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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

News: The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre outline practical solutions to support the theatre industry

The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre outline practical solutions to support the theatre industry

A warning has been issued by UK Theatre on behalf of all its members, including the Newcastle Theatre Royal.

The current situation has had a devastating impact on the theatre sector. Theatres employ over 290,000 people in the UK and currently over 70% of those jobs are at risk and many theatres are facing a perilous future. Currently we have no audience and no income. We need help to sustain our workforce, support theatre recovery and safeguard the industry for the future. Many organisations, including Theatre Royal, will struggle to survive, even with measures to support their workforce.

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre have said that they look forward to continuing to work with the government, following the submission of a paper to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) outlining practical solutions to support the theatre industry as our venues warn of closures and financial difficulties.

SOLT and UK Theatre compiled evidence from across the sector on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the theatre industry and submitted a paper to DCMS laying out what the sector needs to survive.   Coinciding with the first meeting of the newly created Entertainment and Events Working Group, the submission details the investment  that the theatre industry needs to sustain our workforce, encourage growth and recovery and safeguard our sector.    Theatre and the performing arts play a huge role in enriching our national identity, our economy and our local communities.  

More people see a theatre show each year than attend all League football matches in the whole of the UK.

In 2018, venues represented by The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre generated ticket revenue of £1.28 billion, employing 290,000 workers. Over 70% of those jobs are now at risk. 

Amidst warnings from venues that 70% of theatres will run out of cash by the end of the year, this paper presents the urgent measures needed to restart the performing arts sector. It calls for moves to:   Sustain the workforce, through the continuation and development of the Job Retention Scheme and a new package to support the army of freelancers and self-employed artists who create so much of our work.  

Support theatre recovery, through adaptations to the existing theatre production tax relief scheme, support for businesses that supply theatres, and aid with making venues Covid-19 secure.   Safeguard the future of the theatre industry, through an Emergency Relief Fund and the creation of a new Cultural Investment Participation Scheme for the sector from government: a national pledge for culture.

Theatre generates £133m in VAT payments for HM Treasury in London alone. We want the government to invest in our sector so we can continue to play our vital role in Britain’s future success and help the UK’s recovery.

SOLT and UK Theatre look forward to continuing to work with the government and to providing more detailed evidence to the DCMS to move forward in strategic measures to support British theatre and allow it to re-open successfully.

The suggested solutions in more detail

1.   Sustain our workforce
·        Extend the job retention scheme to October for the theatre industry fully funded by the government, as theatre organisations cannot afford to contribute with zero income for months.
·        Identify a unified scheme to support freelancers, many of whom have been unable to claim through the current Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and have been relying on theatrical charities for emergency relief.  
2.   Support theatre recovery
·        Temporarily extend Theatre Tax Relief, which already encourages investment in theatre productions, and could help recovery.
·        Mitigate risk in terms of insurance and liability - only 12% of surveyed organisations believe they will be able to get the insurance they need to re-open.
·        Support the thousands of small companies that supply and depend on theatre, from set and costume makers to workshops to casting directors as well as technological suppliers.
·        Help fund theatres in creating Covid-19 secure venues, which will require investing in health and safety precautions like PPE, toilet facility changes and increased costs of working. 
3.   Safeguard the industry for the future
·        Many organisations will struggle to survive, even with measures to support their workforce. Urgent needs might be addressed by some of the following:
·        An Emergency Rescue Fund that works across the whole sector.
·        Cultural Investment Participation Scheme (CIPS) - many charities are unable to take out loans and existing loan structures are more broadly not fit for our sector; this alternative scheme would allow both charitable and commercial organisations to re-establish and enable the government to invest and be part of the sector’s future success. 
·        Assist local authorities who support local theatre, as any reduction in leisure budgets will lead to more pressure on regional theatres.

Industry Facts & Figures
·       The combined box office income of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre’s membership was more than £1.28 billion across London and the rest of the UK, with 34 million tickets sold in 2018.
·        Tourism and the night-time economy:
·        Around 37,000 people see a show in the West End every night
·        Overseas visitors make up nearly ¼ of audience members.
·        Loss to HMT of VAT payments (over £130mn for West End theatres alone) plus enormous economic impact on all related hospitality and related businesses – multiplier estimated at 5-6 times in major cities – if theatres are forced to shut down permanently.
·        London accounts for 47% of all theatre performances in the UK and 43% of theatre venues across England[1]
·        The UK’s theatre industry plays a key economic, social and place-making role. Theatre and the performing arts make a powerful contribution to our society and to our national identity. They make areas richer culturally and financially, and they make places more attractive to live and work. Much innovation takes place in the regions, for example HOME in Manchester was the first arts organisation (and therefore theatre) in the world to have 100% of staff trained in climate literacy.
·        Theatre is a major UK export internationally (productions, staffing and licensing) and contributes to the UK’s soft power; from The Ferryman on Broadway, to English Touring Theatre’s Othello at the Dubai Opera House, to the Curve theatre Leicester’s production of Grease in Dubai, are just a few examples.
·        Our talent creates some of the most recognisable and bankable international hits in film and TV, but all the initial support happens in theatre, for instance Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Fleabag or Peter Morgan and The Crown.
·        SOLT and UK Theatre work with theatres on how to best fulfill requirements for patrons with access needs, as well as encouraging access to theatre for young and diverse theatre goers. We also support theatre workforces through training and career development, including addressing skills shortages, entry routes, in career training and inclusivity.
·        Further reading for wider context: Analysis of Theatre in England (Arts Council)

Monday, 1 June 2020

Preview: Lost in Space - Online performance

Lost in Space
Online performance from associate artists of Northern Stage and ARC, Stockton
Saturday 6 June 2020 @ 8.30 - 9.30pm

Now then puny earthlings, why not dress up in your gladrags and pretend to get out of the house for an hour! Put the kids to bed, crack open an over-priced bottle of beer and pour it into a fancy glass, it’s time to be totally and utterly entertained. Live from another dimension its Lost in Space with Milly Blue and Scott Turnbull.

Lost in Space is a sci-fi themed night out…in. A scratch night performed via livestream at 8.30pm on Saturday 6 June. Hosted by Scott Turnbull and Milly Blue, the evening will feature three 15 minute scratch performances from associate artists of Northern Stage and ARC, Stockton including Melody Sproates, Mike Edwards, and Luca Rutherford.

This is a Pay What You Decide performance. You need to book your ticket in advance here. Details of the livestream will be emailed to you in advance of the evening. At the end of the livestream we will send you a link where you will be able to make a payment based on what you thought the evening was worth. Money taken through Pay What You Decide will be used to pay the artists performing. The suggested price is £5, but you can decide to pay whatever amount you like.

Lost in Space will be streamed via Youtube. A link will be circulated to bookers closer to the date. Bookings will close at 1pm on Saturday 6 June.

For more information and to book tickets, visit:,0,0,0,0 
Date: Saturday 6 June 2020 - 8.30 - 9.30pm
Pay What You Decide (Suggested Donation: £5)
Age: 16+
Running time: 1hr

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Preview: Sasha Velour at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Sasha Velour “Smoke & Mirrors” Tour

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Wednesday 3rd February 2021

“Smoke & Mirrors,” Sasha Velour’s first one-queen theatre tour, is an effortless blend of drag, visual art, and magic. Velour introduces audiences to a whole new side of her artistry, through 13 dazzling and genre-busting lip-synch performances, all directed and choreographed by the queen herself. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as she explodes into rose petals, vanishes in a puff of smoke, saws herself in half, conjures a rainstorm, even transforms into a tree in front of your eyes (to name just a few). But the real magic is the way that these illusions and deceptions serve to unmask deeper truths, sparking fresh analysis of gender, fame, family, and the importance of dreaming big and living life over-the-top.  
Featuring the music of Annie Lennox, Whitney Houston, Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland, Celine Dion, Sia, Nina Simone, Le Tigre and more. Costumes designed by long-time collaborator Diego Montoya.  
Sasha Velour’s “Smoke & Mirrors” toured Australia and New Zealand in January 2019, had a sold-out 8-night New York City residency in March 2019, toured 23 cities in North America in the fall of 2019, and had limited sold-out engagements in Los Angeles and London, all to rave reviews.
“[An] inventive, surprisingly openhearted show…Expressionist performance-art illustration.” – The New York Times 
“The intensely personal [Smoke & Mirrors] shows what a top-of-her-game queen Velour really is, both as an artist and as a storyteller.” – Paper Magazine
[Velour’s] most spectacular stage gambit yet.” – Time Out New York

Tickets are now available from our affiliate Eventim UK. Clicking on this link helps us to cover the costs of producing the North East Theatre Guide free of charge to both our readers and theatres.

Friday, 22 May 2020

News: Darlington Hippodrome preview for 2021

Looking Forward To 2021 At Darlington Hippodrome

Darlington Hippodrome presents a stellar line-up for 2021

Following the festive family pantomime, Cinderella, which runs up to Sunday 3 January, the year kicks off with a bang as Steve Steinman brings his fuel-injected stage show Anything For Love to Darlington celebrating the music of Meatloaf (Mon 18 January). The show will feature Lorraine Crosby, the original vocalist on the hit duet ‘I ‘d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’.

The Birmingham Stage Company, the company behind Billionaire Boy and Awful Auntie, returns to Darlington between Thu 25 and Sun 28 February with a four day run of their stage adaptation of the David Walliams children’s classic Gangsta Granny.

Strictly Come Dancing favourite Giovanni Pernice will set the Hippodrome stage alight with his brand new show This Is Me (Mon 15 March). Giovanni will be joined by his cast of professional dancers and there is an opportunity to book a VIP pre-show meet and greet on the night! If you prefer your entertainment to be a little more sedate but no less entertaining then enjoy The Good Old Days of Variety (Tue 16 March) as headline guests The Dreamers are joined by comedy legend Duggie Brown and Victoria Jones with her amazing tribute to Cilla Black.

Featuring a star-studded cast from stage and screen, By The Waters of Liverpool is a new stage adaptation of Helen Forrester’s million-selling book. Sian Reeves and Mark Moraghan head the cast in this passionate and emotional story of life and love during World War Two.

April and May bring a selection of  shows for one night only including tribute to Tina Turner What’s Love Got To Do With It (Tue 6 April), One Night at the VE Day Proms (Tue 4 May) and an evening with Sir Ranulph Fiennes (Wednesday 5 May) talking about his life from schoolboy to the world’s greatest living explorer. Kate Rusby brings her exquisite folk vocals to Darlington (Thu 6 May) alongside her four piece band and the Vortice Dance Company from Portugal present their contemporary take on the classic horror novel Dracula (Mon 17 May). Music lovers have a treat in store with Walk Right Back – the story of the Everly Brothers (Tue 18 May), The Magic of Motown (Thu 20 May), Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra (Fri 21 May) and Seven Drunken Nights celebrating the music of The Dubliners (Sat 22 May).

Families will love The Tiger Who Came To Tea (Thu 3 to Sat 5 June). This stage adaptation of Judith Kerr’s enchanting story comes direct form the West End and celebrates ten years on stage. For a night of comedy there’s none finer than Jason Manford who brings his one man show, Like Me, to Darlington (Sat 31 July) as part of his UK tour. Lovers of musical theatre will be spoilt for choice as Jonathan Andell and Jai McDowall bring their show Les Musicals to the Hippodrome with songs from the likes of Wicked, Miss Saigon, Chess and of course Les Misérables.

Looking further ahead, we welcome 2022 with the fab-u-luss musical Strictly Ballroom (Mon 3 to Sat 8 January 2022) based on the award-winning film, directed by Craig Revel Horwood and starring Kevin Clifton.

Tickets are already on-sale for the 2021 season; book early to secure the best seats by calling the box office on 01325 405405 or visiting -  and make sure to sign up to their mailing list or follow them on social media to be the first to hear about what else is in store for 2021.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Preview: Gangsta Granny at Darlington Hippodrome


Gangsta Granny
Darlington Hippodrome
Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 February 2021

Tickets are on sale now for the award winning children’s story by David Walliams which is brought to life at Darlington Hippodrome from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 February 2021.

David Walliams
It’s Friday night and Ben knows that means only one thing – staying with Granny! There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be sooooooooo boring! But what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret – and Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

From the acclaimed producers of Billionaire Boy and Awful Auntie comes the award-winning West End production of this amazing story by David Walliams, the UK’s best-selling author for children.

Gangsta Granny runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 February 2021. To book or for more information call the Box office on 01325 405405 or visit

New Dates: Strictly Ballroom at Darlington Hippodrome


Strictly Ballroom
Darlington Hippodrome
Monday 3 - Saturday 8 January 2022

Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 UK tour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, starring Kevin Clifton and directed by Craig Revel Horwood, has been rescheduled and will now run at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday 3 to Saturday 8 January 2022.

To ensure everyone’s safety in these uncertain times, the producers of Strictly Ballroom The Musical had to take the difficult decision to reschedule the original tour dates. But the good news is that all of the shows in the touring schedule have been rearranged and tickets for each performance will be exchanged automatically, so fans will not miss out on this musical extravaganza. People who had booked for the show’s original dates will be contacted by the Hippodrome box office.

Kevin Clifton said: Im really delighted that the Strictly Ballroom tour has been rescheduled.  As Ive mentioned before, its my all-time favourite film and Scott Hastings is my dream role, so I cant wait to bring this musical to theatres across the UK next year.  In the meantime, please stay safe and keep well everyone.

Craig Revel Horwood
Craig Revel Horwood added: “Im thrilled that our new production of Strictly Ballroom The Musical has been rescheduled for 2021/2022. The tour may be a year later, but you can still expect those same sexy dance moves, scintillating costumes and a simply FAB-U-LOUS show for all to enjoy, starring the one and only Kevin Clifton!

Strictly Ballroom The Musical tells the beguiling story of Scott Hastings, a talented, arrogant and rebellious young ballroom dancer. When Scotts radical dance moves see him fall out of favour with the Australian Federation, he finds himself dancing with Fran, a beginner with no moves at all. Inspired by one another, this unlikely pair gather the courage to defy both convention and their families and discover that, to be winners, the steps dont need to be strictly ballroom.

Featuring a show-stopping book by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce, and bringing together a sublime cast of over 20 world class performers, Strictly Ballroom brings to life iconic songs, including Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time with dynamic and joyous verve. This tour will also feature some amazing new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. The shows scintillating singing, dazzling dancing and eye-popping costumes will combine together to bring audiences a story of heart, comedy and drama, and promises to be an unforgettable night under the glitter ball.

This uplifting and courageous musical originated as a stage play that Baz Luhrmann devised with a group of classmates at Sydneys National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1984. Eight years later he made his screen directorial debut with Strictly Ballroom, the first instalment in Luhrmanns acclaimed Red Curtain Trilogy. The vibrant film enjoyed staggering success, winning three awards at the 1993 BAFTA awards and a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, going on to become one of the most successful Australian films of all time, earning more than $80 million at the box office. In April 2014 Strictly Ballroom The Musical had its world premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.

Baz Luhrmanns Strictly Ballroom The Musical is a fabulous, feel-good evening full of sequins, singing and salsa. This unmissable kaleidoscope of glitz and glamour is a tonic for the soul and will send your heart soaring and toes tapping long after you leave the theatre!

Strictly Ballroom runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Monday 3 to Saturday 8 January 2022. To book or for more information call the Box office on 01325 405405 or visit

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Preview: Nutcracker at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Russian State Ballet returns to Tyne Theatre & Opera House
The Nutcracker
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Friday 30th October 2020
Russian State Ballet and Opera House will be returning to Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Friday 30th October 2020, on their traditional annual UK tour, with a lavish production of festive Ballet - The Nutcracker.

Following previous hugely popular shows at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, including Swan Lake in November 2019, The Russian State Ballet and Opera House are sure to deliver a vibrant and enchanting show.
The Nutcracker is an eternal seasonal favourite directed and choreographed by the former award-winning Bolshoi Ballet Soloist, Konstantin Uralsky.

Their dazzling production of the most famous Ballet in the world, with music by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, will also feature a live orchestra of over 30 musicians.
Snow flurries, sweets, princes, magic and love are just some of the elements that will be brought together by this renowned Russian company. A highly accessible ballet, full of familiar music such as the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ and the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’.

The Nutcracker continues to capture the hearts and imagination of different generations from all over the world. It is a truly captivating piece of theatre, a wonderful introduction to ballet for anyone who has never experienced it and retains its appeal for anyone who is familiar with it.

Theatre Director Joanne Johnson said “We’re looking forward to welcoming Russian State Ballet & Opera House back to our stage in October with The Nutcracker. Their annual touring ballet is one of our best-selling shows and we find that audiences return every year to see their magnificent productions


Tickets now on sale at #Ad

Preview: Addams Family at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Casting Announced For Family Musical Comedy The Addams Family

The Addams Family
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Thursday 30 July – Saturday 8 August 2020

One of TV’s best-loved actresses, Samantha Womack is to revive her role as Morticia Addams in the new UK & Ireland tour of The Addams Family which opens at Newcastle Theatre Royal in July. She is to be joined by Cameron Blakely as Gomez Addams.

Samantha Womack is best-known for her long-running role as Ronnie Mitchell in BBC1’s EastEnders and last appeared at Newcastle Theatre Royal in 2018 when she played Rachel Watson in the stage adaptation of The Girl on the Train.

Most recently, Samantha guest starred in last year’s series of Silent Witness and she has also played Tanya Dawson for three series of the hit comedy Mount Pleasant, Ingrid in Home Again, Ruth in Babes in the Wood, Imogen in Imogen’s Face and Mandy in the hugely popular Game On.  Samantha's film credits include the box office breaking Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Kingsman: The Secret Service.  Her stage credits include Nellie Forbush in the Lincoln Center Theater's Tony Award-winning production of South Pacific (Barbican Theatre & UK Tour), Michael Grandage's West End production of Guys & Dolls opposite Patrick Swayze (Piccadilly Theatre) and Peter Hall's production of Pinter's Betrayal (Theatre Royal Bath). 

Cameron Blakely’s previous theatre credits include the role of Thenardier in Les Misérables, a role he played for two years in London’s West End. Cameron was also part of the 25th Anniversary at the O2, where he played Bamatabois. Other credits include Smee in Stiles and Drewe’s Peter Pan at the Adelphi Theatre and Fagin in Oliver! at The Watermill Theatre. He has also appeared in many productions at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew.  Most recently, he played Dennis Dupree in the UK Tour of Rock of Ages, and Lex Hogan in Eugenius! at The Other Palace.
Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and has a shocking secret that only Gomez knows; she’s fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family! Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia.  Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.  All the usual clan are present - Uncle Fester, Lurch, Pugsley et al.
The Addams Family is at Newcastle Theatre Royal Thursday 30 July - Saturday 8 August 2020.  Tickets from £16.50 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