Pygmalion – Shaw to Please ‘X Factor’ Fans

May 27, 2014
As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

As Eliza (Rachel Fenwick) sells her flowers in Covent Garden, Professor Higgins (Steve Drowley) and Colonel Pickering (Wayne Fenton) are listening in. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Anyone who enjoys TV shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent will see that George Bernard Shaw got there first in his 1912 play Pygmalion, which formed the basis of the hit musical My Fair Lady.

The playwright anticipates the pleasures and dangers of taking the dreams of a working class girl and attempting to transform her into a star in this latest production by Newport Playgoers.

When Eliza (Rache Fenwick) is transformed into a lady she has many admirers including Freddie Eynsford Hill (Tyron Davies Sullivan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

When Eliza (Rache Fenwick) is transformed into a lady she has many admirers including Freddie Eynsford Hill (Tyron Davies Sullivan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Eliza Doolittle’s wish is modest by today’s ambitions – she wants to be a lady with a flower shop,” says the play’s director Kevin Myers. “So phonetics professor Henry Higgins admits her to his version of boot camp where she is scrubbed, clothed and subjected to intensive lessons in diction.

“For Higgins and his friend Colonel Pickering it’s an irresistible experiment – to teach Cockney flower girl Eliza to speak and act like a lady and pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. But for Eliza it’s a lifeline.”

The transformation from Cockney flower girl to well-spoken lady is complete. Rachel Fenwick as Eliza Doolittle. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The transformation from Cockney flower girl to well-spoken lady is complete. Rachel Fenwick as Eliza Doolittle. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Higgins clearly sees Eliza, at least at first, as a human trophy he can add to his collection of professional triumphs, but when the end result produces a very ladylike Miss Doolittle, the lessons learned become much more far reaching. The successful musical My Fair Lady was based on this Bernard Shaw classic.

‘Pygmalion’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 June 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.

This production will also be going to the marvellous open air Minack Theatre in Cornwall in July.


Radio’s Top Secret Agent Takes to the Stage

December 13, 2013
Danger for Dick Barton (Kevin Myers) as Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) creeps up on him. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Danger for Dick Barton (Kevin Myers) as Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) creeps up on him. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Long before James Bond there was only one secret agent who grabbed the public’s imagination – Dick Barton.

The nation was enthralled by his adventures on the “wireless” as he battled against a legion of dastardly villains.

Now, these tales of derring-do are being recreated on the stage of the Dolman Theatre when Newport Playgoers present ‘Dick Barton – Special Agent’.

The BBC Announcer (Richard Dymond) gets a fright from the sound effects man (Bruce Campbell) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The BBC Announcer (Richard Dymond) gets a fright from the sound effects man (Bruce Campbell) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Written as a parody of the 1940s radio series complete with cliff-hanger endings and song and dance routines, this show has something to appeal to those who remember the original series and younger members who have yet to experience the thrill of the Devil’s Gallop!

Audiences will enjoy the laughs as thrills as Dick, along with his trusty sidekicks Jock and Snowy, sets out to thwart the forces of evil whose plot to poison Britain’s tea supply threatens the very future of the nation.

Marta Heartburn (Ros Jones-Griffiths) cracks the whip. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Marta Heartburn (Ros Jones-Griffiths) cracks the whip. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Dick and his chums find themselves tangled in an adventure soaked with intrigue and mystery, as they face arch enemies Marta Heartburn and Baron Scarheart – all the while finding the time to sing a few songs along the way – and save the day!

A tense moment for Dick Barton (Kevin Myers) when Scarheart (Steve Saunders) pulls a gun on him. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A tense moment for Dick Barton (Kevin Myers) when Scarheart (Steve Saunders) pulls a gun on him. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

 ‘Dick Barton – Special Agent’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 18 January 2014 at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit dolmantheatre.co.uk.  

Daphne (Nicola Carlyle) and Jock (John Sheen) are captured by Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Daphne (Nicola Carlyle) and Jock (John Sheen) are captured by Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) plots a fiendish plan with Marta Heartburn (Ros Jones-Griffiths) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baron Scarheart (Steve Saunders) plots a fiendish plan with Marta Heartburn (Ros Jones-Griffiths) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Newport Actresses Bare All For Charity Calendar

June 6, 2013

Six of Newport Playgoers’ leading ladies have bared all for a charity calendar. The actresses, who are appearing in ‘Calendar Girls’ at the Dolman Theatre next week, even managed to persuade the play’s director to strip off to help promote the calendar.

Director Kevin Myers strips off to pose with his ‘Calendar Girls’ alongside Nicola Carlyle and Nicky Davies. At the back are Rosemarie Chick, Moira Mainwaring, Chris Burrows and Ann Kelly

Director Kevin Myers strips off to pose with his ‘Calendar Girls’ alongside Nicola Carlyle and Nicky Davies. At the back are Rosemarie Chick, Moira Mainwaring, Chris Burrows and Ann Kelly. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“We thought what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” said Nicola Carlyle, who plays Chris in the play – the role played by Dame Helen Mirren in the hit film about the WI ladies who started the phenomenon.

“So when it came to taking a group photo of us with the calendar, we all insisted that Kevin Myers, who’s directing the play, take off his clothes and join us. He was a little reluctant at first but we managed to talk him into it.”

Calendar Girls Chris Burrows, Nicola Carlyle and Nicky Davies as they appear in the calendar

Calendar Girls Chris Burrows, Nicola Carlyle and Nicky Davies as they appear in the calendar (PHOTO: PAUL JOHNSON)

Nicola and the other Newport Calendar Girls were all nervous at first about having to take their clothes off on stage.

