Books: Unseen Ayckbourn By Simon Murgatroyd

Sir Alan Ayckbourn, is arguably the country’s greatest living playwright. He is certainly the most prolific - and the majority of his plays received their premiere in Scarborough. Originally, this was in the Library Theatre, the first professional in-the-round company, which he joined in 1957 as an actor and stage manager, and from 1996 in the Stephen Joseph Theatre (SJT). ... is a marvellous miscellany of Ayckbourn’s out-takes, paths not taken, reappraisals and rejections. Both a scholarly work of reference and…

HMS Pinafore At York's Theatre Royal

I have tried over the years not to like Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, disparaged as they often are with the prefix "light", but they have a sneaky way of creeping into your subconscious and popping out in unfocussed moments. So it was as I was driving home from York Opera's production of HMS Pinafore at York's Theatre Royal. Between moments of trying to see the A59 on a disgustingly rainy night I caught myself humming "I am the Captain of…

Spike - Celebrating The Genius Of The Goon Show

When the Goon Show arrived on BBC radio in 1951 it was a breath of fresh air after all the variety shows that had gone before. Suddenly three young rebels had arrived on the scene to shake things up. Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe introduced listeners to a crazy and often madcap world with sound effects and a satire that was unheard of. Spike, the latest touring play from Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and co-writer Nick Newman shine a…

The Original Cornish Buoy Band

Our correspondent John Kitching reviews the Fisherman's Friends - The Musical. Who would have thought that a film about a group of working fishermen from Port Isaac who meet up in their local pub to sing sea shanties would be a success, but that's just what happened in 2019. Fast forward to 2022 and it's now a critically acclaimed stage musical. I didn't really know what to expect of the show having never seen the film, but I was pleasantly shocked by…

Peter Pan A Magical Evening For All

Peter Pan is Be Amazing Arts’ third production at Eden Camp and promises "a magical evening for all the family and is sure to kick start your winter season with a festive sparkles" says writer and director Roxanna Klimaszewska. Following the build of Eden Camp’s brand new Heritage Hall, the team at Be Amazing Arts jumped at the opportunity to build inside a custom made theatre, with the result of J. M Barrie’s classic being brought to life in Yorkshire during…

Disco Fever Takes Over The Alhambra

John Kitching has been booging at Bradford's Alhambra If you go down to Bradford Alhambra to see Saturday Night Fever this week you may want to make sure you pack your boogie shoes as the theatre is transformed into a 1970’s New York disco. Judging by the audience reaction on the opening night they would all like to be up on the dance floor strutting their moves. Based on the iconic 1977 film of the same name Saturday Night Fever follows…

Absurd Person Singular Fifty Years On

A major Alan Ayckbourn story broken by guest writer, Andrew Liddle Fifty years after Alan Ayckbourn’s ground-breaking play Absurd Person Singular had its world premiere at Scarborough’s Library Theatre, an exciting discovery has been made about its origins. Sir Alan’s most famous play, a comic masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s’ suburbia, a potent…

Guy Fawkes A Rip Roaring Play

{13}All credit to Charlie Kilpatrick for his rehearsal photography and trailer, and the infectious enthusiasm for Director Gemma Fairlie and her selected cast on social media, all of whom succeeded in making us feel we’d be missing out if we didn’t come to see David Reed’s hilarious new take on one of the most notorious tales of all time. Writer David also played the lead role Guy Fawkes, and was perfect for the part; I was particularly enamoured with his deep,…

The Cher Show: This Must Be What Candy Floss Tastes Like

The Cher Show: A New Musical hits the Bradford Alhambra this week (26 - 29 October 2022) and it packs in more Cher songs than you even knew you knew. As the show's publicity machine so accurately says: "It's a roller-coaster ride through Cher's life as Goddess warrior of pop turned Hollywood royalty, from a young kid with big dreams, to the dizzying heights of global stardom". The production makes clever use of three performers with belting voices to illustrate three…

Orpheus. An Extraordinary Reimagining Of Monteverdi's Classic Opera

At least four years in the making and drawing on the talents of many dozens of people, the long-term South Asian Arts and Opera North collaboration has finally emerged. Like a butterfly blossoming from a chrysalis and, after a long gestation where the component parts dissolve into each other to make something entirely new, this collaboration has produced a thing of great beauty. Based on Monteverdi’s late Renaissance/early Baroque opera Orpheus, with a libretto by Alessandro Striggio, the opera draws on…

