Showtime for Anton and Erin as Strictly duo celebrate Fred, Ginger, Chaplin and Elton

Terpsichorean twirlers Anton du Beke and Erin Boag toast their return to the dancefloor in their first tour since early 2020

LONGSTANDING, long-dancing ballroom couple Anton du Beke and Erin Boag are reunited in Showtime at York Barbican tomorrow night (18/2/2022).

After a fallow 2021, when the pandemic put paid to their tour plans, the Strictly Come Dancing alumni have been on the road since January 28 this winter, playing 30 dates that will take in further shows in Yorkshire at Hull New Theatre on February 22 and 23.

“Not only 2021 was lost,” says Strictly judge Anton. “We lost shows in 2020 as well; we were into the last week of our tour, when were going to play York and then go onto Scotland, so it’s been a while since we danced together.”

Sevenoaks-born Anton, 55, and New Zealander Erin, 46, are taking to the dance floor in Showtime, a “glittering tribute to some of the world’s greatest icons of entertainment”: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Liza Minelli, Elton John and more besides.

Glittering tribute: Anton and Erin are ready to dazzle in Showtime

Returning to dancing after sitting down through the 2021 series of Strictly on the judging panel, Anton says: “To be honest with you. it’s been like ‘wow, I only feel like I’m 28’ because there’s a lot of experience to fall back on.

“We did a few special shows at the back end of last year, like one night in Leeds, where we were only there to do a couple of numbers, and my biggest concern was ‘would the suit still fit’. It did! Then Erin asked, ‘would you do up my zip’, and her dress fitted perfectly too.”

Erin says: “I’m fit! There aren’t many dancers at my age still going strong, but I am, though I’m not the same [dancer] as I was 20 years ago – or even two years ago. But keeping fit is the easiest part. The hardest part is the technical side, but I’ve been really looking forward to the tour as I don’t think anyone will notice that!

“Maybe adrenaline can get you through the first few shows and the presence of an audience can do that too, as well as working with people again, performing with a big orchestra. It’s all about the enjoyment of getting back to dancing again.”

“It’s all about the enjoyment of getting back to dancing again,” says Erin Boag

Six months of preparation have gone into Showtime, a show produced by Raymond Gubbay that combines the dazzle of ballroom couple Anton and Erin with “stunning costumes, fabulous live vocals, a high-energy dance ensemble and a sensational 23-piece orchestra”.

“We have a new sound company working with us, great lighting and costumes,” says Anton. “When there has been no shows, it’s been so much more than Erin and me not being able to put on a show. No shows means no frocks, no work for sound engineers. That’s why it’s important that now that shows are back, the message is clear that people can feel safe to come into a theatre.

“It’s also important that people work harder to make the experience enjoyable, with venues going the extra mile. We get that venues need to be safe, but their job is to make it enjoyable within the safety guidelines. Don’t be officious, be welcoming!”

Anton And Erin in Showtime, York Barbican, tomorrow (18/2/2022), 7.30pm; Hull New Theatre, February 22 and 23, 7.30pm. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

The film flopped but can Rachel Wagstaff’s play crack The Da Vinci Code? Find out at Grand Opera House, York, this spring

Hannah Rose Caton, in character as Sophie Neveu in The Da Vinci Code, at The Temple Church, London,  a location featured in Dan Brown’s story. Picture: Oliver Rosser

THE world-premiere stage adaptation of Dan Brown’s thriller The Da Vinci Code will play the Grand Opera House, York, from May 30 to June 4.

Directed by Luke Sheppard, who was at the helm of the award-winning West End musical & Juliet, the debut tour from January 10 to November 12 will take in further Yorkshire dates in Sheffield, Hull, Leeds and Bradford.

Producer Simon Friend says: “We have a truly stellar cast and creative team bringing The Da Vinci Code to life on stage for the first time, and with Dan Brown’s full endorsement of the show and the talented director Luke Sheppard at the helm, we’re confident that we’ll please devoted fans as well as newcomers to this magnificent story.

“Dan Brown’s epic thriller has been read by millions worldwide and seen by millions worldwide on the big screen, and we’re all looking forward to taking our brand-new stage version to audiences all over the UK.”

Writer Dan Brown says: “I’m thrilled that The Da Vinci Code is being adapted for the stage and excited to see the unique potential of live theatre enhance this story.

Hannah Rose Caton’s Sophie Neveu, Nigel Harman’s Robert Langdon and Danny John-Jules’s Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code. Picture: Oliver Rosser

“The team making the production has been faithful to the book, but will also bring something new for the audience, in what is certain to be a gripping, fast-paced stage thriller and a thoroughly entertaining show.”

Nigel Harman and Danny John-Jules will be performing the roles of Robert Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing up to April 16 in Newcastle, taking in Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from January 25 to 29 and Hull New Theatre from March 1 to 5.

Harman will re-join the tour from the August 30 to September 3 dates at Leeds Grand Theatre until the Swindon run in late-October.

The casting for Robert Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing for the York performances and Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre from November 8 to 12 is yet to be announced.

Other roles go to Hannah Rose Caton, in her British theatre debut, as Sophie Neveu; Joshua Lacy, Silas; Basienka Blake, Vernet; Alasdair Buchan, Remy; Alpha Kargbo, Fache; Leigh Lothian, Collet; Andrew Lewis, Saunière, and Debra Michaels, Sister Sandrine/Marie.

Nigel Harman in character as Robert Langdon: Appearing in Sheffield, Hull and Leeds, but not York and Bradford, in The Da Vinci Code

Should you need a quick refresher course on The Da Vinci Code’s plot, the curator of the Louvre, in Paris, has been brutally murdered. Alongside his body is a series of baffling codes.

Professor Robert Langdon and fellow cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to solve the riddles, leading to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and beyond as they delve deep into the vault of history. In a breathless race through the streets of Europe, Langdon and Neveu must decipher the labyrinthine code before a shocking historical secret is lost forever.

The Da Vinci Code has been adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff (Flowers For Mrs Harris, Birdsong) and Duncan Abel (The Girl On The Train). Director Luke Sheppard, who directed What’s New Pussycatat Birmingham Rep, is joined in the creative team by set and costume designer David Woodhead, video designer Andrzej Goulding,the composition and sound design team of Ben and Max Ringham and lighting designer Lizzie Powell.

Sheppard says: “Cracking The Da Vinci Code open for the stage reveals an epic thriller steeped in theatrical potential, rich in suspense and surprising at every turn. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s brilliant adaptation leaps off the page and demands us to push the limits of our imagination, creating a production that champions dynamic theatrical storytelling and places the audience up close in the heat of this gripping mystery.”

York tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/york; Sheffield, sheffieldtheatres.co.uk; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Leeds, leedsheritagetheatres.com; Bradford, bradford-theatres.co.uk.

Osmond-mania returns as brother Jay launches musical memoir of Seventies’ hit makers. Grand Opera House awaits in 2022

Danny Nattrass, left, Alex Lodge, Ryan Anderson, Jamie Chatterton and Joseph Peacock as The Osmonds. Picture: Oliver Rosser

THE Osmonds: A New Musical, the story of the Seventies’ hit-making brothers from Utah, USA, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on from August 2 to 6 on its 2022 premiere tour.

Further Yorkshire dates will follow at Hull New Theatre from October 18 to 22 and Bradford Alhambra from November 22 to 26 next year for a show whose world premiere will run at Curve, Leicester, from February 3 to 6.

The Osmonds: A New Musical is driven by a story by Jay Osmond, the drumming  brother who sang lead vocals on Crazy Horses, recounting how they were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create multiple smash hits.

From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show from 1962 to 1969, through Osmond-mania pop stardom from 1971 to 1975, to the arrival of The Donny & Marie Show, a variety TV show from 1976 to 1979, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart-topping albums, selling out arena concerts and making record-breaking TV shows. Until one bad decision cost them everything. 

“I’ve wanted to tell my story for such a long time and the opportunity to create this beautiful musical, a sort of ‘living autobiography’, seemed the perfect way to do so,” says Jay, who first performed with Alan, Wayne and Merrill, later joined by Donny (with Little Jimmy and sister Marie playing their part in the success too).

“I spent my whole life performing live – on stage, on TV specials, in arenas – so the buzz of live theatre felt like the perfect place for me. There were some difficult times in my life, and some big hurdles to overcome, and this musical will tell people things that will surprise them.”

Jay, 66, continues: “But despite that trouble, when you look back and think of the fans, the music, the once-in-a-lifetime things we did, it’s joyful. I guess I want to do this now to try to spread a little bit of that joy. 

“I’ll know I’ve done a good job telling this story if I stand at the back of the theatre and see people waving their arms in the air, singing along and dancing in the aisles. I just want people to be enjoying themselves. I guess that is in the Osmonds’ DNA.” 

The Osmonds: A New Musical will feature such Seventies’ anthems as One Bad Apple, Down By The Lazy River, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Love Me For A Reason, (We’re) Having A Party, Donny’s Puppy Love, Little Jimmy’s Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, Marie’s Paper Roses and more besides. 

The Osmonds have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and won 59 gold and platinum awards, and now Jay pulls back the curtain to reveal the real family behind all these hits: parents George and Olive Osmond and their nine children, Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy.

From Jay’s story, The Osmonds: A New Musical has a book by Julian Bigg and Shaun Kerrison and will be directed by Kerrison, with choreography and musical staging by Bill Deamer. The full casting is yet to be announced.

The seeds of the musical were sown by Jay’s 2013 autobiography, Stages. “I wrote this book about my life. It turned into more of a travelogue,” he says. “I always wanted to do a backstage version that included not only the good times, but the bad and sad times too.”

Whereupon a producer friend had an idea: “He said ‘why don’t you write a living memoir and put it on stage?’ And I thought, ‘Exactly’! I’ve always loved the stage; for me it was one last frontier to conquer. 

“I wrote it from the heart. It was hard. I had to play my drums a lot to get my emotions out, but it all boiled down to this: why did we do what we did? It was because we wanted to help people; to use those talents to do some good in the world. I wanted to put that purpose into the show. I think you can do almost anything in life if you have a purpose.”

More than 30 songs are combined with Jay’s story in the musical. “It was a challenge,” he admits. “It’s about the four brothers who were at the start. I was one of them. The story starts at the 50th anniversary and then goes way back. Each of us has a different perspective, so this is very much my perspective; hard times, fun times, why we did what we did and how we did it as a family.”

Should you be wondering why the world premiere will be in the UK, rather than the USA, Jay reasons: “This is where our family was so welcomed. Osmond-mania kind of happened everywhere, but there was something about the UK; our family was so accepted and so loved here.

“We’ve been to almost every place on the tour list at some point and they are places that hold so many memories. We’ll go to Canada and America too, sure, but it feels right to begin here.”

Jay believes the Osmonds’ musical could not be better timed after the impact of the pandemic. “I want it to be a celebration of helping people out,” he says. “I want people to walk out of the theatre feeling lifted and excited about life; to feel joy. That’s my goal.

“I’m humbled that we’ve been blessed with people who have loved our music and that we might have played a small part in their lives when they have faced challenges. I want them to know how much they have helped me and my family. They are part of The Osmonds. It will feel like a high school reunion when they come to the show.”

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york; Hull, 01482 300306 or hulltheatres.co.uk; Bradford, 01274 432000 or bradfordtheatres.co.uk.

Jay Osmond

Jay Osmond’s back story

JAY was the instigator of many of the projects that kept the Osmond family together and moving forward during all the years of success. He is the youngest of the original Osmond Brothers group, with a career in entertainment that started at the age of two and a half. 

Jay was eight years old when he learned to play the drums and later he collaborated with the brothers on many of the hit records, singing lead vocals on 1972’s Crazy Horses, their best-selling international single. 

He choreographed the shows for the Osmond Brothers, as well as for Donny & Marie, using a style influenced by his karate skills learned from his personal instructor, action-movie actor Chuck Norris. 

Jay worked behind the scenes as a producer, with production credits for the 1970s’ television programmes The Donny & Marie Show and The Osmond Family Hour, the 1980s’ variety show Marie, the film depiction of the life of the Osmond family, Side By Side, and the family’s 50th Anniversary PBS special and DVD projects. 

He released a solo album, It’s About Time Again, in 2009, and his autobiography, Stages, in 2013.

Did you know?

JAY and brothers Alan, Wayne and Merrill started a barbershop quartet to fund hearing aids for their two older brothers, Virl and Tom. Discovered by Walt Disney in 1961, he mentored them, leading to their invitation to appear on The Andy Williams Show. The rest is pop history.

Did you know too?

JIMMY Osmond played slick lawyer Bill Flynn in Cabaret at the Grand Opera House, York, in April 2009.

Marti in the mood to party as he kickstarts Greatest Hits Tour at Scarborough Spa

All smiles: Marti Pellow returns to the concert platform tomorrow night

GET your dancing shoes on, it’s time to party with Marti, says that Pellow fellow ahead of the opening night of the first leg of his Greatest Hits Tour at Scarborough Spa Theatre tomorrow (9/11/2021).

Next spring’s second leg will bring the former Wet Wet Wet frontman, soulful solo singer and musical theatre star to Hull New Theatre on April 25 and York Barbican on May 3.

“Throughout lockdown, I was inundated by beautiful messages from fans, asking me to please organise a tour once we come out of these terrible times. Twelve million people tuned in for the Lockdown Sessions I did and each one of you has inspired me to make this tour happen this year,” says the 56-year-old Scotsman.

Expect both Wet Wet Wet and solo material. “I finally wanted to put together a show that would celebrate all the wonderful music throughout my career and that I – and I know all of you – fell in love with again through the sessions.

“All through lockdown, when I could only communicate with my fans through my social-media platforms, you – the fans – would ask me to sing songs from the beginning of my career right up to the present day.

“It was a joy to get such great feedback from everyone and got me thinking about a greatest hits tour, where we could all enjoy those songs again and where I could enjoy singing them.”

Cover versions are promised too: “During the sessions, I also got to cover songs from other songwriters that were either favourites of mine, or had been suggested by you all,” says Marti. “I think they resonated with everyone so much that I’m looking forward to including some of them in the shows.”

Selections from Marti’s March 2021 album, Stargazer, will feature as well. “I finally got to write the songs that let me pay homage to all my heroes. I can’t wait to sing those songs live for the first time,” he says.

Tomorrow, the wait will be over. “It’s all about connection, all the things we love about live music that were taken away as we navigated the last year and a half in the strangest time that has ever happened to my industry, when we’ve lost friends from the industry that make performers look good: the sound engineers; the tech crews, the riggers,” says Marti.

“It’s all about connection,” says Marti Pellow as he whet, whet, whets his appetite for launching his Greatest Hits Tour tomorrow in Scarborough

“I could do certain things to keep myself busy, but though you can prepare for a rainy day, you can’t prepare for a rainy year and a half, and our industry was the first to go into storage and the last to come out.”

Marti’s Lockdown Sessions kept that all-important connection with fans with those 12 million hits. “Incredible! Here’s how it happened. I’m going about my business, and I got this wee email from the guys that run my social media, who sent me a wee message from someone asking if I’d sing a song for a relative who had Covid, so I recorded a song into my phone, hoping she would recover, and the response I got to that song was phenomenal,” he recalls.

The series of recordings ensued. “It worked for me because it wasn’t just ‘digital noise’. It really was a sense of connection, and I got just as much from them as everyone else who watched them did,” says Marti.

“James Taylor sent me an email after I did one of his songs and Annie Lennox wrote me a beautiful message too.

“I sang whatever took my fancy or whatever anyone asked for. Me and my musical producer, Grant Mitchell, created the tracks during the daytime, with me recording in the spare bedroom, where there are all these pro-tools going on, and Grant doing all the arrangements, creating the tracks, putting the reverb on.

“You can still see them on Facebook and my YouTube channel, and I also did lots of Q and A stuff, talking about growing up in Clydesdale.”

Now he can look forward to the tour’s opening night, as he enthuses about his fans: “You spoke and I listened. This brand-new Greatest Hits Tour is about finally being able to come together to celebrate love, life, and remember those we may have lost along the way.

“Most of all, it’s about enjoyment and celebrating the here and now. Get your dancing shoes on – it’s time to party with Marti!”

First stop, Scarborough Spa Theatre. “You have to have fish and chips in Scarborough, because we all have so many memories around fish and chips, debating about where you can find the best fish supper,” he says. Any recommendations for Scarborough, let Marti know via his social media.

Marti Pellow: Greatest Hits Tour opens at Scarborough Spa Theatre tomorrow (9/11/2021); box office, scarboroughspa.co.uk. Also: Hull New Theatre, April 25 2022, hulltheatres.co.uk; York Barbican, May 3, yorkbarbican.co.uk.