Tuesday, 29 September 2020

THEATRE REVIEW: Globaleyes - Chickenshed Theatre, London.

First performed at London's Chickenshed Theatre in 2002, and then reminagined and produced again in 2013, this last week saw the online premiere of the 2013 production uploaded onto Chickenshed's YouTube channel, so that those who saw it live can enjoy it again, and those who didn't have the chance to watch it whilst in London, now can watch it wherever they are in the world for a limited time. 

Chickenshed Theatre Company are a group of well over 100 diverse young performers, mostly youths, coming from all backgrounds, social standings, physical and mental abilities, race etc, where no-one is excluded. All perform on the stage and all work together creatively and co-operatively in an awe-inspiring and truly magical way. This is what Chiockenshed do, and it's what they do best.

This particular production, 'Globaleyes', is, as you might imagine, all about the current state of our world. More relevant now than it was in 2002, this piece aims to inform, educate, and offer hope and change in a world where mankind is strangling itself and everything aorund it, shortening the longevity of the planet and the quality of life for all who dwell thereon. 

Subjects raised within the 2 hour show icluded slave labour, child labour, population growth, abuse, human rights, ecological and environmental issues, and much more. It was a hugely ambitious project, and although there was much to say and many heavy and contentious subjects covered, it never felt rushed or overloaded. 

The show had no dialogue as such, the cast worked silently with voice-overs of contemporaneous news bulletins, slogans, political speeches etc, with images to exemplify and ameliorate shown on screens above the performance area. 

The cast of hundreds instead gave a very physical and contemporary performance, using dance, song, movement, and physical theatre techniques to push and progress the ideas. As interesting as this was, and indeed, as excellently crafted as it was, I did feel though that much of what was happening on stage did not directly, or even in some cases indirectly, ally with the voices and images. It became difficult to see the two as connected sadly. Moreover, much of the performance was given a blue or dark blue hue with the lights and haze was used too at times. On the computer screen this made it extremely dark and difficult to see.. definition and faces were sadly blurred or fuzzy. This was never the case when standard straw or steel lights were used. 

Directed by Christine Niering, Jonathan Mortan, and Louise Perry, with origianl music under the direction of Dave Carrey, this strong and powerful show was a hugely ambitious project which I feel sure would have been exhilerating and worthwhile for the studemts and young people collaborating and performing in it, and even as a live show, it might have had more punch; but sadly, on the flat screen without 'atmosphere' it did feel a little overlong and somehow flat. 

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 27/9/20

THEATRE REVIEW: Fame - The Shows Must Go On (online) - The Peacock Theatre, London

Online theatre...not something I ever imagined would become a “thing” is now becoming part of the new normal as lockdown restrictions continue in what has been the most bizarre year for everyone. As someone who was previously attending live theatre productions at least once a week, theatre has been the one thing I’ve missed the most during lockdown, but with Andrew Lloyd Webber fighting that “the show must go on”, several previously filmed productions have been available to watch free of charge, most Friday nights from 7pm (each one being available for approx 48 hours). This week's instalment was the 30th Anniversary production of the classic 1980's musical “Fame” - which was filmed at Londons Peacock Theatre during its Autumn run (11 Sep - 19 Oct 2019) before going on tour (I also managed to see the tour local to me later that Winter).

The story starts with the students' Freshman Year - 1980, at PA - a multi-cultural and diverse performing arts school in New York City. Amongst the fresh new faces are Carmen Diaz - a talented dancer, budding actor Nick Piazza and piano player Schlomo Metzenbaum - who hails from a musical family, already having a famous father; and takes you through their four years as students there.

As they are introduced to their teachers and to fellow students, each teacher (music/acting/dance) tells their students that “music/acting/dancing is the hardest profession in the world” (“Hard Work”). Nick is already a successful and recognised television commercial actor since childhood but dreams of becoming a “real actor” and making “magic”. Class clown and fellow inspiring actor Joe declares to the rest of his classmates during a lesson game of “Truth or Consequences” that he “Can’t Keep It Down” and that “I’m like what you call an extrovert” to which Carmen retaliates “More like a pervert!”

A late-comer to the school, Iris Kelly - a classically trained ballet dancer - sets tongues wagging when she arrives in a chauffeur-driven flashy car and comes across as a spoilt little rich girl - which turns out to be far from the truth. Iris is soon paired by her dance teacher with Tyrone - a hip hop dancer with little or no training in classical ballet, he comes from a poor family and secretly struggles with the academic side of school, unaware that he is dyslexic. They have somewhat of a love-hate relationship at first, but later it develops into a romantic relationship. During a dance rehearsal together, Iris looses her cool with Tyrone “for gods sake why can’t you get it together?! - these steps are so basic” he argues that he “doesn’t speak French” and she retaliates that it’s just basic ballet terminology and “that every dancer knows them” Then he retaliates with “Blacks can’t cut ballet because their bodies aren’t cut for it”.Later in front of the class Tyrone performs a rap and contemporary dance which he’s also been teaching fellow students, and his teacher praises him that he’s got the makings of a successful choreographer. 

 As the students settle into life at the school, working hard to achieve their ambition, Carmen (during lunch break in the dining hall) daydreams of seeing her name in lights, claiming that she (“Carmen - not the Opera, but the person) is going to live forever!” She imagines herself winning awards, being on top of the charts. She later leaves for Los Angeles when a so-called talent scout promises her instant success.

When Tyrone starts failing academically, Miss Sherman comes and tells him that he can’t take part in a performance as he’s failed his English paper and has copied Iris’ work. Dance teacher Ms. Bell insists that “this one is different and must have the chance”. The two teachers start to argue (“Teachers Argument”). This musical number is by far THE most powerful number and performance of the show. Mica Paris is outstanding as the firm but fair Miss Sherman. Tyrone approaches the pair - having overheard them arguing and tells them “I don’t need this school!” and storms out.

Whilst Fame is known as a classic '80's musical, this production feels like it could be set in any decade, and the story will always be a relevant one, as literally thousands of budding performers enrol at performing arts schools each year, each one with the ultimate goal of finding fame (and fortune). I would have preferred to see more of an '80's vibe with the costumes and stage set with this production but sadly it seemed to be a stripped back minimalist performance - even failing to have a certain large prop at the end number. Whilst the cast is bursting with huge talent - from Jorgie Porter as Iris Kelly (best known for her role in TVs Hollyoaks) and whilst I’ve never been a Hollyoaks fan, her performance in this production showed that there’s more depth to her talents than a teen/young adult soap drama - her dancing is simply mesmerising to watch; Mica Paris is by far the most outstanding and memorable performer within this cast - her soulful powerful voice making every single hair on the back of my neck stand to attention during “Teacher’s Argument”; whilst Reality Talent TV show runner-up (BBCs “Any Dream Will Do”) Keith Jack gives a performance that makes you question why on Earth he only came second (loosing out to Lee Mead).

Whilst this particular cast is bursting with talent that would otherwise be an ovation worthy production, I personally feel that Fame as a musical in general, is past its sell by date, with no real memorable musical numbers or breathtaking, tear-jerking or feel-good moments in it.

I have tried SO much to really love this show, I’m an '80's kid after all and usually love anything that came out of the decade, but unlike other musicals from the same decade (Phantom Of The Opera, Les Miserables, Little Shop Of Horrors and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to name but a few) it feels amateur and like watching paint dry in comparison to the so many wonderful musicals from the same decade which have far more many memorable musical numbers and notable parts of the story. I think this is one musical that should be laid to rest.

Reviewer - Lottie Davis-Browne
on - 27/9/20

THEATRICAL EVENT / PROJECT REVIEW: Derby Rises - Derby Theatre, Derby.

“We miss you! See you after the interval” proclaims a large banner outside Derby Theatre. Tonight that interval came to an end and the ghost light which had been burning since mid-March was extinguished. How glorious it felt to be inside a theatre again, to be part of an audience – albeit a socially-distanced audience of about 80 in an auditorium designed for perhaps 400.

“Derby Rises” in more than one way. Yes, it is about a city rising up and rebuilding its cultural life after the hideous Lockdown period, but it’s also got a lot to do with sourdough bread which needs to rest or “prove” before it goes in the oven in order to rise properly. Many ideas featured in tonight’s Celebration Event had their genesis in Leo Kay’s Bakery Of Slow Ideas project which brought people from all walks of life to bake bread together – a basic human activity which is meaningful regardless of class, creed, nationality or status – and to reflect upon their experiences of the last few months and their hopes for the future while the dough was proving.

Another important feature of this project is the Graffiti Wall to which local people have been encouraged to add their hopes and dreams for the future. These have been distilled into a poem, “Derby Rises”, by performance poet Jamie Thrasivoulou who is tonight’s first act. This is hard-hitting stuff:

“Some folks want us to stop wasting their taxes / Sick of the same old cream rising to the top / Sick of being told their culture’s too pop / For the arts.”

Derby’s cultural revival, it is clear, will come from the grassroots and not from a faceless elite telling people what is, and what is not, art.

Next, was a diverse and carefully-chosen classical set from a string quartet drawn from Derby’s hugely-respected Sinfonia ViVA. From the technical precision of Ravel’s String Quartet to the raw passion of Piazzolla’s Libertango via the too little-known work of Fanny Mendelssohn, this was a first-rate performance. It’s a pity some younger members of the audience felt the need to talk through most of it.

Derby Theatre’s Artistic Director Sarah Brigham had to apologise to about 70 people who couldn’t connect to the live feed on Facebook until half-way through Sinfonia ViVA’s set. This, she said, proves that live theatre is better than digital (which we knew already!) but it did give us another chance to listen to Thrasivoulou’s poem – he is clearly a local favourite judging by the reception he received.

Symoné and Sky’s dance piece honoured the LGBTQ artists who took part in the workshops. Taking as its theme “reclaiming identity” this was a mesmerising and cleverly-choreographed routine featuring improbably high-heeled roller boots and illuminated hula hoops, executed with assurance by these talented young performers.

Amy Pennington’s witty “Bread And Butter Letter” was a reflection on her experiences in the Bakery of Slow Ideas. It’s clear that this project had a profound therapeutic effect on Pennington and the other participants, providing much-needed interaction after months of isolation and offering a safe space in which to “rest and digest”. Her class-based preconceptions were challenged too: after a lifetime of thinking sourdough bread “too holey and too expensive”, she can now make it herself. Nice food is for everyone, not just the middle classes!

Hip-hop artist Mr. Supreme wrote his first piece, the punchy and intelligent “Derby Rise Up” at one of the community workshops. This, along with “True Anthems” for which he was joined by his crew, was a clear hit with the audience. At this point I have to mention one of the unsung heroes of the whole night, Laura Goulden who threw herself with gusto into the task of providing BSL interpretation. Fast-paced hip-hop can’t be easy to sign effectively.

After a short break during which we were served vegetable curry and rice and the Facebook audience made themselves a cuppa, it was time for the finale. Derby Jazz have been entertaining the city for 40 years and during Lockdown formed an eleven-piece acoustic offshoot, Loosen Up, in order to lift the city’s spirits with free open-air concerts. Under the leadership of trombonist Dennis Rollins MBE, Loosen Up entertained us with a glittering set including two pieces written and arranged by their own Sousaphone player Steve Nutter. It is obvious when performers are just joyful to be making music, and it is this infectious joy, this optimism, that I will take away from tonight’s two sparkling hours of celebration. Derby rises. The arts rise. The new normal will not be the same as the old normal, but if it is more inclusive and engages people of all backgrounds then we are in for an exciting time.

