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)


2014 in review

January 9, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Writer Presents Newly Published Play to Dolman Theatre Library

November 18, 2014

Newport writer Phil Mansell, who has recently had plays published, presented the first copy off the presses to the library at the Dolman Theatre where the play was first performed.

Phil Mansell presents a copy of his play ‘According to Claudia’ to Chris Burrows who runs the library at the Dolman Theatre.

Phil Mansell presents a copy of his play ‘According to Claudia’ to Chris Burrows who runs the library at the Dolman Theatre.

Phil handed over his play ‘According to Claudia’ to Chris Burrows who runs the library, which houses hundreds of plays, for Newport Playgoers.

“It was my way of saying thankyou to Newport Playgoers for having the faith to select this play to open the latest season back in September,” said Phil.

Phil and his wife Caroline, who directed the play, receive the Award for Theatre Show of the Year

Phil and his wife Caroline, who directed the play, receive the Award for Theatre Show of the Year

Since being produced at the Dolman the play has gone on to win the award for Theatre Show of the Year in Newport’s lively entertainment and lifestyle magazine Voice. Phil and his wife, Caroline, who directed the play, went to the presentation evening at the Celtic Manor Resort to receive the award.

Recently, Phil has had two more plays published. ‘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 400-seat Dolman Theatre and Blackwood Little Theatre. Another of Phil’s plays, ‘Bunkered’, was one of the winning entries in a competition judged by Welsh playwright Frank Vickery.

Phil's three published plays

Phil’s three published plays

All three plays are now available on Amazon and Silvermoon Publishing, which specialises in plays aimed at the huge market among drama companies in the UK, America and Australia, will be promoting Phil’s work to thousands of potential performers worldwide.


The Hidden Scars of World War One

November 7, 2014
Eva (Nicola Jones) remonstrates with her father Leonard who is unaware of the pain and anguish in his family. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Eva (Nicola Jones) remonstrates with her father Leonard who is unaware of the pain and anguish in his family. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Newport Playgoers’ next production, For Services Rendered, lays bare the horror, futility and misery of the First World War.

Somerset Maugham’s penultimate play, with its anti-war message, is set in the economic slump of the1930s and deals with the after-effects of the First World War on a middle class family.

Blinded in the trenches, Sydney Ardsley (James Reynolds) spends his days playing chess. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Blinded in the trenches, Sydney Ardsley (James Reynolds) spends his days playing chess. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Sydney Ardsley was blinded in the trenches and now spends his days playing chess cared for by his unmarried sister Eva, who lost her fiancé in the war.

His other sister, Ethel, is living with the consequences of an impulsive wartime marriage to a caddish farmer.

Meanwhile, the youngest sister, Lois, plots her escape from the stifling family home, even though she risks creating a scandal.

Youngest daughter Lois is pursued by two unlikely suitors (Dave Livingstone and David Eynone-Williams). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Youngest daughter Lois is pursued by two unlikely suitors (Dave Livingstone and David Eynone-Williams). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play is permeated with an air of anger about the men who gave so much for their country being left to sink once the war was over.

‘For Services Rendered’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 12  –15 November at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Eva (Nicola Jones) is driven to despair caring for her blind brother. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Eva (Nicola Jones) is driven to despair caring for her blind brother. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


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