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Friday, 19 October 2018

Preview: Cinderella at Newcastle People’s Theatre

Cinderella is coming to the People’s Theatre Ball

Newcastle People’s Theatre
Saturday 8th – Sunday 16th December 2018

There’s magic in the air here at the People’s this December!

Cinderella, Prince Charming, Dandini and all their friends will be at the People’s Theatre to bring a sparkling shower of fairy tinsel to wintry Heaton in our fun-packed Panto for the whole family.

Photos: Paula Smart
Cheer for Fairy Moonglow as she works her magic to get Cinders to the Ball, and boo hiss Mother Malady and those evil Ugly Sisters and they do everything in their power to stop her.

Following his successes as Wishy Washee in last year’s sold-out smash Aladdin and Jack in Jack And The Beanstalk the year before, Joe Robson returns as lovelorn Buttons.

Don’t let the clock strike midnight - get booking to avoid disappointment

£14.50 (children and concessions £12)
Box Office: 0191 265 5020
Online:       www.peoplestheatre.co.uk

Preview: Peter Pan at Whitley Bay Playhouse

Producers promise not to make this year’s Whitley Bay Pantomime Peter Pan too Blue

Blue Genie Entertainment Ltd. Present

Peter Pan

Whitley Bay Playhouse
Saturday 1st December 2018 – Saturday 5th January 2019

Blue Genie Entertainment, producers of the hugely popular pantomime at the Playhouse Whitley Bay, have announced Antony Costa from the sensational pop band Blue will headline this year’s Pantomime, Peter Pan. Antony is set to play the evil Captain Hook in this swashbuckling adventure.

Antony joins the hugely popular local funny guy and all round entertainer Steve Walls, who returns to the Playhouse for his ninth year in panto playing the part of Smee.

Producer Gary Telfer said: “We can’t wait to produce ‘Peter Pan’ this year; it is without a doubt the most spectacular pantomime of them all! It’s going to have the most amazing special effects ever. We will also have plenty of Pirates, Indians, and Mermaids too. This year is going to be our biggest and best year ever and we are thrilled to have signed such a high quality performer as Antony Costa. Blue are still hugely popular all over the UK and their last album sold over 2 million copies, Antony is extremely popular and he is also a fantastic performer; he has performed in many pantomimes up and down the country as well as performing in Blood Brothers in London’s West End.”

“Antony can be seen can be seen this summer touring with his band Blue who are performing with Steps all over the UK. The Playhouse pantomime attracts more and more people each year, in fact most of the shows sold out last year. We are keen to continue building the reputation that we have built in Whitley Bay, which has grown dramatically over the last 5 years. Last year we catered for almost 25,000 people.”

This year’s production of Peter Pan will run for 63 action-packed performances from 1st December 2018 – 5th January 2019.

Tickets costing from £15 are on sale now and already selling fast.
Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online from our affiliates Ticketmaster UK: http://bit.ly/PeterPanWBay *

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

REVIEW: Future Bodies at Newcastle Northern Stage


HOME & Unlimited Theatre co-production in collaboration with RashDash present:
Future Bodies
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Thursday 18th October 2018

Unlimited Theatre return to Northern Stage with another cracker. We wouldn’t expect anything else. Their shows have been thought provoking whether they were family shows like Mission To Mars, a game show concept MONEY The Gameshow or mind boggling drama such as The Noise. Add in a touch of RashDash and we have a very deep, yet accessible show.

This is another show which combines scientific ideas with a devastating twist of ethics. What is the relationship that we have with our brains? Would we want to upgrade our personal capacity? Should we build in features such as sat nav or mobile phones? Would you want a company adding chips to your brain and sending you upgrades? Will these upgrades be any more successful than the ones on our laptops?

