REVIEW: Black Sheep Theatre Productions in Falsettos, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday ***

Lovers’ kiss: Dan Crawfurd-Porter’s Whizzer, left, and Chris Mooney’s Marvin in Falsettos. All pictures: Chris Lever

FALSETTOS, William Finn and James Lapine’s “very Jewish, very gay” 1992 Tony Award winner, had been made unavailable for the British stage after a London production met with opposition over a lack of authenticity and accuracy.

However, negotiations spanning two years have paid off for “art with a point” York company Black Sheep Theatre Productions, whose director, Matthew Clare, has acquired exclusive UK rights to present the off-Broadway hit.

It would be good to see such persistence rewarded at the box office, but York theatregoers’ resistance to try out unfamiliar works is long established. Nevertheless, the support from Wednesday’s audience was admirably vocal from start to finish.

Matthew Warry’s Jason makes a move on the chess set. Is he a pawn in a game between his father, Chris Mooney’s Marvin, and his mother, Nicola Holliday’s Trina?

Falsettos pairs 1981’s March Of The Falsettos, a humorous study of men’s immaturity, with 1990’s Falsettoland, a graver piece penned in reaction to the devastating impact of the Aids epidemic on New York’s gay community.

In 1979, New Yorker Marvin (Chris Mooney) leaves his wife Trina (Nicola Holliday) and son Jason (Matthew Warry, aged 13) to live with Whizzer (Dan Crawfurd-Porter), his younger lover. They have known each other for nine months, says Whizzer; ten, insists the older, more hooked Marvin. They are arguing already.

Naively, Marvin expects to retain a tight-knit family. A subject he has discussed with his psychiatrist, the neurotic, insomniac Mendel (James Robert Ball), who in turn becomes a listening ear for latest client Trina. So much so, they marry, setting up the family unit Marvin had envisaged.

Nicola Holliday’s Trina with James Robert Ball’s Mendel mid-exercise

All this is expressed in song in a sung-through musical full of Sondheim emotional truths and vexatious Woody Allen humour (especially in Ball’s Mendel). All have their say, not only Marvin and the fast-exiting, exasperated Whizzer, but Trina and Jason too. Mendel listens and listens, cross-legged and looking as awkward as the conversations.

On opening night, sound balance favoured band over voice in this first act, meaning not everything was clear to the ear, for all the heart-felt, often beautiful singing. Such a hindrance to comprehending fully what was going on was detrimental to the show’s impact at this juncture, and the standalone March Of The Falsettos number in luminous white only added to that sense of bafflement.

Ollie Kingston’s choreography was fun here, but that scene came and went like a ghost. Such are the limitations of a sung-through structure, where more narrative would be helpful.

Fresh impetus in Falsettoland: Rachel Higgs’s Cordelia. left, and Helen Spencer’s Dr Charlotte

Post-interval, frustration vanishes. The voices can be heard far better; the singing is more dramatic; the songs are superior, as two storylines play out two years later in 1981: Jason’s preparation for his bar mitzvah and Whizzer’s reunion with Marvin under the spreading cloud of Aids.

Into the story, and very welcome too, come Marvin and Whizzer’s lesbian neighbours, Dr Charlotte (Helen Spencer), struggling with the rising tide of Aids patients, and girlfriend Cordelia (Rachel Higgs), forever cooking up another nibble.

Just as Marvin and his family learn to grow up, so Falsettoland is a far more mature piece than March Of The Falsettos. It is better balanced too with the presence of Charlotte and Cordelia being all important. Spencer brings gravitas; Higgs, puppyish devotion, amid the “hospital bed humour”.

Performances all round settle down as the night progresses to match the high quality of the singing. Ball’s Mendel is the comic driving force; Jarry delights as Jason, being pulled hither and thither but remaining single-minded too; Holliday’s resolute Trina handles the big ballads with aplomb.

Hospital drama: Dan Crawfurd-Porter’s bed-ridden Whizzer with Helen Spencer’s Dr Charlotte, left, Rachel Higgs’s Cordelia, Chris Mooney’s Marvin, James Robert Ball’s Mendel, Nicoloa Holliday’s Trina and Matthew Warry’s Jason (seated)

In a heightened drama without conventional heroes and villains, the gay characters of Marvin and Whizzer are depicted with three-dimensional complexity, devoid of any stereotyping. They play chess, they play squash, they bicker, they learn, their love blossoms, and in turn the stage chemistry of Mooney and Crawfurd-Porter grows too.

Staging Falsettos has been a passion project for Matthew Clare, who leads his four-piece band with suitable conviction from the keyboards, while Kingston’s choreography is alive to both humour and dramatic effect and the building-block set design is practical and amusingly adaptable.

Art with a point? Yes, indeed. Black Sheep Theatre Productions and the JoRo are to be commended for bringing Falsettos to York’s attention. The more variety there is to the city’s theatre portfolio, the better, when playing safe would be the easier path.

Black Sheep Theatre Productions perform Falsettos at 7.30pm tonight and tomorrow;  2.30pm and 7.30pm, tomorrow. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York & beyond, from musical mischief to hen night shenanigans. Here’s Hutch’s List No.32, from The Press

Bull: Headlining The Boatyard Festival at Bishopthorpe Marina today

SHAKESPEARE in gardens, music and magic by the riverside, an LGBTQ musical premiere and a riotous hen party on stage are among Charles Hutchinson’s eye-catchers for upcoming entertainment.

Festival of the week: The Boatyard Festival, The Boatyard, Bishopthorpe Marina, Ferry Lane, Bishopthorpe, York, today, 10am until late

THIS family-friendly music festival will be headlined by ebullient York band Bull. Look out too for Bonneville, Tymisha, London DJ Zee Hammer, Yorky Pud Street Band, The Plumber Drummer, City Snakes, Rum Doodle and Hutch.

Further attractions will be stilt walkers, a hula-hoop workshop, a giant bubble show, magic, face painting, fayre games, stalls, food and drink, with free admission for accompanied children. Box office: head to the-boatyard.co.uk/events/ for the QR code to book.

Four Wheel Drive director Alfie Howle and cast member Alison Gammon park up at the National Centre of Early Music for a garden of delights in A Midsummer Day’s Dream

Crazy chaos of the week: Four Wheel Drive presents A Midsummer Day’s Dream, National Centre for Early Music, York, today at 11am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm

FOUR Wheel Drive, producers of “off-road theatrical experiences” in York, invite children aged seven to 11 and their families to a musical, magical and mystical diurnal reimagining of William Shakespeare’s romcom in the NCEM gardens (or indoors if wet).

Four Athenians run away to the forest, only for the sylvan sprite Puck to make both the boys fall in love with the same girl while also helping his master play a trick on the fairy queen. Will all this crazy chaos have a happy ending? Anna Gallon and Alfie Howle’s interactive 45-minute adaptation will allow children to engage in the mischief-making Midsummer action, performed by Gallon, Katja Schiebeck and Esther Irving. Grab a boom-wacker and book tickets on 01904 658338 or necem.co.uk.

Three in one: Esk Valley Theatre writer, director and actor Mark Stratton

Debut of the week: Esk Valley Theatre in Deals And Deceptions, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, Whitby, until August 26

IN artistic director Mark Stratton’s first play for Esk Valley Theatre, Danny and Jen leave London and head to an isolated cottage in the North York Moors. City clashes with country, dark forces are at work and humorous situations arise.

“We may think we know the person we are married to, but do we?” asks Stratton, who is joined in the cast by Clare Darcy and Dominic Rye. “What someone chooses to show the world is not always who they are. If they trade in deals and deceptions, then a day of reckoning will surely come.” Box office: 01947 897587 or eskvalleytheatre.co.uk.

Is this the hen party from hell? Will best friends fall out in Bridesmaids Of Britain? Find out tomorrow night

Hen party comedy heads to hen party haven: Bridesmaids Of Britain, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 7pm

BILLED as “the girls’ night out to remember”, welcome to Diana Doherty’s Bridesmaids Of Britain. Becky is the overly loyal maid-of-honour whose life unravels as she leads best friend Sarah on a wild ride down the road to matrimony.

