York Musical Theatre Company say Hooray For Hollywood in escapist November show

Six of the best for Hooray For Hollywood: Paul Laidlaw’s cast for York Musical Theatre Company’s November show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

YORK Musical Theatre Company will head off to Hollywood in November with a desire for escapism from months of pandemic lockdowns.

Devised by director Paul Laidlaw, Hooray For Hollywood’s celebration of songs from Hollywood’s golden age was first performed by YMTC at the York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007. 

From November 8 to 10 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Laidlaw’s revival of his slick and sophisticated six-hander show will explore the musical masters of the classic Hollywood of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Laidlaw’s cast is made up of four women and two men: Cat Foster, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer, joined by Richard Bayton and John Haigh.

This nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of Hollywood is packed with love songs, torch songs, and comic numbers from the bygone days of  Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Director Laidlaw says: “We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round [a revue of Kander and Ebb’s songbook] a few years ago, and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Tickets for the three 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.

More Things To Do in and around York as creative night market launched. List No. 49, courtesy of The Press, York

Big news! York artist Freya Horsley, right, and gallery co-director Ails McGee with Freya’s paintings Turning Tide and Liquid Light at According To McGee, York

BIG paintings, a night market, thrillers at the double, cookery chat, an anniversary celebration, a long-awaited Scottish return and a brace of comedians are the diverse focus of Charles Hutchinson’s attention.

Exhibition of the week: Freya Horsley, Contemporary Seascapes, According To McGee, York, running until October 11

ACCORDING To McGee is playing host to the biggest paintings the Tower Street gallery has ever exhibited: Liquid Light and Turning Tide, two mixed-media works on canvas by Freya Horsley.

The York artist is displaying a new series of seascape paintings depicting the Cornish, Scottish and north east coastlines.

“Her art makes you look twice because it has a calming quality and, like a good sunrise, it makes you go ‘wow!’,” says co-director Greg McGee.

York Creatives Night Market: Debut night of arts, crafts, music, food and drink at Shambles Market tomorrow

York Creatives Night Market, Shambles Market, York, tomorrow, 7pm to 10.30pm

POSTPONED at short notice on August 20, the debut York Creatives Night Market goes ahead tomorrow in a chance to browse art and products by independent traders.

Street food, drinks and music all evening are on the menu too for this free event, open to all.

The Rusty Pegs: Tenth anniversary concert at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Celebrating ten years on: The Rusty Pegs, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Saturday, 8pm

TEN years ago, York country band The Rusty Pegs formed, drawn from volunteers at the Monkgate theatre, who were asked to perform their debut gig there at a Raising The Roof fundraiser.

To mark a decade of making music together, the Pegs have decided to come full circle by performing an anniversary gig in the same place where it all started, this time launching the autumn season. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

No mistaking Justin Currie: Del Amitri return with Fatal Mistakes album for first York gig since 2002

Long time coming: Del Amitri, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.45pm

DEL Amitri follow up the May 28 release of their seventh studio album, Fatal Mistakes, with a return to York Barbican after a 19-year hiatus.

Justin Currie’s Glaswegian band last played there in May 2002, the year they released their last album, Can You Do Me Good?.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since we toured with a new album, lord knows what took us so long,” says Currie. “The prospect of sprinkling our set with a few choices from Fatal Mistakes fills us with the sort of excitement that, for some men of our age, might call for light medication. We think the adrenaline will see us through.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

No smoke without ire: Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss blows his top at York Barbican

Comedy gig of the week: Daniel Sloss: Hubris, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

SUNDAY’S gig is third time lucky for Scotsman Daniel Sloss, whose October 3 2020 and May 8 2021 visits were ruled out by the accursed Covid.

Sloss, 30, has sold out six New York solo off-Broadway seasons, appeared on American television’s Conan show ten times and toured to more than 50 countries. Now, at last, comes his new show, with special guest Kai Humphries.

Look out for Sloss’s book, Everyone You Hate Is Going To Die (And Other Comforting Thoughts On Family, Friends, Sex, Love, And More Things That Ruin Your Life), from October 12. For tickets for Sunday, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

What’s cooking? Cookbook writer Yotam Ottolenghi finds flavour at York Theatre Royal on Tuesday

Flavour of the month: Yotam Ottolenghi, A Life In Flavour, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm

CHEF, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi reflects on A Life In Flavour, provides cooking inspiration and signs copies of his “flavour-forward, vegetable-based” cookbook, Ottolenghi Flavour, after the show on Tuesday.

West Jerusalem-born Ottolenghi will be discussing the tastes, ingredients and flavours that excite him and how he has created a career from cooking.

Expect “unique insights into how flavour is dialled up and why it works, from basic pairings fundamental to taste, to cooking methods that elevate ingredients to great heights”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Dane Baptiste: Comedian with a chip on his shoulder at Burning Duck Comedy Club

The other comedy gig of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Dane Baptiste: The Chocolate Chip, The Crescent, York, September 23, 7.30pm

IN his own words, Dane Baptiste is now a “grown ass black man, too old to be concerned with chicken or trainers, too young to be considered a peer of Trevor McDonald”.

Has he got a chip on his shoulder? “Yes. A chocolate one,” says Baptiste, a south east London stand-up who once worked in media sales.

Noted for his boldly provocative material, he hosts the podcasts Dane Baptiste Questions Everything and Quotas Full. Box office: thecrescentyork.com/events.

The Rowntree Players’ poster for next week’s production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

Web of the week: Rowntree Players in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, September 23 to 25, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

DIPLOMAT’S wife Clarissa is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room, she finds live drama much harder to cope with in Rowntree Players’ autumn return, directed by Howard Ella.

Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. 

In a conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie’s Spider’s Web delivers suspense and humour in equal measure in an intricate plot of murder, police detection, hidden doorways and secret drawers. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

In the chair: Just Some Theatre in rehearsal for The Killer Question, heading to Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Mystery of the week ahead: Just Some Theatre in The Killer Question, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, September 25, 7.30pm

THE Silence Of The Lambs meets Last Of The Summer Wine in Dave Payne’s dark comedy thriller The Killer Question, marking the York debut of Manchester company Just Some Theatre.

Did The Chair game show champion Walter Crump’s obsession with death ultimately lead to his own? Inspector Black believes so, and now Crump’s dopey widow, Margaret, finds herself accused of her husband’s murder. 

