Northern Ballet announce UK tour of Tortoise & the Hare

Northern Ballet announce UK tour of

Tortoise & the Hare

Touring UK wide 27 January – 29 May 2024

Northern Ballet’s heart-warming children’s ballet Tortoise & the Hare will tour to venues across the UK in spring 2024. 

The production will open in London at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre from 27 – 29 January 2024. Between 12 February and 26 May, the children’s ballet will then embark on an extensive UK tour, travelling to Leeds, Buxton, Aylesbury, Stoke, Goole, Barrow, Huddersfield, Crewe, Corby, Oxford, York, Durham, Harrogate, Newcastle, Doncaster, Hartlepool, Hull, Barnsley, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Bridlington, Bradford, Berwick and finally Edinburgh. 

Tortoise & the Hare is a re-imagining of Aesop’s much-loved fable of a Tortoise who, tired of being teased for his slowness, challenges a speedy Hare to a race. 

Running for approximately 40 minutes, the colourful production has been created especially for children aged three and above and their families. It is designed as a way for them to experience live dance, music and theatre together at an affordable price.  

Many venues include a relaxed performance which, whilst open to anyone, aims to reduce anxiety around theatre visits to help everyone have an enjoyable time. They may benefit people with sensory or communication difficulties, or a learning disability. For the first time there will also be two audio described performances and accompanying touch tour during the run at Northern Ballet’s home theatre, the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds. 

Tortoise & the Hare is just one in Northern Ballet’s award-winning series of children’s ballets which have toured to theatres, schools and community centres across the UK. 

Choreographed by former Northern Ballet dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe, Tortoise & the Hare premiered in 2015 and was the second children’s ballet by the pair. Their 2012 Ugly Duckling was later adapted into a BAFTA winning programme for CBeebies. The production includes an original score composed by Bruno Merz, set designs by Ali Allen and live music performed by members of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia

Some venues are now on sale. For more information, on-sale dates and details on how to book, please visit 

New Trailer Released for the National Theatre’s Production of ‘Dear England’, by James Graham, at the Prince Edward Theatre from 9 October


A new trailer has been released for the National Theatre’s highly acclaimed West End transfer of Dear England. This new smash hit play by James Graham, directed by Rupert Goold, tells the story of the England men’s football team under Gareth Southgate. It will play at the Prince Edward Theatre from 9 October 2023 for a strictly limited 14-week run.

Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu; The Mother, Netflix) reprises his role as Gareth Southgate with Dervla Kirwan (Smother, Apple TV; Material Girl,BBC) joining him in the role of Pippa Grange, sports psychologist and Head of People and Team Development at The Football Association from 2017 until 2019. 

The cast also includes Denzel Baidoo as Bukayo Saka, Josh Barrow as Jordan Pickford Gunnar Cauthery as Gary Lineker, Will Close as Harry Kane, Crystal Condie as Alex Scott, Will Fletcher as Jordan Henderson,  Darragh Hand as Marcus Rashford, John Hodgkinson as Greg Clarke,  Lloyd Hutchinson as Sam Allardyce, Albert Magashi as Jadon Sancho, Kel Matsena as Raheem Sterling, Lewis Shepherd as Dele Alli, Griffin Stevens as Harry Maguire, Paul Thornley as Mike Webster, Tony Turner as Greg Dyke, Ryan Whittle as Eric Dier.  Nick Barclay, Tashinga Bepete, Kate Kelly Flood, Will Harrison-Wallace, Miranda Heath, Tom Mahy and Tristan Waterson complete the company. The cast will also be playing additional roles as part of the ensemble.

Following their acclaimed productions of Tammy Faye and Ink at the Almeida Theatre, writer James Graham (Best of Enemies, Young Vic; Sherwood, BBC) has reunited with director Rupert Goold (Spring Awakening, Almeida Theatre; Judy, 20th Century Fox) for this gripping examination of both nation and game.

It’s time to change the game. The country that gave the world football has since delivered a painful pattern of loss. Why can’t England’s men win at their own game?

The team has the worst track record in the world, and manager Gareth Southgate knows he needs to open his mind and face up to the years of hurt to take team and country back to the promised land.

Rupert Goold is joined by set designer, Es Devlin; costume designer, Evie Gurney; lighting designer, Jon Clark;movement directors, Ellen Kane and Hannes Langolf; sound designers, Dan Balfour and Tom Gibbons; video designer, Ash J Woodward; and additional music by Max Perryment.  Casting director is Bryony Jarvis Taylor;voice coach is Cathleen McCarron and dialect coach is Richard Ryder. Associate director is Elin Schofield; associate set designers are Benjamin Lucraft and Will Brown; associate lighting designer is Ben Jacobs; associate sound designer is Alex Twiselton and resident director is Rasheka Christie-Carter.

Commissioned by the National Theatre, Dear England was developed with the theatre’s New Work department and had its world premiere in the Olivier theatre on 20 June 2023.

Tickets for Dear England are available from £20 at Additionally, as the National Theatre prepares to mark 60 years of entertaining and inspiring audiences around the world on 22 October, a limited number of free tickets for 16-25-year-olds throughout October will be made available to book via the National Theatre websiteon Monday 2 October from 12 – 6pm or whilst tickets last.

Dear England in the West End is supported by American Express, the National Theatre’s Preferred Card Partner.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt announces cast for UK tour


We’re going on tour!
We’re going to see a Bear Hunt
What a beautiful Play!
We’re not scared….

Full casting is announced for the smash-hit production of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,
opening in London at artsdepot, North Finchley on Friday 13 October ahead of a UK tour,
including a Christmas season at The Lowry, Salford. Benedict Hastings (Boy), Tim Hibberd
(Dad) and Ben Hills (Dog/Musician) return to the show; they are joined by Neha Eapen (Girl)
and Ross McKenna (Understudy/ASM).

Sally Cookson’s hugely inventive production set to Benji Bower’s lively musical score is a
mischievous celebration of play, utilising everyday objects and materials to capture the
imagination and propel audiences into the world of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s
much loved picture book.

Music, laughter, rhymes, rhythms and repetitions together with puppetry, paint, water and
mud – not to mention a bear – we’re not scared! – make this fun-filled adventure the perfect
theatrical outing for all young families.

Join our intrepid family of adventurers and their musical dog as they wade through the
swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy squelchy mud, in search of
a bear. Expect plenty of interaction and a few surprises along the way.

Michael Rosen says of the live theatre show: ”This production of We’re Going on a Bear
takes everyone on the journey – not under, not over, oh no – through it! – in a funny,
exuberant and loving way. It’s a show full of laughter, music, silliness and thrills that I
promise you will excite and delight all young children. This is a must-go show.”

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is presented by Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and is
created by the critically acclaimed production team including director Sally Cookson,
composer Benji Bower, designer Katie Sykes, lighting designer Tony Simpson, sound
designer Jason Barnes and associate director and puppet designer Marc Parrett.

Neha Eapen plays Girl. Her theatre credits include Lottie in The Not so Grimm Twins
(Wrongsemble), and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (for PHA/Leeds Carriageworks), for
which she won the Best Newcomer Award at The Pantomime Awards 2023.

Benedict Hastings returns to the company to play Boy. His theatrical credits include Stel &
Wes Fight the Flood
(Norwich Puppet Theatre), Frankenstein (Blackeyed Theatre), Zog
(Freckle Productions), Sitting by Katherine Parkinson (Take Two Theatricals), We’re Going
on a Bear Hunt
and What the Ladybird Heard (Kenny Wax Family Entertainment), 3 Guys
Naked from the Waist Down
(Finborough Theatre), Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (RSC),
The Mermaid of Zennor (Moon on a Stick) and Being Human (Belgrade Theatre). Over the
COVID-19 crisis, Benedict co-created Doorstep Puppet Theatre, bringing shadow puppet
shows including The Little Mermaid Finds Her Voice, ROAR-punzel – Rapunzel, but with
Dinosaurs and Who Killed Mr Punch? to households across London. Most recently, Benedict starred in the Olivier Award-winning Hey Duggee The Live Theatre Show, playing Duggee and Narrator.

Tim Hibberd returns to play Dad. His theatrical credits include The Snail and the Whale and
Mr. Benn (Tall Stories), Paddington and Charlotte’s Web (Polka Theatre), and Peasouper
and Dusty Fruit (Rejects Revenge). His TV credits include Mr Fen in Topsy and Tim and
Vincent Van Coconut in Art Attack.

Ben Hills returns to play Dog/Musician. He has worked as a singer with ITV, BBC and
Fremantle on shows including BBC’s I Can See Your Voice and ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. He
has toured as a professional musician since 2018, working on London’s West End and

Ross McKenna joins the company as Understudy/ASM. His theatrical credits include Nick
Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Erasmus Theatre), Luca in San Domino (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Smashed (Collingwood Learning). His credits whilst training include Brendan Behan in The Hostage, Gabriel Conroy in The Dead, Francis Fryer in Calamity Jane and Florizel in The Winter’s Tale.

Steve Coogan to star in World Premiere Stage Production of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove






Seven-time BAFTA Award winner STEVE COOGAN to lead

first ever adaptation of the legendary film-maker’s work

Co-adapted by BAFTA and Emmy Award winner


and co-adapted and directed by Olivier Award winner


Performances begin at Noël Coward Theatre, London

on 8 October 2024

Steve Coogan will lead the first ever adaption of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic work, as the world premiere stage production of Kubrick’s timeless classic Dr. Strangelove prepares to open in the West End in Autumn 2024.

Coogan, one of the UK’s most acclaimed actors whose remarkable career includes seven BAFTA Awards, will play multiple roles in the production set to begin performances on Tuesday 8 October 2024 at Noël Coward Theatre, London for a strictly limited season through until Saturday 21 December 2024.

This jet-black comedy masterpiece, about a rogue U.S. General who triggers a nuclear crisis, is brought to the stage by acclaimed,BAFTA and Emmy Award winner Armando Iannucci and Olivier Award winner Sean Foley in an explosively funny satire of mutually assured destruction. Sean Foley will also direct.

Tickets are on-sale tomorrow, Wednesday 27 September. Please visit

Steve Coogan said: “The idea of putting Dr Strangelove on stage is daunting. A huge responsibility. It’s also an exciting challenge, an opportunity to bring this timeless classic to a new audience. Knowing that I will be part of a creative team led by Sean Foley and Armando Iannucci means I will be working with the best people. Sean is a master of stage comedy and Armando and I started working with each other over 30 years ago. We made some memorable comedy together so it’s great to be collaborating with him once again.

Sean Foley added: “I’m thrilled and excited to finally be able to say that one of our very finest actor-comedians, the amazingly talented Steve Coogan, is to play the lead in our world premiere stage version of Dr Strangelove. Across stand up, sitcom, tv, and film, and in both comic and dramatic roles, Steve has excelled being able to make people belly laugh even while they wince – sensing the maladroit, the madness, and the menace in his extraordinary characters… I can think of no better actor to convey the ’nightmare comedy’ of Strangelove.” 

Armando Iannucci said:It’s a tale of our time and it needs one of the most amazing talents of our time to tell it: I’ve seen Steve Coogan close-up for many years now, and can tell you that no-one gets right under the skin of a character the way he does. There’s a total focus on how each character would speak and move and even think, added to which is an instinctive comic timing and dramatic charisma that’s second to none. He’s able to get huge audiences to connect with the vulnerabilities and fine details of each character he brings to life. We’re all so delighted he’ll be bringing these amazing gifts to the stage for the hugely contrasting roles in ‘Dr Strangelove’ and I for one can’t wait to see Steve make them his own. It’s going to be a thrill for all of us.

Steve Coogan was born and raised in Manchester where he trained as an actor at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. Shortly after Drama School, Steve landed his first job as an impersonator and comic on the satirical TV series Spitting Image.

In 1992 Coogan won the Perrier Award for his show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Whilst appearing on various shows on BBC Radio 4, the iconic British institution that is Alan Partridge was born. The character moved from radio to TV and over the years has picked up a number of BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards. Coogan has taken the character on three nationwide sell out tours. Mid Morning Matters aired on Sky Atlantic in February 2016 to critical acclaim and was followed by a mockumentary special, Scissored Isle for Sky for which he won a BAFTA for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme.

In 2019 Alan returned to BBC One in This Time With Alan Partridge to rave reviews and was nominated for Best Comedy Programme at the Broadcast Awards. This Time With Alan Partridge was back on our screens in 2021 for series 2. Alan has been the subject matter of two books I Alan Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan released in 2011 and Alan Partridge: Nomad released in October 2016. In 2021 Coogan launched From The Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast for Audible which was nominated for a British Podcast Award.

Recent TV appearances include The Reckoning and Chivalry in 2022 and Stephen in 2021. Previously Coogan starred in Saxondale in 2006, Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2007, The Simpsons in 2012, Happyish in 2015 and four seasons of The Trip with Rob Brydon including the latest instalment, The Trip to Greece. Coogan won the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2011 for his performance in the first series.

For his work across TV and film, Coogan has won seven BAFTA Awards and seven British Comedy Awards. He was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor for his role in the critically acclaimed Stan & Ollie, starring opposite John C. Reilly and he was awarded The Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy in 2019.

In addition to The Trip series, which was released theatrically in a number of territories, Coogan has collaborated with filmmaker Michael Winterbottom on four feature films: 24 Hour Party PeopleA Cock and Bull StoryLook of Love and, most recently, Greed, co-starring Isla Fisher.

His recent screen work includes The Lost King in 2022 as well as the critically acclaimed Philomena, co-starring Judi Dench which he co-wrote with Jeff Pope and produced under his Baby Cow production label. Philomena won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in addition to being nominated for Outstanding British Film and Best Film. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

His other film credits include The DinnerMindhornRules Don’t ApplyThe Parole OfficerNight at the MuseumTropic ThunderIn the LoopAlan Partridge: Alpha PapaThe Secret Life of PetsIrreplaceable YouMinions and Despicable 2 and 3.

In 1999 Coogan set up Baby Cow Productions. Baby Cow have produced many successful and award-winning programmes including The WitchfinderChivalryAlan PartridgeThe Mighty BooshThe TripGavin & StaceyZappedUncleRed DwarfSensitive SkinCampingMoone BoyStarlings and Hunderby.

Dr. Strangelove is produced by Patrick Myles and David Luff, in association with Tulchin Bartner Productions and Playful Productions. Jonathan Cameron is the Executive Producer for the Stanley Kubrick Estate.





Birmingham Royal Ballet has today released first-look production shots from their sold-out world premiere production of Black Sabbath – The Ballet which continues performances at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 30 September.

Credit: Johan Persson/

The Company were joined on opening night by legendary Black Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi for a special curtain call performance. Guests on the purple carpet at the opening night included Sharon Osbourne, Black Sabbath drummer Geezer Butler, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, ELO’s Bev Bevan and BRB Director, Carlos Acosta.

Following performances in Black Sabbath’s hometown of Birmingham, Black Sabbath – The Ballet then tours to Plymouth Theatre Royal 12-14 October and  London’s Sadler’s Wells – 18-21 October. Tickets for all performances are sold-out, check the theatre website regularly for returns. Over 60% of tickets in Birmingham have been sold to audiences who have never attended a ballet before.

A full-length, three-act, Ballet Now commission, this brand-new work brings together a host of international creatives including lead Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidburg, Cuban designer Alexandre Arrechea, Tony Award winning composer Christopher Austin with additional choreographers Raúl Reinoso and Cassi Abranches and composers Marko Nyberg and Sun KetingRichard Thomas is dramaturg for the project and lighting design is by Kieron Johnson. Capsule Director Lisa Meyer is Metal Curator. See full biographies for the creative team in notes.

The 8 Black Sabbath tracks featured in the production are:Paranoid (Paranoid, 1970);  Ironman (Paranoid, 1970); War Pigs (Paranoid, 1970); Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath, 1970); Solitude (Master of Reality, 1971);  Orchid (Master of Reality, 1971); Laguna Sunrise (Vol 4, 1972) and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1973). The music will be re-orchestrated for the Royal Ballet Sinfonia with new compositions inspired by Black Sabbath also performed live by the orchestra. On the stage guitars and drums will be integrated into the performance.

Black Sabbath – The Ballet is the second Birmingham-focussed commission from Carlos Acosta. The first, City of a Thousand Trades which looked at the city’s industrial heritage and multicultural communities, premiered in 2021.

The idea of a Black Sabbath ballet has been on Carlos Acosta’s mind since he first arrived in Birmingham at the start of 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Black Sabbath played their first ever gig in The Crown pub just a stone’s throw from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s base on Thorp Street. The pub was recently saved from demolition and is deemed a heritage site by fans.

Tom Fletcher’s There’s a Monster In Your Show UK Tour Full Cast






Tom Fletcher’s interactive adventures for big imaginations are leaping from page to stage, as the beloved ‘Who’s in Your Book?’ series, makes its debut as a brand-new musical show.

Full casting is announced today for ‘There’s a Monster in Your Show, which will premiere at the Watford Palace Theatre on 12 October, before heading off to more than 50 further venues around the UK! The latest info can be found at

The cast will feature actor/puppeteers Charlie Daniels (Hey Duggee, Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday and His Dark Materials (BBC), Josh Macrow (The Furchester Hotel Live, Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday), Ben Murrell (In The Night Garden Live, Twirlywoos Live, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elmer and the Patchwork Elephant, Goosebumps Alive’ (The Vaults London), Ashton Owen (Twirlywoos Live, Smartest Giant in Town, Mr Men) and Gil Sidaway (The Happy Prince, Newbies).

A high-energy 50-minute adventure featuring lively original music, this show is the perfect introduction to live theatre.

Expect plenty of playful fun for your littlest ones as their favourite characters come to life in a show that is packed with interactive moments to enjoy together.

A group of performers are preparing to start their show, but quickly discover they are not alone on stage. Little Monster wants to be part of the fun too! With an invitation to his friends, Dragon, Alien and Unicorn to join him, you can expect comedy and chaos as they help to create a magical show, learning about the joy of books and friendship along the way.

There’s a Monster in Your Show… and he can’t wait to meet you!

Tom Fletcher said, I’m so excited to see ‘There’s a Monster In Your Book,’ come to life on stage! Theatre is such an important way to introduce children to the arts and ‘There’s a Monster In Your Show’ is the perfect first theatre trip for pre-schoolers and their families. I’m so looking forward to seeing their reactions first-hand.”

The production is presented by MEI Theatrical, the team who have brought some of the world’s best loved family brands to the stage including Twirlywoos Live, Sarah & Duck and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. 

There’s a Monster in Your Show is adapted for the stage by Zoe Bourn (Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam, Mr Men Little Miss). A keen advocate of children’s literacy and the accessibility of story books, she is thrilled to be part of the creative team introducing this debut show to fans of Tom’s book series.  The show has design by Laura McEwen (Oh, No George!, The Singing Mermaid and Twirlywoos Live) and puppets created by Keith Frederick (Twirlywoos, Jack V Giant, Dog’s Don’t Do Ballet). Katie Haygarth is Associate Director.

New music will be composed by Tom Fletcher and Barrie Bignold.

The show is directed by Miranda Larson who adapted Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus and the YouTube phenomena Little Baby Bum for the stage. Other UK theatre credits include the current tours of Milkshake Monkey’s Musical and Fireman Sam Saves The Circus. Puppet direction is by Roman Stefanski, associate director at Polka Theatre (Sarah & Duck and Twirlywoos).

The Who’s in Your Book? picture-book series by Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbot is published by Puffin.

There’s a Monster in Your Show is produced on stage by Millennium Entertainment International.

Facebook: @MEITheatrical

Twitter: @MEI_Worldwide

Instagram: @mei.worldwide

Tour Dates 2023/24

(This list is subject to change)


12 & 13 October              Watford Palace Theatre

15, 16 & 17 October        King’s Lynn Corn Exchange

18 & 19 October              Mansfield Palace

21October                       Gwyn Hall, Neath

22 October                      Newport Riverfront

23 & 24October            Hall for Cornwall 

26October                      The Beacon (Wantage Literary Fest)

27October                      South Hill Park Arts Centre 

28& 29October            Bedford Quarry Theatre 

30 October                      Theatre Royal Wakefield


1 November                    The Met, Abertillery

2 November                   Milford Haven Torch Theatre 

3November                   Taunton Brewhouse

4 & 5 November           Theatre Royal Winchester 

7November                    Royal Spa Centre Leamington Spa 

8 & 9 November           Eric Morecambe Centre

11 & 12 November          Dorking Halls

13November                  Radlett Centre

16November                  Middleton Arena 

17 November                  Atkinson Southport

19 November                  Sunderland Fire Station 

20 November                 Alnwick Playhouse 

23November                 Halesowen Town Hall 

24 & 25 November      Swansea Grand

26November                 Spalding South Holland Centre

28 & 29November      Stamford Arts Centre


11-23December            Mill Arts Centre, Banbury

28Dec – 7 January     Artsdepot, London


2-5 April                      Corn Exchange Newbury  ON SALE SOON

6 & 7 April                    Birmingham Town Hall

13 & 14 April                 Lincoln Arts Centre

18 & 19 April                 Norwich Playhouse  ON SALE SOON

20 & 21 April                Marina Lowestoft

23 & 24 April                Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells 

26-28 April                  Southampton MAST 

30 April-1 May            Swan Theatre Worcester


3 & 4 May                   Tamworth Assembly Rooms

5 & 6 May                   Chelmsford Theatre

7 & 8 May                    Grove Theatre Dunstable

11 & 12 May                  Derby Theatre

14 & 15 May                  Tyne Theatre & Opera House

17-19 May                    Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford 

22 & 23 May                Canterbury Gulbenkian 

25 & 26 May               Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

28 May – 1 June          Liverpool Playhouse



Disney’s THE LION KING UK & Ireland Tour ended its phenomenal 11-week run at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 16 September having performed to over 150,000 audience members.  The sold-out show followed a hugely successful season of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST last year and combined the productions have brought over 200,000 audience members through Birmingham Hippodrome’s doors. Disney’s ALADDIN will fly into the venue in October 2024 as part of its first tour of the UK and Ireland.  

The date marks the end of the last UK season of this touring production of the iconic musical which opened at Bristol Hippodrome in September 2019. It is only the second ever UK Tour of the show to take place since it opened in London’s West End in 1999. The production will play at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin from Saturday 28 September to Saturday  11 November.

The internationally acclaimed production opened in Birmingham on Thursday 6 July, hosting 86 performances, including 7 access performances and a soldout Relaxed Performance for those with sensory needs.

Jon Gilchrist, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham Hippodrome said; “It’s been fantastic to have Disney’s THE LION KING with us in Birmingham over the past 11 weeks. Our mission is to provide that ‘goosebumps’ feeling through memorable and extraordinary experiences, and this certainly has been an extraordinary production. The reaction from our audiences has been really special and I’m thrilled that we have reached over 150, 000 people from across the region.”

Andrew Lovett, Chair, West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board, said: “The West Midlands’ cultural scene continues to be one of the region’s great success stories, providing a stage for countless emerging and established stars and performances, and contributing positively to our quality of life.

“Birmingham Hippodrome’s summer season is always a particular highlight of the West Midlands’ annual festivals and events calendar, with eagerly anticipated shows like The Lion King attracting huge audiences across their run. Major productions such as these provide a significant boost to the West Midlands’ wider hospitality scene – with bars, restaurants, hotels and transport hubs packed with theatregoers, supporting the region’s £14.1 billion visitor economy.”

In the production’s final week of the UK Tour, Birmingham Hippodrome hosted the culmination of this year’s Circle of Life Awards on Wednesday 13 September, a nationwide project run by the Disney’s The Lion King designed to empower students to create their own social action project to benefit their community. Schools from Coventry, Lincoln, Cheshire, Birmingham and Burton met the company and watched the musical whilst receiving their award for projects which covered a variety of themes that focus on improving their community.

The story of The Lion King leaps into life using spectacular masks, puppets and costumes to tell the story of Simba’s epic adventures, as he struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood and becoming king.

Credit: Johan Persson

Julie Taymor’s internationally celebrated stage adaptation of THE LION KING opened on Broadway in 1997 and 25 global productions in nine different languages have been created since then (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese). THE LION KING is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

Since the UK premiere in 1999, THE LION KING London has entertained more than 18 million theatregoers and is the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

The stunning artistry of the production is the work of a team of designers which drew on diverse cultural influences to recreate the rich colours and vast expanses of the African savanna in this daring and inspiring reinvention of one of the most successful animated feature films of all time.

Julie Taymor, one of the world’s most innovative directors, brought a vast array of disciplines to THE LION KING, including extensive experience staging epic theatre and opera productions, exploring classic myths through ritualised puppetry, mask, and movement. The Lion King was the first musical Taymor directed in the commercial theatre and she made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win the Tony Award® for Best Director of a Musical.  

The Broadway show’s full creative team, which won five Tony Awards® for its work on THE LION KING, reunited in 1999 to recreate the show in London. Julie Taymor and Michael Curry created hundreds of masks and puppets.

Scenic design is by British designer Richard Hudson and lighting is by Donald Holder. Costume design is by Julie Taymor, and choreography by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay.

The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers.  As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina.

Elton John and Tim Rice have added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, including the Academy Award®-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the haunting Shadowland.

THE LION KING concludes its UK & Ireland Tour at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 28 September – 11 November 2023 before heading to Theater 11 Zurich from 23 November 2023. For more information and tickets visit

An All-Star Cast Leads the Battle of Britain Royal Gala on 8 October 2023


Stars of stage and screen will pay tribute to Battle of Britain pilots in the royal charity gala Stars in Salute! The intimate evening of words and music will take place in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent GVCO at The Royal Air Force Club in Mayfair on Sunday 8thOctober at 7.30pm. 

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, the theatrical event will also mark 20 years of patronage by His Royal Highness. 

The cast will include veteran broadcaster Michael Aspel (This Is Your Life), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), stars of Midsomer Murders Annette Badland and Neil Dudgeon, Neil Pearson (Drop the Dead Donkey),and EastEnders legend Pam St Clement. 

They will be joined by Tyler Butterworth (The Darling Buds of May), Janet Dibley (EastEnders), Bruce Graham (Follies), Tom Hopcroft (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery), plus a video contribution from Sue Holderness (Only Fools and Horses).  

Further casting is yet to be announced. 

Stars in Salute! is devised and directed by Martin Milnes with Musical Direction by Mehran James McCullough. The royal gala is produced by Tom Miller and Martin Milnes with BBMT Hon Secretary Patrick Tootal and Event Organiser Janet Tootal, who will speak about the work of the charity. 

Patrick Tootal commented, ‘Stars in Salute! will be a unique entertainment; our incredible cast bringing to life unforgettable stories of heroism and bravery from the Battle of Britain. We are most grateful to these artistes, who are friends both old and new to the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. All proceeds from Stars in Salute! will help us continue our vital work in raising awareness of the Battle for future generations.’ 

Only 100 seats are available for this one-night only exclusive tribute to The Few; honouring their legacy in songs, scenes, poems and personal memories. Stars in Salute! will be presented in one act, followed by a post-show reception. All stars appear subject to availability. Tickets, priced £150, can be purchased from the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust on 01732 870 809. 

Darren Criss In Concert at the London Palladium on Sunday 15 October 2023






Fresh from a hugely successful tour of Australia and the US, Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Award-Winner Darren Criss will make his West End debut at the iconic London Palladium for a special one night only concert on October 15th.

Criss will perform the hits of his career with his own four-piece band and special guests, Starkid’s Lauren Lopez and Joey Richter.

Musical fans get ready – this is a night you’ll never forget.

Darren Criss is a multi-award-winning actor, singer, and songwriter. Darren is best known for his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Oustanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, and for his leading role of Blaine Anderson in Glee.

He rose to prominence as a founding member of StarKid Productions, a theatre production company based in Chicago, playing the role of Harry Potter in, and co-writing music and lyrics for, their musical production of A Very Potter Musical.

A talented, multi-hyphenate artist, Darren has released a critically acclaimed EP, Human, and made his Broadway Debut replacing Daniel Radcliffe in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and his feature film debut in the comedy Girl Most Likely with Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon. Other screen credits include Royalties, Muppets Haunted Mansion, and Hollywood. He also performed at the 57th Presidential Inauguration for President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden.

Darren is also an advocate for LGBT rights and is the recipient of Variety’s Power of Youth Philanthropy Award for his contributions to the Trevor Project.

The London Palladium

Sunday 15 October 2023 @ 8pm

To Sign Up for Ticket Access:

Pre-sale opens for 24 hours 10am Thursday 28 September

Public on sale 10am Friday 29 September

Instagram and Facebook: @lambertjacksonproductions

Twitter: @ljprods





Adapted by David Haig
Directed by Max Webster

16 Feb – 09 March 2024

22 March – 06 April 2024


19 April – 18 May 2024

Simon Friend Entertainment is today delighted to announce that in partnership with co-producers Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Birmingham Rep and Nottingham Playhouse, the World Premiere stage adaptation of Minority Report will be presentednext spring.Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1956 near-future novella made globally famous by Steven Spielberg’s 2002 blockbuster movie, this timely presentation is adapted for the stage by David Haig (My Boy Jack, Pressure) and reunites Simon Friend Entertainment with director Max Webster (Life of Pi, Henry V and the forthcoming production of Macbeth starring David Tennant, Donmar Warehouse),whose multi-award-winning production of Life of Pi has captivated audiences both sides of the Atlantic.

Opening at the Nottingham Playhouse, where it plays from 16 Feb – 9 March 2023,Minority Report then tours to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (22 March – 6 April 2023) before concluding it’s run at London’s Lyric Hammersmith from 19th April – 18 May 2023.

This incredible theatrical experience will use innovative technology to create a world at the borders of science fiction and reality and, unlike the novella and Hollywood film, this innovative new production relocates the action to London, with the central character (most famously played by Tom Cruise) as a leading female neuroscientist, Dame Julia Anderton.

In 2050, neuroscientist Dame Julia Anderton is about to launch the next phase of her pioneering Pre-Crime programme, detaining people for crimes before they are committed. But when Julia is accused of pre-murder, she’s in a race against time to save herself from her own system.

This thrilling adaptation of Phillip K Dick’s iconic story challenges our beliefs about justice and free will in a real-time chase through London of the future.

Producer Simon Friend says of today’s announcement: “I’m delighted to announce the world premiere stage version of Minority Report, based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, adapted by David Haig. We commissioned this project several years ago, but with its prescient central theme of personal technological surveillance, it has only become more alarmingly relevant to the world in which we live, despite the original story having been written in 1956. I’m also excited to reunite with director Max Webster, after the continued success of our production of Life of Pi, to create another entertaining, ambitious, and thought-provoking piece of theatre, and to partner with some of the country’s best producing theatres in Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Lyric Hammersmith.”

Writer David Haig, who adapts the production for the stage continues: “It’s been the most exciting challenge of my career: to write a futuristic thriller for the stage, based on one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told.”

Director Max Webster adds “I’m really pleased to be directing Minority Report – a story so many people know and love – but which, in David Haig’s thrilling retelling, suddenly becomes a chillingly relevant thriller about law, justice and the power of technology to predict the future.”

The wider creative team comprises; Production Designer Jon Bausor; Video Designer Tal Rosner; Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun; Composer and Sound Designer Nicola T. Chang; Movement Director Lucy Hind Casting Director Lotte Hines CDGFull casting to be announced.

David Haig (Writer) is an Olivier award-winning actor and FIPA award-winning writer.
His writing credits include: My Boy Jack which opened at Hampstead Theatre in 1997 and subsequently toured in 2004; The Good Samaritan (Hampstead Theatre, 2000) and Pressure (a co-production by Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Chichester Festival Theatre) which was nominated for Best New Play at the 2014 UK Theatre Awards. The play was revived in 2018. It toured the country, ran at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park for 2 months, and then transferred to the West End for a sold-out run at the Ambassador’s Theatre. Pressure enjoyed its North American premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto in 2023.

In 2007, David adapted My Boy Jack for screen, produced by Ecosse Films and ITV. The adaptation, which starred David alongside Daniel Radcliffe, Carey Mulligan and Kim Cattrall, won Best Screenplay at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) in 2008. 

David is currently working on a new play: Magic, a commission by Nicholas Hytner for the Bridge Theatre. He is also developing a film version of Pressure with Working Title and Studio Canal.

Max Webster (Director) is the Associate Director at The Donmar Warehouse.
As Director, theatre credits include: Life of Pi (Broadway, West End & currently on a UK Tour – Winner of 5 Tony and Olivier Awards); Henry V (Donmar Warehouse); Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Old Vic Theatre/San Diego Old Globe/Minneapolis Children’s Theatre); Antigone, Twelfth Night, As You Like It (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Jungle Book (Fiery Angel); Fanny and Alexander, Cover My Tracks (Old Vic Theatre); The Twits (Curve Theatre Leicester); The Winter’s Tale (The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh); The Sea of FertilityMary Stuart (Parco Productions Tokyo); Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe); Shostakovich’s Hamlet (City of London Sinfonia); Orlando, To Kill a Mockingbird, My Young and Foolish Heart (Royal Exchange Manchester); James and the Giant Peach, My Generation (Leeds Playhouse); Carnival Under the RainbowFeast Kakulu (Hilton Festival, South Africa) and Caucasian Chalk Circle (Aarohan Theatre, Kathmandu).

Opera credits include: La Bohème (Göteborgsoperan, Sweden); The Merry Widow (English National Opera) and Owen Wingrave (British Youth Opera).

Upcoming work Includes Macbeth (Donmar Warehouse, Starring David Tennant).

One of the most celebrated authors of the last century, Philip K. Dick was published in the Library of America in 2007 and has received literary recognition unprecedented for a contemporary science fiction writer. His more than 40 novels and 125 short stories have been translated into 25 languages.  Dick’s works have been the basis for blockbuster movies such as the Ridley Scott directed, BLADE RUNNER (1982) and Denis Villeneuve directed BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017), as well as two versions of TOTAL RECALL (1990) and (2012) and ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (2011).

Founded in 2007, Electric Shepherd Productions is dedicated to the stewardship and adaptation of the Philip K. Dick library and is owned and operated by daughter of the author, Isa Dick Hackett. ESP’s most recent projects include the Emmy Award-winning television series The Man in the High Castle, based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel of the same name, and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, an anthology show based on different short stories, with Ronald D. Moore, Michael Dinner, Bryan Cranston, and Sony Pictures TV. Current projects include a feature film based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Vulcan’s Hammer, which ESP is producing alongside New Republic and director Francis Lawrence.