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REVIEW: Spamalot at Newcastle Theatre Royal

"What happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot"

Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 1 June 2019

The Newcastle Musical Theatre Company (NMTC) bring the Monty Python musical to the Theatre Royal this week. Complete with live band and talented cast, writer Eric Idle’s humour permeates through both the script and the lyrics. This is one comedy that easily passes the 6 laugh test.

The NETG team are fans of Spamalot. We’ve seen both professional and amateur productions of this show and found that it is one show in which there is a much smaller gap. Indeed, this NMTC production works really well as the cast understand the timing and delivery of the comedy. 

This is Monty Python and so there has to be those random surreal moments and certainly this show is no exception. Before King Arthur gets started a Historian (Lindsay Gill) points out the state of Britain with plague everywhere. England is mis-heard as Finland and the ensemble start singing about Finland and do the Fisch Schlapping Song.

The musical is based upon the 1975 Monty Python movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. King Arthur (Charles Doherty) is King of England and he wants to recruit a group of Knights for his Round Table. He is accompanied on his travels by his servant Patsy (Stuart Liddle), who bangs a couple of coconut shells to make a sound of a horse. This point is quickly pointed out by the first Brits that they come across who are keen to debate how a coconut could be in Britain in the middle ages.

The plague theme returns as King Arthur picks up Sir Robin (James Mitchinson) picking up Not Dead Fred (Carl Luke) from the brave, yet highly violent Lancelot (Stephen Mason). I Am Not Yet Dead is only of the early songs that both illustrates a point of the story but also sets up a comedic situation and the ‘dead’ body Fred comes back more times than a horror film baddie.

Continuing King Arthur’s collection of knights, the show takes one of its political turns as he meets the future Sir Galahad, aka Dennis (Jay Robinson). The ideas of royalty, democracy and elements of communism are discussed with Galahad’s mother (Kim Robinson) much to the annoyance of King Arthur who feels he has every right to be King. Only the appearance of the Lady of the Lake (JoJo Hatfield) appeases Galahad and he joins the group. Only, this is a Monty Python show so the Lady of the Lake arrives surrounded with a group of dancers: the Laker Girls.

The knights are completed with Sir Bedevere (Dan Collins) and Sir Not Appearing In This Show (Gawen Robinson) before they head off to Camelot for another big production number. The then pick up their quest: find the Holy Grail. The voice of God being none other than Eric Idle himself.

The tale then follows some of the interactions found in the Holy Grail movie coupled with some mad Python musical moments – largely involving the French, the Lady of the Lake, the Knights of Ni and a scary bunny.

Over the top dance numbers, some non-pc humour and musical references take nothing away from the fact that this is a good comedy. The cast, under director Bea Atkinson, release the humour in the situation without over doing it. The timings of the punch lines worked well even if they result in a sharp intake of breath as 2019 morality isn’t always compatible with comedy that originated in the 1970s.

The dance routines have the flamboyance of a pre-war musical Hollywood film. Choreographer Sandra Laidler got the whole ensemble moving around the stage with colour and a touch of pizazz. Backing the beat was a large live band under musical director Malcolm Moffat.

There were a few first night nerves but no more than we’ve witnessed in other big productions. The butterflies did not stop us enjoying the musical and the comedy that underpins it.

Charles Doherty comfortably commands as King Arthur which is essential for the show to work. Likewise Stuart Liddle completes the double act with a Patsy that complements the King’s authority.  The assorted knights of the round table add to the tapestry that the show weaves.

Some of the big production numbers land on the role of the Lady of the Lake and JoJo Hatfield comfortably handles the power and the range of each number. She too understands the timing needed for the comedy to work its magic.

Supporting the comedy, mention must also go to Dan Greener and Gawen Robinson whom each had a number of roles and managed to come across differently in each one. They were a source of a number of laughs through the show.   

Spamalot does go for some stereotyping that is, possibly, becoming less acceptable so it is possible that this show joins the list that are not performed any more. But that call is for some point in the future.

We laughed, we sang (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life) and we enjoyed our night at the theatre. The cast worked hard – it must have been crazy backstage with some of the costume changes – and delivered a classic slice of Python fun.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

SPAM® is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods LLC.

On The Web:
Facebook: /newcastlemusicaltheatrecompany
Twitter: @NMTC_Official

Spamalot runs at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal from Tuesday 28 May to Saturday 1 June, with tickets priced from £13 and available at


News: Newcastle Recovery Café To Host Comedy Night

Newcastle Recovery Café To Host Comedy Night

George Street Social, the recovery café operated by the Road to Recovery Trust, is to host a night of comedy with North East names, Simon Donald and Gavin Webster, on Thursday 13th June 2019.

The café opened in 2016 to provide a safe place for people in all stages of addiction recovery, along with the general public, to enjoy an alcohol and drug-free social space.

Gavin Webster
Peter Mitchell, Chair, Road to Recovery Trust said: ‘George Street has such a great atmosphere because of how welcoming and open the community is. As well as those of us attending recovery meetings, we also see students, local business people and the general public all using the space and enjoying the great coffee and delicious food we have on offer. Giving up alcohol or enjoying a sober night out needn’t be dull. It’s all about the company after all! And if we throw stand-up comedy into the mix we’re pretty confident we’re going to have the place heaving with laughter.’

The show will start at 8pm (doors open at 6pm) and will feature new material from Geordie comic, Gavin Webster’s upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show.

Gavin, who appeared in the smash-hit film, I, Daniel Blake, and has performed to packed houses at the Tyne Theatre and far beyond, is a well-known name on the comedy circuit and is famed for his Geordie banter and hilarious observations. In 2014, Gavin was named UK Circuit Comedian of the Year, as voted for by fellow professional comedians online.

Simon Donald
Meanwhile, Simon Donald, co-founder of the legendary Viz magazine, will be treating the audience to one of his most popular character creations – Barry Twyford - the hapless market researcher. In the act, lovable idiot Barry has attempted to gain the venue’s permission to perform an exit survey of the audience, but instead accidentally booked himself to perform a comedy set.
‘As funny with a microphone as he was with a pencil’ – The Guardian

The show takes place at George Street Social, George Street, Newcastle on Thursday 13th June from 8pm. The café will be open for food and drinks from 6pm.
Tickets cost £12 Full, £10 concs and advanced booking is strongly recommended. 

To find out more about George Street Social visit


Preview: #Hypocrisy at Newcastle Alphabetti

Imogen Stirling Poetry presents

Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Wednesday 29th – Friday 31st May 2019 @ 9:05pm

Currently Shortlisted For ‘Best Spoken Word Show’ In UK Saboteur Awards

“Life-affirming artistry, restores the faith of even the most downtrodden socialist in the audience” Everything Theatre

Lost in the bliss of foreign travel, Imogen joyfully succumbs to the spoils of Western privilege. Returning to Scotland, a harsh society confronts her. Dangerous politicians prevail, the media sells fictions masquerading as reality, an ocean of social media sympathy pours forth for Western terror victims, yet backs turn on the migrant crisis.

What staggering hypocrisy.

A seamless blend of sharp spoken word poetry, dark comedy and original music, #Hypocrisy reminds us that in complacency lies the most heart-stopping terror.

#Hypocrisy is Imogen’s debut show. It has toured internationally since its Edinburgh Fringe premiere in 2018 to consistently sold out audiences. The script was published by Speculative Books in March.

On The Web:

When: Wednesday 29th May - Friday 31st May 2019
Time: 9:05pm
Tickets:  Pay What You Feel
Age Recommendation: 16+
Running Time: 50 minutes

Please note: tickets are available online up to two hours before an event. If you would like to book tickets after this time, please pay on the door or call the box office on 0191 2619125 to reserve.

Preview: Open Day at Darlington Hippodome


On Saturday 1 June Darlington Hippodrome will throw open its doors for a fabulous family open day to be held between 10am and 2pm.

A whole host of activities will be on offer on Saturday 1 June at Darlington Hippodrome including a Family Trail to discover the history of the venue, Arts and Dance workshops inspired by the upcoming production of Terrible Tudors, Circus Skills workshops, Drama Workshops, competitions and tours of the historic theatre.

While you are in the theatre you can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat in the Hippo Lounge and take a walk around the gallery spaces and the current exhibitions on offer.

Tickets for the family open day are £5 with discounts at £2.50. Advance booking is required.

For more information on what is on offer or to book your tickets visit or call 01325 405450.

Preview: N.E.S.T. Festival at Newcastle Alphabetti

N.E.S.T. Festival
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Wednesday 12th - Thursday 13th June 2019

N.E.S.T Festival is a first time showcase of specially selected professional theatre work from recent graduates of Northumbria University.

“The best showcase to date” - Northumbria drama dept

Tickets for this event are free but you are advised to book in advance LINK

Covering themes of a neglected generation, gender identity, mental wellbeing, the impact of the patriarchy and much, much more.  The N.E.S.T. Festival is the first production by newly formed Pillar Theatre Company.

Pillar Theatre Company and producers of NEST FEST are...
Holly Readshaw, Rebecca Johnston, Emily Sirrell, John Scott, Ben Hall and Rhian Jade Allen.

Shows on the 12th June:

Good Wee Girl
Charlotte Daisy White wants to become a global media sensation. Ah but at what price is fame? She’s a Barbie girl, Life in plastic, it’s fantastic? Meet internet sensation Charlotte Daisy White in real life. #OMG Charlotte as she shares her top tips on what it takes to become internet famous,
Performed, written and directed by Anne-Marie Donaghy.

 A piece of theatre produced by Soreslap. Their productions always deal with personal politics and experience of society. POETRYSLAP is a new project that is a “story telling” battle between two unique voices; the winner is up to you.
Performed by Rhian Jade Allen & Moses Kanu.

For That We Apologise
Depression is a f**ker. When the simplest things in life can hit you like a truck or stick in your head like a knife. We don't have any cause to fight, we just want a pint. What you having? 
Devised and performed by Carl Laidlaw, Matthew Hankinson, Rory Shannon & Dan Ball.

Dirty Great Love Story by Katie Bonna & Richard Marsh.
 One man, one woman. One epic love story. We've all had a night out we will never forget. This one is no different.
Adapted by Ben Hall. Featuring Ben Hall, Bronagh Sweeney, Grace Pepper, Hannah Small & Ellen Short

Shows on the 13th June:

An elderly woman's dementia brings back painful family secrets. Her son must confront them and come to terms with the past. In an age of trial by media how do we judge a lifetime against and event. 
Written and directed by John Scott. Performed by John Scott & Mary Pickin.

You’re invited to the cherry slumber party. A night of expression, liberation and sexual orientation. Come and enjoy this autobiographical show discussing the ups and downs of the modern-day sex life through the stories of five individuals. Get ready for laughter and shock, enough to make your cherry pop.
Devised and performed by Kyla Dean, Rebecca Johnston, Emily Sirrell, Anne-Marie Donaghy and James Moxom.

Uncovered by Greg Urbaitis
 A young couple, who fell in love over their shared passion for books and writing.  But now this has created a strain on the couple and it may have put their relationship in jeopardy.
Directed by Rebecca Johnston. Performed by Rory Shannon and Iona

From Snowflake To Avalanche
The quiz show from hell. Here the generation who screwed it all up put those infuriating questions to the generation who are sick of hearing them.
Directed by Rhian Jade Allen, Devised by John Scott & Emily Sirrell, Performed and written by Rhian Jade Allen, Holly Readshaw, Carl Laidlaw, Matthew Hankinson and John Scott.

When: Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th June 2019
Show Begins: 7:30pm
Tickets: Pay What You Feel
Age Recommendation: 15+
Running Time: approx. 2 hours including interval

Please note: tickets are available online up to two hours before an event. If you would like to book tickets after this time, please pay on the door or call the box office on 0191 2619125 to reserve.


Preview: Mamma Mia! Newcastle Theatre Royal

Mamma Mia! Returns To Newcastle

Mamma Mia!
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 22nd January – Saturday 8th February 2020

Following a spectacular run in 2017, the sensational feel-good musical Mamma Mia! makes a triumphant return to Newcastle Theatre Royal as part of its UK & International Tour celebrating 20 years since its London premier in April 1999.

From West End to global phenomenon, Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with a sunny, funny tale of a mother, a daughter and three possible dads unfolding on a Greek island idyll and  proved a huge hit with North East audiences playing to packed out houses throughout its previous three week run.

Full casting has been announced with Sharon Sexton (Donna Sheridan), Sarah Harlington (Alternate Donna), Nicky Swift (Rosie), Helen Anker (Tanya), Rob Fowler (Sam Carmichael), Daniel Crowder (Harry Bright), Jamie Kenna (Bill Austin), Emma Mullen (Sophie Sheridan), Toby Miles (Sky), Marie Finlayson (Ali), Mariella Mazzilli (Lisa), James Willoughby Moore (Pepper), Eamonn Cox (Eddie) and Matthew Ronchetti (Father Alexander) set to star in the production.

Completing the cast are Taylor Bridges, Ambra Caserotti, Martin Dickinson, Billy Downes, Katie Dunsden, Matt Kennedy, Lewis Kidd, Emma Odell, Blair Robertson, Kaine Ruddach, Ellie Rutherford, Chiara Sparkes, Amy Thiroff, Cameron Vear, Sarah Wilkie and Robert Knight.

To date, Mamma Mia! has been seen by over 65 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages.  In 2011 it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.  Mamma Mia! became the 8th longest running show in Broadway history where it played a record-breaking run for 14 years. Mamma Mia! continues to thrill audiences in London’s West End at the Novello Theatre where it celebrated its 20th Anniversary on 6 April 2019.

Produced by Judy Craymer Mamma Mia! The Movie became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008.  A second film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time.

Images: International Tour, company of 2018-2019. Photography by BrinkhoffMögenburg

Mamma Mia! is at Newcastle Theatre Royal for a three-week run between Wednesday 22 January and Saturday 8 February 2020 playing evenings at 7.30pm and matinees Tuesday 2pm (28 Jan only), Thursday 2pm, and Saturday 2.30pm.Tickets from £26.00 can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at