new victoria theatre

COMEDIAN Bobby Davro visited patients and staff at Woking & Sam Beare Hospice in Goldsworth Park ahead of his annual fundraising gala for the charity.

Davro was accompanied by impressionist Danny Posthill, who was a finalist in Britain’s Got Talent in 2015 in a visit to the Wellbeing Centre and then the ward.

Bobby pops in to visit Pauline and John Erridge and Bernard Eyre at the WSB Wellbeing Centre

The Gala Spectacular will be held on Sunday 27 October at the New Victoria Theatre. The comedian is a longstanding supporter of the hospice after his mother was cared for by the Sam Beare Hospice in Weybridge.

Kerry Bennett, the  Woking & Sam Beare Hospices marketing director, said: “It was a pleasure to have Bobby and Danny visit us at the hospice and we are all really looking forward to the Gala Spectacular.

Bobby Davro with flyers for his fundraising show later this month

“On behalf of all those they made smile we thank them both for taking the time out of their busy schedules”.

The hospices deliver 8,760 hours of care and support to 2,000 patients each year. More than 70% of this is done in patients’ homes for in care or nursing homes.

Patients are primarily from Woking, Surrey Heath, north Guildford, Spelthorne, West Elmbridge and Runnymede but the hospice also cares for some people outside this region.

The charity needs to raise more than £8 million a year to provide its services, which are free of charge.

To buy tickets of the Gala Spectacular show, visit wsbhopsuces.co.uk/bobbydavro or call the hospices’ fundraising team on 01483 742771

For more pictures get the 3 October edition of the News & Mail (Pictures by Terry Habgood)

A BALLET gala featuring some of the world’s top dancers and hosted by star choreographer Wayne Sleep is being organised to help a four-year-old disabled Woking boy to receive medical treatment that will allow him to swallow and eat normally.

Principal ballet dancers Laurretta Summerscales and her husband Yonah Acosta with their nephew Dexter

Dancing for a Dream is being put together by the boy’s aunt and uncle, international principal ballet dancers Laurretta Summerscales and her husband Yonah Acosta, who is the nephew of superstar Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta. The couple live in Kingfield, near their nephew Dexter Summerscales-Heard, and his family.

Laurretta and Yonah pose in full costume with Dexter

Performers will include principals and soloists from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich. Carlos Acosta has sponsored some of the dancers’ travel costs but will be with his dance company in Cuba when the gala takes place. However, it will be attended by his wife Charlotte and eldest daughter Isla.

It will be held at the New Victoria Theatre on 10 November and the money raised will go to helping Dexter, who was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, to be able to eat normally after a series of health problems left him being fed through a tube.

Dexter suffers with epilepsy, is unable to speak and is also fully reliant on his wheelchair and family to assist his daily activities.

Laurretta said: “Regardless of all of this, Dexter is intelligent and possesses the mental capabilities of any ‘normal’ boy of his age.

“He has an abundance of energy and great sense of humour and is renowned as the class clown, as he always sees the funny-side of situations.”

To buy tickets for Dancing for a Dream, visit www.atgtickets.com/woking or call 08448717645.

For the full story get the 26 September edition of the News & Mail

PLAYING a stand-up comic who is out of tune with his audience should be a doddle for Shane Richie – the former EastEnders star says so himself.

He’s about to take on the stage role of the washed-up Archie Rice in a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking.

WASHED-UP STAND-UP: Shane Richie plays Archie Rice in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The action has been moved from the 1950s to the 1980s, but the themes of a failing star performing to audiences looking for a different style of comedy hasn’t changed – and Shane says he knows exactly how Archie feels.

“Unlike a lot of the actors that have played this part before me, like Sir Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh – there is no denying that they are wonderful actors – but they have never done stand-up,” he explains.

“They’ve never stood on a stage, in a club or at Butlins when kids are doing knee-slides in front of you, there’s someone playing on the fruit machines or waiting for bingo to get started. I have.

“I’ve been that comedian and I’ve stood there doing my thing for all these people who have come to see Little and Large or Jimmy Cricket, and I’ve died because this audience had been fed a staple diet of your Jim Davidsons, your Bernard Mannings, your Jim Bowens.

“That’s all they knew, so I would have to go and perform material which was totally not right for them, and died. So I know. I know what it’s like, I know who Archie Rice is, I know how it feels inside and I know what it’s like to be dead on stage.”

“I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me in Colchester,” he laughs. “I remember in Wales, coming off stage, I was 19 or 20, and back then you had to do three half-hour spots. I remember doing this particular club, going on and doing the material that I was doing then and just dying a death. No one was interested, they were just talking.

“I remember getting changed in the dressing room in between spots and there was a duo there too, and the average age of the duo was dead. And one of them said, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t think you’re very funny’. He said, ‘Do you know any Tom Jones? Why don’t you go and sing because you’re not very funny.’

