Win 2 tickets to Northern Ballet’s brand new production Victoria!
In honour of this year’s Love Theatre Day (14th November) we’ve teamed up with one of the UK’s premier ballet companies, Northern Ballet, for an exciting giveaway to their world première production Victoria!
Launching in spring 2019 this biopic ballet brings the fascinating story of Queen Victoria to life through dance.
Choreographed by Cathy Marston, who created Northern Ballet’s award-winning Jane Eyre, this highly anticipated production reveals the sensational story of one of Britain’s longest ruling monarchs.
Join Northern Ballet as Victoria’s daughter, Beatrice, learns how her mother’s life was filled with passion, tragedy and fierce devotion.
As the annual social media phenomenon, Love Theatre Day celebrates all things theatre, what better way to enjoy this day than by winning tickets to a world’s first dance production filled with enticing storytelling.
Here’s how to enter:
To enter our prize draw for the 2 tickets to Northern Ballet’s Victoria simply:
Pantomime was practically born in Bradford’s Alhambra theatre, and the 2018/19 show won’t disappoint.
This year the Alhambra is hosting a performance of Aladdin, and there’s some excellent performers helping to bring it to life.
Bradford veteran Billy Pearce is back to play Aladdin’s brother Wishee Washee, while boy band star Simon Webbe joins him as Aladdin. Porridge actor Christopher Biggins will star as Widow Twankey, in his ninth appearance in the part. Further casting is yet to be announced, but you’re sure of a spectacular show regardless!
If a member of your family has an Autistic Spectrum Condition, you can attend a relaxed performance on Tuesday the 8th of January.
These offer altered lighting and special effects—though the content of the show will stay the same—and a less formal atmosphere to help reduce anxiety levels.
Based on the picture book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman is a beloved Christmas tradition.
The animated special premiered on Channel 4 in 1982, and continues to be broadcast on British televisions every December. Today’s Snowman aficionados can enjoy a live stage show, which is running this Christmas at London’s Peacock Theatre.
The stage show expands upon the original story a little, but otherwise stays true to the tale of a boy’s snowman coming to life. As well as the impressive costumes (we’re a fan of the dancing pineapple, ourselves) we love the minimalist set and breath-taking aerial manoeuvres. This is the perfect choice for both the young and the young at heart!
It’s also been very well received by critics. The Daily Express praised the set design and the show’s “joyful celebration of life as a snowman—or woman”, while the Manchester Evening News declared “It’s the music and dance that bring this performance to life”.
London’s Palladium Theatre has hosted pantomimes for 70 years.
It’s continuing that rich tradition even now, with a lavish production of Snow White to look forward to this Christmas.
The show boasts some amazing actors including Julian Clary, who has been a veteran of pantomime for 20 years.
Other stars include comedienne Dawn French and Vincent & Flavia, of Strictly Come Dancing fame.
If the show is anything like last year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington, it’s certainly worth attending.
2017’s show boasted an animatronic rat and a flying London bus, as well as dance sequences from hit dance group Diversity. With a ‘lavish festive production’ trumpeted on the official website, we heartily recommend this one to all pantomime fans!
If you’re planning on attending a local pantomime this Christmas, we hope you have a lovely time. And if you’re thinking of putting on your own theatre show, we at Stagefreight—an experienced theatre haulage company—are here to help.
We know that planning and speed are both essential for theatre transport, and we’ve got a proven track record of perfect timing. We can cater for theatre productions of all sizes, ranging from single van tours to 16-trailer tours and much more! We’ve worked with theatre tour companies like Opera North and the English National Ballet to name a few and have a lot of theatre transportation experience.
Visit our Services page to learn more about what we do, or call us on 0113 238 0805to discuss your next tour.
Few things get the heart racing like a great theatre production. Whether it’s the soaring spectacle of a West End musical or the raw emotion of a dramatic play, nothing quite beats going to the theatre for yourself.
We at Stagefreight have been involved in a fair few stage transportation tasks over the years.
We’ve put together a list of musicals and plays that pushed the medium forward, either with outstanding set design or bold subject matter.
The Lion King
Based on Disney’s 1994 film, the stage adaptation of The Lion King remains a smash hit. It debuted in 1997 at Minnesota’s Orpheum Theatre before moving to Broadway and the West End.
It is still being performed today; with 14 million audience members attending the London show since its opening—and a global gross of over £3 billion—this is one show that’s here to stay.
But where does its popularity come from? We suspect the source material has something to do with it; the original film came out at the peak of the Disney Renaissance, a legendary era in Disney film history. However, the musical isn’t a slavish recreation of the film.
By necessity it sets itself apart, and it’s the ways it does this that makes it an experience in its own right. The show’s sheer spectacle is a big part of its success.
Director Julie Taymor combined imaginative, non-literal costumes and sets with attention to detail and a high level of immersion; the actors literally walk up the aisles in the opening scenes of the performance. It also stays timeless by mixing other ingredients into each performance, like Kabuki costumes and Malaysian shadow puppetry. The masks of the characters all have specific and intriguing design, so it’s all about handling these with absolute care when transporting this particular musical production.
It’s the perfect blend of old theatre techniques and new (or more recent) stories, and it’s one audiences continue to fall in love with. If you’d like to see it for yourself, The Lion King is performed year-round at London’s Lyceum Theatre.
The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel debuted in 1986. It went on to win the Olivier and Tony awards for both Best Musical and Best Actor, along with more than 70 other major theatre awards. Today, audiences can go to performances across the world, in locations such as London, Denmark, New York and even Budapest!
A major part of the show’s success is its focus on fantastic sets, particularly the chandelier that comes crashing down at the end of the first act. It weighs one tonne, measures more than 3 metres wide and is decorated with 6,000 beads.
Other notable features of the musical production include a character riding in on an elephant, a ‘river’ of dry ice, and the 280 candles that burn throughout the performance each night.
A pared-back version of the musical was created for a touring production, which exists alongside the original one. However, this version had some clever ideas of its own; the best is the giant cylinder that contains most of the sets. It rotates on the stage during each production, opening at different points to reveal the next scene. However you see it, The Phantom of the Opera promises to be an exciting, extravagant experience. Plus it opens up some stage transportation challenges, which gets us lot here at Stagefreight all riled up.
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
C.S.Lewis’ fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia is a beloved part of children’s literature, chronicling the history—from birth to death—of a magical world. The first book published—The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe—is probably the most famous, and was adapted for the stage last year in an exciting new production.
The Leeds Playhouse hosted a stage adaptation of the book until January 2018. The actual set was very pared-back; War Horse designer Rae Smith used a flat black stone, with clouds of paper lampshades to represent the changing seasons. Aslan the lion was transformed into a giant puppet, while the children’s evacuation to the countryside used a model train (carried aloft by the cast) instead of the real thing.Other changes include a dance sequence when Edmund tries Turkish delight for the first time, while summer (according to The Stage) is a little more psychedelic than the original story.
Smith’s approach to theatre design is a great way of approaching a familiar idea in a more creative manner. It trusts the audience to suspend their disbelief in service of the show’s imagination.
We hope we see Rae Smith’s creativity in many more works to come.
Rock musicals make up a major part of the theatre scene; shows like Dreamgirls, Grease and Starlight Expresshave been delighting audiences for years. But the very first rock musical launched on Broadway in 1968, to polarising reactions and a place in theatre history.
Hairtakes place in 1960s America at the height of the Vietnam War. It follows “the tribe”—a group of young hippies trying to escape conscription while staying true to their countercultural roots. Touching on topics like race, drugs, sexual freedom and pacifism, Hair reflected many of the USA’s contemporary anxieties. A review in the New York Times called it “the frankest show in town”, and “so new, so fresh and so unassuming, even in its pretensions.”
Hair‘s subject matter was a shock to the system; before its release, Broadway shows followed very narrow rules and traditions around music and subject matter. Hair introduced a countercultural flavour to Broadway shows—and wider society—that would go on to inspire a host of other stage productions. It was also a harbinger of today’s cultural landscape, with bad language, drug use and nudity common features of our entertainment.
Unsurprisingly Hair was highly controversial upon its release. Its use of (brief) nudity in the first act angered many audience members, as did its depiction of the American flag; after all, the Vietnam War was in full swing when Hair debuted. It was also at the centre of two American court battles in Massachusetts and Tennessee, while the cast was expelled from Mexico on a morals clause. Fortunately the UK’s Theatres Act—introduced in 1968—allowed it to appear here without legal wrangling.
