The 2021 festival runs from 17-29 May at The Turbine Theatre, London, before embarking on a ‘digital’ UK Tour from the 31 May – 4 July. The full list of venues and touring dates are as follows: 

The Turbine Theatre, Battersea 

(Monday 17 May – Saturday 29 May) 

Norwich Theatre Royal, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry & Birmingham Hippodrome (Monday 31 May – Sunday 6 June) 

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton & the Mercury Theatre, Colchester 

(Monday 7 June – Sunday 13 June) 

Curve Theatre, Leicester & Dundee Repertory Theatre  

(Monday 14 June – Sunday 20 June) 

New Wolsey Theatre & Theatre Clwyd  

(Mon 21 June – Sunday 27 June) 

Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Sheffield Theatres The Lowry, Salford  

(Monday 28 June – Sunday 4 July) 

The Festival sets out to promote quality artistry, showcasing new musicals to UK audiences with a view to elevating them to full production, and giving audiences an insight into the process of creating new work and the art of collaboration. Paul Taylor-Mills launched the inaugural MTFestUK season at The Other Palace in 2019, followed by a 2020 season in February last year, at The Turbine Theatre. 

The 2021 festival line-up includes an exciting and diverse selection of eight new musicals: Far From Heaven#50daysThe Man In the CeilingMillennialsHouseFireCake, Proud and Tony! (A Tony Blair Rock Opera)

Featuring a truly spectacular company of international stars, with a number of Tony and Olivier Awards to their names,the full line up of world class performers includes:

Tori Allen-Martin,Stephen Ashfield, Alex AustinCharlie BakerLuke BayerJenna BoydAlex CardallMatthew CrokeAllie Daniel,Trevor Dion NicholasChris DraperCory EnglishAminita FrancisJordan Luke GageScott GarnhamTiffany GravesBeth Hinton-LeverAimee HodnettJazz JenkinsNadine-Rose JohnsonReuben JosephEleanor KaneIdriss KargboFreddie KingEmma KingstonGemma Knight JonesMelanie La BarrieMarie LawrenceSimon LipkinAndrew LippaRebecca Locke, Nathan Lorainey-DineenTim Mahendran Carl ManNicholas McLeanAko MitchellKyran Mitchell-NantonGrace MouatPhoebe PanaretosBryce PinkhamSharon RoseRobert SaundersCleve SeptemberRobin Simões da SilvaNicola SloaneJodie SteeleScarlett StrallenSebastien TorkiaRebecca ThornhillPaul Thornley,Gary Trainor and Obioma Ugola.*

In addition to the highly talented performers, the festival also includes a huge mix of exciting creative talent including: Tasha Taylor-Johnson, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Jack McManus, Drew McOnie, Matt White,Thabo Stuck, Scott Frankel and Poppy Burton Morgan


MTFestUK 2021


17-19 May 2021 

Book by Richard Greenberg 

Music by Scott Frankel 

Lyrics by Michael Korie 

Directed by Matthew White 

Musical Direction by Alex Parker 


Elliot Burges – David

Cory English (Guys & Dolls/Young Frankenstein) – Stan/Maurice  

Tiffany Graves (Chicago/We Will Rock You) – Mrs Leacock/Mona Lauder/Doreen  

Aimee Hodnett (White Christmas/Follies) – Connie/Nancy  

Poppy Houghton – Janice  

Melanie La Barrie (& Juliet/Wicked) – Sybil  

Ako Mitchell (Caroline, Or Change/Guys & Dolls) – Raymond 

Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder/The Heidi Chronicles) – Frank  

Scarlett Strallen (Singin’ In The Rain/Mary Poppins) – Cathy   

Rebecca Thornhill (Matilda/From Here To Eternity) – Eleanor  

Based on the Focus Features/Vulcan Productions motion picture written & directed by Todd Haynes. 

Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel, with incendiary consequences.  

With a score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, and intolerance, as a woman grapples with her identity in a society on the verge of upheaval. 


 17 – 19 May 2021 

Created and Written by Thabo Stuck 

Directed by Ajjaz Awad-Ibrahim 

Musical Direction by Amiir Saleem 


Aminita Francis (Frankenstein – How To Make A Monster) – Digby/Prince of Wales  

Nadine-Rose Johnson (Frankenstein) – Queen Henrietta  

Reuben Joseph (Rapunzel/Midsummer) – King Charles  

Kyran Mitchell-Nanton (Karma) – Pym  

Robert Saunders (Grandpa’s Great Escape Live) – Lillburn/Lucy Haye 

Cleve September (Hamilton/Jesus Chris Superstar) – Manchester  

#50days is a Grime Musical which tells the story of the period when the very foundations of England were shattered. It is December 1641 and King Charles is about to be formally challenged by a handful of MPs and radical commoners, who share the belief that ALL men are born equal. Many in England, now a Protestant country, are enraged by the notion that the French-born Catholic Queen Henrietta and King Charles are ruling over them. One of these critics is John Pym, a Member of Parliament and prominent opponent of Kingship, who issues a challenge to the King’s power. In a world ruled by men, who are the women in this story? What are they fighting for? Through propaganda and shrewd political manoeuvring, the nation is about to be plunged head first into a conflict that pitted neighbour against neighbour and shattered the very core of our constitution. 

#50days creator Thabo Stuck, challenges the notion of how history is discoursed. 

“This is an interpretation of British history told through the eyes of underrepresented Brits today.”


 20 – 22 May 2021 

Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa 

Book by Jules Feiffer 

Directed by Annabel Mutale Reed 

Musical Direction by Richard Beadle 


Alex Austin – Jimmy Jibbett

Matthew Croke (Aladdin/Hair) – Father 

Trevor Dion Nicholas (Aladdin) – Uncle Lester 

Jazz Jenkins (Live – A Viral Short Film) – Lisi  

Obioma Ugola (Hamilton/Motown The Musical) – Older Jimmy  

Sharon Rose (Hamilton/Motown The Musical) – Mother  

12-year old Jimmy Jibbett would rather be a successful cartoonist than be in 7th grade. His father disapproves. His mother is busy. His uncle tries to understand but is too wrapped up trying to write a love song for his next flop musical. Where can Jimmy turn for inspiration and hope? Maybe THE MAN IN THE CEILING can lead him to his true destiny…If only Jimmy would look up! 

A collaboration between Jules Feiffer, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist and celebrated author, and Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa, The Main In The Ceiling is an uplifting tale about following your creative passion against all odds.


 20 – 22 May 2021

Music and Lyrics byJack McManus&Tasha Taylor-Johnson

Book and Lyrics byMorgan Lloyd Malcolm

Directed byDrew McOnie


Tori Allen-Martin(Rock Of Ages) – Judge/Nicole

Emma Kingston(Fiddler On The Roof/In The Heights)– Jeanne

Phoebe Panaretos(Strictly Ballroom/Lazarus) – Marie Antoinette

Sebastien Torkia(Matilda The Musical/The Wild Party) – The Cardinal

Cake* combines rap and RnB with 18th century France to retell a story that sparked a revolution. When Marie Antoinette married King Louis, her reputation was already tarnished by gossip. But when she is implicated in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of a diamond necklace, it is not just her reputation at stake, but the monarchy and France itself.

*Cake was commissioned by Paul Taylor-Mills whilst he was Artistic Director of The Other Palace where it appeared under its former title; Killer Queen.


  24 – 26 May 2021

Written & Composed by Elliot Clay 

Directed by Luke Sheppard 

Musical Direction by Katy Richardson 


Luke Bayer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie/Les Misérables)

Allie Daniel (RENT)

Beth Hinton-Lever (West Side Story/Hadestown)

Nathan Lorainey-Dineen (& Juliet/Motown The Musical)

Tim Mahendran (& Juliet/The Midnight Gang

Grace Mouat (& Juliet/Six)

Jodie Steele (Six/Heathers)

MILLENNIALS turns up the microphone on the lives, the losses and the frustrations of young people in the modern world. A generation that is so often defined by tabloid headlines, tweets and of course, avocados, pick up the mic and transport us inside their extraordinarily ordinary lives. Written and composed by Elliot Clay, this powerful and uplifting collection of songs runs the gamut of modern pop-music and sends musical theatre hurtling into the 21st Century. 


 24 – 26 May 2021

Book & Lyrics/Directed by P Burton-Morgan 

Music by Felix Hagan  

Musical Direction by Chris Poon 

Musical Supervision by Mark Collins 

An Eco Rock Musical 


Alex Cardall (Evita) – Alan 

Eleanor Kane (High Fidelity/Fun Home) – Ginger  

Robin Simões da Silva (Spring Awakening) – Leo  

“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” – Greta Thunberg 2019 

A trio of endangered animals form a rock band to protest against the climate crisis. Leo, the snow leopard lead singer, rages against the annihilation of their world, Ginger the Orangutan, on keys, has her own tale to tell about the traumas of deforestation, while Alan the elephant is keeping time on the drums. But their newly rebranded group ‘HouseFire’ is under threat from their corporate manager getting them to pander to the very capitalist system they want to destabilize. Entering Britain’s Got Talent is a great way to reach more people with their message, but it puts a strain on their already fractious relationships, and is it all just too little too late… Fierce, frenetic and fun – this gig-theatre musical will set your world on fire.


  27 – 29 May 2021

Music by Lee Freeman 

Lyrics by Mark Anderson 

Book by Graham Lappin & Mark Anderson 

Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle 

Musical Direction by Ellie Verkerk 


Stephen Ashfield (The Book Of Mormon) – Clarke/Donald 

Chris Draper (School Of Rock) – Father Frederick/Thomas 

Jordan Luke Gage (& Juliet/Bat Out Of Hell) – David  

Idriss Kargbo (Five Guys Named Moe) – Cooper/Gabriel 

Freddie King (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) – Brett/Mrs Bailey/Swim Team 

Rebecca Locke (Heathers) – Diana/Bernice 

Carl Man (Wicked) – Mr Maplewood/Swim Team/Rory 

Nicholas McLean (Wicked) – Swim Team/Mason 

David has always been different. He really wishes he wasn’t. Despite the acceptance and unconditional love of his parents, his prayers are answered when he discovers the existence of ‘Reality Trek’, a conversion camp for gay men run by ex-gay Donald and his lord-abiding wife, Bernice. With faith on their side, they guide David and his camp campmates through the programme, but when the illegally-handsome Rory arrives late, David faces the ultimate test on the path to the straight and narrow.


