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Preview: ZIPP! at South Shields Customs House


South Shields Customs House
Tuesday 19th- Saturday 23rd September 2017

Writer, broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth has given his blessing to a production of his hit musical comedy at The Customs House.

Zipp! One Hundred Musicals for Less than the Price of One was conceived by Brandreth and stage director and choreographer StewartNicholls. It opened in 2002 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was followed by a West End stint and UK tour.

Melissa Cavanagh, Peter Grant, Chloe Hazel Oliver,

Rhys Chambers and Afnan Iftikhar.
It has now been revived by Ion Productions, in association with The Customs House, and rehearsals are well underway ahead of opening night on Tuesday 19th September.
A fantastic cast has been assembled for the show, including Afnan Iftikhar, from North Shields, who was a finalist in ITV’s Superstar, and Melissa Cavanagh, from Sunderland, who appeared on BBC’s The Voice UK.

TV and radio presenter and panto star Peter Grant, who lives in Durham, Rhys Chambers, from South Shields, and London-based Chloe Hazel Oliver complete the line-up.

Zipp! whizzes through over a century of Broadway and West Endmusicals in 100 minutes, including the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in 60 seconds.
Other musicals featured include West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Miss Saigon, Grease and The Rocky Horror Show. 

Melissa Cavanagh, Peter Grant, Chloe Hazel Oliver,
Afnan Iftikhar and Rhys Chambers look over their scripts during rehearsals.
Brandreth said: “When Zipp! first hit the stage, nobody knew what to expect. I don't know what to expect when this new production hits South Shields, but I'm excited.
“I've heard brilliant things about how it's shaping up and I think we're in for an evening of amazing music and a lot of laughter. The show is a celebration of the greatest musicals ever created - plus a couple you've never heard of. It's fast moving, funny and I'm thrilled it's being given new life by an exciting and innovative company that promises a unique night to remember. Who can resist the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in 60 seconds? When we opened in Edinburgh in 2002 Zipp! won the Audience Award as most popular show of the Festival. I'm hoping it's going to prove to be The Customs House's most popular show of the year.”

Gareth Hunter, artistic director of Ion Productions, has been keen to bring Zipp! to The Customs House for several years, after seeing the show himself.

He said: “It is a comedy musical revue, with a selection of songs from the musicals, but all done in a very zany, madcap and humorous way. There is nothing serious about the show. It is a really good fun night out, with songs that will stick in your head and laughs that will make your belly ache. There is a lot of banter with the audience and they are a big part of the show. A lot of it is quite spontaneous, so it is going to be different every night.”

Afnan graduated from Northumbria University with a first class honours degree in performance and went on to further his education in New York with the Broadway Artist’s Alliance. He has since worked professionally worldwide on both stage and screen.

Melissa was chosen by Boy George to be one of the 12 artists on his team on BBC’s The Voice UK in 2016. She now lives in London and is pursuing her love of singing and musical theatre.

Peter produces and presents The Week and Behind Closed Doors on Made in Tyne and Wear and is also a regular on BBC Radio Newcastle and Look North. He also has four professional pantomime appearances under his belt.

Melissa Cavanagh, Peter Grant, Chloe Hazel Oliver,
Rhys Chambers and Afnan Iftikhar.
Rhys is musical director at South Tyneside Academy of Musical Performance and a former member of The Waiters. He can play 17 instruments and is studying music at Durham University.

Chloe is a trained actress, puppeteer and singer with experience in movement and dance, most recently appearing in Naked Truth at the Leicester Square Theatre in London, which led to a UK tour.

Zipp! runs from Tuesday 19th- Saturday 23rd September, at 7.45pm, with a Thursday and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Tickets are priced £17, or £15 for Friends of The Customs House. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit

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