FROM Peter Pan mishaps to pantomime, rabbit obituaries to classic rock, prawn cocktail comedy to Eighties’ pop star nostalgia, Charles Hutchinson delights in all manner of arts events.
Theatrical calamity of the week…but in a good way: Mischief Theatre’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Leeds Grand Theatre, January 16 to 20, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Thursday and Saturday matinees
FROM the mayhem-makers of The Play That Goes Wrong and the BBC television series The Goes Wrong Show comes Mischief Theatre’s riotous spin on a timeless classic in the West End hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
As the hapless members of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society return to the stage, once more they must battle technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes as they strive to present J M Barrie’s awfully big adventure, but will they ever make it to Neverland? Box office: 0113 243 0808 or leedsheritagetheatres.com.
Book signing launch of the week: Bertt deBaldock’s Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, January 16, 4.30pm to 7pm
PYRAMID Gallery owner, curator and artist Terry Brett launches his latest collection of cartoon rabbit portrait tributes to celebrities and remarkable individuals who have passed away in the 108-page book Good Rabbits Gone Volume Three.
The cartoons are drawn by Bertt deBaldock (Terry’s alias) at the time of the individual’s death and assembled with Terry’s tributes or memories of the person in a volume covering September 2021 to December 2022. The book is free but donations are invited in aid of Refugee Action York.
Pantomime extra time: Pickering Musical Society in Aladdin, Kirk Theatre, Pickering, January 18 to 28, 7.15pm, except January 22; 2.15pm, January 20, 21, 27 and 28
PICKERING Musical Society has added two extra performances of Aladdin, now opening on January 18, rather than January 19, while a Sunday matinee on January 21 is a new addition too.
Director Luke Arnold’s cast includes Pickering panto favourites Marcus Burnside as Widow Twankey, Stephen Temple as simple son Wishee Washee, Danielle Long as principal boy Aladdin, Courtney Brown as principal girl Princess Lotus Blossom, Paula Paylor and Rachel Anderson as comedic double act Minnie Wong and Winnie Wong and John Brooks as the villainous Abanazar. Box office: 01751 474833 or thelittleboxoffice.com/kirktheatre.
New collaboration: The BJMC & Steve Coates Music Productions, One Night Of Classic Rock, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 20, 7.30pm
THE long-established BJMC (Bev Jones Music Company) is teaming up with new company Steve Coates Music Productions. Their first collaboration draws on Coates’s jukebox for a night of thunderous anthems from everyone’s favourite rock bands, such as AC/DC, Queen, Tina Turner, Status Quo, Eagles, Meat Loaf, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac.
Guitarist Mickey Moran combines leading a six-piece band with joining Annabel Van Griethuysen, Clare Meadley, Jack Storey-Hunter, Chris Hagyard and Ruth McNeill as the show’s lead singers. Box office for returns only: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
From Russia with love of comedy on Valentine’s Day: Olga Koch: Prawn Cocktail, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 14, 8pm
RUSSIAN-BORN Olga Koch turned 30, achieved a master’s degree, went on an adult gap year, suffered salmonella, lost herself, found herself and washed it all down with a delicious prawn cocktail. “Think less Eat Pray Love and more Shake Scream Cry,” she says, ahead of her return to Theatre@41 after previous visits with Homecoming in October 2021 and Just Friends in October 2022. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week: BC Camplight, presented by Please Please You & Brudenell Presents, The Crescent, York, March 15, 7.30pm
DOES a curse dictate that Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio cannot move forward without being knocked back? Or that the greatest material is born out of emotional trauma? While making his 2023 album, The Last Rotation Of Earth, Christinzio’s relationship with his fiancé crumbled after nine inseparable years.
This break-up amid long-term struggles with addiction and mental health led to an extraordinary album of heartbreak, “more cinematic, sophisticated and nuanced than anything” that New Jersey-born BC has done before. Hear the results in York. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Nostalgia on the horizon: Martin Kemp, The Ultimate Back To The 80’s DJ Set, York Barbican, March 29, doors, 7.30pm
SPANDAU Ballet bassist and EastEnders star Martin Kemp takes to the decks to spin “all the best of the hits” from the Eighties in an unstoppable singalong. Dig out your best Eighties’ attire, grab your dancing shoes and prepare to enjoy a night of pure Gold! Yes, fancy dress is encouraged, he advises.
“It’s amazing! People absolutely lose themselves, singing to every word,” Kemp told ITV’s Good Morning show. “It’s the most euphoric atmosphere I have ever been in, in my life!” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
New year, new album, new tour: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, April 4, 7.30pm
YORK singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich follows up Dirty Hit Records’ February 9 release of his fifth album, Some Things Break, with a nine-date spring tour that opens in Leeds.
