York musical comedy duo Fladam head to Edinburgh Festival Fringe for first time

“It’s been a long time coming,” say Fladam, as York musical comedy act make their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut this summer

FLADAM, the York musical comedy duo of Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter, are making their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut all this month.

At 4pm each day until August 29 – except August 16 – they will be performing A Musical Comedy Hootenanny! at The Pleasance at The EICC [Edinburgh International Conference Centre].

Followers of York’s musical theatre and theatre scene will be familiar with Florence, wide-eyed northern character actress, comic performer, singer, dancer and multi-instrumentalist, and Adam, face-pulling character actor, comic performer, pianist, harmonica and ukulele player, singer, composer, comedy songwriter and cartoonist.

A couple both on and off stage, they have branched out into presenting their own heartfelt, humorous songs and sketches, tackling the topical with witty wordplay, uplifting melodies, a dash of the Carry On! comic spirit, admiration for the craft of Morecambe & Wise, Bernard Cribbins and Victoria Wood, and an old-school sense of charity-shop comedic fashion.

You may have heard them in their regular slot on Harry Whittaker’s Saturday show on BBC Radio York; or seen an early taster of A Musical Comedy Hootenanny! in Fladam & Friends at Theatre@41, Monkgate, last November, or spotted them among the five-minute showcases at York Theatre Royal’s Love Bites in May 2021 and Green Shoots in June this year.

Topical yet nostalgic: York musical comedy duo Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

Now comes the giant leap: heading to the Scottish capital to be among more than 3,000 shows at the 75th anniversary Fringe on its return from Covid hibernation.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Adam. “We’d planned to perform there in 2020, before Covid struck. We were going to do a small-scale show at a venue we knew, Greenside, but now we’ve ended up at one of the Pleasance venues this year: a cabaret spot they’ve opened at the EICC called the Lammermuir Theatre.”

The two-year delay has worked out well. “Our plan was to go back to Greenside, but then we saw that a bursary scheme was available through York Theatre Royal in association with the Pleasance,” says Adam.

“We had an interview with Juliet [Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster], and though we weren’t selected, they said, ‘we really like you’, and the Pleasance offered us a slot.”

Better still, York Theatre Royal paid for Fladam’s Fringe registration and the Pleasance waivered a deposit. “We’ve been extremely lucky because from the first ticket onwards that we sell, we take 50 per cent,” says Florence.

Fladam’s official poster for the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Artwork design: Steph Pyne

“We’ve also had support from friends in York and we’ve received £400 from the Pleasance Debut Fund scheme to support debutant performers playing for more than a week in venues with fewer than 150 seats.”

Fladam’s Edinburgh bow is an introductory show that captures the spirit of their topical yet somehow nostalgic songs. “Our humour isn’t racy, but there’s a little hint of Carry On to it,” says Adam. “Well, there’s a dabbling of ‘racy’ in there,” interjects Florence.

“It’s sort of ‘Greatest Hits of Fladam’,” continues Adam. “We’re exploring different styles of performance, making sure it’s a varied hour, where we play lots of different characters, present familiar things in a new way and add new things.

“Like how we’ve re-written a country song that didn’t work as a country song. It now has new lyrics, which we’ll have to remember for a new version for the finale!

“I’m sure that the show we finish with on August 29 will be completely different from the first one as we’re still an evolving act and we’ll continue to evolve.”

Expect puppetry: Fladam add another dimension to their musical comedy act. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

Fladam have progressed from bedroom beginnings to the stage. “We’ve gone from recording videos of songs on phones from the corner of our bedroom in lockdown to doing it live, first with one number at Love Bites and then last November’s show with friends, when we had to rehearse in the kitchen,” says Adam. “Now we’re developing again.

“Having a long run at the Fringe, we can try things out, playing to totally different audiences over so many performances – and with our shows being topical we may well have to update and re-write things. We’ve already adjusted our Boris Johnson song after what’s happened to him.”

Florence is relishing the Fringe experience. “What’s great is that so many people want to see musical comedy shows,” she says. “One of the joys of being here is that you never know who you might meet for future collaborations, which was one of the lovely things about doing Love Bites and Green Shoots at the Theatre Royal.”

Fladam will benefit from spreading their wings from York. “This is our first time playing to a ‘cold audience’ after playing mainly to our friends in York,” says Florence. “The advice from [York theatre director and actor] Maggie Smales was to talk to the audience to establish a connection with them, and I’ll be handing out biscuits and Adam will be playing the piano before we start.”

Spending a month in Edinburgh will be a learning curve for Adam and Florence. “We’re not producers, so we have to do our own publicity, organise the posters, build our props, do everything ourselves, and that’s where the Theatre Royal and the Pleasance have been really supportive when we’ve dropped them an email asking for their advice,” says Adam.

Whisking up gentle comedy: the comic craft of Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter

“That’s all helped us to mount an Edinburgh show for the first time, when you know you’re going to make mistakes and it’s not just an easy home run.”

What definitely has worked is their Fringe poster with its combination of photography by Charlie Kirkpatrick and a design by Steph Pyne. “It’s a bit retro, a bit Morecambe & Wise,” says Adam. “The first design played too much on being like a Seventies’ tribute, so we’ve dialled that down to still be a little nostalgic but above all quirky and colourful.”

Florence is chuffed. “We’ve had do many people tell us, ‘that really captures you and what you’re all about’,” she says. “Our style of humour is gentle, like Morecambe & Wise’s humour was so warm and lovely. We like to do songs that are clever and make you smile at the same time.”

