Darlington Civic Theatre – Islands In The Stream

Civic-Theatre-Hi-Res-Logo-1-117x300A NIGHT WITH DOLLY AND KENNY

Celebrating the queen and king of country music, Islands In The Stream comes to Darlington Civic Theatre on Thursday 4 February.

Stacked with country music’s greatest hits: Jolene, Ruby, 9 to 5, Lucille, Here You Come Again, The Gambler, I Will Always Love You, Coward of the County, Love is Like a Butterfly and Lady – Islands In The Stream is a celebration of two country music legends – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

With awesome vocals and the gentle humour of Dolly and Kenny’s legendary live shows, bring-the-house-down performances, a superb score and supreme musicianship, the show tells the story of the simple Smoky Mountains farm girl’s rise to country music’s biggest superstar.

So, leave your 9 to 5 worries at the door and sail away to another world with this all-new, spectacular stage show.

Islands In The Stream is at Darlington Civic Theatre on Thursday 4 February at 7.30pm. Tickets* are priced £21.50 & £23.50

*All prices include a £1 restoration levy

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk

Young Voices

 Young Voices

20th Anniversary Arena Tour

Sheffield Arena

Monday 18th-Friday 22nd January 2016

The largest Children’s choir in the world, Young Voices is celebrating their 20th anniversary in style by completing a marathon of 20 arena dates up and down the country with over 120,000 excited singing school children aged from 6-13.

Over 25,000 local children will be performing at Sheffield Arena this week with Young Voices over 5 nights from Monday 18th-Friday 22nd January.

Tickets purchased online at www.sheffieldarena.co.uk or by phone on 0114 256 5656 are priced £23.65 including booking fee.  Tickets purchased in person at the Arena box office are priced £22.58 including booking fee.

Young Voices provides an unrivalled musical opportunity for primary school children to perform all styles of music including folk, pop, rock and classical. Young Voices is designed to unify children from across the region, boost their confidence and provide lifelong memories for them and their families. Teachers & Pupils practice the dance routines and learn the songs in their music lessons for many months before they excitedly come together for the penultimate show at their local arena. This is an unmissable opportunity for local school choirs to sing in huge arenas alongside some of the most talented & well known artists from the world of music.

Their choirs range from 4,500 to 8,500 children, all performing at the same time to capacity audiences of friends and family. Nothing can prepare you for the sound of thousands of children singing in harmony. Young Voices combines the power of singing together as one, with accompaniment from a wide range of musicians and artists, to create an amazing performance.

Every year, schools across the country practise their music in class with their teachers to prepare themselves to take part in these massive concerts. Over the years the children in the choir have performed with artists such as Alexandra Burke, Joss Stone, and Gary Barlow as well as raising over 1 million pounds for Children’s charities such as CLIC Sargent.

“The most amazing time of my life” – X-factor winner Alexandra Burke on her time at Young Voices

Ben Lewis, Managing Director of Young Voices is adamant that “every pupil should be exposed to music at an early age, whether the joy is singing, playing an instrument or loving the sound of music, the potential benefits are huge. My father David, started Young Voices 20 years ago, I can’t believe how much we’ve grown. 20 arena dates to mark our 20th anniversary is such an achievement and shows the we are making a real difference to the children and schools”

“It was a most fabulous experience! All the children sung brilliantly and enjoyed shining their torches to create incredible effects. We all enjoyed the dancing and listening to all the singers and groups. Music Teachers at Foresters Primary School 

An evening with Laura Carmichael and Samantha Bond from Downton Abbey

Nuffield have announced a special evening with the stars of the internationally-acclaimed TV series Downton Abbey on Sunday 7th February at the Nuffield Theatre, in Southampton.

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley) and Samantha Bond (Lady Rosamund Painswick) will talk about their lives in TV, theatre and film at this special one-off event to raise funds for Nuffield’s charitable activities. The evening will be hosted by BBC South Today presenter Sally Taylor MBE.

Laura Carmichael, who made her West End debut in 2012, is from Southampton and starred in Nuffield’s 2008 production of The President’s Holiday. Other theatre credits include Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville Theatre), Plenty (Sheffield Crucible), The Fitzrovia (The Swan at the Globe) and films; Madame Bovary (Left Field Ventures) and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Studio Canal/Working Title).

Samantha Bond originally found fame on Nuffield’s main stage in the world premiere of Daisy Pulls It Off before it transferred to the West End. Other credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre), Passion Play (Duke of Yorks Theatre); What the Butler Saw (Vaudeville); King James Readings (National Theatre); alongside BBC TV’s Outnumbered and as Miss Moneypenny in James Bond.

“It is therefore my pleasure to invite two actresses who started out on the Nuffield stage back to Southampton to reflect on their own experiences.” Both actresses are Nuffield Associate Actors, alongside actor Tom Hiddleston and actress Celia Imrie, who are ambassadors supporting the vision for Nuffield as the leading producing theatre company in Southampton.Sam Hodges, Nuffield Director said, “In today’s climate, it’s essential to keep reminding everyone, from our audiences to our stakeholders, of what an important role regional theatre can play in developing and nurturing talent who then go onto make a global case for this country’s arts ecology.

Tickets for Downton Abbey – An Evening with Laura Carmichael and Samantha Bond are available online at nuffieldtheatre.co.uk or from the Box Office 023 8067 1771.

The Book of Mormon London cast from 1st February 2016

From 1st February 2016, the cast of The Book of Mormon at The Prince of Wales Theatre London, will be led by KJ Hippensteel as Elder Price and Brian Sears who continues in the role of Elder Cunningham. They will be joined by Asmeret Ghebremichael as Nabulungi, Stephen Ashfield as Elder McKinley, continuing in the role he originated for the West End production, with Delroy Atkinson, Richard Lloyd-King and Dean Maynard.

The full cast will include Kelly Agbowu, Philip Catchpole, Christopher Copeland, Brendan Cull, Joseph Davenport, Jonathan Dudley, Harry Francis, Lydia Fraser, Tyrone Huntley, Reece Kerridge, Alex Lodge, Joshua Lovell, Tania Mathurin, David McMullan, Brianna Ogunbawo, Oliver Ormson, Sean Parkins, David O’Reilly, Stephen Rolley, Jacade Simpson, Rhys Taylor, Kayi Ushe, Ellena Vincent, Rodney Vubya and T’Shan Williams.

The Book of Mormon
Prince of Wales Theatre
31 Coventry Street, London, W1D 6AS
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Age Restrictions: Not suitable for young children. Ages 17 and up.

Show Opened: 26th Feb 2013
Booking Until: 2nd Apr 2016
Important Information: Contains swearing, sexual content, offensive content.
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm

Zoe Wanamaker among cast of Elegy at the Donmar

Full casting for the Donmar’s production of Elegy has been announced with Harlequinade and Harry Potter star Zoe Wanamaker starring in the three-hander.

Wanamaker, who takes the role of Lorna, will also be joined by Barbara Flynn (Copenhagen and Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy) as Carrie and Nina Sosanya (The Young Chekov Season, The Vote) as Miriam.

The world premiere of Nick Payne’s play will be directed by Josie Rourke and appears to continue the scientific themes of Payne’s smash-hit Constellations being set in a very-near future in which advances in medical science mean that it’s now possible to augment and extend life.

Elegy will run at the Donmar Warehouse from 27 April to 18 June.

Full casting announced for Chicago UK tour

100772Full casting has been announced for the UK tour of Chicago.

Joining the previously announced John Partridge, Hayley Tamaddon and Sam Bailey will be Jersey Boys and Wicked actress Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma Kelly, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole star Neil Ditt as Amos Hart and A.D. Richardson (The Pirates of Penzance International tour) as Mary Sunshine.

The cast will be completed by Daniele Arbisi, Nicola Coates, Frances Dee, Adam Denman, Francis Foreman, Waylon Jacobs, Justin-Lee Jones, Dann Kharsa, Chelsea Labadini, Ellie Mitchell, Peter Nash, Helen Siveter, Kerry Spark, Lindsey Tierney and Emily Warner.

