Nashville country great Beth Nielsen Chapman to play Leeds City Varieties

Beth Nielsen Chapman: Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductee, heading for Leeds

NASHVILLE singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman will play Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on August 30 on her British summer tour.

Born in Harlingen, Texas, 65-year-old Beth has recorded 15 albums and her compositions have been recorded by Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mindy McCready, Trisha Yearwood, Waylon Jennings, the Indigo Girls, Barbara Mandrell, Roberta Flack, Brenda Lee, Anne Murray and Keb’ Mo’, among others.

Amy Grant, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Kimmie Rhodes, John Prine, Michael McDonald, Paul Carrack and Vince Gill have all performed with her on her albums. Her music has been featured in films and in television series too, such as ER and Charmed.

This Kiss, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ 1999 Song of the Year, sung by Faith Hill, garnered Beth a Grammy nomination, as did her song The Mighty Sky in 2012.

She was Nashville NAMMY’s 1999 Songwriter of the Year and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2016.

Having lost her first husband, Ernest Chapman, to cancer in 1994, Chapman survived breast cancer herself in 2000 and a brain tumour in 2009. Her concerts, workshops and Keynote presentations draw from direct experience in her “fascinating dance between cognition, healing and the creative flow, her songs taking you on a journey through the depth, humour and the wonder of life”.

She recorded the 2016 album Liv On with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky, featuring songs about loss and moving on from grief that they performed on tour in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2017.

Beth, who is an ambassador for the Buddy Holly Foundation, has taught songwriting and creativity masterclasses at universities and colleges internationally, such as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts.

Beth’s latest album, CrazyTown, was released on Cooking Vinyl, in 2022, the year when her second husband, psychologist and photographer Bob Sherman, died from leukaemia. 

Tickets for her 7.30pm Leeds concert are on sale at bethnielsenchapman.com.

Beth Nielsen Chapman: Which country star hasn’t she written for?!

Songs written by Bethy Nielsen Chapman for other acts

Here We Are, Alabama; The Colour Of Roses, Bette Midler; What’s The Matter With You Baby, Claudia Church; When Love Is New, Crystal Gayle; All The Reasons Why, Long Way Down, for Highway 101; You Say You Will, Holly Dunn; World Of Hurt, Ilse DeLange; Simple Things, Jim Brickman and Rebecca Lynn Howard; The Moment You Were Mine, Juice Newton; Five Minutes, Lorrie Morgan; Happy Girl, Martina McBride; Almost Home, Mary Chapin Carpenter; Far Cry From Love, Megan McKenna; She Walks With Me (co-written), Michael W Smith; One In A Million, Mindy McCready; Deep Inside Of You, Neil Diamond; Save Yourself, Suzy Bogguss; Strong Enough To Bend, Tanya Tucker; Sometimes Goodbye, Terri Clark; Down On My Knees, You Say You Will, Trying To Love You, Trisha Yearwood; Shine On Me, Old Church Hymns And Nursery Rhymes, Waylon Jennings; Nothing I Can Do About It Now, Ain’t Necessarily So, If My World Didn’t Have You, Willie Nelson.

REVIEW: York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday ****

Gold top performance: Reuben Khan’s Joseph in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. All pictures: Charlie Kirkpatrick

AFTER Lee Mead, Keith Jack, Joe McElderry and Union J’s Jaymi Hensley, Joseph’s coat of many colours fits Reuben Khan delightfully lightly at the Grand Opera House.

The University of York psychology student, from Burnley, has plenty on his mind: third-year studies; his debut York Stage title role and applications to London drama schools to do a Masters degree in musical theatre.

On the evidence of his assured performance at 23, especially vocally, his future looks as bright as the Technicolor Dreamcoat that had him “saying the colours of Jospeh’s coat before I could spell them” on car journeys with his mum.

Director, producer and designer Nik Briggs returns to Lloyd Webber and Rice’s early musical for the first time since his “Joseph as you’ve never seen it before” show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in November 2018 with its  cast of 50 and Joseph in pyjamas.

Performing on crutches: Finn East’s Simeon singing with the Brothers

The Grand Opera House offers the opportunity to deliver a production on a bigger scale, not in cast size, but in lighting, staging and visual impact, aided by the fabulous parade of costume designs from Charades Theatrical Costume, St Helens.

The stage is built from scratch, as first the Narrator, Hannah Shaw, then Joseph and children from York Stage School (divided into Team Canaan and Team Egypt) oversee the creation of the world of Canaan, home to Jacob and his 11 sons (some of them daughters in Briggs’s company).

It looks so inviting, you want to book a holiday there. All it needs now to complete the scene is a camel. Oh, and here comes a camel on wheels, pretty much life-size!

From the off, this sung-through pop musical moves at a lick: typified by Finn East’s Simeon defying his injured knee to speed around on crutches, popping up everywhere and taking on a second role too as the Snake.

Hannah Shaw, who studied music at York St John University, sets the tone and style in glittering dress and shiny boots, engaging with the children like a teacher, driving the show forward and singing with oomph, both in her high notes and a lower register.

Storyteller in song: Hannah Shaw’s Narrator

Reuben Khan’s Joseph sings like a dream, whatever a song demands, whether tenderness, drama, power, or emotion further heightened by standing atop a ladder on a stage suddenly full of them in one of Briggs’s most striking designs.

Khan’s characterisation of Joseph has to be expressed largely through Rice’s narrative lyrics, and he does so particularly strongly in the dark ballad Close Every Door, while Any Dream Will Do is as irresistible as ever.

Lesley Hill’s choreography is as playful, fun and camp as this glitterball of a musical demands, at its best in the glorious ensemble number Joseph’s Coat, where Adam Moore’s lighting design matches every change of colour in the lyric.

Briggs’s company revels in playing old favourites with a knowing campness that has only increased with the passing of the years, especially in Jacob (Martin Rowley) and the brothers’ cod rendition of the sad chanson Those Canaan Days, exaggerated French accents et al.

The York Stage company in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Benjamin’s Calypso is even dafter, full of Caribbean joy as Cyanne Unamba-Oparah’s Judah has the brothers walking on sunshine.

Pop hit after pop hit hits home in all manner of musical styles, from Alex Hogg leading the brothers in the One More Angel In Heaven hoedown to Matthew Clarke’s vainglorious Potiphar luxuriating in the richness of his self-titled song.

In the absence of Carly Morton with shingles (get well soon, Carly), Amy Barrett takes on the rock’n’roll role of Pharaoh, traditionally played in sequinned-Elvis-in-Las-Vegas style. Not so much Elvis as Elvira here, but her Song Of The King is still a peach (one of the 29 colours in Joseph’s coat, by the way).

Adam Tomlinson’s 15-piece orchestra is on top form throughout, savouring the multitude of song styles and pumping up the beat for the Joseph Megamix finale as the party vibe suffuses the cast and cheering audience alike.

York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, 7.30pm tonight, Wednesday and Thursday; 5pm and 8pm, Friday; 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Saturday. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

More Things To Do in York and beyond as art bursts out of every corner. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 16, from The Press

Impressionist oil painter Michael Hasan Reda: Making his York Open Studios debut in Prices Lane

ART from the city and out of this world, an orchestra of two, Canadian rock, Italian opera and a courtroom thriller have Charles Hutchinson reaching for the front door key.

Art event of the fortnight: York Open Studios, today and tomorrow; April 20 and 21, 10am to 5pm

AS many as 156 artists and makers who live or work within a ten-mile radius of York will be welcoming visitors to 106 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles, glass and wood. Among them will be 31 new participants. Full details and a map can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk. Look out for booklets around the city too.

East Riding Artists: Addressing climate change in From The Earth exhibition at Nunnington Hall

Ryedale exhibition of the week: From The Earth, East Riding Artists, at Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until May 12, 10.30am to 5pm

THE climate crisis is high on the worldwide agenda; evidence of nature’s fragility can be found everywhere we turn, and few would question that our Earth is changing dramatically, in some cases irrevocably. Nature, however, is a force to be reckoned with, prompting 32 painters, potters and creatives from East Riding Artists to celebrate everything our natural world has to offer.

From the power of the North Sea and the beauty of Yorkshire’s countryside and coastline to the food we grow and the flowers we cultivate, From The Earth cherishes the best of our ever-changing world. Normal admission applies; National Trust members, free.

In Flight: Barenaked Ladies land at York Barbican on Sunday

Pinch me, look who’s coming to York: Barenaked Ladies, In Flight UK Tour 2024, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.50pm

IN the words of Barenaked Ladies drummer Tyler Stewart: “Our In Flight UK Tour 2024 will feature tasty new songs from the album and of course, a whole slew of BNL hits spanning 35 years. So come on Subjects! It’s time to ring in spring with your favourite Canadians, Barenaked Ladies. We look forward to seeing your happy faces.” Support acts will be Callum Beattie and Ferris & Sylvester.

Sold out already in the York Barbican week ahead are the Modfather Paul Weller’s return on Wednesday and arch comedian Tom Allen’s Completely gig on Thursday. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The Blackheart Orchestra: Two musicians, Chrissy Mostyn and Rick Pilkington, play 13 instruments between them at Helmsley Arts Centre

Prog rock for the space age: The Blackheart Orchestra, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday (19/4/2024), doors, 7.30pm

CHRISSY Mostyn and Rick Pilkington’s two-piece “orchestra” play 13 instruments between them from their prog-rock space station on stage, from acoustic and electric guitars, bass and bowed guitar to piano, organ, vintage synthesisers, omnichord, melodica and electric percussion.

Drawing on influences as varied as Kate Bush, Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, they combine folk and rock roots with electronica and classical music. Foxpalmer, alias London singer-songwriter Fern McNulty, supports, from 8pm. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Patrick Draper, Tony Jameson and Alfie Joey: Comedy at the treble on Friday at the Milton Rooms, Malton

Hilarity Bites Comedy Club: Alfie Joey, Patrick Draper and Tony Jameson, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 8pm

ALFIE Joey is a polymath: artist, radio presenter, podcaster, comedian, communication coach, Ted X speaker, impressionist, interviewer, charity auctioneer, motivator, children’s author, master of ceremonies, pantomime player, sitcom actor, Britain’s Got Talent participant and illustrator for York writer Ian Donaghy’s book Never Stop Drawing.

Comedy will be his focus in Malton, where he will be joined by Patrick Draper, purveyor of deadpan jokes, visual gags and songs, and host Tony Jameson. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Keeping an eye on things: English Touring Opera in Manon Lescaut. Picture: Richard Hubert Smith

Opera of the week: English Touring Opera in Manon Lescaut, York Theatre Royal, Friday, 7.30pm

ENGLISH Touring Opera returns to York in Jude Christian radical production of Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking Manon Lescaut, for which she brings incisive direction to her sharp, poetic new translation.

Puccini’s 1892 breakthrough hit presents a devastating depiction of a woman wrestling with her desire for love on her own terms and the rigid double standards imposed on her by society. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

London Obbligato Collective: Opening York Baroque+ Day at the NCEM

Classical concert of the week: London Obbligato Collective, York Baroque+ Day, April 20, 12 noon  

FORMED by Masumi Yamamoto, the new London Obbligato Collective focuses on “accompanied harpsichord sonatas”, where the harpsichord is given the solo role within the trio sonata texture, highlighting and enriching the colours and nuances of the instrument.

Next Saturday’s programme includes 18th century music by Felice Giardini, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Friedrich. Box office: 01904 658338 or  ncem.co.uk.

Jury service: Christopher Haydon’s cast for Reginald Rose’s courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men at the Grand Opera House, York

Show announcement of the week: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

CHRISTOPHER Haydon’s touring production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men for Bill Kenwright Ltd returns to York on the American courtroom thriller’s 70th anniversary tour, having last played the Grand Opera House in April 2015.

Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in the cast for this study of human nature and the art of persuasion set in the jury deliberating room, where 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Eat mindfully, go to the gym, rehearse, psychology student Reuben is ready for York Stage’s Joseph at Grand Opera House

Lighting up the lead role: Reuben Khan as Joseph in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

REUBEN Khan will play the lead role for York Stage for the first time in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from tomorrow (12/4/2024).

Not that the third-year University of York psychology student is a stranger to stepping into the spotlight in a Nik Briggs production at the Grand Opera House, York.

“I had more than a week’s notice this time, that’s the main difference,” says Reuben, 23, seated with his Technicolor attire behind him in Dressing Room No 1 ahead of Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“For Beautiful [the Carole King musical], Nik called me a week before the show opened to say, ‘look, you wouldn’t happen to be free, to play Gerry Goffin in the early performances, would you?’.”

Frankie Bounds had been rehearsing the role of King’s co-songwriter, husband and ‘serial womaniser’ for his last performance in York before starting studies at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

“He’d checked with Mountview early on that it would be OK, but then suddenly Frankie was told he’d have to go down to the theatre school in the first week, and that’s why I stepped in. That was an interesting experience,” recalls Reuben.

“I didn’t know much about the show, I hadn’t seen it before. So I had to learn a few songs and learn the lines as quickly as possible, and l loved doing it. Obviously the music is phenomenal, the story moves at a pace and it’s just a great show – and it was nice to have the chance to watch Frankie when he came back during the second week.”

Reuben, from Burnley, has past experience of appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph. “I did the show twice when I was 12, once at my school, Unity School, and then with Basics Junior Theatre School. Both times I played Judah [one of Jacob’s sons], and there was a crossover between the two productions. I finished one and, not long after, I did the other.”

He is delighted to be taking on the title role, performing alongside Hannah Shaw’s Narrator and Amy Barrett’s Pharaoh, among others.

“It’s one of those shows where the vast majority of people have come into contact with it, whether it’s at school or, in my case, my mother having the songs on in the car,” says Reuben. Then there’s the film, and there’s always a tour going on or a local production – or people may know the Bible story of Joseph.

Reuben Khan performing in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

“I knew the vast majority of songs already, so I feel like I’ve barely touched the book because the songs were ingrained in me!”

Following in the sandal steps of the likes of Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Donny Osmond, Lee Mead and Joe McElderry holds no fears for Reuben. “Honestly, it’s great fun. It’s a funny role to some extent, as you can kind of understand some of the qualms that his brothers have about him! Joseph is flawed, and you think, if I was one of his brothers, I’d be having problems with him,” he says.

“But at the same time, he represents the everyman. Yes he’s flawed but he tries his best, people around him either like him or they don’t, and there’s something nice about playing a character who the audience is rooting for. It’s good fun.”

Reuben has enjoyed responding to the direction of Nik Briggs. “He has this overarching vision that he puts across incredibly well, to get the best out of us by directing in a very fluid, creatively free way, which is massively important, without micro-directing us,” he says. “He also has this ability to stay level-headed, which is such a skill, something that I’ve not seen in a lot of people in his position.”

Reuben’s preparations have stretched beyond rehearsals to ensuring he will be in peak fitness for a role that involves “wearing not a lot of clothes” (except when he is in his “day to day” coat or the Technicolor dreamcoat of the title).

“It’s all part of the tongue-in-cheek side of the show that Joseph is this half-dressed man! When I knew I would be doing the role, initially it was at the back of my mind, but in the past two months it’s been very much to the front – and at the same time, I’m trying to focus on the third year of my university studies too!

“I’ve never spent so much time keeping an eye on what I’m eating, going to the gym most days of the week for six weeks, to be in the best shape – just in time for the summer!”

On top of his Joseph rehearsals and university studies, Reuben is in the middle of auditioning for drama schools. “I’m studying psychology, but I want to go into musical theatre, and the second I say I’m studying psychology, they say, ‘oh, that’s really interesting’!” he says of his auditions at Associated Studios and the Royal Academy of Music in London to do a Masters degree in musical theatre.

“I guess it’s because psychology is all about understanding people, and that’s the same with acting, understanding a character.”

Now, after such roles as Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods and Bobby in Company for the university’s Central Hall Musical Society, Reuben is ready to go, go, go, Joseph from tomorrow.

York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Amabile/Savva Zverev & Sid Ramchander, York Late Music, Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, April 6

Savva Zverev: Russian-born violinist and graduate of Royal Northern Collge of Music. Picture: York Late Music

LATE Music has been changing gradually over the years. It now encompasses two concerts on the first Saturday of every month between October and June, one at lunchtime and one in the evening.

Amabile, a clarinet trio, drew the lunchtime slot this month, with Farrenc and Brahms sandwiching a premiere by Steve Crowther.

In the welcome wave of rediscovery of female composers through the ages, the name of Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) regularly recurs. She mainly wrote for her own instrument, the piano, but chamber music – always with piano – engaged her frequently.

Her Trio in E flat, Op 44 (1861), partners clarinet (or violin) with cello and piano. It shows craftsmanship rather than inspiration, and is a throwback to Mendelssohn with a touch of Mozartian finesse.

Amabile, with the seasoned clarinet of Lesley Schatzberger to the fore, treated it with considerable respect. Balance was awry at first, with prominent piano and self-effacing cello, but Farrenc’s imitative tendencies soon emerged politely enough.

A slithery little figure in the minuet heralded a finale that showed flashes of imagination; it was taken at an exciting pace. There is probably more to the composer than this but it was good to hear.

Crowther’s Transcriptions from Morris Dances are nothing to do with the well-known dances but five cameos inspired by the composer’s friendship with Philip Morris, presumably originally for piano.

They are delightful vignettes, spiced with wit and insight, ranging from the light and airy in the opening homage to friendship to the thoughtfully elegiac in the final Love Song, with its quizzical ending. They were lovingly played.

Brahms’s Clarinet Trio, Op 114 in A minor (1891), has all the autumnal warmth we associate with the composer’s twilight years. The opening Allegro had a lovely flow here and a delicate ending.

In the heat haze conjured by the Adagio, the cello of Nicola Tait Baxter came into its own, entwined closely with Schatzberger’s idiomatic clarinet. Paul Nicholson’s piano neatly underpinned the lilting Viennese waltz that preceded a finale of crisp rhythms tinged with a touch of aggression. It was good to see Nicholson back in musical harness after his retirement from the Anglican ministry. He has lost none of his previous finesse on all types of keyboard.

The evening brought a surprise. There have been countless expert exponents of contemporary music in this series over the years, but never, I would guess, a virtuoso of quite the calibre of violinist Savva Zverev.

His nonchalant dispatch of a variety of works from Bach to Bartók and beyond was breathtaking. Sid Ramchander was his nimble-fingered piano partner.

Zverev opened his first half with Bach’s first solo violin sonata, BWV 1001 in G minor. He made it sound, as Bach undoubtedly intended, as if there were several instruments involved, not just counterpoint in three or even four parts but, with double and treble-stopping, remarkable harmony as well. This was cutting-edge stuff in Bach’s day. It still is – and very much belonged here.

By way of balance, Zverev’s second half began with Bartók’s unaccompanied Violin Sonata of 1944, the year before he died. It takes several leaves out of Bach’s book and is equally challenging.

Not that it held any terrors for Zverev. His top-string brilliance was not balanced by much dynamic shading in the opening chaconne, but his handling of the four-voice fugue, with its alternate plucking and bowing, was masterly. So too was the zig-zagging Melodia and bravura reached a new peak in the headlong finale.

After that, there was bound to be anti-climax. Pärt’s slow, minimalist Spiegel im Spiegel could not hold attention in this company. Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy, taken from his soundtrack to the 1946 film Humoresque, inevitably came across as relatively empty display, virtuosity for its own sake. Perhaps we had simply had enough by then.

Earlier, Zverev had shown a different side to his musical personality in the delicate traceries of Webern’s Four Pieces, Op 7 and discovered genuine drama in Lutoslawski’s rondo Subito, especially in the episode on the G-string. Ramchander was with him every step of the way here, no mean feat in itself.

In five extracts from Debussy’s Préludes for piano his melody lines were not always evenly voiced, but his minimal use of pedal contributed to admirable clarity. This is certainly a duo to watch.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Putting you in the picture for More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 10, from Gazette & Herald

Michael Hasan Reda: Impressionist oil painter of landscapes, cityscapes and gardens, making his York Open Studios debut at his studio in Prices Lane, York

ART out of this world, comedy in the news, a poetic war of words, an orchestra of two, a very colourful musical and a courtroom thriller have Charles Hutchinson reaching for the front door key.

Art event of the fortnight: York Open Studios, April 13 and 14, April 20 and 21, 10am to 5pm; preview, Friday, 6pm to 9pm

156 artists who live or work within a ten-mile radius of York will be welcoming visitors to 106 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles, glass and wood. Among them will be 31 new participants. Full details and a map can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk. Look out for booklets around the city too.

News alert: The Drop The Dead Donkey newsroom team reunites for Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s new play at Leeds Grand Theatre

Breaking News of the week: Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening!, Leeds Grand Theatre, until April 13

THIRTY years since the launch of the trailblazing television series Drop The Dead Donkey, the Globelink News team is back, live on stage for the first time. Original cast members Stephen Tompkinson, Neil Pearson, Susannah Doyle, Robert Duncan, Ingrid Lacey, Jeff Rawle and Victoria Wicks reunite for a new, constantly updated script by sitcom writing duo Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, under Lindsay Posner’s direction.

“It’s going to be hugely enjoyable to watch those seven funny, flawed characters from Globelink News being plunged into the cutthroat world of modern 24-hour news-gathering and trying to navigate their way through the daily chaos of social media, fake news and interim Prime Ministers,” say the writers. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Reuben Khan: Playing the lead role in York Stage’s Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Musical of the week: York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19

BE ready to paint the city in every colour of the rainbow as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical dazzles the Grand Opera House in York Stage’s vibrant production, directed by Nik Briggs, with musical direction by Adam Tomlinson and choreography by Lesley Hill.

Reuben Khan leads the cast as Joseph, joined by Hannah Shaw as the Narrator, Carly Morton as Pharaoh, Martin Rowley as Jacob, Finn East as Simeon, Matthew Clarke as Potiphar, among others. Tickets are selling fast at atgtickets.com/york.

Shareefa Energy!: Guest performance poet at Friday’s Say Owt Slam clash at The Crescent, York

Spoken word clash of the week: Say Owt Slam, featuring Shareefa Energy!, The Crescent, York, Friday, 7.45pm

SAY Owt, “York’s loveable gobby gang of performance poets”, take over The Crescent for a raucous, high-energy night of verse that combine a slam war of words with a guest performer. “In a slam, poets have three minutes to wow the audience,” says host Henry Raby. “It’s fast, frantic and fun: perfect for people who love poetry, and those who think they hate poetry too.”

Special guest Shareefa Energy! is a poet, writer, activist, educator, creative campaigner, workshop facilitator and arts and wellbeing practitioner of Indian and Muslim heritage from working-class Highfields in Leicester. Box office: thecrescentyork.com or on the door.

East Riding Artists: Exhibiting at Nunnington Hall in From The Earth’s celebration of the natural world

Ryedale exhibition of the week: From The Earth, East Riding Artists, at Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until May 12, 10.30am to 5pm

THE climate crisis is high on the worldwide agenda; evidence of nature’s fragility can be found everywhere we turn, and few would question that our Earth is changing dramatically, in some cases irrevocably. Nature, however, is a force to be reckoned with, prompting 32 painters, potters and creatives from East Riding Artists to celebrate everything our natural world has to offer.

From the power of the North Sea and the beauty of Yorkshire’s countryside and coastline to the food we grow and the flowers we cultivate, From The Earth cherishes the best of our ever-changing world. Normal admission applies; National Trust members, free.

The Blackheart Orchestra’s Chrissy Mostyn and Rick Pilkington: Thirteen instruments divided between two musicians at Helmsley Arts Centre

Prog rock for the space age: The Blackheart Orchestra, Helmsley Arts Centre, April 19, doors, 7.30pm

CHRISSY Mostyn and Rick Pilkington’s two-piece “orchestra” play 13 instruments between them from their prog-rock space station on stage, from acoustic and electric guitars, bass and bowed guitar to piano, organ, vintage synthesisers, omnichord, melodica and electric percussion.

Drawing on influences as varied as Kate Bush, Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, they combine folk and rock roots with electronica and classical music. Foxpalmer, alias London singer-songwriter Fern McNulty, supports, from 8pm. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Patrick Draper, Tony Jameson and Alfie Joey: April 19’s comedy line-up at the Milton Rooms, Malton

Hilarity Bites Comedy Club: Alfie Joey, Patrick Draper and Tony Jameson, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 19, 8pm

ALFIE Joey is a polymath: artist, radio presenter, podcaster, comedian, communication coach, Ted X speaker, impressionist, interviewer, charity auctioneer, motivator, children’s author, master of ceremonies, pantomime player, sitcom actor, Britain’s Got Talent participant and illustrator for York writer Ian Donaghy’s book Never Stop Drawing.

Comedy will be his focus in Malton, where he will be joined by Patrick Draper, purveyor of deadpan jokes, visual gags and songs, and host Tony Jameson. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Jury service: Christopher Haydon’s cast for the courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men, on tour at Grand Opera House, York

Show announcement of the week: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

CHRISTOPHER Haydon’s touring production of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men for Bill Kenwright Ltd returns to York on the American courtroom thriller’s 70th anniversary tour, having last played the Grand Opera House in April 2015.

Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in the cast for this study of human nature and the art of persuasion set in the jury deliberating room, where 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Pick Me Up Theatre in Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, until Saturday ****

Adam Price’s George and Natalie Walker’s Dot in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

FRENCH post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat obsessed over every little last detail, making a point of everything.

The same applies to Robert Readman’s production of one of his favourite musical works, Stephen Sondheim and playwright-director James Lapine’s Sunday In The Park With George, a 1984 collaboration inspired by Seurat’s pointillist painting, Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte.

Two years in the making, that 1884-1886 work forms the wraparound artwork for Pick Me Up Theatre’s programme. Unfold it, and you find Sondheim’s lyrics to Finishing The Hat, the most significant song in capturing the artistic temperament and drive of Seurat and Sondheim alike.

Director-designer Readman has given Sunday In The Park With George a traverse setting within the black-box John Cooper Studio. At either end is a blank canvas for projections of such Seurat works as 1884’s Bathers At Asnières, an oil painting of a suburban, placid Parisian riverside on a monumental scale soon to be matched by Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of Grand Jatte.

Libby Greenhill’s Louise, left, Sanna Jeppsson’s Yvonne and Natalie Walker’s Dot in Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

Work-in-progress drawings by Kevin Greenhill (also the production’s photographer) depict Seurat’s sketches and character studies as Adam Price’s George (Seurat) is consumed by his craft of painting: a craft that brought him no monetary reward in a life curtailed by a fatal illness at 31, not one painting having sold before his death.

This is an exquisite directorial touch by Readman, happily and visibly restored to full throttle after “unforeseen circumstances” forced him to call off last autumn’s Halloween double bill of Young Frankenstein and The Worst Witch at the Grand Opera House.

In between the two canvas bookends runs another strip of blank canvas, a walkway or catwalk to be peopled by all the figures in Seurat’s painting coming to life in the imagination of Lapine and Sondheim (much like Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring doing likewise in Tracy Chevalier’s historical fiction novel), as if the writers had eavesdropped on conversations in the park.

Host Readman has his audience seated to either side of the stage at circular tables topped with paper “tablecloths” decorated with dots. We feel like we are in the park too.

Adam Price’s George and Natalie Walker’s Marie in the American Act Two of Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

Dots are everywhere. Even Seurat’s long-suffering mistress/lover/muse is called Dot, a made-up name, it would seem, but typical of the wit at work in this fictionalised account of the months leading up to the completion of Seurat’s painting.

In a canny piece of casting, Readman has brought together real-life husband and wife Adam Price and Natalie Walker as his leads. They have performed as a duo and sang together in Pick Me Up’s Dad’s Army but this is the first time they have taken roles together in a musical, and their natural chemistry shines through their performance as the damaged central couple.

Dot wants Seurat to express his love, especially once she is pregnant, but he is drawn only to the canvas, to shining his light on Parisian life, putting her only in the spotlight in the painting.

They sing beautifully, Walker especially in the ballads, Price in expressing his artistic modus operandi, his dot-dot-dot technique being matched at one point by the staccato notes emanating from musical director Matthew Peter Clare’s keyboard.

Pick Me Up Theatre’s cast representing figures in Seurat’s pointillist painting Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

As Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, snubs his fellow artists and neglects his lover, we meet all manner of Parisian folk in the park: an Old lady (Beryl Nairn), who turns out to be his oft-exasperated mother; his cigar-smoking agent Jules (James Willstrop), who behind his back shows no enthusiasm for his work; Yvonne (Sanna Jeppsson), who is even more snobbishly dismissive; and Craig Kirby and Rhian Wells’s befuddled American couple, Mr and Mrs.

Look out too for Mark Simmonds’s haughty, Germanic Franz; Ryan Richardson’s surly Boatman; Neil Foster’s self-righteous Soldier and Alexandra Mather (a late replacement for the indisposed Emma Louise Dickinson) and Nicola Holliday as a pair of anything but angelic Celestes. Tracey Rea’s Frieda, Michael Tattersall’s Louis, Libby Greenhill’s Louise and Logan Willstrop’s Boy cut a dash too.

After the interval, the musical takes a turn for the more personal for Sondheim in a parallel modern story where Price’s Seurat becomes George, a ‘chromolume’ American artist as underappreciated and fractious as Seurat was in his lifetime as Sondheim “explores the reverberations of Seurat’s actions over the next 100 years”.

At the time, Sondheim was increasingly dischuffed by the reaction to his musicals, just as Woody Allen had a fan say “I especially like your early, funny ones” to Allen’s character, film director Sandy Bates, in 1980’s Stardust Memories when weary of critics giving that verdict on his later works.

Nicola Holliday’s Celeste and Neil Foster’s Soldier. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

This is a somewhat overwrought piece of point-scoring by Sondheim amid all the pointillism of Seurat, but archly amusing all the same, adding to the enjoyment of a superb performance by leads and supporting players alike, responding to Readman’s relish for the musical.

Will Nicholson and Adam Coggin’s lighting and sound is top notch, and Matthew Peter Clare’s palpably energetic musical direction brings out the best in his seven-piece band.

Readman’s design skills are always a strong suit, but particularly so here, full of playfulness and artistry, such as in the cut-outs of dogs from Seurat’s painting, later matched by black-and-white full-size cut-outs of George part two in his suit, tie and pumps in the American gallery.

Do please spend Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday in the park with George. You’d be dotty to miss out.

Pick Me Up Theatre in Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York; 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte in the Pick Me Up Theatre show poster

Bottom’s up for love & looning in More Things To Do in York & beyond. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 15, from The Press

The eyes have it: Love-struck Natalie Windsor’s Titania and Tweedy the clown’s Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Andrew Huggins/Thousand Word Media

GOTHIC Austen, a clowning Bottom, a dose of the blues, a Technicolor dreamcoat, open studios and a reactivated newsroom satire feature in Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations for a busy diary.

York play of the week: Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, York Theatre Royal, April 9 to 13, 7pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

EVERYMAN Theatre Company’s staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream puts a new twist on the familiar tale by casting comedy clown Tweedy as Bottom and making him “comedy advisor” on Paul Milton’s production to boot.

The night’s magic, mischief, and mayhem unfold in an enchanted Athenean forest, intertwining the romantic misadventures of four young lovers, the playful meddling of mischievous fairies and the comedic antics of amateur actors, culminating in a tale of love, mistaken identity and reconciliation engineered by Jeremy Stockwell’s meddlesome Puck. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Tom Killner: Soul-drenched Southern rock and Americana at York Blues Festival

Festival of the week: York Blues Festival, The Crescent, York, today, 1pm to 11pm; doors, 12.30pm

NAME of the week? Step forward The 20ft Squid Blues Band, participants in this weekend’s York Blues Festival, curated by Paul Winn and Ben Darwin, hosts of Jorvik Radio’s Blues From The Ouse show and the Ryedale Blues Club.

Performing too will be Dirty Ruby, Bison Hip, The James Oliver Band, Hot Foot Hall, York band DC Blues, The Milk Men and Tom Killner. Tickets update: Sold out; for returns only, yorkbluesfest.co.uk.

Ceramicist Patricia Qua, who will make her York Open Studios debut in Hemplands Drive, York

Preview of the week: York Open Studios, Hospitium, York Museum Gardens, York, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4pm

YORK Open Studios 2024 hosts a taster exhibition this weekend at the Hospitium, ahead of the full event on April 13, 14, 20 and 21. More than 150 artists who live or work within a ten-mile radius of the city will be welcoming visitors to 100 workspaces to show and sell their art, ranging from ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery and mixed media to painting, print, photography, sculpture, textiles and wood. Among them will be 29 new participants. Full details can be found at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

Back in the news: The original cast reassembles for Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! at Leeds Grand Theatre

Breaking News of the week: Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening!, Leeds Grand Theatre, April 9 to 13, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

THIRTY years since the launch of the trailblazing television series Drop The Dead Donkey, the Globelink News team is back, live on stage for the first time. Original cast members Stephen Tompkinson, Neil Pearson, Susannah Doyle, Robert Duncan, Ingrid Lacey, Jeff Rawle and Victoria Wicks reunite for a new script by sitcom writing duo Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin.

“It’s going to be hugely enjoyable to watch those seven funny, flawed characters from Globelink News being plunged into the cutthroat world of modern 24-hour news-gathering and trying to navigate their way through the daily chaos of social media, fake news, and interim Prime Ministers,” say the writers. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Go, go, Joseph: Lead actor Reuben Khan in York Stage’s poster for Joseph And The Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: York Stage in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, April 12 to 20, 7.30pm except April 14, 15 and 19; 2.30pm, April 13 and 20; 4pm, April 14; 5pm and 8pm, April 19

BE ready to paint the city in every colour of the rainbow as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical dazzles the Grand Opera House in York Stage’s vibrant production, directed by Nik Briggs, with musical direction by Adam Tomlinson and choreography by Lesley Hill.

Reuben Khan leads the cast as Joseph, joined by Hannah Shaw as the Narrator, Carly Morton as Pharaoh, Martin Rowley as Jacob, Finn East as Simeon and Matthew Clarke as Potiphar, among others. Tickets are selling fast at atgtickets.com/york.

Shareefa Energy!: Guest performance poet at April 12’s Say Owt Slam at The Crescent

Spoken word clash of the week: Say Owt Slam, featuring Shareefa Energy!, The Crescent, York, April 12, 7.45pm

SAY Owt, “York’s loveable gobby gang of performance poets”, take over The Crescent twice a year for raucous, high-energy nights of verse that combine a slam war of words with a guest performer.

“In a slam, poets have three minutes to wow the audience to become the champion,” says host Henry Raby. “It’s fast, frantic and fun: perfect for people who love poetry, and those who think they hate poetry too.”

Special guest Shareefa Energy! is a poet, writer, activist, educator, creative campaigner, workshop facilitator and arts and wellbeing practitioner of Indian and Muslim heritage from working-class Highfields in Leicester. Box office: thecrescentyork.com or on the door.

Robert Gammon: Performing with Maria Marshall and Alison Gammon at St Chad’s Church

Dementia Friendly Tea Concert: Maria Marshall, Robert Gammon and Alison Gammon, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, April 182.30pm

CELLIST Maria Marshall opens this Dementia Friendly Tea Concert with Faure’s Elegy, accompanied by pianist Robert Gammon, who then plays two short solo Grieg piano pieces. Alison Gammon joins them for Beethoven’s trio Opus 11 for clarinet, piano and cello.

The relaxed 45-minute concert, ideal for people who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert, will be followed by tea and homemade cakes in the church hall. Seating is unreserved; no charge applies to attend but donations are welcome for hire costs and Alzheimer’s charities. 

Lucy Worsley: Revelations about Jane Austen at York Barbican

Show announcement of the week: An Audience with Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen, York Barbican, October 14, 7.30pm

FOLLOWING up her Agatha Christie tour, historian and presenter Lucy Worsley’s latest illustrated talk steps into the world of Jane Austen, one of English literature’s most cherished figures as the author of Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility and Persuasion. 

Through the houses, places and possessions that mattered to Austen, Worsley looks at what home meant to her and to the women like her who populate her novels. Austen lived a “life without incident”, but with new research and insights Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

In Focus: Exhibition launch, Makiko, Picture Imperfect, York Theatre Royal, April 8 to 28

Exhibition poster for Makiko’s Picture Imperfect at York Theatre Royal

YORK photographer Makiko has shifted her focus to the mental health of vulnerable children in her Picture Imperfect exhibition at York Theatre Royal.

After her trip to photograph scenes from Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), as well as a spiritual journey to the uninhabited island of Nozaki, Japanese-born Makiko has responded to the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The result is this month’s Theatre Royal foyer exhibition featuring remote portrait photography, colour photos taken by children and a short film on the theme of the lives of vulnerable children and teenagers in the artist’s community in York, exploring their struggles with mental health and their developing identities.

Makiko’s project has received funding from Arts Council England and was conceived to work alongside The Island, a charity that offers mentorship and safeguarding for young people in the community regardless of their socio-economic circumstances or life experiences.

“The more I began to know the charity, the more I learned of a darker reality and of things such as child trafficking and sexual exploitation,” says Makiko. “All the children involved in this project have experienced early life trauma or pre-existing mental challenges or both.

“The conceptualisation of the project coincided with the lockdowns imposed by the UK government to combat Covid-19. Northern England was particularly hard hit: this in turn has had a profound impact on these children’s lives.”

The Covid strictures placed significant restrictions on how Makiko needed to approach her work, imposing the necessity of a creative solution to comply with social distancing and meeting the necessary regulations.

The artist provided the children with disposable cameras to shoot their everyday life. Much of her own photo-shooting was carried out remotely during the lockdown, to document what they were doing and thinking at home.

“Once the restrictions were lifted in early spring 2022, I visited the children during the art activity sessions and let them express themselves both in front of my viewfinder, as well as in writing,” says Makiko. “Subsequently, the work was exhibited at York Open Studios in April that year.”

The story is intertwined with the experience of Makiko and her younger son following their relocation back to the United Kingdom. “He suffered from assault and racial discrimination at school, resulting in school refusal and being housebound for several years,” she recalls. “This provided a precursor to the isolating experiences that children would go on to face during the pandemic.”

Makiko encountered direct racial abuse too, including a physical assault. “Both of us had struggled to fit into the environment,” she says. “The UK has continued to manifest deep division in the aftermath of Brexit, including rises in racism, anti-social behaviour and hate crimes in general.”

Most importantly, Makiko realised that the entire process worked as a catalyst, helping her to recover from a psychological wound she had endured over the past few years. “I began to better understand what my younger son and other children have experienced,” she says. “This included an insight into the thoughts and behaviours of Generations Z during a unique period of UK history.”

This project was carried out when Makiko was a mentee of Magnum Photos during 2021-2022. The exhibition is produced in collaboration with The Island and in association with York Theatre Royal. Its accompanying photobook version will be published in 2024. For more information on Makiko, go to: makikophoto.com.

Makiko’s Picture Imperfect runs at York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place, York, from April 8 to 27; on view from 10am, Monday to Saturday

Makiko: the back story

AWARD-WINNING photographer who has lived, studied and worked in Japan, France, North America, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Studied photography at International Center of Photography in New York.

Since 2006 her work has been exhibited in Japan, North America, and Europe. Best known for her black and white photography.

At present at Royal College of Art in London.

Features among 89 award-winning professional photographers from around the world in What Does Photography Mean To You?, selected by Scott Grant (Bluecoat Press).

Particular interest in high-functioning autism. In 2014 she launched her first documentary/photography book, Beautifully Different. Re-published in Japanese in March
2016.

Bottom’s up for love & looning in More Things To Do in Ryedale, York & beyond. Hutch’s List No. 9, from Gazette & Herald

Rebecca Banatvala, back, AK Golding, middle, and Sam Newton, front, in Northanger Abbey at the SJT, Scarborough. Picture: Pamela Raith

GOTHIC Austen, a clowning Bottom, dark pop chat, vintage blues and harmonious folk feature in Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions for a busy diary.

Play of the week outside York: Northanger Abbey, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until April 13, 7.30pm plus 1.30pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

ZOE Cooper adapts Jane Austen’s coming-of-age satire of Gothic novels in a co-production by the SJT, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Octagon Theatre, Bolton, and Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, starring Rebecca Banatvala (Cath), AK Golding (Iz) and Sam Newton (Hen) under Tessa Walker’s direction.

In a play fizzing with imagination, humour and love, Cath Morland knows little of the world, but who needs real-life experience when you have books to guide you? Cath seizes her chance to escape her claustrophobic family life and join the smart set in Bath. Between balls and parties, she meets worldly, sophisticated Iz, and so Cath’s very own adventure begins. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com.

Megson: Folk duo Debs and Stu Hanna at Helmsley Arts Centre

Folk concert of the week: Megson, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

BRITISH folk duo Megson combines Debs Hanna’s vocals, whistle and piano accordion with Stu Hanna’s guitar, mandola and banjo on songs filled with perceptive lyrics and exquisite musicianship. An infectious mix of heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars mark their concerts, topped off with northern humour between numbers.

Chalking up 13 studio albums in 20 years, the four-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees and two-time Spiral Earth Award winners will be showcasing their latest release, March 2023’s What Are We Trying To Say?. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Red, a dare: Tweedy’s Bottom, clowning around and chancing his luck in love in the Everyman Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Andrew Huggins/Thousand Word Media

York play of the week: Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, York Theatre Royal, April 9 to 13, 7pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

THE Everyman Theatre Company staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream puts a new twist on the familiar tale by casting comedy clown Tweedy as Bottom and making him “comedy advisor” on Paul Milton’s production to boot.

The night’s magic, mischief, and mayhem unfold in an enchanted forest in Athens, intertwining the romantic misadventures of four young lovers, the playful meddling of mischievous fairies and the comedic antics of amateur actors, culminating in a tale of love, mistaken identity and reconciliation engineered by Jeremy Stockwell’s meddlesome Puck. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

John Robb: Rock’n’roll tales at Pocklington Arts Centre

Pop chat of the week: John Robb: Do You Believe In The Power Of Rock’n’Roll?, Pocklington Arts Centre, April 11, 8pm

JOHN Robb discusses his life in music; his pop culture book Art Of Darkness: The History Of Goth; being the first person to interview Nirvana; inventing the word Britpop and his adventures on the post-punk frontline.

Blackpool-born Robb is an author, musician, journalist, television and radio presenter and pundit, music website boss, publisher, Louder Than Words festival boss, eco-warrior and talking-head singer of The Membranes. His special guest is The Sisters Of Mercy co-founder Gary Marx. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pianist Robert Gammon: Performing with Maria Marshall and Alison Gmmon at musical tea concert

Dementia Friendly Tea Concert: Maria Marshall, Robert Gammon and Alison Gammon, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, April 182.30pm

CELLIST Maria Marshall opens this Dementia Friendly Tea Concert with Faure’s Elegy, accompanied by pianist Robert Gammon, who then plays two short solo Grieg piano pieces. Alison Gammon joins them for Beethoven’s trio Opus 11 for clarinet, piano and cello.

The relaxed 45-minute concert, ideal for people who may not feel comfortable at a formal classical concert, will be followed by tea and homemade cakes in the church hall. Seating is unreserved; no charge applies to attend but donations are welcome for hire costs and Alzheimer’s charities. On-street parking along Campleshon Road complements the church’s small car park.

The Nightcreatures’ Henry Botham and Tom Davies: Blues songs and stories at Milton Rooms, Malton

Blues gig of the week: The Nightcreatures, Farewell To Storyville, Songs and Stories from New Orleans, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 12, 8pm

THE Nightcreatures duo of pianist Henry Botham and guitarist and singer Tom Davies take a journey to old New Orleans for a night of songs and stories, serving up a spicy gumbo of filthy blues, funky grooves and classic tunes.

Old blues, Mardi Gras songs and vintage New Orleans material are explored, drawing on the heritage of Dr John, James Booker, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and the great Louisiana bluesmen. Jenny Wren and Her Borrowed Wings, a trio led by singer and double bassist Jenny Trilsbach, support. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Sam Jewison: Interpreting the Great American Songbook at the SJT

Jazz gig of the month: Sam Jewison, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, April 27, 7.30pm

JAZZ singer and pianist Sam Jewison returns to the SJT after a sold-out show in 2023 to perform his interpretation of the Great American Songbook in a fusion of jazz, classical and popular music.

Expect to hear new treatments of songs from the Broadway stage, Hollywood screen and golden age of American popular music, made famous Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Oscar Peterson, from the pens of Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. Joining Jewison will be Fraser Smith (tenor saxophone), Harry Sankey (guitar), Harry Evans (double bass) and Joe Dessauer (drums). Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com. 

Lucy Worsley: Revelations from the life of Jane Austen at York Barbican

Show announcement of the week: An Audience with Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen, York Barbican, October 14,

FOLLOWING up her Agatha Christie tour, historian Lucy Worsley’s latest illustrated talk steps into the world of Jane Austen, one of English literature’s most cherished figures as the author of Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility and Persuasion. 

Through the houses, places and possessions that mattered to Austen, Worsley looks at what home meant to her and to the women like her who populate her novels. Austen lived a “life without incident”, but with new research and insights Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Riverdance 30: The New Generation to play York Barbican, Sheffield City Hall and Hull Connexin Live on 2025 tour. When?

Leg power: Riverdance celebrates 30 years with The New Generation tour in 2025, playing York, Sheffield and Hull among 30 UK venues

RIVERDANCE 30: The New Generation will visit York Barbican for five performances from October 24 to 26 2025 on the Irish dance troupe’s 30th anniversary tour.

The British leg of next year’s global travels will take in 30 venues – one for each year of Riverdance’s history – from August to December, including further Yorkshire performances at Sheffield City Hall from August 16 to 18 and Hull Connexin Live on October 7.

For the 30th anniversary, Riverdance will welcome a new generation of performers who were not born when the show began. Those beginnings were as an eight-minute interval act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest at The Point in Dublin, where Michael Flatley was among the original dancers.

Directed by John McColgan, produced by Moya Doherty and featuring compositions by Bill Whelen, Riverdance 30 will “rejuvenate the original show with new innovative choreography and costumes and state-of-the-art lighting, projection and motion graphics” in a performance by dancers, musicians and singers that will blend the traditional with the contemporary.

McColgan says: “It is both a privilege and a delight to celebrate 30 years of Riverdance and the unique journey it has taken us on. In those 30 years, the show has transformed from a spectacle into a global cultural phenomenon – continuously evolving yet remaining true to its Irish roots.

“On this upcoming tour we look forward to welcoming ‘The New Generation’ of artists while paying tribute to the talented performers, creators, dedicated crew and the millions of fans who have made Riverdance a worldwide celebration of music and dance.”

Irish green: Anniversary celebrations in Riverdance 30: The New Generation

Principal dancer and dance captain Fergus Fitzpatrick says: “Being part of Riverdance’s journey is an absolute honour. It’s truly a dream come true to get to perform the principal role in this phenomenon.

“As we approach our 30th anniversary, the excitement for the incredible work our team and creative talents are about to unveil is palpable.

“I can’t wait to see what they will produce and feel the excited pulse of the audience’s response. This milestone is not just a celebration of Riverdance’s past but a light that inspires the new generation of performers all around the world.”

Fellow principal dancer and dance captain Amy Mae Dolan adds: “I am fascinated to see how Riverdance continues to grow and evolve over the next decade. I have no doubt that it will continue to surpass our expectations, move audiences and inspire new generations for dancers to come.”

Riverdance 30: The New Generation, York Barbican, October 24 to 26 2025, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday matinees. Box office: axs.com/york.

Sheffield City Hall, August 16 to 18 2025, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday matinees; sheffieldcityhall.co.uk. Hull Connexin Live, October 7 2025, 7.30pm; connexinlivehull.com.