Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival smash-hit musical comes

Birmingham for a limited season

Laura Elmes Productions and Theatre Deli present
a Fat Rascal Theatre production


Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch
A Musical Parody    

Disney villain. Octo-woman. Plus-size icon. But who is the woman behind the tentacles? Following a complete sell-out run at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and from the multi-award winning Fat Rascal Theatre, Unfortunate: the untold story of Ursula the Sea Witch will come to Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio from Monday 16 – Sunday 22 December 2019.

Tickets are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patron scheme members with tickets on general sale from 1pm, Wednesday 4 September.

It’s time to take the plunge as Fat Rascal Theatre reveal what really happened under the sea, in a tell-all tale of sex, sorcery and suckers. When Disney released ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 1989, they had no idea they were also giving birth to an icon. Despite having just one song and only a handful of scenes, Ursula the Sea Witch quickly took her place as the queen of Disney villains: a bad bitch, a pop culture legend, and an endless source of quotes, memes, and merchandise. She’s the toast of the film, and yet she’s woefully underused.

So who better to take us on a scorching trip through the problematic minefield that is Disney? Much of what makes Ursula a ‘villain’ is also what makes her a feminist badass. She’s loud. She’s clever. She’s a ruthless businesswoman, and oh boy is she sexy. Sexy, and unapologetically fat. Even now, in 2019, where posters still demand that we are ‘beach body ready’ and plus-size models remain a controversial topic; where young women are raised on a diet of lithe and limby princesses, fairies and (yes) mermaids; where disproportionately sized heads and miniature waists are the animated norm… a woman like Ursula is needed more than ever. She’s not defined by slipper-sized feet, or enchanted blonde hair, or snow white skin. Ursula is plump, purple and proud.

With her character design based on the outlandish drag queen Divine, and brought to life by gay lyricist Howard Ashman, Ursula has become a major icon for the LGBTQ+ community, too. A community still woefully underrepresented by Disney, thrown only the occasional veiled hint or (most recently, in Beauty and the Beast) a two second scrap of dancing. But, once again, there stands Ursula, defiant against her creator and with a message for all us ‘poor unfortunate souls’: love the skin you’re in, value your voice over your body, and don’t be afraid to be a little bit nasty.

Fat Rascal Theatre are a creative team packed to the brim with the plus size, the gay and the fabulous: and they’re ready to give Ursula the story she deserves. In this parody remix of the classic tale, Ursula spills the ink and tells audiences what really happened beneath the waves. We’ll see how she dealt with the embodiment of toxic masculinity that is King Triton, and tried to teach his airhead daughter, Ariel, to treasure her voice. Our hero is rude, she’s opinionated, and she’s got no time for faint-hearted Disney darlings. Think Wicked, but wider and wetter. And definitely not for kids.

Chris Sudworth, Director of Artistic Programme at Birmingham Hippodrome said; “The moment I saw Fat Rascal’s hilarious production at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe I knew that we had to bring the show to Birmingham.

“The ideal adults-only outing for Christmas, this inventive and one-of-a-kind show is sure to be the must-see of the festive season and continues Birmingham Hippodrome’s commitment to showcasing fresh, new musicals.”

Unfortunate: the untold story of Ursula the Sea Witch plays at The Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome from Monday 16 – Sunday 22 December 2019.

Tickets are now on sale to Birmingham Hippodrome Friends and Patron scheme members, with tickets on general sale from 1pm, Wednesday 4 September. To book visit birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000 (4.5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge). 

Kenneth Branagh’s award-winning sister Joyce Branagh to direct world premiere of The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake | The Lowry | 24 – 28 September










Melanie Blake’s best-selling debut novel The Thunder Girls has been adapted for the stage by the author and will receive its world premiere at The Lowry this September. Having already broken the venue’s box-office records for a new play, this new ‘playsical’ features a stellar cast including Coleen NolanCoronation Street’s Beverley Callard, Carol Harrison (EastEnders; Death of a Salesman, National Theatre; Ripen Out Darkness,Royal Court) and West End musical star Sandra Marvin (Hairspray, Chicago, Stepping Out) who quit Emmerdale to join The Thunder Girls.

The Thunder Girls is a true celebration of women with a powerhouse of female creatives: Melanie Blake playwright and bestselling novelist is joined by producer Angela Squire and acclaimed director Joyce Branagh (sister of Kenneth Branagh)to bring to life this theatrical sensation.

With all four of The Thunder Girls actresses in their 40s, 50s and 60s, one of the most under-represented demographics in the UK entertainment industry, this production also shines a light on the creative team’s working class roots – another area which is under-represented in the entertainment industry. Tracy Brabin MPwill host a pre-show Q&A on the press night and will be joined on stage by the show’s empowering creative team to discuss these pertinent issues further.

The Thunder Girls are Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita the eighties pop sensation who dominated the airwaves, their faces on every magazine cover, millions of fans worldwide, constantly at the top of the charts until it all fell apart. 30 years later the play takes us to the reunion dinner from hell when lead singer Chrissie tries to reunite the band she dumped. Chrissie is desperate to salvage herself from bankruptcy after being conned out of her fortune by her toy boy husband.  But is there a price which can heal the wounds?  Or maybe some friendships never die, even if you want them to? Each character will sing one original song as we followan ‘80s girl group who reunite 30 years after greed, envy and ego tore the band and their friendship apart.

With performing arts running in the Branagh blood, Joyce Branagh (Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York; Aladdin, Lawrence Batley Theatre; Two, Oldham Coliseum; Measure for Measure, Lancaster Castle) has a flair for Shakespeare, new writing and comedy and has worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious touring venues for almost 25 years. She’s no stranger to the North West and recently received two nominations at the Manchester Theatre Awards where she won ‘Best Fringe Performance’for Boomtown Gals and is the perfect fit for The Thunder Girls.

Carol Harrison takes on the role of Chrissie, former lead singer of The Thunder Girls, who at the height of the band’s success, ditched the others to pursue a solo career, taking their manager, Rick, her bandmate’s boyfriend with her.  Chrissie trampled on anyone and everyone to get to the top and stay there. For decades Chrissie maintained her stardom whilst the other girls’ lives and careers fell apart. Now Chrissie must face the former friends and bandmates. But can a price be put on pain, anger, heartache and betrayal?

Coleen Nolan takes on the role of Anita. The former pop has been in hiding for over thirty years since an international tabloid scandal left her humiliated and tired of the fame game.  Anita’s grudges over the injustice of her downfall have been left to fester for decades and she has a major axe to grind.  Now a very different woman from the girl they knew 30 years ago – if Anita finds out anyone is trying to rip her off or mislead her again, there will be hell to pay.

Beverley Callard takes on the role of Roxanne, the former band member who holds the balance of power at the reunion dinner. Roxanne’s wounds are the deepest as Chrissie didn’t just steal her career when she broke up the band, she stole her man.   Roxanne has nothing left to lose. For her revenge might be sweeter than reconciliation and it has been a long time coming.

Sandra Marvin takes on the role of Carly, the youngest member of The Thunder Girls and the peace maker of the group. Fiercely loyal and level headed, Carly has always been the beating heart of The Thunder Girls. Now on the brink of 50, Carly has finally found her voice – but at the band reunion from hell, will Carly be the one to bring the group together? Or will the bitter betrayal she faced at the hands of corrupt music industry, force her hand? Carly has always played it nice and paid the price, but now that a second chance is on the table, justice could be sweet.

They say write about what you know and having lived through many band reunions as one of the UK’s most powerful music managers, Melanie Blake has lived and breathed The Thunder Girls. Melanie came from nothing but was inspired by ‘80s television to believe that she could become whoever she wanted to be.  She started her career at Top of the Pops working with the biggest names in showbiz from Destiny’s Child to The Spice Girls and went on to become a music manager to some of the biggest names in pop.

Steve Cowton, head of theatre operations at The Lowry, said: “We love being able to host exciting new work. We’re particularly looking forward to welcoming The Thunder Girls premiere as it’s a story that is rooted in the North West and we’re sure our audiences are going to love the show.”

Joyce Branagh saidI’m very excited to be working on The Thunder Girls – especially as it’s a story driven by women over 50 (pretty unusual in drama unfortunately) who show us throughout the play how vibrant, complex, vulnerable and strong they are.  Working-class lasses who had a short burst of fame and glamour – but they haven’t forgotten their roots.  The mix of down-to-earth straight-talking and glitzy pop-star glamour is going to be great fun to create. And at its heart is the huge power of female friendships and how important that is when all the cash, glitter and fame has gone…”

Waitress – September Cast Album Karaoke



Waitress has announced its next Cast Album Karaoke Night will take place on 25 Septemberoffering audience members the chance to sing songs from the smash hit comedy musical, by 7-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles, live on the West End stage. The event will be hosted by Joe Sugg who takes over the role of Ogie from 9 September and Marisha Wallace who plays waitress Becky, in the production. Audience members who want to take part in the Cast Album Karaoke Night just need to sign up before that evening’s show for the chance to sing one minute of any song fromWaitress at the Adelphi and accompanied by the show’s musical director Katharine Woolley.

Waitress celebrated its official opening night at the Adelphi Theatre on 7 March and the Tony-nominated musical has recently announced it is extending by popular demand and is now booking through Christmas and New Year to 4 January 2020.

In Waitress the Musical the ingredients of life don’t taste too good for our heroine Jenna, but a blend of true friendship, rare talent and sweet, sweet music combine to deliver a story of hope, love and a delicious future. You will leave with a spring in your step and tears of joy in your eyes.

Brought to life by a ground breaking, female-led creative team, Waitress features an original score by 7-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (Love Song, Brave), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland) and choreography by Lorin Latarro. The production is also currently touring the US and Canada and has announced an Australian premiere in 2020 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre with further productions to open in Holland next year and Japan in 2021.







Stage Traffic Productions and Eilene Davidson present the world premiere of The Girl Who Fell, a powerful new play by Sarah Rutherford,former Writer in Residence at Park Theatre and writer of sell-out hit Adult Supervision.

“It seems wrong that she experienced something so huge without me.

Like if your kids had sex before you did.”

Teenager Sam’s dead.

After some social media foolishness.

And everyone says it’s her mum’s fault.

When bereaved mother Thea sets off on a mission to find out why her daughter Sam is dead, she is joined in her journey by bickering teen twins Lenny and Billie, plus Gil — a lost-soul whose life collides with theirs in a way that can only ever get messy.

This poignant and darkly funny play about loss, guilt and snapchat, stars Navin Chowdhry (Gil), Rosie Day (Billie), Will Fletcher (Lenny)and Claire Goose (Thea), and runs for a strictly limited season atTrafalgar Studios from 15 October – 23 November, with press night on Thursday 17 October.

The Girl Who Fell is directed by Hannah Price, with designs by Georgia de Grey, lighting by Robbie Butler and sound by Adrienne Quartly.

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap Review

New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 7 September 2019

Reviewed by Becky Doyle


What an absolutely brilliant adaptation of the much loved story The Mousetrap. From the very beginning they had us guessing and wondering who on earth could be behind the London murder? Well it had to be the person wearing the black hat, light scarf and the dark overcoat of course?! But which one?!

The story was engaging and direct throughout with laughter through the mystery. My opinions on the culprit changed a number of times due to the sheer talent on stage and manner in which each character was portrayed. Each member of the cast played their character to their upmost and I cannot single out an individual as they all excelled and brought to life their act.

The props and the stage were laid out well and you could see all that was needed and intended from all areas of the audience. There were doors and crannys that led to various different hide always always where the murderer could be hiding. There was no music involved only that of a children’s nursery rhyme, which added suspense and an edge to each break away from screen or focus.

Before the show I had been told to expect suspense and ‘at the edge of your seat’ enjoyment, though I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting half of what I got. During the interval you could hear others deliberating over who it could be, yet when the show came to a conclusion there were gasps and shocked faces. Up until the very end it could have gone a multiple of ways.

Overall, I would highly recommend this show to anyone who is looking for a thriller, with a little comedy and a lot of detective work with the challenge of whether they can work out who did it…?!

Julia Donaldson’s STICK MAN returns for 10th Anniversary UK Tour this week

Freckle Productions present


From the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler

Returning for a 10th Anniversary UK Tour this week

Stick Man is leaving his family tree and heading back out on tour this week! Based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel SchefflerStick Man returns for an Autumn tour, opening at Edinburgh King’s Theatre this Friday 6 September, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the production. Full tour schedule attached.

‘Stick Man lives in the family tree
With his Stick Lady Love
and their stick children three…’

But what starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree? Packed full of puppetry, live music and funky moves, Stick Man is a touching, funny and utterly original adaptation that will delight all ages.

Stick Man is adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson, the multi award-winning author of some of the world’s best loved children’s books, most notably the modern classic The Gruffalo which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Julia is best known for her popular rhyming stories for children, especially those illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which have sold millions of copies and have been translated into over 40 languages.

Stick Man is a perennial bestseller and has been translated into 23 languages. In 2015, Magic Light Pictures premiered the animated film of Stick Man with an all-star cast including Martin Freeman, Jennifer Saunders and Hugh Bonneville. The film was the 4th most-viewed 2015 Christmas Day TV programme in the UK, and the book went to number one in the children’s chart. In 2018 the book celebrated its 10th anniversary, and this year the stage production also turns ten.

Stick Man is produced by Freckle Productions, who have brought many of Julia Donaldson’s books to the stage including ZogTiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Tabby McTat. It has original direction by Sally Cookson (A Monster Calls, Old Vic Theatre) with design by Katie Sykes (Jane Eyre, National Theatre), lighting by Elanor Higgins (Private Peaceful, UK Tours) and music by Benji Bower (A Monster Calls, Old Vic Theatre).  It is directed by Elin Schofield with musical direction by Alex Tosh. The cast features Jamie Coles as Stick Man, Georgina Duncan as Stick Lady Love and Paddy Duff as Actor Musician.


Friday 6 – Sunday 8 September 2019

Edinburgh King’s Theatre

Box Office: www.capitaltheatres.com

Tuesday 10 – Thursday 12 September 2019

Exeter Northcott Theatre

Box Office: www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

Saturday 14 – Sunday 15 September 2019

Octagon Theatre, Yeovil

Box Office: www.octagon-theatre.co.uk

Friday 20 – Sunday 22 September 2019

Gala Theatre, Durham

Box Office: www.galadurham.co.uk

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Playhouse, Weston Super-Mare

Box Office: www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/Playhouse-Theatre

Saturday 28 – Sunday 29 September 2019

The Place, Telford

Box Office: www.theplacetelford.com

Tuesday 1 – Wednesday 2 October 2019

The Swan Theatre, Worcester

Box Office: www.worcesterlive.co.uk

Friday 4 – Saturday 5 October 2019

King George’s Hall, Blackburn

Box Office: www.kinggeorgeshall.com

Sunday 6 – Monday 7 October 2019

New Theatre Royal, Lincoln

Box Office: www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk

Tuesday 8 – Wednesday 9 October 2019

The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough

Box Office: www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre

Friday 11 – Sunday 13 October 2019

Palace Theatre, Southend

Box Office: www.southendtheatres.org.uk

Tuesday 15 – Wednesday 16 October 2019

Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone

Box Office: www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/Hazlitt-Theatre

Friday 18 October 2019

Scunthorpe Plowright Theatre

Box Office: www.scunthorpetheatres.co.uk

Saturday 19 October 2019

The Atkinson, Southport

Box Office: www.theatkinson.co.uk

Sunday 20 October 2019

Middlesbrough Theatre

Box Office: www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 October 2019

