REVIEW: NE in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, 2.30pm and 7.30pm today ***

Steve Tearle: Director, Narrator and Mystery Man. All pictures: David Richardson

THIS is as much Stephen Tearle’s Into The Woods as Stephen Sondheim’s wickedly witty Broadway show in a fusion of York and New York imaginations.

Sondheim rooted his 1987 Broadway musical in a grown-up twist on the Brothers Grimm stories that casts a new light on such familiar fairy-tale frequenters as Cinderella (University of York student Rebecca Jackson); Beanstalk-climbing Jack (Jack Hambleton); a skipping Little Red Riding Hood (CAPA College and PQA York student Missy Barnes/Rowntree Players panto regular Mollie Surgenor); Rapunzel (Juliette Brenot); Snow White (Elizabeth Farrell) and The Wolf (Ryan Richardson, looking not unlike Sam Smith in their Gloria tour get-up).

James Lapine’s book for Sondheim’s songs centres on the plight of the Baker (Chris Hagyard) and the Baker’s Wife (Perri Ann Barley), a childless couple seeking to lift the curse placed on them by a once-beautiful Witch (a towering performance from Pascha Turnbull).

Flour power: Perri Ann Barley’s barren Baker’s Wife and Chris Hagyard’s Baker in NE’s Into The Woods

Venturing into the woods, they must search for the ingredients that will reverse the spell:  a milk-white cow (Erin Greenley, in white jeans and boots), hair as yellow as corn (from Rapunzel); a blood red cape (from Little Red Riding Hood) and a slipper of gold (from Cinderella).

Here they will encounter the fairy-tale folk, each on a quest to fulfil a wish, and into the story come the likes of Cinderella’s Prince (Sam Richardson), Rapunzel’s Prince (Kristian Barley), Cinderella’s Mother (Rebecca Warboys) and the Ugly Sisters, Florinda (Ali Butler-Hind) and Lucinda (Morag Kinnes).

Sondheim steers a path away from pantomime into terrain altogether darker, behaviour worsening, human foibles bursting through, enchantment turning to disenchantment, living unhappily ever after until the denouement. Steve Tearle nudges the playing style back towards panto, without changing the fruitier post-9pm-curfew content.

Missy Barnes’s Little Red Riding Hood: “Something of the Wednesday Addams about her”

He also introduces a young ensemble to swell the company ranks to 50, playing woodland birds and forest dwellers in pointy ears, who gather at Tearle’s feet in his role as string-pulling Narrator and Mystery Man too. He plays free and loose with the script, interjecting adlibs in his north-eastern accent in the manner of a Dame Berwick Kaler pantomime.

Sondheim’s style is deadpan, even noir, as well as being witheringly witty, as paraded in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street too. Tearle’s style is broader, tongue pushed into the cheek in pursuit of “highly camp fun”, typically expressed in the performances of Richardson and Barley’s Princes and Melissa Boyd as Jack’s Mother, although Missy Barnes’s Little Red Riding Hood on Thursday night had something of the Wednesday Addams about her.

In a “big” joke, Helen Greenley’s diminutive Giant’s Wife arrives in massive platforms and a startlingly deep, echoing, discordant voice – compared by one audience member to Mr Blobby – that brings to mind the Wizard Of Oz at the moment he is exposed as a fraud.

Hagyard and Perri Ann Barley play it closest to Sondheim’s tone, while Pascha Turnbull, regularly cast as “larger than life, formidable women”, takes on the bewitching role she has “yearned to play for many years”, combining the show’s most powerful singing with her suitably domineering presence. Not for the first time, Jack Hambleton stands out as one of York’s rising talents.

Bean there, done that: Jack Hambleton’s Jack of Beanstalk-climbing notoriety

Scott Phillips conducts his musical forces with glee and oomph aplenty; Adam Kirkwood’s rainbow palette of lighting complements Tearle and Faye Richarson’s woodland setting with its camouflage gauze and three rotating scaffolding towers, forever on the move, whether occupied by Jack or Rapunzel or whoever.

The fabulous costumes, designed by award-winning Ashington fashion designer Paul Shriek, go with the many shrieks that pierce the sylvan night air.

Experimental, experiential and wildly ambitious, amber-gambler Tearle’s Into The Woods heads deliriously into the weird. It certainly brings a smile, but would the late Sondheim take Tearle’s tribute as a compliment? We shall never know.

Box office: 01904 501935 or at

Two Matildas and two Miss Trunchbulls add up to double the schoolroom trouble in Pick Me Up Theatre’s unruly musical Matilda Jr

Bookworm Matilda Wormwood (Aimee Dean-Hamilton) takes on the vile headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Jack Hambleton) with her special powers in Pick Me Up Theatre’s production of Matilda: The Musical Jr. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

HOW would Sam Steel, one of a brace of Miss Trunchbulls on Pick Me Up Theatre school play duty, sum up Roald Dahl’s joyous girl-power romp Matilda: The Musical Jr.

“It’s insane!” he decides. “There’s certainly anarchy. Everything that you think will happen won’t happen!”

Pick Me Up’s bright young things – some as young as six ­– are revelling in Robert Readman’s ebullient production all this week at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, led by Sam Steel and Jack Hambleton’s outrageous headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, and Aimee Dean-Hamilton and Juliette Sellamuttu’s Matilda, the precocious, courageous pupil with special powers and limitless imagination, as they alternate performances.

“It’s all about beating the child bully with the help of loveable teacher Miss Honey as they take on the hateful Miss Trunchbull, the Olympic hammer-throwing champion of 1969,” says Robert.  “Not that any Olympic Games were held in 1969, but the line in the song rhymed!

“Miss Trunchbull is apparently based on Alastair Sim’s headmistress in the St Trinian’s films, when he was so good playing it as a character – and also playing the twin brother – that you don’t think of the headmistress as male or female, just as a character.”

Jack adds: “It’s a woman but she’s so butch! Play Miss Trunchbull as a woman and it doesn’t work, but play it as a man who happens to have boobs and big shoulders and a hairpiece, it works!

“I try to bring out the most grotesque elements of myself and there’s a bit in there too of the teachers that I don’t like! It’s about getting the physicality right and the tone of the voice.”

When Sam is playing Miss Trunchbull, Jack takes the role of Matilda’s dreadful dad, slimy car salesman Mr Wormwood, and vice versa. “We’ve watched each in rehearsal but I don’t think we’ve ever discussed the roles with each other,” says Sam. “We just instinctively took a bit of each other’s performance.”

Robert chips in: “But they’re physically different, their voices are different, their mannerisms are different. Sam is blond, Jack darker, so they have their different hairpieces too.”

Clash of wills: Sam Steel’s headmistress Miss Trunchbull and Juliette Sellamuttu’s highly imaginative pupil, Matilda, in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Matilda: The Musical Jr. Picture: Matthew Kitchen 

Likewise, Aimee, ten, and Juliette, nine, are “very different actresses”, says Robert, who welcomed the chance to have contrasting Matildas. “They didn’t audition for Matilda, but when did auditions for singing roles, they came out of the pack,” says Robert.

“I was kind of expecting to get a small role, so it was a bit of shock,” says Aimee. “But not like an electric shock!” says Juliette, who felt “very surprised” to be picked for the title role.

If Aimee could choose a special power, it would be “maybe healing people”. Juliette first liked the thought of being able to use the swish of a hand “if someone is being naughty”, then changed tack. “I’d like to make inanimate objects animate, like asking a stuffed animal to barge its way out of a window,” she says.

Juliette, whose father is Sri Lankan and mother, Polish, has been living in York for a year. “Before I came here, in Sri Lanka, I did a line as a witch in a small assembly piece for Halloween, when I was at Gateway College in Colombo,” she says.

Aimee, meanwhile, has performed with one of York’s leading amateur societies. “I’ve done shows in theatres with Steve Tearle for NE Musicals York,” she says.

On Readman’s stage design, bedecked in a multitude of letters to reflect bookworm Matilda’s love of words and spelling, Sam and Jack are throwing themselves with gusto into the appalling behaviour of Miss Trunchbull.

“It’s more interesting that she’s not just a villain, she’s an absolute monster,” says Jack. “It’s probably the most evil person I’ve played, which is a nice contrast after playing Adrian Mole – and I get to throw a girl [Amanda Thripp] by her pigtails!”

Please note, Amanda is played by a doll at this juncture, one of several little tricks up Robert Readman’s sleeve that add to the fun and games of a delightfully unruly show with a gleefully rebellious book by Dennis Kelly and smart, fun, bouncy songs by Tim Minchin, replete with such titles as Naughty, Chokey Chant and Revolting Children.

Pick Me Up Theatre in Matilda: The Musical Jr, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, until Sunday. Performances: 7.30pm, tonight, tomorrow and Saturday; 2.30pm, Saturday and Sunday. All SOLD OUT. A special performance of songs from a new musical, Prodigy, featuring the cast of Matilda, opens each show. Box office for returns only:

Pick Me Up Theatre’s poster for Matilda: The Musical Jr. All remaining shows have sold out

REVIEW: The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical, Pick Me Up Theatre, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York ****

Toni Feetenby as Pauline Mole and Jack Hambleton as Adrian Mole in Pick Me Up Theatre’s The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾. All pictures: Matthew Kitchen Photography

LEICESTER council estate housewife Sue Townsend’s spotty teenage diarist has gone through many lives since the early 1980s.

Original stage monologue, when the central, older, character was called Nigel. Novel. More novels. Television series. Musical, with a script by Townsend and music and lyrics by Ken Howard and Alan Blakley. Play and junior play. Musical, with book and lyrics by Jake Brunger and music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary.

Robert Readman’s York company, Pick Me Up Theatre, are presenting the British amateur premiere of the Brunger & Cleary version on an open-plan traverse stage that evokes both 1980s’ Leicester school rooms and house interiors.

The traverse design, with the audience to either side and on the mezzanine level above, cranks up the sense of combat and swimming against the tide, in this case the story of an awkward 13¾-year-old intellectual’s battles.

Pick Me Up Theatre’s cast members: back row, Toni Feetenby, left, Alan Park, Ian Giles, Andrew Isherwood and Emily Halstead. Middle row: Adam Sowter, left, Flynn Coultous, Jack Hambleton, Florence Poskitt, Freddie Adams, Guy Wilson and Alexandra Mather. Front row: Sandy Nicholson, left, Flynn Baistow, Benedict Wood and Dotty Davies

This is Adrian (Jack Hambleton) against the world, whether having to contend with playground bully Barry Kent (Guy Wilson); endless spots; disciplinarian, narrow-minded headmaster Mr Scruton (Adam Sowter), or Nigel (Flynn Coultous), his rival for school crush Pandora (Emily Halstead).

Or Bert Baxter (Ian Giles), the 89-year-old curmudgeon that Adrian has to deal with on his Good Samaritans visits; or teacher Miss Elf (Florence Poskitt), never marking his work as highly as he thinks he deserves, or his struggles in the family home, where mother Pauline (Toni Feetenby) is being distracted by smarmy, hands-on neighbour Mr Lucas (Andrew Isherwood), and his father, George (Alan Park) is at a low ebb. At least Grandma (Sandy Nicholson) is there to comfort him (and squeeze his spots).

Polymath Readman is as much a set designer as director and choreographer, and his playful set with doors to either side allows for the speedy addition and removal of chairs, and for heads to jut through drape-covered window spaces to join in ensemble numbers, reminiscent of sudden interjections in The Muppets.

Florence Poskitt’s teacher Miss Elf and Jack Hambleton’s Adrian Mole

Amid the constraints imposed by performing in pandemic times, Readman decided to keep his cast size trim, by having adults play children as well as the adults, aside from the four teenage protagonists, performed by the already name-checked Team Townsend on press night, alternating through the run with Team Sue (Flynn Baistow’s Adrian, Benedict Wood’s Nigel, Dotty Davies’s Pandora and Freddie Adams’s Barry).

This was an inspired decision, with extra fun to be had in seeing faces so familiar on the York stage revert to teenage tropes (much like in the casting for John Godber’s classroom comedy, Teechers), especially in the ensemble numbers.

Readman’s decision also enhances your appreciation of the young performers, Hambleton’s beleaguered Adrian narrating with a hangdog expression; Halstead’s posh but socially aware Pandora being every inch the head girl in waiting; Coultous’s Nigel staying both perky and pesky throughout, and Wilson’s Barry casting his black-clothed shadow with a panto villain’s glee.

Brunger and Cleary’s songbook is savvy and witty in its lyrics, if more workmanlike in its tunes, but keyboard player Tim Selman’s band (with Jonathan Sage on woodwind, Rosie Morris on bass and Clark Howard on drums) gives it plenty of oomph. So much so, the sound balance on Wednesday sometimes made it hard to hear Hambleton clearly when narrating to music.

Andrew Isherwood’s hands-on Mr Lucas and Toni Feetenby’s change-seeking Pauline Mole

Readman has picked a tremendous cast all round, both for his young leading lights, and everywhere you look among the experienced ranks; be it the face-pulling comic turns of Poskitt and Sowter; the sliminess of Isherwood; the squashed-face grumpiness of Giles; or the return to the fore of the recently lesser-spotted, top-notch Feetenby and Park as the troubled parents,

Nicholson’s Grandma warms you like a cup of tea. Oh, and look out for opera singer Alexandra Mather as you will never have seen her before, vamping it up as naughty neighbour Doreen Slater.

Technically not a Christmas show, nevertheless the diary’s timespan from early-Eighties’ New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Eve means it sits well in the winter season. Diary note to yourself: book a ticket NOW.

Pick Me Up Theatre present Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, The Musical, John Cooper Studio, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, until December 18, 7.30pm, except December 11 and 12; 2.30pm matinees, December 11, 12 and 18. Box office:

Flynn Baistow’s Adrian Mole, from Team Sue, and Sandy Nicholson’s Grandma

Secret is out as Pick Me Up Theatre return with amateur premiere of Adrian Mole

Pick Me Up Theatre’s cast members: back row, Toni Feetenby, left, Alan Park, Ian Giles, Andrew Isherwood and Emily Halstead. Middle row: Adam Sowter, left, Flynn Coultous, Jack Hambleton, Florence Poskitt, Freddie Adams, Guy Wilson and Alexandra Mather. Front row: Sandy Nicholson, left, Flynn Baistow, Benedict Wood and Dotty Davies. All pictures: Matthew Kitchen Photography

DIARY entry, April 6th 2021. Robert Readman announces Pick Me Up Theatre’s Christmas show for 2021 will be the Broadway hit SpongeBob The Musical.

Diary entry, December 5 2021. No, it won’t be. Robert is directing Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ The Musical instead, booked into Theatre@41, Monkgate, York from December 8 to 18,

SpongeBob The Musical may yet re-emerge down the line in winter 2023, but Robert made the call to pick up Pick Me Up’s theatre-making for the first time since March 2020’s Covid-curtailed run of Tom’s Midnight Garden with the musical version of the trials and tribulations of Sue Townsend’s teenage diarist.

“It’s my kind of show,” says Robert. “I love British musicals; I loved the TV series and I loved Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books.

“Pick Me Up will be doing a season of works by British writers in spring 2022, with George Stagnell starring in both Billy in March and Shakespeare In Love in April, and when we got the chance to do Adrian Mole, I knew we had to do that as this winter’s show – though I didn’t actually know it would be the British amateur premiere until the writer [Pippa Cleary] told me.

Toni Feetenby’s Pauline Mole and Jack Hambleton’s Adrian Mole from Pick Me Up Theatre’s Team Townsend

“But it’s perfect timing for us to do the show now because the story runs from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve.”

Robert and musical director Tim Selman are working with a cast of experienced York hands such as Sandy Nicholson, Andrew Isherwood, Adam Sowter, Florence Poskitt, Alan Park and Alexandra Mather and two sets of teen talents, rather sweetly designated as Team Sue and Team Townsend.

“They’re all aged either 13, early-14 or late-14, but they’re different in height, so what I did was to match each team to Adrian’s height. Team Sue – Flynn Baistow’s Adrian, Benedict Wood’s Nigel, Dotty Davies’ Pandora and Freddie Adams’ Barry – all turned out to be from Lancashire, apart from Benedict,” says Robert.

“Team Townsend – the taller Jack Hambleton’s Adrian, Flynn Coultous’s Nigel, Emily Halstead’s Pandora and Guy Wilson’s Barry – happen to be all from Yorkshire.

“Although Sue Townsend was a Leicester writer, and set her stories there, we’ll be using northern accents, which suits the characters just as well.”

Team Townsend’s Flynn Coultous as Nigel and Emily Halstead as Pandora in The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾

In the cast too is veteran actor and drama teacher Ian Giles, who played his part in Sue Townsend’s rise as a writer. “In the summer of 1977, I was appointed artistic director of the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester, and one of my innovations was to create a writers’ group for local people,” he recalls.

“The then unknown Leicester housewife Sue Townsend was among those who came along. She was in her thirties, from a council estate, had worked as a factory worker and shop assistant, and was very shy. She only attended because her partner, Colin [Broadway], told her to give it a go, though she used to love reading the likes of Dostoevsky.”

Ian put Sue forward for a Thames Television Writer’s Bursary and her manuscript for Womberang duly won the Thames Television Playwright Award, setting her on the path to writing plays for the Royal Court and the Adrian Mole series of books.

Coming full circle, Ian, now 72, will play grumpy old Bert Baxter in the Mole musical. “He’s an 89-year-old curmudgeon, so that should be easy for me!” he says, delighted to be reconnecting with his Townsend past.

“I’m surprised the Adrian Mole books aren’t on the school curriculum, because the issues raised are still so pertinent. The first book is 40 years old now, and the books were like the Harry Potter books of their time. Only the Bible and Shakespeare outsold them!”

Toni Feetenby’s Pauline Mole and Flynn Baistow’s Adrian Mole from Team Sue

Re-joining the discussion, Robert says: “We love Adrian Mole because it’s a boy expressing how awful life is when you’re going through puberty. The young cast find it very funny, but it’s interesting to see how differently they interpret their characters, especially the two Adrians.

“What works best is the fun Sue had in having all the characters being seen through Adrian’s lens.”

“And with a working-class ethic to it,” says Ian. “Sue was writing from council-estate  experience, growing up not far from where playwright Joe Orton grew up. There’s a lot of Sue in the character of the mother, Pauline.

“It’s all pertinent to the 1980s when it was written, but it also resonates with all teenage experiences that people go through.”

Robert adds: “Because of the ‘80s’ retro culture that’s going on now, young people are wise to that, which makes it a good time to do this show.

Time to brush up: Ian Giles’s curmudgeonly Bert Baxter makes his point to Jack Hambleton’s Adrian Mole

“But what’s nice about the music is that Jake and Pippa have not pastiched the Eighties’ pop style. They’ve made their own style of music, so you will enjoy the story being in a musical structure, with some lovely balladry, and a lot of sadness and heartbreak in there, and the parents and classmates being given good songs as well as the leads.”

The John Cooper Studio will be set up as a traverse stage with the audience in raked seating to either side and on the mezzanine level above. “The set design will feature two houses, one to either side, with everything going on in between,” says Robert.

“The reason I’ve done that is because all the scenes are quite short and it moves at a pace, so you can’t have lots of scenery to move around, slowing it down.”

Now make a date in your diary to see Adrian Mole, Pandora and co at Theatre@41.

Pick Me Up Theatre present Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, The Musical, John Cooper Studio, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, December 8 to 18, 7.30pm, except December 11 and 12; 2.30pm matinees, December 11, 12 and 18. Box office:

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

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

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:

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:  

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:

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

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

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; York,

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: