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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

REVIEW: Visiting Mr Green at Gateshead Little Theatre

Visiting Mr Green
By Jeff Baron
Gateshead Little Theatre
Until Saturday 20th July 2019

First performed in 1996, this two-hander is set in a 90’s Manhattan apartment. Two men from different generations meet up on several occasions. The drama comes from their differences, the comedy from recognising common human traits. A great script coupled with a strong cast makes Gateshead’s Little Theatre well worth a visit this week.

Ross Gardiner has had a traffic accident involving elderly Mr Green. As part of his punishment for the incident, he is has to carry out community service. This involves a weekly visit to support his victim. The trouble with the first visit is that Mr Green has forgotten why the young man is there. Ross offers to clean and to get the shopping in. Recent widower Mr Green is independent in both mind and actions.  They agree to contact the social worker as the visits are clearly not working.

Ross returns the following week as he has been told he has to carry out the visits regardless. Armed with kosher soup, the American Express employee tries to support the sometimes stubborn Mr Green. Over nine scenes there is an exploration both of this odd couple and their relationships with their families. Bit by bit, they open up.

This play has been described as a “New York Jewish Comedy” and indeed it explores what it means to be a Jew in New York but it also at other elements of identity. The humour, like any good comedy, comes from the recognition of the situation.  The script is wonderful.

But a wonderful script needs careful execution to make a good show. James Soulsby and Christopher Bache are convincing as Ross and Mr Green. Both are able to show entrenched positions, based upon faith and life’s experiences, without looking absurd. As a result, the audience can feel sympathetic towards both men. It would have been easy to create two caricatures that it was difficult to have any connection with. Director Mark Buckley has developed strong performances.

The only drag are some of the gaps between scenes, though a number of the audience used these to discuss their feelings. Changing costumes and applying make up takes time – the reaction of one such change certainly resulted in an immediate reaction from the audience.

Visiting Mr Green was a very good evening’s entertainment. A strong story and cast combine to produce a heart-felt play.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Full Price   £9, Concessions £7
Tickets can be purchased in person and over the phone via our Box Office or online
Box Office is staffed pre-play week Monday to Friday from 6:30pm to 8:00pm - please feel free to come into the theatre or call us during these hours.
An answerphone service is available when Box Office is closed.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

REVIEW: Bobby Robson Saved My Life

Bobby Robson Saved My Life
Tuesday 16 - Saturday 20 July @ South Shields Customs House
Friday 2 – Saturday 3 August 2019 Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Written by Tom Kelly
Directed by Jamie Brown

Three passionate football monologues. One theme: former England, Ipswich Town and Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson.

Bobby was a working-class lad who started life as a coal miner. Success never resulted in him forgetting his roots and people speak about him being a gentleman who conducted himself with passion and dignity. You don't seem to get many like that in football today.  No wonder it feels appropriate to put his legacy on stage.  This is a story about those whom he influenced rather than having an actor acting his life story.

The stage is split into three homes. Donald McBride is Tommy, the man who knew Bobby when they were growing up in Langley Park, County Durham. He knew Bobby's parents and he was pleased when he signed for his first professional club. The both knew about outside toilets and a lack of running water in the houses that they grew up in. Such recollections produced a number of early laughs for the Customs House audience.

Sam Neale appears as Clair, a single mum with a young child that we never see, remembered going to St James Park with her grandfather. She starts her piece waxing lyrically about when Ruud Gullet resigned, with Newcastle looking ready for the drop, but Bobby sailed into town and the team beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0.

The former professional footballer, Mark, who has retired through injury, but met Bobby on his travels, is played by Charlie Richmond.

The three actors alternate telling their accounts of the footballing legend, only reaching a common focus as England play West Germany in Italia 90's semi-final. Apart from that the only interaction was the footballer, Mark, picking up a scarf previously put out to dry by the mother Clair.

Tom Kelly's gentle humour in the script fed Donald McBride plenty of laughs throughout his performance. Whilst Charlie's Mark has much more of an emotional rollercoaster, yet he still gets to make everyone laugh on occasions. Both actors come across as naturally funny raconteurs who can deliver tough points when the time comes.

Mark’s story has similar dark moments to poor Clair. This poor lady seemed to have pulled the short straw in life. Sam Neale is able to capture a strong parent that survives no matter what is thrown at her and her child.

Director Jamie Brown allows the three talented actors to shine in their respective thirds of the set. The passion that supporters feel for the beautiful game is conveyed with the same emotion as the feelings towards the popular footballing hero.

This is a show that will go down well with football fans, especially those who follow Ipswich and Newcastle.  There are human stories and Bobby’s connection with cancer research feature too. How much the story will appeal to those with only a passing interest in the game is debatable. Perhaps with some interaction between the characters, at some point, then the story could have a wider appeal.

Sir Bobby Robson is clearly loved by everyone involved in bringing the show to life. It went down very well on opening night with a standing ovation. This gentleman is rightly held in high esteem and this show is a fitting tribute to his life and his principles.

Review by Stephen Oliver
Photos: Wycombe 89 Media

Bobby Robson Saved My Life runs from Tuesday, July 16, to Saturday, July 20, at The Customs House, before moving on to the Regent Theatre in Ipswich, where Sir Bobby enjoyed great success with Ipswich Town, and Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre and Opera House.
The Customs House performances start at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinee. Tickets, priced from £20, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

Tickets for the Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House shows are also on general sale now.
Tickets will be available from the Tyne Theatre and online from Eventim tickets – LINK:  #Ad

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Preview: The Gambing Man at Newcastle People’s Theatre

The Gambing Man
Newcastle People’s Theatre
Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 July 2019

Life has been a game of chance for Rory Connor since the day he was born. This ambitious, working-class lad fears nothing and nobody, playing the odds to claw his way up from the mean streets of 19th Century South Shields. But then one day his luck changes ...

The dramatic stakes are high in The Gambling Man, one of Catherine Cookson’s best-loved and biggest-selling novels.
Janey (Emma Jane Richards), Rory (Stephen Sharkey) and 
Charlotte (Sara Jo Harrison) – photos: Paula Smart. 

The 1995 television mini-series starring Robson Green and David Nellist (whose dad Derek is a long-time member of the People’s) is a staple of the Drama channel, but this is a rare theatrical outing for this popular local classic. This stage adaptation by Ken Hill was last seen on Tyneside in 1985 at the Newcastle Playhouse (now Northern Stage) starring Denise Welch.

This production is performed by special arrangement with Sheila Land Associates and the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust. 

The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust was established in 1977 and it supports a wide range of activities including arts and culture as well as general charitable purposes. Its principle aim is to identify and meet the local needs of the area in which Dame Catherine was brought up and resided, and we were delighted to receive a very generous donation towards our recent £1.6 million redevelopment.

Cookson’s dramas are always popular with People's audiences. The last time they brought one of her stories to their stage – 2015’s The Fifteen Streets – it was the biggest selling play of that Season, beating a Noël Coward and a Shakespeare! It’s little wonder, however, as Cookson is one of the most widely read British novelists, with more than 100 titles to her name and sales topping 100 million.

Tickets:     £14 (Concessions £11.50) available by phone: 0191 265 5020, box office or online from

Preview: Band of Gold at Darlington Hippodrome

Star Cast Announced For Band Of Gold At Darlington Hippodrome

Band of Gold
Darlington Hippodrome
Monday 27 January - Saturday 1 February, 2020

Band of Gold – the premiere stage adaptation of Kay Mellor’s multi award-winning ITV series, has announced that Laurie Brett, Gaynor Faye, Kieron Richardson, Shayne Ward and Sacha Parkinson, will star in the production which visits Darlington Hippodrome in January next year.

Kay Mellor
Band of Gold was the ground-breaking crime drama that captivated over 15 million viewers each week when it aired on ITV. This nail-biting, murderous thriller features a star-studded cast including Gaynor Faye, (Emmerdale, Playing the Field, Calender Girls), Laurie Brett, (EastEnders, Waterloo Road, Les Miserables), Kieron Richardson, (Hollyoaks, Heartbeat), Shayne Ward, (Coronation Street, Rock Of Ages, X Factor winner) and Sacha Parkinson (Mr Selfridge, The Mill).

Following the unprecedented sell-out success of Fat Friends The Musical, producer Josh Andrews and Kay Mellor have teamed up again for Band of Gold, to be directed by Mellor.

Gaynor Faye
The nail-biting thriller tells the story of a group of women - Carol, Rose, Anita and Gina - as they battle to survive whilst working in a notorious red-light district. When one of their colleagues is murdered, they need to find the killer before they strike again.

First aired on ITV in March 1995, Band of Gold starred Geraldine James, Cathy Tyson, Barbara Dickson and Samantha Morton. The groundbreaking crime drama captivated the nation, with bookmakers taking bets on the identity of the killer before the final episode!

Band of Gold runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday 27 January to Saturday 1 February, 2020. Tickets are on sale now. For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit

Preview: Sleeping Beauty at Newcastle Northern Stage

Sleeping Beauty
Newcastle Northern Stage
Tuesday 27th – Saturday 31st August 2019

Boulevard's famous host 'Miss Rory' will take to the stage in Sleeping Beauty The Family Pantomime at Northern Stage, in their first ever Summer Pantomime alongside an all star cast. 

She's famous for her often expletive laden rants and observations while hosting the weekly shows at Boulevard, but Miss Rory has landed a shock new role in a family pantomime.

'Miss Rory', a well known face in Newcastle thanks to being the hostess with the mostest at Boulevard and compering Newcastle Pride, has been announced as one of the cast for the family summer pantomime Sleeping Beauty at Northern Stage.

Whoever said pantos are just for Christmas need to think again as Sleeping Beauty will be in the spotlight at Northern Stage from August 27 - 31 for 10 performances only. 

And before you panic that 'Queen of Mean' Miss Rory has gone all nicey nicey all of a sudden, don't worry as she will be playing the villain of the piece - evil fairy Carabosse - who will try everything to get revenge on not being invited to Princess Beauty's birthday celebration.

Watch out for spinning wheels and spindles!

Also announced in the cast is pantomime favourite Daniel Mawston as 'Queen Patsy'. Former Made in Tyne & Wear presenter Hazel Pude will play ' Fairy Canny'. West End Star Wayne Smith as 'Prince Philip of Fenham' alongside North East Favourite's; Robyn McEnaney as 'Sleeping Beauty', Craig Richardson as 'Muddles' and James Mitchinson as 'Radgie Gadgie'

The choreography for the show will be by the legs of London herself, Danni Dee who is also the leading lady at Boulevard. Sleeping Beauty is being brought to Northern Stage by local producer Liam Glendinning on behalf of his new venture 'Glendo Entertainment'.

Performance times:
3pm & 7pm

Sat 31 August, 11am & 3pm

Relaxed performance: Wed 28 August, 3pm

Running time – Approx. 2 hrs 20mins (including interval)

Age recommendation - Suitable for all ages

You can buy tickets for the show now from just £10 online from the Northern Stage box office, by calling 0191 230 5151, or online:

Friday, 5 July 2019

Preview: Cabaret at Sunderland Empire

Sunderland Dates Announced!

Bill Kenwright Presents
Sunderland Empire
28 January – 1 February 2020

The Award-Winning Production of Kander & Ebb’s Award-Winning Musical
Directed by Rufus Norris

Starring John Partridge As Emcee, Anita Harris Is Fraulein Schneider & Kara Lily Hayworth As Sally Bowles Singer & Screen Icon

Anita Harris
Bill Kenwright presents the multi award-winning production of Kander and Ebb’s landmark musical, Cabaret. Directed by National Theatre Director Rufus Norris, the production has enjoyed two smash hit West End runs at The Lyric and The Savoy theatres.

John Patridge
Starring as Emcee is John Patridge, winner of Celebrity MasterChef 2018, well known to TV audiences as EastEnders’ charismatic Christian Clarke and one of West End theatre’s most prolific leading men (A Chorus Line, Chicago, and La Cage Aux Folles). Kara Lily Hayworth stars as the iconic Sally Bowles following her spectacular performance in the title role of Cilla The Musical which was revered by both critics and audiences alike. They are joined by Anita Harris, who first rose to fame as a singer in the 1960s and has appeared both on screen (Follow That Camel and Carry on Doctor) and on stage, most notably as Grizabella in the West End’s Cats.

It’s 1931, Berlin is a haven of divine decadence and the legendary Sally Bowles is about to take stage at the infamous Kit Kat Klub…

Kara Lily Hayworth
Cabaret features show-stopping choreography, dazzling costumes and iconic songs, including ‘Money Makes the World Go Round’, ‘Maybe This Time’ and ‘Cabaret’. Directed by critically acclaimed Rufus Norris (Director of The National Theatre) and featuring the Olivier Award Winning Choreography by Javier De Frutos, the production has enjoyed two smash hit West End runs at The Lyric and The Savoy theatres.

Music - John Kander
Lyrics - Fred Ebb
Book - Joe Masteroff
Directed - Rufus Norris
Choreographed - Javier De Frutos
Produced - Bill Kenwright

Facebook: @BKLProductions
Twitter: @BKL_Productions
Suitable for ages 14+ - Contains nudity

Tickets: Tickets available now for ATG Theatre Card holders.  Public Booking Opens – Tuesday 9 July at 10am. Tickets available from the theatre box office and online from #Ad

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Preview: John Williams Gala @ Sunderland Empire

John Williams Gala @ Sunderland Empire

Performed By The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

One Night Only – Friday 6 March 2020

Tickets Now On Sale: #Ad

From a galaxy far, far away to the magnificent Sunderland Empire, experience the full power and scale of John Williams’s most legendary film scores including Home AloneE.T., Harry PotterJurassic Park, Hook, Jaws and Star Wars® performed by the world-famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), for one night only on Friday 6 March 2020.

Be transported to Hogwarts, recover the Ark of the Covenant and escape from the Jaws of cinema’s most terrifying and prehistoric creatures in this sensational celebration of the music of John Williams, under the baton of esteemed conductor Stephen Bell. Highly regarded for his ability to communicate with audiences, Stephen Bell is perhaps best known for his involvement with the Proms each year including the famous Doctor Who Prom in 2008.
The RPO is no stranger to the film world; they are frequently found in the recording studio and have performed extensively for film and television. Their earliest film recording was The Red Shoes in 1948, David Lean’s A Passage to India, Enduring Love starring Daniel Craig, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and most recently Phantom Thread. The Orchestra have also featured as themselves in Charles Dance’s Ladies in Lavender alongside Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. 

Conductor: Stephen Bell
The RPO is really excited to present this spectacular programme of John Williams scores. Managing Director, James Williams said:   To welcome people to the orchestral genre, we need to celebrate the importance of film, computer games and musical theatre as signposts to musical discovery.”

This perspective is supported by research conducted in 2018 by YouGov that found that film was rated the biggest single influence for introducing children to orchestral music. The John Williams concert is perfect for families, and will be a guaranteed night to remember for listeners of all ages. So bring your friends, family, seasoned concert-goers and orchestral newbies alike for an unforgettable journey into the sound of cinema!

This concert is made possible through the generous support of Sunderland Music Hub, Sunderland Empire Theatre Trust and the University of Sunderland.

Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West or online at *
*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your plus your phone company's access charge. Booking and transaction fees may apply.