Susie Blake Chats About Her Role As Miss Marple In the Mirror Crack’d

In the last of our interviews, Susie Blake, best known for playing the Continuity Announcer in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV, as well as her regular roles of Bev Unwin in ITV’s Coronation Street and Hillary Nicholson in BBC’s Mrs Brown’s Boys, chats about her role as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd. Was Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple always on your wish list of roles to play? Yes, since the 1960s when I saw Margaret Rutherford playing her.…

Noughts & Crosses A Play For Our Time

Group Editor Andrew Palmer chats to the director and some of the cast who are touring the North with The Pilot Theatre production of Noughts & Crosses which was seen by over 30,000 people on tour with 40% of the audience being aged under 20. It went on to win Pilot Theatre the award for Excellence in Touring at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards. Ambling across York University campus on an extremely hot day, I eventually find the Dixon Drama Studio…

Sondheim Would Be Smiling On Leeds

Like a good wine, James Brining’s production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music has matured beautifully in the 12 months since I last saw this gloriously naughty musical at Leeds Playhouse. Then, it was rich in character, sets and nuance, however, this time, it is as if the director has wrung every last ounce of potential out of the late master’s creation: it was the same show but, somehow, different. Dialogue delivery was seamless – as was Opera North’s magnificent orchestra –…

A Mesmerising Riot Act

Our roving theatre reviewers Emilie Moon and Claire Haddleton had a riotous time in the STUDIO at York Theatre Royal Alexis Gregory’s Riot Act was nothing short of outstanding. We were lucky enough to catch this show in the intimate Studio theatre at the York Theatre Royal, sitting just metres from the actor himself. The stage was bare except for one chair with two changes of clothes on it, a spotlight and Alexis. We had absolutely no idea what to…

Fantastically Great Women WHO Changed The World

Whilst this is a show that everyone would enjoy whatever their background, age or gender, this show should be a ‘must see’ on every school curriculum. ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’ shadows an eleven-year-old Jade, who fears she has been forgotten about and has been left behind whilst on her school trip to a local gallery. Jade takes refuge in the Gallery of Greatness where she is unwittingly drawn into a series of exciting adventures each led by…

Mikron Theatre's Wild And Wonderful World Of Weather

In a bright and breezy new play by Mikron newcomer Lindsay Roden, the uber-talented and always hard working cast of just four treat us to a whirlwind history of the weather / climate change and all things meteorological. For those who don't know Mikron (where have you been?), they are a delightfully small and permanently touring force of nature. Whisking in an out of unlikely venues - mine was the Wetherby Whaler in Guiseley - Mikron spend much of their Summer…

Sensitive, Hilarious & Emotional – Poet’s Take On Dementia

Playwright, Frances Poet, has a wonderful ear for northern dialogue that translates beautifully to her latest play, Maggie May: a caring, humorous and emotionally heart-wrenching take on dementia. My dad suffered from the same affliction but, despite the perceived tragedy of this ‘disease’, we once found ourselves rolling in the aisles at ‘Jimmy’s’ hospital after he dramatically shouted ‘duck’; we all did. “My God,” he said, “that train just missed you!” Seconds later, ‘normality’ returned! And that is dementia, so beautifully articulated…

The Cher Show – Three Cheers For Cher!

What a fabulous show! Written by Rick Elice and directed by Arlene Phillips, The Cher Show tells the story of Cher’s spectacular rise to fame from humble beginnings living in California to the global stardom she now enjoys. The show races through the decades charting Cher’s strengths and vulnerabilities, whilst highlighting her complicated relationship with Sonny and the eventual breakdown of their marriage, the constant pressures that inevitably accompany fame, her new found relationships, and of the millions earned, lost and…

Joe Pasquale Returns To The North In Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

Hilarious mishaps and DIY disasters are bringing the house down, quite literally, as Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em hits the road with Joe Pasquale (New Faces, I’m a Celebrity, Spamalot, The Producers) as the lovable accident-prone Frank Spencer, written & directed by Guy Unsworth the adaptation of the hit TV show is coming to Blackpool. Betty has exciting news for Frank, but he’s preoccupied by possible newfound fame as a magician. With guests arriving for dinner and crossed wires all around,…

Interview With Debbie Kurup - The Cher Show

The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame, flying in the face of convention at every turn. This new production features a fresh take on her show-stopping costumes which earned her the title of 'the ruler of outré reinvention'. In a dazzling glitterfest sparkling with Cher’s signature wit and style, the music features her biggest hits, including If I Could Turn Back Time, Strong Enough, Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, The Shoop Shoop Song, I Got You

SIX – Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived!

From the Tudor queens of our history lessons to the pop princesses of today, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take to the stage to tell their stories, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute celebration of 21st century girl power. It is a tale you won’t have read about in lessons and certainly puts a differing perspective on anything learnt in the school room! Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the Six Queens…

Charles Brunton Talks To Us About Bedknobs And Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is winging its way north and makes a final appearance at the Sunderland Empire before the show closes. When the three orphaned Rawlins children are reluctantly evacuated from wartime London to live with the mysterious Eglantine Price, they have no idea what adventures lie ahead. Discovering Eglantine to be a trainee witch, they join forces to search for a secret spell that will defeat the enemy once and for all. Armed with an enchanted bedknob, a bewitched…

Interview With Steve Coogan Ahead Of The Alan Partridge Live Tour

After 13 long years, the one and the only Alan Partridge is back on our live stages. Not that Norfolk’s beloved son has been idle in the interviewing years. Far from it. There have been published memoirs (the first of which was I Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan), a film (Alpha Papa), a web series (Mid Morning Matters), documentaries (such as his caustic look at the state of Britain in Scissored Isle), a podcast (From The Oasthouse) and,…

Mikron Theatre Company Celebrate 50 Years Of Touring

The celebrated Huddersfield theatre company Mikron Theatre is set to continue its 50th anniversary celebrations this May with the premiere of Red Sky At Night, Lindsay Rodden’s (Here, Northern Stage and Curious Monkey) new play about the everyday topic we all talk about – the weather. Through the chronicles of history, people have gazed up and marvelled at the mysteries of the weather. Generations have tried to master the elements and understand the magic of the skies. Hayley’s sunny, beloved dad…

Reviewing The Osmonds - A New Musical

They sold over one hundred million records, their posters were displayed on many a teenagers' bedroom wall and they were probably one of the first American boy bands, yet up to now there has never been a musical to tell their official story. It is narrated by Jay Osmond, played by Alex Lodge, about his five brothers from Utah, pushed into the spotlight as children and who went on to create a series of smash hit records. The audience hear of the…

A Roar Of Praise For The Lion King

An exuberant, confident and magnificent Lion King strode into the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, this week with a stentorian roar. Behind came a tumultuous entourage of elephants, zebras, antelopes, giraffes and cheetahs emerging from the stalls in a parade and blaze of colour, clamorous sound and technological wizdarary that would put Harry Potter to shame. The weather may have been cooling down outside but the inspirational set, music and performers warmed the cockles of the heart of the mixed aged audience if…

50 Years Of Mikron Theatre -Raising Agents

Mikron Theatre, one of the country’s most versatile touring theatre companies, is delighted to announce that from April it will commence celebrations of 50 years of touring with an exciting remount of its hugely successful 2015 production of Maeve Larkin’s (Best Foot Forward, Mikron Theatre) play about the Women’s Institute - Raising Agents. Featuring music written by Mikron’s Marsden neighbours, the acclaimed folk duo O’Hooley and Tidow (Gentleman Jack, BBC), the anniversary tour, which will also see the premiere of a…

Graham Clark Chats To Emma Price From Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director Carlos Acosta promises entertainment for all ages when he brings an explosion of Spanish sunshine, spectacular dance and vivacious comedy to the Sunderland Empire. In a new production created especially for Birmingham Royal Ballet, Don Quixote introduces the audience to Cervantes’ famous knight himself, lovers Kitri and Basilio, and a host of supporting characters.…

Phoenix Dance Theatre Mark 40 Years

Phoenix Dance Theatre present their exciting birthday programme at Leeds Playhouse this week. To celebrate their milestone 40th birthday they are bringing together a range of work from across the Company’s illustrious history, culminating in a special celebratory gala. 40 Years of Phoenix features an eclectic selection of work by internationally acclaimed, award-winning choreographers, including former Artistic Directors and collaborators. Artistic Director Dane Hurst says: “The 40 Years of Phoenix programme encapsulates the depth, breadth and complexity of dance in…

Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical Roars Into Stockton Globe

After a multi-million pound refurbishment Stockton’s 1931 Art Deco theatre The Globe, staged the first week long musical since the building re-opened back in the autumn. Tastefully restored to its former glory I was impressed with the sight lines, the comfortable seating with good leg room and the predominantly green decor of the 3,000 seater venue. Shows do not come more bigger, bolder and brash than Bat Out Of Hell. Based on the songs of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman the…