More Things To Do in and around York, from B-movie art attacks to silent Indian cinema. List No. 81, courtesy of The Press, York

Swapping New York for York: King Kong clambers onto York Minster in Lincoln Lightfoot’s exhibition, Revelation, at Fossgate Social and Micklegate Social

AS not only tourists and stag and hen parties invade York, but so do UFOs, dinosaurs, even King Kong, Charles Hutchinson plots an escape route to other delights.

Exhibition launch of the week: Lincoln Lightfoot’s Revelation, Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, today until July 7

SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on unsuspecting York at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social cafe bars from this weekend.

For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future both in retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations.

On show in Micklegate Social from this evening’s 6pm to 10pm launch will be the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social. All works are for sale.

Spiffing chaps Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science at York Theatre Royal

Here comes the science bit: Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science, York Theatre Royal, today, 2pm

GREAT Yorkshire Fringe festival favourites Morgan & West return to York to present their new show Unbelievable Science, full of captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics and bonkers biology.

Spiffing chaps Rhys Morgan and Robert West combine their trademark showmanship and silliness from their decade of magic shows with genuine scientific knowledge and a lifelong love of learning to create a fun science extravaganza for all ages.

Fires, explosions, lightning on stage, optical illusions, mass audience experiments and 3D shadow puppets await all those “wily enough to come along to be intrigued by science”. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Howzat for cricket stories: Test Match Special chat with Tuffers & Agnew at York Barbican

Not just cricket: Test Match Special Live with Agnew & Tuffers, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

PHIL Tufnell and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew take you inside the Beeb’s famous TMS commentary box to share memories from their playing careers and beyond the boundary.

What was it like facing Shane Warne in his prime? Which member of the TMS team never buys dinner? What really happened the night after the 2005 Ashes triumph? Enjoy never-before-seen footage of iconic commentary moments and discover what life is really like watching England from the finest seat in the house. Special guest will be TMS statistics guru and BBC Radio 4 comedy presenter Andy Zaltzman. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Badapple Theatre’s Jess Woodward, Robert Wade and Stephanie Hutchinson in Elephant Rock, part of the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal

Festival of the week: TakeOver, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday

THIS week-long arts festival is organised and run entirely by final-year York St John University students. Unveiling hidden worlds of the unspoken to curious minds of any age, the event combines local and personal stories with an exploration of the wider world through a combination of theatre, memory and art.

Among those taking part will be Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre performing artistic director Kate Bramley’s Elephant Rock on Tuesday at 7.30pm in their first Theatre Royal visit in a decade. For the full programme, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Seeta Devi, one of the early stars of Indian silent cinema, in the role of Sunita in A Throw Dice

Film event of the week: Yorkshire Silent Film Festival presents A Throw Of Dice (PG), National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

A THROW Of Dice, an Indian box-office hit from 1929, rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle in its lavishly romantic story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman.

Based on an episode from The Mahabarata and filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-Indian cast, this silent classic will be accompanied by a live score, improvised by Indian pianist Utsav Lal. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Karen Ilsley, as Dorothy Nettle, and Stuart Leeming, as Jefferson Steel, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ production of A Bunch Of Amateurs

Play of the week: The Stockton Foresters in A Bunch Of Amateurs, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, May 12 to 14, 7.30pm

THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown is Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs, the story of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.

Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, on this occasion by Louisa Littler’s cast of Stuart Leeming, Karen Ilsley, Holly Smith, Russell Dowson, Jane Palmer, Peter Keen and Lynne Edwards. Box office: 01904 400583.

Shed Seven: Chasing winners and Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse

Outdoor gig of the week: Shed Seven, Doncaster Racecourse Live After Racing, May 14

SHED Seven’s live-after-racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders for a third time next Saturday after two false starts.

The York band’s outdoor Donny debut had to be scrapped twice, first booked for August 15 2020, then May 15 last spring, but each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

To book, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Sara Pascoe: Success Story tour will visit York and Harrogate

Tour announcement of the week: Sara Pascoe, Success Story, York Barbican, November 24; Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21 2023

AFTER contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds comedian Sara Pascoe, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Mezzo soprano Helen Charlston appointed artistic adviser to York Early Music Festival

Helen Charlston: New artistic adviser to the York early Music Festival. Picture: Benjamin Ealovega

MEZZO soprano Helen Charlston is to become an artistic adviser to the York Early Music Festival from this month.

Helen’s appointment covers the 2022-2024 festivals, joining fellow advisers John Bryan, Lindsay Kemp and Peter Seymour.

She is taking over from harpsichordist Steven Devine, who will stand down after this summer’s festival.

Since York Early Music Festival began in 1977, guest advisers have included Robert Hollingworth, Catherine Bott, Elizabeth Kenny and Thomas Guthrie.

The cover artwork for Helen Charlston’s lockdown album, Isolation Songbook

Helen is establishing herself as a key performer in the next generation on British singers. Winner of the London Handel Competition in 2018, she was a founder participant in the Rising Star of the Enlightenment’s programme, working frequently as a soloist alongside the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

She is a member of the Jardin des Voix academy’s Young Artist Programme with Les Arts Florissants, a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and a 2018 City Music Foundation Artist.

This year, Helen makes her debut in San Francisco with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, singing Irene in Handel’s Theodora. She also will perform with the Dunedin Consort, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and La Nuova Musica, as well as making her debut at the Cheltenham and Norfolk & Norwich Festivals.

Helen won the Ferrier Loveday Song Prize in the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and is heard regularly on the concert platform with prominent British collaborative pianists. She has performed at Oxford Lieder Festival, Leeds Lieder, the Ryedale Festival, the Wigmore Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Helen Charlston: BBC New Generation artist

Her debut album, Isolation Songbook, was commissioned in response to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown for release on Delphian Records in March 2021, after she premiered 15 songs and duets with Michael Craddock and Alexander Soares, written during lockdown in 2020  as a musical response to the changing world in which we found ourselves.

Her second solo album, Battle Cry She Speaks, will arrive on May 27, again on Delphian Records. Inspired by the music of Strozzi, Purcell and Monteverdi, the recording is centred on a new song cycle for Helen and lutenist Toby Carr.

She began singing as chorister and head chorister of the St Albans Abbey Girls Choir. She studied music at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she held a choral scholarship from 2011 to 2015, and was a scholar on the Pembroke College Lieder Scheme, led by pianist Joseph Middleton.

