Stick Man returns to The Lowry in time for Christmas | 1 December 2018 – 6 January 2019

Scamp Theatre present
Stick Man
Based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Saturday 1st December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

The joyful adaptation of former Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bestselling book, Stick Man, returns to The Lowry for another enchanting festive adventure. Packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves, Scamp Theatre’s heart-warming production is an hour of fun for all the family!

‘Stick Man lives in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three…’. But the world outside the family tree is a dangerous place for Stick Man. What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure – a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree in time for Christmas?

Starring Mathew Hamper (David Baddiel’s Animalcolm, UK Tour; Underneath a Magical Moon, Jacksons Lane; Alice’s Adventures Underground, Vaults Theatre), Lara Cowin (Peppa’s Pig Surprise, International Tour; Frankenstein, UK tour; Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, UK Tour) and Robert Wade (Cyrano, Norther Broadsides; The Last Station Keeper, UK Tour; Square Patties and Other Scraps, Herd and Assemble Fest), Stick Man is touching, funny and utterly original.

Producer Louise Callow comments, We are thrilled to be heading to The Lowry this festive season as we always receive the warmest of audiences. Stick Man and his family can’t wait to journey to Salford and hope that Father Christmas can find them in their new address at the theatre

Scamp Theatre bring a range of theatrical live performance to audiences of all ages, focusing on the imaginative adaptation of children’s literature. They’ve previously produced The Scarecrows’ Wedding, Private Peaceful (which won Manchester Evening News’ Award for Best Solo Performance in 2005) and Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales at The Lowry and are passionate about engaging new audiences and inspiring the next generation of theatre-goers.

★★★★★ Wonderfully exuberant and imaginative (Time Out Critic’s Choice)

WEST END BARES: Top Off The Pops raises over £65,000 for Make A Difference Trust

WEST END BARES: Top Off The Pops

Raises over £65,000 for

Make A Difference Trust

The ever-growing annual fundraiser played two spectacular shows at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Sunday 28 October, celebrating iconic music artists and their sexiest songs.  Madonna, Prince, Oasis, Take That and many more were given the Bares treatment, accompanied by an incredible live band and sensational vocalists from many of the West End’s biggest shows.

Comedian and TV star Tom Allen presided over the evening which saw more than 125 performers from the West End and beyond dare to bare in what is now one of theatreland’s most loved annual events.

The Make A Difference Trust unites the theatre and entertainment industries to raise funds to support those affected by HIV/AIDS.  The incredible success of this year’s WEST END BARES will allow them to continue their vital education and awareness programmes in drama schools as well as life changing projects here in the U.K. and Sub-Saharan Africa.  The final figure is expected to grow as we continue counting donations in the coming weeks.

The Make A Difference Trust thank Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for their generous grant of £20,000 ($26,000) to mark the success of not only this ninth edition of WEST END BARES, but to celebrate all those who have participated in the creation, production and performance of all nine years of this now eagerly anticipated annual event, especially as the Trust begin preparations for the 10th anniversary of WEST END BARES in 2019 – a remarkable milestone!

West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis joins 1,000 West End Stage students to record A Million Dreams in aid of NSPCC Childline

West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis
joins 1,000 West End Stage students to record A Million Dreams
in aid of NSPCC Childline, now on iTunes
Kerry Ellis, star of the West End and Broadway, has teamed up with 1,000 West End Stage students, for a special charity fundraising recording of A Million Dreams from the hit film, The Greatest Showman. 
An official video for the track has been released today to accompany the track. Watch it on YouTube:
All proceeds will go to the NSPCC’s Childline service (0800 1111), which is there to give young people a voice when no one else is listening. Whatever problems or dangers they are facing, Childline is a place for them to turn for support – any time of day or night.   
West End Stage launched in 2006 in a bid to become the UK’s leading theatre summer school by igniting a global passion for theatre. Throughout the week-long course, students take part in drama, singing and dance classes led by West End stars, and then make their own West End debut in a showcase at Her Majesty’s Theatre. This year’s students, who all took part in the recording, ranged from just 8 years old through to 21, with 26% of them attending from outside the UK, from 52 different countries as far away as Australia, Cambodia and Indonesia. 
Kerry Ellis, who is the Patron of West End Stage, has played many lead roles in shows in the West End and on Broadway including We Will Rock You, Oliver!, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Cats and Rent.
Mark Puddle, Chief Executive of West End Stage, said: “This year marked our 10,000th West End Stage student, and we wanted to do something fitting to celebrate that. The charity recording was an opportunity to channel 1,000 young voices to raise funds and awareness for Childline, hopefully inspiring and empowering others. Childline’s services help the same demographic of students that attends West End Stage, and at our summer schools we encourage an inclusive atmosphere where everyone can be themselves, be supported, and where no one is alone.”
To find out more about West End Stage visit: and follow @WestEndStage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 




