The Corn Exchange, Newbury
0845 5218 218 (calls will cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company’s Access Charge)
The Corn Exchange, Newbury. Visitor information is here. Some performances may be at The Base, Communications Road, Greenham Business Park, Greenham, RG19 6HN. Unless a specific location is given for a performance, it's at the Corn Exchange.
The Corn Exchange is closed until further notice
Arthur's Dream Boat, 5th April, daytimes
One night, Arthur has an amazing dream about a beautiful pink and green boat with a stripy mast. He can't wait to tell everyone about it but no one (not even his dog!) is interested. In fact, they don't even notice that this very same boat is growing on his head, getting larger and larger by the minute! Soon, Arthur is bouncing along the waves in his very own dream boat. Maybe now his family will listen to him! A magical playful children's show with breathtaking puppets, based on the book by Polly Dunbar.
Oi Frog and Friends! Live, 6th to 7th April, daytimes
It’s a new day at Sittingbottom school and Frog is looking for a place to sit, but Cat has other ideas and Dog is doing as he’s told. Little do any of them know that chaos is coming... Who knew there were so many rhyming rules and what will happen when Frog is in charge? Join Frog, Cat and Dog in this new action-packed stage adaptation of Kes Gray and Jim Field’s bestselling books. Expect songs, puppets, laughs and more rhymes than you can shake a chime at.
The Jungle Book, 17th to 19th April, 13:00 and 18:00
Saved from the tiger’s jaws, baby Mowgli is adopted by a wolf family to embark on a journey of discovery to find his place in the animal kingdom, guided by his larger than life friends. But danger lurks around many corners in the jungle, with the ever-looming shadow of the terrifying tiger, Shere Khan. Mowgli must face his nemesis but in doing so, discovers that his greatest challenge lies within; neither a creature of the jungle, nor at home among people, he must find a way to accept who he is and to become who he must be. Featuring unforgettable songs and directed and designed by a professional team, the Corn Exchange Youth Theatre invite you to join them in the depths of the jungles of India, for a tale of adventure, bravery and self-discovery.
The War of the Worlds, 30th April to 2nd May, 19:45
Inspired by H.G. Wells’ sci-fi novel and Orson Welles’ classic radio play, this legendary science fiction thriller is playfully reimagined for our era of Fake News and ‘alternative facts’. Presented by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and written with Isley Lynn.
Horrible Histories - The Worst of Barmy Britain, 29th to 31st May
What if a Viking moved in next door? Will you roar with laughter with Richard the Lionheart? Has William Wallace met his match? Can King Charles keep his head? Why not light up your life with the great fire of London? Will you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke of Wellington get the boot? Find out what a baby farmer did and meet the Lady of the Lamp! Get ready for your great escape from the First World War! It's history with the nasty bits left in!
The Welkin, 7th June, 14:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
Leopoldstadt, 27th June, 19:30
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Winter's Tale, 28th June, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Comedy of Errors, 15th July, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
Reviews of Sleeping Beauty
29th November 2019 to 4th January 2020
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Snooze and you lose
Panto full of surprises courtesy of Plested & Brown
Sleeping Beauty, at the Corn Exchange, until January 4
There's a new production team at the helm of this year's Corn Exchange pantomime Sleeping Beauty and they have created an absolute cracker of a show, full of festive fun for all the family.
The foyer was beautifully decorated with a huge Christmas tree with chandeliers in the entrance to the auditorium and festoons of drapes with lights glowing inside, creating a magical atmosphere for this spectacular show. The excited youngsters and their parents were in for a real treat.
The panto is wittily written and inventively directed by Plested & Brown, who are no strangers to panto-land, having appeared in many of the Corn Exchange's previous Christmas productions. This high energy production performed by a talented cast is full of wonderful surprises. You simply must go to see them – you won’t be disappointed. The sparkling sets, impressive costumes and lighting are stunning.
Lara Denning is splendid as Fairy Frappuccino who visits Newbury Bottom to bring gifts for the arrival of the new royal princess. Her sister, the deliriously evil Fairy Kruger "no one's ruder" (Katharine Bennett-Fox) casts a curse on the new baby and quickly had the audience booing her and she relished their jeers.
King Arthur-itus (yes it was one of many groan-making puns), played by Nick Read, devises a plan to protect Princess Aurora, a delightful performance by Jay Alexandra Bennett, as long as she avoids pricking her finger on a spinning wheel needle.
Every panto needs a dame and Philip Elvy as Nanny Fanny Adams, wearing the most outlandish costumes, was outstanding and had an excellent rapport with the audience.
Matthew Grace returned for his eighth appearance as Billy Bumpkin, but this year wanted to be known by his own name, which created much hilarity – everyone loved him.
There was strong support from Charlie Bassett Cross and Therese O'Sullivan as the courtier and the company of enthusiastic local youngsters were spot-on. Ben Barrow is the reluctant Prince who breaks the spell and wakes up Aurora.
There was oodles of audience participation, a slosh scene with a very unexpected twist, loads of local references, slick choreography by Holly Hughes and the most exhausting hilarious delivery of the song "if I were not in pantomime this is what I'd be".
Perfect ingredients to start celebrating the Christmas season, oh yes it was!
Book your tickets soon.
Review from Newbury Theatre.
We’re back again in Newbury Bottom but this year’s panto has been written by Plested and Brown and directed by Adam Brown. The show is introduced by Fairy Frappuccino (Lara Denning) who takes us into a rousing song and dance opening of What a Picture from Half a Sixpence, reimagined here as What a Panto. And oh boy, it certainly is.
King Arthur Rightus (Nick Read) – Danny Dyer to a T – announces a royal birth, Princess Aurora, who is about to be christened. Enter Fairy Frap’s wicked sister Fairy Kruger who puts a curse on the Princess which says that she will die on her 21st Birthday. Katherine Bennett-Fox is splendidly evil as Kruger, and seems impervious to the boos she gets from the audience.
Now the King needs a nanny for Aurora, and Nanny Fanny Adams fits the bill. This is Philip Elvy in full dame mode with a sumptuous wardrobe of clothes and a rather scary hairdo. She wastes no time in wading into the audience and selecting a victim to sit on the naughty step. And don’t think you’re safe if you’re in the middle of a row – one or other of the cast may still get you. You’re probably safe in the circle though.
We can’t have a Corn Exchange panto without Billy Bumpkin, and better late than never he appears but tells us he wants to go upmarket and be known as Matt Grace (that name sounds familiar).
We step quickly through Aurora’s first 20 years and find she’s become a vet, and what she does with her thermometers and the rear end of a cow probably isn’t for the squeamish. Jay Alexandra Bennett is the lovely Aurora and tension rises as her 21st birthday approaches. Fairy K reappears, searching for Aurora and singing a song dissing the ‘Common People’ – us. We really hate her now, and even more when she’s rude about Thatcham!
Meanwhile Nanny is trying to get her birthday cake decorated, which for some inexplicable reason involves icing being sloshed down from on high. When they cover the stage with tarpaulins, you know someone’s going to get gunked – my money was on Billy.
Finally, despite warnings from the audience, Aurora does prick her finger on the spinning wheel and falls into a deep sleep.
Fuelled by ice cream and sweets, we’re ready for Act 2. But we’re lacking a prince to rescue Aurora. Don’t worry, we get one, and head towards the finale with Aurora, the King, Nanny and Billy singing the song If I Were Not in Pantomime This Is What I’d Be… with their choices of alternative careers becoming increasingly violent and manic. A hilarious end to the proceedings.
With strong, well-differentiated characters, fast action, excellent singing and dancing, and good audience interaction, this boisterous panto ticks all the boxes and is great family entertainment for all ages except the very young. Some of the jokes and double entendres were definitely for the grown-ups, but nothing in excess (if you want the excess, there are some adult-only performances!).
The cast was augmented by six local children from the Corn Exchange’s Young Company. They did a splendid job acting (including Noel, Sandi, Prue and Paul from Bake Off), dancing and singing. A special mention should go to the drunken vicar, but there’s no name-check in the programme – well done, you know who you are.
My co-reviewers thought the best bit was the cow’s bottom scene (Ellie) and the final If I Were… song (Dominic). Their favourite character was Nanny (Ellie) and Billy (Dominic).
ELEANOR SHAVE (aged 8)
DOMINIC SHAVE (aged 10)
For more details
see the Corn Exchange web site at www.cornexchangenew.com.
Great Expectations, 6th to 7th September 2019. See the review in the archive.
Jack and the Beanstalk, 30th November 2018 to 6th January 2019. See the reviews in the archive.
Beauty and the Beast, 1st December 2017 to 7th January 2018. See the reviews in the archive.
Dick Whittington, 27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016. See the reviews in the archive.
Aladdin, 28th November 2014 to 4th January 2015. See the reviews in the archive.