Production images have today been released for David Hare’s Racing Demon, directed byJonathan Church, which plays at Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 8 July, with opening night this evening.

Olivier Award-winner David Haig will star as Lionel Espy in the multi-award winning play. He will be joined by Sam Alexander, Michelle Bonnard, Anthony Calf, William Chubb, Paapa Essiedu, Andrew Fraser, Ian Gelder, Rebecca Night, Amanda Root and Ashley Russell.

Four clergymen seek to make sense of their mission in inner-city London whilst facing their own personal crises. There’s Lionel Espy, a cleric whose faith is wavering as his parishioners dwindle; tabloid-hounded gay vicar Harry Henderson; ‘Streaky’ Bacon, a genial reverend with a taste for tequila, and a charismatic young curate, Tony Ferris whose arrival is set to fan the flames, whilst his sexual relationship with his lover turns to ash. The day of judgement is at hand for all.

Racing Demon is the first production in Jonathan Church’s inaugural season as Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Bath’s annual Summer Season. The programme of five plays will also include Sand in the Sandwiches by Hugh Whitemore from Tuesday 11 July – Saturday 15 July, the UK Premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest from Friday 21 July – Saturday 12 August, Looking at Lucian by Alan Franks from Thursday 3 August – Saturday 2 September and Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van from Wednesday 16 August – Saturday 2 September.

David Haig (Lionel Espy) has previously performed at Theatre Royal Bath in The Madness of George III and King Lear. Other recent theatre credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Old Vic), Blue/Orange (Young Vic), Guys & Dolls (Savoy Theatre) and Our Country’s Good(Royal Court), for which he won the Olivier Award. Notable film and television credits includeFour Weddings and a Funeral, Witness for the Prosecution, The Thick of It and Mo.

Jonathan Church succeeds Peter Hall as Artistic Director, who established the Theatre Royal Bath Summer Season in 2003 with his company’s annual residencies. Church was previously Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, overseeing over 100 productions including Taken at Midnight, ENRON, Macbeth with Sir Patrick Stewart, Sweeney Todd and Gypsy. Following his departure from Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Church set up his own independent production company, which he will continue to lead alongside his new position at Theatre Royal Bath.

David Hare is one of the UK’s foremost playwrights and screenwriters with plays including The Judas Kiss, Skylight, Amy’s View and Plenty. He received Academy Award nominations for his adaptations of The Hours and The Reader.

Jesus Christ Superstar – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre – Full casting






  • Already announced: Declan Bennett, David Thaxton, Peter Caulfield and Evening Standard Award-winner Tyrone Huntley reprise their roles of Jesus, Pilate, Herod and Judas
  • Maimuna Memon takes the role of Mary
  • Phillip Browne plays Caiaphas with Sean Kingsley reprising his performance as Annas
  • Tim Newman plays Simon Zealotes with Phil King reprising his performance as Peter


Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has today announced completed casting for Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, which returns to the theatre from 11 August in an extended run through to 23 September 2017. Already announced are Declan BennettTyrone Huntley (who won the Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award for his performance in 2016), David Thaxton and Peter Caulfield, who reprise their roles of Jesus, Judas, Pilate and Herod. The 2016 production won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival and Evening Standard Award for Best Musical.

Maimuna Memon takes the role of Mary. Previous credits include Winnie and Wilbur (Birmingham Rep), Lazarus (King’s Cross Theatre), The Busker’s Opera (Park Theatre) and Into The Woods (Royal Exchange Manchester).


Phillip Browne and Sean Kingsley play Caiaphas and Annas. Phillip’s previous credits include Ain’t Misbehaving (Sheffield Crucible), Anything Goes (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Piaf (Donmar) and Ragtime (Piccadilly), and he also appeared in the 2012 film Batman, The Dark Knight Rises. Sean, who recently appeared in The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic), reprises his 2016 performance as Annas. His previous credits include Jersey Boys (UK Tour), We Will Rock You (European Tour), Little Shop of Horrors (Birmingham Rep) and Mamma Mia! (International Tour).


Tim Newman and Phil King play Simon Zealotes and Peter. Tim’s credits include Memphis (Shaftesbury), Mamma Mia! (International Tour), Grease (Piccadilly), Footloose (Novello) and All The Fun of the Fair(Garrick/UK Tour) for which he received a WhatsOnStage Award nomination. Phil, who reprises his performance as Peter, composed the music for, and appeared in, To Kill a Mockingbird at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His previous credits also include Jane Eyre (Bristol Old Vic/National) and, as a musician, he plays festivals and fayres across the UK, as well as Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and New York.


Previous cast members returning to the production are Josh DeverRhys WhitfieldCharlotte Riby and Sinead Long. They are joined by Mark DugdaleIvan De FreitasStevie HutchinsonJavar ParkerNuno QueimadoCleve SeptemberTinovimbanashe SibandaKirstie SkivingtonChristopher TendaiTara Young, and Dale White. The Soul Girls are played by Kayleigh McKnightLauran Rae and Nicholle Cherrie.


With direction by Timothy Sheader, design by Tom Scutt, choreography by Drew McOnie, musical supervision by Tom Deering, lighting design by Lee Curran and sound design by Nick Lidster for Autograph, Jesus Christ Superstar was a sell-out in 2016 and, in addition the Olivier and Evening Standard Award-wins, also received a further five Olivier Award nominations, for Best Theatre Choreography, Best Lighting, Best Sound, Outstanding Achievement in Music, and Best Actor in a Musical (for Tyrone Huntley).


The production opens at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in April 2018.


The 2017 Open Air Theatre season also includes On The Town, (until 1 July) directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. This is followed by Dickens Uncovered celebrating the greatest storyteller of London life, Charles Dickens. Artistic Director Timothy Sheader directs A Tale of Two Cities (7 July – 5 August), a new play by Matthew Dunster adapted from the original Dickens novel and, developing their programme of work made especially for families, Caroline Byrne directs a new play version of Oliver Twist created for everyone aged six and over adapted by Anya Reiss (17 July – 5 August).


Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre was voted London Theatre of the Year in the Stage Awards 2017, and recently announced a collaboration with English National Opera for their 2018 season, with Timothy Sheader directing Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (22 – 30 Jun 2018).

Network of Independent Critics announces participants for Edinburgh 2017


The Network of Independent Critics’ aims

•    Providing accommodation for independent critics to cover Edinburgh Festival Fringe without breaking the bank.
•    Enabling increased media coverage of niche interest and emerging work, which struggles to find representation in the mainstream press.
•    Not a publishing platform, but a support system for established and developing critics who work independently for little or no pay.
•    Participants will be selected based on passion, knowledge and a proven track record within their chosen area of the performing arts industry.

After a successful first season at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the NIC has again selected a team of specialist critics who will each focus on niche or genre performance over a six-night stay at the Fringe.

Tiffany Asta: musical theatre & cabaret
Jafar Iqbal: BAME performance
Saoirse Anton: children’s theatre
Rosie Snell: new writing
James Waygood: LGBTQIA theatre
Joanna Trainor: non-UK comedy
Eve Allin: new writing & student work
Holly O’Mahony: emerging talent
Hannah Greenstreet: feminist & LGBTQIA work
Charlotte Coster: book adaptations
Chanel Williams: dance & new musical theatre
Daniel Perks: solo performance
Rebecca Nice: circus & physical theatre
Marianna Meloni: new writing
Francesca Peschier: visual/scenography-led work
Beth Lawless: physical theatre
Meagan Mulgrew: classics & classical adaptations
Alexandra Gray: dance
Jess Howley-Wells: sexual politics & gender identity
David James: performance art & experimental theatre
Callum Moorin: stand-up & comedy
Kathryn Osenlund: political theatre & performer process

Each critic will see a minimum of 15 performances within their specialist area, and their responses may include traditional written reviews, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, tweets and visual responses.

Last year, over 400 reviews were produced by 19 participating critics, as well as additional social media content and reportage. The NIC scheme was launched by Laura Kressly and Katharine Kavanagh to support the work of independent critics and facilitate their continued practise, whilst generating visibility for arts that regularly slip below the radar of the mainstream press.

