Bernadette Peters is Live From London on 12 August 2024

Lambert Jackson, Cuffe and Taylor and Live Nation Present

BERNADETTE PETERS – LIVE FROM LONDON

BROADWAY’S BRIGHTEST STAR

AT THE THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE

FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY

AT 7.30PM ON MONDAY 12 AUGUST 2024

Bernadette Peters, Broadway’s brightest star, will bring a new show, BERNADETTE PETERS – LIVE FROM LONDON to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Monday 12 August, for one night only.

The multi-award-winning actress, singer and author will present an evening of song featuring music from the Broadway shows that have earned her critical acclaim, as well as tracks from her Grammy Award winning and nominated albums including standards and classics from Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman, among others. 

Get ready for a dazzling night like no other because nobody does it like Bernadette Peters.

Throughout her illustrious career, Bernadette Peters has dazzled audiences and critics with her performances on stage, film and television, in concert, and on recordings. She has garnered numerous accolades including three Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, four Emmy and four Grammy Award nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Best known for her work on stage and one of Broadway’s most critically acclaimed performers, Bernadette just concluded a highly successful West End debut in the Cameron Mackintosh production of Old Friends, celebrating the life and work of Stephen Sondheim. It was recently announced the production will transfer to Broadway for the 2025 season.

TICKETS: https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/bernadette-peters/

Insta: @officialbernadettepeters

X: @OfficialBPeters

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Rita, Sue & Bob Too! Embarks On 2025 UK Tour Starring Jake Quickenden

RITA, SUE & BOB TOO! EMBARKS ON NATIONWIDE TOUR IN 2025

Jake Quickenden to lead star cast in cult comedy play from Regal Entertainments Ltd

The smash hit stage version of cult classic comedy Rita, Sue & Bob Too! is set to embark on a new 10-week nationwide tour next spring.

TV favourite Jake Quickenden heads the stellar cast as Bob in the Regal Entertainments Ltd production which will visit 10 venues across the UKbetween Tuesday 4 February and Saturday 12 April 2025.

The tour opens at St Helens Theatre Royal on Tuesday 4 February and then travels to Hunstanton, Stockport, New Brighton, Birmingham, Southport, Billingham, Rhyl and Barnstaple before ending at the Liverpool Olympia from 9-12 April.

Tickets for all venues go on sale at 10am tomorrow, Friday 14 June.

Andrea Dunbar’s hilarious and gritty tale of love, lust and tested friendships is based on the 1987 British film and features a brilliantly funny script along with all the best 80s music, taking audiences on a riotous trip down memory lane through this cult classic. 

Rita and Sue are two working class girls from a run-down council estate who are about to finish their final year at school. In their spare time, they earn money babysitting for married couple Bob and Michelle. 

Behind Michelle’s back, Bob embarks on an affair with both Rita and Sue, who take it in turns with him in his car in the countryside. Michelle eventually finds out and leaves lothario Bob. When Bob later develops a preference for Rita, the two girls fall out but when Sue ends up in an abusive relationship, the trio are reunited.

Singer, actor and TV personality Jake Quickenden rose to prominence as a contestant on ITV’s The X Factor. Following his departure from the show in 2014 he was immediately signed up to appear on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here where he finishes as runner-up. His numerous other TV appearances include: The Chart Show, Lorraine, The Real Full Monty: On Ice, Celebrity Bumps, Celebrity SAS ‘Who Dares Wins’, and Dancing on Ice which he won in 2018 with his professional skating partner Vanessa Bauer.

His stage credits include the National Tours of The Full Monty, Hair, Footloose and Friendsical.

In 2019 he joined the cast of Hollyoaks as Woody.

Jake Quickenden said today: “I’m delighted to be joining the brilliant cast of Rita, Sue and Bob Too! Regal Entertainments have a fantastic reputation for producing exciting entertainment in Merseyside and I can’t wait to take the show all over the UK.

“Andrea Dunbar’s play is a classic and I can’t wait to play Bob.”

