Sir Tim Rice awarded Honorary Doctorate of Arts

Sir Tim Rice, known for his award-winning collaborations with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Leeds Beckett University for his contribution to the industry. Having co-written renowned musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita with Lloyd Webber, as well as working on Walt Disney film soundtracks The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, it’s no wonder Rice is considered an asset to the arts.

After receiving his award, Rice said: ‘I am very honoured to be given any award at all in any circumstance and one from such a distinguished university is terrific.’ Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, Professor Susan Price, said of Rice: ‘[he] is an inspiration and prolific figure in the history of British music and theatre. It was a delight to welcome him to our Headingley Campus and to recognise his enormous contribution to music and the arts.’

Rice and Lloyd Webber with their Academy Awards

Rice and Lloyd Webber with their Academy Awards

Though he originally planned a career as a solicitor, Rice became a management trainee at EMI records in 1965, and not long after that he met fellow struggling songwriter Lloyd Webber. Of his career, Sir Tim said: ‘I never really thought about going into the theatre world when I was young, I didn’t know much about the theatre but I knew a little bit about musicals from my parent’s record collection. It was through meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber really. I was writing pop songs, he was trying to write theatre stuff, our paths crossed and we decided to go for his idea, which was very sensible because we would never have been better than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but there was nobody doing what we were trying to do.’
An indisputable genius, Rice was knighted for his services to music in 1994, boasts a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has received top industry accolades, including Academy and Tony Awards.
His acknowledgement of recent cuts to arts funding came through in his advice for graduating arts students: ‘You’ve got to be quite enthusiastic about your job, there’s no point in doing something you don’t like.’ He added: ‘If you are genuinely interested in the arts, even if you don’t think you have an incredible basic talent, there are so many things you can do that aren’t actually being an artist; you can be behind the scenes which doesn’t involve getting up on the stage or painting. It’s the people behind the scenes that make the most money.’

Booking open for Kids Week 2015

Fancy learning ballet with Billy Elliot? (Credit: Alastair Muir)

Fancy learning ballet with Billy Elliot? (Credit: Alastair Muir)

Tickets are on sale now for this year’s Kids Week performances through the whole month of August. The month-long theatre initiative, run by Official London Theatre, offers free tickets to children aged 16 and under, when accompanied by a full-paying adult, with two extra children’s tickets available for purchase at half price, per transaction.

Kids Week, marking its 18th year this summer, has a line-up for 2015 featuring 45 London shows, including West End favourites Matilda The Musical, The Lion King, Billy Elliot The Musical and War Horse, as well as newcomers such as Bend It Like Beckham The Musical.

As well offering tickets to performances, Kids Week also runs a series of show-related activities and workshops open to Kids Week ticket holders for that day’s performance. Activities for 2015 include: a puppet workshop from The Lion King, discovering how Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather made the journey from page to stage, learning comedy improvisation from the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong, and a Billy Elliot the Musical-inspired dance class with one of the current Billy Elliots performing in London.

Tickets can be booked online (www.kidsweek.co.uk) or by phone (0844 248 5151). No booking or postage fees apply.

Shows included in this year’s Kids Week 2015 are:
(For ages three and up)
Aliens Love Underpants
Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom
Dinosaur Zoo
The Gruffalo
The 3 Little Pigs

(For ages five and up)
Billy Elliot The Musical
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
The Commitments
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
The Lion King
Hetty Feather
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part Three!

I Believe In Unicorns
Let It Be
Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games
Mamma Mia!
Matilda The Musical
Les Misérables
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Railway Children
Sinatra: The Man & His Music
Stomp
Thriller Live
War Horse
Wicked
The 39 Steps

(Parental guidance advised)
Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
Dusty
The Importance Of Being Earnest
Impossible
Memphis The Musical
The Mousetrap
The Play That Goes Wrong
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Sunny Afternoon
The Woman In Black

(For ages 15+)
American Idiot
Jersey Boys
The Mentalists
Miss Saigon
1984

Free theatre performances at West End Live this weekend

If you are in the capital this weekend, you might want to drop by West End Live in Trafalgar Square where the event will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.

West End Live provides two days of free taster performances of shows from London’s West End. Show taking part this year include: The Commitments, Once, Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Pajama Game, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, MAMMA MIA!, The Bodyguard, The Lion King, Stomp, Thriller Live, Jersey Boys, and many more.

A first for this year’s event will see a series of talks with people in the theatre industry. The talks will take place in West End Live’s Theatre Emporium, hosted in a 1920s Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. Scheduled to speak are director Jamie Lloyd and the casts of Handbagged and forthcoming production Shakespeare in Love. 

To mark the significant anniversary, there will be a cabaret performance of ten songs which have been performed at West End Live throughout the last decade.

West End Live is a free and non-ticketed event. The event runs on Saturday 21 June (11am-6pm) and Sunday 22 June (12-6pm); www.westendlive.co.uk.

TD attends relaxed performance of MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Attendees of Matilda The Musical's relaxed performance

Attendees of Matilda The Musical’s relaxed performance

By Ruth McPherson

On 15 June, the Royal Shakespeare Company presented the inaugural ‘relaxed’ performance of Matilda The Musical at Cambridge Theatre, building on the programme of relaxed performances that the RSC has been running in Stratford-upon-Avon since 2013, when it was among the first to adopt and promote the concept. The National Autistic Society worked closely with the RSC on this special performance offering full access to the theatre for people with autism and learning disabilities.

The performance provided a relaxed environment, with elements of the production adapted to reduce anxiety or stress. Lighting and sound levels were adjusted to soften their impact and there was a relaxed attitude to noise and moving around the auditorium during the performance.  Designated ‘chill-out’ areas were provided outside the auditorium with soft seating and activities for people to use if being in the auditorium became overwhelming for them. All audience members were also sent a visual story to help them familiarise themselves with the plot, characters and the setting before they arrived at the theatre.

Tickets for the show were offered at the reduced rate of £20 and it was a sell-out performance. Catherine Mallyon, executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said ‘Relaxed performances are a fantastic way of offering a warm and inclusive welcome to those families, giving them the chance to experience high quality, live theatre, often for the first time. We are delighted to be part of the growing number of theatres across the UK helping to make relaxed performances a standard feature of British theatre-going.’

The cast of Matilda The Musical. (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The cast of Matilda The Musical (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

Several other major London shows have also presented successful ‘relaxed’ performances recently, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Romeo and Juliet, The Elephantom, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.  The National Theatre has recently announced that they will be putting on a relaxed performance of War Horse in September.

Take children to London shows for free this August with Kids Week

Bodyguard workshop 2013 (photo credit Pamela Raith)

A workshop from The Bodyguard last summer (Credit: Pamela Raith)

The Society of London Theatre’s Kids Week returns this summer. The initiative offers free tickets to young people under the age of 16 to over 35 shows in London. Kids Week takes place throughout August (1–31) and is available to young people who are accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Shows on offer for those aged three to five and above are The Elephantom, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, What The Ladybird Heard, The 39 Steps, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, Hetty Feather, Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain Part 2, MAMMA MIA!, Matilda The Musical, The Pajama Game, Stomp, Thriller Live, Top Hat, Wicked and many others.

For slightly older audiences, there’s also plenty of London favourites, from shows for those needing parental guidance through to audiences of young people aged 15+: Billy Elliot The Musical, The Bodyguard, The Commitments, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Jeeves And Wooster In Perfect Nonsense, The Mousetrap, Shakespeare In Love, War Horse,The Woman In Black, Avenue Q, Ghost Stories,Jersey Boys, Let The Right One In and Once.

The month-long scheme also offers a vast selection of free activities and events for young people to participate in: fans of The Elephantom can make their own Elephantom at a practical craft-based workshop; talk to the cast and creative team of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a post-show Q&A session; learn more about the theatre of Shakespeare’s era in a workshop with Shakespeare In Love‘s associate director; and discover how The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time translated from page to stage.   

All tickets, on sale now, for Kids Week shows and activities are subject to availability. For information on how to book tickets for shows and workshops, as well as more information about all the offerings this August, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk.

Free West End performances in Trafalgar Square from West End LIVE

West End LIVE, a free annual event, returns in June with performances of leading theatre productions in the West End performed live in Trafalgar Square. In 2012, the West End LIVE weekend saw over 500,000 visitors attend. The two-day festival is run by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Westminster City Council and Mastercard.

Performances at this year’s event will include a mix of West End favourites and newcomers, including Billy Elliot the Musical, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Matilda The Musical, The Sound Of Music, Top Hat, The Bodyguard, A Chorus Line, Once: A New Musical and many more.

West End LIVE, now in its ninth year, was proposed by deputy leader of Westminster City Council Robert Davis to support and rejuvenate the West End, and to showcase the entertainment available in the area. Of the visitors to last year’s event, 85% said that it would be likely that they would attend a West End show having seen the performances as part of West End LIVE.

Councillor Robert Davis said of this year’s event: ‘This will be the largest West End LIVE we have ever produced with more shows taking part than ever before. From humble beginnings in Leicester Square nine years ago, our event now attracts hundreds of thousands of people. We cannot wait to get the weekend started and showcase exactly what the West End of London has to offer – the best art, musicals and theatre in the world.’

West End LIVE takes place on 22-23 June 2013, for more information visit www.westendlive.co.uk.

Line up for Kids Week 2013 revealed

kids-week-logoThe West End shows taking part in Kids Week 2013 have been revealed. Throughout August, young people will be able to attend performances, workshops and free activities as part of Kids Week – an initiative run by Official London Theatre and the Society of London Theatre.

The Kids Week scheme, now in its 16th year, offers free tickets to children aged under 16 for every adult ticket purchased. There is a range of 34 productions available to see, including Olivier Award winning productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Chorus Line, Top Hat and Matilda The Musical.

Long-running musicals also feature, with free tickets for children available for Billy Elliot the Musical, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, We Will Rock You and Wicked.

In 2012, Kids Week won Best Cultural Attraction at the London Lifestyle Awards, beating out  The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and London Zoo to the prize.

Kids Week 2013 runs from 1 to 31 August. Tickets go on sale on 18 June. For more information, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk.

Kids Week sells record number of tickets in 24 hours

Over 42,000 tickets have been sold in the first 24 hours of Kids Week. Edwin Shaw, theatre consultant at See Tickets said: ‘In my memory, no other theatre promotion has sold as many tickets in a 24 hour period, so this is really very remarkable.’

Kids Week is in its 15th year and will run (contrary to its title) throughout August. The scheme allows young people under the age of 16 to see theatre performances in London free, when attending with a paying adult. Kids Week 2012 was officially launched in London on 11th June with a showcase attended by 1,000 students from 33 schools at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, comprising extracts from performances all of which are on offer as part of Kids Week. Showcase performances from Shrek The Musical, Horrible Histories and The Tiger Who Came To Tea gave the audience a taste of what to look forward to in August.

Among this year’s selection of shows on offer are Billy Elliot the MusicalBlood Brothers, Chicago, War Horse, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and many more. Tickets went on sale on 12th June and saw popular show Matilda The Musical sell out within hours.

(c) James Carnegie Photography

 

Kids Week and West End Live make theatre accessible this summer

While this summer looks to be dominated by sport, those with an appetite for theatre won’t be disappointed. It was predicted by theatre bigwigs such as Andrew Lloyd Webber 2012 would see theatre’s struggle against the tide of Olympic tourists. However, there are a couple of initiatives which are making London’s biggest theatre hits more available to everyone.

One scheme which will keep children happy throughout the summer holidays is Kids Week. The project, in its 15th year, will run throughout the whole of August – providing parents and children with a respite from the Olympic Games.

The scheme allows young people under the age of 16 to see a theatre performance in London for free, when attending with a paying adult. Amongst this year’s selection of performances are Billy Elliot the MusicalBlood Brothers, Chicago, War Horse, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and many more. Tickets went on sale on 12th June and saw popular show Matilda The Musical sell out within hours.

Young people who have bought a ticket through Kids Week also have the chance to take part in a workshop from their chosen play. Those attending Singin’ in the Rain can opt to have a go at a vocal and dance workshop for free. Visitors to The Woman in Black can participate in an interactive ghostly workshop and many other productions are offering Q&A sessions with Kids Week audiences. For more information about Kids Week, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk. Tickets and workshops are subject to availability, so book soon to avoid disappointment.

However, if your budget is too tight to shell out for full price adult tickets, West End Live are offering a free weekend of London theatre performances for visitors to enjoy. The event, organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), will see live showcase performances of London’s biggest theatre shows.

There will be performances from Shrek, Wicked, Ghost The Musical, Stomp and Phantom of the Opera. If you’ve missed out on tickets for Kids Week for shows like Matilda the Musical and Billy Elliot they will also be in attendance. The weekend will also see musical performances take place from acts such as the National Youth Music Theatre and Ghost The Musical star Mark Evans.

West End Live will take place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July. All performances will take place in Trafalgar Square and entry is free. To find out more, visit www.westendlive.co.uk.

Make sure you make the most of all that the West End has to offer this summer!