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.


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.


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.


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)


Dark Irish Comedy is a Wild Blend of Thriller and Violent Melodrama

October 1, 2013

An hysterically comedic play that charts the life of a 40-year-old virgin, her relationship with her manipulative mother and her last chance of real romance.

Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds).

Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds). (Photo: Phil Mansell)

That’s ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’, this month’s presentation from Newport Playgoers at the Dolman Theatre.

In their lonely cottage in the mountains of County Galway, Maureen Folan is always at odds with her mother, a sour old woman self-exiled to a rocking chair who persecutes her daughter with demands for porridge.

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer (Photo: Phil Mansell)

One day the chance of escape comes in the shape of Pato, a simple-minded local who has returned from working in England. Maureen sees this as her last chance for love. However, as their relationship flourishes a shocking and disturbing train of events is set in motion…

Written by Martin McDonagh, the play rocketed him to fame when it opened in the West End in 1996, winning a nomination for Best Play at the Olivier Awards, with the subsequent Broadway production winning four Tony Awards.

Since writing this play, McDonagh has been as well known for his movies as for his plays with In Bruges earning him an Oscar nomination and Seven Psychopaths gaining critical acclaim in 2012.

‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Dolman Theatre from 16 – 19 October 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.


‘Beauty Queen’ is looking good!

September 18, 2013
Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds).

Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds). (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Next month’s production by Newport Playgoers is The Beauty Queen of Leenane,  a wild blend of outrageous comedy thriller, violence and grand melodrama.

Written by Martin McDonagh, the play rocketed him to fame when it opened in the West End in 1996, winning a nomination for Best Play at the Olivier Awards, with the subsequent Broadway production winning four Tony Awards.

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer (Photo: Phil Mansell)

This hysterically comedic, edge-of-your-seat play charts the life of Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old virgin and her relationship with her manipulative mother, a sour old woman self-exiled to a rocking chair who persecutes her daughter with demands for porridge.

In their lonely cottage in the mountains of County Galway, Maureen bites back until the chance of escape comes in the shape of Pato, a simple-minded local who has returned from working in England. Maureen sees this as her last chance for love.

However, as their relationship flourishes a shocking and disturbing train of events is set in motion…

Maureen (Meryl Herbet) is tempted to conk Ray (James Symonds) on the noggin with a poker (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Maureen (Meryl Herbet) is tempted to conk Ray (James Symonds)
on the noggin with a poker (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Since writing this play, McDonagh has been as well known for his movies as for his plays with In Bruges earning him an Oscar nomination and Seven Psychopaths gaining critical acclaim in 2012.

‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Dolman Theatre from 16 – 19 October 2013.