Autumn 2019 highlights – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
With the Spring 2019 season drawing to a close the Belgrade Theatre Coventry is already getting ready for an exciting new season ahead. Here's our Autumn/Winter round-up to wet your whistle...
Hanif Kureishi’s Oscar-nominated 1985 screenplay is revisited in a bold new staging of My Beautiful Laundrette from the Belgrade Theatre, Curve Leicester, Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and Leeds Playhouse, (Oct 29-Nov 2). Set in London during the Thatcher years, this culture clash comedy tells the story of young British Pakistani Omar, who transforms his uncle’s run-down launderette into a thriving business with the help of old school friend Johnny. During a confrontation with a fascist gang, Omar recognises Johnny and uses their shared history to defuse the situation. As they work together to renovate the laundrette, love blossoms. Rona Munro’s innovative new Frankenstein places its author Mary Shelley centre stage, exploring the stark realities of her life that led to the creation of her gothic masterpiece. Drawing parallels between the experiences of revolutionary women then and now, (Oct 2-12).
The Belgrade is one of the venues hosting a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer recently announced by Curve Leicester, Anthology Theatre and Simon Friend as part of a UK tour (Oct 15-19). Transporting the action to 1982 against the backdrop of the Falklands War, this innovative adaptation will see Shane Richie take the lead as washed-up comic Archie Rice. The play was chosen by Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century! Interestingly, a new adaptation of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes from The Classic Thriller Theatre Company stars husband and wife Juliet Mills (Wild at Heart, Passions) and former 80’s Dynasty and Grease 2 star Maxwell Caulfield (Sept 24-28).
Early 2020 sees the Belgrade is teaming up with Eclipse Theatre again to present the premiere of Janice Okoh’s The Gift following the success of 2016’s A Raisin in the Sun. This outrageous comedy-drama explores themes of imperialism, inter-racial adoption, cultural appropriation and drinking tea through the eyes of two people called Sarah – one in 1852, the other in the present day, (Jan 18-25). Mischief Theatre makes a welcome return to Coventry with Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Feb 25-29), the smash-hit follow-up to their multi-award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery
The Olivier Award-winning company, OperaUpClose, is back with the premiere of their new English version of Puccini’s tragic Madam Butterfly, told from a female, East Asian perspective on Thurs Feb 6.
The roaring success of their feelgood hit Bring on the Bollywood in 2016 and 2017, Phizzical Productions return with a brand new Bollywood musical Stardust, with the Belgrade Theatre, (Sept 14-21). It’s a vibrant extravaganza telling the explosive story of singing sensation Amor and her music producer husband Cyrus. Other more familiar musical titles include Bill Kenwright’s new production of the 1977 John Travolta classic, Saturday Night Fever (Sept 17-21), and a new tour of the international hit Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (Nov 7-9). Tim Rice’s and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenally popular Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, returns in a spectacular production from Bill Kenwright, (Jan 28 – Feb 1 2020).
My two older kids – who are now teens – loved reading Louis Sachar’s award-winning novel Holes, (a hit film starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver and Patricia Arquette). I was pleased to see a new stage adaptation by the Children’s Theatre Partnership, Royal and Derngate and Nottingham Playhouse is coming to the Belgrade just in time for February half-term in 2020 (Feb 18-22). A modern-day kids’ classic tells the story of the unlucky Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to a labour camp as punishment for a crime he didn’t commit. Will Stanley and his new friends unearth what’s really going on at the camp where they’re forced to dig holes all day?
This October half-term the multi-award-winning Zoo Co’s Messy (Oct 25& 26) has been created in partnership with the ADHD Foundation, and is performed by a mixed Deaf and hearing cast with Sign Supported English Packed with original music, puppetry, tap dancing and even a trip to the moon, it’s a magical, visually engaging show for children aged 4-8, and all performances will be relaxed. There’s also another Horrible Histories double-bill to look forward to with Awful Egyptians and Terrible Tudors (Oct 23-26) and this year’s Christmas pantomime, Puss in Boots (Nov 23-Jan 11). For families with younger children, Tall Stories bring their warm and very funny acclaimed staging of The Gruffalo to Coventry (Nov 11&12) and TV favourite Peppa Pig returns next April with her latest stage outing, Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, promising a road trip of adventures.
NEW EMERGING TALENT
Fans of new writing can look forward to Holding the Centre (Sept 4-7), a new production from Women Writes with the Belgrade Theatre. Written by Birmingham playwright Joan Carty, this is a powerful play following one young man on a journey to find himself after the shocking death of a friend. And, there’ll be opportunities to discover some of the region’s most exciting emerging talent when MonologueSlam returns on Sat Nov 9, followed by the Belgrade’s New Black Showcase, (Nov 13-15). Following a lengthy auditions process, MonologueSlam offers up-and-coming actors a chance to perform in front of a panel of industry professionals, including agents, directors and casting directors. Now in its sixth year, the New Black Showcase, run in partnership with Euphoric Ink, provides a platform for new writers from the theatre’s excellent Critical Mass programme for new playwrights from BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) backgrounds.