Wednesday, 25 October 2017

REVIEW: Walter at Newcastle Alphabetti

Walter
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 24th - Saturday 28th October &
Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd November 2017

Written by Steve Byron
Directed by Ali Pritchard

Samantha Phyllis Morris and Emma Crowley-Bennett appear as Walter the pigeon, and the variety of creatures that he meets, in his World War 1 adventure for ages 8+.

Alphabetti Theatre are running Walter alongside Wilfred which is for a more mature audience. Both plays portray the horrors of war to their respective audience. Whilst Wilfred can show the emotional effects of mechanised war to its adult audience Walter needs to find a suitable vehicle to explain what happened without scaring the kids unnecessarily. Wilfred would be suitable for GCSE History students and older whereas Walter is for the Horrible Histories audience. By focussing the events through the eyes of a pigeon, writer Steve Byron has nicely side stepped some of the potential issues without the story losing any of the potency.

Walter is a Newcastle pigeon that has won a number of awards racing back to his pigeon loft. When war is called his owner, Bob, takes Walter across to France to work on communications between the trenches. He gets to meet General Haig’s falcon Sir Lancelot Proud-Beak and experiences truffles thanks to Claude the pig.

Rather than having human victims of war, the various pigeons in the loft show the signs of the regular battles. This proves to be a clever touch which kept the younger members of the audience engaged. Samantha Phyllis Morris and Emma Crowley-Bennett both are really engaging with the young crowd. The pigeon was learning about the war as the story progressed and this helped ensure anyone in the audience not familiar with the nature of the conflict were not kept in the dark. Ali Prichard’s direction involves the birds flying occasionally through the audience which helped break the fourth wall. Whilst there were bangs and flashes the children in the audience seemed happy.

This was a history lesson that was neither dull nor patronising. Walter is a successful show in that it informed, educated and entertained the audience. By programming the show, Alphabetti has also given families a chance to share the theatre experience without breaking the bank.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Tickets:
Walter
Tuesday 24th October – Saturday 28th October at 4.00pm.
Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd November at 6.00pm.
Age recommendation 8+
Running time: 45 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW 

Wilfred
Tuesday 24th October – Saturday 28th October at 7.30pm.
Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd November at 7.30pm.
Age recommendation 16+
Running time: 55 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW

Tickets £8.00/£6.00 concessions                             
Get £2.00 off if you book both shows

ADVERTISEMENT: THE PASSCHENDAELE PIN - Poppy Appeal 2017
These stunning poppy pins have been designed to pay tribute to each one of the fallen British soldiers from the Battle of Passchendaele.
 

Preview: Crazy For you at Sunderland Empire


CLAIRE SWEENEY JOINS THE CAST OF

CRAZY FOR YOU

WITH TOM CHAMBERS & CHARLOTTE WAKEFIELD

 

Crazy For You
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 24th - Saturday 28th April 2018



Jamie Wilson and Gavin Kalin are delighted to announce that Claire Sweeney will take over the role of ‘Irene’ in the national tour of the Watermill Theatre’s acclaimed production of CRAZY FOR YOU. Claire joins Tom Chambers who plays ‘Bobby’ and Charlotte Wakefield who plays ‘Polly’ from the 16 January 2018 at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, with a date at Sunderland Empire (24-28 April 2018).



Claire Sweeney has a television and theatre career which spans over 20 years. She is probably best known for playing the role of ‘Lindsey Corkhill’ in “Brookside”.  Other television credits include “Clocking Off” and “Merseybeat” along with a presenting role on “60 Minute Makeover” and a panellist on ITV’s “Loose Women”. Claire’s West End roles include ‘Roxie Hart’ in “Chicago” and ‘Miss Adelaide” in “Guys and Dolls”. Claire previously played the title role in “Educating Rita” at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and prior to that, played ‘Paulette’ in the UK tour of the award winning “Legally Blonde”. She most recently appeared as ‘Baroness Bomburst’ in the National Tour of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.



