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News: Dance City announce first ‘Made In The North East’ Commission

 Dance City announce first ‘Made In The North East’ Commission

Dance City has announced the recipient of its £25,000 ‘Made In The North East’ (MITNE) commission. It will be Rendez-Vous Dance with The Monocle.

This is the first MITNE commission by a consortium of nine North East venues who together will support the creation of new work and a region-wide tour. Rendez-Vous Dance was established in 2019 by award-winning choreographer Mathieu Geffré, who now lives in Newcastle. During his 15-year career as a performer he collaborated with some of the most celebrated artists in the world including Itzik Galili, Christopher Bruce, Didy Veldman, Angelin Preljocaj and Johann Inger.

Rendez-Vous Dance creates projects to tell past and present stories of LGBTQ+ communities. The Monocle, a brand-new piece is inspired by the secretly notorious 1930’s Parisian lesbian club Le Monocle and will be performed by seven dancers who identify as female or non-binary.

Mathieu Geffré, Artistic Director, Rendez-Vous Dance said: “I feel absolutely elated to have been offered the Made In the North East commission. Firstly, I would like to particularly thank the commission panel, the consortium of venues and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for choosing my project to champion dance in the North East.

Artistic Director of Rendez-Vous Dance, Matheiu Geffré. Photo: Matt Pear.
“After investing energy in developing work and relationships in the region for the past four years, I fully acknowledge with great humility the privilege I now have to be able to project myself in a new creative adventure which I wish to be ambitious, collaborative and people-oriented.”

‘Made in the North East’ is the first commission of its kind, combining the forces of nine North East venues to offer a fee of £25,000 to support the creation of a new work and a region wide tour. Partner venues are:

· Dance City (Newcastle)

· Alnwick Playhouse (Alnwick),

· Queens Hall (Hexham),

· Middlesbrough Town Hall (Middlesbrough),

· The Witham (Barnard Castle),

· The Fire Station (Sunderland), managed by Sunderland Culture

· Darlington Hippodrome (Darlington)

· Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre (Hartlepool)

· Gosforth Civic Theatre (Newcastle)

The commission aims for the partners to develop a better understanding and commitment to programming dance performances in the region. To achieve this the partners are participating in a collective process of development and training activities to best enable the production of new work and touring support through a consortium approach.

The commission opportunity was offered exclusively to dance and physical theatre artists and companies based in the North East, who were able to demonstrate a commitment to building the long term dance ecology of the region.

Phil Douglas, Director of Artistic Programmes and Artist Development, Dance City explained “We are thrilled to be announcing the recipient of a Made In The North East commission. The panel were incredibly impressed by the quality of applications, which proved a testament to the talent working in the region. The panel concluded Rendez-Vous Dance's ‘The Monocle’ was to be awarded the commission for its well-planned, presented and engaging proposal.

“Conceived as an entertaining and immersive experience involving dance and live music, The Monocle promises to be a fun performance articulating themes of pride, gender fluidity and rebellion.

“We want the North East to be a place where world class dance is made. With the support of Esmée Fairburn Foundation we have created this strategic partnership project to share, diversify and develop programming quality professional dance into more places and spaces in the region, giving confidence and deeper insight for venues, audiences and artists about the process of producing and touring dance work.”

Supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation the consortium’s collective ambition is to make a world class piece of work with national significance, made in the North East.

Helen Green, Head of Performance at Sunderland Culture added “We are delighted to be part of the ‘MITNE’ regional partnership and to have jointly commissioned a new dance production from rising choreographer, Mathieu Geffré, for the region. We are very excited to be opening the city’s new venue, The Fire Station, later in the year and thrilled to be able to host the premiere of The Monocle which promises to be a highly original and entertaining dance performance.”

Susan Coffer, Centre Manager at The Witham said “Mathieu Geffré’s concept for The Monocle is highly original. This will be more than a dance work, it will be a total experience for the audience from the moment they enter the venue. I can’t wait to be part of the world he’ll create, to be drawn into the atmosphere, to be emersed in his story-telling.”

Rendez-Vous Dance’s The Monocle will begin creation between May 2021 – January 2022, with a tour taking place in Spring 2022.


Preview: Felt Nowt’s New Year’s Eve Livestreamed Comedy Shows


The cream of the North East Comedy crop to appear online for two NYE online shows


Felt Nowt’s New Year’s Eve Livestreamed Comedy Shows

Thursday 31st December 2020

8:30pm and 10:30pm shows

New Year's Eve is just around the corner and you are now not legally allowed to leave your couch.

So, Felt Nowt have pulled together a number of the best comedians in the North East to put on a couple of shows that you can watch from home.

It will all be performed and recorded in the same venue, with great sound and lighting, socially distanced. It won’t just be comics phoning in from their houses with bad wifi. It’ll be as close to a live gig as possible.

The 8.30pm show features:

MC - Hal Branson

Carl Hutchinson, Louise Young, Lee Kyle, Sammy Dobson, Si Beckwith

The 10.30pm show welcomes:

MC - Hal Branson

Gavin Webster, Lauren Pattison, Matt Reed, Cal Halbert, Anja Atkinson

There are two tiers of tickets available: VIP ‘front row’ tickets for £25 that will allow you to watch on Zoom and interact or a youtube stream ticket for £15 for those that prefer to just watch. And for those dedicated comedy fans & flash Harrys there's a discounted option that gives you access to both! (£40 VIP / £20 livestream)

*Only One Ticket Required Per Household (unless you're generous / drunk when booking)

Felt Nowt is a not-for-profit organisation that has a goal to transform the North East comedy scene for audiences and comedians.


It has been formed by a number of well known North East comedians, including Gavin Webster, Hal Branson, Lee Kyle and Lauren Pattison.


As a Community Interest Company Felt Nowt will reinvest all of its profits back into the business with the long-term goal of taking comedy to communities which might not otherwise have access to it.

On The Web:



Instagram: feltnowt




Felt Nowt’s New Year’s Eve Livestreamed Comedy Shows - Thursday 31st December 2020

8:30pm and 10:30pm shows

£25 front row tickets. £15 stream tickets.

£40 front row for both shows. £20 stream for both shows.

Early show tickets -

Late show tickets -

Both shows -

Tickets will also allow you entry to our aftershow, a live version of the cult call in Comedy Results show, which we could well regret.




Preview: Dirty Dancing at Newcastle Tyne Theatre


Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage announces Newcastle show


Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Tuesday 26th – Wednesday 27th October 2021

Tickets for the three performances are available from our affiliates Eventim UK: #Ad


Kira Malou (Baby) - Photo: Alastair Muir

Producer Karl Sydow is delighted to announce new dates for a  UK and Ireland dates for the 2021 tour of a dazzlingly renewed version of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, which will arrive in Newcastle next October.

Kira Malou (Baby) Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) - Photo Alastair Muir

The iconic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs 'Hungry Eyes', ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, returns to the stage, following two blockbuster West End runs, four hit UK tours, and multiple sensational international productions. 

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.

On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, she shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle, the resort dance instructor.


Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off, and two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.

Kira Malou (Baby) Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) Photo: Alastair Muir

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage originally opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre in 2006 with a record-breaking advance of £15 million, making it the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. The production became the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre and played to over 2 million people during its triumphant 5 year run.

Since its Australian debut in 2004, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage has become a worldwide phenomenon, with productions staged in the USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and throughout Europe, consistently breaking box office records. Recent tours in France, Germany and Australia were all sell out smash hits. The first ever UK tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage launched in 2011 and then returned to the West End in 2013 playing at the Piccadilly Theatre in London, prior to launching a second UK and Ireland tour. A further tour and West End Christmas season followed in 2016/17. It went on to embark on a 2018/19 tour, entertaining audiences up and down the country. That means that in the UK, the original touring production has now played to in excess of 6,000,000 people and Baby has carried over 21,000 watermelons!

Simone Covele (Penny) Michael O'Reilly (Johnny) - Photo: Alastair Muir

Produced by Karl Sydow & Joye Entertainment in association with Lionsgate, Magic Hour Productions and Triple A Entertainment Group, and written by Eleanor Bergstein - script writer of the phenomenally successful 1987 film - the production features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film, as well as exciting extra scenes.



Tickets for the three performances are available from our affiliates Eventim UK: #Ad


Preview: The Osmonds - A New Musical Sunderland Empire

The Osmonds - A New Musical

Sunderland Empire

Tuesday 23rd - Saturday 27 November 2021

Tickets available now from our affiliates ATG Tickets: #Ad

You Loved Them For A Reason. Now, for the first time, you can see this sensational new musical and relive one of the world’s biggest ever boybands. The Osmonds: A new musical tells the official story from Jay Osmond about the five brothers from Utah who were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create smash hits decade after decade.

From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show, to the arrival of Donny and Marie, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart topping albums, selling out vast arena concerts and making record breaking TV shows - until one bad decision cost them everything.

Directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Olivier Award winning Bill Deamer, this brand new musical features a chart topping list of anthems including Love Me For A ReasonCrazy HorsesLet Me InPuppy LoveOne Bad AppleLong Haired Lover From LiverpoolPaper Roses and many more, The Osmonds: A New Musical will take you back to the relive 60s…the 70s…the 80s….

We’re Having a Party and you’re invited to join us for this night of drama, nostalgia and dancing in the aisles.

Tickets available now from our affiliates ATG Tickets: #Ad


Preview: Eric Gales at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Eric Gales & Danny Bryant

Whitley Bay Playhouse
Saturday 2nd April 2022
Tickets available from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK: #Ad

Gales’ story is an incredible one, he was a child prodigy and released his debut album The Eric Gales Band in 1991 as a 16-year-old on Elektra Records. It was the first of 10 albums on a major label through a blistering career. He has released 15 studio albums in total ahead of ‘The Bookends’ and a host of other collaborations. He has battled drink and drug issues and spent time in jail in 2009 for possession of drugs and a weapon. Gales proudly tells his story every night before every show, now over two years sober he is creating some of the most breath-taking music he has ever made. Talking about his approach to song writing in this time he reflects. “I guess the songs would answer the question more or less, I definitely don’t have anything clouding my view and it’s definitely a much purer place where its coming from.”

If ‘Middle of the Road’ was the rebirth of Eric Gales, then ‘The Bookends’ is him knocking away his boundaries and taking flight on a voyage of self-discovery asking himself what do you think you can do and pushing that into the stratosphere.

“It’s still a revelation to hear his late-period bloom. These songs could be crossover hits” (Classic Rock 8/10)

“You’re in for a rockin’ ride.” (Guitarist 10/10)

“From the opening Whammy Pedal fuelled notes of The Bookends, Gales affirms that he is one of the most capable and exciting guitarists on the planet.”  (Guitar Techniques 5/5)

Special guest on all shows is the critically acclaimed British Blues rock guitarist Danny Bryant. Hailed as “A National Blues Treasure,” Bryant recently released his 11th studio album ‘Means of Escape’ via Jazzhaus Records to great fanfare.

Tickets available from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK: #Ad


News: Newcastle's Live Theatre announces appointment of new Executive Director/Joint CEO

Newcastle's Live Theatre announces appointment of new Executive Director/Joint CEO 

Live Theatre today announces that Jacqui Kell has been appointed Executive Director/Joint CEO, and she will take up the post in March 2021. The Executive Director post is part of a new leadership structure at this internationally renowned new writing theatre which will see two posts, Executive Director and Artistic Director, working together as Joint CEOs and replacing that of Jim Beirne, the outgoing Chief Executive. 

Before joining Live Theatre as Operations Director in September 2018, Jacqui worked as Director of Business Strategy and Interim Chief Executive at Arch in Northumberland. Prior to that she spent ten years at Newcastle City Council in several high-profile roles including management of the European team charged with attracting international and national funds to major projects in the city. 

Jacqui Kell 

Commenting on her appointment as Executive Director/Joint CEO, Jacqui said: “I’m really privileged and looking forward to taking up this new role.  Following a difficult year for many sectors including theatres we have great plans for 2021 and beyond.  Work will start in January to improve our physical space and we have a brilliant creative programme planned, which will continue to present work digitally, but most importantly will see audiences welcomed back into our theatre to enjoy the work on stage.  It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Jim Beirne and I’m excited about what our outstanding team can continue to create and achieve as well as working with our board, partners, tenants, funders and stakeholders on delivering our future plans.” 

Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of the Board, Live Theatre said: “I am delighted that Jacqui has been appointed to this new role, following a rigorous recruitment process. During her time as Operations Director she has proven to be extremely commercially minded, developing new partnerships, managing fruitful stakeholder relationships and leading on both the successful Arts Council England capital programme bid and the Culture Recovery Fund application. Live Theatre has a great reputation for breaking new ground and I am confident that Jacqui’s vision, expertise and innovative and entrepreneurial approach will make a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of Live Theatre.” 

Jim Beirne, Chief Executive Live Theatre said: “Having worked with Jacqui for over two years, I am thrilled by the news of her appointment. I have seen first-hand her outstanding leadership skills and I know she will guide her highly creative and talented colleagues, to further successes. I am personally very proud of the achievements of the team at Live Theatre and our reputation.” 

Image: Stephen Oliver

Live Theatre has an international reputation as a theatre for the quality of work with the four phase (Live Elevator) approach to the development and production of artistically strong and relevant new plays. In the last few years Live Theatre’s work has received an Olivier Award for Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour and The Red Lion by Patrick Marber, directed by Max Roberts, starring Stephen Tompkinson was nominated for an Olivier Award. In 2016 Live Theatre’s commission from Shelagh Stephenson, Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing was nominated as best regional theatre production by BBC Radio 4 Front Row listeners. Guardian readers nominated Iris, commissioned from Alison Carr as Regional Play of the Year and Clear White Light written by Paul Sirett was voted one of the Guardian readers’ top theatre shows in 2018. 

Live Theatre’s pioneering work with children and young people (CYP) is also highly regarded. A key part of the continuum of talent development and a seminal part of the artistic programme, CYP’s two main strands are Live Tales and Live Youth Theatre. 

The team at Live Theatre have continued to develop their artistic, creative and learning programmes throughout the pandemic.Live Wired was introduced to bring their work and shows including the critically acclaimed 10 Minutes To … Call Home and the recent 5 Plays of Christmas to audiences through digital platforms. 

Applications are still open for the new Artistic Director/Joint CEO role. Creative professionals with a significant track record of creating exciting work, wanting to engage with new approaches to making work and engaging communities have until 10am on Monday 18 January 2021 to apply. For more information see 


REVIEW: Arbuthnot and Dame Bella’s Christmas Adventure

 South Shields Customs House presents

Arbuthnot and Dame Bella’s Christmas Adventure - a new family musical

DVD and (hopefully) in theatre

Eeee! Boys and girls. Where have you been? What have you been doing? Who have you been doing it with?

Everyone at the North East Theatre Guide has missed out pantomimes and so we were really excited to be asked to review the Customs House show. It has been a regular favorite with its unique blend of local comedy and excitable raucous audiences.  

This year we were offered a chance to watch the show at home as it has been recorded and is now available on DVD. This is not the only difference as the directing duties have moved across to David Hopper, who has also written the script with Jen Stevens. Jen has also produced original music for the show rather than using this year’s relevant chart hits. Having said that, the unique designs and costumes of Fox and Shriek give the show visual similarity to the normal Christmas shows at the Customs House.

So what is the tale about? The official blurb says: “Two brothers, Santa Claus, and his brother Jack Frost, have gone their different ways. One is kind and caring, the other filled with jealously.

But on discovering one child, in Cooksonville, no longer believes in Santa, Frost sees his chance to freeze Santa and stop Christmas.

Can Arbuthnot persuade his cousin Dennis to believe? Can Roxy the Reindeer, Jerry the Snowman and Grace the Elf navigate the North Pole, And... Will Dame Bella get her stockings filled this Christmas?”

I suspect the title was chosen long before the show was written as it is much more of an ensemble piece rather than purely a vehicle for Dame Bella and her son. If anything “Dennis rediscovers the magic of Christmas” is closer to the final show as Arbuthnot’s marra pops up regularly. 

At the start Santa is frozen by his brother Jack Frost (Steven Lee Hamilton) as a boy in Cooksonville called Dennis (Glen Richard Towsend) doesn’t believe in Santa, so the Christmas Fairy (Eleanor Chaganis) sends Grace the Elf (Bronwen Hanson) so sort it out. Unfortunately she collects cousin Arbuthnot (David Hopper) and her mother Bella (Ray Spencer) instead of Dennis. Our titular couple decide to stay and help sort out presents whilst Roxy the Reindeer (Bethan Amber) and eventually Jerry the Snowman (Dale Jewitt) help Dennis to make it to the North Pole.

Unlike some pantos, this year’s story is closely followed (rather than complicating things with side stories) which will help keep the interest of the younger viewers. Ray and David are a great double act and there is a conscious decision to break the fourth wall and talk to the camera. This will help with the engagement. Unfortunately the recorded show does lack the audience so to make it work best it would be recommended to watch it with a group. Occasionally the audience participation words appear on the screen which will help the kids not used to the format.

Bethan Amber and Bronwen Hanson’s characters are both charming and add a caring element to the chaos that surrounds the others of stage. In a much shorter show (just under 90 minutes) you might not see as much of some characters like Eleanor Chaganis’s Fairy or Dale Jewitt’s Snowman as you’d like. Indeed Bella and Arbuthnot get a couple of scenes, including a classic messy scene, to go through their usual antics but their screen time is reduced too. The thing is: I’d rather see this shorter show than no show at all.

So yes, it does feel strange not seeing this in a theatre full of excited kids full of sugar and noise. 2020 has been full of strange stuff. The DVD will be an ideal thing to stick on when you have a room full of kids to entertain when your bubbles get together over Christmas. The use of original songs that help the plot gives the show more of a musical feel but there are still plenty of panto elements to enjoy. The filming will give your family a great seat in the house and the camera work, from Wycombe 89, is used well to involve the kids in the action from time to time.

Let’s hope panto is back to normal soon as we miss the action!

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Jordan Embleton

Tickets & DVDs:

Capacity in the theatre has reduced to allow social distancing in household or support bubbles of up to six. The venue’s bar and restaurant remains closed, however refreshments can be ordered to be delivered direct to seats.

Tickets from £15 are on general sale from 

DVDs are available by visiting: