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Preview: Young Frankenstein at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Young Frankenstein
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Saturday 26th August – Saturday 9th September 2017

Legendary filmmaker and comedian Mel Brooks is bringing his new musical Young Frankenstein exclusively to Newcastle Theatre Royal ahead of its West End premier.  North East folk will be able to see the monster musical comedy and its all-star cast first before anyone else for two weeks only: Saturday 26thAugust – Saturday 9th September 2017.  Do not miss!

Local lad and comedy hero Ross Noble and screen stars Lesley Joseph and Hadley Fraser will lead the cast of the brand new all-singing all-dancing extravaganza, which is based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit movie of the same name.  The show will run for two weeks in Newcastle as a ‘pre-West End’ season before it opens at London’s Garrick Theatre in late September.

Summer Strallen also stars in the show.  Sister of Zizzi (Mary Poppins) and niece of Bonnie Langford, audiences will likewise recognize her from Live Theatre’s Flying into Daylight and Paradise Moscow at the Theatre Royal in 2009. Dianne Pilkington (Wicked), and Patrick Clancy (The Producers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) will also feature.

Hadley Fraser will play the title role of Dr Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and immortalised by Gene Wilder in the 1974 movie. Hadley’s widely acclaimed stage credits include Marius in the West End production of Les Miserables, a show to which he returned in the role of Javert. He was in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company for The Winter’s Tale & Harlequinade at the Garrick Theatre and starred alongside Tom Hiddleston in the Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus, and performed there again in City of Angels, The Voteand Saint Joan.

Cramlington lad Ross Noble will play the hilarious role of the hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant Igor. Ross is one of the UK’s most original and exciting performers: a stand-up comedian since the age of 15, his countless accolades include Time Out award winner for best live stand-up, Barry Award winner, Perrier Award nominee and several Chortle Awards. Unveiling a new sell-out show every year for the last 20 years, Ross is one of the most successful comedians of our time exuding an on-stage presence unlike any other.

Ross' worldwide travel as a stand-up was the subject of his own BBC Radio 4 programmes, Ross Noble Goes Global and Ross Noble On. He is a regular guest star on TV programmes including Live at the Apollo, QI, Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and he has made 19 appearances on Have I Got News for You.  
Lesley Joseph is Frau Blucher, the forbidding housekeeper to the Frankenstein family estate in Transylvania. Lesley is best known for playing Dorien Green, the neighbour from hell, in the ITV1 sitcom Birds of a Feather. Having recorded over one hundred episodes, Dorien became a national institution, with the show watched at its height by 23 million people. Lesley has a wealth of theatrical experience to her credit; most recently in the 2016 UK tour of Annie, in which she played the role of Miss Hannigan. In 2016, Lesley donned her dancing shoes and sequinned dresses as one of the contestants in Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Anton du Beke.

Young Frankenstein, the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic, sees Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherit a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his deranged genius grandfather, Victor Von Frankenstein.  He now faces a dilemma - does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga?

Based on the hilarious 1974 film and co-written with Thomas Meehan, Brooks will once again collaborate with Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman for this all-singing all-dancing new production, bringing his and Gene Wilder’s classic movie to life on stage.

The company will include Imogen Brooke, Matt Crandon, Nathan Elwick, Kelly Ewins-Prouse, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Sammy Kelly, Richard Pitt, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Gemma Scholes, Emily Squibb, Aron Wild and Josh Wilmott.

Young Frankenstein is produced by Mel Brooks, Michael Harrison and Fiery Angel.

The pre-West End season of Young Frankenstein is at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Sat 26 August until Sat 9 September 2017, playing evenings Tue – Sat at 7.30pm, matinees on Sat 2.30pm(not 26 Aug) & Thu 7 Sep 2pm. Tickets from £19.50.  Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at

Preview: Simon And Garfunkel Story at Newcastle City Hall

The Simon And Garfunkel Story
50thAnniversary Celebration 
Newcastle City Hall 
Wednesday 14th June 2017

Has it really been 50 years since the most successful Folk/Rock Duo of all time recorded their first no1 hit single 'The Sound of Silence'?

Following it’s West End success at the ‘Leicester Square Theatre’, London, ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story' is currently the biggest and the most successful No 1 International touring theatre show celebrating the lives and career of Folk/Rock sensation Simon and Garfunkel.

