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Ellie Bamber - the young actress who plays Dinah Lord in High Society

Ellie Bamber

Theatre feature

ELLIE Bamber is a young versatile actress with exciting projects on the horizon. She is currently in rehearsals for the role of Dinah Lord in Maria Friedman’s production of High Society, which runs at The Old Vic from May 14 (previews from April 30) to August 22, 2015.

in High Society, Bamber will perform alongside Kate Fleetwood, Barbara Flynn, Jamie Parker, Annabel Scholey and Rupert Young.

Last year, Bamber filmed a key role in Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.

In the film, she plays the role of Lydia Bennet opposite a stellar cast of British talent including Lily James (as Elizabeth Bennet), Matt Smith (Mr Collins), Douglas Booth (Mr Bingley), Sam Riley (Mr Darcy) and Suki Waterhouse (Kitty Bennet).

In this highly anticipated quirky adaption of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England comes a new challenge – an army of undead zombies. The film’s release is scheduled for the start of 2016.

Bamber’s other film credits include Carol Morley’s The Falling, which premiered at last year’s London Film Festival and will be released in spring this year. She has also appeared on television in The Musketeers (as Martine) and Ed Bazalgette’s A Mother’s Son.

Bamber has previously appeared on stage playing Young Jenny in Trevor Nunn’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Open Air Theatre - casting announced

Alex Gaumond and Robert Lindsay in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical.

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2015 productions of Peter Pan, The Seagull and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Playing the title role in JM Barrie’s original stage play of Peter Pan (May 15 to June 14) will be Hiran Abeysekera (Behind the Beautiful Forevers), with David Birrell (Ragtime) as Captain Hook, Beverly Rudd as Smee and George Bukhari as Nibs.

Joining them will be Kae Alexander (as Wendy), Patrick Osborne (John), Thomas Dennis (Michael), Rachel Donovan (Tinker Bell), Eben Figueiredo (Tootles), Thomas Pickles (Slighty) and Richard James-Neale (Curly).

Completing the company will be Jacob James Beswick and Chris Lew Kum Hoi (Twins), Carl Prekopp (Gentleman Starkey), Okorie Chukwu, Owain Gwynn, Jonathan Holby and Arthur Kyeyune (Pirates), Melanie Pappenheim, Daniel Bradley, Candida Caldicot, Zands Duggan and Tamara Young (Musicians) and Joe Swain (Show Climber).

Peter Pan is co-directed by Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel, who create a Never Land where danger stalks dreams and adventure breeds mischief.

Peter Pan is followed – from June 19 to July 11 – by Torben Betts’ new version of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Directed by Matthew Dunster, it will star Olivier Award winner Janie Dee as Irina Arkadina.

Dee has previously starred in the Open Air Theatre’s productions of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. She is well known for her work in musical theatre, which has ranged from Nicholas Hytner’s celebrated production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel at the National Theatre (which earned her an Olivier Award) to Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel with David Soul and her highly praised Dolly Levi in the Leicester Curve production of Herman’s Hello Dolly.

Joining her in The Seagull will be Sabrina Bartlett (Poldark) as Nina and Matthew Tennyson (Making Noise Quietly) as Konstantin.

The third production – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (July 16 to August 29) – will star Alex Gaumond as Adam and Laura Pitt-Pulford as Milly.

Alex Gaumond’s theatre credits include Freddy Benson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre); Agatha Trunchbull in the RSC’s Matilda (Cambridge Theatre); Alberto Beddini in Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre); Galileo in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre and original UK tour), for which he received a WhatsOnStage Award nomination for Best Takeover in a Role); and Emmett Forrest opposite Sheridan Smith’s Elle in Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre), for which he received nominations for both an Olivier and WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

Laura Pitt-Pulford recent theatre credits include Marry Me A Little (St James Studio), The Light Princess (National Theatre), A Man of No Importance (Salisbury Playhouse), Piaf and Hello Dolly (Leicester Curve Theatre) and Mack & Mabel and Parade (Southwark Playhouse).

Director Rachel Kavanaugh reunites the creative team behind 2013’s award-winning production of The Sound of Music, including designer Peter McKintosh, choreographer Alistair David and musical supervisor Gareth Valentine.

The season concludes with the return of Timothy Sheader’s 2011 critically acclaimed production of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Adapted by Nigel Williams, it runs from September 3 to September 12, prior to a major UK tour. Casting is still to be announced.

Read more about the 2015 Season.

Jerry’s Girls transfers to Jermyn Street Theatre

Ria Jones in Jerry's Girls at St. James Studio. Photo credit: Darren Bell.

FOLLOWING a sell-out run at St. James Studio last month, musical revue Jerry’s Girls will transfer to Jermyn Street Theatre for a limited three week run – from Tuesday, May 12 to Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Featuring songs from classic musicals including Hello Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry’s Girls brings together an all-female cast to celebrate Jerry Herman’s special gift for writing songs that capture the true spirit of the great American musical, honouring the legacy of the multi Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist of some of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time.

As well as Hello Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, Herman’s other Broadway shows include Dear World, Mack & Mabel and The Grand Tour. His numerous awards and honours includes multiple Tony, Grammy, Olivier and Drama Desk Awards, the Johnny Mercer Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Oscar Hammerstein Award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame.

Herman also has the distinction of being the only composer-lyricist in history to have three musicals run for more than 1,500 performances on Broadway.

Emma Barton will join the cast, alongside Ria Jones and Sarah-Louise Young who both return to the production.

Although Emma Barton is best known on television for playing the role of Honey Mitchell for three years in EastEnders, she has also appeared on the small screen in You, Me & Them, Spooks, Doctors and Secret History. Her theatre credits include Dolly in One Man, Two Guvnors (UK Tour), Roxie Hart in Chicago (Cambridge Theatre), Marty in Grease (Victoria Palace Theatre), Over the Moon (The Old Vic), Anyone Can Whistle (Savoy Theatre) and Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Jerry’s Girls is directed by Kate Golledge and choreographed by Matthew Cole. The musical director is Edward Court. It is presented by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment and Guy James, the team behind the 2014 London premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little at the St. James Studio, which played a sold out run in August before returning in October due to popular demand.

Tickets: £22, £18 concessions, £17 Thursday matinees. Earlybird Offer – all tickets £17 if booked before April 15. To book, call the box office on 020 7287 2875 or visit www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.30pm. Additional matinees on Thursday, May 21 and Thursday, May 28 at 3.30pm.

Read more about Jerry’s Girls.

The Heart of Things continues at Jermyn Street Theatre until April 4, 2015.

The Black Cat Cabaret: Nocturne - London Wonderground

The Black Cat Cabaret: Nocturne

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING their sell out run of 2014, The Black Cat Cabaret’s latest production, Nocturne, runs at the Southbank Centre’s London Wonderground from May 15 to September 11, 2015.

It stars the sensational soprano Lili La Scala as an unsleeping queen of the night who guides the audience on a supernatural voyage through a shadowy dream landscape. Along the way there are encounters with showgirl sirens, otherworldly acrobats, shady troubadour tricksters and many other glorious late night eccentrics.

Drawing inspiration from Freudian dream archetypes, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and a fin de siècle mood of giddy abandonment, the story of Nocturne is infused with an original score interspersed with rediscovered musical gems spanning multiple eras and genres.

The show features exclusive cabaret, circus and dance acts from a company of internationally acclaimed performers – including aerial daredevil and star of La Soirée Bret Pfister; breathtaking hand-to-hand acrobatic duo Nathan and Isis; fire performer, contortionist and aerialist Katrina Lilwall; comic, actress and singer Abi Collins; and the stunning dance trio Cabaret Rouge.

The musical director is Michael Roulston and the director is Secret Cinema and Donmar Warehouse director and National Theatre magical consultant Simon Evans.

With a pedigree unrivalled on the international scene, The Black Cat Cabaret draws together exceptional performers from the worlds of cabaret, burlesque, circus and variety – to create high-end theatrical experiences as diverse as they are decadent. The company won the prestigious “Best Production” prize at London Cabaret Awards 2014 and was shortlisted as “Best Ongoing Production” for 2015.

Inspired by dark and daring Parisian cabaret culture, yet ground-breaking in format, BCC events combine the sophisticated and the unexpected, the classic and the contemporary.

Tickets: £19 – £25.50. To book, visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk/.

Dates: May 15 and 29; June 19 and 26; July 3, 17, 24 and 31; August 7 and 14; and September 11.

Time: 9.30pm.

London Wonderground, Southbank Centre, London, SE1 8XX

Cuddles - Oval House Theatre and on tour

Cuddles

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A NEW York run and UK Spring tour has been announced for award-winning playwright Joseph Wilde’s vampire tale Cuddles. Exploring self identity and confronting the effects of consumerism on society, it will visit the Oval House Theatre from May 6 to May 16, 2015.

Cuddles, from the creative team that presented The Sluts of Sutton Drive, was created in the wake of the London riots and is a damning look at how society teaches us that what we consume dictates our identity.

Described as a sharp and bleakly funny exploration of the co-dependent relationship between sisters Tabby and Eve, Cuddles is also a consideration of the ways in which our parenting choices directly shape the world of tomorrow and is re-staged amidst a rise in food banks, personal debt, the cost of living and continued austerity measures.

Teenage vampire Eve has never known what sunlight is. Everything the 13-year-old knows about the world is derived from what her sister Tabby has told her. She has never left her darkened room and has just one living, breathing human to cuddle.

She lives in a world crammed with story book characters. In Eve’s world Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins and the cast of Dante’s Inferno are real; where princes with adjectives instead of names seduce beautiful princesses against the odds.

Eve does everything a good little vampire girl should, including drinking her (human) sister’s blood. But one day, Tabby tires of opening her veins and, in a breath, Eve’s whole world changes.

Cuddles is directed by Rebecca Atkinson Lord, who said:

“Joe is one of the most exciting voices writing for theatre right now; he’s not afraid of writing big, morally complex ideas into his plays. That’s what I love about Cuddles. It’s feminist and anti-capitalist, grappling with important stuff around the power structures that shape us and our society… and as well as all that it’s a brilliant, captivating and emotional roller coaster of a story. He manages to make me believe in the impossible and right now, that feels like a valuable skill to have.”

Playwright Joseph Wilde said: “For me, what’s most unusual about the play is stylistic approach. There’s not much else on stage that seems to be combining supernatural horror, fairytales, dark comedy, and naturalistic domestic drama. It’s a play about love, sex and control and the only man in it is invisible and silent.”

Expanding on the contemporary relevance of the work, Wilde said: “At its heart, Cuddles is about how the need for control necessarily ends in abuse. I think it has a place in the recent debate on self-identity, particularly for women; about how we define ourselves according to the standards of others – the externalised attitudes of our culture – and that the self-image formed from that is hard to eradicate. I think there’s an undeniable power in watching two women, whose identities have formed in response to abuse, trapped alone on stage and trying to negotiate a whole new way of living and seeing themselves.”

Cuddles was Wilde’s debut play when it opened in 2013. His plays since then include: The Pier (Oxford Playhouse/Marlowe Theatre), The Van Dyck Vanishments (Marine Studios/Milo Wladek Co) and Kaleidoscope (Ovalhouse Young Company). His radio plays include: Wildsong and The Loving Ballad of Captain Bateman which won the Imison Award 2014 (both BBC Radio 4). He also writes regularly for BBC Television.

Carla Langley reprises the role of Eve, for which she received a 2013 Off-West End Award for Best Female Performance when Cuddles was first seen at the Oval House Theatre. Her other theatre credits include Liolà (National Theatre, directed by Richard Eyre), Minotaur (Theatre Clwyd), Desolate Heaven (Theatre503), As You Like It (Sam Wanamaker Festival, Shakespeare’s Globe) and The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol (Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

And Rendah Heywood reprises the role of Tabby. Her other theatre credits include Hettie in The Kitchen directed by Bijan Sheibani, Belle/Ensemble in Rocket to the Moon directed by Angus Jackson, Tsvetaeva in Philistines directed by Howard Davies, Girl in The Rose Tattoo directed by Steven Pimlott/Nicholas Hytner and Understudy (Therese) in Therese Raquin directed by Marianne Elliott – all at the National Theatre.

Presented by Arch 468, Cuddles is designed by James Turner, with lighting by Pablo Baz and sound by Edward Lewis.

Tickets: £10, £6 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7582 7680 or online at www.ovalhouse.com/.

Time: 7.30pm.

Running Time: Approximately 80 minutes (no interval).

Oval House Theatre’s Spring Season continues until June 6.

The tour will also visit Birmingham, Brighton, Manchester and Plymouth. Following the national tour, Cuddles will be presented for a month in June as part of New York’s Brits off Broadway festival.

Swedish rock opera RichardRocks premieres in London

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RICHARD III, England’s last Plantagenet king, will be brought vividly back to life later this year with the world premiere in London of a major new Swedish rock opera, RichardRocks.

Featuring cutting edge lighting, sound design, video and computer animation, RichardRocks will run for a five-week season (October 3 to November 7, 2015) in the 770-seat Great Hall of The People’s Palace, a superb Art Deco theatre in the East End.

RichardRocks, with 35 original songs and a cast of 28, has been inspired not only by Shakespeare’s Richard III but also by Al Pacino’s 1996 film, Looking for Richard.

Produced by Viper Island Production in collaboration with London-based producer and promoter, From Sweden Productions, RichardRocks has music by Peter Robsahm, and book and lyrics by Maria Robsahm. The production is directed by Staffan Aspegren and choreographed by Helena Hvistendahl Philipson.

Swedish musical theatre star Fred Johanson will play Richard III, although the rest of the roles will be cast in London.

“Don’t expect this Richard to be a hunchback with a bad haircut,” warns writer Maria Robsahm. “Our Richard is a manipulative Machiavellian prince – a modern psychopath. Externally he is charismatic, handsome and witty. It’s inside – morally and psychologically – that he’s distorted. He knows how to get what he wants, whatever the cost. He sees the people around him either as a means to an end or as obstacles to be removed.”

Composer Peter Robsahm added: “The story of Richard III has often been reduced to a one-man-show portraying evil. And no doubt the question of evil is very interesting. But how does it feel to be a boy of 13 suddenly becoming king? And how does it feel to be a mother and realise your son has done horrible things? I was also interested in the people around Richard.

RichardRocks is something out of the ordinary – both artistically and technologically. The show’s music combines heavy rock with beautiful harmonies of a more classical cut. The flavours in my music range from German metal band Rammstein, Deep Purple, the Kinks and Eminem to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Elgar.”

Fred Johanson has starred in several major musicals in both his native Sweden and London’s West End. He played Peron in Evita, Javert in Les Miserables, Max in Sunset Boulevard, Old Deuteronomy in Cats, Reverend Shaw in Footloose, The Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Louis B. Meyer in Garbo and Frollo in Notre Dame de Paris. He also played Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar, both on stage and in the British-made film version in 2000 that went on to win an Emmy Award.

Fred Johanson

As a soloist, Johanson has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Berwaldhallen Concert Hall and the Stockholm Concert Hall. He has released two solo albums and reached number 1 on the Australian charts with the group Scandal’us, achieving double platinum status. He has also written songs for ABBA’s Annifrid Lyngstad.

As a member of his own rock band, Robb & Friends, from 1978 to 1984, Peter Robsham wrote and staged Childhood Gardens, a multi-media themed concert combining dance, art and poetry. In 1993-4, he went on to write and star (as Quasimodo) in his first musical, Notre Dame, which was staged in the Swedish cities of Skövde and Jönköping. From 1997 to 1999, he was a member of the Swedish National Theatre’s regional board and has also been active as a concert promoter and as a reporter for the music magazine Showtime.

Robsham was originally inspired to create a rock opera based on Shakespeare’s play Richard III when he saw Al Pacino’s film Looking for Richard in 1997. RichardRocks germinated over a number of years and its completion coincided with the discovery of the remains of the real King Richard III in Leicester in 2012.

An award-winning journalist and author, Maria Robsahm spent a number of years as a respected news reporter and news anchor for the Swedish national broadcasting companies TV4 and SVT. She was also on the editorial team of Dagens Nyheter, the leading daily newspaper in Sweden, and a writer for the monthly magazine Moderna Tider, receiving the Great Journalist Award (Stora Journalistpriset) in 1996.

She has written two books and also made several acclaimed documentaries for Swedish TV, including a trilogy about the 1994 sinking of the cruise ferry Estonia. From 2004 to 2009, she was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). RichardRocks marks her debut as a lyricist.

Staffan Aspegren is one of Scandinavia’s leading directors of musicals and opera. In 1994, he directed the inaugural performance at the Göteborg Opera House, which was broadcast live on Swedish National Television, and his subsequent productions at the house have included Madama Butterfly, Macbeth, Die Fledermaus, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, A Chorus Line and Kiss Me Kate.

He has worked at every opera house in Sweden and at a number of others around the world, directing Sweeney Todd at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, La traviata at the Danish Øresund Opera, West Side Story at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome and Dvořák’s Rusalka and Massenet’s Werther at Cape Town Opera in South Africa. Among the many theatrical productions he has directed are Tosca, Chess, Cats, Aspects of Love, Eugene Onegin, The Snow Queen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Amadeus and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Helena Hvistendahl Philipson has choreographed numerous musicals including Oliver!, Fame, The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Snow White, Robin the Robber’s Daughter, Pippi Longstocking, When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town, Peter Pan and Cinderella – and the operetta The Czardas Princess.

Performances: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday at 5pm; Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

For more information or to book tickets, visit www.richardrocks.com/.

The People’s Palace, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

Barbican (The Pit) - October to December 2015

Season preview

THE Barbican has announced the full October to December 2015 theatre and dance programme in The Pit.

CASA Latin American Theatre Festival returns with two shows highlighting the artistic ingenuity and political urgency of contemporary Mexican theatre.

The Love of the Fireflies (El amor de las luciérnagas) by Los Guggenheim is a feel-good comedy from one of the country’s most exciting writer-directors Alejandro Ricaño (October 6 and 7), whilst I’ll melt the snow off a volcano with a match (Derriteré con un cerillo la nieve de un volcán) by Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol is a powerful multimedia work of protest (October 9 and 10).

Presented as part of Dance Umbrella is Out of India: Modern Moves, a trilogy of works from three of the country’s most inventive contemporary choreographers: Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, Hemabharathy Palani and Surjit Nongmeikapam (October 21 – 24).

Confirmed for SPILL Festival of Performance is Written in Sand by seminal American performance artist Karen Finley – an elegiac anthology of spoken-word pieces that confronts the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York (October 28 – 31). Further SPILL performances will be announced soon.

Winners of this year’s Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari make bold, intriguing work that is full of visual surprises. In this Barbican co-production two charismatic performers, live sound and video design animate a series of compelling, communal interactions (November 19 – 29).

And returning for Christmas 2015 is Told by an Idiot’s Get Happy. Commissioned by the Barbican, it was a sell-out success in 2013. A Christmas show for everyone aged 4 and over, it’s described as wild, mischievous and a whole load of fun (December 17 – 30).

Read about the Barbican’s International Shakespeare season.

For more information or to book, visit www.barbican.org.uk/.

Applications now open for a third From Page To Stage season of new Musical Theatre

FOLLOWING the success of last year’s From Page To Stage season of new Musical Theatre at the Landor Theatre, Aria Entertainment is inviting applications for a third 2015 season dedicated to showcasing new British musical work in development.

From Page To Stage is dedicated to showcasing new musical work in development to an audience, to garner feedback and create new opportunities for the artistes involved.

The 2015 season at The Tristan Bates Theatre will include:

A new British musical – to headline the season and run for two weeks in a fully staged production.

Showcases – parts of new musicals in development, presented with minimal staging.

Rehearsed readings – three full musicals in development, read from scripts.

Gala Night – a night showcasing some of the best individual songs of musicals from around the world.

Showcases are specifically aimed at writers with pieces in early development whereas the rehearsed readings are for pieces more fully developed with a completed score and book.

Applications for all spaces within the festival are open from now until Monday, June 1, 2015.

Last year, the season included readings of new musicals, Merman’s Apprentice, Claus and The Return Of The Soldier, which went on to have a critically acclaimed run at Jermyn Street Theatre. There were also fully produced productions of Before The Night Is Through and The Mistress Cycle. It was supported by Grant For The Arts.

Producer Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment said today:

“I am absolutely thrilled to confirm that the From Page To Stage season of new Musical Theatre will be back for a third year – and this time in the heart of the West End! Attendance at last year’s event was up from 2013 and we received over 150 new pieces of Musical Theatre to choose from. We are delighted to once again be supporting writers of new Musical Theatre at different stages of their works’ journey, whilst also cultivating new audiences, by allowing them to be part of these new works from the beginning.’

To apply for the 2015 season you must have:

A script which can be emailed.

A fully notated piano/vocal score for either your full show, or the parts you wish to submit.

Sample MP3’s (which do not need to be of high quality).

Also:

Scripts must not have had a full scale production to date.

Scripts must be written and submitted in English.

Must not be juke box musicals.

To apply, please email: submissions@frompage2stage.com with the subject: FROM PAGE TO STAGE 2015.

Please state:

Which bracket of the season you feel your show falls under: a new British musical, a rehearsed reading or a showcase.

Where you reside.

And send:

A synopsis of your musical.

A character list and breakdown.

Three MP3’s from your show.

Three sample scenes from your show.

NB: Due to funding restrictions, casts bigger than eight cannot be accommodated.

For more information visit www.aria-entertainment.com/ or www.frompage2stage.com/.

The 10th Sam Wanamaker Festival took place on Sunday, March 29

Sam Wanamaker Festival. Photo credit: Cesare De Giglio.

Theatre news

ON SUNDAY, March 29, 2015, 38 students from across the UK, plus two students from the USA and two from China, came together at Shakespeare’s Globe and played to a sell-out crowd for the tenth Sam Wanamaker Festival, the largest showcase of young acting talent in the UK.

Two students from twenty top drama schools across the UK presented scenes from Shakespeare and his contemporaries after a weekend of workshops from industry professionals, hosted by Globe Education. This is the first year the Festival has welcomed students from China. The duo, from Shenyang Normal University, performed a scene from Othello in Beijing opera-style.

Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education, commented:

The Sam Wanamaker Festival was created to celebrate the long history of prestigious theatre training in this country – and the talent that comes out of it. This year we welcome actors from the USA and China to share with us their training and interpretations of Shakespeare. It is vital to our practice to learn from our neighbours, both across the River Thames and across the world.”

The Festival reflects the mission of Globe founder Sam Wanamaker, that the Globe should be a training ground for scholars and actors. It has proved to be a springboard for aspiring actors, with previous participants including Gemma Arterton, Andrew Garfield from The Social Network and The Amazing Spiderman, and Michelle Dockery, best known as Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey.

Naeem Hayat, a participant from 2013 is currently performing in Africa in the Globe Theatre’s worldwide tour of Hamlet, starring in the title role.

Photo credit: Cesare De Giglio.

Britain’s Got Bhangra - New Wimbledon Theatre and on tour

Company of Britain's Got Bhangra. Photo credit: David Fisher.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING acclaimed runs in 2010 and 2011, a brand new production of the hit musical Britain’s Got Bhangra will tour the UK this autumn, visiting New Wimbledon Theatre from Monday, September 28 to Saturday, October 3, 2015.

Charting the rise of British Bhangra from the sequin-clad 80s through to the R’n‘B fusion in today’s charts, Britain’s Got Bhangra follows Twinkle, a farmer’s son from Punjab, India, who comes to England to make a better living for himself and his wife.

A gifted singer, Twinkle goes from making a living as a van driver in Southall to becoming a rising star in the fast-growing Bhangra music scene.

Winner of the ‘People’s Favourite Musical’ at the 2010 Offie Awards, this imaginative musical takes a journey though multicultural Britain and the evolution of a music scene.

Britain’s Got Bhangra is written and directed by Pravesh Kumar of award-winning British Asian Theatre Company Rifco Arts. Rifco’s other productions include The Deranged Marriage, Happy Birthday Sunita and Break the Floorboards.

Britain’s Got Bhangra is produced by Sell a Door Theatre Company. Formed in 2007, Sell a Door creates touring productions aimed at engaging young adults in live theatre. Current productions include the UK Tours of Avenue Q, The History Boys and Jekyll and Hyde.

Britain’s Got Bhangra has music and Bhangra direction by Sumeet Chopra. English lyrics are by Dougal Irvine with Punjabi lyrics by Bittu Denowalia. Casting has still to be announced.

Britain’s Got Bhangra was originally co-produced by Rifco Arts and Theatre Royal Stratford East in association with Warwick Arts Centre.

David Hutchinson from Sell a Door Theatre said:

“We are delighted to be opening our autumn season at Manchester Palace Theatre with this critically acclaimed smash hit musical. The writers have created a fantastic celebration of dance and culture within the modern narrative of a talented artist aspiring to fulfil their dreams. In the reality TV age, his story taps into the aspirations of so many, against the colourful backdrop of the British Asian community. We look forward to reaching out to new and returning audiences across the UK with Britain’s Got Bhangra.”

To book tickets for New Wimbledon Theatre, call the box office on 0844 871 7646 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre/

The tour opens at Manchester Palace Theatre on Thursday, September 3, 2015, before continuing to Bristol Hippodrome (September 14 – 19); King’s Theatre, Glasgow (September 21 – 26); New Wimbledon Theatre (September 28 to October 3); Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (October 12 – 17); Theatre Royal, Windsor (October 19 – 24); Watford Colosseum (October 26 – 28); and Bradford Alhambra (October 29 – 31).