More Things To Do in and around York as Shakespeare with afternoon tea awaits. List No.44, courtesy of The Press, York

The Magpies – in suitably black and white attire – host their music and arts festival at Sutton Park this weekend

MAGPIES and mermaids, Shakespeare’s wife and Scarborough romances, Boy George and a Bon Jovi tribute, Aretha & Patti and singer-songwriters at the quadruple are Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what to see.

Festival of the weekend: The Magpies Festival of Music & Arts, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, Saturday, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm

SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park, hosted by The Magpies’ trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon in support of Women’s Aid.

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys can be found headlining The Magpies Festival on Saturday

Confirmed for this weekend’s folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies themselves; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus.

Day tickets and camping tickets are available at themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.

Bon Jovi tribute act New Jovi, who play the Joseph Rowntree Theatre this weekend

Tribute gig of the weekend: New Jovi: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

LIVIN’ off Livin’ On A Prayer, tribute act New Jovi seek to “bring back the on-stage chemistry and formidable stage presence of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in what was arguably the New Jersey band’s greatest era”. Arguably? Definitely.

Presented by Pit Bull Productions, Saturday night’s “completely live” set accommodates Always, You Give Love A Bad Name, Runaway, Bad Medicine and many more besides. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Mad about the Boy? If so, join Culture Club on the coast at Scarborough on Saturday

Gig of the week outside York: Boy George & Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, doors open at 6pm

EIGHTIES’ icon/iconoclast Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside this weekend.

Bexleyheath-born frontman, fashion innovator and DJ George O’Dowd, who turned 60 on June 14, will be performing alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”.

Expect to hear such New Romantic favourites as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, fellow chart topper Karma Chameleon, Time (Clock Of The Heart) and Church Of The Poison Mind. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Josie Campbell in rehearsal for playing Anne Hathaway in Little Britches Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Will. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Where there’s a Will: Little Britches Theatre Company in Shakespeare’s Will, outside at Hearts of Ampleforth, Ampleforth, near Helmsley, Sunday, 2.30pm

NORTH Yorkshire duo Josie Campbell and Imogen Hope perform Vern Thiessen’s two-hander Shakespeare’s Will on Sunday, with afternoon tea thrown into the £15 ticket price for good measure.

In this one-hour, pop-up outdoor show about Anne Hathaway’s imagined life with, but mostly without, playwright William Shakespeare, teacher, theatre-maker, performer and erstwhile voiceover artist Josie plays Anne.

Theatre-maker, actor, musician and performing arts teacher Imogen takes the role of Actor-Musician. Tickets: from the café or on 01439 788166; cash only.

The Northern Edge Theatre Company cast and crew for Sam Milnes’s comedy drama Scarbados

Holiday romance of the weekend: Scarbados, Northern Edge Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 3pm and 8pm

WELCOME to writer-director Sam Milnes’s new one-act comedy drama about love, life, grief, hope and fish & chips.

Tragic and comic in equal measure, Scarbados tracks six locals and holidaymakers who all go to the same seaside bar, where their lives intertwine in ways no-one expects.

Will Sharon have the chance of motherhood she so desperately craves? Will Jen and Alex have their romantic weekend? Can Ian overcome his long-time challenges? Will Vicky find her man? Who is the sixth character? Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Gemma Sharp: Sea Storm In A Teacup’s writer, producer and performer

Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 3pm

A MERMAID is an amazing gift for a young adventurer, but what do you do when it just will not stop growing? So asks York company Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, a new one-hour play written, produced and performed by Gemma Sharp for ages three to seven.

Joining Sharp’s Merry on stage will be Gemma’s husband, Andy Curry, the show’s composer, lyricist and musician in the role of the Sea King, and Thalassa, a puppet made by Sharp.

Sharp’s story of a chance meeting, an act of kindness and an unusual present, leading a lonely young girl on the most unexpected journey to find friendship, promises an epic adventure of mystery, magic, and mermaids. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Patti Boulaye: Heading to Helmsley with her Aretha Franklin show

Two into one will go: Patti Boulaye, Aretha & Me, Helmsley Arts Centre, September 18, 8pm

SINGER, musical theatre star, New Faces winner and teacher Dr Patti Boualye OBE is resuming her Aretha & Me tour travels, as well as her visiting teaching fellow role at Middlesex University.

In her one-woman but two-women show, British-Nigerian Patti, 67, compares and contrasts her life with that of the late American queen of soul.

Patti, whose updated autobiography The Faith Of A Child is published by Kaleidoscope Publishing this week, will combine Aretha’s Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools and Think with her favourite songs. Box office: helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Dan Webster, left, Joshua Burnell and Edwina Hayes: Taking part in Pocklington Arts Centre’s singer-songwriter showcase next month

Four play: Dan Webster, Edwina Hayes, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham: Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Pocklington Arts Centre, September 23, 8pm

DAN Webster, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham, from York, are joined by Edwina Hayes, from the East Riding, for this all-Yorkshire bill.

Webster plays folk/Americana peppered with more than a dash of country, bluegrass and rock’n’roll; Burnell’s gigs take in stomping, acoustic singalongs, Bowie-style music-hall epics, alt.pop singles and traditional folk themes.

Gardham fuses pop, soul, blues and acoustic in her song-writing and has a belter of a voice equally at home in musical theatre; Irish-born Hayes crafts gentle folk-Americana songs. Box office: pocklingtonarts.co.uk or on 01759 301547.

All roads lead to Pocklington Arts Centre for York singer-songwriter Jess Gardham on September 23

REVIEW: Alexander Wright, Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism; Michael Lambourne, Black Shuck, at Theatre At The Mill

Alexander Wright: In a field of one in Stillington

Alexander Wright, Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism; Michael Lambourne, Black Shuck: How It Came For Me, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington

THEY take the trouble at The Mill to be innovative.

From deciding no-one was for tennis on a pot-holed court to building an outdoor theatre in its stead; from unicorn ice cream to fairy-lit gardens; from Saturday morning pop-up cafés to supper club nights; from the green shoots of SeedBed try-outs for emerging talent to works in full bloom by Alexander Wright, Phil Grainger, York theatre-makers Anna Soden (Strawberry Lion Theatre) and Gemma Curry (Hoglets Theatre) and music events with Jessa Liversidge and Gary Stewart.

The Wright stuff, getting it right, as parents Paul and Maggi and son and daughter Alex and Abbigail oversee an arts enterprise with community at its heart. Make that two communities, those who live around there and those who work in the arts. Food, soul food and food for thought at the former corn mill.

Your reviewer has long championed the theatre work of both Alexander Wright and Michael Lambourne, sometimes in tandem (The Tempest and The Great Gatsby) or in their own projects. Summer At The Mill has brought an opportunity to see them both in a new light: Alex giving his debut solo performance (with guests) and Michael hatching his storytelling debut.

Alex is a writer, director, actor, musician, visionary, facilitator but… “I’ve never really stood in front of people and performed my own stuff, on my own, for an extended period. So, now, I am…and I’m nervous about it,” he said beforehand, natty for the night in suit, trainers and trilby.

In his hand was a brown envelope, as Alex’s eyes invited immediate interaction. Yours truly took it, and no, checking the content, it wasn’t a bribe. Inside was a poem, Narcissus. Alex had found his first guest to read aloud, and so the informality and unpredictability of Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism had begun, the one certainty being that Alex’s words would not be on his lips alone.

He was in salesman’s mode too. Not snake oil, but those alchemical Wright words bound in a slim volume,  Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism: a collection of poems and stories “put together for a gig I decided to do of my own writing in a theatre I built in my own garden”, with a title coined by Eurydice actor-musician Casey Jay Andrews.

“I’d like to be clear that no-one asked me to print this book, but it is cheaper to print £100’s worth and I have been unemployed for 18 months,” he said.

Unemployed? Building a theatre, writing, presenting and performing shows, more writing, organising Summer At The Mill, more writing. You know what they say, if you need something doing, always ask someone who’s busy.

So busy, in fact, that Alex had memorised only one piece, from his play The Gods The Gods The Gods; the rest of the two sets he would perform with book in hand: an excellent way to advertise its availability. Oh, did Alex tell you, he has a book for sale? Just checking.

Pink stickers marked the poems, short, very short and much longer, that Alex had picked out for the night, three written to his partner, Megan, to close the chasm of her being on the other side of the world in Australia.

“Stop taking notes, Charles,” he pleaded, but the memorable imagery kept coming: “Kissing snowflakes off each other”; “hand-me-down days, secondhand nights”.

Alex is wont to deflect attention from himself, often happy to play the ringmaster with acts to parade.  “I’m not that interested in poetry nights, if I’m honest”, he said, as he invited singer-songwriter Tom Figgins to reveal the fruits of the dormant songwriting gift he had resumed in lockdown for the first time since 2017. Beautiful, Tom, beautiful. He had arrived at 6.30pm, and already Alex had asked him to do the sound. That’s how these At The Mill shows work: off the cuff; heart on the sleeve; go with the flow. Just say ‘Yes’.

Abbigail, marketeer, baker, mother, puppet maker, pop-up café queen, had her party-piece cameo moment too, splitting an apple clean in two by applying just the right pressure. Pip pip.

“Logic and probability would suggest that someone here can play piano,” chanced Alex, knowing full well that childhood friend Jim Harbourne would oblige, already on site at the Mill for a week’s rehearsals to reactivate Beulah with fellow musician and composer Ed Wrenn for the first time in six years.

Alex went on to play drums, piano and guitar himself, but all the while, the words were to the fore, some from 2010/2011, “but most things are new – and I don’t mean that philosophically,” he said.

The interval brought a chance, you guessed it, to buy the book at the bar before a second half where Alex removed jacket and hat and informality reigned again. “**** knows why you get married in English and divorced in Latin,” he observed wryly.

His old school drama teacher joined him on stage; Harbourne and Wren reawakened two wonders from Beulah, Coffee In The Morning and Humans Fly; Abbigail was called on for another solo, this time vaulting a gate at the field’s edge, and no show would be complete without the Phil Grainger & Alex Wright double act.

On this occasion, Alex had written a poem for Megan, Phil, a song for his Aussie girlfriend Angie, and now they became one as Home, with Phil having learnt his closing guitar part on holiday in Cornwall. Alex sat cross-legged for the first time since primary school; crossed fingers might have been more apt, but they never freeze at a challenge, and one of the high points ensued, Damien Rice song references and all.

This night might never be repeated, but that’s the point. Words age on the page but they have their stage, their moment, as they come alive in unpredictable fashion when performed by Wright, his guest performers or audience volunteers. Writing can be solitary, lonely, but Wright writes to communicate with others for their joy, their sharing; their response in the moment. Narcissistic? Absolutely not! Plugging the book again one more time? Of course.

Michael Lambourne: Actor, writer and now storyteller

Wright had talked of pre-show nerves ahead of Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism. Michael Lambourne, on the other hand, radiates supreme confidence on stage, with a voice to set off earthquakes and the presence to draw you to him like a magnet.

He once played Prospero among the trees at Stillington Mill, but would joke in his York theatre days of his propensity to be cast in anthropomorphic roles. Animal magic, as it would always turn out.

Taking up Alex’s “call to arms” to test-drive a new piece at Theatre At The Mill, Michael headed north from the Cambridgeshire Fens with the ink barely dry on a ghost story based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia: a hound of unnatural size and omen of misfortune to those who encounter its stare.

And yes, he did play the hell hound, or rather he elicited its terrifying growl terrifically terrifyingly, because Michael was in “responsive storytelling experience” mode: a new venture for him and one that surely will be repeated.

He has lit the fire beneath the words of many others; likewise, others have performed his words, but for the first time, here he was giving breath to his own writing, to the manner born, in Black Shuck: How It Came For Me.

Like Alex’s show, Michael began with an air of informality, after a delightful set of transformative Scottish myths of travellers, selkies and winter and summer queens by former York Theatre Royal creative associate Shona Cowie.

In waistcoat and trilby, he explained why he wore his grandfather’s watch, despite it telling the correct time only twice a day, and how he had re-discovered his book of The World Of The Unknown Ghosts, with its scary picture of one-eyed black dog.

That image accompanied the tale of Black Shuck, “a story about the place I’m from”, one that Lowestoft lads The Darkness had highlighted on their debut album with the chorus “Black Shuck, Black Shuck, That dog don’t give a…”. You can fill in the rest.

“To be honest, I hope you don’t enjoy it,” said Michael, pulling the strings of an already rapt audience. He can rhyme with Ian Dury rhythm, spin a yarn with silken imagery, born of the “pancake-flat fields of the Fens”, and he is not averse to a political jibe. “Just like a lie on the side of a bus,” he observed.

Michael has never looked Black Shuck in the red eye, but his choice of Fenland folk tale and its portent of exit stage left or imminent change chimed with his own fate: his diagnosis at 40 with lymphoma, the blood cancer.

“My disease was a game but I couldn’t choose if I’d win or I’d lose…when Black Shuck found me,” he said at the finale. He is now in remission, back on stage, opening a new chapter rather than nearing The End. Long may Michael tell stories and have stories to tell in the voice with boom, not the voice of doom.

More Things To Do in and around York as deathly silence is broken at libraries. List No. 43, courtesy of The Press, York

James Lewis Knight, left, as Jimmy and Matt Stradling as James in Next Door But One’s library tour of Operation Hummingbird in York

GO forth and multiply the chance to see the summer spurt of theatre, musicals and outdoor shows, urges Charles Hutchinson, who also highlights big gig news for autumn and March 2022.

Breaking the library hush: Next Door But One in Operation Hummingbird, in York, today and August 12

YORK community arts collective Next Door But One are teaming up with Explore York for a library tour of Matt Harper-Harcastle’s 45-minute play Operation Hummingbird.

James Lewis Knight plays Jimmy and Matt Stradling, James, in a one-act two-hander that takes the form of a conversation across the decades about a sudden family death, realising an opportunity that we all wish we could do at some point in our life: to go back and talk to our younger self.

Today’s Covid-safe performances are at 3.30pm at New Earswick Folk Hall and 7pm, Dringhouses Library; August 12, York Explore, 2pm, and Hungate Reading Café, 7pm. Box office: nextdoorbutone.co.uk.

Exit-kitchen-sink drama: Ashley Hope Allan as bored Liverpool housewife Shirley, planning a holiday to Greece in Esk Valley Theatre’s production of Shirley Valentine. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Play launch of the week outside York: Esk Valley Theatre in Shirley Valentine, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, near Whitby, tonight until August 28

ESK Valley Theatre complete a hattrick of Willy Russell plays with Shirley Valentine from tonight, under the direction of artistic director Mark Stratton as usual.

In Russell’s one-woman show, Coronation Street star Ashley Hope Allan plays middle-aged, bored Liverpool housewife Shirley in a story of self-discovery as she takes a holiday to Greece with a friend, who promptly abandons her for a holiday romance. Left alone, Shirley meets charming taverna owner Costas. Box office: 01947 897587 or at eskvalleytheatre.co.uk.

It’s here at last! Heathers The Musical opens its delayed tour at Leeds Grand Theatre tonight. Picture: Pamela Raith

Musical of the week outside Leeds, Heathers The Musical, Leeds Grand Theatre, tonight until August 14

HEATHERS The Musical launches its touring production in Leeds from tonight with choreography by Gary Lloyd, who choreographed the debut York Stage pantomime last Christmas.

Produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills and directed by American screen and stage director Andy Fickman, this high-octane, dark-humoured rock musical is based on the Winona Ryder and Christian Slater cult teen movie.

The premise: Westerberg High pupil Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes) is just another nobody dreaming of a better day, until she joins the impossibly cruel Heathers, whereupon mysterious teen rebel JD (Simon Gordon) teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.co.uk.

Round To Low Horcum, by Sue Slack, one of the 33 artists and makers taking part in Ryedale Open Studios

Art event of the week: Ryedale Open Studios, Saturday and Sunday and next weekend, 10am to 5pm each day

THE newly formed Vault Arts Centre community interest company, in Kirkbymoorside, is coordinating this inaugural Ryedale Open Studios event, celebrating the creativity and artistic talent of Ryedale and the North York Moors.

Artists, makers and creators will be offering both an exclusive glimpse into their workplaces and the opportunity to buy art works directly. Full details of all 33 artists can be found at ryedaleopenstudios.com; a downloadable map at ryedaleopenstudios.com/map.

Serena Manteghi: Performing in Eurydice at Theatre At The Mill this weekend

Hit and myth show of the week: Eurydice, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, Saturday and Sunday, 7.30pm

THIS weekend, Serena Manteghi returns to the play she helped to create with writer Alexander Wright, composer Phil Grainger and fellow performer Casey Jane Andrews with Fringe award-winning success in Australia in 2019.

Manteghi, a tour de force in the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Build A Rocket, will be joined by Grainger for the tale about being a daily superhero and not giving in to the stories we tell ourselves.

Woven from spoken word and soaring live music, Eurydice is the stand-alone sister show to Orpheus; her untold story imagined and reimagined for the modern-day and told from her perspective. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/.

Kaiser Chiefs: Yorkshire anthems galore at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on Sunday

Yorkshire gig of the week outside York: Kaiser Chiefs, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Sunday, gates open at 6pm

LEEDS lads Kaiser Chiefs promise a “no-holds-barred rock’n’roll celebration” on their much-requested return to Scarborough OAT after their May 27 2017 debut.

“We cannot wait to get back to playing live shows again and it will be great to return to this stunning Yorkshire venue,” says frontman Ricky Wilson. “We had a cracking night there in 2017, so roll on August 8!”

Expect a Sunday night of such Yorkshire anthems as Oh My God, I Predict A Riot, Everyday I Love You Less And Less, Ruby, Never Miss A Beat and Hole In My Soul. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Simon Amstell’s hippy-chic poster for his autumn tour show, Spirit Hole, visiting York, Sheffield and Leeds in the autumn

Comedy gig announcement of the week: Simon Amstell, Spirit Hole, Grand Opera House, York, September 25, 8pm

INTROSPECTIVE, abjectly honest comedian Simon Amstell will play the Grand Opera House, York, for the first time since 2012 on his 38-date Spirit Hole autumn tour.

Agent provocateur Amstell, 41, will deliver a “blissful, spiritual, sensational exploration of love, sex, shame mushrooms and more” on a tour with further Yorkshire gigs at The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 12 and Leeds Town Hall on October 1.

York tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/; York, Sheffield and Leeds at ticketmaster.com.

Look sharp! Tickets are on sale for Joe Jackson’s second-ever York concert…next March

York gig announcement of the week: Joe Jackson, York Barbican, March 17 2022

JOE Jackson will play York for only the second time in his 43-year career on his Sing, You Sinners! tour next year.

Jackson, who turns 67 on August 11, will perform both solo and with a band at York Barbican in the only Yorkshire show of his 29-date British and European tour, promising hits and new material.

“We’ve been dealing with two viruses over the past two years, and the worst – the one we really need to put behind us – is Fear,” he says. “Love is the opposite of fear, so if you love live music, come out and support it!” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York as corny summer panto ride arrives at a maze. List No. 42, courtesy of The Press, York

Detective at work: Sir David Suchet will dig up his past at York Theatre Royal in October

SUMMER panto in a maze, David Suchet on Poirot, Yorkshire Day celebrations, a SeedBed of new ideas, riverside art, a cancer charity fundraiser and comedy at the double catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye.

New signing of the week: David Suchet, Poirot And More – A Retrospective, York Theatre Royal, October 13, 3pm and 8pm

SIR David Suchet retraces his steps as a young actor in his 20-theatre tour of Poirot And More, A Retrospective, where he looks back fondly at his five-decade career, shedding a new, intimate light on his most beloved performances.

Geoffrey Wansell, journalist, broadcaster, biographer and co-author of Poirot And Me, interviews the actor behind the detective and the many characters Suchet has portrayed on stage and screen. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Joshing around: After York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime last Christmas, now Josh Benson s magic beans have created the new Crowmania Ride summer panto at York Maze

Summer pantomime on wheels? Yes, on York Maze’s Crowmania Ride until September 6. Maze opening hours: 10am to 6.30pm; last admission, 3.30pm

CORNTROLLER of Entertainment Josh Benson is the creative mind behind the new Crowmania Ride at York Maze, Elvington Lane, York.

York Maze reopened for the first time since 2019 on July 17, with York actor, magician, comedy turn and pantomime star Benson and his team of actors taking the redeveloped Crowmania attraction “to a new level” on a trailer towed by a tractor every 20 to 30 minutes from 11am to 5pm. “The scariest thing is the bad puns!” promises director of operations David Leon.

In a 20-minute pantomime on wheels, Crowmania’s loose plot involves The Greatest Crowman encouraging the crows to eat farmer Tom’s corn, while his villainy stretches to creating genetically modified corn-based creatures too. Expect theatrical set-pieces, multitudinous curious animatronics and special effects. 

