Matthew Kelly and Josefina Gabrielle to star in new stage adaptation of The Box of Delights at Wilton’s Music Hall

Matthew Kelly and Josefina Gabrielle are to star in the brand-new stage adaptation of The Box of Delights.

The original production is the first time Poet Laureate John Masefield’s festive classic has been reimagined for the stage, and will be brought to life by an ensemble cast in the gloriously Christmassy surroundings of Wilton’s Music Hall.

Joining Kelly and Gabrielle as part of the stellar cast will be Mark Extance, Safiyya Ingar, Tom Kanji, Samuel Simmonds, Rosalind Steele and Alistair Toovey.

Matthew Kelly is an Olivier-award winning actor best known for television and stage acting and presenting family favourites Stars In Their Eyes and Game For a Laugh. Having appeared in several West End productions; Of Mice and Men, Waiting For Godot, Funny Peculiar and Sign of the Times to name a few, Matthew has most recently been appearing in Desire Under The Elms at the Sheffield Crucible. Three-time Olivier-nominated Josefina Gabrielle has appeared in countless West End shows, including Stepping Out, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Sweet Charity and Merrily We Roll Along. Her television credits include Miranda, Doctors, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Heartbeat.

The original great British children’s literary classic, which has inspired authors from C S Lewis to J K Rowling, The Box Of Delights was reinvented as an award-winning BBC television show in the 1980s and became an instant cult classic, creating a fanbase of thousands around the world. This brand-new stage show, written by beloved children’s author Piers Torday whose work includes the bestselling Last Wild trilogy and new novel There May Be A Castle, tells the story of young orphan Kay Harker, the boy who must save Christmas. On the train home for the holidays he encounters an old magician, Cole Hawlings, who tasks Kay with protecting his Box of Delights, a wondrous device with time travelling powers. And so begins a tale of adventure that transports Kay through time and space, as he must protect the Box against Cole’s nemesis, the evil sorcerer Abner Brown.

Matthew Kelly says I couldn’t be more delighted to be returning to Wilton’s, a magical venue and the perfect setting for the Christmas classic The Box of Delights. How they will achieve the effects of snow, flood, talking animals, miniaturised children and flying cars in this exciting time-travel adventure I have no idea. If anybody can do it, Justin Audibert directing and Tom Piper designing can and that’s why I’m on board. Hurrah.’

Josefina Gabrielle says ‘I’m so excited to be joining the cast of The Box of Delights. And I can’t wait to see what this incredible creative team has in store for us in bringing this wonderful story to life at the very special Wilton’s Music Hall this Christmas.’

Packed with Christmas spirit, festive fun and magic, this classic family show is brought to life by an acclaimed creative team including Director Justin Audibert (Royal Shakespeare Company; National Theatre) and Olivier award-winning Designer Tom Piper and takes place in the wonderful Wilton’s Music Hall, a venue so Christmassy the smell of mulled wine positively oozes from the walls…

The Box of Delights will be at Wilton’s Music Hall from 01 December 2017 to 06 January 2018

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Interview: We chat to Liza Pulman about what it’s like to sing Streisand

As one third of the comedy vocal group Fascinating Aïda, Liza Pulman has gained a reputation for presenting exciting cabaret coupled with an exceptional vocal ability, writes Nicky Sweetland.

The group has gained high praise over the last decade for their insightful and irreverent performances, but are currently taking a break, which has enabled Pulman to embark on some extremely successful solo projects.

Last year the ultra talented singer thrilled audiences with her Songs of Hollywood show, but her new foray holds even greater challenges for the self-confessed film fanatic.

Liza is taking on the musical catalogue of the legendary Barbra Streisand and is under no illusion about the level of anticipation from fans.

Liza told me, “The repertoire is a challenge because it’s huge and it’s just me. You can’t do Barbra Streisand without doing some of those big songs. What is so lovely is the range of material that you can pick from and it’s what I really love to do.”

Liza grew up in a theatrical household – her mother is an actress and her father was a writer.

“My musical sensibilities have never been of my generation. I grew up singing music from the 20s, 30s and 40s and I had an act with my sister when we were little called the Pulman Sisters. We would sing close harmony at my parents theatrical parties.”

Like many performers, the icons from her childhood have hugely influenced Liza in her career, but it was with Streisand that she really found affinity.

“As I’ve got older as a singer, I’ve found that vocally we handle repertoire in a similar way.”

In her new show entitled simply Liza Sings Streisand, she has found there is even more similarity between her performance and that of the celebrated star of stage and screen.

“I realised quite quickly that she [Barbra Streisand] is absolutely wrapped up in the DNA of my musical life. What I love about her, as a singer is her bravery and her choices. She has an incredible ability to sing through a phase.”

A six-piece band accompanies Liza, ensuring there is an authentic richness to the sound.

Liza said, “It’s a night packed full of Streisand songs, so there’s a lot of great music and a lot of fun to be had. It’s a night of Joy.”

Ticket for the next few gigs at London’s Crazy Coqs Cabaret are virtually sold out, but you can catch Liza Sings Streisand at other venues around the country.

The show will also return to London in the autumn with engagements at both Cadogan Hall and Wilton’s Music Hall.

You can find all of the details on Liza’s website http://www.lizapulman.com

Improvised crossover cabaret, Boris and Sergey’s Astonishing Freakatorium, comes to Wilton’s Music Hall

Wilton’s Music Hall is preparing for a rather interesting new show later this month, as master puppeteer Henry Maynard brings his new adult show to the east London venue.

Best known for creating the spectacular puppets used in the National Theatre production of War Horse, Henry Maynard has collaborated with a highly skilled team of expert puppeteers, who have been working together in sweaty and physically compromising conditions since 2010. Boris and Sergey’s Astonishing Freakatorium is an improvised crossover cabaret featuring tabletop puppetry and character comedy for discerningly twisted adult audiences.

Following sell out runs at the Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringes and gathering three awards, 10 five star reviews (and counting), puppetry’s Balkan bad boys Boris & Sergey; simply the greatest vaudevillian double act ever conceived for the small stage, are back in London with freak show cabaret like no other.

Starring a variety of puppet characters, Boris & Sergey follow the tragic story of Pierre le Petit Tête Gustav and his wildly deranged tap dancing companion Juan Tamino. Audiences must hold on to their hats as they delve into a titillation filled world of the macabre. Boris & Sergey recreate traditional scenes of geeking, feats of incredible fortitude, endeavours of unimaginable physical endurance with formidable artistry, all whilst beguiling with their roughish wit and erudite jocularity.

Boris faces El Pollo Diablo (or ‘Betsy’, as he likes to call her) in a live onstage cock fight; and there is ample opportunity for audience interaction, improvisation and comedy banter between the two brothers in ‘super spooky storytime’.

Performed by the man behind puppetry’s Balkan bad boys Amused Moose Finalist, Henry Maynard presents a one man show featuring puppetry, physical comedy, and mime where audiences are invited to join our hero for a silent expedition as they witness one man’s quest for a friend.

Boris & Sergey’s Astonishing Freakatorium will be at Wilton’s Music Hall from 9 – 13 May