More Things To Do in York and beyond when the wonderful and the wicked await. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 21, from The Press

Mikron Theatre cast members Eddie Ahrens, left, Mark Emmon, Georgina Liley and Lauren Robinson: Presenting an outdoor performance of Common Ground at Scarcoft Allotments, York, on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robling Photography

FROM land access tales to the Yellow Brick Road, wonderful words about wellies to a journey through isolation, show song heights to a soulful heaven, Charles Hutchinson follows the path to cultural discovery.

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, May 19, 2pm

ON tour on narrow boat and canal, van and land until October 18, Marsden company Mikron Theatre present Common Ground, writer and lyricist Poppy Hollman’s hike through the history of land access in England, where only eight per cent of land is designated “open country”.

Under the direction of Gitika Buttoo, actor-musicians Eddie Ahrens, Georgina Liley, Lauren Robinson and Mark Emmon tell the tale of the fictional Pendale and District Ramblers as they look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary walk, but the path has been blocked by the landowner. How will they find their way through? No reserved seating or tickets required; a “pay what you feel” collection will be taken post-show.

Harry Baker: Wonderful words by the slam champ at The Crescent

Spoken word gig of the week: Say Owt presents Harry Baker: Wonderful, The Crescent, York, May 20, 7.30pm

WORLD Poetry Slam champion Harry Baker is a poet, mathematician, stand-up comic and writer who reflects on “important stuff”, whether hope, dinosaurs or German falafel spoons, as found in his new poetry collection, Wonderful, published by Burning Eye this month.

On his 30-date Wonderful tour, the “maths-loving, TED-talking, German-speaking, battle-rapping, happy-crying, self-bio-writing unashamed human” brings his signature playfulness and poignancy to new poems about wellies, postcodes, sunflowers, sticky toffee pudding and his favourite German wheat beer. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Jeanette Hunter: Heading to the dark side as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in The Wizard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time next week, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Miranda Sykes: Songs of isolation, illness and recovery at Black Swan Folk Club

Folk gig of the week: Miranda Sykes, Out Of The Woods Tour, Black Swan Folk Club, Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, May 23, 7.30pm

SHOW Of Hands and Daphne’s Flight member Miranda Sykes promotes her pandemic-scarred March album Out Of The Woods in her debut Black Swan solo gig, showcasing songs that chart her journey through isolation, illness and recovery with the aim of bringing comfort after such turbulent years.

“Life is many faceted; like most people I’ve had good times and hard times,” says the Lincolnshire-born singer, double bass player and guitarist. “I’ve taken some forks in the road I shouldn’t have done and I’ve had some knocks, but it’s all part of who I am now.”  Box office: blackswanfolkclub.org.uk.

Velma Celli’s Show Queen: Celebrating the best of West End and Broadway musical theatre at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Sophie Eleanor

Cabaret celebration of the week: Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, May 23, 7.30pm

DRAG diva Velma Celli, the alter ego of York actor Ian Stroughair, goes back to Ian’s roots in Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent for a new celebration of the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits.

The show “takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!”. Special guests will be burlesque star Miss Betsy Rose and belting York singer Jessica Steel. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Ferguson: Final album and tour at 37

Soul gig of the week: Rebecca Ferguson, Heaven Part II Tour, York Barbican, May 24, 7.30pm

LIVERPOOL soul singer and The X Factor alumna Rebecca Ferguson is touring her fifth and final album, Heaven Part II, released last December 12 years to the day since her debut, Heaven.

Working with new contributors and original Heaven writers and producers, Ferguson sings of love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness over the past seven years. She is, however, calling time on recording and touring to “find a way to have a relationship with music which is positive”. Friday’s support acts will be York country singer Twinnie and Eloise Viola. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Anton Lesser in Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music at Grand Opera House, York

Literary event of the week: Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music, Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm

AUTHOR Laurie Lee’s extraordinary story is told in a captivating weave of music and his own words in Red Sky At Sunrise, performed by actors Anton Lesser and Charlie Hamblett, accompanied by David Le Page’s musical programme for Orchestra Of The Swan.

Together, they celebrate Lee’s engaging humour, as well as portraying his darker side, in a performance that has startling resonance with modern events, tracing Lee’s path through Cider With Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment Of War as he ended up fighting with the International Brigades against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Home Is Where The Heart Is, seascape, by Carolyn Coles, from her exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

Exhibition launch: Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1

CREATING atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, Carolyn reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape, offering a direct response to the feelings and connections to places that feel like home. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30, when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

York Beethoven Project to go ‘even bigger’ for No. 3, Eroica in September at Joseph Rowntree Theatre. Here’s how to apply

John Atkin directing the York Beethoven Project orchestra

YORK Beethoven Project will go “even bigger” for No. 3, Eroica when the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, hosts the third event on Saturday, September 14 and an additional workshop two weeks later.

“After our first event last year it became apparent that we were going to be too big to fit the whole orchestra onto the Rowntree stage, so we’ve had to limit September 14 to a group of 42 musicians, which will still be the biggest orchestra the JoRo has hosted,” says organiser, conductor and White Rose Theatre director John Atkin.

“We’ll therefore be holding another one-day workshop for the Eroica, which is open to all on September 28. So far, we again have more than 50 musicians signed up to take part.”

