Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas from Access London

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts. Firstly, Merry Christmas to all the readers and supporters and here's to more changes and improvements to Access in 2013. 2012 has seen many positive changes and feedback from theatres and arts venues on Access. This includes the Royal Albert Hall who do have some serious issues to look at in terms of physical access as well as communication. However, they've made a positive start on it this year after many of the issues raised by Access London have been looked at and I thank you all for sending me stories of your experiences there. I am hopeful things will continue to improve in 2013. Other Arts venues continue to improve their already excellent Access lists and schemes including, Southbank Centre, The Barbican and The National and I hope that some of these ideas can one day be transferred to West End theatres/groups. Thank you once again to everyone who sends in feedback of theatres and venues you've visited and their Access, whether good or bad.
As passionate as I am about Access London and the issues it raises and fights for, I couldn't do it without the support of singers, actors and dancers who give their time and show support for what Access London aims to achieve. Below are Christmas messages from some who have been amazing with their support and I'd like to take this opportunity to again thank every single one of them, it really is much appreciated. To the readers, I hope you enjoy reading the messages as much as I did. Merry Christmas Everyone. x
Michael Xavier: "Sending lots of love and Christmas cheer to all those who support Access London. Thank you for your efforts and may 2013 be a lucky year for you all. x" Michael is currently playing Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! at the Leicester Curve until the 19th January 2013. To book tickets, see their website . You can follow Michael on Twitter @michaelxavierMX
Rebecca Caine: "One of my New Year resolutions is not to take anything for granted. The fact I am able to see any show I want is something I never thought about until I realised that many venues are not accessible to disabled people. Something that is so easy for me and gives me such joy should be accessible to everyone. Thankyou Claire for all your work in this area. And let's hope that 2013 sees more and more venues making sure that theatre is accessible to everyone." You can keep up to date with all of Rebecca's concerts for 2013 on her website . You can also follow her on Twitter @RebeccaCaine
Nick Wyschna: "Happy Christmas to all readers and supporters of Access London from all of us at Guildford Fringe Theatre Company. It's a pleasure to be associated with Claire and I pledge our support in any way we can in the coming years. Much love, Nick Wyschna." You can keep up to date with Guildford Fringe's shows and news by signing up to their newsletter HERE . Or check out their website . You can also follow Nick on Twitter @NickWyschna
AJ Callaghan: "Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Please spread the festive cheer and remember those less fortunate with a simple gesture of buying someone, cold and alone, a hot drink and a sandwich and don't forget our four legged friends by donating a can of food to an animal rescue centre. It's the small gestures that make Christmas special." AJ is currently in Les Miserables at Queens Theatre, London and covers the role of Fantine. Her next Fantine dates are the 11th and 12th January 2013. To book Access tickets for Les Miserables, call the Access line on 0844 482 5137. You can also follow AJ on Twitter @AJCallaghan1
Will Barratt: "Very Merry Christmas to all the readers of Access London. Thank you for enjoying and supporting the arts, as I fully support Access for All. x" Will was part of the cast of Sweeney Todd at The Adelphi this year. To keep up to date with his news and projects, follow him on Twitter @willbarratt83
Jo Loxton: "Wishing everyone at Access London a fantastic Christmas and wonderful new year and here's to more support for Accessible Theatre in 2013! Much Love xxx" Jo will be joining the cast of Dear World as it makes its UK Premiere at the Charing Cross Theatre from the 4th February 2013. For tickets, visit their website . You can also follow Jo on Twitter @Joloxton
Chris Jenkins: "Huge Season's Greetings to Claire and all her lovely readers. Eat, Drink and be Happy!" Chris is currently performing in Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre in London. To book Access tickets to see Spamalot, call the Access line on 0844 871 7677. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrisjenko
Sofia Escobar: "Christmas is a magical time, a time for love, for family, for music and all round happiness! I wish you all a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and sparkles!" Sofia is currently playing Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera. To book Access tickets to Phantom, call the Access line on 08444 124648. You can also follow Sofia on Twitter @sofia_escobar
Lee Bowen: "Wishing everyone involved and all readers of Access London a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let's make 2013 an even bigger year for Access London, and push out the message that theatre is for everyone, and we all have the right to enjoy the rich variety of the arts." Lee will be playing Mr Upfold in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring during Britten's centenary year and celebrations in 2013 with Mid Wales Opera that will be touring to London. You can follow Lee on Twitter @LeeBowenTenor
John Owen-Jones: "To all at Access London....Nadolig Llawen! JOJ" For details of John's concerts in 2013, see his website HERE . John's newly released single 'May Each Day' can also be purchased from HERE . You can follow John on Twitter @johnowenjones
Danny Whitehead: "Dear readers of Access London, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope that 2013 will bring health and happiness. I am a firm believer that Theatre and the arts play a vital role in our communities and that is why I am so passionate about performing and enjoy it so much. "The role of theatre in our society is difficult to define, for the theatre has almost an infinitive number of functions". Because of this, the importance of how accessible theatres, concert halls and arts venues are for absolutely everybody is extremely high. The fantastic work Access London do in highlighting this fact to theatres and venues is something that is particularly close to my heart as my mum and dad have worked and cared for adults and children with mental and physical disabilities for over twenty years. I have become very close to a lot of the people they work with and they have wanted to come and support me in many of the shows and concerts I have performed in, this has been getting easier to organise over the past year or so with venues improving their access and hospitality for all audience members. This improvement is down to the likes of Access London sharing information and bringing the issue of equal access to the theatre Management. I hope that 2013 is the year when all theatres realise how important it is to have Access for All! Have a fantastic Christmas!! Danny Whitehead xx" Danny was in the recent production of South Pacific that was at London's Barbican before touring the UK. To keep up to date with Danny's news and projects, follow him on Twitter @DannyWhitehead_
Victoria Farley: "As a professional actress, I understand the importance of supporting the arts, and I thank everyone who keeps this industry flourishing by their continued interest and support. I would like to believe that every person has the opportunity to participate in the rich culutural and artistic sector this country has to offer, regardless of any given disability. Earlier this year I was made aware of the Access London scheme and was shocked to realise how many London theatres/institutions are unable to accommodate certain disabilities. Learning about the scheme has given me the determination to help make a difference, and to encourage people to give some support to the people who support us. I would like to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy some festive cheer and sparkly celebrations. I wish 2013 to bring love and support to this important scheme and equal opportunities for all. Lots of love and a big Christmas smile, Victoria x" Victoria played Rosa in The Mystery of Edwin Drood earlier this year at the Arts Theatre and is currently Wendy in Peter Pan at the Towngate Theatre. To book tickets, see their WEBSITE . You can follow Victoria on Twitter @victoria_farley
Richard Halton: "To all readers of Access London, Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2013! xx" Richard is a singer, both opera and musical theatre, and a vocal coach. To keep up with all of Richard's news and projects, see his website HERE . You can also follow him on Twitter @richiehalton
Simon Shorten: "Wishing all the readers of Access London an amazing Christmas and new year. Thank you all for your continued support. x" Simon is currently in Phantom of the Opera and is House Cover for The Phantom. To book Access tickets for Phantom, call the Access line on 08444 124648. You can keep up to date with Simon's news and projects for 2013 on his website HERE . You can also follow Simon on Twitter @SiShorten
Claire Cook: "Wishing all at Access London a wonderful Christmas and a Happy and exciting New Year! Best wishes to all, Claire xxx" Claire is currently Dance Captain for Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. You can follow Claire on Twitter @CookClaire
Paul Keating: "Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas & New Year. I hope you get to enjoy some time off! I'm making the most of life without the '8 show week' this year and intend to gorge myself, whilst relaxing with my family & friends. Thank you all for supporting London Theatre Access throughout 2012!" Paul played the Scarecrow in the recent production of the Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. To keep up to date with Paul's news, follow him on Twitter @1PaulKeating

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The National Theatre & The Magistrate

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for supporting Access for All to the Arts. London's Southbank is home to many arts venues including The National Theatre building which houses three theatres, The Olivier, The Lyttelton and The Cottesloe. With many productions running at the same time, there's always something different to watch at The National.
The Magistrate, a farce set in Victorian London, is currently playing at The Olivier... "With his louche air and a developed taste for smoking, gambling, port and women, it’s hard to believe Cis Farringdon is only fourteen. And that’s because he isn’t. Agatha his mother lopped five years from her true age and his when she married the amiable Posket. Well, when I heard the new dad was a police magistrate, I was scared. Said I to myself, “If I don’t mind my Ps and Qs, the Guv’nor – from force of habit – will fine me all my pocket-money.” The imminent arrival of Cis’ godfather sends Agatha incognito to the Hôtel des Princes to warn him of her deception. But it’s also where her son has cajoled his otherwise staid stepfather into joining him for a binge. High-spirited carousing leads to a police raid and a night of outrageous mishap as the trapped guests make desperate attempts to conceal themselves from the law and from each other. Indignities escalate at court the next day where Posket, the police magistrate, must preside."
With a cast that includes, John Lithgow, Nancy Carroll, Peter Polycarpou, Joshua Mcguire, Beverly Rudd, Sarah Ovens and Christina Cole, it's one not to miss. The Magistrate will also be broadcast Live via National Theatre Live to selected cinemas nationwide on January 17th 2013. Performances at The Olivier run until the 10th February 2013, please see the National Theatre's website for more details on dates and times of performances. National Theatre Access: All entrances have wide, glass swing doors. There are semi-automatic doors on either side of the main riverside entrance. There is also free parking available to blue badge holders in the underground car park (take your blue badge, theatre ticket and car park ticket to the information desk to receive your free exit ticket). Wheelchairs are also available to borrow at The National but please ring in advance to check availability and to book on 020 7452 3000. The backstage tours run at The National are fully accessible, please notify box office of any requirements when you book. Free cast lists are available in large print and braille from the front information desk. For those requiring audio-described performances, a free mailing list is available in large print, braille or CD format, please phone 020 7452 3238 to order your copy.
The National has an audio-described programme and touch tours for those with visual impairments and captioned performances for deaf or partially hearing patrons. There are also relaxed performances. Audio Described Performances for The Magistrate: Friday 4th January 2013 (7.30pm) and Saturday 5th January 2013 (2.00pm) with a touch tour at 12.30pm. Captioned Performances of The Magistrate: Thursday 10th January 2013 (7.30pm) and Tuesday 22nd January 2013 (7.30pm).
The Magistrate is playing in The Olivier Theatre. Access Information: To reach both the stalls and circle, use the lifts from either the foyer or underground car park. Stalls: 5 wheelchair spaces are available at the back of the stalls and the back row (R) is one small step up. All other seats are accessed via steps (25 down to the front). Please note that there is no handrail on the centre aisle (Level 2). Circle: Level access is available to Row G. There are 18 steps down to the front at Row A. The steps are steep but there are handrails (Level 3). Assistance dogs can be taken into the auditorium or front of house staff can look after them for you.
The National Theatre's Access List is free to join for those with a disability. You can print off, fill in and post the form from the website or fill it in online and email it to them. It enables you to describe the requirements you have. Once the form has been processed, you will be given a password for their online bookings or you can ring the box office for tickets on 020 7452 3000 and will be entitled to their concessionary rates on tickets. It's well worth the few minutes it takes to fill in the form!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Chariots of Fire @ The Gielgud Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts.
Chariots of Fire: "Adapted from the legendary Oscar-winning movie, this spectacular and ingenious retelling of Eric Liddell's and Harold Abrahams' quest to become the fastest men on earth is an electrifying and immensely moving tale of two men's rivalry, and their unwavering determination to conquer the world in the face of prejudice, immovable beliefs and overwhelming odds. Featuring the original, hugely iconic Vangelis score and a magnificent ensemble cast, Chariots of Fire brings alive the incredible true story of two British athletes whose honour, sacrifice and courage brought them glory and immortality on the greatest sporting stage of all." Chariots of Fire is 'running' at the Gielgud Theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue, until the 2nd February 2013. Performances are on Monday-Saturday evenings at 7.45pm and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 3.00pm. Please note that there will be some changes to the performance schedule over the Christmas and new year period. To see the schedule for this time visit The Gielgud Theatre Website For Country, For Honour, Forever.
Access Information: If you are a wheelchair or scooter user, just notify someone at the front of the theatre upon arrival and a side Exit door will be opened for you on Rupert Street (third door along). There is one step at this door but there is ramp that can be placed over it to allow for access. There is step-free access to the foyer bar where there is also an accessible WC. There are 2 dedicated wheelchair spaces in the dress circle (at either end of row B). Alternatively, if you can transfer, seats B5 and B30 in the dress circle are step-free. The theatre has an infra-red system with 12 headsets that can be borrowed from the foyer - note that a receipt must be signed for the use of these upon presenting ID. Assistance dogs are allowed into the auditorium, alternatively, staff can sit with the dog during the performance. Everyone at the theatre is extremely helpful and has great disability awareness. Please be aware that strobe lighting and a starting pistol are used during this production.
Discounted Access tickets are available to those with a disability and a companion (depending on availability at each performance). To book Access tickets for Chariots of Fire, please call Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Access line on 0844 482 5137 and select the option for the Gielgud Theatre. This takes you directly through to the box office at the theatre.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Brookside Theatre and 'Deathtrap'

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts. This post heads away from central London and towards the London/Essex border, to the Brookside Theatre and their current production, Deathtrap.
The theatre is based within the Romford War Memorial Social Club, a fitting tribute as today is Remembrance Day...."The Brookside Theatre is a voluntarily run organisation and the home of Stage One Theatre Company, an award-winning, Romford-based theatre group established in 1991. The theatre is based within the Romford War Memorial Social Club (RWMSC) on Eastern Road and the main purpose of all events held at the theatre is to raise money and awareness for the club which is a registered charity as well as a registered war memorial. The RWMSC was officially opened on the 11th October, 1953, by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lt.-Col Sir Francis Whitmore, to commemorate the residents, civilians and service personnel of Romford who tragically lost their lives during WWII. The main purpose of the charity is to provide social activities to the senior citizens of Romford and Havering.
In 2012, Stage One Theatre Company performed the first fundraising event for the RWMSC at the Brookside Theatre. This event marked the first of many planned to help fund the renovations and support to the RWMSC, a worthwhile charity within the community. With its 60th anniversary in October 2013, further funds are needed to complete renovation works to both the main hall and also the front building, which houses the commemorative panels listing the names of the fallen which were donated by the US Air Force in recognition of the hospitability they received when stationed in Romford during WWII. Independent of any council or applied funding, The Brookside Theatre is entirely self sufficient, thanks to kind donations, ticket sales, membership subscriptions and the 'Friends’ of The Brookside Theatre. Any person over the age of 16 is welcome to join the volunteers working at the theatre and will be encouraged and taught to develop skills: whether that be acting, marketing, set building, sound or costume design etc. The Brookside Theatre is proud to survive through the dedication of its volunteers."
Brookside's current production is the comedy thriller, Deathtrap, which runs until Saturday 17th November (evening performances at 8.00pm and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.00pm). "A play to kill for... Writer Sidney Bruhl's luck has run out. Once the toast of Broadway, he hasn't had a hit play in years... Young and aspiring playwright, Clifford Anderson, a student of one of Sidney's writing classes, just so happens to have written the perfect play - 'Deathtrap'. Desperate for success, Sidney would do anything to claim Clifford's play as his own. And then he comes up with a killer idea..." Written by Ira Levin and Directed by Neil Reynolds ( @neilreynolds ), Deathtrap's cast includes, CJ de Mooi (Sidney Bruhl) James Meunier (Clifford Anderson) Helen Jeckells (Myra Bruhl) Nicki French (Helga ten Dorp) Clifford Hume (Porter Milgrim).
