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Website Updated 06/04/16
This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues and their own extended group of friends. It costs nothing to join us but must be by personal introduction from another member of the group. We provide tickets at group discounts (and coach transport from Southend, if required) for London theatres. We do not sell tickets to the public. 
Welcome to our Theatre Group website - we hope you will find all the information you need.  
Organisers: Fredo & Mike - E-mail: or 
>Latest Offers: It's time to make a booking -  
Groundhog Day: the musical + The Bolshoi + The Go-Between: the musical 
+ Lawrence After Arabia + Wild
Details of all Available Bookings are shown on the Current Bookings page - 
click HERE or on the individual ads above.  
 Extra Discounts for our Donmar Friends
>Next Theatre Visits:
Monday 11 April 
at the Donmar Warehouse 
Welcome home, Captain Fox! 
/Review round-up 
"Blanche McIntrye's production, with a sea breezy Mark Thompson design, gives it just the right comic gloss." 
"This almost farcical fantasy somehow combines Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Oscar Wilde-ish self-creation and the feelgood factor of It's A Wonderful Life. Thoughtful fun." 
"This is a great cartoon fun, an identity crisis comedy that seems the perfect thing for spring, a great way to shoo away the winter blues."
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 12.30am; Chalkwell Schools: 12:35; Elms: 12.40; Thames Drive 12:45; Hadleigh 12:50; Gt Tarpots 12:55;  Five Bells: 13.00
Sunday 17 April 
3.00pm matinee 
at the 
Menier Chocolate Factory 
A devious must-see: French playwright Florian Zeller completes a dazzling hat-trick with this confounding and unsettling tale of infidelity  
Tuesday 19 April 
at the Shaftesbury Theatre 
(Third visit out of three) 
Libby Purves 
I expected a big splashy jukebox musical, a-glitter with tearful Broadway sentiment and popster’s all there rendered at gale force twelve in innumerable changes of very shiny clothes. The choreography even catches with gloriously absurd precision those old-style Vegas moves. But rejoice! beyond the retro panache lies a thing of wit, dry intelligent self-knowledge.
Updated 24/05/16 -   
What we see without the Group:  click HERE or on the ads below
>News and Information: Please scroll down the page    
  The Donmar has a tradition of rediscovering forgotten plays, and allowing audiences the opportunity to reconsider them. Jean Anouilh, once a very popular dramatist both on the boulevards of Paris and in the West End with plays such as Ring Round the Moon and Time Remembered, is now largely forgotten, so it's a welcome return to the theatre for his first success, Le Voyageur sans Bagage, freshly - very freshly - made over by Anthony Weigh as Welcome Home, Captain Fox!
  Weigh has reset the play from France in 1937 to exclusive Long Island in 1959, and at the Director's Forum performance, he admitted that he had added quite a lot of humour to Anouilh's original. He explained to Assistant Director Jack Sain that the play was based on fact: an amnesiac soldier in WW1 had been found on the railway line in France, and over 300 families had claimed him. The idea of the "lost man" is a French theme: think of Jean Valjean and Martin Guerre. In discussion with Donmar director Josie Rourke, he had realised that a character's reinvention of himself is a very American theme - think of The Great Gatsby and Don Draper from Mad Men. The concept of the play developed from that (and the Anouilh family were pleased with the result).  
  The play had been running for four weeks when we saw it, and Anthony found that the performances were deeper, richer and darker. Rory Keenan, who plays Captain Fox (Gene) with irresistible charm, agreed: the play was now embedded with the actors, and the audiences go with the flow of the play, accepting when it's appropriate to laugh or to be silent.  
  Jack identified a lot of resentment in Captain Fox, but Trevor Laird, who takes the important role of James, the butler, disagreed: Fox was created by his circumstances, but in his new persona of the amnesiac Gene, he is what he is. Trevor had worked out a timeline for Fox's story, following the death of his father up to his enlisting in the army, and had examined the character development from that perspective. Anthony and Rory agreed: a person's moral character is informed by their history: Gene's amnesia wipes the slate clean. 
  Sian Thomas, who brings a steely determination to Mrs Fox, Captain Fox's mother, agreed that her character was guilty of a lot of bad mothering. She's a control freak, who is never wrong, and will win any battle, whatever the cost. She added that her wig and costume helped her to find Mrs Fox: she put them on, looked in the mirror, and thought, "Yes, she's here!" I suspect that the cast will find it difficult to abandon their chic period costumes to the wardrobe department when the play ends its run!
  The cast had watched several American movies of the period (including The Apartment) to find the tone of the piece, and Rory said that Anthony's script rings true; it reeks of the era. He enthused that his role is one that actor's dream of playing: it's romantic and heroic without being mawkish or ironic.  
  Anthony added that this is a comedy, not a farce: Anouilh thought of himself as closer to Sartre than to Feydeau. Like many comedies, there is a dark heart at its centre, and the witty script and elegant performances (including a tour de force from Katherine Kingsley, channeling Lucille Ball) add up to an evening of delightful and thought-provoking entertainment. 
Fredo   22/03/16
HE'S STILL HERE - Stephen Sondheim at the National Theatre 
  It's several years now since Stephen Sondheim announced that he had made his final visit to London, when he came to see the Donmar's production of Passion. Never say never: Mr Sondheim, who looked old and grizzled when he sat along the row from us in that theatre, has crossed the Atlantic several times since then, and on 11 March conducted a lively Q&A at the National Theatre before a notably young and very enthusiastic audience. 
  We've heard him being interviewed many times over the years, so was there anything new in what he had to say? And if there wasn't, would it matter?  Sondheim is indubitably a master of the theatre, and has had a long and distinguished career. Rufus Norris, conducting the interview, made it clear that we didn't need to go over old ground, but asked him if there were any of his shows that he would like to see staged at the National Theatre.
  Sondheim recalled that 4 of his shows had been mounted very successfully there, and that though he'd had minor issues with two of the productions, it was an honour to have a show presented by the National Theatre of Great Britain. Looking around the Olivier stage, he commented that it would be a great theatre for Gypsy - but then last year's production with Imelda Staunton had been tremendous... 
  He recalled that he had written the songs for Gypsy specifically not just for the character Rose, but Rose as she would be played by Ethel Merman. He had repeated this trick on Sweeney Todd: in order to persuade Angela Lansbury to accept the role of Mrs Lovett - he wrote three songs for that character as she would be played by Miss Lansbury (it worked!). However, he emphasised that those were the only occasions when he had written with a particular performer in mind. He'd witnessed Arthur Laurents write a show for Lena Horne, only to have her withdraw a week before rehearsals were due to begin, because she'd had a better offer. Normally, when Sondheim encounters a character whom he wants to get to sing, he tries to think of them as someone he knows, and finds their voice that way. 
  Mr Sondheim has always been generous in his praise of his collaborators, and he acknowledged his productive working relationships first with director Harold Prince, and subsequently writer/director James Lapine. His most fulsome praise was for his orchestrator of many years, the legendary Jonathan Tunick. He recalled giving Tunick the score for A Little Night Music and telling him he wanted it to seem as though perfume was emanating from the orchestra pit. "Oh, you mean strings," replied Tunick, who provided what was required. 
  By and large, Sondheim's shows have not translated well to the cinema screen. He says he's a movie buff, but disclosed that he is not a fan of the movie of West Side Story. The potential for threat and violence inherent in the stage version didn't translate to the screen: he didn't feel threatened by it. On the other hand, he did think the screen treatment of Sweeney Todd was conceived as a movie, and was more successful. 
  Before taking questions from the audience, Sondheim laid the ground-rules: he would not comment on the work of any living composer or lyricist, as that could be hurtful - and no photographs. Someone did use a camera, and was sharply rebuked. Otherwise, the interview was absorbing and at 86, Mr Sondheim remains a nimble and fascinating interview subject. And I suspect that this won't be his last visit to London.  
Fredo   16/03/16 
We like the West End Whingers, Andrew and Phil, for their pithy reviews and sometimes their comments on audiences and theatre trends. And talking of trends, here's another they have whinged about. 
"What discombobulated Phil even more than the play was the ordertorium menus in the back of every seat at the Duke of York’s. What’s this disturbing new trend? You can choose and order drinks and snacks (Pringles/Corkers Crisps/2 litres of popcorn – salted or sweet – grrr) to be brought to your seat before the show, presumably because you’re so used to eating copious amounts of snackery you can’t – or can’t be bothered to – get off your fat arse to go and get them yourself. 
We can’t wait to see people waving their stupid menus in the air shouting “Waiter/usher, what’s the noisiest, most annoying nibbles on offer today?”. Though even worse, you can order it through an App too, which will only further encourage people to use their phones in the theatre. For the record, this was the 5th consecutive time in Phil’s theatre and cinema outings he’d had to ask/tell someone to turn off their glowing screen." 
Popcorn at the theatre! Whatever next?! As if Maltesers were not noisy enough. And it was at a serious and short play, The Father, that snacks were being offered. Apparently audiences can now not even refrain from eating for 90 minutes, just like some seem to think they will die of dehydration if they don't swig regularly from a water bottle. When they have appetite for Theatre, they should remember "The play's the thing", NOT their stomachs. 
Mike   15/03/16 
Ticket Price Watch update 02/03/16: 
It was certain to happen - the new regime at the National Theatre has brought in a new price range which of course includes higher prices. The top price is now £60, or £65 at weekends. They don't call them Premium seats as most West End Theatres do but, using the Lyttelton as an  example, they are the best centre Stalls seats in the middle of rows F to L.  These 'best' seats are not availabe to groups at a discount, just as Premium seats are excluded to groups in the West End. The best seats we are allowed to book for you are..... 
Click HERE to continue 
MIke 02/02/16
Casting announcement for The Truth: 
The cast has now been announced for The Truth at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the highly anticipated play from Florian Zeller who gave us the hit plays The Father and The Mother. Leading the cast will be Alexander Hanson (from musicals A Little Night Music and Stephen Ward); he will be joined by Frances O'Connor (from tv's Mr Selfridge and The Missing) with Tanya Franks (a well known face from EastEnders) and Robert Portal (returned from Around the World in 80 Days at the St.James). Good news indeed. 
Mike   20/02/16 
Franks, Hanson, Portal and O'Connor
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Venice Footnotes 
+ photos 
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Hearing Devices 
now available in many theatres. They may be of help to YOU.
Libby Purves 
Click on the Cat 
to read Libby's reviews 
Ticket Price Watch:  
For updates on higher prices and what the producers want you to pay. We also give you occasional news on any Discount offers -  
Click HERE
Updated 04/02/16
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Theatre Tokens: 
They make ideal gifts for theatre-going friends. They are available in denominations of £20, £10 and £5 and can be used to buy theatre tickets at all West End theatres and the half-price tkts booth in Leicester Square. You can buy them from us and we accept them too.