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Preview: La Cage Aux Folles at Sunderland Empire



La Cage Aux Folles
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th August 2017

Bill Kenwright presents the much loved musical La Cage Aux Folles with John Partridge as ‘Albin’ and Adrian Zmed as ‘Georges’, opening New Oxford Theatre on Thursday 5 January before embarking on its first ever nationwide tour with a date at Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 August 2017.

John Partridge
John Partridge will play the iconic role of ‘Albin’, who moonlights as star drag act Zaza at the infamous La Cage aux Folles nightclub. Partridge’s extensive theatre credits include the West Endproductions of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, Cats, Starlight Express and Chicago. He is also well known for playing the loveable Christian Clarke in BBC’s EastEnders and as a judge on TV’s Over The Rainbow.

Adrian Zmed
Adrian Zmed will play ‘Georges’, partner of Albin and owner of the nightclub. Zmed co-starred with William Shatner as ‘Officer Vince Romano’ in the 70’s hit TV show T.J. Hooker, which ran for 90 episodes over 5 years, and for playing ‘Johnny Nogerelli’ in the cult classic film Grease 2. This will be his first stage appearance in the UKalthough he is no stranger to Broadway musicals having previously led the casts of Grease, no fewer than 3 times, Falsettos and Blood Brothers.

Written by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, and based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, La Cage Aux Folles follows the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez nightclub, and his partner, Albin, a drag artiste and the club’s star attraction. They live an idyllic existence in the south of France but behind the curtains of this sparkling extravaganza, all may be about to change when Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a notorious right-wing politician determined to close down the local colourful night-life. Drama and hilarity ensue when a meeting of the parents forces them to cover up their vibrant lifestyle. Will Albin be able to play the role of his life to ensure that Jean-Michel can marry his love?

La Cage Aux Folles is a multi-award winning musical. The original Broadway production became an instant smash hit when it opened in 1983. It received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The success of the musical spawned a London Palladium production and several international runs. The 2004 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and the 2008 London revival garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.

Setting out on its first ever UK tour, this brand new production is produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award Winning Bill Deamer, designed by Gary McCann, Sound by Dan Samson (the team responsible for the sumptuous current hit, The Sound of Music), and musical direction by Mark Crossland. This lavishly funny tale of unconditional love and family values, will leave you feeling the need to celebrate that life’s not worth a damn ‘till you can say I am what I am.’

This show-stopping score includes The Best of Times, Song on the Sand and the iconic I Am What I Am, which has been recorded by musical legends Gloria Gaynor, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett.

The production tours the UKfrom 5th January 2017, opening at the New Theatre Oxford.

Further casting and dates to be announced.

Tickets on sale now and 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


Review: The Rooms at Newcastle Alphabetti

Alphabetti Cracks It Again!

The Rooms
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Until Saturday 5th November 2016

The Rooms previous production (NETG review) was a big hit with us and we have continued to talk about it since. No wonder that it picked up our 2015 Best New Writingaward (NETG Awards news). So will The Rooms 2016 be as memorable? This is a brand new production with 3 brand new plays in 3 more areas of the venue with 3 different writers and actors.

The show is a promenade performance which will visit 3 parts of the building. The audience are forewarned to wrap up warm for an outdoor experience and that the show involves a lot of standing. Having said, judging by the reactions of some of the audience, it is still an unusual format that can take some getting used to.

Word Salad by Sarah Gonnet

The audience is split up into 3 smaller groups that visit each segment in a different order. Our group headed off to the ladies first. The group of nine found it quite intimate by the time Robert Nicholson entered, as Matthew, asking if we had read the notice outside and looking for his creative partner Catherine. In such a small space it is difficult not to feel involved in the action. In Sarah Gonnet’s play Matthew runs cold and hot, manic and then depressed. The show examines the creative psyche as well as a brief look into the mental issues that can affect us. What is normal? Why do we aim to behave the same way? In Rosie Stancliffe’s debut as director we have a pretty intensive intimate experience.

Backstreet Salesmanby Becci Sharrock

After a chance to recharge drinks our group was led outside to the alley between the soon to be demolished Odeon cinema and the back of the office block that Alphabetti is a part of. The lights dim before “Z” appears pushing a trolley with a lamp. Matt Miller plays the streetwise Z who sleeps in the streets and watches the comings and goings of the people in Newcastle’s city centre in Becci Sharrock’s play.  The lighting design in this production is clever as the single halogen lamp creates a large shadow on the wall behind Z. Karen Traynor directs an interactive experience as Z splits the group up and moves them around the space. He describes both his trading activities and some injury he has had. Matt literally bounces off the walls and it is difficult not to wonder what he isn’t telling us.
The staff issue you with a brolly in case it starts raining and we recommend wrapping up warm for this part of the show.

A Terrorist’s Guide to Romance by Laura Lindow

The final experience is in a box that has been built in the normal performance area.  James Hedley is Citizen X who is excited by taking control of the underground network under Newcastle. Old tunnels and sewers provide a space that can be explored and controlled. Laura Lindow’s play is as much a romance as it is a call to arms. By the end of it, it feels a shame that an actual tour of the underground spaces isn’t a part of the experience. Rachel Glover directs a tight performance in which James is both convincing and disturbing.

The new Rooms are as intense as the 2015 productions. They are much more in your face than a standard theatrical show format. There is a real skill on the part of the actor as they manipulate the audience in each space. The audience are bound to react as the action unfolds and the actor has to deal with that reaction. Not so much “breaking the 4th wall” rather it can be more of a 3 ring circus as the actor asks for a sample of blood or help with opening a door.  The visceral experience is a treat that exploits the unique space that Alphabetti occupies.  Each play feels like is has a personal element for each playwright and they give you plenty to talk about in the bar afterwards. It only has a limited run and only limited numbers can enjoy the show each evening so advance booking is recommended.

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

Tickets: The Rooms By Laura Lindow, Sarah Gonnet and Becci Sharrock
Directed by Rachel Glover, Rosie Stancliffe and Karen Traynor
Curated by Ben Dickenson comes to Alphabetti Theatre from Thursday 27th October – Saturday 5th November (excl 30th October) 2016 at 7.30pm

Running time: approximately 1 hour, no interval
Ticket Prices: £8 Full Price / £6 Concession (Students, Senior Citizens, Artists/Equity)
Venue: Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement, 18 New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW
Note: Part of the performance does take place outside so warm clothing is advised. Umbrellas will be provided.


Preview: Luisa Omielan – What Would Beyonce Do at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Luisa Omielan – What Would Beyonce Do?!
Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Thursday 17th November 2016
Tyne Theatre & Opera House are excited to announce a very special comedy show for November. The hilarious Luisa Omielan will bring ‘What Would Beyonce Do?!’ to the Tyne Theatre stage for an exclusive Newcastle upon Tyne date on Thursday 17th November.

Hailed as 'one of the biggest stand up hits of the last decade' (The Guardian) ‘What Would Beyonce Do?!’ is the most successful debut show to come from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has toured over 12 countries. Having been nominated for Best Comedy Show at Melbourne International Comedy Festival it has recently been turned into a book.

Luisa is selecting a few of her favourite cities to come and do an exclusive showing in preparation for something very exciting! Newcastle is top of her list. Having had sell outs at Jesterval Comedy Festival over the last few years, she recently sold out an 850 seater in London earlier this year.

This show is a one off special. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson says: “We’re thrilled to have been chosen by Luisa herself to host one of the revival shows of ‘What Would Beyonce Do?!’ Luisa is one of my personal favourite comedians, and this is an exclusive North East date, which makes it all the more special! Tyne Theatre & Opera House is the best venue in Newcastle to see the biggest names in stand-up comedy, and Luisa is in fantastic company, with shows from Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan and Nina Conti (to name but a few) coming up in the next few months.”

Strictly 18+

Tickets:  £12 (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)
Tickets available now from
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)
Theatre Address: 109 – 119 Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE1 4AG

Preview: Jamie Raven at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Jamie Raven
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Tuesday 15th November 2016

Jamie Raven burst onto an unsuspecting world during the 2015 series of Britain’s Got Talent. His magic amazed audiences and even made Simon Cowell exclaim, “I now finally believe in magic!”

Jamie has been perfecting his craft over the past 11 years working as a magician around the world and his ambition was always to take it to a wider audience and BGT finally gave him
that chance. His online videos from Britain’s Got Talent have now been seen over 100 million times, making him one of the most viewed magicians in the world.

Since finishing BGT, Jamie has headlined in the record-breaking production The Illusionists at The Shaftesbury Theatre in
London’s West End and is excited to present his own UK
theatre tour in November 2016.

So, sit back, relax and let Jamie Raven show you some of the magic that he has astounded audiences with around the world.

Tickets priced at £18.50, £16.50 conc., £65 Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children) are available now.    

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.

Preview: Opera North at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Opera North
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 2nd- Saturday 5th November 2016

Der Rosenkavalier - Wednesday 2th & Saturday 5th November 2016 
Billy Budd - Thursday 3rd November 2016
Il tabarro / Suor Angelica double bill - Friday 4th November 2016

Opera North comes to Newcastle Theatre Royal this Autumn with an intensely powerful triple bill featuring a revival of Strauss’s comic masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier and a new production of Britten’s rarely performed masterpiece, Billy Buddbefore heading into darker territory with two of Puccini’s compelling one-act operas, Il tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Der Rosenkavalier pits the intensity and eagerness of romantic young love against the wisdom of age and experience. In this critically-acclaimed production, the action is played out in a richly imagined period setting which perfectly complements Strauss’s exquisite score. Conducting will be Aleksandar Markovic, who appears for the first time in his new role as Opera North’s Music Director.

Perfectly poised between comedy and pathos, Strauss’s opera contrasts the impulsive young love of Octavian and Sophie with the Marschallin’s acknowledgement of the relentless passage of time. Although fearful that the 17-year-old Octavian will leave her for a younger woman, it is the Marschallin who orchestrates the first meeting between her lover and the beautiful Sophie – with inevitable consequences.

A correspondingly intense exploration of love and its many manifestations can be found in Puccini’s Il tabarro and Suor Angelica. Originally seen as part of Opera North’s award-winning ‘Eight Little Greats’ season, Il tabarrotracks the rapid disintegration of a marriage into violence and despair as a chance sighting sets in action a sequence of disturbing events. It is left to the second offering in the double-bill, Michael Barker-Caven’s new production of Suor Angelica, to offer a glimpse of hope and redemption.

Il tabarro is a noir-ish thriller which develops at a frightening pace. It is Paris 1912 and we are in the poverty-stricken world of the city’s stevedores watching as Michele, a barge-owner, starts to question whether his wife is being unfaithful to him. What follows is an intense exploration of betrayal and despair as Michele, consumed by jealousy, takes revenge for Giorgetta’s infidelity in an unexpectedly violent act, shocking in both its suddenness and brutality.

Although there is darkness at the heart of Suor Angelica, there is also light. The ending is suffused with redemptive beauty and features one of his greatest, and most moving, soprano arias, ‘Senza Mamma’.

Angelica has been confined to a convent by her wealthy family as punishment for giving birth to an illegitimate son. After seven years with no word, she is visited by her aunt – a princess – who tells her that the child died years ago, news which plunges Angelica into suicidal despair.

Equally thought-provoking in its exploration of human weakness is Britten’s Billy Budd, brought back to the Opera North stage for the first time in over twenty years in a brand new production. A tale of distrust and betrayal set on a naval ship, Britten’s haunting opera provides a penetrating insight into innocence versus evil and the corrosive nature of power.

Based on a Herman Melville novel, with text adapted for the opera stage by the novelist E.M. Forster, it tells the tale of Billy, a young sailor on HMS Indomitable whose beauty and goodness provoke the destructive envy of the ship’s Master at Arms, Claggart. The one man who has it in his power to save Billy is Captain Vere, but he fails to do so - a decision which is set to haunt him for the rest of his life.

A world-class cast includes the welcome return of some of Opera North’s best-loved performers; Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg sings the bittersweet part of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She is joined by the Australian mezzo Helen Sherman as Octavian, Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn as Sophie and Henry Waddington as Baron Ochs. 
The dynamic cast for Il tabarro includes Giselle Allen as Giorgetta, Luigi is sung by David Butt Philip and making his UK debut as Michele is Italian baritone Ivan Inverardi, a regular performer in many of Europe’s biggest opera houses.

French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels takes the title role in Suor Angelica with Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon as the Principessa and Soraya Mafi making her Company debut as Suor Genoveva.

Billy Budd brings together the powerful forces of the Opera North men’s chorus including baritone Roderick Williams, in his role debut as Billy Budd.  Leading tenor Alan Oke takes the role of Captain Vere and the ever-versatile bass Alastair Miles performs as the darkly envious John Claggart, the Master of Arms who helps seal Billy’s fate and most recently seen by Theatre Royal audiences in The Barber of Seville.

Opera North has also announced forthcoming productions of Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and The Snow Maiden at Newcastle Theatre Royal in March 2017. 

Der Rosenkavalier appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal Wednesday 2th & Saturday 5th November 2016 at 6.30pm, Billy Budd for one performance only on Thursday 3rd November at 7pm and Il tabarro / Suor Angelica double bill on Friday 4th November at 7pm.  Tickets are available from £18.50 can be purchased online at from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).

Preview: Fiddler on The Roof at Hexham Queens Hall

Hexham Amateur Stage Society presents
Fiddler on The Roof
Hexham Queens Hall
Wednesday 9th - Saturday 12thNovember 2016

Photo by Kimberley Olsen-Brown
A new challenge lies ahead for two of the societies established leading actors, Mari Stewart directs her first show, with Albert Simpson as Associate Director. Both relishing the challenge, they  aim to bring to life the small Russian village of Anatevka where the poor farmer and Father of five daughters, Tevye, has to deal with an ever evolving world, that sees his daughters break "Tradition" and the mass exodus of his community. 

Photo by Kimberley Olsen-Brown

With over sixty adults and children in the cast, it promises to be a new exciting production of this favourite musical.

Photo by Kimberley Olsen-Brown
Hexham Amateur Stage Society, are performing Fiddler on The Roof Wednesday 9th November 2016 - Saturday 12th November 2016, with performances starting at 7pm every night and a matinee at 3pm on Saturday.
Tickets are available now from the Queen's Hall 01434 652 477 or online from
Full Price £13.50, Concessions (OAPs and Under 16s) £12.00