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Preview: BLKDOG at Newcastle Northern Stage

Far From The Norm
Newcastle Northern Stage
Tuesday 10th March 2020

Vital and gripping, BLKDOG is the Olivier Award-winning work from Botis Seva, exploring coping mechanisms in youth culture. Co-produced by Far From The Norm and Sadler’s Wells, BLKDOG tours the UK in spring 2020 with performances at Newcastle’s Northern Stage in March.

A genre-defying blend of hip hop dance and free form antics, the latest edition of BLKDOG explores the inner battlefield of an ageing artist trying to retain his youth. Performed by Seva’s powerhouse company Far From The Norm, BLKDOG searches for coping mechanisms in the ultimate hunt for acceptance.  

An excerpt of BLKDOG was originally performed at Sadler’s Wells in Autumn 2018 as part of an evening of new commissions to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the current Sadler’s Wells theatre. 

Established in May 2009, Far From The Norm was founded by artistic director Botis Seva and is a collective of dance artists renowned for experimenting with hip hop form whilst tackling socio-political concerns. Far From The Norm’s work portfolio crosses theatre performances, outdoor spectacles and immersive experiences that are renowned for challenging yet inspiring their audiences. The company is committed to producing evocative, authentic work by taking audiences on visceral journeys whilst presenting conceptual yet compelling truths.  

In August 2018, Seva collaborated with Billy Boyd Cape to create a short film, Reach, commissioned by Sadler’s Wells as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts series. Far From The Norm has previously performed at Sadler’s Wells with Breakin’ Convention and curated a Wild Card evening. Seva was Guest Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Company, run by Sadler’s Wells, in 2018 – 2019 and is currently one of four choreographers working on a new commission with Northern Contemporary Dance School’s postgraduate company, VERVE.

BLKDOG’s music comes from long-standing collaborator Torben Lars Sylvest who has also worked with Scottish Dance Theatre and Ivan Blackstock; costume is being created by Ryan Dawson Laight whose credits include Gary Clark Company’s WASTELAND and Aakash Odedra Company’s #JeSuis; and lighting comes from Tom Visser, also known for his creations with Nederlands Dance Theater and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists Hofesh Shechter and Crystal Pite.

BLKDOG is coproduced by Far From The Norm and Sadler’s Wells and supported by Arts Council England.

Photos: Camilla Greenwell

Box Office: 0191 230 5151

Preview: The Talented Mr Ripley at Newcastle Northern Stage

Tom Ripley is a con-man, fantasist and, soon to be, murderer

The Talented Mr Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
Newcastle Northern Stage
Wednesday 4th – Saturday 7th March 2020

Adapted by Mark Leipacher (2015)
Will he get away with it this time?!  The Faction's critically acclaimed production of Patricia Highsmith's psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley is making a comeback with a mid-scale tour from 25th February 2020.

When Tom Ripley meets Dickie Greenleaf, Tom's skills for forging signatures, telling lies and impersonating just about anybody are nothing more than impressive games.  But as his friendship with Dickie grows to obsession, Tom's talents have very dangerous consequences.

The Faction breathes fresh life into Patricia Highsmith's blackly comic tale of ambition, escapism, and murder.

This 2020 tour is made possible by the generous support of Arts Council England. Originally premiered and nominated for 4 Off West End awards including Best Actor when it premiered at New Diorama Theatre in 2015

Cast & Creatives:
Andre Bullock               Freddie
Christopher Hughes     Ripley
Christopher York          Dickie
Emma Jay Thomas      Emily
Lachlan Mccall             Peter
Marcello Walton           Herbert
Sophie Spreadbury      Marge

Ali Graham                  Stage Management
Chris Withers              Lighting
Frances Norburn         Costume
Holly Pigott                  Set
Mark Leipacher           Director
Max Pappenheim        Sound
Rachel Valentine Smith Producer
Ryan Funnell               Production Management
Sophia Tuffin               Stage Management
The Other Richard        Production Photography
Invisible Darkness        Production Recording
Stage Rights are provided by Diogenes Verlag.


Box office: 0191 230 5151


Preview: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Award-Winning Musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Struts Into Newcastle

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Monday 30th March – Saturday 4th April 2020

The smash-hit, critically acclaimed West End Musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie makes its regional debut at Newcastle Theatre Royal as part of its first UK tour.

Inspired by the sensational Jamie Campbell (‘Drag Queen at 16’) from County Durham, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie stars Layton Williams (Bad Education, Billy Elliot the Musical) as Jamie New and Shane Richie (EastEnders) as Hugo / Loco Chanelle.

Both are reprising their West End roles and will be joined by fellow London cast member Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies) as Ray – a role she will also be playing in the film version of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie which will be released in cinemas in October 2020 - and George Sampson (winner of Britain’s Got Talent) as Dean.

Further cast includes Amy Ellen Richardson (Margaret New), Lara Denning (Miss Hedge), Sharan Phull (Pritti Pasha), Cameron Johnson (Sandra Bollock / Jamie’s Dad), John Paul McCue (Laika Virgin), Rhys Taylor (Tray Sophisticay), Richard Appiah-Sarpong (Cy), Simeon Beckett (Levi), Kazmin Borrer (Vicki), Ellis Brownhill (Mickey), Jodie Knight (Fatimah), Jessica Meegan (Bex), Talia Palamathanan (Becca), Adam Taylor (Sayid), Alex Hetherington (Swing), Emma Robotham-Hunt (Swing), Ellie Leah (Understudy) and Garry Lee (Understudy).

Nica Burns, Producer of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie said: “We are delighted that our first national tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is packed with West End stars. Three hot off the Apollo stage who are joined by a host of super- talented performers from other West End casts, from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole to Matilda The Musical and Scrooge. It’s fantastic to welcome George Sampson who shot to fame as the youngest person to win Britain’s Got Talent at the tender age of 14.  Together they will give you a fun, funny and fabulous evening.”

Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight. With catchy songs by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells, and book and lyrics by writer Tom MacRae, this funny, fabulous, feel-good, musical sensation has been wowing audiences and critics alike.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 30 March to Saturday 4 April 2020 playing evenings at 7.30pm and matinees on Thurs at 2pm and Sat at 2.30pm.  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


Preview: Shagged, Married, Annoyed at Newcastle Utilita Arena

Shagged, Married, Annoyed With Chris And Rosie Ramsey
Newcastle Utilita Arena


After selling out in under an hour of the general on-sale and setting a new record for the largest ever live podcast
event at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, the Arena is pleased to confirm an extra date of Sunday 13th September 2020.

Tickets for the new date will go on sale 10am Friday 6th March and are available online #Ad

For the first time ever Chris and Rosie Ramsey are bringing their smash hit podcast, Shagged. Married. Annoyed., live to venues this September.   

As always, the loveable Geordie duo will be chatting all about life, relationships, arguments, annoyances, parenting, growing up and everything in between, but this time in front of a live audience.
For the first time ever we are bringing our podcast live to The North East and playing the Newcastle Utilita Arena. We’re aiming to break the record for the biggest live podcast... and you can be there in the crowd. NO PRESSURE!

The only way we can have a conversation without being interrupted by a small child or ending up staring at our phones is by doing a podcast. One that has gone on to frequently top the charts and has had a phenomenal 18 million downloads to date... which we did not expect at all, to be honest! As always, we will be chatting all about life, relationships, arguments, annoyances, parenting, growing up and everything in between, but this time in front of a live audience... so we might even be chatting to YOU!

Tickets for the new date will go on sale 10.00am Friday 6th March and are available online or from 11.00am in person from the Utilita Arena Box Office. #Ad

Accessible seating is available online, or by calling the accessible hotline on 0800 988 4440.

Please note venue facility and booking fees will apply.

Age recommendation 16 years +


Preview: Bedroom Farce at Newcastle People’s Theatre

Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn
Newcastle People’s Theatre
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 March 2020

Three bedrooms. Four couples. One endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction, bad tempers and misunderstandings.

This is the third time the People's Theatre has produced Alan Ayckbourn favourite Bedroom Farce. It was first staged here in 1991 and then again in 2009. 

Photo: Jules Dash
Actors Maggie Childs and Roger Liddle who appeared in that first production thirty years ago, return – this time as older couple Delia and Ernest whose comfortable routine is disrupted by a leaky roof and their son's disintegrating marriage. Maggie (who played Kate in the 1991 production) comments “30 years ago I tried to recall those feelings I had as a young wife in her first home, now I just think of my mother! It’s a great play and still hugely enjoyable to be involved in.” 

Set in the late 1970s this is a world of autumn colours and electric blankets, of landlines, eiderdowns and cruet sets.

We meet the four couples over the course of one night. As well as Delia and Ernest, there’s Malcolm and Kate aka ‘love’s young dream’ who are looking forward to their housewarming party. Nick’s laid up with a bad back and wife Jan’s just heard her ex’s relationship on the rocks, while Trevor and Susannah … well, they’re that exhausting couple whose imploding relationship could well take a few others down with it.

The action takes place across three of these couples most private and telling of spaces - the bedroom.

As Delia comments "you can tell a great deal about a person from their bedroom" and she’s right.  Each of the rooms is as distinct and unique as the marriages that formed them - but will the decor outlive the relationships?

Snowballing sexual mishaps collide with mundane domestic questions: does the ceiling need painting? Is it okay to stash porn in the sock drawer? This lively romp is as enduringly popular as it is hilariously funny, but beware: this is no light comedy. Director Steve Hewitt comments “there’s a dark and cynical edge to this play that might make you question a few things that you always believed were true.”

Box Office: 0191 265 5020
Online ticket sales:


News: Young people given a fun and insightful experience into the exciting world of ballet

Young people given a fun and insightful experience into the exciting world of ballet

Sunderland Empire’s Creative Learning & Community Partnerships team have been working in collaboration with local cultural organisations - Sunderland Music Hub and Sunderland Culture, giving young people from Usworth Primary School a unique first step introduction into the world of ballet.

Through drama, movement, costume design, technical design and sound - the pupils worked alongside professional artists at Arts Centre Washington ahead of their visit to see Birmingham Royal Ballet - First Steps - Swan Lake in March.

The project involved a back stage tour of the Sunderland Empire, where students were able to explore costume design and lighting, whilst exploring the story of Swan Lake through shadow puppetry and drama. Pupils were also given the opportunity to work with talented local musicians - to help understand the art of storytelling through the power of music. 

The project, aimed ultimately to inspire young people in all aspects of what is required to create and deliver a ballet production, while learning to appreciate the many disciplines required. The project also showcased the many and varied, important careers available in the Creative Industry.

Anthony Hope, Creative Learning & Community Partnerships Manager said: “We are so thrilled to be working with Usworth Colliery and to be able to introduce the children there to the ballet, most of which for the first time. We’ve explored the production in all of its exciting facets including music, costume, and puppetry and lightening with local partners and artist to bring the world of Swan Lake to life. The young people involved have really bought into the story and will be joining us to see the Frist Steps performance (a 1 hour version of the 4 act ballet) at Sunderland Empire.”

Lizzie Nixon, Music Education Hub added: “At Sunderland Music Hub we are passionate about making sure children and young people across the city have access to high-quality music-making, regardless of their background or experience, as we think creativity is essential to living a happy and fulfilling life. This project is really special for us as it has allowed the children at Usworth to have a taste of lots of creative activities by working with partners who are experts in their field, and has demonstrated the many skills and creative career opportunities that exist within any one show, such as Swan Lake. We hope we’ve peaked interest in music-making in the children that we have worked with, but more than anything we hope the children have enjoyed the opportunity to be creative across many art forms.”

Vicki Kennedy Great Place Producer, Sunderland Culture explains “Working together in creative partnerships means that children get to experience some of the best artists, cultural organisations and venues that the City has to offer. Children deserve rich and memorable creative experiences and the learning from this pilot programme will ensure that not just one school can benefit from this partnership, but many schools across Sunderland.”

Students were equally enthusiastic and inspired by the project, for many it was an insight into a world they knew nothing about. Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive:

“I really enjoyed it. At first I didn’t know much about Swan Lake, but now I know much more about it”
“I used to go to a dance class, but I found it really hard and I didn’t think it was for me so I stopped going. After coming to the theatre and after finding more about Swan Lake, I felt inspired to try ballet again”
Birmingham Royal Ballet bring First Steps - Swan Lake, Thursday 12 March (an interactive one hour show for children aged 3+) and the full scale production of Swan Lake to the Sunderland Empire Thursday 12 - Saturday 14 March.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake comes to the Sunderland Empire from Thursday 12 - Saturday 14 March. Tickets: #Ad

Swan Lake - First Steps: Thursday 12 March, 2.30pm #Ad

* Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.