Erika Noda: Reflecting on her dual heritage on tonight’s SeedBed bill at At The Mill, Stillington

“Fantastic nights of artistic creation”: SeedBed at At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight until Saturday, 7pm to 10pm nightly

BILLED as “New Work. Good Food. Big Conversations”, the first ever SeedBed promises three nights, three different line-ups, three opportunities to see new ideas on their first outings, each hosted by Polly from Jolly Allotment, who will cook a nutritious supper each evening and discuss nourishment.

Tonight features At The Mill’s resident artists, plus Paula Clark’s class-and-disadvantage monologue Girl, Jack Fielding’s stilt act in Deus and Erika Noda’s Ai, examining growing up dual heritage in predominantly white York.

Tomorrow combines Robert Douglas Finch’s Songs Of Sea And Sky; Jessa Liversidge’s Looping Around set of folk tunes, original songs and layered looping and Henry Bird’s combo of classical poetry extracts and his own words.

Saturday offers The Blow-Ins’ A Gentle Breeze, an acoustic Celtic harp and guitar set, to be experienced in silence; Gong Bath, a session of bathing in the sound of gongs, and Jessa Liversidge’s second Looping Around (Your Chance To Sing) session.

Papillon, by Adele Karmazyn, who is taking part in Saturday’s York River Art Market

York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, York, Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am to 5.30pm

MORE than 30 artists and makers will take part in days five and six of this summer’s riverside weekend art markets, organised by York abstract painter and jewellery designer Charlotte Dawson.

Given the busy traffic across both days last weekend, Charlotte is considering doing more full weekends next year rather than the present emphasis on Saturdays.

Among Saturday’s artists will be York digital photomontage artist and 2021 YRAM poster designer Adele Karmazyn and Kwatz, the small indie fashion label directed by Amanda Roseveare. 

On Sunday, look out for York College graphics tutor Monica Gabb’s Twenty Birds range of screen prints, tea towels, mugs, cards, bags and hanging decorations; York artist Linda Combi’s illustrations and Louise Taylor Designs, travelling over from Lancashire with her floral-patterned textile designs for cushions, tea towels, oven gloves and more besides.

Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie: Headlining Meadowfest

Festival of the week: Meadowfest, Malton, Saturday, 10am to 10pm

MALTON, alias “Yorkshire’s food capital”, plays host to the Meadowfest boutique summer music and street fodder festival this weekend in the riverside meadows and gardens of the Talbot Hotel.

On the bill, spread over two stages, will be headliners Lightning Seeds, Arthur “The God of Hellfire” Brown, York party band Huge, Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band, Flatcap Carnival, Hyde Family Jam, Gary Stewart, Penny Whispers, The Tengu Taiku Drummers and more besides.

“Expect a relaxed festival of uplifting sunshine bands, all-day feasting and dancing like no-one’s watching,” says the organisers. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/visitmalton/

Forge Zine and Hallmark Theatre present Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts! at The Crescent community venue in York on Sunday

Marking God’s Own Country’s wonderfulness: Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts!, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm

FORGE Zine and Hallmark Theatre band together for a Yorkshire Day night of creativity, fun and varied entertainment, replete with actors, musicians, writers and artists.

Expect spoken word, visual art, live music, scene extracts and comedy on a pleasant, relaxed, wholly Yorkshire evening, bolstered by the chance to buy artworks and books. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Steve Cassidy: Joining up with friends for the Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer fundraiser

Fundraiser of the week: Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer, with Steve Cassidy Band and friends, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

A NIGHT of songs and stories by some of York’s best-known performers, who “celebrate a return to normality” by supporting a charity that helps others still on the road to recovery.

Taking part will be Steve Cassidy, Mick Hull, John Lewis, Billy Leonard, Graham Hodge, Graham Metcalf, Geoff Earp and Ken Sanderson. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Sara Barron: Playing York, Leeds and Selby on her debut British tour of Enemies Closer

Barron nights: Sara Barron on autumn tour in Yorkshire in Enemies Closer

AMERICAN comedian Sara Barron examines kindness, meanness, ex-boyfriends, current husbands, all four remaining friends and two of her 12 enemies in Enemies Closer at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 9.

Further Yorkshire gigs on Barron’s debut British tour will be at Sheaf St, Leeds, on October 20 and Selby Town Hall on September 29.

“Touring this show is truly the fulfilment of a dream,” says Barron. “Come if you dig an artful rant. Stay at home if think you’re ‘a positive person’.” Box office: York, at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Leeds and Selby, via berksnest.com/sara.

In need of a reviving cuppa: Omid Djalili has just had to change his Pocklington plans for a second time

Third time lucky: Omid Djalili moves Pocklington gigs again, this time to 2022

OMID Djalili’s brace of shows on July 22 at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) have been moved to May 18 and 19 next spring.

British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for this month’s cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

He subsequently agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for his festival gig would not miss out. The uncertainty brought on by the Government’s delay to Step 4 scuppered those plans. Tickets remain valid for the new dates.

Michael Lambourne contemplates mortality after cancer treatment in Black Shuck, How It Came For Me at Theatre At The Mill

Michael Lambourne: Researching the story of Black Shuck, the Demon Dog of East Anglia

“NEVER look into the eye of Black Shuck,” warns actor, director, teacher and now writer Michael  Lambourne, a familiar face and booming voice to York theatregoers.

Now relocated to his Fenland roots, he returns north this weekend to present the Theatre At The Mill premiere of Black Shuck: How It Came For Me, his “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia: a hound of unnatural size and omen of misfortune to those who encounter its stare.

“According to the folklore tale of the black dog, if you see its eyes, it foretells your demise,” says Michael, who is yet to have such a creepy canine experience but has come across myriad versions of the story, whether of the scratch on the Blythburgh church door, or from Bungay, Blakeney Point or Chatteris Fen.

“The Darkness have a song called Black Shuck on their first album, Permission To Land, as they’re Lowestoft boys,” he continues. “Originally it’s a story from Norse mythology, from the Danes who took over East Anglia, telling of life and death, about everyone’s mortality.”

He is speaking en route to Southend-on-Sea earlier this week to teach his theatre students before setting off to North Yorkshire to perform Black Shuck on Saturday evening (24/7/2021) under the sails of At The Mill’s outdoor theatre at Stillington Mill, near York, where he played Prospero in The Flanagan Collective’s production of The Tempest by the mill pond in June 2016.

“I’ve been wanting to tell stories about where I’m from, and I thought, ‘what better way to tell East Anglia’s story than with a ghost story’, as I look to create art myself, stepping to the fore doing my own work, writing it, creating it and performing it, and hopefully it will appeal!” he says.

“Saturday will be the first airing of the new piece, and this performance came from a kind of call to arms that Alex [At The Mill co-founder, playwright, storyteller, musician and director Alexander Wright] made two to three months ago.

Michael Lambourne with fellow Flanagan Collective cast members Amie Burns Walker, back, and Holly Beasley-Garrigan in the grounds of Stillington Mill when performing The Tempest in June 2016

“I thought, ‘what better time than the present to do that?’, and for this first show, I’m just going to use the ambience of the beautiful garden and my vocal timbre. By the time dusk comes around, there’ll be the hoots of owls.”

Exploring the enduring effect that Black Shuck has on Fenland folklore, Michael’s performance will offer a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

The choice of folklore tale and its portent of exit stage left chimed with his own experience. “I went from a happy 40 year old to being in hospital with the doctor telling me my symptoms could signal my demise,” recalls Michael, husband of Paines Plough co-artistic director Katie Posner (formerly associate director of Pilot Theatre in York) and father of Heidi.

In the doctor’s hand was the scan that would signify whether Michael had cancer that would need an operation and “could shuffle me off my mortal coil”.

“I’d had a biting pain in my leg for months, where it got to the point I couldn’t walk – it was almost like a dog had bitten me in the leg. I was still way off from thinking of going for an MRI scan, but then I heeded Katie’s advice.”

Scans at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge revealed a black hole in his spine, where his number two vertebrae should have been. Five days of being prodded and poked in hospital followed.

Michael was diagnosed with lymphoma, the blood cancer. “It had manifested itself in my back, apparently after I fractured my spine, though I can’t think of any time in my life when my back has caused me problems,” says the walking and cycling enthusiast.

The poster for Michael Lambourne’s new show, Black Shuck: How It Came For Me at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions were necessary, but not an operation. “As well as ‘demise’, the Black Shuck folklore signifies your life is about to change, and how you respond to it is up to you. I embraced it, but not that thing where people talk of ‘fighting’ cancer,” says Michael.

“I want to build my body back into balance, using art as catharsis. It just so happens that ball was passed to me and I handled it this way.

“At the final session of chemotherapy, I was overcome with emotion; the nurse would have loved to have given me a hug, but she couldn’t because of the Covid situation, so she just took me by the hand. But by then it wasn’t even a sense of relief. It was just emotion.”

Happily, Michael conducting this interview and performing Black Shuck would indicate his ongoing recovery. “I’m in remission now and hopefully I’ll be able to tell this story for many years to come,” he says.

“I don’t dwell on it in Black Shuck, though it’s an inherent part of the story. The piece is 95 per cent there and now I’m confronting that thing of deciding ‘what is the real message?’.”

Push him further, and Michael urges: “Time is precious and we need to spend it well. Rather than waiting for things to happen, you must actively change it yourself.”

What better way to do that tomorrow night than to experience the stare of Michael Lambourne as he relates the story of Black Shuck. “I’ll be telling the tale in my natural Fens accent, connecting with the place I come from, as my family are truly from the Fens. That’s my heritage,” he says. “It’s not a great stretch to think my forefathers knew about Black Shuck and talked about the demon dog in the pub.”

Shona Cowie: Scottish storyteller of visionary tales

SCOTTISH storyteller Shona Cowie will open the evening with her tale of Bruadarach (noun: dreamer/visionary) at 7.30pm.

Once a creative associate at York Theatre Royal, Shona presents myths of re-imagining and transformation from the Scottish oral tradition, myths called on for centuries as guides through times of change.

A highly physical performer, who brings mime and song to the traditional Celtic style, she is dedicated to bringing front and centre those who have too often been pushed to the margins of stories.

“I worked with Shona at the Theatre Royal, and now we’ll both be doing our ‘fireside chats’ at Stillington,” says Michael Lambourne. “Her work is very lyrical and spiritual, told with a wonderful Scottish lilt.”

In addition, on Sunday at 2pm, Shona will present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), where she will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget.

For tickets for tomorrow or Sunday, go to: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Did you know?

Here is the opening verse to Black Shuck by The Darkness:

“In a town in the east
The parishioners were visited upon
By a curious beast
And his eyes numbered but one and shone like the sun
And a glance beckoned the immediate loss
Of a cherished one
It was the coming of the… Black Shuck”

More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Writer, director, musician, theatre maker, actor, but still Alex is nervous about tonight

In a field of one: Alexander Wright, playwright, poet, storyteller, musician, director, facilitator, theatre builder…and now solo performer

ALEXANDER Wright is nervous about tonight, but why?

Let Alex tell the story: “In a potentially remarkable act of narcissism, I am doing a solo gig of my own work in a theatre I built [with Gobbledigook Theatre’s Phil Grainger and dad Paul Wright] in my back garden at 7.30pm. 

“It’s the first time I have ever done a solo gig. I write lots of stuff, direct lots of stuff, tour Orpheus, Eurydice & The Gods The Gods The Gods to hundreds of places.

“I’ve released Half Man//Half Bull, a double narrative-led album, with Phil and Olivier Tilney. My production of The Great Gatsby has been performed across the UK, in Belgium, Ireland, and Korea to hundreds and thousands of audience members.

“But I’ve never really stood in front of people and performed my own stuff, on my own, for an extended period. So, now, I am…and I’m nervous about it.”

Double at t’ Mill: Phil Grainger and Alexander Wright at Stillington Mill last August when performing a week of shows back on home turf in Alex’s “back garden”. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Expect beautiful stories, beautiful poems, a few beautiful special guests and hopefully a beautiful sunset under the sails of the At The Mill outdoor theatre on the re-appropriated disused tennis court at Stillington Mill, Mill Lane, Stillington, near York.

Tongue in cheek in its title, Alex’s Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism night is part of the anything but narcissistic inaugural Summer At The Mill season at At The Mill, the Wrights’ family-run business at the mid-18th century former corn mill.

Not only theatre, children’s shows, spoken word and concerts have found a home here but so too has a Saturday morning pop-up café with unicorn ice cream and blissful cakes spun from the culinary imagination of Alex’s sister, Abbigail, and a welcoming wood-burner in the corner.

Then add supper clubs (up next, Tom Smith, from Oxfordshire, cooking an entire lamb on July 17, tickets available); special events; community gatherings; weddings and accommodation in a fairy-lit woodland shepherd’s hut or the two-bedroom Mill Cottage in a converted cow byre.

The stage is set for a night of Theatre At The Mill

Stillington Mill’s pond-side grounds have housed magical performances in previous years, whether on the woodland grass or under canvas, but the outdoor theatre is new for 2021, all because of a vow witnessed one August night by CharlesHutchPress among others at a Grainger and Wright performance in the first socially distanced summer of Covid.

“Phil has a habit of saying what he’s thinking out loud in public, and then being beholden to it. I’m fine with that and so is Phil!”, says Alex, recalling how best friend Phil had announced that a massive pile of wood had just arrived at the mill from G H Brooks, the timber merchants up the road.

They would build a theatre, he promptly promised, with a boldness worthy of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald pronouncing he would construct an opera house in the middle of a jungle in Werner Herzog’s infamously trouble-beset 1982 film Fitzcarraldo. Thankfully, the task proved less arduous, and no-one behaved like loose-cannon prima-donna lead actor Klaus Kinski.

“I think it’s important to get on with stuff, whatever the circumstances you face, and we’ve always done that. If you wait for people to give you permission, it will never happen, but we had the space to create a theatre, so we have,” says Alex.

Alexander Wright performing Orpheus at At The Mill earlier this summer. Picture: Fair Dinkum Film

“There’s something wonderful about an old tennis court making way for a stage, especially in a village where the mill has long been a focal point for the community. There’s been a mill here since being recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and the house was built in 1754.

“It’s lovely to keep allowing these buildings to be central to the community, and even though it’s no longer flour, I hope it’s still some form of nourishment, whether it’s cake and sausage sandwiches or theatre and music. It’s good to have an industry of sorts still going on here.”

Phil built the wooden stage and the benches – in his own self-deprecating words “making good-quality wood look like palettes” – with help from his Australian partner Angie Alle, while Alex and father Paul did all the structures above, the pillars and posts and sails. “So, if you fall off the stage, it’s Phil’s fault; if something falls on you, it’s my dad’s and my fault,” Alex jokes.

“Some of it’s trial and error, like having to re-enforce the pillar structures, but we’re always trying to do something that’s beyond what we would normally do. Others might find that intimidating, but I like stretching my capacities.”

Courtly love: Out goes tennis, in comes a theatre, game set and match at Stillington Mill

Reflecting on changing times for theatre and performance under the cloud of Covid, changes that have seen Alex and Phil rooted in North Yorkshire, rather than travelling to New York and the Edinburgh Fringe after returning early from Australia last February, Alex says: “I’m sure lots of people have had the profound realisation in the past 16 months that theatre and the arts are a function or a means to the end,  rather than an end in themselves.

“We get tied up in theatre being something we consume, when in fact it is so much more valuable as a means for people to gather, to hear news, to share stories, to start conversations, and when we’ve not been gathering for 16 months, it’s such a vital tool for doing that – and I think it’s the gathering that’s most important.”

Alex continues: “I love meeting communities, meeting other people, and I feel that everywhere I go, we always leave having learned something. We always play by the same rules: performers and audience, we are together for two hours, and that sense of hanging out together is more important right now than what we see.

“But when we were setting up Summer At The Mill, I was very clear that it needed to serve the communities I care about: the local rural community and the wider, sprawling arts community.

“We’ve made what I hope is a very honest invitation to artists, to encourage them to ask if they want to come here and play, with either a new piece of work or an old piece that they’re getting back on its feet, or maybe for a collaboration, and it’s felt really nice to be able to do that.

A different writing task for playwright and poet Alexander Wright as he works a shift on At The Mill’s Saturday morning pop-up cafe (which turn into a bar for shows, by the way)

“Phil and I see loads of brilliant mates making work around the world, and we’ll hang around with them for a month. Then, six month later, there’ll be another festival, again with all these acclaimed international artists, and it’s kind of amazing when we say, ‘do you want to muck around in our back garden?’ and they’ll say ‘Yes, I’ll try out some new ideas’, and so they’ll play to a new audience, testing out new material. There’s a nice alchemy to it, and it’s a level playing field.

“We’re even talking to a couple of artists about the possibility of doing short residencies, for a week or a weekend, hosting them to let them road-test something new.”

Tonight, meanwhile, it will be Alex’s own turn to do that in a night of spoken word, storytelling and poetry…and, yes, he’s still nervous!

Alexander Wright: Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight (10/7/2021) at 7.30pm. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/538906.

More Things To Do in and around York as 145 artists and makers open studio doors. List No. 40, courtesy Of The Press, York

Minster, by textile artist Carol Coleman, who is taking part in York Open Studios at 1 Carlton Cottages, Wigginton

AHEAD of Monday’s already trailered Step 4 pronouncement, Charles Hutchinson unmasks events aplenty, from Open Studios to heavy metal heaven, theatre comedy to theatre tragi-comedy, musical celebrations to  a triple exhibition.

Big art event of the next two weekends: York Open Studios 2021, preview night tomorrow, 6pm to 9pm; July 10/11 and 17/18, 10am to 5pm

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns this weekend for its 20th parade of the city’s creative talent.

The event sees 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces, and among them will be 43 debutants, with full details at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

York’s biggest annual art showcase spans ceramics, collages, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, printmaking, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles.

Still feeling their Old Selves after lockdown easement: Yorkshire four-piece look overjoyed at the prospect of headlining tomorrow’s very heavy metal bill at The Fulford Arms

Hardcore gig of the week: Old Selves, Blight Town, Cast Out and Realms at The Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

“WHAT at an absolute heavy metal treat,” enthuses Fulford Arms supremo Chris Sherrington, ahead of tomorrow’s headbanger fiesta, headlined by fiery Yorkshire four-piece Old Selves.

Playing loud too will be Nottingham progressive post-hardcore/math rock quintet Blight Town, York punk’n’roll/metalcore crossover band Cast Out and Yorkshire post-hardcore act Realms, who “make music for people who never grew out of their emo phase”. Tickets: thefulfordarms.bigcartel.com/ or on the door.

Lead actors Sandy Foster and Tom Kanji in rehearsal for Laura Wade’s comedy of domestic bliss turned to blister, Home, I’m Darling. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

Make a trip to Scarborough for: Home, I’m Darling, Stephen Joseph Theatre, July 9 to August 14

SWEET peas in the garden; homemade lemon curd in the kitchen; marital bliss in the bedroom, Judy and Johnny seem to be the perfect couple. Sickeningly happy, in fact, in Laura Wade’s domestic comedy-drama. 

Is their marriage everything it seems, however? Are there cracks in their happiness? What happens when the 1950s’ family values they love so much stop working in the 21st century as the couple discovers that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. 

Liz Stevenson directs this co-production between Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre and the SJT. Box office: thesjt.uk.com.

Back together in Beulah: Actor-musicians Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren reunite next week, having first performed the show for The Flanagan Collective in 2012

Theatre resurrection of the week ahead: The Flanagan Collective in Beulah, Summer At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 14 to 16, 8pm to 10pm

AN island sets sail into the sunset; a boy watches a lion running out of the sky, and an old man is sleeping as Alexander Wright’s Beulah reawakens in Stillington.

Inspired by William Blake’s world of a “mild and pleasant rest”, Wright plays with  notions of reality, of the permeable times of day and liminal states of being, in a show woven with storytelling, puppetry and soaring live music, first staged at York Theatre Royal in the bygone summer of 2012.

Directed by Tom Bellerby, Beulah is performed by actor-musicians and composers Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren. Box office: atthemill.org.

Father Of The Flowers, by York artist Linda Combi, from her exhibition The Last Gardener Of Aleppo at Pyramid Gallery, York

Exhibition launch of the week times three: Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, Friday to September 5

ERUM Aamir, Debbie Loane and Linda Combi form the suitably triangular structure of Pyramid Gallery’s summer show. Not one, but three exhibitions will run in two upstairs rooms.

For Celestial Garden, Manchester ceramic artist Erum Aamir has made intricate porcelain sculptures that fuse her scientific research and artistic imaginations, complemented in the front room by seascape and landscape paintings by Easingwold artist Debbie Loane under the title of The Peace Of Wild Places.

