Celebrating 25 years and a vibrant future for the Playhouse

Built to house exceptional theatre and to be rooted in the heart of Leeds’ communities, this March West Yorkshire Playhouse celebrates 25 years of inspirational work on Quarry Hill. In 1964 a group of 23 passionate drama lovers, headed by Doreen Newlyn, began a campaign to secure a permanent and professional producing theatre for the city. In 1969 the then ‘Leeds Playhouse’ moved into a temporary home at the University of Leeds. Determined to find something more lasting they continued to battle for a resident theatre in the city centre. On 8 March 1990 West Yorkshire Playhouse threw open its doors to the people of Leeds and since then more than 4 million people have seen a show on one of the Playhouse stages.  322 productions have been staged, and a far-reaching programme of education and outreach work has been created and delivered across the city and beyond.


25 years on and the Playhouse is a vital cultural hub for the city, a compelling creative force driven by the city’s desire to see original drama in Leeds. Today Artistic Director James Brining continues to challenge with a diverse programme of arresting theatre that reflects society today. Reworking classic texts for the 21st century such as the award-winning contemporary production of Sweeney Todd set in 1980s Thatcher Britain and his inventive take on Bennett’s Enjoy, which scrutinised reality TV, sit in tandem with new initiatives such as A Play, A Pie and A Pint performed in the bar and brand new plays which inspire and excite, such as Maxine Peake’s critically acclaimed Beryl which will tour the UK later this year and Zodwa Nyoni’s Boi Boi is Dead.


Collaboration has always been important and the Playhouse continues to partner innovative and exciting organisations across the country. On-going relationships with The Royal Exchange Theatre, Kneehigh, Headlong, Birmingham Rep and new associations with companies such as the egg in Bath and Tiata Fahodzi allow the work of the Playhouse to be seen outside of Yorkshire widening the reach of our own productions.


Artistic Director James Brining comments…

The significance of this theatre being built close to the city centre 25 years ago was huge. Moving the Playhouse from the intellectual grounds of Leeds University right into the heart of the city’s communities suddenly opened it up like never before. Cementing the relationship between great drama, accessibility and community outreach work has always been a driving force for West Yorkshire Playhouse. It is my vision as Artistic Director to open up what we do even further.  New initiatives include a Youth Theatre, a Community Ambassadors Scheme, Dementia Friendly productions, touring our work to community venues, establishing a third production space and a raft of artist development opportunities to sit alongside our programme of world class, cutting edge and popular theatre.


The next few years promise much as Brining and his team secure a dynamic future for the theatre. The implementation of a comprehensive talent development programme which includes supporting directors, writers, actors, designers, technicians and theatre makers to hone their practice, helps to discover upcoming creative talent. From simple initiatives such as free space to experiment to longer residencies in which artists are supported on all levels from grant applications to professional research & development advice. Alongside this a Capital Development project is planned in which the theatre would turn to face the city it continues to be inspired by.  Together with revamping the iconic stages, new spaces will be created for rehearsal and performance, as well as vibrant spaces for workshops, meetings and creative thinking. This significant redevelopment mirrors the determination set out 25 years ago for vibrant, forward thinking and accessible theatre in the city.


Alongside the on-stage work the Playhouse continues to offer an extraordinary programme of unique outreach work with communities from across Yorkshire. Year on year the theatre’s engagement programme has grown, from its pioneering access work to its inclusive creative arts projects for older and young participants (including the creation in 2009 of the award-winning First Floor, a space dedicated to work for young people), to the development of a brand new strand of work for people living with dementia, their families and carers.


Committed to deepening the Playhouse’s engagement across communities Brining continues to introduce and support new initiatives that cement relationships in the community. He began by introducing a Youth Theatre; now with over 160 attendees it is about to enter its 3rd year. Members have developed their own devised work, worked with professional writers to create and stage two new plays, they have performed and worked alongside  professional casts as well as regularly performing for friends and family. Last year a new community ambassador programme was created to cement the theatre’s relationships with its surrounding communities. Brining’s production of Talking Heads by Alan Bennett toured seven community venues playing to audiences who may not ordinarily engage with the Playhouse, championed by ambassadors from each community. This spring the second community tour will begin; Little Sure Shot is a family show full of theatrical magic found in a live theatre performance.


