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Preview: Frankenstein 1899 at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Tyne Theatre & Opera House and Don’t Go Into The Cellar Theatre Company present:
Frankenstein 1899
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Saturday 9th September 2017 @7.30pm

The nineteenth century is drawing to an end, and a brave new world is set to dawn. But the new age of enlightenment and reason will soon be challenged, and scientific fact cast asunder, when the charismatic preacher, Frankenstein, shocks Britons to the core with his claims. For the Reverend can communicate with the dead, and those sceptics intolerant of his beliefs will soon pay for their blasphemy…

Acclaimed actor Jonathan Goodwin plays Frankenstein, and is joined by actress Amy Bullock, in a show directed by Gary Archer.

This event will take place on the Tyne Theatre & Opera House stage with audience seating on stage, therefore seating is unreserved and tickets are limited.

Please note that due to the nature of the show we cannot grant access to patrons with mobility issues. No Age Restrictions.

Tickets are priced £14, £12 concessions (Plus booking fees when booking online or over the phone) and are available from our afilliate Eventim.

Preview: The Vera Lynn Story at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Sincerely Yours -

The Vera Lynn Story
Whitley Bay Playhouse

Sunday 17th September 2017 - 2 pm

‘Keep smiling through just like you always do‘- Vera Lynn
Her fresh-faced girl-next door looks made Vera Lynn one of the darlings of the British Forces during the Second World War. Her greatest wartime hits were undoubtedly The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again although there are, of course, many more. Vera Lynn possessed a broad, sincere smile endearing herself to a generation of airmen, seamen and soldiers with an affection that did not wane after the war.
Endorsed by Dame Vera Lynn, SINCERELY YOURS - The VERA LYNN STORY will take you through the amazing life of the forces' sweetheart. With video screen footage and a 7 piece live band, this full matinee show will transport the audience back to the 1940s, complete with a special guest appearance from a George Formby act.

Tickets costing £18.50 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 our afilliate Eventim

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Preview: Ocean Film Festival World Tour at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Ocean Film Festival World Tour 2017

Whitley Bay Playhouse
Thursday 14th September 2017
7.30 pm

Whitley Bay Playhouse are pleased to announce the return of the Ocean Film Festival on Thursday 14th September 2017.

Photo: Perrin James
Calling all ocean lovers! The annual Ocean Film Festival is sweeping towards Whitley Bay with a brand new selection of the world’s most amazing ocean films, from both above and below the surface.

Brought to you by the team behind the Banff Film Festival UK Tour, this collection of short films celebrates divers, paddlers, surfers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray. Be wowed at the mind blowing marine life; exhilarated by the power of the waves, and inspired by the characters who dedicate their lives to answering the call of the ocean.
Tickets are now on sale costing £13, £11 conc.,

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 from: our afilliate Eventim

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

REVIEW: Dogfight at Durham Assembly Rooms Theatre

Durham Assembly Rooms Theatre
Until Saturday 2nd September 2017.

Music & Lyrics:                                Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Book:                                               Peter Duchan

Director & Choreographer:         Anna Besford-Smith
Musical director:                           Amy Robson

We love the brave decision when a theatre company decides to do a new musical rather than one of the familiar pot boilers.

Dogfight is based upon the 1991 film of the same name. No, we don’t remember the film either. However, the topic of lads on “shore leave” before going into action is not a new one for the movies. The musical got good reviews during its 2012 Off-Broadway and 2014 Southwark Broadway runs. The cast recording has many positive comments on Amazon too. So, in a fairly quiet week for theatre, we headed off to the Durham Theatre.

It is 1963 and Eddie Birdlace (Luke Henderson) finds himself with one night in San Fransisco before being shipped out to Viet Nam first thing the following morning. Along with Bernstein (Kyle Potter), Boland (Adam Donaldson) and others, he decides to make the most of it before heading into the unknown theatre of conflict. The lads want a drink, to be competitive, find female companionship and build bonds between the comrades.

They meet up with the innocent music lover Rose (Amber Cox) and the much more street-wise Marcy (Anna Besford-Smith).

This was the first night and the first act had numerous problems with the sound but the situation was greatly improved in the second half. It was during the second half when we get to hear some great songs by Pasek & Paul. Amber Cox, in particular, had a chance to shine - both as a singer and as the really spunky character Rose. 

There was an authenticity to the young age of the Jarheadsas Paul Hardcastle reminded us in his 80s hit - the average age of the combat soldier in Viet Nam was 19. Too often these roles get cast to older actors. Having said that, the story struggles to show any comradeship or chemistry between the new marines. With the exception of Rose and Birdlace, it is difficult to actually like any of the people and this lack of empathy can be off putting.

Amy Robson led a good group of musicians that skilfully accompanied the singers and were consistent throughout the show.

Dogfight is an interesting musical for those who love seeing new works. Now the first night nerves are out of the way it is clear from the second act that this show will improve as the run continues.

Review: Stephen Oliver



Preview: Jason Cook’s Comedy Club at South Shields Customs House


Jason Cook’s Comedy Club
South Shields Customs House
Saturday 2nd September 2017

After a busy summer, Jason Cook is returning to the helm of his comedy club at The Customs House this weekend.

As well as performing in and overseeing the South Tyneside Comedy Festival, the comedian and writer has been working on Murder on the Blackpool Express for UKTV comedy channel GOLD.

Steffen Peddie as ‘Dekkka Trump’ on stage

with Jason Cook
Jason Cook’s Comedy Club returns on Saturday 2nd September, and Jason will be joined on stage by Nick Cranston, Steffen Peddie as ‘Dekkka Trump’ and Jarred Christmas.

He said: “After our summer break the comedy club is back with one of our best line-ups ever!  First up is Nick Cranston, a local lad who's been going great guns and one I've been hoping to book for the club for a long time. In the middle there will be the return of one of our favourite guests, local councillor and cousin of Donald Trump, Tyneside’s own Dekkka Trump.  

Jarred Christmas
“Dekkka has the unusual habit of having political scandals swirl around him almost exactly the same as his cousin, but on a much more regional level, so it'll be interesting to see what’s happened to him over the summer. And closing I have managed to get New Zealand's very own Jarred Christmas. I've worked at all the biggest festivals in the world with Jarred and he's a comic who just whips up a room and blows the roof off.  I've never been less than in awe of the things he's able to do with a crowd so I'm beyond chuffed that he's come to the club.”

Nick Cranston
Jason performed with Chris Ramsey, Sarah Millican and the Geordie Rat Pack during the South Tyneside Comedy Festival this year, which saw 14 acts take to the stage throughout July and August for the second annual event at The Customs House.

The line-up also included Ray Spencer and Bob Stott, Rory Bremner, Adam Rowe, The Mimic Men, Jo Caulfield, Ed Gamble, Stephen K Amos, Carl Hutchinson, Peter Brush, Steffen Peddie and Pete Firman.

He said: “The comedy festival this year exceeded all expectations and we saw thousands of people flock to The Customs House to support what we were doing.  And with a line-up of the biggest stars in stand-up, it's proof that the festival is here to stay and we're looking forward to building on what we have now.”

Jason Cook’s Comedy Club takes place on the first Saturday of the month and the show starts at 7.45pm, with a recommended age of 16-plus.
Tickets are £9.50 and available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

Preview: Forgotten Broadway at South Shields Customs House


Forgotten Broadway
South Shields Customs House
Sunday 3rd September 2017

A musical tribute to a much-loved theatre director has attracted stars of stage and screen to perform in support of two local charities.

Jackie Fielding
Forgotten Broadway is the title of this year’s fundraiser in aid of The Jackie Fielding Trust and The Customs House Trust. It takes place on Sunday 3rd September at 7pm at The Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, where Jackie Fielding oversaw many popular productions.

Among the acts lined up to perform are West End actors Jamie Birkett and Alice Stokoe, The Voice’s Melissa Cavanagh, The Customs House panto favourites Steven Lee Hamilton and David John Hopper and local singing group Encore.

Jen Stevens, Angela Hannon, Rosie Ramsey, Louise Gray, Lauren Gordon, Bethan Amber Carr-Brown and South Tyneside Dance Workshop will also appear and the evening will be compered by Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House.

Gareth Hunter, artistic director of Ion Productions, who has put the show together, said: “The show will feature lesser known, newer or forgotten musical theatre songs with something for everyone. There is a fantastic line-up of people giving us their time and to add to the music, Ray Spencer will be on hand to guide us through the evening in his own unique style. There are two great charities being supported on the evening and it would be great if we got a good turnout.”

The Jackie Fielding Trust was launched last year to help young people from the north east pursue a career in the performing arts, awarding a total of £2,000 in its first year.

Gareth added: “Jackie was well-respected and critically-acclaimed as both an actress and a director. She was someone always willing to lend a hand to help others, whether it was an upcoming actor, a new writer or just a friend in need.”

Jackie was renowned for her unwavering support, advocacy and development of emerging artists in the north east, many of whom have since gone on to carve out successful careers in their chosen genres.

Jackie, who lived in South Shields but was originally from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, died in May 2015, after suffering a brain aneurysm while working on The Man and the Donkey at The Customs House.

She studied drama at Manchester University before attending the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, which she would not have been able to do without the help of state funding. For this reason, her family and friends were keen to raise money in her memory to support young people from the north east in need of funding towards training fees for musical theatre, dance and acting courses.

Tickets for Forgotten Broadway are priced from £15. Contact the box office on (0191) 455 1234 or book online at
The trustees of The Jackie Fielding Trust have also set up a JustGiving page for those who can’t make the show, but would still like to donate. It can be found at

Preview: Cinderella at Whitley Bay Playhouse


Whitley Bay Playhouse
Saturday 2nd December 2017Sunday 7th January 2018

Steve Walls & Ray Quinn
X Factor Finalist and West End performer Ray Quinn will headline this year's
Pantomime Cinderella at the Playhouse in Whitley Bay. Ray will play the part of Prince Charming the lovable prince who rescues Cinderella from her Ugly Sisters at Hardup Hall.

Ray joins the hugely popular local funny guy Steve Walls who returns to the
Playhouse for his eighth year in Panto playing the part of Buttons.

Producer Gary Telfer said: “We can’t wait to produce Cinderella’ this year, it is without a doubt the most popular and traditional pantomime of them all its every girl's dream to be like Cinderella. This year is going to be our biggest and best year ever and we are thrilled to have signed such a high-quality performer as Ray Quinn, Ray is extremely popular as well as being a fantastic performer he has performed in many musicals up and down the country including Grease in London’s West End”

Ray Quinn
Ray can currently be seen in a number 1 tour of the Wedding Singer, which is touring the UK and has been to the Sunderland Empire. The Playhouse pantomime attracts more and more popular each year, in fact, most of the shows sold out last year. We are keen to continue building the reputation that we have built in Whitley Bay, which has grown dramatically over the last 5 years. Last year we catered for almost 5000 extra people than in 2015.

This year’s run has been extended by a full week, there will be 67 action-packed performances of Cinderella’at the Playhouse, Whitley Bay from 2nd December 2017 – 7th January 2018.

Tickets are on sale now and already selling fast. Call the Playhouse Box Office on 0844 248 1588 or book online: Tickets from our afilliate Eventim.

Preview: Lambton Worm at South Shields Customs House

The Lambton Worm

South Shields Customs House

Tuesday 28th November 2017 - Saturday 6th January 2018

The Customs House is delighted to announce the full cast for this year’s panto.
Hot on the heels of the hugely successful Jack and the Beanstalk, Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson have written a very special pantomime to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the best-loved Geordie folk song, The Lambton Worm.

