Newport Writer’s Play To Launch New Season at Dolman Theatre

July 15, 2014

A play by a writer from Newport has been selected to launch the new season by Newport Playgoers at the 400-seat Dolman Theatre.

Phil Mansell, writer of 'According to Claudia'

Phil Mansell

Phil Mansell’s play ‘According To Claudia’ was chosen by the society’s artistic committee to open a line-up which includes plays by Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, Ira Levin, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

“I feel honoured and proud that my play has been selected to be among work by such illustrious writers,” said 63-year-old Phil, whose wife Caroline will be directing the production.

A tense moment as former crook Micky (Paul Howells) confronts his disapproving father-in-law Michael (Chris Bissex-Williams) as Lucy (Eloise Rossiter) looks on in 'According to Claudia'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A tense moment as former crook Micky (Paul Howells) confronts his disapproving father-in-law Michael (Chris Bissex-Williams) as Lucy (Eloise Rossiter) looks on. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“The play is a comedy drama about the secrets that emerge when a family gathers to celebrate the 80th birthday of a crusty Oxford don.

His daughters fuel the fire by bringing along partners who include a crime writer and a former East End gangster returning in disguise from the Costa del Crime.”

Three sisters are reunited in Phil Mansell's play 'According to Claudia: Lucy (Eloise Rossiter), Claudia (Angharad Jones) and Belle (Karen Davies). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Three sisters are reunited – Lucy (Eloise Rossiter), Claudia (Angharad Jones) and Belle (Karen Davies). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A mystery gunman interrupts the planning of the birthday party in Phil Mansell's play 'According to Claudia'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A mystery gunman interrupts the planning of the birthday party. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This is the latest success that Phil has enjoyed as a writer. His play ‘Poor Yorick’ was a winning entry in a competition run as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project and was performed at both the Dolman Theatre and at Blackwood Little Theatre.

Phil’s play ‘Bunkered’  was one of the winning entries in a competition judged by Welsh playwright Frank Vickery, and enjoyed a very successful run at the Dolman Theatre. 

‘According To Claudia’ is at the Dolman Theatre from10  –13 September at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Minack Hosts ‘Pygmalion’ – Shaw’s Version of the ‘X Factor’!

June 25, 2014
As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Anyone who enjoys TV shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent will see that George Bernard Shaw got there first in his 1912 play Pygmalion, which formed the basis of the hit musical My Fair Lady.

The playwright anticipates the pleasures and dangers of taking the dreams of a working class girl and attempting to transform her into a star in the latest production by Newport Playgoers Society when it returns to the Minack Theatre from 7 – 11 July.

Housekeeper Mrs Pearce (Claudia Barnes) announces the arrival of dustman Alfred Doolittle (Richard Dymond) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Housekeeper Mrs Pearce (Claudia Barnes) announces the arrival of dustman Alfred Doolittle (Richard Dymond) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Eliza Doolittle’s wish is modest by today’s ambitions – she wants to be a lady with a flower shop,” says the play’s director Kevin Myers.

“So phonetics professor Henry Higgins admits her to his version of boot camp where she is scrubbed, clothed and subjected to intensive lessons in diction.

“For Higgins and his friend Colonel Pickering it’s an irresistible experiment – to teach Cockney flower girl Eliza to speak and act like a lady and pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. But for Eliza it’s a lifeline.”

Eliza chats to a real lady Mrs Eynsford Hill (Chris Burrows) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Eliza chats to a real lady Mrs Eynsford Hill (Chris Burrows) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Newport Playgoers have a well-earned reputation for staging outstanding productions and their last play at the Minack, Moliere’s ‘The Hypochondriac’, received rave reviews.

‘Pygmalion’ is at the Minack Theatre from Monday 7 to Friday 11 July. To book tickets call the Box Office on 01736 810181 or visit www.minack.com.


Pygmalion – Shaw to Please ‘X Factor’ Fans

May 27, 2014
As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Anyone who enjoys TV shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent will see that George Bernard Shaw got there first in his 1912 play Pygmalion, which formed the basis of the hit musical My Fair Lady.

The playwright anticipates the pleasures and dangers of taking the dreams of a working class girl and attempting to transform her into a star in this latest production by Newport Playgoers.

When Eliza (Rache Fenwick) is transformed into a lady she has many admirers including Freddie Eynsford Hill (Tyron Davies Sullivan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

When Eliza (Rache Fenwick) is transformed into a lady she has many admirers including Freddie Eynsford Hill (Tyron Davies Sullivan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Eliza Doolittle’s wish is modest by today’s ambitions – she wants to be a lady with a flower shop,” says the play’s director Kevin Myers. “So phonetics professor Henry Higgins admits her to his version of boot camp where she is scrubbed, clothed and subjected to intensive lessons in diction.

“For Higgins and his friend Colonel Pickering it’s an irresistible experiment – to teach Cockney flower girl Eliza to speak and act like a lady and pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. But for Eliza it’s a lifeline.”

The transformation from Cockney flower girl to well-spoken lady is complete. Rachel Fenwick as Eliza Doolittle. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The transformation from Cockney flower girl to well-spoken lady is complete. Rachel Fenwick as Eliza Doolittle. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Higgins clearly sees Eliza, at least at first, as a human trophy he can add to his collection of professional triumphs, but when the end result produces a very ladylike Miss Doolittle, the lessons learned become much more far reaching. The successful musical My Fair Lady was based on this Bernard Shaw classic.

‘Pygmalion’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 June at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

This production will also be going to the marvellous open air Minack Theatre in Cornwall in July.


Four times the fun and laughter in ‘Duets’

April 29, 2014
Shelley (Nicky Davies) overdoes the sangria while newly divorced ex-hubby Bobby (Graeme Johnson) looks on. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Shelley (Nicky Davies) overdoes the sangria while newly divorced ex-hubby Bobby (Graeme Johnson) looks on. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Four pairs of characters at four crucial moments in their lives – welcome to the world of ‘Duets’. 

Newport Playgoers’ next production explores four very different relationships.

Jonathon and Wendy are on a blind date and hoping to get it right this time even though they’ve never got it right before. Barrie is not really interested in women but his secretary Janet sees that as no reason to stop trying.

Champagne corks pop when Janet (Clare Jacobs) goes to Barrie’s flat (Chris Bissex-Williams) for a meal. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Champagne corks pop when Janet (Clare Jacobs) goes to Barrie’s flat (Chris Bissex-Williams) for a meal. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Shelley and Bobby have decided to holiday in Spain to finalise their divorce whilst drowning in cocktails. Angela is marrying for the third time to the dismay of brother Toby and amidst a barrage of bad omens and a dress resembling a parachute.

Wendy (Claudia Barnes) and Jonathon (Laurence Llewellyn) enjoy a quick tango on their blind date. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Wendy (Claudia Barnes) and Jonathon (Laurence Llewellyn) enjoy a quick tango on their blind date. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Put them all together and you have a quartet of scenarios in a gloriously funny examination of the chaotic world of love and relationships. Peter Quilter’s award-winning play, which has much in common with the work of Neil Simon, blends humour with pathos. ‘Duets’ is a hilarious tribute to the strength and madness of the human heart.

‘Duets’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 14  – Saturday 17 May at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Toby (Jerry Grummit) panics when his sister Angela (Clare Drewett) spills coffee on her hideous dress moments before her third wedding. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Toby (Jerry Grummit) panics when his sister Angela (Clare Drewett) spills coffee on her hideous dress moments before her third wedding. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

 


Award-Winning Composer Howard Goodall sends Good Luck Message to Playgoers

March 24, 2014

BAFTA-winning composer Howard Goodall has sent a personal good luck message to the director and cast of his musical ‘Love Story’ which receives its Welsh premiere at the Dolman Theatre in April.

It’s love at first sight for Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It’s love at first sight for Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Mr Goodall, whose musicals have won many international awards, took time off from composing his latest work, to write to Steve Bissex-Williams who is directing the musical version of the hit 1970s tear-jerker.

“I was really pleased to receive the letter from such an illustrious composer who has won EMMY, BRIT and BAFTAs for his choral music, stage musicals, film and TV scores such as ‘Blackadder’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’,” said Steve. “He apologised for missing our production but he’ll be busy in France writing his latest musical.”

Mr Goodall wrote, “I hope you could pass on to the company my very best wishes for the opening night and the subsequent performances in Newport. I am touched that your interest in the piece stretches back to its first incarnation at the Minerva Chichester.

The cast rehearse with musical director Jeff Davies at the piano. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast rehearse with musical director Jeff Davies at the piano. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“’Love Story’ presents a fair few challenges for its performers, especially those playing Jenny and Oliver who are more or less never off stage, and for the emotional stamina of its audience but I do hope that your players and audience alike will find it also surprisingly good-humoured, even funny, before its closing stages. Oddly enough, for a show with such a famously sad ending, we were a very happy crew putting it together in Chichester and London and enjoyed many a laugh in the rehearsal room. I very much hope that same has been true of your Newport company and you might have been encouraged by the experience to try on another occasion one of my other musicals with sad endings!

Smiles hide a secret heartache when Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) marry. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Smiles hide a secret heartache when Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) marry. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“So break some collective legs and here’s to a great success for you all. Again, thank you for bringing Love Story to Welsh audiences with such obvious dedication and enthusiasm.”

Based on the best-selling novel by Erich Segal, the musical tells of a rich boy, Oliver, who falls in love with a poor girl, Jenny. He is a Harvard graduate who comes from a wealthy family, Jenny is a working-class, quick-witted student. He is sporty, she plays music. The two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver’s father who severs all ties with his son and cuts off his financial support. The couple struggle to survive as Oliver works his way through Harvard Law School.

‘Love Story – The Musical’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 April at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Welsh Premiere for Musical Version of ‘Love Story’

March 9, 2014
It’s love at first sight for Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It’s love at first sight for Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The classic 1970s tear-jerker ‘Love Story’ has been turned into a musical – and will be making its Welsh premiere at the Dolman Theatre in April.

The new musical version, inspired by Erich Segal’s best-selling iconic novel, is being presented by Newport Playgoers as part of their 91st season.

One of the most romantic films of all time, it tells the moving story of Oliver Barrett IV who went to Harvard and Jenny Cavilleri, a student at the less well-to-do Radcliffe.

The cast rehearse with musical director Jeff Davies at the piano. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast rehearse with musical director Jeff Davies at the piano. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The musical has been adapted from the highly successful tear-jerking romantic film of the same name which starred Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw – and made famous the inspired line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“We’re proud to be the first in Wales to present this musical version of a much-loved classic,” said director Steve Bissex-Williams.

“It has all the ingredients for a classic love story and the music for this revised version is by Howard Goodall, an EMMY, BRIT and BAFTA-winning composer of choral music, stage musicals, film and TV scores (including ‘Blackadder’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’). His musicals have won many international awards, including Ivor Novello and TMA Awards for Best Musical.

The crowd goes wild when Oliver plays in a tense ice hockey game. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The crowd goes wild when Oliver plays in a tense ice hockey game. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“It tells of a rich boy, Oliver, who falls in love with a poor girl, Jenny. He is a Harvard graduate who comes from a wealthy family, she is a working-class, quick-witted student. He is sporty, she plays music.

A brawl in the ice hockey game leaves Oliver (David Constant) needing attention from the doctor (Peter Bourne) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A brawl in the ice hockey game leaves Oliver (David Constant) needing attention from the doctor (Peter Bourne) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“The two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver’s father who severs all ties with his son and cuts off his financial support. The couple struggle to survive as Oliver works his way through Harvard Law School. Their romance is as poignant as it is enriching, as sweet as it is intense. The musical version of ‘Love Story’ will win your heart – and it might just break it.”

‘Love Story – The Musical’  will be making its Welsh premiere at the Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 2 – Saturday 5 April at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Smiles hide a secret heartache when Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) marry. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Smiles hide a secret heartache when Oliver (David Constant) and Jenny (Eloise Rossiter) marry. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


Sherlock Holmes Confronts Horror in Theatreland

February 11, 2014

Sherlock Holmes (James Reynolds) and Dr Watson (James Symonds) prepare to investigate. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Sherlock Holmes (James Reynolds) and Dr Watson (James Symonds) prepare to investigate. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

There’s a killer on the loose in the West End of fog-shrouded Victorian London. Aspiring playwright George Bernard Shaw decides it’s a case for celebrated sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson to investigate.

Inspector Lestrade (Richard Dymond) points the way for a young copper (Aidan Thomas) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Inspector Lestrade (Richard Dymond) points the way for a young copper (Aidan Thomas) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

In ‘Sherlock Holmes and the West End Horror’, Playgoers New Generation (PNG) present a cavalcade of famous names from the era. Oscar Wilde, Gilbert and Sullivan, Bram Stoker and a young H.G. Wells all fall under suspicion when a despised theatre critic is brutally murdered.

Oscar Wilde (Ryan Salter) entertains Bosie (Aidan Thomas) and his friend Hopkins (Tim Hawken) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Oscar Wilde (Ryan Salter) entertains Bosie (Aidan Thomas) and his friend Hopkins (Tim Hawken) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The game’s afoot as Holmes and Watson pursue the killer in this rollickingly funny whodunnit – and come face to face with their own celebrity.

This latest production by PNG follows on from their highly successful adaptation of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ and features many familiar faces.

Mrs Hudson (Ann Kelly) listens as Holmes (James Reynolds) plays his violin. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Mrs Hudson (Ann Kelly) listens as Holmes (James Reynolds) plays his violin. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“We try to be inclusive in PNG,” said founder member James Reynolds who plays Sherlock. “So as well as younger people we have guest appearances by some of Playgoers’ finest actors such as Richard Dymond, Ann Kelly and Graeme Johnson, all of whom will be well known to regulars at the Dolman Theatre.

The cream of London society enjoy the opening night of a new play - not realising a killer is on the loose. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cream of London society enjoy the opening night of a new play – not realising a killer is on the loose. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“This play is a very witty take on the Sherlock Holmes stories which we’re sure audiences will find intriguing and highly entertaining.”

‘Sherlock Holmes and the West End Horror’ by Anthony Dodge and Marcia Milgrom Dodge is at the Dolman Theatre from 6  – 7  March at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 8  March at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

The play is presented by special arrangement with Playscripts.Inc.

Inspector Lestrade (Richard Dymond) and Dr Eccles (Graeme Johnson) examine murder victim Jessie Rutland (Rachel Fenwick) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Inspector Lestrade (Richard Dymond) and Dr Eccles (Graeme Johnson) examine murder victim Jessie Rutland (Rachel Fenwick) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


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