THE Gruffalo’s Child will be on an adventurous mission at York Theatre Royal from February 1 to 3 in in Tall Stories’ enchanting adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.
One wild and windy night, the Gruffalo’s Child ignores her father’s warnings about the Big Bad Mouse and tiptoes out into the deep dark wood, where she will follow snowy tracks and encounter mysterious creatures.
But the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist…or does he? “Let your imagination run wild with songs, laughs and scary fun for everyone aged 3 to 103,” reads the invitation from director Olivia Jacobs, co-founder of Islington company Tall Stories, whose cast comprises Harriet Waters, Maxwell Tyler, Samuel Tracy and understudy Pip Simpson.
After seeing her book brought to life on stage, writer Julia Donaldson said: “Tall Stories bring their own special magic to their stage productions based on my books. Children will love entering the atmosphere of the deep dark wood and enjoy the catchy songs. The Big Bad Mouse is worth waiting for.” Ah, too late for a spoiler alert!
Illustrator Axel Scheffler enjoyed the show, saying afterwards: “The snowy deep dark wood based on my illustrations is brought to life by Tall Stories and it almost becomes a character in its own right in their production. A favourite moment for me is when the Gruffalo’s Child sits on the Gruffalo’s lap and the book cover image is created on the stage. I think the young audience will enjoy it very much.”
Tall Stories in The Gruffalo’s Child, York Theatre Royal, February 1, 1.30pm and 4.30pm; February 2, 1pm (relaxed performance) and 4.30pm; February 3, 10.30am and 1.30pm. Running time: 60 minutes. Age guidance: 3+. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
IGGETY Ziggety Zaggety Zoom, Tall Stories’ stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book Room On The Broom flies into York Theatre Royal today.
Directed by Olivia Jacobs, this enchanting Olivier Award-nominated production for everyone aged three and upwards is on an autumn tour after a West End summer run at the Lyric Theatre.
Jump on board the broom with the witch and her cat in this fun-filled magical musical adaptation at 1.30pm and 4.30pm today, then 10.30am and 1.30pm tomorrow.
On their travels, they pick up some hitch-hikers – a friendly dog, a beautiful green bird and a frantic frog – but alas this broomstick is not designed for five. Crack! It snaps in two just as the hungry dragon appears. Will there ever be room on the broom for everyone?
Combining puppetry, singalong songs, humour and fun, Room On The Broom’s magical introduction to theatre for young children features a cast of Jessica Manu as Witch; Hannah Miller, Cat; Peter Steele, Dog and Frog and Jake Waring, Bird and Dragon. Jayant Singh is the understudy.
Tall Stories have toured adaptations of Donaldson-Scheffler stories The Gruffalo, The Smeds And The Smoos, The Snail And The Whale and The Gruffalo’s Child, as well as this revival of Room On The Broom. “After a difficult time for touring theatre companies, this story of pulling together in times of adversity feels very apt,” says director and company co-founder Olivia Jacobs.
“We’re looking forward to bringing a sprinkling of magic to families this autumn with this funny, fast-paced, high-energy show. Come and join us – there’s plenty of room on the broom!”
Toby Mitchell, Tall Stories’ artistic director and co-founder, says: “We’ve produced 31 shows in our 25 years of existence, including five adaptations of much-loved books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, alongside many smaller-scale shows.
“We first brought Room On The Broom to the stage in 2008 and since then it’s toured nationally and beyond, including France, Germany, the United States, Australia and the Far East.
“We were delighted that the show was nominated for an Olivier Award [for Best Family and Entertainment production] in 2013, and we’re particularly excited about bringing some magical spells, catchy songs and lots of laughter to family audiences this autumn, following the uncertainty of the last couple of years. We can’t wait to see all those smiling faces.”
Room On The Broom has toured the UK and Ireland extensively, as well as numerous international tours to Australia (including Sydney Opera House), Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Poland. The show has been translated into German, touring regularly with Junges Theater, Bonn. A soundtrack of the show’s songs is on sale at tallstories.org.uk
Jacobs is joined in the production team by designer Morgan Large, puppet designer Yvonne Stone, lighting designer James Whiteside, choreographer Morag Cross and composers Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw.
Tickets for today and tomorrow’s performances cost £15 on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/room-on-the-broom/.
FOOD for thought from Charles Hutchinson as he contemplates what’s on the menu for autumn days and nights out.
Festival of the week: York Food and Drink Festival, Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, York, packed with flavour until October 2
IN its 26th year, York Food and Drink Festival offers demonstrations and hands-on participation, taste trails and wine tastings, markets and street food, with two marquees and live music until 9pm.
Look out for the free Food Factory cookery classes in the Museum Gardens and the Coppergate Centre; trails through the doors of artisan food producers, delicatessens and restaurants; Bedern Hall crowning York’s finest pork pie at its York Pork Pie competition and York Mansion House hosting a week-long tea exhibition and tasting. Head to yorkfoodfestival.com/programme for the full five-course details.
For the love of Nina Simone: Apphia Campbell in Black Is The Colour Of My Voice, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm
INSPIRED by the life of Nina Simone, writer, director and performer Apphia Campbell’s play follows a successful jazz singer and civil rights activist as she seeks redemption after the untimely death of her father.
Complemented by many of Simone’s most iconic songs sung live, she reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy, destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
Musical of the week: Rock Of Ages, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Saturday matinee
CAMERON Sharp returns to the rock demi-god role of Stacee Jaxx on the latest tour on Rock Of Ages after earlier appearances in the West End and on the road. He joins Coronation Street legend Kevin Kennedy, playing ornery Bourbon Room owner Dennis Dupree once more in this tongue-in-cheek musical comedy kitted out with classic rock anthems galore, from The Final Countdown to We Built This City, all played loud and proud.
The storyline invites you to “leave it all behind and lose yourself in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair, and yes, they can come true.” Box office:0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/york.
History meets mystery: An Evening With Lucy Worsley On Agatha Christie, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 7.30pm
THE Queen of History will investigate the Queen of Crime in an illustrated talk that delves into the life of such an elusive, enigmatic 20th century figure.
Why did Agatha Christie spend her career pretending that she was just an ordinary housewife, a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure, when clearly she wasn’t? Agatha went surfing in Hawaii, loved fast cars and was intrigued by psychology, the new science that helped her through mental illness.
Sharing her research of the storyteller’s personal letters and papers, writer, broadcaster, speaker and Historic Royal Palaces chief curator Lucy Worsley will uncover the real, revolutionary, thoroughly modern Christie. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Golden celebrations of the week: Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited – Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm; Don McLean, 50th Anniversary of American Pie, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
GUITARIST Steve Hackett, 72, revisits Genesis’s landmark 1972 prog rock album Foxtrot, the one with the 23-minute Supper’s Ready, preceded by an hour of highlights from his six years in the band and his solo career.
New Rochelle troubadour Don McLean, 76, marks the 50th anniversary of his 1971 album American Pie and its 1972 top two single, the poetic 8 minute 36 sec title track, a double A-side that had to be split over two sides of the vinyl with its mysterious, mystical tale of lost innocence “the day the music died”. Expect Vincent, Castles In The Air and And I Love You So too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Comedy gig of the week, Katherine Ryan, Missus, York Barbican, Thursday, 8pm
AFTER previously denouncing partnerships, Canadian-born comedian, writer, presenter, podcaster and actress Ryan has since married her first love…accidentally.
“A lot has changed for everyone,” says the creator and star of Netflix series The Duchess and host of BBC Two’s jewellery-making competition All That Glitters, who looks forward to discussing her new perspectives on life, love and what it means to be Missus. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Children’s show of the week: Tall Stories Theatre Company in Room On The Broom, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 1.30pm and 4.30pm; Wednesday, 10.30am and 1.30pm
IGGETY Ziggety Zaggety Boom! Jump on board the broom with the witch and her cat in Tall Stories’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.
When they pick up some hitch-hikers – a friendly dog, a beautiful green bird and a frantic frog – alas the broomstick is not meant for five. Crack, it snaps in two just as the hungry dragon appears.
Will there ever be room on the broom for everyone? Find out in this 60-minute, magical, Olivier Award-nominated show for everyone aged three upwards. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Irish craic of the week: One Night In Dublin, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Thursday, 7.30pm
IRISH tribute band The Wild Murphys roll out the Irish classics, Galway Girl, Tell Me Ma, Dirty Old Town, The Irish Rover, Brown Eyed Girl, Seven Drunken Nights, Whiskey In The Jar, Wild Rover and Molly Malone.
Kick back in Murphy’s Pub, sing along and imagine being back in Temple Bar as Middi and his band roar into York. “Ah, go on, go on, go on!” they say. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
2-4-6-8, don’t be late: Tom Robinson Band and TV Smith (solo), The Crescent, York, Friday, 7.30pm
PUNK veteran, LGBTQ rights activist and BBC 6 Music presenter Tom Robinson returns to The Crescent with his band to reactivate 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay, Up Against The Wall, The Winter Of ’79 and the cream of his early albums, 1978’s Power In The Darkness, 1979’s TRB Two, and beyond, maybe War Baby.
Support comes from TV Smith, once part of Seventies’ punks The Adverts, of Gary Gilmore’s Eyes notoriety. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
YORK attracts 8.4 million visitors, but this weekend you are invited to be a tourist in your own city, as Charles Hutchinson highlights.
Festival of the week: York Residents’ Festival, today and tomorrow
MORE than 70 events, attractions and offers make up this weekend’s York Residents’ Festival, with the offers continuing all week.
Organised by Make It York, this annual festival invites all York residents with a valid YorkCard to “explore the city and be a tourist for the weekend”, one card per person.
Pre-booking is required for some highlights of a festival that takes in museums, theatres, galleries, churches, hidden gems, historic buildings, food and drink and shops. For more details, visit: visityork.org/residents-festival.
Children’s show of the week: The Smeds And The Smoos, York Theatre Royal, today, 2.30pm and 4.30pm; tomorrow, 10.30am and 1.30pm
SOAR into space with Tall Stories’ exciting new stage adaptation of writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s joyful tale of star-crossed aliens.
On a far-off planet, Smeds and Smoos cannot be friends. Nevertheless, when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love, they promptly zoom off into space together.
How will their families get them back? Find out in an interplanetary adventure for everyone aged three upwards, full of music and laughter, from the company that delivered The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom on stage. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be; it’s better in: Eric & Ern, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm
IAN Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens bring you sunshine in their uncanny portrayal of comedy duo Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in a show that has been touring for more than five years.
Combining renditions of famous comedy sketches with contemporary references, Eric & Ern contains some of the first new writing in the Morecambe & Wise style in more than in 30 years. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Exhibition of the week outside York: Peter Schoenecker, A New Way Of Looking, Pocklington Arts Centre, until February 19
PETER Schoenecker’s mixed-media artworks open Pocklington Arts Centre’s 2022 season of exhibitions in the studio.
On show are watercolours, acrylics and lino prints by the Pocklington artist, a former graphic designer, who is inspired by the landscape and seascape textures and lighting in and around his Yorkshire home.
“My aim is usually to create a mood or atmosphere using colour or black and white,” he says. “Switching between media keeps me interested and innovative, hopefully bringing a freshness to the work.”
Gig of the week outside York: Echo & The Bunnymen, Leeds O2 Academy, Wednesday, doors, 7pm
AHEAD of the February 18 vinyl reissue of their 1985 compilation Songs To Learn & Sing, Liverpool legends Echo & The Bunnymen play plenty of those songs and more besides in Leeds (and at Sheffield City Hall the night before).
Available for the first time since that initial release, the “Best Of” cherry picks from their first four albums with the single Bring On The Dancing Horses as the icing on top. On tour, vocalist Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant will be leading a band now in their 44th year, still too cool to be called a heritage act. Box office: gigsandtours.com/tour/echo-and-the-bunnymen.
Family show of the week: Birmingham Stage Company in Gangsta Granny, Grand Opera House, York, February 3 to 5, 2.30pm and 7pm; February 6, 11am and 3pm
IN David Walliams’s tale, Friday night means only one thing for 11-year-old Ben: staying with Granny, where he must put up with cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake.
Ben knows one thing for sure – it will be so, so boring – but what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret. Soon Friday nights will be more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny, in Neal Foster’s touring production, back in York next week for the first time since 2016. Suitable for age five upwards. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.
Compact Sheds: Rick Witter and Paul Banks, Scarborough Spa Theatre, April 17, 7.30pm
SHED Seven shed three when frontman Rick Witter and lead guitarist Paul Banks “go where no Shed has gone before” to play Scarborough over the Easter weekend.
Mr H Presents promoter Tim Hornsby says: “Expect a special night of classic Shed Seven material and a few surprises”.
“You already know this whites-of-their-eyes show is going to sell out, so don’t get bothered with the regular unholy last-minute scramble for tickets and purchase early for a holler-along to some of the best anthems ever,” he advises. Box office: scarboroughspa.co.uk.
Looking ahead to the summer: 2022 York Mystery Plays, York city centre, June 19 and 26
HERE come the wagons, rolling through York streets on two June weekends, as the Guilds of York maintain their four-yearly cycle of York Mystery Plays set in motion in 1998.
As in 2018, Tom Straszewski is the artistic director for a community production involving nearly 600 people creating hours of drama, performed for free, on eight wagons at four locations, including St Sampson’s Square, St Helen’s Square and King’s Manor.
“The plays will cover the creation of the world, floods, last meals together and resurrections,” says Strasz. “We’re still seeking directors, performance groups and actors, who should email email@example.com to apply.”
LOOKING to have a whale of a time? Here is Charles Hutchinson’s latest guide to what’s on and what’s coming up, featuring a snail, a whale, a hare, a York king and much more besides.
Anything Could Happen show of the week: The Showstoppers in Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, York Theatre Royal and livestream, June 30, 7.30pm
DIRECT from the West End, The Showstoppers’ Olivier Award-winning blend of comedy, musical theatre and spontaneity heads to York Theatre Royal for one night only.
A new musical comedy will be created from scratch as audience suggestions are transformed into an all-singing, all-dancing production packed with drama, dazzling dance routines and contagious melodies, everything being made up on the spot.
“Whether you fancy Hamiltonin a hospital or Sondheim in the Sahara, you suggest it and we’ll sing it,” say the Showstoppers, whose show will be livestreamed too, with more details in how to tune in at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/showstopper-the-improvised-musical-livestream.
Family show of the week: Badapple Theatre Company in Tales From The Great Wood, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, July 2, 7.30pm; July 3, 11am, 2.30pm and 7pm.
LISTEN! Can you hear the whispering in the trees? The wood is full of stories in Tales From The Wood, written and directed by Kate Bramley, artistic director of Green Hammerton company Badapple.
York actor Richard Kay, Danny Mellor and a host of puppets present an interactive storytelling eco-adventure for ages five to 95, set on a hot summer’s day, when, instead of resting, Hetty the hare is investigating because someone is missing.
As she unravels a tall tale that stretches across The Great Wood, Hetty realises how every creature, no matter how small, can have a huge part to play in the world of the forest. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Children’s show of the week: Tall Stories in The Snail And The Whale, York Theatre Royal, July 2, 2.30pm and 4.30pm; July 3, 10.30am and 1.30pm
TALL Stories invite you to join an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father as they reimagine the story of a globe-trotting tiny snail, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.
In this heart-warming play full of music, storytelling and laughter, the sea snail hitches a lift on the tail of a grey-blue humpback whale to head off an amazing journey around the world, but when the whale becomes beached, how will the snail save him? Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Folk event of the week ahead: Gary Stewart’s Folk Club, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 3, 7.30pm to 10pm
“IT will be a very special, one-off, folk club: part folk night, part headline gig, with an eclectic mix of acts and then me doing a set,” says Easingwold singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gary Stewart.
Hosted by Gary, people in attendance will be given the chance to play and perform, whether music, stories, songs or poems. “If you want to share something, then bring your instrument and your voice and we’ll see you there!” says At The Mill’s Alexander Wright. For tickets, go to: atthemill.com.
Portrait of the summer: Richard III, Yorkshire Museum, York, July 9 to October 31.
HIS ex-car park bones may be stuck in Leicester Cathedral, but that right work of art, Richard III, is heading back to his favourite city, York, albeit in portrait form.
On loan from the National Portrait Gallery as part of its Coming Home project, the iconic 16th century painting by the mysterious Unknown Artist will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum alongside “one of the finest groups of objects associated with Richard III”, such as the magnificent Middleham Jewel, The Ryther Hoard and Stillingfleet Boar Badge.
“Coming home,” you say? Yes, the project lends portraits of iconic individuals to places across the UK with which they are most closely associated. York 1, Leicester 0.
Where there’s hope…and a NEW date: Hope & Social, The Crescent, York, October 12, 7.30pm. Moved from July 16
“WE wear blue jackets. Fingers crossed, we will die with our hearts out in bloom,” say Leeds band Hope & Social, purveyors of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart and Yorkshire Festival anthem The Big Wide.
Ah yes, but why do they wear those blue jackets? “Homburgs, in Leeds, were selling off goods, and they had a choice between Wombles outfits and these Butlins holiday camp-style outfits,” explains drummer Gary Stewart. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Warm-up gig of the summer: The Courteeners, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 8
THE Courteeners will loosen up for two-late summer shows with an exclusive warm-up on the East Coast, supported by Wirral wonders The Coral.
The Middleton band are to play Glasgow’s TRNSMT Festival on September 10 and Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground on September 25, a home-coming that sold out in 90 minutes.
Best known for Not Nineteen Forever, Are You In Love With A Notion, How Good It Was, The 17th and Hanging Off Your Cloud, The Courteeners released their seventh top ten album, More. Again. Forever, in January 2020. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (25/6/2021) via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Comedy gig announcement of the week: Joe Lycett: More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett?, York Barbican, April 1 and 3 2022
FRESH from filming in York last Thursday for his Channel 4 consumer-campaign series Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Birmingham comedian and presenter Lycett has announced a 60-date tour with a title riffing on a 1976 Andrea True Connection disco floor-filler.
In More, More, More!, Lycett will explore his love of art and passion for gardening, how he toys with companies on Instagram and the perils of online trolls.
As well as his York Barbican brace, among more, more, more dates in 2022 will be Hull Bonus Arena on April 2 and Leeds First Direct Arena on September 14. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk and joelycett.com.