Joseph Rowntree Theatre launches reopening season and Buy A Tile roof fund

Strictly Cabaret performers Chris Hagyard, Terry Ford, Larry Gibson and Claire Pulpher

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, in York, will be reopening its doors on May 21 with Covid-secure measures and a socially distanced seating plan.

That night at 7.30pm and the next day at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, the Bev Jones Music Company will present Strictly Cabaret in this safe, regulated setting.

Claire Pulpher, Chris Hagyard, Terry Ford and Larry Gibson will don their finest to entertain with a glittering cabaret evening of their favourites.  

“Rat Pack, swing style, top musicals, film favourites, you name it, they will sing it,” says producer Lesley Jones. “Just sit back, reflect upon the year, clear your minds and be thoroughly entertained in the manner befitting the Bev Jones Music Company.”

Black Sheep Theatre Productions: Fundraiser for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Strictly Cabaret will lead off a line-up of nine shows at the JoRo between May 21 and August 28.

In a fundraiser for the Jo Ro on June 13, music director Jon Atkin will be joined by singers Emma Dickinson, Alexa Chaplin, Richard Bayton and Rob Davies at 7.30pm for An Evening Of Musical Comedy Highlights: a cabaret selection of solos, duets and quartets from musical comedies aplenty with a few popular songs added to the mix. 

Poignant after the death of composer Jim Steinman on April 19, Meat Loud – The Duo will perform those very familiar rock operatic songs from Bat Out Of Hell and other Meat Loaf albums, penned by the New Yorker, plus equally grandiose classics he wrote for Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion and Cher, on June 19 at 7.30pm.

Meat Loud – The Duo was founded in 2018 by Meat Loud, alias Andy Plimmer, and British session singer and vocal coach Sally Rivers, who has worked with Cher, Annie Lennox and Mick Hucknall. “So buckle up and get ready for a ride into hell,” say the duo.

Meat Loud – The Duo: Andy Plimmer and Sally Rivers

The York String Quartet will play a fundraiser for the Rowntree theatre on June 20, performing a broad repertoire of classical, pop, jazz, television and film music at 7.30pm.

Between them, quartet members Vince Parsonage, violin and viola, Nicola Rainger, violin, Sara Gilford, cello, and Maggy Lamb, viola, have played across Europe with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera.

Some Might Say will re-create the look, swagger and trademark wall of sound in a supersonic tribute show to Oasis on June 26 at 7.30pm.

Selections from all seven albums will feature in a set full of Manchester anthems, from hit singles to fans’ concert favourites and Noel Gallagher’s acoustic numbers. Expect Supersonic, Rock’n’Roll Star, Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Cigarettes And Alcohol and many more.

Some Might Say: Swaggering Oasis tribute show

Black Sheep Theatre Productions will present For The Love Of Musicals in aid of the JoRo in matinee and evening performances on July 10.

Join musical director Matthew Clare, his merry band and a host of singers for a concert of delights as they prove “There’s No Business Like Show Business” with songs from Annie Get Your Gun, classics galore and more recent shows such as Dear Evan Hansen.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan will feature HMS Pinafore on July 29 at 7.30pm and July 31 at 2.30pm and The Mikado on July 30 and 31 at 7.30pm.

The JoRo’s in-house performing team will produce semi-staged performances of G&S’s biggest hits, brimming with popular tunes and brilliant characters. “Come along and enjoy the topsy-turvy musical madness, with all profits going straight back to the theatre,” reads their invitation.

The Carpenters Experience: Tribute concert led by Maggie Nestor

Billed as “the UK’s leading Carpenters’ show”, The Carpenters Experience brings together vocalist Maggie Nestor and eight musicians to capture yesterday once more in the form of Karen and Richard Carpenter’s Close To You, We’ve Only Just Begun, Top Of The World, Rainy Days And Mondays, Solitaire, Goodbye To Love, Please Mr Postman, For All We Know and Only Yesterday on August 28 at 7.30pm.

Dan Shrimpton, chair of the theatre trustees, says: “We’re thrilled to be staging live shows once again and welcoming audiences back through our theatre doors. We’ve missed the buzz of putting on a show and can’t wait for opening night.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure our theatre is Covid-safe. The new procedures and processes we’ve put in place have all been tried and tested. Our priority is to make sure your theatre experience is a safe one.”

For more information on the shows, booking tickets and the new safety procedures, go to the website, josephowntreetheatre.co.uk, email publicity@jrtheatre.co.uk or ring 01904 501935.

Buy A Tile: Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s new fundraising campaign

THE JoRo has launched its latest fundraising campaign, Buy A Tile, as part of its wider Raise The Roof appeal set in motion last year.

Shrimpton says: “We’ve been staging shows and entertaining local communities in York for more than 85 years. The roof repairs are essential for safeguarding the future of our theatre, so we can continue entertaining communities in York for years and years to come.”

The JoRo needs to raise £45,000 urgently to replace its leaking roofs: still made up of the original tiles laid in place when the Haxby Road theatre was built in 1935. Without repairs to the broken tiles, the Grade II-listed theatre risks damage to the building’s Art Deco fabric.

The Bev Jones Music Company’s poster for Jesus Christ Superstar at Rowntree Park, York

LOOKING ahead, musical actress, radio presenter, choreographer, director, writer, teacher and model Claire Pulpher will direct the Bev Jones Music Company in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar at Rowntree Park, York, on July 12 at 3pm and July 13 at 2pm and 5pm.

Claire also will play Mary Magdalene in the York company’s first full-scale musical production post-pandemic lockdown, in a safe outdoor setting in the park’s secluded amphitheatre, where audience members can sit in bubbles of up to six people, allocated on the day. Bring picnic chairs, rugs and possibly umbrellas too.

Joining her in the principal roles will be fellow Strictly Cabaret performers Chris Hagyard, Terry Ford and Larry Gibson.

Claire Pulpher: Directing Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the last seven days of Jesus’s life, leading to his crucifixion. Pulpher will use the natural setting to maximum effect to bring a unique vision to the 1973 rock opera, complemented by musical director James Rodgers’ band.

“James’s brilliant rock band will have you clapping and joining in with this rousing show, featuring the company’s very best performers, plus new names for you to enjoy in a production set to lift your spirits after such a difficult year,” says producer Lesley Jones . 

“Suitable for all ages, with parental guidance, there’ll be singing and dancing to please everyone, in a suitably distanced manner.”

Jill and Stephen Outhwaite bow out of theatre costume hire as Dress Circle closes

The end of the clothing chapter: Jill and Stephen Outhwaite are closing their Dress Circle of York costume hire enterprise. Picture: Melissa Gresswell, Liss Photography

THE final curtain falls on costume-hire emporium Dress Circle of York after 18 years tomorrow when Stephen and Jill Outhwaite will bow out.

“I’ve counted up the number of companies, schools, film companies, event companies and more that we’ve dealt with, and I’m sure I’ve missed out some, but it must be around 160, and then there are all the individuals over the years,” says Jill.

York Stage Musicals, the Rowntree Players, Bev Jones Music Company, Helmsley Arts Centre’s 1820 Theatre  Company and Stephen Tearle’s NEMS York are but five of those companies grateful to theatre costumiers Stephen and Jill and their team of Sophie, Sue, Elaine, Caroline, Emily, Susan and Guy.

“We would like to thank all of valued customers for their support, laughs, friendliness, understanding, cakes and chocolate over the past 18 years,” says the official notice on the Dress Circle website.

“We will miss you and wish you all the very best of luck in the future. Stay safe and well as we take our final bows.”

Dress Circle of York is run in converted buildings of the Outhwaite family farm at Low Grange Farm, off Moor Lane – more and more lane, it is a long lane – in Haxby, near York. “After 0.75 miles, there is a sharp right bend in the road, continue straight down the ‘no-through road’ for 1 mile,” the website advises. “Turn left into the farm yard at white sign ‘Low Grange Farm’.”

Many a farm has diversified, whether into ice cream, maze attractions, fields for solar-heating generation or wedding party teepees, wind farms, holiday cottages, film studios, business parks, beer breweries, the list goes on…

Items for hire, in a flashback to the 1980s, at Dress Circle of York. Picture: Liss Photography

…But theatrical costume hire? Pantomimes, fancy dress, make-up and accessories too, that is another world, one of fantasy, fable and fabulous fun, where a farewell visit just had to be made to thank Stephen and Jill.

All that was missing, and the eyes could not possibly take in everything, was a Daisy the Cow, front and back end, down on this 150-acre farm.

“Dress Circle of York came into being in 2002 when Jill and I brought the theatrical costume-hire business into an empty barn,” says Stephen, who has a history of acting, directing, theatrical make-up and running a youth theatre [he founded and ran Flying Ducks Youth Theatre in York for many years].

“Combined with Jill’s experience of costuming shows and a history degree and encouraged by the Government and our accountant to diversify, when the farming wasn’t that good, we took the first step into developing Dress Circle, acquiring stock from Geraldine Jevons and Sue Morris.

“The business has grown and developed in a way not dreamt of, as we built up a team of staff with a wealth and diversity of experience in costume and the theatrical world.”

In a normal year, from the end of October through to early December would be Dress Circle’s busiest time, but this was the abnormal year where the Covid Grinch cancelled Christmas and much more besides. “Over the past few years, we have, on average, dressed 30 shows in those few weeks, but not this year of course,” says Jill.

In 2020 Dress Circle costumed 170 shows all told; in 2020, only 39, as theatres went dark and largely stayed dark. “Shows that would have been going out, until lockdown kicked in, now aren’t. Even those provisionally booked for next year, the orders couldn’t be confirmed,” says Jill.

Everything a panto dame could dream of matching with over-bold lippy and a wig” at Dress Circle of York

Not only theatre companies called on their Aladdin’s barn of costume opportunities. So too did those seeking clothes for weddings and even funerals; war-themed weekends; big parties with a dress code; bikers gathering in Helmsley for a charity Christmas ride; vintage car enthusiasts headed for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex.

Everything could be found, from Lady Gaga and Tina Turner styles to Madonna cones; from Victorian and Edwardian clothes, through Seventies’ Glam to the modern day; from the full kit bag for Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast and Monty Python’s Spamalot to a Gruffalo; from Father Christmas outfits to The Pink Panther.

No fewer than 16,000 costumes and much more besides: hats and more hats; prop after prop; military attire; blazers and tailcoats; socks and handkerchiefs; umbrellas and swords; waistcoats up to a 60-inch chest, ties, scarves, suits-you-sir suits, dress upon dress. Aprons. Everything a panto dame could dream of matching with over-bold lippy and a wig. Anything for a Steampunk sci-fi enthusiast.

“We’re the biggest business of our type in the north east,” says Jill. “We cover as far as Blyth, in Northumberland, down to north Lincolnshire.”

So much glamour, such theatrical flourish, is promised in these most untheatrical of premises. “It was built for cattle, and over the years we had pigs and grain in it too,” says Stephen.

“We insulated all the walls, but heating-wise you don’t want gas because it puts moisture into the atmosphere, electricity is expensive, so I enquired about a wood burner.”

No ordinary wood burner, it turns out. It is as big as a fledgling dancer’s dreams. “We got it from Dowling Stoves in Scotland, though originally he was from Helmsley,” says Stephen. “It’s the only heating we need in here; it keeps a nice dry barn, really good for drying costumes.” Two washing machines can be heard too, yet tomorrow they will fall silent.

“No fewer than 16,000 costumes and much more besides: hats and more hats; prop after prop” at Dress Circle of York. Picture: Liss Photography

“When I was at school, I wanted to be either a farmer or an actor, so I started with farming – better the devil you know – but then I flipped to acting, and I did everything but opera,” says Stephen.

Not that the farming has ever had its final harvest. BSE (“Mad Cow Disease”) put paid to the beef farming, he gave up on sheep too, but pigs – “bed and breakfast weeners” – have played their part and so too have contract grass-seed drilling and diversification into growing 40 acres of miscanthus, a biofuel for greener times.

Somehow, Stephen has found time to spread his wings still further, whether into piloting Flying Ducks Youth Theatre, or providing theatrical make-up services, or building sets for theatre shows.

“The make-up work was by chance initially but then it blossomed into film work too and the Vikings Roadshow, designing the make-up,” he says. “It toured Europe, then came to the Museum Gardens in York.”

Stephen will turn 70 next year, Jill, 67, and 2020’s stultifying pandemic has pressed them into making the decision to call time on Dress Circle. “We have such good staff; we had seven, but three have left already, and that was the toughest thing,” says Jill. “We feel awful; they’re all good friends and we get on so well. We’re a costume-hire team with the personal touch.

“We tried to keep going, and the furlough scheme was a godsend, but there’s just nothing happening in the theatre world. Theatres have to get going again first, and then we could have got going again, but we’d already decided to retire anyway.”

As a reminder of a year brought to a shuddering halt, the costumes for Bev Jones Music Company’s Calamity Jane, stopped a day before opening by the pandemic lockdown, are still hanging unused on a rail.

Cleopatra Rey as Deloris and Joanne Theaker as Sister Mary Roberts in Sister Act, one of York Stage Musicals’ productions that used costumes from Dress Circle of York

“We’re trading to December 19 and then looking at the possibilities of what we can do,” says Jill. “The closure announcement is on Facebook, and ideally we’d like to sell Dress Circle as a going concern, and we’d love it to go locally preferably.”

Stephen reflects on the path ahead. “Time goes on and there comes a time when you have to say, ‘it’s time to move on’…

…“But there is room for this business still to grow if someone takes it on,” urges Jill, who can be contacted at jill­­_outhwaite@btconnect.com.

Not all theatrical enterprises will be ending at Low Grange Farm. Flying Ducks will continue to rehearse in one of the buildings and Steve will still be making set designs, keeping that wood burner alight.

Thank you to Dress Circle of York, so many shows, so many memories of nights in the theatre and contented customers beyond.   As Nik Briggs, artistic of York Stage Musicals, puts it: “Dress Circle have been a great asset to the York theatre scene. Jill and her team will be a huge miss.

“From creating Broadway-worthy sparkly nuns and a bunch of Seventies’ New York gangsters for our production of Sister Act, to creating a wardrobe for our Von Trapp children and the people of Austria on the brink of Anschluss in The Sound Of Music, their work has always been brilliant!”

First Martin Barrass loses one panto, now he loses another as outdoor show is off

Martin Barrass, attired in the late Bev Jones’s favourite colours of black and pink, is pictured publicising the now-cancelled Strictly Christmas Live In The Park

STRICTLY Xmas Live In The Park, with a singalong songsheet led by York pantomime perennial Martin Barrass, is off.

Organiser Lesley Jones confirmed the cancellation of Sunday’s open-air Bev Jones Music Company show at the Rowntree Park amphitheatre on Facebook.

“It is with huge sadness I have had to cancel the Xmas Concert on Sunday 13th. External circumstances forced the decision,” she revealed.

Charlotte Wood in the role of Silly Billy for Bev Jones Music Company’s Strictly Christmas Live In The Park

“However, we will be singing at Tesco, Askham Bar, on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December from 1.30pm. Look out for our 2021 calendar. Thank you all as ever.”

In an earlier post, she wrote: “For many, many reasons we are beaten in this strangest of years! We must confess that we have taken the hardest decision to cancel our Strictly Live In The Park.

“You all know how I do always my best to give you the show I promise, but Covid, Tiers, illness, personal etc etc….force the decision.

The cast of Strictly Christmas Live In The Park, with Marin Barrass, front, centre, gathers for a socially distanced early rehearsal

“All ticket monies will be refunded in full. Roll on 2021. Keep in touch, join our Bev Jones Music Group page to find out what’s next.”

On November 29, Lesley had expressed excitement at the upcoming show’s progress. “Only two weeks to go! Tier 2 means we have the green light and we are good to go!” she posted

Strictly Xmas Live in The Park would have added up to a “3 in 1 Xmas experience” with Christmas songs through the decades, carols by candlelight and a one-of-a-kind, specially written pantomime,  Once Upon A Pud.

Martin Barrass, Dame Berwick’s stalwart comic stooge, was already missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House. Now he has to forego leading the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park on Sunday afternoon too.

What? No show? Alas not for Melissa Boyd’s Princess and Terry Ford’s villain in the pantomime section of Bev Jones Music Company’s Strictly Xmas In The Park

In the Covid-secure, socially distanced performance, Martin would have reactivated his first ever song-sheet in a York Theatre Royal panto – all about Yorkshire Puddings – as well as telling a few seasonal jokes.

Joining him in the festive concert’s panto sequence would have been Melissa Boyd’s Princess, Terry Ford’s villain and Charlotte Wood’s Silly Billy, plus a Dame, Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming and Jack Ass.

Favourite Christmas songs, such as Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, and a visit from Father Christmas were in Sunday’s programme too. All audience members were to be temperature tested on arrival and placed into family private bubble areas.

Rehearsals were booked in for Rufforth Institute Hall, socially distanced and under a full Covid risk assessment. 

More Things To Do in York and at home in what’s left of Lockdown 2020 and beyond. List No. 18, courtesy of The Press, York

We face the second wave…but somewhere on the horizon….

AFTER the tiers of a clown, now comes the even greater frustration of Lockdown 2 from today, knocking the growing revival of arts, culture and life in general back into hibernation.

Nevertheless, in one chink of light, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has decreed that theatre companies can continue rehearsing shows in Covid-secure workspaces, behind closed doors, with a view to lockdown being lifted in early December.

Whether that turns out to be a mere fairytale, only time will tell, so please forgive the unpredictability of what may or may not be happening.

Charles Hutchinson picks through the debris of Lockdown 2 to find signs of artistic life for now and the months ahead.

Films, films and yet more films: Aesthetica Short Film Festival has a feast of film to enjoy while being stuck at home in lockdown

It’s started and it won’t finish until November 30: Aesthetica Short Film Festival online

YORK’S tenth anniversary Aesthetica Short Film Festival opened on Tuesday, switching from a spread of historic and modern locations to a digital and live-streamed festival for home entertainment, enlightenment and education on phones, TV sets, tablets and computers.

Films in competition at ASFF 2020 will span animation, documentary, drama, dance, fashion and thriller. This year they will be released in six strands this week, with no fewer than ten programmes per day under the strand titles of Just Another Day On Earth; Humans And Their Environment; Connections: People, Places and Identity; Breaking Down Barriers; Reclaiming Space: Universal And Personal and Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.

Masterclasses, guest speakers, panel discussions, guest film programmes and an industry market are further highlights of an online festival unimpeded by the new lockdown. Go to asff.co.uk for tickets and to download the full programme.

Kate Bramley’s latest podcast: “Some strange and wonderful goings on at the allotment”

Fighting off the new lockdown blues: Badapple Theatre’s Theatre On Your Desktop podcast

GREEN Hammerton’s Badapple Theatre Company has added a new Kate Bramley play to its Theatre On Your Desktop series as it extends its lockdown season of free podcasts. 

Click on https://badappletheatreonyourdesktop.podbean.com/ for The World Is Still Next Door, artistic director Bramley’s account of some strange and wonderful goings on at the allotment as Mo and her young son search for a place to fight off the lockdown blues.

Set during four sunny days in May in deep lockdown, Bramley’s play seeks to capture the power of soundscapes to inspire imagination. “I got really interested in the idea of creating a new short piece with many voices of varying ages and accents, as well as delving into sound montages that evoke settings from our local Yorkshire all the way to Watamu Beach in Kenya,” says Kate. “With a bit of Badapple signature magic-realism thrown in for good measure.”

All roads lead to…21 York wards for York magician and entertainer Josh Benson in York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime next month

Travelling Pantomime, not travailing pantomime, as the show must go on…hopefully: York Theatre Royal’s alternative neighbourhood watch

YORK Theatre Royal began rehearsals in the billiards room on Tuesday for associate director Juliet Forster’s Travelling Pantomime production.

It could still be pot luck whether the first collaboration between Evolution Pantomimes and the Theatre Royal will go ahead, everything hanging on Lockdown 2’s fate, but plans are taking rapid shape to cement the itinerary for a tour of 21 York wards from December 3, plus York Theatre Royal performances too.

Just Josh magician and entertainer Josh Benson, Robin Simpson’s Dame Dolly, Anna Soden’s Fairy/Singing Captain, Faye Campbell’s Jack/Dick and Reuben Johnson’s villainous Fleshcreep/Ratticus Flinch will rehearse three pantomimes, Jack And The Beanstalk, Dick Whittington and Snow White, all scripted by Evolution’s Paul Hendy, for each show’s audience to vote for which panto they want to see.  

Bean team: top row, from left, Jordan Fox, May Tether, Ian Stroughair and Livvy Evans; bottom row, Alex Weatherhill, Emily Taylor, Matthew Ives and Danielle Mullan

The other Jack And The Beanstalk in York this Christmas: York Stage at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, December 11 to 30

YORK Stage are going full team ahead with their inaugural pantomime, to be staged in the Covid-secure John Cooper Studio, where Perspex screens will be in place for the first time for the traverse staging.

Writer-director Nik Briggs has added West End choreographer Gary Lloyd to his production team, proclaiming: We’re taking our West End-worthy panto to the next level with the addition of Gary to our company.”

Jordan Fox, May Tether, Livvy Evans, Alex Weatherhill, Ian Stroughair, Danielle Mullan, Emily Taylor and Matthew Ives will be the cast bringing life to Briggs’s debut panto script.

Yorkshire Pudding Song: Martin Barrass will lead the Song Sheet singing at Bev Jones Music Company’s Strictly Xmas In The Park concert

Barrass is back: Bev Jones Music Company in Strictly Xmas In The Park, Rowntree Park, Amphitheatre, York, December 13, 2pm

MARTIN Barrass will be starring in a York pantomime after all this winter. Dame Berwick’s perennial comic stooge may be missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, but now he will lead the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park.

As part of Bev Jones Music Company’s Covid-secure, socially distanced, open-air performance, Barrass will tell a few jokes and orchestrate the song-sheet rendition of You Can’t Put A Better Bit Of Batter On Your Platter Than A Good Old Yorkshire Pud.

Barrass will wear black and pink to honour the late Bev’s favourite colour combination.

Helen Charlston: Performing at the York Early Music Christmas Festival

Early notice: York Early Music Christmas Festival, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 4 to 13

AS the NCEM website states: “We are planning for these concerts to go ahead and are still selling tickets. If the situation changes, we will of course be in touch.”

Fingers crossed, then, for a socially distanced festival in St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, featuring Palisander, The Marian Consort, Illyria Consort, Joglaresa, The York Waits and Bethany Seymour, Helen Charlston, Frederick Long and Peter Seymour.

Among the highlights, on December 9, festival favourites The York Waits will present The Waits’ Wassail: Music for Advent and Christmas: Carols, songs and dance from across medieval and renaissance England and Europe, played on shawms and sackbuts by York’s Renaissance town band.

Duran Duran: Making their Scarborough Open Air Theatre debut next summer

A hat-trick of new shows on the East Coast: Duran Duran, Lewis Capaldi and Snow Patrol at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

IN quick succession, Duran Duran, Lewis Capaldi and Snow Patrol have been confirmed for Cuffe and Taylor’s ever-expanding programme at Britain’s biggest purpose-built outdoor concert arena.

Booked in for July 7, Birmingham glam pop band Duran Duran will introduce their first new material since 2015, alongside such favourites as Save A Prayer, Rio, Girls On Film and The Reflex.

Lewis Capaldi: “Buzzing” to be back at Scarborough Open Air Theatre in 2021

Glaswegian singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi sold out two nights at Scarborough OAT in 2019 and says he is “buzzing” to be returning on July 25 next summer. “It’s a great venue, the crowds there are always unreal and so here’s to another unforgettable night,” he says.

Snow Patrol’s sold-out 2020 Scarborough show had to be scrapped under Covid restrictions but Gary Lightbody’s band are now booked in for July 3 2021. Tickets for all three shows go on sale tomorrow morning at 9am via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Kate Rusby at Christmas…now online

And what about?

THE Kate Rusby At Christmas tour will not be happening, ruling out her South Yorkshire pub carol concert at York Barbican on December 20.

However, in response to the Covid restrictions, the Barnsley folk nightingale has decided to go online instead, presenting Kate Rusby’s Happy Holly Days on December 12 at 7.30pm (GMT). Expect all the usual Rusby Christmas ingredients: sparkly dress, twinkling lights, her regular folk band, her “brass boys”, Ruby the reindeer and a fancy-dress finale.

Tickets go on sale on Friday (6/11/2020) via https://katerusby.com/happy-holly-day/

Martin Barrass WILL star in a York panto this Christmas, but what’s the show? UPDATED

Martin Barrass: Back in pantoland for Strictly Xmas Live In The Park

MARTIN Barrass will be starring in a York pantomime after all this winter.

Dame Berwick’s perennial comic stooge may be missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, but now he will lead the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park.

Presented by the Bev Jones Music Company in a Covid-secure, socially distanced, open-air performance at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, the show will be a one-off on Sunday, December 13 at 2pm.

Martin Barrass as Queen Ariadne in his last York Theatre Royal pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, last winter

“I met Lesley Jones, widow of the formidable York producer and director Bev Jones, five or six weeks ago about doing a Christmas show to get people out and about on a crisp winter’s day,” says Martin.

“I’m thrilled to be taking part, and if you’re wondering why I’m wearing black and pink in the publicity picture, they were Bev’s favourite colours.”

Producer Lesley says: “We are delighted to welcome Martin into our company for this special guest appearance and he fits in so well to the company personality. He will lead the audience in the Christmas song with a drop-down song sheet.”

Martin Barrass, right, with AJ Powell, Berwick Kaler, Suzy Cooper and David Leonard at the February 14 launch of their debut Grand Opera House pantomime, now put back to 2021. PIcture: David Harrison

“I’ve chosen the first song-sheet I ever did at the Theatre Royal…about Yorkshire Puddings!” reveals Martin, as he breaks into song from memory: “‘You can’t beat a better bit of batter on your platter than a good old Yorkshire Pud!’

“I did that with Berwick in Sinbad The Sailor in 1984, and I always remember thinking, ‘Are they going to respond?’, but of course they did!” Nobody does it batter, Martin!

Expect a few seasonal jokes too from Barrass, who will be joined in the festive concert’s panto sequence by Melissa Boyd’s Princess, Terry Ford’s villain and Charlotte Wood’s Silly Billy.

“In addition, we’ll have the Dame, the Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming, Jack Ass and other characters,” says Lesley.

Charlotte Wood as Silly Billy for Strictly Xmas In The Park

“The concert will include all the favourite Christmas songs, such as Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, as well as the fun panto section for all the family.

“There’ll be a visit from Santa Claus for all the children, followed by a moving Carols By Candlelight finale, encouraging a sing-along for everyone.”

Rowntree Park Amphitheatre will play host to a non-alcoholic Festive Mulled Wine Van, selling hot drinks for all the family, whether tea, coffee, hot apple juice or children’s drinks, served with light complimentary snacks. 

Melissa Boyd’s Princess and Terry Ford’s villain for the Bev Jones Music Company’s Strictly Xmas In The Park

Rehearsals will be held at Rufforth Institute Hall , socially distanced and under a full Covid risk assessment. 

All audience members will be temperature tested on arrival and placed into family private bubble areas.

Tickets cost £5 for children and £10 for adults in bubbles for two to six people, on sale  on 01904 501935 or online at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/concert/strictly-xmas-live-in-the-park/1342/#schedules

Bev Jones Music Company to stage Strictly Christmas Live show at Rowntree Park

The Bev Jones Music Company in a socially distanced rehearsal for last Sunday’s Strictly Live In The Park at Rowntree Park, York

THE Bev Jones Music Company will return to the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, in York, for shows at Christmas and next Easter.

“Further to the overwhelming success of our musical theatre show there last Sunday afternoon, we’ve booked a Christmas date and Easter date for the park,” says producer Lesley Jones.

September 13’s Strictly Live In The Park concert featured more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band in a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”. 

“Sunday was hot and sunny, whereas December will be scarves and hats, fairy lights and hot mulled wine (non-alcoholic),” says Lesley.

Strictly Christmas Live In The Park will take place on Sunday, December 13 at 2pm. “Our Christmas programme will be a mix of modern popular festive music in a spectacular song and dance show, then will culminate in an audience-led Carols By Candlelight at 5pm. Two shows in one,” says Lesley.

“Our production will be staged and directed by Nathan Lodge and Jordan Langford, two former York stage performers with Bev’s company, who turned professional and have been performing and choreographing all over the world. 

“We’re delighted we’ll be welcoming back other familiar names from our company past, plus our current company, resulting in our most talented cast ever.” 

Looking ahead to next spring too, Lesley says: “Easter’s show will have a different musical focus, culminating in our own Jesus Christ Superstar tribute in the park in traditional style.” 

Tickets for Strictly Christmas Live In The Park will go on sale for social bubbles on October 1 at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935. 

More Things To Do in and around York and at home, as opposed to a “social gathering” for the joy of six. List No 14, from The Press

Helen Wilson in a damned spot of Scottish bother in York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York. Picture: John Saunders

MUSICAL theatre in a park, drag cabaret at a sports club, Shakespeare sonnets and songs in churchyards, high-speed film action at an airfield and chamber music online catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye

Graveyard smash of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets, Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York, until Saturday

WHEN York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth bit the dust in March, put on hold by the Covid lockdown, York’s purveyors of Shakespeare’s Sonnet Walks decided to stage a sit-down, but not as an act of protest.

Director Mick Taylor and producer Maurice Crichton hatched a plan to present assorted familiar Shakespeare characters, brought into the modern world, to reflect on the pandemic with an accompanying sonnet.

Holy Trinity’s churchyard, with its five park benches, tree shelter and mown grass, provides an ideal socially distanced open-air setting. Bring a rug, cushion, camp chair, flask and biscuits, suggests Maurice, to performances at 5.45pm and 7pm, plus 4.15pm on Saturday.

Polly Bolton: Sharing a double bill with Henry Parker in the NCEM churchyard

Double bills in another churchyard: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, tonight, September 16 and 17

SONGS Under Skies brings together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts.

The opening night with Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton on September 2 was driven inside by the rain. Fingers crossed for more clement conditions for Wolf Solent and Rosalind tonight, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker on September 16 and Elkyn and Fawn the following night.

Gates will open at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm. 

The Bev Jones Music Company in a socially distanced rehearsal for Sunday’s show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

Musical theatre showcase part one: Bev Jones Music Company, Strictly Live In The Park, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, Sunday, 3pm.

THE Bev Jones Music Company stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band on Sunday afternoon.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”, under the musical direction of John Atkin with choreography by Claire Pulpher.

Expect numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables, all arranged by the late company driving force Bev Jones. Also expect temperature tests on arrival.

Conor Mellor in York Stage Musicals’ first show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York. He will be back for the second one too. Picture: Jess Main

Musical theatre showcase part two: York Stage Musicals present Jukebox Divas, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, September 18 to 20, 7pm

AFTER the sold-out three-night run of York Stage Musicals’ first ever outdoor show last month, producer/director Nik Briggs and musical director Jessica Douglas return to their Rowntree Park psychedelic igloo to stage Jukebox Divas.

Jessica’s band line-up has changed, so too has the singing sextet, with Conor Mellor from the debut show being joined by Dan Conway, Sophie Hammond, Grace Lancaster and Eleanor Leaper.

“With music from We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and more modern releases like + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, audiences will be entertained for 90 minutes with vocal tributes to artists such as Elvis Presley, Queen, Meat Loaf, Katy Perry, Carole King and many more,” says Nik.

Baby Driver: one of the films with high-speed thrills to be screened at AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema at Elvington Airfield

Car experience of next week: AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema, Elvington Airfield, near York, September 18 to 20

AFTER Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema on Knavesmire, now comes a celebration of high-speed thrills and derring-do skills at Elvington Airfield…on screen, courtesy of AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema.

Tickets have sold out already for the September 19 screenings of James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.

Bookings can still be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.

No more kitchen-sink dramas for Velma Celli as York’s drag diva deluxe swaps live-streaming for the great outdoors in Acomb tomorrow

Stepping out of her Bishopthorpe kitchen into the York open air: Velma Celli: An Evening Of Song, York RI Community Sports Club, New Lane, Acomb, tomorrow, 8pm.

AFTER a spring and summer of concerts live-streamed from home, York drag diva Velma Celli takes to the outdoor stage at a sports club.

“The show will be a mixed bag of whatever I fancy on the day – pop, rock, impressions and some musical theatre obviously – and of course requests online. Message me on Facebook,” advises Velma.

Very special guests are promised: definitely York soul powerhouse Jessica Steel will be among them.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 18 to 20

THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, in a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Festival artistic director and cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano. For full details on the programme and on how to watch the concerts, go to ycmf.co.uk.

Strictly between us: Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice’s tour poster for Him & Me next summer at the Grand Opera House, York

One for the 2021 diary: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, July 12

STRICTLY Come Dancing staples Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice will link up for their debut tour together, Him & Me, next year.

Details are sketchy, but the dapper Sevenoaks ballroom king and the Italian stallion say: “This show promises to be the best night out in the Summer of 2021 for all ages…A true dance extravaganza!”

Anton and Giovanni will be joined by a “world-class cast” of dancers and singers for a show produced by Strictly Theatre Co and directed by Alan Burkitt.

And what about…?

A visit to the reopened Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre exhibition in Blossom Street, York. Malton Harvest Food Festival on Saturday. New Light Prize Exhibition, with more than 100 artists, opening at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19. York Walking Festival, running or, rather, walking until Sunday (details at iTravel York website).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris, at the New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery

Bev Jones Music Company to perform Strictly Live In The Park at Rowntree Park

The Bev Jones Music Company cast in rehearsal at York Maze for Strictly Live In The Park

THE Bev Jones Music Company will stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, on September 13.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy” from 3pm to 5m.

“York deserves this fun Sunday afternoon,” says producer Lesley Jones, Bev’s widow. “We just want to give the public, mainly families, the chance to enjoy entertainment once more.

Bev Jones Music Company cast members maintaining social-distancing at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

“The cast are so happy to be performing once again, especially when our big spring production, Calamity Jane, was cancelled by the lockdown in March, just four days before the curtain would have gone up.”

The first York community theatre company to stage a musical theatre concert on this scale since the easing of lockdown, the Bev Jones Music Company will perform “typical Bev Jones spectacular music”.

“All the music was arranged by Bev, the company mentor, so we’ll have a huge variety with numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables,” says Lesley.

The Strictly Live In The Park poster for the September 13 concert

“Every number has been changed to suit the current guidelines regarding singing and live music. The huge dance numbers are limited but we’re adapting what we can.” 

The company rehearsed at York Maze for the first time last week. “We only get three rehearsals to put this show together, because we cannot rehearse indoors yet, and thankfully the Maze allowed us those three rehearsals,” says a grateful Lesley.  

“We have directed the show ourselves; John Atkin is the musical director with his five-piece band; Claire Pulpher is the choreographer and all our usual cast members are performing.”

Taking shape: First day of rehearsals for Strictly Live In The Park at York Maze

Among the company for this Not For Profit production will be Chris Hagyard, Sally Lewis, Larry Gibson, Terry Ford, Kelly Bolland and two returning members, who had moved on to become full-time professional performers, Nathan Lodge and Jordan Langford.

“Our concert has been risk assessed thoroughly and all audience members will have hand sanitisers and temperature checks, plus all seating will be in socially distanced, marked-out bubbles. All the cast will be checked too,” says Lesley. 

“Picnic blankets, rugs and chairs are welcome, as are picnics as there’ll be no public refreshments on sale, in line with Government guidelines. We’ll have a large number of stewards to offer assistance and all safeguards will be in place to ensure that people feel happy and safe in every way.” 

Strictly Live In The Park is strictly an all-ticket event, with tickets on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. Seats will be sold in bubbles for two (£15) or up to six people (£30).