Avenue Q Musical is Moving to Gielgud Theatre in June

Avenue Q will close at the Noel Coward Theatre on 28th March… but will reopen at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on 1st June, after the cast and puppets have taken a well deserved holiday!

Brash, vulgar and just downright funny – you’ve never seen a musical like Avenue Q before! The characters on this downtown street in New York are out of work, out of luck and desperately seeking their purpose in life; just what are you supposed to do with a B.A. in English? This is a hilarious show you’ll want to see again and again. Now starring Daniel Boys (from BBC’s search for a Joseph, Any Dream Will Do) along with a hugely talented cast of performers and puppets. Don’t let your life suck or be the only person on your street who hasn’t seen it yet – book your tickets today!

Book Avenue Q Tickets!

West End’s Sunday Best – Australia’s Fire & Flood Benefit- The British Red Cross Appeal – 29th March

TUCKERBOX PRESENTS West End’s Sunday Best Australia’s Fire & Flood Benefit The British Red Cross Appeal.

Sunday, March 29th 7pm, The Palace Theatre, Hosted by Simon Burke.

Featuring cast members from:
Oliver! Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, Sister Act the Musical, La Clique, Dirty Dancing, Chicago, La Cage Aux Folles, and Jersey Boys.

With Special Guests:
Jason Donovan, Rolf Harris, Philip Quast, Tamsin Carroll, Puppetry of the Penis, String Divas, The Flying Pickets, Rat Pack’s Back and many more.

Proof that the famous Aussie spirit is alive and well in the UK, the expatriate Australian entertainment community, and the stars of London’s West End will come together especially, for one night only, to raise money, awareness and hope for this very important cause.

In February of this year – the south of Australia was ravaged by fires and the north of the country was devastated by overwhelming flash flooding. At least 210 people died and 7,000 people are now homeless.

These were the very worst conditions Australia has dealt with in the last 100 years, and the aftermath is horrific, destroying homes, families and livelihoods.

Listings Information

Tuckerbox Presents
West End’s Sunday Best
Australia’s Fire and Flood Benefit
The British Red Cross Appeal
Box Office: 0844 412 4657 or at The Palace Theatre directly.

The Palace Theatre
Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 8AY
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square or Charing Cross

Notes from New York launches Taking Notes

West End Series Launches Contemporary Musical Theatre Course for Summer 2009

Notes from New York launches Taking Notes, a one-week, extra-curricular exploration through the new and exciting musical theatre writing of today. Designed to introduce participants to a wealth of material they have yet to discover, whilst helping them to hone their craft, Taking Notes is an opportunity to delve deeper into the writing that is the future of the West End.

Guiding participants through the week’s sessions will be the original creative team behind the Notes from New York series. Offering a fresh, bold and confident perspective, the team will lead classes in song interpretation, solo work, musical staging, choral and audition technique, all of which are essential elements of an increasingly diverse modern musical theatre landscape.

Taking Notes will primarily concentrate on how to grasp this particular style of contemporary performance, bringing out the reality and immediacy of acting through song. It will offer the opportunity to discover some of the most popular pieces of writing from selected Notes from New York shows, allowing participants to work hard on making the songs their own.

West End stars, who have appeared in the Notes from New York series, will make guest appearances throughout Taking Notes to teach bespoke masterclasses, enabling participants to learn from a range of professional vantage points and arm themselves with the valuable information needed to embark on and thrive in a successful and varied career. Taking Notes will culminate in a semi-staged showcase of material at the end of the week to an invited, industry based audience, including the producers of Notes from New York, their producing partners, associates and affiliates.

Performers must never stop learning. Extracting information and absorbing new skills from others is how they eternally stay at the top of their game. Taking Notes is not your average summer course. It’s an exploratory journey of discovery. A new take on how to approach work as an actor. A chance to dissect a way of performing and bringing yourself up to date with an ever-changing industry. It’s about the individual, so that they leave after the week-long course with a completely focused mind and a positive mental attitude to their work.

Taking Notes is open to performers aged 18 and over, whether they are a professional actor or currently attending a full time course. Only 50 spaces are available and enrolment will be administered on a strictly first-come, first-served basis, as applications are received. Participation in Taking Notes costs £195 for a week’s tuition, from 10.30 to 16.30 each day.

Commenting on the launch of Taking Notes, Course Director and Notes from New York co-founder Paul Spicer says:

“We are extremely excited to be launching Taking Notes. Notes from New York has always been about bastioning all things new, and Taking Notes will allow us as a team to give something back to that loyal and industry based audience that has long supported our progress, whilst nurturing the wealth of musical theatre talent that resides in the UK.

The course is designed for anyone over the age of 18 that is currently training on a theatre based course, is recently graduated or already working professionally as a performer. We wanted to keep the number of students low and to offer a personalised experience, so will only be offering 50 spaces, and the classes will be both intense and demanding.

I’m looking forward to working closely with participants on the aspects of musical theatre performance that make me tick as an actor, and the wealth of knowledge provided by our guest tutors, who have previously performed in Notes from New York, will be priceless. It’s never too late to stop learning.You’re never too learned to stop taking notes.”

Taking Notes takes place from Monday 27 to Saturday 31 July at the London Rehearsal Rooms, 83 Borough Road, London SE1 1DN. In order to participate in Taking Notes, performers should download an application form from www.notesfromnewyork.com and return it, along with their course fee, to Notes from New York at the address provided.

The UK Premiere of Trying

THE UK PREMIERE OF TRYING

by Joanna McClelland Glass. Directed by Derek Bond.

Starring Michael Craig

Michael Craig returns to the London stage in the UK premiere of the award-winning TRYING, opening for a four week limited season on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 (Press Night: Thursday, 19 March) at London¹s Finborough Theatre.

A surprising yet touching play about a profound friendship between two strangers ­ at dramatically different points in their lives ­ who unexpectedly find they have more in common than they thought.

Internationally famous, cantankerous and in failing health, the 81 year old Judge Francis Biddle awaits the new secretary that his wife has forced upon him. Sarah is very young and inexperienced and, even worse, from Canada. Francis doesn¹t trust her. Francis doesn¹t trust anyone ­ his last assistant managed to burn half his books. Despite undergoing her own marital pressures and impending motherhood, Sarah is determined to get the Judge¹s life in order ­ without crying in the bathroom.

This rich story of life’s most inevitable adventure ­of growing old ­ is inspired by the playwright’s real-life experience as personal secretary to the real Judge Biddle, US Attorney General under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chief American Judge at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

Since its New York premiere in 2004, Trying has been presented in numerous theatres across the world including the USA, Canada and Australia, and now receives its UK premiere.

Michael Craig has had a distinguished career spanning more than half a century in film, television and on stage in the UK, Europe and Australia, where he was recently voted “The  Most Trusted Man In Australia” for  his long standing role as the curmudgeonly Doctor William Sharp in the long running Australian Medical series, ‘G.P.’’

His many credits include nearly thirty films under contract to both The Rank Organisation and Columbia Pictures including Star with Julie Andrews, Doctor in Love, Sea of Sand for which he was nominated for a BAFTA as Best British Actor, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Mysterious Island, The Irishman, Brotherly Love and The Angry Silence which he co-wrote with his brother, the agent, writer and   producer Richard Gregson and film maker Bryan Forbes.
 
He was given his first lead stage role in 1953 by Sir Peter Hall, and subsequent stage credits include The Wars of the Roses (Stratford and London for the RSC), Teddy in The Homecoming (New York for the RSC), The Inspector in Stephen Daldry¹s production of An Inspector Calls (National Tour), 84 Charing Cross Road (West End), Prospero at the Sydney Opera House for the Sydney Theatre Company, and playing opposite Barbra Streisand in the original London production of Funny Girl.
 
Television includes a Logie Award (the Australian television industry awards) for Most Outstanding Actor for his role in G.P., Triangle, The Foundation, The Emigrants, St Joan, Gras Roots, Doctor Who, Robin of Sherwood, Shoestring, The Professionals, Jackanory, and was the subject of his own This Is Your Life episode in 1994.

As a screenwriter, he co-wrote The Angry Silence for which he received an Oscar nomination in 1960, was nominated for the Australian Film Institute¹s AFI Award for Best Screenplay for The Fourth Wish and has written for and created several TV series. Following his appearance in the Australian production of Trying, Michael Craig now returns to the London stage to reprise his critically acclaimed performance in a new production.
 
Making her London stage debut opposite Michael is Canadian actress Meghan Popiel. Meghan appeared in Stand Up and Sit at the Montreal Theatre Festival and in Vehicle Poets for the Step Dans Fuego Co., at Place des Arts, Montreal. On screen Meghan co-devised and appeared in a Montreal 24 hour Film Festival Production for which she won the Best Actress award; she appeared as She in the short film He Tango She, for the Moscow Film Co and appeared in the DNA/Fox Searchlight feature 29 Weeks Later directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo..