Fladam: A Musical Comedy Hootenanny, Lammermuir Theatre, The Pleasance at Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EIFF),Venue 150, 4pm daily, until August 29, except August 16. Box office: 0113 556 6550 or pleasanceco.uk.

Fladam also will do six 20-minute street-busking spots at St Andrew’s Square and Cathedral Square from August 19.

Fladam: Making their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut with backing from York Theatre Royal and the Pleasance

What is the future of local journalism? Here comes the Sheffield Tribune’s new age

Sheffield Tribune’s logo

IN Episode 99, Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson ponder the way forward for news delivery with Sheffield Tribune arts writer Liz Ryan at the dawn of the substack.

Under discussion too are the community play 122 Love Stories at a ghostly Harrogate Theatre; Irish comedian Jason Byrne’s upcoming Unblocked tour show and Bob Dylan’s auction value as a one-off recording is sold as a “work of art”.

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/11013649

More Things To Do in and around York on walls, in parks, by water, on stage and in future. List No. 94, courtesy of The Press

The Cure’s Robert Smith backstage, by Alison O’Neill, from her debut exhibition of 1980s’ music photos at City Screen, York. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

FROM The Cure’s Eighties’ photos to Ayckbourn’s lies, folk, riverside and walls festivals to folk’s future, Charles Hutchinson picks his highlights of the week ahead and beyond.

Exhibition launch of the week: Trapped In The Light, 1980s Music Photos by Alison O’Neill, Sky Lounge, City Screen Picturehouse, York, Sunday to September 10

ALISON O’Neill loved photographing The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cramps in the 1980s, but those black-and-white concert and backstage images have been in hibernation for more than three decades, never exhibited until now.

Why? “Shyness,” she says, but with the encouragement of a photographer friend in Berlin, she is letting those nocturnal photographic encounters see the light of day at last at City Screen.

Play of the week: Alan Ayckbourn’s All Lies, Esk Valley Theatre, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, near Whitby, until August 27

When the little white lies start: Luke Dayhill and Saskia Strallen as the young couple in Alan Ayckbourn’s All Lies at Esk Valley Theatre. Picture: Steven Barber

FOLLOWING its initial run at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere, in May, Esk Valley Theatre presents the world premiere production of writer-director Alan Ayckbourn’s 86th full-length play.

The setting is 1957/1958, when a  when a chance meeting elicits love at first sight! The person of your dreams! But will they feel the same? Once you tell the truth about yourself, will you even be worthy of them? Do you take the plunge and reveal all? Or choose the dangerous alternative and tell them…All Lies?!

Questions, questions, so many Ayckbourn questions, in a play where it may be all lies but the truth is in there somewhere. Box office: 01947 897587.

Inside a tipi at the Boatyard York Festival

New festival of the week: The Boatyard York Summer Festival, Ferry Lane, Bishopthorpe, York, today, 11am to 7pm

THE Boatyard plays host to its first summer riverside festival this weekend, featuring live music from York bands and musicians, such as Up In Smoke, and an array of street food to suit meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Organised by Eva Brindley, this family-orientated day promises a Punch & Judy show, face-painting, fare stalls and games, ping pong and volleyball, plus canoe, kayak and day boat hire. Look out for the Bosun’s Oven café, wood-fired pizzas and summery drinks from the horsebox bar. Dogs are welcome; entry is free.

Lewis Capaldi: Heading to the East Coast on Thursday

Outdoor gig of the week; Lewis Capaldi, supported by Wild Youth and Aine Deane, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Thursday, gates 6pm. CANCELLED

UPDATE: 10/8/2022

LEWIS Capaldi has pulled out of his August 11 gig at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. The reason? Illness.

Ticket holders will be reimbursed fully.

SCOTTISH singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi spent ten weeks at the top of the charts with his May 2019 debut album, Divinely Inspired To A Hellish Extent. Alas, the wait goes on for the follow-up, and all the while you will find such questions as “Is Lewis Capaldi quitting?” and “What has happened to Lewis Capaldi” on the internet.

In July, the 25-year-old Glaswegian told his Latitude festival audience “I have no new music to play you”, calling himself “horribly lazy” when faced with “needing to finish my new album”. Looks like you will have to make do with Before You Go, Grace, Hollywood, Bruises et al once more on Thursday; the heartbeat of his first visit to Scarborough OAT in 2019 . Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Much ado about Nothing & Everything Else…and Z Is For Zelda at Theatre@41

Double bill of the week: Black Sheep Theatre in Nothing & Everything Else/Z Is For Zelda, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, August 10 to 13, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SHOWCASING the work of playwright and director Bethany Shilling, the first play is an offbeat comedy about a young woman performing at her very first stand-up comedy open-mic night where she uses the time to check in with herself mentally. 

The second is an attempt by Zelda Fitzgerald to share her life story. In doing so, she flits between her polished, performed self and the obscure ramblings that consume her mind. Is she mad or is this the final act of Zelda’s undeniable character? Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Seth Lakeman: Next Saturday’s main-stage headliner at The Magpies Festival. Picture: Tom Griffiths

Folk festival of the week: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, August 12, music from 6pm; August 13, music from 12.30pm

THE Magpies Festival has expanded from one day at last summer’s inaugural event to two in 2022, hosted again by The Magpies’ transatlantic folk trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon, ahead of this autumn’s release of their new album, Undertow.

Next Friday’s line-up will be: Jaywalkers; Elanor Moss; John Smith; Chris Elliott & Caitlin Jones and headliners Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra. Next Saturday presents Honey & The Bear; Dan Webster Band; Katie Spencer; The People Versus; David Ward Maclean; The Jellyman’s Daughter; Rory Butler; The Magpies plus guests; The 309s; The Drystones and main-stage headliner Seth Lakeman. Look out too for the food market and craft fair. Box office: themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets

The poster for York Walls Festival 2022

Heritage event of the week: York Walls Festival 2022 Summer Weekend, August 13 and 14

THE Friends of York Walls will be partnering with York organisations and community groups to tell stories and promote “our shared community, history and heritage” next weekend.

The Friends look after the 500-year-old Fishergate Postern Tower on behalf of City of York Council and it is sure to feature in the festival, along with the Bar walls and Red Tower. For festival updates, head to: yorkwallsfestival.org.

Joshua Burnell & Band: Autumn tour takes in The Crescent in his home city of York. Picture: Elly Lucas

The future of folk: Joshua Burnell & Band, The Crescent, York, October 16, 8pm

JOSHUA Burnell & Band will play a home-city gig at The Crescent on his nine-date folk-fused baroque’n’roll autumn tour.

Multi-instrumentalist singer Burnell will be joined by globe-trotting violinist Frances Archer, guitarist Nathan Greaves, multi-instrumentalist Oliver Whitehouse, drummer Ed Simpson and vocalist Frances Sladen. “Think The War On Drugs meets Seth Lakeman on Ziggy Stardust’s spaceship,” he suggests. Tickets: joshuaburnell.co.uk/tour or ticketweb.co.uk.

Theatre@41 combines the new and familiar in autumn and winter of theatre, music, comedy, cinema and pantomime rehearsals

Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Helen Bauer in Madam Good Tit at Theatre@41 in October

NEW partnerships, returning performers, comedy acts aplenty and community theatre regulars make up the autumn and winter season at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York.

One year on from throwing open its doors post-pandemic, the black-box studio will play host to Yorkshire and national companies and artists alike.

“We’re doing all right, whether by chance or design!” says chair Alan Park.  “In the year since we took over the programming, there’s been a nice balance between comedy, music and theatre, with a focus on new writing, as well as continuing our relationships with York Stage, Pick Me Up Theatre, White Rose Theatre, York Settlement Community Players and York Musical Theatre Company.

“The mailing list has gone up from 40 to 2,000 and we feel that people are invested in the building, our charity status, the work we present, and want us to do well. There are plenty of people who run theatres, but we want to run a ‘movement’ and we think we’re getting there.”

Colin Hoult in The Death Of Anna Mann. Picture: Linda Blacker

Looking ahead to the new season, one new partnership finds Theatre@41 linking up with York promoter Al Greaves’s well-established Burning Duck Comedy Club, complementing his programme at The Crescent (and previously at The Basement at City Screen Picturehouse).

“Maggie Smales, one of our trustees, reached out to Al,” says Alan.  “Initially, comedy promoters were contacting us directly, and we were doing maybe two comedy shows a season, but we got in touch with Al to say ‘we don’t want to tread on your toes, but we’d love to work with you’, and so now we have six shows this autumn through linking up with Al.”

Among those shows will be Lauren Pattinson’s It Is What It Is on September 16; Colin Hoult, from the Netflix series After Life, presenting The Death Of Anna Mann  on October 8; the returning Olga Koch, star of her own BBC Radio 4 series, in Just Friends on October 15 and fellow Edinburgh Festival Fringe Best Newcomer nominee Helen Bauer’s Madam Good Tit, on October 22. Look out too for Taskmaster winner Sophie Duker next April.

Returning to Theatre@41 will be Dyad Productions, following up the sold-out I, Elizabeth with Christmas Gothic, adapted and performed by Rebecca Vaughan, on November 26 and 27, and  Sarah-Louise Young, building on the sold-out success of Alan’s favourite show so far, An Evening Without Kate Bush, by presenting her charming yet cheeky West End and Off-Broadway cabaret hit Julie Madly Deeply, a tribute to Julie Andrews.

Sarah-Louise Young in her Julie Andrews tribute, Julie Madly Deeply. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Further returnees will be East Riding company Other Lives Theatre Productions in Landmarks, Nick Darke’s environmentally topical story of a farming family feud, and Nunkie Theatre’s Robert Lloyd Parry with two more gripping MR James ghost stories by candlelight in Oh, Whistle on November 25.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from artists, such as Olga Koch’s agent,” says Alan. “We know there’s paint peeling off walls, the roof is leaking, but we believe in making the artists welcome, like giving them a little York Gin pack on arrival. We try to be a friendly venue where everyone will want to come back.”

Endorsements for Theatre@41 are spreading, leading to debut visits by Mark Farrelly in his Quentin Crisp show, Naked Hope, on September 7 and Olivier Award-winning actor and director Guy Masterson, staging his one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on November 24.

Seven York companies and performers are booked in. Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre will stage Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr from September 23 to October 2 and The Sound Of Music from December 16 to 30 in the Christmas slot. York Settlement Community Players will perform Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning Broadway comedy Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike from November 3 to 5.

Rebecca Vaughan in Dyad Productions’ Christmas Gothic. Picture: Ben Guest

White Rose Theatre will deliver The Last Five Years, an emotionally charged musical full of upbeat numbers and beautiful ballads by Jason Robert Brown that tells the story of two lovers over the course of five years, with Cathy starting her tale at the end of the relationship and Jamie telling his story from the beginning. Directed by Claire Pulpher, it will run from November 9 to 12.

Barnstorming country-rock band The Rusty Pegs will play Rumours (Again!) in a 45th anniversary celebration of the Fleetwood Mac nugget on October 9, after giving Theatre@41’s re-launch gig post-Covid; Jessa Liversidge will sing Some Enchanted Sondheim on October 9, and York Musical Theatre Company will mark their 120th anniversary with A Musical Celebration on October 13 and 14.

Spookologist and ghost-botherer Doctor Dorian Deathly, a winner in the 2022 Visit York Tourism Awards, will make his Theatre@41 debut with his Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!, from October 26 to 31.

“Each night, Dorian will be hot-footing over here after doing his Deathly Dark ghost tour for a cabaret evening with a bar of the dead and cocktails,” says Alan. “He came to us with the idea, and we thought, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. He has a huge following, so we’re delighted he wanted to come here.”

The horror! The horror” The poster for Doctor Dorian Deathly’s Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!

Paul Birch, one of the stand-outs in York Theatre Royal’s Green Shoots showcase for new work in June, will bring his improv group, Foolish, to Theatre@41 for the third time. On September 15, he will host a night of ad-hoc comedy improvised from suggestions written in chalk on the stage floor under the title of Cobbled Together.

Seeking to foster a growing relationship with The Groves community, Theatre@41 will play host to the inaugural Groves Community Cinema: a weekend of classic films old and new right on residents’ doorsteps when visitors will be invited to “pay what you feel”, with support from an ARG Events and Festivals Grant in partnership with Make It York and City of York Council.

“Historically, we’re on the edge of The Groves, and maybe The Groves has never quite felt this is The Groves’ theatre, but we hope that putting on a community cinema weekend will make it feel more like it’s part of their community, rather than people just walking past our doors,” says Alan.

Olga Koch: Returning to Theatre@41 to present Just Friends

September 10 will offer Encanto Singalong at 2.30pm and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind at 6pm; September 11, Kes at 2.30pm and Nomadland at 6.30pm.

Three more new additions add to the sense of momentum at Theatre@41. Firstly, £5,000 funding from City of York Council and the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation will ensure the lighting rig “no longer wobbles”; secondly, the theatre will resume being a polling station for elections.

Last, but not least, the Monkgate building will be turned into the rehearsal rooms for veteran dame Berwick Kaler’s Grand Opera House pantomime, Old Granny Goose. “We’re giving them multiple rooms, including the dance studio,” says Alan. “They’ll have the run of the building basically.”

For performance times and to book tickets for the new season, head to: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

Pantomime dame Berwick Kaler and daft-lad sidekick Martin Barrass will be rehearsing Old Granny Goose at Theatre@41 ahead of its run at the Grand Opera House, York

Who’s better? Picasso or Warhol? Here’s the verdict of acerbic New Yorker Fran Lebowitz in arts podcast Two Big Egos…

Fran Lebowitz: Opinions aplenty at Grand Opera House, York

CULTURE vultures Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson mull over American writer and Netflix documentary acerbic wit Fran Lebowitz’s night with bite at the Grand Opera House, York, in Episode 98 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Under discussion too are Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant talking politics, The Smile’s detour from Radiohead and the new Suicide compilation.

Final thought: is the writing on the wall for Eng. Lit studies at university? To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/11013535

More Things To Do in York and beyond amid festival fever and a Viking reawakening. List No. 93, courtesy of The Press, York

Bull : York band play Deer Shed Festival 12 on Sunday

MUSIC in meadows and parks, a Viking community play and Osmondmania revisited, knitting and a superstar by the sea are Charles Hutchinson’s alternatives to summer holiday queues at ports.    

Festival of the weekend: Deer Shed Festival 12, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, near Thirsk, today and tomorrow

DEER Shed Festival 12 takes the theme of Pocket Planet, “a celebration of different things from different planets”, spanning live music, DJ sets, comedy, science, Fringe and children’s shows, spoken word, films, sports, workshops and wellbeing.

John Grant, from Buchanan, Michigan, headlines the main stage tonight, preceded by a special guest set from Self Esteem, alias Rebecca Lucy Taylor, from Sheffield/Rotherham. Art-rock Londoners  Django Django top Sunday’s bill, backed up by South London post-punk hipsters Dry Cleaning, while York’s ebullient Bull headline the Acorn Stage that night. For ticket details, head to: deershedfestival.com.

The Feeling: Headlining MeadowFest in Malton. Picture: Andy Hughes

The other festival at the weekend: MeadowFest, Talbot Hotel gardens and riverside meadows, Malton, today, 10am to 10pm

MALTON’S boutique midsummer music festival, MeadowFest, welcomes headliners The Feeling, Alistair Griffin, New York Brass Band, Huge and Hyde Family Jam to the main stage.

Performing on the Hay Bale Stage will be Flatcap Carnival, Ross McWhirter, Simon Snaize, George Rowell, Maggie Wakeling, Nick Rooke, The Twisty Turns and Graeme Hargreaves.

Children’s entertainment, inflatables, fairground rides, street food and a festival bar are further attractions. Bring folding chairs, picnics…and well-behaved dogs on leads. Tickets: tickettailor.com/events/visitmalton.

Kate Hampson in the title role of The Coppergate Woman, York Theatre Royal’s summer community play

Play of the week: The Coppergate Woman, York Theatre Royal, today until August 7

IN an ever-changing world, how do we hang on to who we are when the grounds are shifting beneath our feet? How do we look forward and rebuild, when the end times feel ever more real? In the heart of York lies a woman with the answers.

Discovered in a shallow pit by the River Foss, the remains of an unknown woman are displayed in a Jorvik Viking Centre glass cage for all to see. Until, one day, the visitors are no more, the city is quiet and the Coppergate Woman rises again in Maureen Lennon’s community play, directed by Juliet Forster and John R Wilkinson with a cast of 90 led by Kate Hampson. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Crowning glory: Annie Stothert’s papier-mâché sculpture at Blossom Street Gallery

Exhibitions of the week: Colourforms, by Fiona Lane and Claire West; Enchanted Forest, by Annie Stothert, Blossom Street Gallery, York

BLOSSOM Street Gallery has two exhibitions running simultaneously until the end of August.

Colourforms presents brightly coloured paintings by York Open Studios mixed-media artist Fiona Lane and “art to make you smile” painter Claire West, from Beverley. Enchanted Forest brings together a highly imaginative collection of papier-mâché sculptures by Annie Stothert, from Yorkshire, inspired by folklore, myth and fairy tales.

Yoshika Colwell: Knitting together music, metaphysics and words in Invisible Mending at the Stilly Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe taster of the week: Yoshika Colwell in Invisible Mending, Stilly Fringe, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 7pm

IN the summer of 2020 as a pandemic raged, Yoshika Colwell was processing the death of her beloved grandmother, Ann. A woman of few words, Ann’s main outlet was her glorious, virtuosic knitting. As she approached the end of her life, Ann started a project with no pattern and no end goal.

Yoshika takes up this piece where Ann left off, creating a show about love, grief and knitting with fellow experimental music/theatre-maker Max Barton, from Second Body. Original music, metaphysics and verbatim material combine to explore the power in small acts of creativity. Box office: atthemill.org.

How they became big in the Seventies: The Osmonds: A New Musical tells the family story in song at the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: The Osmonds: A New Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday

YOU loved them for a reason. Now, for the first time, family drummer Jay Osmond turns his story into a family drama on the musical stage, offering the chance to re-live the ups and downs, the hits and the hysteria of the clean-living Seventies’ boy band from Utah, USA.

Directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Bill Deamer, this is Jay’s official account of how five brothers born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith were pushed into the spotlight as children on the Andy Williams Show and the hits then flowed, Crazy Horses, Let Me In et al. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Christina Aguilera: Biggest American female star to play Scarborough Open Air Theatre since Britney Spears

American superstar grand entrance of the week: Christina Aguilera, supported by Union J, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Tuesday, gates open at 6pm

CHRISTINA Aguilera piles up the Billboard Hot 100 hits, the Grammy awards and the 43 million record sales, to go with the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the honour of being the only artist under the age of 30 to feature in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

Add to those accolades her coaching on NBC’s The Voice and her role as a global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief. Tuesday, however, is all about Genie In A Bottle, Beautiful, What A Girl Wants, Dirty and Fighter. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Kate Pettitt: Kate Pettitt: One of the artists taking part in Arnup Studios Summer Open Weekend. Picture: Olivia Brabbs

Open studios of the week: Arnup Studios Summer Open Weekend, Panman Lane, Holtby, near York, August 6 and 7, 10am to 5pm

ARNUP Studios open their countryside doors for a weekend of art, craft and, fingers crossed, summer sunshine.

Once the home and workplace of the late potter and sculptor Mick and Sally Arnup, Arnup Studios are now run by daughter and stoneware potter Hannah, who oversaw their renovation. Liz Foster, Michelle Galloway, Kate Pettitt, Reg Walker, Emma Welsh and Hannah all have working studios there.

All but abstract sculptor Reg of these resident artists will be taking part, showing a mix of painting, print, drawing, ceramics and jewellery. They will be on hand to discuss their work and share processes and techniques with visitors, who are invitated to buy original one-off pieces of art and craft, smaller gifts and cards direct from the makers or simply to browse and enjoy the day.

As well as a small carpark on site, free on-street parking is available in the village. The studios are bike and dog friendly; families are welcome. 

REVIEW: Grainger & Wright in The Gods The Gods The Gods, Stilly Fringe, At The Mill, Stillington, tonight at 8.45pm ****

Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, Phil Grainger and Megan Drury in The Gods The Gods The Gods

WHY call this Wright & Grainger show The Gods The Gods The Gods, rather than plain old The Gods?

“A lot of things come in threes and a lot of things in this show fall naturally into threes,” reasons Alexander Flangan Wright, the Wright to Phil Grainger’s Grainger in this enduring Easingwold partnership.

“It’s one of those powerful numbers: a triad, with the three of us telling the story.” Make that Grainger & Wright & Drury, the trio being completed by Megan Drury, Australian actor, blues singer, writer, creative artists and dramaturg – oh, and newly married to Alex too.

The Gods The Gods Gods is the third in the trilogy of myth, music and spoken word shows by Grainger & Wright, premiered in a Covid-curtailed Australian visit in 2020 and now following Orpheus and Eurydice into open-air performances under the sails at Stillington Mill, near York.

The Gods X 3 will be heading indoors at the Edinburgh Fringe, with lighting pyrotechnics re-booted in the Assembly Rooms’ Bijou tent from August 3 to 29, when this dancier variation on gig theatre will carry the warnings: “Audience participation, Involves walking, Strobe lighting, Strong language/swearing”.

Saturday night was rather more informal, Alex, Phil and Megan testing out their hi-tech electronic requirements, spread out in a triangle of stations of equipment, as the audience gathered on the banks of seating. “Still not the show,” Alex would say, as another adjustment was made.

Such is the nature of a Fringe warm-up and of a first performance in this al-fresco iteration minus the probing strobe lighting. It was all very much in keeping with the spirit of At The Mill, where theatrical magic is made on the hoof, aided by Abbigail Ollive’s pizzas adding culinary pizzazz to the occasion and cocktails playing on the tongue.

Still doing the Maths, The Gods The Gods The Gods is in fact four, not three, stories, spread over 11 original musical tracks arranged by Grainger and Tom Figgins. They are stories of faith and loss of faith; love and loss of love; faith in anything but religious faith; false gods and new gods; a search for holy ground or finding heaven on earth. All set against a final council of the old Gods, Zeus and co, gathering at the end of days.

As Wright elucidated at the close, they are stories grown freshly from the seeds of Kae Tempest, Walt Whitman and David Whyte (Finisterre), and the messages on 28 signs posted on London’s Millennium Bridge, read by Alex and Megan as they crossed over between  St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern, the towers of God and gallery, religion and art, that now do battle in The Gods The Gods The Gods.

Phil plays guitar and sings mightily yet tenderly, a Yorkshireman as soulful as Joe Cocker and John Newman; Megan throws shapes and switches between heartfelt spoken word and blues singing that brings out the bruises; Alex plays bass and percussion and spins words of dazzling rhythm, breath-taking in their imagery and rapper’s speed. All three tap away at technology too, evoking Kraftwerk.

Grainger & Wright promised a big, loud, bopping night in the garden – and delivered exactly that. In every way it is the biggest show of the trilogy; the spoken word now complemented by a broader musical palette that combines classic songwriting tropes and lyricism with dancefloor pulses and electronic flash to induce a state of euphoria.  

Alas, more Gods than advertised played their hand as the night darkened: the Weather Gods raining on the parade – and all that technology – with one story yet to be completed. Suddenly, the night “involved walking” as we were ushered to the café bar, where Wright gave a resumé of the closing chapters, finishing with that inspirational walk across the London bridge. Trouble at The Mill? Not when they can improvise like that.

An album is in the offing too, and that won’t be in the lap – or laptop- of the Gods, the Gods, the Gods.

Holly Beasley-Garrigan in Opal Fruits, tonight at 7pm

THE Stilly Fringe presents Opal Fruits, Holly Beasley-Garrigan’s solo show about class, nostalgia and five generations of women from a London council estate in South London, tonight at 7pm; Casey Jay Andrews’ The Wild Unfeeling World, a tender, furious and fragile re-imagining of Moby Dick, and A Place That belongs To Monsters, a re-imagining of The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, tomorrow at 7pm and 8.45pm respectively.

Lucy Bird, originally from Ampleforth, heads back north with her Birmingham company Paperback Theatre for an “utterly Brummie” re-telling of The Wind In The Willows on July 30 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Yoshika Colwell returns to The Mill for the Stilly Fringe finale, Invisible Mending, her exploration of the power in small acts of creativity through original music, metaphysics and verbatim material, in collaboration with Second Body’s Max Barton, on July 31 at 7pm.

For tickets, head to atthemill.org.

Michael Palin’s From North Korea Into Iraq tour show heading for Grand Opera House

From North Korea Into Iraq: Yorkshireman Michael Palin’s journey for his TV series, tour show and book

MONTY Python comedy legend and intrepid globetrotter Michael Palin will give a first-hand account of his extraordinary journeys through two countries on the dark side of history on his new solo tour this autumn, From North Korea Into Iraq.

The Yorkshireman’s only Yorkshire destination on his nine-date itinerary will be the Grand Opera House, York, on October 6.

Using photos and film shot at the time, Palin, 79, will recall his challenging adventures in the tightly controlled time bomb of the People’s Republic of North Korea and the bruised land of Iraq, once the home of civilisation, torn apart over the past 30 years by brutal war and bloodshed.

Both named by President George Bush as being part of the Axis of Evil, these two countries are often portrayed as international pariahs, two of the last places you would want to visit, but for Sheffield-born Palin the best part of travelling is looking behind the headlines and discovering what life is really like for the people who live there.

“We shouldn’t forget that we share a common humanity with the people of North Korea and Iraq,” says globe-trotting Michael Palin

“We shouldn’t forget that we share a common humanity with the people of North Korea and Iraq, and in both these tough and difficult countries we found, as you will see, humour and hope, ambition, expectation, warmth, hospitality and extraordinary resilience,” he says.

“These journeys were for me a total eye-opener. From North Korea Into Iraq may take you out of your comfort zone but I hope, like me, that once we’ve travelled together, your feelings about these two countries, and the wider world we share, will never be quite the same again.”

Palin’s theatre tour will follow the autumn launch of his new Channel 5 series, Michael Palin: Into Iraq, produced by ITN Productions.  

Palin’s accompanying new book, Into Iraq, will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann on September 15.

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

The poster for Michael Palin’s From North Korea Into Iraq tour

More Things To Do in York and beyond in a world of Gods, Romans, a tiger and a sexbomb. List No. 92, courtesy of The Press

Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, Phil Grainger and Megan Drury in The Gods The Gods The Gods at Stillington Mill for four nights. Picture: Tom Figgins

GODS on the Fringe, battling Romans, a riverside market, a Welsh icon and a thirsty Tiger are courting Charles Hutchinson’s attention on the art beat.

Theatre event of the week: Wright & Grainger in The Gods The Gods The Gods, Stilly Fringe, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, 8.45pm

ALEXANDER Flanagan Wright and Phil Grainger believe that three is indeed the magic number. Hence The Gods The Gods The Gods as a title for their third triad of myths, spoken word and music after Orpheus and Eurydice, and their first with a third participant, Australian actor, writer and dramaturg, Megan Drury.

Not everything is about threes, however. There will be four stories and 11 tracks in a show full of big beats, soaring melodies and heart-stopping words as Wright & Grainger head to the crossroads where mythology meets real life. Box office: atthemill.org.

Silversmith and jewellery designer Jen Ricketts: One of 42 artists and makers taking part in Ryedale Open Studios. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Art event of the week outside York: Ryedale Open Studios, today, tomorrow, July 30 and 31, 10am to 5pm

FOUNDED by Layla Khoo, Kirsty Kirk and Petra Young, the second Ryedale Open Studios gives visitors the chance to explore the district’s creative talents and skills, ranging from painting, printing, drawing and photography to ceramics, textiles, metalwork and willow weaving.

More than 40 artists are participating in an event organised by Vault Arts Centre. Head to ryedaleopenstudios.com, where a printable map and handbook can be downloaded.

Miles And The Chain Gang: Busy weekend ahead

Miles ahead: Miles And The Chain Gang, Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight, 7.30pm; Harrogate Blues Bar, Montpellier Parade, Harrogate, Sunday, 9pm

YORK poet, radio presenter, festival founder, singer and songwriter Miles Salter and his new line-up of The Chain Gang head to Helmsley and Harrogate this weekend.

Crawling from the swamps of North Yorkshire, with the bit between their teeth and the blues biting at their heels, The Chain Gang will be making their Helmsley debut. Taking their cues from Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Led Zeppelin and early 1980s’ new wave, Salter and co deliver a potent brew of their own tunes as well as classics by Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell and more besides.

“There’s quite a crowd coming to Helmsley but some tickets are available, and you can book online at helmsleyartscentre.co.uk,” says Miles. “Both gigs will feature all the songs we have on YouTube: When It Comes To You, Drag Me To The Light, All Of Our Lives and latest single Love Is Blind, a song played more than 300 times on radio stations in the UK, Europe and USA.” For Harrogate details, head to: bluesbar.co.uk.

What did the Romans ever do for us? Time to find out at the first Malton Museum Roman Festival

Festival of the week: Malton Museum Roman Festival, Sunday, 11am to 3.30pm

MALTON Museum is hosting its inaugural Roman Festival this weekend at the Roman Fort on Orchard Fields.

Live action demonstrations will be staged in the arena by experimental archaeologists Equistry (Roman Cavalry) and re-enactment group Magister Militum will establish a Roman Legionary encampment and engage in battle sequences.

Children can join the Children’s Roman Army, paint shields, create mosaics, try wax tablet drawing and take part in archaeology activities. Tickets: maltonmuseum.co.uk.

Teatime mayhem amid much munching: The Tiger Who Came To Tea tucks in at the Grand Opera House, York

Children’s show of the week: The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 2pm; Tuesday and Wednesday, 11am, 2pm

WHAT happens when a Tiger knocks on the door at teatime? You better let Tiger in as the tea guzzler in Judith Kerry’s story returns to the road in this award-winning family show after a West End season.

Expect oodles of magic, singalong songs and clumsy chaos in a stage adaptation full of teatime mayhem and surprises, suitable for age three upwards. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Sexbomb alert: Sir Tom Jones soon to hit Scarborough

Knight’s night out of the week: Sir Tom Jones, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Tuesday, gates open at 6pm

PONTYPRIDD powerhouse Sir Tom Jones heads to the Yorkshire coast with another number one album in his pocket, Surrounded By Time, his 41st studio set, no less.

Maybe singles Talking Reality Television Blues, No Hole In My Head, One More Cup Of Coffee and Pop Star from that April 2021 album will feature in the 82-year-old Welshman’s set. The likes of Delilah, Green Green Grass Of Home, It’s Not Unusual, She’s A Lady, You’re My World, What’s New Pussycat?, Kiss and Sexbomb surely will. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Look sharp for a ticket: Joe Jackson welcomes sinners to his very rare York concert on Friday

Rearranged gig of the week: Joe Jackson, Sing, You Sinners! Tour, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

FAMILIAR foe Covid-19 delayed only the second ever York concert of singer, songwriter and consummate arranger Joe Jackson’s 44-year career, put back from March 17 to July 29.

Better late than never, Jackson promises hits, songs not aired in years and new material, performed in the company of Graham Maby on bass, Teddy Kumpel on guitar and Doug Yowell on drums and electronics. 

A mini-solo set is on the cards too in Jackson’s only Yorkshire gig of his European tour; his first York appearance since the Grand Opera House in June 2005. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

A montage of work by artists and makers taking part in this summer’s York River Art Market

York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, River Ouse, York, July 30 and 31; August 6 and 7; August 13 and 14

YORK River Art Market returns for its seventh summer, this time spread over three full weekends. Drawing comparisons with the Left Bank in Paris, this open-air market is free of charge and provides the chance to browse and buy directly from artists showcasing their creative wares along the riverside railings.

Each market will showcase a different variety of 30 artists with the guarantee that no two markets are ever the same. Look out for paintings, prints, jewellery, textiles, glass work, ceramics, maybe even artisan shaving cream (one of last summer’s hit stalls).

The tour poster for Michael Palin’s new travel show, From North Korea Into Iraq, bound for the Grand Opera House, York

Show announcement of the week: Michael Palin, From North Korea Into Iraq, Grand Opera House, York, October 6

MONTY Python comedy legend and intrepid globetrotter Michael Palin will give a first-hand account of his extraordinary journeys through two countries on the dark side of history on his new solo tour this autumn.

Using photos and film, he will recall his challenging adventures in the tightly controlled time bomb of the People’s Republic of North Korea and the bruised land of Iraq, once the home of civilisation, torn apart over the past 30 years by brutal war and bloodshed.

Palin’s theatre tour will be preceded by his new Channel 5 series, Michael Palin: Into Iraq. York tickets: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Stilly Fringe takes over At The Mill for fiesta of theatre, comedy, music and metaphysics

Mouth-watering prospect: Holly Beasley-Garrigan in Opal Fruits on July 28

THE Great Yorkshire Fringe exited stage left from York in 2019 after five years, 1,200 shows, 9,000 performers and 110,000 visitors.

Frustrated by red tape, impresario Martin Witts pulled the plug on his fiesta of comedy, theatre, spoken word and children’s shows, since when the black hole in York’s summer entertainment calendar has never been filled.

In no way on the same scale, but occupying the same pre-Edinburgh Fringe slot, here comes the Stilly Fringe, out on the fringes of York at Stillington Mill, the home of the At The Mill arts hub, Saturday café and guest-chef supper club nights.

Running from tonight(July 22) until July 31, this is the latest enterprise from newly married Alexander Flanagan Wright, North Yorkshire writer, theatre-maker and visionary facilitator, and Megan Drury, Australian actor, writer and creative artist.

Selkie myth making: Hannah Davies and Jack Woods in The Ballad Of Blea Wyke on Saturday and Sunday night

“It’s come about because a bunch of our dear pals said, ‘can we come and do this?’, like most of the things we do here come about,” says Alex. “There seemed to be a critical mass to make us think these weekends would be a good way to test things out.

“We thought, ‘let’s do it in a communal and convivial way’ with that bond between audiences and performers giving it a different vibe, seeing new work with a chance to chat with the artists. We love doing that here.”

Presented in the mill gardens, either on the open-air stage on the repurposed tennis court or under the cover of the café-bar, the Summer At The Mill programme takes in theatre and spoken-word premieres, comedy, children’s shows, concerts, Gary Stewart’s folk club bills, even silent disco dance nights.

The Stilly Fringe largely mirrors that format but with the added intrigue of giving an early opportunity to see shows bound for the Scottish capital in August. “Six out of nine are going to Edinburgh,” says Alex. “The Lovely Boys, The Gods The Gods The Gods, Invisible Mending, Opal Fruits and Casey Jay Andrews’ double bill, The Wild Unfeeling World and A Place That Belongs To Monsters, are all heading there.”

The Lovely Boys: Opening Stilly Fringe tonight

First up, tonight at 7pm, will be Joe Kent-Walters and Mikey Bligh-Smith’s absurd clown bonanza, The Lovely Boys, followed by Harrison Casswell & Friends, an 8.45pm set of electric spoken word and live music fronted by the Doncaster poet and writer, who Alex first saw on a Say Owt bill in York.

Next will be Say Owt leading light, York poet, actor, playwright and spoken-word slam champion Hannah Davies’s The Ballad Of Blea Wyke, a lyrical re-telling of the selkie myth, set against the Yorkshire coast, complemented by original live music by Jack Woods, in work-in-progress performances at 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.

On both those nights at 8.45pm, and on July 27 and 28 too, Alex and fellow Easingwold School old boy Phil Grainger will give their first Stillington performances of The Gods The Gods The Gods, the third in their trilogy of spoken-word and live music shows rooted in ancient myths after Orpheus and Eurydice.

“We first did the show in Australia in early 2020 before the pandemic forced us home, and we’re going to do a big, loud, bopping version in the garden, different from the indoor production that had a pretty massive lighting set-up,” says Alex.

Three is a magic number: Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, Phil Grainger and Megan Drury in The Gods The Gods The Gods on July 23, 24, 27 and 28. Picture: Tom Figgins

“We’re having to look at how to play it within this landscape and within the Mill’s vibe, rather than trying to pretend we’re in a black-box theatre design. We’re just really excited to be telling these stories that we’ve been living with for three years.

“We’ve been doing loads of work with Megan as our dramaturg, and Phil and Tom (Figgins) have been re-working the music, re-writing some parts and writing plenty of new pieces.

“It feels like a two-year hiatus that has allowed us to think about these different story-telling modes to tell it with greater clarity.”

Why call this Wright & Grainger show The Gods The Gods The Gods, rather than plain old The Gods, Alex? “A lot of things come in threes and a lot of things in this show fall naturally  into threes,” he reasons. “It’s one of those powerful numbers: a triad, with the three of us [Alex, Phil and Megan] telling the story.

Small acts of creativity: Yoshika Colwell combines metaphysics, music and verbatim material in Invisible Mending on July 31

“There are in fact four stories, three of them everyday stories and one story of the Gods. Most of those stories are told in three parts, and we repeat things three times in parts – and it’s just a good title!

“It’s also the third in the series of storytelling pieces we’ve done, taking a big jump on from the first two with a lot bigger soundtrack of Phil’s songs and Tom’s music production and a more complex narrative that we’ve weaved into it.”

The Stilly Fringe also will present Opal Fruits, Holly Beasley-Garrigan’s solo show about class, nostalgia and five generations of women from a South London council estate, on July 28 at 7pm; Casey Jay Andrews’ The Wild Unfeeling World, a tender, furious and fragile re-imagining of Moby Dick, and A Place That Belongs To Monsters, a re-imagining of The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, on July 29 at 7pm and 8.45pm respectively.

Lucy Bird, originally from Ampleforth, will head back north with her Birmingham company Paperback Theatre for an “utterly Brummie” re-telling of The Wind In The Willows on July 30 at 2.30pm and 7pm.

Yoshika Colwell will return to the Mill for the Stilly Fringe finale, Invisible Mending, her exploration of power in small acts of creativity through original music, metaphysics and verbatim material, presented in collaboration with Second Body’s Max Barton, on July 31 at 7pm.

For tickets, head to atthemill.org.