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Preview: 101 Dalmatians the Musical at Newcastle Theatre Royal

 Kim Marsh To Play Cruella De Vil At Newcastle Theatre Royal

101 Dalmatians the Musical

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Tuesday 27 August – Sunday 1 September 2024


Actor, singer and presenter Kym Marsh will play the iconic villain Cruella de Vil in a new musical version of Dodie Smith’s classic book 101 Dalmatians; which will be visiting Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Kym Marsh
Photo:  Matthew Pover

Written by Douglas Hodge (music and lyrics) and Johnny McKnight (book), with a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris, this classic canine caper is brought to life on stage with spectacular puppetry, show-stopping choreography, hilarious songs and irresistible puppies!

Kym Marsh is no stranger to the Newcastle Theatre Royal stage having wowed audiences with her portrayal of bunny boiler Alex Forest in the nationwide tour of the thriller Fatal Attraction in 2022 before returning, alongside her daughter Emily, in the summer of 2023 to lead the cast in the smash-hit Take Take musical Greatest Days.

Kym Marsh arrived on British TV screens back in 2000 appearing on the hit reality TV show Popstars and winning a place in the band Hear'Say. The band achieved two UK number one singles and a number one album - and Kym went on to pursue a successful career as a solo artist.

She went on to star in London’s West End, playing the role of Annette in the critically acclaimed musical Saturday Night Fever and appeared in BBC One’s Doctors as well as Channel 4’s Hollyoaks: In The City before joining the cast of ITV’s Coronation Street in the role of Michelle Connor in 2006. During 14 years on Britain's famous cobbles, she won a string of prestigious awards for her work.

Since then, she has appeared in hit BBC One drama The Syndicate and currently can be seen on BBC One’s continuing drama Waterloo Road, where she plays the role of Nicky Walters.

Kym Marsh
Photo:  Nick James

Kym Marsh said: “I’m over the moon to be joining the cast of 101 Dalmatians playing the iconic Cruella De Vil! Being able to bring to life my take on this renowned character is a real treat. Douglas and Johnny have written this brilliant new musical filled with songs I’m already finding myself humming under my breath. The 101 Dalmatians story spans generations and I'm sure young and old alike will absolutely love this production."

When fashionista Cruella de Vil plots to swipe all the Dalmatian puppies in town to create her fabulous new fur coat, there’s trouble ahead for Pongo and Perdi and their litter of adorable, tail-wagging young pups.

101 Dalmatians the Musical is directed by Bill Buckhurst, with sets designed by David Woodhead, costumes designed by Sarah Mercadé and choreography by Lucy Hind. Musical supervision is from Alfonso Casado Trigo, orchestration by Jack Hopkins, the puppets are designed by Jimmy Grimes, with lighting by James Whiteside and sound design from Chris Whybrow. The musical director is Leigh Thompson, and casting director is Lucy Casson.



101 Dalmatians the Musical plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Tuesday 27 August – Sunday 1 September 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.




Preview: Coppelia at Darlington Hippodrome

 KVN Dance Company Presents:


Darlington Hippodrome

Sunday 23 June 2024

Following sold-out performances in 2021, KVN Dance Company makes a welcome return with Kevan Allen’s magical reimagined version of the classical ballet Coppelia at Darlington Hippodrome on Sunday 23 June as part of a 16 date UK tour.

Coppelia looks to honour the classical ballet while expanding on the story to make it relevant to audiences today. This retelling explores the eccentric toy maker, Dr Coppelius’ intent behind creating a life-size clockwork doll, Coppelia, and the impact this has on his relationship with the community of villagers and on Swanhilda’s relationship with her fiancé, Franz.

Fusing classical ballet with contemporary dance and hip-hop, Coppelia features a cast of 12 dancers who perform to the classical Delibes score imaginatively remixed by Rickard Berg and nominated for the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Creative Contribution. Berg has previously collaborated with artists including Mick Jagger, Mica Paris and Gavin Rossdale.

Coppelia also sees costumes and styling by Wendy Olver, whose credits include Sir Elton John, Mulberry, and Harvey Nichols, with sets by West End designer Justin Williams and lighting by Olivier Award-winner Mike Robertson.

KVN Dance Company was founded in 2017 by renowned director and choreographer Kevan Allen, who has created work on stages around the world for a range of creatives including Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Trevor Nunn and Kylie Minogue.

The Company aims to bring a diverse mix of choreographic styles and dance forms together to create original and inspiring works that cross all genres of dance and introduce Kevan’s eclectic and innovative style to new audiences.

Artistic Director and Choreographer, Kevan Allen said: “I couldn’t be happier to see Coppelia return to the stage next spring, following the wonderful success of the shows premiere in 2021. I adore the movement and physicality of the body and want to develop dance experiences so people can witness the vitality and power of the performers up close. I am extremely excited to introduce our version of Coppelia to audiences up and down the country and for them to experience the joy of dance.”



Box office: 01325 405405 10am – 6pm

Opening times: 10am – 8pm counter

Preview: The Boy at the Back of the Class at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Award-Winning Childrens Book Adapted For The Stage

The Boy at the Back of the Class
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Tuesday 30 April – Saturday 4 May 2024
There used to be an empty chair at the back of the class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He’s nine years old but he never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are everyone’s favourite!

After learning that he has fled his own war-torn country, Ahmet’s classmates have ‘The Greatest Idea in the World’ – a magnificent plan to reunite him with his family. An unexpected and often hilarious adventure follows, all topped off with a terrific twist which will be brought to life on the Newcastle Theatre Royal stage.

Onjali Q. Raúf is an award-winning and best-selling children’s author and activist who was awarded an MBE in 2022 for her services to women’s rights and children’s literature. Her debut book, The Boy at the Back of the Class, was met with critical acclaim and received multiple awards, including the 2019 Blue Peter Book Award, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and has now been adapted by Nick Ahad into a stage play which is touring the UK in 2024.

The story is centred around Ahmet, a young refugee from Syria – ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ and follows the story of his classmates who through their sensitivity, curiosity and innocent niceness, make a huge impact on Ahmet’s life. The tale teaches children what it is to be a good person, whatever their own circumstances.

Told from a child’s perspective, balancing heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class highlights the power of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense and reminds us that everyone needs a place to call home.

The story focuses on the plan of a group of nine-year-old children whose logic extends to ‘why wouldn’t I help this refugee boy - he’s the same as me’. This simplistic, innocent optimism on display and the plan created by these school children that is audacious in its naivety is, to Nick Ahad, a theatre critic of 20 years and creator of the stage adaptation of The Boy at the Back of the Class, what audiences find so moving.

 “It’s at that moment in the performance that I always start crying.” he adds.

“When you hear politicians talk about the ‘refugee crisis’ and use language that is a constant attempt to strip refugees and asylum seekers of their humanity, it’s easy to believe that’s what everybody believes. They’re wrong. The children cheering The Boy at the Back of the Class are proving they are wrong.” Nick smiles, “The story is absolutely full of naive, innocent hope and because that is embodied in a group of nine-year-old children, I think it makes me realise that the generation coming up behind us give us reason to be hopeful.”

The Boy at the Back of the Class has proved popular with readers aged 7+ in primary and secondary schools across the country, along with Raúf’s other titles which include The Star Outside My Window, The Night Bus Hero, and brand-new book published in April 2024, The Letter with the Golden Stamp – which touches on the challenges navigated by children caring for loved ones at home.

Photo: Manuel Harlan


The Boy at the Back of the Class plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Tuesday 30 April – Saturday 4 May 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

Nationwide UK Code: 35% off when you spend £40 online: Code: YBYTJYEX 
Offer ends 30/4/2024 at 11:59 PM 

Preview: Grease at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Nostalgia, Romance, Friendship And Fun In Fan-Favourite Musical


Newcastle Theatre Royal

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 June 2024

Get ready for some summer lovin’ when the iconic musical Grease will hand-jives its way into Newcastle for one week only.

After a whirlwind summer romance, leather-clad greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High for senior year. But can they survive the trials and tribulations of teenage life and find true love once more?

Adam Davidson (centre) & cast in Grease UK & Ireland Tour
The 1978 film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is the fourth highest-grossing live action musical of all time and the musical features beloved songs, including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You’re The One That I Want.
Deena Kapadia & Marley Fenton 

Grease originally opened in Chicago in 1971, followed by a move to Broadway in 1972, where it received seven Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. During the show's eight-year run, once little-known actors including Peter Gallagher, Patrick Swayze and John Travolta all appeared in the production, with Richard Gere understudying many roles before going on to star as Danny Zuko in the 1973 London premiere.

Hope Dawe (centre) & cast

Nominated for WhatsOnStage awards for Best Musical Revival and Best Choreography, Grease has been seen by over 500,000 people in the West End. This production of Grease is produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Playing Field, Gavin Kalin, and Curve. It is directed by Nikolai Foster and choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

Hope Dawe

Grease has designs by Colin Richmond, orchestrations and musical supervision by Sarah Travis, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Tom Marshall and Richard Brooker, video and projection design by Douglas O’Connell and casting by David Grindrod CDG.

Marley Fenton & Hope Dawe

This thrilling new version is brought to life by a fresh young cast who bring energy, vitality and passion to this ultimate musical classic featuring romance and friendship.

Photos: Marc Brenner


Grease plays Newcastle Theatre Royal (Monday 10 – Saturday 15 June 2024). Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.



New release: Dea Matrona - For Your Sins

Irish rock duo Dea Matrona’s highly anticipated debut album.

Dea Matrona have always been an exciting proposition. A duo that pushes boundaries of genres in an authentic yet nostalgic way, their debut album ‘For Your Sins’ bestows a pass at bridges together an intoxicating blend of indie pop and rock with superb sophistication, influences from Fleetwood Mac, HAIM, The White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys drench through.

Dea Matrona say about the album: “It’s a record about trying to find ourselves & failing over & over again until we realised that part of the fun of being in Dea Matrona is that we’ll never really know who we are or what we want to say”.
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Preview: Bing Live at Darlington Hippodrome

Brand New Bing Live Show Coming

To Darlington Hippodrome

Bing Live 

Darlington Hippodrome 

Friday 21 - Saturday 22 March 2025

London-based production company Fierylight today announce a new partnership to bring the Bing live theatre show, Bing’s Birthday to theatres across the UK throughout 2025, including Darlington Hippodrome.

It’s Bing’s birthday and everyone is very excited!

Join Bing and his friends Sula, Pando, Coco, Amma and of course Flop as they get ready to celebrate his special day in the brand-new live stage show, Bing’s Birthday! Things won’t always go to plan but, with the guidance of Flop and his friends, Bing has a birthday he will remember forever. Come along, dress up and have fun joining in with lots of songs and more as together we celebrate Bing’s birthday in the theatre! Delighting young children worldwide for over a decade, Bing authentically portrays the joyful and sometimes messy reality of pre-school life. Through its timeless and engaging stories seen through the eyes of a child, Bing provides the mental, emotional and social developmental tools to equip young children in getting ready for life. Available to watch on CBeebies, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Bing: Watch, Play Learn, Bing has over 7 billion streams on YouTube and recently surpassed over 1 billion streams on BBC iPlayer, making it one of the most popular series nationally, across all genres, on the platform. Bing’s Birthday is presented by Fierylight (Peppa Pig Live, The BFG, LazyTown, The Smartest Giant in Town and many more) in partnership with independent creative studio Acamar Films who produce the international award-winning animated series. “Fierylight are experts at bringing high quality, meaningful and entertaining productions to UK families and we are delighted to be working with them on Bing’s Birthday,” said Kirsty Southgate, Director of Experiential and Promotions, Acamar Films. “A child’s first trip to the theatre is a very special occasion and this show, with the beautiful puppetry and original music, is sure to provide an unforgettable experience for Bingsters and their grown-ups.” Martin Ronan, Executive Producer at Fierylight said, “Bing’s Birthday is full of the excitement, expectation and heightened emotions that you would expect to find at a young child’s birthday party. This opportunity for celebration and exploring feelings which can sometimes be difficult to describe, makes this show unlike anything else available to UK families and it is no surprise that the show has been cherished by so many across Europe. We cannot wait to share this production across the UK.” You can join Bing and his friends in the birthday fun as they come to life with beautiful puppetry, original music and songs, made especially for your little ones. Tickets: Bing Live comes to Darlington Hippodrome on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 March 2025. To book call the Box Office on 01325 405405 or visit


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REVIEW: Rambert: Death Trap at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Rambert: Death Trap

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Thursday 25 April 2024

A pair of dance pieces around the topic of death may not sound like a happy night at the theatre but both were black comedies that were accessible to both dance fans and those new to the format. Whilst they are both different, Cerberus and Goat bring together an interesting night at the Theatre Royal this week.

They said "A meta dance comedy, full of the turbulence of life and death. Darkly funny and packed with originality."

Normally with some dance shows you watch people frantically twisting and turning and wonder what on Earth is going on. It looks all very physical but is there a story there? Recently I have noticed a trend in which much more narrative is offered and the dance may be secondary to the story rather than the other way around. As someone who is in no way an expert in things "dance" I must admit preferring to knowing something behind the production without having to attend an after show talk!

So the show begins... The light are on and we think we are getting a regular message about mobile phones, but no - hang on - there is a joke in there. Then the lights drop - putting the whole venue in darkness - reducing our senses so all we hear is the voice. Cerberus is about life and death. They enter the stage on one side - birth - and die on the other side as they leave the stage. In between is a lifetime. We are asked to wait as the voice prepares for birth. She then appears tied to a rope - struggling across the stage. Romarna Campbell accompanies the movement on their drum kit. But this is a black comedy and, in an almost Play Goes Wrong Moment, a member of crew on the other end of the rope enters the stage.

What follows includes a wake and two really beautiful pieces of music with the dancing. I last heard the Hungarian folk song when Freddie Mercury sang it when his last tour with Queen visited that country. The other was a showcase for the beautifully pure voice of Caroline Jaya-Ratnam. It was lush.

Meanwhile various dancers dance across the stage as the original one had, sometimes attached to rope - others as free individuals. The cascading effect of the passing of people, along with the music is mesmerising.

But before too long (after just 30 minutes) it is over and the audience are given the chance to reflect at the interval.

There is a real chance in the second performance. The set has changed from the blackened floor surrounded by curtains to, what the Americans call, "Town Hall".

A video camera is pointed at first at the audience who react as they see themselves on a screen. This is more reminiscent of a baseball game - with one couple even deciding to kiss when they were in the spotlight. On stage stuff is being set up for a meeting.

I'm not always a fan when cameras are used but this one is different as a presenter appears to narrate the town hall proceedings on live television, thus given the camera a purpose. Quickly the presenter starts to get in the way of the action and this interference leads to a number of laughs for the audience. The camera also will give a different perspective without being intrusive.

So Goat, we are quickly told, is about a meeting taking place after something bad has happened. No longer is a goat sacrificed though - it will be a participant. This revelation seems to go over the presenters head as the group start to dance.

This section is inspired by the music of Nina Simone. We have a live band on stage which works well visually. Unfortunately the singer was ill on opening night - but in true "the show must go on" fashion, her voice was heard on a pre-recorded track.

No spoilers of course - but Goat was a piece that my companion and I chewing over silently as went went home - there's a fair bit to think about.

Ben Duke, who devised and directed the two stories has pulled together a show that is not afraid to talk. This gives greater meaning to the dancing as it has purpose. The ensemble is wonderfully tight and action flows in a thoughtful and entertaining way. 

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photo: Camilla Greenwell


Rambert: Death Trap plays Newcastle Theatre Royal Wednesday 24 & Thursday 25 April 2024. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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This Town Soundtrack Clear Vinyl + CD from our affiliates Townsend Music: LINK



Preview: Frankenstein at Newcastle Northern Stage

Exciting new production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein set to thrill audiences in Newcastle



Newcastle Northern Stage

Tuesday 30 April - Thursday 2 May 2024

“Remember, that I am thy creature; l ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel…”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse are set to bring a thrilling and moving new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s iconic Gothic tale, Frankenstein to Northern Stage from April 30-May 2.

A storm gathers outside. In an ordinary home, the lights flicker, a radio crackles, and an extraordinary tale begins. As a couple confront their own fears about impending parenthood, the story of Frankenstein erupts into life around them, as everyday objects are transformed into glaciers, a ship at sea, a dissecting room, a house on fire...

The latest adaptation in a series of Gothic texts, including the award-winning Dracula: The Untold Story (2021), imitating the dog’s and Leeds Playhouse’s multimedia exploration of Mary Shelley’s classic novel is a psychological thriller which dares to ask the question – what is it to be human?

Andrew Quick, Co-Director and Artistic Director of imitating the dog said:

“Mary Shelley’s novel has shaped storytelling since the 19th Century and provided source material for films, novels, poems, and art. Having already adapted Heart of Darkness (2018) and Dracula (2021), we feel ready to take on this complex and moving tale, one which explores the consequences of refusing love, of playing at being God, of not taking responsibility. 

It will have all the hallmarks of an imitating the dog production, but we are renewing our interest in the physical and the visual that played out in our earlier work.  Our focus is to create something truly magical, that is both moving and disturbing. It will be Frankenstein, but perhaps not as you know it.”

imitating the dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for 25 years. Their work, which fuses live performance with digital technology, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in venues, outdoor festivals, and events across the world. Past productions have included Hotel Methuselah, A Farewell to Arms, Heart of Darkness, Night of The Living Dead™ – Remix, Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show, Dracula: The Untold Story and most recently Macbeth. In 2022 imitating the dog presented Cinema Inferno, a groundbreaking new show for Paris haute couture house Maison Margiela, based on an original concept by John Galliano.

Leeds Playhouse is one of the UK’s leading producing theatres; a cultural hub, a place where people gather to tell and share stories and to engage in world class theatre. It makes work which is pioneering and relevant, seeking out the best companies and artists to create inspirational theatre in the heart of Yorkshire.

Photos: Ed Waring


Tickets for Frankenstein at Northern Stage start at £12 and can be purchased in-person, over the phone on 0191 2305151 Monday-Friday, 12-4pm or online at 

For further information on the Frankenstein tour visit

REVIEW: I Should Be So Lucky: at Sunderland Empire

I Should Be So Lucky: The Stock Aitken Waterman Musical

Sunderland Empire 

Until Saturday 27 April 2024

Tickets: Https://Tinyurl.Com/Ishouldbesoluckysund *

This is perhaps the craziest musical of the year and it has landed in Wearside this week. 

It shouldn't work, but add some Stock, Aitken and Waterman magic, and a very funny script from writer and director Debbie Isitt,, and you end up with a delightful musical.

It is a well worn trope. Bride gets jilted at the altar but goes on honeymoon anyway but this time she flies with most of her wedding entourage. Look, an easy comparison is Mamma Mia on crack, and sure, this is genuinely a bat shit crazy production, but it works. It is as fun and carefree as the letters page of Smash Hits.

At the start we have Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) about to marry Nathan (Billy Roberts). However Nathan had doubts after his Grandad spoke to him. After leaving Ella at the altar, a decision is made to go on the Honeymoon in Turkey without him. There seems to be just a bridal suite booked but that doesn't stop half a dozen landing there. 

There are twists in the tale as hotel employee Nadeem (Matthew Croke) takes a shine to Ella and a whirlwind holiday romance begins. Of course Nathan is persuaded by best man Ash (Giovanni Spanò) to fly over and fix matters…

This is a jukebox musical that is filled with hits and talking of hits, every excuse to put the SAW lyrics in there and sing a few lines has been taken. 

Using melodies galore, no song over extends its welcome.  A live band executes a back catalogue that represents much of what was selling in the back end of the 80s, and the cast make the task of singing the songs look easy.

From the Team that gave us Kylie we get actual Kylie. Lifting a leaf out of the Snow White textbook,  Kylie appears in a mirror, offering advice and reflection.  

As the tale flies through the script, and the songs, there is real pace and energy. The set and light help keep the action flowing (the crew backstage must have been working hard!)  

The opening night Sunderland crowd lapped it up.

This is lightweight Mills and Boons stuff set to a familiar soundtrack. But… Do you know what? It is such a pleasure to leave a theatre with a crowd that is buzzing because they clearly enjoyed themselves.  

Flaws are there for anyone wanting to be a snob. Possibly too many characters to follow, possibly too much love at first sight. But Shakespeare got away with that too, and I'd much rather sit through this again. 

This is bonkers. But it left a smile on the audience's faces, and that's what a night at the theatre should do.

Review: Stephen Oliver 

Photos: Marc Brenner


I Should Be So Lucky: The Stock Aitken Waterman Musical will hit Sunderland Empire’s stage from Monday 22 – Saturday 27 April 2024. Tickets are available online now at *

*A £3.65 transaction fee applies to online bookings.


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