REVIEW: The Woman In Black, PW Productions, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

Pony and trapped: Robert Goodale, left, and Antony Eden in a scene from The Woman In Black. Picture: Tristram Kenton

AFTER 547 barren nights, the Grand Opera House, York, reopened on Monday as a ghost story blew away the cobwebs of pandemic-enforced closure at last.

Jennet Humphrey, the “Woman” in the title of The Woman In Black, has a habit of returning to this already crowded city of ghosts onregular occasions, such is the abiding popularity of Stephen Mallatratt’s stage adaptation that began life at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in novelist Susan Hill’s home town of Scarborough in December 1987.

From that premiere, Robin Herford is still directing the award-garlanded fright-night and Michael Holt’s brilliantly atmospheric set is still adding to the chill factor with its clever use of gauze, a shadowy stairwell, passages, a mysteriously locked door and the faded grandeur of a disused theatre. 

No matter how often you see the show, Rod Mead’s original sound design, now realised on tour by Sebastian Frost, unfailingly will tantalise, taunt, tease and terrify you. Every time!

Likewise, cast members Robert Goodale and Antony Eden are back in Black, albeit working in partnership for the first time on this revived tour of Mallatratt’s two-hander. Goodale was in the company for the last York visit, in November 2019, at the Theatre Royal, one of myriad old haunts for Eden too, who played there in February-March 2013 en route to notching up more than 1,000 performances.

Familiar faces were in the dress circle too. Not the Grand Opera House’s resident ghost, but the ghosts of Theatre Royal pantomimes past, now first-night guests in their new home, as Berwick Kaler, David Leonard, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell gathered ahead of this winter’s Dick Turpin Rides Again.

Robert Goodale, with Antony Eden in the shadows, in The Woman In Black. Picture: Tristram Kenton

First, however, it was time for The Woman In Black’s pony and trap to be ridden again. I say ‘pony and trap’, but it is in fact a wicker trunk. Goodale’s Arthur Kipps, the haunted old solicitor seeking to exorcise the fear that has filled his soul for more than 50 years, looks puzzled.

Use your imagination, advises Eden’s now not-so-young Actor, employed by Kipps to help him turn his rambling book of notes into…well, don’t call it a performance, he says. “I’m not Olivier.”

However, “for my health, for reason”, his story must be told. “I cannot bear the burden any longer,” he says desperate to put his stultifying obsession to bed, to find a peace of mind at last, to end the curse on his family.

At this point, as Kipps and the Actor meet in a dusty old theatre, the tone is lightly humorous, Kipps’ lack of acting talent and sense of drama amusingly apparent; the Actor, sceptical and cocky.

And yet, as if the stage were made of quicksand, we are drawn into what becomes a celebration of the possibilities of theatre and the craft of acting, as much as a superbly executed, drip-drip telling of a ghost story.

In Mallatratt’s play within a play, the drama within takes over from the act of making it. Gradually, by now taking Kipps gravely seriously, Eden’s Actor becomes the young Kipps; Goodale’s stage novice Kipps becomes everyone else, from a convivial hotel manager to a taciturn pony-and-trap driver and an old lawyer, hollowed out by past encounters with the spectral woman in a black cape with a wasted face.

Antony Eden: Adding to his 1,000-plus performances as the Actor in The Woman In Black this week at the reopened Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Tristram Kenton

All the while, in his narrator’s role, old Kipps grows ever more paralysed by resurgent fears as the story unfolds of his ill-fated errand as a young solicitor to the haunted Eel Marsh House: an isolated place forever at odds with its wretched self.

The Woman In Black is old-fashioned, storytelling theatre-making, where not only Kipps, but we too, must engage our imaginations, as Herford eschews high-tech special effects. For example, Spider, a dog, is conjured simply with a click of a finger, a push of a stick, a hand stroke in mid-air, with no need for the distracting presence of a real mutt or puppet.

The terrifying theatrical re-enactment is rendered with only two chairs, a trunk of papers, a hanging rail of costume props, dust sheets over the stage apron and a frayed theatre curtain.

Then add smoke to create a disorientating murk that spreads over the auditorium, transforming the stalls into the eerie marshlands, allied to the restless, intrusive sound effects that thrive on surprise and sudden bursts of noise, from horse’s hooves to piercing screams. All the while, in Kevin Sleep’s lighting design, shadows and darkness wrestle with light for dominance, guaranteeing a sleepless night.

After month after month of silence, the Grand Opera House was being reawakened from its slumber with gasps, shrieks and nervous audience laughter, and we loved it. Goodale and Eden, wonderfully in control of delivering a storyline that is spinning beyond control, maybe forever, clearly love it too.

The Woman In Black will not be vanishing any time soon; the empty rocking chair will keep on rocking to big audiences, newcomers and veteran devotees alike

Review by Charles Hutchinson

More Things To Do in and around York with fishermen, Irishmen and a Scotsman. List No. 48, courtesy of The Press, York

Getting Away With Murder(s) documentary filmmaker David Wilkinson at the gate of Auschwitz 1

AS the Grand Opera House reopens, diaries are starting to fill to pre-pandemic levels, much to the delight of a post self-isolating Charles Hutchinson.

Film world premiere of the week: Getting Away With Murder(s); Everyman York, Blossom Street, York, tonight, 6.30pm to 10.30pm

IT has taken 18 years for Yorkshire filmmaker David Wilkinson to bring his documentary, Getting Away With Murder(s), to the big screen.

Exploring an overlooked aspect of the Holocaust, he reveals that “almost one million people in 22 countries willingly carried out the unprovoked murder of 11 million innocent men, women and children but 99 per cent of those responsible were never prosecuted”.

Wilkinson, who examines the reasons behind the disregard for justice, will take part in a post-screening Q&A. Box office: everymancinema.com.

Fisherman’s Friends: Hooked on sea songs at York Barbican

They inspired a film and now they are back: Fisherman’s Friends: Unlocked & Unleashed, York Barbican, tomorrow, 7pm

CORNISH “buoy band” Fisherman’s Friends – combined aged 401 – re-emerge from lockdown for their Unlocked & Unleashed tour.

As celebrated in the film that shares their name, for 40 years they have met on the Platt of Port Isaac’s harbour to sing the songs of the sea.

In the line-up are lobster fisherman Jeremy Brown; writer, shopkeeper and master of ceremonies Jon Cleave; smallholder and engineer John ‘Lefty’ Lethbridge; Yorkshire-born builder John McDonnell; Padstow fisherman Jason Nicholas; filmmaker Toby Lobb and the new boy, former ambulance driver Pete Hicks. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

One Night In Dublin: One night in York for Irish songs aplenty at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Irish gig/jig of the week: One Night In Dublin, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

SATURDAY night is the chance to spend One Night In Dublin – in York – when “Murphy’s Irish Pub” opens its doors at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Join in the craic as the lively Irish tribute band covers such Irish staples as Galway Girl, Tell Me Ma, Dirty Old Town, Irish Rover, Seven Drunken Nights and Whiskey In The Jar. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Gary Meikle: Scottish comedian in Surreal mode at York Barbican

This experience really is “Surreal”: Gary Meikle: Surreal, York Barbican, Sunday, 8pm

DELAYED from April 8 to this weekend, playfully dark cheeky-chappie Scottish comedian and “viral sensation” Gary Meikel presents his second tour show in York.

Looking to “get away with talking about anything that will have you laughing at things you probably shouldn’t be”, punchy storyteller Meikle draws material from his own experiences, not least his unique family dynamic.

New show Surreal covers such topics as evolution, social media, how to deal with burglars, single mums, bee sex and small-man syndrome. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Exploration of family, myth and memory loss: Second Body’s Max Barton and Jethro Cooke in Styx at Theatre At The Mill

Residency of the week: Second Body in Styx, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday and Tuesday, 8pm

SECOND Body duo Max Barton and Jethro Cooke present their theatre-concert exploration of family, myth, memory loss and Max’s grandma, now with remixed music and bearing wounds wrought by 18 months of disrupted human connectivity.

“What does it mean to lose the memories that make us who we are?” they ask. “How can we continue to be ourselves when we are separated from our loved ones.” Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Back in Black: Robert Goodale and Antony Eden in the ghost story The Woman In Black, haunting the Grand Opera House, York, from Monday. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Re-opening of the week: Grand Opera House, York, for The Woman In Black, Monday to Saturday

AFTER 547 days, the Grand Opera House, York, steps out of the darkness and into The Woman In Black from Monday.

In PW Productions’ latest tour of Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost story, Robert Goodale plays Arthur Kipps, an elderly lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a “Woman in Black” for 50 years now.

Antony Eden is the young Actor he engages to help him tell that story and exorcise his fears, but soon reality begins to blur and the flesh begins to creep. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

Bird song: Henry Bird, pictured in his Vampires Rock days, will be the special guest for You Can’t Stop The Beat

Community concert of the week: You Can’t Stop The Beat, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

GENERATION Groove and Community Chorus are joined by special guest Henry Bird, the well-travelled York singer and guitarist for Tuesday’s fundraiser.

“Concerts and performances have been on hold for well over a year and we’re all delighted to be back getting you singing and even dancing and raising money to help the wonderful Joseph Rowntree Theatre go from strength to strength,” say the organisers. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Waitress: Serving up a slice of musical pie at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday

Musical of the week outside York: Waitress, Leeds Grand Theatre, September 14 to 18

MEET Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of some joy in her life. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life turns more complicated and challenging, but with the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, she finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.

Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s comedy musical stars Lucie Jones as Jenna, Emmerdale’s Sandra Marvin as Becky, Evelyn Hoskins  as Dawn and Busted’s Matt Willis as Dr Pomatter. For tickets:  0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Destiny calling: Kirk Brandon’s Spear Of Destiny are heading to The Crescent in York

Cult band you really should see: Spear Of Destiny, The Crescent, York, September 19

LEADING Spear Of Destiny for 38 years now, Kirk Brandon heads out on their Worldservice@35 tour on the back of releasing last November’s lockdown album.

Brandon’s post-punk band – featuring Adrian Portas (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children), Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy/The Cult /The Mission), Phil Martini (Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind) and saxophonist Clive Osborne – re-recorded 1985’s WorldService album during 2020.

The WorldService@35 tour features the album and B-sides in full plus an extended career-spanning encore at three Yorkshire shows: York, then Leeds Brudenell Social Club on September 21 and The Welly, Hull, September 25.

Pie thrower: Jonathan Pie will vent his anger at the truth vacuum at the Grand Opera House, York

Angriest man of the month award: Jonathan Pie, Fake News (The Corona Remix), Grand Opera House, York, September 19, 7.30pm

JONATHAN Pie, the no-holds-barred fictitious political broadcaster alter-ego of Tom Walker, is resuming his Fake News tour that began in 2019 and had to twiddle its agitated thumbs through lockdown.

In that hiatus, Walker continued to post Jonathan Pie content to his social-media channels, whether commenting on the global reaction to the 2020 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement or woke culture.

Now he unleashes his righteous rage once more on stage. Tickets for the York slice of Pie are on sale at atgtickets.com/york.

Kevin Clifton to turn up the heat again in Burn The Floor at Grand Opera House

Kevin Clifton in Burn The Floor, returning to the Grand Opera House next January

STRICTLY champ Kevin Clifton will return to the Grand Opera House, York, in the hot hit ballroom dance show Burn The Floor on January 21 2022.

“Kevin from Grimsby”, who left BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing professional roster after seven seasons at the end of 2019, last scorched the Opera House boards in May 2019.

After announcing his Strictly exit to make a full-time move into the world of musical theatre, he was set to play there too on the 2020/2021 UK and Ireland tour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical, directed by Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, but the Covid pandemic put paid to the York run from November 23 to 28.

Clifton should have been on tour from September 26 2020 to June 26 2021 in his “dream role” of Scott Hastings, having been inspired by watching Luhrmann’s 1992 Australian film at the age of ten.

Dream role: Kevin Clifton should have played Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom The Musical but the pandemic put a stop to the 2020-2021 tour

He is thrilled to be rejoining his “dance family” once again for next January and February’s tour of Burn The Floor, a show with a “mix of eclectic live music, jaw-dropping choreography and ground-breaking moves, performed by an international ballroom dance company with an abundance of infectious, rebellious energy and passion”.

Clifton, 38, enthuses: Burn The Floor is the show that ignited a spark in me and changed me forever as a performer. Through Broadway, West End and touring all over the world, this show has ripped apart the rule book, revolutionised our genre and inspired and shaped me as the dancer I am today.”

Billed as a “fiery, energetic and revolutionary ballroom production”, Burn The Floor has been packing a punch for more than two decades with its combination of Tango, Waltz and Rhumba routines.

In the heat of the moment: Kevin Clifton with the Burn The Floor company of international ballroom dancers

The 2022 tour has been rescheduled from spring last year, when it was only a week away from opening until Lockdown 1 cast theatres into darkness.

Clifton joined Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, performing in the final five times, missing out only in 2017 and 2019, and was crowned Strictly champion in 2018 with celebrity partner Stacey Dooley, the BBC documentary filmmaker, presenter and journalist.

A former youth world number one and four-time British Latin Champion, Clifton has won international open titles all over the world. After making his West End musical theatre debut in 2010 in Dirty Dancing, he starred as Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer at Wembley Troubadour Park Theatre and as rock demigod Stacie Jaxx in the satirical Eighties’ poodle-rock musical Rock Of Ages in the West End, a role that also brought him to Leeds Grand Theatre in August 2019.

Tickets for Burn The Floor are on sale on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.

Why Antony Eden keeps coming back to The Woman In Black after 1,000 shows

“You could say, I’m a bit of an old hand! I actually first did The Woman In Black when I was 14,” says Antony Eden, who has returned to the role of The Actor. Picture: Tristram Kenton

AFTER 547 days, the Grand Opera House, York, will step out of the darkness and into The Woman In Black from September 13.

Robert Goodale will play lawyer Arthur Kipps opposite Antony Eden as The Actor in PW Productions’ latest tour of Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost story.

Neither is a stranger to performing the torrid tale of an elderly lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a “Woman in Black” for 50 years now.

