News ~ Derby Theatre launches ‘Name a Seat’ campaign


at Derby Theatre

Launching May 2017

Please, take a seat and help support your local theatre

Derby Theatre is delighted to launch Name a Seat, a campaign which provides audience members with the opportunity to support their local theatre through naming a seat after themselves or someone special in their life.

Do you have an anniversary coming up, or a landmark birthday? Or would you like to remember someone special? Name a Seat at Derby Theatre is a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion, or remember someone who has enjoyed the experience of live performance, whilst supporting the work of Derby Theatre.

For £300, you can have a special bespoke message engraved on a plaque and attached to a plush red seat of your choice in the main auditorium at Derby Theatre. We’ll celebrate your support by offering you a backstage tour for you, your family and friends and you will also be given the opportunity to capture the moment by taking a photograph sat in your very own seat!

For every £1 of your support, Arts Council England will match it by £1. You could also Gift Aid your donation, so £300 of support will actually be worth £675 to Derby Theatre, with every penny going towards the valuable work of the Theatre.

Rachael Thomas (Executive Director, Derby Theatre) said: “Naming a seat can be a very special gift for someone, or a fitting tribute to an important person in your life. Through Name a Seat, you are helping to support Derby Theatre’s exciting programme of produced work and engagement with young people through providing them with the best facilities and training. This is a fitting way to celebrate your contribution for a nationally renowned and unique learning theatre. Any donation we receive is matched by Arts Council England Catalyst Evolve funding, pound for pound. You can also Gift Aid it and it will be worth an extra 25% to the Theatre.”

How it works. Select your seat, decide on what you’d like to say and Derby Theatre will do the rest. You can buy a pair of seats next to each other for a reduced price, but both seats must be purchased at the same time.

To find out more visit or contact Paul Challacombe at or 01332 593924.
Press Enquiries Heidi McKenzie – Senior Marketing & Press Officer Direct Line: (01332 593955) Mobile: 07527 839019 Email: Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF

Get ready to take your seat at Derby Theatre.

Neighbours ‘Ramsay Street’ Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 22 May 2017

Neighbours has wrapped up the Backpackers drama rather rapidly and it seems that Brooke is off on her travels again – how long for this time? We’ll see… Here are a few highlights:

Xanthe’s birthday ~ It’s all about Xanthe’s birthday and Mr Kelly buys her a necklace so expensive that she claims that she purchased it herself from her savings – how much did it cost? You can tell that Ben smells a rat now and that Xanthe has the hots for her teacher rather than the boy next door. Dangerous territory!

Gary’s engaged ~ Despite the best efforts of Brooke and her cronies (Sheila and Xanthe) making a play for her ex doesn’t come off and it takes a nose dive when he manages to convince Terese to marry him! It’s hardly a plain sailing engagement at this early stage, though – Gary is still suspicious of Paul and Terese knows that she’s stepped on Brooke’s toes. Will the hapless couple make it to the alter. I think not!

Bye bye Brooke ~ With Gary engaged to Terese and the door closed (for now) as far as a reconciliation is concerned for Brooke, she takes off again – this time to be with her daughter, Jessie. I’m sure I can’t be alone in wondering if Jessie is set to land in Ramsay Street and Brooke will continue to make a play for ‘her’ man. For now it’s bye bye honey bunch!

Sonya did it! ~ The Backpackers is still recovering from the tragic accident that landed Piper and David in hospital, and now we know whodunit! Sonya was on a drunken and misguided mission to help her Nelly Fish. It was quite distressing to witness the flashback which Sonya experienced before announcing that she was the driver responsible. Toadie is hell bent on keeping her out of prison and Steph and Mark have already tried to do their bit to cover up what they had long suspected. It’s going to be a tough long road ahead, regardless of the burned shoes (a strange choice of BBQ food.. !).

Toadie ~ I just want to take this ‘highlight’ to discuss Toadie, I feel that Ryan Moloney has come into his own as the years have moved on. Toadie must be like a second skin to him now. However, I will just say that the character we know and love doesn’t seem to have much awareness of the seriousness of his actions when it comes to his dalliance with fake Dee. Does anyone else feel that he is acting as though it should just be brushed under the carpet? Come on Toadie! Although I do think he’ll have his moment to shine now that Sonya is in trouble with the law.

For the cast click this link: Neighbours Cast

Spotlight On… Star of Billy Elliot, Anna-Jane Casey

Billy Elliot is completing a tour which starts again on Tuesday 30 May in Milton Keynes – to book tickets, click here: Billy Elliot

Having recently stepped up to temporarily take over from Tamsin Outhwaite in Stepping Out, Anna-Jane Casey is playing the role of Mrs Wilkinson and she kindly gave an exclusive interview to Break A Leg…

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Anna-Jane – so you’re appearing as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot the musical…

Yes, it’s a part I’ve played before as I appeared as Mrs Wilkinson in the West End too. I’m playing her at Milton Keynes Theatre and then in Hamburg.

What do you particularly enjoy about the show, have you any favourite songs or moments?

I enjoy working with the different ‘Billys’ they all bring some different to the role and they’re all so talented.  My favourite moment is when Billy shows his letter from his mum to Mrs Wilkinson, it makes me cry, I’m a big softie and I cry at anything!

What do you think are the strengths of Mrs Wilkinson’s character?

On the face of it Mrs Wilkinson is dressed like a parrot for a start off, you know those kind of women they’re not posh or loaded but they like to spruce up when they go out. In those sad times of heartbreak and uncertainty this is a woman who must have walked into a room and looked like she had fairy lights on her – so it’s nice to be that loud a character. The story of Mrs Wilkinson is that she’s a failed dancer and she nearly got a job in the West End but didn’t quite get there so she went back to her home town and she’s got this school, now. She comes across as though she’s hard but every day she goes to that dance class and hopes that there’ll be one little spark of genius and she finds that in Billy. As brusque and as brash as you think she is on the surface she’s always thinking “please god let someone be good today” and that’s nice to play, the hard outside and the soft inside.

Do you find something different in the character every time you play her?

Oh definitely, while I’m away I facetime my two daughters and I was facetiming them last night as I was pulling on another lycra leotard and my blue spangled hot pants and my daughter said “oh my god mummy, what have you got on?”. In the eighties that’s what people used to wear, of course but it’s great to reveal that outfit every night and hear the audience go “sweet Jesus”. Also the kids are amazing around you, you get a real buzz from them.

You popped quickly into Stepping Out to play Mavis, how was that experience?

Tamsin’s (Outhwaite) a very old friend of mine, we did Grease together before she was a TV star so when she found out that she’d broken her foot, my sister Natalie was already in the show and I know the director very well so it was one of those moments where my sister had said “why don’t you ring AJ?” and Tamsin had said “ring AJ she’s the only one I know who could do it in a week!”. So I had a week’s rehearsal and it was brilliant working with my sister, we had a right laugh, but it was a flash in the pan because I was only going to be there for a month because I was due to start in Billy Elliot. It’s one of those moments that I’m going to look back on when we get to New Year’s Eve and think “bloody hell I managed to learn a show in a week!”. Amanda Holden is one of the nicest women on the planet and brilliant, she really is, I’d never worked with her before and she was heavenly.

Going back to 2015, you appeared in Mack and Mabel which I didn’t get to see but I read amazing reviews for…

I did the show previously, a good fifteen years ago I played Mabel, the main part. This time I played Lottie and the lovely Michael Ball was in the show. It was nice to do the show playing the secondary female lead, I couldn’t have played Mabel, people would have said “what’s that old woman doing?” and it was a very different production as when I played Mabel years ago it was an actor-muso show and we all had different instruments to play. I was given percussion which was hilarious, so I was clanging and banging at the back! So it was nice do the show and not have to have the responsibility of playing one of the title roles but also to perform that big number (Tap Your Troubles Away) which I’ve known for years and I performed at a prom with the John Wilson Orchestra a couple of years ago.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and see Billy Elliot?

It’s still very politically true and it’s totally in our consciousness, we’re about to have a general election and the gap between what the Conservative party believe and what the Labour party believe at the time that the show was written it is the same. You had Margaret Thatcher on one side and Labour on the other who were fighting so hard for the Unions and we’re still fighting those battles today. I think the show has got real heart and it’s a show that will give you a brilliant story and the children are phenomenal. Any show where kids are swearing is hilarious, so come and see these brilliant kids saying the F word!

I’d like to thank Anna-Jane for a great interview, such a delight to chat to her (I’ve been a fan for years!) and wishing her and the rest of cast all the best for the rest of the Billy Elliot tour.






Spotlight On… Star of The Enchanted, Jade Ogugua

The Enchanted runs at The Bunker Theatre from 6 – 17 June 2017, book tickets here: The Enchanted
Following a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, Pharmacy Theatre present the London transfer of their debut show – a highly-acclaimed adaptation of death penalty investigator Rene Denfeld’s award-winning novel.  The Enchanted highlights issues around capital punishment, child abuse, and the self-perpetuating cycle of violence corrupting the US penitentiary.

Death row in America.  Men sit in isolated dungeons awaiting execution.  An investigator works tirelessly to save them.  She will not let men go to their deaths without a fight.

Rene Denfeld’s disturbing and poetic novel comes to life through performance, puppetry, choreography and sound in this striking adaptation examining themes of evil, punishment, clemency and redemption.  This journey through the eyes of the condemned seeps deep into our consciousness – are monsters really born or do we create them?

Pharmacy Theatre comment, Now more than ever, the exploration of these concepts needs to be discussed with wider audiences.  By sharing Rene Denfeld’s story, we hope to illustrate, and provoke discussion about, the parallel failings of justice systems in America and the UK.  This run will allow us to ask questions and inspire solutions for the way forward.

This spellbinding story will refuse to let you go. It is a play with a message to tell about the treatment of human beings and the possibilities of redemption, and it delivers this with skill (Broadway Baby).

Rene Denfeld is a bestselling American author from Portland, Oregon. She is the winner of the French Prix, ALA Medal for Excellence and a Carnegie Listing. She also works as a death penalty investigator and is active in prison reform.

Star of the production, Jade Ogugua chatted to Break A Leg…  

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Jade. Tell me about the piece and your character.

The Enchanted is about death row in the US and the role of nature and nurture in creating the people on it, but it’s also about the beauty and pain of human existence and the stories we create to face it. My character, The Lady, is an investigator whose job is to find out why the people we call monsters became who they are.

What was your initial impression of the script?

Relief! The focus on nature and the sounds and shapes of conversations and the magic you experience by being alive was not at all what I had expected from a script about death row and was a pleasant surprise!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

The script does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of the original novel and I think the use of movement was really key in translating how much of The Enchanted is about the place just beyond human reality. The slight downside of having the book to work from was my desire to try and convey every single thought and motive that was detailed so beautifully by Rene Denfeld!

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

I watched a great talk by Rene Denfeld about the art and importance of empathetic listening and I really wanted to highlight The Lady’s gift for listening to pretty terrible truths with such an open mind and heart.

How does The Bunker lend itself to the piece?

Well most of the play is set in an underground prison so an underground theatre couldn’t be more perfect!

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

I just think it’s a fascinating and important subject matter. The nature versus nurture question is always a great conversation starter and I think The Enchanted adds something to that conversation. Also, great book, great script, great cast!

Thank you Jade, wishing you all the best with the run!

Photo Credit: Paul Gilling

Spotlight On… Director of Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage), Max Hoehn

Pop-Up Opera have announced their Summer Season as they continue to challenge the way opera is traditionally performed. This summer, Pop-Up Opera return with a rarely-seen opera from the late eighteenth century, Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) from 18 May – 30 July 2017.

Packed with tunes and matrimonial mayhem, Il Matrimonio Segreto is an exciting story about following your heart – a perfect summer opera filled with Pop-up Opera’s special humour, sparkle and fun.

You can book tickets here: Pop-Up Opera

Here’s an interview with Director, Max Hoehn who chatted to Break A Leg about the production:

Tell me about the opera and your vision for it…

It’s a wild, anarchic comedy that brings together a range of eccentric, forceful personalities. They all collide in a series of farcical situations that centre round the disastrous engagement party of a businessman’s daughter. Cimarosa combines a down-to-earth, popular brand of comedy with a strong sense of the grotesque. It’s not a sophisticated comedy of manners, but something much more universal, chaotic and fun.

It’s an opera buffa and therefore intended to appeal to a much wider audience and deal with every day, unheroic themes such as greed, vanity and lust. So performing the piece in such a variety of informal, non-theatrical locations taps into the form’s identity very strongly. The audience are very close to the singers, so that direct, in-your-face contact is ideal for this material.

Rather unfashionably I have not set the piece in a specific location like Las Vegas or the Roaring Twenties. There’s almost no set. We’re performing in studios, farms, castles and underground chambers, so there’s no point pretending we’re anywhere other than where we are. The focus is on the strange and colourful array of characters that drive the piece

Did you have any ideas about casting and what you wanted the performers to bring to the piece?

I directed a comic a cappella opera recently for Birmingham Opera Company, which we performed in cafés around the city centre. That piece has influenced casting and how I have tried to direct the singers. I’m trying to aim for a rawness and clarity that can confront audiences with the material in as direct a way as possible.

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Rehearsals have confirmed for me the fact that you don’t need much in the way of props or set to tell a story when the audience are so close.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

The joy of story-telling. Some glorious melodies. The thrill of the operatic voice when combined with a language as playful and expressive as Italian.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

The music is irresistible and the main national companies in the UK haven’t done a production of Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto for many years, so it’s very enterprising of Pop-Up Opera to choose this piece to tour to 40 venues all around the country.

Thanks to Max for a superb interview, I hope to be able to see this production as it sounds amazing!

Photo Credits: Lidia Crisafulli

Gareth Gates on Footloose ~ Syndicated Interview

Following an acclaimed 2016 UK Tour, worldwide smash hit musical Footloose: The Musical will burst back onto the stage in 2017 starring Gareth Gates and Maureen Nolan, playing at the Belgrade Theatre from Tues 13 to Sat 17 June.

Book Tickets here: Footloose

Here’s an interview with star of the show himself, Gareth Gates…

When did you first start to sing?

I was eight years old when I first realised I could sing. It was at my first school where they were putting on a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I was fairly young so I can’t remember too much about it, but I remember it being liberating. Years later I was asked by Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Joseph in the West End and I jumped at the chance. It just hasn’t stopped since!

Did you know Footloose before joining this production?

I am a big fan of the film. It was released the year I was born in 1984 and I remember watching it quite a bit growing up. It’s a classic. I actively went after this job; the role really appealed to me. I’m playing the comedy role which is a type of character that I’ve never played before, and it’s great.

Tell us about the role you’re playing.

I’m playing Willard, who is the character who can’t dance. To be honest, that suits me down to the ground! He’s a cowboy from Beaumont. It’s a really small town in the United Stated where everybody knows everybody’s business, and dancing is banned. Ren arrives in Beaumont and shakes everything up;  he teaches Willard how to dance. Willard is a goofy character, and this is brand new for me. I am really enjoying playing someone completely different. I like to challenge myself.

We hear you have to wear gold hotpants in one scene?

I’ve actually been driving to every city on tour so I can take my weights bench with me! If I’m going to be half naked on stage, I need to be pumped up!

What is your favourite musical?

That’s a really tough one. I absolutely loved the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables which toured a few years back.  It was stunning. The cast were incredible and the venues just huge. I learnt my craft on that job, from the best.  We even got to take the show to Paris, which was obviously incredible.

Your newest venture is a range of coconut teas. What has the reaction been to creating Cuppanut Tea?

During a period of enforced voice rest at home I came up with the idea.  I can’t drink caffeine as I get migraines, so I created a drink I wanted to drink.  I love coconut.  The response has been amazing, from family and friends, to celebs I’ve asked to support me on social media – to the retailers, who have all been very keen.  I’ve just done a deal with Holland and Barrett so you’ll be seeing it in their stores very soon!

Thanks to Belgrade Theatre for allowing us to publish this excellent interview with Mr Gates, can’t wait to see the show!

Photo Credits: David Ellis


Brits who can’t make it to the coast this Bank Holiday can instead transport themselves to sunnier climes at Vue venues across the UK. To celebrate the launch of Baywatch, footage captured from California’s Venice Beach will be screened in stunning 4K definition with 5.1 surround sound before all screenings on Monday 29 May.

With the bank holiday Monday forecast to bring more rain than shine, Vue customers can sit back, relax and enjoy a healthy dose of (virtual) sunlight thanks to the ‘beach immersion’ sessions which will capture golden sands and waves lapping against the shore.

The psychological benefits of a beach break are widely known to help relax the mind and focus the senses and just a few minutes of this type of meditative experience can help keep viewers feeling relaxed and calm for the rest of the day.

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist says, “While we know that relaxing on a beach holiday helps us both unwind and recharge our batteries, studies have shown that the psychological effects have a genuine impact on our emotional wellbeing. The link between water and mental health – known as ‘blue space’ allows us to de-stress by both releasing the feel-good hormone serotonin and allowing the light and sound from a beach to soothe and calm us.

By creating a virtual beach situation, especially associated with a TV series that we are already familiar with and love, Vue has replicated both those feelings of nostalgia from past holidays as well as enhancing the anticipation of holidays to come”.

Dean Cross, Film Content Manager at Vue Entertainment says, “At Vue we’re always looking to give our customers the very best big screen experiences and make going to the cinema a chance to switch off from everyday life. By taking them directly to California before screenings of Baywatch, we’re offering the ultimate opportunity to relax and unwind”.

Vue Cinematic Beach Experience
  • Eastbourne (233) (7.5 hrs per day)
  • Newquay (221) (7.1hrs per day)
  • Blackpool (218) (7hrs per day)
  • Lowestoft (202) (6.5hrs per day)
  • Orkney Islands (190) (6.1hrs per day)


Ready to kick back and relax? Book your tickets to watch Baywatch at Vue venues across the UK now at

*** Guest Blog by Chloe Buckles*** Neighbours ‘Ramsay Street’ Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 15 May 2017

Message from Helen: As you may or may not know – I’ve been on my holidays recently so I have been in desperate need of help to keep up with my favourite soap, Neighbours. Luckily, I have a rather gifted young writer in my circle who is a super-fan of the show and was happy to lend a hand to her mate! So without further ado, here’s Chloe Buckles and her guest blog…

It’s been a tough week on Ramsay Street, with broken hearts, mentions of divorce and horrible first-boyfriends to contend with.

Here are the highlights…

Sonya’s downward spiral continues ~  Things have gone from bad to worse for Sonya this week. After being unable to ignore Tim Collins’ sly digs at her she’s unable to resist the temptation of downing a bottle or two. Unfortunately, this time, it’s in front of her friends, fellow council members and a journalist for the local newspaper. Toadie is quick to confront her and airs his concerns over her ability to look after their daughter Nell. Later, when Sonya and Nell get hounded by the press after Sonya losing her job as mayor, Toadie suggest perhaps he should move back home to look after her and Nell and work to repair their marriage. And just when we all thought Sonya might give in she’s adamant she wants a divorce. With the prospect of fighting for her daughter, I’m interested to see how Sonya is going to cope in the coming weeks.

Terese dumps Gary ~ It’s hardly been the romance of the year, but Terese and Gary make a fun-loving and unique couple. However, with Gary recently having secretive meeting with ex-partner Brooke, Terese is on high alert. Confiding in Paul, she realises that the damage done by her ex-husband means that she just can’t handle Gary’s secretive behaviour and ends their relationship leaving poor Gary heartbroken and confused.

Pregnancy problems for Paige ~ With the news that her unborn baby is currently breech, Paige has a panic attack and confides in Jack that she could really use her mum (Lauren) around for support. In the absence of her mum Jack arranges for the collection of Ramsay Street residents (Sheila, Susan, Terese, Piper, Amy and Aaron) to pledge their support to Paige, calling themselves the ‘mum-tree’. With so much focus on Paige’s pregnancy problems lately, I can’t help shake the feeling that we’re in for a bumpy ride as her due date gets closer.

Finn ~ The longer he’s around for the more teacher Finn Kelly is giving everyone an uneasy feeling. Not only is he completely manipulating Xanthe and abusing his position of trust with her but he’s eyeing up Susan’s job as principal. Not content to simply keep his dossier of Susan’s poor performance, he was also researching MS and swiping Piper’s painkillers – he’s definitely up to no good and everyone is starting to smell a rat.

David’s out and proud ~ David’s recent revelation that he is gay to his family and friends has lead him straight into the arms of work colleague Will on his first date. It’s a shame that Will isn’t the good guy he appears though, and after over-hearing him on the phone showing absolutely no respect for David, Aaron has no trouble telling Will where to go. Do I detect a bit of jealousy in the air?

Casualty ‘End Of The Road’ ~ Episode Review

Casualty’s main focus was on Connie’s relationship with Hugo, this week – as well as heralding the return of Lily (against Dylan’s better judgement). Here are some highlights from a fast-paced and intense episode…

Hugo (BILLY ANGEL) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Jez ~ Jez is still seeing his new boyfriend, and will certainly make enemies once his identity is revealed more widely. I was slightly relieved when it seemed as if Jez was going to be dumped… shame that didn’t happen!

Lily Returns ~ Although Dylan is dubious that it might be too soon, Lily is back at work following her accident and almost immediately drops the ball when she misses a tell-tale sign on a young patient. However, she picks it up so quickly (of course she does, it’s Lily!) and Sam is offering compliments by the end of shift. Will Lily apply for one of the Consultant positions?

Iain’s interest ~ Iain is still showing interest in Lily – for numerous reasons as we know, but he appears to be genuinely worried about her returning to work and has Louise looking out for her. 

Mummy Connie ~ Connie has loved playing mum to Hugo, especially when her own daughter doesn’t want a bar of her. However, the time has come for him to return to his family and move with them to Scotland. Connie is secretly devastated but handles it with her usual matter of fact manner. However, Hugo doesn’t take it well either – and he demonstrates his displeasure by running away. The drama that unfolds has a happy conclusion, but not without ‘crying’ over spilled milk – or in fact wine!

Popular Sam ~ Sam is continuing to ingratiate himself (not!) with the Consultants as he informs them that applying for their own job looms ever nearer – I think it would be a great cost cutting exercise if he left, personally. Sorry to all the fans of Tom Chambers!

Cast List:

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