Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Preview: Snake in the Grass at Newcastle People’s Theatre

Snake in the Grass
by Alan Ayckbourn
Newcastle People’s Theatre
Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th April 2017

A dilapidated tennis court; a reunion of two estranged sisters; the blackmailing nurse of their recently-deceased father; dark family secrets. Can a ghost story tell us anything about human nature?

In a departure from his more familiar comedies, Snake In The Grass sees Alan Ayckbourn turn his pen to a spooky exploration of the sibling rivalry between stringent Annabel and scatty Miriam, all unfolding in the garden of a macabre family home.

Sarah McLane
All of the trademarks that make Ayckbourn a master of his craft are here: the wry humour, a tight plot that twists and turns, and a fascination with loveless relationships. Add to these the unsettling influence exerted by an unseen character and you have a superbly engrossing mystery on your hands.

This rarely-performed gem by the master playwright is half black comedy, half psychological thriller.

Penny Lamport
Ayckbourn is undergoing something of a renaissance at the moment, with his latest play, a two-part, five-hour work called The Divide, forming the centrepiece of the upcoming Edinburgh International Festival. 

A little nearer home, at the People’s they have something of a reputation for bringing plays to Newcastle that have never before been staged in the city.  Snake In The Grass is just such a play and we’re proud to be giving this quirky and atypical piece from Ayckbourn’s (extensive!) back catalogue its debut in the Toon.


Snake In The Grass appears from Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 April 2017 at 7.30pm at The People’s Theatre, Stephenson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5QF
Tickets cost £13.50 (Concessions £11) and are available from the box office on 0191 265 5020 or online from

Preview: 1867 Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Twenty Seven Productions in association with Tyne Theatre & Opera House present
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Monday 11th – Sunday 17th September 2017

Tyne Theatre & Opera House are excited to have teamed up with local immersive theatre group Twenty Seven Productions to present “1867” – a week of theatre tours with a twist to celebrate their150th Anniversary year.

Twenty Seven Productions are the team who brought Hitler’sHeadquarters to the Victoria Tunnel, and who unearthed the secrets of Newcastle’sCastle and the doomed Geordie witches in WYTCH.  Their newest venture is a celebration in the form of a new, high tech, exploration of Tyne Theatre & Opera House’s 150th Anniversary.

In 1867 the “North’s La Scala”, The Tyne Theatre, opened its doors for the first time and has housed countless stars and starlets across the years, as well as triumphing in times of darkness and standing tall as the only original working Victorian Theatre in the country.

Aptly named, “1867” will be a multi-sensory experience for each limited audience, anchoring the sights, sounds and smells of the building, all whilst discovering new paths you never knew were there. Cheer for Tosca, escape the 1985 fire, search for lost treasures and mingle with theatre ghosts.

“The way in which I was able to leave modern life at the door and become a part of the past was a unique and liberating experience”. – Quote from Veteran actor, and household name Bill Fellows, who is (we won’t spoil how!) heavily involved in the production.
“1867” is part of Tyne Theatre & Opera House’s special 150th Anniversary programme, and takes place in the month of the theatre’s opening. Though September officially marks 150 years, we’re celebrating throughout the year, and our 2017 calendar will feature a number of special events that have been chosen specifically to be part of our celebratory programme.

Some of the events already confirmed include Geordie the Musical, which TyneTheatre & Opera House present in association with Customs House, SouthShields, three classic Gilbert & Sullivan musicals from the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, the return of Newcastle magician ChrisCross’ The Greatest Show on the Tyne variety show and a grand staging of WestSide Story by Tyne Theatre Productions to raise money for the theatre’s ongoing restoration.

150th Anniversary Coordinator Riikka Heiskanen says: "We are so thrilled to be able to bring this immersive experience to the Tyne Theatre - it's like history coming to life around you. Combining cutting edge high tech effects with the old world charm of the theatre, the visitors will have their hearts soaring."

“1867” opens on September 11th and runs until the 17th with two shows every day at 2:30pm and 7:30pm and is approximately 80 minutes long.

£20. Available now from: or from 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)

Important information about attending the show:
- As this production requires you to be on your feet for the majority of the duration, please dress comfortably for a theatrical production with a difference.
- The producers advise that this show is suitable for children 14+, and all minors must be accompanied by an adult.
- Due to the nature of the show, they cannot grant access to those patrons with mobility issues.
- Please arrive fifteen minutes early (2:15pm and 7:15pm) to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to the past; late comers will not be permitted.

Preview: King of Pop of Sunderland Empire


King of Pop
Sunderland Empire
Sunday 7th May 2017

Renowned Michael Jackson tribute artist, Navi has been chosen by Hollywood to portray Michael Jackson in an upcoming movie about the star and is bringing his incredible tribute show – King of Pop (featuring Jackson’s very own guitarist) to the Sunderland Empire on Sunday 7 May 2017 ahead of the film release.
Navi is widely regarded as the top MJ impersonator and actually worked for the star himself as his official body-double/decoy and once even received a standing ovation from Jackson after performing his tribute at one of the pop singers lavish birthday parties.

This time however, it is Hollywood that has come calling for Navi and US Television Production Company ‘Lifetime’ believe there is no better man for the job, describing him as ‘the world’s foremost Michael Jackson tribute artist’.  The film titled ‘Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland’ is expected to be released later this year and the sought-after role focuses on the final two years of the stars life.

Ahead of the films release audiences will have the chance to see Navi live on stage as he tours the UK in his acclaimed production King Of Pop - 2017 World Tour with a date at Sunderland Empire for one night only this May.

Talking about the movie and the upcoming UK tour, Navi said:  “The last few months in Hollywood has been an incredible experience for me.  But now I’m looking forward to getting back on stage where I feel most at home.  We have a great show lined up for the fans.”

The incredible show also features Michael Jackson’s most iconic musician and legendary female guitarist, Jennifer Batten.  Instantly recognisable among MJ fans due to her large blonde mane of hair -Jennifer was on all three of Jackson’s record-breaking world tours along with the famous Super Bowl half time performance and numerous music videos.  For over 10 years she performed side-by-side with Michael who affectionately referred to her as his “Right-Hand Woman”.

Talking about the tour, Jennifer said:  "I’m really looking forward to playing Michael Jackson’s music again with a top notch tribute in the UK. I remember the crowds in UK were mad crazy for Michael. Not too many acts could fill Wembley stadium day after day, and year after year!"

Don’t miss King Of Pop, featuring all of Jackson’s greatest hits such as Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, Black or White, Man In The Mirror and the ‘Jackson Five’ classics.  All performed by Navi with the backing of his incredible live band, dancers and special effects in a show suitable for the whole family.

Tickets are available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at*
*Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings

Monday, 27 March 2017

Preview: Stick Man Live at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

Scamp Theatre and Freckle Productions
Stick Man Live
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd October 2017

Stick Man © 2008 Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Published by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic Children’s Books.

Touching, funny and utterly original, Scamp Theatre’s delightful adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man is coming to Tyne Theatre & Opera House this October.

What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree?

This award-winning production, from the team behind Tiddler and other Terrific Tales and The Scarecrows’ Wedding, features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves. Stick Man is most suitable for all aged 3+ but all ages are welcome!

‘Zesty and delightful. A clever compelling treat’ - Independent

'More fun than you can shake a stick at' - Daily Mail

'Julia Donaldson's miniature epic.  Sally Cookson and her team recreate the book with vigour and imagination' - Times

‘Scamp Theatre’s productions are a pleasure for the child in us all’ - Evening Standard
‘Scamp Theatre send shivers down my spine. They are so lively and innovative. I love their production of Stick Man and so do the audiences’ - Julia Donaldson, author and former Children’s Laureate

Tyne Theatre & Opera House Director Joanne Johnson says: “I’m thrilled that we can bring the live stage adaptation of this much-loved children’s tale to the theatre! I’ve read Julia Donaldson’s books including Stick Man to my own children many times, so I can’t wait to see how it will be brought to life on stage by Scamp Theatre. We’ve been expanding our programme of family shows lately: coming up we also have The Wizard of Oz Easter Panto, children’s TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson’s Wild & Scary Show, and Annie the Musical presented by Astravaganza Entertainment. We think a trip to the theatre should be enjoyed by the whole family, so it’s great that we can add Stick Man to these events!”

On The Web:
Twitter: @StickManLive
Facebook: StickManOnStage

Tickets: £14.50 adults, £12 under 16s, £48 family (2 adults, 2 children). School groups Buy 10 get 2 free.

Tickets available now from 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday) or online at

Music preview: Katalina Kicks at Newcastle’s Trillians

Katalina Kicks
Newcastle’s Trillians 
Tuesday 9th May 2017


Katalina Kicks are: Ian George (vocals/guitar),
Nadia Silverstone (bass/backing vox),
Jase Wilkinson (drums/backing vox)

Purveyors of the finest in scuzzed-up rock'n'roll - Katalina Kicks - make their return with a thrilling new long-player 'Vices' and a feast of UK live dates this May.

Whetting appetites in the run up to the new album, the band accompany the announcement with the release of adrenaline-laced new single and featured track: 'Cut It Up'.

Watch the video for 'Cut It Up' here - 

The new album, Vices, presents Katalina Kicks at their loudest, scuzziest and most politically aggrieved yet. But then opening with a “cameo” from Donald Trump, how could it not be?

Katalina Kick
Photo: Andrew Cotterill Photography
Fans of the band will already be familiar with the Seattle-sized quake of teaser single 'Guns', a track written after watching Obama’s tearful reaction to the Sandy Hook school shooting. “It’s a song of despair,” frontman Ian George says of the track. “The most powerful man in the world, and even he can’t stop the gun madness in his own country. And then after the Paris attacks, Trump said that terrifying quote about if people had guns, less people would have been hurt. So we sampled that just to show the absurdity.”

Watch 'Guns' here -

Katalina Kicks
Photo: Andrew Cotterill Photography
In support of the new album, the band will be hitting the road for a series of UK dates this May (see below). Offering insight into what to expect from the new album and forthcoming tour frontman Ian George says: "We're so excited about this album, as it has a real mix of songs and flavours - from our trademark high octane punk rock to slightly more chilled and sophisticated tracks, but all played with the same attitude! After spending a fair amount of last year in the studio, we're really looking forward to getting on the road again and playing this new material to everyone."

Katalina Kicks are a London band as only a London band can be, three nomads from different points of the compass – a Southern soul-searcher, a Northern agitator and a South American vixen – whose desire to make music lured them first to the metropolis, and eventually each other. And, by birth, a quintessentially West London band, first fashioned in the clatter and fume of Shepherds Bush. Even if they’ve changed postcodes since, their sound – urgent, questioning, loud and fierce – has never lost the urban beat of W12.

Singer and guitarist Ian George is the last man standing from Katalina Kicks Mk I, once a punkish quartet who released an album named after their cat, stray moggy “Montague Rotter”, and found themselves accidentally sound-tracking a straight-to-DVD horror Z-Movie directed by the son of James Bond. “I’ve never watched it!” grimaces Ian of Jason Connery’s 51. “When we started we had an American publishing deal and that was one of the weird things that came of it. We got all of £3.50 for having a song in a crap film. So it’s taken a long time, and a lot of changing line-ups to get to where Katalina Kicks are today. I’ve always believed in the band. It’s just been a waiting game to find the right people.”

One such right person finally surfaced in the beard and flexing tattoos of Jase Wilkinson. Not so much born as smelted in Manchester, as a kid he’d wait for his stepdad to leave the house so he could sneak a listen of his Led Zeppelin vinyl. “And getting a whopping for it when he came home and found out.” Between John Bonham and hip hop he fell in love with the drums, later moving to London, instinctively settling westwards off Ladbroke Grove, first blurring his limbs behind the kit of a ska band until a chance audition with Katalina Kicks. Which he failed. “Because he wore these dodgy heavy metal black leather fingerless gloves,” laughs Ian. “My first thought was, no way am I having THOSE in the band. But then a few weeks later I called him back. Before Jase our drummers had mostly been arseholes, mentally ill, drug addicts and glory-grabbers. He was none of those. He had the passion and the power I’d always needed… so long as he kept those bloody gloves off!”

In the meantime bassists continued to fall by the wayside until a mysterious Brazilian answered their situation vacant ad. Nadia Silverstone left her home city of Curitiba for London the day after her eighteenth birthday. Her one goal: to join a London rock band.

Katalina Kicks were the only one to ever give her an audition. Their first surprise was Nadia’s look: a slinky, silver-bobbed creature with exotic Italian/Japanese features, less Girl From Ipanema than Girl From Outer Space. The second was Nadia’s style: a bass that was both forceful and fluid, twisting in the lull between Jase’s rhythmic thunder. That plane ticket wasn’t spent in vain. Katalina Kicks have been a formidable core trio ever since, occasionally swelling their ranks to four with an extra guitarist for added live ferocity.    Together they play simple and direct heavy garage rock’n’roll: power chords and pummelling rhythms, fuzzy guitar and throbbing bass, big riffs and shouted choruses, pin-balling between grunge, punk and heavy blues. In Ian they’ve also a songwriter who can’t help but use his band as a platform to air his anxieties about the world around him. “I would never pigeonhole us as a ‘political band’,” he explains. “I just write about things I see and hear that upset me. We’re not preaching at anyone or trying to change the world. We’re just saying these are the things that affect and worry us. They’re too important not to talk about, whether in conversation or in rock’n’roll. That’s all we try to do.”

In addition, Katalina Kicks are delighted to announce they will be teaming up with fashion giant Paul Smith to bring you a series of intimate acoustic in-store sets at certain UK branches including Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham, London and Amsterdam to coincide the tour (dates as below, times tbc).   Speaking about the Paul Smith acoustic sets ahead, Ian says: "We started breaking our songs down to do some acoustic shows late last year and that was a real challenge, but they went down really well, surprising many people! So that element of the tour playing the Paul Smith shows should be great too to give people a flavour of our slightly more chilled (but still fun and energetic!) side."


4th May - The Spinning Top, Stockport

5th May - Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham
( + Paul Smith In Store earlier in the day at Birmingham branch)

9th May - Trillians, Newcastle

10th May - O2 Academy 2, Islington, London (launch party)
( + Paul Smith In Store earlier in the day at London branch)

12th May - The Shed, Leicester
( + Paul Smith In Store earlier in the day at Nottingham branch)

13th May - Retro Bar, Manchester
( + Paul Smith In Store earlier in the day at Manchester branch)

14th May - West Street Live, Sheffield
( + Paul Smith In Store earlier in the day at Leeds branch)

16th May - Horns, Watford

Fri 19th May - Sofar, Amsterdam

Sat 20th May - 'Beardsterdam' Festival, Het Sieraad, Amsterdam

Sun 21st May - The Waterhole, Amsterdam

The ten tracks that make up new album Vices are reassurance to anyone fearing that contemporary rock may have lost its conscience. In their musical echoes of the past, Katalina Kicks speak volumes about our present. A volume the world needs turning up to louder than ever....


On The Web:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Preview: The Red Lion at Newcastle Live Theatre

Rehearsals are underway for The Red Lion at Live Theatre, Newcastle, a play written by Patrick Marber set in the locker room of a Northern lower league football club
A Live Theatre Production
The Red Lion

Newcastle Live Theatre

Thursday 6th April to Saturday 6th May 2017

Written by Patrick Marber
Directed by Max Roberts
Designed by Patrick Connellan
Starring Stephen Tompkinson, John Bowler and Dean Bone

Actors Stephen Tompkinson (DCI Banks) John Bowler (Auf Wiedersehen Pet) and Dean Bone (The Savage) have started rehearsals for Live Theatre’s new production of The Red Lion written by Oscar Nominated writer Patrick Marber, which runs at the Newcastle quayside based theatre from Thursday 6 April to Saturday 6 May 2017.

Following its critically acclaimed first run at the National Theatre in 2015, The Red Lion has been specially adapted by writer Patrick Marber for Live Theatre and the North East, where it will be directed by Live Theatre’s Artistic Director Max Roberts.  The play is set in the locker room of a North Eastern lower league football club in the ultra-competitive twilight world of semi-professional football. The Red Lion is a powerful, funny and touching drama that reaches beyond the beautiful game, exploring contrasting ideas about loyalty, ambition and what it takes to win, from three different generations.  If you thought that badge-kissing mercenaries, wide-boy agents and dodgy deals were confined to the Premier League, think again.

Stephen Tompkinson
Stephen Tompkinson, well known for his TV appearances as DCI Banks, and who previously appeared at Live Theatre as the lead in Faith & Cold Reading, is re-united with Harrigan co-star John Bowler. John started his TV career in the film Ha'way the Lads playing Sunderland footballer Jimmy Seed. He then went on to feature in Auf Wiedersehen Pet and has since starred in The Bill, EastEnders and Coronation Street. John, who grew up in Newcastle, will be making his first appearance at Live Theatre. They will be joined by up and coming actor Dean Bone cast as the young football player, Jordan. Dean, originally from Gateshead, has had lead roles in Live Theatre’s recent productions The Savage and The Terminal Velocity of Snowflakes having started in Live’s Youth Theatre.

Stephen Tompkinson, actor, said: "Performing at Live Theatre in Shaun Prendergast's Faith & Cold Reading, was one of the best experiences in my career. I am delighted to be back at Live Theatre, in Patrick Marber's brilliant play The Red Lion.”

John Bowler
John Bowler, actor, said: “I was attracted to the part of Yates by Max Roberts, Steven Tompkinson, Patrick Marber and football - not necessarily in that order!  I have always been a fan of Live Theatre and the work Max has created over the years so to be invited to work with him opposite the wonderful Stephen Tompkinson in this brilliant play by Patrick Marber proved irresistible!”

Dean Bone
Dean Bone added: "It's always an absolute privilege to work at Live Theatre. I cannot wait to get started on a project about football, something I feel passionately about. And working with two excellent, experienced professional actors such as Stephen Tompkinson and John Bowler is something any young actor would jump at the chance at!”
Max Roberts, Artistic Director, Live Theatre said: “I am delighted to be working with Patrick Marber, directing his play The Red Lion. I am also pleased to welcome back Stephen Tompkinson to Live Theatre’s stage, and to have cast alongside him well-established actor John Bowler who will be making his first appearance here, and rising talent Dean Bone who has starred in two recent Live Theatre productions having started here in Live’s Youth Theatre.”

Patrick Marber
Patrick Marber was a writer and performer on The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You… with Alan Partridge. His plays include Dealer’s Choice, winner of the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy and Closer, both at the National Theatre. Closer was adapted by Patrick into a film, which starred actors Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Natalie Portman. Patrick was also Oscar nominated in 2006 for his film adaptation of Zoe Heller’s novel Notes on a Scandal which starred Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. His other plays include After Miss Julie, Don Juan in Soho and Three Days in the Country.

Patrick Marber, writer of The Red Lion said: “I am thrilled to be making my Live Theatre debut. It’s been a great and exciting opportunity to revise the play with Max Roberts at the helm. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing this version of the play in Newcastle.”

‘Marber’s dressing room drama is a remarkable three-hander about a sport he clearly knows intimately’ ★★★★ The Guardian
‘a triumph’ The Telegraph

A series of FREE post show talks accompany the play. 

Director Max Roberts
Writer Patrick Marber and Director Max Roberts take part in a free Meet the Writer talk after the 2pm performance on Saturday 8 April; actors Stephen Tompkinson, John Bowler and Dean Bone discuss their roles in a free Meet the Cast talk after the 7.30pm performance on Wednesday 19 April, and in a Football Panel Discussion sports writers Harry Pearson (The Far Corner) and George Caulkin (The Times) join director Max Roberts and industry professionals in a discussion about the importance of amateur football in the North East and issues raised in the play after the 7.30pm performance on Wednesday 3 May. All post show talks include a question and answer session, are free but must be pre-booked.

Live Theatre
Live Theatre is fully accessible and offers a range of additional assisted interpretation at specific performances of The Red Lion aimed at improving the theatre experience for all audience members. These include British Sign Language Interpretation at the performance on Wednesday 26 April, 7.30pm, Captioning on Thursday 27 April, 7.30pm and Audio Description on Saturday 6 May, 2pm.  A Free Touch Tour on Saturday 6 May, 1pm is a ‘hands on’ tour of the set describing props, costumes, characters and the visual style of the show ahead of the performance with additional audio description especially for visitors with visual impairments.

The 2pm matinee on Thursday 27 April is designated as a Relaxed Performance which allows a more laid back approach to noise or movement from the audience, with audience members being able to leave and come back in again and don’t have to be quiet. This is suitable for young people with special educational needs, or anyone who many benefit from a more relaxed environment.  These services are offered at no extra cost for service users. Performances with extra interpretation should not affect the performance for other audience members, although Relaxed performances may have more noise and movement from other audience members. 
The Red Lion is suitable for ages 16+ and is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 6 April to Saturday 6 May 2017. Tickets for The Red Lion cost between £10 and £26 with concessions from £6 and group discounts available. For more information or to book tickets visit  or contact Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232.

Meet the Writer
2pm show)
Writer Patrick Marber discusses the writing of the play and adapting it for
Newcastle with Max Roberts, Artistic Director, Live Theatre.
FREE, booking essential. Suitable for Artsmark visits.

Meet the Cast
Wednesday 19 April (after the 7.30pm show)
Director Max Roberts discusses the making of The Red Lion with cast members Stephen Tompkinson, John Bowler and Dean Bone. Followed by a Q&A.
FREE, booking essential. Suitable for Artsmark visits.

Football Panel Discussion
Wednesday 3 May (after the 7.30pm show)
Sports writers Harry Pearson (The Far Corner), George Caulkin (The Times) and former Newcastle Utd and Seaham Red Star player Steve Harper who now coaches for Newcastle United Academy join director Max Roberts and industry professionals in a discussion about the importance of amateur football in the North East and issues raised in the play. Followed by a Q&A.
FREE, booking essential. Suitable for Artsmark visits
Find out more and book.

Live Theatre is fully accessible and offers a range of assisted performances aimed at improving the theatre experience for all audience members. These services are offered at no extra cost for service users. Performances with extra interpretation should not affect the performance for other audience members, although Relaxed performances may have more noise and movement from other audience members.

British Sign Language Interpreted Performance
Wednesday 26 April, 7.30pm
A BSL interpreter positioned on or next to the stage communicates in a non verbal language

Thursday 27 April, 2pm
Relaxed Performance
A laid back approach to noise or movement from the audience is taken during this performance, audience members can leave and come back in again and don’t have to be quiet. Suitable for young people with special educational needs, or anyone who many benefit from a more relaxed environment.

Thursday 27 April, 7.30pm
Captioned Performance
Words spoken by the actors are displayed as text on a screen on or next to the stage similar to television subtitles.

Touch Tour
Saturday 6 May, 1pm
A Touch Tour compliments an Audio Described show; this is a ‘hands on’ tour of the set describing props, costumes, characters and the visual style of the show especially for visitors with visual impairments.
Saturday 6 May, 2pm
Audio Description
This optional service allows audience members who choose to wear headphones to listen to a live commentary of the action on stage in between the words spoken by the characters.

To find out more about Live Theatre’s assisted performances see