Curtain Up – All The News From The Last Week
We know, we’re terrible at keeping you up to date with all the latest theatre news, but we’re turning over a new leaf, and we’re back with a roundup of all the stories you should know from the last week. We’ve got more news to share with you in future days too, so keep dropping by to check in!
Casting is announced for a new production of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit thriller Towards Zero, to be directed by Brian Blessed at The Mill at Sonning.
Five puzzled faces turned to him. There had been a murder – a brutal murder – of an invalid matriarch as she lay in bed. There had apparently been no premeditation on the part of her family and friends who had gathered at her home for their regular yearly visit. No one seemed to have had any reason for killing her, nor did anyone gain by her death. Inspector Battle paused. “It’s Zero Hour now,” he snapped.
Packed with suspense, brooding atmosphere and outrageous twists and turns, Towards Zero will run for 8 weeks from Thursday 8 August – Saturday 28 September.
Towards Zero is a family affair, the latest in a line of Christie thrillers directed each summer by Brian Blessed at The Mill, with his wife, Hildegard Neil and daughter, Rosalind Blessed, in the company. The full cast includes Rob Heanley, Patrick Myles, Bethan Nash, Chris Pybus, George Telfer, Kate Tydman, Noel White and Duncan Wilkins.
The combination of Christie and Blessed has proved a winning formula for The Mill, helped by the special relationship that Brian had with the Queen of Crime. He met and worked with her when he was a young actor at Nottingham Repertory Theatre. Their friendly conversations informed Brian about how she would have liked to see her plays directed. She told Brian that Towards Zero was acclaimed by the novelist Rupert Graves as by far her best and most dramatic novel, and in 1956, Gerald Verner adapted it into a play.
Christie explains in her own words the meaning of the intriguing title: “When you read the account of a murder, real or imagined, you usually begin with the murder itself,” said the big Inspector Battle. “That’s all wrong. The murder belongs a long time beforehand. A murder is the culmination of a lot of different circumstances all converging at a given time at a given point. It’s Zero Hour.”
Set majestically on the banks of the River Thames, the Mill at Sonning Theatre is celebrating more than 30 years of entertainment. Uniquely, as the only dinner theatre in the United Kingdom, it has gained unrivalled praise both nationally and internationally. All tickets include a delicious two-course meal in the restaurant before the show.
For more info visit: https://www.millatsonning.com/
The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal present, from the international number one best-selling author Sarah Waters, THE NIGHT WATCH, adapted by Hattie Naylor (Ivan And The Dogs, Going Dark, As the Crow Flies and Bluebeard). First performed in 2016 at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, the first revival of THE NIGHT WATCH opens at Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne on 22 August, touring the UK until 23 November 2019.
Set in London in the 1940s, we follow the lives and loves of people recovering from the chaos of war. THE NIGHT WATCH is a tender, tragic and beautifully poignant portrait of four ordinary people caught up in the aftermath of an extraordinary time.
Sarah Waters (Tipping the Velvet, The Paying Guest and The Little Stranger) has sold over 2 million novels in England and 4 million worldwide, of which half a million were THE NIGHT WATCH. Olivier-nominated playwright Hattie Naylor creates a gripping and theatrically inventive adaptation of this great modern novel. From the team that brought you Birdsong, The Habit of Art and The Importance of Being Earnest, this eagerly anticipated brand new production will tour for the first time.
The tour will star Mara Allen, Louise Coulthard, Malcolm James, Lewis Mackinnon, Phoebe Pryce, Florence Roberts, Sam Jenkins-Shaw and Izabella Urbanowicz.
Check out www.originaltheatre.com for tour dates and more info.
Showcasing cabaret, circus, dance and genre-defying performance, the wholly female and non-binary cast of players, aerialists and cabaret artists has been announced for London’s new immersive masquerade ball, Red Palace. Join The Prince and meet the court; witness the beautiful, the brilliant, the wanton, the bizarre – nothing and no one is what they seem. Gastro-storyteller and Masterchef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie will provide an exclusive menu for booked diners to enjoy a decadent evening of feast and fantasy (subject to limited availability).
Shotgun Carousel invite their audiences to be escorted by a glorious array of audacious characters through swirling revelry to a place of glamour, danger and transformation where they can find their own fairy tale ending. The cast includes Ella Prendergast (Secret Cinema presents Bladerunner: The Final Cut), Teddy Lamb (Since U Been Gone, HighTide), Porscha Present (Divine Proportions, The Vaults) and Emer Dineen (The Dark Side of Love, Camden Roundhouse). Actors and circus artists, EM Williams (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Harold Pinter Theatre), Rosie Rowlands (Anna Nicole, Royal Opera House), Emily Essery (Doctor Dolittle, UK tour), and Rebecca Solomons (Hive City Legacy, Roundhouse) will also join the company. Completing this ensemble production are Steffi Walker (Baba’s War, White Bear Theatre and War Festival), Megan Ford (Feminasty, UK tour), Eleanor Dillon-Reams (HoneyBEE, Edinburgh Fringe), Camilla Harding (The Tempest, Rose Playhouse), and Alice Morgan-Richards (Alice’s Adventure’s Underground, The Vaults).
Tickets are available priced from £15 during previews, then from £18 at https://www.thevaults.london/red-palace.
Toby Stephens (Oslo, Lost in Space) and Claire Skinner (Outnumbered, The Father) will make their long awaited returns to the West End stage this autumn in Peter Nichols’ (Privates on Parade, Passion Play) funny and moving masterpiece A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Directed by Simon Evans (Killer Joe, Arturo Ui), this revival of Nichols’ acclaimed bittersweet comedy reunites two of the greatest actors of their generation. The stars, who last worked together 18 years ago on the award winning BBC TV drama ‘Perfect Strangers’, will now be performing on stage together for the very first time. Opening at Trafalgar Studios on Saturday 21 September, tickets go on-sale on Friday 19 July.
Bri (Stephens) and Sheila (Skinner) have been struggling to care for their disabled 10-year old daughter Josephine ever since she was born. Nicknaming her “Joe Egg”, they lose themselves in fantasy games and black humour to help cope with the struggle of their daily reality. This remarkable story challenges all our assumptions on the limits of love and the power of family.
Inspired by Nichols’ own experience of bringing up his disabled daughter in the 1960s, Joe Egg was one of the ground-breaking plays of its generation and the issues faced by two parents in this bittersweet comedy still resonate with audiences today, breaking your heart one minute and filling it with warmth the next. Now this startlingly funny and celebrated play returns to the West End for a limited season until Saturday 30 November. Further casting will be announced soon.
Toby Stephens said: “I’m thrilled to be part of a revival of this fantastic play. Reading it for the first time, I couldn’t believe that it had been written in the late sixties; it felt so vivid, dark and anarchically funny. The play still feels very raw and relevant, today. I’m very glad to be working with Claire Skinner again after quite a long interval – some 18 years! I think she is a very fine actor and I was really excited to hear that she wanted to do the play as well.”
Claire Skinner said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the West End with this complex, thought provoking and funny play and I’m also looking forward to working with Toby again after 18 years!”
Simon Evans said: “At a time when the act of living well from day to day seems tougher than ever, I can’t help but resonate with the characters in Joe Egg: displaying such wit, weakness, cruelty and courage as they struggle on. I’ve been a fan of Toby and Claire for years and the opportunity to explore Bri and Sheila with actors of their calibre, and share Peter’s seminal play again with a London audience, is such an honour.”
Find out all about the show at www.JoeEggPlay.com
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the smash-hit, critically acclaimed West End musical is to embark on its first UK tour in 2020. Initial casting includes West End star Layton Williams as Jamie New and EastEnders’ much-loved Shane Richie as Hugo / Loco Chanelle. Both Layton and Shane will be reprising their roles from the West End production. The tour commences in February 2020 in Sheffield, where the show is set and first opened four years ago.
Layton Williams said: “I’ve loved my time in the West End but am beyond excited to be playing Jamie on tour! This will be my 6th tour and I can’t wait to come back to some of my favourite venues with this beautiful show. I hope you’ll welcome me back with open arms as we share this beautiful story and spread love across the U.K! See you’s soon…”
Shane Richie said: “I had such a fantastic time playing Hugo/Loco Chanelle in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in the West End, so when I was offered the chance to be involved in the touring production I jumped at the opportunity to get back into those heels! I believe this show has such an important message for younger and older generations I’m excited to be taking it to a larger audience around the UK.”
Nica Burns, Producer of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie said: “Since Everybody’s Talking About Jamie opened in early 2017 at the Sheffield Crucible, written by a virgin British musical theatre writing team and performed by a large cast of mostly new faces, all our dreams for the show have come true. We are a hit! In November we will be starting our third year in the West End! The movie is currently shooting in Sheffield! We have won awards! Now we are going to be playing 20 cities nationwide led by two of our brilliant West End stars, the superb Layton Williams as Jamie and the wonderful Shane Richie as Hugo / Loco Chanelle. Fittingly, we are looking forward to opening our national tour back at its home in Sheffield on the 4th anniversary of its first performance.”
Layton Williams plays Jamie New. Layton is one of the most exciting talents in UK theatre. He has been playing Jamie New in the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie since January 2019. Layton recently performed as Angel in the UK Tour of much-loved musical Rent, for which he received great reviews and in the Sheffield Crucible production of Kiss Me, Kate.
For dates and booking links: https://www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk/2020-uk-tour
Casting has been announced for the brand new 2019/2020 tour of Queen and Ben Elton’s smash hit musical We Will Rock You, which will storm the UK and Ireland from 19 September.
Taking on the role of Galileo is Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh (Beautiful – The Carole King Musical / The Commitments), who will be joined by Elena Skye (Les Misérables / Kinky Boots) in the role of Scaramouche. Playing Killer Queen is Jennifer O’Leary (Heathers The Musical / Rent), with Michael McKell (Macbeth / Blood Brothers) as Buddy. Adam Strong (Jesus Christ Superstar / Rock of Ages) will take on the role of Khashoggi, with David-Michael Johnson (We Will Rock You, Germany / Jesus Christ Superstar) reprising the role of Brit and Amy Di Bartolomeo (Bat Out of Hell / Priscilla Queen of the Desert) playing Oz.
Brian May said: “This is a stunning state-of-the art new-look production of WWRY – but of course the original story is now more relevant than ever. We’re confident WWRY fans will love revisiting the world’s first true Rock Theatrical, and a whole new generation will now discover the VIBE!” Featuring 24 of Queen’s biggest hits and Ben Elton’s hilarious futuristic comedy writing, We Will Rock You boasts the scale and spectacle that marked the band’s legendary live performances. This global phenomenon will continue to be one of the most spectacular musicals to tour the United Kingdom & Ireland.
The show has seen unprecedented success in theatres and arenas around the world and the nine month tour will see the Rock Theatrical performed in front of thousands of rock fans in Bromley, Ipswich, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Derry, Dublin, Southend, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Glasgow, Blackpool, Hull, Southampton, Manchester, Aberdeen, Bradford, Canterbury, Oxford, Llandudno, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Norwich, Northampton, Bournemouth, Stoke and Reading.
Since 2002 over 15 million theatregoers in 17 countries have been thrilled by We Will Rock You’s awe-inspiring production showcasing a number of Queen’s finest hits, including We Are The Champions, Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Under Pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust and, of course, We Will Rock You. Before closing its glorious 12 year run at London’s Dominion Theatre, the show was performed an astonishing 4600 times.
The touring production of We Will Rock You reaches theatres carrying with it an impressive legacy: when it first became news that one of Britain’s most phenomenally successful comedy writers Ben Elton was teaming up with legends of rock, Queen, for a musical there was much speculation on what such a unique collaboration would turn out. So impressed after attending the original workshop, screen icon Robert De Niro and his company Tribeca came on board as American partners. De Niro continues to support the show, even making a special visit to London in 2013 to help celebrate the 10th anniversary in style. The audience erupted with thunderous applause, as he joined the cast on stage after the landmark performance.
The announcement of the We Will Rock You UK & Ireland tour follows the smash hit release of the hugely anticipated Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The Oscar nominated film, celebrating the career of one of the greatest ever rock bands has wowed Queen fans all around the world, opening at the number one box office position in over 30 countries.
See all the dates at: wewillrockyou.com