Whilst this critical coverage is an increasingly valuable resource for the arts industry, the work remains largely unpaid and the cost of visiting Edinburgh during Fringe season can be prohibitive. By joining forces to rent an apartment as a group, the costs are considerably lowered.

Rebecca Nice took part in last year’s scheme, and will be returning again 2017: ’It has been so essential and a catalyst for me to raise my profile. I loved it and it has been so important to me in an incredibly hard climate. Without the cheap accommodation NIC offer, none of the rest would have been possible’.

Rebecca will also be taking part in a second edition of the #CircusVoices critical development residency run in association with NIC and The Circus Diaries, exploring analytical languages and communication strategies for the circus industry.

‘Circus artists exist in a culture of doing, not discussing, their work,’ explains Katharine Kavanagh, who leads the scheme. ‘Establishing norms of critical discourse is vital for development of the circus sector.’

Restaurant Breathes New Life into Legendary Leeds Venue


HOME is re-imagining the world of fine dining and opening on Kirkgate later this summer, at a city centre location fondly remembered under a number of guises for more than a century.


Elizabeth Cottam, from Leeds – much-praised semi-finalist of last year’s BBC MasterChef – and Mark Owens, former Head Chef at the Michelin-starred The Box Tree in Ilkley, have announced the location for their new restaurant as 16-17 Kirkgate in Leeds city centre. HOME – which describes its approach as ‘fine dining, reimagined’ – will be opening its doors in August, and its offer includes a ten-course tasting menu, featuring an impressive range of seasonal and local ingredients.

The concept and name for HOME is inspired by its creators’ love of fine dining – rooted in a strong sense of heritage and provenance – offered with a welcoming atmosphere. The carefully-chosen 3669 sqft venue for HOME has previously been a dance hall, billiard club, cinema and most recently Darbar restaurant, offering Indian cuisine with a fondly remembered welcome from the street.

16-17 Kirkgate is now being transformed into HOME – a 65 cover restaurant with bar area. An additional exclusive chef’s table experience is also being offered for serious foodies with unique insights into the creation of the dishes, and being served by Elizabeth and Mark throughout the evening. The duo have a vision and commitment to bring something completely new to the world of fine dining and the claims and aspirations for HOME are well-grounded.

Elizabeth Cottam explains: “After MasterChef I knew I wanted more from, and for, the Yorkshire restaurant scene. Encouraged by the judges’ recommendations that I had professional potential I sought out more experience, and met Mark Owens at The Box Tree where we quickly found we had lots in common with our approach – not least our shared passion for great food, and even better service. It really got Mark and I thinking that there could be a place for something else in the Leeds restaurant scene.”

Elizabeth secured a residency at The New Ellington hotel in Leeds city centre last year, working with Mark as a consultant, which achieved a raft of five star reviews for their food. Customers also commented about feeling like they’d been invited to someone’s home for dinner, thanks to the passion with which their dishes were described and the warm welcome they received.

Elizabeth continued: “The HOME name was borne out of our diners’ comments and we are delighted to have found the location for its permanent location on Kirkgate. As someone who is Leeds born and bred, I’m really pleased to have found a place with such a rich heritage, and it’s now a part of the city that has been given a a new lease of life thanks to recent developments like the Victoria centre with John Lewis and other high-end outlets. We are very excited to have secured this venue and that major work has now started to create something unique and really special for Leeds.”

The launch ten course tasting menu for HOME is still under wraps but it is confirmed that all of the menus – three course lunch menus and smaller five course evening menus will also be available – will change every month and all will feature the very best in locally, regionally and nationally-sourced ingredients.

Mark Owens commented: “We’re coming at this with a ‘HOME by name, home by nature’ approach and our monthly-changing menus will be a true celebration of everything Great British produce has to offer. We’ve spent a lot of time working together on our first menus and I know that we’ve found the very best that the country has to offer.”

To register for notifications about when first bookings are being taken for HOME and for further information please go to

Elizabeth Cottam concluded: “HOME is being created through our creative and nurturing approach to all elements of our work: From the design of the restaurant to the bringing together of our team of the very best local talent, and from the sourcing of the very best seasonal produce our country has to offer to the creation of some very special treats and surprises for our diners. HOME is something we are really proud of already and we’re looking forward to opening our doors in August with a really warm welcome.”


Kathy Burke directs THE RETREAT by BAFTA-winning Sam Bain at Park Theatre

Debbie Hicks and Jesse Romain in association with Park Theatre present


The World Premiere of


By Sam Bain

Directed by Kathy Burke


At Park Theatre

From Thursday 2 November to Saturday 2 December 2017


Park Theatre will host the World Premiere of new comedy drama The Retreat, the first play by BAFTA award-winning writer Sam Bain, directed by Kathy Burke, playing in PARK200 from Thursday 2 November to Saturday 2 December 2017.


Luke, a former high-flyer from the City, is sitting in a remote stone hut halfway up a mountain in the Scottish Highlands.  He is on a meditation retreat, searching for the inner peace that so far has eluded him. The trouble is, not only will his mind not settle, but an uninvited guest arrives – his obnoxious older brother, Tony. Is Tony everything that’s wrong with Luke’s old life, or is he the only one who can really see into his soul? And is Luke’s quest for spirituality a way of transforming himself, or is it just another form of addiction? The Retreat is a sharp new comedy drama about a world where we can never escape ourselves, or find ourselves either.

Sam Bain, with Jesse Armstrong, has co-created and co-written nine series of the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, winning BAFTA, British Comedy, Royal Television Society and Writers Guild of Great Britain Awards. Sam is also co-creator of Channel 4 comedy drama Fresh Meat which ran for four series and won a British Comedy Award. Film writing includes Four Lions, co-written with Chris Morris, which premiered at Sundance and won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut. Sam’s first solo series Ill Behaviour will premiere on BBC iPlayer before being broadcast on BBC Two this Summer.


Kathy Burke is a director, actor and writer, well known for television work including Ab Fab, Harry Enfield and Chums and Gimme Gimme Gimme, for which she won a British Comedy Award. Film work includes Absolutely Fabulous the Movie, Pan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Nil By Mouth, for which she won Best Actress at Cannes.Work as a theatre director includes Betty (Vaudeville Theatre), Kosher Harry (Royal Court), Out in the Open andBorn Bad (Hampstead Theatre), Blue/Orange (Sheffield Crucible), The God of Hell (Donmar Warehouse), Smaller(Lyric Theatre) and The Quare Fellow and Once a Catholic (Tricycle Theatre).

The Retreat is written by Sam Bain and directed by Kathy Burke. Set and Costume Design is by Paul Wills with Lighting Design by Paul Keogan and Sound Design by John Leonard. It is produced by Debbie Hicks and Jesse Romain in association with Park Theatre.


Casting is to be announced.


Twitter: @TheRetreatPlay

Facebook: /TheRetreatPlay



Thursday 2 November – Saturday 2 December 2017


Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP

Performances:    Tue – Sat Evening 7.30pm; Thu and Sat Matinees 3.00pm

                                Parents & Babies performance 1.00pm Wed 22 Nov

Press Night:         Tuesday 7 November, 7.00pm

Tickets:                 Tue – Thu and Sat Matinees £20.00 – £26.50 (Conc £18.50)

Fri and Sat Evening £25.00 – £29.50 (Conc £22.00)

Previews £18.50. Under 16’s £15

Box Office:   | 020 7870 6876

Recommended for ages 14+

Dirty Dancing Review

REVIEW: DIRTY DANCING (Sunderland Empire) ★★★

June 28, 2017 

For: West End Wilma

Dirty Dancing

I have a confession – I’m not a fan of the film version of Dirty Dancing. But this new musical version on tour is actually quite good. Vibrant, exciting and very sensual, Dirty Dancing positively simmers with sexuality and the audience in Sunderland loved it.

The first act centres on 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (played by Katie Eccles), on holiday with her sister and parents at Kellermans. Baby is about to learn some major lessons in dancing and life when she meets Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths). He’s the resort’s hunky dance instructor who is from the wrong side of the tracks and has never forgotten it. Johnny initiates Baby into rock ‘n’ roll (“dirty dancing” in the eyes of her uber-conservative parents) and other delights of the young and restless as he trains her to take the place of his regular dance partner Penny Johnson (Carli Milner) who has some of the most defined calf muscles ever!) when the latter, who has an illegal termination, can’t participate in the big Sheldrake Hotel Dance.

It takes a brave man to strip down to less than his boxer shorts in front of a Northern crowd but, Griffiths seems happy enough with his bare backside showing on stage and so did the audience. But aside from being a physical spectacle, his portrayal of Johnny Castle is a one of poise, and polished perfection as a dancer. Eccles journey from shy virgin to confident young woman is utterly convincing. There was palpable onstage chemistry between Griffiths and co-star Eccles which no doubt helped.

Lizzy Ottley (Baby’s sister, Lisa) gives a stand-out performance, her hula dancing and off-key singing getting the biggest laugh of the night. Samuel Humphreys pulls off an excellent Neil Kellerman, suitably awkward in his high-waisted pants and starched white shirt, combining hotel management zeal with some inelegant dad dancing.

Some of the more iconic songs are pre recorded — including “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey, Baby!” “Maybe” and “Cry to Me.” Others are played by a live on-stage band under Jo Servi’s superb direction and some, such as “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” are sung by ensemble members Michael Kent as Billy Kostecki and Sophia MacKay as Elizabeth who shine through with their brilliant voices and charismatic performances almost acting like a set of narrators as the show’s vocal leads.

For this musical, the dancing must be, well, dirty, and Gillian Bruce’s choreography does not disappoint. There’s plenty of grinding, sensual stroking and swaying, with some impressive lifts to boot. And some nice effects when Baby and Johnny practice their dance moves on a log in the river, in an expansive grassy field and in a lake.

Roberto Comotti’s set is impressive in its size and versatility, using a rotund to change into many scenes seamlessly.

Of course the end is perfect with Johnny coming back for his love Baby and uttering the immortal lines (along with almost everyone else in the theatre) “No one puts Baby in the corner”.

Dirty Dancing is by no means a ground-breaking piece of a theatre, but it is clearly adored by audiences, who were whooping and clapping throughout (particularly at the iconic lift) and dancing in the aisles at the end. A wonderful party atmosphere and well worth the visit to see this iconic production on stage.

Grease Review

Mayflower, Southampton – until Saturday 8 July 2017.  Reviewed by Karen Millington-Burnet

Well, it wasn’t the film, but Grease in the Mayflower knocked out all the toe tapping tunes we love and launched into a flying start with the on-stage band kicking off with gusto.

What a joy to see Jimmy Osmond back on stage as Teen Angel, though no longer the youngster he once was. He stunned us with his natural humour, empathy with the audience and cracking voice – a star performance as was to expected from such a seasoned campaigner; long may he continue to delight us! He lifted and carried the cast with a slightly miss-cast Tom Parker as Danny who couldn’t quite carry off the Travolta routine – we couldn’t help feeling that Tom Senior and Michael Cortez, who would normally have been understudies, would have made stronger Danny’s.  That said, everyone has to start somewhere and we hope Tom Parker will keep developing.

Danielle Hope’s Sandy made a great partner to Danny and led the girls strongly, lifting Louisa Lytton’s Rizzo to a very strong presence.  Special mention to Callum Evans who made the most of the character, used the full space of the stage and brought the hapless Eugene to life for us.  We did enjoy Ryan Keenan’s Doody and his very able guitar playing.  All in all, a high energy cast with a great feel for complex routines and plenty more potential to offer; well deserving of their standing ovation at the conclusion.

Memorable moments included the transformation of Greased Lightening, the car, from wreck to sparkling glitter ball. Though this was countered by a less than transformative set generally.  As ever we were cheered up with the wonderful Mayflower ice creams at half time!

Slightly worryingly, come the second half, there was a general emptying-out of the seats around us in the Stalls; not quite sure why – the performance didn’t warrant a walk-out in any way.  A slightly disappointing response to the Southampton run which should only get stronger after this first night.  We wish the cast and crew all the best for the next fortnight in town.

Full Cast Announced for Tour of Wait Until Dark






Graeme Brookes and Tim Treloar will play Croker and Roat respectively in Frederick Knott’s thriller, WAIT UNTIL DARK. They join the previously announced Jack Ellis as Mike, Karina Jones as Susy and Oliver Mellor as Sam Henderson. Shannon Rewcroft and Thomas McCarron complete the cast as Gloria and Policeman.

The tour will begin at Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne on 24 August 2017, with a national press night on Tuesday 5 September 2017 in Richmond.

Graeme Brookes has just finished playing Alan in The Original Theatre Company’s production of Invincible in New York City, as part of the Brits Off Broadway festivaland on tour in the UK. Graeme’s other theatre credits include The Tempest (Teatr Modrzejewskiej/Colchester Mercury), A View from the BridgeThe Rivals; A Slight Ache/The Lover, King David – Man of Blood (all Colchester Mercury Theatre) and Transmissions (Birmingham Rep).

Tim Treloar most recently played Teddy in House and Garden at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury. His theatre credits include The Heart Of Robin Hood, Thomas More, Sejanus, Believe What You Will, Back To Methuselah , Richard II , Romeo And Juliet (all for the RSC), Birdsong (UK tour) and Henry V (National Theatre). His television credits include Dark Heart (ITV) and Father BrownFramedCasualtySilent WitnessDoctorsHolby City and The Bench (all BBC).

Set amidst the social turbulence of 1960s London, the play follows the story of Susy, a blind woman who, left alone in her apartment, becomes the victim of an elaborate scam hatched by a group of conmen. Susy is left to fend for herself, and eventually finds a way to turn the tables on the conmen and give them a taste of life in the dark.

Frederick Knott, best known for writing Dial M For Murder, wrote WAIT UNTIL DARK in 1966. Audrey Hepburn starred as Susy in the 1967 film adaptation, for which she was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress. The film is often ranked as one of the top 100 scariest films of all time.

WAIT UNTIL DARK will be directed by Alastair Whatley, with designs by David Woodhead, lighting by Chris Withers, sound and music by Giles Thomas, fight coordination by Rc-Annie and casting by Ellie Collyer Bristow. The national tour is produced by Tom Hackney for The Original Theatre Company.


Facebook: TheOriginalTheatre 

Twitter: @OriginalTheatre



24 August – 2 September        Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne        01323 412000



5 – 9 September                      Richmond Theatre                                         0844 871 7651           



12 – 16 September                  Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham                   01242 572573



19 – 23 September                  Cambridge Arts Theatre                                01223 503333



25 – 30 September                  Salisbury Playhouse                                      01722 320333                                                                                                                    


3 – 7 October                          Exeter Northcott Theatre                               01392 726 363



10 – 14 October                       Lichfield Garrick Theatre                              01543 412121



24 – 28 October                      Malvern Festival Theatre                                01684 892277



31 October – 4 November       Palace Theatre, Southend                              01702 351135



6 – 11 November                     New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich                        01473 295900



14 – 18 November                   New Theatre, Cardiff                                       029 2087 8889           



21 – 25 November                   York Theatre Royal                                        01904 623568                                                                                                                                        On sale 17 July

 28 November – 2 December   Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford                            01483 440000                              On sale 23 July




When MAMMA MIA! opened at Leeds Grand Theatre there was one group of Yorkshire women who simply had to see the show.

In February 2016, Helen Butters, Frances Davies, Niki Doeg and Janette Benaddi, better known as The Yorkshire Rows, became the first women to row across the North Sea.  A story of determination, friendship and true Yorkshire grit, they have since written a book in which they tell of singing ABBA songs to keep them going.

Speaking after the show, Helen Butters said: “Sitting in the theatre watching MAMMA MIA! brought back so many wonderful memories of our time on the ocean. The Show was amazing; the atmosphere in the theatre was incredible and getting to meet the cast afterwards was such a treat.”

Facing storms, hurricanes, 40 foot waves, sleep deprivation and power failures, the four women crossed the Atlantic in 67 days, 5 hours and 2 minutes earning them a world record for being the oldest women’s crew to cross any ocean.

Janette Benaddi said: “One of our favourite songs to sing was I Have a Dream. We changed the words so instead of ‘crossed the stream’ we sang ‘crossed the ocean’ – it didn’t sound right, but it felt right; it was our dream to cross the ocean.”

MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs through an enchanting tale of family and friendship on a Greek island paradise. To date, it has been seen by more than 60 million people – in 50 productions – in 16 different languages. In 2008, MAMMA MIA!The Movie became the highest-grossing live action musical film of all time.

The team of four women have raised thousands of pounds for various charities and now work with women’s groups and schools to encourage people to take up sport or to challenge themselves.

MAMMA MIA! is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday 8th July 2017


Tickets are priced from £20 (RV) to £59.50

(prices include a £3 booking fee. Postage charge £1 where applicable)


Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700


Edinburgh International Festival Standard Life Opening Event Bloom

Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom

  • The third in a series of free to the public digital commissions celebrates the opening of the 2017 Festival season
  • Celebration of 70 years of the International Festival and Edinburgh’s status as the world’s Festival City
  • Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom reimagines the St Andrew Square inviting audiences to travel through a magical digital installation
  • For the first time the Opening Event takes place on two nights, Friday 4 & Saturday 5 August
  • Free event tickets released at 10.00am on Monday 3 July
  • A family of sponsors, donors, collaborators and city agencies have come to gether to make Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom possible


In 1947, Sir John Falconer – Lord Provost of Edinburgh and the International Festival’s first Chair – spoke of his ambition that the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival should ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’. 70 years later, Edinburgh has bloomed into the world’s Festival City and its impact has been an constant inspiration, propagating new festivals throughout Europe and beyond. The International Festival continues to celebrate our highest artistic achievements, our imagination and creativity, our generosity and diversity.

The third in a series of commissions from the International Festival’s Artistic Associates 59 Productions, the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is a an epic public artwork by 59 Director Leo Warner, which brings together large-scale animation and architectural projection mapping, celebrating the cultural re-ignition sparked by the Festival’s creation. Featuring a newly commissioned musical score from award winning composer Nick Powell, the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom charts the joyful transformation of Edinburgh, from the darkness and division of the post-war years to the colour and vibrancy of today’s Festival City.  Bloom draws upon the architectural beauty of the new town, Edinburgh’s rich cultural heritage and the technological innovation for which the city is renowned.

Today the International Festival unveiled new information about the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, naming the location as St Andrew Square in Edinburgh’s New Town. Following the successes of The Harmonium Project in 2015 and 2016’s Deep Time, this year’s opening event sees 59 Productions transform not only a single building but use the facades around St Andrew Square to create a vast canvas for projection-mapped animations. The Square becomes an immersive environment of colour, texture, sounds and sensations that places the audience at the centre of a visually stunning digital constellation.

The International Festival also announced that the Opening Event will take place on two nights for the first time, on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August, giving audiences another opportunity to experience the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom during the opening weekend of the International Festival. The event runs from 10pm to midnight on a 20 minute loop, allowing audience members to explore it at their own pace.

The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is made possible by support from a portfolio of partners across the private and public sector. This is the second event in a three year partnership between the International Festival and Standard Life – the International Festival’s Opening Event Partner – which supports the the event alongside other key funders including EventScotland and the University of Edinburgh, which have supported the Festival’s Opening Event since it’s inception in 2015. This year the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom also enjoys support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO Fund. This year the EXPO Fund has made an additional £300,000 available to support the Festivals celebrating 70 years of the Festival City. Edinburgh International Festival is working with Essential Edinburgh to realise the event.

Entry to the event is free. To guarantee access for the 10pm start, a limited number of tickets are available for both nights and will be released from 10am on Monday 3 July. Ticket holders can access the event arena from 9pm ahead of the event beginning at 10pm on both evenings. Non-ticket holders are also welcome to attend and will be admitted from 10.30pm on a first come basis.

Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival Director, said: ‘Since 1947 the International Festival has welcomed the world to Edinburgh, creating an electric atmosphere in this city which has radiated back out across the globe. That energy has transformed Edinburgh and sparked not only the development of the Festival City we know today, but the creation of countless other festivals around the world. We’ll experience that trans-formative power first-hand in Bloom, as 59 Productions create a digital constellation in the centre of our city that places our story and Edinburgh’s people at its heart. It takes a huge amount of collaborative work to mount an event like this, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our partners. I’d like to thank all of them – Standard Life, the Scottish Government, EventScotland, the University of Edinburgh, Blue-i Theatre Technology and Mclcreate – their support enables us to present this incredible celebration of our Festival City in its birthday year’.


Leo Warner, Founder of 59 Productions and Director of Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom said: ‘Following two wonderful years working with Fergus and his team at the International Festival to create increasingly ambitious and engaging opening events, we faced a challenge in conceiving a new piece befitting the significance of this anniversary year. We decided to place audiences inside the event, encompassing them within nearly half a linear kilometre of projection-mapped architecture and bespoke lighting fixtures, and use music, sound and light to tell a story celebrating the 70 year history of the International Festival and the associated Edinburgh festivals, and the immesurable impact that it has had on the cultural world.’


Standard Life’s Chief Executive Keith Skeoch, said: ‘We’re delighted to be sponsoring the Edinburgh International Festival’s Opening Event, particularly as it celebrates its 70th Anniversary. The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom will look back and celebrate the creativity and achievements of this world-class Festival. Both Standard Life and the International Festival have a rich heritage that reflects our shared commitment to excellence and our forward-looking approach, often leading the way through collaboration and innovation. The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom will bring many examples of this to life and will inspire others for the future too.’

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: ‘I never tire of championing Scotland’s outlook as a welcoming and progressive nation and this is particularly demonstrated in the arts. In 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival boldly invited artists from across Europe to perform in the capital. 70 years on, we’re revered as a festival nation that welcomes performers and audiences from every corner of the globe. We boosted the Scottish Government’s EXPO Fund by a further £300,000 to mark Edinburgh’s 70th anniversary as a festival city. I am delighted that part of this will support the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, an ambitious, inspiring and artistic visual representation of those 70 years. It is a fitting tribute to Edinburgh’s legacy as the city that inspired cities around the world to celebrate the arts.’

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: ‘EventScotland is delighted to once again support the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Since its inception in 2015, the opening event has truly captured the imagination of festival-goers and opened it up to a whole new audience. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and we are very proud to have backed Fergus and his team’s vision to launch an event that has gone from strength to strength. In 2017, the Standard Life Opening Event:Bloom will be a wonderful visual celebration of the Festival’s 70th anniversary and Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.’
Professor Dorothy Miell, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The University’s strong links with the Edinburgh International Festival go back to its inception, and we are delighted to collaborate once again to create this spectacular opening event. Our world-class researchers in digital media, design informatics and biological sciences will assist in shaping this epic artwork, and our archives will help tell the story of how the Festival has inspired a blossoming of creativity within the city and beyond. Academics will also work closely with 59 Productions to develop ambitious new ways for people to interact with the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, creating a lasting legacy for future generations.”

The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, said: ‘In 1947, my predecessor Lord Provost Falconer championed the inception of the International Festival. Today, I am as determined as ever to see the event bring people together from all over Scotland and the world. The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom will provide a beautiful and fitting celebration of our festivals and our city, and of course, the continued flowering of the human spirit. We are delighted to have supported our city’s festivals for 70 years.’

Sponsored by Standard Life

Supported by EventScotland

Supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund

Created by 59 Productions

In association with The University of Edinburgh

Technology Partner Blue-I Theatre Technology in partnership with mclcreate


Friday 4 & Saturday 5 August, 10.00pm – 12midnight.

Entry to the event is free. To guarantee access for the 10pm start there are a limited number of tickets for both nights available on 3 July at Ticket holders will have access to the arena from 9pm. Non-ticket holders will be admitted from 10.30pm on a first come basis.

Tickets are available at