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Imelda Staunton to star in West End transfer of Gypsy

Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake

Preview by Jack Foley

IMELDA Staunton (pictured) will star as the indomitable Momma Rose in the West End transfer of Jonathan Kent’s five star sell-out Chichester Festival Theatre production of Gypsy, the first to be seen in London for 40 years.

This strictly limited season opens at the Savoy Theatre on April 15, 2015 with previews from March 28, 2015 (7.30pm).

Further casting for Gypsy will be announced shortly but tickets are available now.

Gypsy is a musical fable with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It is suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, has choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Anthony Ward, musical direction and orchestration by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis.

Gypsy is considered by many to be the greatest of the Broadway musicals. It tells the true story of ambitious showbiz mother Momma Rose, who treks across America with her daughters Baby June and Louise in search of success with their homespun vaudeville act.

As times change, Momma Rose is forced to accept the demise of vaudeville and the rise of burlesque, as well as her daughters’ quest for autonomy.

Gypsy reunites actor Imelda Staunton and director Jonathan Kent, who previously collaborated on the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Sweeney Todd, which, after a sell-out run there, transferred to the West End.

Kent also directed Staunton in Good People for Hampstead Theatre, which similarly transferred to the West End after a sell-out season in Hampstead.

Multi award-winning actor Staunton’s extensive theatre credits include Sweeney Todd for Chichester Festival Theatre, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus of Disapproval and Life x 3 for the National Theatre, A Delicate Balance and There Came a Gypsy Riding for the Almeida Theatre, They Shoot Horses Don’t They? and The Wizard of Oz for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Slavs and Good People for Hampstead Theatre and Circle Mirror Transformation for the Royal Court Theatre (among many, many others).

Director Jonathan Kent’s theatre credits includes Sweeney Todd and Private Lives for Chichester Festival Theatre, Good People for Hampstead Theatre, Le Cid, Mother Courage and Her Children, and The False Servant, Oedipus and Emperor and Galilean for the National Theatre.

Kent was joint Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre for 12 years, where his many productions included Gangster No 1, All For Love, The School for Wives, Medea, Hamlet, The Life of Galileo, Ivanov, The Tempest, Richard II, Coriolanus, Phèdre, Britannicus, Plenty, Lulu, Platonov and King Lear, many of which transferred to the West End and Broadway and toured internationally.

Savoy Theatre, Strand, London WC2R 0ET
Previews from March 28, 2015 at 7.30pm
Press Night: April 15, 2015 at 7pm
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 50 mins including 20 minute interval

Dakota Blue Richards to make stage debut in touring production of Arcadia

Story by Jack Foley

DAKOTA Blue Richards will make her stage debut as Thomasina in a new touring production of Tom Stoppard’s comedy masterpiece, Arcadia.

The production will be the first major national tour since 1993, and over 20 years since the play has been seen by audiences around the UK.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre, Arcadia will open at the Theatre Royal Brighton on January 30, 2015 before touring the UK to Bath, Bromley, Woking, Aylesbury, Truro, Birmingham, Cambridge, Malvern and Oxford until April 2015.

Other cast members include Kirsty Besterman, Robert Cavanah, Tom Greaves, Nakay Kpaka, Ed MacArthur, Charlie Manton, David Mara, Flora Montgomery, Wilf Scolding, Larrington Walker and Ria Zmitrowitz.

In a stately home in 19th century rural Derbyshire , secret desires and professional rivalries take hold of the residents of Sidley Park. The daughter of the house, Thomasina Coverly, is a bright and talented pupil tutored by Byron’s friend Septimus Hodge, who makes a startling discovery well ahead of her time. In the present day, academics Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale attempt to piece together the fragments of truth that tell her story. Arcadia explores the delicate relationship between past and present, and is a witty and absorbing portrait of two generations of an aristocratic family as the focus moves from 1809 to now, and back to the past.

First premiered at the National Theatre in 1993 directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia is considered one of the greatest plays of the last century, winning countless awards including the 1993 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best New Play. Arcadia has twice been produced on Broadway, winning the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of Play.

This production sees a new collaboration between English Touring Theatre (Translations, Ghosts, The Misanthrope)and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions (Dandy Dick, Blue Orange).

Arcadia marks English Touring Theatre’s second time working with director Blanche McIntyre this year, following the tour of Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30.

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.’

Dakota Blue Richards plays Thomasina Coverly which will mark her professional stage debut. Film credits include: Chicklit, The Fold, The Golden Compass, The Secret of Moonacre and Five Miles Out.

