“Spectacular” circus show returns to New Vic

Published: 10 August 2023
Reporter: Steve Orme

Nicholas Richardson as Philip Astley
Danielle Bird as Patty Jones

Staffordshire’s New Vic is to bring back its “most spectacular show ever” to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Newcastle-under-Lyme’s receiving its charter to become a borough.

Astley’s Astounding Adventures is the story of Philip Astley. Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, he became the international impresario who invented circus.

The show is “filled with fast-paced action, laugh-out-loud humour, gripping drama and breathtaking circus”. Audiences “can expect the spectacle of the previous 2018 production with some extra surprises”.

Written by Staffordshire-born writer Frazer Flintham, the production is directed by New Vic artistic director Theresa Heskins and Vicki Dela Amedume MBE, artistic director of contemporary circus company Upswing.

The cast includes Martin Bassindale as clown, Sir Prickling and King, Danielle Bird as Patty Jones, Darcy Braimoh as John Astley, Gareth Cassidy as clown and Alfie Burrell, Adrian Decosta as Charles Hughes, Michael Hugo as Zipper, Siu-See Hung as clown, young Philip, Dibdin and the little military horse, and Nicholas Richardson as Philip Astley.

Joining them are Graeme Clint as aerialist and rigger along with circus performers Rafiq Ffinch-Shah, Joseph Hamilton, Tamzen Moulding and Lee Partridge. Live musicians will include trumpeter Cameron Lockett, musical director and violinist Farhaan Shah, percussionist Sophie Smith, cellist Eleanor Toms and trombonist Miri Wallich.

Heskins said, “I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of joy the announcement of this show has generated among audiences. People have such fond memories of it and keep stopping me in the theatre’s café, car park—even in Morrison’s—to tell me how glad they are to have it back and sharing their plans to bring friends and family to share the fun and thrill of this special spectacular.”

Amedume added, “we’re thrilled to be working with the New Vic to bring back this joyful work. Astley’s Astounding Adventures fuses circus and theatre to tell a wonderful story in an extraordinary way. I can’t wait to see the reaction from our audience members and truly celebrate the town’s legacy by artistically bringing circus home.”

Astley’s Astounding Adventures will be at the New Vic from Saturday 23 September until Saturday 21 October.

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