“That is true,” says Antony. “You could say, I’m a bit of an old hand! I actually first did it when I was 14 after I saw it in the West End. I was already acting, and we wrote to PW Productions , director Robin Herford and Susan Hill to ask if we could put it on in the school theatre at Winchester.”

The answer was affirmative. “James Orr was my co-star…and in fact he came to see me in the show in Cambridge this summer with his son. I’d played The Actor when I was 14, and when we met up afterwards, I said, ‘I’m still playing the same part I was at 14, so I haven’t progressed much’!”

Robert Goodale as Arthur Kipps and Antony Eden as The Actor in The Woman In Black, haunting the Grand Opera House, York, from September 13 to 18. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Antony first performed in Robert Herford’s West End production in 2010, followed by a couple of tours, visiting York Theatre Royal in February 2013, a return to the West End in 2016 and a tour of Asia and Singapore. Now both he and The Woman In Black are back on the road again.

Such is his perennial association with PW Productions’ production that he has become associate director Of The Woman In Black. “I’ve worked with Robert Goodale before because, when he and Danny Easton were doing the last tour, part of my job was to go and see them every six weeks or so,” he says.

That tour spooked out York Theatre Royal in November 2019, but after the lockdown hiatus, Easton has gone west. “He decided not to come back into the tour. He does a running podcast now,” says Antony.

And so, while Danny keeps on running, Antony has resumed the role of The Actor from June 21 at Cambridge Arts Theatre, once more under the direction of the ubiquitous Herford, who directed the premiere of Mallatratt’s splendidly theatrical stage adaptation when it began life as a bonus Christmas show at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1987 in novelist Susan Hill’s hometown of Scarborough.

Gripping moment: Antony Eden as The Actor with Julian Forsyth as Arthur Kipps at York Theatre Royal in February 2013

“We started working together for The Woman In Black and have done many things together since,” says Antony. “I think we have a shared philosophy of theatre, rooted in that Stephen Joseph Theatre, Alan Ayckbourn, Robin Herford mould. I love that small-scale way of making theatre.

“I’ve been a theatre fan since I was nine and I have to say that The Woman In Black is my favourite play. This piece is all about the audience, just as it is for Alan Ayckbourn, who sees the writing as only part of the process: the blueprint for the performance.”

Antony had the joy of performing in writer-director Ayckbourn’s company for the SJT premiere of A Brief History Of Women and revival of Taking Steps in summer 2018. “I was doing a tour of Relatively Speaking with Liza Goddard and Robert Powell that Alan came to see, and then did Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman with Liza and Russell Dixon, one of Alan’s regulars, at Cheltenham,” he recalls.

“When it then came to working with Alan, I’d already got a fair way along that path, as I was in that mindset from working with Robin and I’m naturally inclined to that style of theatre.

Antony Eden as Anthony Spates, Frances Marshall as Lady Caroline Kirkbridge, left, and Louise Shuttleworth as Mrs Reginald ffluke in Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History Of Women. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Alan would apply the philosophy of painting to setting scenes, with the most details for the central character and then the others would fill in the background. My favourite piece of advice from him was: ‘Do as little as you can and then do even less’.”

“Less is more” applies equally to The Woman In Black, where a cast of only two must do everything and yet Mallatratt’s play and Herford’s direction are rich in detail, drawing in the audience hook by hook.

“You really feel they are connected: the performers and the audience,” says Antony. “This play is a drama, a mystery, a whodunit, even a comedy at times; there’s so much to it and it plays to theatre’s strengths.

“To me, what’s important and fun about theatre is that it’s all about empathy the actors have for each other and the audience, and likewise the audience have for the actors. That’s what makes it special. This circle of empathy is what theatre specialises in; there’s no other artform like it for empathy.”

“I’ve been a theatre fan since I was nine and I have to say that The Woman In Black is my favourite play,” says Antony Eden, right. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Antony had been playing Ron in Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in the West End when Covid shutdown theatres, with 12 weeks still to go on his contract at the Palace Theatre.

“It’s a totally different experience from doing A Woman In Black. You have a staff director re-creating John Tiffany’s original direction, whereas Robin Herford is still directing The Woman In Black, and that’s why actors really want to do it because it’s a different partnership each time, two actors, one script, that’s all.

“Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is 50 actors, a script, pyrotechnics, special effects. It’s filmic in its scope, and that’s different from the theatricality that The Woman In Black is all about.

“I’ve done this play more than 1,000 times now and I’ve never once got bored with it.”

The Woman In Black, Grand Opera House, York, September 13 to 18, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

Copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in and around York for Grayson Perry’s ‘normal people’. List No. 47, courtesy of The Press, York

What’s up Duck? The Dead Ducks sketch comedy troupe head for Theatre@41 Monkgate, York

CLOWNS, ominous things, Grayson, James, tango, chamber music, horrible British history and watercolours in teamwork add up to shows aplenty for Charles Hutchinson and normal people alike to check out.

