NEWS: Celebrating the culture and the contributions of the African Diaspora for 10 years in Wales #BHMWales10 #Cardiff

This year Black History Month Wales celebrates its 10th year anniversary.  Throughout its tenure, delivered by a passionate steering and management committees, it has developed large scale cultural celebrations, educational programmes, workshops and talks across the country.

This year will be no exception, with a full calendar of activities celebrating the contribution of the African diaspora to Wales’ culture, economy and industry. Wales Millennium Centre has been a proud partner of Black History Month Wales, hosting finale celebrations and workshops over the years and looks forward to continuing that cherished partnership over the next 10 years.

The theme chosen for this year’s celebration is “Our Stars. Our Future. Our History: 10th Anniversary 2017”. 

To recognise the achievements of young people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities in Wales, BHMW held their second Black History Wales Youth Awards 2017 at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay with the Grand Finale being held at Wales Millennium Centre on 29 October from 12pm.  The nominees are deserving young black people from North Wales – who have made significant contributions to racial cohesion in North Wales

Programme highlights include Black Voices UK, Jazzy Africana Band Wales & Afro Rythm, Soel Connect|NoW Gospel Choir, Nimba, and Kyla Brox.

Back by popular demand is Chef Geraldine Trotman who will work with Ffresh restaurant chefs to produce a sumptuous Caribbean menu.  This year she is joined by African Chef Derin Omole to deliver a menu to please all taste buds.

Audiences can tuck into curried goat, jerk chicken, jollof and fried rice, red mullet fish and vegetable curry.

Alongside this, Radio Platfform, the Centre’s accredited digital radio training programme, will co-host slots with young people who will be working with Christopher Nation to capture and share the celebrations on the day.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic and Creative Strategic Director for Wales Millennium Centre said, “Wales Millennium Centre has been a proud partner of Black History Month Wales, and we look forward to continuing this partnership over the next 10 years.  As an organisation we strive to raise the aspirations of young people in Wales and this year we are thrilled to do so by hosting the Black History Month Wales finale celebration- recognising the achievements of young people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities in Wales.”

Mrs Uzo Iwobi OBE Chief Executive of Race Council Cymru stated, “Year on year Black History Month is proving to be one of the most engaging, lively and welcoming events in Wales’ cultural calendar. It serves both as an educational project and an entertaining experience for those interested in and inspired by African and Caribbean Heritage and the Welsh connection.”

Black History Month 2017 Grand Finale, Wales Millennium Centre, 29 October 2017 12pm

#BHMWales10

http://bhmwales.org.uk/ 

Advertisements

NEWS: Full cast for @TheCentre @TigerBayMusical announced

tiger-bay-landscapeFull cast for Wales Millennium Centre’s Tiger Bay the Musical announced

 Wales Millennium Centre is thrilled to announce the full cast of Tiger Bay the Musical, which includes a 39-strong cast with many notable names from right here in Wales.

Tiger Bay the Musical – created by a multi-award-winning team composer, Daf James, writer Michael Williams and director, Melly Still – is set in the flamboyant multi-ethnic community of Cardiff’s Butetown in the early 1900s. Extreme poverty meets supreme wealth. Gangs of street children roam the docks. Coal is King, and in the notorious public houses and alleyways of the city’s underworld, a revolution is brewing

Tiger Bay the Musical follows a young woman’s determination to challenge society’s injustices, follow her heart and realise her dreams.

Joining the previously announced cast John Owen JonesNoel SullivanSuzanne PackerVikki Bebb and two local young girls, Louise Harvey and Ruby Llewellyn, will be:

Dom Hartley-Harris who will complete the lead cast as Themba, an African immigrant working the Cardiff docks to avenge his family. Dom most recently played Jagwire in the new musical Bat Out of Hell. His other theatre credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Accidental Brummie. 

Zolani Shangase (Lion King, West End and most recently Chico in the The Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story) will travel from South Africa to reprise the role of Yusef, following previews of the Musical in Cape Town earlier this year.

Also joining from Cape Town Busisiwe Ngejane (Isango Ensemble’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Boheme, Carmen and A Man of Good hope) who will play lady of the night, Klondike Ellie and Luvo Rasemeni (Isango Ensemble’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Boheme, Carmen and A Man of Good hope) as Felize. As well as Ernestine Stuurman as part of the ensemble.

Liz May Brice whose credits include (Torchwood: Children of EarthBad GirlsPeep ShowBlack Mirror) will play clairvoyant, Leonora Piper. Ian Virgo, (The Bastard Executioner, Weapon, Before The Fall, Holby City, Spooks, The BillAdam Vaughan (The Wind in the Willows – London Palladium, Carousel, Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd) and Rhidian Marc (Les Misérables – West End, UK tour and film, Pippin, Scrooge)  will play donkeymen, Bosun and Arwyn and First Mate/Locke respectively.

The Centre has turned to Welsh performers to create the production’s ensemble including Zoe George (Wicked UK, Ireland and International tour as understudy for Elphaba and Nessarose), Lucy Elson (career debut) and Elin Llwyd (S4C presenter, Welsh National Theatre’s Lady from the Sea and Spring Awakening) who will play shop girls of the famed David Morgan department store.

 They will be joined by Jamal AndréasLee Dillon-StuartKit EsuruosoSoophia ForoughiDaniel GrahamCarl ManKayed Mohamed-MasonCilla SilviaJosh TonksEmma Warren and Stephanie Webber.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre said: “This is the biggest production to come from the Centre to date and we are proud to give people a snapshot of the history of our home and celebrate some of its richness and strength through music and performance.

“To capture the essence of the production, we were seeking a diverse cast so we are delighted to be able to announce our full cast includes talent from across the world as well as right on our doorstep.”

And to round it off, ten young Welsh actors and actresses will make up the water boys.

The gang of water boys are:

  • Amaree Ali, aged 12, Grangetown
  • Lefi Jô Hughes, aged 10, Canton
  • Lowri Elin Hughes, aged 14, Caerphilly 
  • Shakira Lorenza Ifill, aged 12, Butetown
  • Amelia Jenkins, aged 14, Bridgend 
  • Mimi Nanud, aged 13, Barry
  • Lauren Price, aged 11, Rhiwbina
  • Mallers Saltus-Hendrickson, aged 9, Butetown
  • Cadi-Gwen Sandall, aged 10, Whitchurch
  • Efan Williams, aged 9, Canton

 A fictional story of romance, revenge, heartbreak and hope, the world premiere of Tiger Bay the Musical is on Wednesday 15 November 2017 at Wales Millennium Centre. Tickets are on sale now at www.tigerbaythemusical.com

NEWS: CABARET JAZZ, COMEDY, MAGIC, OPERA WITH A TWIST AND LOTS MORE AT #FFRESHLIVE @TheCentre #Cardiff

Wales Millennium Centre fireworks display.

Ffresh Live is back with a bang! Today (29th September) sees the opening of the next Ffresh Live season which runs until the 16th of December.

There’ll be a mixture of old favourites with some new delights along the way- including electrifying live music, witty spoken-word, side-splitting comedy, opera like no one has seen before, musical theatre and circus inspired soirees.

Palomino Party

29 September

An electrifying art-rock band who reminisce in old-world glamour, Palomino Party deliver escapism, romance and songs that need to be danced to.

Trumpageddon

7 October

Immerse yourself in Trump’s world vision before he blows it to kingdom come. This absurdist satire is as demented, hysterical and disturbed as the man himself.

Hollie Mcnish

6 October

Hollie McNish performs poetry that charts her journey to attempted adulthood, via school discos, guilt, sex politics, transformers and friendship.

Miles Davies: The 1950s and beyond

13 October

The Ian Poole Quartet takes inspiration from Miles Davies’ musical journey to present an evening of material influenced by many of the great composers in jazz history.

Hello Cabaret

14 October, 18 November, 1 December

An exciting evening journeying through popular showstoppers, spellbinding stories and hidden gems performed by the Millennium Centre’s wonderful cast and live band.

Lila la Scala: Songs to make you smile

20 October

Lili la Scala is a vintage dame with a powerful voice, sky-high heels, and razor-sharp wit.

