Hilarious mishaps and DIY disasters are bringing the house down, quite literally, as Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em returns to Richmond Theatre starring Joe Pasquale!
Based on the 1970s classic TV comedy by Ray Allen and directed by the award-winning Guy Unsworth, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is the ultimate feel-good night out, washed down with lashings of nostalgia and Mother’s prune wine.
After receiving 21 five star reviews in 2018, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is back on tour starring Joe Pasquale (New Faces, I’m a Celebrity, Spamalot, The Producers) as the lovable accident-prone Frank Spencer.
Susie Blake (Coronation Street, The Victoria Wood Show, Blithe Spirit) stars as his disapproving Mother-in-Law and Sarah Earnshaw as his long-suffering wife Betty.
Betty has exciting news for Frank, but he’s preoccupied by possible newfound fame as a magician. With guests arriving for dinner and crossed wires all round, priceless misunderstandings are on the menu. Quite Frank-ly, it’s a hit!
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is at Richmond Theatre from Tue 31 May – Sat 4 June.
Community concert raises £3,000 for DEC Ukraine Appeal
A community concert, organised by local preparatory school St George’s School Windsor Castle and hosted by Windsor Parish Church, raised over £3,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal.
Beginning with a champagne and canapé reception, more than 100 parents and members of the local community took their sets for the event on April 28th and enjoyed a stirring rendition of Fauré’s Requiem.
Led by the school’s director of music, James Wilkinson, the 40-minute piece of work was performed by the St George’s School Chamber Choir, accompanied by an ensemble of professional musicians. Four of the senior choristers of St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, all Year 8 students at the school, joined the stage for the spine-tingling Pie Jesu.
“It was an exceptional and highly poignant performance, perfect for the occasion,” commented William Goldsmith, head of St George’s School Windsor Castle. “As a school with the values of kindness, honesty and courage, we felt rightly compelled to use some of the breadth of talent that exists across the school to support the plight of the people of Ukraine in a positive and meaningful way.”
The money raised, through advance ticket sales and donations on the night, will be given to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal to help provide food, water, shelter, healthcare and protection for families fleeing conflict in the country.
“We are extremely grateful for all of the generous donations from those who attended, the musicians and performers for donating their time and the support from the school’s parent body and wider community to enable the event to go ahead,” added Goldsmith.
Windsor Parish Church, Brill Media, Run Print Run and Luxe Flowers were among those to support the event.
Further information about St George’s School Windsor Castle can be found at www.stgwindsor.org, or by attending the school’s upcoming open event on Saturday 21 May. Interested families are invited to register for the event via the website or by calling 01753 865553
Abingdon’s Unicorn Theatre is the stage for inaugural production
Catch new theatre company Moonhawk in action from Wednesday, 30th March until Saturday, 2nd April when they’ll be performing a new version of a classic tale.
The fledgling company will be staging Nick Dear’s version of Frankenstein based on the Mary Shelley original at the Unicorn Theatre full of all the Gothic and romantic elements that have made this tale popular still more than 200 years later.
Victor Frankenstein (Nick Kovari) constructs a creature from recovered body parts. When his creation comes to life he runs away in horror and abandons it. The creature wanders across Europe, trying to escape violence and hunger. When he is taught to read and write by a blind teacher he learns about his creator and begins a new journey to find Frankenstein and to get answers.
This is the first production from Moonhawk who will perform a wide range of plays, old and new and welcome anyone and everyone with an interest in all aspects of theatre production, either on stage or behind the scenes. The new theatre company has been created to give opportunities to actors and technicians of all ages with the aim of supporting those wanting to go to drama school.
Moonhawk founder Leon Witcomb said: “I caught the drama bug over 10 years ago and have been acting, directing and stage managing ever since. More recently I’ve entered the world of producing, hence Moonhawk Productions.
“We’re based in Abingdon-on-Thames and we use several locations to put on our diverse types of
drama. We operate an “open door” policy meaning that anyone can be part of Moonhawk – on stage, back stage, production and front of house.”
Leon added: “My mentor and the catalyst for my drama career is my old drama class teacher, Andrea Mardon. She taught me from a very early age and directed me in many shows and inspired me to take acting and producing seriously. Thanks Andrea!
“Moonhawk have some really amazing plays, as they say in politics – shovel ready and raring to go! Watch this space!”
Lazing in the bubbling jacuzzi, gazing up at the round ceiling window, where concentric circles of rain pulse outwards… this is about as close to Zen as I can remember feeling.
I have entered the round, inviting, Hobbit-like door to the bijou spa at the bottom of the walled garden at The Eastbury in Sherbourne. Inside is a nurturing safe haven that feels a million miles from the daily hubbub, with a luxury wet spa, hydrotherapy tub, sauna and treatment room where even the most frazzled can feel their cares melt away.
Treatments on offer from healing hands include nourishing facials, stone therapy and deep tissue massage, using the premier cru of wellness brands Caudalie. There is also an outdoor jacuzzi for good measure, and you can book exclusive use of the spa suite or perhaps treat yourself to a nourishing body wrap or tub and scrub.
If you are worn out by your own life and need a restorative change of scene, I can think of few places more suited than The Eastbury. The recently refurbished 26-bedroom country house hotel is the winner of the “best value experience” in the prestigious Conde Nast 2022 awards for Excellence.
Sherborne – the ancient capital of Dorset – is a sleepy market town with many local gardens (Stourhead, Minterne, Tintinhill), fly fishing, hot air ballooning, Sherborne Castle and Abbey. The area is surrounded by National Trust and English Heritage Sites and is a great base from which to explore the Dorset coast including Chesil Beach, Durdle Door, West Bay and Brownsea Island (a drive away of less than 45 minutes).
The five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites are beautifully appointed, snuggly warm and cosy, thanks to their underfloor heating. Each one has its own entrance and tri-folding rear doors so you can enjoy the private terrace and gaze at the stars, alongside the fire pit. These get-away suites are nestled in the award-winning gardens of the 17th century stone period property, where the outdoor seating, croquet, badminton, table tennis and large chess set add to the quirky charm of this luxury getaway. The newly refurbished Eastbury Cottage is has three generous bedrooms, if you’re looking for a group stay.
There are some dog-friendly rooms with comfy canine beds, bowls, treats, a squeaky dog toy and even a welcome letter from the owner’s chihuahua Monty. Each beautiful room offers a walks guide so that you can venture out to make the most of the local scenery, including Badbury Rings, Glastonbury Tor and the River Yeo.
Whatever your stress levels, a stay promises to top up your mojo levels and leave you feeling pampered, refreshed and ready to face the world anew. Aaaaaaand relax!
Doubles from £206 B&B per night. Eastbury Cottage price based on two people is £625 per night or £4,375 for seven nights. Price based on four people or more is £850 per night or £5,950 for seven nights on a self-catering basis. Includes a private garden, six-seater outdoor table, barbecue and a classic garden hot tub (available from the end of September). Minimum two-night stay. For more info or to book a stay visit theeastburyhotel.co.uk or call 01935 813131.
We have a five-star overnight stay with spa & dinner for two people at The Eastbury to give away! Click here to enter
Mill Rythe – Away Resorts is the place for everyone this summer!
A little bit of luxury, taking a chance to make your holiday in Hayling island memorable and a relaxing experience. Located right on the Hampshire coast is the place to be this summer.
Taking a dip in the swimming pool to grabbing some lunch (highly recommend their Moules of the Day!) to enjoying the outdoor cinema nights and acoustic vibes over a freshly poured cocktail.
From a relaxing break just the two of you, enjoying a hot tub or a family with kids and the dog, Away Resorts can tailor your holiday to the perfect break away that is just what you needed.
As our first family holiday we spent the week at Mill Rythe – from the most amazing accommodation with a coastal breeze, outstanding food and service we received whilst enjoying our break.· The Islander Train – on the seafront.
Top things to do when staying at Mill Rythe;
· The Islander Train – on the seafront
· Staunton Country Park
· Blue Reef Aquarium
· The hovercraft over to Isle of Wight
· Ferryboat Inn
Away Resorts will always be top of our list for our staycations; as a family or as a couple; www.awayresorts.co.uk
Haslemere Methodist Church is the venue for a series of stunning lunchtime and evening concerts
Haslemere Methodist Church is bringing a varied programme of instrumental classical music to the community through its ‘music brings people together’ series of concerts.
The project, spearheaded by flautist Susan Milan, embraces not only a concert series, but also an educational programme to inspire young musicians in local schools through workshops and a woodwind competition planned for May this year. Susan is a professor of the Royal College of Music and Trinitylaban Conservatory of Music and Founder and Director of the British Isles Music Festival.
The new year brings three evening concerts given by members of the London Chamber Music Group, the resident ensemble of Haslemere Methodist Church, and three lunchtime charity concerts given by young musicians from UK conservatories of music.
The concerts are held in the beautiful Sanctuary of the church with its friendly atmosphere and lovely acoustics.
The first charity concert of the year is on Thursday, 20th January at noon and this will be given by a young piano trio from the Royal College of Music consisting of flute (Ziqin Chen), oboe (Junhao Fu) and piano (Yihan Jin).
Admission is free with donations welcomed for charities chosen by Haslemere Methodist Church. Enjoy cappuccino and cake in the coffee room before the concert.
