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Cast announced for Picasso, The Playground Theatre's opening production

Casting news

THE cast has been announced for Picasso. The opening production at The Playground Theatre in West London’s Ladbroke Grove, it runs from November 7 (previews from November 1) to November 25, 2017.

The line up includes Peter Tate, founder of The Playground Theatre, as the eponymous Spanish artist and Adele Oni (Girl – dem, Criterion Theatre, “Sublime”, Tristan Bates Theatre) as Picasso’s lover, French philanthropist, film maker and model Genivieve Laporte.

The production also stars Claire Bowman (Cousins, Soho Theatre, Spring Storm, North Wall Arts Centre) as Marie Therese Walter, the artist’s model and long time mistress; and Spanish actress Alejandra Costa (Constellations, Courtyard Theatre) as Jacqueline Roque, his enigmatic last muse.

Filmed inserts will feature Italian film actress Sandra Collodel as Picasso’s lover Dora Maar, fellow Italian TV star Margot Sikabonyi as Marie Therese Walter and Russian ballet dancer and stage, television and film actress Milena Vukotic as Picasso’s first wife Olga Khokhlova.

The Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker and poet’s impact on twentieth century Western culture is immeasurable. For Pablo Picasso, art and creativity were etched into the soul. It was his reason to be. Yet, he was also driven by his relationship with women. Picasso was notorious for having many lovers, but his artworks depicting those women are among his most revered paintings.

Terry D’Alfonso’s work explores five of his most significant relationships, all of which had a great effect on his life and work. What emerges is a revealing portrait of the greatest artist of the twentieth century, his unremitting and unshakeable creative drive and his passionate life and loves.

Read more about Picasso.

Meera Syal to play Miss Hannigan in the West End production of Annie

Meera Syal (Miss Hannigan)

Casting news

FROM November 27, 2017 until the show Annie completes its run at the Piccadilly Theatre on February 18, 2018, Meera Syal will play the role of Miss Hannigan.

Nikolai Foster’s West End production opened in May this year with Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan, while just last month Craig Revel Horwood joined the Company to play the role.

Following the conclusion of the West End run Annie will embark on a five week visit to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.

British comedian, actor and writer Meera Syal was last on stage earlier this year in a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) at the Royal Court Theatre where her previous credits include Serious Money and The Great Celestial Cow.

Her other theatre credits include Romeo & Juliet (Garrick Theatre), Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Rafta Rafta (National Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Killing of Sister George (Arts Theatre), Shirley Valentine (Menier Chocolate Factory), Bombay Dreams (Apollo Victoria Theatre), My Girl (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Goodness Gracious Me (on tour).

Although on television she is best known for her work in the BBC’s comedy series The Kumars at No. 42 and Goodness Gracious Me, she has also appeared in Midsomer Murders, Broadchurch, The Boy in the Dress, Silk, Bollywood Carmen, Doctor Who, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, The Secretary Who Stole £4 Million, Linda Green and Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.

Her film credits include Absolutely Anything, Desert Flower, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Beautiful Thing, It’s Not Unusual as well as the forthcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. As a writer, her work includes My Sister Wife and Anita & Me. Syal was made an MBE in 1997 and a CBE in 2015.

Ruby Stokes (Annie) and Amber (Sandy) in Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre. Photo credit: Paul Coltas.

The West End Company of Annie also includes Alex Bourne (as Daddy Warbucks), Holly Dale Spencer (Grace Farrell), Jonny Fines (Rooster) and Djalenga Scott (Lily). The title role of Annie is shared by Madeleine Haynes, Lola Moxom and Ruby Stokes. They are joined by three teams of young performers who play the girls in Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Amber, a 4 year-old Labradoodle, plays Annie’s dog Sandy.

Completing the adult company are Russell Wilcox, Bobby Delaney, Keisha Atwell, Sophie Ayers, Nic Gibney, Patrick Harper, Ben Harrold, George Ioannides, Megan Louch, Benjamin Mundy, Ben Oliver, Heather Scott-Martin, Anne Smith, Kate Somerset How and Katie Warsop.

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family…

Image (top): Meera Syal (Miss Hannigan).

Image (bottom): Ruby Stokes (Annie) and Amber (Sandy) in Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre. Photo credit: Paul Coltas.

Joe Stilgoe’s Christmas at the Lyric - special guests announced

Joe Stilgoe at the Lyric. Photo by S Rylander.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SPECIAL guests have been announced for Joe Stilgoe’s Christmas at the Lyric concerts – Joe Stilgoe and His Mighty Big Band on Monday, December 4, Joe Stilgoe’s Christmas Party on Monday, December 11 and Joe Stilgoe’s White Christmas on Monday, December 18, 2017.

Jamie Parker (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Guys and Dolls, High Society, The History Boys) and other celebrity guests will join Joe and his band for London’s best Christmas Party on December 11.

And Katherine Kingsley (Olivier nominated for Singin’ in the Rain), Anna-Jane Casey (Billy Elliott, Annie Get Your Gun, Chicago, Spamalot), and Peter Horsfall (Kansas Smitty’s) will join Joe on December 18 for Joe’s take on Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas.

Joe Stilgoe has twice topped the UK jazz chart, been featured on countless radio programmes for Radio 2, 3 and 4, presented on BBC4, Radio 2 and JazzFM, has written award-winning songs, starred in The Old Vic’s 2015 production of High Society, and has an established international concert career, collaborating with John Wilson, Curtis Stigers, Claire Martin, the RLPO and BBC Concert Orchestra among many others.

He has had sell out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and is a regular favourite at the world-famous home of jazz, Ronnie Scotts.

Image: Joe Stilgoe at the Lyric. Photo by Scott Rylander.

Full casting announced for the Lyric Hammersmith's Jack and the Beanstalk

L-R: Faith Omole (Jack) and Vikki Stone (Fleshcreep). Photo by Jay Brooks.

Casting news

FULL casting has been announced for the Lyric Hammersmith’s Christmas panto Jack and the Beanstalk, which runs from November 25, 2017 (previews from November 18) to January 6, 2018.

Joining previously announced Kayla Meikle as Daisy the Cow, Faith Omole as Jack, Cherrelle Skeete as Fairy Cucumber and Vikki Stone as Fleshcreep are Daniel Fraser as Jill and Kraig Thornber as Dame Lotte Trottalot.

Daniel Fraser’s theatre credits include Deny, Deny, Deny (Park Theatre); Flare Path (UK Tour); Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies (RSC/Aldwych Theatre); Chariots of Fire (also Gielgud Theatre) and Noctropia (Hampstead Theatre); Oh, To Be in England (Finborough Theatre) and Orpheus: The Mythical (Royal Opera House).

His screen work includes Doctors, Holby City, Ready When You Are Mr McGill, Frequencies, Scar Tissue, AFG, The Manual and Lab Rats.

Kraig Thornber’s numerous theatre credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); Guys and Dolls, Oh! What a Lovely War, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (National Theatre); Return to the Forbidden Planet (Cambridge Theatre); The Rocky Horror Show (Duke of York’s Theatre); Brassed Off (UK Tour); The Government Inspector (Northern Broadsides); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch); The Mikado, A Christmas Carol (Stephen Joseph Theatre); and Little Shop of Horrors, Mary Poppins (UK Tour).

Thornber has also appeared in many pantomimes around the country, playing a wonderful selection of Baddies, Ugly Sisters and Dames.

Read more about Jack and the Beanstalk.

Dreamgirls extends as new cast announced

From L - R: Moya Angela, Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav.

Casting news

SONIA Friedman Productions has announced that the UK premiere of Dreamgirls, which opened last December at the Savoy Theatre to widespread critical acclaim, has extended booking through to June 2, 2018.

From November 20, 2017, Moya Angela will join Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav to play the iconic role of Effie White. The three power-house actresses will all share the role at different performances throughout the week.

Asmeret Ghebremichael will continue to play Lorrell Robinson, with Joe Aaron Reid continuing in the role of Curtis Taylor Jr. Joining them will be Broadway actress Brennyn Lark as Deena Jones, Tosh Wanogho-Maud as Jimmy Early, Durone Stokes as C.C. White, Delroy Brown as Marty and Kimmy Edwards as Michelle Morris.

Established star of Broadway Marisha Wallace joined the London cast of Dreamgirls earlier this year having received rave reviews in the role of Effie White in the Dallas Theater Center production. On Broadway, she has originated roles in Disney’s Aladdin and Something Rotten! and toured the US in The Book of Mormon.

Electric vocalist Moya Angela has been a respected musical theatre actress in the US for many years, receiving great acclaim playing Effie White in the North American revival tour of Dreamgirls, touring with Disney’s The Lion King and being part of the original Broadway casts of Ghost the Musical and most recently In Transit. She wowed judges and audiences when she auditioned for the 2016 series of America’s Got Talent, reaching the quarterfinal stages.

Karen Mav has been thrilling audiences in Dreamgirls since making her professional stage debut in the production last year. She quickly made a name for herself on ITV’s The X Factor, successfully making it through to the notorious Six Chair Challenge before going on to release an original Christmas single in 2015.

Producer Sonia Friedman said: “The thrill of Dreamgirls is to experience the brilliance of the human voice. Effie White is arguably the biggest sing in musical theatre history, which is why we have cast three extraordinary vocalists to play this iconic role. Audiences experience goosebumps and tingles when they hear the fantastic songs in this show, sung by the very greatest singers on this planet, and each of these three actresses put goosebumps on top of goosebumps – London theatregoers are extremely lucky and privileged to have the chance to witness their rare and awe inspiring talents.”

The cast of Dreamgirls will also include Michael Afemaré, Callum Aylott, Georgia Bradshaw, Jabari Braham, Ashford Campbell, Sanchia Amber Clarke, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Nicole Deon, Rhiane Drummond, Ashlee Irish, Emma Louise Jones, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Samira Mighty, Jayde Nelson, Aston New, Sean Parkins, Kirk Patterson, Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton, Ryan Reid, Rohan Richards and Joshua Robinson.

Image: From L – R: Moya Angela, Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav.

tutti frutti’s Ugly Duckling comes to the Albany for Christmas

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WRITTEN by Emma Reeves and directed by Wendy Harris, tutti frutti’s Ugly Duckling runs at the Albany from Monday, December 4 to Sunday, December 31, 2017.

Moving through all four seasons, tutti futti and York Theatre Royal bring to life Hans Christian Andersen’s well known tale. With inventive physicality and live music, this charming production plays with the importance of identity, self-worth and takes audiences on a journey to discover inner beauty.

Meet the most unusual duckling the pond has ever seen! In their nest at the edge of a pond, the baby ducklings wait impatiently for mummy’s enormous egg to hatch. But their new brother doesn’t look like everyone else. He doesn’t even quack like a proper duckling!

Teased and called Ugly by his siblings, our hero goes on an adventure in search of a place to fit in. As the woodland trees change from dark weathered branches to silver sticks of frost, the lost and lonely fledgling hides in brushwood and stares skyward at the migrating swans, yearning to belong and marvelling at their beauty.

tutti frutti is a national touring theatre company creating high quality work for children and their families to enjoy. Based in Leeds, tutti frutti has been delighting children aged three and over for more than 25 years and tours nationally and internationally to schools, venues, arts centres and village halls.

For over 10 years, tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal have enjoyed a creative and fruitful partnership co-producing many shows together. Earlier this year, tutti frutti’s acclaimed production WiLd! was showcased at the prestigious International Performing Arts Youth (IPAY) Showcase in Madison, USA.

Ugly Duckling is directed by tutti frutti’s Artistic Director Wendy Harris, with design by Catherine Chapman, movement from Holly Irving, music by Tayo Akinbode and puppeteering by Nick Ash. The cast will feature Danny Childs, Daniel Naddafy and Maeve Leahy.

In 2014, playwright Emma Reeves adapted Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather for the stage and it was subsequently nominated in the Best Entertainment and Family category at the 2015 Olivier Awards. Reeves has also written some episodes for the forthcoming television version of the story. Her other stage adaptations include Carrie’s War, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Cool Hand Luke. She also co-created and wrote the hit CBBC series Eve.

Reeves other TV credits include The Dumping Ground, Tracy Beaker Returns, Young Dracula and Sadie J. In 2016, she won Best Children’s TV Episode for Eve: Final Episode – Control, Alter, Delete at the Writer’s Guild Awards.

York Theatre Royal is committed to supporting and presenting work for children and family audiences. Recent co-productions with tutti frutti include The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Princess and the Pea, Snow Child and Underneath a Magical Moon.

Ugly Duckling is suitable for ages 3+.

Tickets: £12, £8 concessions, £34 family ticket (2 adult and 2 children’s tickets or 1 adult and 3 children’s tickets). £8 for groups of 10 or more (plus every 11th ticket free).

Times: Vary – check website for details.

BSL interpreted performance: Friday, December 8 at 10.30am.

Relaxed performance: Friday, December 8 at 1pm.

Park Theatre's new season includes A Passage to India and Rothschild & Sons

Season preview

ARTISTIC Director Jez Bond has announced Park Theatre’s new January to June 2018 season. Featuring five world, European, UK and London premiere productions, Park Theatre continues to build its reputation as a home for new writing and celebrated transfers.

Jez Bond said: “I’m thrilled to be announcing our season for the first half of 2018. In PARK200 we are working with some of the best theatres and producers from across the UK and beyond, from Chichester Festival Theatre to Broadway, bringing world class productions to our stages; as well as producing our next show from America, the politically timely Building The Wall.

“As ever we’re full to the brim with a majority of new writing premieres in both PARK200 and PARK90. PARK90 celebrates our passion for women on stage and off: with women’s stories and journeys at the heart, and a prevalence of women writers, producers and directors.”

PARK200

The UK premiere of the musical Rothschild & Sons (January 24 to February 17) opens the new season in PARK200, with Broadway songwriters Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (Fiddler On The Roof) charting the Rothschild family’s rise from poverty to a global banking dynasty with new, never-before-heard songs.

A Passage to India follows (February 20 to March 24), as part of an international adaptation of E. M. Forster’s seminal novel set in Imperial India, re-imagined for a contemporary Britain by simple8.

Written by and starring David Haig, Pressure (March 28 to April 28) is the incredible true story of two allied meteorologists tasked with predicting the perfect weather conditions for General Eisenhower’s D-Day landings in 1944.

For the European premiere of Building The Wall (May 2 to June 2) from Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, Jez Bond directs this political thriller that has already taken America by storm, exploring how the inconceivable can become the inevitable.

The world premiere of Monogamy (June 6 to July 7) closes the PARK200 season, a new comedy by Torben Betts about living a private life in the public eye.

PARK90

There or Here (January 23 to February 17) opens the new PARK90 season, in the UK premiere production of a new American comedy about outsourcing motherhood, from the producer of Yellow Face (Park Theatre/National Theatre transfer).

The London premiere of A Princess Undone (February 20 to March 17) is a play inspired by actual events around sensational and potentially damaging royal letters acquired by Princess Margaret.

A revival of Philip Ridley’s modern classic exploring hate crime follows, as Robert Chevara directs Vincent River (March 20 to April 14).

Inspired by a real court case in the USA, a Chicago teenager is arrested for terrorist collusions when she converts from Christianity to Islam, and is tried by a practicing Muslim, in the UK premiere of Faceless (April 17 to May 12).

Next is a revival of Schism (May 16 to June 9) from the lauded playwright and activist Athena Stevens, which charts the unlikely love that forms when Harrison’s suicide plans are dashed by the arrival of a young student with cerebral palsy.

Closing the new season in PARK90, Beirut (June 12 to July 7) explores a fleeting encounter between two lovers, now divided by a quarantine enforced to protect a future society from a terrifying Sexually Transmitted Disease.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Young Frankenstein extends run at the Garrick Theatre

Casting news

JUST a week after opening, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein has extended its run at the Garrick Theatre until September 29, 2018.

Previously Posted: Ross Noble, Lesley Joseph and Hadley Fraser will lead the cast of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, the classic comedy musical based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit movie, which opens at the Garrick Theatre on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, following preview performances from Thursday, September 28.

They will be joined by Dianne Pilkington (Wicked), Summer Strallen (Top Hat, The Sound of Music) and Patrick Clancy (The Producers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).

Hadley Fraser will play the title role of Dr Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and immortalised by Gene Wilder in the 1974 movie. Hadley’s widely acclaimed stage credits include playing both Marius and Javert in Les Miserables; The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre; and Coriolanus (opposite Tom Hiddleston), City of Angels, The Vote and Saint Joan (Donmar Warehouse).

Ross Noble will play the hilarious role of the hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant Igor. A stand-up comedian since the age of 15, Noble’s countless accolades include Time Out award winner for best live stand-up, Barry Award winner, Perrier Award nominee and several Chortle Awards. Unveiling a new sell-out show every year for the last 20 years, he is one of the most successful comedians of our time exuding an on-stage presence unlike any other.

Noble’s worldwide travel as a stand-up was the subject of his own BBC Radio 4 programmes, Ross Noble Goes Global and Ross Noble On. He is a regular guest star on TV programmes including Live at the Apollo, QI, Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, and he has made 19 appearances on Have I Got News for You.

Lesley Joseph will play Frau Blucher, the forbidding housekeeper to the Frankenstein family estate in Transylvania. Joseph is best known for playing Dorien Green, the neighbour from hell, in the sitcom Birds of a Feather. Having recorded over one hundred episodes, Dorien became a national institution, with the show watched at its height by 23 million people.

Joseph has a wealth of theatrical experience to her credit; most recently in the 2016 UK tour of Annie, in which she played the role of Miss Hannigan. In 2016, she donned her dancing shoes and sequinned dresses as one of the contestants in Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Anton du Beke.

The company will also include Imogen Brooke, Matt Crandon, Nathan Elwick, Kelly Ewins-Prouse, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Sammy Kelly, Richard Pitt, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Gemma Scholes, Emily Squibb, Aron Wild and Josh Wilmott.

Described as a wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic, Young Frankenstein sees Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherit a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his deranged genius grandfather, Victor Von Frankenstein. He now faces a dilemma – does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga?

Based on the hilarious 1974 film and co-written with Thomas Meehan, Brooks will once again collaborate with Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman for this all-singing all-dancing new production.

Read more about Young Frankenstein.

The Miser continues at the Garrick Theatre until June 3, 2017.

Mischief Theatre bring Mischief Movie Night to the Arts Theatre for Christmas

Mischief Movie Night

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MISCHIEF Theatre, the award-winning company behind The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, are returning to the West End with Mischief Movie Night.

An improvised movie live on stage, Mischief Movie Night will play at the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited season – from December 13, 2017 to January 27, 2018.

Returning to their comedy roots, Mischief Theatre will bring the audiences’ genre, location and title suggestions to life complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors’ cuts and a live score.

The cast includes Josh Elliot as Not Sure, Dave Hearn as Uncertain, Harry Kershaw as No Idea, Henry Lewis as Don’t Know Yet, Ellie Morris as Couldn’t Tell You, Charlie Russell as TBC, Jonathan Sayer as Who Knows and Henry Shields as Guess Who. They will be joined onstage by musicians Chris Ash and Richard Baker.

Further casting will be announced in due course.

Mischief Movie Night is created by Mischief Theatre, with set designs by Tony Award-winning Nigel Hook and lighting by David Howe. Adam Meggido is the improvisation consultant.

Mischief Movie Night is produced in the West End by Kenny Wax Ltd, Stage Presence Ltd and Mischief Theatre Ltd.

Mischief Theatre was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and began as an improvised comedy group. Mischief Theatre performs across the UK and internationally with improvised and original scripted work.

This Christmas, Mischief Theatre will have three shows running in the West End. Their Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of The Play That Goes Wrong is currently at the Duchess Theatre and running on Broadway; it will also complete a UK tour from January 2018. Their other production The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is currently at the Criterion Theatre.

The company is led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.

Age guideline: 12A.

Tickets: from £17.50 – available from the box office on 020 7836 8463 or online at mischieftheatre.co.uk/shows/mischief-movie-night.

The Toxic Avenger The Musical continues at the Arts Theatre until December 3, 2017.

Chickenshed’s Autumn Half Term workshops for children aged 5 – 11 years

CHICKENSHED’S Half Term Workshops are called Play in a Day and over the course of an enjoyable day, children will participate in story-making, dancing, drama, singing and play.

The children will work together in the morning to develop creative ideas that will then be developed in the afternoon – ending the day with a sharing of a short performance.

The workshops are on Monday, October 23, Tuesday, October 24 and Wednesday, October 25 from 10am – 4pm. Parents, carers and friends will be invited into the space at 3.45pm to share the days creation.

Children can come to all three days or to a single day. The price is £32 each day and siblings will have a 50% reduction.

To book, call 020 8292 9222, email bookings@chickenshed.org.uk or visit www.chickenshed.org.uk/.

Venue: Osidge Primary School, 199 Chase Side, London, N14 5JA

Also at Chickenshed: Tales from the Shed (until October 28) and Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (until October 21, 2017).