Football and theatre unite as part of Football Remembers
Michael Greco is set to play war hero and football manager Billy Holmes alongside Harry Potter’s James Phelps who is changing a wizard wand for a rifle as he moves from the Battle of Hogwarts to the Battle of the Somme.
Other cast members include award winning actors Paul Marlon (Communion, Dangerous Mind Of A Hooligan, Essex Boys Retribution) and Scott Kyle (Outlander, Kilo Two Bravo, The Angels Share) as well as Victoria Gibson and Helena Doughty who some of the more keenly eyed readers may recognize for their connections to both the football and theatre world. All of these line up under the stewardship of multi award winning director Adam Morley who will present The Greater Game as part of Football Remembers, a pan football initiative set up by the FA, Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and PFA which will support a range of projects commemorating the Armistice and conclusion of the First World War Centenary.
The Greater Game tells the true story of some of the footballers who signed up to fight in the Great War, focusing on lifelong friends Richard McFadden (James Phelps) and William Jonas (Steven Bush) who travelled from Newcastle to London to play football for Clapton Orient, before swapping England for France to ‘fight for King and Country’ – a fight neither one would survive. More than a story of football or war, The Greater Game is a story of love, friendship, sacrifice, triumph and loss.
“a mix of harsh reality and tender and cherished moments” ★★★★★ Guardian Series
After a 5 star run at the Southwark Playhouse in 2017, The Greater Game has been re-drafted and is set to come back even stronger for a run at the Waterloo East Theatre from October 30th to November 25th. Some nights have already sold out to the show critiques raved about:
“Make the effort to see this, it is well worth while” ★★★★★ West End Wilma
“It is very rare you get a chance to tell a true story where the families of the fallen are directly involved’ said producer and O’s legend Peter Kitchen ‘even more so when it is such a touching yet funny true story’. ‘The last show got a standing ovation every night and word of mouth lead to over 4k people seeing the first production, which we are all very proud of, so to get the chance to tell this amazing true story one more time and do justice to the men and woman who sacrificed so much 100 years ago is a real honour”
The show was written by Michael Head on the back of his 5 star show ‘Worth A Flutter’ which is currently being considered for a West End Transfer following a highly successful run at The Hope Theatre.
Michael said; “to get the chance to tell this story, to touch so many and bring an audience to tears and fill the theatre with laugher was a real pleasure and this time everything is set to be even stronger than our first run”.
I’m a self-confessed Harry Potter fan so I was delighted to be able to interview James Phelps about the play, here’s the result of our chat:
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, James, tell me about the piece and your character…
Its about Clapton Orient who were in the 2nd Division of English football at the time of WW1 and really could have gone onto great things on the pitch before the war. However, once the war started almost all of their players and staff signed up to fight. They were the first English side to do so in such numbers.
I play Richard McFadden who was their top goal-scorer. In fact, when researching the role I read the Daily Express had called him the ‘outstanding player on the field’ when he played for the Southern XI vs England and scored the winner.
What was your initial impression of the script?
When Adam Morley (the director) sent me the script I read through it and loved it. I laughed, cried and after finishing, it made me want to know everything. I couldn’t believe it is a true story, the script really has the banter of a dressing room but the truths about war and life back then.
What are the key factors a script must have to entice you to do it?
I want to care about the people in the story, what they do, what happens to them. And if you are still thinking about their stories hours or days after you know its a good one.
What do you feel your character’s strengths and weaknesses are?
He was a real life hero, not just on the football pitch, and even before he went to the front. He rescued a pair of kids who were drowning in the River Lea, a man from a burning building. So that’s his strengths, but I’m not sure if he had many weaknesses.
Did you have prior knowledge of the Battle of the Somme from a historical point of view?
Yes, I am a bit of a history buff. I went on a school trip to the Somme, Passchendaele , Ypres, many years ago now. But the memories of it have never left me, seeing how many graves there are, names on the monuments of those with no known graves. In fact I have two great uncles whose names are on the Menin Gate. I think it has only been as I have got older I appreciate even more what they all went through and how truly terrible it must have been.
What do you think the challenges of this piece are?
For me, it has been the accent for the character I play, Mac. He was born in Scotland and moved to Blyth in the north east till he was 22 when he moved to London. So I’ve had to learn a Newcastle accent with a slight Scottish hint to a few words. I actually went up to Blyth to hear how the locals speak as I am so determined to get it right. I also decided to lose some weight for the role, and get into shape as footballers would have been in the 1910s. My diet hasn’t seen any sweets or fast food for quite a while.
What can the audience expect from the production?
They can expect to see a production that tells the true story of friends that go to fight for King and country. The impact that it has on their families and friends back home and what a great sacrifice they give.
Sell the show to me, why should we all come and see it?
