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Bridlington - Rosemary Branch Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WRITTEN by Peter Hamilton and directed by Ken McClymont, Bridlington runs at the Rosemary Branch Theatre from April 16 (previews from April 14) to May 3, 2015.

Hamilton’s gritty yet humorous play combines disappointment and disillusionment in a plot that follows a doomed affair in a psychiatric hospital.

Showing both the therapeutic and destructive power of literature thorough one patient’s infatuation with Wuthering Heights, Hamilton weaves grisly realism with the surreal wanderings of the unstable minds of characters struggling between real and fictitious worlds.

Long-term psychiatric patient Ruth has read Wuthering Heights forty-nine times and is the star of the Therapy Unit’s poetry workshop. As she nurses her teddy-bear, Heathcliffe, in a psychiatric hospital in York, she recalls her former life in a ward in Bridlington, and her doomed affair with Bernard Whittaker, a thirty-seven year-old fellow patient from Leeds.

Ten, (or is it twenty?) years earlier, Bernard is obsessed with anti-submarine warfare in WW1 and hallucinates that he is being visited by a young German submariner called Wulf, who keeps trying to persuade him to join him on his U-boat. Bernard is very tempted but is constantly drawn back by his deep attachment to the hospital cuisine.

Peter Hamilton is the Leeds-born writer known for Basildon, performed at the White Bear Theatre in 2009. Hamilton’s writing spans decades and has previously explored similar themes of disillusion and mental illness in Switchboard (1997) and The Reappearance of Christ in the East End (2005). His previous credits also include Skara Brae (2007) and Danelaw (2005).

Hamilton says: “I wanted to write about a damaged creativity; one where painful experiences are processed by writing about them therapeutically, and compiling a fictional narrative using the elements of reality around one.

“Ruth is slowly spinning a pile of gold out of her past, using elements from her psychiatric hospital, muddling fantasy and reality, but helping to heal herself. From this it has grown into a play about damaged womanhood and manhood. To me Ruth is a wounded “Mother Nature”, violated by brutal western industrialism, and Bernard a damaged male “Warrior” type, limited and emasculated by petit-bourgeois society.”

The cast includes Julia Tarnoky (as Ruth), Richard Fish (Bernard), Steve Hunt (Eric), Antoinette Sym (Gillian) and Christopher James Barley (Alexander). Lighting is by Simeon Miller.

Bridlington is suitable for ages 16+.

Tickets: £13, £11 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7704 6665 or online at www.rosemarybranch.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday at 5pm.

Running Time: 2 hours (including interval).

Memphis and RAD launch new W/E dance experience

Memphis The Musical. Photo credit: Johan Persson.

THE ROYAL Academy of Dance (RAD) and Memphis The Musical have teamed up to create a new London weekend outing for theatre and dance lovers.

On May 23 and 24, 2015, the West End Musical Experience will treat audiences to a Saturday matinee performance, an exclusive pre-show talk with the cast, followed by dinner provided at the classic Brasserie Zédel in the heart of Piccadilly.

On the following day, the group will head to RAD headquarters in Battersea (London) for a masterclass to learn the official choreography from the musical.

Winner of the recent 15th Annual WhatsOnStage Best New Musical Award, Memphis The Musical follows the fame and forbidden love of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break. The musical is inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis the Musical Choreographer, Sergio Trujillo says: “The partnership with the Royal Academy of Dance is an incredible way to engage audiences in the wonderful choreography, music and inspiring story of Memphis The Musical first-hand. I am delighted that we can open up the show further to our fans and dance lovers, in such a fun and unique way. I hope that we can develop this relationship further in the future.”

Lynn Wallis, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Dance says: “We are really thrilled to be teaming up with Memphis The Musical. Well-known West End works can inspire people to take up dance even at a later stage in life, and we are pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity.”

Dates: Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Suitability: No dance experience is necessary. Participants must be 18 or over.

Prices: £150 early bird discount for the first 10 places booked. £175 full price.

Venues: Saturday: Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP and Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, London, W1F 7ED. Sunday: Royal Academy of Dance, 36 Battersea Square, London, SW11 3RA.

Times: To be confirmed.

Website: www.rad.org.uk/memphis

Storylines - The Deptford Lounge

Storylines

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AMPERSAND Media are presenting Storylines, a monthly devised show, at The Deptford Lounge – from Friday, March 6 to Friday, September 4, 2015.

Storylines takes the newspaper stories of the day and turns them into a play – with the help of the public. Anyone in the building can get involved with the devising process, as well as everyone following them on social media.

All audience comments and sugestion that come via twitter (@ampersandmedia) will be fed into the devising process.

The play that is created will be performed in The Deptford Lounge at 7:30pm on each date – no tickets are needed as it’s ‘Pay-What-You-Think-It’s-Worth’ at the end.

The aim is to use the ideas of all involved to shape and create a performance piece and getting actors to try out the public’s ideas and allow everyone access to the theatre creation process.

To inspire each show, the newspaper stories on the morning of each Storylines day will be used.

Because of this, Ampersand will be running a twice monthly newspaper reading group in The Deptford Lounge called Papers at the Lounge.

This is for anyone who likes discussing what’s in the news, or who has an opinion on current events. But it’s also for those who have no idea what’s happening in the world and want know more.

Once a month the things discussed can also be used to inspire the Storylines show.

At Papers at the Lounge there will also be tea, coffee and the chance of a good old natter.

For ten years, Ampersand have been developing new ways of creating theatre using contemporary stories as their basis. In the past they have created one-on-one performances at BAC where audiences met characters inspired by that mornings news, and toured A Different Place throughout the UK; looking at how asylum seekers can come to terms with what they have fled from.

Performance Dates: March 6, April 3, May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7 and September 4, 2015. The open devising will take place from 9am until 6pm. A performance will then take place at 7.30pm.

Papers at the Lounge will run from 9.30 to 11.30 on all the above days, and also on March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17 and August 21.

The Deptford Lounge, 9 Giffin Street, Deptford, SE8 4RJ

The Picture of Dorian Gray - St James Studio, Greenwich Theatre and on tour

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

EUROPEAN Arts Company (The Trials of Oscar Wilde) is presenting a UK tour of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Adapted by Merlin Holland (Wilde’s grandson) and John O’Connor, the production will visit 42 venues from April 8 to June 20, 2015, culminating in a week long residency at London’s St James Studio (June 15 to June 20). On June 20, it will be exactly 125 years since Wilde’s only novel was published.

Along the way,The Picture of Dorian Gray will visit Greenwich Theatre (May 29 to May 31).

The Picture of Dorian Gray is set in the decadent world of Victorian London. A beautiful, narcissistic young man becomes infatuated by the exquisite portrait that Basil Hallward has painted of him. He makes a Faustian pact that he will remain forever young while the picture grows old.

Combining drawing-room comedy and gothic horror, this is described as a gripping and hugely entertaining theatrical event that showcases Wilde’s remarkable talent.

The cast includes Guy Warren-Thomas (Spooks, The Greater Good, Downton Abbey) as Dorian Gray; Gwynfor Jones (The Woman In Black, West End, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Oldham Coliseum) as Lord Henry; Rupert Mason (EastEnders, A Touch of Frost and most recently The Trails of Oscar Wilde for EAC) as Basil Hallward; and Helen Keeley (The Importance of Being Earnest, London Classic Theatre, To The End, Southwark Playhouse) as Sybil Vane.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is directed by Peter Craze (Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven), with lighting design by Duncan Hands and set and costume design by Dora Schweitzer.

For full tour dates visit www.europeanarts.co.uk/.

Blush of Dogs - Tabard Theatre

Blush of Dogs

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FRAGEN Theatre Company (Planter’s Island) is presenting Blush of Dogs at the Tabard Theatre. An unorthodox exploration of politics, freedom and family adapted from ancient myth, it runs from April 7 to April 25, 2015.

After years of vicious civil war, a small city state half way across the world rebuilds itself in the ashes. Love and betrayal, fear and failure intertwine in a world of bankrupt royalty.

Adapting their work from the ancient Greek story of Thyestes, Fragen Theatre Company produces a bold, physical and provocative piece that engages at close quarters with sensitive and relevant political issues.

Blush of Dogs is inspired by contemporary life, human relationships and questions of interaction, accountability and leadership. At its core it is a play about freedom and the conflicts between incompatible ideas of freedom, seen through the prism of a family torn apart by fear, repression and the neglect of responsibility, approached with naivety, slapstick humour and compassion.

Writer and director Roland Reynolds said: “It’s a real pleasure to be playing at the Tabard Theatre. They are a venue open to unorthodox, political and dangerous theatre that aspires to inspire change. Our aim is to create a dreamlike, anarchic but coherent world that reflects the world we love and fear.

“We blend myth and reality to generate recognisable stories in a totally alien environment. We don’t pretend to have any answers to the world’s questions and problems that we want to broadcast through our work. We simply begin with the questions and problems and see where they lead us.”

Performed by Anna Procter, Ben Alderton and Mike Corsale, Blush of Dogs is designed by Isabella Van Braeckel and has lighting by Alex Hopkins.

Blush of Dogs is suitable for ages 15+.

Tickets: £17, £15 concessions – available from the box office on 020 8995 6035 or online at tabardtheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Also at the Tabard Theatre: Alan Ayckbourn’s Time of My Life (until March 28) and Playmakers Festival 2015 (March 30 to April 4, 2015).

The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) - Lost Theatre and on tour

Reduced Shakespeare Company

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a hugely successful, critically acclaimed season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014, the Reduced Shakespeare Company is touring the UK this spring and summer with The Complete History of Comedy (abridged).

Covering comedy through the ages, from Aristophanes and Shakespeare to Vaudeville and Charlie Chaplin, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) will visit Wandworth’s Lost Theatre on May 24, 2015.

According to press material, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) is far more affordable than tickets to an amusement park, but you’ll still come away with the same feeling of nausea and motion sickness. From cavemen telling “Rock Rock” jokes to Chris Rock and everything in-between, the Company leave no joke untold as they deconstruct the entire history of comedy in 90 rollicking minutes.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a three-man comedy troupe that takes long, serious subjects and reduces them to short, sharp comedies.

Since 1981, ‘The Bad Boys of Abridgement’ have created nine stage shows, two television specials, several failed TV pilots and numerous radio pieces.

The company’s first three shows, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) enjoyed a nine-year run at the West End’s Criterion Theatre.

For the full tour schedule visit www.reducedshakespeare.com/tour.

Casting announced for the Almeida's Carmen Disruption

Almeida Theatre

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for the UK premiere of Carmen Disruption, by Simon Stephens, which runs at the Almeida Theatre from April 10 to May 23, 2015.

The line up includes Olivier Award-winning Noma Dumezweni (A Raisin in the Sun, Young Vic at the Lyric Hammersmith/tour, Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Shakespeare’s Globe); John Light (Taken At Midnight, Chichester Festival Theatre/Theatre Royal Haymarket, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s Globe); and Jack Farthing (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Helen, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe).

They are joined by Sharon Small (Death in Paradise, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, TV, The Arden of Faversham, RSC, Men Should Weep and The London Cuckolds, National Theatre), making her Almeida debut, and mezzo-soprano Viktoria Vizin (Carmen, Budapest/Gent/Antwerpen/New York).

Completing the cast are Katie West (Hamlet, Blind-Sided and Blithe Spirit, Royal Exchange, Manchester), Jamie Cameron (Once, Phoenix Theatre, The Ritual, National Theatre) and Harry Napier (Macbeth, Arcola Theatre, Dr Faustus, Shakespeare’s Globe).

Described as a strange and beautiful new play, Carmen Disruption reimagines Bizet’s opera Carmen and the possibility of love in a fractured urban world.

Carmen Disruption is directed by Michael Longhurst and designed by Lizzie Clachan, with lighting by Jack Knowles, sound by Carolyn Downing and movement direction by Imogen Knight. The composer is Simon Slater.

Sweeney Todd - final casting and extra performance announced

Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson

Casting news

DUE TO unprecedented public demand, an extra performance has been scheduled for Lonny Price’s production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Musical Thriller at the London Coliseum – on Sunday, April 5, 2015, at 3pm.

Tickets for the extra performance, including 300 seats at £10 each, went on sale today (March 3, 2015) at 10am.

Sales for the production, which runs from March 30 (press night March 31) to April 12, 2015, broke English National Opera box office records last September and the few remaining seats for performances from March 30 are available through the box office.

Joining Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson who will lead the cast as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett are Matthew Seadon-Young (as Anthony Hope), Katie Hall (Johanna Barker), Philip Quast (Judge Turpin), Jack North (Tobias Ragg), Alex Gaumond (Beadle Bamford), Rosalie Craig (Beggar Woman) and John Owen-Jones (Pirelli).

Ensemble members are Madeleine Harland, Lydia Gerrard, Leah Penston, Frankie Jenna, Verity Quade, Susannah Van den Berg, Anna O’Byrne, Molly Lynch, Emily Bull, Gaia Wise, Alexandra Grierson, Vicki Lee Taylor, Katie Kerr, Ffion Emyr, Nancy Hill, Edd Campbell Bird, Alastair Brookshaw, Kane Oliver Parry, Scott Cripps, John Barr, Aaron Lee Lambert, Gary Tushaw, Ashley Robinson, Jeff Nicholson, Joseph Prouse, Gavin James, Marc Akinfolarin, Jacob Chapman, Ian Caddick and Adam Vaughan.

The ENO orchestra, conducted by David Charles Abell, will appear on stage with the cast in this semi-staged production which was originally produced by the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts last year, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.

Set in Victorian London, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street tells the story of the eponymous barber who seeks vengeance on what he sees as a merciless world by murdering his customers and, with the help of his landlady, the romantically inclined Mrs. Lovett, bakes their bodies into meat pies, which are fed to London’s avid and unknowing populace.

Sondheim’s score pays homage to the music of Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, with ighlights including The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, Not While I’m Around, A Little Priest and Pretty Women.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler from an adaptation by Christopher Bond, Sweeney Todd received its world premiere at the Uris Theatre on Broadway in March 1979, directed by Harold Prince and starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. The show received eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, as well as eleven Drama Desk Awards and the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.

Tickets: £10 – £125, with 300 seats available at £10 for every performance. To book, call the box office on 020 7845 9300 or visit www.eno.org/whats-on/sweeney-todd-the-demon-barber-of-fleet-street.

Day seats: 55 seats from £10 each across the house for every performance will be released at the Box Office for purchase in person on the day of performance at 10am.

Times: 7.30pm, plus 2.30pm on April 4 and April 11. There are also two Sunday performances – on April 5 and April 12 at 3pm.

Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

Read more about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

All-male The Pirates of Penzance - Richmond Theatre and on tour

Previous cast of The Pirates of Penzance. Photo credit: Kay Young.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ORIGINALLY seen at the Union Theatre in 2009, Sasha Regan’s acclaimed all-male production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance will return for its first UK Tour, opening at Richmond Theatre on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, with a press night on Thursday, April 16.

A classic musical comedy of mistaken identity, The Pirates of Penzance follows young Frederic, a child apprenticed to a band of tender-hearted, orphaned pirates exploring the coastline in search of treasure and romance.

The Pirates of Penzance first opened in 1879 and was an immediate triumph for Gilbert and Sullivan, remaining to this day their most popular and successful collaboration. Described as a fresh and exquisitely funny re-imagining of this much-loved classic, Sasha Regan’s critically acclaimed all-male production is now set to tour the UK.

The cast features Alan Richardson (as Mabel), Samuel Nunn (Frederic), Alex Weatherhill (Ruth), James Waud (Sergeant of Police), Michael Burgen (Samuel), Ben Irish (Edith), Dale Page (Kate), Richard Russell Edwards (Connie) and Chris Theo-Cook (Isabel).

The ensemble company is completed by Joel Elferink, Joseph Houston, William Whelton, Matt Jolly, Tommy Knapp, Liam Lakin and Thomas Henson.

For 15 years, director Sasha Regan has been Artistic Director of the Union Theatre, where her directing credits include Sweeney Todd, Iolanthe, HMS Pinafore, Whistle Down The Wind, Cabaret and Love Story.

The Pirates of Penzance is choreographed by Lizzi Gee, whose recent work includes the BAFTA award-winning film Pride, the UK Tour of Annie Get Your Gun, A Winter’s Tale for the RSC and Rocket to the Moon at the National Theatre. She is currently working on The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas for Chichester Festival Theatre.

Produced by Regan De Wynter and Hilary A. Williams, The Pirates of Penzance has musical direction by David Griffiths, design by Robyn Wilson Owen and lighting by Jack Weir.

From its humble beginnings playing to 50 people under a railway arch at the Union Theatre in Southwark, The Pirates of Penzance went on to win the 2010 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Off West End Production, and play sell-out runs at Wilton’s Music Hall and Hackney Empire, before heading to Australia for a major national tour.

This revival of The Pirates of Penzance falls in the 15th Anniversary year for The Union Theatre, a year which will also see the theatre transfer to a brand new, purpose-built 100-seat space across the road in Southwark. The Union Theatre has developed an extraordinary reputation for reimagining musicals on the small scale, and is becoming known for its all-male productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, with HMS Pinafore also being re-imagined in 2013 to great acclaim.

Following the Richmond dates (April 15 – 18), the tour will continue to Winchester Theatre Royal (April 20 – 25), Bath Theatre Royal (April 27 – May 2), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford (May 4 – 9), East Riding Theatre (May 19 and 20), The Spa, Bridlington (May 21 – 23), Theatre Royal, Brighton (May 26 – 30), Northcott Theatre, Exeter (June 2 – 6) and Hackney Empire (June 24 – 28).

Mel Brooks Live in London for one night only

Mel Brooks. Photo credit: Michael Lamont.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MEL BROOKS Live in London, a Brooksfilms Limited and Corniche Pictures event, will be a special one-night only event on Sunday, March 22, 2015 (7.30pm) at The Prince of Wales Theatre.

American comedy legend Mel Brooks will take the stage for his first-ever solo show in the UK; a show filled with childhood memories, Hollywood history, unforgettable live music and uproarious laughter. As Brooks himself explained:

“I am thrilled to bring this introspective retrospective of my life and career to the West End stage. It will be an evening the audience will never forget – whether they want to or not!”

Tickets will be available from Tuesday, March 3 via www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk or 0844 482 5115.

Mel Brooks is in an elite group as one of the few entertainers to earn all four major American entertainment prizes – the Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar. His career began in television writing for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows and together with Buck Henry creating the long running TV series Get Smart. He then teamed up with Carl Reiner to write and perform the Grammy-winning 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and books.

Brooks won his first Oscar in 1964 for writing and narrating the animated short The Critic. His second, for the screenplay of his first feature film The Producers came in 1968. Many hit comedy films followed including The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, To Be or Not to Be, Spaceballs, Life Stinks, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

His film production company, Brooksfilms Limited, also produced critically acclaimed films such as The Elephant Man, The Fly, Frances, My Favorite Year and 84 Charring Cross Road. And for three successive seasons, 1997-1999, Brooks won Emmy Awards for his role as “Uncle Phil” on the hit sitcom Mad About You.

He also received three 2001 Tony Awards and two Grammy Awards for The Producers: the New Mel Brooks Musical, which ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2006. Overall the show received 12 Tony Awards and The Producers still holds the record for the most Tony Awards ever won by a Broadway musical. He followed that success with The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, which ran on Broadway from 2007 to 2009. Both musicals continue to be performed and enjoyed by audiences all over the world.

In 2009, President Barack Obama presented Mel Brooks with The Kennedy Center Honors, recognizing a lifetime of extraordinary contributions to American culture.

Hani Farsi and Corniche Pictures have produced critically acclaimed feature length films and documentaries over the last eight years as well as developing projects for TV and theatre. Projects such as 20,000 Days on Earth, the documentary about Nick Cave, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist were Executive Produced by Hani Farsi, who said:

“I have been a Mel Brooks fan all of my life and his incredible career is something that I have personally celebrated for many years. Being able to co-produce his London show gives me the opportunity to celebrate with him and the people of London. It will be an amazing night and one not to be missed.”

Written by Mel Brooks, Mel Brooks Live in London is a Brooksfilms Limited and Corniche Pictures Production; executive producers are Mel Brooks and Hani Farsi; and producers are Kevin Salter and Alex Dunnett.

Image: Mel Brooks photographed by Michael Lamont.