More Things To Do in and around York, from B-movie art attacks to silent Indian cinema. List No. 81, courtesy of The Press, York

Swapping New York for York: King Kong clambers onto York Minster in Lincoln Lightfoot’s exhibition, Revelation, at Fossgate Social and Micklegate Social

AS not only tourists and stag and hen parties invade York, but so do UFOs, dinosaurs, even King Kong, Charles Hutchinson plots an escape route to other delights.

Exhibition launch of the week: Lincoln Lightfoot’s Revelation, Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, today until July 7

SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on unsuspecting York at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social cafe bars from this weekend.

For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future both in retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations.

On show in Micklegate Social from this evening’s 6pm to 10pm launch will be the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social. All works are for sale.

Spiffing chaps Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science at York Theatre Royal

Here comes the science bit: Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science, York Theatre Royal, today, 2pm

GREAT Yorkshire Fringe festival favourites Morgan & West return to York to present their new show Unbelievable Science, full of captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics and bonkers biology.

Spiffing chaps Rhys Morgan and Robert West combine their trademark showmanship and silliness from their decade of magic shows with genuine scientific knowledge and a lifelong love of learning to create a fun science extravaganza for all ages.

Fires, explosions, lightning on stage, optical illusions, mass audience experiments and 3D shadow puppets await all those “wily enough to come along to be intrigued by science”. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Howzat for cricket stories: Test Match Special chat with Tuffers & Agnew at York Barbican

Not just cricket: Test Match Special Live with Agnew & Tuffers, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

PHIL Tufnell and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew take you inside the Beeb’s famous TMS commentary box to share memories from their playing careers and beyond the boundary.

What was it like facing Shane Warne in his prime? Which member of the TMS team never buys dinner? What really happened the night after the 2005 Ashes triumph? Enjoy never-before-seen footage of iconic commentary moments and discover what life is really like watching England from the finest seat in the house. Special guest will be TMS statistics guru and BBC Radio 4 comedy presenter Andy Zaltzman. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Badapple Theatre’s Jess Woodward, Robert Wade and Stephanie Hutchinson in Elephant Rock, part of the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal

Festival of the week: TakeOver, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday

THIS week-long arts festival is organised and run entirely by final-year York St John University students. Unveiling hidden worlds of the unspoken to curious minds of any age, the event combines local and personal stories with an exploration of the wider world through a combination of theatre, memory and art.

Among those taking part will be Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre performing artistic director Kate Bramley’s Elephant Rock on Tuesday at 7.30pm in their first Theatre Royal visit in a decade. For the full programme, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Seeta Devi, one of the early stars of Indian silent cinema, in the role of Sunita in A Throw Dice

Film event of the week: Yorkshire Silent Film Festival presents A Throw Of Dice (PG), National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

A THROW Of Dice, an Indian box-office hit from 1929, rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle in its lavishly romantic story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman.

Based on an episode from The Mahabarata and filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-Indian cast, this silent classic will be accompanied by a live score, improvised by Indian pianist Utsav Lal. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Karen Ilsley, as Dorothy Nettle, and Stuart Leeming, as Jefferson Steel, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ production of A Bunch Of Amateurs

Play of the week: The Stockton Foresters in A Bunch Of Amateurs, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, May 12 to 14, 7.30pm

THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown is Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs, the story of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.

Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, on this occasion by Louisa Littler’s cast of Stuart Leeming, Karen Ilsley, Holly Smith, Russell Dowson, Jane Palmer, Peter Keen and Lynne Edwards. Box office: 01904 400583.

Shed Seven: Chasing winners and Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse

Outdoor gig of the week: Shed Seven, Doncaster Racecourse Live After Racing, May 14

SHED Seven’s live-after-racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders for a third time next Saturday after two false starts.

The York band’s outdoor Donny debut had to be scrapped twice, first booked for August 15 2020, then May 15 last spring, but each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

To book, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Sara Pascoe: Success Story tour will visit York and Harrogate

Tour announcement of the week: Sara Pascoe, Success Story, York Barbican, November 24; Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21 2023

AFTER contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds comedian Sara Pascoe, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Sara Pascoe to examine what it is to be successful in tour show at York Barbican

Success Story-teller: Sara Pascoe

COMEDIAN Sara Pascoe will play York Barbican on November 24 on her 50-date Success Story tour.

Further Yorkshire performances will follow at Sheffield Octagon on November 25, Hull City Hall on March 17 2023 and Harrogate Royal Hall on April 21. Tickets are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour.

Pascoe, now 40, decided she wanted to be famous at 14 years old. Since then, she has auditioned for Barrymore, scared Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruined Hugh Grant’s birthday, but look at her now, she says.

Please look, she needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again…on her “biggest and best tour of her life, where she will be playing in parts of the UK and Ireland that she hasn’t performed at before”.

Dagenham-born Pascoe’s last nationwide tour, LadsLadsLads, culminated in two London Palladium shows, filmed for a BBC2  stand-up special, Sara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads.

Sara Pascoe: “Examining what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us” in Success Story

Since then, things have most certainly changed for Pascoe, she says. After contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds Sara, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.

Comedian, writer and actor Pascoe wrote and starred in the BBC2 sitcom Out Of Her Mind and hosts BBC2’s The Great British Sewing Bee, BBC’s Last Woman On Earth, Dave’sComedians Giving Lectures and Comedy Central’s Guessable.

She has hosted the BBC’s Festival Of Funny and Live At The Apollo’s Christmas Special and appeared as a panellist on Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You?.  Later this year, she can be seen in the new Amazon series Katherine Ryan Backstage.

Pascoe has written and performed in the BBC Radio 4 series Modern Monkey and BBC2’s Sara Pascoe vs Monogamy, a short inspired by her first book, Animal. Her second book, Sex Power Money, was accompanied by a podcast that garnered millions of listens and multiple award nominations.

“Please look. Sara Pascoe needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again”

More Things To Do in York and beyond as something wickedly funny this way comes. List No. 64, courtesy of The Press, York

When shall we three meet again? When the hurlyburly’s done in The HandleBards’ Macbeth at York Theatre Royal

AS the pantomime season draws to a close, Charles Hutchinson turns his focus to new seasons and new reasons to venture out.

The skittish play: The HandleBards in Macbeth, York Theatre Royal, January 25, 7.30pm; January 26, 2pm and 7.30pm

THE HandleBards were the first professional company to play York Theatre Royal after Lockdown 3, lifting the long gloom with a ridiculously funny Romeo And Juliet. Now the three-pronged troupe opens the Spring! Season with an all-female, bewitching, unhinged, bicycle-powered, dead funny take on Macbeth, starring Kathryn Perkins, Natalie Simone and Jenny Smith.

Expect music, mayhem, murders, unusual applications of cycling paraphernalia and more costume changes “than you can Shake a spear at” in this irreverent, skittish romp through Shakespeare’s tragic “Scottish play”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Charles Court Opera in The Mikado, visiting Harrogate Royal Hall on Sunday. Picture: Bill Knight

Oh, Vienna: International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival’s New Year celebration, Harrogate Royal Hall, today and tomorrow, 7.30pm.

ENCHANTMENT awaits in the Magic Of Vienna New Year Gala Concert today when the National Festival Orchestra, conducted by Aidan Faughey, presents works by Johann Strauss, Mozart and Lehar. International opera stars James Cleverton and Rebecca Bottone will be the soloists.

Charles Court Opera’s London production of G&S’s The Mikado will be performed on Sunday night, accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra. Box office: 01422 323352 or at gsfestivals.co.uk.

One Iota: Debut album launch at the JoRo

York album launch of the month: One Iota, supported by Odin Dragonfly, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 21, 7.15pm

YORK band One Iota are launching their debut album, More Than You Take, recorded at the venerable Abbey Road studios, in London, and Fairview Studios, Willerby.

Adam Dawson, James Brown, Andy Bowen and Phil Everard’s alt-pop group grew out of their three-piece tribute to The Beatles – The Threetles, of course – when they acquired a taste for writing their own songs in lockdown.

One Iota’s debut live show promises a full line-up, featuring live string arrangements for the Fab Four-influenced songs marked by rich vocal harmonies, innovative melodies and “more hooks than a cloakroom”. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Jacob George: Soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto at the Academy of St Olave’s January concert

By George, he’s back: Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York, January 22, 8pm

THE Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert features Jacob George, son of musical director Alan George, as soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto. He returns to solo duty for the York chamber orchestra after performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in 2019.

The ASO’s first concert since last September’s sold-out resumption also includes two works inspired by Italy: Schubert’s Overture in the Italian Style, and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony No. 4. Box office: academyofstolaves.org.uk.

Nunkie Theatre Company’s artwork for the third instalment of their M R James Project, A Warning To The Curious

Ghosts at play: Nunkie Theatre Company in M R James’s A Warning To The Curious, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, January 28, 7.30pm

NUNKIE Theatre Company bring two of M R James’s eeriest and most entertaining ghost stories back to life in Robert Lloyd Parry’s candlelit one-man show. Lost Hearts, an early work, is constructed around one of his most memorable villains, the predatory scholar Mr Abney.

Lloyd Parry pairs it with perhaps James’s most poignant and personal story, inspired by his holidays in Aldeburgh: A Warning To The Curious’s account of a young archaeologist being haunted and hunted by the guardian of an ancient treasure. Has the English seaside ever looked so menacing? Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Yvette Stone’s life-size puppet of The Creature, as first seen in Blackeyed Theatre’s Frankenstein in 2016. The new tour visits Scarborough next month. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Monster smash: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

NICK Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel, wherein nothing can prepare Victor Frankenstein for what he creates in pursuit of the elixir of life.