Tom Chambers created the role of Jerry Travers in the West End musical “Top Hat”, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 2008 he won the 6th season of “Strictly Come Dancing”. He can currently be seen in the hit BBC drama “Casualty” and his other TV credits include “Holby City” and “Waterloo Road”. His recent stage credits include “Private Lives” and “White Christmas” in the West End.



Charlotte Wakefield made her West End debut as ‘Wendla’ in “Spring Awakening”, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. She played ‘Maria’ in the critically acclaimed production of “The Sound of Music” at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre receiving nominations for Best Actress in a Musical at both the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards. Her other theatre credits include ‘Sophie’ in “Mamma Mia!” in the West End, ‘Truly Scrumptious’ in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Laurey in “Oklahoma!”, both on national tour.



The cast is completed by Arthur Boan, Daniel Bolton, Hollie Cassar, Neil Ditt, Kate-Anne Fenton, Cristopher Fry, Stacey Ghent, Matthew James Hinchliffe, Kieran Kuypers,  Kate Milner-Evans, Emma Jane Morton, Kate Robson-Stuart, Ned Rudkins-Stow, Seren Sandham-Davies, Mark Sangster and Abi Casson Thompson.



High energy, high kicking and gloriously glamorous, CRAZY FOR YOU is the ultimate feel-good musical with a fabulous score from the Gershwin brothers’ songbook. Mistaken identities, plot twists, heartbreak, happiness and a wealth of memorable tunes, including I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You, all feature in this exhilarating celebration of the great Broadway musicals.



CRAZY FOR YOU is directed by The Watermill’s Artistic Director, Paul Hart, with musical arrangements by Catherine Jayes (The Color Purple, Broadway). It is choreographed by Nathan M. Wright (High Society, Old Vic) and is designed by Diego Pitarch (The Addams Family). Lighting design is by Howard Hudson (In the Heights) with sound design by Tom Marshall (Legally Blonde).
CRAZY FOR YOU has Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Book by Ken Ludwig, co-conception by Ken Ludwig and Mike Ockrent. It is inspired by material by Guy Bolton and John McGowan. CRAZY FOR YOU was originally produced on Broadway by Roger Horchow and Elizabeth Williams. Original Broadway Choreography by Susan Stroman. 
 Tickets are now on sale.
Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliate ATGtickets*
*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your plus your phone company's access charge. Booking and transaction fees may apply.

Group Bookings: 0330 1027531
Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company's access charge.

 

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

REVIEW: Wilfred at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

Wilfred
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 24th - Saturday 28th October &
Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd November 2017

Wilfred is in a field hospital during the Great War. Married with twin boys, the young corporal has the additional responsibility of choosing the men who will go on special missions.  This new drama examines the effects of a mechanised war on the young combatants.

We are in a four year period marking the 100th anniversary of World War One. It was regarded by some as the forgotten war. Compared to WW2 and Vietnam a limited number of films and dramas looked at this particular conflict. In 2014 we had a small number of revivals of shows about the period and the likes of Accrington Pals and Birdsong were fairly tame treatments when compared to, say, the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. As time has gone on, new writing has re-examined the period and the results are productions which are more visceral, have greater urgency and poignancy. Wilfred is another example of writing which is respectful to the fallen and their sacrifice but also willing to share the horror.

Wilfred is dedicated to Alfred Kitching, who is writer Gary Kitching’s great grandfather. Alfred was killed in combat on The Spring offensive in 1918. Gary has produced a fine script which looks at the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but also leaves some room for the humour that is also the part of the human condition.
Jack Lloyd appears as Corporal Wilfred and he gives a very physical performance of the turmoil that Wilfred faced. The nightmares didn’t necessarily stop when he woke up. Megan Robson completes the cast as Nurse Syrup, the caring provider of clean sheets and sweet cups of tea.  The role of a nurse included that of being a good listener and much of the evening’s humour came from Wilfred’s attempt at poetry. The change in the political landscape is also hinted at as the Nurse’s reason for training is given as Pankhurst’s call to support the fighting forces.  She asks about the soldier’s feelings about Suffrage, he doesn’t really give a reply.

Director Paula Penman keeps a tight, intelligent, reign on the pace of the piece. There are moments of quiet reflection in the dialogue and there are moments of intense action.  The show is another fine example of the great work that now gets a platform thanks to Alphabetti’s programming policy. Running just under an hour, this show would work well if it was to go to Edinburgh Fringe.

Wilfred is a gripping examination of a young soldier’s stay in hospital. Torn between his roles as a family man and a leader of a fighting group he also has to face his own personal demons. Jack Lloyd and Megan Robson give a great performance.


Review by Stephen Oliver

Wilfred appears in a double bill with Walter, which is suitable for ages 8+  See the Preview for details: http://nomorepanicbutton.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/preview-walter-wilfred-at-newcastle.html

Tickets:
Walter
Tuesday 24th October – Saturday 28th October at 4.00pm.
Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd November at 6.00pm.
Age recommendation 8+
Running time: 45 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW 

Wilfred
Tuesday 24th October – Saturday 28th October at 7.30pm.
Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd November at 7.30pm.
Age recommendation 16+
Running time: 55 minutes BOOK ONLINE NOW

Tickets £8.00/£6.00 concessions                             
Get £2.00 off if you book both shows

Preview: Little Greats at Newcastle Theatre Royal


BITE SIZED OPERA PACKS A PUNCH THIS AUTUMN
Little Greats
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 8th - Saturday 11th November 2017

Autumn 2017 – The Little Greats: Short operas with huge emotions
Wed 8 Nov                 Pagliacci / Cavalleria rusticana       7.15pm
Thu 9 Nov                   L’enfant et les sortilèges / Osud      7.15pm
Fri 10 Nov                  Trouble in Tahiti / Trial by Jury         7.15pm
Sat 11 Nov                 L’enfant et les sortilèges                  2.15pm
Sat 11 Nov                 Pagliacci / Cavalleria rusticana       7.15pm

Opera North is bringing six short operas to Newcastle Theatre Royal in November, brief in length but breathtakingly big on emotion and perfect for the uninitiated.  Catch the Little Greats season and be swept away.

Award-winning Opera North’s season of brand new productions offers six powerful operatic experiences in miniature. Love and hate, joy and sadness, courage and fear, trust and jealousy, kindness and cruelty – this is an opera season like no other.


Opera North’s production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana,
Katie Bray as Lola, Phillip Rhodes as Alfio and
Giselle Allen as Santuzza with the Chorus of Opera North
Photo: Robert Workman
Celebrating the amazing variety that can be found in even the shortest operas, The Little Greats gives people the opportunity to experience a double dose of Italian passion and tragic revenge one evening, and to opt for 1950s glamour and style followed by hilarious courtroom antics the next. There is also a magical childhood fantasy from Ravel, which can be watched either as a stand-alone matinee or paired with a rarely-performed gem by Czech composer, Janáček. With choices to appeal to both opera lovers and newcomers, every production is either sung in English or has an English translation displayed on surtitle screens. 


Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana,
Jonathan Stoughton as Turridù,
Giselle Allen as Santuzza and
Rosalind Plowright as Lucia
Photo: Robert Workman
The raw, hot-blooded passion of Italy is celebrated with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana while Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Trial by Jury offers up populist charm and comedy. The inventive musical modernism of the early 20th century is championed in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Janáček’s Osud (Destiny), while a dazzlingly witty fusion of opera and American jazz is found in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.


Opera North’s production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci
Elin Pritchard as Nedda, Richard Burkhard
as Tonio and Peter Auty as Canio
Photo: Tristram Kenton

Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (The Clowns) is the curtain-raiser for the season and offers a shot of pure operatic adrenaline. It encapsulates the thrilling drama, raw passion and gritty realism of Italian opera.   
Leoncavallo carves a ‘bleeding slice of life’ out of the tale of a touring theatre troupe preparing for a show. Canio is eaten up with jealous suspicion of his wife Nedda, the leading lady. When he learns the truth, the stage is set for a violent reckoning, but as his celebrated aria ‘Vesti la giubba’ (‘Put on the costume’) says, the show must go on.


Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana
Katie Bray as Lola and Phillip Rhodes as Alfio
Photo: Robert Workman
This is paired on the same night (8 & 11 Nov) with Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, a red-blooded tale of jealousy and revenge. A soldier, Turiddù has returned from the army to find his lover has married another man. He consoles himself by seducing another girl, Santuzza, even though he is still consumed by his obsessive desire for his first love.  Polish director Karolina Sofulak puts an innovative slant on a classic, in which a powder keg of passions is primed to ignite at Easter, in the midst of a small community where the church maintains an iron grip on the souls of its people.


Opera North’s production of Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges
John Graham-Hall as Arithmetic and Wallis Giunta
as the Child with members of the Chorus of Opera North
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) is a bewitching childhood fantasy which is dazzling, witty and surreal, appealing to adults and children in equal measure. A young boy refuses to do his homework and flies into a tantrum. But in this childhood fable of enchantment, everything around the boy comes magically to life.  The exquisite, innovative score is filled with jewel-like surprises, deftly characterising talking animals and magical nursery furniture alike. Renowned Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta heads the cast.

Ravel’s playful work is paired in stark contrast with Janáček’s Osud (Destiny) on 9 November.  A universal tale of the anguish of love, Míla and the composer Živný are in love but Míla’s mother forces her to take a rich suitor. Four years later they are reunited and living together but as Živný wrestles with the opera he is writing, a tragedy occurs that changes everything.  Osud contains some of Janáček’s most glorious music, which swings from the heights of romantic ecstasy to the depths of despair and back again. A real operatic gem, this is a chance to see a rarity brought to life.

Presented in Leonard Bernstein’s centenary year, Trouble in Tahiti offers a satire on the American Dream and is heavily influenced by jazz and the distinctive sounds of Hollywood and Broadway. In 1950s suburbia, Sam and Dinah appear to have the perfect life in their little white house. But their growing detachment exposes a mutual feeling that they are trapped in a life that has turned into a lie. Sam escapes to the hyper-masculine, win-or-lose world of work and the gym, while Dinah loses herself in the movies, where the hit picture of the day is the ominously-titled Trouble in Tahiti.


Opera North’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury,
Richard Mosley-Evans as the Usher with members
of the Chorus of Opera North
Photo: Robert Workman
Bernstein’s piece is paired with a lighter offering in the form of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Trial by Jury, a hilarious courtroom farce cast entirely from the Chorus of Opera North. The glamorous Angelina brings a court case against her intended husband Edwin, who jilts her when he comes to the ghastly realisation that she bores him intensely. With its brilliantly witty comedy numbers, catchy tunes and a superb mock-operatic ensemble, Trial by Jury was Gilbert & Sullivan’s first operetta and launched a partnership that took British musical theatre by storm. 


Opera North’s production of Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges,
Quirijn de Lang as Tom Cat, Wallis Giunta as the
Child and Katie Bray as Female Cat
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Alongside the main-stage events, Opera North is also presenting a series of educational workshops and activities across the region to deepen understanding and enrich the experience of performance.  There will be an in-school workshop led by Opera North in partnership with Théâtre Sans Frontières, a sixth form seminar with Professor Diana Holmes from the University of Leeds, and for the very youngest pupils, Opera Tales will be performed in local primary schools. There will also be a dedicated schools’ matinee of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges on 9 November and a family matinee on 11 November to give young people a chance to see the show with their parents and attend an exclusive pre-show workshop first.

In addition Opera North will be leaving the stage and heading out into the community with a Whistle Stop Opera at the city’s Lit & Phil for audiences of all ages at 4pm on Monday 6 November.

