Over the next week we shall be looking at the shows that have got our regional editors excited in 2014. Today we shall be looking at Ireland, South East and North East &Yorkshire.
Are you excited by any of these productions? Share what you think in the comments section below.
IRELAND: Ciara Murphy
Here at The Public Reviews in Ireland, 2013 was a fantastic year for new and innovative theatre, traditional favourites and a few surprises. Some themes came across more than others, the commemoration of the 1913 Dublin Lockout being the most notable. This theme was represented across many different performance genres and made for a social commentary that was both varied and exciting. The theme of commemoration will continue on into 2014 as Ireland celebrates the historical events of 1914 as part of ‘The Decade of Commemoration’. The Abbey Theatre is carrying its offerings on the commemorations across from 2013 by hosting a Theatre of Memory Symposium which will debate the rôle of theatre in commemorating the past. Although further away on the calendar, the Dublin Fringe Festival promises to be, once again, the most anticipated event on the calendar. Shortly following on from the DFF, the Dublin Theatre Festival will continue to fuel our appetites for new and innovative productions in the wake of the DFF with what will surely be a fantastic line up of events.
Speculation is rife on whether Fishamble will return again in the spring with their critically acclaimed production, Tiny Plays for Ireland. This will be the third time this production will take place in Dublin and if it goes ahead it will be a fantastic addition to the theatre calendar.
Many theatre companies and theatre practitioners flourished in 2013. Audiences across the capital and the country should be on the lookout for; Fishamble, Pan-Pan, Rough Magic and HotforTheatre. A special mention must be made for Anu Productions, whose 13 series in 2013’s Dublin Fringe Festival broke the boundaries of theatrical form, astounded, entertained and, most importantly, resonated with their audiences. Over the last number of years Anu Productions have changed the face of Irish theatre by illuminating social issues in a way that is both accessible and hard-hitting. They were the highlight of 2013 and sure to amaze us again in 2014.
2014 promises to be a fantastic year, our presence in Ireland will expand and evolve across the thirty two counties.
SOUTH EAST: Glen Pearce
Despite its proximity to London, or perhaps because of it, the South East continues to offer a strong theatre line up. Those who don’t fancy a trip into London can find plenty to enthrall during 2014.
Colchester’s Mercury Theatre proved to be one of the success stories of 2013. With new leadership in their artistic, administration and press teams, the Mercury Theatre’s Made in Colchester season provided many a theatrical thrill last year and their 2014 offering looks no less appealing. The regional première of Betty Blue Eyes will please musical theatre fans but there are also new productions of Dial M For Murder, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning and Macbeth to look forward to.
The Mercury’s near neighbour, Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre is no stranger to musical premieres themselves and this year will team up with Graeae Theatre Company to present a new staging of The Threepenny Opera alongside a strong touring line up including a visit of the National Theatre’s hit production Moon On A Rainbow Shawl.
The country’s only surviving Georgian Playhouse, the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds is presenting the world premiere of Stella Feehily’s This May Hurt A Bit, inspired by her husband’s (Max Stafford Clarke) 6 month stay in hospital in 2006.
The region is fast becoming renowned for its festivals and 2014 sees the return of Circa to the Norfolk And Norwich Festival, the playwriting debut of Harry Melling at the HighTide Festival, the 14th outing for Ipswich’s Pulse Festival and the internationally renowned Aldeburgh Festival.
Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre have a whole season of events to celebrate the 450th anniversary of their playwright namesake, including a staging of his Jew of Malta. The Marlowe also welcomes a raft of hit touring shows including Happy Days The Musical, Propeller Theatre Company and the enduring hit Evita.
Norwich’s Theatre Royal brings hit touring shows to Norfolk audiences and this year offers such hits as Singin’ In The Rain and Alistair McGowan in Pygmallion to the stage.
Locally produced shows are always a highlight and in 2014 we can look forward to Red Rose Chain’s revival of their moving look at mental health care, Different Buttons and perennial East Anglian favourites Eastern Angles touring the region with a revival of Spring And Port Wine plus a Peterborough community production of River Lane.
In Cambridge the Arts Theatre welcome audiences to their recently refurbished theatre for Ian McDiarmid in the RSC production of The Life Of Galileo and Natalie Imbruglia in Alan Aykbourn’s Things We Do For Love.
Add in a strong line-up of one night shows, comedy, music and a thriving amateur theatre scene, Theatre South East 2014 looks to be a vintage year.
NORTH EAST &YORKSHIRE: Holly Spanner
As we put the pantomime horse away for another year, it is time to start looking forward to the coming year. From fringe productions to ballet, West End musicals and everything in between, 2014 is shaping up to be a year of rich theatrical pickings in Yorkshire and the North East.
There is no shortage of musicals, including Blood Brothers, Fiddler on the Roof, The Lion King, West Side Story, Wicked, Dirty Dancing, Shrek, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Evita and Amy Anzel’s infectious new musical Happy Days to name a few. If that’s not enough, after taking the West End by storm, Matthew Bugg’s saucy wartime Miss Nightingale The Musical blitzes its way into the exciting new ‘peoples theatre’ Cast in Doncaster, promising sex, scandal and showbiz.
Graeae, the UKs foremost disabled led theatre company, brings The Threepenny Opera, a riotous musical comedy and tale of moral degradation to the West Yorkshire Playhouse (Winner of The Public Reviews regional Venue of the Year for 2013). Also at the Playhouse, Denise Van Outen’s Some Girl I used To Know, kicks off the new UK tour with her musical comedy. Reinventing hits of the 80’s and 90’s with a classic twist, this one woman show about love, loss and memory centres on Stephanie Canworth, a successful businesswoman seemingly content with life. She has it all, that is, until the love of her life pokes his way back into her thoughts via Facebook, in this warm, intimate and funny story.
Boasting music by Claude-Michel Schönberg (Les Misérables, Miss Saigon) and choreography by David Nixon, Northern Ballets Cleopatrareturns to the region for a strictly limited engagement this spring. Kes by Jonathan Watkins with original music by Alex Baranowski premieres at the Sheffield Crucible in a dance theatre adaptation of Barry Hines’ novel A Kestrel for a Knave. Set in Yorkshire, the production features eight professional and 20 young local dancers in a combination of dance, physical theatre and puppetry in this moving story.
Showcasing the talents of young writers A Play, A Pie and a Pint makes a welcome return to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Their tea time short plays season includes the two original works Skeleton Wumman and Nine Lives. And yes, tickets include a homemade pie and a pint! The highly acclaimed and beautifully staged War Horse stomps into the Alhambra this May, and the Yorkshire set Brassed Offhits the region. A story of hope, romance and controversy set against the threat of redundancy from mine closure, Brassed Off features rousing live music from local performers, and looks set to be a Yorkshire delight. Continuing the mining theme, The Wardrobe Ensemble brings us 33 at the Carriageworks Theatre. Soulful stories, macho choreography and original music combine for an outlandish, funny and touching look at Chilean Minor Crisis.
Feeling the pinch after Christmas? Not to worry, Yorkshire even has some free events to whet your theatrical appetite. Sheffield Theatres are celebrating their Brian Friel season this February with free lunchtime readings of his plays Living Quarters, The Communication Cord and Fathers &Sons. As part of the Leeds International Concert Season, Leeds Town Hall are hosting free lunchtime Organ Recitals ranging from choral and vocal to war time, while at The Venue you can enjoy lunchtime chamber music performances. Over at the Clothworkers Hall, the School of Music Concert Series brings a selection of almost every genre of music, from world music to jazz via baroque.