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ShentonSTAGE LIVE is a rolling theatre blog that will appear here, updated throughout the day as necessary, to reflect news updates and other observations and commentary as they occur, including short reviews of shows when I see them that may be expanded into fuller reviews later. Parts of this live blog will then be incorporated into my daily newsletter, emailed every morning to subscribers, and also available separately online. MOST RECENT POSTINGS ARE AT THE TOP

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 22

National Theatre announces new slate of new productions in each of its auditoria this summer

The National Theatre is to offer three new productions this summer.

  • In the Olivier, JACK ABSOLUTE FLIES AGAIN, a new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris that was originally due to open in April 2020, will finally begin performances July 2, prior to an official opening on July 14. Emily Burns  will direct Laurie Davidson as Jack Absolute alongside Caroline Quentin as Mrs Malaprop, Natalie Simpson as Lydia Languish, Kelvin Fletcher as Dudley Scunthorpe and Kerry Howard as Lucy, in a company that also includes James Corrigan, Theo Cowan, Jordan Metcalfe, George Kemp, Akshay Sharan, Tim Steed, Geoffrey Towers, Shona White and Helena Wilson   Set and costume design is by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, composer is Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and video and projection design by Jeff Sugg. Physical comedy director is Toby Park and choreography is by Lizzi Gee. Staff director is Cara Nolan.  
  • In the Lyttelton, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING will begin performances July 2, prior to an officiial opening on July 14. Set in the Italian Riviera at the fictional Hotel Messina, Simon Godwin will direct Katherine Parkinson as Beatrice and John Heffernan as Benedick. Set design is by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Evie Gurney and lighting design by Lucy Carter. Composer is Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Staff Director is Hannah Joss.  
  • In the Dorman, Francesca Martinez will make her NT debut with her new play ALL OF US, in which she also appears, beginning performances July 27, prior to an official opening on August 4. Ian Rickson will direct the play, which is described as a powerful and timely drama that explores the human cost of abandoning those who struggle to fit in. Martinez is joined by Chris Anderson, Oliver Alvin-Wilson, Bryan Dick, Kevin Hely, Christopher-John Slater, Francesca Mills and Wanda Opalinska. Set and costume design is by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Anna Watson, movement direction by Lucy Cullingford. The composer is Stephen Warbeck, sound design by Gregory Clarke and fight director is Terry King. Staff Director is Hana Pascal Keegan. 

In the autumn, Lynette Linton (artistic director of the Bush) will make her National Theatre debut with a new production of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky in the Lyttelton theatre from September 20, prior to an official opening September 27. Set in 1930 during the Harlem renaissance, it is about four friends whose lives and passions collide when a newcomer from Alabama arrives. The cast will comprise Samira Wiley, Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Osy Ikhile, Sule Rimi and Giles Terera.  Set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, lighting designer is Oli Fenwick, movement director is Kane Husbands, composer is Ben Kwasi Burrell, sound designer is George Dennis and Staff Director TD Moyo.

Tickets go on public sale from March 10, with tickets for Blues for an Alabama Sky to on sale in May. 

Press contacts: Louisa Terry (Jack Absolute Flies Again, Blues for an Alabama Sky), Sophie Wilkinson (Much Ado About Nothing, All of Us).

WEDNESDAY FEBUARY 16


2:22 A GHOST STORY RETURNS FOR THIRD WEST END RUN

Danny Robins’ supernatural thriller 2: 22 A Ghost Story is to return for a third West End run, beginning a seventeen and a half week run at the Criterion Theatre from May 7, with a gala night on May 13. It will end its run on September 4.

It originally opened at the Noel Coward Theatre in the summer of 2021, when the cast was led by Lily Allen, then transferred for a Christmas season to the Gielgud on Shaftesbury Avenue. Casting is still to be announced for the return engagement.

Matthew Dunster, who directs, commented in a press statement,

“This feels like an extraordinary journey for a new play. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but even in this crazy time we’re living through, people really seem to want to see this show. Sell out runs with two exciting and surprising casts at two West End theatres; and now a run to look forward to at The Criterion where there’ll be more more surprises and more excitement. I just feel terrifically proud of Danny and all the team. And really grateful to the Up For It audiences who have been coming along.”

Robins, creator of the BBC podcast The Battersea Poltgergeist, commented,

“I’m so damn thrilled that the 2:22 – A Ghost Story journey gets to continue. The response to the play so far has blown me away. Since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed by ghost stories, and I’m so glad that theatre audiences seem to feel the same way. My aim, writing the play, was to create a fun, spooky, thought-provoking night out, a show that leaves you buzzing, on the edge of your seat, questioning what you believe. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll come down to the Criterion and see what you believe… if you dare!”

Set design isby Anna Fleischle, costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG and illusions by Chris Fisher, co-direction by Isabel Marr.

2:22 – A Ghost Story is produced by Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Isobel David and Kater Gordon. 

Press contacts Claire Chamberlain clair@breadandbutterpr.uk and Ben Chamberlain ben@breadandbutterpr.uk

For more details, visit https://222aghoststory.com/

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 15

KILN THEATRE TO OFFER TWO WORLD PREMIERES

Kilburn’s Kiln Theatre has announced two world premieres that will be staged there.

  • Marina Carr’s GIRL ON AN ALTAR, running May 19-June 25, press night May 25, presented in partnership with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre.

Annabelle Comyn directs a re-telling of the infamous Greek myth of Agamemnon and Clygtemestra that brings Clytemnestra’s story to the forefront and asks is it possible to forgive the unforgiveable? In the play, Clytemnestra’s world is torn apart when her husband, Agamemnon, sacrifices their daughter for the sake of war. Ten years on from this unthinkable tragedy, the couple are reunited. What follows is a dangerous battle of love, grief and power.  https://kilntheatre.com/whats-on/girl-on-an-altar/

  • Zodwa Nyoni’s THE DARKEST PART OF THE NIGHT, July 14-Aug 13, press night July 21.

Nancy Medina directs a play by playwright and poet Zodwa Nyoni that explores the complexities and beauty of what it really means to care for one another. It revolves around Shirley and Dwight, who as they bury their mother, remember their upbringing and struggle for survival in 1980s Leeds. https://kilntheatre.com/whats-on/the-darkest-part-of-the-night/

In a press statement, Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director of the Kiln, commented, “We are really proud to be announcing two world premières which have been commissioned and developed by Kiln Theatre. These plays have been on a wonderful journey from initial conversations to beautifully crafted and profound scripts…. We are thrilled to be starting a partnership with the Abbey Theatre on Girl on an Altar and are hopeful this will be the beginning of a long-term relationship between both theatres. It has been a treat getting to know the recently appointed Artistic Director Caitríona McLaughlin, who not only do I find like-minded, but also deeply inspiring.”

Press contact: Kate Morley at Kate Morley PR. kate@katemorleypr.com

MONDAY FEBRUARY 14

THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE: THE MUSICAL TO PREMIERE AT CHESTER’S STORYHOUSE, AHEAD OF A PLANNED WEST END TRANSFER

The Time Traveller’s Tale: The Musical, based on Audrey Niffenegger’s best-selling novel and the 2009 film that was based on it, is to premiere at Chester’s Storyhouse for a fortnight’s run from September 30 to October 15, ahead of a planned West End transfer.

With a book by Lauren Gunderson, original music and lyrics by Joss Stone and Dave Stewart and additional lyrics by Kait Kerrigan, the production will be directed by Bill Buckhurst and designed by Anna Fleischle, with choreography by Shelley Maxwell, lighting design by Lucy Carter, illusions by Chris Fisher, video design by Andrjez Goulding, sound design by Richard Brooker, musical supervision & arrangement by Nick Finlow and orchestrations by Bryan Crook.  Casting will be by Stuart Burt CDG.  It will be produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions, Teresa Tsai and Crossroads Live, by special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.

In a press statement, producer Colin Ingram commented, ““I am so delighted to be bringing this incredible new musical to the 750-seat Chester Storyhouse for a two-week run prior to a transfer to the West End and beyond.  We are excited to come to this fantastic new theatre, which has an incredible ethos of accessibility and nurture lead by CEO Andrew Bentley, and to show the people of Chester and the North West this exciting, thrilling and beautiful new musical which Joss Stone and Dave Stewart have written stunning new songs for.  For those who have not been to the Storyhouse, this premiere is the time to come and enjoy a fantastic musical in a fantastic venue with a great atmosphere and facilities.”

Stewart and Stone commented,  “We have been on many crazy adventures together but we’ve never ‘Time Travelled’ till meeting Lauren Gunderson.  Writing these songs together whilst being in different locations on different time zones has been a trip (literally), throwing us into an eddy of emotive melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics to go with the push and pull of this unusual love story.  We all time travel in our relationships and in our lives in general, but to write something that people will see and hear happening live on stage is thrilling to imagine, and hearing Bill Buckhurst’s interpretations of Lauren’s script for stage as we went along has been so inspiring.”

Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s plays include I and You and The Book of Will, which have respectively won the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Landford Wilson Award. Singer songwriter and co-founder of the Eurythmics, Dave Stewart previously scored the musical version of Ghost with Glen Ballard. Grammy and Brit award winning singer-songwriter Joss Stone has released seven studio albums, the latest of which Never Forget My Love was produced by Stewart and has just beeen released (on February 11).

More details: https://timetravellerswife.com/

Press contact: Alexandra Buchanan at Amanda Malpass PR.  alex@amandamalpass.com

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 8

RSC CASTS DISABLED ACTOR IN TITLE ROLE OF RICHARD III, TO PLAY IN REP WITH NEW PRODUCTION OF ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced two new productions to play in rep this summer: artistic director Gregory Doran returns to the company, after his period of compassionate leave as he cared for his dying husband Antony Sher, to direct RICHARD III, which will feature disabled actor Arthur Hughes in the title role; and Blanche McIntyre will direct a new production of ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.

RICHARD III will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from June 23 to October 8, with a press night on June 30. Arthur Hughes (pictured above) previously appeared in The RSC’s War of the Roses in 2022. In a press statement, he commented, “It’s no exaggeration to say that playing Richard at the RSC is a dream come true. Richard is the most murderous and charismatic character in Shakespeare’s plays, and… he’s disabled!  I’m thrilled not only to be playing this title role at the RSC, but also that a major production of this play is putting disability centre stage. It’s sadly rare in many plays to find a leading disabled character, and with this production I hope we prove that disabled talent deserves to be in the spotlight.” Sets and costumes are by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

Playing in repertoire with RICHARD III the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be Blanche McIntyre’s contemporary take on William Shakespeare’s ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, running August 16 to October 8, with a press night on August 23. According to a press release, it is a production for “the social media generation” that explores “themes of romantic fantasy, toxic masculinity and consent.” It will be designed by Robert Innes Hopkins.

In a press statement, Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company said:

I’m delighted to welcome back the visionary Blanche McIntyre for All’s Well That Ends Well, and thrilled by the pairing of Arthur Hughes and Gregory Doran who together will breathe new life into Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Richard III”.

Box office: Priority booking for members from February 21, with public booking from March 7.

Press contact: Kate Evans (Media and Communications Manager), kate.evans@rsc.org.uk

ALAN AYCKBOURN OFFERS TO TWO WORLD PREMIERES THIS YEAR

Alan Ayckbourn is offering two world premieres this year, in the Lake District and at Scarborough.

At his home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough where he was formerly artistic director, he will direct his 87th play, Family Album (above right), running September 2-October 1. Meanwhile, at the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District, All Lies (above left) will receive its world premiere from May 5-21, also directed by the playwright; it is the first of his plays to premiere outside of Scarborough in 35 years.

In a press statement about the latter, Ayckbourn commented, “I originally wrote All Lies as a small-scale show during lockdown, but because I’m already involved in writing another new play for my home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, I thought that rather than waste All Lies, I’d offer it to The Old Laundry. What is nice is this is a world premiere and it is The Old Laundry’s world premiere.” The play explores the lies and various versions of the truth people tell in the early stages of a relationship. Set in the 1950s it tells the story of a chance meeting … It’s love at first sight! The person of your dreams! But will they feel the same? Once you tell the truth about yourself will you even be worthy of them? Do you take the plunge and reveal all? Or choose the dangerous alternative and tell them … All lies?!

Family Album chronicles the trials, tribulations and temptations of three generations of one family across 70 years in the same home. Set in a moving-in day in 1952, a birthday party in 1992 and a moving-out day in 2022, it revolves around RAF veteran John and housewife Peggy as they proudly move into the first home they can really call their own; daughter Sandra, frantically negotiating the challenges of a 10-year-old’s birthday party without her AWOL husband; and grandaughter Alison, finally escaping the house she has somewhat unwillingly inherited.

Details and booking for All Lies: https://www.oldlaundrytheatre.co.uk/event/all-lies-2022/

Details and bookings for Famly Album: https://www.sjt.uk.com/event/1324/family_album

Press contact for the Stephen Joseph Theatre is Jennie Swales, jeannie.swales@sjt.uk.com

RETURN OF ANYTHING GOES TO FEATURE KERRY ELLIS, DENIS LAWSON, SIMON CALLOW AND BONNIE LANGFORD

Principal casting for the return of ANYTHING GOES to the Barbian Theatre this summer from July 1-September 3 has been announced: Kerry Ellis will play Reno Sweeney, with Denis Lawson as Moonface Martin, Simon Callow as Elisha Whitney and Bonnie Langford as Evengeline Harcourt. In addition to its Barbican run, it will also be visiting theatres in Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Canterbury and Manchester

Reprising their co-starring roles in this year’s UK tour and Barbican season are Samuel Edwards as Billy Crocker, Carly Mercedes Dyer as Erma, Nicole-Lily Baisden as Hope Harcourt and Haydn Oakley as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Further casting is still to be announced.

In a press statement, Ellis commented, “Reno is an iconic character in musical theatre. I can’t wait to get my tap shoes on and share this fabulous musical with audiences up and down the country.” And Callow has said, ““Like everyone who saw Anything Goes last summer, I was swept away by it. The sheer joy of sharing its exuberance, wit and style with my fellow theatregoers – the perfect antidote to Covid and all its miseries. I couldn’t be happier to be joining the show as we spread the joy around the country and back to theBarbican.”

ANYTHING GOES has music and lyrics by Cole Porter, an original book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton with Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse and a new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. This production is directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. It is produced by Howard Panter for Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Eilene Davidson Productions, Mallory Factor for Hill Street Productions, Rupert Gavin, BookMyShow, WYS en Scène and David Lazar.

For full touring dates, visit https://anythinggoesmusical.co.uk

Press contact: Hannah Tollman / Neil Reading at Neil Reading PR Hannah@neilreadingpr.com


Thursday February 3

ShentonSTAGE LIVE is a rolling theatre blog that will appear here, updated throughout the day as necessary, to reflect news updates and other observations and commentary as they occur, including short reviews of shows when I see them that may be expanded into fuller reviews later. Parts of this live blog will then be incorporated into my daily newsletter, emailed every morning to subscribers, and also available separately online.

GREASE TO RETURN TO DOMINION THEATRE FROM MAY 3



GREASE, the 1971 stage musical best known for 1978 film that was based on it, is to return to the Dominion Theatre, where a hit revival opened in 1993 and made several West End returns in 2001, 2002 and 2007 (at different venues), from May 3, with a press opening on May 17.

This new production, which originated at Curve, Leicester, is directed by Nikolai Foster (Curve artistic director) and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, the latter of whom also choreographed the 1993 revival.

The production stars Dan Partridge and Olivia Moore as Danny and Sandy respectively, with Peter Andre making his West End debut as Vince Fontaine at certain performances. The cast also features Jocasta Almgill as Rizzo, Paul French as Kenickie, Mary Moore as Jan, Jake Reynolds as Doody, Lizzy-Rose Esin-Kelly as Marty, Damon Gould as Sonny, Eloise Davies as Frenchie, Jessica Croll as Patty Simcox, Katie Lee as Cha Cha, Ronan Burns as Johnny Casino and Corinna Powlesland as Miss Lynch. Darren Bennett will play Officer Mailie and Vince Fontaine at certain performances. 

They are joined by Jack Harrison-Cooper, Pearce Barron, Rishard-Kyro Nelson, Ellie Kingdon, Remi Ferdinand, Kalisha Johnson, Imogen Bailey, Kevin O’Dwyer and Carly Miles. Further casting is to be announced.

In a press statement, Peter Andre commented, “I’m beyond excited to be making my West End debut playing Vince Fontaine inGrease at the beautiful Dominion Theatre. Grease is such an iconic musical and we can guarantee audiences will have the most wonderful evening listening to songs we all know and love. We can’t wait to see you there!”

GREASE has designs by Colin Richmond, orchestrations and musical supervision by Sarah Travis, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Tom Marshall and Richard Brooker, video and projection design by Douglas O’Connell and casting by David Grindrod CDG.

This production of GREASE is produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Donovan Mannato, Playing Field, Gavin Kalin, and Curve.

Press contact: Alexandra Buchanan at Amanda Malpass PR: alex@amandamalpass.com

https://www.greasemusical.co.uk

Wednesday February 2i

ShentonSTAGE LIVE is a rolling theatre blog that will appear here, updated throughout the day as necessary, to reflect news updates and other observations and commentary as they occur, including short reviews of shows when I see them that may be expanded into fuller reviews later. Parts of this live blog will then be incorporated into my daily newsletter, emailed every morning to subscribers, and also available separately online.

LATEST ENTRIES WILL APPEAR ON TOP

TOM MORRIS TO STEP DOWN FROM BRISTOL OLD VIC AFTER 12 YEARS; PLANS FOR SUMMER & AUTUMN ANNOUNCED

Tom Morris has announced that he is to step down as artistic director at Bristol Old Vic after 12 years at the helm, and that the future-focused programme announced today will be his last at the theatre.

In a press statement he has commented,

There have been many points since March 2020 when it has seemed questionable whether the theatre industry, which contributes so much to our economy, our international reputation and the health and well-being of our communities, would survive at all.   Thanks to the investment of the Cultural Recovery Fund, we and many others have survived, and the next, urgent and thrilling priority is to work out how theatre can contribute to the economic, social and environmental recovery over the next decade./ This programme is about rebuilding our business after the pandemic and creating a platform for a fully engaged Civic Theatre in Bristol over the next decade.  Everything we’ve done over the last twelve years has been the preparation for this transformation./

The shock of sudden closure has given us and others in the industry the chance to accelerate our change, both in the way our business works with the thrilling opportunities of digital technologies, and the chance to create a theatre that genuinely connects with and belongs to everyone in this city.

There is no job in British theatre as exciting as this one, and for much of the rest of this year I will continue to have the immense privilege of holding the relationship between the most beautiful theatre in Britain, the astonishing talent who relish creating and discovering their voices within it, and the endlessly inspiring city and people of Bristol. 

I will also be fighting as hard as I can to encourage all leaders in Bristol to seize our creative potential – the unique combination of energy, architecture, history, diversity, spirit and justice which make it the most creative city I’ve ever known. Imagine what might happen if we really committed to the celebration and release of creativity in each and every one of our citizens!  Bristol could be a national and international benchmark of the value of creativity in society, cited and imitated as a trail-blazer across the world.”

Morris is currently represented at the Bristol Old Vic by his production of Dr Semmelweis, currently running to February 19.

Also already announced, Sally Cookson will direct Ross Willis’s Wonder Boy (March 5-26), and Giles Terera’s The Meaning of Zong will follow (April 2-May 7).

In the summer, Cookson’s production of A Monster Calls will return (April 13-23) and Pride of Prejudice (Sort of) will play a season, dates to be confirmed, direct for the West End.

In the autumn, Bristol poet Malaika Kegode’s Outlier, in partnership wiht rock band Jakobol, will run September 14-24, then Billy Howle will play the title role in Hamlet, directed by John Haidar (October 13-November 12); before a Christmas production of The Nutcracker (November 24-January 7).

Press contact: Amanda Adams at Bristol Old Vic. amanda.adams@bristololdvic.org.uk

OLIVIER AWARDS TO TAKE PLACE AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL ON APRIL 10, HOSTED BY JASON MANFORD

This year’s Olivier Awards are to take place at the Royal Albert Hall on April 10, hosted by Jason Manford, who introduces them here. Last year’s event was an online ceremony only.

In a press statement, Julian Bird — CEO of event organisers SOLT and executive producer of the Olivier Awards — commented,

“After two years of our industry fighting to survive through upheaval and uncertainty, it is a privilege to be able to announce details of the 2022 Olivier Awards.

It will no doubt be a hugely emotional evening – a chance to celebrate the best of the London stage and pay tribute to the tenacity, innovation, and irrepressible spirit of our theatre community. We are so grateful to Mastercard for their unwavering support throughout the pandemic and their shared vision for a greener, more inclusive Awards.”

Tickets for the event will go on sale from tomorrow (February 3) at 10am, via https://priceless.com/arts-and-culture/product/169204/the-oliver-awards-2022-ticketing/s/20809

VISIBLE THEATRE TO PREMIERE FIVE CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP AT SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE

Visible Theatre, a theatre company dedicated to creating performance work that throws fresh perspectives on later life and living longer, is to present the world premiere of Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep that has been developed over a two-year period through a series of workshop in which all the material for the play was created by the actors.

It will run at Southwark Playhouse from April 27 to May 21, with a press night on April 29.

Directed by Mike Alfreds, previously Artistic Director and founder of theatre companies Shared Experience and Method and Madness, it is devised by him and Sonja Linden with the company. In the play, five insomniacs try to make it through the night. From dusk to dawn, they struggle with a crisis in their lives which they must resolve by morning. Increasingly conscious of their shortening futures and lengthening pasts, they fill their nights with distracting activities, desperate sleep techniques, evaluations of their lives, delusions, fears, panics and utter foolishness as they prepare to face the day. The company comprises Geraldine Alexander, Andrew Hawkins, Sally Knyvette, Gary Lilburn and Vincenzo Nicoli.

Press contacts: Georgie Grant/Freya Cowdry at Kate Morley PR. https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-little/five-characters-in-search-of-a-good-nights-sleep/

DAILY NEWSLETTER

Today’s ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter is here: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-wed-february-2/

It details the absence of masking (or even encouragement for it) at LW Theatres in the West End; plus reviews round-up for MJ — the new Michael Jackson musical, which opened on Broadway last night (I’m seeing it on Friday and will report here on Monday). http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-wed-february-2/

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Tuesday February 1

ShentonSTAGE LIVE is a rolling theatre blog that will appear here, updated throughout the day as necessary, to reflect news updates and other observations and commentary as they occur, including short reviews of shows when I see them that may be expanded into fuller reviews later. Parts of this live blog will then be incorporated into my daily newsletter, emailed every morning to subscribers, and also available separately online.

LATEST ENTRIES WILL APPEAR ON TOP

NEW CAST FOR TOURING PRODUCTION OF SIX

A new company will take over in the touring production of the hit musical Six from March 8, when the production reaches Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. The current cast will play their final performances on March 6.

The new company will comprise Chlöe Hart (Catherine of Aragon), Jennifer Caldwell (Anne Boleyn), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Jane Seymour), Aiesha Pease (Anna of Cleves), Jaina Brock-Patel (Katherine Howard) and Alana M Robinson (Catherine Parr). Grace Melville, Leesa Tulley and Natalie Pilkington (Dance Captain) will be joining the cast as Alternates, with Super Swing Harriet Caplan-Dean. The cast are backed by the show’s all-female band, The Ladies in Waiting.

The show is written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss; the latter also co-directs with Jamie Armitage. Six is  produced by Kenny Wax, Wendy & Andy Barnes and George Stiles.

Full tour dates are here: https://www.sixthemusical.com/uk-tour

Press contact: Helen Snell.

HEADLONG’S NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES FIRST SEASON

Holly Race Roughan has announced her inaugural season as artistic director of Headlong. She will direct both the world premiere of Chloe Moss’s Corrina, Corrina, premiering at Liverpool Everyman from May 19 to June 4, and a new intepretation of one of Shakespeare’s plays (title is yet to be announced), opening at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in the autumn ahead of a UK tour in 2023. The company is also co-producing the transfer of August Wilson’s Jitney to the Old Vic, presented with Leeds Playhouse where Tinuke Craig’s production was first seen last October, which Headlong will subequently tour to Oldham Coliseum (Juy 13-16), Worthing’s Connaught (July 19-23 and Bath THeatre Royal (July 26-30).

In a press statement, Roughan has commented,

“It has been no easy feat programming in a global pandemic, our industry has been brought to its knees by covid and we collectively continue to fire fight its devastating impact. So it is a privilege to be able to announce a season of work in these times, work that speaks to the political moment, exploits the liveness of theatre and has the audience – who we have sorely missed – at its heart.

We are fiercely committed to making work and collaborating with exceptional talent outside of London and I am proud to be kicking off my first season as Artistic Director with a new work from Liverpool-based playwright Chloe Moss which will see us continue our ongoing relationship with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. It’s a feminist thriller set on a container ship and promises to be a gripping and politically charged night out (did we mention it also has karaoke?). 

August Wilson’s psychologically deft and moving portrayal of black male friendship, will be produced at The Old Vic in London under the astonishing direction of Tinuke Craig before it heads out on tour. 

Finally, we will be closing the year in a co-production with the Globe as we take the intimate, candle lit Sam Wanamaker on tour, reinterpreting one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays within the context of the current political climate, in a show that embraces the relationship between actor and audience.”

Press contact: Kate Hassall at Bread and Butter PR.

OLD VIC ANNOUNCES NEW MIKE BARLETT PLAY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP; TRANSFER OF AUGUST WILSON’S JITNEY FROM LEEDS; AND RETURN OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL

The Old Vic has announced the world premiere of The 47th, a play by Mike Bartlett about Donald Trump, starring Bertie Carvel as Trump, as well as a transfer of a revival of August Wilson’s Jitney that was first seen at Leeds Playhouse, and the return of A Christmas Carol. There is a scheduling gap between the end of the run of Jitney in mid-July and the arrival of A Christmas Carol in mid-November that is yet to be announced.

In a press statement, artistic director Matthew Warchus has commented,

Tonight, Caryl Churchill’s A Number opens in our theatre with Paapa Essiedu and Lennie James. 20 years on from its world premiere, the play feels as vibrant as ever.  

Alongside the opening of A Number, we are very happy to announce three new productions at The Old Vic for 2022 – a topical world premiere, a modern classic and the return of a treasured favourite. 

Mike Bartlett’s new play, The 47th, offers a provocative look at our not-too-distant future with equally hilarious and chilling consequences. Directed by Rupert Goold, Mike Bartlett’s zeitgeisty verse play shines a light on the 2024 presidential race – as he did for the coronation in his Olivier Award-winning play King Charles III.  

In June, our Baylis Director Tinuke Craig will revisit her critically acclaimed production of August Wilson’s powerful modern classic Jitney for its London premiere, following a successful run at Leeds Playhouse last year, prior to it going on tour. This is a great play and I’m delighted to be presenting Tinuke’s hit production together with Headlong and Leeds Playhouse.

Today also sees the announcement of the return of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Jack Thorne. We continue to learn from, and cherish, this great tale of love and charity and it’s been wonderful to see so many families moved and entertained by the production each year.  

From the future to the past and the present, and wherever each production takes you, I hope that you will find that The Old Vic continues to share evocative and impactful stories that provoke empathy, shed light and delight. It’s been hard being apart from audiences – thank you to those who have already ventured back, and we’re throwing our arms open to all those who we hope will visit soon.”

Mike Bartlett’s The 47th will run March 29 to May 28, with a press night on April 8. Co-produced with Sonia Friedman Productions and Annapurna Theatre, it will be directed by Rupert Goold, artistic director of the Almeida, where he previously staged the world premieres of Bartlett’s King Charles III and Ink, before they transferred to the West End. Set in 2024 and as America goes to the polls, democracy itself is on the brink. Who takes the White House – and at what cost? It will star Bertie Carvel as Donald Trump, Tamara Tunie as Kamala Harris and Lydia Wilson as Ivanka Trump. It will be brought to the Old Vic in collaboration with Fictional Company and Almeida Theatre.

August Wilson’s Jitney will run June 9 to July 9, with a press night on June 15. Co-produced with Headlong and Leeds Playhouse, Tinuke Craig’s production was first seen in Leeds last October. The cast will include Geoff Aymer, Leanne Henlon, Wil Johnson, Leemore Marrett Jr and Tony Marshall. The eighth in Wilson’s Pittsburgh cycle, it was originally premiered on Broadway in 2017. Set in an unlicenced cab office in the city, the play explores the fragile bond between eight men as they live, love and work in a racially segregated, post-Vietnam America. 

A Christmas Carol, presented in Jack Thorne’s version that was first seen at the Old Vic in 2017 and has made annual returns ever since, returns once again for a run from November 12 to January 7, with a press night on November 23. Matthew Warchus directs.

 Press contacts: Katie Marsh/ Armani Ur‑Rub​ at the Old Vic.

RADA APPOINTS NIAMH DOWLING AS NEW PRINCIPAL

Niamh Dowling, currently Head of Postgraduate School of Performance, Design and Technical Arts at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London and previously Head of School of Theatre at Manchester Metropolitan University, has been appointed the new principal at RADA. She will take up the position in June.

In a press statement, she has said: “I am so delighted to be joining RADA as Principal. RADA’s reputation as a world leader in the field of actor, technical, design and performer training is outstanding. It has been a difficult couple of years for the sector and the industry and we are all learning at such a fast pace. With talented students and alumni, and experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated staff, RADA is perfectly positioned for conversations and collaborations in the UK and internationally about training that is relevant and representative of 21st-century Britain and beyond. I am looking forward to those conversations and leading RADA as this next phase unfolds.”

Press contact: Ben Chamberlain at Bread and Butter PR.

DAILY NEWSLETTER

Today’s ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter is here: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-tuesday-february-1/ It includes commentary on last night’s 20th anniversary concert of TABOO (pictured above), DOUBT at Chichester Festival Theatre and The Stage Awards that were presented yesterday.

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Monday January 31

Starting today, I am trialing a new online venture: ShentonSTAGE LIVE. This is a rolling theatre blog that will appear here, updated throughout the day as necessary, to reflect news updates and other observations and commentary as they occur, including short reviews of shows when I see them that may be expanded into fuller reviews later. Parts of this live blog will then be incorporated into my daily newsletter, emailed every morning to subscribers, and also available separately online.

LATEST ENTRIES WILL APPEAR ON TOP

  • The Stage Awards recognise BAC, Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre, The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, producer Michael Harrison, and understudies

This year’s The Stage Awards have been presented in a ceremony at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Jointly named theatre of the year are London’s BAC and Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre.

Producer of the year is Michael Harrison.

Theatre building of the year is the refurbished Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Innovation Award goes to the Theatre Green Book:

Digital Project of the year is the National Theatre’s online production of ROMEO AND JULIET.

Unsung Hero Award goes to Understudies and Covers

Casting announced for world premiere production of I’M A CHEERLEADER: THE MUSICAL at London’s Turbine Theatre

Casting has been announced for the the world premiere run of I’m a Cheerleader: The Musical, based on the 1999 film of the same name, that will run at London’s Turbine Theatre from February 18 to April 16, with a press night on February 23. Alice Croft will play Megan Williams, with Oliver Brooks (Dad/Larry), Edward Chitticks (Jared/Rock), Damon Gould (André), Tiffany Graves (Mary Brown), Jodie Jacobs (Mom/Lloyd), Lemuel Knights (Mike), Evie Rose Lane (Graham), Harry Singh (Jalal), Jodie Steele (Kimberly/Hilary), Aaron Teoh (Dolph) and Kia-Paris Walcott (Sinead).

Featuring book and lyrics by Bill Augustin and music by Andrew Abrams, it will be directed by Tania Azevedo. The producers are Paul Taylor-Mills & Bill Kenwright, in association with Adam Bialow, by special arrangement with Lionsgate.  

It follows the success of Taylor-Mills and Kenwright’s production of another high school musical HEATHERS — currently in a return season to the Other Palace that Kenwright now owns — and BE MORE CHILL, that was also premiered at the Other Palace and subsequently transferred to the West End. Another high school musical Bring it On also recently played at the South Bank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and was due to tour the UK subsequently, but this was cancelled.

Press contact: Emma Holland PR.

  • Columns of the day

– Kate Maltby writes in The Stage about her late mentor Terry Teachout, who for nearly 20 years was theatre critic of the Wall Street Journal:

“Terry was an ‘elite’ critic in the best sense: a rich reserve of cultural memory, a doyen of historical context, a man of high standards who penned tough reviews. But his total immersion in every performance that he attended spoke to something else, which made him a great critic: a deep need to connect with community. That meant a readiness, each time he entered a theatre, to respond entirely openly to the hard work of the artists present. It also drove his extraordinary capacity for friendship… He was a conservative in the sense that he privileged art that engaged strongly with tradition, was wary of the mob and the culture of the collective and, when it came to legislative politics, sceptical of the power of the state. None of this was at odds with despising Donald Trump or practising social inclusion. It did, however, inform Terry’s deep political commitment to the American dramatic tradition.”

– Lyn Gardner on privilege in the arts for The Stage:

“In theatre, I keep coming across people who… may well have been born in a castle, but the narrative they promote is one of unceasing struggle. This embarrassment about class and socio-economic privilege is neither healthy nor helpful… Privilege and power go together. One leads to the other. And an arts education is increasingly the privilege of the privately educated. Those who have access to regular theatre trips and educational opportunity, who have the confidence to network, have personal connections and who can afford to do unpaid work have often done well because of that privilege and risen to positions of power in theatre. But excluding so many from being artists limits the offer made to audiences. It is also very hard to argue for continued and greater public investment in theatre if those making it, and the stories and voices they represent on stage, are not representative of the wider population whose taxes fund that artistic endeavour.”

The same, of course, is true of those writing about the theatre. Arts journalists have privilege and power (although the latter is increasingly diminishing); Gardner has herself held a position near the top of the arts journalism tree for many years, first as theatre editor of City Limits, and then as deputy theatre critic on The Guardian for 23 years from 1995 to 2018. She now writes regularly for The Stage (where she is an associate editor).

  • Today’s ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter

My ShentonSTAGE daily newsletter — emailed to subscribers by sending an e-m to ShentonStageMailingList@gmail.com — is also posted online daily; today’s edition is here:

http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-monday-january-31/

  • MARIA FRIEDMAN TO PRESENT NEW LIVE SHOW AT MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Maria Friedman — who has previously appeared at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Maria Friedman Re-Arranfged which subsequently transferred to the West End, and also made her directorial debut at the venue when she directed Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along there, which also transferred to the West End — is returning to the south London theatre, with the world premiere of a new show Maria Friedman and Friends — Legacy.

Running from March 3-20, with a press night on March 8, it is a celebration of the work of composers Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand and Stephen Sondheim, with each of whom she appeared multiple times. She explores their legacies, joined by friends old and new — musical director and pianist, Theo Jamieson, fellow performers Matthew White, Ian McLarnon, Alfie Friedman and Desmonda Cathabel, and a choir from the Royal Academy of Music. Jamieson will be accompanied by Paul Moylan on Double Bass, and Joe Evans on Percussion.

In a press statement, Friedman has said: “This event was brought about by a desire to sing, to share and to join together in celebration of some of the greatest composers of our time. These past two years have starved us of the connection and depth of emotion that brilliant music and song can evoke – and we want to bring that back in the beautifully intimate space at the Menier, and enable audiences to revel in the legacy of my much missed friends, these extraordinary artists – Hamlisch, Legrand and Sondheim. I can’t wait to share it with you.”

Booking opens today for supporters of the Menier, with public booking from February 2. Box Office: 020 7378 1713, www.menierchocolatefactory.com 

Press contact: Kate Morley PR.

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