REVIEW: Pick Me Up Theatre in Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, until Saturday ****

Adam Price’s George and Natalie Walker’s Dot in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

FRENCH post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat obsessed over every little last detail, making a point of everything.

The same applies to Robert Readman’s production of one of his favourite musical works, Stephen Sondheim and playwright-director James Lapine’s Sunday In The Park With George, a 1984 collaboration inspired by Seurat’s pointillist painting, Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte.

Two years in the making, that 1884-1886 work forms the wraparound artwork for Pick Me Up Theatre’s programme. Unfold it, and you find Sondheim’s lyrics to Finishing The Hat, the most significant song in capturing the artistic temperament and drive of Seurat and Sondheim alike.

Director-designer Readman has given Sunday In The Park With George a traverse setting within the black-box John Cooper Studio. At either end is a blank canvas for projections of such Seurat works as 1884’s Bathers At Asnières, an oil painting of a suburban, placid Parisian riverside on a monumental scale soon to be matched by Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of Grand Jatte.

Libby Greenhill’s Louise, left, Sanna Jeppsson’s Yvonne and Natalie Walker’s Dot in Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

Work-in-progress drawings by Kevin Greenhill (also the production’s photographer) depict Seurat’s sketches and character studies as Adam Price’s George (Seurat) is consumed by his craft of painting: a craft that brought him no monetary reward in a life curtailed by a fatal illness at 31, not one painting having sold before his death.

This is an exquisite directorial touch by Readman, happily and visibly restored to full throttle after “unforeseen circumstances” forced him to call off last autumn’s Halloween double bill of Young Frankenstein and The Worst Witch at the Grand Opera House.

In between the two canvas bookends runs another strip of blank canvas, a walkway or catwalk to be peopled by all the figures in Seurat’s painting coming to life in the imagination of Lapine and Sondheim (much like Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring doing likewise in Tracy Chevalier’s historical fiction novel), as if the writers had eavesdropped on conversations in the park.

Host Readman has his audience seated to either side of the stage at circular tables topped with paper “tablecloths” decorated with dots. We feel like we are in the park too.

Adam Price’s George and Natalie Walker’s Marie in the American Act Two of Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sunday In The Park With George. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

Dots are everywhere. Even Seurat’s long-suffering mistress/lover/muse is called Dot, a made-up name, it would seem, but typical of the wit at work in this fictionalised account of the months leading up to the completion of Seurat’s painting.

In a canny piece of casting, Readman has brought together real-life husband and wife Adam Price and Natalie Walker as his leads. They have performed as a duo and sang together in Pick Me Up’s Dad’s Army but this is the first time they have taken roles together in a musical, and their natural chemistry shines through their performance as the damaged central couple.

Dot wants Seurat to express his love, especially once she is pregnant, but he is drawn only to the canvas, to shining his light on Parisian life, putting her only in the spotlight in the painting.

They sing beautifully, Walker especially in the ballads, Price in expressing his artistic modus operandi, his dot-dot-dot technique being matched at one point by the staccato notes emanating from musical director Matthew Peter Clare’s keyboard.

Pick Me Up Theatre’s cast representing figures in Seurat’s pointillist painting Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

As Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, snubs his fellow artists and neglects his lover, we meet all manner of Parisian folk in the park: an Old lady (Beryl Nairn), who turns out to be his oft-exasperated mother; his cigar-smoking agent Jules (James Willstrop), who behind his back shows no enthusiasm for his work; Yvonne (Sanna Jeppsson), who is even more snobbishly dismissive; and Craig Kirby and Rhian Wells’s befuddled American couple, Mr and Mrs.

Look out too for Mark Simmonds’s haughty, Germanic Franz; Ryan Richardson’s surly Boatman; Neil Foster’s self-righteous Soldier and Alexandra Mather (a late replacement for the indisposed Emma Louise Dickinson) and Nicola Holliday as a pair of anything but angelic Celestes. Tracey Rea’s Frieda, Michael Tattersall’s Louis, Libby Greenhill’s Louise and Logan Willstrop’s Boy cut a dash too.

After the interval, the musical takes a turn for the more personal for Sondheim in a parallel modern story where Price’s Seurat becomes George, a ‘chromolume’ American artist as underappreciated and fractious as Seurat was in his lifetime as Sondheim “explores the reverberations of Seurat’s actions over the next 100 years”.

At the time, Sondheim was increasingly dischuffed by the reaction to his musicals, just as Woody Allen had a fan say “I especially like your early, funny ones” to Allen’s character, film director Sandy Bates, in 1980’s Stardust Memories when weary of critics giving that verdict on his later works.

Nicola Holliday’s Celeste and Neil Foster’s Soldier. Picture: Kevin Greenhill

This is a somewhat overwrought piece of point-scoring by Sondheim amid all the pointillism of Seurat, but archly amusing all the same, adding to the enjoyment of a superb performance by leads and supporting players alike, responding to Readman’s relish for the musical.

Will Nicholson and Adam Coggin’s lighting and sound is top notch, and Matthew Peter Clare’s palpably energetic musical direction brings out the best in his seven-piece band.

Readman’s design skills are always a strong suit, but particularly so here, full of playfulness and artistry, such as in the cut-outs of dogs from Seurat’s painting, later matched by black-and-white full-size cut-outs of George part two in his suit, tie and pumps in the American gallery.

Do please spend Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday in the park with George. You’d be dotty to miss out.

Pick Me Up Theatre in Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York; 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office:

Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte in the Pick Me Up Theatre show poster

Meet the real-life couple playing artist Seurat and his lover Dot in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Sunday In The Park With George

Pick Me Up Theatre’s leading couple for Sunday In The Park With George: Husband and wife Adam Price and Natalie Walker at Moorlands Nature Reserve. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

PICK Me Up Theatre follow up last week’s Sondheim We Remember revue with a swift return to Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, in Sunday In The Park With George.

New York composer Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 collaboration with playwright and director James Lapine follows French post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat (played by Adam Price) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte. 

Consumed by his need to “finish the hat”, the controversial Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists and neglects his long-suffering mistress Dot (Natalie Walker), not realising that his actions will reverberate through the next 100 years. 

Running from April 5 to 13, director and designer Robert Readman’s production also features Alexandra Mather and Nicola Holliday as Celeste, Mark Simmonds as Franz, James Willstrop as Jules, Neil Foster as Soldier, and Sanna Jeppsson as Yvonne, among others.

Pick Me Up Theatre present Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, April 5 to 13, 7.30pm except April 8; 2.30pm, April 6, 7 and 13.

Adam Price and Natalie Walker: the back story

ADAM grew up in Goole, where he has always had a keen interest in history and music.

His father was a gigging musician in a band and, as a result, Adam started playing guitar and singing as a teenager – joining several bands of his own.

He studied history at Lancaster University and Queen Mary’s College, University of London, and has a particular interest in the First World War, regularly visiting the battlefields to research.

He has run several tours of the battlefields as a guide and writes a blog about the servicemen of Goole.

As well as history, he has a keen interest in travel, working as a travel consultant for an independent travel company just outside York.

His interest in musical theatre came much later and he made his debut with Pick Me Up Theatre in My Fair Lady in 2017. He then played Young Buddy in Follies in 2018, followed by Dad’s Army in 2019, and the role of Marlowe in Shakespeare In Love in 2022.

Natalie Walker and musical director Matthew Clare in rehearsals for Sunday In The Park With George

NATALIE has been interested in music from an early age and started to play piano at the age of eight.

She studied music and theatre at Hull University and began working professionally as a musician in 2009. She runs two choirs in Goole, as well as managing Castaway

Goole with Pick Me Up Theatre’s Robert Readman: a charity that provides life- changing opportunities through the arts to adults and young people with disabilities and autism conditions.

Musical theatre has always been a passion, leading to her being the musical director for Pick Me Up’s production of Shakespeare In Love in 2022, using period instruments to support the score.

Since then, she has worked on Pick Me Up’s productions of The Sound Of Music, Oh What A Lovely War and Matilda. She has worked professionally with She Productions in Beverley, Snappy Operas and Middle Child in Hull.

ADAM and Natalie first met in 2009 when he joined a choir that she was accompanying.

They share a great love of music and first came together by singing as an acoustic duo. They still enjoy singing and playing together regularly and were married – after a long Covid delay! – in 2022.

They live in Bainton, near Driffield, after buying a derelict house and renovating it over several years.

“Sunday in the Park has been a lovely opportunity to spend time in the theatre together, being a pretend couple as well as a real one!” they say.

“Rehearsing together has been a genuinely lovely process,” say Adam and Natalie. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

Here CharlesHutchPress interviews husband and wife Adam Price and Natalie Walker about playing painter Georges Seurat and his lover Dot

What attracted you to auditioning for the role of artist Georges Seurat, Adam?

“Seurat is such a fascinating character to explore. In some respects, he can be seen as a very simple character who is solely driven by his work to the exclusion of all others.

“Yet there are so many moments in the show when we see the conflict that is constantly playing out within him, how he struggles to manage his relationships with people around him, and even how he processes the criticism of his work and questions his vision.

“He is a character who struggles to connect with those closest to him and it is the challenge of communicating that struggle to an audience that attracted me to the role.”

What sparked your desire to perform in musical theatre, on top of your interest in history, the First World War, battlefield tours and travel?

“I grew up in a musical family and always enjoyed singing and playing music. I was first introduced to musicals through my grandad. He used to perform in dance bands and was always listening to jazz standards, including Gershwin and Cole Porter. “Later in life, I started watching the shows instead of just listening to the songs in isolation and it opened up a whole new world for me.

“My musical theatre knowledge was very limited and it was Natalie who really introduced me to the whole variety of the genre, including Sondheim, as well as singing show tunes in The Warblers.

“I always enjoyed singing but was not sure about the acting side of things until I did a theatre workshop a few years ago with Andy Reiss, who had directed the touring production of Les Miserables.

“I really enjoyed the whole experience and thought I would give performing a go. Performing in musicals is so much fun and rewarding and is a great way of giving you self-confidence.

“What I especially enjoy about performing is that it gives you the opportunity to step out of yourself and inhabit a completely different character for a time, getting under the skin of a character, finding out what motivates them, how they see the world; it can be revealing and rewarding.

What do you most enjoy about performing for Pick Me Up Theatre?

“York has a really rich amateur theatre scene, so it was natural to look to York when I was thinking about joining a company and Pick Me Up has such a good reputation for the quality of their shows.

“They were auditioning for My Fair Lady at the time, which was special for me as it was the first musical that I watched and enjoyed, so I gave it a go. I was very lucky because it was such a great cast, and I learned a lot; everyone was so welcoming and worked so hard to get the best out of their performance that I knew I had found a home there.

“Coming to amateur theatre later in life, I’d always been inhibited by the reputation it is has for being cliquey, but I’ve never experienced that in any shows I’ve done or when working with Pick Me Up.

“Robert is always willing to give people a chance, and if he thinks you’re right for a role then that is that. He always assembles a dedicated and talented cast and crew and always has a clear vision for what he wants to achieve.”

“We’ve had the benefit of being able to run lines and work on songs at home, so it’s been really nice to be fully immersed in the show as much as possible,” say Adam and Natalie. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

What are the characteristics of Sondheim’s composing skills that you most admire?

“Sondheim is a craftsman, pure and simple. Nothing is by chance and even the most seemingly frivolous throwaway musical phrases or lyrics have been carefully considered and backed up with an unrivalled ability and knowledge of his art, coupled with a deep psychological understanding of the human condition.

“What I love in particular is the relationship between the music and lyrics; they work together rather than one simply being laid on top of the other, as you often get with other composers. Ultimately, he was respectful of his audience and always wanted to give them the best of himself.”

Has growing up in Goole had an impact on you?

“I think we are all affected by where we grew up. Goole has had its share of problems, but its people are friendly, caring, decent and down to earth. No matter where else I’ve ended up in my life, growing up in a community like that, you realise that qualities like that are the most important.”

What would be your perfect Sunday in the park? Spent where? With whom? Food? Drink?

“I aspire to be a real epicurean so there is nothing I would like more than spending Sunday in a park with friends, talking about everything: life, art, music, philosophy.  Laughter and conversation are the best music in life. I honestly wouldn’t need anything else.”

With all that travelling nous, do you have a favourite park you have visited, one you would recommend visiting, and one you most want to visit that you are yet to do so?

“That is a tough question. I will always have a soft spot for Regent’s Park, as that was my local park when I was living in London, and living in a big city, it was the place I could go for a bit of greenery.

“For people watching, the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris is wonderful and Central Park is an incredible place to just wander around and get lost in. Ultimately though, I don’t think you have to journey a long way; everyone should take time out to visit their local park every now and then. It’s always a good opportunity to get out and take a break, as well as a place to connect with your local community.”

Do you have a favourite hat? If so, why that one?

“I’ve always been a big fan of bobble hats. I have a bobble hat that I’ve had for about 14 years that is nice and warm, but it is also incredibly comfortable, so I tend to wear it all year round, not just in winter.”

Pick Me Up Theatre’s poster for Sondheim We Remember and Sunday In The P:ark With George

What attracted you to auditioning for the role of Dot, Natalie?

“Dot is a character that truly goes on a journey in this show. She can be feisty and fiery but at the heart of it just wants to be seen and loved. The role is a real challenge as, ironically, she’s not two-dimensional at all. I think that is what attracted me most to her character as there’s so much depth to be found.

Her relationship with George is also incredibly interesting to try and get right. Both need to be likeable enough that an audience will root for them, but also damaged enough that their relationship could never be conventional.

“The interesting thing for me is that Dot is the character who truly changes throughout the show, against the rigidity of George and his unwillingness to look away from his painting and truly look at her.”

When were you last on stage in a show, rather than taking the musical director’s role?

“I’ve been on stage singing/playing a fair amount, including performing as one of the on-stage singers in Dad’s Army in 2018, but actually doing a show with any sort of narrative or characters, I would take a guess that it’s been about ten years!

“I think the closest I’ve come is being on-stage musical director for two productions of Beverley Does Broadway with She Productions at East Riding Theatre in 2022 and 2023.

“There was a bit of acting and a couple of lines to learn, but I was very much playing a version of myself for those shows, so it’s quite a big switch for me to be on the stage in character rather than under/behind it!

“Performing in Sunday In The Park With George is a great opportunity to tread the boards again, after spending many hours in the pit!”

What first attracted you to work with Pick Me Up Theatre?

“I’ve always admired Pick Me Up for the high quality of the shows that they produce. The talent in the York area is astounding, and the vision for each show is always executed so beautifully. It was actually Adam that first worked with Pick Me Up after auditioning for My Fair Lady in 2017, and after seeing a few performances I couldn’t resist throwing my hat into the ring.

“Having been an audience member for several of their shows, I think the real joy is seeing that there is absolutely nothing amateur about the productions and everyone involved works so hard to make the best show possible.

Sanna Jeppsson’s Yvonne poses against the backdrop of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte

“I first started working with Pick Me Up as a singer in Dad’s Army but then went on to musically direct Shakespeare In Love (with full period costume and instruments!)

“I also think their choice of shows is really inspired, with genuinely out-of-the-box choices, rather than just the standard crowd pleasers in the amateur scene!”

What are the characteristics of Sondheim’s composing skills that you most admire?

“The thing that I love about Sondheim is that nothing is ever an accident. Every note has been placed very specifically for a reason, whether it’s a note for every magic bean in the Into The Woods theme, or the placement of a blob of paint in Sunday [In The Park With George].

“The same is true of Sondheim as a lyricist: every word has value and nothing is ever thrown away for the sake of a rhyme or rhythm. Everything about Sondheim’s work is truly crafted, and it makes it such a delight to delve into, as there are constantly new things to discover on each reading.”

What was the most important lesson you learnt for performing in your studies at Hull University?

“I think people often think that being successful in music or theatre means that you have to be some sort of diva or have a massive ego. During my degree, I actually found, quite reassuringly, that the opposite was the case. The ability to be supportive of other people and work well together, either as a cast or as a band makes not only a more pleasant experience, but also creates the best work.

“As boring as it sounds, I think just learning to work hard is a big part of it – there is no glory in being lazy and expecting everyone else around you to make allowances!”

Which choirs do you run in Goole? Where do they perform and how often?

“I run two choirs known as the Warblers – one sings pop music; the other sings show tunes. The choirs have been running since 2009 and have around 90 members. They’ve developed a really great reputation in Goole thanks to their twice-yearly concerts at Junction, often performing with other musicians – recently including West End performers, brass bands and stars of English National Opera.

They were also part of the Song For Us project over lockdown where they premiered a new piece by Goole-born composer Gavin Bryars virtually. The choirs are now going through some changes as, until 2023, it was a joint venture between myself and a colleague, who has now retired.

“This presented an exciting opportunity for me to continue the hard work of the last 15 years! We’re hoping to go from strength to strength and are working towards our next concert in July.”

Neil Foster’s Soldier and Mark Simmonds’s Franz blend into Georges Seurat’s painting

What does running Castaway Goole with Robert Readman involve?

“Castaway is a wonderful charity that provides life-changing opportunities through the arts to adults and young people with learning and physical disabilities, mental health difficulties and autism conditions.

“They provide weekly classes in music, singing, drama, art, craft, dance and musical theatre to approximately 50 members who may not be able to access these opportunities elsewhere.

“Castaway is actually where Robert and I met, when I was asked to play piano for their production of Just So in 2017. Since then, we’ve worked together on four full-scale musicals and a film version of David Copperfield, after the stage production was cancelled due to Covid.

“After the retirement of the charity’s founder in 2022, Robert and I were given the role of general manager and now oversee the running of the whole charity. Every day is completely different but incredibly rewarding in its own way!

“We stage a full-scale musical once a year, as well as co-ordinating staff in running the other classes throughout the week.

“I also run the Castaway Sing community choir, who perform regularly in the area at various events. We always say that we get far more back from the members than we could ever put in – it really is such a rewarding place to work, and the achievements of the members are absolutely huge.

“Robert often jokes that we’re ‘work husband and wife’ because we always seem to know what the other one is thinking, so it’s made for a very interesting process being directed as part of the on-stage cast, rather than working alongside one another!”

What have been the highlights of your career as a professional musician?

“It’s so difficult to pinpoint anything in particular as I genuinely love every job that I do. I wanted to be a professional musician from a young age but it’s such an uncertain field that I never 100 per cent believed that it would happen, particularly combined with my love of theatre.

“As soon as I started to work as an accompanist and musical director, I knew it was the job I wanted to do forever! The highlights for me are always those that involve making work with people who you really gel with and with whom you share a mutual respect.

“I’ve worked with a few theatre companies in the past couple of years where this has been the case, but none more-so than She Productions in Beverley, so I think working with them would be my highlight so far!”

What would be your perfect Sunday in the park? Spent where? With whom? Food? Drink?

“My perfect Sunday in the park would involve English springtime, music, friends, family and lots of food! I can’t think of anything better than a sunny day spent with the people I love most, and tons of homemade cake!

“I don’t actually drink but unlimited tea and coffee is the absolute dream. Peace and tranquillity is great, but I would also never say no to some sporting activity – you can’t beat a good game of rounders (as long as it’s followed by more cake!)

Do you have a favourite hat? If so, why that one?

“I’m not really much of a hat wearer! But there is something about the comfort of a woolly hat in winter that can’t be beaten – and if it’s got a bobble on top, all the better!”

Adam Price and Natalie Walker: “Sunday In The Park has been a lovely opportunity to spend time in the theatre together, being a pretend couple as well as a real one!” Picture: Matthew Kitchen

Joint questions for Adam and Natalie

Where did you marry?

“At St Michael’s Church in Eastrington, Natalie’s childhood village church, where she still plays organ for Sunday services. Natalie comes from a farming family, so we held the reception in her parents’ barn. Her parents are both incredibly creative and they made it look absolutely stunning – it was a dream come true!”

Have you performed in a musical together previously?

“We both performed as singers in Pick Me Up Theatre’s production of Dad’s Army in 2018. Aside from that, Adam performed in Oh What A Lovely War, for which Natalie was musical director, but that’s as close as we’ve got until now!”

How have you found the experience of rehearsing together?

“It’s been a genuinely lovely process, as usually one or the other of us is heading off to a rehearsal somewhere without the other one, so it’s been great to share the experience.

“We’ve also had the added benefit of being able to run lines and work on songs at home, so it’s been really nice to be fully immersed in the show as much as possible.

“Sometimes you do wonder if it’s going to affect your relationship if you constantly have to play tension between each other, but we’ve been pretty good at leaving the tension in the rehearsal room and going back to talking about what we’re having for dinner!”

How is the house renovation going?

“After buying a derelict house the week before the first national lockdown, it’s been a rather lengthy process but we now have a finished home that we absolutely love, and we’re just waiting on some nice weather to make the garden slightly less reminiscent of a swamp!”

Putting themselves in the picture: Sunday In The Park With George cast members James Willstrop (as Jules), left, Neil Foster (Soldier), Natalie Walker (Dot) and Sanna Jeppsson (Yvonne), front, pose with Georges Seurat’s painting

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond Easter. Magical thoughts in Hutch’s List No 8, from the Gazette & Herald

Four sigils or “spell tokens” from the Believe It Or Not? exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole. Picture: Olivia Brabbs

MAGICAL thinking and life 11,000 years ago, Shakespeare mischief making and nightclub trouble-spotters, a comedian’s needs and a painterly musical outweigh the delights of chocolate at Easter for Charles Hutchinson.

Ryedale exhibition launch of the week: Believe It Or Not?, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole, until November 17, from 10am daily except Fridays

RYEDALE Folk Museum’s new exhibition turns the spotlight on folk beliefs through a selection of more than 200 objects. Believe It Or Not?’ explores the traditions and rituals of our ancestors, pondering whether whether we are still “magical thinkers” today.

Featuring heavily are stories of those accused of witchcraft, represented through their own objects, such as a crystal ball passed down by those seeking to foretell the future and four sigils or “spell tokens”, likely created as a form of “love magic” by a magical practitioner or service magician. Tickets:

Curators Andrew Woods, left, Adam Parker and Emily North with Mesolithic remains of a wooden platform and materials used for fire-making in the Yorkshire Museum’s Star Carr exhibition. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

York exhibition opening of the week: Star Carr: Life After The Ice, Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, York; open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm

EXCAVATED in the Vale of Pickering, the Star Carr archaeological site provides the first evidence in Britain of the beginnings of home, a place where people settled and built places to live.

The Yorkshire Museum’s interactive exhibition brings together artefacts from “the Mesolithic equivalent of Stonehenge” to give an insight into human life 11,000 years ago, a few hundred years after the last Ice Age. On display are objects from the Yorkshire Museum collection, from antler headdresses and a decorated stone pendant to the world’s oldest complete hunting bow and the earliest evidence of carpentry from Europe. To book tickets, go to:

Hoglets Theatre’s Gemma Curry, left, Claire Morley and Becky Lennon in A Midsummer Night’s Mischief, visiting Helmsley Arts Centre on Saturday

Children’s show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Mischief, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 2.30pm

THE forest fairies are starting a fight, but which side are you on? Team Titania or Team Oberon? York company Hoglets Theatre presents founder Gemma Curry’s interactive, fun and larger-than-life show for children aged five to 11 based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Expect wild characters, raucous singalong songs, puppets, stunts and some frankly ridiculous disco dancing in the company of Curry, Claire Morley and Becky Lennon. At 3.30pm, Gemma will be running a children’s workshop, showing how to make a paper boogie-woogie puppet of Shakespeare’s donkey-headed character Bottom. Box office: 01439 771700 or

Jessica Fostekew: On her Mettle at Pocklington Arts Centre

Comedy gig of the week: Jessica Fostekew, Mettle, Pocklington Arts Centre, April 4, 8pm

IN her new stand-up show of passion, pace and purpose, Jessica Fostekew’s son has joined a cult and her cat has learnt to talk. Nevertheless, she feels fine. In fact she is hurtling faster and hustling harder than ever for the things that she wants and needs.

Fostekew appeared in the sitcom Motherland and Sundance Festival Grand Jury prize-winning film Scrapper and is a regular co-host of The Guilty Feminist podcast, host and creator of her own podcast about eating, Hoovering, and the star and writer of BBC Radio 4’s Sturdy Girl Club. Box office: 01759 301547 or

The four doormen of the apocalypse: John Godber Company in Bouncers, on tour at York Theatre Royal

York play of the week: John Godber Company in Bouncers, York Theatre Royal, April 5, 7.30pm; April  6, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

MEET Lucky Eric, Judd, Les and Ralph, the original men in black, as they tell the torrid tale of one Eighties’ night in a Yorkshire disco in John Godber’s northern parody of Saturday Night Fever. All the gang are out on the town, the lads, the lasses, the cheesy DJ, the late-night kebab man, and the taxi home, all under the watchful eyes of the Bouncers (Nick Figgis, George Reid, Frazer Hammill and newcomer Tom Whittaker).

“We’re delighted to be taking Bouncers back to the heyday of disco and the 1980s,” says Goober. “Looking back, there was so much wrong with the decade but also so much to celebrate; this new production dances a balance between what was great and what is cringe-worthy now!” Box office: 01904 623568 or

Putting themselves in the picture: Pick Me Up Theatre cast members James Willstrop (as Jules), left, Neil Foster (as Soldier), Natalie Walker (as Dot) amd Sanna Jeppsson (as Yvonne), front, set the scene for Sunday In The Park With George

York musical of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Sunday In The Park With George, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, April 5 to 13, 7.30pm except April 8; 2.30pm, April 6, 7 and 13

STEPHEN Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical follows painter Georges Seurat (played by Adam Price) in the months leading up to the completion of his most fanous painting, A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte. 

Consumed by his need to “finish the hat”, Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists and neglects his lover Dot (Natalie Walker), not realising that his actions will reverberate through the next 100 years. Box office:

The Moondogs: Paying tribute to Fifties and Sixties favourites at Milton Rooms, Malton

Tribute show of the Easter break: The Moondogs, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 6, 8pm

PREPARE to be transported back in time to the late-1950s and Swinging Sixties as The Moondogs bring their raw energy to the hits of Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard, The Searchers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and more. Box office: 01653 696240 or

Fairground Attraction: Mark Nevin, left, Roy Dodds, Eddi Reader and Simon Edwards reunite after 35 years for a York-bound tour and new album

Gig announcement of the week: Fairground Attraction, York Barbican, October 1

AFTER an absence of 35 years, all four original members of short-lived late-Eighties’ band Fairground Attraction are reuniting for a 14-date British tour and an as-yet-untitled new studio album, preceded by first single What’s Wrong With The World?, out now.

Best known for their chart-topping debut, Perfect, winner of the Best Single prize at the 1988 Brit Awards, Fairground Attraction return with their country-pop line-up of singer Eddi Reader, guitarist Mark Nevin, guitarrón bassist Simon Edwards and drummer Roy Dodds. Tickets go on sale on Friday at 10am at

Pick Me Up Theatre to perform Stephen Sondheim shows at the double at Theatre@41, Monkgate in March and April

Sam Hird: Singing Sondheim with Pick Me Up Theatre

ROYAL College of Music student Sam Hird returns home to York to join his father Mark Hird in the Pick Me Up Theatre company for Sondheim We Remember at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, from March 27 to 30.

Taking part too in this celebration of New York composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will be director Helen ‘Bells’ Spencer, Susannah Baines, Emma Louise Dickinson, Alexandra Mather, Florence Poskitt, Andrew Roberts, Catherine Foster, Nick Sephton and Matthew Warry.

Planned originally for 2020 before Covid intervened – and Sondheim’s death on November 26 2021 at the age of 91 – Pick Me Up’s show features music from his Broadway shows, film scores and TV specials. Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale at

Pick Me Up Theatre’s company of singers for Sondheim We Remember

Pick Me Up will make a swift return to Theatre@41 with a second Sondheim show, his 1984 musical collaboration with playwright and director James Lapine, Sunday In The Park With George, from April 5 to 13.

Inspired by Georges Seurat’s pointillist painting Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte, the musical follows Seurat (played by Adam Price) in the months leading up to the completion of that famous work.

Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists and neglects his lover Dot (Natalie Walker), not realising that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years.

Performances will start at 7.30pm on April 5, 6 and 9 to 13, plus 2.30pm on April 6, 7 and 13. Box office:

Picture pose: Pick Me Up Theatre’s Emma-Louise Dickinson, as Celeste, adds to the scene in Georges Seurat’s painting Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte, the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Sunday In The Park With George