Mary Bijou Cabaret & Social Club: Bring on the Night

21 October

Mary Bijou will deliver a wild ride of circus, dance, and drag with feats only the socially unhinged could create. Be entertained by this immigrant driven cavalcade of talent.

The Remains of Tom Lehrer

3 November

Following sell-out shows in London’s West End, award-winning musical comedian Adam Kay (Amateur Transplants) presents his take on the legendary songbook of Tom Lehrer.

Opera’r Ddraig

10 November

An evening of well-known operatic tunes, characters and situations, re-imagined and performed in a refreshing, newly-devised fashion.

 

TIGER BAY PRESENTS…

Part of a series of events that celebrates the voices of the people of Tiger Bay

Leroy Brito: Butetown’s Finest

17 November

Cardiff-based comedian Leroy Brito has quickly developed a reputation as one of the rising stars of Welsh Comedy.

Heart and Soul

24 – 25 November

A night of comedic Cardiffian storytelling mixed with classic and contemporary soul music, R’n’B and Vocal Jazz performed by Kyle Lima.

Roots & Branches

30 September

A product of Tiger Bay’s longstanding tradition for live music, Roots & Branches combine a Roots Reggae style with flavours of jazz, funk and soul.

Li Harding

11 November

Join one of Wales’ most dynamic jazz and blues singers, Butetown’s Li Harding for a night of music celebrating the great divas including Etta James, Diana Washington and many more.

Tootsie Rollers

2 December

A retro girl band who fuse old school classics with contemporary hits, join The Tootsie Rollers for an evening of songs from the silver screen, contemporary classics and of course a few festive favourites!

Jacqui Dankworth & Charlie Wood

9 December

Inspired by some of the great musical partnerships, multi award winning vocalist Jacqui Dankworth is joined by acclaimed American pianist-vocalist Charlie Wood for a unique concert of duets celebrating a century of song.

Claire Martin

8 December

Join award-winning vocalist and BBC radio presenter Claire Martin OBE for an evening of world-class music including songs made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

Ernie Sparkles

15 December

Get your Christmas jumpers on and join Sparkles HQ for their festive party, celebrating the best of 2017 in a night of fun, frolics, and frivolity. A fabulous mix of cabaret, music and gameshow.

The Peter Wardell & Mat Ricardo Show

16 December

Multi-award winning magician Peter Wardell is joined by Mat Ricardo, one of Europe’s most in-demand comedy variety performers, for a night of big laughs, serious skills, and breathtaking spectacle.

 

Ffresh Live is a series of entertainment events at Wales Millennium Centre’s Ffresh venue.

 

Doors open at 8pm, and performances start from 9pm so there’s plenty of time to grab some food, a drink and relax before the shows.

Latest news from @TheCentre #Cardiff #WMC – September 2017

September 2017 News from Wales Millennium Centre

wmc outsideBELLE & SEBASTIAN ANNOUNCE DATE AT MILLENNIUM CENTRE

Belle & Sebastian, the legendary indie-pop band, have announced a new tour in support of their forthcoming album ‘How to Solve our Human Problems, and will stop off at the Centre in March 2018.

The Glasgow band who found fame in the late 90s with their debut album Tigermilk, caused a shock at the BRIT Awards in 1999 by winning Best Newcomers whilst being on an independent label – breaking through with the critically acclaimed album ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’.

Nine albums later, the group regularly tour worldwide, and have performed at illustrious venues such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as festivals such as Glastonbury and Latitude.

Belle & Sebastian will be in Wales Millennium Centre 8 March 2018

 

WELSH ACTOR CONFIRMED IN LEAD ROLE FOR SHREK THE MUSICAL

Leading the cast as beloved swamp-dwelling ogre ‘Shrek’ will be Welsh actor Steffan Harri, having previously starred in the first ever UK tour of Shrek the Musical covering the role of Lord Farquaad. Steffan’s West End theatre credits include Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre), Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre) and Children of Eden (Prince of Wales Theatre). Steffan also played Lyn in Welsh language soap opera Rownd a Rownd.

Call the Midwife star Laura Main will play ‘Princess Fiona’. Also joining the cast will be Marcus Ayton as Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick ‘Donkey’ and Samuel Holmes as pint-sized villain ‘Lord Farquaad’.

Shrek The Musical is at Wales Millennium Centre between 10 April – 22 April 2018

 

CASTING NEWS – NIGEL HAVERS STARS IN AWARD-WINNING COMEDY, ART

Nigel Havers (Chariots of Fire, Empire of the Sun), Denis Lawson (Bleak House) and Stephen Tompkinson (Trollied) are to star in the Tour of the Old Vic production of Yasmina Reza’s Olivier, Tony and Moliere award-winning comedy ART.  Based on the original production by Matthew Warchus, ART will be directed by Ellie Jones.

The comedy, which raises questions about art and friendship, concerns three long-time friends, Serge, Marc, and Yvan. Serge, indulging his penchant for modern art, buys a large, expensive, completely white painting. Marc is horrified, and their relationship suffers considerable strain as a result of their differing opinions about what constitutes “art”. Yvan, caught in the middle of the conflict, tries to please and mollify both of them.

This French three-hander caused a sensation on the West End back in 1996. After extended runs in London and New York and a quartet of the world’s most prestigious theatre awards — Molière, Evening Standard, Olivier and Tony — ART has become a monument of 90s theatre.

 

ART is at Wales Millennium Centre between 28 May – 2 June 2018

 NEW SHOW- AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

This brand-new musical is based on the 1982 Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere which tells the story of Zack Mayo who is in training to become a US Navy Pilot.

The musical includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong along with 80’s classics such as AloneDon’t Cry Out LoudGirls Just Want to Have Fun and Material Girl and features one of the most iconic romantic scenes ever portrayed on screen.

An Officer and a Gentleman- The Musical is at Wales Millennium Centre between 25-30 June 2018

 

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR SUNSET BOULEVARD

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award®-winning masterpiece is set to star Danny Mac as ‘Joe Gillis’ when it comes to The Centre next year.

Danny captured the nation’s hearts and received overwhelming support during his incredible time on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing making it all the way to the final. He most recently starred as Gabey inOn The Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His other musical theatre credits include Wicked and Legally Blonde.

He plays impoverished screen writer Joe Gillis who, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into the reclusive world of Norma Desmond, played by Ria Jones (Les Miserables), and is seduced by her and her luxurious lifestyle. Joe becomes trapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free, with dramatic consequences.

Sunset Boulevard is at Wales Millennium Centre between 26 February –  3 March 2018

 

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR WICKED

WICKED, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is delighted to announce that Amy Ross (Elphaba), Helen Woolf (Glinda), Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero), Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), will lead the cast of the spectacular, critically acclaimed and multi record-breaking UK & Ireland Tour when it returns to Wales Millennium Centre.

Amy Ross (Elphaba) has most recently been starring as Nicola in the hit musical Kinky Boots in the West End. She previously appeared in Sunny Afternoon, playing Joyce, at both the Hampstead Theatre and in the West End.  Helen Woolf (Glinda) has most recently been appearing in the London production of WICKED and was also part of the original 2013 UK & Ireland Tour company. She has played the role of ‘Glinda’ on many occasions. Aaron Sidwell (Fiyero) has just finished playing Steven Beale in the BBC’s EastEnders, a role he originally played in 2007/08. Steven Pinder (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond) starred in the UK & Ireland Tour (joining in 2014) and on the International Tour of WICKED.

WICKED is at Wales Millennium Centre between 31 October – 24 November 2018

 

 

TOUR SUCCESS- MAN TO MAN

Wales Millennium Centre production Man to Man’s UK tour featuring Maggie Bain in the role of ‘Ella’, has been met with success after its preview at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on September 8th.

The success follows the five star reviews it received at Edinburgh Festival earlier this year, and it’s already sold out its New York dates.

Set in Germany between 1930 and the 1980s, Man to Man is based on the fascinating true story of ordinary working-class woman Ella who, in order to survive in the Germany of the Weimar Republic and of Hitler, simply takes on the clothes and the identity of her husband.

Between 12th September 2017 and 28th October 2017 this tour will visit 5 venues in the UK- London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne and Liverpool, before going to New York in November.

 

Coming to the centre in October

Richard Thompson– Richard Thompson is one of this country’s greatest songwriters and most distinctive guitar virtuosos, capable of breathtaking drama and sublime delicacy, prompting Rolling Stone to hail him as “a perennial dark-horse contender for the title of greatest living rock guitarist.” His songs have been covered by everyone from Alison Krauss to Robert Plant.
15 October

 Slava’s Snow Show- The multi-award-winning international sensation returns to Wales by popular demand. Having wowed audiences in 2007, this truly unique theatrical adventure is filled with heart, humour and stunning spectacle, promising a breathtaking multi-sensory delight.
17-21 October

Hartleypool Monkey- The legend of a monkey who was hanged as a French spy is brought to life through clever puppetry in a timely tale exploring xenophobia
17-21 October

PARADE- Dancers, musicians, artists and a renegade aerial robot unite to reimagine the Ballets Russes’ iconic 1917 staging of Parade, with its pioneering score by Erik Satie featuring a typewriter, foghorn and mop!
24-25 October

As a Tiger in the Jungle- Nepalese child trafficking survivors tell their story in a new circus theatre production.  This powerful and poignant show represents an international production partnership ofSverre Waage,( Cirkus Xanti Norway), Ali Williams (formally Artistic director of nofitstate Wales).  It is a unique fusion of Asian and European performance, circus and music, set to an original score by Per Zanussi.
24-25 October

Beautiful- The Carole King Story– Bronté Barbé will play ‘Carole King’ in the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
30 October – 4 November

 

For further information about the Centre please visit: www.wmc.org.uk

NEWS: Poetic start to @velvetcoalminer

image001Velvet Coalmine, the Blackwood festival of writing, rock & roll and coal, has officially begun with a set of outstanding lyrical poets from Wales, the UK and Africa.

Velvet Coalmine, which takes place from 7 to 16 September in multiple venues across Blackwood, will bring the best in arts, literature and music to the town to inspire the community and raise the profile of the area.

 To start the festivities, last night spoken word performers, Tongue Fu filled Blackwood Little Theatre with its experimental live literature, music, film and improvisation. The poetic set included lively recitals from local poet, playwright and performer, Clare Potter plus Africa Writes performing in Wales for the very first time.

Over the next two weeks, Velvet Coalmine will bring some well-known faces to the valleys town including Double Olympic Taekwondo Champion and Wales Sports Personality of the Year, Jade Jones MBE, The One Show’s science presenter, Marty Jopson, and comedian, Mike Wozniak.

With literature at the heart of the festival, there will be appearances from Young People’s Laureate Wales, Sophie McKeand and National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn. While a new playwriting and one-act play competition allows theatre groups and aspiring writers to embrace the event.

Africa Writes, the annual celebration of African contemporary literature in London will bring poetry performances, workshops for teachers, book club discussions and creative writing sessions as part of their tour of Africa and the UK.

Plus, the Children’s Literature Festival will return for a second year, created by Velvet Coalmine with backing from Blackwood Town Council to inspire, stimulate and engage school children through creative workshops with some of the best writers in Wales.

Blackwood, nestled in the heart of the valleys, is one of the most deprived towns in the UK with a higher than the national average level of young people leaving school with either no qualifications or GCSE at grade D (31.4% vs. 25.9%). Velvet Coalmine aims to tackle the issues the community faces, by educating and inspiring the young people who live there.

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, said: “We’ve worked hard to make this year’s line-up truly international, inspirational and aspirational to give everyone in the area an opportunity to engage with the arts. Last night was an incredible start and we can’t wait for the rest of the festival.”

For the full Velvet Coalmine programme and to get your tickets, visit: velvetcoalmine.com

REVIEW: @crazyforyoutour @TheCentre #Cardiff

 

5. CRAZY FOR YOU. Tom Chambers 'Bobby'. Photo Richard DavenportWhat’s not to love about crazy for you?

 

Classic Gershwin tunes, old style vaudeville humour and some exceptional set pieces makes for one Crazy for you type night out.

 

20170905_180759877_ios.jpgCurrently on their UK Tour and in Wales Millennium Centre till Saturday 9th September, you’ve got time to spend an evening in the presence of some exceptionally talented people.

Starring Strictly winners Tom Chambers (2008) & Caroline Flack (2014) plus a plethora of musical and theatre talent, what sets this apart from your normal musical happens right at the beginning with the announcement that every instrument played on stage, is played live. What that brings is a different kind of dynamic to the set pieces and choreography – they’re not just singing and dancing, but they’re playing the music. It gives a feel of a raw one off performance – which in fairness they’ve probably done hundreds of times previous and will continue with each new performance.

18. CRAZY FOR YOU. Tom Chambers 'Bobby' and Charlotte Wakefield 'Polly' and Company. Photo Richard Davenport.Special mention about Tom Chambers, now before this all I knew about him was he’d been in Strictly and done “quite well” – yes, I realise this is so far off the mark, but on seeing him perform I thought at first, he was one of the professional dancers in the series and not an actor – to which his Strictly skills are there for all to see, as is his comic timing.

Charlotte Wakefield, although maybe not a name you might know, certainly has musical theatre running through her veins. A performance, although understated at times, certainly could steal the show.

Caroline Flack (why do I want to be Peter Dickson when I read that aloud) does have one moment which showcases her abilities quite well, without having to be compared to anyone else.

Crazy For You UK Tour

Photo Credit : The Other RichardIt’s a proper fun family musical. It’s a Sunday afternoon black and white film to watch after you’ve had your roast beef – that might sound a little trite, but these days it seems musicals like this are few and far between, no matter whether your 8 or 80, you’ll certain find you have rhythm – and no, no one will be taking it away from me either.

Review by Patrick Downes

NEWS: 80 more tickets on sale for @Intothearkmusic as change of date announced for @velvetcoalminer

Velvet Coalmine, the Blackwood festival of writing, rock & roll and coal has announced that Into The Ark’s headline gig will now take place on Friday 1 September, with 80 more tickets available to fans.

Into The Ark, originally from Blackwood, were planned to perform on Friday 8 September, but due to a change in the band’s schedule the gig will now take place a week earlier.

The headline event will remain at Blackwood Methodist Church with expanded capacity to allow more fans to see their hometown heroes. An extra 80 tickets will go on sale at 9am on Friday 18 August.

Dane from Into The Ark said: “We’re very sorry to have to reschedule our gig at Velvet Coalmine, however we are delighted that we can now expand the capacity at the venue and allow more of our amazing fans to come and see us in our hometown. Velvet Coalmine is a great initiative for Blackwood and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, said: “Velvet Coalmine is all about giving locals the opportunity to explore their talent potential. We hope seeing local lads Into The Ark achieving such great things is an inspiration for other young people in Blackwood.

We understand the change of date might leave some people disappointed. For those who have a ticket but are unable to make the new date, we’d like to apologise and will look to refund tickets wherever we can.”

Along with Into The Ark, Velvet Coalmine boosts a whole host of inspiring events including UK’s leading spoken word performers, Tongue Fu, Double Olympic Taekwondo Champion and Wales Sports Personality of the Year, Jade Jones MBE, The One Show’s science presenter, Marty Jopson, and comedian, Mike Wozniak.

With literature at the heart of the festival, there will be appearances from Young People’s Laureate Wales, Sophie McKeand and National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap GlynAfrica Writes, the annual celebration of African contemporary literature in London will bring poetry performances, workshops for teachers, book club discussions and creative writing sessions for their first ever visit to Wales.

Plus, the Children’s Literature Festival will return for a second year, created by Velvet Coalmine with backing from Blackwood Town Council to inspire, stimulate and engage school children through creative workshops with some of the best writers in Wales.

Velvet Coalmine takes place from 7 to 16 September in multiple venues across Blackwood. For the full festival programme and to get your tickets, visit: velvetcoalmine.com

REVIEW: @AddamsFamilyUK @TheCentre #Cardiff #AddamsFamily100

The words, comedy, dark and musical aren’t often used in the same sentence, but when they do, they produce something wonderful & brilliant, as is the case with The Addams’ Family Musical currently at Wales Millennium Centre and tonight was also the 100th performance!

Based on the Charles Addams’ comic strip, and of course, the tv show, not forgetting the two major films from the early 90s – and an MC Hammer interpretation of said theme, he said they were “2 legit” you know.  It’s seven years since the musical made its debut on Broadway, and its lyricist, Andrew Lippa is Leeds born and Motown bred – so you’ve an idea of the pedigree behind this piece.

The look of the production is right on point, basing a lot of imagery on the fact its origins were from a comic strip. The lighting and sound bring you right into the world of Central Park (yes – the Addams’ Family home is in Central Park in NYC) – so much so, when the lights came on at the end, it took me a few minutes to adjust to the Cardiff ambience.

It has some real big stars of musical theatre including Cameron Blakely (Gomez), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Wednesday) and Samantha Womack (Morticia). It’s sometimes difficult to judge whose performance to highlight when the cast and ensemble gel together so well and bring the story to musical life. It’s also tricky to mention people in the order of “importance” – so I’m not going to, I’ll just showcase some of my favourite moments – and then leave it to you to discuss (or argue) the order/opinion.

I’ve followed Carrie’s work since her brother shared some of her Youtube cover versions (Only Exception being one such piece). I’ve always loved her voice, and saw her last year in the UK Tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it was during this time last year that she announced she was on the UK Tour of Addams’ Family – and here we are. Her stand out moments are Pulled and Crazier than you – and if you’ve seen her Youtube channel, you’ll know the latter quite well.

The phrase about not judging a book by its cover was probably written for Les Dennis (Fester). I realise now he’s been in several musical – Hairspray, Me and my girl & Spamalot, but for one moment did I think he could perform? Honestly, I didn’t – but, I’m glad to be proven wrong as he can and did, plus there’s a nice little touch during Act One of something that rarely happens during a musical – if you see it, see if you spot what I’m talking about – all I shall say is breaking down the fourth wall.

 

The sound, the imagery, the ensemble and production just work so well. It’s different from a normal musical, it’s funny, and you’ll take from it a message that being normal is just a state of mind.

Take two hours out of life, and become an Addams’ – you won’t want to leave. They’re creepy and they’re kooky, and you should go and booky a night with the Addams’ Family at Wales Millennium Centre

Review by Patrick Downes

NEWS: @TheNoelSullivan returns home for @TheCentre homegrown production

Cardiff born singer and actor, Noel Sullivan cast for Tiger Bay the Musical

This November, Tiger Bay the Musical – Wales Millennium Centre’s biggest in-house production to date – will premiere in Cardiff with Welsh singer and actor, Noel Sullivan returning home to join the lead cast.Noel Sullivan during Tiger Bay the Musical previews in Cape Town_Please credit NARDUS ENGELBRECHT

Noel, who hasn’t performed on stage in Wales for almost two years, takes on the gritty role of Harbour Master, Séamus O’Rourke in Tiger Bay the Musical, a story of the notorious underworld of Wales’ capital at the turn of the 1900s.

Playing the ambitious opportunist, exiled from Africa to make his fortune through unsavoury means on Cardiff Docks, will be a change in direction for Noel, whose theatre repertoire includes a string of romantic leads, such as Danny Zuko in Grease and Galileo in We Will Rock You.

Noel, whose grandfather worked on Cardiff’s docks, said: “I am used to taking on roles in productions that are already established, so not only will this be the first time I play the bad guy, it is incredibly exciting to be part of a brand new musical of this scale created in Wales.

“I last performed at the Centre during the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels tour in 2015, plus numerous times before then, so I can’t wait to come home to perform in a show which has come out of a place that helped me in my career.”

Following a short, successful run of previews at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town earlier this year, the featured role of Séamus has now been expanded and developed further within the production, presenting Noel with a stronger, meatier role which plays to his strengths.

Noel continued: “The test run in Cape Town was so inspirational, they have a completely different energy out there which has influenced some changes for when we bring the show to Wales in November. It is going to be nothing like the Centre has seen or done before.”

“Growing up in Cardiff you had to travel to Bristol to see a show so the Centre was a much needed addition to Wales. It is time Cardiff and Wales were recognised on the world stage for its musical theatre talent. A production like Tiger Bay the Muscial, conceived and produced in Wales, deserves all its hopes for a bright future. I’m very honoured to be on that journey.”

A Wales Millennium Centre production in association with Cape Town Opera, Tiger Bay the Musical is set in 1900s Cardiff at a time of unrest between the workers heaving coal in the docklands, known as Tiger Bay, and the Bute Dock Company and merchants of the Coal Exchange they afforded.

A fictional story of revolution, reconciliation, courage and love, the award-winning creative team – composer, Daf James, writer Michael Williams and director, Melly Still – have remained sympathetic to the reality of the era which includes forming a promdominently Welsh cast.

Noel will join award-winning and record breaking West End and Broadway performerJohn Owen Jones who plays John Crichton-Stuart, Cardiff’s richest man tormented by loss. 

Rising star Vikki Bebb, a Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate from the south Wales valleys, will play Noel’s love interest, Rowena Pryddy, a shop girl with suffrage ideals. Plus, Welsh school girls Louise Harvey from Rhiwbina and Ruby Llewellyn from Llantrisant will share the role of tenacious water boy, Ianto.

The world premiere of Tiger Bay the Musical will take place on Wednesday 15 November 2017 at Wales Millennium Centre and will run until Saturday 25 November 2017. Tickets on sale now at tigerbaythemusical.com

REVIEW: @Greasemusical @TheCentre #Cardiff #UKTour #18Jul2017

20229226_1386632198057407_272362647520683066_n♬♫♪ Stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool, just how will I start, my Grease review….♬♫♪

One of the world’s biggest musicals has returned to Wales Millennium Centre for a two week run as part of its UK tour that stars Tom Parker (formerly of The Wanted), Jimmy Osmond (formerly a teen singing legend), Danielle Hope (Loves Ruby slippers), and Louisa Lytton (formerly Ruby from Eastenders – yes, I’ve seen what I’ve done there)

Pink Ladies Photos by Paul Coltas

The main thing to remember if you’ve not seen the musical version of Grease is to not to think “oh, this is different to the film” – which I will admit to doing a little bit during the performance. The musical came first; the film version of the musical will always be different.

That aside, this production is brilliant, the sets, costumes, the sound, all add to a pretty impressive staging of a musical that began in 1971 and has had the likes of Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze, Craig Mclaughlin and Luke Goss as Danny, and of course Elaine Paige, Samantha Womack, Debbie Gibson and Sonia as Sandy.

How do the two leads fair in this list of alumni, well, Tom Parker in his first stage acting role is pretty impressive. Being in one of the biggest boy bands in the UK certainly put him in good stead for the musical and dance numbers – and he has something most ex boy band members don’t have – comic timing and a personality to boot.

Tom Parker (Danny) and Danielle Hope (Sandy) Photo by Paul ColtasDanielle Hope’s musical theatre pedigree is undeniably brilliant. Having won “Over the Rainbow” and becoming Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, becoming  Éponine (twice) in the London production of Les Mis and touring with the Sound of Music and Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dream coat, watching her was a joy – just a shame her talent wasn’t showcased further.

The standout moment for me was Jimmy Osmond singing Beauty School Dropout, which further goes to prove there’s no age limit on talent – and class never gets old. A showman, will always be a showman.

Louisa Lytton’s portrayal of Rizzo shows a different side to a character that the film version seems to miss. The song “There are worse things I could do” makes more sense on the stage as the lyrics are being told to another person, not the audience.

Pink Ladies Photos by Paul ColtasOther mentions to Ryan (Doody) and Oliver (Roger) – although not well known outside of theatre circles, both are brilliant vocally and added something a little special – if your only experience of Grease is the film – this will be a special “oh, I didn’t know that” moment.

The ensemble numbers are where Grease truly takes flight. From Greased Lightning, to We go together, I dare you to sit in your seat and not want to hand jive your way around the auditorium.

If you’re a fan of the film, and have never seen the musical – I’d recommend you take a long hard look at yourself and book tickets now. If you’re not hopeless devoted to the film – I’d also recommend booking tickets now because I’ll tell you more, tell you more, for those Summer nights, Grease will sell like lightening, of the greased variety

Grease is currently at Wales Millennium Centre till 29th July 2017

Tom Parker (Danny) and Danielle Hope (Sandy) Photo by Paul Coltas (2)