What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond as concerts return to Dalby Forest. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 21 from Gazette & Herald

Stuart Vincent’s Amir in The Kite Runner at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Barry Rivett

THE return of The Kite Runner and Forest Live, a mega-musical full of nuns and a new case for Holmes & Watson add intrigue and woodland joys to Charles Hutchinson’s week ahead.  

Play of the week: The Kite Runner, York Theatre Royal, running until Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

DIRECTED by Giles Croft, Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel presents a haunting tale of friendship that spans cultures and continents as it follows Amir’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

In his childhood recollection, Afghanistan is on the verge of war and best friends Amir (Stuart Vincent) and Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) are about to be torn apart. Amid the excitement of a Kabul kite-flying tournament, no-one can foresee the terrible incident that will shatter their lives forever. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. 

Murder mystery to solve: Calf 2 Cow in Sherlock & Watson – A Murder In The Garden at Helmsley Walled Garden

Immersive murder mystery experience of the week: Calf 2 Cow, Sherlock & Watson – A Murder In The Garden, Helmsley Walled Garden, tomorrow, 7pm (gates, 6pm)

WHEN a body is mysteriously found lying in the middle of Landsdown Manor Gardens, the police have no option but to persuade Sherlock Holmes to take on his toughest case to date.

Assisted by the loyal Watson, the detective duo must battle through villains to discover who is behind the murder in Bath comedy troupe Calf 2 Cow’s new adaption, full of slapstick, multi-role playing and rock’n’roll, penned by artistic director Matthew Emeny. Bring chairs, blankets and picnics. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Richard Hawley: Made in Sheffield, performing in Scarborough

Yorkshireman of the week: Richard Hawley, Scarbrough Spa, tomorrow (20/6/2024), 7.30pm

ON the heels of his Olivier Award-winning Sheffield musical Standing At The Sky’s Edge opening a six-month West End run at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Richard Hawley showcases his ninth studio album In This City They Call You Love on his late-spring tour. Scarborough hosts the closing night. Box office: scarboroughspa.co.uk.

Nile Rodgers: Turning Dalby Forest into a disco floor with CHIC on Saturday, when Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Deco will be on the bill too

Welcome return of the week: Forest Live at Dalby Forest, near Pickering, Bryan Adams, Friday; Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Saturday; Richard Ashcroft, Sunday; gates 5pm

FORESTRY England revives Forest Live at Dalby Forest for the first time since 2019 for three nights of open-air concerts in aid of woodland conservation. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, he of forest fame from (Everything I Do) I Do It For You for Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, on Friday night will be followed by disco icons Nile Rodgers & CHIC on Saturday and the Wigan singer, songwriter and The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft on Sunday. Box office: forestlive.com.

Jessa Liversidge: Two Bards And A Songbird, one concert and a workshop in Helmsley. Picture: David K Newton

English and Scottish union of the week: Jessa Liversidge, Two Bards And A Songbird, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

EASINGWOLD singer and choir leader Jessa Liversidge presents her celebration of song inspired by two bards: William Shakespeare and Robert Burns, from her native Scotland. Her heartfelt performance spans traditional folk, pop and musical theatre, sung to her piano accompaniment plus a loop pedal to layer melodies and sounds.

Audience suggestions are invited to enable Jessa to improvise a new song around a Shakespeare/Burns quotation. From 4pm to 6pm, she will host a harmony-singing workshop for participants to sing in the evening show, with a combined ticket available for the workshop and concert. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

York Light Opera Company cast members in rehearsal for Nunsense: The Mega-Musical

York musical of the week: York Light Opera Company in Nunsense: The Mega-Musical!, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, 7.30pm, June 26 to 28, July 2 to 5; 3pm; June 29 and 30, July 6

AFTER the unfortunate passing of four beloved sisters in a “culinary catastrophe”, the remaining Little Sisters of Hoboken find themselves in a sticky situation. To raise funds for a proper burial (and perhaps a new cook), the nuns take centre stage for a riotous revue unlike any other.

Director Neil Wood brings Dan Goggin’s musical to mega-sized life in a version that boasts an expanded cast, new characters and even more musical mayhem. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk

Tom Jones: Returning to Scarborough Open Air Theatre, where he last performed in July 2022

Coastal gig of the week: Tom Jones, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 26, gates open at 6pm

SEATED tickets have sold out for Welsh whirlwind Tom Jones’s outdoor gig in Scarborough but that still leaves room for standing. Sixty years since releasing his first single, Chills And Fever, in 1964, he is still blowing those bellows as powerfully as ever at 84, having made history as the oldest man to notch up a number one with an album of new material in the UK Official Album Charts in 2021 with Surrounded By Time, overtaking Bob Dylan.

Expect It’s Not Unusual, What’s New Pussycat?, Delilah, She’s A Lady, Green, Green Grass Of Home, Kiss, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Sex Bomb et al from Sir Tom. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Sully O’Sullivan: Putting the comedy boot in on June 28 in Malton. Picture: Andy Hollingworth

Comedy gig of the week: Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, Sully O’Sullivan, Don Biswas and host Danny Deegan, Milton Rooms, Malton, June 28, 8pm

SULLY O’Sullivan has played New Zealand, Australia, Croatia, Canada and all over Great Britain, now adding Malton to that list. Politically charged Don Biswas covers such subjects his Asian upbringing, his neuro-diversity as someone with dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], topped off with conspiracy theories.

Northern comedian, writer and actor Danny Deegan hosts the show with tales of mischief and multiple characters. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Alison Moyet: 40th anniversary album and 2025 tour, visiting York Barbican next February. Picture: Naomi Davison

Gig announcement of the week: Alison Moyet, York Barbican, February 20 2025

MARKING 40 years since she left Yazoo to launch her solo career, Essex soul singer Alison Moyet will play York Barbican on her 25-date 2025 itinerary, her first headline tour since 2017.  

After graduating from Brighton University in 2023 with a first-class degree in fine art printmaking, Moyet will combine art and music on her 18-track October 4 album, Key, creating the artwork as well as reworking singles, fan favourites and deep cuts, complemented by two new songs. Box office from 10am on Friday: yorkbarbican.co.uk/whats-on/alison-moyet-2025/.

Two bards, one songbird, a loop pedal and a nod to Taylor Swift add up to Jessa Liversidge’s Shakespeare and Burns show

Jessa Liversidge: Two bards, one songbird; two performances, two workshops. Picture: David K Newton

EASINGWOLD singer and choir leader Jessa Liversidge presents her celebration of song inspired by two bards, William Shakespeare and Robert Burns, from her native Scotland, in York tomorrow and Helmsley next Saturday.

Her heartfelt performance spans traditional folk, pop and musical theatre, sung to her piano accompaniment with judicious use of a loop pedal to layer melodies and sounds.

At each concert, at Theatre@41 and Helmsley Arts Centre, audience suggestions are invited to enable Jessa to improvise a new song around a Shakespeare/Burns quotation.

At both venues, from 4pm to 6pm, she will be hosting a harmony-singing workshop for participants to sing in the evening show. Box office: York, tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Helmsley, helmsleyarts.co.uk.

The poster for Two Bards And A Songbird

Here, Jessa discusses Shakespeare, Burns, songs, poems and her next show with CharlesHutchPress

What part did Robert Burns and Shakespeare play in your education, being brought up in Scotland?

“I was brought up and went to school in Dundee, and in my younger years we all had to learn a Burns song to take part in a competition called the Leng Medal. This was my first experience of Burns’s songs, and of course we learned several of the poems in school too.

“At this young age, I didn’t really appreciate the poetry and power of his words, and certainly didn’t fully appreciate the speeches from Macbeth and Hamlet as I crammed them the night before my Higher English exam! I wouldn’t have predicted that years later I’d be improvising songs around those same words.”

How did you first come to participate in the Durham Fringe Festival?

“Durham is quite a young Fringe, and I’ve been involved since it started in 2021. Mick [actor husband Mick Liversidge] and I had put a show together inspired by our outdoor lockdown singing and poetry reciting called Fields and Lanes, and this was featured in an afternoon showcase the Fringe put on, alongside aerial artistes and dancers! A great experience and a friendly bunch of volunteers running the festival.

“It has grown since then, and I performed my Songbirds show there in 2022, then Two Bards And A Songbird in 2023. My inspiration to put this show together was a callout by Durham Fringe for Shakespeare-inspired shows, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio.”

Sum up the show in a nutshell…

“It’s a musical exploration of work inspired by the two bards. Just me, a piano and my loop pedal. Very different, very eclectic!

“I could be singing a beautiful Robert Burns song one moment, improvising around a Shakespeare sonnet the next, looping around with a Taylor Swift song, then throwing in a musical theatre number, such as Sondheim’s Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun or So In Love from Kiss me Kate.

Mick and Jessa Liversidge on one of their walks in lockdown in 2020 for Fields and Lanes

“I even combine the two bards in two of the pieces. There’s also a fun, but scary element of the show, where audience members pick a quotation from their table for me to improvise around.”

Shakespeare’s plays feature songs; Burns’s poetry has a long tradition of being turned into folk songs, alongside his own songwriting. How has that shaped the content of your show?

“Several of Burns’s original songs feature in the show – Red, Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss, A’ The Airts – as well as the most famous song Burns actually didn’t write! (Auld Lang Syne, which he heard someone singing, then wrote down!)

“In the early stages of developing the show, I looked at some of the original songs used in Shakespeare plays, but I ended up using a more contemporary mix of songs for the Shakespeare element. His work features such universal themes that just about anything can be said to be inspired by Shakespeare!

“What I’ve chosen is a mixture of pop and musical theatre inspired by his words and stories, songs from musical adaptations of his plays (including some from a fairly recent adaptation of As You Like It, performed in Central Park, New York, featuring hundreds of community performers and music by Shaina Taub.)

“Plus of course the more improvised sections, where I develop my own musical interpretations of Shakespeare’s words, such as Come Away Death and Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day.”

How do you use the loop pedal?

“I love looping! It’s so addictive and fun, and a great, if sometimes baffling, experience for the audience, some of whom have never heard anything quite like it!

“I basically layer up keyboard chords, vocal harmonies, melodies, sometimes even recited poetry, together. Everything is done live, nothing pre-recorded.

The poster for Jessa Liversidge’s new show, A Tapestry Of Life, at the 2024 Durham Fringe Festival

“So, with the Taylor Swift song in the show, I build up harmonies in a chorus first, as part of the performance, then use that within the song.

Here it is: https://youtu.be/38GwLrzmbeU?si=YK8Rl1icPaoCiCX4

“It’s great for the improvised sections too, and where I mash Shakespeare and Burns together – so at one point I sing a Burns song (John Anderson My Jo) and layer a suitable sonnet over the top – as a great way of creating harmony and different effects as a solo performer.” https://youtu.be/_Gsvwqzt6Bw?si=PFAUtyRsZE169dLM

Explain your choice of Burns and Shakespeare works to intertwine.

“The Burns song, John Anderson My Jo, speaks in a light-hearted way of the longevity of love, how it changes over time. Quite ironic as Burns never reached old age sadly. (N.B. I am doing one of the more polite versions of this song!).

“I then layer Shakespeare’s sonnet 104 over the top, which speaks, “to me, fair friend, you never can be old”.

“Another features a short segment from the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar that I was lucky enough to be involved with this time last year: Ghosts, used with permission of the composer, Jasmin Kent Rodgman.

“This haunting, repetitive piece is used in one of the battle scenes – and as a nod to the more pacifist leanings of Burns, I recite his Logan Braes over the top.” 

Jessa Liversidge leading one of her choir workshops

What will the workshops involve? Who can attend? Is there a charge?

“The workshops are open to all voices – anyone who enjoys singing and wants to get more involved with the show. We’ll work on some vocal technique and fun warm-ups, then learn some of the material from the show – which the group can then get up and perform alongside me in the evening, in between enjoying the rest of the show as an audience member.

“I will tailor each workshop to whoever comes along. I am used to working with all ages and abilities and just love bringing people together to sing! It’s such a joyous way to connect with others. 

“Both venues are offering a combined ticket for the workshop and show, only £5 extra for the two-hour workshop.”

Have your performed Two Bards And A Songbird in Scotland?

“I’ve been up to my native land for a couple of weekends performing the show in Dundee and Fife. Quite a moment, having not performed there since I was at school! And even then, I was never a singing soloist in those days, only really finding my voice in my mid-twenties.

“One old school friend who came to the Dundee performance said, ‘you were a violinist at school’! Lovely, though, to be able to have some family members come and support who don’t usually get to witness my antics in real life.”

How did you find your voice in your mid-20s, and was that part of the inspiration for encouraging others to do likewise in your choirs?

“My vocal journey has been a long and winding one! I’ve always enjoyed singing, but as I reached my 20s, I found I was limited in what I could do as a soloist, so decided to have some proper vocal training.

“I could be singing a beautiful Robert Burns song one moment, improvising around a Shakespeare sonnet the next,” says Jessa of her Two Bards And A Songbird show. Picture: Andrea Denniss

“I spent ten years training with York’s Jacqueline Edwards, finding my full range and surprising myself with what I could do. Then since having my own children in my 30s, I have built up my freelance work around singing, and sharing the joy of singing with others.

“I’ve undertaken so much more training in the past ten years or so, from vocal health first aid to vocal cross-training (all the different techniques and characteristics of singing in different genres), and now I feel so lucky to spend my week singing with, and for, such a wide range of people of all ages and abilities.”

Describe your new Carole King show, A Tapestry Of Life, premiering at next month’s Durham Fringe Festival?

“Like many, I’m a huge fan of Carole King. Her songs (a bit like the bard himself!) focus on those universal themes everyone can identify with: life, love, loss. My sister, Andrea Brown, has recently written a book of poetry with that very title.

“As we were born in the 1970s, when Tapestry was released, I came up with the idea of A Tapestry Of Life. It will be the classic Carole King songs, interspersed with songs I’m writing from Andrea’s poetry. Lots of them about pretty moving and emotional family events, and situations and journeys that will resonate with a lot of people, I’m sure. Quite scary for me as I am quite new to songwriting!

“But the words are so beautiful, I am very excited about performing this combination of old and new.”

What drew you to the music of Carole King?

“I first got to know some of the best-known songs, such as You’ve Got A Friend and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, then decided to explore further. I love the messages behind her songs, the catchy and moving melodies, and how the songs mean so much to people. These songs were released over 50 years ago but the themes and messages are eternally relevant.”

How have you found the experience of writing songs? 

“It’s a whole new world for me. I really only started writing songs in 2020, and even then, that was only short rounds and partner songs to teach to my choirs. I’ve dabbled a little but not often had the confidence to share much of my own writing.

“My sister Andrea has always been the poet in our family. She’s written poems for events at work and home, and even wrote and recited beautiful poems for our parents’ funerals.

“I am used to improvising short melodies, and layering up harmonies, like I do in Two Bards, but this is a different ball game! I’m loving the process of putting these moving words to music and linking the themes of the Carole King classics to the themes of these beautiful poems.”

Jessa Liversidge, Two Bards And A Songbird, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow (16/6/2024), 7.30pm, and Helmsley Arts Centre, June 22, 7.30pm. Box office: York, tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Helmsley, 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk

Jessa Liversidge, A Tapestry Of Life, Durham Fringe Festival, The Pemberton Rooms, Durham University, just off Palace Green, July 25 to 28, 4.30pm. Box office: durhamfringe.co.uk.

Preview show at Easingwold Library on July 17 at 7.30pm (doors 7pm). Suggested entry donation of £8; all profits in aid of community library funds. Bookings: email willowtreevent@gmail.com or ring 07526 107448 and leave a message with contact details.

Jessa Liversidge: the back story

SINGER and positive and encouraging singing leader, experienced in working with singers of all ages and abilities.

Runs several choirs, including HAC Singers, Easingwold Community Singers, Singing For All and York Military Wives Choir, as well as teaching singing privately and teaching music to young people, lifting the spirits of hundreds through song each week.

For more information, head to: jessaliversidge.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, seeing someone somewhere in summer time. Hutch’s List No. 25, from The Press

Bhavin Bhatt’s villainous Assef, left, and Stuart Vincent’s Amir in The Kite Runner, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Barry Rivett

THE return of The Kite Runner and Forest Live, a family art show and coastal concerts, a Scottish-English union and a girl group tribute spice up Charles Hutchinson’s week ahead.  

Play of the week: The Kite Runner, York Theatre Royal, June 18 to 22, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

DIRECTED by Giles Croft, Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel presents a haunting tale of friendship that spans cultures and continents as it follows Amir’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

In his childhood recollection, Afghanistan is on the verge of war and best friends Amir (Stuart Vincent) and Hassan (Yazdan Qafouri) are about to be torn apart. Amid the excitement of a Kabul kite-flying tournament, no-one can foresee the terrible incident that will shatter their lives forever. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Amy Stubbs: Exhibiting with her sister Emily and father Christopher in Canvas, Clay and Cloth at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

Family exhibition launch of the week: Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, today until August 3

FAMILY artistry unites in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, a unique exhibition featuring works by sisters Emily Stubbs and Amy Stubbs, regular participants in York Open Studios, alongside their father, Christopher Stubbs, from Hepworth, West Yorkshire.

Their first-ever joint showcase brings together diverse artistic media in a celebration of family creativity. Contemporary ceramicist Emily Stubbs works from PICA Studios, in Grape Lane; Amy specialises in textile and surface pattern design in a range of homeware and wearable art; Christopher will be exhibiting framed paintings and sketches. All three will attend today’s launch in a Meet The Artists session from 12 noon to 2pm.

Christopher Stubbs: Exhibiting framed paintings and sketches at Pyramid Gallery

Film music of the week: A Tribute To Hans Zimmer and Film Favourites Illuminated, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow (16/6/2024), 3.30pm and 7pm

EXPERIENCE cinema’s most iconic soundtracks performed by the London Film Music Orchestra in a tribute to Hans Zimmer and more besides in an immersive illuminated setting.

The chamber orchestra will be performing music from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, E.T., Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jaws, Interstellar, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and Inception. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Jessa Liversidge: Two Bards And A Songbird, two concerts and two workshops. Picture: David K Newton

English and Scottish union of the week: Jessa Liversidge, Two Bards And A Songbird, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm, and Helmsley Arts Centre, June 22, 7.30pm

EASINGWOLD singer and choir leader Jessa Liversidge presents her celebration of song inspired by two bards: William Shakespeare and Robert Burns, from her native Scotland. Her heartfelt performance spans traditional folk, pop and musical theatre, sung to her piano accompaniment with judicious use of a  loop pedal to layer melodies and sounds.

At each concert, audience suggestions are invited to enable Jessa to improvise a new song around a Shakespeare/Burns quotation. At both venues, from 4pm to 6pm, she will be hosting a harmony-singing workshop for participants to sing in the evening show. Box office: York, tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Helmsley, helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Paul Sinha: In conversation at The Crescent, York. Picture: Andy Hollingsworth

Show title of the week: One Sinha Lifetime, Paul Sinha, The Crescent, York, June 17, 7.30pm

COMEDIAN, white-suited chaser on ITV quiz show The Chase, former doctor and villainous Abanazar in his 2016 pantomime debut in Aladdin at York’s Grand Opera House, Paul Sinha has plenty to discuss in conversation at The Crescent as he marks Penguin Books’ June 20 release of his coming-of-age memoir One Sinha Lifetime.

Subtitled Comedy, Disaster and One Man’s Quest for Happiness, broadcaster and quiz champ Sinha’s book charts his unconventional odyssey through love, family and the joy of general knowledge. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Simple Minds in Scarborough: Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr head to the East Coast on Tuesday. Picture: Dean Chalkley

Coastal gig of the week: Simple Minds and special guests Del Amitri, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 18; gates open at 6pm

SOMEONE somewhere in summertime, namely Simple Minds in Scarborough on Tuesday, finds Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill’s band revisiting such hits as Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize, Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, Don’t You Forget About Me and, aptly for Scarborough, Waterfront.

Opening the Scottish double bill will be fellow Glaswegians Del Amitri, led as ever by Justin Currie. In further Scarborough OAT shows, Hampstead pop singer Jess Glynne performs tonight and yet more Glaswegians, Deacon Blue, Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh et al, appear on Friday. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Wannabe: Celebrating 30 years of Spice Girl power at Grand Opera House, York

York tribute show of the week: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Musical, Grand Opera House, York, June 20, 7.30pm

WANNABE, the “world’s longest-running” Spice Girls tribute stage production, celebrates three decades of girl power in a nostalgic journey through the Spice World.

The show charts the English girl group’s meteoric rise, from July 1996’s debut number one, Wannabe, to Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s reunion at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Expect “meticulously crafted costumes, unique vocal and musical arrangements exclusive to Wannabe, iconic dance routines and stunning visual flair”. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Richard Hawley: Made in Sheffield, performing in Scarborough

Yorkshireman of the week: Richard Hawley, Scarborough Spa, June 20, 7.30pm

ON the heels of his Olivier Award-winning Sheffield musical Standing At The Sky’s Edge opening a six-month West End run at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Richard Hawley showcases his May 31 album In This City They Call You Love on his spring tour. Scarborough hosts the closing night. James Bagshaw supports. Box office: scarboroughspa.co.uk.

Nile Rodgers: Turning Dalby Forest into a disco floor with CHIC next Saturday, when Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Deco will be on the bill too

Welcome return of the week: Forest Live at Dalby Forest, near Pickering, Bryan Adams, June 21; Nile Rodgers & CHIC, June 22; Richard Ashcroft, June 23; gates 5pm

FORESTRY England revives Forest Live at Dalby Forest for the first time since 2019 for three nights of open-air concerts in aid of woodland conservation. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, he of forest fame from (Everything I Do) I Do It For You for Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, on Friday night will be followed by disco icons Nile Rodgers & CHIC next Saturday and the Wigan singer, songwriter and The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft next Sunday. Box office: forestlive.com.

Alison Moyet: 40th anniversary album and 2025 tour, visiting York Barbican next February. Picture: Naomi Davison

Gig announcement of the week: Alison Moyet, York Barbican, February 20 2025

MARKING 40 years since she left Yazoo to launch her solo career, Essex soul singer Alison Moyet will play York Barbican on her 25-date 2025 itinerary, her first headline tour since 2017.  

After graduating from Brighton University in 2023 with a first-class degree in fine art printmaking, Moyet will combine art and music on her 18-track October 4 album, Key, creating the artwork as well as reworking singles, fan favourites and deep cuts, complemented by two new songs. Box office from 10am on June 21: yorkbarbican.co.uk/whats-on/alison-moyet-2025/.

In Focus: British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition, Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley

What’s All The Fuss About?, Will Palmer’s photo of Arctic walrus Thor on the Scarborough harbour slipway, from the British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition at Nunnington Hall. Courtesy of National Trust

THE British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition at Nunnington Hall aims to raise awareness of British biodiversity, species and habitats.

On display are award-winning images selected from 14,000 entries in more than a dozen categories, including film and three for juniors, all in celebration of the diversity of British wildlife and wild spaces.

In particular, look out for What’s All The Fuss About?, taken by Scarborough photographer Will Palmer, who captured the headline-making Thor as the Arctic walrus rested ashore on the harbour slipway cobbles on December 31 2022.

Scarborough photographer Will Palmer with his photograph of Thor, the Arctic walrus, at Nunnington Hall

Will’s image was judged the runner-up in the Urban Wildlife category. “It’s always a huge privilege to be recognised for your work and especially when the awards are as prestigious as this,” he says.

“I captured the image by laying on the cobbles to capture Thor at eye level with the harbour behind. I was very fortunate to get there early and capture the moment at night and before the crowd arrived.”

Nunnington Hall is the nearest National Trust property to the Scarborough coastline. “It’s really special to see the image included in the exhibition and especially at Nunnington Hall, with such a wonderful exhibition space and grounds to boot.

“I’ve hugely appreciated seeing all the effort that’s gone into the exhibition, and with it being on my doorstep, I’m looking forward to visiting it again soon.”

Ocean Drifter, overall winner in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, by Ryan Stalker. Courtesy of National Trust

Laura Kennedy, experience & programming manager at Nunnington Hall, says: “We’re delighted to offer our visitors the opportunity to see this year’s selected images. They are always of such a high quality and the variation of categories means there’s something for everyone.

“More than 14,000 images were submitted into this year’s competition, so you really are seeing the very best of British wildlife photography when you visit the exhibition here at Nunnington.”

British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition, Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until July 7. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm; last entry at 4.15pm. Tickets: nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall. Normal admission prices apply, which includes entry to the exhibition, with free entry to National Trust members and under-fives.

For more information on the British Wildlife Photography Awards, visit www.bwpawards.org.

British Wildlife Photography Awards’ Hidden Britain winner: Ross Hoddinott’s Three’s A Crowd. Courtesy of National Trust

More Things To Do in York and beyond when it ‘definitely won’t be boring’! Here’s Hutch’s List No. 9 for 2024, from The Press

Wise Children “open the bloody door” to Emma Rice’s beguiling but disturbing Blue Beard at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday. Picture: Steve Tanner

PANTO dame tales and a comedian’s first-time memories, 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.

