Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: King Charles III at Newcastle Theatre Royal

“I Never Thought I’d See The Day”
King Charles III
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 3rd October 2015.

It is unusual for a play not to be either fictional or about a past event. It seems rare for a play to be set in the future about people that we know about now.  When a play strays into predicting the future it enters a minefield: is it plausible that people will react in such a way? The success of King Charles III relies on the acceptance of its interpretation of its crystal ball.

It opens with 12 mourners holding a vigil as Queen Elizabeth II has died. They are singing a requiem which fills the auditorium and set the early tone. Very quickly afterwards the principle characters are introduced and the audience laughs as they recognise the personalities. William (Ben Righton) and Kate (Jennifer Bryden) are very statesmanlike and aware of how they appear. Harry (Richard Glaves) is the socialite who cannot get away from the family fast enough. Camilla (Penelope Beaumont) is starting to come out of the wings.

The central character is of course Charles, played by the fabulous Robert Powell, who has possibly over thought his role. He decides he will have weekly meetings not only with the Prime Minister (Tim Treloar) but also the leader of the opposition (Giles Taylor). Events come to a head when the new king refuses to sign a new piece of legislation. He feels he can exploit the concept that Britain is not run on a constitution but on tradition. Add into the mix that Harry falls in love with Jess (Lucy Phelps), a girl from Reading that he meets in a club.  

The script by Mike Bartlett has a feel of a really good modern day Shakespearian play. There is the love story between royalty and commoner; the angst building up between monarch and his parliament and a press secretary (Dominic Jephcott) who likes to stick his oar in. To cap it all there is even a ghost as Diana (Beatrice Walker) wonders though the set making remarks to Charles and William. The dialogue often has that poetic musicality of Shakespeare’s work and is not afraid to use Yoda-like sentence construction.

Jocelyn Pook has composed a score which sets the emotions well. Couple this with the careful direction under Rupert Goold and you have a production which draws the audience in.

The story is thought provoking. Beyond the “could they do it”, it also questions the role of the monarch in their handling of state affairs. The cut and thrust of fast moving political debate is set against potential constitutional upheaval.

King Charles III is an intelligent and sometimes amusing story that could predict the future better than Back To The Future did.  Robert Powell leads a strong cast in a show that is well worth seeing.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

King Charles III appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 28th September – Saturday 3rd October 2015.
Tickets from £14.50 (pay 50p less per ticket when you book online).
Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21, (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge) or select your own seat and book online at

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Review: The Tempest at Newcastle Northern Stage

The Tempest
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 10th October 2015

Photo: Topher McGrillis

The Northern Stage is host to a fascinating take on Shakespeare’s Tempest. It is a production that uses original music and cunning design to bring alive a tale of revenge, love and forgiveness.

Photo: Topher McGrillis
After working on Eastenders, as well as for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, Tyrone Huggins appears as Prospero. His character has been robbed of his kingdom and he is keen to take revenge on his brother. With his daughter Miranda (Jade Ogugua) and the flirty spirit Ariel (Eileen Walsh) he awaits their arrival after a shipwreck near his island.

Photo: Topher McGrillis
The set is enchanting – made up of carefully arranged clothing, it looks like designer Becs Andrews has been a regular visitor to the local charity shops. The set enables the cast to effectively blend into the background. The arrival of Hannah McPake and Pete Peverley from the set often resulted in some of the lighter moments of the show.

Photo: Topher McGrillis
The Tempest features a great cast, which quickly won the audience over with the washing machine at the start. John Paul Connolly has great presence as King Alonso. Gary Kitching is very comfortable as Prospero’s brother Antonio. Tony Bell as drunken butler Stephano has great scenes with the highly expressive Trinculo (Hannah McPake).

Photo: Topher McGrillis
When Miranda falls in love with Ferdinand (Christopher Price) it results in the longest lecture about awaiting for the wedding from he father. Shakespeare has a way with words!

Photo: Topher McGrillis
In addition to Phelim McDermott’s enchanting direction there is original music performed live by its creator Brendan Murphy. The score added a special dimension to the show, through his use of some unusual instruments. At times the gentle music and the waving clothes give an almost In The Night Garden feel to proceedings.

Photo: Topher McGrillis
The show has lighter moments thanks to the great work by the cast especially with the mischief of Ariel. Phelim has let the story fly.

This is a production that will capture the fans of the Bard hook, line and sinker.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

On The Web:

Photo: Topher McGrillis
The Tempest comes to Newcastle’s Northern Stage from Friday 25th September - Saturday 10th October 2015
Tickets: £24, £19.50, £14.50 / £12 Students under 21s

Box Office: or 0191 230 5151

Monday, 28 September 2015

News: Industry talk & Musical Theatre Workshops

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 Industry Talks and Musical Theatre Workshops 
from the Star of The Buddy Holly Story

Glen Joseph - Industry Talk
Saturday 10th October

West End Performer and Director, Glen Joseph, is best known for his role as Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story in the West End, UK Tours, Germany & New Zealand, appearing in West End productions of Footloose & Dreamboats & Petticoats, and throughout his career has collectively performed to over one million people. This workshop is aimed at intermediate to advanced actors, or those who wish to pursue a professional career in Performing Arts. Following a brief introduction, Glen will offer the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about our industry including, showreels, head shots, CVs and how to give yourself the best opportunity at the audition. Glen will offer each performer feedback on their approach and respective portfolio, as well as working with each performer individually to access their potential problem areas. Please bring with you any material you want feedback on.

11am - 12.30pm Saturday 10th October - Tickets £15
Industry talk tickets are at this link:

Glen Joseph - Musical Theatre Masterclass
Saturday 10th October

West End Performer and Director, Glen Joseph, is best known for his role as Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story in the West End, UK Tours, Germany & New Zealand, appearing in West End productions of Footloose & Dreamboats & Petticoats, and throughout his career has collectively performed to over one million people. This workshop is aimed at intermediate to advanced performers, or those who wish to pursue a professional career in Musical Theatre. In this workshop, after a small introduction, and some practical exercises, each actor will have the chance to perform for Glen in the form of a mock audition, and will receive critique along the way; he will be focussing on acting through song, delivery, technique and overall professional quality.  Please wear comfortable clothing for the workshop.

3pm - 4.30pm Saturday 10th October - Tickets £15.
Musical Theatre link here:

Preview: FOOTLOOSE:The Musical at Newcastle Tyne Theatre

FOOTLOOSE: The Musical
Starring Gareth Gates
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th July 2016

Worldwide smash hit musical Footloose: The Musical will burst back onto the stage in 2016, playing at Tyne Theatre & Opera House from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th July 2016 as part of a major new UK Tour.
Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet. Featuring classic 80s hits including Holding Out for a Hero,Almost ParadiseLet’s Hear it for the Boy and the unforgettable title track, Footloose: The Musical is set to take the world by storm once again in this brand new production, bursting with youthful spirit, dazzling dance and electrifying music.
When the film was released in 1984, it became the highest-grossing February release in US film history.  The soundtrack album ended the year-long reign of Michael Jackson’s Thriller at number one and went on top album charts all over the world, eventually selling in excess of 17 million copies.  Footloose was nominated for a Golden Globe, and both the title song and Let’s Hear It for the Boy received Academy Award nominations. Footloose: The Musical first opened on Broadway in 1998 where it ran for 709 performances, with a London production following in 2006, opening at the Novello Theatre following a UK Tour.
Footloose: The Musical has music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and is adapted for the stage by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. It is based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford. It is directed and choreographed by Racky Plews (American Idiot, West End). It is produced by David Hutchinson and Phillip Rowntree for Sell A Door Theatre Company and Tristan Baker & Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment. It is presented by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe.
FOOTLOOSE: The Musical Starring Gareth Gates comes to Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th July 2016.
Tickets: £32.50 Premium, £28.50 Stalls, Grand Circle & Limited View, £25.50 Upper Circle, £22.50 Gallery.   (plus booking fees when booking online and over the phone)
The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
More information at our Website:


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Preview: Music at Sunderland Empire Autumn 2015

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A host of one night spectaculars are set to rock the Sunderland Empire stage this Autumn, starting with the return of Steve Steinman as Barron Von Rockula in the all new Vampires Rock Saga Ghost Train (Thursday 8 October). As Club Live and Let Die burns to the ground, Barron Von Rockula flees the ill-fated club with his band of blood sucking vampires in search of a new home. Eventually they come across an old abandoned fairground ride, the Ghost Train where they take refuge and make this their new home. The Barron and his motley crew then set a cunning plan to lure victims into the ride and to live in Rock n Roll hell forever.

Along with Steve Steinman a full cast of singers, dancers, formidable band and aerial performers, blast their way through some of the greatest classic rock anthems of all time. Tracks made famous by some of the best known artists of all time such as Meat Loaf, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Cher, White Snake and Guns and Roses plus many more. All teamed with an amazing stage set and pyrotechnics to blow your mind.

Due to popular demand, reggae legends UB40 have confirmed extra UK live dates including a date at Sunderland Empire (Friday 9 October). UB40 are Robin Campbell (co-lead vocals and guitar), Duncan Campbell (lead vocals) Earl Falconer (bass, vocal), Brian Travers (sax and keyboards), Jimmy Brown (drums), Norman Hassan (percussion, vocals). The band also feature, Martin Meredith (sax) and Lawrence Parry (trumpet), who have both been in UB40’s touring line-up for over twenty years, and Tony Mullins (keyboards).

Naming themselves after the unemployment benefit form, UB40 formed in 1978, before releasing their debut album ‘Signing Off’ in August 1980 – considered by many to be one of the greatest reggae albums ever released by a British band. It was the start of a career that has since seen the band have over forty UK Top 40 hit singles and achieve sales of over 100 million records, making UB40 one of the most successful British groups of all-time. The band’s latest Top 30 album ‘Getting Over The Storm’ was awarded BBC Radio 2’s ‘Album Of The Week’ accolade and received 5-star reviews from the UK’s music press on its release in September 2013. Read the full North East Theatre Guide Preview here.

The Illegal Eagles have been thrilling audiences nation-wide for over 18 years and look forward once again to returning to the road in 2015 calling at Sunderland Empire on Saturday 10 October. Following a number of critically acclaimed UK & international tours and headlining countless concerts and festivals, the band have established themselves as not only the Official No.1 tribute to The Eagles, but as one of the foremost authentic and talented theatrical experiences in the world!

Extremely tight harmonies and an acute attention to detail have always been synonymous with The Illegal Eagles. Members Phil Aldridge, Keith Atack, Al Vosper, Darin Murphy, Garreth Hicklin and award-winning vocalist Greg Webb’s ability to capture the emotion of Don Henley’s vocal deliveries have ensured that critical and audience acclaim has been unanimous.
This latest production brings you all the classics - Hotel California, Take It Easy, Take it to the Limit, Lyin’ Eyes, Tequila Sunrise, Life in the Fast Lane, One of These Nights, Witchy Woman, Rocky Mountain Way, Heartache Tonight and a whole lot more!

One Night of Queen, performed by Gary Mullen and The Works hits the stage on Sunday 8 November. In 2000, Gary Mullen won ITV’s “Stars In Their Eyes” Live Grand Final, with the largest number of votes ever received in the shows history.  The record of 864,838 votes was more than twice that of the runner-up.  Gary began touring on his own and in 2002 formed a band ‘The Works’, to pay tribute to rock legends Queen.  Since May 2002, ‘Gary Mullen and the Works’ have performed throughout the UK, USA, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand to sell-out audiences.  The outfit have also twice rocked the prestigious BBC Proms in the Park, in front of a very enthusiastic crowd of 40,000. One Night of Queen is a spectacular live concert, recreating the look, sound, pomp and showmanship of arguably the greatest rock band of all time.

Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at
*Booking fees and charges apply to telephone and online bookings.
Box Office: 0844 871 3022*
Groups 10+: 0844 871 3042
*Booking fee applies

Preview: Hitler’s Headquarters at Newcastle’s Victoria Tunnel

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New play takes North East theatre-goers underground

Hitler’s Headquarters
Newcastle’s Victoria Tunnel
Monday 28th September – Sunday 11th October 2015

Theatre-goers in the region can enjoy a one-off cultural experience beneath the streets of Newcastle this September and October. 

Twenty Seven Productions is working with the Ouseburn Trust to stage a World War 2-themed play in
Newcastle’s Victoria Tunnel.

‘Hitler’s Headquarters’ will look at real life in Newcastle during some of the most severe bombings of the conflict and tell the stories of families who were made homeless and forced to take shelter beneath the city.
The Victoria Tunnel is a preserved 19th century wagon-way reaching from the Town Moor to the Tyne and in the 1800s was used to transport coal from Spital Tongues Colliery to the river. However, in 1939, the tunnel was converted into an air raid shelter to protect thousands of Newcastle citizens during World War 2.
In 2008, the Victoria Tunnel was carefully repaired and opened for guided tours with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and TyneWear Partnership. Since 2010 the Ouseburn Trust has operated guided tours with fully trained volunteer guides.
Twenty Seven Productions has been given exclusive access to perform its play, which can only be staged in front of an audience of 20 people at a time.
Twenty Seven Productions is an independent film and theatre production company, founded by Victoria Gibson, daughter of Boro Chairman, Steve Gibson, and Christopher Linton. The company stages a variety of live performances around the UK, supporting emerging talent.

Victoria Gibson said: “This is a whole new cultural experience for anyone interested in either the North East’s rich heritage or unusual stage productions. It’s nothing like the average play in a regular theatre as the audience will actually feel part of the whole experience- and get to see the magnificent Victoria Tunnel.

“As a production company, Twenty Seven Productions is committed to different and exciting live performances and nurturing the best new talent. We always work to push the boundaries of film and theatre and Hitler’s Headquarters illustrates this perfectly.”

Hitler’s Headquarters comes to The Victoria Tunnels in Newcastle on the Monday 28th September and runs until the Sunday 11th October, with two shows a day at 4pm and 7pm; each show is an hour long in duration. Due to the nature of the show, we have limited availability so booking is absolutely essential.

Tickets are priced at £15 for adults and £10 for concessions. Booking can be done at 
Should you require a group booking please call the booking hotline – 0333 666 3366  and have your card information ready. Please note that for customers booking via the telephone hotline, an extra £1.50 will be charged for booking fee.

For your own safety, we cannot admit anyone with mobility difficulties onto any of our shows.