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.

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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.


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.


Newport Writer Signs Publishing Deal

August 28, 2014

A writer from Newport has signed a deal which will see his plays published for performance in the UK, USA and Australia.

Playwright Phil Mansell with a poster for his play ‘According to Claudia’ which will be the cover of his first published play. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Playwright Phil Mansell with a poster for his play ‘According to Claudia’ which will be the cover of his first published play. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Phil Mansell has been signed up with Silvermoon Publishing which specialises in providing plays for hundreds of dramatic companies worldwide. His first play to go into print will be ‘According to Claudia’, which launches the new season by Newport Playgoers at the 400-seat Dolman Theatre in September.

“I’m really pleased to have found a publisher for my work,” said Phil who, until ill health forced him to take early retirement was the Press Officer at Newport University.

“I’ve been writing plays for many years and Silvermoon Publishing want to create a catalogue of my work which they will promote to potential performers including over a thousand contacts they have who are looking for plays.

Claudia (Angharad Jones) admires David (Bob Brown) for his tea-making skills (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Claudia (Angharad Jones) admires David (Bob Brown) for his tea-making skills. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Very few authors make a fortune from their plays but I will have the satisfaction of knowing that there’s a good chance my work will be staged, not only in this country but across the world.”

As well as ‘According to Claudia’, Phil has several plays lined up for his new publisher including ‘Poor Yorick’ and ‘Bunkered’ both of which won one act play competitions and were staged at the Dolman Theatre. He has recently completed two plays, one of which is about the ghost of John Lennon striking up an unlikely relationship with a retired quantity surveyor.

Lucy (Eloise Rossiter) with ex-crook husband Micky (Paul Howells) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Lucy (Eloise Rossiter) with ex-crook husband Micky (Paul Howells) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

People will have a chance to get a taste of Phil’s writing when ‘According to Claudia’, about the sexy secrets and surprises revealed at a family reunion, runs at the Dolman Theatre from 10 –13 September.

This comedy drama brings together a sexy psychologist married to an ex-crook, her man-hungry sister hoping to seduce a crime writer and a mystery gunman for a birthday party none of them will forget.

‘According To Claudia’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 10  –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.

Pictured in rehearsal: a breakfast scene dispute between Michael (Chris Bissex-Williams) and Charlotte (Sue Morgan) while Belle (Karen Davies) looks on. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Pictured in rehearsal: a dispute over breakfast between Michael (Chris Bissex-Williams) and Charlotte (Sue Morgan) while Belle (Karen Davies) looks on. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


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.