The Tower on Tour : Coram Boy

by Jamila Gavin, adapted by Helen Edmundson with original music by Colin Guthrie.

Coram Boy

Sunday 28th August – Thursday 1st September

Directed by Simona Hughes
The Tower Theatre on tour at the Minack Theatre


A breathless tale of abandonment, music and love

Featuring a cast of 26, specially composed music by Colin Guthrie, and the musicianship of the superb virtuoso violinist Kate Conway, Coram Boy will transport you to a dark 18th century England where children were born and sold, and futures made or broken. With powerful storytelling interwoven with movement, music and choral singing, this production is playing in the stunning Minack Theatre, Cornwall.

The “Coram Man” promises a safe haven for the unwanted babies of the unmarried women in 18th Century Gloucestershire, but what he delivers could not be further from this pledge. Meanwhile the first-born son of Lord Ashbrook defies his father in order to follow his passion – music. Spanning the course of 8-years, the story leads us to the Thomas Coram Hospital for Foundlings in London, where the German composer George Frideric Handel is developing his new work, Messiah …..

Coram Boy was adapted by Helen Edmundson from the children’s novel of the same name by Jamila Gavin, which won Whitbread Book of the Year in 2000. The play premiered at the National Theatre in 2005 to great acclaim and four Olivier award nominations, including Best New Play.

Photography by Giulia Paratelli

Cast

Musical Narrator/Violinist : Kate Conway
Meshak : Paul Graves
Young Alexander/Aaron : Frankie Roberts
Young Toby : Nia Woodward
Young Thomas : Freya Croft Beringer
Mrs Lynch : Angharad Ormond
Otis/Gaddarn : Matt Tylianakis
Melissa/Angel : Ruby Mendoza
Adult Alexander : Tommy Saunders
Adult Thomas : Finlay Macaulay
Miss Price/Molly Jenkins : Anna Blackburn
Handel/Dr Smith : Paul Willcocks
Theodore Claymore : Ömer Warman
Alice Ashbrook : Caroline Cromwell
Isabelle Ashbrook : Francesca Marago
Edward Ashbrook : Isaac Insley
Lord Ashbrook : Gately Freeman
Lady Ashbrook : Janet South
Mrs Milcote : Haidee Elise
Mrs Hendry : Alison Liney
Company Members : Stephanie Irvine, Peta Barker, Vyvian Shaw, Eliza Insley, Ruth Kirby, Henry Sharples

Music recorded by

Isabelle Allan, Francesca Girdlestone (Violins)
Iva Durkovic (Viola)
Natalie Dalcher (Cello)
Euan McCandless (Double Bass)
Haidee Elise (Harp)
Peta Barker (Drum)
Recording Engineer : Maddie Harris

Production Team

Director : Simona Hughes
Assistant Directors : Katia Elsianli & Laura Christy
Music Director: Colin Guthrie
Assistant Music Director : Adam Pennington
Movement Director : Nevena Stojkov
Set Design : Max Batty
assisted by : Isaac Insley, Penny Herridge
Lighting Design : Alan Wilkinson
Sound Design and Operation : Matthew Ibbotson
Costume Design : Kathleen Morrison
Make up & Hair Design : Paige Stallard
Stage Managers : Roanne Insley, Jacqui Dickson
Assistant Stage Manager : Laurence Tuerk
Lighting Operator : Samuel Littley
Costume Assistants : Jackie Robinson, Sheila Burbidge, Jude Chalk, Jean Carr, Katherine Lowe, Lucy Moss
Kate ConwayKate Conway is a freelance professional violinist. She defies categorisation, working across genres and in ways that few other violinists work. She plays everything from classical to live grime and experimental contemporary music and theatre. She performs regularly as a soloist and ensemble player, particularly with Duckie, the queer cabaret company. As the Artistic Director of concert series the Hackney Proms, Kate is very involved with live music making from many different angles, especially in Hackney. She is a diversity and inclusion specialist and working hard to change the face of classical music to be more inclusive in education and performance. Kate is a radical queer leftie who cares passionately about bringing together classical music and the representation of minoritized groups.
Paul GravesMost recently seen as Stella Artois in Kensuke's Kingdom last autumn, Paul Graves previously appeared in The Canterbury Tales (The Priest), Trainspotting (Renton) and 1984 (Winston). During COVID, he was lucky enough to perform with Putney Theatre Company in Twelfth Night (Orsino) and Stories from the Attic (Grandma puppeteer) and for the Tower, he played Gregor Samsa in the SceneSaver award nominated Metamorphosis in Lockdown and Cam Eyre in Air.
Frankie RobertsThis is Frankie Roberts' first play with the Tower Theatre and she is delighted to be able to explore the differing characters of Young Alexander and Aaron. Frankie has been fascinated by the art of storytelling from a young age, performing in her first play, Touched, at age 11. Upon starting her Biochemistry degree, Frankie found she couldn't stay away from the Performing Arts and performed in multiple plays with her University society, Imperial College DramSoc. Now, Frankie is embarking on her professional acting journey, studying Acting at Identity School of Acting in Brixton. Frankie is passionate about the importance of the Arts in influencing societal change; she works as an associate producer at O'Kody Arts, assisting delivery of accessable performing arts and social action workshops for young people under 25.
Nia WoodwardNia Woodward recently played Lorraine in the Tower's production of Nine Night. She is a classically trained actor and dancer, and her stage & TV credits include And there was War (Broadway Theatre) and The Vote (Donmar Theatre). Nia trained at Middlesex University and furthered her training at Identity Drama School. Other stage credits include No Eden (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (Courtyard Theatre). Nia also shares her time volunteering for the homeless and those who are incarcerated.
Freya Croft BeringerThis is Freya Croft Beringer's first show with the Tower Theatre. She recently played the title part in a student production of Woyzeck and performed a monologue in the Love [and Survival] in the Time of Covid festival at the Tower in 2021. She is just beginning her acting career and has been cast in the filmed play Butterfly in collaboration with the Hackney Empire.
Angharad OrmondAngharad Ormond trained in acting at Drama Studio London. She has been a Tower Theatre member for 8 years and is one of Tower’s three female Artistic Directors. Directing credits include: Kindertransport, 1984, The Canterbury Tales and Kensuke’s Kingdom. During lockdown she co-wrote and directed a brand-new audio drama 5 Women - Now & Then, produced the Tower Theatre Podcasts and co-adapted and directed an online production of Metamorphosis, which received an OffWestEnd OnComm nomination and was a finalist in the Most Innovative Production category of the Scenesaver Birthday Honours List. Acting credits at the Tower include: Daphne in Sailor Beware, Nell in Little Nell, Laura in The Priory, Young Cathy in Return of the Marionettes and most recently Charlotte in The Yellow Wallpaper.
Matt TylianakisFor the Tower, Matt Tylianakis was previously seen as Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice. He's been fairly active in the London amateur theatre scene since arriving here over a decade ago from New Zealand. He's appeared as Soranzo in Tis Pity She's A Whore (KDC), as Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd (Spread Eagle Players) and as Harry Brewer in Our Country's Good (SEDOS). In real life he works in the graphic design industry as digital damage control.
Ruby MendozaThis is Ruby Mendoza's second play with the Tower - her first being To Kill A Mockingbird back in 2018 when she was still in Sixth Form, where she played the innocent and inquisitive Jean Louise Finch, otherwise known as "Scout". Now, at 21 years-old, Ruby attends the award-winning part-time drama school, Identity School of Acting, and works as the Senior Creative Features Manager for an upcoming magazine. Ruby is excited to explore an older and less innocent role with Melissa in Coram Boy.