Playwright and novelist Joanna McClelland Glass’ plays have been produced all over North America, in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Germany. Canadian born, she is the author of Canadian Gothic ( adapted for radio by  CBC in 1974 and by BBC in 1983); To Grandmother’s House We Go, starring Eva Le Gallienne, played on Broadway in 1980; Play Memory, also seen on Broadway, was directed by Harold Prince and nominated for a Tony Award; American Modern, Artichoke, Yesteryear; If We Are Women and, most recently, Palmer Park which premiered at Canada¹s Stratford Festival in 2008. Glass has also written two novels ­ Reflections on a Mountain Summer, and Woman Wanted which was adapted into a film in 1998, starring and directed by
Kiefer Sutherland, also starring Holly Hunter and Michael Moriarty. She has received a Rockefeller grant, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was Playwright in Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Derek Bond has directed the Time Out Critics’ Choice production of Colourings (Old Red Lion), African Gothic (White Bear Theatre), The Wonder! A Woman Keeps A Secret (White Bear Theatre and Time Out Critics’ Choice season at the BAC), The Maids (Etcetera Theatre), Transmissions (Birmingham Rep), and The Censor (Union Theatre). In the West End.

Allan McKeown is a prolific television producer both in the UK and the US and has been responsible for many of the UK¹s most popular television programmes including Shine on Harvey Moon, Auf Weidersehen Pet, Birds of a Feather, Love Hurts, Goodnight Sweetheart and Lovejoy. He has produced many TV shows in the USA including the Emmy Award winning Tracey Takes On, produced with his wife Tracey Ullmann and he has just finished the second series of the award winning State of The Union with Tracy for Showtime. His  new series Mumbai Calling will be seen on ITV later this year and  an adaptation of Julia Gregson’s novel East of The Sun is under development with the BBC. His theatre productions include Anyone for Denis (West End), The Big Love (Broadway), Jerry Springer the Opera (West End and Broadway) and Lennon (Broadway).

The Press on Trying including Michael Craig’s performance in Australia –

“Michael Craig is ideally cast in this witty and perceptive two-hander. His performance is little short of masterful. In lesser hands the formidable figure would merely emerge as broad-brushed and brusque, but Craig¹s timing, pitch and subtle command makes for an unsentimental and convincingly
detailed portrait.” Bryce Hallett, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

“Craig is superb as cranky octogenarian operating, as Biddle has it, somewhere between lucidity and senility. It¹s a masterful piece of character acting” Jason Blake, The Sun Herald (Australia)

“Michael Craig¹s delicious portrayal of Biddle is a triumph.” Deborah Johnston, Mosman Daily (Australia)

“One of the finest pieces of theatre I have seen in many years, glittering, diamond-hard script that is all but flawless. Magnificently eloquent masterpiece of theatrical portraiture.” Chicago Sun Times (USA)

PRESS NIGHT: THURSDAY, 19 MARCH 2009 AT 7.30PM
PHOTOCALL: TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 2009 AT 1.00PM-1.30PM

Finborough Theatre, The Finborough, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652
Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Tuesday, 17 March ­ Saturday, 11 April 2009
Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm. Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm. Saturday
Matinees at 3.00pm (from 28 March).
Performance Length: Approximately 2 hours.

Michael Craig Starring in Trying

Michael Craig has an amazing career spanning over 40 years and worked with some legendary names. Born Michael Gregson in 1928, he had to change his stage name in deference to John Gregson, then an established star. Michael Craig began his acting career 1930’s in a small town weekly repertory company in England.

In 1949,after five years in the Merchant Navy, he left the sea and worked as Assistant Stage Manager at the Castle Theatre in Farnham, Surrey. He soon graduated to playing small parts and moved on to other repertory companies which included York, Windsor, Worthing and finally to the Oxford Playhouse on 1954 where the Director was the Young Peter Hall, later to become Sir Peter Hall.

It was while he was at the Playhouse that he was seen by an Arthur Rank talent spotter who signed him to a seven year film contract. Michael made somewhere in the region of nearly thirty films for Rank, Romulus, ABPC, Fox, Columbia and also for some independent companies in Italy, Yugoslavia and Spain.  Dirk Bogarde was the impossibly handsome hero of most British films at that time, but if he wasn’t available, the part would usually go to Craig. And whereas Bogarde – and Gregson, Granger, Stewart and many, many others – are all dead, Craig is still vigorously alive and grumbling that he doesn’t get enough time to play golf better. From his first, uncredited role in Passport to Pimlico (1949) he has made more than 60 films and TV series.

He once made a film in South Africa called Nor the Moon by Night. The other principals were a beautiful actress called Belinda Lee who died very young and a good young actor called Patrick McGoohan. Belinda had a tempestuous love life and took off to Rome and the next they heard she has tried to commit suicide. Back in South Africa, McGoohan had smashed up his car and himself and Michael was left alone for three weeks with a film crew and a lot of monkeys.

With a young family to support Michael took  on whatever was offered and work often took him to Italy, one of the first films he made there was with David Niven.  Michael remembers him as a lovely man and a great mentor, very generous and funny. Perhaps the most important thing he told Michael  was to hang back on shooting the last scene until he’s been paid!

Michael remembers being directed by Luchino Visconti and working with the stupendous Claudia Cardinale. There are memories of the equally voluptuous Diana Dors , Stanley Baker, Richard Attenborough and Laurence Harvey. He worked in London with Bud Tingwell in Emergency – Ward 10 and stunned the public with his work on the screenplay for the social conscience film The Angry Silence. The script was nominated for an Oscar in 1960.

In 1963 he spent a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford and the Aldwych Theatre in London, playing Bolingbroke to John Neville’s Richard II, and Horner to Judi Dench’s Pinchwife in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife. He worked with Dame Peggy Ashcroft, who was a real icon but also mad on cricket,” Craig says. “We were doing the Wars of the Roses and there was a Test match on at Birmingham, so we decided to have a cricket match: the Yorkists and the Lancastrians.

“Sir Leonard Hutton captained the Yorkist side and Cyril Washbrook, who was a great Lancastrian and English opening bat, captained our side. I came on to bowl and Leonard Hutton spooned one up and Peggy caught it and there it was on the score board: ‘Sir Leonard Hutton, caught Ashcroft and bowled Craig’.”

Other co-stars of his film and stage careers were Sir Michael Redgrave,  Charles Bronson, Oliver Reed, Christopher Plummer, Terence Stamp .  Michael played Nicky Arnstein opposite  Barbra Streisand in the 1966 London stage premiere. He starred opposite Susan Hayward in STOLEN HOURS, Julie Andrews in STAR, Jean Simmons, Carole Baker and Pier Angeli.

He visited Australia for the first time in 1971 with J.C. Williamson’s production of MOVE OVER MRS MARKHAM with Honor Blackman, where he met his wife, Australian actress Sue Walker. His best remembered television work in Australia is as the senior doctor in the ABC series GP,  – he was recently voted “Australia’s most trusted man”! While his most critically acclaimed writing credit is for The Fourth Wish, a beautifully crafted 1976 TV miniseries about a man with a terminally ill son. John Meillon played the grief-stricken father; Craig the doctor with the bad news.

Michael’s returns to UK at the age of 80  to perform in “Trying” by Joanna McClelland Glass  (opens 17 March) where he plays an elegant but cantankerous 81 year old Francis Biddle –  who was one of the judges of the Nuremberg trials and he was attorney-general of the United States under Franklin Roosevelt.

He has performed the role in Australia to great reviews and is delighted to be working back in the UK.

Ken Stott – A View from The Bridge

See Ken Stott in the performance of a lifetime “A View from The Bridge”

Acknowledged as one of the great classics of the twentieth century, Arthur Miller’s electrifying and deeply moving play A View From the Bridge proved to be a milestone in American theatrical history: this acclaimed new production stars Ken Stott, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Hayley Atwell and is directed by Olivier Award-winning Lindsay Posner.
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Dockworker Eddie Carbone has made a good life for himself and his wife and niece in 1950’s Brooklyn. From an immigrant family himself, Eddie is happy to house and protect his wife’s Italian cousins who arrive illegally in pursuit of the ‘American Dream’. What Eddie doesn’t know is that this act of kindness will have a shattering effect on his whole life, and the lives of those he loves.

Arthur Miller is arguably America’s finest playwright, with his other landmark works including The Crucible and Death of A Salesman. Lindsay Posner (Death and the Maiden, Fiddler on the Roof and Carousel) directs.

Ken Stott is well known for his TV and film roles including: Messiah, The Vice, Rebus and Shallow Grave. His theatre roles include: Yasmina Reza’s Art, God of Carnage and Heroes.

Academy Award-nominated American actress, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is best known for her role as Carmen in The Color of Money, as well as for her roles as Lindsey Brigman in The Abyss and Maid Marian in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Hayley Atwell was most recently seen in the films of  Brideshead Revisited and The Duchess. She has also starred in Major Barbara and The Man of Mode at the National Theatre and Women Beware Women for the RSC.

Book Tickets for A View from The Bridge

Spring Awakeningn at Novello Theatre

Following a sensational European premiere at the Lyric Hammersmith,  where it won multiple 5 star reviews, Spring Awakening transfers to the Novello Theatre from 21 March.

Frank Wedekind’s groundbreaking 1890s play was a daring exploration of teenage sexual awakening set against a backdrop of religious and parental repression. Acclaimed writer Steven Sater and songwriter Duncan Sheik’s new musical version retains the period setting of the original and introduces a superb collection of contemporary songs that serve to express the private anguish and ecstasy of the young characters. Stunning 21st century design and superb performances by the predominantly young cast combine to create an exhilarating energy that drives a remarkably compelling and timeless story.

Book tickets for Spring Awakening

Peter Pan Kensington Gardens – a magical summer event

Peter Pan will return home for the first time in over 100 years when a new production of JM Barrie’s “PETER PAN”, written by Tanya Ronder, will be performed this summer in a specially designed tent in Kensington Gardens. As JM Barrie wrote in “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”:

“Standing on the ledge he could see trees far away, which were doubtless the Kensington Gardens, and the moment he saw them he entirely forgot that he was now a little boy in a nightgown, and away he flew, right over the houses into the Gardens.”

This new production of “PETER PAN” will be directed by Ben Harrison. A former associate director of the Almeida Theatre, Ben Harrison is one of the world’s leading exponents of site-specific theatre. “PETER PAN” will be designed by multi-Olivier Award winning William Dudley. He has worked regularly at the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre and in the West End and he has an international reputation for his work creating 3D virtual environments. Tanya Ronder has a reputation for outstanding adaptations of classic works including her award-winning “Vernon God Little” for the Young Vic and “Blood Wedding” for the Almeida

Book Tickets for Peter Pan at Kensington Gardens

Austentatious, A new musical at the Landor Theatre

Peter Huntley is proud to present the British premiere of AUSTENTATIOUS in March 2009. Fresh from a sell-out run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, new musical comedy AUSTENTATIOUS is a love letter to the theatre. Stage manager Sam is stretched to breaking point during a chaotic new production of Pride and Prejudice. Will the cast learn to stop arguing? Will Mr Darcy choose the right girl? Will those tap shoes ever come in handy? Find out at the Landor Theatre in March 2009!

AUSTENTATIOUS will feature Cassidy Janson (Tick Tick Boom, Wicked, Only the Brave) as Sam, Simon Lipkin (Avenue Q, Footloose, The Wedding Singer) as Blake, Richard Meek (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Rocky Horror Show) as David, Fem Belling (Hairspray, Footloose) as Emily, Jenna Boyd (Les Misérables, Acorn Antiques) as Jessica, Lucy Mills (Simply Cinderella) as Lauren and Ilan Goodman (Old Vic 24 Hour Plays, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Glass Menagerie) as Dominic.

AUSTENTATIOUS was created by emerging musical theatre writers Matt Board, Jane Caplow, Kate Galvin, Luisa Hinchliff and Joe Slabe. The group began their collaboration whilst studying musical theatre at Goldmiths, University of London.

The UK premiere of AUSTENTATIOUS will be directed by Lotte Wakeham. Most recently, Lotte has assisted Matthew Warchus on The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic, and directed the acclaimed Language of Love Shakespeare festival at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, which accompanied Peter Hall’s production of Love’s Labour Lost. She has championed new writers, winning last year’s Cameron Mackintosh New Writing Festival with her production of Play on Words by Tom Crawshaw.

Following his success as Musical Director of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Union Theatre, Chris Mundy joins our team as Musical Director. AUSTENTATIOUS will be designed by Sophie Mosberger, a finalist of the 2007 Linbury Prize and recipient of the Royal Opera House design bursary. She was the set designer of the recent sell-out Union Theatre production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Information on AUSTENTATIOUS

Music and Lyrics by Matt Board and Joe Slabe
Book by Matt Board, Jane Caplow, Kate Galvin, Luisa Hinchliff and Joe Slabe
Producer: Peter Huntley
Director: Lotte Wakeham
Musical Director: Chris Mundy
Designer: Sophie Mosberger
Lighting: Will Reynolds
Choreography: Tim Jackson

AUSTENTATIOUS plays at the Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, London, SW9 9PH from 4 to 28 March,
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday matinees (8, 15, 22 March) at 3pm. Tickets available from the

Landor Theatre box office: www.landortheatre.co.uk and 020 7737 7276.

Jerry Springer to Star in Chicago

HOT NEWS JUST ANNOUNCED FROM THE WEST END SENSATION CHICAGO

US talk show king Jerry Springer will make his West End debut on 1 June when he stars as slick lawyer Billy Flynn in the smash hit musical CHICAGO. He will star in the role for a strictly limited season until 11 July.

CHICAGO is currently booking until 27 March 2010.

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