London Theatre Runway – New Training Programme




London Theatre Runway is a bespoke training and connectivity programme for performing arts graduates which will be based at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.  The first term is due to begin in September and the application process opens today. Full details can be found at

This brand new training programme is specifically aimed at driven and aspirational professional performers who have recently graduated or those already working in the industry who feel they would benefit from time with leading industry directors, choreographers, musical and casting directors in a supportive, non-competitive environment.  It is also aimed at performers who may find themselves with a gap in a busy schedule and want to use this free time to keep ‘match fit’ and work on their performance skills. Through masterclasses and rigorous classes, London Theatre Runway offers the unique opportunity for attendees to work with a different industry leading professional every weekend and gain their guidance and expert feedback.

 London Theatre Runway consists of 3 terms per year, and each term is ten weekends long. There will be no more than 20 people per class. You can join for the first year now or join London Theatre Runway term by term. The programme is specifically tailored to working performing arts professionals and their lifestyle. If you need to leave the course to accept an offer of employment, the cost of the classes that you have missed will be rolled over into the next London Theatre Runway term, so you can participate when it suits you, giving attendees the flexibility they need.

 The Saturday sessions will be packed full of classes devoted to rigorous training aimed at keeping individual’s performance skills at the best possible level. Expert instructors will advise on technique and provide the opportunity to hone skills or work on areas of practise to perfect – focussing on dance, acting and script work, and singing and vocal techniques. Dance subjects include: ballet, technical jazz, musical theatre jazz, body conditioning and contemporary. In addition to this, each weekend a different guest choreographer will join to take classes in their unique style. Acting classes will include script and sight reading as well as improvisation. Singing classes will include vocal technique, acting through song and repertoire.

 On Sundays, leading directors, casting directors, musical directors or choreographers will host masterclasses, offering valuable advice, tailored feedback and guidance through mock auditions, Q&A’s and observation sessions. Masterclass leaders joining London Theatre Runway’s first year include: Jim Arnold CDG, Karen Bruce, Hannah Chissick, Aletta Collins,  Alistair David, Bill Deamer, Nikolai Foster, Natalie Gallacher CDG, David Grindrod CDG, Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Lucy Jenkins CDG, Ellen Kane, Rachel Kavanaugh, Nigel Lilley, Rachel O’Riordan, Adam Penford, Jessica Ronane CDG, Jeremy Sams, Sarah Travis, Gareth Valentine, Anne Vosser, Roy Alexander Weise, Tara Wilkinson, Nick Winston and Matthew Xia.

 Matt Cole, leading choreographer and Olivier award Nominee, and one of the founders of London Theatre Runway says “The Saturday sessions are all about training and keeping fit and ready for the next challenge. They are specifically geared towards strength and technique in all disciplines – singing, acting and dance.  The Sunday classes are where this programme becomes very unique as they are geared toward connecting you to the industry and putting you in front of the highest level of industry professionals. They are the best of the best in their field and will be working with you, offering guidance that can help take your skills as a performer and your career to the next level.”

 “This is a tough industry and this bespoke programme is designed to help people who want to help themselves to navigate their way through the maze with leading support and guidance, at a cost which breaks down to less than £9 per hour across the programme”

 Interested applicants should have trained at drama school or a vocational performing arts programme for a minimum of 2 years. To register for a place at London Theatre Runway visit For an application form.  Applications close on 27 July 2020.

 Please note that in uncertain times around Covid -19 regulations, London Theatre Runway will only open when it is possible to do so in a manner that is consistent with government guidance and safe for all participants and staff.  If you purchase a place on a London Theatre Runway course and it cannot go ahead for safety reasons, your position on the programme will be held until the time when it can go ahead safely and within regulations.

Hope Mill Theatre to live stream UK premiere of a new documentary celebrating the career of stage and screen icon Olympia Dukakis

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Hope Mill Theatre will live stream the UK premiere of a new documentary celebrating the career of stage and screen icon Olympia Dukakis, in collaboration with the producers of the film.

Olympia, directed by Harry Mavromichalis, will be shown on Friday 10th July at 6pm on Hope Mill Theatre’s facebook page.

The premiere of the US documentary was due to have taken place in New York but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic – so producers have decided to have a one-off online premiere of the film before its wider release. As well as the UK premiere, it is also being streamed in the USA & Europe.

