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Out of town review: Dealer’s Choice at the Royal & Derngate

June 2, 2014 

Simon Raven went to see Michael Longhurst’s new production of Patrick Marber’s modern classic Dealer’s Choice.

Dealer’s Choice is a story about male camaraderie and obsession, set in the gritty world of amateur poker in 90′s London.

Michael Longhurst comes to the Royal & Derngate following his acclaimed production of Nick Payne’s Constellations at the Royal Court and in the West End, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and receiving four Olivier nominations.

Dealer's Choice at the Royal & Derngate

Dealer’s Choice at the Royal & Derngate

“I’ve never had much interest in gambling or poker, but an invite to see the revival of Patrick Marber’s play ‘Dealer’s Choice’ had me hurtling on a journey back to my Twenties in 1990′s London.

“Sitting in the beautiful Royal Theatre in Northampton, Michael Longhurst’s production unleashed a wave of hilarity that kept the audience gripped and entertained from opening to closing curtain.

“The likability of the characters in the play set the tone for this comic tragedy, skilfully crafted by Marber early on in his writing career.  A sinister performance by Ian Burfield as Ash was in sharp and tense contrast to the witty banter induced by Marber’s jester, Mugsy.

“The seamlessly choreographed poker sequences worked beautifully, maintaining the speed and momentum of a play that refuses to allow your attention to drift for even a fraction of a second.

“I left the theatre feeling no more enlightened about the rules of a game that I am unlikely to ever play, but feeling thoroughly manhandled by the Derngate and gratefully entertained. Dealer’s Choice is a must-see at the Royal & Derngate.”

Dealer’s Choice is playing until Saturday 14 June 2014
Box Office: 01604 624811

Dealer’s Choice at the Royal & Derngate

Cast:
Ian Burfield
Tom Canton
Oliver Coopersmith
Cary Crankson
Richard Hawley
Carl Prekopp

Director: Michael Longhurst
Designer: Helen Goddard
Lighting Designer: Katharine Williams
Composer and Sound Designer: Richard Hammarton
Movement Director: Imogen Knight
Fight Director: Brett Yount
Casting Director: Cara Beckinsale

LINKS

Royal & Derngate Northampton

End of the Rainbow enjoys rave reviews

November 24, 2010 

A new play about the last months of screen and music legend Judy Garland has received rave reviews in the West End

Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow

Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow

Award-winning actress Tracie Bennett stars as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, which has  transferred to London following a successful run at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton earlier this year.

The show opened at the Trafalgar Studios on Monday, directed by Terry Johnson, who directed Bennett in La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre and recently directed a new production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville.

Peter Quilter’s touching play is set in London in 1968 and features some of Garland’s most memorable songs including The Man That Got Away, Come Rain or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Tracie Bennett stars alongside Hilton McRae as Anthony, Garland’s devoted pianist and musical director and Stephen Hagan as soon-to-be husband number five Mickey Deanes.

Tracie Bennett gives a career-defining performance in the show, and is tipped to win a number of high profile awards with her sensitive and powerful portrayal of Garland, in a role that showcases her acting and singing ability with an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to the star.

Charles Spencer in the Telegraph and Libby Purves in the Times awarded the show five stars, with Spencer saying that, “there are moments in the theatre when you lean forward in your seat with shivers racing down the spine, and realise there is nowhere on God’s earth you’d rather be. End of the Rainbow is one such occasion”. Henry Hitchings gave it four stars in the Evening Standard, praising Bennett’s performance as, “courageous — raw, emotional and astonishingly energetic. It’s much more than a skilful impersonation; it feels as if she has assimilated the essence of Garland’s personality”. Paul Vale in the stage hailed Terry Johnson’s direction as “practically flawless”.

SPECIAL OFFER: Save £15 on tickets to End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios in London

LINKS

Read an interview with Tracie Bennett

TRACIE BENNETT in End of the Rainbow

October 14, 2010 

The Lancashire dynamite who’s about to win awards all over again as Judy Garland

In TRACIE BENNETT in End of the Rainbow2000 Tracie Bennett won Celebrity Stars in their Eyes by playing Judy Garland.

Whether that knockout performance inspired Terry Johnson, director of End of the Rainbow about the last days of Judy Garland, to cast Bennett as the damaged diva we will never know.

But what we do know is that the play made us sit up and take note of Tracie all over again when it was premiered at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton earlier this year. And its well-deserved transfer to the Trafalgar Studios in November will allow a wider audience to see Bennett’s uncanny Garland look and sound – and give the performance of her life.

Tracie Bennett has won more awards than you could shake a microphone at and her career covers a lot of ground. On stage she was Jacqueline in Terry Johnson’s La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre, and won a best supporting Olivier Award as Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre with Michael Ball. Add in Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre, Sex Chips and Rock n Roll for the Royal Exchange Manchester, High Society at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Guys and Dolls, Educating Rita and Spring Awakening for Sheffield Crucible and a national tour of Billy Liar and you have quite a list. Oh, and another Olivier Award for She Loves Me at the Savoy.

On TV she is best known for playing Sharon Gaskell in Coronation Street, and on film as Shirley’s daughter in Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine.

But it’s the stage that she has made her own, and nowhere more so than in End of the Rainbow.

STAR INTERVIEW: Read an interview with Tracie Bennett

Book tickets to END OF THE RAINBOW at the Trafalgar Studios in London

Tracie Bennett to star as Judy Garland

October 8, 2010 

Award-winning actress Tracie Bennett returns to the West End in a new musical about the final days of Judy Garland.

Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow

Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow

In another success for the Royal & Derngate in Northampton, the regional theatre’s sell-out production of End of the Rainbow is to transfer to the West End.

The show will open at the Trafalgar Studios in London on 22 November 2010, with previews from 16 November.

Olivier Award winner Tracie Bennett stars as Judy Garland in the show, which combines humour and heartbreak to follow Garland’s final performances in London – and her last days alive.

The show is directed by Terry Johnson, who directed Bennett in La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre and recently directed a new production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville.

Peter Quilter’s touching play is set in London in 1968 and features some of Garland’s most memorable songs including The Man That Got Away, Come Rain or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Tracie Bennett stars alongside Hilton McRae as Anthony, Garland’s devoted pianist and musical director and Stephen Hagan as soon-to-be husband number five Mickey Deanes.

Tracie Bennett gives a career-defining performance in the show, and is tipped to win a number of high profile awards with her sensitive and powerful portrayal of Garland, in a role that showcases her acting and singing ability with an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to the star.

Book tickets to End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios in London

CAST CREDITS

Multi award-winning Tracie Bennett’s extensive theatre credits include Jacqueline in Terry Johnson’s production of La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre, and Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre for which she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Role in a Musical.  Her other theatre credits include Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre, Sex Chips and Rock n Roll for the Royal Exchange Manchester, High Society at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Guys and Dolls, Educating Rita and Spring Awakening all for Sheffield Crucible and a national tour of Billy Liar.  On television she is best known for her role as Sharon Gaskell in Coronation Street.  Her other television credits include Dalziel and Pascoe, Casualty, Vincent and The Royal.  On film she played Millandra in Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine.

Hilton McRae has most recently been seen Channel 4′s feature length television drama playing the title role in The Execution of Gary Glitter.  In the theatre his credits include The Kreutzer Sonata for the Gate Theatre, Dublin, Experimentum Mundi at the Edinburgh International Festival, Rock ‘n’ Roll for Manchester Library Theatre, The Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall, Weapons of Happiness for the Finborough Theatre and Caroline, Or Change for the National Theatre.  He played Claudius in Rupert Goold’s production Hamlet at the Royal Theatre Northampton.  McRae has worked extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions including Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Troilus and Cressida and As You Like It.  His other television his credits include Doctors, Silent Witness and Monarch of the Glen for the BBC and Lewis, Frances Tuesday and Midsommer Murders for ITV.  His film credits include The Power of Three, Red Riding Trilogy, Mansfield Park, Secret Rapture and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Stephen Hagan’s theatre credits include The York Realist at Riverside Studios, Cyrano De Bergerac at the Chichester Festival Theatre, The Real Thing for Salisbury Playhouse, The Giant for Hampstead Theatre and Troilus and Cressida for the Royal Shakespeare Company.  On television his credits include Ryan in the BBC series The Cut, as well as Best: His Mother’s Son , Clapham Junction and Mistresses.  On film he has been seen in Against The Dark.

Book tickets to End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios in London

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