Following the success of their vibrant and boisterous last show, Seussical: the Musical, The Hayling Youngstars are back in action at The Hayling Community Centre, though this time with a very different spectacle: the highly acclaimed, globally renowned hit-musical Les Miserables: School Edition.
However, this production is not to be mistakenly dismissed as ‘just an amateur youth production’ – quite the contrary. The 24-piece orchestra and the complex lighting and sound systems that hang from the bespoke scaffolding are clues as to the scale of this company’s commitment to high quality productions and performance. For many, the Youngstars (and this show in particular) soar above your ‘average’ amateur youth production – no wonder the company were brave enough to take on Boubil and Schonberg’s epic masterpiece.
From the start, the light, setting and mood will resonate with fans of the West End’s original version and, like the professionals in that production, it is clear that these teenage performers aren’t simply here for a sing-along; every word is authentically acted and genuinely felt, no doubt clipped and groomed by experienced creative team over the past five months of rehearsals.
Baritone Lucas Bradshaw cuts a traditionally stern Javert from the opening, the policeman’s severity and pompous arrogance brilliantly conveyed and all with a voice far more pleasing to the ear than Russell Crowe’s. Like leading man Aiden Hammond in the role of Jean Valjean, Bradshaw demonstrates a maturity beyond his years.
Hammond’s Valjean is, as in the original, the central cog in the story of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and his strong and dependable stage presence is as firm as many a professional performer’s.
With younger members of the company fulfilling chorus roles such as the chain gang and ‘lovely ladies’, one wonders if this serious and sombre atmosphere will suit their youth, but there is no untimely giggling or smiling – there is only, to their absolute credit, a sincere and earnest understanding of the context of Les Miserables. More to the point, every chorus number hits the audience between the eyes: the punchy energy is vitalising. As ever, the remarkable musical score – deserving of the full orchestra – is spine-tinglingly moving throughout and, ably conducted by the brilliant Darren Alderton, sounds as fine as the West End’s own.
The famous 'I Dreamed a Dream' is synonymous with any performance of Les Mis and Emily Harkness’ Fantine is utterly convincing; as with other principles, her acting is as compelling as her prodigious singing ability: she becomes caught in the moment and remains utterly committed to her heart-breaking end. The same can be said of Jess Tame’s tragic Eponine and Jess Knight’s coy heroine Cosette, both of whom sing beautifully and burst with passion for the flawless Ewan Wharton as the romantic and loyal Marius. Perhaps most impressively, each character has a sound understanding of their character’s identity: in an instant the audience can tell the difference between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; the ‘posh ones’ from the ‘peasants.’ Yet the story’s glory lies in the fact we empathise with them all and even the stoniest of hearts will struggle to keep a dry eye.
The Youngstars’ youngest stars are also on show, with Joe Coates’ confident display as the plucky Gavroche reaching out brilliantly to the audience and Daisy Harkness providing the ‘cute’ young Cosette who falls prey to the Innkeeper Thernadier and his wife who are as bullyingly unpleasant as ever.
Special mention must go to Jonah Ford as Thernardier - he is brilliantly accomplished for a teenager and alongside Beth Knight as Madame Thernadier, they are the master and mistress of comedy; perhaps the most difficult of roles and traditionally the only comic relief in the show.
Other standout moments include the famous number Stars – Bradshaw shoulders this masterpiece of a song with ease – and the performances of Enjorlras (Ethan Emery) and Grantaire (Anthony Davies) are nothing short of exceptional; these talented performers can’t be too many years off the age of the ‘students’ in the professional stage productions, and that youthful energy and passion comes across perfectly.
There is only one conclusion to reach at the end of this emotional and rousing show; that Youngstars is as aptly named as any Youth Company in existence and that the audiences about to see the rest of this run are in for a treat above and beyond a simple ‘amateur’ production. To use the final words of the musical itself, Hayling Youngstars are clearly “the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”
Les Miserables: School Edition opens to audiences tonight, Wednesday 31st May, and runs until Saturday 3rd June. Tickets are £12 and can be bought online via www.haylingmusical.com or directly from The Community Centre.
Photos here by Julie Wharton and used with kind permission of the creative team.
A small business which offers the opportunity to sit down on comfy beanbags watching popular films, which also formed a brilliant theatrical relationship with CCADS Theatre, has announced its closure.
Cafe au Cinéma on Osborne Road, Southsea, released a statement saying, "We're crushed to announce the closure of our mini cinema and coffee house."
"Due to insurmountable circumstance we are no longer able to continue trading. Our final date will follow. This is likely to be around July, but we wanted to give everyone forward notice of the sad news."
"We have always strived to put our heart and soul into everything we do and to be a little different. We wanted to share our love of film and movies at our quirky venue in the heart of Southsea. Not to mention our home baking and Unicorn Lattes!"
"The decision to close our doors has been a hard one, but unavoidable at this stage. Being a small business is always tricky but in the new current climate and due to elements outside of our control, the decision had to be made."
"We're eternally grateful for all of your love."
The venue supported local theatre with specialist screenings with cast members and public together; most notably for Let The Right One In and a special presentation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with CCADS Theatre. It's a great example of local art venues supporting each other.
We're very upset to see the closure of this place and hope we can all find the time to pop in and support it in advance of its closure. We'd also like to take the opportunity to thank them for their support of local theatre.
You can read the full statement here: https://www.cafeaucinema.com/new-cover-page-1/
Fareham Musical Society (FMS) return to Ferneham Hall in Fareham with Our House, the Madness musical, in September 2017.
The company have recently released the cast list for the production via social media, which we are happy to announce.
Joe is being played by Sean Ridley and Sarah by Molly Lancaster. Gareth Billington has been cast as Lewis and Adam Brombley will take the role of Emmo.
Zara Newbury is playing Billie; Hannah Edwins is to play Angie and Stuart Frank has been cast as Reecey.
Starring alongside, Graeme Clements will play Joe's Dad; Marie Ridley will play Joe's Mum and Mr Pressman has Roger Trencher in the role.
Based on the music of Madness and having won an Olivier Award, it's a feel-good musical not to miss.
Tickets are available for a discounted rate until the 31st May 2017. Booking before Wednesday therefore will secure you a ticket for just £10!
The musical is bound to be great fun and follows a number of productions which have been excellently received for the company. As the company state, it would be Madness to miss it!
Director Daniel McCrohon, who is staging his adaptation of Charles Dickens' masterpiece Great Expectations next week, has appeared with some of his cast members on local television.
The play is being staged at Trinity Church Theatre in Southsea from Wednesday 31st May until Saturday 3rd June 2017 by The Phoenix Players. It tells the story of orphan Pip as he grows up and meets a variety of characters who influence his life, dealing with wealth; poverty; love; rejection and morals.
Some members of the cast dressed in costume and joined Daniel McCrohon, who has adapted this particular version of the play from the novel himself, for the five and a half minute interview with That's Solent TV.
The channel, dedicated to local news and events, circulates the interview regularly on Freeview Channel 7.
Tickets for Great Expectations are very affordable and some are still currently available, although advance booking is highly encouraged. You can telephone 08454 676462 to book or, alternatively, book online through Ticketsource. Link below. Performances are 7:30pm nightly, with a matinée at 2:30pm Saturday.
As ever, we look forward to hearing your thoughts through our Social Media channels, or via the comment box below. Enjoy!
The Portsmouth Players have announced they are delaying their planned in-house production of Assassins until Wednesday 30th August 2017.
The musical, written by Stephen Sondheim, was originally scheduled to open on the 17th June. "Due to technical difficulties we have had to postpone our production of Assassins in June," Production Manager Jack Edwards posted online. "We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience caused to you."
The company have announced revised dates for the piece, which will instead run from Wednesday 30th August until 2nd September; welcome news for the many excited fans of the musical.
Anyone who has purchased tickets will be contacted regarding the revision and tickets are on sale for the new dates. The show, and the Portsmouth Players, come highly recommended and are known for their quality productions. We've included a link to the online box office below:
Ever-popular Titchfield Festival Theatre have announced they are auditioning for young actors to join their August/September production of Shakespeare's timeless classic Romeo and Juliet.
"Calling all young actors (male and female) looking to prove their skills, Titchfield Festival Theatre will be hosting audition workshops for their brand new production of Romeo and Juliet this Saturday 27th May."
The production is directed by Daniel Fox, who recently had great success with his last directorial piece, Rhinocerous.
"The production [of Romeo and Juliet] will include elements of physical theatre and movement. The casting age is 16 - 25."
If you are interested you can register and get the details of the audition by emailing email@example.com.
The theatre, and director Fox, very much look forward to seeing you there!
Audition workshops take place on Saturday 27th May. Details will be sent once you have registered below or emailed your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. We wish all auditionees every success!
Interalia Theatre return to the local stage for another hilarious outing of historical nonsense from the pen of Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.
“Our previous productions went down so well, we had to follow them up!”, says Nick Scovell, director of the popular and award-winning Fareham based theatre company. “We have always sold out everywhere we have gone with Blackadder and audiences and critics alike really seemed to enjoy the shows. We seem to have ‘caught onto a trend’ of staging classic comedies – they are hugely popular at the moment. I think people enjoy seeing a fresh, but familiar, take on what they know will be genuinely funny.”
Staging one episode from each of the four series of the BBC smash-hit comedy that ran from 1983 to 1989, the production will take audiences on a crazy journey from bickering Medieval bishops, through the court of Elizabeth I, to the lunacy of the Georgian era and end up in the First World War.
The cast from previous productions have been re-united, and they took little persuading. Sean Ridley, once again plays the titular hero. “They are so much fun to do. Many of us are huge fans of the series, so when Nick asked me to reprise the part I said ‘yes’ like a shot! We are constantly reminded as we rehearse how funny these scripts are. It’s very hard to keep a straight face!”
The production will also be helping to raise money for Comic Relief, so an evening of nostalgic merriment will also raise funds for a very good cause. Details of their work can be found using the link below.
Blackadder Returns plays on the following dates at the following venues from Wednesday 7th June to Saturday 10th June:
Wednesday 7th to Thursday 8th June
Groundlings Theatre, Kent Street, Portsmouth. PO1 3BS
Box Office: 023 9273 7370
Nightly at 7.30pm
Friday 9th to Saturday 10th June
Ferneham Hall, Osborn Road, Fareham. PO16 7DB
Box Office: 01329 231942
Nightly at 7.30pm
Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions). Advanced booking heavily recommended.
Being Alive, the annual charity concert presented and performed by Kelly Fuller and Friends, is back for a fourth fantastic instalment following the success of previous years. Having raised over seven thousand pounds for charity thus far in just three years, the annual concert returns to Ferneham Hall in July with a new theme and exciting additional extras.
Rehearsals are well underway from the team, this year bringing the theme 'Animation Through The Ages' to life with some incredible song and dance performances. It's all aimed at raising much needed and deserved funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Simon Says.
And this year for the first time a special meet and greet is in place before the show begins where you can donate additionally to meet some popular princesses, all raising funds for these worthy causes.
Kelly Fuller, brainchild and creator of the project, told us, "I can't believe we are into Being Alive 4, and our second at Ferneham Hall. It is truly amazing how much support I've had, not only from the audiences that come to watch and support, [but also] from the cast who put in all their hours of free time to rehearse."
"This year is one of my favourites. Animation! I grew up watching so many animated movies and know plenty of them word for word. This, mixed with our meet and greet of some favourite princesses, I think it is going to be something really special."
"The theme fits with the reason behind our charities this year. First is Cystic Fibrosis, which is for our special little friend, three year old Ivy, who will be making an appearance on the stage on the night. She has Cystic Fibrosis.
Then the second is for Simon Says, a children's bereavement charity. This was chosen because my friend's little boy goes there after losing his dad sadly and unexpectedly whilst on a Stag Do in Prague."
You can find out more about these very worthy causes on the evening, or by visiting their respective websites (links below).
The best way, of course, to support these fantastic charities is to get tickets and have a fantastic evening of entertainment. The show is on at Ferneham Hall in Fareham on Sunday 16th July 2017. The meet and greet with the princesses begins at 5pm, and doors for the show open at 6pm.
In the meantime, you can also assist by donating raffle prizes and sharing the event with friends and family. The standard of performance is always high with Being Alive and this will be no exception. So why not treat yourself; support theatre and help worthy causes all at the same time?
As Kelly says, "whether you are young, or just young at heart, this show definitely has something for everyone." You can request to book tickets below:
Tickets can also be booked by calling 07714 463223. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in providing a raffle prize or have any problems with the form. Thank you.
The enchanting world of CBeebies’ hit animated series Sarah & Duck will be brought to life on stage for the first time this Summer. Featuring a host of wonderful characters from the BAFTA Award-winning show, embarking on a brand new adventure, Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday will play at New Theatre Royal on Wednesday 31 May 2017.
Join Sarah and Duck, along with all their favourite friends including The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, John and Flamingo and Umbrella, as they plan a circus-themed birthday party for Scarf Lady in their garden. But when the weather turns windy and the big top is blown away, will Sarah and Duck be able to save the day? Told through a fantastic blend of inventive puppetry, charming storytelling and toe-tapping music, Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday will take families and children on a magical theatrical adventure.
Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday features all the familiar voices from the CBeebies series, including Roger Allam as the Narrator and Lesley Nicol as Scarf Lady.
Following the gentle adventures of a wide-eyed, 7-year-old girl and her feathered best friend, Sarah & Duck has been a huge hit since its debut in 2013, winning a BAFTA for ‘Best Pre-School Animation’ in 2014 and regularly appearing in CBeebies' Top Ten programmes for viewers aged 4-15. Now in its third series, it is shown in over 100 counties around the world.
The theatre show, penned by Polka Theatre's artistic director Peter Glanville and Sarah & Duck co-creator Sarah Gomes Harris, is recommended for children aged 3-6. Tickets are currently available via the New Theatre Royal Box Office. Link below.
PortsmouthTheatre.com is back after a brief hiatus with exciting news and show information to share in the articles to follow.
Firstly, and most essentially, the Portsmouth Players are staging their in-house production of Streisand: A Salute to the Barbara Streisand Songbook this week. With such incredible talent amongst them as a company, this show is bound to be a production not to miss. You can book tickets via our Listings page. It runs at the Milton Barn until the 20th May.
Secondly, we'll be bringing you news of the fabulous Being Alive 4, confirmed for 2017 and in its fourth fantastic instalment. With added extras to make the day even more special, and with its previous editions already having raised thousands for charity, we cannot wait to bring you all the details of this year's theatrical charity concert.
There's also details of South Downe Musical Society's production of hit musical Sister Act, with some exciting preview and promotional events building up to their show week in July.
And further to all this, HumDrum's production of Touched is making strong progress; Bench Theatre are busy rehearsing Twelfth Night; the New Theatre Royal are about to present the lovable Sarah & Duck's Big Top Birthday stage show, as well as having a great list of forthcoming productions and under the guise of their new CEO, and the Southsea Shakespeare Actors are unveiling a hilarious tribute to Shakespeare to round off their 70th triumphant year.
As ever, we really appreciate your support for us - our visitor numbers continue to increase and we could not be prouder or more thankful. Your ever present contribution to local theatre is, without doubt, essentially important. Now, more than ever, is the time to show that support and love. The arts are so imperative to our city and you, as an audient, are the key to keeping theatre, arts and culture alive in Portsmouth.
So thank you for all you do. For all you see. And for checking things out here. We have exciting new features and segments to unveil later this year - but for now, keep your eyes peeled on the website, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and we'll probably see you in an auditorium soon.