The Messiah Review

Richmond Theatre, London – until Saturday 1 December 2018
Reviewed by Lisa Harlow
Welcome to the Christmas season! And what an entrée!
The Messiah, written and directed by Patrick Barlow, delivers a thoroughly enjoyable platter of dry humour, word play and occasional slapstick via a theatre troupe of two rather lost souls plus a quizzical opera singer.
The two actors intend to tell the tale of the Nativity with all its magic and mystery, allowing Maurice Rose (Hugh Dennis) and Ronald Bream (John Marquez) to channel their own search for wisdom from the mystical and the divine. The outcome is actually a mess of emotional breakdowns and public arguments, whilst the men work through their dynamic of power play and personal inadequacies. It leads to enlightenment of a sort: the embracing of the other, faults, confessions and all. Perhaps this is the true Christmas message?
Dennis is adept at playing this pompous, unaligned and uncharismatic actor keen to share his spiritual merits and ego throughout the play. The wonderful Marquez performs in more of a school pantomime style, weaving regular references to modern life into this ancient story without a flicker of understanding as to the audience’s cackling response. His more simple, down trodden approach bursts into a more anarchic flurry once his true feelings about Maurice Rose come forth. Through audience interaction and skittish behaviour, there is very nearly a stage coup d’etat.
Marquez captures the audience’s attention throughout, and his disastrous attempts to rejoin the spinning set as one of the Three Kings absolutely sets me off. Leslie Garrett as Mrs Leonora Fflyte provides a great counterbalance to the shambles on stage through her operatic outbursts and attempts to reign the show back into control.
This show delivers a warm glow generated from its lighthearted fun and clever writing. Garrett, Dennis and Marquez certainly perform it to its highest reach.

Rock of Ages Review

Sheffield Lyceum – until Saturday 1 December

Reviewed by Lottie Davis-Browne


It doesn’t seem like two minutes since Rock of Ages opened in London’s West End – yet in actual fact it is some seven years ago in 2011 when I first took a step back in time to the 80’s, to witness this jukebox musical for the first time. Although a huge lover of 80’s music, it’s the softer cheesier stuff I’m a particular fan of (artists such as Bananarama, Duran Duran, Wham! etc….), I took a step out of my comfort zone and embraced my inner (soft) rock Goddess. The show is filled with many famous glam metal and soft rock songs of the 1980’s – featuring songs by Journey (“Don’t Stop Believing”), Pat Benatar (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”) and Bon Jovi (“Dead or Alive”).

Set around 1987-“ish”, the story is set around saving The Bourbon Room, (a bar/club owned by Dennis Dupree and assisted by Lonny) from pending demolition. Wannabe rock star Drew Boley (Luke Walsh) works as a bartender at The Bourbon Room, and when new arrival Sherrie arrives seeking a job, he is instantly smitten and begs Dennis to give her a job. Whilst the tour programme states Jodie Steele in the role of Sherrie, following finishing the West End run of “Heathers: The Musical” on Saturday, Jodie doesn’t actually start the role until Thursday evenings performance. This however was only discovered at the start of the show with a rather muffled voice over which only told the majority of the audience there were a few cast changes – sadly most of us didn’t hear any of the names but were able to find out during the interval. Having seen Jodie in Heathers and Wicked in the past, it was clear once the show started and we met our Sherrie (later confirmed to be Rhiannon Chesterman) that I realised Jodie wasn’t performing tonight. This left me feeling instantly deflated, however this feeling soon vanished once Rhiannon sang her first note. Her performance was flawless and I soon felt myself blush for feeling like a disappointed child on Christmas Day when I didn’t get everything I wanted!

With Chesterman stepping in as Sherrie (when she usually plays Regina), this meant Erin Bell stepped in to play Regina. Again another flawless performance. As this is a touring production, the stage set differs great dramatically from the original London production. The Bourbon Room is still there, kind of; just set back amongst the scaffolding which forms the main part of the set. There’s a video screen high up (if you’re sat in the stalls you have to strain your neck slightly to see it but it’s worth it!), which is used throughout. When the first press photos were released of the stripped back stage set, the Roadies (Rock of Ages Roadies) were not too impressed, and even has a fellow Roadie myself (having seen the original London cast a few times and followed the last tour up and down the UK), I was slightly anxious to how it would work but I actually preferred the set like this. There were several other more subtle changes to it to which just added to the humour. Rock of Ages is a musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s what makes it such a laugh to watch over and over again – without getting bored of it. The vehicle used by Drew to collect Sherrie for their date can only be described as a child’s sit on motorcycle complete with side seat. (I had tears of laughter down my eyes at this point!). Or Kevin Kennedy (aka Curly Watts from Coronation Street many many moons ago – who was in Sheffield not that long ago with the tour of Fat Friends The Musical) as Dennis with his “naughty salt”. Or the mini ride on JCB digger on the day of the proposed demolition.

What they lacked in stage set the cast made up for with even more humour thrown into the mix. During a particular romantic number between Dennis and Lonny (Lucas Rush) “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” – where other productions have included a certain Dirty Dancing lift at the end of the duet, tonight instead we saw Dennis “fall” and land behind the bar and appear back on his feet in seconds doing cartwheels and more across the stage faster than the speed of light before disappearing again behind the bar and coming back pretending to be worn out – to which Lonny retorts (trying very hard not to laugh) “I never knew you were so agile Dennis!”

Another thing I love about this particular production is that whilst the West End had a rather large cast, this one appears much smaller in comparison but they use each and every member to fill scenes where needed making it appear the cast numbers are actually larger than what they really are.

I was eager to see how Zoe Birkett (2002 Pop Idol Winner) would perform as Justice, after seeing some unpleasant comments following cast announcements from the shows fans saying she was too young etc for the role. For me age is just a number and having been the understudy Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard before taking on the role permanently for the tour, I knew vocally she would not disappoint. Despite being under the weather tonight, Birkett still gave a knockout performance. If this was her “not at my best” as she so put it after the show somewhat apologetically, I was quick to reply that she must blow the roof off when she’s on top form!

A highlight of the show for me has always been the duet between Regina (Erin Bell) and Franz (Andrew Carthy) “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” – partly for the fantastic blink-and-you-miss-it lightening flash costume change and the humour that follows – tonight’s cast again did not disappoint on this and I thought that Erin suited the role perfectly. She certainly appeared to be having fun!

Although the movie “never ends” and go’s “on and on and on”, sadly as much as I could talk about this show and this particular tour cast for hours, I must wrap up and take off my leg warmers (for now!) and hope that it won’t be long until I am back in the Bourbon Room.

What a better way to ease the stress of the year and get into party mode in time for Christmas and New Year! I won’t stop believing, will you?


(P.S: If like me you love all things 1980s, then watch out for the tour of brand new 1980s themed musical Club Tropicana which arrives in Sheffield next March!)




Arcola Theatre in association with Maya Ellis present

The World Première of


By Gabriel Gbadamosi

Directed by Mehmet Ergen

Set Design: Eleanor Bull; Lighting Design: Richard Williamson; Sound Design: Daniel Balfour


Arcola Theatre

9 January – 9 February 2019

Arcola Theatre in association with Maya Ellis today announce the full cast for the world première of Gabriel Gbadamosi’s Stop and Search. Artistic Director of the Arcola Mehmet Ergen directs Munashe Chirisa (Akim), Tyler Luke Cunningham (Lee), David Kirkbride (Tone), Shaun Mason (Tel) and Jessye Romeo (Bev). The production opens on 14 January, with previews from 9 January, and runs until 9 February.

A driver picks up a young man crossing Europe. Two police officers work a surveillance case. A passenger directs her taxi to the edge of a bridge. Three conversations grow increasingly uneasy.

From award-winning writer Gabriel Gbadamosi comes a visceral new play, exploring a time of distrust where the lines blur between conversation and interrogation. Stop and Search explores our deep ambivalence about the ways we police each other.

Gabriel Gbadamosi is an Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright. Stop and Search marks his London stage debut. His theatre credits include Eshu’s Faust (Jesus College, Cambridge), Hotel Orpheu (Schaubühne, Berlin), Shango(DNA, Amsterdam); and for radio, The Long, Hot Summer of ’76 – winner of the first Richard Imison Award. Gbadamosi’s novel Vauxhall won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize and Best International Novel at the Sharjah Book Fair.

Munashe Chirisa plays Akim. His theatre credits include Doctor FaustusWater, Bread and SaltAll of UsThe Blue Room (UK tour) and So You Think I’m Crazy (Ovalhouse).

Tyler Luke Cunningham plays Lee. His theatre credits include Summer in London (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Butch Monologues (UK tour) and The Night Before Christmas (Chickenshed). His television credits includeBoy Meets Girl.

David Kirkbride plays Tone. His theatre credits include Under Milk Wood (Northern Stage), PinocchioOthello(National Theatre), The Crucible (UK tour), Rathband (Tristan Bates Theatre), Robin Hood and MarianLarksongUnearthedThe Gift (New Vic Theatre), Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre (Arcola Theatre), The Muddy Choir (Theatre Centre), Luna Park (The Albany), Titus Andronicus (Dundee Rep Theatre) and The Machine Gunners (Polka Theatre). His television credits include Privates.

Shaun Mason plays Tel. His theatre credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestRomeo and Juliet(Sheffield Theatres), All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare’s Globe), Oliver Twist (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Black Lives Black Words (Bush Theatre), Feed the Beast (Birmingham Rep/New Wolsey Theatre), AClockwork Orange (Citizens Theatre), Macbeth, Billy Wonderful (Liverpool Everyman), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Council Depot Blues (Liverpool Royal Court). His television credits include SnatchCilla and Good Cop.

Jessye Romeo plays Bev. Her theatre credits include Big Guns (The Yard), The Islanders (Whitechapel Gallery), Itch and Scratch (Hackney Showroom) and Martyr (Unicorn Theatre/Bristol Old Vic/Traverse Theatre). Her television credits include CurfewIn the Long Run and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

Artistic Director of Arcola Theatre Mehmet Ergen is an award-winning director. His theatre credits for the company include Richard III, BlissThe Cherry OrchardDronesBabyDronesAn Enemy of the PeopleThe Cradle Will RockClarion, Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre, Don Gil of the Green Breeches, Mare Rider,Sweet Smell of SuccessThe Painter, Macbeth, Fool for Love, Betrayal, Ashes to Ashes, Water’s Edge, Dumb Show, Lost in the Stars, In The Jungle of the Cities and Piano. Other theatre credits include King Lear (Southwark Playhouse). Ergen is also Artistic Director and founder of Arcola Istanbul and was previously Artistic Director of Southwark Playhouse, which he co-founded in 1993.

Stop and Search


Arcola Theatre

24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL

Box Office: 020 7503 1646

9 January – 9 February 2019


Tickets: £15 – £22 (concessions available)

New comedy about “modest little man” Clement Atlee at the Bread and Roses in 2019

A Modest Little Man
January 15th – 26th 2018, Bread and Roses Theatre

Celebrated contemporary historian and playwright Francis Beckett presents A Modest Little Man, a comedy about Labour post-war prime minister Clement Attlee: the man who made the welfare state. During his six year tenure, he changed the whole direction of public policy, transforming the lives of the next generation.
“A modest little man can’t make a revolution – can he?”
“A formidable work… draws out the many facets of (Atlee’s) character”  John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, on Francis Beckett’s Clem Atlee: Labour’s Great Reformer
May 1945. Britain celebrates victory and cheers Winston Churchill. The people who fought the war want a better world. But the Labour Party is led by a nonentity – “a modest little man with plenty to be modest about.” He says almost nothing. He sits in his grey suit and puffs his pipe. One wit remarked: “An empty taxi drew up and Clement Attlee got out.”
How can the insignificant, passionless little Labour leader Clem Attlee possibly compete with Churchill? Even if, by some miracle, he wins the election, he is far too timid to do anything very much with his victory. He would inherit a war-ravaged economy. He would be persuaded that this was not the time to bring in the vast and expensive programme of social reform – the creation of the NHS, the welfare state, and universal free education – that it was committed to. And yet…
“The virtue of Beckett’s vision lies in its suggestion that the future contains echoes of the present”  Michael Billington, The Guardian on Francis Beckett’s The London Spring
“Beckett’s fascinating insight into recent world politics resonates so strongly with current events” Everything Theatre on Francis Beckett’s The London Spring
Francis Beckett is an author, journalist, broadcaster, playwright and contemporary historian. His 20 books include biographies of four Prime Ministers, and he edited a series of 20 biographies, Prime Ministers of the Twentieth Century. He wrote a highly praised biography of Clem Attlee – a new and updated edition is published by Haus Publishing (2015). His latest book is Jeremy Corbyn and the Strange Rebirth of Labour England (Biteback, 2018). Recent books also include Fascist in the Family (Routledge, 2017), a memoir of his own father, the Labour MP turned fascist John Beckett. His last play The London Spring enjoyed a three week London fringe run in 2012.

The Bunker Theatre announces 2019 spring season from new Artistic Director Chris Sonnex

The Bunker Theatre announces 2019 spring
season from new Artistic Director Chris Sonnex
The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street London SE1 1RU
January – May 2019

The Bunker’s revolutionary spring season is the first from its new Artistic Director, Chris Sonnex. The season, which spans four months and includes six productions and a unique festival, will also mark the opening of the Bunker’s Writers’ Snug – a free-to-use space in the theatre for up to four playwrights, with one desk reserved for underrepresented writers.

The Bunker have also named Debbie Hannan (Things of Dry Hours, Latir, Cuckoo) as their new Associate Director; she will present a new monthly podcast – The Underground Podcast – which will be packed with artists and activists, investigating, naming and exploring what needs to change in the theatre industry. In response to the themes discussed in the podcast, The Bunker will also host a monthly variety night – The Underground Night – which will feature new and established musical, spoken word and dance talent.

Sonnex’s first season opens with the world premiere of Borderline’s Welcome To The UK! – a powerful satirical comedy about the situation of refugees in the UK. This bold production has been devised and performed by a mixed ensemble which includes people who have recently sought refuge in the UK. Following this, Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher’s funny and frank Boots is a story of cross-generational connection through forests and FemFresh, where an unlikely friendship reveals the loneliness of age and the power of Mother Nature.

My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid…is a week-long festival exploring intersecting identities and tensions responding to writer Rachel De-Lahay’s original provocative piece, My White Best Friend. She and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned eleven exceptional writers to pen their own letters that say the unsaid to the people that matter most. Two of the letters will be cold-read by performers each night, alongside Rachel’s piece.

March and April see a double bill of one woman shows putting female working class voices front and centre with Kat Woods’ Killymuck and Monsay Whitney’s Box Clever. Written with humour, care and urgency, Killymuck gives an insight into the trials and tribulations of being from the benefit class system whereas Box Clever confronts us with the repercussions of systemic failure in politics to care for the working classes.

Emma Dennis-Edwards’ Fringe First award-winning Funeral Flowers follows 17-year-old Angelique as she navigates her way through adulthood, the care system and the recurring threat from her boyfriend’s gang. The powerful season concludes with Joanna Nastari’s Fuck You Pay Me – a surreal collision of comedy, poetry and storytelling which gives a hilarious insight into the life of a stripper in
London’s fast-changing cityscape.

Artistic Director Chris Sonnex comments, Theatre exists to disrupt, challenge and interrogate the world that is put before us. We live in a world where the words of so many people are struggling to be meaningfully heard. There is an artistic and political revolution bubbling across our society, whether that be very personal revolutions or a bigger structural, seismic revolt. This season explores the full spectrum of revolution, from Emma Dennis-Edwards exploring how one very personal decision can change someone’s life in Funeral Flowers to Jessica Butcher and Sacha Voit’s burning it all down and starting again in their new play Boots. At The Bunker, we are incredibly honoured to welcome theatre makers who have something to say that reflects and comments on today’s world. These voices will rise up from an underground car park in South London and be heard across the city.

The Bunker’s Spring Season 2019 is as follows:

Welcome To The UK! and Borderline (PSYCHEdelight and The Bunker)
Directed by Sophie NL Besse
Tuesday 22nd January – Saturday 16th February 2019
Press Night: Friday 25th January, 7:30pm
Borderline are a unique theatre ensemble created by PSYCHEdelight, shortlisted for the Community Integration Awards. The world premiere of Welcome to the UK! is set on this side of the Channel, devised and performed by mixed ensemble which includes people who have recently sought refuge in the UK. The production has been developed alongside the Women for Refugee Women drama group which refugee and asylum women performers who have joined the Borderline cast. They will also be performing their first show, Borderline, a satire of the Calais Jungle, twice a week.

Boots (Arsalan Sattari Productions and The Bunker)
Written by Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher, directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou
Tuesday 19th February – Saturday 16th March 2019
Press Night: Friday 22nd February 2019                                                                   The time for silence is over. When it looks like Fred Astaire has burnt down a branch of Boots the chemist, Willow knows that something is seriously afoot. She braves the wilds of Lynx Africa, talking trees, and infertility to find an unlikely friend in Liz as she tracks down the truth. Bring your advantage card.

My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid… (The Bunker)
Curated by Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia
Monday 18th – Saturday 23rd March 2019
Industry Night: Wednesday 20th March 2019, 7:30pm
Could you put your white best friend on stage and remind them that they’re part of the problem? Originally featured as part of Black Lives Black Words at The Bush Theatre, writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned eleven writers to pen their own letters that say the unsaid to the people that matter most. Two of these new letters will be cold-read by performers each night to build up a network of intersecting identities and tensions through the week-long festival. The writers will include: Bola Agbaje, Zia Ahmed, Travis Alabanza, Fatimah Ashgar, Nathan Bryon, Matilda Ibini, Jammz, Iman Qureshi, Anya Reiss, Nina Segal, Tolani Shoneye.

Double Bill – Killymuck and Box Clever:
(W14 Productions and The Bunker)
Tuesday 26 th March – Saturday 13th April 2019
Press Night: Thursday 28th March 2019, 7:30pm
We are not all born equal. If you’re born into a working-class family, you have less: less money, less support and crucially, less opportunity. Killymuck and Box Clever explore the political cause and effect of what being born with less means.

Written by Kat Woods and directed by Catriona Shoobridge
Inspired by real events, Killymuck tells of a housing estate built on a paupers’ graveyard in 1970s Ireland. Kat Woods’ compelling play sees Niamh navigate the trials and tribulations of being a kid from the benefit system. Educational barriers, impoverishment, depression and lack of opportunities conspire against the struggle to escape the underclass stereotype in this powerful exploration of survival.

Box Clever
Written by Monsay Whitney and directed by Stef O’Driscoll
Ever get the feeling you’re going round in one big circle? Ten years. Back and forth between a trio of arseholes and nothing to show for it except a baby, an Argos ring and a busted nose. At the refuge they call that a pattern.

Moving, truthful and darkly comic, Box Clever is about one woman’s experience of a refuge and a Mother’s commitment to do the best for her daughter.

Funeral Flowers (Harts Theatre Company and The Bunker)
Written and Performed by Emma Dennis Edwards and directed by Rachel Nwokoro
Monday 15th April – Saturday 4th May 2019
Press Night: Wednesday 17th April 2019, 7:30pm
Part poetry, part play, part floristry masterclass, this Fringe First winning play tells the story of 17- year-old Angelique who dreams of being a florist. With her mum in prison, she is left to navigate her way through adulthood, the care system and the recurring threat from her boyfriend’s gang.

Fuck You Pay Me (FYPM and The Bunker)
Written and performed by Joanna Nastari, directed by Bethany Pitts
Tuesday 7th – Saturday 18th May 2019
Press Night: Thursday 9th May, 7:30pm
An evening of shameless entertainment, Of divine feminine fury. A burial of preconceptions, A night of Sex-Witch Anarchy.
Featuring a live score and nightly special guests, Joana Nastari’s award-winning debut Fuck You Pay Me is a no-holds-barred, explosive trip through the world of London strip club culture.

National Youth Theatre raises more then £150,000 in annual fundraiser gala




On Monday 26 November, The National Youth Theatre hosted its annual fundraising gala, this year to the theme ‘Puttin’ on the Blitz Kidz’ at Café de Paris, and was attended by VIP guests, past alumni and current NYT performers. The event, featuring music and theatre performances, auctions and fundraising events significantly exceeded targets, raising more than £150,000 to support The National Youth Theatre’s ongoing projects.

Guests included Seraphina Beh, Barbara Broccoli, Cerrie Burnell, Lolita Chakrabarti, Ellise Chappell, Gwendoline Christie, Giles Deacon, Sope Dirisu, Rusty Egan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Feeling, HRH The Earl of Wessex, Derek Jacobi, Lily James, Beverley Knight, Adrian Lester, Daisy Lewis, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Valene Kane, Kate Kennedy, Yolanda Kettle, Katia Kvinge, Lauren Lyle, Gina Miller, Gareth Pugh, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Matt Smith, Rhys Stephenson, Lucy Verasamy, Arabella Weir, Paula Wilcox, Shane Zaza and Ashley Zhangazha.

Charlie Ross hosted an auction of very special prizes including lunch with Sir Ian McKellen at Coutts HQ, dinner with Bond novelist Anthony Horowitz, a Rolls Royce Tour of London, memorabilia signed by Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Labrinth and Helen Mirren, luxury holidays to South Africa and Marrakech, a Paul Oz Diamond David Bowie print, VIP experiences to the Aston Martin factory and Cheltenham Festival, Conor Collins commissioned artwork, a Remainers’ dinner at the Houses of Parliament, an ITV weather masterclass with Lucy Verasamy and more.

The event was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Cerrie Burnell with music from The Feeling and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a DJ set by Rusty Egan, plus a performance from current members of The National Youth Theatre.

The evening was made possible thanks to the support of headline sponsors Eon Productions and host venue Café de Paris where VIP attendees enjoyed a champagne Bollinger reception followed by dinner specially chosen by Elizabeth Haigh, the youngest female chef ever to receive a Michelin star in the UK. The menu included ceviche of salmon, roasted squash hot salad, rump of lamp with rosemary jus, pan fried potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, vanilla panna cotta and chocolate and orange mousse, accompanied by Majestic Loves wine.

Strictly Tour – First Celebrities Announced











Strictly fans will be thrilled to learn that the first couples to appear on next year’s Strictly Come Dancing UK Arena Tour have been announced as documentary maker Stacey Dooley andAljaž Škorjanec, This Morning’s Dr Ranj Singh and Janette Manrara, and YouTube sensation Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell.

Stacey, Aljaž, Dr Ranj, Janette, Joe and Dianne will don their dancing shoes and join tour host, Ore Oduba, and the Live Tour judging panel of awesome foursome Craig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli, as they cha-cha around the country for 29 glittering shows from 18 January 2019.

Stacey Dooley is a renowned BBC journalist whose hard hitting documentaries have taken her to some of the most dangerous and unexpected parts of the world. Stacey said: “I’m loving this experience so much. I know people always say that, but it’s so true. To be able to go on tour and perform for the fans all over the UK is such an honour. I’m so excited! I will miss Kev, but I am looking forward to putting Aljaž through his paces!”.

Dr Ranj Singh is best known as resident doctor on This Morning, with his beaming smile making him a much loved Strictly Come Dancing star. Dr Ranj said: “From the sequins to the sashays, I have loved my Strictly journey, so to join the Live Tour is beyond exciting. I can’t wait to be reunited with Janette, hit the road and meet all the Strictly fans!”.

Joe Sugg is a global star, vlogger, filmmaker and entrepreneur with over eight million subscribers tuning into his YouTube channel every day to watch his hilarious antics and shenanigans.  Joe said: “I’m so thrilled to be joining the Strictly Tour in the New Year. I’m loving every minute of Strictly, so continuing my journey into 2019 is going to be brilliant. I can’t wait to get quick stepping at arenas all over the UK.”.

The three couples and the judges will all be reunited with more celebrities and professional dancers from this year’s BBC series, as they tour the biggest entertainment venues across the country recreating the glittering moves and pure magic of the nation’s favourite TV show.  Further names will be announced soon.

After opening in Birmingham, the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour will then visit arenas across the UK including; Leeds’ First Direct Arena, Manchester Arena, Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Sheffield’s Fly DSA Arena, The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena and The SSE Arena, Wembley.  The tour culminates with four shows at The O2 Arena in London on 9 and 10 February.



1821 January                        Arena Birmingham                            0844 338 8000

(Friday 18th at 7.30pm, Saturday 19th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 20th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm, Monday 21st at 7.30pm)

24-25 January             Leeds First Direct Arena                                0844 248 1585

(Thursday 24th at 7.30pm, Friday 25th at 7.30pm)

26-27 January             Manchester Arena                                         0844 847 8000

(Saturday 26th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 27th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)

29 January                  Liverpool Echo Arena                                    0344 8000 400

(Tuesday 29th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

30-31 January             Sheffield Fly DSA Arena                                0114 256 5656

(Wednesday 30th at 7.30pm, Thursday 31st at 7.30pm)

1-3 February               Glasgow The SSE Hydro                                0844 395 4000

(Friday 1st at 7.30pm, Saturday 2nd at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 3rd at 1.30pm)

5-6 February               Nottingham Motorpoint Arena                   0843 373 3000 

(Tuesday 5th at 7.30pm, Wednesday 6th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

7-8 February               London The SSE Arena Wembley                0844 815 0815

(Thursday 7th at 7.30pm, Friday 8th at 7.30pm)

9-10 February             London The O2 Arena                                    0844 856 0202

(Saturday 9th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 10th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)        

Tickets: £35 – £65 (bands venue dependent) 

All ticket prices are subject to a booking fee and may be subject to a venue facility fee


To book tickets please contact the venue or call 0844 875 8758

For more information and to book tickets, visit:

Twitter: SCD_Live_Tour

Facebook: @strictlylive

STRICTLY COME DANCING THE LIVE TOUR is produced by Stage Entertainment UK and Phil McIntyre Entertainments, in association with BBC.



From Monday 3 to Sunday 9 December 2018, National Lottery-funded heritage attractions are saying #ThanksToYou to National Lottery players by offering free entry, treats or discounts at hundreds of UK-Based National Lottery funded visitor’s attractions, and sport, arts and community projects.


Leeds Grand Theatre will be saying #ThanksToYou by giving away 140th birthday branded Tote bags*, whilst Hyde Park Picture House (HPPH) will be giving away a free hot drink and an original HPPH Christmas card designed by Yorkshire artist Kristyna Baczynski.


The idea is simple; any visitor who presents a National Lottery ticket or scratchcard between Monday 3 to Saturday 8 December at Leeds Grand Theatre Box Office can claim a bag. Similarly, anybody presenting a National Lottery ticket or scratchcard between Monday 3 to Saturday 8 December at HPPH will receive a free hot drink and a card (T&C’s apply. For full details visit


Leeds Grand Theatre received funding from the Heritage Lottery fund to undertake major restoration work on the grade II* listed Victorian theatre and to create a major base for the arts in the north of England by improving both backstage and front of house areas, including installing a state of the art computer-controlled system for flying scenery, improved seating and acoustics for audiences, and easier access for the disabled.


Hyde Park Picture House has recently received backing from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for The Picture House Project. The £3.6m project received £122k development funding from HLF in 2016, which has allowed the organisation to progress plans for a full National Lottery Grant application which is due to be reviewed this December. If successful, work on The Picture House Project will begin in 2019, helping to protect and preserve the historic cinema, whilst making the building more sustainable, comfortable and accessible. For further information on this exciting project, please visit

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “December is a wonderful time to experience the UK’s rich, diverse and exciting heritage, which has been transformed by more than £7.8bn National Lottery funding since 1994.  This is a small gesture of thanks and a way of giving something back to the people who buy tickets.”


* Numbers are limited.


The Royal Shakespeare Company announces new Miss Trunchbull for the UK & Ireland Tour of Matilda The Musical



The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced that Elliot Harper will play Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical’s UK and Ireland Tour from Tuesday 15 January at Theatre Royal Plymouth. The tour will then play at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (19 February – 23 March 2019), Edinburgh Playhouse (2 – 27 April 2019), The Bristol Hippodrome (7 May – 8 June 2019), Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (11 June – 6 July 2019) and Norwich Theatre Royal (16 July – 17 August 2019). The West End production will continue to play at the Cambridge Theatre, where it is now in its eighth year and is booking until 24 May 2020.

Carly Thoms (Miss Honey) and Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill (Mr and Mrs Wormwood) will continue in their roles until the tour concludes its run at Norwich Theatre Royal on 17 August 2019.

Elliot Harper’s West End theatre credits include Father Joe in The Exorcist at the Phoenix Theatre, Matilda The Musical (Cambridge Theatre), One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre), Les Misérables (Queens Theatre) and The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre). Other theatre credits include Sweet Charity (Watermill), A Study In Scarlet (Southwark Playhouse), The Silver Tassie (Druid/Lincoln Center NY), Rope, Arsenic and Old Lace (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), The Big Sleep (The Mill At Sonning), As You Like It, Deathtrap, The Taming of the Shrew, The Talented Mr Ripley and Travels with my Aunt (Queens Theatre, Hornchurch), and the UK touring productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Buddy Holly Story. Harper’s film and television credits include Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats (Tiger Aspect), Showroom, which was a winning film at SXSW Film Festival, and The Egg, Masters of the Universe (Asalva Productions).

The full adult cast includes Richard AstburyJoe AtkinsonNina Bell, Peter BindlossOliver Bingham, Emily Bull, Samara Casteallo, Matthew Caputo, Matt Gillett, Michelle Chantelle Hopewell, Sam Lathwood, Steffan Lloyd-Evans, Charlie Martin, Tom Mather, Anu OgunmefunCarly Thoms, Rebecca ThornhillSebastien TorkiaAdam Vaughan andDawn Williams.

The role of Matilda is shared by Sophia Ally, Scarlett CecilAnnalise Bradbury, Poppy Jones, Emma Moore and Nicola Turner. The other young performers in the UK and Ireland Tour in the three teams who play the roles of Bruce, Lavender, Amanda and the rest of the pupils at Crunchem Hall and are as follows: Evie Allen, Louella Asante-Owusu, Joseph Black, Georgia Mae Brown, Isobelle Chalmers, Jessica Chalmers, Madeline Gilby, Sheldon Golding, Cuba Kamanu, Tom Lomas, Adam Lord, Maddison Lowe, Ilan Miller, Felicity Mitson, Toby Mocrei, Ashton Murphy, Joely Robertson, Ruaridh Sinnott, Kit Swaddling, Chantelle Tonolete, Harrison Wilding and Harry Wilson.

Matilda The Musical is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and developed and directed by Matthew Warchus. The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.

Matilda The Musical has now been seen by 8 million people worldwide, having toured to over 68 cities and played more than 6000 performances in the West End, on Broadway and on tour across North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Matilda The Musical had its first non-English language production at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, South Korea in September 2018.

Inspired by the incomparable Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews. The New York production of Matilda The Musical opened in April 2013 at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre and was celebrated on 10 “Top Ten” lists for 2013, including TIME Magazine’s #1 Show of the Year.

Matilda The Musical swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway.

The North America production toured 52 cities. The Australian and New Zealand production won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, and played sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland. The show broke further records in July 2016 by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated.

Matilda The Musical is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company with André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood as Executive Producers. The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.


Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff / Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru
Tuesday 4 December 2018 – Saturday 12 January 2019
Box Office: 029 2063 6464

Theatre Royal Plymouth
Tuesday 15 January – Saturday 16 February 2019
Box Office: 01752 267 222

The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Tuesday 19 February – Saturday 23 March 2019
Box Office: 01274 432 000

Edinburgh Playhouse
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 27 April 2019
Box Office: 0844 871 3014*

The Bristol Hippodrome
Tuesday 7 May – Saturday 8 June 2019
Box Office: 0844 871 3012*

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Tuesday 11 June – Saturday 6 July 2019
Box Office: 02380 711 811

Norwich Theatre Royal
Tuesday 16 July – Saturday 17 August 2019
Box Office: 01603 630 000

* Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
** Calls cost 4.5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.


Cambridge Theatre
Earlham Street
London WC2H 9HU
Tuesday – Friday 7pm
Wednesday 2pm
Saturday 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sundays 3pm

Box Office: Cambridge Theatre 020 7087 7745 / RSC Ticket Hotline 01789 331111
No booking fee.

Booking until 24 May 2020

Twitter: @MatildaMusical
Facebook: @MatildaTheMusical
Instagram: @MatildaTheMusical

Cast announced for Atticist’s Outlying Islands by David Greig at King’s Head Theatre

The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN
Wednesday 9th January – Saturday 2nd February 2019

Award-winning Atticist have announced the stellar cast who will bring to life Outlying Islands this January – a revival of Scottish playwright David Greig’s powerful play, not seen in London since 2002.

Rose Wardlaw (Eyam and The Winter’s Tale, Globe Theatre; Jubilee, Royal Exchange Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith; Call The Midwife), Ken Drury (King Lear and The Crucible, National Theatre; The Woman in Black, West End; Black Mirror), Jack McMillan (The Hard Man, Finborough Theatre; Vieux Carre, King’s Head Theatre; Blue Boy, Northern Stage) and Tom Machell (Life According To Saki, Atticist Off-Broadway at New York’s 4th Street Theatre; zazU, Soho Theatre; Every Blank Ever, Comedy Central) will be directed by Jessica Lazar in this production that demonstrates the lyricism and humanity that has made Greig one of the UK’s leading dramatists.

Director Jessica Lazar comments, I’m really looking forward to getting into the rehearsal room and starting work on Outlying Islands with Ken, Jack, Rose, and Tom. They share a depth, comedy, and imagination in their performance, and an immediate complicity that crackles with excitement. For me, they feel like the perfect ensemble to take on the wild range of this remarkable play

On the eve of the outbreak of World War II, two young ornithologists are sent to a remote Scottish Island by the government to conduct a survey of the island’s birds. Left to their own devices on an isolated and windswept scrap of land, the only other human inhabitants are Kirk, the aged and authoritarian leaseholder, and his niece Ellen. As their gaze turns inwards, the mainland recedes further into the distance and life on the island ignites desires and creates inescapable tensions.

Transporting us to a world where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred, David Greig’s funny, poetic and moving play bravely explores a society on the edge of immense change.

Outlying Islands is inspired by real events, including Robert Atkinson and John Ainslie’s 1935 search for the Leach’s Fork-Tailed Petrel, as recorded in Atkinson’s Island Going. The play also reflects on the the British government’s decision to bomb an Island off the west coast of Scotland with anthrax during World War II, in order to test the efficacy of chemical weapons. Gruinard Island was closed for 50 years and only ‘decontaminated’ in 1990.