Before the show I had a chat with Baby J of Baby People, a local hip-hop school which is one of the partner organisations in Derby CAN (Creative Arts Network), a three-year, £1.5 million Arts Council-funded project aimed at engaging and nurturing talent in the community and finding the voices of those who aren’t often heard by the big arts organisations. Derby CAN is still at a relatively early stage in its life and had to adapt massively to cope with Lockdown.

Baby People has been heavily involved in the creation of the Graffiti Wall at Cathedral Green, running workshops for the public and getting them to share their hopes and dreams for the future. These were then turned into street art by three local artists. The most striking work features a quotation of Teilhard de Chardin, “The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope”. How apt and timely this message is in 2020!

Baby J explains that the message of the Graffiti Wall is about welcoming people back into the city rather than being a forum for general angst. It is one of the many ways in which Derby CAN is engaging with working class and young people in particular as groups who might be less likely to walk in through the doors of a more formal arts organisation. In that sense it’s about breaking down the invisible barriers which put people off participating in the Arts.

Derby CAN works with Asylum Seekers too. There are a few activities in which they can get involved and they are glad to be given a voice which can be heard, – in the visuals behind Loosen Up’s performance tonight a number of the quotations were in languages such as Albanian and Farsi, – as well as something useful to do with their time.

I’m sure we can look forward to much more brilliant art coming out of Derby CAN, Derby Theatre, and from everyone involved in tonight’s performance, over the next few years.

Reviewer - Ian Simpson
on - 27/9/20

Saturday, 26 September 2020

NEWS: Exciting collaboration between The Dukes and Lancashire Arts this Autumn.

Autumn Collaboration for The Dukes and Lancaster Arts

The Dukes and Lancaster Arts are delighted to announce that they will be working together to bring more exciting live theatre safely back to the Lancaster district in an Autumn Collaboration season.

The two arts organisations, situated in Lancaster city centre and on the Lancaster University campus respectively, are joining forces to showcase a series of dynamic works, beginning with an innovative and socially distanced outdoor performance of Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show on October 20-21.

The latest inventive production from critically acclaimed theatre company imitating the dog and co-producers Leeds Playhouse, Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show is a deliciously dark tale of mischief and immorality that draws inspiration from horror movies and the traditions of carnivals and medicine shows.

Curious audiences are invited to join Dr. Blood and his motley crew for this early Halloween treat at Lancaster Square on the Lancaster University campus, with two performances of the half hour horror show starting at 7.30pm & 8.30pm respectively. The show is recommended for 14+ and can be booked through Lancaster Arts.

There will also be the chance for audiences to experience powerful contemporary drama in The Dukes’ second site Moor Space as part of the season, with On Jerusalem exploring the politics of division with singer and performer, Avital Raz (December 3), followed by Rebecca Atkinson-Lord’s thought-provoking look at social mobility and belonging in The Class Project (December 4). These two shows will each be followed by a post-show Q&A discussion centred upon the themes of the productions.

The Dukes Director, Karen O’Neill said: “The Dukes are thrilled to be collaborating with Lancaster Arts to present this season of live theatre to the district. These are difficult times for all, and our sector is experiencing many challenges. To be able to join forces with Lancaster Arts to help make arts happen safely feels very special and symbolic of the way in which the arts are working together to keep creativity at the centre of our communities.

“Safety is and will continue to be paramount in all that we do. The Dukes team have worked very hard to make Moor Space a COVID-secure home for theatre, and we look forward to welcoming our audiences to celebrate the power of live arts with us and Lancaster Arts.”

Jocelyn Cunningham, Lancaster Arts Director said: “The challenges for arts and cultural venues due to the pandemic offers a brilliant opportunity for Lancaster Arts and The Dukes to work closely together this autumn. This way we can join together to offer something really special for Lancaster audiences.”

Tickets for Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show are limited to ensured reduced capacity audiences and social distancing will be in place for all performances. Full COVID-safety measures will be sent out to each booker and are available on both Lancaster Arts and The Dukes’ websites.

Tickets for Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show are priced at £8 (£7 for supporters and students) and are on sale now. They can be booked through Lancaster Arts at https://www.lancasterarts.org/whats-on/event/dr-bloods-old-travelling-show/. Tickets for The Class Project and On Jerusalem are priced at £11-£15 and will be released soon through The Dukes at www.dukeslancaster.org

NEWS: Oldham's Coliseum Theatre is starting to come back out of the shadows with 2 socially-distanced plays now on sale.

On Monday we’re launching our first ever Crowdfunder, asking audiences to Get Behind Us and support the Coliseum to help us to survive the ongoing crisis. The Coliseum is facing a very difficult Christmas and an uncertain future following our building’s closure, and the inevitable postponement of our annual pantomime. We hope that, if you are able, you can support us and keep the magic of theatre alive in Oldham.

Having now been closed for six months, our building is slowly starting to come back to life. Yesterday we put our first two socially distanced events on sale for November and all this week our Associates Fine Comb Theatre have been in the Studio working on a new play, The Way Things Are.  

The Coliseum will look a little different when we welcome you back this Autumn and Winter. We’ve put in place new plans to ensure your safety and entertainment. You can read all about them here.

We’re also recruiting for next term’s UK Theatre Award nominated Teaching Theatre Pathways and we share a glimpse of our Learning and Engagement department’s work with schools, this term via Zoom!

For more information about the Coliseum please go to their website: www.coliseum.org.uk

NEWS: When nothing seems to be going right, The Play That Goes Wrong returns!


'The Play That Goes Wrong' will reopen in the West End from 19 November 2020.

The award-winning comedy classic will restart performances at the Duchess Theatre, where it has been for the last six years.

Producers Kenny Wax and Stage Presence Ltd said today: "The Play That Goes Wrong has been a tonic for people's spirits since first appearing seven years ago. We know how many thousands of performances have been on stage, how many people have bought tickets and how many hundreds of people have been employed.

"Laughter has the power to bring people together across all divides, reduces tensions and produces joy. And we know how lacking all of those have been these challenging past six months.

"So we count ourselves fortunate that our show is of a size where it is possible to re-open now, and while playing to the smaller-sized audience that social distancing requires, costs can just about be covered. Tickets from £15, Laughs priceless."

Audience capacity has been reduced and will be distanced (similar to the rules for Six the Musical).

Wax added: "We are one of a handful of small / middle scale productions who have low enough running costs to open with a socially distanced audience and even though we are unlikely to be able to make a profit we will be employing about 60 staff across the two productions in London and Bath. But we are still taking a significant risk without a government backed insurance scheme to cover further business cancellation due to COVID-19.

"Our continual asks of government are (1) lift social distancing (2) provide a government backed insurance scheme."

The cast for the West End run will include David Kirkbride, Ross Green, Ciara Morris, Milo Clarke, Michael Keane, Blayar Benn, Elan James and Ellie Morris. The understudies are Tom Bulpett, Oliver Clayton, Antonia Salib and Jack Michael Stacey.

The WhatsOnStage and Olivier Award-winning show will also open at Theatre Royal Bath from 17 December 2020 to 10 January 2021.

Source: WhatsOnStage.

NEWS: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces further support once furlough scheme ends.... but what about The Arts sector chancellor?

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has unveiled a new package of financial support systems to help companies weather a winter with coronavirus.

While the furlough scheme will not be extended past the previously stated end of October deadline, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed a new "Job Support Scheme" to help "viable" jobs.

According to the Chancellor's new system, "employees must work at least one-third of their normal hours and be paid for that work by their employers." Their pay will then be bolstered by equal contributions from both employers and the government, as per the infographic by the Treasury below.

Under this system, if an employee works for a minimum of 33 per cent of their hours, they will be paid for that time. The employer will then have to provide a further percentage of the employee's wage, which is then matched by the government.

