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Review: FANS at Newcastle Northern Stage

It's something unpredictable,
but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.”

Presented by The Six Twenty
Tuesday 13th& Wednesday 14th September 2016 - Newcastle Northern Stage

Thursday 15th&  Friday 16th September 2016 - Washington Arts Centre

Saturday 1st October 2016
Sunderland Stages @ Pop Recs

Nina Berry and Melanie Rashbrooke have collected lots of stories from music fans and written this wonderful production that attempts to share the experience of being a fan of music.

The cast of four are part of a band, rehearsing in the garage, awaiting the big time. They haven’t got a name but they know they share a collective love of music. However they all love different things. We have Chris (Chris Foley), the guitar playing guitarist who picked up his love of Billy Joe when he was in Year 9 at Gosforth High. 
Charlie (Charlie Raine) is a fan of Madonna even though her music upsets her strictly religious parents. She plans to sing for the band even though she used to play piano. Meghan (Meghan Doyle) has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music which matches her wide range of musical taste. Having said that she is a big fan of the Smiths. She is able to sing and play the bass guitar. At the back is the peace making drummer Andrew (Andrew Bleakley) who is also really handy with the keyboards.

The show includes verbatim elements in which the experiences of real fans are recalled. At times it is a gig as the cast perform some of the songs.

For many of us, music is a massive part of our lives. From that moment we discovered ‘our’ bands we feel a sense of belonging. Listening to the music in our bedrooms it feels like the song is being sung to just us. In other words, it is an incredibly personal experience.

When we finally get that chance to see our band it is an amazing experience. Even though there could be thousands of others in the venue, it does actually feel like there are just performing to us. The night is made perfect when we get a souvenir such as a drum stick or a plectrum. Of course the moment can be shared with that special person who shares the passion for the music. Hey, we may even make them a mixtape.

This production, likewise, is a personal experience as it is easy to relate to the situations being described. Speaking as someone who tried to like Alison Moyet’s then latest album in order to secure a second date and made regular mixtapes which were the best albums EVER. I too remember clinging onto the barrier at the front of the gig ignoring the need to get a drink or visit the loo as I needed to see my heroes.

The show is more gig-like than like a musical, even down to the nature of the audience interaction and applause. Even so, it finishes with the same song as Green Days American Idiot musical (not that the song appears on the cast recording!).

The show doesn’t patronise evens but understands the tribalism that happens to groups of fans. It acknowledges that we all liked music in our formative years that we don’t necessarily admit to. The research has clearly been comprehensive about the attitudes of music fans.

The cast are both entertaining and engaging. It is easy to associate the characters with fans that we’ve met on our travels. Plus they’re great musicians too – and they play the mixtape medley to end all mixtape medleys.

This is a great, fun show for any fan of music. It’s for anyone who has ever bought tickets first, then worried about how they’ll pay for them or get there or get home much later. No wonder the audience were so enthusiastic with their applause at the end. Fabulous.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver the North East Theatre Guide – follow Stephen at @panic_c_button

Read the original North East Theatre Guide Preview:

Cast & Crew:

Presented by The Six Twenty
Created & directed by Melanie Rashbrooke
Written by Nina Berry & Melanie Rashbrooke
Designed by Luke W. Robson
Additional material by Melanie Rashbrooke & The Six Twenty
Lighting & Sound Designed by Craig Spence
Musical Direction by Chris Foley

Cast: Andrew Bleakley, Meghan Doyle, Chris Foley and Charlotte Raine.


Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th September 2016 @ 7pm   ARC, Stockton   01642 525199 

Friday 9th September 2016 @ 7.30pm   Alnwick Playhouse   01665 510 785 

Tuesday 13th & Wednesday 14th September 2016 @ 7:30pm   Northern Stage   0191 230 5151 

Thursday 15th &  Friday 16th September 2016 @ 7.30pm   Washington Arts Centre   0191 561 3455

Saturday 1st October 2016 Sunderland Stages @ Pop Recs – tickets


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