For more information or to participate, click on the link below or email yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScZar8bgRoIfMdhbw1fhKizjureEwKjXrz5Gu7dZ5rWrTgBGA/viewform?usp=sf_link

The September 14 event will climax with a 7.30pm concert in two halves under the title of An Evening Of Revolutionary Music.

In the first half, the White Rose Singers will perform groundbreaking music from stage and screen under conductor John Atkin, including songs from West Side Story, Les Misérables, Carousel, James Robert Brown and Stephen Sondheim.

In the second,  the 42-piece York Beethoven Project orchestra will perform Beethoven’s “revolutionary masterpiece”, Symphony No. 3, Eroica. Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

“York Beethoven Project is a unique series of concerts where we’ll perform all Beethoven’s Symphonies in order, featuring local musicians in local venues,” says John.

“After the huge success of Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2, we’re going even bigger for No.3: Eroica. Our future plans are now taking shape with bigger venues arranged for No. 4, 5 and 6 in 2025 and plans are well in place for a VERY big venue (or two ) in 2027 to host a performance of the 9th Symphony on what will be Beethoven’s 200th anniversary.”

Conductor John Atkin

Future events

Symphony No. 4 in Bb Major Op 60

Saturday, February 8 2025, York Music Education, Millthorpe School main hall.

Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op 67

Saturday, June 28 2025, St Mary the Virgin, Hemingbrough.

Symphony No. 6 in F Major Op 68 (Pastorale)

Saturday, September 27 2025, venue to be confirmed.These all will be one-day workshops, culminating in a performance from 4pm. 

Music will be distributed to players electronically well in advance. Registration for each event will open six months in advance. For more information, and to go on the mailing list, contact: yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com

‘Future superstar of the blues’ Toby Lee plays Fulford Arms tomorrow. Guest slot with Jools Holland awaits at York Barbican

Toby Lee: Blues guitarist on the rise

TEENAGE blues prodigy Toby Lee heads to the Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow night, the next stop in a year when the Oxfordshire-born guitarist and singer will play more than 100 British and European shows.

In his diary are 40 solo gigs and 60-plus engagements as a special guest on boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra’s travels in May to July and October to December.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year will be joining Jools at York Barbican on December 11, as well as further Yorkshire gigs at Bridlington Spa on July 16; Hull City Hall, July 17; Sheffield City Hall, November 23, and Leeds First Direct Arena, December 20.

The story goes that Lee’s musical journey began at the age of four when his grandmother bought him a yellow-and-green ukulele, but by then he had already “started banging around on stuff as if I wanted to be a drummer, when you want to make a noise out of anything,” recalls Toby, now 19.

“We always had instruments around the house, so I could ‘experiment’, as my mum reminds me on a regular basis. I started drumming on the piano legs with two drumsticks, so when it came to guitars and stringed instruments, that’s when I got the ukulele from my grandma, and my dad always had guitars in our home too.”

Toby still has that ukulele, “though it’s lost all its strings. I keep it in the footwell of the car,” he reveals. “It was a natural evolution to play guitar, so I got my first full-size electric guitar when I was eight.; it was a Stratocaster replica, I think.”

Within two years of receiving that guitar as a Christmas present while holidaying at a Cornish hotel, he was partnered by Gibson Guitars. “It was a very crazy experience, having that partnership at that age – and they rang me!” says Toby.

“It all came through social media, from when I did a Get Well Soon jam for BB King, recording myself playing along to a drum beat on my dad’s Fender guitar. It went viral, getting five million views in a week! Gibson Guitars got to see that video, contacted me, and they’ve been unbelievable in terms of them sending me guitars to use ever since.”

Living in the Oxfordshire countryside outside Banbury, no-one could object to Toby’s early guitar exertions. “Not even the cows,” he jokes.

Such was his talent that he was chosen to play guitarist Zack Mooneyham in the West End premiere of School Of Rock.

“I started rehearsals aged 11, going from being a bedroom guitarist, knowing every word of the show, when I got the call to go to Broadway, but it would have meant moving to the other side of the world.

“They said, ‘that’s fine, we’ll be coming to London’. So, after the auditions, they pulled me to one side to say ‘we’d like you to take the part of Zack Mooneyham’.

“That was a crazy feeling as it was a show I’d been listening all my life, and being told at 11 that you can play the guitar on stage, use all that energy, jump around on stage, was wonderful.”

Toby’s attendance record at school was “absolutely dire”. “But I was able to do classes during the day, sometimes cramming them into the morning,” he says.

Three young teams performed the show in rotation, with Toby picked for the team for radio, TV and press coverage. “We did the press opening night when Cliff Richard was in the front row,” he says.

He played Zack Mooneyham for a year, winning an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In Music, since when has gone on to share stages with blues luminaries such as his hero Joe Bonamassa (on his Mediterranean Blue Cruise), Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash.

Toby Lee with Jools Holland: Teaming up at York Barbican, Bridlington Spa, Hull City Hall, Sheffield City Hall and Leeds First Direct Arena

“It’s only now that I can look back and think about those amazing experiences, when now it feels real, because you’re in the moment. Now I know what they’ve been through to get where they are; the amount of graft that goes into it. Now I have infinite ideas of how hard it is to make it happen.”

 But what drew him to the blues, the music of BB King and Jimi Hendrix in particular, rather than rock?  “It’s a bit of an unusual style to pick, and I actually grew up listening to Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochrane, as my dad was always in love with American music, so that was the music around the house,” says Toby.

