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REVIEW: ZIPP! at South Shields Customs House

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

Melissa Cavanagh with Chloe Hazel Oliver & Afnan Iftikhar

Photo: Shelley Punchon

Gyles Brandreth's script may not always quite hit the mark, but it's so admirably performed with such freshness and vigour that allows you to forget this show is technically fifteen years out of date. Gareth Hunter and his team have actually updated the 100+ list of numbers that form Zipp - a show that aims to perform the best bits of the best one hundred musicals out there- without compromising the linking narrative. So the new favourites are in.  

Chloe Hazel Oliver

Photo: Shelley Punchon

But the show really thrives on Hunter's masterful direction, drawing on his experiences of Encore and the Laffalangs to keep this myriad of styles and compositions consistently entertaining. Performers Afnan Iftikhar, Melissa Cavanagh and Chloe Hazel Oliver all have equal opportunity to show why they are so talented in this field. While each one is uniquely superb, their interactions showcase great on-stage chemistry. They are backed live by Musical Director Rhys Chambers who, ironically, really shines when he is isn't so expertly playing the grand piano. Tying the whole show together is narrator/ringmaster/M.C Peter Grant, who, although better known for broadcasting, certainly appears very much at ease on stage as well keeping the spectators at ease. 

Peter Grant

Photo: Shelley Punchon

It's not easy to define Zipp. Eclectic and silly, it is both tribute and send up of Musical Theatre. For some it is a chance to see any big West End hit without being in London. For others, it is an introduction to the genre. In all cases, it is incredibly amusing, and an extremely fun night out at our theatre.
Review by David Foster

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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