Mediaeval Baebes 25th Anniversary Concert Review

The Actors’ Church, Covent Garden, London, 28th-29th May 2021

Reviewed by Antonia Hebbert

4 ****

Real people, really singing and playing instruments in real life! What a cheery, happy occasion this was. Mediaeval Baebes are celebrating 25 years of early music and folk, in several languages old and new, which they rework to make a unique, intriguing sound.

Lead arranger is Katharine Blake, one of the group of friends who started the Baebes in 1996. Apparently they broke into a cemetery for a weird spooky singsong in a thunderstorm, and things went from there, including Emmy nominations, world tours, and working with artists from Michael Flatley to Iggy Pop. Their latest album is Prayers of the Rosary. An essential part of the sound comes from the use of medieval and folk instruments which combine with the singing to produce strange and gorgeous harmonies (besides having lovely names – anyone for a hurdy-gurdy, dulcimer or viola da gamba?).

All that said, this was a relaxed, low-key affair – the singers just seemed to be enjoying performing to a live audience and trying things out. Some of the singing and movement was a touch hesitant. The Baebes are known for producing an ethereal, silvery sound, but for me the evening really took off when they let rip, with Josephine Ravenheart’s percussive dancing on the spot, a gorgeous, haunting solo by Katharine Blake, and the moment when Fiona Fey finally gave us a blast of her strong, soaring soprano.

Othello – National Youth Theatre Rep Company Review

Royal and Derngate Theatre, Northampton – until Saturday 29 May 2021

Reviewed by Megan Raynor

3.5 ***

Credit and copyright: Helen Murray www.helenmurrayphotos.com helen@helenmurrayphotos.com

Following their run of Animal Farm last week, the NYT Rep Company were back with a new revival of Shakespeare’s Othello – Abridged by Dzifa Benson and directed by Miranda Cromwell.

Club Cyrus. Manchester. 1991. Othello (Francesca Amewudah-Rivers) and Desdemona (Alexandra Hannant) have made their wedding vows, an act of both devoted love and defiance – defiance against Desdemona’s father and against complying to a society built on heteronormativity and systemic racism. Set over the course of one very messy night, bouncer Iago (Connor Crawford) begins to plant the seed (and the substances) of paranoia, puppet master of the night – manipulating an evening of violence and vengeance.

I’m a big believer that ruffled collared RP Shakespeare often creates a disconnect and inaccessibility to Shakepseare’s work and this felt like a refreshingly accessible portrayal. The rave setting was an incredibly strong choice, with both the playful choices of the dreaded club queue and the cloakroom havoc along with the sense of heat and claustrophobia distorting the character’s sense of morality and rationality. The adaptation of sections of the original text to live song served as a soundtrack to the piece (Composing and Musical Direction by Renell Shaw), again adding a new life and tonality to the text and bringing a new energy.

A female Othello again should not be revolutionary in 2021 but it is always so invigorating to hear the words not long since reserved for the mouths of men be taken and owned by the women of theatre. This choice added a new a dimension, the stakes were raised for the couple in question, they had to fight even harder against the perceived illegitimacy of their relationship – both with the perceived ideas of inter-racial couples and of queerness.

The chorus served as a constant beat and energy, creating a backdrop of bodies swept up in the music and the hypnotic nature of the evening. They also acted as an echo for duplicity of Iago, a soundscape of deception. A strong choice to portray Othello’s fraying psyche but was repeated so frequently it lost its impact. As a whole I felt many of the creative decisions were right but just utilised a little too repetitively. Visually I felt similar, my sense were not heightened in the same way that the company’s production of Animal Farm achieved.

Some of the choices felt a little over stylised to the point of airing on cliched, I was sucked out of the intensity each time the deceased character arose to standing, likewise when the blood of Desdemona appeared in the form of a red cannon of confetti. For such a seemingly forward-thinking piece I couldn’t help but feeling that moments such as these jarred with the dynamic and progressive essence of the piece.

It was a bold interpretation of Othello which disturbingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, still mirrors the streets, clubs and the societal structures right outside our doors – taken on by a powerhouse of a cast.

Othello and Animal Farm will continue their run to The Workshop Theatre (2nd -12th June), Soulton Hall (10th -13th June) and Bolsover Castle (23rd-26th June).

Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly at the White Bear Theatre!

Luck Be a Lady
June 29th – July 3rd, White Bear Theatre

“Behind every successful man is a strong woman”

Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra dominated the stage and screen in the mid 20th century. But beside and behind these golden gentlemen were a plethora of powerful women who enabled their success. From irreplaceable dance partners to influential lovers, Fred, Gene and Frank did not do it alone.

★★★★ “Burrows gives an exceptional performance… This is a well thought out, eye-opening tribute to three legends of Old Hollywood” The Spy in the Stalls, Sirens of the Silver Screen

OFFIE-nominee Beth Burrows celebrates the men’s careers by performing the songs that made them shine and sharing the inside scoop on the stories that swirled around them, whilst bringing the women out of the shadows and into the spotlight. This is the sequel to Sirens of the Silver Screen, Beth Burrows’ critically-acclaimed show about the lives of Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, which Beth performed at London’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse and Tabard theatres, as well as aboard the ships of Seabourn Cruise Line.

★★★★ “Gorgeous vocals, stunning stories and tremendously entertaining” London Pub Theatres, Sirens of the Silver Screen

Director Mark Giesser has written, produced and directed numerous Equity Off-West End and Off-Broadway shows. His writing work includes satirical drama (Good Morning, Alamo!) and comedy (Code of the West and How To Build a Better Tulip), and he has directed productions such as the UK premiere of Alan Alda’s drama Radiance, and the 60th anniversary revival of the original stage play of Gigi. He directed Beth Burrows in Sirens of the Silver ScreenThe Lady With a DogStrike Up the Band, and Once Upon A Mattress. He will soon be directing Call Me Madam at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, originally planned pre-pandemic and now to be staged in Autumn 2021.