Tommy SaundersThis will be Tommy Saunders' second performance with the Tower Theatre, after playing Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice last year. Having just finished shooting a dark comedy short film, he is excited to get stuck in to some more theatre. Tommy is delighted to share his interpretation of Alexander in Coram Boy.
Finlay MacaulayThis is Finlay Macaulay’s second production with the Tower Theatre; he was seen as Kevin in Port Authority last year. Originally from the North East of Scotland, he trained at Guildford School of Acting. Edinburgh Fringe credits include The Street Singer (The Threepenny Opera), Moritz (Spring Awakening) and Charlie Brown (You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown).
Anna BlackburnAnna Blackburn is delighted to be joining the Tower for the first time with Coram Boy. She trained in acting, physical theatre and theatre making at Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company both in London and Italy, following a degree in English Literature. She has been working professionally as an actor in London since 2020 and loves nothing more than working collaboratively on compelling stories and tragic roles. Her recent credits include touring Austria in an adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days, and playing Romeo at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley.
Paul WillcocksPaul Willcocks is delighted to be working with Simona again, having played Branwell in her 2016 production of Brontë and McBryde in her 2020 production of A Passage to India. For the Tower, other appearances include Kindertransport at Theatro Technis, Arcadia at the Bridewell and The Canterbury Tales in the new Tower Theatre's inaugural year. Paul also appeared as Fabian in Kwame Kwei-Armah's highly successful musical production of Twelfth Night.
Ömer WarmanÖmer Warman is very happy to be performing his debut with the Tower Theatre in Coram Boy, both in London and at the Minack Theatre. He began performing in 2008 and has been involved in around 50 productions since then, including Panto Tours, Journey's End, outdoor Shakespeare, and Enjoy. Directing includes The Lion In Winter in 2015, which won 3 local drama festival awards, How to Date a Feminist at Incognito Theatre last January, and a 'Saw It Here First' theatre charity event in 2020. He also runs fun science events for kids and has been known to lurk in the background on film sets.
Caroline CromwellThis is Caroline Cromwell's first production with the Tower Theatre. She is an American actress currently based in London. She received her MFA in Acting from East 15. Recent credits include Margaret in Incognito at the Bridewell Theatre, Ghost of Christmas Present/Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol at East 15, and Jaques in As You Like It at East 15's Residency at the Globe Theatre.
Francesca MaragoThis is Francesca Marago's second play with the Tower after performing in last years I Like You which featured in the theatre's Love [and Survival] in a Time of Covid festival. She trained at the Oxford School of Drama and achieved a first class degree from the University of Portsmouth in Drama and Performance. This multi-lingual performer caught the acting bug from a young age and has since been performing in plays, short films and TV work. She recently starred in This Sceptred Isle for Sky Atlantic and is excited to return to the stage as Isobel Ashbrook in Coram Boy.
Isaac InsleyThis is Isaac Insley's sixth appearance with the Tower Theatre Company; most recently he appeared as Christopher Morcom in Breaking the Code. Isaac is also the Tower's go-to puppeteer. He made the puppets for the Tower’s productions of Kensuke's Kingdom and 1984 and was the puppetry consultant for The Canterbury Tales.
Gately FreemanGately Freeman has been a Tower Theatre member for a long time but has not done much in recent years because of other theatre commitments and living down in Sussex. He played Snout in the 2016 RSC/Tower production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and was Murdstone in David Copperfield in 2012. He loves open air theatre, and has appeared in many Shakespeare productions at Polesden Lacey in Surrey, in Paris with the Tower Theatre and in Twickenham with Richmond Shakespeare Society. Gately taught Drama in Kent for many years, and has diplomas from Guildford School of Acting, LAMDA and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Janet SouthJanet South has been involved with the Tower for many years during which she has taken roles both on stage and off. Acting credits include Countess Charlotte (A Little Night Music), Jenny (Company), Anna (Closer), Mme Dubonnet (The Boy Friend), Mrs Gainsborough (Gainsborough's Girls) and Mrs Turton (A Passage to India). She recently appeared as co-puppeteer for a baby orangutan in Kensuke's Kingdom.