  27 – 29 May 2021

Book and Lyrics by Harry Hill & Steve Brown 

Music by Steve Brown 

Directed by Peter Rowe 

Musical Direction by Sarah Travis        


Charlie Baker (The Hit Polisher/I Can’t Sing) – Tony Blair

Jenna Boyd (Come From Away/Wind In The Willows) – Prescott  

Scott Garnham (Nativity The Musical/Billy Elliot) – Tony  

Gemma Knight Jones (Falsettos/The Lion King) – Princess Di 

Marie Lawrence (Toast/The Understudy) – Cherie  

Simon Lipkin (Nativity The Musical/Guys & Dolls) – Mandy  

Nicola Sloane (Our Town/Love In Idleness) – Mrs Blair  

Paul Thornley (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child) – Kinnock 

Gary Trainor (School Of Rock/Rothschild & Sons) – Gordon Brown  

A reckless reappraisal of the life of former Bad Rumours front man and Britain’s first pop Prime Minister Tony Blair

The story of how one man went from peace loving, long haired hippy and would-be pop star to warmongering multimillionaire in just a couple of decades. 

An hilarious tragedy of political intrigue, religion, power and romance that plays fast and loose with the facts, owing as much to Citizen Kane as it does to The Marx Brothers – Karl and Groucho. 

Throw in a cast of larger-than-life characters – Cherie Blair, Princess Diana, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell, Osama Bin Laden, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Gordon Brown and of course that dodgy dossier.  

All set to rockin’ tunes.  

More dates added and cast finalised for UK tour of Ben Brown’s A Splinter of Ice







New dates have been added to Original Theatre Company’s first live stage production since March 2020.  The UK Tour of Ben Brown’s new political drama, A SPLINTER OF ICE, will open on 8 June in Malvern and will tour until 31 July, with extra dates in York and Cambridge. We can also announce that Karen Ascoe will be joining the previously announced Oliver Ford Davies (Graham Greene) and Stephen Boxer (Kim Philby) as Rufa Philby.  The tour is directed by Alan Strachan with Alastair Whatley.  The production is also available online via until 31 July 2021.  This critically acclaimed online version was filmed on the stage of the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre, with Sara Crowe as Rufa Philby. 

Moscow 1987 and the cold war begins to thaw.  After declining his offer for more than 30 years, novelist Graham Greene travels into the heart of the Soviet Union to meet with his old MI6 boss, Kim Philby.  Under the watchful eye of Russian memoirist and Philby’s last wife, Rufa, the two men set about catching up on old times.  With a new world order breaking out around them, how much did the writer of The Third Man know about Philby’s secret life as a spy and did Philby betray his friend as well as his country?

From the writer of the award-winning West End play Three Days in May, which inspired the Oscar-winning film Darkest Hour, Ben Brown’s new political drama explores an unlikely friendship; a friendship interwoven with deceit and loyalty.  Ben said of this production of A SPLINTER OF ICE, “I’m thrilled to be working again with Alan Strachan and Oliver Ford Davies and to be joining forces with Stephen Boxer, Sara Crowe and Alastair Whatley for the premiere, at last, of my new play, online prior to a national tour.

Alastair Whatley, Artistic Director of Original Theatre Company, said, “I am thrilled that we are producing Ben’s fantastic new play with such a wonderful cast and creative team. The plan was to open this in front of audiences at the end of March, but alas, once again, plans have changed. Instead of cancelling, we will now film the production at the beautiful Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, releasing the play to our audiences around the world, before then returning to stages across the UK as soon as theatres re-open.

Oliver Ford Davies is an Olivier Award-winning actor whose recent theatre includes Peter Gynt (National Theatre & Edinburgh International Festival), Troilus and Cressida (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Chalk Garden (Chichester Festival Theatre), Richard II (RSC, Barbican & BAM, New York), Henry IV Part II (RSC, Barbican, China Tour & BAM, New York), Henry V (RSC, Barbican, China Tour & BAM, New York) and Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix West End & Tour – Olivier Award ‘Best Entertainment and Family’ 2013).  He won Best Actor at the 1990 Olivier Awards for his performance in David Hare’s Racing Demon (National Theatre).  Recent film and television credits include Christopher RobinThe Last WitnessFather BrownMarple and Game of Thrones.

Stephen Boxer’s theatre credits include The Remains of the Day (UK Tour), Titus AndronicusThe Heresy of LoveThe Taming Of The ShrewBartholomew FairMeasure for MeasureTwelfth NightThe Herbal BedThe White DevilThe Duchess Of MalfiRichard III (all for the RSC), MacbethKing LearAristocratsVolpone (all for the National Theatre), The Hypochondriac and A Chaste Maid In Cheapside (for Almeida Theatre). Stephen’s most recent television credits include Denis Thatcher in The CrownSmall Axe, David Elster in Humans and Poldark.  He also played Rene Azaire in Original Theatre’s highly acclaimed online production of Birdsong earlier this year.

Karen Ascoe’s theatre credits include Switzerland (English Theatre, Frankfurt), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Lowry, Manchester and No.1 tour), Single Spies, Sense and Sensibility(Theatre By The Lake and York Theatre Royal), Rabbits(Park Theatre), Shakespeare in the Abbey(Globe Theatre at Westminster Abbey) andThe Letter (Wyndham’s Theatre). Her film and television credits includes A Brixton TaleHolby City, Sex Pistols v Bill Grundy, Coronation Street, Drifters, My Mad Fat Diary, Cuckoo, W1A, Emmerdale, Peep Show, The Taking of Prince Harry and EastEnders.During the first lockdown, Karen recorded the web series Housebound and voiced characters on video games Hitman 3and Watchdogs: Legion, alongside the audiobooks for children’s adventure series Below the Green.

A SPLINTER OF ICE is directed by Alan Strachan with Alastair Whatley and designed by Michael Pavelka, with original music composed and sound designed by Max Pappenheim, lighting designed by Jason Taylor and casting by Ellie Collyer-Bristow CDG.

A SPLINTER OF ICE is produced by Original Theatre Company.


Facebook: Original Theatre

Twitter: @OriginalTheatre



8 – 12 June                             MALVERN Festival Theatre                                          01684 892277


15 – 19 June                           GUILDFORD Yvonne Arnaud Theatre                          01484 44 00 00              


21 – 26 June                           MOLD Theatr Clwyd                                                     01352 344101


28 June – 3 July                      BATH Theatre Royal                                                     01225 448844


6 – 10 July                              YORK THEATRE ROYAL                                             01904 623568


13 – 17 July                             EDINBURGH King’s Theatre                       


20 – 24 July                            CAMBRIDGE ARTS THEATRE                                     01223 503333


26 – 31 July                            MAST Mayflower Studios, SOUTHAMPTON                02380 711833



Available online to 31 July 2021 via

Tickets for online production:

Standard – £20

Standard with digital programme – £22.50

Premium Package – £100 (includes signed script by a creative team member of your choice and a digital programme)

Available worldwide

English subtitles available

Age guidance: 12+

Running time: approx. 90 minutes

For group bookings, please contact

Monday Night At The Apollo Review

Apollo Theatre, London – 24 May 2021

Reviewed by Liberty Noke


After months of theatres being closed the Apollo theatre brings us a wonderful celebration of theatre and the arts playing to a reduced capacity audience. This was the first in a series of concerts featuring different performers every month and raising money for the charity Acting for Others. The events will also be live streamed so that viewers can watch from home. The stage was set with a four-piece band stage right, a microphone stand centre stage and 6 chairs around a coffee table stage left. Greg Barnett, the host for the evening, opened the show with a song and introduced the musicians as well as the performers- Aimie Atkinson, Cassidy Janson, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal and Julian Ovenden.

The whole show was rather informal with the performers talking casually about their previous musical theatre roles, upcoming projects, musical inspirations and how they came to be in theatre. Greg Barnett was very charismatic, engaging the performers in conversation and the audience felt included in the conversation as the performers bantered with each other, sharing witty anecdotes from their careers.

Despite the informal nature of the show every musical number was spectacular exactly as you would expect from 5 such talented singers. The performers took it in turns to perform songs including a few duets and group performances. It was a lovely selection of classic musical theatre songs from musicals such as ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, songs from more recent musicals such as ‘Waitress’ and pop songs including Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’. They would often share their reason for choosing to perform each song and Cedric Neal had the audience moved when he discussed being rejected for a role in Kinky Boots but choosing to perform a song from that musical anyway. Aimie Atkinson’s performance of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ from ‘Funny Girl’ was breathtaking and Julian Ovenden’s deep, operatic voice gave me chills during every one of his songs. A highlight of the evening was Lucie Jones singing ‘She Used To Be Mine’ from ‘Waitress’ She sang beautifully with so much emotion.

The show closed with Aimie Atkinson, Cassidy Janson and Lucie Jones performing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ from ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ A beautiful rendition as all 3 singers have such amazing voices and quite emotional as this song had been used throughout the lockdown to provide hope to those quarantining and lift spirits. Overall a fantastic show and the perfect return to the theatre. This reminded me why I love musical theatre and left me looking forward to the reopening of theatres across the UK.

Decades: Stories From The City – 1970s/1980s/1990s Review

Leeds Playhouse/Online At home – until 29 May 2021

Reviewed by Dawn Smallwood


It is exciting for the Leeds Playhouse to reopen its doors and start proceedings with a 50th anniversary celebration courtesy of Decades: Stories From The City. The Playhouse has had its challenges during the Pandemic however they have successfully connected audiences in making theatre accessible with productions being available to view Online At home. This production, watched remotely, is created by writers who are linked to the theatre, hosts six monologues set in the North, and the characters tell their stories over the decades of the playhouse’s existence.

The performance stages three monologues set in the 1970s, 1980s and 2000s. Firstly, Nicer than Orange Squash, written by Alice Nutter and under the direction of Evie Manning. Loz

(Isobel Coward) shares her exploration of identifying who she really is amidst feminism, socialism, radicalism and relationships. She shares an insight in alternative living which were not considered the economic, political and social cliches and stereotypes typical to the mainstream 80s. There is a lot to think about, particularly political and social headlines, that are related to that decade.

