Preview April 24

Fusion folk


THE India Electric Co, a duo who blend traditional music and electronica, make a welcome return visit to the Beehive Centre at Honiton on Friday 12th April at 7.30pm.

East Devon musicians Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe, who are described as “a veritable musical magpie’s nest” by BBC Radio 3 and a “full musical odyssey”, by BBC Radio 1, blend traditional instruments, folk melodies and subtle electronic influences.  The folk radio station FRUK described them as “one of the truly pioneering acts in folk music.”

They have performed widely throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and in this country at many venues and festivals and at the Royal Albert Hall. 

From Devon With Love

Call-out for artists

VILLAGES in Action, Devon’s rural touring arts organisation, is inviting applications from performers and writers to take part in this year’s From Devon With Love, the annual scratch festival in September.

The festival is open to Devon-based artists working in live performance with a new piece they are ready to test out in front of a friendly audience.

The VIA team wants to hear from performers making original work, including theatre, dance, circus, storytelling, spoken word, puppetry and poetry. Ten artists will receive support including time with the VIA producing team, up to £400 performance fee and a 30-60 minute slot at the festival.

For the first time, the festival organisers are also making additional support available for previously excluded, neurodivergent and global majority artists in the application process.

If this sounds like you, find out more about the From Devon With Love festival on the website Applications close on 9th April.

The Passion of Living Spit

Lyme Regis

THE iconoclastic Living Spit, led by Stu McLoughlin, now sadly without the late Howard Coggins, tackles one of the greatest stories of all – The Passion, in the company’s latest show, touring this spring, with local performances at the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis, on Wednesday 17th April, the Exchange at Sturminster Newton on Friday 19th, and May dates in Devon at Plough Arts at Great Torrington and Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre. 

The Passion of Living Spit, is the company’s hilarious and fearless attempt to recreate “the most divine comedy of all time.” They promise “a hilarious theatrical journey through the life and unfortunate death of the bearded, ethnically ambiguous offspring of God, Jesus H Christ.”

The show features what they call “a smattering of JC’s greatest hits – water into wine! Loaves and fishes! Parables! Miracles! Animals! Vegetables! Minerals! And with a holy host of reimagined Easter hymns, this is a Sunday school lesson unlike any other.”

With a dash of irreverent wit, a sprinkle of divine inspiration and a hearty helping of tasteless biblical buffoonery, The Passion of Living Spit promises to give a whole new meaning to the term ‘”cross-dressing.”

Perhaps not for the easily religiously offended, but if you’ve seen Living Spit before and have enjoyed their previous shows, including The Nativity, you will be ready to enjoy an evening of unparalleled silliness – and right now, perhaps that’s what we all need!

Poll dancing

Lyme Regis

TIMES Radio presenter and political columnist Matt Chorley is looking forward to the general election and he wants to share his thoughts and expertise with audiences across the country, including the Marine Theatre at Lyme Regis, where he will perform his show, Poll Dancer, on Friday 26th April.

Drawing on his own two decades of reporting from Westminster and two centuries of history, he will deliver his hilarious guide to winning and losing at the polls. The Have I Got News For You regular is back with his third stand-up tour, ready to focus-group the audience and compile his own manifesto, which he is sure is guaranteed to get him the keys to No10.

Matt has been a Westminster-based political journalist since 2005, when politics was boring, and it has gradually got madder as he worked his way through the Press Association, Western Morning News, Independent on Sunday, MailOnline and The Times. Since June 2020, he has presented the weekday mid-morning show on Times Radio, including features like PMQs Unpacked, If I Ruled The World and the popular quiz, Can You Get To No10? 

Poll Dancer will also be at Taunton’s Brewhouse arts centre on Friday 19th April.

The last witch trial


THE energetic and inventive all-female theatre company Scratchworks come to Bridport Arts Centre open Tuesday 9th April with their latest show, Hags: A Magical Extravaganza. 

The action begins in Bideford in 1682, where the last witch trial in England took place. Three women were accused of witchcraft, tried and hanged. Witches … magic?  Fast forward to the present day and name one female magician – whatever happened?

Join Scratchworks for an evening with three fearless females climbing out of their boxes, shaking off the sequins and investigating what really happened in a small town in North Devon 340 years ago.

Packed full of magic tricks, physical comedy and live music, the trio explore the witch-hunt mania that swept the country and sent hundreds of innocent women to the gallows. With mind-blowing illusions, stupendous stunts and the occasional disappearing rabbit, Hags sets the record straight for thousands of falsely accused women with all the joy, silliness and spectacle they can muster.

Later in the tour, Scratchworks are bringing Hags to the Barnfield Theatre at Exeter on Friday and Saturday 17th and 18th May, and Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre on Thursday 23rd May.

Crossing folk genres


THE Urban Folk Quartet – four musicians who have played with many of the biggest names on the contemporary folk scene – comes to Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday 13th April.

Sometimes known as UFQ, this exciting group has a repertoire which has much less to do with the traditional idea of genre than an open attitude to the many musical influences they encounter.

With two outstanding fiddlers in the line-up, their music is fiddle-led and draws heavily on Celtic dance forms and traditional song, but from there on in it is unlike any folk band you have ever heard. The UFQ’s approach to the folk ethos is to embrace any and every influence that genuinely makes sense of their time and place and makes sense in their music, from funk grooves to middle-eastern melodies, Afrobeat to north Indian rhythms.

The quartet is Galician fiddler Paloma Trigás, who has played with The Chieftains, Sharon Shannon and Altan, fiddler Joe Broughton (Albion Band, Bellowhead), Dan Walsh, one of the country’s finest banjo players and a gifted singer and guitarist, who has played with the Seth Lakeman Band, and The Levellers, and percussionist Tom Chapman, (Jacqui McShee’s Circle, While & Matthews, Russell & Algar) who is widely considered to be the most accomplished and innovative player of the South American percussion instrument, the cajon.

Award-winning quartet

Concerts in the West

FOUR musicians who have won prizes for their commitment to encouraging audiences for chamber music as well as their accomplished playing, the Gildas Quartet will give a Concerts in the West series at Bridport, Ilminster, Crewkerne and, for the first time, Shaftesbury, over the weekend 19th to 21st April.

Tom Aldren and Gemma Sharples, violins, Christine Anderson, viola, and Anna Menzies, cello, who are praised for their “energy, verve and refreshing approach,” have performed to critical acclaim at major venues including the Bridgewater Hall, Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall and live on BBC Radio 3. Their bold approach to performance was recognised at the International Franz Schubert and Modern Music Competition at Graz, Austria, where they won first prize in the Audience Engagement Award 2018.

Determined to bring the visceral experience of string quartet performance to audiences at close quarters, the Gildas launched their immersive “Surround Sound Sessions” project in winter 2019. The series ranged from one-work pop-up concerts in unusual settings to full-length recitals, with the audience literally in the midst of the players, in surround sound.

Their programme for the April tour includes works by Montgomery, Haydn, Puccini and Debussy. The concerts are at Bridport Arts Centre on Friday 19th at 11.30am, Ilminster Arts Centre, Friday 19th at 7.30pm, Crewkerne Dance House on Saturday 20th at 7.30, and Shaftesbury’s St Peter’s Church on Sunday 21st at 3pm.

Spring is sprung


STORYTELLER Martin Maudsley and musician Lucy Roberts welcome spring with Sing Spring Sprung, a delightful programme of music and folklore, at Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday 20th April.

Spring is the season of new life and old friends. From the spring-tide of bright flowers to the growing crescendo of birdsong, the wild world is awash with sights and sounds to be sensed and savoured. 

To celebrate this keenly anticipated season, Martin and Lucy weave together an evening of spellbinding stories and magical music full of the joys of spring. The performance draws on the March, April and May chapters of Martin’s latest book Telling the Seasons, bringing to life the folklore, folksongs and traditions of spring.

Coracle paddles a new wave

South Petherton

THREE musicians with very different backgrounds who perform together as Coracle come to the David Hall at South Petherton, on Saturday 13th April at 8pm, for a concert that brings together both traditional and contemporary music.

The trio are Paul Hutchinson, accordion, well-known for his work with Belshazzar’s Feast, among others, Anna Tam, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who draws particularly on traditional and historic song, and Karen Wimhurst, clarinettist, composer and choral director. 

Their musical approach is flexible, built on trusted traditional foundations, yet uniquely tuned to respond to and embrace the ebbs and flows, squalls and flurries of each musical current which carries them.

At its heart, Coracle represents the British folk tradition, interwoven with contemporary classical and splashes of early music. The three artists draw on very different musical experiences and have come together through their love of experimentation, boldness, humour and risk.

Rosie is a triple threat


THE extraordinary comedian Rosie Jones is excited to be on the road for a UK tour and is bringing her new show, Triple Threat, to Bridport’s Electric Palace on Friday 5th April.

Join Rosie as she ponders whether she is a national treasure, a little prick – or somewhere in between! This show is guaranteed to be full of unapologetic cheekiness, nonsensical fun and unadulterated JOY from the triple threat herself.

Rosie is best known for her hit travel series, Trip Hazard and Mission: Accessible, and for appearances on shows including The Last Leg, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Mock the Week and The Ranganation. Earlier this year, she also demonstrated her dramatic acting skills in a nail-biting and poignant episode of the BBC 1 hit series, Call the Midwife. Is there no end to her talent?

The enduring magic of Alice

Dorchester and Taunton

BOX Tale Soup are bringing their charming adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Dorchester Arts at the Corn Exchange on Tuesday 2nd April and Taunton’s Brewhouse arts centre on Wednesday 3rd, both at 2pm. 

Follow Alice on her remarkable journey, from her fleeting encounters with the White Rabbit to her eventual showdown with the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts. A confrontational caterpillar, ukelele-twanging Tweedle twins and an array of other crazy characters pop up along the way, before Alice comes face to face with her own imagination and perhaps the author of her dreams.

The show, which runs for just under an hour (a sensible length for young audiences), features a dozen colourful handmade puppets, a beautiful set that unfolds from a vintage trunk and magical original music. Lewis Carroll’s enduring masterpiece is brought to the stage in an inventive new production sure to delight anyone of any age with a vivid imagination and an appetite for adventure!

BBC Young Musician returns


MARTIN James Bartlett, the 2014 winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, makes a return visit to Dorchester Corn Exchange on Friday 5th April, with a wide-ranging programme that includes jewels of the baroque period through to 20th century favourites.

He first came to Dorchester in 2016, just two years after his BBC triumph. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength, and this April programme will be a powerful showcase of his prodigious talent.

His performances are critically acclaimed – “astonishing delicacy and punch,” said the Daily Telegraph and the Times called him “thrilling.” Martin possesses a fearless technique and plays with a maturity and elegance far beyond his years. 

His Corn Exchange programme includes music by Rameau, Couperin, Debussy, Ravel, Granados, Ginastera and Gershwin (including Rhapsody in Blue).

Exploring climate change 


DORSET-based cellist Emily Burridge and composer and clarinettist Karen Wimhurst come to Dorchester Corn Exchange on Sunday 21st April for an afternoon live music and multi-media event, All Trees are Clocks, exploring the environmental impacts of climate change through music.

The concert is the second performance this season at Dorchester responding to environmental issues. The two musicians will accompany a presentation of field recordings and video created by ecologist and sound artist Adrian Newton, documenting how ancient woodlands change through the seasons and over longer timescales.

This is a unique opportunity to attend a performance of this collaborative piece, which was recently featured on the Cerys Matthews show on BBC Radio 6.

The high cost of high fashion


ONE of the most popular and critically successful films ever made about the world of high fashion, The Devil Wears Prada has been adapted into a musical, with a score by Sir Elton John. It makes its debut with a six-week, pre-West End season, from 6th July to 17th August, at Plymouth Theatre Royal.

The iconic leading role of Miranda Priestly, the formidable and feared editor-in-chief of the prestigious Runway magazine (played by Meryl Streep in the film), will be sung by multi-award-winner Vanessa Williams. Her musical theatre credits include Into the Woods (Tony nominee), Kiss of the Spider Woman, Sondheim on Sondheim, Show Boat and Anyone Can Whistle. Directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, the musical has lyrics by Shaina Taub and book by Kate Wetherhead.

Fresh out of college, aspiring journalist Andy scores a job at Runway working for fashion’s most powerful and terrifying icon. Sacrificing her personal life to meet Miranda’s impossible demands, Andy finds herself seduced by the glamorous world she once despised. How far will she go to succeed… and will it be worth selling her soul to get what she’s always wanted?