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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patti Boulaye: Heading to Helmsley with her Aretha Franklin show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: Songs Under Skies, Joshua Burnell and Katie Spencer, NCEM, York 14/6/2021

Joshua Burnell and Katie Spencer at the National Centre for Early Music, York, at Monday’s Songs Under Skies double bill

REVIEW: Songs Under Skies, Joshua Burnell and Katie Spencer, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York

EAST Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer, like so many musicians divorced by lockdown restrictions from their livelihood of live shows, had taken to streaming gigs to the alienating sound of silence.

No wonder she smiled at the welcoming sound of applause, as reviving as hearing birdsong after being stuck indoors. “It’s lovely to be sharing live music for the first time in a long time,” she said at the 7pm outset of week two of Songs Under Skies, the acoustic outdoor festival run by the NCEM, Fulford Arms, The Crescent and Music Venues Alliance.

All those mid-pandemic night streams, and her guitar never misbehaved. First live show back, and a string snapped, whereupon Katie administered a string re-fit at a speed to impress Formula One wheel-changers. Joshua Burnell would later refer to her handiwork as “the fastest in the history of music”.

“It’s wild to be playing music in front of live people instead of my plants and bookcase,” said Katie Spencer

That said, Katie’s primary handiwork is her acoustic guitar-playing, a gentle caress to lyrics that have the scent, sentience and scene-painting of poetry, sung in a voice that lingered in Monday’s NCEM churchyard air.

Raised by the seaside near Hull, she sang of how the water shapes both the land and the people who live there in her best number, Edge Of The Land. Weatherbeaten and Shannon Road were similarly affecting in a re-introductory set best summed up by her sentiment: “It’s wild to be playing music in front of live people instead of my plants and bookcase.”

Katie will be doing so again in support of Martin Simpson at Primrose Woods, Pocklington, on July 1 and at The Magpies Festival at Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest on August 14. Hopefully, that guitar will be on best behaviour.

Half an hour would pass for an audience as socially distanced as the churchyard graves before prog-folk songwriter Joshua Burnell took to the blue awning stage with keyboard player Oliver Whitehouse.

Not even a sound alarm could put Joshua Burnell off his stride on his return to the concert stage.

Burnell is a multi-instrumentalist on his recordings, but here he focused on acoustic guitar, adapting to the night temperature that demanded constant re-tuning, a routine that afforded him the time to talk between songs, although not to the length that had prompted a BBC Radio York presenter to advise him he should hand out a pamphlet the next time he introduced new single Shelagh’s Song in concert.

No such pamphlet was forthcoming or necessary. Joshua is an engaging storyteller as much as an eloquent songwriter equally capable of evoking Tolkien, folk forefathers, Al Stewart, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and even Marc Bolan’s puckish dictionary.

He name-checked Ian McKellen for the opening Labels, recalling how the thespian knight had pondered “Why do we need to put labels on love?”. “Do you know what, Sir Ian, you’re right,” he said. “So throw your labels away, ‘Cause love has no use for them,” Joshua duly affirmed, almost enough to make any reviewer desist from further labelling on this occasion.

Joshua is as good at excavation as at conjuring new material, typified by an obscure but wonderful cover version, Eli Geva, Norwegian songwriter’s anguished Siege of Beirut ballad from an album of 12 banned songs from around the world.

The artwork for Joshua Burnell’s single Shelagh’s Song

Next came the aforementioned Shelagh’s Song, his account of how early-Seventies Edinburgh folk singer Shelagh McDonald vanished for 30 years after a particularly bad LSD trip. The re-surfaced Shelagh so loved the song she has sent Joshua a parcel with a letter, artwork and some lyrics she never published. Actions can speak so much louder than labels!

Joshua had just adjusted his guitar tuning again in the night cold when a new interruption tapped him on the shoulder: a sound alarm going off in the neighbouring bustle of Walmgate. One look from Joshua, and it was gone, as if ashamed at having held up “a bit of an anthem for positivity and things to come”: Golden Days, written in lockdown as the good weather rolled in and the vaccine programme was rolled out.

Not even the Prime Minister’s 6pm postponement of Freedom Day could deflate Joshua. “I still feel optimistic that we’re in a better place than we were a year ago,” he asserted.

If one lyric encapsulates retro-futurist Burnell in 2021, it would be: “Did I go through the wardrobe door because it’s been winter here for much too long”. Indeed it has, and as Songs Under Skies nudged and hushed it out the back door, he ended with Lucy, his variation on a “Ziggy Stardust character song”. Closer to Bolan than Bowie, if a label must be applied, but Lucy under darkening skies was a diamond finale.

Review by Charles Hutchinson

More Things To Do in and around York before and after Johnson’s “Terminus Est”. List No. 37, courtesy of The Press, York


A fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night: Sophie Robinson as Julie in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s Miss Julie at York Theatre Royal

FREEDOM Day is delayed but Boris Johnson has reached for the Latin dictionary again with his promise of “Terminus Est”.  Meanwhile, back in the real world, life goes on in Charles Hutchinson’s socially distanced diary.

Play of the week ahead: Miss Julie, The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, June 22 to 26

ON the Chinese New Year in 1940s’ Hong Kong, the celebrations are in full swing when Julie, the daughter of the island’s British governor, crashes the servants’ party downstairs.

What starts as a game descends into a fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night in the Pearl River Delta in British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng’s adaptation of Strindberg’s psychological drama in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s new touring production. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Reopening today: Leeds Grand Theatre auditorium will be welcoming an audience for the first time in 15 months

Reopening of the day: Leeds Grand Theatre

WHEN Leeds Grand Theatre first opened its doors on Monday, November 18 1878, a playbill declared it would “Positively Open”. Now, after 15 months under wraps, it is “Positively Reopening” today (17/62021) for a socially distanced run of Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake until June 26.

In Northern Ballet‘s emotive retelling, Anthony’s life is haunted by guilt after the tragic loss of his brother. When he finds himself torn between two loves, he looks to the water for answers.

There he finds solace with the mysterious swan-like Odette as the story is beautifully reimagined by David Nixon, who will be leaving the Leeds company after 20 years as artistic director in December. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at boxoffice@leedsheritagetheatres

Abba Mania: Saying thank you for the superSwedes’ music at York Racecourse on June 26

Staying on track: Sounds In The Grounds, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, June 25 to 27

JAMBOREE Entertainment presents three Covid safety-compliant Sounds In The Grounds concerts next weekend with socially distanced picnic patches at York Racecourse.

First up, next Friday, will be Beyond The Barricade, a musical theatre celebration starring former Les Miserables principals; followed by Abba Mania next Saturday and the country hits of A Country Night In Nashville next Sunday.

Opening each show will be York’s party, festival and wedding favourites, The New York Brass Band. Tickets are on sale at soundsinthegrounds.seetickets.com or at the gate for last-minute decision makers.

The poster for the return of the York River Art Market

Welcome back: York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, York, from June 26

AFTER the pandemic ruled out all last year’s live events, York River Art Market returns to its riverside railing perch at Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, for ten shows this summer in the wake of the winter’s online #YRAMAtHome, organised by Charlotte Dawson.

Free to browse and for sale will be work by socially distanced, indie emerging and established artists on June 26, July 3, 24, 25 and 31 and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, from 10.30am to 5.30pm, when YRAM will be raising funds for York Rescue Boat.

On show will be landscape and abstract paintings; ink drawings, cards and prints; jewellery and glass mosaics; woodwork and metalwork; textiles and clothing and artisan candles and beauty products.

Alexander Wright: Contemplating his debut solo performance of poems, stories and new writing on July 10. Picture: Megan Drury

He’s nervous, but why? Alexander Wright: Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 10, 7.30pm

LET Alex tell the story: “In a potentially remarkable act of narcissism, I am doing a solo gig of my own work in a theatre I built (with Phil Grainger and dad Paul Wright) in my back garden. 

“It’s the first time I have ever done a solo gig. I write lots of stuff, direct lots of stuff, tour Orpheus, Eurydice & The Gods to hundreds of places. But I’ve never really stood in front of people and performed my own stuff, on my own, for an extended period. So, now, I am…and I’m nervous about it.”

Expect beautiful stories, beautiful poems and a few beautiful special guests; tickets via atthemill.org.

Ringmaster and Dame Dolly Donut in TaleGate Theatre’s Goldilocks And The Three Bears at Pocklington Arts Centre

Summer “pantomime”? Yes, in TaleGate Theatre’s Goldlilocks And The Three Bears, Pocklington Arts Centre, August 12, 2.30pm

ALL the fun of live family theatre returns to Pocklington Arts Centre this summer with Doncaster company TaleGate Theatre’s big top pantomime extravaganza.

In Goldilocks And The Three Bears, pop songs, magic and puppets combine in a magical adventure where you are invited to help Goldilocks and her mum, Dame Dolly Donut, save their circus and rescue the three bears from the evil ringmaster. For tickets, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys: Headliners to be found at The Magpies Festival in Sutton-on-the-Forest in August

Festival alert: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, August 14, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm

SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys will headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park.

Confirmed for the folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus. Day tickets and camping tickets are available at themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.   

A variation on Malvolio’s cross-gartered stocking theme: Yellow and black rugby socks for Luke Adamson’s version of Twelfth Night on the Selby RUFC pitch

Fun and games combined: JLA Productions in Twelfth Night, Selby Rugby Union Football Club, August 20, 7.30pm; August 21, 2.30pm, 7.30pm

“I’M just getting in touch to announce we’re doing some Shakespeare on a rugby pitch in Selby in August. Crazy? Perhaps. But it’s going to be fun!” promises Luke Adamson, Selby-born actor, London theatre boss and son of former England squad fly half Ray.

Adapted and directed by Adamson, a raucous, musical version of “Shakespeare’s funniest play”, Twelfth Night, will be staged with Adamson as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a cast rich with Yorkshire acting talent.

Out go pantaloons and big fluffy collars, in come rugby socks, cricket jumpers and questionable facial hair. Box office: jlaproductions.co.uk.