Playgoer’s Season Finale will be Absolute ‘Nunsense’!

June 2, 2015

Newport Playgoers are set to end their 92nd season of plays with an award-winning musical extravaganza that started life as a series of greetings cards. 

The Little Sisters of Hoboken prepare to entertain audiences with a show to raise funds to bury their fellow nuns who were poisoned by the convent cook. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Little Sisters of Hoboken prepare to entertain audiences with a show to raise funds to bury their fellow nuns who were poisoned by the convent cook. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The comic nuns proved so popular that their creator, Dan Goggin, turned them into a cabaret and then expanded that into a full length theatre production.

‘Nunsense’ ran for over 3,500 performances and won the Best Off Broadway Musical award.

The musical romp tells of the Little Sisters of Hoboken and their crazy antics after the convent cook serves up some dodgy soup resulting in 52 nuns dying of botulism.

Sister Amnesia (Eloise Rossiter) rehearses her ventriloquist act. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Sister Amnesia (Eloise Rossiter) rehearses her ventriloquist act. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Luckily a few of the nuns were busy playing bingo and were spared this terrible fate. But to their horror they realise the convent hasn’t the funds to pay for the funerals.

The Mother Superior decides she and her fellow nuns will use the left-over set for a production of ‘Grease’ to stage a variety show packed with hilarious show-stopping song and dance numbers to raise the money for the funerals. There follows a hail of fun and frolics as they try to achieve their aim.

The season opened with 'According to Claudia' by local playwright Phil Mansell. The play won Best Theatre Show award presented by entertainment and lifestyle magazine Voice. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The season opened with ‘According to Claudia’ by local playwright Phil Mansell. The play won Best Theatre Show award presented by entertainment and lifestyle magazine Voice. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The season has been another success for Playgoers who own and run the city’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre.

Beginning with ‘According to Claudia’, a play by local writer Phil Mansell, it included the thriller ‘Deathtrap’ and three plays commemorating the First World War including last month’s funny yet thought-provoking ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’.

One of the highlights of the season was the  thriller 'Deathtrap' (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

One of the highlights of the season was the thriller ‘Deathtrap’ (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers are already looking forward to next season which begins in September with ‘Up Pompeii’ the stage version of the show that Frankie Howerd made such a hit on TV.

'Blackadder Goes Forth' was one of three plays commemorating the outbreak of World War One. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ was one of three plays commemorating the outbreak of World War One. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Other forthcoming attractions include ‘The Ladykillers’ based on the classic Ealing comedy and ‘The Graduate’.

 

‘Nunsense is at the Dolman Theatre from 17 – 20 June at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Playgoers introduce Signing for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

May 27, 2015

Following the success of a trial run, Newport Playgoers will be using signing for theatregoers who are deaf or hard of hearing at their next production, ‘Nunsense’ – as well as for at least six of their next season’s productions.

Signing expert Gaye Hampton is pictured (second from left at the back) getting in the mood by donning a habit and joining the cast of Nunsense in rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Signing expert Gaye Hampton is pictured (second from left at the back) getting in the mood by donning a habit and joining the cast of Nunsense in rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The signing will be done by Gaye Hampton from the Sign Language Studies Centre which provides deaf, deaf blind and disability training and consultancy services to both individuals and organisations at their centre in Newport or in-house across the UK.

Gaye, who is profoundly deaf herself,  is committed to improving communication and access for all deaf, deafblind and disabled people.

Gaye has a keen interest in the entertainment world and is working with Claudia Barnes, chairperson of Playgoers’ Artistic committee, to develop a project where the Dolman theatre becomes more accessible to deaf people by provision of an interpreter for some of the productions throughout the year.

The signing symbol which will be displayed on posters and the website when signing will be available for a Playgoers perfromance

The signing symbol which will be displayed on posters and the website when signing will be available for a Playgoers perfromance

As well as June’s production of the musical romp ‘Nunsense’, signing will be used at the Thursday evening performance of  six of next season’s plays including ‘The Ladykillers’, ‘The Graduate’ and ‘The Haunting’.

‘Nunsense’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 17 – 20 June at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. There will be signing for the deaf and hard of hearing members of the audience at the Saturday night performance. For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Blackadder and Baldrick All Set to Go Forth in Newport

April 27, 2015

Some of TV’s most iconic comic characters are set to tread the boards of the Dolman Theatre when Newport Playgoers present ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ in May.

Blackadder (Steve Drowley) listens as Baldrick (Gordon Collins) explains yet another “cunning plan” to escape the frontline. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Blackadder (Steve Drowley) listens as Baldrick (Gordon Collins) explains yet another “cunning plan” to escape the frontline. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Based on the fourth and final series of the BBC hit comedy, this play has the recurring characters of Blackadder, Baldrick and George scheming to get out of the trenches in Flanders during WWI.

General Melchett & Captain Darling thwart their efforts in their own bumbling style, while other memorable characters include the Red Baron, Flashheart and Bob.

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Recreating an undisputed TV classic – whose characters were made memorable by some of the most enduring names in British comedy –  would be a daunting mission for most amateur theatre companies. But Playgoers have a great track record of bringing popular sitcoms to life on the stage. Previous successes include ‘The Vicar of Dibley’,‘Allo ‘Allo, ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Dad’s Army’.

Lord Flashheart (Ryan Hillier) wastes no time in getting to know new recruit “Bob” (Catherine Morgan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Lord Flashheart (Ryan Hillier) wastes no time in getting to know new recruit “Bob” (Catherine Morgan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“As well as being classic comedy, this revival of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is timely with this year being both the centenary of the start of World War One and the 25th anniversary of when the show first aired on TV, said the play’s director Rosemary Bissex.

“Amid all the jokes and satire in the original script by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, the final scene where our heroes finally go over the top is a classic, truly emotional TV moment,” she added.

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play is packed with wit and humour but it also has the power to make audiences reflect on the indiscriminate waste of so many lives – all those naive Baldricks, the patriotic Georges and the world-weary Blackadders who never returned from the Great War.

‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 13 – 16 May at 7.15 pm with a matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Previous Playgoers' productions of TV classics: 'The Vicar of Dibley', 'Dad's Army', 'Fawlty Towers' and 'Allo 'Allo. (PHOTOS: PHIL MANSELL)

Previous Playgoers’ productions of TV classics: ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Allo ‘Allo. (PHOTOS: PHIL MANSELL)


Big Band Swings into Action to Raise the Roof – and Repair It!

April 23, 2015

Raising the roof in order to repair it! That’s the aim of an evening of big band music being held at the Dolman Theatre on Saturday 9 May.

Talented vocalist Phil Lee Thomas will be performing with the Swingcopation Chepstow Community Big Band at the Dolman Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Talented vocalist Phil Lee Thomas will be performing with the Swingcopation Chepstow Community Big Band at the Dolman Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Swingcopation Chepstow Community Big Band will swing into action to lead the fund-raiser with their resident vocalists, Nataley Simpson and Phil Lee-Thomas, whom audiences will have seen recently in Newport Playgoers’ production of the Noel Coward classic ‘Waiting in the Wings’.

“The Dolman Theatre roof is desperately in need of repair and renovation,” said Phil Mansell, spokesperson for Playgoers who own and run the 400-seat theatre.

“This concert is the latest of several fund-raising events held to raise the necessary money to carry out the work. It’s sure to be a great evening of swing music performed by this great band which comprises music students from Wyedean School in Chepstow, several other local schools and from the wider community. They have appeared at many local festivals and venues from the Cotswolds to Cardiff. As well as great music there a hog roast – and audience members are being urged to dress to impress!”

Steve Bissex-Williams (centre) raised £970 with his show ‘This Is My Life’. Pictured with him are his guest performers Kevin Myers, Chris Bissex-Williams, Phil Lee Thomas  and Eloise Rossiter.

Steve Bissex-Williams (centre) raised £970 with his show ‘This Is My Life’. Pictured with him are his guest performers Kevin Myers, Chris Bissex-Williams, Phil Lee Thomas and Eloise Rossiter.

He added that the band’s motto, ‘Enjoy and Achieve’, reflects the fact that the focus is on fun while reaching high performance standards.

At another recent fund-raiser, Steve Bissex-Williams raised an amazing £970 towards the upkeep of the theatre’s roof with his one man show ‘This Is My Life’. A mixture of songs, reminiscences and special guests added up to a truly entertaining evening in the Dolman foyer.

Swingcopation will be performing at 7.30pm on Saturday 9 May at the Dolman Theatre. Tickets, which cost £20 (including food) should be booked in advance at the the box office by phoning 01633 263670 or by visiting www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

 


Take Centre Stage at Playgoers’ Auditions

February 24, 2015

Aspiring actors have the opportunity to audition for Newport Playgoers on Saturday 7th March –  and be cast in forthcoming productions such as ‘The Ladykillers’, ‘Up Pompeii’ and ‘The Graduate’.

Playgoers present a wide range of productions including farces such as Joe Orton's 'What The Butler Saw'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers present a wide range of productions including farces such as Joe Orton’s ‘What The Butler Saw’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Anyone who fancies treading the boards in a range of productions from farce to classic drama is invited to come to the open auditions which take place from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

'Killer Joe' was one of the highly successful productions in the Dolman Studio Theatre, (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

‘Killer Joe’ was one of the highly successful productions in the Dolman Studio Theatre, (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

Talented actors and actresses can show they have what it takes to be a valued member of Newport Playgoers Society and play a role in ensuring the 400-seat Dolman Theatre remains a thriving hub of activity in the city centre.

“Everyone’s welcome to come along and prove that Newport’s got talent,” said Playgoers spokesperson Phil Mansell.

'The Vicar of Dibley' was one of Playgoers' recent successful productions. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘The Vicar of Dibley’ was one of Playgoers’ recent successful productions. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Being part of Playgoers is a lot of fun – and a great way to meet new friends. We stage nine productions every year so there’s never a dull moment.”

For more information about the open auditions and joining Newport Playgoers, contact the Dolman Theatre on 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Death in the Trenches and the Women Left Behind

January 23, 2015

Most of the 700 men from Accrington who marched off to serve their country in the First World War were killed in the Battle of the Somme. Newport Playgoers will tell their story by focusing on the women who were left behind when the ‘The Accrington Pals’ marched jauntily off to the front.

The Accrington Pals and the women they are about to leave behind. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Accrington Pals and the women they are about to leave behind. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This latest production follows the moving story of the innocent and enthusiastic men who volunteered to fight.

Their experiences of life on the Western Front are contrasted with the lives of their wives and girlfriends back home.

‘The Accrington Pals’ arrive at the Front. Stephen Saunders as Rivers, Luke Bowkett as Ralph, Eammon Corbett as Arthur and Owen Bennett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘The Accrington Pals’ arrive at the Front. Stephen Saunders as Rivers, Luke Bowkett as Ralph, Eammon Corbett as Arthur and Owen Bennett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“These women came together as friends when facing financial, social and sexual deprivation, as well as being thrown into the social changes that came along with the absence of many men,” says the play’s director Sue Morgan.

“The women overcome their fierce sense of deprivation to band together, learn new skills and eventually march militantly on to the town hall and discover the truth about the annihilation of virtually the whole battalion.”

Back in Accrington the women put on a brave face. Bertha (Emma Williams), May (Nicola Carlyle) and Eva (Cathy Morgan) enjoy a glass of beer. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Back in Accrington the women put on a brave face. Bertha (Emma Williams), May (Nicola Carlyle) and Eva (Cathy Morgan) enjoy a glass of beer. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The intriguing mix of personalities in the women’s characters gives an engaging insight into the various impacts that the Pals’ leaving has on them and the challenging battles that begin when the terrible news of the losses comes home.

The play presents the harsh realities of fighting on the front line. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play presents the harsh realities of fighting on the front line. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Peter Whelan’s play, directed by Sue Morgan, is a marvellously rich drama, first staged by the RSC in 1981. It combines social history with deep feeling.  The audience become totally caught up in the characters’ lives and loves, but there is toughness as well as compassion in this deeply rewarding play.

The strength of the play is that it captures, in the spirit of Oh What a Lovely War!, the contradictions of the time. In wartime, the women depicted fulfil their unrealised potential, the men rejoice in military comradeship. The end result, however, is closer to Armageddon than Utopia.

‘The Accrington Pals’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 11 –14 February 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.


Signing Introduced by Playgoers for Hard of Hearing

January 13, 2015

Newport Playgoers have introduced signing for theatregoers who are deaf or hard of hearing for their latest production,Deathtrap’.

Student Clifford (James Symonds) has written a script that Sidney (Chris Bissex-Williams) and his wife Myra (Clare Drewett) are keen to acquire. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Student Clifford (James Symonds) has written a script that Sidney (Chris Bissex-Williams) and his wife Myra (Clare Drewett) are keen to acquire. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The final performance of the play this Saturday night (17th January) will have a signing expert at the side of the stage to make the performance more accessible and enjoyable for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If it proves to be a success then signing could be used in all future productions.

‘Deathtrap’, which is at the Dolman Theatre from 14 – 17 January is one of the longest running Broadway thrillers in history. It’s an ingenious play with a twisting plot that offers a rare and skilful blend of suspense and humour guaranteed to make audiences scream with both laughter and terror.

For more information and to book tickets phone 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

The cast of 'Deathtrap' have fun during rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast of ‘Deathtrap’ have fun during rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


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