Access Information: Parking spaces for those with Access needs can be pre-booked via the box office. The theatre is located behind another building and there isn't a great deal of street lighting around, so please be aware of this when arriving and leaving in the dark. From the car park, there is a gentle ramp up to the entrance, with handrails on either side. The building itself is all on one level, so there is no issue with stairs. The box office is lowered and there is plenty of room inside for wheelchair or scooter users. Although, there is level access to toilet facilities, at the present time, there is no adapted accessible toilet - an issue I am told is being looked at. The chairs in the theatre are not fixed and so seating can be arranged and adapted to suit the needs of those with disabilities - please notify box office at time of booking. There are ticket concessions available for disabled patrons and one companion. To book Access tickets, please call the box office on: 01708 755775. For all other tickets and to find out more about the theatre and its productions, please visit their website at

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Les Miserables @ Queen's Theatre & Q&A with Rebecca Caine and AJ Callaghan

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access For All to the Arts. Opening on the 8th of October 1985 at The Barbican Theatre, Les Miserables is the world's longest running musical and will celebrate its 27th birthday in just over a weeks time. After a short run at The Barbican Theatre, the show transferred to The Palace Theatre in London's West End in December 1985 and spent 18 years there. In 2004, the show moved to its current home at The Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Access Information - Queen's Theatre: If you are a wheelchair or mobility scooter user or cannot manage stairs, please inform a member of staff upon arrival and they will escort you round to the Accessible entrance. The Accessible entrance to the auditorium is through the fourth side door on Wardour Street. If you are able to transfer from your chair, level transfers are available in row D (may not be suitable for very low seated wheelchairs) in the Dress Circle. Chairs and scooters will be taken and stored at the bottom of the stairs, next to the foyer. If you are a scooter user and prefer not to leave your key with a member of staff, you can drive the scooter there yourself and walk back up to your seat (back up a ramped walkway with handrails). For those needing/wishing to remain in their chairs, spaces are available in Loge 1 and 2 for you and a companion. These will be suitable for wheelchairs which are maximum 1m in length and 64cm wide. For those who can manage some stairs, the Queen's has: 18 steps from the foyer up to the rear Dress Circle. 21 steps from the foyer down to the Stalls. 39 steps from the foyer up to the Upper Circle (this area is quite steep). Assistance dogs are allowed into the auditorium or staff can sit with them during the performance.
Queen's is fitted with an infra-red system and there are 12 headsets available to use upon request and with the production of ID (please inform booking line if you require this service).These are available from the foyer (please ask a member of staff if you are unable to manage stairs), a receipt must be signed and £5 returnable deposit left. There is an Accessible WC next to the foyer, it can be accessed by radar key, or ask a member of staff for assistance to open it. None of the bars at Queen's are Accessible without negotiating stairs but drinks can be brought into the auditorium to those with disabilities. There is a discounted Access rate available to those with a disability, for you and a companion. Please note, there are a very limited number of Access discounted seats per performance and, for such a popular show, early booking is advised if you'd like to take advantage of these rates. To book Access seats and for all other Access information, please call the box office directly on 0844 482 5137 and press the option for the Queen's Theatre. There are occasional captioned and audio-described performances of Les Miserables scheduled. For details of the next performance, please call 0844 482 5166. A lot of readers have been asking me what singers and actors' knowledge and opinions of Access (and sometimes lack of Access) to our theatres and arts venues means to them. So, I've put some of your questions to them and will be posting a series of mini Q&As with some fabulously talented people. As this post's Access information was on Les Miserables, today's mini Q&A is with both the Original Cosette, Rebecca Caine, and current Les Mis cast member (and cover Fantine) AJ Callaghan. Thank you very much to both for their constant support.
Many theatres/arts venues in London still have little or no disabled access. How aware are you of these issues? And how aware do you think other people in the business are? RC: I wasn't at all aware and I'm shocked. I don't think most of us have much of an idea about these issues. AJC: From working front of house at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and talking to some of the disabled patrons, I am actually very aware of this. Drury Lane has a very good system in place which highlights the discrepancies in other venues. Unfortunately, due to the way theatres are built and because of the time they were built, not all of them have street level access to the auditorium. For instance, just across the road from Drury Lane, is The Fortune Theatre; this theatre has a very small entrance and access to all seating is either up or down stairs, which could be extremely problematic for a disabled patron. With regards to other people's awareness, I'm not really sure. It's not a conversation I've heard backstage recently but this doesn't mean people aren't aware.
As a singer and actor, how important is it to you that everyone who wants to see you perform can access the venue to do so? RC: It’s very, very important to me! AJC: Very Important. Everybody should have access to the arts.
Many theatres and theatre groups currently don't promote and publicise their Access details and rates particularly well. Could this be because they don't want to sell discounted Access tickets or do you think other reasons could be involved? RC: I don't know. Maybe. In the end it's all about the bottom line, sadly. AJC: Unfortunately, Theatre has become part of the corporate world. Making money is a very high priority, if not top of the list of aims for most shows these days. Therefore I hate to say it, but I think maybe it is a case of wanting to sell the seats at top price, rather than advertise a discounted rate, no matter who is affected as a result.
Some of the larger arts venues (Barbican, RFH, RAH, ROH, Coliseum) have their own Access schemes with free membership, large info packs, Access rates, dedicated Access teams. Do you think such schemes could work in West End and off West End theatres? RC: Interesting about those larger venues as they are subsidised. Yes, I believe it would work in the West End also. AJC: Definitely! As I mentioned earlier, Drury Lane has a brilliant access scheme. A separate entrance with a doorbell, which welcome’s the patrons at street level, taking you directly to the access seats. The disabled toilet is also in this area and the seats are set on a wider aisle, making it easier for people who aren't transferring to sit comfortably. An access host is employed on site whose job it is to ensure the well-being of access patrons and that all venue information is relayed proficiently. With a bit of thought and effort, I'm sure this system could be brought in to most, if not all, West End theatres. Any message to theatre owners and groups about the future of Access for All at their venues? RC: GET ON WITH IT. Theatre is for all. AJC: Just that arts audiences should not be defined in any way. Theatre should be accessible to all and as a theatre owner, it is your responsibility to make this possible.
Once again, a big Thank You to both Rebecca and AJ for taking the time to answer those. Rebecca will be returning to The Pheasantry (on the King's Road, London) to perform No, No Cosette! again on the 12th and 13th October. A fabulous evening... "Internationally acclaimed operatic and musical theatre soprano reveals her dark side. Music by Blitzstein, Vernon Duke, Turnage, Ravenhill/Offenbach, Kern, Porter, Novello, Yeston, Coward and more. With Nathan Martin on piano." The Pheasantry, unfortunately, can only be Accessed via a flight of stairs. If you can manage these, then it's a night not to be missed. To book for the 12th October, go HERE . For the 13th October, go HERE . For details of Rebecca's concerts, in Canada this Autumn and Winter, see her WEBSITE . Follow Rebecca on Twitter @RebeccaCaine .
AJ is currently performing in Les Miserables until June 2013. Her next dates as Fantine are: 1st & 2nd October, 11th-20th October and 29th November-1st December. To book Access seats for Les Miserables, call 0844 482 5137. Follow AJ on Twitter @AJCallaghan1 .

Monday, 20 August 2012

Soho Cinders at Soho Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for continuing to support Access for All to the Arts. This Summer, Stiles and Drewe's production of Soho Cinders Premieres at the Soho Theatre, located on Dean Street, in the heart of Soho.
"Edgy, fun and deliciously naughty, Soho Cinders celebrates the capital’s most colourful district and is set to get London’s temperature soaring this summer. When impoverished student Robbie becomes romantically involved with engaged Mayoral candidate James Prince, his lap-dancing step-sisters become the least of his problems! James and Robbie’s worlds collide forcing them to fight for their own fairy-tale ending in this hilarious, satirical twist on the classic Cinderella story. The potent mix of politics, sex-scandals and true love come together in this contemporary musical with an infectious score that you’ll be humming long past the stroke of midnight!"
The cast includes Michael Xavier @michaelxavierMX Amy Lennox @misslenn Tom Milner @thomaskmilner Neil McCaul, Suzie Chard, Beverly Rudd @BevRudd Gerard Carey, Raj Ghatak @RajGhatak Jenna Russell, Amanda Posener, Lewis Barnshaw @LewisBarnshaw Vivien Carter, Christopher Doyle, Julian Hoult @JulianHoult23 Lewis Kirk @LewisKirk Joshua Lovell @JoshuaLovell90 Nigel Roche, Philippa Stefani @PhilippaStefani And the voice of Stephen Fry @stephenfry
"Bang in the creative heart of London, Soho Theatre is a major new writing theatre and a writers’ development organisation of national significance. With a programme spanning theatre, comedy, cabaret and writers’ events and home to a lively bar, Soho Theatre is one of the most vibrant venues on London’s cultural scene." ACCESS INFORMATION: The Main Theatre has an infra-red system fitted and 5 headsets are available to borrow from the box office. Assistance dogs are allowed into the theatre and auditorium. Alternatively, staff can dog-sit during the performance (a maximum of 2 dogs are allowed per performance). The box office and bar are on the ground floor and have level Access from the street. From here, the other floors are Accessible to wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties by lift. The lift can accommodate wheelchairs, scooters should be left in the foyer area. Seating is unreserved for Soho Cinders. However, if you need a wheelchair space or have any other Access requirements, please inform staff when booking tickets and seats/spaces will be reserved for you. There is space to allocate up to 7 wheelchairs in the front row, which is also the most suitable for anyone with impaired mobility. All of the staff are incredibly helpful. There are also Accessible toilets on the ground, 2nd and 3rd floors. Please note that the Soho area does have some issues with dropped kerbs and not all roads have them, so allow some extra time to get to the theatre. If coming from the direction of Shaftesbury Avenue, it is best to stay on the left hand side of Dean Street until opposite the theatre and then cross over just before it. The kerb here isn't completely flat but is still manageable. For more Access information, see the theatre's Access page HERE
Soho Cinders runs at the Soho Theatre until Sunday 9th September 2012. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 8.00pm, Fridays at 5.30pm and 9.00pm, Saturdays at 4.00pm and 8.00pm, Sundays at 4.00pm. Those with Access requirements can get a free companion ticket at the time of booking. Please ensure that you let the box office know of any requirements in advance. To book Access tickets, call the box office directly on 020 7478 0100. All other tickets can be booked online via the theatre HERE

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Sound Of Music & Kilworth House Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You for continuing to support Access for All to the Arts. Today's post focuses on a venue outside of London...Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire and its forthcoming production of The Sound Of Music.
"'The Sound of Music' is quite simply one of the most popular musicals of all time. As their final collaboration Rodgers and Hammerstein have created a true classic of musical theatre based on the heartwarming, true story of the Trapp Family Singers. Maria, a young nun in an Austrian convent regularly misses her morning prayers preferring to go to the hills to sing. Deciding that Maria is too high spirited and needs to learn something about the real world before she can take her vows, the Mother Superior dispatches her to serve as a governess for the children of the widowed Captain Von Trapp. Rodgers and Hammerstein's unforgettable score delivers some of the most memorable songs ever written for the musical stage including 'Edelweiss', 'My Favourite Things', 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' 'Do-Re-Mi' and, of course, the title song. 'The Sound of Music' originally opened on Broadway in November 1959 and since then has gone on to touch the hearts of all ages around the world. Uplifting , fun yet always moving 'The Sound of Music' is an unmissable treat for all the family."
Running at Kilworth House Theatre, set in the beautiful grounds of Kilworth House, this is a show not to be missed this Summer. The Sound Of Music runs from the 21st August until the 16th September 2012. Evening performances start at 7.30pm Tuesday-Sunday, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and some Sundays. The fabulous cast for this production includes.... Helena Blackman (Maria) @helenablackman Rebecca Caine (Elsa) @RebeccaCaine Ian Knaur (Georg) Russell Wilcox (Max) @russwilcox Dom Hodson (Rolf) @DomHodson Jan Hartley (Mother Abbess) Hazel Gardner (Liesl) @IAmHazelGardner
Access Information: "The whole of the Kilworth House Theatre site including the car park is accessible for wheelchair usersand those with mobility difficulties. Within the auditorium there are four spaces on Row A reserved for wheelchair users. In each case there is a seat next to the wheelchair space for an accompanying person. We prefer to speak directly to the customer about their specific needs and allocate them the best seats available to serve these needs. There are reserved parking spaces for wheelchair users only and we have our own wheelchair available on request. Access between the Hotel and the Theatre: There is a well marked path between the hotel and the theatre suitable, if necessary, for a wheelchair. For clients with mobility difficulties we can provide transport by golf buggy between the hotel and the theatre entrance and vice versa, commencing one hour before and immediately after the show. Hearing Impairment: The theatre has installed an induction loop system for those who use a hearing aid. It is necessary to set your hearing aid to the T position before the performance starts. Assistance Dogs: Kilworth House Theatre welcomes assistance dogs and is happy to cater for their needs when attending a performance. Please notify the box office when booking to enable us to allocate the best seats available to serve their needs.
I found box office staff dealing with Access bookings to be extremely helpful. The Sound Of Music's Access tickets policy allows for a free companion ticket to be booked alongside the Access ticket. Access tickets need to be booked via the box office directly on 01858 881939 (Mon-Fri 10am - 4pm). For more information about Kilworth House Theatre, please see their site at *Some text and images taken from Kilworth House Theatre website. Additional images from Rebecca Caine

Monday, 9 July 2012

Sweeney Todd & The Adelphi Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for helping to support Access for All to the Arts in London. This post updates Access information for the Adelphi Theatre and performance dates for Sweeney Todd around the 2012 Olympics.
"Direct from a sell-out season at Chichester Festival Theatre, where it received multiple five-star reviews and standing ovations, Jonathan Kent’s production of Sweeney Todd is unmissable. Laced with dark humour, dazzling wit and an infectious score Sondheim’s musical thriller has been hailed as ‘a masterwork’ (The Sunday Times) and ‘wickedly funny’ (Guardian). Set in London and laced with Sondheim's characteristically brilliant wit and dark humour, the musical depicts Sweeney Todd's savage quest for justice and retribution after years of false imprisonment. Aided and abetted by the pie-shop owner, Mrs Lovett, he sets out to avenge the wrongs done to him and his family. Combining a gory sensibility with elements of English music hall, the production offers a fascinating portrait of a man driven to madness by injustice and grief." Located on The Strand, The Adelphi theatre has very good Access. There is a ramp at the entrance, up into the foyer, this is located to the right of the main doors that have one step up into the foyer. Once inside, there is level Access from the foyer into the Stalls. The foyer also has an Accessible WC. There are spaces for 2 wheelchairs at the back on the stalls (please note that the view can be slightly restricted because of the Dress Circle overhang). Alternatively, if you can transfer, any aisle seat in the Stalls can be booked (depending on availability). Up to 4 wheelchairs or scooters can be stored in the foyer per performance. Assistance dogs are welcome in the auditorium. Or, staff can dog-sit during the performance in the Manager's office. The theatre has an infra-red system, with a limited number of headsets available from the box office. The box office also has an induction loop. There is however no coverage in: Stalls – from Row R to rear, Dress Circle from Row J to rear and Upper Circle from Row F to rear at this time.
Sweeney Todd runs at the Adelphi until the 22nd September 2012. Performances are Monday-Saturday at 7.30pm and matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Please note, there will be no performances between the 30th July and the 11th August. Access tickets are priced at £25 each for you and one companion. To book Access seats, please call the Access booking line on 0844 412 4648. Attend The Tale!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The 39 Steps & The Criterion Theatre

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for taking the time to support Access to the Arts for All.
>"Playing both the West End and Broadway, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps, brilliantly and hilariously recreated as the smash hit Olivier Award Winning Best New Comedy. This blissfully funny show follows the incredible adventures of our handsome hero Richard Hannay, complete with stiff-upper-lip, British gung-ho and pencil moustache as he encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents, and, of course, devastatingly beautiful women. This wonderfully inventive and gripping comedy thriller features four fearless actors, playing 139 roles in 100 minutes of fast-paced fun and thrilling action." The Cast: London Criterion Theatre ANDREW ALEXANDER: Richard Hannay CATHERINE BAILEY: Annabella Schmidt/Pamela/Margaret STEPHEN CRITCHLOW: Man IAN HUGHES: Man SABRINA CARTER: Understudy Annabella Schmidt/Pamela/Margaret LEE RANNS: Understudy Hannay TOM WALKER: Understudy Man
The Criterion Theatre can be found in the centre of the West End, on Piccadilly Circus. The theatre is located below street level and so the main entrance only has Access to the auditorium via steps. However, there is a separate entrance at the back of the theatre, on Jermyn Street (next to the Stage Door), that provides step-free Access to the Upper Circle. Simply show your tickets to someone at the front of the theatre on Piccadilly and they will direct you to the Accessible entrance where someone will meet you. Inside the Accessible entrance there is a slope down to the Upper Circle, there is also an Accessible WC just before you get into the auditorium. There are spaces for 2 wheelchairs in the Upper Circle and also transfer seats for wheelchair and scooter users. Transfer seats do have 1 step up into the row.
There is a portable induction loop available at the Box Office and a Sennheiser infra-red hearing system in all parts of the auditorium. Headsets are available for patrons from the Cloakroom (if you are using the step-free entrance, please ask a member of staff to collect one for you). Occasional sign language interpreted performances are also played - please contact the Box Office for dates and more information on 020 7839 8811. Assistance dogs are not allowed into the auditorium but staff can dog-sit during the performance - a maximum of 2 dogs per performance. There is no step-free Access to a bar at the Criterion. However, drinks can be brought to disabled patrons. To book Discounted Access Tickets for The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre, please call the theatre directly on 020 7839 8811 and ask to be put through to the Box Office. Discounted Access Tickets are usually £15 each for disabled patrons and 1 companion.