Sally Cookson’s vision of Narnia will restore your faith in theatre
The Sunday Times, December 1 2019, 12:01am
THIS WEEK’S THEATRE
Whizzy adaptations of cherished classics sometimes make me harrumph: the boastful destruction of the old, the dumbing-down, the way directors will jemmy in their political views and warp the original text. Grrr. Although there are a couple of strange moments in Sally Cookson’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was swept away by this colourful, accessible production and dazzled afresh by the great Christian allegory of CS Lewis’s story. The boldness of it all! Just in time for Advent, here is Aslan sacrificing his life to save “the son of Adam”. His dead body lies on the altar of the Stone Table and all seems lost to the wickedness of the icy White Witch. Then that table splits, Aslan is resurrected and we…
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Following a week that brought Jacob Collier two new Grammy nominations to add to his previous pair of wins, plus three new Coldplay songs to include on his ever-expanding resume of wide-ranging collaborations, the 25-year-old producer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and poly-octave vocalist releases “Time Alone With You,” featuring Daniel Caesar.
The new single is the first preview of Collier’s forthcoming album, Djesse Vol. 3, due in spring 2020.
Since Jacob Collier partnered with Genius to teach YouTube how to play H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part,” he and Caesar have connected as creative partners. Caesar joined Collier onstage in Toronto (during a concert where Collier rhythmized, improvised, and harmonized the sold-out crowd); Collier sang on Caesar’s CASE STUDY 01 cut, “RESTORE THE FEELING”; and now, Caesar repays the favor on one of Collier’s most provocative and unpredictable grooves to date.
Though the two made “Time Alone With You” in Collier’s famous London home studio, the ongoing, four-album series of Djesse has taken Collier around the world. Each edition explores new scopes of sound, defining itself in terms of style and space.
The sweeping symphonies of Vol. 1 and close acoustics of Vol. 2 each earned Collier 2020 Grammy nominations. For his immense, crosscontinental reimagining of “All Night Long,” he’s up for Best Arrangement (Instruments and Vocals), and for the over five thousand vocal takes that make up his rendition of “Moon River,” he’s up for Best Arrangement (Instrumental or A Cappella). Collier previously won both categories in 2016, which gives him a Grammy nomination for every album he’s released in his career.
“Moon River” features contributions from over 140 special guests, including Daniel Caesar, Tori Kelly, Ty Dolla $ign, and Chris Martin, who Collier also sings with for three songs on Coldplay’s brand new album (“Church,” “Cry Cry Cry,” “Everyday Life”).
On the heels of Djesse Vol. 1 and 2, Collier sold out shows across the US, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South America. Last week, he announced the 35-stop, spring 2020 leg of his DJESSE WORLD TOUR, spanning 29 of his biggest North American performances yet.
A STOCKTON artist, whose work is becoming increasingly present across Teesside, has been chosen to create an official piece for a landmark theatre.
Graphic design artist Abby Taylor was recently enlisted to create an illustration of The Globe, the iconic entertainment venue on Stockton High Street which is currently being restored by Stockton Borough Council.
In its heyday, the theatre was the centre of a buzzing nightlife and entertainment and in its time hosted legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees, Morecambe and Wise, T-Rex and The Beatles.
Miss Taylor’s illustration features the venue as it looked when it first opened in 1935 and she has worked closely with The Globe team to make sure the finished piece was as accurate as possible – even receiving a hard hat tour of the building during the ongoing renovation.
As the building has been through many visual changes, she had to piece together a complete image of the original venue by sifting through an archive of old photographs and architectural plans.
A highlight of the illustration is the swanky car parked outside, which would have belonged to the local butcher that set up shop on The Globe premises back in 1935, and was reportedly a big fan of flash cars.
She said: “Illustrating this beautiful Grade II listed building was no small task.
“The Globe is considered to be of national architectural importance, but I was determined to do it justice.
“I was lucky enough to get a hard hat tour of the building during the ongoing renovation, which gave me some insight into what a breathtaking space it was, and will be again, once it reopens in November 2020.”
In recent months, Miss Taylor was also commissioned to restore the mural of Saint George the Dragon Slayer in Stockton’s Green Dragon Yard – a piece that was first created by iconic artist Zac Newton before he passed away.
Miss Taylor’s design for The Globe theatre will represent the restoration of its heritage while proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to preserving it.
Stockton Borough Council’s Globe project manager said: “Working with Abby was an absolute pleasure. She is a talented professional, listens to the requirements of the client and brings her creativity to the process.
“Abby understands the value of the artwork and demonstrated originality as well as in-depth knowledge of the sector. She worked incredibly hard for us, within a tight timeframe.”
The illustration is available as an A3 art print which will be sold for £8 and an A6 postcard for £1, which can be purchased from Rediscover Stockton and Preston Park Museum.
Postcards can also be picked up at the Hampton by Hilton. All proceeds will go towards supporting The Globe community organisation, which will celebrate the building’s heritage into the future.
Miss Taylor is also set to create a second illustration of the Globe as it looks once the restoration is complete.
More information about Miss Taylor’s illustration work can be found at iamabbytaylor.com
Celebrate the holidays with a traditional rendition of A Very Star Wars Christmas: A Musical Parodyat the KiMo Theatre. Learn the real meaning of Forcemas along with Darth Vader as he struggles to direct the school Forcemas pageant. See your favorite Star Wars characters sing and dance to four original songs written just for this production. Performances run this Friday, Dec. 6 at 7pm, and Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2pm. Tickets for this all-ages show start at $8. Come early to take pictures with members of the 501st Legion, aka Vader’s Fist. (Joshua Lee)
On average, only 37 people per day buy movie tickets at the Avalon Theatre
There has been a significant amount of misinformation from the community surrounding the announcement that, come January 1st, 2020, we will no longer be showing nightly films at the Avalon Theatre. In order to correct the record and give everyone an accurate understanding of why we made this difficult business decision, please see the below facts:
There is no hidden agenda behind our decision. The Casino remains open for events, daily tours, special occasions, and of course, high school graduation, and the theatre’s architecture, decor, and equipment will all remain intact and maintained.
The only change we are making AT THIS TIME is that the Avalon Theatre no longer will show movies nightly.
The primary reason for this decision is declining attendance, which is not unique to our theatre. Many movie theatres in small town America have had to close their doors due to declining revenue. Gross national box office revenue is down across the entire movie industry.
Since 2016, attendance at Avalon Theatre is down 26%. When you compare 2019 year to date with 2018, attendance is down 12%. Excluding the five “Blockbuster” films shown so far this year, the theatre has averaged only 37 people per day. Our most popular film this year, The Lion King, averaged 165 people per day during its run. This means very few residents and visitors are watching movies at Avalon Theatre. We need 134 people each evening to cover all our costs.
From Jan. 1 – Oct. 25, 2019, movie studios, on average, charged us 60% of our box office ticket sales to show their movies. Disney, whose family-friendly films account for many of movies we show, charged 65%. Some studios charged a staggering 92%!
Despite the limited audience our small town provides, studios are not willing to negotiate these terms. It is out of our hands. To make this business even harder, studios also require that the newest movie releases must run for a minimum of one week and have seven “premium showings” during the theatre’s most popular hours. Additionally, larger feature films often require runs of two or more weeks, which proves extremely challenging when 65% of our moviegoers visit within the first week of a three-week run.
We tried waiting longer after a film was released before showing it in order to receive one-week terms. Even then, studios were so inflexible that they kept their terms similar as if the movies were still new releases. Attendance did not improve, primarily because the movie was out in theatres for so long or it was already on DVD.
We kept ticket and concessions prices down for years in order to draw crowds. However, keeping prices low did not increase attendance, so we were forced to raise both ticket and concession prices to make up for poor attendance. Our efforts to increase revenue by offering higher-priced expanded food and beverage options also proved unsuccessful.
Some of you suggested we show older films and classics. We tried this in previous years with dismal results. It’s worth noting that, even with these types of films, studios still take at least 30% of ticket sales. We also explored offering different show times, including two nightly showings, as well as a nightly showing and a matinee. None of these tactics increased attendance.
Because of declining attendance and the Island Company’s ever-increasing significant subsidy expenses, last week I approached our Mayor, Anni Marshall, to see if the City of Avalon would consider helping underwrite the expense of showing films at Avalon Theatre. She quickly responded “no.”
We have met and are continuing to meet with island residents to hear their thoughts and ideas about showing movies on a regular basis.
Hopefully these facts help you to better understand our difficult situation and give you some data.
On a final note, please know that the executive team of the Island Company cares deeply—not only about the Theatre and the Casino that houses it, but also about all the iconic and charming buildings of Avalon.
Over the past few decades, we have worked to preserve and or restore those structures, including the Country Club, El Encanto, and, most recently, Hotel Atwater. The Island Company also placed the Chimes Tower in an independently run private charity for it to be beautifully restored. (Also, the Island Company is headquartered in Avalon with a satellite office in Irvine.) We respect our past, and with your help, want to build on that foundation.
If you have any questions regarding our decision, please do not hesitate to contact me.