Sarah & Duck, Tommy and Refrain

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday – tour starts 1 April

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday sees the BAFTA-winning CBeebies duo live on stage.

This story from the CBeebies animated series involves a circus-themed birthday garden party for Scarf Lady hitting bad weather told with puppetry storytelling and toe-tapping music.

Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday is written by Peter Glanville artistic director of Polka Theatre. It is directed by Roman Stefanski with set and puppet design by Laura McEwen.

The show visits The Castle Wellingborough, Polka Theatre London, Hippodrome Eastbourne, The Lighthouse Kettering, Theatre Royal Portsmouth, Taliesin Arts Centre Swansea, Royal Spa Centre Leamington Spa, Stantonbury Theatre, Drama Centre Redbridge, The Artrix Bromsgrove, Nottingham Playhouse, Luton Library Theatre, Rhodes Arts Complex Bishops Stortford, Hertford Theatre, MAC Birmingham, Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy, Howden Park Centre, Falkirk Town Hall, Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Dumfries, Majestic Theatre Darlington, Theatre Royal Winchester, Milton Keynes Theatre, McMillan Theatre Bridgwater, The Beacon Wantage, Ropetackle Arts Centre Shoreham-By-Sea, Broadway Theatre Letchworth, Pomegranate Chesterfield, New Theatre Royal Lincoln and Middlesbrough Theatre.

The Who’s Tommy – tour starts 4 April

Theatre company consortium Ramps on the Moon is presenting a tour of The Who’s Tommy, which starts previewing on 30 March and opens on 4 April.

Tommy is a rock opera that has music and lyrics by Pete Townshend with additional music and lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon and a book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff.

Originally a 1969 concept album from band The Who, Tommy has had a number of incarnations including the 1975 film which featured Tina Turner and Elton John as well as the band members. Tommy was first seen on stage in 1979.

Kerry Michael, the outgoing artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, directs a cast which includes deaf and disabled actors Lukus Alexander, Alim Jayda, Donna Mullings, Garry Robson, Max Runham, Amy Trigg and William Grint in the title role.

Peter Straker, who played the Narrator in the original West End production, here plays the Acid Queen and Garry Robson plays Uncle Ernie. Donna Mullings and Max Runham play Tommy’s parents with Amy Trigg as Sally Simpson, Lukus Alexander as Cousin Kevin and Alim Jayda as the Lover.

This production will have embedded audio description, captioning and British Sign Language in all performances.

Tommy is produced by the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, where the show opens. The venue leads the consortium whose aim is to stimulate awareness of disability issues within the arts and to put deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work. In addition to New Wolsey Theatre, consortium members are Birmingham Repertory Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Graeae Theatre Company.

The musical director is Robert Hyman and the assistant musical director is Oliver Vibrans.

Tommy tours to Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Crucible Sheffield.

Refrain – tour starts 7 April

Refrain is the story of sixteen conscientious objectors who, a hundred years ago, were detained in the 19th century cell block of Richmond Castle prior to being court-martialled in France and subsequently having a death sentence commuted to ten years hard labour.

The story of these sixteen men is told through a new immersive, choral experience devised by Verity Standen.

Refrain is performed by a professional ensemble and local male singers and is reconfigured for each venue: Richmond Castle North Yorkshire, St Helens Merseyside and Newhaven East Sussex.