New Artistic Director Laurie Sansom announced his first production for Northern Broadsides will be a revival of J.M. Barrie’s rarely performed farce Quality Street. The production will open in February 2020 in Halifax, the home of Quality Street™ the UK’s most popular brand of chocolates. Barrie’s play was so popular in its day that it gave the chocolates their name.
Phoebe Throssel lives on Quality Street, the bustling hub of a quaint northern town where she runs a school for unruly children.
Ten years since a tearful goodbye, an old flame returns from fighting Napoleon. But the look of disappointment on Captain Valentine’s face when he greets a more mature, less glamorous Phoebe, spurs our determined heroine to action.
She becomes the wild and sparkling Miss Livy, a younger alter-ego who soon entraps the clueless Captain. As their romance is rekindled, can she juggle both personas? Or will her deception scandalise the town and wreck any future with the man she loves?
This show marks the beginning of a new producing model for Broadsides, with each production being co-created with “creation squads” formed from the local community. For this production, the actors will collaborate with workers from the Quality Street™ factory, developing contemporary tales of hapless love and a live commentary that will frame the action of Barrie’s regency rom-com. As well as providing a modern lens through which to view Barrie’s story, Broadsides also aims to build long-lasting relationships between the employees and their local theatre company.
Northern Broadsides has a long-standing commitment to make bold, radical storytelling that is accessible to all. For the past 27 years, the company has created popular and witty productions in the ‘Northern voice’, and under its new Artistic Director it is reimagining what the ‘Northern voice’ means in today’s world. Sansom was previously the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland, directing The James Plays trilogy in an unprecedented collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain and touring round the world. Previously he was Artistic Director at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, winning the inaugural Stage Regional Theatre of the Year in 2010, TMA Best Director, and producing a trilogy of new adaptations of classic plays as part of London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad.
The company’s home, Halifax, has recently been billed ‘The Shoreditch of the North’ and is booming with live events, film, food and drink festivals, independent shops and theatre, and has entered the public consciousness through the huge success of Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack and Happy Valley. Two years ago, the extraordinary Piece Hall opened for business, a regency piazza returned to its former glory and now hosting major recording artists and other major events. The region is becoming a must-visit heritage destination and Northern Broadsides is playing a key role in this cultural renaissance.
Christmas 2019 will also see the company celebrating the festive season with a programme of folk songs and stories drawn from the Broadside Ballads published from the 1600s. Local folk singer Alice Jones will star in the fundraiser at The Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough, alongside musicians who have been recently granted asylum in Halifax.
Quality Street will tour to Salford, Lancaster, Bury St Edmunds, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Guildford, Derby, Leeds, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Scarborough, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and York. Tickets are on sale now from www.northern-broadsides.co.uk