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Jun 3rd

EDINBURGH’S TRAVERSE THEATRE ANNOUNCES 2014 FESTIVAL PROGRAMME

By Cameron Lowe
Thirteen Premieres, including Eight World Premieres
 
Traverse Presents Unfaithful by Owen McCafferty and Spoiling by John McCann
 
Traverse Breakfast Plays Back on the Menu as Traverse commissions Six New Plays from former Traverse Fifty writers
 
Sunday 27 July – Sunday 24 August, 2014
 
Traverse Theatre Edinburgh

The Traverse is delighted to announce its 2014 Festival programme. Over four weeks, the Traverse Theatre will host nineteen shows and events with eight World Premieres, two UK Premieres, two Scottish Premieres, and a European Premiere.
 
Speaking about her third programme as Artistic Director for the Traverse Theatre, Orla O’Loughlin said, “Embodying the spirit of the Festival all year round, The Traverse continues to be a unique landmark on Edinburgh’s cultural landscape and is the beating heart of new writing in Scotland. This August we are proud to present and produce a Festival programme which celebrates some of the most compelling theatrical voices from the UK and beyond.” 
 
The first of four Traverse Theatre Company productions presented this Festival is the World Premiere of Unfaithful, by Fringe First award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty. Directed by guest director Rachel O’Riordan who is the newly appointed Artistic Director of Sherman Cymru, Unfaithful is a stark and searing glimpse into the reality of relationships following two couples, Joan and Tom, Tara and Peter as they struggle to comprehend their roles as lovers, partners and individuals. As Tom and Tara face the tedium of daily life, the impulse of the moment distracts them from the inevitable emotional fallout. Performed as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase, (3 – 24 Aug).
 
Heartfelt political satire, Spoiling is the Traverse Theatre’s second World Premiere this Festival. Written by emerging playwright and former Traverse Fifty writer John McCann, Spoiling imagines a newly independent Scotland with the Foreign Minister Designate preparing to deliver a keynote speech in front of the world’s media. Directed by Traverse Artistic Director, Orla O’Loughlin and starring Gabriel Quigley, a familiar face to the Traverse stage, Spoiling will be Orla’s first Festival production for the Traverse 2 stage. Originally developed during the Traverse Fifty project, the piece first appeared in a triple bill scratch performance during 2013’s Write Here, the Traverse New Writing Festival, and returns as a full length piece as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase, (1 – 24 Aug).
 
Traverse Theatre Breakfast PlaysTraverse Breakfast Plays is back on the menu this Festival. Six plays are set to have their World Premiere as part of the popular script-in-hand breakfast slot during the Traverse Festival. Commissioned following the Traverse Fifty project, the six – Tim Primrose (Broth), Sylvia Dow (Blinded by the Light), Martin McCormick (The Day the Pope Emptied Croy), Alison Carr (Fat Alice), Molly Innes (Mother Ease) and Lachlan Philpott (Walter) – were announced as the playwrights for this year’s Breakfast Plays at the end of 2013. Each Traverse Breakfast Play has only two performances on the same day over the last two weeks of the Festival, (12 – 24 Aug).
 
Following a sell-out run in March, the popular verbatim piece Bloody Trams will return to the Traverse 2 stage this August. A public response to one of Edinburgh’s most contested and emotive debates over the last decade, two actors will recreate the opinions of the People of Edinburgh incorporating tram passenger interviews and stories from Edinburgh Festival visitors, with composer and pianist David Paul Jones performing live accompaniment and original songs, (5 – 10 Aug).
 
The Theatre’s main house, Traverse 1, also plays host to writer, director and performer Valentijn Dhaenens with the UK Premiere of the political and personal drama SmallWar. Alone on stage, Valentjin Dhaenens tells the tragic fate of those who are forced to live in the wake of man as a belligerent creature in war. The noble, heroic, exalted side of war gets ample coverage; SmallWar investigates the reverse side of the medal, the clash between underlings and the massive structures crushing them, (3 – 24 Aug). Premiering to sell-out Fringe audiences in 2012, SmallWar’s partner piece BigMouth offers a platform to leaders through history and from across the world, people who invariably spurred masses on to war: praising the fallen and smooth-talking their families and loved ones. The Traverse offers Festival audiences a second chance to see this critically-acclaimed performance for three nights only, (19, 21 & 23 Aug).
 
One of comedy’s elder statesmen and all-round arty mischief-maker, Mark Thomas returns to the Traverse Festival with his World Premiere, Cuckooed. Revisiting his theatrical roots with a comedy of betrayal, Mark Thomas tells his true story of how Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, came to spy on a comedian in this tale of hubris, planes, demos and undercover deceit. This show is personal, political and, as usual, incredibly funny, (3 – 24 Aug).
 
This year, the Traverse Theatre also welcomes two shows from Irish companies. From TheEmergencyRoom and Galway International Arts Festival comes the highly-praised riverrun, an adaptation of the voice of the river in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake devised, directed and performed by acclaimed theatre artist Olwen Fouéré, (3 – 24 Aug). Directed by Ben Kidd, Dead Centre present the UK Premiere of LIPPY by Bush Moukarzel and Mark O’Halloran, an interpretive piece that tells the true story of four women dying in a starvation pact, meditating on the inexplicable fact of death and this event that took place behind closed doors and without explanation, (6 – 24 Aug).
 
After their successful 2013 Festival with Long Live The Little Knife, Scottish company Fire Exit return to Traverse 2 with the World Premiere of Horizontal Collaboration, written and directed by multi award-winning ‘theatrical maverick’ David Leddy, (1 – 24 Aug). An intense live drama where sex, power and politics collide with emotion, seduction and destruction, the piece is performed daily by new actors who never see the script in advance. Four U.N. lawyers have been brought in at short notice to read pre-prepared texts in an explosive tribunal. They are reading blind and have no idea what happens next.
 
Fire Exit also introduce new downloadable drama, City of the Blind, an epic political thriller available anywhere via smartphone or tablet. Available online via www.davidleddy.com, this online experience is an emotionally complex and intellectually provocative piece. Throughout six thirty-minute-long chapters, you can follow U.N. investigator and whistleblower Cassie Al-Khatib caught in a web of surveillance, violence, and counter-intelligence. Created over three years and featuring thirty performers recorded in sixteen different locations, City of the Blind is ground-breaking production for small-scale technology. Horizontal Collaboration and City of the Blind are both presented as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase, (1 – 24 Aug).
 
The Theatre’s studio space, Traverse 2, will host the World Premiere of Men in the Cities, the latest from three-time Fringe First winner Chris Goode (Monkey Bars). Starring Chris Goode, this incendiary piece of experimental storytelling presents fractured snapshots of dozens of seemingly disconnected lives that together offer a challenging but radically humane portrait of how we live now. (1 – 24 Aug).
 
After 2012's hit Born To Run, writer and performer Gary McNair returns to the Traverse Theatre with a coming of age story that deconstructs the darker side of comedy, and sees McNair performing at his 'brilliant best'. Donald Robertson has no mates and he isn't funny, but with guidance from his new mentor Gary, he hopes that this is all about to change, (1 – 24 Aug).
 
Following their 2012 and 2013 Festival hit The List, the Traverse welcomes Stellar Quines to the Traverse 2 stage with The Carousel, a poignant play about one woman’s journey of discovery. While driving to her dying mother’s bedside, a woman calls upon the spirit of her dead grandmother and begins a quest through a labyrinth of memories. This is the second in the trilogy from celebrated Québec dramatist Jennifer Tremblay, translated by Shelley Tepperman and starring Maureen Beattie, (1 – 24 Aug).
 
Theatre artists Shona Reppe and Andy Manley return to the Traverse Theatre for the third time with family installation piece, HUFF. Based on the well-loved story The Three Little Pigs, HUFF is a unique walk-through experience with no performers or live action in Traverse Upstairs, a new space on the ground floor level. In groups of three, audience members set off on an expedition through a series of chambers that represent the trials and tribulations of the builder-pigs and their arch enemy, the wolf. HUFF is suitable for anyone over the age of 8 and is presented as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase, (1 – 24 Aug).
 
Award-winning performer and video artist Kim Noble brings his latest show, Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone to the Traverse Theatre this August. Blending performance, comedy and film Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone is a provocative, moving and comic production that chronicles one man’s attempts at connection, friendship and employment at B&Q. He takes his audience on a journey through tower blocks, supermarkets and Facebook, seeking an escape from the loneliness of modern society, (20 – 24 Aug).
 
Engagement and debate remain key this year at the Festival: Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland will present TalkFest 2014, a series of inspirational discussions with leading writers and theatre-makers involved in this year’s wider Festival Fringe, including Fleur Darkin, Caroline Bowditch and Christine Devaney. TalkFest 2014 is presented as part of the Made in Scotland showcase, (11 & 18 Aug).
 
A unique collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Traverse Theatre and the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland has resulted in Pre-View, four readings from four brand new plays by four emerging writers from across Europe (11 & 18 Aug). The Traverse welcomes back the James Tait Black Prize for Drama, judged by students and academics of Edinburgh University, as well as representatives from the National Theatre Scotland and Traverse Associate Artist, Zinne Harris and Traverse Associate Director, Emma Callander (11 Aug).
 
