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Preview: 42nd Street at Newcastle Theatre Royal

 Star Cast Announced For 42nd Street


42nd Street

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 October 2023

The original showbiz musical 42nd Street is bringing a larger-than-life celebration of the irrepressible spirt of Broadway to Newcastle Theatre Royal, in October 2023, with familiar favourites from stage and screen leading the all-star cast.

Samantha Womack will star as Dorothy Brock, alongside Michael Praed as Julian Marsh, Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones, Les Dennis as Bert Barry and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer.

The cast will be completed by Sam Lips – who dazzled Newcastle Theatre Royal audiences last year in Singin’ In The Rain - as Billy Lawlor, with Erica-Jayne Alden, George Beet, Charlie Bishop, Kevin Brewis, Olly Christopher, Briana Craig, Jordan Crouch, Rhianna Dorris, Ashleigh Graham, Alyn Hawke, Aimee Hodnett, Connor Hughes, Deja Linton, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, Greta McKinnon, Ben Middleton, Benjamin Mundy, Anthony Ofoegbu and Jessica Wright.

Samantha Womack

Samantha Womack last appeared at Newcastle Theatre Royal in the acclaimed thriller The Girl on the Train. She most recently starred as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and her other credits include Morticia Addams in The Addams Family, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. On TV, she is known to millions for her roles as Ronni Mitchell in EastEnders and Mandy in Game On. 

Michael Praed  - © Mark Davis 2022

Michael Praed is best remembered for his role as Robin of Loxley in the British TV series Robin of Sherwood which achieved worldwide success in the 1980. His other television credits include the role of Frank Clayton in Emmerdale and Prince Michael in Dynasty. On stage, his credits include Tom Beauregard in Darker Shores, George in War of the Worlds, Alex in Aspects of Love, Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dexter Haven in High Society and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Faye Tozer

Faye Tozer is best known as a member of BRIT Award winning pop band Steps. Her theatrical credits include Singin’ In The Rain, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, In The Spotlight, Over The Rainbow, Me And My Girl, Love Shack and Tell Me On A Sunday. Faye was also a runner-up in BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2018. 

Les Dennis

Les Dennis most recently starred as Grandad Trotter in Only Fools and Horses The Musical. His other West End credits include Wilbur in Hairspray opposite Michael Ball, Amos Hart in Chicago and Bill in Me and My Girl. His touring theatre credits include Art, Legally Blonde, High School Musical 2 and Uncle Fester in the musical comedy The Addams Family. His many TV credits include Michael Rodwell in Coronation Street and a fictional version of himself in Extras. 

Nicole-Lily Baisden

Nicole-Lily Baisden’s theatre credits include the role of Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes.

Sam Lips

Sam Lips’ theatre credits include the role of Don Lockwood in Singin’ In The Rain and Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom. His Broadway credits Cats, Chicago, Pippin, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and The Cher Show.Fresh off the bus from small-town America, young and beautiful Peggy Sawyer arrives in New York City dreaming of her name in lights. She quickly catches the eye of a big-time director and lands a spot in the chorus line of Broadway’s newest show…and when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy gets her shot at stardom.

This iconic song-and-dance spectacular features a hit parade of toe-tapping songs, including the title number, We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off To Buffalo and I Only Have Eyes For You. 42nd Street is a timeless and inspiring showbiz fairy tale that combines breath-taking tap dance routines, backstage intrigue, classic romance and delightful comedy to dazzling effect.


42nd Street plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 October 2023. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


Preview: Mrs. Brown Rides Again at Sunderland Empire


She’s Back! Brendan O’Carroll and Mrs. Brown’s Boys announce Mrs. Brown Rides Again

The classic play is back on stage for the first time in 10 years - Featuring the cast from the TV show

Mrs. Brown Rides Again

Sunderland Empire

Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 October 2023

Tickets are now on sale from*

The multi-award-winning Brendan O’Carroll and Mrs. Brown’s Boys have announced their much-loved classic play ‘Mrs. Brown Rides Again’ will return to the UK stage for the first time in 10 years, visiting Sunderland Empire during October 2023.

Written by and starring Brendan O’Carroll as the beloved “Mammy”, the classic ‘Mrs. Brown Rides Again’ follows Agnes Brown and her dysfunctional family romp their way through what seems to be the Mammy’s last days at home. After hearing a plot, by her children, to have her put into a home, Agnes decides to prove them wrong by displaying a new lease of life. However, this is not going to be as easy as it seems as along the way she must deal with a psychiatrist trying to put her in her place, her neighbours wait for a heart bypass, and worst of all, a family secret that everyone seems to know except her.