Annabel Arden (Director, L’enfant et les sortilèges and Osud) said: “The Little Greats aren't stuffy or about big sets and costumes; what they are about is telling a story with music and moving our audience to tears — and laughter.”

Tickets:
The Little Greats season is at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Wed 8 until Sat 11 November 2017, playing evenings at 7.15pm and matinee on Saturday at 2.15pm. Tickets from only £12.50 (Matinee from £10, under 30s pay £10).  Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk

Monday, 23 October 2017

Preview: PINK SARI REVOLUTION at Newcastle Northern Stage


PINK SARI REVOLUTION
Newcastle Northern Stage
Thursday 2nd – Saturday 4th November 2017



Photo: Pamela Raith
Book by: Amana Fontanella-Khan Stage adaptation by: Purva Naresh
Director: Suba Das; Designer: Isla Shaw
Movement Director: Aakash Odedra; Lighting Designer: Tim Lutkin
Musical Director: Naren Chandavarkar
Co-produced by: Curve, Leicester; Belgrade Theatre Coventry and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds In association with: English Touring Theatre

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
Curve, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and West Yorkshire Playhouse, in association with English Touring Theatre have revealed the cast and production team for the world premiere of Pink Sari Revolution, a stage adaptation of Amana Fontanella-Khan’s critically acclaimed book of the same title.
 

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
Pink Sari Revolution, which comes to Northern Stage for four performances on 2-4 November as part of a UK tour, tells the real-life story of Sampat Pal, leader of the notorious, working class feminist movement ‘The Gulabi Gang’. Based in India’s rural Uttar Pradesh province, the gang now numbers over 400,000 members in a part of the world where violence towards women is rife.

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
After directing hit comedy East is East and the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s only opera Sukanya at the Royal Opera House, North East born director Suba Das makes a welcome return to the region. Suba said: “I’m thrilled to make my second trip home this year with Pink Sari Revolution at Northern Stage. It was so amazing to make and share East is East in Newcastle to such a phenomenal response!
 

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
Although this story of courageous women fighting for their rights in rural India seems a million miles away from the crazy Khan family in 70s Salford; it's another show that at its heart is about standing up for your rights and being proud of who you are. That's a theme across lots of my work and I hope we tackle it with as much heart in Pink Sari Revolution too. It's a darker, more political show but for those who loved East Is East's orange revolving set, expect some equally stunning and surprising staging...and lots of pink!”
 

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
Taking the lead role of Sampat Pal is Syreeta Kumar, an actor known for her frequent work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as well as roles in television such as Apple Tree Yard and films including Notes on a Scandal.  The company will be completed by Goldy Notay (It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Bend it Films and Handful of Henna, Sheffield Crucible), Munir Khairdin (Whitechapel, Carnival Films and As You Like it, Curve), Ronak Patani (Macbeth, National Theatre and Primetime, Royal Court), Sharan Phull (Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre and The Importance of Being Earnest, Curve) and Ulrika Krishnamurti (Made in India, UK National tour and Rockford, Sic Productions).
 

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
The production has been adapted for the stage by Indian playwright Purva Naresh, winner of the United Nations Laadli Media Award for her work on gender. Olivier award winner Tim Lutkin will provide the lighting design for the show, while longstanding Curve collaborator Designer Isla Shaw (The Importance of Being Earnest, Wipers, The Witches) will create the set and costumes.
 

Photo: Pamela Raith

Photo: Pamela Raith
Incorporating elements of traditional Indian music and dance, composition and Sound Design is by Indian Artist Naren Chandavarkar and Curve Associate Artist Aakash Odedra will provide movement direction. One winter’s day, Sampat Pal learns of Sheelu Nishad, a young girl thrown into prison in the dead of night. As Sampat investigates claims of corruption, theft and assault, a chain of events is set into motion that reveals the real cost of taking a stand.

Tickets:
For more information or to book tickets visit www.northernstage.co.uk or call the Box Office on 0191 230 5151.