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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 MisĂ©rables, 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

Preview: Milkshake Live at Darlington Hippodrome

Milkshake Live Makes A Welcome Return To Darlington Hippodrome

Milkshake Live
Darlington Hippodrome
Saturday 8 August 2020 at 1pm & 4pm

Milkshake Monkey can't wait to put on a spectacular new musical for you all! But when stage fright hits, his favourite MILKSHAKE friends come to help, creating the most dazzling show you have ever seen!

Be part of this fantastic production as you learn the amazing songs and dances with your favourite Milkshake friends, and watch as the music, the lights, the costumes and stage come together. With great Milkshake friends, anything is possible. Starring Fireman Sam, Noddy, Shimmer & Shine, Digby Dragon, Wissper, Nella the Princess Knight and the Floogals, alongside two Milkshake Presenters, this brand-new show has plenty of laughter, audience interaction and great fun to get everyone up on their feet!

Box Office 01325 405405


Preview: Jason Manford Returns to the North East

Jason Manford Returns to the North East

Jason Manford has announced a new UK and Ireland tour which will includes a number of shows in our region.

Jason Manford is back! It’s been a busy few years since Jason’s last smash-hit stand-up show, but fans of his Absolute Radio show will know this nationally acclaimed comedian hasn’t changed a bit. ‘Like Me’ is Jason’s latest comic offering, set to hit the road for a massive 99 date UK & Ireland tour, kicking off in Basingstoke on 3 February 2021 and culminating with a huge homecoming show at the Manchester Arena on 23 October 2021.
Jason said: “After the fun we had on my last tour ‘Muddle Class’, I’m excited to get back on the road with my new stand-up show ‘Like Me’. In these trying times, it’s always important to be able to get away for a couple of hours and exercise the old chuckle muscle! So I’m coming to a venue near you, we can have a good laugh together. See you then!”

Jason’s work spans comedy, acting, singing and presenting and includes a host of top TV credits: ‘First & Last’ (BBC One), ‘The Masked Singer’ (ITV1), ‘What Would Your Kid Do?’ (ITV1), ‘Olivier Awards’ (ITV1), ‘Scarborough’ (BBC One), ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’ (Channel 4), ‘The Nightly Show’ (ITV1), ‘Sunday Night at the Palladium’ (ITV1), ‘Live at the Apollo’ (BBC One), ‘Have I Got News For You’ (BBC One), ‘QI’ (BBC Two) and ‘The Royal Variety Performance’ (ITV1).

He's blessed with the sort of laid-back charm and sharp turn of phrase you can't manufacture” Daily Telegraph
 Engaging and Witty” The Sunday Times
"Manford, in short, is a total pro" The Times
 Manford successfully straddles the line between contemporary stand-up
and old-school mainstream entertainment” The Guardian

Tickets are available from the venues and from our affiliate Ticketmaster UK:

Jason Manford - Like Me

Fri 19 Feb 2021 @ O2 City Hall, Newcastle

Wed 7 Jul 2021 @ Middlesbrough Town Hall

Sat 31 Jul 2021 @ Darlington Hippodrome

Fri 22 Oct 2021 @ Utilita Arena, Newcastle

Preview Shows:
Jason Manford - Work In Progress
Wed 16 Sep 2020 Witham Hall, Barnard Castle County Durham
Thursday 17 Sep 2020 Witham Hall, Barnard Castle County Durham
Sat 24 Oct 2020 @ Playhouse, Whitley Bay  #Ad


Preview: Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at Sunderland Empire

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The National Theatre’s Internationally-Acclaimed Production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time Embarks on a Third UK Tour This Autumn

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 October 2020
Tickets available online at CURIOUS TICKET LINK #Ad

Back by popular demand, the Olivier and Tony Award®-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will tour the UK and arrive in Sunderland in October.

Curious Incident has been seen by more than five million people worldwide, including two UK tours, two West End runs, a Broadway transfer, tours to the Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Australia and 30 cities across the USA.

Curious Incident is the winner of seven Olivier Awards including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. Following its New York premiere in September 2014, it became the longest-running play on Broadway in over a decade, winning five Tony Awards® including Best Play, six Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play, five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Play and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Play. The 2015 production was voted “Drama of the Year” in the North East Theatre Guide.

Curious Incident is adapted by Simon Stephens (Carmen Disruption, Sea Wall) from the novel by Mark Haddon, and directed by Olivier and Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Angels in America, Company).

The play tells the story of Christopher John Francis Boone, who is fifteen years old. He stands besides Mrs Shears’ dead dog, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

The production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting design by Paule Constable, and video design by Finn Ross. Movement is by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. The Associate Director is Anna Marsland. Casting is by Jill Green CDG.

This tour of Curious Incident is presented by the National Theatre and Trafalgar Theatre Productions. Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was published in 2003 and was the winner of more than 17 literary awards, including prizes in the US, Japan, Holland and Italy, as wellas the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year Award in the UK in 2004. The novel has been translated into 44 languages and sold more than 5.5 million copies world-wide. His other novels include A Spot of Bother and 2019’s The Porpoise.

Curious Incident visits Salford and Sunderland as part of Theatre Nation Partnerships, a multi-year collaboration between the National Theatre and six partner organisations with the aim to broaden and grow local audiences for drama in England through touring, working with schools, and creating theatre with local communities. Drawing on combined expertise, resources and each partner’s deep community links, the project has engaged with over 100,000 people since 2017. As part of TNP, Curious Incident recently completed a second schools tour, which saw a specially staged in-the-round 90 minute version play to 25,000 students in more than 100 schools in London and the NT’s Theatre Nation Partnership areas of Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Hornchurch, Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton. National Theatre UK Touring is supported by The Thompson Family Charitable Trust, The Royal

Photos from 2017-208 tour by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time comes to the Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 October 2020.
Tickets available online at CURIOUS TICKET LINK #Ad

* Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.


Preview: Bring It On The Musical at Sunderland Empire

Bring It On The Musical
Starring Amber Davies and Louis Smith
 Announces Full Casting

Bring It On The Musical
Sunderland Empire
Tuesday 9 - Saturday 13 June 2020

Tickets available online at* #Ad

Selladoor Worldwide is delighted to announce Bring It On The Musical will play at the Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 9th June 2020.

Vanessa Fisher will be playing the role of ‘Danielle’, joining the previously announced Amber Davies as ‘Campell’ and Louis Smith as ‘Cameron’. The cast is completed by Alicia Belgarde as ‘Eva’,  Georgia Bradshaw as ‘Nautica’, Ayden Morgan as ‘La Cienega’, Samuel Wilson-Freeman as ‘Steven’, Chloe Pole as ‘Skylar’, Frances Dee as ‘Kylar’,  Marvyn Charles as ‘Twig’, and Roshani Abbey, Jack Dargan, Matthew Dawkins, Jordan Isaac, Katie Lee, Gareth Moran, Biancha Szynal, and Zinzile Tshuma.

Inspired by the 2000 film of the same name, Bring It On The Musical features an original score by the multi award winning creator of “Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Pulitzer Prize winning Tom Kitt, composer of “Next To Normal”. The book is written by the Tony Award winning writer of “Avenue Q”, Jeff Whitty and the lyrics are by both Lin-Manuel Miranda and writer of the stage adaptation of “High Fidelity”, Amanda Green.

Amber Davies and Louis Smith
Bring It On The Musical is directed by Guy Unsworth and choreographed by Fabian Aloise, with set design by Libby Watson, costume design by Susan Kulkarni, lighting design by Matt Daw, sound design by Ross Portway, music supervision by Mark Crossland and musical direction from Sarah Burrell. They will be joined by Danny MacDonald as acrobatic director and Aundrea Fudge as dialect coach.

Bring It On The Musical takes audiences on a high-flying, energy-fuelled journey which tackles friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness – wrapped up in explosive choreography and tricks.

Cheer-royalty and newly crowned Squad Captain, Campbell, should be embarking on her most cheertastic senior year at Truman High School. When she’s forced to move to the neighbouring hard-knock Jackson High, Campbell fears her life is over.  But an unlikely friendship catapults Campbell back into contention with a powerhouse squad and the fire to achieve the impossible.

Bring It On The Musical is produced by Selladoor Worldwide, has a libretto by Jeff Whitty, a score by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics by Amanda Green and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Bring It On The Musical is inspired by the motion picture Bring It On written by Jessica Bendinger. Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited.

On The Web: 
Twitter                 @bringitonuktour
Instagram            @bringitonuktour
Bring It On The Musical comes to the Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 9 - Saturday 13 June 2020.  
Tickets available online at* #Ad

* Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.


Preview: Hairspray at Sunderland Empire

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Hairspray The Musical Tour
Announces Full Dates

The smash hit musical comedy Hairspray to return to Sunderland Empire

Sunderland Empire
New dates: Monday 14 - Saturday 19 June 2021
Existing bookings have been transferred and customers will be emailed about their dates.

Following two extremely successful tours in 2015/16 and 2017/18, producers Mark Goucher and Matthew Gale will tour their smash hit production of Hairspray in 2020-21. It can now be confirmed that the tour will open at Leicester Curve on 20 August and will visit the following venues in 2020: Manchester Palace, Alhambra Theatre Bradford, Blackpool Winter Gardens, Aylesbury Waterside, Birmingham Hippodrome, Glasgow Kings Theatre, Northampton Royal and Derngate, Woking New Victoria, Liverpool Empire and Brighton Theatre Royal.

The tour will then extend into 2021 starting at Southampton Mayflower on 11 January 2021 and continuing on to Bristol Hippodrome, Edinburgh Playhouse, Inverness Eden Court, Ipswich Regent, Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Sheffield Lyceum, Nottingham Theatre Royal, High Wycombe Swan, Plymouth, Theatre Royal, Belfast Grand Opera House, Wolverhampton Grand, Wales Millennium Centre, Norwich Theatre Royal, Leeds Grand, Southend Cliffs Pavilion and finishing at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham in May.

Featuring the iconic music and lyrics by Academy Award, Tony and Emmy winning duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, this much-loved musical comedy is choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie with direction from Paul Kerryson.

It’s Baltimore 1962, where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.

Hairspray is a musical based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Divine and Ricki Lake, by cult filmmaker John Waters. With music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray originally opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 2002 and subsequently won eight Tony Awards. The production opened in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2007 and won four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Proving to be an international success, Hairspray has also opened in South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Dubai. Following the musical’s phenomenal success on stage, a film of the musical was released in 2007 which starred John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden.

Photos from 2017-18 tour by Darren Bell

Hairspray The Musical comes to Sunderland Empire from Monday 14 -  Saturday 19 June 2021.

Tickets available online at #Ad
Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.


REVIEW: The Book Of Newcastle

The Book Of Newcastle
A City In Short Fiction
Edited by Angela Readman & Zoe Turner
Comma Press
ISBN 1905583109

We are now entering the third week of lockdown and hence we are getting the opportunity to do much more reading. We were offered the chance to review this new release – a book full of short stories about Newcastle – by the publisher. It has been a source of some escapism. The 144 pages contain a number of vignettes about the city.

A collection of different voices, different situations but centred around a location we know well. Some tales are by born and bred Geordies, others by people who moved into the area and were taken in by its charm. Now like any collection, this is a mixed bag. Mixed in voices, styles, attitudes and colour. There are happy stories, thoughtful stories and some which are much more poignant. There are some really strong stories in this anthology which made it worth reading.

The book makes a really strong start with Calling from Newcastle.  From the pen of the much missed Julia Darling. Whilst traditional industry has disappeared, new technologies have taken their place. Thus, for many, their first job will be in a call centre rather than down a coal mine or in a steel works. The opening story captures both the issues of starting your first job, along with that necessary adjustment, and the nature of speaking to strangers on the phone all day. The tale is quickly developed and, like any good short story, leaves you wanting more.

Magpies by co-editor Angela Readman is rich with local identity. If you know this region then you'll be able to picture the scenes well.

Another set of familiar surroundings are found in Tabs by Sean O'Brien. A library full of regulars keeping warm and examining the images in Practical Photography magazine between filling in job applications. I don't recall smoking in libraries myself - they always seem to be one place that smelt of something different (books) but I do remember the fog when entering pubs like the Crown Posada and the Barking Dog. As the story points out, these city centre bars have their regulars - their characters - with their own relationships.

J. A. Mensah’s Thunder Thursday on Pemberton Grove ties up life in a Newcastle street with a significant real life chapter in Newcastle’s recent past. The close proximity of interconnecting lives in the Tyneside flats is examined. The noise DIY in one flat causes issues in others. Do we know our neighbours. Will we support our neighbours if an issue occurs? Of course,  if you were in Newcastle in June 2012 then you know what is about to happen.

Living on Planet Clacky by Glynis Reed is a a brief tale of sisters, popularity and coping with parents splitting up.

Margaret Wilkinson is better known for scriptwriting and with The Here and Now she adopt a unique voice as the story refers to “you” throughout. A shop keeper in his 30s with a health condition pondering on his future.  Should one have that operation? The story refers to the historic yet run down nature of aspects of Westgate Road. Once prestigious and now a shadow of its former self. As a former resident of Westgate Road this was one story that resonated with me.

Blood Brothers by Jessica Andrews is another that hit a chord. Two girls grow up together and one heads off to university. Nothing unusual there perhaps but by wrapping this tale around familiar Newcastle haunts, with the pair doing the recognisable things that you did as you grew up sets it apart. Indeed, I recognized the feeling of when you return from university and the place and people that you left behind haven't stood still waiting for you.

Duck Race by Crista Ermiya nods in the direction of Newcastle's blossoming cultural scene.  Three poets meet up as the Newcastle based poet welcomes back her ex and his pregnant wife. The mix of venues like the Cluny, and its’ fund raising duck race, along with the city's role in the rise of Jimi Hendrix make this story into much more. The author paints a strong picture of the area in which the story takes place. This is a narrative that could be easily made into a short film.

The late Chrissie Blazebrook was a comic novelist and in Loftboy some thought has been put into setting the scene. Heather Boot lives with her son Billy in a housing association property. The house is over a hundred years old but, when an inspector from the association  comes around,  Billy discovers that the loft space is communal. No walls separate each house up there. In other words, Billy could explore it when his mam was out. The neighbours described by Chrissie Blazebrook reflect how Elswick's population has changed since the second world war. The author captures the excitement of 'going up there'. This is something I recognize from my own childhood.

The final story, Ekow in Town Moor, is poet Degna Stone's first published short story. It is a deeply reflective tale looking at the loss of a parent whilst exploring the Town Moor. I remember being amazed at the huge expanse of green moor in the centre of Newcastle when I first arrived in the city. Degna's short tale manages to encapsulate both the   process of grieving with this unique space.

One major advantage of a set of short stories is that it is easy to pick up, read up a complete tale and then do something else. It has fitted in well around the life of a family in the current lockdown.

Review by Stephen Oliver

The book is available direct from the publisher and online from our affiliates Waterstones and Amazon. #Ad