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One small step, one giant leap…

MATTHEW RANKCOM DIRECTS NEW MUSICAL YOU ARE HERE

I think most of us have thought about taking a brave leap into the unknown at some point in our lives and wondered what it would be like to walk away from everything we know and love and start over.

Neil Bartram & Brian Hill’s new musical You Are Here imagines just that scenario when suburban Chicago housewife Diana walks out of her home to begin her life again.

It’s July 20th, 1969, the night of the moon landing when Diana makes her giant leap into the unknown. Around this, Bartram & Hill (The Theory of Relativity, Bedknobs & Broomsticks), have crafted an intimate and oftentimes hilarious recounting Diana’s adventures.

Since graduating from GSA in 2019, Matthew Rankcom has himself been taking giant leaps in carving out an exciting career for himself as a multi-platform creative. He is a producer, an actor, a director and, during lockdown, became Artistic Director of The Grey Area Theatre company. Their inaugural production, Before After, which starred Rosalie Craig and Hadley Fraser was a real highlight of 2020 and I can’t wait to see Matthew bring his sensitive, intelligent direction to You Are Here.

Starring the legend and icon that is the wonderful Wendi Peters as Diana, we’re crossing fingers and toes that You Are Here will be one of the first productions to return to live performance when it opens at the Southwark Playhouse in May.

I love working with Matthew, he has incredible energy and vision and drive and it has been so exciting to see how those qualities have kept him creating and kept him positive throughout lockdown.

You Are Here is going to be an absolute treat – so get booking now! Full details here.

Ahoy me hearties!

ISABELLA LEUNG TO PLAY LEGENDARY PIRATE CHING SHIH

Over the last year Isabella Leung has been to hell and back twice, literally. She was appearing in the immersive spectacular Dante’s In-Furlough at The Vaults where the audience were invited to revel in the fiery flames of hell but lockdown closed that down – not once, but twice!

Undaunted, Isabella picked herself up and decided to set her sails on a different destination. This year she’s hitting the high seas of 19th Century China in A Game Not Lost as Ching Shih 鄭石氏, a Chinese pirate leader who terrorised the China Seas during the Jiaqing Emperor period of the Qing dynasty.

Ching Shih commanded over 1800 junks (traditional Chinese sailing ships) manned by 60,000 to 80,000 pirates – men, women, and occasionally children. Her ships entered into conflict with several major powers, such as the East India Company, the Portuguese Empire, and the Qing government. In her early life she was a Cantonese prostitute who worked in a floating brothel (花船) in Canton.

Isabella is working with director and writer Dorothy Kay and dramaturg Zhui Ning Chang to stream Ching Shih’s incredible story into your home.

Find out more about A Game Not Lost and book tickets here.

The Doctor will see you now…

MAX HUTCHINSON & RHYS JENNINGS JOIN WHONIVERSE

Like a lot of seventies kids I used to watch Doctor Who from behind the sofa and hope it wouldn’t give me nightmares. I’ve been an avid fan from Tom Baker right through to Jodie Whittaker so it’s always a thrill for me when any of my clients get to join the Whoniverse.

Rhys Jennings is, of course, no stranger to the Big Finish audio dramas having worked with them a number of times but Max Hutchinson is making his debut. You can hear both of them in the upcoming release The Lone Centurion as Felix and Marinus respectively.

The Lone Centurion follows Arthur Darvill, reprising his role as beloved Rory Williams, as he searches for the Pandorica – which he was meant to be guarding but appears to have misplaced.

Released in April 2021, you can preorder now at Big Finish. Meanwhile, why not listen to the trailer below?

The most wonderful time…

ESTEE STIMLER PENS NEW FESTIVE MUSICAL

Producer Clive Chenery in partnership with Joanne Benjamin and Robert McWhir revealed on December 20th that they were developing a new festive review for 2021, entitled Oy Vey In A Manger.

Some of the best loved musical songs about Christmas were written by Jewish composers and lyricists. Oy Vey In A Manager will celebrate these festive favourites and also feature new musical material written by the dazzling writing team of Estee Stimler and Yuval Havkin. I’m thrilled to represent Estee.

Oy Vey In A Manger has book and lyrics by Estee, music by Yuval, and is based on a concept by Clive Chenery and Joanne Benjamin. It is produced by The Entertainment Business and Dramatic Licence and will be directed by my dear friend, the delightful Robert McWhir.

Christmas In Our Hearts, an original song from Oy Vey in A Manger premiered in the star studded concert, We Need A Little Christmas, which is available to stream from St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden until January 1st 2021, in aid of Shelter and Crisis at Christmas.

Christmas In Our Hearts was performed by the golden-voiced Michael Vinsen with George Carter at the piano and the concert was hosted by Denise Welch and Amy Hart.

You can stream the star-studded We Need A Little Christmas and get a first listen to Christmas In Our Hearts here.

To move is to stir…

TATS NYAZIKA PLAYS GREGORY IN NEW ROMEO & JULIET FILM

When a client texts you to say they’ve had “one of the best days of their life” you know that they’ve been working on something pretty special.

So obviously I’m beyond excited to see Tats Nyazika as Greg in this new, dynamic film version of Romeo & Juliet which is being released in 2021. It stars Olivier Award winner (Dear Evan Hansen) Sam Tutty as Romeo and Emily Redpath as Juliet, both making their film debuts.

This version of the classic text is directed by Nick Evans, produced by the dynamic new production company Metcalfe Gordon and was shot in Stratford using state-of-the-art VR technology.

2021 is already looking a whole lot brighter. Well, perhaps not for Romeo & Juliet who still end up dead. Ooops, spoilers.

For the chance to be entered into a competition to win a signed script or exclusive signed photo and be one of the first to receive more information sign up at www.romeojuliet2021.com

Keeping it crossed for Calum

CALUM GULVIN AND SELCOUTH SHOW NOMINATED FOR COMEDY AWARD AT THE LONDON SHORT SERIES FESTIVAL

This weekend I’m hoping to mainly spend chuckling and cheering.

Calum Gulvin is part of the ribticklingly funny comedy group Selcouth Show, a group of talented ArtsEd grads who create comedy sketches. Already featured on the independent comedy online streaming service Twisted Mirror TV, Selcouth Show have just picked up a nomination from the IMDB listed London Short Series Festival for Best Comedy for their sketch House Viewing.

Part of a worldwide network of festivals, The London Short Series is an opportunity for web series and digital content makers to unite for three days to celebrate online storytelling. The festival provides digital story-makers with a unique opportunity to showcase and partake in original screenings, workshops from leading industry professionals and more, as an international audience of digital movers and shakers unite for this unique occasion.

Selcouth Show have been nominated for Best Comedy for House Viewing which stars Calum and guest stars Sarah Seggari.

The festival is currently up and running here and the awards take place this Saturday from 19.00. Keeping everything crossed!

Follow Selcouth Show on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more LOLS. Yes, I said LOLS. Deal with it.

Scoot along for some Scrooge

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm I am the least Christmass-y person imaginable. My birthday is right before Christmas so I know that the Three Wise Men said “This is for your birthday AND for Christmas…” which always made me a bit bitter growing up! I have been known to ban decorations and Christmas tunes until Christmas Eve, yep, I’m THAT Grinch.

This year though, I think we all need a little bit of cheering up. So I’m delighted that Max Hutchinson‘s terrific theatre company Scoot Theatre are one of the many thousands of companies bringing Dickens’ Christmas Carol to life. I’ve read an early draft of the script and can assure you this is the perfect treat for the family this year and will bring a smile to even the most Scrooged of us.

Written and directed by the lovely Max, book early to ensure your spot and allow Scoot to spread a bit of Christmas cheer this December.

For more details and to book click here.

Driving home for Christmas…

I can’t be the only one secretly hoping that when all the pandemic has finally eased enough for us to be allowed back into theatres that online streaming will continue, in some form at least. It would be wonderful to think that productions, particularly new writing, could have a wider reach and that theatre could be made more accessible via the internet.

As nights grow longer and evenings colder, I confess the thought of being able to snuggle on the sofa with a cup of something warm and watch a brand new musical beamed into my home is a pretty enticing one. Even more enticing when the team involved boasts the wonderful Grace Taylor as director.

Somehow, despite being the very busy Associate Director on Six, Grace has managed to continue her commitment to new musical theatre. In recent years she has worked on The Whisper House, The Attic, Fanatical, Wasted, and Harmony Park to name a few. She works closely with Somewhat Awkward as Artistic Director for The Ceiling Project a platform for new musical theatre featuring female or female-led writing teams.

Now, Grace continues her association with Stay Awake, Jake the new musical by Tim Gilvin which will be presented at Southwark Playhouse as a live-stream production on December 18th and 19th.

Stay Awake, Jake is the story of one man’s journey across England’s deserted motorways to be reunited with his girlfriend. It is a musical about love, responsibility, fatherhood, and ultimately what it means to be a man in the 21st century.

Ahmed Hamad reprises the role of Jake for the Southwark livestream, Tamara Saringer returns as Musical Director, and it is produced by Pearson Theatre Productions & Damien Tracey in association with S&S Theatre Productions. The lovely James & Rosie Pearson also cast the production.

For more details on Stay Awake, Jake and how to book click here.

Catch a first look and listen to Ahmed in Stay Awake, Jake, here.

Top scare score!

Another bit of spooktacular news this Halloween!

Ashley M. A. Walsh won Best Film Score for his work on The Long Walk Back at Hellifax Horror Fest. He also picked up a nomination in the same category from the Sandgrounder Film Festival. A prolific musical theatre writer, Ashley is also a skilled film composer, and we reckon these are just the first awards in an exciting career.

Totally delighted for Ashley and his work on this super creepy horror short which was directed by Eyre and Ely & Sam Retford and starred Delphi Lacey, Sam Retford, and Rebecca Evans.

Please contact JBR for Ashley’s film composition portfolio.

I put a spell on you…

Yes, it’s that time of year. Pumpkins, potions, plays and…Pantaloons.

Things are a bit different this year, to be sure. Still, we’re not letting it get us down and we’re embracing the challenge, right? With that in mind, there’s a spooky delight in store for you on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st October as long-time Pantaloons member, Tim Phelps, joins the rambunctious company for a trademark hilariously hair-raising interactive show. Part comedy horror anthology, and part video conference call, A Spectre Calls is an experience unlike any other.

So if Zoom, or FaceTime or Skype, or Google Hangouts is your idea of hell then you’ll be in great company with the brilliant Pantaloons. Book now for this interactive horror special and put a smile on your face to rival any pumpkin carving.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (evil cackle. Obvs)

For more information and to book click here