Jake will be joined by Hollyoaks’ Jessica Ellis as Michelle, Shameless and Coronation Street’s Warren Donnelly as Dad, Britain’s Got Talent’s Siobhan Phillips as Mum, Kay Nicholson as Rita and Jenna Sian O’Hara as Sue.

Jessica Ellis – Jessica is a Liverpool actress who was first cast in episodes of EastEnders and Doctors before joining the cast of the popular soap Hollyoaks in 2013, playing the role of Tegan Lomax for five years. After leaving Hollyoaks in 2018 she appeared in ITV crime drama The Bay.  She previously appeared as Michelle in Rita, Sue and Bob Too! at St Helens Theatre Royal in 2022, while her other stage credits include Bedroom Farce at Theatre by the Lake, Fat Friends the Musical on tour, and The Book of Will at Shakespeare North Playhouse.

Warren Donnelly – Warren is well-known to TV viewers as Stan in five series of Shameless and for his roles in hit shows like Tin Star, Moving On, Cold Feet and Life on Mars. He is currently playing Roscoe in Coronation Street. Stage credits include Slappers and Slapheads at Liverpool’s Royal Court and God’s Official at West Yorkshire Playhouse/Liverpool Everyman. He has appeared in several pantos for Regal Entertainments including Cinderella, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and The Wizard of Oz.

Siobhan Phillips – Singer and comedienne Siobhan is best known for wowing the judges as the only female finalist on Britain’s Got Talent in 2019. Described as ‘the love child of Peter Kay and Victoria Wood’, her hilarious self-penned songs really struck a chord with the nation.  Siobhan started her career at the age of 16 as a singer, but her personality also shone through with Sir Ken Dodd describing her as ‘a sunny new star with the voice of an angel and a natural comic ability’. In addition to Britain’s Got Talent, in 2003 she was a finalist on Channel 4’s Operatunity and she has also appeared on shows including This Morning, Loose Women, Lorraine and the Frank Skinner Show. Much in demand at major sporting events and by leading cruise lines, she has performed all over the world.

Kay Nicholson – Liverpool comedian, actress and writer Kay is reprising her role as Rita after appearing in the comedy for Regal Entertainments two years ago. Along with Rita, Sue and Bob Too! her stage credits include resident host at Magic Mike London. She regularly appears at Liverpool’s Hot Water Comedy Club and is also a regular guest on The Mild High Club award-winning comedy club podcast.

Jenna Sian O’Hara – Lancashire-born actress and singer Jenna’s stage credits include Beyond the Pier at The Royal Court, RuneSical at the Edinburgh Fringe and Achy Breaky Bride at St Helens Theatre Royal, while she has also appeared in Jack and the Beanstalk and Goldilocks and the Three Bears for Regal Entertainments.

Rita, Sue & Bob Too! is brought to the stage by Regal Entertainments Ltd and directed by Chantelle Nolan.

Director Chantelle Nolan said: “This is a very exciting announcement for us. After over 20 years of producing brilliant entertainment in St Helens, Regal Entertainments Ltd has developed a touring department and we can’t wait to share our five-star productions with new audiences from all over the UK.

“We’re very proud to develop talent and provide jobs for theatre professionals from all over the Liverpool City Region and to attract the top stars from the worlds of theatre, film and TV to star in our productions.

“We believe in supporting the region’s talent and we can’t wait to visit the fantastic towns and cities scheduled for our inaugural tour of Rita, Sue and Bob Too!

“Andrea Dunbar’s cult classic film was originally a hit play, and we know that it’s a show that you can see time and time again and still be rolling in the aisles with laughter, so be sure to book your tickets today.”

For more details on Rita, Sue and Bob Too! visit the tour website on www.rsbtuktour.com

SHOW LISTINGS 

RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO!

