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Preview: Dirty Dusting at Whitley Bay Playhouse

The Play That Cleans Up
Dirty Dusting
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Wednesday 20th May, 7.30pm
There’s nothing like a feel-good comedy to put a smile on your face and get you through to Friday, and that’s exactly what Dirty Dusting is here to do as we welcome an all-star cast to the Playhouse for one night only next May.

Written by award-winning North East playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, Dirty Dusting follows the story of three cleaning ladies who decide to spice up their lives and embark on a new career by starting their own telephone sex line. Hilarity ensues for ‘The Telephone Belles’ as they get to grips with their new job and try to keep it a secret from their boss. Needless to say, things don’t quite go to plan – can the ladies clean up their mess before it’s too late?

With lovable Liverpudlian Crissy Rock (best known for her one-liners in ITV’s Benidorm and her stint in the celebrity jungle on I’m A Celebrity in 2011) at the helm, Dirty Dusting promises to be a night of heart-warming, feel-good comedy with a naughty twist!

On The Web:

Show contents suitable for 14+ years.
Tickets £20 (Group offers available), sold via Box Office at Playhouse Whitley Bay. Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm.
Call 0844 248 1588 or book online at


Preview: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Sunderland Empire

Hi-ho, Hi-ho – it’s off to
Sunderland we go!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Sunderland Empire
12 December 20144 January 2015. 

Panto stars promise a truly wicked Christmas in Sunderland as the much loved classic tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs graces the stage from 12 December 20144 January 2015. 

So get set to travel deep into the magical forest on a very special pantomime adventure as we welcome back Martin Dodd for UK Productions, one of the country’s leading producers of musical theatre and pantomime both nationally and internationally, and the company behind the high-flying Peter Pan(2012) and enchanting Cinderella(2013) at the Sunderland Empire.

Panto legend and star of stage and screen Su Pollard will take on the dastardly role of the Wicked Queen, alongside Eastenders and Dancing on Ice star, Matt Lapinskas as the Prince and children’s TV favourite Andrew Agnew (PC Plum - Balamory) as the side-splitting Muddles the Jester. Mamma Mia’s Victoria Serra will play the beautiful Snow White and North East Dame Phillip Meeks will play the delightful Nurse Penny Well.

Su Pollard Photo: Robert Workman
After an apprenticeship at the Arts Theatre in her home town of Nottingham, Su Pollard made her television debut on Opportunity Knocks, coming second to a singing Jack Russell dog. Undeterred, she went on to become one of the nation's favourite stars, largely through
the role of chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw in Hi-de-Hi! Su’s stage credits are endless; pantomime, musicals or drama – Su has performed in them all, in a varied career which will next see her star as Maiden Marion in the national tour of Ha Ha Hood! and the Prince of Leaves.

Matt Lapkinskas Photo: Robert Workman
Matt Lapinskas is best known for playing Anthony Moon in Eastenders and was runner up in the eighth series of Dancing on Ice, skating his way to the 2013 finals. Ahead of pantomime season in Sunderland, Matt is set to embark on a national tour of “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” playing the role of Pharaoh from July to November 2014.  Matt has appeared in the film “I Want Candy” for Buena Vista International. Theatre whilst training at Italia Conti includes: “Assasins”, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Our Country’s Good”, “Days of Significance” and “Under Milkwood”.

Andrew Agnew
Photo: Robert Workman
Best known for playing the role of PC Plum in the BAFTA award-winning Cbeebies programme Balamory, Andrew’s television career began on BBC2 show Fran's People, where he was the character of Colin the Chef. He then got his big break, as the crime busting and nature loving, PC Plum in CBeebies' Balamory, and has starred in two UK Arena Tours of the popular programme. Andrew also has vast pantomime experience having performed all the popular characters including Wishee Washee in Aladdin (Floral Pavilion, New Brighton) Smee in Peter Pan and Buttons in Cinderella ( both at Churchill Theatre, Bromley).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a timeless tale and a delightful chance for all the family to enjoy another magical pantomime full of excitement at Sunderland Empire. Audiences can expect exquisite costumes, enchanting sets, music, dance, fun, laughter and of course poisoned apples, a Magic Mirror and the most fabulous Seven Dwarfs you've ever seen!

Are you looking to add some extra luxury to your visit? If so why not book into the all new 32 seater Ambassador Lounge.  A range of bespoke packages are available to further enhance the theatre experience giving customers the opportunity to make their visit even more memorable. 

Entry to the new Ambassador Lounge is available when purchasing Red and Purple Label packages. The Red Label package (£15) includes entry to the Ambassador Lounge, complimentary cloakroom, glass of Prosecco and savoury nibbles. The Purple Label package (£45) includes entry to the Ambassador Lounge, complimentary cloakroom, half bottle of chilled premium champagne, a delicious box of chocolates, savoury nibbles and a programme or theatre gift. A range of other packages are available with exclusive discounts for groups.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Sunderland Empire from
Friday 12 December 2014 to Sunday 4 January 2015.

Tickets priced £10 - £29.50* are on sale now from the Box Office on High Street West, Sunderland,
the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* and online at*
*Booking/transaction fees apply to telephone and online sales.

Groups 10+ 0844 8713042 and online at*
Group Tickets: 10+ £16*pp, Groups 20+ £15*pp and Groups 50*+ £13pp.

Booking Information:
Box Office: 0844 871 3022*
Groups 10+: 0844 871 3042
*Booking fee applies

*Discounts apply to prices A-C and are available at certain shows on the performance schedule. All discounts subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.


Preview: RAPUNZEL at Newcastle People’s Theatre

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

let down your hair!”

 RAPUNZEL by Philip Meeks

Newcastle People’s Theatre
Saturday 6th – Sunday 14th December 2014
The People’s Panto has become something of a Newcastle institution in recent years, so we’re proud to present the latest seasonal show from our regular production team, written once again by award-winning writer Philip Meeks.

This classic fairy story tells the tale of young Rapunzel (Emma JaneRichards), locked in her tower, who must let down her long, flowing hair so the Prince can climb up to her. Sound familiar? You can be sure this version of the old favourite will be packed full of cheeky twists, jolly japes, sing-along songs, and fun for all the family!

Directed by Anna Dobson

2pm & 7pm – Saturdays
2pm – Sundays
7pm - weekdays (no performance on Wed 10th)

Tickets £14/£11.50/Family Ticket £46
Box Office: 0191 265 5020

Review: Blood Brothers at Darlington Civic Theatre

A Celebration of Friends and Family

Blood Brothers
Darlington Civic Theatre
Until Saturday 29th November 2014.

It was on a cold night in November that the Blood Brothers tour rolled into Darlington on its 29th Anniversary. What makes a story stay in production in pretty much its original form for that length of time? A cracking story! Willy Russell understands both his audience and the faithfulness of the source material with this wonderful musical.

So do you know the story of the Johnstone Twins? The story starts with their Mum describing how dancing and looking a bit like Marilyn Monroe leads to a house full of kids. She manages to get a cleaning job at the house of Mr and Mrs Lyons which helps keep the debt collectors away after her husband ran off. Unfortunately he left her with a couple of presents in the shape of twins. Mrs Lyons hatches a plan to take on and raise one of the children as she is unable to have her own. Willy Russell, through the Narrator, reminds us of superstitions such as the bad luck that comes from putting new shoes on the table or seeing just one magpie. Sure enough the plans unravel as the story continues.

Sean Jones plays the initially playful Mickey and does a wonderful job demonstrating how he grows up with the harsh realities of his lot in life. Joel Benedict provides a perfect foil as his twin Eddie. The girl who grows up into their love interest is provided by Linda, played by the fabulous Danielle Corlass. Between them they provide many laughs as they go from seven years of age up to 18. The high jinks is reminiscent of the opening scenes of Blue Remembered Hills.

The strong story is supported by well crafted songs and the bulk of the singing is shared between the charismatic narrator, Kristopher Harding and the Mum, Mrs Johnstone, performed by a member of the 70s singing sensations The Nolans, Maureen Nolan. Clearly singing since the age of 9 gives Maureen both the confidence and ability to captivate the audience. Between them they made the musical numbers a delight to hear.

The story never drags and the performances remain tight throughout the show. No wonder the cast made 4 curtain calls in front of a full standing ovation from the delighted crowd.  Blood Brothers is a strong story performed by a great cast.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Thu 2pm & Sat 2.30pm
Opening Night £19.80, £20.60, £21.80, £23.40
Tue -Thu Evenings & Sat 2:30pm £24.50, £25.50, £27, £29
Fri & Sat Evenings £26.50, £27.50, £29 & £31
Thu 2pmAll seats £19
Discounts available

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit

*Includes £1 per ticket restoration levy


Preview: Darlington Civic Theatre announces Winter 2014/Spring 2015 Season

Darlington Civic Theatre announces Winter 2014/Spring 2015 Season

Darlington Civic Theatre lifts the curtain to unveil a spectacular Winter/Spring Season packed with more delights than a Christmas stocking.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without pantomime, and this year we’re off to see the wizard – or should that be the Chuckles of Oz! Join stars of children’s TV The Chuckle Brothers and follow the yellow brick road to a world of surprises between Sat 6 December and Sun 11 January. 

On Monday 5 January, we usher in the New Year in style with New Year in Vienna 2015 which will whisk you away to a fairy-tale world as the London Gala Orchestra alongside singers and conductor showcase the very best of popular Viennese music, from waltzes and polkas to uplifting marches.

Then there’s a whole jukebox of musical treats as we welcome Steve Steinman’s classic rock show Vampires Rock on Thu 15 January,  folk entertainers The Houghton Weavers on Fri 16 January, and stars of hit film Brassed Off, The Grimethorpe Colliery Band, on Sat 17 January.

From Mon 19 - Sat 24 January, the dark winter nights provide the perfect backdrop to chilling thriller The Woman in Black – an evening of unremitting drama which will transport the audience into a terrifying and ghostly world.

Just because it’s January it doesn’t mean it’s too late for a party! By popular demand, That'll Be The Day returns with a brand new show for 2015 for two nights only on Mon 26 & Tue 27 January. This hugely entertaining line-up of classic gold hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s provides both laughs and nostalgia.

We are delighted to welcome The Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia back to Darlington with three great ballet masterpieces: light-hearted Copp─Ślia (Thu 29 Jan), tragic Swan Lake (Fri 30 Jan) and family favourite The Nutcracker (Sat 31 Jan & Sun 1 Feb).

If you saw The Play That Goes Wrong last summer, you’ll love Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Tue 3 – Sun 8 Feb) – and if you missed it you’ll want to come and see what all the fuss was about! The Play That Goes Wrong has successfully transferred into the West End and Mischief Theatre returns with another riotous comedy.

Middle Ground Theatre Company is delighted to present Richard Harris’ acclaimed psychological thriller The Business of Murder, which comes to us Tue 10 - Sat 14 February and stars Robert Gwilym, known by millions for his role as Dr Max Gallagher in Casualty, alongside Paul Opacic (a regular in Bad Girls, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks) and Joanna Higson, who played Maxine Donnelly for two series of Shameless and is currently appearing as Vicky Hall in BBC TV's WPC5.

February brings a selection of shows which stop off in Darlington for one night only. On Tue 17 February The Russian State Ballet and Opera House presents classic opera Rigoletto, a tragic tale of misunderstanding, revenge and sacrifice. On Wed 18 February there’s a fantastic line-up of former members of the legendary band The Kinks as the Kast Off Kinks rock into town to re-live the good times with all their greatest hits. On Thu 19 February we’ve a date with Richard and Adam as they take us to the movies! Following their success on Britain’s Got Talent, Richard and Adam at the Movies brings you a night of silver screen classics performed with flawless technique.

On Sat 21 and Sun 22 February, we embark on an exciting new mission with Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano, while on Mon 23 February comedian Omid Djalili brings us Iranalamadingdong. We present a brilliant evening of stories and music with An Evening with Julian Lloyd Webber on Tue 24 Feb, and there are appearances from original members of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Wishbone Ash and The Strawbs with The Classic Legends of Rock and Folk ‘Super Tour’ 2015 on Wed 25 February.             

On Sat 28 February we’re pleased to be throwing our doors wide open for two days of fun, free family activities, with competitions, workshops, performances, guides tours and lots more in our Family Open Weekend.

The Daily Express dubs it ‘the best rock ‘n’ roll show in town’ – it’s the 25-year anniversary tour of Return to the Forbidden Planet, which blasts into Darlington Mon 2 - Sat 7 March.
Based on the award-winning novel by Sebastian Faulks, and coming to DarlingtonTue 10 - Sat 14 March, Birdsong is a mesmerising story of love and courage set both before and during the First World War.

For those aged five and under and their families, Where Caterpillars Go is a playful adventure set in a wild and magical paper garden, where the audience will be seated onstage alongside the performers on Sun 15 March.

The Royal Geographical Society returns to the Dolphin Centre on Mon 16 March with Professor Iain Stewartpresenting Planet Oil: The Story of a Modern Addiction.

Following recent productions of To Sir, With Love, Brassed Off and Regeneration, The Touring Consortium Theatre Company presents A View From The Bridge by Arthur Miller in celebration of the centenary of the playwright’s birth from Tue 17 – Sat 21 March.

March is a musical month as we welcome Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly (Wed 25 March), and a host of top tribute acts: The Elvis Years (Thu 26 March), Rumours of Fleetwood Mac (Fri 27 March), Sinatra and Friends (Sat 28 March), and Steve Steinman’s The Meat Loaf Story (Mon 30 March). The month ends with a flourish of magic as the team of tricksters that is Champions of Magic bring their show to us on Tue 31 March. 
If you and your family can’t wait until next Christmas for another pantomime, we have the solution with our Easter pantomime, which this year on Wed 1 & Thu 2 April is Beauty and the Beast starring Bobby Davro. April also sees the return of The Essence of Ireland on Sat 4 April – a heart-breaking, heart-warming story brought to life with the music and dance of the Emerald Isle.

If it’s laughter you’re after, this will be supplied in ample measure by Tim Vine (Tue 7 April) and the Return of the Grumpy Old Women – Fifty Shades of Beige (Thu 9 April). For something a little more gentle, The Good Old Days of Variety will take you back in an afternoon filled with classic songs on Wed 8 April. For more golden oldies, come and see The Hollies on Fri 10 April.

Currently dancing up a storm in
BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, Pasha Kovalev comes spinning into Darlingtonfor one night only on 11 April. Pasha Kovalev’s Life Through Dance is an amazing new show, a non-stop action-packed journey through life and love, expressed through the language of dance.

From Tue 14 – Sat 18 April we host English Touring Theatre as they present the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean drama A Mad World My Masters.
A hit with audiences and critics alike in Stratford Upon Avon, this riotous and rollicking comedy now explodes onto the stage at the Civic Theatre prior to a London season.

Local heroes Darlington OS return between Wed 22 April – Sat 2 May in what has long been a firm favourite in the calendar. This season they bring their production of Hairspray which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. 

Round up the girls (and the men, if they dare!) for The Naked Truth (Wed 6 – Sat 9 May), a poignant and uplifting comedy about sisterhood in which five very different women struggle to conquer pole dancing in aid of a breast cancer charity. With star casting to be announced, you’ll be splitting your sides and moved to tears. 

Tickets for the new Winter/Spring Season are on sale now, and brochures are available from the box office and in venues across the region. For further information and to book contact the box office on 01325 486 555, or visit choose your own seats online.


Article: A week for brave - risk taking in Newcastle

A week for brave - risk taking in Newcastle

Thoughts from Stephen Oliver.

Testing Times – Peoples Theatre 17th Nov
Peculiar Disco Moves – Castle Keep 21st Nov
Lady Gaga – Arena 22nd Nov

This week I had the pleasure to see three very contrasting shows which all show that being brave can result in a great performances.

Kicking the week off was Testing Times which was written, produced and directed by Steve Burbridge. Later in the week he would also star in it as Jamie Brown’s daughter was born. It is a massive undertaking to turn a script into your own production. To see the show evolve as you originally envisaged it must also be rewarding. The end result was a stark and powerful reminder that we have not always lived in such accepting times.

Peculiar Disco Moves are a band I love seeing perform, with their catchy songs and entertaining delivery, I’m humming their numbers for days afterwards. In the past year they have performed at the Mining Institute, a band stand in a park and now the Castle Keep. Deviating from their back catalogue, the Castle show involved Mother related covers in support of their new release When Your Mother Goes Home.  Does Your Mother Know is a classic ABBA song and fitted well with the theme of the evening. I loved the atmosphere in the historic venue and it goes to show that music can be played in different venues with a little bit of imagination.

After a short acoustic set which finished with their new single we moved across the street to The Bridge Hotel when the tight three piece Iceni opened before Peculiar Disco Moves performed a more conventional set. Iceni impressed enough for us to buy their EP and PDM performed a number of new tracks which I look forward to them recording, surely an album will be on the cards soon? It was a great night’s entertainment which just goes to show how fabulous the talent is in our local region.

Our son announced mid-week that he fancied seeing Lady Gaga – and so we thought “why not”. It has to be said that there are often good seats that are available about a week before these big shows and we found ourselves sat near the front in the cheapest seats. Another tip is to pay cash at the box office. When we looked online, we saw that they wanted £25.50 for 3 tickets in assorted fees before we even told them about how we planned to pay.

Lady Gaga has many great songs and, just like Queen in their heyday, she is not afraid to chuck in a mix of hit singles and album tracks. She was supported by a talented hardworking bunch of dancers and musicians. The drummer seemed to be bashing everything out of his drum kit. The hits were there in a set that knew how to jumble up the loud with the quiet in order to make impact.

The stage produced into the audience with a piano at the front. The idea is to get Gaga close to the fans but it was more likely to obsure their view if they’d paid good money for standing tickets.  It also meant that between a third and half of the fans found themselves staring at her back for a number of songs as she sang from the middle of the venue. Bands, like Metallica, try this “in the round” idea but move back to stages at the end of the venue for a reason. The same reason why we still build venues with the stage at the end – so performers face the crowd most of the time. The set design was a brave and bold attempt at doing something different.

That gripe apart we were highly entertained with a big show with more wigs and costume changes than your average musical.  We had two and a half hours of Gaga and left suitably impressed.

Preview: Rich Hall’s 3:10 to Humour at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Rich Hall’s 3:10 to Humour
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Saturday 9th May, 2015

Best known for his rapid-fire wit on QI, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Have I Got News For You  and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, we’re delighted to welcome award-winning American comedian Rich Hall back to the Whitley Bay Playhouse next May. 

Credited as the inspiration behind the Simpsons’ iconic bartender Moe Szyslak by creator Matt Groening, stand-up comedian Rich Hall’s acute perceptions of the world and everyday life resonates with our typically dry British sense of humour that keeps audiences wanting more. Splitting his time between the US and London for over 20 years, Rich Hall is very much a British institution and a man with many strings to his bow. From the Edinburgh Fringe and documentaries for the BBC to Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with David Letterman, Hall’s grouchy, deadpan humour appeals to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Now is the time to grab this chance to see the great man at work” – The Guardian

Opinionated, observant and slightly acerbic, Rich Hall will have audiences hanging off his every word as he shares stories from his life and incredible career. Book your tickets for the 3:10 to Humour now and get ready for one hell of a ride!

Tickets on sale from 21st November 2014 priced at £16. Tickets sold via Box Office at PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay. Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm. Call 0844 248 1588 or book online at