The Idle Women | Limehouse Press Night | UK Canal Tour | 24th April 2017

Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways

Saturday 15th April – Saturday 5th August 2017

Press Night: Monday 24th April, 7.30pm – The Cruising Association,

1 Northey Street, Limehouse Basin, London E14 8BT

2017 marks the 75th anniversary of The Idle Women – the nickname for the women who manned the working boats during WWII. Now, 21st century ‘Idle Women’ – former Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie and writer/performer Kate Saffin – will be recreating their journey, from London to Birmingham and back to London via the Coventry coal fields.

This double bill tells the stories of the young women who took on the challenge to manage a pair of boats and 50 tons of cargo. Isobel’s War is a solo play written and performed by Kate Saffin based on the experiences of the wartime trainees. Isobel doesn’t think that rolling bandages and serving tea in the leafy suburbs of Oxford counts as proper war work, then she spots an advertisement and encounters a world she didn’t know existed. Idle Women and Judies is written and performed by Heather Wastie – it started as an audio piece (commissioned by the Canal & River Trust) based on the wartime memories of three women. Wastie has now added a collection of short poems and songs celebrating the work and adventures of the women.

By the beginning of WWII, the inland waterways were in decline. However, the war brought a brief renaissance as boats were a more economical means of moving war materials and supplies. But, whilst there were plenty of boats, there weren’t enough good crews. The Women’s Training Scheme taught young women the basics of boating over two three-week round trips (London-Birmingham-Coventry-London). These women then did their best to replace the men who had been called up. On completion of their training they received their national service badge imprinted with the letters IW – Inland Waterways. After the war they were nicknamed the Idle Women and they have been known as such ever since.

Kate Saffin comments, The stories, or at least the existence, of the trainees are known to many boaters and waterway enthusiasts but few beyond the towpath know they even existed never mind what they did. We are recreating this journey to celebrate their achievements, recognise their contribution to the war effort and explore their relationships with the indigenous boaters. We think it’s important to make this journey with these local stories so that we can share the history that is on the audience’s doorstep – or at least the nearest bit of towpath or the pub.

Accompanied by an historic narrowboat ‘Tench’ crewed entirely by women, Wastie and Saffin will tour our canals this summer, stopping to perform this inspiring double bill at waterside pubs, village halls, gardens, an historic pumphouse and even a community wood.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

La Cage aux Folles Review

Leeds Grand Theatre.  21 – 25 March 2017

Rarely do you see a show so fabulous that you have no idea where to start with your review, but the opening night of La Cage Aux Folles, in Leeds Grand Theatre last night, was one of those rare treats.

Bill Kenwright’s inspired revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s musical, starring Adrian Zmed as Georges and John Partridge his lover Albin is completely over the top opulence and glamour and it’s glorious.

Set in St. Tropez on the French Riviera at a small club run by Georges who invites his audiences to “Open their eyes” and witness the notorious Les Cagelles. This is no ordinary kickline and La Cage aux Folles is no ordinary nightclub. The Cagelles are beautiful  men dressed as beautiful women.

The star attraction at La Cage is Abin’s alter-ego Zsa Zsa.  Albin and Georges have been in a relationship for many years and have raised Georges’ son Jean-Michel (Dougie Carter) from birth. The result of a one night stand with Chorus Girl Sybil. Jean-Michel is engaged to Anne Dindon (Alexandra Robinson) whose father M. Dindon (Paul F. Monaghan) is the head of a political party that wants to close down all gay nightclubs. When Anne’s parents want to meet Jean Michel’s parents before giving the couple permission to wed, things get chaotic.  Jean- Michel wants his mother Sybil to be there even though he was raised by Albin. He feels Albin’s flamboyant style and personality will not bode well with Anne’s parents. Thus begins the charade of making Albin more masculine in the person of Uncle Al, making the house over the club more “presentable” and even cleaning up the over the top maid Francis’ ( Jon de Ville who has the longest legs ever) act. With Mde Jacqueline (showbiz legend Marti Webb) saving the day. This set up and what happens after is one of the many reasons this show succeeds.