I think it’s a great way to honour the 100 year anniversary of the end of WW1. The play will take the audience back to this time and the day to day lives of these people as war was breaking out, showing how although this was the worst conflict in history, they still stayed together as a team and friends. It isn’t a show saying “look how bad war is”, the audience can decided that for themselves; we want to show what happened and how this really should have been the war to end all wars. I hope the audience comes away from it still thinking about these people’s stories and appreciating what they did.
Huge thanks to James for his time, I learned all about the Battle of the Somme during History GCSE so I think this will be a very interesting piece to watch. Wishing all of the team well with the production!
The global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! at London’s Novello Theatre is now extending its booking period from Monday 4 March to Saturday 14 September 2019. MAMMA MIA! will celebrate its 20th birthday in London on 6 April 2019. The box office for the new booking period is now open.
The London cast of MAMMA MIA! stars Sara Poyzer as Donna, Kate Graham as Tanya, Ricky Butt as Rosie, Richard Trinder as Sam, Neil Moors as Harry, Stephen Beckett as Bill, Georgia Louise as Sophie, Alec Porter as Sky, Charlotte O’Rourke as Ali, Leah St Luce as Lisa, Damian Buhagiar as Pepper and Eamonn Cox as Eddie, with Caroline Deverill playing the role of Donna Sheridan at certain performances.
Also in the cast are Chloe Ames, Chloe-Jo Byrnes, Adam Clayton-Smith, Adam Davidson, Luke Hall, Lauren Hampton, Jack Heasman, Jennifer Hepburn, Stuart Hickey, Zoe Humphryes, Mark Isherwood, Tyler Kennington, Robert Knight, Chanel Mian, James Willoughby Moore, Natasha O’Brien, Dean Read, Beth Relf, Annie Southall and Katy Stredder.
From West End to global phenomenon, MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise. To date, it has been seen by over 60 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $2 billion at the box office. In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China. MAMMA MIA! is also currently playing an International Tour, receiving great critical and public acclaim.
MAMMA MIA! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004, and then to the Novello Theatre in 2012.
The London production of MAMMA MIA! has been seen by over 8.9 million people, played over 8,000 performances and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.
Produced by Judy Craymer, MAMMA MIA! The Movie became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008. A second film, MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time.
With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch.
MAMMA MIA! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.
London WC2B 4LD
Ticket Prices: From £15.00
A £2.25 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked online, and a £2.75 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked by phone. No booking fee on tickets purchased in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office.
All prices include £1.25 restoration levy.
Early Bird Pricing – anyone booking four months or more in advance of the performance they are attending (Monday to Thursday performances only) will save £20 on Band A and Premium tickets, but only through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, either online, in person at the theatre, or by calling the Novello Theatre Box Office.
Monday – Saturday 7.45pm
Matinees – Thursday & Saturday 3.00pm*
* extra Tuesday matinees 6 & 20 August 2019
Christmas 2018/19 Performance Schedule
Monday 24 December NO PERFORMANCE
Tuesday 25 December NO PERFORMANCE
Wednesday 26 December 7.45pm
Thursday 27 December 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Friday 28 December 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Saturday 29th December 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Monday 31 December 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Tuesday 1 January 7.45pm
Wednesday 2 January 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Thursday 3 January 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Friday 4 January 7.45pm
Saturday 5 January 3.00pm and 7.45pm
Currently booking to 14 September 2019
The performance lasts 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)
For cast interviews with Donna and the Dynamos (AKA Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt) click the image!
Mamma Mia and cast members; Stephen Beckett, Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt have been nominated for awards at this year’s Entertainment Views Awards, to vote please follow this link: Entertainment Views Awards 2018
Earlier in the year I was delighted to see the latest cast of MAMMA MIA! in the west end production and they blew me away. Collectively, the Dynamos are the best three I’ve seen in all my years of watching and occasionally reviewing the show. Sara Poyzer plays Donna and she sparkles with a down to earth quality which I always feel ought to be an overt trait in Donna. Kate Graham is obviously in her element as Tanya, tongue-in-cheek humour, glamorous and loving life whilst attracting the younger man! Ricky Butt as Rosie is everything I expect the character to be – perfect comic timing and her understanding of the character’s persona shows.
To be able to interview the three actresses who have reignited my passion for the musical was an absolutely superb opportunity, so without further ado – I give you…. DONNA AND THE DYNAMOS!!!
Sara Poyzer (Donna)
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Sara, I know you’ve played Donna before on international tour, what enticed you back and made you want to play the role in the West End?
When I finished the international tour after being on the road for four years, it was the travelling I was tired of rather than the role itself so it was a real treat to be asked to come into the west end and do it. Particularly with the second film coming out and the 20th anniversary of the show coming up. Of course there was no guarantee that I would get the job when I went for it so to be offered it was like being offered the role all over again. I was absolutely delighted!
The chemistry between the three Dynamos works so well, what do you think the secret is?
I’ve known Kate (Graham, who plays Tanya) for years and we are very old friends and because I’ve done this show for a few years, as soon as I knew Kate was in the cast and that Ricky (Butt, who plays Rosie) had been cast as Rosie we met for coffee ahead of rehearsals and said “right, we’re mates, we’re mates on stage and off stage” and that’s grown over the past few months as we’ve got to know Ricky. We have a genuine friendship and we support each other professionally, emotionally and personally. We’re mates and I’m glad that shows on stage.
What’s your favourite Abba song in the show?
I love singing The Winner Takes It All.
What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2? Did it live up to your expectations?
I thought it ticked every box as far as being very sentimental with great story telling and excellent performances. I left with a smile on my face, which was exactly how I reacted to the first film as well. I think in this day and age the film is a real tonic for life’s daily pressures and challenges. I went to the film premiere and I was star struck by the stars and celebs sitting by me so I was half watching the film and half watching Cher out the corner of my eye!
Do you think there’s room for a MAMMA MIA! 3?
I don’t know but I’d like to see Mamma Mia 2 on stage!
If you weren’t in MAMMA MIA! what would you have your eye on doing next in your career?
I don’t know, my heart is in theatre, I love doing theatre – maybe I’d go for something more serious and classical which is where my training is. I think maybe I’d like to work at the National Theatre next.
What led you into a career as a performer?
I got a job at Nottingham Playhouse Theatre and started to see a lot of plays and it was a bit like an epiphany, I fell in love with performing and the whole romantic notion of what theatre is. So at the age of 24 I decided I wanted to go to drama school. I auditioned for a few drama schools, got in to one and got a local council grant. I trained as a straight actor but I ended up in the cast of Billy Elliot which propelled me into the world of musical theatre. I have no regrets because I absolutely love musical theatre, I think it’s a really powerful medium.
Finally, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to book a ticket and come and see you all?
The show has so many universal themes such as friendship, love, guilt, joy and comedy. There are so many different elements in this show that I think although it sounds such a cliché when I look out during the finale each night I see people from all walks of life and it feels like it’s appealing to all of them. It’s one of those shows that ticks every box and it features the music of Abba, and they have written such amazing pop songs.
Kate Graham (Tanya)
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Kate, so you’re no stranger to the show and indeed the role as you played Tanya on international tour, what made you decide to play the role again?
I played the role eight years ago and I loved it. After I finished the international tour I had been waiting for it to come up when I was free.
What’s your all-time favourite Abba song?
I like Angel Eyes but I also like When All Is Said and Done. I can’t ever fail to be moved by Happy New Year, whenever I hear it I start bawling, no matter what time of year it is!
What’s your personal highlight from Mamma Mia?
I like Under Attack, although I’m not in it! I think it’s a really good song, I love Sophie on the bed surrounded by the dads and Donna gets a really sexy costume in it. My favourite scene that I’m involved in is the bedroom scene where we sing Chiquitita and Dancing Queen, it’s just a really great scene from start to finish, the progression of it is really fun. The connection that the three of us have is great.
What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2?
I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure it’s marvellous?
It is, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So, moving on to your career, what led you on this particular career path?
I just really liked doing it, I’ve always liked creating something or performing something or telling a story. I came from quite an academic family so they forced me to go to college and do a proper degree first but all the way through I carried on acting and singing in my spare time. Eventually when I’d done all my qualifications I said “now can I go and do it?” and I was told yes!
Are there any roles that are on your bucket list for the future?
I just like working and actually the roles that I would play probably haven’t even been created yet, I love doing new things. Prior to doing it I would have said I’d like to play Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot but now I’ve done it! That’s the only role I’ve really hankered after. I always play character roles, I always play smaller roles so they tend to be quirkier and come up in things that are new and you don’t know exist yet.
Previously you worked as assistant director with the children who starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is that something you’d be keen to go back to in the future?
Yes I would, I really enjoyed it. I always think you’re better at teaching performance while you’re still performing yourself.
Finally what would you say to encourage everyone to come and see MAMMA MIA!?
Come and see us, it’s a really great evening out at the theatre.
Ricky Butt (Rosie)
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Ricky, so first of all, how familiar were you with MAMMA MIA! before you took the role of Rosie?
Very familiar, I’m friend with Jenny Galloway who was Rosie in the original cast and I remember meeting up with her and she told me how all the songs were going to fit in and I thought that sounds amazing. Funnily enough I did the sound effects for the very first MAMMA MIA! film as a Foley Artist. So this was a natural next step.
Congratulations on winning an Emmy for your work as a Foley Artist, by the way! What led you in that direction in the first place?
It was when I’d had children and a friend of mine was doing it, an opportunity came up to do it with her – and it fitted in with my family. What they liked was my dancing background as it helps if you have a natural ability to move. It’s become a secondary career as when I had my children I’d turned my back on the theatre really. Now I’m back working in the theatre and I’ve been doing the Foley along with it.
As the Dynamos in Mamma Mia, yourself, Sara and Kate are by far my favourites to date – what makes that chemistry work so well?
We just seem to click and complement each other very well. I share a dressing room with Kate who plays Tanya and we’ve got to know each other very well so we bring something new into the relationship of Rosie and Tanya every night. I take whatever she throws at me on stage and throw something back.
You also have great chemistry with Stephen Beckett as Bill…
Yes, we are on the same page, we wanted to make it feel as if the characters really like each other, I wanted it to come across that Rosie is testing the waters to begin with and not just after a man. Also, instead of wearing heels for the wedding as Rosie sometimes does, I wear flats so that we can make use of the height difference between us too.
What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2?
I loved it, I thought particularly when the older characters came on it seemed to give it a bit of a boost and then I thought the rest of the film really worked.
Which roles have you got an ambition to play in the future? Would you carry on in musical theatre if you could?
I’m at an age where there isn’t that much for women of my casing so I think I’ve won the lottery playing Rosie! These roles don’t really come up very often and this time I got the golden ticket! I’d been asked to audition for the role a couple of years ago and I turned it down, but I’m doing it at the right time now.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to see MAMMA MIA!?
I know of people, even other actors who have been to see the show and have come out feeling moved and haven’t been able to believe how good it is. It is a jukebox musical and I think people think it’s going to be a bit cheesy but it’s much better than you might think it’s going to be. You’ll have a great time.
I’d like to thank all three ladies for their time, it was great fun chatting to them all and I urge you all to buy a ticket to see MAMMA MIA!:Mamma Mia Tickets
Can I also draw your attention to the Entertainment Views Awards which are voted for by the public and part nominated by the public, part nominated by the panel. Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham, Ricky Butt and Stephen Beckett are all shortlisted as is the show itself – cast your vote by 1st November: Entertainment Views Awards 2018
On Sunday 30th September I attended the premiere of Stafford based composer, Kerry Milan. Kerry has previously collaborated with one of my favourite Opera singers, namely Yvonne Howard and I was keen to see his latest composition performed by my best loved performer.
This recital was a celebration of Staffordshire music and poetry and a chance to bring together three formidable singing talents all of whom spent their formative years in Stafford. Dame Professor Carol Ann Duffy grew up in Stafford as did Yvonne Howard, international opera singer and Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Kerry Milan is a Stafford based composer, violinist and teacher. Edward Robinson won the inaugural Staffordshire Young Singer of the year in 2013 and has been studying at the Royal Northern College of Music and Alice Dix won the same prize in 2015 and is at Leeds Conservatoire.
Kerry Milan studied violin at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama with Louis Carus (and Margaret Evans for piano), then in Brussels with Maurice Raskin, and later privately with David Martin. He is a Fellow of Trinity College London, and an Associate of London University Institute of Education.
The Staffordshire Young Singer of the year competition was founded in memory of John W R Taylor, former Staffordshire County Director of Music and is supported by FOSYM. Tickets for sale will be limited to 80. The event is supported by Kerry Milan, FOSYM, North-West Midlands Music Education Hub and Entrust Music Inspiring Futures Service Staffordshire.
The programme opened with the wondrous sound of Baritone, Edward Robinson and Soprano, Alice Dix. Between them they performed a variety of pieces from Henri Duparc, Schumann, Schubert, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Korngold, Debussy, George Butterworth and Mozart. The duet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni was the highlight of this particular section, the pair sang La Ci darem la mano beautifully and their interaction was superb.
After the interval we received the World Premiere of Rapture and it was astounding to hear Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry put to music as Yvonne Howard accompanied by pianist, Dr Roy Wightman, melodically led us through 20 of Duffy’s poems from her 2005 book of poems. Yvonne was extraordinary, giving heart, soul and character to the song cycle. The selected order of poems followed in a sensical way, each appearing to blend with the one before it. Carol Ann Duffy’s poems have often appeared lyrical to me and to hear them performed in such a manner was a real eye opener in the very best sense. Just a few of the poems in the cycle are: River, Row, Give, Grief, Night Marriage ad one of my personal favourites, The Love Poem. Kerry Milan has composed an exquisitely fitting tribute to the penmanship of one of Stafford’s most celebrated writers and in doing so he’s gained a new fan…. me! I believe that Rapture has been recorded and copies will be available, so watch this space.