image001 (2)2015

28TH –30TH August 2015

Cumbria’s brightest and best music and arts festival, Solfest is back after a year’s sabbatical in 2014 with a new more compact and bijou approach. It’s the same old Solfest experience refreshed and revitalised. Some of the biggest names in folk and traditional music will take to the stage at the new, revamped Solfest this summer.

The Unthanks, Kathryn Tickell & The Side, The Sam Kelly Trio and Peatbog Faeries  and The Lancashire Hotpots are just a tiny sample of the dazzling array of artists appearing at Solfest 2015.


They will be joined by cult electronica ambient dance band Banco De Gaia. Also lined up are festival favourites and Solfest old hands including some of the best of the UK ‘s punk, roots, ska and singer-songwriter scenes including The Baghdaddies,  Pikey Beatz, The Skints, Bombskare, Young Rebel Set,Holy Moly And The Crackers, Emma And The Professor, Stark, The Talks, Bridie Jackson And The Arbour and of course many many more.

Also Solfest’s famed Love Shack and Electric Village will host the very best in dance, dub-step, trance, reggae, electronic and a whole range of experimental sounds with 8:58, DJ Templehead, RoomFull Of Mirrors,Radioactive Man (live), The Hobo (aka DJ TurtleWax), Age Of Glass, Werkha, Shocon, Silverclub, Gella,Projekt Dataline, Gemma Furbank and many many more.


As ever Solfest offers a dazzling array of entertainment across practically every musical genre. If you don’t hear something that you like move along to another venue and try another taste of the Solfest experience.


Multi-award-winning and Mercury Music Prize nominees The Unthanks are among the most highly-regarded of all traditional acts. Their reputation reaches far beyond the folk genre. Kathryn Tickell is the foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes, a composer, performer and successful recording artist whose work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of Northumbria. Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Kelly was runner up in Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 but has gone on to make a name for himself in folk and roots music. He forged his links with the music through the Gaelic songs that his Irish grandfather taught him.Peatbog Fearies have built a reputation over two decades with their dazzling and hugely infectious fusion of Celtic traditional music and dance music bringing elements of jazz, hip hop and reggae to their musical table.The Lancashire Hotpots return to Solfest by popular demand with their wonderfully self-deprecating blend of folk rock comedy that lovingly pokes run at their own culture and the modern world.


The festival bounces back on a smaller scale and with a new, fresher attitude after taking last year off. Organisers wanted to “return to our roots” with a more intimate event, but retaining the key features that has made it so popular over the past eleven years.


Solfest marketing officer Tom Kay explains: “We  made a conscious decision to distance our festival from more commercial events, moving away from big headline names in order to put our resources into giving people the best festival experience over a full weekend rather than just a couple of hours each evening. As always we aim to keep prices down, avoiding hidden extras like over the top booking fees, extra charges for vehicles and camping.  We’ll still allow you to bring your own booze and still charge sensible prices at our bars, which means that you get a fantastic weekend without breaking the bank. This year’s Solfest will look and feel different, we’ve made some big decisions like, losing what was the main stage in favour of more venues offering an even wider range of music to tantalise your ears.  One big dance tent will become the all new Electric Village with a wider range of sounds to suit all tastes. We are looking forward to showcasing some exiting and interactive artworks around the site which has been redesigned for a totally new feel. Even Solfest regulars can have fun getting lost again.”


“Solfest is a festival run by festival goers, between us, we’ve seen it all, from huge events with hundreds of thousands of people to tiny first time parties with just a few hundred revellers. We like to think this gives us a unique insight into what makes a great festival tick.”


Solfest takes place at Tarns, near Aspatria, over the bank holiday weekend August 28-30.


Ticket prices range from £10 for children’s tickets to £110 for a full adult weekend.  For full details see our website

Tickets will be available to purchase right on our very own website


For more information, go to the Solfest Facebook page or



Award-winning soap star Charlie Hardwick is set to join the cast of the North East’s biggest panto, Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal. Charlie joins Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward who have delighted Newcastle audiences for over a decade and broken box office records every year.