Featuring a full cast of talented West End actor- musicians, 'The Simon and Garfunkel Story' takes you back through the 'Groovy' times of the 1960s. It tells the story of both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel from their humble beginnings as Rock n Roll duo 'Tom and Jerry', right through their massive success, dramatic break-up and finishing with a stunning recreation of the 1981 Central Park reformation concert.

Using a huge projection screen, the show features 1960’s photos and film footage whilst a full live band perform all their hits including 'Mrs Robinson', 'Cecilia', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Homeward Bound', 'Sound of Silence' and many more!

With every performance creating a standing ovation, this is an evening not to be missed!
“AMAZING” - Elaine Paige, BBCRadio 2
“A REAL TREAT” - The Metro

Box Office - 0844 811 2121or online at

Preview: David Walliams’ Awful Auntie at Sunderland Empire

The UK’s best-selling children’s paperback of
2016 comes to the Sunderland Empire stage in 2018!

David Walliams’ Awful Auntie
Sunderland Empire
Thursday 28th June – Sunday 1st July 2018

The Birmingham Stage Company are delighted to announce that the world premiere of David Walliams’ Awful Auntie will open at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham this September prior to an eighteen-month UK tour, with a date at Sunderland Empire from Thursday 28th June – Sunday 1st July 2018.

Awful Auntie follows the BSC’s record-breaking tour of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny which recently had a triumphant run at Sunderland Empire as part of a fifty-week tour of the UK. Following its current tour Gangsta Granny will transfer to the West End for a summer season at The Garrick from 26 July to 3 September.

David Walliams said: "The Birmingham Stage Company's Gangsta Granny is truly brilliant, so I’m hugely excited that they’re now bringing Awful Auntie to the stage. It promises to be a thrilling show and a total hoot - Wagnar the owl and I can’t wait to see it!”

Awful Auntie was published in September 2014 and went to No.1 in the children’s book chart for seven weeks. The paperback was published in February 2016 and sold 212,000 copies, making it the best-selling children’s paperback of the year. Combined sales of the hardback and paperback have reached over a million copies. It has helped to make Walliams one of the country’s best-selling children’s authors, with four of his books charting in the 2016 children’s top ten. They have also been translated into over 50 languages, bringing worldwide sales to 16.7 million.

Walliams began his publishing career at Harper Collins in 2008 with his debut novel The Boy in the Dress. Since then he has written nine more books plus five picture books. Three of his books have won National Children’s Book Awards.

Awful Auntie tells the story of Stella, who when she sets off to visit London with her parents has no idea her life is in danger. Waking up from a coma three months later, only her Aunt Alberta can tell Stella what has happened. But not everything Aunt Alberta tells her turns out to be true and Stella quickly discovers she’s in for the fight of her life against her very own awful Auntie. David Williams’ amazing tale of frights, fights and friendship features a very large owl, a very small ghost and a very awful Auntie!

Awful Auntie will mark the Birmingham Stage Company’s 25th anniversary. Starting life at The Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham, the company’s productions now regularly visit Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore. For twelve years they have produced all the Horrible Histories stage shows which now regularly feature in the West End.

Families around the country will not want to miss Awful Auntie, which promises to be awfully thrilling fun for everyone over 5!

Twitter @_AwfulAuntie

Tickets now on sale to ATG Theatre Card and are on general sale from 10am, Friday 2 June.

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or *calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.


Preview: Sunset Boulevard at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Danny Mac To Star In Sunset Boulevard At Newcastle Theatre Royal
Sunset Boulevard
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Monday 9th – Saturday 14th October 2017
Danny Mac is to star as Joe Gillis in the forthcoming UK and Ireland tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical Sunset Boulevard playing Newcastle Theatre Royal Monday 9thSaturday 14th October 2017.

He joins the previously announced Ria Jones who takes the role of Norma Desmond.

Danny Mac
Most recently Danny Mac captured the nation’s hearts and received overwhelming support during his incredible time on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing making it all the way to the final. This month he stars as Gabey in On The Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His other musical theatre credits include Wicked and Legally Blonde.

One of the all-time great musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award®-winning (Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical) masterpiece Sunset Boulevard is a compelling story of romance and obsession, based on Billy Wilder’s legendary film, with Don Black and Christopher Hampton's wonderful book and lyrics. This much-loved score includes the title number Sunset Boulevard, With One Look, As If We Never Said Goodbye, The Greatest Star Of All and The Perfect Year and will be performed by a full orchestra.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style.  Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.
Sunset Boulevard plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal Monday 9thSaturday 14th October 2017.  Tickets are from £17.50 and can be purchased at from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).

Workshops: A Song for Ella Grey

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A Song for Ella Grey

Free summer opportunity for 16-21 year olds to take part in new stage adaptation of David Almond’s award-winning young adult novel

Creative team with young people at Ella Grey workshop
Photo: Mark Savage
A brand new production of David Almond’s award-winning young adult novel A Song for Ella Grey will premiere in Newcastle (5th– 16th September) before touring. Adapted for the stage by David Almond and directed by Northern Stage Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, the creative team will create the show with the help of more than 100 young people from across the North East.

David Almond joins vocal session with Amy Cameron
Photo: Mark Savage
In July and August, Northern Stage is offering 16-21 year olds the chance to work with the professional creative team in a series of free workshops to create film, movement and sound for the show. Each week, participants will develop skills including performance, film making, voice, movement and writing, creating material and then capturing all the magic on film and audio which will be incorporated into the production.

Movement Director Martin Hylton
Photo: Mark Savage
19 year old Jack Young from South Shields explained why he’s signed up for the workshops this summer. “With Northern Stage’s Young Company I’m doing things I wouldn't normally do. The movement sessions surprised me, I was much more interested than I thought I would be. I felt included, if that makes sense? From the sessions over the summer I want to get a new perspective on how I work in an ensemble, that professional approach to making work.

Jemma Martin from Birtley, also aged 19, added, “My experience so far has been in a classroom. I want to work with other people, to explore work outside of a school situation.

David Almond's story sets the Orpheus myth in teenage Tyneside. Travelling from the beaches of Bamburgh to the bridges of Ouseburn, A Song for Ella Grey is a wild and darkly romantic story about the seductive power and pain of being sixteen and in love.

Mariam Rezaie on the right leads vocal
session for A Song for Ella Grey
Photo: Mark Savage
Hailed as one of the most important writers for this generation of young people, Tyneside author David Almond is the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Whitbread Book Award, Newbery Medal and, most recently, the Guardian children’s fiction prize. Previous stage adaptations include Skelligat Sage Gateshead, Heaven Eyes at Washington Arts Centre and Miracle!An Opera of Two Halves at Sunderland Minster.

The creative team includes Northern Stage Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, choreographers Martin and Debbie Hylton and musician/composer Mariam Rezaei. The cast is to be announced later.

How do I get involved?

A Song for Ella Grey opens in Newcastle in September 2017. For more information or to book tickets for the show when they go on sale in June visit or call 0191 230


Preview: Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards at Darlington’s Central Hall


Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards
Darlington’s Central Hall
Tuesday 13th June 2017

Unique British sporting hero Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards comes to Darlington’s Central Hall on Tuesday 13th June to talk about his incredible life.

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is a unique British sporting hero with an incredible story to tell. The world’s ninth-fastest amateur downhill speed skier went on to become Great Britain’s first Olympic (self-taught!) Ski-Jumper, who missed out on medals by some distance, but won the hearts of the nation with his plucky, positive attitude and down-to-earth persona and emerged as a star of the Calgary ’88 Winter Olympics, returning to Britain as an overnight sporting celebrity.

In Try Hard, Eddie talks through his incredible life-journey; from self-learning ski-jumping and being shunned by the sporting establishment, to the extensive surgery to rebuild his face and body following years of spectacular crashes on the snow as he set out to break world-records in stunt jumping and speed-skiing. From bankruptcy through trustees’ mismanagement, to gaining a law degree, what will shine through is the steely resilience of a fearless man determined to overcome huge sporting and life hurdles.

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards – Try Hard comes to Central Hall, Dolphin Centre, Darlington on Tuesday 13 June at 7.30pm.

Tickets* £16

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 405405 or visit 

*Includes £1 restoration levy

REVIEW: Ned Corvan’s Music Hall at New Hartley Welfare Hall

The Lion of Tyneside Returns With A Roar

Ned Corvan’s Music Hall
New Hartley Welfare Hall
29th May 2017 and then on tour across the North East

Fresh on the heels of the success of Hadaway Harry, writer Ed Waugh celebrates another North East Hero Ned Corvan. It is another fast paced, fact filled, emotional rollercoaster. Ned Corvan is another crowd pleaser that deserves to play to packed houses as it tours around the North East.

Photo: Ewan Waugh
Today we have the means to record our musicians so their performances live with us for many years after they’re gone. Born in 1827, Ned Corvan’s time was before such a record could be made. As with many musical hall acts and stage actors, their popularity waned and they soon became forgotten heroes. Yet in the mid 19thcentury they would pack the new music halls. Literally thousands would flock to see them. Why are they relevant in 2017? In Ned Corvan’s case: his songs are a record of North East life at the time. He sang about the struggles of the working class and how they were oppressed by the ruling class. You could argue 2017 is a perfect time to re-visit these topics and compare them with our current society.

Ned was a political animal. He was not afraid to sing about the poor treatment of the bereaved families after a pit disaster or the need for sailors to strike for a living wage.  He argued no one should have to choose between feeding the children and paying the rent. He also protested about how town planners were ripping down Newcastle’s landmarks in order to build contemporary replacements.

Ned captured life in this region at the time. The downside to this was his songs lost their relevance outside of the area. Add the use of the Geordie vernacular and Ned was never going to make it big in London. However in the North East he crafted over 120 songs, which were published at the time, and 22 appear in this play.

Chris Connel
His material also reflects Tyneside’s humour. Ed Waugh has done well to draw out this engaging level of fun throughout the play making the show very accessible.

Two of Tyneside’s most engaging actors, Chris Connel and Jamie Brown play Ned through the ages. They are not afraid to break the fourth wall and get the audience involved, just like good folk music should.

Photo: Ewan Waugh
In the first act Jamie Brown plays Young Ned, with Chris in a mainly narrating role. In the second act Chris plays the older Ned with Jamie filling in the exposition. Whilst both gentleman are great performers and do well to fill the room with their songs, neither appears to be a fiddle player.  The Bellowhead’s Rachael McShane is an accomplished musician and she plays violin live on stage throughout the show.

Jamie Brown
We are fans of the previous work of Jamie, in for example Hadaway Harry and TestingTimes, and Chris in Wet House and Each Piece.  This show is another cracker that show the virtuosity of these two great actors. They work hard and bring the audience quickly on board.  When the lighting failed for a few moments, Chris stayed in character and kept the show going by ad-libbing and showing his professionalism. Rachael, too, kept playing in the dark.

Rachael McShane
Director Gareth Tudor-Price has ensured the tale is well paced as it goes from Ned’s youth to his eventual demise. There is sufficient explanation to make the story accessible. The idea of the factory owners hiring an armed militia to prevent the collective strength of the workers may seem foreign to us now. The struggles of keeping a relationship, or a business going, less so.

Ned now has a blue plaque on the central station, near the location of Ned’s many triumphs. At long last his body of work is receiving some recognition. Ed Waugh has already announced that 2018 will bring a show about the ‘Bard of Tyneside’ Joe Wilson. We look forward to that show too.

Ned Corvan’s Music Hall is a cracking, entertaining show which is still relevant today. Plenty of parallels can be drawn between this tale and modern life. Great acting and skilful musicianship combine to bring a fine story alive. This show is well worth catching as it continues to tour around the region.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

Tickets cost only £15. For regional dates and more information, including how to purchase Cat-Gut Jim  visit:

Tour schedule

May 2017

*additional 2.30pm matinee

Tuesday 30    Westovian Theatre,
South Shields  0191 424 7788
Wednesday 31*  Westovian Theatre,
South Shields  0191 424 7788

June 2017 

*additional 2.30pm matinee

Thursday 1    Sunderland Minster  0191 424 7788
Friday 2*       Sunderland Minster  0191 424 7788
Saturday 3*     Whitley Bay Playhouse 0844 248 1588
Tuesday 6    
Hartlepool Town Hall  01429 523 409
Wednesday 7    Alun Armstrong Theatre,
Stanley  01207 299 110
Thursday 8    The Maltings, Berwick   01289 330 999
Friday 9         The Sage,
Gateshead  0191 443 466
Saturday 10*   The Sage,
Gateshead  0191 443 466