‘Tell Me On A Sunday’ and ‘Putting It Together’ at St James Theatre in January 2014

News reaches us of a couple of fantastic musical theatre productions that will be held on our doorstep – at St James Theatre in Victoria – early next year.

First up, Tell Me On A Sunday is on from 7th to 12th January 2014 starring Marti Webb, one of this country’s most popular musical stars – she’s had leading roles in musicals such as Oliver!, Evita, Cats and Godspell. This one-woman show – which is an original production by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black – tells the tale of an English girl who’s newly arrived in New York, and who’s on the look out for success, companionship and love. But after enduring frustration and heartache, she starts to wonder whether she’s been looking in the wrong place all along.

Marti Webb will be reprising her original role in Tell Me On A Sunday, one that saw her receive huge critical acclaim. Originally performed as a album (which reached number one in the UK charts), the show became a TV special and was then performed on stage as one half of Song & Dance.

St James Theatre - Tell Me On A Sunday

Ms Webb last performed the role 10 years ago, and this special run will see only eight shows take place, supported by hits from theatreland’s latest and greatest shows, exclusive to the UK. Of returning to her role, Ms Webb says:

“I’m thrilled and delighted to be doing Tell Me On a Sunday again. It means so much to me, it really does. It was one of the most important things to have happened to me in my life.”

Tickets cost £20 to £37.50, and there’s also a special £60 premium ticket which includes a post show meet-and-greet with Marti Webb. To book tickets, please call the St James Theatre box office on 0844 254 2140 or visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk.

Next up in January at St James Theatre is the London premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together, by arrangement of Sir Cameron Mackintosh and featuring an award-winning cast that includes David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen.

St James Theatre - Putting It Together

Putting It Together was first produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh in New York over twenty years ago, starring Julie Andrews. The show is a revue with a difference – set at a cocktail party in New York, it tells the story of two couples – one middle-aged and married, the other young lovers who are just starting out – who reflect on the complexities of modern relationships through the songs of Stephen Sondheim.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh says:

“I couldn’t be more delighted that my brother, Robert, is presenting the London premiere of Sondheim’s review ‘Putting it Together’ – a companion piece to Side by Side by Sondheim that I put together with Julia MacKenzie in England many years ago starring Diana Rigg and subsequently in New York with Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett.

Robert’s theatre, the stylish and innovative St. James, should prove the perfect venue for Sondheim’s brilliant, witty and moving material culled from many of his great musicals. ‘Putting it Together’ is a musical theatrical cocktail that promises to leave audiences shaken, stirred and highly entertained.”

Putting It Together at St James Theatre is directed by Alastair Knights, choreographed by Matthew Rowland, with musical supervision by Alex Parker, and associate direction and choreography by Scarlet Wilderink.

Tickets cost £20, £30, £35, £37.50 and £47.50 for premium tickets. To book tickets, once again please call the St James Theatre box office on 0844 254 2140 or visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk.

The St James Theatre opened its doors in September 2012, and has seen productions such as Scenes from a Marriage starring Olivia Williams and Mark Bazeley and directed by Trevor Nunn; Bully Boy by Sandi Toksvig, directed by Patrick Sandford and starring Anthony Andrews and Joshua Miles; and The American Plan, directed by David Grindley and with a cast including Diana Quick and Dona Croll. The theatre is entirely funded by private investment and its space includes a 312 seat theatre, a studio space, brasserie and bar.

Tell Me On A Sunday
Tuesday 7th – Sunday 12th January 2014

and

Putting It Together
Tuesday 14th – Saturday 1st February 2014

St. James Theatre
12 Palace Street
SW1E 5JA
www.stjamestheatre.co.uk

Review: The Evacuee at The Chelsea Theatre

Right on Halloween, I had the pleasure – or fright? – of watching the World War II ghost story The Evacuee at Chelsea Theatre. And what a spooky little play this is!

