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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Preview: Beauty And The Beast at Sunderland Empire

Birmingham Royal Ballet Presents
Beauty And The Beast
Sunderland Empire
Thursday 28th – Saturday 30th March 2019

Birmingham Royal Ballet will return to Sunderland Empire with the enchanting and sumptuous production of Beauty and the Beast from 28 – 30 March 2019 for 4 performances only.
The Ball Scene
Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet; photo: Bill Cooper

Prepare to witness transformations, wild waltzes, soaring birds and a relationship between Belle and the Beast that is at first terrifying, but ultimately serene and beautiful in David Bintley's glorious Gothic ballet.

Delia Mathews as Belle and 
Tyrone Singleton as the Beast; photo: Bill Cooper
A cruel Prince, cursed to spend the rest of his life living in a fantastical castle with the animals he callously hunted, finds salvation in the heart of a beautiful girl. Caught stealing a single rose, Belle’s desperate father exchanges his youngest daughter’s freedom for his own life. In his distant castle the Beast, stripped of his handsome features and his very humanity, must win her heart, or spend the rest of his life in bitter solitude...


First Steps: Beauty and the Beast
Want to bring children aged 3+ to their first ballet? Why not join us for First Steps: Beauty and the Beast on Thursday 28 March at 1pm for an hour long, fun and interactive show. Tickets for for First Steps: Beauty and the Beast: http://bit.ly/BRB1stSteps #Ad

Birmingham Royal Ballet - Class On Stage
Ever wondered what a ballet dancer does to prepare for a day of rehearsal and performance? This is your chance to watch an open Company class on stage and find out. Tickets for Birmingham Royal Ballet - Class On Stage: http://bit.ly/BRBclassSund #Ad

Ballet myth busting with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Brandon Lawrence

Ahead of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s national tour of Beauty and the Beast, dancer Brandon Lawrence discusses five commonly held misconceptions about the world of ballet.

1. Ballet revolves around old fashioned stories of princes and fairies
Delia Mathews as Belle and
Tyrone Singleton as the Beast; photo: Bill Cooper
Ballet and simply dance in general are becoming more and more mainstream, including productions where many personal stories are being told. Classical ballets like Swan Lake or The Nutcracker are the foundations of any classical ballet company, but people have realised that, to appeal to a greater audience, it’s important to explore numerous themes. For example, at Birmingham Royal Ballet we perform adaptations of famous literature like Romeo and Juliet or Far From the Madding Crowd, alongside ballets based a wide range of themes, like conservation in ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, or science in E=mc2, or more abstract, physical pieces as part of our Ballet Now programme.  There really is something for everyone.

2. Ballet is formal and elitist 
Delia Mathews as Belle with
Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as the Ravens; photo: Bill Cooper
It’s about breaking down the barriers. The idea that ballet is formal and elitist is fading. You don’t need to dress up to go to the ballet. At Birmingham Royal Ballet we hold a variety of events which are inclusive not only to the young, elderly and people from a diverse range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, but also to those with a disability. For example, we have recently introduced relaxed performances of full-length ballets into our repertoire, which are designed for people with an autistic spectrum condition, learning disability or sensory and communication difficulties. Also, we so proud of our associate company Freefall – a professional dance company for talented adults with severe learning disabilities.

3. Ballet is really expensive
Delia Mathews as Belle and
Iain Mackay as the Prince; photo: Roy Smiljanic
Whilst I can’t deny that theatre tickets can be expensive, a ticket to the ballet is similar in price or even cheaper than a musical or a football match. When you consider the hundreds of people in involved – dancers, orchestra, technical crew, wardrobe staff etc – it’s good value for money. Also, as ballet is moving forward as an art form and becoming more accessible, we’re also striving to break down barriers to entry with discounts for children and groups, sponsorship, deals for first time attendees etc. Therefore, it’s not as expensive as people may think. There may even be added benefits to tickets like talks, backstage tours and open days. Also, World Ballet Day is a great free online introduction which is broadcast live on Facebook every October.

4. Ballet is not for men
Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Ravens; photo: Bill Cooper
When I was in training at the Royal Ballet School there were more men than ladies in my year. I think it’s actually becoming more of a cool thing to dance. After all, the beginnings of ballet way back in the 17th century started with men! All ballet dancers are very strong and have incredible stamina. Many footballs and athletes even use ballet as part of their training. Male dancers in particular have impressive upper body strength because we have to lift our partners about above our heads. The idea that ballet is not for men is a definite myth.

5. You need to have an in-depth knowledge of ballet in order to enjoy it
Iain Mackay as the Beast and
Michael O'Hare as the Merchant; photo: Roy Smiljanic
Everyone can enjoy watching ballet – the physicality, the story or the live music – without knowing anything about the technique or the history. Like any another form of art or entertainment, it’s all about your individual interpretation. There could be many things in a ballet you do or don’t like, or don’t understand, but as a whole it’s what you take from it, what influence or effect it has on you. The important thing is how you may connect to the story or the joy you may feel in the energy of the performance. Mixing all this with a live orchestra is something Birmingham Royal Ballet like to welcome all to experience.


First Steps: Beauty and the Beast
Want to bring children aged 3+ to their first ballet? Why not join us for First Steps: Beauty and the Beast on Thursday 28 March at 1pm for an hour long, fun and interactive show. Tickets for for First Steps: Beauty and the Beast: http://bit.ly/BRB1stSteps #Ad

Birmingham Royal Ballet - Class On Stage
Ever wondered what a ballet dancer does to prepare for a day of rehearsal and performance? This is your chance to watch an open Company class on stage and find out. Tickets for Birmingham Royal Ballet - Class On Stage: http://bit.ly/BRBclassSund #Ad

Preview: Diary of an Expat at Newcastle Alphabetti


Paper Smokers/Fumatori di Carta presents:
Diary of an Expat
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 2nd – Friday 5th April 2019

Performed by Cecilia Gragnani
Directed by Katharina Reinthaller
Written by Cecilia Gragnani, Jvan Sica and Loredana de Michelis

a vital reminder of how destabilising Brexit will be for vast numbers of people who call the UK homeThe Stage

A comic story of the encounter between a modern migrant and London – a contemporary El Dorado craved by generations of young Europeans – Diary of an Expat looks at the road to becoming a British citizen, embracing a new nationality whilst staying true to your roots, and the knocks your identity takes when no country claims you as their own. From amusing miscommunications to bewildering legal technicalities, Cecilia delves into the day-to-day of living in a country that can’t pronounce your surname.

When she arrived in the UK from Italy nine years ago, with a suitcase full of hopes, dreams and bags of pasta, Cecilia’s mission began: trying to become British whilst remaining deeply Italian. She started her exciting life abroad with thrilling adventures, a successful career and a vibrant urban lifestyle… kind of. Now, after numerous dubious jobs and weird encounters, Cecilia finds herself alone among the chaos of multi-ethnic, glamorous London whilst navigating the ever-present uncertainty of Brexit. Now turning her desires into reality has become a titanic endeavour as the European dream of life abroad slowly drifts away.

Writer and performer Cecilia Gragnani said, “The experience of the expat is fundamentally a lonely one. While interviewing many expats, I understood that, even among those who had settled in a community and felt part of it, the common feeling was a sense of loneliness. With this show I wanted expats like me to feel less lonely, to have their stories heard, to have a show where they could identify with the character, where they could see themselves and their journey, and perhaps feel less lonely afterwards. 

“I wanted to try and portray these weird creatures who have taken control of the British Eden according to some political propaganda. We live in a society where we are encouraged to fear those who are different from us. I believe the opposite is necessary and that if we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes we can nurture empathy. I hope this show will create a dialogue between immigrants and native communities. This is not a critique of life in the UK, it’s an exploration of life in the UK from the perspective of a European who arrived welcomed, ended up being barely tolerated and might have no other option but to leave.”

Cecilia Gragnani (pronounced gra-GNa-ne), is a proud Italian and devoted supporter of AC Milan. She came to the UK in 2008 to study at Drama Centre, and since has been working in the UK and Italy as an actress and singer. She founded Fumatori di Carta in Italy in 2008, and it became London-based international storytelling collective Paper Smokers in 2014. Their work includes theatre, music, installations, visual arts and film.

Katharina Reinthaller is a director and dramaturg who trained at University of Vienna and with StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Directing work includes the Scotsman Fringe First award-winning Labels (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Adelaide & Perth Fringe, Singapore Fringe, University of North Carolina), Ölum ve Kiz/Death and the Maiden (Millfield Theatre, The Arcola Theatre), Every Day (University of Arts Wimbledon), To She or Not to She (Lyric Hammersmith), A Gaggle of Saints (The Albany Studio), Fascination (Miniaturists Festival), Tortoise Redux (RichMix, The New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich).

On The Web:

Cast & Creatives:
Performed by Cecilia Gragnani and Steve Wickenden (voice over)
Directed by Katharina Reinthaller 
Written by Cecilia Gragnani, Jvan Sica and Loredana de Michelis
Set design by Rasa Selemonavičiūtė     
Sound design by Neil McKeown

Movement director Mala Cherga Theatre

Running Time: 60 mins
Suitable for ages 14+
Tickets are ‘Pay What You Feel’

Preview: AniMalcolm at Darlington Hippodrome

David Baddiel Story Takes To The Stage

Darlington Hippodrome
Thursday 18 - Friday 19 April 2019.

To many, David Baddiel is known for his award-winning work as a comedian and presenter including Newman and Baddiel, Fantasy Football, Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned and his platinum number one single Three Lions. Less is known about his writing of children’s books such as AniMalcolm – the stage adaptation of which is coming to Darlington Hippodrome on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 April.

Since making his debut with The Parent Agency in 2015, his children’s novels have gone on to sell over one million copies. One such novel is AniMalcolm, a runaway bestseller which tells the story of Malcolm, a boy who doesn’t like animals whilst his family are wild about them. Now AniMalcolm has been adapted for the stage as a gloriously funny musical from the award-winning Story Pocket Theatre, and after a smash-hit debut at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the production will play at Darlington Hippodrome as part of a major UK tour.

“AniMalcolm was my third book for children, and I think it’s my funniest” says David. “Animals are loveable, cute, sweet, friendly, and nice to cuddle, but they are also, always, funny.”

The amount of animal memes now swirling around the internet is testament to how entertaining we find our furry companions, but why exactly do we find them so funny? David explains; “They are what we in comedy call deadpan, meaning their faces never really change. So in almost any situation you put an animal in, they always just look like ‘OK, this is happening’. Which if they’re falling off a sofa, or running into a plate glass window, or eating a pair of sunglasses, is definitely the funniest face to make.”

A self-confessed animal-lover, David has always been interested in our curious relationship with our pets. “I myself have four cats and a guinea pig. I wrote AniMalcolm partly because I’ve never lived without animals, and I’m often struck by how wonderful it is that pets just happily accept living with you in your house, even though they haven’t paid rent, or had an interview to become your lodger”.

“But then I wondered what it would be like if you didn’t immediately feel drawn to animals, or find them cute or funny, what a strange thing that would be. So I created Malcolm, who just doesn’t get animals, but lives in a house full of them. And the story took off from there.”

Now AniMalcolm has been adapted for the stage by Story Pocket Theatre and is set to tour the UK throughout Spring 2019. “It has been such a thrill to see AniMalcolm brought to life on stage, and as a musical! Story Pocket have done a wonderful job with this adaptation, and it will be a real treat seeing Malcolm adventuring around the UK with his menagerie of animals in tow”.

For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk

Preview: The Nutcracker at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

English Youth Ballet is also offering an exciting opportunity for 100 boys and girls aged 8-18 to perform in The Nutcracker at the Tyne Theatre.
English Youth Ballet present: The Nutcracker
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Thursday 11th & Friday 12th July 2019

Plus auditions on Thursday 25th April

Tyne Theatre & Opera House are thrilled to welcome the superb English Youth Ballet back to their stage. The company were last at Tyne Theatre in 2016 with their stunning performance of Giselle. English Youth Ballet is also offering an exciting opportunity for 100 boys and girls aged 8-18 to perform in The Nutcracker.

English Youth Ballet present a dazzling, colourful and appealing interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, featuring an impressive cast of up to 100 young dancers.

The ensemble of dances, Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music and the magic of the sets and beautiful costumes create Clara’s dream of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Godfather Drosselmeyer gives Clara the Nutcracker Doll and her love for him transforms him back to the Nutcracker Prince. He takes Clara through the land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets where dances are celebrated in her honour.

Now in its twenty first year, English Youth Ballet has gained in popularity and has an established reputation for classic and dramatic productions of the famous full length classical ballets. With professional dancers dancing the leading roles, the company gives young dancers throughout the UK a wonderful performance opportunity to dance alongside the principals in solo and corps de ballet roles.

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson said: "It's an absolute pleasure to welcome the English Youth Ballet back to our stage. This wonderful company is led by Janet Lewis MBE who had a distinguished career with The Royal Ballet, and they always guarantee stunning productions. The auditions will give young dancers a chance to perform in our beautiful Victorian Theatre alongside professional dancers, which is an excellent opportunity.”

Auditions – Thursday 25th April

English Youth Ballet is offering an exciting opportunity for 100 boys and girls aged 8-18 to perform in The Nutcracker. Auditions will take place at Tyne Theatre & Opera House.
Ages 8 – 11 years: 4.30pm – 6.00pm
Ages 12 – 18: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
This is a fabulous opportunity for young dancers to take part in a professional ballet.
Dancers must arrive at the start time as the audition will take the full time. Registration prior to the audition is recommended, but you may also attend on the day.
For audition pack and registration form please contact English Youth Ballet.
Theatre Website: www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk  
Tickets are priced £13.50 - £21.50 (concessions available) Group booking deal: 9 tickets at concession price plus 1 free.

Tickets: http://bit.ly/TyneNutcracker #Ad

Preview: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor© Dreamcoat at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor© Dreamcoat
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 6th April 2019

Union J star Jaymi Hensley will make his major musical debut in the title role in Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sparkling family musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor© Dreamcoat playing Newcastle Theatre Royal in April.

A member of 2013’s BBC ‘British Breakthrough Band’ of the year, Jaymi will don the Technicolor© Dreamcoat having risen to fame on The X Factor. Union J went on to have a top ten album and a major UK tour and Jaymi later appeared on a number of hit TV shows, including Celebrity Masterchef (BBC One).

Jaymi Hensley said: “I cannot describe how excited and honoured I am to be stepping into the prestigious coloured coat! When I think of iconic roles in musical theatre Joseph was always one that I dreamt of playing growing up! And to finally say that I am going to play it is a dream”come true! I cannot wait to meet all of the loyal Joseph fans and bring you my take of this amazing dream role.”

Full of life and colour, the magical musical features unforgettable and timeless songs including Go, Go, Go Joseph, Any Dream Will Do, Jacob and Sons and Close Every Door To Me.

Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colours, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the first of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals to be performed publicly. Seen by an estimated 26 million people, and counting, Joseph continues to enthral audiences around the world.

Photos: Pamela Raith

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor© Dreamcoat plays Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 April 2019. Tickets are from £16.00 and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.

Preview: The BonBons Cabaret at Newcastle Alphabetti

Bonnie and The Bonnettes are bringing THE BONBONS CABARET back to Alphabetti Theatre throughout 2019!

Thursday 28th March 2019
The BonBons Cabaret
God Save the Queens

Whether it’s Beyonce, Mariah Carey, or Mary Queen of Scots, women have always got the job done. From a culturally shifting Christmas number one or running the entire country of Scotland they have inspired generations to be just like them.

But what makes a Queen? Is it a throne? A King? A number one album? A worldwide following screaming ‘we love you’? Or is it a really nice haircut with highlights? Well, we’re still trying to figure that out.

Join Bonnie and The Bonnettes and The House of Love for the return of The BonBons Cabaret.

Please note that crowns and tiaras are allowed but must be higher than 4 inches.  Full line-up to be announced soon.

When: Thursday 28th March 2019
Time: 9.00pm
Tickets:  £7 Full Price / £5 Concession (Student, OAP, Artist, Unwaged)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Running Time: approx. 2 hours including interval

Friday 7th June 2019
The BonBons Cabaret

Bring out the banners, write those placards, paint on your glitter, and fly your flag because we may be queer all year but tonight is the night to paint the town!

Did you leave a good job in the city? Are you sick of working for the man every night and day?

Well pour yourself a cup of ambition, yawn, stretch, and come alive, because heaven really is a place on earth! Be a drag, be a queen, get out the shoes that were made for walking, for tonight we are going to do it our way!

Join Bonnie and The Bonnettes and The House of Love for a night of celebration as The BonBons Cabaret stands loud and proud!
Full line-up to be announced soon.

Saturday 26th October 2019
The BonBons Cabaret
The Haunted House of Love

Shhh! Did you hear that? Can you feel that? Did you just move?

Bonnie and The Bonnettes have been called into Alphabetti Theatre to turn off the lights and call on the spirits of yesteryear. There has been some strange goings-on; unrecognisable noises, dark shadows, and misplaced equipment, and now it’s time to go beyond the grave to find those responsible. Ouija board. Heat sensitive camera. A dictaphone. An overly dramatic soundscape.

They have it sorted. They ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Join Bonnie and The Bonnettes and The House of Love for a Halloween special that is bound to feature some uninvited guests. Please note that mobile phones must be turned off as they might interfere with our very scientific and very expensive demonologist equipment.

Full line-up to be announced soon.

Tuesday 31st December 2019
The BonBons Cabaret
Let the Countdown Begin

I’ll have a vowel please, and another, and a consonant, and another.

The teams have been picked, the letters shuffled, the dictionary is in the corner and now all that’s left is to play the game. Who will see in the New Year with us? Who will stick to their New Year’s Resolution? Is next year going to be that much better? Well, we can start by putting our
best foot forward, as this year we will finally have 2020 vision.

Join Bonnie and The Bonnettes and The House of Love for a New Year’s Eve special that will see 2019 in with vowels in one hand and consonants in the other. Please note that neither Rachel Riley nor Carol Vorderman will be attending this event.

Full line-up to be announced soon.

On The Web:
Facebook: @bonniebonnettes 
Twitter: @bonniebonnettes

Photos: Von Fox