The Southsea Shakespeare Actors have announced their production of 'Murder in the Cathedral', which runs on Saturday and Sunday this weekend only, has sold out its opening night.
Performed at Portsmouth Cathedral on the 1st and 2nd of October, the production is a unique opportunity to see T.S.Elliot's play in this incredible setting. The production forms part of a season of shows for the company.
Remaining tickets for the Sunday performance are available online or from the Portsmouth Cathedral shop.
The production is directed by Lauren Farnhill and features a wealth of local acting talent. We've included a link to the box office below.
Photos taken by John Farnhill and taken from.the Southsea Shakespeare Actor's Facebook group. Follow them for all the information on their forthcoming production.
The Southsea Shakespeare Actors have released information, and marketing material, for their November production of 'As You Like It'.
The Shakespeare comedy is to be set in the sixties and performed at the Station Theatre, Hayling Island, from the 9th to the 12th November 2016. The piece is directed by Paula Bartlett and Ellen Giddey.
The synopsis, from the company and featured on the box office website, reads:
"The year is 1967, Rosalind and Orlando are leaving tradition, rules and tyrannical relatives behind to look for freedom, peace and most importantly love in the Forest of Arden.
Turn on, tune in, drop out and join us in the Summer of Love for one of Shakespeare’s most popular pastoral comedies, featuring a host of fantastic characters, an almost magical forest, a soundtrack straight out of Woodstock and much, much more...".
This production follows the company's acclaimed production of 'The Winter's Tale' earlier in the year. Southsea Shakespeare Actors are also currently rehearsing for 'Murder in the Cathedral', which opens on the 1st October and is to be performed at the Portsmouth Cathedral for two nights only.
Rising comedy double act Stokes & Summers are bringing their highly-praised revue A Really Really Big Modern Telly to Portsmouth College, where Kate Stokes previously studied, for a special one-off performance.
The duo's show earned rave reviews at the Brighton Fringe Festival and International Youth Arts Festival, Kingston and they have recently performed as part of the Somerset Fringe Festival. Now they are bringing it back to Portsmouth, where they developed the show in May, for a performance at Portsmouth College on Thursday 22nd September at 7.15pm.
A Really Really Big Modern Telly explores contemporary issues of narcissism, consumerism and technology in a fast-paced show featuring stories, sketches, and music. Two extended sketches at the heart of the show feature a reimagining of the myth of Narcissus, set in a self-help health spa retreat, and an urban fable about a celeb-obsessed woman stepping inside her television and discovering what happens when the consumer becomes the consumed. The hour-long show integrates performance and projection and combines old and new forms of entertainment. A Really Really Big Modern Telly is relatable and engaging for audiences of all backgrounds and ages with humour that appeals to all generations.
Kate Stokes, 22, from Portsmouth, and Claudia Summers, 22, from Reading, who devised and perform in the show, are drama graduates from Bristol University, where their comedy partnership began.
Kate Stokes was a student at Priory School from 2005 to 2010, where she took the Performing Arts BTEC and regularly participated in extra-curricular drama such as the Shakespeare Schools Festival. She went on to study Drama and Theatre Studies A-Level at Portsmouth College, before going to the University of Bristol to study Drama: Theatre, Film and Television (BA) Hons. Since graduating in 2015, Kate returned to Portsmouth and worked in the New Theatre Royal Café (until May 2016) and as a Front-of-House Assistant at The Kings Theatre while working on new theatre projects. Both the New Theatre Royal and The Kings Theatre supported the development of A Really Really Big Modern Telly by providing free rehearsal space. Before debuting the full show at Brighton Fringe, Stokes and Summers did a scratch performance at the New Theatre Royal in the Minghella Studio and invited audience feedback.
The first performances on the tour were at Latest Music Bar for the Brighton Fringe Festival, after which Arts Award Voice called the show hilarious, while Fringe Review declared: “Move over French and Saunders; Stokes and Summers are in town!”. The show was then performed at the Arthur Cotterell Theatre Studio, Kingston College, as part of the International Youth Arts Festival. They received a five star review from the IYAF Press team, hailing the show as “outrageously fun”. Most recently, the show was performed at the Princess Theatre in Burnham-on-sea as part of the Somerset Fringe Festival.
Kate Stokes says “I’m incredibly excited to perform the show in my hometown. We’re so grateful for the support we had from the local theatres when developing the show in May, and we’re really thankful for Jo Field at Portsmouth College for giving us the opportunity to perform in the college theatre studio. It’s especially exciting on a very personal level as it was when I was at studying A-Level drama, creating and performing theatre in that studio, that I realised that I definitely wanted to pursue theatre as a career.”
A Really Really Big Modern Telly is performed this evening, Thursday 22nd September 2016 from 7:15pm, for one night only.
The Full Monty, Fareham Musical Society, Ferneham Hall
The original version of The Full Monty was a very successful film starring Robert Carlyle in the late 1990s. The story of out of work steel workers in 1970s Sheffield trying to make ends meet by doing "The Full Monty" was a firm favourite and continues to be so today. The musical followed a few years later and changed the setting to New York and the time to the present but the story remained the same.
Fareham Musical Society produced an incredibly polished and enjoyable production. The scene changes were seamless and quiet and they utilised the simple but effective set fully. The lighting was very cleverly done and timed to perfection, particularly in the end "Full Monty" sequence, much to the disappointment of the excited ladies in the audience.
The performances were all very slick and so natural that, at times you forgot you were watching a show, as such it is difficult to single out any one person from this talented ensemble. Stuart Frank as Jerry was outstanding. His powerful voice and convincing accent were perfect and he remained completely in character throughout. The scenes with his son Nathan (beautifully played by Tristan Redwood) were both fun and heartbreaking in equal measure, whilst the "best friend scenes" with Dave (Alex Howat) showed great onstage chemistry between the two men
Sarah Clarke as Jeanette, clearly relished her role and had great comic timing. Hannah Edwins as Vicki was a particularly strong performance, full of sass and character whilst Alexandra Maclean as Georgie wowed the audience with her stunning voice.
The show was topped off by an enthusiastic and accomplished orchestra ably directed by Musical Director Valerie Tucker and superb choreography by Beth Marshall. All these things have led to a very successful debut of director Sam Sampson. This is a show to be proud of.
On until Saturday. Don't miss it.
Fareham Musical Society open their production of 'The Full Monty' tonight at Ferneham Hall. Ahead of the show, we catch up with the talented Stuart Frank to discuss the production and that ever looming full striptease...
Tell us a bit about the Fareham Musical Society production of the 'The Full Monty'.
Not a problem - so our production is based on the musical stage show written in the late 90's, shortly after the monumental success of the film. It was initially released on Broadway before transferring to London's West End for a limited run. Whilst there are many versions of the show to access via YouTube or, of course, the film - our key and crucial point has been to keep our production as fresh and as original as possible. Our director, Sam Sampson, is a huge believer in the cast creating their own individual characters and making them unique in the way we bring them to life.
Which character are you playing in the show?
I play Jerry who, if you're familiar with the film, is the character played exceptionally by Robert Carlyle. He's basically a man who's gone from being a small town somebody to a small town nobody - he was a popular high school jock who married his childhood sweetheart before they had their son, Nathan and was in a great position at his job. As we meet him he's been stripped of all of that - he's estranged from his wife, he's lost his job and he's now struggling to meet the maintenance payments to keep access to his son. He's a complex character because he's got an air of a loveable loser type rogue, but beneath all the bluster and pretence the only thing that truly matters to him is his son. He's definitely flawed, but he's a good guy - and that's what makes playing him so interesting and enjoyable.
How does 'The Full Monty' film compare to the musical version you are performing?
The key difference between the two is that the action has shifted from a northern English town over to Buffalo, New York. In place of the original movie soundtrack, the show offers a truly phenomenal original score too. It's got a very catchy pop-rock/r&b vibe to it with some cracking power ballads in there as well. It's one of those scores that will make you go straight online and buy the show soundtrack after you've seen it! The story itself, however, is pretty much identical. All the characters are exactly the same as in the film with the key moments as well - the 'cling film' moment included!
Obviously, 'The Full Monty' is famous for having a full male striptease. How has that been for you and the other guys?
What's funny is that when the show was first cast, we all knew exactly what we were letting ourselves in for and kind of laughed it off as all of that side of it seemed so far away. But when it got to the rehearsal that we'd planned to finally go 'the full monty', you could massively feel the tension in the room! It's an incredibly daunting prospect, knowing that you're going to be getting fully naked on stage in front of an audience of hundreds....but luckily the six of us have formed a very tight-knit team and we're ready for it! Although if those lights don't go out at the right time then there could be murder for the lighting crew!!!
Did you rehearse that part of the show early on? How have rehearsals for that been? Did you go "all the way" from the outset?
No, we actually left all of the stripping part until a lot later on in the process. As much as the show culminates in the six men going 'the full monty', we were very much aware that we have a two hour show before that moment which needed a lot of crafting, so that took the main focus. Our production team have been amazingly supportive with regards to the sensitivity around the nudity, and ensured that we had closed rehearsals only when it came down to the final scene. We had a dance routine to try and get to grips with first - and that's normally enough of a challenge in itself for six blokes!
Do you have a favourite moment from the show?
On a personal basis, my favourite moment to perform is a scene in the second act between Jerry and Nathan where Jerry's in dire need of cash to hold down the deposit on the club for the big night, and Nathan lends him the money he needs from his own savings. It's a real tender moment in the show, and one of the few scenes where Jerry's guard completely comes down and you get to see just how much he loves his son and how much Nathan truly means to him. I truly adore that scene. I also have to give enormous praise to one of my five partners in crime, Dan Roberts, who leads an exceptional scene at his character (Malcolm's) mother's funeral.
Why do you think people should come see the production?
Honestly, there is so much more to this show than a lot of people will think. Most people hear 'The Full Monty' and instantly just associate it with the six men getting naked at the end, but there is so much more to this piece than that. It's got real grit, heart, warmth and truth to its story, and is very much a show that every audience member can relate to. It's also an extremely brave move for FMS who are so renowned for performing the family friendly classics like 'Anything Goes' and 'The Sound Of Music', so it's something completely different for not just our company, but our audiences as well. Anyone who comes to see this show is guaranteed to leave with a smile on their face and a spring in their step - what more could you ask for?!
The Full Monty runs at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, from Tuesday 20th until Saturday 24th September 2016 with a matinée on the Saturday afternoon. Advanced booking strongly advised due to popular nature of show. Link to online box office below.
‘Habeas Corpus’ (translated from Latin as ‘You Shall Have The Body’) is a comical farce written by Alan Bennett, which made its theatrical debut in London’s West End back in 1973. You could, therefore, be forgiven for wondering whether a comical yet character-based piece such as this still has relevance in today’s world.
The Bench Theatre present us with their take on this farcical tale of the highly dysfunctional Wicksteed family, and the events of one rather chaotic day in their household. To stage a piece such as this successfully requires exceptional skill from both the director and the actors – Bennett’s work here is as sharp as it is punchy, and anything less than 100% commitment from all involved would see this simply fall flat on its face.
Thankfully, The Bench Theatre do not disappoint one inch. Philip Amor truly excels as the ‘frayed around the edges’ local GP Arthur Wicksteed, suffering a post mid-life crisis; matched exceptionally to perfection by Sarah Parnell as his long-suffering, neglected wife – both of whom chasing the lust and desire that escaped their dwindling marriage long ago. In both Armor and Parnell we are evidently witnessing the highly professional work of two fine actors, both clearly well versed in their craft.
Ingrid Corrigan is delightful as Mrs Swabb – the interfering yet loveable cleaner, delivering comical pathos with sincere ease and wonderfully sharp on her cues; her comedy timing so impressively on point from start to finish. Leigh Cunningham marvellously takes the audience by complete surprise as the Wicksteed’s wimpish, hypercondriac of a son, Dennis. Cleverly disguised as a post-pubescent boy, Cunningham certainly lets her remarkable commitment and skill do the real hard work of making the audience forget that we are actually watching a female.
What truly makes this production stand out, however, is the sheer commitment that each and every actor within this cast of eleven gives to their characterisation from curtain up to curtain call. No matter which character is taking centre stage within an ensemble scene, every single actor gives full commitment to their performance no matter how great or little their dialogue. The scenes involving the entire cast together are a real treat to observe with every character so well-crafted and individual.
Director Jacquie Penrose has much to be proud of here, leading a cast of true professional merit to deliver a first class performance in the intimate space of Havant’s Spring Arts & Heritage Centre. With minimal set, she truly proves that quality theatre is based soley on performance and that alone, quashing any cynicism one might have in line with my earlier point – as there most certainly IS still relevance for a piece such as this in today’s world. As long as The Bench Theatre continue to deliver these 5* productions, long may these pieces continue.
The New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth has announced the departure of its artistic director and CEO, Caroline Sharman after 8 years at the helm.
In a press release, the theatre said, 'Caroline has led an exceptional team through a multi-million pound capital project from inception to its completion - from fundraising, developing the ideas to project managing and brokering new partnerships through its first year of activity.
Judith Smyth, Chair of New Theatre Royal Trustees commented, “Caroline has made a major contribution to secure the future of our theatre and we are all very grateful for her leadership through some very challenging years. She will be missed.”
Caroline’s international experience directing shows on heritage sites in Syria, Mexico and Greece for the British Council to devising and creating new plays, pantomimes and operas in Glyndebourne, The Minerva and Theatre Chipping Norton provided her with the knowledge and determination to help drive the project.
During her tenure at NTR her passion to provide an inclusive platform for local artists was visible in her initiating an Associate Artists scheme which has blossomed into the Creative Lab and has encouraged the Creative Learning team to work with local artists to explore and challenge issues head on.
On October 15 2015, the historic theatre re-opened its doors with a new stage, fly-tower and backstage area, a new creative studio space, a refreshed auditorium and improved accessibility to the heritage theatre through the partnership with University of Portsmouth.
“We will be recruiting a new CEO but meanwhile Sheena Hume, Director of Operations will be stepping up to caretaker the role, with the support of the current team. We are confident that the theatre will continue to go from strength to strength, welcoming exciting and adventurous shows that challenge perceptions. We have a beautiful building and a strong programme of great performances to look forward to,” says Judith Smyth
Sheena’s extensive management expertise and in-depth knowledge of the theatre industry will provide her with the experience to continue the theatre’s drive to success, having managed a variety of theatres including Dominion Theatre, London as well as Britain’s largest theatre Hammersmith Apollo in London.
The Bench Theatre Company are staging Alan Bennett's 'Habeas Corpus' this week, and it has proved a successful hit at the box office.
Opening on the 14th of September, and running nightly until the 17th, with a matinée on the Saturday, the comedy farce has nearly sold out for the entire run.
There is now limited availability across the performances, so audience members are encouraged to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Performed at the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant, the show follows the successful run of Ayckbourn's 'Woman In Mind' for the Bench. The show is directed by Jacqui Penrose.
Alan Bennett is one of the great writers of theatre and the piece is entertaining, farcical and comes highly recommended.
Adroit Theatre company return this autumn, to present Playhouse Creatures by April De Angelis at The New Theatre Royal's Minghella Studio.
"The day came when everything changed and for the first time women were permitted by royal decree to act upon a stage. A great stir it caused. And I was one of the first ever and when I spoke a great hush descended on the house, and it was as if the men and women gathered there were watching a miracle..."
The year is 1669, a bawdy and troublesome time, and theatres have just reopened after seventeen years of Puritan suppression. There is a surge in dramatic writing and the first English actresses appear on the stage.
Playhouse Creatures focuses on the most famous (Nell Gwyn, Elizabeth Farley, Rebecca Marshall, Doll Common and Mary Betterton) to provide a comic and often moving account of the precarious lives of the Restoration actresses.
Backstage conversations about life behind the curtain are interspersed with moments from their performances in the comedies and tragedies in scenes that will have audiences laughing out loud one minute and swallowing the lump in their throat the next.
The talented cadt are formed of Sheila Birt, Angie Lily, Charlotte Mackie, Francesca McCrohon snd Celia Muir. It is directed by Peter McCrohon; produced by Charlotte Mackie and features original music by Laura Day.
The play is performed on Wednesday 9th, Thursday 10th & Friday 11th November at 7.30pm.
Adroit Theatre Productions was established by Peter McCrohon in 2013 and for the past three years have presented new works in London and Portsmouth.
For 2016, the company has a newly expanded artistic team, made up of three Portsmouth arts professionals drawn from different areas of the industry.
Adroit vow to present works that strongly represent men and women and all their fierce strengths and beautiful vulnerabilities. The company's first two productions focused largely on the male perspective and the latest production centres on five strong female characters at an important moment of change in the history of theatre: when women were first permitted to perform on the stage as actresses.
Previous productions include:
Murdering The Monk - Square Tower, Old Portsmouth (2013)
The Resurrection Men - Leicester Square Theatre,London (2014).
Advanced booking is advised for 'Playhouse Creatures'.
The Portsmouth Players have announced they are to stage 'Are You Being Served'; 'Assassins'; 'Wizard of Oz'; 'The Full Monty'; 'Sweeney Todd' and 'Last Night of the Proms' in their upcoming schedule to 2018.
The company, who are performing 'Oliver!' at The Kings Theatre in November this year, add these productions to their future line up alongside '9 to 5 The Musical' in February.
Portsmouth Players are renowned for their high quality productions and received majorly positive feedback and strong reviews for their production of 'Spamalot' earlier this year.
Advanced booking for 'Oliver!' is strongly recommended as it is highly likely to sell out for the company. It runs from November 1st until the 5th nightly with a Saturday matinée. Link to the box office below.