The award-winning musical is based on real life events from the 1920s and follows nightclub singer Roxie Hart, double-murderess Velma Kelly and smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn as they fight to keep Hart off death row after she shoots her lover.

Chicago, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb and includes well -known songs such as “All That Jazz”, “Razzle Dazzle” and “Cell Block Tango”.

Chicago will open on 12 February at the New Theatre, Oxford.

Big Brother Blitzkrieg Review

King’s Head Theatre 15-30 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

“Could Adolf come to the diary room?”  – Best housemate ever!

After receiving a second rejection letter from university, Adolf tries to kill himself, but wakes up in a strange place to find a homosexual in leopard skin top and pink shorts singing Cilla Black songs at him. That goes down well.

Hew Rous-Eyre and Max Elton’s play is a fantastic and timely satire demonstrating how easily a charismatic leader can manipulate isolated, ill-informed and disenfranchised people into accepting doctrine and carrying out acts of cruelty on certain parts of society.

The housemates are worrying that they are boring, and Adolf’s arrival (they have never heard of him) brings great excitement. Inside the house are Felix – gay, upbeat and always glugging red wine; M-Cat – eager to please and making Ali G look credible; Lucy – basically Katy Hopkins; Charlie – left wing and femi-gender (don’t ask!) and Rachel – quiet, motherly… and Jewish.

Watching Hitler playing ridiculous games and taking part in team tasks (he calls his team the Ubermenschen!) is a highlight – Felix’s description and impression of Gandalf, and Adolf’s frustration when his team haven’t heard of Frederick the Great are brilliant moments. On winning a task, Adolf’s luxury item request is better cleaning equipment – this is one meticulous man.

The insanity of the situation enables the audience to laugh as Adolf begins to rant about Rachel. (Stephen Chance is fantastic mimicking the familiar gestures and facial expressions, and also manages to give Hitler’s childishly defiant, snooty little comments a certain amount of warmth.) More sinisterly, he gently encourages the housemates to discuss and blame her for perceived injustices.

The constant animal metaphors and allegories Adolf spits at his bewildered housemates, among more familiar soundbites work their magic, and Adolf makes it through to the final three, alongside Charlie and Felix – “one of the most entertaining sub-humans I’ve ever met”!

This is a play full of belly laughs and surreal moments. The memory of Adolf Hitler sitting in the diary room chair with Felix in tight Tshirt and lip print shorts sitting on his lap will haunt me for months, along with the final, chilling image that brought reality crashing down on the audience.

Thought-provoking, funny and extremely relevant, this is a play you need to see.

The Long Road South Review

King’s Head Theatre 15-30 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Set on one hot day in 1960s Indiana, Paul Minx’s play revisits familiar themes of racial inequality and dysfunctional families, but does so with style.

The characters are basic stereotypes – the teenage daughter, spoiled rotten and used to manipulating every man she meets (Lydea Perkins – coquettish and so convincingly brattish you want to give her as slap); the alcoholic mother (Imogen Stubbs – simply amazing. There should be a new award for best drunk acting. Showing no vanity, with makeup becoming more and more panda-like, Stubbs stumbles around the stage and makes you feel increasingly guilty for laughing at her character); the brutish father (Michael Brandon – brilliantly switching from clownish dad to menacing master in an instant, and drawing audible gasps from the audience); and their “help”, noble, bible-quoting Andre (Cornelius Macarthy – effortlessly portraying Andre’s constant struggle to keep calm and dignified) and his outspoken girlfriend Grace (Krissi Bohn – all flaring nostrils and barely concealed anger at the world).

Andre and Grace want to collect their wages and leave to drive to Alabama to join the civil rights movement and start a new life with Andre’s daughter, but young Ivy doesn’t want Andre to leave, and will try anything to keep him there. Throughout the day, secrets from everyone’s past are revealed, leading to tense confrontations and a downbeat but wholly satisfying conclusion

We have seen these themes and characters many times before, but Minx manages to keep the story interesting with his sharp and witty writing, and the wonderful cast give committed and memorable performances. This play will make you angry, make you squirm (Ivy and her daddy – just wrong), but most of all, it will make you laugh.


Vampires Rock Ghost Train Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 15 January 2016

Vampires Rock is like watching a panto for grown-ups.  Its cheesy, its as camp as Christmas but packed full of rock songs and its a brilliant night out

This year sees a change from the usual story as we’re transported 100 years into the future.  As Club Live and Let Die burns to the ground, Barron Von Rockula played By Steve Steinman flees the ill fated club with his band of blood sucking vampires in search of a new home. Eventually they come across an old abandoned fairground ride The Ghost Train where they take refuge and make this their new home. The Barron and his motley crew then set a cunning plan to lure victims into the ride and to live in Rock n Roll hell forever

There are still the same terrible jokes, dancing girls and characters, and huge gaps in the storytelling, but that is the charm and the attraction of the show. You don’t go expecting anything less than mayhem and hilarity.  John Evans had a much larger vocal role than in previous incarnations, playing a new character, Van Halen Sing, the vampire hunter, but we still got to enjoy the spectacle of him clad head to toe in Lycra.

The gaps in the story allow some of the cast to get more involved in the singing.  Steve Steinman, John Evans and Victoria Jones – a female vampire – share the singing equally with outstanding vocals from all.  The band are as awesome as ever, some of the notes produced by Richie Barlow, Mary Garcia Garner, Matt Vero, Andy Lewis and Chris Reed deny what’s believable.  Hayley Russels rendition of Holding Out for a Hero is an incredibly dark version and possible the best singing ever.  With dancing, fire eating and aerial acrobatics from Victoria Jones and Chloe Bass, the show is a great ensemble piece

Songs included, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Don’t Stop Believin’, a rousing Sweet Child O Mine, Holding Out For A Hero and Because The Night.  The closing numbers of The Final Countdown, I Love Rock N Roll and Jump left everyone with a smile on their face

The set and location may have changed – and a lot of the playlist – but the energy and enthusiasm were still there.

It was all good fun, but don’t take it too seriously.

On tour around the UK



Beyond the Barricade Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 14 January 2016

3967159475Returning to Darlington, in their 17th year of touring, Beyond the Barricades played to a full house at the Civic.

The show began with a medley of songs from Miss Saigon. It started with the fast paced ‘The Heat is On’ and moved subtly into a couple of the slower and more moving Bui Doi. Then followed a medley from Phantom Of the Opera before suddenly stepping right back in time with Rebecca Vere singing ‘If I loved you’ from Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Carousel, at which the woman sat next to me was genuinely moved to tears

The show is made up of four singers – David Fawcett, who  introduces each section, Andy Reiss, who puts the show together and plays keyboard, Rebecca Vere and Katie Leeming – and they don’t just have impeccable voices in common, they have all played principals in Les Miserables.

From West Side Story sung brilliantly so to a compilation of Juke Box musical numbers from We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia the quartet showed their talent and versatility.

Andy and Katie duetted from the Little Shop of Horrors and  Fawcett and Vere had the audience laughing uproariously with their rendition of ‘A Song That Goes Like This’ from Spamalot. Showing the comedy in their music as well as the serious.  From Jesus Christ Superstar to Spamalot in one sow

The group finished with songs from Les Miserable section and you get what you expect from this quality line-up. From Rebecca’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and Katie’s ‘On My Own’ to David’s ‘Bring Him Home’ and Andy’s ‘Stars’, there is not a wrong note.

But the pièce de résistance is ‘One Day More’ – a song which is normally performed by eight principals, a 25 ensemble and a 40 piece orchestra. Beyond the Barricade has four singers and four musicians – it is simply an astonishing and spectacular performance.

This extended finale, all featuring songs from Les Mis, prompted an encore and loud appreciation from the crowd. The show is terrific entertainment from a versatile and talented group, whose enthusiasm for musical theatre was matched by their talent to share it with an appreciative audience.

Touring around the UK, go and see this outstanding show