Olympia  is an intimate look at the life and career of one of the greatest actresses to grace the stage and screen. A deeply personal portrait of the actress and her craft and her legacy.

The fly-on-all-wall film features stars including Whoopi Goldberg, Laura Linney and more talking about 89-year-old Dukakis, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1988 for her role in Moonstruck and appears in the much-loved film Steel Magnolias.

The documentary will be followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with the actress. 

The documentary will be free to view but Hope Mill Theatre is asking for donations from audiences. 

Joseph Houston, Artistic Director of Hope Mill Theatre, said: “We are honoured to be involved in the live stream of the Premiere of Olympia. So many generations know Olympia’s incredible work from screen, but not many may be familiar with her career on stage, which was her first love and continues to be. It will be an in-depth, personal look into her craft and career and we are thrilled to be sharing it with UK audiences. There will be no cost to view the documentary, but we will be sharing info on how to support us and make a donation to the venue.” 

Olympia is produced and directed by Harry Mavromichalis, Executive Produced by Anthoula Katsimatides and Sid Ganis.

Olympia delivers an uncommonly personal, cinema verité-style portrait of its fascinating, iconoclastic subject.” — The Hollywood Reporter

For more information on Olympia, visit

Twitter: @Hopemilltheatr1

Facebook: Hope Mill Theatre

Budding young presenter Charlie Kristensen interviews the stars of stage and screen for his YouTube chat show “Musical Chairs with #CheerUpCharlie!”

Budding young presenter Charlie Kristensen

 interviews the stars of stage and screen for his YouTube chat show

Musical Chairs with #CheerUpCharlie

Ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen, from Wokingham in Berkshire, won over the hearts of the West End theatre industry and the British public last year when he launched his #CheerUpCharlie campaign, channelling his own traumatic experiences of being bullied, and the support he received afterwards, to help others. Charlie has now taken a step towards his dream of being a television presenter by launching a series of lockdown interviews with high-profile entertainment industry guests on his YouTube channel – Musical Chairs with #CheerUpCharlie!The chat show is supported by The Theatre Café, and it is hoped that most interviews will be recorded there when it becomes possible.   

As well as chatting to his guests about their own experiences of being bullied, in Charlie’s own words he also asks a mix of “fun, interesting and serious questions” about their life and work. He has set up a steady stream of interviews with actors, musicians and visual artists from the UK and USA, and his recent chat with actress Amanda Henderson (star of Casualty) has already hit nearly 6,000 views.  Others in the Musical Chairs line-up include Iain Armitage, Luke Bayer, Daniel Boys, Kerry Ellis, Dominic Ferris, Jacqueline Hughes, Irvine Iqbal, Nathaniel Morrison, Nadim Naaman, Will Poulter, Sam Retford, Gaby Roslin, Nina West, Nathan Wyburn and Michael Xavier, with many more planned. Actor Matt Lucas not only recorded a Musical Chairs interview but also, to Charlie’s delight, invited him to duet together singing The Baked Potato Song in support of NHS workers, in a video which has also received 100k views on Twitter. 

Sam Retford, star of television show Ackley Bridge, said: “I first met Charlie last year when the campaign was just starting after his bullying came to light. It was such an honour to be Charlie’s interview guinea pig.  Not only did we laugh and get to know each other better, but I was also able to get a better perspective and see just how far this incredible young man has already gone.  His Cheer Up chats are going to be something very special and have grown with such enormity already. I truly cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for this special young man and feel truly grateful to be watching it unfold. He is one of the most intelligent, charismatic and talented people I have ever met.”

Charlie said: “I love speaking to people and I know that by sharing their experiences of bullying and how they overcome it we can start to make a change. I want everyone to associate #CheerUpCharlie with acceptance and feel confident in just being themselves. The world is full of different people, with different talents and in my eyes that is what makes the world an exciting place. If me talking to people helps just one person then we are doing the right thing. I want to talk to everybody as talking makes it all okay.”

Charlie has come a long way since this time last year. Then, having been mentally and physically bullied severely for over 18 months, in part due to his love of performing, Charlie couldn’t take any more and for a long time his parents ‘lost’ the cheerful boy they recognised. Charlie continued with his singing lessons, and when he opened up to his singing teacher West End actress Jacqueline Hughes and broke down, she comforted him but also rallied support from performers in the theatre industry. She put out a Tweet about the heart-breaking situation and straight away West End performers inundated Charlie with video messages of support, love and solidarity including exciting backstage invitations. This led to national media interviews including live chats on the BBC Breakfast sofa and Michael Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show. It took months for the smile to return to Charlie’s eyes but he is now fighting for others, and keen to see where his presenting talents might lead along the way. 

Charlie’s mother, Kat Kristensen, said: “Charlie is the most selfless, kind, caring and funny boy you will ever meet, and this kid can certainly talk! When The Diana Award invited him to write and deliver a five-minute speech for Anti-Bullying Week last November, he reduced a room of 5,000 to absolute silence and tears. It is something we did not know Charlie could do and he continues to amaze us daily, including now with his chat shows! We have been blown away by the entertainment industry and public support, and would like to thank them for helping him achieve his dreams.”

Future plans which are currently in the pipeline for Charlie and his #CheerUpCharlie campaign, with the support of his West End friends, include a special fundraising show and a musical theatre video – watch this space! 

West End stars direct to your cars! | Musical Theatre Drive-In, from Saturday 25 July

West End stars direct to your cars
The Drive In, Troubadour Meridian Water, Harbet Road, London, N18 3QQ
From Saturday 25th July – late August

West End Musical Brunch, the UK’s biggest musical theatre party, is going to the drive-in this summer for a socially distanced musical theatre celebration, West End Musical Drive-In, bringing West End superstars direct to your cars. Stage sensations Kerry Ellis (Wicked; We Will Rock You), Alice Fearn (Wicked; Come From Away) and Jon Robyns (Les Miserables; Hamilton) will launch
the outdoor performance spectacular on Saturday 25th July. Further dates and artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Giving audiences a different way to enjoy the best the West End has to offer at a safe distance, West End Musical Drive-In is an exciting opportunity for musical theatre fans to park up and celebrate with their favourite performers.

Each event will feature live performances from multiple West End stars, showcasing songs from a wide range of musicals. The performers will be live on stage, whilst also being projected onto three huge screens, with sound provided via a bespoke FM radio frequency. Audiences can enjoy the performances from the comfort of their cars or can party with the stars outside in their own designated space, right next to their vehicle.

Advanced measures have been implemented to ensure attendees have a safe and enjoyable experience. Tickets will be scanned through windows, all purchases of food and drink will be contactless and delivered directly to cars, and there’s double the amount of on-site facilities, with on-going sanitisation throughout. It’s like going out to the theatre whilst staying in.

Continuing to find new and innovative ways to keep performance alive mid-pandemic, the West End Musical Brunch team have also been brunching non-stop, providing audiences with entertaining weekly Lockdown Live streamed performances, featuring the West End’s biggest stars.

Hairspray confirms rescheduled 2021 season dates at the London Coliseum



Performances to begin on Thursday 22 April 2021

Production stars Olivier Award winning MICHAEL BALL

returning to his legendary role of Edna Turnblad,

alongside PAUL MERTON, who makes his West End debut

19-week season to run until 29 August | London Coliseum

The producers of Hairspray the Musical have announced today rescheduled performance dates for the multi award-winning smash hit musical at the London Coliseum.

The production will now begin performances on Thursday 22 April 2021 and play a strictly limited 19-week season to Sunday 29 August.

Until 26July 2020, all existing ticket holders have priority to move their tickets to a new date. All new ticket purchases can be made from 10am on 27 July. See for all ticket information.

The production will star Michael Ball, who returns to his legendary, Olivier Award winning role of Edna Turnblad, alongside one of the UK’s greatest comedians, Paul Merton, who will be making his West End musical debut as Edna’s husband, Wilbur.

Michael Ball said:

“Just like Edna’s famous roll-on foundation garments, it’s been a struggle but it’s finally going on, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hairspray is the perfect show to help the West End rediscover its joy, energy, talent and relevance. Nothing says “we made it through” better than sitting in a theatre, watching a community facing the huge social issues of their day and conquer them with the help of family, friends, commitment and love….oh and some brilliant songs, spectacular dance routines and huge belly laughs. It’s just the antidote we need. See you there.”

