Catch a West End show for free in South Quay
The West End really has come East as productions are clambering to rehearse at Lanterns Studio Theatre in South Quay. And it’s great news for theatre fans as each show that visits is asked by Lanterns’ boss Janet Viola to hold a free open rehearsal.
Last month Bronowski Productions’ Hairspray, produced by Oli Somes, did just that.
Oli said: “It’s such a fantastic space. You come in here and then you’re not bothered for the rest of the time. In other theatres where there’s performances going on it’s very distracting. The performers hate it. “Open rehearsals are great for the cast – it’s the first time they’ve been able to perform the show in front of an audience and they get some feedback.”
In the coming months Wayne Macgregor’s Random Dance Company will provide open classes and workshops. Jamiel Laurence from Lanterns said: “Check our website and Facebook pages as we announce how you can be involved.”
Ballet Central bring their tour to South Quay this Friday
Final year students from the The Central School of Ballet will perform part of their Ballet Central Tour at South Quay this Friday.
The school’s touring company Ballet Central works with a mixture of highly acclaimed and emerging choreographers on newly commissioned works and much-loved revivals.
New works this year will be from Daniel de Andrade (Northern Ballet), Christopher Marney (Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures) and Sara Matthews (Director, Central School of Ballet).
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Ballet Central features an exciting programme of ballet, contemporary and jazz dance. The varied repertoire features a mixture of newly commissioned works and much-loved revivals, which showcase the talent of the company’s young and emerging dancers.
“Ballet Central performed at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This family-friendly show is ideal for dance enthusiasts as well as those new to ballet. Don’t miss this opportunity to see these highly talented dancers as they launch their professional careers.”
July 5, £17-£25, Lanterns Studio Theatre, Unit D, Great Eastern Enterprise, 3 Milharbour, South Quay, lanternsstudiotheatre.co.uk.
South Quay theatre space is set to move underground
Lanterns Studio Theatre will be getting a new home underground, in a recently approved development at South Quay.
Owner Janet Viola has fought to have a settled home for Lanterns for many years and is delighted the theatre is included in the scoping report for the new Millharbour Village development, intended for 3 Millharbour and 6-8 South Quay.
Within the report submitted to Tower Hamlets Council, it says: “The Millharbour Village scheme, which will rise to between 18 and 40 storeys, would involve the demolition of all the buildings on the site, and will also include a new state-maintained primary school and replacement Montessori Primary School and Lanterns Arts Nursery, School of the Performing Arts and Studio.”
Janet said: “[Galliard Homes] has told me the theatre will be on the old Audi garage site underground with my nursery above it.
“This is such great news. We are so thankful to Galliard for recognising the importance of the theatre in this area. We want Lanterns to be seen as the place to go for ballet and have a fantastic programme to prove this.”
The theatre will continue to run its busy schedule and has many ballet companies in residence on its site ahead of the works.
A Galliard Homes spokesman said: “We are aiming to submit in July with an anticipated decision in spring 2015.”
Galliard Homes wants to secure planning permission next year and expects the scheme to take five years to complete.
What’s On: Adam Kay, Amateur Transplants
In 2005, London Underground – a hilarious and unflattering depiction of travelling by Tube recorded by Amateur Transplants to the tune of The Jam’s Going Underground – became one of the first songs to go viral.
Almost everyone had an email with it on or carried it around on their phone.
For Adam Kay, who recorded the song, it was a massive surprise even though he and fellow band member and medical student Suman Biswas had been gigging for seven years.
“It literally happened over the course of a day or two,” he said. “A bloke I knew texted me and said he had just been emailed my song. Over the next 24 or 48 hours I think the whole of my phone book had texted me as well.
“YouTube was in its infancy but everyone was sending it to eachother. It definitely helped even though we didn’t make a penny out of it back then. .
“But then rather than doing shows where no-one had heard of me, people knew the song. So it sold shows.”
Seven years on and Kay performs solo after Biswas made the decision to devote all his time to medicine.
However, the song that took them to new heights of success endures because of its subject matter.
“About two years ago we put a bunch of songs from a couple of albums on iTunes and that song did very well,” said Kay, who is performing a one-off gig on the Isle of Dogs next month.
“You only have to have been on the Tube once to understand it. I was actually late for a meeting this morning because the District line was having some issue.””
Kay’s decision to leave the medical profession has reaped rewards for comedy fans and he’s been selling out theatres across the country.
However, it’s a loss to the sick and weary – and the prospect of damaged karma persuaded him to give tens of thousands of pounds of his earnings to Macmillan Cancer Support.
“Originally everything we made from gigging went to charity but as it got bigger our management company told us it didn’t make sense,” he said. “So I decided to give 10 per cent to charity.
“You go into medicine because you’re good at science and want to help people and that is what I miss about the job – – it definitely wasn’t the hours, the blood and the general disruption to your life.
“But I miss the interaction with patients and the feeling you’ve done a good thing.
“In comedy people tell you they think you’re funny but that’s not quite the same.”
Before a six-week nationwide tour this spring, Kay is doing a performance at the Isle of Dogs newest venues, the state-of-art Lanterns Studio Theatre near South Quay.
Lanterns plans to host a number of musical and theatre shows over the coming months after the venue received a Yamaha piano Elton John used to use to practise on.
Lanterns director Janet Viola is hopeful the acquisition will attract talent.
Kay said: “Someone from Lanterns approached me after a gig I did recently as they wanted to put some comedy on down there.
“So I went to the venue to see if it was suitable. It’s a great space for comedy with a fantastic piano.
“Normally when a comedy club says they have a piano it’s a 40-year-old beer-soaked keyboard but this is something else completely.”
Elton’s old piano strikes right note
A new performance space in South Quay may not have much at present, but it does have Elton John’s old piano.
The arrival of the instrument has been taken as a good omen by the woman behind the project which aims to add to the roster of small-scale venues in area, alongside Greenwich Playhouse and The Space.
It was Yamaha which donated the top-of-the-range grand piano, regularly used by the singer-songwriter for warm-ups.
Director Janet Viola said: “The people from Yamaha came down here and said it was a fantastic space and they wanted to get involved. The piano just arrived from that.
“Since then we keep getting calls from people saying ‘how have you got the piano?’
“One of those who called us were Trinity Music College and they came here and played it on the opening night. This could start something pretty spectacular. There could be a full orchestra here.”
The piano was squeezed in through an upstairs fire escape.
Yamaha is now also looking at offering more equipment to transform the Lanterns School of the Performing Art’s Music department into a Yamaha Music School for the Local area.
For Janet that’s just part of a dream for a vast 20x20m performance area that could accommodate pantos, community events, ballet and jazz nights.
Small-scale shows are already being performed in the space at the Millharbour facility but more investment is needed to improve the facilities.
Janet is looking to raise £35,000 to upgrade the floor to international performance standard and £20,000 for high quality seating stand with a 400 capacity.
Janet says once the money is in place it could make for an extraordinary venue on the Isle of Dogs.
“Docklands Arena and Cabot Hall closed so there’s nothing really around here apart from The O2 that will produce something for everyone in the arts,” she said.
“We’re only a few stops from Covent Garden and this will bring people east.”