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Monday, 26 August 2019

Preview: ‘Love Songs’ by Tom Kelly touring to 5 new venues


‘Love Songs’ by Tom Kelly touring to 5 new venues

Baby Love Productions are touring a new play with classic songs by celebrated North East writer, Tom Kelly, to 5 new venues in the region and beyond.


Tom Kelly is well-known throughout the North East for both plays and musicals, including ‘Tom and Catherine’ and ‘Geordie The Musical’. His latest play ‘Bobby Robson Saved My Life’ has been playing to standing ovations from South Shields all the way to Ipswich and his much-loved musical, ‘The Dolly Mixtures’ is to be revived from 21 August at The Customs House South Shields.

Tom Kelly with Helen Cash and Jonathan Cash
(Photograph by Victoria Lamb)
Baby Love Productions is a small theatre company based in Blaydon that has been touring the region since 2016. They first toured ‘Love Songs’ in October 2018 to a very positive response. Ray Spencer MBE, Executive Director of The Customs House South Shields said of the tour, ‘Thank goodness for @Babyloveprod who have joined a growing army of self financing new writing production companies. Two planks & passion ensure writers like @tomkelly60 can gain a showcase for new work. “Love Songs” is ambitious, bold & clearly heartfelt. Dark yet amusing & honest.’

British Theatre Guide said, “It’s very Tom Kelly, a gentle story full of understanding and empathy….The songs are great; …. from the yearning of "Somewhere" from West Side Story … to the sadness / happiness of "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa", and the cast get the balance right, getting some of the mannerisms (vocal and physical) of the singers they are paying tribute to but not attempting to mimic them….an enjoyable evening’s theatre with just enough of the dark side to make us stop and think.”

Helen Cash
North East Theatre Guide said, “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 me, however, was Bridge Over Troubled Water which combined the emotion of the original song with the impact of the drama’s storyline.

Baby Love Productions are excited to be touring the play to 5 venues from 21 September to 17 October 2019. The tour starts at the Art Deco treasure that is the Majestic Theatre in Darlington then takes in the lovely Queens Hall Arts Centre in Hexham. Next is the intimate Seven Arts Centre in Leeds and the cosy Dovecote Centre in Amble. The tour finishes with two performances in the state-of-the-art new studio at the People’s Theatre in Heaton, Newcastle.  

The new play features an array of classic songs, such as Bridge Over Troubled Water, Somewhere, True Love Ways, Love Me Tender & Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. These songs are performed by the two protagonists as part of a 60s tribute tour. 

The play deals with themes of mental health and domestic abuse as the two lead characters face up to their own demons to have a chance at building a life together. Meanwhile the play features the quirky characters that people the tribute tour, some of them unable to separate themselves from the icons they portray, with often comical consequences.

Jonathan Cash
Tom wrote the play for his friends, and next-door neighbours, real-life married couple, Helen and Jonathan Cash, after initially working with them on a revival of his play, Baby Love.  Jonathan, who both directs and acts in the play, explained, “We had a great time working with Tom on Baby Love and had the joy of experiencing at first hand the emotional impact his writing has on audiences. It’s the authenticity of his characters and the depth of feeling he brings to his writing that makes his work so satisfying, both to watch and to perform. It’s a privilege to have a play written for us by one of the region’s foremost playwrights. We’re just extremely lucky he happens to be our friend. Also living just next door makes it really easy to get together for rehearsals.”

Jonathan admits the play has its challenges, “We have to perform songs made famous by the greatest singers of the 60s, including Dusty Springfield, Elvis, Gene Pitney and Marvin Gaye, plus we’re taking on the notoriously challenging Bridge Over Troubled Water.  No small task, but really rewarding. It’s the mix of the powerful script and these terrific songs that I think will make the show so satisfying for audiences. We also get to play some lovely comic characters along the way.”

Tom Kelly said, “After the success of Baby Love’s tour, I wanted to write something to capitalise on the talents of Helen and Jonathan and, as they are both singers as well as actors, it seemed a shame not to use that. Also, I love these songs and tribute tours are the bread and butter of many of our local theatres nowadays. It seemed very current to use that as a background to address subjects like mental health and the impact of domestic abuse in a believable and ultimately positive way. Audiences have clearly responded to that.”

On The Web:

Tickets:

Darlington Majestic Theatre on Saturday 21 September. http://www.majestictheatre-lee.com/box-office.html
Hexham Queens Hall Arts Centre on Friday 27 September https://www.queenshall.co.uk/whats-on
Leeds Seven Arts Centre on Saturday 5 October
Amble Dovecote Centre on Saturday 12 October.
Tel: 01665 713655
Newcastle People’s Theatre (Studio) in Heaton on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 October.

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