Ray Spencer as Dame Bella Ballcock and

David John Hopper as Arbuthnot Hopper.
See The Brave and Bold Sir John battle the monster, save the day and win the heart of the beautiful princess, while wacky castle cook Dame Bella Ballcock and her useless son, Arbuthnot Hopper, wreak mayhem and run rings around Lord Larry Lambton.

This well-known north east tale will be brought to life in The Little Panto with the Big Heart’s fun-filled traditional pantomime, which runs from Tuesday, November 28, 2017, until Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Ray, who also directs the show, has been part of The Customs House pantomime for over 20 years, starting out as Tommy the Trumpeter and in the last three years, firmly establishing himself as one of the region’s most loveable Dames.  This year he takes on the role of Dame Bella Ballcock, forming a formidable double act with David John Hopper, who returns for a second year of playing the Dame’s hapless son, Arbuthnot Hopper.

Steven Lee Hamilton plays The Brave and Bold Sir John, returning to the role of principal boy for the first time in three years, during which time he instead played The Big Bad Wolf, The Mad Hatter and the most hated villain of all, Fleshcreep.

Comedian Cal Halbert – one half of Britain’s Got Talent’s The Mimic Men with BBC Radio Newcastle’s Alfie Joey – takes on the role of Lord Larry Lambton in his first north east panto.

Georgia Nicholson returns to The Customs House stage as Poison Pen from Penshaw, having appeared in The Dolly Mixtures and The Cinder Path.
Natasha Haws will play the soothsayer in her fourth pantomime appearance, having previously played Little Red Riding Hood, Alice and Eloise. Lewis Jobson, a newcomer to The Customs House panto, has been cast as Puddles the dog, while last year’s fairy, Eleanor Chaganis, will play the princess.
Gareth Hunter also returns to the pantomime as The Sultan, having played various characters over the years. He is well known to The Customs House audiences as a member of Encore, as well as a producer and director in his own right.

Designers Paul Shriek and Matt Fox are once again working their magic on the costumes and the sets and South Tyneside Dance Workshop will be providing the young dancers.

More than 27,000 people came to see Jack and the Beanstalk last year and it’s hoped that The Lambton Worm, sponsored by Hays Travel, can build on that success.

For tickets, priced from £9.99, and show times, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit


REVIEW: History of Mystery in Newcastle


The Magical Mystery Tour


A History of Mystery in Newcastle

Tyne Idols Bus Tour with Chris Cross
Thursday 24th August 2017

Chris Cross
Photo: Carliol Photography

Local magician Chris Cross conducts a tour looking at the history of magic in Newcastle. With a little help from his friends, the tour leads to private after-hours tours of landmarks such as the Castle Keep and the Tyne Theatre. Add a number of magic tricks over the 3.5 hour trip and you have ‘A History of Mystery in Newcastle.’


We boarded the double decker bus on Bewick Street and each group had been allocated seats. This stopped a mad scramble to get on board. The bus itself, painted in the old yellow livery of Newcastle Busways, had an interior covered in Tyneside film and music memorabilia. We had enjoyed an evening with Simon Donald (Him Off the Viz) at the back of the bus, this time we were near the front. We’re happy to report that the sound system is the same at both ends of the bus - loud enough.


Chris Cross has just published his book the “Geordie Book of Magic” and he was keen to show a trick from his book as the bus pulled away. It was the first of many.


In the prison of the Castle Keep
Photo: Carliol Photography

Our first stop was the Newcastle Keep which had been especially opened for the tour. This was a rare chance to visit the historic location at dusk. We entered the jail cell that was originally used to hold the witches in the 1640s before they were hung on the town moor. One of the castle’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides told us tales of witchfinders and mass hangings. This was the subject of the play Wytch was performed in this very castle.


The tour headed up to the chapel and we were to find out about the necromancer ‘Black Jack Johnson’ who used ‘black magic’ to do fortune telling and claiming to talk to the dead. These tales were put into the context of development of the city as a whole.


Chris Cross
Photo: Carliol Photography

A climb to the Great Hall was a chance for Chris to retell the story about the visit of Erik Weisz, aka the infamous Harry Houdini, to Newcastle. This was the dawn of the era of PR and publicity stunts. This was a chance for Chris to escape from a straight jacket in a record time with the assistance of some members of the tour. Each trick Chris performs is with good humour and professionalism.


Chris Cross
Photo: Carliol Photography

Finally we had a chance to go on the roof and see the fabulous view of Newcastle. This was a great photo opportunity and many selfies were taken. Quite a few people said they had never visited the Keep and it is one venue which is worth another visit.


After a brief use of the facilities at The Bridge Hotel we headed to the Town Moor. Historically this was not just the sight of the mass hangings but it was also the place showmen would set up in later years. Indeed the Chinese State Circus were on the site as we arrived.


Iain J. Maindwraith
Photo: Carliol Photography

Another of Chris’ guests took over as Iain J. Mindwraith described the role of the Snake Oil Sellers and the performers who would encourage people to enter the tents of the various side shows that would accompany the circus or the travelling fairs. He performed a trick with 2 lethal looking animal traps. I was asked to help out - the last time that had happened I had to do a card trick on stage with Paul Daniels. Just like with Paul, even though I was very close to the action I have no idea how Iain didn’t injure himself.


Rosy Bloomers
Photo: Carliol Photography

The bus then headed off to the Tyne Theatre & Opera House which is celebrating its 150thanniversary - Chris is going to be using the venue for his variety show The Greatest Show On The Tyne on the 6thOctober. Two of the theatre guides took us on a tour of the venue. Established by the industrialist Joseph Cowan, the theatre was built to entertain working people. Its original bills were full of variety acts and magicians.


We headed under the stage of the grade-1 listed theatre. By a quirk of fate the theatre was converted into a cinema in 1919 but this meant the original wooden machinery was left in place rather than being modernised. Indeed it is all still there and in working order. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact the rehearsals for West Side Story were taking place above us and we could hear the feet of the dancers landing on the stage in unison on a regular basis.


Rosy Bloomers
Photo: Carliol Photography

The rehearsal finished and so we went on stage to stand in the wings and get a performers view of Rosy Bloomers doing her act with her hoops. For many on the trip this would be the first time on stage under the lights. As Chris says: you don’t get much of a view of the audience when the auditorium lights are dropped and the spotlight is on you. Rosy was fabulous with her routine.


The bus then headed down to the Quayside for a few final card tricks and photos before returning to the starting point. Chris also played an interview with Paul Daniels on his opinions about magic tricks in the modern era.


Chris Cross
Photo: Carliol Photography

The trip was 3.5 hours long and we had a chance to witness a number of performers doing their routines and visit 2 historic locations. This was great value for the £10 asking price. With a double decker bus and 2 listed building tours, there are a lot of steps involved but regular pauses on each tour made it easy work if you’re reasonably fit.


Chris is a personable professional entertainer who is clearly passionate about variety shows. His show at the Tyne Theatre will be worth checking out. The Tyne Idols team are very friendly and helpful and look after the passengers very well. This was a very pleasant night out.


Review by Stephen Oliver.


Forthcoming Events:

Chris Cross

Live at the Tyne & Chris Cross present: “The Greatest Show on the Tyne

Fri 6th Oct 2017 at the Tyne Theatre - Details:

Tyne Idols Bus Tours

NewcastleGateshead Tour with Ray Laidlaw - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

'Gob on the Tyne' Punk Tour with Keith Newman - Friday, September 29, 2017

Coastal Heroes Tour with Ray Laidlaw - Wednesday, October 4, 2017 and Sunday, November 12, 2017