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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Mitch's brand new show takes to the road. It's been a morbid time for "the country's leading musical satirist" (The Times); he's turned 47 - over the hill by anyone's standards - his personal life is in turmoil, and his childhood heroes are dropping like flies. At times like these, a man feels the Reaper creeping up on him… But is death anything to fear? And is it really the end? (Yes. Yes it is, sorry!) Mitch confronts his - and your - mortality with hilarious (and tuneful) consequences. Join him! It's time you're not getting back!
"Intelligent and funny writing both of music and gags... a must see show" One4Review
A stalwart of BBC Radio 4's 'Now Show' for more than a decade, Mitch has also presented many radio specials. Following on from the success of 'Mitch Benn Is The 37th Beatle', a further three specials on music icons Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Elvis have been broadcast - 'The Freewheelin' Mitch Benn', 'Mitch Benn Is The Fat Pink Duke' and 'Mitch Benn Has Left The Building'. He also co-presented with Harry Shearer BBC Radio 2's 'Anatomy Of A Guitar' and presented 'Spank The Plank' for BBC Radio 4. Most recently, in December 2016, he appeared on (and won) BBC1 television's 'Celebrity Mastermind'!
“Well crafted, well sung, his songs are just plain funny” The Guardian
Mitch is the author of two novels, 'Terra' and 'Terra's World' both published by Gollancz and co-author with Jon Holmes of 'The Twitter History Of The World' the paperback edition of which was published by Prion Books in September 2015
“Song after song of exquisitely crafted satire” The Scotsman
T.Rextasy have been performing all over the world for 25 years, a career that ironically out-lives Marc’s very own T.Rex. In 2017, the band returns to venues across the UK to transport audiences back to the 70s for the Marc Bolan 40th commemorative anniversary tour.
Marc Bolan, with his band T.Rex, was one of the most flamboyant and charismatic stars of the original glam rock era. With Bolan's special ingredient of Rock-a-Boogie songs throughout the 1970s including 'Telegram Sam' and 'Jeepster' he was able to obtain what would be yet another Top 20 record in 1976 that has since become one of the most memorable and everlasting signature tunes, 'I Love to Boogie'.
Accepted as the world’s only official live tribute band dedicated to Marc Bolan & T.Rex, and the only band endorsed and approved by Marc Bolan’s family, estate, original ex-members of T.Rex, and Bolan’s catalogue management, T.Rextasy have been described by many as ‘beyond the boundaries of tribute’.The skilled musicianship of Danielz (Vocals & Lead Guitar), Neil Cross (Rhythm Guitars, Backing Vocals), Rob Butterfield (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals) and John Skelton (Drums) lets the timeless music and legacy of Marc Bolan and T.Rex live on, performing everything from 20th Century Boy to Children of the Revolutionand Telegraph Sam to Hot Love with superb authenticity.
This full-on concert showcases all of the hits and more, with both electric and acoustic performances, faithfully recreating the energy and performance of Marc Bolan and T.Rex. Bringing audiences to their feet across the globe, the whole family will enjoy the experience of being transported back to the 70s to re-live the experience of attending a Marc Bolan concert live.
T*REXTASY - The Marc Bolan 40th Commemorative Anniversary Tour
The Customs House, South Shields – Friday 12th May 7.30pm
Tickets: £20.00*, Concessions £19.00*
* All orders will be subject to a fee of £2.00 Box Office: 0191 454 1234
ACCLAIMED DANCE COMPANY BALLETBOYZ® BRING NEW CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED PRODUCTION LIFE TO NEWCASTLE
BalletBoyz - Life
Newcastle Northern Stage
Thursday 6th – Saturday 8th April 2017
Following two hugely successful tours in spring and autumn 2016, BalletBoyz will return to the stage in 2017 with a third leg of their UK tour of Life.
Back by popular demand, the production received its world premiere at London’s Sadler’s Wells in April 2016 to widespread critical acclaim and initially toured over April and May. Following sell-out shows, Life. returned for a second leg in November 2016. Returning with a third UK leg this spring, the company will also embark on a North American and European tour in the New Year.
Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells in association with artsdepot, the show features an original score and the evening takes an elegant, powerful and provocative look at life and death, presented in BalletBoyz’ inimitable style. The show features commissions by Javier de Frutos and Pontus Lidberg.
The current BalletBoyz Company includes: Jordan Robson; Harry Price; Josh Wild; Marc Galvez; Simone Donati; Matthew Rees; Edward Pearce; Matthew Sandiford; Flavien Esmieu and Bradley Waller.
Humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. In order to survive they now live, in isolation, underground. All needs are serviced by a global machine which also facilitates communication between people.
The Machine Stops is based upon a science fiction short story by E. M. Forster which was first published in 1909. The story resonates in modern 2017 Britain as it predicted new technologies such as texting and the World Wide Web. The tale has been adapted for the stage by Neil Duffield. This fascinating tale feels very modern as we have the isolation that social media can create. There are the issues of false news being repeated, mindlessly, as fact without proper verification.
Vashti (Ricky Butt) lives in a bubble in which her many online friends, whom she never meets face to face, often repeat what she wants to hear.She lives in a hexagonal space, like a bee, and has her every need looked after by technology. The lack of natural light and fresh air is not an issue as she can make her space dark for sleep when she wants and she can attend or deliver web hosted lectures when she wakes up. Her entertainment, food and other needs are looked after by the machine so no longer does she need to move.
There is an environmental angle too as assumptions are made about the state of the Earth as a habitable planet.Having multiple generations living in this way and accepting the new way of live was, I felt, similar to the passengers on board of the Axiom spacecraft on the animation Wall-E.
Whilst Vashti is happy with her lot, her son Kuno (Rohan Nedd) has a rebellious streak. He wants to see if the outside world is that bad. The pod like existence means he has been allocated a space on the other side of the world which is connected by underground trains and a 2 day airship ride. The airship is one of the few elements feeling more like 1909 rather than 2017. Mother and son only stay in touch through web cams and texting.
Designer Rhys Jarman has created an intricate framework that has the honeycomb effect and doesn’t look strong enough to support someone’s weight and yet it carries both Maria Gray and Adam Slynn who are a part of the Machine. Their flexibility and strength makes the connecting and disconnecting look effortless.The lighting design picks out the action and becomes another character by flagging up what could be out there too.
The Machine Stops also features a brand new soundtrack composed by John Foxx, pioneer of electronic music and founder of Ultravox, and analogue synth specialist, Benge. The sounds fit the action and echo that bleakness which came from electronic artists in the late 70s/ early 80s - think along the lines of Kraftwerk, pre-Dare Human League or Tubeway Army.
The cast do a great job, under Juliet Forster’s direction, of maintaining both the pace and the pathos of the piece. The decision not to have an interval is a correct one in order to keep the momentum going. Ricky Butt is believable as a part of the system; the happy camper who accepts their lot in life. Rohan Nedd is perfectly cast as the faithful and yet inquisitive son.Despite the distance that technology and lifestyle create, there is an onstage chemistry in this powerful drama.
This play feels very deep yet highly engaging. Pilot Theatre, in association with the Theatre Royal York has created a superb commentary on technology. The show was really engaging and the reaction at the end as the lights went up was a large crowd really eager to talk to one another about their thoughts on the show - there was a real loud buzz at the end. The compelling tale is well worth seeking out.
The young dancers (aged 8 – 18) were nervous and excited as they warmed-up for the two auditions and the parents who watched the audition from the auditorium were equally as nervous as the young dancers! English Youth Ballet was looking for young dancers at the audition to join the company for a professional production of the ballet SwanLake.
Janet Lewis MBE, Director of English Youth Ballet said: “I am very pleased that English Youth Ballet is returning to the North East to audition for SwanLake – our most dramatic ballet. I will be looking for dancers who clearly enjoy their dancing. The audition is not all about getting the steps right. We look for dancers with personality and a positive approach. It is most rewarding to see the potential in the young dancers.”
Niamh Dunne - Photo: Ben Garner
The first young dancer through the doors to audition was Niamh Dunne (12) who attends St Robert of Newminster, Washington. Niamh who dances at Zazz, Houghton le Spring was successful at audition stage with English Youth Ballet last August for the production of Giselle which was presented in Newcastle.
When asked about the auditions Niamh said: “I am quite nervous. I do lots of dancing and ballet is my favorite, it is so graceful. I dance three times a week and also on a Sunday in preparation for a performance at Disneyland Paris”.
The young dancers selected at audition will take part in an intensive and rigorous rehearsal schedule for the production. They will rehearse for 10 days at weekends and after school. Rehearsals will take place at a local high school and the company use 3 large rehearsal spaces simultaneously. The young dancers are treated like professionals and each rehearsal starts with company warm-up class. Different rehearsals then take place in each of the 3 rehearsal spaces and then all the cast join each other for a run-through of everything learnt that day.
The cast are coached by EYB’s 8 international principal dancers who also dance the leading roles in the performances. The young dancers get a unique insight into the life of a professional ballet dancer.
Tickets for performances from Friday 16- Saturday17 June 2017are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland*
*Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.
A dilapidated tennis court; a reunion of two estranged sisters; the blackmailing nurse of their recently-deceased father; dark family secrets. Can a ghost story tell us anything about human nature?
In a departure from his more familiar comedies, Snake In The Grass sees Alan Ayckbourn turn his pen to a spooky exploration of the sibling rivalry between stringent Annabel and scatty Miriam, all unfolding in the garden of a macabre family home.
All of the trademarks that make Ayckbourn a master of his craft are here: the wry humour, a tight plot that twists and turns, and a fascination with loveless relationships. Add to these the unsettling influence exerted by an unseen character and you have a superbly engrossing mystery on your hands.
This rarely-performed gem by the master playwright is half black comedy, half psychological thriller.
Ayckbourn is undergoing something of a renaissance at the moment, with his latest play, a two-part, five-hour work called The Divide,forming the centrepiece of the upcoming Edinburgh International Festival.
A little nearer home, at the People’s they have something of a reputation for bringing plays to Newcastle that have never before been staged in the city. Snake In The Grass is just such a play and we’re proud to be giving this quirky and atypical piece from Ayckbourn’s (extensive!) back catalogue its debut in the Toon.
Snake In The Grass appears from Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 April 2017 at 7.30pmat The People’s Theatre, Stephenson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5QF
Tickets cost £13.50 (Concessions £11) and are available from the box office on 0191 265 5020 or online from www.peoplestheatre.co.uk