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 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.
User Not Found , 25th April, 18:00 and 20:30 at Honesty Café at The Base
It’s the moment of your death. There’s a magic button. Do you delete your entire online legacy? Or do you keep it – and leave the choice for someone else? User Not Found is about our digital identities after we die. Audience members receive a smartphone and a pair of headphones and are immersed in one man’s story as he’s faced with keeping or deleting his partner’s online existence. A story of contemporary grief unfolds through this intimate, funny performance that gently interrogates our need for connection.
All About Eve, 28th April, 15:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Man Without a Past, 1st May, 19:45
One minute you know where you are. The next minute your mind's a blank slate... The lives of an eclectic community living in abandoned shipping containers are thrown upside down when a mysterious man arrives. With no memory of his name or former life, they begin to help him find his feet. Whilst a daily serving of soup from a local charity worker begins to nourish his heart and soul, the surprise rediscovery of his past puts his new life in jeopardy. Featuring a soundtrack from songs of praise to sultry jazz, this part melancholic love story, part-deliciously deadpan comedy takes you on one man’s extraordinary journey from anonymity to unexpected salvation.
The Taming of the Shrew, 5th June, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Tempest, 5th June, 19:45
The world’s first cycling theatre company, The HandleBards, pedals from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform environmentally sustainable Shakespeare across the globe. And what’s the play about? Well - a shipwreck washes the court of Milan up onto a mysterious desert island, inhabited by magicians, sprites and monsters, where nothing is as it seems. There’s magic, musicality and mystery aplenty! Expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.
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!
Wizard of Oz , 20th to 22nd June, 19:30 and 14:30 on Saturday
After a tornado whisks Dorothy away to the magical land of Oz, she starts her quest to find the mighty Wizard, who has the power to send her home. Along the way she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman and a Cowardly Lion who help her on her journey. Including many of the songs from the famous MGM musical.
Small Island, 27th June, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
The Canterbury Tales, 27th June, 19:30
A colourful cast of characters set off for Canterbury, competing to tell their tales of love, lust, adventure and chivalry. All of medieval life is here, with the wide range of social strata rubbing shoulders as the Miller, the Steward and the Wife of Bath (among others) all have their tales to tell.
Another England, 4th July, 19:45
Two unlikely companions from opposite ends of the political divide find themselves in a deserted house on the outskirts of town. Murphy, a cantankerous old bigot, filled with the pessimism of the end of the world, wants rid of Rat, a young woman driven by a passionate belief in people and their capacity for good. Desperate and in hiding, the two vie for the top spot in their underground world. They are both disabled people with a rich sense of their own identity and belonging, and are determined to fight for their right to occupy the house. A surreal satire unfolds as they explore their subversive underworld, a painful past emerges and they both find their identities challenged and their worth as citizens questioned.
Wizard of Winterbourne, 27th July, 19:00
Open lock to the Dead Man’s knock! Fly bolt, and bar, and band! Nor move, nor swerve, joint, muscle, or nerve, at the spell of the Dead Man’s hand! Newbury Youth Theatre present the tall tale of Wizard John Palmer, who famously exorcised a Boxford cottage, silenced the bells of Welford and stopped the curse of a dead man’s hand in Winterbourne.
Measure for Measure, 31st July, 19:00
See Theatre at the Cinema.
Aliens Love Underpants, 2nd to 4th August, daytimes
Aliens love underpants of every shape and size. But there are no underpants in space, so here's a big surprise! This zany and hilarious tale based on the best-selling children's book by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort is wonderfully brought to life on stage. With stunning effects, madcap action, original music (and lots of aliens of course!), this fantastically fresh and funny production will delight the whole family. You'll laugh your pants off! Age Guide: 3+
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.