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Preview: Haunting of Blaine Manor at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

 A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The Haunting of Blaine Manor

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Saturday 9th October 2021

Tickets: #Ad

Halloween is coming early to Newcastle this year as Grainger Town turns to Stranger Town - and a play about a haunted manor will play a haunted theatre.  

Tyne Theatre and Opera House is said to be haunted by the ghost of a stage hand killed by ‘the thunder roller’ - the original sound effect machinery to create the sound of thunder.  The staff call him Bobby.  Will Bobby put in an appearance the night of the show? 

Come and join us if you dare on Saturday the 9th of October, get the best seats now as tickets are already starting to fly.  

The celebrated chiller and most talked about haunter since The Woman in Black is coming  to the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, a beautiful - and haunted - theatre. Horror is a Place.

England, 1953.

Renowned American parapsychologist Doctor Roy Earle, famous for discrediting hauntings and exposing fake mediums, is invited to attend a seance in what is said to be the most haunted building in England, Blaine Manor. Even the locals won’t set foot there, as all who walk within those grounds will be cursed.

But his arrival at the manor has awoken something horrific within the walls. As a raging storm closes off Blaine Manor from the outside world, Earle and the others find that what is waiting there is not nearly as horrific as what has entered with him…

Written and directed by Joe O’Byrne, in the spirit of M R James, England’s most accomplished ghost story writer (Casting the Runes, Whistle and I’ll Come To You My Lad) and with a nod to the classic black and white films of Columbia Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayor, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Joe O’Byrne’s award winning production leaves behind the modern world of his critically acclaimed Tales from Paradise Heights series of plays and films for his first period piece.  Featuring a firecracker cast of Peter Slater, Jo Haydock, James Allen, Andrew Yates, Ed Barry and Joe O’Byrne, the play features an original chilling sound design created for the play a and haunting title theme by Justin Wetherill. 

Posters and digital imagery by Darren McGinn

Tickets are available from the theatre box office and online from our affiliates Eventim UK – Ticket Link: 


Preview: Being Mr Wickham at Darlington Hippodrome

 Original Theatre Company presents

Being Mr Wickham

starring Adrian Lukis

Darlington Hippodrome

Monday 11th Tuesday 12th October 2021

Original Theatre Company’s Autumn 2021 tour of Being Mr Wickham starring Adrian Lukis heads to Darlington Hippodrome on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 October 2021 at 8pm. Written by Adrian Lukis and Catherine Curzon, this one-man play about one of Jane Austen’s most charmingly roguish characters, is directed by Guy Unsworth.

Adrian Lukis, who starred in the renowned BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, returns to the role of Mr Wickham following the acclaimed online production of Being Mr Wickham earlier this year.

"Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends - whether he may be equally capable of retaining them is less certain." Join Pride and Prejudice’s most roguish gentleman, George Wickham, on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, to lift the sheets on exactly what happened thirty years on from where we left him. Discover his own version of some very famous literary events. What really happened with Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What happened at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron…

Adrian Lukis said of the production: "I’m thrilled to be reunited with my old friend, George Wickham. Having spent years defending his dubious reputation, I look forward to finally setting the record straight, with the assistance of the immensely talented Original Theatre Company."

Rarely off the small screen, Adrian Lukis’s most recent TV credits include Channel 4’s Feel Good, the 2019 mini-series A Christmas Carol starring Guy Pearce, Vera, Poldark, Bulletproof, Collateral, The Crown, Red Dwarf, Grantchester, Black Mirror, Blair Toast in Toast of London, Downton Abbey, New Tricks and Death in Paradise. He also stars in the new Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal, due to be streamed this year.  Films include Judy, Dolittle, City Slacker and Bertie & Dickie.  Recent theatre credits include The Price (Theatre Royal Bath), The Seagull (Chichester Festival Theatre/ National Theatre), and Versailles (Donmar Warehouse).

Being Mr Wickham
is produced by Alastair Whatley and Tom Hackney for Original Theatre Company, the award-winning producer of hit online productions of Birdsong and Apollo 13: The Dark Side of the Moon and stage productions including the 5-star revival of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art and A Splinter of Ice.

The Director is Guy Unsworth, Designer is Libby Watson, Sound Designer is Max Pappenheim and Lighting Designer is Johanna Town.

Alastair Whatley, Artistic Director of Original Theatre Company, said: “Guy Unsworth’s production of Adrian’s and Catherine’s fantastic play was one of the highlights from our recent online season. Originally live streamed from the beautiful Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds but without an audience physically with us in the room, it’s a real thrill to be able to get the show on the road and visit theatres up and down the country.”


Photos: James Findlay


On The Web:


Twitter: @OriginalTheatre  

Instagram: @originaltheatrecompany

Facebook: OriginalTheatre

YouTube: @originaltheatre  



For more information, and to book, visit or call the Box Office on 01325 405405.

Preview: Blackadder II at Newcastle People’s Theatre

 “To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn’t it?”


Blackadder II by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton

Newcastle People’s Theatre

Tuesday 5 - Saturday 9 October 2021


If there’s one thing we need right now, it’s a good laugh. The People’s Theatre in Heaton are delighted to oblige by bringing audiences the BBC comedy classic Blackadder II.  Join them in Elizabethan England for the escapades of scheming Lord Edmund Blackadder and his turnip-loving servant Baldrick.

Blackadder (Sam Hinton) & Baldrick (Tony Sehgal)
Photo: Matthew Hope


As Blackadder strives to use his withering wit and cowardly cunning to gain favour with eccentric Queenie, he must also contend with aristocratic buffoon Lord Percy, dim-witted Nursie and crafty Lord Melchett.


The play is brought to the stage by many of the team behind the Theatre’s hugely successful production of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ in 2018.  Director Matthew Hope returns, as do Sam Hinton as Blackadder, Tony Sehgal as Baldrick and Jake Wilson Craw as Flashheart.  And, of course, there are lots of new characters to enjoy including the fabulously childish Queen Elizabeth I played by Catherine White, who has been a Blackadder fan for as long as she can remember.

Baldrick (Tony Sehgal), Blackadder (Sam Hinton), Percy (Ben Ostell)
Photo: Matthew Hope


Catherine comments: “It’s amazing to live out a childhood dream of stepping into the shoes of Miranda Richardson. The rehearsals have been a much-needed giggle from start to finish and I hope it’ll be a blast for the audience too.”


Co-director Sean Burnside adds:  The People’s has always relied on its members as its greatest asset, and Matt and I feel privileged to have been able to bring so many back into the rehearsal room, and have so much fun in the process. It’s been a rare rehearsal where laughter hasn’t stopped us in our tracks and we hope we can put smiles on our audiences’ faces after what has been an extremely downbeat year”.


The Theatre’s re-opening earlier this month saw an outpouring of support from audiences delighted to return and help the People’s get back on its feet.


The Theatre’s COVID-safe measures were praised by audiences, and they continue to offer socially-distanced performances for those not quite ready to return to a busy indoor space.



Lord Edmund Blackadder: Sam Hinton

Baldrick: Tony Sehgal

Lord Percy: Ben Ostell

Queen Elizabeth I: Catherine White

Nursie: Karen Elliott

Lord Melchett: Tony Childs


Directors: Matthew Hope and Sean Burnside




Blackadder II by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton appears on Tuesday 5 - Saturday 9 October 2021 (socially-distanced performance on Tuesday 5th) at Newcastle’s People’s Theatre.

Tickets: £15 (Conc. £13)

Box Office: 0191 265 5020                    



Preview: Road at Newcastle Northern Stage


Cast and creative team announced for Natalie Ibu’s first show as Northern Stage’s Artistic Director


Road by Jim Cartwright

Newcastle Northern Stage

Friday 8th - Saturday 30th October 2021

In the 35th anniversary of Jim Cartwright’s joyous and anarchic masterpiece, the residents of Road are relocated to the North East in the first show Artistic Director Natalie Ibu will direct for Northern Stage.


I’m excited to be working with a brilliant cast and creative team to explore the intersectionality between race, class and gender and bring Jim Cartwright’s vivid characters back to life, 2021 style.” - Natalie Ibu


Part of Northern Stage’s Housewarming season, audiences and artists will be welcomed back to the theatre’s main stage with a gritty, funny, riotous show about community and connection. Natalie says, “Road is the perfect post-pandemic celebration of community and resilience - the narrator introduces us to residents on the road, who then make their way out of their own houses to their local pub. In fact, all of our Housewarming season productions talk directly to the audience - breaking down the fourth wall to welcome people back, and reconnecting artists and audiences in a way that only live theatre can.

“It’s the dream play for me to direct as my first show for Northern Stage - I directed a scene when I was at university and it has really stayed with me for 17 years. It’s with Road that I found my vision as a director. It helped me articulate that I wanted to tell stories about the blood, sweat and tears it takes to live life, and that I wanted to fill stages with loud, vivid expressions of what it means to be alive.

“Originally set in Lancashire, we’re relocating it to a North East working class community dealing with poverty, unemployment, disappointment and a desperation for change whilst also making the most of who and what they have. It’s about what it is to live, in all of its complexities - looking to the past to understand how we live now, telling forgotten stories about forgotten people. There’s an incredible resilience in this community, a charm; they’re a hoot to be around and I’m excited to be working with a brilliant cast and creative team to explore the intersectionality between race, class and gender and bring Jim Cartwright’s vivid characters back to life, 2021 style.”

The cast are Michael Hodgson (The Pitmen Painters/ Live Theatre/ National Theatre/ West End/Broadway, Get Carter/Northern Stage); Ike Bennett (Curfew/Sky TV with Adrian Lester and Sean Bean); Rosie Stancliffe (Leaving by Paddy Campbell/Curious Monkey); Ryan Nolan (Hyem/Theatre 503, Ryan made his feature film debut as Private Malky in Sam Mendes' award winning 1917); Nicole Sawyerr (Those Who Trespass/Arts Ed & High Tide Festival, Boom/Theatre 503); Ruby Crepin-Glyne - making her professional theatre debut, Ruby graduated from The Oxford School of Drama in 2019 where she performed at the Sam Wanamaker Festival/ The Globe, and The Royal Court in Mark Ravenhill’s Pool No Water; Rohit Gokani (Silver Street/BBC Asian Network, A Living Myth/English National Opera, TV credits include Wire in the Blood with Robson Green); Shahbaaz Khan (a recent graduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts returning to his home region to make his professional stage debut, credits include Shakespeare in Love/Mountview and Looted/AmazonTV); Philip Harrison (recent credits include The Duke with Jim Broadbent, and Jekyll & Hyde/Northumberland Theatre Company); and Patricia Jones (West End Girls/Live Theatre, film credits include I, Daniel Blake).

The creative team are Set & Costume Designer Amelia Jane Hankin (One Under/Graeae, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads/Chichester Festival Theatre); Lighting Designer Zoe Spurr (Emilia/West End, Wuthering Heights/ Royal Exchange Theatre); Sound Designer Jon McLeod (Macbeth/Shakespeare’s Globe, Collapsible/Bush Theatre); Assistant Director Natasha Haws (Familiar/Alphabetti Theatre); Movement Director Nadia Iftkhar who has made and collaborated on over 20 works at venues including Sadler’s Wells, Tramway Glasgow, Dance City Newcastle and Konzerthaus Wien; Intimacy Directors Yarit Dor (Death of a Salesman/Young Vic) and Enric Ortuno; Dialect Coaches Yvonne Morley-Chisholm (associate with the National Theatre, The Royal

Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe) and Tim Charrington (theatre credits include the West End, Old Vic, Donmar, Royal Court, Manchester Royal Exchange, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Sheffield Crucible, TV credits include 24); and Casting Director Nadine Rennie CDG (Olivier nominated Ivan and the Dogs by Hattie Naylor, God’s Property by Arinze Kene).

As well as opening up the theatre to audiences, Artistic Director Natalie Ibu is creating more opportunities for more artists and creatives to work with Northern Stage, including open calls for casting and freelance roles on the creative team and new ways for local theatre makers to engage, such as open rehearsals and workshops. Natalie says, “Nadine Rennie has a wealth of experience, having worked with the likes of Roxana Silbert, Indhu Rubasingham, Rufus Norris and Roy Williams to name just a few, and has helped us to find a hugely talented and diverse cast; 10 actors play 37 roles, so getting the casting right was essential and I’m so excited to start work with them in rehearsals. The show has real moments of joy and celebration but also tackles more challenging topics and so I’m really pleased to be working with intimacy directors, Yarit Dor and Enric Ortuno, to empower actors and help create a process that is more conscious of boundaries, consent and self-care.”

Northern Stage is committed to making its work as accessible as possible.

As well as performances with BSL, closed captions and audio description, the company continues to offer socially distanced shows and Northern Stage at Home allows audiences who aren’t yet ready or able to come to the theatre to watch Northern Stage productions online.

Rosie Stancliffe and Michael Hodgson in
rehearsals for Road at Northern Stage

Rehearsal Photos: Von Fox Productions



Road is at Northern Stage from 8 - 30 October. Tickets start from £10, book online at or call the box office on 0191 230 5151

Preview: Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at Sunderland Empire


Su Pollard will play the Wicked Queen

in the canniest panto of them all


Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs 

Sunderland Empire

Friday 10 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022 

Tickets available online at*


Sunderland Empire is delighted to announce that the nation’s much-loved actress and entertainer Su Pollard will be returning to thrill pantomime audiences as the Wicked Queen in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs from Friday 10 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022. 

Star of stage and screen Su Pollard made her television debut on Opportunity Knocks, where she came second to a singing Jack Russell dog. Whilst best known as Peggy in the BAFTA Award-winning sitcom Hi-De-Hi, she has played countless roles on stage, television and in film. A true star of pantomimes, Su has appeared in Pinocchio, Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, Babes In The Wood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan and Cinderella…

Su Pollard

Su will join the previously announced North East Queen of Comedy, Miss Rory (Boulevard, aka Dan Cunningham) who will star as the hilarious Nurse Rorina, and it is time to say ‘Alreet’ once again to South Shields comic Tom Whalley, as the side splitting Muddles the Jester. 

Tom Whalley

Head out on a pantomime adventure deep intothe enchanted forest for Christmas 2021. With a beautiful princess, a jealous Wicked Queenseven bumbling dwarfs, a naughty nurse, a hilarious jester, and not forgetting a poisoned apple and a Magic Mirror, it’s too tempting not to! 

Miss Rory

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is produced by Martin Dodd for UK Productions and the company behind panto successes at the Sunderland Empire, including recent productions of the high-flying Peter Pan (2018) and enchanting Cinderella (2019). 


Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is at the Sunderland Empire from 
Friday 10 December 2021 – Sunday 2 January 2022. Tickets priced from just £13* are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at* #ad


* A £3.65 transaction fee applies to telephone and online bookingsCalls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge.  



REVIEW: Blood Brothers at Newcastle Theatre Royal

 Blood Brothers

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 25th September 2021

Lyn Paul was billed as returning for her farewell tour in the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone, however tonight was a night that showed that the show must go on. Indeed, the understudies did a brilliant job in the opening night of Blood Brothers, which appears this week at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

The roles of Mrs Johnstone, Mrs Lyons, Donna Marie and Mickey were all performed by understudies and you'd never have guessed if you had not noticed the sign as you went in. Each one did a fine job and it just goes to show that there is a wealth of talent in this very strong ensemble.

Written by award-winning playwright Willy Russell, this epic tale of Liverpool life started as a play, performed at a Liverpool comprehensive school in 1981, before opening at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983. It is a tale of two brothers, Mickey (Josh Capper) and Eddie (Joel Benedict), who are separated at birth and follow different paths. The show has charm, comedy and a strong message as Russell's script moves from emotional moments to some real laughs.

Now Lyn Paul was my first Mrs Johnstone when I saw the show in the West End back in the 90s so I was looking forward to seeing her. But Paula Tappenden stepped into the shoes and commanded the stage from the opener Marilyn Monroe through to the the heartbreaking Tell Me It's Not True.

Likewise there was the necessary onstage chemistry between Josh Capper, Joel Benedict and Danielle Corlass as central core of Mickey, Eddie and Linda. We watch them grow up from 7 (and nearly 8) year olds and through their teens into their adult relationships. It is important that the audience feel that they have close spoken and unspoken ties for the show to work.

There are also the almost ever present Narrator (Robbie Scotcher) and the fringe supporting characters including Eddie's Mother, Mrs Lyons (Grace Galloway) and Mickey's brother Sammy (Daniel Taylor) who need to have good timing to keep the action flowing. Directors Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright have used Andy Walmsey's set to ensure that there is no interruption to the action. Another aspect of the show that could be easily overlooked in making the sequences segue smoothly is Nick Richings lighting design that guide the audience to concentrate on one area or another.

The show also features a live band under Musical Director Matt Malone. The arrangements and choice of drum sounds gives the show an early to mid-80s feel. The use of live musicians helps with the energy of the production.

It was fantastic to see a show at this theatre with a full crowd. The audience even up in the Gods at the top. It is also pleasing to see a large number of younger audience members. Some school trips were in the crowd and the school teachers should be congratulated for giving the evening up to show their young charges that theatre is not just there for panto. At the curtain call the audience rose to their feet to congratulate the cast on a job well done.

I have lost count how many times I have seen this musical. So how does this cast compare? It was up there with the best. The understudies having a point to prove and delivering a great night at the theatre.

Review: Stephen Oliver


Blood Brothers plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 September 2021. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


Preview: Blood Brothers at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Multi-Award Winning Blood Brothers Returns to Newcastle Theatre Royal


Blood Brothers

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 21st – Saturday 25th September 2021


Bill Kenwright's legendary production of the international smash hit musical Blood Brothers returns to Newcastle Theatre Royal for one week following its spectacular sell-out run in 2017.

Lyn Paul returns for her farewell tour in the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone, which she first made her own in London’s West End.

Completing the cast is: Hannah Barr (Brenda), Joel Benedict (Eddie), Josh Capper (Neighbour), Tim Churchill (Mr Lyons), Danielle Corlass (Linda), Grace Galloway (Donna Marie/Miss Jones), Andy Owens (Perkins), Alex Patmore (Mickey), Robbie Scotcher (Narrator), Paula Tappenden (Mrs Lyons) and Danny Taylor (Sammy).

Blood Brothers
tells the captivating and moving tale of twins separated at birth, who grow up on the opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with tragic consequences.

When Mrs Johnstone, a young mother, is deserted by her husband and left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children she takes a job as a housekeeper in order to make ends meet. It is not long before her brittle world crashes around her when she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again - this time with twins! In a moment of weakness and desperation, she enters a secret pact with her employer which leads inexorably to the show's shattering climax.

This epic tale of Liverpool life started as a play, performed at a Liverpool comprehensive school in 1981, before opening at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983. The musical has since triumphed across the globe, completing sell out seasons in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, and scooping up four awards for Best Musical in London and seven Tony Award nominations on Broadway.

The superb score includes A Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It's Not True.

Lyn Paul first rose to fame in the early 1970s as a member of the New Seekers, whose hit ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ sold over 20 million copies and remains one of the 100 best-selling UK singles of all time.  Lyn also featured as the lead vocalist on the 1974 number-one hit ‘You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me’.  

Written by award-winning playwright Willy Russell, few musicals have been received with such acclaim as the multi-award-winning Blood Brothers. Considered 'one of the best musicals ever written' (Sunday Times), Bill Kenwright’s production surpassed 10,000 performances in London’s West End, one of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.  It has been affectionately christened the ‘Standing Ovation Musical’, as inevitably it “brings the audience cheering to its feet and roaring its approval” (Daily Mail).


Blood Brothers plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tue 21 – Sat 25 Sep 2021. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


REVIEW: Educating Rita at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Educating Rita

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 18 September 2021.

The 41-year old play has lost none of its power as it has been revived and brought to Newcastle for the final leg of a UK Tour. Starring two of the regions leading actors, it raises issues about cultural capital that still resonate today. 

Of course the Royal Shakespeare Company's commission, written by Willy Russel was adapted by Russell for a 1983 film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters. However this was, first and foremost, a two hander play situated in the office of a university lecturer.

Stephen Tompkinson appears as Frank, a university lecturer of English Literature, with a drink problem. The show opens with him trying to remember which books hide the bottle of scotch that will provide his next drink. He is staying late tonight as he needs extra income in order to fund his alcohol habit. Such funds are going to be raised by tutoring an Open University student. When she arrives the new undergraduate is clearly from a different background to his usual cohort. This is not someone full of self-confidence bordering on arrogance. This is going to be someone who reads mass circulation fiction and who has never been to the theatre. In short, there is a large cultural gap.

But that is not to suggest that Susan, who wants to be known at Rita, is not keen to learn. She may be a hairdresser but she is desperate to level up her knowledge and understanding to that of the "regular" students so that she passes exams. Alas her initial impression of classic fiction is that it is "crap". However she is able to persuade Frank to take her on. 

Jessica Johnson does a fantastic job of conveying the circumstance of a working class wife who has an unsupportive husband with a degree of Northern working class humour. The emotions in a scene can quickly change from laughs, due to the flippant answers to her work, to compassion, as she explores life beyond the office walls with adroit flexibility.  Russell's writing gives both characters a three dimensional aspect that quickly makes the audience root for them. 

This is a perfect marriage between well written and poignant material with two highly respected actors who have always added an element of class in any production that we have seen them in. Director Max Roberts, formally of Live Theatre, appears to have kept a light hand on the tiller in allowing these two performers explore the material. The show runs for 90 minutes without interval and this helps keep the momentum flowing. 

We have been awaiting a chance to catch this show and it did not disappoint. 

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Nobby Clark


Educating Rita plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 13 – Saturday 18 September 2021. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).