St Helens Theatre Royal

Tuesday 4 – Sunday 9 February 2025

sthelenstheatreroyal.com | 01744 756 000

Princess Theatre, Hunstanton

Monday 10 – Friday 14 February 2025

princesstheatrehunstanton.co.uk | 01485 532 252

Stockport Plaza

Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 February 2025

stockportplaza.co.uk | 0161 477 7779

Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

Wednesday 26 – Sunday 2 March 2025

floralpavilion.com | 0151 666 0000

Crescent Theatre, Birmingham

Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 March 2025

crescent-theatre.co.uk | 0121 643 5858

The Atkinson, Southport

Wednesday 12 – Saturday 15 March 2025

theatkinson.co.uk | 01704 533 333

Forum Theatre, Billingham

Wednesday 19 – Saturday 22 March 2025

forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk | 01642 552 663

Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl

Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 March 2025

rhylpavilion.co.uk | 01745 330 000

Queens Theatre, Barnstaple

Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 April 2025

queenstheatre-barnstaple.com | 01271 316 523

Liverpool Olympia

Wednesday 9 – Saturday 12 April 2025

liverpoololympia.co.uk | 0151 263 6633

Tickets for all venues go on sale at 10am tomorrow, Friday 14 June.

Interview/News | Innovative two-hander After Sex comes to Arcola Theatre this summer

Innovative two-hander After Sex comes to Arcola
Theatre this summer
Tuesday 16th July – Saturday 3rd August 2024

Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL

Izzy Parriss Productions and Three Sisters Productions are thrilled to present the world premiere of After Sex, a lyrical, charged, erotic two-hander which follows the trajectory of a couple through a series of post-coital scenes. From writer Siofra Dromgoole, this innovative production is about how the sex we have can change us: a love song to connection, and to people’s capacity to change each other’s lives

They’re on the same page. It’s just sex. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Anyway, it wouldn’t work. He hates kissing in the morning. She killed her guinea pigs. He doesn’t speak to his dad.They’re totally different people. It’s just sex.

With experimental staging, and a collaboration with intimacy director Stella Moss, After Sex pushes boundaries and challenges traditional narratives surrounding casual sex and abortion. Many peoples’ lives currently involve a string of short-term relationships: Dromgoole’s play explores intimacy and desire in the twenty-first century, attempting to find a new language for the ‘casual’ that doesn’t dismiss those experiences.

Playing the role of HIM will be Azan Ahmed (series regular on Van Der Valk, ITV; Count Abdulla, ITVX; The Father & The Assassin, National Theatre; The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Globe) alongside Antonia Salib (Hijack, Apple TV+; Moon Knight, Disney+) as HER.

“Why don’t you sit on my face and tell me about my star sign and see how long you can
keep talking for.”

Director Izzy Parriss says, The evolving dialogue around intimacy coordinators in film and TV sparked my interest in extending this conversation to the realm of theatre. My approach to intimacy in After Sex is inspired by a commitment to creating a safe and collaborative environment for actors to explore the complexities of sexual politics and 21st century relationships. Through this production, we hope to pioneer a new path for the UK theatre industry, where storytelling involving intimacy and sex is done with boldness, sensitivity, and authenticity, empowering the actors and our audiences.

This first co-production between Izzy Parriss Productions and Three Sisters Productions marks Izzy Parriss’ London directorial debut and Siofra Dromgoole’s debut three-week run. After Sex was a finalist for the 2023 Platform Presents Playwrights’ Prize (as Role Play). After Sex is supported by Arts Council England.

Alongside the production, there will be a free programme for theatre creatives on how to explore intimacy safely and professionally through theatre, created in collaboration with four professional intimacy directors.

Babies – A New-Born Musical Review

The Other Palace – until 14th July 2024

Reviewed by Fiona Leyman

5*****

If you’re anything like me, you’ll recall that traumatic experience in Year 11 when you were given a simulated plastic doll and told to care for it as if it were your own for the next seven days. The shocking revelation that the education system was using these plastic demons to prevent teen pregnancy (it certainly worked in my opinion!). 20+ years later, a brand-new musical debut on London’s West End, threatens to bring these previously suppressed memories to the surface. Could it have been as bad an experience as I remembered?

After seeing Babies – A New-Born Musical Concert Series at the Lyric Theatre last year, I knew this show would be a success. With its first public performance, this new musical had everything I’d ever wanted in a musical. Songs that will be stuck in your head for days, experiences that felt very similar to those I had at school, as well as a truly hilarious show. When it was announced 8 months later that a full production would be brought to audiences, I was very excited to see how this raw production had evolved into a highly polished West End show.

Babies – A New-Born Musical tells the story of nine Year 11 students who are assigned to care for a plastic doll that is crying and pooping for the next week. Each student imagined how they would handle this situation, with some thinking they would be fantastic and others thinking it was a complete waste of time. Babies manages to bring together the entire school demographic, including popular kids, geeks, and those who simply want to fit in. Each with their own set of struggles and stories, we are taken on a journey through this difficult period in their high school lives. However, this new musical is about more than just these demonic dolls, it also tells a powerful and heart-breaking story about one child’s inner struggles.

Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan have written a musical that is hilarious, infectious, heart-breaking/warming, and appropriate for all ages. Godfrey’s musical writing abilities are extraordinary, and he consistently produces hit songs. Baby Baby Baby and Hot Dad are earworms that will stick with you for days. They’ve been in my head since I saw this in November! Geelan’s ability to write such humorous content and combine it with a truly heartfelt topic is admirable. This duo’s combination of fantastic show songs and a well-developed story is what makes new musicals so enjoyable to watch.

A musical like this cannot succeed without a talented cast to play the characters. Each member of this relatively small cast is given their own moment in the spotlight, allowing them to shine and demonstrate their immense talents. Lauren Conroy returns from the Concert Series as the hardworking, overly stressed Jasmine. Conroy is an absolute star in my opinion, with such a powerful voice. Her voice outshines everyone around her, and she handles this role with ease.

Lucy Carter, who plays Lulu, is another returning concert series star. Carter is by far my favourite performer in both the Concert and this new production, with comedic timing, facial expressions, and mannerisms that rival some of the greats. Her portrayal of Lulu is so brilliant that she never breaks character and is one of the most endearing and hilarious characters in the show. I wouldn’t be surprised if Carter and Conroy become major West End stars in the future. Each star on this stage has so much to offer that I could go on for days about how talented they all are.

It’s good to know that my experiences with these demon dolls (mine was named Damian!) were not unique. Others resented these as much as I did! Babies – A New-Born Musical is not to be missed. You will cry with laughter, have your heart broken, and have incredible musical hit songs in your head for days, weeks, or months, making you want to return again and again.

ELEMENTAL – THE WATERMILL LAUNCHES NEW TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

ELEMENTAL

THE WATERMILL THEATRE LAUNCHES NEW TALENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

The Watermill Theatre are thrilled to announce the launch of their new talent development programme, Elemental, which will offer four early career artists the chance to develop expertise in their chosen discipline, build industry knowledge and fuel personal development and practise at The Watermill.

Elemental is part of the Watermill Theatre’s ongoing commitment to creating long-term, meaningful investment to artists and creatives. The unique programme spans the spectrum of creative roles. Applications are particularly welcome from those who are underrepresented in the industry.

The programme will be made up of the following elements:

  • Six sessions with a practising industry mentor in their relevant field, providing one-to-one support, advice, and networking opportunities.
  • Each Elemental Artist will have the opportunity to work on a main house show at The Watermill during their 2024-25 season. This role would be as an assistant working directly with a creative as part of the show’s team.
  • Tickets to watch all Watermill shows throughout the year to build connections and widen cultural experience.
  • Support and resource to develop their practise further through ongoing CPD.

The Watermill Theatre are accepting applications from: Designers, Directors, Movement Directors, Lighting Directors, Sound Directors and Musical Directors.

Applicants should have begun to make their own work or have gained experience in the industry as an assistant. They are expected to be at a stage where sharing practice with peers as well as receiving mentorship would be of great benefit.

Elemental Artists will be paid a fee. Funding may be available to support travel and access costs, to help remove barriers for artists. 

Artistic Director Paul Hart said, “Talent Development has always been a fundamental to what we do here at The Watermill.  For so many artists, this has been a theatre that has created opportunities and ways of accessing the industry, providing routes into the sector. And this opportunity will allow us to throw open the doors even wider; to meet a greater range of burgeoning creatives who might benefit from developing their practise with us. 

The theatre is a very special environment to continue your creative path with an incredibly supportive in-house staff and many creatives, backstage teams and actors coming and living onsite for every show we make in this beautiful setting. We really can’t wait to meet people from a variety of disciplines to start building a number of new collaborative partners.”

The closing date for applications is Monday 8 July 2024. Applicants are asked to write a short two-page cover letter or record a short video/audio recording (max. 5-minutes), explaining why they want to apply for the programme and how it will benefit them at this stage of their career. Applications should be emailed to Emily Beck (Theatre Administrator) via [email protected] with their CV and a completed Equal Opportunities monitoring form (this information will not be made available to anyone in any form other than anonymous data). Full application pack can be found here.

The Watermill Theatre is a Disability Confident Committed employer and will guarantee an interview to any applicant who self-identifies as deaf or disabled, and meets the application criteria. If an applicant wants to make use of this guarantee, they are asked to clearly state so on their cover letter.

The Watermill Theatre is an independent charity and this initiative has been made possible thanks to core funding from Backstage Trust.

https://www.watermill.org.uk/jobs

The Wizard of Oz Review

Birmingham Hippodrome – until 16th June 2024

Reviewed by Emma Millward 

5***** 

The Wizard of Oz is probably one of the best known and loved stories of all time. Based on L Frank Baum’s novel and the 1939 film. This adaptation started life as part of BBC reality show ‘Over The Rainbow’ in 2010.  The show’s aim was to cast the role of Dorothy Gale. The show premiered in March 2011, with a book adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams. It features many songs from the 1939 film, as well as featuring new songs and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This current revival of the show first premiered at The Curve Leicester in November 2022.

From the very loud opening notes from the orchestra, we are swept away by ever-changing projection backdrops (Douglas O’Connell), gloriously atmospheric lighting (Ben Cracknell) and clever set designs (Colin Richmond). We start, of course, in Kansas, with its farmland and buildings projected onto the backdrop. We meet our heroine, Dorothy Gale played beautifully by Aviva Tulley.  Her rendition of the classic ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ was spine tingling and met with rapturous applause. Tulley leads an amazing ensemble, all bringing their own unique take on such well-known characters. As in the movie, most of the performers play dual characters within the show. 

Dorothy has her famous companions on her trip along the famous yellow brick road. They provide many comedic moments. Benjamin Yates brings a sweet, goofy nature to the Scarecrow as he tumbles about the stage. Aston Merrygold shows off his acting talents as well as the singing and dancing we are used to. Nic Greenshields captures the Cowardly Lion’s timid, shy nature perfectly, while towering over the other cast members. Abigail Matthews is outstanding as the puppeteer for Toto. Dressed in grey, she soon blends into the background and really brings Toto to life. After a while, you really believe there is an actual dog onstage. Every head tilt, whimper and movement of Toto is perfectly timed. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Oz without the witches! We are treated to two very different, but equally outstanding Witchy performances. Emily Bull as Glinda (also Aunt Em) brings a sickly sweet, but funny edge to the Good Witch. She forgoes the usual bubble as transportation, and instead arrives on a beautiful pink scooter that drew huge laughs from the audience. As for the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, Craig Revel Horwood was absolutely born to play this role (plus the mean Ms Gulch). Throughout, you can see how much fun he is having and how he’s clearly relishing playing such an iconic role. His song ‘Red Shoes Blues’ at the start of the second act showcased a powerful singing voice. 

The yellow brick road is cleverly created with rotating platforms that the performers walk and dance across. The Oz set is more futuristic than the green-hued city we are accustomed to. The backdrop projection is an important part of the show and features many Oz-based ‘in jokes’ throughout. I spotted a picture of Judy Garland among other nods to the cast from the movie. Definitely keep an eye out for this!

Some hardcore fans may struggle with some of the updated aspects of the show, for example, the Wizards’s balloon being replaced by a spaceship and the Cowardly Lion being clad in Adidas trainers. But in my opinion, this just added more charm to a very familiar story. I really enjoyed spotting these little changes. 

The show has big red glittery shoes to fill, and it definitely succeeds in this goal! 

Here You Come Again Review

Curve Theatre Leicester – until 15th June 2024

Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh

5*****

Here You Come Again is a beautifully crafted and highly entertaining show, centered around Kevin (Steven Webb), a 40-year-old, wannabe/failed comedian whose life is crumbling around him. Having split from his boyfriend, he has moved back to Halifax from London, with his parents and has been forced to self-isolate in his old bedroom in the attic due to the pandemic. Lonely, anxious, self-doubting, and depressed, he turns to his Dolly Parton memorabilia to get him through these dark times, and that’s when she appears. We are taken on a hilarious and emotional journey with Kevin as Dolly’s, musings, magic, and music lifts him out of his funk. Her beautiful lyrics and storytelling songs offers him some real perspective and gives him the new-found confidence to put himself first and to dare to try.

Originally written by two-time Emmy award winner, Bruce Vilanch, Gabriel Barre (who also directs) and Tricia Paoluccio (who also plays Dolly), the show has now been adapted for the UK by acclaimed British playwright Jonathan Harvey (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Coronation Street). Here You Come Again is a stand-alone piece of original theatre, and a rather fabulous one at that. Its not to be mistaken for a Dolly Biopic. However, it’s chock full of her hits including ‘Islands in the Stream’ ‘Little Sparrow’, ‘Love is Like a Butterfly’, ‘9 to 5’, ‘Two Doors Down’, ‘Islands in the Stream’, ‘Jolene’ and the rather glorious ‘I Will Always Love You’. The proof that this production is not just your basic jukebox musical, is the inclusion of some of Dolly’s lesser-known hits such as ‘Me and Little Andy’ and the way that all the songs are cleverly woven into the production, paying the utmost respect to Parton’s storytelling prowess.

Paoluccio is the absolute embodiment of Parton in both look and vocals. Paul Wills’ iconic wigs and costume design nails the appearance, but its Paoluccio who encapsulates Dolly’s mannerisms. Practical, no-nonsense, can-do, wise, grounded, and real human beyond the star. Amidst the showstopping performance pieces we witness down to Earth Dolly, laughing, humble, helpful and being a true friend to Kevin. Webb portrays Kevin’s vulnerability and vivacity with aplomb. He endears with his self-deprecation, humour and is fully relatable, as we have all struggled with similar situations and are most definitely united by our covid emotions. Webb’s performances are hugely entertaining, his rendition of ‘Jolene’ alongside Dolly will haunt me forever, for all the right reasons.

Webb and Paoluccio blended so naturally together, with great audience interaction and playing off one another with a completely believable and authentic friendship. The performances as a whole are effortless, stunning and sublime. The main cast were supported by Aidan Cutler and Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke, who played multiple additional roles and were accompanied by a live band, Alex Akira Crawford, Ben Scott and Kevin Oliver Jones who all brought the attic to life. Choreography by Lizzi Gee, Paul Wills’ Design, Richard Pinners baffling illusions, Tim Deiling’s lighting and Tom Marshall’s sound combined to make this a sensational show.

Here You Come Again is full of humanity, humour and heart. You don’t need to be an ardent Dolly Parton fan to grasp the essence, although you might be after you see it. Uplifting, joyous and glorious. What would Dolly Do? She would urge you to see this show.

Moby Dick Review

Festival Theatre, Malvern – until 15th June 2024

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau

5*****

Moby Dick was first published as a novel in 1851. A cautionary tale about the self destruction that inevitably comes from being blinded by revenge – perhaps it should be essential reading for all country leaders upon election (or re-election). Adapted by Sebastian Armesto, I’ve not read the original so cannot say how faithful it was but this is a corker that fizzes along at a fair old lick.

The stage was shrouded in enough smoke to justify a 1970’s Hammer Horror, the lighting also adding to the atmosphere, piquing the interest. And then – “Call me Ishmael” – unfamiliar as I was with the work, I knew the opening line. That’s the thing with this work – you know it, you know lines from it, without knowing that you know it. It’s embedded in our culture (“there she blows” is another one you’ll recognise).

The entire cast were fabulous, bringing an impressive energy with tons of physicality as you would expect from the tale of life on board a whaling ship. There was dancing, deck swabbing and merriment aplenty but the drama really took off when hunting the whales, with a visceral realism that was breathtaking.

I will specially mention some actors who (for their time on stage together) produced intense performances… Ishmael (Mark Arends) and Queequeg (Tom Swale) made a very likable couple of unlikely friends who were, nonetheless, thoroughly convincing and rather touching. Starbuck (Hannah Emanuel) and Capt. Aheb (Guy Rhys) gave us a very different dynamic; more distant as befitting their status and more confrontational too as Starbuck tries to pull Ahab back from the brink of his destructive course. All of this was handled with commendable empathy thanks to Director Jesse Jones.

The whole production was thoroughly enhanced by the live music on stage. The sea-shanty’s sounded authentic (I’m not sure if they were, which shows how convincing the music was). Jonathan Charles is billed in the programme as Composer, Musical Director and onstage musician so I’m giving a rousing three cheers for his work! Hazel Monaghan and William Pennington were the other multi-instrumentalist musicians, producing an enormous range of emotions and effects (wind, filmic atmospherics to tingle the spine, storms etc). Wonderful.

The set was an ingenious, stark construction in wood and scaffolding. With the addition of some well placed (and timed) ropes, barrels and planks it all added to the storytelling and fleshing out the scenes.

In many ways it’s an apocalyptic work but it’s never depressing or downbeat. Sadness and loss are handled with great sensitivity, as is the killing of a whale – the actual point of the Pequod’s voyage, it was inevitable that this would be a feature. The journey (no pun intended) of the crew under Ahab’s leadership is something that could easily be overblown and become pantomimic but this production was crafted with a realism, sensitivity and a charm that does the fabulous Simple8 theatre group immense credit.

Powerful (at times shocking) stuff that packed a punch without being gratuitous, this was a stunning production that was thought provoking and entertaining in equal measure. I very much look forward to Simple8’s next production and encourage you all to catch this one while you can. Highly recommended.

The Syndicate Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 15 June 2024

Reviewed by Alison Beaumont

4****

Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate brings the first series of the hit tv show to the stage. Directed by Gaynor Faye (Kay’s daughter), in honour of her mum who sadly passed away in 2022 after she had adapted the tv show for the stage. I am a great fan of all Kay Mellor’s work and was interested to see how this brilliant series was brought from TV to a play.

The Syndicate is set in Leeds and tells the story of five supermarket workers who win £24 million on the lottery just as their jobs are under threat. It shows the dilemma faced when one of the syndicates members was behind on their payments to the death of one of the members and how money can not buy happiness.

The play starred a few well-known actors which I think was needed.

Gaynor Faye who many may know from Coronation Street and Fat Friends to name a couple of the credits to her name not only directed the play but also played the role of Kay.

Samantha Giles (Bernice from Emmerdale) portrayed the role of Denise the downtrodden dog loving employee. She very much had the Yorkshire accent to a tee.

Brooke Vincent (Sophie Webster from Coronation Street) played the part of Amy who is Stuart’s money grabbing girlfriend who spends money on the finer things in life. She has some good one liners and made people laugh, definitely a good choice for this role.

Jamie played by Oliver Anthony was in one of the series of the tv show of the syndicate. For me he was the best and funniest member of the cast. His character was a loveable rogue who always seems to get into trouble.

Leanne (Rosa Coduri-Fulford) is quite secretive about her past and portrays the part well.

William Ilkley plays Bob who is the boss of the supermarket is a kind, caring and honest man and was a good solid performer.

Benedict Shaw who has also appeared in Emmerdale and Hollyoaks plays Stuart who takes everything to heart and is Amy’s partner.

