Cruise Review

Apollo Theatre, London – until 4th September 2022

Reviewed by Celia Armand Smith


Pamela Raith

First staged in 2021, Cruise is a semi-autobiographical play written and performed by Jack Holden, and directed by Bronagh Logan. Holden, in a tour de force performance, starts the story in the present day at Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline, where a young man is trying to navigate taking calls while extremely hungover, when he receives a call from Michael. We are then taken on a rollercoaster ride through 1980s Soho as Michael tells the story of arriving in London, being diagnosed with HIV and being told he has four years to live, right up to what he thought would be his last day on earth.

There are dozens of characters, all masterfully played by Holden. He manages to create a world that is so rich and full of life and sensitivity and humour and sadness, each character as important as the last. One of my personal highlights was a rendition of Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is in a club. It was funny and beautiful and perfect. On the stage throughout, music producer and composer John Patrick Elliott provides the soundtrack using decks, guitar, and piano. Every element of this production from the lighting by Prema Mehta, to Nic Corralls set design, to the music creates something verging on transcendental. Sarah Goldings’s masterful movement direction utilises every corner and creates an energy that never dips. Nothing is wasted.

When Michael believes he is at the end of his time on earth, he goes dancing and decides to go out with a bang. A furious drug fuelled dance that culminates in a frantic naming of all the people he knew who have gone. A list that goes on and on and then stops as he wakes up on the floor of the pub. At that moment he realised he must carry on. This play is a celebration. A celebration of queer culture, community, and of life. Watching Cruise is like being in a kaleidoscope of colour, music, and spoken word. The poignancy and the importance of this play could be felt around the theatre. Life was affirmed.

Persephone Review

Courtyard Theatre, London – until 21st August 2022

Reviewed by Bobbi Fenton


In Greek Mythology, there are many different versions of the story of Persephone, in which she eats pomegranate seeds and marries Hades. ‘Persephone’, ingeniously written and directed by Emma Hawkins, combines the many stories of Persephone into one brilliant story. In this play, Persephone, Goddess of spring (Bethan Draycott) meets Hades, God of the Underworld (Peter Todd) and they dance together in the woods. Hades convinces Persephone to go with him to the underworld, which enrages Persephone’s mother Demeter, Goddess of harvest (Emma Starbuck) who causes a famine when she leaves to find Persephone. Hermes the messenger God (Franco Lopez) is sent by Zeus, King of the Gods (Lorcan Cudlip-Cook) to retrieve her and bring her to him, where he attacks her. Persephone befriends Aphrodite, the goddess of love (Abi Watkinson) who later hides her when Hades is angry at Persephone for being pregnant with Zeus’ child. This play combines the many stories of Persephone, while capturing the chaotic and complicated nature of Greek Myths.

The music that features in this show is so cleverly written, and I especially liked the back and forth between Hades (Peter Todd) and Zeus (Lorcan-Cudlip-Cook) during the song ‘Hey Brother’. The pair work excellently in this song together, as they have great singing voices. That said, it is difficult to narrow down a favourite song, as they are all incredible, and performed by highly talented actors. The lyrics to Aphrodite’s (Abi Watkinson) song ‘Leave Them Wanting More’ are delivered perfectly, with such powerful vocals from Watkinson.

The set is made up of four rails on wheels, which are used to hang props on the show the setting of Demeter and Persephone’s home, and the forest, while Zeus’ office and Hades’ office both have a sofa, with a desk and chair. The set is generally quite minimalistic to allow for easy transitions between scenes, and this works very well for the show.

The whole show is absolutely magnificent, and although there are a few moments where the sounds of props being wheeled around slightly muffle the actors’ voices, the pure talent of the actors is not lost. Anyone who is a fan of Greek Mythology should see this amazing show.

Marvellous @sohoplace from 15 October

Nica Burns presents the New Vic Theatre production of

Writers Neil Baldwin and Malcolm Clarke
Adapted for the stage by Neil Baldwin and Theresa Heskins
Directed by Theresa Heskins

@sohoplace, 4 Soho Place, London, W1D 3BG

Previews from 15 October and runs to 26 November 2022

  • Nica Burns is delighted to announce that the opening production of @sohoplace will be the New Vic’s much acclaimed production Marvellous, directed by Theresa Heskins. The New Vic theatre is the oldest purpose built, in-the-round theatre in the UK and @sohoplace is the first new West End theatre in 50 years, with a flexible, 602-seat auditorium, purpose built and opening in-the-round.
  • Marvellous is the joyful, inspiring true story of Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin who, defying all
    expectations, has led and continues to lead, the most amazing life.
  • The show is performed by a talented company including neuro-divergent actors.
  • Coming next @sohoplace: two new productions – the first directed by Josie Rourke, the
    second by Dominic Cooke.

