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We chat with Neil Foster – Actor / Manager
Essex Lifestyle
May 18, 2021

Neil Foster is Actor / Manager and owner of the Birmingham Stage company – 

John and Charles of Essex Lifestyle spoke to Neil Foster – we asked him what shows were up and coming and how he managed rehearsals during the lockdown.

“yes we have the billionaire boy coming to the Garrick theatre in the West End and we have Barmy Britain Part 5 coming to the Apollo”.

We then asked Neil how the theatres will be and will there be a temporary reduced audience?

He went on to explain:

” We are starting off with 50% reduction then we’ll see what the government says as and when the theatres start opening up properly”

We asked Neil how they managed rehearsals during the lockdown

“I had a clever solution, I turned my house into a rehearsal bubble – we got the actors to come and live in the house and we rehearsed in the living room, the dining room became the costume store, the office became the prop store, and we rehearsed five shows like that and we are still rehearsing the shows like that, I’m not a fan of the online world and really didn’t want to get into zoom rehearsals”.

So you’ve almost all become like a family then..

” Thats true, we toured Horrible Christmas, touring round the car parks and there were tears at the end of the five weeks, people had become very attached to each other, I was so lucky to have such a good troup of actors in all the company’s – we all get on incredibly well”.

So, how is the rest of the West End coping and what can we expect

Neil Explained:

For shows to work financially they really do need to be sold out – so some of the shows are delaying to later in the year before opening, it’s a simple case of economics. We have managed to survive with the couple of government grants and also a similar amount raised with the car park tours around the country, without those we would have been broke.

So the Billionaire Boy, then tell us more?

Yes well it was touring just as the pandemic started – we did a shortened version for the car park tour but now it will be opening up for the West End  again with full cast and set for the theatres – Its such a fantastic story of the richest boy in the world but the only thing he doesn’t have is a friend. So he persuades his father to let him go to the local comprehensive where he hopes he can make some friends, but because it is a David Walliams story it is a hilarious venture as he discovers who he is and who he can make friends with but it has a great moral and is really perfect for children where they think they just want to be rich and famous – and this story just shows you how it is.

What else – if you have time are you working on?

“We have the “Terrible Thames” – all about the Thames’ horrible history which takes place on a boat and goes all the way from Tower Bridge down to Westminster then up to Execution Dock. I wrote it during lockdown and the Thames is full of interesting stories. We start rehearsing the 45 minute show shortly and I hope this will be a major new tourist attraction for London, it’s on an open boat and you get a wonderful view of the river. There’s an extraordinary connection about Jack the Ripper and the Thames but I can’t give it away”

David Walliams Billionaire Boy

Garrick Theatre 17 July – 22 August 2021

Press performance: Wednesday 21

July, 3pm

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part Five!

Apollo Theatre 29 July – 28 August 2021

Press performance: Tuesday 3 August, 2pm

A year after UK theatres closed, Birmingham Stage Company are delighted to announce they will be back in two of London’s iconic West End theatres with the West End premiere of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy and the world premiere of Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part Five! to bring family entertainment into the heart of the capital.

Following the runaway success of the award-winning Gangsta Granny in 2017, bestselling children’s author David Walliams is returning to the West End with his second adaptation, Billionaire Boy started life as a novel in 2010, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. In 2016 it was adapted into a BBC production and has since become a Christmas television favourite.

David Walliams said:

“I am absolutely delighted this fantastic family show of my book is coming to the West End. It is really funny and I can’t wait to see it again.”

Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe Spud, the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, £100k a week pocket money and two crocodiles as pets. But what Joe doesn’t have is a friend. he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comprehensive. But things don’t go as planned for Joe and life becomes a rollercoaster as he tries to find what money can’t buy.

Alongside the debut of Billionaire Boy, Birmingham Stage Company are delighted to bring a brand-new Horrible Histories production to Shaftesbury Avenue, with Summer 2021 marking ten years since the original record-breaking Barmy opened in the West End. The world premiere of Barmy Britain – Part Five! is full of crazy new characters and rude new rulers from Britain’s barmy past.

Will you be conquered by King William? Will you sink or swim with King Henry I? Will Thomas Becket get the chop? Go house hunting with King Henry VIII! Join the gorgeous Georgians as they take over England! Break into Buckingham Palace and hide from the Queen, then watch out for the witch of World War Two!

Whilst the UK continues its fight back against the pandemic and children continue to miss out on live arts, the West End is coming alive this summer to bring back live theatre for children and their families. For added reassurance, the capacity at the Apollo and Garrick Theatres has been currently reduced to circa 50% to comply with COVID-19 Secure guidelines with socially distanced seats and will continue to adhere to government guidelines.

David Walliams Billionaire Boy
Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH
Tickets start from £19
Box office: 0330 333 4811
17 July – 22 August 2021

Running time: 2 hours

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Five!
Apollo Theatre
31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7EZ
Tickets start from £21
Box Office: 0330 333 4809
29 July – 28 August 2021
Running time: 70 minutes


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