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Preview: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at Sunderland Empire



The National Theatre’s Critically Acclaimed Production Of

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

will tour to

Sunderland Empire

from 28 February – 4 March 2023

as part of a major UK and Ireland tour  


The National Theatre’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane will tour the UK and Ireland later this year, direct from the West End, visiting Sunderland Empire from 28 February – 4 March 2023. Directed by Katy Rudd (Camp Siegfried) and adapted by Joel Horwood (Skins, I Want My Hat Back), the first major stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s work is a thrilling adventure of fantasy, myth and friendship, which blends magic with memory in a tour-de-force of storytelling that takes audiences on an epic journey to a childhood once forgotten and the darkness that lurks at the very edge of it.

Returning to his childhood home, a man finds himself standing beside the pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. He's transported to his 12th birthday when his remarkable friend Lettie claimed it wasn't a pond, but an ocean – a place where everything is possible... 

Plunged into a magical world, their survival depends on their ability to reckon with ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything around them. 

Touring for a total of 40 weeks, this is the largest tour mounted by the National Theatre since before the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows a celebrated six-month run of The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End, which opened in November 2021 after the production received its world premiere in the Dorfman Theatre in late 2019.  

Writer Neil Gaiman said: “The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about memory, magic, family. It’s about who you were and who you are. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever been involved in. It’s not like anything else you’ll ever see at the theatre. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has its own theatrical magic. It's why happy people tell you that they cried while watching it, it's why it becomes a dreamlike experience in memory, it gets bigger the further inside you follow it. Like a duck pond that contains an ocean that holds the universe…”  

Director Katy Rudd said: “When Neil Gaiman gave the National Theatre his blessing to stage his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane we knew that this book was treasured across the world by Neil Gaiman’s legions of fans. The writer, Joel Horwood and I wanted to be faithful to the novel and at the same time create a big, bold, visual show with more than just a little bit of magic.

Thanks to our amazing creative team we found ways to fit an ocean into a bucket, and bring huge mythical creatures like the Hunger Birds to life on stage….but at its heart, Ocean is a human story about a family and a young boy growing up, experiencing real emotion and real pain, and finding a way to get through it with the help of his friends. We hope we have created something that is both profound and visually exciting that will appeal, not only to regular theatre audiences, but also to younger people from the ‘Netflix generation’ who might not have been to the theatre before. It is a beautiful, rich, multi-faceted story and as this production goes on tour we are still adapting and evolving it and finding new meaning in its depths. That is the magic of live theatre and we can’t wait to share it with our audiences.”

National Theatre Director Rufus Norris said: “That Joel Horwood, Katy Rudd and their formidable creative team have managed to wrestle Neil Gaiman’s incredible imagination and the worlds which spring from it onto a stage is magic in itself. We’re so proud to tour this work around the UK and Ireland, to share this beautiful story with audiences nationally, and to visit so many gorgeous theatres which, like ours, have recently been dark for too long.” 

Neil Gaiman is known for his graphic novels, including The Sandman series (with a major new Netflix series scheduled for release in 2022); his novels for adults and children including Stardust, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book; and multiple film and television projects including Good Omens and Anansi Boys. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the winner of the Book of the Year at the 2013 National Book Awards and has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane introduces audiences to Gaiman’s magical world and the much-loved characters that inhabit it, fully realised on stage. An award-winning creative team join Katy Rudd and Joel Horwood; with set design by Fly Davis (Beginning; Caroline or Change) and costume and puppet design by Samuel Wyer (The Boy in the Dress; 2022 Best Family Show Olivier Award winner for Wolf Witch Giant Fairy). Movement direction is by Steven Hoggett (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), composition by Jherek Bischoff (LA based composer and multi-instrumentalist whose collaborators include David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, and Regina Spektor), lighting design is by Paule Constable (5 times winner of the Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design, including for The Ocean at the End of the Lane in 2020), sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph (Angels in America; Small Island; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), magic and illusions direction and design by Jamie Harrison (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and puppetry direction by Finn Caldwell (2022 Olivier Award winner for Life of Pi; War Horse). Tour casting is by Sarah Hughes CDG. Cast to be announced.  

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is suitable for ages 12+

Photos featuring the 2021-22 West End cast: Manuel Harlan


ATG Theatre Card holder ticket pre-sale from 19 May 2022, and General tickets on-sale from 20 May 2022 can be booked via

News: Customs House Academy Welcomes New Honorary Fellows


The Customs House Academy Welcomes New Honorary Fellows

The Customs House Academy, launched to mark the 150th anniversary of the building’s opening, recognises and honours the achievements of exceptional individuals who have made a major contribution to the world of arts and entertainment and have a significant connection with South Tyneside.

On Sunday, 19th June, The Customs House Academy will welcome Janis Blower and Jeff Brown  to become Honorary Fellows. Janis is an author and journalist, whose contribution  to the Shields Gazette over 40 years won many awards; her Cookson Country collection can be found in expat homes around the world. Jeff who after a career in journalism, joined the sports team at Tyne Tees TV before moving to BBC Look North as sports presenter, before becoming the regular anchor for the show; his play ‘Cornered’ tells the story of David Corner and the aftermath of the “Friendly” league cup final. The afternoon will be hosted by the Voice of North East News, Stephanie Finnon from BBC Radio Newcastle.  

Ray Spencer, Executive Director explained: “Jeff & Janis are both Legends in their own fields and have that rare gift in modern journalism that they are loved and trusted by the communities they serve”

Jeff & Janis join a very exclusive club of Honorary Fellows that includes Sarah Millican, Jason Cook, Chris & Rosie Ramsay, Jade Thirlwall, Joe McElderry, Nadine Shah, Jamie Lambert, Encore, Ann-Marie Owens, John Woodvine, John Hays, Tom Kelly, John Miles, Andy Bogle, Lindsay Kemp, Sheila Graber, Bob Olley, Alex Ferguson, Richard Ord, George Iriving, Sandford Goudie and Nigel Begg.

Tickets for the event are priced at £25 each can be purchased by calling 0191 454 1234 (Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 3pm) or online at 


Preview: Whale of a Time at Newcastle Alphabetti

Peachplant Productions & Alphabetti Theatre present

Whale of a Time

Newcastle Alphabetti

Tuesday 17th May - Saturday 4th June 2022

Peachplant Productions and Alphabetti Theatre are co-producing the World premiere of Whale of a Time by Lucy Curry & Carl Wylie, directed by Paula Penman.

A play about two men in a whale. But why?

Set inside the belly of a whale, we meet Albert, a man in his fifties who has been here for half of his life. Why is he inside of a whale? He has no idea, but after 25 years, he’s pretty much accepted it, it’s home. In washes Robbie, in his twenties and full of beans.

They’re an unlikely pairing but we follow their meeting as it turns into friendship.

Conversations about life events that Albert had no idea about. What’s Google? Who’s Raoul Moat? And what the hell is a vegan sausage roll?

Albert has always wanted to get back home to his wife but the only way back is through the blowhole of the whale and it seems like an impossible task. Could Robbie be the solution Albert has been waiting for all these years? And more importantly, why are they here in the first place? Whale Of A Time explores friendship, 'being a man' in different generations and how one person can change the rest of your life.

Peachplant are a new company in the North East founded in 2021 made up of Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie. Both started out as actors and have opened new doors along the way such as writing, movement directing and illustration. They’re no strangers to Alphabetti and love the work that Alphabetti does for the people and creatives of Newcastle. Peachplant aim to tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways.

Cast & Creatives:

Writer: Lucy Curry & Carl Wylie

Director: Paula Penman

Stage Manager: Andrea Scrimshaw

Designer: Kylie Ann Ford

Lighting Designer: Simon Cole

Sound Designer: Luke Gaul

Photography & Videography: Matt Jamie

Producers: Lucy Curry & Carl Wylie, with support from Esther Fearn and Ali Pritchard

Cast: Steve Byron & Luke Maddison

On The Web:

Twitter - @peachplant_

Instagram @peachplantproductions

Facebook - Peachplant Productions

Captioned Performance: Wednesday 25th May 2022

Audio Described Performance: Wednesday 1st June 2022

Relaxed Performance: all Saturday Matinees

Age: 16+, strong language and themes that audience members may find distressing.


Tickets are Pay What You Feel and are available from 

Preview: Queen’s Hall Arts Centre announces Summer programme

 Queen’s Hall Arts Centre announces Summer programme

The Queen!s Hall Arts Centre in Hexham has announced a sizzling Summer programme celebrating the local community. Special events for the Queen’s Jubilee, Hexham Book Festival and Tynedale Community Choir’s 20th Birthday, alongside live music, theatre, dance, stand-up comedy and family shows, including a new adaptation of The Secret Garden set in Northumberland, commissioned by Queen’s Hall Arts and premiering at the Hexham Book Festival.

The Queen's Hall - photo: Jason Thompson, Sound Ideas Media

Artistic Director Katy Taylor said, "Summer is the season we traditionally offer up our spaces to the local community. From Hexham Book Festival to a whole host of exciting events celebrating the Queen's Jubilee and Tynedale Community Choir's 20th Birthday event, this year is certainly no different! We’re delighted to finally share the beautiful music created by Bridie Jackson and performed by North East musicians, celebrating the Unsung Heroes who made a difference in our local community during the pandemic. Rehearsals are already underway for a new adaptation of The Secret Garden, set right here in Northumberland. And we’ve got more live performances throughout the summer with something for audiences of all ages to enjoy.”

Summer highlights include:

The Secret Garden (12 June) - families are invited to discover the magic of The Secret Garden as writers Lisette Auton and Becci Sharrock join forces to bring an enchanting newly adapted version of this classic tale set in Northumberland.

The Secret Garden by Lisette Auton and Becci Sharrock 

Telling the true story of Harry Clasper - the greatest sporting superstar the North East has ever seen, Hadaway Harry (17 June) by Ed Waugh is a moving and humorous play that follows Harry’s journey from working class pitman in Jarrow to Rowing Champion of the World.

Jamie Brown as Harry Glasper in Hadaway Harry

Shakespeare!s Globe present Julius Caesar (24 June) - the Bard!s brutal tale of ambition and revolution comes to Hexham Abbey Grounds this summer with a special outdoor performance; Ancient Rome has never felt so close to home.

Julius Caesar from Shakespeare's Globe

Unsung Heroes (21 July) celebrates local people who made a difference in their community during the pandemic. North East singer songwriter Bridie Jackson created beautiful new songs about people nominated by the public, and will perform live with local musicians to launch this augmented reality project and exhibition by international multimedia artists Davy & Kristin McGuire.

Popular North East company Eliot Smith Dance return with Life & Other Stories (23 June) - four diverse contemporary dance pieces filled with physical movement, passion and excitement.

SING! Hexham Day of Song (25 June) will see Hexham come alive with singing workshops and performances to celebrate the Tynedale Community Choir's 20th Birthday. 

Live music includes The Quo Experience (3 June) - five decades of hits in the UK’s number one Status Quo tribute show; The Katatsitsi Drummers (4 June) - a group of traditional drummers, dancers and singers from the Ga tribe of Southern Ghana; Alistair McGowan (7 June) brings a new show combining his talents as a master impressionist and comedian with his new-found talent as a classical pianist; and The Floyd Effect (29 July) features a complete performance of the iconic Dark Side of the Moon album, as well as other much-loved tracks from Pink Floyd’s catalogue.

For comedy fans, TV household name Ed Byrne is back on 8 June with If I’m Honest - a brand new masterclass in observational comedy that’s selling fast. Plus a double helping of stand-up comedy on 10 June, with a show especially for kids at 4.30pm followed by the Funny Words Gala as part of the Hexham Book Festival, with special guest Rhys James who has appeared on Mock the Week and Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central.

Ed Byrne

Family shows include HEDGE (16 June) - a brand-new show for children aged 4+ that combines dance, beautiful costumes, innovative props and puppetry to create an imaginative space for little ones to explore and enjoy. The Tortoise and The Hare (4-6 August) - an interactive story for under 6s and their grownups with live music and puppetry from Kitchen Zoo, the family theatre company that brought us Wolf! and Bumbling About.

The Queen's Hall continues to have Covid safety measures in place to keep audiences, artists and staff safe including encouraging face coverings, hand sanitiser stations, extra cleaning and e-tickets to avoid congestion at the box office.


For more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01434 652 477


NEWS: Customs House staff are thrilled for former Customs Breaks dancer Jackson Watson


The Customs House staff are thrilled for former Customs Breaks dancer Jackson Watson.

Jackson, from Washington, was triumphant this weekend in winning the REDBULL BC ONE UK Cypher 2022.   Jackson began his dance tuition with Custom Breaks, a group which was based at The Customs House for many years and taught by P from Bad Taste Cru.

Jackson battled over two days this weekend (14/15 May) from the qualifiers all the way to the finals against some tough competition from some of the best in the UK. He faced off against rising star McLane from Wales in the finals and was given a 3-0 victory by the esteemed Judge Panel consisting of Roxrite (USA) AT (Finland) and Lagaet (Martinique/Paris).

Fiona Martin, deputy director (Learning and Participation) at The Customs House, said: “Jackson has always showed so much promise as a young dancer, practising and performing at The Customs House since 2007, and he has been one to watch since he entered the national scene in 2019.  We are delighted that Jackson has won this prestigious competition, and that he will go in to represent the UK in the States later this year. It was also amazing to see BBoy McLane in the Final; winner of Mean Teens 2021, at The Customs House.”

Jackson will jet off to the birthplace of hip hop and breakin, New York City, this November to represent the UK in the Redbull BC One World Finals.

This is one of the most prestigious competitions on the Breakin scene and with all eyes now on Breakin as an Olympic Sport for the 2024 Paris Games, this year's Red Bull event will be one of the best yet.

It’s not the first time Jackson, who is part of the Battalions crew, has made the finals. In 2019 he won UK cypher and went to India for the finals competing against some of the best in the world.

Last year Jackson made his acting debut in The Customs House’s Takeover Young Writer in Residence project: Cherryade Supernova, where he got the chance to treat the audience to some of his moves.

The North East was well represented at this year's Redbull UK event with Robert Anderson (Bad Taste Cru) being an invite and Jake Horsley (Battalions) making TOP16 in the qualifier.

For more information about the competition go to:


Preview: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at Newcastle Tyne Theatre




Joe Pasquale, Sarah Earnshaw and Susie Blake in Sit-Com Revival


Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 May 2022


The producers of the highly acclaimed UK tour of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em are delighted to announce the casting of Susie Blake returning as Frank’s disapproving mother-in-law Mrs Fisher, Moray Treadwell as Mr Luscombe/Mr Worthington, James Paterson as Father O'Hara and Ben Watson as Desmond/Constable. They join the previously announced Joe Pasquale as the loveable but accident-prone Frank Spencer and Sarah Earnshaw as his long-suffering wife Betty. Also in the cast are Nick Wray and Alice Osmanski.

Susie Blake regularly appeared in the TV series and comedy specials of Victoria Wood, Russ Abbot and Stanley Baxter, and is perhaps particularly loved as the Continuity Announcer in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV.  She recently has appeared in Silky Hotel (BBC iPlayer), Kate & Koji (Series 1&2 – ITV), Not Going Out (BBC One), The Real Marigold Hotel (BBC One). She is known for playing regular Bev Unwin in Coronation Street from 2003 to 2006 and again in 2015, and regular Hillary Nicholson in Mrs Brown’s Boys.  Her films include Fierce Creatures and Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!. Her theatre credits include  Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical (Dominion Theatre & Hall for Cornwall), My Fair Lady (Grange Festival), The Mirror Crack'd (UK Tour), Grumpy Old Women Live 2 & 3, When We Are Married (West End), Pygmalion (Chichester Festival Theatre), Madame Morrible in Wicked (West End) and Belinda Blair in Noises Off (National Theatre).

Moray Treadwell recently finished filming The Witcher: Blood Origin (Netflix). His theatre credits include No Man’s Land (UK tour), Hysteria (national tour for London Classic Theatre Company), The Railway Children (King’s Cross Theatre), The Beatles LOVE Show (Cirque Du Soleil, Las Vegas), Waiting For Godot (Italian tour), The Importance of Being Earnest (Vienna’s English Theatre) and The Ruling Class (Frankfurt's English Theatre).

James Paterson made his London debut in the original production of The Phantom of the Opera. During his long association with the show he played the title role when Michael Crawford was indisposed and also played M. Andre. He became Resident Director for the national tours and the London production. His other theatre credits include Sunset Boulevard (London Coliseum), Half a Sixpence (Chichester Festival Theatre), Cats (UK/International Tour), Cinderella, Dick Whittington and Snow White (The London Palladium). James most recently played Herr Schulz in Cabaret for ARTS Aberdeen. His television credits include London’s Burning, Close To Home and Birds of a Feather.

Ben Watson is an actor, writer, director and comedian who recently starred in Around the World in 80 Days (Blackpool Grand Theatre). He regularly performs his own solo comedy show The History of Everything in 60 minutes. His theatre credits include Aladdin (White Rock Theatre, Hastings), I Capture The Castle (Watford Palace / Bolton Octagon / Oxford Playhouse), Blue Brothers Party (UK / Japan Tour), The Jungle Book (UK Tour), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Comedy of Errors (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival).

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em will be directed by Guy Unsworth and designed by Simon Higlett, with lighting design by Matt Haskins, sound design by Ian Horrocks-Taylor and choreography by Jenny Arnold.

The UK Tour will be produced by Limelight Productions.

On The Web:



Twitter: @somemothersuk



Tickets are available online from our affiliates Eventim UK:





Preview: The Play That Goes Wrong at Newcastle Theatre Royal







The Play That Goes Wrong

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Monday 6 – Saturday 11 June 2022 

The original cast of The Play That Goes Wrong are reprising their roles in two UK cities as part of the production’s current UK tour, 10 years after they first performed the play at The Old Red Lion Pub Theatre.

The original cast from the 2012 run, Rob Falconer (Trevor), Dave Hearn (Max), Henry Lewis (Robert), Charlie Russell (Sandra), Jonathan Sayer (Dennis), Henry Shields (Chris), Greg Tannahill (Jonathan) and Nancy Zamit (Annie) reunite to perform The Play That Goes Wrong to UK audiences for the first time in over five years, and will play at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Monday 6 – Saturday 11 June 2022 following a week long run in Manchester.

Having proved a huge audience favourite during previous riotous runs in 2017 and 2018, The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring.

The play features the (fictional) Cornley Drama Society who are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does! As the accident prone thesps battle against all the odds to reach their final curtain call, hilarious results ensue!

Jonathan Sayer said: We’re so excited to be going back into The Play That Goes Wrong. It’s such a special show for us all and we really can’t wait to perform again and make people laugh in two amazing cities!”

Kenny Wax commented, “I’m just sorry for everyone involved - especially the audiences.”

Awarded the 2014 WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Comedy, the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and a Tony Award for the Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong continues to delight audiences in the West End, Off Broadway and around the world. The show’s success is a testament to the hard work and determination of a group of drama school graduates who became friends, set up a company under the name ‘Mischief’ and created an extraordinary body of work. The Play That Goes Wrong shows no signs of slowing down since its first performance at The Old Red Lion in 2012 with only four paying customers. Since then, it has played to an audience of over two million and now has productions in over 30 countries.

The Play That Goes Wrong is on its 5th UK tour and is blundering its way through its 8th year in the West End, currently booking until April 2023. Last year it became the longest running play at The Duchess Theatre (since the theatre opened in 1929), and is the longest running comedy in the West End.

The Play That Goes Wrong is co-written by Mischief company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and is directed by Mark Bell, with set designs by Nigel Hook, costumes by Roberto Surace, lighting by Ric Mountjoy, original music by Rob Falconer, sound design by Andy Johnson, the associate director is Sean Turner and the resident director is Amy Milburn. The Play That Goes Wrong is produced in the West End by Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel


The Play That Goes Wrong plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 6 – Saturday 11 June 2022. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.