Sketch comedy show of the week: The Dead Ducks: Ducks Out Of Water, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (3/9/2021), 8pm

UNIVERSITY of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks make their Theatre@41 debut with Ducks Out Of Water as a cast of five serves up fun scenes that range from the relatable to the ridiculous.

Be prepared for completely original content in a humorous mix of parody and farce with a delectable side order of top-notch acting.

Look out for pirates, cowboys, clowns and assorted animals, alongside Winnie the Pooh, Sherlock Holmes and Mickey Mouse “like you have never seen them before”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk/events/.

Sunset Gazing, by Suzanne McQuade, on show at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York

Exhibition of the week: Suzanne McQuade, Touch Of Tranquillity, Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, until Octoger 23; open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm

LEEDS watercolourist Suzanne McQuade quit her long-standing customer service job five years ago to take the plunge and become a full-time artist.

“Using watercolours is like teamwork; I have to allow the watercolour to move and merge, and utilise the patterns it creates,” says Suzanne, who loves how this medium’s translucency enables light to flood into her landscapes and seascapes.

Drawing inspiration from the British countryside and coastline, she paints what she finds captivating, from a dramatic sky to underwater rocks. “I try to make the scene in front of me to be as beautiful as possible,” she says.

Alexander Wright: Performing Small, Small Ominous Things with Megan Drury at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington

Open-air theatre show of the week: Small Small Ominous Things, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, Saturday, 8pm

LOOK out for a tiny red gun hidden in the grass; a picture of a puppy eating a toy dinosaur; a dull feeling in the pit of your stomach; a bug burrowing into your skin.

Welcome to a late-night mix of stories, tales and unsettling considerations from partners Megan Drury and Alexander Wright, Australian actor, writer and creative artist and North Yorkshire writer, theatre-maker and visionary facilitator respectively.

Gather around the fire as they collaborate for the first time live At The Mill, bringing small, small ominous things out into late-summer’s fading light. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/

Making a splash: The new Normal for artist Grayson Perry, performing on tour at York Barbican

Who-knows-what-to-expect gig of the week: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, York Barbican, Monday, 7.30pm

IN his own words, despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, where Grayson takes you through an enlightening, eye-watering evening wherein this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. “You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.

Grayson asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in a show “sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Home, James? Briefly, yes, when rehearsing at Broughton Hall, near Skipton. Scarborough Open Air Theatre awaits. Picture: Lewis Knaggs

Gig of the week outside York: James, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 9, gates open at 6pm

WHERE better for James to play a summer show in the wake of releasing their 2021 single Beautiful Beaches than at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

The Manchester legends will be combining myriad anthemic favourites with selections from their “sweet 16th” album, All The Colours Of You, released in June.

Fronted by Clifford-born Tim Booth, James are completing a hattrick of Scarborough OAT visits after shows in May 2015 and August 18. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com

Prima Vocal Ensemble artistic director Ewa Salecka with Misatango composer Martin Palmeri

Well worth the wait: Misatango: Prima’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration, Temple Hall, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York, September 11, 7.30pm

AFTER a year’s delay, Prima Vocal Ensemble director Ewa Salecka is thrilled to be holding the York choir’s tenth anniversary concert at last at a socially distanced Temple Hall.

At the concert’s core will be “the fabulous Misa a Buenos Aires, Misatango, an exhilarating fusion of Tango and Latin Mass”, by Argentinian composer Martín Palmeri, performed with the Mowbray Orchestra string quartet, bandoneon virtuoso Julian Rowlands, pianist Greg Birch and mezzo-soprano soloist Lucy Jubb. Box office: primavocalensemble.com.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 16 to 18

CANADIAN pianist Angela Hewitt plays YCMF’s opening recital on September 16 and joins fellow festival artists Anthony Marwood and Pablo Hernan, violins, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Tim Lowe, cellist, for the closing gala concert on September 18, both at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

Marwood, Hernan, Maijala and Lowe play string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at the NCEM on September 17.

Festival director Lowe joins pianist John Paul Ekins for the first 1pm concert at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, on September 17; on the next lunchtime, Ekins plays works that connect Beethoven and Liszt. Box office: tickets@ncem.co.uk.

The Horrible Histories poke fun at Barmy Britain at the Grand Opera House, York, in October

History in the re-making: The Horrible Histories in Barmy Britain, Grand Opera House, York, October 21 to 24

CAN you beat battling Boudicca? What if a Viking moved in next door? Would you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England?

Will Parliament survive gunpowder Guy? Dare you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin? Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria?

So many questions for The Horrible Histories’ Live On Stage team to answer with the aid of the 3D illusions of Bogglevision as skulls hover, dams burst and missiles fly into the family audience. For tickets for Birmingham Stage Company’s eye-popping, gruesome, scary and unbelievable trip through British history, go to atgtickets.com/york.

The Play That Goes Wrong goes wrong in York again and again and again as Grand Opera House return beckons next month

Window of opportunity for mayhem: Mischief in The Play That Goes Wrong

DISASTER strikes again as Mischief’s calamitous comedy The Play That Goes Wrong hits York this autumn.

The Olivier Award and Tony Award winner, now in its seventh year in the West End, will wreak havoc at the Grand Opera House, York, from September 28 to October 3 on its fourth tour.

The show began life on the London fringe when four friends from drama school set up a company under the name “Mischief” on graduating.

After enticing only four paying customers on the first night, The Play That Goes Wrong has since played to two million people worldwide, taking home an Olivier for Best New Comedy in 2015 and a Tony for its subsequent Broadway transfer.

Mischief have enjoyed further West End success with Peter Pan Goes Wrong, A Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Groan Ups, Mischief Movie Night and Magic Goes Wrong, while their debut six-part television series, The Goes Wrong Show, aired on BBC One. The 2020 commission of a Christmas special, Nativity, will be followed by a second series, now in production.

Dogged by bad luck in the play within a play: Cornley Drama Society’s ill-fated performance of The Murder At Haversham Manor in Mischief’s The Play That Goes Wrong

In The Play That Goes Wrong, the (fictional) Cornley Drama Society are putting on a 1920s’ murder mystery, The Murder At Haversham Manor, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong … does! The accident-prone thesps must battle against all the odds to reach their final curtain call, alas for them with ever-more humorous results.

In the 2021 touring cast will be Tom Babbage as Max; Tom Bulpett as Chris; Seán Carey as Jonathan; Leonard Cook as Robert; Edward Howells as Dennis; April Hughes as Sandra; Laura Kirman as Annie and Gabriel Paul as Trevor. Understudies will be Katie Hitchcock, Damien James, Edi De Melo and Aisha Numah.

Co-written by Mischief company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the tour production is directed by Sean Turner, with set designs by Nigel Hook, costumes by Roberto Surace, lighting by Ric Mountjoy and sound design by Andrew Johnson.

The Play That Goes Wrong will be completing a hattrick of York visits after playing the Theatre Royal in April 2014 and the Grand Opera House in May 2018. Mischief’s “criminally good” A Comedy About A Bank Robbery made its York debut at the Opera House in February 2019, with soon-to-return Sean Carey as the ace scene stealer.

Tickets for next month’s 7.30pm evening performances and 2.30pm Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

In a flap: Mischief’s The Play That Goes Wrong is heading for York for the third time

Darkness ends as The Woman In Black is back for Grand Opera House reopening

There’s a ghost in the House: Robert Goodale as lawyer Arthur Kipps and Antony Eden as The Actor in The Woman In Black, on tour at the Grand Opera House, York, next month. Picture: Tristram Kenton

AFTER 547 days, the Grand Opera House, York, will step out of the darkness and into The Woman In Black from September 13.

Robert Goodale will star as lawyer Arthur Kipps and Antony Eden as The Actor in PW Productions’ tour of Stephen Mallatratt’s 1987 adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost story.

The Woman In Black tells the tale of an elderly lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a “Woman in Black” for 50 years now.

“For my health, my reason,” he says, “The story must be told. I cannot bear the burden any longer.”

Robert Goodale: Returning to the role of Arthur Kipps in The Woman In Black. Picture: Tristram Kenton

He duly engages a young actor to help him tell that story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul, but although it begins innocently enough, the deeper they delve into his darkest memories, the more the borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh starts to creep.

The Woman In Black last spooked York audiences at the Theatre Royal in November 2019, after earlier runs there in February 2013 and November 2014. Hill’s ghost is no stranger to the Grand Opera House’s boards either.

Mallatratt’s splendidly theatrical stage adaptation had begun life as a bonus Christmas show at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1987 in novelist Susan Hill’s hometown of Scarborough, and this latest touring production still retains its original director and designer, Robin Herford and Michael Holt. Well, if it ain’t broke, etc etc.

Likewise, Goodale is returning to the role he played at the Theatre Royal in 2019 for a tour that takes in Bath, Guilford, Oxford, Malvern, Shrewsbury, Manchester, Brighton, Glasgow, York, Blackpool, Stoke and Edinburgh.

Robert Goodale, left, and Antony Eden in a scene from The Woman In Black. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Tickets for the Grand Opera House’s September 13 to 18 run are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york.

One final thought: as much as The Woman In Black is a ghost story first and foremost, in Mallatratt’s hands, it is also a celebration of the craft of acting, the power of storytelling and the role of the imagination. All the more reason to welcome the reopening of the Grand Opera House, a theatre with a ghost of its own.

Did you know?

THE show that ran the week before darkness descended on the Grand Opera House under the Covid cloud was…Ghost Stories, Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s “supernatural sensation”, from March 10 to 14 2020.

The Caretaker in Ghost Stories at the Grand Opera House, York, in March 2020

Simon Amstell to head down Spirit Hole at Grand Opera House, York, on autumn tour

Simon Amstell: Playing York, Leeds and Sheffield on Spirit Hole tour

SIMON Amstell will play the Grand Opera House, York, on September 25 on the introspective, abjectly honest comedian, television host, actor, writer and filmmaker’s 38-date Spirit Hole autumn tour.

These shows add up to his first stand-up comedy travels since the 2019 release of his debut bittersweet comedy-drama film, Benjamin, written and directed by Amstell, and his soul-searching 2019 Netflix stand-up special, Set Free.

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.  

Amstell, former saucy host of cult BBC2 pop quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks, previously played the Grand Opera House in May 2008, October 2009 on his Do Nothing tour and May 2012 on his Numb tour.

Six facts about Simon Amstell

Born: Gants Hill, Ilford, Essex, November 29 1979.

Comedy breakthrough: After making stand-up debut at 13 in the wake of parents’ divorce, complicated childhood and confusion aroused by puberty, he became youngest finalist in BBC New Comedy Awards in 1998.

Presenting roles: Nickolodeon (sacked for being “sarcastic and mean to children”, he says); Popworld, Channel 4; and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, BBC2.

TV series: Grandma’s House, from 2010, playing Simon, a mildly self-obsessed, claustrophobic narcissist, trying desperately to heal his broken family in order to feel something real in his life.

Book: Help, subtitled Comedy. Tragedy. Therapy., published in January 2019, with Amstell’s aim of “telling the truth so it can’t hurt me anymore”, driven by compulsion to reveal his entire self on stage. Loneliness, anxiety, depression feature prominently, but you will “then feel happier than you have ever been”.

Film: Carnage, about veganism, written, directed and narrated by Amstell, set in utopian 2067, where animals live equally among humans. Premiered on BBC in March 2017.

‘We really need to put fear behind us,’ says Joe Jackson as he books York Barbican gig

“Sing, You Sinners,” urges Joe Jackson as he announces York Barbican gig for March 17 next year

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 at York Barbican on March 17 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of his 29-date British and European tour. Tickets go on sale today at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

To find out when singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer and bandleader Jackson last played York, head to the fact file below.

He will be touring with the same band that accompanied him on his Four Decade Tour in 2019 and that year’s studio album, Fool: Graham Maby, ever present since Joe Jackson Band days, on bass; Teddy Kumpel, on guitar, and Doug Yowell, on drums and electronics, all contributing backing vocals too.

Sing, You Sinners will feature both the full band and a “mini-set” of Jackson solo, the set list being drawn from his whole career, including some not aired live in many years. Watch out for surprises too, he forewarns, not least the promise of “completely new material”.

The 2022 tour will take Jackson to cities he has never played (Saarbrücken, Valencia) or not toured for a long time (Bordeaux, Lisbon, Oporto), as well as seven UK shows and new venues in Berlin, Paris and elsewhere.

Ahead of his travels, Jackson says: “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. Love is the opposite of fear, so if you love live music, come out and support it!”

Say it ain’t so, Joe. He was once in a band called Edward Bear, you know….

Joe Jackson Fact File

Full name: David Ian “Joe” Jackson.

Why “Joe”? Acquired nickname based on perceived resemblance to British television puppet character Joe 90.

Born: August 11 1954, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire.

Raised: Swadlincote, Derbyshire (briefly); Portsmouth, Gosport, Hampshire.

Education: After playing piano in bars from 16, won scholarship to study musical composition at Royal Academy of Music, London.

First band: Edward Bear, later renamed Arms And Legs. Broke up in 1976 after two unsuccessful singles. Still known as David Jackson when he joined Arms and Legs, legally changing name to Joe at 20.

Occupation: Singer, musician, songwriter, bandleader, producer, author, campaigner.

Instruments: Piano, keyboards, guitar, saxophone.

Genres: New Wave rock, reggae, jive, minimalist jazz funk, piano ballads, instrumentals, classical, film soundtracks. “People have made too much” of his reputation for often changing tack, he says. “That reputation reduces me to a cartoon, and I certainly don’t change for change’s sake”.

Debut hit: Re-released first single Is She Really Going Out With Him reached number 13 in August 1979.

At his peppery sharpest: the artwork to Joe Jackson’s debut album

Debut album: Look Sharp!, March 5 1979. Named at number 98 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 best debuts of all time in 2013. Initially recorded demo tape in Portsmouth (1977-78) with tour money from cabaret gigs with Koffee’n’Kream; re-recorded after signing to A&M.

Latest album: Fool, 2019.

Studio albums: 21.

Best-known songs: Is She Really Going Out With Him?; It’s Different For Girls; Sunday Papers; I’m The Man; Beat Crazy; One To One; Jumpin’ Jive; Steppin’ Out; Breaking Us In Two; A Slow Song; Be My Number Two; You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want).

Quirk of fate: 1991 single Hit Single, from Laughter & Lust, wasn’t a hit.

Grammy history: Five nominations, one win, for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Symphony No. 1 at 43rd awards in 2000.

Out-of-this-world collaboration: Featured on Star Trek icon William Shatner’s cover of Pulp’s Common People on William Shatner Has Been album in 2004.

More contributions to “covers albums”: That’s The Way I Feel Now: A Tribute To Thelonious Monk, 1986; Statue Of Liberty on A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs Of XTC, 1995.

Not forgetting: His own “covers” album, Jumpin’ Jive, June 1981 “musical vacation” in Forties’ swing and jump blues of Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway.

Other collaborations: Left Of Centre, with Suzanne Vega, charting at number 32, 1985, from Pretty In Pink soundtrack. Performed on Show Biz Kids, For No One and One Hand, One Heart on Rickie Lee Jones’s 2000 album, It’s Like This.

Motion picture soundtrack: Featured on Angel and 1913 pub song Hello, Hello, Who’s Your Lady Friend? on The Greatest Game Ever Played, 2005. Made cameo appearance as dapper gent in bowler hat in East End boozer tinkling the ivories.

Autobiography: A Cure For Gravity, 1999. Billed as “book about music, thinly disguised as a memoir”, Jackson charted musical life from working-class, council-house childhood to 24th birthday, deeming pop-star years “hardly worth writing about”.

Campaigner, you say? Yes, against smoking bans in USA and UK. Published 2005 pamphlet The Smoking Issue and 2007 essay Smoke, Lies And The Nanny State and recorded satirical song In 20-0-3.

Gone with the wind: Jackson was among hundreds of artists whose recordings were destroyed reportedly in 2008 Universal vaults fire.

Has Joe ever performed in York? Only once, in June 2005, sharing Grand Opera House bill with Todd Rundgren and improvisational string quartet Ethel.

Milton Rooms to reopen with four May events as Scott Garnham becomes patron

Scott Garnham, the new Milton Rooms patron, pictured when playing the lead in Nativity in the West End, alongside the show’s “secret Santa”, Queen guitarist Brian May, no less

THE Milton Rooms is counting down the days until it can reopen its Malton doors with four events lined up to kick-start the May reawakening.

First up, Yorkshire singer and guitarist Martin Gough returns with his One Man Rock Show on May 21; next, the Dickens Society presents Dickens And The Language Of Flowers, a fascinating talk looking at the meaning of flowers and how the Victorians loved sending secret messages in a well-chosen bouquet, on May 23. 

Ryedale Blues Club resumes blues service with District Blues, a mix of Americana and rockabilly, on May 27, and 2018 Britain’s Got Talent star Mandy Muden brings her magic, cabaret and stand-up comedy to Malton on May 29.

The Market Place arts and community venue has a new patron, the award-winning Ryedale actor, singer and theatrical producer Scott Garnham, a local lad who first appeared at the Milton Rooms in 1995 in a Ryedale Youth Theatre production of The Boyfriend, aged ten.

As well as many annual Ryedale Youth Theatre productions, Scott appeared in multiple pantomimes at the Milton Rooms. He started in Little Red Riding Hood, then played Baby Bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In his teens, he was either the comedy double act or village idiot in Dick Whittington, Aladdin, Goody Two Shoes and Jack And The Beanstalk and shined as Buttons in Cinderella.

After graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, he has carved out a career in the West End, notching up credits in Billy Elliot The Musical, Les Miserables and Made In Dagenham, as well as in Matt Lucas’s Pompidou for the BBC. He has created the international vocal group The Barricade Boys too, playing the Grand Opera House in York in March 2018.

“I will forever owe a huge debt to the Milton Rooms and the people who work so tirelessly to ensure this wonderful community building is still a key part of Malton and the surrounding area,” says Scott. 

‘’It was my first experience of ‘theatre’, being lucky enough to perform with a diverse group of ages, cultures and life experiences. I enjoyed dancing with friends at their many discos and found gifts attending art and craft fairs. 

‘’I feel lucky to have grown up where a community building, such as the Milton Rooms, played such a vital and important role in mine and many other people’s lives. Long may it continue.’’

The Milton Rooms’ Covid-safe accreditation has been extended for 2021 by UK tourism body Visit Britain. Under the Government’s roadmap out of Coronavirus lockdown, indoor entertainment venues are expected to be allowed to reopen after May 17 with Covid-secure restrictions in place.

Venue manager Lisa Rich says: “We’re delighted to have someone like Scott on board and we’re really excited at the prospect of being able to open again in a limited way in May and hopefully fully reopening if all restrictions are removed in June.’’

Tickets for all four events can be booked at: themiltonrooms.com/events/