Then we can push the concept further: What if our children could have a distinct advantage if we approve their upgrades? What if our employer had access to our internal voice? If we uploaded our brain to a different substrate, will we be considered to be alive even if our physical body is dead? This is a big set of questions that are not that far from needing to be answered soon. Funnily enough, as I left the theatre I witnessed a number of students milling around outside all wired up to their phones – perhaps this is the next logical step?

Arriving in Stage 2, the set is imposing in the performance space. The frame was reminiscent of Mission To Mars. In the window of the frame was a plastic curtain, like the type you see on a cold store. This would be used as both a backdrop and a projection screen as the dialogue and song lyrics were projected on the set. On the left was a musical performance stage on which Becky White would deliver live dressed in futuristic blue (remember Hazel O’Connor in the final big stage scene in Breaking Glass?)

The sound design can be described as loud as it filled the room with either music or sound effects. Lighting picked off the action around the set which eventually revealed itself to be a box with a soil filled floor.

This is very much an ensemble piece. The cast of 6 engaging in a series of skits to describe both the technology and the ethics behind it. From the parent refusing to have their children fitted through to the employee questioning the lack of privacy that such a fitting would make. They are thoroughly engaging and they quickly draw you in to this world without giving a value judgement – that is something that they leave to the audience.  To the cast’s credit: it is easy to follow the constantly changing foci as the action moves from one pair of actors to another group.

This is very much a thought-provoking piece that had my brain working overtime as I drove home. It was also an entertaining show as you relate to each event on stage. As someone who enjoys the ability to switch off I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being hooked up to the grid. The openness of the presentation enables the audience to make up their own mind – so the rest of the audience may disagree with me.

Having said that, I’m not sure what was happening on the final 15 minutes. I don’t mind admitting I was lost there!

I look forward to seeing what Unlimited and RashDash come up with next.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Cast and Creatives:
Co-created by Clare Duffy, Abbi Greenland, Helen Goalen, Jon Spooner and Becky Wilkie
Script by Clare Duffy and Abbi Greenland
Original songs and music by Becky Wilkie
Performed by Deshaye Gayle, Alison Halstead, Kate Maravan, Lara Steward, Yusra Warsarma and Becky Wilkie
Directed by Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland
Set and Costume design by Rhys Jarman
Lighting & Video Design by Josh Pharo and Sarah Readman
Sound Design by Becky Wilkie and Joel Clements
Stage Managed by Alyssa Watts, Alice Winter and Amy Chandler  

Photos: Jonathan Keenan

FUTURE BODIES - TUE 16 – THU 18 OCT 7.45pm at Northern Stage 
Tickets from £10
Recommended age: 16+

Tickets available online from www.northernstage.co.uk/Event/future-bodies or from the box office on: 0191 230 5151

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

NEWS: Newcastle Theatre Royal has been voted the North East’s ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ for the fourth year


Newcastle Theatre Royal has been voted the North East’s ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ for the fourth year in succession at the prestigious UK Theatre Awards.

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide awards to honour achievement in regional theatre throughout the UK.  Over 170 theatres of all sizes from across the country competed to be named as the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre 2018 at a glittering ceremony in London on Sunday night. Newcastle Theatre Royal beat off stiff competition to scoop the North East title.

(L-R) Newcastle Theatre Royal's Susie Wardley,
Paula Mitchell and CEO Philip Bernays
Philip Bernays, Newcastle Theatre Royal chief executive said:  “To be the North East regional winner is just fantastic and to have received the accolade for the fourth year is particular pleasing as this award is determined by public votes alone. We have an extremely hardworking team here who always go that extra mile to make customers and visiting companies feel welcome and ensure they have a great experience at the theatre, and it’s wonderful to be recognised for this.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to vote for us, from our loyal and generous audiences to touring companies, sponsors, partners and participants. This award means a great deal because we are constantly striving to raise the bar in terms of the customer experience – we want everyone who comes through our doors or who interacts with our staff to be made to feel well looked after and right at home.”

