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NEWS: Nancy Carroll & Haydn Gwynne lead the casting announced for Theatre Royal Bath’s Welcome Back Season of plays

In Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre by Press Releases

Casting has been announced for the first two plays in the Theatre Royal Bath’s WELCOME BACK Season this autumn, running from 14 October to 12 December 2020. Two of the country’s leading actresses, Nancy Carroll and Haydn Gwynne, are joined by a distinguished cast of experienced stage and screen performers.

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Year in Review: Matt Merritt’s performances of 2016

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Touring by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

2016 is nearly over and, despite not getting to see nearly as much theatre as we’d like at Sitting in the Cheap Seats, we’ve seen lots of performances that we will long remember. We couldn’t list all the people who have really impressed us over the past year but the folks below brought their characters to life with performances that made us laugh, cry and kept us thinking long after we left the theatre!

Love’s Labours Lost / Much Ado About Nothing – Chichester & West End

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

A couple of years ago the Royal Shakespeare Company paired Love’s Labours Lost with Much Ado About Nothing (renamed Love’s Labours Won) in a gorgeous setting amidst the Great War to much acclaim. This year they’ve revived the productions, with many of the original cast and have brought it to Chichester Festival Theatre ahead of the West End.

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NEWS: Edward Bennett & Lisa Dillon lead RSC double bill at Haymarket

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

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s hugely acclaimed 2014 pairing of Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing (or Love’s Labour’s Won) arrives in London this Christmas, following runs at Chichester Festival Theatre and Manchester Opera House. From 9 December 2016 to 18 March 2017, Edward Bennett and Lisa Dillon will delight audiences at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in Christopher Luscombe’s elegant, effervescent productions.

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NEWS: Stephen Campbell Moore joins Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51, Full cast announced

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

The Michael Grandage Company today announces the full company for the UK première of Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. Nicole Kidman who leads the company as Rosalind Franklin is joined by Will Attenborough (James Watson), Edward Bennett (Francis Crick), Stephen Campbell Moore (Maurice Wilkins), Patrick Kennedy (Don Caspar) and Joshua Silver (Ray Gosling). Photograph 51 opens at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre on 14 September, with previews from 5 September, and runs until 21 November.

My theatre diary: To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V, As Is, Orson’s Shadow & The Invisible

In Features, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Since I got back from my month of remote working in Mallorca, I’ve been lucky enough to pack in lots of trips to the theatre, including this quintuplet of limited season plays that are all worth a look. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, and the first on the list finishes this Saturday, so don’t delay if you want to see it…

ORSON’S SHADOW – Southwark Playhouse

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

35 years after his death, Kenneth Tynan still has the power to slice through the loudest chatter a rabble of theatre-goers can summon up. In Orson’s Shadow – Austin Pendleton’s knowingly smug biography of the founding fathers who devised the blueprint for the National Theatre – the legendary critic, played by a dashing Edward Bennett, strolls onto the stage before the lights go down. Right from his nonchalant entrance and through a meta-fictional commentary that sees him refusing to leave his profession in the wings, Bennett’s character casts himself as the driving force behind this show.

NEWS: Casting announced for the European premiere of Orson’s Shadow

In London theatre, News by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Final casting is announced today for the European premiere of Orson’s Shadow, a critically acclaimed comedy by Austin Pendleton, about the time when Hollywood giants Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier worked together for the first time – the inspired idea of legendary theatre critic, Kenneth Tynan.

Set in 1960 backstage at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Welles has agreed to direct Olivier and Joan Plowright in a production of Eugène Ionesco’s masterpiece Rhinoceros. But with Olivier’s eccentric wife Vivien Leigh added to the volatile mix, legendary egos collide both on stage and off.

Gina Bellman will play Vivien Leigh, Edward Bennett (Kenneth Tynan), Louise Ford (Joan Plowright), John Hodgkinson (Orson Welles),Adrian Lukis (Laurence Olivier), Ciaran O’Brien (Sean).

Based on true events, Orson’s Shadow is a sharp-witted yet tender-hearted expose’ of the thin skins, hot tempers, and rampaging egos that exist when two titans of the stage and screen come together.  It was nominated Outstanding Play of the Year in the Lortel Awards on its New York debut.

Produced by Emily Dobbs Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals, Orson’s Shadow will get its European premiere, directed by Alice Hamilton, at Southwark Playhouse from Wednesday 1 July to Saturday 25 July.

Gina Bellman (Vivien Leigh)

Gina made an unforgettable TV debut when she was cast in the title role in Dennis Potter’s BBC drama, Blackeyes. She starred as Jane Christie in all four series of Steven Moffat’s award-winning Coupling in the UK and as Sophie Devereaux, “The Grifter”, an accomplished British grifter with a taste for art theft, in all five series of cult US TV series Leverage. On stage, she appeared at the National Theatre in Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years, The Crucible and in Cleo, Camping Emmanuelle and Dick. She played Marilyn Monroe in Rupert Goold’s production ofInsignificance. Her West End roles include Ophelia in Hamlet directed by Peter Hall, Karen in Speed The Plow and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show.

Edward Bennett (Kenneth Tynan)

For the Royal Shakespeare Company, Edward played Laertes in Hamlet, Demitrius, A Midsummer Night’s Dream,  Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Benedict  in Love’s Labour’s Won. As part of Sam Mendes’ “The Bridge Project”, he played Oliver in As You Like It and Ferdinand inThe Tempest. He was Stanley Stubbers in the National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors.

Louise Ford (Joan Plowright)

Louise recently filmed We Hate Paul Revere, a TV comedy pilot. In September she starts filming Horrible Histories. On stage she recently appeared in Knight of the Burning Pestle at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. At Shakespeare’s Globe she appeared in The Bible and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

John Hodgkinson (Orson Welles)

John recently appeared in Love’s Labour’s Lost, as Don Armado and Love’s Labour’s Won, as Don Pedro for the Royal Shakespeare Company. At the Open Air Theatre he played Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. He was last seen on stage as Sainsbury, in Donkey’s Years at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Adrian Lukis (Laurence Oliver)

Adrian was Geoffrey in Versailles, directed by Peter Gill at the Donmar Warehouse and Mycroft Holmes, in Sherlock Holmes: The Best Kept Secret at West Yorkshire Playhouse. On TV, he played George Whickham in Pride and Prejudice and Sir John Darnley in Downton Abbey and is series regular Blair Toast in C4’s award-winning Toast of London.

Ciaran O’Brien (Sean)

Ciaran was Jack the Ripper in BBC1’s Ripper Street. His stage roles include Gar Public in Philadelphia, Here I Come in, Manus in Translations and Curley in Of Mice and Men at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Austin Pendleton (Writer) is an Obie Award-winning actor who has appeared in more than 120 films and TV shows since the late 1960s. He is an ensemble member of the SteppenwolfTheatre in Chicago. As a writer, his plays Orson’s Shadow, Uncle Bob and Booth have all premiered Off Broadway.  As a director, he was Tony nominated for directing Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes. In 2012 he directed a production ofDetroit in London at the National Theatre.

Alice Hamilton (Director) is co-artistic director of Up In Arms, for whom she recently directed Linda Bassett in the award-winning Visitors at the Bush, Arcola and on a UK tour. Other directing credits include Fear of Music for Up In Arms/Out Of Joint; Missing at Tristan Bates, and At First Sight at Latitude Festival and on UK tour. She has also directed shorts for the Miniaturists at Arcola, Courting Drama at the Bush and Hatch at the Park Theatre.  She was Staff Director on Man and Superman at the National Theatre.

Ruth O‘Dowd (Casting Director) As Casting Director for the Unicorn Theatre: The Velveteen Rabbit (dir. Purni Morell), Henry The Fifth (dir. Ellen McDougall), Britain’s Best Recruiting Sergeant (dir. Lee Lyford), Caucasian Chalk Circle (dir. Amy Leach), The Nutcracker (dir. Ellen McDougall), How Nigeria Became (dir. Gbolahan Obisesan) and Seesaw (dir. Sarah Argent).  As Casting Associate to Anne McNulty: Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (dir. Michael Attenborough, Chichester and West End), Outside Mullingar (dir. Sam Yates, Ustinov Studio, Bath), Bakkhai (dir. James Macdonald, Almeida Theatre), and Carmen Disruption (dir. Michael Longhurst, Almeida).

Emily Dobbs Productions (Producers) was founded by Emily Dobbs.  The company creates fresh, fearless and innovative theatre with a focused artistic policy that includes commissioning original adaptations, new writing and re-imaginings of classics. They have produced critically acclaimed work across London, at regional venues and in New York. Theatre includes: The Father (Trafalgar Studios), Uncle Vanya (St James’ Theatre – part of the One Stage season), Three Sisters, The Love Girl And The Innocent, The Seagull, The Only True History Of Lizzie Finn, Antigone, The Hostage (Southwark Playhouse), Cornelius (New York transfer to 59E59 Theater), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Gotcha, Stars In The Morning Skies (Riverside Studios), Dusa Fish Stas & Vi, Love On The Dole, Ours (Finborough) and Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (Arcola).

Smith & Brant Theatricals (Producers) Smith & Brant Theatricals is independently owned and run by the international and award-winning producers, Joseph Smith and John Brant.  With a background that encompasses the commercial and subsidised sectors, Smith & Brant Theatricals are passionate about developing new work, as well as regularly collaborating on co-productions and offering general management services, supported by Robyn Keynes.  Current projects include: executive producing the UK production of the Tony award-winning musicalMemphis (Shaftesbury Theatre), co-producing the comedy revival of Richard Bean’s The Mentalists (Wyndham’s Theatre), and general managing August Strindberg’s The Father (Trafalgar Studios).  Previous producing credits include: The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre, 2014); How to

Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Broadway, 2011/12) starring Daniel Radcliffe; Promises, Promises (Broadway, 2010) and Jonathan Kent’s production of Sweeney Todd (West End, 2012), winner of 3 Olivier Awards including “Best Musical Revival”, 5 WhatsOnStage Awards including “Best Musical Revival” and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for “Best Musical”.

Southwark Playhouse

The Large

77-85 Newington Causeway



Box Office: 020 7407 0234

Wednesday 1 July to Saturday 25 July

Times: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm

Saturday matinee at 3.00pm

Ticket prices:

£18.00/£16.00 concessions

all previews £10.00 (Wednesday 1 July – Saturday 4 July, including

Saturday matinee)

THE REHEARSAL – Chichester Festival

In Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Sixty or so years ago, Jean Anouilh’s works were popular enough for the BBC to broadcast a recording of him reading one of his plays in the original French. These days he’s hardly a household name, but he still maintains enough popularity for his work to be
readily revisited. Chichester Festival Theatre have regularly produced productions of his plays and this translation, by Jeremy Sams who also directs, was originally put together for a production at the Almeida Theatre way back in 1990.