Things go awry, however, as competition between Becky and Tiffany – Sarah new BFF (best friend forever, obvs) – over who is the bride’s bestie threatens to upend the wedding planning that has been in the making since primary school. Be prepared for dance-offs, sing-offs and eventually shout-offs at the “hen do of the year”, held in a caravan. Will this wedding story have a happy ending, or will these best friends rip each other apart? Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Dan Crawfurd-Porter’s Whizzer and Chris Mooney’s Marvin in rehearsal for Black Sheep Theatre Productions’ Falsettos, opening at the JoRo on Wednesday

York premiere of the week: Black Sheep Theatre Productions in Falsettos, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee.

YORK company Black Sheep Theatre Productions has been granted an exclusive British licence by Concord Theatricals and composer/lyricist William Finn to stage Finn and James Lapine’s “very gay, very Jewish” musical Falsettos, thanks to the persistence of director Matthew Clare.

In its late-Seventies, early-Eighties American story, set against the backdrop of the rise of Aids, Marvin has left his wife Trina and son Jason to be with his male lover Whizzer, whereupon he struggles to keep his Jewish family together in the way he has idealised. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Pennine Suite: Topping Friday’s bill of York bands at The Crescent

York music bill of the week: Northern Radar presents Pennine Suite, Sun King, Everything After Midnight and The Rosemaries, The Crescent, York, Friday, 7.30pm to 11pm

PENNINE Suite play their biggest headline gig to date in an all-York line-up on a rare 2023 appearance in their home city. The five-piece draws inspiration from the alternative rock movements of the 1980s and 1990s, interlaced with shoegaze and pop melodies, typified by the singles Far and Scottish Snow. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Garden secrets: Which character will York Shakespeare Project veteran Frank Brogan play in Sonnets At The Bar? It’s all hush-hush until August 11

Bard convention: York Shakespeare Project in Sonnets At The Bar, Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Friday to August 19 (except August 14), 6pm and 7.30pm plus 4.30pm Saturday performances

YORK Shakespeare Project returns to the secret garden at Bar Convent for another season of Shakespeare sonnets, this time directed by Tony Froud. Reprising the familiar format, the show features a series of larger-than-life modern characters, each with a secret to reveal through a sonnet.

Inside writer Helen Wilson’s framework of the comings and goings of hotel staff and guests, the characters will be played by Diana Wyatt, Judith Ireland, Sarah Dixon, Frank Brogan, Maurice Crichton, Nigel Evans, Harold Mozley, Froud and Wilson. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Ceridwen Smith in Next Door But One’s The Firework-Maker’s Daughter . Picture: James Drury

Talking elephants of the week: Next Door But One in The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, York Theatre Royal patio, August 12, 11am and 2pm

YORK theatre-makers Next Door But One’s adventurous storyteller travels to Lila’s Firework Festival in this intimate, inclusive, accessible and fun stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel, replete with talking elephants, silly kings and magical creatures.

As Lila voyages across lakes and over mountains, she faces her biggest fears and learns everything she needs to know to become the person she has always wanted to be. Makaton signs and symbols, puppetry and audience participation play their part in Ceridwen Smith’s performance. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Grace Petrie: Switching from folk musician to stand-up comedy act on tour in York, Leeds and Sheffield

Change of tack: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Grace Petrie: Butch Ado About Nothing, The Crescent, York, September 17, 7.30pm

FOLK singer, lesbian and checked-shirt-collector Grace Petrie has been incorrectly called “Sir” every day of her adult life. Now, after finally running out of subject matter for her “whiny songs”, she is putting down the guitar to work out why in her debut stand-up show, Butch Ado About Nothing, on her return to The Crescent.

Finding herself mired in an age of incessantly and increasingly fraught gender politics, the Norwich-based Leicester native explores what butch identity means in a world moving beyond labels, pondering where both that identity and she belong in the new frontline of queer liberation. Petrie also plays Old Woollen, Leeds, on August 31 (8pm) and The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 10 (7.30pm). Box office: gracepetrie.com; York, thecrescentyork.com; Leeds, oldwoollen.co.uk; Sheffield, leadmill.co.uk.

How York company Black Sheep Theatre secured the exclusive UK rights to “unavailable” American musical Falsettos

Dan Crawfurd-Porter’s Whizzer and Chris Mooney’s Marvin in rehearsal for Black Sheep Theatre Productions’ York premiere of Falsettos

YORK company Black Sheep Theatre Productions is running a list of Eight Reasons Not To Miss Falsettos in emphatic block capitals on Facebook ahead of next week’s York premiere at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

One reason: the limited availability. “Falsettos is a show that is not available for licence in the United Kingdom for normal theatre companies to perform,” it reads. “Falsettos is only available by special agreement with the composer, William Finn, and Concord Theatricals for production by Black Sheep Theatre Productions and is very unlikely to be done in the UK any time soon.

“If you miss this production, you won’t be able to find another one any time soon,” it re-emphasises.

For a barrier-breaking LGBTQ+ American musical where “love can tell a million stories”, that statement only tells half the story. Let director Matthew Clare fill in the rest as Black Sheep stick to their mission of making “Art with a point”.

“It’s been done only once before in the UK by a semi-pro company, off-West End, in London. It lasted for a week – there was a big backlash against it as a very gay and very Jewish musical,” he says.

“No-one in the cast was Jewish and lot of the Hebrew in it was pronounced wrongly, leading to a letter being signed by prominent members of the Jewish community and published in the Guardian. Miriam Margolyes and David Baddiel spoke on the matter, and in the light of that letter, pressure was put on to close the production. That’s what happened.

“Subsequently, the performing right were not available in the UK and that’s still the case, but now I have attained exclusive rights for Falsettos in the UK.”

Father and son in conversation in Falsetttos: Chris Mooney as Marvin with Matthew Warry as 12-year-old Jason

How come? “Concord Theatricals have the rights in America, so I contacted them. That was nearly three years, during Covid, saying when everything gets back to normal, how could I make a production happen?” recalls Matthew.

“They initially said, ‘No, there are no rights in the UK’, but I kept pushing and through thatI got in touch with William Finn, the composer.”

First by email, then in conversation. “I talked openly with him, saying I wanted to be faithful to the piece. He’s Jewish, and we have Jewish representation on the production team,” says Matthew.

“My vision for our production was discussed by Concord with William, and they then said, ‘that’s fine, we agree for you to do it’.”

Permission was granted in spring 2022, a rights fee was agreed and paid, and Matthew then dealt directly with Concord in the UK. “It’s still heavily managed by them,” he says. “I’ve talked to them about twice a month, as I also did Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens through them, and because of that they’ve now kind of backed off over the last two months.

“They did stipulate that the child in the show – Jason – has to be male and there could be flexibility with other casting, though it all has to be as stated for gender. The cast also has to have an understanding of Jewish customs, such as  bar mitzvahs, and we made sure the cast was au fait with everything by day one of rehearsals.”

Written by Finn and James Lapine, Falsettos is a Tony Award-winning sung-through musical that combines 1981’s March Of The Falsettos and 1990’s Falsettoland  in its late-Seventies, early-Eighties story of Marvin (played by Chris Mooney), who has left his wife, Trina (Nicola Holliday) and 12-year-old son, Jason (Matthew Warry), to be with his male lover, Whizzer (Dan Crawfurd-Porter), and struggles to keep his Jewish family together in the way he has idealised.

Nicola Holliday rehearsing the role of Trina, Marvin’s ex-wife and mother of Jason

“It’s a beautiful and heart-breaking story that explores the definitions of maturity and masculinity through this non-traditional family, and via a character who is immature at the start, as the AIDS pandemic comes to light,” says Matthew.

The cast of seven is completed by James Robert Ball as psychiatrist Mendel Weisenbachfeld, Helen Spencer as Dr Charlotte and Rachel Higgs as her girlfriend Cordelia. Together they must “bring their characters to life and present them in the most realistic and emotionally impactful ways”, as championed in another of the aforementioned eight reasons to see Falsettos.

“In this show, we have a fairly large representation of LGBTQ+ people in the cast and production team, and that brings with it an understanding of the roles and how to play them,” says Matthew of a musical whose characters and roles have played “a significant role in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the theatre community”.

“It’s important that these characters are presented in a realistic and sensitive manner, hooking audiences and ensuring the best possible show for you to watch!

“The themes are timeless, delving into the importance of acceptance, the strength of chosen families, defining masculinity and maturity, and the resilience needed to face life’s challenges. Its messages of love, compassion and unity resonate across the generations and continue to be relevant in our ever-changing world.

“That’s why we did Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens too. Theatre with a point is the best kind of theatre, and I want people to think and reflect on what they’ve just seen after the show.”

Black Sheep Theatre Productions in Falsettos, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, August 9 to 12, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

Take a seat: James Robert Ball, left, in the role of Marvin and Trina’s psychiatrist, Mendel Weisenbachfeld, with Chris Mooney’s Marvin James 

In profile: James Robert Ball, who is playing Mendel Weisenbachfeld

SUMMING up his role in Falsettos, James Robert Ball says: “Mendel is a middle-aged Jewish psychiatrist, an intellectual, but he’s a nervous wreck, trying to solve his own problems by solving everyone else’s.

“He’s treating the main character, Marvin, who has left his wife, Trina, because he’s gay and has stopped the charade of living a married life with a woman. Mendel starts treating Trina too, meddles his way into the family, then marries her and becomes the new father figure to Marvin and Trina’s son, Jason.”

Assessing Falsettos’ characters, James says: “They’re all very fleshed out. No-one is the hero. No-one is the villain. They each have their own neuroses and manipulate someone else but they all have heart too.

“The show is kind of a close observation of family dynamics and messy modern dynamics at that.”

James is a musical theatre composer and lyricist, musical director, actor, author, piano and singing teacher, pianist, accompanist and “Sondheim obsessive”. “I’m a freelance professional musician,” says the piano, trombone and clarinet player. “When I’m in shows as a musician, I’m a professional; when I’m doing a show like this, I’m an amateur.”

Director Matthew Clare originally had James in mind to be the rehearsal pianist, but his performances for York Stage as Mr Mushnik in Little Shop Of Horrors in July 2022 and Baron Bomburst’s spy Goran in a Vulgarian double act with Jack Hooper’s Boris in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in April demanded further roles. Step forward James’s Mendel Weisenbachfeld.

James Robert Ball’s psychiatrist Mendel in conversation with Nicola Holliday’s Trina in Falsettos

“The core of what I’m good at as an actor is that there isn’t much acting required, because Mendel is quite like me, and it’s a ‘schticky’ character again, having done Mr Mushnik with a similar vibe and similar characteristics,” he says.

Broad, physical humour marked out his double act with Jack Hooper in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. “We put a lot of work into that partnership, and particularly for the kids in the audience, it was perfect old-time vaudeville humour,” says James.

“I had a great time working with Jack – it takes loads of effort to look that silly and get that beat going.”

Humour of a different dynamic is at play in Finn and Lapine’s “emotionally truthful” musical, one rooted in verbal volleyball before gradually turning into “hospital/deathbed humour” (or gallows humour, to use a more familiar term). “It’s all about the awkwardness in the moment, like in Woody Allen’s films,” says James.

“Stephen Sondheim is a useful reference here. It’s similar to Into The Woods in how the patter of chatter is translated into song, and how there’s a contrast in song styles with the ballads being more melodic.”

Did you know?

JAMES Robert Ball’s debut novel, A Botanical Daughter, will be published in March 2024. He teaches singing and performance at York Stage School.

Did you know too?

JAMES Lapine has collaborated frequently with Stephen Sondheim, as well as William Finn, in his career as a stage director, playwright, screenwriter and librettist, not least on Into The Woods.

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.”