Fredo's Theatre Group 
Welcome to our Theatre Group website - we hope you will find all the information you need. This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues (see foot of page).  
We do not sell tickets to the public.  
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Details of all Available Bookings are shown on the Current Bookings page - 
click HERE or on the ads above. 
Extra Discounts for our Donmar Friends 
Previously advertised shows are now sold out 
>Next Theatre Visit(s):
Thurs 25 April 
at the 
Southwark Playhouse 
Mon 29 April 
at the 
Old Vic Theatre 
Tues 7 May 
at the 
London Coliseum 
Updated 01/04/19 -   
What we see without the Group:  click  HERE or on the ads below to see our comments.
>News and Information: Please scroll down the page    
Just click HERE to go to the Theatre News Headlines which are automatically updated throughout the day. You will find articles, reviews, interviews... 
and of course News. 
Alternatively click HERE to find Theatre News from 
(If you miss the News headlines from Official London Theatre which used to appear here, please let us know.)
  "We'd never met till we were introduced in Joe Allen's about 5 years ago, but we've been to bed together several times," explained Anne Reid.  "He looks good in pyjamas." 
  She was of course referring to Sir Derek Jacobi, her co-star in Last Tango in Halifax, the popular television series which gains immeasurably from the easy rapport between the actors. And Mike and I were privileged, along with several hundred others, to eavesdrop on the conversation between the two friends at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket as past of the Haymarket's Sunday evening events. 
  Anne asked Derek how he became an actor, and Derek put his entire career down to luck. No, there were no actors in his family, but somehow he had inherited the acting gene; he hadn't gone to drama school, and he believes that actors are born, not made. Drama school can teach certain techniques, but you have to be an actor before you walk through the door.
 "We had dinner with Maggie Smith recently," Anne threw in, " and she said that she wished she'd gone to drama school. I said,'It's such a shame; you could have had a really successful career.'" 
  Derek had started acting at school in Walthamstowe, and he was fortunate that the production of Hamlet was taken to the Edinburgh Festival. He was spotted by critics James Agate and Kenneth Tynan, who had a dispute about his performance. This brought him a certain amount of attention, and his name was known when he went to Cambridge for his university interview. The Master of the college interrupted the interview to listen to the boat race on the radio; Cambridge won, and Derek was given a place. 
  From Cambridge, Derek went to Birmingham Rep, where he played many leading roles for three years. However, his next break came when he played Shakespeare's Henry Vlll. After a matinee, he'd got out of his costume, and Laurence Olivier came to the dressing-room he shared with the actor playing Wolsey. Olivier greeted him politely, but gave his attention to Wolsey, and left. Moments later, he returned, looked at Derek, and said, "My God! You were Henry!" This resulted in... 
/Continued HERE  
THE OLIVIIER AWARDS 2019....and the winners are.... 
  The red carpet was rolled out at the Albert Hall last Sunday for the Annual Olivier Awards (to which we now have to add With Mastercard, perhaps reflecting the higher and higher prices of tickets)). Did you watch the ceremony on ITV? We did, and were happy to see a slicker more focused programme this year, less waffle, fewer dreadful jokes, and the right awards. We happily agreed with most of the awards, even in categories which were rich with competing talent.  
  Three cheers, or perhaps four, for the four awards won by Company: Best Musical Revival; Best Actress in a supporting role in a musical - Patti LuPone; Best Actor in a supporting role in a musical - Jonathan Bailey; ;Best Set Design - Bunny Christie) Four more cheers for The Interitance which won awards for Best New Play - Matthew Lopez; Best Director - Stephen Daldry; Best Actor - Kyle Soller; Best Lighting - Jon Clark. I must also mention that Come From Away also won four awards but it would get my personal award for Most Over-Rated Show Desperate to be Liked.  
  The Olivier Panel played safe but they played fairly too with no disappointments, rewarding shows with quality, expertise, and intelligence, with thankfully no nod to the populist grassroots view (maybe we can call that the Brexit bandwagon) nor was any category voted by (dreaded words) "the public", those who know what they like but have seen few of the nominees so clearly cannot judge. Other awards which pleased us were Best Actress - Patsy Ferran for Summer and Smoke; Best Actress in a supporting role - Monica Dolan (the only reason to remember All About Eve); and Best Actor in a supporting role - Chris Walley for The Lieutenant of Inishmore (he brought so many laughs to this darkly gory tale of misplaced mayhem). 
It had been a year when many Big Guns were fired but most of the awards came in right on target - kaboom! 
You can see a list of all the winners HERE
Mike   10/03/19 
 For a man who'd recently celebrated his 89th birthday, Stephen Sondheim looks in pretty good shape. He'd announced when he was 80 that he wouldn't be able to come to London again, but you should never say never. And if you've got two shows that are smash hits in first-class productions on the London stage, what else can you do? 
 The National Theatre announced at very short notice that Dominic Cooke, director of the NT's Follies, would interview Mr Sondheim on the Olivier stage, and tickets sold out within an hour; we were lucky to grab two of the last available seats in the back row of the Circle. And thunderous applause greeted him when he walked on stage.
The stage awaits the man
      Dominic plunged straight in with the questions, asking about having two shows in London; do Sondheim's shows play differently over here? It sounds like an empty compliment, Sondheim replied, but his first appreciative notices were for the London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He ascribed this to the English appreciation of language - although, he admitted, this was a generalisation, like saying that all Frenchmen are great lovers. "And so many of them are," enthused Dominic, before adding, "or so I'm told."  
  In his work, Sondheim tends to utilise new forms of storytelling, and he said that he learned this from his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein ll, who as well as being a celebrated lyricist, was an experimental dramatist. Hammerstein instilled this work ethic in him, but he generally responds to ideas from his librettists - for instance, the idea for Follies was brought to him by James Goldman. He acknowledged that themes emerge throughout his body of work, but wryly concluded that he wouldn't himself be able to write a college thesis on the work of Stephen Sondheim.  
  Dominic referred to a playwright friend who had been working on the book of a musical, and who said that it was difficult to surrender the best moments to the composer. This could be a problem, Sondheim said. He works very closely with the librettist, plotting the narrative and finding the moment where the songs need to take over the telling of the story or revealing the characters. He had wanted to work with Peter Shaffer (Amadeus) but Shaffer was reluctant to yield control. The synergy between collaborators is very important, as he recalled an early experience of writing a show - Forum - which he knew wasn't working. He consulted James Goldman, and read him the script and then played him the score. Goldman assured him that the script was brilliant, and so were the songs; unfortunately, they didn't go together!  
     What then, asked Dominic, do you do when previews reveal that the show doesn't work?  
/Continued HERE 
  As the show is about a reunion of Follies girls onstage in a theatre, it was appropriate that the four principal members of the current cast of Follies at the National Theatre should meet on the Olivier stage to discuss their roles. 
  Janie Dee and Peter Forbes were reunited from last year’s production, and Janie and Joanna Riding had worked together on Carousel more than 25 years ago. They had both worked with Alexander Hanson over the years – “We’ve been in each other’s orbit,” said Alex, and then revealed that he had been seen for Billy Bigelow, but didn’t get the part. 
  Interviewer Matt Wolf asked Joanna and Alex what it was like to come into a production that was already a recognised success, and to step into roles that had been occupied by other actors. Both of them had seen the production: Joanna had dropped her children off to see School of Rock and then had started to shed tears as she crossed Waterloo Bridge and seen the word Follies on the NT’s display board. At the opening she’d had a very generous and gracious card from Imelda Staunton (who played Sally previously). Alex had been in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, but found Follies a completely different experience in style and content. 
  Janie and Peter said that director Dominic Cooke got them to explore the back-stories of their characters and to analyse the relationships between their characters. Janie had come to the conclusion that people don’t change that much in the course of their lives, and cited her relationship with Joanna as being the same as when they’d last worked together. However, she welcomed the opportunity to return to the role of Phyllis, as she felt there were aspects of the character that she hadn’t finished with. She’d been distraught backstage on the last night of the previous run – Peter had had to tell her to pull herself together – and had told Dominic Cooke that she wasn’t ready to let go of the role. “I’m glad you said that,” he replied. 
  Matt asked them all to talk about their individual Follies numbers, which bring the show to its shattering climax. Peter laughed and said that he had to stand still on stage for 7 minutes during the Loveland sequence before dashing off-stage to do a quick change and then dive into the hyperactive Buddy’s Blues without any physical or vocal warm-up. This frenetic routine takes the audience by surprise, and it’s a triumph for Peter that he takes it at breakneck speed without losing a word of the lyric. 
  We were eager to hear how Joanna arrived at her startling interpretation of the heartbreaking Losing My Mind...../continued HERE 
This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues and their own extended group of friends. It costs nothing to join us but must be by personal introduction from another member of the group. We provide tickets at group discounts for London theatres (and coach transport from Southend, if required).  
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