Archive | Theatre

Life is a Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre


For one week only, Leeds Grand Theatre will play host to Olivier-Award-winning musical, Cabaret, from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th October 2017.


Produced by Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, Cabaret will star internationally renowned singer/songwriter Will Young, who reprises his Olivier Award-nominated performance as the enigmatic Emcee, musician and presenter Louise Redknapp, who makes her stage debut as Sally Bowles and Susan Penhaligon as Fraulein Schneider; Susan is best known for the popular television series Bouquet of Barbed Wire and the sitcom A Fine Romance with Judi Dench.



Set in 1930s Berlin against the backdrop of the seedy Kit Kat Club, Cabaret tells the tale of young American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and features some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre, including ‘Money Makes the World Go Round’, ‘Two Ladies’ ‘Maybe This Time’ and of course ‘Cabaret’.


Since its Broadway premiere in 1966 – and the famous movie version starring Liza Minnelli and Oscar-winner Joel Grey – Cabaret has won a staggering number of stage and screen awards, including eight Oscars, seven BAFTAs and 13 Tonys. Norris’ production has enjoyed two smash hit West End runs and has picked up two Olivier Awards.


Cabaret is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th October. Tickets (£20.50 – £41.50) available from 0844 848 2700 and online at



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A Wind of Change – A Community Theatre Project in Meanwood



Presented by Common Chorus Theatre and InterACT Church and Community Partnership, ‘A Wind of Change’ is a special community theatre project being created for and by residents, workers and regular visitors to Meanwood.

If you would like to take part, just sign up – it’s absolutely free! There will be four different groups, each led by a professional artist, and each of these will form a different part of the story. You will get to work alongside some of Leeds’ most exciting theatre makers to create and perform this original show. All you need is to be committed to the whole journey of the show and be able to attend most, if not all, rehearsals and the performance week.

The first creative workshop is on 21st October, when work will begin on creating the script. This will be followed by weekly rehearsals in the new year. The performance will take place during February Half Term at Stainbeck Church.

Anyone with an on-going connection to Meanwood can take part. No previous experience is necessary, although the initiated are very welcome too! Young people aged over 11 years are welcome and there are opportunities for 8 -10 year olds too. For further information, contact Ness Brown on 07961 535767 or




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Kneehigh Return to WYP with The Tin Drum


Acclaimed theatre company Kneehigh make an epic return to Leeds this week with a new adaptation of The Tin Drum. Günter Grass’ surreal seminal 20th Century novel is brought to thrilling life in a visually dazzling, dark and daringly provocative production playing at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 17 – 28 October.

On Oskar’s third birthday he rails against the adult world and decides to remain a child forever. Armed with a heart full of rage, a singing voice that shatters glass and a seemingly indestructible tin drum, Oskar sets about revealing the world for what it truly is. However, the world has other plans for our hero…

Exploring the rise of fascism through the eyes of a child, Günter Grass’ post-war masterpiece has never been more prescient. His classic novel, which presents anti-hero Oskar refusing to grow up as he watches the growth of ugly and suffocating totalitarianism around him, is reimagined by Kneehigh as part Baroque opera, part psychedelic white-out and part epic poem: a burlesque, a blitzkrieg and a tsunami.

For more info and tickets click here

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WYP’s Youth Theatre Explores Mental Health With New Production


A poignant production which explores young people’s mental health is being created by West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Youth Theatre in collaboration with Leeds Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Written for West Yorkshire Playhouse by Rebecca Manley, Zoetrope follows seven young people as they tackle emotional and behavioural difficulties in a timely exploration of the mental health of young people and the resources afforded to them.

In preparation for the performance the Zoetrope cast have collaborated with Leeds Community Healthcare’s CAMHS service, inviting both young people and NHS staff into rehearsals to share their insights and experiences. CAMHS provides services for young people under 18 when mental health issues get in the way of daily life.

“Being involved in Zoetrope has given the CAMHS young people a real sense of confidence and helped them realise how their knowledge and experience has made them the experts”,  said Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioner,Vandhna Sharma. “Our CAMHS young people have loved learning about a theatre production and were touched by how polite and considerate the Zoetrope cast are, in particular when they shared their experiences of mental health and the support they received, which helped provide authenticity and depth to the Zoetrope characters. The audience get to see young people navigate their way through mental health difficulties and support processes from their perspective, as well as understand the impact it has on every area of their life.”


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(The Fall of) The Master Builder at West Yorkshire Playhouse



So…… in discussing Ibsen’s play ‘The Master Builder’ with actor Reece Dinsdale, West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director, James Brining, posed the question – ‘What If?’

They decided to take a strand from Ibsen’s play and run with it. I did wonder why – why fiddle with a good play, let’s just see ‘The Master Builder’. Fiddling can sometimes lead to disaster.

But, of course, this is no longer Ibsen’s play. James and Reece threw the ball to playwright Zinnie Harris who borrowed Ibsen’s characters but took them on a different journey. Little did she know when she set out just how pertinent this story would be.

It’s the story of a powerful man, Halvard Solness (played by Reece), who has just been awarded Master Builder status. He is at the top of his profession. He is ruthless, manipulative. But young architects are snapping at his heels. Then one day Hilde (Katherine Rose Morley) walks in and reminds him of their previous meeting…..when she was 15.

Despite my skepticism at the outset, I was riveted from the off. The cast (which also includes Susan Cookson as his wife Aline; Emma Naomi as Kaja his assistant; Robert Pickavance as Brovik his old friend who used to own the architectural practice; Michael Peavoy as Brovik’s son Ragnar who has ambitions; and David Hounslow as his wayward friend Dr Herdal) was tight, successfully creating all the individual tensions that build up around such a man. By the end of the first part, you knew he was set up for a fall.

And what a fall!

In the second half, Solness’s whole demeanor changes. Six microphones are lined up across the front of the stage. One by one the characters step up to denounce him. They are like witnesses giving evidence, reading from file notes. Solness is alone on the stage. Slowly the walls start to close in on him.

Zinnie Harris’s play never lost momentum. “Zinnie’s adaptation is a mesmeric and gripping exploration of power”, said James Brining. “This retelling of such a classic text feels timely, a contemporary story addressing gender, control and privilege. Zinnie breathes urgency into Ibsen’s female characters, generating terrific energy, tension and jeopardy.”

Reece Dinsdale was marvelous as Solness. “Halvard Solness is a fascinating character – a man standing right on a precipice and staring down into the abyss”, he said. “He’s at the height of his success, being forced to confront his deepest fears. It becomes really uncomfortable. His dread of the ambitious young, the steady decline of his creative powers, and the murky secrets of his past come right to the fore the very moment we meet him.”


(The fall of) The Master Builder continues at West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 21st October. It is well worth seeing.

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Don’t Miss Red Ladder’s Production of The Shed Crew



Join The Shed Crew in Ashtrayland, as Red Ladder Theatre, supported by West Yorkshire Playhouse, presents an immersive performance in Albion Electric Warehouse on South Accommodation Road, until 1st October.

When Chop meets charismatic Urban – an illiterate 12-year-old but with a real talent for words, and a penchant for glue-sniffing and firebombing – he’s brought into the inner-circle of The Shed Crew, a posse of dispossessed kids, runaways and joyriders, seeking sanctuary from the mean streets of their inner-city estate in a shed. When mum’s a junkie, your dad might as well be dead and grown-ups are all nonces, grasses and greedy-bastards, The Crew is the only family you need.

Award-winning playwright Kevin Fegan has adapted Bernard Hare’s searingly honest memoir, Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew, into a new play which captures the explosive energy of this darkly funny story of former social worker ‘Chop’ and his remarkable bond with Urban and his friends.

“Chop and Urban’s relationship is like a buddy movie: a strange pairing of a middle-aged man and a 12-year-old boy who go on a wild trip, with the Shed Crew as its chorus”, said Kevin. “Their story explodes like a firework, and I needed to capture the energy of these feral kids. It’s the raw honesty that I most admire, and the humanity that you warm to – Bernard Hare tells the good and the bad in his book. It’s not about how we can go marching in and help – it’s what we can take from these kids and their experiences.”

Bernard returned to his home estate in Leeds in the 90s after becoming disillusioned as a social worker in London. It’s here that he met ‘Urban’ and The Shed Crew. Often colluding in their wildness – but the only grown-up they trusted – ‘Chop’ became their unlikely mentor, introducing them to the arts, and learning far more from them in return. He decided to write his memoir to show the reality of life for the socially excluded, giving a voice to the voiceless.

Kevin had met and befriended Bernard before setting out to write the play. Taking the unusual approach of writing in verse infuses the play with a certain rhythm which underpins the action. Having given Kevin the thumbs-up, Bernard let him get on with it, meeting him again only at the end to read it through – another thumbs-up.

Originally planned as a theatre production, it soon became clear that this was not a play for traditional staging. Instead, it was decided it should be an immersive experience. Albion Warehouse was suggested – this was no vast empty space but was scattered with turbines, workbenches and huge boxed up industrial fridges. In amongst all this a performance area had to be created – a den for the characters. The audience would have to become part of that world.

“There have been massive leaps forward and huge changes since Bernard Hare’s book was written, and we’re not looking back to the past in bringing it to the stage”, said Red Ladder’s artistic director, Rod Dixon. “As one of Britain’s leading radical theatre companies this story is one that Red Ladder still needs to tell – as vast sections of society across Britain exist in extreme poverty; forgotten communities living parallel lives in austerity against the glossy veneer of commerce and consumerism.

“It’s important that the play not be seen as voyeuristic, it’s not poverty porn. The aim was not highlight how the underclass lives. We are all a tissue away from that kind of chaos. The play shows the human side of things and we’re thrilled to have the Albion Electrics warehouse as a venue in which to immerse people in this world; one from which we can all learn about ‘survival’, family and the power of humanity and the arts.”

Red Ladder has built in a considerable amount of public engagement around the production, working closely with Leeds Poverty Truth Commission and Simon on the Streets. Creative writing, photography workshops, and discussions are taking place at Leeds Libraries’ Space 2 and West Yorkshire Playhouse’s First Floor. They plan to capture voices in the workshops and build these into the sound design. Simon on the Streets is preparing a photographic exhibition, which will be displayed at Albion Warehouse.

Tickets can be booked through West Yorkshire Playhouse on 0113 213 7700 or



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Leeds Grand Theatre Launches Training Project for Aspiring Young Actors


Auditions for Leeds Actors in Training (LAIT), a pilot project being run in collaboration with Leeds Grand Theatre offering 18 to 23 year olds a practical skills building course for a career in theatre, are being held on Tuesday 10th October.

Run by industry professionals, LAIT is designed to develop participating artists vocally, physically and imaginatively, encouraging an independent and in-depth approach to work. Auditionees will be required to perform a monologue and take part in an hour long group workshop and individual interview. The session, run by Director Lizi Patch, will end with a group Q&A session.



“Unique to Leeds, LAIT gives young adults the opportunity to access actor-training of the highest quality with support and insight from professional directors, actors, movement specialists, vocal coaches and producers across the year”, said Lizi, a freelance writer, actor and director with more than 30 years’ experience, including as Artistic Director of the City Varieties Youth Theatre.

“For some years now I have wanted to provide high quality, meaningful actor training to young adults who are between school and further education or work. Passion and a good publicity photo will only get you so far in this industry. In my experience, to truly succeed an actor must be skilled and committed with a strong grip on reality. A thick skin, good work ethic, generosity, imagination, tenacity and an interest in human behaviour are also vital.

“At LAIT we will provide a supportive and vibrant space to help aspiring actors unlock their potential, develop skills, network and move to the next phase of their training with confidence!”

Run over 30 weeks, LAIT will meet every Tuesday 6 – 8.30pm at Leeds Grand Theatre. For more information, and to download an application form, visit or call Hannah Johnson, Arts Administrator, on 0113 297 7042.


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Reasons to be Cheerful at The Playhouse


Part gig, part play, Reasons to be Cheerful celebrates the infectious music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads in this bold and jubilant coming of age tale at West Yorkshire Playhouse Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 October.



It’s 1979. Labour has just lost the General Election to the Tories. Strikes rock the nation and Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3) is climbing the charts. Die-hard fans Vinnie and Colin are on a mission to see Ian Dury and the Blockheads play Hammersmith Odeon. With no tickets to a sold-out gig their journey throws more at them than they could have ever expected….


Featuring stone-cold classic songs including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick; Plaistow Patricia; Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll; Sweet Gene Vincent; What A Waste and the titular Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3), the show also features new song If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong written exclusively for the production by members of Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads and Graeae performer John Kelly.

Reasons To Be Cheerful is directed by pioneering disabled led theatre company Graeae’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey MBE, and performed by an inclusive cast of 14 actor musicians. Using Graeae’s signature theatrical language, all performances of Reasons To Be Cheerful seamlessly include British Sign Language, audio description and creative captioning.

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City Varieties Youth Theatre Seeks New Members



Children in aged eight – 11 with a passion for theatre are invited to audition for the City Varieties Youth Theatre Company (CVYTCo) on Saturday 23rd September, from 11am – 12.30pm at Leeds Grand Theatre.

“The audition process for the young performers is a relaxed workshop involving games and drama exercises that will provide an opportunity for them to see what is involved in being a full-time Youth Theatre member”, said Rachel Lythe, Head of Learning. “No formal audition preparation is needed, we want children to come along, have fun and see whether they think it will be a fit for them as much as it is for us.”

Launched in 2012, the CVYTCo, under the guidance of Artistic Director Lizi Patch and the Leeds Grand Theatre Learning Team, allows young people to perform and work alongside professional artists, develop skills, and meet like-minded people.

“Our focus is on nurturing, supporting and creatively challenging every individual, regardless of experience”, said Lizi. “The programme is designed to build confidence, trust, self-awareness and creative skills through physical theatre and regular acting, singing and dance sessions.”

For more information and to download an application form visit or call Hannah Johnson, Arts Administrator, on 0113 297 7042.


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Front Room Productions Bring Their Acclaimed Oliver Twist Back to Kirkgate Market


Leeds theatre company Front Room Productions are to revive their original, promenade adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist, within Kirkgate Market, after working hours, from 20th – 28th October.

With a haunting original score, composed by Robert Collins, the production leads audiences around the closed market as Victorian England is brought back to life in the heart of Leeds.

Director Olivia Race wrote the adaptation with the novel at its core revealing more of the darkness within the original story.  Orphan Oliver Twist, played by Georgina Franklin, welcomes audiences into the market before taking them on his journey through the dark criminal underworld of London thieves, under the wing of juvenile pickpocket the Artful Dodger, played by Riana Duce.

The show leads audiences around the stalls, twisting and turning through the Victorian Market, where we meet the loathsome Fagin, the vicious Bill Sikes and the self-sacrificing Nancy.  Through Dickens’ brilliant tale depicting Oliver’s struggle between hope and cruelty, the show creates an unforgettable world of threat and mystery, that left audiences stunned and speechless during its production run in January.

Front Room Productions creates theatre in unconventional spaces, staging high-quality, intimate theatre where you least expect to find it.  The January run of ‘Oliver Twist’ was a complete sell-out, and with a limited capacity per performance, tickets are expected to go quickly once again.

‘Oliver Twist’ is part of Front Room Productions’ Dickensian season, which includes a Northern tour of their brand-new adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ to venues in Leeds, York, Bradford and Manchester this winter.  This follows their recent Shakespearean season, with Pop-Up scenes performed on demand to entertain market shoppers as part of ‘Love Your Local Market Week’ in May.  And an open-air romp around new arts venue Dunstarn Farm with their modern, farmyard version of ‘Twelfth Night’ over August bank holiday weekend.  The company is immensely proud to have its roots in West Yorkshire, and endeavours to stage productions that showcase and celebrate the wealth of talented performers working across the region.


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