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Preview: Sunny Afternoon at Sunderland Empire

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Sunny Afternoon
Tuesday 4th – Saturday 8th October 2016

As the West End multi Olivier award-winning hit musical continues to excite audiences in the West End, Sonia Friedman Productions and Ambassador Theatre Group are delighted to announce the full cast for 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 arrive at the Sunderland Empire on Tuesday 4thSaturday 8th October 2016. The tour of Sunny Afternoon is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Ambassador Theatre Group with Tulchin Bartner Productions, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Glass Half Full Productions, Rupert Gavin, in association with Hampstead Theatre and Arlon Productions.

Andrew Gallo ('Mick Avory'), Mark Newnham ('Dave Davies'),
Ryan O'Donnell ('Ray Davies') and Garmon Rhys ('Pete Quaife'
The tour will star Ryan O’Donnell as ‘Ray Davies’, with Mark Newnham as ‘Dave Davies’, Garmon Rhys as bassist ‘PeteQuaife’ and Andrew Gallo as drummer ‘Mick Avory’. They are joined by: Jayne Ashley; Victoria Anderson; Nathanael Campbell; Marcelo Cervone; Tomm Coles; Deryn Edwards; Sophie Leigh Griffin; Sam Haywood; James Hudson; Richard Hurst; Cleo Jaeger; James Lorcan; Joseph Richardson; Robert Took; Alex Wadham; Libby Watts; Michael Warburton; Lucy Wilkerson and Lisa Wright.

Full Cast with Ray Davies and Joe Penhall
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? Featuring some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs, including You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunsetand Lola, Sunny Afternoon tells the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks.  

Set against the back-drop of a Britaincaught 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.

Ryan O’Donnell (Ray Davies) most recently appeared in “Sunny Afternoon” at the Harold Pinter Theatre.  His other theatre credits include: “Quadrophenia” at Theatre Royal Plymouth; “Frankenstein” at Royal and Derngate; “Romeo & Juliet” for the Royal Shakespeare Company; “ShadowMouth” at Sheffield Crucible and “Tracy Beaker the Musical” at the Nottingham Playhouse. Ryan was a member of the band Jethro Tull for four years. In 2009 he recorded ‘Matthew and Son’ with Cat ‘Yusuf’ Stevens and the BBC.

Mark Newnham (Dave Davies) most recently appeared in “All or Nothing” at The Vaults Theatre London. His other theatre credits include: “Return to the Forbidden Planet” on UK tour; “Lennon” at the Royal Court, Liverpool; “Bouncers” and “A Passionate Woman” at the Queens Theatre, Hornchurch” and “Hot Stuff” at the Oldham Collesium.

Garmon Rhys(PeteQuaife) most recently appeared in “Doctor Faustus” at Trafalgar Studios. His other theatre credits include: “The Secret Adversary” at the Watermill Theatre & UK tour and “Regeneration” at the Royal and Derngate and UKtour.

Andrew Gallo (Mick Avory) most recently appeared in “Parade” at the Hope Mill Theatre. His other theatre credits include: “Adam Long’s Dickens Abridged” on UKtour; “Sister Act” at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre; “Saturday Night Fever” at the Theatre Royal Bath and UKtour; “New York City Rhythm” at the Playhouse Theatre and “Hairspray” at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Following a sell-out run at Hampstead Theatre, Sunny Afternoonopened to critical acclaim at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West Endin October 2014 and will have its final performance at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 29 October 2016.

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.  Musical and vocal adaptations are by Ray Davies and Elliott Ware based on original Kinks recordings. The Musical Director is Barney Ashworth and the Musical Supervisor is Elliott Ware.

On The Web:

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 up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings

Preview: Capability Brown – The Eye-Catcher at Kirkharle Courtyard

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Capability Brown – live at Kirkharle

Capability Brown – The Eye-Catcher
Kirkharle Courtyard
Saturday 6th - Saturday 20th August 2016

John Cobb
Northumberland-based theatre company, Théâtre Sans Frontières, is delighted to be supporting Joint Artistic Director John Cobb in his one-man show, Capability Brown – The Eye-Catcher, which will be performed at Kirkharle Courtyard, Saturday 6th - Saturday 20th August 2016, as part of the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the famous gardener’s birth.

Devised and acted by John Cobb, Capability Brown – The Eye-Catcher is an affectionate, comic and visually stimulating appraisal of the life and gardens of Lancelot Brown. John Cobb says: “What a fantastic journey! It’s been a year and a half since I was inspired by John Phibbs (acknowledged authority on Georgian landscapes and Capability Brown) to embark on research and creation on this extraordinary Northumberland figure and the 18th century world he lived in. A wealth of intriguing characters have emerged to play alongside ‘Capability’ himself. What a pleasure. I hope you enjoy it. I certainly do!’

John Cobb
Born at Kirkharle, Northumberland, Brown rose to fame through his connections via Stowe, Hammersmith and Hampton Court, where he meets and is employed by the King. The performance follows Brown’s life as he mixes with the outlandish and outrageous gentry of 18th century England, criss-crossing the land as his particular style of renovating country gardens caught on and changed the face of the English landscape. We see his relationship with his wife Biddy and remorse at being unable to return to Northumberland. His rivalry with the King’s architect is explored, as well as his relationship with sundry clients from the upper classes. The development of Capability’s style, his introduction of the Ha-ha and the place of slavery in 18th century England are all touched upon. John Cobb also takes on the roles of Lord Cobham of Stowe, the first Duchess of Northumberland, “Farmer George” the King, the flamboyant Clive of India and Brown’s arch enemy, Sir William Chambers.

With evocative music from the period and a wealth of visuals, songs and personalities, audiences will be entranced by the life and times of Lancelot Capability Brown. The show lasts 60 minutes and is suitable for ages 12+ years.

Performances at Kirkharle Courtyard take place at 11am and 2pm on:  Saturday 6, Wednesday 10, Saturday 13, Wednesday 17 and Saturday 20 August 2016.
Tickets cost £5 and advance booking is not required. For more information, please contact Kirkharle Courtyard on 01830 540362, email or check out the website at

Review: 99 Problems And The Chips Still Ain’t One at South Shields Customs House

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Steffen Peddie
99 Problems And The Chips Still Ain’t One
South Shields Customs House
30th July 2016

Steffen Peddie has starred in the BBC tv series Hebburn and has kept the Metro Radio’s Night Owls’ hot seat warm whilst Alan Robson was away. Tonight he used the wealth of his life’s experience to produce a wonderfully funny show.  But just like Night Owls the evening relies upon the audience input and hence each show is unique.

This was show #29 for Steffen in this format and we enjoyed a completely different series of gags and situations compared to our last visit (NETG Review link).

Steffen comes across as a friendly personable bloke and he keeps the proceedings pretty light hearted given some of the topics brought up by the punters. He starts the show by introducing himself and pointing out some of life’s scrapes that he has found himself in. A microphone is then passed to a volunteer from the audience whose job it is to pull out, and read, the evenings problems. The problems had previously been written by the audience and placed in a box upon arrival. Steffen’s mastery comes then to the fore as he turns these issues into a comical story. He has no control over which problems will come up so his only preparation is life itself.

The South Shieldscrowd were on form tonight as we were given treats from dieting plans, squeezing into seats, nightmare daughters and online dating through to amusing fights.  Each of the problems led to a series of amusing anecdotes and situations from Steffen.   He is never cruel to members of the audience but the various towns that we live in are fair game.

Steffen discusses the clashes of cultures between the London based crew and the Geordie cast on tv programmes and how the audience get sucked into believing wrestling is real. Adding to the peril for the comic tonight were the fact his mother and his wife were in tonight’s audience.  It added an edge on to stories of school, swans and Starbucks; dating, daughters and diet classes. Whilst chips are never a problem, you can have too many toppings on them.

The show ran for over 2 hours, including an interval, and Steffen never let up on the pace or big laughs. It is a big, bold show that leaves the audience feeling good. The South Shieldscrowd were as much a part of the show as their accommodating host. Steffen is surely heading for bigger shows – miss him at your peril.

Steffen Peddie appeared as part of the South Tyneside Comedy Festival which runs until Saturday 6th August 2016. Details can be found on the South Shields Customs House website LINK.  Read our preview here: NETG Comedy Preview

Photos credit: Andy Hollingworth

Steffen Peddie will be bringing the show back to the region on Tuesday 27th September 2016 when it comes to the Newcastle Stand Comedy Club
Tickets £8
Buy tickets & get more details from:


Review: Mostly Spoken at Newcastle Cumberland Arms

Mostly Spoken: A Monthly Night of Spoken Word and Music
Newcastle Cumberland Arms
Thursday 28th July 2016

This was the second evening of spoken word and music under the Mostly Spoken banner. In the cosy upstairs bar of the Cumberland arms people gathered to listen to music and poetry while enjoying a bit of companionship and refreshment. It had a bit of a “salon” feel and the juxtoposition of music and spoken word definitely created something greater than the sum of the parts.

First on the stage was local singer-songwriter Simma with the unbelievably talented Matt Jackson on second guitar. They played three songs from Simma’s most recent album Lychnobite: Happy New Year (to be pushed as a festive release later in the year), The Drink (an ode to the familiar demon) and the funky Voodon’t (a deep south delta blues number). This performance from Simma was intimate and full of feeling and was a great start to the night.

Mandy Maxwell was the first spoken word artist of the night . She performed pieces about “Little England” (the madness of Brexit),  the joy of swearing, misleading “contagious headlines” and a poem about her mum’s sacrifices to her daughter’s development.  Mandy is very warm and engaging even when she’s swearing like a trouper, rude words sound so much better with a Scottish accent I think.

Aidan Clarke had a very different style, a delightfully surreal about lobsters celebrating winning the vote for Thermidor was another reference to Brexit. He also spoke about the power of rejection: get on with it and say no, don’t leave us hanging! His poem about “empty nest syndrome” could only have been written by someone who had watched 5 children grow up and move out.