Haidee EliseHaidee Elise is a long standing member of the Tower Theatre; credits include: Lady Macbeth performed at The British Embassy in Paris, Ariel (The Tempest), Ophelia (Hamlet), Regan (King Lear), Margery Pinchwife (The Country Wife), Tourvel (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and many more. Haidee trained at The Academy of Live & Recorded Arts and had a successful professional singing and dancing career in her younger years. Haidee has costumed many Tower Theatre productions including Wolf Hall, To Kill A Mocking Bird, Measure For Measure and The Importance Of Being Earnest. She also produced Entertaining Mr Orton at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Alison LineyAlison Liney has loved performing at the Minack Theatre since her first appearance there in 1974 so she is delighted to be involved in Coram Boy, despite some anxiety about all those steps! She recently played Lena in Escaped Alone and other Tower roles include Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, Jean in To Kill a Mockingbird and Mrs Moore in A Passage to India. Life away from the Tower consists mainly of being an Allotment Site Secretary, a role which involves an unexpected amount of crisis management!
Peta BarkerPeta Barker's acting credits include Ariel and Caliban (The Tempest), Iago (Othello), Mrs Yajnavalkya (Valmouth), The Voice of Audrey II - the Plant (The Little Shop of Horrors), Mbongeni (Woza Albert!), Scullery (Road), Ash (Dealer's Choice), Jack Mullen (The Weir), John (Shining City), Derek (Brighton Beach Scumbags) Hoke (Driving Miss Daisy), Evan (Sweat) and Joe (Port Authority). Directing credits include Blue Remembered Hills, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Burn This, Lysistrata, Brimstone and Treacle, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Arcadia. He adapted/directed Russell Hoban's novel Kleinzeit, and played Snug the Joiner in the Tower Theatre Team in the RSC's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Vyvian ShawVyvian Shaw has been a Tower member since the early 90s. She has been in numerous productions including many musicals, the last being The Producers which won the Minack trophy. Two years ago as the pandemic hit she was rehearsing 5 Women which has just now been released as an audio play. Back in the theatre in October 2021, she was in Escaped Alone. Vyvian is looking forward to performing in Coram Boy and to revisiting The Minack Theatre.
Ruth KirbyRuth Kirby joined Tower Theatre this year, and this will be her first production for the company. She has played various roles in Shakespeare productions, including Stephano in The Tempest. She has also taught theatre and drama to younger students at the Young Actors' Theatre, alongside being a Drama student herself.
Henry SharplesThis is Henry Sharples' first production with the Tower Theatre after joining only this year. Finding his love of acting at a young age playing Corny Collins in Hairspray, he has continued to participate in other plays and musicals both in school and in youth theatres across London.
Eliza InsleyEliza Insley has previously appeared with the Tower as Flora in The Turn of the Screw (2015), Ginnie in Goodnight Mister Tom (2013) and was part of the David Copperfield Company in both London and Cornwall in 2012.
Stephanie Irvine
Stephanie Irvine
got involved in acting at university where she performed in lots of student productions and the Edinburgh Fringe. She put the theatre aside for a career as a radio journalist, and now works for an environmental charity. Her passion for acting was reignited a couple of years ago when she joined Arcola Participation and then the Tower company. When not acting in a play she enjoys improving her skills through workshops and classes. This is her second production with The Tower, after appearing in Mules last autumn.
Simona HughesSimona Hughes graduated (with Distinction) from her MFA in Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2019. In January 2021 she became an Artistic Director of the Tower Theatre in Stoke Newington. Simona’s directing credits at the Tower include A Passage To India, Table, Love,Love,Love, Brönte and Little Nell. Directing credits elsewhere include short plays at Theatre 503, The Bread and Roses , VAULT festival, the Arcola Outside and The Pit (Barbican). Simona’s writing credits include her play, About 500, which she also directed, and which recently had successful runs at the Union, the Omnibus and the King's Head Theatres. About 500 has been nominated for 3 awards: OnComm finalist, Scenesaver Birthday Award (best lead performance) and a Standing Ovation award. Simona is co-director of the production company Loupe Films, which was instrumental in making the BAFTA nominated film County Lines, on which she is an executive producer.
Colin GuthrieColin Guthrie has acted, directed and musical directed for many Tower shows since joining in 1985. Musical directing credits include The Return of the Marionettes, Telstar, Paradise (a rock 'n' roll fable) and The Producers, which won the coveted Minack Trophy in 2014. Colin has also composed music for many Tower shows, including David Copperfield, Lark Rise, Frankenstein and 1984. Acting credits include Max Brod in Kafka's Dick, William Cain in Her Naked Skin and Ian in Shining City. Directing credits include The Voysey Inheritance as well as the last play to be produced at the Tower's old home in Canonbury, Strangers on a Train. Colin was also a BBC Radio Drama Sound Engineer and Director for thirty years.

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