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A fund in memory of much-loved director Jackie Fielding aims to help young people pursue a career in the performing arts by contributing to drama training fees.
Applications are now open for 2018.

Jackie Fielding
Who was Jackie Fielding?
Jackie was an accomplished actress and a critically-acclaimed director, she was also renown for her unwavering support, advocacy and development for emerging artists in the North East. Tragically, in 2015, Jackie died suddenly, during her acclaimed production The Man and the Donkey.

Why a Fund?
£4000 was accumulated via donations at her funeral and it was then that Jackie’s family and friends insisted the money went to support others to follow their talents and the Jackie Fielding Fund was created. In subsequent years, Jackie’s friends have produced fundraising shows and Fund has awarded a total of £2000 to students since it began.

Who is it for?
Jackie studied drama at Manchester University before attending the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Jackie was able to do this with the help of state funding, without which, her family, like many today, would not have had the means to pay for.  Jackie’s fund aims to contribute towards fees for training and continued development for actors, directors and musical theatre students.

A maximum award of £1000 is attributed annually in July. The closing date for applications is 15th of July 2018

·  Age 18 or over
·  Funding is paid direct to training provider for tuition fees only.
·  Available for full time courses and short courses
·  Applicants must be from an area no more than 40 miles from South Shields
·  Open to actors, musical theatre students and directors

·  Applicants to send the following: to
·  Name, D.O.B, Postcode, Course title, Course Provider. Plus, your career goals and how the course will support your development towards these goals. (Max 500 words)
·  Alternatively fill in the online form here:

Jackie’s Fund also aims to provide support, advice and guidance for prospective drama students. Navigating the audition process and feeling confident with your chosen pieces can be difficult and the Fund offers a full day of audition preparation twice a year, in March and October. A maximum of 25 performers per session can take part and more details will be available upon application.


REVIEW: An Officer and a Gentleman at Newcastle Theatre Royal

An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Monday 18th – Saturday 23rd June 2018

The film “An Officer and a Gentleman” released in 1982, was one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s, reinforcing the star status of Richard Gere after his breakthrough role in American Gigolo. Gere played Zack Mayo, a Navy aviation officer candidate, struggling to break with his past as a navy brat forced on his drunken, boorish father after his mother’s death.   It also starred Debra Winger and notably, Louis Gossett Jnr, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the ferocious drill sergeant, Emil Foley.

The story concerns Zack’s struggle to make it as a trainee jet pilot, needing to survive the merciless riding of the drill Sergeant Foley,  and his developing relationship with local factory girl, Paula Pokrifki. There is also a sub-plot where Zack’s friend Sid Worley, a sensitive soul, walking in the footsteps of his late brother, becomes romantically involved with the hard-bitten Lynette Pomeroy. Lynette and many of the local girls see the officer candidates as a ticket out of this grey, unpromising town.  Like Gere’s later movie, Pretty Woman, the story, as followed by the stage musical, seems to be very much about rescue and it is clear that the troubled Zack needs to be rescued as much as Paula.

The musical follows the plot of the film and packs it with classic (mostly) 80s hits like Girls Just Want to Have Fun, You’re The Voice and I Was Made For Loving You, as well as the film’s big hit, Up Where We Belong. The songs are well-performed by a strong cast that have the vocal chops to take on our memories of the original performances and come out at least even.

Jonny Fines makes a good fist of playing the troubled Zack. He gives a likeable performance, whilst portraying the character’s complexities, and his strong pop voice comes across well, particularly in Blaze of Glory, sung as a duet with Darren Bennett, convincing as his father, Byron Mayo. For those concerned about his ability to fill Richard Gere’s shoes, I should also say that he has clearly spent many hours at the gym, honing his physique, to equip him well for the shirtless scenes.  Ian McIntosh is also convincing as Sid Worley, a gentler performance in contrast to Zack’s brashness.

Emma Williams demonstrates her West End pedigree in a strong performance as Paula, the small-town girl who has seen candidates come and go, and who tells herself she is not going to fall for Zack. Her powerful vocals filled the stage on her rendition of Alone and in Don’t Cry Out Loud, sung as a duet with Rachel Stanley, believable as her disappointed but resilient mother, Esther.

The chemistry is effective between the two leads and the tender scenes are relatable and well-handled. Jessica Daley delivers her creed as the cynical Lynette with a first-rate performance of Material Girl, the perfect song in the perfect place in the show.

The other candidates and the factory girls work hard and perform well as an ensemble. Notable amongst them was Keisha Atwell, as ghetto girl, Casey Seegar, fighting to become the first black female jet pilot. The reaction of the audience to her outcome showed they were as invested in her battle as they were in Zack’s.

The show doesn’t duck the tough and tragic side of the story as Sid and Lynette’s relationship goes badly awry.

For me, I wanted more bite from the scenes between Zack and Drill Sergeant Foley. I’m not sure if it was the script or the essential likeability of the veteran West End star, Ray Shell, as Foley that softened the character.

The staging was effective, if unobtrusive, under Director Nikolai Foster, though there is little or no choreography in the show and I felt one or two numbers looked like they could sharpen up a little before the show makes its planned transition to the West End. The sets are, no doubt appropriately, rather monolithic and oppressive, although there was some relief provided by some appealing video and back projection designed by Douglas O’Connell.

A top-notch band delivered under the baton of Musical Director Michael Riley and the lighting design was very effective in the hands of Ben Cracknell.

This is a show that “does what it says on the tin.” It gives you the story of the film, provides a bumper bundle of 80s hits and clearly engaged its audience, who gave the cast a standing ovation on the night I was there. The final iconic scene doesn’t disappoint in its delivery of the “Cinderella” ending.  The issues around this in terms of sexual stereotyping and gender roles could keep one awake at night but are best not explored here, and didn’t seem to worry the Theatre Royal audience who were clearly lapping up the nostalgia. It was in a nod to this, perhaps, that Emma Williams wittily picked up Jonny Fines during the curtain call.

Review by Jonathan Cash
Photos by Manuel Harlan


REVIEW: Cirque Berserk at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Don’t Try This At Home!

Cirque Berserk
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Sunday 24th June 2018

Cirque Berserk bring all of the thrills of a circus and the slick production of a west end show and combine it into a thrilling performance. There are no safety nets here and you can feel the danger before your very eyes. This is a show with a genuine “Wow!” factor.

Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the circus may seem a strange event to hold in a Grade I listed Victorian theatre – but it is a perfect setting. In the history of the Tyne some spectacular shows have been performed and this will rate amongst them.

The programme notes from the creative director, Julius Green, explains that the 35 performers all work in regular circus but have put this show together to tour theatres in the summer. The performers are from a number of countries – however with such visual and physical performances there are no problems with language. In fact, barely a word is spoken.

The show is slick. Something is happening all of the time, the pace is constant – just like the soundtrack.

Appearing at regular points at the Timbuktu Tumblers. These acrobats form human pyramids, jump through hoops and limbo under a fire lit pole with such ease. I struck me throughout the show how “easy” these professionals made each stunt look and yet I know I could not perform any of them.

Bolas Argentinas arrived with their drums and were soon swinging cords to make rhythms on the stage. Later on they’d be swinging stuff on fire around too. Like a number of artists, there was an element of humour to their performance which helped break the fourth wall.

Colombia’s Jose & Gaby performed a number of balancing routines with grace and accuracy. There were also aerial performers such as the UK’s Jackie, Aerial Ballet from Hungary and Laci Fossett who all bravely shone through.

Really impressive were Tropicana Troupe who catapulted themselves across the stage before landing on their feet. We also had knife throwing, dancing, foot juggling and the Mongolian Zula climbing a stack of chairs. Odka arrived on stage in a small bell jar, climbed out and performed archery with her feet whilst doing a handstand. It was one of those crazy nights.

Most of the humour came from the Brazillian Mustache Brothers with their physical slapstick humour. They were clowns without the big red noses. They also help segue the action from one spectacle to the next.

Finally, each act ends with motorcycling stunts in the Globe of Death. It is loud, fast and smells of burnt fuel. Perfect for the petrolheads. When 4 bikes are shooting around at 60 mph then you know that you are seeing a really special event.

We had attended the show with our 15 year old and he really enjoyed the spectacle. This is a rare treat – a family show that will genuinely entertain everyone – children and adults alike. My hands hurt from clapping so much!

Well worth missing the football for!

Review by Stephen Oliver
Photos: Piet Hein Out


Stalls & Grand Circle: adults £27.50, concessions (over 65s & students) £24.50, children (under 16) £15.50, limited view £18.50, family ticket (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children) £70
Upper Circle: adults £24.50, concessions £19.50, children £15.50, limited view £18.50, family ticket £70

Show is recommended for ages 6+

Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)


REVIEW: This Is Elvis at Sunderland Empire

Elvis Is King In Sunderland

This Is Elvis
Sunderland Empire
Until Saturday 23 June 2018

Bill Kenwright brings the new musical This Is Elvis, with Steve Michaels as Elvis, to the Empire this week.

Starting with the build up to the June 1968 NBC comeback special, the show combines the background narrative surrounding the iconic shows, alongside his big hits. The show finishes with Elvis performing on opening night at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

The doubt about live shows and loss of confidence in the performer, after 15 years of making movies, is very much in evidence. As are his battles with his manager Colonel Parker. But the big hit with this show are the classic songs. The 68 special covers a number of the songs and interactions during the intimate segment. The large band, complete with brass section and backing singers make easy work of the rock ‘n’ roll classics like Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog.

But what about Elvis himself? As the lady behind me exclaimed as Steve Michaels first entered the stage " Eee! He looks just like him!" He interpretation of the Elvis back catalogue was fine too.

The dialogue between live sets is superficial at times. Buddies Charlie (Mark Pearce) and Joe (Reuven Gershon) help provide the exposition in the first act. But once the context is set it is time for the main event: act 2.

Just like Jersey Boys, the show goes into full tribute concert mode in act two.  Also Sprach Zarathustra builds up the atmosphere at the end of the interval. It is July ‘69 and Elvis is in Vegas.

The 14 talented musicians work their way through the Vegas set. I loved the drumming, thanks to Billy Stookes fine style. Steve Michaels works hard as the front man and the audience played their part screaming at his moves and applauding appreciatively as each song began. We get outstanding renditions of Viva Las Vegas, Blue Suede Shoes, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Always On My Mind, The Wonder Of You, Suspicious Minds and Jailhouse Rock amongst many others.

Elvis impersonators may be 10 a penny but Steve Michaels was extremely impressive both in looks, voice and singing style.

It was the final section that probably worked best for most of the audience.  Elvis, it seems, is still doing good business around these parts.

It may be 41 years since Elvis died but his songs still work today. If you like Mr Presley then you should check this show out. We are glad we did.

Review by Stephen Oliver.
Photos: Pamela Raith Photography

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or from our affiliates ATG Tickets: *calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.


REVIEW: Jason Cooks Comedy Club at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

A Laugh On The Tyne

Jason Cooks Comedy Club
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Saturday 16th June 2016

Jason Cook has been running comedy nights across the north east for a while now and this was an opportunity to catch him at his latest outpost, Newcastle's Tyne Theatre and Opera House.

Jason is a very affable comic. He opens the show by working his way across the front row. His ability to react sharply to the audience's answers was reminiscent of the late great Bob Monkhouse. He made comedy out of any response which in turn warmed the room up nicely.

First act was North East Theatre Guide favourite Gavin Webster who ran through a classic Gavin set. He clearly had a number of people in the audience who had not seen him before enabling him to run through some of his classic repertoire. The I've Got A Job For You, Gav star added a local angle to the evening's proceedings with tales of life in Blaydon and Wallsend. Gavin finished with a couple of musical numbers which nicely rounded off the set.

Gavin Webster will be performing a preview of his new Edinburgh Fringe show around the corner at the Alphabetti Theatre on Sunday 29th July between 14:45 – 15:45. Tickets are on a  Pay What You Feel basis.

Jason kicked off the 2nd act with advice for the pair of 17 year olds in the front row. He has natural ability as a raconteur which fills the room with laughter.

Radu Isac has been in England for 3 years and the Romanian used the rest of the second set to compare the west with eastern Europe. Trying to discuss immigration and those who peel oranges in public perhaps didn't hit the sweet note with the Tyne audience on this occasion. But that's comedy. Sometimes on a multi-act bill you'll find some acts get a bigger reaction than others.

Jason Cook warmed up the crowd for the third time. The development of Whitley Bay's Spanish City and sand dune activities creating many a laugh. We'd happily see Jason perform a headline set. Hopefully that will happen soon. His demeanour is everything about an entertaining evening rather than being cruel.

Completing the bill was Mock The Week panellist Andy Parsons.  His combination of political commentary and observations about life went down a storm with the Opera House crowd. Not being on television offered Andy a number of freedoms. Whilst both ends of the political spectrum, and Trump, were covered, there was no tv director insisting on political balance. The incumbent government and its cabinet made for popular ridicule as their shortcomings were highlighted. It was the first time we'd seen Andy live and he is well worth checking out.  Like most TV comics he is much better live when the cameras are not there.

Review by Stephen Oliver

On the web:

The next Jason Cook Comedy Club show at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre will be on Saturday 10th November 2018, starting at 8pm.
Age Restriction 16+

Tickets: £12.00 (Plus booking fees when booking online or over the phone)

Tickets available from Online Ticket LINK from our affiliate Eventim Tickets
or 0844 249 1000 or in person from the theatre’s box office.


Preview: Summer Holiday at Darlington Hippodrome


Summer Holiday
Darlington Hippodrome
Tuesday 25th – Saturday 29th September 2018

TV/Stage favourite and Dancing on Ice star Ray Quinn to play Don – the role made famous by Cliff Richard, in the new UK tour of Summer Holiday which pulls in to Darlington Hippodrome in September.

A brand new stage production of the musical Summer Holiday is set to tour the UK and will play for a week in Darlington from Tuesday 25 September. Based on the iconic 1960’s film of the same name, starring Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Summer Holiday will include all of the number one hits from the movie, plus some additional Cliff Richard classics.

Taking on the lead role of Don made famous by Cliff Richard, is singer-songwriter Ray Quinn. Ray shot to fame as the runner-up in ITV’s The X Factor in 2006. This spurned a career in both music and musicals, with his debut album ‘Doing it My Way’ entering the charts at number one, and quickly gaining platinum status. Ray is perhaps best known for ‘doing the double’ on ITV’s hugely successful show Dancing on Ice, winning for the first time in 2009, and then again on Dancing on Ice: Champion of Champions in 2014. Ray’s theatre credits include Danny Zuko in Grease (West End), Dirty Dancing (West End), Legally Blonde (UK Tour) and most recently, The Wedding Singer (UK Tour).

The role of Jerry, the long-suffering agent, will be played by Wayne Smith. Wayne is best known for playing the role of Billy in Dirty Dancing (2012 & 2015 UK Tour and Piccadilly Theatre). Wayne also played the roles of Pharaoh in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour – 2008 and 2009), Ray in Dreamboats And Petticoats (UK Tour) and Bob in Jersey Boys (Julian Stoneman Associates).

Sophie Matthew plays runaway singer, Barbara, with Taryn Sudding taking on the role of Stella, her controlling fame-hungry mother. Sophie is best known for playing the role of Sarah in Our House (UK Tour), and also played the role of Ginny in Humans (Channel 4). Taryn Sudding played Angie in the 1997 production of Summer Holiday. She is most well-known for playing Bombalurina in Cats across the world over a fourteen-year period, including in the original South African production.

Other notable roles include Grace Farrell in Annie (South African Production), and Elsa in The Sound of Music (SA and international tour).

Billy Roberts (Steve), Joe Goldie (Edwin) and Rory Maguire (Cyril) play Don’s fellow London Transport mechanics. Billy Roberts is best known for playing Emmo in Our House (UK Tour); Joe Goldie’s credits include playing Scooby-Doo in Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries (London Palladium; UK Arena Tour) and Rory Maguire played Peter Pan/Ensemble in Shrek The Musical (UK and Ireland Tour), and 2nd cover Pepper in Mamma Mia! (UK Tour).

Gabby Antrobus (Mimsie), Alice Baker (Alma) and Laura Marie Benson (Angie) play girl singing group ‘Do-Re-Mi!’. Gabby was in the ensemble for Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down Five To Go, choreographed by Arlene Phillips at the O2 arena, and broadcast around the world. Other credits include Dirty Dancing (UK Tour) and most recently Olga Mara/ensemble in Singin’ In The Rain Revival (Theatre Musical de Paris-Chatelet). Alice Baker is best known for playing Gloria and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (UK Tour). Alice also played Baby in Secret Cinema’s production of Dirty Dancing. Laura Marie Benson is best known for playing Alice and Miss Flannery in Thoroughly Modern Millie (UK Tour).

The cast is completed by Hannah Barr (Female Ensemble), Becky Bassett (Female Character), Caroline Bateson (Resident Choreographer); William Beckerleg (Male Character); Adam Crossley (Male Ensemble, Dance Captain); Sam Gallacher (Male Ensemble); Leanne Groutage (Female Ensemble) and Matt Trevorrow (Male Ensemble). 

Summer Holiday tells the story of Don and his fellow London Transport mechanics as they journey together in a red double-decker bus through Paris, the Alps, Italy and Greece. Along the way they pick up a girl singing group and a young American pop star who is on the run from her domineering mother!

This hit - filled musical features many of 1960’s biggest songs including In the Country, Summer Holiday, Travellin’ Light, Bachelor Boy, Move It, Living Doll, The Young Ones and On the Beach.

Summer Holiday runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 September.
For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit

Preview: An Officer and a Gentleman at Newcastle Theatre Royal


An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Monday 18th – Saturday 23rd June 2018

Be prepared to be swept off your feet when An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical brings love and romance to Newcastle Theatre Royal.

The brand-new musical, based on the iconic 1982 Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere, includes the classic song from the film Up Where We Belong along, with 80’s classics such as Alone, Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl.

Featuring one of the most iconic romantic scenes ever portrayed on screen, An Officer and a Gentleman tells the story of Zack Mayo who is in training to become a US Navy Pilot. When Zack rolls into boot camp with a bit too much of a swagger, drill Sergeant Foley doesn’t make life easy for him. When he falls for local girl Paula Pokrifki and tragedy befalls his friend and fellow candidate, Zack realises the importance of love and friendship and finds the courage to be himself and win the heart of the woman he loves. It’s only then he can truly become both an Officer and a Gentleman.

Four-time Laurence Olivier Award nominated actress Emma Williams will play ‘Paula Pokrifki’. Emma’s previous credits include ‘Truly Scrumptious’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mrs Henderson Presents and Love Story, all in the West End. Emma won the What's On Stage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for playing ‘Helen’ in Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Jonny Fines will play the iconic role of ‘Zack Mayo’ – the role made famous by Richard Gere in the beloved 80s film. Jonny most recently played the role of ‘Rooster’ in the West End production of Annie at The Piccadilly Theatre.  Other theatre credits include the UK Tours of The Sound of Music and Avenue Q.

Ray Shell will play ‘Foley’. Ray is probably most famous for creating the roles of ‘Rusty’ in Starlight Express and ‘Nomax’ in Five Guys Named Moe, both in the West End.  His other theatre credits include the iconic productions of Miss Saigon and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ian McIntosh will play ‘Sid Worley’. Ian is an Olivier nominated actor for his role in the West End production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, his other credits include The Commitments and Rock of Ages.

Jessica Daley will play ‘Lynette Pomeroy’. Jessica was a finalist on the BBC 1’s Over The Rainbow and previous theatre credits include Mamma Mia! In the West End and the UK Tour of The Sound of Music.

An Officer and a Gentleman is one of the highest grossing films of all time. The screenplay is by writer and director Douglas Day Stewart which was based on his personal experience as a Naval Officer Candidate. The book is co-written by Douglas and Sharleen Cooper Cohen. Directed by Nikolai Foster, Choreographed by Kate Prince, Musical Supervision by Tony Award-winning Sarah Travis with Set and Costume design by Olivier Award nominated designer Michael Taylor. Orchestrations are by George Dyer, Lighting Design is by Ben Cracknell, Sound Design by Tom Marshall and Video Design by Douglas O’Connell.

Photos by Manuel Harlan
An Officer and a Gentleman plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 18 – Saturday 23 June 2018.  Tickets are on sale from Fri 8 Sep at 9am priced from £23.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).