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News: August Preview at Sunderland Empire

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 August Preview at Sunderland Empire

INALA (2nd August) 7.30pm

Following a phenomenal 2014 tour and sell-out run at the Edinburgh International Festival, four time Grammy© Award-winning South African choral legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo join multi award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin in this unique artistic collaboration. Featuring world-class current and former dancers from The Royal Ballet and Rambert, this critically acclaimed production embraces an exhilarating fusion of South African and Western cultures live on stage.

Inala's original score is composed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala and Ella Spira, blending the intricate rhythms and infectious harmonies of their native musical roots with live percussion, piano and strings. Mark Baldwin's choreography unites Zulu traditions with classical ballet and contemporary dance, performed by an exceptional company of 18 dancers and singers. Inala delivers a spiritually uplifting live experience.

The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time (11th -15th August)
Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) Photo: BrinkhoffM+Âgenberg

Winner of five 2015 Tony Awards and seven 2013 Olivier Awards, this highly-acclaimed National Theatre production has now embarked on its first ever nationwide tour.

Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain - exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears' dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world...

Based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a thrilling new stage play from the National Theatre.

Get ready for the ride of your life as the ultimate party, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical, returns to Sunderland starring Duncan James. Based on the movie, the feel-good West End & Broadway smash-hit Priscilla, is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of.

With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dance floor classics including It's Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I Love The Nightlife, rush to get your tickets today for this wildly fresh and funny hit musical that will take you on a journey to the heart of fabulous!


In person at the Box Office on
High Street West, Sunderland Empire

Ticket Centre: 0844 871 3022*

Groups 10+: 0844 871 3042


* Booking fee applies to telephone and online sales

Preview: Geordie the Musical at South Shields Customs House

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New Show Will Remember
Much-Loved Director

Geordie the Musical
South Shields Customs House
Friday 21st August to Saturday 5th September 2015

A new musical will be dedicated to a much-loved member of the theatre community.

Geordie the Musical was due to be directed by Jackie Fielding at The Customs House in South Shields this August, but following her sudden death earlier this year it will now be dedicated to her memory.

Jackie had worked closely with the creative team to shape the play. Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “Jackie was an immensely talented performer and director who made The Customs House her home. It is only right that this production is dedicated to a woman who is still an absolute inspiration to so many.”

Andy Bogle, the ex-pat who came up with the story behind the musical, added: “Jackie left an indelible mark on Geordie and her creative input serves as a fitting tribute to a life devoted to the The show, which features traditional Geordie song and is set during a time of change in the North East, will now be directed by Jamie Brown, who worked closely with Jackie on several projects and starred in her final show, The Man and the Donkey, in May.

Director Jamie Brown and
assistant director Viktoria Kay
at The Customs House
He said: “I will be forever thankful to have been entrusted as one of Jackie’s leading men over the past few years, including in her final production The Man and The Donkey. Her loss is still very raw to “How she’d feel about me directing ‘Geordie’ in her stead, I couldn’t possibly say – all I can say is that I’m honoured and privileged to be part of a project which, although it may be going ahead without her at the helm, will have her as the wind in its sails, and the fire in the belly of all those driving the project forwards. There is little doubt that our time together shaped me artistically and personally and I can’t think of anything that could stand me in better stead for the challenge ahead.”

His assistant director will be his fellow Man and the Donkey co-star Viktoria Kay. She added: “Being part of Geordie the Musical is a very special honour and a privilege for me. Geordie: The Musical highlights how precious the Geordie dialect is and how, through the art of song, it will forever be preserved. I had a huge emotional response when I read the script, I was full of pride, and I’m sure the audiences will feel the same. Jackie was always my champion and for that I will forever be in her debt. Helping to bring the project she started, Geordie The Musical to life, in all its glory, is a chance to repay just a smidgeon The fact that Geordie The Musical has been dedicated to Jackie will make her very happy, albeit secretly, as she was renown to hate any sort of fuss made of her!”

Mike Turnbull will be the musical director, lighting will be done by James Henshaw, set will be produced by Kate Urwin and the costumes have been created by Lou Duffy.

A memorial show will also be held in Jackie's honour on September 13. It will raise funds to help young budding actors go to drama school.

Geordie runs at South Shields Customs House from Friday 21st August to Saturday 5th September 2015.

Tickets for Geordie the Musical, from £10, are available from The Customs House box office on 0191 454 1234 or visit

Preview: Annie at Sunderland Empire

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Lesley Joseph To Star As ‘Miss Hannigan’ in Annie

Sunderland Empire
Monday 28 March – Saturday 2 April 2016

Michael Harrison and David Ian are delighted to announce a brand new production of the musical Annie starring Lesley Joseph as ‘Miss Hannigan’. Annie will play Sunderland Empire from Monday 28 March – Saturday 2 April 2016.

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan
with Annie and orphans.
Photo: Matt Crockett
Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search…

With its award-winning book and score, this stunning new production includes the unforgettable songs ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’ and ‘Tomorrow’.

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan
Photo: Matt Crockett
Lesley Joseph is best known for playing ‘Dorien Green’ in the hugely successful sitcom “Birds of a Feather” alongside Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson. They recorded over 100 episodes over a period of nine years. Lesley and her co-stars returned to our screens in “Birds of a Feather in 2013 with a second series airing earlier this year. Lesley’s theatre credits include ‘Miss Hannigan’ in Annie at the West End’s Victoria Palace and also on national tour. Her other touring credits include “Calendar Girls” and “Hot Flush!”. 

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan
with Annie and Sandy.
Photo: Matt Crockett
Annie will be directed by Nikolai Foster. Recently named as the new artistic director at Curve in Leicester; his most recent theatre credits include: “Calamity Jane”, “The Witches of Eastwick” and the 20th Anniversary production of Jonathan Harvey’s “Beautiful Thing” in the West End.

Annie has set and costume design by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Richard Brooker. Annie has Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin and a Book by Thomas Meehan. Annie is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

On The Web:

Tickets can be bought in person at the Box Office on High Street West
Box Office: 0844 871 3022*
Groups 10+: 0844 871 3042
*Booking fee applies

Preview: Ocean Film at Whitley Bay Playhouse

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The Wonders of the Ocean

Ocean Film Festival World Tour
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Friday 25th September 2015

The Whitley Bay Playhouse is delighted to announce that The Ocean Film Festival is returning this September, after wowing our audiences last year.

Brilliantly executed, the Ocean Film Festival showcases the world’s most amazing ocean films above and below the water’s surface - letting you immerse yourself in the wonders of the ocean without getting your feet wet!

Brought to you by the producers of the Banff Film Festival UK Tour, this extraordinary collection of short films document the beauty and power of the ocean, and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray; who chase the crests of waves; and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

Inspiring and thought-provoking, the Ocean Film Festival takes you on a journey across the globe showcasing the huge waves of Australia, diving with sharks off the coast of Africa and heading north to the far reaches of the Arctic Circle. Visit for more details.


Ocean Film Festival World Tour comes to Whitley Bay Playhouse on Friday 25th September 2015 at 7.30pm.
Tickets on sale now are priced at £12.50, £11 conc.
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


Preview: Stuff at Studio @ Bradford Playhouse

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 Studio @ Bradford Playhouse Wednesday 12th August 2015
Liverpool The Lantern Theatre Friday 14th August 2015
Camden The Etcetera Theatre Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rdAugust 2015

A story of life, death, family, friendship and all the stuff in-between. Toby & Jess are unable to conceive children. Or rather, Toby is unable to. One night, their charismatic friend – Xav – makes the unique suggestion that they use his frozen ‘stuff’ instead and become parents. Do they take him up on the offer?


“This is quite simply a thoughtful, perfect play that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.” – WO Magazine

“More euphemisms for sperm than I ever thought possible… Well worth seeing” - Remote Goat

After an award winning run at the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester in 2014, My Beating Heart Theatre is making its Yorkshire Debut with Stuff at Studio@, Bradford Playhouse on Wednesday 12th August as a part of a tour including performances at The Lowry – Salford, The Lantern Theatre – Liverpool & The Etcetera Theatre – Camden.

Joining the cast is actor Peter Ash who many will recognise from his recent performance in the War Horse tour and as Darius Fry in ITV’s “Footballer’s Wives”. The show is also joined by a new director – Alice Bartlett – a former resident director for The West Yorkshire Playhouse & Harrogate Theatre. Returning from the original cast are Eve Burley who has just returned from performing on Broadway in Anthony Burgess’ “One Hand Clapping” & Karl Greenwood, who won the UK Studio Theatre Award for Best male for his performance in Stuff and will be joining the UK Touring Production (Bill Kenwright) of “Blood Brothers” following the Stuff tour

“This is proving to be a very exciting time for MBH Theatre and Stuff. It’s great to have Eve & Karl back, and I really look forward giving audiences some new ‘stuff’ from Pete & Alice!” said Mick Cooper the writer of Stuff and founder of My Beating Heart Theatre.

“After the success of the show in Manchester and Salford, it only seemed right to take the show on tour and I was desperate to get us a performance in Yorkshire having grown up in Morley. It’ll be great to come home!”


Stuff by Mick Cooper

Studio@, The Bradford Playhouse - 4 Chapel Street, Bradford, BD1 5DL
Box Office: - phone 01274 800 416
Wednesday August 12th 19:30
Tickets £10
(Running time 60 mins. Contains some strong language. Ages 15+)


Review: American Idiot – the Musical at London Arts Theatre

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Have The Time Of Your Life

American Idiot – the Musical
London Arts Theatre
Extended until 22nd November 2015

Photo: Darren Bell
Green Day are one of the most popular bands of its type since they formed in 1986. They are popular enough to play 2 nights in Milton Keynes in front of 130 000.  Their music resonated with Generation X as they sought to make sense of the world. It was only going to be a matter of time before their music found its way into that latest stage trend: the jukebox musical.

Photo: Darren Bell
With a book by Green Day’s front man Billie Joe Armstrong and original director Michael Mayer, American Idiot is different to the usual jukebox musicals. With its dialogue often limited to stating the date, this show relies more heavily of the song’s lyrics to tell the story. There is no cut and shunting in order to get the story to fit the songs here. The overall fell is much more of a rock opera than a traditional musical. The single act without an interval increases that feel. The fact that it was won 5 awards of which one was for the cast recording shows that it is both popular and features a strong soundtrack.

Photo: Darren Bell
Set in Jingletown, USA, the show begins with news footage of 9/11 before kicking straight into the memorable hit American Idiot. The split level stage frequently features both a lead guitarist (Tommaso Varvello) and a bass player (Brock Eddows), which adds to the authenticity of the piece, as the ensemble dance and sing without missing a note. The story then follows the paths taken by 3 friends. Will (Steve Rushton) stays in Jingletown to look after his pregnant girlfriend Heather (Natasha J Barnes). Tunny (Alexis Gerred) and Johnny (Aaron Sidwell) decide to leave town in order to seek a new future. Tunny is quickly sucked in by a tv ad for the army and enlists. Johnny wonders the big city meeting up with a drug dealer known as St Jimmy and a girl called “Whatsername” (Amelia Lily).

Photo: Darren Bell
Though the soundtrack the lives of the three friends are explored. Thrown in with the explicit lyrics of the American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown albums, from which the soundtrack is generated, are hard drugs use, violence and sexually explicated scenes. This is not a show to take the more sensitive members of your family to.

Photo: Darren Bell
The outfits are frequently stunning. The point in which Extraordinary Girl’s (Raquel Jones) nurse outfit suddenly changes into a lit up angel was particularly impressive. Through Racky Plews direction the show flows well into a kinetically charged assault on the senses. Great dance sequences pepper throughout the show despite the heat in the intimate confines of the Arts Theatre. The band, under musical director Mark Crossland, are very tight and the drumming by Alex Marchisone can rival Tré Cool.

Photo: Darren Bell
The show will hit the right note for the fans of Green Day.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver  the North East Theatre Guide Preview from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview here: Preview Link

Photo: Darren Bell
On The Web:

Facebook:  American Idiot UK
Instagram:  ukamericanidiot


American Idiot – The Musical at Londons’s Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB
Performances:  Tuesday – Friday at 8.00pm
Saturday – 2.30pm & 8.00pm
Sunday – 3.00pm & 6.00pm

Photo: Darren Bell
Running time:   90 minutes (no interval)
Ticket Prices:  £15.00 – £65.00 (all seats £25.00 during previews)
Groups 20+    £25.00
Groups 10+    £32.50
Groups of 6   £35.00
* All group rates valid Tues – Fri & Sunday
Main Booking Line:                 020 78368463
Group Booking Line:               020 7836 8463
Access Booking Line:             020 7836 8463

Review: Sister Act at Newcastle Theatre Royal

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Sisters Take Newcastle To Heaven

Sister Act
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until 25th July 2015.

A glittering show comes to Newcastle following in the footsteps of the 1992 classic comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg.

The story begins in a nightclub as Deloris Van Cartier (Lauren Gordon) is trying to get a recording contract using a contact her boyfriend and club boss Curtis Shank (Leon Gill) knows. After he lets her down Curtis decides to smooth it over by giving Deloris a blue furry coat. Deloris is not too impressed when she spots Curtis’s wife’s name in the coat and so she heads off to give Curtis a piece of her mind.

Deloris stumbles over Curtis shooting a man and she quickly tries to escape. He sends 3 of his men TJ ( Ty Roach-Thompson), Pablo (Andy Ewart) and Joey (Dan Greener) to go after her. Meanwhile she takes refuge in a police station and trips over Sweaty Eddie (Simon Pinkney) – a cop who fancied her when they went to school together. He arranges for Deloris to hide in a convent until the trial.

It is in the convent when the fun begins. Mother Superior (Helen Cash) does not approve of Deloris but invites her to use her talents to sort out the tuneless choir. Deadpan Sister Mary Lazarus (Jojo Hatfield) hands over the choir and it is quickly apparent that Sister Mary Patrick (Sarah Wales) is loud and enthusiastic and others are badly out of tune. Novice Sister Mary Robert (Angela Lawery) on the other hand is very timid.

Add into the mix that Monsignor O’Hara passes on the news that the convent is likely to close down as antique dealers want the building and the stage is set for the music to weave its magic.

Following in the footsteps of such a well known film, the cast has to establish itself quickly into each role.  There are some big shoes to fill but the killer combination of great singing voices, comedy timing and creating likeable characters ensure that the cast are accepted. 

Lauren Gordon leads brilliantly on the Act 1 closing numbers ‘Raise your voice’ and ‘Take me to heaven’. Helen Cash is stunning during ‘Here within these walls’ and ‘I haven’t got a prayer’.

It is not just the ladies with great voices as Simon Pinkney and Leon Gill entertained with ‘ I could be that guy’ and ‘When I find my baby’ respectively. The large band under Musical Director Michael Lamb fills the theatre with a crisp sound. Sandra Laidler has done a fabulous job, not only in directing the slick production but also choreographing the increasingly complex routines.

It is a compliment to all involved that the show felt professional. The comedy was fun and light-hearted, the singing superb and the audience left feeling good.  What more could one want?

This review was written by Stephen Oliver  the North East Theatre Guide Preview from Jowheretogo PR ( ). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Cast includes:
Deloris Van Cartier (Lauren Gordon) Curtis Jackson (Leon Gill) Sweaty Eddie (Simon Pinkney)
Mother Superior (Helen Cash)  Monsignor O’Hara (Noel Harris)
Sister Mary Patrick (Sarah Wales) Sister Mary Robert (Angela Lawery) Sister Mary Lazarus (Jo Jo Hatfield)
Joey (Dan Greener) TJ (Ty Roach Thompson) Pablo (Andy Ewart)
Shania (Judy Mahoney)  Letitia (Victoria McPherson)  Cindie (Megan Laidler) Cheree (Caroline Bommel) Chanel (Mel Carss)  Shelley  (Zoe Payne)
Sister Mary Martin De Tours (Clare Blake) Sister Mary Theresa (Tricia Tait)


Sister Act runs from  Tuesday 21st July until Saturday 25th July at 7pm with matinee performances at 2pm on Thursday 23rd, Friday 24thand Saturday 25th July.
Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (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 book online at