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Watford Palace Theatre Announces 2019-2020 Season

Artistic Director Brigid Larmour today announces programming to complete Watford Palace Theatre's season for September 2019 - June 2020, following the world première of Mushy: Lyrically Speaking earlier this month. The co-production with Rifco Theatre Company is now on tour across the UK until 5 October.

In addition to the previously announced contemporary all-female reimagining of Patrick Hamilton's classic Gaslight, the new season includes collaborations with resident Rifco Theatre Company, reflecting and celebrating British Asian experiences and culture; Mike Leigh's classic comedy Abigail's Party, in a new production directed by Rifco's Artistic Director, and the four-day British Asian Festival.

This production of Abigail's Party, directed by Pravesh Kumar, is set against the backdrop of an evolving multicultural Britain of the 1970s. The British Asian Festival presents four days of British Asian arts and culture, curated by Pravesh Kumar and Ameet Chana.

Brigid Larmour directs Alan Bennett's critically acclaimed Talking Heads, starring Radio 4 comedian Jan Ravens, and Julia Watson. This year's pantomime is the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, directed by Associate Director James Williams, written by Andrew Pollard and designed by Cleo Pettitt, with live musicians onstage.

Sister Act is presented by resident local company Cassio Productions; Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan School bring Ruddigore to life. The Palace hosts part of the Watford Fringe Festival, and the return of Pint-Sized Poetry gives a platform to talented emerging spoken word artists. The Theatre's Take Part team enable the community to Celebrate Black History Month, Celebrate Diwali, Celebrate Chinese Culture Show and Celebrate Vaisakhi, as well as facilitating the Palace Community Choir's Annual Christmas Concert.

In a first for Watford Palace Theatre, audiences are invited into the rehearsal room, to hear rehearsed readings of Moira Buffini's Handbagged and Barry Hines' KES, and give their feedback.

Dinner on our Stage returns following the success of last year, offering audiences the opportunity to enjoy a delicious three course meal on the Watford Palace stage.

The season includes the return of tiata fahodzi and Watford Palace Theatre's tiata delights, a day of networking and development opportunities for artists, and the 10th annual Imagine Watford, filling the streets with giant puppets, street dancers, jugglers and more, one of the highlights of Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020.

Brigid Larmour today said, "Everyone's welcome at the Palace. This season's rich mix of new and established artists and shows aims to bring our community together, to be entertained, provoked and inspired, on our stage and in our streets. "


By Patrick Hamilton

Director: Richard Beecham; Designer: Naomi Dawson; Lighting Designer: Anna Watson

Sound Designer: Sarah Weltman

2 - 26 October 2019

Press night: Monday 7 October, 7.30pm

The classic thriller with a modern twist.

Richard Beecham directs Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife that she is going mad.

This bold new production transplants the action from Victorian London to a 21st century Safe House in which a group of women, fleeing domestic abuse, re-enact Hamilton's play. As the drama unfolds, the women's own experiences and emotions surface to cathartic effect. Together they discover the strength to begin building a brighter future.

The 1938 West End smash-hit gave rise to the term 'gaslighting' - a form of psychological abuse where one person attempts to manipulate another into questioning their own sanity.

Patrick Hamilton, in full Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton (March 1904 - September 1962), was an English playwright and novelist. His playwrighting credits include Rope - adapted into the 1948 film by Alfred Hitchcock - and Gaslight, which opened in the West End and transferred to New York under the title of Angel Street. Gaslight was twice adapted for film, most famously in the 1944 version starring Ingrid Bergman. Hamilton's other credits include the novels Hangover Square and Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky.

Richard Beecham directs. He has directed a number of productions at Watford Palace Theatre, most recently his acclaimed revival of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass. Other credits include Playing for Time, starring Dame Sian Phillips (Sheffield Theatres), Rose, starring Dame Janet Suzman (HOME, Manchester), 84 Charing Cross Road, starring Stefanie Powers and Clive Francis (Cambridge Arts Theatre/UK tour), Driving Miss Daisy, starring Dame Sian Phillips and Derek Griffiths (Theatre Royal Bath/UK tour), the UK premieres of Red Light Winter and In A Garden (Ustinov Studio Bath), Henry IV Part 1 (Peter Hall Company at Theatre Royal Bath), Just Before the War, The Human Cost (Young Vic), Rutherford and Son (Northern Stage, Newcastle), Humble Boy, Dancing at Lughnasa, In Praise of Love (Royal & Derngate Northampton), The Invention of Love, The School for Scandal, The Miser, Side by Side by Sondheim (Salisbury Playhouse), A Taste of Honey, Neville's Island, How the Other Half Loves (Watford Palace Theatre), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Private Lives, Charley's Aunt, Black Comedy/The Real Inspector Hound (Exeter Northcott Theatre), Early One Morning, Entertaining Mr Sloane (Octagon Theatre Bolton), The Bench (Battersea Arts Centre), Twelve Tales of Tyneside (Live Theatre, Newcastle), Romeo and Juliet (Creation Theatre Company, Oxford), A Midsummer Night's Dream (USF Florida), Much Ado About Nothing (Marlowe Society Cambridge), and the National Commemorative Event for Holocaust Memorial Day. Beecham's short film, The Guitar, won the Pears Short Film award at the London Jewish Film Festival.

Sleeping Beauty

By Andrew Pollard

Director James Williams; Designer Cleo Pettitt

29 November - 31 December 2019

Press night: Saturday 7th December, 7:00pm

The Watford Palace team bring you the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, with fabulous costumes, stunning sets, a live band and non-stop laughs.

It's the eve of Princess Aurora's 18th birthday party and her father, King Lenny the VIII of Watford, is worried sick about the Bad Fairy's curse. Just one prick of her finger on a spinning wheel, and Aurora's dream of escaping the Palace to travel the world will remain just that - a dream. A guitar-playing Prince is the only hope, to wake Aurora from her long, long sleep...

Join Good Fairy Fender and Dame Nanny Fanny on this unforgettable, time-travelling magical adventure. The Palace has been the home of family panto in Watford for over a century.

Andrew Pollard writes. He regularly writes pantomimes for Greenwich Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Mercury Theatre Colchester.Other credits include adaptations of The Water Babies, Treasure Island, and Heidi - A Goat's Tail (nominated for the 2008 T.M.A. Award for Best Children's Play, and the Adrienne Benham Award for Children's Theatre Writing), and The Hunt for the Scroobious Pip, The Mad Hatter's Christmas Party, A Night at the Bijou, The Silent Comedian, Cross Purposes, and Laughing Gravy. His sitcom, Spinnin' It was one of the winners of the HTV 'Search for a Sitcom' competition and subsequently broadcast.

James Williams directs. As Associate Director at Watford Palace Theatre, James' directing credits include Jack & The Beanstalk, The Canterbury Tales (WPT and tour), and The Good Soul of Szechuan (WPT and tour). He has also directed numerous youth and community theatre productions, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, Peter Pan, Frankenstein, There Is A War, A Vampire Story (also National Theatre Connections), Hello Mr Capello, and Return. As a playwright, his credits include an adaptation of Treasure Island, Trolls, and #Houseparty. In 2017, following the development of several successful film projects with the Palace's community youth theatres, James established the Watford Young Filmmakers Festival in partnership with Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, and is currently developing a Hertfordshire wide festival for Autumn 2020.

Talking Heads

By Alan Bennett

Director: Brigid Larmour

4 - 29 March 2020

Press night: Tuesday 10th March, 7:30pm

Brigid Larmour directs Jan Ravens (Muriel, Miss Ruddock) and Julia Watson (Susan)

An evening of three entertaining monologues by one of Britain's most brilliant and best-loved writers.

Each piece gives an intimate and hilarious insight into the heart and mind of a peculiarly English character - Muriel in her tweed skirt and pearls in Soldiering On, the public-spirited Miss Ruddock in A Lady of Letters, and Susan, the long-suffering Vicar's wife in Bed Among The Lentils.

Alan Bennett writes. His writing credits for the stage include Allelujah!, Cocktail Sticks, Hymn, People, The Habit of Art, The History Boys (for which he won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best New Play, and the 2006 Tony Award for Best Play), The Lady in the Van, Talking Heads (for which he won the 1992 Olivier Awards for Best Actor in a Musical and Best Entertainment), and The Madness of George III. For film, his writing credits include The Lady in the Van, The History Boys, and The Madness of King George (for which he won the 1995 British Academy Film Award for Best British Film).

Brigid Larmour directs. As Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre, her previous credits include Much Ado About Nothing, I Capture the Castle, Arms and the Man, Coming Up, Jefferson's Garden, Love Me Do, Von Ribbentrop's Watch, Fourteen, Perfect Match, We That are Left, Mrs Reynolds and the Ruffian, Our Father, My Mother Said I Never Should, Equally Divided, Absent Friends, Time of My Life, Absurd Person Singular, and five pantomimes by Andrew Pollard; Aladdin, Dick Whittington, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, and Mother Goose. Other notable directing credits include Playboy of the West Indies (Contact Theatre) and the world premiere of My Mother Said I Never Should (Contact Theatre).

Abigail's Party

By Mike Leigh

Director Pravesh Kumar

29 April - 23 May 2020

Press night: Tuesday 5th May 7:30pm

Welcome to 1970s suburbia and its heady mix of free-flowing drinks, classic disco and cheese & pineapple sticks.

Aspirational Beverly and her estate agent husband Laurence are hosting drinks for their newlywed neighbours. They are joined by a very anxious Susan, who has been banished from her daughter Abigail's party. As the evening goes on, marital tensions rise and tempers flare as the characters' true natures are hilariously but ruthlessly exposed.

Mike Leigh's classic comedy, which became an iconic TV film starring Alison Steadman, is one of the most popular plays of modern times.

This new production is set against the back drop of an evolving multicultural Britain of the 70s.

Mike Leigh writes. His writing credits for the stage include Grief, Two Thousand Years, It's a Great Big Shame!, Smelling a Rat, Ecstasy, Too Much of a Good Thing, Abigail's Party, The Silent Majority, Babies Grow Old, and Dick Whittington and His Cat. For film, his credits include Peterloo, Mr Turner, Another Year (for which he was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay), Happy-Go-Lucky (for which he was nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay), Vera Drake (for which he was nominated for the 2004 Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director), All or Nothing, Topsy-Turvy, Career Girls, and Secrets & Lies (for which he was nominated for the 1997 Academy Awards for Best Writing and Best Director).

Pravesh Kumar directs. His previous credits include Bollywood - Yet Another Love Story, Airport 2000, Meri Christmas, Where's My Desi Soulmate?, Britain's Got Bhangra, Break The Floorboards, Happy Birthday Sunita, Laila Majnu and Miss Meena & the Masala Queens. He was Associate Director on the new musical Wah! Wah! Girls, which opened in the West End as part of World Stages London for the Olympics 2012.

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