As we mentioned in our preview (The Evacuee at The Chelsea Theatre this autumn), the plot revolves around Janet, a young girl that’s been evacuated from London to the countryside who finds herself placed in the house of widower George Wilson; she’s mute since witnessing the death of of her brother in The Blitz. From her first night in her new house, unusual events start occurring, frightening her into waking from her sleep. On the subsequent days, we learn more about George’s past and the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death – at the same time, the creepy occurrences start increasing in number. Billeting officer Brenda is the third character, bringing Janet to George’s home; it transpires that George and Janet are childhood friends, and she herself is suffering from the strains of war with her husband’s sudden departure to fight in France. She acts as a go-between for Janet and George when the latter starts blaming the former for some of the unusual events – disturbed bedrooms, stolen letters – although is Janet really blameless?

Review The Evacuee

Review The Evacuee

Review The Evacuee

I’ve never been to a horror play before, or indeed any play where I was warned about the loud noises and sudden movements at the box office! Indeed, I’m not really one for any kind of horror entertainment…but that’s not to say that I’m terrified of it. Far from it – bring it on, I say! So from the opening – where the audience was sat in the pitch dark, with an audio of World War II bombs falling being played – I tried to imagine what kind of spooky goings could take place. This was a small set – what sort of magic could they perform? But magic they did indeed perform – from pictures that fell off walls, to cupboard doors and drawers that opened randomly, to a music box that popped up and starting playing its tune. Even a chair – right at the front of the stage – moved by itself. I’d hazard a guess that some of the more eagle-eyed audience members might have seen how all this happened, but I’m happy to put it down to theatrical magic. But all of what I described so far falls into the “ooh, that’s creepy” category – there’s far more frightening things that occur which I won’t reveal here so I don’t spoil the surprise.

The Evacuee really builds in anticipation as the play develops – at the beginning, it’s hard to see where the horror-like goings on might occur. But build it does, rapidly so, until the grand finale of the piece. The three actors all do very well with their performances, with Maria Victoria Eugenio an excellent, silent and petrified Janet; Sarah Tyler Shaw (Brenda) a well-played sympathetic friend to George and a motherly figure to Janet; and Mike Evans as George, the angry, withdrawn widower who initially refuses to have anything to do with an evacuee.

It’s definitely well worth a visit for a bit of theatrical terror this autumn right on our doorstep – I’d highly recommend it!

More details about The Evacuee and the theatre company behind it – Quint-Essential – can be found at www.quint-essentialtheatre.co.uk.

The Evacuee is on at The Chelsea Theatre until 17th November 2013. To book tickets, please see www.chelseatheatre.org.uk/the-evacuee.

The Evacuee at The Chelsea Theatre this autumn

A World War II ghost story arrives on our doorstep later this month! Produced by the Quint-Essential Theatre Company, The Evacuee will run at the Chelsea Theatre on King’s Road from 29th October through to the 17th November 2013.

The play is set in the autumn of 1940, telling the tale of a girl who is evacuated from London and sent to live with a stranger. Janet Young hasn’t spoken a word since witnessing the death of her brother during the Blitz; arriving at the house of widower George Wilson, accompanied by her compassionate billeting officer Brenda, she’s upset, lonely and frightened. Janet is spooked by the eerie contents of her bedroom and goes straight to bed; over the next few days, the audiences sees all three of the main characters deeply affected by the stresses of the war. Unexplained events and strange goings on occur in the house too, and George’s dark and disturbing past is soon brought to light.


The Evacuee at The Chelsea Theatre

The Quint-Essential Theatre Company was founded in 2011 by Ian Breeds and Sarah Tyler Shaw, and they performed Dark Tales – a trio of short horror plays, their debut production – in the summer of that year. After a three week tour in London fringe theatres, they extended their run at The Lion & The Unicorn in Kentish Town because of such a high demand in ticket sales. The Evacuee was one part of Dark Tales, and has been adapted into a full length version because of the overwhelming response from audiences and critics alike.

In 2012, Ian wrote, directed and starred in the company’s first one man show, Mannequin, which was performed as part of the Crouch End Festival. Ian then also wrote an accompanying one woman show, The Tea Party, that played alongside Mannequin in a production called The Lost Souls. The Lost Souls was superbly received when it played at The London Horror Festival 2012, so much so that Quint-Essential were invited back for 2013!

Quint-Essential have also started creating short horror films in 2013 – their first production, The Child of Nantucks Lane is currently in production and due to be completed by the end of this year.

Chelsea Theatre is a contemporary performing space and community hub that is dedicated to commissioning, producing and presenting the freshest and most innovative artists. The venue will be transformed into a haunted 1940s country home for The Evacuee.

You can book tickets for The Evacuee at www.chelseatheatre.org.uk/the-evacuee – tickets cost £12 (£10 concessions). You can get 2-4-1 on tickets on 29th and 30th October, and a Halloween Special – with tickets priced at just £6.66 – will be offered for performances on 31st October.

Furthermore, on 9th November there will be a special “1940s evening” performance where the audience are encouraged to dress up in WWII-era costumes and join the cast and crew for a drink after the show.

On Sunday 10th November – Remembrance Day – £1 from every ticket sold for that day’s show will be donated to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

The Evacuee – A World War II ghost story by Ian Breeds
29th October – 17th November 2013 (no Monday performances)
Chelsea Theatre
7 World’s End Place
King’s Road
SW10 0DR

www.quint-essentialtheatre.co.uk

Join the SPID Theatre Company and take part in Kensal Voices!

Young local residents may be very interested to hear about an exciting local community project that’s calling for participants to take part in taster sessions next week! Kensal Voices will see 20 young participants based in and around Kensal House take part in an exciting multimedia project that will focus on the heritage of this historic, Grade II* listed council estate, designed by Modernist architect Maxwell Fry in 1937.

Whilst working on Kensal Voices, participants will take part in a number of interesting stages, each of which will help them learn and develop particular techniques and skills, as well as working in conjunction with a number of organisations. These include analysing source materials and learning about researching and archiving whilst they attend workshops on modernist architecture and design run by the Victoria & Albert Museum, then creating a booklet about the estate’s history; being trained to create oral history testimonies and learning about interview techniques with the Oral History Society before conducting their own interviews with the older residents of the estate; and developing and conducting architectural tours of Kensal House, after undertaking their own tour with The 20th Century Society.

The final stage of Kensal Voices will allow participants to decide which material they would like to explore further – which they will then develop into an estate-based performance, that will be free for the public to attend. This final stage will see the participants forming their own company  and working alongside professionals to create the performance – offering them a sense of ownership of both the project and the heritage of their estate.

Kensal Voices

Kensal Voices has been started by the S.P.I.D. (Specially Produced Innovatively Direct) Theatre Group who are themselves based in the community rooms of Kensal House. They create adventurous and immersive theatrical work in non-traditional spaces, and their promenade performances in neglected community spaces have won prizes nationally. Helena Thompson founded S.P.I.D. in 1999 and has been working with director Rachel Grunwald since 2003, aiming to attract audiences, especially young ones, that are otherwise alienated by traditionally-staged theatre. In 2005, they based their Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Open House’ in the neglected community rooms of Kensal House, and it was then that children and young people from the estate asked to get involved – prompting the start of their youth theatre group. Only recently SPID members aged 5-25 won an award for ‘Best Animation’ for their short film ‘High Above The Sky’ at the First Light Awards at the Odeon in Leicester Square.

In the last seven years, the S.P.I.D. Theatre Company has done much to renovate its home in Kensal House, cleaning and renovating the community rooms that now house a fully equipped lighting and tech rig with state-of-the-art operating equipment. The company now curates the space as a ‘Community Hub’ for residents.

Taster sessions for Kensal Voices will be taking place on Wednesday 3rd April (4.30pm – 6.30pm) and on Saturday 6th April (1pm – 3pm) – you can also sign-up at either session. Free workshops will also be held every Saturday (11am – 5pm) from the 13th April to 5th June – limited spaces are available.

For more details (and also to sign up!) check out www.spidtheatrecompany.com, or call Ann on 020 8968 2961/07903 861 674 or email youth@spidtheatrecompany.com.

Alice in Wonderland Bikeminded Tours in Kensington and Chelsea

Concluding their summer series of cycling tours in the Kensington & Chelsea area this summer, July will see Bikeminded put on a set of unusual Alice in Wonderland-themed tours that will guide participants through the parks and hidden corners of the borough, all the while indulging in the fantasy world of Alice herself.

Bikeminded Alice in Wonderland Tours

Alice in Wonderland by John McKeever

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Bikeminded campaign (which aims to get local residents and workers using bikes more often) and the Exquisite Folly Theatre have teamed up to produce six two-hour tours in mid-July that are sure to be enjoyed by both adults and children alike. For each specially adapted performance, the seven actors on the tour and the audience will be transported back to the 1930s, encountering many twists and surprises.

The two hour tours will take place from Wednesday 18th July to Sunday 22nd July, with matinee tours on the weekend for families. Each tour will start at Cremone Gardens in Chelsea (right by the River Thames) and end in Holland Park.

Tickets for the Alice in Wonderland tours cost £8 for adults and £4 for children, and can be booked on Bikeminded’s website.

Councillor Paget-Brown, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea says:

“We are delighted to be bringing Alice in Wonderland to the streets and green spaces of Kensington and Chelsea this July with such a unique cycling tour. This is the first time, to our knowledge that Alice in Wonderland has ever been performed and experienced on bikes and therefore encourage as many of our residents as possible to be part of this unforgettable and one-off opportunity.”

Amelia De-Felice, Exquisite Folly Theatre Company says:

“We are very excited to be working with Bikeminded again, following the successful ghost cycling tour we hosted for them last October. To be given free-reign by Bikeminded to integrate theatre with cycling is very exciting.  With the streets of the borough as our stage we can really let our imaginations run wild taking the audience into the realm of fantasy and give them a cycling experience they’ll never forget. And as our interpretation of Alice in Wonderland is set in the 1930s we’d love it if our audience felt inspired to dress up in costumes of that era for the tour!”

The PapaTango Playwriting Festival 2011, 29th Nov to 23rd Dec

This year’s PapaTango Playwriting Festival, in association with the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre in Earl’s Court, is to host the world premieres of four plays – Foxfinder by Dawn King; Through The Night by Matt Morrison; Rigor Mortis by Carol Vine; and Crush by Rob Young. Foxfinder was the winning play in the 2011 PapaTango Playwriting Competition and will be performed as a four week, limited run during the festival; the three other plays were runners up in the competition, and will each be performed as a one week run.

As a special event on Monday 5th December, playwright Richard Bean will also be giving a talk on his career, new writing and how he views the dynamic between actor, director and writer in developing new work. His highly-acclaimed latest play, One Man, Two Guvnors, is currently on at the Adelphi Theatre in London (until 25th February 2012) and he was awarded the 2011 Evening Standard Award for Best Play for two of his plays – The Heretic and One Man, Two Guvnors.

The PapaTango Theatre Company was founded by Matt Roberts, George Turvey and Sam Donovan in 2007, with the aim of finding the best and brightest new playwriting talent in the UK and bringing it to the stage. The company has produced eight pieces of new writing in venues such as the Tristan Bates Theatrein Covent Garden, Islington’s Old Red Lion Theatre and the Pleasance London. Their playwriting competition was launched in 2009 and this year received over 600 entries. Further information on the PapaTango Theatre Company can be found on their website at www.papatango.co.uk.

More about each play, performance times, ticket info can be found on
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2011/production-papatango.php, where you can also book tickets for all of the plays.

The PapaTango Playwriting Festival 2011
Tuesday 29th November – Friday 23rd December 2011
Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road
SW10 9ED