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Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve

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Rehearsals have begun at Leeds Playhouse for Frances Poet's heart-warming new play, Maggie May. The cast and crew spend 2 weeks in rehearsals in Leeds before transferring down to Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, where the show opens on 13 March.

Former Brookside neighbours Eithne Browne and John McArdle have been cast in a new play by award-winning writer Frances Poet that shines a light onto the experience of living with dementia.

Directed by Jemima Levick, Maggie May is an extraordinary play about an ordinary Leeds family learning to cope with a life-changing diagnosis. Written with honesty, beautifully balanced with humour and music, it is, ultimately, an uplifting story of love in all its guises.

The play centres around Maggie, played by Eithne Browne, best known for her five-year, 65-episode stint in popular Merseyside soap Brookside as Chrissy Rogers. She is joined on stage by her fellow Brookside alumnus, John McArdle, who, as Billy Corkhill, moved his family into number 10 in 1985 and left five years and 83 tumultuous episodes later. He plays Maggie's husband, Gordon.

Both actors have enjoyed long, successful careers, both on stage and on the small screen, including recent runs on Emmerdale, as Irene Stocks, a midwife at Hotten General, and Ronnie Hale, long-lost love of Lawrence White.

The cast also includes Mark Holgate (Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, The Crucible, Sheffield; Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Tina & Bobby) as Maggie and Gordon's son Mark; Shireen Farkhoy (Urban and the Shed Crew, Red Ladder; Doctors, Vera, Waterloo Road) as Mark's girlfriend Claire; and Maxine Finch (LIT, Nottingham Playhouse; Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, DCI Banks) as Maggie's best friend, Jo.

The play was originally commissioned in 2017 as part of Leeds Playhouse's award-winning Every Third Minute Festival, an innovative seven-week collaborative festival of theatre, dementia and hope co-curated by people living with dementia and their supporters. Maggie May is set to premiere at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch from 14-28 March before heading to Leeds Playhouse (31 March - 18 April) and Curve, Leicester (28 April - 2 May).

Playwright Frances Poet said: 'It's always exciting to see your writing in front of an audience but Maggie May feels particularly special since it was written with such a strong audience focus. At every stage of development, from its very conception, this play has been designed to welcome the broadest possible audience to share Maggie's story.

'Perhaps because she was inspired by the extraordinary people living with dementia I met through the Playhouse, the irrepressible and hilarious Maggie feels less like a character and more like a friend, showing us all what's possible. I can't wait to sit amongst people living with dementia, their supporters and anybody who loves theatre about real people so we can laugh and cry together as Maggie finds a way to live well with her diagnosis.'

All performances of this production are suitable for, and warmly welcome those living with dementia and their families/carers. Queen's Theatre Hornchurch offers a range of dementia friendly performances which build on their own commitment to welcoming audiences affected by dementia. The Theatre will also host a free interactive digital installation front of house named The Listening Booth, amplifying the voices of people living with dementia and celebrates the power of music.

Maggie May plays at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch from Friday 13 - Saturday 28 March, at Leeds Playhouse from Tuesday 31 March - Saturday 18 April and at Curve, Leicester from Tuesday 28 April - Saturday 2 May.

Photo Credit: Zoe Martin

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Director Jemima Levick in rehearsals for Maggie May

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Eithne Browne and John McArdle in rehearsals for Maggie May

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Eithne Browne and Maxine Finch in rehearsals for Maggie May

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Eithne Browne and Shireen Farkhoy in rehearsals for Maggie May

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Eithne Browne, Mark Holgate and Shireen Farkhoy in rehearsals for Maggie May

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
John McArdle and Eithne Brown

Photo Flash: Rehearsals Begin For MAGGIE MAY By Queen's Theatre Hornchurch, Leeds Playhouse And Curve
Shireen Farkhoy and Eithne Browne in rehearsals for Maggie May



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