The new live tour follows the news that Mrs. Brown’s Boys is set to return to BBC One & BBC iPlayer for a new mini-series. A regular feature of Christmas schedules for over a decade, this marks the first mini-series run since 2013 with four new episodes set to delight fans which will transmit later this year.  All 43 previous episodes of MRS. BROWN’S BOYS are available to enjoy on BBC iPlayer whilst viewers await the new episodes.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys success has been nothing short of incredible. Voted the No. 1 Sitcom of the 21st Century, awards include 5 BAFTAs, 4 National Television Awards, 3 TV Choice Awards, 4 IFTA awards, 3 TV Times Awards as well as RTS, TRIC and National Comedy Awards. BBC ONE series All Round to Mrs. Brown’s continues to achieve record breaking viewing figures and Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Day and New Year’s Day TV specials also returned for the festive period dominating ratings once again. Live, Mrs. Brown’s Boys has broken box office records across the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

On the new tour Brendan O’Carroll said: “The Pandemic is gone, and Mrs. Brown is back. It doesn’t get any better.”  The hilarious ‘Mrs. Brown Rides Again’ will be coming to Sunderland Empire later this year and is not to be missed. 


Mrs. Brown Rides Again will hit Sunderland Empire’s stage from Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 October 2023. Tickets are now on sale from*

*A £3.65 transaction fee applies to online bookings.

Preview: An Evening with Fran Lebowitz at Newcastle Tyne Theatre




An Evening with Fran Lebowitz comes to Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Monday 17th April 2023



Tyne Theatre & Opera House are delighted to announce that Fran Lebowitz, one of America’s most insightful social commentators, will be joining audiences in Newcastle for ‘An Evening with’ on Monday 17th April 2023.

In a cultural landscape filled with endless pundits and talking heads, Fran Lebowitz stands out as one of our most insightful social commentators. 

An American original and purveyor of urban cool, the cultural satirist and author is pointed, forthright, unapologetically opinionated, and known for her hilariously dry social commentary on American life.  Her essays and interviews offer her acerbic views on current events and the media – as well as pet peeves including tourists, baggage-claim areas, after-shave lotion, adults who roller skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan. The New York Times Book Review calls Lebowitz an "important humorist in the classic tradition” and many call her the heir to Dorothy Parker.

Lebowitz’s recent Netflix documentary series directed by good friend Martin Scorsese, Pretend It’s A City, was an unmitigated hit with its offering of a tantalizing snapshot of New York in full bloom, along with Lebowitz’s lively and unapologetic commentary on what it means to live there.

Lebowitz will be live in conversation, sharing her invariably cutting take on anything and everything; from growing up in New Jersey and being expelled from her high school for being a bad influence on her peers, to moving to New York City in the 70’s, and writing a column for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. She’ll offers insights on such timely issues as gender, race, gay rights, and the media, as well as on her own pet peeves—including celebrity culture, tourists, and baby strollers.

Presented by Fane, these events promise to be a balm in a wildly shifting world, offering spot-on observations about contemporary living and as well as giving audiences the opportunity to ask Lebowitz their own controversial questions.

Photos: Brigitte Lacombe

Tickets are priced £41 - £26 and are available to book online at:


Preview: Julius Caesar at Newcastle Theatre Royal

 RSC Return to Newcastle Theatre Royal with Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 May 2023


The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is to return to Newcastle Theatre Royal with a visceral new production of Julius Caesar in May.

Directed by the award-winning Atri Banerjee, Julius Caesar will feature Thalissa Teixeira as Brutus and Kelly Gough as Cassius – both making their RSC debuts - in the roles of the leaders who plot to kill Caesar.

Talking about the production, Atri Banerjee said:  “I’m delighted that audiences will get to see Thalissa Teixeira and Kelly Gough as, respectively, Brutus and Cassius. Along with several other parts across the company, we’ve re-imagined these roles to tell a story about power today: who holds it, who wields it, and who gets to challenge it.

Julius Caesar is the perfect play for our age of emergency, asking uncomfortable questions about today. When asked to imagine a better future for us all, what resources do we have left? What are the limits of peaceful activism? How far would you, personally, go, to make the world a better place?

“By thinking of the roles in this play across intersectional lines - gender, race, class, disability, among others - we’re inviting audience members to think of their own place within the status quo and what might be at stake for each of us within it.

“Thalissa and Kelly are two formidable actors and I’m so excited for their take on this central character relationship, within the context of an extraordinary cast of 19 from across the nation. I can’t wait to show audiences that Shakespeare’s searing political tragedy, is as pertinent now as it ever was.”

 Concerned that Caesar seems dangerous, revolutionaries take the violent decision to murder him. They have no plan for what comes next. As the world spins out of control, chaos, horror and superstition rush in the fill the void. Civil war erupts and a new leader must rise: but at what cost?

Thalissa Teixeira will be making her RSC debut as Brutus and earned an Ian Charleson award nomination for her role in Electra at The Old Vic., Her theatre credits include Women Beware Women, Othello, The Broken Heart and The Changeling (Shakespeare’s Globe) whilst on television she has played Gemma in Trigonometry (BBC Two) and Madge Shelton in Anne Boleyn (Channel 5), as well as appearing in The Musketeers (BBC).

Also appearing with the RSC for the first time is Kelly Gough as Cassius.  Other theatre credits include The House of Shades (Almeida Theatre) and A Streetcar Named Desire (English Touring Theatre). On film Kelly has appeared in Tarrac, Out of Innocence, Kill Command, Jump and Belonging to Laura whilst on TV, credits include Grace, Marcella, Shadow and Bone, Call the Midwife, Broadchurch, Vera, Casualty, Law & Order and Raw

William Robinson makes his RSC debut as Mark Antony with Nigel Barrett (Julius Caesar), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Portia) and Jimena Larraguivel (Calpurnia) all making a welcome return to the RSC.

The full cast is: Jamal Ajala (Lucius), Mercedes Assad (Marullus/Artemidorus), Annabel Baldwin (Soothsayer), Nigel Barrett (Julius Caesar), Matt Ray Brown (Cicero), Matthew Bulgo (Casca), Ella Dacres (Octavius Caesar), Joshua Dunn (Cinna The Poet/Popilius/Carpenter), Katie Erich (Caius Ligarius/Cobbler), Niamh Finlay (Pindarus), Kelly Gough (Cassius), Gina Isaac (Decius Brutus), Robert Jackson (Flavius/Cinna The Conspirator), Tom Kanji (Metellus Cimber/Lepidus), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Portia), Jimena Larraguivel (Calpurnia), Pedro Leandro (Trebonius), William Robinson (Mark Antony) and Thalissa Teixeira (Brutus).

Shakespeare's political thriller exposes the ambiguity in trying to shift power. As we rage against the crises surrounding us, how far will we each go for our political principles?

Photo: Marc Brenner


Performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company are amongst the most eagerly anticipated in the Newcastle Theatre Royal calendar. Julius Caesar plays from Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 May 2023. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.


Preview: I, Daniel Blake at Newcastle Northern Stage

Cast and creative team announced for first stage adaptation of I, Daniel Blake

 I, Daniel Blake 

Newcastle Northern Stage 

25 May - 10 June  2023

The world premiere stage adaptation of I, Daniel Blake that exposes the stark reality behind the cost-of-living crisis headlines will open at Northern Stage before touring.

The first stage adaptation of Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or and BAFTA award-winning film will be written by actor and comedian Dave Johns who won the Best Actor award at the British Independent Film Awards and Best Newcomer at the EMPIRE Awards for his role in the film. Ken Loach said, “This story is more relevant now than ever. And who better to put it on stage than Dave Johns, the original Daniel Blake?”

David Nellist will play Daniel. Originally from Wallsend in Newcastle, he appeared as Mike Stamford in Sherlock on BBC ONE with Benedict Cumberbatch and was recently in Stonehouse opposite Matthew Macfadyen on ITV. His theatre credits include West End productions Billy Elliott, War Horse, The Pitmen Painters and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and closer to home A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Not Too Tame, Shakespeare North Playhouse, Northern Stage), and Close the Coalhouse Door (Northern Stage). Bryony Corrigan will play Katie. Inspired to become an actor after doing work experience at Northern Stage aged 15, Bryony is best known as series regular Vanessa in Mischief Theatre’s The Goes Wrong Show on BBC ONE. Her theatre credits include the recent stage adaptation of Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island (Watermill Theatre) and My Romantic History at Live Theatre, which she won Performing Artist of the Year for at the Journal Culture Awards. Kema Sikazwe (also known as Kema Kay) will play China, a role he played in the film after being spotted by Ken Loach on a visit to Newcastle. The actor, rapper and singer wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Shine at Live Theatre - a show about his experience of moving to Newcastle aged three which is about to be adapted for a TV musical drama. The rest of the cast are Janine Leigh who appeared alongside Joanne Froggatt in Channel 4 film In Our Name, Micky Cochrane (Billy Elliot the Musical, Curve), and former Northern Stage Young Company member Jodie Wild making her professional stage debut.

Mark Calvert, Natalie Ibu, Dave Johns
+ Martin Hylton at Northern Stage

Dave Johns is a multi-award-winning film actor, stage actor and stand-up comic who has written for theatre and radio, including the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption. He says, “I was thrilled to be asked to adapt Paul Laverty’s screenplay. But I didn’t just want to put the film on stage, I wanted to update the story for 2023, making it contemporary and exploring more of single mum Katie’s journey and the family unit she forms with Daniel. To show the kindness, compassion, humour, and hope that can help us through the toughest of times. Sadly, during my research it was disheartening to find not much had changed since the film's release. The story is still as relevant as it was in 2016; maybe even more so now with the cost-of-living crisis making it even harder for those who are already struggling. Daniel and Katie’s story could be anyone’s.”

With 14.5m people in the UK now living in poverty*, and more people than ever relying on food banks** Director Mark Calvert says, “It’s a big responsibility to honour the film but also to find ways to raise awareness of the hardship huge numbers of people in our country are facing right now. I’ve spent months volunteering at local food banks, and I can tell you that this is not fiction. It is reality. And the cost-of-living crisis affects even more people now than when the film was released in 2016. For me I, Daniel Blake frames the working-class experience in modern Britain - there’s hope, humour and humanity in the story, but audiences should feel angry and outraged; I know I am.

“When we first started to think about how to adapt the film for the stage we knew that we needed to offer a fresh perspective on the ramifications of 13 years of government cuts. Inspired by activists Led By Donkeys, Cold War Steve and Cassette Boy, the production will feature factual interviews, speeches and social media posts showing the impact of government decisions on people’s lives. We hope reflecting the harsh reality will galvanise audiences and inspire activism.”

I, Daniel Blake will be designed by Rhys Jarman (Gecko), lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi (Is God Is/Royal Court Theatre and winner of the 2022 Light Recognition Award at the Black British Theatre Awards), original music by Ross Millard (The Futureheads, Putting the Band Back Together/Unfolding Theatre), sound design by Roma Yagnik (The Mare of Easttown/HBO), movement direction by Martin Hylton (Gateway Studio and Phoenix Dance) and AV design by Matthew Brown for PixelLux (Bonnie & Clyde/West End) incorporating creative captioning for all performances.

Composer Ross Millard says, “I vividly remember seeing the film at Tyneside Cinema when it came out – how profoundly moving it was, and how relevant it still feels now. The film has no music, no soundtrack, which means composing for the show has a weight of responsibility but is hugely appealing, too. Presenting the story to an audience in a new context has the potential to be extremely powerful.”

I, Daniel Blake is a Northern Stage, Birmingham Rep, Oldham Coliseum, English Touring Theatre, and tiny dragon Productions co-production, in association with Cardboard Citizens who make theatre for social change with and for homeless people who are working with Northern Stage on a programme of wraparound events.

After its Newcastle premiere at Northern Stage (25 May - 10 June), the production will tour to Birmingham Rep (13 - 25 June), HOME Manchester (27 June - 1 July) and Exeter Northcott Theatre (5-8 July). Confirmed venues for the autumn include Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Leeds Playhouse and the Belgrade Theatre Coventry and a full autumn 2023 tour will be announced soon.


For more information or to book tickets visit 


REVIEW: Titanic The Musical at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Titanic The Musical 
Newcastle Theatre Royal 
Until Saturday 1 April 2023.
The Titanic crashes into Newcastle this week with a musical version of the events of 1912. This is a rare review as I imagine nearly everyone knows how the story ends. Spoilers, which we try to avoid, are not the issue. The question is more about whether the show is up to muster.
It is a well known story - a number of films have been made about it. Indeed I read a substantial book about the events leading up to, during and after the 15th April. This musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone, was created after the inspirational discovery of the boat on the floor of the ocean in the 80s. It came out in the same year (1997) as the last big movie release. Beyond the historic scenario - the musical has nothing to do with the movie. 
The musical is light on the background before the titanic set sail. A number of details (coal strike, financial difficulties of the operator etc) are not given. It is simply the biggest moving object, at the time, in the world and a marvel of the times, as it sets off on its maiden voyage - heading to America.

The boat is a civilisation in it's own right but it is split up along the class system of the time. At the top are the first class passengers who can stroll down the top deck and admire the lifeboats. At the bottom are the steerage third class passengers who are trying to emigrate and make a fresh start in the US. The second class are the ambitious ones who are close to the top but never push through the glass ceiling.
Their is the hierarchy amongst the staff too. Captain Smith (Graham Bickley) and the the officers, the stewards above the maids and the bellboys. Beneath them all, like of Fritz Lang's Metropolis are the men in the engine room - firemen and trimmers who are expected to follow the orders for more speed.
Also along the maiden ride is the ship's owner J Bruce Ismay (Martin Allanson) - who is never given an easy ride in Titanic stories, and the ships designer Thomas Andrews (Ian McLarnon), who always gets a massive dose of hindsight as the story hits the final stages. In fairness the captain, owner and designer do harmonise well when the are singing.

Musically Yeston is aiming at the popular music of the time, the likes of Vaughan Williams for example. The result is a traditional musical which is closer to an operetta - a style that was still popular at that time. A lot of the exposition is sung through. So lyrics include the direction of the boat and the frequency of its engine rotations. Couple this with a tendency to repeat the final line of a verse results in a musical that will appeal really strongly to some and be utter marmite to others. There is a lot for the band, under musical director Ben Papworth, to deal with - though they are tucked away in the theatre - out of sight.
There are a number of great performances Barnaby Hughes as the Steward Etches, and Valda Aviks & David Delve as the "couple everyone watching remembers" Ida and Isidor Straus.

Perhaps the bizarre part of the show - bordering on comical - is the effort the cast goes to show people being thrown into lifeboats when there is no clear indication - at first - about what is happening.

I am glad I finally got to see this Tony Award winning musical - it has been on my list for some time. A lot in the audience clearly loved it and they were on their feet at the end. Indeed, as I said previously - the performances were very good. That all said, I'll probably give a return visit a miss.

Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Pamela Raith Photography


Titanic The Musical plays Monday 27 March – Saturday 1 April 2023. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.



REVIEW: BURNOUT at North Shields Laurels Theatre

‘Your bamboo toothbrush won’t save us, you don’t recycle it anyways!’

ShyBairn Theatre presents


North Shields Laurels Theatre

Until 25 March 2023

Written by Nicole Acquah

Directed by Caitlin Evans

Performed by Lekhani Chirwa and Chloe Wade

Our first visit to the Whitley Bay theatre was to see a tale about environmental activism in a Cumbrian town that is subject to regular flooding. The show is heading on tour, including June dates at Newcastle's Live Theatre.

Teenager Amara (Lekhani Chirwa) has been sent out on an errand for some milk when she stumbles over an environmental protest which is led by confident Bridgette (Chloe Wade) -  "one of them, ‘hippy, green, save-the-planet’ things." Bridgette became aware that Amara is watching her and she decides to invite her across to a local meeting.

In this two handed production the two actors finding themselves covering other characters - including Bridgette's old and new bosses at the pub that she works at. The pub is also the venue for her climate group meetings. The new boss is happy for the group to continue meetings when they take over the pub but there is a clear expectation that the attendees buy drinks. They also want to attend with some of their friends as they have been involved in protests in the past. Bridgette was taken back with they first meet the boss about how smooth the hands were on the new boss. In other words - these were hands belonging to someone who had not done a hard days graft in their life. In other words - someone who has only experienced privilege to match their plummy accent. It is not long before the toffs assume the lead. The play then explores how things frustratingly change as the focus moves from the effects of the floods to token gestures such as bamboo toothbrushes.

At this point I note that I am a Doc wearing, plant eating user of a bamboo toothbrush! It didn't help that the actor was looking straight at me as I they were delivering these lines!

The performance is energetic, Chloe Wade is really bouncing as the activist. It was also pleasing to hear naturally northern accents on this northern story. Lekhani Chirwa succeeded in assuming other roles as the show demanded.

The content of the show is thought provoking. Have certain organisations been taken over by those who assume control? Do we tend to doff our caps too quickly to those with more rounded accents? Why are we in the mess that we are in? Does recycling my bottles actually solve the problem?  

There are opportunities for some fun participation, if you want to, but no one was put in a position that they did not want to be in.

This is a great fringe show and, with its one hour running time, I could imagine it doing well in the festivals. It was worth the trip to the seaside to watch it.

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Tom Johnson


Laurels Theatre,

212 Whitley Rd, Whitley Bay NE26 2TA

Saturday 25 March | 6pm

Theatre by The Lake

Lakeside, Lake Rd, Keswick CA12 5DJ

Tuesday 30 May | 7.30pm (Relaxed Performance), then Post Show Q&A (TBC)

Wednesday 31 May | 7.30pm

Live Theatre

27-29 Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ

Friday 2 June & Saturday 3 June

South Street Arts Centre,

21 South St, Reading RG1 4QU

Wednesday 7 June | 7.30pm, then Post Show Q&A