The chief glory of this show, however, is Partridge’s rhinestoned Albin. Strutting his stuff in bespangled frocks and marabou feathers, doing passing impressions of Piaf and Dietrich. He conveys the genuine shock discovering he is to be excluded from the impending marriage. He takes on the role of drag queen extraordinaire – interacting with the audience in an almost a pantomime way, shooting withering glances and put downs at unsuspecting audience members and ad-libbing beautifully for added delight.  But the brilliance of Partridge’s performance is in the heartbreaking rendition of I am What I am.  The pain and hurt is captured beautifully in one emotionally raw song and it totally deserved the standing ovation at the end of the first act.

Adrain Zmed as George dominates the stage and furnishes his role with at least some sense of fun.  Zmed’s acting is quite wonderful throughout and his “Look Over There” in Act 2 is another favorite song in the show

At its heart, La Cage aux Folles,  is a fairy tale, a sweet, corny story that asks us to take people (the good-hearted ones, anyway) at their own valuation.  Try to see it their way, the show suggests; squint hard, and life will appear, for a second, beautiful. The old-fashioned, feel-good musical (which it most definitely is) has always demanded such leaps of faith from its audience. Martin Connors direction coaxes a parallel between the willful make-believe happening onstage and our willingness to subscribe to it. The show’s very plot, we come to realize, is the triumph of musical-theater logic over reality.

With a stunning set and wonderful costumes by Gary McCann, marvellous choreography by Bill Deamer and Kylie Anne Cruikshanks, this show is a divine campfest – for there can never be too much glitter, feathers and sparkle.

In Leeds until Saturday 25 March and on tour around the UK – this is a show not to be missed – and I for one can not wait to see this show again and again



An American In Paris Review

Dominion Theatre booking until 30 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

The Gershwins’ gorgeous music has finally found its perfect accompaniment in this show. The choreography, design and performances work together to weave an intricate and visually stunning musical.

Inspired by Vincente Minnelli’s film, director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has dug deeper into the dark aftermath of the German occupation of Paris, and Craig Lucas’s book makes the characters much more 3 dimensional and their motivation more authentic.

Ex GI Jerry Mulligan, an aspiring artist, decides to stay in Paris rather than return home and meets fellow American Adam Hochberg, struggling to complete his concerto, and Henri, from a wealthy and respected French family, who dreams of becoming a jazz singer in the States. The men all fall in love with the same woman, Lise, who must choose between true love and obligation.

The storyline is sweet and simple, but the undertones of lingering suspicion and guilt in post-war Paris bubble up in every conversation, providing extra bite. The opening sequence sees celebrations, food shortages, revenge against collaborators, and Jerry stalking Lise through the streets of Paris – which should be creepy, but is absolutely fine, because he dances like a dream.

All memories of Gene Kelly are dispelled when Robert Fairchild takes the stage – strong, lithe, and with a twinkle in his eyes as well as his toes, Fairchild’s dynamic performance is stunning. On behalf of all the middle-aged women in the audience, I would like to thank him for simply existing. His partnership with Leanne Cope as Lise is exquisite. Their first clandestine meeting on a bench on the bank of the Seine features the most artistic manspreading you’ll ever encounter. Each of their dances are hypnotically beautiful and take your breath away. The smiles on their faces as they leave the stage after they finally, passionately, kiss are full of mischief and delight, bringing audible sighs from the audience.

Wheeldon’s choreography matches Gershwin’s music with its lyrical sweeping themes, and the climatic first night ballet performance is truly a celebration of hope and love. The design, with wonderful projections by 59 Productions Ltd and a lush colour palette in Natasha Katz’s lighting, combines with the dance to create the illusion that we are watching a work of art come to life. This is full sensory overload, and it is paradise, truly celebrating the city of light.

With classics like ‘S Wonderful, But Not For Me and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, the cast and orchestra must be having the time of their lives. On the final note of the brilliantly staged I Got Rhythm, my friend turned to tell me that this one number alone was worth the ticket price.

David Seadon-Young as Adam and Haydn Oakley as Henri are wonderful foils for Fairchild, and the trio’s lovelorn numbers about Lise are staged and performed beautifully. My only gripe is that Adam and Henri’s duet I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise doesn’t go full Fosse enough. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing – but not quite OTT enough for me. Jane Asher and Zoe Raynor also give fine performances as the other women in the trio’s lives dishing out one-liners with class.

