Theatre Scene – early 2017


Running Wild
Chichester Festival Theatre 10th to 18th February – for ages 8+

Following a hugely successful run at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London, Running Wild returns home to Chichester, presented by The Children’s Touring Partnership.

Michael Morpurgo’s novel, based on a true story and adapted for the stage by Samuel Adamson, is brought to life in this award-winning production, complete with spectacular life-size puppets. Originated by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre at Cass Sculpture Foundation in 2015, where it won the UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People, this epic production tells an emotional and moving story of love, loss and loyalty and of living for the moment.

Running Wild, Ava Potter as Lilly, with Oona. photo Johan Persson

Michael Morpurgo, the former Children’s Laureate and author of War Horse, was inspired by the real-life story of Amber Owen, who was on holiday in Phuket with her mother and stepfather in 2004, when she went on an elephant ride. While riding Ning Nong along the beach, the eight-year-old noticed the elephant was attempting to pull away from the receding sea water. “He ran away and, as the water came in, I was safely on his back. He saved my life.” When he read Amber’s story in the newspaper, Michael Morpurgo said it was the one bit of hope amid the destruction of the Boxing Day tsunami which hit South East Asia. The production will work to support the Born Free Foundation’s global elephant conservation projects.

The UK Tour of Running Wild has received Arts Council funding. Visit for more information. Box Office 01243 781312.

Chichester Festival Theatre auditorium. photo Philip Vile

Tours of the theatre Until the 25th February it is possible to have a guided tour of the theatre for just £5. One can explore the history of the iconic Grade II listed building in a sixty minute tour that includes backstage areas usually closed to the public. Well worth the visit!

Chichester Festival Theatre, photo Philip Vile

A rock musical, classical artistry and a famous play.
Some of the treats coming to Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre

From Tuesday 31st January to Saturday 4th February Robert Mackintosh and Idili Theatricals Limited for RENT 20th Anniversary Productions Ltd present RENT.

This exhilarating, landmark musical tells the thrilling story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York City’s East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian excess. Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La Bohème, RENT features unforgettable music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson including the much-loved songs: Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me and La Vie Bohème. Winner of four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the hugely prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it ran on Broadway for an astonishing twelve years.


Featuring a brilliant cast that includes Layton Williams (Bad Education, Billy Elliot The Musical, Hairspray) and Lucie Jones (X Factor, Legally Blonde The Musical, Les Miserables), this is a rare chance to experience the searing emotion and breath-taking thrills of one of the all-time great musicals.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra winds up its season in Eastbourne

Enchantment and romance is the theme on Sunday 12th March when the Orchestra will perform Richard Strauss Sextet from Capriccio, Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Mendelssohn Octet. When string players want to unwind, they gather together some friends and play Mendelssohn’s Octet; 35 minutes of enchantment, romance and youthful exuberance from the pen of a 16-year-old genius with his imagination on fire. Mozart’s gorgeous Clarinet Quintet is elegant, playful and tender by turns, it’s like dark chocolate for the ears. First, however, comes the lush prelude to Richard Strauss’s final opera; six players have never sounded so sensuous.

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The theme for Sunday April 23rd is Tragedy to Joy. If symphonies are like big-screen blockbusters, chamber music is like a composer’s personal diary; thoughts and feelings that are too special to share with just anyone. Emotions run deep and strong in Brahms’s haunting Horn Trio, written as he mourned the death of his mother. But in Schubert’s hugely popular Trout Quintet, they bubble over with joy. Schubert wrote this piece for friends on holiday, and you can tell – its glittering, easy-going sunshine is the perfect complement to Brahms’s twilit poetry. Beautiful melodies in abundance… there’s a reason why this is probably the world’s favourite piece of chamber music.

It’s forty years since the appalling Beverly first put Donna Summer on the turntable, stacked a plate with little cheesey-pineapple ones, plied her guests with alcohol, cigarettes and Demis Roussos and slow-danced her way across the shag-pile into theatrical history. Yes, Theatre Royal Bath Productions presents Abigail’s Party from Monday 20th March to Saturday 25th March.

Amanda Abbington

Fresh from being killed at Christmas in Sherlock, Amanda Abbington stars in the 40th anniversary of Mike Leigh’s drinks party from hell. Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence invite round new neighbours, Tony and Ange, along with nervous divorcee Sue, jittery about the bash her teenage daughter, Abigail, is throwing up the road. As that party reportedly gets out of hand, this one too descends into chaos, and comedy, drama and tragedy combine into an iconic piece of theatre.
Hilarious and horribly compelling it’s an undisputed classic.

Emmerdale and Strictly stars team up for clever crime drama at Worthing Theatres

The world stage premiere of the next thrilling adaptation of multi-million selling author Peter James’ Not Dead Enough opens at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th June 2017. Emmerdale’s Bill Ward and Strictly Come Dancing star and presenter Laura Whitmore head the cast.

On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was sixty miles away, asleep in bed. At least that’s what he claims. But as Detective Superintendent Roy Grace continues to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his own wife, he starts to dig a little deeper into the chilling murder case and it soon becomes clear that love can be a dangerous thing!

Not Dead Enough

Having watched Laura strut her stuff on Strictly, perhaps you, like me, are intrigued about how she will adapt herself to the stage. But fear not. She is no stranger to theatre, her acting career beginning at a young age with the Leinster School of Music and Drama in Dublin. In the very same year that she completed her Diploma in Performance with a special honour for her final performance she was chosen as the new face of MTV Europe.

Laura Whitmore

Other events at Worthing Theatres are well worth a look in early 2017. Saturday 11th Feb sees the return of the ever-popular Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They walk on stage with only a ukulele each, and from their formal black-tie opening, proceed to tear the house down as they wow the audience and make friends everywhere.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

On Saturday 25th February at the Assembly Hall the Jive Aces arrive with their Big Jive All-Dayer. 12 hours, 5 bands, 3 DJs and a whole lot of jivin’ going on! I’ve been to a previous All-Dayer and while it’s true the place is swingin’ nearly all day, you don’t have to be a jiver to enjoy the event. Oddly, it can be quite cheerful and relaxing, there are stalls to browse, a bar and café and you can stroll around and watch the dancers and performers. It’s a day of sheer fun!

The Jive Aces

On 19th March The University of Chichester’s extra-ordinary touring company return to the Connaught Theatre with that rarest of musical comedies, the 6 Tony Award-winning City of Angels, set in the glamorously seductive world of 1940’s Hollywood. I’m very curious about this drama. Well worth seeing methinks.

City of Angels

Visit for further information about these and all the other shows at Worthing Theatres.

Ropetackle Arts Centre once again brings superb music to Shoreham-by-Sea

The Grahams – Tuesday 7th March

American folk duo Alyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together. Friends since childhood, they became a couple in their teens and are now husband and wife. Somewhere along the way they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo who have married their love of adventure with a desire to build on foundations laid by their musical predecessors. Their first song-crafting expedition, along the Mississippi’s Great River Road, resulted in their debut album ‘Riverman’s Daughter’. For its follow-up ‘Glory Bound’, they rode the rails across America recording not just a studio album, but a documentary and live album too, in venues from Sun Studio to Amtrak’s famed ‘City of New Orleans’ train. This is Americana at its very best.

The Grahams. photo by David Johnson

Their new album, the explosive and aptly named Glory Bound, was helmed by Grammy nominated producer Wes Sharon at his 115 recording studio in Norman, Oklahoma. Recording in Oklahoma held special significance for a couple raised as Dylan-loving New York City suburban kids who spent weekends strumming campfire songs in the Adirondacks. Like many Dylan fans, they traced their way back to his greatest inspiration.

“After we recorded Riverman’s Daughter, we were listening to a lot of Woody Guthrie,” Alyssa explains. “The song ‘Farmer Labor Train’ kept sticking in our minds, so we wanted to write a song about trains. We wrote ‘Glory Bound,’ then decided that we really wanted to ride the trains in honour of Guthrie, Lead Belly and other old folk legends who used the train system to bring voices together.”

Emily Portman & the Coracle Band – Thursday 23rd March

Emily is the 2013 holder of the BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Original Song, an accolade which reflects her power to conjure darkly surreal netherworlds where folklore and myth collide with urban landscapes.

Her latest album, 2015’s Coracle, is fast picking up high accolades: described as ‘a marvellous, original work’ by the Observer, Coracle has placed Emily on the fROOTs magazine cover for the second time and has already received airplay by Jarvis Cocker on 6 Music, with repeated play by Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction.

With her debut fairy tale inspired album ‘The Glamoury’ also gaining her critical acclaim and two BBC Folk Award nominations, Emily is fast becoming a luminary of the UK folk scene, sharing stages with folk legends including Martin Simpson and Waterson:Carthy.

Emily Portman Trio

Emily performs live with the Emily Portman Trio, alongside the talented musicians Lucy Farrell (voice, viola and saw) and Rachel Newton (voice, harp and fiddle) who have become known for their “inventive arrangements using twinkling harp, brooding strings and chiming vocal parts” (Observer). Lucy and Rachel are highly sought-after soloists in their own right and together they have beguiled audiences throughout Europe. The Emily Portman Trio count prestigious venues including London’s Barbican and The Queen Elizabeth Hall among their stamping grounds, not to mention a string of renowned festivals from Cambridge to Celtic Connections.

Visit for further info about these gigs and all other performances at the arts centre.

A variety of entertainment at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge

The EM Forster Theatre is set in the heart of Tonbridge School and has a 370 seat capacity theatre and a studio space for up to 90.

Their arts programme has a wide variety of events that are open to the public including art exhibitions, music, theatre, comedy and talks. This programme of professional work sits alongside the pupils’ work in a unique way with many events being low price or free.

Ballet Central

Spring 2017 sees the monthly comedy night going from strength to strength with Jay Rayner (award-winning restaurant critic, Masterchef judge and chair of Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet) and his hilarious guidance on the best way to eat!

There is drama in the form of Frankenstein by Blackeyed Theatre with their new adaptation, as well as one-man drama from Jeffrey Holland (Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord) in his biographical show about Stan Laurel.

Jeffrey Holland as Mr Laurel. photo © Michael Wharley Photography

Family shows include Christopher Nibble about a daring guinea pig and Tall Stories classic Room on the Broom as well as fantastic dance from Ballet Central who return to the theatre for their fifth year.

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