“So I grew up listening to anything from Buddy Holly – who was my first inspiration – to Metallica, but blues music was the one that took off the most with fans. That took me down a rabbit hole even more, so I’d go from listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King to thinking, ‘right, I better do more homework’.”

His passion for playing the blues remains a family business, the Lees having moved to Cornwall, just outside Newquay, five years ago. “It’s very much a family-run thing, just me and my mum and my dad.  I couldn’t have done it without them,” says Toby, who describes the guitar as his “comfort blanket”.

“There aren’t many parents who would have said ‘great’ when I said I wanted to be a guitarist at nine! My dad was on it straightaway, whereas at first my mum was saying, ‘where’s the curriculum for that?’.”

Toby’s sheer talent negated that question, and the sense of togetherness, completed by their three dogs, prevails. “My mum works from home, and I always travel with my dad, who’s part of the management team,” says Toby.

His multiple shows with Jools Holland will heighten his profile still more. “I got asked to do Cerys Matthews’ blues show on BBC Radio 2, and one of her producers works with Jools too and got asked to do some filming for a film being made about blues music that Jools was involved in as well,” he says.

“That was the first time I met Jools, about seven or eight months ago, and it was definitely a jump in at the deep end, with everyone there knowing they were going to play a song together apart from me! So it was like, ‘ready Toby? Go’!

“It was a really cool moment, jamming a song between Jools and Ruby Turner called Remember Me, so, all of a sudden, I was having a one-to-one music lesson with Jools. It turned out there were lots of similarities between us because neither of us reads music.

“We get on really well, and just as I was about to leave to head back to lovely Cornwall, they asked if I could play some shows with Jools.”

Initially, 30 shows were on his schedule, now it will be more than 60; the summer itinerary with Irish singer Imelda May as Holland’s fellow guest, the autumn and winter dates with Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond on board.

“I grew up listening to Jools, watching his Hootenanny shows on YouTube, and after watching them for years, it was a surreal moment to be working with him,” says Toby.

Before thoseJools Holland commitments comes tomorrow’s gig at the Fulford Arms with Lee’s four-piece band, featuring Chris Haddon on rhythm guitar, Sam Collins on bass and Joe Harris on drums.

“It’ll be original material and a few covers,” says Toby. “For the new album – all originals – we’ll be dropping singles over the summer and it’ll then be out in the autumn with the title House On Fire.”

Toby has played York once before, supporting blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor at York Barbican in April 2022. “I’m excited to be coming back, headlining this time,” he says.

Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow; doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163. Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, featuring special guest Toby Lee, York Barbican, December 11, 7.30pm. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Drag diva Velma Celli sings praises of show queens in York Theatre Royal cabaret night

Velma Celli: Returning to York Theatre Royal to celebrate West End and Broadway musical queens. Picture: Sophie Eleanor

YORK drag diva deluxe Velma Celli will be in regal voice at York Theatre Royal in her new cabaret concoction of music, risqué comedy and generally fabulous entertainment on May 23.

After God The Save The Queens’ celebration of British music icons, from Cilla Black, Shirley Bassey and Kate Bush to Adele, Amy Winehouse and Dua Lipa, here comes Velma Celli’s Show Queen.

“It was going to be called just ‘Show Queen’, but then I discovered there’s a famous drag act in Australia who’s done a show with that title, so ‘Velma Celli’s Show Queen’ it is,” says Velma, the flamboyant creation of West End musical actor and cruise ship star turn Ian Stroughair, 41.

“I’ll be touring it next year when it’ll be called ‘Show Queen’ but with a tag line. It’s a title that’s open to any interpretation.”

Offering an invitation to the new show, Velma says: “Grease up your voice boxes, head to the glorious Theatre Royal, York and come Hear the People Sing the Sound Of Music worthy of royalty or Hamilton himself in this greatest of Cabaret shows.”

Velma Celli: Presenting “the greatest of cabaret shows”

What’s in store? “It’s a brand new show going back to my own musical theatre roots, having appeared in iconic mega shows such as Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent. I’ll be celebrating the very best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits in a show that takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!

“I first did it at Crazy Coqs [the London cabaret club], but only with piano, so not the full version that it will be in York, where the band will be led by Scott Phillips on keyboards. He’s a professional musical director, who I first met when he was training here in York, and now I take him everywhere to do all my gigs. He’s fixing up the rest of the band but Al Morrison will definitely be on guitar.”

Among the highlights of Velma’s 75-minute show will be a ten-minute Kander & Ebb medley of Cabaret and Chicago, including Cell Block Tango. “I’ll be doing all six of the murderesses at Cook County Jail regaling Roxie Hart with the stories behind the murder of the men in their lives,” says Velma. “I’m doing it in a mash-up with Henry VIII’s wives in Six!”

Velma’s special guests will be burlesque superstar Miss Betsy Rose and an acoustic set with soul-powered York singer Jessica Steel, a regular in Velma’s home-city shows accompanied by guitarist Stuart Allan.

“Betsy has been voted the number one burlesque artist three times and is known for being the best in vintage burlesque,” says Velma. “She’s done shows with me at Impossible York, and I look forward to her giving off Cyd Charisse vibes at the Theatre Royal. And Jess? She’s York’s finest!”

Miss Betsy Rose: Guest burlesque act at Velma Celli’s Show Queen cabaret night at York Theatre Royal

Velma Celli’s Show Queen will be Velma’s fourth gig at York Theatre Royal in recent years, after A Brief History Of Drag in May 2021, Me And My Divas in September 2022 and God Save The Queens last September.

“I did my first musical there, in 1997, when I was 14: Kes! The Musical,” Velma recalls. “Lawrence Till directed it, and we were just school kids working with West End professionals. What an experience.”

After 15 years of shows taking her to Australia, New York, the Edinburgh Fringe and London’s Hippodrome, Velma Celli’s diary is as busy and as diverse as ever.

“Last month I was the MC for a concert for the Demelza House children’s charity at the Granville Theatre in Ramsgate, introducing Anna-Jane Casey, Robin Cousins, Amy Lennox, Mike Nolan & Cheryl Baker and Christina Bianco, who I’ll be performing with at Crazy Coqs in a tenth anniversary of our show Divallusion on August 30,” says Velma.

Velma’s travels have taken her back to Australia this year on tour. “I played Sydney, the Brunswick Picturehouse, Byron Bay, in New South Wales, and Perth, where God Save The Queens won the Perth Fringeworld award for best cabaret, after I was  nominated previously for A Brief History Of Drag and won with Me And My Divas,” she says.

The poster artwork for Velma Celli’s God Save The Queens

“I did a cruise too, from Melbourne to Sydney, doing my show on board for four days – and I’ve sung at a private show in the Seychelles. Lovely!”

Coming up in York will be Velma Celli’s Pride Drag Brunch for York Pride on June 1 at Impossible York at 4pm and the Pride Official Afterparty at Ziggy’s Bar & Nightclub, in Micklegate, from 8pm.  

Further afield in Yorkshire, Velma will be performing God Save The Queens at Skipton Town Hall on June 15 (8pm, box office: skiptontownhall.co.uk). In the diary too is a return to a starring role at Yorktoberfest, York’s celebration of beer, bratwurst and all things Bavarian in the Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, on October 18, 19, 25 and 26 (tickets: ticketsource.co.uk/yorktoberfest).

Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, May 23, 7.30pm. Age guidance: 14 plus. Content warning: Strong language.

Should you be in the south: Velma Celli’s A Brief History Of Drag, King’s Head Theatre, 116 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN, June 17, 9pm; Velma Celli’s God Save The Queens, Fiery Bird, Goldsworth Road, Woking, July 13, 7.30pm. Box office: kingsheadtheatre.com; fierybirdvenue.org.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 15, from Gazette & Herald

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

FROM Monet to Martin Carthy, a Shakespeare play in a day to Henry VIII’s life and loves, teenage blues to country rambles, Charles Hutchinson sees how the cultural land lies.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (16/5/2024), 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Sarah McQuaid: Playing Helmsley Arts Centre on Friday

Folk gig of the week: Sarah McQuaid, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday, 7.30pm

BORN in Madrid to a Spanish father and folk-singing American mother, raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah McQuaid is long settled in west Cornwall.

She has released six albums, When Two Lovers Meet (1997), I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning (2008), Crow Coyote Buffalo (written and recorded with Zoe Pollock under the name Mama, 2008), The Plum Tree And The Rose (2012), Walking Into White (2015), If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (2018) and The St Buryan Sessions (2021). Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Jack Abbot’s Henry VIII: Regal performance in Divorced, Beheaded, Died at Milton Rooms, Malton

History lesson of the week: Divorced, Beheaded, Died – An Evening With King Henry VIII, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 7.30pm

THE year is 1544, when King Henry VIII is engaged on royal progress about his realm, halting in Malton on Friday to afford his loyal subjects the opportunity to have “audience” with their sovereign lord and king.

In Select Society Theatre Company’s one-man, two-act show, Jack Abbot’s Henry recounts the events of his life and long reign with tales of his wives and children, concluding with an audience Q&A. DNA tests, by the way, have revealed that Jack is Henry’s 21st cousin, six times removed. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms on Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 shows home and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms on Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

A seascape by artist Ione Harrison, who leads Sunday’s workshop at Helmsley Arts Centre

Workshop of the week: Seascapes with artist Ione Harrison, Helmsley Arts Centre, Sunday, 10am to 1pm

ARTIST Ione Harrison hosts a workshop suitable for all levels, from beginners to anyone wanting to explore new techniques, exploring the magic of watercolour in a mindful and playful way – no drawing needed.

Participants will create two atmospheric seascapes of the North Yorkshire coast, with room for artistic licence, using a limited but vibrant palette, trying out fun techniques, such as cling film, spatter and wax resist, plus raditional washes and wet-on-wet painting. Refreshments will be available. Bookings: visit ioneharrison.co.uk/book-online. 

Mikron Theatre cast members Eddie Ahrens, left, Mark Emmon, Georgina Liley and Lauren Robinson: Presenting an outdoor performance of Common Ground at Scarcoft Allotments, York, on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robling Photography

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, Sunday, 2pm

ON tour on narrow boat and canal, van and land until October 18, Marsden company Mikron Theatre present Common Ground, writer and lyricist Poppy Hollman’s hike through the history of land access in England, where only eight per cent of land is designated “open country”.

Under the direction of Gitika Buttoo, actor-musicians Eddie Ahrens, Georgina Liley, Lauren Robinson and Mark Emmon tell the tale of the fictional Pendale and District Ramblers as they look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary walk, but the path has been blocked by the landowner. How will they find their way through? No reserved seating or tickets required;  a “pay what you feel” collection will be taken post-show.

Martin Carthy: Folk trailblazer

Gig announcement of the week: Martin Carthy, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, July 27, 7.30pm

“WHAT we like most about Martin Carthy is that to us he’s a local hero who will once again take the high road from Robin Hood’s Bay to Farndale, jewel in the crown of the North York Moors National Park, to renew his acquaintance with The Band Room,” says gig promoter Nigel Burnham.

Carthy, 82, who has enjoyed trailblazing folk partnerships with Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick, wife Norma Waterson and daughter Eliza Carthy, brings to the stage more than half a century of experiences and stories as a ballad singer, groundbreaking acoustic and electric guitarist and insatiably curious interpreter and arranger of other artists’ material and trad songs. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.

Spice up your life with Wannabe’s June 20 tribute to girl power at Grand Opera House

Wannabe’s Posh, left, Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary

WANNABE – The Spice Girls Show will celebrate three decades of girl power at the Grand Opera House, York, on June 20.

The “world’s longest-running” Spice Girls tribute stage production pays homage to the best-selling girl group of all time in a nostalgic journey through the Spice World.

Since its debut in 2017, Wannaba’s tribute to Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Baby and Posh has hit the West End and toured Great Britain, Europe, Asia, and Australia, playing to 300,000 Spice Girls devotees.

Wannabe charts the English girl group’s meteoric rise, from their debut number one, Wannabe, in July 1996 to Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell and Victoria Beckham’s reunion at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Expect “meticulously crafted costumes representing pivotal moments in the Spice Girls’ career, unique vocal and musical arrangements exclusive to Wannabe, iconic dance routines and stunning visual flair”.

Tickets for June 20’s 7.30pm show are on sale at atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Ema Nikolovska/Joseph Middleton, Leeds Lieder Festival 2024

Ema Nikolovska and Joseph Middleton. Picture: Leeds Lieder Festival

Leeds Lieder Festival 2024: Ema Nikolovska/Joseph Middleton, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds Grand Theatre, April 20

MACEDONIAN-CANADIAN mezzo soprano Ema Nikolovska, partnered by festival director Joseph Middleton, brought a delightful potpourri to her evening recital, in which they teamed Schubert and Debussy with rarities by Margaret Bonds and Nicolas Slonimsky alongside the premiere of a festival commission by Tansy Davies.

Nikolovska’s clean, nicely focused tone is allied to a lively personality that illuminates the poetryof her songs. There was a freshness to her opening Schubert group, not least in Im Frühling (In Spring).

After its penultimate verse, there was a pronounced rallentando and a long pause before she resumed. Not so long ago that would have been considered unstylish, but she made it seem natural. One could only admire, too, her treatment of the dramatic scena Der Unglückliche (The Forlorn One), a poem from Karoline Pichler’s novel Olivier. It has been called pastiche, but Nikolovska handled its emotional roller-coaster with immense conviction.

In answer to a commission from Leeds Lieder, celebrating its 20th anniversary, Tansy Davies chose to set Nick Drake’s The Ice Core Sample Says, taken from his collection The Farewell Glacier, about climate change. The poem deals memorably with the “chronicle of lost time” revealed in an ice core, with an overarching nostalgia in what is essentially a lament over mankind’s mistreatment of our planet.

Davies’s response is unexpected. Against an accompaniment that explores the extremes of the keyboard, she takes the voice slowly from very low to very high in each of a series of phrases. Later in the piece, which lasts about eight minutes, the vocal line becomes very jagged, as the narrator shows agitation at the shocking revelations coming from the ice.

Great demands are made upon the singer here, in what is essentially an instrumental line, quite the opposite of cantabile. Nikolovska was equal to them all, indeed she gave the impression of being comfortable.

Towards the end she also shakes something like maracas, as “Now the great narrator Silence takes over”. This powerful poem, replete with images, which was commendably read out beforehand, is arguably too complex for vocal setting. But Davies and Drake between them certainly made an impact.

The American composer Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) was a new name to me. Although a pianist, the bulk of her works were for solo voice; several of her spirituals were commissioned and sung by Leontyne Price. Her early Songs Of The Seasons (1935-6), settings of her favoured poet Langston Hughes, proved a delightful antidote to the Davies work, and elicited considerable virtuosity from Middleton.

Thereafter we were on more familiar ground. Debussy’s six Verlaine settings, Ariettes Oubliées, which really put him on the mélodie map, found her in idiomatic vein. She sustained a pleasing legato through Il Pleure dans Mon Cœur against the rippling piano, and ideally evoked the ennui of Spleen.

But in two Medtner songs in Rachmaninov style – Twilight with its flavour of a bar-room ballad and the sweeping lines of Sleeplessness – she showed plenty of heft.

A return to wry delicacy was the order of the day in Slonimsky’s Five Advertising Songs, commercial jingles by any other name, but with a few extra twists. This was immaculate caricature, from ‘falling asleep’ with pillowcases to grand sweeping lines for toothpaste. Nikolovska has a great sense of humour and proved it here. She topped it all off, however, with a touching Macedonian folk-song encore, which came right from the heart.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Katherine Priddy ponders the pull of home, family and love on second album The Pendulum Swing as she plays The Crescent

Katherine Priddy: “Always found myself wandering back, craving the comfort and nostalgia of the past,” she says.

KATHERINE Priddy grew up in the first house on the left, the title of the first single from her second album, The Pendulum Swing, whose title came from a lyric in that song.

“Despite its soft and dreamy sound, this song provides the cornerstone around which the album and its themes orbit,” says the Birmingham contemporary roots singer-songwriter and finger-picking guitarist, who plays at The Crescent, York, on Wednesday night (15/5/2024).

“It’s inspired by the little old house where I grew up and all the memories captured within those four walls – both for me and for all the other inhabitants who’ve lived there over the centuries. It might just be another terraced cottage to passers-by, but to those who’ve called it home, it’s everything.

“There’s something magical about past inhabitants. That was something that intrigued me as a child, digging in the garden, finding old toy soldiers and bits of china: it’s a reminder you’re not the first to live there and you won’t be the last. It’s a comforting thought, how a house can look like any old terraced house outside but inside a scratch on the wall means everything.”

Explaining the album title, Katherine says: “It describes the urge to leave and the even stronger urge to return. Something I’ve felt a lot in recent few years as I’ve tried to carve out a corner for myself elsewhere, but always found myself wandering back, craving the comfort and nostalgia of the past.”

Released in February on Cooking Vinyl as the follow-up to 2021’s The Eternal Rocks Beneath, The Pendulum Swing is a step forward for Katherine. “My songs have matured since my debut, seeing as most of those were written in my childhood, but despite moving forward and feeling the need to do something different with this second release, I still can’t help but return to those fundamental, unchanging things at the root of it all: home, family, love,” she says.

“Overall, I wanted this song and the album to feel lived in, and this is captured in part by the ghostly atmospheres, mechanical clockwork sounds, creaking floorboards, indistinct whispers and old tape recordings of my family that are littered throughout. I want to invite the listener to come in, sit down and inhabit the album for a little while, and First House On The Left is right at the heart of that.”

Describing the rural village house, Katherine says: “It’s an old terraced house in Alvechurch, 11 miles from Birmingham, quite a few hundred years old with a lot of history. It’s where I grew up; I’ve moved out, moved back in again, moved out, then moved back in again with my parents over lockdown, with mixed feelings.

“When rapidly approaching 30, you feel you must move out, move on, but at the same it’s really hard to deny the pleasure of being back home with your parents.”

Katherine reflects on the itinerant nature of a singer-songwriter’s life. “Being a musician, it’s always about picking the most scenic route. I will find my home,” she says, having moved out again. “At the moment I’ve found a lovely little flat in Birmingham by the river.”

Will she write about it? “Who knows! Maybe I will. Probably I have another house song in me,” she says.

The cover artwork for Katherine Priddy’s sophomore album The Pendulum Swing

Katherine wrote her first album in her teens. “It dealt with mythology, which I was more interested in then. Now I’ve turned back to more fundamental things because they are there all the time and I’m trying to find myself. When everything else seems unstable, these things stay the same, and I wanted to capture that nostalgia, which is something I crave.”

Craving comfort in the past, Katherine says: “I’ve picked a fairly unstable career, which is very much about being in the moment, planning but not sure if things will come to fruition, but I feel very lucky to have a family that’s an unchanging bedrock and are always so supportive.

“Sometimes you just want to go back and feel like a kid again, and I think it’s fine that I feel grateful to have that feeling of nostalgia. It’s impossible not to want to still be back there and re-live those moments – and I can do that in song.”

She returned to the same producer, Simon J Weaver, who had recorded her first album at his Rebellious Jukebox studio in Birmingham, joined by guest musicians John Smith (lead guitar), Harry Fausing Smith (strings), Marcus Hamblett (brass and double bass), George Boomsma, from Northallerton (guitar and backing vocals), and Polly Virr (cello).

“This album feels like a step up in being more cinematic in places and taking me out of my comfort zone,” says Katherine. “I really like it on albums where you can hear things that take it from being a song to be more immersive, and that what’s we’ve done for The Pendulum Swing

“I wanted it to feel like you are entering a house, but also bookending the album with instrumentals that convey returning to the house and then leaving again at the end. It’s that urge to stay and that urge to leave that I’ve been doing battle with.

“Some of the songs are very personal to me, like when I’ve featured clips throughout of me and my dad talking from a tape that I found at my parents’ house – and I’ve squeezed my family into a cameo on the last track.

“I thought there’d be more resistance, but my dad loves his vinyl and a credit on an album is something he couldn’t resist, so it’s a family affair with my brother and parents on there.”

Katherine’s 14-date tour finds her expanding from a duo format to a trio with support act George Boomsma and Harry Fausing Smith joining her on stage. “It’s lovely to have Harry for this tour, capturing some of the soundscapes from the album, as well as integrating some of the samples into the set,” she says.

“It’s really emotive to have the strings. I’ve been getting goosebumps listening to these musicians adding their beautiful skills to songs that have been occupying my head for so long.”

Katherine Priddy plays The Crescent, York, on May 15, supported by George Boomsma, 7.30pm; The Live Room, Saltaire, May 16, 7.30pm. Both sold out. Box office for returns only: katherinepriddy.co.uk/ 

Katherine Priddy: the back story

Katherine Priddy: Singer, songwriter, guitarist

First set foot on stage to play Dorothy in school play The Wizard Of Oz, aged nine.

Wrote first song at 14/15.

Love of language, literature and poetry rooted in English Literature studies at University of Sussex, Brighton. Favourite novel Wuthering Heights would later inspire her first album title:  “I loved how Cathy described her love for Heathcliff as being ‘the eternal rock beneath’,” she says.

Folk luminary Richard Thompson chose her as “The Best Thing I’ve Heard All Year” in Mojo magazine on the strength of her 2018 EP, Wolf.

Received airplay on Guy Garvey, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson, Cerys Matthews, Radcliffe & Maconie, Steve Lamacq  and the late Janice Long’s radio shows.

2021 debut albumThe Eternal Rocks Beneath (Navigator Records) drew glowing reviews from the Observer, the Sun, Uncut, Songlines and Folk Radio UK with its songs of mythology, childhood and growing up. Charted at number one in Official UK Folk Chart and number five in Official UK Americana Chart, rounded off the year on Mojo’s Folk Albums of the Year list.

Played Cambridge Folk Festival, winning Christian Raphael Prize; Glastonbury, appearing on BBC Two’s coverage; Green Man; End Of The Road; Beautiful Days and BBC Proms.

Katherine Priddy and John Smith performing together at Selby Town Hall in November 2022. Picture: Paul Rhodes

As well as headline tours, she has supported Richard Thompson, The Chieftains, Loudon Wainwright III and Vashti Bunyan.

In 2022, she played in Australia, including Port Fairy Folk Festival, plus showcase in Kansas City, USA, as part of Folk Alliance International.

In 2023, she recorded I Think They’re Leaving Me Behind for double album The Endless Coloured Ways – The Songs Of Nick Drake, on Chrysalis Records, featuring alongside Self Esteem, Aldous Harding, John Grant, Bombay Bicycle Club and more.

Supported Guy Garvey at The Roundhouse, London.

In February 2024, she released second album The Pendulum Swing on Cooking Vinyl.

Past shows around here: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, near York, August 2021; National Centre for Early Music, York, June 2022; Selby Town Hall, with John Smith, playing 14 songs together over 100 minutes, November 2022.

One last question

Do you consider herself to be a folk musician, Katherine?

“I THINK I’m just outside, with one foot in folk and one foot elsewhere, but what I appreciate about folk songs is that they tell stories.”

More Things To Do in York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 20, from The Press, York

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

NATURE in full bloom, hothoused Shakespeare, blossoming student creativity and teenage blues put the colour in Charles Hutchinson’s cheeks for warmer days ahead.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Stewart Dylan-Campbell’s Rob, left, and Aiden Kane’s Marc in Qweerdog Theatre’s Jump, playing Rise@Bluebird Bakery tomorrow

Relationship drama of the week: Qweerdog Theatre in Jump, at Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, tomorrow (12/5/2024), 8.30pm; doors 7.30pm

DEVELOPED through Manchester company Qweerdog’s LGBTQ+ writing project, Nick Maynard’s dark comedy takes an unusual look at contemporary gay life, exploring the possibility of relationships and how they are not always the way we imagine.

Directed by West End director Scott Le Crass, Jump depicts the lives, love lives and past lives of two lost souls drawn to a canal one night. As the weary, embittered Rob (Stewart Dylan-Campbell) contemplates the lure of the water, a handsome young man, the “chopsy” Marc (Aiden Kane), engages him in conversation. So begins a strange and fractious relationship that might just prove beneficial to them both. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise.

Paloma Faith: “Celebrating taking responsibility for your own happiness” at York Barbican tomorrow

Recommended but sold out already: Paloma Faith, York Barbican, tomorrow, 8pm; Katherine Priddy, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

STOKE Newington soul tour de force Paloma Faith showcases her sixth studio album, February’s deeply personal The Glorification Of Sadness, her “celebration of finding your way back after leaving a long-term relationship, being empowered even in your failures and taking responsibility for your own happiness”.

Birmingham folk singer and guitarist Katherine Priddy will be promoting second album The Pendulum Swing, released on Cooking Vinyl in February.  For the first time, her 14-date May tour finds her performing in a trio, joined by Harry Fausing Smith (strings) and support act George Boomsma (electric guitar).

Hollie McNish: Performing at the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Kat Gollock

Festival of the week: TakeOver – In The Limelight, York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18

IN this annual collaboration between York Theatre Royal and York St John University, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

Among those events will be writer Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book, Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love (Thursday, 7.30pm), dance troupe Verve: Triple Bill (next Saturday, 7.30pm) and multiple shows by York St John students. For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Gray O’Brien’s Juror 10, left, and Michael Greco’s Juror 7 in the 70th anniversary production of Twelve Angry Men. Picture: Jack Merriman

Jury service: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

IN its 70th anniversary touring production, Reginald Rose’s knife-edge courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men resonates with today’s audiences with its intricately crafted study of human nature. Within the confines of the jury deliberating room, 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, wherein Rose examines the art of persuasion as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in Christopher Haydon’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms next Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, May 18, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 showshome and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms next Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

Her name is Del Rio: And she lives for stand-up comedy as drag queen Bianca feels Dead Inside on York-bound world tour

Gig announcement of the week: Bianca Del Rio, Dead Inside, York Barbican, September 18

COMEDY drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio heads to York on her 11-date stand-up tour. Up for irreverent discussion will be politics, pop culture, political correctness, current events, cancel culture and everyday life, as observed through the eyes of a “clown in the gown”, who will be “coming out of my crypt and hitting the road again to remind everyone that I’m still dead inside”. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Who’s performing in York St John University’s TakeOver – In The Limelight festival at York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18?

