London’s Original, Biggest and Best Pop-Up Festival returns to the Southbank with headline acts by Gravity & Other Myths, Little Death Club, Flip Fabrique and Yummy.
Underbelly Festival Southbank is central London’s home of affordable live entertainment, they have recently announced an exciting new season with their biggest programme ever of circus, variety, comedy, cabaret and family shows joined by Podcast Live, a new festival concept bringing the best audio entertainment to the stage.
It’s the festival’s 11thyear on the Southbank. Open from April until the end of September, Underbelly Festival Southbank brings you world-class entertainment across two distinctive and atmospheric venues in its beautiful pop-up festival right in the heart of London.
With a wonderful setting on the banks of the river Thames you can enjoy an array of delicious international street food, and drinks in the outdoor bars giving it a true festival atmosphere.
The shows are generally short (usually only an hour long), sharp and very sweet. And the vast majority of tickets are under £20.
Circus, Cabaret and Variety
I am a huge fan of new circus so I am especially looking forward to seeing the opening show at The Belly theatre, (5thApril – 5thMay) the extraordinary Australian company Gravity & Other Myths’ the legendary Southbank headliner returns with an all-new cast; the awe-inspiring array of acrobatics, athleticism, games and utterly unique talents known as A Simple Space.
Opening the Paradiso Spiegeltent is the London premiere of one of the most successful shows of this year’s Edinburgh Festivals, Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club: a spectacular cabaret variety show with an all-star line-up of punks, freaks and weirdos from across the globe.
Following this will be YUMMY– another breakout smash of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, this drag extravaganza is an explosion of dazzling costumes, electrifying dance, gasp-inducing performance and filthy humour which makes your average episode of Ru Paul look like an Amish funeral.
Running alongside these spectacular headliners Underbelly Festival’s new programming model will include a new two-week season Podcast Live which will bring a huge range of the funniest, most fascinating, agenda-settingest podcasts to the stage.
Podcast fans who can’t wait until June for a fix will have their appetites whetted with a live recording Deborah Francis-White’s iconic Guilty Feminist in The Belly Theatre on11 April.
Acts announced for Podcast Live (5-16 June) include woman’s lifestyle sensation Standard Issue which comes to Underbelly live as In Conversation withStandard Issue, A Gay and a non-Gay where two friends offer a hilarious insight into our differences and similarities, Cariad Lloyd’s paradigm-shifting series on loss and how we rebuild GriefCast, legendary comedy double act Angelos & Barry, the 300thepisode of An Irishman Abroad and a showcase of the Best of the British Podcasting Awards.
Some of the biggest names in comedy will also be joining the bill, with The Daily Show’s UK correspondent and international stand-up sensation Gina Yasheredropping in from 21-23 June.
Before then there’s a chance to catch Sindhu Vee(14 Apr) – the Indian comic who has also lived in the Philippines, the USA, Canada and the UK and is one of the finest truly international voices in stand-up, Underbelly Festival legend Jason Byrne(10-11 May), infamous sketch troupe Late Night Gimp Fightwhose shamelessly dark, anarchic and experimental style has won them a huge cult following (24 May), Masters of Gaulier-inflected clown comedy Zach & Viggowith Thunderflop(29 May), and Phil Wang(30-31 May) – one of the most distinctive and hilarious young performers on the stand-up circuit and a superstar in the making.
Comedy performance will be running throughout the festival with acts announced for later in the summer including Britain’s Got Talent2018 winner Lost Voice Guy, making his Underbelly Festival Southbank debut. (10-11 Sep)
More Cabaret and Variety
Underbelly Festival has also built a reputation in recent years as one of the London’s finest cabaret venues, and 2019 is shaping up to be an all-star line-up, including one-of-a-kind performer Le Gateau Chocolatperforming Icons– a journey through the galaxy of divas and superstars who shaped Gateau’s one of a kind style and fabulously metamorphosising singing voice (10-13 April), the Rat Pack of Drag Mariah & Friendz (11 July),and the provocative, explosively energetic and uproariously funny Hans(4 Sep).
Big Night Out
For those looking for a Big Night Out (BNO) with a twist, Underbelly Lates bring together live entertainment, clubbing and a famously buzzing festival atmosphere with a series of unique events including karaoke with a mob mentality in Massaoke, Cocoa Butter Club– the cabaret-variety show made by people of colour where comedy, circus, burlesque and drag are set down neo-soul, R&B and Disco, The Silent Disco Show the only show to mix silent disco with live performance, Blunderland– the legendary mixed-bill cabaret whose previous performers have included Le Gateau Chocolat, Lady Rizo, Empress Stah and Fancy Chance, and Southbank institution Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique.
Underbelly Festival’s biggest family programme ever will kick off with Family Fest – running throughout the Easter Holidays (8-22 April) -which includes the acclaimed adaptation of The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog in which live readings from author Julia Donaldson bring her stories to life within a spectacular theatrical world. Other classic children’s tales gracing the Southbank stage include the mega-hit Monstersaurus and a new theatrical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows.
On top of this spectacular theatre, this year’s family programme includes the first ever stage adaptation of a CBeebies smash hit: TwirlywoosLive! – in which the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show bring your favourite characters to life with beautifully innovative puppetry, mischief, music and plenty of surprises. (3-31 August).
So with so much choice, there’s sure to something that takes your fancy, I know I am going to be a regular visitor over the coming months.
For more information: www.underbellyfestival.com
6 April – 30 September
Southbank, London, SE1 8XX
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