Faced by more than one deadly twist in the tale, can Inspector Black solve the mystery? Will Margaret be home in time for Countryfile? Just as important, which actor – Peter Stone, Jake Urry or Jordan Moore – will play which character? The audience decides. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York with fishermen, Irishmen and a Scotsman. List No. 48, courtesy of The Press, York

Getting Away With Murder(s) documentary filmmaker David Wilkinson at the gate of Auschwitz 1

AS the Grand Opera House reopens, diaries are starting to fill to pre-pandemic levels, much to the delight of a post self-isolating Charles Hutchinson.

Film world premiere of the week: Getting Away With Murder(s); Everyman York, Blossom Street, York, tonight, 6.30pm to 10.30pm

IT has taken 18 years for Yorkshire filmmaker David Wilkinson to bring his documentary, Getting Away With Murder(s), to the big screen.

Exploring an overlooked aspect of the Holocaust, he reveals that “almost one million people in 22 countries willingly carried out the unprovoked murder of 11 million innocent men, women and children but 99 per cent of those responsible were never prosecuted”.

Wilkinson, who examines the reasons behind the disregard for justice, will take part in a post-screening Q&A. Box office: everymancinema.com.

Fisherman’s Friends: Hooked on sea songs at York Barbican

They inspired a film and now they are back: Fisherman’s Friends: Unlocked & Unleashed, York Barbican, tomorrow, 7pm

CORNISH “buoy band” Fisherman’s Friends – combined aged 401 – re-emerge from lockdown for their Unlocked & Unleashed tour.

As celebrated in the film that shares their name, for 40 years they have met on the Platt of Port Isaac’s harbour to sing the songs of the sea.

In the line-up are lobster fisherman Jeremy Brown; writer, shopkeeper and master of ceremonies Jon Cleave; smallholder and engineer John ‘Lefty’ Lethbridge; Yorkshire-born builder John McDonnell; Padstow fisherman Jason Nicholas; filmmaker Toby Lobb and the new boy, former ambulance driver Pete Hicks. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

One Night In Dublin: One night in York for Irish songs aplenty at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Irish gig/jig of the week: One Night In Dublin, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

SATURDAY night is the chance to spend One Night In Dublin – in York – when “Murphy’s Irish Pub” opens its doors at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Join in the craic as the lively Irish tribute band covers such Irish staples as Galway Girl, Tell Me Ma, Dirty Old Town, Irish Rover, Seven Drunken Nights and Whiskey In The Jar. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Gary Meikle: Scottish comedian in Surreal mode at York Barbican

This experience really is “Surreal”: Gary Meikle: Surreal, York Barbican, Sunday, 8pm

DELAYED from April 8 to this weekend, playfully dark cheeky-chappie Scottish comedian and “viral sensation” Gary Meikel presents his second tour show in York.

Looking to “get away with talking about anything that will have you laughing at things you probably shouldn’t be”, punchy storyteller Meikle draws material from his own experiences, not least his unique family dynamic.

New show Surreal covers such topics as evolution, social media, how to deal with burglars, single mums, bee sex and small-man syndrome. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Exploration of family, myth and memory loss: Second Body’s Max Barton and Jethro Cooke in Styx at Theatre At The Mill

Residency of the week: Second Body in Styx, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday and Tuesday, 8pm

SECOND Body duo Max Barton and Jethro Cooke present their theatre-concert exploration of family, myth, memory loss and Max’s grandma, now with remixed music and bearing wounds wrought by 18 months of disrupted human connectivity.

“What does it mean to lose the memories that make us who we are?” they ask. “How can we continue to be ourselves when we are separated from our loved ones.” Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Back in Black: Robert Goodale and Antony Eden in the ghost story The Woman In Black, haunting the Grand Opera House, York, from Monday. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Re-opening of the week: Grand Opera House, York, for The Woman In Black, Monday to Saturday

AFTER 547 days, the Grand Opera House, York, steps out of the darkness and into The Woman In Black from Monday.

In PW Productions’ latest tour of Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost story, Robert Goodale plays Arthur Kipps, an elderly lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a “Woman in Black” for 50 years now.

Antony Eden is the young Actor he engages to help him tell that story and exorcise his fears, but soon reality begins to blur and the flesh begins to creep. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

Bird song: Henry Bird, pictured in his Vampires Rock days, will be the special guest for You Can’t Stop The Beat

Community concert of the week: You Can’t Stop The Beat, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

GENERATION Groove and Community Chorus are joined by special guest Henry Bird, the well-travelled York singer and guitarist for Tuesday’s fundraiser.

“Concerts and performances have been on hold for well over a year and we’re all delighted to be back getting you singing and even dancing and raising money to help the wonderful Joseph Rowntree Theatre go from strength to strength,” say the organisers. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Waitress: Serving up a slice of musical pie at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday

Musical of the week outside York: Waitress, Leeds Grand Theatre, September 14 to 18

MEET Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of some joy in her life. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life turns more complicated and challenging, but with the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, she finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.

Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s comedy musical stars Lucie Jones as Jenna, Emmerdale’s Sandra Marvin as Becky, Evelyn Hoskins  as Dawn and Busted’s Matt Willis as Dr Pomatter. For tickets:  0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Destiny calling: Kirk Brandon’s Spear Of Destiny are heading to The Crescent in York

Cult band you really should see: Spear Of Destiny, The Crescent, York, September 19

LEADING Spear Of Destiny for 38 years now, Kirk Brandon heads out on their Worldservice@35 tour on the back of releasing last November’s lockdown album.

Brandon’s post-punk band – featuring Adrian Portas (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children), Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy/The Cult /The Mission), Phil Martini (Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind) and saxophonist Clive Osborne – re-recorded 1985’s WorldService album during 2020.

The WorldService@35 tour features the album and B-sides in full plus an extended career-spanning encore at three Yorkshire shows: York, then Leeds Brudenell Social Club on September 21 and The Welly, Hull, September 25.

Pie thrower: Jonathan Pie will vent his anger at the truth vacuum at the Grand Opera House, York

Angriest man of the month award: Jonathan Pie, Fake News (The Corona Remix), Grand Opera House, York, September 19, 7.30pm

JONATHAN Pie, the no-holds-barred fictitious political broadcaster alter-ego of Tom Walker, is resuming his Fake News tour that began in 2019 and had to twiddle its agitated thumbs through lockdown.

In that hiatus, Walker continued to post Jonathan Pie content to his social-media channels, whether commenting on the global reaction to the 2020 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement or woke culture.

Now he unleashes his righteous rage once more on stage. Tickets for the York slice of Pie are on sale at atgtickets.com/york.

More Things To Do in and around York in the embers of the summer festival season. List No 46, courtesy of The Press, York

Liam Gallagher: Tomorrow’s headliner at Leeds Festival

SUMMER ends with Leeds Festival, apparently, but Charles Hutchinson begs to differ by highlighting plenty more reasons to be cheerful as nights start to lengthen.

Biggest crowd of the week: Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, near Wetherby, tomorrow (27/8/2021) to Sunday

AFTER a gap year in Covid-crocked 2020, Leeds Festival returns from tomorrow with a sold-out crowd at full capacity. 

Among the first day’s top acts are headliners Lian Gallagher and Biffy Clyro, Gerry Cinnamon, Wolf Alice, Blossoms and Doncaster’s Yungblud.

Saturday’s names to watch are Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, AJ Tracey, Mabel, Sam Fender and Sports Team. Sunday promises Post Malone, Disclosure, Two Door Cinema Club, The Wombats and Slowthai.  

Shed Seven: Topping the all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, on Saturday

On the other hand, Yorkshire’s gig of the week is…Shed Seven at The Piece Hall, Halifax, Saturday.

YORK favourites Shed Seven at last can go ahead with their all-Yorkshire bill after 2020’s two postponements and a move from June 26 to August 28 this summer.

The dates may change but the bill remains the same: York’s on-the-rise, rousing  Skylights, Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and the Brighton Beach DJs on the decks.

Never mind the clash with Leeds Festival. “Let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” says the Sheds’ Rick Witter.

Andrew Harrison: Performing Nigel Forde’s one-man show, The Last Cuckoo, at Stillington Mill, near York, tomorrow night

Bird song of the week: Sea View Productions in Nigel Forde’s The Last Cuckoo, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

ON his return home from his irascible ornithologist uncle Harry Baskerville’s ’s funeral, Duncan Campbell begins the slow, sad process of working through its effects in The Last Cuckoo, a one-man show about loss, hope and birds.

As he does so, he finds within the ghostly confines of this remote coastal cottage a way into a world he never knew existed: the entrance into a life he never dared hope for. However, this awareness brings with it costly choices and, most daunting of all, the possibility of real change.

Penned exquisitely by Warter poet and writer Nigel Forde, former presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Bookshelf, this beautiful theatre piece will be performed by Riding Lights Theatre Company alumnus Andrew Harrison, directed for Sea View Productions by Robin Hereford. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

The Carpenters Experience: Tribute show to Karen and Richard at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Tribute show of the week: The Carpenters Experience, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

IT’S Yesterday Once More as British singer Maggie Nestor and eight musicians capture the smooth American sounds of Richard and Karen Carpenter. 

Expect echoes of Karen’s silky contralto, Richard’s pretty piano and seamless harmonies in a big production featuring Close To You, We’ve Only Just Begun, Top Of The World, Rainy Days And Mondays, Solitaire, Goodbye To Love, For All We Know and Only Yesterday. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Being Frank: Stephen Tompkinson in Educating Rita, on tour at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday. Picture: Matt Humphrey

Theatre show of the week in York: Educating Rita, York Theatre Royal, August 31 to September 4

WHEN married hairdresser Rita enrols on a university course to expand her horizons, little does she realise where her journey will take her.

Tutor Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, less than enthusiastic about taking on Rita, but soon they learn how much they have to teach each other.

Directed by Max Roberts, Willy Russell’s comedy two-hander stars Jessica Johnson as Rita and Stephen Tompkinson as Frank. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Curtains! Another catastrophe is imminent in Magic Goes Wrong, Mischief and Penn & Teller’s calamitous comedy caper at Leeds Grand Theatre

Theatre show of the week ahead outside York: Magic Goes Wrong, Leeds Grand Theatre, casting a spell from August 30 to September 4

BACK with another comedy catastrophe, this time dusted with magic, Mischief follow up The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery with a show created with   Penn & Teller, no less.

A hapless gang of magicians is staging an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity, but as the magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does the fundraising target.

On tour for the first time, the show is written Penn Jillette, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields and Teller and directed by Adam Meggido. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.

Fangfest co-organiser Gerry Grant dunking a raku ceramic in water

Top of the pots: Fangfest, Fangfoss, September 4 and 5, 10am to 4pm each day

FANGFEST, the celebration of pottery, crafts, art and scarecrows in Fangfoss, ten miles east of York, returns next month after a Covid-enforced hiatus in 2020.

To keep the family event as Covid-safe as possible, much of the festival organised by Gerry and Lyn Grant, of Fangfoss Pottery, will be taking place outdoors.

The weekend combines art, pottery, illustration, jewellery, printmaking, archery, wood carving, textiles, willow weaving, classic cars, East Yorkshire history, food and scarecrows. Entry is free.

Kate Winslet, left, and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite, showing at the Yorkshire Fossil Festival in Scarborough

Dinosaurs, stones and more in Yorkshire Fossil Festival’s fistful of films: Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, September 10 and 11

FOR the first time, the Stephen Joseph Theatre is teaming up with the Yorkshire Fossil Festival SJT to bring five palaeontology-inspired films to the McCarthy screen.

Highlights include September 10’s 8pm screening of stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen’s 1969 dinosaur classic, The Valley Of Gwangi, introduced by palaeo-artist James McKay, who hosts a post-screening Q&A too.

Further films on September 10 will be Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur (2pm) and Jurassic Park (5pm); September 11, The Land Before Time (2pm and 5pm) and Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan (8pm). Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Fish’n’quips: George Egg serves up his Movable Feast on tour in October

Meals on wheels, jokes on a plate, here comes George Egg’s cracking tour show…

COMEDY and cooking combine when anarchic cook George Egg serves up his Movable Feast on tour in Yorkshire in October.

Determined to make food on the move, Egg offers his guide to cooking with cars, on rail tracks and in the sky.  “It’s time for Planes, Trains and Automob-meals (sorry),” he says. 

Sprinkled with handy hacks, the 7.30pm shows conclude with the chance to taste the results on the three plates. Tour dates include Stillington Village Hall, near York, October 10; Pocklington Arts Centre, October 13, and Terrington Village Hall, near Malton, October 17. Box office: georgeegg.com.

What a farce as Nigel Planer premieres All Above Board at Joseph Rowntree Theatre

“It’s a high-risk show, as it’s a farce, which is pretty out of fashion,” says Nigel Planer, introducing his new play , All Above Board

REMEMBER Neil the hippy in the Eighties’ student sitcom The Young Ones or maybe Ralph Filthy in Filthy Rich And Catflap?

They were but two of the creations of British comedy legend Nigel Planer, actor, West End musical theatre performer, comedian, novelist and playwright, whose latest premiere is on its way to York.

Planer, Westminster-born star of The Comic Strip Presents, Blackadder and Death In Paradise too, has penned All Above Board, his sixth stage play, for St Helens company Northern Comedy Theatre to tour across the north and the Midlands.

On Thursday and Friday, this typically British farce of mistaken identities and disastrous decisions will play the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

“You send out loads of plays to loads of theatres, but a friend of mine, who also writes comedy, suggested I should get in touch with Northern Comedy Theatre artistic director Shaun Chambers, and three words appealed to me,” says Planer, 68, explaining how the new partnership was formed. “Northern! Comedy! Theatre!”

“After a sketchy first draft caught Shaun’s eye, it’s on to its fourth draft for the rehearsals, and I went up there for the fourth read-through, with a really impressive casting pool. All of them are just good, funny people.

“It can make you a bit nervous going to a read-through, especially as serious actors can subtract from the jokes, but that wasn’t the case!”

All Above Board finds an unlikely bunch of modern-day do-gooders trying to make the world a better place, but they lose the plot, their morals and even their clothes in farce tradition. 

In a nutshell, Timothy Upton-Fell has quit the world of banking and now – for all the wrong reasons – he wants to give something back by helping those less fortunate. Along with his brazen and shameless PR agent, Florence, he plans a charity auction to raise money for good causes, but misguidedly he enlists the help of narcissistic television personality, Matthew Board, a man clearly on the edge in more ways than one.

Matters are made worse by Sir Ommany John, a geriatric world-famous artist who still has an eye for the ladies; Katia, a confused Finnish exchange student, and not least Cressida, Timothy’s crazed and vengeful ex-wife. Furthermore, will Walji, the Punjabi plasterer, ever turn up?

“It’s a high-risk show, as it’s a farce, which is pretty out of fashion,” says Planer. “It’s high risk too because, with a farce, you just set off and it can all come crashing down around you as it relies on speed, dexterity and team play.

“It’s like a sports team: they have to play with each other, whereas in the days of doing stand-up comedy, that’s something they’re not used to having to do. You have to pick up the baton and pass it on.

“I say it’s high risk, but when it’s working, there’s nothing like a good farce, like those Brian Rix farces on television that were always broadcast live – and that’s the way to do it.”

Planer’s last but one play was based on an 18th century farce, The Game Of Love And Chance, re-set in the suburban world of a well-off, middle-class Asian family, with an arranged marriage at its core. “It was that play that made me feel, ‘maybe I should have a go, not at an adaptation, but an original piece’,” he says.

In the rehearsal period for his plays, Planer likes to combine being involved with keeping his distance. “In the past, I’ve gone in for the first two days, then I’d leave them for three weeks and go back in when there’s still time to have a look at what they’ve got. Once it’s the final few days, you’re best out of the way, when it’s all about getting it right and you mustn’t get in the way,” he says.

“But this time I’m going in a week before it opens, maybe to make a few cuts, or maybe to write a few things, though it would be wonderful if I could just say, ‘that’s wonderful, darling’!”

Planer’s participation “depends entirely on the director”. “For my first play, On The Ceiling, a historical comedy about two guys working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, who got fired by Michelangelo, I was there for half the rehearsals for the original production, putting my oar in,” he says.

“Then, another company said they wanted to do it in a Clapham fringe, but  I didn’t know anything about it until it was about to open, so I just watched it, rather than having any input.

“I was involved in the radio version, and then there was a Catalan version in Barcelona that I had nothing to do with as I don’t speak Catalan…and it was the best version yet! The Catalan cast were hitting each other on stage, whereas English casts couldn’t give it that oomph.” 

Planer has sought to maintain a balance between performing and writing. “I’ve been doing more of the writing in the past two years, partly because of Covid,” he says. “For ten years, I was doing shows in the West End, which was pretty time-consuming. The last one was Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and now released from that, I can concentrate on those things I couldn’t do, but I’m comfortable with still doing a few weeks’ TV acting work here and there, like doing Father Brown and Death In Paradise.

“It’s great fun to go on other people’s shows, like There She Goes, working with David Tennant and Jessica Hynes, where I play grumpy Gandalf Pat. It keeps you in touch, and that’s part of the joy of it, whereas writing is lonesome.”

The poster for Nigel Planer’s new farce, All Above Board

What’s coming next? Planer hopes to re-activate the play he co-wrote and performed in 2018 with The Young Ones cohort Adrian Edmondson, Vulcan 7, a Waiting For Godot-echoing comedy wherein two past-it actors are stuck in their trailer on the slopes of an Iceland volcano, unable to film their low-budget sci-fi adventure because of an avalanche.

“We’re hoping to remount it as It’s Heading Straight Towards Us,” he says. Not only the title is new, but the cast will be too. “We’re slightly too old to play these characters now, and besides, when you’re performing it, you have half your brain going, ‘Oh, that’s a line I could re-write’, or ‘Does that work?’, so there’s too much over-thinking going on.”

What does not change is Planer’s appreciation of comedy and farce. “If you look at farce, historically it’s about pompous people having their pomposity punctured. It’s fun seeing someone who thinks a lot of themselves with their trousers down,” he says.

“In this new play, it’s a cast of indefensible characters, where the Punjabi plasterer is pretty much the only nice person in it!

“Farce is a much-maligned artform and yet there is such delight in revisiting characters that we know really hit the spot, like Arthur Lowe’s Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army: the man who’s in charge is incompetent but determined to put everyone in their place. To go back to those kinds of characters, or to Brian Rix’s characters, there’s a recognised hilarity in them.”

How come farces are “out of fashion”, Nigel? “I can’t give a definitive answer, but I suspect there are a number of elements,” he says. “Firstly, they often need big casts, when theatres are now saying, ‘Can you write a two-hander for telly stars?”, which is a producer’s dream.

“Farces are difficult to stage, because of the design requirements, and they’re difficult to get right. It’s also probably my generation’s fault that there was a big shift to stand-up comedians, who just needed a microphone, when farces can need a cast of 12.”

British farce became associated with Brian Rix and then Ray Cooney, “a good friend of mine, who’s still at it, still directing his plays”, says Planer. “But these farces have elements that are now seen as antiquated in terms of their content, gender politics and the concerns of people today, so farce is no longer fashionable, but what I’m hoping is to be able to take the form and make it more acceptable to modern audiences, more groovy, more cool.

“In fact, I’ve been working with Ray Cooney on another farce, giving Run For Your Wife an update, making it Asian as Rani For Your Wife (Rani being an Asian name). It works, and we’re just waiting for a theatre to have the courage to take it on.”

How do characters in All Above Board differ from farces of the past? “Now they have to behave in the right ‘woke’ way, which is part of their pomposity, and hopefully it will be a relief for the audience to be able to laugh at that.  If the comedy manages to tickle the funny bone, it will take off.”

Asked to reflect on Planer’s five-decade impact on British comedy, he says: “At the beginning, it was all a mad rush because it was brilliant to find the opportunities at the Comedy Store and with the Comic Strip, with my comedy partner, Peter Richardson.

“We had compatriots who wanted to do stuff like us, forming a company with Ade Edmondson, Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle, later joined by [Dawn] French and [Jennifer] Saunders, but it was a stroke of luck that it gave us the chance to be able to do so many things.”

Planer had been working as a “straight actor” too, starring in Shine On Harvey Moon, for example, “but after The Young Ones, we were very well known, which was wonderful but also limiting, as I’d always played ‘weird’ characters,” he says.

“Through all that exposure, the character of Neil took over and I exploited that: I did the record and the book.  But Neill wasn’t a part that I played that was scripted for The Young Ones. He was a character that I’d created four or five years before we ever got on television. He was already my Dame Edna Everage for years before the TV series. He was my alter-ego.”

Neil the hippy lives on, still Planer’s best-known and best-loved character, one who could only be British. “It’s the individual sense of humour we have,” Nigel reasons. “There are different types of comedy in different countries. In America, they may speak the same language as us but they don’t like losers, whereas we love the losers in our comedy, with all the cruelty that goes with that.”

Northern Comedy Theatre in Nigel Planer’s All Above Board, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, August 26 and 27, 7.30pm. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Nigel Planer on his past appearances in York

“I’VE never worked as an actor at a York theatre, but I may well have done a gig there as we did various tours with the Comic Strip and The Young Ones. I bet I have, but sometimes when you play all these one-night gigs, you can’t remember, though the chances are that I must have.

“I seem to remember hanging around York on a poetry tour, when I was hanging around as a performance poet in 1995-1996, touring with Henry Normal.

“I do have a memory of coming to the Theatre Royal in the Seventies, either for an audition or because I was working at the Leeds Playhouse.

“Hang on…I have a memory of being in York for a book launch at the Barbican with Joan Le Mesurier, John Le Mesurier’s wife, who was there to promote her book Lady Don’t Fall Backwards.  I must have been promoting one of my books and had to make a speech.

“So, you could say All Above Board is officially my York debut but I have a long association with the city.”

Copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in and around York as Shakespeare with afternoon tea awaits. List No.44, courtesy of The Press, York

The Magpies – in suitably black and white attire – host their music and arts festival at Sutton Park this weekend

MAGPIES and mermaids, Shakespeare’s wife and Scarborough romances, Boy George and a Bon Jovi tribute, Aretha & Patti and singer-songwriters at the quadruple are Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what to see.

Festival of the weekend: The Magpies Festival of Music & Arts, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, Saturday, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm

SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park, hosted by The Magpies’ trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon in support of Women’s Aid.

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys can be found headlining The Magpies Festival on Saturday

Confirmed for this weekend’s folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies themselves; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus.

Day tickets and camping tickets are available at themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.

Bon Jovi tribute act New Jovi, who play the Joseph Rowntree Theatre this weekend

Tribute gig of the weekend: New Jovi: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

LIVIN’ off Livin’ On A Prayer, tribute act New Jovi seek to “bring back the on-stage chemistry and formidable stage presence of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in what was arguably the New Jersey band’s greatest era”. Arguably? Definitely.

Presented by Pit Bull Productions, Saturday night’s “completely live” set accommodates Always, You Give Love A Bad Name, Runaway, Bad Medicine and many more besides. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Mad about the Boy? If so, join Culture Club on the coast at Scarborough on Saturday

Gig of the week outside York: Boy George & Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, doors open at 6pm

EIGHTIES’ icon/iconoclast Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside this weekend.

Bexleyheath-born frontman, fashion innovator and DJ George O’Dowd, who turned 60 on June 14, will be performing alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”.

Expect to hear such New Romantic favourites as Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, fellow chart topper Karma Chameleon, Time (Clock Of The Heart) and Church Of The Poison Mind. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Josie Campbell in rehearsal for playing Anne Hathaway in Little Britches Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Will. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Where there’s a Will: Little Britches Theatre Company in Shakespeare’s Will, outside at Hearts of Ampleforth, Ampleforth, near Helmsley, Sunday, 2.30pm

NORTH Yorkshire duo Josie Campbell and Imogen Hope perform Vern Thiessen’s two-hander Shakespeare’s Will on Sunday, with afternoon tea thrown into the £15 ticket price for good measure.

In this one-hour, pop-up outdoor show about Anne Hathaway’s imagined life with, but mostly without, playwright William Shakespeare, teacher, theatre-maker, performer and erstwhile voiceover artist Josie plays Anne.

Theatre-maker, actor, musician and performing arts teacher Imogen takes the role of Actor-Musician. Tickets: from the café or on 01439 788166; cash only.

The Northern Edge Theatre Company cast and crew for Sam Milnes’s comedy drama Scarbados

Holiday romance of the weekend: Scarbados, Northern Edge Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 3pm and 8pm

WELCOME to writer-director Sam Milnes’s new one-act comedy drama about love, life, grief, hope and fish & chips.

Tragic and comic in equal measure, Scarbados tracks six locals and holidaymakers who all go to the same seaside bar, where their lives intertwine in ways no-one expects.

Will Sharon have the chance of motherhood she so desperately craves? Will Jen and Alex have their romantic weekend? Can Ian overcome his long-time challenges? Will Vicky find her man? Who is the sixth character? Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Gemma Sharp: Sea Storm In A Teacup’s writer, producer and performer

Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 3pm

A MERMAID is an amazing gift for a young adventurer, but what do you do when it just will not stop growing? So asks York company Hoglets Theatre in Sea Storm In A Teacup, a new one-hour play written, produced and performed by Gemma Sharp for ages three to seven.

Joining Sharp’s Merry on stage will be Gemma’s husband, Andy Curry, the show’s composer, lyricist and musician in the role of the Sea King, and Thalassa, a puppet made by Sharp.

Sharp’s story of a chance meeting, an act of kindness and an unusual present, leading a lonely young girl on the most unexpected journey to find friendship, promises an epic adventure of mystery, magic, and mermaids. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.

Patti Boulaye: Heading to Helmsley with her Aretha Franklin show

Two into one will go: Patti Boulaye, Aretha & Me, Helmsley Arts Centre, September 18, 8pm

SINGER, musical theatre star, New Faces winner and teacher Dr Patti Boualye OBE is resuming her Aretha & Me tour travels, as well as her visiting teaching fellow role at Middlesex University.

In her one-woman but two-women show, British-Nigerian Patti, 67, compares and contrasts her life with that of the late American queen of soul.

Patti, whose updated autobiography The Faith Of A Child is published by Kaleidoscope Publishing this week, will combine Aretha’s Respect, I Say A Little Prayer, Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools and Think with her favourite songs. Box office: helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Dan Webster, left, Joshua Burnell and Edwina Hayes: Taking part in Pocklington Arts Centre’s singer-songwriter showcase next month

Four play: Dan Webster, Edwina Hayes, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham: Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Pocklington Arts Centre, September 23, 8pm

DAN Webster, Joshua Burnell and Jess Gardham, from York, are joined by Edwina Hayes, from the East Riding, for this all-Yorkshire bill.

Webster plays folk/Americana peppered with more than a dash of country, bluegrass and rock’n’roll; Burnell’s gigs take in stomping, acoustic singalongs, Bowie-style music-hall epics, alt.pop singles and traditional folk themes.

Gardham fuses pop, soul, blues and acoustic in her song-writing and has a belter of a voice equally at home in musical theatre; Irish-born Hayes crafts gentle folk-Americana songs. Box office: pocklingtonarts.co.uk or on 01759 301547.

All roads lead to Pocklington Arts Centre for York singer-songwriter Jess Gardham on September 23

More Things To Do in and around York as corny summer panto ride arrives at a maze. List No. 42, courtesy of The Press, York

Detective at work: Sir David Suchet will dig up his past at York Theatre Royal in October

SUMMER panto in a maze, David Suchet on Poirot, Yorkshire Day celebrations, a SeedBed of new ideas, riverside art, a cancer charity fundraiser and comedy at the double catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye.

New signing of the week: David Suchet, Poirot And More – A Retrospective, York Theatre Royal, October 13, 3pm and 8pm

SIR David Suchet retraces his steps as a young actor in his 20-theatre tour of Poirot And More, A Retrospective, where he looks back fondly at his five-decade career, shedding a new, intimate light on his most beloved performances.

Geoffrey Wansell, journalist, broadcaster, biographer and co-author of Poirot And Me, interviews the actor behind the detective and the many characters Suchet has portrayed on stage and screen. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Joshing around: After York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime last Christmas, now Josh Benson s magic beans have created the new Crowmania Ride summer panto at York Maze

Summer pantomime on wheels? Yes, on York Maze’s Crowmania Ride until September 6. Maze opening hours: 10am to 6.30pm; last admission, 3.30pm

CORNTROLLER of Entertainment Josh Benson is the creative mind behind the new Crowmania Ride at York Maze, Elvington Lane, York.

York Maze reopened for the first time since 2019 on July 17, with York actor, magician, comedy turn and pantomime star Benson and his team of actors taking the redeveloped Crowmania attraction “to a new level” on a trailer towed by a tractor every 20 to 30 minutes from 11am to 5pm. “The scariest thing is the bad puns!” promises director of operations David Leon.

In a 20-minute pantomime on wheels, Crowmania’s loose plot involves The Greatest Crowman encouraging the crows to eat farmer Tom’s corn, while his villainy stretches to creating genetically modified corn-based creatures too. Expect theatrical set-pieces, multitudinous curious animatronics and special effects. 

Erika Noda: Reflecting on her dual heritage on tonight’s SeedBed bill at At The Mill, Stillington

“Fantastic nights of artistic creation”: SeedBed at At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight until Saturday, 7pm to 10pm nightly

BILLED as “New Work. Good Food. Big Conversations”, the first ever SeedBed promises three nights, three different line-ups, three opportunities to see new ideas on their first outings, each hosted by Polly from Jolly Allotment, who will cook a nutritious supper each evening and discuss nourishment.

Tonight features At The Mill’s resident artists, plus Paula Clark’s class-and-disadvantage monologue Girl, Jack Fielding’s stilt act in Deus and Erika Noda’s Ai, examining growing up dual heritage in predominantly white York.

Tomorrow combines Robert Douglas Finch’s Songs Of Sea And Sky; Jessa Liversidge’s Looping Around set of folk tunes, original songs and layered looping and Henry Bird’s combo of classical poetry extracts and his own words.

Saturday offers The Blow-Ins’ A Gentle Breeze, an acoustic Celtic harp and guitar set, to be experienced in silence; Gong Bath, a session of bathing in the sound of gongs, and Jessa Liversidge’s second Looping Around (Your Chance To Sing) session.

Papillon, by Adele Karmazyn, who is taking part in Saturday’s York River Art Market

York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, York, Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am to 5.30pm

MORE than 30 artists and makers will take part in days five and six of this summer’s riverside weekend art markets, organised by York abstract painter and jewellery designer Charlotte Dawson.

Given the busy traffic across both days last weekend, Charlotte is considering doing more full weekends next year rather than the present emphasis on Saturdays.

Among Saturday’s artists will be York digital photomontage artist and 2021 YRAM poster designer Adele Karmazyn and Kwatz, the small indie fashion label directed by Amanda Roseveare. 

On Sunday, look out for York College graphics tutor Monica Gabb’s Twenty Birds range of screen prints, tea towels, mugs, cards, bags and hanging decorations; York artist Linda Combi’s illustrations and Louise Taylor Designs, travelling over from Lancashire with her floral-patterned textile designs for cushions, tea towels, oven gloves and more besides.

Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie: Headlining Meadowfest

Festival of the week: Meadowfest, Malton, Saturday, 10am to 10pm

MALTON, alias “Yorkshire’s food capital”, plays host to the Meadowfest boutique summer music and street fodder festival this weekend in the riverside meadows and gardens of the Talbot Hotel.

On the bill, spread over two stages, will be headliners Lightning Seeds, Arthur “The God of Hellfire” Brown, York party band Huge, Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band, Flatcap Carnival, Hyde Family Jam, Gary Stewart, Penny Whispers, The Tengu Taiku Drummers and more besides.

“Expect a relaxed festival of uplifting sunshine bands, all-day feasting and dancing like no-one’s watching,” says the organisers. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/visitmalton/

Forge Zine and Hallmark Theatre present Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts! at The Crescent community venue in York on Sunday

Marking God’s Own Country’s wonderfulness: Yorkshire Day: Night Of Arts!, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm

FORGE Zine and Hallmark Theatre band together for a Yorkshire Day night of creativity, fun and varied entertainment, replete with actors, musicians, writers and artists.

Expect spoken word, visual art, live music, scene extracts and comedy on a pleasant, relaxed, wholly Yorkshire evening, bolstered by the chance to buy artworks and books. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Steve Cassidy: Joining up with friends for the Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer fundraiser

Fundraiser of the week: Songs And Stories For York Against Cancer, with Steve Cassidy Band and friends, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

A NIGHT of songs and stories by some of York’s best-known performers, who “celebrate a return to normality” by supporting a charity that helps others still on the road to recovery.

Taking part will be Steve Cassidy, Mick Hull, John Lewis, Billy Leonard, Graham Hodge, Graham Metcalf, Geoff Earp and Ken Sanderson. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Sara Barron: Playing York, Leeds and Selby on her debut British tour of Enemies Closer

Barron nights: Sara Barron on autumn tour in Yorkshire in Enemies Closer

AMERICAN comedian Sara Barron examines kindness, meanness, ex-boyfriends, current husbands, all four remaining friends and two of her 12 enemies in Enemies Closer at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on October 9.

Further Yorkshire gigs on Barron’s debut British tour will be at Sheaf St, Leeds, on October 20 and Selby Town Hall on September 29.

“Touring this show is truly the fulfilment of a dream,” says Barron. “Come if you dig an artful rant. Stay at home if think you’re ‘a positive person’.” Box office: York, at tickets.41monkgate.co.uk; Leeds and Selby, via berksnest.com/sara.

In need of a reviving cuppa: Omid Djalili has just had to change his Pocklington plans for a second time

Third time lucky: Omid Djalili moves Pocklington gigs again, this time to 2022

OMID Djalili’s brace of shows on July 22 at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) have been moved to May 18 and 19 next spring.

British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for this month’s cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

He subsequently agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for his festival gig would not miss out. The uncertainty brought on by the Government’s delay to Step 4 scuppered those plans. Tickets remain valid for the new dates.

More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York as 145 artists and makers open studio doors. List No. 40, courtesy Of The Press, York

Minster, by textile artist Carol Coleman, who is taking part in York Open Studios at 1 Carlton Cottages, Wigginton

AHEAD of Monday’s already trailered Step 4 pronouncement, Charles Hutchinson unmasks events aplenty, from Open Studios to heavy metal heaven, theatre comedy to theatre tragi-comedy, musical celebrations to  a triple exhibition.

Big art event of the next two weekends: York Open Studios 2021, preview night tomorrow, 6pm to 9pm; July 10/11 and 17/18, 10am to 5pm

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns this weekend for its 20th parade of the city’s creative talent.

The event sees 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces, and among them will be 43 debutants, with full details at yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

York’s biggest annual art showcase spans ceramics, collages, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, printmaking, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles.

Still feeling their Old Selves after lockdown easement: Yorkshire four-piece look overjoyed at the prospect of headlining tomorrow’s very heavy metal bill at The Fulford Arms

Hardcore gig of the week: Old Selves, Blight Town, Cast Out and Realms at The Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm.

“WHAT at an absolute heavy metal treat,” enthuses Fulford Arms supremo Chris Sherrington, ahead of tomorrow’s headbanger fiesta, headlined by fiery Yorkshire four-piece Old Selves.

Playing loud too will be Nottingham progressive post-hardcore/math rock quintet Blight Town, York punk’n’roll/metalcore crossover band Cast Out and Yorkshire post-hardcore act Realms, who “make music for people who never grew out of their emo phase”. Tickets: thefulfordarms.bigcartel.com/ or on the door.

Lead actors Sandy Foster and Tom Kanji in rehearsal for Laura Wade’s comedy of domestic bliss turned to blister, Home, I’m Darling. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

Make a trip to Scarborough for: Home, I’m Darling, Stephen Joseph Theatre, July 9 to August 14

SWEET peas in the garden; homemade lemon curd in the kitchen; marital bliss in the bedroom, Judy and Johnny seem to be the perfect couple. Sickeningly happy, in fact, in Laura Wade’s domestic comedy-drama. 

Is their marriage everything it seems, however? Are there cracks in their happiness? What happens when the 1950s’ family values they love so much stop working in the 21st century as the couple discovers that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. 

Liz Stevenson directs this co-production between Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre and the SJT. Box office: thesjt.uk.com.

Back together in Beulah: Actor-musicians Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren reunite next week, having first performed the show for The Flanagan Collective in 2012

Theatre resurrection of the week ahead: The Flanagan Collective in Beulah, Summer At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 14 to 16, 8pm to 10pm

AN island sets sail into the sunset; a boy watches a lion running out of the sky, and an old man is sleeping as Alexander Wright’s Beulah reawakens in Stillington.

Inspired by William Blake’s world of a “mild and pleasant rest”, Wright plays with  notions of reality, of the permeable times of day and liminal states of being, in a show woven with storytelling, puppetry and soaring live music, first staged at York Theatre Royal in the bygone summer of 2012.

Directed by Tom Bellerby, Beulah is performed by actor-musicians and composers Jim Harbourne and Ed Wren. Box office: atthemill.org.

Father Of The Flowers, by York artist Linda Combi, from her exhibition The Last Gardener Of Aleppo at Pyramid Gallery, York

Exhibition launch of the week times three: Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, Friday to September 5

ERUM Aamir, Debbie Loane and Linda Combi form the suitably triangular structure of Pyramid Gallery’s summer show. Not one, but three exhibitions will run in two upstairs rooms.

For Celestial Garden, Manchester ceramic artist Erum Aamir has made intricate porcelain sculptures that fuse her scientific research and artistic imaginations, complemented in the front room by seascape and landscape paintings by Easingwold artist Debbie Loane under the title of The Peace Of Wild Places.

York artist Linda Combi presents The Last Gardener Of Aleppo, a series of original collages and mixed-media artworks and giclee prints that form a moving tribute to Abu Waad in aid of The Lemon Tree Trust and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency.

Not having a ball: Luke Dickson as doomed Leeds United manager Brian Clough in The Damned United at York Theatre Royal

Second time lucky: The Damned United, Red Ladder Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, July 15, kick-off 7.30pm

THE Damned Pandemic curse struck again when June 16’s performance of The Damned United was postponed after one of the actors had an inconclusive lateral flow test. Tickets remain valid for the post-Euro 2020 new date.

Anders Lustgarten’s darkly humorous adaptation of David Peace’s book about Brian Clough’s 44 days in purgatory as Leeds United’s manager is built around the double act of tortured genius Clough (Luke Dickson) and father figure/assistant Peter Taylor (David Chafer).

The beauty and brutality of football, the working man’s ballet, bursts out of a story of sweat and booze, fury and power battles. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

No, that’s not England manager Gareth Southgate, second from left, front row, in Black Sheep Theatre’s line-up

Raise the roof booster:  Black Sheep Theatre, For The Love Of Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 24, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MUSICAL director Matthew Clare and his merry band, plus a heap of York singers, present a concert programme packed with musical delights as they seek to prove that “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

The song list for this Black Sheep Theatre fundraiser for the Joseph Rowntree York, spans Annie Get Your Gun, the classics and more recent shows, such as Dear Evan Hansen. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Joshua Burnell: Live At Forty Five gig in August. Picture: Stewart Baxter

Intimate gig announcement of the week: Joshua Burnell, Live At Forty Five, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, August 14, 7.30pm

JOSHUA Burnell, progressive York purveyor of folk-fused baroque’n’roll for the modern world, performs in a three-piece line-up, including Frances Sladen, at Forty Five Vinyl Café next month.

Expect a showcase for latest album Flowers Where The Horses Sleep and his new EP, Storm Cogs, featuring songs about a folk singer who went missing for 30 years (Shelagh McDonald), a storm-chasing flying machine and a childhood memory, “written and recorded in lockdown and released as the world recovers”.

Elsie Franklin supports. Tickets are on sale at fortyfiveuk.com/events/joshua-burnell-live-at-fortyfive.

Badapple Theatre hare down to Joseph Rowntree Theatre with eco-conscious adventure Tales From The Great Wood

York actor Richard Kay with Hetty The Hare in Badapple Theatre Company’s Tales From The Great Wood

BADAPPLE Theatre Company return to live performances this evening with Tales From The Great Wood at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

“This is a new short play for children and grandparents – and everyone else – to enjoy together that can be performed indoor or outdoor,” says writer-director Kate Bramley, founder of the Green Hammerton theatre-on-your-doorstep proponents, as she introduces her interactive storytelling eco-adventure.

“Listen! Can you hear the whispering in the trees? The Great Wood is full of stories. It’s a hot summer’s day, perfect for basking in the sun, but instead of resting, Hetty the hare is investigating because someone is missing.

“As she unravels a tall tale that stretches from end to end of The Great Wood, Hetty realises that every creature – no matter how small – can have a huge part to play in the world of the forest.”

One of those “creatures” is the exotic Hoopoe bird from Africa that is blown off course en route to Spain and ends up in Bramley’s British woodland story.

“Although I write daft stuff, the facts behind it are always real,” says Kate. “So this bird with a long beak and a liking for ants really does occasionally turn up in Britain, sometimes Scotland, or the south west of England…and now in The Great Wood!”

Starring York actor Richard Kay, Danny Mellor and a host of puppets made by designer Catherine Dawn, this show for ages five to 95 will be performed at the Covid-secure JoRo tonight at 7.30pm and tomorrow at 11am, 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

“We’ll also be playing Skipsea Village Hall on Sunday afternoon, and we’re looking to do some outdoor performances too, such as at stately homes, with Annabelle Polito working on that for us at the moment,” says Kate.

“I’m trying to create a show that is ‘omni-everything’: suitable for outdoor spaces and for indoors, so it’s not only a play for all seasons, but a play for all eventualities.”

“We want to carry on telling stories; to carry on spreading joy and to make sure we are always eco-conscious,” says Badapple artistic director Kate Bramley

In the spirit of an eco-adventure, Badapple Theatre’s have recycled the set and puppets for use in Tales From The Great Wood. “At a time when all businesses great and small are recognising the need to look at how live events come about, what we want to do is threefold: to carry on telling stories; to carry on spreading joy and to make sure we are always eco-conscious,” says Kate.

“I’ve had 22 years with Badapple since founding the company to bring theatre to your doorstep, and I’ve been thinking, ‘what would I like to do for the next 22 years’?

“I’d now be happy to split my time between telling stories and digging and growing things in the garden.”

In addition to rehearsing Tales From The Great Wood at Hunsingore Village Hall, Badapple have held a puppet day with Haxby primary schoolchildren, combining puppets and poems. “They were just such a beautiful set of children, who were so excited to get involved, making puppets and then working with all the puppets we’d made,” says Kate.

“It was interesting to see just how instinctive it was for them to adopt puppet characters. Right now, they should just be having fun, playing with theatre skills and enjoying storytelling.”

Badapple Theatre Company in Tales From The Great Wood, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 2, 7.30pm, and July 3, 11am, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 501935. Also: Skipsea Village Hall, July 4, 2pm; tickets, 01262 469714 or 01262 468640.