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Ambassador Theatre Group

Big Laughs

Phill Jupitus Richard Fleeshman in Ghost The Musical Theatre Royalty

Derek Jacobi

Spring 2011

Keira Knightley Elisabeth Moss Ellen Burstyn Carol Kane Desirable 50’s dressing Puppets with pulling power Get set - go South!

Things to do, people to see

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best

2 1

s Free, healthy and fun! Walk off the

3

festive flab while discovering the

1 Avenue Q

beauties of the British countryside

2 Bailey Balloon flights

in springtime. Downloadable

3 Derek Jacobi in King Lear

leaflets from the National Trust suggest walking routes across the UK by region or theme - boots on and go! nationaltrust.org.uk

s Treat yourself to an outstanding ensemble including Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Ellen Burstyn in The Children’s Hour at the Comedy Theatre. AmbassadorTickets.com

School for Scandal s Husband and wife team Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, Joint s 50’s glamour! Vintage dress from Bang Bang, 020 7494 2042 s

and Ellen Burstyn set to wow

is right for King Lear

the West End

Puppet Power

Manchester Magic

Theatre Group top The Stage 100

Haunting - the Ghost phenomenon

list for the second time this year -

flies into Manchester

the industry bible’s annual guide

Silliness Reigns Supreme 5

to the 100 most influential people

prize-winning UK artist Anish

in UK theatre.

Kapoor’s first major show to be

Kingdom Come Derek Jacobi - why the time

Chief Executives of the Ambassador

Internationally renowned, Turner

held outside London in over a

1

Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss

3

7

13

Birmingham’s best

9

Cheeky but charming - Avenue Q

What’s On in London

Applause for the Alex

11

Looking on the bright side

Competition 12 Legally Blonde The Musical

with Phill Jupitus

Champagne, tickets, beauty treats and a night out at the Savoy Grill!

Red Carpet

14

A glittering launch party

Fifties Fabulous

15

Mad Men inspired chic

Days of Discovery

17

From Agatha Christie’s Torquay to handbags and heels in Woking - days out down South

decade opens at the Manchester

s Making a difference - sales of Life

Art Gallery in March. His incredible

water at ATG theatres across the UK

Orbit tower will mark the 2012

have made a major contribution to

Olympic Games - expect to see it

the drop4drop project in Zambia

Ambassador Group productions

rising over the London skyline later

and India providing clean drinking

this year. manchestergalleries.org

water to at least 10,000 people.

Ambassador Theatre Group LONDON Theatres Apollo Victoria 0844 871 7615 Comedy Theatre 0844 871 7622 Donmar Warehouse 0844 871 7624 Duke of York’s Theatre 0844 871 7623 Fortune Theatre 0844 871 7626 Lyceum Theatre 0844 871 7615 Phoenix Theatre 0844 871 7629 Piccadilly Theatre 0844 871 7630 Playhouse Theatre 0844 871 7631 Savoy Theatre 0844 871 7687 Trafalgar Studios 0844 871 7632 Ambassador Theatre Group REGIONAL Theatres Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 0844 8717 607 Theatre Royal Brighton 0844 8717 650 Churchill Theatre Bromley 0844 8717 620 Kings Theatre Glasgow 0844 8717 648 Theatre Royal Glasgow 0844 8717 647 Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 8717 652 Richmond Theatre 0844 8717 651 Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall Stoke-on-Trent 0844 8717 649 New Wimbledon Theatre & New Wimbledon Studio 0844 8717 646 Ambassadors Cinemas Woking 0844 8717 643 New Victoria Theatre & Rhoda McGaw Theatre Woking 0844 8717 645 Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham 0844 847 2293 Bristol Hippodrome 0844 847 2325 Edinburgh Playhouse 0844 847 1661 Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone 0844 847 1776 Grimsby Auditorium 0844 847 2426 Empire Theatre Liverpool 0844 847 2525 Palace Theatre & Opera House Manchester 0844 847 2484 New Theatre Oxford 0844 847 1588 Southport Theatre and Convention Centre 0844 847 2321 Sunderland Empire 0844 847 2499 Princess Theatre Torquay 0844 847 2315 York Grand Opera House 0844 847 2322 Online booking at atgv.co.uk Jessamy Hadley Editor Pat Westwell, Al Senter, Jasper Rees, Nancy Groves, Lucy Johnston, Mark Shenton, Nicola Venning, Mark Bouman, Neena Dhillon, David Bradbury, Ben Prudhoe Contributors Shaun Webb Design Design and Art Direction John Good Print The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd 39 - 41 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H OAR

The views expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd.

Cover photograph by Michael Birt

of the

The Ambassador Theatre Group


Interview

allowed to serve alcohol, she got

recording - and I’ve been

century and I think that its author,

Carol Kane

up, left, found a bar somewhere,

nominated - and that would

Lillian Hellman, is an extremely

Elisabeth Moss

had her drink and came back.

make me a Quadruple Crown!

underrated playwright’ says Ian

Ellen Burstyn

Lillian was not somebody you

Awards are fun and it’s wonderful

Rickson, the director who’s come

said no to and she didn’t pull

to get them but you have to be

to the production fresh from his

any punches.’

careful not to let awards turn a

triumph with Jerusalem. ‘The

The reference to Oscar night

healthy ego into a giant one. For

psychological and emotional

reminds us that Ellen has collected

me, the work is what matters.’

complexity is really astonishing.

a number of nominations and in

Ellen has no thoughts of

It’s about difference and about

1975 picked up the Best Actress

retirement. ‘I hope to keep

being an outsider. The dialogue

Award for her performance in

working until I drop or for as long

doesn’t feel that it’s nearly eighty

Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live

as they’ll have me.’ she declares.