Ben Lockwood, Rupert Henderson and Oliver Kaderbhai present


Inspired by The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christian Andersen

Book music and lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda

Book and lyrics by Rachel Sheinkin

Directed by Oliver Kaderbhai; Designer: Natalie Johnson; Lighting Designer: Alex Lewer

Musical Director: Ashley Harvey; Choreography by Oliver Kaderbhai and Marah Stafford

Union Theatre

28 November – 23 December 2018

Ben Lockwood, Rupert Henderson and Oliver Kaderbhai today announce the full cast for the hit Off-Broadway musical Striking 12 from Tony Award-winning Rachel Sheinkin and musical duo Brendan Milburn and Valerie VigodaOliver Kaderbhai directs Declan Bennett (Brendan), Bronté Barbé (The Match Girl), Danielle Kassaraté (Narrator), with Kate Robson-Stuart and Leon Scott completing the cast. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl, Striking 12 will open at the Union Theatre on 3 December, with previews from 28 November and runs until 23 December.


It’s New Year’s Eve and Brendan is done. His fiancée has left him, he’s going to lose his job and his boss is making him work late. The last thing he wants to do is celebrate. A chance encounter with a lightbulb seller changes everything.


Springing to life with a punchy score of pop, rock, jazz and more, Striking 12 is the perfect way to see out 2018. Where will you be when the clock strikes 12?

Director, Oliver Kaderbhai said today, “Striking 12 feels like the perfect Christmas show. It’s brilliantly witty and beautifully poignant with songs that evoke those classic American Christmas movies. We’ve got an incredible cast who’ll be providing the music too, and I’m extremely excited to see what we build in rehearsals together. Let’s see if we can capture just some of the essence of this magical season to present to our audiences each night, and make those dark winter nights a little brighter.”


Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda are co-founders of GrooveLily. Their credits include Toy Story The Musical (Disney Cruise Line), Sleeping Beauty Wakes (Deaf West Theatre/Center Theatre Group/McCarter Theatre – winner of two 2007 Ovation Awards), Long Story Short (City Theatre of Pittsburgh/TheatreWorks Palo Alto/San Diego Rep), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (McCarter Theatre/Paper Mill Playhouse), Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (La Jolla Playhouse/TheatreWorks Palo Alto). Together, Milburn and Vigoda are 2009 winners of the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, as well as a two-time winners of the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre.

Rachel Sheinkin is a frequent collaborator with GrooveLily. Her other musical theatre credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Circle in the Square – for which she won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical), Blood Drive (O’Neill National Music Theatre Conference) and Serenade (Baryshnikov Arts Center). She has been a Manhattan Theatre Club playwriting fellow and is currently an adjunct faculty member at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.


Bronté Barbé plays The Little Match Girl. Her theatre credits include Beautiful (Aldwych Theatre), The Wild Party (The Other Palace), The Donkey Show (Proud London), Shrek the MusicalMomentous Musicals (UK tours), Carnival of the Animals (Riverside Studios) and Hairspray (International tour); and for television, Call the Midwife.


Declan Bennett plays Brendan. His theatre credits include Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Menier Chocolate Factory), Once (Phoenix Theatre), American Idiot (St. James Theatre, Broadway/Berkeley Rep), Rent (Nederlander Theatre/ US tour), Taboo (The Venue/UK tour), It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow and Our Day Out (Belgrade Theatre). His television credits include as series regular Charlie Cotton in EastEnders; and for film, Inside Llewyn Davis.


Danielle Kassaraté plays Narrator. Her theatre credits include Wildfire (Hampstead Theatre), Blues and Soul (European tour), Dusty (Charing Cross Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (Theatr Clwyd), The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time (Gielgud Theatre/international tour) and Guys and Dolls (Royal Exchange Theatre).



Kate Robson-Stuart is part of the ensemble. Her theatre credits include Once (New Wolsey Theatre/Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), Crazy For YouStrictly ConfidentialChess (UK tours), Ragtime (Charing Cross Theatre), Untold Stories (The Watermill Theatre), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Sherman Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Stafford Gatehouse Theatre), Betty Blue Eyes (West Yorkshire Playhouse/UK tour), Little VoiceLove, Lies and LustSatin & SteelCan’t Pay Won’t Pay, The Merchant of VenicePeter Pan (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), and The Pajama Game (Union Theatre).


Leon Scott is part of the ensemble. His theatre credits include Romeo and JulietOthello (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Midsummer Night’s DreamMuch Ado About NothingHerculesCyrano de Bergerac (Chester Performs), Richard III (Southwark Playhouse), UnmythableNorsesome (St James’ Theatre/UK tour), MidnightHonk(Union Theatre), The Wind in the WillowsAngus Thongs and Even More Snogging (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Sleeping Booty (Leicester Square Theatre) and Bicycle Boy (Oxford Playhouse); and for television, Byker Grove.


Oliver Kaderbhai is a director, movement director and actor.  He is Artistic Director of theatre company Delirium, established in 2009. His credits as Director include Peter Pan (Chichester Festival Theatre), Songs of Abdulkarim (59 Productions/JACC), One Minute (The Vaults) Your Nation Loves You (Pegasus Theatre), Go To Your God Like A Soldier (Courtyard Theatre), From Where I’m Standing(Edinburgh Festival Fringe). His credits as Associate Director and Movement Director include Killer Joe (Trafalgar Studios), BugThe Dazzle (Found111) and Guys and Dolls (PlayMakers Rep); and as Assistant Director, Jesus Christ Superstar and Running Wild (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).

Ben Lockwood completed an MA Creative Producing from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and previously a BA English Literature and Language from King’s College, London. He has worked for Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, Sonia Friedman Productions and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and most recently he was Professional Licensing Manager for Theatrical Rights Worldwide.


Rupert Henderson is an actor and producer, trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He recently completed a run in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre). Prior to training, he worked with the National Youth Theatre and National Youth Music Theatre and was in the West End cast of Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre).




Union Theatre

Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London, SE1 0LR


28 November – 23 December 2018


Box Office020 7261 9876


Twitter: @striking12_UK

Instagram: @striking12_UK


Tuesday – Saturday: 7.30pm

Matinee: 3pm (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)


Previews: £15

Standard price: £25

Concessions: £20

Phoenix Dance Theatre, Windrush: Movement of the People Review

York Theatre Royal 1st November 2018.

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


York Theatre Royal was packed out for Phoenix Dance Theatre’s performance of Windrush, which followed two short dances.

Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe, choregraphed by Aletta Collins, sees five dancers fighting over a central microphone just dangling in the centre of the stage. The dancers vie for the use to amplify their own little nuance and sound, almost like children striving for attention. A playful piece showcasing the dexterity, strength and versatility of the dancers.

Shadows, choregraphed by Christopher Bruce, is a lot more sombre affair, following a family of four. Sitting around a table we see their relationship and sense of sadness, each revealing their inner turmoil.

Seventy years ago, the British government encouraged mass immigration from within the Commonwealth in order to fill the labour gaps after the losses during WWII. Empire Windrush carried hundreds of Afro-Caribbean, mostly Jamaican, migrants to the UK and were the first of the Windrush Generation. Expecting to be treated with respect, good jobs and wages, nothing could be further from the truth. Faced with racism and hostility Windrush is still hitting the headlines today.

Choregraphed by Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Windrush is set firstly at the docks in the Caribbean. It’s vibrant with all the colour and the buzz of hope with the promise of a better life. In contrast to this though we have great sorrow of the loved ones left behind. On reaching Britain, it’s cold and dreary. The men are spurned by women in white masks, wearing aprons and head scarves. Washing lines are erected with underwear pegged out, spelling no blacks, no dogs, no Irish. All the while “You called and we came” is resonating around the stage, echoing the thoughts of these men lured to the promised land, but enduring rejection and prejudice. There is some acceptance with one woman removing her mask, starting a relationship with one of the migrants. A loved one finally is reunited, following her partner over from the Caribbean. Hope is not lost and there is a future to be had, Britain’s multicultural society.

With a troupe of eleven dancers for all three shows, their fluidity and flexibility, it was at times quite breathe-taking, especially Prentice Whitlow and Vanessa Vince-Pang, who I found totally mesmerizing when she was dancing.

I must admit I am a novice when it comes to contemporary dance and wasn’t sure really what to expect, but I did enjoy the experience. A moving and thought provoking programme

Silence Review

Theatre Royal York – until Saturday 3 November 

Reviewed by Sally Richmond



SILENCE is a compellingly and highly moving story that explores the lives of three women, over three generations, who have hidden secrets that are woven tightly within their relationships with one another – only to be unravelled, revealing some shocking truths.

The play starts in London, 1996 and it’s Ewa’s 50th birthday. Her daughter Anna is coming home from University and is slightly apprehensive due to some news of her future plans that she wants to share. Grandmother, Maria, also starts to share some secrets and confidences of her own.

The past that has created gulfs and rifts between the family members, which are all wrapped up in their Polish roots and start to come to the surface as memories begin to fall out into conversations and keepsakes are found.

Nicola Werenowska’s captivating new play careers between Warsaw and London over the lives of these three, fascinating women of a Polish/British family.

The youngest woman of the three, daughter Anna, portrayed by the energetic Maria Louis, encapsulates the vigour and vibrancy of youth in her pursuit of trying to find herself – which is a sharp contrast from her mother, Ewa (the brilliant Kate Spiro), who seems to be desperately clinging onto the sad life she finds herself living, telling herself that “she’s alright, she’s happy” when clearly she’s far from it. Tina Gray is outstanding as grandmother Maria, calm and poised on the outset but inside she is harbouring some of the worst things that could possibly ever happen to a mother.

The monologues delivered by the three superb actresses are cleverly entwined with one another, making what could be slow and droll far from it – in fact the pace is filled with quick interactions, is highly energetic in parts but ingenuously interjected with poignant moments just at the right time.

Werenowska’s play, which has been created from the truths she has gathered from family and close associates, is one that needs to be told and gives a Polish generation whose lives were filled of banishment and the deportation from their homeland, a chance to tell their story and to stop the silence.

SILENCE opens up the issues and topics that needs to be heard and gives people of a the 2nd and 3rd generation of Polish heritage a voice and a sense to work out who they are and where they’ve come from.

The cast of three is strong, with emotional yet controlled performances. Their interactions with one another are slick and smooth within a complex arrangement of speaking parts that cross over one another. Timing is perfect, speech executed perfectly – Gray gives a master class in how to tell one of the saddest stories ever heard clearly and flawlessly, totally immersed in character so well that it was like Maria was on that stage, telling her story.

SILENCE will educate you, move you, provoke thoughts and feelings inside you, and helps one explore controversial issues from both the past and the present.

(Monday 5 November – Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, Tuesday 6 – Wednesday 7 November – The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury, Thursday 8 November – Minghella Studios, University of Reading, Friday 9 November – POSK, London and Tuesday 13 – Saturday November – Salisbury Playhouse)

Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody Review

King’s Head Theatre – until 17th November

Review by Heather Chalkley and Antonia Hebbert


Anyone who says musical theatre is just a bit of fun will have their minds changed by this fast paced piece, full of action and belly laughs. It is an inspired parody that certainly gives the cast and creatives a challenge to keep up and keep a straight face!

Fairy tales have been a great vehicle for teaching morals and ethics to our children for centuries. This modern day version by Robyn Grant and Daniel Elliott does a great job in continuing and extending that tradition to adults, tackling tricky subjects with humour. Hearing the classic lines of a fairy tale in role reversal is a unique experience that certainly makes you sit up and listen.

The multiple parts played by five actors added to the hilarity, with blatant costume and role changes right in front of your eyes. All the performers were fun to watch as they switched nimbly from one part to another and broke into the odd bit of nifty dancing. Robyn Grant played Beast with gusto and some well-placed snorts. Grant carried it off with ease. The campness Jamie Mawson brought to Beau still allowed for moments of high drama. The kiss between Beau and his mother Maureen was unexpected and caused a ripple, a great example of how the Fat Rascal Theatre Company push the boundaries just beyond the edge. Allie Munro gave a magnificent performance jumping between major roles as Beau’s mother Maureen, The Maid La Fou Fou and Lumie The Candelabra. Each of her parts was distinct from the other, conveying a different message of love and devotion.

Manon Review

Mayflower Theatre Southampton -until 3rd November 2018

Reviewed by Nicky Wyatt


Keith Macmillan and the English National Ballet have brought Manon out of London on tour on tour for only the 2nd time in over 30 years.

It is a huge production with lots of dancers on stage for the majority of the time. There is so much to see and follow, that at times I didn’t know who to watch for fear of missing something.

Manon is sad story. A young girl looking for love who is used, manipulated and almost groomed by all but one of the men in her life. Delivered over 3 acts we are first greeted by a very busy bustling scene, set in the courtyard of a local inn. It is full of courtesans enjoying a drink and more than a little frivolity. Amongst the busy crowd are three men that will have a huge impact on the young naive pre convent girl.

We meet her brother Lecscaut, Ken Saruhashi, a man she should be safe with. Sadly he realises he sister Manon, Erina Takahashi, has earning potential for him as he sets out to sell her off to the highest bidder. Watching the beautiful Manon arrive are two men , one who falls in love with her Des Grieux, Jeffrey Cirio, and the wealthy Monsieur GM. The young couple flirt and are clearly falling each other when they decide to run away to Paris, taking the money that Manon has stolen from the old gent that shared a coach with her Michael Coleman he too has an interest and the sly Lescaut gets him and the Monsieur to up their bids. All the time the lovers are dancing and planning to escape. There is a wonderful dance where Manon is literally passed around overhead between these 4 men,
quite breathtaking to watch. She makes her escape with Des Grieux to his flat where they tempt and tease each other. As she sleeps he writes to his father asking for money as they are going to go to Paris. Once she is awake he goes out to post his letter, while he is gone she is found at the flat by the Monsieur and her brother, he has promised her to him for a price of course. As much as she is in love with Des Grieux she is swayed by beautiful jewels and furs and leaves the flat with him .

The next act takes her to life as a courtesan, she is bestowed with gifts of jewels and fine furs but everything comes at price. The price is she’s on show, on call as are many of the young women at the Madame’s hotel if ill repute. Girls dance as the men sit and leer and of course touch. There are some quite funny moments in this act, keep an eye at the back of the stage as one of the harlots gets busy! All the girls are vying for attention of the men sat around. Among these men are not only Monsieur GM and Lescaut who are busy making plans but also the heartbroken Des Grieux who is looking for Manon. He spies and tries hard to get her attention she tries hard to ignore him but they can’t resist each other and plot a further escape which all hinges on a card game and Des Grieux winning the money. Sadly it fails. They escape but her brother is arrested. As the lover’s hastily pack their things an argument over jewels delays them and the police arrive to arrest them. A fight sees Lescaut shot dead.

Beside herself Manon is deported along with many prostitutes to New Orleans. They are to be sold. There are no jewels now, heads are shaved or hair is cut short, they look dirty and malnourished. Des Grieux has followed and watches from a distance as she once again becomes a man’s plaything. This time it’s the Gaoler Daniel Kraus. He wants her and will not take no for answer, as gasps from  the audience prove. Des Grieux again comes to her rescue and kills the Gaoler, leaving them free to escape. They run and run which leads them to become lost in a Louisiana swamp. Manon becomes ill and life just ebbs away from her as she dies in her lover’s arms.

The most beautifully danced story with amazing acting throughout. The ENB orchestra led by Gavin Sutherland were absolutely superb. A wonderful evening of ballet and fine score.

My only slight issue was the theatre was unbearably hot which understand the dancers need for their muscles but I would advise you to leave your coats at home.

Abigail’s Party Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 17 November 2018.

Reviewed by Leanne Caplis


Wiltshire Creative work alongside Derby Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Les Théȃtres de la Ville Luxembourgh to bring to stage the 70’s comedy that is Abigail’s Party.

Beverley (Melanie Gutterdige) together with her husband Laurence (Christopher Staines) are the hosts to their neighbours Tony (Liam Bergin), Angela (Amy Downham) and Susan (Susie Emmett) to what can only be described as a gathering of very contrasting personalities.

During a drinks party the hostess forces alcohol, cigarettes and pineapple on a stick on her guests who are too polite to refuse. However plied with alcohol a turn of events results in true colours being shown when cracks in the exaggerated British politeness start to show.

Immediately from entering the house one is transported back to the 1970’s. The attention to detail is to be commended. From pre-show music to the 1970’s front room everything is perfect! Losing yourself in the show makes it easy to forget you are in a theatre and not back in the days of flower power, flares and shag pile rugs.

A slow start was quickly forgotten once all the characters were on stage and I quickly became absorbed. There was plenty of dark humour reminiscent of shows like ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Rising Damp’ but remained audience appropriate. Several moments of awkward silence initially had me thinking lines had been forgotten – however it soon became clear it is intentional.

The second half was superb with some real belly-laugh moments from the whole audience. The ending, although expected, was superbly written and performed with all characters contributing to a memorable finish.

Angela (Amy Downham) was the stand out character. Her comedy timing, facial expressions and ability to portray the immature and unintelligent neighbour we can all relate to saw her being the star of the show. However, all characters played their parts well; Susie the stereo-typical middle class lady and Liam who perfected the art of looking awkward were very worthy of praise.

On leaving the Playhouse, with a smile of my face, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia having enjoyed a wonderful performance. I would highly recommend this production to adults of any age suspect, like me, you’ll not leave disappointed.