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Preview: Jackie The Musical at Sunderland Empire

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Jackie The Musical
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 5th - Saturday 9th July 2016

Written by Mike James, with choreography by Arlene Phillips and directed by Anna Linstrum, Jackie The Musical will play at the Sunderland Empire from 5-9 July 2016, as part of a nationwide tour. 

Supported by Jackie publishers DC Thomson, former magazine Editor Nina Myskow joins the production as Editor-in-Chief, and will head up a brand new digital/online TV channel Jackie TV. 

Once there was a time with no mobile phones, no apps, no texting, no e-mails and no twitter.  Angst ridden teenage girls waited with bated breath by the letterbox for their weekly issue of Jackie Magazine... unless their big sister got there first!  Jackie accompanied millions of girls through their teenage years in the ‘70’s and 80’s, years of boy trouble, ironing hair and problem solving from resident agony aunts, Cathy and Claire. The magazine supported and inspired those girls and, best of all, it was great fun.

Jackie The Musical revisits those heady days, and tells the story of a fifty-something divorcée who revisits her stash of well-thumbed Jackie magazines for the same reason she first read them nearly forty years ago: advice on how best to navigate the opposite sex.  The quizzes, the fashion tips, the ‘do’s and don’ts on a first date’ and above all the Cathy and Claire problem pages are all devoured eagerly by our plucky heroine ‘Jackie’  as she revisits the dizzy world of the teen bible.  With her ex and a handsome new guy both on the scene, the valuable lessons she learnt as a girl begin to influence her future and Jackie discovers the one person in control of her life is - her.

Funny and feisty, with a sound track featuring the era’s most beloved and memorable hits, including the sounds of Pop Idols Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Marc Bolan played live on stage, the show promises a whirlwind tour of Planet Seventies and a most fabulous night out!

Janet Dibley as 'Jackie' Photo: Eric Richmond
Janet Dibley plays Jackie.  Janet became a household name in the 1980s, co-starring with Nicholas Lyndhurst in ITV’s primetime The Two of Us, playing ‘Elaine Walker’ for all four series. She went on to star as ‘Lorna Cartwright’ in Eastenders, Carol McGarry in four series of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends, ‘Deborah Johnson’ in The Chase and most recently as ‘Chaz Moore’, in Broadchurch.  Janet joined the cast of the BBC soap Doctorsin 2010 as series regular ‘Dr Elaine Cassidy’ a role she played for over two years, and which also saw her writing for the show.  Her theatre roles include the 2014 tour of Kindertransport,Absent Friends and Could Be Any One of Us at Scarborough, ‘Sarah’ in Richard Eyre’s National Theatre Production of Guys and Dolls and ‘Julie Jordan’ in Stephen Pimlott’s Carouselat the Manchester Royal Exchange.

Photo: Eric Richmond
Graham Bickley plays ‘John’ and Nicholas Bailey plays Max.   Graham Bickley became a household name playing ‘Joey Boswell’ in Carla Lane’s much loved BBC TV series Bread.  He has starred in a host of hit West End musicals, including Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard and Ragtime, for which received an Olivier Award nomination.  He regularly appears with the BBC Concert Orchestra and in concert halls across the country.  Best known for his role as ‘Anthony Trueman’ in EastEnders, Nicholas Bailey was most recently seen on stage in the critically acclaimed production The Invisible at the Bush Theatre, London.   Other television work includes Siblings and Doctors, whilst past credits include Anubis House, Miranda and Law & Order: UK

Nina Myskow says: "I'm so proud to have been editor of Jackie in its golden years in the 70's. It always was a girl's best friend, but I could never have imagined then that its spirit of fun and warmth would live on to become a musical today. It's such a brilliant idea, and I'm absolutely thrilled that I'm going to be involved, all over again. How exciting! And I can't wait to see it, to hear the music, and to be transported back to a time when we were all young, and not just young at heart."

Jackie The Musical was commissioned by the Gardyne Theatre in Dundee, spiritual home and location of the Jackie editorial offices, where the show premiered to critical and public acclaim in Autumn 2013.  The 2016 UK tour is produced by The Gardyne Theatre, Arden Entertainment and Sally Wood, supported by DC Thomson.

ABOUT JACKIE MAGAZINE: If you didn’t know the actual facts, you’d be forgiven for thinking Jackie was created by a pop music guru or a supertrendy fashionista, but nothing could be further from the truth. The magazine was the brainchild of Gordon Small, a former RAF aero engine fitter who was far from being an aficionado of the music industry or an expert in style. Gordon was the magazine’s founder and first editor. Along with a creative team, he produced Jackie, an exciting new magazine “for go-ahead teens” which went on to be the best-selling teenage title for 10 years. Back then girls didn’t have iPads, laptops or mobiles. There was no telly in their bedroom. The family TV was more than likely rented and there was a choice of just three channels – a far cry from today’s world of multichannel TV that’s accessible 24/7.

As for keeping up with pop music and the charts, teenagers listened to the hits on Radio Luxembourgunder woollen bed covers! (Duvets hadn’t hit homes in the UK.) So it’s not surprising their magazine played a major role in the lives of teenage girls – it was the highlight of their week. Jackie launched on Thursday, January 11, 1964. At just 6d, the equivalent of 2½p, it was the must-have mag if you wanted to be up to date on what was hip and happening. In the same way, Top of the Pops was the must-see pop TV programme.

Top of the Pops launched just ahead of Jackie with the first show airing on January 1, 1964.  Jackie’s address printed in the magazine was 185 Fleet Street, Fetter Lane, London EC4A 2HS, but in reality it was actually produced hundreds of miles away in the north east of Scotland. It was created in Dundeea city famous for its jute, jam and journalism. The thinking behind the London address was to give the title more kudos and to make it appear that Jackie was produced at the centre of the cool capital. The magazine was a lively mix of fashion and beauty tips, pop gossip, horoscopes, fun quizzes, love stories and life advice, including the all-important tips on how to get a boy – and keep him!

Jackie was a hit right from the start with sales reaching an all-time high in the early seventies when they peaked at over a million. Readers loved the pin-ups, and posters of pop idols such as David Cassidy, Donny Osmond and David Essex adorned the bedroom walls of thousands of teenage fans.
Fashion also played a major role in the magazine and throughout its life an amazing array of weird and wonderful gear graced the pages, including jeans with enormous flares, maxi skirts and the proverbial huge platform shoes. Bright purple was all the rage and Biba was big news. In the early years of Jackie the fashions were drawn. The artwork was striking and very stylised. But as time went on the magazine also moved on and Jackie changed from using drawn artwork to photographing “real”’ models on location.

The top-selling teen title continually evolved to stay in tune with its readers, ensuring it was always bang on trend. Jackie was a fabulous magazine that was loved by everyone who read it and everybody who worked on it, so in the words of David Cassidy, could it be forever? Sadly, no. With sales declining to 50,000, the decision was made to shut the title and the presses rolled for the last time on issue dated July 3, 1993. However, it was maybe “bye bye baby” but there is no doubt that the magazine holds special memories for millions of women who will never forget the huge part Jackie played in their teenage years.

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or *calls cost 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings. 

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