Playgoers Set to Spook Audiences

September 28, 2015
Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) finds David (James Symonds) alone in the dark. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) finds David (James Symonds) alone in the dark. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Theatregoers will get goose bumps – and giggles – at ‘The Haunting’, an adaptation of the ghost stories of Charles Dickens.

The intriguing title might lead people to supposing that this latest production from Newport Playgoers is a dark and moody social commentary of 19th century England based on a lesser known Dickens book.

In fact, it’s a humorous parody of Victorian horror stories mixed with séance-trickery complete with tapping and knocking, phantom footsteps, doors opening and closing of their own accord, ghostly apparitions, objects flying off walls and the occasional blood-curdling scream.

Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) employs David (James Symonds) to catalogue his estate's impressive library of rare books. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) employs David (James Symonds) to catalogue his estate’s impressive library of rare books. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cleverly written play has all the elements needed to evoke Victorian theatre with an intriguing storyline and unravelling mysteries. Two characters bring the narrative alive – the esoteric and reserved Lord Grey who employs fresh-faced young David to catalogue his estate’s impressive library.

David (James Symonds) tries to convince Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) that the mysterious phenomena are real. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

David (James Symonds) tries to convince Lord Grey (Chris Bissex-Williams) that the mysterious phenomena are real. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

In an ancient, crumbling mansion, they stumble across a dark and terrifying secret that will change their lives forever. As a series of strange and unexplained events conspires to keep David from his work, he realises that in order to convince his sceptical employer that the mysterious phenomena are real they must journey together to the very edge of terror to discover the source of the terrifying visitations.

A genuinely spine-tingling Victorian ghost story, ‘The Haunting’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 13th – Friday 16th October at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 17th at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Playgoers Start Season with Roman Romp!

September 10, 2015

Newport Playgoers have started their 93rd season of plays with a bang – their production of ‘Up Pompeii’ has had the audiences rolling in the aisles this week.

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone's problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone’s problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This Roman romp whisks audiences back to ancient Pompeii where saucy shenanigans are played out against the backdrop of an ominously rumbling volcano.

This lively production, directed by Playgoers’ favourite Richard Dymond,  is based on the hugely popular comedy TV series starring Frankie Howerd. Few who saw it can forget the wonderful characters whose names speak for themselves: Ludicrus, Ammonia, Nauseus, Erotica, Voluptua and Suspenda.

There’s still a chance to catch it at the Dolman Theatre – the final two performances are on Friday at 7.15pm and Saturday at 2.30pm.

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


All Set for Roman Scandals

September 1, 2015

Newport Playgoers plan to whisk audiences back to ancient Pompeii where saucy shenanigans are played out against the backdrop of an ominously rumbling volcano.

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone's problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone’s problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Up Pompeii, which launches Playgoers’ 93rd season, was a hugely popular comedy TV series starring Frankie Howerd, and few who saw it can forget the wonderful characters whose names speak for themselves: Ludicrus, Ammonia, Nauseus, Erotica, Voluptua, Senna and Suspenda.

Ludicrus (Eamonn Corbett) and his wife Ammonia (Gwen Livingstone) are concerned about their daughter Erotica's (Olivia Harvey) writing. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ludicrus (Eamonn Corbett) and his wife Ammonia (Gwen Livingstone) are concerned about their daughter Erotica’s (Olivia Harvey) writing. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Orchestrating both plot and characters is the head slave Lurcio, who becomes embroiled in the sexual liaisons of his master’s household, as all its members cheat, double cross and generally misbehave.

Lurcio conveys his thoughts to the audience through a series of innuendos and double entendres while trying to help his master’s daughter Erotica, rescue escaped slave girl, Voluptua, listen to Nauseus’s love poetry and enlist the help of local nymphomaniac Suspenda.

Roman soldiers Kretinus (Ryan Salter) and Trecherus (Owen Barrett) display their incompetence. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Roman soldiers Kretinus (Ryan Salter) and Trecherus (Owen Barrett) display their incompetence. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play was originally written for Frankie Howerd to repeat his success in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, in which he played a similar role. If you like your history treated in a light-hearted and somewhat risqué manner, this is the play for you.

‘Up Pompeii’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 8th – Saturday 12th September 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.


Playgoers Set to Raise Curtain on New Season

July 28, 2015

Never let it be said that Newport Playgoers rest on their laurels. After a highly successful season that saw them win several awards, the local amateur dramatic society is preparing to unveil a new programme of plays.

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers’ new season opens with ‘Up Pompeii’. Previously Playgoers ventured to ancient Rome with ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Rehearsals are already well under way for September’s offering, ‘Up Pompeii’, the stage version of the show that Frankie Howerd made such a hit on TV. Like Playgoers’ last venture to ancient Rome, ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum’, this romp is packed with nubile slave girls and saucy double meanings that are sure to raise lots of belly laughs.

In contrast, October’s play is Charles Dickens’ spooky classic ‘The Haunting’. It’s followed by ‘The Ladykillers’ based on the much-loved Ealing comedy about a gang of crooks in a boarding house and their clumsy attempts to murder their little old landlady.

The new year brings ‘As You Like It’ which is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies with its heroine, Rosalind praised as one of his most inspiring characters. There’s plenty of black humour as well as drama in ‘The Anniversary’ in which a domineering mother keeps a tight hold on all three of her sons with gifts, threats and ruthless exploitation of their weaknesses – but as the family is brought together to celebrate Mum’s wedding anniversary (regardless of deceased Dad) revolt is in the air.

One of the highlights of last season - ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

One of the highlights of last season – ‘According to Claudia’ by local writer Phil Mansell won the award for Best Play presented by the Gwent Drama League with several cast members nominated for best actor awards. (PHOTO; PHIL MANSELL)

Playgoers New Generation take to the stage in March with a play about the swashbuckling adventures of ‘Robin Hood’, and this is followed Ibsen’s classic story of repressed Scandinavian sexuality, ‘Ghosts’.

On a lighter note, May sees the stage version of the 1960s film classic ‘The Graduate’ in which young Benjamin Braddock, who is worried about his future, is seduced by the infamous Mrs Robinson. The season ends with ‘Maurice’s Jubilee’, a play set in the royal celebrations of 1977. This play by award-winning actress and writer Nichola McAuliffe. is a funny and poignant exploration of one man’s enduring commitment to his dream of meeting the Queen – and an eternal love triangle fallen on hard times.

Another winning play  from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Another winning play from last season – the musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

It all adds up to a season of plays with something for everyone. A new innovation will be the introduction of signing for the deaf on the Thursday evening performance of every play.

Playgoers who own and run the city’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre are always looking for new members and have a special introductory offer of a first year’s membership for £70 for adults (a saving of £42.50) or £35 for students (a saving of £41.50). They are always looking for volunteers keen to help out with the staging of each production. This includes everything from doing front of house, box office or serving refreshments and sweets and programmes. Or maybe you have the urge to tread the boards or work backstage. Everyone is welcome – you’ll find it’s a great way to make new friends – and have fun! For more information or to book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Playgoers Scoop Awards at Gwent Drama League Evening

July 6, 2015

Newport Playgoers were among the winners at the 2015 Gwent Drama League Awards.

The cast of ‘Nunsense’ with their award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast of ‘Nunsense’ with their award for Best Overall Production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ won the award for Best Overall Production, with Claudia Barnes who played the Mother Superior taking the award for Best Comedy Moment for the routine where she accidentally gets high – with hilarious results.

Claudia Barnes won the award for Best Comedy Moment for her portrayal of Mother Superior who accidentally gets high. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Claudia Barnes won the award for Best Comedy Moment for her portrayal of a Mother Superior who accidentally gets high. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Pictured with the award for Best Play are local playwright Phil Mansell and his wife Caroline Drewett-Mansell who directed the production. (PHOTO: BOB BROWN)

Pictured with the award for Best Play are local playwright Phil Mansell and his wife Caroline Drewett-Mansell who directed the production. (PHOTO: BOB BROWN)

The award for Best Play went to ‘According to Claudia’ by local playwright Phil Mansell for his story of a family reunion in which skeletons galore come tumbling out of the closet. Several cast members were also nominated for Best Actor awards. The play previously won the Theatre Show Award 2014 presented by entertainment and lifestyle magazine Voice.

A scene from Phil Mansell’s play ‘According to Claudia’. Several cast members were nominated for Best Actor awards. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A scene from Phil Mansell’s play ‘According to Claudia’. Several cast members were nominated for Best Actor awards. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Alys Rodway won the Best Supporting Actress Award in the youth section for her portrayal of Wendy in DTW's 'Peter Pan'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Alys Rodway won the Best Supporting Actress Award in the youth section for her portrayal of Wendy in DTW’s ‘Peter Pan’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Also among the winners was Alys Rodley of Playgoers’ youth theatre group, Dolman Theatre Works, for her role as Wendy in ‘Peter Pan’. Playgoers New Generation received nominations for best actors and best play for their production of ‘The Canterville Ghost’.

The Adjudicator’s Award went to the Dolman Theatre for providing a wonderful venue where so many productions are staged.

Theatre Manager Lisa Aston-Griffiths with the Adjudicator's Award which went to the Dolman Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Theatre Manager Lisa Aston-Griffiths with the Adjudicator’s Award which went to the Dolman Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The awards evening, held at the Dolman Theatre was a glittering occasion to which all the local drama and musical societies turned out in force to be entertained with songs from some of many productions, and pick up an array of awards from Gwent Drama League adjudicator Alan Hayes.

“It was a great evening, made even more special by my play winning this prestigious award,” said Phil Mansell. “Playgoers received nominations in many of the categories and it can’t have been easy for the adjudicator to pick out the best from some amazing productions.

It’s been another highly successful season for Playgoers who own and run the city’s 400-seat Dolman Theatre. The society is 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. Other forthcoming attractions include ‘The Ladykillers’, based on the classic Ealing comedy, and the stage version of ‘60s favourite ‘The Graduate’.

Playgoers are always seeking new members to work both onstage and behind the scenes to keep the 400-seat Dolman Theatre running. For more information or to book tickets for forthcoming productions call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


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.