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Thursday, 30 November 2017

REVIEW: Peter Pan at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Epic Production at Theatre Royal

Peter Pan
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Sunday 21st January 2018

Having seen a few of the pantos at the Theatre Royal I could see the results of the effort put in to make this, the 13th one starring the father and son team Clive Webb and Danny Adams, extra special. The show has the high production values of a Qdos show but with a unique charm that comes from a local team. I thought I’d seen it all, I was wrong.
Danny Adams (Peter Pan)
Chris Hayward (Mrs Smee) and crocs
There were pratfalls aplenty and a lot of silly jokes to keep children and adults laughing. Acrobatic tricks that drew gasps from the audience, came from “The Drunken Pirates”, Sascha Williams and Stephanie Nock, and the amazing Timbuktu Tumblers.

Danny Adams (Peter Pan) and Clive Webb (Smee)
The show managed to be something of a variety performance, with comedy, magic and vocal performances and surprises that just kept coming.

Chris Hayward (Mrs Smee)
Danny (as Peter Pan) and Clive (as Smee) still have the audience creased and Danny’s brother Michael Potts reprises his classic “Idiot” role which somehow works so well. Chris Hayward brings the glamour as the dame Mrs Smee. Rita Smee had some absolutely stunning costumes created by Chris himself. Nana the dog was a superb costume and well played by whoever was in there, but only appeared for a short time. Steve Arnott played an imposing and even quite likeable Captain Hook. His makeup was superb. It was almost sad to see him gobbled up so dramatically by TicToc the crocodile. Pete Peverley played  a very, very Geordie Starkey, the vital sidekick to Captain Hook.

Michael Potts (The Lost Idiot)
Tinker Bell was played delightfully by Laura Evens and rival for Peter’s attention, Wendy was played by the charming Julie Cullen.

The Darling children were depicted by young actors who never put a foot wrong and the Marron Theatre Arts students who played the Lost Boys were excellent.

Laura Evans (Tinker Bell)
One thing I’m glad was missing is a “3D” movie section of the show. Clever use of screens and technology used the genuine 3 dimensions of the stage to make people fly and a great beast leer out into the audience. This part was sterling work from The Twins FX.

Steve Arnott (Captain Hook) and Pete Peverley (Starkey)
This is an epic production that is a credit to the large team behind it. From the producer/director Michael Harrison, Theatre Royal Orchestra, the special effects specialists and the choreographer to the lighting and pyrotechnics, the show is a masterpiece of Panto.

Review by Joanne Oliver

Danny Adams (Peter Pan)
Peter Pan appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 28 November 2017 – Sunday 21 January 2018. Tickets go on general sale on Tue 22 Nov from £13.00 and 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

Tickets are already on sale for next year’s panto too!:
Goldilocks, the pantomime that’s just right! plays Tuesday 27thNovember 2018 – Sunday 20th January 2019 and tickets are now on public sale.
Tickets are from £13 and 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

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Preview: Benidorm Live at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Benidorm Live
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Friday 7th - Saturday 15th September 2018

Producers have revealed that Benidorm Live, the new stage show based on the hit ITV comedy premiering at Newcastle Theatre Royal next year, will star six of the original TV cast .

Jake  Canuso (Mateo)
Set to bring a heady dose of Spanish sunshine and smiles to Newcastle audiences, the first ever stage version of Derren Litten's hit ITV comedy Benidorm Live opens on Friday 7 September prior to a major national tour. 

It is now confirmed that six members of the TV cast, all much loved stars from the infamous Solana Hotel, will perform in the hotly anticipated new show.  Swapping sangria for the stage after a quick spruce at the Blow ‘n’ Go! will be everyone’s favourites Jake  Canuso (Lothario barman Mateo), Janine Duvitski (middle aged swinger  Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (holidaying teenager Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Solana manageress Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (loud mouthed lassie Sam), and Tony Maudsley (flamboyantly camp hairdresser Kenneth).

Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline)
Litten has written a new set of Alicante escapades for the debut stage production of the hugely popular show.  On making its transfer, writer Derren Litten said: “I’ve loved ten years of writing my TV show Benidorm but despite a successful writing career I’m first and foremost a performer so have always been secretly frustrated I couldn't hear the audience’s laughter. This national tour of Benidorm Live will not only make a long lasting dream come true but will also mean I no longer have to stand in strangers gardens listening at their windows at 9 o’clock on cold winter evenings.”

ITV’s smash-hit comedy celebrates a decade of all-inclusive hilarity, having followed the ensemble cast of holiday makers and staff for nine series since it first broadcast in 2007. Season 10 is due to broadcast early 2018.

Critically acclaimed, Benidorm has received two National Television Awards a TV Quick Award and nominations at the British Comedy Awards and BAFTAs.

Tony Maudsley (Kenneth)
After leaving school in Hull in the late 1980’s Derren Litten spent a year working as a professional magician whilst auditioning for drama schools.  He won a place on the 3 year acting course at the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama where he met fellow student Catherine Tate.  After 10 years of working as an actor, Derren was asked by Catherine to write for her newly commissioned TV sketch show, The Catherine Tate Show; in which he also appeared in many of the sketches.  After co-writing and appearing in two series and a Christmas Special, Derren was given a script commission by legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins, “just write anything you want as long as it’s funny” he said; that show turned out to be ITV’s BAFTA nominated hit comedy Benidorm. Derren’s hobbies include drinking and karaoke, usually in that order. He splits his time equally between homes in London and Spain.      
The show will be produced for the stage by Newcastle’s own Michael Harrison and David Ian. 


Benidorm Live premieres at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Friday 7th September 2018 and runs until Saturday 15th September, playing evenings at 7.30pm, matinees on Thu 2pm and Sat 2.30pm. Tickets are from £16.50 and 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: Santa’s Naughty Elf at South Shields Customs House


Santa’s Naughty Elf: A Christmas Carol
South Shields Customs House
Saturday 2nd December - Sunday 24th December 2017

Wayne Miller as Elfluent 
An extra date has been added to the three-week run of Santa’s Naughty Elf: A Christmas Carol at The Customs House in South Shields.

The panto for the under-sevens has become a firm fixture in the theatre’s festive schedule, with weekend performances selling out in record time this year.

This prompted writer and director Wayne Miller, who also stars as Elfluent, to add an extra show, at 10.30am on Sunday, December 3. 

This year, audiences will find out how Elfluent became Santa’s Naughty Elf, as he travels through time in a story inspired by the Charles Dickens classic.

Eleanor Faye, Jayden Blacklock, Nik Grundison & Sara-Jayne White
as Elflinda, Elfreda, Elfrancis and Elflorence 
Wayne said: “I am a huge Dickens fan, so the idea of using A Christmas Carol as a story base, to see into the past of Elfluent, seemed like a winner. Our audience this year will see what kind of crimes against Christmas he caused in his younger days. Also, could we find out why he became naughty in the first place? I have put together a brand new cast this year, a cast who I know will knock it out of the park and make this year’s Santa’s Naughty Elf the best one yet. We are so pleased our audience agree and have snapped up so many tickets. We’re heading for a record-breaking year!”

Jayden Blacklock, Eleanor Faye and Nik Grundison
as Elfreda, Elflinda and Elfrancis 
Jordan Calling, from Sunderland, is playing Elfrankie, having recently played The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at The North Pier Theatre in Blackpool.

Elflorence will be played by Sara-Jayne White, from Newcastle, who appeared in Wendy the Witch and the Long Lost Spell at The Customs House in October, which was also written and directed by Wayne.

Jayden Blacklock, who is leader and director of The Customs House Junior Youth Theatre, will play Elfreda, while Eleanor Faye, from Washington, will play Elflinda and Nik Grundison, from Edinburgh, plays Elfrancis.


Santa’s Naughty Elf: A Christmas Carol runs from Saturday, December 2, until Sunday, December 24. For performance times and tickets, which are priced £10 and include a gift from Santa, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit 

Preview: Chris Ramsey at Newcastle Arena


Chris Ramsey
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Saturday 3rd November 2018

Critically acclaimed and award winning Stand Up comedian, host of his own TV entertainment show and Stand Up show on Comedy Central, Celebrity Juice regular and the only person to ever put Katie Hopkins in her place; Chris Ramsey brings his brand new 2018 live tour to the Metro Radio Arena Newcastle. It sold out last time so snap tickets up as soon as you can! 

Tickets will go on sale 10.00am Friday 1st December and are available online from our affiliate Eventim UK using this online LINK, from the booking hotline number 0844 493 6666 or in person from the Metro Radio Arena Box Office. Please note venue facility and booking fees will apply.

**Limited offer**

Everyone who buys a ticket for Chris Ramsey’s brand new tour before Midnight on Sunday 3rd December will get a free download of his last tour show.

Preview: Justin Fletcher at Sunderland Empire

Justin Fletcher is heading back to Sunderland Empire in 2018!

Justin Fletcher
Sunderland Empire
Sunday 8th April 2018

BAFTA award-winning actor Justin Fletcher is coming back to Sunderland Empire with his brand new show – Justin’s Band for one performance only on Sunday 8 April 2018 (11am) following two sell-out shows earlier this year!

Join Justin and his friends on a musical adventure singing lots of songs and learning about musical instruments along the way. There will be bags of fun and laughter and lots of live music from Justin’s Band.  So make a musical note in your diary and we will see you there!

Tickets on public sale: 10am, Thursday 30 November.
Early booking recommended.
Tickets are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliate ATG Tickets*

*Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Preview: Kevin Bridges at Newcastle City Hall


Kevin Bridges: Brand New Tour
Newcastle City Hall
Thursday 30th August -Saturday 1st September 2018.

Scotland’s biggest comedy export, Kevin Bridges, is back next year with his hotly anticipated live stand-up show: Brand New Tour coming to the City Hall Thursday 30th August -Saturday 1st September 2018.

Embarking on his biggest tour to date, The Brand New Tour will see Kevin perform at some of the finest venues across the UK and Ireland from August 2018 with more dates will be announced over the coming months.

Kevin Bridges says: “I’m delighted to announce that I will be back on the road in 2018. It’s been 3 years since my last tour, 3 tough years of watching the world fall apart thus, I’ve decided that I need to get out of the house more and lend a hand in saving it. With amusing anecdotes and witty observations I’m sure I can save the world or at least provide a decent enough night out. We’ll see. I’ll catch you there folks. Yaldy!”


Kevin Bridges is no stranger to breaking box office records. When his 2015 tour A Whole Different Story went on sale at the end of 2014 it won awards from both Ticketmaster and Ents24 for the Fastest Selling Comedy Ticket of the year. The tour saw him sell over 500,000 tickets across 145 dates, including an incredible 16 nights at The Hydro in Glasgow.  His 2012 tour, Kevin Bridges – The Story Continues…also smashed box office records selling a staggering 45,000 tickets in one day and went on to sell-out an incredible nine-show run at the Glasgow SECC Arena as part of the 136 date tour.
Kevin has previously hosted much-lauded documentaries for BBC One including ‘Kevin Bridges - What’s The Story’ in 2012, followed by ‘Kevin Bridges – What’s The Story Referendum Special’ in 2014.  In 2014 Kevin also hosted two BBC One stand-up specials on the Commonwealth Games and the Scottish Referendum.

Other recent notable TV appearances include BBC One’s ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Would I Lie To You?’, BBC Two’s ‘Mock The Week’, Channel 4’s ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown’ and ‘The Last Leg’ and Sky One's 'A League Of Their Own'. 

Kevin has released three best-selling DVDs by Universal Pictures (UK): ‘The Story So Far – Live in Glasgow’ in 2010, ‘The Story Continues’ in 2012 and 2015's ‘A Whole Different Story’, his biggest selling DVD to date.

At the tender age of 28, Kevin released his own autobiography ‘We Need To Talk About… Kevin Bridges’ published by Penguin Books in 2014.

2017 has seen Kevin travel internationally to perform a string of sold-out dates in Australia and New Zealand as well as Singapore and Dubai. He also had the prestige honour of performing for former US President Barack Obama during The Hunter Foundation’s charity dinner in Edinburgh in May.

Tickets for Kevin Bridges: The Brand New Tour Thursday 30 August – Saturday 1 September 2018 are now on sale and can be purchased online from our affiliate Ticketmaster using this LINK or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge).

Preview: Lambton Worm at South Shields Customs House


The Lambton Worm
South Shields Customs House
Tuesday 28th November 2017 - Saturday 6th January 2018

Panto is all about family for writer, actor and director, Ray Spencer.
The executive director of The Customs House has been involved in the festive tradition for more than 40 years in South Tyneside, including a previous production of this year’s panto, The Lambton Worm, in 1997.

Natasha Haws as a child with her mother,
Trish Whale, in panto costume.
He formed a formidable double act with Bob Stott at the Westovian Theatre Society, in South Shields, in 1975, with the pair going on to produce their own shows, moving to The Customs House in 1999.

Ray, who plays Dame Bella Ballcock this year, said: “I can’t imagine not being involved in panto. It is absolutely unique to the UK and it is such a big part of everyone’s Christmas, which is a special time anyway.  You rarely get a chance to get generations of families together, from the very young to the very old, and have an opportunity to entertain them all.”

Bob may have retired in 2013, but Ray is still surrounded by familiar faces when he takes to the stage during pantomime season.  His daughter, Natasha Haws, is playing Susie the Soothsayer in The Lambton Worm, having played a leading role alongside her father in the last three pantos at The Customs House.  She also appeared as a dancer in panto between the ages of seven and 15.

Natasha Haws as Susie the Soothsayer
and Ray Spencer as Dame Bella Ballcock
The 23-year-old said: “I have been a part of panto for as long as I can remember.  My dad and I get on really well, we work very well together and we always sit and have a cup of tea in the interval and talk about how things are going.  Panto is definitely his favourite time of year. He’s been doing it for so long and there are so many happy memories linked to it.”

Natasha is playing a magical role for the first time this year, having been encouraged to try something different by her mother, Trish Whale.  She said: “My mam used to do panto and she played principal boy for years. She said it was all very familiar until she played the Spirit of the Ring in Aladdin and moved on to the magical roles, which she said were her favourite.”

This year’s panto has been written in celebration of the 150th anniversary of The Lambton Worm song, which tells the County Durham legend of John Lambton’s battle against a fearsome worm that had been terrorising local villages.

It has been given a fresh panto spin by Ray and co-writer Graeme Thompson, with Ray’s son James influencing the ending. Ray said: “Victorians liked really gruesome ends to their pantomimes, but we have moved on. My son said he didn’t want the worm to die at the end, so we have put a twist in the tale.”

Newcastle-based Fox and Shriek have designed the set and costumes and South Tyneside Dance Workshop are providing the backing dancers.
The cast also includes David John Hopper as Arbuthnot, Steven Lee Hamilton as The Brave and Bold Sir John, Georgia Nicholson as Poison Pen from Penshaw, Eleanor Chaganis as The Princess, Gareth Hunter as The Sultan, Cal Halbert as Lord Larry Lambton and Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog.


The Lambton Worm runs from Tuesday, November 28, 2017, until Saturday, January 6, 2018, with ticket prices starting at £9.99. Performance times vary. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at