More Things To Do in and around York for June 18 to June 26, as the Romans invade again. List No. 87, courtesy of The Press

Cherie Gordon in Everyday, on tour at York Theatre Royal in Deafinitely Theatre’s 20th anniversary tour. Picture: Becky Bailey

FROM the Pride parade to Roman festivities, Americana musicians to English prog legends, defiant deaf theatre to bracing art, Charles Hutchinson savours a diverse diary ahead.

Empowering play of the week: Everyday, Deafinitely Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm

FOUR people come together to perform a ritual of community and catharsis. Gathering up true stories of deaf women and non-binary people’s experiences of surviving abuse, they form a witches’ coven like no other, replete with a cauldron of newt’s eyes and butterflies, deep scars, and blazing signs.

Commissioned by New Diorama Theatre, Deafinitely Theatre’s playful, urgent, defiant world premiere by writer-director Paula Garfield combines British Sign Language and oral English as it draws on interviews to explore domestic abuse and mental health in the deaf community. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Davina De Campo: Performing at York LGBT Pride at Knavesmire

Fiesta of the week: York LGBT Pride, June 18, from high noon

THE York Pride Parade leaves from outside York Minster at Duncombe Place. Best advice: arrive at 11.45am, ready for departure at 12 noon, with the parade arriving at Knavesmire (Tadcaster Road end) between 1pm and 1.30pm.

On the main stage, hosts Miss Sordid Secret and DJ Kira introduce live music and entertainment from Nadine Coyle, Davina De Campo, Duncan James, Marcus Collins and Jo O’Meara. York Pride is a free family-friendly event, but donations are welcome.

Dolphin Hotel, by David Finnigan, at According To McGee, York

Exhibition launch of the week: Contemporary Painting: Elementals and Synthesis by Freya Horsley and David Finnigan, According To McGee, Tower Street, York, June 18 to July 11

EXHIBITING Freya Horsley, from York, alongside David Finnigan, from Scarborough, is “not so much a duo show, more like two exhibitions in one gallery,” says According To McGee co-director Greg McGee.

“Freya and David are far removed in terms of subject and mark making, but there’s enough intersection to be able to build an event like this.”

Horsley’s Elementals works focus on seascapes full of bristling light and spray, serenity and inner-lit joy; Finnigan’s four new Synthesis paintings are geometric abstractions influenced by sound and modulation. 

Sunday’ll be the day for That’ll Be The Day! at Grand Opera House, York

Tribute gig of the week: That’ll Be The Day!, Grand Opera House, York, June 19, 7pm

THIS long-running show, now into its 36th year, celebrates the golden age of rock’n’roll and pop from the 1950s through to the 1980s.

That’ll Be The Day combines comedy sketches and impersonations with stellar vocals and musicianship, fronted by director, producer and vocalist Trevor Payne. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at

Courtney Marie Andrews: Third time lucky for Phoenix singer-songwriter as she returns to Pocklington at last

Americana gig of the week: Courtney Marie Andrews, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 19, 8pm

AMERICAN singer, songwriter, poet, musician and now artist Courtney Marie Andrews makes her long-awaited return to Pocklington this weekend.

Phoenix-born Courtney, 31, twice had to postpone the follow-up to her December 2018 gig. The focus was expected to be on the 2021 Grammy-nominated Old Flowers, but now that she has announced the October 7 release of ninth album Loose Future on Fat Possum, hopefully she will showcase new material too. Box office: 01759 301547 or

Yes, it is Yes: Playing Close To The Edge at York Barbican

Progressing to the past: Yes, York Barbican, Wednesday, 8pm

PROG rock pioneers Yes’s Album Series Tour 2022 celebrates the 50th anniversary of Close To The Edge, the September 1972 album inspired by Siddharta and their “state of mind” at the time.

Wednesday’s concert combines the iconic album in full with further Yes classics, performed by Steve Howe, guitars, Geoff Downes, keyboards, Jon Davison, vocals, Billy Sherwood, bass guitar, and Jay Schellen, drums and percussion. Legendary Yes artwork artist Roger Dean opens the show with a video wall of images and graphics and a reflection on his long history with the band. Tickets remain valid from the postponed May 19 2021 date. Box office:

The Felice Brothers, James, second from left, and Ian, right, with band members Will Lawrence and Jesske Hume

If you are yet to discover…The Felice Brothers, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm

THE Felice Brothers, the folk rock/country rock band from the Hudson valley of upstate New York, are led by Ian and James Felice, joined on this tour by Will Lawrence on drums and Jesske Hume on bass.

Inspired equally by Woody Guthrie and Chuck Berry, they began in 2006 by playing subway platforms and sidewalks in New York City and have since released ten albums, the latest being 2021’s From Dreams To Dust. Box office: 01759 301547 or

Charge! The Eboracum Roman Festival is on its way

Festival of the week: Eboracum Roman Festival, June 25 and 26, all day

THE Legions of Rome take over York Museum Gardens for a packed weekend of outdoor festivities featuring a Roman Living History Encampment between 10am and 5pm each day; the Kids Army and Roman-themed family activities run by Playful Anywhere from 11am to 3pm on both days. Entry is free.

Head inside the Yorkshire Museum to discover Roman treasures, especially the new exhibition The Ryedale Hoard: A Roman Mystery.  

Authors of Roman fiction and non-fiction will chat and sign books in the Tempest Anderson Hall from 10am to 4pm each day.

The Chemical Brothers: Get ready for Block Rockin’ Beats at Castle Howard

Big beat of the week: The Chemical Brothers, Castle Howard, near York, nearer Malton, June 26; gates open at 5pm 

HEY boy, hey girl, electronic pioneers The Chemical Brothers are taking to the stately-home grass this summer as Manchester big beat duo Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, both 51, galvanize rave diggers.

Expect such dancefloor nuggets as the chart-topping Setting Sun and Block Rockin’ Beats, Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Let Forever Be, It Began In Afrika, Star Guitar, Galvanize, Do It Again. Got To Keep On and Go. Camping will be available. Box office:

Third time lucky for Courtney Marie Andrews at Pocklington Arts Centre tonight

Courtney Marie Andrews: New album in October

AMERICAN singer, songwriter, poet, musician and now artist Courtney Marie Andrews makes her long-awaited return to Pocklington Arts Centre tonight (19/6/2022)

Courtney, 31, had been booked to follow up her December 2018 appearance on June 17 2020, but pandemic restrictions put paid to that show and its rearranged date of June 17 2021.

Third time lucky, the Phoenix-born Grammy nominee plays PAC this weekend, having announced the October 7 release of her ninth studio album, Loose Future on Fat Possum.

Already Courtney has launched the aptly named first single, Satellite: a departure from the more traditional Americana sound of her earlier work, building from a breezy guitar and vocal arrangement into a dreamy tapestry of synths, layered vocals and reverb-heavy slide guitar.

“I’ve written a lot of love songs, but there’s always a tinge of heartbreak, but Satellite is a love song without caveats,” she says. “I wanted to look forward and fall in love with the mystery of someone. Let love in, without questioning or instigating how it might hurt me. Sonically, I wanted to go to space. This kind of love isn’t earthbound.”

Courtney initially approached recording a new album by writing a song every day. Feeling “the sounds of the summer” flowing through her writing, gradually she collected an album’s worth of material imbued with a sense of romance, possibility and freedom.

She enlisted Sam Evian (Big Thief, Cassandra Jenkins, Anna Burch) to co-produce the songs from recording sessions at Evian’s Flying Cloud Recordings studio in the Catskill Mountains in New York State.

Courtney Marie Andrews’ artwork for Loose Future: “I knew I wanted to paint the cover for this record,” she says

Joining her on Loose Future are Grizzly Bear drummer Chris Bear and Bonnie Light Horseman’s Josh Kaufman on multiple instruments.

Committing her life to music from a young age, Courtney played in punk bands in high school before becoming a touring member of Jimmy Eat World at 18. She garnered her first Grammy Award nomination for Best Americana Album for 2020’s Old Flowers, subsequently receiving International Album Of The Year and International Artist Of The Year honours at the 2021 Americana UK Awards.

In the quietude of an emptied diary during the pandemic lockdowns she branched out into publishing her debut poetry collection, Old Monarch, through Simon & Schuster.

Her last Pocklington show – sold out by the way – came at the end of a week when Courtney was felled by a viral infection the morning after her London gig and had to call off her Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford gigs.

Rested and recuperated, she was still nursing a cough but found the energy for a solo set of songs and stories, introducing Ships In The Night and It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault, two compositions that would end up on Old Flowers.

Now comes Loose Future, featuring Courtney’s own artwork too boot. “I knew I wanted to paint the cover for this record,” she says. “I was afraid to at first, but after a talk with an encouraging friend, I threw all caution to the wind and painted a season of my life in shapes.”

The album track listing will be: Loose Future; Older Now; On The Line; Satellite; These Are The Good Old Days; Thinkin’ On You; You Do What You Want; Let Her Go; Change My Mind and Me & Jerry.

Tickets for tonight’s 8pm concert, part of a seven-date whistle-stop tour, are on sale at

Director Janet Farmer leaves Pocklington Arts Centre after 25 years and 900 live shows at ‘the little place the big acts play’

Farewell: Departing director Janet Farmer in the Pocklington Arts Centre auditorium

DIRECTOR Janet Farmer hosts her leaving party at Pocklington Arts Centre tonight as she ends her 25-year association with the East Yorkshire venue.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, she oversaw her last concert: a strikingly strong double bill of Devonian folk musician John Smith and Eastern Pennsylvanian husband-and-wife duo Native Harrow, who reviewer Paul Rhodes observed “would have been worthy headliners in their own right”.

Janet will retire in mid-April after 22 years in post, preceded by three years of fundraising to transform the market town’s former cinema into a theatre, concert venue, cinema and studio gallery. The recruitment process to appoint her successor is under way.

From a standing start in 2000, Janet has led Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) into becoming a leading small-scale arts venue, recognised nationally as a beacon of good practice with a significant cultural reputation.

Janet has drawn more than £1million in public funding to support the venue’s presentation of 3,500 film screenings and staging of 900 live events, numerous festivals, from Pocktoberfest to the Platform Festival at the Old Station, plus hundreds of community events, workshops, exhibitions and private hires.

“When I started here, we borrowed an artists’ contact file; there were no agents online!” recalls Janet. “You had to buy a book with agents’ contact details and then contact them by fax.

“All the deals were down over the phone or by fax, whereas now it’s mostly by email, which can be seen as sad progress as you don’t always have that verbal contact any more.”

Over the past 22 years, Janet has programmed a diverse range of acts, naming her personal favourites as Joan Armatrading and Shed Seven, who both rehearsed at PAC for upcoming tours, Lesley Garrett, John Bishop, The Shires, Rhod Gilbert, Sarah Millican, Lucinda Williams, Baroness Shirley Williams, KT Tunstall, The Unthanks, Mary Chapin Carpenter, David Ford and Josh Ritter.

When informing PAC staff and volunteers of her decision in January, Janet said: “I am sure this will be said on many occasions over the next few months, but I want to thank all of the staff and volunteers for their tireless support, hard work, dedication and friendship. This has been vital to making PAC the success it is today.

“It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to lead PAC over two decades and it fills me with immense pride knowing what has been achieved during this time. I look forward to returning as a customer and perhaps a volunteer in years to come.”

Twenty-five years, Janet, can you believe it? “People keep saying they’re surprised, but, yes, it really has been that long. I did think I would finish in 2020, and but for the pandemic, I would have done, but I felt I had to see out the time when we were closed,” she says.

“A big part of that was to apply for the Government’s Culture Recovery Funding, and only one application was necessary, what with the support we received from East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and the furlough scheme, which meant we could continue to pay even part-time staff.”

Amid the ebb and flow of three pandemic lockdowns from March 2020, PAC continued to function by mounting 50-plus online events and workshops, staging a series of outdoor exhibitions by Sue Clayton and Karen Winship and launching Primrose Wood Acoustics concerts in June 2021 before reopening with two socially distanced performances by comedian Sarah Millican last July.

“We took Sue and Karen’s exhibitions into Askham Bar Vaccination Centre’s Tent of Hope in York and we took part in the online Your Place Comedy double bills, streamed from comedians’ living rooms and organised by Chris Jones of Selby Town Hall, with a host of independent Yorkshire venues involved,” says Janet.

“We did online shows with our beloved Lip Service too, and online has proved a really good way for people to discover acts like [York singer-songwriter] Rachel Croft and (Leeds band] The Dunwells, who were doing nightly streams at one point in lockdown.”

Janet wanted PAC to regain momentum before leaving this spring. “We’re doing all we can to make people feel safe as they return to coming here, such as having medical-grade air purifiers,” she says.

“I wanted us to get back into the swing of what we do, so we could show we could still do concerts, films, theatre, comedy and exhibitions well with good attendances again, and we have.”

She will continue to live in Pocklington while undertaking plenty of travel too. “This summer I can start the gap year I never had, going round the festivals, such as Cambridge Folk Festival; Kilkenny Arts Festival in August; Telluride Bluegrass Festival, in the Colorado mountains, where it’s a ski resort in the winter. Sitting in the mountains, watching a bluegrass festival, I’ll be in my element.”

Born and bred in York, trained in theatre, film and social sciences at York St John and later in theatre programming and policy through Leeds Playhouse, Janet first became the focal point of fundraising to establish Pocklington Arts Centre.

She then took on the role of running PAC once it opened. “I had to learn very quickly on the job, but I always had a handle on what people liked, like booking Johnny Vegas before he was well known,” recalls Janet.

“There were financial constraints, so I couldn’t be too adventurous at the start, and then there was always a bit of a problem of people not knowing where Pocklington was. But once we started getting bigger names, we could quote that to agents, and we became the little place that big acts wanted to play.”

That will be Janet’s legacy. “I’ve done my bit and it’s time to retire from here, though no doubt I’ll do some volunteering,” she says.

Janet Farmer: On stage at a Platform Festival, run by Pocklington Arts Centre at the Old Station, Pocklington

Janet Farmer’s Pocklington Arts Centre timeline

2000: First live event, French-Algerian guitarist Pierre Bensusan, February 2.

2000: First film, The Last September, directed by Deborah Warner, February 24.

2000: First outdoor festival, staged in April.

2001: First arts festival to be staged across the market town by PAC, continuing for four more years.

2001: James Duffy employed as box office assistant in October. Now general manager.

2002: Janet directs Fiddler On The Roof for Pocklington Dramatic Society.

2003: First film festival, including An Audience With Barry Norman.

2004: Second film festival, including Q&A with BAFTA chair Duncan Kenworthy and film journalist Quentin Falk.

2010: Forgotten Voices Community Choir launched.

2011: First full-colour A5 live events brochure launched.

2011: PAC cinema projection converted from 35mm to digital.

2011: PAC joins forces with Pocklington’s Roundtable to launch large-scale festival of beer and music

2016: Platform Festival of music and comedy launched.

2016: £600,000 refurbishment.

2018: Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status awarded with annual funding.

2018: Sara Morton appointed as PAC’s first marketing and administrative officer.

2019: Dementia Choir launched.

2020: PAC closes under Covid pandemic restrictions in March.

2020/2021: PAC stages 50-plus online events and workshops during lockdown.

2021: PAC stages series of outdoor exhibitions by Sue Clayton and Karen Winship during lockdown.

2021: Primrose Wood Acoustics launched in June.

2021: PAC reopens in July with two socially distanced performances by comedian Sarah Millican after 17 months of closure.

2022: Director Janet Farmer to leave in April after 25 years’ involvement.

Pocklington Arts Centre’s statistics under Janet Farmer

£1 million raised in public funding for PAC.

3,500 film screenings programmed since 2000.

900 live events programmed.

100s of community events, workshops, exhibitions and private hires staged.

20-plus arts, music and film festivals mounted.

Joan Armatrading: Rehearsed at Pocklington Arts Centre in preparation for a national tour

Music acts brought to Pocklington by Janet Farmer since 2000:

Joan Armatrading; Richard Hawley; Lucinda Williams; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Rosanne Cash; The Unthanks; Edwyn Collins; The Staves; Josh Ritter; Hothouse Flowers; Kate Rusby; The Shires; Adam Cohen; Amy Macdonald; KT Tunstall; Lesley Garrett.

The Searchers; Barbara Dickson; Beth Orton; Eric Bibb; Nick Mulvey; Roger McGuinn; Elkie Brooks; Eddi Reader; The Magic Numbers; Gretchen Peters; Levellers; Ron Sexsmith; Ruby Turner; Kathryn Williams; Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Echo & The Bunnymen; Fairport Convention; Teddy Thompson; Mary Coughlan; David Ford; Clare Teal; Ward Thomas; The Blockheads; Raul Malo; Lissie; Dr Feelgood; Newton Faulkner; Georgie Fame; Lau; Fishermen’s Friends; Seth Lakeman; Alvin Stardust.

Ralph McTell; Bellowhead; Benjamin Francis Leftwich; The Coal Porters; Martyn Joseph; Irish Mythen; Courtney Marie Andrews; The Manfreds; Otis Gibbs; London Community Gospel Choir; Hugh Cornwell; Thea Gilmore.

Shed Seven; Benjamin Francis Leftwich; Curtis Stigers; Graham Coxon; Greg Lake; Glenn Tilbrook; Badly Drawn Boy; Courtney Pine; Joe Brown; Grace Petrie; Martin Simpson; Marty Wilde; Vonda Shepherd; Martha Wainwright and The Young’Uns.

Regional music:

The Howl & The Hum; Beth McCarthy; Dan Webster; Gina Dootson; Boss Caine; Amy May Ellis; Joshua Bunell; Edwina Hayes; The Dunwells; Rachel Croft; Charlie Daykin; Katie Spencer; Jessica Simpson; Gary Stewart; Josh Savage; The Grand Old Uke Of York; Mambo Jambo; Miles Salter; Nick Hall.

Spoken word:

Kae Tempest; Simon Armitage; Bob Harris; Pam Ayres; John Cooper Clarke; Sandi Toksvig; Keith Floyd; Jay Rayner; Baroness Shirley Williams; Michael Portillo; John Hegley; Tony Benn; Simon Callow; Jeremy Vine.

Robert Powell; Michael Dobbs; Andrew Motion; Paddy Ashdown; Ian McMillan; Barry Norman; Chris Packham; Amanda Owen; Clive James; Matt Abbott; George Melly; John Sergeant; Martin Bell; Gyles Brandreth and Julian Norton.


Trestle Theatre; Opera North; Northern Broadsides; Red Ladder Theatre Company; Reduced Shakespeare Company; Idle Motion; Reform Theatre; Talegate Theatre; Magic Carpet Theatre; North Country Theatre; Hull Truck Theatre; BlackEyed Theatre; Lempen Puppet Theatre; MultiStory Theatre; NTC; Vamos Theatre; ShowStoppers! and Badapple Theatre Company.


John Bishop; Sarah Millican; Dylan Moran; Jenny Éclair; Al Murray; Ross Noble; Fascinating Aida; Andrew Maxwell; Chris Ramsey; Jason Manford; Omid Djalili; Sue Perkins; Rob Beckett; Lucy Beaumont; Jon Richardson; Stewart Lee; John Shuttleworth; Rhod Gilbert.

Arthur Smith; Luisa Omielan; Phill Jupitus; David Baddiel; Greg Davies; Paul Merton’s Impro Chums; Henning Wehn; Stephen K Amos; Patrick Monahan; Dave Gorman; Russell Kane; Jeremy Hardy; Mark Steel; Rich Hall; Gary Delaney and Barry Cryer.

REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on John Smith and Native Harrow, Pocklington Arts Centre, April 5

John Smith: “Great balm for a spring Tuesday”. Picture: Paul Rhodes

JOHN Smith has a slippers-and-onesie type of voice; soft, comforting and a little frayed around the edges. Performing solo, this long-postponed gig was a great balm for a spring Tuesday.

As other have noticed before, Smith’s voice does sound like John Martyn (in his mid- Seventies prime before his lifestyle destroyed it). You could imagine Martyn covering Town To Town, a memorable travelling hangover of a song.

Smith, as his name denotes, is a songwriter with the common touch. As is often the case for songwriters who emerge from the folk scene and then seek to take the middle ground, Smith’s earlier material was the most striking.

Hummingbird was wonderful, as was the encore Winter, played with his guitar on his lap. Many of the newer songs were less memorable. Not all, as Star Crossed Lovers proved, thanks to its more unusual arrangement (and even better on record with Lisa Hannigan guesting). Smith is looking to regain the momentum he was developing pre-pandemic, but his style relies on not trying too hard, and tonight he pulled this off with aplomb.

For performers unaccustomed to this East Yorkshire town, the intensity of the audience’s silence while listening can come as a shock. Smith seemed worried that he’d lost the room by joking about other counties.

He needn’t have fretted, as the near sell-out crowd were quietly but determinedly on his side. With his humorous, wry between-song banter, and hilarious way of dealing with false starts, he took the show firmly in hand and steered it to a successful finale.

Native Harrow: “Would have been worthy headliners in their own right”. Picture: Paul Rhodes

Before all that, Native Harrow played a very welcome opening set. After the musical imagination on display on their 2020 album Closeness, their pared-back set seemed a little spartan. Some of the more standout moments from the record were absent, Smoke Burns and Shake most obviously, so the set didn’t exactly grab you by your lapels.

The husband-and-wife duo of Devin Tuel and Stephen Hams have a more subtle approach, and would have been worthy headliners in their own right.

Tuel has a beautiful voice that she uses to supreme effect. In dress, and perhaps in musical style, Carole King or Judee Sill would be influences, but as she said at the interval, the heart music of Tim Buckley was at play too.

Turn Turn could have sat, broodingly, on Buckley’s Blue Afternoon album. Hams’ fluid bass and elegant guitar work embellished skilfully, all in the service of the song. Their songcraft has grown better and better over their four albums to date and their career also seems on the upswing. Hopefully both acts will return soon.

Review by Paul Rhodes  

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: For Pocklington, 01759 301547 or at For Impossible York shows and brunches, visit

Maggie Fox, York actress and LipService Theatre satirist, RIP. A tribute

Maggie Fox, left, and comedy partner Sue Ryding in Lip Service’s award-winning show Withering Looks

YORK actress Maggie Fox, one half of the long-running satirical comedy duo LipService Theatre, has died after a “catastrophic accident”.

In a statement on the company’s website, co-founder Sue Ryding says: “It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Maggie Fox, my comedy partner of 40 years and co-artistic director of LipService.

“Maggie passed away yesterday with her family around her. Consequently the Spring Tour of Chateau Ghoul has been cancelled. As you can imagine I am completely heartbroken.”

Maggie and Sue met when studying drama at Bristol University in the 1970s. “We were in a very serious production of Ibsen’s The Lady For The Sea but for some reason the audience was on the floor laughing,” recalls Sue.

“A tragedy for Ibsen – he was good at those – but the launch of an epic comedy partnership. Our theatre company LipService was officially launched in 1985 and we have written 22 original comedies, touring all over the world, managing to have children in between!

Maggie Fox, back, and Sue Ryding in LipService Theatre’s Scandi-noir spoof Inspector Norse

“It’s notoriously difficult to present new work in theatre and we are really proud that we managed to do so and to build an audience for it.”

LipService had been touring their latest two-hander, the haunted house thriller Chateau Ghoul, written, produced and performed by Maggie and Sue with a multi-media combination of on-stage live humour and digital projections.

Sue did give one performance with an understudy, but following Maggie’s death, the tour has been discontinued. “Maggie is irreplaceable and so, reluctantly, Sue Ryding and the rest of the company have decided we must cancel the remaining dates of the upcoming tour,” read LipService’s first announcement released to such venues Pocklington Arts Centre, where regular visitors Maggie and Sue had been booked to perform on March 26.

“We appreciate that this will come as a great shock to our wonderful and loyal followers. We would like to thank them for their understanding at this difficult time and for their valued and much cherished support over the years.

Sue’s LipService website statement continues: “We are still all in a state of shock as this was very sudden following an accident. We had planned a new digital version of Chateau Ghoul, which we had already filmed, which will be shared with you later in the year in memory of Maggie, plus some live events using the huge amount of digital footage we thankfully have archived. Details to be published when have a plan.

Maggie Fox, right, and Sue Ryding in their latest show, the haunted house thriller Chateau Ghoul

“Thank you for supporting us over all these years; we are so lucky to have such a loyal audience. We do hope you will join us to celebrate Maggie’s comedy genius later in the year.”

Janet Farmer, director of Pocklington Arts Centre, paid tribute to Maggie. “We have welcomed Maggie and Sue as LipService Theatre for 15-plus years; they have always been hugely popular with many sell-out performances of their wonderful spoof shows based on literary classics.

“I, along with my colleagues, am shocked and devastated to hear the tragic news of Maggie’s death. It is obviously a huge loss to Sue and to Maggie’s family but also to the touring theatre circuit. 

“Maggie and Sue were a unique duo presenting their laugh-out-loud shows. They even continued with on-line versions of their shows during the pandemic. We are very sad not to be presenting their Chateau Ghoul this Saturday.”

Maggie, the very tall one from Yorkshire, and Sue, the rather shorter one from the other side of the Pennines, toured nationally and internationally to the United States, Germany, Eastern Europe and Pakistan.

Maggie Fox, right, and Sue Ryding in LipService Theatre’s Strangers On A Train Set

An inseparable, instinctive, inventive, mischievous, less-is-more, only-us-against-the-odds double act, they presented such savvy, gently anarchic shows as their Bronte Sisters send-up Withering Looks; Strangers On A Train Set; Inspector Norse; Knit One Murder One; The Picture Of Doreen Gray; Mr Darcy Loses The Plot and Desperate To Be Doris (the musical comedy one they did with a 50-piece community choir in York).

Not forgetting Jane Bond, their James Bond satire in Live And Let’s Dye; Very Little Women; Horror For Wimps; Move Over Moriarty, Women On The Verger; King Arthur & The Knights Of The Occasional Table; B-Road Movie!, Tony & Twizzle, The Glory Years, and Margaret III Parts Two and Three, all subjected to their microscope of mirth.

York Theatre Royal was one of multiple collaborators, along with Oldham Coliseum; The Lowry, Salford; The Brindley, Runcorn; The New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Greenwich Theatre, London; Watford Palace and Barclays Stage Partner

Described as the “Laurel & Hardy of literary deconstruction” by the Guardian, “Britain’s favourite literary lunatics” by the Independent and “an unstoppable force for comic inventiveness” by Time Out magazine, Maggie and Sue won the Critics’ Award for Comedy for both Withering Looks and Knot One Murder One at the Edinburgh Fringe; the Manchester Theatre Awards Stage Door Award for Excellence in 2013 and the Manchester Evening News Award for Withering Looks.

LipService duo Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding with Darren Southworth in their Doris Day celebration, Desperate To Be Doris

To complement their mainstream theatre , Maggie and Sue worked with heritage organisations on site-specific events, such as  the Bronte Parsonage Museum, in Haworth; Elizabeth Gaskell’s House; the National Trust at Quarry Bank, Wilmslow, Cheshire; Manchester Histories Festival; European City of Science and Stockport Council.

LipService hosted series on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4, made television appearances and were commissioned by the Bronte Parsonage to film Withering Looks, The Movie!, shot on location at the Brontes’ parsonage and on the wild and windswept moors with Arts Council England funding.

Maggie also appeared in four roles in Coronation Street (Ruth Audsley, Nurse, Judge Travers, Charmian Gray), between 1990 and 2010; six episodes of The Forsyte Saga, as Bilson, in 2002-2003; seven episodes of Soul Music as Ms Butts; Bob The Builder, as the voice of The Librarian and two episodes of How Do You Want Me?, as another Librarian.

In addition, she played Mrs Parke in the 2012 TV movie The Making Of A Lady and popped up in one episode each of Reckless (Woman With Dog), Shameless (Registrar), Accused (Defence Barrister) and South Riding (Matron).

Interviewed by The Press, York, on LipService’s 30th anniversary in February 2015, when presenting their walk on the Wilde side, The Picture Of Doreen Gray at Harrogate Theatre,  Maggie said: “Thirty years! I know, it’s ridiculous really. You just think, ‘could you not think of anything else to do?’.” Thankfully, the answer was always No, and so LipService have delighted so many with their “general silliness”, as Maggie called it.

Maggie Fox, right, and Sue Ryding sending up TV presenters in Tony & Twizzle, The Glory Years

“We were trying to work out the other day how many hours we must have spent on the road, on a train, in a rehearsal room or on stage,” said Maggie, as she reflected on a partnership that had begun in the Bristol University drama department.

“We hadn’t really come across each other until our third year when we both cast in Ibsen’s The Lady From The Sea. At my height, I’m a dead ringer for Vanessa Redgrave, who’d just done the play at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, where she came on dripping in seaweed. So the image I had was of this queen of drama draped in a hell of a lot of green stuff.

“Anyway, Sue was playing my daughter in the university production, and we were just finding it very funny in rehearsal. The more it went on, the funnier we were finding it, but the others weren’t finding it funny and they weren’t finding it funny that we were finding it funny.

“We were doing that ‘looking into the distance’ acting for Ibsen, draped in seaweed, and it was so liberating to have found someone else who found it funny too, especially when no-one else did.”

Maggie and Sue then did the sound effects for another show, a radio play, to distractingly humorous effect as it turned out.

Maggie Fox, right, and Sue Ryding in their online performance of The Ghost Writer during the pandemic lockdowns

“We found the audience was watching us rather than the show. The director wasn’t happy,” said Maggie. “All I can remember is doing the noises for the clattering of teacups in the tea room and drowning out everyone else.”

Maggie had been born into a theatrical family: her father was on the board of York Theatre Royal; her uncle was a mainstay of the York Settlement Community Players.

“I knew I wanted to act; that was what I was going to do, so Sue and I got together and tried to do cabaret, going up to the Edinburgh Fringe, but no women were doing comedy, until Victoria Wood and Julie Walters became the trailblazers, but still the perception was that men were funnier than women,” said Maggie.

Not for long would she and Sue settle for doing “our flopsy bunny act between two aggressive comedians”. Lip Service would change all that, and how.

LipService double act Maggie Fox, the tall one, and Sue Ryding, the rather shorter one, in their Wilde satire, The Picture Of Doreen Gray

From cabaret roots, with a natural bent for impromptu interaction with the audience, the free flow of improvisation and the desire  to “do the impossible”, Maggie and Sue also established the improv company Comedy Express in the 1990s, taking it to the pubs and clubs of Manchester, where Steve Coogan and Caroline Aherne would come along.

“You can play a lot of the same games in improvised comedy but they work and the shows are different every time, and that’s what I want with Lip Service shows,” Maggie said.

“I want them to be different every night or to have elements of surprise because it’s a different audience each night. We like living on the edge.”

Thank you, Maggie. You brought us so much merry mayhem in slickly organised yet deliriously chaotic comedy; now you have been taken away by tragedy, theatre’s other face. God bless you and a fond farewell.

By Charles Hutchinson

Pocklington Arts Centre seeks artists for show to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

One’s Vision: Illustrator Simon Cooper celebrates The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by imagining Her Majesty striking a Freddie Mercury pose with Queen loyal subjects John Deacon, Roger Taylor and Brian May. Copyright: @cooperillo

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has issued a call-out to artists for an open exhibition to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee from May 3 to June 19. 

Artists are asked to submit two-dimensional artworks in person on Friday, April 22 or by prior arrangement by emailing

PAC director Janet Farmer says: “This is a really special moment in our history, so we wanted to present an exhibition that reflects this. Artworks can be inspired by any aspect of Her Majesty’s 70-year reign and the subject matter is open to creative interpretation.

“Our open exhibitions are always really popular with artists and visitors alike, and with so many local talented artists, we’re very much looking forward to unveiling this very special commemorative exhibition.”

Artworks should be framed or on canvas with D rings attached. Selected works will then be featured in this spring’s show in PAC’s studio, where a preview will be held on May 3 from 5pm to 7pm.

Everingham illustrator Simon Cooper has submitted his jubilee artwork already. This comes in the wake of his Art, Illustration & Prints exhibition, held at PAC last November to January, featuring his work for NME, Time Out, the Radio Times and Punch magazines alongside new works.

David Ford charts living through interesting times of Covid’s rise and Trump’s fall as he sallies north to Pocklington Arts Centre

David Ford: Writing songs in interesting times

DAVID Ford’s sixth studio album, May You Live In Interesting Times, is on its way but when?

“I should probably know the date, shouldn’t I?” says the self-styled international songsmith from the Sussex resort of Eastbourne.

“But for me, making the record is the best thing; promoting it is the worst thing. I just want to move on and do something else.”

Nevertheless, promote it he will at Pocklington Arts Centre on Thursday on the Interesting Times Tour. “It’s likely the album could be available on the night,” he says without total conviction (and still no release date on his website).

His lack of certainty is forgivable in such uncertain times, brought on by the pandemic lockdowns that have elicited his “demonstration of just what happens when you shut a creative force in a room for two years”.

David already has an album sitting restlessly on his studio shelves. “I’d recorded what was supposed to be my new album in 2019, a record that I still find incredibly exciting,” he says.

“I made it with a quartet of jazz musicians, whereas usually I just go into my studio and play all the instruments myself, taking months to finish it, but this one I did in a day and a half, and I was like a child in a sweetshop.”

The poster for David Ford’s Interesting Times Tour

The jazz players threw themselves in at the deep end. “They didn’t rehearse. They’d never heard the songs,” says David. “It was all very strange but exhilarating. I just gave them the chord sheet, with an idea for the tempo, and they’d start playing. Then, depending on the tone, they would adapt their playing.

“I didn’t play a note on it. I just sang. Before that, I’d always considered myself an adept musician, but this was like going back to school.”

David will be taking that album on tour with a jazz band in October, so keep an eye out for further announcements.

Putting that still hibernating album to one side, the one-time Easyworld frontman found the experience of being in lockdown “more productive than I’d been in years”.

Out went his tour with Texan-born singer and storyteller Jarrod Dickenson that would have brought the co-headliners to The Crescent in York. Twice kicked down the road, it is now consigned to the “one day, hopefully” drawer.

In came a burst of songwriting at home. “I recorded songs as I went along, and then I decided there was a record there with connected themes about the last two years, and what we’ve been through in various states of lockdown, starting with that order to stay home,” says David.

“There were two large themes of global significance: the rise of Covid and what I hoped would be the end of Trump and the handing over of the presidential baton.

“One of the things I liked about this record: it’s a time capsule,” says David Ford

“So, there are songs about the specifics of lockdown and the specifics of the American Presidential election and then the more general mood of the world.”

Alas, for David, both Covid and Trump are still stubbornly hanging around, but that thought comes only in hindsight. The songs on May You Live In Interesting Times were written on the spur of the moment.

“They’re my thoughts on that time, and that’s one of the things I liked about this record: it’s a time capsule. Like the song Six Feet Apart; which I wrote in March/April 2020 with the line that ‘maybe September, we’ll all get back together’, and yet here we are, two years down the road.

“That thought now seems charmingly naïve when we’re still trying to find a path out of Covid, while ‘learning to live with it’.”

Ford’s scalding lyrics are noted for their dark irony and whiplash wit, but a different tone emerged in the first lockdown, at least initially. “In the early days, I had a strange amount of optimism about what Covid might teach humanity about its connectedness, when we might otherwise seem poles apart,” says David.

“Here was a chance to think about how we treat others politically, internationally, financially; a chance to re-set ourselves for the future.

“But that optimism lasted only two months, with only the already wealthy doing well out of it. My optimism dissipated very quickly, but there are still reasons for optimism in that the pandemic has affirmed faith in humanity’s ability to deal with a crisis. Especially the speed we came up with the vaccine.

Annie Dressner: Special guest on David Ford’s tour

“The triumph of science, though some people don’t seem to be able to get behind that as a good thing, but I think it’s a modern miracle, where people who are really smart essentially have saved millions of lives.”

He wrote a song in response to that medical breakthrough. “It’s called Two Shots, which already shows its age, because we’ve now got the booster!” says David.

He will be playing solo in Pocklington. “I thought I’d strip it down and play in the traditional way, since it’s been a while since I played live, but then I couldn’t resist myself, building machines again [to build a cathedral of sound with looping and effects pedals]!” says David.

“But it’s still essentially a ‘Get Back Out On The Road’  show with the chance to enjoy being in a  room with people again, playing highlights from over the years, rather than just trying to flog the new album.”

He will not be wholly solo. “I’ll be playing a few songs with my support act, my new good friend Annie Dressner [a New York singer-songwriter, now based over here].

“We got on very well at our shows in Otley and Sheffield in January, and we thought, ‘why not record and mix some songs together?’,” says David.

They duly completed six songs in two days in Eastbourne, resulting in the 48 Hours EP being available exclusively on the Interesting Times Tour.

David Ford plays Pocklington Arts Centre, supported by Annie Dressner, on March 10, 8pm. Box office: 01759 301547 or at

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

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

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:

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

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:

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 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 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 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; Pocklington, 01759 301547 or at