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The Playground Theatre celebrates its first Christmas with a new staging of The Little Prince

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Playground Theatre has announced its first Christmas show. The world premiere of a new stage production of the much-loved French children’s novella The Little Prince, it runs from December 15, 2017 to January 7, 2018.

You can only see clearly with your heart. The most important things are invisible to the eyes.

When a pilot crashes his plane in the Sahara Desert, he meets the little prince who has left his home on Asteroid B612 to take a journey across the universe in order to understand how to love his rose. Caught between life and death, together they discover the secret of faith, friendship and the fragility of the human heart.

Written by pioneering pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince tells an extraordinary tale about childhood, friendship, love, loss and faith. The novella is the second most widely translated book after the Bible. It has been translated into 300 languages and dialects and, in France, it has been voted the best book of the 20th Century.

Saint-Exupéry who had many near-fatal air crashes himself, including one in the Libyan desert, disappeared during a reconnaissance flight for the Allied Forces in 1944. Many years later, his plane was found in the Mediterranean Sea. It is believed that he was shot down.

In this new translation by Ros and Chloe Schwartz, The Little Prince is directed and performed by London based German actor/director Martin Oelbermann. Employing a minimalist approach, some circus skills and physical theatre, the work invites its audience to stay true to their childhood dreams and to carefully protect the inner child. It is a passionate call to nurture a child’s talent and a reminder of how we are all more in need of praise for trying rather than for succeeding.

Martin Oelbermann was recently seen as Swiss wizarding ambassador Heinrich Eberstadt in David Yates’ feature film adaptation of J K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and on stage in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood at Jermyn Street Theatre, in a collaboration with then Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.

Throughout his career, Oelbermann has worked mostly with narrative and poetic text such as Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare, The Iliad by Homer, Tristan and Isolde by Gottfried von Strassburg, Maud by Alfred Tennyson, Women as Lovers by Elfriede Jelinek, The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank, the journals of holocaust survivor Victor Klemperer and the poetry of Ossip Mandelstan, to name but a few.

Oelbermann has also worked extensively in youth theatre, staging a number of musicals, jazz and youth operas, in co-productions with Clara-Schuman-Conservatoire in Düsseldorf.

The Little Prince has set and costume design by Alison Neighbour and video design by Adam Lansberry.

The Little Prince is the second production at The Playground Theatre in Ladbroke Grove following Picasso by Terry D’Alfonso, which opens in early November.

Three new productions for Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

Season preview

HAMPSTEAD Theatre has announced three new Hampstead Downstairs productions and they include works from two debut playwrights – Georgia Christou with her new play Yous Two and Ella Road with her new play The Phlebotomist.

Meanwhile Amy Ng debuts her second play Acceptance following her debut at Finborough Theatre.

The season opens with Georgia Christou’s Yous Two, which runs from January 18 to February 24, 2018.

You’re always gonna turn into one of your parents aren’t you, it’s basically about choosing the one who’s slightly less mental.

Fifteen year old Billie has lived with her Dad in their little flat for as long as she can remember, but all that’s about to change. She’s got big plans – get Dad a job, sort out her grades, and live in a house with five bathrooms.

But one reckless night threatens to undo all her hard work and derail her ambitions…When it’s always been just the two of you, how easy is it to get out, or to let anyone else in?

Yous Two is a moving portrayal of the conflict between personal aspiration and familial responsibility, and what happens when those you should depend on need you more than you need them.

Yous Two is directed by Chelsea Walker, who returns to Hampstead having been the assistant director for Mike Bartlett’s Wild last year.

Yous Two is followed – from March 2 to April 7 – by Amy Ng’s Acceptance.

We’re supposed to be assessing their potential as college students, not conducting a quasi-criminal investigation.

A prodigiously talented young musician, an Ivy League school, a life changing allegation.

Out of 37,451 applicants to Eliot University, Angela stands out – but not for the right reasons. An ambiguous event in her past threatens to overshadow her talent, potential, and her future prospects. Can she overcome the prejudices of those judging her application or is she already tainted beyond redemption, regardless of whether she is victim or perpetrator?

Described as crackling with razor-sharp dialogue, this explosive new play asks whether we can ever escape our past and investigates the destructive side of our search for acceptance.

