Touring news

Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Dateline: 4th January, 2014

Happy Days musical, ETT, Friel Translations, Coward at 8:30, Believers, M6

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the show's first episode, a musical adaption of US sitcom Happy Days opens at The Churchill Bromley

Happy Days – A New Musical comes to the stage thanks in part to the 345 people who helped raise £250,000 on crowd funding site Seedrs, making it a first in theatre realisation. Behind the show, with Todd Ruppert of RTR International, is Amy Anzel from Channel 4’s The Sound Of Musicals.

Directed and choreographed by Olivier Award nominee Andrew Wright, the show has television's Emmerdale star Ben Freeman as The Fonz, an iconic role created by Henry Winkler who will be involved with the production as Creative Consultant.

Also in the cast are Eurovision Song Contest champions Bucks Fizz's Cheryl Baker as Mrs Cunningham and pop group Sugababes's Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero. Other members of the cast include Lucy–Jane Adcock, Charlie Allen, Henry Davis, Ray Gardner, Emma Harrold, Grace Holdstock, Katie Monks, Eddie Myles, James Paterson, Edwin Ray, Sam Robinson, Andrew Waldron, Scott Waugh and Jason Winter.

The book for Happy Days – A New Musical is written by Garry Marshall, creator of the television series and director of hit films such as Pretty Woman, Beaches and The Princess Diaries. Award–winning songwriter Paul Williams, whose credits include Bugsy Malone, Evergreen and Rainy Days and Mondays, has provided 21 original songs to sit alongside the catchy Happy Days theme tune. The musical arrangements and orchestrations are by John McDaniel.

Happy Days – A New Musical will open at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on 14 January and then tour.

Another anniversary will be commemorated on the road as English Touring Theatre celebrates its 21st birthday in 2014.

Later in the season, the programme will include some of the nation's favourite plays, as selected by a nationwide vote which saw Alan Bennett’s The History Boys take the number one spot as previously reported, but the year kicks off with Howard Brenton’s Eternal Love.

Previously titled In Extremis when it premièred at The Globe, Eternal Love is the inaugural production for the newly formed National Touring Group, a consortium of eight regional theatre companies and English Touring Theatre.

Jo Herbert and David Sturzaker, who played together in ETT's Anne Boleyn, take the roles of the lovers Heloise and Abelard. John Dove will direct.

A Sheffield Theatres and Rose Theatre Kingston co-production of Brian Friel’s Translations directed by James Grieve also opens in February in Sheffield before touring nationally and closing with a run at Kingston.

Noël Coward’s collection of nine one–act plays Tonight at 8.30 will tour from April. Co–produced with Nuffield Theatre, Nuffield associate, Blanche McIntyre directs this production, the first time the nine plays have been presented since the original in 1936.

Audiences who prefer new work over revivals may wish to catch the world première of The Believers by award–winning playwright Bryony Lavery which tours from February before playing London's Tricycle Theatre in April.

Presented by Frantic Assembly in a co–production with Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Curve theatre, Leicester, The Believers is directed and choreographed by Olivier Award nominated The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night–Time co–choreographer, Scott Graham.

Bryony Lavery has previously worked with Frantic Assembly on Stockholm and Beautiful Burnout which won a Fringe First at Edinburgh. Her other credits include Frozen which won the TMA Best Play Award, Kursk and an adaptation of Tales of the City / More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin for BBC Radio 4.

The Believers contains strong language and is recommended for those age 14 and over.

Suitable for all ages is Grandpa’s Railway by Mary Cooper with original music by Tayo Akinbode.

Touring from January, Belinda Lazenby and Thomas Frere play Grandma and Grandpa in this family show which features a real working model railway and live music.

Rochdale-based company M6 Theatre Company specialises in providing theatre for young audiences which tours nationally and internationally. Previous work includes One Little Word and Sunflowers and Sheds.

Grandpa’s Railway will be directed by Olwen May and is suitable for children aged 5 and over. It opens at London's Unicorn Theatre and then tours.

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