Friday, 28 February 2014

Peter Pan On Ice (dance)

The world-renowned Russian Ice Stars are bringing a new adaptation of the timeless fantasy adventure created by
J.M. Barrie to Eastbourne's Congress Theatre from the 12th to the 15th of March. The show promises to be something very special!

Wendy, Michael and John are visited in the nursery by Peter Pan himself, who teaches them to fly with the help of Tinker Bell, and takes them on a magical journey to Never Land. Packed with all the favorite characters including Tiger Lilly, Mr Smee and the vengeful Captain Hook whose appetite for revenge is perfectly recreated in this spectacular adaptation on ice. So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!

Congress Theatre, Wed 12th to Sat 15th Mar, 19:30.
Thu and Sat matinees, 14:30, Sun 16th matinee, 15:00.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Wadjda (film)

The last Eastbourne Film Society choice for their 2013-2014 season is to be the Saudi Arabian film,Wadjda. An important film because it is the first from Saudi Arabia to be directed by a woman, there is an interesting Guardian blog here about the issues surrounding it. Director Haifaa al-Mansour spent five years on the project and insisted on every scene actually being shot on location in Saudia Arabia, despite the country having practically no film industry. Outside assistance was sought from German production company Razor Film who were also involved with one of my all-time favourite films, Waltz with Bashir. Wadjda premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival.

Wadjda is a young Saudi Arabian girl whose only dream is to buy a green bicycle and race against her friend Abdullah. However, not only is Wadjda not supposed to mix with boys, social pressures also forbid her the bicycle. When her mother refuses to buy the bicycle, Wadjda sets about earning enough money herself. She runs errands for her teachers and sells mixed tapes of songs. However, the school's headmistress finds out and Wadjda is put back to square one. Finally a solution seems to appear in the form of a Qu'ran recital competition with a cash prize.

We saw Wadjda when it was screened at Hailsham Pavilion last year and it is a very good film. I was a little concerned that the circumstances of its creation were resulting in an 'emperor's new clothes situation, but this is not the case at all. Wadjda depicts a society which is very different to our own but does so in a way that makes it easy for us to access this closed world for a short time. The film does not make strong declarations about the culture it portrays, but simply shows us a period in the lives of Wadjda and her mother. It is a moving piece of film-making which did provoke anger in me at the treatment of Saudi Arabian women but also inspires hope that future generations will not have to endure the same.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 12th Mar, times tbc.
Tickets £6.80 adults, £4.80 concessions, available by calling 01323 731441 or in person at the Box Office (3pm to 7pm daily)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Written On The Wind (film)

The Sunday matinee movie at the Under Ground Theatre for March will be the 1956 classic Written On The
Wind. Based on the Robert Wilder novel of the same name, its screenplay was written by George Zuckerman and the film was directed by Douglas Sirk. Many critics believe this to be one of his finest melodramas.

A wealthy oil family living in Texas is shaken by scandal. Alcoholic playboy Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) marries Lucy (Lauren Bacall). However, Lucy is secretly loved by Kyle’s poor but hard-working best friend Mitch (Rock Hudson) who, in turn, is pursued by Kyle’s sister Marylee (Dorothy Malone). When Lucy announces she is pregnant, Kyle attacks her, assuming the child is the result of adultery with Mitch. Lucy suffers a miscarriage and the drunken Kyle sets out to kill Mitch.

Under Ground Theatre, Sun 9th Mar, 14.30.
Tickets £6.50 which includes tea/coffee and cakes after the screening. Available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person from Eastbourne Tourist Information Office and the Under Ground Theatre.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sleeping Beauty (ballet)

I saw a wonderfully inventive Sleeping Beauty ballet at the New Wimbledon Theatre last year choreographed by Matthew Bourne. The classic version however is the next Royal Ballet broadcast to Cineworld and will be screened on the 19th of March. The broadcast will last 190 minutes and includes an interval.

Sleeping Beauty was the ballet with which the Company triumphantly reopened the Royal Opera House in 1946 after World War II, with Margot Fonteyn dancing the role of Aurora. That landmark production was revived in 2006 and this 2014 ballet now incorporates new choreography by Anthony Dowell, Christopher Wheeldon and Frederick Ashton. Oliver Messel's gorgeous original set designs are re-imagined by Peter Farmer.

The baby Princess Aurora is cursed to sleep for a hundred years by a wicked fairy, angered at having not been invited to her christening. Her fate will be delivered by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and, despite her parents best efforts, a wheel is within the Palace walls on Aurora's sixteenth birthday. When disaster strikes, the whole Palace falls asleep and is left, totally undisturbed, until a handsome Prince arrives, exactly one hundred years later, to break the spell.

Cineworld, Wed 19th Mar, 19:15.
Tickets £17.90 adults, £14.20 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kindertransport (theatre)

In Germany, in 1938, as the clouds of war thicken, a desperate mother forces her nine year old daughter Eva onto a train, sending her out of danger and into the arms of strangers. In England, decades later, a reluctant mother prepares for the departure of her grown¬up daughter, Faith as she cuts the ties of childhood. A chance discovery opens an unhealed wound and a long¬buried secret is revealed. The bittersweet experience of every parent as they try to teach their child to survive alone, unites these women across the decades to give a moving insight into the complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

Written by Diane Samuels, Kindertransport was first performed in London in 1993. The current tour, directed by Andrew Hall, stars Paula Wilcox, Janet Dibley, Emma Deegan and Gabrielle Dempsey. I believe Eastbourne' Devonshire Park Theatre is one of only seven venues. There is a great review of one of the Richmond performances in the Telegraph.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 25th Feb to Sat 1st Mar, 19:45.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Werther (opera)

Massenet's Werther is the Met Opera live on screen broadcast for March and this is an opera that I had not even heard of prior to researching this post. That's one thing I'm loving about blogging - it doesn't matter how much I think I've learned, each new discovery opens many more new doors!

Werther was composed in the late 1880s and its first performance was in Geneva in 1893. A Paris opera company had previously turned the tale of doomed love down for being too serious. Jonas Kaufmann will star in the title role of Werther opposite Sophie Koch as Charlotte. The new production is directed and designed by Richard Eyre and Rob Howell, the same team that created the Met's recent hit staging of Carmen, and rising young maestro Alain Altinoglu conducts. 

While her fiance, Albert, is away. Charlotte allows Werther to accompany her to a ball. When they arrive home late in the evening, Albert has returned, much to Werther's dismay as he has now fallen in love with Charlotte too. Albert and Charlotte marry leaving Werther so upset that he considers suicide. Later, Werther discovers that Charlotte did love him as well but married Albert to fulfill a promise to her dying mother. The couple meet briefly. Charlotte sends Werther away and he borrows a pistol from Albert. Charlotte rushes to save him from himself but she is too late.

Cineworld, Sat 15th Mar, 16:55.
Tickets £17.90, £14.20 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.

Friday, 14 February 2014

HMS Pinafore (musical)

I've chosen something less slushily romantic for this Valentine's Day post although, obviously, I send my love to you all! And, before we get to the Gilbert and Sullivan, can I just remind those that think their partners might have organised something special to celebrate today, you probably should at least buy a card. Just in case!

Inspired by a scrapbook of POWs performing Gilbert and Sullivan shows during World War II, the award-winning Sasha Regan All-Male team take the music below decks, where the troops set out a distraction from the goings on above board with a production of one of the duo's most popular tales, HMS Pinafore.

Aboard the good ship HMS Pinafore, the Captain's daughter Josephine is in love with a sailor named Ralph Rackstraw. Josephine's father would prefer the family to indulge in a little social climbing by her marriage and pushes his daughter towards Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Josephine initially obeys her father but as Sir Joseph talks about his rise from humble roots and the equality of all British sailors despite their rank, Josephine and Ralph are encouraged to make their love public and decide to elope together.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 3rd to Sat 8th Mar, 19:45.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Dracula (theatre)

The fabulous Blackeyed Theatre are presenting their version of the classic horror tale Dracula at Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre in just over a week's time. I saw their production of Caucasian Chalk Circle a few years ago and it is still one of the best theatre shows I've attended.