Acceptance is directed by Anna Ledwich, who returns to direct Downstairs following Kiss Me by Richard Bean, The Argument by William Boyd and Olivier Award nominated Four Minutes Twelve Seconds. She has also directed Labyrinth and the forthcoming Dry Powder on the Main Stage.

Lastly, it’s the turn of Ella Road’s The Phlebotomist, which runs from April 12 to May 19.

All these people are getting their dating profiles blood-verified. You know, shouldn’t we just go for the people we fancy?

Bea meets Aaron. He’s intelligent, handsome, makes her laugh and, most importantly, has a high rating on his genetic profile. What’s not to like?

Char is on the brink of landing her dream job and has big plans to start a family – but her blood rating threatens it all.

In a world where future happiness depends on a single, inescapable blood test – which dictates everything from credit rating to dating prospects – how far will people go to beat the system and let nature take its course?

The Phlebotomist is a powerfully provocative vision of the future, questioning the value we place on one another, whether knowledge really is power, and if it’s truly possible for love to conquer all.

Director to be confirmed.

Casting for all three production will be announced in due course.

Hampstead Theatre launched The Downstairs Club in the summer, a free membership scheme for under 30s that provides better access to Hampstead’s cheaper tickets across the Main Stage and Downstairs – particularly the £5 tickets for the first five performances for all Downstairs productions. Under 30s who would like to access priority booking need to sign up at


Successful candidates have also been announced for Hampstead Theatre’s Inspire: The Next Playwright Programme, a free opportunity for 18–25 year-old aspiring playwrights to develop their ideas, talent and craft under the mentorship of award-winning playwright Roy Williams over the course of a year. And they are Destinée Bishop, Geraldine Lang, Eno Mfon and Holly Robinson.

Hampstead Theatre will continue its partnership with Sphinx Theatre Company by hosting several events over the next year, including their acclaimed Women Centre Stage Festival in 2018, to support the company’s important mission in promoting, advocating and inspiring women in the arts.

School of Rock - new adult cast announced

Stephen Leask

Casting news

CAST changes have been announced for School of Rock – The Musical, which is currently booking at the New London Theatre until January 13, 2019.

From November 15, 2017, Stephen Leask (pictured top), who has played the role of alternate Dewey since May this year, will lead the cast as Dewey Finn.

Joining him will be Alan Pearson as Ned Schneebly, Michelle Francis as Patty Di Marco, currently a member of the ensemble, and Craig Gallivan (pictured bottom) as the alternate Dewey Finn. Florence Andrews will continue as Rosalie Mullins alongside the three teams of thirteen kids who make up Dewey’s band.

The ‘grown up’ cast is completed by ensemble members Nick Butcher, Cassandra McCowan, Jessica Louise Parkinson, Andy Rees, Cameron Sharp, Jake Sharp, James Smoker, Wendy Somerville, Andrew Spillett, Hannah Stratton and Alex Tomkins with swings, Paul Kemble, Laura Medforth, Billy Mitchell, Tasha Sheridan and Joshua St. Clair.

Before joining the School of Rock company Stephen Leask’s previous theatre credits include One Man, Two Guvnors (Theatre Royal Haymarket), A Little Hotel on the Side (Theatre Royal Bath), Potted Panto (Vaudeville Theatre), The Secret Garden (Birmingham Rep) and Troilus and Cressida (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Leask is a member of the Merely Players, a theatre company dedicated to producing accessible productions of Shakespeare. His television appearances include Nightmares, Doctors, Our World War, The Intern and EastEnders.

Craig Gallivan

Craig Gallivan is best known on television for playing Luke in the British comedy drama Stella, a role he has played for over 50 episodes. His theatre credits include Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre), Crime and Punishment (National Theatre), Days of Significance (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Long, The Short and the Tall (Sheffield Theatres) and the UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Gallivan’s other television work includes Torchwood II, Footballers Wives and Footballers Wives: Extra Time.

School of Rock – The Musical opened in November last year and is one of four Lloyd Webber shows – with The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar – which have played concurrently in the West End this year. The West End production of School of Rock – The Musical is the recipient of the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music, and in August this year the production welcomed a new group of kids who play live music on stage at each performance.

