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The Mentalists

July 10th, 2015 by Helen

Stephan Merchant in The Mentalists

Last week I took the production photographs for the West End production of The Mentalists at the Wyndham’s Theatre. It stars Stephen Merchant as Ted and Steffan Rhodri as Morrie – both of whom were excellent. The play has very funny moments, and very dark moments and I would recommend it.

Steffan Rhodri in The Mentalists ©2015 Helen Maybanks

Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri

Steffan Rhodri as Morrie

Stephan Merchant as Ted in The Mentalists

Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri rehearsing The Mentalists

I also took rehearsal photographs, which I love, not only do I get to take photographs of actors in a natural and relaxed state, I also see the rehearsal process unfold. It was fascinating hearing the actors talk so articulately about the show and what they can bring to their characters. Director Abbey Wright guided Stephen through his transition to stage – this was his theatre debut – and hearing them discuss the difference between acting on stage and screen was illuminating.

A black and white photo of Steffan Rhodri rehearsing The Mentalists

Stephan Merchant talks into the telephone during rehearsals

Two posters for The Mentalists

I also took the promotional photos of Stephen Merchant back in March. Steffan was photographed separately but due to scheduling issues I photographed Stephen in the Umbrella Rooms in London. Stephen was shot in character as Ted and you can see the finished posters above. Below is a few outtakes of the shoot – Stephen is just as funny in real life and it was a very pleasurable shoot.

Stephen Merchant on a grey background

 

 

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Constellations

June 11th, 2015 by Helen

Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey in the UK tour of Constellations

Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey in Constellations

I recently took the rehearsal and production photographs of  the UK tour of Constellations. The play has received fantastic reviews – Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey play Roland and Marianne, and they are brilliant.

Joe Armstrong tries to lick his elbow in Constellations

Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey as Roland and Marianne

Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong dance

Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong rehearsing Constellations

Michael Longhurst directing Constellations

Director Michael Longhurst talking with the actors during rehearsals.

A black and white photo of Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey rehearsing Constellations

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The Spalding Suite

June 1st, 2015 by Helen

The Spalding Suite ©2015 Helen Maybanks

Recently I photographed Fuel’s The Spalding Suite in Manchester.

The Spalding Suite ©2015 Helen Maybanks

Jason York, KM Drew Boateng, Marcquelle Ward, Emmanuel Akwafo, George Bray and MC Zani performing in the production.

Jason York; KM Drew Boateng and Emmanuel Akwafo in The Spalding Suite

Marcquelle Ward & Emmanuel Akwafo in The Spalding Suite

The Spalding Suite ©2015 Helen Maybanks

Directed by Benji Reid, it is a fantastic show and difficult to describe, it is part poetry, part dance and movement, with excellent beatboxing from MC Zani.

Marcquelle Ward; Emmanuel Akwafo and Jason York in The Spalding Suite

Marcquelle Ward in The Spalding Suite ©2015 Helen Maybanks

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The Elephant Man

May 23rd, 2015 by Helen

Bradley Cooper and Alessandro Nivola

I was recently asked to photograph the rehearsals of The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola. The show transferred from Broadway and the company had a brief rehearsal period before opening in London. The show has received excellent reviews and runs in London until 8th August.

Bradley Cooper,  Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola

Bradley Cooper and Patricia Clarkson rehearsing

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Love’s Sacrifice

April 23rd, 2015 by Helen

Love's Sacrifice by the RSC

Matthew Needham as Duke of Pavy and Beth Cordingly as Fiormonda

I have been working on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Love’s Sacrifice. In February I took the rehearsal photographs in London, and in the last couple of weeks I have been up to the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon for the production images. The set looks fantastic, designer Anna Fleischle, has done a beautiful job with high, glowing arches and video projection creating something dark and otherworldly. Matthew Dunster‘s production has received great reviews with some excellent performances from the talented cast. My photos have appeared across much of the press including the The Guardian, the The Telegraph and the Financial Times.

Marcus Griffiths as Roseilli in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production.

Marcus Griffiths as Roseilli

Colin Ryan as Giacopo and Matthew Kelly as Mauruccio

Colin Ryan as Giacopo and Matthew Kelly as Mauruccio

Jamie Thomas King as Fernando in Love's Sacrifice

Catrin Stewart as Bianca, Matthew Needham as Duke of Pavy and Jamie Thomas King as Fernando

Catrin Stewart as Bianca, Matthew Needham as Duke of Pavy and Jamie Thomas King as Fernando

Jonathan McGuinness as D'Avolos in the RSC's Love's Sacrifice

Jonathan McGuinness as D’Avolos in the RSC’s Love’s Sacrifice

Catrin Stewart as Bianca and Matthew Needham as the Duke of Pavy

Beth Cordingly as Fiormonda in Love's Sacrifice

Beth Cordingly as Fiormonda in Love’s Sacrifice

Love's Sacrifice poster featuring the photography of Helen Maybanks

 

One of my images of Matthew Needham was used in the promotional poster by the RSC.

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Fireworks at the Royal Court

March 6th, 2015 by Helen

Fireworks at the Royal Court

I recently took the production photographs of Fireworks at the Royal Court. It was written by Dalia Taha and directed by Richard Twyman. Above, Saleh Bakri stars as Khalid with Shakira Riddel-Morales playing Khalid’s daughter Lubna.

Shereen Martin as Samar in Fireworks

Yusuf Hofri as Khalil in Fireworks at the Royal Court

Sirine Saba and Saleh Bakri in Fireworks at the Royal Court

Fireworks at the Royal Court

Yusuf Hofri as Khalil in Fireworks at the Royal Court

The play is about the effects war has on children and families and it was a powerful production, with some excellent performances from the cast. It has received some very good reviews, and runs until the 14th March.

Sirine Saba and Saleh Bakri

Shereen Martin and Nabil Elouahabi in Fireworks

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The Life and Times of Fanny Hill

February 24th, 2015 by Helen

Caroline Quentin as Fanny Hill

Earlier this month I was at the Bristol Old Vic to shoot production images for The Life and Times of Fanny Hill starring Caroline Quentin and directed by Michael Oakley.

Gwyneth Keyworth as Swallow

The full cast of  The Life and Times of Fanny Hill at Bristol Old Vic

Gwyneth Keyworth as Swallow and Phoebe Thomas as Louisa

Caroline Quentin Caroline Quentin Nick Barber and Phoebe Thomas

The production is fantastic and has received excellent reviews. The original book written in 1748 was banned for obscenity for over 200 years, and the play, whilst not explicit is not for the faint hearted. The first half is a bawdy romp, whilst the second half takes a darker turn examining the fall out of prostitution and poverty. Caroline Quentin is superb, her comic timing is impeccable and she is ably supported by the rest of the cast, in particular Gwyneth Keyworth and Phoebe Thomas. The play runs until 7th March and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Nick Barber as Dingle and Caroline Quentin as Fanny Hill

Phoebe Thomas as Louisa

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84 Charing Cross Road

February 18th, 2015 by Helen

Janie Dee as Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road

A couple of weeks ago I photographed 84 Charing Cross Road at the Salisbury Playhouse. It stars Janie Dee as Helene Hanff and Clive Francis as Frank Doel in the true story of the correspondence between New York journalist Helene and British bookseller Frank.

Alice Haig, Samuel Townsend, Lysette Anthony, Ted Merwood and Clive Francis

Alice Haig, Samuel Townsend, Lysette Anthony, Ted Merwood and Clive Francis

Alice Haig as Cecily Farr in 84 Charing Cross Road

 Clive Francis as Frank Doel in 84 Charing Cross Road

Janie Dee as Helene Hanff and Clive Francis as Frank Doel Clive Francis as Frank Doel Alice Haig, Samuel Towsend and Lysette Anthony

84 Charing Cross Road is a lovely play, it originally premiered at Salisbury in 1981 before becoming a West End and Broadway hit. Original writer and director James Roose-Evans returned to the Playhouse to put on this production, and it has received some great reviews, with Janie Dee and Clive Francis excellent as the two leads. It runs until 28th February and I would thoroughly recommend it if you are in the area.

Janie Dee as Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road

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My year in theatre, dance and portrait photography 2014

January 30th, 2015 by Helen

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

At this time of year it is good to reflect on the past twelve months, so I thought I would display some of my theatre and dance work of 2014, putting more of an emphasis on shows I haven’t previously blogged. I am extremely fortunate in that I get to shoot some excellent productions across the UK, from small fringe plays to big West End productions, and I love the variety of the shows. There are often pragmatic differences between shooting at a sixty seater venue than a one that holds 2500 people, but ultimately it is about capturing those few moments that encapsulate the show.

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

This year I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of UK tours. I shot the Jersey Boys rehearsal images in London but I travelled to Manchester and Sunderland to take production images. Shrek the Musical rehearsed in the capital, but opened in Leeds. In 2014 I also worked in Plymouth, Bristol, Stratford-upon Avon, Birmingham, Salford, Stoke on Trent, Bradford, Southampton and Cardiff. The quality of theatres across the UK is superb, and it has been a pleasure to visit so many cities.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Donkey and Dragon Shrek the Musical Freak Flag - Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Please click on a thumbnail to see larger images.

Promotional photography for Shrek the Musical

I was also asked to take studio photographs of the cast of Shrek for promotional use. Check out my previous blog post to view more images and see a video of the shoot.

The Roof - Fuel

The Roof - Fuel

I travelled to Bristol for The Roof by Fuel. It was such an unusual show, part theatre, part dance, part movement, and very compelling. Unfortunately it rained heavily on both nights of the dress rehearsals, so I was only able to take a few images before the rehearsals were called off. What little I did manage to photograph was intriguing and very dynamic. As a photographer working in the performing arts, this is one of the many times you need to react to the situation and deal with you hand you are given. It can be frustrating to lose the opportunity to shoot the show from start to finish, but I always know that however difficult it is for me, it is even harder for the cast and crew who are usually opening the next day. It is excellent when you manage to get the images despite the conditions – and the feeling that you have managed to succeed against the odds is one of the many reasons I relish live photography. On the opposite end of the spectrum I photographed The Mousetrap Tour, a London institution, it has had a very successful tour across the UK and Ireland. Conditions could not be more different – we took the images during a photocall which meant the photos were set up for me and then lines of the play were run. The director and I moved the cast around to get the best looking photos, and these are then displayed front of house at the venues and in the local press when the play comes to town.

The Mousetrap UK tour

Secret Theatre Show 4

Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Lyric Hammersmith Secret Theatre Show 6

The Lyric Hammersmith in London is one of my favourite venues – and it was one of my earliest theatre clients. This year I captured three of their Secret Theatre productions, Show 4, Show 5 and Show 6, and also photographed promotional images for them. I was in Kingston, at the Rose theatre for Hetty Feather – a dramatisation of Jacqueline Wilson’s best selling books and at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney for Tamasha’s My Name Is…

Hetty Feather at the Rose Theatre Kingston

My Name is... by Tamasha

In April I travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to the Swan Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Roaring Girl, and The Witch of Edmonton. Also for the RSC, I was asked to shoot more production images of the London production of Matilda the Musical after their recast. I have been extremely lucky this year to have shot an extremely wide range of shows, from Beauty and the Beast in Istanbul, Frantic Assembly’s The Believers, Rifco’s Happy Birthday Sunita featuring the phenomenal Shabana Azmi, One Snowy Night at the Discover Children’s Story Centre and the Donmar’s Henry IV. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

One Snowy Night at the Discover Children's Story Centre The Witch of Edmonton The Believers

Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse Rifco's Happy Birthday Sunita Beauty and the Beast

RSC's The Roaring Girl

Matilda the Musical production photography

Matilda the Musical production photography

I also shoot promotional images using studio lighting and this year I shot a number of images for posters. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Oh What a Lovely War! Macbeth The Believers - promotional poster

Poster for The One Selfie by the National Youth Theatre  Private Peaceful

I have shot some fantastic dance performances in 2014, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and Lord of the Flies and the Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Sometimes the line between dance and theatre becomes very blurred – in the summer I took rehearsal images for Guys and Dolls for the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was choreographed by the ballet star Carlos Acosta.

Guys and Dolls - Carlos Acosta directing the ensemble

The male ensemble leap in the air during Guys and Dolls rehearsals

Here are some more of my rehearsal images, including Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme, the RSC’s Matilda and The Witch of Edmonton, Memphis and The Believers.

The Witch of Edmonton Rehearsing Shrek the Musical Memphis the Musical rehearsals

The Believers rehearsals Hetty Feather rehearsals photography Rachel Stirling rehearsing Variation on a Theme

Gregory Doran directing The Witch of Edmonton RSC's Matilda the Musical Rehearsals Rehearsing Shrek the Musical

Ian Reddington photographed by Helen Maybanks

It is great shooting portraiture, although it is very different to a lot of the other work I do. Ideally with rehearsal and production photography the subjects should be unaware you are there. In reality this is difficult to achieve as most people are very camera conscious, but even so you tend to keep your distance during the shoot and observe rather than interact. When taking a portrait the photographer and subject need to have a rapport, it is my job to help the sitter relax and trust me, and normally this needs to be done very quickly. I love talking to my subjects, and getting to know them a little better, and last year was no exception. Here are a few of the images I took this year, including Ian Reddington for Oh What a Lovely War!

Beverley Knight David Bryan Mark Puddle

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Director Steve Marmion with the cast of The One for Soho Theatre Vicky Graham

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Memphis the Musical

January 19th, 2015 by Helen

Memphis the Musical

Several months ago I was asked to take rehearsal photographs for the brilliant new musical Memphis.

Beverley Knight

Memphis stars Beverley Knight, who is possibly one the nicest people I have ever photographed. I took this portrait of Beverley several months before rehearsals started when she met up with David Bryan to promote the show. Music and some of the lyrics were written by David Bryan (below), whose other job is the keyboardist in Bon Jovi. David did not disappoint, looking every inch the rock star, whilst being very friendly and regaling us with great stories of life on the road.

Portrait of David Bryan

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical Laura Ellis rehearsing Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical

Rolan Bell and Beverley Knight Killian Donnelly, David Bryan and Beverley Knight Memphis the Musical Microphone

Rolan Bell as Delray

Rolan Bell as Delray

Dawnita Smith jumps during rehearsals

I covered several of the rehearsals, including the opening day read through, singing classes, scenes between the leads and ensemble choreography. The dancers on this show are incredible and watching Sergio Trujillo and Edgar Godineaux whip them into shape was a privilege.

Killian Donnelly

Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical

Jason Pennycooke as Bobby

Memphis the Musical

The show is fantastic, it’s inspired by true events in the 1950s and tells the story of music and love breaking down barriers in the deeply segregated city of Memphis. It looks and sounds stunning, with some of the slickest dancing and best vocals I have heard in a long time. Beverley Knight is sensational, I knew she had a fantastic voice but to see her belting out the tunes whilst dancing and acting her socks off is remarkable. But it isn’t a one woman show, all of the cast are talented and I was particularly impressed by Rolan Bell (above) who plays Delray .

 

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