copy of the programme - The Queen's Theatre

copy of the programme - The Queen's Theatre

Charity Gala Concert Performance

Sunday 20 July 2008


10 years of cut to

the chase…

Winner - Best Musical

Olivier Awards 1990


queen’s theatre



From A Jack To A King

A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Phantom Of The Opera


Romeo And Juliet

Shirley Valentine


Oh What A Lovely War


The Glass Menagerie

“A spectacular


The Guardian



“Engaging and versatile cast”


It’s A Fine Life!

The Daily Mail

The last 10 years has seen some great

successes at the Queen’s Theatre, thanks to

high-calibre performances from cut to the

chase… the Theatre’s resident ensemble of


Regularly playing to packed houses, this

multi-talented group has grown in strength,

breadth and popularity, presenting a colourful

variety of theatre from musicals and comedy

to Shakespeare and pantomime.

With a whopping 86 shows performed over

the last decade, long-serving company

members, Queen’s Theatre staff and local

theatre critics share their thoughts on the

ongoing success of cut to the chase… and

the company’s highlights over the years.

Artistic Director Bob Carlton says his

personal high point has been gaining

audience’s trust, consequently being

able to introduce more adventurous

theatre, such as bringing Shakespeare

back to the Queen’s stage after an

absence of many years. And crucially,

over the decade, viewing figures have

rocketed from an auditorium which was

just 25 percent full to 85 percent.

“It is very gratifying to know this

was achieved through hard graft and

without having to compromise our

standards,” he says.

Mary Redman, Theatre Critic for The Stage

and Essex Chronicle, admires Bob’s success

in bringing more challenging titles to

Hornchurch through cut to the chase…

She said: “Bob and the company came

in like a breath of fresh air and shook

everything up, very subtly introducing

more demanding work. For example,

The Importance of Being Earnest was

staged in 2001 and A Midsummer

Night’s Dream gently slid in in 2003,

presented in an easy way for people

to appreciate.”

Musical Director Carol Sloman,

who has been involved in some

35 productions in her nine

years with the Theatre, has

The company

are experts”

The Times


In The Midnight Hour

“Real panache and winning charm”

The Guardian

Happy Birthday to cut to the chase…

especially enjoyed seeing how music and

actor-musicianship has helped to characterise

the success of cut to the chase…

“I love the way music has been integrated

in the stories and how it has managed

to keep its place,” she says. “It has really

given character to the company and

the Theatre.”

The strong collaboration between members

of cut to the chase…, the Queen’s Theatre

Community Company and Youth Theatre in

Blitz! (2000) has been a particular highlight

for Associate Director Matt Devitt - because

it perfectly exemplified a theatre at the heart

of the community.

For Box Office Manager Jan Sullivan, a

permanent company like cut to the chase…

brings theatre staff and actors closer together.

She smiles: “It makes for a sense of

overall unity in the Theatre. I am

delighted to have formed many lasting

friendships with actors here.”

Administrative Director Thom Stanbury and

Barking and Dagenham Post editor Barry Kirk

both admire the uniquely strong ties between

company members in cut to the chase…

Thom firmly believes actors collaborate better

because they are familiar with each other’s

ways of working and the ensemble format

should be more widespread.

Barry agrees: “The concept of cut to

the chase… as an ensemble company

of actor-musicians was a revelation.

The teamwork among members is

unbelievable - there is no one star, but

instead a group of individual quality

talents working together.

“Also, the creativity of productions

offered by cut to the chase… is such

that you never know what to expect.

And it is this surprise element,

together with the consistently high

standard of theatre that makes you

keep going back for more.”

The 39 Steps


The audience

stamped and

cheered their


The Independent

A Message from the Ship’s Captain

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

Welcome aboard the Intergalactic Starship Albatross

We are currently traveling at slightly under the speed of light on this routine

scientific survey flight. We will shortly be passing through the Romford-Nebula

which you will be able to see through the starboard portholes.

But for the moment, kindly ensure you are safely strapped into your seat - our solar

weather forecaster predicts Great Balls of Fire and Good Vibrations ahead,

so we could be in for a bumpy but thoroughly exciting ride!

Now allow me to draw your attention to the in-flight entertainment this evening -

a faithful re-enactment of 20th century music, specifically from the rock ’n’ roll era.

As you know, this special offering is in celebration of the 10th birthday of the Albatross’

intergalactically-renowned company of android entertainers cut to the chase…

The style may strike you as archaic, but I assure you, in its time, this music was hailed

“explosive” - rather like that meteor shower you can see right now out of your portholes!

So cast your mind back a few centuries and savour these age-old favourites.

The ship has a full range of leisure facilities, including a fully functional replica

of a 21st century café and bar. This feature is generated by a bank of holographic

replicators, though this should not affect the taste and nutritional value of

any historical products purchased.

And there are even more antiquated theatrical gems on the cards when you

travel with us again. Highlights include John Godber’s September in the Rain,

about a human couple enjoying meteorologically-challenged coastal holidays;

Noël Coward’s Hay Fever explores bad etiquette in 20th century

well-heeled society; and The Mummy’s Tomb by Ken Hill, a spooky comedy

featuring a dead body unusually swathed in bandages. And rounding off

the year is the retelling of the Dick Whittington tale - part of the

strange ancient custom of Christmas family pantomime.

Finally, on behalf of the Albatross crew, I would like to express

my heartfelt thanks to you for choosing to fly with us

tonight - your presence will help ensure that the

Starship is able to continue its much-valued services

around the Havering galaxy and beyond.

Enjoy your flight.

Captain Tempest

The Big Bang

- How a Planet

Bob Carlton

Do not reverse polarity!

Diana Croft and Fredrick Ruth (2002)

Sarah Beaumont, James Earl Adair and Ian Conningham (2002)

2008 marks 25 years since the birth

of Return to the Forbidden Planet.

Bob Carlton, Artistic Director

of the Queen’s Theatre and the

show’s creator, explains how this

Planet came into being.

The idea for Return to the Forbidden Planet first came

about when I was Artistic Director of the Bubble Theatre

in the early 1980s. The show was the result of the marriage

of two successful concepts - actor-musicians and inventive

borrowing from Shakespeare.

The Bubble was a company of actors and musicians who played a

repertory of shows around the parks of Greater London in a Big Top

style tent. It was formed by a visionary director called Glen Walford

and from her, I inherited the tradition of presenting one Shakespeare

production, one family play and two children’s shows every year.

When these shows had been rehearsed, the actors and the band

would get together to put on a late night cabaret. The show would

consist of some of the company’s favourite songs, which, considering

our vintage, normally turned out to be sixties standards. And intriguingly,

these songs were often dramatised as two-minute psychodramas.

With the Bubble, Glen had created a sort of evangelical company

which brought plays and musicals to people who would not

normally go to the theatre. As such, she was adamant that

all their shows should have music in them, recognizing the

power of music to draw in non-theatre-fans. It is also from

Glen that I inherited the model of a company of eight

actors and a band. The band was often augmented by

any actors who could play a musical instrument.

This format had its problems though. While actors were

constant, musicians would often be tempted elsewhere

by better paid gigs, sending other musicians in to replace

them. This wasn’t helpful because more often than not,

these replacements had not familiarised themselves with

the music. The crunch came in my second year at the Bubble,

when we were doing a production of Bertolt Brecht’s Happy

End. I wanted the band to march in dressed as a Salvation Army

Band playing the opening number, but the Musical Director told me

they couldn’t because they would have to carry their music as they had

not learnt it yet.

“A cult hit”

Evening Standard

As a result, I decided the perfect solution for the next season would be to do

away with the band altogether and only employ actors who could play musical


The effect on the audience of performers both acting and playing music

was profound. This is because viewers appear to have a much higher level

of admiration for musicians and this seemed an excellent technique to reel

people in. Audiences who don’t go to the theatre often don’t always appreciate

the skill that acting demands. Perhaps they think anyone could be an actor if

they had the nerve to stand on stage and the capacity to remember the words.

Amazingly, their perception seems completely different if someone can play

three chords on a guitar - this makes the person a musician! And, well, if you

are able to act as well as play music… respect! The season was a tremendous

success and the idea of the Bubble’s company of actor-musicians was born.

Frederick Ruth an

Adrian Cobey (2001)

was born

d Diana Croft (2001)

Before the 1982 season began, I met with

the company’s Musical Director Kate Edgar

to discuss ideas for that year’s band show

and suggested linking all the songs with a

story. As we always did a Shakespeare at

the Bubble, I suggested nicking the story of

Macbeth (well Will himself had nicked a few

stories in his time!). We went down the local

pub for a pint afterwards and as we walked

in, an old bloke was playing From a Jack to

a King on the piano. We realised that in two

minutes, Ned Miller (the songwriter) had told

the protoplot of Shakespeare’s great tragedy and we had found the

central song in what was to be The Hubble Bubble Band Show. This

was, of course, later retitled From a Jack to a King when it went

to the West End.



Daily Telegraph

Frederick Ruth (2001)

The success of this forty-minute late night show led to the

board asking me to write a full-length show in a similar vein

for the 1983 season - and this is really when Return to the

Forbidden Planet was born. I remembered an old sci-fi film

from the fifties that I had liked called Forbidden Planet, which,

despite the appalling B-movie dialogue, had had great reviews

because it imaginatively nicked its plot from The Tempest. This

inspired me to return to my copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works

to do the same cut-up job I had done for From a Jack to a King!

The gestation period for the idea was about eight months

between summer seasons, but the actual writing only

took me two weekends. Having discussed my plot

outline with the company, I wrote Act 1 over

one weekend and then worked it through with

them over the rest of the week. The next

weekend, I wrote Act 2 and worked on it

with the actors during the week. Happily,

Return to the Forbidden Planet went on to

become a big success around the London

Parks that year.

And that, we all thought, was that.

Afterwards, many of us then went our

separate ways - feeling I had served my time

at the Bubble, I decided to go freelance while

the company split up. Matt Devitt, the first Cookie,

went off to become the doyen of children’s television;

Bill Dare, who played Ensign Jockey Schwarz, an original

Planet character cut in later versions, went off to produce Spitting

Image; Annie Miles (Miranda) became a soap star and the rest

of us, as is the way with actors and directors, continued to ply

our trade in theatres from Lands End to John O’ Groats.

One of the freelance jobs I was offered was a production

of the Western Shane at The Everyman Theatre Liverpool

(then run by my old Bubble mentor Glen Walford). But just

before production began, disaster struck and the rights to

the show were refused. In desperation, Glen asked me to

put on “that science fiction thing based on The Tempest”

that I had put on at the Bubble. Although I was reluctant

to do this at first, as I felt it had been written for a specific

audience and an ensemble company, I eventually agreed. It

proved such a success that we remounted it the next season.

The Company (2002)

Ian Conningham and Sarah Beaumont (2002)

Fredrick Ruth and Sarah Beaumont (2002)

Frederick Ruth (2001)

Frederick Ruth, Philip Reed and James Earl Adair (2001)

The Company in rehearsal (2002)

The Company in rehearsal (2001)

“ Had the crowd

bopping in the

Among the audience in Liverpool was the

aisles and me

actor Fred Molina, who was rehearsing

screaming along

Macbeth down the road at The Liverpool

to all the songs”

Playhouse and, unbeknown to us, he said

Daily Telegraph

how much he liked our show to Nicholas

Kent, who was programming his first season

at The Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. Nick then

decided to put on Return to the Forbidden Planet

as an alternative panto. At the time, I was contracted to

Mersey Television to direct Brookside, so Glen was charged

with directing the show.

