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Sep 28th

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH A NEW ‘VOICE’ – THE VOICE FINALIST LUCY O’BYRNE STEPS INTO ICONIC ROLE OF MARIA

By Carolin Kopplin

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Fresh from her success on BBC One’s The VoiceLUCY O’BYRNE joins the company of Bill Kenwright’s spectacular five-star production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC as Maria von Trapp. 

Lucy, who hails from Dublin, became a household name earlier this year when she shot to success as a finalist in the live shows of the TV talent show. With chart-topper Will.i.am as her mentor, and biggest fan, Lucy made history as the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing the nation with her stunning vocal range. Now, having recently performed at the BBC Proms, she makes her debut as the young postulant at The Broadway, Peterborough this December. 

Produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer, musical direction by David Steadman, this wonderfully lavish staging of the classic musical coincides with the 50th anniversary of the film version - the most successful movie musical in history. 

It all began with the story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, which inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959. The Sound of Music tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom as their beloved Austria becomes part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII. 

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including ‘Edelweiss’, ‘My Favorite Things’, ‘Do-Re-Mi’, ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’, ‘So Long, Farewell’ and of course, the title song, ‘The Sound of Music’. 

Bill Kenwright presents a new production of

The Sound of Music

Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II          Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse Suggested by ‘The Trapp Family Singers’ by Maria Augusta Trapp.

Presented by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe www.rnh.com

 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC – UK TOUR DATES

 

Wednesday 2 – Saturday 12 December                           Box Office: 01733 822 225

Peterborough, Broadway Theatre                     Website: www.thebroadwaypeterborough.co.uk 

Monday 14 December – Saturday 2 January  Box Office: 0843 208 6000

The Lowry, Salford Quays                                      Website: www.thelowry.com 

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 January                                          Box Office: 0844 871 3014

Edinburgh Playhouse                                                               Website: www.atgtickets.com 

Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 January                      Box Office: 01224 641122

Aberdeen, His Majesty’s Theatre                      Website: www.aberdeenperformingarts.com 

Monday 18 – Saturday 23 January                      Box Office: 0844 871 7649

Stoke-on-Trent, Regent Theatre                        Website: www.atgtickets.com 

Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 February                     Box Office: 01684 892 277

Malvern Theatres                                                     Website: www.malvern-theatres.co.uk 

Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 February                   Box Office: 01494 512000

High Wycombe, Wycombe Swan                        Website: www.wycombeswan.co.uk 

Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 February                   Box Office: 01473 433100

Ipswich, Regent Theatre                                        Website: www.ipswichregent.com 

Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 May                                            Box Office: 0844 338 5000

Birmingham, Hippodrome                                     Website: www.birminghamhippodrome.com 

Further tour dates to be announced

Sep 20th

Blue Elephant Theatre’s New Patrons

By Carolin Kopplin

 

Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell, has two new Patrons, Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya and athlete Maggie Alphonsi. They will join Joanna Lumley, who has been patron since 2008, in representing and supporting this small theatre with a big impact.

 

Blue Elephant Theatre is a small fringe theatre located on the Wyndham and Comber Estate in Camberwell, South London. It seeks to offer creative opportunities to those who may not otherwise to be able to access them. Radzi and Maggie first came to know the Blue Elephant as members of Gareth Malone’s All Star Choir in 2014, recording a number one single to raise money for Children in Need. Participants of the Blue Elephant’s long-running Young People’s Theatre, which has been funded by Children in Need for nearly a decade, also took part in the choir, getting to know the celebrity singers and recording at the famous Abbey Road Studios.

 

This is good news for Blue Elephant Theatre which lost 20% of its core funding from Southwark Council earlier this summer. Participation & Co-Artistic Director Jo Sadler-Lovett says: “We are delighted to have two such inspirational people joining our team. The young people we work with face many challenges and our goal is to help them overcome these, finding success and happiness. I know our patrons feel the same, so we look forward to working together to enabling local young people to see an amazing future ahead of them.”

 

The focus of Blue Elephant’s Participation work is to tackle all forms of social exclusion in the local area by engaging individuals through the arts. Many of its projects target marginalised individuals or communities, as well as children in care, young carers and young people at the risk of offending. Last year, the Participation Department worked with over 2500 individuals, aged 4 to 82 and provided over 650 workshops free of charge.

Aug 7th

This Heaven - European Premiere of a New Play by Australian Aboriginal Playwright Nakkiah Lui at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

We never asked for money.
We asked for justice.
Maybe we shouldn’t have asked.
Maybe we should have just taken it.

In a new production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre and originally seen as a staged reading as part of Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, the European premiere of This Heaven by Nakkiah Lui runs at the Finborough Theatre, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from Sunday, 30 August 2015 .

Telling a universal story and evoking recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and the London riots of 2011, This Heaven is the story of an indigenous Australian family at breaking point.

Sissy Gordon’s father, an Aboriginal man and pillar of the community, has died in custody at Mount Druitt Police Station, New South Wales. But the justice that Sissy and her family were certain was coming to them is suddenly snatched away. Sissy is about to qualify as a lawyer, but tonight, the law seems irrelevant to her.  Tonight is dirty and heavy, and the moon is swollen and bright. Everyone knows that on nights like this things happen…

Burning with a wild rage, the streets and parks of Mount Druitt are transformed into a fierce public forum where anger explodes onto the street. What does justice look like?  And what happens when you push someone so far they take the law into their own hands?

This Heaven received its successful world premiere in February 2013 at the Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to share the story of one Aboriginal family’s experience of a system that fails them through the stories and music of an ancient and beautiful culture.

Further information: www.finboroughtheatre.com

Jul 24th

Grimeborn - Arcola’s Opera Festival Returns for Ninth Year

By Carolin Kopplin

The Arcola Theatre presents a dozen new productions, comprising an alternative opera season in East London.

Innovative adaptations of traditional operas. Unknown, rarely-seen or under-appreciated works. Brand new pieces from the most exciting up-and-coming composers, musicians and companies.

Since it launched in 2007, the Grimeborn festival has introduced new audiences to opera and given emerging artists the platform to showcase and develop their talent. It has consistently challenged the perception that opera is inaccessible and elitist.

Arcola Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said: “For the ninth year running, Grimeborn will showcase work from some of our most exciting opera artists, in an accessible way and at an affordable price. Classics by Puccini, Verdi and Strauss will be reimagined; little-known masterpieces like Tchouhadjian’s Gariné will receive rare productions; new and contemporary works will demonstrate the ongoing vibrancy of opera within our culture.”

Grimeborn 2015 will fill both Arcola studios with a dozen exciting productions.

You can see 5 operas for £50 or less with Arcola Passport. More info and the latest updates can be found at :

www.arcolatheatre.com/grimeborn

 

Jul 17th

Autumn Season at the Finborough

By Carolin Kopplin

The Finborough Theatre celebrates its 35th year with an Autumn Season of vibrant new plays and unique rediscoveries.

The season opens with the world premiere of My Eyes Went Dark by Matthew Wilkinson. Starring Thusitha Jayasundera and Cal MacAninch, this new drama is based on real events and runs from 25 August–19 September. It plays alongside the European premiere of This Heaven by the acclaimed new Aboriginal Australian writer Nakkiah Lui, on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from 30 August–15 September.

Originally seen as a staged reading at Vibrant 2014 – A Festival Of Finborough PlaywrightsThe Sweethearts by Sarah Page receives its world premiere from 22 September–17 October. It plays alongside Horniman's Choice, an evening of four rediscovered one act plays by dramatists from the 'Manchester School' – Harold Brighouse, Stanley Houghton and Allan Monkhouse – originally championed by Annie Horniman of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, the first regional repertory theatre in Britain, in their first UK professional productions in over 90 years on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from 27 September–13 October.

The season culminates with a rediscovery and the seventh consecutive year of the new plays festival Vibrant 2015 – A Festival Of Finborough Playwrights. Treasure by David Pinski is a classic of Yiddish theatre from 1905, and only now receiving its UK premiere, from 20 October–14 November, in a new version by former literary manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Colin Chambers. Vibrant 2015 – A Festival Of Finborough Playwrights returns for its seventh year with twelve staged readings of new plays from 25 October–12 November.

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

 

Jul 3rd

ALL RISE FOR ANTONY COSTA!

By Kirstie Niland

TOMMY, Blackpool Opera House

12th-26th September

The announcement that Blue’s Antony Costa is to star in rock opera Tommy when it premieres in Blackpool is exciting news for North West fans. However they should prepare themselves because this role means no more Mr Nice Guy. For the boy band hearthrob is playing Tommy’s sadistic Cousin Kevin who bullies and tortures the deaf, dumb and blind pinball player.

And he can’t wait to get started. “People know me for being the Cockney boy, Jack the Lad, so this is out of my comfort zone,” says Antony. “If I can pull it off and do it to the best of my ability it’s another string to my bow. If you’re given the chance to play a different character you have got to audition. You’ve got to be able to act and not be stereotypical. Be resolute. I don’t want to get parts off the back of my name. For Tommy I have to play a psycho really well and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it.”

This is definitely a step away from the norm as Antony is more often seen in wholesome roles - such as Aladdin at the Kings Theatre in Southsea. Coincidentally this is the very same location Pinball Wizard was filmed in the 1975 movie version of Tommy, a number Antony performs in the show. Even more prophetic is that Antony plays the character made famous by the show’s director, stage and screen star Paul Nicholas. “Paul auditioned me, and I’m looking forward to him giving me advice. I will take everything he says on board.”

Born Antony Daniel Costa on 23rd June 1981, the 34-year-old singer/songwriter began his career in TV as a young boy playing pupils in Grange Hill and Chalk. In his late teens Blue was born, and his focus turned to music. Over the ensuing years Antony has done reality TV, modelling and the Eurovision Song Contest. Theatrical success began in the West End, 2006, when he starred as Mickey Johnstone alongside Maureen Nolan. In 2007 he played Roddy in Boogie Nights opposite Alvin Stardust. Then in 2010 he became Cal in POPSTAR the Musical. This Christmas he’s back in panto as Prince Charming at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre.

Meanwhile the boys from Blue are still going strong. Currently on tour promoting their album Colours they’ve just returned from Japan. So many bands have short-lived success, what is the bond that keeps the Blue boys together? “Laughter and friendship,” he says. “Come on the road with us for a couple of days and you’ll see we are worn out from laughter. If one of us is feeling down the other three picks us up. We love each other to death. We’ve always had respect for each other, it’s about staying together but letting each other do other things, encouraging and supporting each other” explains Antony. “When we started out we were non-stop for five years, we only had Christmas and Boxing Day off. You don’t get tired, you get drained. In 2005 we sat down and said we’re not enjoying it, let’s take six months off, let’s chill and do other things. That turned into six years."

It seems Antony has always been a bit of thespian at heart: “I got into acting first but you just don’t know where things are going to take you when you’re 17 or 18 – and 16 years later I’m doing another show and still gigging with the boys. It’s nice to combine the two. A lot of people think if one of us is doing something else then the band must have split up but look at Gary Barlow and Take That. It’s good to do other things, it keeps your mind active, and I don’t want to live with regrets and think I wish I’d done this or done that. I can’t wait to get on that stage and be someone else for a couple of weeks.”

It will be great to see Antony back up North again too. Blue were a huge draw at the 80s v 90s night at last year’s Lytham Proms (even though Blue are from the noughties!) Before that Antony’s last trip to Lancashire was in 2010 for a gig in Preston, before travelling through the night to Gatwick to find out who his surprise fellow guests would be in Channel 4's Celebrity Five Go To Turkey. “That was a wicked show! Russell Grant was there so it was nice to see a friendly face.” Out of his housemates Antony got on best with Russell and former 80s wildchild, Emma Ridley, now famous in LA for her Goddess Fitness Dance studios. “Emma’s a Piscean, Russell is an Aquarian and I’m Cancer,” he says. “All water signs. I’m not that into astrology but you have to listen. Russell did my astrological chart years before the show and said he knew I was coming to Turkey!”

Blackpool certainly seems written in the stars for Antony. Tommy looks set to be a sell-out, and Boogie nights also premiered in Blackpool. “Haha yes there is a bit of Blackpool vibe going on!” he admits.  “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to a few parties there with Blackpool’s own Nolans, we used to have a right old craic.”

Now a father and engaged to dental nurse Rosanna Jasmin, Antony has put his wild days firmly behind him and is dedicated to family life. “I love to share my experiences and say Mum, Dad, Fiancée, baby – this is what I do.” All the Blue boys have children now, and recent Rat Pack style promotional shots reflect their album’s chilled lounge/Motown feel and a more mature, Hollywood image. Could a movie role be on the cards?

“You never know! My film heroes are Pacino and De Niro. I love their presence and performance. Robin Williams was an amazing actor. I played an extra in Secret Agent when I was about 12 and he was ridiculously good. I told him and he said “thanks man, thank you” in his Genie voice from Aladdin. My dream stage role would be Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. Who knows after Tommy but as long as I’m auditioning and working I’m cool.”

So what would Antony’s advice be to anyone starting out? “Keep going. Learn your trade and work hard at it. Make sure you’ve got thick skin - and enjoy what you do.”

Last but not least, the most important question of all. Has he ever been on the Big One? “No but it’s got to be done,” he laughs.

Despite growing up near Blackpool I confess that neither have I. “That’s dreadful,” Antony says, “We’ll have to put that right! We'll do it together, I’ll meet you on the Big One in September!”

It’s a deal :-)

Tommy the film, based on The Who’s 1969 album, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Directed by Ken Russell it starred the band members, with lead singer Roger Daltrey in the title role, alongside Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John and Jack Nicholson. Antony will appear in the stage version at Blackpool Opera House with X-Factor winner Joe McElderry as Tommy.

For tickets prices and bookings go to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk

 Photograph courtesy of Winter Gardens Blackpool

 

Jun 13th

Autumn Season at Theatre503

By Carolin Kopplin

First up is Bea Roberts' And Then Come the Nightjars, a chronicle of an English farm's struggle following the 2001 Foot and Mouth crisis. It is tender and angry and hilarious in turn, directed by Paul Robinson.

The other award-winner is in striking contrast. Valhalla by Paul Murphy is a dark and devastating piece about science and humanity and that elusive territory where the two elide. This profound story of man vs nature will be brought to life by Jo McInnes. His recent work includes the Midsummer Mischief season at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Then we have Jon Brittain's Rotterdam. This bitter-sweet comedy about sexual identity and love is the culmination of Jon’s six year relationship with the theatre and continues the season's celebration of in-house talent. You may remember him as the co-creator of 503’s Maggie Thatcher Queen of Soho and a previous 503 in-house writer.

And finally, making a riotous return for the Christmas period are the award-winning comedy trio and new 503 Associate company Sleeping Trees with Cinderella and the Beanstalk. Back by popular demand after its sell-out success last year this is a festive treat suitable for family members young (ideal for 6+), old and everything in-between.

 

Further information: Theatre503

Jun 6th

UK Tour Announced for Little Bulb Theatre's Acclaimed Production of Orpheus

By Carolin Kopplin

Following two sold-out runs at Battersea Arts Centre and at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival, Little Bulb Theatre’s critically-acclaimed production of Orpheus will play at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre as part of the 2015 Deloitte Ignite Festival (15-19 Sept), Bristol Old Vic (23-26 Sept), Nuffield Southampton (29 Sept-3 Oct), Liverpool Everyman (20-24 Oct) and Birmingham Repertory Theatre (28-31 Oct) on its first-ever UK tour. 

Little Bulb Theatre’s Orpheus is an original musical re-imagining of the epic Greek myth inspired by the music of legendary jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt.

1930s Paris: charismatic songstress Yvette Pépin has cajoled the guitar virtuoso, Django Reinhardt, into joining her in a brand new production of Orpheus. He will play the tragic hero, she will play his lost love Eurydice. Together with her troupe of operatic players she tells the thrilling tale of Orpheus’s ill-fated descent into the underworld, set to a live score of hot club jazz, opera and French chanson.

Formed in 2008, Little Bulb Theatre has been widely applauded for its genre-shifting approach and readiness to embrace fresh challenges with every new production. From fantastical balletic farce to folk opera to intimate character pieces, no two shows are ever the same. Developed over two years at Battersea Arts Centre, Orpheus is the Company’s largest-scale and most ambitious production to-date. 

Music has played an integral part in all of Little Bulb’s past productions but Orpheus puts it right at its heart: it is entirely sung-through in a veritable musical feast including original compositions alongside Bach, Monteverdi, Edith Piaf and Debussy. In developing the show, members of the Company learnt the double bass, clarinet and slide-whistle from scratch then hit the road to play gigs across the UK as a real-life jazz band. To elevate his guitar technique to that of a maestro, performer Dominic Conway trained and lived alongside Lollo 
Meier, a travelling guitar virtuoso much like Django Reinhardt.

Little Bulb Theatre’s Artistic Director, Alexander Scott, was nominated for the Salzburg Festival’s Young Director’s Award in 2014 for the boldness of innovation in Orpheus. This is the third nomination that the Salzburg Festival has given to productions commissioned and developed at Battersea Arts Centre following Ontroerend Goed’s A Game of You (2010) and 1927’s The Animals and Children Took to the Streets (2013).

Orpheus is written and devised by Little Bulb Theatre and directed by Alexander Scott, with design by Mary Drummond, puppets by Max Humphries and sound design by Ed Clarke. It is performed by Clare Beresford, Dominic Conway, Miriam Gould, Eugénie Pastor, Charlie Penn, Tom Penn, Alexander Scott and Shamira Turner. Orpheus is a Little Bulb Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre co-production.

Listings information:
 

Deloitte Ignite, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio Theatre
15 – 19 September 
Performances Tues-Fri at 19:45, Sat at 13:30 & 18:00      
Book tickets: www.roh.org.uk
 / 020 7304 4000 (Currently on sale to members. General booking opens 14 July, 9am)

Bristol Old Vic 
23 – 26 September
Performances Weds-Fri at 19:30, Sat at 14:30 & 19:30
Book tickets: 
www.bristololdvic.org.uk / 0117 987 7877

Nuffield Southampton 
29 September – 3 October
Performances Tues-Fri at 19:30, Sat at 14:30 & 19:30
Book tickets: 
www.nuffieldtheatre.co.uk / 023 8067 1771

Liverpool Everyman 
20 – 24 October
Performances Tues, Weds, Fri at 19:30; Thurs at 17:30; Sat at 14:00 & 19:30
Book tickets: 
www.everymanplayhouse.com / 0151 709 4776 (on sale soon)

Birmingham Repertory Theatre 
28 – 31 October
Performances Weds & Thurs at 19:00; Fri & Sat at 19:45
Book tickets: 
www.birmingham-rep.co.uk / 0121 236 4455

Jun 6th

New Season at the Orange Tree Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

 

Announcing Paul Miller’s second season as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre

  • Artistic Director Paul Miller announces a season of collaborations, rediscoveries and new work, building on the success of his inaugural season which attracted over 40,000 people to the 168-seat venue (90% capacity), with nearly 1 in 3 people new to the Theatre (45% for Pomona) and over 2,000 discounted seats sold to under 30s.
  • The season opens with the first major revival of Sharman Macdonald’s When We Were Women, in a co-production with Snapdragon, directed by their Artistic Director Eleanor Rhode (Toast at the Park Theatre, Teddy at Southwark Playhouse).
  • Paul Miller revives Terence Rattigan’s comedy French Without Tears, getting its first full-scale London revival in a generation.
  • Following a sell-out run in 2014, Deborah Bruce’s The Distance returns in a co-production with Sheffield Theatres where it opens.
  • £12 tickets available to under 30s across 50 performances.
  • Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns visits the OT for Christmas from Wizard
  • Also, the Orange Tree presents 75 performances this autumn elsewhere with Alistair McDowall’s Pomona at the National Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre, and The Distance in the Studio at Sheffield Theatres.
  • Richard Humphreys appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees and Kate Ellis Vice Chair.
  • The Orange Tree offers opportunities to emerging directors through the J.P. Morgan Award with the National Theatre Studio and with an MA in Directing in collaboration with St Mary’s University.
  • Take Part, the OT’s education and participation work involves over 20,000 people from the local community every year, including the return of Fun Palaces for a second time on 4 October after the phenomenal success of last year’s nationwide event.

Paul Miller comments: “I'm delighted to announce an autumn programme which is a classic Orange Tree mix of contemporary work and rare revivals. And two of last year's smash hits return: The Distance and Pomona. We are no longer regularly funded by the Arts Council but our spirit of adventure remains strong: more new work is in the pipeline for early in 2016 and we're really proud to be collaborating with Snapdragon, Sheffield Theatres, Wizard, the NT and the Royal Exchange to deliver this autumn's five exciting productions.” 

Priority booking for members opens from Mon 1 June at 10am

Public booking opens Wed 10 June at 10am

Box Office 020 8940 3633 orangetreetheatre.co.uk

May 26th

Old Vic New Voices Festival

By Carolin Kopplin

19 June - 24 July

The Old Vic

Celebrating the work of exceptional and emerging playwrights, Old Vic New Voices is delighted to invite you to the Old Vic New Voices Festival, which will include readings of plays from the US & UK, a dynamic schools tour, the showcase of a new musical and fresh performances from The Old Vic Community Company.

Produced, directed and performed by the most exciting emerging and established talent that the industry has to offer, they will be staged in front of an invited industry audience with limited tickets on general release via a ticket lottery.

For more information about the plays, playwrights and directors and to enter our lottery, please click here