Darlington Civic Theatre – Treasure island

Civic-Theatre-Hi-Res-Logo-1-117x300DON’T MISS THE BOAT, ME HEARTIES

A fabulous family production of Treasure Island is coming to Darlington Civic Theatre just in time for the half term holidays.

Audiences will be taken on a magical trip into a world of pirates, adventure and princesses as one of the nation’s favourite children’s novels is brought to life with a lively modern twist at Darlington Civic theatre on Tuesday 16 February.

See Jim Hawkins, Jolly Roger, old Ben Gunn, Billy Bones, Sneaky Beaky the parrot and of course Long John Silver, star with action aplenty on the high seas. This show is jam-packed with shanties, cheering, booing, puppets, lots of colourful costumes, amazing sets, illusions and maybe even a monkey or two!

The show is the brainchild of popular comedian and entertainer Tom Beard.

Tom is no stranger to children’s shows, having appeared in number one venues over the past ten years, where he frequently had children (and adults) doubled up with mirth at his comedy antics. Tom said: “Everyone knows and loves the original pirate story but you won’t have enjoyed the tale quite like this before. We want our audience (both young and old!) to get involved with lots of shouting and cheering. We are after non-stop fun and laughter, whilst also staying as close to the original tale as possible.”

He continued; “We’ve respectfully kept to Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling tale which everyone can enjoy, along with some humour for both the adults and the children. The one thing we can guarantee is that everyone will leave with a smile on their face.”

Treasure Island is at Darlington Civic Theatre on Tuesday 16 February at 2pm.

Tickets are priced £10 & £12, Family Ticket £40

Recommended age 3+

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk

Darlington Civic Theatre – Brendan Cole


Brendan Cole presents A Night To Remember at Darlington Civic Theatre on Thursday 18 February.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole is set to dazzle audiences with his latest dance extravaganza, A Night To Remember.

Brendan, one of Strictly Come Dancing’s most charismatic choreographers and performers, will host throughout the night as he leads his cast on a journey of music and dance in a spectacular night of theatrical entertainment.

Loaded with ballroom magic and Latin excitement, Brendan’s newest live music and dance spectacuar will be 2016’s must see show.

Brendan Cole A Night To remember is at Darlington Civic Theatre on Thursday 18 February at 3pm & 7.30pm. Tickets* are priced £34 & £36

*All prices include a £1 restoration levy

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk




The Improvised Musical


Limited run of 10 Mondays from February to July

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical wowed audiences and critics alike in the first ever season for an improvised musical in the West End. Now it returns to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue for just 10 more performances between 15th February and 25th July

For Showstopper! The Improvised Musical audience suggestions are transformed instantly into all-singing, all-dancing shows with unpredictable and hilarious results. Even the title of each show is improvised. Highlights from the 2015 West End run have included: ‘Royal Flush‘ set in the Queen’s bathroom, ‘Blatt Out of Hell‘ from the Fifa HQ, ‘The Lyin’ King’ set in the Daily Mail newsroom; ‘I never tyre of Georgia’ set in Kwikfit in the Deep South and ‘Bricking It‘, the sad history of the Guernsey Lego factory.

The Showstopper team nightly pull off something incredibly ambitious; they create a real musical from scratch, not just an improv night with songs but a full story with characters you can care about, a live band of incredible musicians, and spontaneous but seamless choreography. With a BBC Radio Four series and eight years of festivals and touring to their name, The Showstoppers have delighted and astounded audiences around the world with their ingenious, unique blend of comedy, musical theatre and spontaneity.

What the critics said:


Incredible… so polished, it defies belief.” – Daily Telegraph


You absolutely have to go” – Mail on Sunday


Crackingly creative… a triumph.” – The Times


Astounding” – Daily Express


Brilliant” – Financial Times


A success story that could run and run.” – Evening Standard


Staggeringly good… a must-see.” – The Stage


The resultant show is a glorious mix of shambolic story and genuinely hilarious songs

Time Out


Go and go again. It’s irrepressible, irresistible fun.” – British Theatre


Satirical ingenuity” – What’s On Stage


Showstopper! is a must for every fan of musical theatre” – Musical Theatre Review

Make sure you catch this show” – Sunday Mirror

Prepare to be wowed… Showstopper! might be the only West End show you ever need.


Showstopper! was created by Adam Meggido and Dylan Emery. Duncan Walsh Atkins is Musical Director, with design by Simon Scullion, lighting by Tim Mascall and sound by Tom Lishman.

The cast includes Ruth Bratt, Justin Brett, Dylan Emery, Pippa Evans, Susan Harrison, Sean McCann, Adam Meggido, Philip Pellew, Andrew Pugsley, Oliver Senton, Lucy Trodd, and Sarah-Louise Young, with seven cast members appearing per performance plus a live on-stage band.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is presented by James Seabright, Julie Clare, Julius Green, Keith Strachan, Irving Rappaport and Ray Cooney by arrangement with Suzanna Rosenthal for Showstopper Productions.

Listings information:

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Venue: The Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Dates: Monthly Mondays in Feb/Mar/April and then fortnightly from May to July16

Dates : 15 February, 14, March, 11 April, 9 May, 23 May, 6 June, 20 June, 4 July, 18 July & 25 July

Tickets: From £20 Box Office: www.nimaxtheatres.com / 0330 333 4812

Interview with Graham Seed

Graham Seed
Graham Seed

Jolly good show, chaps!

Graham Seed talks about Rattigan, romance and how wearing a uniform might give his wife ideas…

With the tractors and traumas of Ambridge well and truly behind him (he played Nigel Pargetter in the radio soap The Archers for an incredible 27 years), award-winning actor and broadcaster Graham Seed continues to work extensively. Just starting out on a national tour, Graham plays Squadron Leader Swanson in Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path, directed by Justin Audibert.

“It’s going very well and we have a terrific cast,” beamed Graham, a self-confessed Rattigan fan.

“As an actor I am really enjoying it because Rattigan writes such good characters; he just didn’t write bad parts. One of his best plays is The Deep Blue Sea and this has early elements of that. It’s rather delightful and I like the play enormously.”

Based on Rattigan’s own experiences as a tail gunner during World War II, the play is rooted in wartime Britain, where the life-and-death existence of the RAF bomber crews, and their wives and sweethearts who were on tenterhooks awaiting their return, created a permanent state of high anxiety. The story tells of former actress Patricia, the wife of RAF pilot Teddy. When Patricia’s ex‐lover and Hollywood idol Peter arrives out of the blue her emotions are thrown into turmoil and the survival of her marriage to Teddy becomes uncertain. As the conflict rages in the skies above, on terra firma feelings simmer, threatening to become every bit as explosive.

A romance with shades of Brief Encounter then? Graham nodded. “She has to decide what she’s going to do, but it does have humour, too. It’s a very evocative and powerful play.

“My character is quite funny and rather charming. He’s a frightfully good chap; full of that stiff upper lip phlegm.”

But in pitching his performance Graham has had to take care not to stray into parody. “If you did it wrong you’d be into Black Adder or Monty Python territory, which you don’t want at all.”

But it’s not just the good of the play that Graham is mindful about; he clearly has great respect for the real life pilots who carried out such dangerous missions.

“These boys were incredibly brave and they understated the danger always. The play is set against the backdrop of planes taking off and not coming back and at one point my character says: ‘we do owe these boys something.’ You can see why Churchill loved it. The Great War was so ghastly that it became romantic, but in the Second World War far more civilians were bombed.”

Mixing history with an intriguing story gives it broad appeal and the cast are delighted that Flare Path is attracting audiences of all ages.

“It’s definitely a play that is suitable for all the family and I do hope that lots of young people will come to see it,” said Graham, who admitted that these days he isn’t feeling as sprightly as he once was.

“I am suddenly feeling my age,” he confided. For years you’re the youngest in the company and now I’m suddenly the oldest – I’m about twenty years older than everyone else!”

But there’s something about this particular production that has had a rejuvenating effect on Graham. Botox? A bit of a nip-and-tuck? As it transpires nothing so drastic.

“I know it sounds slightly immature for a sixty-five-year-old man to say it, but it’s quite nice to put on an air force uniform. I look pretty chipper,” he teased, agreeing that any fella in a military uniform looks instantly dapper, even if they look like a bag of spanners. Not that Graham does, I hastily reassured him. Laughing off the unintended insult he said:

“It’s like evening dress – if you’re a woman and you suddenly look at your old man in evening dress you say ‘goodness he polishes up well!’ When my wife sees me in my RAF uniform I hope she thinks that there’s life in the old dog yet!”

Certainly on the work front he continues to have offers lined up and, although he is best remembered for The Archers, his CV is crammed with credible theatre, film and TV credits. “That’s because I’m so old,” he twinkled. “I’ve ducked and dived; I’m what they call a jobbing actor.”

As for life on tour, Graham doesn’t mind living out of a suitcase in the least.

“It’s rather romantic and like being with a family. For me, as an older member of the company, there’s a responsibility to make sure that everyone’s happy. But it’s a lovely way to see friends in other parts of the country and to visit wonderful theatres.”

Asked to name his favourite theatres around the country Graham said: “I love Darlington’s beautiful old theatre. People still have a sense of occasion about going to the theatre there and that’s really lovely.”

With all the schlepping about he does for work, how does Graham relax?

“I find it very hard to relax,” he confessed. “I do What the Papers Say every other Sunday, so don’t get many Sunday’s off. You always worry about your next job and even at sixty-five I’m always worried that I’ll be found out. But I’m actually pretty content. Getting older makes you less ambitious; there are more important things, like your health. So now I am absolutely thrilled to play good supporting roles and to really enjoy them.”

Anxious that he doesn’t come across as “worthy” (he doesn’t), Graham believes that there is a duty to tour good plays around the country, especially to unsubsidised theatres.

Speaking of which, it was time for him to head off to transform himself into a fine young man in uniform for the evening performance.

“I’m revving up for chocks away,” he grinned, before adding: “It’s not a bad life.”

Indeed. And he’s a jolly good egg. A jolly good egg in a jolly good show. Go and see for yourself.

Official website: www.flarepaththetour.com

Twitter: @flarepathtour

Facebook: flarepaththetour

Vicky Edwards


Civic-Theatre-Hi-Res-Logo-1-117x300FLARE PATH

Darlington Civic Theatre

Tuesday 12 to Saturday 16 April

Tickets* £17 to £22.50

*includes £1 restoration levy

01325 486555


Darlington Civic Theatre – Showaddywaddy

Civic-Theatre-Hi-Res-Logo-1-117x300THE BOYS HAVE STILL GOT WHAT IT TAKES

The greatest rock’n’roll band in the world comes to Darlington Civic Theatre on Friday 19 February.

Showaddywaddy have been on tour since 1973, and are on the road again in 2016. The band are playing sold-out shows up and down the land with nearly 100 dates on the tour list, which is testament to their enduring appeal.

Formed in the 1970s from members of several different bands, Showaddywaddy have sold more than 20 million records and have toured the world.

Now celebrating their 40th anniversary, Darlington Civic Theatre is preparing to rock to the all-time favourites including Under The Moon of Love, Three Steps to Heaven, Hey Rock & Roll, Blue Moon, Pretty Little Angel Eyes, You Got What It Takes and many more in this dynamic stage show.

Showaddywaddy comes to Darlington Civic Theatre on Friday 19 February at 7.30pm. Tickets* are priced £19.50 & £20.50. Groups 10+ get 1 free

*All prices include a £1 restoration levy

To book contact the Box Office on 01325 486 555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk

Royal Theatrical Support Trust Director Award launched with Sheffield Theatres

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Royal Theatrical Support Trust Director Award

launched with Sheffield Theatres


The Royal Theatrical Support Trust (RTST), and Sheffield Theatres are delighted to announce a new award scheme for emerging directors: the RTST Director Award Scheme.


The new scheme, launched by the RTST – a charity dedicated to promoting theatre and drama – in collaboration with Sheffield Theatres, will offer the chance for an emerging director to create and direct a fully-funded production of a play by an internationally renowned dramatist at a selected regional theatre. In its inaugural year, the successful candidate for the award will direct their chosen play at the Crucible Studio Theatre, as part of Sheffield Theatres’ 2017 spring season.


The winner of the RTST Director Award 2016 will be chosen by a selection panel chaired by Daniel Evans, the current Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres and Artistic Director-designate of Chichester Festival Theatre. Daniel will be joined on the panel by Sir Ian McKellen, Dawn Walton, Richard Wilson andPenelope Wilton.


Chairman of the RTST, Sir Geoffrey Cass, said: “This exciting new award scheme reflects the mission of the RTST to support British theatre in multiple ways: it will boost the career of an emerging director; provide meaningful financial and promotional support to a regional theatre; facilitate a production for a regional audience; and promote the work of an internationally renowned dramatist. We are thrilled to be launching the scheme with Sheffield Theatres, and applaud the dedication and enthusiasm of Daniel Evans, the Sheffield Theatres management team and the members of our prestigious Selection Panel in making this possible. We believe it offers something different to the theatre community, and we very much hope it will attract a diverse array of candidates and ideas.”


Daniel Evans, Artistic Director at Sheffield Theatres, said: I’m overjoyed that the RTST has chosen Sheffield Theatres in order to launch the RTST Director Award. The award itself will offer an incredible opportunity to one of the UK’s emerging directors. Such opportunities are, frustratingly, all too few. It’s edifying to know our collaboration will offer the winner a professional, practical and prestigious experience in one of the country’s most exciting theatre spaces.


Entries for the RTST Director Award Scheme 2016 are now open. To enter, and for further details of the award, please visit the RTST’s website: www.rtst.org.uk. The closing date for entries is 5.00pm on Friday, 18 March 2016.


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Olivier Award-winning West End comedy, The 39 Steps stops off at the Lyceum Theatre from Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 February as part of its 10th Anniversary UK Tour. This hilarious production features four actors, playing over 130 characters in 100 minutes!


Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller The 39 Steps follows the incredible adventures of handsome hero Richard Hannay.  Complete with stiff upper lip, British gung-ho and pencil moustache, he encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents and of course devastatingly beautiful women, in a dangerous tale of cat-and-mouse from London to the Scottish Highlands.


Richard Ede stars as the eponymous hero Hannay with Olivia Greene as the three women in Hannay’s life, Pamela, Annabella and Margaret.  They are joined by Andrew Hodges and Rob Witcomb playing the myriad of other roles with breath-taking speed and dexterity.

The 39 Steps is at the Lyceum Theatre from Monday 16 – Saturday 20 February.  Tickets can be purchased from Sheffield Theatres’ Box Office in-person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk and are priced from £14.00 – £29.00 (a transaction fee of £1.50 (£1.00 online) applies to all bookings made at the Box Office, excluding cash), and discounts are available.

Jane Eyre Review

The Rosemary Branch Theatre  29 January – 14 February.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Reader, I was bewitched.

Bryony J. Thompson’s production of Jane Eyre is simply stunning. This adaptation remains passionately faithful to the book, omitting any fluff and showcasing the dramatic and romantic set pieces – with style. Jane’s early years are dealt with in a few minutes – no lingering deathbed scene for poor Helen here! – and the focus moves briskly on to her life at Thornfield Hall.

With a stark white set, plain white period costumes and only 6 wooden chairs, the set design mirrors the script – stripped down and sharp – allowing the actors to revel in Bronte’s beguiling language and the audience to lose themselves in the performance.

The cast of 6 are on stage throughout, with Alice Coles, Jack Collard, Madeline Gould and Alice Osmanski slipping in and out of different roles seamlessly. Osmanski’s little Adele is a delight – all wide-eyed excitement and joie de vivre. Emilia Williams is an intense but mischievous Jane and Ben Warwick’s Mr Rochester is everything you want – stern, playful and damaged. Their flirtatious banter is funny and sweet, and the passionate build up to their first kiss is portrayed brilliantly.

Thompson’s decision to have the characters switching between direct speech and narrating is very effective. The scenes where Jane has an internal monologue, with Williams surrounded by the other women all taking rapid fire turns to voice her thoughts become frantic, intense and very moving. (There was one point where it became a little Bohemian Rhapsody, but it was fleeting.)

This production creates Jane’s world in the audience’s minds through the intoxicating language and sympathetic movement – Jane’s discovery of the fire is haunting and exciting, and all done with no effects or props – amazing, and wonderful to be trusted as an audience to use your imagination and intuition. The satisfied sigh (along with a few Sense and Sensibility grunts) at “Reader, I married him” that came from the audience sums up the whole night.

Beautiful, moving and intelligent theatre.

`thriller – like momentum’ The Guardian `theatrical ballsiness’ The Times








simple8, the critically-acclaimed ensemble based theatre company –  winners of the 2015 Peter Brook / Empty Space Awards – will make their Park Theatre debut with the world premiere of a new play bySebastian Armesto and Dudley Hinton. Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes, based on the true story and book by linguist, author and academic, Daniel Everett, will open at Park Theatre on 22 March and play until 23 April, with a press night on 23 March.


Pirahã [(n) piɾaˈhã] A remote Amazonian tribe with a language no outsider has ever understood. Daniel Everett, a linguist and missionary, is sent into the jungle with a clear purpose: to learn their language and convert them to Christianity.


But as he struggles to communicate, he uncovers a culture like nothing he’s ever imagined. They have no words for numbers or colours, no urge to nurse their young or store food, no future tense, no ability to tell made-up stories, only things they have directly experienced, no religion, no leaders, no crime. And, by chance or by consequence, they’re the happiest, most care-free people he’s ever met.


Everett’s discoveries blow apart modern linguistic theory, particularly Chomsky’s theory of Universal Grammar, forcing him to question his faith and his understanding of what it means to be human.


Following the critically acclaimed The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Moby-Dick, Simple8 return with an adventure wrenched from the heart of the jungle, which traces how language, culture and experience shape us all


The simple8 ensemble for Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes is led by Mark Arends (1984 / Headlong), alongside Christopher Doyle, Rachel Handshaw, Emily Pennant-Rea, Yuriri Naka, and Clifford Samuel, directed by Dudley Hinton and Hannah Emmanuel.


simple8 formed in London in 2006 and are focused on simplicity, the ensemble and the story. They create new writing through extensive research and development, inspired by rarely explored material and work with large ensemble casts. Using a variety of techniques, ‘poor’ theatre (a focus on the actor’s voice and body rather than theatrical devices), mime, live music and song, puppetry and magic, they aim to present work that is fun, inventive, original and daring. On Park Theatre’s bare stage simple8’s ‘poor’ theatre will conjure a plane, a river and the most remarkable of communities using nothing but six actors, a couple of chairs and a length of rope.