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The Extra-Ordinary Cabaret of Dorian Gray at the Pleasance Theatre for Halloween

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a gala performance in the Spiegeltent on London’s South Bank as part of the Underbelly Festival, Ruby In The Dust will be presenting The Extraordinary Cabaret of Dorian Gray at the Pleasance Theatre.

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel, it will play for two nights – Friday, October 27 and Saturday, November 4, 2017 – as part of the Festival of Sex, Love and Death.

On the day of his grandfather’s funeral, Dorian decides that he should no longer be a ‘secret’. Exotic looking, and of uncertain parentage, he has been kept hidden by his grandfather, his mother having died in childbirth. Dorian knows nothing about love, but decides that it is his quest to find it.

While sitting for his portrait by society painter Basil Hallward, Dorian is discovered by the influential Lord Henry and is soon under the spell of this dangerous, charismatic man. Lord Henry starts grooming Dorian for sex, exerting total power over him, thus securing his descent into a totally corrupt world. A world where sex and death share the same bed. And where love dare not speak its name.

When Dorian realises the painting is in fact a portrait of his conscience, he is horrified to see the level of corruption depicted on the canvas and decides to try to reverse time.

But is it too late?

Written and directed by Linnie Reedman with music and lyrics by Joe Evans, the story is set in a fantasy, steam-punk world, and stitched together by the narration of the sinister character of Mr Isaacs, a theatre manager who is out to get revenge on Dorian for the “murder” of his protegé Sybil Vane. The tale unfolds in a series of cabaret sketches, with choreography by Penelope Simons, and design by Belle Mundi.

Oscar Wilde’s story is reinterpreted and made even more relevant in today’s society, delving into the underlying themes of sex trafficking, drug abuse and teenage suicide; real concerns as depicted in current TV shows such as Born to Kill and Three Girls.

The cast includes Lewis Rae (To Kill A Mocking Bird, Theatre Royal York, The Wind in the Willows, Bristol Old Vic, Someone Like You, Novello Theatre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Regents Open Air Theatre and Ruby In The Dust’s Gatsby, Union Theatre); and Joe Cushley, actor and music writer, who regularly contributes to Mojo Magazine and is currently writing the history of Stiff Records.

Also cast are Christine Holman (Bad Girls, Union Theatre, Can’t Buy Me Love, Salisbury Playhouse, Lend Me A Tenor, Queens Theatre, Desperately Seeking Susan, Novello Theatre, Rent (Off Broadway); Jo Ashe (Ruby In The Dust’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, King’s Head Theatre, founding actor/member of “Globe Players”); and Sophie Judd (Cinderella, Richmond Theatre, Rent, Pleasance Theatre).

Further casting will be announced in due course.

This adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s story began its life as a one night gala presentation in London’s Café Royal. Just before it closed its doors for its major refurbishment, the venue was transformed to its heyday glory by taking the story back to its birthplace: staging the show, on Oscar Wilde’s birthday, in the beautiful Domino Room – which was where Wilde would hold initial readings of his works, and dine with his lovers.

The Festival of Sex, Love and Death (running from October 24 to November 4) is a brand new multi-arts festival featuring an innovative and exciting programme of events: opera, cabaret, physical theatre, new writing and spoken word; bringing five events from eight companies, including three double bills, to Islington for ten days this autumn. The festival will form a melting pot of theatre-makers connected by the key forces that drive how we perceive and experience our lives: sex, love and death.

To book tickets, call the box office on 020 7609 1800 or visit www.pleasance.co.uk/.

The Busy World is Hushed - Finborough Theatre

The Busy World is Hushed

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE European premiere of a new play by the acclaimed American playwright Keith Bunin in his UK debut, The Busy World is Hushed, runs at the Finborough Theatre for an eight week limited season – from Friday, October 6 to Saturday, November 25, 2017.

If you take God away, the world is no less horrible.

Hannah, a widowed Minister and Bible scholar, finds her faith at odds with that of her long estranged gay son, Thomas. She has recently hired an inquisitive young writer, Brandt, to assist with her book about a newly discovered manuscript that appears to be a lost gospel, one that may predate those in the Bible itself.

As she notices the chemistry brewing between Brandt and her son, she decides to risk all on an unconventional opportunity for reconciliation that has unexpected consequences for all three of them.

Originally premiered at New York City’s Playwrights Horizons where it was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, The Busy World is Hushed examines – with wisdom, humour and insight – the contradictions we find in our faith, our families and ourselves…

Founding Artistic Director of Theatre503 and 2017 OffWestEnd Award winner, Paul Higgins returns to direct Michael James (as Thomas), Mateo Oxley (Brandt) and Kazia Pelka (Hannah) in The Busy World is Hushed.

Playwright Keith Bunin’s other plays include The Credeaux Canvas, The World Over, 10 Million Miles, Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir, Vera Laughed, The Principality of Sorrows, The King of Clocks and A Joke.

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

The European premiere of new African-American playwright James Anthony Tyler’s Dolphins and Sharks continues at the Finborough Theatre until September 30, 2017.

What Once Was Ours at four London venues and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ZEST Theatre and Half Moon are presenting What Once Was Ours at London’s Half Moon Theatre (October 5 to October 11), Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (October 30), artsdepot (October 31) and Stratford Circus Arts Centre (November 1, 2017) and on tour.

Highlighting the opinions of those too young to vote in the referendum, two of the UK’s leading companies creating work for young people have collaborated on a show based on interviews from over 200 teenagers from four areas of Britain: two that voted Leave and two that voted Remain.

What Once Was Ours has been made in reaction to the extreme polarity of opinions and the readiness to attack those with alternate ones, and is aimed at increasing understanding and conversation between those of differing views.

The show focuses on a half-brother and sister from very different backgrounds and the struggling relationship when one asks for help.

Katie and Callum couldn’t be any more distant and disconnected: different heritage, different cities, different opportunities. Except there is one thing they’ll always have in common: Dad. What happens when Callum suddenly turns up in desperate need of help?

Beautiful imagery, striking original music and immersive design combine to create this powerful new production for young people, which asks why we’ve become so fearful of anyone who is different from us.

Between November 2016 and January 2017, Zest Theatre held extensive workshops in Barnsley, Newcastle/Gateshead, the company’s home county Lincolnshire, and in Tower Hamlets where the Half Moon is located. In each area the company talked to and listened to young people from across the divide to find out their feelings on Brexit, Britishness, politics and society. What Once Was Ours was created based on these conversations, and verbatim quotes from the workshops are used throughout the show.

Barnsley voted by 68% to leave the EU, and Boston, Lincolnshire voted to leave by 76%, the strongest leave vote in the country. Tower Hamlets voted to remain in the EU by 68%, and Newcastle by 51%. Zest Theatre also visited Gateshead, across the river from Newcastle, where the vote was 57% leave.

Toby Ealden, Artistic Director of Zest Theatre and director of What Once Was Ours, said: “The impetus for this new production came the day of the EU referendum result. When the result came in, we spent the day hearing so many of the towns we tour to portrayed in the media as somehow less intelligent, racist and small minded. This portrayal didn’t do these communities justice.”

Chris Elwell, Director of the Half Moon and dramaturg of What Once Was Ours said: “We’re excited to be working with Zest Theatre on this exciting new piece of writing for young people that, importantly, has been driven by the voices, words and attitudes of young people across the UK to Brexit. While their views might not have been united, we hope that What Once Was Ours will allow audiences to witness a whole range of different opinions that will allow them to come together and start a more open dialogue.”

The cast of What Once Was Ours comprises Pippa Beckwith and Jaz Hutchins.

What Once Was Ours is suitable for ages 12+.

What Once Was Ours will also visit Oxford, Bournemouth, Durham, Hartlepool, Sunderland, Banbury, Newcastle, Farnham, Bedford, Sale, Burnley, Barnsley, Louth, Norwich, Grantham, Stamford, Spalding, Lincoln, Doncaster, Bath, Burton upon Trent, Canterbury and Didcot.

Men in Motion at the London Coliseum

Men in Motion. Photography by Nick Knight.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS autumn, Men in Motion, the innovative production and brainchild of former Royal Ballet Principal Ivan Putrov, returns to play two nights at the London Coliseum – on November 22 and 23, 2017.

Award-winning dancers Matthew Ball, Irek Mukhamedov, Daniel Proietto and Edward Watson are among those joining dancer and producer Ivan Putrov in a new production of his thrilling and illuminating exploration of the changing role of the male dancer over the last century.

Men in Motion pays homage to the great dancers and choreographers of the past and showcases some of the most exciting artists at work today.

To the accompaniment of a live orchestra, the evening includes pieces by great choreographers from Michel Fokine to Russell Maliphant. Ivan Putrov dances the role made famous by Nijinsky in Le Spectre de la Rose and Daniel Proietto performs the exquisite Afterlight, a piece inspired by Nijinsky.

Royal Ballet principal, Edward Watson reprises the comic but ultimately poignant Volver, Volver which sees him move from matinee idol to spiderman. Matthew Ball, rising star of The Royal Ballet, makes his London Coliseum debut and the legendary Irek Mukhamedov makes a welcome return to the stage in a new work created for him by Arthur Pita.

Looking ahead to Men in Motion’s return to the London stage, Putrov said: “My interest in the changing role of the man in ballet has taken me on a fascinating journey, re-discovering some ground-breaking pieces of the 20th century, bringing outstanding contemporary works to new audiences and commissioning new ballets from some of today’s finest choreographers.

“The latest version of Men in Motion will feature both familiar pieces and new additions. I look forward to working with the outstanding cast and am absolutely delighted to welcome Irek Mukhamedov who continues to be an inspiration both as a performer and teacher to generations of dancers.”

Irek Mukhamedov, whose performance in English National Ballet’s Broken Wings last year won him a nomination for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) in the National Dance Awards, will perform a new work, specifically created by Arthur Pita.

Mukhamedov said: “Dancing is my life! Being in the studio, passing on what I know to other dancers and, of course, performing, are what make life worthwhile. I am really looking forward to working with Arthur Pita – the challenge of creating something new is always exciting for a dancer, young or old! I love being on stage and am thrilled that Men in Motion will allow me to take on a new journey of artistic discovery.”

Men in Motion is accompanied by a live orchestra under the direction of Richard Bernas.

Image: Men in Motion. Photography by Nick Knight.

Tickets: £25 – £95 (plus booking fee) – available by phone on 020 7845 9300 or online at londoncoliseum.org/whats-on/men-in-motion/.

London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES

King Tut: A Pyramid Panto - King's Head Theatre

King Tut: A Pyramid Panto

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BOUTIQUE panto masters Charles Court Opera return to the King’s Head Theatre for a third year with the world premiere of King Tut – A Pyramid Panto – from Friday, November 24, 2017 to Saturday, January 6, 2018.

A now legendary part of North London’s Christmas, Charles Court Opera’s seasonal pantos are always cheeky, topsy-turvy retellings of myths, legends and fairytales.

Expect both the expected and the unexpected, with fabulous musical numbers that add spark and bite to the slapstick, groan-worthy jokes and off piste silliness, mixed up in an inventive cocktail of magic, love, baking and cross-dressing.

This year, Charles Court Opera head for the Valley of the Kings and sprinkle their madcap magic across a LUXORiously entertaining, jaw-droppingly hilarious show full of bling-tastic pharoahs, sand dancing, mystery, intrigue and lots of fun, plus some incredible musical arrangements that will keep your toes tapping well into the new year. Don’’t be in denial – it’s only a river in Egypt!!!

The cast will include John Savournin, who also directs, as well as some of Charles Court Opera’s regular performers.

King Tut: A Pyramid Panto will have musical direction by David Eaton, costume design by Mia Wallden and lighting design by Nicholas Holdridge.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 0207 226 8561 or visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com/.

Thousands queue for open auditions for 42nd Street

Theatre news

ON MONDAY morning, September 18, 2017, thousands of hopefuls turned out at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for open auditions to join the cast of 42nd Street.

Queues wrapped around the iconic London theatre as the spectacular production was inundated with a new generation of dancers wanting to join the classic Broadway show.

This new production of 42nd Street opened on Tuesday, April 4 in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and to widespread acclaim across the media. The show includes an all-singing, high-kicking cast of over 50 and some of the greatest songs in musical history.

They include We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off To Buffalo, Dames, I Only Have Eyes For You and of course, 42nd Street.

The cast includes Sheena Easton (as Dorothy Brock), making her West End debut alongside Tom Lister (Emmerdale) and Clare Halse (Gypsy) in the iconic roles of Julian Marsh and Peggy Sawyer.

They are joined by Jasna Ivir (as Maggie Jones), Norman Bowman (Pat Denning), Stuart Neal (Billy Lawlor), Graeme Henderson (Andy Lee), Christopher Howell (Bert Barry), Bruce Montague (Abner Dillon), Mark McKerracher (Mac/Doc/Thug) and Emma Caffrey (Annie).

Ensembe members include Clare Rickard, Victoria Hay, Leah Harris, Jasmine Kerr, Millie O’Connell, Katy Riches, Gabrielle Lewis Dodson, Daisy Steere, Karli Vale, Sophie Camble, Christina Shand, Courtney George, Zoe Rogers, Jessica Keable, Sara Bispham, Lisa Dent, Katharine Pearson, Kirsty Fuller, Rebecca Herszenhorn, Charlene Ford, Dylan Mason, Philip Bertioli, Luke George, Ronan Burns, Eddie Myles, Ryan Gover, Sam Murphy, Freddie Clements, Zac Watts, Greg Bernstein, Kristen Gaetz, Charlotte Anne Steen, Gabrielle Cocca, Kate Ivory Jordan, Josh Andrews and Martin McCarthy.

The production is directed by the show’s co-author Mark Bramble, whose other hit shows include Barnum, Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers and The Grand Tour. He has also directed many award-winning productions of 42nd Street on Broadway and around the world.

Read more about 42nd Street.

Production images.

Harriet Thorpe to play Princess Margaret in A Princess Undone

Harriet Thorpe as HRH The Princess Margaret in A Princess Undone. Photo by Roy Tan.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PRIOR to a 2018 London transfer, A Princess Undone starring Harriet Thorpe as HRH The Princess Margaret, will embark on a short UK tour.

Kensington Palace, 1993. She was the Diana of her day. That day has gone. But HRH The Princess Margaret has a final chance to be of service. Acquiring sensational letters from Charles and Diana, she means to burn them all. But there are other papers, relating to Margaret herself. And when an ex-gangster admirer shows up, the Queen’s sister has the choice to make or break her family yet again.

Said to be as dynamic as anything in the current Netflix series The Crown, and yet as human, Richard Stirling’s A Princess Undone is inspired by actual events and sheds light on one of the Royal Family’s most controversial members.

Harriet Thorpe is well known for her appearances on TV in Absolutely Fabulous and The Brittas Empire, the Calendar Girls film and West End musicals, Les Misaerables (Madame Thenardier), Cabaret (Fraulein Kost), Wicked (Madame Morrible) and Mamma Mia! (Tanya).

The cast also features award-winning David Benson as Backstairs Billy, the Queen Mother’s butler; Giles Cooper and Charles Daish as ex-gangster John Bindon.

Produced by Entico Ltd, A Princess Undone is directed by Richard Stirling and designed by Norman Coates, with lighting design by Mike Robertson.

The tour will visit Chelmsford Civic Theatre (Thursday, October 5 to Saturday, October 7); New Theatre Royal Lincoln (Thursday, October 12 to Saturday, October 14); Salisbury Playhouse (Monday, October 16 to Saturday, October 21); and Malvern Theatres (Tuesday, October 31 to Saturday, November 4, 2017).

Image: Harriet Thorpe as HRH The Princess Margaret in A Princess Undone. Photo by Roy Tan.

Dates and venue confirmed for the world premiere of Tina

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

STAGE Entertainment have confirmed that Tina, a new musical based on the life of legendary artist Tina Turner, will open at the Aldwych Theatre in April 2018. Performances will begin on March 21, 2018 with press night on April 17.

Tina is initially booking to June 16, 2018, and tickets will be released for public sale at 10am on September 22, 2017 with priority booking from 10am today (September 15).

Tina Turner said: “I am so excited to be bringing my musical to the West End! London is a place that means so much to me and had such a big impact on my music and my life. Returning now to tell my full story, in the city I love, feels like an important chapter and is truly exciting.”

Written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, Tina will be directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

From humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her transformation into the global Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner didn’t just break the rules, she rewrote them. This new stage musical, presented in association with Tina Turner herself, reveals the untold story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender and race.

With a career that has spanned more than half a century, the legendary rock performer Tina Turner is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. She first rose to fame in the 1960s partnering with her then-husband Ike Turner, achieving great acclaim for their live performances and catalogue of hits. Later, Turner enjoyed an international solo career with her 1984 album Private Dancer earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards, including three Grammys.

She went on to deliver more chart-topping albums and hits, receiving a further eight Grammy Awards and reportedly selling more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history. Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and has often been voted as one of the most successful female Rock ‘n’ Roll artists of all time.

Phyllida Lloyd and Tina Turner at Tina workshop in December 2016. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

Phyllida Lloyd returns to the West End where she has previously directed the world premiere of Mamma Mia!, currently still running in London after 18 years. Her production subsequently opened on Broadway and worldwide becoming a global phenomenon before she directed a film version for Universal Pictures.

More recently she has directed a Shakespeare Trilogy for the Donmar at King’s Cross – Henry IV, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, all of which were also seen in New York where she has previously directed The Taming of the Shrew at the Public Theatre and Josephine and I at Joe’s Pub at The Public, a transfer from The Bush.

Katori Hall is a writer and performer from Memphis, Tennessee. In 2016, her play Children of Killers was performed as part of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival. Her play The Mountaintop premiered at Theatre503 in 2009 before transferring to Trafalgar Studios and winning the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play. Following the West End run, The Mountaintop opened on Broadway in October 2011 starring Samuel L Jackson and Angela Bassett. Hall’s other writing includes the award-winning Hurt Village currently in development for a feature film, Hoodoo Love, Remembrance and Saturday Night/Sunday Morning.

Produced by Stage Entertainment, Joop van den Ende and Tali Pelman, in association with Tina Turner, Tina will have choreography by Anthony van Laast, set and costume design by Mark Thompson, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Bruno Poet, sound by Nevin Steinberg and orchestrations by Ethan Popp. Casting will be announced in due course.

Thompson, van Laast and Skilbeck all collaborated with Lloyd on the world premiere of her production of Mamma Mia!

Official website

Image (bottom): Phyllida Lloyd and Tina Turner at the Tina workshop in December 2016. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

Casting announced for the West End premiere of The Exorcist

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for the West End premiere of The Exorcist. Directed by Sean Mathias and adapted for the stage by John Pielmeier, it will play a strictly limited run at the Phoenix Theatre from October 20, 2017 to March 10, 2018.

The line up includes Jenny Seagrove as Chris MacNeil, Peter Bowles as Father Lankester Merrin, the Exorcist of the title, Adam Garcia as Father Damien Karras, Clare Louise Connolly as Regan, Todd Boyce as Doctor Strong, Mitchell Mullen as Doctor Klein, Elliot Harper as Father Joe and Tristram Wymark as Burke.

Peter Bowles’ West End theatre credits include Hay Fever with Judi Dench (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Archie Rice in John Osborne’s The Entertainer (Shaftesbury Theatre) and several leading roles in classic plays for Sir Peter Hall. He is probably best remembered for playing the role of Richard DeVere in the hit BBC comedy series To The Manor Born as well as leading roles in The Irish RM, The Bounder, Rumpole of the Bailey and Only When I Laugh. He can currently be seen in ITV’s Victoria as the Duke of Wellington.

Jenny Seagrove will be playing the role of Chris, the mother of Regan, who suffers emotional turmoil in the search to find help for her daughter’s ever increasing strange behaviour. Seagrove’s prolific theatre career has seen her play the lead in almost every West End playhouse, with recent credits including Alan Ayckbourn’s How The Other Half Loves (Haymarket), Brief Encounter, Volcano, Tennessee Williams’ Night Of The Iguana, David Rabe’s Hurlyburly and The Country Girl with Martin Shaw. She recently appeared as Louisa Gould in the film Another Mother’s Son but perhaps is best known to TV viewers as QC Jo Mills in ITV’s BAFTA award-winning Judge John Deed.

Adam Garcia, a two-time Olivier Award nominee, was last seen in the West End in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s The Winter’s Tale (Garrick Theatre) and recently starred in the world premiere of Kevin Elyot’s last play Twilight Song (Park Theatre). His musical stage credits include Kiss Me Kate, directed by Trevor Nunn (Chichester/Old Vic); Fiyero in the original London cast of Wicked with Idina Menzel (Apollo Victoria Theatre), Chip in On The Town (London Coliseum) and Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (London Palladium).

Garcia gained international recognition for leading roles in films including Coyote Ugly and Riding in Cars with Boys with Drew Barrymore, and he appears in Kenneth Branagh’s forthcoming film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Widely considered the scariest movie of all time, the film adaptation of The Exorcist sparked unprecedented worldwide controversy when it was released in cinemas in 1973. Winner of two Academy Awards, William Friedkin’s masterpiece saw audiences petrified to the point of passing out and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time.

Read more about The Exorcist.

Kinky Boots celebrates 2nd birthday in the West End

Kinky Boots, 2nd Birthday Curtain Call, Gabby Wallace, RT.

Casting news

ON FRIDAY, September 15, 2017, Kinky Boots celebrated its 2nd birthday in London’s Adelphi Theatre, where it is currently booking until March 24, 2018.

Previously Posted: Cast changes have been announced for Kinky Boots, which has also extended its booking period at the Adelphi Theatre until March 24, 2018.

Taking over the role of Lola from Olivier Award winner Matt Henry will be understudy Simon-Anthony Rhoden; with Emmerdale‘s Verity Rushworth as Lauren and David Hunter (Once, One Man, Two Guvnors) as Charlie Price.

Henry and Elena Sky will play their final performances as Lola and Lauren on July 8.

Also joining the cast will be Jed Berry, Momar Diagne, Lauren Drew, Dale Evans, Jordan Fox, Rosie Glossop, Keith Higham, Ben Jennings, Georgia Louise, Emma Odell, Antony Reed and Tom Scanlon.

With a book by Broadway legend and four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles), and songs by Grammy and Tony Award-winning Cyndi Lauper, this joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.

Kinky Boots has won every major Best Musical award, including three Olivier Awards for Best New Musical, Best Costume Design and Best Actor in a Musical for Matt Henry. The production has also won the London Evening Standard BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical as well as three WhatsOnStage Awards for Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Matt Henry, and Best Choreography.

With direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray), Kinky Boots is also the winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography.