What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond in the wild, on stage, canvas and dancefloor. Hutch’s List No 20, from Gazette & Herald

What’s All The Fuss About?, Will Palmer’s photo of Arctic walrus Thor on the Scarborough harbour slipway, from the British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition at Nunnington Hall. Courtesy of National Trust

WILDLIFE photography, Rodgers and Hammerstein romance, a Strictly couple and a Scottish double bill send June into full bloom for Charles Hutchinson.

Ryedale exhibition of the week: British Wildlife Photography Awards, Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until July 7

CELEBRATING the diversity of British wildlife and wild spaces, this exhibition aims to raise awareness of British biodiversity, species and habitats. On display are award-winning images selected from 14,000 entries in more than a dozen categories, including film and three for juniors.

Look out for What’s All The Fuss About?, taken by Scarborough photographer Will Palmer, who captured the headline-making Arctic walrus, Thor, when resting ashore on the harbour slipway cobbles on December 31 2022. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm; last entry at 4.15pm. Tickets: nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall.

Courtney Broan’s Ado Annie in Pickering Musical Society’s Oklahoma! at the Kirk Theatre, Pickering

American classic of the week: Pickering Musical Society in Oklahoma!, Kirk Theatre, Pickering, running until Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

LUKE Arnold directs Pickering Musical Society in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 love story of Curly (Marcus Burnside) and Laurie (Rachel Anderson), set in the sweeping landscapes of the American heartland. 

Further roles go to Courtney Broan as Ado Annie, Stephen Temple as Will Parker, Michael O’Brien as Mr Carnes and Rick Switzer-Green as Ali Hakim, joined by dancers from the Sarah Louise Ashworth School of Dance. Box office: 01751 474833 or kirktheatre.co.uk.

Nadiya & Kai: Strictly dancers venture Behind The Magic at York Barbican

Dance show of the week: Nadiya & Kai , Behind The Magic, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm

STRICTLY Come Dancing professionals Nadiya Bychkova and Kai  Widdrington go Behind The Magic on a journey through the world of dance, from childhood memories and competition days, to dancing on Strictly and beyond.

The Ukraine-Southampton couple and their cast will be highlighting the influence of 20th century dance legends, creatives and artists alike. Expect “fabulous outfits, wonderful music and sensational dancing”. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Exhibiting with sister Amy and father Christopher in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth at Pyramid Gallery, York

Family exhibition of the week: Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, June 15 to August 3

FAMILY artistry unites in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, a unique exhibition featuring works by sisters Emily Stubbs and Amy Stubbs, regular participants in York Open Studios, alongside their father, Christopher Stubbs, from Hepworth, West Yorkshire.

Their first-ever joint showcase brings together diverse artistic media in a celebration of family creativity. Contemporary ceramicist Emily Stubbs works from PICA Studios, in Grape Lane; Amy specialises in textile and surface pattern design in a range of homeware and wearable art; Christopher will be exhibiting framed paintings and sketches. All three will attend Saturday’s launch in a Meet The Artists session from 12 noon to 2pm.

Amy Stubbs: Homeware and wearable art

Vintage gig of the week: Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 8pm

BEN Beattie’s After Midnight Band celebrate the greats and the lesser known, from honking jump blues to hypnotic Latin beats, joyous African township sounds to the smoky jazz normally to be found in a Chicago speakeasy at 3am. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Ben Beattie: Heading to Helmsley with the After Midnight Band

Film music of the week: A Tribute To Hans Zimmer and Film Favourites Illuminated, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday, 3.30pm and 7pm

EXPERIENCE cinema’s most iconic soundtracks performed by the London Film Music Orchestra in an immersive tribute to Hans Zimmer and more besides in an immersive illuminated setting.

The chamber orchestra will be performing music from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, E.T., Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jaws, Interstellar, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and Inception. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Simple Minds in Scarborough: Charlie Burchill, left, and Jim Kerr are off to the Yorkshire coast on Tuesday. Picture: Dean Chalkley

Coastal gig of the week: Simple Minds and special guests Del Amitri, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 18; gates open at 6pm

SOMEONE somewhere in summertime, namely Simple Minds in Scarborough on Tuesday, finds Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill’s band revisiting such hits as Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize, Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, Don’t You Forget About Me and, aptly for Scarborough, Waterfront.

Opening the Scottish double bill will be fellow Glaswegians Del Amitri, led as ever by Justin Currie. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com/simpleminds.

Wannabe: Spicing up the Grand Opera House, York

York tribute show of the week: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Musical, Grand Opera House, York, June 20, 7.30pm

WANNABE, the “world’s longest-running” Spice Girls tribute stage production, celebrates three decades of girl power in a nostalgic journey through the Spice World.

The show charts the English girl group’s meteoric rise, from July 1996’s debut number one, Wannabe, to Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s reunion at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Expect “meticulously crafted costumes, unique vocal and musical arrangements exclusive to Wannabe, iconic dance routines and stunning visual flair”. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Tim Ainslie: Leading his three-piece band in Malton

Blues gig of the month: Ryedale Blues Club, Tim Ainslie and The Vibes, Milton Rooms, Malton, June 27, 8pm

TIM Ainslie and The Vibes head up to Malton from Suffolk for a night of blues, jazz and funk, crossing over into country and rock too, making it hard to pigeonhole his three-piece’s style.

Ainslie, who turned professional in 1997, will be showcasing his original material and guitar-playing prowess that has seen him tour home and abroad with Steamboat To Chicago, Steel Street, Swagger, Groove Doctors, Delta Groove and American guitaristsBuddy WhittingtonandLightnin’ Willie. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

The poster artwork for Rick Witter and Paul Banks’s acoustic Shed Seven gigs at Huntington Working Men’s Club in December

Show announcement of the week: Shed Seven’s Rick Witter and Paul Banks, Huntington Working Men’s Club, York, December 21 and 22

RENASCENT York band Shed Seven will end their 30th anniversary celebrations with a brace of intimate acoustic concerts by frontman Rick Witter and guitarist Paul Banks at Huntington WMC, supported by a DJ set by Sheds’ bassist Tom Gladwin.

Tickets will go on sale at 9am today (12/6/2024) for these homecoming gigs: the York postscript to the Sheds’ 23-date 30th Anniversary Tour, their biggest ever “Shedcember” itinerary from November 14 to December 14. Box office: store.shedseven.com.

Tempest Wisdom appointed director of York Shakespeare Project’s autumn production The Two Gentlemen Of Verona

Tempest Wisdom: Writer, director, performer and teaching artist

TEMPEST Wisdom, York theatre-maker and educator, will direct York Shakespeare Project’s autumn production of The Two Gentlemen Of Verona at Theatre@41, 41 Monkgate, York.

Chair Tony Froud says: “Tempest [they/them] emerged from a strong field of applicants to direct the play. Their imagination, infectious enthusiasm and love of Shakespeare won the day. I cannot wait to see their production.”

Since moving to York in 2021, Tempest has made their mark with their work for York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre and as assistant director for York Theatre Royal and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s New Plays Festival, as well as in numerous stage appearances.

This year, they directed Jules Risingham’s Anorak in Next Door But One’s Yorkshire Trios at York Theatre Royal Studio and appeared in Shakespeare Speakeasy at Theatre@41 and Wittenberg Revisited, as part of the 2024 York International Shakespeare Festival.

Look out too for Tempest as the writer, producer and MC of Bard At The Bar, the bi-monthly “Shakespeare karaoke” readings at the Micklegate Social bar.

“I have exciting plans for the production, set in a Victorian music hall,” says Tempest. “I’m looking for a diverse and multi-talented ensemble of lively actors to bring Shakespeare’s comedy to life for a contemporary audience.”

Auditions for the October 23-26 production will be held at Southlands Methodist Church, in Bishopthorpe Road, on June 19 and 20 with callbacks on June 23. For further information and details of how to apply, contact Tempest via https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hVNoRWLyKhVQQfEcBn-hv-r0WfWj4mT0/view

Tempest Wisdom (they/them): the back story

Writer, director, performer and freelance teaching artist.

Originally hails from United States of America, where they wrote, directed, performed and taught for several years. Received Bachelor’s degree in theatre and performance studies from University of Chicago in 2018.

Relocated to York in 2021 to pursue Masters in theatre-making. Now here to stay!

Specialises in clown, mask and comedy work, with majority of training stemming from Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, whether Unfortunate or fortunate to be here. Hutch’s List No. 24, from The Press

Swing when you’re singing: Ryedale Primary Choir schoochildren doing their vocal exercises for Across The Whinny Moor

MUSICAL moorland mermaids and a villainous sea witch, motion in art and a Mozart mass, vintage Pink Floyd and a Louise Brooks silent movie set up Charles Hutchinson’s week ahead.

Ryedale Festival community event of the week: Across The Whinny Moor, St Peter’s Church, Norton, today, 4pm

THE world premiere of the Community Song Cycle: Across The Whinny Moor follows the trail of North Yorkshire’s Lyke Wake Walk, meeting cheeky hobs, angry mermaids, resourceful giants and wise witches along the way. 

The all-age cast for a walk through stories and songs by John Barber and Hazel Gould includes the schoolchildren of the Ryedale Primary Choir, the Ryedale Voices, Harmonia and The RyeLarks choirs, Kirkbymoorside Town Junior Brass Band, storyteller Rosie Barrett and mezzo-soprano soloist Victoria Simmonds, conducted by Caius Lee. Box office: ryedalefestival.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/1173652657. 

Tim Pearce’s poster artwork for Life Forms In Motion at Blossom Street Gallery

Six of the best: Life Forms In Motion, Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, until June 30

SIX Yorkshire artists give individual responses to the challenge of interpreting the motion of life forms in a range of static media. In a nutshell, time and space condensed into single, dynamic images.

Taking part are Tim Pearce, painting and sculpture; Cathy Denford, painting; Jo Ruth, printmaking; Adrienne French, painting; Mandy Long, ceramic sculpture, and Lesley Peatfield, photography. Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm; Sundays, 10am to 3pm.

Robert Hollingworth: On baton duty at the University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra’s concert at York Minster tonight

Classical concert of the week: University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra, York Minster, tonight, 7.30pm

UNDER the direction of Robert Hollingworth and John Stringer, the University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra perform Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass in C minor, widely considered to be among his supreme choral works.

This will be complemented by a selection of works by Anton Bruckner, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Austrian composer’s birth, including the Te Deum, “the pride of his life”. Box office: 01904 322439 or yorkconcerts.co.uk.

Across The Fields To The Sea, by John Thornton, from his Kentmere House Gallery exhibition

“Favourite artist” of the week: John Thornton, Across The Fields To The Sea, Kentmere House, Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York

BORN in York and now living in Selby, seascape and landscape artist John Thornton has opened his latest show, Across The Fields To The Sea, at his regular York gallery.

“John is everyone’s favourite painter,” says gallery owner and curator Ann Petherick. “I’m delighted he has produced a new and exciting collection of paintings of Askham Bog and Skipwith Common woodlands and meadows and the occasional seascape, inspired by his travels in Yorkshire since the end of Covid.” Opening hours: First weekend of each month, 11am to 5pm; every Thursday, 6pm to 9pm; any other time by appointment on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825.

Louise Brooks in Diary Of A Lost Girl, showing at the NCEM on Tuesday

Film event of the week: Diary Of A Lost Girl (PG), with pianist Utsav Lal, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, June 11, 7.30pm

TRAILBLAZING New York raga pianist Utsav Lal improvises his live score to accompany Diary Of A Lost Girl, a rarely shown gem of German silent cinema starring American icon Louise Brooks.

Presented by Northern Silents, G W Pabst’s 1929 film traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening. Box office: 01904 658338 and at ncem.co.uk.

Sex, sorcery and suckers: Shawna Hamic’s filthy-humoured Ursula in Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch. Picture: Pamela Raith

Musical discovery of the week: Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch, Grand Opera House, York, June 11 to 15, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

AFTER a hit London season, Yorkshire writer-director Robyn Grant heads north with her raucously rude, wickedly camp parody musical Unfortunate, wherein Disney diva Ursula, the villainous sea witch, rules the waves and waves the rules.

New York actress Shawna Hamic’s Ursula gives her filthy-humoured take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea in a bawdy tale of sex, sorcery and suckers. Age recommendation: 16+, on account of strong language, partial nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Courtney Broan as Ado Annie in Pickering Musical Society’s Oklahoma!

American classic of the week: Pickering Musical Society in Oklahoma!, Kirk Theatre, Pickering, June 11 to 15, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

LUKE Arnold directs Pickering Musical Society in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 love story of Curly (Marcus Burnside) and Laurie (Rachel Anderson), set in the sweeping landscapes of the American heartland. 

Further roles go to Courtney Broan as Ado Annie, Stephen Temple as Will Parker, Michael O’Brien as Mr Carnes and Rick Switzer-Green as AliHakim, joined by dancers from the Sarah Louise Ashworth School of Dance. Box office: 01751 474833 or kirktheatre.co.uk.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets: Re-visiting Pink Floyd at York Barbican

Rock gig of the week: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, York Barbican, June 12, 7.45pm

NICK Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets follow up their April 2022 appearance at York Barbican with Wednesday’s date on their Set The Controls Tour.

Once more, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason will be joined by Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris and keyboardist Dom Beken to perform vintage Pink Floyd material. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.   

The poster artwork for Calamity Jane, starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, on tour at Grand Opera House next spring

Show announcement of the week: Carrie Hope Fletcher in Calamity Jane, Grand Opera House, York, April 29 to May 3 2025

IN the week when Nikolai Foster’s production of An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical is on tour at the Grand Opera House, the York theatre announces the booking of another show with the North Yorkshire director at the helm, this one bound for the West End.

Three-time WhatsOnStage Best Actress in a Musical winner Carrie Hope Fletcher will star in the whip-crackin’ musical as fearless Dakota gun-slinger Calamity Jane. “She is one of those roles that doesn’t come around all too often,” she says. “She’s action, romance and comedy all packed into one character, and I can’t wait to take on the challenge of filling her shoes.” Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Simple8 in Moby Dick, York Theatre Royal, on the hunt till tomorrow ***

Guy Rhys’s Captain Ahab in Simple8’s Moby Dick

THE publicity for Simple8’s Moby Dick promised a “fun, fast and joyous” production: three words not usually associated with Herman Melville’s labyrinthine leviathan novel.

What’s more, writer Sebastian Armesto described his adaptation as “mercifully brief”. “If you haven’t read the novel, you can watch our show and then pretend that you have,” he said, wryly.

Fun? No? Joyous? No. Fast? First half, yes, but the second half began to lull before a storming finale. Overall, “mercifully brief” would be doing a disservice to the intelligence and theatrical invention behind Royal & Derngate artistic director Jesse Jones’s production, although it never quite reaches the sublime heights, beauty, tragedy and surprising humour of Ockham’s Razor’s circus adaptation of Tess at the Theatre Royal last month.

The two touring productions share a use of planks of woods and sheets, an ensemble cast and a script pared back from a weighty 19th century novel, along with a combination of physicality and psychology that is the essence of theatre.

Spoiler alert, the whale of the title that cost Captain Ahab his leg turns up only in the “last few pages” as Guy Rhys’s Ahab takes his vendetta against the sperm whale to reckless extremes with his Pequod crew.

The rest is imagination: getting inside the head of Ahab and, first, the equally single-minded Ishmael (Mark Arends), the schoolmaster drawn to Nantucket to experience whale hunting on the Pequod.

The unseen threat of Moby Dick – mirroring Covid’s creeping progress, as Armesto commented in his interviews – is conjured through description and even in the shape of bones held aloft by cast members as we await the leviathan’s stealthy arrival. The only puppet is a porpoise pulled from a bucket.

Equally, Captain Ahab is the subject of much discussion, the last to arrive on board, inducing fear, adrenaline and stomach butterflies as much as the whale. His delayed entry, when it does come, is preceded by the thud of his stump, raising the blood pressure still more.

Arends’s Ishmael, rather than Ahab, is the narrator, the thinker, the innocent, intrigued outsider, learning as we do, gradually consumed by Ahab’s obsessive mission for vengeance.

In keeping with the duties of a crew, Jones’s ensemble cast of actor-musicians are “all in this together”.  “Everyone does everything for a really live, complicit experience,” as Armesto puts it. They act, they move scenery, they sing rousing, haunting sea shanties, all the while evoking the dangers of the sea and the mystery and the wonder of whales.

Who needs water or the shape of a whaling ship when you can make do with plenty of floorboards, scaffolding, sheets, a raised platform and a crow’s nest.

Armesto has called his play “a ripping yarn, a great piece of theatre for all ages”. It has humour, especially in the first encounter of Ishmael and Tom Swales’s Queequeg; it has spectacle too, but it is primarily a psychological drama full of existential fear and isolation, more than a seafaring (mis)adventure, leading to the loss of momentum until the climactic clash of whaler and whale.

For all that talk of being “fun, fast and joyous”, you should not expect to have a whale of a time, but Armesto, Jones and a highly committed cast deliver a deep dive into Moby Dick.

Simple8 in Moby Dick, York Theatre Royal, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm and 7.30pm tomorrow. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk ***

How Unfortunate became good news for The Little Mermaid’s villainous Ursula, Robyn Grant and Shawna Hamic

Shawna Hamic, centre, in all her “octo-glory” as Ursula, the sea witch, in Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch. Picture: Pamela Raith

IN the wake of a ten-week London run and the York Pride celebrations, the musical parody Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch arrives at the Grand Opera House, York, next week with its queer queen tales of sex, sorcery and suckers.

Co-written and directed by Leeds-born Robyn Grant, who cut her teeth on the York musical theatre scene, this rude, riotous riposte to Walt Disney’s 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid revels in the lead performance of Broadway actress Shawna Hamic, playing opposite RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star River Medway’s Ariel.

Combining the “trademark filthy humour” of Grant and Daniel Foxx’s script with an original hot pop soundtrack, arrangements and orchestrations by Tim Gilvin, Unfortunate finds Disney diva Ursula giving her take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea.

Six Off West End Theatre Award nominations have come the way of Unfortunate.  “If you hate it, it’s all my fault,” jokes writer-director Robyn Grant of her 2019 creation.

“I began making my own work after training as an actor at East 15 Acting School, where I started exploring writing and directing and wrote my first show, Buzz: A Musical History of the Vibrator in my second year.”

She toured with her company Fat Rascal Theatre. “We brought small-scale musicals to York Theatre Royal Studio, including a gender-swap Beauty And The Beast,” she recalls. “We liked doing parodies and flipping things, and off the back of that, we started thinking about Ursula. Even though the film came out in 1989, she’s very much part of culture.

“You can still buy Ursula pyjamas at Primark, and she’s become a queer icon. She’s one of the only female Disney villains. She’s plus size, naughty and sexy and very unapologetic about it, but she didn’t have much screen time so we decided to fix that!”

Unfortunate writer-director Robyn Grant

Unfortunate first emerged at the Underbelly at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe. “I played Ursula in that version, starting out at an hour-long. We were astonished that the run  sold out pretty early on, with this recognisable character really catching on,” Robyn says.

Gradually, the show has expanded from a cast of five to ten for the Southwark Playhouse run and five-month tour, while the running time is now 70 minutes for the first half, 65 for the second. The set is bigger too.

“In terms of a model for how to grow a British musical theatre show, not everyone has a Cameron Mackintosh or the RSC to support them, so we’re incredibly proud to hit this scale.

“The Birmingham Hippodrome has been very supportive, and we’ve been very lucky to have a commercial producer, Runaway Entertainment, producer of 2:22 A Ghost Story, who’ve come on board along with lots of angels backing us, who’ll hopefully get their money back and more.”

To cast Ursula this time, “I think I saw every fantastic-sized woman in the world,” says Robyn. “I first met Shawna on Zoom.  She was fabulous, crawling all over the camera! She was filthy, funny, such a laugh. She was extraordinary.

“I immediately said, to my producers’ horror, ‘we need to bring this woman over from America’, but thankfully they said ‘yes’ and she’s been absolutely worth it.

“The show has massively grown, and the way it’s grown so huge means we’re about to release a cast album led by Shawna, available on all streaming platforms. We’ve had people seeing the show multiple times, following it around, and we now have a global audience, excited at the possibility of doing the show. We’re being asked to take it to America, where we’re in negotiation to go there over the next two years.”

“I work on it every night, always trying to find a better and different way of doing the comedy,” says Unfortunate star Shawna Hamic

You will note that Disney is not mentioned in the show title. “Because it’s a parody musical we’re protected by those laws, so we’re able to jab at how they present princesses, the role of women in their movies, the representation of women in relationships, especially in The Little Mermaid,” says Robyn, who had “the absolute most fun making this glorious monstrosity”.

In that role, New York City actress Shawna Hamic is enjoying her British travels – “everywhere I go is like a new home, so that’s exciting,” she says – on the back of her London stage debut.

“When the producers contacted my agents to see if I’d be willing to do it, because Ursula is one of my favourite animated characters I leapt at it. It took a couple of months to process the visa, which was dependant on government approval to say I had enough credits to justify me taking the role, rather than a British actor.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity. It was always something I’d wanted to do, thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be amazing for a show to bring me over’, rather than me just coming over.”

Shawna feels a “great responsibility” in playing Ursula. “That’s because of all the work that’s gone before, with Robyn, Daniel and Tim putting their heart and soul into it,” she says. “But I also want to put my own stamp on it. I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think I could bring something to it.

“It’s been fun, and maybe I’ve even surprised Robyn by saying ‘I know you wrote it and starred in it, but how about doing it this way?’. I work on it every night, always trying to find a better and different way of doing the comedy, because otherwise it becomes stagnant – and I don’t want.”

Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch, Grand Opera House, York, June 11 to 15, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Age guidance: 16+. Why? Contains strong language, partial nudity, scenes of a sexual nature and flashing lights.

Copyright of The Press, York.

REVIEW: An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday ****

Love lift us up where we belong: Georgia Lennon’s Paula Pokrifki and Luke Baker’s Zack Mayo

THE conversions keep coming. Hairspray. Shrek. Elf. Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. Billy Elliot. The Lion King. Legally Blonde. Heathers. The Bodyguard. Beetlejuice. Back To The Future.

Going back to find theatre’s future has become a well-worn path, one paved with gold for producers and venues alike as the conveyor belt from screen to stage musical threatens to turn into a traffic jam.

Already this year, the Grand Opera House has played host to the divinely sassy, soulful Sister Act The Musical and Pretty Woman The Musical, a cheesy, dated rom.com reboot with workmanlike Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance songs.

Back to the USA once more for An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical, a vastly more satisfying slice of American culture, driven by George Dyer’s superb orchestrations of Eighties’ pop bangers plus James Brown’s 1966 belter It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World (or This Is A Man’s Man’s Man’s World as it is re-named here for an assertive distaff rendition by the Port Townsend paper mill factory workers).

This Curve, Leicester touring production is stamped Made In Yorkshire as much as “product of the USA”. Director Nikolai Foster is a North Yorkshireman and lead actor Luke Baker was born in Leeds; both are on terrific form here.

As the press-night audience – dominated by women – settles into the dark, the voice of President Ronald Reagan evokes the 1982 setting from the off, making way for the roar of a jet as the new intake arrives at the United States Naval Aviation Training facility at Pensacola, Florida.

“This is not Top Gun,” said Baker in his interview. Indeed so. Not once will anyone be seen in a cockpit, the only sighting of a jet being the frame picked out in lights in the backdrop to Michael Taylor’s set.

Billed as a “timeless story of love, courage and redemption to make your heart soar and leave you breathless”, this show is an emotional rollercoaster rather than a thrill ride, darker too with its depiction of fatherly rejection, a mother’s suicide, factory ennui and mental turmoil, but yes, it is still romantic.

The 1982 screenwriter, Douglas Day Stewart, combines with Sharleen Cooper Cohen for a book that finds the ideal balance between male and female perspectives: the macho muscularity shielding vulnerability on one side; the bonding amid the monotonous hours for factory workers, such as Melanie Masson’s Esther Pokrifki and Wendi Harriott’s Aunt Bunny, on the other. In particular, the admirably singular focus of officer candidate Casey Segar (Olivia Foster-Browne).

Baker’s college graduate Zack Mayo arrives on his motorbike (the one engine we do hear), determined to make it through aviation school to elite jet training. He lost his mother at 12; his heavy-drinking navy dad (Tim Rogers’ Bryon Mayo) jettisoned any responsibility, but Zack has an outsider’s steely resolve to defy the odds. He clicks instantly with Esther’s daughter Paula  Pofrifki (Georgia Lennon),  a factory worker of Polish stock, determined to shake up her life.

In a parallel storyline, admiral’s son Sid Worley (Paul French) must deal with being burdened with his family name and his father’s unhidden preference for his late brother. Enter factory worker Lynette Pomeroy (Sinead Long in early Eighties’ Madonna’s wardrobe), ruthlessly looking for a good time.

Officer training runs in tandem with learning lessons in young love, the training in the charge of Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (the outstanding Jamal Kane Crawford), a gravel-voiced, tough taskmaster with a waspish tongue to go with his physically and mentally exhausting regime. The bright lights of TJ’s bar and neon-lit motel bedrooms offer relief from navy discipline and navel gazing.

From Taylor’s metallic,  industrial set design and Eighties’ costume designs to Joanna Goodwin’s intense, hot choreography and Foster’s exhilarating direction to superb performances by Baker, Lennon, Crawford, French, Long and Foster-Browne, An Officer And A Gentleman hits the heights.

Backed by Christopher Duffy’s band, the vocal performances relish Dyer’s revelatory arrangements, whether opening with In The Navy Now, bringing new resonance to Kids In America or mirroring Madonna in pink in Material Girl. None betters French, Lennon and Baker’s take on Family Man, not even (Love Lift Us) Up Where We Belong.

An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm, 7.30pm, Saturday. Box office: atgtickets.com/York

What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond, whether whales, walks or water. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 19, from Gazette & Herald

Guy Rhys’s Captain Ahab, centre, leads the whale hunt in Simple 8’s Moby Dick, on tour at York Theatre Royal

SEEKING a whale of a time? Head off to Moby Dick, open studios and musicals full of physical exercise, suggests Charles Hutchinson.

Touring play of the week: Simple8 in Moby Dick, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SEBASTIAN Armesto’s stage adaptation captures the romantic, ambiguous, richly allegorical spirit of Herman Melville’s novel for Simple8, specialists in creating worlds out of nothing in bold new plays that tackle big ideas with large casts.

Armed with sea shanties played live on stage, planks of wood, tattered sheets and a battered assortment of musical instruments, the ensemble of actors and actor-musicians, led by Guy Rhys’s whale-seeking Captain Ahab, brings Moby Dick ingeniously to life. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Wildlife and landscape artist Jonathan Pomroy: Opening his studio at 4
Pottergate, Gilling East, for North Yorkshire Open Studios

Art event of the week: North Yorkshire Open Studios 2024, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm

STRETCHING from the coast to the moors, dales and beyond, 169 artists and makers from North Yorkshire’s artistic community invite you to look inside their studios this weekend.

Among them will be Steve Page (Sheriff Hutton); Russell Hughes (Easingwold); Richard Gray (Easingwold); Justine Warner (Sheriff Hutton); Patrick Smith (Sheriff Hutton); Calum Balding (Thornton le Clay); Sue Walsh (Cawton); Jonathan Pomroy (Gilling East); Stephen Bird (Ampleforth); Mary Raynar (Helmsley); Ruth King (Boltby) and Marcus Jacka (Boltby). For full details, go to: nyos.org.uk. A full brochure is available.

Tim Pearce’s poster artwork for Life Forms In Motion at Blossom Street Gallery, York

York exhibition of the week: Life Forms In Motion, Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, until June 30

SIX Yorkshire artists give individual responses to the challenge of interpreting the motion of life forms in a range of static media. In a nutshell, time and space condensed into single, dynamic images.

Taking part are Tim Pearce, painting and sculpture; Cathy Denford, painting; Jo Ruth, printmaking; Adrienne French, painting; Mandy Long, ceramic sculpture, and Lesley Peatfield, photography. Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm; Sundays, 10am to 3pm.

Save our lido: Drip Drop Theatre in All Those On Board at Helmsley Arts Centre

Making a splash: Drip Drop Theatre in All Those On Board, Helmsley Arts Centre, tomorrow, 7.30pm

NORTH Yorkshire company Drip Drop Theatre presents the premiere of E C R Roberts’s new musical All Those On Board, wherein Bingham-by-the-Sea’s Save The Lido group members are determined to save the town’s long-closed 1930s’ swimming pool from demolition.

They need to come up with the funding before the deadline, no matter to what lengths they must go. Fifteen original songs, live instruments, leg-kicking choreography and colourful swimming hats combine in this lido-themed show for fans of upbeat musical theatre and outdoor swimming in whatever form. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Gary Stewart: Playing the Paul Simon songbook at Helmsley Arts Centre

Ryedale gig of the week: Gary Stewart, The Only Living Boy In (New) York: The Songs of Paul Simon, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday, 7.30pm

PERTHSHIRE-BORN singer, songwriter, folk musician and Hope & Social drummer Gary Stewart’s compositions are influenced by Sixties and Seventies’ folk artists. Chief among them is New Jersey’s Paul Simon, whose songs Easingwold-based Stewart grew up learning and performing.  

Here he interprets such Simon standouts as The Boxer, Mrs Robinson, Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, Kodachrome and Graceland. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Ryedale Primary Choir: Taking part in Across The Whinny Moor at St Peter’s Church, Norton, on Saturday

Ryedale Festival community event of the week: Across The Whinny Moor, St Peter’s Church, Norton, Saturday, 4pm

THE world premiere of the Community Song Cycle: Across The Whinny Moor follows the trail of North Yorkshire’s Lyke Wake Walk, meeting cheeky hobs, angry mermaids, resourceful giants and wise witches along the way. 

The all-age cast for a walk through stories and songs by John Barber and Hazel Gould includes the schoolchildren of the Ryedale Primary Choir, the Ryedale Voices, Harmonia and The RyeLarks choirs, Kirkbymoorside Town Junior Brass Band, storyteller Rosie Barrett and mezzo-soprano soloist Victoria Simmonds, conducted by Caius Lee. Box office: ryedalefestival.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/1173652657.

Mezzo-soprano Victoria Simmonds: Singing in Across The Whinny Moor

Tribute gig of the month: The Belgrave House Band presents Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Milton Rooms, Malton, June 16, 8pm

THE Belgrave House Band, specialists in reimagining classic albums, have visited Malton previously with their interpretations of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

Now they return with their take on Amy Winehouse’s second album, 2006’s Back To Black, joined by London vocalist Lydia Kotsirea and a full horn section, backing vocalists and rhythm section from the burgeoning Leeds jazz scene. York singer-songwriter Maggie Wakeling supports. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

The poster artwork for Calamity Jane, whip crackin’ its way to the Grand Opera House, York, next spring

Show announcement of the week: Carrie Hope Fletcher in Calamity Jane, Grand Opera House, York, April 29 to May 3 2025

IN the week when Nikolai Foster’s production of An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical is on tour at the Grand Opera House, the York theatre announces the booking of another show with the North Yorkshire director at the helm, this one bound for the West End.

Three-time WhatsOnStage Best Actress in a Musical winner Carrie Hope Fletcher will star in the whip-crackin’ musical as fearless Dakota gun-slinger Calamity Jane. “She is one of those roles that doesn’t come around all too often,” she says. “She’s action, romance and comedy all packed into one character, and I can’t wait to take on the challenge of filling her shoes.” Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Simple8’s “mercifully brief” Moby Dick for pandemic times sails into Theatre Royal

Driven by a vendetta: Guy Rhys’s Captain Ahab in Simple8’s Moby Dick. Picture: Manuel Harlan

MOBY Dick, Herman Melville’s leviathan tale of vengeful whaler versus great white whale, keeps returning to the Yorkshire stage.

Remember Slung Low’s The White Whale on water at Leeds Dock, the one with headphone sets for the audience, in September 2014?

Or John Godber and Nick Love’s version for the John Godber Company, the one with crates and bicycles, in the repurposed dock of Hull’s amphitheatre Stage@TheDock in June 2021?

Now, from Thursday to Saturday, York Theatre Royal plays host to Sebastian Armesto’s adaptation for Simple 8, the indoor one with sea shanties, planks of wood, tattered sheets and a battered assortment of musical instruments.

Why should you see this one? “It’s mercifully brief and means that if you haven’t read the novel you can watch our show and then pretend that you have,” says a droll Sebastian.

“Mercifully brief”? Two hours, including the interval, should you be wondering, as Royal & Derngate artistic director Jesse Jones’s ensemble cast of nine actor-musicians presents “a fun, fast and joyous production that transports you right to the heart of the hunt for the most famous whale on Earth”.

Mirroring whaling voyages, Jones’s ensemble must apply graft, not only conjuring ships, seas, storms and even whales from sparse means, but also playing and singing all the sea shanties live, in the Simple8 house style of “poor theatre” of multiple roles and minimal materials where “everyone does everything”.

Then add the task of taking the nautical indoors as Guy Rhys’s Captain Ahab and the Pequod crew seek vengeance on Moby Dick, the whale responsible for taking his leg.

Sea shanty singing in Simple8’s Moby Dick, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Manuel Harlan

“Not only the setting is a challenge, but so is the size of the novel the play is adapted from, the ‘ginormity’ of the beast, the scale of the drama, the sky, the sea, and then there are the massive themes of the novel,” says Sebastian.

“In taking it indoors, there’s an element within it that suits the forced imaginative leap, where the suspension of disbelief inherent in theatre is directly within the fabric of the novel too.

“In the book, there are chapters and chapters about what a whale is – its bulk, its history – so it’s a novel that’s trying to devise meaning for everything. The whaling industry. Ahab’s character. Whale behaviour.  The existential crisis.”

Sebastian continues: “The idea that you have to do it with nothing on stage sort of aligns with the novel’s struggle with itself. That’s my justification for not doing it in a dry dock, though I might enjoy that.

“I’ve seen a Norwegian production with puppets, a dance production, John Huston’s [1956] movie starring Gregory Peck and Orson Welles: whalers in pursuit of Moby Dick to their eventual demise, just as it will destroy you in pursuit of it. I’m sure it’s folly to try to adapt such books, but it’s also part of the pleasure.”

Sebastian reckons Melville’s novel is “one of those books that people would rather prefer they didn’t have to read, with its meandering passages”, but nevertheless he has a long association with Moby Dick.

“I adapted it a long time ago, previously completing an adaptation in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2013 that we first staged it, when I directed it,” he recalls.

“I was told that I did turn into Captain Ahab, obsessed with physical movement, to the detriment of everyone else, which doesn’t surprise me – and I apologise for that.”

Guy Rhys’s Captain Ahab, centre, leading his crew on the Pequod in Simple8’s Moby Dick. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Reviving his adaptation for Simple8’s tour, the script has changed, “as it inevitably will because it will never be complete,” he says. “Watching it fires me with more ideas and more things that I can do. This production and the text are evolving: the play is fluid, rather than solid.

“It’s been rewarding to go back to it. There are bits that I had forgotten, parts of the novel too, though in the end, there are things in the re-write that have not made it into the new version on stage for practical reasons.”

Significantly too, the existential fear and threat of the Covid 19 virus, its  enforced lockdowns and resulting isolation, have given new resonance to the psychological and psychiatric impact of an unknown threat in Moby Dick.

“I come back to the initial discussion about putting Moby Dick on stage, being forced to imagine, when even the characters in the book don’t see Moby until the last 15 pages,” says Sebastian.

“Mime is very important to this production, particularly the idea that the actors are collectively committing to something that is completely imaginary, so there’s a lot of very intense physical storytelling, emphasising how they are grappling with something that they don’t fully understand.

“Post-pandemic, everyone has been grappling with something they couldn’t see, didn’t understand and were contained and confined by. That sense of being pursued by an unseen threat, endangering your survival, is really clear post-Moby Dick, with its imprint on other stories, from Joseph Conrad’s novels to Jaws.”

Simple8, in association with the Royal & Derngate, Northampton, present Moby Dick, York Theatre Royal, June 6 to 8, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Sebastian Armesto: the back story

Sebastian Armesto: Actor, writer and director

Born: June 3 1982. Son of historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.

Education: Eton College.

Occupation: Film, television and theatre actor, writer and director.

Acted in high-profile theatre productions in Great Britain, including shows at National Theatre and Royal Court, London.

Writes and directs theatre with Simple 8 company.

Productions include directing and adapting Les Enfants du Paradis; co-writing and directing play based on William Hogarth’s The Four Stages Of Cruelty and new versions of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Moby Dick.

Influence on directing style: 1981 Ashes-winning cricket captain, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst Mike Brearley’s book The Art Of Captaincy: What Sport Teaches Us About Leadership.

Navigators Art & Performance teams up with York Festival of Ideas for Micklegate Art Trail and Auden night of words & music

The locations on Navigators Art & Performance’s Micklegate Art Trail for the York Festival of Ideas

YORK arts collective Navigators Art & Performance is making a double contribution to the York Festival of Ideas fortnight.

This morning marks the official launch of the Micklegate Art Trail, an innovative community engagement project, highlighted today by activities in participating venues from 11 am.

Running until June 23 at 10am to 4pm each day, the trail is a collaboration between shops, restaurants, artists, makers and community groups.

Tonight, Navigators Art & Performance turns the focus on York-poet  W H Auden at Museum Street Tavern, where York musicians, poets and performers will be gathering for An Exploration of W H Auden’s Poetry in Words, Music and Performance from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

“Wystan Hugh Auden was born in Bootham, York, in 1907. Informed by science and engineering, his fascination with the world and its workings was expressed in a myriad of poetic forms, earning him the title the Picasso of modern poetry,” says Navigators Art & Performance.

“As well as over 400 poems of both profundity and great wit, he wrote drama, es-says, libretti, travel writing and works of criticism: a range that reflects the multi-faceted nature of human life and his own aliveness to all of it.

“Openly gay and defiantly anti-establishment, he was controversial and influential in his views on politics, morals, love, and religion, and widely recognised as a leader of the British avant-garde at a time of cultural and creative flux in Europe.

The Micklegate Art Trail brochure

“His editor recognised him as ‘the first poet writing in English who felt at home in the 20th century. Auden died in Vienna in 1973. We hope you will make him feel at home in the 21st century too.”

In the words of W H Auden in 1927: “All genuine poetry is in a sense the formation of private spheres out of a public chaos.”

Tonight’s programme:

Introduction About York Trailblazers.

Hugh Bernays talk; Jealous Love (Auden, unpublished)

Auden’s Face (original)

Charlotte Shevchenko Knight: Night Mail (Auden)

Musée des Beaux Arts (Auden)

Ukrainian as In (original)

Richard Kitchen: O What Is That Sound (Auden)

Look, Stranger (Auden)

StreetLines:  extract 2 (original)

Anthony Vahni Capildeo (recorded material) Letters from Iceland (Auden)

Letters from Jorvik (original)

Janet Dean: 1st September 1939 (Auden)

England 2020 (original)

Three Dresses: My Mother Wonders

How I Felt About Her Death (original)

JT Welsch: Lullabye – duet with Janet Dean (Auden; guitar)

As I Walked Out One Evening (Auden; guitar).

Part Two, after 20-minute interval

Alan Gillott talk; Influence (original)

Carrieanne Vivianette: This Thing (original)

Performative interpretation of a poem by Auden (title to be revealed!)

JT Welsch: The Fall Of Rome (Auden; guitar)

Funeral Blues (Auden; guitar)

Elizabeth Chadwick Pywell: Poem XVII Auden)

If I Could Tell You (Auden)

Behold the Body Of The Moon (original)

Lower On Your Arms Reversed (original)

Richard Kitchen: Clerihews (various)

Jane Stockdale: Silent Lands (original; acapella)

If I Could Tell You (Auden; guitar)

As I Walked Out One Evening (Auden; Shruti box).

The poster artwork for The Basement Sessions #4

“The Festival of Ideas has a different theme every year and the great thing about it is that if you’re organising an event that might fit, you just contact the organisers and propose it,” says Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen.

“If they like your proposal, you’re in! We did that for the first time last year and it was an amazing success, particularly our sold-out performance event, which we hope will happen again this year.

“By demand, we’re hoping to repeat the Auden event in October, when the associated York Trailblazers sculpture project will be in place at various locations in York.” Watch this space for updates.

In addition, on June 8,Navigators Art & Performance’s The Basement Sessions #4 offers a night of music, spoken word and comedy at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse at 7pm with Percy, Amy Albright, Cai Moriarty, Danae, Suzy Bradley, Kane Bruce, Rose Drew and John Pease. 

For tickets and full festival details, visit: yorkfestivalofideas.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond as Pride comes out to play. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 23 for 2024, from The Press, York

Angels Of The North: Headlline drag act at York Pride today

PRIDE pageantry and wartime memoirs, open studios and open-air Status Quo lead off Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations.

Celebration of the week: York Pride, Knavesmire, York, today

NORTH Yorkshire’s biggest LGBT+ celebration opens with the Parade March for equality and human rights from Duncombe Place, outside York Minster, at 12 noon, processing through the city-centre streets, up Bishopthorpe Road to the festival’s Knavesmire site.

Pride events will be spread between the main stage, Queer Arts’ cabaret tent, Polymath’s dance tent and a funfair, complemented by a licensed bar and marketplace. Among the main stage acts will be headliners Angels Of The North, alias winner Ginger Johnson, Tomara Thomas and Michael Marouli, from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 5, plus Max George, Big Brovaz & Booty Luv, Jaymi Hensley, Janice D and Eric Spike.  Full details: yorkpride.org.uk.

Into the woods: George Stagnell as Dennis “Hank” Haydock in the short film In The Footsteps of Hank Haydock, premiered at Helmsley Arts Centre tonight

D-Day landmark of the week: Everwitch Theatre, Bomb Happy D-Day 80, In The Footsteps Of Hank Haydock (film premiere) and Sleep/Re-live/Wake Repeat (live performance), Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight, 7.30pm

TO commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Bomb Happy playwright Helena Fox has created two poignant, lyrical new works telling the stories of two Yorkshire Normandy veterans from conversations and interviews she held with them in 2016.

Featuring York actor George Stagnell, the short film In the Footsteps of Hank Haydock: A Walk In The Park was shot on location in the Duncombe Park woodland with its lyrical account of Coldstream Guardsman Dennis “Hank” Haydock’s experiences in his own words. In Sleep/Re-Live/Wake/Repeat, playwright Helena Fox and vocalist Natasha Jones bring to life the first-hand experiences of D-Day veteran Ken “Smudger” Smith and the lifelong impact of PTSD and sleep trauma through spoken word and a cappella vocals. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

York artist Adele Karmazyn: Taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios

Art event of the week: North Yorkshire Open Studios 2024, today and tomorrow, June 8 and 9, 10am to 5pm

STRETCHING from the coast to the moors, dales and beyond, 169 artists and makers from North Yorkshire’s artistic community invite you to look inside their studios over the next two weekends.

Taking part in and around York will be Robin Grover-Jacques, Adele Karmazyn, Anna Cook, Boxxhead, Simon Palmour, Duncan McEvoy, Evie Leach, Jane Atkin, Jane Dignum, Jen Dring, Parkington Hatter, Jo Walton, Kitty Pennybacker, Lu Mason, Robert Burton, Lincoln Lightfoot, Sharon McDonagh, Claire Castle, Rosie Bramley, Emma Welsh, Lesley Peatfield, Gonzalo Blanco and Freya Horsley. For full details, go to: nyos.org.uk. A full brochure is available.

Isobel Staton: Directing Cain and Abel for A Creation For York, today’s York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust promenade production

York community play of the week: York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust in A Creation For York, around Micklegate, York, today, from 2pm and 3.30pm

YORK Mystery Plays Supporters Trust stages a trilogy of 20-minute plays from the Creation cycle, directed by Katie Smith, Dan Norman and Isobel Staton under Dr Tom Straszewski’s mentorship.

The promenade procession starts with Smith’s The Creation Of Man at St Columba’s, Priory Street, at 2pm and 3.30pm, and progresses to Holy Trinity, Micklegate, for Norman’s The Fall Of Man at 3pm and 4.30pm, then onwards to St Martin’s Stained Glass Centre, Micklegate, for Staton’s Cain And Abel at 4pm and 5.30pm. Tickets: ympst.co.uk/creation.

The poster artwork for Navigators Art & Performance’s night of live music, spoken word and comedy, The Basement Sessions #4, at City Screen Picturehouse

Navigators Art & Performance at York Festival of Ideas (festival running from today until June 14)

YORK arts collective Navigators Art & Performance presents the Micklegate Art Trail, a collaboration between shops, restaurants, artists, makers and community groups, from today until June 23, 10am to 4pm, including a special exhibition at Blossom Street Gallery. Tomorrow is the “official” launch day with activities in participating venues from 11 am.

Tomorrow comes As I Walked Out One Evening, An Exploration of W H Auden’s Poetry in Words, Music and Performance with York musicians, poets and performers at Museum Street Tavern, York, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. On June 8, The Basement Sessions #4 offers a night of music, spoken word and comedy at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse at 7pm with Percy, Amy Albright, Cai Moriarty, Danae, Suzy Bradley, Kane Bruce, Rose Drew and John Pease. Tickets and full festival details: yorkfestivalofideas.com.

Rain or shine: Francis Rossi, left, leads veteran band Status Quo at Scarborough Open Air Theatre tomorrow

Coastal gig of the week: Status Quo, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Sunday, gates 6pm

DENIM rock legends Status Quo open the 2024 season at Scarborough Open Air Theatre, where they played previously in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Led as ever by founder Francis Rossi, who turned 75 on Wednesday, they must pick their set from 64 British hit singles, more than any other band. The support act will be The Alarm. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com/statusquo.

Georgia Lennon, as Paula Pofriki and Luke Baker as Zack Mayo in An Officer And A Gentleman, on tour at Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, June 4 to 8, 8pm, Tuesday, 7.30pm, Wednesday to Saturday, plus 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees

NORTH Yorkshireman Nikolai Foster directs Leeds-born actor Luke Baker as fearless young officer candidate Zack Mayor in the Curve, Leicester touring production of An Officer And A Gentleman.

Once an award-winning 1982 Taylor Hackford film, now Douglas Day Stewart’s story of love, courage and redemption comes re-booted with George Dyer’s musical theatre arrangements and orchestrations of pop bangers by Bon Jovi, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie and the signature song (Love Lift Us) Up Where We Belong. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Guy Rhys, centre, as Captain Ahab in Simple8’s Moby Dick, setting sail at York Theatre Royal next week

Touring play of the week: Simple8 in Moby Dick, York Theatre Royal, June 6 to 8, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SEBASTIAN Armesto’s stage adaptation captures the spirit of Herman Melville’s novel – romantic, ambiguous and rich with allegory – for Simple8, specialists in creating worlds out of nothing in bold new plays that tackle big ideas with large casts.

Armed with sea shanties played live on stage, planks of wood, tattered sheets and a battered assortment of musical instruments, the ensemble of actors and actor-musicians, led by Guy Rhys’s whale-seeking Captain Ahab, brings Moby Dick ingeniously to life. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

In Focus: Northern Silents presents G W Pabst’s film Diary Of A Lost Girl, starring Louise Brooks, at NCEM, York, June 11

“From the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening”: Louise Brooks’s

TRAILBLAZING New York raga pianist Utsav Lal will provide the live score for Diary Of A Lost Girl, a rarely shown gem of German silent cinema starring Louise Brooks, at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on June 11 at 7.30pm.

Premiered in Vienna, Austria, on September 12 1929, and now screened by Northern Silents, G W Pabst’s film traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening.

Directed with virtuoso flair by Pabst, Diary Of A Lost Girl (PG, 104 minutes) represents the final pairing of the Czechia-born Austrian filmmaker with American silent screen icon Louise Brooks, mere months after their first collaboration in the now-legendary Pandora’s Box, for which Brooks had arrived in Berlin on October 14 1928 to play alluring temptress Lulu.

In Diary Of A Lost Girl, she is pharmacist Robert Henning’s innocent daughter Thymian, who is traumatised by the suicide of housekeeper Elisabeth after her father expels her from the house.

Even more so when Henning’s assistant rapes Thymian. Pregnant, she refuses to marry her assailant, prompting her outraged father to sendher to a reformatory for “wayward women”, where a cruel regime prevails. Henning, meanwhile, makes advances towards new housekeeper, Meta, who insists Thymian should not be allowed to return home.

Thymian escapes with her friend Erika but discovers that her child has passed away. She joins Erika in working at a brothel, then marries a count, but can she ever escape her past?

Pianist Utsav Lal, noted for his innovative performances at Carnegie Hall, Southbank Centre and around the world, will improvise a unique live score at the 7.30pm screening.

Huddersfield-based Northern Silents will return to the NCEM with another fusion of new music and vintage film on October 15. Watch this space for more details.

Tickets for Diary Of A Lost Girl are on sale on 01904 658338 and at ncem.co.uk.

In Focus too: Anita Klein, 30 Years In York, exhibition launch at Pyramid Gallery, York, today at 12 noon

Poster artwork for Anita Klein’s 30 Years In York exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York

ARTIST Anita Klein will attend today’s opening of her Thirty Years In York exhibition of paintings, linocuts and etchings at Pyramid Gallery, York.

“Anita was one of the first artist printmakers to be shown here and has shown her work in York constantly since June 1994,” says Terry Brett, owner and curator of the gallery in Stonegate.

That first exhibition marked a dramatic change in both the look of the gallery and its fortunes under the new ownership of Terry, who took the keys to Pyramid Gallery on May 31 1994 with his then partner and wife Elaine.

“As soon as Elaine and I had taken over the gallery, I contacted the Greenwich Printmaking co-operative who ran a shop in Greenwich market,” Terry recalls. “They agreed to do a show and I collected work by 15 artists in my car.

“Several of those artists have supplied Pyramid Gallery regularly for 30 years. The first print that sold was a small drypoint print by Anita Klein, which I had put in the window one evening, before the show had opened.”

Terry continues: “Anita was not a big name in the art world in 1994, but she certainly had a following and has since had a very successful career as an artist with features on BBC Radio and national newspapers and magazines.

Pyramid Gallery curator Terry Brett with Anita Klein works and a copy of her 2022 book Out Of The Ordinary, charting her career since 1982

“‘From working with Anita and other former Greenwich artists, such as Mychael Barratt, Trevor Price and Louise Davies, I have come to realise that the relationship between artist and gallery is something that is really worth nurturing. I place great importance on visiting the South East London-based artists, personally collecting the work for each show.”

To mark the start of Terry Brett’s 30th year as a gallerist, Anita Klein is travelling up from London to attend today’s opening from 12 noon to 2pm, when she will sign copies of her 2022 book, Out Of The Ordinary, too.

Australian-born Anita began her career by studying painting on degree and post-graduate courses at the Slade School of Art, where she was influenced by Paula Rego, who encouraged her to “draw what she wanted to draw”.

In response, she started to capture scenes depicting ordinary moments of her own life. Given expert guidance at the school, she learnt to reproduce those sketches using the various techniques of printmaking.

She met her future husband and artist Nigel Swift at the Slade. From the outset, Anita’s artistic diary of her life has often featured amusing or romantic scenes of the two of them or sometimes only  ‘Nige’ in the throes of some activity that Anita has observed and captured in a sketch.

In 1984 she was awarded the Joseph Webb Memorial prize by the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers to spend the summer drawing from the Italian masters. Anita and Nigel stayed in a flat in Arezzo, Tuscany, and filled sketch books with sketches of Italian frescoes.

Casserole, linocut, by Anita Klein

Soon after, they married and had two children, Maia and Leia, Anita recording it all in many small prints using techniques that included woodcuts, etching, lithograph, aquatint and drypoint. When their daughters were small, she made small sketches while they were asleep and developed them into drypoint prints at a printmaking evening class.

For her first solo show in 1986, she had a year to prepare enough images to fill a gallery in London, which led her to simplify the way she worked. Fortunately for all her followers and collectors, the first show was successful and led to another solo show elsewhere.

Many years later, after she supplied her work to as many as 60 galleries, the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers elected Anita to the prestigious position as president. During those 38 years, her work and life has been profiled in national newspapers and magazines and on BBC Radio 4’s Home Truths, presented by John Peel.

In 2007, Anita and Nigel bought a flat in a medieval hilltop town in Tuscany. After painting large oils from her studio in London for many years, she started to paint in acrylics on canvas when staying in Italy.

By using acrylics, she was able to roll up the paintings and carry them back to London, which in turn enabled Pyramid Gallery to show a few of her paintings, along with a larger exhibition of the prints.

For Terry, the choice of Anita Klein to begin a year of anniversary celebratory shows, is apt. “My own family life corresponds quite closely with Anita’s in that I got married about the same time and had two daughters, Elinor and Suzy, just two years prior to the births of Maia and Leia,” he says.

Artist Anita Klein: 30 years of exhibiting at Pyramid Gallery, York

“I could relate to almost every image that Anita created about her family life. When I was helping my two daughters learn to drive, Anita produced a print that could easily have been about us. We even had a similar car. ‘Picking Maia and Leia up from School’ or ‘Driving to Ballet’ could also easily have been about my own family.”

When asked how she came to start documenting her own life, Anita says: “There was no plan to start with. Drawing my everyday life was at first a continuation of the kind of drawings I did as a child. And as I spent the first 20 or so years of my career bringing up my two children with no extra childcare help, it was really the only subject matter I knew.

“Looking back, I can see that I have always wanted to hold onto and celebrate the ordinary. The small repetitive joys that can so easily go unnoticed and unappreciated.”

 Knowing how fortunate he is still to be able to represent an eminent London artist with such a large following, Terry asked Anita: “What does Pyramid Gallery and York mean to you?”.

“Pyramid Gallery has been very good to me over the years, showing and selling my work from the very early days of my career while other galleries have come and gone,” she says. “At one point I had prints in over 60 galleries worldwide.

“These days I have cut this down substantially – the Internet and social media enables me to reach a wide audience, and Pyramid is one of only a small handful of galleries that has a large selection of my work.” 

Eating Pizza, linocut, by Anita Klein

Mounting this exhibition has enabled Terry to pause a while and “take a long look at the gallery more as a pleasurable activity than as a business”.

“Sometimes I can become a bit too focused on the sales figures and the marketing, but in recent weeks I’ve been looking forward to celebrating the landmark of having been nurturing the gallery for three decades, as if it were a part of me that I have to ease through challenges and crises,” he says.

“Pyramid Gallery has become a meeting point for those that need to create and those that need the joy of feeling moved or inspired. It really is more about people than it is about art.

“It gives me a glowing feeling of warmth that I am able to connect a great artist like Anita, who is a storyteller and recorder of social history and of human emotions, with those who visit the gallery for exactly the same experience that inspired the creation of the images.”

For Terry’s 30th anniversary show, Anita will be showing two or three acrylic paintings alongside coloured linocut prints and many black-and-white images of various sizes with a price range from £96 for a small etching up to £7,000 for a large painting.

Here Terry Brett puts questions to Anita Klein

Pyramid Gallery owner Terry Brett with works by Anita Klein

You first supplied Pyramid Gallery as part of a show by Greenwich Printmakers in 1994. How important was that co-operative to you and was it an easy decision to be part of that show?

“Greenwich Printmakers was a vital first step to exhibiting and selling my work, both through their gallery in Greenwich Market and through their ‘outside exhibitions’. Those exhibitions introduced my work to a number of regional galleries, including Pyramid.

“In the days before social media it was crucial to get your work seen as much as possible in galleries, so that first show was a great opportunity for me. 

In those days you were bringing up two small daughters and doing your art on the floor when they were napping. Many of your drypoints were quite small – was this by choice or a necessity?

“I did some painting when my children were small, but without a studio in the early days I was limited to small-scale work. I drew my drypoints while the children slept and printed them once a week at a printmaking evening class.” 

Do you enjoy being ‘dragged out’ of London to open a show in York?

“It’s wonderful to have exposure of my work in York, and it’s always a pleasure to visit such a fascinating and vibrant city.” 

When did you realise that other people would very quickly find parallels in their own lives and connect so easily with your work?

“It came as a surprise at first that other people saw themselves in my work. I thought my life was unique! Now I know that we are all much more alike than we think, especially in the most private parts of our lives.” 

Cold water wild swimming has become an important activity to you. Does the need for a new image in your art ever drive you to do find new places to swim?

“Not really. I can always make up the backgrounds! But I’m always on the lookout for beautiful places to swim, so just as with all other parts of my life this feeds into my work.”

June Flowers, linocut, by Anita Klein