Friday, 9 October 2009

Royal and Derngate, Northampton w/c 19 October‏

World class contemporary dance 

Celebrated throughout the world, Mark Morris has become a benchmark of creativity for a generation of dancers, choreographers and audiences, and Northampton theatre-goers have the opportunity to experience his exciting work when the Mark Morris Dance Group come to Royal & Derngate on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 October.

Music is always at the heart of Morris’ work and as his dancers travel in beautiful sweeping pathways across the stage it is almost as if the music comes alive in movement. Having created dance for almost 30 years, his work ranges from the austere to the joyful and can switch mood from the deeply moving to the downright silly. Mark Morris and his group of dancers never fail to surprise, soothe and stimulate, which is why they have become firm favourites with UK audiences.

The master of American contemporary dance returns to the UK this autumn, with a mixed programme showcasing new choreography alongside classic works from the company’s repertoire.

The company of 18 dancers will perform four pieces in their Northampton shows. Entirely new to British audiences, Excursions is underscored with live piano music by Samuel Barber. In addition to this will be Italian Concerto, set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, and the jubilant Going Away Party which is set to the American western swing music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. The evening is completed by the critically acclaimed Grand Duo, set to music by Lou Harrison, and featuring live piano and violin.

The Mark Morris Dance Group is brought to Northampton by the Dance Consortium in association with Dance Umbrella. They will be performing in Derngate auditorium for two nights only, on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 October, at 7.30pm, with a post show discussion on the Tuesday night. Tickets – priced £18.50 and £16.50 – can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at


ABBA fans’ chance to party all night long

Following a smash-hit season in London’s West End, the ultimate ABBA experience is set to raise a storm at Royal & Derngate. On Thursday 22 October, Sing-a-long-a ABBA will dazzle audiences in a fun-packed interactive celebration of the Swedish supergroup.

Sing-a-long-a Abba began in January 2002 and has gone on to enjoy success both in the UK and internationally. The show has all the elements of a Sing-a-long-a spectacular that audiences have come to love: a hilarious Dancing Queen competition, Magic Moment goody bags for everyone, all-time favourite lyrics on the Big Screen and the fantastic Sing-a-long-a ABBA singers performing hit after hit.

The evening kicks off with a vocal warm–up led by the singers who also take the audience through their goody bag, containing various props to be used at strategic points throughout the performance.  Sing-a-long-a shows have also become famous for fancy dress, and blonde wigs, glitter, lycra, and false beards have grown ever more popular amongst audiences - anything goes! (Fancy dress is not obligatory but highly recommended.)

Sing-a-long-a Abba is the perfect night out for anyone from hen parties to family groups, from office outings to anyone whose inner ‘Dancing Queen’ has emerged to the sounds of Take a Chance on Me, S.O.S and Knowing Me Knowing You. To sing, dance, and party the night away, there is only one place to be, and with so much nylon in the house the atmosphere is guaranteed to be electric!

So get ready for a night of pure sing-a-long-a fun with one of the greatest pop groups of all time, on Thursday 22 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £18 and are available from the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at


‘Best Elvis since Elvis’ to rock Royal & Derngate

Are you ready to rock n’ roll? The UK’s number one Elvis production, The Elvis Years, is an outstanding concert tour of the smash-hit West End Show, Jailhouse Rock, and it’s coming to coming to raise the roof of Royal & Derngate for one night only on Friday 23 October.

In The Elvis Years, audiences will experience the unique career of the King of Rock ‘n Roll, from his first demo recording (My Happiness – recorded as a present for his mama), through the innovative Sun Years with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, the legendary RCA hits, appearances on TV’s Ed Sullivan Show and the movie years with GI Blues and Jailhouse Rock, plus the famous ’68 comeback, finishing with the incomparable performances in Las Vegas.

The show’s star, Mario Kombou, has been described by Elvis’s cousin, Donna Presley, as “The best Elvis since Elvis”. He rocks, rip-roars and croons through Hound Dog, Return to Sender, Viva Las Vegas, Don’t Be Cruel and Wooden Heart, among more than 40 of his most popular hits featuring in the show, delivering an extraordinary tour de force performance as the King of Rock n’ Roll, with a cast of ten who brilliantly recreate the musical life of a legend.

Come and experience a night of pure Rock ‘n Roll magic on the Derngate stage on Friday 23 October at 8pm. Tickets, priced £19.50 and £17.50, are available from the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at


‘Best big band in the land’ strikes up in Northampton

Having just been voted the ‘Best Big Band in the Land’ for the 12th consecutive year, and with its latest album Strictly Big Band critically acclaimed, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra’s popularity continues to go from strength to strength. On Saturday 24 October audiences will find out why, when the band brings its winning combination of pizazz, excitement and comedy to Royal & Derngate.

Renowned for its exciting blend of high octane Big Band Swing and Classic Dance Music, the Orchestra’s repertoire ranges from the wartime million sellers of the legendary Glenn Miller through the era of the great Count Basie Orchestra to the hit songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Count Basie himself described the Syd Lawrence Orchestra as "So good it should be BANNED!"

Also featuring the music of Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and Billy May, and played by performers with a real passion for their music, the band captivate from the very first number. Leader Chris Dean packs a real punch with this dazzling new show, The Best of the Big Bands, offering an evening filled with the most distinctive music ever to grace the turntable, seamlessly combined with audience banter. The result is a unique fusion of music and humour, guaranteed to resonate long after the show is over.

So come and enjoy a night with the most enduringly popular Big Band in Britain today, the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, live on the Derngate stage on Saturday 24 October at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £17 and £14, are available from the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at


Northampton composer Sir Malcolm Arnold celebrated in fourth annual festival

The annual Arnold Festival celebrations in honour of Northampton's own Sir Malcolm Arnold takes place at Royal & Derngate on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October. Events across the weekend offer the opportunity to find out more about the composer from those who knew him best, as well as to hear recitals of some of his most memorable music. Composer John McCabe is guest of honour, and highlights include the inaugural Malcolm Arnold Composition Competition, a performance by The Ipswich and Co-op Band and a Gala Concert on Sunday night featuring the Malcolm Arnold Festival Orchestra.

One of Britain's most successful composers, Sir Malcolm Arnold has a remarkable catalogue of major concert works to his credit, as well as writing 132 film scores including Bridge on the River Kwai (for which he won an Oscar), Inn of the Sixth Happiness (for which he received an Ivor Novello Award) and Whistle Down the Wind. Arnold died in 2006, just a few weeks before the first Arnold Festival took place.

The Arnold Festival is delighted to welcome the distinguished British composer John McCabe who will be launching the Festival on the Saturday morning, judging the composition competition and giving a piano recital on Sunday afternoon to include some of his own music. The Composition Prize itself will be a fascinating event for which young composers have written new works based on Malcolm Arnold themes. Two winners - one from each of the schools and university/music college age range - will be chosen.

For Saturday evening's concert the festival moves to St Matthew's Church for a programme featuring Sir Malcolm's delightful Nativity Masque Song of Simeon, performed by the Elysian Singers, and some works written by John McCabe. On Sunday afternoon one of the countries great Brass Bands, The Ipswich and Norwich Co-op Band, will be performing some of Sir Malcolm’s best loved music including the legendary Padstow Lifeboat. The leading recorder player, John Turner, will also be performing Sir Malcolm’s complete music for recorder – a concert full of delights.

In the Sunday evening Gala Concert the Malcolm Arnold Festival Orchestra will be joined by the brilliant young violinist Boris Brovtsyn, for a performance of the Tchaikovsky’s much loved Violin Concerto. The concert also includes Arnold's Carnival of the Animals, a supplement to the Saint-Saens's work, featuring music for six zoological species that failed to make it on the Ark the first time round. The second half will
be Arnold’s Fourth Symphony – a towering work much inspired by Bernstein’s West Side Story and including a melody which caused an absolute sensation in its day.

Arnold Festival events take place throughout the weekend of 24 and 25 October at Royal & Derngate and on Saturday evening at St Matthew's Church. In addition to the musical performances other events include Martin Kingsbury talking about the Faber Years and a showing of the 1968 BBC Omnibus programme, A Portrait of Malcolm Arnold. Weekend tickets (excluding the Gala Concert) cost just £12. Tickets for the Gala Concert at 7.30pm on Sunday 25 October are priced from £14 to £31. For more information or to book, call the Box Office on 01604 624811 or visit


Royal & Derngate presents
Young America
Two exciting tales of youth and passion from the masters of American drama

Press day/night:
Beyond the Horizon - Thursday 22 October 2pm
Spring Storm - Thursday 22 October 7.45pm

Following on from the success of this summer's critically acclaimed Ayckbourn at 70 season, this autumn Royal & Derngate presents gripping tales of youthful passion and thwarted hopes with two early masterpieces of 20th Century American drama in its Young America season. An exciting young cast – including Life on Mars star Liz White – brings to life Eugene O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon and Tennessee Williams' Spring Storm, the latter a European Premiere. With the two plays performed in rotation by the same company of actors, the Young America season runs from Friday 9 October to Saturday 14 November.

Beyond the Horizon, by Eugene O’Neill, is considered by many to be the first modern American tragedy. Robert is about to start a new life across the ocean while his brother Andrew looks forward to settling down on the family farm. The realisation that they love the same woman results in them swapping lives and changing forever the path of the Mayo family, in a powerful story of youthful dreams crashing into reality and the human spirit being tested almost beyond endurance. This was the first of O’Neill’s plays to be professionally produced, and a sensation on Broadway when first seen in 1920, earning him a Pulitzer Prize. It enjoyed a successful run in the West End, but has been largely forgotten since.

Tennessee WilliamsSpring Storm was written when he was a playwriting student at Iowa University, and was re-discovered among his papers in 1999. Set in a Mississippi town full of small-minded gossips and young people brimming with life, it follows the tale of the beautiful and charming Heavenly and her host of young male admirers. When forced to make a decision between her handsome and wild lover, Dick, and the seemingly respectable and sensitive Arthur, they are all caught up in a storm 
that threatens to tear their lives apart. This autumn's production at Royal & Derngate will be the first time the play has been staged outside America.

Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate, directs the season, and has assembled a talented young cast. In both productions Liz White, who is best known as Annie in BBC TV’s Life on Mars, plays the central female role, with handsome young actors Michael Malarkey (in his professional debut) and Michael Thomson taking on the roles of rival lovers, in two contrasting tales of tangled passions.

Laurie says, “The Young America season is exceptional – two plays that have rarely or never been seen before in Britain, by playwrights who would go on to write masterpieces of the American theatre.  Both plays are characteristic of youth – they revolve around the dreams and passions of young people trying to find their way in life, against the backdrop of an early twentieth century America that is a melting pot of idealism and social tension.”

Beyond the Horizon and Spring Storm can be seen as part of the Young America season which opens on Friday 9 October and runs until Saturday 14 November. Tickets are on sale now priced from £27 to £11, and can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at The two plays are being performed in rotation, giving the opportunity to see both plays in one day on certain dates. For more details of dates and times visit the theatre’s website or call the Box Office.


Performance schedule
Friday 9th October to Saturday 14th November
Evenings: 7.45pm
Matinees: 2pm (Thurs and Sat only)
No performances Sundays
Young Britain showcases new writing talent
Running alongside Royal & Derngate’s Young America season, in which two early plays by Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams are being staged this autumn, Young Britain is a programme of creative projects featuring writing and theatre workshops and performances of new writing inspired by the season.
On Friday 23 and Saturday 24 October, in collaboration with Theatre Writing Partnership, Royal & Derngate presents Embracing the Storm – six new short plays by the finest young writing talent in the East Midlands. Performed by professional actors at 6.30pm prior to the evening performances of Williams’ Spring Storm on the Friday and O’Neill’s Beyond the Horizon on the Saturday, the plays are a response to the Young America season, focusing on the experience of being young in Britain today. They explore the rites of passage experiences of moving from youth to adulthood.
The young writers include Helen Coope and Melissa Brakel from Northamptonshire. Julius Ayodeji – who wrote the play Natural Breaks and Rhythms which was staged by Royal & Derngate a few years ago – is also writing a piece, drawing on his work with young people from the Youth Offending Service. The other writers are Marilyn Ricci, Monika Johnson and Beatrice Udeh.
On the afternoon of Saturday 24 October from 2 till 5pm, there will also be an inspiring and dynamic writing workshop called Making the Words Stand Up – aimed at young people aged from 15 to 26. An opportunity to get creative juices flowing and create a bite-size play in just three hours, the workshop will be led by successful playwright Andy Barrett, who will provide participants with various creative methods to help generate ideas and develop writing skills.
Both Embracing the Storm performances and the workshop Making the Words Stand Up are presented as part of Momentum 09 – a festival of new theatre writing for the East Midlands. Tickets are free of charge, but places are limited so booking is advised. Call Royal & Derngate Box Office on 01604 624811 to reserve a place or visit, where you can also find more details of the full Young America season, which runs until Saturday 14 November.
 A number of workshops for schools are available in association with Young America. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Creative Projects Manager Alex Soulsby on 01604 627566 or

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