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REVIEW: Sunday For Sammy at Newcastle Arena
Geordie Command Performance Excels
Sunday For Sammy ★★★★★
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Sunday 18th February
Wow! This show’s cast read like a Who’s Who of North East talent. 3 ¾
hours of entertainment featured stars off the TV such as Johnny Vegas, Brenda
Blethyn, Stephen Tompkinson, Angie Lonsdale, Jill Halfpenny, Pam Royle and
members of the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet cast
rubbing shoulders with musicians like Trevor Horn, Joe McElderry, Billy
Mitchell and Ralph McTell in addition to West End stars like Ryan Malloy and
Bafta winning Dave Johns. But that was just part of the picture as many of the
NETG favourites such as Chris Connel, Pete Peverley, Rosie Ramsey, Steffen
Peddie, Jessica Johnson, Viktoria Kay, Craig Richardson, David Nellist, Jason
Cook and Paul Dunn, to name just a few, showed how versatile they are in both
sketches and songs. Of course in a show which has the purpose of supporting new
talent in the region, there was plenty of that on show too.
Sunday for Sammy, calls itself the Geordie
Command Performance, and has moved from the City Hall to the Arena. Previous
shows have sold out rapidly so the move has enabled more people to see this
spectacle. It also helps to raise more funds for it’s charitable trust as
double the number of spectators could attend.
The show, held as a tribute to
Geordie actor Sammy Johnson since 2000, has resulted in a Trust being set up which has
helped young local performers with their professional development with nearly
£½ million in grants. Such funding has
been used to help set up the Blowin A Hooley
theatre group and to help
establish the Alphabetti Theatre. Sunday for Sammy is a celebration of North Eastern
culture and many of the region's most popular and successful performers have
taken part in the extravaganza of comedy and music, staged to raise funds to
support the next generation of North Eastern performers with training, expenses
That’s enough about
the background to the show… so what was the show like? The use of the Arena resulted in a big show
feel in terms of a large stage, lots of lighting and massive video screens.
from organisers Tim Healy and Geoff Wonfor the audiences were treated to Pete
Peverley as the late Geordie comic Bobby Thompson, who died 30 years ago. He
pointed out that not much had changed as the country was still being run by a
female Conservative Prime Minister which raised a laugh. “Saint” Bobby made way
for the first musical number as Billy Mitchell introduced Chelsea Halfpenny
with her cover of Reach Out And I’ll Be
The first comic to
appear was the brilliant Steffen Peddie, who now has a regular slot on BBC
Radio Newcastle, and he looked at the fun of after dinner speaking – or how to
get banned from appearing at St James’ Park in under a minute.
During the show we
were to enjoy a number of sketches throughout the evening and Rosie Ramsey
interviewing the Chris Connel as the owner of an Alnwick vineyard was a
fabulous insight into how difficult the Northumbrian accent is for outsiders to
understand. They were a great comedy duo along the lines of the classic Newman
and Baddiel sketches from the 90s.
One of the reoccurring
sketches included a pair of grumpy arena stewards starring the comic talents of
Jason Cook and Rosie Ramsey which would give That Peter Kay Thing a run for its money.
Sunday For Sammy was
willing the Geordie Nation to laugh at itself and this was particularly true
when mountaineers David Nellist and James Baxter meet the loud and proud Geordie
Lasses in the shape of Julia Tobin, Laura Norton and Chelsea Halfpenny. Having
spent the past week in London and noticing, not only how the Londoners wear
coats, they also have them fully zipped up when I felt it was quite mild
outside. The idea that Geordie girls can just wear dresses whilst climbing a
mountain and they just need to fold their arms if it gets cold is absurd – but that’s
precisely why the humour worked.
The first act also saw
the first appearance of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’s Kevin
Whately, Christopher Fairbank and Tim Healy with the lads trying to get home
from Miami Airport having been held hostage during their latest building work project.
Tim’s son Louis Healy added the youth element. As the show progressed the lads
fall over great wealth only for the real owner of the cash to come and reclaim it
to be revealed to be Louis’s real life mother Denise Welch! It was a great bit
of writing and comedy acting which shows how much of a classic the original series
The first act had
strong musical turns with blues from Ray Stubbs and Trevor Horn performing his
classic Video Killed The Radio Star
which had the Arena audience singing along.
The act 1 finale
comprised of a number of young dancers under Kristin
Kelly Abbott’s choreography whipping up the football fans in the audience
with a montage of some classic Newcastle United moments.
Highlights of Act two
included I, Daniel Blake star Dave
Johns returning to his stand-up roots. Just like Steffen Peddie at the start of
the first act, you wanted to hear more of his quick witted humour and it is a
shame he left the show so quickly.
Music in the second
half included a duet of Nothing’s Gonna
Stop Us Now between Billy Mitchell and Jill Halfpenny; Ralph McTell’s very
timely rendition of Streets of London
and proceedings reached a climax when Jersey
Boys’ star Ryan Malloy and Joe McElderry sang Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Joe added a stunning rendition of Time To Say Goodbye which showed how, just
like a good wine, Joe simply improves as time goes on.
The high quality
sketches also continued in the second half. Denise Welch, Charlie Hardwick and
Angie Lonsdale gave us their Jazz Hands group. Not to be left out Tim Healy
appeared in a very funny Speed Dating sketch with a number of northern actors.
The sketch which
kept on giving was the competitive Geordie Cops sketch. Johnny Vegas was about
to carry out a post mortem with assistance from Jess Johnson. To observe the
procedure, a roll call of some of the finest fictional crime busters appeared.
Angie Lonsdale, Stephen Tompkinson, Kevin Whatley and finally Brenda Blethyn
appeared to offer the bragging rights about who had the most successful role. As
funny as they all were it was Jess Johnson who wasn’t fazed by proceedings and
linked each character in turn wonderfully. This was a superb sketch and typical
of the high standards of the evening.
The evening finished
with a Geordie Anthem in the shape of Billy Mitchell leading a rousing rendition
of Run For Home. A fitting finale
that had the Arena crowd on their feet singing along.
It was a huge show
which the organisers managed to pull off with aplomb. The next fundraising
event is a DVD of tonight’s show which is available through all branches of
Windows from the 13th April. We certainly will be picking up a copy.
The next Sunday For
Sammy show will be in 2 years time. Whilst the cast is not announced in
advance, you can be assured of a great evening’s entertainment and it is for a
good cause too. What’s not to like?