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.
Grease , 24th to 26th January
Step back to the 50s with the UK's largest youth musical theatre company. Welcome to the singing and dancing world of Grease, the most successful movie musical of all time. A wholesome exchange student and a leather-clad Danny have a summer romance, but will it cross clique lines?
Dirty Dusting, 30th January, 19:45
A chance wrong number gives three cleaning ladies a great idea: ‘Why not run a sex chat line?’ After all, their age and appearance won’t matter on the phone and, providing they can keep this a secret from their boss, they could be on to a winner. A heart-warming, feel good comedy. It will have you rolling in the aisles and smiling every time you answer the phone.
I'm Not Running, 31st January, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of Four, 12th to 13th February, 19:45
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s epic second Sherlock Holmes tale is brought to life in this spectacular new stage adaptation. When Mary Morstan arrives at 221B Baker Street to request help with the mystery of her missing father, Holmes takes the case and, with his companion Dr Watson, enters a murky world of deception and trickery. Together they unravel a complex plot involving murder, corruption and stolen jewels.
Horrible Histories: Brand New Barmy Britain, 12th to 13th February, 19:45
We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is everyone is dead! So it’s time to prepare yourselves for Horrible Histories live on stage with a brand new West End show that has never toured before - featuring all new scenes! Would you be shaken or stirred by Richard III? Mount a mutiny against King Henry VIII! See Mary Tudor knock the spots off Mary Queen of Scots! Will Queen Elizabeth I endure her terrible teeth? Would you be hanged by King James I for being a witch? Peep into the world of Samuel Pepys and help Georgian detectives find the headless man! Take a trip into the night with the night soil men and discover how to survive the first ever train ride! It's the history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!
A Super Happy Story about Feeling Super Sad, 6th March, 19:45
Sally's a happy person. She doesn't let little things to get her down and she almost never cries. But she's got an illness. It makes her feel like she isn't the person she wants to be, but she doesn't want anyone to know about it. It's joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar coated, unrelenting and completely super happy! (Except for all the bits about depression).
Bouncers, 14th to 16th March, 19:45
Lucky Eric, Judd, Les and Ralph are back and telling the tales of a Yorkshire nightclub. Of lads and lasses, sticky floors and shots galore, and the early morning taxi home, all under the watchful eyes of the Bouncers. Written by the multi award winning John Godber, this modern classic will see the boys catapulted into the 21st century! With contemporary music and an updated script to boot, this one’s worth getting dressed up for!
The Sooty Show, 23rd March, 11:00 and 14:30
Izzy Wizzy let’s get busy! Join Sooty for his brand new laugh-out-loud magic show. Direct from their hit ITV series, Sooty, Sweep and Soo and TV’s Richard Cadell will amaze you with impossible tricks and side-splitting jokes! Be astounded at Sooty’s flying car, Soo’s singing unicorn and Sweep’s levitating sausage!
A Brave Face, 27th to 28th March, 19:45
Afghanistan: 2009. Ryan is there to see the world, learn a trade, get a life. Training’s complete, combat is a buzz. But on one particular hot and desperate tour of duty, Ryan sees things he can’t talk about, to anyone. And when he returns home, the trouble really begins. A Brave Face explores Post Traumatic Stress: an unseen and often unrecognised injury of war, and the impact it can have on even the closest of families. With compassion and fearlessness, Vamos brings its trademark wordless, full mask style to a story that needs to be told.
No Kids, 29th March, 19:45
Should we have kids, or not? George and Nir are a real-life same-sex couple trying to answer a question many of us face. Every consideration – adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting, the environmental impact of childbirth, the fears and anxieties, how the past affects parenting and much, much more – brings with it a succession of ethical challenges. Together, George and Nir confront this chaos head-on. And invite you along for the ride.
Room on the Broom , 9th to 10th April, daytimes
Join the witch and her cat on their mission to defeat the dragon in this magical, musical adaptation of the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler favourite. The witch and her cat are flying happily on their broomstick when they pick up a friendly dog, a beautiful green bird and a frantic frog. But this broomstick’s not meant for five and – “CRACK” - it snaps in two... just as the hungry dragon appears! Songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3 and up and their grown-ups.
As You Like It, 17th April, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 19th to 21st April, 13:00 and 18:00
C. S. Lewis’s classic tale is brought to life on stage by the Corn Exchange Youth Theatre in this magical adventure which has been captivating families for nearly 70 years. Evacuated from London during the Blitz, the four Pevensie children are sent to live in the country with the eccentric Professor Kirke. Whilst exploring the vast house one rainy day, the youngest of the four, Lucy, finds an enormous wardrobe unlike any other… Stepping through, she finds herself in a strange snowy forest inhabited by wonderful creatures who aren’t altogether human. But an excited and enchanted Lucy returns to disappointment as she realises her brothers and sister are unwilling to believe her discovery. Until one fateful day, whilst seeking refuge in the wardrobe, all of the children cross into the extraordinary land of Narnia and quickly find themselves embroiled in a fight between good and evil that will change them forever. Featuring beautiful songs and directed and designed by a professional team, the Corn Exchange Youth Theatre invites you to a land where it is always winter but never Christmas, for a timeless story of courage, loyalty and friendship.
The Taming of the Shrew, 5th June, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Three Musketeers: a Comedy Adventure, 12th to 14th June, 19:45
A hilarious new comedy adventure that will have you rolling with laughter from here to the French countryside. Armed only with a baguette and his questionable steed, join hot-headed D’Artagnan as he travels to Paris full of childish excitement and misplaced bravado to become a Musketeer. Will things go to plan? It’s unlikely! With four actors playing over 30 characters this will be their most hilariously chaotic adventure yet!
Measure for Measure, 31st July, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
Reviews of Jack and the Beanstalk
30th November 2018 to 6th January 2019
Review from the British Theatre Guide and Newbury Weekly News.
The gang are back in Newbury Bottom and they're full of beans
A gigantic helping of magic at the Corn Exchange
Jack and the Beanstalk, at the Corn Exchange until January 6
It’s panto time—oh yes it is!—and the Corn Exchange is looking very festive with a gorgeous tree in the foyer and the auditorium beautifully decorated with festoons of lights, striking murals painted by the community and beanstalks growing up the walls.
This year’s adventure is Jack and the Beanstalk, once again written and directed by Phil Willmott, and he has conjured up the perfect ingredients for a ‘Ginormous’ fun time.
This very special Christmas treat is filled with all the traditional panto elements: wonderfully lavish, sparkling costumes, colourful set, a huge beanstalk and a truly scary giant.
There are some dreadful jokes, some aimed at the adults, including references to Brexit and also local issues such as the green bin costs. There is oodles of audience participation and tomfoolery and the audience loved every minute of it. Watch out for the giant beans and tomato sauce and the hilarious version of Old Macdonald’s Farm.
The ever-popular, talented Matthew Grace makes a welcome return to the stage as Billy Bumpkin. He has a wonderful rapport with the audience who gave him an enthusiastic welcome and we were all happy to join his ‘gang’.
Back in Newbury Bottom, Mrs Bumpkin and her two sons are struggling to make ends meet. Jack, splendidly played by Harry Downes, is on a gap year before going to university whilst his brother Billy does all the chores and looks after Daisy, the blue and pink spotted cow.
Joshua Coley, who was nominated for the National Best Comedy Duo last year, makes his fourth appearance at the Corn Exchange playing the role of Pickle Onion with aplomb. His rivalry with Billy is a joy to watch.
The evil Sir Dastardly is planning to buy up the village and build luxury apartments. Danny Stokes makes a deliciously nasty villain that the audience loved to boo.
High up in the sky, the Giant is getting hungry and his servants, Pickle and Fairy Alfalfa, delightfully performed by Emma Fraser, are trying to save the village from the Giant’s wrath.
Thank goodness for Jill, the professional giant tamer. A feisty performance from Hannah Ponting, who has a lovely singing voice and also falls in love with Jack.
Every panto needs a Dame and Eamonn Fleming, making his Newbury debut, is simply superb with so many costume changes and outrageous puns.
There is excellent support from an accomplished, large, hard-working ensemble: Mikulas Urbanek, Laren Anderson-Oakley, Danny Chesworth and Eva Ross-Davie.
Daniel Maguire’s slick, inventive choreography sparkles and the cast dance with energy and style. The Abba parody compilation is wonderful.
The first act finale, This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, is outstanding and reflects the high professional standards created by this year’s company including impressive lighting by Guy Dickens and music by Richard Baker and Harry Haden-Brown that raise the bar.
All too soon it’s time for the song sheet singing competition and of course it all ends happily.
The Corn Exchange has a “gigantic” hit with this family-friendly panto that should definitely be on your Christmas list. Not to be missed!
Review from Newbury Theatre.
This was the first panto I’ve been to at the Corn Exchange, so I didn’t know what to expect. But the audience clearly did, welcoming back familiar faces from previous years, especially Matthew Grace as Billy Bumpkin, appearing in his seventh Corn Exchange panto. Other returning performers were Joshua Coley as the camp Brummie Pickle Onion and Emma Fraser as Fairy Alfalfa.
Billy warmed us up with jokes and a song, then we met his brother Jack (Harry Downes) and their mum Betty (Eamonn Fleming as a splendid Dame), all living in Newbury Bottom with their much loved cow Daisy. The story of how the cow gets sold for a bag of beans is well known, but there was a twist here – Betty gets tricked into selling Daisy by Sir Dastardly Blaggard (Danny Stokes, who is clearly the baddie from his first appearance, and deserves all the boos he gets). Meanwhile Alfalfa and Pickle, minions of Giant Blunderbore up in the sky, come to Newbury Bottom in a flying saucer to warn the inhabitants of the giant’s carnivorous intentions and to regale us with some terrible jokes.
Writer and director Phil Willmott gets in some local references including West Berks Council’s £50 green bin charge, calling Thatcham a dump (how dare he – that’s where I live) and a naughty dig at the Watermill’s Christmas show. The green bin plays a big part in the madcap ending to the first half, with the cast throwing an assortment of Mrs B’s shopping at the audience, including a teddy bear, a pair of knickers and the contents of a box of cornflakes. The action – and audience interaction – gets more frantic leading to a big song and dance finale.
In the second half, our heroes (including Daisy!) have climbed the beanstalk to the giant’s castle. They give us an Abba song and dance routine with Daisy, including Dairy Queen and “Thank you for your cheeses, for giving us your brie”. At last we get to see the giant and very impressive he is too, at nearly four metres, but more cuddly than scary. I’d have liked to have seen more of him.
It all leads to the inevitable happy ending including a singalong competition for the audience.
The colourful multi-layered set matched the mood of the panto and music was provided by Richard Baker and Harry Haden-Brown. The production hasn’t stinted on costumes – there was a great variety, especially for Dame Bumpkin (although the Handmaid’s Tale costume seemed rather unnecessary). The energetic dancing, choreographed by Daniel Maguire, gave the ensemble a chance to shine.
Phil Willmott has been writing these panto scripts since 2008 and he clearly knows what Newbury likes. Some of the jokes and especially the potter’s wheel scene were a bit near the knuckle, but nothing to prevent this from being a great family show.
So, what are you looking for in your Christmas entertainment? If you want a show peppered with d-list celebs or a sedate, cerebral show, this isn’t for you. What you get here is a traditional pantomime with good acting, song and dance, some awful jokes and lots of audience interaction.
For more details
see the Corn Exchange web site at www.cornexchangenew.com.
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.
Jack and the Beanstalk, 29th November 2013 to 5th January 2014. See the reviews in the Archive.