York artist Linda Combi presents The Last Gardener Of Aleppo, a series of original collages and mixed-media artworks and giclee prints that form a moving tribute to Abu Waad in aid of The Lemon Tree Trust and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency.

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson as doomed Leeds United manager Brian Clough in The Damned United at York Theatre Royal

Second time lucky: The Damned United, Red Ladder Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, July 15, kick-off 7.30pm

THE Damned Pandemic curse struck again when June 16’s performance of The Damned United was postponed after one of the actors had an inconclusive lateral flow test. Tickets remain valid for the post-Euro 2020 new date.

Anders Lustgarten’s darkly humorous adaptation of David Peace’s book about Brian Clough’s 44 days in purgatory as Leeds United’s manager is built around the double act of tortured genius Clough (Luke Dickson) and father figure/assistant Peter Taylor (David Chafer).

The beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet, bursts out of a story of sweat and booze, fury and power battles. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

No, that’s not England manager Gareth Southgate, second from left, front row, in Black Sheep Theatre’s line-up

Raise the roof booster:  Black Sheep Theatre, For The Love Of Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 24, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MUSICAL director Matthew Clare and his merry band, plus a heap of York singers, present a concert programme packed with musical delights as they seek to prove that “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

The song list for this Black Sheep Theatre fundraiser for the Joseph Rowntree York, spans Annie Get Your Gun, the classics and more recent shows, such as Dear Evan Hansen. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Joshua Burnell: Live At Forty Five gig in August. Picture: Stewart Baxter

Intimate gig announcement of the week: Joshua Burnell, Live At Forty Five, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, August 14, 7.30pm

JOSHUA Burnell, progressive York purveyor of folk-fused baroque’n’roll for the modern world, performs in a three-piece line-up, including Frances Sladen, at Forty Five Vinyl Café next month.

Expect a showcase for latest album Flowers Where The Horses Sleep and his new EP, Storm Cogs, featuring songs about a folk singer who went missing for 30 years (Shelagh McDonald), a storm-chasing flying machine and a childhood memory, “written and recorded in lockdown and released as the world recovers”.

Elsie Franklin supports. Tickets are on sale at fortyfiveuk.com/events/joshua-burnell-live-at-fortyfive.

More Things To Do in and around York as ‘Byrne out’ strikes tonight’s comedy gig. List No. 39, courtesy of The Press, York

Shock of the new: Milton Jones looks startled at the prospect of replacing Ed Byrne at short notice for tonight’s comedy bill at York Theatre Royal

AWAY from all that football, Charles Hutchinson finds plenty of cause for cheer beyond chasing an inflated pig’s bladder, from a late-change comedy bill to Ayckbourn on film, York artists to a park bench premiere.

Late substitution of the week: Byrne out, Jones in, for Live At The Theatre Royal comedy night, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm

ED Byrne will not top the Live At The Theatre Royal comedy bill tonight after all. “We are sorry to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control, Ed is now unable to appear,” says the official statement.

The whimsical Irish comedian subsequently has tweeted his “You Need To Self-Isolate” notification, running until 23.59pm on July 7.

Well equipped to take over at short notice is the quip-witted pun-slinger Milton Jones, joining Rhys James, Maisie Adam and host Arthur Smith. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Naomi Petersen and Bill Champion in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door at the SJT and now on film too. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Film of the week”: Alan Ayckburn’s The Girl Next Door, from Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until Sunday

THE SJT’s film of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest premiere, The Girl Next Door, is available on the Scarborough theatre’s website, sjt.uk.com.

Directed by Ayckbourn, his 85th play can be seen on stage in The Round until Saturday and now in a filmed recording in front of a live audience until midnight on Sunday.

One day in 2020 lockdown, veteran actor Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, but his neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?

Ray of sunshine: Edwin Ray as Tick/Mitzi in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert at Leeds Grand Theatre. Picture: Darren Bell

Musical of the week ahead: Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Leeds Grand Theatre, July 6 to 10

PRISCILLA Queen Of The Desert returns to Leeds for seven socially distanced performances in a new production produced by Mark Goucher and, for the first time, Jason Donovan, star of the original West End show and two UK tours.

Loaded up with glorious costumes, fabulous feathers and dance-floor classics, three friends hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.

Miles Western plays Bernadette, Nick Hayes, Adam/Felicia and Edwin Ray, Tick/Mitzi, in this heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsgrandtheatre.com.

Solo show: Polymath Phil Grainger puts his songwriting in the spotlight in his Clive concert in Stillington

Gig of the week outside York: Clive, alias Phil Grainger, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

CLIVE is the solo music project of Easingwold singer, songwriter, musician, sound engineer, magician, actor, Gobbledigook Theatre director and event promoter Phil Grainger.

As the voice and the soul behind Orpheus, Eurydice and The Gods The Gods The Gods, Clive finds the globe-trotting Grainger back home, turning his hand to a song-writing project marked by soaring vocal and soulful musicianship. Expect a magical evening wending through new work and old classics in two sets, one acoustic, the other electric. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/512182.

Emily Hansen’s Pilgrim 14 as Mary Magdalene in a rehearsal for A Resurrection For York at Dean’s Park. Picture: John Saunders

Open-air theatre event of the weekend: A Resurrection For York, Residents Garden, Minster Library, Dean’s Park, York, Saturday and Sunday, 11am, 2pm, 4pm

THE wagons are in place for A Resurrection For York, presented by York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, York Festival Trust and York Minster.

Philip Parr, artistic director of Parrabbola, directs a community cast in an hour-long outdoor performance, scripted by Parr and 2018 York Mystery Plays director Tom Straszewski from the York Mystery Plays cycle of the crucifixion and the events that followed. Tickets are on sale at ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/york/residents-garden-deans-park/a-resurrection-for-york/.

Autonomous, by Sharon McDonagh, from the Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week and beyond: Momentum Summer Show, Westside Artists, Blossom Street Gallery, by Micklegate Bar, York, until September 26

YORK art group Westside Artists, a coterie of artists from the city’s Holgate and West areas, are exhibiting paintings, portraits, photomontage, photography, metalwork, textiles, ceramics and mixed-media art at Blossom Street Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn; Carolyn Coles; Donna Maria Taylor; Ealish Wilson; Fran Brammer; Jane Dignum; Jill Tattersall; Kate Akrill and Lucy McElroy. So too are Lucie Wake; Marc Godfrey-Murphy; Mark Druery; Michelle Hughes; Rich Rhodes; Robin Grover-Jaques, Sharon McDonagh and Simon Palmour.

The Park Keeper director Matt Aston, left, actor Sean McKenzie and writer Mike Kenny at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Theatre premiere of the week ahead: Park Bench Theatre in The Park Keeper, The Friends’ Garden, Rowntree Park, York, July 7 to 17 (except July 11)

AFTER last summer’s trilogy of solo shows, Matt Aston’s Park Bench Theatre return to Rowntree Park with Olivier Award-winning York writer Mike Kenny’s new monologue to mark the park’s centenary.

Performed by Sean McKenzie, The Park Keeper is set in York in the summer of 1945, when Rowntree Park’s first, and so far only, park keeper, ‘Parky’ Bell, is about to retire. That can mean only one thing, a speech, but what can he say? How can he close this chapter on his life? Will he be able to lock the gates to his kingdom one last time? Box office: 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or via parkbenchtheatre.com.

Andy Fairweather Low: Booked into Pocklington Arts Centre for next February

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Andy Fairweather Low, Pocklington Arts Centre, February 11 2022

ANDY Fairweather Low, the veteran Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer, will return to Pocklington next February.

Founder and cornerstone of Sixties’ hitmakers Amen Corner and later part of Eric Clapton and Roger Waters’ bands, Cardiff-born Fairweather Low, 72, will perform with The Low Riders: drummer Paul Beavis, bassist Dave Bronze and saxophonist Nick Pentelow. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Jane McDonald: Lighting up York Barbican in July 2022 rather than July 4 this summer

Rearranged gig announcement of the week in York: Jane McDonald, York Barbican, July 22 2022

WAKEFIELD cabaret singer and television personality Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In show is on the move to next summer.

For so long booked in as the chance to “Get The Lights Back On” at York Barbican on July 4, the Government’s postponement of “Freedom Day” from June 21 to July 19 at the earliest has enforced the date change for a show first booked in for 2020. Tickets remain valid; box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York, as Richard III ‘returns’ to his favourite city. List No. 38, courtesy of The Press, York

Next stop York Theatre Royal: The Showstoppers are on their way north for a night of improvised musical comedy mayhem

LOOKING to have a whale of a time? Here is Charles Hutchinson’s latest guide to what’s on and what’s coming up, featuring a snail, a whale, a hare, a York king and much more besides.

Anything Could Happen show of the week: The Showstoppers in Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, York Theatre Royal and livestream, June 30, 7.30pm

DIRECT from the West End, The Showstoppers’ Olivier Award-winning blend of comedy, musical theatre and spontaneity heads to York Theatre Royal for one night only.

A new musical comedy will be created from scratch as audience suggestions are transformed into an all-singing, all-dancing production packed with drama, dazzling dance routines and contagious melodies, everything being made up on the spot.

“Whether you fancy Hamiltonin a hospital or Sondheim in the Sahara, you suggest it and we’ll sing it,” say the Showstoppers, whose show will be livestreamed too, with more details in how to tune in at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/showstopper-the-improvised-musical-livestream.

Wood work: York actor Richard Kay and Hetty the hare in Badapple Theatre Company’s Tales From The Great Wood

Family show of the week: Badapple Theatre Company in Tales From The Great Wood, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 2, 7.30pm; July 3, 11am, 2.30pm and 7pm.

LISTEN! Can you hear the whispering in the trees? The wood is full of stories in Tales From The Wood, written and directed by Kate Bramley, artistic director of Green Hammerton company Badapple.

York actor Richard Kay, Danny Mellor and a host of puppets present an interactive storytelling eco-adventure for ages five to 95, set on a hot summer’s day, when, instead of resting, Hetty the hare is investigating because someone is missing. 

As she unravels a tall tale that stretches across The Great Wood, Hetty realises how every creature, no matter how small, can have a huge part to play in the world of the forest. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

On the snail trail: Tall Stories in The Snail And The Whale at York Theatre Royal

Children’s show of the week: Tall Stories in The Snail And The Whale, York Theatre Royal, July 2, 2.30pm and 4.30pm; July 3, 10.30am and 1.30pm

TALL Stories invite you to join an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father as they reimagine the story of a globe-trotting tiny snail, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.

In this heart-warming play full of music, storytelling and laughter, the sea snail hitches a lift on the tail of a grey-blue humpback whale to head off an amazing journey around the world, but when the whale becomes beached, how will the snail save him? Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Gary Stewart: Hosting his Folk Club night at the At The Mill outdoor theatre in Stillington

Folk event of the week ahead: Gary Stewart’s Folk Club, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 3, 7.30pm to 10pm

“IT will be a very special, one-off, folk club: part folk night, part headline gig, with an eclectic mix of acts and then me doing a set,” says Easingwold singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gary Stewart.

Hosted by Gary, people in attendance will be given the chance to play and perform, whether music, stories, songs or poems. “If you want to share something, then bring your instrument and your voice and we’ll see you there!” says At The Mill’s Alexander Wright. For tickets, go to: atthemill.com.

Back in York at last: Richard III returns “home” in a National Portrait Gallery portrait loan to the Yorkshire Museum

Portrait of the summer:  Richard III, Yorkshire Museum, York, July 9 to October 31.

HIS ex-car park bones may be stuck in Leicester Cathedral, but that right work of art, Richard III, is heading back to his favourite city, York, albeit in portrait form.

On loan from the National Portrait Gallery as part of its Coming Home project, the iconic 16th century painting by the mysterious Unknown Artist will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum alongside “one of the finest groups of objects associated with Richard III”, such as the magnificent Middleham Jewel, The Ryther Hoard and Stillingfleet Boar Badge.

“Coming home,” you say? Yes, the project lends portraits of iconic individuals to places across the UK with which they are most closely associated. York 1, Leicester 0.

Hope & Social distancing: Leeds band to play Covid-secure gig at The Crescent, York

Where there’s hope…and a NEW date: Hope & Social, The Crescent, York, October 12, 7.30pm. Moved from July 16

“WE wear blue jackets. Fingers crossed, we will die with our hearts out in bloom,” say Leeds band Hope & Social, purveyors of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart  and Yorkshire Festival anthem The Big Wide.

Ah yes, but why do they wear those blue jackets? “Homburgs, in Leeds, were selling off goods, and they had a choice between Wombles outfits and these Butlins holiday camp-style outfits,” explains drummer Gary Stewart. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

The Courteeners: Playing a warm-up gig at the 8,000-capacity Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Warm-up gig of the summer: The Courteeners, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 8

THE Courteeners will loosen up for two-late summer shows with an exclusive warm-up on the East Coast, supported by Wirral wonders The Coral.

The Middleton band are to play Glasgow’s TRNSMT Festival on September 10 and Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground on September 25, a home-coming that sold out in 90 minutes.

Best known for Not Nineteen Forever, Are You In Love With A Notion, How Good It Was, The 17th and Hanging Off Your Cloud, The Courteeners released their seventh top ten album, More. Again. Forever, in January 2020. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (25/6/2021) via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

As you Lycett: More, more, more Yorkshire dates for Joe Lycett on his long, long, long 2022 tour. Picture: Matt Crockett

Comedy gig announcement of the week: Joe Lycett: More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett?, York Barbican, April 1 and 3 2022

FRESH from filming in York last Thursday for his Channel 4 consumer-campaign series Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Birmingham comedian and presenter Lycett has announced a 60-date tour with a title riffing on a 1976 Andrea True Connection disco floor-filler.

In More, More, More!, Lycett will explore his love of art and passion for gardening, how he toys with companies on Instagram and the perils of online trolls.

As well as his York Barbican brace, among more, more, more dates in 2022 will be Hull Bonus Arena on April 2 and Leeds First Direct Arena on September 14. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk and joelycett.com.