Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Classic Ghosts (theatre)

I think I last blogged about Jack Shepherd in December 2012 when he appeared in a performance of Dickens' A Christmas Carol at Seaford Little Theatre. Now he is 'doing Dickens' again as part of a double bill of ghost stories at Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre with the Middle Ground Theatre Company (Cadfael: Virgin In The Ice, Importance of Being Earnest). First night is a week today.

The Signalman by Charles Dickens, been adapted by Francis Evelyn, is the exquisitely unnerving tale of a tormented signalman who is haunted by visions of impending disaster on his isolated stretch of line. Can a well meaning traveller, who chances upon the lonely signal box while out walking, calm the man’s fears before he spirals into self destruction?

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come To You, My Lad By M.R.James has been adapted by Margaret May Hobbs. I heard this story recently as it was the +Audible.co.uk Christmas giveaway for members. This is the story of Professor Parker, a Cambridge academic on an out of season holiday at a bleak English coast hotel. At an old graveyard near a deserted beach he finds an old bone whistle. On cleaning it, he discovers the inscription: “Quis est iste qui venit” (“Who is this who is coming?”). Blowing the whistle he awakens a disturbing supernatural force. A terrifying ordeal follows and though his scepticism tries to dismiss his unearthly encounters, his eyes and ears cannot.

Both plays have been designed and directed by Michael Lunney. Jack Shepherd will be joined by Terrence Hardiman (The Demon Headmaster/Cadfael), Dicken Ashworth (Coronation Street/Emmerdale), James Morley, Jenny-May Darcy and Greg Fitch.

Devonshire Park, Tue 22nd to Sat 26th Apr, 19:45.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at Eastbourne Theatres Box Offices and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Vikings - Live From The British Museum (exhibition tour)

If you're fancying going to the cinema but aren't interested in the slew of Easter Holiday blockbusters on offer at the moment,  +Cineworld Cinemas in Eastbourne are screening something very different on the 24th of April: an exclusive, expertly guided live tour of the British Museum's new Vikings exhibition. 

The British Museum's spectacular 'Vikings: Life and Legend' exhibition offers an extraordinary insight into how these great warriors shaped our modern lives. There are plenty of surprises in store as we learn how they created a complex international trading network covering four continents. We also discover our direct connections to the Vikings through language, poetry, names, place names and even our DNA. In this special event, cinema audiences are taken on an exclusive private tour presented by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood. Curators Gareth Williams and Tom Williams bring the exhibition to life, alongside experts on Viking ships and swords, burial and beliefs, language and legacy. The broadcast includes stunning close-up photography of exhibits and the construction of the prow of a giant Viking ship. As night falls, there will also be a live, torch-lit burial ceremony in the Museum's grounds.

Cineworld, Thu 24th Apr, 19:00.
Tickets £15 adults, £12.70 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lend Me A Tenor (musical theatre)

Previous winners of the Eastbourne Drama Festival with Blue Remembered Hills, the Dicker Players have been wowing audiences for a long time with their fabulous Dicker Cabaret and drama productions. This Spring, as part of the Eastbourne Festival, they have turned their many hands to comedy and are putting on the award winning farce, Lend Me A Tenor at the Under Ground Theatre.

Lend Me A Tenor is by Ken Ludwig, the same playwright as the brilliantly plotted Moon Over Buffalo that I saw around this time last year, so I've got high hopes for the forthcoming Eastbourne show. There are six doors in the set of this Tony-winning farce about the incredible things that go wrong with the local gala fundraiser, and one or more of them is bound to be opening, closing or, mostly, slamming pretty much all the time. The renowned tenor “Il Stupendo” is scheduled to sing the lead in the opera Otello. When he is unexpectedly incapacitated, Max, the opera director’s meek assistant has to find a last minute replacement. Chaos ensues, including a scheming soprano, a tenor-struck ingĂ©nue, a jealous wife and the police department!

The production has its own Facebook page which includes a great quote by director, Marilyn Chandler. “It’s all about the doors,” she says. “When a door opens, you know someone’s coming through it, and it’s always the very worst person it could be.” Worst for the characters, that is – best for the audience.

Under Ground Theatre, Wed 23rd to Sat 26th Apr, 19.30.
Sat matinee, 15.00.
Tickets £12, concessions £9, available online or in person from the Under Ground Theatre.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Only Way Is Downton (theatre)

Young impressionist Luke Kempner initially made his name with a fantastic +YouTube spoof video of Downton Abbey impressions entitled Downstairs At Downton. I admit I only watched part of the first episode of the TV programme and never got hooked so most of Luke's video is wasted on me, but I've embedded it at the end of this post in case you're one of the few people who hasn't already seen it!

Following on from this success, Luke wrote a solo show on the same theme which went on to win critical acclaim and sell-out audiences at the +Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year. Now, direct from a West End season, this first national tour of Luke Kempner’s tour-de-force impressions comedy, The Only Way Is Downton, is on its way to Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre in an extended version featuring exclusive new material.

As celebrities start appearing at the Abbey, cultures clash and eras hilariously collide in this brilliant new parody, which takes in many other popular TV shows and familiar modern voices to help the cast of Downton save the estate from financial ruin – again!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Sat 19th Apr, 19.45.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Eastbourne Theatres Box Offices and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Greg Harper (music)

Greg Harper and his music first came to my attention back in July 2012 when he played a Saturday coffee morning gig at the Under Ground Theatre. He recently emailed to let me know that he will be returning to play at the Under Ground again on the evening of Saturday the 19th of April. The performance is part of the Eastbourne Festival and Greg will be joined on stage by Chris Davis (vocals, mandolin and guitars), Gary Holder (double bass) and Tom Holder (vocals, keyboard, percussion).

Greg likes to tell stories through his songs and has received acclaim for his poetic lyrics and catchy melodies. He was a finalist in the UK Songwriting Competition in 2008 and a semi-finalist in 2007, 2009 and 2010. His first live appearance was at the Willows Folk Club in Arundel. More locally, he has played at White Horse Folk in Bodle Street where Chris Liddiard said of his music 'Listen carefully. The words are precious.'

There is a gentleness and peace to Greg's music and I have chosen Seasons as my favourite of the songs I listened to when writing this post. The song takes us full circle through the year and has a real sense of tranquillity. The +YouTube video is illustrated with Greg's own photographs of the South Downs throughout the year.

Under Ground Theatre, Sat 19th Apr, 19:30.
Tickets £7.50, available online from the Under Ground or from Greg Harper's website, or in person at the Under Ground Theatre or from Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Cenerentola (opera)

The current +Metropolitan Opera season concludes at +Cineworld Cinemas on the 10th of May with a screening of Rossini's joyous twist on the classic Cinderella story. The approximate running time with be 3 hours and 40 minutes including intervals. You can catch a glimpse of the production in the +YouTube trailer at the end of this post (the screening date is different.)

Cenerentola (Joyce DiDonato) is the stepdaughter of Don Magnifico but is treated as a servant in his household. As she sweeps the floor and obeys every command given to her, Cenerentola dreams that she will find her very own Prince Charming. Then one day the handsome Prince Ramiro (Juan Diego Florez) arrives at the mansion, announcing that he's looking for the most beautiful girl in the land to be his bride - which changes Cenerentola's life forever!

This uplifting production of the beloved opera features powerhouse performances from Rossini virtuosos Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Florez. Mezzo-soprano DiDonato sings her first Met performance of the title role while operatic tenor Florez makes for a suitably dashing Prince. Renowned conductor Fabio Luisi takes to the podium. 

Cineworld, Sat 10th May, 17.55.
Tickets £18.80, concessions £15, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000 or in person from the foyer.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas (theatre)

Don't let this post's title panic you. It is only just coming up to Easter, but Polegate Drama Group have chosen a Yuletide-themed comedy for their Springtime production.

The Group performed the first Vicar Of Dibley stage show, based on the popular Dawn French television series, in 2012 and had a sell-out run. Now they are taking on the second adaptation, A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas - The Second Coming with the same cast and crew as previously. The play was written by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter and is being put on with the kind permission of Tiger Aspect productions. We left the village of Dibley as Hugo and Alice were celebrating their marriage and will return to see them undertaking married life together and looking forward to the traditional Christmas Nativity play.

Polegate Community Centre, Wed 7th to Sat 10th May, 19:45.
Sat matinee, 14:45.
Tickets £9, children and students £6, available online via the Polegate Drama Group website or in person from Archer and Partners in Polegate High Street.