Eliot Giuralarocca’s highly theatrical production combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature, in the life-size form of Yvonne Stone’s 6ft 4inch puppet, operated by up to three actors at once. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Four decades of topical songs and glamour: Fascinating Aida’s Liza Pulman, left, Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson. Picture: Johnny Boylan

Never tire of satire: Fascinating Aida, York Barbican, February 12, 7.30pm

DILLIE Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman’s latest Fascinating Aida tour show features old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard in the first place.

“But the songs are mostly topical and the glamour remains unstoppable,” say the satirists, who have been capturing the political and social fixations of our times for nigh on 40 years, from 1984’s Sweet FA to 2012’s Cheap Flights and beyond. All tickets remain valid from the postponed May 5 2021 date. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Marc Almond fronting The Loveless, headliners at late-October’s Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby

Looking ahead to Halloween: Marc Almond’s The Loveless, headlining the Saturday bill at Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival 2022, Whitby Pavilion, October 29

THE Loveless make their Tomorrow’s Ghosts debut with a headline set of their devilishly dark arts at Whitby Pavilion next Halloween.

In a project designed to take its constituent parts back to where they all began, Soft Cell singer Almond, Sigue Sigue Sputnik axeman Neal X, Iggy Pop’s touring rhythm section of Mat Hector and Ben Ellis and haunting Hammond organist James Beaumont “pledge themselves to the pulp appeal of garage rock in its rawest, most gripping guise”.

The Loveless draw material from Almond’s expansive back catalogue, Lou Reed and David Bowie’s canons, warped 1960s’ R&B staples and lost garage-rock gems. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/tomorrows-ghosts-festival.

Artist Stephen Todd in his Sheffield studio

Weekend opening: Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, today and tomorrow

NEW year, New Beginnings and a website “going live again at last” adds up to the start of 2022 for Ann Petherick’s gallery in her home at Kentmere House, York.

Among the works on show today and tomorrow from 11am to 5pm are Allotments In Autumn paintings by featured artist Stephen Todd, from Sheffield.

Kentmere House Gallery also will be open for the York Residents Residents’ Weekend on January 29 and 30, 11am to 6pm each day.

International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival marks New Year with trio of spectacular performances at Harrogate Royal Hall

The Best Of Gilbert and Sullivan at Harrogate Royal Hall on Friday

THE International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival is holding a three-day spectacular at Harrogate Royal Hall from January 7 to 9 to mark the New Year.

First up will be The Best Of Gilbert and Sullivan, Friday’s concert that asks the question: which is your favourite Gilbert and Sullivan opera? “There’s no need to decide when you can have a cavalcade of the very best of G&S, from the wonderfully familiar to the surprisingly unfamiliar, performed by the best G&S singers in the world,” says festival trustee Bernard Lockett.

The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company (NGSOC), led by comic baritone Simon Butteriss and accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra, will be taking a whirlwind tour of the Savoy Operas, set in context by fascinating, historical, gossipy anecdotes that evoke the glitter and glamour of the 19th century Savoy Theatre.  

Joining Butteriss on stage will be NGSOC stars Matthew Siveter, David Menezes and Amy Payne; the orchestra will be conducted by David Russell Hulme.

Enchantment awaits in The Magic Of Vienna New Year Gala Concert on Saturday. “Come on a magical journey through Vienna, the musical capital of the world, and celebrate the New Year in style,” says Bernard.

“Our annual gala concert will be an absolute treat, and what a fabulous Christmas present for that special person too. Enjoy a fantastic selection of the most beautiful pieces by Johann Strauss, Mozart, Lehar and more, brought to you by the renowned National Festival Orchestra, conducted by Aidan Faughey. Our soloists include international opera stars James Cleverton and Rebecca Bottone.”

The short winter season concludes with Charles Court Opera’s London production of G&S’s  The Mikado, accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra, on Sunday night.

Behind closed doors at the British Consulate in the Japanese town of Titipu, the scheming, slippery Lord High Executioner is on the cusp of hatching one plot too far, with far-reaching, but humorous consequences for everyone involved, especially when the Mikado arrives.

“Containing such familiar songs as A Wandering Minstrel, I, Three Little Maids From School and I’ve Got A Little List, this punchy and hilarious satire promises to be a treat for operetta lovers and newcomers alike,” says Bernard.

Tickets for the 7.30pm performances are on sale on 01422 323352 or at gsfestivals.co.uk. Looking ahead, the 28th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival will run at Harrogate Royal Hall from August 10 to 21, preceded by Buxton Opera House, Derbyshire, from July 30 to August 6. For more details, go to: gsfestivals.org.

REVIEW: Kate Rusby At Christmas, Harrogate Royal Hall, December 12

COVID crocked Barnsley skylark Kate Rusby’s 2020 carol concerts, replaced by the digital makeshift of a Happy Holly Day livestream from CAST, Doncaster.

Roll on a year, and relentless Scrooge Covid scuppered the first six shows of Kate Rusby At Christmas 2021, Kate herself having caught the lurgy.

Recovered, but still fighting off the last residue of a cough between songs, she was delighted to open the revised tour dates on Yorkshire soil at Harrogate Royal Hall, that icing cake of a beautiful concert hall, on Sunday night.

Christmas decorations interwoven with fairy lights framed the stage apron; Ruby, the decorated nodding reindeer, was in situ to Kate’s right, and everything else familiar to these shows in their 14th year was in place too: Kate’s sparkling party dress; her regular folk band and traditional partners in South Yorkshire Christmas sound, the Brass Boys, their instruments shining oh so brightly, Brass Boy Chris on crutches after a fall.  

Anything missing? Ah yes, the handmade garland normally wrapped around Kate’s microphone stand, ever since being thrown on stage by an enthusiastic woman in Sheffield one Christmas , but suddenly gone AWOL when Kate went looking for the Christmas stage decorations.

New for this year were the lighting projections, mirroring the snowy star design on the “unique” tour T-shirt: “unique”, said Kate, because the dates included the “ghost” shows never to be played (although the Sage show in Gateshead has been moved to from December 9 to 17). Depending on a song’s mood, the backdrop switched from warming red to moody blue to frosty white.

Where better to start than at the very beginning: the chipper opening to the first of five Rusby Christmas albums, Here We Come A-Wassailing, from 2008’s Sweet Bells: the perfect herald to Christmas celebrations, no matter the shroud of uncertainty now descending.

Kate would go on, as always, to explain the roots of these concerts, first prompted by the 200-year tradition of lusty Sunday lunchtime singing in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire pubs of carols banned in Victorian churches for being too jolly, 30 versions of While Shepherds Watched among them!

Through 14 years – or is it 15, as Kate and husband-musician Damien O’Kane debated? – her Christmas repertoire has expanded and broadened. Now it takes in her own winter compositions; carols and wassailing songs from Cornwall, where her cousin lives; festive favourites from the American songbook (Winter Wonderland) and curios (David Myles’s Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo and John Fox’s Hippo For Christmas), while Josh Clark’s percussion has added another dimension.

The diversity is well represented over the two sets, peppered with a costume change to full-length hippo for a Brass Boy; three variations on While Shepherds Watched; joyful carols aplenty; a set of “manly” reels and Christmas tunes with dazzling interplay between brass and folk players, led by O’Kane, and a smattering of Kate’s own “girly” songs.

Duncan Lyall has introduced the Moog – surely the sound of the moon if it made a sound – to Kate’s winter landscapes, wherein the traditional Paradise and Kate’s The Holly King resounded with mystery and magic as the hall seemed to ice over.

Let The Bells Ring, written by Kate after seeing in the New Year and the rise of dawn on a Cornish beach, had our thoughts turning to wishes for a better year ahead, her midnight voice so clear and solitary, mournful yet hopeful too.

Rusby At Christmas has built up its own traditions, topped off by the fancy-dress encore, initially inspired by Nativity plays. In 2019, the theme was the Christmas feast, Kate dressing as a Christmas pudding, the Brass Boys as Brussels sprouts. This time, for Sweet Bells and Yorkshire Merry Christmas, it was films watched every Christmas.

York Barbican awaits on Monday, so let’s keep those films and costumes hush-hush for now. Suffice to say, your reviewer is still smiling at the sight of Kate.

Kate Rusby At Christmas, York Barbican, December 20, 7.30pm. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Review by Charles Hutchinson

Calling all ‘Holly Heads’! Hark, hark, here comes Barnsley skylark Kate Rusby’s Christmas concert at York Barbican

So, this is Christmas for Kate Rusby, South Yorkshire pub carol enthusiast and self-proclaimed Holly Head

KATE Rusby At Christmas is by now as much a winter tradition as mulled wine, mince pies and LadBaby at number one.

In its 14th year, or maybe 15th as Kate and husband musician Damien O’Kane debated at Harrogate Royal Hall on the opening night last Sunday, this celebration of carols banished from Victorian church services for being too jolly returns to York Barbican on Monday night.

Those carols – among them 30 versions of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night – have been sung lustily for 200 years at Sunday lunchtimes from late-November to New Year’s Day in the pubs of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, and have made their way on to five Rusby Christmas folk albums, complemented by Kate’s own winter songs, Cornish carols, Christmas curios and festive favourites.

The tour’s first week was scuppered by Kate’s bout of Covid, but she recovered in time to pick up the sleigh-ride reins at Harrogate last weekend in the company of her regular band and the “Brass Boys”.

Mindful of saving Kate’s voice, Charles Hutchinson sent his questions by email.

How will the set list differ from your last live Christmas shows in 2019, Kate? Have you come across more old pub carols demanding inclusion?! 

“It’ll be quite similar actually, as my current Christmas album is Holly Head, which I released in 2019. So, the set is based around that album and we’ve rejigged the rest of the set list as there are now five Christmas albums, so quite a lot of older songs to go at!

“There’s always more pub carols reminding you to be included next time and another album is planned!”

Have you written any new winter songs since your Holly Head album? 

“I’ve been messing about with new songs, but nothing complete as yet. We’ve been concentrating on my new album to celebrate 30 years touring, so that’s taken most of our time over the last few months.”

Starry, starry night: Kate Rusby in a sparkly party dress at one of her Christmas concerts. Mike Ainscoe

What’s the set design for the 2021 Christmas show?

“We have a lot of twinkle and sparkle; we have the return of our giant crocheted snowflakes, which I adore. We haven’t used them in a few years, so I’m delighted to have them back on tour again.

“Oh, and our Ruby Reindeer will be joining us on stage of course! She deserves her own horse box as she’s toured with us for so long now.” 

Would you agree that Christmas concerts are needed more than ever after the silent darkness of last winter and beyond?

“Yes, completely! Any concerts, all the concerts!! We are social creatures; humans have been singing together since time began. It’s proven to release happy hormones in the brain when we sing, and even more so when we sing with others. It’s so lovely to hear people singing away with us.”

Monday at York Barbican closes the live tour. Will there be anything extra that night to mark the finale?

“Ooooh, who knows?! Things like that are a bit on the hoof with me. Depending on occurrences on tour…I’ll keep you posted!”

Where and when will your Jolly Holly Wrap livestream show be held?

“It will be live on the night from a secret location in South Yorkshire on Tuesday! It will be myself and the lads in the band. We wanted to do something for the people who are quite rightly still nervous about coming out to actual gigs, people who struggle to get out to gigs in normal times and people overseas who physically can’t join us.

“It’s such a strange time to tour and I want to include as many people as we can so no-one feels left out. We’ll be performing the songs live with fun and banter from 7pm. You can find the ticket info on my website, katerusby.com.

“We finish the gigs in York on December 20th, so I decided to add another show and we can have a wrap party whilst playing all the songs we love.” 

Kate Rusby, deep in the midwinter greenery for her Holly Head album artwork in 2019

You mention that you have been working on your new album. How is it progressing and when might it be released? 

“Yes, the aforementioned 30th anniversay album, called 30: Happy Returns. It’ll be released in April, just ahead of our 30 tour. Can’t wait! So excited about it all.

“We did an album at 10 years [called 10, naturally], 20 years [20], and 30 has come along all of a sudden! Each of those albums, we looked back at songs I’ve previously recorded and reimagined and re-recorded them, some with special guests.

“We’re doing the same with 30 and I have to say I’m bursting with excitement about the guests on 30; I can’t wait to reveal all.” 

You have adapted so well to lockdown times with concert livestreams and home recordings from “the front room”. Do you envisage this becoming a regular format as part of an artist’s repertoire?

“I’m guessing yes. I really loved the connection with our audience through lockdown; it seemed to bring us closer rather than apart.

“We did a series of little performances from our sitting room; I called them the ‘Singy Songy Sessions’, performing a different song each time. It was lovely hearing the stories from the people who saw them and what the songs meant to them. We plan to do more of them – and to keep streaming a Christmas gig of course.”  

And finally, Kate, are any of this year’s Christmas singles to your liking? Elton John and Ed Sheeran? Maybe Gary Barlow & Sheridan Smith? Or Abba? 

“Hmmmmmmm………”

Kate Rusby At Christmas, York Barbican, December 20, 7.30pm. Please note, tickets bought for Kate’s postponed December 20 2020 concert remain valid. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in York and beyond as the grand old dame is ready to frock’n’roll. List No 59, courtesy of The Pess, York

The boys and gal are back in town: AJ Powell, left, Suzy Cooper, Berwick Kaler, David Leonard and Martin Barrass return to the pantomime stage in Dick Turpin Rides Again at their new home of the Grand Opera House, York. Picture by David Harrison

DAME Berwick rides again, Adrian Mole surfaces, carol concerts abound and contrasting comedy cracks on, all demanding a place in Charles Hutchinson’s diary

Comeback of the week: Berwick Kaler and co in Dick Turpin Rides Again, Grand Opera House, York, December 11 to January 9

DAME Berwick Kaler last took to the pantomime stage in his 40th anniversary show, The Grand Old Dame Of York, on February 2 2019, having announced his retirement. Subsequently, he decided it was the “worst decision he had ever made”, a feeling only compounded by writing and co-directing Sleeping Beauty.

In the tradition of Clive Sullivan and Denis Law, he then switched to the other side in the same city, leaving York Theatre Royal to sign up with the Grand Opera House, along with panto teammates Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell.

Delayed by a year, Dame Berwick now resumes panto business at 75, writing, directing and starring in Dick Turpin Rides Again. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

Hannah King’s Dick Whittington is ready to stride out from York to London in Rowntree Players’ pantomime, Dick Whittington, from today

Community pantomime of the week: Rowntree Players in Dick Whittington, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today until December 11

ROWNTREE Players should have presented Dick Whittington last year, but director Howard Ella and co-writer Andy Welch have now dusted off their script written by satellite in lockdown, freshening it up for 2021.

Martyn Hunter returns to the Players’ panto ranks as King Rat, as does Bernie Calpin as Kit The Cat, joining Hannah King’s Dick Whittington, Graham Smith’s Dame Dora, Gemma McDonald’s Duncan, Marie-Louise Surgenor’s Ratatouille, Geoff Walker’s Alderman Fitzwarren and Ellie Watson’s Alice Fitzwarren. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Native Harrow’s Stephen Harms and Devin Tuel will be airing songs from their fourth album, Closeness, at the Fulford Arms

American gig of the week in York: Native Harrow, Fulford Arms, York, Tuesday, 8pm 

PENNSYLVANIAN folk/rock duo Native Harrow are on the final leg of their tour travels showcasing their beautiful fourth album, Closeness.

Now re-located to Brighton, guitarist-singer Devin Tuel and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms have a new single too, Do It Again, one of six songs recorded when they elected to return to the studio where they had made Closeness to continue living in that world, if only for a few more days. Box office: seetickets.com/event/native-harrow/the-fulford-arms/1471604.

The secret is out: Jack Hambleton will be one of two Adrian Moles in Pick Me Up Theatre’s musical premiere. Picture: Matthew Kitchen Photography

Musical premiere of the week in York: Pick Me Up Theatre in The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, The Musical, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Wednesday to December 18

PICK Me Up Theatre are returning to the Theatre@41 Monkgate stage for the first time since Covid’s first lockdown curtailed Tom’s Midnight Garden in March 2020.

In a change from the initially announced SpongeBob The Musical, director Robert Readman has jumped at the chance to present the British amateur premiere of Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s musical version of Sue Townsend’s 1982 story of teenage diarist Adrian Mole. Ignore the official poster, there will be a 2pm Sunday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.  

Ryan’s laughter: Canada’s dry-humoured comic, Katherine Ryan, discusses life as a Missus at York Barbican

Comedy gig of the week: Katherine Ryan, Missus, York Barbican, Thursday, 8pm

CANADIAN comedian, writer, presenter and actress Katherine Ryan, 38, previously denounced partnerships but has since married her first love, accidentally.

A lot has changed for everyone, and now the London-based creator and star of Netflix series The Duchess and host of All That Glitters will be offering new perspectives on life, love and what it means to be Missus. Box office: yorkbarbicancentre.co.uk.

Ewa Salecka: Directing Prima Vocal Ensemble at Selby Abbey

Reunion of the week: Prima Vocal Ensemble and York Railway Institute Brass Band, Christmas Classics for Voices and Brass, Selby Abbey, December 11, 7.30pm

YORK choir Prima Vocal Ensemble and York Railway Institute Brass Band are uniting for a Christmas concert at Selby Abbey for the first time since 2018.

The choir will sing classical pieces by Morten Lauridsen, Gabriel Faure and John Rutter, while the band’s festive music will include Shepherd’s Song and Eric Bell’s Kingdom Triumphant.

Choir and band will join together for a finale of Gordon Langford’s joyous Christmas Fantasy. Tickets: on 07921 568826, from Selby Abbey or at primachoralartists.com.

York singer Steve Cassidy: Performing at the York Community Carol Concert at York Barbican

Welcome back: York Community Carol Concert, York Barbican, December 12, 2pm

YORK’S Community Carol Concert returns after last year’s Covid-enforced cancellation, with all the participants who missed out in 2020 taking up the invitation to take part in 2021.

In the Sunday afternoon line-up will be the Shepherd Group Concert Brass Band, Dringhouses Primary School Choir, Clifton Green Primary School Choir, Stamford Bridge Community Choir and York singer Steve Cassidy, hosted by the Reverend Andrew Foster and BBC Radio York presenter Adam Tomlinson. Plenty of tickets are still available but online only at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Holly head: Kate Rusby, who coined that term for a Christmas tradition enthusiast, will be in festive mood in both Harrogate and York. Picture: David Lindsay

Carol concert with a difference: Kate Rusby At Christmas, Harrogate Royal Hall, December 12, and York Barbican, December 20, 7.30pm

BARNSLEY folk singer Kate Rusby, her regular band and “the brass boys” have created a Christmas tradition of their own, celebrating South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire pub carols, punctuated by her own winter songs.

For more than 200 years, from late-November to New Year’s Day, these carols have been sung on Sunday lunchtimes in pubs, having been frowned on in Victorian times for being too happy. Not for the first time, the Victorians were wrong. Box office: Harrogate, 01423 502116 or at harrogatetheatre.co.uk; York, yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Nothing to smile about? Jimmy Carr takes a Terribly Funny turn for a third time in York

Looking ahead to a “terrible” 2022: Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, York Barbican, April 15, doors, 7pm

CYNICAL comedian Jimmy Carr will complete a hattrick of York performances of his Terribly Funny tour show next spring.

After playing sold-out gigs at York Barbican on November 4 and the Grand Opera House five nights later, he will return to the Barbican on April 15 with the promise of “all-new material for 2022”.

Carr will be discussing terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. “But they’re just jokes,” he says. “Political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

Prima Vocal Ensemble and York Railway Institute Brass Band reunite for Christmas Classics concert at Selby Abbey on Dec 11

.Prima Vocal Ensemble performing with York Railway Institute Band in Selby Abbey in 2018

YORK choir Prima Vocal Ensemble and York Railway Institute Brass Band are uniting for a Christmas concert on December 11 at Selby Abbey.

The two groups last collaborated in 2018 to perform Karl Jenkins’ Armed Man at the same church to a sell-out audience and are looking forward to working together again.

Prima Vocal Ensemble, under the musical direction of the ever-energetic Ewa Salecka, have been active throughout the pandemic, progressing from the ubiquitous Zoom rehearsals, through small and then larger outdoor gatherings, and onwards to indoor rehearsals with Simulcast participation for those unable to meet in person.

This time last year, the choir was one of the few in the UK preparing for a live recording session, shortly before lockdown.

In a ” “very emotional step forward” for members, the choir gave a live concert in September, performing material largely learned in isolation during lockdown.

“Having missed Christmas celebrations last year, this year means and feels even more important to us,” says Prima Vocal Ensemble director Ewa Salecka

Later this autumn, they were honoured to be asked to sing again with Russell Watson at Buxton Opera House and Harrogate Royal Hall on the Salford tenor’s 20thAnniversary Tour in another milestone for the choir on its journey back to normality.

The Christmas Classics for Voices & Brass concert at Selby Abbey will be special for choir and band alike.  Ewa says: “Having missed Christmas celebrations last year, this year means and feels even more important to us. David Lancaster, director of the fantastic musicians of York Railway Institute Band, and I have prepared a very special Christmas programme and invite everyone to join us.”

Traditional carols and Christmas songs will be performed alongside the directors’ favourites. The choir will sing classical pieces by Morten Lauridsen, Gabriel Faure and John Rutter, while the band has chosen wide-ranging festive music, such as Shepherd’s Song and Eric Bell’s Kingdom Triumphant, based on Christmas themes.

The 7.30pm concert will end with choir and band together performing Gordon Langford’s joyous Christmas Fantasy, woven from the most popular Christmas carols.

Tickets cost £20, £5 for children and full-time students, on 07921 568826, in person from Selby Abbey or at primachoralartists.com/events/christmas-classics-for-voices-and-brass.

The poster for Prima Vocal Ensemble and York Railway Institute Brass Band’s Christmas concert at Selby Abbey

Red Hot Chilli Pipers to play Harrogate Royal Hall in May 2022, two years late

Piping hot…but not until 2022 at Harrogate Royal Hall after Red Hot Chilli Pipers rearranged the gig for a second time since the pandemic started to rule diary appointments

BAGROCK pioneers Red Hot Hot Chilli Pipers will pipe up at Harrogate Royal Hall on May 13 2022, more than two years after the Scots were first scheduled to play there.

The pernicious pandemic’s relentless stranglehold has seen the date moved twice, first from April 24 in Lockdown 1.0 this year to April 10 2021 and now to next spring.

Such an impact that the rearranged 14-gig itinerary will form the Chilli Pipers’ 20th anniversary tour, set for April 28 to June 5 2022. Harrogate Royal Hall will be the only Yorkshire concert, with tickets on sale at harrogatetheatre.co.uk or thegigcartel.com/Artists-profiles/Red-Hot-Chilli-Pipers.htm.

Formed in 2002, the Chilli Pipers popped up for a cameo in The Darkness’s set at the 2004 T in the Park, going on to headline the Scottish festival a decade later.

Now “the most famous bagpipe band on the planet…ever”, they present “bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show that should carry its own health warning”.

In the Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ tool kit is a groundbreaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock and pop anthems that they proudly call “Bagrock”, engineered by world championship-winning musicians, dancers and singers. 

In February 2019, the Chilli Pipers and Glasgow-born singer-songwriter Tom Walker released a piping-hot version  of his debut hit Leave A Light On in aid of Nordoff Robins, the music therapy charity. Their fundraising collaboration came after Walker and the Chilli Pipers performed together at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, before a Scotland versus Italy Six Nations rugby match.

The Chilli Pipers last released a studio album in June 2019, when Fresh Air combined new songs and covers, ranging from Walker’s Leave The Light On to Leonard Cohen´s Hallalujah and Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance, both with Chris Judge on vocals.

Among their career highlights have been winning the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous; playing at the BBC Proms in Hyde Park, NBC Olympics Studio and Rugby World Cup, and recording their 2014 live DVD and CD, Live At The Lake,  at Milwaukee Irish Fest, the band’s American spiritual home by the shores of Lake Michigan.

The poster for Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ 20th Anniversary Tour in 2022, stating tickets will remain valid from the postponed Spring 2021 shows

Harrogate Theatre to stay shut till 2021, so no panto, redundancy talks and what next?

Not so Happy Harry: Tim Stedman, pictured in the 2019-2020 pantomime Snow White, will not be taking to the Harrogate Theatre stage this winter in his 21st silly-billy role

HARROGATE Theatre will remain closed until 2021. No pantomime this Christmas and no safety net for up to 60 per cent of permanent staff, facing redundancy after an upcoming consultation period.

This hammer blow/”sensible action” comes despite Harrogate Theatre receiving £395,000 last month from the Arts Council England Emergency Fund, on top of Harrogate Borough Council funding, to cover losses incurred from March through to September.

And there’s the rub. Only until September, point out chief executive David Bown and chair of the board Deborah Larwood in this afternoon’s joint statement, despite being “extremely grateful” for the financial aid so far.

“Whilst we welcome the Government’s new Cultural Recovery Fund [£1.57 billion across Britain in grants and loans promised by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Chancellor Rishi Sunak on July 5], we still require clarity as to what specifically we can access from the fund, having already been in receipt of Emergency Funding, and there is no certainty of success.”

The emergency press release carried an upbeat headline – “Our Safety Curtain is down for now, but we are still lighting the way for culture in Harrogate” – but behind that curtain, the unbroken reign of Coronavirus continues to stop play.

“Today we are announcing that the Safety Curtain will remain down at Harrogate Theatre until 2021,” the statement forewarns. “This has been an extremely difficult and very sad decision to make, but we feel it is the most sensible action under the current circumstances; not only to protect the safety of our audiences, volunteers and staff but to safeguard the future of Harrogate Theatre.”

In the wake of the Government postponing the re-opening of indoor performance spaces by a fortnight until August 15 at the earliest, and the even Grimmer Reaper blow of the Culture Secretary now saying that any possibility of a Government thumbs-up to theatres being allowed to return to full capacity will not be forthcoming until November…at the earliest, Bown and Larwood have declared their hand.

The still necessary curse of social distancing leaves them as glum as Cassandra. “Our business model relies on at least half of our auditorium being occupied to break even,” they say. “To produce our much-loved pantomime, we need to sell close to 90 per cent of our seats over two months of shows. With social distancing in place across this beautiful Victorian building, we can only fill 20 per cent of the auditorium. This is not financially viable.”

The heavy cloud of a possible second, wintry wave of Covid-19 hangs heavy over Harrogate Theatre, as indeed it does over all indoor theatre, serving as a killjoy to any planning. “Neither can we take the financial risk of paying for and then cancelling shows if the theatre is bouncing in and out of closure, due to possible quarantines or lockdowns,” warn Bown and Larwood. “Therefore, we are suspending or moving all planned activity for this year at Harrogate Theatre into 2021.

“As a direct result of the pandemic, and the dramatic loss of income associated with it, we have no other choice than to scale back the organisation and reduce our overheads in order to survive.”

What does that mean for the staff? “This means that we have been forced to make the incredibly hard decision to enter a period of redundancy consultation with our staff. At the end of this period, we may have to make up to 60 per cent of permanent roles redundant,” say Bown and Larwood.

“To make it through to next year, we will still need to continue our emergency fundraising campaign. Our audiences and the wider community have been incredibly supportive during these extraordinary times [raising more than £100,00 so far]. From the kindness of donations to the publicly led fundraisers, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and generosity shown towards the theatre.

“We accept our responsibility in this special town and must continue doing all we can to secure the future of the theatre. Thank you all for your help and commitment so far.”

Bown and Larwood are not down and out, however, and are looking to bounce back in 2021. “The majority of shows in our autumn season are moving to next year and Cinderella will be dancing at the ball in 2021. If you have tickets for a show during this time, we will contact you to let you know the rescheduled dates of performances.

“As you can imagine, this is a huge task for our small team, so please bear with us and where we haven’t been able to find a new date for you, please consider donating your tickets to the theatre.”

Harrogate Theatre is usually run in tandem with Harrogate Royal Hall and the Harrogate Convention Centre [formerly known as the Harrogate International Centre until a 2017 revamp], but the other two have been commandeered for the Corona war effort as a Nightingale hospital.

“We are working closely with the Harrogate Convention Centre and Royal Hall regarding the use of those venues as a Nightingale Hospital,” say Bown and Larwood. “The action at the theatre does not, as yet, affect these venues. However, we will contact bookers if and when shows are rescheduled or cancelled.

“Harrogate Theatre will also closely monitor what is an ever-changing global situation and will remain flexible to any changes in national policy or guidelines.”

Is there any sign of a silver lining or even autumn fruits? “While the Safety Curtain is down, we remain committed to making and sharing innovative theatre with audiences and participants and in autumn will launch an exciting socially distanced season of special performances and events, both in person and online.”

No details are being released to the media as yet, however. “Our White Rose Members will be the first to find out about these and will also get exclusive access to one-off events,” reveal Bown and Larwood. “Harrogate Youth Theatre and our Associate Artists will continue to be supported throughout the year. Although the doors might be closed, we will endeavour to light the way for the arts in Harrogate alongside our fellow cultural partners.”

To finish on a positive note: “We look forward to the day we raise our Safety Curtain and once again share the magic that live performance in our building brings,” say Bown and Larwood.

“While we understand the impact of this decision, as custodians of our organisation we will do everything in our power to safeguard the company to be able to entertain, educate and inspire for the next 120 years.”