An American In Paris is composed of layer upon layer of gorgeousness, breathtakingly glamourous and beautiful, charming and nostalgic. Sheer perfection. If you only see one show this year – make it this.

The Full Monty Review

REVIEW: THE FULL MONTY (Sunderland Empire) ★★★★★

March 21, 2017 

For: West End Wilma

The Full Monty Sunderland
The Full Monty arrives in Sunderland this week, rude crude and ridiculously funny, but you can leave your hat on!

In a packed to the rafters theatre, on springlike Monday evening, there was an air of expectation in the predominantly female audience. The oestrogen overloaded ladies weren’t all young either, there was a large number of women who wouldn’t see 60 again and a few who’d not see 70 either!

The 1997 film The Full Monty, about six Sheffield steelworkers who decide to try and make a bit of cash by putting on a strip show and became something of a sensation. Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy has adapted his hit film into a stage show, more a play with music, dancing and, of course, stripping. It is poignant at times, touches on some serious issues and is absolutely hilarious most of the time.

Set in the late 1980s, it tells the story of a group of skilled men laid off from a Sheffield steel mill who aim to raise some much needed cash by mounting a one-off strip show, and is delivered with dry humour and an infectiously upbeat finish.

Two of the men, Gaz (Gary Lucy) and Dave (Kai Owen), are best friends. Gaz hasn’t quite grown up yet and fails at responsibility, even though he has a 12-year-old son, Nathan and an ex-wife, Mandy (Charlotte Powell), demanding he pay his child support or risk joint custody.

Those who were there for more than to admire a soap star body or two were also treated to some cracking acting performances, it would be very easy to write Gary Lucy off as just another soap actor but you’d be a fool to do so. Aside from a dodgy Sheffield accent (I was brought up near Sheffield and I’m a purist) he did pull off the part quite well. He gave depth to the part of an unemployed, part-time dad, desperate to see son Nathan, but too skint to pay the child maintenance.

With four boys sharing the part – James Burton, Monty Poole, Reiss Ward and Felix Yates – Nathan is a loveable character. It wasn’t a cutesy child part by any stretch of the imagination, with the character having to cope with the breakup of his parents marriage, his father’s unemployment and the ongoing court procedures, but he had faith and love for his father and it’s a touching father and son relationship.

There is superb work from the others too – from Kai Owens as the obese Dave whose self-image because of his weight, and lack of a job, is so bad it’s hurting his relationship with his loving wife, Jean (Fiona Skinner). And a delightfully oddball performance from Anthony Lewis as the gay and initially suicidal Lomper. The scene in the job club is a joy, where Lomper is happy to be there as he never saw anyone when he was a security guard but now he has friends, warmth, dominoes and tea.

Comical Horse (Louis Emerick) has the audience in stitches as he arrives for his dance audition supported by a walking stick and struggling with a dodgy hip! Pompous gnome-loving Gerald (played by Andrew Dunn) is desperate to hide his redundancy from wife Linda. Each has their own back stories, or in Chris Fountain’s portrayal of Guy’s case, an impressive front story in his well-stocked briefs.

Special mention Pauline Fleming, playing multiple characters, but her role of Bee who whips down her knickers, baring her backside to all as she pee’s up against the Club wall sets the tone for the entire play.

The Full Monty touches on some serious issues – unemployment, depression, poverty, body image and homosexuality to name a few – but as well as being touching it is also very funny. Beaufoy’s play has warmth of characterisation and camaraderie that the men find in each other, and keeps lot of jokes from the original film. It has the added pleasure of a cast who make it enjoyably fresh, but there’s not an Adonis amongst them.

Robert Jones’ set is huge and magnificent, working well as a disused steelworks, job club, Conservative club and the stage where the action finally takes place and the Ian West’s choreography is also fabulous. The soundtrack that includes songs by Donna Summer, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones is familiar and you know what to expect.

And do they go the Full Monty? Only a trip to Sunderland Empire before Saturday 25 March will answer that question!

Rapunzel at the Gordon Craig Theatre

Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage is exciting to announce that Rapunzel a brand new professional musical is returning back in July 2017!

Rapunzel – is a brand new professional musical, with Book, Music & Lyrics written by Dennis, Lomax & Williams – this production is practically sold out with over two months to go before it opens!

Based on the Brothers Grimm classic fairy tale and featuring brand new toe-tapping songs this UK Premier is set to return to The Gordon Craig Theatre stage in July for another seven shows before heading out on a UK Tour.

This is the second musical for Dennis, Lomax & Williams after creating last year’s successful adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.


Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair…”

Come and let your hair down at the Gordon Craig Theatre this Easter with a host of lively characters in our brand new musical, Rapunzel.

Sophia is desperate for a baby of her own. Her husband Karl cannot bear to see her upset any longer and realising their lonely neighbour is their last chance he begs for Gothel’s help. Gothel offers Karl a magic herb from her garden, but the price is high! Sophia and Karl will get the baby they long for but on Rapunzel’s sixteenth birthday she must be returned to Gothel.

Years later, trapped in a Tower, Rapunzel has grown into a beautiful and clever young woman but will she ever get out of the Tower and return home? Longing for adventure and freedom and with only Viktor, the crow, for company how will Rapunzel ever escape? Can Prince Freddie save the day or will Rapunzel never make it home?

Thursday 13th April to Monday 17th April

Standard Tickets: £20 | Family Ticket: £65.00

Thursday 27th July to Sunday 30th July

Early bird tickets (until 13th April)

Standard Tickets: £18 | Family Ticket: £57.00

Tickets after the 13th April

Standard Tickets: £20 | Family Ticket: £65.00 Box office: 01438 363 200 /

The Bread & Roses Theatre announces its Spring Season 2017

The Bread & Roses Theatre announces its Spring Season 2017

 April – June 2017 –

68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ Clapham, London


The Bread & Roses Theatre is ready for an exciting springtime!

Following 5 star reviewed productions of ‘Miss Julie’ in 2015 and ‘Low Level Panic’ in 2016, this year The Bread & Roses Theatre is putting on a revival of dirty butterfly (25th April to 13th May, Tue-Sat), the debut play of Olivier-Award-winning playwright and BAFTA-Award-winning screenwriter debbie tucker green, directed by Artistic Director Tessa Hart. Painting a harrowing image of domestic violence in an intimate, yet so distant environment, dirty butterfly confronts the audience with themes of voyeurism, power and guilt through lives that interlock but never connect.

Stones Theatre Co. also return this season with a revival of Philip Ridley’s recent hit play Radiant Vermin (14th to 17th June). A darkly humourous play that asks the question: just how far you would go to get on the property ladder? Another returning company are SISATA who present their touring success show Shakespeare’s Othello adapted & directed by Charmaine K Parkin (22nd to 24th June), in a fast-paced telling of jealousy, love and ambition, four actors play multiple roles in this masterful debate on the human condition.

The season also features a line-up of exciting new writing and opportunities to discover brand new work:

·         Yes! Because… by Flloyd Kennedy [with William Shakespeare] (4th to 8th April), a solo show of cabaret, clown and classical theatre all rolled into one, which has toured the UK and Australia;

·         Teaching a dillo to cross the road by David Moberg (11th to 15th April), which throws us into a world of volatile uncertainty, sex, violence, alcohol, death and unspoken tragedy;

·         Cream Tea and Incest by Benjamin Alborough (20th to 22nd April), a knockabout farce that blends the traditions of comedy theatre with the anarchy of live comedy in a unique, energetic style;

·         Metamorphoses (15th to 20th May, except 17th), London’s first ever festival of visual & physical theatre inspired by Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’;

·         The Anomaly written & directed by Martin T Hart (23rd to 27th May), an astounding Telepathy Magic Show with ‘WOW-Factor’;

·         A Curse of Saints written & directed by Polis Loizou (30th May to 3rd June), a chilling tale set in 19th century Cyprus, where a shepherd – who since the arrival of the British, come to colonise his motherland, has been having visions of crooked saints and nightmares of the evil eye – reveals his own suspicions on a boy’s death.

·         The Investigation by Peter Weiss (6th to 10th June), a dramatic re-construction of the Frankfurt war crime trials which dealt with the atrocities committed at the concentration camps of WWII such as Auschwitz.

Short running events include in-house cabaret and burlesque night The Roses Cabaret (20th April), improvisational theatre show Clowns Are Not Funny (7th May), Eddie Farmer’s The Magic Show (14th May), in-house new writing scratch night The Platform (11th to 13th June), and two-handed, multi-rolling farcical extravaganza Going Awol (20th & 21st June), set in 1966, a tale of 2 women who accidentally on purpose murder their boss and go on a wild and wonderful adventure around Europe disposing of his limbs.

Opportunities for theatre-makers this season include our usual Playwrights Circle, (22nd May) and Networking Event (5th June), as well as a Clown Actor Workshop with Flloyd Kennedy (5th April).

For details on all listings and more head to Phone: 020 8050 3025

The Woman in Black Review

Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – 20th March 2017.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

The Woman in Black as we know, is a book,play and film and before watching I had surprisingly not read the book nor seen the film. I was going into this with a clear head no preconceptions. My thoughts afterwards are that I would without a shadow of doubt return to watch again and again. The book obviously came first written by Susan Hill and first published in 1983. It was adapted by Stephen Mallatrait into a stage play and is currently into its 27th year on the West End at the Fortune Theatre. Its currently being Directed by Robin Herford and I can tell you from the many interesting interviews and facts included in the programme that the cast changes every 9 months, this should help to give the play an infusion of freshness and prevent it from statementing.

The current cast of only 2 were excellent throughout and took us the audience along for the ride, according to my sister she was on the edge of her seat. Yes we screamed, yes we laughed but it should be expected. We the watching audience bonded over each nervous inhale, each sigh of relief. The standing ovation at the end was fully deserved.

As with all plays I’ve had the pleasure of watching at The Lowry, the stage is laid bare there was no curtain covering what was to come. Immediately you feel part of the drama before a single word has been uttered. The phone ringtone is blasted out across the loud speakers and a gentle hush ensues, time to turn phones off we are warned any illumination may affect the lighting effects and enjoyment of others. Quite right too. Suddenly a man appears on stage he looks like an insurance salesman dressed in jacket and trousers, he could be from 10 years ago or one hundred. He’s addressing us the audience yet he doesn’t acknowledge us, quietly spoken almost inaudible. He is reading from a notebook in a very mono-toned manner. Then equally as suddenly a voice from the back of the Lyric Theatre booms through. We have now been introduced to our 2 characters.

Arthur Kipps played by David Acton and The Actor played by Mathew Spencer, both parts were acted to perfection. I felt I was watching true craftsmen at work. The stage is basically a play within a play, the key is to allow your imagination to run riot which isn’t hard.

As much as we are watching storytellers at work, I felt somewhat like I was back in school during drama lessons where we would be instructed by our our teacher,especially during the pony and trap discussion using an old theatre basket and rocking. I immediately felt an affinity to Arthur Kipps, a small nervous man but with a quiet determination to tell his story.

The building tension was there for all to see, the woman in black is she seen by all the characters? Is she an actress we have yet to be introduced to? My imagination was vividly seeing all sorts of possibilities. The use of lighting (Kevin Sleep) was excellent and encouraged me to relax and also wonder what was happening off stage, what is still to come. By the time the story had gotten into full swing, I must confess I had totally forgotten I was watching The actor delivering Arthur Kipps dialogue but he had become Arthur Kipps who in-turn was interchanging as every other character. David Acton was a true master at work seeing his instant transformation from meek and mild Arthur Kipps, meaning a change in gait and accent were all totally and convincingly believable. The sound effects (Gareth Owen) help the audience as equally as the lighting does, the brilliance of this play is its simplicity. How it toys with the audience, encouraging us to see things that aren’t there. With this play Theatre rules over Hollywood with a power we have forgotten. Films show us things the Director wishes, the actors deliver their characters to their own interpretations. This play gives a little more than a book, it sets the scene but then adds to your senses and you fill in the blanks yourself. You don’t feel silly laughing as the humour is real, nor do you wonder were you the only one to jump as I can testify the number of sighs that were probably occurring alongside beating hearts was definitely more than just mine.

I can say honestly I look forward to seeing this play again. You should see it and witness the emotion for yourself, I guarantee you will enjoy the dramatics and be left wanting to see more.

Shirley Valentine Review

Richmond Theatre 20 – 25 March, national tour to September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

If you’re looking for a night of belly laughs and life-affirming joy, Shirley Valentine is the show for you.

Glen Walford’s revival of Willy Russell’s one woman play gives Jodie Prenger the chance to show her full acting chops, and reminds us how brilliantly Russell writes female characters. Watching a middle-aged woman talk to her kitchen wall may not sound like entertainment, but Shirley draws you quickly into her world, and you won’t want to leave.

Trapped in a dull routine in a stale marriage, Shirley always thought she’d leave Joe after their children had grown up, but has nowhere to go. Instead she soldiers on, making sure his meals are on the table when he comes home, drinking wine and wondering what happened to the girl she used to be, Shirley Valentine. When her only friend buys her a holiday Greece, Shirley is excited and terrified, knowing that she can’t go, but dreaming of sitting at the water’s edge. After an incident with a plate of chips and egg, her mind is made up. When she gets to Greece, she finds a new confidante, a rock, has a holiday fling and decides to change her life.

The 1980’s kitchen set of the first act and Prenger’s frumpy costumes (her travelling outfit is brilliant – reminding you of the days when your mother used to put on her best to go into town) make way for a dreamlike beach, softly lit, and Prenger looks about 10 years younger. That’s what a decent holiday can do for you.

Russell’s fantastically funny and emotional script is delivered gutsily by Prenger. Her broad physical comedy skills are perfect for Shirley’s imaginary confrontations with Joe, and her imitations of neighbours and family are a hoot. Prenger exudes warmth and charm, making Shirley familiar and instantly recognisable. As Shirley talks about her children (I had forgotten all about that hysterical nativity play story!) and her early life with Joe, her love for her family shines through, but also her frustration with their dependence and taking her for granted. Prenger’s quiet moments as Shirley sits and despairs at her life are lovely to watch, all followed by a visible pulling herself together as Shirley herself says, she’s nothing special, but Shirley Valentine still has the power to inspire and enchant. There were outbursts of spontaneous applause as she made brave decisions and when she announced that Christopher Columbus had made his voyage of discovery, the theatre erupted. What makes this special though, is that Shirley doesn’t blame her husband. He gets a lot of stick, but this isn’t a man-bashing diatribe. The acknowledgement that he is as lost as her, and her gentle hope for the future as she waits in the sunset for him, ends the show on an emotional high that carries you out of the theatre smiling (and craving chips and egg).

A wonderful feel-good revival of a brilliant play – get a ticket while you can.

Network of Independent Critics return to Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Network of Independent Critics return to Edinburgh Fringe 2017

•    Providing accommodation for independent critics to cover Edinburgh Festival Fringe without breaking the bank.
•    Enabling increased media coverage of niche interest and emerging work, which struggles to find representation in the mainstream press.
•    Not a publishing platform, but a support system for established and developing critics who work independently for little or no pay.
•    Participants will be selected based on passion, knowledge and a proven track record within their chosen area of the performing arts industry.Applications open today for participants to join the Network of Independent Critics for their second season at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, from 4th-28th August 2017.

A city centre apartment will become home to up to 24 selected arts commentators over the course of the Fringe, allowing for networking and social opportunities as well as a cost-effective base from which to cover the Festival. Each participant will focus on a specialised selection of the Fringe programme, which could range from puppetry to solo performance, new musicals to street busking.

Last year, over 400 reviews were produced by 19 participating critics, as well as additional Social Media content and reportage. These represented interests including LGBTQ work, children’s theatre and female-led performance. The NIC scheme was launched in 2016 by Laura Kressly and Katharine Kavanagh to support the work of independent critics and facilitate their continued practise, and to generate visibility for arts that regularly slip below the radar of the mainstream press.

‘By ‘independent’, we mean mean someone who produces arts criticism unsalaried, and maintains their own platform for doing so – although they needn’t be producing content for this outlet exclusively,’ explains Kavanagh, who runs the UK’s only publication dedicated to circus critique at, and also writes for The Stage and Exeunt. ‘We’re keen to open up the Festival to those working primarily in online media, which means those who produce video and podcast reports, as well as those who run their own blogs and websites for written reviews.’