It was at the Tricycle that Andre Ptaszynski, the famous Olivier Awardwinning

producer, saw and fell in love with Planet and decided to put it

on in the West End. Negotiations started immediately with MGM, who

owned the rights to the film Forbidden Planet. After months of waiting,

MGM refused and there the story seemed to end yet again.

Fast forward several years. I had done two-and-a-half years on Brookside

and was about to leave as soon as I had finished the spin-off series

Damon and Debbie. Bobby Aitken, the sound designer on the

original Planet and I were having a pint one day, when he

suggested we got the old Bubble company together

and put on a show “just for a bit of fun”. It turned

out most company members were available, and

with the addition of Alli Harding and Christian

Roberts, we formed the co-operative company

Rhythm Method Productions (a tribute to the


The Times

many lapsed Catholics in the cast!) and took

From a Jack to a King to the 1988 Edinburgh

Festival. Again the show was a success and

the Belgrade Theatre in my home town of

Coventry asked if we would perform the show

there. We decided we would prefer to put on

Planet instead and they agreed.

But in the meantime, a breakthrough happened -

MGM had changed hands and the new owner Ted

Turner agreed we could have the rights to perform

Return to the Forbidden Planet afterall. Andre Ptaszynski

offered us basic funding in exchange for the rights to produce the show

in the West End and the rest is history.

Planet opened on 18 September 1989 at The Cambridge Theatre to

rave reviews. Despite the critical acclaim, only about 300 people saw it

each night and, heartbreakingly, after just six weeks, we were preparing

to close. But a second breakthrough occurred when an amazing review

on Gloria Hunniford’s TV show sparked huge Box Office queues and

the show was saved. The following April, Planet won the 1990 Olivier

award for Best Musical and ran for four years in the West End.

The show has been seen all over the world and nominated for numerous

awards. Its success eventually worked its magic at the Queen’s Theatre -

when faced with terminal financial problems, we mounted a production

which went on to tour nationally to full houses, thus allowing the Queen’s

to remain open.

Live Long and Prospero

Bob Carlton, July 2008

The Company in rehearsal (2002)

Returning to Planet

We catch up with cast members from past productions of Return to the Forbidden Planet

who explain why they couldn’t miss out on one more intergalactic flight…

Allison Harding

James Earl Adair

Loveday Smith

Miranda - 1989, West End;

Science Officer, 1996, National Tour

It was a big shock when we won the Olivier Award,

we were just about to go on stage when it was

announced. So, as you can imagine, Wipeout was

performed at about 100mph and Kraig Thornber,

who was Ariel the 6’8” silver robot on roller skates,

leapt really high in the air!

The show has led to many good roles, most

recently the musical Honk! at the Watermill Theatre,

Newbury and I am about to start a Singapore tour

of Blonde Bombshells of 1943.

The show’s music appeals to all age groups - we

have had 11 to 80-year-olds dancing in the aisles!

It will be so good to see everyone again - once you

do Planet, cast members become extended family!

Dr Prospero - 1999, 2001 and

2002, National Tour

I was part of cut to the chase… for about five

years and I enjoy the whole ethos at the Queen’s

Theatre, so I always look forward to coming back.

People enjoy Return to the Forbidden Planet on

so many levels: the live evergreen rock ‘n’ roll

numbers; the homage to the film The Forbidden

Planet; and Shakespeare buffs try and spot

references to his plays. It’s all cleverly linked

and the concept is great fun.

You can watch the show time and time again

and always spot something new. It not only

attracts the old faithfuls, but also a new

following of youngsters and teenagers.

Damage Control - West End

and Japan 1993

The show holds special memories for me as it’s

where I met my husband Julian Littman, who played

Cookie in the production in Japan and is Musical

Director of this show.

Taking Planet to the West End was amazing, there

were 1,300 people on their feet going crazy. It was

the best feeling - I’ve never had anything quite like it

since. In Japan, the show had to be simultaneously

translated, but the audience still went bonkers!

Performing in it has given me lots of confidence and

since then I’ve had roles in The Good Companion in

the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and From a Jack to

a King in Wimbledon. I’ve recently played in

The Mousetrap in the West End and in September

I’ll be performing in an actor-musician version of

Animal Farm at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Wendy Parkin

Diana Croft

Scott Finlay

Damage Control - West End,

National Tour 2002 and Japan 1993

I wanted to perform in this show because this is a

good chance to raise money for the Queen’s Theatre.

I was part of Planet’s second West End cast, which

was exciting and the response was massive. Because

the piece had been developed by the first cast,

there was a lot of pressure to match up to them, but

Bob is a good director and redirected the show

focusing on the strengths of the new cast.

Because I play the guitar, he created a slot for me

to play it in. Being an actor-musician is never dull -

there is always something to do when you’re not in

character. Instead of going to your dressing room,

you become part of the band. This also bonds the

cast as a team, so you feel much closer to your

colleagues than you would in a normal play.

Science Officer - 2001 and

2002 National Tour

I joined the Queen’s Theatre in 1998 when big

changes were starting to happen, so I wanted to

be involved in this show. I owe a lot to this theatre,

so I jumped at the chance to celebrate 10 years

of the company.

Redoing the old songs and lines will, for me, be a

little strange because so much has happened since

the Tour - most importantly I am now a mother!

Return to the Forbidden Planet was fantastic and

really stretched me as a musician, actor and singer

because blending the songs with Shakespeare was

a challenge. Everybody loves the show’s music and

those songs never die. Planet has also lightened

Shakespeare, so his work becomes easier for

people to relate to.

Axel Dent - 2001 and

2002 National Tour

I knew I wanted to perform in Return to the Forbidden

Planet when I first saw it - it looked like everyone was

having so much fun! And when I joined, it was a blast

every night, especially as I was working with some

very talented, brilliant people.

Since being in the show, I have worked with actormusicians

as musical director of Over the Rainbow:

The Eva Cassidy Story and in the national tour of

the musical Buddy.

Planet has something for everyone - from rock ’n’

roll fans to the sci-fi community. And there are

professors of English who get every Shakespeare

reference - but very few have actually understood that

the spaceship is bleeping in iambic pentameter!

thank you for your support!

Not only does tonight’s Charity Gala Concert Perfomance of Return to

the Forbidden Planet toast 10 years of success for cut to the chase…,

it is held in aid of the Queen’s Theatre’s Development Fund to raise

money for the valuable work the Theatre does throughout the region.

The Queen’s Theatre is a registered charity which depends on public

support to finance its diverse programme and range of community facilities.

Every penny of your money this evening will go towards helping the

Queen’s continue delivering a top-quality service - from producing a

vibrant variety of entertainment to its extensive education work.

cut to the chase… appear in eight Main House shows every year and

company members also present four Queen’s Theatre-in-Education

productions, touring primary and secondary schools across East

London and Essex.

The Theatre’s varied Education and Outreach Programme is aimed at

young people and adult groups to inspire and provide opportunities for

study, performance and professional development. Services include

youth theatre and dance groups, school workshops and work experience

placements, a new writing programme, backstage tours, theatre talks

and Community Plays.

Our ticket prices are consistently among the lowest in the country, and

the Queen’s subsidises the cost of workshop places for children and

adults. In order for the Queen’s to continue its vision of affordable, high

quality theatre and entertainment, we constantly need to raise funds.

be a supporting act

Here are just a few ways you can continue to support the work of

the Queen’s.

Make a donation !

Why not make donation to help us continue and develop our work

If you are a UK taxpayer and Gift Aid your donation, we can claim

back from the Treasury 28p for every £1 you donate.

To make a donation call 01708 462349 or to donate online visit

Leave a lasting legacy

Remembering your Queen’s Theatre in your will or by making a memorial

donation means your name and generosity continues to go on, giving

future generations the chance to enjoy our work for many years to

come. For more information on how you can leave your legacy, call

01708 462349.

For more information and other ways you can help the Queen’s Theatre

to thrive, visit



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