Sylvia

Old Vic Theatre
The Cut, Waterloo, London

EXPECTED 2019 - dates to be confirmed

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Sylvia

Kate Prince's hip-hop musical Sylvia in London - following a 'work-in-progress' season in 2018

A modern hip-hop dance musical celebrating the life of the British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, her pivotal role in the campaign for women's rights and the price of the passion and politics that tore her family apart.

In 1918 'The Representation of the People Act' allowed for women over the age of 30 to vote providing that they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register. It was not until 1928 when women received the vote on the same terms as men, over the age of 21. The three sisters, Sylvia Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst and Adela Pankhurst, where the daughters of Emmeline Pankhurst.

[SEE ALSO: the similarly named Sylvia - a comedy by A R Gurney staged at the Apollo Theatrein 1996]

Initially staged in 2018 to mark 100 years since the first women in Britain were granted the vote in 1918. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the First World War centenary.

PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, due to a combination of cast illnes and a lack of time, the official 'Opening Night' of the initial 2018 season of this production was indefinately postponed and remained at the 'preview stage' as a 'work-in-progress' for the entire run, with the show presented as an "enhanced concert-style version, performing songs with excerpts of choreography". It is hoped that a 'fully-developed' version will return to London during 2019.

When this production was seen here at the Old Vic Theatre during the last week of its September 2018 season, Ann Treneman in the Times said that, "at three hours, Sylvia is too long by an hour at least," adding that "the dancing is fluid if, at times, a bit predictable. There is, however, just too much of everything... The obvious star is the trailblazing and ruthless Emmeline, and not just because Beverley Knight is full-out fantastic in the role." Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph highlighted that "Josh Cohen and DJ Walde's stirring, funk-muscled hip-hop score is a powerful character in its own right here, although it needs a serious edit and in truth yields only a few standout tracks... It's not just that Priya Parmer's book is often muddled, it's that Kate Prince leaves it to the music's call-to-arms rhythms and her own slogan-style lyrics to do the talking. For a story packed with incident, there's precious little actual dramatising going on... on the evidence of this, it needs a rethink, not a few more weeks' rehearsal."

The cast for the 2018 season featured Genesis Lynea as 'Sylvia Pankhurst', Witney White as 'Christabel Pankhurst', Verity Blyth as 'Adela Pankhurst', and Beverley Knight as 'Emmeline Pankhurst', with Delroy Atkinson as 'Winston Churchill', Carly Bawden as 'Clementine Churchill' / 'Annie Kenney', John Dagleish as 'Keir Hardie', Jade Hackett as 'Lady Jennie Churchill' / 'Edith Garrud', Todd Holdsworth as 'H. G. Wells' / 'Silvio Corio', Izuka Hoyle as 'Emily Davison', Tachia Newall as 'Lloyd George' / 'Lord Cromer', Maria Omakinwa as 'Ada', Karl Queensborough as 'Harry Pankhurst', Ross Sands as 'George Bernard Shaw' / 'Richard Pankhurst', Elliotte Williams N’Dure as 'Flora 'The General' Drummond', and Jaye Marshall. Directed and choreographed by Kate Prince. Written by Priya Parmar and Kate Prince, with music by Josh Cohen and DJ Walde, and lyrics by Kate Prince, Josh Cohen and DJ Walde. Previewed 1 September 2018, Opened 6 September 2018 (indefinately postponed), Closed 22 September 2018.

Beverley Knight's West End stage credits include the role of 'Felicia Farrell' in Christopher Ashley's production of Memphis the Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre 2014; and the role of 'Rachel Marron' in Thea Sharrock's production of the stage musical The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre in 2013 and Dominion Theatre 2016.

Witney White's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Lily' in Sally Cookson's production of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls at the Old Vic Theatre in 2018; and the role of 'Samantha Powden' in Steven Dexter's production of the Elliot Davis and James Bourne musical Loserville at the Garrick Theatre in 2012.

Kate Prince's London theatre credits include I Can't Sing! The X-Factor Musical at the London Palladium in 2014; the dance show Into the Hoods for ZooNation at the Novello Theatre in 2008, then at the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2009 and 2010, and an updated Into the Hoods: Remixed staging at the Peacock Theatre in 2015; and three seasons of the dance show Some Like it Hip Hop for ZooNation at the Peacock Theatre in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Sylvia in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 1 September 2018, opens on 6 September 2018 and closes on 22 September 2018 - described as a 'work-in-progress' - the scheduled 'Opening' on 6 September 2018 was indefinately postponed


Sylvia - comedy by A R Gurney at the Apollo Theatre 1996

Previewed 9 May 1996, Opened 20 May 1996, Closed 1 June 1996 at the Apollo Theatre

A new comedy by A R Gurney's new comedy Sylvia in London starring Zoe Wanamaker

In New York's Central Park, Greg, a middle-aged menopausal Wall Steet trader, is befriended by a stray dog, Sylvia, who he then takes back to his apartment. It's love at first stroke for Greg and Sylvia, but Greg's career-centred wife, Kate, is rather less than enamoured by the new shift in his affections.

The cast stars Zoe Wanamaker as the dog 'Sylvia', Maria Aitken as 'Kate' and Robin Ellis as 'Greg' with Neil McCaul as 'Tom / Phyllis / Leslie'. Directed by Michael Blakemore with designs by Hayden Griggin, lighting by Howard Harrison and music arranged by Denis King. This production was originally scheduled to play up to 21 September 1996 - but early closing notices where posted just days after opening. A R Gurney's other West End plays include Love Letters.

"The American A R Gurney's gimmick of a play is about one man and his dog, the stray he picks up in the park. Or does Sylvia pick him up? For the ace up the author's sleeve is that the bitch in Greg's life is played by the fabulous Zoe Wanamaker. With cropped peroxide hair, tatty jeans and sneakers, she is an appealing and often funny pooch with more one-line jokes than a mongrel has ancestors. Quite brilliant, in fact. But, unfortunately, Mr Gurney has only the one card with which to come up trumps and non-stop canine capering, plus a flimsy plot concerning Greg's obsession and the jealousy of his wife does not constitute a winning hand. Neil McCaul, with a trio of cameo roles, matches Ms Wanamaker in skill and sheer bravado in trying to invigorate a rapidly tiring hound, but even they cannot prevent the first recorded incident of a comedy rolling over to play dead." The New of the World

"I have to admit that the American playwright A.R. Gurney has conceived something unusual in writing the character of his Central Park stray for an actress. Against this achievement, of course, lies the fact that he cheats most dreadfully in allowing the dog to converse with her new master and be understood... The human characters are woefully two-dimensional, bereft of any past, only faintly concerned with any present other than what bears upon their relationship with the dog. True, the play was probably never intended as more than a jeu d'esprit, a piece of fluffy nonsense floating on the premise that an actress should play a pet. And while I enjoyed Maria Aitken's way with throwaway dismay, the production's only significant purpose is, indeed, to show how cunningly Zoe Wanamaker acts canine... Michael Blakemore directs this silliness with understanding of how a dog would behave if it looked like Zoe Wanamaker and was able to quote Homer." The Times

"Good dog! This canine comedy bounces with the good health of a neat yet simple idea and consistently funny script exploited by a uniformly adept cast... A four-legged variation on the Look Who's Talking movies theme might pall if that were all there was on offer. But in a lighthearted way the play addresses the relationship between pet and owner, not least that element of uncertainty over which is which. Robin Ellis and Maria Aitken are unselfish foils to the leading lady, as the husband and wife whose marriage creaks under the strain of two females under the same roof... Sylvia might not make the cut as a searing commentary on the human condition, but it is unforcedly droll and an airy demonstration of one of the hardest stage disciplines, light comedy. Recommended for an evening of amusement." The Daily Mail

Sylvia in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 9 May 1996, opened on 20 May 1996 and closed on 1 June 1996