More Things To Do in and around York as Wuthering Heights goes ‘camp folk musical’. List No. 56, courtesy of The Press

Carr double: Jimmy Carr to play both York Barbican and Grand Opera House

Charles Hutchinson fishes out No Such Thing As A Fish and plenty more besides to hook you in.

Two bites at the cherry of sceptical comedy: Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny, York Barbican, tonight, 8pm; Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday, 8pm

JIMMY Carr will be playing York twice inside a week on his rescheduled Terribly Funny tour, visiting both the Barbican and Grand Opera House.

The host of Channel 4’s The Friday Night Project and 8 Out Of 10 Cats will be discussing terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. “But they’re just jokes,” Carr says. “They are not the terrible things.” 

Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo, he asserts. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk or atgtickets.com/york. 

Jools Holland: Back at the piano with his orchestra in York and Harrogate

National treasure shows of the week: Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, York Barbican, tomorrow, 7.30pm; Harrogate Convention Centre, Saturday, doors, 7pm

PIANIST, bandleader and ringmaster Jools Holland is joined by his 19-piece orchestra for the 2021 autumn tour of his long-running celebration of ska, boogie-woogie and the blues.

The Later presenter, 63, will be welcoming regular vocalists Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall, plus special guest Chris Difford, his former compadre in Squeeze. Lulu is in with a Shout of a guest spot too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Bella Gaffney: Down by the river on new single Black Water. Picture: Esme Mai

Folk gig of the week: Bella Gaffney, York St John University Theatre, Saturday, 7.45pm

BORN in Bradford and educated in Nottingham, singer-songwriter Bella Gaffney now lives in York, performing both in The Magpies trio and solo.

Combining her folk-inspired compositions with her original arrangements of traditional pieces, Bella has a new album on its way in 2022 funded by Arts Council England and York charity Doing It For Liam.

Listen out for the single Black Water, a lockdown-inspired homage to the River Wharfe and its power to connect Bella to family and friends miles away. Katie Spencer supports on a bill promoted by The Crescent in a new venture with York St John. Box office: ticketweb.uk.

Russell Watson: Delighted to be performing again after the lockdowns, singing in York on a Sunday afternoon

Matinee idol of the week: Russell Watson, 20th Anniversary Of The Voice, York Barbican, Sunday, 3pm

REARRANGED from October 9 2020, Salford tenor Russell Watson’s 20th anniversary celebration of his debut album The Voice will be a Sunday afternoon performance.

Watson will be joined by a choir for a matinee concert featuring such favourites as Caruso, O Sole Mio, Il Gladiatore, Nessun Dorma, You Are So Beautiful, Someone To Remember Me and Faith Of The Heart. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

York Musical Theatre Company singers Cat Foster, left, Richard Bayton, Helen Spencer, John Haigh, Henrietta Linnemann and Rachel Higgs step out for Hooray For Hollywood

Escapist nostalgia of the week: York Musical Theatre in Hooray For Hollywood, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm

DEVISED by director Paul Laidlaw, York Musical Theatre Company’s Hooray For Hollywood celebrates songs from Tinseltown’s golden age of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. No

Laidlaw’s slick and sophisticated six-hander show stars Cat Foster, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann, Helen Spencer, Richard Bayton and John Haigh, who will be evoking the days of Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.

The tour poster for No Such Thing As A Fish, full to the gills with facts at the Grand Opera House, York

Podcast transfer of the week: No Such Thing As A Fish, Nerd Immunity, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm

SUITABLE for “anyone with a thirst for knowledge, a taste for puns and a need for belly-laughs”, the weekly British podcast series No Such Thing As A Fish is presented by the geeky researchers behind the BBC Two panel game QI: James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber.

Now, “the QI elves” are on their first tour since 2019, revealing favourite unbelievable facts in their Nerd Immunity live show. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Ash Hunter as Heathcliff and Lucy McCormick as Cathy in Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights at York Theatre Royal

World premiere of the week in York: Emma Rice’s Wise Children in Wuthering Heights, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to November 20

EMMA Rice’s Wise Children teams up with the National Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Bristol Old Vic for Rice’s folk musical, robustly visual account of Emily Bronte’s Yorkshire moorland novel.

Lucy McCormick plays Cathy in this epic story of love, revenge and redemption, now infused, according to the Guardian review, with “unfaithful storytelling”, pastiche, comedy and a “raging camp” tone. Interesting! Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Close, but no cigar: Omid Djalili takes the mic in The Good Times

What better time for The Good Times: Omid Djalili, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 8pm

AFTER experimenting with a Zoom gig where he was muted by 639 people, British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Omid Djalili is back where he belongs:  bringing The Good Times to the stage.

Expect intelligent, provocative, fast-talking, boundlessly energetic comedic outbursts rooted in cultural observations, wherein Djalili explores the diversity of modern Britain. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Kristin Hersh: Electric lady lands in York next spring

Newly confirmed for 2022: Kristin Hersh Electric Trio, The Crescent, York, April 24, 7.30pm

THROWING Muses co-founder Kristin Hersh will return to The Crescent with her Electric Trio, featuring Throwing Muses bass player Fred Abong and drummer Rob Ahlers, from her other band, 50 Foot Wave.

In store is a loud, tight and intense set of material spread across singer and multi-instrumentalist Hersh’s 30-year career that saw Throwing Muses deliver their latest indie rock album, Sun Racket, in September 2020. Ahlers will open the gig in a solo showcase for his album Yellow Throat. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Hollie McNish: Sold-out Say Owt gig on Wednesday

Recommended but sold out already:

SOUL singer Gabrielle’s Rise Again Tour show at York Barbican on Wednesday; poet and author Hollie McNish, hosted by York’s spoken-word crew Say Owt, at The Crescent, York, on Wednesday.

Kevin Poeung as Merlin in Northern Ballet’s Merlin. Picture: Caroline Holden

World premiere of the week outside York: Northern Ballet in Merlin, Leeds Grand Theatre, Tuesday to November 20

OLIVIER Award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie makes his Northern Ballet debut with the epic adventure of Merlin, the world’s most famous sorcerer, who must discover how to master his magic to unite a warring kingdom. Cue heartbreak, humour and more than a little magic. 

McOnie is working with the Leeds company after choreographing King Kong on Broadway and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.

REVIEW, 10/11/2021: Northern Ballet in Merlin, Leeds Grand Theatre ***

DREW McOnie’s dazzling direction of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2016 whetted the appetite for his debut for fellow Leeds company Northern Ballet.

In his first full-length ballet, the Portsmouth-born Olivier Award winner applies his choreographic prowess to the world premiere of Merlin, an epic fantasy adventure, very definitely for a family audience, that would have benefited from being staged in the upcoming holiday season.

Merlin may be billed as “the world’s most famous sorcerer”, but the story that unfolds here needs recourse to Page 4 and 5 of the programme to peruse The Story – At A Glance to be assured wholly of who’s who and what’s what in what Northern Ballet artistic director David Nixon calls “this magical tale with a heart-warming family narrative”.

In a nutshell, “an otherworldly ritual brings with it two mighty Gods. Their union creates an orb that falls to earth and reveals a baby within: Merlin. A young Blacksmith (Minju Kang) finds this helpless child, adopting him in as her own.”

Hence the family appeal of a coming-of-age story with fleet-footed, nimble Kevin Poeung in the role of blossoming wizard Merlin discovering how to use his magical powers to unite the warring kingdom.

The importance of family – in this case Merlin being raised by a strong, principled single mum – provides the everyday beating heart of McOnie’s Merlin, albeit that power struggles and romance are the more obvious headline-making material here.

Northern Ballet go for the epic scale to excite younger audiences drawn to Harry Potter, Star Wars and the Tolkien films: cue sword fights, puppets for a smoke-billowing dragon and wild dogs, and an Excalibur that lights up in the manner of a Jedi lightsabre.

Colin Richmond’s golden set designs are spectacular, even magical, and of course there is magic in the show, but CharlesHutchPress did not find McOnie’s production wholly magical, despite the performances of Antoinette Brooks-Daw’s Morgan, Javier Torres’s Vortigern and Abigail Prudames’ Lady of the Lake.

McOnie has made his name in musical theatre, an artform that comes with narrative in song and book, but dance must fill in the gaps, and the storytelling is not this Merlin’s strongest suit, for all the zest of Grant Olding’s music and the panache of McOnie’s modern choreography, allied to classical steps.

Review by Charles Hutchinson

Hooray! York Musical Theatre Company cast raises a glass to Hollywood’s golden age ahead of Rowntree Theatre show

York Musical Theatre Company cast members Cat Foster, left, Henrietta Linnemann, John Haigh, Richard Bayton, Helen Spencer and Rachel Higgs dress the part for Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola in York

YORK Musical Theatre Company will offer escapism to Hollywood’s golden era after release from the pandemic lockdowns at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

The classic American cinema of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s will be explored in song in the slick and sophisticated six-hander Hooray For Hollywood! from November 8 to 10.

Devised and directed by Paul Laidlawthe piece was first staged at York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007, and now Laidlaw reignites his show with a cast of six – Richard Bayton, Cat Foster, John Haigh, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer in a nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of a bygone era from the MGM, Warner Bros, RKO and Universal studios.

Richard Bayton, left, and John Haigh raise a glass to Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola

“Packed with a classic collection of love songs, torch songs and comic numbers, Hooray For Hollywood! covers iconic artists such as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to name just a few,” says Laidlaw, who recalls the premiere 14 years ago.

“We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the York Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round a few years ago and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Cocktail time for York Musical Theatre Company cast members Rachel Higgs, left, Henrietta Linnemann, Cat Foster and Helen Spencer at Nola

In the lead up to next month’s performances, Laidlaw’s cast members have been Puttin’ on the Ritz in a photo-shoot at the Nola jazz restaurant and bar in Lendal, designed to evoke the glitz and glamour of vintage Hollywood.

“Housed in the old congregational chapel on Lendal, the gold, mirrored decor of Nola was the perfect setting as the cast of six brushed up their white tie, tails and top hats – so to speak! – and posed with martini glasses in the 1920s’ Art Deco atmosphere,” says publicity officer Anna Mitchelson. 

“Richard, Cat, John, Rachel, Henrietta and Helen are now deep into rehearsals for the show, learning intricate harmonies and weaving famous Hollywood melodies together in a unique and clever way.”

Tickets for the 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. 

York Musical Theatre Company say Hooray For Hollywood in escapist November show

Six of the best for Hooray For Hollywood: Paul Laidlaw’s cast for York Musical Theatre Company’s November show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

YORK Musical Theatre Company will head off to Hollywood in November with a desire for escapism from months of pandemic lockdowns.

Devised by director Paul Laidlaw, Hooray For Hollywood’s celebration of songs from Tinseltown’s golden age was first performed by YMTC at the York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007. 

From November 8 to 10 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Laidlaw’s revival of his slick and sophisticated six-hander show will explore the musical masters of the classic Hollywood of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Laidlaw’s cast is made up of four women and two men: Cat Foster, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer, joined by Richard Bayton and John Haigh.

This nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of Hollywood is packed with love songs, torch songs, and comic numbers from the bygone days of  Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Director Laidlaw says: “We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round [a revue of Kander and Ebb’s songbook] a few years ago, and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Tickets for the three 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.