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REVIEW: Here You Come Again at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Here You Come Again

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Until Saturday 22 June 2024

Here You Come Again shows that there was always plenty of scope for another Dolly Parton musical. This is a joyous celebration of the human spirit and the collective trauma that came from the shared experience that was lockdown. A fun frolic, the show has the spirit of a high budget fringe show and the pathos of something much more serious. It is worth a trip to Newcastle.

Set in Halifax in 2020, Steven Webb appears as Kevin, a man on the wrong side of 40 whose boyfriend Jeremy has decided that they should try a separation as lockdown began. His only option was to move back into the space he occupied in the loft of his parents home. The result in Paul Wills set design is a very busy space full of childhood memories.

Kevin has to come to terms with the position he finds himself in and to reconcile the decisions he has made. This is framed around a passion for the songs of Dolly Parton. As a concept, it works.

The script makes regular reference to lockdown. As a collective experience, it is something that the audience appreciate. It runs as a sub plot around a fan of Dolly Parton who is going through a relationship break up. We have never been fans of spoilers here, however the tone was set immediately as the central character arrives with his parents playing a broadcast from number 10 in the background (remember "next slide, please?") with a tonne of toilet paper. This starts the show with a laugh.

What I was not expecting as much was the regular breakdown of the fourth wall. There are a number of points that the audience are expected to react to the action on stage. I say it has the feel of an excellent fringe show as it is has a small cast. One has to remember that the Play That Goes Wrong and Six are amongst the many shows that began life in fringe. The only other main character is Dolly, who is brought alive from the image on the bedroom door by Tricia Paoluccio. There is support from the backing vocalists Aidan Cutler and Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke who occasionally interact as parents, employers and boyfriends.

The show works mainly because there is a connection with Steven Webb's character. If we did not like or care about Kevin then the show immediately fails. The fact that we have a largely positive tour de force in the shape of Dolly helps too. Tricia Paoluccio is able to behave as you'd imagine Dolly would and she is able to sing her songs in the style of Dolly, which is important when you consider that her songs have been covered by numerous others. Jolene, Two Doors, Down, 9 to 5, Islands In The Stream and I Will Always Love You are all there. For me though, the delicate Love Is Like A Butterfly was the stand out number as it closed act one. 

A live band operate both in view and behind the scenes and did not put a foot wrong all night. From the music point of view the show was a success.

Setting the show in 2020 is an interesting one. My last show in March 2020 was the Royal Shakespeare Company. As there season was cut short you were wondering if "normal" would ever return. Sure, there were broadcasts of comedy and theatre but it did not feel the same when you were not sharing it with a room full of strangers. Theatre, like all live entertainment, works best in front of a interactive audience that react to the action on stage. Having said that, the opening Tuesday night crowd in our section had pockets of issues: mobile phones, regular toilet visits and, of course, the amateur singers who feel they need to join in with the professionals on stage that people have paid to hear. We had it all. 

This was a fun night at the theatre. By relating with two people, a person we can relate to and their favourite star, in a situation like lockdown that we all remember adds up to an uplifting evening. 

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Hugo Glendinning



Here You Come Again, a musical that is sure to make you smile, plays Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 June. Tickets can be purchased at or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.

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