A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES

Posted 13th May 2016.

By Dylan Thomas.

Directed by Christine Probst, Christine Mitchell and Angela Milne.

Performed winter 2009

at the Carré Rotondes, Luxembourg.

A New World Theatre Club production.

NWTC Youth Theatre presented two evenings before the holidays of Dylan Thomas' classic prose poem, A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Phil Evans and John Evans read the poem with poised, clear Welsh accents as the snow fell on the Traffo Stage of the Carré Rotondes. The evenings were warmed by mulled wine and bara brith and the children acted out each childhood memory.

The performances were directed by Christine Probst, Christine Mitchell and Angela Milne. There was special assistance from Till a student working toward a special merit project with school. He jumped in at the last minute to operate the smoke machine and the snow machine. Both machines aided in bringing to life the characters of the timeless Welsh story. The 14 children on stage were thoroughly engrossed in the Welsh wonderland.

The group looks forward to continuing the Saturday morning workshops with the hopes of presenting another show in 2010.

TEN MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL

Posted 29th April 2016.

Performed 11th to 14th November 2009

at the Casino de Bonnevoie, Luxembourg.

A New World Theatre Club production.

10 Minute Plays are just as dramatic or funny as you’ll find anywhere. They’re just a lot SHORTER!

The 10 Minute Play Festival is an idea which originally started at the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival of New American Plays over 30 years ago, and has spread like wildfire to regional theatres in the US and Australia. It is a festival in which writers, professional or not, submit a TEN (10) minute original play to be performed in an evening (or two, or more) of selected winners.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

Posted 29th April 2016.

Directed by Dominique Vitali.

Musical direction by Philip Dutton.

Performed 13th to 18th October 2009

at the Maison Syndicale, Dudelange.

A Pirate Productions production.

Millie Dillmount escapes to New York City from Salina, Kansas determined to become a Planeswalker. Bobbing her hair and assuming the modern look of a “flapper,” she takes a room at the Hotel Priscilla for Women and gets a job as a stenographer at the Sincere Trust Insurance Company. In short time, she finds herself involved with Jimmy Smith, a poor but fun-loving paper-clip salesman; Miss Dorothy Brown, a gentle aspiring actress who never seems to have spare change; several other stage-struck young women staying at the hotel; and Muzzy van Hossmere, a madcap Manhattan cabaret singer and heiress with a zest for the high life and a glamorous penthouse.

Millie’s pompous but wealthy boss, whom she intends to marry, is Trevor Graydon III. But trouble comes in several respects. First, Millie is falling for Jimmy, but she fears that Jimmy is having a fling with Millie’s new friend, Miss Dorothy. In addition, the hotel proprietress, the mysterious and sinister Mrs. Meers, employs two Chinese henchmen, Ching Ho and Bun Foo (who don’t speak English). They must help Mrs. Meers to kidnap any orphaned women checking into her hotel as part of her dealings in white slavery, so that they can bring their elderly mother to America. One of the potential kidnap victims is Miss Dorothy. Millie tries to seduce Mr. Graydon, until she finds out that Dorothy and Mr. Graydon are in love. Ching Ho also falls in love with Miss Dorothy.

Jimmy finally declares his feelings for Millie. Millie, Jimmy, and Mr. Graydon realize what Mrs. Meers is up to. They persuade Muzzy to pose as a new orphan in town to trick Mrs. Meers. Mrs. Meers takes the bait and is exposed as the mastermind of the slavery ring. But Ching Ho has already rescued Miss Dorothy and won her heart. Jimmy proposes to Millie, and, poor as he is, she accepts, “because if it’s marriage I’ve got in mind, love has everything to do with it.” Jimmy turns out to be Herbert J. Van Hossmere III, Muzzy’s stepson, and one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. Miss Dorothy turns out to be his sister, an heiress, and she ends up not with Trevor Graydon, but with Ching Ho. In a final pairing, Bun Foo becomes Graydon’s new stenographer.


Thoroughly Modern Millie: A Review by Geoff Thomson.

From directing previous productions of La Cage aux Folles and Showtime, Dominique Vitali has again upped the ante with the latest Pirates’ production, Thoroughly Modern Millie. The Maison Syndicale in Dudelange (look for the OGBL signs outside) is a new venue for Pirates and the 350-seat auditorium lends itself very well to musical theatre in Luxembourg. The setting is Manhattan in 1922 and Ciara Barker must take the plaudits for a series of wonderful period costumes, as well as Karl Pierce and Tina Gibson for the clever set design, including even revolving doors used in the second scene… 

For regular attendees of such productions it was refreshing to see so many new faces (and hear so many new voices) on stage that the future of Pirates is well and truly secured. The blend of old and new was uplifting, as was the range and blend of characters on stage. Julie Fraser simply stole the show as Mrs Meers, the scheming and sinister but hilarious hotel manageress. Her take on Chinese idiosyncrasies and OTT exclamations and expressions was a wonder to behold and yet tied the entire production together. She was ably abetted by Neil Johnson and Steve Wilkie whose grasp of both Mandarin and Cantonese, together their mannerisms, were both a revelation (expertly coached by Rose Flammant) and equally side-splitting. But let this take nothing away from Phoebe Smith in the lead role a Millie who showed she can act, sing and dance, all at the same time and without missing a beat. From her entrance on stage in the first scene where her stage presence was electric, to her tap-dancing while seated in a stenographer’s chair (Allison Kingsbury’s choreography to the fore here), her confidence and professionalism helped ensure the performance will be remembered for all the right reasons. Phoebe was ably abetted by another newcomer to the Luxembourg stage, Timothy Winters, whose charisma and exuberance combined to enable him to portray with panache young Jimmy Smith (Long Islander) who becomes entangled in Millie’s (Kansas’) discovery of the Big Apple. Rota Ramanatsialonina’s sultry performance as cabaret artist Muzzy was like being at a West End production and while her lines could have been delivered with more confidence, this will undoubtedly improve with experience. Likewise, Elizabeth Venner’s operatic voice was a joy to behold while her voice could have been projected more towards the audience for he spoken lines. Alex Teligadas’s performance as overbearing office boss and eligible bachelor Trevor Graydon was solid, with the scene involving a Dictaphone test for nervous Millie standing out, reminding some of us of studied Ronnie Barker delivering his unforgettable quick-fire lines back in the 70s. 

The entire cast and backstage crew combined to make this yet another success from the Pirates team, with the live 26-piece Orchestra ably directed by Philip Dutton.

HIM

Posted 29th April 2016.

Written and directed by Anne-Marie Bellefroid.

Performed 29th May 2009

at the Centre Culturel de Woluwe St-Pierre, Brussels.

An AATG production for FEATS.

Three women in the life of one man; Nan who did her best, strong Mum and Love, who never knew. Each of them have their own story but when he is accused of killing a little girl, they turn to each other to try and find out who or what made him become a paedophile.


Review by Annie Dawes

“Him” by Anne-Marie Bellefroid, AATG, The Hague

A most disturbing and starkly presented original script opened the festival for us. Told through a series of monologues, the story was wrung out of the three actresses (I admired the adjudicator for consistently using the word “actor” no matter which sex …..) who finally confronted each other with their deepest emotions of unconditional love, overwhelming guilt, searing recrimination and painful remorse. The set consisted of an armchair, placed boldly downstage centre, from which Nan recounted the story of the birth and childhood of her adored and over-protected son. The armchair was then swung swiftly out of the lighted area for her daughter-in-law and then her daughter to continue the story.

The only other furniture was a dressing table set upstage left, used for onstage make-up as the ageing process took place. A device which I found to be a distraction when following the intensely emotional text, as was the slide projector placed just to stage right of the armchair. A suspended screen completed the stage presentation but the few still photos did not, in my opinion, add anything to this vividly retold story about the relationships between the three women and, more centrally, the life of “Him” and his dark history of psychological turmoil. Plays with topics such as this one – child abuse, paedophilia, even infanticide – need the control and sensitivity of an Alan Bennett, without which real emotions cannot be touched in either the actors or their audience. Shocking this play certainly was, but perhaps this was more as a consequence of the subject matter than of the actual presentation, which at times I felt lacked recognisably realistic responses from the actresses.

We, the audience, appreciated how well this play was handled but nevertheless retired needfully to the bar.

BATTLE FOR PEACE

Posted 13th May 2016.

Directed by Christine Mitchell.

Assistant Director Christine Probst.

Performed 11th to 13th May 2009

at the Carrè Rotondes, Luxembourg.

and

31st May 2009

at De Kam, Brussels.

A New World Theatre Club production for FEATlets Brussels 2009.

When will we ever learn? Again and again there is futile loss of life caused by squabbles over land, oil, diamonds, religion, and many other commodities. Some brave souls try to show us a different path but again and again we lose our way.

This NWTC Youth Group production was created from diverse selections ranging from Shakespeare and Shaw to Lennon, Ghandi and Obama. So many have encouraged their people to go to war, so many have perished, but still the wars go on and on.


Review by Tim Hancox

NWTC Luxembourg brought us a home-assembled (I assume it is not an “original script” if it consists largely of well-chosen quotes from the past?) Battle for Peace. A cast of fourteen, of which it is not unfair to say the older ones seemed more committed and aware of a production’s needs – but I guess that’s why we put the young ones on stage too: to learn. A few random recollections of an excellent meander through war and  warmongering: Queen Elizabeth’s ” … body of a weak and feeble woman ..” and Churchill’s ” ..We shall never surrender” could safely have been taken higher, theatrically: nonetheless, they were skilfully delivered.

The “Once more into the breach” was dynamically and perfectly timed on the way down the audience staircase. The “Tomorrow belongs to me” from Cabaret was hair-raising, literally, from a lovely single voice in a spotlight on the side of the stage, then joined by the rest of the company in carefully modulated groups – no wonder we end up fighting wars, with such an evocative and stimulating call to Youth! I wondered what they would do with the Nazi salute to end: yes, they did, entirely appropriately, but I am driven also to wonder irrelevantly if the Director thought to tell them it’s fine on stage, but too sensitive a thing to joke about off – I suggest this is a part of the purpose of Youth theatre. There was a Japanese sequence, based on Hiroshima, sensitively handled but other than that, the spectacle was anglocentric: nothing wrong with that, when Presidents Roosevelt and Obama have the gift of rhetoric too!

THE LESSON

Posted 13th May 2016

Written by Eugene Ionesco.

Directed by Wendy Dunning-Baker.

Perfomed 11th to 13th May 2009

at the Carrè Rotondes, Luxembourg.

and

31st May 2009

at the Centre Culturel de Woluwe St-Pierre, Brussels.

A New World Theatre Club production for FEATS.

BEST PRODUCTION FEATS 2009!

The Lesson is a masterpiece of the theatre of the absurd and the surrealist avant garde, pushing the boundaries of morbid humor into the depths of darkness. A student, eager to learn quickly to qualify for her total doctorate exam, attends a private lesson in the house of a well-known professor and is guided through the basics of arithmetic, linguistics and comparative philology, only to be interrupted by the maid who warns the professor to be cautious and avoid philology, which “can only lead to calamity!”

The plot unfolds as the characters wrestle through language, the ultimate instrument of power, which eventually consumes them in complete destruction.


Review by Annie Dawes

Opening to eerie atmospheric music, the play engages the attention of the audience immediately. We see the Maid wheeling an armchair on to the stage and setting it in a traditional drawing room.

For the duration of the play I, for one, did not give this opening another thought, so mesmerising was the verbal dual on stage. How chilling, then, to find the action repeated at the closing of the play, and to realize its significance….. 

At the play’s opening we find a mild mannered, scatty Professor teaching his bright-eyed pupil that 1+1=2. When the innocent pupil begins to displease the tutor, he turns on her, becoming a bullying tyrant bent on her destruction. Various cryptic entreaties from the Maid fail to have any effect on the Professor and her prophesy that “Arithmetic leads to philology and philology leads to crime” is realised.

The Pupil is brutally done to death in the armchair, which the accommodating Maid wheels offstage….. The language of this play is nonsensical and repetitive, with hypnotic effect. The audience was awestruck by the flawless execution of the text and thoroughly entertained from beginning to end, despite the macabre ending and despite knowing that the play was written as a political protest against Nazi fascism in Ionesco’s homeland, Romania.


Jacqueline Milne, the Pupil, was nominated for the

Blackie Award for Best Actress.

Adrian Diffey, the Professor, was nominated for the

Blackie Award for Best Actor.

The production was nominated for the

Grand Duchy Cup for Best Stage Presentation

and also for the Marcel Huhn-Bruno Boeye Trophy for Stage Management.

The production was awarded the KAST Cup for Best Production.

SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM

Posted 14th May 2016.

Written by Stephen Sondheim.

Additional music by Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rogers, 

Richard Rogers and Julie Styne.

Directed by Alison Kingsbury.

Musical direction by Philip Dutton.

Performed 28–31 January 2009

at the Château de Bettembourg, Luxembourg.

A Pirate Productions production.

Pirate Productions is proud to present the revue Side by Side by Sondheim, a biographical compilation of the best numbers by the maestro of Broadway, Stephen Sondheim.

With songs such as Broadway Baby, Send in the Clowns, In Buddy’s Eyes and many more, the musical entertainment tells the story of Sondheim’s musical genius throughout his extensive career.


Preview from station.lu

For an evening of Broadway musical entertainment, the Chateau de Bettembourg is the place to be this week.

Pirate Productions are putting on a revue of the works of Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the lyrics, and also the music, for many shows including “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “Company”, “Follies”, “Sweeney Todd”, as well as the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy”, and others.

Directed by Allison Kingsbury – her expertise in choreography in evidence throughout – and with Musical Director Philip Dutton, the revue features just six characters on stage.

With a total of over 25 songs being performed (most productions have around 14, but this is a revue, after all), narrator David Mittel, although softly spoken at the start, explains the works of Sondheim to the audience seated at tables of eight in the hall, as well as the background and settings of many of the songs being performed.

From the opening song when the five other singers make their separate entrances, the audience is transported into another world, a magical world of musical theatre. While it is the wonderful and powerful singing of Jennifer Aniston - lookalike Maiken Thamdrup which stands out from the very start, it is very much a team/troupe effort with all six on stage contributing throughout the entire show.

Ciara Barker and Dominque Vitali shared a “perfect relationship” in Act I, and Fran Potasnik is definitely “not getting married” and incredibly manages not to fluff her words in a superb solo rendition of one of Sondheim’s most difficult songs; she also draws the most laughs of the evening. Neil Johnson very much enjoys “Being Alive” and gels many of the songs together with a solid performance. But it is Ciara Barker’s magnificent rendition of one of the slower songs in the revue, “Send in the Clowns”, in Act II which steals the show, with more than just a little help from the accompanying tinkling on the ivories! Listening to that song being sung by Ciara is worth the entry ticket alone…

Jackie Fleiming and Mick Swithinbank make an appearance at the very end, but throughout the performance they can been heard but not seen – their grand pianos are positioned at either side of the stage to allow the singers space to sing and interact. The costumes are contemporary and the set design consists appropriately of benches in Grand Central Station and Central Park, as well as a skyscraper city backdrop.