“My character is the one who comes up with the idea of a tastefully nude calendar so I have to be the boldest about doing it,” said Nicola. “We were all a little nervous about how it would be done but Kevin has come up with some very inventive ways of sparing our blushes during the photoshoot scene.”

Proceeds from sales of the calendar will go towards the same leukaemia charity supported by the original calendar girls as well as helping pay for the ongoing refurbishment of Newport’s oldest community theatre. It will be on sale, priced just £5, during the run of the play from 10th – 15th June and can also be ordered from the Dolman Box Office.

Good luck message from Helen Mirren

Good luck message from Helen Mirren

Playgoers’ production of ‘Calendar Girls’ has already received support from many of  the stars of both the stage and screen versions, including Dame Helen Mirren, Lynda Bellingham and Celia Imrie.

The celebrity messages will be on display in the theatre during the run of the play – which has had two extra performances added due to public demand – and the theatre bar will be transformed into a Women’s Institute fete with a variety of stalls.

The play is based on the film which tells the true story of the WI ladies who achieved worldwide fame after posing nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukaemia Research Fund.

‘Calendar Girls’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Monday 10 – Saturday 15 June at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. There are discounts of 10% for group bookings. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


The ‘Calendar Girls’ are coming!

May 23, 2013
Newport Playgoers present 'Calendar Girls' (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Newport Playgoers present ‘Calendar Girls’ (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


Alan Bennett’s Battles with a Lady Tramp Hits the Dolman Stage

April 12, 2012

The true story of what happened when a female tramp parked her dilapidated old van in writer Alan Bennett’s front garden unfolds on the stage of the Dolman Theatre from 17th – 21st April.

Lady in the Van

Kevin Myers and Alex Wilson as two different sides of playwright Alan Bennett wheel Miss Shepherd (Ruth Ferguson) round the garden (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

The acclaimed play ‘The Lady in the Van’ is the latest production by Newport Playgoers. It tells how Bennett deals with the two elderly women in his life – the indomitable Miss Shepherd who takes up his invitation to park her van in his garden and stays there for 15 years, and his mother who has started her long decline into senility.

Directed by Ray Stone, this wonderfully witty drama is based on Bennett’s memories and asks whether the playwright’s good deeds in helping these two ladies are borne out of guilt, altruism or a mercenary eye for a good story.

The play also excels in revealing the two sides of Bennett – Alan the man and Alan the writer – in an ingenious device that lets the two sides of Bennett’s personality interact.

Lady in the Van

Kevin Myers as Alan Bennett and Ann Kelly as his Mam (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Lady in the Van’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 17 – 21 April. Tickets can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Lady in the Van

Miss Shepherd (Ruth Ferguson) is given a push in her infamous van by Alan Bennett (Alex Wilson) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


Great opening night for No Holds Bard!

March 16, 2012

The No Holds Bard festival of new one act plays enjoyed a very good opening night – with above average audience numbers for a Thursday.  The plays combine stand-up comedy, bloody sword fights and romantic mix-ups to give a modern take on Shakespeare’s plots and turn them into plays for today.

The festival showcases four plays that won a competition run by Newport Playgoers as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project. Sponsored by our local newspaper, the South Wales Argus, the ‘No Holds Bard’ festival is at the Dolman Theatre from 15th – 17th March. For a taste of the plays check out the photos below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Argus Sponsors Festival of New Plays at the Dolman Theatre

March 2, 2012

The South Wales Argus is sponsoring a festival of new one act plays that combine stand-up comedy, bloody sword fights and romantic mix-ups to give a modern take on Shakespeare. The ‘No Holds Bard’ festival at the Dolman Theatre from 15th – 17th March, promises to be an evening of lively entertainment that makes Shakespeare totally accessible for today’s audiences and turns his plots into plays for today.

A scene from 'Roman and Julia' by gary Dooley

A tender moment between two people (Rose Bissex and Daniel Penfold) who meet in 'Roman and Julia' by Gary Dooley

The festival showcases four plays that won a competition run by Newport Playgoers as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project. One play will go on to be staged at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre – and possibly to Stratford as part of the World Shakespeare Year celebrations.

Two of the plays – ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell from Newport, and ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers of Cardiff– are by writers who are no strangers to having plays staged at the Dolman. Kevin’s play ‘Surviving the Century’ and Phil’s play ‘Bunkered’ were two of the four winners of a highly successful golf-themed writing competition organised to tie in with the Ryder Cup coming to Newport.

A scene from 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Yorick (Will Smith-Haddon) and Hamlet (Chris Powell) plot revenge and job opportunities while Queen Gertrude (Sue Morgan) looks on in ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell.

The other two winning plays to be performed as part of the festival are ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker and ‘Roman and Julia’ by Gary Dooley.

“The aim of the competition was to give a new twist on Shakespeare and create plays that today’s audiences will enjoy and connect with,” said Playgoers’ President Richard Dymond, “I hope the people of south Wales will come along and enjoy an evening that looks set to be full of fun and surprises.

A scene from 'Only Words remain' by Kevin Myers

A mysterious elderly man (Chris Bissex) meets a woman from his past (Lillian Hynes) in ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers.

”We are particularly pleased and proud that our local newspaper, the Argus, has kindly sponsored the three night festival of one act plays,” he added.

A scene from 'To Sleep Perchance to Die' by Russell Walker

The Dreamer (Luke Bowkett) faces another scary moment as he lives the actor’s nightmare over and over again in ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker.

Tickets for the ‘No Holds Bard’ festival, which is at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 17 March, can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting dolmantheatre.co.uk.