The scheme is open to all small- and medium-sized businesses as well as large businesses that can prove they have suffered losses during the pandemic. It will run for six months from November. Sunak did, however, warn that: ""I cannot save every business. Or every job."

What defines a "viable' job is a loose term, as jobs that may not be viable in the immediate sense may certainly be so by the beginning of 2021.

In other news, the self-employment scheme will be extended in line with the new job support scheme, though it is uncertain whether or not the scheme will help those that have previously not been given funds. As it stands, those who are unsupported by these schemes will remain unsupported. The scheme will now cover 20 per cent of average monthly trading profits via a grant.

Sunak added that the "resurgence of the virus...poses a threat to fragile economic recovery. Our task is to move to the next stage. Nurture the economy by protecting jobs." He stated bluntly that it is "fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that only exist within the furlough".

The Chancellor will also provide an extended VAT cut (from 20 per cent to five per cent) for the hospitality and tourism sectors and will extend loan repayment dates. Tax bills can now be spread over 11 smaller repayments without interest.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds fired back at Sunak on his awful timing: "The delay in introducing this new scheme will have impacted on business confidence." Many theatres have already made large-scale redundancies, with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in west London only the latest venue making cuts. Dodds went on: "The deadline for redundancy consultations for large firms came and went last week with our government doing nothing."

NEWS: The Gin Society brings you something to look forward to in 2021

 We all need something to look forward to...

As you know, the main goal of our festivals is to provide a fantastic gin fuelled atmosphere to our customers. With the uncertainty of the current situation, and even with all safety measures in place, we feel your experience would be spoiled an we're not willing t compromise that. 

We want you to be able to socialize with other ginlovers, dance to live music, hold the bottles at the bar for inspiration and pics, etc. For that reason, we have made the tough, yet sensible, decided to postpone all of our 2020 festivals.

All tickets have been moved automatically to the corresponding new date, so current ticket holders don't need to do anything... apart from grabbing a glass and pouring themselves a G&T  😉 !

🍸 So here's hoping that in 2021 we can all be together again, socialise and celebrate gin like never before 🍸

2021 events - more to be added soon:

Manchester Cathedral | Feb 19 & 20
Hull Guildhall | Mar 26 & 27
Carlisle Old Fire Station | Ap 16 & 17

So, for just £12.50 (+booking fee), you get...

* Free Gin! A voucher for your first festival Gin & Tonic
* Your own Copa Glass and Stainless Steel Straw to take home
* Gin Festival book
* Live music and party atmosphere
* Access to 100+ gins
* Rum Bar featuring a selection of premium Rums, plus Prosecco Royales
* Friendly and experienced staff
* Gin Talks from industry experts, and a few samples too
* Classic street food and snacks to purchase separately
* Festival Gin Shop

NEWS: Paloma Faith announces latest album and dates for UK 2021 tour.



Paloma Faith has announced the details of her fifth studio album, Infinite Things out on 13th November via RCA Records. Brand new single ‘Better Than This’ is out now - watch the video here. Also, today Paloma announces a nationwide 26 date tour for September - October 2021 in support of her upcoming album. 
Paloma wrote most of the songs for ‘Infinite Things’ before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world. Then we went into lockdown, and she ripped them all up and started afresh. She spent her downtime creating, learning to engineer her own music and just thinking about the world. The enforced downtime was creatively fruitful and taught her that she had been on a sort of conveyor belt of music and promo. The lockdown gave her the space to take stock of her frenetic career, and decide what is meaningful to her. She is emerging from lockdown with a new sense of her priorities which has seen her reconnect with her roots steeped in creativity.
‘Infinite Things’ saw Paloma work with a small group of long-time and new collaborators including the producers Patrick Wimberlyand Detonate, songwriters Ed Harcourt, Starsmith, Tre Jean Marie alongside the producer and songwriter MNEK and friend Josef Salvat. This record is more than an album about relationships. It’s a rumination on sickness and loss. It’s about finding your way back to romance within a long term relationship. It’s her  most confident record yet from a female artist who’s been in the game for two decades.
Just last week, Paloma released the music video for ‘Better Than This’ which was directed by David Wilson. The visual lays her against a backdrop of vignettes of human error which historically continuously repeat. The video sees her shine a light on prevalent issues including climate emergency, police brutality, race and class divide and the injustices of war. ‘Better Than This’ continues to showcase her evolution as an artist.
2021 will also see Paloma hitting the road again for a huge 26 date UK tour including two nights at London’s iconic Palladium. Tickets for the UK tour go on presale 30th September and general sale on Friday 2nd October at 10am.
This is a new Paloma Faith, an artist who has retreated within herself and found not the careful, polished veteran of show business - but the 22-year-old art student being led by her own creativity.
Catch Paloma live when she embarks on her UK 2021 tour next September.

September 2021
Sept 16th  Oxford, New Theatre
Sept 18th  Glasgow, SEC Armadillo
Sept 19th  Edinburgh, Usher Hall
Sept 21st   Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
Sept 22nd  Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
Sept 24th   Birmingham, Symphony Hall
Sept 25th   Birmingham, Symphony Hall
Sept 27th   Newcastle, O2 City Hall
Sept 28th   Sheffield, City Hall
Sept 30th   Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
October 2021
Oct 1st   Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
Oct 3rd   Harrogate, Convention Centre
Oct 4th   Ipswich, Regent
Oct 6th   Bournemouth, International Centre
Oct 7th   Hull, Bonus Arena
Oct 9th   Stockton, Globe
Oct 10th Stoke-On-Trent, Regent Theatre
Oct 12th Bath, Forum
Oct 13th Torquay, Princess Theatre
Oct 15th  Plymouth, Pavilions
Oct 16th  Brighton, Centre
Oct 18th   Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
Oct 20th   Leicester, De Montfort Hall
Oct 22nd  London, Palladium
Oct 23rd   London, Palladium
Oct 25th   Liverpool, Empire Theatre

Friday, 25 September 2020

NEWS 'Magical' Osprey comes home to roost at Poole's Lighthouse.

Lockdown art commission osprey comes home to roost at Lighthouse

Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, is now home to a beautiful osprey sculpture commissioned as a beacon of hope, an emblem of the impact of lockdown on the community. 

The sculpture, made by WildWire artist Paul Green, is of the osprey CJ7 that was seen worldwide by more than a million viewers during lockdown tuning in to the webcam on her nest overlooking Poole Harbour 

Part of the Birds of Poole Harbour charity’s Osprey Translocation Project to establish a breeding population of the magnificent birds of prey in Poole for the first time in 200 years, after returning to her nest in April CJ7 waited all spring and summer for the return of her mate. He never showed up but helofty vigil captured the hearts and minds of viewers, many of whom were discovering birding for the first time. 

I was one of the thousands of local people for whom CJ7 became a symbol of hope in the darkest days of the lockdown – we were forced to live our lives remotely and somehow her story became our story,” explains Lighthouse Chief Executive Elspeth McBain. 

During lockdown Lighthouse staff kept in touch at weekly Zoom meetings, sharing news and views and swapping notes about cultural highlights. It was in one of those meetings that a colleague shared the work of WildWire artist Paul Green as featured in Grayson Perry’s Art Club on C4. His work was exquisite and prompted Elspeth to find out more.  

“Lighthouse was enormously grateful to receive emergency funding from Arts Council England that was awarded in part to provide work for artists who had lost their income in lockdown. It seemed obvious that Lighthouse should commission Paul to make this sculpture and I am absolutely thrilled – both personally and professionally – with what he has created. Everything about her is magical.” 

The sculpture of CJ7 was made entirely freehand with no measurements. She sits on a piece of driftwood with a grey mullet made of wire for sustenance and now occupies pride of place on a plinth in the foyer at Lighthouse. 

“I have absolutely loved working on CJ7,” says Paul Green, who works as a warden at RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk. “Some sculptures just feel right and this one worked from the very first outline to the final pieces of detail. I am so proud to have my work on show at Lighthouse and hope the people of Poole enjoy it as much as I have. Let’s hope we all see lots more of the real CJ7 as well when she returns next year – I know I’ll be looking out for her online.” 

NEWS: When SIX becomes SEVEN! as Thespie announce "The Reunion", an online live-streaming concert.


Powerhouse vocalists, famed for their West End reign in musical SIX, will reunite live for in-person and at-home audiences, powered by Thespie.

The Reunion brings together seven of the UK’s top vocal powerhouses for an epic evening of empowering pop music in a unique intimate venue.

Performing together for the first time since their reign as the original West End queens of the musical SIX, these women are close friends on stage and off, and have been eager to perform together again. They shared: “We are beyond thrilled and excited to be back together again with our reunion show! and with an actual LIVE audience! We cannot wait to belt out some of our favourite girl power anthems and bring our fans an epic show they will never forget!”

The Reunion stars Aimie AtkinsonAlexia McIntoshGrace MouatJarneia Richard-NoelMaiya Quansah-BreedMillie O’Connell, and Natalie Paris. Each has an Olivier Award nomination, prestigious theatrical and concert credits, and they have been featured on studio recordings, cast albums and concert livestreams spanning musical theatre and pop. 

The live performances and streaming are ticketed and run by theatre platform Thespie which aims to be the most trusted way to discover theatre and the arts. Thespie launched in May as a means to keep people connected to theatre and the arts during lockdown, and now offers more than 1,500 digital streaming listings as well as audio, theatre ebooks, and educational resources, including nearly 400 productions to stream for free. Now that London live indoor theatre performances can safely resume, Thespie has expanded to develop ways to help artists resume working safely in the current conditions.

Commenting on the announcement, Thespie founder Tyler Stoops said: “These incredibly talented artists are the ideal collaborators to deliver a thrilling performance for in-person and at-home audiences simultaneously. So many people are ready to experience incredible shows again and are happy to follow robust, simple-to-follow safety measures, so we’re proud to be solving the operational challenges that can get artists working again.”  

Performances will be held in Oval Space, a spacious and well-ventilated East London venue that has been entirely reimagined for safe, seated music and theatre performances. The seating plan is entirely flexible which allows seating to be customised to the audience that books. Audiences book for themselves and their household or support bubble only (to a maximum of six), and Thespie’s technology determines a seat plan that ensures safe spacing between households and optimises use of the space. Audiences receive their seating assignment and scannable digital ticket prior to the event.

Additional safety measures in place include:

•           Time indoors is minimised using ample outdoor space and the terrace bar, 

•           Scannable digital tickets, with no paper tickets or box office collection, 

•           Seating is by household/support bubble with appropriate distance between each,

•           Masks are required and should be worn whenever feasible,

•           Thorough cleaning of all customer areas between performances,

•           If the performance cannot proceed, purchasers will automatically be refunded. 

The global livestream will take place at 9:30PM BST on Saturday, 10 October and will be available in over 100 countries, with several local currency prices available. Advance purchase of a Household Livestream Pass is £12.50 (or $15 US) if booked before 30 September. One pass entitles the purchaser to view with their entire household live, or on-demand for 72 hours following the initial livestream. Repeat viewing is permitted, but a pass can only be used on a single account and a single device. Livestream Pass prices rise in October to £15 ($18 US). 

Live tickets are £35-£55 and can be booked at https://thespie.com/TheReunion.

Thespie is a comprehensive online resource to help audiences engage with theatre and the performing arts, and helps artists and arts organisations reach new audiences. Artists, producers and arts organisations interested in adding their show listings and theatre streaming to Thespie can learn more at https://thespie.com/submissions.