Whilst this coverage is an increasingly valuable resource for the arts industry, the work remains largely unpaid and the cost of visiting Edinburgh during Fringe season can be prohibitive. By joining forces to rent an apartment as a group, the costs are considerably lowered, and participants can seek their own funding to cover the remainder if they wish. Following feedback from last year’s scheme, a choice of shared or private rooms is being offered, catering for different budgets and preferences.

Application forms are available from [email protected] until the deadline of 9th April, and successful applicants will be notified by 17th April after an anonymised selection process. The NIC will also be running free, open networking events as part of the Fringe Central programme, continuing their mission to seek out, disseminate and create opportunities for independent critics.

Rent @ York Theatre Royal



Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 April 2017


Robert Mackintosh and Idili Theatricals Limited, in association with Theatr Clwyd, 20th Anniversary production of Jonathan Larson’s ground-breaking Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical RENT will play at York Theatre Royal this April.

The new production will be directed by Bruce Guthrie and stars Lucie Jones, who was recently chosen to represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Lucie was a finalist on The X Factor in 2009 and recently starred as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Curve, Leicester). Her other theatre credits include Molly Jenson on tour in Ghost the Musical, Victoria in American Psycho at The Almeida, Meatloaf in the International Tour of We Will Rock You and Cosette in Les Miserables at Queens Theatre, London’s West End and O2 Arena. Lucie also toured the UK in The X Factor Arena Tour.

The cast of RENT also includes: Layton Williams as Angel Schunard; Billy Cullum as Mark Cohen; Ross Hunter as Roger Davis; Ryan O’Gorman as Tom Collins; Javar La’trial Parker as Benjamin Coffin III; Philippa Stefani as Mimi Marquez and Shanay Holmes as Joanne Jefferson, with Jenny O’Leary, Katie Bradley, Joshua Dever, Kevin Yates, Bobbie Little, Christina Modestou, Jordan Laviniere, Harrison Clark and Oliver Bingham.

Jonathan Larson’s musical, inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, won four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996. Ben Brantley’s New York Times review was a love letter to the show, calling RENT an “exhilarating, landmark rock opera”. RENT ran on Broadway for 12 years, from 1996 to 2008. The show premiered in London’s West End in 1998 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where it ran for 18 months. It was adapted into a film in 2005.

Larson’s world is inhabited by a group of bohemian artists who struggle to maintain their friendships and their non-conformist ideals in New York’s East Village. Facing their problems head on, they make personal self-discoveries and find what really matters most in life. The poignancy of the story was heightened when Jonathan Larson died of an aortic dissection on 25 January 1996, the night before the show’s first off-Broadway performance at New York Theatre Workshop.

The much-loved score features songs such as Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me, One Song Glory, La Vie Bohème, Without You, I’ll Cover You, Out Tonight, I Should Tell You and the title song.

Director Bruce Guthrie said:

I am delighted to be working with a truly world-class creative team on this new production of Jonathan Larson’s classic musical. Our aim is to serve the fans of the show who have loved it so passionately since its ground-breaking premiere Off Broadway in 1996, while introducing it to a new generation of musical theatre fans. We want to capture the essence of bohemian New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It’s a place of grime and excitement, where voices are fighting to be heard and the inhabitants are fighting to connect with one another, as well as fighting for their lives. The musical is a celebration of life and living in the moment. It’s blood and bone, sweat and tears, laughter and joy, despair, hate and love, all in this one remarkable year shared by a group of friends. It is a privilege to be working on one of the great ‘moment’ musicals and to celebrate 20 years of RENT.”

The new production of RENT will have choreography by Lee Proud, set design by Olivier Award-winner Anna Fleischle and costume design by Loren Elstein, with lighting design by Olivier and Tony Award-winner Rick Fisher, sound design by Olivier Award-winner Mike Walker, video design by Andrzej Goulding, musical direction by Phil Cornwell and casting by Will Burton Casting.

RENT has Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson, musical arrangements by Steve Skinner, original concept and additional lyrics by Billy Aronson, music supervision and additional arrangements by Tim Weil, and the dramaturg is Lynn Thomson. RENT was originally produced in New York by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Alan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop.

RENT is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd.

Tickets for RENT are on sale now priced £32 – £12 (£1.50 transaction fee per booking) from the York Theatre Royal box office in person, by phone on 01904 623568 or securely online at