To me it brought back memories of the TV show and was entertaining with some funny jokes and easy to watch.

THE FLEET STREET QUARTER LAUNCHES BRAND NEW OPEN-AIR AMPHITHEATRE WITH YAMATO: THE DUMMERS OF JAPAN

Culture and creativity take centre stage as The Fleet Street Quarter unveils the City’s first new amphitheatre in 2,000 years

Image credit: Aaron Chown/PA 

In partnership with The London Festival of Architecture, the Fleet Street Quarter has launched ‘Assembly’, a remarkable open-air amphitheatre created by Urban Radicals, AKT II and Millimetre set against the historic backdrop of Kings College London’s Maughan Library Courtyard in the heart of the City of London

The new outdoor theatre will host a series of incredible free alfresco performances, talks, public debates and workshops throughout the summer from 11 June – 31 July in partnership with Sadler’s Wells, Kings College London, London Metropolitan University, and Troubadour Stageworks

Kicking off the programme are the world-renowned YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan with their new performance ‘Hinotori’ – The Wings of Phoenix, brought to the amphitheatre by Sadler’s Wells 

Today Tuesday 11 June, the Fleet Street Quarter celebrated the opening of ‘Assembly’, a spectacular new open-air amphitheatre in the heart of London, with a captivating performance from the world-renowned YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan, brought to the amphitheatre by Sadler’s Wells. Kicking off an exhilarating summer arts and culture programme, the dynamic Japanese Taiko drumming group dazzled visitors and local workers with a midday performance of their new show ‘Hinotori’ – The Wings of Phoenix.

Created by Urban Radicals, AKT II and Millimetre for the London Festival of Architecture 2024, ‘Assembly’, the amphitheatre by Fleet Street Quarter, is located in King’s College London’s historic Maughan Library courtyard and offers a unique space for the community to come together and celebrate diversity and artistry. The amphitheatre is designed with inclusivity in mind, freely open to the public. It seats 50 guests and is fully wheelchair accessible.

Throughout the summer until 31 July, visitors can expect a jam-packed line-up of free performances, talks, public debates, and art workshops, with the full programme to be released in the coming days. 

Highlights include:

Fix the Folio by Troubadour Stageworks (11, 25 June; 18, 25 July), a dynamic and interactive play set on 8 November 1623, where Isaac Jaggard must recover the scattered pages of Shakespeare’s First Folio after an unfortunate mishap. The audience is taken on a 45-minute adventure to help reorder 36 plays, making it a race against time to ensure Shakespeare’s works make it to print. 

Art Workshops by Bella Gomez (26 June; 3, 10 July), interactive workshops from bold and expressive surface pattern designer and muralist, Bella Gomez.

Climate panel discussion and talks during the Fleet Street Quarter’s two-day Climate Festival(25, 26 June) as part of Climate Action Week 2024, featuring senior leaders in the sustainability, property, finance, media and legal sectors.

Lectures from Dr Johnson’s House (27 June), informative talks about the life and works of Samuel Johnson, famous lexicographer who once lived in the Fleet Street Quarter.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Troubadour Stageworks (3, 9, 31 July), Troubadour’s rendition of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” promises an immersive experience that will transport the audience into a magical realm for 90 minutes. This epic yet intimate production is brimming with original songs and a sense of wonder that captures the essence of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy.

Lucy French, CEO of the Fleet Street Quarter, said: “We are very excited to unveil ‘Assembly’, the City’s first modern day amphitheatre which celebrates the Fleet Street Quarter’s vibrant cultural heritage and diversity. The inaugural performance by the YAMATO Drummers marks the beginning of an exciting summer season filled with artistic expression and community experiences. We’re delighted to partner with the London Festival of Architecture, to introduce this contemporary amphitheatre, the first in the City in 2000 years, set against the incredible backdrop of the Quarter’s rich cultural history, celebrating two millennia of the Quarter’s innovation and inclusivity.” 

To view the full programme of events, please visit www.fleetstreetquarter.co.uk