In conversation: Barry Humphries

Aussie performers Barry Humphries and Meow Meow discuss their show, Weimar Cabaret

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As Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret prepares for take-off at the Barbican next week, Judi Herman speaks to the stars of the show. Australian actor, artist and comedian (you may well recognise him as Dame Edna Everage) Humphries and fellow Aussie – cabaret performer Melissa Madden Gray, who’s best known as Meow Meow. The pair discuss their passion for the raucous jazz of 1920s/30s Berlin – the backbone of the musical – and the composers and lyricists who were deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. They also talk about the music’s influence on the Australian, European and American music scenes and Humphries reveals why he gravitated towards Jewish boys at school.

Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret runs Wednesday 11 – Sunday 29 July. 7.45pm, 2.30pm (Wed & Sat exc. 11 Jul), 3pm (Sun only) £19-£75. Barbican Theatre, EC2Y 8DS. www.barbican.org.uk

In conversation: David Charles Abell

Musical director and orchestrator David Charles Abell discusses his work on Kiss Me Kate

  ©Guy Farrow

©Guy Farrow

As Opera North revives its acclaimed 2015 production of Kiss Me Kate, the humorous reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew by Bella and Sam Spewack, Judi Herman speaks to the show's musical director and orchestrator David Charles Abell. He discusses 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 and is arguably his best and most popular work.

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 conversation: Phil Willmott

Phil Willmott talks about directing the European premiere of Arthur Miller’s last play

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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 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 conversation: Jessica Martin

London actor Jessica Martin talks political plays, Spitting Image and graphic novels

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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

In conversation: Ariella Eshed

Tik-sho-ret's artistic director Ariella Eshed discusses her haunting show Under the Skin

  ©Lidia Crisafulli

©Lidia Crisafulli

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.

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 conversation: Hannah Moscovitch

Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch discusses her award-winning show Old Stock and more

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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. 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. https://bristololdvic.org.uk

In conversation: Katharina Reinthaller

Director Katharina Reinthaller discusses Bertolt Brecht’s The Jewish Wife

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Ahead of this year’s Yom Hasho’ah event at JW3, which features a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s chilling one-act play The Jewish Wife, JR’s arts editor Judi Herman spoke to director Katharina Reinthaller (all the way from Melbourne, no less) about the vision for the performance she shares with JW3’s community programmer Eva Burke. The event will also include new translations of Brecht’s poetry, all performed by actor/singers Susanne Fiore and Peter Halpern, accompanied by pianist Ilan Lazarus. The evening culminates in a short ceremony led by Rabbi Roni Tabick and singer Aaron Isaac.

Bertolt Brecht’s The Jewish Wife runs Wednesday 11 April. 7.30pm. £8. JW3, NW3 6ET. 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk

In conversation: The team behind Arthur Miller's Broken Glass

Hear from the team behind Watford Palace Theatre’s revival of Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass

  ©Richard Lakos

©Richard Lakos

As Watford Palace Theatre gets set to revive Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, JR’s arts editor Judi Herman spoke to the team behind the production. The powerful play details the reactions of a New York Jewish family to the news of Kristallnacht coming out of Germany in November 1938 – a horrific night that sees its 80th anniversary this year. Listen in as Charlotte Emerson and Michael Matus, who play the couple at the heart of the play, read an extract recorded especially for JR OutLoud. Plus hear from the production’s director, Richard Beecham, and actor Clara Francis, who tells the moving story of how her great-grandparents were caught up in the violence of Kristallnacht.

Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass runs Thursday 1 – Saturday 24 March. 7.30pm, 2.30pm (various days, check website for details). £15-£24.50. Watford Palace Theatre, WD17 1JZ. https://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk

In conversation: Peter Marinker

Peter Marinker discusses his heritage, acting and the revival of The Melting Pot

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As Israel Zangwill’s play is revived at Finborough Theatre for the first time in 80 years, Judi Herman finds out about the visionary writer and activist. He coined this evocative description of inclusivity for the title of a play that influenced President Theodore Roosevelt at its premiere in 1908. Judi spoke to actor Peter Marinker about the play and his own inclusive background, complete with tales of rabbis and nuns! He plays Zangwill himself, as well as both the uncle and prospective father-in-law of Jewish composer David Quixano, escaped from a massacre in a pogrom to the melting pot that is New York City. First we hear an extract especially recorded for JR OutLoud by Marinker and actor Steffan Cenydd, who plays David, a man in love with a beautiful Russian Christian called Vera, much to the consternation of his Uncle Mendel (Marinker). Image design by lococreative.com

The Melting Pot runs until Tuesday 19 December. 7.30pm (Sun-Tue), 2pm (Tue only). £18, £16 concs. Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED. 0844 847 1652. www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

In conversation: Hanna Scolnicov

Hanna Scolnicov discusses Shakespeare and Chagall, two creative giants united at the Ben Uri Gallery

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 (right in above photo), talks to JR’s arts editor Judi Herman about how Chagall came to illustrate the edition and takes listeners on an audio tour of the exhibition, stopping at her favourite images. (Courtesy of Ben Uri)

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