Tag Archives: open air theatre

The Mix: a bowl full of London theatre buzz #2

Welcome to the second instalment of The Mix, in which I’ll look at some of the things in London theatre which have caught my eye.

A is for Admissions

Poster for Admissions.
Poster for Admissions.

Alex Kingston stars in Joshua Harmon’s new comedy at the Trafalgar Studios, where it runs until 25 May, after which it has a run at Richmond Theatre until 1 Jun.

Described as a “bold new comedy” this both takes a knock at the status quo and, timely enough, reflects some of the corruption going on overseas over fixed university and school places. I will be reporting back from this show soon. For information see
https://trafalgarentertainment.com/shows/admissions/

B is for Bunker and Boulevard

Inside the Bunker Theatre.
Inside the Bunker Theatre.

The Bunker Theatre was converted from an underground car park into an ambitious, artist-led space with two resident companies, Damsel Productions and Pint-Sized. Now in its third season, The Bunker presents an interesting mix of productions in an eclectic space underneath the Menier Chocolate Factory. I’ll be visiting to see Funeral Flowers later in the year.

The Boulevard Theatre has been announced as Soho’s newest playhouse, due to open in autumn 2019. Built on the site of the legendary Raymond’s Revuebar, this vibrant arts venue will host theatre, comedy, cabaret, music, film and literature with a seated capacity of 165.

C is for the Canal Cafe

Inside the Canal Cafe Theatre.
Inside the Canal Cafe Theatre.

The Canal Cafe Theatre celebrates its 40th birthday this year. Based on the edge of the Regent’s Canal, above the Bridge House Pub, the 60 seat theatre (arranged as table seating) presents comedy and drama, and helped to launch acts such as Miranda Hart and the League of Gentlemen. It is the home of the NewsRevue, the world’s longest running comedy show.

D is for Dog (Curious Incident)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

Currently running at the Piccadilly Theatre until 27 April 2019, this National Theatre revival has a relaxed performance on the 6 April. Based on the book by Mark Haddon, this quirky show focuses on 15 year old Christopher, an exceptional boy who experiences the world in quite a different way to the norm. With five-star reviews, I’m looking forward to seeing this next month. For more information go to
https://thepiccadillytheatre.com/show/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/piccadilly-theatre

E is for Etiquette

via Excite.com

Mobile phones, takeaways, sing-alongs, photography, heckling, late comers, drunk audience members, coughing, noisy sweet wrappers, putting drinks or bags or yourself on the stage, you name it. It’s a tough old world out there and theatre is a nice escape for many of us, so if you’re guilty of any of the items in the list: just stop!

A few things you may want to bear in mind if you want to be a model audience member – put your phone away (switched off) during the performance, keep your singing in your own head, don’t snap pics, don’t interrupt or talk, don’t stagger in late, don’t stagger in drunk, suck a cough sweet and sip on a bottle of water (or if you’re coughing badly, stay at home in bed), bring loose sweets only, respect the performers’ space even if it is just literally that rather than a conventional stage.

Simple, isn’t it?

F is for Frozen

Frozen - the Broadway production.
Frozen – the Broadway production.

If you’d been on the Theatre Royal Drury Lane backstage tours last year just before the theatre closed for renevation, you will have known that Frozen was set to be the first new show on re-opening in autumn 2020, but it is now official, and you can sign up for information and pre-sale of tickets. No news yet on whether any of the Broadway cast will transfer with the show but you can read the rave review of the New York production at
https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/reviews/review-of-disneys-frozen-on-broadway

The film of Frozen is the highest grossing animated film of all time, and the stage production, directed by Michael Grandage, has already won a Tony Award nomination for best new musical. The Drury Lane production will feature set and costume design by Christoper Oram, lighting design by Natasha Katz, choreography by Rob Ashford.

G is for Groan Ups

Poster for Groan Ups.
Poster for Groan Ups.

Mischief Theatre (The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery) have announced their new show, set to open at the Vaudeville Theatre in September 2019. Groan Ups is a brand-new comedy about growing-up, asking whether we are really that different at 30 than at 13, this is being pitched as “a lesson not to be skipped”.

For more information go to
https://mischieftheatre.co.uk/shows/groan-ups .

H is for Hope Mill and The Hope

Pippin, which transferred from Hope Mill to the Southwark Playhouse.

The Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester is proving to be a rich source of musicals transferring into the capital, with Pippin, Aspects of Love, Yank, and Hair.

Based in Ancoats, the company is a joint venture for creative couple William Wheldon and Joseph Houston, and producer Katy Lipson. Together they are Hope Aria and their current musical project is Rags.

Find out more about the theatre and its shows at
https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/

Over at the Hope Theatre in Islington, a new production is underway. Thrill Me: the Leopold and Loeb Story centres on the murder popularised in the Hitchcock film Rope, this time made into a musical by Stephen Dolginoff. The show runs from 2-20 April. More information at
http://www.thehopetheatre.com/

I is for the Iris Theatre

Summer productions at the Iris Theatre

The Iris Theatre is one of London’s award winning theatre companies, performing each summer in the grounds of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden (known as the ‘Actors Church’).

This year’s summer season runs from 19 June-1 Sept and comprises Hamlet and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If the classics don’t appeal, try a ticket for a new musical Parenthood runs on the 3 May or Cleopatra runs on the 11 May.

For more about the company and its shows go to
https://iristheatre.com/

J is for the Jazz Cafe

Interior of the Jazz Cafe in Camden

Approaching its 30th anniversary in a former Barclays Bank branch in Camden, this ecletic nightspot offers a wide range of music and dance events. For listings and information visit
https://thejazzcafelondon.com/

K is for Katzpace

Inside Katzpace

Katzpace is a new 50 seat theatre based at London Bridge, under the German Bierkeller. Billed as “London’s coolest theatre” it showcases theatre and comedy with an edgy and intelligent feel, hosting scratch nights, queer theatre, improv and more.

At the start of April it becomes on of the venues for the 2019 London Pub Theatre Festival. Its resident theatre company, Exploding Whale Theatre, is made up of recent graduates. Keep an eye on the venue and its work at
https://www.katzpace.co.uk/whats-on

L is for LIVR

Shot from LIVR, used by permission.

LIVR merges live performance, streaming and virtual reality to provide access to theatrical experiences via a mobile phone and a headset. It is the first VR platform dedicated to theatre, to offer “the best seat in the house without leaving the house”.

With a monthly subscription and a growing library of content, this may revolutionise how we access our theatre spaces and productions. I hope to offer a full feature on how this works later in the year.

For more information see https://livr.co.uk/faq and remember it is “LIVR like Fiver”.

M is for Maggie May

Publicity image for Maggie May
Publicity image for Maggie May

Over at the Finborough Theatre, musical Maggie May is enjoying a revival in its first London production in half a century. Lionel Bart’s show is a hard-hitting celebration of working-class life on Merseyside and runs to the 20 April. It also commemerates the 20th anniversary of Bart’s death.

For more information go to
https://finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2019/maggie-may.php

N is for National Theatre

National Theatre
National Theatre

The National has announced its new season and it is entirely made up of male playwrights, which is a little disappointing. However, I will be attending to see Hansard, featuring Alex Jennings and Lindsay Duncan, and I am intrigued by their new musical show for children and the young at heart, Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.

Find out more at https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/your-visit/season-page

O is for Open Air Theatre

Open Air Theatre, Regents Park
Open Air Theatre, Regents Park

The Open Air Theatre in Regents Park is often a martyr to the English weather, but unfailingly presents a summer season to shout about. This year the American perennial Our Town goes shoulder to shoulder with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while musical and opera fans are served by revivals of Evita and the ENO’s Hansel and Gretel.

For more information go to https://openairtheatre.com/whats-on

P is for Pub theatres

Theatre 503 at The Latchmere, Battersea
Theatre 503 at The Latchmere, Battersea

London is chock-full of pub theatres, intimate and exciting spaces which generate new work and give a sideways slant on old favourites. They often have left-field or evocative names – The Hen and Chickens, Etcetera, Tabard, Katzpace, Bread and Roses. They may be small, but they are an essential part of London’s theatreland.

I’ll be visiting the King’s Head later in the year, and hope to experience some more of these very special venues in the future. To find out more about some of this quirky spaces, go to https://londonist.com/london/on-stage/london-s-pub-theatres-mapped

Q is for Queer

via Female Arts
via Female Arts

London’s theatreland is a safe and energising space for LGBTQ+ shows, with venues such as Above the Stag, the King’s Head, Soho Theatre, Hackney Showroom, Arcola Theatre, Park Theatre, The Glory, The Yard, Camden People’s Theatre, and more showcasing new writing, queer seasons, or even entire programming with the rainbow flag prominently in focus, the metropolis can certainly hold its head up with pride.

R is for the Rose

Inside the Rose Theatre
Inside the Rose Theatre, Kingston

The Rose Theatre in Kingston upon Thames celebrated its tenth birthday last year and shows no signs of slowing down. As well as some excellent upcoming shows including Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and The Snow Queen, the theatre now has an Emerging Artists Fellowship in honour of its founder, Sir Peter Hall.

There is also a second Rose in London, the Rose Playhouse on Bankside. Billed as “Bankside’s first Tudor theatre”, this was the site of the Save The Rose campaign in 1989, and what has since been uncovered enjoys English Heritage Scheduled Monument status. Events taken place regularly, and there is a 30th anniversary gala planned in May. The Rose is still in desperate need of support – visit http://www.roseplayhouse.org.uk/experience/events/ to find out more.

S is for Shapeshifting

Cillian Murphy in Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Photo credit Colm Hogan.
Cillian Murphy in Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Photo credit Colm Hogan.

If you move quickly and get across to the Barbican Centre you can catch Cillian Murphy’s astonishingly physical and visceral performance as the Crow in Grief is the Thing With Feathers, which runs until 13 April. It’s sold out, but returns might be available on the day.

T is for Tributes

Philip Bretherton in Tony's Last Tape
Philip Bretherton in Tony’s Last Tape

Over in Clapham rehearsals are underway for Tony’s Last Tape, a transfer from Nottingham in which Philip Bretherton plays Tony Benn, at the Omnibus Theatre. Presented by Excavate, this is based on the diaries of one of Britain’s seminal and most divisive politicians, and is accompanied by an exhibition – Tracey Moberley’s audio diaries of Tony Benn.

The show runs from the 2-20 April and I will be reporting back on it soon. Find out more at https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/tonys-last-tape/

U is for Underbelly

The Underbelly Festival
The Underbelly Festival

It’s British Summer Time so it must be time for return of the Underbelly Festival at the South Bank. Running from 5 April-29 September 2019, you can enjoy family-focused shows, comedy, cabaret, and the circus across 31 seperate shows. Now in its 11th year, there is also a large outdoor bar, street food, and a truly festival atmosphere with shows which are short (less than an hour), cheap (less than £20), and cheerful.

V is for Violet and Vincent River

Poster for Vincent River
Poster for Vincent River

Two shows to highlight this month.

At the Charing Cross, Jeanine Tesori’s musical Violet continues until the 6 April. This award-winning tearjerker set on a greyhound bus and its environs benefits from an excellent set and some very good performances.

Meanwhile, over at the Trafalgar Studios 2, Vincent River is a one-act play focusing on hate crime in Dagenham. It previously ran at the Hampstead Theatre in 200, and in the West End in 2007. It plays from the 16 May-22 June.

W is for Wembley and White City

Artist impression of the new Troubadour Theatre in Wembley
Artist impression of the new Troubadour Theatre in Wembley

New theatres are always worth celebration, and the first of two promised Troubadour Theatres opens in June, at Wembley Park, on the site of the former Fountain Studios. The inaugural productions are Dinosaur World Live and a stop-off for the tour of War Horse. The second Troubadour is due to open in White City, on former BBC Media Village land, later in the year, with two flexible spaces of 1,200 and 800 seats respectively. For more information see https://www.troubadourtheatres.com/

X is for King’s Cross (X)

Platform Theatre
Platform Theatre

In the vicinity of King’s Cross Station are a variety of fine performance spaces.

The Shaw Theatre is situated next to the British Library and has a programme of dance, musical theatre, drama and talks. They have recently made their My Fair Lady rehearsal space available for hire.

The Platform Theatre on Handyside St is part of Central St Martins at the University of the Arts and comprises four performance spaces and a bar.

King’s Place on York Way is described as ‘a hub for music, art, dialogue and food’.

Y is for the Yard

Inside the Yard Theatre
Inside the Yard Theatre

The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick aims to make “theatre about our world, today”. Around the corner from Hackney Wick Station in Queen’s Yard, this fully accessible space also boasts a bar and kitchen. Their current production, running to the 11 May, is a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which for the first time has a female actor playing John Proctor. I’ll be reporting back from this show in April – for information and booking go to https://theyardtheatre.co.uk/theatre/events/the-crucible/

Z is for Z Hotels

Z Hotel Soho

Finally, if all the excitement leads you to want a place to lay your weary head, try the compact rooms of one of London’s Z hotels. With eight to choose from across the capital, and two more coming soon, this could be an affordable option for those of you travelling for your theatre fix.


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