The Commitments extends West End run until September 2015

Natalie Hope, Brian Gilligan and Sarah O'Connor.

Preview by Jack Foley

DUE to overwhelming popular demand, The Commitments is to extend its current booking period for the second time to September 13, 2015.

The show has been bringing the people’s music to the people of London, playing to packed houses since the show opened at the Palace Theatre in September 2013.

On announcing the further extension, producer Phil McIntyre said: “We’re extremely happy to announce that The Commitments has extended its current booking period for the second time to September 2015.

“The response from audiences has been quite incredible and we are thrilled the show will continue its residency at The Palace Theatre.”

The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesiser band – the opening scene has them playing but ignored in a shop window – who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a number of wannabes before finalising the new line up who he names The Commitments. The humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, and proceed through early rehearsals for their first gig. Just as they improve and begin to get a name for themselves they combust.

The backing singers are all getting off with the middle aged horn playing legend, the singer has entered Eurovision, the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to end West End run and embark on national UK tour

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

Story by Jack Foley

AFTER a hugely successful year in London at The Savoy Theatre, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will now be heading out on international productions in Australia, Koreas and Germany and on a two year national UK tour.

London theatre goers have until March 7, 2015, to book tickets to see Robery Lindsay (What’s On Stage Awards Best Actor In A Musical nominee) in this multi-award nominated production.

The UK run starts at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre on May 5, 2015, before continuing with runs at Manchester Opera House, Sunderland Empire and the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, followed by international productions in Australia, Germany and South Korea.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened in February 2014 to critical acclaim. Since then the show has been seen by over 200,000 audience members who have between them quaffed 9,660 glasses of champagne at the Savoy Theatre, while the Savoy Hotel’s Doormen have commented on the laughter from the theatre hitting the doors of the hotel on a nightly basis.

Olivier, Tony and BAFTA award winning Robert Lindsay stars in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as the French Riviera’s chief conman, Lawrence Jameson. Appeating alongside him are Bonnie Langford as Muriel Eubanks, a glamorous divorcee looking for love, Ben Fox as Andre Thibault, Beaumont-Sur-Mer’s Chief of Police and Lawrence’s sidekick and partner in crime.

Katherine Kingsley also stars as Christine Colgate, with Alex Gaumond as the newest conman on the block, Freddy Benson.

Play of Thrones - Union Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

Conceived specifically to appeal to box set enthusiasts and particularly Game of Thrones fans, Play of Thrones runs at the Union Theatre from January 6 to January 24, 2015.

This rare chance to see the plays that inspired Game of Thrones author R.R Martin celebrates Shakespeare as a pioneer of epic story telling.

Adapted from the sprawling Wars of the Roses, multi award-winning director Phil Willmott has gathered a large and gifted cast to tell the complete story of an extraordinary royal marriage over one evening of thrilling, action packed adventure.

The sun has set on the glorious reign of a mighty king leaving his ill prepared son to hold a vast and crumbling empire together whilst enemies watch from every shadow. He must control the envious and feuding Northern lords, whilst across the sea a warrior enchantress recaptures swathes of the old empire.

The King’s foes ruthlessly destroy his allies whilst a marriage is brokered with a she-wolf of a foreign queen. All the while a deformed psychopath and his ambitious family wait to plunge the kingdom into a brutal civil war. Winter is coming. Richard III’s legendary winter of discontent draws ever closer.

Phil Willmott’s celebrated four part dramatisation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle drew audiences of over 40,0000 to the South Bank last summer whilst his re-imagining of King Lear as a Queen’s tragedy captivated audiences and critics alike at the Union Theatre, home to his modern world premiere of Shakespeare’s Double Falsehood and striking revivals of King John and Measure For Measure.

The Play of Thrones company, featuring the best of recent drama school graduates alongside veterans of the Almeida and National Theatre, includes Paul Adyefa, Abigail Carter-Simpson, James Clarkson, Penelope Day, Hilary Derrett, Mark Extance, Patrick Holt, Michael Keane, Emma Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Simeon Oakes and Zak Reay-Barry.

Tickets: £20, £17 concessions, 1st week: all seats £15. To book, call the box office on 020 7261 9876 or visit www.uniontheatre.biz/.

Time: Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm.

The London premiere of Charles Busch’s Times Square Angel continues at the Union Theatre until December 21, 2014.