years old; it’s very modern. The

Here Anymore. The 1970s were

‘I was talking to Keira (Knightley)

play has terrific energy: it’s raw

a glorious decade for her

and Tobias (Menzies) the other day

and it’s bold.’

professionally in films as diverse

and we were asking ourselves why

Rickson points to Lillian

as The Last Picture Show, Resnais’ Providence, co-starring with Gielgud and Bogarde, and the

School for Scandal A world-class cast in the West End with The Children’s Hour

ultra-chilling The Exorcist. Considerable claims have been made for the status of the latter

movie while others dismiss it as schlock-horror. Where does Ellen stand? ‘The film has just been accepted

Interview by

‘She was born and brought up in New Orleans but lived mainly in New York and there’s both the sensuous beat of the South and the New York intellectual in her plays. Having just read her memoirs, I feel connected to her in the way that you have to be when you’re directing a

For an actress who has so

Amelia Tilford, the powerful

realise that the play is all about

into the Library of Congress as a

conspicuously triumphed in every

matriarchal figure who takes

false accusations. It’s about

culturally significant work of art’

we actors put ourselves through

playwright’s work - connected

area available to her profession,

action when scandal threatens to

self-righteous people telling other

she points out. ‘There’s no

such torture. I think that we do

to that young woman of twenty-

Ellen Burstyn is anything but a

engulf a New England girls’ school

people what’s right and how they

question that in films of that

our job because being creative

eight in 1934, about to have her

grande dame. She is gracious, if

run by two close female friends.

should behave.’

genre, it’s the grandfather of them

is good for you. It’s a bit like

first play produced on Broadway.’

initially a little reserved, with a

What made her choose this piece

Ellen knew Lillian Hellman and

all.’ With her recent acquisition of

jogging in that it releases the

First performed in London in

personal warmth that becomes

as her first appearance on the

remembers her as ‘very grizzly,

an Emmy for her work in the series

endorphins that make you happy.

1936, at the Gate Theatre Studio,

apparent as she relaxes into the

London stage?

tough and plainspoken. She said

Law & Order, Ellen has now joined

I know I feel exhilarated after a

an experimental club venue in

conversation. Now in her late

‘I felt that it was about time

exactly what she thought. She was

the elite.

performance, even when the

Villiers Street, The Children’s Hour

seventies, Ellen is making her

that I did a play in the West End

present on Oscar night when I was

‘I’m told that I’ve won the Triple

material is downbeat. Somebody

has waited nearly seventy-five

overdue West End debut alongside

and when I met Ian Rickson, who’s

hosting the ceremony and we were

Crown, which makes me sound

asked me recently if filming

years to graduate into the West

Oscar nominee Keira Knightley,

directing the show, I was very

backstage. She asked one of the

like a racehorse.’ she laughs. ‘I’m

Requiem for a Dream made me

End. No doubt, audiences and

Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss and

impressed with him’ explains Ellen.

boys who are always buzzing

one of only eighteen people who

depressed. In fact, it was quite

critics alike will judge that it’s

Carol Kane (Taxi, Annie Hall), in

‘The Children’s Hour is a play that

around at the Academy Awards

have won an Emmy, an Oscar and

the opposite.’

been well worth the wait.

Photography by

Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s

isn’t done that often. And as we’ve

for a drink. When he apologised,

a Tony. All I need now is to win

‘The Children’s Hour is one of

Johan Persson

Hour at the Comedy. She plays

worked on it, we’ve come to

explaining that they weren’t

a Grammy for a spoken word

the great plays of the twentieth

Al Senter

1

It’s very modern. The play has terrific energy: it’s raw and it’s bold.

Hellman’s contrasting backgrounds as one of the keys to her work.

Comedy Theatre

The Children’s Hour Starring Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss, Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane Box Office 0844 871 7622 Online booking at 2 AmbassadorTickets.com


Caissie Levy, Richard Fleeshman

Interview

Sharon D Clarke and Dave Stewart at Abbey Road Studios

manchester Magic Richard Fleeshman heads North to star in Ghost The Musical

Interview by Jasper Rees Photography by 3

Matt Crockett

the original screenplay. It’s got

was first unveiled when, at 13,

talent and style, with global

his blessing and he’s really keen

he became the youngest winner

ambitions, a thriving city centre

to keep hold of the magic that the

of Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes.

and a proud record of leading

film had, which is the reason it was

By 16 he was launching his

the way in music and the arts,

so successful in the first place.’

own singing career, releasing an

Manchester is the perfect launch

Part of the buzz created by the

album which came to the ears of

pad for this compelling new

film was due to the popularity of

none other than Elton John. ‘My

musical. Ambassador Theatre

Unchained Melody - one of the

manager gave me a call and said,

Group owns two theatres in the

most-recorded songs of the 20th

‘Are you sitting down? You’ve

city but plumped for the Opera

century and a four times number

got the tour slot.’ It came from

House over the Palace. ‘Although

one UK and world-wide hit. The

nowhere. Elton and I have been

it’s a big theatre with nearly 2000

song remains in the musical

friends ever since.’

seats,’ says producer Colin Ingram,

alongside a marvellous collection

The pop career is now in

‘there is a degree of intimacy. It

of new songs by award-winning

temporary storage as Fleeshman

doesn’t feel a huge venue. Intimacy

musician, songwriter and record

continues to find roles which

is important for us. A number of

producer Dave Stewart. Stewart’s

combine his two gifts. He was

our effects are illusions and the

influence is apparent:

lead in TV’s All the Small Things,

audience needs to see that.’

‘It does have a rocky edge which

a choir-based drama which tapped

Will audiences take to it?

sits really well with me...’ says

into the current enthusiasm for all

According to Fleeshman, it plays

Fleeshman, who with co-stars

things choral but it was really only

with the expectations of a musical-

Caissie Levy and Sharon D Clarke

a matter of time before Fleeshman

theatre audience. ‘Fundamentally

worked on the songs at Abbey

would be cast in a stage musical. It

it’s not a sweet story,’ he says. ‘The

Road over four days last year. ‘But

happened when he took over from

lead character gets murdered in

Manchester gets it first! Across the

Ballard (songwriter for Alanis

the late Patrick Swayze as the

there is such an eclectic mix within

Duncan James as Warner opposite

the first twenty minutes. It has

city the word is out; Ghost one of

Morrisette, Michael Jackson and

murdered husband of a woman

the music, I couldn’t believe how

Sheridan Smith in Legally Blonde.

love, revenge, jealousy, tragedy,

the most eagerly anticipated

Celine Dion) and directed by

played by Demi Moore, so fired by

far it swings from left to right.’

The part was ‘a godsend,’ he says.

heroes and heroines and villains.

musicals of our age opens at the

multi-Tony award-winner Matthew

love that he is able to hang around

There is quite an eclectic mix in

‘I’ve always wanted to do musical

I think it’s got something for

Opera House in March. Will it

Warchus (Art, Boeing-Boeing)

in this life and protect her from

Fleeshman’s back catalogue too.

theatre. It was nice to go into a

everyone.’

job of that size and calibre. No one can prepare you for eight

become one of the greatest stage

Ghost The Musical will require

harm. For the stage musical the

Television audiences will know him

musicals of the century? All the

a seven week get-in to

part of Sam Wheat goes to

as a teenage star of Coronation

signs are good.

accommodate the spectacular

Richard Fleeshman.

Street. He joined the soap at 12

shows a week in the West End.’

Adapted for the stage by some

magic, illusions and breathtaking

‘I think it would be foolish to

and left four years later. ‘Even

Ghost is destined for the

of the best story-tellers in the

special effects of Sam Wheat’s

ignore Swayze’s performance

though I’d learnt so much, I felt

Piccadilly Theatre in the West End

world, with music and lyrics by pop

in-between world.

entirely,’ he says. ‘But let’s not

if I was going to break out of that

but Manchester gets the ultimate

legends Dave Stewart (Eurythmics,

One of the biggest grossing

forget that this is a new piece by

mould it was the right time for

distinction of hosting the world

Travelling Wilburys) and Glen

films in the UK ever, Ghost starred

the writer who won an Oscar for

me to push on.’ His musical ability

premiere. Bursting with creative

Hear music tracks, watch the trailer and join our facebook site at ghostthemusical.com

‘Manchester is the number 1 place for musicals to happen before London’ Dave Stewart Manchester Evening News

Ghost The Musical Starring Richard Fleeshman, Caissie Levy, Sharon D Clarke and Andrew Langtree

Manchester Opera House 28 March - 14 May Box Office 0844 847 2295

Piccadilly Theatre, London From 22 June Box Office 0844 871 7630 Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com

4


Interview

anyone says: ‘I’m going to go to

Four other regulars, comedians

Hill.’ And why he is also ‘made up’

London for a weekend,’ where

all, have come and gone in that

to be closing the Spamalot show

I used to hand them a list of

time. Surely Jupitus must be

with ‘Always Look on the Bright

restaurants and museums, I now

approaching some sort of punditry

Side of Life’ by his long-time idol

just tell them to book tickets for a

record? ‘No, Merton and Hislop

and sometime collaborator Neil

good show. It’s the best return you

win that one,’ he corrects. ‘Have

Innes.

can get on your entertainment

I Got News For You has been on

‘If you look at it in reductive

pound.’

for 20 years.’

form, ‘Bright Side’ is a song about

Not an opinion you’d expect to

Jupitus loves the desk job but

inevitable failure,’ he reflects.

hear from Essex’s premier

feels no sense of ownership over

‘That’s why football fans have taken

performance poet and guitarist in

the show. ‘The producer tells me:

it on.’ He laughs grimly at the

comedy outfit The Idiot Bastard

‘We got 3.2 million audience

thought of his beloved but

Band - and Jupitus knows it.

figures for the Wogan episode’

floundering West Ham. ‘It’s a very

Compared to hosting the Leftfield

and I think, ‘So, 57 million people

post-British Empire song. We are

Tent at Glastonbury where ‘the

don’t watch us.’ There’s a side of

this little island and we had our

only thing you have to ensure is

me that’s always anchored in

moment. We all have our moment.

that you haven’t taken any

reality.’ When Buzzcocks got a bit

And we realise that’s enough.’

hallucinogenic drugs’, musicals are

bitchy under Simon Amstell’s

Except for Jupitus, who seems to

another world. ‘The craft and

stewardship, Jupitus almost quit,

go straight from one moment to

effort and training that goes into

persuaded to stay only by the

the next. Reading his Wikipedia

them!’ he marvels. ‘When you’re

arrival of a new team captain, Noel

page feels like trying to keep up

just the name to stick on the front

Fielding from The Mighty Boosh.

with a pinball machine. ‘The

of the theatre, you feel a bit of

‘It’s the daftness of the man,’ he

scattergun nature proves that it

a fraud.’

says admiringly. ‘I’ve always adored

wasn’t planned,’ he insists. ‘I never

It’s a sign of comedy’s current

silliness and Noel has a deep

imagined that I’d be wearing a dress

cachet though when that name is

appreciation of silliness. The Boosh

in a West End show. With every

best known - as with Jupitus and

are part of that same line as the

new thing, it’s been a case of:

Brigstocke - for appearing on a

Goons, the Pythons, the Bonzos

‘That looks like a laugh.’

sleeper hit quiz. Then again,

and the Goodies. I prefer daftness

If I can’t think of a reason

Jupitus has been on board at

to that more cynical comedy of

not to, I’ll do it.’

Buzzcocks since it began in 1996.

awkwardness. It’s why I love Harry

‘ Silliness Reigns Supreme Phill Jupitus presides over the court of King Arthur

Shaftesbury Avenue, rehearsing

‘lovingly ripped off’ from 1975 film

his new role as King Arthur in the

Monty Python and the Holy Grail,

has spent a lot of his career sitting

national tour of Monty Python’s

delivers in-jokes galore. For Jupitus

Todd Carty and Phill Jupitus Jodie Prenger

Spamalot Sunderland Empire* Starring Phill Jupitus and Todd Carty 28 February - 5 March Box Office 0844 847 2499

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Starring Jodie Prenger, Phill Jupitus and Todd Carty 28 March - 2 April 2011 Box Office 0844 871 7607

down, both as former breakfast

Spamalot. His costume is manlier

the appeal was twofold. ‘What

this time - marginally. ‘It’s actually

really drew me to Spamalot is the

longstanding team captain on

a sort of silver lycra,’ he says of

fact that it’s a parody. It takes the

BBC2 pop quiz, Never Mind the

Arthur’s chainmail. ‘Dare I say it,

piss out of the musical form while

New Wimbledon Theatre

Buzzcocks. So when, in 2009, he

there is a frocky element, but none

also paying tribute to a brilliant

not only joined the West End cast

of the sequins I got to wear as

comedy film. It’s an amazing piece

Starring Phill Jupitus and Todd Carty 1- 4 June 2011 Box Office 0844 871 7646

of Hairspray, but did so in a dress,

Edna. My final Hairspray costume

of work - ostensibly, the comedy

weighed 30 pounds. There’s

musical of all time.’

buffs and musical fans alike.

nothing near that in this show.’

And like good mate

The man had legs!

The draw of Spamalot is

Marcus Brigstocke, his

As did the show. In fact,

self-evident. Few British comics

predecessor in the role

Photography by

Hairspray was such a success

don’t cite the Pythons as an

of Arthur, Jupitus is a fan

Eric Richmond

that Jupitus is now back on

influence, and Eric Idle’s musical,

of the musical genre. ‘If

Nancy Groves

Graham MacDuff

show host on 6Music and as

there was surprise among indie Interview by

5

For someone who started out in stand-up, comedian Phill Jupitus

If anyone says: ‘I’m going to go to London for a weekend,’ where I used to hand them a list of restaurants and museums, I now just tell them to book tickets for a good show. It’s the best return you can get on your entertainment pound.

Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com *Online booking at atgv.co.uk

6


Interview

Kingdom Come Derek Jacobi gets under the skin of King Lear

Interview by Lucy Johnston Theatre Editor of The Richmond, Kingston and Guildford magazines Photography by 7

Johan Persson

done when I was any younger,

self-doubt - which, at their most

If they are good that’s wonderful,

I don’t think. It’s only now I feel

devastating, once caused him a

of course, and I’m immensely

I understand enough of life’s ebbs

bout of stage fright that lasted

grateful, but it would make me

and flows to be able to even

three years.

awkward to read them. But if

attempt to get under his skin.’

‘This role is starting to become

they are bad it makes you want

The intensity of this pinnacle

a little less terrifying now we’ve

to kill yourself, and that’s most

role has been widely recognised as

begun, but, being on stage really

inconvenient,’ he manages a

one that deeply affects the actors

can be fearsome at times. I try not

flighty chuckle. ‘My friends are

who take it on - and there is quite

to notice there is anyone watching

highly useful for gently keeping

a roll-call, although Sir Derek has

- I mean, if I eyeballed someone by

me in the picture, without me

been resolute in keeping the

accident, my God, anything could

actually having to read any of it.

influence of other actors’

happen!’ he looks genuinely

They will say things like, ‘you really

portrayals at a distance.

startled at the thought.

should see what is in the Evening

‘One is very much on the front

‘Shakespeare still surprises me,

Standard’ or ‘whatever you do

line of Shakespeare’s work with

even after all these years,’ he

don’t read the Times’ or ‘I don’t

So, history has been made. In

is possible to do justice to until

the Donmar stage, swinging his

this play. It asks so much of an

continues. ‘And I’m still trying to

think the Daily Mail saw the same

December, the king finally stepped

you are of a certain age and

legs and fidgeting with his hands,

actor’s emotions - we have to roll

do it well. There is no rulebook.

play I did’. It’s marvellous,’ his

into the shoes of the King. After

worldly wisdom. The Shakespeare-

almost childlike save for the white

out all our weaponry to tackle it.

The glory is in attempting to play

eyes twinkle again.

King Lear

over fifty years at the forefront of

devoted theatre community has,

hair and shrewd, watery blue eyes.

I can’t even entertain the thought

one of his characters. It ain’t wot

And with that the producer,

Theatre Royal Glasgow

Shakespearean theatre, and having

therefore, been holding its

I’m struck by how nervous he is,

of taking Lear home with me,’ he

you say, it’s the way wot you say

who has been prowling around

played nearly every leading role,

collective breath in anticipation

in some way apologetic for his

lowers his voice, ‘that way madness

it...,’ he jests.

protectively in the background,

Sir Derek Jacobi at last walked

of this moment since he turned

presence, and he is smaller and

would surely lie,’ then his eyes

He might be oblivious to it, but

announces my time is up. As

8 - 12 March Box Office 0844 8717 647

I can’t help feel this determination

onto the stage of the Donmar

sixty (an age they guessed he

frailer than I had imagined.

glint, ‘but a dry white wine after

quietly as he arrived, Sir Derek

Milton Keynes Theatre

Warehouse for his mesmerising

would deem appropriate). He

Somehow one doesn’t want to

the performance usually helps

to detach himself from the

withdraws, to prepare for the

debut as King Lear. It is not

is now seventy-two.

acknowledge that age catches up

do the trick.’

audience and hide himself within

evening’s performance - his eyes

15 - 19 March Box Office 0844 8717 652

something he has taken on lightly.

‘It’s not something you suddenly

with our great actors in the way

He brings an incredible level

the role is what makes him so

already focusing on a horizon

Sir Derek - in fact he holds two

wake up one morning ready to

of us mortal people. But, as he

of intelligent analysis to his craft,

captivating to watch. He is also

beyond this room, as he begins

knighthoods, Danish and British,

take on. I’ve been waiting a long

stresses, age brings great benefit

but it is visibly fuelled by a nervous

adamant in detaching himself

to slip into character. A character

an accolade only matched by

time for the circumstances to feel

to his craft.

energy that also makes him his

from what people think, and

which has finally become

‘Playing Lear is a worrisome thing.

own harshest critic, and he is

never reads reviews.

completely and rightfully

It’s not something I could have

plagued with powerful flashes of

‘God, no, I never read them!

his own.

Laurence Olivier - has always stressed Lear is not a role that it

right,’ Sir Derek shares. He speaks softly, perched on the edge of

Richmond Theatre 29 March - 2 April Box Office 0844 8717 651 Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com

8


Backstage

musicals may not be on young

Instead, however, it wound up

say, I’ve done that, I didn’t mean

people’s radar, we asked what kind

not on TV but first as an off-

to hurt that person but I did that.

of musicals do they like? They like

Broadway musical which quickly

It’s just so human - even though

animated movies like Disney

transferred to Broadway, winning

it’s actually puppets - but there’s

cartoons, and Sesame Street and

that year’s Tony Award for Best

a human heart to it.’

the Muppets. When Kermit the

New Musical (over Wicked, which

Adam Pettigrew, who plays

frog starts singing, no one turns

opened the same year); and then

Princeton - an English Literature

off to it so we thought, let’s do

it came triumphantly to London,

graduate worried about his future

something funny and relevant

where it played for over three

- concurs, and says that performing

about people like us, and make

years at three different West

the role via a puppet helps the

it appealing enough for people

End theatres.

show to say what it needs to. ‘It

to get over the hurdle of it being

Rachel Jerram spent some two

allows us to say things you can’t

a musical.’

and a half years in the show, first

normally say. With puppets saying

these things, there’s innocence

The night we got the idea we filled an entire legal pad with the titles of songs, and thought we could write this for the rest of our lives! Each would be a different episode of Avenue Q - the racism episode, the porn episode, the coming out of the closet episode...

about it - it’s not done in a harsh way. And it’s refreshing to hear things said like this.’ He also identifies with the show’s theme about finding one’s purpose in life. ‘I’ve asked those questions, like do I stay in the theatre, which I’ve been doing since I was a kid. Is this

Thus was born the hilarious

covering for various parts including

the right thing for me to do? And

Avenue Q, ‘Sesame Street with

kindergarten assistant Kate

at the end, Princeton is still

sex’ as it’s been called - originally

Monster, and playing Mrs T. Now

searching; so it’s an ongoing

conceived as a TV show. ‘We

she’s back for the show’s touring

process. There’s quite a lot for him

thought of coming up with an

premiere, but this time in the lead

to learn in two hours!’

adult puppet show,’ says Robert,

role: ‘I obviously know the show,

Edward Judge plays Brian, one

‘and realised that every single

but it’s really lovely to come and

of the non-puppet characters, and

problem in adult life could be

feel like I’m learning it fresh, so

he says, ‘It’s a great relief for me,

turned into a funny, mock-

that I’m able to put my own mark

but it also means that I don’t have

educational song. The night we

on the character,’ says the bubbly

that fantastic medium to work

got the idea we filled an entire

26-year-old. It’s a show, of course,

through.’ And he’s also learnt that

legal pad with the titles of songs,

about life’s learning curves, and

there’s a big challenge in acting

and thought we could write this

she’s learnt a lot doing it. The

with puppets: ‘It’s surprisingly

for the rest of our lives! Each

appeal of the show, she says, is

difficult being a human playing to

would be a different episode of

that ‘everyone can relate to it.

a puppet - you have to make sure

Avenue Q - the racism episode,

People who don’t like musicals

you’re looking not at the actor but

the porn episode, the coming

always end up liking it. The lads

at the actor’s shoulder where the

out of the closet episode...’

can relate to Princeton - they’ll

puppet is!’

HHHHH Sunday Times News of the World Sunday Express Absolute Radio Magic Radio Smooth FM

Avenue Q

Churchill Theatre Bromley 14 -19 February Box Office 0844 871 7620

Richmond Theatre 28 February - 5 March Box Office 0844 8717 651

New Victoria Theatre Woking 21 - 26 March Box Office 0844 8717 645

Milton Keynes Theatre 18 - 23 April Box Office 0844 871 7652

Theatre Royal Brighton 2 - 7 May Box Office 0844 8717 650

Bristol Hippodrome*

Sassy, satirical, uproarious - it’s Avenue Q ! Musicals are more popular than

workshop in New York, they

creating a musical that

23 - 28 May Box Office 0844 847 2325

ever, but while shows like The

realised that they were dealing

communicates our love for the art

Sound of Music and South Pacific

in an anachronistic art form.

form without it being the kind of

King’s Theatre Glasgow

are all-time classics loved by all,

‘We’re weird - we grew up loving

thing that people wouldn’t like.’

it’s also important to have new

musicals,’ says Jeff, ‘but when we

Robert chimes in. ‘We felt we

musicals that speak to a younger

look around at our friends, they

wanted to do something relevant

generation. When Jeff Marx and

don’t necessarily. They think of

for people of our own age.’ And

Photography by

Robert Lopez, two long-time fans

them as being an old art form. We

Jeff continues; ‘We actually started

Brinkhoff Mögenburg

of musicals first met on a writers’

sought to find a way around this,

backwards: since old fashioned

Interview by Mark Shenton

9

28 June - 2 July Box Office 0844 8717 648 Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com *Online booking at atgv.co.uk

10


What’s On

Competition

Buy Your West End Tickets Here apollo victoria 0844 871 7615

phoenix Theatre 0844 871 7629

Discover the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz. Winner! Most Popular Show Laurence Olivier Awards 2010

‘Exhilarating. One of the best musicals ever written’ Sunday Times

comedy Theatre 0844 871 7622

piccadilly Theatre 0844 871 7630

Keira Knightley returns to the London stage alongside Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) in Lillian Hellman’s visionary masterpiece. Ian Rickson (Jerusalem) directs.

The original high-school musical starring Lauren Samuels and Matthew Goodgame Must end 30 April

donmar warehouse 0844 871 7624 th

piccadilly Theatre 0844 871 7630

Wicked

The Children’s Hour

The 25 Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Prepare yourselves for the spelling challenge of a lifetime in William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s hilarious Tony Award-winning musical.

duke of york’s Theatre 0844 871 7623

Ghost Stories

Direct from a sell-out season at the Lyric Hammersmith comes the most terrifying experience in the West End. ‘Awesome’ Jonathan Ross

fortune Theatre 0844 871 7626

The Woman in Black One of the most exciting and gripping theatre events ever staged. ‘A truly nerve-shredding experience’ Daily Mail

lyceum Theatre 0844 871 7615

Disney’s

The Lion King With a cast of over 40 actors, singers and dancers. ‘A beautiful dazzle of invention and imagination’ Evening Standard

the old vic 0844 871 7628

Cause Célèbre

A tale of love, betrayal & obsession, based on the true story of Alma Rattenbury (Anne-Marie Duff) who went on trial with her 18-year-old lover for her husband’s murder.

11

Blood Brothers

Grease

most iconic restaurants dating back to 1889. The menu is inspired by classic British and French dishes. gordonramsay.com/thesavoygrill

Ghost The Musical

The dazzling new musical based on the phenomenal Oscar winning film. Ghost is a timeless fantasy about the power of love. From 22 June

playhouse Theatre 0844 871 7631

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Winner of London’s Best Musical

HHHH ‘Tremendous, tub thumping fun, it brought the house down’ Sunday Telegraph

Time Out Awards 2010

HHHH ‘Hilarious’ Daily Express

savoy Theatre 0844 871 7687

Legally Blonde The Musical

HHHH ‘Sensational’ Mail on Sunday

HHHH ‘Perfection’

Starring Susan McFadden (Elle) and Denise Van Outen (Paulette) HHHH ‘Blows other musicals out of the water’ Sun

The Independent

Savoy Theatre

TRAFALGAR STUDIO 1 0844 871 7632

End of the Rainbow

Olivier Award-winning Tracie Bennett takes the West End by storm as Judy Garland. HHHHH ‘A Star is Born’ The Times

Here’s a chance for you and a

Legally Blonde The Musical

To win two tickets to see Legally

lucky friend to win the ultimate

is the award-winning, hilarious

Blonde The Musical together with

night out - bringing a bit of sparkle

musical comedy which has wowed

a night out to remember, simply

to the new year. Enjoy two top

the critics and taken the West End

answer the following question:

price tickets to Legally Blonde

by storm. College sweetheart and

Ordinary Days

The Musical, programmes, a bottle

homecoming queen Elle Woods

What University does Elle Woods

of champagne in the interval plus

doesn’t take no for an answer;

New Musical by Adam Gwon Starring Daniel Boys and Julie Atherton. The hugely anticipated transfer of the acclaimed, exciting and vibrant musical.

attend to win back her love?

a goody bag each of fabulous

so when her boyfriend dumps her

beauty treats courtesy of Benefit

for someone ‘serious’ Elle puts

Please return your answer, not

and Bic. And that’s not all... to

down the credit card, hits the

forgetting your name, address

celebrate the opening of the Savoy

books and heads for Harvard Law

and telephone number to Ben

Grill - Gordon Ramsay Holdings

School! Legally Blonde The Musical

Prudhoe, The Ambassador Theatre

are also offering two pre-theatre

is the must-see show of the year

Group Ltd., 39 - 41 Charing Cross

meals for you to dine in style

and the most fashionable ticket

Road, London, WC2H 0AR before

before the show.

in town!

Monday 21 March.

TRAFALGAR STUDIO 2* 0844 871 7632

Book your tickets online at AmbassadorTickets.com *Studio 2 has been made possible by a generous donation from Christina Smith

The Savoy Grill is one of London’s

Legally Blonde The Musical Starring Susan McFadden & Denise Van Outen Box Office 0844 871 7687 Online booking at AmbassadorTickets.com TERMS AND CONDITIONS One winner will be drawn at random after the closing date. The prize includes 2 tickets (Mon - Thu performances until 26 May only) to see Legally Blonde The Musical at the Savoy Theatre plus two pre-theatre meals at Savoy Grill, a bottle of champagne in the interval, programmes plus two goody bags with assorted Bic and Benefit products. 12


News

Richard O’Brien

Warwick Davies

Cilla Black

Simon Callow

Ruby Wax

Tony Christie

Gemma Atkinson

Suzanne Shaw Jonathan Wilkes

David Suchet

Photograph of 2011 West End Company by Paul Coltas

Applause for The Alex

Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre is tipped for the top ‘Alex’, as it is also affectionately

stature to Birmingham, we will

known, is a natural venue for

start to bring back the audience’,

in Birmingham. Building on its

actors as the stage and auditorium

says Howard who feels that in the

successful re-launch last winter,

work particularly well together.

past, the theatre has suffered from

more high-profile, international

‘The audience/actor relationship

under investment and therefore

calibre shows are planned for the

in Birmingham is really wonderful

has underperformed.

revamped theatre over the next

and very intimate,’ says Howard,

The New Alexandra is one of

two years.

‘even though the theatre is a

sixteen regional theatres that

The exciting programme

venue of almost 1400 seats’.

joined Ambassador Theatre Group

includes musicals such as Grease

Though his lips are sealed at the

last year. The theatre is currently

(currently on sale for next year’s

moment, Howard will announce

in the process of an impressive

festive season), Corrie! a funny

some big drama productions later

upgrade, which when added to

and affectionate tribute to

in the year. The plays, like the

the cost of its annual maintenance,

Britain’s best-loved soap together

musicals, aim to repeat the success

comes in at over £500,000. As part

with the children’s classic Jungle

of Spamalot which kicked off The

of the improvements, theatre-

Red Carpet A star-studded launch for the new Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Book. More quality drama is in

New Alexandra’s re-launch last

goers will enjoy a new attractive

Main image Grease

the pipeline. ‘We want to include

December. 90% of the audience

façade and canopy as well as

Inset pictures Spamalot

Birmingham in our drama touring

in the four-week season visited

improved seating in the main

The West End stepped onto the

Britain’s newest theatre.

the wider world of entertainment.

For more information on a

circuit as well as creating new

the theatre for the first time.

auditorium - with more leg room!

red carpet at the new Aylesbury

Jonathan Wilkes and Suzanne

sparkling future programme that

plays which will premier there,’

Howard is confident that in a

‘We have a track record of turning

Waterside Theatre last October

Susan Hampshire, the Rocky Horror

Shaw entertained a capacity crowd

includes Spamalot, Siberian Ballet,

says Howard Panter, Joint CEO of

city as cultural and diverse as

buildings around across the

as a host of stars from stage and

Show’s Richard O’Brien,

outside the theatre before

Yes Prime Minister, the Royal

the Ambassador Theatre Group

Birmingham, this success can

country,’ says Howard, ‘and, with

screen marked a milestone in UK

Hollywood’s Warwick Davies,

national treasure Cilla Black - star

Philharmonic Orchestra and Ruby

and its Creative Director. ‘There

be repeated.

better, more targeted marketing,

theatre history. Two of the UK’s

dance star Adam Cooper, the

of the theatre’s first pantomime

Wax visit AmbassadorTickets.com/ aylesburywaterside

Christmas 2010 For future programme and to book tickets for the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham see newalexandratheatre.co.uk

13

The stars are coming out for The New Alexandra Theatre

Comedienne Ruby Wax, actress

really isn’t anywhere in

‘We hope it’s a virtuous circle;

there is no reason why this theatre

greatest actors - David Suchet and

gorgeous Gemma Atkinson and

Cinderella - cut the ribbon to open

Interview by

Birmingham that does large-scale

by bringing better productions of

cannot be in the premier division’.

Simon Callow - were first to step

recording legend Tony Christie

the house for the first time.

Nicola Venning

drama productions’, he adds. The

a higher quality and real national

onto the stage and formally open

were joined by well-wishers from

14


Style

Fifties Fabulous

1

2

3

4

5

We’re mad for Mad Men inspired style - get your vintage fix here

1 Suit from Reiss £395 reissonline.com Shirt from Gap £29.95 thegap.co.uk Tie from Zara £19.95 zara.com

2 Vintage dress from Circa Vintage circavintage.com

3 Skirt £99 Cardigan £59 Scarf £49 from Hobbs hobbs.co.uk

Pearl necklace from Top Shop £7.50 topshop.com

4 Vintage dress from Circa Vintage 5 Vintage dress from Circa Vintage

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6 Man’s shoes from Paul Smith £185 paulsmith.co.uk

7 Clutch bag from Hobbs £79 8 Court shoes from Hobbs £119 9 Vintage Brooch from Bang Bang £12 020 7494 2042

10 Vintage Earrings from Bang Bang £60 11 Vintage-style bangle from Top Shop £8.50

9

6

12 Vintage Alexander McQueen court shoes from Bang Bang £200

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All prices quoted are given as a guide only and may be subject to change by individual retailers.

11

Elisabeth Moss plays career girl Peggy in TV’s award-winning Mad Men alongside well-kept wife Betty (January Jones) and slinky secretary Joan (Christina Hendricks) - which style will you be?

12

10 Feature by Mark Bouman Wallpaper backdrop courtesy of Cole & Son cole-and-son.com Elisabeth Moss image courtesy of Rex Features

16


Going Out

Days of Discovery

Images top l-r: Bailey Balloon flights Down House, Bromley Brunel’s SS Great Britain

A trio of inspirational escapes

visitbristol.co.uk ssgreatbritain.org

Below: Kurt Geiger boots

Look beyond the capital this

authentic sounds and smells.

Cosmopolitan Torquay

the specially devised murder

residence that the legendary

Theatre Bromley and the New

season! Whether you take time

Once safely back on dry land,

Forming part of the English

mystery events.

Victorian scientist worked on his

Victoria Theatre Woking. The

to explore Bristol, check out the

be sure to walk the historic streets

Riviera, Torquay’s lovely waterfront

Of course, this destination is rich

theory of evolution. Drop by to

Richmond Theatre stages critically

resort of Torquay or enjoy the

of St Nicholas Market. Set amid

and palm tree-lined promenade

in natural treasures and the entire

see the study where the

acclaimed productions in the most

delights of outer London, these

Georgian architecture, a multitude

combine to give this South Devon

family is sure to be entertained by

groundbreaking On the Origin of

stylish of surroundings. The Grade

activities are guaranteed to put

of stalls sell all kinds of goods

resort a Mediterranean feel. By

an outing to Kents Cavern. One

Species was written, learn about

ll-listed theatre presents an emotive

a spring in your step.

and fresh produce in a quirky

visiting in the warm spring months,

of the most important Stone Age

Darwin’s ideas through a

version of Journey’s End in March

environment, open six days

you’ll be able to discover

cave sites in Europe, complete

multimedia tour narrated by David

followed by a compelling King Lear

a week.

picturesque spots overlooking the

with an extensive labyrinth of

Attenborough and be sure to stop

with Derek Jacobi. Tickets are

For family fun, why not head

bay without the summer crowds.

caverns surrounded by stalagmite

in at the hothouse.

selling fast!

to one of the world’s oldest zoos?

One way to get acquainted with

formations, this protected national

At The Lightbox gallery in

bristolzoo.org.uk baileyballoons.co.uk

from the exhibition Essential Accessories: Handbags and Heels at The Lightbox gallery, Woking

Housing over 400 exotic species,

the seafront is by following in the

monument is open daily for guided

Woking, highlights include The

as well as a new aerial rope course

footsteps of a celebrated former

tours that finish in an underground

Ingram Collection of Modern

for children who want to swing

resident - the Queen of Crime. The

exhibition chamber.

British Art comprising 300 thought-

alongside the natural tree

Agatha Christie Mile takes you on

Complete an action-packed day

provoking pieces spanning a

englishriviera.co.uk/

dwellers, Bristol Zoo Gardens is

a self-guided tour of 12 points of

with a gourmet dinner or show.

period of nearly 100 years. Don’t

events-and-entertainment

celebrating its landmark 175th

interest associated with the life

Foodies will want to savour the

miss the visiting exhibition,

birthday this year.

Michelin-starred cuisine served up

Essential Accessories: Handbags

Presenting a new perspective

by head chef Simon Hulstone at

and Heels, for an absorbing insight

on Bristol’s famous landmarks,

The Elephant Bar & Restaurant.

into the evolution of these fashion

including the stunning Clifton

Locally sourced seafood dishes are

must-haves from the 17th century

Suspension Bridge, flights with

a favourite but other British classics

to present day. Some designs

A city renowned for its culture and

Bailey Balloons last one hour

will keep meat lovers happy too.

have never been seen in the UK!

gastronomy, Bristol is also home

and are unique in terms of their

Alternatively book tickets for a

Weekend fun with a community

to one of the UK’s most popular

direction. Chilled champagne is

lively performance at the Princess

vibe can be found at the arts and

attractions. First launched in 1843

served after landing so you can

Theatre where the artistic choice

crafts market at Merton Abbey

to provide luxury travel to New

toast your journey in the sky.

ranges from comedy acts to ballet

Mills in Wimbledon. There’s live

York, Brunel’s majestic SS Great

If heights aren’t your thing,

to West End musicals.

music, delicious food and activities

Britain today forms the centrepiece

round off your day out with a

of an interactive experience

night at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Torquay’s waterfront

South of the River

designed to give visitors a taste

This city institution is known for

and work of the author. Staying

Journey to south London and

There are plenty of outstanding

of life at sea. Step back in time

putting on a great show and you’ll

with the crime theme, the Sleuths!

beyond to unearth varied cultural

theatres in the leafy suburbs

at the Dockyard Museum before

find yourself singing and dancing

Festival is a rare opportunity to

diversions. Located within the

including the New

boarding ship as a Victorian

to hit musicals such as Hairspray

hear thriller writers like Robert

Bromley district, Down House was

Wimbledon

passenger to navigate beautifully

and Avenue Q.

Goddard discussing their favourite

once the home of Charles Darwin

Theatre, the

Feature by

subject, while getting involved in

and it was in this peaceful family

Churchill

Neena Dhillon

englishriviera.co.uk englishriviera.co.uk/ agathachristie/christies-country

kents-cavern.co.uk elephantrestaurant.co.uk english-heritage.org.uk/ daysout/properties/home-ofcharles-darwin-down-house thelightbox.org.uk mertonabbeymills.org.uk For details of New Wimbledon Theatre, Churchill Theatre Bromley, New Victoria Theatre Woking and Richmond Theatre see AmbassadorTickets.com For Bristol Hippodrome & Princess Theatre Torquay 17

Kents Cavern

see atgv.co.uk

St Nicholas Market

Fascinating Bristol

recreated spaces filled with

conceived for kids and the young at heart.

18


‘i felt i might actually die of laughter’ the independent

TOURINGALOT ACROSS THE UK IN A.D. 2011 21 - 26 feb

cambridge corn exchange

01223 357851

28 feb - 5 mar sunderland empire

0844 847 24 99

7 - 12 mar

the ipswich regent

01473 433100

14 - 19 mar

alhambra theatre bradford

01274 432 000

22 - 26 mar

congress theatre eastbourne 01323 412000

28 mar - 2 apr aylesbury waterside theatre 0844 871 7607 4 - 9 apr

the orchard dartford

01322 220000

11 - 16 apr

de montfort hall leicester

0116 233 3111

18 - 23 apr

the grand theatre blackpool 01253 290190

25 - 30 apr

grand theatre wolverhampton 01902 42 92 19

2 - 7 may

hull new theatre

01482 226655

9 - 14 may

grand canal theatre dublin

0844 847 2455

17 - 21 may

grand opera house belfast

028 9024 1919

1 - 4 jun

New Wimbledon Theatre

0844 871 7646

6 - 11 jun

mayflower southampton

02380 711811

Bkg fees may apply

STARRING MEDY KING OF CO

PH I L L J U PI T U S

Visit www.spamalotontour.co.uk for all the latest information

ATG Magazine Spring 2011  

Ambassador Theatre Group Magazine Spring 2011

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