Bernie Christie added a delightful musical interlude with her slightly folky original songs about love and dreams. She has the most beautiful voice and I look forward to seeing her with Simma again at the Acoustic Circus event on 8th September at Newcastle’s City Hall Concert Bar.

Charlie Reay dished out some marital advice to someone marrying someone she’d never met, in her poem inspired  the book Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. Charlie’s poems were about love and relationships and very much from the heart.

Photo: Stephen Oliver
Next on the stage, fresh from Glastonbury, was “doorstep poet” Rowan McCabe. After a successful run of poems produced from knocking on people’s doors and asking them what was important, he could give us the resulting poems. Rowan has definitely been trained in the art of projecting his voice as the mic was often not needed. Doctor Dave was a poem about a doctor whose liberal approach to advice could maybe be questioned as just not firm enough to be effective. Cool Girl is a statement about how Rowan wants to bring up a daughter who knows her place in the world- is anywhere she wants it to be. I think he’d make a great dad.

Kate Fox closed the night with her poems about how the North would respond to an apocalypse. She performed an ode to the child she will never have. Kate was on the TV recently on Sunday Morning Live discussing how childless women may be discriminated against. It’s a personal matter to have or not to have children and it shouldn’t affect how people view you. Her piece about the Female Bodyguard is particularly important in these days of body-shaming and self-loathing because you don’t fit the template. Kate continues to be an important northern voice for feminism.

Future Events:
Mostly Spoken will happen again every last Thursday upstairs at the Cumberland Arms with new and familiar faces from spoken word and music taking to the stage.

Tickets for August onwards: £5 available from link to appear on Mostly Spoken’s Facebook event.

Twitter: @mostly_spoken

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

Preview: Romeo and Juliet at Newcastle Great North Museum

Pedalling Shakespeare: ‘Bard on bikes’ troupe cycling to Newcastle for unmissable Romeo & Juliet performance

The HandleBards present Romeo and Juliet
Newcastle Great North Museum: Hancock
Sunday 14th August 2016

The HandleBards
Elle Dillon-Reams, Lianne Harvey,  Lotte Tickner, Lizzie Muncey
The HandleBards are set to ride into Newcastle on Sunday 14th August for a side-splitting, bicycle-powered performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Great North Museum: Hancock. 

The eccentric theatre company cycles the length and breadth of the country performing Shakespeare’s plays and 2016 – the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death – has seen the addition of a new all-female troupe who will stop off at the museum as part of their inaugural tour.

The four-strong cast carry all of their set, props and costumes in tow on bespoke, hand-crafted push-bikes, cycling from show to show.

On the 14thAugust, the girls will ride from Wark, Northumberland to give their first ever Newcastle performance on the lawn in front of the historic Hancock building. By the end of the three-month tour, they will have cycled over 1000 miles.

The audience on the night can expect a high-energy adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy that is charming and chaotic in equal measure with belly laughs thrown in too.

Paul Moss, founder of The HandleBards explained: “We began as an all-male company to emulate how things used to be done in Shakespeare’s day. But we live in a different world now. Shakespeare wrote his plays for small casts of the same gender, and we stay true to that – just with a few extra twists and turns here and there.”

Great North Museum: Hancock manager Caroline McDonald added: “We can’t wait to welcome the HandleBards to the museum and see their riotous show come alive. It’s something a bit different for us but we love the idea of environmentally sustainable theatre. And what could be better than enjoying Shakespeare with a picnic against the classic backdrop of the Great North Museum: Hancock?”

Families, comedy fans, theatre buffs and cycling enthusiasts in particular will love the hilarious show which is suitable for all ages. The UK’s only cycling theatre troupe put it best themselves, however, with a sonnet:
Ride on with us throughout the countryside,
With comedies and tragedies galore;
Four actors upon bikes are wont to ride,
With legs exhausted and with bottoms sore.
A journey thorough bush and thorough briar,
On a-roads, b-roads, cycle-paths we steer.
On pedalled steeds we stow all we require –
Set, props and costumes, scripts and camping gear.
Hey ho! The wind and rain may slow our ride,
Our chains may bear the whips and scorns of grime,
But this dry-witted, wet quartet provide
A stonking, bonkers, entertaining time.
So join this ped’ling Shakespeare troupe anon,
The HandleBards: ride on, dear friends, ride on.

Romeo and Juliet cast
Elle Dillon-ReamsMercutio, Paris, Lady Capulet, Friar Laurence, Abram, Balthazar
Lianne Harvey – Juliet, Montague, Benvolio, Apothecary
Lizzie Muncey – Romeo, Capulet, Gregory
Lotte Tickner Nurse, Prince, Tybalt, Sampson, Friar John, Servant

The HandleBards present Romeo and Juliet at the Great North Museum: Hancock on Sunday 14 August 2016, 6.30pm(doors 6pm)
Tickets: £10, £8 concessions (plus booking fee)
Outdoor performance: bring a picnic, chair/rug and warm clothes
Tickets for the one-off performance start at £8 and can be bought online via the Great North Museum: Hancock website: The performance will move inside the museum in the event of poor weather.