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Preview: Spring Season at the Customs House


Singer Barbara Dickson, top comedian Jason Cook and Strictly Come Dancing’s Giovanni Pernice are among the highlights of an exciting new season at South Tyneside’s premier arts venue.

Customs House audiences are in for a treat as the programme for the next few months is packed with comedy, drama, dance and music.

Barbara Dickson
Scottish singer Barbara Dickson comes to the venue in Mill Dam, South Shields, in February to perform a wonderful range of her hit songs, while local comedian Jason Cook, writer of the hit BBC series Hebburn, has three dates at The Customs House. Jason will host his hugely popular Comedy Club on dates in March and April, while he’ll be bringing his new one-man show, An Idiot Speaks, to the stage on February 4th.

There is a particularly strong drama line-up in the new season, with some familiar faces and some new faces. Comedians Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball star in The Dressing Room, a comedy written by the latter and which also stars TV favourite Stu Francis. And there will be plenty of more laughs when Holmes and Watson: The Farewell Tour arrives in March. The comedy had a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe and promises an evening of ‘intrigue, amazement and amusement.’

Jason Cook
The programme features the premieres of two new shows – a musical based on the history and myths surrounding Marsden Rock, and a comedy thriller co-written by a former newspaper editor and the writer behind last year’s Customs House hit The Duke in the Cupboard.

The Rock has been written by David Cooke and Grahame Wright, the same team behind the award-winning Dance to Your Daddy and Dance Across the Tyne. The musical explores the legends behind one of South Tyneside’s most iconic landmarks. The Rock will be at the venue from Tuesday 7th March to Saturday 11th March.

Earlier in the year, Five Dead Nobodies, a thriller set in a local newspaper, will be staged. The play has been written by Susan Wear, who was nominated for North East Writer of the Year 2016 for the acclaimed The Duke in the Cupboard, and Rob Lawson, who edited The Shields Gazette for six years before moving on to edit The Sunderland Echo. The play is about the Tyneside Times, a local newspaper fighting for survival. The Editor realises what he needs is a strong news story to sell a few newspapers – something like a murder, or two. Five Dead Nobodies will be staged from Wednesday 15th February to Saturday 18th February.

Other theatre shows include a musical version of Great Expectations, thriller The Sound of Murder and Putting the Band Back Together, a moving musical which will include a house band of musicians who, for one reason or another, stopped playing.

Doddington the Cow
Doddington the Cow from this year’s hit pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, stars in her own show in February half-term. …And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, written by Ray Spencer, runs from 22nd to 24th February. There are another three shows specifically aimed at younger members of the audience; The University of Sunderland will present Seussical the Musical on 1st & 2nd March, while CBeebies favourites Chris and Pui will present their own show on Monday 10thApril, and The Panto Company presents The Little Mermaid on Sunday 23rdApril.

Meanwhile, some of the UK’s best tribute acts will be appearing at the venue, including Limehouse Lizzy, On Tour with Elvis, Counterfeit Sixties, Johnny Cash Roadshow, Bye Bye Baby, Kossoff, The Neil Diamond Rocks Tour and You’ve got a Friend, which features the music of James Taylor and Carole King.

Other live music highlights include ever-popular Irish duo Foster and Allen; the Pasadena Roof Orchestra; The Dublin Legends, The Big Chris Barber Band and Back in our Rock ‘n’ Roll Days, featuring original artist from the 1960s including Tell Him hit-maker Billie Davis.

Dance lovers have two particular treats to look forward to – Giselle, presented by Ballet Theatre UK (Saturday 25th February) and Dance is Life, presented and performed by Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice (Friday 28th April).

The South Tyneside International Magic Festival returns to the venue from Thursday 16th March to Sunday 19th March, while hypnotist Robert Temple and TV psychic Derek Acorah make their Customs House debuts.

Giovanni Pernice
Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “It’s a programme we’re proud to set before local and regional audiences and one I hope that will bring people back again and again to The Customs House.

“It’s great to host the premieres of two new shows written by South Tyneside writers and which feature such local settings.

“The programme is a super mix of home-grown talent and national stars, such as Barbara Dickson, Cannon and Ball and Giovanni Pernice. I’m looking forward to the new season and I hope our audiences are too.”

For more information on what’s on when at The Customs House, or to book tickets, log on to the venue’s new website at or call 0191 454 1234.

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