Are We Where We Are? Is a two year theatre project created by award-winning Theatre Absolute and presented at the Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, which will see the 9 new pieces commissioned for the stage including a monologue, duologue, a devised ensemble production and 6 short form theatre pieces written and performed by the writers.
Taking American novelist Henry David Thoreau’s provocation “We are not where we are, but in a false position” as a central theme, these new commissions will explore where we are now, telling stories of the personal and the political.
The project launches with the premiere of May Utang written and performed by Jules Orcullo at the Shop Front Theatre on Thursday 11 May, 7.30pm. The performance will be followed by an opportunity to hear more about Are We Where We Are? the new commissions planned for the project, and this new work by Jules Orcullo.
Jules Orcullo is a Filipina-Australian writer and performer, May Utang, which translates as ‘there’s debt’ recounts her encounters with people questioning her identity whilst living in Coventry, Sydney and the Philippines. This premiere performance will last approx. 20 minutes.
Chris O’Connell, artistic director Theatre Absolute and writer said:
“Thoreau’s quote, ‘We are not where we are, but in a false position’ seems particularly apt at this moment in the 21st Century. It’s a provocative call for theatre makers to explore peoples’ experiences today. It includes headline issues like politics, economics and migration but will reflect much wider perspectives offered by exciting new and established writers. We look forward to seeing our artists’ responses.”
Julia Negus, producer Theatre Absolute said:
“The new pieces of theatre planned for the next two years, starting with May Utang, will make the most of our theatre space which was created in a former fish and chip shop in a shopping precinct in Coventry. Whilst working here over the last eight years we have experimented with different theatre forms and we look forward to sharing these new works with our audiences. If you haven’t been to the Shop Front yet do come along, it would be lovely to see you.”
Jules Orcullo’s May Utang premieres on May 11 at 7.30pm. There will also be a post show chat and an after show party with a special soul funk DJ set!
Tickets are £8 (full price) & £6 (concessions) available online from Oxboffice and ticket includes an invite to stay for the post show discussion and after party.
The project is supported by Arts Council England, Coventry City Council, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Talking Birds, The Belgrade Theatre and Warwick Arts Centre.
Find out more here.
Following critically acclaimed and record-breaking sold-out runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Savoy Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome is delighted to welcome Sheridan Smith in the UK Tour of Funny Girl from 8 – 13 May 2017 who reprises her highly praised performance of Fanny Brice.
Funny Girl brought global fame to Barbra Streisand 50 years ago and boasts some of the most iconic songs in film and theatre history, including People and Don’t Rain On My Parade.
This ‘iconic, legendary, laugh-out-loud’ (The Times) musical tells the story of Fanny Brice, whose vocal talents and comedic ability see her rise from Brooklyn music hall singer to Broadway star.
Sheridan Smith reprises the role of Fanny Brice. Her other theatre work includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Michael Grandage Company at the Noel Coward Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Old Vic),Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket – Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress, Evening Standard Theatre Award and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress), Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre – Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical), Tinderbox (Bush Theatre), The People are Friendly (Royal Court) and Into the Woods (Donmar Warehouse). For television, her credits includeBlackwork, The C Word, Cilla, The Widower, The 7.39, Dates, Mr Stink, Mrs Biggs (BAFTA Award for Best Actress), Accused, Scapegoat, Little Crackers, Jonathan Creek, Gavin & Stacey, Larkrise to Candleford, Grown Ups, Love Soup, Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps, The Royle Familyand Wives and Daughters; and for film, The Huntsman, Powder Room, Quartet, Tower Block and Hysteria.
Director Michael Mayer’s West End credits include Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith and Novello Theatre) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Shaftesbury Theatre). For Broadway his work includes Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Tony Award nomination for Best Director), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, American Idiot (Drama Desk Award for Best Director of a Musical), Spring Awakening (Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Drama Desk Award for Best Direction of a Musical) and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown (Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical). For television, his work includes Smash and Alpha House, and for film his credits include A Home at the End of the World, Flicka and currently in post-production, Chekhov's The Seagull. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut with a celebrated new production of Rigoletto.
Funny Girl is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Scott Landis Productions, Chocolate Factory Productions, Dante Di Loreto and Michael Harrison.
Funny Girl visits Birmingham Hippodrome from Mon 8 – Sat 13 May. For tickets, call the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.
‘Smith is hilarious, glorious, touching. With a performance that is all-singing, all dancing, all-joking and, somehow, all-soul too.’
‘Michael Mayer’s exhilarating embrace of a production.’
‘A winningly exuberant performance. The most brilliant comic actress at work today.’
This year Lichfield Operatic Society is celebrating its 75thAnniversary by bringing two classic musicals to the Lichfield Garrick, Annie and South Pacific.
The well-loved family classic, Annie is the first production of the celebratory year and is coming to the stage this week. Based on Little Orphan Annie, this popular comic strip by Harold Gray has become a worldwide sensation.
With a perfect combination of street-smarts and optimism, Annie warms the hearts of the audience as we witness her rise from next-to-nothing in New York City.
Taking on the title role throughout the run of the show are Katie Davey and Molly Bagley who are both currently in their first year of studies at Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls.
The two girls will be sharing what can only be described as a dream role for any young female actress, with Katie performing on the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Evening performances and Molly Bagley will be performing Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Matinee.
Katie has appeared in many productions with Lichfield Operatic Society including Fiddler on the Roof, Whistle Down the Wind, The King and I and The Sound of Music where she took on the role of Gretal.
Katie said “I played the part of Kate in Annie at the Sutton Town Hall in 2014 and had great fun. I loved Annie so much that I wanted to do it again and so... here I am! I am so excited to be playing the part of Annie and particularly enjoy singing I Don’t Need Anything But You”
This will be Molly’s first appearance with the society but she has been performing with Theatrics since the age of 6 and last year played Oliver in Oliver at the Highbury Theatre with From the Top Theatre Company.
Molly said “I love rehearsing for Annie and spending time with the entire cast, especially the other Annie who is in one of my classes at School. I love to perform and would like to Study Performing Arts in the future.”
Including Katie and Molly the production will feature a total of 24 girls from Lichfield and surrounding areas.
The show runs from 18-22 April 2017. Tickets can be purchased at www.lichfieldgarrick.com or by calling the box office on 01543 412121.
The Mellow Dramatics return to the Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton with Lionel Bart's iconic musical Oliver!
Based on Charles Dicken's classic tale of Oliver Twist, the musical adaptation is a family favourite and features a raft of memorable songs, including Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself and As Long As He Needs Me.
The first stage hit of a Dickens adaptation, the show will certainly leave you wanting 'more' from the talented Mellow Dramatics.
Playing from 13 - 17 September at the Brewhouse Arts Centre, tickets are just £12 (with £10 tickets for Tuesday and Saturday matinee). To book tickets simply call the box office on 01283 508100. For more information visit www.Mellow-Dramatics.org.
West End Stars Kieran Brown Lauren Samuels and Siobhan Dillon, patrons of the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, are gearing up to support the part-time performing arts school as they stage Jason Robert Brown’s teen rock musical, ‘13’ at Redditch Palace Theatre in September.
With student’s aged 11-19, BITA has been rehearsing for months alongside its usual term time classes to bring this funny and moving musical to life. The musical, complete with live on-stage band runs from 8 - 10 September.
Kieran Brown (Phantom of the Opera, Wicked) said: "I'm hugely excited for the first BITA production, "13"! I've seen first hand how hard everyone has worked and continue to be blown away by the talent, commitment and passion from everyone involved. I'm sure this will be just the first of many unmissable shows, and wish everyone the very best. The audiences are in for something very special!"
Lauren Samuels (BBC’s Over The Rainbow, Bend It Like Beckham) said: “It's rare to see such exceptional talent from children, I feel privileged to have seen them perform a section from their new show '13' and trust me, you don't want to miss this!”
Chris Passey, Principal of BITA said: “Our students work so hard to realise their full potential, training with us alongside their full-time education. The voices you will hear in this production are incredible and we are all very proud of them.”
Tickets can be purchased from the box office, by calling 01527 65203 or online via www.birminghamita.org.uk.
Tickets £15.00* & £13.50* (disc) *inclusive of booking fee £1 per ticket up to a maximum of £4.
Following their hugely successful 2015 production of White Christmas, South Staffs Musical Theatre Company return to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre to present their new production of 9 to 5 The Musical from Tuesday 11 – Sat 15 October.
Outrageous, thought provoking and even a little romantic, 9 to 5 The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business. The musical is based on the hit 1980 movie that centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist boss, featuring original numbers from Dolly Parton's Oscar, Tony® and Grammy Award nominated score including the original hit song 9 To 5.
Pushed to the boiling point, co-workers Violet, Judy and Doralee concoct a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot they call their boss, Franklin Hart. In a hilarious turn of events, the girls live out their wildest fantasy - giving their boss the boot! While Hart remains "otherwise engaged," the women give their workplace a dream makeover, taking control of the company that had always kept them down.
Boss Franklin Hart is played by Simon McGee from Gornal who meets his match with Doralee played by Lexie Bennett, Judy - Abbie Rai from Willenhall and Violet played by Maria Shee from Penn in Wolverhampton who is also the choreographer for the production.
Lexie’s sister, Natasha Bennett plays secretary Roz, and the cast also includes Dan Haddon(Joe), Roger Stokes (Tinswothy), James Collins (Dick), Joash Musundi (Dwayne), Dave Ball(Detective), Nikki Rai (Margaret), Jo Davis (Missy), Rachel Coalman (Kathy), Zoe Priestley(Maria) Rosie Harper (Candy Striper) and Abbie Ratcliffe (Doctor). Talented local performers complete the cast’s ensemble. Direction is by Alf Rai and Musical Supervision is by Rob Murray.
South Staffs Musical Theatre Company celebrated their 80th anniversary in May 2016. The company was originally formed in 1936 and over the years has presented popular operettas and musical comedy to audiences in Wolverhampton every since. The company perform every year at the Grand Theatre giving everyday people a taste of life performing in a professional theatre.
Chair of South Staffs Musical Theatre Company, Alison Norton said; “We are extremely excited and proud to present this Broadway smash hit musical. 9 To 5 has all the right elements to delight our audiences – great songs, hilarious comedy and characters which we can all relate to. The ladies in the audience will be cheering the girls on and the gents will love them for their sassy attitude and glamour. It is such an uplifting show with just the right amount of madness and mayhem, as well as promoting girl power!”
9 to 5 The Musical opens on Tuesday 11 October and plays at the Grand Theatre until Saturday 15. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office on 01902 42 92 12 or online at grandtheatre.co.uk.
BBC Cuff’s Jacob Ifan will make his professional theatrical debut in a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Wednesday 19 – Saturday 22 October 2016.
Jacob, who trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama will play Charles Darnay. He is best known for playing the lead role of PC Jake Vickers on the BBC’s recent TV series Cuffs.
Joining Jacob is Joseph Timms as Sydney Carton, whose credits include Twelfth Night and Richard III (Donmar on Broadway), Privates on Parade (Noel Coward Theatre) and The Hudsucker Proxy (Nuffield/Liverpool Everyman).
Shanaya Rafaat who has appeared in Great Expectations (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Around the World in 80 Days (St James Theatre) and King Lear (Shakespeare’s Globe), will play Lucie Manette and Sue Wallace, whose National Theatre credits include Husbands and Sons, Emil and the Detectives and Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories, takes the role of Miss Pross. Patrick Romer, who has numerous RSC credits to his name, plays Dr Manette.
Harry Attwell, whose credits include The Skriker (Royal Exchange Theatre), The Crucible (Old Vic) and Henry V (Michael Grandage Company) will play Defarge and Noa Bodner, whose credits include Testing the Echo/Moving Stories (National Theatre) and Playing for Time (Sheffield Crucible), will play Madame Defarge. Michael Garner, fresh from Nell Gwynn in the West End, appears as Lorry.
Sean Murray (The Hook and Cat on at Hot Tin Roof, Royal & Derngate) plays Barsad and Christopher Hunter (The Surprise of Love and Iphigenia, Theatre Royal Bath; Romeo and Juliet, RSC) will be the Marquis. The cast is completed by Rebecca Birch, Jonathan Dryden Taylor and Jon Tarcy.
Dickens considered his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities the best story he had ever written. Interweaving one family’s intensely personal drama with the terror and chaos of the French Revolution, it is an epic story of love, sacrifice and redemption amidst horrific violence and world changing events.
A Tale of Two Cities was first produced in Northampton in 2014, to great critical and public acclaim, and was director James Dacre’s inaugural production at the theatre. Adapted by Mike Poulton (Fortune’s Fool, Old Vic and Broadway, Wolf Hall RSC, West End & Broadway), and with an original score by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman (The Cider House Rules, Beloved), and UK Theatre Award nominated design by Mike Britton, with lighting design by Paul Keogan, sound design by Adrienne Quartly, movement direction by Struan Leslie, and fight direction by Terry King.
Director James Dacre said:
"Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities in 1859 as a meditation on politics and power, the individual versus the system and the private versus the public. Mike Poulton, Rachel Portman and I first mounted this adaptation in the aftermath of the Arab Spring to cast a light on the protests, fanaticism and political unrest that were spreading across the world at that time.
Our decision along with Jenny King, Producer of The Touring Consortium, to revisit the production during this year of elections, referendums and revolutions across the world is motivated by a shared belief that great historical dramas can play an important role in contemporary political conversations by emotionally engaging audiences in human stories, countering the disaffection that seems to dominate so much of today's political debate. Theatre and music can be imbued with a passion that a novel cannot capture and Royal & Derngate and Touring Consortium’s A Tale of Two Cities aims to focus on the humanity of Dickens’ novel in a way that gives the historical events an immediacy and urgent relevance for today’s audiences.”
Created by producer Jenny King, The Touring Consortium Theatre Company is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year having produced the highly successful Of Mice and Men earlier in the year.
Jenny King said, “The company was created in 1996 in response to a need expressed by chief executives of several of the UKs leading touring venues for quality text based drama that reached out to new, young audiences as well as sustaining the interest of core theatre goers. Since its creation we have produced over 25 productions and played to over a million people, involving some 25,000 young people in our workshops and creative learning programmes.”
A Tale of Two Cities will play at at Wolverhampton Grand from Wednesday 19 – Saturday 22 October 2016, tickets are on sale now from the box office, by calling 01902 42 92 12 or online at grandtheatre.co.uk.
Twenty-four ‘extras’ from across the Midlands are taking part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production of King Lear, which features Antony Sher in the title role, and is directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran. The extras appear on stage in a number of scenes as Lear’s knights, soldiers and vagrants, in a production that runs until 12 October in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Back in June the RSC put out a call asking for people to get involved in the production. A number of ‘taster’ workshops took place, involving movement, acting, singing and fight sessions, to give those interested a glimpse of what the experience would entail. From the 140 people who applied, twenty-four will now get to tread the stage of the world-famous theatre, appearing in alternate performances in two groups of twelve.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, and director of King Lear, said:
“Lear often refers to his ‘one hundred knights’ but rarely do we get to see full their riotous presence on stage. We wanted the audience to experience what his daughter Goneril has to go through when entertaining his ‘insolent retinue’ and maybe understand why she would want to cast him and his people out into the storm. It felt like a wonderful opportunity to engage with the local community, as we did back in 2012 with Julius Caesar with great success, to bring to life these ‘debauched and bold’ knights. It is going to be very exciting to watch our supporting cast of twenty-four Midlanders bring a new energy and life to one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays.”
Those taking part include a local government officer from Birmingham; a warehouse logistics officer in Atherstone; a Customer Services advisor for Royal Mail from Kenilworth; a school groundsman from Solihull; and a rowing coach from Stratford-upon-Avon.
In order to understand more about the way in which the RSC mounts a production, the extras have been spending time with members of the King Lear creative team, including Anna Girvan (Assistant Director), Bret Yount (Fight Director) and Michael Ashcroft (Movement Director).
For more information and to book tickets visit rsc.org.uk.
LGYT are set to present another Lichfield premiere with Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard, this October.
Based on the Billy Wilder film, the musical version of Sunset Boulevard, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black, had its world premiere at London’s Adelphi Theatre on July 12, 1993.
The show received its American premiere on 9 December 1993 at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. The LA production starred Glenn Close (Norma Desmond), Alan Campbell (Joe Gillis), Judy Kuhn (Betty Schaefer) and George Hearn (Max von Mayerling), with Close, Campbell and Hearn going on to recreate their roles for the show’s 1994 Broadway opening at the Minskoff Theatre on 17 November 1994 – they were also joined by Alice Ripley as Betty Schaefer. That production opened with the highest advance in Broadway history at the time ($37.5 million in ticket sales).
Sunset Boulevard weaves a magnificent tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition. Silent movie star Norma Desmond longs for a return to the big screen, having been discarded by tinsel town with the advent of “talkies.” Her glamour has faded in all but her mind. When she meets struggling Hollywood screen-writer Joe Gillis in dramatic circumstances, their subsequent passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic conclusion.
Ex-Youth Theatre members Siobhan Dillon and Katie Kerr have recently completed a run in the West End revival by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum which saw movie star Glenn Close return to the role of Norma Desmond, Siobhan played the leads love interest Betty and Katie was a featured performer in the ENO company.
Our cast of over 40 will be supported by the usual high standard LGYT orchestra conducted and musically directed by Oliver Rowe, with Direction from Richard Poynton and Choreography by Jessica Lambert.
The show runs from Tuesday 4 October until Saturday 8 October. Book online now at www.lichfieldyouththeatre.co.uk or by calling the box office daily from 11am on 01543412121.
Demand for this Lichfield Premier production are expected to be high, so book early to avoid disappointment. Discounted tickets are available for the Tuesday and Wednesday performances.
Sutton Coldfield’s award-winning company Trinity Players are preparing to walk a little on the wild side for their next production. The Players are busy rehearsing The Wind in the Willows ready for opening night in September.
The Alan Bennett play based on Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic is a new challenge for the company who celebrated their 40 year anniversary in 2015.
The story follows friends Ratty, Mole and Badger as they endeavour to stop the inimitable Mr Toad from getting in to trouble. However, Toad’s love of motorcars and being in the limelight, coupled with his determination to do everything his own way makes their task a tough one. First performed at the National Theatre in 1990 this adaptation is a delight for audiences of all ages; a beautiful children’s story told with Bennett’s wry humour.
Although the story of Mr Toad is well known however, Trinity Players were keen to put their own spin on it, as director, Jennifer Mears explains: “Alan Bennett’s script focuses on the wonderful characters and their quirky personality traits rather than any animalistic qualities. We made the decision early on to stage the production without any animal masks, face paints and fluffy tales; but to rely on bringing out these characters instead. The cast have been working extremely hard to create the world of the riverbank, making it accessible for modern audiences.
This really is a production that the whole family can enjoy – the perfect treat to look forward to once the new school term has started!”
The Wind in The Willows runs at Sutton Arts Theatre from 20 – 24 September. Tickets are £10 (£9 matinee concessions) and are available via www.trinityplayers.com or 07843 928830.
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