Acclaimed West End star Marisha Wallace will take the role of Motormouth. Marisha won rave reviews when she took over from Amber Riley in the smash hit Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre), and also starred in the original West End cast of Waitress (Adelphi Theatre).

Lizzie Bea will make her West End debut in the role of Tracy Turnblad and Rita Simons (Eastenders’ Roxy Mitchell) and Jonny Amies (Granchester on ITV; Sex Education on Netflix/Eleven Film) will also star as Velma Von Tussle and Link Larkin respectively.

Paul Merton is a founder member of The Comedy Store Players, and still appears at the Comedy Store in London most Sundays. He is a resident guest on BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute and is an established face on TV shows such as the hugely popular Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Paul Merton Looks at Alfred Hitchcock (BBC4/2), Paul Merton’s Birth of Hollywood (BBC 2) and his travel series for Channel Five, Paul Merton’s Adventures which covered his travels in India, China and Europe. His Autobiography, Only When I Laugh reached the Sunday Times bestseller Top 10.  Paul’s Anthology of funny stories, Funny Ha Ha was named Sunday Times Humour Book of the year in 2019. His first Channel 4 series, Paul Merton The Series, is due to be released on DVD this Spring.

Baltimore, 1962. Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and big dreams. Can she make it on the local TV dance show, win the heart of teen heartthrob Link Larkin and bring everyone together – whatever their colour, size or hairdo? Well if you want a change, you’ve really got to shake things up!

With the original award-winning creative team of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, and featuring the infectiously feel-good songs “Good Morning, Baltimore”, “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, this inspirational, fun-loving and fabulously uplifting musical sensation is back and bigger than ever.

The original New York production of Hairspray won three Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, whilst the original West End production won four Olivier Awards, also including Best New Musical, as well as giving Michael Ball one of his two Olivier Awards for Best Actor in a Musical.

Hairspray is produced by Adam Spiegel Productions & Fiery Angel.

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel – is to make World Premiere on stage in 2021




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Dan Brown’s international best seller to be adapted for the stage

Directed by Luke Sheppard (acclaimed West End musical, & Juliet)

UK Tour begins in Bromley, Saturday 3 April 2021

The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel that captivated the world, is to become an epic stage thriller. It will make its World Premiere on a UK Tour in 2021, opening at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley on Saturday 3 April 2021, and touring throughout the year.

The curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered, and alongside his body are a series of baffling codes. Follow the pulse-racing journey as Professor Robert Langdon and fellow cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to solve the riddles, leading to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and beyond, deep into the vault of history. In a breathless race through the streets of Europe, Langdon and Neveu must decipher the labyrinthine code before a shocking historical secret is lost forever.

Based on the best-selling novel of this century, with over 100 million copies sold, unlock the secrets of The Da Vinci Code in the world premiere stage adaptation of the international phenomenon and uncover the truth in the greatest thriller of the past 2,000 years.

Dan Brown said: “I am thrilled that The Da Vinci Code is being adapted for the stage, and excited to see the unique potential of live theatre enhance this story. The team making the production has been faithful to the book, but will also bring something new for the audience, in what is certain to be a gripping, fast-paced stage thriller and a thoroughly entertaining show.”

The Da Vinci Code is adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff (Flowers For Mrs HarrisBirdsong) and Duncan Abel (The Girl on the Train), and will be directed by Luke Sheppard, who most recently directed the acclaimed new West End musical, & Juliet.

Luke Sheppard said: “Cracking The Da Vinci Code open for the stage reveals an epic thriller steeped in theatrical potential, rich in suspense and surprising at every turn. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s brilliant adaptation leaps off the page and demands us to push the limits of our imagination, creating a production that champions dynamic theatrical storytelling and places the audience up close in the heat of this gripping mystery.”

The Da Vinci Code is produced by Simon Friend (The Girl On The TrainLife Of Pi).

‘An exhilarating, breathless thriller-chase. Blockbuster perfection’

The New York Time

For further information, see


Theatres Trust responds to government’s roadmap for England theatres

After Oliver Dowden’s roadmap for England’s theatres was published last night, I want to share a statement in response from Jon Morgan, director of The Theatres Trust, a national advisory public body for theatres.

Jon comments:

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s announcement of a five-step roadmap for reopening of theatres is a move in the right direction, but critically it does not offer any timescales for stages 3 to 5, the stages when audiences will be admitted to performances. Without this detail, theatres will still be unable to plan effectively for their reopening. The impact of this uncertainty is devastating for the theatre industry. Each day there is news of another theatre making large-scale redundancies and, for every day of delay, there is the grave danger of more theatres closing permanently. The government must urgently confirm ‘no earlier than’ dates for stages 3 to 5 and respond to the sector’s calls for a financial rescue package to protect our world class theatre. Without this critical support, we face a cultural catastrophe.

SLEEPLESS, A MUSICAL ROMANCE to open with social distancing this summer









SLEEPLESS, A Musical Romance, based on the original screenplay Sleepless in Seattle, will premiere at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London on Tuesday 1 September 2020, with previews from 25 August. The limited season will run until Sunday 27 September 2020.  Performances will begin pending Government guidance.  Audiences will be socially distanced and the producers and venue will follow COVID-secure guidelines for cast, crew and audiences.

The producers are also going to hold a special NHS Gala, A Night for Sleepless Heroes, for NHS and Care workers on Thursday 27 August. They will be allowed up to four free tickets per application with scanned NHS badge/pass on a first come, first served basis. For more details, see below in Listings.

SLEEPLESS is a new musical with a book by Michael Burdette and music and lyrics by new British writers Robert Scott and Brendan Cull and will feature a 12-piece jazz orchestra.  It was originally due to begin performances on 24 March 2020, prior to the UK Government shutdown of theatres.

SLEEPLESS will star Jay McGuiness as Sam and Kimberley Walsh as Annie.

Michael Rose, producer of SLEEPLESS, on behalf of Encore Theatre Productions, said, “Lockdown has effected and frightened a huge number of people in this country – particularly in our industry. Our story in Sleepless deals with mending something that is broken – it’s about putting a family back together after a loss – and we feel it’s time to do exactly that – it’s time to start the healing process – that’s part of what we do in Theatre.”

SLEEPLESS is the enchanting new romantic musical comedy based on the original story and screenplay of the romcom classic Sleepless In Seattle. SLEEPLESS tells the heart-warming tale of Sam, who moves to Seattle with his ten year-old son, Jonah, following the tragic death of his wife.  When Jonah phones a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he suddenly finds himself one of the most sought after single men in America and a great news story for feisty journalist Annie on the opposite side of the country. Can Jonah bring the two together on the top deck of the Empire State Building?  A fresh and lively book alongside a brand-new musical score bring this most timeless of romantic comedies to life on stage.

Together with Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, the producers of SLEEPLESS will continue to follow the official advice and guidelines given by both the World Health Organisation and from Public Health England.  

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre said, “Our first priority is and always has been the safety and comfort of our audiences, staff and visiting companies. We are working closely with health and safety experts and strictly following all government guidelines and we look forward to welcoming audiences to the world premiere of Sleepless whenever this is allowed.”

The spacious venue means that there will be no physical contact between the staff and audience at any time and that social distance measures can be strictly obeyed.  Audiences will be temperature checked on entering the building and will be required to wear face masks. All food and beverage orders will be contactless to minimise exposure, hand sanitiser will be available at multiple locations, and all areas of the venue will be thoroughly deep cleaned after each performance.

All cast, crew and audience will be sent the most up-to-date safety measures and instructions 48 hours prior to arrival and the venue will be set-up accordingly to accommodate these measures.

As well as Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre being a new and spacious theatre, there is ample parking available at Wembley Stadium, which costs only £1 if you are a theatre ticket holder. 

SLEEPLESS will be directed by Morgan Young (White ChristmasElfBig), with set design by Morgan Large, costume design by Sue Simmerling, lighting by Ken Billington, video design by Ian William Galloway, sound design by Simon Biddulph, orchestrations and arrangements by Larry Blank, musical supervision by Stuart Morley, musical direction by Chris Walker, orchestra management by Sylvia Addison for Music Solutions, wig and hair design by Richard Mawbey and casting by Sarah Bird CDG and Michael Donovan CSA.

The world premiere of SLEEPLESS will be presented by Michael Rose, Encore Theatre Productions Ltd, David Shor and Marc Toberoff.  General Manager will be David Pearson.

For further details, please visit

Facebook: @SleeplessLDN

Instagram: @SleeplessLDN

Twitter: @SleeplessLDN


SLEEPLESS, A Musical Romance

25 August – 27 September 2020*

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

3 Fulton Rd

Wembley Park

London HA9 0SP

Booking until 27 September 2020*

*While live performances are not currently permitted inside theatres, it is hoped SLEEPLESS will be able to open on 25 August with Government permission

Box Office: [email protected]


Tuesday – Saturday at 7.45pm**

Saturday and Sunday at 3pm

**The performances on 1 September will begin at 7.00pm

Tickets: from £15

Running Time:  2 hours including interval

Age guidance: Recommended for ages 5+

People within the same household and/or social bubble may buy up to four tickets together.  All tickets will be allocated by the box office.  Please note that, up to two hours before the performance, people may exchange their tickets, should a member of their party fall ill.

For the NHS Gala, NHS and Care workers can apply for up to four free tickets via [email protected]. Applicants will be required to scan in a photo of their NHS badge/pass with the application email. Tickets allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Parking at Wembley Stadium will cost only £1 per car when the ticket is validated through the box office on the day of the performance.








Start your engines as TuckShop brings you a fierce, funny, fabulous Drag Drive-In spectacular featuring the hits of Girls Aloud.

TuckShop – the UK’s only specialist production company devoted to all things drag, and the team behind sell-out hit Cinderella, the UK’s first ever all drag pantomime in the West End – will present a historic first: GALS ALOUD – LIVE AT THE DRIVE IN  SATURDAY 8 AUGUST: the first ever UK Drive in Drag show, live at The Drive In at Troubadour Meridian Water in North London. This is a full-length show, live on stage alongside a giant screen, with sound transmitted directly into audience members’ car radios.

Starring CHERYL HOLE from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and direct from smash hit sold out seasons across the country, GALS ALOUD – LIVE AT THE DRIVE IN will see a cast of incredible drag performers, with Nadine, Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicola and Sarah reunited as you’ve never seen them before, in a show packed full of the biggest hits from their classic solo singles, hilarious TV appearances, plus the return of the one and only Javine!

GALS ALOUD are Cheryl Hole as ‘Cheryl’, HERR The Queen as ‘Nadine’, Kitty Scott Claus as ‘Kimberley’, Ophelia Love as ‘Nicola’, Lydia L’Scabies as ‘Sarah’ and Tayce as ‘Javine’.

With Nadine Coyle herself giving her support to the band, and Cheryl Hole’s recent appearance alongside Cheryl Cole on Drag Race UK, Gals Aloud are certified fierce by the Girls themselves.

Christopher Clegg said, “We have been itching to get the incredible GALS ALOUD back to the stage, after selling out venues across 2019 we were ramping up for our tour this year when everything was shut down. It’s been tough for everyone, but to be able to bring drag back in such an epic way, live in front of an audience at The Drive In London, is just so exciting. Expect a camp night of nonsense packed with the hits of one of the most iconic girl bands ever

With the huge rise in drag popularity over the last ten years, TuckShop is at the forefront of UK Drag culture, coming hot off the heels of Chris’s fifteen years’ experience in the West End as a producer, theatre manager, and marketing expert. As well as creating bespoke productions and producing nationwide tours, TuckShop also represent some of the UK’s best Drag talent, raising their profile through branding, promotion and regular bookings. With new productions in development, an ever-expanding roster of headline performers and new online store, TuckShop works tirelessly to give Drag the leg-up it deserves.

GALS ALOUD – LIVE AT THE DRIVE IN is directed and produced by Christopher D. Clegg for TuckShop

The Show Must Go on; first major post-COVID theatre production begins rehearsals, with Sir Ian McKellen playing Hamlet



·        First major new UK live theatre production to start rehearsals following COVID-19 lockdown

·        Cast includes: Ben Allen, Emmanuella Cole, Alis Wyn Davies, Oli Higginson, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Missy Malek, Ian McKellen, Jenny Seagrove

·        Directed by Sean Mathias

A new production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Sean Mathias with Ian McKellen in an age-blind interpretation of the young Prince, will go into rehearsals on Monday 29 June.

Produced by Bill Kenwright, Hamlet will herald Sean Mathias’ inaugural season at Theatre Royal Windsor and will be followed by Martin Sherman’s adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, with McKellen as Firs the elderly manservant.

This is the first major UK production to begin rehearsals since theatres went dark in March in accordance with government guidelines to stem the spread of COVID-19.

However, rehearsals are now able to start with strict measures in place to ensure the safety of the company. The schedule, from 29 June, will be carefully choreographed around social distancing, screening, hygiene, and PPE, with close adherence to the latest government guidelines. There will be a daily review of the protection protocol based on practical considerations learnt in the rehearsal room. If the show can’t yet go on, rehearsals at least will.

Sean Mathias said: “I have always been a fan of ensemble work so when Bill Kenwright asked me to be his Artistic Director at Windsor I saw a perfect opportunity to create a company and direct two of the greatest plays ever written. The disappointment at being halted by COVID 19 has now been replaced with encouraging signs that we can at least start to work on these beautiful plays with an exceptional company. We walk a tight rope through the forest whilst we await news of when we may actually perform in front of a live audience, but it will be invigorating to leave the house and get into a rehearsal room and be a part of British Theatre returning to the boards.”

Ian McKellen said: “I feel lucky to be working again, thanks to Bill Kenwright’s inspiring optimism and Sean Mathias’s invitation to re-examine Hamlet, 50 years on from my first go. So now we will meet again. Don’t know when but do know where – Theatre Royal Windsor!”

Bill Kenwright said: “Sean, Ian and myself have been planning this season for some time now, and the truth is I couldn’t bear to see it slip away. So a lot of more planning, a great deal of determination (and I must admit some of the things I learned prior to the return of football) has got us to the place where all things theatrical start. Nothing is more important than this country’s (and indeed the world’s) health and safety, so we are not ready to announce an opening night yet – but I’m a great believer in making a start if a start is possible, and in this instance it is. I’m hopeful we will be enjoying a Windsor season in the forthcoming months.”

Sean Mathias is a leading British theatre and film director and writer with numerous awards to his name including the Evening Standard Theatre Award, WhatsOnStage Award, the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award, a Fringe First at Edinburgh and the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes. In 2009/10 Sean was the Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Haymarket where his legendary production of Waiting for Godot starring Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow, played two seasons, as well as touring the UK and internationally. In 2013 Sean directed and co-produced Beckett’s Godot and Pinter’s No Man’s Land in rep on Broadway. His production of No Man’s Land, starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, was the highest grossing play in the history of Wyndham’s Theatre. His association with Bill Kenwright started with his revolutionary production of Design For Living starring Rachel Weisz.

Ian McKellen made his long overdue debut at Theatre Royal Windsor last year in his acclaimed solo show. He was heralded that year as the most important actor in British theatre. Over the years he has worked with Sean Mathias consistently, most recently in WAITING AND GODOT and NO MAN’S LAND with another friend, Patrick Stewart.  Mathias directed him as Uncle Vanya at the National Theatre and is looking forward to a further Chekhov journey. McKellen’s performances in Shakespeare are legendary, from Macbeth with Judi Dench to his film of RICHARD III with Maggie Smith. He played Hamlet on tour and in the West End nearly fifty years ago and is looking forward to the challenge of a return visit.

Bill Kenwright’s estimated 500 productions include West End successes Jessica Lange in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie and Long Day’s Journey Into Night; Judi Dench in Filumena, Hay Fever and The Gift of the Gorgon (all directed by Sir Peter Hall); Rufus Norris’ Festen and Cabaret; The Wizard of Oz (Palladium); Joseph (Adelphi and New London); Evita (Dominion); and the Windrush musical The Big Life (Lyric Theatre). Broadway highlights include: Dancing At Lughnasa, Medea, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Théâtre de Complicite’s The Chairs (multiple Tony Awards). Blood Brothers, which he also directed, ran for three years on Broadway (Music Box) and 24 years in the West End (Phoenix).


Director: Sean Mathias; Set Designer: Lee Newby; Costume Designer: Loren Elstein; Lighting Designer: Jamie Platt; Composer and Sound Designer: Adam Cork.