Community attendees commented,
Bringing theatre to the inner-city – Brilliant idea!’ ‘…this gives us all a chance to see plays on our own doorsteps’


From vast Quarry stage productions of major texts like James Brining’s The Crucible to individually tailored community projects like First Floor’s Buzz Art Awards West Yorkshire Playhouse at 25 is a vital artistic, a community hub for Leeds to be proud of with a vibrant and vital future ahead.


Playhouse Chairman Sir Rodney Brooke said,

The Playhouse has a long history of creating excellent theatre which stretches back to its days in its temporary home on the Leeds University campus. It was championed by the people of Leeds, and built out of a desire for access to great plays right here in the city centre. Today the Playhouse has even more to offer. It is a vibrant, exciting and endlessly creative company which champions everything from great classic drama to new writing, talent development to education and outreach work. It is full of vitality and we are looking forward to a bright and entertaining future.


Vampires Rock Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 26 February 2015

Vampires Rock finally made it to Darlington Civic after lead singer, Steve Steinman, had to postpone due to ill health in January.

And it was worth the wait, playing to an Army of fans in a packed house, the show, in it’s 13 year and last incarnation,  was one of the best versions ever.

Set in the Live and Let Die club in the year 2030, Vampires Rock tells the story of Baron Von Rockula (Steinman) searching for a new singer for the club and new virgin bride for himself.  Enter sweet and innocent Pandora (Hayley Russell) and a love story is played out before our eyes.  With a background of some rock classics.  Starting with Welcome to the Jungle, followed by Highway to Hell and with many others in between; Total Eclipse, Since You’ve Been Gone, Bat out of Hell amongst the many.

Totally spectacular this year is the vocally outstanding Victoria Jones and her amazing version of China in your Hand, even better than the T’Pau original.

Comedy comes in the form of deviant janitor Bossley (John Evans) the perfect foil for Von Rockula.  Although in the second half, in a Freddie Mercury-esque jump suit, Evan’s raises the audience and the roof with the start of the rock n roll party at the end of the show.

The musicians belt out the numbers, and proving not only can they play but they can sing,  Richie Barlow, Mary Marcia Garner in particular.  And a circus like performance with fire dancing displays some  breath taking aerial dancing from Chloe Bass.

Yes it’s cheesy, it’s pantomime, with lots of audience interaction and breaking of the fourth wall.  But its a winning formula that works.  But now with a new ending which leads into the new story of Vampires Rock – The Ghost Train, the original is having a rest and I for one can’t wait to see the new show when it begins touring later on this year


20 Questions with ….. John Owen-Jones


In a special treat this week, to help with the launch of his new CD “RISE”, we have a second set of 20 questions.  I’m delighted to introduce singer, writer, director and welsh wonder … John Owen-Jones

Lets start with a few favourites

1. Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)? 


2. Favourite book? 


3. Favourite theatre? 


4. Favourite song? 


5. Favourite music? 


6. Favourite food? 


7. Favourite line from any show? 


8. What was your favourite role? 


9. What role would you really love to play? 


10. What was your first role? 


11. If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be? 


12. If you weren’t a brilliant singer what would you be? 


13. What advice would you give 16 year old John? 


14. What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed? 


15. I’ve been lucky enough to see you live a few times and I’ve seen the excitement at Stage Door. What are the nicest/weirdest things you’ve ever received from fans? 


16. You’ve acted on tv a few times, would you like to do a straight play on stage rather than a musical? 


17. Have you considered doing a full performance of Phantom or Les Mis in Welsh? 


18. Madonna once said she gets bored singing “Like a Virgin” but knows she owes the song for her career. So she always changes it to a different type of performance. Do you ever want to change “Bring Him Home” or “Music of the Night” to a reggae version or maybe rap? Or maybe a beatbox version? 


19. Do you fancy moving into directing or producing? Or maybe writing your own musical? 


20. Can you tell us what you will be up to next? 


John’s CD “RISE” is available from Monday March 2nd and would make an ideal present for Mother’s Day

20 Questions with ….. Simon Naylor


Actor, Director and Writer Simon Naylor answered 20 questions

Some favourites

  1. Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)?

There’s so many and I think it depends what mood I’m in but the one show that left me speechless was ‘Chicken Shop’ by Anna Jordan. She’s written some incredible things and this one was simply outstanding. I can’t wait to see her latest work, ‘Yen’ at the Royal Exchange!

  1. Favourite book?

Another tough one! I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to books – I’m all about my vikings and gladiators and knights – Game of Thrones and anything by Bernard Cornwell. As a bit of an ‘off-piste’ one, I loved ‘Brand New Friend’ by Mike Gayle – really needs to be made into a film!

  1. Favourite theatre?

Well, I think I’ve got to say the Wyndhams because it’s the first theatre I’ve performed in in the West End. There’s something pretty special about getting off the tube at Leicester Square and heading to work at one of the big ones! I do also love The Landor – it’s so intimate that it’s almost like TV.

  1. Favourite song?

Erm….again, it’s all about what mood I’m in. I sometimes love a bit of old school dance, anything by Oasis (obviously!) and right now my running tune is Carry On by Fun – when the drums kick in I can’t help but speed up!

  1. Favourite music?

I’m afraid I’m going to annoy a lot of people, but I really do like a lot of stuff. It all depends where I am and what I’m doing. From Cafe Del Mar to Robbie Williams I’m a bit eclectic. It can be embarrassing having my iPhone on shuffle! What you won’t find on there is anything that Radio 1 play after 6pm on a Friday night – rubbish!

  1. Favourite food?

Well, when I’m eating out, it’s going to take a strong menu to tear me away from a burger. I’m definitely a man of simple tastes when it comes to food. SoLita is a new discovery to me and the burgers there are bloody marvellous! (Can I swear?!)

  1. Favourite line from any show?

haha Well, ‘Joey doesn’t share food’ has always rang true with me but I guess until Friends is made into a stage show I can’t have that one. Proctor from ‘The Crucible’ has so many amazing quotes – everything he says is epic! ‘I will fall like an ocean on that court’ is maybe one of the best. So so many….

  1. What is your favourite role?

My favourite role without question is my last role. I played Harper in The Glasshouse at The Tristan Bates Theatre. It was a character that I’d worked with on and off for over a year and I was incredibly fortunate that the writer, Max Saunders-Singer wrote it for me. He is a brilliant writer and allowed me to bring in so many of my own ideas – it was a delight to play him. He was unlike any other character I’ve played before and I’d love the producers, Grindstone, to bring it back!

  1. What was your first role?

My first role I think was a moonbeam in a pantomime – I don’t remember it at all! My first professional job on stage was in Bouncers at the Lichfield Garrick – a great piece. Godber is a genius! My first TV role was Primeval where I was a Security Guard that was eaten by a dinosaur! Glamorous!

  1. And what role would you really like to play?

Well obviously John Proctor. I played him at Drama School and would love to do it again. He’s brilliant. Also, I’d love to Play Eddie in A View from the Bridge – I guess I’m a fan of Arthur Miller! On TV, I’d just love to do anything that is meaty… Broadchurch was sensational. Chris Chibnall writes such amazing stuff – I’d love to be in something he’d written.

  1. If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be?

Ooh…good question! I’m not sure. My first thought was someone who owns their own island but I think that just means I need a holiday; and it’s a waste! I’d probably be the Queen – I’ve always wondered what she gets up to!!

  1. You’re clearly very talented and had a varied career, do you prefer writing, directing or performing?

Thank you! I will always have performing at the top – or at least for the foreseeable future. As I get older, I get more excited by directing as I want to put my stamp on things. Writing is more of something that just happens. I’ve only written a few things and it tends to be quite by accident. I have just converted one of my short plays, ‘IF’ into a full length play so we’ll see what happens with that!

  1. So to follow on, do you prefer TV or Theatre?

I’m going to be boring again – I think it depends! Some days I like TV, others theatre. They both do different things. There’s nothing that can beat the buzz of standing in the wings before a show or walking on stage for a curtain call. In TV though, I love the subtleties that it allows you to use; cameras see everything in detail that you might not see in a theatre.

  1. How did you get into marathon running?

If I’m honest I’m not sure! When I was at school I’d do ANYTHING to get out of cross country. In 2007 (I think!?) my mate asked if I wanted to do a 5k fundraiser run with him and it grew from there – half marathons, Spartan Race, Trailwalker (which was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done!) and now 3in3!

  1. If you weren’t a performer what would you be?

Richer! Erm…I wanted to be a soldier originally but I couldn’t as I have asthma! I guess what’s becoming clear is my ability to organise so maybe a producer. Is that allowed – it’s still to do with acting?! Marketing maybe?!

  1. What advice would you give 16 year old Simon?

Great question! First I’d say ‘save some money you idiot!’. Having said that, I’ve been really lucky and enjoyed myself with this career. I don’t know – difficult because I don’t think I’d want him to do much different. I’ve made some huge errors in my life but I think that’s supposed to happen!?

  1. What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed?

I’ve seen lots recently but I’ve tended to get more picky as I get old and bitter! It was sometime ago but I cannot forget Chicken Shop. I’ve rarely been moved so much by theatre.

  1. You taught at Italia Conti, did you enjoy spotting new talent?

Teaching has been incredible; at Conti and elsewhere. I’ve been so lucky to be able to continue doing what I love every day – it’s impossible for a lot of actors. It’s also great to see the students move through 3 years. I’ve seen quite a few graduate now and I still remember a lot of their auditions or first work for me. Conti is really holding it’s own with the big guns right now and some of the work that the graduates are getting is amazing. It’s great to see them on stage at the Globe or National or in huge films and TV shows. Auditions are still a favourite part of the teaching though – you never know who’s coming through the door next.

  1. What is your advice for anyone hoping to survive the Edinburgh Festival?

​Edinburgh! Myself and the festival have had a short and bumpy relationship. I’ve been to the festival lots and it is awesome! It’s like a 24 hour party, every day, for a month. So much theatre! When I performed there however, I realised that it might be a little over saturated. I genuinely think that to go there and be ‘spotted’ is a thing of the past; so, my advice! Go there, soak it up, gain an invaluable experience but at the same time, know that you WILL leave with a lighter wallet and that you might not get out of it the ‘fame and glory’ that you wanted. It’s brilliant, with the right mindset!

  1. Can you tell us what you will be up to next?

Mainly training, panicking and fundraising! At least until April! I’ve just moved back to Manchester where I’m from and so I’m spending a lot of time meeting people and getting into the ‘crowd’ up there. It’s quite exciting to have a lot of new people to get to know. I have a play that someone has asked me to look at and do with them and of course, like every other actor, waiting for the phone to ring!

Thank you so much for helping me

If you would like to sponsor Simon for his 3 in 3 Marathon you can do so here  




Shrek the Musical

A uniquely adapted version of the West End family favourite, Shrek The Musical, will be playing for one special performance at Newcastle Theatre Royal, which recently became the first theatre in the UK to be recognised for its work with autistic audience members.

The ‘relaxed performance’ of Shrek The Musical will take place on Tuesday 24 March at 2pm and is the first such performance since the Theatre was presented with its Autism Access Award from the National Autistic Society. Newcastle Theatre Royal is the first venue on Shrek The Musical UK and Ireland tour at which a relaxed performance is being held.

Dawn Taylor, Director of Operations at the Theatre said: “We were extremely proud to be presented with our AAA award last month and since then we’ve had more and more families and teachers getting in touch to find out about our relaxed performances. They are all so excited that we are providing a relaxed performance of Shrek The Musical, which will have all the same elements of the wonderful storyline but with the lighting, special effects and very loud noises reduced.”

Relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning disability or sensory and communication disorder into the Theatre. They have a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels and chill out zones are provided for any audience members feeling anxious.

Newcastle Theatre Royal also provides a ‘visual story’ to those attending the performance, to allow them to familiarise themselves with both the theatre and the themes of the show before arriving. And as a special one-off, face painters have been specially commissioned for the Shrek The Musical Relaxed Performance to help the children get into the spirit of the action both before the show and during the interval, for free.

Shrek The Musical is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Academy Award®-winning DreamWorks Animations feature film, featuring all new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I’m a Believer. Dean Chisnall stars as beloved swamp-dwelling ogre ‘Shrek’, the role he previously played in the West End, with Faye Brookes as damsel in distress ‘Princess Fiona’, Idriss Kargbo as Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick ‘Donkey’ and Gerard Carey as pint-sized villain ‘Lord Farquaad’.


The producers of Shrek The Musical UK and Ireland Tour said: “Following a highly successful relaxed performance at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane, we are delighted that the first relaxed performance of Shrek The Musical UK and Ireland Tour will take place at Newcastle Theatre Royal, especially following their recent Autism Access Award. These specially tailored performances welcome those audience members with autism or learning disabilities who might normally find it hard to attend and enjoy live theatre. We appreciate how important these performances are and we are committed to ensuring Shrek The Musical is a show the whole family can enjoy in a warm and inclusive environment, together.”

For more information about Shrek The Musical Relaxed Performance visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk or call Group Bookings on 08448 11 21 22.

Tickets go on sale for Berwick Kaler’s 37th panto at York Theatre Royal

From the moment Berwick Kaler announced he will be returning to York Theatre Royal next Christmas for his 37th writing and starring role in Dick Whittington (and his Meerkat) theatre-goers have been desperate to get their hands on tickets.

Avid panto fans often queue through the night to secure their favourite seats, with queues winding round the corner of St Leonards Place and onto Duncombe Place. The York Theatre Royal Box Office will open an hour early on Monday 2 March, where staff will serve tea and coffee to the loyal fans in the queue. Tickets will be available online at approximately 6.00pm the same day, with phone booking opening on Tuesday 3 March at 9.00am.

The much-loved Dame Berwick Kaler said of the new title

Old Mother Goose has been a phenomenal success and will be a hard act to follow, but Dick Whittington and his Meerkat has all the ingredients to turn it into another unique Theatre Royal blockbuster. My heartfelt thanks go out to our audiences who bring love and a sense of humour with them to make every show a joyous occasion for all concerned.

The pantomime will be the first production to take place after the theatre’s £4.1 million re-development. Audiences won’t miss a bit of the crazy panto action from the brand new Stalls seating, with excellent views from all rows. There will be wider, roomier seats in the Dress Circle, with much better access throughout the whole building. The panto audience will be able to enjoy interval drinks and pre-theatre food in a newly renovated café bar and when Berwick’s caused a

little too much laughing sparkling new loos will be a pleasure to visit, with more facilities and shorter queues.

We close our doors on Tuesday 17 March but until then our Box Office and café will be open as normal so we wanted everyone to know they can still buy tickets in person just like they always have – though we do hope this exciting new title will bring some new faces too. Who knows? You might even spot Berwick, or the odd Meerkat while you are queueing.

Said Damian Cruden, Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal.

York Theatre Royal’s pantomime, Dick Whittington (and his Meerkat) will run from Thursday 10 December 2015 – Saturday 30 January 2016. Tickets are priced from £32.50 – £12 (£1 transaction fee per booking). Visit www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or call the theatre Box Office on 01904 623568 for more information.


RSC LPN 2014 1 Credit Anthony Robling

York Theatre Royal, the Royal Shakespeare Company and York High School present The Head that Wears a Crown, where seven York schools will come together on Monday 16 March for a special festival re-imagining Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V.

The event is the culmination of a three year project through the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Learning and Performance Network (LPN), a long term partnership programme with schools and theatres across England. The York schools participating are York High School which acts as the main ‘hub’ school along with Acomb Primary, Applefields School, Poppleton Road Primary, St Barnabas CE Primary, Westfield Primary Community School and Woodthorpe Primary.

Julian Ollive, Education & Young Actors Associate and Festival Producer said:

York Theatre Royal is proud and privileged to be working alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and York High School in presenting The Head That Wears a Crown festival. We are excited to see the schools’ work on stage as this is the last performance in the auditorium before a major Capital re-development project. There doesn’t seem to be a more fitting tribute to the creative talents of our young people than that

Established in 2006, the programme works through partnerships between the schools, the Royal Shakespeare Company and York Theatre Royal over a three year period which aims to change

the way young people experience and engage with Shakespeare. The LPN targets schools and children who may have the least access to Shakespeare and the theatre, offering exciting and dynamic ways to learn in the classroom as well as opportunities to perform.

Brenda Elliott from St Barnabas CE Primary said:

We have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of working on the Learning and Performance Network. We have learnt many new techniques which we have used in the classroom and it has been a joy to work with experts and to have a final performance to aim for in March.

The LPN also benefits teachers by offering in-depth training in ways to approach presenting Shakespeare to children. The teachers, many of whom have taken part in the scheme for the past three year, have been given the opportunities of inset days at York Theatre Royal and guidance from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Cathryn Jackson at Acomb Primary commented:

After taking part in the Learning and Performance Network project I now feel that I won’t be so intimidated with our Head that Wears a Crown festival, having lived through the process already. I have a better understanding of how to plan an ensemble piece and more confidence in what 10 year old children are able to achieve with the right stimulus, motivation and enthusiasm.

The Head that Wears the Crown will comprise of eight specially created scenes telling the stories of Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V. Each school will perform under the direction of their class teacher, with consistent costumes and scenery giving the different pieces the feeling of one whole play, rather than eight individual performances. The performance is on Monday 16 March at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2 for children (£1 transaction fee per booking) and are on sale now via the York Theatre Royal Box Office on 01904 623568 or securely online at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

John Owen-Jones News

John Owen-Jones

Single ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ released 9 March 2015

Sweeney Todd at the ENO – Easter 2015


Award winning performer John Owen-Jones (Les Miserables/Phantom of The Opera) releases new single ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ in February 2015. A second track ‘Bread Of Heaven’ is also on the single CD. Both tracks are taken from his forthcoming album ‘RISE’ which is released on the 2nd March 2015.

The single, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ is familiar to most as the song that won Eurovision 2014. The song was chosen by John following a search for a Bond-esque track for the album.  Composer Grant Olding suggested the track and John vaguely knew it but “when I listened to it properly, I just knew I had to record it. I liked the song so much it even inspired the name of the album”. Bread of Heaven’ (re-imagined in the style of rock band Queen!) is a Welsh favourite that has been taken to heart by Welsh rugby fans as they look forward to the forthcoming Six Nations and Rugby World Cup tournaments.

‘RISE’ features twelve new tracks reflecting John’s lifelong love for music. Staying true to the West End and Broadway star’s theatrical roots, the album also broadens out to the worlds of gospel, soul, classic rock and, of course, Eurovision!  The album ‘RISE’ has two duets featuring West End stars Ruthie Henshall (currently in Billy Elliot) and Madalena Alberto (recently seen in Evita).

John will return to the London stage during Easter to play the role of ‘Pirelli’ in the English National Opera “staged concert” production of ‘Sweeney Todd’. The critically acclaimed production was a sell out for its short run at the Lincoln Center in New York last year and will have a strictly limited run of 13 performances at the London Coliseum Theatre from March 30th to April 12th. John will join previously announced stars Bryn Terfel (Sweeney Todd), Emma Thompson (Mrs Lovett).

John Owen-Jones has previously released two solo albums on the Sain label ‘John Owen-Jones’ in 2009 and ‘Unmasked’ in 2011. John, from Burry Port in South Wales, has enjoyed critical acclaim for his record breaking and award winning performances in the lead role of Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables (he remains the youngest actor to have played the role) and the title role in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (more performances in the role in the West End than any other actor).

Tour dates with Katherine Jenkins as Special Guest and Welsh dates

Wed 11 Feb Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thu 12 Feb Guildford G Live
Sat 14 Feb Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Sun 15 Feb Brighton Dome
Tue 17 Feb London Royal Festival Hall
Wed 18 Feb Bristol Colston Hall
Fri 20 Feb Plymouth Pavilions
Sat 21 Feb Bournemouth International Centre
Mon 23 Feb Sheffield City Hall
Wed 25 Feb York Barbican
Thu 26 Feb Edinburgh Usher Hall

Sat 28 Feb Gateshead Sage 1
Sun 1 Mar Wales At No. 1, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Mon 02 Mar Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Tue 03 Mar Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Thu 05 Mar Llandudno Venue Cymru Theatre

Sat 07 Mar Birmingham Symphony Hall

Sun 08 Mar Birmingham Symphony Hall

Tue 10 Mar Ipswich Regent

Wed 11 Mar Southend Cliff Pavilion

Fri 13 Mar Oxford New Theatre

Sat 14 Mar Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Mar 30 – April 12                    Sweeney Todd, Coliseum Theatre, London

Sat 18 April                        Morriston Orpheus Choir Gala Concert,

                                               Brangwyn Hall, Swansea





L-R: NAS Autism Accreditation Director - Robert Pritchett, Theatre Royal Director of Operations - Dawn Taylor, NAS Senior Accreditation Advisor - Christine Flintoft-Smith, Theatre Royal Panto Star Danny Adams Photo credit: Mark Ferguson
L-R: NAS Autism Accreditation Director – Robert Pritchett, Theatre Royal Director of Operations – Dawn Taylor, NAS Senior Accreditation Advisor – Christine Flintoft-Smith, Theatre Royal Panto Star Danny Adams
Photo credit: Mark Ferguson


Newcastle Theatre Royal is celebrating being the first theatre in the country to be honoured with the Autism Access Award from The National Autistic Society (NAS).

The award has been granted following a year-long project working with local schools, families and specialists to develop an all-inclusive approach to theatre in relation to the specific needs of theatre-goers with autism.

Newcastle Theatre Royal has already pioneered a highly popular programme of ‘relaxed performances, which this season includes Shrek The Musical and the ever-popular Theatre Royal pantomime, Dick Whittington.These specialist performances include tailored sound and lighting effects as well as a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels.

 But this award from the NAS moves a step beyond these specialist performances and looks at making the theatre and its productions accessible at any time of the year. Director of the NAS Accreditation scheme, Robert Pritchett, said: “Newcastle Theatre Royal’s engagement with local autism groups has enabled them to receive accurate and honest feedback that has supported them to establish new ways of working and viewing accessibility within the theatre.

“The Theatre Royal has made an enthusiastic and effective leap into the world of autism, the impact it has had on those that it has supported to come through its doors can be seen throughout all the positive feedback it receives and the success stories they have. It will be with excitement and anticipation that we await the coming year and see the developments and feedback that come from access to more public performances.”

Chief Executive of the Newcastle Theatre Royal, Philip Bernays, said: “We are extremely proud to be the first theatre in the UK to be granted this award from the National Autistic Society and we are very grateful for all the support and guidance they have given us.

“The whole team here at the Theatre have worked extremely hard towards this award and the positive feedback from our audience members with special needs makes all that hard work worthwhile.”

For more information on the Theatre Royal’s relaxed performances, please visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk or call our Group Sales on 08448 11 21 22.


20 Questions with ….. Lee Proud

cache_2412054874Choreographer, Director and fellow northerner Lee Proud answered 20 questions

Some favourites

Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)?

My Favourite show changes with my mood but I think if I had to choose, it would be Cats. I saved up for the LP when I was 11 and I wore it out. Gillian Lynne’s choreography for Cats still inspires, fascinates and moves me. The show completely fired my imagination at a young age and made me believe in the magic of theatre.

Favourite book?

My favourite book is The Stand by Stephen King. It’s an epic read and full of both supernatural and human drama. I also love anything by Irvine Welsh

Favourite theatre?

Favourite Theatre is probably Live Theatre in Newcastle my home town. Such a warm atmosphere and always an interesting and diverse programme

Favourite song?

My favourite song is Only Yesterday by The Carpenters. The optimism of the lyric married with the heartbreakingly sad orchestration reminds me that nothing lasts forever.

Favourite music?

Favourite music. It sounds clichéd but if I like it I like it! However, I love country music and I adore kd lang.

Favourite food?

I LOVE food. My favourite is a ham and pease pudding stottie!!! (Geordie delicacy!!)

Favourite line from any show?

My Favourite line from a show has to be in Gypsy when Mamma Rose says to Louise in the dressing room just before Louise’s debut strip – “Just remember, you’re a lady. And you are going to be a star”!  It’s such a great line…a very desperate situation but stoic, final and utterly camp!

If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be?

If I could be anyone else for the day? This is hard…hmmm..I’d probably be the Pope and be deliberately photographed coming out of every gay bar in London with a host of bare chested fellas… (to really annoy the religious anti gay lobby)

How did you get into choreographing?

I always liked choreographing, but I became the resident choreographer on Billy Elliot the Musical and I was massively influenced by Peter Darling whom I worked with closely for 7 years. As you get to a certain age you realise you have to re-invent your path within the industry you love.

You do a lot in the regions, do you believe they are equally as important as the west end?

I absolutely believe the regions are every bit as important as the West End if not more so. It is the frontline of theatre

What show would you love to choreograph ?

I’d love to choreograph Dreamgirls!!!! If any directors are listening out there!!!

I saw Gas Light on Grey Street which you directed so do you prefer choreographing or directing?

I like both. Choreography is more difficult physically, but they are equally mentally demanding. I tend to think my choreography through from a directors perspective though in terms of what is making the character tick. Why are they dancing is always the question, so the intention of the character is always driven through my work.

How did you get to write the degree course in Musical Theatre at Newcastle College?

I was the head of Musical Theatre at Newcastle College at the time they were bringing in the degree course so it seemed natural with my experience that I write it.

With your association with Newcastle how did you feel when the council slashed the Arts budget?

I was absolutely shocked, sad and angry. I just couldn’t believe it!! Thank God for Lee Hall!

If you weren’t a choreographer/director what would you be?

I would definitely work with homeless animals! Or any animals!!

What advice would you give 16 year old Lee?

Don’t smoke (I quit 5 years ago and it’s the best thing I ever did)

What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed?

Memphis. It was superb! It gave me the feeling I used to have as a youth when I was just in awe of everyone on the stage

Would you like to dance on stage rather than choreograph?

No, not any more.

With knowing the part have you ever had to step into a part due to performers indisposition?

Yes, I re staged material from Billy Elliot for The Alan Titchmarsh show on ITV. We got to the studio and one of the men called in sick. I was mortified but I stepped in and I was fierce!!!​

Can you tell us what you will be up to next?

I’m currently in rehearsals for the UK and Ireland tour of The Producers. Following this, I’m back to Reykjavik to check on Billy Elliot which I recently re-choreographed, then its off on holiday to Italy at Easter followed by three hugely exciting major projects lined up to be announced shortly which take me through to next year.

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