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.

Curious Incident wins record-tying seven prizes at Oliver Awards 2013

The National Theatre's production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time wins seven prizes at Olivier Awards (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The National Theatre’s production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time wins seven prizes at Olivier Awards (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

National Theatre production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has dominated this year’s Olivier Awards, picking up seven out of the eight prizes it was nominated for – tying with the record amount of wins secured by Matilda The Musical at last year’s ceremony.

Curious Incident picked up awards for its acting, with accolades for Luke Treadaway as best actor and Nicola Walker as best supporting actress, as well as for its technical aspects, coming away with prizes for best sound design, best set design and best lighting design. It also scooped the top prizes of the night, winning best new play and best director for Marianne Elliott.

Other productions awarded at this year’s ceremony included The Audience, with Helen Mirren and Richard McCabe coming away with prizes for best actress and best supporting actor; Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Sweeney Todd, picking up prizes for best musical revival and best actor and actress in a musical for leads Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton; and Top Hat, which received a hat-trick of accolades for best new musical, best costume design and best theatre choreographer.

For the full list of winners, visit www.olivierawards.com

Nominations for Olivier Awards 2013 revealed

The National Theatre's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time receives eight nominations (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The National Theatre’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time receives eight nominations (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The nominations for the Olivier Awards 2013 have been announced, with the National Theatre’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time leading with eight nominations.

The adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel has received nominations for best theatre choreographer, best set, sound and lighting design, best director for Marianne Elliott, best supporting actress for Nicola Walker, best actor for lead Luke Treadaway and best new play.

Musical Top Hat was another popular choice for this year’s awards receiving seven nominations, including best actor and best actress in a musical nods for Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen.

High profile actors from the big and small screen featured heavily: in the best actress category Helen Mirren has been nominated for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, Kristin Scott Thomas for her role in Old Times and Billie Piper for her part in Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. The nominees for best actor include Rupert Everett for The Judas Kiss, Mark Rylance for his turn as Olivia in Twelfth Night and James McAvoy in the Trafalgar Studio’s production of Macbeth.

The awards ceremony will take place on 28 April at the Royal Opera House.

For the full list of nominations, visit www.olivierawards.com/nominations

SOLT awards 13 lucky drama students with bursaries

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein, judge Lee Menzies and this year’s bursary winners

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has awarded this year’s Laurence Olivier bursaries to 13 students attending drama schools across the UK. This year’s scheme saw £55,000 donated to drama students entering their final year of training.

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein said of the applicants: ‘Following a highly competitive audition process and a remarkable display of ability, our 13 winners have been chosen. These bursaries allow the students to concentrate on their critical final year of studies by easing the financial pressures of drama school. I am looking forward to seeing them all on West End stages very soon.’

First established in 1987, to mark Sir Laurence Olivier’s 80th birthday, the bursary scheme supports those training at drama school that are experiencing financial difficulties. Previous winners of the bursary have included Michael Sheen, Ewan McGregor and Patterson Joseph.

Grants range from £1,000 to £7,500 and are awarded by a panel of judges from the industry. Each year principals from selected drama schools from around the country choose two students to be put forward for the bursary prize. All applicants then audition in London’s West End in front of the bursary judges. The panel is headed by West End producer Lee Menzies, who has worked on plays such as Top Hat and Tell me on a Sunday.

This year saw two winners from the Drama Centre, along with other successful students from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Central School of Speech and Drama, Mountview, RADA and others.

To find out more information about the Laurence Olivier bursaries, along with other financial schemes offered by SOLT such as The Carmen Silvera Bursary, visit http://www.solt.co.uk/bursaries.html

The Stage reveals high theatre prices

An investigation by The Stage has revealed the high cost of visiting popular shows in the West End. The theatre industry newspaper uncovered some of the rather hefty charges incurred when attending theatre in the capital.

Buying tickets online is costing theatre-goers up to £12.25, just in booking fees. But the charges are not consistent across the board, The Stage found that for shows such as Chicago and War Horse there was no fee, however, shows toward the top end of the booking charge scale, at £12+ included; We Will Rock You, Wicked and Top Hat.  

The charges were found to vary between the tiers of tickets for sale. When purchasing a top-price ticket, customers are charged a fee of £8.25, however, for cheaper seats, costing just £34, the booking charge drops to £5.50.

On top of this initial fee, there is a further £4 charge, which goes towards the delivery costs of posting or emailing tickets to customers.  However, this charge is only applicable to UK residents, for which collection at the theatre is not permitted.

A spokesman for Which? told The Stage: ‘About 50,000 people supported our campaign to see these ‘rip-off’ charges stamped out so the government must stick to its commitment and ensure the ban happens by December.’

The Stage has also uncovered the most expensive tickets on sale in the West End. On average a top price ticket costs £72.12 and the average cost for the least expensive seats is £21.91 – inclusive of booking charges.

Their investigation found that Billy Elliot was the most expensive musical, charging £97.50 for a top-tier ticket. The Ladykillers was named as the most expensive play to attend, charging customers £97 for buying a top price ticket.

But for a country still cost-cutting after the recession, it was not all bad news – both War Horse and Les Miserables came out top for offering the cheapest seats for theatre-goers. Les Miserables has tickets starting from £12 and War Horse came out even cheaper, with prices from just £10.

Do high prices deter you from visiting the theatre? Do you think is justified for theatres to charge this much for tickets and booking fees? Do you think the high cost discourages young people from attending? Let us know what you think.

www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35824/exclusive-west-end-audiences-face-booking
www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35823/exclusive-top-priced-london-theatre-seats