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Lauderdale House on Highgate Hill has a built reputation for quality, with regular cabaret seasons showcasing the talents of some of the best performers in musical theatre. Constructed in 1582, the venue’s primary function is as an arts and education centre attended by over 65,000 visitors each year. The grounds provide a wonderfully atmospheric setting for two productions this August, The Wind In The Willows and Much Ado About Nothing, both presented by Shooting Stars Theatre Company.
Directed by Helen Crosse and presented on the tea lawn, Much Ado features a sprightly and hugely energetic cast of twelve who inject passion and zest into the work, which has been updated to recent times. With drunken soldiers in modern combats singing Jerusalem, an alcohol-laden beach party and the outdoor summer feel, the traditional setting of Sicily could just as easily be applied to Cyprus or any other ’Brits abroad’ holiday island destination. There is a real feeling that each of the characters are there to have a good time.
The two couples are well cast and evenly balanced. Tabitha Becker-Kahn sets the standard as Beatrice and is great value, never flagging for a single moment. Beatrice is always a great role to play and here, Crosse has allowed Becker-Kahn the freedom to make the part her own, injecting a degree of enthusiasm that lifts the entire production. Her on-off partner, Michael Totton as the testosterone-laden, lifelong bachelor Benedick is a good match, their respective eavesdropping scenes being a highlight; the agile Totton uses the audience as good cover in an amusingly camp display and seems to be everywhere at once, while Becker-Kahn delights by borrowing hats and scarves to gain disguise.
Joe Sargent’s Claudio is truly ‘one of the boys’ and would be totally at home in any army barracks, there is a lot of male-bonding here! It’s no wonder that he falls for Hero (Emily Grace-Hyland), with her sugar-sweet looks and gorgeous curls. Their first wedding scene is particularly well delivered, both parties giving passionate performances.
As the sun sets over the trees of Waterlow Park and a clear blue sky with not a building in view, it’s easy to imagine you’re anywhere but London. This delightful venue, with the players performing on the lawn in front of you, easily takes you to realms beyond the capital. The occasional aeroplane overhead induces thought to pastures beyond the horizon, providing a perfect backdrop to the story as it evolves, transporting you to far-away places, maybe even to the port of Messina.
Both productions are suitable for all ages but with short runs for each, there is only limited opportunity to enjoy their unique experience this summer. Tickets are still available, make the effort, bring a rug and picnic if you wish or there is outdoor seating available should you prefer. I’d not been before but I’m already looking forward to returning.
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By Gareth Richardson
Much Ado About Nothing - 22nd to 26th August, 7pm, £12
Wind In The Willows - 26th & 27th August, 2.30pm, £6.50
Lauderdale House, London, N6. (nearest tube Archway)
Following a successful and sold-out run at the Finborough Theatre, reviewed previously for Bargain Theatre by Jamie Read, the laughs now continue at Trafalgar Studios 2 in the West End.
Tom Bennett plays the engaging role of Arthur to great effect, blending subtlety and charm perfectly. Boyfriend to Florence Hall’s Olivia, he finds the world a far too busy place for personal taste, longing for a more peaceful and tranquil life among the ducks. The simplicity of his character is nicely captured by Bennett, leaving no doubt that Arthur is well-educated, despite questing the simplicity of a rural existence under the stars, with no cares. Olivia meanwhile is level-headed, pushy and the obvious dominant force in his life. She gets things done and is not the sort to suffer fools.
An everyday stroll in the park becomes a life-changing experience with an unlikely and absurd scenario of a country redefining it’s borders through the centre of a bench upon which the couple are resting. The line, created and defended by Reiver the guard, leaves the lovers one either side and becomes the source for a host of amusing one-liners. The hilarity is tempered with concern, outrage and frustration as their predicament sinks in. Marc Pickering plays the jobsworth guard in exaggerated form, clearly in answer to the comedic demands of the script. It is Tom Bennett however who seems to secure the most laughs with his deadpan delivery, animated facial expressions and matter-of-fact resignation to evolving events.
The situation forces the pair to examine their relationship, challenge their dependency and re-evaluate their future prospects. The hapless and previously unlucky in love Reiver is all too keen to step into the shoes vacated by Arthur, should he get the opportunity. He stands no chance, she would spit him out for breakfast without thinking twice.
With a running time of eighty minutes without an interval, the play is perhaps a bit stretched. It started life in shorter form and has thus been extended to its current format. The writing is funny and well delivered by the cast of three but does level-out mid-way. Becoming conscripted into a new army introduces a fresh sense of power for Arthur and so gives author Kieran Lynn a welcomed opportunity to introduce further merriment toward the conclusion. This is not ground-breaking stuff, boundaries aren’t broken and the only line that’s eventually crossed is the one drawn down the middle of the stage. However, I doubt it’s intended to make you stop and think, to ponder or question, it’s simply supposed to make you laugh and on that level it succeeds.
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By Gareth Richardson
20th August - 15th September 2012
Trafalgar Studios 2, London, SW1.
Reviewing plays at the Finborough has been a highlight this year for me and after a run of such stunning plays as The Drawer Boy and Events Whilst Guarding the Bofors Gun I have started to approach pieces here wondering if they can keep their standards so high. I need not have worried as Cornelius just serves to confirm the Finborough’s place amongst those powerhouses of theatre who punch considerably above their weight time and time again.
Written by J.B. Priestley in 1935 Cornelius needs to be given it’s full title of Cornelius. A business affair in three transactions…as that is precisely what it is. Originally written for the great actor Ralph Richardson and produced here for the first time in more than 70 years.
The setting is small, failing, metal importers “Briggs & Murrison” in Holborn struggling to make ends meet and fend off the assorted ranks of creditors, including their previously supportive bank manager. Whilst a senior partner is off in the wilds of the North attempting to drum up business, the staff led by the pressured Mr Cornelius, played deftly by Alan Cox, banter with each other all the while trying to remain guarded about their own deep seated insecurities.
The staff members have their world shaken to the core by the arrival of Judy Evison, charmingly played by Emily Barber, who shows them all the possibility of living a life rather than just struggling to exist. One by one they have to deal with their own reality and determine their own escape from what they regard as being trapped. Some are trapped by habit or lack of promotion, some by unrequited love and others by a strong sense of duty. The office is certainly reminiscent of one that I used to work in many years ago and captures the banter between work colleagues perfectly.
Something else that is perfect is the casting. I have rarely seen a play where every single actor is flawlessly cast but here it is a delight to see. All of the cast are uniformly good, from David Ellis as the teenage Lawrence stomping around in a huff, to Beverly Klein as the battle axe of a cleaner.
I won’t give away the plot here, but I will say that the first half is incredibly funny and had me, and most of the audience, frequently laughing out loud. The return of the travelling partner signals a shift in tone and the play takes on a decidedly darker hue for the second half. This is essentially a play about hope and more particularly hope in the face of adversity. Yes it’s a period piece but the message is clear even to a modern audience, that we have the strength to shake off even the most horrid of events which come our way and deserve to live our lives to the full.
To my suprise, only ever having once seen a J.B. Priestley play on stage and that being a poor, clunky, dated production, Cornelius is a fast paced, powerful and touching play that veers from high comedy to high drama seemlessly.
So if you find yourself with an urge to see a well written, acted, directed and brilliantly cast period piece which still holds sway with today’s ever hardening economy you should see Cornelius and remember that perhaps things were not always better in bygone times.
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By Colin Appleby
14th August - 8th September 2012
Finborough Theatre, London, SW10.
TICKETS FOR A TENNER - Over 50 theatre productions with tickets for £10 or less http://bit.ly/PZkzuc *includes Globe Theatre, West End & Michael Grandage season.
London Theatre breaks - See links toward the end of the Directory
KIDS WEEK - Free child ticket with each adult seat + no fees at loads of West End shows! http://bit.ly/K69uPO *1st-31st August
Now to the Deals Directory…musicals first, followed by plays, miscellaneous theatre bargains, accommodation & info to finish.
Note: Extra 5% off ALL theatre bookings for any date, on bookings made until 31st Aug via discount site Theatre Tickets Direct http://bit.ly/L9B1mb *Use code EURO2012
BILLY ELLIOT - Top price seats £35, 2nd price £25 (was £62.50/£47.50) Mon-Fri til 31st August http://bit.ly/MGjhRK West End
BILLY ELLIOT - Top price seats £44 (was £57.50) Mon-Fri until 9th Sept http://bit.ly/zV9TDT *Victoria Palace Theatre, West End
BLOOD BROTHERS - Top price seat £26 (was £57.50) Mon-Thu til 23rd Oct http://tidd.ly/eeee8dac *Phoenix Theatre, West End
BLOOD BROTHERS - Best available seats £26 Mon-Thu, £30.50 Fri eves + Sat matinees, til 23rd Oct http://bit.ly/GDZ1em *Phoenix Theatre, West End
BLOOD BROTHERS - Best available price seats £27.50 (was £57.50) Mon-Thu eves, £29.50 Fri eves & Sat mats, £39.50 Sat eves, til 20th Oct http://bit.ly/FPvuh3 *Phoenix Theatre, West End
BLOOD BROTHERS - Top price seat (was £57.50) + free 2 course meal, all for £29. Mon-Sat until 19th Oct http://bit.ly/PxFAoV *Phoenix Theatre, West End
BLOOD BROTHERS - Best available stalls/dress seats £29.50 (was up to £57.50) Mon-Thu til 18th Oct + £39.50 Sats http://bit.ly/Nrgn4g *West End
CHICAGO - Top price seats £32.50 (was £66) at all performances until 24th Aug http://bit.ly/NZUDcp *Garrick Theatre, West End
CHICAGO - Top price seats £35 Fridays at 5pm (was £66) & £39.50 other performances until 1st Sept (not Sat eves) http://bit.ly/w3u9tM *Garrick Theatre West End
CHIGAGO - Top price seats £39.50 (was £66) Mon-Fri eves + Sat 3pm http://bit.ly/MrkNoF *Garrick Theatre, West End - other seats from £15
CHIGAGO - Top price seats £39.99 (was £66) Mon-Fri eves & Sat matinees til 1st Sept http://bit.ly/I6kjV6 *Garrick Theatre, West End
GHOST - Top price seats £38.50 (was £65) Mon-Fri until 8th Sept http://bit.ly/xYdVyK *Piccadilly Theatre, West End. Other seats from £20.12
GHOST - Top price seats £39.50 (was £65) Mon-Fri til 5th Oct http://bit.ly/KMX69B Piccadilly Theatre, West End
GHOST - Top price seats £40 (was £65) Mon-Fri until 31st Aug http://bit.ly/Mwlc7L *Piccadilly Theatre, West End
GHOST - Top price seats £43.50 (was £65) Mon-Thu til 6th Sept & £49.50 most other performances til 5th Oct http://bit.ly/HHOyAs *Piccadilly Theatre, West End
JERSEY BOYS - Top price seats £35 + no fee (was £67) Tue-Fri + Sundays til 2nd Sept http://bit.ly/OsQAs0 West End. Use code JERSEYZOO
JERSEY BOYS - Top price seats £39.50 (was £65) Tue-Thu til 30th Sept http://bit.ly/MPleqK *Prince Edward Theatre, West End. £49.50 Fri & Sun
JERSEY BOYS - Top price seats £41 (was £65) on selected Tue-Sun dates til 30th Sept http://www.londontheatrebookings.com/show/jersey-boys/ Prince Edward Theatre, West End
KISS ME KATE - Top price seat (was £55) + free drink & programme - all for £37.50 for @whatsonstage members http://bit.ly/N1MD8I on 26th Nov
LES MISERABLES - No known discount deals, buy in person from Queens Theatre box office to avoid booking fees. If you know of an offer, please tell us and we will list it here.
THE LION KING - Free ZSL London Zoo entry pass with £60 top price & £42.50 3rd price seats + no booking fee http://bit.ly/NBoBaa *Tue-Fri, 4th-28th Sept
LONDON ROAD - Top price seats £20 (was £32) at selected performances until 29th Aug http://gu.com/p/39h4e/tf National Theatre SE1 (sign-up deal)
LONDON ROAD - Top price seats £25 (was £32) all performances in August including Saturday eves http://bit.ly/O0nTDu *National Theatre SE1
MAMMA MIA - Top price stalls seats £39.50 + no fee (was £64) Mon-Fri from 6th Sept to 19th Oct http://bit.ly/QXyvTY *West End
MAMMA MIA - Top price seat £64 + free 2 course meal at choice of 9 restaurants Mon-Thu til 30th Aug http://bit.ly/RuTQTb *West End
MATILDA - No current deals, avoid booking fees by purchasing in advance, in person from the Cambridge Theatre box office or tickets available from 12th Sept onward at fair prices here http://bit.ly/SuqmoY *West End
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE - Top price seats £15 (was £27.50) 26th-30th Sept http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk/2823/shows/the-pirates-of-penzance.html … … Book by 31st Aug. Use code EARLY BIRD PIRATES
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Top price seats £49.50 (was £65) Mon-Fri eves + Sat matinees til 8th Sept http://bit.ly/KDEg7p *West End
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Top price seats £51 (was £65) Mon-Thu til 20th Dec http://bit.ly/y6JVNB *Her Majesty’s Theatre, West End
RAGTIME - Band A (top price) and Band B seats half price, now £21.25 & £18.75 Mon-Fri + Sat mats til 29th Aug http://bit.ly/NYtP0i *Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
RENT - Best available seats £10 on 5th & 6th Sept http://bit.ly/MVeJJ1 *Greenwich Theatre. £20 at other performances
ROCK OF AGES - Top price seats £15 for TheatreFix members (anyone aged 16-25 can become a member for free) http://www.theatrefix.co.uk/offers/ *West End
ROCK OF AGES -Top price seats £34.50 (was £65) Tue-Fri til 9th Sept & £44.88 on Sundays Sundays http://bit.ly/yLUvN3 *Shaftesbury Theatre, West End
ROCK OF AGES - Top price seats £35 (was £65) Tue-Fri eves + Sun matinees til 30th Aug http://tidd.ly/6e16df47 *Shaftesbury Theatre, West End
ROCK OF AGES - Top price seats £39 (was £65) on Sundays and £43 Tue-Sat til 9th Sept http://bit.ly/mvHGWe Shaftesbury Theatre, West End
SHREK - Top price seats £44.88 (was £65) all performances til 30th Sept. Other discounted seats from £19.99* http://bit.ly/J9horA West End
SHREK - Top price seats £47 (was £65) Mon, Weds & Thurs until 27th Sept http://bit.ly/KEEnus *West End
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN - Top price seats £39.50 (was £60) all performancest until 1st Sept http://bit.ly/PehWSi West End. Book by 17th August.
SPAMALOT - Top price seats now £27.50 (was £55) at all performances til 31st August http://bit.ly/T1dtD7 *West End
SPAMALOT - Top price seats £32.99 (was £55) at all performances except Sat eves & Sun matinees until 8th Sept http://bit.ly/NgN6p6 *Harold Pinter Theatre, West End
STOMP - Top price seats £26 (was £49.50) Mon-Thurs until 15th Dec, £30 Fri & Sat http://bit.ly/zroj6n *Ambassadors Theatre, West End
STOMP - Top price seats £27 (was £49.50) Mon-Thu til 15th Dec, £30.50 Fri & Sat http://bit.ly/z5ho5x *Not school holidays. Ambassadors Theatre, West End
STOMP - Best available seats £28 at most performances (not Sat eves) til 15th Dec 2012 http://bit.ly/tyRxOk *Ambassadors Theatre, West End
SWEENEY TODD - Top price seats £33.75 (was £67.50) Mon-Fri til 14th Sept http://bit.ly/LxatuT *Adelphi, West End. Other seats £25. Book by 20th Aug 10am.
SWEENEY TODD - Top price seats £37 (was £67.50) Mon-Fri until 14th Sept http://bit.ly/LjD4ru *West End
SWEENEY TODD - Top price seats £39.50 (was £67.50) Mon-Fri until 14th Sept* http://bit.ly/IFPR1n West End
SWEENEY TODD - Top price seats £40 Selected dates this week (was £67.50) http://bit.ly/Iie9Al Note: Limited availability
SWEENEY TODD - Top price seats £42.50 (was £67.50) & upper circle £29.99 Mon-Fri until 14th Sept http://bit.ly/IK3rV3 *Adelphi Theatre, West End
SWEENEY TODD - Best available top price stalls/dress seats £47.50 + no fee (was £67.50+) Mon-Thu til 20th Sept http://bit.ly/HzHPo6 *Adelphi, West End
THRILLER LIVE - Top price seats £29.45 (was £59.50) all performances til 10th Sept (£36.50 Sat mats) http://bit.ly/JWzguq *Lyric, West End
THRILLER LIVE - Best available seats £34.50 at all performances (not Sats) until 21st Oct http://bit.ly/t33ioe *Lyric Theatre, West End.
TOP HAT - No known offers currently available for this show. Buy direct from the Aldwych Theatre box office to avoid booking fees. If you know of a deal, please let us know & we will include it here.
VIVA FOREVER - Top price seat £37.50 (was £67.50) for @whatsonstage members http://bit.ly/NSH3u4 Club night on 11th Feb. Piccadilly Theatre
WE WILL ROCK YOU - Top price seats £31 (was £62) Mon-Fri eves & Sat mats til 22nd Oct http://bit.ly/K8sDor *Dominion Theatre, West End
WE WILL ROCK YOU - Top price seats £37.50 + no fees (was £62) Mon-Thurs til 20th Oct http://bit.ly/ti3WkB *(also, £38.50 Fridays) West End
WE WILL ROCK YOU - Top price seats £37.50 (was £62) + most other seats reduced, Mon-Fri eves until 19th Oct http://bit.ly/HAqZpo *Dominion Theatre, West End
WICKED - No current deals known, buy direct & in person from the Apollo Victoria Theatre box office to avoid booking fees.
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Top price seats just £20 (was £65) on 15,16,21,22 & 23rd Aug http://bit.ly/NlTUGX London Palladium, West End
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Top price seats £32.50 (was £65) Tue-Fri performances until 24th August http://bit.ly/JetSBb *Palladium, West End
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Best available top price seats £39.99 (was £65) Tue-Fri eves til 30th Aug (£49.99 Sat & Sun) http://bit.ly/z02AY5 *West End + Upper circle £13.99
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Top price seats £39.99 (was £65) Tue-Fri eves til 30th Aug http://tidd.ly/53c97624 *West End
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Top price seats £45 (was £65) at most performances (Tue-Sun) til 30th Aug http://bit.ly/H2JEff *London Palladium West End
ABIGAIL’S PARTY - Top price seats £24.50 (was £49.50) Mon-Fri til 31st Aug (£30 at Sat matinees) http://bit.ly/LqfyrE *Other seats £10/15/20
ABIGAIL’S PARTY - Top price seats £29.50 (was £49.50) upper circle £19.50 & balcony £10 at all performances until 31st Aug http://bit.ly/KFKap2 *West End
ABIGAIL’S PARTY - Top price seats £32 (was £49.50) all dates (not Sat eves) til 25th Aug http://bit.ly/Lrtn3c *Garrick Theatre, West End. Other seats £12/£21.50
CHARIOTS OF FIRE - Best available seats £39.50 + no fee (was up to £55) til 7th Sept http://bit.ly/Pxn2tt *West End. Upper circle £15 + no fee.
CHARIOTS OF FIRE - Top price seats £46.50 (was £55) Mon-Fri + Sat matinees until 29th Sept* http://bit.ly/II53gL Gielgud, West End
HEDDA GABLER - Top price seats £35 (was £45) All performances 5th-11th Sept http://bit.ly/S493sR *Old Vic SE1, preview offer
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT - Top price seats £29.50 Mon-Thu & £33.50 Fri & Sat (was £53.50) til 18th Aug http://bit.ly/R3AcgU *Apollo Theatre, West End
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT - Top price stalls/dress seats £34.50 (was £53.50) Mon-Sat til 18th Aug http://bit.ly/JOWWC9 *Others from £18
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS - Top price seats £46 (was £56) Mon-Thu til 29th Aug. Other seats from £12 http://bit.ly/ydtlOP *Theatre Royal Haymarket West End
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS - Top price seats £46 (was £56) & gallery seats £12 Mon-Thu til 29th Aug http://bit.ly/L9MHU6 *TR Haymarket, West End
THE 39 STEPS - Best available seats just £10 (was up to £47.50) Weds matinees til 8th Sept http://bit.ly/MvSUt6 *Criterion, West End
THE 39 STEPS - Top price seats £23.75 (was £47.50) Mon-Fri until 31st Aug. Criterion, West End. Call 0844 847 1778 quote THEATRELAND OFFER
THE 39 STEPS - Top price stalls/dress seats £27.38 (was £47.50) Mon-Fri eves until 28th Sept http://tidd.ly/55d85206 *Criterion Theatre West End
THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA - £26-£38 seats reduced to £20 at selected performances (not matinees) http://bit.ly/QAmsOr Natonal SE1. Use code p6245
THE MOUSETRAP - This show never discounts its prices (and in its sixtieth year who can blame them!), therefore no offers are available. For best price + to avoid booking fees, buy direct & in person at the St. Martins Theatre box office.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK - Best available seats £25 (was £45) Tue-Thu eves & £27.50 Fri/Sat until 17th Dec http://bit.ly/LqlalV *West End. Other seats from £12.25
THE WOMAN IN BLACK - Top price seats £27.50 or £29 (was £45) most performances til 14th Dec http://bit.ly/H03kTc *Fortune Theatre, West End
THE WOMAN IN BLACK - Top price seats £29 (was £45) all dates til 14th Dec http://bit.ly/JPTy8Q *Fortune Theatre, West End. Other seats £19.50
THE WOMAN IN BLACK -Top price seats £29.90 Mon-Thu, £35 Fri/Sat (was £45/£48) til 15th Dec http://bit.ly/w8yqv2 *Fortune Theatre West End
VOLCANO -Top price seats £23.75 (was £47.50) all performances til 10th Sept http://bit.ly/ODYbBt *Vaudeville Theatre, West End
WAR HORSE - No current deals, avoid booking fees by purchasing in advance of the day, in person from the New London Theatre box office - or tickets available for dates from August onward at face value plus booking fee at reputable sites: Last Minute http://bit.ly/HcZgS6 Love Theatre http://bit.ly/Pf4KfY Theatre People http://bit.ly/Op0MTQ London Theatre Direct http://bit.ly/NcMFfc UK Tickets http://bit.ly/NlRZ5j
YES PRIME MINISTER - Top price seats £23.35 (was £46.50) Mon-Fri eve+Sat mats til 22nd Sept http://bit.ly/Sv74QC *West End.
YES PRIME MINISTER - Top price seats £35 (was £46.50) Mon-Fri + Sat matinees til 31st Aug http://bit.ly/L2L8ck *Trafalgar Studios 1, West End
YES PRIME MINISTER - Top price seats £37 (was £46.50) at all performances til 31st Aug http://bit.ly/MjM4GP *Trafalgar Studios 1, West End
YES PRIME MINISTER - Top price seats £38.50 (was £46.50) Mon-Fri eves & Sat mats til 31st August http://bit.ly/OaMQ00 *Trafalgar Studios 1, West End
FASCINATING AIDA: CHEAP FLIGHTS - £12 ticket deal 3rd-27th Sept at E4 Underbelly http://bit.ly/Qdaudb Use code TMDEAL
LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT - Best available seats offer for £10. Most dates 13th-26th August http://bit.ly/MNd1nV *Menier Chocolate Factory SE1
LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT - Top price seat + free cocktail £15 + no fee, most dates til 26th Aug http://bit.ly/MUe5vT *Menier Chocolate Factory SE1
NAKED BOYS SINGING - £10 seats (was £15) Fri & Sat eves until 24th Nov http://bit.ly/OuZCQu *Charing Cross Theatre, London. Adult content
PAUL MERTON - Top price seats £21 Mon-Wed & £31 Thurs (was £36) from 1st to 17th Oct http://bit.ly/KOMGrT *West End. Book by 31st Aug
THE HURLY BURLY SHOW - Top price seats £24.75 (was £49.50) at all performances til 18th Aug http://bit.ly/MkKrLI *Duchess Theatre, West End
THE ROYAL FAMILY OF STRANGE PEOPLE - £12 ticket deal, 10th-26th Aug, E4 Underbelly http://bit.ly/Qdaudb *Use code TMDEAL
WHATSONSTAGE Annual membership - £20 (was £40) with free Rock Of Ages ticket + discounts etc http://bit.ly/OCr0QX *Deadline extended
NOTE: Some of the offers in the Directory may not be valid during school holidays and all are subject to availability.
BARGAIN FERRET - If you need help looking for a theatre deal, tweet me the name of the show and your dates & I’ll try and find you a selection of offers.
Folks, consider being an @ATGtheatres Friend http://www.atgtickets.com/theatrecard/ £30 for access to good theatre deals all year round etc & no booking fees
Aged 19-23? Register to see great theatre for only £10 or less via TheatreFix/Mousetrap Theatre Projects http://www.theatrefix.co.uk/offers/ Wow, bargain!
£5 tickets to every performance at the National Theatre for anyone aged 16-25 http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/entrypass wow!
Discounted tickets many West End shows when booking from a choice of London accommodation at TicketTree here* http://bit.ly/IT1Iuf
Current offers include
Chariots Of Fire
Phantom Of The Opera
Singin’ In The Rain
The 39 Steps
The Lion King
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
The Wizard Of Oz
The Woman In Black
We Will Rock You
Additionally, try Theatre Tickets Direct for ticket + hotel deals* http://bit.ly/IO2BrG
Alternatively, *show ticket + hotel packages, plus optional rail tickets http://bit.ly/xmvl9w with Show and Stay
Please note that some of the links (generally identified by *) do now result in us receiving a nominal commission, rest assured that there is never any extra cost to you. The amounts are generally very small but it does help us to keep this service free and to pay for the occasional extra theatre ticket in order that we can bring you more reviews on the blog. The Directory includes all decent deals we find, irrespective of whether they are commission bearing or not.
Tweeps, if you’ve saved money via any the offers, please consider making a small donation to Wiltons Music Hall restoration fund. Thanks!
Thanks to all who’ve sent me details of theatre deals recently, very much appreciated :-)
All the deals listed here were available when I originally tweeted them, please check yourself though!
Wow, approaching 3.500 followers now :-) Welcome to anyone who joined us recently and thanks to everyone else too!
Don’t forget our Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/BargainTheatre2010 page by @BargainTheatre & @BenVivianJones for bargains & reviews :-) And please follow us on Twitter @BargainTheatre. For general London attraction discounts and more, follow @BargainLDN
Producers, if you have a theatre deal you would like us to tweet and/or include here, or a production you would like us to review, tweet us @BargainTheatre or contact us via our Facebook page.
Please note that this list takes a lot of time, dedication and effort to compile. It should not be reproduced elsewhere, in part or full, without the prior permission of @BargainTheatre and @BenVivianJones
That’s all from me, enjoy your bargain theatre! http://twitter.com/#!/BargainTheatre
One of several adaptations produced this year of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel about 1920s opulent decadence is unfortunately anything but. The Great Gatsby Musical, not to be confused with the likes of Gatz that was playing in the West End until recently, feels unfinished. Written and directed by Linnie Reedman, The Great Gatsby Musical felt more like watching a workshop of a show than a fully formed piece.
In such a small space with hardly any set to speak of, bar a piano and some moveable chairs, the whole thing came off as under-rehearsed. The musical numbers, composed by Joe Evans, were largely forgettable and all the ensemble efforts, except the tango-inspired ‘I Bet He Killed A Man’, had eggy lead-ins and (when present) shoddy harmonies. The most frustrating problem with the songs was that they neither informed us of anything we didn’t already know about the characters within the scene, or did anything to further the story. They were numbers which could be removed from the piece without affecting the continuation, which surely defeats the object of creating a musical in the first place? I want to hear the innermost thoughts of the character which cannot be expressed through just words, not a little jazz-infused ditty that could be a stand alone tune outside the confines of the show. It is also a show which illustrates that the recent craze of using actor-musicians is not always a good idea.
That being said, there were some performances that deserve some plaudits. Raphael Verrion stood out as the best in show, despite Nick’s role as the ‘narrator’ of sorts and not the ‘star’. He may not have had the strongest voice, in the one solo allowed him, but his acting was subtle, consistent and his character was the only one who truly felt believable. If he had been but a little broader and muscular he would have been a fantastically charismatic Gatsby.
Matilda Sturridge’s Daisy Buchanan, permanently open mouthed and whispy of voice, is a nice take on the character. She feels too young and wholesome to be playing the role, but she does it with conviction. Her voice is of the same ilk as Florence of ‘The Machine’ fame which is very listenable but not very period appropriate. She does whole-heartedly act her socks off whilst in song however.
Often it is a player in a smaller, less-pressured role who steals the limelight. That’s the case here with Alyssa Noble shining in her comedic role of Lucille. She may not be the strongest of singers, but it is almost unnecessary when the rest of her performance makes her so watchable throughout.
If the rumours that The Great Gatsby Musical has big ‘in town’ aspirations than there is a huge amount of work to be done by all involved. The only way I can see a transfer happening is with a new score, a new book, a new set, new choreography and a largely new cast. The ‘Rather-Disappointing’ Gatsby then, if you will.
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By Tom Norman @Tom_Norm
7th Aug - 1st Sep 2012
King’s Head Theatre, London, N1.
Despite the title, this is not a panto. Ugly sisters yes, and there is a ball; but those hoping for a dame and ’Oh yes he is’ might want to reconsider. Award-winning composer and lyricist team George Stiles and Anthony Drewe provide a host of great songs that fuse together seamlessly in an original score that is one of the best newly-written musicals I’ve heard in a long while. Choreographer Drew McOnie brings life to each number with routines that are slickly delivered, while Director Jonathan Butterell gives dimension to Elliot Davis’ book (co-written with Drewe).
Set in Soho’s famous gay village on Old Compton Street, it’s the story of rent-boy Robbie’s struggle to keep a roof over his head and a lid on his potentially explosive love-life. Would-be mayor James Prince (Michael Xavier) has a secret which could ruin his prospects, Robbie is head-over-heels in love, while Lord Bellingham (Neil McCaul) is just a dirty old peer who thinks he can buy anything and anyone. The ugly sisters, played by Suzy Chard and Beverley Rudd, are the epitome of The Fat Slags from adult comic Viz, feasting on men and booze; but they have their eye on Bendix-bender Robbie’s beautiful laundrette business, hoping to turn it into a strip joint.
When William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan penned the Pirates of Penzance I doubt they envisioned such a production as Sasha Regan’s all-male escapade.
Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, premiered in 1979 on consecutive days in Paignton, England and then New York to discourage those who managed to evade copyright by performing “pirate” versions of G&S’ previous operetta HMS Pinafore. The production opened in London the following year and ran for 360 performances.
Sasha Regan’s All-Male G&S shows have achieved cult status and considering there have only so few that’s pretty high praise indeed. Pirates opened in 2009 at The Union Theatre before transferring to Wilton’s Music Hall for a sold out 6 week run and then a fortnight at Kingston’s Rose Theatre. It was at the Rose that the Pirates were spotted by overseas investors and plans were put in motion ready to raise the main sail and set off on their voyage to the other side of the world two years later.
Sasha Regan takes the helm once more as Director and also Co-Producer, alongside Ben De Wynter (Regan De Wynter), of the down under production steering the tour of Oz. Sasha’s directing credits include such infamous shows as Sweeney Todd and Cabaret, and of course more recent all-male jaunts Patience and Iolanthe, the latter of which broke the 12 year box office record at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2011.
Original Choreographer Lizzi Gee is back onboard with a plethora of West End, Fringe and International credits under her belt including Buddy, Million Dollar Quartet, Hair and The Sound of Music.
Taking his maiden voyage with this particular production is Musical Supervisor Michael England. Having recently supervised Patience at the Union Theatre, England is no stranger to the fierce falsetto of an all-male cast. Michael England’s credits abound having musically directed West End productions of Les Miserables, Phantom of Opera and Jerry Springer to name but a few. England also conducted the opening weeks of Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables and the new cast recording.
Familiar faces Steve Miller (Design) and Robyn Wilson-Owen (Lighting Design) are also back on deck for the revival of this award winning production.
Six of the original shipmates will also join the international cast with Alan Richardson reprising the role of Mabel, for which he received People’s Award for Best Actor in the Off West End Awards 2011. Michael Burgen returns as the Pirate King’s right hand man Samuel, Lee Greenaway and Stewart Charlesworth will be donning their frocks as Connie and Edith, and Raymond Tait and Adam Lewis Ford are back as cover Sergeant of Police and Sisters, respectively.
The production will be touring Australia throughout October and November culminating in a three week run at The Sydney Theatre. Before they raise the anchor and set sail you’ll be able to see the Pirates in full swing, and no doubt acrobatic action, at the Hackney Empire from 26th - 30th September 2012.
For more information and booking details visit www.piratesisback.com.
Follow the swashbucklers on Twitter @PiratesOnTour
PIRATES OF PENZANCE
Top price seats £15 (was £27.50)
Book by 31st Aug. Use code EARLY BIRD PIRATES
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Preview by @BenVivianJones
Over recent years the tiny Landor Theatre in Clapham has been earning quite a name for itself as the home of the London fringe MT, serving up delightful pint-sized versions of both classic and modern musicals. This year’s summer offering comes in the form of Kander and Ebb’s 2007 award winning Curtains.
Director Robert McWhir’s intimate production is continuously inventive and creative with the space, impressively so. Curtains is a well-oiled, slick and accomplished production, exactly what London audiences have come to expect from McWhir, with last summer’s Ragtime receiving much public and critical acclaim. Working with choreographer Robbie O’Reilly, faces the challenging task of creating an essential show-biz essence and kicklines on a miniscule stage, with an extremely large cast for such a venue. I had to lean right back in my seat to avoid being hit! Also, if you sit in the front row, keep your feet under your seat…despite often seeming cramped and crowed, some impressive staging and well executed routines leave you grinning – and the cast sweating! Look out for the hilarious use of torches, to great effect, during the opening of the second act.
The large ensemble numbers are without a doubt the highlight of the evening, with “Show People” and “Thataway!” being personal favourites. A fine-voiced cast is always a pleasure to hear in the theatre, especially at such a close proximity and without the interference of amplification.
Jeremy Legat plays the central character Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, the detective brought in to investigate the mysterious death of a leading lady during the opening night of an out-of-town, try-out for a new musical Robin Hood. What follows is the theatrical quarantine of the entire cast and crew until the case is closed; one amongst them is the killer, and all with equally good motives but ‘who dunnit’ is anybody’s guess.
Legat is utterly charming, endearing and comic in his role, and his onstage love Niki Harris (Bronwyn Andrews) equally so. Although cast younger than the original, which saw Frasier’s David Hyde Pearce as Cioffi, it most certainly works. Fiona O’Carroll proves to be a particular delight as Georgia, the lyricist turned star, with a great set of pipes and acting chops to suit. A camp British director straight out of The Producers, played by Bryan Kennedy, and a powerhouse performance from stage veteran Buster Skeggs as the fierce producer and ultimate ‘Stage Mother’ are both notable standouts from a strong cast, among the best I’ve seen in any fringe musical.
Musical supervision by Iain Vince Gatt and musical direction by Michael Webborn leads a strong 5 piece band, creating a joyful sound for Kander’s catchy Broadway score. Although, this is the kind of musical which ideally requires a larger and more substantial orchestra in order to fully realise pastiche of both score and piece, which unfortunately in a space such as the Landor is unrealistic.
It’s hard to find enough superlatives to adequately describe this production of Curtains, the closest I can come to my own reaction is “joyous”.
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26th July - 1st September 2012
Landor Theatre, London, SW9.
Leave It On The Floor is, by admission, a passion project for director Sheldon Larry and writer Glenn Gaylord. Two decades in gestastion, Larry has finally created his musical love letter to the ‘Ball Community’ of America he loves.
‘Ball Community’ is the term used to describe the LGBT subculture in the US where people ‘walk’ for prizes at ‘balls’. These ‘walks’ can include outrageous costumes, drag personas, dancing and vogueing. Many of those who take part in the balls ‘walk’ for a specific team, or ‘house’, which is run by a single leader.
Knowing literally nothing about this underground world that inspired Madonna’s ‘Vogue’, I was quite taken aback from the outset by how balls-to-the-wind the movie appeared to be. Beginning with an eponymous company number, which included drag queens, outlandish dance moves and catwalking like no supermodel could even dream of, this is a film which grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you from start to finish, taking you on a surprising emotional journey along the way.
Centred around love, loyalty and friendship within this colourfully bitchy culture, Larry crafts a touching and believable love triangle between ‘ball’ newcomer Brad (the talented Ephraim Sykes), flamboyant youngster Carter played by the outstanding Andre Myers and Princess Eminence (Phillip Evelyn), the 2nd in command of ‘House Eminence’. Having been thrown out by his mother for being gay, Brad quickly becomes immersed in the LA Ball Community, taken under the wing of Princess Eminence, much to the disdain of the House ‘Mother’, Queef Latina; possibly one of the greatest names in the history of cinema. Following arguments, betrayal, fabulous dance offs and a transgendered pregnant Lady Gaga-like named Eppie Durall, all comes good and we return to our opening scene for a rousing finale.
Despite being a screen musical, it is in the characters and their relationships that this film excels. Touching portrayals of heartbreak, true love and conflict keep the audience with the story from start to finish and often has them rolling with laughter. Andre Myers plays the outwardly cocky, inwardly gentle Carter who you can’t help but root for over the lead. Evelyn walks a fine line between hilarious and ridiculous, and Sykes is believable in his portrayal of the put upon ingenue. However, it is Barbie-Q who steals the show. Queef Latina has the best lines, the most touching dialogue and some of the best numbers, allowing Q to produce the best Effie White I have ever seen a man do!
Sadly it is the music that lets the film down. With too many conflicting styles, including rap, dance, R&B and Little Shop-esque kitsch, it becomes an obstacle to the storytelling and the transition from speech to song is more often than not, very awkward. This is a shame as the choreography is excellent, and the cast very talented.
Ironically, for a film that knows what it wants to portray, it is very confused about how to address it. Sheldon Larry’s passion is evident and he has crafted a beautifully touching piece. The movie is hindered by it’s musical ideas, and could have been an outstanding indie darling as a straight (no pun intended) piece, but that is not to say it isn’t enjoyable. As a view into a world most of us will never know, and as character driven entertainment Leave It On The Floor is one to watch. As a modern musical it is odd and falls short of it’s Beyonce-inspired aspirations, and also includes the most surreal funeral scene ever put to celluloid.
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3rd - 16th August 2012
Leicester Square Theatre, London, WC2H.
“Roll up, roll up” shouts the promoter, enticing the crowds at London Bridge to join the entourage. It’s no easy task being in direct competition with established attractions such as The London Dungeons and The London Bridge Experience, all plying for those seeking a trip into the gruesome past of the capital. Despite it being a blazing summer afternoon, the Victorian-costumed company manage to secure a comfortably-sized audience of both pre-booked and on-the-spot customers, all keen to discover exactly what they’re letting themselves in for. As the clock of nearby Southwark Cathedral strikes the hour, a Mary Poppins like figure, sporting long black coat and hat and carrying a very large red carpet bag over her shoulder beckons all to follow. A potted history of the life and deaths of Jack the Ripper follows as she shepherds the audience on a tour along Georgian streets and cobbled lanes, stopping off at various points of interest, informatively speculating where Jack might have lived or visited.
Dark and dank alleyways abound in this area, lending themselves neatly to the narrative and it’s down one in particular that the Ripper story is vividly brought back to reality for the curious group of followers. “Shall we go down here?” the mysterious guide asks, as if seeking permission. Apprehension overcome, we enter Jack’s realm, meeting his prey ‘in the flesh’ as they go about their rough trades and daily business in the grime and squalor of nineteenth century London. It’s market day with purveyors of assorted goods including fresh fruit and silks all keen to make their money. Try your hand at games of chance, if you will. I try to throw old pennies onto china plates without success but everyone’s a winner here for the experience itself is one to savour. A bobby goes about his beat turning a blind eye to the rackets taking place in front of his nose. A couple argue in the street, “She’s Mary Kelly, likes the gin does that one”, someone whispers in my ear. “Every day’s the same, they’re always at it”, another tells me. The copper pays no heed, even though she’s about to be the next . Period-costumed characters fill the marketplace and I feel a little under-dressed. But these are a friendly bunch in the main, save a few males of criminal class who menacingly roam, perhaps looking for a fight or to pick your pocket.
A distinguished gentleman in finer dress looks on and then beckons you to his public house, the Ten Bells, for a drink and good old-fashioned evening of cockney sing-song around the piano . I get a drink from the bar and chat with ladies of the night as we’re entertained by music hall hits of the time, such as Champagne Charlie, lead by the surprisingly fine-voiced publican who I’m told likes a drink himself, just to oil the vocal chords. The convivial atmosphere being in sharp contrast to the dark events happening elsewhere, which all too soon become apparent.
With performances during the daytime and in the evenings, tailored for young and old alike, this theatrical promenade production is both entertaining and educational. The engaging cast draw you into their world, visiting the personal life of his unfortunates. An atmosphere of amusement fused with graveness is always in the air as the sights, sounds and smells interact and immerse. The cast take turns playing various roles so no two performances are identical. For those taking in the evening show, why not stay behind afterwards and mingle in the bar as darkness falls? Just be careful as you walk home, for while you may have a smile on your face, don’t forget to look over your shoulder.
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By Gareth Richardson @BargainTheatre
18th July - 5th August 2012.
An undisclosed new arts space, London, SE1.
In the same way that the Finborough Theatre itself punches well above its weight in the size-to-quality ratio, An Incident At The Border successfully tackles rather a lot of humanity’s foibles in quite a short space of time.
Originally a short piece designed to fit into a lunch time, the now extended version of this play by Kieran Lynn is set in an unnamed country on the day of its independence from a neighbouring land. Olivia (Florence Hall) and Arthur (Tom Bennett) find their romantic afternoon in the park takes an unexpected turn when the disputed new border between these nations is redrawn right through the centre of the bench on which they sit. The border, which is being delineated in red-and-white striped parcel tape by newly appointed border guard Reiver (Marc Pickering), leaves Arthur stranded on the wrong side of the lines, with no processes for repatriation having yet been put into place by Reiver’s bureaucrat superiors.
The line between Olivia and Arthur - as they stand inches apart, but in separate countries - becomes both a physical and metaphorical border, giving rise to each of them having to decide which of their own lines they are prepared to cross for one another and how much they are prepared to risk in the process.
Tom Bennett delivers character-comedy gold as Arthur, and Bruce Guthrie’s clean and simple direction of Lynn’s script also deliver him some of the finest moments in the show. His unwittingly frank assessment of Olivia’s conversations about her own “emotional well-being” is delivered with a bewildered and tongue-tied resignation, and his happy-go-lucky, duck-loving creation is a joy to watch throughout.
Florence Hall is a feisty Olivia, who is, at times, rather too forthright to make Arthur’s decision whether or not to cross back over the line all that hard to make. However, her strength of will and desire to become more “involved” are a great foil to Arthur’s apathy and Reiver’s idiocy and there are some fascinating moments between Olivia and Arthur as the plot develops beyond just the tape line and forces them to consider their feelings for one another and their own ideologies.
Marc Pickering as the newly appointed border guard delivers another strong performance, balancing the vulnerability of Reiver with the newly-found sense of importance that comes with his uniform and radio. From being the buffoon of the piece early on, there are some genuine and poignant moments of pathos as his character tries to break free and make a stand.
This play is an insightful comment on group-think, the so called political and non-political classes and the ways in which we all draw our own boundaries through life, and it is exceptionally well handled in Bruce Guthrie’s production.
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By Jamie Read @VoiceTeacherUK
Sun, Mon + Tues from 22nd July to 7th Aug 2012
Finborough Theatre, London, SW10.
While many will keep a casual eye on world affairs, the conflict in Syria may not be the most appetisingly interesting subject for most fringe theatre-going folk in the capital this summer. A brave step therefore that the Finborough should stage their current weekday play and with impeccable timing as things have turned out, for people are being killed in their fight for democratic freedom at the very moment you may be watching the production. While the gunfire roars in Damascus and elsewhere, this work topically allows an insight into the enormous effect that civil uprising can have on the lives of ordinary folk. The use of television screens to run news reports adds another dimension to the piece without excessive intrusion.
These are real life stories, experiences of oppression and graphic scenes of torture. The whole play is based on verbatim reports from witnesses and those who have suffered first hand at the treatment administered by the Stalin-like regime of the ruling Assad family. The first act is engrossing, for here the playwright invests highly in the characters as individuals, offering a wholesome insight into what makes them tick and the horrors that some have suffered. Among those introduced are Quataba, played convincingly by Adam Youssefbeygi. He is punched, kicked and whipped in harrowing scenes of torment and a great display of stage combat, his yells send shivers down the spine. Ahmad (Gareth Glen) tells how they were forced to meet via Facebook since it is illegal for groups of more than seven people to congregate in person. This is a virtual revolution as much as a physical fight. Parallel experiences are fused together, forming a central core of discrete, moving and personal tales which are cleverly blended together to form a connected whole.
A war-torn second act, concentrates firmly on battles across the country and is somehow less piercingly disturbing since one on one private agony is replaced by the united and widespread collective misery of the whole nation. The fate of those already met continues to be tracked, together with new characters including journalists and a Liverpudlian photographer played by Paul Crawley. Killing, massacres and murder feature highly in a blaze of sound and flashing lights. As the country spirals into anarchy, one character asks “What Did Britain Do?” There is no positive response.
An excess of blasts and gunshots becomes a bit tiresome and a period of intense flashing lights irritates rather than entertains, but for a rich insight into the relentless world of martyrs and mayhem, chaos and confusion, terror and grief, this play delivers.
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By Gareth Richardson @BargainTheatre
17th July - 11th August 2012
Finborough Theatre, London, SW10.
Vieux Carre, is a debatable semi-autobiographical play, written by Tennessee Williams, set in the eclectic city of New Orleans.
Set in a boarding house run by landlady Mrs Wire, portrayed by Nancy Crane, who is slowly beginning to lose her mind over the loss of her son. We are introduced to a plethora of diverse characters, all with their own harrowing, yet comic stories.
It is interesting to read that Williams originally wrote the play as short stories whilst he stayed in New Orleans, based upon real life encounters. This narrative structure is evident as it moves from each story through a fragmented rather than fluid journey. This is in no way a criticism of the piece, as it actually draws you in, which is nicely handled and staged by director Robert Chevara.
The most notable aspect is the interpretation of characters, obviously very well researched and thought through, as each is given a very detailed and precise accessibility. In particular our narrator, ‘The Writer’ (Ross Williams), provides a vulnerability and heart to the character. Williams’ excellent accent work also makes his performance strong and engaging.
Similarly there is not a member of the cast that does not deserve credit for their performance, it is an excellent ensemble piece that entices you into its, often very dark, subject matter.
Williams’ fans will notice, similarities between Vieux Carre and The Glass Menagerie, in the tone and style of the piece. Interestingly, Vieux Carre closed after only five performances on Broadway, which surprises me as I found it a moving, disturbing yet funny play with good pace, direction and narrative.
It is interesting that the King’s Head may well be a better venue for a play of this nature, to a larger West End or Broadway theatre, cementing the North London theatre as a leading force in Off-West End production.
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By Sally Bowles
King’s Head Theatre, London, N1.