SELBY Town Hall’s spring season will be its biggest ever with 27 live shows between February and the start of June, plus a trio of Edinburgh Fringe previews in July.
“There’s the usual mix of folk, Americana, stand-up, pop, rock, theatre and more with chart-toppers, cult indie royalty, a Grammy winner, the radio voice who guided my teenage pop dreams, a primetime impersonator tinkling the ivories and even a 13-piece orchestra,” says Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones.
“We had a good end to 2019 with a surprise listing in the Guardian as one of the UK’s best tiny venues and that seems to have spilled over into 2020 with strong early sales. It’s full steam ahead.”
The programme’s headline stars include punk princess, actor, television presenter and Top Ten hit maker Toyah with her stripped-back Acoustic, Up Close & Personal show on February 21; Mark Radcliffe: Loser?, a solo show of words and songs from the BBC6 Music and Radio 2 presenter, on April 2, and impersonator Alistair McGowan, in his new-found guise as a classical pianist, in The Piano Show on May 22.
Guitarist Gordon Giltrap’s re-scheduled date is confirmed for February 29; cult Eighties’ indie icon, John Peel favourite, Scouse maverick and The Mighty Wah! frontman Pete Wylie presents a duo show of hits and stories on March 14, and Dire Straits founding member David Knopfler, now plying his trade as a singer-songwriter, performs with Harry Bogdanovs on May 27.
On the comedy front, The Fast Show star turned bestselling author Arabella Weir plays the smallest date on her first ever stand-up tour, the confessional Does My Mum Loom Big In This?, on February 28; Paul Sinha, one-time Grand Opera House, York, pantomime villain, comic and quiz sensation from The Chase, performs Hazy Little Thing Called Love on March 21; and Jo Caulfield discusses unreasonable neighbours, call centres, snobby ghosts, prosecco drinkers, being married forever and rude children in Voodoo Doll on May 1.
BBC New Comedy Award winner, To Hull And Back sitcom writer and Hull native Lucy Beaumont spins surreal anecdotes about bubble wrap, boxing, boobs and believing in UFOs or not in Space Mam, her return to live stand-up after a four-year hiatus, on April 17.
“The season also includes one of the biggest successes from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, comedy duo Max & Ivan, on February 7,” says Chris. “Their show Commitment was named the fourth best comedy performance of 2019 by the Guardian and has just been listed as one of the comedy highlights of 2020 by The Times.
“There’ll be more laughs from BBC Radio 4 favourite Lucy Porter in Be Prepared, her show on how ‘life turned out to be slightly more complicated than Brown Owl let on’, on June 6; classically moulded British eccentric Tim FitzHIgham in Pittancer Of Selby on April 8, and Nineties’ comedy pin-up turned philosophical raconteur Rob Newman in Rob Newman’s Philosophy Show: Work In Progress on May 16.
“Rob will be trying out material for the next series of his award-winning BBC Radio 4 stand-up philosophy programme Total Eclipse Of Descartes.”
Jones always has a strong hand of American folk and roots music acts each season. “This spring is no different with performances from Grammy-winning Californian bluegrass icon Laurie Lewis and her band The Right Hands on May 21; singer-songwriters Bronwynne Brent and Rachel Baiman on March 6 and May 28 respectively and the sunshine melodies and harmonies of Illinois indie-Americana quintet The Way Down Wanderers on April 10,” he says.
Selby Town Council commemorates the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a concert in Selby Abbey by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band on May 9, preceded by Tim FitzHigham and Duncan Walsh Atkins’s Flanders & Swann show, At The Drop Of A Hippopotamus, on May 8 at Selby Town Hall.
The venue plays host to its first ever orchestral performance when a 13-piece ensemble from the Northern Chamber Orchestra plays on April 7, with cellist, baritone and actor Matthew Sharp as the host.
“As well as being our biggest ever programme of events, this spring season is also one of our most eclectic,” says Chris. “I’m particularly excited to welcome one of the most inventive and cool acts on the folk scene right now, Yorkston Thorne Khan, on March 20, when they promote their new album Navarasa: Nine Emotions.
“They mix an incredible array of sounds, from Scottish traditional to Indian classical, and are signed to the same label as Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand!
“We’re also delighted to open up the season on February 1 with a rare show for a great folk-rock supergroup, The Sandy Denny Project, brought together by Fotheringay MkII’s PJ Wright and The Poozies’ Sally Barker to celebrate one of Britain’s greatest ever singers.”
Further dates for the diary are Celtic band The Tannahill Weavers, with their ballads and lullabies on St Valentine’s Day, February 14, guitar duo Ezio on March 5; and Martin Turner: Ex Wishbone Ash, performing his former band’s 1971 album Pilgrimage in its entirety on March 28.
Reform Theatre present Midsommer, playwright David Greig and singer-songwriter Gordon McIntyre’s collaborative piece about two mid-30s, messed-up strangers – failing car salesman/poet Bob and divorce lawyer Helena – embarking on a lost weekend of debauchery, bridge-burning, car chases, wedding bust-ups, midnight trysts and hungover self-loathing, on April 25.
Edinburgh Fringe comedy previews with two comics each night will be held on July 11, 18 and 25, with tickets going on sale in the spring.
This season’s National Theatre Live screenings will be Cyrano de Bergerac, starring James McAvoy, on February 20, and Lucy Kirkwood’s bold new thriller The Welkin, starring Maxine Peake and Ria Zmitrowicz, on June 4.
“From comedy to rock, bluegrass to theatre, orchestral to music hall and much, much more, there’s a huge array to choose from at Selby Town Hall this spring season,” concludes Chris.
Tickets are on sale on 01757 708449, at selbytownhall.co.uk or in person from the town hall.