The artwork for Helen Charlston’s May 27 album, Battle Cry She Speaks

Helen has a long-standing association with the National Centre for Early Music, in Walmgate, where she has appeared in many concerts in both the York Early Music Christmas Festival and York Early Music Festival, larger performances with the Yorkshire Bach Choir and at the University Song Days held there.

She was a member of Fieri Consort when they won the Cambridge prize in the 2017 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition.

Delma Tomlin, York Early Music Festival administrative director and NCEM director, says: “We are delighted to welcome Helen as a new artistic adviser, joining our already established team of experts.

“Artistic advisers play an important part in the development of our work, and we are sure Helen’s expertise and experience will be huge assets to the festival.  Helen has a long association with York and we are looking forward to working with her.

“Helen’s expertise and experience will be huge assets to the festival,” says York Early Music Festival administrative director Delma Tomlin

“We are sure she will bring some brilliant and fresh ideas as we move towards York Early Music Festival 2023.”

Helen says: “I’m very excited to be joining the York Early Music team as artistic adviser. It’s such an honour to be working with one of Europe’s most important and progressive Early Music festivals, with a reputation for promoting and championing the work of young emerging artists.

“I always love performing in York and now I can look forward to spending more time working in this beautiful city and soaking up the atmosphere of the fabulous medieval splendour of the festival’s hub in St Margaret’s Church.”

York Early Music Festival 2022 will run from July 8 to 16. Find the full programme at: ncem.co.uk/whats-on/yemf/

“It’s such an honour to be working with one of Europe’s most important and progressive Early Music festivals,” says Helen Charlston

More Things To Do in and around York as The Divine Comedy offer something for the weekend. List No. 80, courtesy of The Press

The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon: Leading a Charmed Life at York Barbican tonight. Picture: Kevin Westerberg

SEEKING Divine inspiration? Here comes Charles Hutchinson with his guide to what’s hot, from topical comedy to charming songwriters, a steamy thriller to intense jazz.

Charmer of the week: The Divine Comedy, York Barbican, tonight, 7.45pm

THE Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon plays York this weekend for the first time since the Irish chamber-pop leprechaun’s Minster concert in May 2011.

Hannon will be showcasing his 2022 compilation, Charmed Life – The Best Of The Divine Comedy, marking the completion of the 51-year-old songwriter, musical score composer and cricket enthusiast’s third decade as a recording artist

“I’ve been luckier than most,” Hannon says. “I get to sing songs to people for a living and they almost always applaud.” Hence that Charmed Life title. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Alexander Flanagan Wright feels the Stillington dance vibes

Outdoor dance vibes of the long weekend: Dance Dance Dance, A Damn Big Dance Party, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 6pm to 11pm

HEADPHONES on as At The Mill plays host to a three-channel Silent Disco with a bunch of very cool guest DJs, a live set from Flatcap Carnival and the pizza oven fired up for orders.

Organiser Alexander Flanagan Wright says: “We got Joshua Pulleyn coming. We got Bolshee taking over a channel. We got Sarah Rorke blasting out some Northern Soul vibes. Tom Figgins is metaphorically spinning a track or two.

“Paul Smith has some new punk and old-school hip hop heading your way. Abbi Ollive has a solid hour of girl power. And I’m lining up a lot of Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and Beyoncé as I can. Come dance. It’s gotta be mega. There’s a handful of tickets left at atthemill.org.”

Beth McCarthy: Heading back home to play The Crescent

Homecoming of the week: Beth McCarthy, The Crescent, York, Monday, doors 7.30pm

BETH McCarthy, now living in London, heads home to play her first York gig since March 2019.

Singer-songwriter Beth has been buoyed by the online response to her singles and videos, drawing 4.8 million likes and 300,000 followers on TikTok and attracting 465,000 monthly listeners and nine million plays of her She Gets The Flowers on Spotify. Box office: myticket.co.uk/artists/beth-mccarthy.

Double at the treble: Stewart Lee serves up his Snowflake and Tornado double bill on three nights at York Theatre Royal from May 3 to 5

Comedy gigs of the week: Stewart Lee, Snowflake/Tornado, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Thursday, 7.30pm

DELAYED by lockdowns, Stewart Lee finally brings Snowflake/Tornado – a double bill of two 60-minute sets, back-to-back nightly – to York with new material for 2022.

Heavily rewritten in the light of two pandemic-enforced dormant years, Snowflake looks at how the Covid/Brexit era has influenced the culture war between lovely snowflakes and horrible people.

Tornado questions Lee’s position in the comedy marketplace after Netflix mistakenly listed his show as “reports of sharks falling from the skies are on the rise again. Nobody on the Eastern Seaboard is safe.” Good luck trying to acquire a ticket on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Trouble brewing: Lift-off for Susie Amy’s Alex Forrest and Oliver Farnworth in Fatal Attraction. Picture: Tristram Kenton

Psychological thriller of the week: Fatal Attraction, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm matinees, Wednesday and Saturday

JAMES Dearden, screenwriter for Adrian Lyne’s 1987 “bunny boiler” American psycho thriller, has written a new stage version of Fatal Attraction for 21st century audiences, mobile phones et al.

The plot remains the same: happily married New York attorney Dan Gallagher (Oliver Farnworth) has a night on the town with editor Alex Forrest (Susie Amy) that boils up into passion.

Dan returns home to wife Beth (Louise Redknapp), trying to forget what happened, but Alex has only one rule: you play fair with her and she’ll play fair with you. If not…! Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

All smiles: Marti Pellow on his Greatest Hits Tour at York Barbican

Smile of the week: Marti Pellow, Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7.30pm  

LET Marti Pellow introduce his Greatest Hits Tour show. “It’s about finally being able to come together to celebrate love, life, and remember those we may have lost along the way. Most of all, it’s about enjoyment and celebrating the here and now. Get your dancing shoes on: it’s time to party with Marti.”

Expect songs from his Wet Wet Wet and solo catalogues up to 2021’s Stargazer album, cover versions too, plus reflective chat as he sits on the edge of the stage. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The good sax guide: Saxophonist Trish Clowes with her My Iris bandmates, promising earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes at the NCEM

Jazz gig of the week: Trish Clowes: My Iris, National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

SAXOPHONIST Trish Clowes leads her jazz band My Iris in their York debut, providing pianist Ross Stanley, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer James Maddren with a high-intensity platform for individual expression and improvisation.

