Looking at theatre and the arts across North East England, the North East Theatre Guide continues to celebrate culture in our region.
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Preview: White Christmas at Newcastle Tyne Theatre
It may only be the very beginning of October, but already people are getting into the Christmas spirit with the first decorations, cards and sweet treats hitting the shop shelves. In one part of the North East, the mood has been decidedly Christmassy for months as members of Starlight Theatre Productions worked on their forthcoming show, White Christmas.
The well known show with a fabulous score by Irving Berlin including such memorable songs as Sisters, Blues Skies, Let Yourself Go, and of course the title song White Christmas, takes to the stage of the Tyne Theatre and Opera House from 22ndNovember.
The story centres around characters Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, a vaudeville act who serve in the army during WWII, return to ‘civvie street’ and, during a stint on the Ed Sullivan show, meet with the Haynes sisters. Phil deceives Bob and they end up in Vermont - with the girls. By coincidence, the boys’ army commander, General Waverley, owns the inn where they end up. It seems he was a better General than an innkeeper, so the quartet set out to save him from bankruptcy by staging a Broadway style production in his barn.
Rebecca Watson, Michael Brown, Lucy Sutton and James Forster
The talented cast assembled for the Newcastle production should get top marks for their performances as the four main characters are all teachers spending their working lives in a classroom but indulging their passion for musical theatre in their spare time. Michael Brown (Bob) is Deputy Head of Foreign Languages at John Spence Community High School in North Shields; James Forster (Phil) is a primary school teacher in Blaydon; Rebecca Watson (Betty) teaches music in South Shields and Lucy Sutton (Judy) is a drama tutor in Cramlington. Coincidentally Michael and Rebecca first met and became friends in a classroom more than 25 years ago when they were just 4 years old.
The part of General Waverly is played by builder Brian Barry and keeping him in line is Katie Howes as Martha Watson. Both have been regular principles on stages in Newcastle and across the region. Sharing the role of Susan, General Waverly’s granddaughter, are Abigail Ferguson who is 11 and ten year old Kady Martin. The youngest members of the cast, they are both passionate about dance and drama and are excited to be performing with Starlight for the very first time.
White Christmas is being directed by Val Shield. Val has a lifetime of experience on the stage herself and has performed many principle roles. She is an experienced choreographer too and only two years ago worked on White Christmas so she’s excited to be making her directing debut with the show in Newcastle.
“This is a wonderful, lively show and we’ve got a great cast,” explained Val. “It is packed with humour, pathos and of course a few misunderstandings along the way. There are some fantastic, high energy dance numbers, and with its universal appeal, it’s a wonderful show to help kick off the festive season in style for audiences of all ages.”7