“So I remember going on and singing Rock Around the Clock and a load of old Elvis songs, just so I could get paid.

“This is back in the day when you’d arrive in the middle of nowhere, find a phone box, ring the agent and they would tell you there and then if you were working or not, then you’d have to find some digs for the night. So I know who Archie Rice is, and that’s him.”

In The Entertainer the story is set against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, and  the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his act as old–fashioned, even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

Shane, who played Robin Hood in panto at Woking two years ago and is also a Surrey resident, landed the Archie role thanks to director Sean O’Connor, who worked with him as a story editor on EastEnders.

“I was in my mid-forties then. Sean was still in his early fifties and he said to me, ‘Are you familiar with John Osborne’s The Entertainer?’ And, of course, I was. That amazing performance by Sir Laurence Olivier, a great movie, and he said, ‘Because one day you will make a great Archie Rice’.

“So, we jump 12 years ahead and last year we’re chatting, and he said, ‘How do you fancy having a go at this?’ I said, ‘I’d love to…’”

Shane Richie will star in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (23 September) until Saturday 28 September.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

THE world’s most famous rags-to-riches fairytale, Cinderella, will come to Woking next week, thanks to Northern Ballet.

A tragic end to a perfect summer’s day leaves Cinderella with no choice but to accept a desolate life of servitude. At the mercy of her wicked stepmother, Cinderella seeks joy where she can, but after encountering the handsome, carefree prince skating on a glistening lake of ice, she yearns for another life.


CHILLING OUT – Northern Ballet’s version of Cinderella makes the most of its icy setting in Imperial Russia

Despite her sadness, Cinderella never forgets to be kind and her generosity is repaid when a chance encounter with a mysterious magician changes her destiny forever…

Choreographed by David Nixon, this version of Cinderella will combine dance with magic and circus skills. He says: “We have staged our ballet in the winter wonderland of Imperial Russia, opening up the possibilities of this colourful world as a new setting for Cinderella to make her journey.

“Audiences will see the dancers skate on a glistening lake of ice, stilt walkers entertaining in a marketplace and the fateful ball held in a Fabergé-inspired ballroom.”

Northern Ballet’s Cinderella will be at the New Victoria Theatre from Wednesday 18 September until Saturday 21 September.

AS A small child Ben Bowman dreamed of stage stardom – but he quit drama college at 17 to concentrate on performing as his long-time hero, the King of Pop.

“At college, they told me I could earn £77 a night in the West End,” he reveals. “So, I quit the course and said ‘I can earn more than that as a Michael Jackson impersonator’.”

Ben Bowman performs as his hero, Michael Jackson

Ben wasn’t wrong. He started by booking his own venues but was soon touring the world and performing as his idol at venues such as the London Palladium.

“When I started, I thought it was just something fun that I could do on the side of working,” says the 33-year-old from Kent. “I never imagined I would be a full-time Michael Jackson impersonator – it’s not like it’s something that comes up at the job centre!”

But Ben seems born to do the job. “Me and my brother grew up with my mother’s vinyl collection and Michael Jackson was part of that,” he said. “We especially caught on to him, and even started dressing up as him for fancy dress parties. I became one of those kids who learned all the dances from the videos.

He has now been performing for 14 years and the show, Michael Starring Ben, is a celebration of Michael Jackson’s work. He says he’s proud to keep the musical legacy alive 10 years on from Jackson’s death in June 2009, shortly before he was due to open a 50-night residency with his This Is It show at London’s O2 Arena.

“I love Michael Jackson’s music as much now as when I was five. I listen to his music every week still, away from performing. I can’t imagine my life any other way.”

Michael Starring Ben will be at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on Thursday, 12 September.

For the full story get the 5 September edition of the News & Mail

A “HAPPENING”, in the middle of Woking brought the 60s back to life on Tuesday 20 August as shoppers were treated to a glimpse of the stars from Motown The Musical, hours before it was due to open at the New Victoria Theatre.

The singers playing The Supremes in Motown the Musical appear in Woking Town centre alongside a 1960s Ford Mustang

The three singers who take on the roles of The Supremes appeared in Jubilee Square in full costume alongside a genuine 1960s Ford Mustang, provided by the Surrey Classic Vehicle Club, as the Woking theatre prepares to host the show until Saturday 24 August, fresh from its recent West End run.

Motown The Musical tells the story behind Motown Records, this year celebrating its 60th Anniversary, and how the label became legendary in music history.

Bookings can be made at the Box Office on 0844 871 7645 (Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge), or for groups bookings on 0333 009 5386 or online at www.atgtickets/woking (fees apply).

For the full story get the 22 August edition of the News & Mail

AMELIE captured the hearts of film fans everywhere. The shy romantic with a gift for helping others – played in the 2001 French romantic comedy movie by Audrey Tautou – is an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her mind.

Now the story has been brought to the stage as a musical which is coming to Woking at the end of this month.

French Canadian actress Audrey Brisson is in the famous role, and she doesn’t sound too daunted.

Audrey Brisson says Amelie is a fascinating character to play

“It is such a fabulous story, and I love the film it’s based on,” she enthuses. “Amélie is a fascinating character. Her imagination. Her reluctance to give up. She grows up thinking she can’t connect with anyone and that she’ll always be alone, yet she’s got this positivity within her.

“I love her positivity, her perseverance and her way of seeing a situation that’s potentially very dark and then bringing some colours into it. I think that’s something I need to hold on to.”

Amélie secretly improvises small, but extraordinary acts of kindness that bring happiness to those around her. But when a chance at love comes her way, She realises that to find her own contentment she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart.

Audrey explains: “Amélie is a story of a young girl who struggles to connect to people around her so she just creates a world of imagination. She likes to have a step away from the rest of the world and to view it. She likes to meddle in other people’s lives to try and force them to connect with other people.”

But she adds: “It’s not a fairy tale… She’s not portrayed or made to look perfect and beautiful. She is a complex human being as we all are. She reminds us all of ourselves a little bit, in a way.”

Turning Amélie into a musical was not an obvious move, but Audrey says it works completely.

“It’s the connection,” she says. “You can sit on your sofa and watch the film, and you’ll still be able to enjoy the beauty and be moved by it, but when you come to the show you have real people singing for you, looking at you, talking to the audience.

“We invite you into the story. I think it’s great to remind people that we are, as humans, all in this together. No matter how lonely you might feel, you’ve got someone next to you listening to that same story.

“When you’re in an auditorium of people who will all experience the story differently because they have their own journeys, you’ve got a room filled with different interpretations of what it is to be human. I think that’s quite potent and wonderful.

“Barnaby Race, the music arranger, worked on the music heavily to try and bring it back to a European-ness and closer to the quirkiness of the film. Changing the tempo, the key signature of the music, and the fact we have actual musicians on the stage – it brought that French-ness.”

The UK production also now contains some scenes that weren’t in the Broadway production and Audrey says: “Michael Fentiman, the director, has done a wonderful job of bringing the magical aspect of the film to the stage. There’s this wonderful moment in the movie where Amélie melts and turns into a puddle of water. We can’t do that on stage, but it feels as though we’ve got that same enchanting feeling.”

The film is set in the 1990s and the stage musical version has stuck with that era and Audrey explains: “Our version is set at the same time as the film, before mobile phones and everything, but it’s still so relevant to today with the fact people don’t connect even though they have so many opportunities to talk to one another with phones or texts, message, or emails – it’s so accessible yet so hard to reach.

“I like that… I like the complexities of her as a character. We all have that need and desire to connect with one another, in cities where we are so jammed up together and yet we can feel quite lonely, because God forbid you would ever smile at the person that you were next to on the train.

“I hope that this story is a nice reminder that you should look up and smile at the person on the train next you, they won’t bite you, and actually they’re probably in a similar situation to you, just wanting to be seen and wanting to be acknowledged.”

Audrey Brisson will be joined by Strictly Come Dancing favourite and television actor Danny Mac when Amélie The Musical comes to the New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 27 to Saturday 31 August.

IT’S BEEN almost 60 years since the iconic record label Motown was founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy – launching the careers of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 along with many others.

Now the story of the record label’s success is told in West End show Motown The Musical, which arrives in Woking this month on tour.

The show was created after getting first-hand advice from Michael Lovesmith, who worked alongside Mr Gordy at Motown for years, coached the Jackson 5, produced the likes of The Temptations and The Supremes, and performed himself. As creative consultant, he worked alongside director Charles Randolph-Wright.


The Supremes tribute, with Karis Anderson as Diana Ross, in Motown The Musical

“I was basically born and raised in music,” says Michael. “I was on the road as a child, singing in churches as a trio with my brothers. Then at the age of 11 I was introduced to Holland-Dozier-Holland, who signed me to a song-writing contract, and I wrote my first song for them, to be performed by Dionne Warwick.”

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was a good thing I had a good song! I met Mr Gordy at age 17, and by that time I had produced about 12 artists. 

“Motown wanted me to work with the Jackson 5. I was their age, so I could relate to them in a way that not everybody could. They were so used to working with older people who didn’t quite understand their energy! 

“I ended up becoming Berry Gordy’s protégé, and started producing and vocal coaching Michael and his brothers. Then soon after that I started recording with The Supremes and The Temptations. That’s pretty much how I got started.”

Motown The Musical tells the story of Mr Gordy’s life and the development of Motown Records in Detroit, which soon became known as Hitsville USA.

Michael explains: “The funny thing about Motown is, I think Motown could have been anywhere, and in a sense it was.”

“Every city had a girl group, a guy group, a kids’ group and a lead singer but the unique thing that Detroit had was Berry Gordy. He was this beacon of light, showing you what you can do and what you could be. There were musicians and singers all over the country, but Detroit had Berry Gordy, so it became a magnet for them.”

With such an iconic sound that audiences have loved for almost six decades, how do you begin the process of faithfully recreating that on stage? Michael says: “We searched high and low for someone who understands the need for the show to sound like Motown.

“One person came to meet us and gave us his idea of how he would find a Stevie Wonder, a Michael Jackson, a Smokey Robinson, which we didn’t think was possible, and that person was Charles Randolph-Wright.

“Charles walked into the room and knew what Motown is, who Motown is and what Motown looks and feels like. He grew up on this music.”

Charles adds: “Motown is all we ever really listened to growing up.” But he did find directing the show tough. “Oh yes, I felt pressure,” he explains. “It was so important to me because Mr Gordy is one of my idols, so I wanted to create the show that he wanted to see.

“I approached it the way that Berry Gordy approached it – I needed to find artists that would evoke a certain thing. What I never wanted to do was find people who would just impersonate those performers, I wanted them to make me feel the way Diana Ross made me feel, an actress that would actually make me put my hands up and sing Reach Out and Touch.

“It’s finding that energy, sometimes it’s such raw performers and sometimes it’s people who have been in 10 shows. It’s an instinctive thing – they’re Motown. Working closely with Mr Gordy and Michael I’ve been able to ask, what is that thing that Stevie Wonder has, what is that specific thing that Smokey has? We find that in someone that is authentic in them, rather than make them pretend to be that.”

Motown The Musical will be at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 20 August until Saturday 24 August.

Dancer Richard Winsor spent 10 years with Matthew Bourne’s production company performing in shows like Edward Scissorhands, Dorian Grey, and the second generation of Swan Lake – but now he’s returning to his first love, Saturday Night Fever.

Richard Winsor, as Tony Manero, dances with Kate Parr, playing Stephanie in the stage version of Saturday Night Fever

“John Travolta’s performance in the film Saturday Night Fever was what got me dancing as a kid,” says the star of the new stage show of the classic nightclub tale. “The disco scenes, his solo, his very masculine energy, it inspired me. 

“I remembered all the incredible moments from the film and all its themes, and thought ‘If we get that clear and honest for a new stage version, it could be really amazing’.

“And we are taking it back to that dark atmospheric setting. We’re not shying away from that. It is still going to be a stage dance show, but we really are finding the realism in it.”

The film and its iconic Bee Gees soundtrack tell the story of Tony Manero – loser by day but disco dancing star at night.

“He’s a young, enigmatic guy who hasn’t had much opportunity in his life,” explains Richard. “He’s from a hard-working, down on their luck, Brooklyn family, and works in a paint store for minimal wages. But when he goes to the 2001: Odyssey nightclub, he is the king on the dance floor. 

“He’s a different person there. He loves the attention, the sweat, the heat, the women. When the club announces a dance competition with a prize of $1,000 and the chance to dance in the discos of Manhattan, it’s a big deal for him. It offers him that chance to escape.”

The movie has endured since its 1977 release and Richard, also known to TV audiences as Caleb Knight in the BBC hospital drama Casualty, says the themes are still relevant.

“That’s the thing,” he says. “With Trump threatening to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out and people with split families striving for a better life, it’s interesting to look at it and think ‘How far have we come?’  40 years on, and similar families are talking about not being employed and trying to break free. It’s all still there.”

The music has also survived the test of time with songs like Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, Jive Talkin’ and the rest still proving popular.

“We wanted to keep the music close to the brilliant original soundtrack,” says Richard of the new stage production. “The music supporting the drama and the tragedies as they unfold. We have an electric band guiding us along and the Bee Gees singing the hits, which all adds to the story. Hearing the music played live is amazing.”

As for following in Travolta’s dance steps, he says: “It’s a challenge. I want to draw from him, not imitate him. I’ve got so much to play off – the ways of standing, walking and dancing. But I have to play my own reality, otherwise it becomes contrived imitation.”

Richard Winsor will star as Tony in Saturday Night Fever at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday (6 Aug) until Saturday 10 August.

STRICTLY Come Dancing star Brendan Cole has been announced as one of the stars of this year’s Woking panto.

Strictly star Brendan Cole

The professional dancer will play the Genie of the ring in Aladdin at the New Victoria Theatre, joined by TV star Bobby Davro, who will take on the role of Wishee Washee.

Aladdin will run from Friday 6 December until Sunday 5 January – tickets already available on the ATG Tickets website.

For more details, see the 25 July edition of the News & Mail