Between returns to the King's Head Theatre

Nicholas Campbell and Oskar Brown

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NEXT year, Between returns to the King’s Head Theatre for a limited seven week run. Part of the Islington venue’s new season, it runs from January 27 (previews from January 24) to March 14, 2015.

Tickets: £15 – £18. Previews (January 24 and 25) all seats £10. To book, call the box office on 020 7226 4443 or visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com/.

Times: January 24 to February 12 – Tuesday to Saturday at 9.15pm, Sunday at 3pm and 7pm; February 24 to March 14 – Tuesday to Saturday at 10pm.

Previously Posted: Following sold out runs in Edinburgh, Brighton and Cape Town, Between comes to London for the first time – to the King’s Head Theatre, where it runs from August 5 to August 23, 2014.

Described as an edgy, fast paced and visceral exploration of male sexuality, Between follows three intertwining story lines: an acting instructor as he coaches a young student through the delivery of Shakespearian Sonnets, childhood friends discovering sex and sexuality, and a couple who have grown apart sexually.

Between is directed by Geoffrey Hyland and performed by Nicholas Campbell and Oskar Brown (pictured).

Between was nominated for Best Writing and Best Acting at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2012.

The Lost Happy Endings - Tabard Theatre

The Lost Happy Endings

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A BRAND new adaptation of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s magical adventure, The Lost Happy Endings, runs at the Tabard Theatre over the Christmas season – from December 17, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

In Duffy’s magical world, every evening, as children are curling up ready for their bedtime stories, Jub sets off across the forest with a sack full of happy endings. She climbs to the top of the tallest Oak tree, and disperses these in order to bring comforting resolutions and sweet dreams to all that listen.

But what would happen if these happy endings were stolen? Imagine the tears at bedtime and the nightmares which follow. It’s up to Jub to create her own ending and restore convention to the world of fairy tales in this lyrical story about the power of storytelling.

In the tradition of classic fairy tales for children, Carol Ann Duffy has created a truly compelling, surprising and beautiful story for children of all ages.

Following the success of previous family Christmas shows at the Tabard (Stig of the Dump, Famous Five, Cinderella and A Christmas Carol) The Lost Happy Endings promises a vibrant, imaginative and charming theatrical entertainment, brought to life by a highly engaging company of actors bringing song, music and spectacle to the Tabard stage.

The cast includes Lauren Lyle, Owen Pullar, Simon Robinson and Kate Scott.

Adapted by Wendy Rouse and Amanda Wilde, The Lost Happy Endings is directed by Matt Harrison and designed by Lily Faith Knight, with musical composition and direction by Mark Webber, lighting by Ben Jacobs, sound by Jack Lord and choreography by Gemma Gould. The producer is Colin Hilton for Pulling Focus.

Tickets: £15 – £17. Group rate £12 per ticket. To book, call the box office on 020 8995 6035 or visit www.tabardweb.co.uk/.

Times: Vary (see website for detalis).

The Red Chair - Soho Theatre and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING performances last summer of Red Ladies at the Southbank Centre and Margate Turner Contemporary gallery, Clod Ensemble return with The Red Chair.

An intimate show with an original dark fairy tale at its heart, it visits Soho Theatre from February 24 to March 1, 2015 as part of a national tour.

The Red Chair is a surreal ballad populated with larger than life characters, told in a rich and saucy Scots dialect which draws the audience into the extraordinary world of a troubled family (with a dram of whisky to help along the way).

A contemporary take on folk and fairytale storytelling traditions, The Red Chair tells the story of a father who eats and eats until he turns into the chair he is sitting upon, the wife doomed to cook his meals and their ‘inveesible’ daughter.

By turns haunting and humorous, The Red Chair takes audiences on a journey through a landscape of twisted reason, extreme compulsion and eye watering complacency, where domestic drudgery happens on an operatic scale and a father’s dereliction of duty reaches epic proportions.

Created in collaboration with artist Sarah Cameron and based on her original book, The Red Chair is performed by Cameron with the physical vitality that has become a trademark of Clod Ensemble’s work, rooted in the training that both Cameron and director Suzy Willson received at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris.

Woven into the production is an original sound score created by Clod Ensemble co-artistic director Paul Clark.

Sarah Cameron is an artist, performer and writer. Born in Dundee, she studied sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art and theatre at Ecole International de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. She has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Young Vic, where she was a member of the resident company that created the legendary production of Grimm Tales, directed by Tim Supple.

Cameron first worked with Clod Ensemble in 1999, touring their production of Greed internationally in 2003. Most recently, she appeared in their production of Zero at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Director Suzy Willson said: “Sarah has worked with Clod Ensemble as a performer for many years. When she showed us the book she had been working on called The Red Chair we were blown away both by the quality of the language and by the power of the central image of a father who turns into the chair he is sitting upon. It is both mythic and contemporary, funny and heartfelt. It speaks of family and of ancestry – all the while conjuring up the wild beauty of the Scottish landscape.

“As well as being a virtuosic physical performer, Sarah is also a sculptor – the story felt to us like a kind of sculpture of words and we immediately wanted to hear and see her telling it.”

Since the company’s inception in 1995, Clod Ensemble has collaborated with artists working in a wide range of media including performance, dance, music, visual art, photography, film and poetry to make work for theatre spaces, festivals and galleries as well as creating projects and curating work in places where art does not usually or regularly happen including medical schools, day care centres and prisons.

Director Suzy Willson has also initiated a number of projects that draw on the interplay between art and science, including developing the ground-breaking Performing Medicine project which provides training to medical students and healthcare practitioners at undergraduate and postgraduate level using the performing and visual arts. The project has been awarded a Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.

Produced in association with Fuel, The Red Chair is designed by Sarah Blenkinsop and has lighting by Hansjorg Schmidt.

The Red Chair is suitable for ages 15+.

Tickets: £15, £12.50 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7478 0100 or online at www.sohotheatre.com/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7pm, Sunday at 5pm.

Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes (including interval).

Also at Soho Theatre: Simon Longman’s Milked, from Pentabus Theatre Company (March 3 to March 8, 2015).

The tour of The Red Chair will also visit Live at LICA, Lancaster (February 19), Canada Water Culture Space, London (March 11 and 12), Lakeside Theatre, Essex (March 19), Northern Stage, Newcastle (March 24 and 25), Turner Contemporary, Kent (In association with Margate Theatre Royal) (April 3) and Stratford Circus, London (April 23 – 26).

American Buffalo - Damian Lewis leads cast

The Misanthrope

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

HOMELAND star Damian Lewis will lead the cast in David Mamet’s American Buffalo, which runs for a limited season at Wyndham’s Theatre – from April 16 to June 27, 2015.

In American Buffalo, long-repressed feelings of bitterness and betrayal explode when three inner-city losers plot the robbery of a valuable coin in a seedy second-hand junk shop. The play was filmed in 1996 and starred Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz and Sean Nelson.

Damian Lewis last appeared on the London stage in Martin Crimp’s updated version of Moliere’s 17th century comedy The Misanthrope alongside Keira Knightley (pictured). His other theatre credits include Ibsen’s Pillars of the Community, Five Gold Rings, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing, Into the Woods and School for Wives.

However, he is probably best known for his numerous screen roles – in Homeland (as Nicholas Brody), Band of Brothers (Maj. Richard D. Winters), The Forsyte Saga (Soames Forsyte), Jeffrey Archer: The Truth (Jeffrey Archer), Colditz (Cpl/Lt Nicholas McGrade) and Life (Charlie Crews).

Next year, he can also be seen as Henry VIII in the TV mini series Wolf Hall.

American Buffalo will be directed by Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, whose recent productions include Oliver!, The Full Monty and My Fair Lady. Further casting has yet to be announced.

Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet’s other plays include Glengarry Glen Ross, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow, Sexual Perversity in Chicago and A Life in the Theatre.

Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III continues at Wyndham’s Theatre until January 31, 2015. It will be followed – from February 11 to April 11 – by Ivo Van Hove’s Young Vic production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, starring Mark Strong as Eddie Carbone.

How to Hold Your Breath - Maxine Peake joins cast

Maxine Peake in Silk

Casting news

NEXT year, Maxine Peake returns to the Royal Court Theatre in a new play by Zinnie Harris, How to Hold Your Breath, which runs in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from February 4 to March 21, 2015.

Although well known for her roles in TV dramas such as Silk, The Village, The Street and Shameless, Maxine Peake’s extensive theatre credits include Mother Theresa is Dead (Royal Court), The Cherry Orchard, The Relapse and Luther (National Theatre) and, most recently, Hamlet (Manchester’s Royal Exchange).

Starting with a seemingly innocent one night stand, this darkly witty and magical play from Harris dives into our recent European history for an epic look at the true cost of principles and how we live now.

How to Hold Your Breath is directed by the Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone and designed by Chloe Lamford, with lighting by Paul Constable, music by Stuart Earl and movement by Ann Yee.

Read more about the Royal Court’s current season