Nick Swales chairman of Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust said:  “A huge thank you must be given to all the team at the theatre who always ensure a wonderful welcome is extended to every person who visits.  To be named as the North East’s Most Welcoming Theatre once again is a very richly deserved honour.”

Julian Bird, Chief Executive, UK Theatre, added: “Theatres play a vital role in communities across the UK, so it has been wonderful to see so many votes cast. This campaign brought together audiences, theatres, performers and producers and gave everyone the opportunity to celebrate their local venue.”

Preview: Future Bodies at Newcastle Northern Stage

HOME & Unlimited Theatre co-production in collaboration with RashDash present:
Future Bodies
Newcastle Northern Stage
Tuesday 16th – Thursday 18th October 2018

What does it mean to have and to be a body? As we increasingly fuse our biological brains with technology, at what point do we stop being human? Does it even matter? 

Together with two of the UK’s most innovative and inspiring theatre companies - Unlimited Theatre and RashDash - HOME’s World Premiere of Future Bodies in September 2018 immerses itself fully into these and other such probing questions, smashing together science fact and fiction, to create a thrilling theatrical exploration of the impact of science on human development.

This visceral and playful production - creatively captioned throughout to allow for full accessibility - fuses spoken word, live original music and movement through a series of humorous and thought-provoking vignettes to delve deep beneath the skin, peel back the layers, and shed a spotlight on consciousness, cutting-edge technology and its very real implications. 

Future Bodies imagines a future where anything is possible when it comes to biological enhancement. 

A fully collaborative production - Future Bodies was born in 2015 when Unlimited’s Artistic Director Jon Spooner was commissioned by the Science Museum to make an interactive performance installation about human enhancement technologies with RashDash’s Abbi Greenland as the main performer.

Future Bodies brings together other leading artists and UK-based scientists and researchers in the fields of brain implants, smart drugs, and biotechnologies to tell these stories, share ideas, and ultimately question the brain’s relationship to the body.

Playing numerous humans and occasionally body parts are a multi-talented and diverse cast of six. They are: Manchester actress Yusra Warsama (On Corporation Street /ANU Productions/HOME), recent TV appearances include Call The Midwife and Our Girl; RashDash’s Becky Wilkie who has written all the music and songs and was most recently seen in the Royal Exchange’s production of RashDash’s Three Sisters; Alison Halstead, following her acclaimed performance as La Poncia in Graeae and the Royal Exchange’s production of The House of Bernarda Alba. She was a part of the all-female acrobatics skills ensemble in ENO’s Aida. Later this autumn, Alison will be in Royal Court’s production of Hole, also directed by RashDash.

The remaining cast comprises Lara Steward, who communicates both through speech and sign language, having been deaf since the age of three. Her past credits include Redefining Juliet (Many Rivers Film for BBC Shakespeare Season and Barbican Pit Theatre Open Lab); Kate Maravan, whose numerous TV credits include Safe, The Coroner, New Tricks, Emmerdale, Doctors, Touch of Frost; her theatre credits include One Cold Dark Night (Bush Theatre), Opening Skinner’s Box (Improbable), Four Minutes, Twelve Seconds (Trafalgar Studios and Hampstead Theatre), and Enduring Song (Southwark Playhouse); and Deshaye Gayle, who graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2017. His theatre credits include Sex with Robots and Others Devices (King’s Head Theatre), The Incident (Arcola), and The Words are Coming (Theatre 503).

Future Bodies runs at HOME in Manchester Friday 28 September - Saturday 13 October 2018, and then tours to Northern Stage, Newcastle (Tuesday 16 - Thursday 18 October), and the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield (Friday 19 October).

Future Bodies is supported by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust, and is also a trailblazer event for the 2018 Manchester Science Festival.

FUTURE BODIES - TUE 16 – THU 18 OCT 7.45pm at Northern Stage 
Tickets from £10
Recommended age: 16+

Tickets available online from www.northernstage.co.uk/Event/future-bodies or from the box office on: 0191 230 5151

Monday, 15 October 2018

REVIEW: Love Songs at South Shields Customs House

Love Songs
South Shields Customs House - Monday 15 October 2018
Arts Centre Washington - Thursday 18 October 2018
Middlesbrough Theatre - Tuesday 23 October 2018
Seaton Delaval Arts Centre - Saturday 27 October 2018

Off the back of the success of Baby Love, Jarrow-born Tom Kelly has penned another drama for real life couple Helen and Jonathan Cash which is on tour around the North East.

Vicki (Helen Cash) has been in an abuse relationship with Leslie for some time. Controlling and manipulative, her mother recommends that she leaves him but will not put her up at her place as she has a new boyfriend. Vicki misses her Dad, who died when she was young, which adds to her mental state. She struggled to find a way out until she noticed an advert for a 60s tribute tour.

Gary (Jonathan Cash) is under his mother’s thumb. She expects him to work, find the money to support her and pay for her house, as well as doing all of the household chores. She chose never to work, even when her husband left her. This is not a recent episode and he has struggled to make friends, even at school. He can sing and hence he jumps at the chance to join the 60s tribute tour. Like Vicki, he doesn’t pass on what he is up to or where he is heading. He simply packs his case and gets the train to London with thought of his mother’s voice screeching in his head.

Jonathan and Helen Cash with Tom Kelly (centre)
The action in this 2-handed play is split between the dressing room and the stage of the theatres on the tour which are in the present, and flashbacks to their previous relationships. On stage the 2 actors have wonderful voices that recreate the great hits by the likes of the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Elvis and Dusty Springfield. The highlight of the evening for my, however, was Bridge Over Troubled Water which combined the emotion of the original song with the impact of the drama’s storyline.

Off stage they are playing two socially awkward, quiet individuals which doesn’t always make for the most gripping action. However, in Tom Kelly’s tale – the addition of the, at times violent, back story helps explain the current state of affairs without over stating the point.

Love Songs looks at abusive relationships and the need to speak out. It understand how an external vehicle, such as music, can be an escape route from the trauma. As good as the songs, and musical performances are, they don’t actually fit in with the exposition other than being generic love songs. The action ‘on stage’, at times is at odds with the action ‘behind the scenes’.

This is certainly a different piece of new writing.  It covers a tough set of issues and yet it contains some great love songs from the late 50s-1970.

Review by Stephen Oliver

On The Web:

Click here to see a short video sampler of the play produced by Unified Media.

Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 18 October, http://www.artscentrewashington.co.uk/production-details.aspx?id=1193

Middlesbrough Theatre on Tuesday 23 October https://www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk/shows/love-songs/

Seaton Delaval Arts Centre on Saturday 27 October. https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/226108

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Preview: Hair – The Musical at Sunderland Empire

The 50th Anniversary Tour of Hair Is Coming To Sunderland

Hair – The Musical
Sunderland Empire
Monday 6th – Saturday 11th May 2019

Following the critically-acclaimed 50th anniversary production of Hair – The Musical at Hope Mill Theatre and sell-out transfer to The Vaults, London, the celebrated production will now embark on a nationwide tour, with a date at Sunderland Empire, Monday 6th – Saturday 11th May 2019. Tickets are now on public sale.

This award-winning production (2018 WhatsOnStage Award – Best Off-West End Production) will open at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 22 March 2019, with national press night on 28 March, before visiting Cheltenham, Manchester, Cardiff, Plymouth,  Birmingham, Sunderland, Dartford, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield, Brighton and Milton Keynes, with further dates to be announced in due course.

Welcome to the ‘Age of Aquarius’. It’s 1967 and HAIR’s hippie ‘tribe' youngsters in the East Village of New York are yearning to change the world, questioning authority and the American flag. Wild, colourful, sexually liberated and free, they are united in protest and song, under the shadow of the Vietnam War.

Hair, which is adored for its Grammy award-winning score featuring iconic hits such as ‘Aquarius’, ‘Let the Sun Shine In’, ‘I Got Life’ and ‘Good Morning Starshine’ is written by Gerome Ragni (book and lyrics), James Rado (book and lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music).

The 50th anniversary production is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle (Pippin, Rain Man, Aspects Of Love), who is reunited with the brilliant creative team from Hope Mill Theatre: Gareth Bretherton (Musical Director), William Whelton (Choreographer), Maeve Black (Designer), Ben M Rogers (Lighting Designer), Calum Robinson (Sound Designer) and producers Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Joseph Houston & William Whelton for Hope Mill Theatre, Ollie Rosenblatt for Senbla, and associate producer Guy James. The production will be cast by the previous BBC Head of Casting Jane Deitch, and will be announced in due course.

Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliates ATG Tickets: http://bit.ly/HAIRSunderland*

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

Preview: Club Tropicana at Sunderland Empire

Joe McElderry to appear in Club Tropicana: The Musical at the Sunderland Empire in 2019

Mark Goucher & Gavin Kalin Present
Club Tropicana
Sunderland Empire
Monday 20th – Saturday 25th May 2019

Joe McElderry, Neil McDermott, Kate Robbins, Emily Tierney and Amelle Berrabah announced as cast for the show.

Star casting is announced today for the world premiere of Club Tropicana The Musical by Michael Gyngell, a summer adventure of love in the sun, with a soundtrack of smash-hit pop classics all performed live on stage. It takes a fun-packed trip back in time to the electric 80’s when hair was big, shoulders were padded, girls (and boys) just wanted to have fun and mobile phones were shaped like bricks and weighed a tonne!

Welcome to the vibrant Club Tropicana Hotel - the 1980s answer to Love Island - where the drinks are free and the whole family is invited to join the ultimate holiday musical.

When a budding bride and groom get cold feet, they each decide to jet off to sunnier climes and feel the heat - but little do they know they’ve checked into the same hotel...The sizzling summer season at the Club Tropicana sees drinks flowing and tans glowing. Will our young lovers decide to go through with the wedding? Will the hotel inspectors (finally) get their way and close the resort, or will the staff save the day?

All will be revealed in hilarious style, to an irresistible soundtrack of some of the most iconic, chart-topping acts from the 80s, including ABC, Cyndi Lauper, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, a-ha, Culture Club, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Bucks Fizz and Depeche Mode: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Take On Me, Just Can’t Get Enough, Oops Upside Your Head, The Look of Love, Making Your Mind Up, Relax, Islands on the Stream, She Drives Me Crazy, Don’t Go, La Dolce Vita, Surprise, Surprise, Church of the Poison Mind, Fantasy Island, Up Where We Belong, I Could Be So Good for You, Fantastic Day and many more!

The cast is headed by North East’s Joe McElderry (X Factor winner and star of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Neil McDermott (Ryan Malloy in EastEnders, Eugenius!, The Wind in the Willows, Shrek), Kate Robbins (Spitting Image, ITV’s The Imitation Game, Dinnerladies), Emily Tierney (Eugenius! , Wicked, The Wizard of Oz) and former Sugababe star Amelle Berrabah making her musical theatre debut.
It is completed by Karina Hind, Calvin Hudson, Cellen Chugg Jones, Megan Louch, Rebecca Mendoza, Alexanda O’Reilly, Joshua Pearson, Rory Phelan, Nye Rees, Camilla Rowland, Christina Shand, Courtney-Brogan Smalley, Tara Verloop, Kane Verrall.

Directors Samuel Holmes & Nick Winston
Choreographer Nick Winston
Set & Costume Designer Diego Pitarch
Lighting Designer Tim Deiling
Sound Designer Ben Harrison
Musical Supervision and Arrangements Greg Arrowsmith
Musical Director Charlie Ingles.
Producers Mark Goucher and Gavin Kalin.

On The Web:


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