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A young performer has been supported by the Chloe & Liam Together Forever Trust to enable him to take part in The Customs House Summer School.

The Customs House Summer School
choreographer Bethany Slavin
and director Gareth Hunter
with Franscisco
Diego Benicio Sousa.
Ten-year-old Francisco Diego Benicio Sousa, who came to South Shields from Portugal with his mother when he was four, heard about the Summer School from his teacher at SS Peter and Paul RC Primary School.

He enjoys singing in choirs both at the school and St Peter and St Paul RC Church, both in Tyne Dock, South Shields, and has performed in several school plays – although he dreams of becoming a footballer when he grows up.

Francisco’s place at The Customs House Summer School has been funded by the Chloe & Liam Together Forever Trust, set up in memory of keen performer Chloe Rutherford, 17, and sportsman Liam Curry, 19.

The South Shields couple were killed in the bomb attack at Manchester Arena in May 2017 and their families set up the charity to keep their memory alive by supporting young people pursuing the same dreams as they did in sport and the arts.

Chloe’s mum, Lisa, said: “Having recently seen Francisco perform and due to all the love and support the Chloe & Liam Together Forever Trust is continuing to receive, we as a charity are thrilled to be able to give him this amazing experience.”  

The Customs House Summer School, which includes a cast of 35 children and young people from South Tyneside and the surrounding area, is performing the musical comedy The Addams Family this year and Francisco is part of the ensemble.

He said: “I was told about the Summer School by my teacher and I was very excited, but I didn’t know there was going to be so many children involved. That was a big surprise, but I am making a lot of friends. I am playing a zombie and although I don’t have any lines – because zombies don’t talk – I have been practising some moves and walking like a zombie.”

The Customs House Summer School takes place during the first three weeks of the school summer holidays, with daily rehearsals culminating in several performances of the show over a number of days.  Previous shows have included last year’s award-winning Legally Blonde: The Musical, Bring It On, Annie and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

The Addams Family will be performed at 7pm on Friday, August 10, and 2pm and 6pm on Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12.
Tickets, priced £10, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

Preview: Wicked at Sunderland Empire



Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 4th – Saturday 29th September 2018

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical sensation that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, returns to Sunderland Empire in just 6 weeks for an exclusive and final North East engagement from Thursday 6 September for 4 weeks only.


An amazing show that drew massive crowds last time” (Sunderland Echo), Wicked was previously seen by more than 56,000 people during its original engagement at Sunderland Empire in 2015, receiving standing ovations from audiences and rave reviews:

Something Wicked this way stuns! One of the most exciting musicals of recent times and the ultimate Broadway experience for theatre audiences all over the UK.” THE NORTHERN ECHO

This most magical of musicals, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, has landed on Wearside and it’s lost none of its West End sparkle. The sets shimmer and the cast soar - quite literally!”

This spellbinding musical has caused quite a stir on Wearside and I was completely blown away. It’s fast-paced, witty and a spectacular treat for the eyes.” NORTHUMBERLAND ECHO

Amy Ross as Elphaba
Photo: Matt Crockett 
Since its premiere in Manchester in 2013, this gigantic and celebrated touring production, involving over 100 people onstage and behind the scenes, has not only dazzled audiences across the UK but also in China, the Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland and Ireland. It will take 13 articulated lorries to transport the show’s spectacular sets, props and costumes to Sunderland in September, making a 330-mile journey from Dublin. When they arrive, a backstage team of 60 will work for 3 days to build the production and prepare the theatre for the first performance. This includes creating an area backstage known as ‘Wardrobe Village’, which will house the show’s 350 award-winning costumes, 75 wigs, 140 pairs of shoes, 110 hats, 125 pairs of gloves and 30 prosthetic masks. On stage, one of the first things audiences will see as they enter the auditorium is a giant mechanical dragon, which hangs 7.5 metres above the stage with a wingspan of 11 metres.

The acclaimed cast of 31 features Amy Ross as Elphaba, Helen Woolf as Glinda, Aaron Sidwell (best known as ‘Steven Beale’ in EastEnders) as Fiyero, Steven Pinder (best known as ‘Max Farnham’ in Brookside) as The Wizard & Doctor Dillamond, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarose and Iddon Jones as Boq. Nikki Bentley is Standby for Elphaba.

Wicked transports audiences to a stunningly re-imagined world of Oz, providing wonders beyond the imagination. The “spellbinding smash hit” (Time Out) is already the 6th longest running Broadway show of all time and the 14th longest running West End show of all time.  Around the world, WICKED has been seen by over 55 million people and won more than 100 major awards, including three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Awards in the UK.

Photo by Matt Crockett features
Helen Woolf and Aaron Sidwell
Based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Was the infamous Wicked Witch of the West really wicked, or the innocent victim of a corrupt regime?

When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire’s “outstanding novel” (The Independent), ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, ingeniously re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900.

Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Experience this unforgettable musical and discover that you’ve not been told the whole story about the Land of Oz…

Amy Ross as Elphaba
Photo: Matt Crockett 
Wicked has music and lyrics by Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and Tony Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin; Disney’s Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted; DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt) and is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire and adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life). Scenic designer Eugene Lee and costume designer Susan Hilferty each won 2004 Tony Awards for their stunning designs. Music arrangements are by Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton) and Stephen Oremus (Disney’s Frozen). Musical staging is by Wayne Cilento and the production is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello.

Wicked is produced around the world by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK) Michael McCabe.

On The Web:
Official website:
Twitter: @WickedUK
Facebook: /WickedUK 
Instagram: @WickedUK

Wicked is suitable for a general audience. As a guide to parents, guardians and teachers, it is recommended for ages 7+. All persons entering the theatre, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Children under 3 years of age will not be admitted.

The producers cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness, injury and statutory leave entitlement.

Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ is published by Headline.  The book is recommended for readers aged 16+

The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast recording on Decca Broadway


Tickets 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 at  *
*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your plus your phone company's access charge. Booking and transaction fees may apply.

Group Bookings: 08448717655
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Preview: Channy at Newcastle Arena

Channy’s Community Concert

Channy - The Unstoppable Concert
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena,
Monday 17th December 2018

Newcastle’s own Independent solo female artist Channy, is set to rocket her career to unimaginable heights when she launches ‘The Unstoppable Concert’ in her hometown at Metro Radio Arena on Monday 17th December 2018.

Channy says ‘since attending my first concert at the age of 14, I left the venue in absolute awe, feeling so inspired by the whole experience. It has been an absolute dream of mine to headline Metro Radio Arena ever since.
The fact that it is actually happening still hasn’t sunk in. What makes this opportunity bigger for me is that I am just a local girl with no management or TV platform, I am working solidly and I am proving that hard work can pay off!’

Originating from the West End of Newcastle Channy’s down to earth ‘girl next door’ personality shines through both on and off stage. As the young ambassador for NE Youth, Channy has created a Community driven Concert supported by NE Youth, who she is donating 50% of the profits, so they can continue the great work they do.

Together as one, Channy and NE Youth are making positive change and inspiring other young people that ‘anything is possible’.
As schools, community groups and fans join us to attend the concert; Channy is making it her goal to be the role model that she needed growing up.

Using her musical talents, her mission has been to prove, no matter your background, you only get out of life what you’re willing to put in.

Come along to enjoy the Unstoppable Party as Channy brings the festive season to life, inviting special guests, dancers, a DJ and competition winners to join her in celebrating the release of her debut single, at an unprecedented stage experience of epic proportions.

‘Help us make a positive difference this Christmas'

Tickets are available online from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK: , 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.

Preview: BLACK MAGIC - The Little Mix Show at Whitley Bay Playhouse

BLACK MAGIC - The Little Mix Show
Whitley Bay Playhouse
Thursday 16th August 2018 at 7pm

BLACK MAGIC – The Little Mix Show is an exciting high-energy pop concert theatre show suitable for all ages. Based on the biggest hits from award-winning girl band Little Mix, the concert tour will be travelling to UK theatres throughout the Summer holidays, 2018. Suitable for kids, tweens, teens and adults alike, families up and down the country will be getting their Summers started with The Little Mix Show!

Producer Matt Brinkler says: “We’ve loved creating The Little Mix Show. After our Only One Direction show toured the World between 2012-2016, creating a show around Little Mix was the natural progression. We love the music and we wanted to bring something to the audience that was more than the tributes or lookalike shows available. Families are looking for higher quality productions that are as good as the real thing, but at a family friendly price. We’re proud to say that is exactly what we have achieved with this show. Higher quality productions that are as good as the real thing, but at a family friendly price”

Hot off the heels of their nationwide sell-out tour in 2017/18, the Black Magic girls continue their success with a fourth UK tour! Some songs in the show have been updated for 2018/19 so the show features the newest hits, including: No More Sad Songs & Power as well as the original classics Wings, Black Magic & Shoutout to My Ex.

For members of the audience that like a little variety, the show also includes new arrangements unique to Black Magic from artists Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston, Lady Gaga & Rihanna.

BLACK MAGIC – The Little Mix Show tours exclusively to theatres arrives in Whitley Bay in August.

Choreographer: Rebecca Jeffrey (Steps, FIVE, 911, Atomic Kitten, Spirit of the Dance)
Set Design: David Shields (Little Shop of Horrors UK Tour, AltarBoyz London, Our House UK Tour)
Lighting Design: Sam Lisher (Miss Saigon UK Tour, Stormzy, Thriller Live Westend)

Tickets available from the Playhouse Box Office and online from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK:

Preview: Burning Books at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

What should schools do when they are losing so many teachers?

Burning Books
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 4th – Friday 7th September 2018


A powerful and humorous look at an education system buckling under government cuts and targets. A story of protest and the teachers who fight back. From the school librarian who took on Michael Gove…. 

Back in 2014, poet Jess Green hit a nerve when her YouTube post of the poem Dear Mr Gove became an overnight must-see. Over 300,000 views, one book, a UK tour and several festival performances later, the former school librarian is taking the stage play based on her hard-hitting poetry around the UK.
Dear Mr Gove instantly went viral among teachers disenchanted with the Coalition Government’s education reforms, and Jess - herself from a family of teachers – found herself under the spotlight as an artist speaking up on behalf of the teachers she had seen first-hand being demoralised by unrealistic targets. Commissioned to write a piece for the National Union of Teachers, she said: 

“After I posted the Gove poem online I received hundreds of emails from teachers. Many were rousing, angry calls to action and others, usually the ones that came in the middle of the night, were terribly sad. Emails that talked about impossible workloads, unreachable targets, pressure and worry and hopelessness.” The daughter of a (very proud) Head teacher in Leicester, Jess has been delivering workshops to teachers and students alike for over five years now.

Funded by Arts Council England on its UK tour, the play poses the question: what should schools do when they are losing so many teachers? On Teach First student Kat’s first day at Hurstville Community College, Nicky Morgan announces forced academisation for all state schools. Kat is ready for the picket line but her attempts to join the NUT are met with contempt by union stalwart Janine. The head teacher is invisible and the staff are more concerned about losing their staff room, disappearing books and a History teacher who hasn’t been seen for weeks. 

Jess has performed at Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Her first collection, Burning Books, was shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and as a poetry and music show received 5* reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and on its national tour. 

The theatre adaptation of Burning Books was longlisted for the Bread & Roses Theatre Award in 2016 and performed to sell-out audiences at Curve Theatre in Leicester.

Jess’s second poetry and music show, A Self Help Guide To Being In Love With Jeremy Corbyn, based around her second collection of the same name and performed with her band The Mischief Thieves, goes to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. Jess also runs Leicester poetry night Find The Right Words, which was shortlisted for Best Regular UK Poetry Event in the Saboteur Awards 2018.

An internet sensation” – The Independent

Green as struck a chord with exhausted teachers up and down the country” - The Guardian

 Grippingly inventive and immensely touching. Green’s voice is urgent, important and immensely enjoyable; she deserves to be heard” – Broadway Baby

Brilliant. Her words have certainly struck a chord with teachers” – Huffington Post

A play that will ring true for every teacher in the country!” – National Union Teachers

Burning Books comes to Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre Tuesday 4th – Friday 7th September 2018.
Show Begins: 7.30pm
Tickets: Pay What You Feel
Age Recommendation: 12+
Running Time: approx. 1 hour


Preview: Stomp at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Newcastle Theatre Royal
Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th August 2018

Fresher, faster and funnier than ever, the multi-award winning theatrical spectacle Stomp is set to make a return to Newcastle Theatre Royal as the unstoppable smash touches down.

A unique combination of percussion, dance and comedy, Stomp is a stage spectacle in a genre of its own. Combining dance, comedy and music into a theatrical experience like no other, Stomp takes familiar objects like newspapers, bins, plastic bags and even the kitchen sink and uses them to create a universal language of rhythm and movement that’s playful, thrilling and exploding with energy.

Back in Newcastle by popular demand, the show was born in Brighton, UK, in the summer of 1991 and from humble beginnings, Stomp has grown into a truly global phenomenon that will set your toes tapping and your pulse racing. From acclaimed performances at the Edinburgh Fringe to large outdoor events, the legend of Stomp grew in ambition and scope, gaining legions of fans along the way and becoming the theatrical sensation it is today.

The Stomp cast performed to packed Newcastle Theatre Royal audiences in 2000 and 2016 and their talents were showcased in the closing ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics.

Stomp comes to Newcastle Theatre Royal Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th August 2018 playing evenings at 7.30pm, matinees on Fri 2pm and Sat 2.30pm. Tickets from £14.00 can be purchased online at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge.)

Preview: Dressing Room at Darlington Hippodrome


The Dressing Room
Darlington Hippodrome
Tuesday 11th September 2018

Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball will be performing in the hilarious new play The Dressing Room, written by Bobby Ball, at Darlington Hippodrome on Tuesday 11th September.

The Dressing Room is described as part play, part variety show - or as Bobby likes to call it a ‘play-riety’. With fellow comedians Stu Francis and Johnnie Casson the play is set in a theatre and promises to give an insight into backstage gossip and what the acts really think of the audience and other things that an audience would not usually get to see that go on backstage before each performer takes to the stage.

On 18 May 1974 Cannon and Ball appeared on an episode of the variety show, The Wheeltappers And Shunters Club. Set in a working men's club environment, their act stood out showing a glimmer of what was hiding beneath the surface waiting to jump out and take the world by storm. By 1985 the duo were the hottest comedy act around. Now, in 2018, Cannon and Ball are the longest running comedy double act in Britain and truly deserve the title the Kings of Comedy.

The Dressing Room is at Darlington Hippodrome on Tuesday 11 September.
For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit

Preview: Barry Steele & Friends at Sunderland Empire

Barry Steele & Friends - The 30 Special The Roy Orbison Story
Friday 3rd August 2018

He’s the man with the sunglasses and the black suit who delivered some of the world’s darkest and most emotional ballads, yet Texas-born Roy Orbison remains one of the most distinctive looking, and sounding performers in modern music.  The one and only Barry Steele take’s on the role in The Roy Orbison Story. He comes with great credentials and a genuine admiration for the Big O. Now he is set to put the rock back into ‘Roy Orbison’ as he takes to the stage to commemorate this legend in The Roy Orbison Story.

Expect what is being billed as an upbeat and contemporary slant on Orbison's legacy, as Barry Steele and Friends take audiences on a musical journey from the early Sun years right through to the late 1980s, when Orbison was experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity and worked with Bono, Bruce Springsteen and others including original super group 'The Traveling Wilburys.'

So get ready for a night of solid gold hits and 2018 contemporary genius as The Roy Orbison Story celebrates the musical legacy of The Big O. The production also features original material written but never sung by Roy Orbison and showcases orchestrational elements of the 2018 Hologram Tour.  

A magnificent cast of singers and musicians will also be performing chart busting hits from Jerry Lee Lewis, Procol Harum, Del Shannon, Chris Isaak, The Spencer Davis Group and The Traveling Wilburys; Barry Steele has been stunning audiences with his uncanny ability to recreate the vocal talents of the legendary Roy Orbison, winning rave reviews across the globe. His vocal talents are quite simply ‘True Identikit Brilliance.’

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliate ATG Tickets: *

*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

Preview: Robert Temple at Sunderland Empire


Robert Temple
Sunderland Empire
Wednesday 1st August 2018

Home grown hypnotist Robert Temple is bringing his controversial Live and Outrageous show to the Sunderland Empire for one night only, Wednesday 1 August 2018.

His appearance at Sunderland Empire comes during a break from his marathon UK tour which will see him perform in theatres from Dorset to Dundee.

He ‘cut his teeth’ performing hundreds of shows for audiences of lively tourists in Kos and Corfu and fresher students and although his hair is red what comes out of his mouth is definitely blue.

His dad was a stage hand at Sunderland Empire and, growing up in Sunderland, Robert – then a budding magician - saw countless pantomimes, shows and concerts on the mesmerising stage. 

“He’s 75 now and still tells stories about the old days at the theatre, so I suppose it’s about time I had stories of my own,” said 30-year-old Robert, who already has a colourful career under his belt. 

The show is edgy and outrageous but falls in line with the strict regulations governing stage hypnotism. “Nobody has ever done a show like this on a scale like this. The audience knows what’s in store when they buy a ticket and nobody is hypnotised against their will. It’s an evening where people can forget all about their inhibitions – literally,” he added.

Robert’s stage persona and appearance are in stark contrast to the angelic-looking young boy who posed for pictures with his hero Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee.

He was one of the UK’s best young magicians, but turned his back on magic when he was a teenager and discovering hypnotism.
“When somebody shows you a card trick you think it’s clever, but you know it’s a trick.  With hypnosis there’s this air of mysticism.  That’s one of the reasons why people come to my shows, but it’s just the starting point for the entertainment,” he said.  

Paul Daniels, who died in 2016 remains his inspiration. “We’d talk at magic conventions and I would e-mail him and he would reply.  He didn’t ever come to the North without me seeing his show. Watching him perform was like attending a master class for anybody wanting to be involved in comedy entertainment,” said Robert.   

Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliate ATG Tickets:*

*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.