Fringe First, Herald Angel and Spirit of the Fringe award-winning, political, Theatre Uncut returns with Theatre Uncut 2014, exclusive previews of brand new commissioned plays over three nights, including five new plays exploring the debate around the upcoming Scottish Independence referendum and six new plays created in a collaborative project with Istanbul-based DOT Tiyatro, and written by leading Turkish and British writers, (4, 11 & 18 Aug).
May 29th

Tip Top Cast Announced for Top Hat Tour

By Cameron Lowe

UK TOUR: 12 August 2014 – 25 July 2015

Top Hat
Top Hat, winner of three Olivier Awards, for ‘Best New Musical’, ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Costume Design’ from a total of seven nominations and winner of the Evening Standard Award for ‘Best Night Out’, is setting off on an epic 47-week UK tour, visiting 24 theatres nationwide. Opening at New Wimbledon Theatre on Tuesday 12 August 2014 the production will tour until Saturday 25 July 2015. 
 
The world premiere stage production of Top Hat opened in the West End at the Aldwych Theatre on 9 May 2012 where it played over 600 performances during its run of nearly two years. Prior to the West End, the production previously enjoyed a sell-out UK Tour in 2011.
 
Stepping into the shoes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the lead roles of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont, are Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch, who both return to Top Hat having previously performed these roles in the West End. They are joined by Clive Hayward who returns as Horace Hardwick, the role he played in the West End, Rebecca Thornhill as Madge Hardwick, Sebastien Torkia as Alberto Beddini and John Conroy as Horace’s valet Bates. 
 
Top Hat is directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer (Olivier Award winner for Best Choreography), set designs are by Hildegard Bechtler (Olivier Award nominee for Best Set Design), costume designs by Jon Morrell (Olivier Award winner for Best Costume Design), lighting design by Peter Mumford, sound by Gareth Owen (Olivier Award nominee for Best Sound Design), new orchestrations by Chris Walker, musical supervision by Richard Balcombe.
 
Jerry Travers (Alan Burkitt), the famous American tap dancer, arrives in London to appear in his first West End show. Travers meets the irresistible Dale Tremont (Charlotte Gooch), the girl of his dreams, and follows her across Europe in an attempt to win her heart.  
 
With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and based on the RKO motion picture, the screenplay by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott has been adapted for the stage by Matthew White and Howard Jacques and is presented by arrangement with RKO Pictures LLC, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures Inc. and the Irving Berlin Music Company.  
 
Performed by a cast of 29 and accompanied by 11 live musicians, this multi award-winning musical comedy includes Irving Berlin classics from the movie such as Cheek to Cheek, Isn’t It a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.  In addition, from Berlin’s 1200 strong back catalogue, a further ten numbers have been interpolated including well-loved favourites Let’s Face the Music and Dance and Puttin’ On the Ritz.

Alan Burkitt Alan Burkitt started his career winning the All England Tap Dancer of the Year award. A member of the original West End cast of Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre, Burkitt understudied the lead role of Jerry Travers for both Tom Chambers and Gavin Lee. He received rave reviews when he stood in for Lee on press night, a success story documented by Channel 4 for the TV series ‘The Sound of Musicals’. Other recent stage credits include: Singin’ in the Rain, Andy Lee in 42nd Street (Chichester Festival Theatre), the Prince in Adam Cooper’s Shall We Dance (Sadler’s Wells), Cats (German Tour) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre).

Charlotte Gooch Charlotte Gooch took over the lead role of Dale Tremont from Summer Strallen in the West End, performing alongside Tom Chambers as Jerry Travers. Gooch performed the lead role of Penny Johnson in Dirty Dancing in the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre and also in the original national tour. Other recent stage credits include: the lead role of Sandy in Grease (UK Tour), Cats (German Tour) and the workshop of Swing Time, dancing a duet with Anton du Beke.
May 29th

20th CENTURY BOY - Grand Opera House, York

By Cameron Lowe
20th CENTURY BOY

Review by Graham Clark

There have been musicals in the past about 1950's rock stars such as Buddy Holly, so it is only natural that in time there would be a musical based on rock stars from the late 60's and early 70's.
 
20th Century Boy is based on the life of the glam rock star Marc Bolan. It follows his rise to fame, how he handled the success and his death in a car crash (driven by his girlfriend Gloria Jones, who survived) weeks before his 30th birthday.
 
Bolan is played superbly by Warren Sollars. Sollars has obviously studied old videos of Bolan as he has the Bolan mannerisms perfected and at times you think you are watching the real Marc Bolan.
 
The musical starts in 1992 in America with Bolan's son Roland (Luke Bailey) asking his mother, Gloria Jones (Donna Hines) about his father. Roland flies to London to find out more about his father's career.
 
He goes to stay with his grandmother's house in London. Sue Jenkins plays a convincing part as Marc Bolan's mothe, Phyllis Feld. She still carries a grudge against Gloria Jones for killing her son in the car she was driving. She has some of the funniest lines too. When showing Roland a photo album they come across a photo of Cliff Richard, "Who is he?" asks American born Roland, to which Phyllis replies "That's Cliff Richard, mind you, you haven't missed much!"
 
The musical shows Bolan's early days as Tyrannosaurus Rex, how his sound changed from folk to electric rock when record producer Tony Visconti (Andy Coxon) discovers Bolan. Visconti suggests the name change to T Rex. Lucy Sinclar plays a leading part as Bolan's first wife June Child. His love for her was the inspiration for many of his songs.
 
After teaming up with Visconti, Bolan's career takes off and we see him headling Wembley stadium. Visconti introduces Bolan to a new backing singer; this is when he meets Gloria Jones. Bolan tries to replicate the European success in America but middle America does not take to an English glam rock star with Bolan sacking his band in the middle of the tour and he turns to drink and drugs.
 
He falls out with Visconti and starts an affair with Gloria Jones. The musical moves on to Bolan getting the health kick and him becoming the godfather of Punk as he asks The Damned to support him on tour.
 
His career seems to be taking off again in 1977 as he had his own TV show too but after visiting his favourite restaurant one night, Jones decides to drive him home with the story ending as the Mini car that Jones is driving hits a tree.
 
Bolan's songs such as Get It On, Ride a White Swan, Metal Guru, Hot Love and of course, 20th Century Boy feature in the show.  An entertaining show, sad in parts and happy in others. Surely a West End run is on the cards. A must see show. 

Tickets (until 31 May) : www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/ 

Tour details: www.20thcenturyboythemusical.co.uk/
May 23rd

A Midsummer's Night Dream at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Cameron Lowe
David Nixon’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”

Review by Thia Cooper

Northern Ballet

To say that I was mesmerised by last night’s performance of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” by Northern Ballet, is an understatement! From the moment the curtain went up, to the moment it went down, I was lost in the beautiful performances and amazing working of Mendelssohn's music, intertwined by extracts from Brahms, played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia under Nathan Fifield.
Then there was the interpretation of the original story by wonderful dancing, superb scenery, lighting and costumes.
Set in the 1940’s, the opening shows a classical ballet company rehearsing for a tour. The dancers are warming up for the final rehearsal and the personalities and emotions come to the fore, showing their various rivalries for both affection and dancing prowess in the company.
When the tour begins, the scene changes to the railway station and the Flying Scotsman to take them to their destination. Designer of the train, Duncan Hayler, has done a magnificent job. It’s surprisingly realistic and is technical wizardry of the highest standard.
I asked Mark Skipper, Chief Executive of Northern Ballet, about the logistics of moving such complicated scenery for a tour. He said they had five trailers and a good crew! I discovered he goes to every opening night and as far as I’m concerned that shows a terrific, supportive CEO. I’m sure the company appreciates that!
The dream sequence takes place on the journey and we see the fantasy dream world of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in all its glory!
Above the stage are sleeping-car bunks (I was quite nervous when I saw one of these swaying precariously with the dancers on board!), a spacecraft on its way to the moon and a huge eye.
Outstanding performances were given by Kevin Poeung (Puck, the ballet master), Javier Torres (Lysander in love with Hermia), Tobias Batley (Demetrius, also in love with Hermia), Pippa Moore (Helena, in love with Demetrius), Martha Leebolt (Hermia, in love with Lysander), Hironao Takahashi (Artistic Director, in love with Hippolyta) and Antoinette Brooks-Daw (Hippolyta, in love with Theseus).
Northern Ballet

The romantic confusion is choreographed so very beautifully by Nixon, testing the splendid versatility of the dancers. He demands some breathtaking manoeuvres which are delivered seamlessly!
There are lots of comical instances especially when Helena literally throws herself at Demetrius and when Bottom turns into the donkey, executed very well by Darren Goldsmith.
Everything ends happily with everyone engaged to the correct person after they snap out of the dream and come back to reality.
Let yourself spend a couple of hours being transported into fairyland and go and see this production. You won’t be disappointed!!
Milton Keynes Theatre
Tue 20 May 2014 to Sat 24 May 2014
Tue - Sat 7.30pm, Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Tickets from £12 to £37.50
0844 871 7652
atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes
May 22nd

Rock of Ages at the Edinburgh Playhouse

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Christopher Lowe

Following a three-year run in London’s West End, audiences around the country will get the chance to enjoy ROCK OF AGES The Musical as it continues a UK tour arriving in Edinburgh from 19th - 24th May and Glasgow from 4th - 9th August.
Rock of Ages

Set in Hollywood’s Bourbon Room around the mid-to-late 80s, we follow young busboy Drew (Noel Sullivan), who dreams of being a rock star in his own glam-metal band.
He meets country-girl Sherrie (Cordelia Farnworth) – who, like thousands of other hopefuls, has just arrived in town with dreams of making it big.
Enter Stacee Jaxx a charismatic, sexually-charged, narcissistic rock singer who threatens to steal Sherrie away from Drew!
Noel Sullivan In the middle of all the chaos and the competing for young Sherrie’s affections, two German developers are trying to close down the bar and take over the strip!
Set in the late eighties, this is pure jukebox musical territory, with a playlist that is soft-rock to its carefully manicured core. ROCK OF AGES The Musical is the ultimate rock mix-tape musical, a hilarious story of dreams, love and - of course - rock.
A modern twist to the plot demonstrates that it knows exactly the demographic it is playing to. Here are strong female roles, with lots of skimpy outfits; this show is not for the faint hearted!
This 80s-themed hilarious musical features over 30 hair-raising tunes including: “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “We Built This City”, “The Final Countdown”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Here I Go Again”, “Can’t Fight this Feeling” and “I Want To Know What Love Is”.
Rock of Ages is a kick ass musical filled with spandex , studs , skimpy outfits and a collaboration of some of the best rock ballads of all time! The music is delivered by astonishingly talented musicians who are the true stars of the show!
Grab your leather jacket, bring out the glitter and get ready to rock!
Monday 19 May 2014 – Saturday 24 May 2014
EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE
http://www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh
Box Office: 0844 871 3014
Tickets: £10 - £37.50
Website: www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk
May 21st

Local Lads Cast in the Return of Dance Spectacular Lord of the Flies

By Cameron Lowe

Twenty two young men and boys, from across Central Scotland, have earned the opportunity to perform with Matthew Bourne’s renowned dance company, New Adventures, in the anticipated return of Lord of the Flies at the Theatre Royal Glasgow from Wednesday 11 until Saturday 14 June 2014.
 
Lord of the Flies

These lads from Glasgow and the surrounding areas, aged from 9 to 25 years old, have stood out among over 160 young hopefuls who have taken part in workshops and auditions over the past few months; finding the best male dance talent in the region and even encouraging those who have never participated in dance before.
 
The twenty two young cast members are:
From Glasgow: Neil Gibson (10) from Glasgow City; Adam Quinn (10) from Govan;  Jacques Heraghty (11) from King's Park; Marcus Hyka(12) from Hogganfield; Ryan Adams(17) from Ballieston; Jatinder Singh Randhawa (18) from Garrowhill, Ross McNally (20) from Castlemilk; Kieran Semple (12) from Auldhouse.
From East Dunbartonshire: John Selkirk (11) from Bearsden, Roderick Gilkison (11) from Bearsden
From Renfrewshire: Cameron Johnstone (12) from Linwood
From East Renfrewshire: Tommy Zing (11) from Newton Mearns
From North Lanarkshire: Taylor Browning-Walker (9) from Motherwell
From South Lanarkshire: Charley Austin (12) from Uddingston; Paul Kenny (15) from Bothwell; Colin Fyfe (25) from Lanark
From South Ayrshire: Kieran Shannon (20) from Girvan
From Edinburgh: Fraser Livingston (12) from Edinburgh City
From East Lothian: Euan Garret (10) from North Berwick
From West Lothian:  Jay Allan (15) from Whitburn, Blair Flucker (19) from Kirknewton
From Argyll and Bute: Isaac Bowry (18) from Oban
Re:Bourne Executive Director, James Mackenzie-Blackman, said:
 
Taylor Browning-Walker, 9, from Motherwell is the youngest member of the cast and has had an unforgettable experience so far: “I have always enjoyed dance and drama alike, but these workshops have inspired me so much more. I love Jack’s intimidating dance and the freedom to move across the room. With an all-male cast, there is a fabulous vibe. The experience has been absolutely exhilarating and one I will remember for the rest of my life.”
 
They will perform alongside New Adventures’ professionals Sam Archer as ‘Maurice’, Luke Murphy as ‘Sam’, Dominic North as ‘Ralph’, Sam Plant as ‘Piggy’, Alastair Postlethwaite as ‘Eric’, Danny Reubens as ‘Jack’ and Dan Wright as ‘Roger’. Making their New Adventures debut’s in this production will be Manchester-born Layton Williams as ‘Simon’ and Jack Hazelton.
 
This unique concept, allowing local talent to collaborate with professional dancers, was spearheaded by ATG Glasgow’s Creative Learning team in 2011. Following its critically acclaimed success Lord of the Flies is now back at the Theatre Royal, on the stage where it all began, as part of a UK tour which engages with youngsters from each city the show visits. The project is delivered by New Adventures in partnership with the company’s charitable arm Re:Bourne who work to find, develop and inspire the next generation of dance-theatre professionals.
 
Glasgow Dance Ambassadors Hayley Earlam and Lucy Wild have been hosting open sessions and working with schools to seek out and nurture local talent. Hayley said: “A lot of the boys who’ve never experienced dance before have flourished into enthusiastic performers. It’s a great privilege to help people realise their potential.  We’re so impressed by the progress made by all the boys and when the show is on Lucy and I will be standing in the wings crying with pride.”
 
James Haworth, General Manager at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, said:
“We are proud that New Adventures is returning to the Theatre Royal with this remarkable production, bringing a unique opportunity for young people to be part of this powerful dance spectacular.  We are committed, through our Creative Learning programme, to finding and developing local talent and it has been a joy to see the dedication and enthusiasm of these boys and young men as they develop skills as performers and grow as individuals.”
 
Lord of the Flies is choreographed by Olivier Award-nominee Scott Ambler and adapted and directed by New Adventures’ Artistic Director Matthew Bourne and Scott Ambler. The project is a rare collaboration which brings together professional performers with young aspiring dancers. No previous experience was needed to apply; just raw talent, passion and commitment.
 
Lord of the Flies was originally commissioned by Glasgow Theatres, part of Ambassador Theatre Group.
 
Theatre Royal Glasgow
Wed 11 – Sat 14 June
Wed – Sat eves 7.30pm
Thu mat 2pm
Sat mat 2.30pm
Box Office 08448 717 647 (bkg fee)
www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)
 
May 15th

Fame at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Cameron Lowe
If you were expecting a version of the iconic TV series, or Oscar winning musical film of FAME, think again!!
Fame

Last night’s new production at Milton Keynes Theatre was Fame 2014! The first surprise was the iPads, iPhones and tablets being used for receiving information. Did I really hear Katy Perry mentioned?
You follow the ups and downs of teenagers totally ‘star struck’ (97 of them chosen from 4,000 applicants for High School for Performing Arts, New York!) at a school they believe will jettison through to the dizzy heights to stardom and FAME!
Some think it will just ‘happen’ and others are prepared for hard work and Carmen Diaz (Jodie Steele) is one of those with a big ego and thinks she will succeed no matter what. Tyrone Jackson (Alex Thomas –wow! What a superb dancer, breathtaking and a lovely voice!!), on the other hand is struggling with dyslexia and can’t read. His talent should see him through, but despite the support of Miss Bell (Hermione Lynch) his dance teacher, does not graduate.
There are lots of romantic moments, but the time with Tyrone and Iris (Sasi Strallen) were, in my opinion, special. The combination of superb dancing and the background story brought a lump to my throat.
There is no let up from the excitement and dynamic choreography by Gary Lloyd. Great songs, including “I’m Gonna Live For Ever” and “I’m Gonna Learn How to Fly” and, surprise, surprise a rap from Tyrone!

The band was on view above the stage, and although a little overpowering at time, the individual musicians were multi- talented and versatile. There was a beautiful acoustic guitar solo at one point and I am disappointed the musicians were not acknowledged in the programme.
I am always fascinated by the scenery and how it works with the least amount of disruption. The two blocks of school lockers and varying heights of steps were moved by the cast, silently and fitted every scene!
Joe Vegas, played by Joseph Giacone , with great humour and panache, was the character who brought sexual innuendoes to the forefront. His portrayal had the audience laughing in appreciation.
The vocal highlight was sung by Miss Sherman, Director of PA, singing “These Are My Children”. Played by Landi Oshinowo, there was none of the West End style piercing notes of some others in the cast, but pure passion and beauty.
This is one of those shows with a ‘feel good’ factor. He update is a huge success!!
Everyone was singing and dancing with the cast in the Finale!
A great evening out and thoroughly recommended!
Tickets: £10 - £37.50
Phone: 0844 8717652
atgtickets.com.miltonkeynes
May 9th

Wicked at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
WICKED flew north of the border to entrance Glasgow audiences this week as this blockbuster musical takes up residence at the King’s Theatre for a 4 week Scottish Premier run.
Wicked Scottish Premier

 
BELIEVE THE HYPE! If you haven’t seen Wicked on stage, you will be mesmerised – if you have seen the show, you will want to see it again and again! Wicked, in case you haven’t heard, is the untold story of the witches of Oz. The question from the uninitiated is “how could there possibly be another side to a tale which we have all known to be the truth since early childhood”? It’s more than a prequel; it explains EVERYTHING!
 
I must confess to having been a little nervous about seeing this show after reading rave reviews from London for almost 8 years. We settled into our seats in the shadow of a giant smoking animatronic dragon with the highest possible expectations … only to have them promptly exceeded. This is an amazing show!
 
OK (deep breath) let’s do this one superlative at a time … Music first; you’ve heard some of the music, right? The big hits from Stephen Schwartz are popular (ahem) at concerts and on TV and Radio and the original cast recording has been a massive hit on Amazon for years (a worthy purchase even if you haven’t seen the show). The live music, under the direction of Dan Jackson, is every bit as fabulous as you might hope and the characters really bring the score to life on stage.
 
Direction from Joe Mantello (and Petra Siniawski in the UK) was crisp - giving the audience barely time to catch their breath or dab a tear before we moved smoothly into the next scene - yet allowed for character development throughout. The visual effects were spectacular without overwhelming the events onstage. Choreography from Wayne Cilento blended perfectly with the action giving us exciting partner work down at the Ozdust Ballroom and atmospheric character movement in the dramatic scenes.
 
Wicked - steampunk styling
 
Despite the blockbuster nature of this huge touring show, one of the most impressive aspects was the styling; with credit largely going to Eugene Lee, Susan Hilferty and Kenneth Posner being respectively responsible for Scenery, Costume and Lighting. There was a wonderfully cohesive steampunk style throughout with the Act 1 scenes at “Dear Old Shiz” integrating appealing Harry Potter overtones. This manifested itself in glorious costumes featuring tail coats, canes, sunglasses, bustles and the most beautifully outlandish hats. These were complemented by sympathetic lighting and a set adorned with fantastic clockwork machinery and 19th century props and vehicles – most appropriate for a story based on characters from a novel written in 1900.
 
Performances from Nikki Davis-Jones (Elphaba) and Emily Tierney (Glinda) were nothing short of awesome. Without any exaexaggeration -  awesome! Ms Davis-Jones gave us tears from the low tones of I’m Not That Girl all the way up to goosebumps at the dizzy heights of Defying Gravity. Meanwhile Ms Tierney had us in stiches during Popular yet we were welling up as she sang Thank Goodness. Both characters developed smoothly (almost imperceptibly) throughout the performance. Let’s face it, we were all asking “can they bring talent the equal of Menzel and Chenoweth all the way to Scotland?” – the answer is a resounding “YES”! Liam Doyal transformed Fiyero into a hero to the audience’s delight. The supporting characters were flawless, humorous, beautiful and grotesque just where we needed them to be.
 
With a wickedly modern sense of humour this show delivers a fiendishly clever plot and a spellbinding score in a perfectly styled steampunk package. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself floating 6 inches above your seat and return home to find your cat doing the crossword! I have a new favouri
te musical!

If you want to see this show in Glasgow, you’ll need to take a time machine back a few months as it is already SOLD OUT! Tickets are being snapped up quickly for dates in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Whatever you do, order your ticket today!
 
WICKED – Glasgow King’s Theatre
ALL PERFORMANCES ARE NOW SOLD OUT.  APPLY DAILY FOR RETURNS AND CANCELLATIONS.
IN PERSON: KING’S THEATRE BOX OFFICE - NO BOOKING FEE
TELEPHONE BOOKINGS: 0844 871 7648
BOOK ONLINE: www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow
 
Edinburgh Playhouse
Wednesday 19 November 2014 – Saturday 10 January 2015
TICKET PRICES
For Online and Telephone Bookings a £4 Transaction Fee per booking applies
Monday – Thursday: £52.50, £42.50, £32.50, £25, £20
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 28 Dec & w/c 29 Dec: £55, £47.50, £35.50, £27.50, £22.50
Premium seats available at all performances (£75 / £72.50)
Box Office (0844 871 3014)
 
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Tuesday 5 May 2015 – Saturday 30 May 2015
TICKET PRICES
Monday – Thursday: £53.50, £49.50, £44.50, £38.50, £26
Friday & Saturday: £56, £52, £47, £41, £28
Premium seats available at all performances (£73.50 / £76)
Box Office (01224 641 122)
May 2nd

A Wicked Sellout at the King's Theatre, Glasgow!

By Cameron Lowe

WICKED IS OFFICIALLY HIGHEST GROSSING SHOW IN HISTORY OF THE KING’S THEATRE

 
WICKED, the global musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is officially the highest grossing production in the history of the King’s Theatre Glasgow, with the largest ever number of tickets sold in a four week run. Over 53,000 tickets have been snapped up for the show’s sell-out Scottish premiere, which plays from 6 May until 31 May. The record-breaking national tour will also visit the Edinburgh Playhouse (19 November 2014-10 January 2015) and His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (5-30 May 2015).

 

Wicked UK Tour

James Haworth
, General Manager at the King’s Theatre Glasgow, said: “I am extremely proud that the King’s is staging Wicked and bringing this global phenomenon to Scottish theatre fans for the first time. It’s no surprise the long running West End musical has cast its magical spell over Glasgow audiences, but its unrivalled success has surpassed all expectations.”

 

Wicked Executive Producer, Michael McCabe, said: "We are truly overwhelmed by the incredible response from Glasgow's theatregoers, who have ensured that our Scottish premiere engagement is a sell-out even before we arrive. Thank you to everyone who has enabled us to break Box Office records and for your generous embrace of Wicked.”

 

This thrillingly entertaining show” (Manchester Evening News) has broken countless Box Office records, won multiple five star reviews across the UK and Ireland and has already been seen by over 400,000 people.  

The award-winning London production continues its open-ended run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where tickets are currently on sale into its 9th year. The “hugely popular show” (The Times) is already the 15th longest-running musical in West End theatre history and recently celebrated its landmark 3000th performance.

 

Around the world, Wicked has already been seen by over 39 million people and has 9 productions running concurrently. The original Broadway production remains “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times) after a decade at the Gershwin Theatre.

 

In a brilliantly witty re-imagining of the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

 

WICKED UK & IRELAND TOUR

SCOTTISH PREMIERE ENGAGEMENT: TUESDAY 6 MAY 2014 - SATURDAY 31 MAY 2014

King’s Theatre

297 Bath Street

Glasgow

G2 4JN

ALL PERFORMANCES ARE NOW SOLD OUT.  APPLY DAILY FOR RETURNS AND CANCELLATIONS.

IN PERSON: KING’S THEATRE BOX OFFICE - NO BOOKING FEE

TELEPHONE BOOKINGS: 0844 871 7648

BOOK ONLINE: www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow

Transaction fees apply online and by phone

 

EDINBURGH ENGAGEMENT: 19 November 2014 to 10 January 2015

Edinburgh Playhouse

Box Office: 0844 871 3014

www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh


ABERDEEN ENGAGEMENT
: 5 to 30 May 2015

His Majesty's Theatre

Box Office: 01224 641122

www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

May 1st

'The West-End Unites' Raises £15,000 for the Philippines

By Cameron Lowe

YOULL NEVER WALK ALONE

THE WEST END UNITES FOR THE PHILIPPINES

RAISES £15,000 FOR THE DISASTERS EMERGENCY COMMITTEE PHILIPPINES TYPHOON APPEAL

 

Youll Never Walk Alone, the one night only gala concert in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Philippines Typhoon Appeal, has raised £15,000 for the charity it was announced today. The concert, which took place at the West Ends Queens Theatre on Sunday 2nd March, was hosted by multi-award winning presenter Gok Wan, and starred a multitude of talent from the West End and beyond.

The show featured special performances from stars including: Hollywood actor Luke Evans (The Three Musketeers, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fast & Furious 6), who returned to the West End stage for the first time since 2008 to perform especially for the event; stars of BBCs Strictly Come Dancing Pasha and Katya ; Britain’s Got Talent finalist Francine Lewis; and theatrical favourites such as Michael Xavier, Danielle Hope, Cynthia Erivo, Hugh Maynard and Joanna Riding, as well as an ensemble of Filipino performers. The concert also brought together the original cast of Avenue Q - re-united on stage for the first time in 6 years, and performances from Filipino talents Joseph Apostol and Emmanuel Vass. Speakers included TV presenters Adrian Chiles and Esther Rantzen, and Emmerdale's Fiona Wade.

The event was instigated by the UK based Filipino theatre community, many of whom moved to London in the 1990’s to take part in the original production of Miss Saigon, the worldwide smash-hit musical produced by British theatre impresario, Cameron Mackintosh.

You’ll Never Walk Alone producer Paul Spicer said:

YNWA Total Raised.jpg“This event is testament to what the West End community can achieve when we unite as one. We were offered support across the length and breadth of Theatreland, on stage and off, and because of that generosity we are able to donate £15,000 to the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal to help put people’s shattered lives back on track. The DEC also registered a huge spike in media activity and a surge of awareness for the appeal. Everyone involved in the show was incredibly proud to be a part of such a worthwhile project. We want the legacy of this production to live on, and would like to see West End Unites continue to support the DEC in their phenomenal work.”

Typhoon Haiyan tore a path of destruction over 100 miles wide through the Philippines after making landfall early in the morning on the 8th of November local time. It brought torrential rain, winds of over 170mph and a storm surge of up to 25 feet that devastated coastal areas. Over 14 million people had their lives torn apart, and more than 4 million people were left homeless. The DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal has raised over £90 million and DEC member agencies and their partners have delivered aid to more than 4 million people.

The £15,000 raised by Youll Never Walk Alone, through a combination of ticket sales and text to donate contributions, will be used to fund essential aid and recovery work in the Philippines. For example, DEC member agencies are educating children in temporary school tents; they are providing construction kits with nails, timber, corrugated iron sheets, plywood, hammers and other tools so people can rebuild their homes; they are also providing training to ensure that when people do repair or rebuild a damaged home, it will be more earthquake and typhoon resistant. Farmers are being given seeds and tools so they can provide for their families, and those who have lost their income are learning new skills so that they can earn a living once again.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said:

Disasters Emergency Committee“’You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was an extraordinary and uplifting evening. We are enormously grateful to the incredibly talented cast and the backstage team who made it all possible. It really was a fantastic show and a remarkable collaboration of some of the leading theatrical talent in the UK. This wonderful donation we have received as a result will support vital recovery work. Six months after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, DEC member agencies are working across affected areas to restore people’s lives and livelihoods, and a sense of normality. Given the vast scale of destruction in the Philippines, it will take a long time to recover.”

To donate to the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal, go to http://www.dec.org.uk/ .

You’ll Never Walk Alone was produced by Paul Spicer and Matt Firth for Stage Acts Productions with the kind support of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.