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Preview: Heartbreak Productions at Jesmond Dene

Heartbreak Productions to Premier David Walliams’ Ratburger in its 2016 Summer Line-Up

THE TEMPEST: 1st – 3rd July 2016
MURDER ON THE TERRACE: 8th – 10thJuly 2016
RATBURGER: 15th – 17th July 2016
Newcastle Jesmond Dene

After the rousing success of its 2015 production of the David Walliams novel Mr Stink (Mr Stink review LINK), Heartbreak Productions will premier a stage adaption of Mr Walliams’ bestseller Ratburger in Jesmond Dene at the beginning of the summer holidays over the weekend of Friday 15th– Sunday 17th July.

Heartbreak Productions, a touring company that produces outdoor theatre across the UK, will be mounting the first stage adaptation of the hugely successful David Walliams novel, Ratburger. Their production of Mr Stink in 2015 played to sold-out audiences across the UK, in all types of weather, and even Mr Walliams himself attended a performance. – “I loved Mr Stink under the stars @capelmanor by @hbreakontour tonight. A magnificent stage version of my book. I was very proud.” – David Walliams tweet from 27/8/2015

In a bid to make the production more accessible to all, Heartbreak Productions are providing a BSL interpreter for the Saturday matinee performance on 16thJuly at 2pm.

This is Heartbreak Productions’ 13th year coming to Newcastleand long standing cast member, James Edwards always looks forward to stopping off in the city on the Tyne, “I’ve toured to Newcastlewith Heartbreak Productions for 7 years now and audiences there are always friendly, irreverent and enthusiastic – up for it – compared to some audiences down south. As an actor, it’s reassuring to know that you’ll get an engaging audience there and it’ll never be a duff gig”.

Ratburgerwill tour across the UKas part of Heartbreak Productions 2016 summer season. The play tells the story of a young girl desperate to break away from her horrible mother, and set upon by a sinister neighbour who is determined to have her pet rat for his burger shop.

eartbreak will also tour Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Murder on the Terrace, an interactive murder mystery. Do not expect traditional staging of these classics, however, as Heartbreak’s signature style is to frame traditional pieces in alternative settings. The Tempest, for example, will be set at a pagan stone circle, and performed by modern day druids, connecting
Britain’s ancient traditions with the themes of the play. The Importance of Being Earnest will be moved forward to the eve of the Great Depression. Murder on the Terrace is an original work written by Heartbreak stalwart David Kerby-Kendall. It is an interactive, tongue-in-cheek murder mystery, perfect for a light-hearted and humourous summer evening’s entertainment.

Chief Executive of Heartbreak Productions, Maddy Kerr, said, “We are thrilled that David Walliams has agreed for us to tour the theatrical premiere of “Ratburger” for 2016; it’s a fitting tribute to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Heartbreak’s and we hope that first time audiences from “Mr Stink” will return for another exhilarating experience of Walliams’ mischievous humour and uplifting storytelling.”

Heartbreak Productions has been touring across the UKsince 1991. Based in Leamington Spa, Maddy Kerr and PeterMimmack lead this unique production company that delivers exceptional outdoor theatre to audiences of all ages. Heartbreak aims to tell stories that inspire, entertain, challenge, and help us come to a better understanding of who we are as people and how we can live together.

Heartbreak Productions’ performances do go ahead in the rain. Please check the forecast before you leave and dress appropriately. For Standard tickets, please bring your own seating and sit in the open air; Premium ticket holders are provided with a chair under a tent.

Tickets are available from advance purchase and can be bought on the gate (cash only).


Preview: PUG at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

Come down for a night of addictive performances for withered attention spans.


Rosa Postlethwaite & Hannah Walker present
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Friday 15th July 2016

Rosa and Hannah present PUG, a night of addictive performances for withered attention spans.

Replace your laptop with a lapdog and revel in a night of fast-paced, genre-bending shows from the North East’s most adorable artists.


re(a/t)ch by Charlie Dearnley
re(a/t)ch explores ritual ceremonies of offering and acceptance as Charlie Dearnley tries to find and reflect on spiritual experiences by imbuing actions, tasks and events with otherworldly importance. Through reflecting on a christian upbringing he attempts to make some sense of his own constantly shifting belief system, and then express that through a combination of spoken word and dance.

You Over There by Luca Rutherford
Punk stuff. Fun stuff. Silliness.
Something will happen. No one will get richer and no-one will get poorer.
You Over There looks at what happens when we make stuff and do stuff in a way we are not supposed to. I want to invite you to be a punk with me. Shout loudly, dance stupidly, stay still and whisper if you want to, but stand in the garage with me and give a bit of you for a piece of me.

Raising the Skirt: A Talk by Nicola Hunter and Dawn Felicia Knox
The act of lifting the skirt has been translated across cultures and geographies. In folklore, women could drive away devils, evil spirits and even invading warriors.
Nicola Canavan created ‘Raising the Skirt’ from a place of extensive research into the historical links between the vulva and power as well as from a deeply personal place of overcoming judgement that was placed on her own body. ‘Raising the Skirts’ began as a three-day workshop funded by the Live Art Development Agency. Dawn Felicia Knox documented all aspects, bearing witness to the personal journeys of each woman. Canavan and Knox have continued to facilitate the action as part of the Arches Sexology Event in Glasgow and a through a further intensive workshop in the North of England.
Dawn Felicia Knox and Nicola Canavan present their project ‘Raising the Skirt’ including an exhibition of powerful images from the 2015 workshop.

About the Company: Hannah & Rosa
Hannah & Rosa are two artists and friends who explore their own, sometimes boring, lives to make performances that shimmer. We devise new work that straddles theatre and live art, approaching subject matters with care, generosity and vigour. We’re inspired by the alternative cabaret scene and together we want to make shows as effervescent and potent as our drinks.
An audience member once said that our work was “funny, glossy and honest”. We think this is something to aim for.
Hannah & Rosa have a quarterly club night called PUG - a night of short performances for meagre attention spans and are in the early stages of research towards their next show Basic B, a show basically about naming and shaming.

Pug comes to Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre on Friday 15th July 2016 at 7.30pm
Tickets: Pay What You Feel RESERVE tickets using this link:
Where: Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement, 18 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW
Age Recommendation: 18+ (Content warning: contains nudity)

Preview: The Incident at Stockton ARC

Stockton man brings Asian school children on a trip to Teesside

Hong Kong and Shanghai Youth Theatre Project
The Incident
Stockton ARC
Friday 1st July 2016

A Stockton-born man is returning to his hometown this week and is bringing a group of talented schoolchildren from across South East Asia with him, and plans to show them the delights of Teesside, before they perform in a brand new play at ARC which was written and composed by the Stocktonian himself.

Gary Sanderson, who is originally from Fairfield and went to Grangefield Grammar School, has worked in international schools in various cities in South East Asia for the past 23 years, mainly working as a music teacher and more recently, as a composer and musical director based in Shanghai.

The brand new play, which is called The Incident, was entirely written by Gary and features his own original musical score which will be performed live by the New Shanghai Orchestra.

Gary decided to write the play and composed his own original score after being disappointed with the music in various recent West End shows which he believed lacked something special.

He said: “After seeing various West Endproductions and being thrilled with the quality of acting and writing, I was disappointed that the music just didn’t grab me in the same way.

“I’ve always had a great interest in musical theatre and wanted to create a brand new play that not only gave the talented children who I work the chance to shine on an international stage, but a play that had catchy, memorable music that people would love. For me, it’s just as much about the music than the script.”

Gary worked alongside director Katherine Kam and co-director Nicole Tong to find over 30 young children from countries across South East Asia such as China and Hong Kong who auditioned for parts after showing star quality in their own school productions. The children now form the Hong Kong and Shanghai Youth Theatre Project and are visiting Teesside for the first time after Gary suggested a trip to his hometown would be the perfect place for the children to learn about new theatre and the arts in general.

He continued “I think Teesside is an excellent place for these young students to learn about theatre and the arts. Whilst in Teesside, I plan to take them to the Georgian Theatre for a visit, and I’d like to take them to a show at ARC before they grace the stage themselves.

“Having lived around the world for almost 25 years I can honestly say that Teesside is a very good area for promoting new work. There are plenty of artists and writers in the area and I feel that local people like to see other locals giving things a go and doing something positive. This is a fantastic opportunity for these youngsters who have worked incredibly hard to put on a good show, they are so excited to come to Stockton so I’d love to see the people of Teesside turn out to support them!”

The Incident follows two gangs of rival school kids, who live, laugh and fight their way through life living amongst a 1940s British bombsite. All is fair in love and war, until Nick kicks the ball through the headmaster’s window. As the gangs join together to save him from what seems to be an ugly situation, they unexpectedly come up against sinister forces of evil.

The play will be performed at ARC this Friday 1 July at 7.30pm and tickets cost £8.50 and can be booked by calling 01642 525199 or by visiting



Preview: Copacabana at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Her name was Lola...she was a showgirl!

West EndOperatic Society presents:
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Tuesday 4th – Saturday 8thApril 2017

Following his recent visit to Newcastle performing to a sell-out crowd on his ‘One Last Time Tour’, Barry Manilow will be returning in April 2017, all be it in spirit, as his hit musical Copacabana swings into the Tyne Theatre & Opera House.

The musical, written by Manilow and his long-time collaborators Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, will be brought to you by West End Operatic Society who have recently packed out the theatre with hit productions including Oliver! and Hairspray.

Packed with original songs, dazzling costumes and feathers galore, the show will have audiences dancing in the aisles with Manilow hits such as Dancin’ Fool, Who Needs to Dream, Welcome to Havana and of course, the Grammy Award-winning Copacabana (At The Copa).

The story of Copacabana has captivated millions of spectators around the globe. This tale of romance and stardom features aspiring songwriter Tony working as a pianist in a bar when he meets the gorgeous Lola, who is determined to make it in showbiz. Quickly falling for Lola, Tony does everything he can to assist her attempts to find stardom. At Manhattan’s Copacabana Lounge both start to find fame, before fate steps in and Lola is swept away to Havana to work in a splashy night club. But Lola’s new mentor and boss Rico may demand a price for putting her name in lights.

West End Operatic Society are an award-winning amateur musical theatre group based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Since their first show in 1949, A Country Girl at the Majestic Cinema in the West End of Newcastle, the society have continued to perform successful large scale musical productions.

Tickets have ‘Just Arrived’ at our box office so make sure you get yours quick and don’t miss out on what promises to be a fantastic night of ‘music and passion...’

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson says: “We’re thrilled to welcome West End Operatic Society back to Tyne Theatre & Opera House with their production of Copacabana. They are a fantastic, well established local musical theatre group and are always guaranteed to put on an incredible performance, as their past two productions here, Hairspray (REVIEW link) and Oliver! (REVIEW link) have proved. It’s wonderful that the theatre is able to continue to support local musical theatre groups such as West End Operatic.”

Tickets: £8 - £18. Concessions £2 off full price tickets on Tuesday only. 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)

Preview: The Wedding Singer at Sunderland Empire


The Wedding Singer
Tuesday 21st - Saturday 25thFebruary 2017

Don’t miss your chance to join the party of the year – with a musical that promises to get you up dancing faster than your Dad at a wedding, The Wedding Singer is packed with songs which capture all the fun and energy of the Adam Sandler smash hit film. 

Jon Robyns, Ray Quinn, Cassie Compton, Roxanne Pallett and Ruth Madoc will star in the hilarious musical based on the hit film.

Cassie Compton, Ray Quinn, Ruth Madoc,
Jon Robyns, Roxanne Pallett – Photo:  Darren Bell
It’s 1985. Hair is huge, greed is good and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart is New Jersey's favourite wedding singer. When his own fiancée dumps him at the altar a seriously bummed out Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own.  Can sweet natured Julia and her best friend Holly lure Robbie out of the dumpster and back into the limelight?  Or is  he  going  to  see  her  head  off  down  the  aisle  with  Wall  Street  bad  boy  Glen. 

Only Grandma  Rosie  seems  to  be able to see that Robbie and Julia are the couple that are meant to be. West End  and  Musical  Theatre star Jon  Robyns  plays Robbie  Hart. 

Ray Quinn as Glen
and Roxanne Pallett as Holly
Photo:  Darren Bell
Most recently he  starred  in Legally  Blonde  as Emmett Forrest, other theatre credits include Enjolras in Les Misérables, Spamalot, Memphis and Avenue Q. He is joined on stage by British singer-songwriter Ray Quinn as Glen who shot to fame as the runner-up in ITV1’s The  X  Factor  in  2006  and  as  champion  of Dancing  on  Ice  in  2009. 

In 2014, he  won  Dancing  on  Ice:  Champion  of Champions.  His  theatre  credits  include  Danny  Zuko  in Grease  (West  End), Dirty  Dancing  (West  End)  and Legally Blonde (UK Tour). West  End  leading  lady  and  X  Factor  finalist Cassie  Compton  plays  Julia;  her  roles  include  Sabrina  in American Psycho  (Almeida,  London)  and  Eponine  in Les  Misérables. 

Ruth Madoc as Grandma Rosie
and Jon Robyns as Robbie Hart
Photo:  Darren Bell
Playing  best  friend  Holly, Roxanne  Pallett  is  perhaps best  known  for  her  long-standing  role  as  Jo  in  ITV’s Emmerdale.  She  has  also  appeared  in Waterloo  Road  and Casualty  on  screen  and  in The  Rocky  Horror  Picture  Show, The  Vagina  Monologues  and  John  Godber’s On  The Piste on stage.

No stranger to stage and screen, comedy veteran Ruth Madoc joins the company as Grandma Rosie. Ruth became a household name in the Eighties when she played Gladys Pugh in BBC comedy series Hi-De-Hi! More recently we’ve seen her on screen in ITV’s Benidorm, Mount Pleasant (Sky) and Stella (Sky). Samuel Holmes (Mrs Henderson Presents, West End) will play George. Further casting is to be announced. 

The  Wedding  Singer  2017  UK  Tour  is  Directed  and  Choreographed  by Nick  Winston.  Set and  Costumes  are  by Francis  O’Connor.  Musical  Supervision  is  by Sarah  Travis  with  Musical  Direction  and  Orchestration  by George Dyer.  Lighting Design is  by Ben  Cracknell  with  Sound  Design  by Richard  Brooker.

Video Design  is  by Jack  HenryJames  and  Casting  by Jim  Arnold. The Wedding  Singer  is  produced  by Dan  Looney, Paulden  Hall  Productions, Tom O’Connell and Jason Haigh-Ellery.

The  Wedding  Singer  Music by Matthew Sklar Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy Lyrics by Chad Beguelin Based upon the New Line Cinema film Written by Tim Herlihy Directed and Choreographed by Nick Winston Performances by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd.

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