June was an incredibly exciting month for The Riverfront; in addition to all the wonderful shows taking to the main stage it was also a month that saw two very exciting announcements as we finally got the opportunity to reveal more about some much-loved large projects we’ve been working on that will come later this year. Read on to find out more.
June began with an interesting and educational show from Channel 5’s Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly star Graeme Hall. Graeme took to the stage to share his wisdom and help the audience with any canine questions or issues they may have, with audiences getting the opportunity to meet the star post show if they wished.
A new Welsh language piece from theatre company Arad Goch saw school pupils back at The Riverfront to enjoy the first Welsh language drama in over two years and learn the tale of famous highwayman Twm Sion Cati.
There was once again a range of musical shows for all tastes including Back to Bacharach which celebrated the soundtrack of the 60s and beyond, Walk Right Back celebrated duo the Everly brothers, and The Upbeat Beatles took audiences on a long and winding road through the hits of the Fab Four. Audiences thoroughly enjoyed near sell-out show Fleetwood Bac, Ansell’s Les Musicals brough a spine-tingling concert celebrating the very best of musical theatre, and there was a very special Sunday matinee show which celebrated award-winning and legendary Doris Day, A Day to Remember.
WNO Orchestra marked their return with their Midsummer Celebration Concert which featured work by composers Vaughan Williams, Gerald Finzi and Mendelssohn plus a new commission by Welsh composer Owain Llwyd.
A very special new drama piece was performed in the studio theatre, All the Gods are Here. In the piece performer Phil Okwedy skilfully wove myth, song, folktales and legends with his own personal story of growing up as a child of dual heritage in 1960 & 70s Wales.
June also saw an exciting family show from author Terry Deary take to the stage, Twisted Tales; and for comedy lovers there was Alfie Moore: Fair Cop Unleashed which featured real life tales taken from Alfie’s police casebook.
Rounding off the jam-packed month of performances was Ballet Cymru’s Dream, a brand-new and original take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As part of their three-performance run Ballet Cymru included an Audio Described performance and also a matinee hour long Relaxed Performance, both of which received wonderful feedback from audiences.
One group who attended the Audio Described performance commented:
‘We had a lovely visit to the Riverfront yesterday to see Ballet Cymru's production of "Dream" an adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Nights Dream".
We had a preshow touch tour. Onstage we met the dancers who introduced their characters, explained and described their costumes and some of their movements, we examined the props and learned all about the themes and style of the production. Also we were introduced to Frank the composer and multi-instrumentalist, who played live alongside the dancers onstage. Frank demonstrated a variety of instruments, some familiar, some unusual including an ocarina, a Turkish flute and a saw.
The performance was audio described by actor Ioan who also included excerpts of Shakespeare's text. The Riverfront has a new system for audio description, which you can download to your own mobile devices and use your own headphones. They have some phones and headphones in house too.
Thank you to Louise at Ballet Cymru and all those involved for a magical evening.’
It was another jam-packed and varied month in the Riverfront Cinema! In June we saw two sequels, the second instalment of animated hit Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and we revisited the Crawley family in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
The Northman was an action-filled epic that followed a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father's murder, and set during WWII, two intelligence officers used a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops in Operation Mincemeat.
In Everything Everywhere All At Once an aging Chinese immigrant was swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone could save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
Final film a-Ha the Movie followed the band on tour, telling the full story of how three young men followed their impossible dream of becoming Norwegian pop stars.
Windrush Caribbean Film Festival
This June The Riverfront had the honour of being the only Welsh venue to host the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival in partnership with Film Hub Wales and Cinema Golau. Over the weekend of Friday 17 – Sunday 19 June The Riverfront hosted this esteemed festival which was full of films, immersive storytelling, interactive workshops and thought-provoking events.
Highlights of the festival included a screening of film Rebel Dread which explores the story of Don Letts, and a post-show discussion with the legendary filmmaker, DJ, musician, and cultural commentator himself. There was a screenings of the first Caribbean feature-length animated sci-fi fantasy, Battledream Chronicle, and June Campbell Davies, Annetta Laufer and Yvonne Connike came together to screen three short pieces they have created and lead a question-and-answer session in Eye-Lash Focus on Women in Filmmaking.
Ahead of the festival, Danielle Rowlands, The Riverfront’s Education and Participation Officer and co-coordinator for WCFF at The Riverfront commented ‘We are beyond honoured to be the chosen Welsh venue for this year’s Windrush Caribbean Film Festival. At The Riverfront we work with such a diverse community and are so grateful to be partnering with Film Hub Wales and Cinema Golau and honouring our Caribbean community by celebrating and commemorating such an important part of their history.’
The first of The Riverfront’s exciting announcements came on Wednesday 1 June as we announced the return of Big Splash, Newport’s free family street theatre festival on Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 July after a two-year absence.
The festival once again aims to amaze, amuse and entertain local people and visitors of all ages with the fantastic free arts activity on offer including street theatre, busking, live music, workshops and arts and craft activities.
Performances will pop up in a number of zones across the city centre including the river walkway, University of South Wales, John Frost Square and Commercial Street as Newport is transformed into a large outdoor stage. As always The Riverfront itself will be transformed into family hub Splashtonbury, encouraging the whole family to get involved in the arts and creativity. This year The Riverfront will also be introducing a brand-new Community Stage.
More information about the acts appearing at Big Splash and the line up for the weekend can be found at newportlive.co.uk/BigSplash.
The Riverfront Panto
The second, and possibly most long-awaited announcement came in the middle of June as it was announced that the Riverfront panto would be returning this year with a 6 week run of Robin Hood over Christmas and New Year.
From Tuesday 29 November until Saturday 6 January audiences will get the opportunity to join the most heroic outlaw of them all, Robin Hood, as he strives to win the hand of the beautiful Maid Marion while he and his trusty band of followers outwit the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.
Enjoy this timeless tale as the remarkable Robin saves the day; in a show packed full of comedy, slapstick, action, music, dazzling dance, adventure, and of course plenty of Pantomime magic!
Tickets are on sale now and selling very quickly: Newport Live | Events
This June The Riverfront also got the honour of hosting the development phase of a brand new play titled BitcoinBoi which is due to take to the stage in 2023! BitcoinBoi is a play with music, inspired by a local story about a lost crypto fortune. There is a fantastic cast and creative team working on the show, performers Gwawr Loader, Alex Parry and Elin Phillips, writer Catherine Dyson, Director Hannah McPake, Composer Dyfan Jones and Creative Producer Jamie Anderson. Members of The Riverfront team were lucky enough to be invited to a sharing of the piece at the end of the week and all left incredibly excited by the show and its future.