On November 6, 2017, School of Rock – The Musical will host this year’s BBC Radio 2’s BBC Children in Need Gala. Read more.

Continuing the countrywide search for kids to ‘join the band’, further open auditions will take place in London on November 8, 10, 20 and 22, 2017. If you’re between 8 – 12 years old and play the drums, keys or the electric or bass guitar, registration and further details can be found at or by contacting Jessica Ronane Casting at

The Tailor-Made Man - final casting announced

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FINAL casting has been announced for The Tailor-Made Man, which runs at the White Bear Theatre from Tuesday, November 7 to Saturday, November 25, 2017.

Joining previously announced Mitchell Hunt and Tom Berkeley are Peter Dewhurst (The Importance of Being Earnest, Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe) as Irving; Henry Felix (The Devils, Embassy Theatre) as Victor Darro; Edwin Flay (The House, Bread and Roses, Clapham) as Howard; Dean Harris (Judas in Godspell, W/E) as Louis B. Mayer; Rachel Knowles (first cover and played the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, No1 UK tour/Playhouse Theatre) as Carole Lombard/Pola Negri); and Yvonne Lawlor (Catch, Camden Fringe) as Marion.

Previously Posted: The Tailor-Made Man, the powerful true story about the Hollywood studio system and its hypocrisy and the star who gave up everything for the man he loved, is to get a 25th anniversary production in London.

Written by Claudio Macor and directed by Bryan Hodgson, it will run at the White Bear Theatre from Tuesday, November 7 to Saturday, November 25, 2017.

The cast includes Mitchell Hunt (Mr Selfridge, Hollyoaks) as William “Billy” Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields.

William “Billy” Haines was a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was gay and refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri.

As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed. It was an attempt to erase him completely from movie history. But Billy and Jimmy’s turbulent, passionate love affair was to survive and lasted over 50 years.

The Tailor-Made Man is their story.

Claudio Macor said: “Thirty years ago a friend gave me a copy of Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon. As I was reading the various Hollywood scandals Kenneth Anger so vividly described I came across “The White Legion and the Purple Poodle” and discovered the story of William “Billy” Haines and Jimmie Shields. I was still acting at the time and dreamed of playing Billy but soon fell out of love with acting when I started writing.

The Tailor-Made Man play premiered in London at the Hen and Chickens in 1992, it quickly got a transfer to the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) to be followed by a TV showcase by Thames Television, who were planning to bring back Masterpiece Theatre. The Tailor-Made Man was chosen to be one of the six initial episodes but then Thames lost their ITV franchise. The play was then performed on Freedom Radio with Broadway star Robert Bogue as Billy and Oscar-nominated Judd Hirsch as Louis B Mayer, and had successful runs in San Diego and West Hollywood.

“It received another London run at the Cockpit Theatre before its off-Broadway run at Centre Stage New York. It was turned into a musical in 2013 at London’s Arts Theatre. This revival of the original play at the White Bear Theatre is the 25th year anniversary production. It’s actually 25 years and 25 days since the first performance!”

Charles William “Billy” Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), known professionally as William Haines, was discovered by a talent scout and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1922. His career gained momentum when he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures where he received favourable reviews for his role in The Midnight Express. Haines returned to MGM and was cast in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard. The role solidified his screen persona as a wisecracking, arrogant leading man.

By the end of the 1920s, Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box office draw. But his career was cut short by the 1930s due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality. His fate has played a huge part in preventing movie stars from coming out to this very day. Box Office is routinely used as the excuse but the real reason is the fear of the annihilation that Billy suffered.

With Jimmie’s help Billy then forged a spectacular career as an interior designer to the stars, Presidents and ambassadors, the success of which eclipsed his film career. Billy and Jimmie were together for over 50 years, living like a modern day gay couple, and were often quoted as the “happiest married couple in Hollywood”

What makes this story stand out from other Hollywood stories is the sheer determination Billy had in succeeding in his design business; a business that is still active today – his shop is still open in the same location in West Hollywood – and of course the love story that it was. Haines died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.

Tickets: £16, £12 concessions including booking fee.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday at 4pm.

Also at the White Bear Theatre: The Test (September 19 to September 30, 2017).

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.