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NEWS: John Simm, Dervla Kirwan Hugh Bonneville, James Nesbitt & Sheila Hancock all feature in Chichester Festival Theatre’s new season

In Musicals, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Quotes, Regional theatre, Sticky, Touring by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2019 has been announced by artistic director Daniel Evans. It includes John Simm & Dervla Kirwan in Macbeth, Hugh Bonneville in Shadowlands & Tim Firth’s first solo musical starring James Nesbitt.

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NEWS: Casting for Arthur Miller’s The American Clock at The Old Vic includes Josie Walker & Clare Burt

In London theatre, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Quotes, Sticky by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The Old Vic has announced initial casting for Arthur Miller’s The American Clock at The Old Vic, directed by Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Hadestown) with music by Justin Ellington from 4 February to 30 March 2019 (press night is 13 February). The cast includes: Amber Aga, Paul Bentall, Greg Bernstein, Clare Burt, Flora Dawson, Abhin …

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‘A thing of real, gentle wonder’: FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS – Chichester

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Some of the beauty of Flowers for Mrs Harris gets lost at Chichester Festival Theatre but it remains a striking new musical

“It’s a work of art… something not real, made to make you feel”

I had much love for Flowers for Mrs Harris when it premiered in Sheffield a couple of years ago, and so I was delighted to see Daniel Evans deciding to revive it at his new abode over in Chichester. My only cavil came with the placing of this most heartfelt musical in the vast space of the Festival Theatre rather than the intimacy of the Minerva where it might perhaps have been better served.

So much of the beauty of the show (book by Rachel Wagstaff from Paul Gallico’s novel, music & lyrics by Richard Taylor) comes from the fact that it isn’t a bells and whistles epic. It is something far more subtle that truly celebrates the ordinary in extraordinary, as Clare Burt’s charlady Ada Harris dares to dream of owning a Christian Dior dress and in working to achieve that dream, illuminates the lives of those around her.

Largely sung-through, the cumulative effect of Flowers for Mrs Harris is like a ripple billowing through a length of silk fabric, flipping it over – beguiling and beautiful, gentle but ultimately transformative. As Ada’s hard work takes her from Battersea to Paris, some nifty doubling in the cast sees her meeting contrasting figures to those for whom she toils. So Louis Maskell switches from accountant to dreamy photographer, Laura Pitt-Pulford from struggling actress to top model, Joanna Riding aristocracy to couturier, and all impress with their clear delineation.  

And Burt is just magnificent the unassuming Ada, slowly coming to realise her place in the world, her worth and her right to a greater happiness than she ever dared dream of in the drudgery of post-war Britain. Lez Brotherston’s design looks superb under Mark Henderson’s well-observed lighting choices, and the conclusion is a thing of real, gentle wonder. Don’t just talk about wanting to see new exciting British musical theatre, go and see it now!

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Johan Persson
Flowers for Mrs Harris is booking at Chichester Festival Theatre until 29th September
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‘This triumph features the sort of originality Joan would have approved of’: MISS LITTLEWOOD – Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon ★★★★★

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Not everyone knows who Joan Littlewood was but by the end of Sam Kenyon’s enthralling biographic musical, Miss Littlewood, we’re closer to understanding what drove this maverick director, who was to be known as The Mother of Modern Theatre, to create innovative, controversial agitprop theatre.

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NEWS: Cast & dates announced for Alan Ayckbourn’s The Divide at Old Vic

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The Old Vic today gives a sneak preview of what’s to come in 2018 at The Old Vic during its bicentenary, with dates and full casting announced for the year’s first production: the London transfer of Alan Ayckbourn’s new dystopian family drama The Divide.

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NEWS: Sheffield Theatres win big at 2016 UK Theatre Awards

In Awards, Children's theatre, Inspiring people, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Quotes, Regional theatre, Sticky, Touring by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

UK Theatre has announced the winners of the UK Theatre Awards 2016 – the only awards to honour outstanding achievement in performing, producing and management in theatres throughout the United Kingdom. Sheffield Theatres is the big winner for its two Crucible musical productions of SHOW BOAT and FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS, nabbing five prizes in total.

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NEWS: UK Theatre Awards nominations announced, Ian McKellen recognised for Outstanding Contribution

In Awards, Children's theatre, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Press Releases, Regional theatre, Sticky by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

UK Theatre has announced the nominations for the UK Theatre Awards 2016, which celebrate the breadth and depth of outstanding talent and achievement in theatre and the performing arts throughout the United Kingdom, on and off stage. Show Boat, which recently finished its West End run, receives the most nominations for a production (four), while fellow Sheffield Theatres’ musical Flowers for …

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FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS – Sheffield

In Musicals, Opera, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Edward SeckersonLeave a Comment

Taylor writes an altogether different kind of musical in which “songs” rarely arrive fully formed but rather are in the process of evolving – beginnings of songs which are content just being songful and serving as aides-memoires, melodic remanants which in some cases return again and again with all their emotional memory intact. Wagner called them leitmotifs.

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FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS – Sheffield

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

If Daniel Evans means to leave his acclaimed stewardship of Sheffield Theatre on a flood of tears, he’s chosen the right production for his directorial finale. There were definitely Kleenexes involved. Paul Gallico’s novella was an outlet for a bruised postwar nation, yearning over its clothes-ration coupons for the “ideal of civilized happiness” epitomized by the extravagant ballgowns of the New Look. A widowed charlady is content with her humble lot until she sees, in a rich client’s wardrobe, the marvel that is a Dior dress. She yearns to own one – “to come home to, not to wear”. Inspired by a small pools win, she trebles it with years of slaving, scrimping and squirrelling, and travels naive but determined to Paris.