First up is Ben’s new single, New York, a song that came from a writing session with labelmate Matty Healy, from The 1975. Healy asked his permission to perform it at a one-off show, opening for Phoebe Bridgers in 2021, and now comes Ben’s version. Box office: brudenellsocialclub.seetickets.com.
In Focus: Blue Light Theatre Company’s pantomime, Nithered!, Acomb Working Men’s Club, Acomb, January 18 to 26
BLUE Light Theatre Company’s tenth anniversary pantomime, Nithered!, is a frosty fairytale adventure by regular writer Perri Ann Barley to match the wintry weather in York.
Formed by Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff, they performed their debut pantomime in 2013. “It was supposed to be a ‘one-off’ production to raise funds for a colleague who had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease but was so successful that it’s still going to this day, and we’ve even branched out into performing plays too,” says Nithered! director Craig Barley.
“Since that first panto, more than £22,000 has been raised for our chosen charities: the Motor Neurone Disease Association (York) and York Against Cancer. Extra performances have been added over the years to accommodate more people, due to our shows’ ever-growing popularity, and there’s also a waiting list for people wanting to join the cast.
Acomb Working Men’s Club has housed the show since 2013. “It’s been our home for so long as they gave us the space for free for so many years, so we could maximise our charitable donations,” says Craig.
“We can seat 200 and offer use of the bar, meaning a relaxed performance which has received so much good feedback. New audience members are pleasantly surprised when they arrive and see the size, layout and the room all dressed up accordingly – putting them immediately at ease and into the panto spirit.”
All ten pantomimes have utilised the same production team: co-producers Perri and Craig, alongside choreographer Devon Wells and stage manager Dave Holiday. “Between us, so much has been achieved on the tiny stage at Acomb Working Men’s Club, from magic carpets to levitating witches!” says Craig.
The cast still consists of Yorkshire Ambulance staff along with other talented performers from in and around York.
“We like to do things a little differently, creating a brand-new storyline every year, among other things,” says Craig. “But at the same time adding some traditional elements, such as the Dame, played by Steven Clark, who writes additional script material too, and the villain, Glen Gears, who has been with the company since the very beginning. Both of them are very much audience favourites.”
Introducing the storyline in Nithered!, Craig says: “The usually bright and happy village has been shrouded in a permanent frost by the evil Snow Queen (played by Perri Ann Barley), who has enlisted the Big Bad Wolf’ (Glen Gears) to govern the land on her behalf and to keep the population down.
“Mother Goose (Brenda Riley) and the villagers are struggling to cope with the never-ending winter and, with the Wolf around, they are living in constant fear for their safety. Things take a dramatic turn when one of the Three Pigs (Simon Moore, Kevin Bowes, Kristian Barley) is kidnapped by the Wolf.”
Whereupon the villagers decide to take matters into their own hands and head out on a very risky rescue mission. They enlist the help of the Fairy Godmother (Steven Clark), who finds herself in a face-off with the Snow Queen herself, but who will prove to be the most powerful?
“Will the villagers overcome the Big Bad Wolf? Will the everlasting winter come to an end? To find out, come join us and step right into the weird but wonderful world of Nithered!,” says Craig.
The cast also features Richard Rogers, Linden Horwood, Julie Shrimpton, Nicky Moore, Pat Mortimer, Zoe Paylor, Chelsea Hutchinson, Kalayna Barley, Kathryn Donley and Harry Martin, plus new members Aileen Stables and Audra Bryan.
“With this being our tenth anniversary, the team have really gone all out to give the audience an amazing experience and cannot wait for everyone to see it.”
Looking ahead, this summer Blue Light will present Murder At Reptilian Park, a new comedy murder mystery by Perri Ann Barley, to be staged in conjunction with the Galtres Centre in Easingwold. “It will run there from June 20 to 22, including a Saturday matinee, bringing us a whole new audience and new challenges,” says Craig. Tickets will be on sale soon on 01347 822472 or at galtrescentre.org.uk.
“Perri masterfully crafts our unique pantos, giving audiences new and interesting storylines featuring some familiar characters, which take them away from some of the other tired classic panto stories to give our audiences an experience like no other, ” says Craig. “That’s why so many return year after year.
“Perri is now working with London Playwrights [a resource for emerging playwrights] as she branches out to try and make her passion for writing a career. Not only this, but she’s also in talks with another professional theatre in Yorkshire, but more about that later.”
Blue Light Theatre Company in Nithered!, Acomb Working Men’s Club, Front Street, Acomb, York, January 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26, 7.30pm; January 20, 1pm matinee. Tickets: £12 adults, £10 concessions, £8 children. Box office: 07933 329654 or bluelight-theatre.co.uk. All proceeds go to Motor Neurone Disease Association York and York Against Cancer.