The Pensive Federation break down relationships in their biggest Significant Other Festival at the Vaults

The Pensive Federation presents:

March 14th – 18th 2017, The Vaults

The Pensive Federation are proud to present the 6th Significant Other Festival, this year at the Vaults under Waterloo Station, giving them their biggest stage ever. For the sixth time, they will present 10 new 10 minute plays, including a new musical, created in just 10 days.

★★★★★ “The Pensive Federation have reaffirmed their position as one of the most exciting new writing companies” Views From the Gods

The Significant Other Festival is an attempt to explore relationships and our connections with the people around us in more detail, and to really celebrate modern relationships. We start with the theme of the significant other: colloquially used as a gender-blind term for a person’s partner in an intimate relationship without disclosing or presuming anything about marital status, relationship status, or sexual orientation. We ask 10 writers to create a 10 minute play in 5 days with this theme in mind. We then hand the scripts over to a director and a company of 3 actors and give them 5 days to stage it. Every year we now add a further theme and stimulus, previous themes have included, genre, undercover (which gave us 10 different bed covers) and object of affection. This year our added theme is conditions.

★★★★★ “I’m sure there was blood, sweat and tears putting this show together, but the team’s talent and hard work make it look easy” Female Arts

The Pensive Federation are a small theatre company who have a shared aspiration in theatre which reflects people like you, situations you may have faced and reflective of the ordinary world around you. They strive to create accessible work that examines the hopes, fears and dreams that live in all of us; the need for a connection with those around us, the instinct to love and the desire to be loved, to be seen in the world and acknowledged for the person you are and not the labels you wear.

The Federation are now in their 5th anniversary year of bringing their special brand of collectively devised and created theatre to London – including the Collective Project, the Significant Other Festival and their new Rewritten project, which asks writers to develop new work from an original 5 page script.

★★★★ “an intriguing evening of intelligence and ingenuity” Grumpy Gay Critic

Theatres Trust announce six theatres to be awarded grants from UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme

Theatres Trust announce six theatres to be awarded grants from UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme

Theatres Trust is pleased to announce that it is awarding six small capital grants to a range of theatres across the country from its UK Small Grants Scheme. Launched in April 2012, the Theatres Trust receives support from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and Judy Craymer MBE awarding grants of up to £5,000 to theatres across the UK with charitable status to address urgent building repairs and help theatres in need and at risk.

Grants from the UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme are awarded as follows:

The Place Theatre, Bedford
Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington
Leatherhead Theatre
Market Theatre, Ledbury
Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath
Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre, Workington

Jon Morgan, Director at the Theatres Trust said: “I’m proud that our UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme, now in its ninth round, continues to help theatres make significant improvements to secure and improve their buildings’ fabric. The results will provide a more accessible and welcoming customer experience for their communities.”

The UK Theatres Small Grants Scheme aims to target theatres across the UK run by charities and not-for-profit groups that can clearly demonstrate the value capital improvements to their theatres would make to their work in local communities.

The Place Theatre, Bedford receives £3,335 to support interior and access improvements. Part of the project will involve purchasing a portable ramp which will make the stage more accessible to disabled performers and participants. In addition, it would involve creating a backstage shower room which would support the theatres’ ambition to present more physical theatre and dance. The 130-seat theatre is housed in a building that was originally a Boys Club. Over the last four years the theatre has introduced professional touring work and programmes up to 40 events a year covering contemporary theatre, music events, spoken word and family theatre.

Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Devon receives £4,462 for its ‘Smartening Up’ project which will see the roof, guttering, windows, exterior doors and external lighting repaired. The arts centre receives no regular funding despite sitting in a prominent position within Great Torrington and welcoming 70,000 visitors in 2015. Improvements to the Arts Centre will have a significant effect on the economy and profile of the local high street where it is located.

Market Theatre, Ledbury receives a grant of £5,000 towards a new, purpose-built, multi-purpose Studio, which will be used for rehearsal space and as an additional dressing room space – where currently it has neither. Built in 2000, it is a volunteer-run community theatre that programmes live, touring, professional and amateur drama, music, dance and film for Ledbury, its rural catchment, as well as visitors to the town, with 9,000 paid attendances in 2015.

Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath, receives £5,000 to support its ‘Keeping the Water Out’ project. The building is currently not water-tight and the grant will contribute towards the replacement of the guttering and the rainwater management systems to prevent further water ingress and damage to both the exterior and interior of the building. The Grand Pavilion’s condition has deteriorated in recent years and the vision is to position it back into the heart of the local community, by establishing it as a fully refurbished theatre, multifunctional arts venue and community space. Ensuring that the building is watertight is a critical element to the future of the theatre.

Leatherhead Theatre, Surrey, receives £5,000 to fund repairs to the external concrete of the building, which, if not carried out, will lead to further spalling and deterioration of the metal structure below the concrete. Building repairs are now required to reinstate the affected areas. The Grade II listed theatre was previously known as the Thorndike Theatre and incorporates the external features of a 1930s cinema, with the interior designed by architect Roderick Ham. It is now recognised as being one of the best and most influential theatre designs of its time. The theatre mainly serves people living in the communities of Leatherhead and surrounding areas and as well as performances and other events, the theatre runs a theatre school and performing arts classes.

Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre, Workington receives £5,000 towards the cost of accessibility improvements. The purchase and installation of double aluminium automated self-opening and closing doors will replace a set of wooden double doors from inside the main entrance foyer leading into the main café and box office, and will make the building more accessible to people with disabilities, as well as older people and parents with pushchairs. The Carnegie, a Grade II listed building, serves one of the most deprived communities in the UK.

Trustees of the Theatres Trust consider applications twice a year and will meet in June 2017 to consider further Small Grants Scheme awards. The deadline for Round Ten applications is 16 May 2017. Further details including criteria and an application form can be found:

Mental Review

Vault Festival 1 – 5 February.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Kane Power’s mother Kim is bipolar. We all have an idea of what bipolar is, but do we ever think about the impact on the sufferers’ family and relationships? In Mental, Power explores his mother’s mental health “with music, stories, and medical notes.” This may sound pretentious – Power himself admits this in his introduction – but in practice, these aspects are weaved together skilfully and sensitively to create a powerful and beautiful show.

Power does incredibly clever things on synthesizer thingies with lots of buttons and pedals (not a clue what was going on there, but I loved it!) to produce hypnotic and haunting music to accompany monologues, and adds simple repetitive lyrics that punch you in the gut. Interspersed with his own personal stories are recordings voices reading definitions of mental health terms, and the reports of Kim’s mental health reviews. Hearing her actions and delusions described calmly and coldly as Power sorts through piles of medical reports is chilling.

Power and his mother describe her mental health in more human and accessible terms – through musical and travelling analogies that allow you a peak at her disorientation. Tales of her manic episodes when he was a child, and his guilt about how he copes with her episodes now are interspersed with voicemail messages left by her. Singing and full of love in some, and foul-mouthed hatred in others. Power’s face as he shrugs at the audience after one tirade just makes you want to jump up and give him a hug.

Still in development, the show is entertaining and emotional throughout. There are a few slow sections that I was unsure of at first, but, on reflection, I think that they fitted in well with the tone of the show, feeling like natural lulls in the conversation where everyone is taking a breath. Some of the standout moments are Power’s “I’m Fine” song – about the impact his mum’s behaviour has on his life, a fabulous poem about medication and side effects, followed by a devastating visual demonstration of the damage done to Kim’s relationships.

This isn’t a pity-fest though. Rather it is a celebration of the human spirit – showing Kim’s strength, bravery and resilience as well as her frustration and loneliness. When Power puts on his mother’s shawl and speaks as her, describing her life and symptoms baldly but poetically “I can enter your world, but you can’t enter mine” he almost disappears and you see Kim standing there – a proud woman who is much more than her illness, and wants and deserves our understanding.

Hip Review

Vault Festival 1 – 5 February, then on tour.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

When Jolie Booth moved into a Brighton squat in 2002, the flat had been left untouched since the death of its last owner. Amongst the clutter, diaries, letters, pictures – and a hip bone were found. Booth started reading these letters, and developed this personal and nostalgic show about the life of Anne Clark.

Born in 1939, Anne lived in 1970’s Brighton and was the “herb lady” at Infinity Foods, and Booth found items in the flat documenting her hedonistic life. But there was a long period of silence before her death at 59. Booth’s mission to find out what happened to Anne revealed a descent into alcoholism and a lonely death. The links Booth feels with Anne are obviously profound, and her attempt to create a sense of place using incense, 70’s drapes and nibbles, and a wonderfully simple but evocative descriptive introduction to the flat is wonderfully convincing. The sense of connection and ideas of tribes are explained through aboriginal song lines, and Booth lays herself bare talking about the parallels between her life and Anne’s.

Using a gloriously low-tech OHP, photos, drawings and timelines are displayed as Booth shares Anne’s life with the audience. Letters and diaries (of both women) are passed around the audience, and the musty smell of the old paper will probably cause a few Proust moments. Members of the audience are asked to read some aloud, bringing a different slant to every show. The audience also gets to choose which aspects of Anne’s life are shared by picking from a selection of paper bags labelled with mother, lover, hedonist, artist etc.

At first, you feel like an intruder in this life, but the stories and objects draw you in, and you feel like you are getting to know a friend. In an hour. That takes some doing, and Booth’s show is balanced perfectly between psychological and sociological investigation and celebratory storytelling.

Ghost- The Musical extends UK Tour to include visit to The Lowry

Ghost – The Musical
extends UK tour to include visit to
The Lowry

Mon 24 – Sat 29 April 2017

Bill Kenwright’s production of the timeless story of love, despair and hope, Ghost – The Musical, will extend its current UK tour with a visit to The Lowry, Salford from Mon 24 – Sat 29 April 2017. Taking its inspiration from the classic movie, this innovative reimagining features an expanded book, new music and original staging.

Carolyn Maitland will continue in the role of Molly alongside Andy Mossas Sam.  Carolyn’s musical theatre credits include ‘Ellen’ in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre), ‘Joelle’ in Groundhog Day (Old Vic), ‘Rose’ in From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre) and ‘Kate’ in Kiss Me Kate (Old Vic, West End & Chichester).

Musician and actor Andy Moss, best known for the role of Rhys Ashworth in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, one he played for 8 years, will continue to wow audiences around the UK as ‘Sam’. His credits also include Cutting It, Coronation Street and most recently he appeared as Paul Cuthbert in the long running BBC soap opera Doctors.

West End musical theatre star Jacqui Dubois (original London cast of Rent and Children of Eden, other credits include The Lion King, Fela and most recently People, Places and Things) plays ‘Oda Mae Brown’, the part made famous in the film by Whoopi Goldberg. Sam Ferriday (Jersey Boys, Blue Man Group, The Prodigals) plays ‘Carl’, alongside Leo Sene as ‘Willie’, James Earl Adair haunting proceedings as the ‘Hospital Ghost’, and Gary Lee Netley as the ‘Subway Ghost’. Tarisha Rommick plays ‘Louise’ and Simbi Akande ‘Clara’. Completing the cast is Lori BakerEthan Bradshaw, Lauren Drew, Matthew Vinetot, Mike Ward and Kelly Hampson.

The Double Academy Award winning movie is a huge success story, both critically and at the box office, where it was the highest grossing film in the year of its release. It starred the late Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg and was directed by Jerry Zucker. Bruce Joel Rubin’s script won the Oscar® for Best Original Screenplay and Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film’s most iconic and moving scene was famously performed to The Righteous Brother’s Unchained Melody, which also features in the musical version.

Walking back to their apartment late one night a tragic encounter sees Sam murdered and his beloved girlfriend Molly alone, in despair and utterly lost. But with the help of a phony storefront psychic, Sam, trapped between this world and the next, tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger…

Bill Kenwright said; “Ghost is a story full of hope, and is one of those films which never leaves you. The book by Bruce Joel Rubin and score by Dave Stewart and Glenn Ballad come together wonderfully in one of my favourite new musicals in years.”

Bruce Joel Rubin said; “This is a show with such a strong emotional and musical life that it can mould to many visions and interpretations.  It can be performed on any scale, and its vibrant heart will still captivate an audience and allows the imagination to flourish. It is purely theatrical in the greatest sense.  We are very excited by the potential that the new version holds”.

Listings Info
Ghost- The Musical
The Lowry
Mon 24 – Sat 29 April 2017
7:30pm, Wed & Sat 2pm
Box office: 0843 208 6000

Full Casting Announced for Moira Buffini’s GABRIEL

Further casting and new dates announced for the

UK Tour of Moira Buffini’s


UK Tour Opens March 2017

Theatre6 and Catherine Schreiber are delighted to announce further casting for the UK Tour of Moira Buffini’s Gabriel, which opens in London at Richmond Theatre on Tuesday 28 March 2017, with a national press night on Friday 31 March 2017. This will be the 20th anniversary production of Gabrieland is only the second professional production since it was first staged at the Soho Theatre in 1997.

Belinda Lang will be joining the company in the lead role of Jeanne. Belinda is best known for playingBill in 2 Point 4 Children. Other television credits include The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, Second Thoughts, Dear John, Justice in Wonderland, The Bretts and To Serve Them All My Days. Belinda has also appeared in many theatre productions including Alan Bennett’s Single Spies, The Glass Menagerie, Oklahoma! UK Tour and Hay Fever (Haymarket Theatre and Royal Exchange Theatre).

Jules Melvin will also join the production in the role of Lake. Jules’s theatre credits include Private Lives (Hampstead Theatre), The Rose Tattoo (National Theatre) and Othello, Pericles, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe).

Belinda and Jules will be joining the previously announced Paul McGann (Withnail and I, Doctor Whoand The Monocled Mutineer) as Von Pfunz, Robin Morrissey (Twelfth Night) in the title role of Gabriel, Sarah Schoenbeck (CBBC’s 4 O’Clock Club) as Lily and Venice van Someren (Thérèse Raquin at Southwark Playhouse) as Estelle.


The story of Gabriel is based in 1943 Nazi-occupied Guernsey. Widow and mother Jeanne does whatever it takes to keep her adolescent daughter Estelle and daughter-in-law Lily safe on an island filled with danger and fear. Her toughest test arrives in the form of the terrifying Commander Von Pfunz, whose romantic advances may be the only way to keep her family alive. But tensions intensify when a mysterious young man is washed ashore with no memory of who he is. Fluent in German and English, is he an RAF pilot, an SS interrogator, a local boy with amnesia or a saviour sent from heaven? The stakes are high and getting it wrong means certain death. 

Theatre6 is joined by lead producer Catherine Schreiber. Catherine is a Tony Award-winning producer who brought the award-winning The Scottsboro Boys to London. She is currently a producer onDreamgirls in the West End and a Lead on The Play that Goes Wrong opening April 2017, Broadway and The Life, opening March 2017 in London. They will be joined by co-producers Adam Roebuck (Blithe Spirit West End, and Single Spies UK Tour) and Bruno Wang (Dreamgirls West End, School of Rock West End, and A Streetcar Named Desire Young Vic).









From 17 June to 9 September 2017



After the joyous news of Audra McDonald’s unexpected pregnancy last year, producers of the postponed London run of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill are delighted to announce that this summer, McDonald, the Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning singer and actress, will be making her long awaited West End debut portraying jazz legend Billie Holiday in a performance that won her a record-setting sixth Tony Award.

This critically acclaimed production, which broke box office records at the Circle in the Square in New York, will run for a limited engagement at Wyndham’s Theatre from Saturday 17 June to Saturday 9 September, with opening night for press on Tuesday 27 June 2017.

“Audra McDonald is a vocal genius!
One of the greatest performances I ever hope to see.”
New York Magazine

Written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grillrecounts Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”

“Mesmerizing! Pouring her heart into her voice, Audra McDonald breathes life into Billie Holiday’s greatest songs.”
The New York Times

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill won two Tony Awards in 2014 including ‘Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play’ for Audra McDonald, making her Broadway’s most decorated performer, winner of six Tony Awards and the first and only person to receive awards in all four acting categories.

1959, in a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia, Holiday puts on a show that unbeknownst to the audience, will leave them witnesses to one of the last performances of her lifetime.  Through her poignant voice and moving songs, one of the greatest jazz singers of all-time shares her loves and her losses.   

Billie ‘Lady Day’ Holiday had what is widely considered one of the greatest jazz voices of all-time. Born Eleanora Fagan in April 1915, she rose to popularity in the 1930’s and 1940’s with her pioneering vocal style strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists. After a turbulent personal life and struggle with addiction, she died at the untimely age of 44. In 2000, Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

“One of the most exquisite & haunting performances of the year!”
Entertainment Weekly 

Prior to making her West End debut in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill this summer, Audra McDonald will travel to London to perform four concerts at the Leicester Square Theatre hosted by Seth Rudetsky and featuring special guest Will Swenson from 12 to 15 April. Tickets are available here.




Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London


First performance: 17 June 2017

Final performance: 9 September 2017

Press Performance: 27 June 2017

For full performance schedule see website:

Box Office
Telephone:    0844 482 5120
£19.50, £39.50, £62.50 (including fees)
Premium and exclusive club seating available

Social Media
Twitter:        @LadyDayWestEnd
Instagram:     @LadyDayWestEnd

Audra McDonald

Wonderland Review

Empire Theatre, Sunderland – 30 January – 4 February 2017

It’s not everyday you get to see a brand new musical but Wonderland has arrived in Sunderland in only the second week of its tour and it’s really rather good.

On her 40th birthday Alice (Kerry Ellis) has received a letter from her ex husband to say he’s got remarried, her car has been stolen – making her late for work – resulting in her getting fired from her job in a Travel Agency.  She loses her keys and forgets to buy food.  Her ex husband’s reach still lingers making her think she is a terrible person and she wants to escape reality.   Teenage daughter Ellie (Naomi Morris) feels she is the responsible one looking after her mum rather than the other way round and painfully shy next door neighbour Jack (Stephen Webb) has taken 3 years to pluck up the courage to talk to Alice.

Instead of a rabbit hole the White Rabbit (Dave Willetts) takes the lift that has apparently never worked.  Ellie chases the White Rabbit down to Wonderland so Alice chases Ellie and Jack chases Alice

Once in Wonderland the characters move the plot along explaining that they all wanted to leave the real world behind and once the Queen of Hearts ( a woefully underused Wendi Peters) chops off your head you can stay in Wonderland for ever.

What follows is a romp around Wonderland with advice from the rather smooth Caterpillar (Kayi Ushe), the trickster Cheshire Cat (Dominic Owen) and a wonderfully bonkers Mad Hatter (Natalie Mcqueen).  With a bit of female empowerment they learn to stand up to bullies and find their destinies and all learn they can live happily ever after.

Neil Eckersley’s production of Wonderland is big, bold and bright.  Adapted by Robert Hudson for the show’s UK debut following a short Broadway run in 2011.  Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories the show is co-written by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, with original lyrics by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Jack Murphy.  Lottie Wakehams direction and Lucie Pankhursts choreography all help in this spectacle move along.  But for me it’s Grace Smarts rather wonderful costumes that are the star of the show.  A steampunk Mad Hatter, boy band Knights and a tartan bedecked Queen of Hearts who wears the most magnificent shoes.

I liked the show, I think it still has an hesitancy because its new but once it finds its feet it has the ability to be phenomenal.

In Sunderland until Saturday 4 February and then on tour around the UK

A new play about Taylor Swift, Instagram and having no money at Theatre N16 this March

a new play about Taylor Swift, Instagram and having no money

February 28th – March 11th 2017, Theatre N16

Swifties is a bold new adaptation of Jean Genet’s play The Maids, exploring the alienating and destructive effect that poverty, celebrity fetishism and social media can have on the lives of normal people. Swifties is written by Tom Stenton and directed by Luke Davies (The Chemsex Monologues, The HIV Monologues).

***** “Luke Davies ensures the emotional intensity hits with pinpoint accuracy” Ian Foster on The HIV Monologues

Yasmin and Nina work in an Amazon “fulfilment centre”. They live in Luton, the birthplace of Britain First. And they are Taylor Swift’s biggest fans. Ever. Their ultimate dream is to be a part of Tay Tay’s famous ‘girl squad’. But the closer they get to realising that dream, the blurrier the line between fantasy and reality becomes.

“Luke Davies’ direction is unobtrusive and fluid” Live Theatre UK on The HIV Monologues

Swifties stars Isabella Niloufar and Tanya Cubric. Isabella has just been announced as the lead in Salome, directed by Yaël Farber, playing at the National Theatre through May-July 2017. Tanya recently starred in the Sky Atlantic adaptation of The Tunnel (2016).

***** “Energetic direction from Luke Davies ensures that we always feel at the heart of the action” Gay Times on Superficial

Theatre N16 is a trailblazing theatre company, dedicated to creating a creative hub where new and existing works can be explored and pushed into new realms. Theatre N16 is proud of their commitment to the welfare of creatives, operating under an Equity Fringe Agreement. This promoting and nurturing of talent means that Theatre N16 is a bastion for development within the context of a society in which the arts are increasingly struggling to stay afloat.

‘Vera Lynn’ in Leeds



As forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn announces her new LP, due out just before her 100th Birthday in March, so City Varieties announces an award winning tribute show Sincerely Yours: The Vera Lynn Story is to play the same month.


The show is at City Varieties Music Hall for one performance only on Friday 24th March at 2.30pm; just four days after the Dame turns 100 and a week after the new LP is released.


Yorkshire’s own Lorrie Brown has been performing her Vera Lynn tribute for over 20 years and in 2013 was honoured for her achievement by the Agents Association and named UK No.1 Vera Lynn Tribute.   When Dame Vera heard of Lorrie’s award, she invited Lorrie to meet her at her home.

It was both a dream and terrifying,” says Lorrie. “I have been performing the songs of this great lady for over 20 years;  I have performed in football stadiums to 33,000 people and sung in some of the country’s finest theatres but this was the most nervous I have ever been. In the end she was a perfect host.”

As soon as I entered the room she gave me a hug and congratulated me on my award. She was just so happy that I was keeping her music alive. We sat and talked for 3hrs about her time entertaining the troops and especially about her time in Burma – she had a very strong connection with the troops there and she was so proud to have been allowed to go out and entertain them.”

The show starts with a tribute to the dance bands that launched Vera’s career and follows her life through WW2 and beyond.  Along with songs and a live band in the show Lorrie talks about the work Dame Vera Lynn did and how she became the forces sweetheart and there is a personal filmed message from the Dame herself.

Sincerely Yours: The Vera Lynn Story is supported by another wartime favourite and leading tribute act ‘George Formby’


It is at City Varieties Music Hall on Friday 24th March at 2.30pm


Ticket are priced at £16.75 with concessions available


Book online at or call Box Office on 0113 243 08 08