★★★★ “An accomplished and well executed piece of musical theatre which has a charm and delicate sophistication to it that warrants a firm thumbs up – stylish entertainment” Boyz, Sirens of the Silver Screen

PRINCIPAL CASTING IS UNVEILED FOR THE WILDEST SHOW IN TOWN CHRISTINA BENNINGTON, JORDAN LUKE GAGE, JODIE STEELE, BOBBIE LITTLE & FRANCES MAYLI McCANN STAR IN THE WEST END RETURN OF HEATHERS THE MUSICAL OPENING AT THE THEATRE ROYAL HAYMARKET FROM 21 JUNE

PRINCIPAL CASTING IS UNVEILED FOR THE WILDEST SHOW IN TOWN…

CHRISTINA BENNINGTONJORDAN LUKE GAGEJODIE STEELE,

BOBBIE LITTLE & FRANCES MAYLI McCANN

STAR IN THE WEST END RETURN OF

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OPENING AT THE THEATRE ROYAL HAYMARKET

FROM 21 JUNE – 11 SEPTEMBER 2021

Greetings, salutations and welcome to the West End 2021 class of Westerberg High!

Leading the cast in the highly celebrated return of Heathers the Musical in the West End is Christina Bennington (Bat Out Of Hell) in the role of high school geek Veronica Sawyer and Jordan Luke Gage (& Juliet) as the dark and moody teen, Jason Dean (JD).

In the eponymous roles of ‘The Heathers’ is returning cast member Jodie Steele (Six) with her critically acclaimed portrayal of ‘mega bitch’ Heather Chandler, alongside Bobbie Little (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Heather Duke and Frances Mayli McCann (Evita) as Heather McNamara.

They are joined by Lauren Ward (Fleming/Veronica’s Mother), Madison Swan (Martha), Simon Bailey (Ram’s Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach), Joaquin Pedro Valdes (Ram Sweeney) and Steven Serlin (Kurt’s Dad/Veronica’s Dad/Principle Gowan).

Produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills, this high-octane black-comedy rock musical, based on one of the greatest cult teen films of all time, starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, is back with a bang! It will return to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a strictly limited 12 week season from 21 June – 11 September 2021.

Further casting for the West End run will be announced in due course.

Westerberg High’s Veronica Sawyer is just another nobody dreaming of a better day. But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity may finally come true. Mysterious teen rebel JD teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody.

The award-winning writing team, Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy’s hit musical adaptation enjoyed successful runs in Los Angeles and New York; the UK productions are directed by acclaimed its original off-Broadway director, Andy Fickman. Choreography is by Thriller Live’s Gary Lloyd, design by David Shields, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound by Dan Samson.

Heathers the Musical previously enjoyed two record-breaking seasons, launching at London’s The Other Palace and transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2018. In parallel to the show’s return to the West End, the musical will also embark on its first tour of the UK and Ireland, in a separate production and cast,  opening at Leeds Grand Theatre on 28 July 2021.

Jennifer Saunders returns to BLITHE SPIRIT in West End from 16 September

JENNIFER SAUNDERS RETURNS TO THE
WEST END PRODUCTION OF NOËL COWARD’S CLASSIC COMEDY

BLITHE SPIRIT

DIRECTED BY SIR RICHARD EYRE

HAROLD PINTER THEATRE
16 SEPTEMBER – 6 NOVEMBER 2021

Tickets on sale from 12pm on Friday 28 May via www.atgtickets.com

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Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Lee Dean and Jonathan Church Theatre Productions are delighted to announce the West End return of Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit, directed by Sir Richard Eyre andstarring Jennifer Saunders.

After celebrating a sell-out run at Theatre Royal Bath as part of its 2019 Summer season, a UK tour and a short run in London of just 12 performances before the country’s first lockdown curtailed its six-week run at the Duke of York’s Theatre in March 2020, this production now returns to the West End for 8weeks from Thursday 16  September at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

Jennifer Saunders, one of the UK’s most popular comic actors, will revive her role as the preposterous clairvoyant Madame Arcati. She is joined by original cast members Geoffrey Streatfeild who will star as Charles Condomine, Lisa Dillon as Ruth Condomine, Simon Coates as Dr Bradman, Lucy Robinson as Mrs Bradman, and Rose Wardlaw as Edith. The production brings together adistinguished and multi-award-winning creative team, directed by former National Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre with design by Anthony Ward, lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by John Leonard and illusions by Paul Kieve.

Written in 1941, Coward’s inventive, witty and meticulously engineered comedy proved light relief and a popular distraction at the height of World War II when it was first staged. The show had a record-breaking run in the West End and on Broadway and remains one of the playwright’s most popular works.

Novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth are literally haunted by a past relationship when an eccentric medium inadvertently conjures up the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, at a séance. When she appears, visible only to Charles, and determined to sabotage his current marriage, life – and the afterlife – get complicated.

Noël Coward was an English playwright, composer, actor, producer and director. His dramas include Hay Fever and Private Lives. Forfilmhewrote and directed the Academy Award-winning In Which We Serve and the screenplay for Brief Encounter.

Jennifer Saunders is well known as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders, for which she and Dawn French received a BAFTA fellowship in 2009, and for the hit comedy series and subsequent film, Absolutely Fabulous, which she also wrote and starred in. She has received numerous awards including two Emmys, five BAFTAs and four British Comedy Awards.

Geoffrey Streatfeild has appeared on TV in Spooks, The Hollow Crown, The Thick of It and The Other Boleyn Girl, and on film in Making Noise Quietly, The Lady in the Van, Kinky Boots and A Royal Night Out. Stage credits include the Histories Cycle (RSC), Cell Mates (Hampstead), The Beaux Stratagem (National Theatre) and My Night with Reg (Donmar).

Lisa Dillon starred as Mary Smith in the BBC series Cranford. Her stage credits include Richard Eyre’s Private Lives in the West End,the RSC’s The Roaring Girl and The Taming of the Shrew, A Flea in Her Ear and Design for Living at the Old Vic and The Knot of the Heart and When the Rain Stops Falling at the Almeida.

Simon Coates’s stage credits include Richard III (Almeida), 1984 (West End), The Cherry Orchard (Royal Exchange, Bristol Old Vic), King John (Shakespeare’s Globe). He has also toured the UK with Regeneration, The Misanthrope, Romeo & Juliet and The Hypochondriac.

Lucy Robinson’s stage credits include Waste, The Hard Problem (National Theatre), Handbagged (Vaudeville), Sweet Bird of Youth (Old Vic), In the Next Room (Theatre Royal Bath). Her many TV credits include Cold Feet, Coronation StreetCall the Midwife, Doc Martin, Doctor and Pride and Prejudice.

Rose Wardlaw recently performed in Outlying Islands at the King’s Head. She has previously appeared in Eyam, The Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe), Jubilee (Lyric Hammersmith) and Great Expectations (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and, for television, Call the Midwife and Doctors.

Sir Richard Eyre was at the helm of the National Theatre for 10 years and is the winner of five Olivier Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award. His numerous hugely-acclaimed productions include Guys and DollsThe Invention of Love and Private Lives. His award-winning film and television work includes Iris, Tumbledown and The Children Act.

Anthony Ward has designed numerous productions including the Tony Award-winning Mary Stuart, the Olivier Award-winning Oklahoma! and What’s on Stage Award winner Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Howard Harrison is a two-times Olivier Award-winning lighting designer whose recent works include Impossible and Mamma Mia! (London, Broadway and worldwide).

John Leonard is an award-winning sound designer and has worked extensively across the UK including at the National Theatre, Almeida, Royal Court, Chichester Festival Theatre, Birmingham Rep and Manchester Royal Exchange.

Paul Kieve is an internationally renowned illusionist whose recent theatre credits include Matilda (West End and UK tour) and Groundhog Day (Broadway). He is the co-creator of David Blaine Live and Dynamo’s international tour and consultant on the live shows for David Copperfield, Penn & Teller in Las Vegas and Derren Brown.

Blithe Spirit is presented by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Lee Dean and Jonathan Church Theatre Productions.

LISTINGS

Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Lee Dean and Jonathan Church Theatre Productions present

BLITHE SPIRIT
By Noël Coward
Directed by Richard Eyre
Designed by Anthony Ward
Lighting Design by Howard Harrison

Harold Pinter Theatre
Panton St, London SW1Y 4DN  

Thursday 16 September to Saturday 6 November 2021

Box Office:  0844 871 7615*
*calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

Website www.atgtickets.com 

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and The Theatre Channel collaborate | Episode 7, available 18 June 2021

Adam Blanshay Productions, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
and The Theatre Café
The Theatre Channel collaborates with Regent’s
Park Open Air Theatre for Episode 7
New episode streaming from Friday 18th June 2021

Hot on the heels of their acclaimed Showstoppers episode, Adam Blanshay Productions’ renowned The Theatre Channel is back with a jam-packed Rodgers and Hammerstein special. Embracing the return of live theatre, the episode is a co-production with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre ahead of their unique take on the classic Carousel this summer.

This brand new partnership will feature an exclusive sneak peek into the making of the upcoming production of Carousel, including behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage with Natasha May Thomas and choreographer Drew McOnie. This al fresco hit tells a tragic tale with songs that will stay with you for a lifetime.

The episode will be brought to life by two time Olivier Award-nominee Michael Xavier (Sunset Boulevard (West End & Broadway); Into The Woods; The Sound Of Music; Oklahoma!; The Phantom Of The Opera; Pajama Game), three time Olivier Award-nominee Josefina Gabrielle (Oklahoma! (West End & Broadway); King and I; Merrily We Roll Along; Sweet Charity) and Helen Hayes Award-winner Caroline Sheen (Mary Poppins; 9 to 5; The Witches of Eastwick; Les Misérables).

Further casting includes Daniel Koek – one of the youngest men to play the title role of Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Misérables – and Amara Okereke (Winner of ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ at the Stage Debut Awards 2018 for the role of Cosette in Les Misérables).

The Theatre Channel is also thrilled to be able to provide a platform and highlight the talents of recent ArtsEd graduates Ethlinn Rose and Tavio Wright.

Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Timothy Sheader, comments, As Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre prepares to open for our 89th season, we are looking forward to welcoming our audiences back. Moreover, we applaud all of the digital theatre content that has been created over the past 18 months and recognise, that going forward, digital platforms will be synonymous with the outreach of live theatre. We are delighted to partner with The Theatre Channel in their exploration of Rodgers and Hammerstein and are excited to share an insight into our upcoming revival of Carousel.

The cast will once again be joined by resident ensemble ‘The New Café Five,’ comprised of Anthony Starr (Guys & Dolls, Sheffield Crucible), Danny Becker (The Prince Of Egypt, Dominion Theatre), Kayleigh Thadani (Disney’s Aladdin, Prince Edward Theatre), M-Jae Cleopatra Isaac (Billy Elliot, Victoria Palace) and Vicki Lee Taylor (A Chorus Line, London Palladium).

Recently released episode 6, entitled ‘Showstoppers’, featured major West End talent including Danny Mac (Sunset Boulevard; Pretty Woman The Musical), Kerry Ellis (Wicked; We Will Rock You), and Layton Williams (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; RENT). It also included an extra special exclusive interview with Academy Award and Tony nominee Antonio Banderas with details about his acclaimed revival of A Chorus Line.

Combining the thrill of stage and screen for an episodic musical revue of beloved classics, The Theatre Channel is an up close and intimate experience from the comfort of your home.

Producer Adam Blanshay comments, Episode 7: Rodgers and Hammerstein is our first of several writer-themed episodes to come. We’re excited to explore this cherished songbook that paved the way for generations of musicals, which includes some old favorites and hidden gems. Moreover, as theatres start to reopen in the UK, The Theatre Channel are delighted to partner with one of my most favorites theatres, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Nothing can compare to a glorious summer evening at the Open Air, and in addition to this beautiful music, we’re thrilled to give our viewers a behind-the-scenes insight into their upcoming summer production of Carousel

Previous episodes (1 – 6) of The Theatre Channel are available to purchase at Stream.Theatre to watch at your leisure.

Cheshire’s Bowdonbury Festival Takes Place This Weekend With New Additions And Glorious Sunshine Guaranteed

BOWDONBURY FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE THIS BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND!

Giant LED Screen To Show Champions League Match and Doors Open Earlier At 2pm

Festivals are back and this weekend the brilliant Bowdonbury Festival will be one of the first in the country to welcome visitors and the forecast is glorious sunshine!

Final preparations are now being made for the two day event of fantastic family fun which is being held at the Bowdon Cricket, Hockey & Squash Club at Altrincham this weekend.  The organisers have also installed a giant LED screen which will show the Champions League Match and doors will open even earlier at 2pm to allow further social distancing to take place, avoiding any queues.

This weekend on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 May, festivalgoers are promised a weekend of top tunes from some of the UK’s leading tribute artists, along with additional attractions added for all ages. a range of refreshments from some of the finest of the local food and drink scene – all presented in a relaxed and Covid-safe environment. The event also features a traditional funfair with rides of all sizes for both children and also adults to enjoy.

At 8pm on Saturday, festivalgoers can watch the Champions League Match between Man City and Chelsea live on a giant 16m2 LED screen and there is even a replica of the Champions League Trophy to get your photograph taken with.

A fabulous foodie village will be packed with delights delivered by a host of local favourites including Vitos Pizza Kitchen from Hale and Banksy’s famous food truck. And there will also be a wide selection of pop-up bars featuring everything from specialist local beer to craft gin and cocktails.

And festivalgoers will also be able to browse at pop up stalls run by local businesses.

Along with the general entry tickets and weekend passes, new VIP upgrade tickets have also now gone on sale on the Bowdonbury Festival website.

VIP ticketholders have access to the pavilion and exclusive use of a raised viewing platform from which to enjoy the stellar line-up of award-winning live performers, along with a premium bar featuring waitress service at your table and the use of indoor toilet facilities.

The Bowdonbury Festival opens on 29 May with Disco Legends, featuring acclaimed tributes to George Michael, Diana Ross and The Bee Gees.

Andrew Browning, previous Stars in their Eyes finalist and sought-after star of the international touring theatre show Fast Love, is Europe’s leading George Michael tribute artist.

He will be joined by the award-winning Tameka Jackson who will captivate listeners with her performance as Motown royalty Diana Ross, and by The Bootleg Bee Gees who have entertained audiences across the UK Europe with their faultless performance as the Gibb brothers.

The three tribute headliners will be joined by support acts Le Freak Band and Radio Alty DJ Pete Scotson for a Saturday night which promises to be filled with disco hits and fan favourites.

The festival continues on 30 May with a Groovy 60s line-up which includes The Pretend Beatles, critically acclaimed Maxine Mazumder as Dusty Springfield and the award-winning Dave Collison as Roy Orbison.

The Pretend Beatles’ live show features lavish costumes, authentic instruments and special effects as well as many of the Fab Four’s greatest hits from Twist and Shout to Ticket to Ride and A Hard Day’s Night to All You Need Is Love.

The Sunday night line-up continues with award-winning Maxine Mazumder who is famous for her incredible performance as Dusty Springfield which has earned her the title of the UK’s Number One tribute to the music icon from the National Tribute Awards.

Meanwhile Dave Collison is the UK’s most authentic Roy Orbison tribute, and has been touring the world for more than quarter of a century celebrating Orbison’s classic catalogue from 24 Hours to Tulsa and Only the Lonely to Oh, Pretty Woman.

The new Bowdonbury Festival is being organised by Max Eden and will raise money for the Bowdon Cricket, Hockey and Squash Club after its main fundraising event, Bowdon Bonfire, had to be cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions.

Benchmark Security Group is sponsoring the festival. 

Max Eden said: “Festivals are back and we are ready to entertain audiences at Bowdonbury this weekend, the weather forecast predicts glorious sunshine we are officially one of the first to be held in the country following the Government’s announcement lifting many lockdown restrictions.

“We’ve got a great line up of talent to entertain people over the Bank Holiday weekend, and plenty for families to enjoy throughout the day and evening with a real emphasis on supporting the superb local and regional food and drink scene and other businesses, along with the best place to watch the Champions League match.

“Proceeds from the festival will go towards boosting the fundraising efforts of Bowdon Cricket, Hockey & Squash Club. I’m absolutely delighted to help to support the club and the important role it plays at the heart of the community.”

Special care has been taken to ensure Bowdonbury Festival can operate in a Covid-safe way with a large socially distanced outdoor site, reduced capacity and additional facilities and access to ensure festivalgoers can enjoy the event safely and in line with Government restrictions set for May 2021.

Tickets are limited to ensure social distancing can be maximised are available to purchase in advance only from www.Bowdonbury.co.uk

VENUE INFORMATION

BOWDON CRICKET, HOCKEY AND SQUASH CLUB

5 Downs Road,

Bowdon,

Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 3DT

FESTIVAL DETAILS

SATURDAY 29 MAY 2021

Disco Legends

Gates: 2pm / Finish: 9.30pm

Featuring: Tameka Jackson as Diana Ross

The Bootleg Bee Gees

Andrew Browning as George Michael

Le Freak Party Band

DJ Pete Scotson

SUNDAY 30 May 2021

Groovy 60s

Gates: 2pm / Finish: 9.30pm

Featuring: The Pretend Beatles

Maxine Mazumder as Dusty Springfield

Dave Collison as Roy Orbison

+ Support Act

TICKET PRICES

Per Night: £30 Adult / £10 Under 16 /£70 Family (2 Adults + up to 3 Children)

Weekend Passes: £50 Adult / £18 Under 16 / £120 Family (2 Adults + up to 3 Children)

VIP ticket upgrade: £40 each

Available from the website: www.Bowdonbury.co.uk

Johannes Radebe 2022 Tour Announced

JOHANNES RADEBE: FREEDOM

UK TOUR TO OPEN 16 MARCH 2022

TV dancing sensation and international champion Johannes Radebe is thrilled to be presenting his first UK Tour, Johannes Radebe: Freedom, which will open on 16 March and run through to 1 May 2022.

Johannes Radebe: Freedom is a celebration of music and dance, from African fusion to fiery Latin, classic dance arrangements and huge party anthems, with a company of exciting dancers.

Johannes will take the audience on his personal journey, from growing up in South Africa, to travelling the world, winning titles and starring in Strictly Come Dancing.

Born in the township Zamdela Sasolburg, South Africa, Johannes Radebe started dancing when he was seven.  He was fascinated by the discipline and the glamour of Ballroom and Latin.  Over the next 13 years, Johannes competed in local competitions, climbing up the Latin ranks with top honours, and eventually adding Ballroom and other dance styles, such as African Contemporary and Jazz. He became a finalist at national dance competitions and received an invitation to compete internationally in St Petersburg, Russia.


At the age of 21, Johannes left South Africa to work on the internationally renowned Italian cruise liner Costa.  Persistence and experience saw this young, vibrant South African given more responsibilities including choreographing, teaching new dancers, and then eventually being promoted to Dance Captain.  In 2018, he was invited to join the debut season of the international hit show, Dancing With The Stars, in South Africa.


Johannes toured the world in the international dance show Burn The Floor before being headhunted by Strictly Come Dancing.  He moved to the UK to dance on the flagship BBC show.  In his second series, he was partnered with Catherine Tyldesley and danced the first same-sex routine with fellow Strictly star Graziano Di Prima.  In 2020, he danced with Caroline Quentin and reached week seven in a shorter BAFTA-nominated season.  He will return to the ballroom for his fourth series in September.

The UK Tour of Johannes Radebe: Freedom is presented by ROYO.

Website: johannes-live.com 

Instagram: @johannesradebe
Twitter: @jojo_radebe:

2022 TOUR SCHEDULE

16 March                  Bridlington Spa                                    01262 678258

                                 www.bridspa.com                                  on sale

17 March                  Nottingham Royal Concert Hall             0115 989 5555                                 

                                         www.trch.co.uk                                       on sale

18 March                  Ipswich Regent Theatre

                                 ipswichtheatres.co.uk                              on sale

19 March                  Northampton Royal & Derngate             01604 624811                                                                                                                                             www.royalandderngate.co.uk                   on sale soon

20 March                  Newcastle Theatre Royal                        08448 11 21 21 

                                 www.theatreroyal.co.uk                            on sale 4 June

22 March                  Barnstaple Queen’s Theatre                    

                                 www.queenstheatre-barnstaple.com        on sale

23 March                  Guildford G Live             

                                 glive.co.uk                                                 on sale

26 March                  Peterborough New Theatre

                                 newtheatre-peterborough.com                  on sale

27 March                  Southend Cliffs Pavilion                           01702 351135

                                 southendtheatres.org.uk                           on sale

30 March                  Bromley Churchill Theatre                        020 3285 6000                                 

                                         www.churchilltheatre.co.uk                        on sale

03 April                     Sheffield City Hall           

                                 www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk                         on sale

06 April                     Manchester Opera House                         0844 871 7615*

                                 www.atgtickets.com/venues/opera-house-manchester   on sale

07 April                     Poole Lighthouse                                       01202 280000

                                 www.lighthousepoole.co.uk                        on sale 4 June

08 April                     Dartford Orchard Theatre                          01322 220000

                                 orchardtheatre.co.uk                                  on sale

09 April                     Bradford St George’s Hall                           01274 432000

                                 www.bradford-theatres.co.uk/venues/st-georges-hall      on sale

10 April                     Birmingham The Alexandra                        0844 871 7615*

                                 www.atgtickets.com/birmingham                  on sale

12 April                     York Grand Opera House                            0844 871 7615*

                                 www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york    on sale

15 April                     Aberdeen Music Hall      

                                 aberdeenperformingarts.com                       on sale

16 April                     Glasgow SEC Armadillo

                                 www.sec.co.uk www.sec.co.uk                     on sale

17 April                     Edinburgh King’s Theatre                            0131 529 6000

                                 www.capitaltheatres.com                              on sale

21 April                     Grimsby Auditorium                                      0300 300 0035

                                 grimsbyauditorium.org.uk                              on sale

22 April                     Carlisle The Sands Centre                           0333 33 55055

                                 www.thesandscentre.co.uk                            on sale

23 April                     Hull City Hall                                                 01482 300 306

                                 www.hulltheatres.co.uk                                 on sale

24 April                     Llandudno Venue Cymru                             01492 872000

                                 www.venuecymru.co.uk                                 on sale

25 April                     Cardiff St David’s Hall                                  07743 839816

                                 www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk                       on sale

26 April                     Blackpool Winter Gardens                           0844 856 1111

                                 www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk              on sale

27 April                     Torquay Princess Theatre                            0844 871 7615*

                                 www.atgtickets.com/venues/princess-theatre-torquay        on sale

29 April                     New Brighton Floral Pavilion                        0151 666 0000

                                 www.floralpavilion.com                                  on sale

30 April                     Bath The Forum                                             0844 888 9991*

                                 www.bathforum.co.uk                                     on sale

01 May                     Canterbury Marlowe Theatre                         01227 787787

                                 www.marlowetheatre.com                               on sale soon

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

Further dates to be added.

Darlington Hippodrome Youth Dance group

HIPPODROME’S YOUTH DANCERS FLYING THE FLAG FOR THE NORTH EAST

Members of Darlington Hippodrome’s Youth Dance company have been selected to represent the North East region as part of an online national showcase at the U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival 2021.

Darlington Hippodrome’s 14+ Contemporary Dance group has been selected as one of two regional finalists to represent the North East in the U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival for 2021. Presented by One Dance UK, the U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival invites youth dance groups selected from U.Dance Regional Platforms to experience a summer celebration of dance. Having reached the regional finals at Dance City for several years, Darlington Hippodrome’s Youth Dance Company are thrilled to be selected to represent their region at the national final for the first time.

Due to the Covid pandemic the competition has had a different format in 2021, with the whole festival taking place online and groups being invited to submit a film of their chosen dance. Darlington Hippodrome engaged with Dave Allinson, a local film-maker to work alongside group leader and choreographer Debbie Harbin from The D Project Dance Company to create a dance piece called Textured Reality.

The piece was inspired by discussions with the dancers about their experiences through the first lockdown. Working face to face where possible and online where necessary, the piece evolved over time and focuses on the different layers of reality the group had to face during periods of isolation.

Lyndsey Middleton, Darlington Hippodrome’s Audience Development and Participation Officer said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been chosen to represent the region at this exciting national event. Whilst lookdown has been a challenge for our young people, we were keen for them to still have access to the best possible dance opportunities, as well as being able to come together – albeit online – and explore what living through this period has meant to them and how it has impacted their mental health and wellbeing. The dance film that the young people have created and choreographed, led by their Dance leader Debbie is a heartfelt representation of their feelings and emotions expressed through dance, and we couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.”

Councillor Andy Keir said “This is great news not just for the talented young dancers involved but for Darlington and the wider region. This is a great opportunity to showcase the talent, drive and determination of the young people of Darlington highlighting an important issue in such a creative way.”

The national showcases will be held online from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 July. As well as the film being broadcast nationally, the festival will include online workshops with leading dance professionals and inspiring dance careers information for young people to take part in.

MERCURY THEATRE ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL SEASON IN REFURBISHED THEATRE

MERCURY THEATRE ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL SEASON

IN REFURBISHED THEATRE

Mercury Theatre, led by Executive Director, Steve Mannix and Executive Producer, Tracey Childs, today announces its opening season in the company’s extensively refurbished venue, which will reopen next month after two years of closure following the Mercury Rising transformation, a 3-year campaign which raised over £11.3 million to reimagine the theatre and improve accessibility throughout.

The season opens in July with Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville, directed by the company’s Creative Director Ryan McBryde, followed in October by the UK premiere of Merlynn Tong’s Antigonedirected by Dawn Walton OBE.

Also launching this season is Mercury Originals, a programme of ground-breaking new plays, showcasing the voices of local writers. The first production is a world première of Sirens by award-winning playwright, Kenny Emson, with future productions to be announced.

The year concludes with the return of pantomime, Aladdin by Andrew Pollard and directed by McBryde, with Great British Pantomime award-winning Antony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville, further casting to be announced.

The Mercury have commissioned Joel Horwood to write an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Green Mile which will receive its world premiere on the Colchester stage in 2022, ahead of a national tour. Further details will be announced in due course.

Mercury Theatre also welcome a variety of touring productions including The War of the WorldsTell Me on a SundayAnd Then There Were NoneDragons and Mythical Beasts, and The Jolly Christmas Postman.

The refurbished venue includes a transformed bigger, brighter foyer space which is open all day with a new café bar, redeveloped main auditorium with additional seats, new rehearsal room, revamped and extended backstage facilities, improved interval experience by doubling the number of loos, and most importantly for the first time the building will be accessible throughout. The new community space and dance studio is equipped to support the best new talent, and in addition, the company continues its commitment to sustainability including through the introduction of a ‘Bring your own cup policy’ to reduce single-use plastic, as well as increasing the buildings energy efficiency with the expansion of LED lighting, converting to 100% renewable electricity and the implementation of solar panels.

Executive Director, Steve Mannix, today said, “Having come so far in such a challenging period we are incredibly grateful that we are now in the very final stages of fully completing this vital transformation to this wonderful theatre and are incredibly excited to be planning for our reopening in June. We are beyond thrilled that we are so close to welcoming our audiences and returning to making a vital contribution to the local economy of Colchester.

“We are extremely thankful to our funding partners and we look forward to working in partnership with Colchester Borough Council, other local arts and heritage organisations and the local business community to help the town’s economy recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The public have been incredibly generous in their support of our fundraising efforts throughout our Mercury Rising campaign, for which we truly thank them. We continue to value this wonderful support and will need our local community behind us more than ever as we open our doors and provide a true Mercury welcome!”

Creative Director, Ryan McBryde, also commented, “We can’t wait to put on a show and welcome everyone to come and see all of our new facilities and events. We’re looking forward to reinventing old stories and conjuring up bold, new ones. Stories that electrify, stir and enrich; stories from fresh voices that demand to be heard; stories that enable us to identify with one another.

“It’s not just about the shows! We want to breathe life into our spaces all day long. We want to see parents’ enjoying coffee and cake in our café bar whilst their toddlers enjoy morning story-time, we want to see our senior citizens learning to Lindy Hop in our brand new dance studio, school choirs singing their hearts out on the terrace, families picnicking in the Roman wall garden, professionals hot-desking in our office, and our young company rehearsing in the creative learning space.”

Amy Vaughan, Director, East of England, Arts Council England, added, “The Mercury has gone through an absolutely amazing transformation thanks to National Lottery funding. I’m excited by its reopening plans, which really help establish it as much more than ‘just’ a theatre – creating a welcoming hub for the community to enjoy, whether they are seeing a performance or not. I look forward to seeing the space come to life with visitors from near and far.”

The revitalisation has enabled the Mercury Theatre to expand its community and engagement work with its Taking Part activities,including a 10-week acting programme, an intergenerational community choir, a musical theatre dance class and family sing-a-longs. They also launch Senior Social Club, a weekly inclusive space, for those over 55, to forge new friendships whilst participating in creative classes. Mercury Young Company (MYC) returns with an additional age group, 18-25, and they introduce new activities for young people including Tots classes, weekend drop in sessions and summer school opportunities.

In addition, the company’s Artist Development Programme continues with How To, monthly masterclasses led by professional theatre practitioners; Connects providing a regular space for is art professionals to connect; and Reads, supporting new writers, and providing a platform to share new work.

The building has been converted by Phelan, and is designed by Colchester Borough Homes and Purcell.

Supported by Arts Council England, Colchester Borough Council, Essex Country Council, South East Local Enterprise Partnership and European Regional Development Fund, plus generous public and private donations.

Colchester Borough Council has been a key partner in the success of the Mercury Rising project providing £1.5 million towards the initiative, securing £4m of Arts Council Funding and working with the Design Team from Colchester Borough Homes, who also managed the delivery of the improvement works.

Additional support from other funders included – Essex County Council (£1 million), South East Local Enterprise Partnership (£1 million), the European Regional Development Fund (£978,000), NESTA (£400,000), over £600,000 from national and local Trust and Foundations and £665,000 from local residents, audience members and sponsors.

The project has also benefitted from support from the Government’s Kickstart Cultural Recovery Fund (£864,000).

The building opens for the first time to the local community for a special weekend of events on 26 and 27 June.

Priority on sale for supporters is Thursday 27 May at 10.30am

General on sale Tuesday 1 June 10.30am

Mercury Theatre presents

BASKERVILLE!

By Ken Ludwig

Directed by Ryan McBryde; Design: Amy Jane Cook; Lighting Design: Johanna Town

Video Design: Louise Rhoades-Brown; Sound Design: Steve Mayo

30 July – 22 August 2021

40 characters. 5 actors. 1 madcap adventure for the world’s most famous detective!

This is a thrilling new look at Sherlock Holmes. On the murky moors of Devonshire, heirs to the Baskerville name are being killed, one by one. Some say it’s a family curse. Some say it’s a murderous hellhound. Some say it’s a load of old nonsense. A case like this can be solved by only one man…or…actually…two – so don your deerstalkers because Holmes and Watson are on the case!

This fast-paced, laugh out loud comedy sees our intrepid duo try to crack their most notorious case with the help of a tangled web of clues, silly accents, disguises and deceit as five actors deftly portray more than forty characters. Will our heroes discover the truth in time? Will they fall foul of the demon hellhound? Will they get all the costume changes right?

Ken Ludwig’swork has been produced been performed in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages including in the West End and on Broadway. His writing credits include Dear Jack, Dear Louise – winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical, Moon Over BuffaloTwentiethBe My BabyShakespeare in Hollywood – winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Best Play of the Year, Lend Me a TenorCrazy For You – winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and Olivier Award for Best New Musical, A Comedy of TenorsThe Gods of ComedyA Fox on the FairwayLeading LadiesMurder on the Orient Express and The Game’s Afoot – winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year. His stage adaptations include The Three MusketeersThe Adventures of Robin Hood and Treasure Island. He was also awarded the Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theater. 

Creative Director of Mercury Theatre Colchester, Ryan McBryde directs. His theatre credits for the company include Moll Flanders and Pieces of String – nominated for Best New Musical at the UK Theatre Awards. Other theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet (Theater Trier, Germany), Love on the LinksBefore the Party (Salisbury Playhouse), The Invisible Man (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), The House of Mirrors and HeartsThe Jabberwocky (Arcola Theatre), Saturday Night Fever (Theatre Royal Bath/UK tour), Angus Thongs, and even more Snogging (West Yorkshire Playhouse), A Day at the Racists (Finborough Theatre), On the 20th Century (Union Theatre) and Hamlet – The Musical (Royal & Derngate, Northampton/Richmond Theatre).

Mercury Theatre presents

The UK Première of

ANTIGONE

By Merlynn Tong after Sophocles

Director: Dawn Walton OBE

1 – 16 October 2021

A city which belongs to just one man is no true city.

In a war-torn city, two brothers lie dead: one hailed and buried a hero, the other denounced as a traitor, his body to be displayed as a warning to anyone daring to defy the new leader, Creon, who is ruthless in her grip on power.

A grieving, defiant Antigone strikes out against Creon’s brutal regime in a furious act of civil disobedience which will have devastating consequences for them both. The conflict between these fierce, bold women forces them, and those around them, to question their ideas of family and morality, as well as the nature of justice and leadership.

Merlynn Tong credits as a playwright include Good GriefMa Ma Ma Mad and Blue Bones – winner of the Matilda Award for Best New Australian Work. As an actor her credits include, White Pearl (Sydney Theatre Company/National Theatre of Parramatta), The Shot (Queensland Theatre), The Lost Lending Library (Punchdrunk/Imaginary Theatre), Viral (Gold Coast Arts Centre) and Straight White Men (La Boite Theatre).

Dawn Walton OBE directs. She is Founder, and former Artistic Director and Chief Executive, of Eclipse Theatre, the UK’s principal Black-led national production company..Her theatre credits include Salt (Royal Court Theatre/Schaubühne, Berlin/Public Theater, New York), The Gift (Theatre Royal Stratford East/Belgrade Theatre/UK tour), Red Dust Road (National Theatre Scotland/Home), Black Men Walking (Royal Court Theatre/Royal Exchange Theatre/UK tour), The Princess and the Hustler (Bristol Old Vic/UK tour), A Raisin in the Sun (Sheffield Theatres/Uk tour), One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (Tricycle theatre/UK tour), Michael X (Tabernacle), There’s Only One Wayne Matthews (Sheffield Theatres), The Hounding of David Oluwale (West Yorkshire Playhouse – TMA Award nomination for Best Director), Oxford Street (Royal Court Theatre – Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), 92.3FM (Royal Court Theatre and UK tour) and Winners (Young Vic). She developed, produced and directed ‘10by10’ a series of 10 short film dramas for the digital arts platform The Space (ACE/BBC).

Mercury Theatre presents

MERCURY ORIGINALS:

SIRENS

By Kenny Emson

STUDIO

28 October – 6 November 2021

Rory and Gemma break in to the Mersea Island RNLI station on Halloween in 1987. He wants to run away to London. She wants him to notice that she’s not drinking. Over the course of the next thirty-four years the consequences of that night will tear their lives apart. This haunting new play explores themes of belonging, family ties and forgiveness.

Kenny Emson is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Previous winner of the Mercury Theatre playwriting prize, his credits for the company include Plastic (also Old Red Lion).. His other credits include Rust and Terrorism (Bush Theatre). He has also received the Adopt a Playwright Award and the Adrienne Benham Award. His screenwriter credits include The Last Hours of Laura K – BAFTA nomination for Digital Creativity, and The Coming of Mr Quin. He has also written on Doctors and EastEnders.

Mercury Theatre presents

ALADDIN

By Andrew Pollard

Director: Ryan McBryde; Design: Diego Pitarch; Lighting Design: David W Kidd

Musical Director: Nick Barstow; Choreographer: Donna Berlin; Magic Advisor: Michael J Fitch

MAIN THEATRE

27 November 2021 – 16 January 2022

Journey with us to distant shores where the penniless Aladdin dreams of winning the heart of the rebellious Princess Jasmine. When he is tempted by an evil sorcerer with the promise of untold riches, our young hero finds himself trapped in the Cave of Wonders with nothing but his wits and a battered old lamp. Little does he know that it’s contents will change his life for ever.

Will Aladdin defeat the wicked sorcerer? Will the Princess Jasmine ever notice him? And will the Genie of the Lamp make all of his wishes come true?

Great British Pantomime award-winning ugly sisters, Antony Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville will be unleashed on Colchester once again, and after a year off they’re chomping at the bit to release even more panto madness on unsuspecting audiences.

Hop aboard your magic carpet for a hilarious, funpacked adventure full of song, dance and all the usual Mercury magical mayhem!

Andrew Pollard is a writer and actor. His writing credits include Cinderella, Peter Pan: A New Adventure, Puss in Boots (Greenwich Theatre) and Beauty and the Beast (Salisbury Playhouse).His acting credits include Educating Rita (Duke’s Theatre/New Vic Theatre), Around the World in 80 Days (New Vic Theatre/Cadogan Hall), Diana of Dobson’sTalentGhostsFar From the Madding CrowdWhere Have I Been All My LifeSpring and Port WineThe Admirable CrichtonThe RivalsAlphabetical Order (New Vic Theatre), Life’s a Drag (Contact Theatre), Peter Pan in Scarlett (New Vic Theatre/Oxford Playhouse), The Ladykillers (Hull Truck Theatre/New Vic Theatre), Hay Fever and Perfect Days (Oldham Coliseum).

MERCURY THEATRE

The Mercury Theatre is an artistic powerhouse in the East – a vital, vibrant, welcoming centre of culture for the people of Colchester, Essex and beyond. Since 1937, we’ve been on an ongoing mission to put theatre at the heart of the local community, reaching audiences of all kinds with productions that inform, entertain and exhilarate.

And we never stand still… Mercury Rising has been at the heart of our efforts to modernise our much-loved theatre, to keep it relevant, compelling and captivating for 21st-century audiences. This project was possible with support from Arts Council England, Colchester Borough Council, Essex County Council, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the European Regional Development Fund and multiple trusts & foundations. And, of course, the local community.

Mercury Theatre 

Listings

Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT

Box Office:

www.mercurytheatre.co.uk / 01206 573948

SEASON AT A GLANCE:

BASKERVILLE!

30 July – 22 August 2021

Relaxed: 18 August at 2.30pm

Touch Tour: 19 August at 1pm

Audio Described: 19 August at 2.30pm

Captioned Performance: 20 August at 7.30pm

ANTIGONE

1 – 16 October 2021

Relaxed: 13 October 2.30pm

Touch Tour: 14 October 1pm

Audio Described: 14 October at 2.30pm

Captioned Performance: 15 October at 7.30pm

MERCURY ORIGINALS: SIRENS

28 October – 6 November 2021

Press Night: 2 November at 7.30pm

ALADDIN

27 November 2021 – 16 January 2022

Relaxed: 12 December at 12pm & 6 January at 2pm

Captioned Performance: 7 January at 7pm

Touch Tour: 8 January at 11.30am

Audio Described: 8 January at 1pm

BSL Interpretation: 15 January at 1pm