St George’s Hall, Bradford

Box Office: www.bradford-theatres.co.uk

Thursday 24 – Friday 25 October 2019

Waterside, Sale

Box Office: www.watersidearts.org

Saturday 26 – Wednesday 30 October 2019

Oxford Playhouse

Box Office: www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Thursday 31 October – Saturday 2 November 2019

Derby Theatre

Box Office: www.derbytheatre.co.uk

Thursday 7 – Saturday 9 November 2019

Hull New Theatre

Box Office: www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Sunday 10 November 2019

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Box Office: www.thelbt.org

Monday 11 – Tuesday 12 November 2019

Queen’s Hall, Hexham

Box Office: www.queenshall.co.uk

Saturday 16 – Sunday 17 November 2019

Margate Theatre Royal

Box Office: www.margate-live.com

Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 December 2019

Brighton Theatre Royal

Box Office: www.atgtickets.com/theatre-royal-brighton

Thursday 12 – Tuesday 31 December 2019

Berry Theatre, Hedge End

Box Office: www.theberrytheatre.co.uk

Chichester Festival Theatre WINTER 2019-20 season announcement


Winter 2019/20 brings a sparkling selection of touring productions to Chichester Festival Theatre: fascinating dramas, captivating musicals and family shows, and a kaleidoscope of dance, music and comedy.

The musical sensation Six and the hit comedy Calendar Girls The Musical are guaranteed to lift the roof off the Festival Theatre, while star-studded drama arrives with Prism, My Cousin Rachel and The Lovely Bones. The inventive company Told by an Idiot visit Chichester for the first time with their new piece about Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, while the Olivier Award-winning production A Monster Calls launches a national tour at the Festival Theatre.

There’s a great array of comedy, dance, music and poetry nights, ranging from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue to Gandini Juggling, and The Bluejays to the BBC Concert Orchestra; while seasonal favourites, the Christmas Concerts and Moscow City Ballet, return.

There’s also plenty of entertainment for families and youngsters, including The Gruffalo and Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz for Christmas.

Drama, Dance and Music

Robert Lindsay & Tara Fitzgerald in

PRISM Festival Theatre, 5 – 9 November

Written and directed by Terry Johnson and following a sell-out run at London’s Hampstead Theatre, Prism is the astonishing true story of the man who spent his life making Hollywood’s greatest divas look beautiful.

Robert Lindsay plays the double Oscar-winning cinematic master Jack Cardiff, who has retired to a Buckinghamshire village. He is surrounded by memorabilia of his days on famous film sets – and his secret liaisons with famous women. Writing an autobiography should be an easy matter: were it not that Jack would now rather live in the past than remember it. Tara Fitzgerald also stars in this delightfully witty and poignant play.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s

CALENDAR GIRLS The Musical Festival Theatre, 13 – 23 November

Calendar Girls The Musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth (This Is My Family) is the award-winning production based on the true story of the calendar girls – a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary.

This marvellous musical comedy, which comes straight from London’s West End, comes to Chichester starring Sarah Jane Buckley (Blood Brothers, Hollyoaks), Sue Devaney (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies), Julia Hills (2point4 Children, EastEnders), Judy Holt (Coronation Street, Scott & Bailey), Ruth Madoc (Hi-de-Hi!, Little Britain), Lisa Maxwell (The Bill, Loose Women) and Rebecca Storm (Blood Brothers, Annie).

THE LOVELY BONES Festival Theatre, 26 – 30 November

Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel is a unique coming-of-age tale that captured readers throughout the world. This acclaimed stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, directed by Melly Still, is an unforgettable play about life after loss.

Susie Salmon is just like any other young girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead.

With a large cast, visually stunning staging and a spellbinding soundtrack, this wonderfully creative production is an exciting, emotional and uplifting theatrical tour-de-force.

Suitable for ages 14+; contains adult themes.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS Festival Theatre, 2 – 7 December

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and Chichester Cathedral Choir offer the best possible musical start to Christmas. Traditional carols and perennial favourites combine with enjoyable new discoveries and the inevitable Christmas cracker jokes for a night of true winter cheer. The ebullience and panache of the Band – with their stunning Corps of Drums – and the beauty and artistry of the Choir are guaranteed to get you in a festive mood.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre

THE WIZARD OF OZ Festival Theatre, 14 – 29 December

For ages 7+ Relaxed performance: 27 December at 2pm

When Dorothy runs away from her home in Kansas with her faithful dog Toto, she’s caught up in a terrifying cyclone and finds herself in the strange and magical land of Oz. There she encounters a host of curious and enchanting characters. Accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, can Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch of the West, reach the Emerald City and find the mysterious Wizard of Oz?

Don your ruby slippers and join Chichester Festival Youth Theatre as they journey along the yellow brick road in a wonderful adventure for all the family.

This faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel features all the beloved songs from the 1939 classic film, including Over the Rainbow, If I Only Had a Brain and We’re Off To See The Wizard.

Lucy Betts, who directed 2018’s Sleeping Beauty, takes the reins again for another stunning festive production from the remarkable CFYT.


Moscow City Ballet return to Chichester with their stunning production of The Sleeping Beauty: an unmissable climax to the festive season, presented in classic Russian style with full orchestra.

The enchanting and romantic story of Princess Aurora, wicked Carabosse, the Lilac Fairy and an array of fairytale characters, is set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. This truly magical production showcases the company’s dramatic and lyrical talents.

SIX Festival Theatre, 14 – 19 January

Divorced. Beheaded. Live! Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s sell-out international smash hit Six is a phenomenon.

