See Tickets


The Best of 2015 - Review of the year

Follow North East Theatre Guide on Twitter at on Facebook at
The Best of 2015

2015 was a great year for both PR and the North East Theatre Guide. We tripled the readership of the blog during the year and have seen days when the retweet reach has literally gone in to the millions.

Stats wise: This year 115 000 read the guide which featured 93 reviews and it had a peak readership of over 16000 in a month. Thanks go to everyone who read, wrote or helped out in any way in helping us to celebrate North East theatre.  The production which created the most traffic was Geordie The Musical the most read review was Alice in Wonderland both events happening at the resurgent Customs House.

2015 has been a year of belt tightening across the arts as funding is cut from the local councils. We continue to have much more public money per head of population spent on the arts down south. Still we were pleased to welcome a new theatre to the region and we look forward to more shows at Alphabetti in 2016.

We will ignore the shows that we saw outside of the region…except to say:

London Show we most want to see tour in 2016: Carrie The Musical

The Proud to be in the North East Award:
2.    The Man & The Donkey – South ShieldsCustoms House

TheLaugh out loud stand up comedy award:

The Stunning set design award:
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Sunderland Empire

The Best dance production award:
2.    What the body does not remember – Newcastle Northern Stage

The Best amateur musical award:
1.    Hairspray – Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

TheBest musical award:

The Best Show for Children:
1.    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Newcastle Northern Stage
2.    Error 404 – Newcastle Northern Stage & Stockton Arc

The Best new writing award:

The Most entertaining pantomime
1.    Alice In Wonderland – South Shields Customs House
3.    Snow White & The Seven Dwarves – Whitley Bay Playhouse

The Most spectacular Christmas show

The Laugh Out Loud funniest play
1.    Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Darlington Civic Theatre

The Best amateur play:
They Shoot Horses Don’t They – Newcastle Peoples Theatre

The Best Adaptation award:
1.    Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour  Newcastle Live Theatre
2.    Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Sunderland Empire

The Best Spoken word performance:
3.    Mythical Creature – Edinburgh Electric Circus

…and finally

IMHO Best Show of 2015:
1.    Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour – Newcastle Live Theatre
2.    Curious Incident – Sunderland Empire
3.    Alice in Wonderland – South Shields Customs House

So that leaves a thank you to everyone that has helped us by reading, reviewing, performing, inviting and booking the shows.  Special mention goes to the very patient Joanne and our son Robert. He is only 12 and has literally sat through over a hundred shows.  For the record Robert’s top pick this year was Peter Pan Goes Wrong and Jo puts Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the top of her list.

Happy New Year!
Stephen Oliver
North East Theatre Guide

Studio 620, Bamburgh House
Market Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne


Preview: Jack and the Beanstalk at South Shields Customs House

Follow North East Theatre Guide on Twitter at on Facebook at

 New Customs House Panto is Set to be a big Success

Jack and the Beanstalk
South Shields Customs House
Tuesday 29th November 2016 to Saturday 7th January 2017

Fee Fi Fo Fum – I smell the success of another panto!

Jack in the Beanstalk will be next year’s pantomime at The Customs House – and it already looks like it will be a big hit.

Almost 3,000 pantomime fans have already snapped up tickets to see the show with almost half of all seats for Christmas Eve 2016 taken up.

Ray Spencer MBE
Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer MBE, who writes, directs and stars in the show, said: “We can't wait to bring Jack and the Beanstalk to life at The Customs House. It's not the first time we've done Jack so we’re excited to bring it back bigger and better than ever.   

Jack and the Beanstalk is a traditional pantomime and it’s clear to see people are eager to see what we’ll bring to this production – it's bound to continue to grow in its success.  We are known as the little panto with the big heart but next year we’ll be the little panto with the big Beanstalk!”

This year’s festive show, Alice in Wonderland, has already sold more than 24,000 tickets with more than a week left in the run.

Alice, which runs until January 9, was chosen to coincide with The Custom House building’s 150thanniversary and the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s much-loved book.

Ray added: “Alice has been such a success with both the critics and our audiences, we’re so pleased everyone has loved watching it as much as we’ve loved our time in Wonderland.  There are some tickets still available so make sure you get your tickets now and you’re not too late!”


Jack and the Beanstalk, sponsored by Hays Travel, is on from Tuesday 29th November 2016 to Saturday 7th January 2017. Tickets start from £9.75 and are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or by visiting

Preview: Ken Dodd Happiness Show at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Follow North East Theatre Guide on Twitter at and on Facebook at

The Ken Dodd Happiness Show
Whitley Bay Playhouse

Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th August 2016

The Ken Dodd Happiness Show will return to Whitley Bay on Saturday 13thand Sunday 14th August 2016The North East Theatre Guide reviewed the show in 2015 REVIEW LINK

Ken Dodd's incredible and hugely successful career as a professional entertainer spans over 60 fun-filled years.

He is a comedian of unrivalled legendary status; an icon and national treasure who has been entertaining audiences for a lifetime of happiness and laughter.

Come and enjoy his famous ‘Happiness Show’ and you’ll be absolutely discumknockerated (that’s Knotty Ash for ‘over the moon’) by a truly tattifelarius (fun-filled) evening of laughter and songs. 

Ken Dodd is a multi-award winning entertainer, so don't miss his fun-filled Happiness Show for all the family, with non-stop gags and a selection of songs presented in Ken's unique and varied style: everything from ballads to grand opera!

Tickets costing £21, £20 conc. are available now.

Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online at

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

News: Sunderland Empire launches Fusion

Sunderland Empire launches Fusion - a new Community Youth Theatre group for young people

Generations of performers have trod the boards at Sunderland Empire from Charlie Chaplin to the Beatles and the theatre is now offering young people a chance to take their place under the spotlight with Fusion,a new Community Youth Theatre group.
Fusion is for young people in the area looking for an opportunity to get involved in weekly performing arts based sessions at Sunderland Empire. Delivered by the theatres  in-house creative practitioners, Fusion aims to  encourage young people aged 11-16 to learn about all aspects of theatre through a range of inspiring sessions including acting, voice, movement, dance and improvisation.

Through working closely with the local community and theatre production companies Sunderland Empire’s in-house creative practitioners have established a strong reputation for innovative theatre projects which reach out to schools and community groups across the region.

Hollie Coxon, Creative LearningManager, Sunderland Empire said:  “We are very excited to launch this exciting new Community Youth Theatre group on site at the theatre. This is a great opportunity for young people to develop their performing skills and build confidence in the surroundings of our beautiful Edwardian theatre which continues to host an array of West End spectaculars on the regions doorstep.”

Fusion is a unique opportunity to be at the heart of the action and sessions start on Thursday 7 January 2016 and will continue to run every Thursday from 4.15pm-5:45pm at Sunderland Empire. Sessions are paid via Monthly payments of £26 per person (subject to availability and payments to be made in advance of sessions).

The Creative Learning team at Sunderland Empire are committed to longer term engagement in theatre and the arts to enable participants to discover new skills and experience the excitement of theatre-making.  This new Community Youth Theatre group complements the range of projects the team has set up over the years to enhance arts engagement across the region.

No previous experience required and applications can be collected direct from the box office on High Street West or by  calling 0191 5661056 or



Follow North East Theatre Guide on Twitter at on Facebook at


Newcastle Theatre Royal is delighted to announce that TV presenter and children’s favourite, Chris Jarvis, will host the Relaxed Performance of Dick Whittington on Tuesday 12th January 2016.

Chris Jarvis
Best known for his work as a presenter on CBeebies, Chris will join the cast at Newcastle Theatre Royal, for its first Relaxed Performance since it became the first theatre in the UK to be awarded the Autism Access Award (AAA) from the National Autistic Society.

The well-known TV personality will host the Relaxed Performance, which is specifically designed to welcome people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorder into the theatre.

Chris said: "I am thrilled to be returning to the most spectacular and hilarious of pantomimes for this year's relaxed performance of Dick Whittington. We all enjoy laughing and joining in at Panto, well now absolutely everyone is included thanks to the hard work and dedication of the team at Newcastle Theatre Royal.  The thought and care that goes into this unique performance ensures the audience feels safe and completely comfortable without destroying any of the magic - which this show has in abundance."

Photo: Keith Pattison
The relaxed performance is designed to provide an opportunity for people who would otherwise find it difficult to go to see a show – for example people who make involuntary noise, or are likely to need to talk a lot, or move around. During a regular performance this can disturb the other audience members, and the show, but at a relaxed performance it’s expected that the auditorium will be noisy and our staff are trained to support this.

Photo: Keith Pattison
The show will have a less formal, reassuring atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels. Lighting and special effects will be slightly altered – including removing strobes and flashing lights and reducing very loud noises, however the content of the show will not be specifically changed so all the magic of pantomime is maintained.

Photo: Keith Pattison
Chief Executive, Philip Bernays, said: “We are very proud that as an AAA accredited theatre, we will once again be flying the flag for Relaxed Performances. We are one of only a handful of theatres in the UK to offer these specially tailored performances and we are delighted that by doing so, we bring the best panto in the UK to hundreds of children, families and adults who might otherwise never experience its magic. We are dedicated to making our theatre as accessible as possible and have already started taking bookings for next year’s Relaxed Performance of Cinderella too!”

Read the North East Theatre Guide Review of Dick Whittington: Review LINK

Photo: Keith Pattison
Dick Whittington Relaxed Performance plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Tuesday 12th January 2016 at 12 noon. Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Group Bookings team on 08448 11 21 22 (all calls are charged at 7p a minute plus your phone company’s access charge, calls from mobiles may vary, please contact your operator for details) or select your own seat and book online at