December 2019

17 December 2019

Q&A with Helen Bovey, New Work & Talent Development Producer

Introducing Helen Bovey, newly instated Producer (New Work/Talent Development) at the Northcott. Helen will be running our new talent development programme, Exeter Northcott Futures.

We took a moment to sit down with her and talk about the role of theatre producer.

How did you get into producing?

I fell into producing after self-producing my own artistic projects. I discovered that I particularly enjoyed overseeing a creative process, enabling and watching an idea come to life. I think the best producers often do find their way into the role this way; it all starts with a love for making or watching theatre. I then began to take on projects and work with artists across the South West to realise their ideas. I am particularly excited by theatre which is responsive to the world around us – work where the audience is central to the creation of the art.

What do you enjoy about the job?

Being a producer is one of the most varied roles in theatre. It’s a role that’s always at the heart of the creative process, overseeing projects and ensuring everything runs smoothly (and to budget). The role starts long before the artists are in the room together, from choosing and hiring the creative team to designing the budget, to securing a location and the finances to enable it to happen. Once the project is in swing it’s about getting the message out there; designing and running marketing campaigns, liaising with the creative team and evaluating aims and outcomes. It’s safe to say that no two days are ever the same!

What are the qualities of a good producer?

A drive to make things happen and the willingness to get stuck in and adapt to the demands of a project. Skills needed include: organisation, management (leadership qualities), communication and professionalism. The producer is still a creative, so it’s important to know the industry, see as much work as possible and have a strong sense of different audiences and markets for the work.

Interested in becoming a producer?

We are now receiving applications for our Producers Programme as part of Exeter Northcott Futures. Find out more about this six-month programme designed to provide a practical introduction to the role of the producer and the specific skills/knowledge involved in mounting a successful production here.

Deadline: Friday 3 January 2020

Exeter Northcott Futures is made possible thanks to the kind support of The Mackintosh Foundation, Idlewild Trust and The Noël Coward Foundation.


12 December 2019

Live stream of Beauty and the Beast brings Christmas cheer to children’s ward and care homes

Children in hospital and care home residents watched a Christmas pantomime beamed live to remote screens after a pioneering initiative by the Exeter Northcott Theatre.

Youngsters in the RD&E’s Bramble Ward enjoyed a performance of Beauty and the Beast on Tuesday, December 10.

The live stream was made possible thanks to a generous £3,900 donation from the Exeter Chiefs Foundation.

An audience gathered in the hospital ward’s school room, joining in with the interactive fun, while some accessed the live feed from mobiles and others watched on devices from their beds.

At the same time, pensioners gathered around screens in residential homes, including Harbour Rise in Paignton, to enjoy the festive play.

After the show, cast members visited the ward, handing out signed programmes and posters and singing Christmas carols.

Artistic Director and Chief Executive Daniel Buckroyd, who wrote and directed the show, said:

“Pantomime is one of the things that makes Christmas special but unfortunately some people are simply not able to make it to the theatre.

“There are challenges to webcasting shows but we try to be as innovative as possible, particularly when it comes to access performances.

“The Exeter Chiefs Foundation has been incredibly generous in supporting this initiative. We launched live streaming last year and we hope to be able to make these events more regular.”

The audience at the 10.30am performance was made up mostly of local schools.

The production follows the fortunes of Belle, the most beautiful girl in Paris, played by Sarah Moss.

Moss visited Bramble Ward after the show along with Samson Ajewole, who plays Prince Valentin.

Anna Stolli, who plays the evil enchantress, Nightshade, and Francesca Pim, who plays Belle’s sister Soufflé, also met children on the ward.

Beauty and the Beast is the second show to be beamed live to a remote location by the theatre, following a webcast of Jack and the Beanstalk last year.

It was streamed online, via You Tube, but restricted to a small, remote audience.

The Exeter Chiefs Foundation awarded a grant to the Northcott to fund the purchase of video equipment to set up live streams.

Trustee Keiron Northcott said: “The Northcott Theatre is a huge asset to Exeter’s arts and entertainment scene and we’re proud to have been able to support them with this project.

“Particularly during the festive season, it’s great that the theatre is now able to reach audiences in different communities and allow more people to enjoy the arts.” 

Among the locations to sign up to the feed were Stallcombe House, which provides residential accommodation, and a place of work and personal development, for up to 27 adults with learning disabilities in Exeter.

Green Tree Court, a care home also in Exeter, also joined in.

Merle Weiner, Head of Activities, said: Our Residents thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

“Green Tree Court Care and Nursing Home would like to thank the Northcott Theatre for organising for our residents to be able to watch Beauty and the Beast live from the theatre.

“It was wonderful that all our residents could enjoy the panto and the smiles and joy on their faces was evidence that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show.”

05 December 2019

Artistic Director dons pink outfit and angel wings to save Beauty and the Beast Press Night after Cupid falls ill

Exeter Northcott Theatre’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive donned a pink suit, beret and angel wings to save the day after one of the stars of his pantomime was struck down by illness.

Daniel Buckroyd stepped in at the last-minute to play Cupid at the Press Night performance of Beauty and the Beast on Wednesday (December 4).

With usual actor Dafydd Lansley too unwell to perform, Buckroyd stepped up to the plate to perform the pivotal role of the show’s matchmaker.

He said: “This is the beauty of live theatre – anything can happen and we all pull together to ensure the show goes on.

“This morning I was in a management meeting and now I’m dusting off the angel wings ready to go on stage.”

“We have a fantastic cast and creative team and we’ve been delighted with the audience response so far.  There’s nothing like panto for bringing people together and getting into the Christmas spirit.”

Photo by Steve Tanner

Buckroyd wrote and directed the ambitious new production of the classic love story of a handsome prince who is transformed into a hideous beast and can only be saved by “true love’s kiss”.

It is the first time the story has been staged at the theatre.

The production follows the fortunes of Belle, the most beautiful girl in Paris, played by Sarah Moss, who appeared in Trevor Nunn’s West End production of The Lion in Winter.

Playing Prince Valentin is Samson Ajewole, who made his West End debut in the hugely popular The Comedy about a Bank Robbery.

Photo by Steve Tanner

Exeter favourite Steve Bennett returns to the Northcott stage for his 22nd professional pantomime, playing Belle’s father, Monsieur Marzipan.

Steve made his Northcott debut more than 30 years ago playing Philip Welsh in Terrance Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea and is known to TV viewers as PC Bob Daniels in Broadchurch.

Anna Stolli, who appeared in the West End production of Kinky Boots and toured internationally with Mamma Mia!, plays the evil enchantress, Nightshade.

Martin Ramsdin, best known for his alter ego Bunny Galore, host of the cult film TV show Bunny Galore’s Movie Nightmares, plays Dame Betty Bonbon.

Belle’s sister Soufflé is played by Francesca Pim, who appeared in the UK tours of Alice in Wonderland and Salad Days.

Daniel Buckroyd as Cupid

Cupid is played by Dafydd Lansley, whose theatre work includes Annie Get Your Gun an international tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Sebastian Rasmussen, a dancer in Mamma Mia 2 – Here We Go Again, and Hollie Nelson, a singer and dancer in Sherlock Holmes – the Musical, appear as the male and female understudies.

The Northcott earned a reputation for home-grown Christmas pantomime until 2010, reviving the tradition again in 2017 with Dick Whittington and last year with Jack and the Beanstalk.

Daniel’s previous panto productions have won plaudits, with five nominations at last year’s Great British Panto Awards, including one for best script.

The show has been used to launch a new initiative, which has raised more than £8,000 to give ticket to families who would otherwise not be able to come to the production.

The Pay it Forward campaign was launched by Sir Ian McKellen when he brought his one-man 80th birthday tour to the Northcott and shook the first bucket on stage back in July.

Since then, 1,500 people have donated, allowing the Northcott to give away 1,000 Beauty and the Beast tickets to the community via local charities, such as Live West, Devon Foster Families and Home Start.