With four Broadway revivals since the original closed in 1972, Hair’s legacy continues to endure into the 21st century.
One of the many musicals inspired by Hair is Rent, a 1993 musical based on the Italian opera La bohème. Set in Manhattan’s East Village, Rentfollows several young artists trying to follow their dreams and pursue relationships during America’s AIDS crisis. Just as Hair was defiant and countercultural, Rent featured a diverse cast and placed HIV-positive characters at the centre of its story.
Besides its bold subject matter, Rent differentiated itself thanks to some stripped-back, inventive set design. Many productions of it use grimy, skeletal stairs and scaffolding to capture the New York setting. This minimalist approach is a far cry from the dramatic, complex sets of other Broadway giants like Phantom of the Opera.
After its release Rent went on to win several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, three Tony Awards and four Drama Desk awards. It’s spawned its own breed of uber-fans (called ‘Rentheads’) and inspired references in the likes of The Simpsons, Deadpool and Team America: World Police.
With 30 separate productions since its debut, this is one Broadway hit that won’t be clearing out any time soon.
Inspired by the Spanish libertine Don Juan, Don Giovanni is an Italian opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It tells the story of an amoral, promiscuous nobleman who grossly disrespects his fellow man, only to pay dearly for his actions. It was first performed in the late 1700s, but a new Israeli performance put a very exciting spin on it.
Running at Tel Aviv’s Opera House through February, this performance of Don Giovanni boasted an international cast of solo singers. However, its most exciting feature may be the set itself; it featured a miniature house that rotates on stage as the opera progresses. It also features projected images on the set, which act as a metaphor for Giovanni’s creative abilities. According to Ynet News, projected images are becoming a frequent part of today’s operatic productions, suggesting this one is very much in line with the latest trends.
Although this production has ended, it’s a testament to the amazing technical achievements today’s theatre shows are capable of. Our friends at Opera North have completed their fifth year of touring Don Giovanni and we’re looking forward to future Don Giovanni performances by them.
In Jewish folklore, a golem is a clay figure animated by magic. That ancient idea was given new life in a bold stage play by a theatre company called 1927.
This theatre company tests our understanding of what theatre is capable of.
Golem is a stage play that combines live-action performance with intricate projected animation. Physical objects are essentially nonexistent, taking video projection to new levels of immersion. The play tells the story of a society in which the golem is introduced as a domestic servant. As time passes, the golems are replaced by slicker, newer models, but the society’s hunger for newer, better golems may prove to be its undoing.
It’s just 90 minutes long, but Golem was hailed as a theatre masterpiece after its debut.TheObserver described it as a “glimmering evening; anyone interested in the theatre must attend”, while The Telegraph said it was a “witty collision of knowingly antiquated aesthetics, wide-ranging cultural influences and modern-day sensibilities”. Fans of the avant-garde should watch 1927 very closely going forward.
Think your show could be the next groundbreaking masterpiece? We at Stagefreight are here to help you bring it to life and get it touring!
We know how important planning and speed are to any theatre tour production. That’s why we’ve got a track record of perfect timing, whether you need a single van or 28 individual trailers. We’ve also worked with major companies like Opera North, Northern Ballet and English National Ballet, giving us the expertise we need to pull off any stage transportation job.
For more information, give us a call on 0113 238 0805 or visit our Contact Us page for other contact options.
With 28 theatre trailer tours under our belt, we know what the show must go on really means! That’s why we’ve decided to look at some of the best shows currently touring across the UK and Europe.
Kiss Me, Kate
First performed in 1948, Kiss Me, Kate is an award-winning musical comedy inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It follows Fred and Lilli- divorcees performing a Shakespeare play- as they grapple with gamblers, gangsters and unrequited love. The play splits the action between the characters’ performance of Shakespeare and the drama backstage. The result is a delightfully meta show that’s perfect for theatre fans.
There are plenty of opportunities to see the show; British theatregoers can attend performances in Leeds, London and Edinburgh. If you’re in Italy or planning a trip anytime soon, you can also see the show as part of the Ravenna festival from Thursday the 7th of June.
I Love Piaf
Edith Piaf- legendary singer, French icon and star of a controversial SpecSavers advert– is an indelible part of France’s cultural landscape. That’s why it’s only fitting she gets her very own musical, playing this month at the Theatre Trevise in Paris.
I Love Piaf explores several chapters of the singer’s life across locales such as Montmartre, New York and Moscow. It also features some of her most famous songs, including ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘Je ne regrette rien’. As an added bonus, this performance includes an English-language pack and audio guide with live subtitles.
If you love Edith Piaf’s music or want to learn about her on her home soil, this is an excellent opportunity. For more information, visit the Paris Tourist Office website or book tickets here.
If you want something a little off the beaten track, this opera may be just what you’re looking for. It’s a real cultural stew; an Italian opera, based on Greek myths, performed in a German opera house!
La Calisto tells the story of a nymph, who attracts the attention of Giove (the god of thunder). However, she incites the jealousy of Diana (Giove’s wife) in the process. When Diana turns Calisto into a bear, Giove rearranges the stars to form Ursa Major in her honour. The opera was a critical and commercial failure when it was first released in the 17th century. However, after some reworking to make it more accessible, it’s bounced back to become an opera classic.
Tickets are available now for performances at Munich’s National Theatre. It’s actually the third theatre to hold that name; the first one was destroyed by fire in the 1800s, while the second was blown up during an air raid in the Second World War. Click here for more details about the opera.
If you’re looking for an opera singer at the height of her powers, this opera is the perfect choice. Thais is a French opera which takes inspiration from a 10th-century story. Its lead role is notoriously difficult to sing, and reserved only for the most accomplished artists. Athanael, an ascetic monk, is tormented by visions of a courtesan and embarks on a mission to convert her. The courtesan eventually converts to Christianity, but as she grows closer to God Athanael begins to find his own faith tested.
This opera is performed in July at Spain’s legendary Teatro Real, which boasts a storied history. It was originally a music college before reopening as a concert hall in the 1960s. It also hosted the 14th Eurovision Song Content in 1969! In the 1990s the country remodelled it as an opera house, with in-theatre video projectors ensuring everyone can view the performance.
Milan’s most famous opera house plays host to Don Pasquale, one of the 19th century’s most famous works. A comic opera in three acts, Don Pasquale is a classic tale of love, foolishness and mistaken identity! The aged Don Pasquale decides to marry and produce an heir after disowning his nephew. His doctor locates a bride-to-be for the Don, but as the Don is soon to discover, this vision of loveliness isn’t all she seems…
Visitors to Milan can enjoy this opera in truly luxurious surroundings; the Teatro alla Scala is one of Milan’s most beloved institutions. The 18th century building was closed for three years from 2002 for a highly controversial renovation; today, the Teatro alla Scala boasts a lovingly restored auditorium, an improved backstage area and- best of all- screens on seat backs with subtitles in three languages. Click here to book tickets.
This is just a small sample of the brilliant operas Europe has to offer at the moment. And these are the kinds of shows our theatre transportation service can help you put together.
We know planning and speed are a vital part of theatre transportation, and we’ve got a proven track record of getting your props, sets and costumes in the right place at the right time. We can cater for all performances of all shapes and sizes, from single-van tours to 28-trailer theatre tours. What’s more, our experience with Opera North, Northern Ballet and the English National Ballet means we’re ready for any and every eventuality.
Visit our Contact Us page to get in touch, and take your first step towards theatre touring transport you can always depend on!
It’s the perfect time to pay homage to this fantastic art form and to spread the joy. So, we’re hosting a competition!
Just Retweet, share or like our competition posts via our Twitter or Facebook accounts to enter our prize draw.
Don’t delay entering as our competition ends at
Midnight on Thursday the 29th March...Entry deadline extended!!! Enter by Midnight 2nd April!
Winners will be announced on April 3rd.
We’ve teamed-up with Opera North and together we’re giving away
2 tickets to Strauss’ masterpiece, Salome.
This is opera at its most extreme, concentrated into 100 intense and exhilarating minutes.
Based on Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, this is the savage tale of King Herod’s step-daughter. When Herod’s prisoner Jokanaan (John the Baptist) rebuffs her advances, Salome vows she will kiss him – no matter the consequences.
This dramatic opera presented in concert is a great piece to visit and perfect for anyone looking to give Strauss a try.
Love is in the air this February and what better way to celebrate than with an iconic theatre show? As experts in stage transport, we’ve gathered some top theatre shows to inspire your Valentine’s celebrations.
The Phantom of the Opera
If you want a classic theatre production, The Phantom of the Opera is a great choice. An epic tale of magic, mystery and romance, it’s one of the longest-running stage shows the world has ever seen. It also boasts a few stage transport challenges, like the grand chandelier and the subterranean gondola that immortalises the show.
Writing in The Guardian, Emma Brockes said that Phantom ‘is sweepingly, swooningly, poignantly over the top and like all the best musicals, will both soothe and transport you.’
Or if you’re looking for a theatre transport company which can handle a chandelier, then give us a buzz.
The Lion King
If you need a more family-friendly stage show, The Lion King is an obvious choice. The hit stage adaptation of Disney’s 1994 film first opened in the UK back in 1999. Other Disney musicals have come and gone, but The Lion King‘s still going strong in 2018.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the story needs almost no introduction. This epic tale of betrayal, royalty and romance on the Serengeti has been a hit since its debut.
The stage show boasts beautiful lighting, extravagant costumes, and all the film’s hit songs including, of course, ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous this Valentine’s Day, Shakespeare’s famous play may be just what you’re looking for. Twin siblings Viola and Sebastian are separated in a shipwreck, and make their way to the land of Illyria. Upon disguising herself as a man, Viola becomes entangled in a love triangle with the Duke Orsino and the Countess Olivia. A hilarious comedy of errors ensues with enough romance to be an iconic Valentine’s theatre show.
2018’s production takes place Stratford-upon-Avon, where the Bard himself was born. If you can’t make it to the theatre, you can watch the production live at selected cinemas on Valentine’s Day.
Want to take a leap into the unknown? Beginning, a new play by David Eldridge, might be just what you’re looking for. It offers a sober, grounded take on relationships that sets it apart from other romantic plays.
After a housewarming party, Laura, a 38-year-old managing director, finds herself alone with friend of a friend Danny, a 42-year-old middle manager. The two seem to have little in common; they’re worlds apart in terms of politics and living situations. But as the evening progresses, Laura and Danny discover neither is as different- or accomplished- as they appear to be.
The play also boasts an impressive set that brilliantly brings the play’s setting- a North London flat- to life. Strewn with lights, streamers and discarded drinks, it’s not hard to become invested in this little slice of realism.
Looking for an anti-Valentine’s Day theatre show? Henrik Ibsen’s tale of doomed romance and failed ambition is the perfect antidote to February’s lovey-dovey atmosphere.
General’s daughter Hedda has just returned from her honeymoon, and is (unhappily) married to academic George Tesman. After reuniting with Eilert, an old flame, Hedda grows jealous of Eilert’s new partner and resolves to come between them… with disastrous results.
Newcastle’s Theatre Royal production does a lot with a little. The result is an understated but effective set, and the play has gotten glowing reviews from The Times, Radio Times and The Guardian. Book tickets now at the Theatre Royal website.
Whatever your tastes, there’s plenty of theatre shows to look forward to this Valentine’s Day. And whether your show is as grand as a Andrew Lloyd Webber production or as restrained as Ibsen, Stagefreight can help bring your production to life.
Our stage transport service is top of the line; we understand how important planning and speed are, and we’ve got a proven track record of getting all your equipment to the theatre on time – every time.
We’ve catered for productions of all shapes and sizes, too. Whether you need a single van or a 28-trailer theatre tour, Stagefreight is happy to help.
We aren’t the fresh-faced apprentices in this field, either. Our connections with famous companies like Opera North, Northern Ballet and English National Ballet have given us an in-depth understanding of performance, theatre and musical productions.
Get a fast, free, no obligations quote today. Give us a call on 0113 238 0805, or email us via email@example.com.
What family doesn’t love a good local pantomime? Choruses of ‘oh no he didn’t!’ and ‘he’s behind you!’ have been echoing round British theatres for many years.
It’s something purely British, as our continental cousins are often baffled by this style of entertainment according to the BBC. Though our festive season wouldn’t be the same without it.
That’s why we’ve brought together some of this year’s hottest pantos in one article to help you find your local pantomime.
Whether you’re looking for a family outing (or a hit of nostalgia) there’s sure to be something for everyone!
Aladdin- Princess Theatre, Torquay
This classic story of magic carpets, mysterious lamps and true love is a staple of pantomimes. The performance at the Princess Theatre also boasts some excellent cast members that will make it a night to remember.
You all know the story; when Aladdin falls in love with the Princess of China, he must prove he’s the right guy to win her hand. The genie in the magic lamp might hold the key, but can he outwit the Evil Sorcerer and find true love?
A highlight of the cast is Anne Hegerty, known for her merciless performances on The Chase. She’s also a prolific pantomime star, appearing in the likes of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Beauty and the Beast. Other notable cast members include X Factor contestants Sam Callahan and Luke Friend, while Last of the Summer Wine‘s Tom Owen plays the sorcerer Abanazar.
A great show treat for anyone in the Torquay area this December.
Jack and the Beanstalk- New Wimbledon Theatre – London
9th December 2017-14th January 2018
This pantomime marks the first performance of Jack and the Beanstalk in the area for more than 15 years. It’s also being held by one of the world’s biggest pantomime producers, Qdos Entertainment, making this a show to look forward to.
Stand-up comedian Al Murray and Olivier winner Clive Rowe (The Story of Tracy Beaker) lead the cast in this timeless fairytale of beanstalks, giants and fabulous treasure. The show boasts stunning scenery and special effects, beautiful costumes and- of course- plenty of audience participation.
Plus it’s in aid of the NSPCC, so while treating yourself to a your local pantomime you’ll be supporting a great charity at the same time.
As one of the world’s most famous fairytales, Cinderella is an excellent choice for any panto fan. The classic rags-to-riches tale has everything a pantomime could ask for: marvellous magic, a happy ending and villains you love to hate.
This performance of the classic tale boasts some big names. Prince Charming is played by Blue’s Duncan James, who’s also appeared in stage productions of Sherlock Holmes and TV soap Hollyoaks. Jodie Prenger, winner of the reality show I’d Do Anything, plays the Fairy Godmother. You can find out more about the rise of the theatre talent shows and about Jodie Prenger in one of our previous articles here.
Each of these perfomers promises to make this panto an unforgettable one!
Robin Hood and The Babes in the Wood- York Barbican
If you want something a little off the beaten track, this pantomime at the York Barbican might be just what you’re after. It mixes elements of the classic Robin Hood story with the Babes in the Wood tale to produce an unforgettable all-ages night out.
This performance boasts the biggest lineup of stars that the city has ever seen. It includes Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, Eastenders’ Ricky Norwood and Coronation Street’s Michael Starke.
It also sees the return of 90s pop star Anna Kumble (Lolly) and The Voice star Jaz Ellington, who are playing the fairy and Friar Tuck respectively.
Bradford Alhambra’s pantomime is a Christmas highlight, and this year’s panto promises to be no different. Veteran actor and Prince of Bradford Panto, Billy Pearce, makes his usual appearance and this year he’s joined by the singer and Loose Women panelist Coleen Nolan, as well as stage star Shane Nolan in what promises to be a top-quality pantomime!
The Alhambra celebrated its 100-year birthday back in 2014. It is the place for pantos in Yorkshire thanks to Francis Laidler, also known as the King of Panto.
Peter Pan- Christmas in Neverland – Arena Birmingham
20th – 24th Dec
Taking pantomimes to a large scale is this year’s Peter Pan panto in Birmingham.
With a movie-like Neverland set across 3 stages, a giant 60 foot wide screen, a life-size Jolly Roger galleon with a 10,000 gallon water wall to sail in front of, an animatronic crocodile, BMX stunt riders, aerial mermaids and 100 stuntmen, this promises to be a show to remember.
Running for seven shows across five days it will then tour to Wembley Arena with all props included.
Props alone don’t make a show, though. You can enjoy performances by The Chase presenter Bradley Walsh, and Eastenders star Martin Kemp.
As you can see from Birmingham’s local pantomime, props and show equipment for each panto varies. But stage sets are essential in supporting actors with their performance.
If you’re looking to put on your own show (panto or otherwise), Stagefreight is ready to work some magic.
Our flexibility means we can transport materials for shows of all shapes and sizes. We’ve catered for everything from 28-trailer tours to a tour transported in a single van!
We’ve also managed to build up a vast wealth of experience thanks to our connections with key theatre companies. By working with Opera North, Northern Ballet and the English National Ballet, we’ve learned what the professionals expect when it comes to transporting their goods. That’s why we’re one of the best choices when it comes to transporting and setting up your show.
Whatever you’re performing, the show must go on. And when you partner with Stagefreight, you’re ensuring your show goes off without a hitch!
At the beginning of 2017 the BBC launched Let It Shine; a reality show to find performers for a new, ‘Take That’ inspired musical.
It’s the latest in a long line of similar talent shows that have appeared on British screens in the last decade and which moved on to become theatre tours in their own right.
We thought it would be interesting to look back at previous theatre talent shows and see how well their theatre productions turned out.
Join us on our trip down memory lane, as we relive the highs and lows of this unusual time in television history.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
The theatre talent show phenomenon kicked off with How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
Contestants competed for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2006 production of The Sound of Music, and were judged on their performances by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, as well as Doctor Who actor John Barrowman.
Eventually, the finalists were narrowed down to ten hopefuls, who competed for votes each week live on BBC1. The winner was Welsh actress Connie Fisher, who received a six-month contract to play the role of Maria Rainer.
Connie’s debut at the London Palladium was warmly received by several newspapers:
The Guardiansaid Connie “occupies the Palladium stage with absolute confidence and winning charm”.
The Independentsaid Connie was “charmingly natural from the moment she starts to sing” and possessed “a mellifluous warmth, a comforting maternal quality”.
Variety was less complimentary, saying she was “winningly confident” even if she “lacks originality and the essential vulnerability”.
Despite the review by Variety, Connie went on to star as Maria during a UK theatre tour of The Sound Of Music in July 2009, which started in Cardiff before touring to Bradford and Southampton among other places.
Any Dream Will Do
The following year, Andrew Lloyd Webber returned to television to find his next star.
The theatre talent show, ‘Any Dream Will Do’, offered a starring role in the 2007 performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, at the Adelphi Theatre in London.
Hosted by the unmatched Graham Norton, the show followed a similar format to How Do You Solve… with twelve Joseph hopefuls reaching the final.
The Essex-born Lee Mead won the competition, in the end, receiving the most public votes after nine weeks of live shows.
Joseph’s reviews were mixed:
Writing for londontheatre.co.uk, Chloe Preece said the props and costumes “look like they came from a charity shop”. She went on to criticise the songs, saying “ ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door to Me’ were the only mildly passable ones”. However, she praised Mead himself, citing his “rich and strong” voice and popularity with the audience.
The Evening Standard was more complimentary, saying the show “offers a seductive blend of camp, kitsch”.
The Times said Lee Mead was “both talented and enthusiastic”, while the show as a whole “is a reminder of how splendidly versatile Lloyd Webber can be”.
Mead went on to perform as Joseph for 600 shows before appearing as Joseph for the last time in January 2009.
A ‘10 years since Joseph!’ anniversary theatre tour is planned for 2018 with Milton Keynes, Newport and Redditch as key destinations so far.
I’d Do Anything
Andrew Lloyd Webber returned to television for a third time with I’d Do Anything in 2008.
This time the production in the limelight was Oliver!
The search was on for the lead role of both Oliver Twist and Nancy.
Three young hopefuls would go on to play the part of Oliver in the West End, while just one would go on to play Nancy.
Blackpool entertainer Jodie Prenger landed the role of Nancy, while the role of Oliver was shared by Gwion Jones, Harry Stott and Laurence Jeffcoate.
The four were joined by Rowan Atkinson as Fagin, and all of them appeared in the 2009 production at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, which ran for just under two years.
Reviews for the show were mixed again:
Writing in The Guardian, Susannah Clapp described Jodie’s Nancy as “boisterous by strangely bland”.
While Michael Billington (writing in the same publication) said she “delivers her big number with passionate fervour” even if there were “too many cockney knees-up for his liking”.
Michael Coveney delivered the most damning verdict in TheIndependent: “(…) she can’t act and she doesn’t have the depth of lung power to fill a plastic bag, let alone a West End theatre on a daily basis”.
Over the Rainbow
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 4th BBC collaboration followed his search for a Dorothy (and Toto) to star in his 2011 production of The Wizard of Oz.
According to Lloyd Webber himself The Wizard of Oz presented unique challenges, as previous productions had struggled to differentiate themselves from the 1939 film.
Eventually the show opened at the London Palladium, where it ran for 18 months.
The show was also unusual in that the winner was eventually replaced by her alternate. Danielle Hope, a 17-year old Mancunian, beat out all ten of her rivals in a grueling eight-week competition.
However, her rival Sophie Evans was brought on to play the role once a week, before replacing Danielle full time in 2012.
Lloyd Webber’s production was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for the Best Musical Revival.
Writing in the Telegraph, Charles Spencer (self-professed Wizard hater) said Danielle’s Dorothy offered a “thoroughly competent rather than an inspired performance. She sings Over the Rainbow with feeling (…) but she lacks the heart-catching vulnerability of the young Judy Garland”. However, he did also say that fans of the original film would enjoy it.
The London Evening Standard’sHenry Hitchings was more complimentary, saying Danielle Hope made “a winning impression. Her performance combines innocence with easy charm, and her voice soars”.
Sophie Evans’ performance was well received by the Oxford Times . Christopher Gray described her as “an actress and singer of the greatest accomplishment”.
While Karen Price from the Wales Onlinesaid she “plays a naive and tender Dorothy who you really want to befriend”.
The last theatre talent show to hit our screens by Webber was Superstar.
It followed the search for the lead actor in Lloyd Webber’s 2012 production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
This show was marked by a few changes: it moved to ITV, with Amanda Holden presenting it and Jason Donovan, Dawn French and Melanie Chisholm replacing John Partridge, Sheila Hancock and Charlotte Church as the judges.
The show was won by Sunderland actor Ben Forster, who benefited from previous experience in productions like Grease and Thriller – Live.
Lloyd Webber’s production premiered at the 02 Arena in London, before going on to Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin and several other venues.
It also saw a high number of celebrity cast members.
Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles played the role of Herod, while Spice Girls member Mel C played the role of Mary Magdalene and Tim Minchin played the role of Judas.
The production polarised critics:
While the Telegraph’s Laura Thompson praised it, citing Tim Minchin’s “weary intelligence’ and Mel C’s ‘lovely relaxed Mary Magdalene”.
The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner was far less complimentary. She said the show contained “spectacle, but very little variety” and decried the performers’ poor acting abilities.
Ready For A Theatre Tour?
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Our trailer selection means we can safely transport props and stage equipment for large and small productions without issue. For productions performing at multiple venues, our staff will help you get on the road as soon as possible, helping you complete your theatre tour with minimal stress.
Don’t forget to visit our Case Studies page. There, you can read about our experiences working with major clients like Opera North.
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This play is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for younger theatre-goers. Book your tickets from Barbican here.
Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre)
This sung-through musical has exploded in popularity during its American tour. It tells the life story of Alexander Hamilton- immigrant, statesman and Founding Father- via music influenced by both classic theatre shows and contemporary hip-hop.
Shining a light on a vital chapter of American history, the work has received numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, an American composer and actor whose career spans 15 years and numerous awards. He also co-wrote the songs for Moana, Disney’s latest animated musical.
Hamilton is coming to the UK for the first time this November. Playing to sold- out venues across the USA, this is one history lesson you can’t afford to miss.
This contemporary dance piece is returning to British stages for the first time in 13 years. Written by Christopher Bruce and first performed in 1981, the theatre show is a tribute to the people of South America and the trials they have endured.
Written by Christopher Bruce and first performed in 1981, the theatre show is a tribute to the people of South America and the trials they have endured.
It also takes inspiration from Day of the Dead imagery and Latin American music.
Ghost Dances’ haunting costumes and powerful emotional themes mean seeing it now is a rare opportunity.
The piece was performed several times in the past through the 80s and 90s. It garnered positive reviews from many different publications including the New York Times, Independent and Evening Standard.
This time the piece is being performed by Rambert, a London-based contemporary dance company. However, they are performing at several venues nationwide; you can buy tickets from their website.
The Sleeping Beauty
This lavish stage production is inspired by the classic Charles Perrault fairytale.
The timeless story of fairies, princesses and spinning wheels has seen countless adaptations. However, this show from the Birmingham Royal Ballet might be one of the most lavish yet.
Featuring elaborate costumes, gorgeous sets and rave reviews from the Guardian, Times and Sunday Telegraph, this is an exciting yet family-friendly night out.