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News: Exciting Spring 2018 Programme at Newcastle’s Northern Stage

Exciting Spring 2018 Programme at Newcastle’s  Northern Stage

Tickets from £10, priority booking opens 2 November

The spring 2018 season at Northern Stage features ambitious new productions made in Newcastle, including the UK premiere of Sting’s The Last Ship, alongside new shows from some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative theatre companies. Plus comedy, dance, shows for children and young people and an eclectic programme in the intimate Stage 3 performance space.

A brand new production of Sting’s The Last Ship will open at Northern Stage (12 March – 7 April) before a national tour. Directed by Northern Stage Artistic Director Lorne Campbell and starring Jimmy Nail, Sting’s personal, political and passionate musical comes home to Newcastle in an epic tale of community, hope and a great act of collective defiance.

Lorne Campbell, Sting &
Jimmy Nail
Photo: Mark Savage
A Northern Stage production in association with Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker, The Last Ship tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the town's shipyard. Director Lorne Campbell says, “It is a great pleasure and a privilege to be bringing this new version of The Last Ship to Newcastle. Sting's score is steeped deep in the traditions of Northumbrian music and this epic story is fundamental to the identity of the people of the North East. This is a story of community, of resilience and how in even the very darkest of moments, hope and possibility re-main.”

Northern Stage has expanded its pioneering NORTH programme beyond actor training to include staging and touring a new production, offering four emerging actors from the North East the opportunity to perform professionally with the theatre in Spring 2018. The maiden production will be a new adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi story of survival, The War of the Worlds (31 Jan – 10 Feb), written by Laura Lindow (Key Change, Open Clasp) with sound design by Mariam Rezaei (A Song for Ella Grey, Northern Stage), and directed by Elayce Ismail, recipient of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme’s pilot Associate Director-ship to prepare directors for artistic leadership.

This vivid and dynamic new production relocates the story to the North East of England, where a band of sur-vivors confront a Martian invasion against the backdrop of 1898 Newcastle. Director Elayce Ismail explains, “Setting the story in the North East has given us a brilliant opportunity to reveal the secrets of this area and delve into its rich and evocative past. We’re really excited to be bringing this part of the world to life on stage for our audiences.”

Following on from the success of David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey in which more than 50 young people worked with the creative team to create a virtual Greek chorus, Northern Stage Young Company presents Where Do We Stand (25-28 April). Collectively written by a team of professional writers, and co-produced and co-authored by young people from across North East England, Where Do We Stand will combine spoken word, live music, physical and virtual landscapes to tell stories of what it is to live, work and dream in Newcastle in 2018. Led by Associate Director Louie Ingham, and thanks to funding awarded by the Clothworkers Foundation in 2016, Northern Stage has expanded Young Company to give more 16-21 year olds from disadvantaged communities open access to a diverse and innovative programme offering new opportunities to explore key roles and areas of theatre making through practical workshops in Theatre De-sign, Composition, Directing, Production and Stage Management.

Offbeat romantic comedy Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune (21 May - 2 June) will be directed by Northern Stage Associate Director Mark Calvert (James & the Giant Peach, Northern Stage). Written by American playwright Terrence McNally who also wrote the screenplay for the hit 1991 film starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, the play started life off-Broadway in 1987 and is an intimate look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance. Casting to be announced early 2018.

Hamlet - Photo: Manuel Harland
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will bring its acclaimed production of Hamlet to Northern Stage (20-24 February). Originally seen in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016, Hamlet will tour the UK before transferring to London’s Hackney Empire in March. Directed by Simon Godwin, the production will see RSC Associate Artist Paapa Essiedu reprise his award-winning performance in the title role as one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragic heroes. Paapa Essiedu won Best Performance in a Play at the UK Theatre Awards in 2016 for his role as Hamlet. Other RSC credits include Edmund in King Lear, Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Mouse and his Child. Additional theatre credits include King Lear (National Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Tobacco Factory) and he played Demetrius in Russell T Davies’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for BBC1 (2016).

Complicit√© present a reimagined version of A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer (7-10 February), a collaboration with performance artist Bryony Kimmings. Known for her unique take on taboo topics – from her sexual health (Sex Idiot), to her boyfriend’s depression (Fake It ’Til You Make It), Kimmings’ acclaimed collaboration with Complicit√© blows everything you think you know about cancer out of the water. Originally a co-production with the National Theatre in association with HOME Manchester, Kirsty Housley, Co-Director of The Encounter and long-term Complicit√© collaborator will direct, with writer Bryony Kimmings leading the company in this reworked production touring the UK before heading to Australia.

Black Men Walking (15-17 February) by writer and award-winning beat boxer Testament is the first national tour born from Revolution Mix - a three year movement to create and produce an ambitious body of work telling Black British stories. An Eclipse Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production, Dawn Walton will direct this story of a black men’s walking group in Sheffield.

Third Angel and Northern Stage present The Department of Distractions (2-10 February), a consipiracy theory documentary for the 21st century. Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal are co-producing a new adaption of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (1-5 May) by acclaimed writer Bryony Lavery. LIFT present Lola Arias’ Minefield (22-24 March) - a collaboratively created work with Falklands/Malvinas war veterans merging theatre and film. Javaad Alipoor brings The Believers Are But Brothers (14-16 June); this Fringe First award winning multi-media show exploring an online world of fantasy, gaming and extremism was a huge hit in the Northern Stage at Summerhall programme at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. And Phoenix Dance Com-pany celebrate the 70th anniversary of SS Empire Windrush’s arrival bringing the first Caribbean migrants to the UK with Windrush: Movement of the People (9-10 May).

For families and young people, Theatre Alibi’s The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon (6-7 April) features live music and puppetry to tell a fantastical story for 6-11 year olds from the novel by award-winning writer David Almond; Highly Sprung present Fall Out (13-14 March) - a high-energy physical theatre performance set in a nightclub for young people age 14+; Showstopper! (17 February) offer an afternoon family show of their must-see improvised musical; The Owl & the Pussycat (13-17 February) from Kitchen Zoo uses puppets and live music to bring to life an unexpected ted telling of Edward Lear’s classic tale for 3-7 year olds; and on the first Saturday of every month The Storyteller Chris Bostock shares stories from all over the world with children aged 5-8 and their grown-ups.

Ruby Wax
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Comedy, live music and spoken word includes Sophie Willan: Branded (15 March) - fresh from a sell to run at the Edinburgh Fringe Branded; Ruby Wax: Frazzled (20-21 April); Newcastle Poetry Festival (3-5 May); and Sunderland’s Mercury Prize Award-nominated Field Music launch their sixth album Open Here (2-3 February) with three specially staged shows at Northern Stage.

The Stage 3 programme will feature an eclectic mix of theatre, music, comedy, spoken word, poetry and scratch nights which will be announced later in the year.


Tickets for most shows start at £10 and will go on sale to members on 2 November and on general sale on 9 November. For full details or to book tickets see  or call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

Preview: The Last Ship at Newcastle Northern Stage


Jimmy Nail to star in Sting’s debut musical

The Last Ship
Newcastle Northern Stage
Monday 12th March – Saturday 7th April 2018

Opens 12 March 2018 at Northern Stage, ahead of UK & Ireland Tour

The Last Ship the acclaimed musical by the internationally renowned musician Sting – is to premiere in the UK when it opens at Northern Stage in Newcastle on 12 March 2018.

The production, which will star Jimmy Nail, has a TONY-nominated original score and lyrics composed by Sting. It will play a 4-week season in Newcastle before embarking on a major UK & Ireland Tour.

Sting - Photo: Mark Savage
The production, which was initially inspired by Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages and his own childhood experiences, tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the town's shipyard.

When Gideon Fletcher returns home after seventeen years at sea, tensions between past and future flare in both his family and his town. The local shipyard, around which Wallsend has always revolved, is closing and no-one knows what will come next, only that a half-built ship towers over the terraces.

 Lorne Campbell, Sting, Jimmy Nail
Photo: Mark Savage
The show is directed by Lorne Campbell, the artistic director of Northern Stage, with set design by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions.
One of the country’s most exciting and acclaimed theatre directors, Edinburgh-born Lorne Campbell had his first professional job as an assistant director at Northern Stage, before returning as artistic director in 2013. A graduate of Channel 4’s Young Theatre Director scheme, he has previously worked with the Liverpool Everyman Playhouse, Bath Theatre Royal, Traverse Theatre and Greyscale theatre company, which he co-founded. Productions for Northern Stage include Get Carter, Dr Frankenstein and A Song For Ella Grey.

This personal, political and passionate new musical from multiple Grammy Award winner Sting, is an epic account of a family, a community and a great act of defiance. With original music and lyrics by Sting, The Last Ship also features a few of his best-loved songs Island of Souls, All This Time and When We Dance.

This is the proud story of when the last ship sails.

Further casting to be announced.

The Last Ship is produced by Northern Stage in association with Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker.


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Preview: Stupid at Arts Centre Washington

Arts Centre Washington
Thursday 2nd November 2017

Sunderland Stages marks half way through its Autumn/Winter season with Sian Armstrong’s debut show Stupid at Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 2nd November ahead of its regional tour.

Sunderland Stages are thrilled to bring this brand new one woman show to Sunderland on Thursday 2nd November at Arts Centre Washington. It’s hilarious, painfully real, empowering and for every person who is trying to figure out how to properly “adult” whilst hiding that your grown up life is a hot mess.

Stupid’s world has been turned upside down. She’s muddling through the chaos – one lesson at a time – but she’s stuck and everything is feeling more confused.
Stupid is a quick witted, mood lifting, not-just-me then tale of one woman’s journey to figure it all out. And questioning whether being adult will ever make sense?

This is a brand newly developed show and audiences on 2nd November at Arts Centre Washington will be the first to see the show after months of development. The show’s writer and star Sian Armstrong is emerging theatre hot property in the North East and has been working with Sunderland Stages and Mortal Fools to develop the show thanks to a successful funding bid.

Rachel Horton from Sunderland Stages said “We are over the moon to have Stupid as part of this season. It’s honest, it’s real, it’s different and promises to be a super relatable empowering show. It’s amazing that we can champion a new emerging show and theatre maker here in the North East– we’ve had a wild ride so far working with Sian and we are so excited for audiences to finally see the show in Sunderland!

Stupid comes to Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 2nd November and tickets are available now from

Preview: Drip at South Shields Customs House

South Shields Customs House
Wednesday 8th November 2017

A young actor’s latest role is bringing him back to the theatre where he honed his skills and continues to support homegrown talent.
Andrew Finnigan
Andrew Finnigan, 21, from South Shields, stars in one-man musical comedy Drip, which has been written for young adults and comes to The Customs House fresh from the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations.
Rehearsals are in full swing for the world premiere of the play in Hull on Wednesday, November 1, as part of the Back to Ours Festival, which takes new high quality new work to unexpected spaces at the heart of local communities.
It arrives at The Customs House on Wednesday 8 November at 7pm, for an intimate performance in the theatre’s bar and bistro, The Green Room.
Andrew, who joined The Customs House Youth Theatre in 2012, plays 15-year-old Liam, an optimistic teenager who signs up to Hull’s first ever synchronised swimming team, even though he can’t swim.
He said: “The Customs House has played such a big part in my career as an actor, so I’m so pleased we’re bringing Drip along. And in such an unconventional performance space like The Green Room, I think it’ll honestly be a real treat.”
Drip tells a story of pride, friendship and being a gay teenager in Hull. It was created with and for young people in the city through the Script Club project, in which a playwright works in their local community to write a new play.
Award-winning writer Tom Wells, who is from Kilnsea in East Yorkshire, said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with groups of teenagers in Hull as part of the writing process. I hope some of their spirit, humour and insight shines out of the play.”
Drip is Script Club’s third production and its first musical, with book and lyrics by Tom and music by Matthew Robins. Andrew was approached about the lead role while working on another project with the pair.
He said: “I did a play last year called Broken Biscuits, which was written by Tom and the music was also written by Matthew. Towards the end of that run, they had mentioned they had an idea for a musical and if I would potentially be interested.  We did some work on an early version of the script in February and now, eight months later, we’re into rehearsals!”
Andrew, who remains involved in The Customs House Youth Theatre as assistant director, also trained at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle as part of its Project A scheme.
His theatre credits include The Fifteen Streets (The Customs House), Scrapbook (Live Theatre, Newcastle) and Broken Biscuits (Live Theatre/Paines Plough and UK tour).
Fiona Martin, deputy director - learning and participation at The Customs House, who runs The Customs House Youth Theatre, said: “We are really proud of Andrew and delighted that he’s bringing Drip to his home theatre. He’s very talented and I’m sure this will be the start of an excellent career.”
Drip is produced in partnership with Boundless Theatre and funded by Hull City Council, Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and Arts Council England. It runs from November 1 to 10, including two nights at Hull Truck Theatre.
Director Jane Fallowfield said: “We are proud to be making a play that we hope will reflect the brilliant, intelligent, outrageous and hilarious young people we have met in Hull.”
Rob Drummer, artistic director of Boundless Theatre, said: “It is a real privilege to be supporting Script Club and partnering on the production of Drip.  This is an exciting and innovative model that places young adults at the heart of new writing, leading to the world premiere of a new play in Hull.”


Tickets for Drip are £6 each, or two for £10, and are available from The Customs House box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at


Preview: Gavin Webster's Yuletide Complaint at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Book now for Gavin Webster's Yuletide Complaint

Gavin Webster's Yuletide Complaint
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Friday 15th December 2017 

'Tis the season to be...miserable as sin according to popular Geordie comedian, Gavin Webster.

He's inviting North East audiences to delight in his misery by joining him at the Playhouse, Whitley Bay this festive season to laugh their Christmas socks off.

A brand new show in the Webster comedy cannon, Gavin Webster's Yuletide Complaint takes a pop at traditional festive cheer.

From Secret Santa and the work's Christmas do, to the derisory bonuses that are just tax avoidance mechanisms from bosses, Gavin will let rip on all things festive. Family won't get away scot free either, with spoilt kids and fake relatives, Gavin paints a picture of Christmas that deserves to be thrown into Room 101. Or perhaps he's just a curmudgeonly old git - you decide.
Almost a thorn in the side of the 'safe' national comedy circuit, this fast-talking, banjo wielding anger merchant has charm and bonhomie by the tub load to offset the fury.

An hour of whipped up, high octane, frenzied, crash-bang-wallop with full support will make for an unforgettable yuletide night out with friends. An antidote to the arena comic, this is a must see, no holds-barred show.

To book tickets, which cost £15 (or £13 concs) 


Preview: The Red Room at South Shields Customs House


The Red Room
South Shields Customs House
Tuesday 31st October 2017

Rumpus Theatre Company is back at The Customs House this Halloween with a spine-chilling new play based on a classic ghost story.

Karen Henson as Jenny Markham in The Red Room.
The Red Room, based on a short story of the same name by The War of the Worlds writer HG Wells, will keep audiences on the edge of their seat on Tuesday, October 31.

The play is written by Karen Henson, who also plays the lead role of Jenny Markham, who spends a night alone in an apparently haunted room.

Director John Goodrum said: “The play throws all the classic ingredients in the air to create an edge-of-your-seat, up-to-the-minute take on HG Wells’ original tale. It’s very much in the mould of last year’s gripping BBC series The Living and the Dead, with a few elements of Most Haunted thrown in for good measure. It’s a familiar scenario, but the outcome is totally unexpected and utterly terrifying!”

Karen has appeared in numerous theatre productions on tour and in the West End, following training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre SchoolHer most recent appearance for Rumpus was as Irene Adler in the 2014 tour of Sherlock Holmes – The Scandal of the Scarlet WomanThe Red Room was written by HG Wells in 1894 and first published in 1896.

An unnamed protagonist chooses to spend the night in an allegedly haunted room in Lorraine Castle, determined to disprove the legends surrounding it.
Initially confident, the narrator becomes increasingly uneasy in the room.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, said: “Rumpus have been coming to us for many years with their spooky autumn productions. They never disappoint and it’s an added bonus that this year we have them on Halloween night.”

The show starts at 7.45pm and is recommended for ages 12 and above.

Tickets are £13, or £12 concessions and £11 for Friends of The Customs House. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at