See Tickets


Preview: Dance Across the Tyne at South Shields Customs House

Family is at the Heart of New Nostalgic Show

Dance Across the Tyne
South Shields Customs House
Tuesday March 1st  to Saturday March 5th 2016

It’s a real family affair on the set of a new musical drama.

Dance Across the Tyne comes to The Customs House in South Shields this week and follows hot on the heels of last year’s community production and box office triumph Dance to Your Daddy.

Panto regular Natasha Haws will return to the stage following her successful turn as Alice in Alice in Wonderland and will join mum Patricia for the first time to play mother and daughter Jenny and Maria.

Natasha, who is used to performing alongside her dad in the annual panto, said: “Working with my mam has been a huge learning curve, trying to create a new mother-daughter relationship as characters rather than our natural relationship has taken a lot of work but I think we've created a very loving believable family.

“Thankfully we've never had such high emotion scenes in real life so shouting at my mother's been odd!”

Patricia, a mum-of-four and member of popular cabaret group Encore, added: “To be playing mother and daughter on stage with my eldest daughter Natasha I'm finding a wonderful experience and I feel so privileged that this show has given us the opportunity to perform together for the very first time.

“It all just feels so very natural and comfortable that I sincerely hope that we may get the opportunity to repeat it at some later stage. It’s been a lovely experience and to sum it all up, I'm one proud Mama “

The show starts in 1959 when a boatload of Venezuelan sailors land in South Shields. Their impact is dramatic, and involves fights, hospitals, babies, memories, and a mystery that will affect one family for decades.

It’s a powerful story with a variety of brand new songs to follow up Dance to Your Daddy, which won the prestigious Performance Award from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association in 2014.

David Cooke and Grahame Wright, the team that brought Dance to your Daddy to the venue’s stage last March, have got together to bring this year’s community production to the stage.

Director and writer David Cooke is also working with his wife Carol and granddaughter Grace.

He said: “When members of the cast are close family members it’s even more special.

“My wife Carol and granddaughter Grace have delighted me with their enthusiasm and dedication.  It’s been a thrill to work with them and to have made this a family event.”

Carol added: “It’s great being in a play with Gracie, because I see more of her than usual. It’s a real family affair and as the play was written and directed by David, if you’re not sure how a character should be played you can ask him on the way home.  There is a down side to this, as we tend to take production problems home with us too!”

Grace said: “It’s been excellent working alongside my grandma and being directed by my granddad, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”

Dance Across the Tyne will run at the venue from Tuesday March 1ST  to Saturday March 5TH. Tickets are £10 or £8 concession and are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or by visiting


Review: Death At Dawn at Newcastle Discovery Museum

Powerful Tribute To Jackie Fielding

Death At Dawn
Newcastle Discovery Museum
Until Wednesday 2nd March 2016

Death at Dawn is a powerful production that is taking place in the beautiful surroundings of the Great Hall at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. The glamorous surroundings are in stark contrast to the gritty reality facing the young people in 1914 as the First World War breaks out.

The story follows a North Shields lad, William Hunter (Stephen Gregory), who initially rejects the pressure to enlist and he decides to join the merchant navy. This means leaving the girl who loves him behind but he wants to explore. This leads him to arrive in Montreal and to get involved with the wife of a bar owner who sends the heavy mob around to sort him out. William decides to avoid the beating by jumping ship and heading to Liverpool. He meets some local lads and before he knows it the ladies man is attracted to a third girl. He is persuaded to enlist and so he joins a Lancashire Regiment but that doesn’t stop his head turning when faced with the local French girls.

Peter Mortimer’s tale then follows Hunter through France as he, like everyone else, tries to survive. This is no Blackadder moment and the harsh truths of life in the trenches are presented to the audience.  The action focuses on the platoon’s sergeant (Pip Chamberlin), a budding poet Private Stevens (Jamie Brown), someone who thinks he is off for an adventure, Smiley (Dean Logan) and a lad who cannot wait to kill, Private White (Dylan Mortimer).  Whilst they met in Liverpool they have little in common and don’t really see eye to eye on many values.

Director Neil Armstrong admits in the programme notes that, in tribute to the great late Jackie Fielding who directed the original 2014 production, that he did not want to change the staging of the Peter Mortimer play. Certainly, the “if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it” approach seems to have worked. The action taken place in the round, with the audience on all four sides, and the cast approaching the performance space from each corner. The play had great pace and action helped the time fly by. 

Stephen Gregory had a very engaging performance as the central character William Hunter. A confident young man who doesn’t suffer fools is presented without going over the top.

The other main roles had time to develop but there is no overloading of tedious exposition.  Whereas some WW1 production make out everyone was friendly and on the same side, this show points of the painful truth that you didn’t choose who you ended up fighting alongside with. Jamie Brown’s poet was refreshing as the character had inner strength rather being portrayed as a flaky character. Pip Chamberlin’s Sergeant and Dylan Mortimer’s Private White come across as hard men in a hard war but are more than just 2 dimensional thugs. Smiley is someone that you can care for thanks to Dean Logan’s performance.

The show has a fairly large cast with support from Alex Broadbent, Kyle Morley and Robert Wilson Baker supplementing the platoon. James Gebbie appears as Captain Barrett, who has the tricky job of representing Hunter in his Court Marshall. Completing the line up are powerful performances from Dianne Legg as Hunter’s Mother and Heather Carroll as the various ladies in Hunter’s life. Heather did well with a number of different accents as Hunter travelled around the globe finding new ladies to hook up with.

The only minor grumble about the production was the lack of refreshments in the interval.

The well directed, fast paced drama is a powerful tribute to both the late director Jackie Fielding and the generation that gave up so much in order to defend us in a cruel war.

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

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview at

Cast & Creatives:

Written by Peter Mortimer. 
Directed by Neil Armstrong

Private William Hunter: Stephen Gregory
Private Harry Stevens: Jamie Brown
Private Len Smiley: Dean Logan
Private Jack White: Dylan Mortimer
Platoon Sergeant: Pip Chamberlin
Bella/Claudette/Juliette: Heather Carroll
Margaret, Hunters mother: Diane Legg
Supporting Cast: Alex Broadbent, James Gebbie, Kyle Morley, Robert Wilson Baker.

Friday 26th February – Wednesday 2nd March , The Discovery Museum, Blandford Sq Newcastle NE1 4JA, 7.30pm plus Sat matinee 2.30pm.

All ticket £10/£8. Available via: or call: 0191 259 2743

Preview: Sweeney Todd at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Bloodcurdling musical set to thrill audiences at Tyne Theatre & Opera House!

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Wednesday 2nd March to Saturday 5th March 2016

The curtain is set to rise on an exciting production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street next month at Tyne Theatre & Opera House.

Stephen Sondheim’s magnificently dark musical, based on a mass murdering barber thirsty for revenge, is set to be presented by Friends of Tyne Theatre & Opera House as a fundraiser for the Tyne Theatre & Opera House Preservation Trust.

Rehearsal Photo
Proceeds from the production will contribute towards the restoration of the unique Grade 1 listed Victorian opera house on Westgate Road, Newcastle.

The production has attracted talented cast members from across the region and even internationally; one of the stars of the show, Mia Bazzoui – who plays Todd’s partner in crime Mrs Lovett, lives in Dubai but is currently studying International Relations at Durham University.

Mia, who intends to train as an actress following her degree, said: “I’m extremely excited for Sweeney Todd especially playing Mrs Lovett – having seen Imelda Staunton playing the role six times in London”.

Rehearsal Photo
The title role of Sweeney Todd is played by 22-year-old Thomas Potts from Sunderland. Thomas loves the show, has been involved with theatre since he was young and is currently completing a Masters Degree in Theatre Performance at Northumbria University.

Will Lockey from Tyne Valleyis playing the role of Tobias. Will is keen to train as an actor and sees this role as a challenge both musically and dramatically, putting him in great stead for a future in the industry. 

The roles of Johanna and Anthony are played by 17-year-old Emily Miller from Durham, who is currently auditioning for drama courses, and 23-year-old Michael Grant – a trained actor and singer who has performed in Russiaand the USA.

The show is directed by Lynne Wilmot, a professional actress from Newcastle whose career credits include two national tours of Les Miserables, the Les Miserables movie, original cast of Jerry Springer the Opera, Beauty and the Beast (Disney), The Huntsman(Universal) and National Theatre. Lynne also appeared as a girl in the amateur premier of Sweeney Todd at the Tyne Theatre in 1983.

The production’s principals are supported by a large young and talented ensemble and a large amateur orchestra playing the original full orchestration.

The tile sponsor for the show is Parkdean, the Newcastle-based holiday park operator that recently merged with Park Resorts to create Parkdean Resorts, who also sponsored TheFriends’ first and very successful production – The Pirates of Penzance, in September 2015. Read the full North East Theatre Guide review of Pirates of Penzance here:.

The director of finance for Parkdean Resorts, Mike Wilmot is also a Trustee for the Tyne Theatre & Opera House Preservation Trust.

Mike said: “This is an extremely important project for us as we are getting people in to enjoy our historic theatre whilst raising vital funds to protect and preserve this beautiful building for future generations”.

Sweeney Todd is being performed on the evenings of Wednesday 2ndMarch to Saturday 5th March 2016at 7.15pm. Tickets are available at www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.ukor 0844 249 1000 and priced £13 for adults and £10 for concessions.

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:


Preview: Sunny Afternoon at Sunderland Empire


Sunny Afternoon
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 October 2016

As the West Endmulti Olivier award-winning hit musical continues to excite audiences into its second year, Sonia Friedman Productions and Ambassador Theatre Group are delighted to announce the national tour of Sunny Afternoon. Recipient of four awards at the 2015 Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Outstanding Achievement in Music for Ray Davies, Sunny Afternoon will open at the Manchester before heading to Sunderland in October 2016. More details of the tour can be found from the musical’s website:
Featuring some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs, including You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset and Lola, Sunny Afternoon tells the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks.  

The Kinks exploded onto the 60s music scene with a raw energetic new sound that rocked a nation. But how did that happen, where exactly did they come from and what happened next?
Set against the back-drop of a Britain caught mid-swing between the conservative 50s and riotous 60s, this production explores the euphoric highs and agonising lows of one of Britain’s most iconic bands and the irresistible music that influenced generations.

Following a sell-out run at Hampstead Theatre, Sunny Afternoon opened to critical acclaim at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End in October 2014 and is currently booking into a second triumphant year.

Sunny Afternoon has music and lyrics by Ray Davies with a book by Joe Penhall and original story by Ray Davies. It is directed by Edward Hall, designed by Miriam Buether with choreography by Adam Cooper. Lighting design is by Rick Fisher with sound design by Matt McKenzie for Autograph. The Musical Supervisor is Elliott Ware.


Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at*
*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings

Preview: Pied Piper at Whitley Bay Playhouse

The Pied Piper

Whitley Bay Playhouse

Thursday 4th – Saturday 6th August 2016

After the success of ‘Peter Pan’ in 2015, ABD Productions return to the PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay with ‘The Pied Piper’ from Thursday 4th – Saturday 6th

A thrilling adventure enhanced by a truly magical musical score, ‘The Pied Piper’ is a timeless classic, appealing to all ages.

Hold onto your seats as Mistress Spellbind takes you on a magical journey to Hamelin, a rich town suddenly overrun with rats, led by the scheming Marshall Moulder & his sidekick, Corporal Canker.

All seems lost but Peter, the Pied Piper, arrives to rid the town of its rats.

The greedy and untrustworthy Mayor Trinkelmann and Townsfolk promise a rich reward but refuse to pay up when the job is done.

Hamelin children, horrified at their parents’ broken promise and accompanied by Trudi and Peter, leave home, refusing to return until Peter has been paid.

A violent storm occurs. Peter and Trudi are separated from the children who run ahead to shelter in a mountain cavern, only to be trapped inside when the entrance mysteriously closes.

Mistress Spellbind explains the Legend of the Locked Mountain and the terms of the hazardous Quest to break its powerful hold.

Together, Peter and Trudi embark on a spectacular journey to free the children.

What breathtaking adventures lie in store?

Will they survive each death-defying trial?

Will they unlock the mountain’s grip?

Will the children be saved?

Will everyone live happily ever after?


The Pied Piper appears on the Thursday 4th – Saturday 6th August 2016 at 1:30 & 6:30 pm

Tickets are available now and are priced at £14, £12 conc.

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.