A DEAF comedian and history-charting musicians, a classic thriller and a feminist fairytale, a community choir festival and a prog-rock legend make Charles Hutchinson’s list of upcoming cultural highlights.
Ryedale comedy gig of the week: Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, Steve Day, Ashley Frieze and Carl Jones, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday (23/02/2024), 8pm
THE first Hilarity Bites bill of 2024 will be headlined by Steve Day, who describes himself as “Britain’s only deaf comedian and if there are any others he hasn’t heard them”! Actually, a couple of others have started since he wrote that joke, but it is only a joke after all.
On the bill too are guitar-toting funny man Ashley Frieze, with his charming, daft and warm brand of music-infused stand-up, and Midlands storytelling comedian Carl Jones, a football fanatic who interviews comedy cohorts for his Premier League nostalgia podcast When Football Began Again. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.
Musical tour of the week: Green Matthews: A Brief History Of Music, Pocklington Arts Centre, Friday, 8pm
STRING player Chris Green and woodwind player Sophie Matthews take in 600 years of musical history in 90 minutes, spanning the Middle Ages to the 20th century in a whistle-stop tour of Western music.
Featuring long-forgotten songs, tunes and jokes too, Green and Matthews paint a vibrant and vivid picture of our musical DNA, mixing the familiar and the obscure, the raucous and the reflective and the courtly and the commonplace. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week: Skylights, York Barbican, November 2
YORK band Skylights will play their biggest home-city show yet this autumn, with tickets going on sale on Friday at 10am at ticketmaster.co.uk in a week when latest release Time To Let Things Go has risen to number two in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart.
Guitarist Turnbull Smith says: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon to be headlining the biggest venue in our home city of York, the Barbican. It’s always been a dream of ours to play here, so to headline will be the perfect way to finish what’s going to be a great year. Thanks to everyone for the support. It means the world and we’ll see you all there.”
Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm
PROG-ROCK icon and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 76, is to call time on his one-man shows to concentrate on composing, recording and collaborating, but not before playing York. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” he says. “For those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s 18th May!”
Saturday’s show opens with Wakeman’s new arrangements of Yes material for band and vocalists, followed after the interval by his epic work Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Box office for returns only: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Choirs galore: York Community Choir Festival 2024, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 25, 6pm; February 26 to March 1, 7.30pm; March 2, 2.30pm and 7.30pm
THE 8th York Community Choir Festival spreads 31 choirs across eight concerts over six days at the JoRo. On the opening evening, Easingwold Community Singers will be premiering director Jessa Liversidge’s arrangement of The Secret Of Happiness from the American musical Daddy Long Legs, with permission of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon.
Choirs range from York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to The Rolling Tones, Sounds Fun Singers to York Military Wives Choir, Selby Youth Choir to Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus. Six choirs from Huntington School perform next Friday, taking up all the first-half programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Thriller of the week: Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday
TODD Boyce, best known for playing Coronation Street’s notorious baddie Stephen Reid, will be joined by EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott in Anthony Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller about thrillers, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.
What happens? A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Play of the week: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees
BLUE Beard meets his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. She summons all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign as writer-director Emma Rice brings her own brand of theatrical wonder to this beguiling, disturbing tale.
Applying Rice’s signature sleight of hand, Blue Beard explores curiosity and consent, violence and vengeance, all through an intoxicating lens of music, wit and tender truth. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Comedy gig(s) of the week: Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm; Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, February 29, 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 1, 7.30pm
ROB Auton, Pocklington-raised stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his self-titled tenth themed solo show.
After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Auton turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: York, thecrescentyork.seetickets.com; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Leeds, brudenellsocialclub.seetickets.com.