NEWS: 42nd Street Hits Sheffield

West End glitterati Dave Willets and Marti Webb bring Broadway razzamatazz to the Lyceum Theatre from Tuesday 12 to Saturday 16 June with the legendary musical 42nd Street.

42nd Street, winner of the 1980 Tony Award for Best Musical, brings the magic of old Broadway to life in the timeless and inspiring tale of small town Peggy Sawyer’s rise from chorus line to stardom. Fresh from Pennsylvania, Peggy gets caught up in the drama and delight of 1930’s show business as she debuts in the latest musical Pretty Lady.Peggy’s journey is fraught with backstage intrigue and inflated egos as she negotiates the show’s diva and notorious director.

Starring West End favourites Dave Willetts (Phantom of the OperaLes Misérables and South Pacific) and Marti Webb (Blood BrothersCats and Oaklahoma!), 42nd Street is directed by the show’s co-author and Broadway director Mark Bramble. With dazzling sets, glamorous costumes and well-known hits We’re in the Money¸ Keep Young and Beautiful and the showstopping title number, this sensational production promises all the sparkle and spectacle of New York City.

Audiences will find themselves in musical comedy paradise as this production demonstrates the show’s enduring appeal and just why 42nd Street is the 13th longest running show on Broadway.

Tickets for 42nd Street are on sale now from Sheffield Theatres’ Box Office, priced £22.00 – £34.00. Call 0114 249 6000 or visit sheffieldtheatres.co.uk to book.

NEWS: Sheffield Theatres Presents The First International Student Drama Festival

Sheffield Theatres becomes home to the first ever International Student Drama Festival from Friday 22 – Saturday 30 June, as the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) goes global to celebrate the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Co-produced by NSDF and Sheffield Theatres, in association with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, this nine-day festival brings together the brightest and best new theatre-makers from across the world to perform a range of live theatre, workshops and late night entertainment.  Ten international student shows, from countries as far afield as Iran, Zimbabwe, Georgia, Japan and America, will join ten ground-breaking UK student shows selected by the ISDF team in this celebration of worldwide student theatre.

Judging the student productions are local award-winning playwright, John Godber,  award-winning American actor Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler in the West Wing) and Malaysian actress, writer and director Rani Moorthy (Handful of Henna, Children’s Theatre Festival), chaired by writer, Professor and NSDF Board member, Robert Hewison.

Alongside the shows will be 200 cutting-edge workshops and discussions from world leading theatre companies, drama schools and technicians exploring topics from acting, writing, devising and directing to design, lighting, sound, costume, puppetry, choreography, and stage fighting.  Companies leading the workshops include the LAMDA, Menier Chocolate Factory, Old Vic Tunnels, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Sunday Times and locally-based companies Slung Low and Forced Entertainment.

Completing the activity, a festival newspaper will be published every morning, to which anyone can submit reviews and articles on work they have seen, as well as a daily discussion.  There will also be competitions, the opportunity to audition for drama school, free head shot photo sessions, and the chance to win work experience placements and cash prizes for forthcoming productions.

Anyone aged 16 years and over can take part in this unique festival, and Yorkshire students have the opportunity to attend for free with help from the Foundation of Sport and Arts who have paid for 200 3-day festival tickets.  Students may apply independently for the free tickets or teachers may apply for up to ten free tickets per school byMonday 4 June.  Applicants will know if they have been successful by Monday 11 June.  For more information, terms and conditions and to apply visit http://www.nsdf.org.uk/buy-tickets/fsa/freetix/

Sheffield Theatres Chief Executive, Dan Bates said: ‘A big part of our work at Sheffield Theatres is discovering, nurturing and developing new talent so we are very excited to be hosting the first and only International Student Drama Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad.  It’s also great for the city to be hosting another prestigious, high-profile event and we look forward to welcoming the hundreds of international students, visiting artists and companies through our doors.’

NSDF Director, Holly Kendrick added: ‘We are all incredibly excited about this year’s ISDF 2012 Festival as it’s shaping up to be an extraordinary event.  Those who buy a ticket can expect to see some exceptional shows chosen from around the UK and all over the world, as well as take part in workshops and advice sessions from some of the world’s leading theatre companies and drama schools.  We are also truly thrilled that through the support of the Foundation of Sports and Arts and with the help of London 2012, we are able to offer 200 free tickets to this year’s International Student Drama Festival which will be allocated to young people in Yorkshire who have never been before.’

