John puts a Sheen on French farce at Minack

June 26, 2012

In July, the Minack Theatre will see why the name Sheen is synonymous with theatre at its very best. John Sheen, father of musical theatre star Caroline Sheen and uncle of award-winning actor Michael Sheen, brings his years of expertise to directing the classic Molière farce ‘The Hypochondriac’, which has been updated by legendary Liverpool poet Roger McGough.

Newport Playgoers present 'The Hypochondriac'

Hypochondriac Argan (Richard Dymond) is outwitted by his wily maid Toinette (Claudia Barnes)
(PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“This modern take on Molière’s very funny comedy is a lavish costume romp packed with fakes – a wealthy hypochondriac who pretends to be dead, a wife who pretends to love her husband and doctors who pretend to understand medicine,” said John.

“I think we’ve concocted the perfect remedy for all the doom and gloom that’s around these days.”

Newport Playgoers present 'The Hypochondriac'

Argan (Richard Dymond) is keen to marry off his daughter Angelique (Rachel Fenwick) to a doctor – even when he’s an idiot like Thomas (Ryan Salter)
(PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play, which was a great success during its run at the Dolman Theatre in Newport, features several members of Playgoers who have proved a hit with Minack audiences in previous years: Richard Dymond as the eponymous Argan, Claudia Barnes as the scheming maid Toinette, Caroline Drewett-Mansell as Beline, Argan’s gold-digging wife, Rachel Fenwick as his daughter Angelique who is pursued by foppish suitor Thomas, played by Ryan Salter and the man she loves, Cleante, played by Kevin Myers.

Two years ago, Newport Playgoers enjoyed enormous success at Minack with another Molière play, ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’, and they are hoping for a repeat performance – and good weather.

‘The Hypochondriac’ by Roger McGough is at the Minack Theatre from 9th – 13th July. For more information phone 01633 263670 or visit  www.dolmantheatre.co.uk or www.newportplaygoers.wordpress.com.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


John puts a Sheen on frantic French farce

June 22, 2012
John Sheen

John Sheen (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The name Sheen is synonymous with theatre at its best. For proof, check out the latest production by Newport Playgoers – it’s directed by John Sheen, father of musical theatre star Caroline Sheen and uncle of award-winning actor, Michael Sheen.

John brings years of expertise to his production of ‘The Hypochondriac’, the classic Molière farce that has been updated by Liverpool poet Roger McGough.

Newport Playgoers present 'The Hypochondriac' by Roger McGough after Moliere

Comic capers in ‘The Hypochondriac’
(PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Following a successful run at the Dolman Theatre we’re now presenting this modern take on Molière’s very funny comedy at the famous open air Minack Theatre on the cliffs in Porthcurno, Cornwall,” said John.

Newport Playgoers present 'The Hypochondriac' by Roger McGough after Moliere

‘The Hypochondriac’ at the Dolman Theatre
(PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“The play is a lavish costume romp packed with fakes – a wealthy hypochondriac who pretends to be dead, a wife who pretends to love her husband and doctors who pretend to understand medicine. I think we’ve concocted the perfect remedy for all the doom and gloom that’s around these days.”

‘The Hypochondriac’ by Roger McGough is at the Minack Theatre from 9th – 13th July. For more information visit  www.dolmantheatre.co.uk or www.minack.com


Michael Sheen sends Good Luck Message to Welsh Premiere of ‘Frost/Nixon’

November 3, 2011

Michael Sheen as David Frost in the film 'Frost/Nixon'

Top actor Michael Sheen has sent a message of support for a production of ‘Frost/Nixon’ which has its national premiere by a non-professional company when it is presented by Newport Playgoers at the Dolman Theatre this month.

In a letter to the play’s director, Alex Wilson, the actor, wrote, “‘Frost/Nixon’  is a great play, and we all had tremendous pleasure in developing the work on both stage and screen. I am sure that you, too, will thrill to the challenge of performing a marvellous piece of theatre in the lovely Dolman auditorium.’

Alex commented, “It was marvellous to have this message of support from such a highly respected actor as Michael, who has very close associations with ‘Frost/Nixon’, having played David Frost both onstage and in the best-selling film.

Newport Playgoers present 'Frost/Nixon'

Thomas Hockey as David Frost and Stephen Saunders as Richard Nixon

“Everyone at Newport Playgoers is very to proud to be presenting the national premiere of this engrossing, thought-provoking and humorous ticking time bomb of a thriller which centres on the events leading up to the interviews that Frost conducted with Richard Nixon in 1977, almost three years after he had resigned as President to avoid impeachment following the Watergate affair,” he added.

Peter Morgan’s play focuses on the story of how those historic interviews came about, and how they played out, asking the question: how did David Frost, a famous British talk show host with a playboy reputation, elicit the apology that the rest of the world was waiting to hear from former President Richard Nixon?

Newport Playgoers present 'Frost/Nixon'

Stephen Saunders as Richard Nixon and Thomas Hockey as David Frost

With Frost’s career on a downward spiral and risking everything, Nixon surprised everyone in selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and secure a place back in the hearts and minds of Americans. Likewise, Frost’s team harboured doubts about their boss’s ability to hold his own. But as the cameras rolled, a charged battle of wits resulted and over the course of their encounter, each man would reveal his own insecurities, ego and reserves of dignity – ultimately setting aside posturing in a stunning display of unvarnished truth. 

‘Frost/Nixon’ by Peter Morgan, the highly acclaimed screenwriter of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘The Queen’, is at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 19 November. Tickets can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Top Stars and Writers Support Premiere of New Plays at Dolman Theatre

October 7, 2010

Michael Sheen, Alan Ayckbourn, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Judi Dench are just a few of the famous names who have sent messages of support for a festival of one act plays taking place at the Dolman Theatre next week (12th – 16th  October).

Phil Mansell with messages from celebrities

Phil Mansell with some of the signed photos of support from writers and stars.

The Hole in One Act Play Festival, inspired by the Ryder Cup being held in Newport, features four brand new plays chosen by Wales’s top playwright Frank Vickery from over 40 entered in a competition to find new writing talent. Taking an innovative and quirky look at golf, the plays include a couch potato who is given a free virtual reality golf session, the tale of how a down-at-heel crazy golf course attempts to revive its flagging fortunes, and a Pinteresque look at life, golf and everything.

“As the plays were the winners of a competition designed to encourage new writing for the theatre, I decided to contact prominent people in the arts to lend their support to the festival,” explained Phil Mansell, whose play ‘Bunkered’ is one of the plays featured.

“To my delight we’ve had a great response, including a message from Sir Alan Ayckbourn, signed greetings from Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Ben Kingsley, Prunella Scales and James Bolam – and a postcard from Alan Bennett apologising that he has no photos but sending his best wishes and hopes everyone has a grand time.

”West End star Connie Fisher wrote to say she might even pop in to see the plays as she lives in the area and her husband loves golf.”

'Bunkered' photo

Businessman Bulstrode (Alex Wilson) shows his secretary Poppy (Sam Jones) how to play crazy golf in 'Bunkered by Phil Mansell

Phil’s play is about the owner of a crazy golf course which is in dire straits because it’s at the downmarket end of a recently revamped seafront and unable to compete with the exciting and glitzy new attractions at the other end of the bay.

“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember,” said Phil, who as a student at the London Film School, wrote and directed movies and has since worked in  a variety of creative roles in advertising and PR. “Seeing my play brought to life by  some of the best local acting talent has been amazing. I’m now determined to have more of my plays staged at the Dolman, and am currently writing a novel and working on ideas for a TV sitcom.”

Playgoers President, Bruce Campbell, said, “The standard of entries for the competition, which was organised to tie in with the Ryder Cup coming to Newport, was extremely high, and selecting four for this festival of one act plays was no easy task. Luckily we were able to call upon the considerable skills of playwright Frank Vickery as a judge, and the result is a fascinating mixture of plays which promises to provide a real theatrical treat.

“Having good luck messages from such prominent actors and writers is the icing on the cake,” he added.

The Hole in One Act Play Festival is at the Dolman Theatre from 12 – 16 October. For more information and to book tickets, phone (01633) 263670. More information is available online at www.dolman-theatre.co.uk and www.newportplaygoers.wordpress.com.