As Opera North revives its acclaimed 2015 production of Kiss Me Kate, the supremely witty reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew by Cole Porter and Bella and Sam Spewack, Judi Herman speaks to the show’s orchestrator and original musical director David Charles Abell. They discuss the Spewacks, the brilliant Jewish husband and wife team, revealing the role the Spewacks played in getting Cole Porter onboard to write the musical that revived his career, one of his best and most popular works.
Photo by Guy Farrow
Kiss Me Kate runs Saturday 23 – Saturday 30 June. 7.30pm (Mon- Sat) 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £10-£105. London Coliseum, WC2N 4ES. 020 7845 9300. www.operanorth.co.uk
The show then tours to Scotland Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 July. 7.15pm, 2.15pm (Sat only). £15.50-£49.50. Edinburgh Festival Theatre, EH8 9FT. 013 1529 6000. www.operanorth.co.uk
In two scenes of Finishing the Picture recorded exclusively for JR OutLoud, we meet the outrageous husband and wife acting coaches, based on Lee and Paula Strasberg. In the first extract coach Flora, played by Nicky Goldie, is complaining to producer Phillip, played by Oliver Le Sueur, about ‘horrific’ working conditions and disrespect. Later you’ll hear Tony Wredden as Jerome, Paula’s pretentious husband. The action takes place on a movie set and director Phil Willmott reveals just how personal Arthur Miller gets in this autobiographical play inspired by the filming of The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe’s last movie, for which he wrote the screenplay; and just how resonant the vulnerable star’s treatment is today and for the ‘Me Too’ movement.
Finishing the Picture runs Tuesday 12 June – Saturday 7 July. 7.30pm (Tue-Sat), 3pm (Sat & Sun only). £18-£20, £16-£18 concs. Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED. 01223 357 851. www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
In Shirleymander Jessica Martin plays Westminster Council leader Shirley Porter in Gregory Evans’ dark satire charting the events behind the Westminster ‘homes for votes’ scandal of the 1980s. She tells Judi Herman more about the resonance for 2018 of a play staged in a theatre barely five minutes from Grenfell Tower. Martin describes the scandal as “a real-life House of Cards situation” and Porter as “a north London Marie Antoinette”. The Spitting Image star also gives a taste of her Edwina Currie, and we get a peek at some of the exciting graphic novels she writes and illustrates too.
Shirleymander runs Wednesday 23 May – Saturday 16 June. 7.30pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £25, £15 concs. The Playground Theatre, W10 6RQ. 020 8960 0110. www.theplaygroundtheatre.london
As Tik-sho-ret Theatre Company prepare to bring their haunting production of Israeli playwright Yonatan Calderon’s Under the Skin to Brighton, Judi Herman speaks to the company’s artistic director Ariella Eshed. Discover the few known facts about concentration camp guard Annelise Kohlmann as the story of a love affair between her and a young female prisoner unfolds, before revealing the aftermath in 1991 Tel Aviv under threat during the Gulf War. Read about the show in more detail in our review of Under the Skin.
Photo by Lidia Crisafulli
Under the Skin runs Wednesday 16 & Thursday 17 May in Sussex as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. 7pm. £10, £8.50 concs. The Warren: Theatre Box, Brighton, BN1 4GU. www.brightonfringe.org
In a life-affirming show woven from the true story of her great-grandparents, Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch uses klezmer and drama to tell the tale of two refugees arriving in Nova Scotia in 1908, having fled the pogroms in Romania. Here Moscovitch reveals more about Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, a double award-winning show (on the Edinburgh Fringe 2017) with real contemporary resonance and relevance from Canada’s 2b Theatre Company.
By Judi Herman
Photo by Stoo Metz Photography
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story runs Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 May in Bristol as part of Mayfest. 7.30pm (Thu-Sat), 2.30pm (Sat only). £5-£21. Bristol Old Vic, BS1 4ED.
In 1975 when Chagall was 88, he illustrated an edition of Shakespeare’s magical play The Tempest, perhaps feeling an affinity with Prospero the magician and prince, who gives up his ‘rough magic’ at the play’s end. The first UK exhibition of this rare and limited portfolio is currently on view at the Ben Uri gallery. Curator Hanna Scolnicov, Professor emerita of Tel Aviv University (left in above photo), talks to JR’s arts editor Judi Herman (above right) about how Chagall came to illustrate the edition and takes listeners on an audio tour of the exhibition, stopping at her favourite images.
A Farewell to Art: Chagall, Shakespeare and Prospero runs until Sunday 11 February. Ben Uri Gallery, NW8 0RH. 020 7604 3991. www.benuri.org.uk
See Scolnicov’s selected images below.
Hodl is the second daughter of Tevye, the poor dairyman whose family are at the heart of one of the world’s favourite musicals. She falls in love with Perchik, a student and revolutionary, and follows him into exile in Siberia.
“When I got the phone call that I’d been offered [the part], I burst into tears,” says Kingston. Listen as she tells Judi Herman why, and much more about her research for the part, including reading Shalom Aleichem’s original stories on which the musical is based. The actor also discusses her Jewish upbringing; how she and fellow Jewish cast member Tracy-Ann Oberman (who plays Tevye’s wife, Golde) share insights with the rest of the cast; and the joy of rehearsals with Iranian-born actor and comic Omid Djalili in the role of Tevye.
Fiddler on the Roof runs Monday 10 July – Saturday 2 September. 7.30pm, 2.30pm (various Wed, Thu & Sat: phone to confirm). From £10. Chichester Festival Theatre, PO19 6AP. 012 4378 1312. www.cft.org.uk
Click here to read our review of Fiddler on the Roof.
Playwright Cordelia O’Neill talks to Judi Herman about her powerfully imagined drama, No Place for a Woman, the story of two women caught up in the Holocaust. At concentration camp commandant Fredrick’s orders, Jewish ballerina and internee Isabella is ordered to dance for guests at the party his wife Annie is throwing and their lives become inextricably intertwined.
Click here to read our review of of No Place for a Woman.
No Place for a Woman runs until Saturday 27 May. 7.45pm (Tue-Sat), 3pm (Wed & Sat only). £15, £12 concs. Theatre 503, SW11 3BW. 020 7978 7040. www.theatre503.com
Ahead of its run at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, Daniel Donskoy performed A Song Goes Round the World – his show of European chansons – for the residents of Selig Court. Many of those who live in these independent living apartments on Jewish Care’s Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus are survivors of Nazi persecution. Donskoy sings in many languages, including Yiddish, to bring people together in a fractured Europe. Judi Herman was there to meet Donskoy and the residents, to hear their stories – and of course Donskoy’s glorious vocals, accompanied by MD Inga Davis-Rutter on piano.
A Song Goes Round the World runs Tuesday 25 – Sunday 30 April. 7.30pm, 4pm (Sun only). £18, £16 concs. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, N6 4BD. 020 8340 3488. www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com
First it was a play, then a film and now Calendar Girls has been made into a musical – already nominated for several Olivier Awards – with book and lyrics by Tim Firth, who wrote the play and co-wrote the film script (with Juliette Towhidi), and music by Gary Barlow.
The Girls tells the true story of members of a Yorkshire branch of the Women’s Institute who had the idea of posing for a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research, when the husband of one of the girls became ill and died from the disease.
As all the girls of the title are nominated jointly for an Olivier Award, Judi Herman spoke to Debbie Chazen, who has the distinction of being the only Jewish ‘girl’, as well as the only one who appeared in the original stage play.
Photo by Matt Crockett, Dewynters
The Girls runs until Saturday 15 July. 7.30pm (Tue-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat, plus Tue from 25 Apr). £29.50-£69.50. Phoenix Theatre, WC2H 0JP. 0844 871 7627. www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk