Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Calling lovers of literature, culture and history – have we got a competition for you!



For the second year running, Stafford Festival Shakespeare is joining forces with The Festival in a Factory to promote the region’s cultural appeal.


What is this festival?  Held in Stoke-on-Trent, The Festival in a Factory is a celebration of culture and creativity, featuring award-winning authors, experts, artists, and entertainers. 


The festival runs from 7th – 9th June in the inspiring surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory - a Victorian pot bank where Emma has manufactured her iconic handmade pottery for more than 20 years.


On the bill this year, two highlights which will be of particular interest to supporters of Stafford Festival Shakespeare are…




“The Last Royal Rebel – James Duke of Monmouth Friday 8th June 11am

The tumultuous life of James, Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, is the subject of this fascinating talk from historian, broadcaster and director of The Landmark Trust, Anna Keay. Born in exile and abducted from his mother on his father’s orders, Monmouth emerged from a childhood in the backstreets of Rotterdam to command the ballrooms of Paris, the brothels of Covent Garden and the battlefields of Flanders. Anna explores his glamorous life and tragic death and will reveal the important part Cheshire and Staffordshire played in his remarkable story.



Tudor Houses of Power – Friday 8th June 12.30pm

Leading architectural historian, former director of the Museum of London and former Chief Executive of English Heritage and curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Simon Thurley is our expert guide on a fascinating exploration of the most significant houses of Tudor England. Drawing on thirty years of research, Simon tells for the first time the story of the Tudor monarchs through what they built and where they lived as a way of understanding the complex machinations of the Tudor court.







For your chance to win one of three pairs of tickets to the event simply post your answer to the following question in the comments section below:


Which Tudor monarch was in power when Shakespeare was born?


Entries close at 12pm on Wednesday 30th May. Full T&Cs apply. For more information contact gatehouse@freedom-leisure.co.uk


For the full The Festival in a Factory 2018 programme visit: https://festivalinafactory.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Introducing the cast of Stafford Festival Shakespeare 2018



Stafford Festival Shakespeare is delighted to reveal the full cast announcement for this summer’s much-anticipated, authentically medieval production of Macbeth, set to take place once again in the atmospheric surroundings of Stafford Castle.

Taking on the eponymous role of the Scottish tyrant will be star of stage and screen, Bil Stuart. An actor with true Scottish heritage, Bil has starred in a host of acclaimed theatrical productions, including The Tempest at the Barbican in London, Blood and Gifts at the National Theatre, and Black Watch at the National Theatre Scotland, which won five Oliver awards. He has also appeared in the hugely popular Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.


Starring opposite Bil as his “fiend-like Queen”, Lady Macbeth, will be Rosie Hilal. Rosie is no stranger to the work of Shakespeare having performed in numerous RSC productions, such as Hamlet, All’s Well That Ends Well and As You Like It, as well as Anthony and Cleopatra and Measure for Measure at Shakespeare’s Globe. She has also appeared in the National Theatre Artistic Director, Rufus Norris’, recent art-film, London Road.

In contrast to the play’s murderous main couple are the honourable characters of Macduff and Lady Macduff played by the respective Daniel Cahill and Ceri-Lyn Cissone. Daniel has worked extensively in the
world of physical theatre and is trained in martial arts and parkour. He has numerous National Theatre Scotland credits, including Shift, Small World and The James Plays. Scottish lass Ceri-Lyn is a star of the stage both North and South of the border and was a finalist in the Michael Bryant Award for verse-speaking at the National Theatre. Her credits include a European Tour of The Rocky Horror Show, The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe – as well as the New York and LA transfer – and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barbican.


“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble”. Prophesising Macbeth’s ascent to the throne will be the three Witches played by Sian Mannifield, Nicola Jo Cully and Mairi Hawthorn. Sian is a Scottish-based actor with numerous theatre credits, including The James Plays for the National Theatre of Scotland. Nicola has worked extensively in theatre and TV and has featured in well-known shows such as Doctors, Taggart and Casualty. Mari is an accomplished actor-musician who recently appeared in the hugely popular HBO TV series, Game of Thrones.


Two familiar faces set for a return to the Castle this summer will be Howard Chadwick and Morgan Philpot, playing Seyton/The Porter and Banquo respectively. Morgan delighted audiences last year during the The Tempest with his performance as the scheming Antonio, and Howard likewise proved a hit in the role of the angry
father, Brabantio, for Othello back in 2016.

Elsewhere in the show, King Duncan will be played by Greg Powrie, with his sons Malcolm and Donalbain played by Samuel Pashby and Blair Kincaid respectively. Ewan Somers will take on the role of Ross, David Colvin will play Siward and finally Mathew Tomlinson will star as Angus.


Stafford Festival Shakespeare spokesperson, Thomas Waldron, says:

What an incredible cast we have lined up for this truly medieval production of The Scottish Play. Indeed, we have tried to keep it very authentic this year and have sought to cast Scottish actors for many of the roles – however, no doubt local audiences will spot a couple of familiar faces from productions past.


Rehearsals get underway in a matter of weeks and all of us at Stafford Festival Shakespeare can’t wait to see how this show is going to shape up. We have some amazing plans in store for audiences this summer so make sure you don’t miss it!


Leading the cast will be the Creative Team made up of the returning, critically-acclaimed Director, Clare Prenton; fresh from his work on the Off-Broadway production of Sweeny Todd, Production Designer Simon Kenny makes his SFS debut this year; and in a slight change to the billing, Craig Adams will be replaced as Music Director by David Hewson, who is well known to local audiences following his work on last year’s Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Summer School production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.


Macbeth will open on Thursday 28th June and run until Saturday 14th July 2018 at Stafford Castle, with tickets available from just £14. Full ticket information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordfestivalshakespeare.com

Monday, 23 April 2018

Open-air Opera set for Stafford Festival Shakespeare return


Summer is only round the corner and tickets are selling fast for this year’s Stafford Festival Shakespeare production of Macbeth, which will feature an open-air performance of a celebrated opera for the second year running.


Following last year’s performance of The Magic Flute at Stafford Castle, Heritage Opera – Northwest England’s professional touring opera company – will return to Stafford Festival Shakespeare with a heady mix of love, lust and murder in Bizet's classic opera, Carmen.

Experience melody after wonderful melody, as 1920s Seville comes to life in a vividly intimate chamber version of this classic story.

'The Habanera', 'Flower Song' and 'The Toreador's Song' are among the world's best-loved tunes. Together with the passionate drama of the fateful love triangle between Carmen, the wild gypsy girl, Don José, the brooding, obsessive soldier and Escamillo, the strutting Toreador, they make this the perfect evening for beginners and opera aficionados alike.

The world's most popular opera is presented by a fully professional cast, a local children’s chorus,
and supported by a 6-piece chamber orchestra.

Heritage Opera have been touring since 2006, and are delighted to be making their return to Stafford Castle in 2018.

Carmen will be performed at Stafford Castle on Sunday 1st July at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at £22.50, with a concession price of £20.50 for over 60s, and for full time students, children and the unwaged at £5.50.

Full information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting the new website, www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Young performers wanted for Gatehouse Summer shows




Aspiring young performers are being urged to take up their opportunity to star in Stafford Gatehouse Theatre’s Summer Project productions of Our House or Disney’s the Little Mermaid Jnr, with auditions set to take place in just over two weeks’ time.

For the first time in the long tradition of Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Summer School, this year will see not one, but two, musical productions starring young performers from the local area.



The new format is titled Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Summer Project, and will begin with youngsters aged 7-12 rehearsing – and eventually performing – Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jnr in the MET Studio.

Later on, performers aged 13-21 will take on the Madness Musical Our House in the main auditorium.

****The only way to gain a place in either show is to attend the open auditions****


Places are available for youngsters aged between 7 and 21 who live in or attend a school in Staffordshire. Previous years have seen up to 150 children battle it out for spaces in recent productions, which have included: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Loserville, The Wizard of Oz, Doctor Dolittle, Whistle Down the Wind and Peter Pan.


Auditions will take place on Sunday 22nd April at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre. The first session is at 9.30am for 7-12 year olds, followed by a session at 2pm for 13 – 21 year olds.


Parents of auditionees will need to have in place at the time of the audition a valid enhanced DBS licence* (dated within the last three years). *Please note this is non-refundable



For more information about DBS or Chaperone licences, contact EW.statutoryactions@staffordshire.gov.uk or call 01785 278927 / 01785 277409

The Summer School sessions will start on Monday 23rd July, with the production of Disney’s The
Little Mermaid Jnr opening on Wednesday 1st and running until Saturday 4th August in the MET Studio, and the production of Our House opening on Wednesday 8th and running until Saturday 11th August in the main auditorium.

Further information can be obtained by calling Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk.  Audition packs can also be downloaded from the Gatehouse Theatre website.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Young performers shed light on local history to commemorate WWI centenary




To commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One, members of Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre are busy preparing for a unique production centred on Staffordshire history during the Great War period. Entitled, The Town the Great War Built, the play has been written by Director Nick Earnshaw and will premier in the MET Studio later this month.

In the Autumn of 1914, only months after the outbreak of WWI, construction began on two large camps on Cannock Chase. Eventually, an entire town was created where the soldiers would live and train. It would often become the final stop before travelling to Europe to face an uncertain future.



Inspired by this piece of local history, Director Nick together with members of SGYT Group 7 have been devising a piece of theatre based around the experience of individuals who lived at the War Camps. SGYT were approached by the Friends of Cannock Chase to begin to research and develop a piece which brings to life their research on soldiers who trained and lived at the camps during this time. Using photographs, maps, diary entries, postcards and visitor book messages, SGYT Group 7 conducted workshops and improvised characters and situations to determine what individuals and events to focus on.

Director Nick Earnshaw says:

I knew about a training facility on the Chase during the Great War but it was apparent very early on in the research process just how much I did not know about the impact on the local area and the general experience of the soldiers who trained and lived there. Writing this play has been a real eye opener to the struggle, emotion and hope right on our door step 100 years ago. The fact a whole town was created, with a WH Smith, its own Theatre, Cinema, Water Tower and YMCA Huts, is a part of our history in Stafford, a history not known by all. The stories of the individuals who lived there are moving, funny and compelling.

The play will tell the story of eight soldiers and a lot of the dialogue from the play come right from the letters sent back home.”

The initial showcase of the project will take place at the MET Studio in April. Following this, the play will also be performed during October this year at the Gatehouse and at the Great War Hut at Cannock Chase Visitor Centre, as well being turned into a short film.

The Town the Great War Built will be performed in the MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Wednesday 18th to Friday 20th April 2018 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £7.50, with a concession price of £6.50, and are available from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or via www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk

Friday, 23 February 2018

Burlesque and variety back on the bill at the MET this spring





Great news, folks! An evening of cheeky decadence is just around the corner with the return of Très Très Cabaret to the MET Studio this Spring!

Audiences will no doubt be bowled over by this glorious line-up for April 6th's incredible show!
First up, making her Très Très debut is retro golden Goddess, CHERRY SHAKEWELL!

A powerhouse of bump and grind, captivating all who cast their eye upon her hourglass figure, Cherry wiggled and whirled for the likes of Colin Farrell, Robert Downey Jnr and David Walliams and her considerable talents have taken her all over the globe from Milan, Rome and Venice to Paris' Moulin Rouge!







Next up, organisers are absolutely delighted to bring the world-famous SARAH-LOUISE YOUNG to the Très Très stage!


Sarah-Louise is an internationally renowned cabaret performer, actress and writer. Named one of Time Out’s ‘Top 10 Cabaret Acts’ and voted ‘Best Musical Variety Act’ in the London Cabaret Awards, she has guested with Fascinating Aïda and is a member of award-winning improvised musical group, The Showstoppers.


Fresh from her performances at La Soiree in London’s West End, Sarah Louise is set to tickle both your fancy and your funny bone – an act definitely not to be missed!



Returning to the Très Très stage but in a very different guise, is GOOD NESS GRACIOUS, but she’ll also be appearing as LUKE WARM!  It’s time to get down to business with one of London’s top Drag Kings!  Hilarious hearthrob Luke is sure to make the audience quiver in places you didn’t know could quiver…




Making his Très Très Cabaret debut, and our first ever male striptease artist: it’s none other than DAVE THE BEAR!


Dave has been performing all over the world since 2009. Last year he was nominated for a London Cabaret Award for ‘Best Alternative Act’ and a British Comedy Award for his work on TV’s ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’. He was also winner of the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at The Vienna Boylesque Festival 2015!


Known in the industry as the body of burlesque, Dave “The Legend” is so sexy, after watching him perform it is guaranteed that you will leave pregnant – and that’s not just the ladies…


All of this personally has been personally selected for your entertainment by our resident producer, promoter and performer: STAGE DOOR JOHNNY.

A flirtatious, lyrical lothario and seasoned comic raconteur with razor-sharp wit, he'll have you
grinning, giggling and eating from the palm of his hand – sometimes literally. He can be heard singing everything from Shirley Bassey to Guns ‘n’ Roses as well as ridiculous self-penned medleys to surprise and delight you!

So don’t miss out on a night that’s sure to set tongues wagging and pulses racing!

Très Très Cabaret will be performed in The MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Friday 6th April 2018 at 8pm. Tickets are £15.50 and can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk

Early booking is advised as a sell-out is expected again.

The show is strictly for over 18s only.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Rock ‘n’ roll panto will return to Gatehouse Theatre this festive season!



Stafford Gatehouse Theatre has announced its next much anticipated rock ‘n’ roll pantomime will be the classic adventure story of boy done-good, Dick Whittington!




The show will open on Thursday 6th December 2018 and run until Sunday 6th January 2019.


This festive season will see Dick Whittington and his trusty friend Tommy the Cat dancing, twisting and singing their way to Stafford in search of fame, fortune and Rock ‘n’ Roll.




Be prepared for the most amazing show in town as Dick dons his guitar, King Rat takes on a Saxophone and a host of incredibly talented actor / musicians strike up the band live on stage for some true rock ‘n’ roll.




Popular hits set to feature in this year’s Panto include blockbusters ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’, ‘Dead Ringer for Love’, ‘Doo Wah Diddy’, ‘Band of Gold’, ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Walking On Sunshine’, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and many, many more!




2018 will mark the seventh year since rock ‘n’ roll panto made a successful return to Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, and Press and Marketing Officer Tom Waldron is delighted to see the format continue to go from strength to strength:




It is with enormous pleasure that I am able to announce news of our next rock ‘n’ roll panto here at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre. Dick Whittington was, in fact, the first rock ‘n’ roll title we produced following the decision to return to the format back in 2011, and we have lots of exciting plans in the works to ensure this panto is our best yet!




We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our audiences who joined us for the festive celebrations during the run of Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood. We hope to see many of you back at the theatre for some more dancing and singing in the isles later this year during Dick Whittington.”
 
Tickets for Dick Whittington are priced at £20 adult / £15.50 concessions / £66 family. School and
group discounts are also available (full information on these can be obtained from the box office).




Dick Whittington will also see the return of the ever popular late night adult only shows, with three performances scheduled for Wednesday 19th December and Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd January 2019.*



*Early booking for these performances is strongly advised as tickets are again expected to sell out fast.




Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk