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!!!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Chichester's Theatre in the Park & Barnum

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for supporting Access for All. Summer is finally here and many of us want a break from city life for a few days and escape to the country or coast. Today's post is about Chichester's new venue, Theatre in the Park, a great way to have a break from London and still get your theatre fix! Theatre in the Park is Chichester's new temporary venue, whilst its Festival Theatre is being refurbished. It is located in the park, next door to the Festival Theatre. The theatre's big Summer production is Barnum.
"‘Barnum’s the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!’ This exhilarating musical follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s Greatest Showman. The story of his life and his marriage to Chairy reveals a couple who looked at the world from opposite sides of the spectrum, and also reveals that she was the practical one who made his dreams come true. We follow the legendary showman’s life as he lit up the world with the colour, warmth and excitement of his imagination and finally teamed up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus - the Greatest Show on Earth. Cy Coleman’s wonderfully exuberant score includes the hits Come Follow The Band, The Colours Of My Life and There’s A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute. Barnum will be produced especially for the Theatre in the Park, Festival 2013’s magnificent temporary auditorium, its vast tented environment creating the perfect home for this brilliant, uplifting musical, shot through with the magic of circus."
Access Info: Theatre in the Park has 8 wheelchair spaces that can be accessed by lift or ramp. This is currently the largest temporary theatre in the UK with a lift inside, allowing wheelchair users and those with mobility problems more flexibility in where there choose to sit. At the moment, you cannot transfer from a wheelchair into a theatre seat. The Minerva Theatre is still in use this Summer and has 2 wheelchair spaces that can be accessed via a lift to the 1st floor. Patrons with disabilities are entitled to a 40% discount on tickets for themselves and 1 companion. In order to qualify for this discount, you simply need to fill in the Access List application form that can be found on the Theatre's website. The application only requires basic information and is usually processed very quickly. If however you have specific dates in mind that you wish to see the show, you can reserve tickets through the box office and then pay for them (within 4 days) once your application has been accepted. Because of the current building work on the site, the Festival Theatre car park is not in use. You can however still drop off just outside but will need to drive elsewhere to park. From the drop off point, it is a very short distance to the bottom of the park. From here there is a free buggy service that can take you up to the theatre itself.
For those patrons with hearing impairments, Sennheiser units are available free of charge from the Access Point in the Theatre in the Park foyer and from staff on the first floor of the Minerva Theatre. Assistance dogs are welcome in both theatres but please let the box office know when you book your tickets as spaces are limited per performance. All end of row letters and individual seat numbers are in braille in both theatres. Touch Tours for visually impaired customers will take place 90 minutes before an audio described performance and last approximately 30 minutes. For more information, please contact the House Manager on 01243 784437. Audio Described performances for Barnum are on the following dates: Friday 9 August evening, Saturday 10 August matinee, Friday 23 August evening, Saturday 24 August matinee. There is a signed performance of Barnum on Thursday 22 August evening. There is also a captioned performance of Barnum on Saturday 31 August matinee. For Access performances to all other shows at Theatre in the Park and the Minerva, please see the Access performances page on their website HERE . For details of Chichester's Access List and to join, please see their Access List page HERE .
Barnum is running at Theatre in the Park until 31st August 2013. Performances are Monday - Saturday evenings at 7.30pm and also matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm. To book Access tickets for Barnum and all other shows at Theatre in the Park and the Minerva, please call the box office directly on 01243 781312.