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.

Rick Wakeman: Last return of the Caped Crusader at York Barbican

Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, tonight (24/02/2024), 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.

Robin Simpson on dame duty in York Theatre Royal’s All New Adventures Of Peter Pan

Pantomime revelations of the week: Robin Simpson: There Ain’t Nothing Like A Dame, Rise, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb Road, Acomb, York, tomorrow, 6.30pm

ALREADY confirmed for his return for Aladdin from December 3 to January 5 2025, York Theatre Royal’s resident dame, Robin Simpson, takes a peak behind the wigs into the glitz and glamour of life as a pantomime dame.

Simpson provides an insight into the origins of the character, backstage antics and classic cheeky panto humour as he reveals “what it’s really like to frock up and tread the boards”. Expect cheesy gags, naughty nonsense and even a silly sing-song.

“I’ve run this event before and it was mostly for slightly older children and adults. Ages 7/8 and above really,” says Robin. “The show includes stories, song-sheet sing-alongs and silly poems. It’s not at all serious!

“It’s fun to approach storytelling from the perspective of the dame. It’s a little more anarchic. I also start with a brief history of the pantomime, from Roman times to the modern day.

“I do this while getting dressed and made up into the dame with the idea that, by the time I’m talking about Dan Leno and the Victorian dame, I’m completely changed. There’s room for questions and chat too about being in a panto and what happens on stage and backstage. Like I say, it’s for KS2 and adults really.”

Earlier in the day, at 4.30pm, in an interactive one-hour event for children aged three to six, Robin and Susanna Meese will be spinning the Storywheel to reveal much-loved nursery tales. “It’s a wheel of fortune-style story generator where random fairytales are told and there’s lots of dressing-up, musical instruments, songs, props, puppets and play,” says Robin.

Afterwards, children can delve into story bags full of goodies and stay and play with the hosts, who will have everything needed for the children to tell the tales, including puppets, props, and costumes. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise

Maura Jackson: Public speaker, charity boss and now comedian, playing Theatre@41 tomorrow

Storyteller of the week: Maura Jackson: More O’ Me, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

AT 53 Maura Jackson cannot decide if she is a keynote speaker, charity CEO or comedian. Thanks to “the recklessness of menopause”, she is all three.

After living a life and a half and taking up stand-up in 2022 on a whim, storyteller Jackson takes tomorrow’s audience on a humorous rollercoaster of life-defining moments, good or bad. Despite her professed aversion to drama, she is surrounded by it. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Neil McDermott, left, and Todd Boyce in Sleuth, “the thriller about thrillers”, at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

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.

Rob Auton: Star of The Rob Auton Show, full of firsts, from memories to girlfriends to jobs

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.

Skylights: Lighting up York Barbican in November

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 newly on sale 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.”

In Focus: York Community Choir Festival 2024

Jessa Liversidge: Directing Easingwold Community Singers’ performance at the York Community Choir Festival

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.

“Festival organiser Graham Mitchell wanted a choir to perform this song,” says Jessa. “I bought the music but couldn’t find a choral arrangement, so I chanced my arm on contacting the composer to ask if there were any arrangements or could I do one, and he said, ‘yes, you can’.

“It’s a lovely gentle song. Hopefully it will go well, and I can then send Paul a recording.”

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.

York Community Choir Festival: the programme

Sunday, 6pm

Selby Youth Choir, Bishopthorpe Community Choir, Eboraca, Easingwold Community Singers.

Monday, 7.30pm

Community Chorus, York Celebration Singers, Euphonics, York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir.

Tuesday, 7.30pm

Jubilate, Some Voices York, Sounds Fun Singers, Abbey Belles Chorus.

Wednesday, 7.30pm

Stagecoach Youth Junior Choir, The Garrowby Singers, In Harmony, Stamford Bridge Community Choir.

Thursday, 7.30pm

York Military Wives Choir, Harmonia, Spirit of Harmony Barbershop Chorus, Heworth Community Choir.

Friday, 7.30pm

Huntington School Choirs, Vivace! Aviva York Choir, Main Street Sound Ladies, Barbershop Chorus

Saturday, 2.30pm

Singing Communities, Fairburn Singers, Daytones Harmony Chorus,

The Rolling Tones.

Saturday, 7.30pm

Headlands Primary School, York Sing Space Musical Theatre Choir, Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus, The Wellbeing Choir.

More Things To Do in York and beyond when the tooth fairy visits and gaps must be filled. Hutch’s List No. 24, from The Press

Driller thriller: Birmingham Rep in David Walliams’ Demon Dentist at the Grand Opera House, York

COMEDY aplenty, musical collaborations, dental mystery adventures and soul seekers make a convincing case for inclusion in Charles Hutchinson’s list.

Children’s show of the week: David Walliams’ Demon Dentist, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday, 1.30pm, 6.30pm; Friday, 10.30am, 6.30pm; Saturday, 11am, 3pm

CHILDREN’S author David Walliams has teamed up with Birmingham Stage Company for Demon Dentist, their third collaboration after Gangsta Granny and Billionaire Boy, aapted and directed by Neal Foster.

Join Alfie and Gabz as they investigate the strange events happening in their hometown, where children are leaving their teeth for the tooth fairy and waking up to find odd things under their pillows. No-one could have dreamed what Alfie and Gabz would discover on coming face to face with the demon dentist herself in this thrilling adventure story. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Isabelle Farah: Sadness meets humour in Ellipsis at Theatre@41

Therapy session of the week: Isabelle Farah: Ellipsis, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight, 7.45pm

STAND-UP is the outlet that keeps you sane, where the nature of the game is to turn everything into punchlines. But can you do it if you feel all-consuming sadness, ponders comedian/actor/writer/nightmare Isabelle Farah in Ellipsis.

“I wanted my therapist to come and watch me to see how hilarious I am, but I thought how odd it would be performing to someone who’s seen so far behind my mask,” she says. “Would he even find it funny or just sit there knowing what I was hiding?” Cue her exploration of grief, authenticity and being funny.

Elinor Rolfe Johnson: Soprano soloist at York Minster tonight

Classical concert of the week: Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony, York Minster, tonight, 7.30pm

YORK Musical Society and Philharmonischer Chor Münster from York’s twin city in Germany mark 30 years of concert collaborations with Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony, using text from Walt Whitman poems.

Toward The Unknown Region, another Whitman setting, takes a journey from darkness to light, followed by the beautiful orchestral work Serenade in A minor. Tonight’s soloists are soprano Elinor Rolfe Johnson and bass Julian Tovey. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk; on the door from 6.45pm.

Frankie Boyle’s tour poster for Lap Of Shame, doing the rounds on tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Great Scot of the week: Frankie Boyle, Lap Of Shame, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

SCATHING Scottish comedian, surrealist, presenter and writer Frankie Boyle, 50, is on tour. “Buy a ticket, because by the time I arrive, the currency will be worthless and you and your neighbours part of a struggling militia that could probably use a few laughs,” advises the often-controversial Glaswegian.

Only a handful of tickets are still available at atgtickets.com/york. Please note: no latecomers, no readmittance.

Scott Bennett: Heading to Selby Town Hall

Great Scott of the week: Scott Bennett, Selby Town Hall, Sunday, 7.30pm

SCOTT Bennett has been blazing a trail through the stand-up circuit for the best part of a decade, writing for Chris Ramsey and Jason Manford too.

After regular appearances on BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz and The Now Show and his debut on BBC One’s Live At The Apollo, he presents Great Scott! in Selby. Box office: selbytownhall.co.uk.

Kiki Dee & Carmelo Luggeri: On the road to Helmsley Arts Centre

Rescheduled gig of the week: Kiki Dee & Carmelo Luggeri, Helmsley Arts Centre, Sunday, 7.30pm

MOVED from March 3, Bradford soul singer Kiki Dee and guitarist Carmelo Luggeri head to Helmsley for an acoustic journey through stories and songs, from Kate Bush and Frank Sinatra covers to Kiki’s hits Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, I Got The Music In Me, Loving And Free and Amoureuse. Songs from 2022’s The Long Ride Home should feature too. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Neil Warnock: Moving his York Barbican show from June 15 to next May

Re-arranged show announcement: Neil Warnock, Are You With Me?, York Barbican, moving from June 15 to May 31 2024

ARE you with Neil Warnock on Thursday? Not any more, after “unforeseen circumstances” forced the former York City captain and Scarborough manager (and town chiropodist) to postpone his talk tour until next spring. Tickets remain valid.

After guiding Huddersfield Town to safety from the threat of relegation in the 2022-2023 season, Warnock, 74, was to have gone on the road to discuss his record number of games as a manager, 16 clubs and 8 promotions, from non-league to Premier League, and a thousand stories along the way that have never been told. Now those tales must wait…and whose season might he rescue in 2023-24 before then?! Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Kyshona: Protest singing in Pocklington

Discovery of the week: Kyshona, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm

UNRELENTING in her pursuit of the healing power of song, community connector Kyshona Armstrong has the background of a licensed music therapist, the curiosity of a writer, the resolve of an activist and the voice of a protest singer.

As witnessed on her 2020 album Listen, she blends roots, rock, R&B and folk with her lyrical clout. Past collaborators include Margo Price and Adia Victoria.  Now comes her Pocklington debut. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

The Illegal Eagles: Taking it easy at York Barbican

Tribute show of the week: The Illegal Eagles, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

THE Illegal Eagles celebrate the golden music of the legendary West Coast country rock band with musical prowess, attention to detail and showmanship.  Expect to hear Hotel California, Desperado, Take It Easy, New Kid In Town, Life In The Fast Lane and many more. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Shalamar: Toasting 40 years of Friends at York Barbican

Soul show of the week: Shalamar Friends 40th Anniversary Tour, York Barbican, June 17, 7.30pm

SHALAMAR mark the 40th anniversary of Friends, the platinum-selling album that housed four Top 20 singles, A Night To Remember, Friends, There It Is and I Can Make You Feel Good, outsold Abba, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Culture Club and Meat Loaf that year and spawned Jeffrey Daniels’ dance moves on Top of The Pops.

Further Shalamar hits Take That To The Bank, I Owe You One, Make That Move, Dead Giveaway and Disappearing Act feature too.  Special guests are Jaki Graham and Cool Notes’ Lauraine McIntosh. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The poster for the Academy of St Olave’s summer concert

Celebrating England’s musical legacy: Academy of St Olave’s, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York, June 17, 8pm

THE Academy of St Olave’s chamber orchestra rounds off its 2022-23 season with a summer concert centred on England’s musical legacy, from symphonies written for
London audiences by the great Austrian composers Mozart and Haydn, to works by
English composers Frederick Delius, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Paul Patterson.

The concert is book-ended by Mozart’s first symphony and Haydn’s hundredth, known as “The Military”. Mozart composed his work in London during his family’s Grand Tour of
Europe in 1764, when the boy wonder was eight. Likewise, Haydn’s work was one of his 12 “London symphonies”, to be performed during his second visit to England in 1794-95. Box office: academyofstolaves.org.uk or on the door.

Mozart 1764
Haydn 1794-5
Delius 1911
RVW 1904-7
Patterson 1999

In Focus: Who are the York community chorus in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar at York Theatre Royal?

Community chorus sextet Hilary Conroy, Astrid Hanlon, Elaine Harvey, Stephanie Hesp, Anna Johnston and Frances Simon with music director Jessa Liversidge, right

SIX women – all inspirational leaders within the York and North Yorkshire community – will form the Chorus when the Royal Shakespeare Company’s touring production of Julius Caesar visits York Theatre Royal from June 13 to 17.

Step forward Hilary Conroy, Astrid Hanlon, Elaine Harvey, Stephanie Hesp, Anna Johnston and Frances Simon, under the musical direction of community choir leader Jessa Liversidge, from Easingwold, with Zoe Colven-Davies as chorus coordinator.

The women in next week’s chorus have roles in the community spanning activism and campaigning to charity and social work, lecturing, teaching and coaching. In their day-to-day lives they each make an impact on the York community, whether through fighting for social change, championing community voices, supporting vulnerable groups or encouraging engagement in the creative arts. 

Between them, they lead and support a diverse range of groups and community causes, including supporting disabled and neurodivergent people, those impacted by dementia and mental health issues, people affected by loneliness and those suffering from domestic abuse. They empower others through the creative arts and performance and champion wellbeing in marginalised groups. 

Leading the York group is music director Jessa Liversidge, calling on her wealth of experience with community choirs, inclusive singing groups and working with people of all ages to inspire them through music. 

Juliet Forster, York Theatre Royal’s creative director, says: “It’s a huge privilege for us to have these voices heard alongside the RSC’s actors, and we are so thankful for their input and commitment to the project. 

“This production explores what makes a leader and asks questions about gender and power. Who better to take part than women who are already leaders in our community and in their workplace? 

“The opportunity is exciting and empowering and is strong evidence of how committed the RSC is to meaningful collaboration with its regional theatre partners. We are incredibly proud to be able to contribute a local perspective into this nationwide conversation, and I can’t wait to see what our York women do.”

Explaining the role that the York community chorus will play, RSC director Atri Banerjee says: “Julius Caesar is a play about a nation in crisis, a play about the gulf between politicians and the people they are trying to rule.

“It just makes so much sense to me that this production would include ‘real’ people from where we are touring. So, alongside the professional acting company, we have found a way of integrating the communities from all the areas the show is playing.

“Community work has always been important to me, making work with non-professionals, whether that’s young people or non-professional adults.

“It’s not unusual for productions of Julius Caesar to have a chorus who come on to be the citizens of Rome and say ‘Read The Will’ and then you never see them again. But I wanted to include them to amplify the supernatural, apocalyptic terror within the play. They’ll be singing, using their voices, and will be present on stage for significant parts of the play. They will be something akin to the chorus you’d see in a Greek tragedy watching the action.

“Premonitions of death really. Premotions of figures who embody death in ways that go beyond these characters.”

Royal Shakespeare Company in Julius Caesar, York Theatre Royal, June 13 to 17, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Jessa leads Easingwold’s singers of all ages in building musical bridges through song

Jessa Liversidge leading April’s Musical Bridges session in Easingwold. Picture: David Harrison

SINGERS are building musical bridges in Easingwold in a community project.

In the latest session, on April 3, singer Jessa Liversidge kicked off the school Easter holidays in style with an uplifting movie musicals gathering as part of the Musical Bridges project, whose aim is to build bridges through song.

Previous sessions have included a “looping around” session with Jessa; a raucous sea shanties afternoon with Chris Bartram, and a moving Ukrainian songs workshop with Svetlana Ryadchenko. This time, Easingwold singer, singing group leader and #fieldsing creator Jessa recruited more than 60 singers, ranging in age from 18 months to 95 years, to sing at Easingwold Methodist Church.

 “A fun time was had by all as the singers sang their hearts out and enjoyed the company of friends old and new,” she says.

“The day started with an ‘Under 16s only’ only session, where around 20 young people, aged three to 15, enjoyed singing songs from Matilda, The Greatest Showman, Mary Poppins and Oliver.

“The youngsters hailed from York and Thirsk, as well as Easingwold and the surrounding villages, and they made a beautiful sound together and had a few laughs too. It was great for the young people to have some attention on their own – and great for some of the parents to be able to go off and explore some of Easingwold’s fine cafés and shops!”

Three generations taking part in the Musical Bridges singing session at Easingwold Methodist Church earlier this month. Picture: David Harrison

At 11am, the adults were allowed to join the session. “What a fabulously varied range of adults there were,” says Jessa. “Some families ended up with three generations taking part, and some adults without families were able to enjoy the company of young people, as well as revelling in the experience of singing together.”

The most senior singer, 95-year-old Barbara Tildesley, a resident of Easingwold and a regular member of Jessa’s Singing For All group, remarked: “I just love to hear children sing. They are marvellous!”

The musical movie magic continued as the young singers sang to the adults and they then sang more songs together from Mamma Mia! and The Sound of Music.

“The whole group then learned a new song from Seussical: The Musical, How Lucky You Are, which had some appropriate lyrics to lift spirits,” says Jessa. “My style of leading is positive and encouraging, enabling everyone to feel good about themselves and join in with confidence.”

A Musical Bridges session would not be complete without refreshments. “The whole group were treated to delicious home baking by Singing For All star-baker Linda Crisp to accompany their tea, coffee and juice,” says Jessa.

“A fun time was had by all as the singers sang their hearts out and enjoyed the company of friends old and new,” says Musical Bridges sesson leader Jessa Liversidge.Picture: David Harrison

“One of the main aims of Musical Bridges is to get people together to chat as well as sing – and the break gave the opportunity for people from different walks of life, people of different ages, abilities and life experiences, people with a range of health conditions or none, to chat about their favourite musicals and songs, as well as how singing made them feel.

“At Singing For All events too, everyone is welcomed and all contributions are valued and celebrated, leading to a relaxed, positive atmosphere and happy singers.”

Feedback after the session was fantastic, says Jessa: “Many participants reported how uplifted they felt and what fun they had had. One participant said they had ‘a renewed zest for life’, while another said the session ‘ignited the little girl in me’. ‘Awesome’, ‘happy’, ‘energised’, ‘amazing’, ‘best time ever’… were just a few of the other phrases used as singers left.

“Singers with a range of needs said how simple adaptations to the running of the session made them feel included and part of the group.”

The next session, Songs Of Zimbabwe, will be led by Bruce Ncube on May 7, with some free spaces still available. More Musical Bridges sessions will be forthcoming, all funded by the Co-op Community Fund, as the project continues in its quest to bring people together through song.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the project or book a place on a future session should email Jessa at jessaliversidge@googlemail.com.

Charles Hutchinson’s verdict on Big Ian’s A Night To Remember, York Barbican, 8/9/22

Master of ceremonies Big Ian Donaghy pays tribute to Her Majesty The Queen at the start of A Night To Remember. Picture: Karen Boyes

THE wait had been all too long. 922 days since the last blast of A Night To Remember, Big Ian Donaghy’s fundraising concerts for York charities at York Barbican.

Then, suddenly, Thursday afternoon’s focus turned northwards to Balmoral as the nation waited for updates on The Queen’s health, BBC news presenter Huw Edwards already in black tie.

Her Majesty’s passing was announced shortly after 6.30pm. “We’d had a day of chaos, setting up such a big show, uncertain what would happen,” said Big Ian post-show. “Would the show go on? Would it be pulled? Thankfully…the show must go on.”

A Night To Remember would be unthinkable without Jess Steel: Picture: Dave Kessell

Indeed it did, albeit with a few seats now empty as some ticket holders preferred to stay at home to take in the news. Out went the planned opening, a Boris Johnson satirical routine et al . Instead, a photograph of The Queen, against the backdrop of the Union Flag, filled the screen as a sombre Big Ian took to the stage to join the band, 12-strong brass section and multitude of singers.

“Right, I don’t care if you are a monarchist; I don’t care if you are an anarchist, I care that she was someone’s mam,” pronounced Ian, adding “grandmam” and “great grandmam” as he called on his conference-honed public-speaking skills to be the people’s laureate in that moment.

A minute’s silence and a spontaneous round of applause followed. Then, exit the regal elephant in the room, last respects paid, for one Queen to be succeeded so soon by another: Mercury’s Queen. What else could master of ceremonies Big Ian declaim but The Show Must Go On. Right song, right time, right note struck.

Annie Donaghy and Graham Hodge in tandem for Time After Time. Picture: David Harrison

The way these fast-moving nights work, songs are covered, if not in glory, then often spectacularly, affectionately, surprisingly, humorously, always heartily, and invariably with a wall of harmony from participants readily guesting on everyone else’s songs. As many as 30 can be performing at one time, never better than when the young players of the York Music Forum join Huge’s brass section.

In between come Big Ian’s rallying calls for donations, bonny lad bon-mots, quips and jests, and expressions of appreciation for the work of the night’s backers, Nimbuscare, and good causes, St Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children Support York and Accessible Arts and Media.

Raising dementia awareness is another driving force, after the death of both Big Ian’s mother-in-law and father, his own work for this cause highlighted in a series of shorts films, two featuring women with dementia, one being introduced to playing pool, the other singing Yesterday with Ian as she was having her hair done.

Las Vegas Ken becomes York Barbican Ken. Picture: David Harrison

Later, he dug out a video clip of daughter Annie, then aged nine, paying lyrical tribute to her grandma at an earlier A Night To Remember at York Theatre Royal.

York’s very own best football commentator bar none, Guy Mowbray, popped up on screen from Old Trafford with a message of support, signing off with “dementia is a team game”. Lovely touch, Guy.

The hits kept on coming: Jess Steel, blowing away any remaining cobwebs with Ironic; Dan (Boss Caine) Lucas’s country take on Dire Straits’ Walk Of Life; Graham Hodge, Annie Donaghy and a saxophone solo for Time After Time; Big Ian leading the audience finger clicks and hand claps for Wham’s Edge Of Heaven.

Jessa Liversidge and Singing For All lap up the applause. Picture: David Harrison

First-half favourite? How about Heather Findlay, Jess Steel, Annie Donaghy and Beth McCarthy’s rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen, the one song title of the night with resonance anew. Next, Las Vegas Ken brought the house down, as comprehensively as that Mecca Bingo demolition job across the road.

Kate Bush was an in-vogue choice after her Stranger Things resurrection, but rather than Running Up That Hill, Heather Findlay brought a shawl, fan flicks and theatricality to Babooshka. Musical director George Hall’s keyboard then brought out the crooner in Big Ian in Elton’s Your Song.

Such is the all-inclusive philosophy of these joyous concerts that performers’ ages range from 13 to 96, heralded at the start to the second half by Big Ian introducing Jessa Liversidge’s Singing For All choir, a breath of fresh air in song, with Jessa on keyboard and neighbour Gary Stewart on guitar for You’ve Got A Friend and Lean On Me.

Heather Findlay performing Babooshka. Picture: Dave Kessell

Gary, playing percussion throughout the night as he does for Hope & Social, later took the microphone with sweet-voiced swagger for Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, and Lean On Me made an unexpected comeback as George Hall’s party piece at the impromptu invitation of Big Ian.

The Y Street Band turned Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman on its head; Simon Snaize stepped out of the band to front Rod Stewart’s Maggie May, accompanied by Kieran O’Malley’s violin, whose beauteous impact on a song rivals The Waterboys’ Steve Wickham.

Hodge, O’Malley and The Y Street Band bonded over Stuck In The Middle With You; Findlay’s 13-year-old son, Harlan, took over the keyboard for her rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.

Having a blast: Young musicians from York Music Forum playing in the 12-piece brass section

Into the final straight, Beth McCarthy pulled off yet another costume change for Tina Turner’s Simply The Best; Big Ian busted out his Travolta moves for Stayin’ Alive; Jess Steel celebrated seeing Diana Ross in Leeds with a supreme Chain Reaction, and Beth hurriedly found one more pink number for the Lulu part in the finale, Relight My Fire, alongside cheerleader Big Ian.

September 8 re-lit the fire for A Night To Remember in the most challenging circumstances. “How we did that, I’ve no idea. Less than an hour after The Queen’s death was announced. Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” said Big Ian the next morning.

“A lifetime of standing up in front of people came to my rescue for a night to remember that no-one will ever forget.

Beth McCarthy giving it her all in Simply The Best. Picture: Dave Kessell

“I know some people love the monarchy and others do not. Yet I was given 1,400 people and a minute’s silence. I needed an angle to make it not about that.”

Big Ian found one; the audience, band and singers alike responded. The show did go on and how! Watch this space to learn the funding total raised for the three charities.   

“The only thing local about this show is the postcode,” concluded Big Ian. “The talent on stage and the generosity they show to one another is something quite unique.”

“How we did that, I’ve no idea,” reflected organiser and host Big Ian Donaghy in the aftermath of going ahead with A Night To Remember only an hour after The Queen’s passing was announced . Picture: David Harrison

To view more of David Harrison’s photographs of A Night To Remember, head to: https://dharrisonyorkphotos.smugmug.com/Music/ANTR-2022

Unforgettable York Barbican night raises £24,000. Big Ian Donaghy says Thank You

“WHEN money is at its tightest and families are struggling to make ends meet, our community and some of the finest musicians with the kindest hearts came together on September 8 at A Night To Remember to raise money for local causes,” says Big Ian.

“The final figure raised was a staggering £24,311. Not bad for a gang show and a big raffle with a group of mates!

“The night, now in its eighth year, has shone the spotlight on local causes and groups to not only provide much needed funds but also raise their profiles.

“The show featured a 30-piece house band made up of Huge, Kieran O’Malley, Gary Stewart and Simon Snaize and musicians from York Music Forum as they accompanied the likes of Jess Steel, Heather Findlay, Beth McCarthy and Graham Hodge.

“The night saw an 80-year age range of performers on stage as Singing for All -a fully inclusive singing group – had the auditorium sing with one voice.

“Who will benefit from this? St.Leonards Hospice, Bereaved Children’s Support York and Accessible Arts and Media, of which the Hands & Voices Choir are part.

“Rather than give money to larger charities, A Night To Remember supports smaller, local, bespoke projects that help people living with dementia and combatting loneliness.

“These include the gardening project York Hull Road Park Volunteers; bespoke dementia-friendly side-by- side art classes for people living with dementia and their carers, run by York artist Sue Clayton; Singing for All and Xmas Presence, giving older people who live alone a family Christmas and delivering lunches and hampers.

“We were uncertain if the show would even happen as it fell on the day the Queen died, but after having to make the official announcement, we opened with The Show Must Go On.

“This is York helping York. Thank-you to Nimbuscare for their invaluable support and to everyone on stage, back stage, front of house and in the audience.

A Night To Remember will return to York Barbican on Thursday, September 14 2023.

A Night To Remember returns to York Barbican for charity gig after 922 days

Light show: Big Ian Donaghy surveys the crowd’s torch display at A Night To Remember. Picture: Karen Boyes

WHEN Big Ian Donaghy shouted “See you next year!”, as he and the team took their final bow to a standing ovation at A Night To Remember on February 29 2020, they could never have envisaged what was just around the corner.

“A total lockdown. Schools closed. The only place to get a beer was your fridge and theatres stood in darkness because apparently ‘The show mustn’t go on’,” he laments. “Guitars were forbidden to come out of their cases for more than 500 day as crowds at gigs were deemed far more ‘dangerous’ than those watching sport.”

Roll on to 7.30pm, September 8 2022 and, thankfully, the return of A Night To Remember, the charity fundraising concert at York Barbican.

Banding together: Every musician and singer on stage at the finale to A Night To Remember. Picture: Duncan Lomax

“It will be 922 days since this unique group of performers has shared a stage to bring the community together and they promise to live up the name A Night To Remember more than ever,” vows organiser and master of ceremonies Big Ian, whose skills as a speaker and host are in demand at such venues as Birmingham NEC and ExCel, London.

“Over the years, these nights have taken community charity gigs to another level as every detail is focused on giving the York audience a night they deserve. No corner is cut for this unique event, from brilliant sound from Craig Rothery, through thought-provoking films on huge video walls, to a 30-piece band.

“On top of that, this year’s concert has been sponsored by Nimbuscare, who have provided invaluable support in putting on this event.”

On song: Another belter from Jess Steel. Picture: Duncan Lomax

The format is “unlike others shows”, says Big Ian, as it requires “everyone to guest on everyone else’s songs with a wall of harmony”.

“No other show has an 83-year age range in performers from 13 to 96 year olds. Previous years saw the line-up take on the near impossible and succeed with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, despite never playing it together beforehand. Somehow it came together!

“A Night To Remember is like Avengers Assemble as the unlikely bunch have now become more like family after eight years together.”

The A Night To Remember crowd having an unforgettable night at York Barbican

In the 30-piece house band will  be members of York party band Huge; Jess Steel; Heather Findlay; Beth McCarthy, on her return to her home city from London; Simon Snaize; Gary Stewart; Graham Hodge; The Y Street Band; Boss Caine; Las Vegas Ken; Kieran O’Malley and young musicians from York Music Forum, all led by George Hall and Ian Chalk.

Singer and choir director Jessa Liversidge will present her inclusive singing group, Singing For All, who previously took part in 2020.

The setlist will take in songs by Kate Bush, Queen, Paul Simon, Wham, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees, Elvis Presley, Bill Withers, Take That, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Alanis Morisette.

Heading home: Beth McCarthy at A Night To Remember. Picture: Duncan Lomax

“Now in its eighth outing, A Night To Remember promises to be an evening of singalongs as the city sings with one voice to raise much-needed funds for St Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children Support York and Accessible Arts and Media, who get people with learning difficulties into performing,” says Big Ian.

“This has become the UK’s largest live concert to raise dementia awareness and will be funding some bespoke dementia projects in York, including art classes with York artist Sue Clayton and singing and gardening groups to combat loneliness.”

Big Ian Donaghy with Annie Donaghy, left, Beth McCarthy, Heather Findlay and Jess Steel at A Night To Remember. Picture: Karen Boyes

Two weeks ago, Big Ian took the challenge with four friends to sell 1,000 tickets for the show in one day. “Somehow we achieved it,” he says. “Now we can’t wait to get everyone back together. Expect a night filled with emotion and fantastic music.

“There are some tickets left but be quick to book at www.yorkbarbican.co.uk, and we ask everyone to bring a raffle prize, if possible, and some money for raffle tickets. Who knows how much we can add to the £150,000 we’ve raised since we started these concerts?

“Remember, remember, the 8th of September, not just a night, but A Night To Remember!”

Theatre@41 combines the new and familiar in autumn and winter of theatre, music, comedy, cinema and pantomime rehearsals

Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Helen Bauer in Madam Good Tit at Theatre@41 in October

NEW partnerships, returning performers, comedy acts aplenty and community theatre regulars make up the autumn and winter season at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York.

One year on from throwing open its doors post-pandemic, the black-box studio will play host to Yorkshire and national companies and artists alike.

“We’re doing all right, whether by chance or design!” says chair Alan Park.  “In the year since we took over the programming, there’s been a nice balance between comedy, music and theatre, with a focus on new writing, as well as continuing our relationships with York Stage, Pick Me Up Theatre, White Rose Theatre, York Settlement Community Players and York Musical Theatre Company.

“The mailing list has gone up from 40 to 2,000 and we feel that people are invested in the building, our charity status, the work we present, and want us to do well. There are plenty of people who run theatres, but we want to run a ‘movement’ and we think we’re getting there.”

Colin Hoult in The Death Of Anna Mann. Picture: Linda Blacker

Looking ahead to the new season, one new partnership finds Theatre@41 linking up with York promoter Al Greaves’s well-established Burning Duck Comedy Club, complementing his programme at The Crescent (and previously at The Basement at City Screen Picturehouse).

“Maggie Smales, one of our trustees, reached out to Al,” says Alan.  “Initially, comedy promoters were contacting us directly, and we were doing maybe two comedy shows a season, but we got in touch with Al to say ‘we don’t want to tread on your toes, but we’d love to work with you’, and so now we have six shows this autumn through linking up with Al.”

Among those shows will be Lauren Pattinson’s It Is What It Is on September 16; Colin Hoult, from the Netflix series After Life, presenting The Death Of Anna Mann  on October 8; the returning Olga Koch, star of her own BBC Radio 4 series, in Just Friends on October 15 and fellow Edinburgh Festival Fringe Best Newcomer nominee Helen Bauer’s Madam Good Tit, on October 22. Look out too for Taskmaster winner Sophie Duker next April.

Returning to Theatre@41 will be Dyad Productions, following up the sold-out I, Elizabeth with Christmas Gothic, adapted and performed by Rebecca Vaughan, on November 26 and 27, and  Sarah-Louise Young, building on the sold-out success of Alan’s favourite show so far, An Evening Without Kate Bush, by presenting her charming yet cheeky West End and Off-Broadway cabaret hit Julie Madly Deeply, a tribute to Julie Andrews.

Sarah-Louise Young in her Julie Andrews tribute, Julie Madly Deeply. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Further returnees will be East Riding company Other Lives Theatre Productions in Landmarks, Nick Darke’s environmentally topical story of a farming family feud, and Nunkie Theatre’s Robert Lloyd Parry with two more gripping MR James ghost stories by candlelight in Oh, Whistle on November 25.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from artists, such as Olga Koch’s agent,” says Alan. “We know there’s paint peeling off walls, the roof is leaking, but we believe in making the artists welcome, like giving them a little York Gin pack on arrival. We try to be a friendly venue where everyone will want to come back.”

Endorsements for Theatre@41 are spreading, leading to debut visits by Mark Farrelly in his Quentin Crisp show, Naked Hope, on September 7 and Olivier Award-winning actor and director Guy Masterson, staging his one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on November 24.

Seven York companies and performers are booked in. Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre will stage Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr from September 23 to October 2 and The Sound Of Music from December 16 to 30 in the Christmas slot. York Settlement Community Players will perform Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning Broadway comedy Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike from November 3 to 5.

Rebecca Vaughan in Dyad Productions’ Christmas Gothic. Picture: Ben Guest

White Rose Theatre will deliver The Last Five Years, an emotionally charged musical full of upbeat numbers and beautiful ballads by Jason Robert Brown that tells the story of two lovers over the course of five years, with Cathy starting her tale at the end of the relationship and Jamie telling his story from the beginning. Directed by Claire Pulpher, it will run from November 9 to 12.

Barnstorming country-rock band The Rusty Pegs will play Rumours (Again!) in a 45th anniversary celebration of the Fleetwood Mac nugget on October 9, after giving Theatre@41’s re-launch gig post-Covid; Jessa Liversidge will sing Some Enchanted Sondheim on October 9, and York Musical Theatre Company will mark their 120th anniversary with A Musical Celebration on October 13 and 14.

Spookologist and ghost-botherer Doctor Dorian Deathly, a winner in the 2022 Visit York Tourism Awards, will make his Theatre@41 debut with his Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!, from October 26 to 31.

“Each night, Dorian will be hot-footing over here after doing his Deathly Dark ghost tour for a cabaret evening with a bar of the dead and cocktails,” says Alan. “He came to us with the idea, and we thought, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. He has a huge following, so we’re delighted he wanted to come here.”

The horror! The horror” The poster for Doctor Dorian Deathly’s Halloween show, A Night Of Face Melting Horror!

Paul Birch, one of the stand-outs in York Theatre Royal’s Green Shoots showcase for new work in June, will bring his improv group, Foolish, to Theatre@41 for the third time. On September 15, he will host a night of ad-hoc comedy improvised from suggestions written in chalk on the stage floor under the title of Cobbled Together.

Seeking to foster a growing relationship with The Groves community, Theatre@41 will play host to the inaugural Groves Community Cinema: a weekend of classic films old and new right on residents’ doorsteps when visitors will be invited to “pay what you feel”, with support from an ARG Events and Festivals Grant in partnership with Make It York and City of York Council.

“Historically, we’re on the edge of The Groves, and maybe The Groves has never quite felt this is The Groves’ theatre, but we hope that putting on a community cinema weekend will make it feel more like it’s part of their community, rather than people just walking past our doors,” says Alan.

Olga Koch: Returning to Theatre@41 to present Just Friends

September 10 will offer Encanto Singalong at 2.30pm and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind at 6pm; September 11, Kes at 2.30pm and Nomadland at 6.30pm.

Three more new additions add to the sense of momentum at Theatre@41. Firstly, £5,000 funding from City of York Council and the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation will ensure the lighting rig “no longer wobbles”; secondly, the theatre will resume being a polling station for elections.

Last, but not least, the Monkgate building will be turned into the rehearsal rooms for veteran dame Berwick Kaler’s Grand Opera House pantomime, Old Granny Goose. “We’re giving them multiple rooms, including the dance studio,” says Alan. “They’ll have the run of the building basically.”

For performance times and to book tickets for the new season, head to: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

Pantomime dame Berwick Kaler and daft-lad sidekick Martin Barrass will be rehearsing Old Granny Goose at Theatre@41 ahead of its run at the Grand Opera House, York

Big Ian launches The Big Christmas Care Singalong for all manner of homes

Sax to the max: Saxophonist Snake Davis recording his solo rendition of Silent Night for The Big Christmas Care Singalong

BIG Ian Donaghy has launched The Big Christmas Care Singalong for care homes across the country and beyond.

In any other year, the York fundraiser, musician, public speaker and dementia campaigner would have been leading a team of volunteers giving a family Christmas Day to older people living alone in the city with his Xmas Presence gathering, as they have for the past five years.

“Unfortunately, as with almost everything this year, it’s had to be cancelled because of Covid-19,” says Ian, who instead has created a “Play as Live online event to bring everyone together to sing with one voice with The Big Christmas Care Singalong”.

Samantha Holden: one of the guest singers taking part in the Singalong

After hatching his plan to unite the world of care this Christmas with The Big Christmas Care Singalong, Ian took over a warehouse with the help of Mark Parker, of AV Matrix.

“Socially distanced with great care and a green screen, one by one, singers and musicians were invited to perform carols and other Christmas mainstays,” says Ian, who conscripted the talents of Jess Steel, Graham Hodge, Jessa Liversidge and Samantha Holden (who has performed with Michael Bublé), accompanied by the omnipresent George Hall on piano.

Saxophone player to the stars Snake Davis – his CV spans Amy Winehouse, Take That, Paul McCartney, The Eurythmics and George Michael – recorded a haunting solo sax version of Silent Night. London session singer and pianist Sam Tanner, who has played with members of The Rolling Stones, The Who and Rod Stewart, performed a reggae version of White Christmas.

Tony, once Brian Clough’s favourite pub landlord, pictured in his Nottingham care home, enjoying The Big Christmas Care Singalong

Expect a setlist ranging from the carols Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Away In A Manger and In The Bleak Midwinter to a soulful version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and a raucous rendition of The Twelve Days Of Christmas, bringing together people from all over the world.

“The performers are superb and the whole thing has a warmth to it that’s needed to lift this year,” says Ian. “A bespoke version of the Christmas Care Singalong created for Nottingham and care homes in the Midlands was broadcast on Tuesday, and afterwards they said: ‘It gave us a real lift to see some of our families involved on the screen sending messages and telling us about their Christmas memories’.

“In fact, the Singalong has already been seen by thousands of care homes all over the world with feedback like ‘Christmas ISN’T cancelled’, from Sam Barrington, an award-winning care consultant from Scarborough, and ‘the perfect gift to us this Christmas – thank you for bringing the UK and Australia together’, from Alana Parker in Sydney.”

Sam Tanner performing his reggae version of White Christmas for The Big Christmas Care Singalong

Ian is delighted that people from all over the world have sent in videos of their Christmas memories and of them singing their festive favourites. “Let’s just say there’s a range of quality but we have included everyone. We have people with learning difficulties and dementia singing alongside the people who support them,” he says.

Thousands of care homes will be playing the Christmas Singalong on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Hospitals and hospices are planning to make an event of it too.

For example, HC-One, the UK’s largest care provider, is embracing it in their 320 care homes. “Watching it on Tuesday, we laughed, cried and sang together – and this beautiful event features so many of our residents having fun,” says Roberta Roccella, HC-One’s head of Quality of Life.

George Hall playing piano for The Big Christmas Care Singalong

“This is a perfect event to bring everyone together. This has been the toughest year ever in care. Throughout the pandemic, Ian was asked to create the national film campaign for Health Education England to recruit the next generation of nurses into social care, so he saw the huge sacrifices people were making for those they cared for in the pandemic.”

During lockdown, when the venues where he usually does his public speaking were turned into Nightingale hospitals, Ian wrote and published a book, A Pocketful of Kindness, to celebrate the power of community and connection.

Now comes The Big Christmas Care Singalong. “This free online event has been universally welcomed by care homes, supported living, hospitals and hospices, both in the UK and Australia,” says Ian. “The joy of it is that if someone is isolated in their own room, they can have their very own private Christmas concert. Christmas can come to them.

Care home staff showing their support for The Big Christmas Care Singalong

“The Singalong can also be accessed in any home at www.thebigchristmassingalong.com, so you too can enjoy it and get an insight into the year people have had in care. In a year where very few television programmes are being made, it will be a welcome change from seeing celebrities on web cams or Del Boy as Batman yet again.”

The Big Christmas Care Singalong is going international in a year when embracing technology has been so vital to communication. “Alana Parker and Nick Wynn in Australia have got involved to spread the word far and wide beyond our shores,” says Ian. “Technology has come so far in the last year. Everyone is far more tech savvy.”

Soulful York singer Jess Steel recording her contribution to The Big Christmas Care Singalong

The online event also incorporates a Jackanory-style story narrated by the Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan, with illustrations by Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband. Television presenter Angela Rippon makes a surprise appearance too.

“Expect something that is somewhere between a Christmas concert, You’ve Been Framed and Gogglebox,” says Ian. “But we hope it will warm people’s hearts and show those who work in our care homes, hospitals and hospices just how invaluable they are.”

Summing up his wishes beyond the impact of The Big Christmas Care Singalong in Covid-19 2020, Ian says: “The vaccine has given us a light at the end of the tunnel but we are still in the tunnel! Despite some people’s wreckless behaviour and lack of consideration for others, we hope that the score at the end of this year will read Covid 19 Kindness 20.”

“Expect something that is somewhere between a Christmas concert, You’ve Been Framed and Gogglebox,” says Ian Donaghy, organiser of The Big Christmas Care Singalong