Vintage Nordic Noir Comes to Newport

March 23, 2016

Long before television became captivated by so-called Nordic Noir dramas, the Norwegian playwright Ibsen was writing controversial brooding stories with strong female characters taking the lead.

Sofia Helin as Saga Norén and Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund.

Sofia Helin as Saga Norén and Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund.

Before Sarah Lund and Saga Noren there was Helene Alving in ‘Ghosts’, a play being presented by Newport Playgoers at the Dolman Theatre.

In this brooding tale of suppressed Scandinavian sexuality, Helene is a woman who has spent her life suspended in an emotional void after the death of her cruel but outwardly charming husband.

Graeme Johnson as Manders, Clare Drewett as Helene, Jerry Grummit as Jacob and Stuart Moss as Oswald in 'Ghosts'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Graeme Johnson as Manders, Clare Drewett as Helene, Jerry Grummitt as Jacob and Stuart Moss as Oswald in ‘Ghosts’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

She is determined to escape the ghosts of her past by telling her son, Oswald, the truth about his philandering father.

But on his return from his life as a painter in Paris, Oswald reveals how he has inherited the legacy of his father’s dissolute life and is being destroyed by syphilis.

Oswald (Sturart Moss) is nursed by his mother (Clare Drewett) and Regina (Fay Grummit). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Oswald (Stuart Moss) is nursed by his mother (Clare Drewett) and Regina (Fay Grummitt). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This tale of family relations, malicious infections and distorted Victorian morals was considered shockingly indecent when it premiered in 1882.

Director Ruth Ferguson gives ‘Ghosts’ chilling new life in this production.

“The ghosts in Ibsen’s great play are not spirits but the dead ideas and customs that we inherit and find it almost impossible to escape,” she said.

Fay Grummit as Regina and Stuart Moss as Oswald. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Stuart Moss as Oswald and Fay Grummitt as Regina. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘Ghosts’ by Henrick Ibsen is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 12th – Friday 15th April at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 16th at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

The Cast of 'Ghosts' (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

The Cast of ‘Ghosts’ (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

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Modern Take on Robin Hood Hits the Bullseye!

February 16, 2016
Dynamic Duo: Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael as Marion and Daniel Morgan-Jones as Robin Hood. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Dynamic Duo: Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael as Marion and Daniel Morgan-Jones as Robin Hood. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

There’s comedy and sprawling, action-packed drama when Playgoers New Generation present a fresh take on the Robin Hood myth at the Dolman Theatre.

Combining modern slang with historical parody, this production brings together all the conflicting legends about the outlaw folk hero.

Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones ) and Guy of Gisbourne (Tyron Davies-Sullivan) engage in swordplay. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones ) and Guy of Gisbourne (Tyron Davies-Sullivan) engage in swordplay. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

By re-telling the legend, the play creates roles that challenge and reinvent the myth – with a wise-cracking, superior swords-person in Marian, and a Robin who finds himself a hero only by chance. But true to the legend, all ends well.

The Sheriff’s sleazy scheme fizzles out, King John’s vicious taxes are repealed, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest are granted pardons, and justice descends on England’s green and pleasant land. Perfect fare for everyone who enjoys a rollicking yarn!

Robin Hood by Larry Blamire is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th March at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 5th at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

A tender moment between Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael) and Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A tender moment between Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael) and Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Outlaw Arthur A Bland (Aidan Thomas) declares his love for Ellen Dierwold (Hollie-Jane Flannigan) (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

Outlaw Arthur A Bland (Aidan Thomas) declares his love for Ellen Dierwold (Hollie-Jane Flannigan) (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

Robin and his Merry Men (Thomas Sheppard, Becky Griffiths, Adam Ramsden a and Reilly Featherstone) meet Queen Eleanor (Ellie Nicholson) and her maid Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael). (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

Robin and his Merry Men (Thomas Sheppard, Becky Griffiths, Adam Ramsden a and Reilly Featherstone) meet Queen Eleanor (Ellie Nicholson) and her maid Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael). (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

The baddies conspire: Tyron Davies-Sullivan, as Guy of Gisbourne, James Powell-Jenkins as the Bishop of Hereford, Owen Richards as King John, Ryan Duggan as Forrester. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The baddies conspire: Tyron Davies-Sullivan, as Guy of Gisbourne, James Powell-Jenkins as the Bishop of Hereford, Owen Richards as King John, Ryan Duggan as Forrester. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


Steve’s Mum Played the Original “Mother from Hell”!

January 26, 2016

“Mum on a broomstick” is how the South Wales Argus headlined a review of the family drama ‘The Anniversary’ when it was last presented by Newport Playgoers in 1972.

Family gathering: Rose Bissex as Mrs Taggart with Stuart Fouweather as Terry, Angharad Jones as his wife Karen. Paul Cotton as Henry, Emma Williams as Shirley and Luke Bowkett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Family gathering: Rose Bissex as Mrs Taggart with Stuart Fouweather as Terry, Angharad Jones as his wife Karen, Paul Cotton as Henry, Emma Williams as Shirley and Luke Bowkett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This comedy of family power-play set in 1960s London centres around evil one-eyed Mrs Taggart, an emasculating woman who dominates her three sons who all work in the family construction business.

Director Steve Bissex-Williams and his mother Fay Williams, who played the lead in Playgoers' last production of 'The Anniversary'.

Director Steve Bissex-Williams and his mother Fay Williams, who played the lead in Playgoers’ last production of ‘The Anniversary’.

Now Playgoers are producing the play again and the director, Steve Bissex-Williams, has fond memories of his own mother playing the malevolent matriarch who gathers her sons and their partners to celebrate her wedding anniversary – despite the fact her husband has been dead for 10 years.

Rose Bissex plays the evil domineering matriarch Mrs Taggart. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Rose Bissex plays the evil domineering matriarch Mrs Taggart in the new production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“I remember seeing my Mum, Fay Williams, playing this vile, manipulative woman and being horrified by her amazing portrayal which earned a great review by Norrie Drummond, who was the Argus drama critic back then.

“When I was first asked to direct ‘The Anniversary’, I wondered whether the play would be as powerful today as it was then – we tend to be fairly unshockable these days. However, when I picked up the script it read brilliantly. Audiences can expect to be as shocked as I was by this scalpel-tongued, deviously possessive mother who exerts total control over her three weak sons.”

Henry (Paul Cotton) is shocked by the antics of philandering brother Tom (Luke Bowkett) and his girlfriend Shirley (Emma Williams) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Henry (Paul Cotton) is shocked by the antics of philandering brother Tom (Luke Bowkett) and his girlfriend Shirley (Emma Williams) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Throughout the “celebration” the evil, manipulative matriarch does everything in her power to remind her children who controls the family finances and ultimately their future.

The eldest, Henry, is a transvestite, middle son Terry is planning to emigrate to Canada with his shrewish wife Karen, and the youngest, Tom, a promiscuous philanderer whose many past relationships have ended at his mother’s insistence, arrives with his pregnant girlfriend Shirley.

This stage version is based on a celebrated film that starred Bette Davis as the mother from hell. This production will be celebrating the plays 50th anniversary, as it first opened in March 1966.

‘The Anniversary’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 9 – Friday 12h February at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 13 at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Bothers Tom (Luke Bowkett) and Terry (Stuart Fouweather) have a difference of opinion. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Bothers Tom (Luke Bowkett) and Terry (Stuart Fouweather) have a difference of opinion. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

 

 


Wanted – ‘80s Style Fashions for Updated Shakespeare!

November 17, 2015

A local theatre company is on the hunt for 1980s fashion items that people may have tucked away in the wardrobe. Anyone who can help Newport Playgoers kit out their actors for an updated version of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ will receive a credit in the show’s programme.

Desperate for ‘80s clothes: director Emma Brunnock and the cast of ‘As You Like It’ need your help. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Desperate for ‘80s clothes: director Emma Brunnock and the cast of ‘As You Like It’ need your help. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“We’re looking for shell suits, flared skirts, dresses with shoulder pads and stretch pants – anything that says 1980s,” said the play’s director Emma Brunnock.

“If anyone has big hair wigs or ‘Miami Vice’ style suits that would be great too. Our aim is to give all the characters a genuine ‘80s look. We promise to take excellent care of any items lent to us, and we’ll give people an acknowledgment in the programme to thank them.”

The cast of ‘As You Like It’ enjoying rehearsals for Shakespeare’s classic pastoral comedy. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast of ‘As You Like It’ enjoying rehearsals for Shakespeare’s classic pastoral comedy. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘As You Like It’ is one of Shakespeare’s early playsa comic take on pastoral romance that begins with a flurry of banishments and ends with true love conquering all after the heroes and heroines are forced to leave the city and retreat to the forest, where they learn the simple values of rustic life.

It was made into a highly successful, award-winning film by Kenneth Branagh in 2006. Packed with comedy and fast-paced action, Playgoers’ version promises to be totally accessible to modern audiences of all ages.

‘As You Like It’ can be seen at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th January 2016. You can book tickets now by phoning 01633 263670 or visiting 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.