres at The Other Palace on 9 June and runs for a limited 8 week season.

 

Based on one of the greatest teen films of all time, the 1988 classic starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. The award-winning writing team, Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde, Bat Boy) and Kevin Murphy’s (Reefer Madness,Desperate Housewives), hit musical adaptation has enjoyed successful runs in Los Angeles and New York, and finally arrives in the UK for its European Premiere.

 

Accomplished musical theatre star, Carrie Hope Fletcher, will play Veronica Sawyer in this twisted tale of teen drama, friendship and deadly obsession. Fresh from winning the WhatsOnStage Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ for her stint as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (UK Tour), Carrie previously played Éponine inLes Misérables in the West End for three years. She has also just released her debut album When the Curtain Falls.

 

Greetings, salutations. Welcome to Westerberg High, where popularity is so very a matter of life and death, and Veronica Sawyer is just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day.

 

But when she’s unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams finally start to come true.

 

Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it’s murder being a somebody…

 

Heathers – The Musical features a sensational book, music and lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, with brand new material exclusively written for this production whilst the team are in London.  The musical is directed by acclaimed screen and stage director Andy Fickman with electrifying choreography by Gary Lloyd (Thriller Live, Carrie, 20th Century Boy), design by David Shields (Chess, Ice Age Live, End of the Rainbow), lighting by Ben Cracknell (Young Frankenstein, Annie, La Cage Aux Folles)sound by Dan Samson (Evita, Cilla, Joseph) and casting by Will Burton (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Matilda, The Wild Party).

 

A limited number of £21 tickets for those under the age of 21 will be available at every performance. For more information please visit The Other Palace’s website.

 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: www.theotherpalace.co.uk

 

Final casting to be announced in due course.

 

 

LISTINGS

HEATHERS – THE MUSICAL

THE OTHER PALACE

09 JUNE – 04 AUGUST 2018

 

Performances:           

Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm    

Sunday at 4.30pm    

 

Ticket Prices: From £25

 

Address: 12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA

 

Box Office: 02070877900

 

Website: www.theotherpalace.co.uk

 

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @TheOtherPalace

Interview with Bronte Barbe who is set to play Carole King in Beautiful

BEAUTIFUL

Interview with Bronte Barbe – ‘Carole King’

What are you most enjoying about playing Carole King in the UK tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical?

The songs! The music is amazing; it’s just the best. I haven’t played a part like this in my career so far. I also love how everyone in the company on tour with us is so nice; it’s a big family feel, which is lovely.

Have you always wanted to be on stage and had the performing bug?

Yes absolutely I have. My mum’s always performed – she’s done a lot of amateur dramatics and my Auntie is a singer so it was always in the family. I first started dancing when I was three in baby ballet, and I took dance lessons for years and years but I didn’t actually want to be a dancer. In fact I was always singing, and I think my Mum’s told me that I would be in the park and singing The Little Mermaid to other kids on the swings! I also used to sing Titanic down the phone to my Grandma and she used to cry, all that sort of thing! So yes, I’ve always wanted to perform really. I started doing drama at a young age and doing shows with my Mum where I would play the child and things like that. There’s nothing else I’ve wanted to do really, I’ve been so firm and set on it. The first time I was on stage was when I played the littlest angel in the Nativity play at primary school, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Were you familiar with Carole King’s work prior to joining the show?

Yeah I was. I’ve had Tapestry for years actually. When I first got a record player I bought it because my Mum said, “you have to get this album it’s amazing”, but I didn’t realise until listening to it just how many songs that I already knew were actually written by Carole King. Then I saw the show in the West End and realised there are loads and loads of songs I was pleasantly surprised to know, but had no idea were written by her. So many of her songs have filtered into my head without me knowing through the TV or radio.

Was there something in particular that drew you to the role of Carole King, or do you identify with her at all?

Totally, she is so determined, particularly as a woman starting out in the time she did, working in the industry she did. She knew what she wanted, so worked hard and went out and got it, which makes her very inspirational. However, she is also a very relatable character I think.

What kind of differences did you encounter in developing your performance of a real person rather than a fictional character?

It was all very different to anything I’ve ever done before. I was listening to her music constantly obviously, but I didn’t want to do an impression. I wanted to work on an interpretation of her because there’s no way to impersonate her, she’s so iconic and her sound is so lodged in people’s minds. So I wanted to stay as true to her as possible but without doing an impression. Obviously there was the accent – trying to perfect her speaking voice and getting it as close as I could. I constantly watch videos to try and keep it fresh and accurate. I researched the time period and places she was working in at the time.

Whilst Carole King’s music will be familiar to many people, her life story may not be. What do you think makes it so engaging and perfect for the stage?

I think because it’s so relatable really. Everybody knows a Carole essentially, or is a Carole maybe and wants things she wanted – like to have a family and be successful in her career. She never set out to become famous but her talent and ambition meant that whilst she might be quite ordinary in some ways, she has an extraordinary story. There’s a big draw to it.

Beautiful follow’s Carole King’s story across a number of years in the early part of her long career, what is it like to portray a character through so many moments throughout their life?

There’s so much depth to it you know, as she’s a real person. We meet her in the show at age 16 and go up to 29 and it’s been interesting because you want to be bouncy and young at the start but you don’t want to be playing her as a stereotypical teenager. Physically it can be a bit of a challenge as you have to grow and mature in your performance each night, but you have 2-hours to do it. It’s a lot in the body, and in the voice to give her that maturity. I’m almost at the age she is at the end of the show, and as you grow older your voice changes but also the weight of what was going on in her life at the time affects you in so many different ways so I try to bear that in mind in my performance.

Do you have a favourite number to perform?

I do. Beautiful, I love it so much it’s my absolute favourite. Even if I’m really tired I get to Beautiful and I’m filled with energy again. I love the way it’s set and orchestrated with the band and then building the backing vocals. It’s such an empowering moment on stage and you can’t beat it. I feel like a bit of a rock star! I think sometimes it can take the audience by surprise as a lot of people might not know it as well as some of her other songs, but the lyrics are so great and it is so uplifting I can see almost an intake of breath and people instantly warm to it.

What is life on the road like? Is there one thing you absolutely couldn’t be without?

My favourite thing in the world is Lush so every town or city we visit I find a Lush because it makes me feel very calm. Most of the time I try and tour with my little dog so that helps. Lots of little things like putting pictures up in my dressing room and having a certain type of tea before the show help me to feel calm and ready to perform. We aren’t in each venue for long but it’s nice to feel a little bit settled.

Do you have any particular rituals for pre or post-show?

I just drink tons and tons of water. I always have an interval orange as well like a football match. I always have one, as it’s so good for energy and no matter how I’m feeling I just feel great after an interval orange, it’s very helpful.

Do you have a dream role that you’d love to take on?

This is absolutely a dream role, being able to play Carole King every night and sing her songs. I would also quite like to be in a period drama. I love to play inspiring women and there aren’t that many fully female led shows out there so playing Carole King is wonderful.

Carole King is an icon of the singer songwriter world and an idol to many. Do you have any idols that you look up to?

Oh yeah totally. I would probably say Julie Walters and Victoria Wood. My idols are lots of female comedy geniuses. However, playing Carole King every night is great, she’s definitely iconic!

The tour stops in Leeds, does this venue have any significance for you?

Oh I love Leeds. I was there with Shrek and it’s such a great city. I’ve got a lot of family in Yorkshire so hopefully I’ll be able to see my family whilst we are there.

NEW CAST ANNOUNCED FOR SUSAN HILL’S THE WOMAN IN BLACK AT THE FORTUNE THEATRE

NEW CAST ANNOUNCED FOR

 

SUSAN HILL’S

THE WOMAN IN BLACK

AT THE FORTUNE THEATRE

 

FROM TUESDAY 22 MAY 2018

 

RICHARD HOPE TO STAR AS

‘ARTHUR KIPPS’

 

MARK HAWKINS TO STAR AS

‘THE ACTOR’

PW Productions are delighted to announce that from Tuesday 22 May 2018, Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK at The Fortune Theatre, London will star Richard Hope as ‘Arthur Kipps’ and Mark Hawkins as ‘The Actor’.

Richard Hope’s theatre credits include: “Queen Anne”; “The Park”; “The History Boys”; “Orlando”; “King Lear”; “Much Ado About Nothing”; “Don Juan”; “Hamlet” and “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” among others. Richard’s television credits include: “Poldark”, “Broadchurch”, “Midsomer Murders”; “Doctor Who”; “Poirot”; “Brideshead Revisited”; “Foyles War” and “Tipping the Velvet”. He has recently helped to research and develop new work for the National Theatre Studio, RSC, Globe Theatre and Old Vic Theatre.

Mark Hawkins trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama. His theatre credits include: “The Railway Children”; “Muted”; “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; “Richard III”; “The Night Before Christmas”; “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”; “Julius Caesar” and “Pills Thrills and Automobiles”, and also “The Woman in Black” on tour. His short film credits include: “Day 703”;, “Amnesiac”; “Spoons”; “Anamnesis”; “George Eliot’s Silas Marner” and “The Ash Can”.

In June this year THE WOMAN IN BLACK will enter its 30th year in London’s West End. Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’. He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, but as they delve further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. The borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins creep.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is directed by Robin Herford, with designs by Michael Holt, lighting by Kevin Sleep and sound by Gareth Owen.

LISTINGS

THE FORTUNE THEATRE

Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HH

Performance Times:     Tuesday to Saturday at 8.00pm; Tuesday and Thursday at 3.00pm and Saturday at 4.00pm

Tickets:                         Prices are from £21.50 to £52.00 (Premium Seats are also available)

Box Office:                   0844 871 7626*

Currently booking until 26 January 2019

www.thewomaninblack.com

@WomaninBlack_UK

*Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.