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Abigail's Party - Richmond Theatre and on tour

The cast of Abigail's Party. Photo by Nobby Clark.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THEATRE Royal Bath Productions’ 40th anniversary production of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party, starring Amanda Abbington and directed by Sarah Esdaile, will visit Richmond Theatre from April 24 to April 29, 2017 as part of a UK tour.

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington plays Beverly, with Ben Caplan as Laurence, Rose Keegan as Susan, Charlotte Mills as Angela and Ciarán Owens as Tony.

The drinks party from hell begins when Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence invite round new neighbours, Tony and Ange, along with nervous divorcee Sue, jittery about the bash her teenage daughter, Abigail, is throwing up the road. As that party gets out of hand, this one too descends into chaos.

Amanda Abbington is best known for her television work, with recent roles including ‘Mary Morstan’ in Sherlock, ‘Miss Mardle’ in Mr Selfridge and ‘DS Jo Moffat’ in Cuffs.

Ben Caplan most recently starred in Hedda Gabler (Salisbury Playhouse) and as Eddie Kassner in Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre). He is also known for his role as PC Peter Noakes in BBC’s Call The Midwife.

Rose Keegan’s stage credits include Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce (Aldwych Theatre) and The Revengers’ Comedies (Strand Theatre), Cunegonde in Candide and Peterchen in Sugardollies (Gate Theatre).

Charlotte Mills played Tanya in the original production of Jerusalem at the Royal Court, then at the Apollo Theatre West End and The Music Box Theatre on Broadway. Her other recent credits include The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare’s Globe and The Winter’s Tale at the RSC.

Ciarán Owens’ theatre work includes Candide, Titus Andronicus and Mad World My Masters for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Oh! What A Lovely War (Theatre Royal Stratford East).

Sarah Esdaile directed Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads for Theatre Royal Bath’s 2015 Summer Season. She was Associate Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse where productions included The Deep Blue Sea starring Maxine Peake, Death of a Salesman with Philip Jackson and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The tour plays at Norwich Theatre Royal until April 1 before continuing to Oxford, Cambridge, Malvern and Richmond.

Production images.

Acclaimed Othello comes to Wilton's Music Hall

Othello touring flyer from Dee McCourt (Borkowski Arts)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a critically-acclaimed run at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatres, Shakespeare’s Othello transfers to Wilton’s Music Hall, where it runs from May 16 to June 3, 2017.

A masterful depiction of a life torn apart by racism and the destructive nature of prejudice, this modern retelling takes the timeless tale of love, jealousy and injustice and reimagines it in the present day.

The tale of a Muslim general employed by a western colonial power to lead their army against Turkish invasion, this tragic play sees Othello face the difficulties of assimilating into a society riven by discrimination, fear and mistrust.

Manipulated by Iago and his whispered mistruths, this begins to take its toll and his life quickly unravels as he turns on all he holds dear as paranoia and delusion take over.

The cast includes two outstanding RADA graduates, Abraham Popoola as Othello and Norah Lopez Holden as Desdemona, Mark Lockyer as Iago and Katy Stephens as Emilia.

They are joined by Ghazwan Alsafadi (as Montano), Christopher Bianchi (Duke/Gratiano), Alan Coveney (Brabantio), Piers Hampton (Cassio), Hayat Kamille (Bianca), Brian Lonsdale (Roderigo) and John Sandeman (Lodovico), with Joel Macey, Zachary Powell and Kenton Thomas as Senators and Soldiers.

Othello is directed by Richard Twyman, who said: “Othello is one of Shakespeare’s plays that speaks most directly to our world today. This production interrogates one of the burning tensions of our age, the fear of the ‘other’ and the perception that their identity may threaten our own.”

Presented by Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and English Touring Theatre, Othello is designed by Georgia Lowe, with lighting by Matthew Graham, costume supervision by Jane Tooze, movement direction by Renaud Wiser and fight direction by John Sandeman. Composer and sound designer is Giles Thomas and assistant director is Floriana Dezou.

Tickets: £12.50 – £25. To book, call the box office on 020 7702 2789 or visit wiltons.org.uk/.

Times: 7:30pm and 2:30pm.

The Almeida's Hamlet transfers to the West End

Hamlet_Andrew Scott photographed by Miles Aldridge

Theatre news

FOLLOWING a critically acclaimed, sell out run at the Almeida Theatre, Robert Icke’s ground-breaking production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring BAFTA award-winner Andrew Scott, is transferring to the West End – to the Harold Pinter Theatre where it will run for a limited season from June 15 (previews from June 9) to September 2, 2017.

Rupert Goold, Artistic Director, Almeida Theatre said: “We’re delighted that with this transfer more people will be able to experience our production of Hamlet. Robert, Andrew, and the entire Hamlet company have created an unforgettable Shakespeare which we’re looking forward to sharing even more widely over the summer in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions and ATG.”

Robert Icke, Director (and Almeida Theatre Associate Director) said: “It has been such a thrill to work with Andrew and the extraordinary company of Hamlet on this play so far, and I’m delighted we’re going to continue our work on this play in the West End this summer.

“I’m also extremely proud to be working with the Almeida and our producers, ATG and Sonia Friedman, to be able to present this play in a way that genuinely throws the doors open to a bigger range of audience members. In an increasingly expensive industry, I can’t tell you how brilliant it is for them to commit to having 300 tickets priced at under £30 at every single show.”

And on playing Hamlet Andrew Scott said: “I’m so thrilled and honoured to be playing this extraordinary role with these brilliant actors in Rob’s stunning production. We have been overwhelmed with the reaction to our interpretation of Hamlet and I’m so happy that we can share it with a larger audience. This is a play full of heart, compassion and humanity. I’m so happy that we are able to offer 300 tickets for under £30 to every performance in the West End run to allow everybody a chance to see the play.”

As well as Andrew Scott, the confirmed cast for the West End transfer includes Marty Cruickshank (Player Queen), Jessica Brown Findlay (Ophelia), Calum Finlay (Rosencrantz), Joshua Higgott (Horatio), Daniel Rabin (Reynaldo), David Rintoul (Ghost/Player King), Juliet Stevenson (Gertrude), Luke Thompson (Laertes), Peter Wight (Polonius), Angus Wright (Claudius) and Matthew Wynn (Bernardo/Player 3/Priest). Further cast will be announced in due course.

Hamlet is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group, Sonia Friedman Productions and the Almeida Theatre.

Hamlet continues at the Almeida Theatre until April 15, 2017.

Read more about Hamlet.

Image: Andrew Scott photographed by Miles Aldridge.

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Imogen Poots and Luke Treadaway, continues at the Harold Pinter Theatre until May 27, 2017.

Aladdin - cast changes announced ahead of first anniversary

Jade Ewen (Jasmine) and Matthew Croke (Aladdin). Photo by Matt Crockett. © Disney.

Casting news

DISNEY Theatrical Productions have announced that Matthew Croke will star in the title role of Aladdin as the new musical based on the classic Academy Award®-winning animated film approaches its first birthday in the West End.

Croke’s first performance will be on June 5, 2017.

Jade Ewen will continue in the role of Jasmine and Trevor Dion Nicholas, who made his London stage debut as Genie, remains in the role.

The role marks Matthew Croke’s debut in a leading role in the West End. Originally from Sheffield, he has previously starred in Annie Get Your Gun and A Chorus Line (Crucible Theatre), Singin’ in the Rain (UK Tour), Funny Girl (Menier Chocolate Factory), Shall We Dance (Sadler’s Wells) and West Side Story (UK and Ireland tour).

Croke has also performed and understudied the roles of Amos Hart and Mary Sunshine in Chicago (Cambridge Theatre), Eugene in Grease (Piccadilly Theatre), Don in Singin’ in the Rain (Palace Theatre) and Fiyero in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre).

Nick Cavaliere will join the company to play the role of Iago, whilst current cast members Miles Barrow, Leon Craig and Daniel de Bourg will step into the roles of Omar, Babkak and Kassim respectively. Don Gallagher and Irvine Iqbal will continue in their respective roles of Jafar and the Sultan.

Other new cast members include Chanelle Anthony, Danny Becker, Cindy Belliot, Filippo Coffano, Nolan Edwards, Sinead Kenny, Travis Kerry, Dann Kharsa, Tarisha Rommick, Joshua Steel, Monica Swayne and Niko Wirachman.

Travis Kerry and Niko Wirachman both join the production after entering international open auditions.

The remaining cast comprises Arran Anzani-Jones, Albey Brookes, Lauren Chia, Bianca Cordice, Cavin Cornwall, Melanie Elizabeth, Kade Ferraiolo, Antony Hewitt, Mitch Leow, Oliver Lidert, Ian Oswald, Kyle Seeley, Sadie-Jean Shirley, Ricardo Spriggs, Kayleigh Thadani and Jermaine Woods.

Adapted for the stage from the 1992 Disney film, Aladdin tells the story of a young street urchin who frees a genie from a lamp and finds his wishes granted. However, he soon discovers that the evil Jafar has other plans for the lamp – and for Princess Jasmine. But can Aladdin save Princess Jasmine and his love for her after she sees that he isn’t quite what he appears to be?

Aladdin is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) and designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Natasha Katz, costumes by Gregg Barnes, sound by Ken Travis and illusions by Jim Steinmeyer.

Aladdin is booking at the Prince Edward Theatre until September 30, 2017 for individuals and until February 10, 2018 for groups.

A limited number of tickets are available via an online lottery. The lottery opens at 11am on Mondays and closes at 11am on Tuesdays. Entrants can select up to three performances for the following week and are eligible to win up to 2 tickets (priced at £25 each) per draw. Entrants can choose to enter for a pair of tickets or a single seat. To enter the Aladdin ticket lottery click here.

Read more about Aladdin l Production images.

NB: There will be an Autism Friendly Performance of Aladdin on August 29, 2017 (1.30pm).

Image: Jade Ewen (Jasmine) and Matthew Croke (Aladdin). Photo by Matt Crockett. © Disney.

Love in Idleness transfers to the Apollo Theatre

Theatre news

TREVOR Nunn’s production of Terence Rattigan’s comedy Love in Idleness, which is currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory, is transferring to the Apollo Theatre for 50 performances only – from May 11 to July 1, 2017.

Love in Idleness finds eighteen-year-old Michael returning from Canada after a four-year absence during the war. Full of youthful ideology and leftist leanings, he is shocked to find that his widowed mother Olivia is now the mistress of cabinet minister Sir John Fletcher and enjoying a comfortable society life.

When Michael and John clash, sparks fly and relationships are tested as everyone learns some difficult lessons in love.

The cast includes Eve Best, Anthony Head, Helen George, Vivienne Rochester, Edward Bluemel and Nicola Sloane. With the exception of Helen George, who has pre-existing film commitments, they will reprise their roles in the West End.

Tickets for the West End run go on sale to the public from 9am on March 29.

Read more about Love in Idleness.

The Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, starring Tom Hollander as Henry Carr, continues at the Apollo Theatre until April 29, 2017.

All Our Children - casting announced

Casting news

FULL casting has been announced for Stephen Unwin’s All Our Children. A gripping new play that probes one of the darkest episodes in recent history, it runs at Jermyn Street Theatre from May 2 (previews from April 26) to June 3, 2017.

The line up includes Edward Franklin (Doctor Thorne, Shakespeare in Love, Hay Fever) as Eric, Rebecca Johnson (The Trip Series 1,2,3, The Carrier, Casualty) as Martha, Lucy Speed (Jamie Johnson, Cradle To Grave, National Treasure) as Elisabetta, Colin Tierney (The Odyssey, The Father) as Victor and David Yelland (The Winter’s Tale, Taken at Midnight, Henry IV) as Bishop Von Galen.

January 1941. Snow is falling. A terrible crime is taking place in a clinic for disabled children. The perpetrators argue that it will help struggling parents and lift the financial burden on the mighty German state.

One brave voice is raised in objection. But will the Doctor listen?

An astonishing and chilling story of courage, betrayal and humanity, Unwin unfolds a rich dramatic narrative, and explores cultural, moral and social arguments which still rage today.

Stephen Unwin said: “All Our Children comes from a deep place. I am the father of a profoundly disabled young man, but also the son of a German-Jewish refugee and was brought up as Catholic. The story of the conservative Bishop von Galen’s campaign against euthanasia and murder fascinated and moved me. And I was shocked by the pseudo science and rationality that the Nazis offered in defence.

“How do we value those who are not productive; how do we support those who can’t support themselves; how do we protect the most vulnerable? The challenges that the disabled face today are, thankfully, a long way from the horrors of Nazi Germany, but some of the philosophical and social questions that it raises are fiercely relevant today.”

Read more about All Our Children.

tick, tick… BOOM! - Park Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FULL casting has been announced for tick, tick… BOOM!

The autobiographical rock musical detailing the journey that led to Jonathan Larson’s big break and Broadway blockbuster Rent, it runs at Park Theatre from May 3 to May 27, 2017.

Chris Jenkins returns to Park Theatre in the role of Jon, following his appearance in 2016’s quadruple Offie Award-nominated musical The Burnt Part Boys in PARK90.

Gillian Saker (BBC Two’s Ripper Street) performs the role of Jon’s girlfriend Susan, with Jordan Shaw (Motown The Musical, Shaftesbury Theatre) playing the part of Michael, Jon’s childhood friend.

Susan wants to get married, move out of the city, and away from the life of impoverished artistry. Michael is making big money on Madison Avenue, yet Jon is still waiting on tables and trying to write the great American musical.

Set in 1990, this compelling story of personal discovery embraces the ideal of holding onto your dreams through life’s most difficult challenges.

Containing fourteen songs, ten characters, three actors and a band, tick, tick… BOOM! is directed by Bronagh Lagan, whose directing credits include: Promises, Promises (Southwark Playhouse), Rags – The Musical (Lyric Theatre), A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg (Greenwich Theatre), Expectations (Arcola Theatre), Blood Wedding (Courtyard Theatre) and Henry VI Part 1 (Rose Theatre).

Chris Jenkins

Produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment and Joe C. Brown, tick, tick… BOOM! has musical direction by Gareth Bretherton, set and costume design by Nik Corrall and lighting design by Ben Rogers.

Tickets: £14.50 Previews; £18 Full; £16.50 Concessions. To book, call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.45pm; Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3.15pm.

Running time: 90 minutes without interval.

Relaxed performance: Tuesday, May 23 at 3.15pm, £10. Essential companion goes free.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead extends run

Theatre news

DUE to popular demand, The Old Vic has announced that Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead has extended its run by one week until Saturday, May 6, 2017. Tickets are on sale now – either in person at the box office, by calling 0844 871 7628 or by visiting www.oldvictheatre.com/.

There will also be two Voices Off events in connection with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

On Tuesday, May 2 at 5pm, Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire will be in conversation on stage. Tickets: £6.

And on April 29 at 11.30am, The Old Vic will host The School of Life: How to Face Death, a workshop on death and how we might think about this complex topic without experiencing it for ourselves. Tickets: £8.

Public booking for Voices Off opens on Monday, April 3, 2017.

As previously announced Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead will also be broadcast live from The Old Vic to cinemas around the UK on April 20, 2017 as part of NT Live.

Read more about Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing - rehearsal images released

Much Ado @ Rah Petherbridge Photography

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IMAGES have been released of the cast rehearsing Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing. To view them, click here.

Previously Posted: Magnificent Bastard Productions is presenting Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing at Leicester Square Theatre – from April 11 to September 16, 2017.

Much Ado About Nothing is possibly Shakespeare’s most well loved romantic comedy, filled with mistaken identities, petty arguments and put-downs, and the course of love not running smoothly (not least of all because friends keep interfering).

Sounds like a Friday night in any British boozer. But what if Hero decides she really would rather marry the chap in the second row, or if Benedick can’t stand up?

Each performance has a cast of seven actors, who all arrive four hours before the start of the show for a ‘party’ – however this party is dry for all but one performer, who gets Shit-faced. The rest is a balancing act between the (trimmed down to an hour) Shakespeare script and improv rules, which state you must go with WHATEVER the drunk actor decides to do.

Every single show is a one-off. Every single performance has a different drunk actor. Every single time they are genuinely inebriated.

Formed in 2010 by a group of East15 graduates (largely), Magnificent Bastard Productions were just friends who loved creating unexpected and unpredictable theatre at music festivals such as Secret Garden Party. Shit-faced now performs across the UK and USA in Boston, Atlanta, Austin and Minnesota. They sell-out at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringes annually, and in 2015 expanded into Shit-faced Showtime, a p***ed-up hour of harmonious Broadway showtunes.

This summer they return to the Leicester Square theatre for five months, their longest stint yet, with the London premier of Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing.

Stacey Norris directs a cast that includes Beth-Louise Priestley, Jack Bence, James Murfitt, John Mitton, Louise Lee, Rob Smythson, Ruth Williams, Saul Marron, Stacey Norris, Victoria Fitz-Gerald (seven actors perform each night on a rotational basis).

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing is written by William Shakespeare and Lewis Ironside, who said: “It’s a handy outlet for mucking-about, showing-off and practicing the noble art of fancy dress. Unlike other troupes of thespian types we Magnificent Bastards differ in our utter contempt for restraint, orthodoxy, tedium, moderation and sobriety.”

Tickets: £21.50 – £19.50. To book, call the box office on 020 7734 2222 or visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7pm (occasionally 9.30pm – please see website for details).

The Finborough Theatre - April to July 2017

Mr Gillie

Season preview

THE Finborough Theatre’s Spring-Summer Season features six premieres and another Finborough rediscovery from Scottish dramatist James Bridie, with the first London production since 1950 of Mr Gillie.

Already well known for presenting Canadian work in the UK, the Finborough celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday with the UK premiere of Late Company; a rediscovery of Footprints On the Moon by Maureen Hunter; and a late night cabaret of the songs of Cree-Canadian Tomson Highway in Songs in the Key of Cree.

Other premieres include Everything Between Us which won playwright David Ireland the Stewart Parker Trust Award, BBC Radio Drama Award and the Meyer Whitworth Award for Best New Play; Jam, the world premiere of a first full length play from new writer Matt Parvin; and the acclaimed new Australian play Food by Steve Rodgers.

As part of the Finborough Theatre’s celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday, the season opens with the European premiere of Late Company by Jordan Tannahill, which plays for a four week season from April 25 to May 20. It runs concurrently with the English premiere of David Ireland’s Everything Between Us, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between April 30 and May 16.

The world premiere of a first play by new playwright, Jam by Matt Parvin, plays from May 23 to June 17, alongside the rediscovery of Footprints On the Moon by Maureen Hunter, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between May 28 and June 13. Multi-award-winning Cree-Canadian writer, composer and musician Tomson Highway appears in a one-off late night performance of his music – Songs in the Key of Cree – on Saturday, May 6.

The season ends with the first production outside Australia of Food by acclaimed Australian playwright Steve Rodgers, playing for a four week limited season from June 20 to July 15, running alongside the first London production in over 60 years of James Bridie’s Mr Gillie on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between June 25 and July 11.

In other news, My Eyes Went Dark which received its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre in 2015 will transfer Off-Broadway this summer, while Neil McPherson’s It Is Easy To Be Dead – presented at the Finborough Theatre in June 2016 prior to its transfer to Trafalgar Studios – has been nominated for an Olivier Award.

Also at the Finborough: the first professional London production in over 50 years of Arthur Miller’s Incident At Vichy (March 28 to April 22) and the 150th anniversary production of T. W. Robertson’s 1867 comedy Caste, starring Paul Bradley and Susan Penhaligon (April 2 to April 18, 2017).

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.