Friday, 17 February 2017

Young, gifted and black?

Child actors wanted for Stafford Festival Shakespeare 2017

Calling all budding stars of the stage! Producers of Stafford Festival Shakespeare (SFS) are offering two local child actors the opportunity to play a role in this year’s production of The Tempest at Stafford Castle.

Set against the elegant backdrop of the 1930s – the golden age of luxury cruise liners, Hollywood glamour and the dying days of vaudeville – SFS 2017 will transport audiences to the exotic shores of East Africa, to the Banjuni Isles off the coast of Somalia.

For the role of young Caliban, SFS producers are seeking two boys of black ethnicity aged between 8 and 12 years old, to each perform on alternative nights. The part requires a confident individual who can take direction and be comfortable performing alongside the 13-strong cast of professional actors.

This is a fantastic opportunity for two local actors to be part of a professional production and gain an invaluable insight into the world of theatre” commented Producer Derrick Gask.

Our production of The Tempest draws inspiration from African culture and mythology, and as such the character of Caliban will be portrayed as a Somalian witch doctor. In Shakespeare’s original text, Caliban is the son of a witch called Sycrorax, who prevents him from establishing a friendship with Miranda when they are both children at the beginning of the play. It is this early meeting with Miranda that our young actors will be required to portray.

This year’s show is set to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, and I would encourage any parent whose child may be interested in taking part to get in touch” concluded Gask

In ordered to be considered for the part, individuals must be able to attend a number of rehearsal held on Saturday mornings throughout May / June (dates TBC), as well as the technical and dress rehearsals (20 – 22 June), and all scheduled performances throughout June and July as detailed by the Company Manager. They would also need to arrive at the dressing room on site at Stafford Castle by the ‘half’ – 35-40 minutes before the beginning of the performance. Once their part in the play is completed, they would then be allowed to leave at a suitable time afterwards, via an exit hidden from the sight of the audience at approximately 8.30pm.

If you would like your child to be considered for the part of young Caliban, or if you require any additional information, please contact Wes Carter on 01785 619086 or email

The Tempest will open on Thursday 22nd June and run until Saturday 8th July 2017 at Stafford Castle. Established in 1991, Stafford Festival Shakespeare has fast become one of Europe's largest open air Shakespeare productions.

For the first time in its 27 year, SFS 2017 will also feature a Sunday performance on 25th June at 5pm.

Tickets range from the first night saver price of £13.50 up to £25.50 for Thurs / Fri /Sat evening performances.

Full information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting the new website

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Rich Hall joins host of top comedians coming to Gatehouse in 2017

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre has added yet another stellar name from the world of stand-up comedy to its forthcoming 2017 Spring Summer season – none other than the critically-acclaimed, master of wit Rich Hall

Join Rich and his virtuoso musical mates for a mash-up of music, comedy and gratuitous coloration featuring the very best of comedy and music. Performing will be Rich’s regular band of talented and chronically unemployable urchins. The floor will reek of liquor and spent dreams.

Rich Hall’s critically acclaimed grouchy, deadpan style has established him as a master of absurdist irony and the king of rapid-fire wit. He is also well known for his television and radio work, including regular appearances on Very British Problems (Channel 4), Stand Up For The Week (Channel 4), QI (BBC1/2), Live At The Apollo (BBC1), Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live At The O2, Have I Got News For You (BBC1), Rich Hall’s Cattle Drive (BBC4), Rich Hall’s Gone Fishing (BBC4), Otis Lee Crenshaw – London Not Tennessee (BBC2), and Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2).

As well as Rich Hall, the Gatehouse Theatre has a veritable feast of top stand-up comedians lined up to perform later this year, including Ross Noble on Wednesday 15th February (SOLD OUT), Lee Nelson on Friday 10th March, Richard Herring on Saturday 1st April, Jasper Carrott on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th April, Henning Wehn on Thursday 11th May (SOLD OUT), Reginald D. Hunter on Saturday 20th May, and Joel Dommett on Saturday 27th May. In addition, the venue’s
monthly MET Comedy nights will continue throughout 2017, with early booking strongly advised.

Rich Hall will be performing at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Friday 26th May at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £17.50 and are available from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or online via
Age guidance 14 years + - adult content and swearing

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Knights of the Theatre kick off new season of National Theatre Live at Gatehouse

National Theatre (NT) Live is set to return to Stafford Gatehouse Theatre this month, kicking off with an encore screening of a “landmark production” featuring two of the most recognised faces of British theatre – Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen.
Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart return to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s No Man's Land.
One summer's evening, two ageing writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst's stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.
Also starring Owen Teale and Damien Molony, don’t miss this glorious revival of Pinter’s comic classic.
In addition to No Man’s Land, the Gatehouse Theatre will be screening a host of other National Theatre productions over the course of 2017.
Set for live broadcast on 2nd February, Lucian Msamati stars as Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s iconic play, Amadeus – a tale of music, power and jealousy. Following this, Gemma Arterton is Joan of Arc in the 16th February screening of the George Bernard Shaw play, Saint Joan. Then on Thursday 9th March, Ruth Wilson will star as the title role in a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Finally, the last NT Live broadcast of the Spring Summer season will be Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia.
More NT Live screenings at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre will be announced over the course of the year.
The National Theatre encore screening of No Man’s Land will take place at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Thursday 12th January at 7pm. Tickets are priced at £13, with a £10.50 concession price, and are available from the Box Office on 01785 619080 or online via

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Aladdin the Wok 'n' Roll Panto - the reviews are in!

The reviews are in for our festive, fun-filled, firecracker of a production, Aladdin the "Wok 'n' Roll" panto! And don't just take our word for how good the show is...

"Virtuoso performances... Spectacular... For a family night our I can't recommend it enough" Express & Star

"This production maintains the venue’s success rate... The sound and lighting is top-notch and the magnificent sets provide the perfect backdrop for woking ‘n’ rollingThe Stage

"The attention to detail is breathtaking... you will miss out if you don’t get tickets for this riotous production" Love Midlands Theatre

"Ten out of ten... Epic" Stoke Sentinel

"This year's rock 'n' roll panto at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is everything a pantomime should be" Staffordshire Newsletter

Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting

Friday, 25 November 2016

Line-up Announced for Festive Cabaret Show!

Stafford's first, and only burlesque and variety show, Très Très Cabaret, will return to the MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre with an evening of saucy decadence for one last time in 2016, on Wednesday 28th December.

The first billing announcement for the December show is Sir Leopold Aleksander, otherwise known as THE MIGHTY MOUSTACHE!
Paragon of gentlemanly conduct, strongman, circus artist and adventurer: his feats of strength and skill will amaze, astound and amuse!  Sir Leopold first appeared on the Très Très stage back in April wowing audiences in the process! Such was his popularity, Tres Tres producers have been clamouring to bring him back for December’s special festive extravaganza!

Also returning to Très Très Cabaret is none other than bonkers Russian starlet: NATALIA KALASHNIKOV! This vodka swigging Russian has a lust for danger and will be demonstrating this live on stage with her Martini Madness act!

Adding to an already stellar line-up is quirky clown and 'furlesque' pioneer, KIKI LOVECHILD!

Highly skilled in mime, puppetry and illusion (to name but a few), Kiki's hilarious routines have had audiences from across the globe rolling in the aisles with laughter and gasping in amazement.

Making her Très Très Cabaret debut in December will be the very special, TALULAH BLUE! 

With a history of classical dance and natural charm, this fabulous follie's performances feature burlesque and classic circus, in a style harking back to eras gone by. This vaudevillian showgirl has graced stages from London to Berlin, Dubai to Hong Kong.  Some bookings were so exclusive, she can't even tell you about them! Shhhh

All of this 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, Johnny will have audiences 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!

But that’s not all, after the show, you can continue to dance the night away to the Rock n Roll music of JOHNNY AND THE SPEEDOS

A late bar, live music and a bumper line-up to kill for!

Très Très Cabaret is at The MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Wednesday 28th December at 8pm. Tickets are £20.50 and can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting

Early booking is advised as a sell-out is expected again. The show is strictly for over 18s only.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Back Stage with Katie Pritchard for Aladdin the Wok 'n' Roll Panto!

Aladdin the “Wok ‘n’ Roll” pantomime is only a few weeks away!

To get everyone in the festive mood, our very own Kate Pritchard – who will be playing Cuddles the Monkey in the show – has decided to ‘dish the goss’ on all the goings on in last week's rehearsals.

Here's what se had to say...

Well, well, well, where to start?

We have been having an absolute blast in Panto-camp this week!!

The first week is always the craziest…on day one, we get to the theatre, meet a whole bunch of new people that we’re going to be doing the show with, and then 5 minutes later, we’re doing a full read-through of the script for all of the creative team working on the show to watch. It’s chaos. Then after the read-through we go straight into song learning.

This year, I have decided to continue last years’ challenge of getting the most obscure instruments into songs. So far, I have managed Kazoo and Bongo’s…I’m trying really hard to get a Stylophone into the score at some point, but I’m not sure if the Musical Director Craig seems to interested in this clearly fantastic idea!!

This week, I’ve also been working on my monkey walks, and they’re getting pretty snazzy indeed, if I do say so myself. I have a wide range of three different walks at the moment…what a show off! Maybe I’ll even try for a different walk each time I enter the stage? We’ll see what Director Rob thinks. I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of idea that could get me an Oscar! Right? Right. I’ve also watched about 10 hours’ worth of monkey video’s to really get into character. I’ve been jumping and swinging around the place – much to my flatmates’ distaste. I think I definitely need to get to the gym to do some squats to make sure I am ready for the show…don’t want to get thigh-cramp mid-crouch, that would be ouchie!

I’ve not seen all the choreography yet, but the bits I have seen are wonderful! Full on dance breaks with Saxophones and Trumpets, followed by slapstick Ballets, and lovely duets. I can’t wait to see the full thing on the stage. Although, I mostly get to see the show from the back of the stage as I play my instruments. Just as well the cast this year all have beautiful backs!

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had a fabulous first week of rehearsals! We have a brilliant cast and creative team, and the staff at the theatre are all excellent! Bring on week two!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Rehearsals begin a rockin’ and rollin’ for Gatehouse Panto!

The cast of Stafford Gatehouse Theatre’s latest rock ‘n’ roll pantomime have this week arrived safe and sound in the county town and begun rehearsing for Aladdin.

Each of the ten actor-musicians will spend three weeks preparing scenes and learning an array of rock ‘n’ roll classics ready for the opening performance on Thursday 8th December.

This year’s cast are led by Director Robert Salmon and Musical Director Craig Adams. Born in Madeley near Keele, Rob is well-known to local theatre goers having begun his career at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme. In recent years, as Associate Director at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, he has also directed several sell-out rock ‘n’ roll pantomimes.

Audiences will be very familiar with Craig as well, following his critically acclaimed work on previous rock ‘n’ roll pantos at the Gatehouse Theatre, as well as Stafford Festival Shakespeare – for which he will be returning again in 2017 for the forthcoming production, The Tempest.

We are hugely excited to be working with such an incredibly talented cast and creative team again for this season’s panto! It’s only been a week but the show is already looking fantastic, and combined with Deborah Mingham’s brilliant production designs, Aladdin will no doubt prove to be one of our best pantos ever” commented Producer Derrick Gask.

The show is already proving hugely popular, with nearly 11,500 tickets snapped up so far and many performances close to capacity.

It’s fantastic to see so many people have bought their tickets to celebrate the festive season with us. However, I would encourage anyone intending to come and see the show to book their tickets soon to avoid missing out on their performance of choice” concluded Gask.

This dazzling panto will be filled with a storming line up of classic rock ‘n’ roll hits from Aretha Franklin, The Monkees, James Brown, The Temptations, The Jackson Five, and many more!

Tickets are great value for all the family – priced at £19 for adults, £15 for concessions and family tickets are just £62. Saver tickets are also available for the opening week and the New Year.
Group rates and school rates are also available – more information on both can be obtained by calling the box office on 01785 619080.

There is also a British sign language interpreted performance on Sunday 18th December at 2.30pm.
For those who want to rock ‘n’ roll without the kids there are two late night adult only performances to beat those New Year blues! The special performances are at 9pm on the 5th and 6th January 2017 and are for strictly for over 18s only. Tickets for the late night shows are just £15 and sell out fast so early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Tickets for Friday 6th January 2017 are already extremely limited.

Aladdin opens on Thursday 8th December 2016 and runs until Sunday 8th January 2017. Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting