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Preview: Singin’ in the Rain at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Don’t Save It For A Rainy Day – Singin’ In The Rain Set To Make A Splash At Newcastle Theatre Royal

Singin’ in the Rain

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 May 2022

What a glorious feeling! The West Ends smash-hit Singin’ in the Rain will be making a splash at Newcastle Theatre Royal for a much anticipated week-long run in May.

Star of stage and a member of the popular music group Steps, Faye Tozer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, West End; Me and My Girl and Tell me on a Sunday) leads the cast and reprises her role as the strangulated silver-screen siren, Lina Lamont having previously delighted audiences at Sadler’s Wells.

Faye will be joined by Sam Lips as Don Lockwood (Broadway and US credits include CATS, Chicago, West, Side Story, On the Town and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. UK credits include Strictly Ballroom); Charlotte Gooch (Strictly Ballroom and Top Hat in the West End, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, first UK Tour and West End) as aspiring actress Kathy Selden and Ross McLaren (Sleepless, Troubadour Theatre; BIG The Musical and White Christmas at the Dominion Theatre) as Don’s slapstick sidekick Cosmo Brown.

Further casting includes Sandra Dickinson, who will appear as Dora Bailey, Michael Matus as Roscoe Dexter and Imogen Brooke as Zelda Zanders. The ensemble features Briana Craig, Alastair Crosswell, Lavinia Fitzpatrick, Jenny Gayner, Alex Given, Ryan Gover, Ashleigh Graham, Thomas Inge, Robin Kent, Joshua Lovell, George Lyons, Amonik Melaco, Ashleigh Morris, Peter Nash, Dale Rapley, Molly Rees-Howe, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Heather Scott-Martin, Megan Speirs, Ben Whitnall, and Ellie May Wilson.

Don Lockwood is a silent movie star with everything he could want – fame, adulation and a well-publicised ‘romance’ with his co-star Lina Lamont. But Hollywood is about to change forever. There is rumour in the studio of a new kind of film, where the actors actually talk … and sing … and dance. Can Don and the uniquely voiced Lina make the transition, and will chorus girl Kathy Selden fulfil her dream of stardom and capture Don’s heart along the way?

High-energy choreography and sumptuous set design (including over 14,000 litres of water on stage every night) combine with the charm, romance and wit of one of the world’s best-loved films. Singin’ in the Rain features a glorious score including Good Morning, Make ‘Em Laugh, Moses Supposes and the legendary Singin’ in the Rain.

Photos: Johan Persson


Singin’ in the Rain plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 May 2022. Tickets are priced from £20.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.



Preview: Rachelle Ann Go to star as ‘Fantine’ in Les Misérables

Rachelle Ann Go

to star as ‘Fantine’ in Les Misérables

Rachelle Ann Go
Photo Johan Persson

Les Misérables

Sunderland Empire

Tuesday 1– Saturday 19 November 2022.



Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce that musical theatre star Rachelle Ann Go will star as ‘Fantine’ in the acclaimed UK and Ireland Tour of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables from Tuesday 1 – Saturday 19 November 2022 at the Sunderland Empire.

Rachelle Ann Go reprises her role as Fantine, having starred in the West End production of Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, Sondheim Theatre and in the Asian Tour. She also starred as Eliza Hamilton in the original London company of Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre and won a What’s On Stage Award for her role as Gigi in Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End before reprising the role on Broadway and on film. Internationally she has played Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Jane Porter in Tarzan, both at the Meralco Theatre, Philippines and won the Philippines reality television series, Search For A Star.

Rachelle Ann Go joins Dean Chisnall as ‘Jean Valjean’, Nic Greenshields as ‘Javert’ Ian Hughes as ‘Thénardier’, Will Callan as ‘Marius’, Nathania Ong as ‘Eponine’, Helen Walsh as ‘Madame Thénardier’, Samuel Wyn-Morris as ‘Enjolras’ and Paige Blankson as ‘Cosette’.

The cast is completed by George Arvidson, Aidan Banyard, Will Barratt, Adam Boardman, Rebecca Bolton, Emily Olive Boyd, Olivia Brereton, Harry Chandler, Rebecca Ferrin, Aimee Good, Steven Hall, Jenna Innes, Tessa Kadler, Damian Kneale, Caleb Lagayan, Abel Law, Joseph McDonnell, Zabrina Norry, Emily Owens, Jordan Simon Pollard, Jamie Pritchard, Dean Read, Rebecca Ridout and Rick Zwart.

Since Cameron Mackintosh first conceived this acclaimed new production of Les Misérables in 2009, to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary, it has taken the world by storm. It will relaunch its record-breaking tour of North America in October this year, a new tour of The Netherlands is set for early 2023 with further productions to be announced.

Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent iconic score of Les Misérables includes the classic songs, I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Stars, Bring Him Home, Do You Hear the People Sing?, One Day More, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Master Of The House and many more. Several of its songs have become real life anthems of revolution wherever in the world people are fighting for their freedom. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular and contemporary musicals.

Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Misérables is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Orchestrations are by Stephen Metcalfe, Christopher Jahnke and Stephen Brooker with original orchestrations by John Cameron. The production is directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, projections realised by Finn Ross and Fifty Nine Productions, musical staging by Geoffrey Garratt, and music supervision by Stephen Brooker and Graham Hurman.


Les Misérables will run at Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 1 November - Saturday 19 November 2022.

ATG Theatre Card tickets on-sale at 10am and Groups at 12pm on Monday 21 February. Public sale is Tuesday 22 February at 10am. Tickets are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 7615* or online at *


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

Preview: Gary Barlow - A Different Stage


Gary Barlow - A Different Stage

New Shows Announced

Gary’s Acclaimed One Man Show Heading To

York And Newcastle

Tickets on sale Friday 29 April at 9:30am


A Different Stage performance dates:

York Grand Opera House - 10th & 11th June – Tickets:

Newcastle Tyne Theatre - 11th & 12th October – Tickets:

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, composer and producer, Gary Barlow today announces a host of new dates for A Different Stage, his theatrical one man stage show telling his story, in his words. A Different Stage premiered at The Brindley, the award-winning theatre in Runcorn, Cheshire, in February to a rapturous reception from his delighted fans. He has since played to sell-out audiences in Salford, Liverpool and Edinburgh and has announced his West End debut at the London’s Duke of York’s Theatre in August. Today Gary confirmed a brand new run of shows which will see him perform a further 24 dates in 7 cities around the UK. 

Created by Gary and his long-time friend and collaborator Tim Firth, A Different Stage sees Gary narrate the journey of his life alongside the music from his incredible discography. In a project unlike anything he’s ever done before, Gary will take the audience behind the curtain, with nothing off limits in this special performance.

Gary said: “Now I've done shows where it has just been me and a keyboard. I've done shows where I sit and talk to people. I've done shows where I've performed as part of a group. But this one, well, it’s like all of those, but none of them. When I walk out this time, it's going to be a very different stage altogether.”

Gary Barlow is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters and record producers. As part of the group Take That, he has won eight BRIT Awards and sold over 45 million records. Aside from his achievements with Take That, he has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams.

In more recent years, Gary has also turned his attention to the world of theatre, composing the score for the hugely successful production of ‘Finding Neverland’; working alongside Tim Firth on  ‘Calendar Girls The Musical’; and collaborating with Tim and his Take That bandmates on ‘The Band’, a record-breaking stage musical currently being adapted into a feature film.




Tickets on sale Friday 29 April at 9:30am

York Grand Opera House - 10th & 11th June – Tickets:

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House - 11th & 12th October – Tickets:


REVIEW: The Cher Show at Sunderland Empire


“All of us invent ourselves. Some of us just have more imagination than others.”  CHER

The Cher Show

Sunderland Empire

Tuesday 26 - Saturday 30 April 2022


A new musical, a jukebox biographical about, singer, actress and entertainer Cher lands in Sunderland this week and is already proving to be popular with the North East crowds.

This show features three actors to play Cher: Babe (Millie O'Connell) covering the 60s era; Lady (Danielle Steers) covering the 70s and Star (Debbie Kurup) from the 80s. This also fits in nicely with the three phases of her career: early music followed by television and then Broadway leading in to film work. Having 3 performers covering the titular character means that there is always one living in the contemporary timeframe whilst 2 are available to narrate, discuss the internal monologue occurring in Cher's head and act like the ghosts in Christmas Carol. It makes this show stand out from other biomusicals and it works as an idea.

The story then starts with Cher's unhappy time at school ahead of meeting up with Sonny Bono (Lucas Rush). Once Sonny starts calling the shots Cher gets work with producer Phil Spector (Sam Ferriday) before the couple became a hit turn in their own right. Fairly quickly a tone is established: Cher is one of the good, clean living people whilst most men in her life have issues. So whilst there are warts - they tend to be on the people she meets. However fans of Cher may want a positive interpretation of events and so it works.

The show is filled with music that you'd associate with Cher (Believe, If I Could Turn Back Time, I Got You Babe, Strong Enough, etc.) and the vocal performances, and live band under musical director Danny Belton, are really strong. I would even go as far as to say that every effort is made in the final megamix the recreate the sound of each famous record rather than a live version of it.

Ben Cracknell has clearly had fun designing the lighting for this show as moves from dramatisation to full live show. Along with the fabulous clothing designs from Gabriella Slade, you do get the feel of a big West End show landing in this corner of the North East.

The Sunderland Empire is on of the bigger stages up here and yet the choreography from Oti Mabuse manages to fill the space. In fact I go as far as to suggest that perhaps there are, on occasion, too many dancers on stage.  The ensemble work hard as they move from being dancers to television staff to make up support in a flash.

Director Arlene Phillips keeps a keen pace on the action for much of the show up to the last quarter of Act 2 when things seem to slow down. The Rick Elice script is littered with plenty of lighter, humorous moments and the occasional break in the fourth wall. The audience were happy clapping along to the songs when invited to do so.

So, in short, it is a real treat for fans of Cher - and given how full it was last night, Sunderland loves Cher ❤️

Review: Stephen Oliver

On The Web:


Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: @TheCherShowUK



Tickets are now available online from our affiliates ATG Tickets:


REVIEW: Dreamboats And Petticoats: Bringing On Back The Good Times at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Dreamboats And Petticoats: Bringing On Back The Good Times

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 30 April 2022

The 60s feel-good musical rolls back into town with its live band performing a range of hits from the era - along with many jokes from back then too. Knowing its key audience well it serves up a pretty celebration of a bygone time with a sprinkling of fromage fraise.

Jukebox musicals are successful. Identify  a common theme such as a single artist (e..g. Queen or Abba) or an era or music style (e.g. Rock of Ages) - obtain the rights to plenty of recognisable hits and then try to construct a book that links them together. If you hit the sweet spot then you have an audience already ready to buy tickets. First we had Dreamboats and Petticoats REVIEW then Dreamboats and Miniskirts REVIEW before the creative team took a slight diversion with Save the Last Dance For Me REVIEW and now they're back with the third installment / fourth show.

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran - who wrote the likes of Shine On Harvey Moon, Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart - continue the story of love and show biz. Bill Kenwright, once again produces and directs. Plus a number of the cast are back including, crucially Elizabeth Carter and David Ribi as Laura and Bobby - the couple that had a hit in the first musical.

So if you have seen the previous Dreamboats then you know what to expect - Laura has continued her successful career, under manager Larry (performed by Blue's Antony Costa) and she is off to do a summer season in Torquay with Frankie Howerd. Bobby is struggling with his band the Conquest due to power battles with Norman (Alastair Hill). Fortunately Laura persuades her manager to offer a season at Butlin's in Bognor Regis which sees the lads get into further fun.

If you haven't seen the previous Dreamboats then don't panic as the script will periodically fill you in on any gaps in the previous plots (eg what happened when the couple performed for the Queen Mum).

To be honest the script is always going to play second fiddle to the songs anyway. A brilliant choice has been made to stick the live band, under musical director Sheridan Lloyd, on the stage in a prominent position. This means you get to see the cracking performance from drummer Daniel Kofi Wealthyland as he ties the musical styles together with his drumming technique. 

At the front, some cast sing, some dance and a number play instruments including Chloe Edwards-Wood and Lauren Chinery as Redcoats (and other characters) who go around with handy saxophones.

Anthony Costa, from boy band Blue, gets a handful of numbers to please his fans in the second act but most of the vocal duties are handled by Hill, Carter & Ribi, plus Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley), Donna (Samara Clarke) and Ray (David Luke). The singing is a highlight and occasionally the action breaks the fourth wall in order to invite the audience to join in - not that some of the audience near me needed any invitation as they joined in anyway. Having the live band on stage helps both visually and musically.

There is humour from the very start, as a contemporary scene reveals the ignorance about 60s technology with the youth of today. I did like the scene in which David Benson compered as Kenneth Williams. As an acid test of whether or not this show is for you: if you are asking "who was Kenneth Williams? - then chances are this show isn't for you.

The show is pretty with the set decorated with posters from the era and vibrantly coloured outfits  - the songs were performed well by all concerned and the audience left very happy. So if hearing songs such as Lipstick On Your Collar, Sealed With A Kiss, Where The Boys Are and Keep On Running, amongst over 30 others from this period, sounds like your cup of tea then you're in luck and the Theatre Royal is the place to be this week. 

...and if you are still wondering who Kenneth Williams is, then search him on YouTube.

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Jack Merriman


Dreamboats and Petticoats plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Mon 25 – Sat 30 Apr 2022. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


Preview: The Homecoming at Newcastle Theatre Royal



The Homecoming
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 May 2022

Mathew Horne, star of BBC’s Gavin & Stacey and Keith Allen take centre stage in Harold Pinter’s 1960s masterpiece The Homecoming – widely regarded as his finest play - coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal in May 2022.
This bleakly funny exploration of family and relationships has become a modern classic and winner of the Tony Award for Best New Play.
Mathew Horne (Death in Paradise, Bad Education)will play the role of Lenny, Teddy’s enigmatic brother. Versatile actor, comedian and musician Keith Allen (The Young Ones, The Pembrokeshire Murders, Pinter 3 in the West End) plays the brutal patriarch, Max.

Teddy is played by Sam Alexander whose recent TV appearances include Rhys in Emmerdale and on stage The Watsons, (Chichester Festival Theatre), Lady in the Van and Racing Demon (both Theatre Royal Bath). Four-time Olivier Award nominee Ian Bartholomew (Into The Woods, Radio Times, Mrs Henderson Presents, Half a Sixpence, Coronation Street) plays Sam.

RSC regular Geoffrey Lumb, recently seen in the West End in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light, plays Joey. Shanaya Rafaat (Around the World in 80 Days at the St James Theatre, Great Expectations at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and BBC’s Doctor Who) plays Ruth.

Teddy, a professor in an American university, returns to his childhood home accompanied by his wife, Ruth, to find his father, uncle and brothers still living there. In the subsequent series of encounters, life becomes a barely camouflaged battle for power and sexual supremacy fought out with taut verbal brutality. Who will emerge victorious – the poised and elegant Ruth or her husband’s dysfunctional family?


The Homecoming plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 May 2022. Tickets are priced from £15.00 and can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


REVIEW: Bedknobs and Broomsticks at Sunderland Empire

 Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Sunderland Empire

Until Sunday 24 April 2022

#ad Tickets:*

A new family musical based upon a classic Disney movie lands in Sunderland this week. A nice way to spend an evening during the kid's Easter holidays, the show features much of the magic of panto without the slapstick and silliness.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks was released by Disney in 1971. Similar to Mary Poppins in that it featured a London family and special effects that incorporated animation in live action sequences. The music was written by Disney's regular collaborators Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman who had created those big memorable hits songs for Mary Poppins, Jungle Book and Winnie The Pooh. Their songs also feature in this new musical and are a major component of the show.

Disney had a policy in the 70s and 80s of not releasing much of their film output to television or later video. As a result they would send out the classic to the cinemas each school holiday. This means that the first time I saw Snow White it was on the big screen even though is was released when my parents were born. By holding control, Disney limited what you got to see - no Disney + in those days.

As a result I never got to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I don't recall it getting much attention - in direct contrast to Poppins - except on the DIsney highlight TV programmes that would such feature a single song out of context. Those highlights make me feel that I had seen it - Angela Lansbury et al underwater singing with fish for example. But they didn't make it clear what the story was about. But that's enough about the film...we are here to discuss the musical.

First things first - you are warned that you must be on time as "late comers will not be admitted into the auditorium until 12 minutes after the show start time." In other words "something spectacular is going to happen right at the start and we don't want late comers spoiling it as they try to find their seats." This then presents a problem for me as a reviewer as I don't do spoilers and I tend to just give you the plot for the first 20 minutes of the show. So here goes...

Bedknobs and Broomsticks starts in London during the Blitz of World War 2. The action begins as the Rawlins family go to bed and clearly it is a loving family. As with many children at that time, they find themselves evacuated to the coast and get to see the sea for the first time. The hope was that they were less likely to get bombed out there.

The eldest son Charlie (Conor O'Hara), and younger siblings Paul and Carrie, find themselves at a collection point awaiting the arrival of whoever will look after them for the duration of the war. The only adult present runs a farm and is looking for child labour but as luck would have it, their allocated adult Miss Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington) arrives on her motorbike and sidecar to collect them.

The youngest actors are pooled between the different performances and on press night we were entertained by Sapphire Hagon as Carrie and Haydn Court as Paul. Along with O'Hara as Charlie, they came across as a family unit and they gave a performance that was much more mature than their age would suggest.

The shows action up to this point has been a wonderful celebration of what can be achieved in a theatre. Much of the start involves no dialogue - rather it is physical theatre relying on the movement of the cast and the props coupled with Gareth Fry's sound design and Simon Wilkinson's perfect lighting arrangements. Jamie Harrison, who co-directs with Candice Edmunds, has been very creative with both the set design and illusions in order to make that opening sequence flow so well. The success of the start is very much down to a busy ensemble and crew that have been well drilled by the movement director Neil Bettles. In short - you don't want to miss the start.

Back to the story... the kids are unhappy as there is something strange about their billeting and they plan to escape back to London. However they quickly discover that there is more to Miss Price than first meets the eye as she has been learning witchcraft through a correspondence school run by Emelius Browne (Charles Brunton). The children witness Miss Price trying out her new broomstick - which is an opportunity for more special effects. Miss Price explains that she is awaiting a new spell that should help finish the war and so the kids decide to stay. 

Disaster than strikes as postmaster Mrs Hobday (Jacqui Du Bois) delivers a letter informing them that the correspondence school is permanently closing due to the war. They decide to head off to find the school and get that final spell. The adventure that follow take the audience on a magical tour.

As I mentioned before: for the film some sequences mixed up animated characters with the live action. On stage the animation is replaced by puppets that, in the case of the fish, fill the stage in a visually wonderful way.

A massive plus for this show is that the action is accompanied by a live orchestra under musical director Laura Bangay. It does make a difference to the sound of a show when it is live music rather than a pre-record.

The actors do a wonderful job entertaining the audience for each 67 minute act. The leads sing well and present characters that you want to succeed. But there is clearly an army of swings, ensemble and crew that have to fly on to the stage and make the magic happen on a regular basis. The collective effort is worth it as we have a family show that acts as a perfect bridge between many children's first experience of theatre (ie. panto) and the other amazing experiences that theatre can offer.

The one thing that is missing that is often a part of live family shows is the opportunity for the occasional laugh. Perhaps it didn't fit this style of production and would be inappropriate.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a musical that is better than the sum of the individual parts. It is entertaining and has a nice slice of the magic that comes from a live show. 

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Johan Persson


#ad Bedknobs and Broomsticks will play at Sunderland Empire from Tuesday 19 April 2022 running up until Sunday 24 April 2022. Tickets priced from just £13* are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 7615* or online at*