Next is Simon Armitage’s The Bodyguard set in the 1970s. This is about Wilf, performed by Connor Elliott, who reluctantly acts as the Bodyguard to his mother as well as keeping up to date with the fearful news of the murders in the region and the new Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher . Wilf doesn’t want to go out and meet his mother and would rather stay at home in his cosily secure bedroom. However, he candidly explains how forearmed he is as much as forewarned incase he comes across the Yorkshire Ripper. The monologue successfully encapsulates the atmospheric though chilling reality of the fearful time that the community experienced.

The third and final monologue is The Unknown, written by Leanna Benjamin and directed by Amanda Huxtable. This reflective, tainted with sadness, monologue is beautifully performed by Nicole Botha. Set just before and after the millennium’s (2000s) arrival, Sophia (Botha) nostalgically reminisces about her family and what she was able to do before events that have changed her life forever. With having to adapt and confront the future’s reality in moving forward, she is able to find strength to adapt in order to do that.

Decades: Stories From The City marks a celebratory and welcome return to the Playhouse and these well performed and creatively staged monologues can resonate how our lives are influenced and impacted by where we live and where we consider home. These monologues are certainly worth accessing whether watching them on stage in person and from one’s home

Judy & Liza Musical To Entertain North West Audiences As Part Of New UK Tour



Live shows to perform at venues in Lytham, New Brighton, Clwyd and Manchester

Dazzling musical starring Emma Dears and Helen Sheals becomes one of the first shows staged after lockdown

The acclaimed Judy & Liza Musical will bring the real-life story of mother and daughter stars Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli to audiences to venues across the North West in the coming weeks.

The sensational production, starring West End stars Emma Dears and Helen Sheals, will be staged at Lowther Pavilion in Lytham on Saturday 29th May, Floral Pavilion in New Brighton on Friday 4th June, Theatr Clywd in North Wales on Saturday 13th June and Hope Fest in Manchester on Sunday 18th July. Tickets are on sale now!

It tells the turbulent tale of two of Hollywood’s biggest female stars, set against the backdrop of their infamous 1964 London Palladium concert.

The North West dates are part of a new UK tour to mark the 10th anniversary of the dazzling show, which opened last week in Worcester, Leeds and Chesterfield.

The tour, one of the first to be confirmed for indoor venues after the easing of lockdown restrictions, will also visit Lytham St Annes, New Brighton, London, Brighton, Coventry, Clwyd, Lichfield and Manchester from May to July.

The show isone of the first to tour the UK post lockdown. Social distancing and any further required measures will be in place to ensure Covid-secure environments for audience safety.

It will also tour in October, with dates to be announced soon.

Judy & Liza is produced by Bill Elms Productions and On Song Productions and created and written by West End performer Emma Dears who appears as Liza Minnelli. Francis Goodhand is musical director.

Emma performs alongside Helen Sheals, who plays Judy Garland. Together they deliver timeless classics with uncanny resemblance of Judy and Liza, bursting with their unrivalled and elusive star quality.

Audiences are taken on an emotional rollercoaster journey as they discover the uncanny parallels between some of Judy and Liza’s most iconic songs and their own personal lives.

The show features performances of iconic songs including Cabaret, Maybe This Time, Over The Rainbow, The Man That Got Away, The Trolley Song, and Together Wherever We Go.

Liverpool-born actress Emma Dears self-penned the musical biopic to critical acclaim. Emma’s acting career began at the age of nine when she toured the UK in the title role of Annie. She later headed to London to join the Italia Conti Academy for Performing Arts, however she left before completing the course as she was offered a part in the tour of Les Miserables performing in Dublin and Edinburgh. Emma’s West End roles have included Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Oliver. Television roles include Emmerdale, Nice Guy Eddie, Shameless, Hollyoaks, Brookside, and Second Coming.

Helen Sheals is widely known for her roles in Coronation Street and Downton Abbey. However, Helen is no stranger to portraying Judy Garland having previously played the title role in the West End musical Judy! at The Arts Theatre in London. Her extensive theatre roles have included Mistress Quickly in Merry Wives and Goneril in King Lear for Northern Broadsides, directed by Sir Jonathan Miller; Mari Hoff in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (Hull Truck and UK Tour); and Shirley Valentine. Helen’s TV credits include Brookside, Meterosexuality, Family Affairs, Last Tango in Halifax, Silent Witness, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors, Dalziel and Pascoe, and Mrs Wigan in three seasons of Downton Abbey.

Producer Bill Elms said: “I’m really delighted that North West audiences are going to have the chance to see this fantastic show as part of its 10th anniversary tour. The response to the news that Judy & Liza is going out on the road has been amazing, with London dates being sold out very quickly.

“For many of the theatres we visit, this will be their first show of the year coming out of lockdown. We can promise audiences a safe and very memorable experience as they rediscover the joy of live entertainment through this captivating show.”

Writer and actress Emma Dears added: “As performers we crave being in front of a live audience – seeing, hearing and feeling their reactions, so this week’s confirmation that venues can reopen their doors from May 17 is fantastic.

“The show is full of love, heartache, and passion, and Helen and I have worked tirelessly to make sure we get every tiny detail just right.”

To find out more visit

Facebook:       /JudyandLiza

Twitter:           @Judylizatour




★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Musical Theatre

★ ★ ★ ★


North West End UK




Saturday 29 May 2021 at 2.30pm / 7.30pm

West Beach, Lytham St Annes, FY8 5QQ


Box Office:      01253 794221


Friday 4 June 2021 at 2.30pm / 7.30pm

Marine Promenade, New Brighton, Wirral, CH45 2JS


Box Office:      0151 666 0000


Saturday 5 June 2021 at 3.30pm / 7.30pm – SOLD OUT!

Sunday 11 July at 3.30pm / 7.30pm – ON SALE W/C MAY 24

72 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP



Sunday 6 June-Tuesday 8 June 2021 at 7.40pm

The Warren: The McElderry, Victoria Gardens, Brighton BN1 1UB



Saturday 12 June 2021 at 7.30pm

Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JQ


Box Office:      02476 998 964


Saturday 13 June 2021 at 2.30pm / 7.30pm

Raikes Lane, Mold, CH7 1YA


Box Office:      01352 344101


Saturday 26 June 2021 at 2.30pm / 7.30pm

Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR


Box Office:      01543 412121


Sunday 18 July 2021 at 7.30pm

New Islington, Manchester


Box Office:      0161 257 9141

Global theatre and live entertainment company Crossroads Live acquires the world’s biggest pantomime producer

Global theatre and live entertainment company Crossroads Live acquires the world’s biggest pantomime producer

Today Crossroads Live announces the acquisition of Qdos Pantomimes, the leading producer of pantomime across the UK. The transaction represents a further expansion of Crossroads Live, following their acquisitions of London based David Ian Productions in 2019 and leading Australian producer, The Gordon Frost Organisation in 2020.

The new company, Crossroads Pantomimes, will be led by Crossroads Theatrical Group Chairman,

David Ian and former Qdos Pantomimes Managing Director Michael Harrison as Chief Executive.

The acquisition will see Qdos founder and Chairman Nick Thomas MBE stepping down from the pantomime business. Since 1982, the company has produced over 750 pantomimes. A focus on regional theatres has made the Qdos pantomime season the lynchpin of the theatrical year for dozens of major UK theatres. In 2016, Thomas and Harrison returned pantomime to its West End home the London Palladium after a 30-year absence, with a new production of Cinderella. At the London Palladium, 2017 saw the first ever Olivier Award given to a pantomime for Dick Whittington.

Michael Harrison as Chief Executive, whilst steering the new company strategically and artistically, will continue to produce independently under his own brand Michael Harrison Entertainment.

David Ian said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be working again with Michael. Crossroads Pantomimes is a natural development of our long-time producing relationship and the passion we both share for creating world class entertainment. We look forward to creating something very special for the UK Theatre industry whilst staying true to the great tradition of British pantomime.”

Michael Harrison said:

“The creation of Crossroads Pantomimes marks an exciting next step in the evolution of pantomime, joining our unique experience as leading pantomime producers with the skill, resource and investment of Crossroads Live. Our operation will remain firmly rooted in the UK and will build on the long tradition of pantomime, but continue to push the genre forward, as we’ve done over the past two decades.”

Nick Thomas said:

“After our 39th pantomime season in 2019/20, Sandra and I decided it was time to find a new   owner for Qdos Pantomimes. After discussions with Crossroads Live, we are delighted that David and Michael will be taking the business forward. Our Qdos Entertainment Group will be embarking on new adventures, and we will spend our first ‘non-pantomime’ Christmas somewhere in the sunshine!”

Shows for the 2021/22 season are already on sale and listings can be found at






The Hope Theatre can today announce details of the shows it will relaunch with this summer.

Closed since March 2020, this acclaimed 50 seat pub theatre in the heart of Islington will reopen on the public on 29 June at full capacity, in accordance with the government’s roadmap.

The first production will be THE BOY WITH THE BEE JAR by John Straiton (long-listed for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize), and directed by Philip Wilson, playing until 17 July, with a press night on 1 July 2021.

On a North London estate, a swarm of bees attracts an environmentally minded schoolboy. He strikes up a friendship with an old punk called Euston – the sole witness to a horrific crime – and together they play out the dark goings-on of life on the estate, and of their own fears.

Also playing from 29 June in the late evening slot is HOPE BOX from Blue Grass Theatre, a week of comedy celebrating live theatre and the artists that create it, with an exciting line-up of up-and-coming comedians, sketch artists, comedy actors and alternative acts.

The Hope Theatre will then host a series of shows encompassing sketch and stand-up comedy, drama, new writing and drag as part of the CAMDEN FRINGE during August, including HORRIGAN & HOWELL: A SKETCH TOO FAR from 2-8 August, TIER THREE SISTERS from 9 – 15 August, POSSIBILITIES also from 10 – 15 August, FOUR SISTERS from 16 – 19 August, OLIVES AND BLOWJOBS from 20 – 22 August, ASÒ from 16 – 22 August, TH’WILDCAT OF SHEFFIELD: UNSHIELDED from 23 – 27 August, and EDDIE BRIMSON: NAUGHTY BOY from 23 – 27 August. Tickets for the Camden Fringe will go on sale from 31 May.

The Hope Theatre will present an in-house production for four weeks in September, with full details to be announced.

Kennedy Bloomer, the Artistic Director of the theatre since January 2020 said, “We’re absolutely thrilled and grateful to be able to plan to re-open in June. The Hope hasn’t been able to open since March 2020 and although we’ve managed to create online we can’t wait to be back open to a live audience again. Freelance artists need our support now more than ever and we’re as committed as ever to our Equity house agreement and supporting paid opportunities.”

Opening in 2013, The Hope Theatre was originally a sister theatre of Islington’s King’s Head Theatre, renovated from a function room above the famous Hope & Anchor pub and music venue into a black box studio theatre. The Hope Theatre has transferred two productions to the West End (Ushers to the Charing Cross Theatre and the Snoo Wilson’s Lovesong Of The Electric Bear to The Arts) and has been home to many world premieres. It also housed the professional world premiere of Joe Orton’s Fred And Madge.

The Hope Theatre is a place for audiences and companies to explore BIG ideas. It nurtures and develops new producing models, working with exciting companies to present a mix of new writing, lost gems from well-known writers, re-polished classics and innovatively staged musicals.

Although The Hope Theatre has received no regular public subsidy since its 2013 opening, it was the first Off West End venue to open with a house agreement with Equity. This ensures a legal wage for all actors, stage managers and box office staff working at the theatre.

In 2020, Kennedy Bloomer became Artistic Director of the theatre and navigated the theatre through the global Covid-19 pandemic and total closure by taking The Hope Theatre online. 

The Hope Theatre was successfully granted funds from the Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund, the ACE and DCMS Culture Recovery Fund 1 and 2. The Hope Theatre team would like to gratefully acknowledge the role that this funding has played in enabling the venue to survive and reopen this summer.

Artistic Director: Kennedy Bloomer 

Deputy Artistic Director: Toby Hampton 

Technical Manager: Gianluca Zona 

Theatre Assistant: Rebecca Tessier

Patron: Paul Clayton 

Support The Hope Theatre:

Or visit for more information.




“Stop the presses! Newsies is an irresistible, high energy winner!” – Entertainment Weekly

With theatre trips across the UK still unable to happen Disney Theatrical Productions is stepping in to offer schools across the UK a virtual theatre trip with free access to the filmed stage version of Newsies: The Broadway Musical,and wraparound educational content. The programme is in partnership with local arts organisations and regional theatres, to offer the package to as many schools nationwide as possible.

The musical film will be available for participating schools to watch between 14 June – 23 July, and all schools will be provided with supplementary educational content to support learning in the classroom including a study guide, a video talkback with the US production team, and a dance tutorial video for the musical’s hit Seize The Day as part of Disney Theatrical’s Get Up and Go wellness campaign.

“Irresistible, inspirational storytelling in the best possible sense! Galvanizing songs and

exhilarating melodies!” David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

With the impact of Covid-19 on theatres and schools, Disney is committed to innovating new ways for students to remain engaged with the performing arts. By providing the Newsies virtual theatre trip, Disney is investing in the next generation of storytellers and inspiring them to create the futures they imagine.

Nancy Shakerley, Education and Outreach Manager for Disney Theatrical said, “Access to theatre and the arts should be the right of every child. It felt important this year when schools are unable to schedule theatre trips, to find a way to provide the stimulus of live performance to every student. With our award-winning production of Newsies, we have the opportunity to share a production never seen in the UK, to begin new thoughts and conversations, but most of all to bring the joy that only theatre can provide.”

“Newsies is a corker of a musical, Disney’s happiest outing since The Lion King! Surely the most exuberant dancing currently on the Rialto.” Variety

Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Tony Award-winning Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged “Newsies,” who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies Newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right. Newsies is inspired by the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, when newsboys Kid Blink and David Simons led a band of orphan and runaway children on a two-week-long action against newspaper publishers Pulitzer and Hearst.

With music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Jack Feldman, the 2012 original Broadway production of Newsies won Tony Awards for Best Original Score, and Best Choreography for Christopher Gattelli

For all resources, and to sign up for the initiative, teachers should visit

The virtual screening and materials will be available via a unique passcode, and full instructions will be provided to schools.

DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS (DTP) operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher bringing live entertainment events to a global audience of more than 20 million people a year in more than 50 countries. Current London: The Lion King, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary at The Lyceum, and Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre.  Other London credits: Aladdin, the Olivier-nominated play Shakespeare in Love and DTP’s inaugural production Beauty and the Beast, which won the Olivier Award for Best Musical.  Other productions on Broadway and around the world: Newsies, Peter and the StarcatcherThe Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, TARZAN® and Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida.  Other successful stage musical ventures have included productions of Disney’s High School MusicalDer Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin, and King David in concert.

Worldwide, its ten Broadway titles have been seen by over 200 million theatregoers, and have been nominated for 20 Olivier Awards, winning the honour five times. When performances resume worldwide, Disney Theatrical Productions’ slate of 20 produced or licensed productions will mean a Disney musical is being performed professionally somewhere on the planet virtually every hour of the day.

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Kauma Arts in association with BIDF – Birmingham International Dance Festival present WE ARE WEST MIDLANDS: WORKING TOWARDS AN EQUITABLE DANCE FUTURE

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Kauma Arts in association with BIDF – Birmingham International Dance Festival present


  • A FREE panel discussion on diversity in dance, the artform today, the heritage, and the workforce for dance professionals in the West Midlands 

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Kauma Arts are facilitating a panel discussion and Q&A on 7 June as part of BIDF’s Industry Professionals Programme. 

This panel event is an open invitation to representatives from across the dance sector in the West Midlands to participate in an ongoing conversation about diversity in the industry with the aim of addressing issues, overcoming challenges and working out solutions to effect positive change in the region, with speakers including Carlos Acosta, Sonia Sabri and Jamaal O’Driscoll.

This event is part of a series of discussions with individual artists and organisations from the dance sector in the West Midlands aiming to:

  • Bring together leaders in dance in the West Midlands to promote positive change
  • Take stock and acknowledge a common discourse that runs across diverse cultures in the West Midlands
  • Discuss challenges and barriers, and work towards solutions that will move diversity and inclusion in the West Midlands dance sector forward 
  • Begin creating a collective commitment to building a three, five- and ten-year strategy for the West Midlands’ dance ecology towards an equitable future

Moderator and Host: Wanjiku Nyachae

Panelists: Carlos Acosta CBE – Birmingham Royal Ballet, Iona Waite – ACE Dance and Music, Bob Ramdhanie MBE – Independent, Shane Shambhu – Independent, Abid Hussein – Arts Council England, Jamaal O’Driscoll – DanceXchange, Sonia Sabri – Sonia Sabri Company.


We Are West Midlands: working towards an equitable dance future
Date: Monday 7 June 2021 FREE
Time: 1.00 – 3.00PM BST
Location: Zoom 
Bookings and information

West End stars set to bring the Pitlochry hills alive with the sound of musicals – 3-6 June

Lauren Samuels.jpg
Daniel Boys.jpg


For immediate release

West End stars set to bring the Pitlochry hills alive with the sound of musicals

West End musical stars, Lauren Samuels and Daniel Boys, are set to bring the Pitlochry hills alive with the sounds of the West End when they perform at the opening of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre Summer Season with a series of musical concerts from the 3-6 June.        

Performed in the afternoon and evening, join Lauren and Daniel as they journey through the West End and theatreland, in a musical feast, featuring songs from some of the greatest musical composers.

What better way to launch your summer, and enjoy the outdoors, than to get along to Pitlochry for a celebration of some of the best-loved musicals, in a stunning setting beside the River Tummel, and in the theatre’s brand-new Bandstand venue!

Lauren Samuels rose to fame in 2010 when she became a finalist on BBC1’s Over the Rainbow, where Andrew Lloyd Webber oversaw the search for a new Dorothy to star in his revival of The Wizard of Oz. Since then, Lauren has taken the theatre world by storm, starring in Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre) We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Grease (Piccadilly Theatre), Romantics Anonymous (The Globe Theatre) and The Buskers Opera (Park Theatre), among others. 

Daniel Boys has appeared in numerous West End and touring productions The Pirate Queen in concert (London Coliseum); The Boys in the Band (Park Theatre/National Tour and transfer to Vaudeville Theatre); Spamalot (Playhouse); Tommy in Concert (Prince Edward); Avenue Q (Gielgud / Noel Coward – Winner of the 2009 Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role); Grease (Victoria Palace); RENT (Prince of Wales & National Tour); Sweeney Todd (Royal Festival Hall); Nativity! The Musical (Birmingham Rep/UK Tour); Little Shop of Horrors (Theatr Clwyd); and The War of The Worlds (National Tour). He recently appeared in the film “Nativity Rocks”.

In 2007, Daniel rose to prominence as a contestant on the hugely successful BBC TV talent show ‘Any Dream Will Do’, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for Joseph. Singing to a television audience of more than 10 million viewers each week, Daniel quickly established himself as one of the series favourites, and garnered himself a huge following and wide fan base.

Director Ben Occhipinti said about the performances:

“I cannot wait to be a part of an extraordinary musical event for Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer season, bringing two of the most talented West End performers together to perform the greatest hits from the musicals, in one of the most beautiful settings. Audiences will have a brilliant opportunity to hear all the songs they love from the biggest and best musicals”.

Daniel Boys said

“Both Lauren and I have heard such wonderful things about Pitlochry, so I am extremely excited and humbled to have been asked to come up there with her to open this year’s outdoor summer season and to help to celebrate 70 years of the incredible Festival Theatre. I look forward to sharing my favourite songs from the world of Musical Theatre with the Pitlochry audiences and can’t wait to perform them in such a beautiful venue.”

An Afternoon at the West End will be performed from Thursday 3 – Sunday 6 June at 2pm. There will also be Evening performances on the Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th at 7.30pm.

Tickets are priced from £18-£25. Capacity is limited for a safe, socially distanced, outdoor event.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre is keeping things flexible so audiences can too. They will honour no-hassle refunds and exchanges for any reason (including the weather!) if it is requested at least 24 hours before the performance time. So, audiences can book for summer with the confidence, that if plans change, their tickets and money can too!

For further information and tickets visit