Charlie-Hardwick-Spirit of the Tyne - Theatre Royal NewcastleFollowing today’s announcement that she will be leaving Emmerdale, Charlie is delighted to confirm that she will be playing at Newcastle Theatre Royal for the panto season from Tuesday 24 November 2015 until Sunday 17 January 2016.


Charlie has been a regular on the ITV1 soap since 2004 and in that time she has proved a hit with soap fans and critics alike and was nominated six times for Best Comedy Performance at the British Soap Awards, an accolade she won in 2006.


Hailing from Newcastle, Charlie has also appeared in the films Purely Belter, Billy Elliot and The Scar (for which she won the Best Actress award at the Monte Carlo Film Awards). She also appeared in the UK tour of Cooking with Elvis alongside Frank Skinner and The Awkward Squad. Charlie will be starring as the Spirit of the Tyne, waving her magic wand and ensuring our hero, Dick Whittington, achieves fame and fortune!


Charlie joins Danny Adams and Clive Webb, who make their eleventh consecutive pantomime appearance at the Theatre Royal. With their much-loved and hilarious slapstick, physical comedy and slosh routines, audiences are guaranteed to be in stitches at the award-winning father and son duo. Danny plays the title role of Dick Whittington, while Clive plays Councillor Fitzfenwick.


Making his ninth appearance in Newcastle alongside Danny and Clive, Chris Hayward also returns, complete with his glittering array of costumes and wigs, all of which he designs himself. Playing the role of Dame Rita Fitzfenwick, Chris will provide all of the glamour and sparkle Newcastle theatregoers have come to expect from the North East’s premiere pantomime.


Dick Whittington also comes complete with spectacular special effects, once again provided by The Twins FX, the award-winning company behind previous years’ looping reindeer sleigh, flying helicopter and magic carpet. Audiences will also be delighted by the welcome return of amazing 3D special effects.


Charlie Hardwick said: “I’m really excited to be making my pantomime debut, especially in front of a home crowd in Newcastle. I know I’ll be in very safe hands alongside Danny, Clive and Chris and I can’t wait to help Dick Whittington become Lord Mayor of Newcastle”.


Director and Executive Producer of the Theatre Royal’s pantomime Michael Harrison said: “Adding Charlie to our wonderful line-up will guarantee Newcastle audiences yet another spectacular pantomime season. Visitors to the Theatre Royal won’t be disappointed by the hilarious comedy routines, spectacular sets and special effects, music and dance. Tickets are already selling fast so early booking is advisable”.

Already 55,000 tickets have been sold for the panto, a full six months before opening – a new record best for the region’s favourite Christmas show.

Dick Whittington is produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s largest pantomime producer, which will stage 24 productions throughout the UK this Christmas. With ticket prices to suit all pockets, audiences won’t have to head to London to seek their fortune in order to enjoy spectacular pantomime at Newcastle Theatre Royal this Christmas!

Dick Whittington appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 24 November 2015 until Sunday 17 January 2016. Tickets are available from £12.50, (save 50p per ticket by booking online). Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at










Monday 19 – Saturday 24 October 2015


This summer, DREAMBOATS AND MINISKIRTS returns to theatres to showcase the greatest hit songs of the 60s.


It is the sequel to DREAMBOATS AND PETTICOATS, which premiered in Bromley in 2009, and became a musical phenomenon having played to more than two million people across the UK. Inspired by Universal’s multi-million selling album series which now boasts seven double compilation albums and a myriad of one off special releases!


It’s 1963 and the Petticoats gang are growing up and facing new challenges. Bobby and Laura’s first single, Dreamboats and Petticoats, went to the top of the charts, but they haven’t been able to repeat that success with any further records. Norman and Sue have settled down to non-marital bliss – and a baby! And Ray and Donna seem blissfully happy in their professional lives… but are they really?


The advent of the Beatles and the Merseyside sound is inspirational. But will it inspire Bobby and Laura to have one more shot at stardom, Norman to “get off the drains” and find that hit parade voice he has longed for, and Ray to realise his ambition and manage a really top pop act?


All will be revealed in a follow up with the same wit, charm, and great songs as Dreamboats and Petticoats.


Dreamboats and Miniskirts is written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, the team behindGoodnight Sweetheart, Birds of a Feather, The New Statesman, Shine on Harvey Moon, Save the Last Dance For Me and of course, Dreamboats and Petticoats, and is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield in association with Universal Music.

Featuring hit after hit from Twist & Shout to Handy Man to Pretty Woman, One Fine Day and many more, Dreamboats and Miniskirts is happiness guaranteed.

Tour Dates:

23-27 Jun 2015 – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

29 Jun-4 Jul 2015 – Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

6-11 Jul 2015 – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend

13-18 Jul 2015 -The Grand Theatre, Leeds

21-25 Jul 2015 – The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

27 Jul-1 Aug 2015 – Hippodrome Theatre, Bristol

3-8 Aug 2015 – Kings Theatre, Southsea

10-15 Aug 2015- Kings Theatre, Glasgow

18-22 Aug 2015 – His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

24-29 Aug 2015 – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

7-12 Sep 2015 – Mold Clwyd Theatre, Cymru

14-19 Sep 2015 – Grand Theatre, Swansea

21-26 Sep 2015 – Grand Theatre, Blackpool

28 Sep-3 Oct 2015 – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

5-10 Oct 2015 – Churchill Theatre, Bromley

12-17 Oct 2015 – Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn

19-24 Oct – Grand Opera House York



image002 (1)Following their smash hit success with The Play That Goes Wrong which was at Leeds Grand last year and is now playing to packed houses in the West End, award-winning Mischief Theatre bring their riotous new spin on a timeless favourite to Leeds Grand Theatre next week.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Dress RehearsalThe Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society set out to present J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong does. The accident prone thesps embark on a thrilling adventure to Neverland, with hilariously disastrous results.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th June

Tickets are on sale now priced from £18.50 to £30.50

Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 27 00

Gary Barlow on Hunt For Leeds Star


Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s new musical THE GIRLS, based on Calendar Girls, opens this November with its world premiere in Leeds and they are looking for a 17 year-old actor to play the son of Miss September; Tommo is described as ‘a great lad – a sportsman, good looking, cocky and girl mad!’

Gary Barlow & Tim Firth credit Matt Crockett (1)The auditions, which will be held on Wednesday 17 June at Leeds Grand Theatre, will be taken by the show’s director, Roger Haines, and its producer, David Pugh.  The first auditions will be filmed for Gary and Tim to watch and select actors for a second audition.

David Pugh, the multi award-winning West End and Broadway producer, whose shows include EQUUS starring Daniel Radcliffe, said, “This is an incredible opportunity for a young actor to play such a smashing part that Tim and Gary have written in this wonderful new musical.”

Tim Firth & Gary Barlow credit Matt CrockettGary and Tim said, “We want a proper Northerner to play this role and where better to look than Leeds and Manchester where there is such an enormous wealth of talent – best of luck lads!

THE GIRLS is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands.  This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary.

Interested parties should email the casting director, Rebecca Jenner: [email protected] / 020 7292 0390 for an audition script and appointment time.


Gary Barlow and Tim Firth require a young actor to play a 17 year-old boy called Tommo.

Auditions will take place at the Leeds Grand Theatre from 2pm to 6pm on Wednesday 17 June

Interested parties should email the casting director, Rebecca Jenner: [email protected] / 020 7292 0390 for an audition script and appointment time.


Avenue Q Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 9 June 2015

There are obvious similarities between Avenue Q and another famous American Street that airs its programme to children.  Both shows give life lessons and have similar characters.  But whilst Avenue Q pays homage to the other, it is certainly not wholesome family entertainment.

Written by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (long before he penned Frozen), the residents of Avenue Q teach us that “there is a fine fine line between love and a waste of time”, “the more you love someone – the more you want to kill them”, “it sucks to be me”, “but only for now” and “The Internet is for Porn” (clearly its not or you wouldn’t be reading this review) and other nuggets of information and advice set to music.

It can seem a little confusing at first, with puppets controlled by actors on stage alongside three human characters. But once belief is suspended, a roller coaster of a show goes along at fair pace, with laughs aplenty.

The show centres on Princeton, an arts graduate and out of a job. Trying to find a cheap place to rent he finds Avenue Q a run down multicultural neighbourhood,  home to furry Kate Monster, who falls for Princeton; Brian and his Asian-American wife, Christmas Eve, who get married; former child star Gary Coleman; Rod who is in the closet yearning after straight room mate Nicky; Trekkie Monster a pervert who lusts after Lucy the Slut and the Bad Idea Bears

There are no weak links in this excellent cast. Puppets and humans are all steeped with fabulous comedy skills and bring  joy to the production. Richard Lowe, Sarah Harlington, Stephen Arden and Jessica Parker tackle the difficult role of giving life to their nine foam counterparts with ease, whilst Arina II (Christmas Eve), Richard Morse (Brian), and Etisyai Philip (Gary Coleman) provide human foils that are every bit as strong character wise.

It’s a technical masterpiece, with inspired staging, great voice work and incredible theatricality of the show’s small cast. The puppet actors dress in black, but there are no attempts made to disguise the fact that they are the voices behind the colourful characters. The expressions of the actors sell the puppet persona’s and make the show’s satirical but sentimental storyline so endearing.

If you are easily shocked then this is not the show for you.  Puppets having very loud, very physical sex is not a sight that everyone wants to see.  But if you want to have a good laugh and hear song lyrics that your life can relate to then this is the show to see.

In Darlington until Saturday 13 June and on tour around the UK

Ronni Ancona joins Justin Fletcher in The Tale of Mr Tumble at Manchester International Festival

Casting is today announced for the world premiere of The Tale of Mr Tumble at Manchester International Festival this July.

Justin Fletcher, known to millions as CBeebies Mr Tumble, will be joined by Ronni Ancona as Miss Eerie. Other cast members will include Samuel Buttery, Samantha Dorrance, Connor Elliott, Lizzie Franks, Tom Mackley, Nicholas McLean, Samuel Parker, Katia Sartini, Kai Savage and Ben Stock. The company will be joined on stage by a Makaton signing choir who will perform alongside their hero Mr Tumble.

The Tale of Mr Tumble will be a funny, engaging and visually exciting show that will give children the chance to see Mr Tumble live and up close as he and his family share some of their fondest memories.

Audiences will find out how he became the joyful entertainer familiar to so many, following his journey from bouncing baby Tumble (with his bright red nose already in place), through his singing and dancing school years, right up to the present day.

Mr Tumble will be joined by his friends and family including Grandpa Tumble and introducing Tootsie. Featuring songs new and old, there will be plenty of opportunities for audience participation in this high energy event.

MIF Creative, the Festival’s creative learning programme, is working with primary schools across Manchester to find and develop our Makaton signing choirs. Over the whole run, 400 local children will appear onstage with pre-school idol Mr Tumble, sharing their Makaton skills with each other and our audiences. Makaton is the specialist communication language that Mr Tumble and Something Special have done so much to popularise.

Written by Will Brenton, with design by Hayley Grindle, The Tale of Mr Tumble will be a real opportunity to step inside the colourful world of one of our most cherished TV characters.

Justin Fletcher is a presenter and actor widely known for his long-running character as CBeebies’ Mr Tumble.  On-screen his appearances for CBeebies include Justin’s House, Timmy Time, Gigglebiz and hit show Something Special, celebrated for being one of the only entertainment programmes to span mainstream and Special Education Needs audiences successfully. He recently provided the voice for Shaun in the movie Shaun the Sheep.  His recent arena tour of Justin & Friends: Mr Tumble’s Circus played to packed crowds across the UK.  Justin has been awarded the BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Presenter on three occasions as well as being made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2008.

Award-winning actress Ronni Ancona is well known for her work on-screen in television programmes such as Last Tango in Halifax, The TripSkins, Steven Poliakoff’s Gideon’s Daughter and the BAFTA winning The Big Impression in which she appeared with Alistair McGowan for several series. She makes regular appearances on the popular comedy panel show QI and was a guest presenter on Have I Got News For You. She recently appeared in Alecky Blythe’s Little Revolution at the Almeida Theatre, other theatre appearances include Singin’ in the Rain with Adam Cooper (Sadler’s Wells) and The Hypochondriac (Almeida). Film credits include Penelope, Stella Street – The Movie and The Calcium Kid. Ronni has won the British Comedy Award and the Variety Club Award for Best Actress and was also awarded a BAFTA for her work on The Sketch Show with Lee Mack.

Commissioned by MIF Creative. Produced by Manchester International Festival.
Supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust and MIF Creative Circle.  In association with CBeebies.


14 PERFORMANCES, 11 – 19 JULY 2015

All children’s tickets £12
Adults £18.25 – £26.25
Concessions £5 off
Schools £8.50 / Teachers are free
£12 tickets for Greater Manchester residents on a lower wage, available on a first come first served honest basis
Babes In Arms up to 18 months are welcome. For children over 18 month tickets must be purchased.

Box Office: | 0844 871 7654

Community Cast prepare for opening night


Back in April, York Theatre Royal announced that George Costigan, recognised for his roles in Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Calendar Girls, Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter,and BBC’s Happy Valley, would be playing George Hudson, dubbed The Railway King, in the York Theatre Royal, National Railway Museum and Pilot Theatre production of In Fog and Falling Snow, a major theatrical event that opens in York on 26 June. Over 200 people have been cast to star alongside the professional, all of whom are volunteering.

It’s a huge undertaking with 80 Front of House volunteers, 50 costume making volunteers, 50 choir members, 30 technical volunteers and 30 photographers. Despite hours of rehearsals life continues as normal outside the rehearsal room. Here, we announce some of the cast members and reveal what they’re doing when not learning lines or going for costume fittings:

The show follows in the footsteps of the huge success of the 2012 York Mystery Plays and 2013’s Blood + Chocolate. Telling a pivotal story in the city’s history, audiences will be taken on a journey through the museum’s collections after hours before being seated in the purpose built Signal Box Theatre for the second half. It is directed by York Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director Damian Cruden, Associate Director Juliet Forster and Pilot Theatre’s Katie Posner.

The opening scene sees George Hudson and George Stephenson reminiscing about their successes and ideas. Stephenson is played by Ian Giles, who audiences will recognise from his roles in previous community productions, Two Planks and a Passion, York Mystery Plays 2012, and Blood + Chocolate. When he isn’t acting Ian is Head of Film Studies at Queen Margaret’s School. He said of the experience of being in a community production in York;

It’s the ultimate in team work, you’re working with 200 like-minded individuals with another 300 or so backstage and the camaraderie between everyone is fantastic. The professional infrastructure that comes with the projects is a gift – from the stage design to the professional actors who are cast alongside community members, and I’ve no doubt In Fog and Falling Snow will be just as epic.

Kane Hutchinson is playing Jimmy Gadd, who becomes embroiled in the almost fantastical scheme of getting rich by buying railway shares. Kane is studying for an Extended Diploma at York College as well as working part time and hopes to progress to drama school or university. Kane says of the experience;

Considering some of the scenes can feature up to one hundred different and wholly unique characters, the show is quite the spectacle. Working with such a wonderful cast, almost entirely composed of members of the community, is a personal highlight for me.

Playing his brother Edward Gadd is Jeremy Brown. Edward is a working class man who comes into some money, and then gambles it away on railway shares. Although acting in this production he’s looking to study Film and TV Design at university.

Their aspirations to move into the creative arts in the future are shared by co-stars Olivia Ledden, a drama student at York College and Charlotte Wood, who studies Theatre Studies, English Literature, Politics and Dance at All Saints Sixth Form. The girls are sharing the role of George Jenkins, the daughter of a train driver who disguises herself as a boy to work on the railways. For Olivia, this is the first time she has taken part in a community production, having recently moved to York. Charlotte took part in Blood + Chocolate and says of her experience in this year’s production:

It’s not every day you have to play a boy and a girl and it can be emotionally challenging at times, but I am loving rehearsals.

Stephanie Wood is playing the girls’ mother, Martha Jenkins. She is a trained actor, attending Birmingham School of Acting but hadn’t worked as an actor for a long time after taking a break to have children and working as a school administrator. After many nights picking up her children from the York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre, Stephanie heard about the opportunity to get involved in the 2013 production Blood + Chocolate. The show sold out before opening and the experience meant Stephanie jumped at the chance to take part in this year’s production. Her on stage husband Albert Jenkins, is played by Paul Osbourne. Paul is also a trained actor who divides his time between acting and working for an environmental charity.

Playing George Hudson’s wife, Elizabeth, alongside George Costigan, is Rosy Rowley. A mum of four daughters, who are all also taking part in the production, Rosy is a children’s entertainer, and a part-time taxi driver. Her out-going personality also makes her the ideal volunteer for Childline, for whom she goes into schools to help children learn about staying safe and being happy.

Playing Hudson’s arch nemesis, George Leeman, is Rory Mulvihill. He has taken part in over 80 productions including previous York Theatre Royal community productions. A solicitor for over 30 years, Rory is now studying an MA (Theatre) at the University of York.

The production opens on Friday 26 June and runs until Saturday 11 July in the Signal Box Theatre at the National Railway Museum. Tickets for the production are on sale now from the York Theatre Royal Box Office, located on St Leonards Place in the De Grey Rooms, by calling 01904 623568 or online at

Boys of the Barricade

96935The ‘worlds first musical super group’, Boys of the Barricade, have announced their debut concert at the Charing Cross Theatre on Sunday 26th July at 7pm.

Featuring stars of Les Misèrables from productions in the West End, Broadway, International Tour and the 2012 film, the group is the brainchild of Les Misèrables alumni Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield.

Talking about the group, Garnham said: “I’m really excited to finally share Boys of the Barricade with the world. It’s something I’ve been working on for over a year now and the response has already been unbelievable! We appeared on The Paul O’Grady Showlast month and we’ve done a few high profile corporate events but this will be our first full concert.”

The show will feature a selection of everyone’s favourite showtunes combined with music from some of the most iconic names in the music industry, from ballads and operatic arias to pop, rock and swing numbers.

The line-up for the 26th will include Craig Mather, Kieran Brown, Andy Coxon, Simon Schofiels and James Charlton with special guest appearances by Simon Bailey, Scott Garnham and a few surprises.

Tickets for the concert are now on sale here.

Darlington Civic Theatre Heritage Tour


On Monday June 22 Darlington Civic Theatre is opening the doors for an exciting and informative look behind the scenes with a special Heritage Tour.

Theatres are amazing spaces, especially old ones. As soon as you walk in to any auditorium you feel the warmth and history of the hundreds or thousands of stars who have appeared on the stage, you can almost hear the echo of applause ringing around the building, the atmosphere of anticipation of the production you are about to see is almost tangible.

Imagine, then, the opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes – the areas you never get to see as a member of the audience. Stand in the wings and imagine your next big entrance in front of a sell-out audience, get the view of the theatre every actor gets when they walk on stage for the first time, see the technical areas and offices. Add to that the history of secret apartments, the dressing rooms (some of which are known to be haunted) and you have an exciting and informative tour of one of Darlington’s most wonderful and historic buildings.

See Darlington Civic theatre as you have never seen it before.

The Darlington Civic Theatre Heritage Tour will take place on Monday 22 June at 7pm. Tickets are priced £5

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555