Monday, 21 August 2017

Preview: Goth Weekend at Newcastle’s Live Theatre

Goth Weekend to premiere at Newcastle’s Live Theatre

The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and Live Theatre, Newcastle, present a co-production of the world premiere of
Goth Weekend

Scarborough Stephen Joseph Theatre: Friday 14th September to Saturday 7th October 2017

Newcastle Live Theatre: Wednesday 11th October to Saturday 28th October 2017

Goth Weekend
Written by Ali Taylor
Directed by Paul Robinson
Cast: Jessica Johnson, Sean McKenzie, Gurjeet Singh, and Amy Trigg
Designer: Helen Coyston
Lighting Designer: Tigger Johnson
Sound Design: Paul Stear
Casting Director: Sarah Hughes

Goth Weekend, a hilarious comedy written by Ali Taylor comes to Live Theatre, Newcastle this autumn following its premiere at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough in an exciting new co-production between the two venues.

Rehearsal pictures
Sean McKenzie as Ken, Amy Trigg as Anna
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Goth Weekend tells the story of Anna who wants her recently bereaved dad, Ken, to get out more. To meet people. To start dating again. Then Belinda comes along. She’s the newly single singer in Belle Epoque, a Geordie Goth band, with her disgruntled teenage son, Simon (a.k.a. Bram), on keyboards. She’s a disaster – for Anna.

Rehearsal pictures
Amy Trigg as Anna, Sean McKenzie as Ken,
Gurjeet Singh as Simon, Jessica Johnson as Belinda
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Ken has had his head turned and his wardrobe will never be the same again. Things get worse for Anna when Belinda and Bram, arriving in a customised purple hearse, move in, to rehearse for a gig at Goth Weekend in Whitby.

Rehearsal pictures
 Jessica Johnson as Belinda, Sean McKenzie as Ken
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
In this hilarious comedy with music, Anna has to wrestle with whether or not to sabotage the band, and Ken and Belinda’s Goth happiness… Set during the lead-up to Whitby Goth Weekend, this funny and provocative play is about who we are and what we pretend to be. Can the members of this new family learn to accept each other’s identities and overcome more than just musical differences to live in harmony?

Rehearsal pictures
Jessica Johnson as Belinda, Gurjeet Singh as Simon
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Goth Weekend features Newcastle based actress Jessica Johnson, most recently seen in Key Change at Live Theatre and on tour, and Live Theatre debuts by actors Sean McKenzie, Amy Trigg and Gurjeet Singh

Rehearsal pictures
Jessica Johnson as Belinda
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Goth Weekend is directed by Stephen Joseph Theatre Artistic Director, Paul Robinson (who directed Land of Our Fathers and Here Come The Nightjars, both sell out successes when they toured to Live Theatre)and written by Ali Taylor, a playwright, screenwriter and teacher. He is currently on attachment to BFI/Origin Pictures to develop an original screenplay for BBC Films and is developing his sitcom Disaster Zones with Big Talk. His first TV script Pure Evil was developed during the 4Screenwriting programme at Channel 4.

Rehearsal pictures
Sean McKenzie as Ken, Jessica Johnson as Belinda
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Writer Ali Taylor said: “This is a play that’s fundamentally about family, about growing up and working out who you are. It’s full of music, humour, jokes and fun but also, I hope, with a poignant core expressing what it’s like to be an outsider in today’s society. I’m thrilled that Goth Weekend has been co-commissioned by and will be performed at both the SJT in Scarborough and Live Theatre, Newcastle.

Rehearsal pictures
Gurjeet Singh as Simon, Amy Trigg as Anna
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
“The inspiration came from a trip to Whitby Goth Weekend, which happens in spring and at Hallowe’en each year. Goths from all over the country come to Whitby to listen to some of the great music from the early 80s and 90s. There are two tribes at Whitby – the real, or trad, goths, and the people who just like to dress up – in Victoriana and vampire costumes, as steampunks or undertakers – it’s an amazing event. The play is a warm-hearted comedy about a family of Goths from Gateshead playing a gig at Whitby Goth Weekend. We’ve got songs, laughs and brilliant costumes.”

Rehearsal pictures
Sean McKenzie as Ken, Jessica Johnson as Belinda
Photo: Tony Bartholomew
Graeme Thompson, the Creative Producer of Live Theatre said “Rehearsals are well underway for Goth Weekend and I am really looking forward to this show coming to Newcastle. Jess Johnson, who Live Theatre audiences will recognise from Open Clasp’s Key Change, is brilliantly funny in this play and is backed up by a really talented cast. Goth Weekend really does have something for everyone. It’s a play about two broken families unexpectedly thrown together and a washed up goth band who may or may not get back together. Its moving, fantastically witty and has some 80’s power ballads thrown in for good measure. It’s going to be a great show to come and see.”

Following its World Premiere at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough from Friday 14 September to Saturday 7 October, Goth Weekend transfers to Live Theatre, Newcastle from Wednesday 11 to Saturday 28 October.

Free events at Live Theatre include a Meet the Writer post show talk after the 2pm show on Saturday 14 October, a Goth Weekend Party after the 7.30pm show on Saturday 14 October; a Meet the Cast post show talk after the show on Tuesday 17 October (both the performance and talk are BSL signed that evening); a post show talk on Goth Identities and Sub Cultures after the 7.30pm show on Thursday 19 October and a Hallowe’en Fancy Dress Closing Party after the 7.30pm show on Saturday 28 October. Events are free for ticket holders for the performance on that day.

Tickets are £10-£22, concessions from £6. For more information or to book tickets visit or contact Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

NEWS: opportunity for 2 Children and 2 Adults to help bring the story of the Pitman Painters to life

North East Dance Company offers exciting opportunity for 2 Children and 2 Adults to help bring the story of the Pitman Painters to life through dance!
ESC, the Newcastle based contemporary dance company, could hardly have expected the public reaction to their latest Spring Tour which included PITMAN. Choreographed by the Company’s Artistic Director and Dance City’s Associate Artist, Eliot Smith, it tells the story of the miners and their community through dance interpretations of six of the paintings of the Pitmen Painters that are on permanent exhibition at Woodhorn Museum.

An image from PITMAN by Eliot Smith Company.
Performing Jazz Band Parade at Northumberland
Miners Picnic 2017 at Woodhorn Museum.
Photo credit: Rich Kenworthy.
PITMAN was premièred at Newbiggin Maritime Centre in November 2016.  It played to a sell-out audience, and the same happened the following evening when the performances moved to the Laing Gallery in Newcastle.  Earlier this year, in April and May 2017, PITMAN toured successfully across the North-East as part of the Company’s Double Bill.

What was particularly moving was the reaction of relatives of miners, who found the work emotionally charged, and there were tears.  The work of the Pitmen Painters has been the subject of a successful play by Lee Hall, a definitive academic study by William Feaver, and is featured in Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, but this is the first time that a dance company has offered their interpretation of the paintings.

The Xmas Tree by Harry Wilson. 1950.
The Ashington Group Trustees.
Following on from what has been a particularly eventful year for the Company, Eliot Smith is to choreograph three new sections for PITMAN in Autumn 2017 – supported and funded by Arts Council England, Northumberland Arts Development and with support from Woodhorn Museum.

And there will be a unique opportunity for two children and two adults who live in Newcastle upon Tyne (or the surrounding areas) to take part in one of the new sections, ‘The Xmas Tree’, dancing their own contribution to the story as they join ESC dancers in this affectionate tribute to the Ashington Group.
The lucky four participants will rehearse alongside Eliot Smith and his dancers and be supported by the Company’s Education and Beyond Co-ordinator April Martin.  Those involved will receive an appropriate food and travel allowance.

No stage or dance experience is required, but prospective participants must be comfortable performing in front of an audience.  The role will involve some physical effort, and Eliot Smith and April Martin will work with everyone’s individual needs and abilities.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the production and the involvement needed should apply to attend a “taster” session on Saturday 2nd September from 2.00 pm to 3.00 pm at The Barre Studios, Newcastle Quayside.  This session will provide an opportunity to meet Eliot Smith and April Martin, find out more about the production, ask questions and discuss some ideas for the show.  Following the session two children (one male and one female) and two adults (one male and one female) will be selected to take part in the première performance on 15th, 16th & 17th November 2017 at The Holy Biscuit, Newcastle upon Tyne.

This is an opportunity not to be missed!

If you require any further information, or wish to register interest in a taster session, please e-mail or call:

April Martin
Education and Beyond Co-ordinator
Call: 07974 582 973

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Preview: And the Cow Jumped into the Woods at South Shields Customs House


…And the Cow Jumped into the Woods
South Shields Customs House
Wednesday 30th August 2017 - Saturday 2nd September 2017

If you go down to the woods today … you might bump into Doddington the Cow!

David John Hopper as Arbuthnot,
Doddington and Bethan Amber Carr Brown as Peggy.
The Customs House panto favourite is stealing the limelight in her own show once again in …And the Cow Jumped into the Woods.

The loveable dancing cow – affectionately known as Dodders - stars alongside David John Hopper, who reprises his panto role as Arbuthnot.

The duo have proved a hit with audiences since their appearance in Jack and the Beanstalk last year and …And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon at February half-term.

This time, their all-new adventure takes them deep into the woods, where they stumble across some fairytale favourites.

Everything seems to be going well on Dame Trott's farm, but Doddington longs for another adventure and decides to jump into the woods! 

Arbuthnot and Peggy follow and come across Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf and Merlin the Magician. However, Little Red has lost her hood, the wolf has lost his howl and Merlin has lost his magic wand! 

How will the gang solve this mystery? Through singing and dancing of course! 

The 60-minute show will delight children aged seven and under and their families.

Hopper, who has also written the script, said: “It was so clear that everyone loved Doddington in the pantomime that we brought her back in February and sold out, so I’m thrilled to bring Dodders back for a third time in another fun show. Expects lots of laughter, shouting out and singing along!”

Hopper and Dodders will be joined on stage by Bethan Amber Carr Brown, from South Shields, as Peggy, Dale Jewitt, from Rowlands Gill, as Mac and David McCarthy, from Alnwick, as Mr Twiddles, with the role of Little Red Riding Hood yet to be cast.

…And the Cow Jumped into the Woods runs from Wednesday, August 30, until Saturday, September 2, at 11am and 2pm (no 2pm show on Saturday, September 2).
Tickets are priced from £7.50 and are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at
Families will also get the chance to meet Doddington and her friends after the show.

Pic caption:

Friday, 18 August 2017

Preview: The Night Pirates at Whitley Bay Playhouse

The Night Pirates

Whitley Bay Playhouse

Monday 6th & 7th November 2017

Rough, tough little girl pirates.
With their own pirate ship.
A ship set for sailing.
A ship off on adventures.

Nick Brooke Ltd and Rose Theatre Kingston present The Night Pirates.
Adapted from the best-selling children’s book by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright, The Night Pirates tells the tale of a group of little girl pirates who descend on a young boy called Tom at bedtime. Eager to join the pirate adventure, Tom uses his house as a pirate ship and sets sail to retrieve stolen treasure from Captain Patch and the bumbling grown-up pirates. Adapted and directed by Miranda Larson, this show combines original songs and swashbuckling adventures, suitable for any budding young pirate!

Running time: 55mins no interval, Ages: families with children 3 and up


The Night Pirates comes to the Whitley Bay Playhouse on Monday 6th & 7th November 2017 at 1.30 pm & 4.30 pm (Mon) & 10.30 am & 4.30 pm (Tue) Tickets costing £12, £10 Groups (10+) are on sale now

Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday
10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am – 2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588* or online at

*Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.



The Customs House has unveiled a new look for its brochure ahead of its latest season.

The format has changed from an A5 booklet to a fold-out programme, packed with the usual mix of drama, music, comedy, variety and children’s shows. The number of issues has also increased from three to six per year, to bring people more information on the most current shows.

The new brochure covers September and October, with highlights including Gyles Brandreth’s award-winning show Zipp!, One Hundred Musicals for Less than the Price of One, the Sunderland AFC-themed double-bill of Wise Men Say and Cornered, Men of the Tyne and Forgotten Broadway.

Dick and Dom
Several tribute acts to leading music stars are back by popular demand, including Big O and the Travelling Wilburys, Shine On (Pink Floyd), The Simon and Garfunkel Story, And Finally … Phil Collins and Beatlemania in Pepper Again.

There’s also The Searchers, The Whitney Houston Show, The Manfreds, Memories Are Made of This, Faith: The George Michael Legacy, Thank Abba for the Music and Formerly of Bucks Fizz, who recently announced their first album in three decades.

Men of the Tyne
Composer Jason Singh – artist in residence in Hull as part of its City of Culture 2017 – also brings Following the Fleet: Drifters to The Customs House as part of its UK tour of former fishing communities, with support from South Shields singer/songwriter Eve Simpson.

Wendy the Witch makes a welcome return for little ones during the October half-term in Wendy the Witch and the Long Lost Spell, along with shows Dick and Dom Live! and Harry Panto and the Chamber Pot of Secrets. 

The Book of Darkness and Light
There’s also Sing-a-Long-a Beauty and the Beast, where the lyrics appear on screen to the songs in the live adaptation of the Disney classic, starring Emma Watson as Belle. The interactive experience also includes dancing and props and fancy dress is a must!

Jason Cook
Following the success of the South Tyneside Comedy Festival, Jason Cook is also back with his Comedy Club on the first Saturday of the month.

Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House said: “We work very hard to make sure we have an exciting programme with something for everyone and I think this brochure reflects that well.  This brochure also sees a new format and more frequent publications, which we hope will give our valued customers more opportunities to snap up tickets for the shows they want to see, as well as taking advantage of more comprehensive future listings.”

Zipp! was conceived by Gyles Brandreth and Stewart Nicholls and whizzes through over a century of Broadway and West End musicals, including the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in 60 seconds.

Paul Dunn, star of I Left My Heart In Roker Park, returns in Wise Men Say, marking 20 years of the Stadium of Light, while Cornered, by BBC Look North’s Jeff Brown, tells the story of the 1985 Milk Cup Final and the moment that changed Dave Corner’s life and career.

Men of the Tyne, featuring Tom Kelly, Ian Ravenscroft and Ted Cuskin, is a heart-warming show capturing the stories of the men who worked in the Tyne shipyards from the 1950s to the 1980s, through film, stories and song.

Forgotten Broadway celebrates the magic of forgotten musical theatre songs, performed by West End star Jamie Birkett, The Voice’s Melissa Cavanagh, Encore and Jen Stevens, to name a few, in aid of The Customs House Trust and The Jackie Fielding Trust.

Dirty Dusting, written by Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, also makes a welcome return, starring Crissy Rock (Benidorm), Leah Bell and Dolores Poretta Brown as three cleaning ladies who start up a chat line.

The Book of Darkness and Light, Austen the Musical, The Red Room, the Best of South Tyneside Young Performer evening and Filmmaking at The Customs House Third Anniversary complete the theatre line-up.

For full details of forthcoming shows and ticket information, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit