NODA News Show Reviews 2002

A pantomime in August is pretty unusual but becomes even more remarkable when half the cast are young Japanese. This was all part of the cultural exchange organised for the Japan 2001 festival by The Unknown Theatre Company. Fifteen teenagers from the Kawaguchi Lilia Hall theatre group took part in a fortnight of workshops to rehearse Cinderella which was staged at the Howardian Centre Theatre, Cardiff.

This bold venture was a triumph and the show was a delight to watch and sparkled with enthusiasm and talent in a smooth, fast moving production by Victor Atkins. Principal roles were well played by the host company but the Japanese youngsters were well integrated into the show and made a significant and valued contribution. Members of Unknown were full of praise for their dedicated approach to rehearsals and to the show and this must surely have been one of the happiest and successful of exchanges.

Well staged, delightfully performed with lively choreography and with well selected musical items under the baton of Matthew Brind it was great fun and heart-warming entertainment.


And more...    

From DAWN, the magazine of the Drama Association of Wales

Turning Japanese, with Cardiff’s Unknown Theatre Company
by Jane Donoghue

‘The Road to Success is Always Under Construction’. A thought provoking statement that this year has become our company motto!! The Unknown Theatre Company was formed a little less than five years ago and from small but nevertheless ambitious beginnings, has this year seen its most successful yet.

The year began fairly calmly but full of optimism as we made plans to take ‘Dance of the Dragon’, our newly commissioned musical, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The logistics of transporting, housing, feeding - and dare I say, controlling sixteen young people - slowly dawned on us. However, from the first excitement and apprehension, to the final curtain we had a tremendous time. Performing on the street was a unique experience and we were also fortunate enough (partially through everyone’s hard work and partially I suspect through pure luck!), to have two sell out performances. The day we left to come home dawned too soon and as we travelled south in a melancholy mood we firmly believed that nothing could ever beat those two weeks.

How wrong we were! With just a day’s rest we began our second Summer project. As part of the Japan 2001 celebrations, we were pleased to welcome fifteen Japanese drama students from Kawaguchi Lilia Hall. They had arrived to undertake a two-week joint Summer school, culminating in a company scripted pantomime of Cinderella (in August!). Some casting decisions came easily with Matthew Atkins and Nick Cook obvious choices as the Ugly Sisters! However, the problem we faced was how to ensure that our talented guests participated fully in the show. Initial introductions and ‘prepared performances’ soon highlighted their amazing dance and singing ability and an enthusiasm that put our young people to shame!!

The days passed quickly with Matthew Brind teaching English songs to the Japanese children alongside choruses of ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’, in Japanese, to our children! Vic Atkins meanwhile spent many hours perfecting dance routines and setting scenes, helped by a team of dedicated volunteers. Amidst the mayhem, the set was built, social and cultural activities arranged, Civic Receptions attended, props gathered and costumes fitted!

Friday’s performance was attended by the Head of Japan 2001, Christopher Purvis. Whilst on Saturday, the Mayor of Kawaguchi and his sixty delegates were our honoured guests. The saying “Laugher knows no boundaries”, proved true, as all the audience enjoyed themselves and at the end of the show there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Afterwards, we were treated with amazing hospitality, at a party hosted by the Mayor of Kawaguchi. The departure of our visitors the following day was another emotional roller-coaster, as we clung on to friendships and memories that will hopefully last for many years to come.

As we reflect on our privileged year we are reminded about our ‘road to success’. With steel determination, plans are being made and grant applications completed! Who knows what next year will bring… we’ve certainly got lots of ideas. Watch this space!!!

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About the show  

24th & 25th August 2001

Venue Howardian Centre, Cardiff
Director Vic Atkins
Choreographer Vic Atkins
Musical director

Matthew Brind

Producer Jane Donoghue
Special facts This was a co-production with our visitors from the Kawagachi Youth Musical Company in Japan whom we were to visit the following year.  They performed largely in the chorus numbers, but they were integral to the performance.  It was a pleasure to work with them. See the Quest Gate page for the story of what happened on our trip to Japan.

Photos from the show

Click on the photo to go direct to the photogallery. Or you can click here if you prefer.


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Cardiff's leading musical youth theatre /young people's theatre group



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poster for Cinderella

21 February 2016

© The Unknown
Theatre Company

the normal heart
wind in the willows
the cut
fiddler on the roof
made in wales
twelfth night
alice in wonderland
the gutterfly tribe
into the woods
the snow queen
the true, true story of quincy jones
our house
naked dictators
unga bunga
sorry, wrong number
future shock
sweeney todd
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a night's tale
the pied piper of hamelin
...and then...
west side story
words, words, words
jimmy chase & the red jacket affair
pop goes the musical
amazing adventures of little red
a midsummer night's (little) dream
life, actually
forever friends
masters of the musical
guys and dolls
surfing, carmarthen bay
ghost city
back to the 80s
christmas cracker - 08
you're a good man, charlie brown
the oedipus plays
facing the truth
return to the forbidden planet
rose! ... and the wicked wolfeee!
gold woman - 07
from wales to the west end
telling tales
slice of saturday night
how to eat like a child
just so
changing lives
dance of the dragon - 05
nell's bells
les musicals 3
little shop of horrors
babes in the wood
eat your heart out!
rameo (edinburgh)
rameo (cardiff)
the wizard of oz
gold woman
quest gate
dance of the dragon (ifmt)
dance of the dragon (edin)
a christmas cracker
dance of the dragon
les musicals 2
old time music hall
dracula spectacular
les musicals
lion, witch, wardrobe
peter pan