From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of 21st century girl power. These Queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red.

For ages 10+.


Minerva Theatre, 21 – 25 January

In 1910, the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe, sharing a cabin and then spending two years touring North America together. Stan returned home to find success with Oliver Hardy; Charlie became one of the most famous figures in the world. In Chaplin’s autobiography, Stan Laurel is never mentioned. Stan talked about Charlie all his life.

Playing fast and loose with the facts and accompanied by a live piano each night, Told by an Idiot creates an hilarious and moving homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever.

Helen George in

MY COUSIN RACHEL Festival Theatre, 28 January – 1 February

Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier and adapted by Joseph O’Connor, this menacing psychological thriller has enthralled readers since it was first published in 1951.

When wealthy landowner Ambrose Ashley marries a distant relation, Rachel, and dies in Italy shortly afterwards, his young ward, Philip, is convinced Rachel is responsible for his death. But when he meets Rachel in Cornwall and falls for her charms, he is torn between believing she is a gold-digging murderess or that she is a maligned victim of rumour and suspicion.

Helen George, known for eight series of TV’s Call the Midwife, plays the enigmatic Rachel.

A MONSTER CALLS Festival Theatre, 6 – 15 February

Patrick Ness’s best-selling and critically acclaimed novel A Monster Calls (inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd) is brought vividly to life in this Olivier Award-winning production by visionary director Sally Cookson.

Thirteen-year-old Conor’s mum is sick, his grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, he is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking, to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.

A dazzling insight into love, life and healing. Suitable for ages 10+.

Music, Dance, Performance and Comedy

I, CLARA Minerva Theatre, 24 November

Narrated by acclaimed actress Juliet Stevenson, with renowned pianist Lucy Parham, I, Clara celebrates the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth in her own words.

ISSY VAN RANDWYCK: DAZZLING DIVAS Minerva Theatre, 17 December

A spellbinding musical journey through the lives of trailblazing women Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield, with triple Olivier Award nominee Issy van Randwyck.

SHACKLETON’S CARPENTER Minerva Theatre, 18 December

In a one-man tour de force, Malcolm Rennie plays the Clydeside carpenter Harry McNish, whose vital role in saving the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance when it sank in Antarctica – defying Shackleton himself in the process – was never recognised.


Joe Stilgoe adds his own original and stylish orchestrations to some of movie history’s most memorable moments, including It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Home Alone and Elf.

COWARD AT CHRISTMAS Minerva Theatre, 22 December

Simon Green and David Shrubsole present a festive cabaret evening devoted to the wit and wisdom of Noël Coward, including classics, comedy gems and lesser-known works.

I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE Festival Theatre, 8 January

BBC Radio’s multi award-winning antidote to panel games returns to Chichester with its sell-out touring show. Join Tim Brooke-Taylor, Tony Hawks, Miles Jupp, Rory Bremner and host Jack Dee for an evening of inspired nonsense, with Colin Sell on piano.

GANDINI: SPRING Festival Theatre, 10 January

Five virtuoso jugglers and four contemporary dancers push the boundaries of dance and circus in Gandini Juggling’s new work Spring: an adventurous, jubilant and kaleidoscopic exploration of colour. For ages 8+.


The Bluejays (Dreamboats & Petticoats, Million Dollar Quartet) perform 40 classic jive hits from the fabulous fifties, from Rock Around The Clock to Great Balls of Fire.


BIG BAND DIVAS Festival Theatre, 23 January

Award-winning vocalist and radio presenter Claire Martin joins the BBC Big Band and conductor Barry Forgie for a celebration of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and their contemporaries.


BROADWAY IN CONCERT Festival Theatre, 24 January

Singers Clare Teal and Tom Solomon, the 60-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Stephen Bell and host Liz Robertson with the songs and stories of Broadway’s hit musicals, including Kiss Me, Kate, Gigi, Guys and Dolls and Sweeney Todd.



Alistair McGowan is joined by soloists Rebecca Bottone, Barry Clark and Yvonne Howard, and a 26-piece orchestra conducted by Martin Handley, for a delicious G&S concert.

PUSH: AN OPERA Minerva Theatre, 27 January

Composed by Howard Moody and performed by Chichester Community Choirs, school children and University students, Push tells the true story of 11 year-old Simon Gronowski whose mother pushed him from a train to Auschwitz to save him from the gas chambers.

SWEET WILLIAM Minerva Theatre, 31 January

Leading Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington illuminates Shakespeare and his plays in a delightful journey through the life and work of our greatest playwright.

DOTDOTDOT DANCE: IN BODY Minerva Theatre, 1 February

A triple bill of strikingly dynamic flamenco dance pieces that give a fresh perspective on the art, incorporating live music, spoken word and electronic music.

LOVE IS ONLY LOVE Minerva Theatre, 5 & 6 February

In 1993 surburban Australia a young boy’s life is changed forever when he discovers the passionate romance of Hollywood musicals, beginning a decades-long quest to find his own kind of romance. Directed by Jason Morell and starring Sam Harrison (Avenue Q, Les Mis) as the boy and David Seadon-Young (An American in Paris) as all the loves of his life, this joyful and honest celebration of young love features songs from the Great American Songbook. Suitable for ages 11+.


joinedupwriting Minerva Theatre, 7 February

Roger McGough’s exuberant new collection of poems explores the human experience in all its shades of light and dark but always with wit, irrreverence and vivacity. This new show features a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems, set to music by LiTTLe MACHINe.

ANDY PARSONS: HEALING THE NATION Minerva Theatre, 8 February

As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and QI, Andy Parsons brings his brand new show to Chichester. Trust him, he’s not a politician. For ages 15+.

ANIMA Minerva Theatre, 11 February

With Joli Vyann’s unique blend of dance and acrobatics, Anima sees the performers and a live Taiko drummer using dance, circus, voice and wind instruments to explore the delicate connection between two people, as their breath becomes the soundscape for the performance. For ages 8+.

RICH HALL’S HOEDOWN Festival Theatre, 19 February

Star of Live at the Apollo, QI and his own BBC Four documentaries, Rich Hall’s new show

Hoedown begins as a withering dissection of Trump’s America but ends up being a celebration of Americana, with a hilarious, foot-stomping good time to be had by all. For ages 15+.

For Children and Families

THE GRUFFALO Minerva Theatre, 3 – 15 December

For ages 3+ see website for performance times

Inspired by the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood. Songs, laughs and monstrous fun in the much-loved show from Tall Stories.

OVATION ROCK SHOW Minerva Theatre, 9 – 11 January, 7pm

Junior show: 11 January, 2pm

Children and young people (ages 8 – 18) from local schools, Chichester College, Chichester Music Academy and Ovation Music present four concerts of live music. Ovation Music is a Chichester-based charity providing music sessions and live performance opportunities for young people.

ENSONGLOPEDIA OF ANIMALS Minerva Theatre, 18 January

For ages 5+ 11am & 2pm

Twenty-six animal songs, one for each letter of the alphabet, from amazing arachnids, batty birds and curious corals onwards. John Hinton’s new show is for ages 5 and up.

CHILDREN’S CONCERT Festival Theatre, 21 January

For ages 5 – 11 10.45am & 1.30pm

Southern Pro Musica returns with a perfect introduction to live music played by a full professional orchestra, compèred by magician Neil Henry and conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

UNITED VOICES Festival Theatre, 22 January, 7.15pm

Children from the Chichester area come together in song, as hundreds of voices unite in harmony. Conducted by Emily Barden, in partnership with West Sussex Music Hub.

MEET ME A TREE: A VERY FIRST OPERA Minerva Theatre, 28 & 29 January

For ages 0 – 2 11am, 2pm & 3.30pm

Hurly Burly return with another interactive musical adventure for babies, a multi-sensory journey through a year in the life of a tree; with gentle classical music alongside nursery rhymes and original songs.

THE BEAR Minerva Theatre, 13 & 14 February

For ages 3+ Thu 2pm, Fri 10.30am & 2pm

Adapted by Pins and Needles Productions from the book by Raymond Briggs, this is a wild and magical adventure about a little girl who befriends a mischievous polar bear.

OUT OF THE HAT Minerva Theatre, 15 February

For ages 2 – 8 11am, 2pm & 4pm

Doris and Delilah dream of creating the world’s greatest magic show. Long Nose Puppets present a story about friendship and the magic of nature, with songs by Tom Gray of Gomez.


For ages 7+ Festival Theatre, 16 February, 4pm

Help young composer Emily Presto to write a new piece of music! Meet terrifying trolls, explore space and dance with cowboys in an exciting musical adventure for all the family. Conducted by David McCallum with actor Lucy Wells as Emily.

OI FROG & FRIENDS! Minerva Theatre, 17 – 20 February

For ages 3+ Mon 2pm, Tue – Thu 11am & 2pm

Adapted from the bestselling books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, join FROG, CAT and DOG in an action-packed story with songs, puppets, laughs and rhymes.

Events for all ages

Throughout the Winter season, activities, workshops and talks are on offer, from juggling and comedy workshops, a junk orchestra and a lullaby lounge, to grief cafés. See cft.org.uk/LEAP for more details.

Pop-up Play Cafés before selected Minerva Theatre family performances will provide free crafts, colouring in and a reading zone.

FUN PALACES 6 October, 10am – 4pm, FREE

Fun Palaces is an annual event focusing on culture at the heart of community, and community at the heart of culture. Join us and other local organisations for a day of free activities and find something surprising to take part in.

FestivALL Minerva Theatre, 20 & 21 March, 7pm

Two days celebrating the creative talents of local people with additional needs. Performers will include Theatre Inc, Stopgap Troop, Chichester Down Syndrome Dance Crew and CFT’s own Friday Lates. There will also be a programme of free bookable activities open to all.


This brand new venue will feature an eclectic mix of events from cabaret, comedy and circus, to a week of half-term fun for all ages. Visit chichesterspiegeltent.com or see separate press release for full details.


Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens:

Saturday 7 September (online and by booking form only)

Tuesday 10 September (phone and in person)

Groups and schools booking opens:

Thursday 12 September

Public booking opens:

Saturday 14 September (online only)

Tuesday 17 September (phone and in person)

Box Office 01243 781312; online cft.org.uk

PROLOGUE: £5 tickets for 16 – 25s

An allocation of tickets priced at just £5 is available for 16 to 25 year olds for many productions throughout the Winter season. Sign up free at cft.org.uk/prologue.

Twitter @ChichesterFT

Facebook ChichesterFestivalTheatre

Instagram ChichesterFT

YouTube ChichesterTheatre





Papatango today announces the creative team for the world première of Samuel Bailey’s Shook – this year’s winner of the annual Papatango New Writing Prize. The company’s Artistic DirectorGeorge Turvey directs, with set and costume design by Jasmine Swan, lighting design by Johanna Town, and sound design by Richard Hammarton. The production opens on 1 November atSouthwark Playhouse, with previews from 30 October, and runs until 23 November 2019. Following the run at Southwark Playhouse, the production tours to Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool (26 November), Theatr Clwyd (27 – 28 November), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (30 November) and Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (4 – 7 December).

Shook marks the fifth year the Prize-winning play will be showcased at this venue following the world premières of the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 Papatango New Writing Prize winners: The Funeral Director by Iman Qureshi, Trestle by Stewart Pringle, Orca by Matt Grinter and Tomcat by James Rushbrooke. These productions have received 9 nominations for Off West End Awards including Best New Play and Most Promising Playwright.

Samuel Bailey was born in London and raised in the West Midlands. He began writing plays in Bristol and developed work with Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Theatre West before moving back to London. He is an alumnus of the Old Vic 12 and Orange Tree Writers’ Collective. Shook was originally supported by the MGCfutures bursary programme, and will be his debut full production.

George Turvey co-founded Papatango in 2007 and became the sole Artistic Director in January 2013. Credits as director include Hanna (Papatango, UK tour), The Annihilation of Jessie Leadbeater (Papatango at ALRA), AfterIndependence (Papatango at Arcola Theatre, 2016 Alfred Fagon Audience Award, and on BBC Radio 4),Leopoldville (Papatango at Tristan Bates Theatre), and Angel (Papatango at Pleasance London and Tristan Bates Theatre).

Turvey trained as an actor at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) and has appeared on stage and screen throughout the UK and internationally, including the lead roles in the world première of Arthur Miller’sNo Villain (Old Red Lion Theatre and Trafalgar Studios) and Batman Live World Arena Tour.  As a dramaturg, he has led the development of all of Papatango’s productions. He is the co-author of Being A Playwright: A Career Guide For Writers, published by Nick Hern Books.

Set and costume design is by Jasmine Swan (The Stage Debut Award Nominee 2018 for Best Designer for a Debut Season of work: Hyem (Theatre503), The Passing of The Third Floor Back (Finborough Theatre), Hanna (Papatango at Arcola Theatre) and The Sleeper (Brighton Railto), and Linbury Prize for Stage Design Finalist 2017, designing Windrush for Phoenix Dance Theatre), with lighting design by Johanna Town (current and recent credits include Two Ladies – Bridge Theatre, The Watsons, Butterfly Lion – Chichester Festival Theatre and Botticelli in the Fire – Hampstead Theatre), and sound design by Richard Hammarton (current and recent credits include Chiaroscuro – Bush Theatre, Red Dust Road – National Theatre of Scotland, Ghosts – Royal & Derngate).

Papatango is a charity who discover and champion new playwrights by running free open application schemes and opportunities.

The Papatango New Writing Prize is free to enter and open to any resident of the UK or Ireland. It is assessed anonymously by a reading team which identifies as at least 50% female and is at least 25% BAME. All entrants receive personal feedback on their scripts, an unmatched commitment to supporting aspiring playwrights. The 2019 Prize assessed and gave personal feedback to 1,406 plays. The winner is guaranteed a full production, publication, royalties and commission. The Prize was the first UK award to make such a commitment, changing the landscape for new writing. Writers discovered through the Prize have won BAFTAs, OffWestEnd and Royal National Theatre Foundation awards, premiered in over 20 countries, and worked with the RSC, National Theatre, BBC and HBO.

As well as the Prize, Papatango offers a yearly Resident Playwright scheme, taking an emerging playwright through commissioning, development and production of a new play. Previous Residents have won an Alfred Fagon Audience Award, adapted their play for BBC Radio Four, been commissioned by Headlong, the Tricycle Theatre, and the North Wall Arts Centre, and seen their work tour nationwide with Papatango.

Papatango also run GoWrite, an extensive programme of free playwriting workshops, performances and publication for children and adults across the country. Each year it provides free face-to-face training or productions for over 4000 budding writers at state schools, regional venues and community centres, launching plays that have gone on to be staged at Hampstead Theatre, the Vaults Festival, Old Red Lion Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Luton Hat Factory and the Quarry Theatre, Bedford. GoWrite also provides £5000 in bursaries to enable in-need writers nationwide to access opportunities.

This year Papatango launched WriteWest, a playwriting programme across south-west England which provides free training, performances and seed funding for grassroots writers and producers.

Papatango’s first book, Being A Playwright: A Career Guide for Writers, was published in autumn 2018 by Nick Hern Books. It topped Amazon’s best-seller list in the playwriting category, and has been described as a “phenomenon for playwriting good…a bible for playwrights” by Steve Waters and “enlightening…an excellent tool for playwrights” by Indhu Rubasingham.


Twitter: @PapaTangoTC

Facebook: PapaTango Theatre Company

Instagram: Papatangotc

LISTINGS:                                                                                                                                                   SHOOK

Southwark Playhouse, London

30 October – 23 November 2019


Box Office: 020 7407 0234

Hope Street Theatre, Liverpool

26 November


Box Office: 0344 561 0622

Theatr Clwyd, Mold

27 – 28 November


Box Office: 01352 701521

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

30 November


Box Office: 01723 370541

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

4 – 7 December


Box Office: 01227 787787

Joe Sugg first images released as Ogie in Waitress the Musical


  • Joe Sugg will star in the role of Ogie in Waitress the musical at the Adelphi Theatre from Monday 9 September.

Waitress has today released the first images of Joe Sugg as Ogie in London’s smash hit musical comedy where he will be making his West End debut from 9 September. The YouTube star, filmmaker, author, vlogger and 2018 Strictly Come Dancing finalist will take over the role from Blake Harrison, as previously seen as Neil from The Inbetweeners, following his final performance on 7 September.

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams her way out of a loveless marriage. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life gets complicated. With the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, Jenna overcomes the challenges she faces and finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness. 

Joe Sugg (Ogie) is a British YouTuber, filmmaker, author and vlogger. As of 2019, he has over 27 million followers across all social media channels and is an international star. His videos consist of challenges, pranks, impressions and gaming, across his three YouTube channels. Joe is the author of the tremendously successful graphic novel series ‘Username’, which was the fastest selling graphic novel of all time. He also wrote, starred and executive produced the travelogue specials ‘Joe and Caspar: Hit the Road’ and ‘Hit the Road USA’, with best friend – Caspar Lee, which set pre-order DVD sales records for Amazon, and both of which are available on Netflix. Last year, Joe launched Margravine Management with Caspar Lee. Margravine is a new talent management company that identifies, nurtures and elevates new talent in the digital sphere. Most recently, Joe was a finalist of one of the UK’s largest shows, BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Waitresscelebrated its official opening night at the Adelphi Theatre on 7 March and extended by popular demand, now booking through Christmas and New Year to 4 January 2020.

Brought to life by a ground breaking, female-led creative team, Waitress features an original score by 7-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (Love Song, Brave), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland) and choreography by Lorin Latarro. The production is currently touring the US and has also announced it will have its Australian premiere in 2020 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.

Alongside Joe Sugg as Ogie, Waitress stars Lucie Jones as Jenna, Laura Baldwin as Dawn,Marisha Wallace as Becky, Tamlyn Henderson as Earl, David Hunter as Dr. Pomatter andAndrew Boyer as Old Joe.

The full company includes Kelly Agbowu, Laura Baldwin, Piers Bate, Cindy Belliot,Andrew Boyer, Michael Hamway, Tamlyn Henderson, David Hunter, Lucie Jones,Stephen Leask, Chris McGuigan, Olivia Moore, Nathaniel Morrison, Sarah O’Connor, Leanne Pinder, Charlotte Riby, Joe Sugg, Marisha Wallace and Mark Willshire.

Waitress premiered on Broadway in March 2016 and has since become the longest running show in the history of the Brooks Atkinson Theater. The production is also currently touring the US and Canada and has announced an Australian premiere in 2020 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre with further productions to open in Holland next year and Japan in 2021.

On its Broadway opening, Waitress was nominated for four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards, including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; two Drama League Award Nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical; six Drama Desk Nominations, including Outstanding Musical; and four Tony Award Nominations, including Best Musical.

Psychological thriller comes to Tristan Bates Theatre this October!

Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, London, WC2H 9NP
Monday 7th – Saturday 26th October 2019

The world premiere of the bleakly comic, psychological thriller Mites from James Mannion (Hedgehogs & Porcupines, Old Red Lion) comes to Tristan Bates Theatre this October. This absurdist piece is a sinister exploration of the manipulation which can underpin relationships, and especially considers the impact of this upon the mentally vulnerable in society. The production will star, as Ruth, Claire Marie Hall (The Grinning Man, West End; The Colours, Soho Theatre), Richard Henderson (Cursed, Netflix; Impact, Edinburgh Fringe) as Bartholomew and George Howard as Ken (Votes for Women, New Vic; The Comedy of Errors, UK tour)

A lonely woman, abandoned by her husband, lives in an isolated house with her outspoken, anthropomorphic cat, Bartholomew. One day she is visited by Ken, a Pest Controller, who claims to be her ex-husband returned to her. Deceived by his lies and obsessed with memories of the past, the woman accepts Ken into her life, despite the sceptical protestations of Bartholomew. As her self-deception grows and Ken’s true intentions become clear, how will she survive the competitive machinations of her two male companions? And is there more to Bartholomew than meets the eye?

Director Marcus Marsh comments, I am really excited to maintain Blueleaf Theatre’s ethos of developing new writing, working with emerging playwrights and creatives. James has produced a ground-breaking script in Mites which tackles mental health head on and the absurdist style of the piece means it is something we are sure an audience will have never seen on stage before. The play’s exploration of the manipulation in relationships and the effect this has on an individual’s mental health are issues both James and I feel are very important in today’s society. We hope this production widens the conversation and provokes discussion amongst audiences

An allegorical interpretation of mental health based on personal experiences, Mites explores the emotional turmoil which accompanies descent into mental instability. It creates a web of mistrust, intrigue and control using an absurdist narrative to mirror the disorientating panic, paranoia and helplessness. It is a psychological thriller which centres on a worsening spiral of manipulation and gaslighting. Mites is an eviscerating take on the predatory and the vulnerable, autonomy and delusion which pushes boundaries and throws probing questions up in the air