Graduating from Hit Film to Stage Success

April 25, 2016

It launched Dustin Hoffman’s career and was one of the most iconic films of the ‘60s. Now ‘The Graduate’ is coming to Newport’s Dolman Theatre.

"Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?" asks Ben (Chris Harris). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?” asks Ben (Chris Harris). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Benjamin (Chris Harris) is initiated into sex by Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Benjamin (Chris Harris) is initiated into sex by Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Audiences can follow the disastrous sexual odyssey of Benjamin Braddock as he is initiated into sex by the woman he always addresses as Mrs Robinson.

She is a middle-aged married woman with a drink problem, who also happens to be a friend of his parents.

Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) is not happy when Benjamin (Chris Harris) starts dating her daughter Elaine (Catherine Morgan). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) is not happy when Benjamin (Chris Harris) starts dating her daughter Elaine (Catherine Morgan). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

They pressure him to date a girl of his own age and complications arise when the girl is none other than Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine.

A sparkling satire on middle class, aspiring America, the play offers a fascinating take on the expectations of parents and the reflected glory of designer offspring.

The Graduate is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 May at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 14 at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Ben's (Chris Harris). proud parents (Rob and Claire Jacob) welcome him home from college. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ben’s (Chris Harris) proud parents (Rob and Claire Jacob) welcome him home from college. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

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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)


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.

 


All Set for Roman Scandals

September 1, 2015

Newport Playgoers plan to whisk audiences back to ancient Pompeii where saucy shenanigans are played out against the backdrop of an ominously rumbling volcano.

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone's problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Head slave Lurcio (Paul Cotton) tries to juggle everyone’s problems. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Up Pompeii, which launches Playgoers’ 93rd season, was a hugely popular comedy TV series starring Frankie Howerd, and few who saw it can forget the wonderful characters whose names speak for themselves: Ludicrus, Ammonia, Nauseus, Erotica, Voluptua, Senna and Suspenda.

Ludicrus (Eamonn Corbett) and his wife Ammonia (Gwen Livingstone) are concerned about their daughter Erotica's (Olivia Harvey) writing. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ludicrus (Eamonn Corbett) and his wife Ammonia (Gwen Livingstone) are concerned about their daughter Erotica’s (Olivia Harvey) writing. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Orchestrating both plot and characters is the head slave Lurcio, who becomes embroiled in the sexual liaisons of his master’s household, as all its members cheat, double cross and generally misbehave.

Lurcio conveys his thoughts to the audience through a series of innuendos and double entendres while trying to help his master’s daughter Erotica, rescue escaped slave girl, Voluptua, listen to Nauseus’s love poetry and enlist the help of local nymphomaniac Suspenda.

Roman soldiers Kretinus (Ryan Salter) and Trecherus (Owen Barrett) display their incompetence. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Roman soldiers Kretinus (Ryan Salter) and Trecherus (Owen Barrett) display their incompetence. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play was originally written for Frankie Howerd to repeat his success in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, in which he played a similar role. If you like your history treated in a light-hearted and somewhat risqué manner, this is the play for you.

‘Up Pompeii’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 8th – Saturday 12th September at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Blackadder and Baldrick All Set to Go Forth in Newport

April 27, 2015

Some of TV’s most iconic comic characters are set to tread the boards of the Dolman Theatre when Newport Playgoers present ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ in May.

Blackadder (Steve Drowley) listens as Baldrick (Gordon Collins) explains yet another “cunning plan” to escape the frontline. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Blackadder (Steve Drowley) listens as Baldrick (Gordon Collins) explains yet another “cunning plan” to escape the frontline. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Based on the fourth and final series of the BBC hit comedy, this play has the recurring characters of Blackadder, Baldrick and George scheming to get out of the trenches in Flanders during WWI.

General Melchett & Captain Darling thwart their efforts in their own bumbling style, while other memorable characters include the Red Baron, Flashheart and Bob.

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Recreating an undisputed TV classic – whose characters were made memorable by some of the most enduring names in British comedy –  would be a daunting mission for most amateur theatre companies. But Playgoers have a great track record of bringing popular sitcoms to life on the stage. Previous successes include ‘The Vicar of Dibley’,‘Allo ‘Allo, ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Dad’s Army’.

Lord Flashheart (Ryan Hillier) wastes no time in getting to know new recruit “Bob” (Catherine Morgan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Lord Flashheart (Ryan Hillier) wastes no time in getting to know new recruit “Bob” (Catherine Morgan) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“As well as being classic comedy, this revival of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is timely with this year being both the centenary of the start of World War One and the 25th anniversary of when the show first aired on TV, said the play’s director Rosemary Bissex.

“Amid all the jokes and satire in the original script by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, the final scene where our heroes finally go over the top is a classic, truly emotional TV moment,” she added.

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Baldrick (Gordon Collins), George (James Symonds), Melchett (Peter Bourne) and Blackadder (Steve Drowley) discuss tactics. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play is packed with wit and humour but it also has the power to make audiences reflect on the indiscriminate waste of so many lives – all those naive Baldricks, the patriotic Georges and the world-weary Blackadders who never returned from the Great War.

‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 13 – 16 May 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.

Previous Playgoers' productions of TV classics: 'The Vicar of Dibley', 'Dad's Army', 'Fawlty Towers' and 'Allo 'Allo. (PHOTOS: PHIL MANSELL)

Previous Playgoers’ productions of TV classics: ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Allo ‘Allo. (PHOTOS: PHIL MANSELL)