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Tom Stoppard's Arcadia to tour in 2015

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ENGLISH Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions have announced the first major tour of Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece, Arcadia, since the originl production.

The new production, directed by Blanche McIntyre, will open at the Theatre Royal Brighton on January 30, 2015 before touring the UK.

In a stately home in 19th Century rural Derbyshire, secret desires and professional rivalries take hold of the residents of Sidley park as Thomasina, a talented pupil, makes a startling discovery well ahead of her time, whilst in the present day academics Hannah and Bernard attempt to piece together the fragments of truth that tell her story.

Arcadia explores the delicate relationship between past and present, blending history with actuality as the focus drifts from 1809 to now, and back again.

Arcadia, which received its world premiere at the National Theatre in 1993, is often hailed as one of the greatest plays of the last century, winning countless awards including the 1993 Olivier Award and the 1995 Tony Award for Best Play.

Recently, Arcadia was voted one of the nation’s top five plays in English Touring Theatre’s ‘My Favourite Play’ poll, which was conducted to mark the company’s 21st Birthday celebrations.

The production, announced at a special visit by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to the Theatre Royal Brighton, will be one of the first to benefit from the new Theatre Tax Relief. The relief will provide an additional corporation tax deduction, or payable tax credit, worth up to 25% of qualifying expenditure for touring production such as Arcadia.

Tom Stoppard said:

“I’m delighted that a new tour of Arcadia, directed by the young, visionary Blanche McIntrye, is to take place next year reaching audiences across the UK. The current challenges for regional theatre in the UK mean that a production of this scale and quality are very rarely toured. I welcome the news that a new tour of Arcadia is to be one of the very first to take advantage of the new funding incentives for touring live performance which was launched today and has directly helped realise the ambitious vision of this tour.”

And Rachel Tackley, Director of English Touring Theatre, said:

“It is an incredible thrill and honour to tour a new production of this much loved play by Tom Stoppard – the first time its been toured throughout the UK since its original production nearly 20 years ago. The introduction of a theatre tax relief, without which this production simply wouldn’t happen, is an important and significant investment that will see a healthy and positive impact on the national arts community.”

This production will mark a new collaboration between Theatre Royal Brighton Productions (Dandy Dick, Blue Orange), English Touring Theatre (Translations, Ghosts, The Misanthrope) and multi award-winning Blanche McIntyre, hailed by critics as the one of the hottest new directors in the UK, with recent plays including Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare’s Globe, The Seagull (winning best director at the UK Theatre Awards 2013) and English Touring Theatre’s Tonight at 8.30.

Full tour dates and casting have yet to be announced.

To book tickets for the Brighton dates (January 30 to February 7, 2015) call 0844 871 7650 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-brighton/.

Jekyll and Hyde - Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JEKYLL and Hyde, written by Adam Dechanel and based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre from Tuesday, September 30 to Saturday, October 25, 2014.

A young lawyer visiting his Doctor friend at the London College of Tropical Diseases stumbles onto a series of horrifically dismembered corpses and takes it upon himself to hunt the killer.

As more students die and funding to the college is threatened, the race is on to solve the case before it’s too late.

When links between the dead and his friend Henry Jekyll arise, the mystery takes an even more sinister turn. Is Jekyll next on the killer’s list or is there something more horrifying to the mystery?

You may think you know the Robert Louis Stevenson classic but perhaps there is even more to this curious case than you know…

Jekyll and Hyde is directed, staged and produced by Simon James Collier, director of Frankenstein and The Corruption of Dorian Gray.

The cast includes Rebecca Bell (as Molly Enfield/Sarafina Accorsi), Elizabeth Bryant (Penelope Carew), Rory Fairbairn (Dr. Henry Jekyll), Leonora Haig (Mrs. Hilda Poole/Lady Henning), Tom Hartill (Mr Gabriel John Utterson), Connie Jackson (Mary Reilly/Tamzin), Darragh Kelliher (Sir George Carew/Inspector Trevor Willard) and Wyatt Wendels (Mr. Edward Hyde).

Jekyll and Hyde has choreography and movement direction by Omar F. Okai, lighting by Michael Edwards and sound by James Corner. Co-producers are Adam Dechanel and Omar F. Okai and associate producer/assistant director is Michael Batten.

Jekyll and Hyde is suitable for ages 13 years and above.

Tickets: £19 (adults), £15 (concessions) – available from the box office on 08444 77 1000 or from www.ticketweb.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday matinee at 3.30pm.

Running Time: 2 hours with a 15 minute interval.

Alice on the Underground - Chickenshed Chase Side

Alice on the Underground

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FIRST performed in 2003 to huge acclaim, Alice on the Underground has been updated as part of Chickenshed’s 40th Anniversary year and will run at The Studio Theatre from Wednesday, October 8 to Saturday, October 25, 2014.

With hints and suggestions of the familiar yet dream-like figures from Alice In Wonderland, this show draws upon the stark realities of 21st century London life, thereby creating what is described as a fast-moving, entertaining musical production.

Alice is a spirited teenager who yearns to find love and excitement beyond her humdrum life on a London estate. Running away from home, Alice is befriended by a break-dancing, busking White Rabbit, who takes her on a wild, magical and humorous subterranean journey on the underground.

Her adventures become curiouser and curiouser as together they encounter increasingly bizarre characters in London’s sinister underbelly. But does Alice find what she’s looking for?

Alice on the Underground is written and directed by Chris Bond (Sweeney Todd, Blood Brothers), who returns to Chickenshed with this powerful production that drew its initial inspiration from Chickenshed’s inclusive and groundbreaking ethos.

Extra to performance: Going Underground on Monday, October 13 and Monday, October 20 at 6.30pm. Free to ticket holders.

This is an informal discussion with members of the cast and creative team, who discuss the importance of Alice on the Underground to Chickenshed, its history and development, and the approaches taken to update this piece for a new audience.

Tickets: £10, £8 concessions. Half price for 14 – 25 year olds when they mention StubHub. To book, call the box office on 020 8292 9222, email: bookings@Chickenshed.org.uk or visit www.chickenshed.org.uk/.

Times: Evenings at 7.30pm; Matinees on Thursday, October 9 and Thursday, October 16 at 1pm; Matinees on Saturday, October 18 and Saturday, October 25 at 3.30pm; Friday, October 24 at 5pm and 8.30pm.

Sign interpreted performance: Friday, October 17 at 7.30pm

Captioned performance: Monday, October 20 at 7.30pm.

Urinetown - final casting announced

Simon Paisley Day

Casting news

FINAL casting has been announced for the West End transfer of Jamie Lloyd’s production of Urinetown The Musical, which runs at the Apollo Theatre from September 29, 2014 to January 24, 2015.

Reprising his critically-acclaimed role as the tyrannical Caldwell B. Cladwell, the machiavellian Head of UGC (Urine Good Company), will be Simon Paisley Day; while taking on the new role of Bobby Strong, Urinetown’s most unlikely hero, will be Matthew Seadon-Young.

Nathan Amzi, star of BBC’s The Voice, will play Officer Barrel.

Completing the cast are Alasdair Buchan (Swing), Christina Modestou (Swing), Kane Oliver Parry (Robbie The Stockfish) and Vicky Lee Taylor (Swing).

Jamie Lloyd, Director, said:

“I am really excited that we now have the full cast for our West End transfer of Urinetown. It is great that the brilliantly talented Simon Paisley Day is reprising the role of Caldwell B. Cladwell for our run at the Apollo Theatre. I am also thrilled that Matthew Seadon-Young will be getting the opportunity to play Bobby Strong. He is an extraordinary talent and very much a rising star to watch. I am looking forward to what he will bring to the role for our West End audiences. I saw Nathan Amzi’s fantastic performance in In The Heights, and obviously he is well known for his recent stint on the BBC’s hit show The Voice UK, and I know he will add another dimension to our multi-talented cast”.

Simon Paisley Day has worked extensively at the National Theatre, where his credits include Twelfth Night, Anything Goes, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Coast Of Utopia, Albert Speer, Hamlet, Candide, Troilus and Cressida, Money and Oh What a Lovely War!.

His credits elsewhere include The Low Road and The Ugly One (Royal Court), The Taming of the Shrew and Timon of Athens (Shakespeare’s Globe), Private Lives (Music Box Theatre, New York/Vaudeville Theatre, London), Entertaining Mr. Sloane (Trafalgar Studios), The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre), Don’t Look Now (Lyric Hammersmith), The Philanthropist (Donmar Warehouse), Cymbeline and Twelfth Night (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park), By Jeeves! (Scarborough/Duke of York’s Theatre) and A Woman of No Importance (Royal Shakespeare Theatre).

Most recently, he wrote the comedy Raving, which was directed by Edward Hall and enjoyed a sell-out run at Hampstead Theatre.

Paisley Day’s screen credits include Sherlock, Doctor Who, Musketeers, Titanic, Spartacus, Midsomer Murders, Queen and Country, The Untitled Cycling Project, Madame Bovary and The Falling.

Matthew Seadon-Young previously played Robbie the Stockfish in Urinetown. His other theatre credits include The Architects (Biscuit Factory), School for Scandal (Theatre Royal Bath), She Stoops to Conquer (National Theatre) and Les Miserables (Queens Theatre). He has also appeared on screen in Pride and Les Miserables.

Described as a sharp-witted rampant riot of a show, Urinetown tells the tale of a town fit to burst; spending a penny can prove problematic in a place where the privilege to pee has become a punishable offence. There is no such thing as rent free relief until our young hero, Bobby Strong, appears – with more than a good set of pipes – and starts a revolution!

Read more about Urinetown The Musical.

I Believe in Unicorns tours UK this autumn

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MICHAEL Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns will tour the UK this autumn, visiting James Allen’s Prep School in East Dulwich on September 29, Kensington Central Library on October 2, Newton Prep School in Battersea on October 17 and the Bush Theatre (Storystock Children’s Festival) on October 28, 2014.

The tour (September 6 to December 13, 2014) will also visit Watford, Harlow, Aldershot, Bracknell, Gosport, Fareham, Newbury, Brighton, Bedford, New Milton, Hertford, Waterlooville, Havant, Hayling Island, Emsworth, Peterborough, Hemel Hempstead, Gravesend, Margate, Folkestone, St Albans, Stowe, Didcot, Grays, Hockley, Eastbourne, Deal, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Bursledon, Hedge End, Chandler’s Ford, Wisbech and Leicester.

Previously Posted: Following a hugely successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and an Arts Council-supported National Tour, Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns is transferring to the West End – to the Vaudeville Theatre, where it runs from August 8 to August 31, 2014.

Described as an utterly magical one-woman show, I Believe in Unicorns is set in a library full of books which contain more than stories within their pages.

It is a tale of the power of books and the bravery of a young boy called Tomas, who loves playing in the mountains and hates reading and school. However, his world is turned upside down the day he meets the Unicorn and the Unicorn Lady in his local library.

An interactive show that captures the enchantment of storytelling, I Believe in Unicorns sparks the imagination of both children and adults and is suitable for everyone over 5 years old.

Devised and produced by Wizard Presents, I Believe in Unicorns is directed by Dani Parr (Associate Director of Royal & Derngate) and stars storyteller Danyah Miller. The production is designed by Kate Bunce, with music and sound by Martin Thompson, lighting by Will Evans and projection by Arnim Freiss.

Michael Morpurgo said: “It is wonderful that a magic unicorn is coming to town, a unicorn like no other. A horse, like War Horse is one thing – also like no other – but a unicorn? No one will believe it until they see it, but a unicorn, once seen, like the horse, like Joey, is always believed.”

I Believe in Unicorns will make a special preview appearance at the West End Live opening events at the Spiegeltent on June 22 at noon.

Tickets: from £17.50; Groups 10+ from £12.50.

Times: Monday and Tuesday at 11am and 2pm; Thursday and Friday at 11am and 7pm; Saturday at 11am; Sunday at 10.30am.

For more information visit www.ibelieveinunicorns.co.uk.

Also at the Vaudeville Theatre: The Tricycle Theatre’s acclaimed production of Moira Buffini’s Handbagged (until August 2); the stage adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather (August 5 to September 6); and the UK premiere of David Lindsay Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony Award-nominated drama Rabbit Hole starring Joanne Froggatt (September 11 to November 22, 2014).

Once - Jill Winternitz continues in the role of Girl

Jill Winternitz

Casting update

JILL Winternitz will continue in the role of Girl opposite the previously announced Ronan Keating as Guy in the Olivier award-winning musical Once, which is currently booking at the Phoenix Theatre until July 4, 2015.

Keating will be joining the show on November 17, 2014.

Jill Winternitz studied at UCLA and the Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia before training in the UK at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She made her West End debut starring as Baby in Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre and then on tour around the UK.

Her other theatre credits include A Handful of Soil (Drayton Theatre), The Seagull (Moscow Art Theatre School) and Sunday in the Park with George (Interlochen Center for the Arts). She has also appeared in the films The Sorrows and The Replacement Child.

Based on the much-loved Oscar-winning film, Once is a celebration of love, friendship and music performed by a cast of actor/musicians. When an Irish busker and a young Czech mother meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected.

From November 17, 2014 the Once London cast comprises Ronan Keating (as Guy) and Jill Winternitz (Girl) together with Fiona Bruce (Baruška), Jamie Cameron (Emcee) Mark Carlisle (Da), Matthew Ganley (Švec), Mathew Hamper (Andrej), Daniel Healy (Eamon), Loren O’Dair (Reza), Miria Parvin (Ex-Girlfriend), Tim Prottey-Jones (Billy), and Jez Unwin (Bank Manager).

Alternating the role of Girl’s young daughter Ivanka will be Pacha Busby, Rebecca Connolly, Tigan Hawes and Audrey Newman. David Hunter continues in the role of Guy until November 15, 2014.

Hadley Fraser and Caroline Sheen to launch new musical Before After

Hadley Fraser

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WEST End stars Hadley Fraser and Caroline Sheen will feature in the world premiere of Stuart Matthew Price and Timothy Knapman’s new romantic musical, Before After, at St. James Studio.

Backed by the Arts Council, Before After will be workshopped for two weeks, before being performed to the paying public at St James Studio on Sunday, September 28, 2014.

Everybody has one great lost love. They broke our hearts, they haunt our dreams and we will never, ever forget them. But what if fate gave you another chance? Do you think you’d get things right the second time around?

In Before After, Ami (Caroline Sheen) meets Ben (Hadley Fraser) by a tree on a beautiful hillside. She recognises him instantly – he was once the love of her life. But Ben doesn’t recognise her. As audiences watch their love grow in both the past and the present, might they finally find their happy ever after after all? He’s the right man in the right place – but is this the right time?

Composer Stuart Matthew Price said: “We are thrilled with the stunning West End cast we’ve assembled and with the generous support of the Arts Council, excited to give Musical Theatre fans the opportunity to be in at the very beginning of the journey for this new British musical. We want their feedback as we look to mount a fully staged production later in 2014 or early 2015.”

Hadley Fraser, soon to star as Stine in the sold-out Donmar Warehouse production of City of Angels, made his professional debut in Les Misérables. In 2011, he returned to the West End production as Javert. His other West End credits include: The Far Pavilions (Shaftesbury Theatre), Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (Savoy Theatre), Peter Pan (Savoy Theatre) and El Gallo in The Fantasticks (Duchess Theatre). He also played Raoul in the 25th Anniversary staging of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall.

As a vocalist, Fraser can be heard on Scott Alan’s releases Keys and Scott Alan LIVE.

Caroline Sheen played the title role in the musical Mary Poppins, first in the UK then in the US, where she won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production. She appeared as Fantine in the West End production of Les Misérables alongside Hadley Fraser, and had a minor role in the 2012 film version.

Caroline Sheen

Sheen made her West End debut as Marty in Grease at the Cambridge Theatre and later starred as Sandy at the Victorial Palace Theatre. Her other credits include Florinda in Into the Woods (Donmar Warehouse); understudying the lead role of Sophie in the original cast of Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward Theatre); creating the role of Jennifer Gabriel in the world premiere production of The Witches of Eastwick (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); and Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium).

Stuart Matthew Price made his debut as as perfomer in the critically acclaimed Parade at the Donmar Warehouse. His other theatre credits include Mack and Mabel (Southwark Playhouse), The Sound Of Music (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Dear World (Charing Cross Theatre), Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Sweet Smell of Success (Arcola Theatre) and Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show.

In 1999, Price’s first musical, Searching, won him the Stoll Moss Theatre’s Award for Most Promising Under 18 Musical Writer. Since then, he has worked on a number of new musicals including The Diary of Me, which premiered at the Harlow Playhouse in 2006, followed by a short run as part of the Perfect Pitch Showcase Season in 2008 at Trafalgar Studios.

Price’s individual songs have received much acclaim, with Stories of Heroes winning him the 4th Annual Tim William’s Award in 2012.

Timothy Knapman is a playwright, lyricist and children’s writer. He co-wrote Hamlet! The Musical (Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Royal and Derngate Northampton, Richmond Theatre), wrote the book and lyrics for a musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Creation TC) and works frequently as a librettist for singing group I Fagiolini (work performed at the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, BBC Proms, on CD and DVD).

Knapman’s plays include: Gilbert and Sullivan: All At Sixes and Sevens (King’s Head Theatre), The Stag King (Edinburgh Fringe) and The Smallest Person (Trestle TC, Edinburgh and national tour). His books include: the best-selling Mungo and the Picture Book Pirates (and its sequels), Dinosaurs in the Supermarket and Eleanor’s Eyebrows.

Produced by United Theatrical with the assistance of the Arts Council of England, the workshop will be directed by Simon Greiff, with orchestration and musical direction by Colin Billing.

Tickets (for September 28): £15 Studio Gallery and £12.50 Studio Floor. Available from the box office on 0844 264 2140 or visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/book-tickets/.

Time: 3pm.

Also at St James Studio: Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little, starring Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford (October 6 to October 11, 2014).

Thoroughly Modern Millie postponed until April 2015

Theatre news

THE Off West End premiere of the six-time Tony Award-winning tap dancing musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, is being postponed until 2015.

Due to star Russell Grant as the mysterious and sinister Mrs Meers and American Molly Marie Walsh in the title role of Millie Dillmount, Thoroughly Modern Millie was booked to play at Theatro Technis from October 1 to October 25, 2014.

It will now play at the same theatre from April 1 to April 25, 2015 with the full cast and creatives that have already been announced, subject to their availability. Tickets are being refunded and booking will open soon for the new dates.

A spokesman for Entourage Productions said:

“Regrettably, director Drew Baker is unable to direct the show at this time due to the serious illness of a family member. This production has been a long time in the making. Entourage are very excited by Drew’s vision of the show and the cast and team we have assembled. Postponing it will allow us to bring that vision to the stage with the full company we already have in place, subject to their availability.”

Read more about Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Marry Me A Little returns to St. James Studio

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford

Casting news

FOLLOWING a critically acclaimed sell-out run this August, Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little will return to St. James Studio for an extra week of performances from Monday, October 6 to Saturday, October 11, 2014.

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford (pictured below by Roy Tan) will return to the roles of Man and Woman.

Tickets: £12 – 18.50. To book, call the box office on 0844 264 2140 or visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/.

Times: 8pm, with Friday and Saturday matinees at 3pm.

Previously Posted: Casting has been announced for Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little, which returns to the London stage for the first time in 17 years in a brand new production at St. James Studio, where it runs from July 31 (previews from July 29) to August 10, 2014 (16 performances only).

Starring as Man and Woman respectively are Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford.

Simon Bailey was most recently seen as Liam in I Can’t Sing! at the London Palladium, prior to which he toured the UK as Raoul in Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of The Phantom of the Opera.

His West End credits include Lieutenant Torrasso/Count Ludovic in Passion (Donmar Warehouse), Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Enjolras in Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre) and Britney in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre).

Bailey is also a founder member of ‘Theatreland’s First Supergroup’ Teatro.

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford in Marry Me A Little at St James Studio. Photo credit: Roy Tan.

Laura Pitt-Pulford was most recently seen as The Falconer in the Tori Amos musical The Light Princess at the National Theatre. Her other recent credits include A Man of No Importance (Salisbury Playhouse), Piaf and Hello Dolly (Leicester Curve Theatre) and Mack & Mabel and Parade (Southwark Playhouse).

Marry Me A Little pieces together a selection of songs by Stephen Sondheim to tell a charming and bittersweet tale of love, loneliness and survival as a modern singleton.

Two single strangers, left alone in their studio apartments on a Saturday night, pass their time with sweetly secret, unshared fantasies, never knowing that they’re just a floor away from each other and the end of their lonely dreams.

Told entirely through songs written early in Sondheim’s career or previously intended for his ground-breaking Broadway musicals including A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Company, Follies and A Little Night Music, Marry Me a Little is described as a funny, moving and sophisticated musical as well as a fascinating look at “the songs that got away”.

Read more about Marry Me A Little.

Above the Stag Theatre - Autumn/Winter 2014

Treasure Island the Curse of the Pearl Necklace

Season preview

ABOVE the Stag Theatre has announced its programme for Autumn/Winter 2014 and it includes:

You Should Be So Lucky by US Drama Desk award-winner Charles Busch. A contemporary gay Cinderella story, it runs from September 17 to October 18.

When the shy, eccentric and accident prone electrologist Christopher helps the elderly Mr Rosenberg recover from a fainting fit he’s not expecting to be sent off to meet his Prince Charming at a glamorous charity ball.

And when the electrics short so he accidentally kills Rosenberg he certainly isn’t expecting to inherit his millions … nor to end up on reality TV facing the fury of his embittered and furious daughter, Lenore.

But it’s the icing on the cake when the old man turns up to lend a hand in the guise of a very ghostly fairy Godfather…

Andrew Beckett (The Gay Naked Play, Jack Off the Beanstalk) directs a new production of this New York hit, rekindling the madcap fun of the great screwball comedies of the 1930s.

You Should Be So Lucky is designed by David Shields, whose previous work includes Saturday Night Fever (Apollo Victoria Theatre), 1888 (Union Theatre), tours of Strictly Come Dancing, Chess, Carmen Jones and Holiday on Ice, and Dick Whittington (Bristol Hippodrome), plus many plays and pantos at Above The Stag.

The cast includes Lucas Livesey, Stacy Sobieski, Ellen Verenieks and Christopher Woodley. Lighting is by Chris Withers.

The Bus by James Lantz. The story of secret teenage love in the heart of America’s Bible Belt, it runs from October 22 to November 22.

The derelict bus signposting the road to the church is the ideal secret rendezvous for teenagers Jordan and Ian as they explore their friendship and love.

But when the gas station owner, who also happens to be Jordan’s divorced father, decides he’s had enough of giving it house room for free they suddenly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of small-town politics, deep seated religious prejudice and family resentment.

A clash between the large church and a tiny local business can only be explosive and lead to unexpected consequences for all.

This battle between family, feelings and faith is described as touching, sometimes haunting, gently humorous and swirling with suspense.

The Bus is directed by Robert McWhir, Artistic Director of the Landor Theatre (13 years), where his credits include Sondheim’s Follies, which received universal acclaim in both the national and international press, and I Love You Because, which won the What’sOnStage award for Best Off-West End Production. Among his other numerous credits are the world premiere of Sleeping Arrangements, the UK premiere of Meet Me In St Louis, a revival of No Way To Treat A Lady, and the world premiere of The Man Inside starring Dave Willetts.

The production has set design by David Shields and lighting by Elliot Griggs. Casting has yet to be announced.

The Bus made its New York premiere in 2011 and has been performed in Burlington Vermont, Topeka/Wichita, San Francisco and Cape Town. Originally designed to go on the road and reach more conservative audiences, it is the first play by James Lantz, an award-winning commercial filmmaker and screenwriter, a non-activist, who is married and a father of two young children.

Lantz also produced a symbolic performance of The Bus near one of the most homophobic places in the country, The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, which came to national prominence in 1998 for picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard and which since then has staged over 45,000 anti-gay protests, many at schools.

Speaking about The Bus, Lantz said: “It’s a story about gay teens, a small town, and a very big church. But at its core, it’s really a story about homophobia… After last year’s heartbreaking spate of suicides by gay teens, I began to wonder if we really should be ignoring a campaign of hate that is as relentless as this.”

Treasure Island – the Curse of the Pearl Necklace by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper. Above the Stag’s celebrated annual adult panto, it runs from November 28, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

Jim Hawkins wants adventure! Tired of swallowing seamen’s stories in his mum’s hotel on the Cornish coast, he gets his hands on a sailor’s chest and discovers a mysterious treasure map. Will he find riches? Sunshine? Speedo-clad men in the sand-dunes? Only if he can beat John Silver, a charismatic and curiously disabled pirate – and a very nautical boy.

Described as outrageous, romantic and very silly, Above The Stag’s acclaimed Christmas shows are a hugely popular festive feast of traditional panto fare and then some!

Treasure Island – the Curse of the Pearl Necklace is directed by Andrew Beckett (My Big Gay Italian Wedding, Sleeping with Straight Men) and is designed by David Shields, with musical direction by Daniel Johnson and lighting by Elliot Griggs. Casting has yet to be announced.

Martin Hooper and Jon Bradfield’s pantos for Above The Stag include Sleeping Beauty – One Little Prick, Robin Hood – Queen of Thieves, Dick Whittington – Another Dick in City Hall and Get Aladdin! They also wrote Gay School Musical and a drama A Hard Rain, about a drag queen and former soldier in the build-up to the Stonewall Riots, which premiered at Above The Stag earlier this year.

NB: Treasure Island – the Curse of the Pearl Necklace is for adults only.

For more information or to book the above productions, visit www.abovethestag.com/ or for group bookings email atstheatre@aol.com.