The Mentalists

Written by Richard Bean
Directed by Abbey Wright



Rehearsal images have been released of BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning writer, comedian and actor Stephen Merchant (The Office, Extras, Hello Ladies) and critically acclaimed actor Steffan Rhodri (Gavin & Stacey, Harry Potter, Posh) as they prepare to open wickedly funny comedy The Mentalists, which runs for a strictly limited season at the Wyndham’s Theatre from Friday 3 July to 26 September.

This new production of The Mentalists, is written by Richard Bean, writer of the smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors and directed by Abbey Wright.

Ted (Stephen Merchant) has a master plan to revolutionise the world – and with help from his best friend Morrie (Steffan Rhodri) and his video camera, it may just go global! But Morrie begins to suspect that Ted’s in trouble as unpaid bills and cryptic phone calls start to mount; and as the world closes in, there is only one way out, in this hilarious, sharply written and touching comedy.

Well-known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais, including popular television shows The Office,Extras, Life’s Too Short and An Idiot Abroad, Stephen Merchant recently starred in Dan Mazer’s hit British comedy film I Give It A Year alongside Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall. Merchant wrote, directed and performed Hello Ladies, an international stand-up comedy tour which he went on to re-create as a television series for HBO including HBO special Hello LadiesThe Movie. In a career that has seen Merchant accept four BAFTA awards, four British Comedy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for his television work, The Mentalists will mark both his theatrical and West End debut.

Steffan Rhodri was last seen in the West End in Laura Wade’s Posh and Alan Ayckborn’s Absent Friends, both in 2012. On television, Rhodri became a household name portraying Dave Coaches in Gavin & Stacey for three years between 2007 and 2010. Most recent television credits include Under Milk Woodfor the BBC and Channel 4’s Cucumber and the critically acclaimed Shakespeare’s Hollow Crown seriesHenry VI and Richard III for the BBC.

Since writing The Mentalists, originally part of the Transformation season in 2002 at the National Theatre, Richard Bean has gone on to score West End successes with One Man, Two Guvnors and Great Britain, both directed by Nicholas Hytner. Most recently, Bean wrote the book for Made In Dagenham, which premiered at the Adelphi Theatre in 2014, starring Gemma Arterton and directed by Rupert Goold.

Directed by Abbey Wright, The Mentalists will feature Scenic Design by Richard Kent, Lighting Design by David Plater, and Casting by Anne Vosser.

The Mentalists is produced by Old Vic Productions, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steven Harris andSam Levy in association with Jimmy Jewell Ltd and Caitlin Albery Beavan.


THEATRE:     Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA
BOX OFFICE: 0844 482 5120
TWITTER:      @MentalistsPlay
DATES:         3 July – 26 September 2015

Monday – Saturday 7.45pm
Wednesday and Saturday 3pm
Monday 13 July PRESS NIGHT at 7pm


Preview Prices* (from 3 – 16 July
£49.50, £29.50 £39.50 & £15

Standard Prices* from 17 July – 26 September
£59.50, £49.50 & £19.50

*All ticket prices include a £1.25 theatre restoration levy and a £2.25 online booking fee. An additional 50p will be added to telephone bookings


Cast announced for The Who’s TOMMY at Greenwich Theatre






Full casting is announced today for The Who’s Tommy, which will play a limited run at Greenwich Theatrefrom Wednesday 29 July to Sunday 23 August. The production comes 20 years after Tommy was last seen in London, marking the 40th Anniversary of the original film and the 50th Anniversary of The Who.


Ashley BirchallThe title role of Tommy will be played by Ashley Birchall (Starlight Express, Germany), with the cast also featuring John Barr (Sweeney Todd at ENO, Les Misérables) as Uncle Ernie, Carly Burns as Acid Queen,James Sinclair (Duncton Wood, Union Theatre) as Captain Walker, Giovanni Spanó (Dance ‘til Dawn,Mamma Mia!) as Cousin Kevin, Carrie Sutton (The Wizard of Oz, Sister Act) as Sally Simpson and Miranda Wilford (Thriller Live) as Mrs Walker. The cast also includes Danny Becker (Follies at Royal Albert Hall) Scott Sutcliffe (Mamma Mia!) Alice Mogg (We Will Rock You, Grease).


The full creative team is also announced today, completed by choreographer Mark Smith. Mark is the founder and artistic director of Deaf Men Dancing, an innovative all-male dance company of dancers and choreographers who, like Mark, are deaf. Mark’s choreography credits include My Silent World (Channel 4 Random Acts in association with BalletBoyz); Noah (Chichester Festival Theatre); The 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony (Olympic Stadium); Reasons To Be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre & UK Tour); The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Shoes as co-choreographer (Sadler’s Wells & Peacock Theatre).


Based on the iconic 1969 double-album rock opera, which later became a film of the same title, The Who’s Tommy is an exhilarating musical about hope, healing, and the human spirit. 


After witnessing the accidental murder of his mother’s lover by his father, Tommy is traumatized into catatonia, and as the boy grows, he suffers abuse at the hands of his sadistic relatives and neighbours. But as an adolescent, he is discovered to have an uncanny knack for playing pinball, a talent that breaks through his catatonia and puts him on the path to international superstardom. The story of the pinball-playing, deaf, dumb and blind boy who triumphs over his adversities has inspired and amazed audiences for more than 40 years. 

The five-time Tony Award, four-time Drama Desk Award and three-time Olivier Award winning musical was translated to the stage by director Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) and The Who’s Pete Townshend into a high-energy, one-of-a-kind theatrical event. This brand new production, the first London revival in 19 years, will mark the 40th Anniversary of the original film and the 50th Anniversary of The Who. 


The Who’s Tommy is staged and directed by award-winning director Michael Strassen with choreography byMark Smith, musical direction by Kevin Oliver Jones, design by Nik Corral and lighting design by David Howe. It is produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Guy James, and Ilai Szpiezak forSzpiezak Productions in association with Greenwich Theatre, by special arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited on behalf of Music Theatre International of New York. The Who’s Tommy has Music and Lyrics by Pete Townshend and Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff, with Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon.







Press Night: Friday 31st July, 7.30pm

Performances: Tuesday – Sunday 7.30pm, Saturday 3.00pm (No perfs 2/4 August)

Tickets: £25, £20 (Concessions), £15 (Previews) 
Box Office 020 8858 7755 |






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Direct from London’s West End, where it ran for a year to rave reviews, packed houses and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Choreography, the hit musical DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is coming to Leeds next week.


Based on the legendary 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine and Steve Martin the comedy-musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 30th June to Saturday 4th July.

Starring Michael Praed (Robin of Sherwood), Noel Sullivan (Hear’Say, We Will Rock You), Carly Stenson (Hollyoaks, Spamalot, Shrek) and Mark Benton (Waterloo Road, Doctor Who, Hairspray), audiences will be transported to the luxurious lap of the French Riviera where the decadent world of sophisticated conman Lawrence Jamieson (Praed) is set to come crashing down with the arrival of larger-than-life Freddy Benson (Sullivan) – a conman of an entirely different order. 


Soon realising the town ain’t big enough for the both of them, the two find themselves going head to head in the con of their lives, pulling out all of the stops in a bid for the affections of millionaire soap heiress Christine Colgate (Stenson).  Little do they know what they’ve let themselves in for.


Noel Sullivan was last in Leeds with We Will You Rock You also at The Grand. He said:


Leeds Grand is such a beautiful theatre … I like playing up north because in places like Leeds people go out for a good time and you really feel the difference down south where I think people are a bit more reserved.


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 30th June to Saturday 4th July


Tickets are on sale now at £25


Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700




As York Theatre Royal, the National Railway Museum and Pilot Theatre get ready to open their major new community production In Fog and Falling Snow, which stars George Costigan in the role of disgraced Railway King George Hudson, co-producers Pilot Theatre have produced a free, downloadable walking tour of York which follows Hudson’s journey from draper to railway baron.

The most unique feature of the walk is that whilst some characters are fictionalised, many parts of the text are taken from original sources found at the National Railway Museum archive, directly quoting the thoughts and opinions of people from George Hudson’s time. As a result the tour not only allows people to learn more about Hudson’s influence on the city but it comes from voices straight out of the 1800s.

The idea behind the tour was to integrate the living history of George Hudson’s influence on the city with the citizens it affected. We hope that this imaginative tour that runs alongside ‘ In Fog and Falling Snow’ will be a fun and inspiring way of seeing the city from the perspective of one of its most innovative and creative periods.

Said Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre.

The walk has been designed to be listened to as you follow the route around the city centre, accompanied by the stories and sounds of the city’s railway heritage. Although no knowledge of George Hudson’s life is needed to enjoy the production, which opens on Friday, the walking tour is designed to give people a better insight into his story before watching the production. The organisations involved also hope people will continue to download the tour long after the 11 July, when the production closes, to keep the story of The Railway King alive.

Members of the community, some of whom are cast members of the production, voiced the tour, which was written and directed by Oliver O’Shea.

He said of working on the project


This is now the second project I have directed for the public streets of a city; but it is a special pleasure to create this heritage walk for my home town. York has developed an increasingly adventurous arts scene in recent years, matching the ambition of its past, by finding innovative ways to tell its stories for audiences today. 


The York Theatre Royal, Pilot Theatre and National Railway Museum production In Fog and Falling Snow follows in the footsteps of the huge success of the 2012 York Mystery Plays and 2013’s Blood + Chocolate but this time takes place at the National Railway Museum after hours. Telling a pivotal story in the city’s history, audiences will be taken on a journey through the museum’s collections before being seated in the purpose built Signal Box Theatre for the second half.


The production opens on Friday 26 June and runs until Saturday 11 July in the Signal Box Theatre at theNational Railway Museum. Tickets for the production are on sale now from the York Theatre Royal Box Office, located on St Leonards Place in the De Grey Rooms, by calling 01904 623568 or online at


York College help build set for In Fog and Falling Snow at the National Railway Museum

Construction and Engineering students and staff at York College have enjoyed working behind the scenes in the lead up to York Theatre Royal, National Railway Museum and Pilot Theatre’s large scale community production of In Fog and Falling Snow about Railway King George Hudson, which opens this Friday. 

Second year Painting and Decorating students have made 90 specially designed boxes which, when pieced together, will form a loco for the performance.  The loco is made of 10 wooden boxes built by the College’s joinery department and 80 flat-packed cardboard boxes which students have assembled, primed, wall papered and textured, as seen in a new Behind the Scenes film released ahead of the productions opening night.

In the College’s fabrication workshops Engineering apprentices from Nestle and Unipart have worked together to weld the base for the production’s stage.  Working to drawings, the apprentices have used their welding and cutting skills to assemble a metal platform for the production.

Kevin Clancy, Head of Division for Construction at York College says:

This live project is typical of the type of opportunities we like to give our Construction students.  Our students will eventually work in industry, working to specific briefs and tight deadlines.  We are always keen to help with local community and charity projects, providing students with first-hand working experiences.

Juliet Forster, one of three directors of the production and Associate Director at York Theatre Royalsaid

York College have played a really important role in making this project come alive by making all the stocks and shares and it has been a real pleasure working with them

In addition, Performing Arts students are treading the boards alongside George Costigan as part of a cast of more than 200 local people. Acting student Kane Hutchinson takes one of the leading roles.  Kane hopes to progress to drama school or university and knows this production will look impressive on his CV.  He says:

Considering some of the scenes can feature up to 100 different characters, the show is quite a spectacle.

In Fog and Falling Snow opens on Friday 26 June and runs until Saturday 11 July at the National Railway Museum. Tickets for the production are on sale now from the York Theatre Royal Box Office, located on St Leonards Place in the De Grey Rooms, by calling 01904 623568 or online at




Kiss Me, Kate 6 – 7 Nov ‘15

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty 5 – 16 Apr ‘16

The James Plays 30 April – 1 May ‘16

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 1 – 12 Jun ‘16

Mary Poppins 8 Sept – 29 Oct ‘16


Bringing the West End to the doorstep of North East audiences, Newcastle Theatre Royal is delighted to announce a new season packed full of productions for all the family. From musicals to dance spectaculars with everything from comedy to opera in between there is something to suit every taste.


Fans of musical theatre will delight in the fabulous, multi award-winning production of Mary Poppins (8 Sept – 29 Oct ‘16). This Cameron Mackintosh production stars Zizi Strallen and Matt Lee as Mary and Bert. Newcastle Theatre Royal audiences will remember Zizi from her recent visit playing Lana in the Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man and she recently starred in Cats in the West End. Matt is an award-winning musical theatre star, who played the role of Bert in Australia and has recently been a judge on Australia’s So You Think You Can Dance.

The magical story of the world’s favourite Nanny arriving on Cherry Tree Lane has been triumphantly and spectacularly brought to the stage with dazzling choreography, incredible effects and unforgettable songs. The stage version of Mary Poppins is brilliantly adapted from the wonderful stories by PL Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film.

Another musical film classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1 – 12 Jun ‘16) will have audiences of all ages flying high with its mixture of madness, intrigue and exuberance. Having broken all Box Office records in the West End, this fun-filled production promises laughs, magic galore and favourite songs including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hushabye Mountain and Truly Scrumptious.


Guaranteed to have you dancing the night away, the award-winning musical comedy Hairspray (19 – 30 Jan ‘16) is back on tour, bigger and bouncier than ever! Starring Tony Maudsley (ITV1’s Benidorm) as Edna Turnblad, Claire Sweeney (Educating Rita, Chicago) as Velma Von Tussle, Peter Duncan (BBC1’s Tumble) as Wilbur Turnblad, and Brenda Edwards (Chicago, We Will Rock You, X Factor) as Motormouth Maybelle, this irresistible feel-good show will be sure to have you smiling for days!


If it’s great songs, fabulous dance routines and some New York gangster-glamour you’re after then Guys and Dolls (22 Mar – 2 Apr ‘16) will be right up your street.

Direct from the West End, this highly-acclaimed production features some of Broadway’s greatest show-stopping tunes, includingLuck be a Lady, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat and My Time of Day. Directed by New York’s Gordon Greenberg, with dazzling choreography by world-renowned Cuban ballet star, Carlos Acosta.


And for more star choreographers, look no further than this season’s fantastic selection of dance shows. Matthew Bourne returns to Newcastle with New Adventures’ adaptation of Sleeping Beauty (5 – 16 Apr ‘16). The traditional tale of good versus evil and rebirth is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder. Featuring spectacular designs by Olivier Award-winners Lez Brotherston (set and costumes) and Paule Constable (lighting). With specially recorded surround sound, designed by Paul Groothuis.


Newcastle audiences can enjoy a triple bill from Britain’s national dance company, Rambert (2 – 4 Feb ‘16). Love, desire and betrayal are the ingredients of The 3 Dancers, the shocking true story which inspired a masterpiece by Picasso. Choreographed by Didy Veldman, with orchestral music by leading Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. The Strange Charm of Mother Nature, created by Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, is inspired by the science of the cosmos. To music including Stravinsky and JS Bach, dancers fizz with the energy of the miniscule building blocks that created life, the universe and everything. The programme is completed by Frames, an inventive and visually arresting piece by British dance’s hottest property, Alexander Whitley. Twelve performers skilfully manipulate 70 interlocking metal bars, forming shapes, structures and spaces which, quite literally, frame their dancing in a different light.


More metal bars, together with paint cans, bin lids and brooms will be featured in Stomp (15 – 20 Feb ‘16), alongside eight energetic performers who fuse dance, percussion and comedy to create a feel-good rhythmic spectacular, in this inventive and infectiously entertaining show. The multi award-winning global phenomenon is now entering its 23rd year and has entertained over 15 million people worldwide. Featuring new routines, new music and new choreography, Stomp is fresher, faster and funnier than ever – don’t miss it!


Fans of drama have plenty to tempt them in the new season starting with An Inspector Calls (9 – 13 Feb ‘16) by the National Theatre. Directed by Oscar-nominated Stephen Daldry, the multi award-winning production of J.B. Priestley’s classic thriller has thrilled audiences in the West End, on Broadway and throughout the world with its epic and wildly imaginative staging, raw emotion, evocative score, lashing rain and chilling suspense.


Following the thrillingly successful production of Dead Simple earlier this year, the work of No. 1 best-selling author Peter James returns to the Theatre Royal with his first critically acclaimed stage hit The Perfect Murder (22 – 27 Feb ‘16). Follow a young Detective Roy Grace as he investigates his very first homicide case, where nothing is quite as it seems. Have you ever wondered how to commit the perfect murder? This highly entertaining dark comedy thriller might be your answer!


Also returning to the Theatre Royal stage, after their success with recent smash-hit, To Kill a Mockingbird, award-winning Regent’s Park Theatre company present Lord of the Flies (8 – 12 Mar ‘16). William Golding’s 20th century classic explodes onto the stage in a grippingly sinister story of a struggle for survival, superstition and immorality.


Classic comedy masterpiece Single Spies (15 -19 Mar ‘16) is the award-winning play from Alan Bennett, which returns to the stage in this eagerly awaited national tour. Directed by Olivier nominated Rachel Kavanaugh, this amusing and compelling play explores our fascination with Russian spies and royalty. It chronicles the lives of two members of the notorious ‘Cambridge Five’ spy ring in the 1950s – Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt. With forgery, fraud and hilarious blunders, Single Spies gives us a glimpse into a life full of espionage, secret identities and even an interrogation by the Queen.


The James PlaysAnd described by The Telegraph as ‘better than Shakespeare’ The James Plays (30 Apr – 1 May ‘16) arrive at Newcastle Theatre Royal as part of a high-profile UK and international tour. Exhilarating and vividly imagined, The James Plays bring to life three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland from 1406 -1488. Causing a storm of attention and thrilling audiences at both the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre in London, this run is set to captivate audiences on tour. Sit in one of a limited number of on-stage seats, to form a ‘people’s parliament’ overlooking the court of the Kings!


Acclaimed company Opera North (3 – 5 Nov ‘15) provide a wealth of opportunities for opera aficionados and novices alike with the vivacious comedy of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and the heart-wrenching tale of love and sacrifice in Janáček’s Jenůfa. The company also bring to life one of Broadway’s greatest treasures, Kiss Me, Kate (6 – 7 Nov ‘15), a super stylish show-within-a-show, set around a fictitious production of a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Set in the 1940s with Cole Porter’s richest score, dazzling choreography, stunning sets and gorgeous costumes, and performed by a full orchestra and chorus.Opera North return later with the remainder of their season (2 – 5 Mar ‘16) featuring Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, Donizetti’s L’elisir D’amore and Giordano’s Andrea Chénier.


From opera to operetta as Gilbert & Sullivan favourite The Mikado (15 – 18 Jun ‘16) arrives to transport audiences to a land of fun and flirtation. This delicious mix of cheeky English Music Hall and exquisite Japanese tradition is packed with anti-Establishment silliness and full of larger than life characters including self-serving politicians that are all too recognisable today. This playful show features some of G&S’s most popular tunes, including Three little maids, Tit-willow and I’ve got a little list.


Now if it’s Panto you’re after, you better get in quick, with over 55,000 tickets already sold for our 15/16 Pantomime Dick Whittington (24 Nov ‘15 – 17 Jan ‘16). Danny, Clive, Chris and the gang are joined this year by Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick who plays Spirit of The Tyne in another spectacular production jam-packed with fun, adventure and comedy!


And don’t forget there are plenty of great shows to suit all tastes in our current season with family-favourite musicals The Sound of Music (1 – 12 Sept ‘15), Jesus Christ Superstar (14 – 19 Sept ‘15) and The Glenn Miller Story (21 – 26 Sept ‘15). Three huge hits join us straight from the West End – King Charles III (28 Sept – 3 Oct ‘15), Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather (8 – 11 Oct ‘15) and Handbagged (26 – 31 Oct ‘15), while a new adaptation of the hit film The Shawshank Redemption (19 – 24 Oct ‘15) will be a hit with fans of this tale of freedom and hope.

THE NUTCRACKER. Northern Ballet Theatre.A visit from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (6 – 7 Oct ‘15) and Vincent and Flavia’s The Last Tango (13 – 17 Oct ‘15) are sure to be a hit with dance fans, who can also treat themselves to an early taste of Christmas with Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker (10 – 14 Nov ‘15) and their special ballet for children The Elves and The Shoemaker (13 Nov ‘15). Comedy-lovers can catch a one-night special with Dave Gorman (1 Nov ‘15) or be entertained with a night dining in our Upper Circle foyer with Basil, Sybil and Manuel as Faulty Towers, the Dining Experience returns (16 – 21 Nov ‘15).


Newcastle Theatre Royal’s Autumn 2015, Summer 2016 and Autumn 2016 seasons are kindly sponsored by Mill


Tickets for all new shows in the Autumn ‘15 / Spring ‘16 season go on public sale on Friday 3 July.  Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge) or pay 50p less per ticket when you book online at


Friends of the Theatre Royal can book new season shows on Monday 29 June, before the general public on Friday 3 July, and receive 20% off tickets, as well as discounts on drinks at our bars, exclusive ticket exchange and Friends’ prices will never change. To become a Friend and book early, please contact the Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge) or sign up online at


RSC announces the 14 UK Amateur Groups cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation

Today, on Midsummer’s Day, the Royal Shakespeare Company is delighted to announce the 14 amateur theatre groups who will play the Mechanicals alongside a company of professional actors in the national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Led by Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman, the RSC’s creative team have travelled 2360 miles to audition 586 amateur theatre makers in 95 workshops. Each group represents a region or nation of the UK. A trailer featuring all 14 Bottoms is available to watch here

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation sees the RSC working with 13 partner theatres, 84 amateur performers and 580 schoolchildren, alongside 18 professional actors and the creative team for a major tour of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. This national celebration of Shakespeare will visit each region and nation of the UK. In each area local amateur theatre companies will play the Mechanicals with Titania’s fairy train played by local schoolchildren. The production opens in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in February 2016, before embarking on a nationwide tour and returning to Stratford-upon-Avon with the entire company in June 2016.

WEST MIDLANDS: The Nonentities from Kidderminster and The Bear Pit from Stratford-upon-Avon
NORTH EAST: The Castle Players from County Durham and The People’s Theatre from Newcastle
SCOTLAND: The Citizens Dream Players from Glasgow
NORTH WEST: Poulton Drama from Blackpool
YORKSHIRE: Leeds Arts Centre from Leeds, performing in Bradford
SOUTH EAST: The Canterbury Players from Canterbury
EAST OF ENGLAND: The Common Lot from Norfolk
EAST MIDLANDS: Lovelace Theatre Group from Hucknall, performing in Nottingham
SOUTH WEST: Carnon Downs Drama Group from Truro
LONDON: Tower Theatre from East London
WALES: Everyman Theatre from Cardiff
NORTHERN IRELAND: Belvoir Players from Belfast

The amateurs are cast from all walks of life. In Glasgow the Bottom owns an estate agency and Snug is a former policeman. The Newcastle Bottom, from County Durham, is a pub landlord. The Canterbury Bottom completed the London marathon last year. A local primary school principal plays Snout in Belfast, and Snug is a painter and decorator. Bottom is a teacher and rugby player in Truro, Snug’s a caretaker and Starveling is a council officer in waste management. The Cardiff Flute works for the railway and Snout works in a patisserie.  In the Midlands, Flute is the vice-captain of a local rugby club and Quince is an ex-army officer. In Norwich an IT trainer will play Flute with a customer support worker playing Bottom. And in London, Snug is a private hire driver and Quince a GP – just a flavour of some of the people who are now set to perform on both their local theatre’s main stage and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, said:
‘It has been a thrill and a privilege to meet so many talented and dedicated amateur actors from all over the United Kingdom.  We have cast people from all kinds of backgrounds, with a wonderful range of voices, shapes and sizes, but every single one of them has already demonstrated tremendous courage, skill and hard work to have survived the audition process and be selected to star in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   And they have done all this whilst holding down a huge range of demanding jobs in the daytime. These first steps in creating a true “Play for a Nation” have been inspiring, humbling and very refreshing.  Theatre is alive and well and practised with infectious enthusiasm and impressive talent right across the country, and Shakespeare’s magical comedy has proved to be a very affectionate and fitting way to celebrate amateur actors everywhere.’

The BBC will be capturing all of the action in ‘The Best Bottoms In the Land’ (Title TBC), which will follow the Royal Shakespeare Company’s journey as they put on the production with both amateur and professional actors, during their UK wide tour.

Overseen by BBC Birmingham, nine regional programmes will be produced by the BBC English Regions teams. The 30 minute documentaries will show the pressures and pitfalls of such a project, culminating in the opening night of each region’s local performance.

Craig Henderson, Head of Programming, BBC English Regions said: ‘We’re delighted to be working so closely with both the RSC and some of our regional theatres across England. We’ll be following the ups and downs, as local amateur performers rub shoulders with some of our finest Shakespearean actors, giving regional audiences a fascinating inside track on the productions over the coming year.’

The Best Bottoms in the Land’ will follow individual stories from around the country and will air in spring 2016 on BBC One.

This series of programmes is part of the BBC’s Shakespeare celebrations in 2016. The BBC Two screening of the RSC’s Shakespeare Gala, on Saturday, 23 April 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death was announced earlier this year and the BBC will announce further details of its 2016 Shakespeare programming later in 2015.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur theatre companies across the UK. This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is supported by Arts Council England Cross-Border Touring Fund


The Nonentities

Chris Clarke (Bottom); Alex Powell (Flute); Sue Downing (Quince); Simon Hawkins (Snout); Andrew Bingham (Snug); Patrick Bentley (Starveling); Stephen Downing (Amateur group Director)
The Bear Pit
David Mears (Bottom); Dominic Skinner (Flute); Roger Ganner (Quince); David Southeard (Snout); Charlotte Froud (Snug); Shirley Allwork (Starveling); Nicky Cox (Amateur group Director)
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Wed 17 Feb – Sat 5 Mar 2016
On sale September 2015. Tickets: / 01789 403493

The Castle Players

Peter Cockerill (Bottom); Andrew Stainthorpe (Flute); Harry French (Quince); Ben Pearson (Snout); Graham Fewell (Snug); Ian Kirkbride (Starveling); Jill Cole (Amateur group Director)
The People’s Theatre
Pete McAndrew (Bottom); Reg White (Flute); Jo Kelly (Quince); Stuart Douglas (Snout); Gordon Russell (Snug); Mike Smith (Starveling); Chris Heckels (Amateur group Director); Laura Halford-Macleod (Amateur Group Assistant Director)
Northern Stage, Newcastle Wed 16 – Sat 26 Mar 2016
On sale today. Tickets / 0191 230 5151

The Citizens Dream Players

Martin Turner (Bottom); Alistair Wales (Flute); David Scanlan (Quince); Katy Thomson (Snout); Bill Whiland (Snug); Emma Tracey (Starveling)
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 Apr 2016
On sale today. Tickets / 0141 429 0022

Poulton Drama

Anthony Henry (Bottom); Garry Houghton (Flute); Catherine Lloyd (Quince); Huw Rose (Snout); Ian Rowe (Snug); Roger Lloyd-Jones (Starveling); Tony Stone (Amateur group Director)
Grand Theatre, Blackpool Tue 5 – Sat 9 Apr 2016
On sale today at 10am. Tickets  / 01253 290190

Leeds Arts Centre

Barry Green (Bottom); Ben Hopwood (Flute); Tazmin Bennison (Quince); Fiona Galloway (Snout); Ed Corbet (Snug); Rachel Brewin (Starveling); Ken Taylor (Amateur group Director)
Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr 2016
On sale today. Tickets / 01274 432000

The Canterbury Players

Lisa Nightingale (Bottom); Adam Summers (Flute); Sarah Gooch (Quince); Hannah Lloyd (Snout); Sid Moon (Snug); Jim Newberry (Starveling); Sally Elkerton (Amateur group Director)
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
On sale today. Tickets / 01227 787787

The Common Lot

Owen Evans (Bottom); Dan Fridd (Flute); Amelia Hursey (Quince); Victoria Stone (Snout); Eve Pandolfi (Snug); Emma Trindall (Starveling); Simon Floyd (Amateur group Director)
Theatre Royal, Norwich Tue 26 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
On sale late July 2015. Tickets / 01603 630000

Lovelace Theatre Group

Becky Morris (Bottom); Daniel Knight (Flute); Linda Mayes (Quince); Jen White (Snout); James McBride (Snug); Tom Morley (Starveling); Pat Richards (Amateur group Director)
Theatre Royal Nottingham, Tue 3 – Sat 7 May 2016
On sale today. Tickets  / 0115 989 5555

Carnon Downs Drama Group

Peter Collett (Bottom); Nicholas Vale (Flute); Dorothy Nelson (Quince); Charlie Springthorpe-Warner (Snout); Colin Groom (Snug); Esther O’Bearagh (Starveling); John Frankland (Amateur group Director)
Hall for Cornwall, Truro Tue 10 – Sat 14 May 2016
On sale Autumn 2015. Tickets / 01872 262466

Tower Theatre

John Chapman (Bottom); Adam Moulder (Flute); Maria Waters (Quince); Al Freeman (Snout); Peta Barker (Snug); Tom Tillery (Starveling); David Taylor (Amateur group Director)
Barbican, London Tue 17 – Sat 21 May 2016
On sale September 2015. Tickets  / 020 7638 8891

Everyman Theatre

Steven Smith (Bottom); Ricky Valentine (Flute); Cari Barley (Quince); Philip Jones (Snout); Henry Nott (Snug); Paul Fanning (Starveling); Simon Futty (Amateur group Director)
New Theatre, Cardiff Tue 24 – Sat 28 May 2016
On sale Autumn 2015. Tickets  / 029 2087 8889

Belvoir Players

Trevor Gill (Bottom); Christopher Curry (Flute); Maggie Gorman (Quince); Christopher Darcy (Snout); Robert McGregor (Snug); Jessica McGreevy (Starveling); Tanja Jennings (Amateur Group Assistant Director)
Grand Opera House, Belfast Tue 31 May – Sat 4 June 2016
On sale today. Tickets  / 028 9024 1919

Darlington Civic Theatre Rhythm of the Dance

ROTDThe National Dance Company of Ireland brings Rhythm of the Dance to Darlington Civic Theatre on Friday 24 July.

Amazing. Breath-taking. Inspiring. Wonderful. These are reactions from audiences and critics alike upon experiencing the exciting performance of the rousing Rhythm of the Dance.

Kieran CavanaghInterview with Kieran Cavanagh


Q. So Kieran tell me how it all started for Rhythm of the dance

A. back in 1998 I get a call from the Head of Music Cathal McCabe at Irelands National TV & Radio channels RTE asking me to put a dance troupe together to accompany the National Concert Orchestra to America for a 3 week tour. I said yes and produced the dance troupe to tour America with the Orchestra. Cathal titles us the National dance company of Ireland as RTE’s radio & TV channels were state owned and it would be the State would pay us for the tour.

The tour was such a success that we then toured Scandinavia in March & April of 1999 without the Orchestra as it was much too expensive to move the National concert orchestra around and now here we are all those years later still touring the world for 40 weeks of the year every year.

Q.Fantastic, so you have now played in 44 countries I believe across the four continents, tell me of your experiences around the world and the highlights over the last decade or more..

A. It never ceases to amaze me how many countries we have actually toured and some of them are non English speaking territories like Russia, where we generally start a tour as far over as Siberia and then work our way back to Moscow over a 5 week period of one nighters going from town to town overnight by train, its pretty amazing and the people come out and fill the theatres and sometimes bring Celtic song books and literature with them to show to us and we have sometimes even played music with them in our hotel and they cannot communicate with us, only through the music, its fantastic to see this happen, how music can bring different nations and cultures together

B. One of the biggest highlights for me was when we were invited to perform in Shenchen City in China for the Millennium New Years Eve TV special. We had an eight minute slot and the show was broadcast to 1 Billion viewers in Asia on CCTV, can you imagine being able to reach that big of an audience in one TV show, it was amazing and I was emotional when it happened, it was our finest hour for sure and we now tour China every year.

Q. Now you have also toured places like Taiwan,Lighuania,Romania,Serbia, Egypt, my ord the list goes on and on, it is truly an International show

A. We cover a lot of Territories around the world annually and we try to create and open new markets all the time.

Q. OK, now I have seen the show and I cannot believe the pace of your dancers , how do they keep that up for two hours.

A.Well its pretty frantic to watch alright, however our cast have been dancing and trained since they were four years old and they are incredibly fit and have to take care of their body and their diet. But each day at the Venue we have a dance captain in the show who will have a drill with the dancers prior to the performance, where they get to warm up their muscles and exercise and the rest come natural to them

Q.Now you also have a great band in the show and I didn’t even know what some of the instruments were, can you explain what instruments you have in the band.

A.OK, well first all our musicians play live on stage and that to me in very important and I have always prided myself on continuing to carry a big band around the world to play our music live to the audience. We have an array of instruments, like the Uileann pipes, which is a wonderful instrument, which is played by the musician using one arm to pump wind into the pipes via a bellows, then they must use both hands and fingers to play the notes, so I always admire someone who can master the pipes, we also carry a Harpist, Flautist,Fiddle,

Accordion, Bodhran drum,Whistles, & Banjo, so there is a vast array of musical instruments in the show and it is not unusual for one musician to play several instruments.

Q.Great, now you also have 3 Tenors and I have to say they were great and very entertaining..

A.About 4 years ago now, I introduced the Tenors into the show, before that we had a boy & Girl vocalist and because we play repeat territories sometimes annually I always keep the show fresh and when I introduced the Tenors to the show, they were an instand hit and they still wow the audiences every night and of course they give our dancers a much needed breather and time to change costumes, as we have about 25 costume changes in the show which is a lot, especially sometimes when the dancers have literally just seconds to make that change to a new costume or it could be switching shoes from the hard shoe, which makes the loud tap on the stage to the soft shoe which is for what we call light pieces of dance.

Q. So what can the audience expect when they go to see Rhythm of the dance and what separates you from Riverdance, how is your show different.

A. The audience can expect to visit Ireland for Two hours, they will leave the theatre feeling that they have been on a trip around Ireland and they will have a strong impression of our culture and our music.Irish music is loved all over the world as is our Dance now. I think what sets rhythm of the dance apart from Riverdance is that we tend to be a bit more traditional and purist and we rely less on the technical support than other shows do, like Pyro’s & large lighting rigs, although we do carry quite a lavish production

Q.Where do you recruit your dancers, does the National dance company have their own dance academy or do you advertise to find dancers?

A.Our choreographer runs our dance studio and our school, we have children as young as four years old enrolling and next year we are excited to invite children and young teenagers from Russia to Ireland for a week to learn Irish dance at our academy . We are also planning to open five dance academy’s in Russia and we are in the planning stages at this moment and we are very excited about that. We have a big following in Russia and Rhythm of the Dance is a household name there, so we were approached by our agency in Moscow to open several academys there.

Q. Wonderful, that unbelievable!. So what does the future hold for Rhythm of the dance

A. Irish dance continues to be hugely popular all over the world and I believe that Rhythm of the dance will be around for many years to come, once we remain true to the art form and keep making the show interesting and entertaining for the audience, that’s the most important factor.I would hope we have many good years of touring ahead of us.

Q Finally Kieran Cavanagh, its been great talking to you and I love your show, do you have a final word for our readers

A. Come and enjoy a two hour Irish experience and as we say in our commercials, enjoy the PASSION, THE ENERGY THE RHYTHM..The Rhythm of the Dance..


image002 (1)Calamity Jane opened at Leeds Grand Theatre last night (Monday 22nd June) starring Jodie Prenger and Tom Lister.  Lister spent 9 years playing the character Carl King in Emmerdale so of course it was only right his former colleagues turned out in support.

Michelle Hardwick who plays vet, Vanessa Woodfield, said “The best night at Leeds Grand Theatre watching Calamity Jane…such a talented cast!”

The show is created by actor-musicians making the classic tale a spectacular piece of musical theatre – both Prenger and Lister play instruments along with the supporting cast.

Gaynor Faye who plays Megan Macey in Emmerdale said “What a whip-cracker Calamity Jane is. Such a talented bunch of actors led by the fab Jodie Prenger and Tom Lister.”

Calamity Jane is on until this Saturday 28th June.


Tickets still available priced from £22 to £40.


Book online at or call box office on 0844 848 2700.


Andrew Dunn as Mr Perks in The Railway Children at King's Cross Theatre credit Johan PerssonAT KING’S CROSS THEATRE FROM 24 JUNE

Andrew Dunn will star as Mr Perks in the Olivier Award-winning production of Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children – Live on Stage from Wednesday 24 June.

Andrew has appeared in numerous television series and his comedy role as ‘Tony’ in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and playing Alastair Campbell for seven years in Bremner, Bird and Fortune have made him a well-known face. Andrew also played the role of Roger Stiles in Coronation Street from 2007 to 2008.

His extensive theatre work includes the UK tours of Brassed Off and The Full Monty. Andrew was also in the original casts of John Godber’s Up ‘n’ Under, Bouncers and Catherine Cookson’s Fifteen Streets.

Film credits include The Knife That Killed Me, Mr Right, Popcorn, The Jealous God, Ali G Indahouse andBetween Two Women.

The Railway Children opened at the King’s Cross Theatre to critical and public acclaim on 14 January this year.

The cast of The Railway Children includes Caroline Harker as Mother, Louise Calf as Phyllis, Clare Corbett as Mrs Perks, Jack Hardwick as Peter, Mark Hawkins as Jim/District Super, Connie Hyde as Mrs Viney, Andrew Loudon as Father/Doctor, Serena Manteghi as Bobbie, Blair Plant as Schepansky and Moray Treadwell as the Old Gentleman, plus a children’s ensemble made up of four teams of ten children aged between 9 and 15.

A purpose built 1,000-seat theatre, complete with a railway track and platforms, and with a state of the art air conditioning and heating system, has been specially created on the site on King’s Boulevard, behind King’s Cross Station, which has been loaned to the production for the duration of the run by Google.  The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, once again features a live steam locomotive and a vintage carriage, originally built in 1896.

The production at King’s Cross Theatre is in support of the Railway Children Charity that aims to help homeless and runaway children throughout the world, with £1 per ticket donated to the charity.

Directed by Damian Cruden, the Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal, with design by Joanna Scotcher, lighting by Richard G. Jones, music by Christopher Madin and sound by Craig Vear, Mike Kenny’s adaptation of The Railway Children was first produced by York Theatre Royal at the National Railway Museum, York, where it enjoyed two sell-out and critically acclaimed seasons in 2008 and 2009.  The production then opened at Waterloo Station in the former Eurostar terminal in July 2010, where it again played two critically acclaimed sell-out seasons and won the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, before opening in Toronto in 2011 in a temporary theatre built at the base of CN Tower in Roundhouse Park.

The Railway Children tells the story of Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, three children whose lives change dramatically when their father is mysteriously taken away.  They move from London to a cottage in rural Yorkshire with their mother, where they befriend the local railway porter, Perks, and embark on a magical journey of discovery, friendship and adventure.  But the mystery remains – where is Father, and is he ever coming back?

Edith Nesbit’s much loved classic children’s book The Railway Children was first published in 1906 and has subsequently been adapted for the stage and screen, most famously in the 1970 film version directed by Lionel Jeffries and starring Jenny Agutter, Bernard Cribbins, Dinah Sheridan and Sally Thomsett.

The production is presented in London by Tristan Baker & Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Oliver Royds for BOS Productions and Sue Scott Davison, in association with York Theatre Royal and the National Railway Museum.



King’s Cross Theatre

Goods Way

King’s Cross

London N1C 4UR

Currently booking until                       6 September 2015

Running Time                                      2 hours 10 minutes (including an interval)

Box Office                                  0844 871 7604

Performance Schedule until 5 July: Wednesday at 1pm & 6pm

                                                  Thursday at 2.30pm & 7.30pm

                                                  Friday at 7.30pm

                                                  Saturday at 2pm & 5.30pm

                                                  Sunday at 2.30pm

Performance Schedule from 7 July:   Tuesday at 2.30pm & 7.30pm

                                                  Wednesday at 6pm

                                                  Thursday at 2.30pm & 7.30pm

                                                  Friday at 7.30pm

                                                  Saturday at 2pm & 5.30pm

                                                  Sunday at 2.30pm

N.B.  See website for school holiday performance schedules

Tickets                                      £25.00-£49.50, with 25% off for Under 16s (Premium Seats available at £69.50 +

                                                Limited edition show poster)



Twitter                                       @TRCKingsCross