We talk to Jack Ellis about the ultra scary ‘Wait Until Dark’ at Richmond Theatre

Audrey Hepburn earned an Academy Award nomination for the 1967 psychological thriller Wait Until Dark, writes Nicky Sweetland.

But fans of the film will soon be able to experience Fredrick Knott’s terrifying play – upon which the screenplay was based – when a new production embarks on a nationwide tour next week.

The play, which is set amidst the social turbulence of 60’s London, stars Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street) and Karina Jones (The Vagina Monologues and Crystal Clear) alongside Jack Ellis (Prime Suspect and Bad Girls) who took some time off from rehearsals to tell us about the new production.

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The play follows the story of Suzy, a blind woman who, left alone in her apartment, becomes embroiled with a group of conmen hatching an elaborate scam and Jack explains, “It’s a fantastic piece made better by the fact that we have Karina Jones, who is a blind actress, playing the Audrey Hepburn part. I think it’s the first time it’s ever been done. I think, were we to do it with a sighted actress, it might be slightly dated but having Karina adds a huge amount of poignancy and a totally different feel. It underlines disability and our attitudes towards disability.”

With her husband removed from the house, Suzy is left to fend for herself but with the phone line cut and the house plunged into darkness, how will she outwit her tormentors?

“Weirdly she becomes more and more resolute as the play unfolds.” Jack said.

Jack Ellis is perhaps best known for playing the dastardly prison guard Jim Fenner in the ITV television series Bad Girls. His previous theatre credits include A Clockwork Orange, Richard III and Hamlet (all for the Royal Shakespeare Company) but he was most recently seen onstage in the acclaimed UK touring production of Shawshank Redemption.

Jack, once again, portrays an unsavoury character in the new stage production of Waiting For Dark, which is often quoted as one of the top 100 scariest films of all time.

“Fans of the film will love it, but I think they’ll get a lot more from it. The film is just a scary film and this has got a lot of comedy in it as well.” Jack tells us, “It’s a bit like the Woman in Black, meets Hustle, meets Harold Pinter, meets the scariest film you’ve ever seen, particularly at the end.”

Waiting Until Dark will run at the Richmond Theatre from 4 – 9 September 

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Martin Shaw returns to the Richmond Theatre

Martin Shaw leads the cast in the timely UK premiere of Gore Vidal’s award winning political thriller about ambition, political scandal, ruthlessness… and the race for the white house.

Written before the battles of Trump vs Clinton and May vs Corbyn, Vidal’s drama of dirty politics never seemed more real or relevant. At a time of political chaos, The Best Man mirrors the often surprising results of campaigning and the unscrupulous world of politics.

Two opposing presidential party candidates are neck and neck in an unscrupulous battle for the nomination. The only thing that separates the esteemed ex-Secretary of State and his newcomer populist opponent is an endorsement from a respected ex-President. But where does compromise end and corruption begin? And who in the end will be proven to be “the best man”?

One of the UK’s most respected actors, Martin Shaw, rose to stardom in the late seventies in The Professionals, launching a career that has hardly seen him out of the limelight. He is best known for starring in the multi award winning BBC drama Judge John Deed and more recently Inspector George Gently. On stage, his revelatory performance as Lord Goring in Peter Hall’s production of An Ideal Husband earned him a Tony nomination and the coveted New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. Other West End triumphs include the acclaimed Twelve Angry MenAre You Lonesome Tonight? and A Man For All Seasons. He returns to the stage in a role made famous by Henry Fonda in the award-winning film adaptation of The Best Man.

Born into a distinguished political family, Gore Vidal was a prolific writer known for the waspish wit, which peppered his essays, novels, screenplays and Broadway plays. Among his most famous works are Myra Breckinridge and Lincoln. The Best Man premiered on Broadway in 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play’. Vidal adapted it into a film with the same title in 1964 starring Henry Fonda,Cliff Robertson, and Lee Tracy who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the crafty ex-President. The play received a major revival on Broadway in 2012 starring James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury, and earned two Tony award nominations including ‘Best Revival of a Play’.

The Best Man will visit Richmond Theatre as part of its UK tour from Monday 2nd – Saturday 7th October prior to a West End run. 

Cel Spellman joins the cast of Talk Radio at the Old Red Lion

Cel Spellman (Host of the Sunday Chart Show on Radio 1; Cold Feet, ITV; Cucumber, Channel 4) will join the cast of Talk Radio at the Old Red Lion.

He will costar alongside George Turvey (No Villain, Old Red Lion, Trafalgar Studios; Batman, Live arena tour; Artistic Director of PapaTango theatre company), Andy Secombe (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones; Mr Gillie, Finborough Theatre) Molly McNerney and Matthew Jure (Grantchester, ITV; Downton Abbey, BBC1; The Great Train Robbery, BBC1 and EIFF Best Actor in a Feature Film nominee 2017) in Eric Bogosian’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, thirty years after its inaugural production in New York.

Barry Champlain is abrasive and forthright, the ultimate devil’s advocate, willing to argue just about any point. He lives for his radio show and the minor fame it brings him but his on-air persona is just that: a persona. Barry despises the people he talks to every day; he loathes their views and he abhors their adoration.

His listeners think they know him but Barry is not even sure he knows himself. He is careless and cold with his lover Linda, downright ugly to his best friend and collaborator Stu and spiteful of his producer, the man who made him, Dan. But above all, he detests himself for the lie he is living.

While freedom of the press has always been viewed as important, Bogosian’s play highlights that, in the wrong hands, this freedom can be used to baffle and create prejudice. In a post-truth age of fake news and continued attacks against the press, this landmark hit has never felt more relevant.

Director Sean Turner comments, I’m elated by the cast we’ve put together. Cel is an extraordinary talent and having a bona fide radio guy in the cast helps too! Matthew is going to be a phenom in the central role and I’m thrilled to be building on previous work with George and Andy. Molly is a rare find – she’s going to be huge.

Talk Radio will run at the Old Red Lion from 29th August – Saturday 23rd September

West End leading lady Emma Hatton takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

From starring in We Will Rock You to Evita, with Wicked along the way, Emma Hatton has cemented her position as one of the most sought after West End leading ladies in recent years.

But the ultra talented performer is also an acclaimed jazz singer and will be showcasing her sultry vocals at the Pizza Express Live in Birmingham and at the newly opened venue in Holborn later this year.

Emma is currently playing Eva Peron in Evita at the Phoenix Theatre and took some time off to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

My set list for my Pizza Express jazz gigs in October.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

Support from my friends and family.

What is your favourite Book?

Little Women.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

The Affair.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Restaurant, I love food.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

The Strawbs from Candyking, but they’ve changed the ingredients so they’re not so nice anymore.

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

A window cleaner or a jockey.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I bit my sister.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

I would probably say being moved up from standby to fulltime Elphaba.

What’s next? 

I’ve got my gigs at the Pizza Express on October 21st and 22nd.

Emma Hatton will be performing at Pizza Express Live Birmingham on 21 October 8:30pm and Pizza Express Live Holborn on 22 October 8pm. https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/emma-hatton

Carley Stenson takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Carley Stenson first rose to fame as Steph Cunningham in the Channel 4 television series Hollyoaks, but went on to star in the big budget stage musicals Legally Blond, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Spamalot and as Princess Fiona in Shrek.

She is now playing the iconic role of Fantine in Les Misérables and is one half of a Musical Theatre power couple, as her fiancé Danny Mac has just finished in On the Town at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and is about to star in Sunset Boulevard.

Carley took some time off to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

Les Miz

 

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

My family and friends support.

 

What is your favourite Book?

I loved the BFG when I was little and To Kill a Mockingbird

 

What are you currently watching on TV? 

We’ve been watching Suits and I love Nashville.

 

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

We try and squeeze it all in, but because we’re stagey we’d probably say dinner and then the theatre.

 

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I really like vegie Reversy Percys

 

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

This!

 

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I wasn’t that naughty, I was just a bit thick sometimes (which is no surprise if anyone knows me). I remember I used to have a habit of locking doors, either when I was in them or on the outside and I locked my uncle in the bathroom once and didn’t tell anyone and he was banging for ages. I remember when I was in South Africa – we were living over there, so I was about 5 – Rand, which was like a 50 pence piece over here. I had a game where I would throw it at the chandelier and the goal was to hit it, but I didn’t realise that the chandelier would smash. My Aunty, bless her, she loves me now but she hated me then.

 

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

It would be quite easy to say the career I’ve had but I think your friends say a lot about you so I’d have to say the company I keep.

 

What’s next? 

I’m contracted for a year in Les Miz, so that’s a while off, but I am getting married at the end of August so that’s my focus at the moment.

 

You can see Carley Stenson in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue www.lesmis.com

Concert-style Starlight Express to be staged at The Other Palace

The Other Palace have announced three concert-style workshop performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical STARLIGHT EXPRESS, in The Theatre at The Other Palace on Thursday 14 , Friday 15 andSaturday 16 September at 7.30pm.

Members of the original creative team of STARLIGHT EXPRESS will collaborate again, along with a group of carefully chosen actors and musicians to explore the piece. Focussing on the score and lyrics, and working for a week before the public showings, Andrew and the team will continue to work on the show in the daytime before evening performances, responding to audience reaction and feedback as they navigate the exciting process of revisiting this classic work.

STARLIGHT EXPRESS originally opened in the West End in 1984 where it ran for over 7000 performances, and continues to run in a purpose built venue in Bochum, Germany where more than 15 million people have seen it. The Bochum production celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.

The Other Palace opened in February 2017 as a new home for musical theatre. The Other Palace workshops are a great way to utilise what The Other Palace is all about; a place to discover, develop, explore and reimagine work, whether that be new or existing and established pieces.

All tickets are priced £25 and go on sale at 12.00noon on Friday 11 August. Tickets are only available from The Other Palace Box Office, online at theotherpalace.co.uk or by calling 020 7087 7900.

The Exorcist will be unleashed in London

“I’m telling you that ‘thing’ upstairs isn’t my daughter…”

Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel terrified an entire generation, The Exorcist will be unleashed onto the West End stage for the very first time in a uniquely theatrical experience directed by Sean Mathias and adapted for the stage by John Pielmeier.

Widely considered the scariest movie of all time, the film adaptation of The Exorcist sparked unprecedented worldwide controversy when it was released in cinemas in 1973. Winner of two Academy Awards, William Friedkin’s masterpiece saw audiences petrified to the point of passing out and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time.

“Oh please, Mother, make it stop! It’s hurting.”

When the medical profession fails to provide answers to young Regan’s strange symptoms her desperate mother Chris turns to a local priest for help. But before Father Damien can tackle what’s before him, he must overcome his own shaken beliefs, as this fight is for more than just one girl’s soul…

Sean Mathias has worked at the Royal National Theatre and many times in the West End and on Broadway, as well as extensively internationally. In 2009/2010 Sean’s production of Waiting For Godot played two seasons at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and toured the UK and internationally. In 2013 Godot played Broadway along with his production of Pinter’s No Man’s Land, the latter transferring to Wyndham’s Theatre in October 2017 starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and won Best Revival at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2016.

The Exorcist is designed by Olivier Award-winning Designer Anna Fleischle (Hangmen) with lighting by Tim Mitchell (RSC/Guys and Dolls), composition and sound design by Adam Cork (London Road) and illusion design is by Ben Hart (Impossible).

The Exorcist will play a strictly limited run at the Phoenix Theatre from 20 October 2017 to 10 March 2018. Tickets will go on general sale at 4pm on Friday 11 August.

Casting News: Full casting announced for Chekhov’s The Seagull at the Lyric Hammersmith

Full casting has been announced for Simon Stephens’s new version of Anton Chekhov’s highly renowned play, The Seagull, directed by Artistic Director Sean Holmes. Lloyd Cooney plays Jacob, Nicholas Gleaves plays Boris Trigorin, Lloyd Hutchinson plays Leo and Raphael Sowole plays Simeon. They join the previously announced Adelayo Adedayo, Michele Austin, Paul Higgins, Lesley Sharp, Cherrelle Skeete, Nicolas Tennant and Brian Vernel.

Unrequited love. Creative jealousy. Guns. Vodka. And Art.

Chekhov’s celebrated masterpiece is given vibrant new life in this dynamic new version by Olivier-award winning playwright Simon Stephens directed by Sean Holmes.

Switching effortlessly between the ridiculous and the profound The Seagull forensically examines the transcendence and destructiveness of love. The burning need to create Art and how harshly that need can be crushed permeates this classic play.

Adelayo Adedayo, Michele Austin, Lloyd Cooney, Nicholas Gleaves, Paul Higgins, Lloyd Hutchinson, Brian Vernel, Nicolas Tennant, Raphael Sowole, Cherrelle Skeete join the previously announced Lesley Sharp as Irina Arcadian.

Casting News: Gina Beck and David Shannon join the cast of Matilda

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical has announced its new adult cast with David Shannon playing Miss Trunchbull alongside Gina Beck as Miss Honey and Tom Edden and Marianne Benedict as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.

The full adult cast includes Keisha Amponsa Banson, Richard Astbury, David Birch, Maria Graciano, Karina Hind, Peter Houston, Katie Lee, Vicki Lee Taylor, Kris Manuel, Bryan Mottram, Tom Muggeridge, Emma Robotham-Hunt, Simon Shorten, Biancha Szynal, Callum Train and Robert Tregoning. The new children’s cast will be announced in due course.

Gina Beck (Miss Honey) is renowned for leading roles in musical theatre. Previous roles have included Glinda in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre & US Tour), Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Magnolia Hawks in Daniel Evan’s production of Show Boat (New London Theatre) and Cosette in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre).  A graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, her other theatre credits include Far From the Madding Crowd (The Watermill Theatre) and The Belle’s Stratagem (Southwark Playhouse) both directed by Jessica Swale, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change (Arts Theatre Upstairs), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Charing Cross Theatre), The Sound of Music (Kuala Lumpur), Peter Pan (Birmingham Rep), The Kissing Dance (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Imagine This (Plymouth Theatre Royal).

Marianne Benedict (Mrs Wormwood) has most recently appeared as Grizabella in Cats (UK Tour). Her other credits include Women On A Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium), Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre).

Tom Edden (Mr Wormwood) is known for his work across stage, television and film. His theatre work includes Amadeus (National Theatre), One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre, Adelphi Theatre, UK Tour & Music Box Theatre, Broadway) for which he received Tony and Critic’s Circle nominations and won The Drama Desk Award for his role as Alfie, and Oliver! (Sheffield Crucible) for which he was nominated for a UK Theatre Award for his role as Fagin.

David Shannon (Miss Trunchbull) is known for playing iconic stage roles in the West End and beyond.  His extensive stage credits include The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Chris in Miss Saigon (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane & UK Tour) and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre). Other credits include, The Beautiful Game (Cambridge Theatre), Romeo and Juliet, Threepenny Opera and Sweeney Todd (Gate Theatre, Dublin), Martin Guerre (Prince Edward Theatre), Cats (New London Theatre) and Whistle Down the Wind (Aldwych Theatre).

Seen by over 7 million people across 60 cities and playing more than 5300 performances worldwide, Matilda The Musical is now preparing for its New Zealand premiere at The Civic in Auckland in August 2017 as well as the first UK and Ireland tour which will begin in March 2018, running alongside the continuing West End production. Winner of 86 major international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the hit show is now the longest running production to play at the Cambridge Theatre.

Inspired by Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews.

Having swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, winning a record-breaking seven awards, the New York production of Matilda The Musical opened in April 2013 at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre and was celebrated on 10 “Top Ten” lists for 2013, including TIME Magazine’s #1 Show of the Year. The show also won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway.

In July 2016, the Australian production broke further records by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated. Having also won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, the Australian production has also played sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

www.matildathemusical.com

Casting News: Terence Wilton and James Byng to star in The Woman in Black

Now celebrating its 29th year, Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK at The Fortune Theatre is still scaring the socks off London audiences and from the 29th August the play will star Terence Wilton as ‘Arthur Kipps’ and James Byng as ‘The Actor’.

Terence Wilton’s recent theatre credits include ‘Lord Lonsdale’ in “William Wordsworth” (Theatre By The Lake); “Cat On A Hot In Roof” (Theatre Royal Northampton) and “The Sound of Music” (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). For the RSC he recently played ‘Baptista Minola’ in “The Taming of the Shrew”. His television credits include “Revelations – End Of Days”, “The Crusades: The Crescent and the Cross”; “The Forsyte Saga”; “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries”; “Henry VI part 1”; “Some Distant Shadow”; “Dial M for Murder”; “Vanity Fair” and “Doctor Who”.

 

James Byng’s previous theatre credits include ‘Toulouse-Lautrec’ in “Moulin Rouge!” (Secret Cinema); ‘Edgar Rychenkov’ in “Noël” (National Opera House, Ireland); “Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales” (Bargehouse, South Bank); ‘Group Captain Mandrake’ in “Dr Strangelove” (Secret Cinema); ‘Nick Willow’ in “Carries War” (UK Tour); ‘Posner’ in “The History Boys” (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Theatre Royal Bath UK Tour); ‘Frodo’ in “The Lord of the Rings” (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); “Les Misérables” (Palace Theatre); “Oliver!” (London Palladium); “Hey! Mr Producer” (Lyceum).

Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel, THE WOMAN IN BLACK tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’. He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, but as they delve further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. The borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins creep.

http://thewomaninblack.com