The full festival runs for 9 days and there are 9, 6, 3 and 1 day tickets available which entitles you to see all the shows and workshops on those days.  For more information and to book visit: http://www.nsdf.org.uk/

Single event tickets are available for just £5.00 and can be purchased from Sheffield Theatres’ Box Office in-person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.


LIVE REVIEW: Conor Maynard, o2 Academy 2 (Sheffield), 26.04.12

The excitement in the  o2 Academy 2 can barely been contained. With doors opening at 7pm, the nearly all female audience (with an average age of 15) are crammed against the railings screaming their hearts out at every utterance of ‘Britian’s Bieber’ Conor Maynard. With DJ Manny Norte on hand to whip up a frenzy, his excitable presence and Twitter interaction help control the growing hysteria.

Before the Brighton boy bounds on stage, four piece Rascals bounce on stage, effortlessly winning over the willing audience with their irrepressible energy and more than impressive tunes. Having first dabbled with fame back in 2007, the former trio (Big Shizz, Tempz and Merkz) have recruited a fourth member, Kay Willz, and upped their game. The time out has reaped the rewards, with the boys relaxed on stage and the girls eating their every word. If tonight’s show is anything to go by, Rascals could easily be the best new boyband on the block.

With almost three quarters of an hour between sets, the ecstatic girls barely move for fear of losing their space. Norte deals dutifully with requests, ensuring that the time flies by.

As soon as Maynard’s band takes their place, the camera phones are held high and screams are more than worthy of One Direction at the Motorpoint Arena. Maynard clearly relishes the attention and launches into his set without hesitation, bouncing off the audience’s energy and giving ten-fold back.

Maynard is no Bieber. He may be a teen star discovered on YouTube by a well-respected and established r’n’b star, but that is as far as the comparison goes. Far from a slick, over styled performer, Brighton’s finest offers an honest, humble, low key performance that oozes ability.

With a subtle cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” kicking off a flurry of ballads mid set, Maynard is determined to prove there is more to him than boy next door good looks and well produced tracks. Emotional delivery and an impressive tone tug all the right strings, but the energy explodes as Maynard breaks back into Guetta-esque dance mode.

Closing with debut single, the slick, addictive “Can’t Say No”, Maynard leaves his audience wanting more, but fails to deliver an encore. Luckily his loyal fans are full of love and shrug off their disappointment as they head to the merch stand to spend their pennies on a T-Shirt or two to remember the night.

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

LIVE REVIEW: Bastille, The Harley (Sheffield), 24.04.12

Local lads Puzzles kick things into gear at a fairly quiet Harley. Far from disheartened by the smallish, scattered crowd, they throw themselves into their electronic, 80s influenced futurepop wholeheartedly and provoke a move  towards the stage and a stampede through the door. Their set may be brief, but it’s impact overshadows The Smiths-esque The Lion Works who follow them with an impressive but non spine-tingling performance.

With the heat rapidly rising as the now packed Harley crowd are frantic with anticipation for the arrival of Dan Smith, aka Bastille, and his three-piece band. Thankfully he does not keep his demanding audience waiting long as he casually strolls on to stage and launches into “Icarus” and is met by screams of adoration.

The softly spoken South Londoner is a fascinatingly energetic performer. While his song introductions start whispered, the positive response provokes a chattier side, as with each performance his frenzied jump-dancing reaches new heights.

Though better known material “Laura Palmer”, “Get Home”, current single “Overjoyed” and set closer “Flaws” are obvious fan favourite, the singalong “Pompeii” proves itself the one to watch for.

Throwing in City High’s “What Would You Do?” and Corona’s “Rhythm Of The Night” from his “Other People’s Heartache” mixtape proves a wise choice. Lifting the energy and demonstrating a real versatility to his vocal talent, Bastille is a performer who constantly ups his game and challenges his audience.

With the merch stand overflowing as everyone heads home for the night, it is more than apparent that Bastille has made more than a little impact. Far more than just a distinct vocal and dextrous songwriter, Bastille owns the stage and has an audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams 

VIDEO: The Crookes “Afterglow”

They said that Sheffield produces one defining act every generation-from the Human League through to the Arctic Monkeys-it is easy to pinpoint the act and the decade. So what of the teens? Who is set to steal the Sheffield crown? With Shake Aletti and Hey Sholay as strong contendors, here at The Kaje we offer The Crookes as strong contenders. Having unleashed the sensational “Chasing After Ghosts” in 2011, The Crookes may have changed line-up (Alex Saunders has been replaced by Tom Dakin), but they are still going from strength. If latest single “Afterglow” is anything to go by, 2012’s sophomore release is one to keep an ear out for. Head-shakingly stunning.

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