Monday, 23 December 2013

Access for All in 2013 and Christmas Wishes

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You for your continued support for Access for All to the Arts. 2013 is drawing to a close and I've been thinking back over the past year to issues surrounding Access in our arts venues. There have been so many positive things happen, yet still so much needs to change before our venues really are Accessible to All. A charity who I follow on Twitter, called Stage Text, has been working tirelessly with theatres nationwide to bring captioned performances to the theatres. Many have yet to put on captioned performances but thanks to the hard work of charities like Stage Text, many more captioned performances are appearing. I will in fact be looking closer at captioned performances at the beginning of 2014. Theatres have continued to work on their physical Access, many now providing more dedicated wheelchair spaces and a larger option of seats for those transferring. Venues such as the Royal Albert Hall have improved dramatically on their communication and disability awareness in their box office...the physical Access options may still need work in this venue but staff now seem much more tuned in to the options available and which seats/spaces would be best for patrons with Access needs. Here's to many more continued improvements in 2014
And now...Christmas. I say this with some trepidation as I realise that, although for many, Christmas is an exciting, magical and special time of year...for many, it can be the complete opposite. I've had many messages over the last month or so from readers struggling with the time of year, some of you I'm told will be spending it in hospital, hospices or will have just left hospital. Others, may be suffering with the isolation that comes with certain disabilities. I want to thank you all for sending those messages, I know it's hard to reach out and although we all have our own situations, I just wanted to say that, I do understand and empathise with these feelings. Access London is very fortunate to have the support of many actors, singers and dancers and I am grateful to each and every one of them. I've put together a few messages that some of them have kindly sent me to show you all that the support for Access issues is there and it's there in spades. There may be venues that aren't playing ball right now with their Access policies but we mustn't feel defeated and instead fight on, especially with such fantastic support behind us. On a personal note, I want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to EVERYONE who contributed to this post and to those who continue to support Access for All, it really does make all the difference. See you in 2014!
Michael Xavier: "Sending all who follow Access London my very best wishes for a lovely Christmas and a very happy new year. It means the world to me that everyone gets the opportunity to experience not only theatre, but all forms of entertainment, as equals. Thank you Access London. x" Michael has recently announced that he has been cast as Sid Sorokin in Chichester Festival Theatre's West End transfer of The Pajama Game, previews starting from 1st May 2014 at the Shaftesbury Theatre. To keep up to date with all his news, you can follow Michael on Twitter @michaelxavierUK
Sofia Escobar: "I'd like to wish all readers of Access London a wonderful and magical Christmas! May you all have a beautiful day, surrounded by loved ones. After all, nothing is more important than sharing life with the people we love. Merry Christmas and may 2014 bring you all you wish for. Sofia x" Sofia recently finished her run as Christine at Phantom of the Opera after playing the role for 3 years. You can keep up to date with all of Sofia's news by following her on Twitter @sofia_escobar
Scott Davies: "Dear All, On behalf of myself and everyone at Phantom of the Opera, we wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and lots of love for 2014. Scott Davies xx" Scott is currently contracted as Standby Phantom at Phantom of the Opera.
Joanna Loxton: "Wishing everyone at Access London a wonderful Christmas and a bright and prosperous new year. Thanks for the amazing work you are doing, it makes a real difference to those who need it! Much love to all. Jo xx" Jo was in the cast of Dear World, at the Charing Cross Theatre, earlier this year. To keep up to date with all of her news, follow her on Twitter @Joloxton
Chris Jenkins: "Merry Christmas and a happy new year to Claire and all her Access for All readers. Here's to another year of great theatre for Everyone." Chris is currently in Spamalot at The Playhouse theatre. You can keep up to date with all his news on his website . Or on his Twitter account @chrisjenko
Richard Halton: "To you, the loyal readership of Access for All, I extend my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy and prosperous new year" Richard is a singer and vocal coach, working with many great West End singers. You can keep up to date with all of his news via his Twitter @richiehalton
Claire Cook: "Wishing all readers of Access London much love for the festive season and best wishes for a happy new year! x" Claire is the Dance Captain at the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. To keep up to date with all of Claire's news, you can follow her on Twitter @CookClaire
Danny Whitehead: "Ever since I heard about 'Access for All' I have been a huge admirer and supporter of its aims, objectives and of the fantastic work they do. It's such an important issue that's very close to my heart, and after the recent traumatic events at London's Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, it highlights even more the need for investment to maintain the up keep of all theatres and arts venues, and to make sure they are accessible and safe for everyone to enjoy. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!!!" Danny is currently in Jack and the Beanstalk at The Broadway Theatre in Barking. You can keep up to date with all his news by following him on Twitter @DannyWhitehead_
Nicola Foxfield: "The show is always for the audience and that means their needs come first. I'm very fortunate this year in that the venue I'm performing in over the Christmas period is a very inclusive theatre (London theatres take note!) and we have groups with a variety of disabilities attending nearly every show, which quite frankly is the way it should be! I couldn't imagine not being able to see any show I wanted, so hats off to Claire and all who are working hard to help make London's theatres accessible to all. Merry Christmas everyone and here's to a wonderful new year!" Nicola is currently playing 'Dick' in Dick Wittington at the Bedworth Civic Hall, Warwickshire and will be in As You Like It at Barons Court, from January. You can keep up to date with her news via her website . Or follow her on Twitter @NicolaFoxfield
Kevin Leslie: "Merry Christmas to one and all, Hope you have an amazing festive holiday, filled with laughter, joy and merriment. I'm proud and honoured to be asked to extend my support for access for London. I believe theatre should be accessible to everyone whatever the obstacle, so it brings a smile to my face when I see people making this possible. The work is made to be enjoyed by All, so enjoyed by ALL it shall be. Hope to hear about many enjoyable theatre trips in 2014. Happy Holidays. Kevin Leslie x" Kevin was in the great production of Blue Stockings, at The Globe this Summer. His next feature film, is a mystery horror, called 'Disturbed'. He will also be touring UK theatres with the English Touring Theatre in Eternal Love, you can check out this website for dates HERE . Keep up to date with all Kevin's news by following him on Twitter @KevinLeslie88
Jonathon Gibson: "Merry Christmas to all readers and supporters of Access London. Theatre means everything to me. It brings me so much enjoyment, whether I'm on the stage or in the audience. Everyone should have the right and ability to experience the magic of theatre and I strongly support the work of Access London. I wish you all a fantastic festive season and here's to a happy and healthy 2014. Much love, Jonathon xxx" Jonathon is currently appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, until 5th January. To keep up to date with all of his news, check out his website . You can also follow him on Twitter @JonGibsonActor
Cameron Jack: "Happy Christmas to all at Access London! Keep up the good work there. It's important that there are organisations like Access, making a difference all year round. Cameron Jack x" Cameron is an actor and director and has made many television performances this year and was also in the feature film, Wandering Rose. His theatre performances this year include The Life Of Stuff. He has also directed productions at the Broadway Theatre in Catford. You can keep up to date with his news by following him on Twitter @rentathug
Dan and Laura Curtis: "We would like to wish all the readers of Access London a Christmas full of love and happiness. Access in the Arts is so very important and what you do makes such a big difference to people's lives. From working in a theatre for many years, I have seen significant changes for the better but so much more can be done. Thank you for everything you are doing and all the very best for 2014." Dan and Laura are award winning composers. Among their many current and future projects, includes the Richard Burton Musical. You can keep up to date with all their news via their website . You can also follow them on Twitter @DanLauraCurtis

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Book of Mormon & Prince of Wales Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for your continued support for Access for All to the Arts. The Book of Mormon, Broadway's hit musical, that opened on Broadway in March 2011 and was followed by a successful US tour, opened in the West End in February 2013. Conceived by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone whilst working on the successful TV series ‘South Park’, the show came from modest beginnings to be one of the most popular Broadway shows of the past decade.
"The show tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to a small town in Uganda to bring news of the Latter Day Saints. They are shocked at the cultural differences, as a War Lord threatens the local villages and controls the area by fear. Both missionaries attempt to share the scriptures with the local people, although only one of them knows it well enough. Famine, poverty and AIDS threaten the town, and the duo must battle their own beliefs in order to succeed and make a change. The show is an edgy and sometimes outrageous satire musical which takes shots at everything from organised religion to consumerism, the state of the economy and the musical theatre genre itself. Robert Lopez is no stranger to controversial musicals, after co-writing the score and lyrics for the 2003 puppet musical Avenue Q which shocked many audience members and general public at the time. Just like Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon went on to win the Tony Award for Best New Musical."
Access Information: The Prince of Wales Theatre is in Coventry Street, between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. If you are a wheelchair or scooter user then the area is serviced well with dropped kerbs. There is level Access to the foyer and stalls seating area for wheelchair and scooter users and those who have difficulty using stairs. Access to the box office is step free and there is also a low level counter at both the box office and merchandise kiosk. Wheelchair spaces are located at the back of the stalls and have dedicated companion seats next to them. There are also several options for transfer seats in the stalls, which are completely step-free.
Assistance dogs are allowed into the auditorium, alternatively a member of staff can dog-sit during the performance. There is a limit for the number of dogs allowed into the theatre per performance, so please make sure you inform the box office at the time of booking. There is an infra-red system in the auditorium and an induction loop at the box office. Accessible and adapted toilets are available via the lift in the foyer. This lift will also give wheelchair users and those unable to use stairs, Access to the Delfont and stalls bar. An Access host is always available before, during and after each performance should you have any questions.
The Book of Mormon is one of the most popular shows in London right now, and as such often has very limited tickets available. It is unlikely that you will be able to get tickets on the day (although, I have heard of a few people who have been able to) so booking plenty of time in advance is highly advisable. For bookings for all Access needs, please call the Delfont Theatres Access Line on 0844 482 5137 and select the option for the Prince of Wales theatre which will put you directly through to the box office. Patrons with Access needs are usually able to get a heavily discounted ticket for both themselves and one companion. Performances are Monday - Saturday at 7:30pm and Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30pm.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

LAWRENCE: Scandalous! Censored! Banned! and The Bridewell Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts. This week sees a strictly limited run (one week only) of 'Lawrence: Scandalous! Censored! Banned', the musical, based on the life of D H Lawrence opening at The Bridewell Theatre, in the City (just off of Fleet Street). "Set between 1907 and 1930, Lawrence is a compelling story with an exciting and diverse musical score that captures the spirit and passion of D H Lawrence the man, the writer and the lover." Lawrence was the author of titles that include, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Sons & Lovers, Women in Love and The Rainbow.
From humble beginnings as a Nottinghamshire miner's son, David Herbert Lawrence finally breaks away from the stifling love of his mother, Lydia, and the brooding intensity of his girlfriend, Jessie, to pursue his quest as a writer. This is a story of hope, restlessness and rejection set against a profoundly moving and turbulent public love affair with Frieda von Richthofen, a German baroness. Frieda gives up her children and her comfortable life as a Professor's wife to embark on a tumultuous roller-coaster ride with Lawrence, the working-class genius. Inspired firstly by his life and the people in his home town, Eastwood, Lawrence writes Sons and Lovers, then The Rainbow, then Women in Love. His writing is new and brave, spontaneous and passionate, sexually explicit, and often scandalous! ... it rocks the establishment. Labelled a "peddler of pornography", many of his books are censored or banned - but he passionately clings to his beliefs and struggles on. Finally, penniless and with no hope of his work being published, and even accused of spying for the Germans, Lawrence and Frieda leave England in search of a better life. They travel but never settle for long, with Lawrence constantly drawn to England ... the "country of my heart". When they return in 1926, Lawrence witnesses the miners' desperate fight for fair wages and rights against the might and greed of the wealthy mine owners. This inspires him to write what will become the most daring and notorious novel of its day. As the first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover rolls off the press, Lawrence finally collapses from an illness he has been fighting since birth. At the end of a life that saw much of his work censored and reviled, Lawrence - with Frieda by his side glimpses a future where he will at last be recognised as one of the greatest English novelists of the 20th century: “I will rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of my life".
Broadway star, Bart Shatto is reprising the role of Lawrence, following his run in the New Orleans production in 2009. The cast includes, Garth Bardsley, Nick Wyschna, Christiane Noll, Lindsay Hamilton, Diana DiMarzio and Tony Oakley. Performances run from Tuesday 22nd - Saturday 26th October every evening at 7.30. There is also a matinee on Saturday 26th at 2.30pm. Tickets can be booked online HERE
Access Information: The entrance to Bridewell Theatre and Bar is in Bride Lane. Access is over a threshold stone of 10-15cm. Ramps are available and can be placed over the threshold to assist with Access for wheelchair users. Unfortunately, the building itself, and the lifts used to Access the auditorium mean that the Bridewell is not suitable for mobility scooters. For wheelchair users and those who cannot manage stairs, Access from the threshold to the auditorium is via a stairlift (230kg weight load) and to the theatre bar and WC via a platform lift (340kg weight load). The Bridewell is an intimate theatre space and currently doesn't have the use of a hearing loop system. If you are a wheelchair user or need to make use of the ramps or lifts during your visit, it is advised that you telephone ahead to the theatre so that someone can be there to assist you, the theatre can also only cater for 2 wheelchair users for any one performance. The telephone is staffed Monday - Friday on 020 7353 3331. Enquiries about assistance dogs can also be made to the number.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Strangers On A Train & The Gielgud Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts. Next month sees the opening of 'Strangers On A Train' at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.
"Two strangers. One conversation. The perfect murder. A seemingly innocent conversation soon turns into a nightmarish and dangerous reality for Guy Haines when he meets Charles Bruno on a train journey. Ahead lies a lethal nightmare of blackmail and psychological torment that threatens to cost Guy his career, his marriage and his sanity. His choice: to kill, or to be framed for a murder he didn't commit. Get on board for the West End's most gripping new thriller, as the classic Strangers on a Train opens at the Gielgud Theatre. Written by Craig Warner and based on Patricia Highsmith's acclaimed novel, inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's legendary movie, this new stage production stars, Laurence Fox (Guy), Jack Huston (Bruno), Christian McKay (Gerard), Miranda Raison (Anne), Imogen Stubbs (Elsie) and MyAnna Buring (Miriam)."
Access Information: The Access entrance to the auditorium is located through the third side EXIT door on Rupert Street (alongside the theatre). Ask a member of staff at the main entrance to open this for you. There is one 12cm step up into the theatre at this entrance. For wheelchair and scooter users, and those who cannot manage the step, ask a member of staff for the ramp to be placed over this (this is usually done automatically anyway). There is step free Access to row B in the Dress Circle. Seats B5 and B30 can be removed to provide 2 spaces for wheelchair users, with a companion seat next to them. These seats can also be used as transfer seats and for those who cannot manage steps. From here there is 1 step between each row. You cannot see a very small part of the stage from the angle of seats B5 and B30 because of a safety rail in front of Row A. It isn't much of a restriction and shouldn't disturb the enjoyment of the performance.
There is an infra-red system in the auditorium with 12 headsets available – Free hire upon production of ID. Please collect these from foyer kiosk or ask your companion to do so if you cannot manage steps. You will be asked to sign a receipt. It is advised that you check the availability of the headsets before booking, please call 0844 482 5137. Assistance dogs are allowed into the auditorium or alternatively staff are happy to dog sit during the performance. Please let the box office know of your requirements at time of booking as only a limited number of dogs can be in the building for any one performance. There is an adapted toilet in the Foyer bar that can be reached by a side corridor from the Dress Circle. The Foyer bar is step free from the Dress Circle. DFT have a dedicated Access staff member for each performance, so if you have any questions, they should be happy to help.
'Strangers On A Train' opens at The Gielgud on 2nd November and runs until 22nd February 2014. For Access bookings, including discounted seats for those with a disability and a companion, please call the Access line on 0844 482 5137. This will go to DFT's main number, please select the option for The Gielgud and you will then be put through directly to the box office onsite.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Richmond Theatre & Three Phantoms Tour

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for continuing to support Access for All to the Arts. Many people have been sending me messages requesting Access and booking details for the Three Phantoms Autumn tour which started this week in Canterbury, at the Marlowe Theatre. It is an extensive 10 week tour and covers many venues so I've made the decision to give detailed Access information for the tour's London stop at Richmond Theatre. As many of you are based around the UK, I've found the Access booking links or phone numbers to the other venues for you. It's a great show and I urge you all to go and watch!
Three Phantoms: Nine world-class performers, all of whom have an association with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sensational musical The Phantom of the Opera, amongst other West End and Broadway shows, present a thrilling evening of musical theatre. Led by Three Phantoms of the Opera - Matthew Cammelle, Stephen John Davis and Glyn Kerslake, alongside Rebecca Caine - this outstanding show features songs from Les MisĂ©rables, West Side Story, Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera and many more." The cast also includes Annette Yeo, Mandy Watsham Dunstall, Alistair Barron and Maestro Anthony Gabriele.
Richmond Theatre: There is wheelchair and step-free Access to the Stalls, Stalls bar and Accessible toilet. For those using a mobility scooter, please contact the theatre first about leaving the scooter in the foyer area and not the auditorium. The Stalls have dedicated wheelchair spaces for those remaining in their chair. For those who wish to transfer, or others with mobility difficulties, aisle seats within the Stalls can be booked. An induction loop is fully installed in the auditorium. There are a limited number of headsets for the infra-red hearing system which should be booked in advance at the Box Office. Headsets are available from the kiosk in the foyer on payment of a returnable deposit (£5). Assistance dogs are welcome at the theatre, please inform box office staff at time of booking to make arrangements as there is a limit to the number of dogs that can be in the theatre for each performance. Three Phantoms will be performing at Richmond Theatre from Sunday 24th November until Tuesday 26th November 2013. For Access tickets and discounts on companion tickets, please call ATG's dedicated Access line on 0844 871 7677 (discounts for companion tickets available to those on qualifying benefits and pensions).
Three Phantoms Autumn Tour: For all other venues on the Autumn tour, please see the following links and phone numbers... Wednesday 11th - Thursday 12th September at Marlowe Theatre Canterbury (including Thursday matinee), for theatre Access information, see HERE . Or book via Box Office on 01227787787. Saturday 14th September - Sunday 15th September at The Grand Theatre Wolverhampton (including Saturday matinee), for Access information, see HERE and box office number 01902429212. Tuesday 17th - Wednesday 18th September at Opera House Manchester, for theatre Access information, see HERE and box office on 0844 8717677. Thursday 19th September at Belgrade Theatre Coventry, for Access information, see HERE and box office number 024 7655 3055. Friday 20th - Saturday 21st September at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 8717677. Sunday 22nd September at Watford Colosseum, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0845 0753993. Tuesday 24th - Thursday 26th September (including Thursday matinee) at Swindon Wyvern Theatre, for Access information, see HERE . Box office number 01793 524481. Friday 27th - Saturday 28th (including Saturday matinee) at Malvern Theatres, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01684 892277. Sunday 29th September at De Montfort Hall, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0116 2333111.
Monday 7th - Tuesday 8th October at St David's Hall Cardiff, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0292 0878444. Wednesday 9th October at Venue Cymru Llandudno, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01492 872000. Thursday 10th October at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01223 357851. Saturday 12th - Sunday 13th October at Princess Theatre Torquay, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 8717677. Wednesday 16th - Thursday 17th October at the Churchill Theatre Bromley, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 871 7677. Saturday 19th - Sunday 20th October at Belfast Grand Opera House, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 02890 241919. Tuesday 22nd - Wednesday 23rd October at Inverness Eden Court, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01463 234234. Thursday 24th - Saturday 26th October at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0131 5296000. Monday 28th - Tuesday 29th October at Perth Concert Hall, for Access information, the box office number is 01738 621031.
Friday 1st - Saturday 2nd November (including Saturday matinee) at Swansea Grand Theatre, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01792 475715. Sunday 3rd November at Woking New Victoria Theatre, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 8717677. Monday 4th - Tuesday 5th November at Buxton Opera House, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0845 1272190. Wednesday 6th - Thursday 7th at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01892 530613. Friday 8th - Saturday 9th November at Poole Lighthouse, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 406 8666. Tuesday 12th November at Guildford Live, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 0844 7701 797. Thursday 14th - Saturday 16th November at Eastbourne Devonshire Park, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 01323 412000. Sunday 17th November at Southampton Mayflower, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 02380 711811. Tuesday 19th - Wednesday 20th November at Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre, for Access information, see HERE , box office number 00 353 818 719 377. Saturday 23rd November at Southend Cliffs Pavilion, for Access information, contact the box office on 01702 351135.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for supporting Access for All to the Arts. Today's post is on Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the Southbank. For information on Access to the Globe's exhibition space and tours, search the Access London blog for previous posts. Both are Accessible and well worth visiting. The guides on the tours are incredibly knowledgeable and disability aware.
The Globe currently has several productions running (please check their website to see running dates of each). These productions include: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Henry VI Parts 1-3 (Harry the Sixth, The Houses of York and Lancaster, The True Tragedy of the Duke of York), Blue Stockings and The Lightning Child (from September). Also look out for the Globe's touring production of The Taming of the Shrew in September in the UK.
Access Information: Entry to the box office and foyer is through heavy glass double doors. There is an automatic door for ease of use for wheelchair and scooter users and those with other disabilities. There is the box office, information desk and a bar on this level, all Accessible. Next to the box office is a lift that goes up to the Piazza level where there is a shop, toilet facilities and the main entrance to the theatre itself. If you are a scooter user, you will not be able to take this into the theatre. You can either transfer into one of the Globe's wheelchairs or walk in. For wheelchair users and those who cannot manage stairs or to stand for the performance (the Globe has 700 standing tickets for every show), Gentleman's Box P is your best bet. This can only be accessed via a backstage lift so please make sure you arrive in plenty of time for a FOH member to take you there. The box is located overlooking the side of the stage and is covered. It has enough space for 3 wheelchairs and a companion for each. The other option for wheelchair users is a raised wheelchair platform in the yard itself. Again, please arrive in plenty of time so that the platform can be placed in the best position (remember the yard is not covered).
There is an induction loop available in the theatre. Again, please remember the outdoor nature of the Globe and therefore all sounds will be amplified. The Globe does have a small number of digital headsets available to use. Assistance dogs are welcome in the theatre and can either remain with you during the performance or FOH will care for them for you. Outside the main entrance there are 2-3 blue badge bays. These do get taken very quickly however. Alternatively, The Globe has a couple of parking spaces on site for wheelchair users and Access patrons. If you need to make use of these, I would recommend booking one as soon as you've booked your tickets as these too can go quickly, especially for weekend and popular performances. You can book one (and also find out about Access provision for your specific needs) by calling the Globe's dedicated Access line on 020 7902 1409, open 9-5 Monday-Friday. I can't praise David, who runs the line, highly enough, incredibly helpful - Thank you to everyone who sent in very positive feedback about him, it's always great to hear when places are doing well with their Access and disability awareness!
Patrons with disabilities are entitled to a half price seated ticket or 2 for 1 if bringing a companion. Please make all bookings for Access tickets via the box office on 0207 401 9919 or by going in person. You cannot book Access tickets online. There is an Audio Described performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream on 31st August at 2pm. There is a Captioned performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream on the 7th September at 2pm. For advice on where best to sit for these performances, please ask the box office when booking. Overall, I'd say The Globe is one of the best theatres in London for Access awareness and delivery and improvements made. For more information about the Globe and current and future productions, please visit their website at

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Union Theatre, Pipe Dream and Music That Matters

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for continuing to support Access for All to the Arts. Today's post looks at Access to one of London's hottest fringe theatres, The Union, and its current production, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream. There is also an interview with Kieran Brown who is currently starring as 'Doc' in Pipe Dream and is performing his own cabaret, 'Music That Matters', this coming August Bank Holiday Monday.
"Pipe Dream is the seventh musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; it premiered on Broadway on November 30, 1955. The work is based on John Steinbeck's short novel Sweet Thursday—Steinbeck wrote the novel, a sequel to Cannery Row, in the hope of having it adapted into a musical. Set in Monterey, California, the musical tells the story of the romance between Doc, a marine biologist, and Suzy, who works as a prostitute." The Union has made a name for itself in bringing lesser-known musicals and gems to London audiences at its home on Union Street in Southwark. This production of Pipe Dream marks the shows London Stage Premiere, 58 years after its Broadway one. The cast of 17, led by Kieran Brown as Doc and Charlotte Scott as Suzy is directed by Sasha Regan. Kieran Brown stars as 'Doc' in Pipe Dream, some of his other credits include, Phantom, Wicked, Love Never Dies and Les Miserables. He has regularly supported the work of Access London and has kindly agreed to once again answer a few questions. Thank You very much Kieran!
AL: Pipe Dream is not one of R&H's most well known shows. Why do you think this particular show of theirs was chosen for The Union? KB: The Union has a great reputation for taking lesser known shows, or taking pieces and doing something different with them. Our Director, Sasha Regan and Choreographer, Lizzi Gee's all male Pirates of Penzance springs to mind, so I think doing this very unknown piece from two of the best known musical theatre writers in history was a good choice for The Union. Sasha and Lizzi really tried to get to the root of the problems with the piece and fix whatever it was that didn't quite gel with audiences on Broadway. The have done a wonderful job, right down to the casting of each and every person in the show. The are genuinely all Awesome! AL: How does it feel to lead the London Premiere of an R&H musical? KB: Really exciting! As Ted Shaffer (President of the R&H Theatrical Europe pointed out, we are the first to have done this, it's being done for the first time so technically, we created it professionally after having to wait 58 years in the UK.
AL: The show really does have some superb choreography. What can you tell us about the piece for Doc's song 'The Man I Used To Be'? KB: Without giving too much away, Lizzi Gee has definitely created one of the highlights of the show (for me and some of the reviewers). It's incredibly creative, sweet and clever. Joshua Lovell, who I sort of 'Duet' with is a great dancer, light on his feet and a mean tapper! I'm definitely not....! AL: How did you go about preparing for this role? KB: Well, I read the novels it is based on 'Cannery Row' and 'Sweet Thursday' by John Steinbeck. With regards to the show, there wasn't all that much out there about it, other than Wikipedia articles about its failure to launch on Broadway in the 50s. I must admit, I was never really a R&H aficionado but I have fallen head over heels for this score. AL: In one sentence...why must audiences come and see this show? KB: London Premiere (it has taken 58 years to get here), super cast, creative, clever choreo and direction. A distraction from life's daily woes, very sweet without being over sentimental. That's two sentences, I know, but hey, nobody's perfect...!
The Union Theatre has level Access from street level (on Union Street, under the railway arches), through the small café and seating area at the front of the venue to the box office, located in the bar at the back. Through two sets of double doors is the theatre itself. The area is step free but if you are a wheelchair user or have other mobility problems, please be aware that some parts of the floor are a bit uneven. The theatre has 3 rows, the front of which is on floor level and can accommodate a wheelchair. The other 2 rows are 1 or 2 steps up into them. Tickets are unallocated for seating when booking online. However, if you ring the box office (most of the time this will go to an answer machine so leave your name and number), you can book a wheelchair space or request an end of row seat if you have mobility difficulties. The box office number is 020 7261 9876. For online bookings, click HERE . Pipe Dream is running at The Union until Saturday 31st August. Performances are Tuesday - Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm.
Kieran Brown will be performing his own cabaret, 'Music That Matters' on Monday 26th August AT 8:00pm at The Union Theatre. Tickets cost £15 (£12 for concessions) and can be booked through the box office on 020 7261 9876 (best for Access bookings). You can also book online HERE . To keep up to date with all of Kieran's news, follow him on Twitter @LuciferBox . You can also check out his website . Here's what Kieran had to say about his forthcoming cabaret... AL: What can people expect from the evening? KB: An evening of simply soulful, personal music, sung by some of my favourite performers (and friends)around town. AL: Why The Union as your chosen venue? KB: Well, I am doing Pipe Dream there at the moment. I have a tremendous affection for The Union. I know the space, the acoustics and the atmosphere and for what I have in mind for this show, it is perfect! AL: How did you go about making your song choices for this cabaret? KB: Each song means something very personal to me (and my guests). Songs that originate from my childhood, the beginnings of my career, right through to what is happening with me now, and a sneak peek into what is happening next... I also have two homages - one to the greenest girl in Oz and the other to my own icon from childhood right through to present day, Madonna!!! AL: What can you tell us about your guests for 'Music That Matters'? KB: I am utterly thrilled with who I have, some of my best friends have agreed to sing for and with me. My ex Les Mis cast mate, and partner in crime, Sophia Ragavelas, will be dueting with me on a song special to us. And Yorkshire's finest, the awesome Scott Garnham, will be singing something with me, no idea what yet though!! Both are currently in Title of a Show at The Landor. My favourite Aussie blonde bombshell, Erin Cornell, my Phantom co-star Kira Morsley, the girl with the best lungs and legs in Canada, Michelle Lafortune, my Pipe Dream love interest (and ex Wicked buddy) Charlotte Scott, Georgie Burdett and the gorgeous Loula Geater and Jeroen Robben (trust me ladies, and some gents, you won't want to miss him!). AL: Which 5 words best sum up 'Music That Matters'? KB: EEEEEK!!! Music, Matters, Laugh, Cry, Come!!!