Yorkshire’s Got Talent returns for second online event for Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s Raise The Roof appeal. Entrants sought

The City of York civic party and performers at last September’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent showcase at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

YORKSHIRE’S Got Talent is offering an open invitation for performers to take part in the online event’s second year.

The competition is the brainchild of Hannah Wakelam, Young Ambassador for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York, who organised last year’s contest across Yorkshire. Once more, the event will support the JoRo’s “Raise The Roof” fundraising appeal.

2022 entrants are invited to submit their audition tapes by Saturday, January 22 to be considered for the following round.  The ten most successful performers, as decided by a public vote, will be joined by three wildcards of the judges’ choosing.

Those judges will be three West End professional performers, Laura Pick and Nathan Lodge, from last year’s panel, joined by May Tether, fresh from appearing in the national tour of Heathers The Musical. 

Last year’s winner, Ed Atkin, was the headline act when the finalists’ held a showcase at the JoRo last September and has embarked on a course of vocational music study. 

Organiser Hannah Wakelam

Organiser Hannah says: “Last year’s competition was really popular and gave performers from all across our region the chance to compete for a £250 cash prize and to perform on the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s stage. 

“We had to wait a while until we were able to put the showcase on, because of Covid restrictions, but the finalists’ show was well worth the wait. The feedback from all the audience was amazing!  One of the highlights was when the performers had the chance to meet the City of York civic party backstage once the curtain had come down.”

To enter this year’s contest, send an audition tape to hannah.wakk@gmail.com  and make a minimum donation of £5 to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s Just Giving page via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ygt22. “Please add your name, age and a little bit about yourself,” requests Hannah.

Three further rounds of the competition will follow, each judged by Laura, Nathan and May. “For the final round, you will have the amazing opportunity of being mentored by one of the judges,” says Hannah. “Following the initial audition submission, each round will be based on a theme, to be announced at the beginning of each round.”

Dan Shrimpton, chair of the JoRo charity’s trustees, says: “What makes this competition exciting to us, being a hub for community theatre across the whole of the Yorkshire region, is that, as the competition gets better known, we can see what talent the wider region has to offer.”

The Judges

Laura Pick: Returnee judge

Laura Pick

Now playing Elphaba in Wicked in the West End.

Theatre: Dr Osgood and featured ensemble in Anyone Can Whistle (Union Theatre) and understudy for Maria in The Sound of Music (Regent’s Park).

Other work: Lead vocalist for Belinda King Creative Productions; So This is Christmas (UK tour) and chorus for The Songs Of My Life: An Evening With Peter Polycarpou (Garrick).

Training:  Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Originally hailing from Wakefield, Laura is looking forward to seeing all the new and fresh talent Yorkshire has to offer.

Nathan Lodge: Fellow returnee judge

Nathan Lodge

Vocal vocal captain on M/S Color Fantasy; Queen by Candlelight, the Monastery, Manchester; theatre roles in Aladdin (Brick Lane Music Hall); The World Of Musicals (China Tour); Equally: A New Musical (Cockpit Theatre); Christmas In New York (Palace Theatre, West End); The 8th Fold (Duchess Theatre, West End).

TV credits: The Paul O’Grady Show (ITV); The One Show (BBC)

Training: York College and Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

Originally from York.

May Tether: new judge for 2022

May Tether

In 2021, she understudied Veronica Sawyer and played the drama club drama queen in Heathers The Musical on tour. Played Lily/Elijah/Pip in John Godber Company’s Moby Dick, directed by John Godber at Stage@The Dock, Hull, in June.

Performed for York Stage Musicals for many years, appearing at the Grand Opera House in Hairspray, 9 To 5 The Musical, Legally Blonde and Sister Act. Also appeared as Jill in York Stage’s debut pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk, at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, in December 2020.

Training: Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

Originally from Goole, May is thrilled to be a judge in this year’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent.

Life and death, monologues and music in Big Ian’s The Missing Peace at the JoRo. Watch out for narrator Mark Addy too

The Missing Peace director Gemma McDonald and writer Ian Donaghy outside the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

NOBODY thought this morning when they turned the key in the door lock, “well, that’ll be the last time I’ll see you.”

So begins the book The Missing Peace: Creating A Life After Death, written by York musician, author, charity event organiser and motivational conference speaker Ian Donaghy, now adapted for the stage by Rowntree Players performer and York teacher Gemma McDonald and Big Ian himself.

Gemma could not help but imagine a book she loved so much transferring to the stage, and so she and Rowntree Players pantomime co-writer and director Howard Ella approached Ian with the idea.

“The Missing Peace lends itself beautifully to the stage and also allows an opportunity for actors of all ages to highlight their talents with heart-breaking and heart-warming monologues,” she says. “It’s a very different, original and powerful production.”

Billed as “One play…fifteen endings”, The Missing Peace will run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from January 27 to 29, after the first Covid lockdown ruled out its original run last April, since when half the cast has changed.

Graham Smith in rehearsal for The Missing Peace. Picture: Duncan Lomax

Thankfully, Mark Addy, York star of The Full Monty, Game Of Thrones and White House Farm, had recorded his part as the Station Announcer narrator, ahead of heading to New York last year to appear in the Broadway premiere of Martin McDonagh’s Hangman.

Taking part on stage will be Mandy Newby; Sarah Howlett; Mark McDonald; Gemma McDonald; Joseph Paul; Beth Hutchinson; Alison Taylor; Hannah Wood; Graham Smith; Liam Godfrey; Caitlin Banks; Maggie Smales and busker Pete Hyndman, who will weave all the monologues together.

Big Ian recalls the original reason for writing The Missing Peace. “So many friends were losing grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and even children and I realised people did not know how to help or support them,” he says.

“People would say things like, ‘Don’t call Paul…his Mum’s just died’. Surely that’s exactly why you should call or at least send a text to say you are there any time for him.

“Based on real-life stories, many of them from interviews conducted in York, the book was written to show how people can somehow survive losing the people they love the most and how they can support others – and don’t underestimate the impact of losing a family pet, either. Expect the unexpected. The shared experience of short stories of survival and monologues are there to spark the conversation and show that you are not alone.”

Mark Addy: Recorded narrator for The Missing Peace

Big Ian and Gemma cherry-picked 15 of the monologues. “We chose a mixture of length, style, with different messages for the audience to take away: some heart-breaking, some heart-warming and a couple, light-hearted,” he says.

“Gemma came up with a brilliant idea to set it in York railway station. From the start to the finish of the one-act play, it flows from one voice in a crowd to another. Mark’s narration and Pete performing original songs will glue the monologues together.”

Gemma says: “I read the book back in 2019 and found it encapsulating. I was engrossed in each story and went through a series of emotions while reading it. I realised I’d never thought about grieving in the way in which some of the monologues suggested and I felt that it really helped me to consider others’ perspectives and the different way people deal with death.”

The stories have “adapted easily” to the stage, she says. “I wanted to create the feeling that we are all in our own world and living our own lives and very rarely do we really look closely at others’ lives, especially in relation to life after death and the grieving process that we have all been through at some stage in our lives,” reflects Gemma.

Explaining the choice of monologues, Big Ian says: “We wanted to get a mix. It’s not a play about dying; it’s about living and celebrating life, so we chose the ones to best reflect that.

Mark McDonald and Gemma McDonald in the rehearsal room. Picture: Duncan Lomax

“The overarching theme is that we should be there for one another. We are all broken biscuits. We can either dwell on our cracks alone or make the best cheesecake in the world together.

“On stage, The Missing Peace is not so much a play as a patchwork of friendship and survival. Bring tissues but you will also laugh in places as humour can be found in the darkest of places.”

Donaghy’s writing, whether in The Missing Peace or his lockdown follow-up, A Pocketful Of Kindness, has drawn praise from Barnsley bard Ian McMillan; Emmerdale actor and regular tweeter Reece Dinsdale; York Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird, who loves the “northern heartbeat” in his his fellow North Easterner’s stories, and The League Of Gentlemen co-creator Mark Gatiis, who devoured the “wonderful and inspirational” book
in a night without going to bed.

“If you’ve lost someone and have felt alone – as many do – these ‘talking heads’ monologues look at loss from so many viewpoints to help you help you and others when grieving,” says Big Ian.

Mandy Newby, who will be performing one of the monologues in The Missing Peace. Picture: Duncan Lomax

“To have The Missing Peace go from page to stage is going to challenge people’s thinking and start conversations. On opening night, I will have a dream come true that I never realised I had. Writing has opened up some many new doors.”

Gemma adds: “I hope the audience will get an insight into the different ways people grieve and how to deal with certain situations. There are moments of sadness, laughter and reflection throughout, and the actors capture this beautifully.”

The pandemic toll has added even more resonance to The Missing Peace. “It was never the hope to make this play more and more relevant,” says Big Ian. “But during the pandemic, families have had loved ones vanish, not die. Gone without a goodbye. Gone without holding a hand. A story with the last pages ripped out, denied by a virus.”

What is the best piece of wisdom Big Ian has been given to deal with grief? “Be strong for no-one,” he says. “Do whatever you need to do at any point to get you through the hardest challenges life can throw at you. Remember that you are made of bits of the person you have lost.”

Beth Hutchinson rehearsing her monologue. Picture: Duncan Lomax

As rehearsals progress, he takes pride in Made In York running through the core of The Missing Peace. “It’s a big deal! It’s not the merry-go-round of same old plays. It’s not Fiddler On The  Roof or Annie. It isn’t a musical, though it features four original songs,” says Big Ian.

“Rarely will York be so well represented in a production: York actors; York production company; York set designers; York play written by a man who has made York his home about people who live in York.”

What might happen next to The Missing Peace? “I can’t say just yet but it is very exciting,” he promises. Watch this space.

Rowntree Players in The Missing Peace, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 27 to 29, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. All profits will be split between St Leonard’s Hospice and Bereaved Children Support York.

Copyright of The Press, York

We Will Rock You to play Grand Opera House, York, on futuristic Queen musical’s 20th anniversary tour next month

We Will Rock You: 20th anniversary tour visits Grand Opera House, York, next month. Picture: Johan Persson

WE Will Rock You’s 20th anniversary tour plays the Grand Opera House, York, from February 14 to 19 in week two of its 2022 tour, directed by the futuristic Queen musical’s writer, Ben Elton.

“I can hardly believe it’s been 20 years since We Will Rock You premiered in London, or that much of what we thought was science fiction in the script back then has turned into science fact,” says Elton, the Eighties’ godfather of political stand-up comedy, novelist and writer for stage and screen.

“I guess Queen were always ahead of the game! I’ve directed this show all over the world and I can’t wait to bring it home to the UK with a brand-new production and a fabulous cast of young Bohemians – Bohemians, most of whom were rocking in their cradles when this adventure first began.”

Since its 2002 premiere, more than 18 million theatregoers in 20-plus countries have seen the flamboyant musical hit that enjoyed 12 unbroken years at the Dominion Theatre, London, followed by multiple tours and a tenth anniversary world tour in 2013. This year’s seven-month British and Irish tour begins in Southsea, Portsmouth on February 7 before heading to York.

Powered by 24 Queen songs, We Will Rock You’s bold narrative is set in a distant, dystopian, globalised future where Earth is called Planet Mall and its inhabitants wear the same clothes, think the same thoughts and exist in a brain-dead haze.

In a system that bans musical instruments and composers, rock music is all but unknown, stirring a handful of rock rebels, the Bohemians, to fight against the all-powerful Global soft company and its boss, the Killer Queen.

Scaramouche and Galileo, two young outsiders who cannot come to terms with the bleak conformist reality, join the Bohemians to seek the unlimited power of freedom of thought, individuality and love and to set free the rebirth of rock.

“I guess Queen were always ahead of the game!” says We Will Rock You book writer Ben Elton. Picture: Trevor Leighton

Elton recalls how it became clear to him that the story needed an abstract quality “that reflected the feel of the word and music, rather than its literal content”. “This was not pop music, but rock music. Some of the most famous rock ever written, and legendary music should have a legendary context,” he says.

“I began to think of legends, both new and old, from King Arthur to The Terminator; heroic myths in which brave individuals take on the vast monolithic force of evil systems.”

The idea for We Will Rock You emerged from a meeting between Hollywood actor Robert De Niro and Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor in Venice in 1996.

De Niro’s daughter was a fan of the ubiquitous British band, prompting De Niro to ask if the rock legends had ever thought of creating a musical based on their songs.

May and Taylor subsequently became musical advisors to We Will Rock You but did have early reservations about staging such a show. “We were not initially convinced, not being fans of the ‘musical theatre’ genre on the whole,” says May. “The show needed to work in a theatrical context and retain the rock, while also incorporating the spectacle, uniqueness and humour embodied by Queen.”

Taylor concurs: “We [Queen] took the music seriously, but we never took ourselves seriously. We always had the ability to laugh at ourselves. Some of the stage gear and even some of the music is quite humorous. The whole middle section of Bohemian Rhapsody was. We did a lot of daft things and a lot of experimentation.”

Doing something new was important to May. “If we were going to go into this arena, the challenge was that we would somehow try and make it our own,” he says.

“The show needed to work in a theatrical context and retain the rock, while incorporating the spectacle, uniqueness and humour embodied by Queen,” says Brian May. Picture: Rankin

“There was a point where I realised there was a whole new area of creativity opening up to us if we wanted it – a whole new canvas to paint on”.

Cue the musical’s book, scripted by Elton. “He has such a great active mind that never ever stops churning out ideas,” says Taylor.

The resulting musical is fun, light and humorous but also contains softer and, at times, heart-rending moments that allow an audience to invest emotionally. “We Will Rock You is intriguing, challenging, achingly romantic, brutally cynical and at once both sad and hilarious,” says Elton.

Taylor agrees: “It’s silly, but funny and makes quite a lot of serious points while it goes on its rather daft course,” he says.

Echoing May’s determination to create something “new in every sense”, Taylor recalls the intention was “to keep it a bit gritty and make sure it’s not a typical show”.

Roll on 20 years when today’s focus on technological advancement leaves reading and the marriage of minds looking like outdated activities, prompting May to consider the musical’s significance in 2022. “I think it’s a very good comment on the way things are going,” he says.

“Ben’s idea that individuality is being eroded every second of the day and soon it will be impossible for people to write their own music, think their own thoughts, write their own poetry, is very perceptive.”

“It’s silly, but funny and makes quite a lot of serious points while it goes on its rather daft course ,” says Roger Taylor. Picture: Rankin

To May, “Radio Ga Ga represents the malady which is taking over the world. It’s almost like that old ‘men versus machines’ thing, which we also addressed a few albums ago,” he says.

We Will Rock You explores themes relevant to those growing up in today’s world, while the 2022 tour offers younger generations the chance to discover Queen’s back catalogue.

“I had this very strange thought that it’s quite possible that this particular musical might be the thing through which people know our music in 300 years’ time,” says May, who then reflects on Queen’s relevance, 52 years on from their formation in 1970. “I’m quite shocked at how fresh this stuff still sounds and it makes me very happy, obviously.”

May says audiences should expect “a stunning state-of-the art new-look production – but of course the original story is now more relevant than ever. We’re confident We Will Rock You fans will love revisiting the world’s first true ‘Rock Theatrical’, and a whole new generation will now discover the vibe!”

The tour cast will be led Ian McIntosh as Galileo and Elena Skye as Scaramouche, with Jenny O’Leary as Killer Queen, Adam Strong as Khashoggi, Michael Mckell as Buddy, Martina Ciabatti Mennell as Oz, David Michael Johnson as Brit.

The ensemble will include Laura Bird, Kate Leiper, Joanne Harper, Anna Davey, Edward Leigh, Spin, Karen Walker, David Muscat, Damien Walsh, Laura Ava-Scott, Victoria Collins, Joseph Connor, Louis Clarke-Clare and Jacob Fearey.

We Will Rock You rocks Grand Opera Hose, York, February 14 to 19;  Sheffield City Hall, August 29 to September 3. York tickets are on sale at 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond as something wickedly funny this way comes. List No. 64, courtesy of The Press, York

When shall we three meet again? When the hurlyburly’s done in The HandleBards’ Macbeth at York Theatre Royal

AS the pantomime season draws to a close, Charles Hutchinson turns his focus to new seasons and new reasons to venture out.

The skittish play: The HandleBards in Macbeth, York Theatre Royal, January 25, 7.30pm; January 26, 2pm and 7.30pm

THE HandleBards were the first professional company to play York Theatre Royal after Lockdown 3, lifting the long gloom with a ridiculously funny Romeo And Juliet. Now the three-pronged troupe opens the Spring! Season with an all-female, bewitching, unhinged, bicycle-powered, dead funny take on Macbeth, starring Kathryn Perkins, Natalie Simone and Jenny Smith.

Expect music, mayhem, murders, unusual applications of cycling paraphernalia and more costume changes “than you can Shake a spear at” in this irreverent, skittish romp through Shakespeare’s tragic “Scottish play”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Charles Court Opera in The Mikado, visiting Harrogate Royal Hall on Sunday. Picture: Bill Knight

Oh, Vienna: International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival’s New Year celebration, Harrogate Royal Hall, today and tomorrow, 7.30pm.

ENCHANTMENT awaits in the Magic Of Vienna New Year Gala Concert today when the National Festival Orchestra, conducted by Aidan Faughey, presents works by Johann Strauss, Mozart and Lehar. International opera stars James Cleverton and Rebecca Bottone will be the soloists.

Charles Court Opera’s London production of G&S’s The Mikado will be performed on Sunday night, accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra. Box office: 01422 323352 or at gsfestivals.co.uk.

One Iota: Debut album launch at the JoRo

York album launch of the month: One Iota, supported by Odin Dragonfly, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 21, 7.15pm

YORK band One Iota are launching their debut album, More Than You Take, recorded at the venerable Abbey Road studios, in London, and Fairview Studios, Willerby.

Adam Dawson, James Brown, Andy Bowen and Phil Everard’s alt-pop group grew out of their three-piece tribute to The Beatles – The Threetles, of course – when they acquired a taste for writing their own songs in lockdown.

One Iota’s debut live show promises a full line-up, featuring live string arrangements for the Fab Four-influenced songs marked by rich vocal harmonies, innovative melodies and “more hooks than a cloakroom”. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Jacob George: Soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto at the Academy of St Olave’s January concert

By George, he’s back: Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York, January 22, 8pm

THE Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert features Jacob George, son of musical director Alan George, as soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto. He returns to solo duty for the York chamber orchestra after performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in 2019.

The ASO’s first concert since last September’s sold-out resumption also includes two works inspired by Italy: Schubert’s Overture in the Italian Style, and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony No. 4. Box office: academyofstolaves.org.uk.

Nunkie Theatre Company’s artwork for the third instalment of their M R James Project, A Warning To The Curious

Ghosts at play: Nunkie Theatre Company in M R James’s A Warning To The Curious, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, January 28, 7.30pm

NUNKIE Theatre Company bring two of M R James’s eeriest and most entertaining ghost stories back to life in Robert Lloyd Parry’s candlelit one-man show. Lost Hearts, an early work, is constructed around one of his most memorable villains, the predatory scholar Mr Abney.

Lloyd Parry pairs it with perhaps James’s most poignant and personal story, inspired by his holidays in Aldeburgh: A Warning To The Curious’s account of a young archaeologist being haunted and hunted by the guardian of an ancient treasure. Has the English seaside ever looked so menacing? Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Yvette Stone’s life-size puppet of The Creature, as first seen in Blackeyed Theatre’s Frankenstein in 2016. The new tour visits Scarborough next month. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Monster smash: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

NICK Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel, wherein nothing can prepare Victor Frankenstein for what he creates in pursuit of the elixir of life.

Eliot Giuralarocca’s highly theatrical production combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature, in the life-size form of Yvonne Stone’s 6ft 4inch puppet, operated by up to three actors at once. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Four decades of topical songs and glamour: Fascinating Aida’s Liza Pulman, left, Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson. Picture: Johnny Boylan

Never tire of satire: Fascinating Aida, York Barbican, February 12, 7.30pm

DILLIE Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman’s latest Fascinating Aida tour show features old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard in the first place.

“But the songs are mostly topical and the glamour remains unstoppable,” say the satirists, who have been capturing the political and social fixations of our times for nigh on 40 years, from 1984’s Sweet FA to 2012’s Cheap Flights and beyond. All tickets remain valid from the postponed May 5 2021 date. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Marc Almond fronting The Loveless, headliners at late-October’s Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby

Looking ahead to Halloween: Marc Almond’s The Loveless, headlining the Saturday bill at Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival 2022, Whitby Pavilion, October 29

THE Loveless make their Tomorrow’s Ghosts debut with a headline set of their devilishly dark arts at Whitby Pavilion next Halloween.

In a project designed to take its constituent parts back to where they all began, Soft Cell singer Almond, Sigue Sigue Sputnik axeman Neal X, Iggy Pop’s touring rhythm section of Mat Hector and Ben Ellis and haunting Hammond organist James Beaumont “pledge themselves to the pulp appeal of garage rock in its rawest, most gripping guise”.

The Loveless draw material from Almond’s expansive back catalogue, Lou Reed and David Bowie’s canons, warped 1960s’ R&B staples and lost garage-rock gems. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/tomorrows-ghosts-festival.

Artist Stephen Todd in his Sheffield studio

Weekend opening: Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, today and tomorrow

NEW year, New Beginnings and a website “going live again at last” adds up to the start of 2022 for Ann Petherick’s gallery in her home at Kentmere House, York.

Among the works on show today and tomorrow from 11am to 5pm are Allotments In Autumn paintings by featured artist Stephen Todd, from Sheffield.

Kentmere House Gallery also will be open for the York Residents Residents’ Weekend on January 29 and 30, 11am to 6pm each day.

Meet the new dame, not the same but sort of the same as the old dame, as Covid unseats Berwick from Dick Turpin Rides Again. In steps Scotsman Alan McHugh

Covid curse strikes again: Positive tests for Dame Berwick Kaler and comic stooge Martin Barrass rule them out of Dick Turpin Rides Again. Picture: David Harrison

ONCE upon a pantomime season, the ubiquitous Covid curse of cancelled shows had somehow evaded Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House in York.

York Theatre Royal had to cancel invitations to Cinderella’s ball from December 23 for traditionally the busiest box-office week of the year before reopening on December 30.

Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Grand Theatre, Hull Truck Theatre and Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre all lost performances as Omicron turned chronic.

Not only Covid had played its unsanitised hand this winter. A leaking roof put a thankfully temporary dampener on Cinderella at Harrogate Theatre, and a performance of Bedknobs And Broomsticks at Leeds Grand was derailed by the flying bed’s unfortunate impact on electric cabling.

“The legend’s return” at 75 in Dick Turpin Rides Again had survived unscathed, however, as grand dame Berwick Kaler’s comeback with his longstanding partners in panto, Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and comparative whippersnapper AJ Powell, clocked in for performance after performance from December 11 to December 31.

Scottish actor, comedian and writer Alan McHugh as Dame Bella Buchan in Beauty And The Beast at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen. Now he is stepping into the Covid-convalescing Berwick Kaler’s big boots in York in the final week of Dick Turpin Rides Again

Happy New Year? New Year’s Day was a day off, but come January 2, “Covid-enforced absences within the company” led to the cancellation of that day’s 2pm show at only 20 minutes’ notice, with some panto punters already in their seats, and the 5pm performance had to follow suit.

“Guests affected by this change will be contacted by their point of purchase in the coming days with alternative options,” read the official announcement.

“We apologise for any disappointment or inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your continued support.”

By Monday, it became apparent those absentees were none other than Berwick Kaler – quel dammage – and his perennial comic sidekick, Martin Barrass, given that the man in the coarse wig and scruffy boots on stage was Scotsman Alan McHugh, in Kaler’s guise as Dotty Donut, and Barrass’s understudy, Jack Buchanan, had stepped up from the ensemble to bounce around as Dunkin Donut.

Glove, actually: Alan McHugh all dolled up as Dame Bella Buchan in Beauty And The Beast at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

McHugh had just finished pulling on his boots as Dame Bella Buchan in Beauty And The Beast, continuing his unbroken run as Qdos/Crossroads Pantomimes’ dame and writer at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen since 2004, albeit that Covid had brought a premature end to the show on December 24, when it should have run to January 2.

Now it was time to wear Kaler’s frocks instead. Kaler and Barrass, meanwhile, awaited their PCR results.

Tuesday was already in the diary as a rest day, before Dick Turpin Rides Again was due to climb back in the saddle with a relaxed performance on Wednesday evening. Would you believe it, now Jack Buchanan was not all right, Jack. He too had tested positive.

No relaxed show, but relax, Alan McHugh knew just the fellow Scot to step into Martin/Jack’s shoes: his very own sidekick in Beauty And The Beast, Paul-James Corrigan, who readers may know from his BBC role as Stevie in River City or recall from The Proclaimers’ musical, Sunshine On Leith, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Off to the Granite City went McHugh, returning with Corrigan by his side to complete a Scottish invasion of York. Forget ever having played Boabby this winter, now Corrigan had 12 hours to dip into Dunkin Donut’s lines for Thursday’s brace of shows, while retaining Boabby’s attire.

Not unreasonably, he was still on the book for the matinee, but by 7pm, whoosh, the fresh Donut was rising fully to a challenge: the latest makeshift triumph in a winter when theatre’s old adage that The Show Must Go On has never rung truer.

Understudies and swings have stepped out of the shadows across the nation, their importance to productions being newly appreciated, amid the extra rehearsals and revisions needed to ensure shows could continue.

That said, Omicron’s omnipresence had played havoc with Dick Turpin’s ensemble: originally six, and then there were three as the curtain rose on last night’s opening number. Jack Buchanan. Gone. Ben MacGillivray. Off.  Gabriella-Rose Marchant. Out.  

Paul-James Corrigan, left and Alan McHugh in a scene from Aberdeen Performing Arts’ pantomime, Beauty And The Beast, in Aberdeen. Their partnership has come to York’s rescue in Dick Turpin’s hour of need

“Life’s not a dress rehearsal,” chirped Emily Taylor, Jake Lindsay and Charleigh Scott, who later received a special round of applause for ploughing on through this strangest of experiences. Another day, another day in the theatre trenches, but who will still be beside you?

Enter Alan McHugh’s dame, part Berwick, in “script” and wardrobe and trim build, but part his own “man in a frock” too: botched lipstick; broken front teeth; cartoon skinny legs with protruding lumps; more Mother Shipton than Old Mother Riley.

There ain’t nothin’ like Berwick’s dame? Well, Aberdeen Alan not only looked the part, flung the Wagon Wheels with elan, bonded cheekily with the regulars and matched him in donning glasses for the shout-outs, he also made references aplenty to the absent Berwick and ad-libbed in a post-modern, knowing way.

Breaking down theatre’s fourth wall, he relished moments of direct address with his new audience, once correcting himself for saying “he” rather than “she” – “I’ll get the gender right by the weekend,” he quipped – and playing the outsider looking in as he commented on the absurdity of a York panto plot that by now had Powell dressed as a shrove of garlic from the Planet Garlictica.  

For all the limitations of Kaler’s half-baked script for the second half, McHugh’s oven-ready partnership with Corrigan clicked in new kitchen surroundings, especially when daft lad Corrigan forgot his line for the only time. Cue improvisation, sudden memory of the line, and a putdown from McHugh when that line turned out to be nothing special after the big build-up.

Paul-James Corrigan: Twelve hours to learn his lines

As York lore has it, the presence of a Scotsman at night – on the city walls – can be met with the firing of an arrow, but these two interloping Scots have ridden to the rescue of Dick Turpin. David Leonard led the cast and audience’s gratitude at the finale, and more applause will follow.

Kaler and Barrass’s PCR test results, when they eventually came through, were positive. McHugh and Corrigan were back in action this afternoon and will be filling in the Dotty and Dunkin Donut holes again tonight and tomorrow.

Barrass is definitely out for the rest of the run, but should Dame Berwick have negative lateral flow tests on Saturday and Sunday morning, might he yet make an appearance on Sunday? Watch this space.

Dick Turpin Rides Again, Grand Opera House, York, remaining performances: 7pm tonight; 2pm and 7pm, tomorrow; 1pm and 5pm, Sunday. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

UPDATE: 1pm, 8/1/2022

DAME Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass are both OUT for the rest of the run, still self-isolating. Scottish duo Alan McHugh and Paul-James Corrigan will continue to stand in.

DAME BERWICK KALER’S LAST WORDS ON DICK TURPIN RIDES AGAIN

Berwick Kaler: Sent letter in his absence from the stage on Sunday

UNABLE to perform the last week of shows after testing positive for Covid, despite feeling “not even a headache”, Berwick Kaler asked for a letter to be read out to the last evening’s audience on January 9. Alan McHugh, the Scottish actor, comedian and writer who stood in as Dame Dotty Donut, did the honours.

Dame Berwick wrote: “We are one of the few pantos in the country that have managed to complete their scheduled run. The show must go on. And thanks to this amazing cast, musicians, stage management, backstage crew and front-of-house staff, this panto has survived what nature has thrown at us.

“Having experienced no symptoms whatsoever, it has been devastating for me to be forced to isolate this past week. But on a personal note, this is the only thing Martin Barrass has ever given me.

“Alan McHugh has been an ardent follower of our rubbish for many years and I cannot praise him enough. Likewise – PJ [Barrass’s stand-in, Paul-James Corrigan], my love and admiration to you both.

“But it is to you, the most loyal and long-suffering audience, that I heap the most praise on. Thanks to your continued support over more years than we’d care to remember, we have laughed together as one huge extended family. You are part of our lives and here’s to a few more years of belly laughs at the Grand Opera House, York.”

A decision on who will perform next year’s Grand Opera House pantomime is yet to be announced by producers Crossroads Pantomimes.

Bird’s eye view on the Spring! season ahead at York Theatre Royal after panto success

The Bone Sparrow: Pilot Theatre’s world premiere at York Theatre Royal

AFTER the Summer Of Love, the Haunted Season and the pantomime revolution, York Theatre Royal has a Spring! in its step for 2022’s diary of new beginnings.

“Our strategy is not middle of the road with our programming,” says chief executive Tom Bird. “We are either being ambitious commercially or ambitious artistically.

“When we make new work, we want it to resonate with the times; we want it to be relevant to York audiences and we want it to be experimental. We used to do a lot of plays that were ‘in the middle’, but where we are now, even though we do them rather well, we can’t do Chekhov and Ibsen, because no-one came.

“But we’re going to do loads of new work over the year ahead and we have to balance it with commercial work, because we want to have a full theatre that is a community-engaged theatre.”

In a nutshell that means accommodating Pilot Theatre’s The Bone Sparrow, York Light Opera Company’s Evita, Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre’s As You Like It, Dancing On Ice winner Jake Quickenden and Darren Day in the 1980s’ musical Footloose and Mischief and Penn & Teller’s Magic Goes Wrong in one season.

“As a creative theatre, we’re co-producing – and hosting rehearsals for – York company Pilot Theatre’s tour of The Bone Sparrow; we’ll be doing a community play, yet to be named, probably indoors in the summer,” says Tom.

“We’ll also be doing something at Easter and something about Guy Fawkes in November, so there’s plenty of new work in the pipeline. We’ll also continue to make ‘micro-community’ shows, like the Love Bites nights that reopened the theatre [after Lockdown 3] in May.” Watch this space as more details emerge.

Directed by artistic director Esther Richardson, Pilot Theatre’s world premiere of award-winning Australian playwright S. Shakthidaran’s adaptation of Zana Fraillon’s novel The Bone Sparrow will open at York Theatre Royal from February 25 to March 5 before touring to fellow co-producing houses Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Mercury Theatre, Colchester and Derby Playhouse.

Fraillon’s story of a Rohingya refugee boy who has spent his entire life living in a detention centre in Australia forms the third liaison between Pilot and the four theatres, who formed a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences. 

“The way this consortium has worked is that, over a four-year period, each theatre takes its turn to make a show with Pilot. Derby Playhouse made Noughts & Crosses, Coventry made Crongton Knights,” says Tom.

“This time, we’re producing The Bone Sparrow in York. It’s a brilliant time to be doing this play, as it’s set in a refugee camp, when sections of the media and certain politicians try to demonise refugees. This play pushes back against that really powerfully.

“It’s also super-exciting that Arun Ghosh is doing the music and sound. Arun is an incredible Indian musician who I worked with on a show called Lions And Tigers, by Tanika Gupta, at Shakespeare’s Globe.”

Just as York Theatre Royal and pantomime partners Evolution Productions were determined to draw a wider, younger audience to Cinderella – and did so with 65 per cent visiting the Theatre Royal for the first time – so Tom is passionate about attracting young audiences to other shows too.

“It’s great to do work for this [teenage] age group with Pilot. We were worried because Crongton Knights was a tough sell, as it did feel its experiences specifically spoke to South London, but this latest show has really taken off,” he says.

“It seems to be a story that everyone is relating to, even thought it’s set in Australia, but then Australia is a good place to set such a story because the way Australia handles refugees and asylum seekers is a bleak vision of how it could be in our country.” 

Politics lies at the heart of another centrepiece of the season: Nottingham Playhouse, Northern Stage (Newcastle) and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s co-production of Red Ellen, on tour in York from May 24 to 28.

Caroline Bird’s new play tells the inspiring and epic story of Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson “who was forever on the right side of history, forever on the wrong side of life”.

Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen’s fight for a better world took in encounters with Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway; battling to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany; campaigning for Britain to aid the struggle against Franco’s Fascists in Spain; leading 200 petitioning workers on the Jarrow Crusade from Newcastle to London and serving in Churchill’s Cabinet – and she had affairs with Communist spies and government ministers alike.

“Caroline Bird, no relation, is an amazing new playwright, and this play is an absolute corker. It’s great to do that new work here, just as we were delighted to stage The Young’uns’ show The Ballad Of Johnny Longstaff in the autumn,” says Tom.

“A new play by a female playwright, on a large theatrical scale, doesn’t happen that often and definitely not often enough.

“I just wanted to give it a stage in Yorkshire because it was already going to be performed in Scotland, the North East and the Midlands: places it should be seen in, but otherwise it wouldn’t be coming to Yorkshire.”

On March 17 and 18, Oladipo Agboluaje’s Here’s What She Said To Me follows three generations of proud African women, connecting with each other across two continents, across time and space.

First staged at Sheffield Crucible Theatre, the play was conceived and directed by Mojisola Elufowoju, who cut her theatrical teeth while studying at York St John University. “Moji did a lot of work at the Theatre Royal and has now put together this incredible company [Utopia Theatre] to tell the story of what happened to these Ugandan women,” says Tom.

“We have to keep going with tackling diversity in theatre; we’ve changed from being aware of the need to be diverse to reflect our community to a position of having to take a lead on this, going beyond reflecting diversity in our community to be always representing the contemporary world on our stage, because York is changing faster than we realise.”

In Michele Lee’s Rice, on April 13 and 14, two women form a powerful if unlikely bond:  Nisha is  a headstrong hotshot Indian executive working for Australia’s largest producer of rice and Yvette, an older Chinese migrant, is the cleaner with entrepreneurial ambitions of her own.

“Actors Touring Company are continuing our strand of Chinese and Asian theatre, which is becoming important to us because the largest community in York, aside from the white community, is Chinese,” says Tom.

“We’re trying to develop more work to reflect the city’s demographic, like when we did a production of Strindberg’s Miss Julie set in Hong Kong. Over seven percent of the audience was Chinese/Asian, compared with one per cent normally.

“Matthew Zia is a brilliant directing talent and we’re really excited to be bringing this European premiere to York.”

York Light Opera Company follow up Oliver! and Grease with Andrew Loyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, the rags-to-riches story of Eva Person’s rise to First Lady of Argentina, from February 9 to 19.

“The last thing that would ever go from here would be shows like this, because work by York companies is so important to us,” says Tom. “It now fits in with Arts Council England’s new direction of travel, where it wants to encourage the chance for people to fulfil their creativity on our stage.”

Halifax company Northern Broadsides return to the Theatre Royal with their 30th anniversary production, Shakespeare’s sylvan comedy As You Like It, performed by a northern cast of 12 in the first visit to York under Laurence Sansom’s direction.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players as gender roles dissolve and assumptions are turned on their head in this celebration of the transformative power of love and the natural world.

“Laurie is a great appointment as artistic director, and As You Like It is really on the nose as a choice of play with all the focus on climate change right now,” says Tom.

Many more shows tumble out of the brochure: The HandleBards pedalling into York with their all-female, bicycle-powered, irreverent Macbeth on January 25 and 26; Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens’ tribute to Eric & Ern on February 1 and 2, and Treasure Island, La Navet Bete’s follow-up to Dracula: The Bloody Truth, on March 10 to 12.

Among further returnees are York’s drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, with Me And My Divas, a celebration of Mariah, Celine, Whitney, Aretha, Cher and Britney, on March 19; English Touring Opera on April 8 and 9 with Puccini’s La Boheme and Rimsky Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel and Show Stopper, The Improvised Musical, on April 23.

For full Spring! season details and tickets, go to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Box office: 01904 623568.

Copyright of The Press, York

Will Daniel Craig’s James Bond requiem feature in Two Big Egos In A Small Car’s review of the cultural year just gone?

Exit Daniel Craig’s 007

NO time like the present to discover no-nonsense arts podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson’s look back to the year of No Time To Die, Ralph Fiennes in York, Grayson Perry’s Pre-Therapy Years and Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights.

For shooting from the hip with a quip, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/9817663

Blackeyed Theatre to stage Nick Lane’s take on Frankenstein at Scarborough’s SJT

Yvette Stone’s puppet of The Creature for Blackeyed Theatre’s 2016 production of Frankenstein. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

NICK Lane’s adaptation of Frankenstein will be staged by Blackeyed Theatre at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre from February 9 to 12 as part of a national tour.

South Yorkshire playwright Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for the Bracknell touring company, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel set in Geneva in 1816, where Victor Frankenstein obsesses in the pursuit of nature’s secret, the elixir of life itself.

Alas, nothing can prepare him for what he creates, and so begins a gripping life-or-death adventure taking him to the ends of the Earth and beyond.

Blackeyed Theatre’s highly theatrical telling combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature. Designed and built by Warhorse and His Dark Materials alumna Yvonne Stone, the 6ft 4inch puppet is operated by up to three actors at any one time, adding a new dimension to the retelling of the Frankenstein story.

Playwright Nick Lane

Director Eliot Giuralarocca says: “For me, the beauty and excitement of theatre is that it’s live, unfolding in front of an audience as they watch, and the decision to make the creature a life-sized puppet – beautifully and painstakingly made by Yvonne Stone – seemed to fit perfectly with this approach.

“Frankenstein is obsessed with re-animating dead matter by finding the spark of creation, the ‘elixir of life’. We bring our creature to life theatrically, animating, manipulating and breathing life into the puppet right in front of the audience, and in doing so, I hope we present a lovely theatrical metaphor for the act of creation in the story itself and give audiences the chance to share in that creation.”

Victor Frankenstein will be played by Robert Bradley (Hedda Gabler, National Theatre, Joe Strummer Takes A Walk, Cervantes Theatre, Encounters With The Past, Hampton Court Palace). 

Max Gallagher (Brief Encounter, Watermill Newbury, War Horse, National Theatre, Richard III, Northern Broadsides) reprises the role of Henry Clerval, while Benedict Hastings(Wolf Hall, Royal Shakespeare Company, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Kenny Wax) plays Robert Walton.

“We bring our creature to life theatrically, animating, manipulating and breathing life into the puppet right in front of the audience, ” says Blackeyed Theatre director Eliot Giuralarocca. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Billy Irving (War Horse Tenth Anniversary Tour, National Theatre) is chief puppeteer and the voice of The Creature; Rose Bruford graduate Alice E Mayer makes her professional stage debut as Elizabeth Lavenza.

Writer Nick Lane, whose SJT winter production of Jack And The Beanstalk can be watched online until January 31 via sjt.uk.com, was associate director and literary manager at Hull Truck Theatre from 2006 to 2014.

Director Eliot Giuralarocca and puppetry creator and director Yvonne Stone are joined in the Blackeyed Theatre production team by composer Ron McAllister, musical director Ellie Verkerk, set designer Victoria Spearing, costume designer Anne Thomson and lighting designer Alan Valentine (whereas the 2016 production was lit by Charlotte McClelland).

Frankenstein is produced by Blackeyed Theatre in association with South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, with support from Arts Council England.

Performances in The Round at the SJT start at 7.30pm on February 9; 1.30pm and 7.30pm, February 10; 7.30pm, February 11, and 2.30pm and 7.30pm, February 12. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Blackeyed Theatre’s Bunraku-style puppetry for The Creature in Frankenstein. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

More Things To Do in York and beyond in 2022 as the icing man cometh. List of ingredients No. 63, courtesy of The Press

Car Park Panto’s cast dishes up a Horrible Christmas to Sunday’s drive-in audience at Elvington Airfield

AS U2 once sang, all is quiet on New Year’s Day, but Charles Hutchinson has his diary out to note down events for the months ahead.

Drive-in pantomime: Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas, Elvington Airfield, near York, tomorrow (Sunday,) 11am, 2pm and 5pm

BIRMINGHAM Stage Company’s Horrible Histories franchise teams up with Coalition Presents for Car Park Panto’s Horrible Christmas.

In writer-director Neal Foster’s adaptation of Terry Deary’s story, when Christmas comes under threat from a jolly man dressed in red, one young boy must save the day as a cast of eight sets off on a hair-raising adventure through the history of Christmas.

At this Covid-secure experience, children and adults can jump up and down in their car seats and make as much noise as they like, tuning in to the live show on stage and screen. Box office: carparkparty.com.

Shaparak Khorsandi: Revisiting her 1900s’ experiences in It Was The 90s! at Selby Town Hall

Looking back, but not nostalgically: Shaparak Khorsandi, It Was The 90s!, Selby Town Hall, January 22, 8pm

SHAPARAK Khorsandi, the Iranian-born British stand-up comedian and author formerly known as Shappi, tackles the celebrated but maligned 1990s in her new show, It Was The 90s!.

Back then, she flew around London with hope in her heart, a tenner in her pocket and spare knickers in her handbag. “But how does the decade of binge drinking and walks of shame look now without snakebite and black-tinted specs?” asks Shaparak, 48.

“This is a show about how we ’90s kids are looking to young people to learn how to take care of ourselves, because if you survived the car crash of being a ’90s kid, then surely Things Can Only Get Better.” Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.

Round The Horne as re-created by Apollo Stage Company at the Grand Opera House, York

Looking back, nostalgically: Round The Horne, Grand Opera House, York, January 27, 7.30pm

FROM the producers of The Goon Show and Hancock’s Half Hour tours comes another radio comedy classic, re-created live on stage by Apollo Stage Company.

Compiled and directed by Tim Astley from Barry Took and Marty Feldman’s scripts, this meticulous show takes a step back in time to the BBC’s Paris studios to re-play the recordings of the Sunday afternoon broadcasts of Kenneth Horne and his merry crew in mischievous mood.

Expect wordplay, camp caricatures and risqué innuendos, film spoofs and such favourite characters as Rambling Sid Rumpo, Charles and Fiona, J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock and Julia and Sandy. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.

Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical: Making its York debut at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in February

Heart or head choice: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical, Joseph Theatre Company, York, February 9 to 12, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

IN the coastal town of Folkestone, Arthur Kipps knows there is more to life than his demanding but unrewarding job as an apprentice draper.

When he suddenly inherits a fortune, Kipps is thrown into a world of upper-class soirées and strict rules of etiquette that he barely understands. Torn between the affections of the kind but proper Helen and childhood sweetheart Ann, Kipps must determine whether such a simple soul can find a place in high society.

Tickets for this fundraising show for the JoRo are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Giovanni Pernice: This is him in This Is Me after his Strictly Come Dancing triumph

Strictly winner comes dancing: Giovanni Pernice: This Is Me, York Barbican, March 9, 7.30pm

GLITTER ball still gleaming, Giovanni Pernice will take to the road on his rescheduled tour after winning Strictly Come Dancing as the professional partner to ground-breaking deaf EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis.

The Italian dance stallion will be joined by his cast of professional dancers for This Is Me, his homage to the music and dances that have inspired Pernice’s career, from a competition dancer to being a mainstay of the gushing BBC show.

“Expect all of your favourite Ballroom and Latin dances and more,” says Giovanni. Tickets remain valid from the original date of June 11 2020. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The Script: Returning to Scarborough Open Air Theatre in July

Off to the East Coast part one: The Script, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, July 14

IRISH rock band The Script topped the album charts for a sixth time in October with their greatest hits collection Tales From The Script, matching the feats of Arctic Monkeys, Pink Floyd and Radiohead.

Those songs can be heard live next summer when lead vocalist and keyboardist Danny O’Donoghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power return to Scarborough Open Air Theatre for the first time since June 2018.

Formed in Dublin in 2007, The Script have sold more than 30 million records, chalking up hits with We Cry, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, For The First Time, Hall Of Fame and Superheroes. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Jane McDonald: Leading the line-up at Yorkshire’s Platinum Jubilee Concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Off to the East Coast part two: Jane McDonald and special guests, Yorkshire’s Platinum Jubilee Concert, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 4

WAKEFIELD singing star Jane McDonald will top the bill at next summer’s Scarborough celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. A host of special guests will be added.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be headlining this very special concert, and where better to be holding such a brilliant event than in Yorkshire,” she says. “Everyone knows I’m a proud Yorkshire lass, so it will be so thrilling to walk on to stage in Scarborough for these celebrations.” Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Paul Hollywood will pour some sugar on Harrogate Convention Centre in October

The Great British Baker gets cooking: Paul Hollywood Live, Harrogate Convention Centre, October 23

GREAT British Bake Off judge, celebrity chef and cookbook author Paul Hollywood promises live demonstrations, baking tasks, sugar-coated secrets and special surprises in next autumn’s tour.

Visiting 18 cities and towns, including Harrogate (October 23) and Sheffield City Hall (November 1), Wallasey-born baker’s son Hollywood, 55, will work from a fully equipped on-stage kitchen, sharing his tricks of the trade. Tickets for a slice of Hollywood action are on sale at cuffeandtaylor.com.