The next lunchtime charity concert will be on Thursday, 10th February at noon featuring The Chiltern Winds, a wind quintet from the Royal Academy of Music.
The first Thursday evening concert on February 24th is a cello and piano recital featuring Christopher Jepson, co-principal cello of the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland and UK pianist Daniel King-Smith.
The woodwind competition and workshops are planned for March in collaboration with local state schools, with the competition winners’ concert in May.
Paul Zerdin on his Hands Free show at Camberley Theatre on Tuesday, 21st September
By popular demand, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin is back, with Sam, Albert, Roger the bodyguard and an urban fox, all set for his show & tour. Liz Nicholls finds out more about the “one-man Muppet show”
Most of us have felt as if our wings have been clipped over the last 18 months. But Paul Zerdin and his motley crew of puppets are feeling more than a little liberated ahead of their live tour…
“Cannot bloody wait!” says Paul. “For once I think I know how the puppets feel being locked away after this last year locked down! I’m itching to get back on stage with a load of new gags and just be able to travel again.”
In case you’re uninitiated in his shows, Paul, who wowed the judges to be crowned winner of America’s Got Talent in 2015, describes it as a mixture of stand-up comedy with puppets… “Some sections use animatronic puppets which I control and voice, all live, and so it’s kind of like a one-man Muppet show with me at the helm trying to control my alter egos!”
Over lockdown Paul was kept busy writing the tour script for Hands Free. “It takes me a long time to come up with a new show. Lockdown has been a very creative time for me – I was lucky enough to work all last summer for Butlin’s as they moved their shows outdoors. I also wrote, produced and presented my own TV comedy series for YouTube which took up a lot of time but was enormous fun and am now talking to a major broadcaster about it. I also worked on my culinary skills, worked out at home and enjoyed vodka in the evenings!
“Camberley & Basingstoke [both on the tour] are two venues I know really well as before I was able to tour on my own I used to support a lot of famous names on tour including Brian Conley, Joe Pasquale and Ronnie Corbett. I have nothing but happy memories of touring these venues with what I can remember amazing audiences.”
With the lines of reality blurred in his shows, sometimes it’s confusing even for Paul to know who’s running it. To make sure he remains in charge, Paul is bringing his bodyguard Roger – who claims to be ex-CIA – to help him keep Sam, Albert and Baby in order as well as an urban fox. Hands Free also features Paul giving us a glimpse into his own reality, demonstrating what it’s like to be able to throw your voice in everyday situations where anything and everything can talk back.
If Paul had a magic wand what would he wish for the world? “I’d wish everybody download my Paul Zerdin – All Mouth Live Special on Amazon & iTunes; that way I could spread happiness, laughter and become financially secure!
This August, opera, fairy-tale and musical theatre will combine in a spectacular show, Goblin Market at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.
“Goblin Market is a chamber opera like no other that stands out from other British Youth Music Theatre shows. With complex musical harmonies, it reveals the unlimited imagination and enthusiasm of its young cast, who will at last unleash their incredible talent after many months of confinement. It promises to be a truly spectacular show,” says Zoë Wanamaker, BYMT patron.
A new extraordinary musical theatre adaptation of Christina Rosetti’s famous tale, Goblin Market is coming to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on 26th-28th August.
With music by renowned composer Conor Mitchell, this enchanting chamber opera of high energy physical theatre and complex musical harmonies charts the story of two sisters tempted by goblin merchant men. Unmissable, tempting, controversial, seductive… can you hear the Goblin call?
Director Gerard Jones (The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, La Scala) says: “Theatre centres on shared experiences, both for the audience and the performers. BYMT’s work gives this experience to the young people, and to us creatives working closely with them. I wanted to work again with the company since the first time I directed a piece there. That show had one if the very best group bonds I’ve ever experienced among cast and crew, and I’m sure that will be the same again also with this darkly exciting piece.”
One of the young performers, Grace Murray 18 from Market Drayton, Shropshire, says: “I have absolutely loved my BYMT experience. I’m playing Laura in Goblin Market and I’m enjoying every second of rehearsals. It’s so rewarding to take part in a show where everyone is as dedicated to the project as to each other, which also comes from the incredible score and an amazing team of creatives”.
This spectacular production was last seen in Edinburgh in 2005 and was hailed by press and public alike as a huge success:
“Magical… Kath Burlinson and Conor Mitchell have created the ideal vehicle for such a versatile and talented company of performers’ – Belfast Telegraph
“A brilliant production…energetic, dynamic, exciting, superb… Conor Mitchell has excelled here with a demanding and ambitious score…” – Irish News
“The greatest musical Sondheim never wrote…” – Broadwaybaby.com
As they celebrate their 15th birthday, Guildford Shakespeare Company are preparing to bring She Stoops To Conquer to life in the gardens of Guildford Castle. Rick Murphy & Lisa Dvorjetz review their recent live-streamed performance of Henry V…
Live theatre is one of the countless scarcities of the Covid-19 era, and during an exhausting lockdown, as the nation craves a return to art and culture, the Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) staged a virtual production of Henry V. Maybe the play’s timely theme, which reveres British power over Europe, reminds us that, for the last 800 years, history has been set to repeat. In a mere 75 minutes, the cast and crew transported us from the alehouses of England to the battlefields of France. But, can our modern video technology really compete with the grandeur of a theatre performance?
Watching Henry V on a tablet felt like receiving a Zoom call from the 1300s. The fifth wall was creatively protected by a five-actor cast who meticulously changed clothes, props, scenes, accents, stage positions, from the comfort of their own homes, while presumably entertaining hordes of neighbours too. This was a fascinating and novel experience because, as well as being transported into the homes of the actors, we were also “Zoomed” into the homes of other audience members. Performing a show online has the potential for losing a theatre ambiance; however, this production created a slight voyeuristic effect which allowed you to track viewers’ reactions and feel part of a shared experience.
Don’t worry, you could switch your camera off!
Historical plays are sombre, and they yearn for a strong fit between each element of the performance. Watching each actor on “speaker view” made the characters seem intimate and the drama immersive. In one night-time scene, Henry, played by Gavin Fowler, was considering his claim to the French crown. It was choreographed in such a way that the background images were dimmed, home lights were turned off, and phone torches were used to create a fluttering sense of firelight. Sitting inside a theatre means each poignant whisper must carry to those unfortunate souls in the back row, but in the ease of a virtual play one is invited into a dialogue with each character personally. This made for a stirring entry into their fictional world.
Gavin embodied the energy and focus that one could imagine the young Henry V to have possessed. Chris Porter, Emily Tucker, Paula James and Matt Pinches managed to transition between the diverse country folk and nobles by use of their colourful costumes and wide array of accents. Some moments were unintentionally slapstick, particularly where the storyline hurried along too quickly, where background images were cartoonishly bright, with one actor showing clear signs of dial-up internet; but experiencing the victory of the battlefield from the comfort of home, patriotically munching on popcorn from our own front row, made this modern-take on Henry V a welcome and entertaining experience.
Here we are, a full year after lockdown was announced. Let’s face it, tempers feel a little bit frayed this week, which is natural, really, as we approach the final furlong towards (hopeful) freedom!
So we were wondering… what have you missed most over the last 12 months? Maybe it’s something you took for granted BC (before Covid). That coffee & cake break with workmates… Your routine hair appointment… Saturday sport.
As you know we’re raising a glass to our hospitality heroes with our R&A Good Cheer awards because eating & drinking while supporting our local pubs, restaurants, delicatessens is right up there at the top of our list. Watch this space for news of the winners soon!
Entertainment is another industry we salute, as we remain hopeful of the roadmap to freedom allowing us to enjoy theatre again. As Louise Chantal, co-director of The Oxford Playhouse puts it: “We miss our friends. I think of the scores of youngsters in our 17-25 Young Company, who were in their last week of a year’s preparation for their showcase production when we closed [in March 2020], and our long-standing amateur partners – Oxford Theatre Guild, Oxford Operatics and Opera Oxford – whose yearly extravaganzas at the Playhouse bring together hundreds of local people, from every possible background, to put on a show.
The Oxford Playhouse team, intermittently furloughed and each covering several people’s jobs, transferred all the participation and artist development programmes online (leading the march to digital nationally) and have worked with over 4,500 young people and community group members to ‘stay creative’ during lockdown. “We kept telling stories and supporting artists all through this crazy year,” says Louise.
Check out the Oxford Playhouse co-production of The Picture of Dorian Gray, starring Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley, and upcoming highlights.
With a summer of festivals shelved last spring, the idea of enjoying the pick of the area’s crop of get-togethers this summer feels like a dream… Boomtown near Winchester is tentatively set to go ahead in August, with tickets selling out this month.
“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve moved on from what felt like the world’s longest winter to all of the joys of spring and the collective excitement to reclaim the summer for hugging friends and family and dancing until our shoes fall off…” said the team.
“It’s still a long and rather complicated road to get there, but if we’re allowed to go ahead, words will never be able to fully describe the sheer love and energy that will radiate through this year’s fair.
The team behind Reading (and its northern sister festival Leeds) are also delighted to have sold out all tickets to eager festival-lovers, with Stormzy, Postmalone, Disclosure and Liam Gallagher ready to rock after a quiet year!
So…. what have you missed? Tell us on Twitter and we will be here to celebrate all of these returning joys with you!!!