Verve: Presenting a dance triple bill at TakeOver – In The Limelight

THE 12th TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal is in the hands of York St John University for the fourth year, taking the theme of In The Limelight from May 13 to 18.

In this annual town-and-gown collaboration, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

“TakeOver is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience running and taking part in a theatre festival that is entirely unique,” says Ruby, a student on the producing team. “We’re able to learn so many new skills and create something that we can really be proud of.” said Ruby, a student on the producing team. 

Among the highlights will be the May 16 performance of Scottish author and poet Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love, wherein she addresses questions of friendships, flags and newborns as she shines her poetic lens on “all those things we have been taught to hate, and which we might learn to love again”. Joining her on the 7.30pm bill will be fellow poet Micheal Pedersen, reading from his books The Cat Prince and Boy Friends.  

To “see where dance is right now, and where it might go next”, the Verve: Triple Billat 7.30pm on May 18 presents a bold programme featuring new commissions by artistic directorMatteo Marfoglia and choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter,alongside a reworking of People Used To Die by the international collective(LA)HORDE. 

Verve is the postgraduate company of Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. Each year, the company commissions choreographers from all over the world to create an artistically distinct, physically daring and engaging programme of dance work. 

Hollie McNish: Reading from her book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love on May 16

Festival Programme

May 13

Opening ceremony; free snacks and drinks available for all guests.

7.30pm, Upper Foyer, This is York Pecha Kucha, Volume 30: Bearing Fruit, in collaboration with York Creatives. Rapid-fire talks from more than seven speakers on a range of topics created to leave you feeling entertained, educated and inspired. 

May 14

Full day of shows and activities, starting with two York St John companies.

11am, Studio: Bounce Back: Interactive children’s theatre experience introducing the audience to the world of fairytale.

12 noon, Studio: Final Girls: Multi-media performance set in a forest where a group of unlikely people try to survive, the best they can, against an unknown entity.

Followed by dance trail that will take the audience around the city of York before returning to the theatre.  

6pm, Studio: Peachy & Me:  Performer Beverly Bishop invites family audiences into a world of storytelling, music, magic and comedy, as she appears as both herself and her clown alter-ego to overcome the complexities of the modern world.

7.30pm, main house: Out Of Character Theatre Company in Afterlife.In this York-made piece, strangers find themselves in a waiting room between life and death where they must go through their past lives to choose their forever.  

The TakeOver – In The Limelight logo for the 2024 festival

May 15

11am, main house: Misery Loves will be sharing their production of The Women Of Whitechapel, a newly devised musical that re-tells the stories of Jack the Ripper’s victims with the focus on finding out who these women really were.

12 noon, main house: Blushed’s show Our Fault, Never Their Fault follows two characters as they experience the journey of becoming a woman, highlighting the good, bad and little embarrassing parts that go alongside growing up.  

7.30pm, main house: Pinch Punch Improvisation use audience suggestions to help their four characters unmask the murderer before they are all killed in the improv whodunit Locomotive For Murder

May 16

11am, Studio: York St John company Glass Broom perform their post-apocalyptic show End,where five people are trapped in a house together. Tensions runs high as the characters are forced to find a way to survive with each other.

12 noon, main house: Fellow York St John company Tradesman present Life Of The Party,where agroup of collaborators explores essential themes through the lens of absurdist theatre, aiming to question the themes of the human condition. 

6pm, Studio: York company Pop Yer Clogs Theatre perform Alice In Wonderland Abridged, Lewis Carroll’s timeless tale ofAlice encountering many weird and wonderful characters in subterranean land where every time is tea time and nothing is ever as it seems.

7.30pm, main house: Hollie McNish reads from her book Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love. 

May 17

11am and 1pm, main house: Two dance routines created by York St John student Izzy Cryer. The first, Unholy,tells a story of cheating and betrayal, performed ina commercial style; the second, the lyrical Survivor, focuses on survival and standing together as one.

12 noon, Studio: York St John company M.A.D. say “fate, you can’t escape it”, asking how will it leave us? Alone or somehow forced together? Let’s find out what fate will throw at us this time in The Red Thread (a show suitable for age 18 plus

Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, and Phil Grainger: Performing Helios in the closing show on May 18

7.30pm, main house: A talk by Colin Sutton, a police officer for 30 years, who served as the head of a Metropolitan Police murder squad for the last nine of them. His show, The Real Manhunter, gives a guide to his career, how policing has changed, what it feels like to chase a serial killer and how he made the step from policing to storytelling. 

May 18Alexander

At 7.30pm, on the main house stage, Verve: Triple Bill of modern dance routines.

At 7.45pm, in the Studio, Alexander Flangan Wright and Phil Grainger present the third in their trilogy of Greek dramas in words and music, Helios.

Opportunities to be involved throughout the week:  

May 13, 2pm: Heels workshop, focusing on a style of dance that inspires confidence and is aimed at any level of experience. 5pm: Year 10 students from Joseph Rowntree School present a show based on social media and lockdown.

Throughout the week, tours include an afternoon tea experience. An open mic event takes place on May 14 at 4pm; a fashion show will be held on May 16 at 1pm; adult cocktail classes on May 17 at 2pm; a dance workshop for five to ten-year-olds, based on The Lion King, on May 18 at 2pm.

For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.