April 2015

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travelGBI April 2015 21 Theatreland Bournemouth's Arts by the sea Festival returns for its fifth year this autumn, with a mix of music, dance, theatre, cinema and visual arts throughout the town. the festival (october 9-18) will use Bournemouth's coastline setting to provide 10 days of performances, and will feature a 'light' theme to mark the International Year of Light. Arts Bournemouth works all year-round with local artists, educational organisations and national arts agencies to bring together the annual festival. Bournemouth Arts by the sea Festival is jointly funded by the Arts Council, Arts university Bournemouth, Pavilion Dance south West and Bournemouth Borough Council. Stomp will host a gala night for teenagers on may 11 to mark the production's own 13th birthday in London. the show has already been celebrating other milestones, as it saw two record-breaking performances at the Ambassadors theatre on February 14. the evening show was the highest grossing performance of any production in the 102-year history of the theatre. It was also the highest grossing saturday matinee in the theatre's history, meaning box office records were broken twice on Valentine's Day. Stomp was first performed in 1991 in edinburgh, then sadler's Wells theatre in 1994 and then thomAs hazelby (10) has joined the cast of Billy Elliot the musical to play the title role – the 40th boy to play the role in London. Also joining the cast to play Billy's best friend michael is nathan Jones (11). Billy Elliot the musical has been in London since 2005, and is currently booking to December 19 at the Victoria Palace theatre. the cast is led by ruthie the American production of puttin' on the Ritz will tour uK theatres, starting at the new Wimbledon theatre on may 27 – with the added attraction of Strictly Come Dancing stars. the song-and-dance show features the music of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin and broke box office records when it was performed in front of a British audience last year. For the opening two weeks – for the dates in Wimbledon and newcastle – pop singer and Strictly Come Dancing favourite Pixie Lott will star in the show. she will be joined by her Strictly Come Dancing dance partner, trent Whiddon, along with fellow Strictly dance professionals Kristina rihanoff and robin Windsor. Strictly stars and Pixie put on the Ritz For dates up to the end of June, rihanoff and Windsor will head the show, with other names from Strictly Come Dancing to be announced. songs in the show will include Cheek to Cheek, Alexander's Rag time Band, Birth of the Blues, Swanee, Night and Day, I Got Rhythm, Easter parade, and puttin' on the Ritz. opened in new York, where it is now celebrating its 21st birthday. the european company was created in 1997 and began its London run at the Vaudeville theatre in 2002, transferring to the Ambassadors theatre in 2007. Stomp has toured the globe for 22 years, playing more than 20,000 performances to more than 12 million people in 53 countries. there are currently four Stomp companies performing worldwide: one on tour in north America, another throughout europe and the rest of the world, one in new York, and one in London. Stomp celebrates anniversary Billy Elliot welcomes 40th Billy henshall as Billy's dance teacher mrs Wilkinson, Deka Walmsley as Dad, Chris Grahamson as tony and Gillian elisa as Grandma. set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984-85 miners' strike, Billy's journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance. the mercury theatre in Colchester will be refurbished thanks to new funding worth £580,000. Access for disabled people will be enhanced in the main and studio theatres, and the capacity of the studio theatre will be increased from 65 up to a new maximum of 103 seats. the project is the largest investment in the theatre since it opened in 1972. Arts Council england has given a grant of £400,000; Colchester Borough Council is backing the refurbishment with a grant of £80,000; the J Paul Getty Jnr trust and the Fowler smith and Jones trust have each committed £25,000; and the mercury has allocated £50,000 from its reserves to make the work possible. Artistic director Daniel Buckroyd said: "this work will Colchester's Mercury Theatre gets £580k refurbishment transform our ability to create new smaller-scale theatre ourselves, and support new writers and emerging theatre companies across essex and further afield. "We are very hopeful that the installation of new heating and cooling equipment will make visiting the mercury a more comfortable experience for all of our audiences." mercury theatre executive director steve mannix added: "the mercury is a key part of the creative economy in the east of england. If you look at most of the shows in the West end at the moment, you can trace their origins back to an early life in regional subsidised theatres like the mercury working in partnership with others." enCore tickets said that American visitors to London bought more theatre and attraction tickets than any other nationality during 2014. overall, theatres in the West end saw ticket sales rise by just 1% last year – but encore claimed it was able to increase ticket sales by 15% thanks to a high level of bookings from American visitors and the introduction of new technology. sales to south Korean, Chinese and Israeli theatre-goers also showed strong growth, and student groups from nearby european countries rose too. on the domestic front, ticket sales increased to coach tour operators, who boosted their profits from theatre trips by adding value with extras such as afternoon tea or attraction tickets such as Warner Bros studio tour. Jo Bachelor, encore tickets head of sales, said: "In what was generally a flat year for London's theatreland, it was good to see that our American friends were clearly hitting the West end in big numbers, a fact that was reflected in the popularity of long- term favourite shows such as Lion King, Wicked and phantom of the opera – the top three shows for the international market." Domestic visitors also favoured classic West end shows with the top six being Jersey Boys, miss Saigon, the Lion King, Les miserables, War Horse and Wicked. she added: "new technology also helped us increase our sales through box offices in 2014 with the implementation of direct connectivity to their systems. "With this, we have increased our access to ticket stock even further; a feature which benefits all our partners." US visitors spur West End growth Bournemouth lights up with the Arts by the Sea Festival sYLVIe Guillem will perform for the last time in the uK at Birmingham hippodrome (september 8 and 9). the famous ballerina will be performing in Life in progress featuring works by choreographers who have influenced her career. stuart Griffiths, Birmingham hippodrome chief executive, said: "I am honoured that ms Guillem has chosen Birmingham hippodrome as the venue for her last ever performances in the uK." she has performed all the leading roles of the classical repertoire with the world's leading companies including the royal Ballet, Paris opera Ballet, Kirov, tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet theatre and La scala. birminghamhippodrome Ballerina's Birmingham farewell

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