KATIE Bradley, Upstagers, Saiichi Sugiyama and the Will Purdue Band are among a host of acts lined up to play an inaugural blues festival at Woking’s new live music venue, the Fiery Bird.

The eight-hour event on Saturday 29 September will see a series of solo acts and bands spread across two stages in in a show that will bring established artists to the town and offer a chance for up and coming locals to shine.

Katie Bradley

Also on the bill will be David Skinner, Blues Café, Hot Wires, J Lee & The Hoodoo Skulls, Fillerup, Bluestone Bills, Nika & Parrot Jam, and a Mega Jam where musicians are welcome to join in.

The festival, which will run from 3pm until 11pm, is being co-organised with Surrey Blues Society and tickets – just £10! – are available on the Fiery Bird website.

If you can’t wait that long for a bit of live music, the Phoenix open mic event is back at the venue in Church Street East on Monday next week (24 September) from 7.30pm.

IT’S A staggering 53 years since the most successful folk/rock duo of all time recorded their first No 1 hit single The Sound of Silence.

But while the real Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel no longer tour, the tribute show The Simon and Garfunkel Story has performed in more than 50 countries across the world, from Sydney to Seattle.

Following a run at the Lyric Theatre in London’s Shaftsbury Avenue, the show with its cast of West End actor-musicians is heading to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre on Friday 28 September.

It will take the audience from the pair’s humble beginnings as rock ‘n’ roll duo Tom and Jerry, through their massive success and dramatic break-up before finishing with a recreation of the 1981 Central Park re-formation concert.

Using a huge projection screen, the show features 1960s photos and film footage while a full live band perform all their hits including Mrs Robinson, Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Homeward Bound, Sound of Silence and more.

INTERNATIONAL smash hit Spirit of the Dance is one of the most successful dance shows ever and it’s now coming to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre this Saturday (22 Sep).

Seen by more than thirty million people in twenty countries around the world Spirit of the Dance is winner of nine Global Awards, including “Best Choreography” and “Best International Production”.

Irish in origin and bursting with raw energy, this explosive show combines heart-pounding Irish Dance with the sensual Latino rhythms of Flamenco and Red Hot Salsa in a thrilling production of strength and passion.

The world champion dancers of the Irish International Dance Company are getting ready to take to the New Victoria Theatre stage with this award-winning spectacle at 7.30pm on Saturday.

Tickets from £13 – Box Office on 0844 871 7645 or online at www.atgtickets/woking

BRIAN Blessed – he who is half actor, half explorer – will be bringing his booming presence to Surrey this month to talk about his life experiences – and there have been a lot, writes Barry Rutter.

In An Evening With Brian Blessed, his career on stage and screen will lead to anecdotes from Flash Gordon, Black Adder, I Claudius and Z Cars and his many appearances in Shakespearean productions.

Enjoy An Evening With Brian Blessed

He will also share his experiences as an avid climber who has conquered both Everest and Kilimanjaro.

“It’s a one man show with me being me, 50% actor, 50% explorer,” explains the 81-year-old who was born in Yorkshire and now lives in Windlesham. “I’ll be discussing drama, acting and performance. Art is everything.

“I like telling people that I went to drama school with [Star Trek star] Patrick Stewart, we both got grants. I was the son of a coal miner and this opportunity kick-started my career. Britain is fantastic, we’re shaking with art.”

As for the other side of his career, Blessed booms proudly: “I am the oldest man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, I’ve completed space training in Moscow and at NASA and I’ve worked on Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox – I’ve worked with many scientists.”

His favourite place “has to be” the summit of Mount Everest, adding: “I was stood in the stratosphere and the sky was dark blue cobalt.”

Meanwhile, his work with animal charities like the World Wildlife Fund and Born Free Foundation has seen him being filmed saving animals and he’s had a multitude of rescued pets including dogs, cats and ponies.

“My favourite animal though is a gorilla called Gugus,” explains Blessed. “He was six foot four inches and I met him at Aspinall in Canterbury in the ‘70s – we had a special connection.”

Although he wants to retain plenty of detail for his live show, he admits the highlight of his acting career was performing in the 2006 film of As You Like It set in Japan.

“I played the good Duke and the bad Duke… in some scenes I played against myself,” he laughs. “For the bad Duke I got to wear a black cape like Darth Vader. The director was Kenneth Branagh and we’ve worked on five films together.”

And he has no regrets – not even missing out on being Dr Who.

No, I was offered the part of Dr Who back in 1965,” he reveals. “I was 25 and I said I was too young. I am delighted a woman’s playing the Doctor next. The strength of mankind is its women. Ninety per cent of men bore me, I’m a fan of women.”

An Evening With Brian Blessed will be at G Live in Guildford on Wednesday 26 September.

If you need any more persuasion, the man himself promises: “It’ll be an original evening, joyful and comical. I want to change every cell in the body, I want the audience to go away utterly changed and I want to encourage young people to go on adventures. Adventure is the key for the millennials.”

AFTER starring in the Nashville in Concert Farewell tour, Clare Bowen is coming to Guildford’s G Live on Monday 10 September.


Clare Bowen will be singing at G Live in Guildford

Years before landing the role of Scarlett O’Connor on the TV series Nashville and launching her career as a singer-songwriter, Clare Bowen grew up in rural Australia, miles from the nearest city, writing down everything she felt, heard, saw and dreamed.

Bowen heard her first broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry on the wireless in her grandad’s kitchen. He was not to know she’d eventually duet with such heavyweights like Zac Brown and Vince Gill, recording songs with Grammy-winning producers like T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller, or tour the world with Nashville.

COMEDY legends Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer have taken 25 years to come up with their latest project – Vulcan 7 – and they’re premiering it in Guildford.

The duo who shot to fame as punk Vyvyan and hippy Neil in The Young Ones went on to help create The Comic Strip Presents and many other comedy staples, but Ade says they couldn’t have imagined how it would all pan out back in the 1980s.

Nigel Planer and Adrian Edmondson are launching their comedy play at Guildford

“That was never a consideration, we were only ever trying to have fun,” he insists. “The people we were trying to amuse first were ourselves and everything that came off the back of that was just very good fortune really.”

The pair, along with Rik Mayall and Christopher Ryan, changed the course of TV sitcoms in 1982 with the anarchic Young Ones based in a student house, and have remained close ever since.

“I reckon Nigel and I last worked together on the Comic Strip about six years ago, when we did a Famous Five spoof, Five Go to Rehab,” recalls Ade. “But we’ve known each other for years. We sort of grew up together. “We met just as we were coming out of university so we were both still living the student lifestyle along with the rest of the Comic Strip, so it’s sort of been our family.”

Vulcan 7 introduces us to Gary Savage and Hugh Delavois, who were students at RADA together. Now in their 60s, they meet in an Icelandic wasteland, on the set of a fantasy movie.

“We’ve been looking for a play for about 25 years!” says Ade. “That’s no exaggeration – we’ve been sending each other scripts and we just never found anything that was right. So, about two years ago, we decided we could write something better ourselves. And we wrote Vulcan 7. It’s come together very happily.

“While we were writing this, we spent a lot of time discussing places and situations we have known as actors. I’ve done things like Star Wars recently, and I got an eye on how long people hang around. You have to be ready to deliver your bit, ‘probably within the next hour or seven hours, we’re not quite sure yet’.”

Hugh (Nigel) has had a plodding career but has landed the role of Vulcan’s butler – a small but regular role – and he’s making his seventh film for the franchise. Gary (Adrian) is a one-time Hollywood A-lister who has fallen on lean times, and is playing a guest monster with one word in the script.

“We chose to focus on the actor’s life because we know a lot about it,” explains Ade. “Vulcan 7 is a comedy about how people measure themselves up against each other, particularly when they’ve known each other for a very long time.

“It’s also about people being obsessed with what they do which is a metaphor for any kind of job really – it’s just we know more about the acting job.”

It also helped working with long-time collaborator Nigel.

Having written loads of material, including TV series Bottom with the late Mayall, he says: “I’ve had a lot of writing partnerships and I enjoy it as a form: you have someone to bounce off.

“I write on my own as well and it can be very easy to get stuck and distracted.  If no one’s giving you anything to work with, it’s very easy to focus on polishing the piano.

“But for a partnership to work and you to inspire each other, you have to find the right person. Writers Galton and Simpson said that within any partnership, you have one sitter and one pacer. I’ve always been the sitter,”

Vulcan 7 will debut at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Wednesday 19 September until Saturday 29 September.

A LONG time ago in a galaxy far, far away, John Williams lifted his baton and cued one of the greatest scores in movie history.

Michael Seal

Michael Seal and the CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) perform Williams’s music from all eight Star Wars films at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre on Friday 7 September.

Relive the story from The Phantom Menace to The Last Jedi – in full orchestral sound.

ANYONE who has enjoyed the classic War Horse at the New Victoria Theatre will be pleased to hear that another stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s work will feature in the Woking venue’s autumn programme.

The upcoming season hosts a feast of drama, dance, musicals and laugh-out-loud comedy entertainment, and among the early shows will be Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful (8-9 October). The play traces the life of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young First World War soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn.

On a lighter note, Fame The Musical and Jersey Boys are the musical highlights of the season. Keith Jack, Mica Paris and Jorgie Porter all star in Fame the Musical, based on the 1980 hit film, coming to Woking (1-6 October). Jersey Boys, winner of 57 major awards worldwide, is back with those sweet, era-defining songs by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons including Sherry, Walk Like A Man and Beggin’ (16-27 October).

For all the details, see the 16 August edition

SPECIALLY created for hen nights, birthday parties and girls’ nights out with friends, The Dreamboys are heading back to Surrey on Friday 24 August.

With special guest appearances on TV shows such as The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Big Brother, Loose Women, This Morning, Geordie Shore and The Only Way Is Essex, the boys now have celebrity status, and they’ll be putting it to use in a two-hour show at Guildford’s G Live on Friday 24 August.

CBEEBIES favourites Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando are heading for G Live in Guildford on Saturday 31 August and Friday 1 September in their first ever stage show, Bing Live!

Young fans can watch as they learn how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don’t always go according to plan.

The crew from the top-rated show for pre-schoolers are brought to life by magical puppetry and the event is directed by Will Tuckett, guest principal character artist of the Royal Ballet, whose production of Wind in the Willows won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.