Growing up in the 1950’s in less enlightened times, Neil Baldwin was not expected to be a success. But Neil decided he was destined to do wonderful things and that his life was going to be marvellous. And it is.

He hitchhiked across the country, became a famous clown, got an honorary degree from Keele University, was appointed Stoke City’s legendary kit man, appeared on the Queen’s New Year Honours list and accepted a BAFTA award for the film made about his life. A friend to anyone he meets, he became a local hero and an inspiration to the world. A reminder to us all not to let anything stand in the way of your dreams, just go out and make them happen.

Nica Burns, Producer and Theatre Owner said: “Marvellous is precisely that, marvellous. A
wonderful production of a heartwarming and uplifting tale about an extraordinary man who decided he would lead an exceptional life. And against all the odds, he has and does. The New Vic in North Staffordshire, led by its brilliant director Theresa Heskins, is an absolute jewel of a regional theatre, the cultural beacon of the area and the beating heart of its community. As we open our new theatre in-the-round, we are honoured to be collaborating with and learning from the expertise of the New Vic’s amazing team.”

Theresa Heskins, New Vic Artistic Director said: What a thrill it is, to see a new theatre in the round opening in London! And what a very special honour to be collaborating with Nica Burns so that the first show produced in it will come from the New Vic. Nica’s decision to make a West End venue which deliberately nurtures an inclusive relationship between stage and audience is a radical one, and it’s matched by creative programming. When she first proposed we open her new theatre with Marvellous, I was speechless: I could never imagine we would receive an extraordinary invitation like this. Nello’s special magic rubs off on everyone he encounters, and bringing that magic from audiences in Staffordshire to audiences in London will be such a privilege

When Stephen Joseph proposed this new format of theatre-in-the-round in 1962, in a pamphlet called ‘Planning for new forms of theatre’, he described it as “the simplest and most vital form of theatre”. That’s certainly the case with Marvellous. Neil’s simple and vital story has inspired so many. He has a talent for happiness that’s infectious. His is a story of joy and sadness; of realising dreams; of belonging and othering; of how labels both limit us and protect us; of what constitutes a hero – and why we need them. It’s a play that is as straightforward, direct, and sunny as Neil is: it will fill audiences with optimism, bring people together and spread happiness.’

Neil Baldwin said: Theresa said ‘I would like to make a play about you’ and I thought ‘why make a play about me?’ which is the same thing I said about the film! The cast are lovely, we’re friends. It was great. The theatre was full and I made friends with the audience. I am excited about going to London. There’s more people so hurry up and get your ticket!’

The Sunday Times
The Stage
“A funny, touching feel-good treat about a local hero that deserves to be seen by audiences
beyond his home crowd.”

The Times
“An irresistible story about a local hero. Like a cleric, he sees goodness in everyone. No wonder people love him.”
The Guardian
“It’s tone of playfulness is infectious.”

Name Role
Suzanne Ahmet Suzanne
Charlie Bence Charlie
Gareth Cassidy Gareth
Alex Frost Alex
Michael Hugo Real Neil
Jerone Marsh-Reid Jerone
Daniel Murphy Daniel

Neil Baldwin Writer
Malcolm Clarke Writer
Theresa Heskins Writer & Director
Lis Evans Designer
Conrad Nelson Original Musical Director/ Composer
James Atherton Additional Musical Director/Composer
Beverley Norris-Edmunds Movement Director
Daniella Beattie Lighting & Projection Designer
James Earls-Davis Original Sound Designer
Alex Day Additional Sound Designer
Paul Groothuis Sound Designer for London transfer
Caroline Wilkes Associate Director
Anji Carroll CDG Casting Associate
Caroline Hetherington Vocal coach
Jenny Holford Personal Assistant to neurodiverse actors
Patrick Molony & Chris Easton Production Management

LES MISÉRABLES Announces New Cast At The Sondheim Theatre from 27 September 2022






Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce new cast members joining the critically acclaimed new production of LES MISÉRABLES at the Sondheim Theatre from Tuesday 27 September.

Joining the company from 27 September will be David Thaxton as Javert, Ava Brennan as Fantine, Robert Tripolino as Marius, Nathania Ong as Éponine and Lulu-Mae Pears as Cosette. They join Jon Robyns as Jean Valjean, Gerard Carey as Thénardier, Josefina Gabrielle as Madame Thénardier and Jordan Shaw as Enjolras.

The company also includes Hazel Baldwin, Brad Barnley, Emma Barr, Cameron Burt, Natalie Chua, Matthew Dale, Matt Dempsey, Bryony Duncan, Louis Emmanuel, Sophie-May Feek,  Natalie Green, Melad Hamidi, Harry Jack,  Christopher Jacobsen, Benjamin Karran, Yazmin King, Bart Lambert, Sarah Lark, Georgie Lovatt, Ellie Ann Lowe, Adam Robert Lewis, Donald Craig Manuel, Jodie Nolan, Sam Peggs, Jo Stephenson, Phoebe Williams and Ollie Wray.

David Thaxton returns to Les Misérables, having previously played both Javert and Enjolras at the Queen’s Theatre. His other West End credits include Kevin T/Garth in Come From Away at the Phoenix, The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Raoul in Love Never Dies at The Adelphi Theatre, Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Giorgio in Passion at the Donmar Warehouse, for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

Ava Brennan’s West End theatre credits include Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre, Alline Bullock in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre and Mrs Crachit in A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic. She has also appeared in Netflix’s Top Boy and her film credits include Hellboy, Rocketman, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Beauty and the Beast.

Robert Tripolino’s theatre credits include The Man in Whistle Down The Wind at The Watermill Theatre, Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar and Sal Russo in RAGS at Manchester Hope Mill Theatre. In Australia he has appeared as Jamie in The Last Five Years, Roger in Rent, Chino in West Side Story, Jean-Michel in La Cage Aux Folles, and Jamie in Third World Blues.

Nathania Ong, who most recently played Éponine in the UK and Ireland Tour, now joins the London production in the same role. She graduated from Mountview in 2021 and went on to make her professional debut in Be More Chill at the Shaftesbury Theatre that same year.

Les Misérables marks Lulu-Mae’s West End debut. She has recently been seen as Graziella in West Side Story at the Ljubljana Festival in Slovenia. 

Since Cameron Mackintosh first conceived this acclaimed new production of LES MISÉRABLES in 2009, to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary, it has taken the world by storm. It will relaunch its record-breaking tour of North America in October this year, a new tour of The Netherlands is set for early 2023 with further productions to be announced. The UK and Ireland tour continues its acclaimed run.

Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent iconic score of LES MISÉRABLES includes the classic songs, I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, Do You Hear the People Sing?, One Day More, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Master Of The House and many more. Several of its songs have become real life anthems of revolution wherever in the world people are fighting for their freedom. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, LES MISÉRABLES is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular and contemporary musicals.

Cameron Mackintosh’s production of LES MISÉRABLES is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Orchestrations are by Stephen Metcalfe, Christopher Jahnke and Stephen Brooker with original orchestrations by John Cameron. The production is directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, projections realised by Finn Ross & Fifty Nine Productions, musical staging by Geoffrey Garratt, and music supervision by Stephen Brooker and Alfonso Casado Trigo.





With over 10,000 tickets at £10 across the run

The Michael Grandage Company today announces that their production of Orlando opens at the Garrick Theatre on 5 December 2022, with previews from 25 November, and runs until 25 February 2023.

The production sees Emma Corrin returning to the London stage as the title role in Orlando, from the novel by Virginia Woolf in a new version by Neil BartlettMichael Grandage directs, reuniting him with Corrin, following their recent collaboration on the feature film My Policeman for Amazon.

Continuing their commitment to accessible ticket prices across their productions, MGC will have over 10,000 £10 tickets available across the run.

Priority booking for the production is now open, with public booking opening at midday today.

MGC and Sand and Snow Entertainment present







25 November 2022 – 25 February 2023

Garrick Theatre

“Nothing is any longer one thing”

Orlando tells a story like no other. Born in the reign of Elizabeth 1st, its hero-heroine journeys through five centuries and a myriad of encounters in search of the answer to just one question; how do any of us find the courage to truly be ourselves?

Michael Grandage directs Emma Corrin in Neil Bartlett’s joyous new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s modern masterpiece – Orlando

Leading an eleven-strong company in a bold new staging, Olivier Award nominee Emma Corrin returns to London’s West End in one of the most surprising stories in the English language.An inspiring vision of all bodies having equal rights to love

Orlando opens at the Garrick Theatre this November for a strictly limited season.

Emma Corrin returns to the stage to play Orlando, following their Olivier Award nominated performance in Anna X (Harold Pinter Theatre).For their performance in Anna X, they are currently nominated for a Stage Debut Award for Best West End Performer.For television, their credits include playing Lady Diana Spencer in the award-winning The Crown -for which they won a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award, as well as receiving a SAG and Emmy nomination. Emma will go on to star in the upcoming films My Policeman and Lady Chatterley’s Lover and limited-series Retreat.

Neil Bartlett‘s vividly theatrical adaptations, translations and  plays have been staged by the National Theatre (Berenice, The Game of Love and Chance, In Extremis and Or You Could Kiss Me, his collaboration with Handspring Theatre Company, the creators of Warhorse), theRSC ( The Dispute, The Prince of Homburg), the Abbey in Dublin ( The Picture of Dorian Gray), the Royal Exchange, Manchester (Everybody Loves A Winner, Twenty-Four Hours of Peace), Bristol Old Vic (Great Expectations)and the Lyric Hammersmith (Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol)He has also made work for, amongst others, the Drill Hall, the Glasgow Citizens, the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. From 1994 to 2005 Bartlett was Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith, and his work there earned him both an OBE (in 2003) and a nomination for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Theatrical Achievement (in 2000).  In 2008 he was an awarded an honorary degree by Brookes University Oxford in recognition of his pioneering and longstanding commitment to gay culture and civil rights; this year, his fifth and most recent novel, Address Book, has just been longlisted for the Polari Prize.

Michael Grandage is Artistic Director of the Michael Grandage Company (MGC) where he most recently directed the film My Policeman (2022) starring Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, Gina McKee, Linus Roache, David Dawson and Rupert Everett which will be released on 21 October 2022. Previously, his other film work for MGC included Genius (2016) starring Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Linney which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. For MGC in the theatre he has directed Ian McDiarmid in The Lemon Table (UK Tour), Aidan Turner in The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Noël Coward Theatre), Alfred Molina and Alfred Enoch in Re(Wyndham’s Theatre), Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51 (Noël Coward Theatre), Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes (national and international tour and West End), Jude Law in Henry V, David Walliams and Sheridan Smith in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in Peter and Alice and Simon Russell Beale in Privates on Parade as part of the season at the Noël Coward Theatre. In September he directs Dawn French’s new show Dawn French is a Huge Tw*t. His opera work includes Madama Butterfly for Houston Grand Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera, Le Nozzi de Figaro for Glyndebourne and Houston, Don Giovanni for the Met and Billy Budd for San Francisco, Glyndebourne and BAM in New York. He was Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse (2002–2012) and Sheffield Theatres (2000-2005) where his work included Chiwetel Ejiofor in Othello, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in Frost/Nixon, Derek Jacobi in King Lear, Eddie Redmayne and Alfred Molina in Red (Tony Award for Best Director), Jude Law in Hamlet and Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov. He won three Olivier Awards for his musical productions of Guys and Dolls, Merrily We Roll Along and Grand Hotel. He is President of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. He was appointed CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors 2011. His book, A Decade At The Donmar, was published by Constable & Robins in 2012. His charity, set up to help young theatre makers, can be found at

Twitter: @michaelgrandage


Instagram: michaelgrandagecompany


Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HH

Box Office:  0330 333 4811

Tickets from £10

Concessions available – please see website

25 November 2022 – 25 February 2023

Dates of access performances will be announced shortly

The Book of Mormon Review

Theatre Royal Concert Hall Nottingham – until Saturday 10th September 2022

Reviewed by Amarjeet Singh


First staged in 2011, The Book of Mormon was created by the dynamic and devilish minds behind South Park. It is a sardonic examination of the beliefs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I believe, the western worlds attitude towards developing countries as a whole.

The multi award winning musical follows a pair of ill-matched Latter-day Saint missionaries, Elders Price and Cunningham, as they attempt to preach the faith of the Church to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the lack of interest from the locals, who are distracted by more pressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, famine, female genital mutilation, and oppression by the local warlord. The locals cannot see how these ‘teachings’ can solve their practical issues and don’t believe God can help at all.

Uganda was not the first choice of preaching base for the religious duo. Elder Price dreamed of doing ‘Great things’ in Orlando Florida. Mainly driven by a desire to lead and be a leader he is horrified to be partnered with Elder Cunningham, an insecure, fantasist who just wants to be liked.

Cunningham’s years of being ridiculed and side-lined have given him lesser expectations of his chances of success on the missionary trail, but they have also given him more of the inner resources needed to cope with the situation he finds himself in, and he embraces the mission. There is also a childlike joy and wonder to his approach which is infectious. Price, by contrast, has a sense of entitlement. The golden child, over achiever becomes dismayed at his current predicament and his world quickly crumbles around him.

Unable to covert the villagers to the ways of the church, experiencing some traumatic events and not being able to ‘Turn it off’ like his fellow missionaries, Elder Price throws in the towel and attempts to leave. Abandoned and afraid, Elder Cunningham takes up the reigns. Realising that the Book of Mormon has little relevance to the problems of the locals, he decides to adapt the story to suit their predicaments, embellishing it with ideas of his own, gleaned from a lifetime of fantasy and fiction. It piques the villager’s interests and convinces them to join the movement.

Overjoyed at the success rate of the conversion, the Mormon president wants to visit the village and what ensues is truly incredible.

The Book of Mormon is a superb piece of satirical showmanship. It’s ridiculously crude, offensive, shocking, glitzy and riotously funny. But if you look beyond its base level and catchy tunes you will see how clever this show is. The portrayal of the Ugandans is relentlessly stereotypical, serving as a vehicle for the show’s main targets: western arrogance, racism, colonialism and the white saviour complex. The play shines a spotlight on western arrogance, prods and pokes at the ludicrous reality of misguided sanctified behaviours and attitudes and is immensely gratifying to watch as it all unfolds, and we are left questioning our entitlements and political correctness.

Scott Pask’s set design is comical, creative and colourful, especially the Ugandan slums and the Mormon Hell dream. Along with Ann Roth’s stunning costume design, these add to the script and music to give the audience an immersive evening’s entertainment.

The cast and ensemble are equally excellent, particularly Nabulungi, played charmingly by the sweet-voiced Aviva Tulley, the fierce and feisty female protagonist who faces her fears and steps into the unknown. Also, Elder Cunningham played by Conner Peirson, the lovely, adorable and energetic Mormon with an overactive imagination and Elder Price played by Robert Colvin, the charming, pomp, straightlaced character that will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. However, the absolute star of the show was Jordan Lee Davies who played the suppressed, sexually frustrated and very wonderfully gay Elder McKinley. Every song had the audience entertained but it was during the fifth song, ‘Turn it off’, with humorous lyrics joking about the suppression of feelings as a “nifty little Mormon trick”, that proved just how clever this show and its music was. I offer no spoiler, but when Elder McKinley tap danced off the stage the audience roared with laughter and were still scratching their heads at how the missionaries pulled of (or on) the last trick.

The musical may appear to mock religious credulity, but it doesn’t question the need for belief. As Elder Price sings towards the end of the show, ‘It’s just a bunch of made-up stuff, but it points to something bigger’. We just need to decide which parts are the made-up bits. As critical thinkers, we can decide. Either way I hope you decide to see The Book of Mormon. It’s like nothing you have seen before, a true revelation.

The Pleasance make record donations to HIV charity Waverley Care with star-studded comedy benefit The Tartan Ribbon

The Pleasance make record donations to Waverley
Care over thirty-year partnership

Since 1992 the Pleasance Theatre Trust has been a proud supporter of Scotland’s leading HIV and Hepatitis C charity, Waverley Care. Every summer, Waverley Care’s team of volunteers can be found collecting donations throughout the Pleasance venues. Last night, comedians took to the stage for a raucous night of laughter in The Tartan Ribbon, raising much-needed funds for Waverley Care at this annual comedy benefit.

Hosted by five-star, award-winning, hit-podcasting, Frank Skinner-supporting Pierre Novellie, audiences were delighted by 2014 winner of Dave’s Best Joke of the Fringe Tim Vine, Phil Wang who is hot off the heels of his critically acclaimed Netflix special, Angela Barnes (Mock The Week; Live at the Apollo; 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown; and former chair of BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz), Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee Sindhu Vee, Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Show nominee Ivo Graham, Sarah Keyworth (Live at the Apollo; 8 Out Of 10 Cats; Dark Horse, Comedy Special; The Guilty Feminist Podcast), amazing political comedian Njambi McGrath and Josh Jones (8 Out of 10 Cats; Late Night Mash, Dave; host of Fast Food Face Off, BBC Three).

This year the Pleasance anticipates raising £26,980 for the incredible charity, meaning that across their 30-year partnership they are proud to have raised a total of £639,155.

This generous support helps Waverley Care deliver life-changing services to people living with HIV or Hepatitis C in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. The partnership has also helped to raise awareness and challenge some of the stigma that surrounds HIV and Hepatitis C. However, there is still much more that can be done.

For more on Waverley Care’s brilliant, essential work, visit



It has today been announced that Sita McIntosh, former Chief Operating Officer of leading UK theatre website WhatsOnStage, has been appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Leicester’s Curve theatre.

Chris Stafford, Sita McIntosh and Nikolai Foster portraits taken on 16th August 2022 at Curve Theatre

A Curve Trustee since 2018 with over 34 years’ experience in UK theatre, McIntosh brings a wealth of knowledge across the sector, including working for West End, Off-West End and regional venues and ticketing agents. As part of her role at WhatsOnStage, McIntosh also co-produced the WhatsOnStage Awards, the largest publicly voted theatre awards in the UK.

In recent months, McIntosh has established Inclusive Audiences, an initiative committed to the development and diversification of audiences, which works with productions to cultivate audiences with historically low engagement with theatre.

McIntosh follows current Chair Ian Squires, who will step down following six years in post.

Speaking about the announcement, McIntosh said:

“Having joined the board at Curve almost four years ago and being part of the team through some exceptionally challenging times since then, I am thrilled and honoured to have been appointed Chair. I’m very excited to step into the enormous shoes left by Ian Squires and build on Curve’s extraordinary work and reputation already established by Chris and Nikolai.”

Over his tenure, Squires has overseen Curve’s most successful period to date, with the 2019 Made at Curve production of West Side Story bringing almost 50,000 people to the theatre and earning a raft of five-star reviews. He was also instrumental in guiding the theatre through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ian Squires said:

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead Curve as the chairman of its board for these last six years. We have a fine, talented and committed team that have produced the most extraordinary results. Who thought we could do better than West Side Story in 2019? Or top last year’s newspaper response to A Chorus Line – ‘Leicester: officially the home of world class theatre’? And now they’ have, they’ve done it again with a musical Billy Elliot beyond compare.

“But if life was all five-star reviews there’d be nothing to challenge us and challenges there have been (Covid-19 – I’m talking about you here) as well as the twists and turns that come upon the life of any theatre. Happily, with a united and clear-thinking board, smart management and brilliant creative skill we have come through. Curve is well-placed to fulfil its promise of becoming a theatre with a sustained national and international reputation based in a great regional city.

“Partings like these are always of ‘such sweet sorrow’ but I leave with the hugely experienced Sita McIntosh succeeding me, a refreshed and energetic board in place and the supremely gifted Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster on the bridge. My thanks to all with whom I have shared the last half -dozen years. Take good care of the place and, above all, enjoy it.”

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director, Arts Council England said:

“We are pleased to welcome Sita McIntosh as the new chair of Curve – I’m sure her knowledge gained as a board member and her wealth of experience in business, theatre and production will prove invaluable as she steps up to this new role.

“Sita’s commitment to audience development and diversity – and bringing theatre to audiences from all backgrounds – will be a great asset to Curve as it continues to produce, programme and tour bold and diverse work. I must also pay tribute to Ian Squires, as the departing Chair, whose dedication and work over the last six years has seen the theatre grow, adapt and enjoy great success.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said:

“On behalf of our city, I am delighted to welcome Sita McIntosh as the new chair of Curve. 

“Sita’s vast experience in theatre and her dedication to inclusivity perfectly place her to take the reins from Ian Squires who, over the last six years, has established Curve as a beacon of high-quality arts and cultural engagement in Leicester. 

“I know Curve will be in safe hands with Sita at the helm and look forward to seeing Leicester’s much-loved theatre go from strength to strength over the coming years.”

McIntosh’s time as Chair will begin with the Made at Curve production of The Wizard of Oz. Directed by Nikolai Foster, the musical is set to be Curve’s most ambitious show to date. To find out more, visit





Theatr Clwyd and Chichester Festival Theatre today announce the full cast for the world première production of brand-new musical The Famous Five, based on the much-loved books by Enid Blyton, written by Elinor Cook with music and lyrics by Theo Jamieson. Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd Tamara Harvey directs Ailsa Dalling as puppeteer and puppet associate, Elisa De Grey as Timmy puppeteer and puppet associate, Lara Denning as Aunt Fanny, Maria Goodman as George, Sam Harrison as Bobby, Isabella Methven as Anne, David Ricardo-Pearce as Uncle Quentin, Louis Suc as Dick, Kibong Tanji as Rowena and Dewi Wykes as Julian. The production opens at Theatr Clwyd on 29 September with previews from 23 September and runs until 15 October, before playing at Chichester Festival Theatre from 25 October to 12 November, with previews from 21 October.

Theatr Clwyd in a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre present the world première of


A New Musical

Music & Lyrics by THEO JAMIESON; Book by ELINOR COOK

Based on the books by Enid Blyton                


23 September – 15 October 2022


21 October – 12 November 2022

Director: Tamara Harvey; Designer: Lucy Osbourne; Lighting: Johanna Town;

Video Design: Ash J Woodward; Sound Design: Dan Samson; Musical Direction: Katherine Rockhill;

Choreography: Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster; Musical Supervision: David White;

Associate Director: Francesca Goodridge; Assistant Director: Juliette Manon

Join Enid Blyton’s Famous Five for a daring musical adventure! 

When George and her dog Timmy find out that her cousins Julian, Anne and Dick are coming to stay, they’re pretty sure the whole summer is ruined. But out in the bay lies Kirrin Island and a ruined castle filled with mysteries to solve. Together they embark on a daring mission with the future of the planet at stake – a mission that might just be the making of the Famous Five… 

Based on Enid Blyton’s multi-million-selling novels, this new musical by the award-winning Elinor Cook, with music and lyrics by Theo Jamieson, is an exciting and heart-warming treat. Directed by Olivier award-winning Tamara Harvey (Home, I’m Darling).

Ailsa Dalling plays puppeteer and puppet associate. Her theatre credits include: Animal Farm (UK tour), AngeloThe Adventures of Curious Ganz, The Wolves in the Walls (Little Angel Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (Leeds Playhouse), The Dancing Frog (UK tour) and Venus & Adonis (RSC).

Elisa De Grey plays Timmy puppeteer and puppet associate. Her theatre credits include: Animal Farm (UK tour), Peter Pan (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Goodnight Mister Tom (Phoenix Theatre), Pinocchio, A Christmas Carol (Citizens Theatre), Running Wild (UK tour), Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Wolves in the Walls (Little Angel Theatre), No Way Out (Southwark Playhouse), Cinderella, Robin Hood and The Lottie Project (Polka Theatre).

Lara Denning plays Aunt Fanny. Her theatre credits include: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (UK tour), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (Ambassadors Theatre/Menier Chocolate Factory), Ruthless! The Musical (Arts Theatre), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Matilda (Cambridge Theatre), Scrooge the Musical (Curve Theatre), Dick Whittington (Bristol Hippodrome), The Rocky Horror Show (international tour), Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance (UK tour), All the Fun of the Fair (UK tour), You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (UK tour), Can Can (Sadler’s Wells) and Carousel (Kilworth House Theatre).

Maria Goodman plays George. Her theatre credits include Jabberwocky (The Other Palace/Theatre Royal Margate), South Pacific, Aladdin, Mother Goose (Lyceum Theatre), Peter Pan (Theatre Royal Margate) and What We Wished For (Crucible Theatre). Her television credits include Ted’s Top Ten.

Sam Harrison plays Bobby. His stage credits include: The Magician’s Elephant (RSC), Love is Only Love (Chichester Minerva), The Wizard of Oz (Leeds Playhouse), Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (West Yorkshire Playhouse/UK tour), Eastward, Ho! (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Damsel in Distress (Chichester Festival), By Jeeves (Trinity Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera (UK tour), Salad Days (Riverside Studios), Crazy for You (London Palladium) and Avenue Q (Gielgud Theatre). His film credits include Under the Jericho Sun and Foxtrot One One.

Isabelle Methven plays Anne. Her theatre credits include: Annie the Musical (Piccadilly Theatre), School of Rock (New London Theatre – original UK cast), Mary Poppins (international tour), The Sound of Music (UK tour), Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre), La Traviata, Carmen and Die Meistersinger (Royal Opera House).

David Ricardo-Pearce plays Uncle Quentin. His theatre credits include We Started to Sing (Arcola Theatre), Saint Joan (National Theatre), Kiss Me Kate (Watermill Theatre), The Last Yankee Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Hired Man (Octagon Theatre), The Lorax (Old Vic), The Middlemarch Trilogy, De Montford (Orange Tree Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bristol Old Vic), The Rover (Hampton Court Palace), The Big Fellah (Lyric Hammersmith), Anyone Can Whistle, Saturday Night (Jermyn Street Theatre), Annie Get Your Gun (Young Vic Theatre), Privates on Parade (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Birmingham Rep), The Car Cemetery (Gate Theatre), Two Cities (Salisbury Playhouse) and Tom’s Midnight Garden (Unicorn Theatre). His television credits include Traitors, Trauma, The Spa, Outnumbered, Extras and Border Crossing.

Louis Suc plays Dick. His theatre credits include: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Matilda (Cambridge Theatre). His film credits include: I’ll Find You, High-Rise, The White King and My Cousin Rachel; and for television, Goldie’s Oldies, Rhyme Time Town and Mike the Knight.

Kibong Tanji plays Rowena. Her theatre credits include TINA, The Tina Turner Musical (Aldwych Theatre), Hairspray (London Coliseum), Misty (Trafalgar Studios), The Sun, The Moon and The Stars (Theatre Royal Stratford East), The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs (Soho Theatre) and All My Sons (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch).

Dewi Wykes plays Julian. His stage credits include Petula (National Theatre Wales) and The Three Seagulls (Bristol Old Vic). His television credits include Y Goleudy and The Sister Boniface Mysteries.

Elinor Cook was the winner of the George Devine Award 2013 for Most Promising Playwright and a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award 2018. For television, she has recently written on Killing Eve, The Secrets and The Essex Serpent. Her commission for Paines Plough Roundabout Season, Out of Love, ran at the Orange Tree Theatre in Spring 2018, having opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and then toured the UK. In 2017 she was also commissioned by the Donmar Warehouse to adapt Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah for the Donmar’s Autumn/Winter 2017 season. Other previous theatre credits include: Extra Yarn (Orange Tree Theatre), Pilgrims (Hightide Festival/The Yard/Theatr Clwyd), Ten Weeks And Image Of An Unknown Woman (Gate Theatre), The Boy Preference (National Theatre Connections 2015), The Girl’s Guide To Saving The World (Hightide Festival) and This Is Where We Got To When You Came In (Bush Theatre).

Tamara Harvey became Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd in 2015. Her work for the company includes Olivier Award-winning Home, I’m Darling by Laura Wade, created in collaboration with the National Theatre; Much Ado About Nothing, the première of Elinor Cook’s award-winning play, Pilgrims; David Hare’s Skylight, and Peter Gill’s new version of Uncle Vanya. Before joining Theatr Clwyd, Harvey was a freelance director for fifteen years, working in the West End, throughout the UK and abroad on classic plays, new writing, musical theatre and in film. Beginning her career at Shakespeare’s Globe, she has also directed at, amongst others, Hampstead Theatre, Bush Theatre, St James Theatre, Finborough Theatre, Trafalgar Studios, Menier Chocolate Factory, Birmingham Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theatre Royal Northampton and Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Enid Blyton and The Famous Five are registered trademarks of Hodder & Stoughton Limited.

This production at Theatr Clwyd is supported by the Carne Trust Trainee Directors Scheme.



A Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes co-production


Writer and Director Paul Hendy

Friday 2 December 2022 – Tuesday 3 January 2023

Today, Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes announce the cast for Jack and the Beanstalk at the Lyceum Theatre. Drama and soap actor, Wendi Peters (Coronation Street, Peter Pan), joins legendary Dame Damian Williams, ‘the Voice of Sheffield’ Maxwell Thorpe (Britain’s Got Talent), Marc Pickering (Boardwalk Empire), Sam Turrell (Rock of Ages), Joey Wilby (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) and Sarah Freer (Zog And The Flying Doctors). CBeebies’ favourite Waffle The Wonder Dog appears alongside, plus the cast will be supported by a brilliant ensemble.

Jack and the Beanstalk is this year’s GIANT family pantomime, written and directed by regular pantomime producer Paul Hendy and produced by the same team who brought you the sensational Cinderella in 2019. This will be the sixteenth year Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes have produced the Sheffield Lyceum pantomime.

With stunning sets, comedy, audience participation and breath-taking special effects, Jack and the Beanstalk promises to be the funniest and most spectacular pantomime ever!

Wendi Peters, best known for her role in Coronation Street, returns to Sheffield after appearing in Peter Pan in the Lyceum in 2018. Damian Williams is celebrating his fifteenth year as Sheffield Theatres’ Dame. Maxwell ThorpeMarc Pickering, Sam Turrell, Joey WilbySarah Freer and Waffle The Wonder Dog all make their Sheffield debuts.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs from Friday 2 December 2022 – Tuesday 3 January 2023 at the Lyceum theatre, Sheffield. Tickets are on sale now and can be booked through the Box Office in person, over the phone on 0114 249 6000 or at