Adapted by John Ginman, this brilliant, theatrical treatment of Bram Stoker’s adventure blends Victorian Gothic with the Contemporary. With specially commissioned live music, powerful ensemble performances and innovative design, Blackeyed Theatre’s Dracula promises an exciting and thought provoking theatrical experience. The play is recommended for audiences aged 13 and over.

The time is 1897. Mankind is on the cusp of vast technological change, scientific mastery and media innovation. Poised between traditional beliefs, the threat of the unknown and the shock of the new world, an altogether darker fear is emerging. Stretching from the mountainous wastes of Transylvania, Dracula’s shadow looms large over England. A small group of young men and women, lead by Professor Van Helsing, are locked in a struggle for survival where only the fittest will survive.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 18th to Sat 22nd Feb, 19:45. Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Honor Blackman as Herself (talk)

A wonderful chance to discover the woman behind many memorable onscreen personae will be possible at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre at the beginning of March when Honor Blackman's one-woman show comes to town. For ninety minutes, in conversation with Richard Digby Day, she will talk about her amazing sixty-year career in film, television and theatre. She will also sing a couple of her favourite songs. On her own website, there are two interesting reviews of this show from her performance at the Komedia during the Brighton festival and, from these, I believe the songs will be Send in The Clowns’ which Honor sang in A Little Night Music, and a Dietrich classic from her one-woman Marlene show.

Honor will tell stories of her childhood, growing up during the Second World War, her rise to stardom, her leather-clad triumph in The Avengers, and her casting as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. She shares anecdotes concerning family, friends and colleagues, the difficulties filming nude scenes both hilarious and otherwise and the necessity to rebuff producers eager to make her a star - at a price.

Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Fri 7th Mar, 19:30.
Tickets £16, concessions £15, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Eastbourne Theatres Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Harry Court (music)

photo by Sarah Askaroff 
An email from CMP Studios brought talented newcomer +Harry Court to my attention. They are very proud to be involved in the creation and release of his very first single, Just Right which is out now.

Harry is a gifted singer-songwriter and world-class guitarist. He has been spending the last couple of years wowing crowds at open mic nights around the South Coast and came to CMP's attention after winning the 2013 Eastbourne Music and Arts Festival competition.Inspired at just nine years old by his Grandfather, a flamenco guitarist, Harry progressed to being taught by local guitar hero Mick Hutchinson. He’s been penning his own songs for the past couple of years now, with a little help from his brother James. When quizzed on his style, Harry quipped that his music is “the perfect blend of folk, funk and pop”!

Just Right is an acoustically-driven yet catchy pop tune that both Harry and CMP hope will go down a treat with music-lovers worldwide. The accompanying video was shot on location in Eastbourne and I've embedded the YouTube at the end of this post. The single is available to purchase on both iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Reduced Shakespeare Company Presents The Bible (theatre)

I learned something both interesting and topical from a 400 year old book recently. The New Art Of Writing Plays by Lope de Vega (currently 77p on Kindle!), discusses whether "the wrath of a seated Spaniard is immoderate, when in two hours there is not presented to him everything from Genesis to the Last Judgment". de Vega was writing about Medieval mystery plays in the early 1600s and, now, The Reduced Shakespeare Company are bringing their similar expansive vision to Eastbourne!

The American company is famous for their unbelievably condensed versions of subjects such as histories of Comedy, Sports, America and, of course, Shakespeare. This performance is one in a three-month long, sixty-town UK tour and several of the other town's shows are already sold out so don't delay your booking too long.

"It’s Apocalypse Now as the three cultural guerrillas of The Reduced Shakespeare Company set their reductive sites on the good book with The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). Can bolts of lightning be far behind? It’s an affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment as the boys tackle the great theological questions: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston? And why isn’t the word “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds?

Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Sat 8th Mar, 19:30.
Tickets £17 adults, £15 concessions, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Near Dark (art)

Gertrude Hermes, Through The Windscreen, 1929.
Today is the first day of a new exhibition at Eastbourne's Towner Gallery.

Near Dark explores the space between night and day, between the dog and the wolf, in a display curated by the Scandinavian artist/film maker John Skoog who also currently has his own solo show at the Redoubt Fortress. Drawing from the time when night approaches as surely as sleep, when street lamps are lit and every being becomes his own shadow, Near Dark unfolds like a fragmented thriller, where you won’t be able to trust your own eyes. Skoog has collaborated with Bjarke Hvass Kureuses to curate this selection of works from the Towner’s own collection. I know that Through The Windscreen by Gertrude Hermes will be included as it is the publicity image for the exhibition, but everything else chosen will be a surprise!

Towner Gallery, Sat 8th Feb until Sun 4th May.
Tue-Sun, 10:00-17:00.
Free admission.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Hairspray (film)

I went to the live stage show of Hairspray at the Congress Theatre in 2011 and was enthusiastically up and dancing by the end! It's definitely one of my favourite musicals. For 2014, the Royal Hippodrome are screening the movie version as the next in their series of Fun Film Party Nights. Your hosts will guide you through familiar songs and get you joining in with dance moves. Dressing up 1960s style is warmly encouraged and to get the party atmosphere going, hats and blowers will be provided.

John Travolta is the big name star and, unfortunately, also the worst thing about the Hairspray film. However, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Nikki Blonsky are fantastic. 'Plump' teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) loves dancing and especially adores the Corny Collins TV show which she races home from school to watch. when one of the show's dancers has to leave due to pregnancy, Tracy bunks off school to audition. However she is rejected by the brilliantly bitchy Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) for her weight and for supporting the racial integration of the show. The next day, in detention, Tracy meets several of the black dancers who teach her their moves, Corny Collins himself then gets Tracy onto the show. Velma cancels Negro Day out of spite so, in revenge, Tracy plans to lead a protest and get the black dancers reinstated.

Royal Hippodrome, Fri 28th Feb, 19:30.
Tickets £12 adults, £10 concessions, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Anton Du Beke: Ballroom To Broadway (dance)

It's a while now since Strictly Come Dancing fever swept the country again, but the spin-off shows are still on the road and this year there are two hitting Eastbourne. The first was Brendan Cole's Licence To Thrill and next will be Anton Du Beke with Ballroom To Broadway. Strangely though, it seems as though his only performance here will be a Thursday afternoon matinee?

Anton has been on tour since the 16th of January with his thrilling new show. Produced by Raymond Gubbay, Ballroom To Broadway features memorable dances to conjure up the elegance of Ballroom at its best and the unmissable razzle dazzle of Broadway. The Raymond Gubbay Big Band Orchestra will be conducted by Richard Balcombe and the the guest singer is Strictly favourite Lance Ellington. We are promised music from the likes of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerry Herman and Andrew Lloyd Webber with songs including You're The Top, Anything Goes and Hushabye Mountain.

Congress Theatre, Thu 6th Mar, 14:30.
Tickets £38.50 / £32.50, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Little Mermaid (theatre)

There's a treat in store for young and old alike during this February's Half Term Holiday week as the Royal Hippodrome Community Theatre Company will be performing the musical The Little Mermaid at, of course, Eastbourne's Royal Hippodrome Theatre. This is the same company that put on the very successful run of White Christmas over the festive season. The Royal Hippodrome is certainly becoming a venue to keep a close eye on as the variety of their shows is increasing all the time!

The Little Mermaid is the first venture for the youth section of RHCTC whose performers are all aged between eight and twenty-one years old and are from Eastbourne, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and Hastings. Their Director/Choreographer is Sarah Dormady and Musical Director is Helen Ward-Jackson.

Take your children to a magical world “Under the Sea” this half term holiday. Watch the adventures of Ariel as she falls in love with Prince Eric and fights for his love in return. With all the Disney songs your children will know and love – this February Half Term promises to be a magical one at the RHT.

Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Weds 19th Feb, 15:00.
Thurs 20th Feb, 15:00 and 19:00.
Fri 21st Feb, 11:00 and 15:00.
Sat 22nd Feb, 15:00 and 19:00.
Tickets £12 adults, £8 children and concessions, £35 family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), available online, by calling 01323 412000 or in person from the Royal Hippodrome Box Office.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Valerie MacLean (art)

This Friday sees the first day of a new exhibition of art at the Under Ground Theatre. Local artist Valerie MacLean will be exhibiting her 'considered and expressive' work during the remainder of February and through March. 

Now retired after years working int he travel industry, Valerie's exploration of art began, and direction was sought and found, at Eastbourne College of Art and Technology where she was inspired by her tutors and fellow students. She has since exhibited with some of them in Lewes, Seaford and East Grinstead. She favours the works of the Abstract Impressionists. her latest works have simplicity of composition and surface detail which belie the time taken in execution. Exhibits will include some bold colourful acrylics and mixed media art.

Under Ground Theatre, Fridays 10:00-12:30 and Saturdays 10:00-16:00.
Free admission. Art exhibition may also be seen by patrons during any Under Ground Theatre event.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Thin Men, Paper Suits by Tin Larrick (book)

It feels like ages since I've reviewed a book for this blog. I've taken to publishing a monthly review digest of all the books I've read or listened to on my Stephanie Jane blog. However, none of these have been 'local' - until now!

Tin Larrick tweeted to make me aware of the launch of his new book. It was only published a couple of weeks ago so you can still be one of its earliest readers by buying now! Thin Men, Paper Suits is a collection of nine short stories which are mostly situated around Eastbourne. It is only available as an ebook and can be purchased for Kindle for 77p or downloaded for free from Smashwords.

Darkly humorous, more than a little profane, largely criminal and peppered with twists, the collection includes tales of a huge police search operation for a missing child, a suicidal mortuary attendant, a hapless band of bottom-feeding dope smugglers, a displaced Cold War spy with a yearning for the old days and a house with unspeakable secrets. Tin says that "the bitesize stories are perfect for those theatre intervals" and I will add that they're also perfect for sun loungers in Portugal. (Yes, ok, I'm gloating a bit here!). The following ten word synopses will hopefully whet your appetites ...

THIN MEN, PAPER SUITS: Five friends dust off a childhood pact to seek revenge
THE SERGEANT: Obsession and desperation collide when a battered wife escapes torment
TAYLOR’S DUMMY: Espionage, double-crosses and curry in this ‘frilling French farce
HELL’S TEETH:  A visitor calls – and a dream home becomes a nightmare
DEAD SLOW:  Low tide turns despairing reflection into a battle for survival
MR SOLITAIRE: Fear and loathing in Amsterdam when dope dealing goes wrong
CRY HAVOC: A missing girl sparks a huge search in Friston Forest
THE £50,000 SIGNATURE: Two warring families resort to drastic measures in the courtroom DETECTIVE AT THE DOOR:  What would you do – and maybe give up – for love?

As with Devil's Chimney, I particularly enjoy spotting the local references. The tales all have interesting unexpected twists although I did find a few to be stretching plausibility a little too far and, as the stories are so short, the characters are obviously not as rounded as they would be in a full novel. My favourite story was the intricately plotted Taylor's Dummy, and I also particularly enjoyed the title story, Thin Men Paper Suits and the poignancy of Detective At The Door. It is probably advisable not to read Hell's Teeth too close to bedtime, and Mr Solitaire is definitely an 'adult' story!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Prince Igor (opera)

It is apparently nearly 100 years since the Met Opera has performed Borodin's epic Russian opera Prince Igor. And it is epic indeed with a running time of four-and-a-half-hours! Assuming the Company waits as long again before putting on another production, we are lucky that this potentially once in a lifetime experience is to be broadcast to Eastbourne Cineworld at the beginning of March.

Dmitri Tcherniakov’s new production is a brilliant psychological journey through the mind of its conflicted hero, with the founding of the Russian nation as the backdrop. Star bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov takes on the monumental title role, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting.

Prince Igor and his son Vladimir set out across 12th century Russia on a military campaign against the Polovtsy people who have invaded their lands. The Prince and his son are captured but fortunately the Polovtsy Khan's daughter and Vladimir are in love. The young couple manage to meet secretly while Igor bemoans his fate. Khan Konchak tries to entertain his captives with music and oriental dances.

Cineworld, Sat 1st Mar, 16:55.
Tickets £17.90, £14.20 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.