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Preview: Peppa Pig’s Surprise at Darlington Civic Theatre

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Peppa Pig’s Surprise
DarlingtonCivic Theatre
Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February 2016.

Peppa Pig and friends return to Darlington Civic Theatre on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7thFebruary.

Surprise! Peppa Pig, George and their friends are back in Darlington in a brand new live stage show, Peppa Pig’s Surprise.

It’s a lovely day and Peppa is playing outside with her friends. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig have got a surprise for her and George – they can’t guess what it is, can you?

Enjoy fun, games and of course, surprises in this charming, colourful new show with new songs and new life size puppets, Peppa Pig’s Surprise promises to be the perfect theatre show for all pre-schoolers!

‘A rollicking, all singing, dancing interactive adventure.’ -Daily Telegraph

Peppa Pig’s Surprise is at Darlington Civic Theatre on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February at 10am, 1pm & 4pm. Tickets are priced Adults £16 & £14, Children £14 & £12. Family ticket £56

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


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The Touring Consortium Theatre Company are on the look out for a dog to appear at Darlington Civic Theatre in Of Mice And Men from Tuesday 15thto Saturday 19th March.

A Border Collie named Badger was due to tour with the cast of the John Steinbeck classic play Of Mice And Men. Sadly, Badger passed away from old age before rehearsals began, and the producers are now seeking an elderly dog to appear in each venue on the tour.

Most breeds and sizes will be considered, but he or she should ideally look relatively elderly and have the appearance of a ‘working’ dog, and must have a calm temperament. The dog will be on stage for around 5 minutes in total, alongside Dudley Sutton, playing ‘Candy’ and on a lead at all times. No previous acting experience needed.

The successful dog and owner will be required 6pm to 9pm on Tuesday, 7pm to 9pm Wednesday to Saturday and 2pm to 3.30pm for the Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Expenses of up to £300 per week will be paid.

Interested parties should apply immediately to Janice Taylor via email: or telephone 0844 5880 848.

Of Mice And Men is the story of two migrant farm workers held together by a mutual dependence, a deep affection and an undying loyalty. The pair go in search of a new beginning in the hope of attaining their shared dream: of putting together enough money to buy a small piece of land and building a home. No strangers to trouble, George and Lennie soon find themselves reeling from the fallout of an innocent misunderstanding which spirals out of control and leaves the two men, bound together by friendship, facing an earth-shattering climax. A story, raw in speech and action, full of heart and unflinching realism, it remains one of the most poignant statements of being human our contemporary theatre has produced.

Of Mice And Men is at Darlington Civic Theatre from Tuesday 15 to Saturday 19 March.

Tickets* £17.40 to £27, discounts available. Thursday and Saturday matinees all seats £18.50. Family ticket Saturday 2.30pm £44. Under 16s and schools all seats £11 plus 1 free with every 10 booked.

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

*All prices include a £1 restoration levy

Live Lab Elevator at Newcastle Live Theatre

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Celebrate the best new theatre from the North East and beyond in an unmissable weeklong event at Newcastle’s Live Theatre
Live Lab Elevator
Newcastle Live Theatre
Tuesday 9th - Saturday 13th February 2016

From Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th Februarycelebrate the best new theatre from the North East and beyond with Live Lab Elevator an unmissable weeklong event at Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

Specially curated to bring you the most exciting voices from the theatre world, four original productions are put alongside a host of events including workshops, discussions and the 2016 Live Lab Launch Party.

As Live Theatre’s Creative Producer Graeme Thompson explains: “This new Live Lab event is an opportunity to platform new theatre and engage with artists on a much larger scale then we have before. As part of Elevator we are presenting four outstanding must see productions alongside discussions and workshops hosted by leading UK industry professionals. We hope this will become an annual destination event shining a light on the fantastic work being created within this region and beyond.”

On Wednesday 10th and Friday 12th February a Double Bill of plays will be presented in Live Theatre’s Main Theatre. The Double Bill includes the return of Live Lab’s 2015 sell out show Red is the New Bluecreated by Live Lab Associate Artists Rowan McCabe, Matt Millerand Matilda Neill.

Set in 2029 Red is the New Blue follows the antics of three ordinary people who are sent to Mars for a reality TV show like no other. Alone and abandoned in space it doesn’t take long before the cracks begin to show as the crew become more isolated than anyone ever has before. This revised version of the show includes new film, music, spoken word and a bold new set created by local set designer Luke W. Robson.
The Double Bill also features a heart-achingly funny one woman show by Jenny Lee about the inescapable role technology plays in our lives called Heartbeats and Algorithms. This timely show was a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and explores the seductive and inescapable world of information and the impact computers have on people’s lives. Jenny is also currently a member of Live Theatre’s online playwriting course

On Thursday 11 February a Work-In-Progress Double Bill of fanSHEN’s new show Lists for the End of the World and Amy Golding’s latest show preggers will be presented in Live Theatre’s Main Theatre.

Remade for each location List for the End of the World explores what lives look like when they are broken down into lists. Using material contributed by people who live locally, Lists... is a show in which the ordinary and the extraordinary, the profound and the ridiculous sit playfully side by side. fanSHEN were the winners of the Live Lab and The Empty Space Bursary in 2015.

As fanSHEN’s Creative Director Rachel Briscoe explains: “Lists for the End of the World will be a show entirely made up of anonymously sourced lists, offering audiences a sideways perspective on how we choose to live and what’s important. Within it (we hope!) the ordinary and the extraordinary, the profound and the ridiculous will sit playfully side by side. We’re remaking the show for each new location using material contributed by people who live locally… so we’re making a bespoke version for Live Lab Elevator with lists that we’ll source in Newcastle.”
On the same evening as Lists... a work-in-progress of Amy Golding’slatest show preggers will be presented. Written and performed by Amy, and directed by Laura Lindow and Rachel Glover, preggers is about what it means to become a mother now and what it meant for women of previous generations. Playful and political, the show explores the central and universal themes of motherhood and family.
In addition to the double bills there are a whole host of additional events and workshops curated as part of Live Lab Elevator. fanSHEN are kicking things off on Tuesday 9 February at 2pm with a Devised Theatre Workshopin which they will explore the different processes of creating devised theatre with participants. The workshop is free and is suitable for budding theatre makers and professionals (14+).
Also on Tuesday 9 February is a free Playwriting in the North panel discussion, hosted by Live Theatre’s Literary Manager Gez Casey, in the Main Theatre at 7.30pm. Participants will join a panel of industry professional from across the North as they discuss the opportunities for writers in the North and the best way for playwrights to get their work recognised. The panel includes Laura Lomas (who is currently the Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at Clean Break Theatre Company), playwright and Game of Thrones actor Luke Barnes (who wrote Beats North in 2013 for Newcastle based theatre company Curious Monkey), Alex Chisholm (Co-Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford and former Literary Manager at West Yorkshire Playhouse) and writer, director and dramaturg Janys Chambers (Literary Associate at Bolton Octagon).
From 1pm on Saturday 13 February two of the UK’s leading theatre directors, Rachel O’Riorden (Artistic Director of the Sherman Theatre) and Joe Murphy(who directed Live Theatre’s 2014 production of Incognito and who is the Artistic Director of nabokov), present a Director’s Masterclass for budding theatre directors. In this session participants will explore how a director works with text, forms ideas and translates those concepts onto the stage. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn the secrets of bringing new plays to life. Rachel and Joe will be joined later by Live Theatre’s Artistic Director Max Roberts in a question and answer session about their work processes.

To celebrate Live Lab Elevator and the 2016 Live Lab programme the week will culminate with the Live Lab 2016 Launch Party on Saturday 13 February at 7.30pm. The event will include bite-sized performances and the announcement of the next Live Lab Associate Artists. Plus, details about the Live Lab 2016 Bursary will be shared. It will be a chance for writers, theatre makers and audiences to informally share ideas about Live Lab and theatre in the North East. It will be followed by a lively party in Live Theatre’s Atrium Bar and Undercroft. Be the first to see this brand new work and be part of the conversation that shapes its future.

Tickets for Live Lab Elevator cost £10 - £8 full price or £10-£6 for concessions. To book tickets and to find out more visit or contact Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232

Preview: Tadpoles at Washington Arts Centre

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Is it a bird, is it a plane? No! It’s M6’s Theatre Company’s ‘super’ new show, Tadpoles!

Washington Arts Centre
Saturday 13th February 2016

On Saturday 13thFebruary M6 Theatre Company’s exciting new production Tadpoles, zooms into Arts Centre Washington to delight children aged 5+ and their families, as part of a national tour.

This highly visual and energetic play about rivalry, strengths, and weaknesses centres around two super heroes with a BIG problem – a very disgruntled Mission Control (voiced by Sue Johnston OBE – Downton Abbey, The Royle Family). Captain Clever (Luke Walker) is good at code breaking and problem solving, whilst Captain Conker (Emily Spowage) is super-fast and not scared of anything - except, perhaps spelling… 

A tadpole catching competition challenges the dynamic duo to harness their strengths and overcome their differences. Working as team, will there be enough time for them to save the world…together?

M6's Artistic Director, Gilly Baskeyfield who created the story for children aged 5+, said;  "Tadpoles is an original M6 piece that awakens the inner superhero in all of us, and explores the ways in which working together can make a big difference.  It’s wonderful to see how mesmerised children are when watching the show – especially the excitement around whether the tadpoles the superheroes reveal on stage are real! It has been a real privilege to work with our patron Sue Johnston OBE on this project. Sue has such a long running history with us at M6, having acted in productions during the 1970’s and 1980’s and remained a constant supporter of our company and its work.”

The play is underscored with original music written by Tayo Akinbode and features a superb set by M6’s resident Designer and Production Manager, Joss Matzen. 

M6 Theatre Company, founded in 1977 and based in Rochdale, is acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading touring theatre companies specialising in creating and delivering high quality theatre for young audiences.

Tadpoles is suitable for audiences aged 5 and over and will be performed at Arts Centre Washington on Saturday 13 February at 11am + 2pm

Tickets cost £6.50 / £22 (family, admits 4) and are available from or by calling 0191 219 3455

Preview: Tortoise & the Hare at Durham Gala Theatre

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Tortoise & the Hare race into Gala for new children’s show

Tortoise & the Hare
Durham Gala Theatre
Wednesday 3rd February 2016

Northern Ballet is returning to Durham’s Gala Theatre with an adaptation of one of Aesop’s most famous fables.

Following the sell-out successes of Ugly Duckling, Three Little Pigs and Elves & the Shoemaker, the company is set to perform the latest in their award-winning children’s ballets, Tortoise & the Hare.

Daniel de Andrade, Northern Ballet’s artistic director of the Short Ballets for Small People series, said: “These ballets are classic tales beautifully retold through dance and are the perfect introduction to ballet for children and young families. I am thrilled at how this latest production will bring the magic of ballet to many. It will provide a wonderful opportunity for children and their families to enjoy live performances designed especially for them and will hopefully inspire a new-found love for dance, music and theatre.”

The new show, which is a re-imagining of the much-loved tale of a Tortoise who, tired of being teased for his slowness, challenges a speedy Hare to a race, has been choreographed by the duo who created Ugly Duckling in 2012, dancers Dreda Blow and Sebastian Loe.

It also includes an original score composed by Bruno Merz, set designs by Ali Allen and live music performed by members of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

The 40 minute production – which was praised as “delightfully performed and expertly staged” by The Stage magazine - will be performed in Durham on Wednesday 3 February at at 2.00pm, 4.00pm and 6.00pm.

Tickets cost £5 per child and £6 per adult. To book call Gala’s box office on 03000 266 600 or visit

Preview: Opera North at Newcastle Theatre Royal

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Opera North
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 2nd – Saturday 5th March 2016.

Award winning company Opera North are back at Newcastle Theatre Royal in March with a trio of continental masterpieces: Mozart’s playful Cosi fan tutte, Donizetti’s sunny L’Elisir D’Amoreand Giordano’s passionate Andrea Chenier. Let your senses be stirred.

Giordano’s Andrea Chénier (Saturday 5thMarch) is presented by Opera North for the first time. Taking the life of the French poet André Chénier as its inspiration, the opera explores love and the individual at the time of the French Revolution before charting the rapid descent of hope and optimism into the Terror. Combining a dramatic storyline with compelling music, this new production looks set to become an unforgettable addition to the Company’s repertoire.

Also written at the time of the French Revolution, but with a very different focus, is Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Wednesday 2nd and Friday 4thMarch). The production captivated audiences at the Theatre Royal back in 2009 and recently wowed at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in New York. It is once again set to intrigue people with its thoughtful exploration of fidelity, deception, human motivation and the dangers of desire. It all begins innocently enough when Don Alfonso comes up with a wager: that the fiancées of two young men are far more likely to succumb to another’s amorous advances than they might choose to believe. The ensuing, often disconcerting, consequences are accompanied by some of the most beautiful music Mozart ever wrote.  A vibrant young cast includes Dublin-born soprano Máire Flavin, who represented Ireland at the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, making her Opera North debut as Fiordiligi.

A more light-hearted approach to the twists and turns of love is found in a sun drenched 1950s-style production of Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore (Thursday 3rd March ‘16). Having enjoyed critical acclaim at Spain’s Ópera de Oviedo, it returns to England to charm audiences in the North with its playful tale of the ineffectual but good-hearted Nemorino and his quest to win the hand of the very self-assured Adina. Can Dr Dulcamara’s ‘love potion’ really solve all his problems?

Complete with hot-air balloon and Vespas, this stylish production is a perfect fit for Donizetti’s irrepressibly fresh comedy. Funny and moving, the opera includes one of the best-loved of all tenor arias in Nemorino’s ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ (A furtive tear).

The Spring Opera North season appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Wednesday 2nd March until Saturday 5th March 2016, playing evenings at 7.30pm (L’elisir d’amore and Andrea Chenier) and 7pm (Così fan tutte). Tickets from £18.50 (Great offers available for under 18s and school groups). Tickets can be purchased online at from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge)

Preview: Nutcraker & Carmen at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

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Russian State Ballet & Opera House presents
Carmen - Saturday 1st October 2016
The Nutracker Tuesday 15th November 2016
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

The Tyne Theatre & Opera House have announced the addition of two stunning performances from Russian State Ballet & Opera House to our Winter 2016 programme.

After the huge success of Rigoletto (North East Theatre Guide review link) and Swan Lake here in 2015, and with Madam Butterfly still to come in Spring 2016, the Tyne Theatre & Opera House will welcome back the inimitable Russian State Ballet & Opera House to their stage for the powerful opera Carmen and beloved Christmas classic The Nutcracker.

Both productions will feature an impressive cast and are accompanied by a large live Orchestra with over 30 musicians.

Carmen tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by Carmen, a seductive, free-spirited femme fatale. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo. Love, treachery, passion and betrayal, Carmen has it all.

The music of Carmen has been widely acclaimed for its brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere and orchestration, and for the skill with which Bizet represented, musically, the emotions and suffering of his characters. The "Toreador Song" is among the best known of all operatic arias.

If you’ve never tried opera before, you will love this full orchestra experience with fantastic colourful costumes, exquisite singing and those wonderful tunes that the audience will still be humming to themselves on their way home, making this a must see opera production for everyone.

“Russian State Opera enjoyed a well-deserved standing ovation”  Daily Post

Christmas then comes early to Tyne Theatre & Opera House with the beautiful festive fairy-tale, The Nutcracker on Tuesday 15th November 2016.

When midnight strikes, the world turns all magical in the wintry glitter of Christmas Eve. Toys come alive, the Mouse-King and his mouse-army battle with the Nutcracker Prince and we travel through the Land of Snow to an enchanted place where the magic really begins.

Snow flurries, sweets, princes, magic, love, victories and defeats, and Tchaikovsky’s rousing score, are just some of the ingredients that will be brought together by the renowned Russian company.

The Nutcracker continues to capture the hearts and imagination of generations of theatre-goers, and is a wonderful introduction to ballet for anyone who has never experienced it and still so special to anyone who has.

A superb performance which lived up to the mystery of the charming Russian classic’ The Argus

CARMEN: £25 - £31.50. Concessions available. Groups buy 10 get 1 free.
THE NUTCRACKER: Adults £30, Children £22, Concessions & limited view £28. Groups buy 10 get 1 free.  (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)
The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
More information at our Website: