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Monday, 20 August 2018

Preview: Two Pints at Newcastle Live Theatre

British Premiere for Roddy Doyle’s hit play Two Pints at Live Theatre, Newcastle and The Peacock, Sunderland

Two Pints
Newcastle Live Theatre –
Wednesday 12 - Sunday 23 September 2018

Sunderland Peacock –
Tuesday 25 - Friday 28 September 2018

Roddy Doyle’s play Two Pints produced by Abbey Theatre, Dublin, the National Theatre of Ireland, has its British Premiere in the North East when it comes to Live Theatre, Newcastle and The Peacock, Sunderland this September.

Lorcan Cranitch and Liam Carney
in Two Pints by Roddy Doyle
 Photo: Ros Kavanagh
This hilarious and provocative play by the Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter writer known for hit film The Commitments, novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and numerous other novels and plays, started as a conversation on Facebook which gained a large following. Doyle brought the two characters to life in a play, in which two men meet in a pub for a pint, chew the fat, and set the world to rights, which became a sell-out success touring pubs across Ireland last year.

Roddy Doyle said “When I wrote Two Pints, I didn’t envisage it being performed in a pub, but it is part of the adventure. The play is being put on in a context that is unfamiliar to me – that excites me.”

Joe Douglas, Artistic Director, Live Theatre, added: “We are delighted to host the British debut of Roddy Doyle’s comedy Two Pints, that has been a sell-out success across Ireland. We look forward to bringing it to audiences in Newcastle and Sunderland, in association with Sunderland Culture and as part of the Culture Ireland GB programme. The show is usually performed in pubs, so at Live Theatre, the bar is returning into the main theatre space. Audiences can get a pint, pull up a chair and listen in to the conversation at the bar. In Sunderland, we are delighted to have the perfect pub-setting ready-made in the beautifully restored The Peacock pub on Keel Square. Wherever you see Two Pints expect big laughs and good craic.”

Starring Liam Carney and Philip Judge, and directed by Abbey Theatre’s Associate Director Caitríona McLaughlin, Two Pints stops off at pubs in Ireland and has its only British dates at Live Theatre, Newcastle, where the bar will return into the Theatre, serving pints of Guinness to audience members, and The Peacock Pub, Sunderland which will stock Guinness especially for the play.

‘Achingly, breathtakingly funny’ – Sunday Independent
‘A play about what lies beneath banter’ – The Irish Times
‘It’s an absolute gem’ – The Sunday Times

Presented in the UK by Live Theatre in association with Sunderland Culture, Two Pints is suitable for ages 18+ and comes to Live Theatre, Quayside, Newcastle from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 23 September, and The Peacock Pub, High Street West, Sunderland from Tuesday 25 to Friday 28 September. Tickets for both venues are available from Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232 or online at www.live.org.uk and a small number of tickets for the performances at Sunderland are available from the Peacock Pub, Sunderland.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

REVIEW: When the Boat Comes In at South Shields Customs House

Jack Comes Home

When the Boat Comes In
South Shields Customs House
Thursday 15th - Saturday 25th August 2018

When The Boat Comes In is the world premier of the adaptation of the TV series that ran on the BBC between 1976 and 1981. Written by the original TV series playwright’s son, Peter Mitchell, it is set in the fictional South Tyneside coastal town of Gallowshield. The tale begins in 1919 and poverty, coal mining and ship building are major factor in the day to day lives of the working classes. The resultant production is blessed with good writing, strong acting and sensitive direction.

Sargent Jack Ford arrives back in his home time, still in his World War One army uniform. He is on discharge leave and he is staying in lodgings as he has no family left. He meets up with young Jessie Seaton at the cinema and starts a political discussion. This results in an invite for dinner back at her parent’s house for a chance to continue the debate. Her father Bill is a proud man who has initial reservations about Jack’s approach. Jack is streetwise and soon adapts to surviving civilian life in this struggling North East town.

Major big scale themes underpin the action: Were returning uniformed soldiers readily accepted back into society? Were the jobs fit for heroes? Could the fledgling Labour movement rise up against the existing political classes? Could they ensure the privately owned mines and shipyards were are safe as they could be? Was homophobia an issue at the time?

But more importantly the main thrust of the plot is about family life and the effects immediately following a major conflict.

You have some very strong characters within the ensemble.  The outstanding Jamie Brown excels as the central Jack the lad character. Charming and egocentric. His love interest Jessie is also a strong identifiable character. A school teacher by day, she has radical political ideals and is willing to be counted. Alice Stokoe gives real strength to this vital role.

Supporting these central characters are Jack's best friend Matt (Charlie Richmond), his sister Dolly (Anna Bolton), along with Jessie's proud parents Bill (Steve Byron) and Bella (Janine Birkett) who add texture to the central action.

There is always a worry when multiple roles are portrayed by a single actor that the audience will follow that this is now someone different.  However, this is not an issue in this case as characterization of each role is sufficiently distinctive and full credit goes to Luke Maddison, Matthew Howdon and Sarah Balfour for pulling it off. Luke in particular had some hard, contrasting roles to pull off: from post-traumatic stress disorder victim to medical student. He continues to grow as an actor in the local scene.

The writing and direction result into a faster paced drama than I remember the original TV series being. Director Katy Weir and movement director Malcolm Shields keep the action tight and no scene or issue runs longer than it needs to.  A disclaimer here is that I've not seen the original show since it was first broadcast. The set (Alison Ashton), lighting (Kev Tweedy) and sound design (Nick John Williams) all combine to keep the action seamless.

The Customs House has, since Man and a Donkey, frequently punched above its’ weight and relatively modest means in creating special productions that retain a local flavour. This is no exception to that fine pedigree of shows.

Review by Stephen Oliver.
Photos by Chris J Allen for Wycombe 89 Media

Tickets for When the Boat Comes In are priced from £15 and performances start at 7.30pm, with 2.30pm matinees on Saturday, August 18, Thursday, August 23 and Saturday, August 25. To book, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visitwww.customshouse.co.uk.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Preview: Cilla and the Shades of the 60s at Whitley Bay Playhouse

The best musical theatre show celebrating Cilla’s life and music

Cilla and the Shades of the 60s
starring Victoria Jones as Cilla
Whitley Bay Playhouse                 
Tuesday 18 September 2018

‘Step inside love…I want you to stay!”

Yes she’s back!  The irrepressible, fabulous Victoria Jones will reprise her starring role as Cilla Black in the UK’s top touring show, Cilla and the Shades of the 60s, as it rolls into the autumn with extra dates to match public demand for tickets. 

This perfect musical stage show for families, Cilla fans and pop music fans of all ages, was a smash hit on its debut tour last year and repeated box office business earlier this year.   ‘Cilla and the Shades of the 60s’ stars the effervescent Victoria Jones as Cilla (left) and Eloise Tasker, Joanna Walters and Chanelle Nicole as The Shades.  Together, through music, song, dance, and witty comedy, they take the audience on a poptastic musical journey starting with the discovery of the teenage Cilla at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and presents many of the biggest hits by artists who changed the world of popular entertainment in the 1960s including Cilla, Dusty, Lulu, Tina Turner, the Beatles and more. 

The show features highlights of Cilla’s stellar career: by the time Cilla was 21 she was working with Beatles’ producer George Martin and was at No. 1 with ‘You’re My World’ and ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’.  She was Britain’s No. 1 female singer during the 1960s and subsequently became the most popular TV presenter with her own TV show ‘Cilla’ which ran 1966-1978 and ‘Blind Date’ which ran for a record breaking 18 years. 

Says Victoria Jones: “When I was growing up in Liverpool I loved watching Cilla on TV but it wasn’t till later that I discovered her music – and wow, I was hooked!  I was thrilled by her vocal range; her ballads are beautiful and she gave every song an emotional depth that was completely new to me as a budding singer.  She really inspired me to develop my voice and my performance. 

“I love performing in this show and I feel so lucky and proud to be associated with Cilla.  Cilla became a huge star at an incredibly new and exciting time for popular music; she was a trailblazer - she became the first woman to have her own television show and she remained relevant to generations of people.  This show gives me the opportunity of celebrating the sound and fashion of a generation of amazing women.  We always have a great time onstage - I guarantee lots of great music and a lorra lorra laughs!  We even have a ‘Blind Date’ section involving a member of the audience!”

On The Web:

Live photos: Rhian Cox. 
Studio photos: Darren Bell

Tickets are available from the theatre box office and online from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK: http://bit.ly/WBayCilla

Preview: Rock Of Ages at Darlington Hippodrome


Rock Of Ages
Darlington Hippodrome
Monday 8 - Saturday 13 October 2018

Danielle Hope will join the cast of award-winning smash-hit musical Rock Of Ages which comes to Darlington Hippodrome from Monday 8 October for a week-long run.

Danielle Hope
Danielle is perhaps best-known for having won BBC One's Over the Rainbow, which lead to her professional debut in the lead role of Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Wizard Of Oz at the London Palladium. Since then, Danielle has starred as Éponine in the West End production of Les Misérables, as Maria in the UK tour of The Sound Of Music, and recently finished touring the UK as Sandy in Grease.

Danielle will join the previously announced Kevin Kennedy, Zoe Birkett, Luke Walsh, Lucas Rush, Andrew Carthy, Vas Constanti and Rhiannon Chesterman.
Kevin Kennedy

Rock Of Ages is an LA love story lavished with over 25 classic rock anthems. Lose yourself in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair, and yes, they can come true!
Zoe Birkett

This hilarious musical comedy features classic rock anthems including We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Here I Go Again, Can't Fight this Feeling and I Want To Know What Love Is, played loud and proud by an awesome live band.

For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk.

Preview: Rumpelstiltskin at Darlington Hippodrome


Darlington Hippodrome
Saturday 1 - Sunday 2 September 2018

Performed by world-class dancers and a local intergenerational cast of children and older adults, balletLORENT brings the beloved tale of Rumpelstiltskin to life at Darlington Hippodrome on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 September.

balletLORENT 's award-winning team who brought you Rapunzel and Snow White are back with an original adaptation of this beloved tale Rumpelstiltskin, directed by Liv Lorent and retold by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Rumpelstiltskin is the story of the outsider shunned for being different. He is the original super mutant, and fairytale X-man.

A story of love, obsession, grief and reconciliation in a show made as much for adults as it is for children.

With a score by Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, costumes designed by Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones), narration by actor Ben Crompton (Game of Thrones), set design by Phil Eddolls, and lighting design by Malcolm Rippeth and Michael Morgan, this is dance theatre for 21st century family audiences.

Performed by 8 of balletLORENT's professional dancers, who are joined by an inter-generational cast of children (aged 4-9 yrs) and elderly people (aged 65+ yrs) who have been sourced through local primary schools, and community groups. This really is a show for all the family!

Recommended age 7+

For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk

Thursday, 16 August 2018

REVIEW: Stomp at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Perfection In Percussion

Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 18th August 2018

Created & Directed by Luke Cresswell & Steve McNicholas

Silent comedy and drums. Certainly no one speaks. Instead the action does the talking. After 26 years Stomp is still able to fill theatres, and no wonder as the show breaks down barriers in a way usually reserved for pantomime. After the 1 hour 45 minute performance the Theatre Royal audience rose to their feet to recognise the talent that had entertained them.

This show works for all ages. You have the non-verbal comedy of Buster Keaton or Mr Bean coupled with the rhythmic gymnastics of an 80s drum solo from the likes of Cozy Powell or Randy Castillo. The eight performers layer the rhythms using a variety of objects from bins to shopping trolleys filled with boxes and carboys.

Things begin simply enough. A lone performer starts sweeping the stage. He introduces a rhythm to the sweeping action and then bands the head of the brush. Before you know it, the stage is filled with synchronised brushing.

There is some characterisation including a cap wearing performer who is the butt of a number of jokes. Another performer tends to lead the audience with their contribution, and the sound of a theatre clapping and stamping in concert is a joy too.  However, for much of the show it is a big ensemble piece, just like a dance show, with 8 of the 10 performers listed in the programme appearing on any single show.

The performers tend to come from a musical/drumming background and yet their choreography and fluidity of movement suggests something more dance orientated.

This is a unique show in which the full show is much greater than the sum of the individual parts. It is funny, energetic and yes, it makes you want to tap everything as you leave.  It is worth checking out if you’ve not seen it before.

Review by Stephen Oliver

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 www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge.)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Preview: George Ezra at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena

George Ezra announces UK arena tour
George Ezra
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
Thursday 7th March 2019

Tickets on sale Friday 17th August 2018 at 9am: http://bit.ly/GeorgeEzraNCL

Number 1 album staying at tamara’s​ ​ out now number 1 single ‘shotgun’ out now

George Ezra today continues his phenomenal ascent with the announcement of his first ever headline arena tour. The tour takes in 10 arena shows across the UK beginning at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Thursday 7 March. Tickets the for show go on sale at 9am on Friday 17 August and will be available online from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK: http://bit.ly/GeorgeEzraNCL.

“WE’RE GOING ON TOUR!” says George. “And not just any tour, the biggest run of dates that I will have ever played, ending at the O2 in London (The Millennium Dome). Touring these new songs along with all of the first album has meant that the last year has been the most amazing twelve months imaginable, to all of you that have made a show so far, thank you. And to all of you that we will see next year, hold tight! Get practising those songs, polishing off your dancing shoes, let’s make it one to remember.”

The announcement comes fresh from George headlining Boardmasters Festival and ahead of his long since sold out autumn 2018 UK tour this November. His acclaimed number 1 album Staying At Tamara’s is officially the biggest selling album released so far this year and remains in the top five of the Official Albums Chart 20 weeks after release, whilst his current single ‘Shotgun’ became his first ever number 1 single in June.

Staying At Tamara’s is George’s second UK Number 1 album, hitting the summit in March. Staying At Tamara’s also features lead single ‘Paradise,’ which peaked at Number 2 in the UK singles chart and has now been certified Platinum, and ‘Hold My Girl’, ‘Pretty Shining People’, ‘Saviour,’ and ‘Don’t Matter Now’. The album is available in digital, CD, cassette and vinyl formats, and arrived nearly four years after the release of his multi-platinum and also-chart topping debut album Wanted On Voyage. 

Not content with hitting the summit of the album and singles charts, George is also a chart-topping podcaster, with his series George Ezra & Friends shooting straight to number 1 on the iTunes Podcast Chart on launch and being nominated for numerous awards. George Ezra & Friends is a unique podcast series in which he spends an extended period of time with a musician friend in an often intimate, funny and revealing one-to-one conversation. Series 1 recently wrapped up with a no holds barred chat with one of music's all time legends, Elton John, which followed previous episodes with Ed Sheeran, Lily Allen, Sam Smith, Craig David, Rag’n’Bone Man, London Grammar’s Hannah Reid and many more.

Tickets will go on sale 9.00am Friday 17th August and are available online from our affiliates Ticketmaster UK: http://bit.ly/GeorgeEzraNCL, 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.

Under 14’s must be accompanied by an adult and must hold a seated ticket (under 14’s are not allowed in the standing area). A maximum of 6 tickets per person with names on tickets – full rules below.

Tickets are available from:-
·        Credit Card Booking and Information Line 0844 493 6666
·        The Metro Radio Arena Newcastle Box Office (Mon – Sat 11.00am-3pm)
·        Online from our affiliates Ticketmaster UK: http://bit.ly/GeorgeEzraNCL
·        Group Bookers should call (0844) 844 2121
·        Accessible Bookings should call 0800 988 4440 for further details

To make sure that as many tickets as possible get into the hands of genuine fans, the full name of the lead booker will be printed on each ticket, and the lead booker’s photo ID will need to be presented on entry to the venue.

If you are buying more than one ticket your guests will need to enter at the same time as you, failure to do so will result in guests being turned away.  If the lead booker is unable to attend the gig then please contact Ticketmaster UK via their helpdesk. Tickets can only be resold via our official resale partner Twickets, at face value or less – resale of tickets through any other channel will lead to those tickets being cancelled.

Please only purchase tickets from the venue’s official ticketing partner Ticketmaster or those listed on GeorgeEzra.com to make sure you’re buying tickets at the right price, from the right place.