More Things To Do in and around Tier 2 York at little merry Christmas time and beyond. List No. 22, from The Press, York

Blending into the scenery: Alex Weatherhill’s Dame Nanna Trott in an anything-but-smoothie moment in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk. Picture: Kirkpatrick Photography

CHRISTMAS is on the way, in whatever form the Government allows you to wrap it up, but tiers will not be shed in the world of entertainment.

Charles Hutchinson picks his way through what’s on in the days ahead and in 2021 too.

Jessa Liversidge: Celebrating her favourite musical icons of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s at Sunday’s concert

Nostalgic concert of the week: Jessa Liversidge, Songbirds, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

YORK’S unstoppable force for the joy of singing, Jessa Liversidge, will present her celebration of female icons at the reopened JoRo this weekend, accompanied by pianist Malcolm Maddock.

Expect an eclectic mix of vintage pop, musical theatre and comedy from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “One minute I may be in full, high-energy Victoria Wood flow,” she says. “Moments later, I could be totally still, lost in a Kate Bush or Karen Carpenter song, and then I’ll go straight into theatrical mode for Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns.”

Have yourself a medley little Christmas: York Guildhall Orchestra musicians box up their musical gift for you

Home comfort and joy: York Guildhall Orchestra’s Lockdown Christmas Medley, on YouTube

PERFORMED by more than 50 amateur York musicians, all playing in their own home, then seamlessly stitched together for YouTube by John Guy’s technical wizardry, here comes York Guildhall Orchestra’s Christmas Medley.

Arranged by conductor Simon Wright, they keep to the Wright time as they “play together” for the first time since February’s York Barbican concert, medleying their way through Hark!, The Herald Angels Sing, Ding Dong!, Silent Night And We Wish You A Merry Christmas. View their four-minute smile at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuoW6gvkGxk.

Elf and safety: Daisy Dukes Winter Wonderland, the Covid-secure drive-in cinema, parks up at Elvington Airfield tomorrow

Drive-in home for Christmas: Daisy Dukes Winter Wonderland, Elvington Airfield, near York, December 18 to 20

NOT only have Vue York at Clifton Moor and Everyman York, in Blossom Street, reopened but 2020’s socially distanced, car-contained drive-in boom hits the Christmas movie market from tomorrow too.

The apostrophe-shy Daisy Dukes Drive-in Cinema takes over Elvington Airfield for three days to show: December 18, from 12 noon, Frozen 2, Home Alone, Edward Scissorhands and Die Hard; December 19, from 12 noon, Elf, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Gremlins and Bad Santa; December 20, from 11am, The Polar Express, Home Alone 2, Batman Returns and Love Actually.

Clowning around: Magic Carpet Theatre in Magic Circus

Children’s virtual show of the week outside York: Pocklington Arts Centre presents Magic Carpet Theatre in Magic Circus, from Saturday

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is to stream Magic Carpet Theatre’s show Magic Circus from 2.30pm on December 19, available on YouTube for up to seven days.

Directed by Jon Marshall with music by Geoff Hardisty and effects by Theatrical Pyrotechnics, this fast-moving hour-long show, full of magical illusions, comedy, circus skills and puppets, tells the humorous tale of what happens to the ringmaster’s extravaganza after the artistes and elephants fail to arrive and everything has to be left in the hands of the clowns. Disaster!

What a Carr-y on: Alan Carr rearranges York Barbican gigs for 2021…and 2022

Who should have been in York this week? Alan Carr: Not Again, Alan!, York Barbican, now re-scheduled

ALAN Carr, comic son of former York City footballer Graham Carr, had been booked in to perform Not Again, Alan! at York Barbican again and again this week, four nights in fact, from Wednesday to Saturday, on his first tour in four years.

Covid kicked all that into touch, but all tickets remain valid for the new dates. December 16 2020 is now in the diary for January 14 2022; December 17 for January 15 2022; December 18 for December 18 2021, and December 19 for the same day next year.

TV and radio presenter Carr will muse on the things that make his life weird and wonderful, from his star-studded wedding day to becoming an accidental anarchist; from fearing for his life at border control to becoming a reluctant farmer. “Three words spring to mind,” he says. “Not again, Alan!”

Crystal clear: Fairfax House raises a glass to a Georgian Christmas in A Season For Giving

Exhibition for the winter: A Season For Giving, Fairfax House, York, running until February 7

THE Christmas installation at the Georgian home of the Terry family, Fairfax House, ironically will not be open from December 21 to January 5, so catch it before then or afterwards (Tuesdays to Sundays, 11am to 4pm).

On a festive journey through the townhouse collections, room by room, magical scene by magical scene, meet Noel Terry for a 1940s’ family Christmas, join a raucous Georgian Christmas dinner party, and much more besides. Visits must be pre-booked.

Having a ball: Amy J Payne, Julia Mariko Smith and Marie Claire Breen in Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella for Opera North

Opera North at Christmas:  Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella, ONDemand from today

OPERA North’s Whistle Stop Opera version of Cinderella was booked into the NCEM in York and Pocklington Arts Centre but Covid ruled No Show. Instead, parents and children aged five upwards can enjoy it online at home over the school holidays.

Filmed at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, John Savournin’s magical musical production stars Marie Claire Breen as Cinderella, Amy J Payne as Prince/Stepmother and Julia Mariko Smith as Fairy Godmother, drawing on various versions of the rags-to-riches tale, such as Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Massenet’s Cendrillon, Pauline Viardot’s operetta Cendrillon and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella. For more details on how to watch, go to operanorth.co.uk

Braced for it: Van Morrison will play two nights at York Barbican next May

Big-name Irish signings for York Barbican in 2021: Van Morrison, May 25 and 26, and Chris De Burgh and Band, October 15

NORTHERN Irishman Van Morrison, 75, has booked a brace of Barbican gigs for the spring; Southern Irishman Chris De Burgh, will follow him to York next autumn.

In September, Morrison launched three protest songs, one every two weeks, railing against safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Born To Be Free, As I Walked Out and No More Lockdown. Will he unmask any of them next May? Wait and see.

De Burgh & Band’s only Yorkshire date of The Legend Of Robin Hood & Other Hits tour will support his upcoming album of the same name (except for the Other Hits part, obviously).

Arrowing experience: Chris De Burgh & Band will perform his 2021 tour show, The Legend Of Robin Hood & Other Hits, at York Barbican

And what about?

JUST a reminder, York has two pantomimes on the go: York Theatre Royal’s newly extended Travelling Pantomime tour of the city and York Stage’s “musical with pantomime braces on”, Jack And The Beanstalk, at Theatre @41 Monkgate.

You’ve got to fight for your right to panto: Faye Campbell’s hero takes on Reuben Johnson’s villain in York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime. Picture: Ant Robling

REVIEW: Made In Dagenham, re-made in York, Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company

Jennie Wogan as Rita O’Grady in Made In Dagenham

REVIEW: Made In Dagenham, The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, 7.30pm tonight; 2.30pm, 7.30pm tomorrow. Box office:  01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk

MADE In Dagenham, re-made in York, is the third production by the Jospeh Rowntree Theatre Company, formed to raise funds for the Haxby Road community theatre.

A good cause, in other words, and the more companies that use this ever-welcoming theatre, the better. The more companies that rise up to tread its boards, the better, too, because York is suffused with musical theatre talent and also with audiences always keen to support such productions.

This week represents the chance to see the York premiere of Made In Dagenham, transferred from screen to stage by composer David Arnold, lyricist Richard Thomas and Richard Bean, the Hull playwright whose comedy dramas revel in confrontations, spats and politics on stage (witness One Man, Two Guvnors and Toast, for example).

Bean re-tells the true 1968 story of the women in the stitching room of Ford’s Dagenham car plant being stitched up by both management and corrupt union, bluntly told their pay is to be dropped to an “unskilled” grade. What follows is a fight for equal pay, standing up against an American corporation, and if the battle is less well known than the Suffragette movement of the 1900s, it is a women’s rights landmark nonetheless.

From the off, once an ensemble number loosens limb and voice alike for Kayleigh Oliver’s cast, the banter amid the graft of the sewing machinists is boisterously established, the humour full of double entendres and sexual bravado, as characters are drawn pleasingly quickly. So too are their interactions with the men at the car plant, and in the case of Rita O’Grady (Jennie Wogan), working wife and mother of two, her home life with husband Eddie (Nick Sephton).

Rita, together with Rosy Rowley’s Connie Riley, become the protagonists of the struggle, but at a cost: for one, her relationship, for the other, her health. Wogan and Rowley are both tremendous in the drama’s grittier scenes and knock the hell out of their big numbers.

Bean writes with more sentimentality than usual, charting the fracturing of Rita and Eddie’s relationship, but it suits the heightened tone of a musical. Sephton handles his ballad lament particularly well.

Jennifer Jones’s Sandra, Izzy Betts’ Clare and, in particular, Helen Singhateh’s lewd Beryl add to the car plant fun and games, as does Chris Gibson’s ghastly American management guy, Tooley. All your worst Stetson-hatted American nightmares in one, and post-Brexit, there’ll soon be more where he came from!

You will enjoy Martyn Hunter’s pipe-smoking caricature of Prime Minister Harold Wilson and director Kayleigh Oliver’s no-nonsense Barbara Castle too. Richard Goodall is good all round as the machinists’ hard-pressed union rep.

Supporting roles and ensemble serve the show well too, and if sometimes the sound balance means lines are hard to hear when the Timothy Selman’s orchestra is playing beneath them, it is a minor problem. Selman’s players, Jessica Douglas and Sam Johnson among them, are on good form throughout.

Lorna Newby’s choreography could be given a little more oomph but with so many on stage at times, space is tight. One routine, where the women move in circles one way, and the men do likewise the other way, outside them, works wonderfully, however.

Made In Dagenham may be a car plant story, but its factory politics resonate loudly nanew in York, the industrial city of chocolate and trains.

Please note, Made In Dagenham features some very strong language and may be unsuitable for children.

Made In Dagenham cast made up by meeting with Rachael Maskell MP and West End actor Scott Garnham

Councillor Robert Webb, Kayleigh Oliver (playing Barbara Castle), Rachael Maskell MP, Martyn Hunter (playing Harold Wilson) and Councillor Anna Perrett at Sunday’s rehearsal run of Made In Dagenham

YORK Central MP Rachael Maskell and West End musical theatre star Scott Garnham, from Malton, popped along to Sunday’s rehearsal run of Made In Dagenham.

The session was open to York Residents Festival visitors as the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company prepared for their fundraising musical production in aid of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Presented by the JoRo’s in-house company, Made In Dagenham tells the true story of the beginning of the equal pay for women movement, focusing on the Ford strike at Dagenham in the 1960s.

The choice of show could not be more relevant because the York performances coincide with the 50th anniversary of the passing of Barbara Castle’s Equal Pay Act of 1970.

The Cortina girls and Buddy Cortina, from the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company show, with Malton actor Scott Garnham, from the original West End production. of Made In Dagenham. Left to right: Lucy Plimmer, Jenny Jones, Ben Huntley, Scott Garnham, Karen Brunyee and Ashley Ginter.

The subject of equal pay and discrimination is close to Rachael Maskell’s heart, as the Labour MP spent many years as a union rep campaigning for equal rights. Re-elected at the December 12 General Election, she has been appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights. 

Addressing the company on the Rowntree Theatre stage, Ms Maskell said: “This is an inspirational story you are telling, and it remains a story of women at work today. If we don’t speak out, how do we expect things to change?”

She described the women of Dagenham as “sparky women who would not take no for an answer”, and urged the JoRo company to “go out there and keep fighting”.

Scott Garnham, who has performed many times on the Rowntree Theatre stage, appeared  in the original London production of Made in Dagenham in the role of Buddy Cortina.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s fabulous machinists of Dagenham meet York Central MP Rachael Maskell and York councillors Robert Webb and Anna Perrett

In York last week for Friday’s tribute show The Best Of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Grand Opera House, on Sunday Scott said: “To come and support this local community theatre is really important to me. I learned a lot of my stagecraft here in this building.

“The venue is a real hub for performers of all ages and backgrounds, and theatre is a very unifying experience. I’m so pleased that the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company have chosen to do this show as their annual fundraiser.  It’s the story of a truly inspirational group of women, many of whom I had the great pleasure to meet.”

Despite its gritty subject matter, Made In Dagenham is described as a heart-warming story, full of humour, coupled with wonderful music. Although the show is not suitable for young children, on account of “some very strong language”, the company hopes to introduce a wide new audience to the sparky women of Dagenham.

Next week’s production runs from February 5 to 8 at 7.30pm nightly plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are available on 01904 501935, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the Haxby Road theatre’s box office.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company to stage York premiere of Made In Dagenham

Standing up against a huge corporation: Jennie Wogan as Rita O’Grady in Made In Dagenham. All pictures: Simon Charles

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company will present the York premiere of Made In Dagenham from February 5 to 8 to raise funds for the community theatre in Haxby Road, York.

Directed by Kayleigh Oliver, this will be the third such musical production after Mel Brooks’s The Producers in 2018 and Cole Porter and Bella and Samuel Spewack’s Kiss Me, Kate in 2019.

David Arnold, Richard Thomas and Hull playwright Richard Bean’s Made In Dagenham is inspired by the remarkable true story of a group of women, working in Ford’s Dagenham car plant, that stood tall against a huge corporation and won the fight for equal pay, a battle still raging all over the world.

Jenny Jones as Sandra in Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s Made In Dagenham

Rita O’Grady, a working wife and mother, has her life changed forever when the girls in Ford’s stitching room are told their pay is to be dropped to an “unskilled” grade. It falls to Rita to lead her friends in the fight against Ford and the corruption of the union.

Along the way in their inspiring journey, they learn the value of friendship, solidarity and the importance of fighting for what’s right, as told in a funny, touching and timeless musical that remains as relevant today as ever.

Jennie Wogan, latterly seen in Scrooge, King Lear and Kiss Me, Kate, takes the role of Rita, joined by talent from the York amateur theatre scene, such as Helen Singhateh, from Little Shop Of Horrorsand the UK/European tour of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!, as Beryl; Nick Sephton, from Patience and Pirates Of Penzance, as Eddie O’Grady, and Martyn Hunter, from Brassed Off and Calendar Girls, as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Jennie Wogan in rehearsal for her lead role as Rita O;Grady

Malton actor, singer and now producer Scott Garnham starred in the original West End production. “It’s a great show and I’m delighted that someone is presenting it in York, where I started my career,” he says.

“The York premiere really is an event,” says lead actress Jennie Wogan. “It’s a story about love, family and doing what’s right, all told with humour, honesty and some wonderfully written songs.”

Oliver is joined in the production team by assistant director Alex Schofield, producer Tom Diar Davey=Rogerson, musical director Tim Selman, choreographer Lorna Newby and costume designer Karen Brunyee.

Tickets for the 7.30pm evening performances and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale on 01904 501935, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the JoRo box office. Please note, Made In Dagenham features some very strong language and may be unsuitable for children.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next month’s Made In Dagenham

Cast List
Rita O’Grady – Jennie Wogan
Beryl – Helen Singhateh
Sandra – Jennifer Jones
Clare – Izzy Betts
Cass – Riffat Rizvi
Rachel/Club Singer  – Clare Meadley
MC – Hannah Ainscough
Connie Riley – Rosy Rowley
Lisa Hopkins – Karen Brunyee
Barbara Castle – Kayleigh Oliver
Sharon O’Grady – Ella Meadley

Helen Singhateh as Beryl in Made In Dagenham

Eddie O’Grady – Nick Sephton
Graham O’Grady – Ben Wood
Sid/Stan – Tom Diar Davey-Rogerson
Bill/Stan – Cam O’Byrne
Monty – Richard Goodall
Barry – Joe Hesketh
Mr Hopkins – Mark Simmonds
Chubby Chuff – Ben Huntley
Tooley – Chris Gibson
Mr Hubble – Nick Jackson
Mr Macer – Gary Bateson
Wilson’s Aide 1 – Alastair Bush

Wilson’s Aide 2 – Cam O’Byrne
Wilson’s Aide 3 – Ben Huntley
Harold Wilson – Martyn Hunter
Mr Buckton – Gary Bateson
Buddy Cortina – Ben Huntley

Chris Gibson as Tooley in rehearsal for Made In Dagenham

Ensemble
Ruth Chapman
Hannah Ainscough
Ashley Ginter
Pamela Bradley
Leon Evangeliou
Lorna Newby
Abigail Atkinson
Michelle Atkinson
Jane Woolgar
Lucy Plimmer

Production team

Kayleigh Oliver – director

Alex Schofield – assistant director

Tom Diar Davey-Rogerson – producer

Hannah Ainscough – tech manager

Tim Selman – musical director

Lorna Newby – choreography

Karen Brunyee – costume

Ben Huntley – publicity