Driving grooves and lingering melodic lines combine as they “seamlessly morph between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes”. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Exploring motherhood: Ana Silverio in Me, Myself & Misha

Indoor dance show of the week: Terpsichoring Dance Company in Me, Myself And Misha, York Theatre Royal Studio, Friday, 7.45pm

TERPSICHORING Dance Company’s Me, Myself & Misha  is a heartfelt, autobiographical 40-minute show devised and performed by award-winning dance artist Ana Silverio, who explores the physical and emotional journey, full of challenges and joys, that one woman undertakes to become a mother.

Universal themes of pregnancy and labour are presented, using a mix of physical theatre and dance alongside an original and moving musical score. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

The poster for the Yorkraine benefit concert at the Grand Opera House, York

Fundraiser alert: Yorkraine, for DEC Ukraine Appeal, Grand Opera House, York, May 24, 7.30pm

YORKRAINE’s benefit concert combines four of York’s finest cover bands, The Supermodels, The Mothers, The Y Street Band and Sister Madly, plus acoustic slots from Alex Victoria and Mal Fry and guest speakers.

The evening of pop and rock classics from the past six decades will raise funds for the British Red Cross DEC appeal to aid Ukrainian refugees who find themselves in dire circumstances. All artists, hosts, sound tech and crew have donated their time free of charge. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.

Balancing act: Gary Barlow talks the talk as he walks the walk on his musical journey through A Different Stage

Gig announcement of the week: Gary Barlow, A Different Stage, Grand Opera House, York, June 10 and 11

TAKE That legend, singer, songwriter, composer, producer, talent show judge and author Gary Barlow is adding a theatrical one-man show to his repertoire.

“I’ve done shows where it has just been me and a keyboard,” says Barlow. “I’ve done shows where I sit and talk to people. I’ve done shows where I’ve performed as part of a group.

“But this one, well, it’s like all of those, but none of them. When I walk out this time, well, it’s going to be a very different stage altogether.” Now the bad news: tickets went on sale at 9.30am yesterday and sold out by 10am, but Pray there could yet be a silver lining…

Sax ace Snake Davis and Olympics musical director Robin A Smith team up at NCEM

Snake Davis: Return to York

SAXOPHONIST extraordinaire Snake Davis returns to the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, on Thursday with a new venture.

Once part of the York band Zoot & The Roots, this time Snake will be teaming up with award-winning arranger, composer and pianist Robin A Smith.

“Snake and Robin have been sparring partners for decades,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin. “Together their recorded work helped spearhead the Classic Chillout movement 20 years ago, but the duo live in concert are something else.”

Snake’s return to York fills him with enthusiasm. “I’m really excited to have a trio of shows booked with Robin,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to our concert at the NCEM. It’s one of our favourite venues as the acoustics and ambience of St Margaret’s Church are so perfect for us. We can’t wait to come back with our new show.”

Snake Davis and Robin A Smith: Sax and piano partnership in concert at NCEM

Saxophonist-to the-stars Snake has contributed soulful solos to Lisa Stansfield’s Change, M People’s hits, Take That’s A Million Love Songs and plenty more besides.

Robin A Smith was musical director for the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and his versatility has seen him work with Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Kanye West, The 2 Cellos, Rod Stewart and Mike Oldfield.

“Thursday’s unmissable, enthralling and highly accessible show will celebrate the joy and power of music across multiple styles and genres, from classical to folk, pop to jazz,” says Delma.

Tickets for the 7.30pm concert are on sale at ncem.co.uk, on 01904 658338 and on the door.

Velma Celli turns drag outlaw for alternative Guy Fawkes night at NCEM. Just add gin

Raising a glass to outlaws: Velma Celli evokes the spirit of Guy Fawkes at the National Centre for Early Music tonight

YORK drag diva deluxe Velma Celli invites you to “release your inner outlaw” at his outre Outlaw Live cabaret soiree tonight.

Hosted by York Gin at the National Centre for Early Music, in Walmgate, York, the night promises song, laughter and gin as Velma and friends “unleash a riot of glamorous outrage”.

“York is a city of outlaws: Guy Fawkes was born here. Dick Turpin was hanged here,” says York Gin Company events coordinator Harri Marshall. “It’s even home to the super-strength York Gin Outlaw, which comes with a warning: ‘Drink, with ice, tonic … and care’.

“Now – for one night only – one of the UK’s ‘baddest’ drag queens will be celebrating all that’s naughty, villainous and defiantly outrageous about York and its outlaws.”

Since returning home from a month of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships shows, Velma Celli already has played a “banging show” at York Theatre Royal, presenting Me And My Divas, a celebration of “the songs and behaviour of all your favourite divas” with York singer Jess Steel and West End leading lady Gina Murray, at York Theatre Royal last Saturday.

Velma Celli in the WonderBar at Impossible York

That cabaret night of impressions and banter celebrated Whitney, Aretha, Bassey, Streisand, Garland, Cilla, Dolly, Madonna, Adele, Sia and latest addition Jessie J.

Tomorrow’s new show will raise a glass to the outlaw spirit of Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin and general naughtiness at large in York with a riot of rebellious songs and a gin cocktail on arrival.

“If you love drag, gin, and being just a little bit naughty, this one’s definitely for you,” says Velma, the vocal drag creation of West End musical actor Ian Stroughair, 39.

“It’ll be my first time at the NCEM., and the gig came about after I popped into York Gin in the week when I’d been doing Funny Girls in Blackpool, and it turned out the woman serving me had seen Funny Girls the night before,” says Ian.

“This led to the idea of doing this Outlaw Live show with me, a small band, Guy Fawkes-inspired songs; songs from Six, the musical about Henry VIII’s wives; songs related to baddies in history, and the opportunity for everyone to drink nice cocktails.

The poster for Velma Celli’s Outlaw Live concert with a dash of York Gin

“I’ll be in kind of Guy Fawkes mode, and the plan is that we’ll see how this one goes and then look at doing a night with a different York Gin theme.”

Meanwhile, Ian is spreading Velma’s wings at the drag diva’s regular haunt of Impossible York, in St Helen’s Square, adding to the repertoire of shows in the WonderBar.

He has resumed performing The Velma Celli Show at 8pm on the last Friday of each month (except this month, when the gig moved to last night (24/3/2022).

Two sittings of Velma’s Drag Brunch are held on the first Saturday of each month, to be joined on the second Saturday by the new Movie Musical Brunch from April 9, when Ian’s special guest will be West End musical star Zoe Curlett, who played Christine in The Phantom Of The Opera and Corsette in Les Miserables.

Velma also launched a new Back To The 80s night in the WonderBar on March 18, when the 8pm set gloried in the songs of David Bowie,  George, Michael, Wham! and more Eighties’ favourites besides.

Velma Celli in David Bowie mode for Irreplaceable

At the planning stage is a QNY (Queer Night York) regular night. “The idea behind it is that there isn’t an essentially gay venue in York that’s been successful, and what’s needed is a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people,” says Ian.

“QNY won’t be a Velma Celli night; there won’t be a performance; I’ll be hosting the night and DJing, and again it will be monthly in the WonderBar, with the starting date yet to be confirmed.”

One Velma Celli show fell by the wayside last month: the February 26 performance of Irreplaceable, a celebration of David Bowie, was cancelled at Theatre@41, Monkgate.

We must wait for that gift of sound and vision, but one day, hopefully, Irreplaceable will be added to Velma’s portfolio of York performances. “So far, I’ve done it in a week’s run of four shows in Southampton,” says Ian.

“It came about because my friend Sarah Walker is obsessed with Bowie, and I’ve created the show for her.”

Velma Celli’s A Brief History Of Drag: Playing Pocklington Arts Centre this summer

Ian shares that passion. “There are so many amazing David Bowie songs, and in my case it was the Labyrinth era that I first loved, and also how he’s been so influential. Look at Lady Gaga, for example,” he says.

“In the show, my make-up is inspired by Aladdin Sane and my look is kind of androgynous: I wear a black suit jacket and a long, hooped skirt.

“I do a section about how Bowie was gender-bending before anyone else came out doing that, skipping around Manhattan in a catsuit, and there’s also a bit about RuPaul in there, who was such a big, big fan.”

Irreplaceable is yet to replace its scrapped Theatre@41 show, but one further show in the diary is Velma Celli’s A Brief History Of Drag at Pocklington Arts Centre on June 30.

Velma Celli: Outlaw Live, presented by York Gin, at National Centre for Early Music, York, tonight (25/3/2022); doors, 7pm; show, 8pm to 10.30pm. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817/. For Pocklington, 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk. For Impossible York shows and brunches, visit impossibleyork.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, whether locating your ‘inner outlaw’ or just going out. List No. 74, courtesy of The Press

Charles Hutchinson unearths Indian jazz, jive, cabaret, ceramics , 70 years of hits and a candlelit concert for Ukrainian solidarity for your diary.

Re-entry, by Danny Barbour, on show at According To McGee from today

Exhibition launch of the week: Christine Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour, Unearthed, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, today until April 24.

CHRSTINE Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour will be at Terry Brett’s gallery today from 11.30am to 2pm to talk about their Unearthed exhibition.

Pyramid Gallery’s spring show combines Christines ceramics, derived from repeated visits to a Cumbrian sea-cliff; Geoff’s ceramic pots and sculpture, rooted in archaeology and long-lost civilisations, and Danny’s paintings and collages that draw on his fascination with what lies beneath the surface.

“Unearthed features the work of three artists whose work is inspired by the passing of time: changes observed in the built environment and found remnants from the past,” says Terry.

Lady Lounges, ceramic, by Geoff Cox, at According To McGee

Diva at the double: Velma Celli: Me And My Divas, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm; Velma Celli: Outlaw Live, National Centre for Early Music, York, doors, 7pm; show, 8pm

YORK’S drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, returns to York Theatre Royal for “an overindulgent diva fest celebrating the songs and behaviour of all your favourite divas” with York singer Jess Steel and West End leading lady Gina Murray.

This cabaret night of impressions and banter celebrates Whitney, Aretha, Bassey, Streisand, Garland, Cilla, Dolly, Madonna, Adele, Sia and latest addition Jessie J.

Next Friday, Velma and York Gin launch Outlaw Live, an outrageous night of cabaret and gin at the NCEM, raising a glass to Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin and all that’s villainous and defiantly naughty about York and its outlaws. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817.

“Explore your inner outlaw”: Velma Celli in Outlaw Live mode

Welcome to the Pleasure dome: King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, Selby Town Hall, tonight, 8pm

AFTER 6,500 performances across 21 countries in more than 30 years on the road, the jump, jive and swing band King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys bring their high octane, good-time show to Selby.

The sartorially sharp British band have performed their dance-hall rhythm & blues opening for BB King, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles and have toured with the Blues Brothers Band from the movie. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.

King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys: In the swing at Selby Town Hall

Jazz gig of the week: Arun Ghosh and Yaatri, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

IN a showcase of Indian-influenced jazz, York promoter Ouroboros presents award-winning clarinettist Arun Ghosh’s return to The Crescent to perform music from new album Seclused In Light. Ghosh and his band deliver a passionate sound driven by soaring melodies, hypnotic rhythms and transcendental textures as he melds jazz with  jazz myriad of musical influences, from jungle to punk, blues to Bollywood.

Support act Yaatri are an art-rock/jazz crossover five-piece, formed in Leeds in 2018, led by Indian/American guitarist and composer Liam Narain DeTar. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Arun Ghosh: Showcasing his Seclused In Light album at The Crescent, York. Picture: Emile Holba

Why life is a minestrone: 10cc, The Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, March 26, 7.30pm

CO-FOUNDER Graham Gouldman leads 10cc on their return to the concert stage after the lockdown lull, as the art-rock icons perform the chart-topping I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday alongside eight more top ten hits.

Bass and guitar player Gouldman, 75, is joined by lead guitarist Rick Fenn, drummer Paul Burgess, keyboards player Keith Hayman and vocalist Iain Hornal. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Graham Gouldman and 10cc: Playing their greatest hits at York Barbican

Candlelit concert of the week: The Ebor Singers, How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, Chapter House, York Minster, March 26, 7.30pm

THE Ebor Singers return to the Chapter House for the first time since March 2020 to celebrate being together again, while pausing to reflect on what society has endured together.

The candlelit programme features Allegri’s Miserere; choral pieces by Whitacre and Esenwalds; an arrangement of Michel Legrand’s jazz classic How Do You Keep The Music Playing? and premieres of two lockdown commissions, Kerensa Briggs’s The Inner Light and Philip Moore’s O Vos Omnes.

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, the singers perform works by Kyiv composer Valentin Silvestrov, 84, who managed to leave the country safely last week. Tickets: on the door or at tickets.yorkminster.org.

The Ebor Singers: First Chapter House concert at York Minster since March 2020

Nostalgia of the week: 70 Years Of Pop Music, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, March 27, 7.30pm

THIS year marks the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the British pop charts, when Al Martino claimed the first number one spot with Here In My Heart on November 20 2022.

Don Pears’ singers and musicians take a journey through the decades from Perry Como and Doris Day to Adele and Ed Sheeran in this fundraiser for the JoRo theatre.  

“Somewhere between A for Abba and Z for ZZ Top, whether you are a fan of the Fifties and Sixties or the Nineties and Noughties, there will be music that will delight you,” promises Don. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Eboracum Baroque: Heading back to the alehouses of 17th century England

Baroque’n’roll: Eboracum Baroque, Purcell And A Pint, York Mansion House, St Helen’s Square, York, May 7, 7.30pm

EBORACUM Baroque are teaming up with York Gin for an evening of rowdy drinking songs, fiddle tunes, alongside music by Purcell and baroque composers “he might have had a pint with”.

“This time our concert is called Purcell And A Pint, sadly not a pint of gin but you still get a free gin on arrival!”, says trumpet player and percussionist Chris Parsons.

“We’ll transport you back to the alehouses of 17th century England. Taverns were raucous surroundings and overflowed with music, alcohol, sex, gossip, fights, fumes, shouting, singing, laughing, dancing. Our performance won’t have all of these – but audience participation is a must.” Box office: eboracumbaroque.co.uk.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on University of York Song Day, 19/2/2022

Christopher Glynn: Put together the University of York Song Day. Picture: Gerard Collett

University of York Song Day, National Centre for Early Music & Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York, February 19

IT fell to Christopher Glynn to put together this year’s University Song Day. He was an excellent choice.

He is of course well known in Yorkshire for his fine stewardship of the Ryedale Festival. But it was also good to have a full-time accompanist of his calibre presiding. His intelligent, always distinctive contributions from the keyboard were the linchpin of the day.

It was in three parts. At lunchtime, A Shakespeare Songbook attracted the talents of soprano Rowan Pierce and tenor Ed Lyon. In the afternoon, outstanding mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge offered advice to five university students in a masterclass.

In the evening, now transplanted to the Lyons, Pierce and Rudge were joined by up-and-coming soprano Siân Dicker in a programme of Richard Strauss lieder stretching over nearly 80 years of his life.

Shakespeare has almost certainly inspired more musical settings than any other poet. Most are taken from the plays, although the sonnets account for a fair number. Here we dipped into five plays and two sonnets, with Shakespeare In Love to start and finish. There were several unexpected delights.

Soprano Rowan Pierce: “Sinister and sprightly in Tippett’s Songs For Ariel”

Arne’s setting of When Daisies Pied (from Love’s Labours Lost) with echoing cuckoo, daintily given by Pierce, was beautifully enhanced by Glynn’s ornamentation. His pacing of the prelude to Haydn’s She Never Told Her Love (Twelfth Night) was tellingly spacious.

Sylvia’s Charms (Two Gentlemen Of Verona), as imagined by Schubert, were boldly extolled by Lyon, before he turned to Julius Harrison’s much less-known setting of Oberon’s I Know A Bank (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), which was complemented by the fairies’ invocation from the same play, You Spotted Snakes, given by Pierce. Both singers proved Harrison an adept watercolourist.

Michael Head is another underestimated song composer, as heard in Pierce’s account of How Sweet The Moonlight Sleeps (Merchant Of Venice), where pianissimo drew in the listener and the piano twinkled with golden sheen.

Lyon brought terrific gusto to Quilter’s setting of Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind (As You Like It), which happened to coincide with snow falling outside, visible through a window of St Margaret’s. We felt the poetry’s chill.

This was signal for a calmer interlude, the duet from Handel’s L’Allegro, As Steals The Morn, which adapts words from The Tempest; it was affectionately delivered. Pierce was both sinister and sprightly in Tippett’s Songs For Ariel, uncovering much of their magic. Similarly, Lyon plumbed the Clown’s infinite sadness in Come Away, Death (Twelfth Night), which was tightly controlled by voice and piano alike.

Tenor Ed Lyon: “Plumbed the Clown’s infinite sadness in Come Away, Death”. Picture: Gerard Collett

Roxanna Panufnik has set three Shakespeare sonnets. Mine Eye treats the words of Sonnet XXIV with utmost care, as did Pierce here. The world premiere of Kim Porter’s duet-setting of Sonnet CXVI made a worthy and equally pleasing companion to it, gentle at its heart, with trickling piano, before building to a triumphal finish.

Both singers relished the challenge of Vaughan Williams’s Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun (Cymbeline), taking a lead from Glynn’s ever-astute handling of the keyboard. The event was a welcome – and powerful – reminder of the rich treasury that is English song.

Devoted as it was entirely to the songs of Richard Strauss, the evening was almost too much of a good thing. Strauss was virtually besotted with the soprano voice in all its guises – he even married a diva – so the presence here of two sopranos and a mezzo was ideal. They exhibited a contrast in styles which added to the excitement.

Here, more than ever, Christopher Glynn was called upon to exercise his skills to the utmost. He never faltered. Indeed, the powerful, scented aromas that these songs generated owed a huge amount to the colours in his palette.

At every step of the way he simplified the singers’ task. Rowan Pierce opened the evening with the six-year-old Strauss’s cute Weihnachtslied (Christmas Carol), before a peppy, vivid Begegnung (Meeting) and a not quite dreamy enough account of Rote Rosen (Red Roses).

Mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge: “Capturing the nervous essence of young love”

Later there was a lovely transition in Schlechtes Wetter (Filthy Weather), where voice and piano together melted into the waltz, leaving behind the bad mood of wind and rain and conjuring the dance in their place.

Kathryn Rudge began with three songs from Op 10, composed in 1894 and his first to be published. She entered straight into the mood of Zueignung (Dedication), giving its powerful melody a strong line. She never let our attention wander after that either.

Glynn brought bold colourings to Nichts (Nothing), which she amplified, before a wonderfully contemplative Die Nacht (Night), calm, hovering, treasuring the moment. It was a gem.

She later returned with Schlagende Herzen (Beating hearts), capturing the nervous essence of young love with its repeated ‘kling-klangs’. There was no doubt about the depth of her feeling in Sehnsucht (Yearning), and her approach to the final word, Paradise, at the end of Das Rosenband (Rose Garland) was exquisite, once again making time stand still.

These were the work of a singer in her prime, one who knows exactly how to hold an audience in thrall. Spellbinding stuff, the voice beautifully focused throughout its range, right to the very top.

Sian Dicker: “At her best when she did not have to restrain her inner Brunnhilde”. Picture: Benjamin Ealovega 

Sián Dicker’s opening set came from Op 27, composed in 1894. She was at her best when she did not have to restrain her inner Brunnhilde. Ruhe Meine Seele (Rest My Soul) exploded into distress before neatly calming down.

Anticipated ecstasy bubbled through Heimliche Aufforderung (Secret Invitation), before her most controlled singing of the evening in Morgen! (Tomorrow), in which she took inspiration from Glynn’s gently modulated prelude (echoed in his postlude).

She was also given the honour of performing the Four Last Songs, which Strauss wrote in 1948, a year before his death. In Frühling (Spring) she developed terrific resonance at its heart but also revealed a recurring tendency to widen her vibrato when she pushed the tone too hard.

The urgency at the start of the last stanza on Beim Schlafengehen (Going To Sleep) was well judged but it needed to be followed by greater inwardness, the kind she found at the end of the final song. All the while, Glynn was achieving little miracles at the keyboard, larks trilling in the twilight, for example, before another eloquent postlude.

The three singers signed off with the trio from the end of Der Rosenkavalier, Hab’ mir’s Gelobt (I Made A Vow), when the Marschallin bows out, leaving Octavian and Sophie to each other. It was beautifully, even touchingly, done and crystalised the heady perfumes that all four musicians had concocted throughout the evening.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Hope springs eternal in jam-packed concert season at National Centre for Early Music

Cantoria: Celebrating Early Music Day with El Jubilate concert on March 18

THE Spring Season is up and running at the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York.

In a busy first week, last Monday, folkloric duo Heal & Harrow’s Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl paid a humanising tribute to those persecuted in the 16th and 17th century Scottish witch trials.

Last Friday, the Grace Smith Trio – Smith on fiddle, Sam Patridge, concertina, and Bevan Morris, double bass – performed with the participants in the National Youth Folk Ensemble (NYFE) programme, under the artistic direction of Partridge. The NCEM hosted the NYFE’s first residency in two years for workshops leading up to the concluding concert.

Saturday’s University of York Song Day took the theme of Shakespeare In Love in a programme devised by pianist and Ryedale Festival director Christopher Glynn, who was joined in a lunchtime concert by soprano Rowan Pierce and tenor Ed Lyon and later by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge in a masterclass for student singers.

Moishe’s Bagel: Door-to-door delivery of klezmer and folk music on March 9

The University of York Baroque+ Day will follow on June 4 with the theme of 100 Years In Berlin: a day to explore the musical life of the Prussian capital – from the Baroque to the early Romantic period – in three concerts in the company of the University Baroque Ensemble, under the direction of Rachel Gray and guest leader Catherine Martin; pianist and broadcaster David Owen Norris and classical wind specialists Boxwood & Brass.

On Sunday evening, the Songlines Encounters Festival presented Kayhan Kalhor and fellow Iranian, musician and composer Kiya Tabassian, Kalhor’s student of many years, in an evening of exquisite improvisations. Kalhor is a virtuoso of the Persian spiked fiddle, the kamancheh, but here he performed on the setar, a four-stringed lute with 25 movable frets, often associated with Sufism.

“Our spring season is jam-packed with musical delights, welcoming in a new year with more than a little hope that 2022 will be happier and healthier for us all,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin.

“Guest artists will include some of the finest folk, jazz, global and early music specialists on the circuit today, with highlights including the welcome return of sax virtuoso Snake Davis, the ever-entertaining Moishe’s Bagel and folk legends Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, whose concert is finally on after repeated postponements in lockdown.

NCEM director Delma Tomlin: “Welcoming in a new year with more than a little hope that 2022 will be happier and healthier for us all”

“As ever, we offer a warm welcome to artists from across the world and are particularly delighted to welcome the vibrant strings of VOŁOSI; qanun specialist Maya Youssef, from Syria, and the sparklingly young vocal ensemble Cantoria from Spain. All are guaranteed to bring warmth, entertainment and joy to our audiences.”

Coming next, on March 9, will be the return of Edinburgh’s Moishe’s Bagel with their cutting-edge klezmer and folk music, combining life-affirming Eastern European dance music, Middle Eastern rhythms and virtuoso improvised performances. Expect new pieces alongside favourites.

On March 11, Scottish folk duo Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham combine humorous banter with heartstring-tugging tunes, joyous reels and melodies aplenty in a partnership that has runs to 30 years now.

Booked for March 17, powerhouse English folk trio Faustus have spent much of the past two years researching and writing new material from the poetry of the 1860s’ Lancashire Cotton Famine, resulting in moving new songs, as heard on the Cotton Lords EP. 

Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham: Playing together for three decades

In the line-up will be Benji Kirkpatrick, from the Seth Lakeman Band, Steeleye Span and Bellowhead; Saul Rose, from Waterson:Carthy, Eliza Carthy’s Wayward Band and Whapweazel, and Paul Sartin, from Bellowhead and Belshazzar’s Feast.

Cantoría celebrate the 2022 Early Music Day with El Jubilate, a March 18 programme drawn from the Spanish songbooks of the Renaissance, brimful of desire, passion and sin, but fiery devotion, love, joy and solitude too.

At 7pm, Cantoria – featuring soprano Inés Alonso, countertenor Oriol Guimera, tenor Jorge Losana and bass Valentin Miralles – explore a world of demons, saints and people that lived with the same complicated emotions that we face today.

This Spanish ensemble gave a performance at the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival four years and have participated in the EEEMerging+ programme for two years. They will be in residence at the NCEM in March, leading up to the concert.

Trish Clowes with her My Iris band members: Seeing eye to eye in York on May 3. Picture: Brian Homer

Innovative folk accordionist, vocalist and clog dancer Hannah James, a key figure in the revival of English percussive dance, unites with globetrotting, post-classical, improvisational French cellist Toby Kuhn for Sleeping Spirals, an April 8 concert full of playful chemistry, warmth and soul, as they resume their new project started last autumn.

On April 20, led by British composer and violinist Christian Garrick, Budapest Café Orchestra perform a blistering barrage of traditional folk and gypsy- flavoured music that takes in the Balkans and Russia, Klezmer laments, Romanian doinas, Hungarian czadas and their own re-imaginings of big tunes by classical greats.

Flook, in the NCEM diary for April 27, take inspiration from Irish and English sources, weaving and spinning traditionally rooted tunes over precise acoustic grooves with a bold, adventurous musical imagination, as whistle player Brian Finnegan, flautist Sarah Allen, guitarist Ed Boyd and bodhran player Joihn Joe Kelly have been doing for more than 25 years.

Saxophonist-to-the-stars Snake Davis is welcomed back to the NCEM on April 28, this time in a new venture with arranger, composer and pianist Robin A Smith, musical director for the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012.

Snake Davis and Robin A Smith: New venture at the NCEM on April 28

Sparring partners for decades, spearheading the Classic Chillout movement 20 years ago, they now team up to celebrate the joy and power of classical, folk, pop and jazz music.

Another saxophonist, Trish Clowes, leads her jazz band My Iris in their York debut on May 3, providing pianist Ross Stanley, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer James Maddren with a high-intensity platform for individual expression and improvisation, delivering driving grooves and lingering melodic lines, as they “seamlessly morph between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes”.

The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival returns to the NCEM on May 10 to present the 1929 Indian box-office smash A Throw Of The Dice (PG), accompanied by an improvised live score by Utsav Lal, a young Indian pianist noted for his innovative piano renditions of Hindustani ragas.

Based on an episode from The Mahabarata, this lavishly romantic silent film tells the story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman. Filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-star Indian cast, it rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle.

VOŁOSI : Seeking to “exceed the limits of string instruments” on May 23

After 700 concerts in 34 countries, the string-driven VOŁOSI make their NCEM debut on May 23, led by violinist Krzysztof Lasoń and cellist Stanisław Lasoń, who first joined forces with traditional performers deep in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains in 2010. From those roots, the Polish band seek to “exceed the limits of string instruments” with their modern, powerful and emotional playing.

On June 9, Maya Youssef, queen of the qanun, the 78-stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither, showcases Finding Home, an album that takes a journey through memories and the essence of home, both within and without, as she explores the emotional and healing qualities of music.

“It’s about finding that place of peace, that place of softness, comfort and healing, which manifests in everyone in a unique way, from finding home in nature to the people who make us feel that sense of relief and peace,” says Maya, who will be joined by the musicians from the recording sessions that were rooted in the Arabic classical tradition but forged pathways into jazz, Western classical and flamenco styles too.

For Maya, who was born in Damascus, Syria, and has lived in the UK since 2012, the act of playing music is a both a life and hope-affirming act and an antidote to what is happening, not only in Syria, but across the world.

This will be the first of three concerts to be staged at the NCEM under the umbrella of the York Festival of Ideas. In the second, on June 12, guitarist, composer and ukulele virtuoso Richard Durrant at last cycles into York on his Covid-delayed Music For Midsummer musical pilgrimage from Orkney to Brighton Open Air Theatre for the summer solstice.

Maya Youssef: Finding Home at the NCEM on June 9

Expect plenty of tales from the road, as well as original guitar music, British-flavoured folk and Bach on the uke as he celebrates the release of his Rewilding album.

For the third concert, double bassist and composer Alison Rayner leads her vibrant, award-winning quintet through “songs without words” on June 17 in the company of Buster Birch, drums, Deirdre Cartwright, guitar, Diane McLoughlin, saxophones, and Steve Lodder, piano.  

Their music-making combines richly nuanced compositions, rhythmic interplay and folk-infused melodies with a cinematic quality, a love of improvisation and a strong sense of narrative.

Already booked for the autumn are She’koyokh, an international seven-piece klezmer and Balkan band from London, on October 30 (6.30pm) and Scottish fiddler, composer John McCusker, celebrating his 30th anniversary as a professional musician, on November 2.

Performances start at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise. Box office: 01904 658338 or at ncem.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond despite Killer Queen banning rock music. List No. 69, courtesy of The Press, York

Bohemians in rhapsody: We Will Rock You weaves its way through 24 Queen songs at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Johan Persson

FROM Queen’s “rock theatrical” to Britney fandom, a café’s mug exhibition to folk’s witching hour, outlaw cabaret with gin to confronting digital intrusiveness, Charles Hutchinson finds diversity aplenty to enjoy.

Musical of the week: We Will Rock You, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday

WRITER and comedian Ben Elton directs the 20th anniversary of We Will Rock You, the “guaranteed-to-blow-your-mind” Queen musical built around his dystopian futuristic storyline.

In a system that bans rock music, a handful of rebels, the Bohemians, vows to fight against an all-powerful global company and its boss, the Killer Queen.

Musical advisor Brian May says “the world’s first true Rock Theatrical” now has a state-of-the-art new look, with a story of breaking free from conformity more relevant than ever. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

Reiko Kaneko: Taking part in the Cups and Such exhibition at FortyFive Vinyl Cafe. Picture: Cat Garcia

Cracking (or hopefully not) exhibition of the week: Cups and Such…or, A Hug In A Mug, FortyFive Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, until March 6

“A HUG for you, or for someone else, Cups and Such is an exhibition of beautiful, handmade drinking vessels that promises to offer comfort and solace for all,” says curator Lotte Inch.

Working in tandem with FortyFive Vinyl Café, that welcoming haven of music, coffee and comfort food, Lotte Inch Gallery has selected cups, mugs, beakers, tea bowls and more, made by hand by Rebecca Callis, Reiko Kaneko, Ali Tomlin and the Leach Studios to “offer someone a moment of warmth, a sense of connection and an opportunity to embrace”. 

“This can’t be it,” ponders Mark Watson in Pocklington tonight. Picture: Matt Crockett

Topical comedy gig of the outside York: Mark Watson, This Can’t Be It, Pocklington Arts Centre, tonight, 8pm

AMID so much pandemic pondering about the fragility of life recently, don’t worry, comedian Mark Watson has it covered.  At 41 – he turns 42 tomorrow – he is halfway through his days on Earth, according to the life expectancy calculator app that cost him all of £1.49.

That life is in the best shape in living memory but one problem remains. A huge one. Spiritual enquiry meets high-octane observational comedy as the No More Jockeys cult leader strives to cram two years of pathological overthinking into an evening of stand-up. “Maybe we’ll even solve the huge problem,” says Watson. “Doubt it, though.” Box office for returns only: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Shereen Roushbaiani in Saving Britney at Theatre@ 41, Monkgate, York

Noughties’ nostalgia of the week: Saving Britney, John Cooper Studio, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, tomorrow (13/2/2022) at 8pm

MILLENNIALS such as Jean grew up with Britney Spears. Saving Britney recounts how the Princess of Pop influenced Jean’s life and how the connections shared between them led to an unbelievable moment of self-discovery.

Inspired by the #FreeBritney movement, Shereen Roushbaiani takes a humorous yet heart-breaking look at celebrity obsession, sexuality and growing up in the early Noughties. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Heal & Harrow’s Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl

Folk concert of the week: Heal & Harrow, National Centre for Early Music, York, Monday, 7.30pm

HEAL & Harrow are folk musicians Rachel Newton, from The Shee, The Furrow Collective and Spell Songs, and Lauren MacColl, of Rant and Salt House.

Working as duo for the first time, they combine newly composed music and accompanying visuals in a tribute to those persecuted in the 16th and 17th century Scottish Witch Trials, 80 per cent of them women.

The project also explores historical beliefs in the supernatural and modern-day parallels, each piece being based on commissioned works by author Mairi Kidd. Box office: 01904 658338 or at ncem.co.uk.

Reality check: Corinne Kilvington’s Polly in The Girl In The Machine

Premiere of the week: Theatre Space North-East in Girl In The Machine, John Cooper Studio, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, February 17, 7.30pm

STEF Smith’s ground-breaking play Girl In The Machine explores our unease over digital intrusiveness, then pushes it a step into the future in Jamie Brown’s touring production.

In brief: Owen (Lawrence Neale) and Polly (Corinne Kilvington) are in successful careers and wildly in love, feeling ready to take on the world, but when a mysterious new technology, promising a break from the daily grind, creeps into everyone’s phones, their world is turned upside down.

As the line between physical and digital dissipates, Owen and Polly are forced to question whether their definitions of reality and freedom are the same. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles Salter lines up new band members for Black Swan gig

Meet the new Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, The Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, February 19, 8pm to 11.30pm

YORK writer, musician and storyteller Miles Salter is back with a new Chain Gang for a headline show at the Black Swan.

“This is the first gig with the new line-up and it’s sounding great,” says Salter, introducing Daniel Bowater on keyboards, Steve Purton on drums, Mat Watt on bass and Mark Hawkins on lead guitar.

Miles And The Chain Gang will be supported by Sarah Louise Boyle, Lee Moore and Monkey Paw. “It’ll be a diverse and fun evening, so do come along,” says Salter. Tickets: at prime4.bandcamp.com/merch/miles or on the door.

Sax Forte: First concert of York Unitarians’ 2022 lunchtime series

Sax to the max: Sax Forte, York Unitarians Friday Lunchtime Concerts, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, March 11, 12.30pm

CELEBRATING their 350th anniversary in 2022, York Unitarians open their 11th season of  Friday lunchtime concerts with the return of York saxophone quartet Sax Forte.

Playing together since 2016, Chris Hayes, Keith Schooling, Jane Parkin and David Badcock all have extensive experience with other quartets, bands and orchestras. They are equally at home playing programmes of serious and light classical music or jazz and swing standards. Tickets cost £6 (cash) on the door.

Gin up: Drag diva Velma Celli hosts Outlaw Live cabaret night with a dash of York Gin

Not just the tonic: Velma Celli and York Gin’s Outlaw Live cabaret night, National Centre for Early Music, York, March 25, 8pm to 10.30pm

YORK drag diva Velma Celli invites you to “celebrate your inner outlaw” at York Gin’s cabaret soiree at the NCEM.

For one night only, glamorous Velma and friends will be celebrating all that’s naughty, villainous and defiantly outrageous about York and its outlaws, from Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin, with a combination of song, laughter and York Gin.

Tickets are on sale at tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817/ and admission includes a gin cocktail on arrival.

Drag diva Velma Celli is just the tonic as York Gin hosts ‘outrageous’ Outlaw Live cabaret at National Centre for Early Music

Velma Cellli: A night of song, laughter and York Gin

YORK drag diva Velma Celli invites you to “celebrate your inner outlaw” at York Gin’s outrageous cabaret soiree at the National Centre of Early Music, Walmgate, York, on March 25.

“York is a city of outlaws: Guy Fawkes was born here. Dick Turpin was hanged here,” says York Gin Company events coordinator Harri Marshall. “It’s even home to the super-strength York Gin Outlaw, which comes with a warning: ‘Drink, with ice, tonic … and care’.

“Now – for one night only – one of the UK’s ‘baddest’ drag queens will be celebrating all that’s naughty, villainous and defiantly outrageous about York and its outlaws.”

Back home in York from America after a month of shows on Atlantis Gay Cruise ships, Velma Celli promises a night of song, laughter and York Gin as Velma and friends “unleash a riot of glamorous outrage”.

Ingredients for Outlaw Live: Velma Celli + York Gin + Cabaret + NCEM

Tickets are selling fast at tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817/ and admission includes a gin cocktail on arrival.

“If you love drag, gin, and being just a little bit naughty, this one’s for you,” says Velma, the vocal drag creation of West End musical actor Ian Stroughair, 39.

In Velma’s diary too is a March 19 performance of Me And My Divas at York Theatre Royal at 7.30pm and a June 30 performance of A Brief History Of Drag at Pocklington Arts Centre at 8pm. Box office: York, 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk; Pocklington, 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.