More Things To Do out and about, indoors, in and around York, and back home, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 12

Good to be back: Musician Phil Grainger and writer Alexander Flanagan-Wright in Alex’s back garden at Stillington Mill for their At The Mill week of shows. Now they will pop down to the Pop-Up On The Patio festival.
Picture: Charlotte Graham

MUSEUMS, galleries and cinemas are welcoming you in, but in the summertime, when the weather is surprisingly fine, now is the chance to capitalise on the great outdoors, from pop-up patio shows to musical theatre in an amphitheatre.

In the interests of balance, Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations also take in a new exhibition indoors and a night in that drags on and on…in spectacular vocal and visual fashion.

Balloons, magic, jokes: Josh Benson in his Just Josh show for Pop-Up On The Patio at York Theatre Royal

Outdoors entertainment number one: Pop-Up On The Patio, at York Theatre Royal, August 14 to 29

TAKING part in a Covid-secure summer season of outdoor performances, on a terrace stage designed by Yorkshire theatre designer Hannah Sibai, will be “Yorkshire’s finest theatre and dance makers”.

Step forward York Dance Space’s Dance//Shorts; Mud Pie Arts; Story Craft Theatre for Crafty Tales; Paul Birch’s Fool(ish) Improv; The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre in Orpheus and Eurydice and puppeteer Freddie Hayes in Fred’s Microbrewery.

Look out, too, for Cosmic Collective Theatre in the cult show Heaven’s Gate; York performance poet Henry Raby in Apps & Austerity; Say Owt, the York outlet for slam poets, word-weavers and “gobheads”; magician, juggler and children’s entertainer Josh Benson in Just Josh and pop, soul and blues singer Jess Gardham.

One hat, one coat, one monologue: Chris Hannon in rehearsal for Park Bench Theatre’s production of Samuel Beckett’s First Love at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Theatre in a summer’s garden: Engine House Theatre’s Park Bench Theatre, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, until September 5

ROLL up, roll up, for Samuel Beckett’s rarely performed monologue, First Love, artistic director Matt Aston’s new play, Every Time A Bell Rings, and a family show inspired by a classic song, Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Each production is presented in Covid-secure, carefully laid out and spacious gardens, allowing audience members to keep socially distanced from each other. Chris Hannon performs the Beckett piece; Lisa Howard, the play premiere; Aston’s co-creator, Cassie Vallance, the new children’s show.

Headphones or earphones will be required to hear the dialogue, sound effects and music in performances. All audience members will be given a receiver on entry; takeaway headphones cost £1 when booking a ticket online. Bring blankets or chairs.

Richard Upton as Stacee Jaxx in York Stage Musicals’ Rock Of Ages: Now he will be rocking up at Rowntree Park. Picture: Robin May

Musical celebration of the month: York Stage at Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, August 23 to 25

YORK Stage are bringing musical theatre back to life this summer with their first ever outdoor show, taking over the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre for three nights.

Songs from Grease, Hairspray, Cats, Cabaret, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story and many more will be sung by Emily Ramsden, Ashley Standland, May Tether, Joanna Theaker and Richard Upton under the musical direction of Jessica Douglas.

“We wanted to keep it light, with singers of great quality and a band of great quality performing songs we all know so well, presented as a concert rather than as a staged performance, so it’s very much about the music,” says producer and director Nik Briggs.

Out on the moors: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival artistic director, founder and cellist Jamie Walton.
Picture: Paul Ingram

Outdoor festival of the month: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, Welburn Abbey, Ryedale, until August 22

AN evolution as a much as a Revolution, the 2020 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival has swapped the indoors for the outdoors, now taking place in an open marquee sited in the grounds of Welburn Abbey, Welburn Manor Farms (YO62 7HH), between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, in Ryedale.

For its theme of Revolution! in the festival’s 12th year of celebrating chamber works, the focus is on and around the music of Beethoven – the “revolutionary” – and beyond to mark the 250th anniversary of the German composer’s birth in Bonn.

Full details can be found at northyorkmoorsfestival.com. Season tickets have sold out, but do check if tickets remain available for individual concerts on 07722 038990.

Under the spell of the fell: North Eastern artist Jill Campbell, inspired by her walks on Cockfield Fell

York exhibition of the week: Jill Campbell, Featured Artist, Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until September 19

BLUE Tree Gallery, York, is marking the opening of North Eastern artist Jill Campbell’s exhibition of intuitive and soulful landscape paintings by introducing temporary new opening hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.

“Most of my work is based on an ancient mining landscape called Cockfield Fell, where I walk nearly every day,” says Jill. “I use elements of what I see and combine these with my imagination to create my paintings.

“I’m fascinated by the fell’s strange, other worldly, abstract shapes defined by the morning shadows and framed by big dramatic skies. Its pools, pathways, mounds, dips and curves are my motifs.”

Showtime, darlings: Velma Celli in a late-summer night’s stream

Drag show of the week: Velma Celli in A Night  At The Musicals, tomorrow, 8pm

YORK drag diva supreme Velma Celli has embraced the world of the live stream through lockdown and beyond.

Velma’s satellite nights from her Bishopthorpe kitchen started in quarantine, back home in York after her Australian travels, and now she has vowed to keep these glamorous, if remote, gatherings going.

“I’m thrilled to be doing another live streamed show on August 14,” says Velma, the exotic cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair. “As venues are now closing up again in London, I will be doing more of these again! Bring on the fun! Watch out for news of special guests.”

For tickets for the live stream from Case de Velma Celli, go to: ticketweb.uk/event/velma-cellis-a-live-stream-tickets/. Tickets come off sale at 5pm tomorrow (14/08/2020); the stream link arrives via email just after 5pm for the 8pm start.

Marilyn (2009/2011, by Joana Vasconcelos: Iconic oversized silver stilettos made from stainless-steel saucepans, on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Trip out of the week: Joana Vasconcelos, Beyond, Underground Gallery and open air, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, on show until January 3 2021

PORTUGUESE artist Joana Vasconcelos creates vibrant, often monumental sculpture, using fabric, needlework and crochet alongside everyday objects, from saucepans to wheel hubs.

She frequently uses items associated with domestic work and craft to comment from a feminist perspective on national and collective identity, cultural tradition and women’s roles in society.

Crack pot: Your host standing betwixt a crockery tree sculpture at the Himalayan Gardens at Grewelthorpe. Picture: Celestine Dubruel

And what about…

LIGHTS out, sit back and enjoy the big-screen experience anew at City Screen, York, and Cineworld, York, now with masks compulsory.

Discovering Barnsley folk siren Kate Rusby’s new album of unexpected cover versions, from Manic Monday to Friday I’m In Love to Shake It Off, out tomorrow.

Walking among the flowers and sculptures at the Himalayan Gardens, Grewelthorpe, near Ripon, a gem of design all round.

Liberation Day arrives on Saturday, but Lockdown is still a block to theatres and gigs. Nevertheless, here are More Things To Do on days in and days out, courtesy of The Press, York. LIST No. 9

Opening the gateway to venturing outdoors once more….

JULY 4 is “Liberation Day”, apparently, but not for theatres and concert halls. They can re-open, not for live performances, however, leaving them in a state of inertia that only exacerbates their growing crisis.

As for cinemas, tipped to return to life next weekend, the consensus is that July 31 is now looking the more likely re-start date for the summer blockbusters.

This column will steer clear of the pubs and bars and restaurants making their comebacks – you can read of that welcome uptick elsewhere – but focus on the widening opportunities for entertainment, enlightenment and exercise beyond the front door, while still highlighting the joys on the home front too.

CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Back on track: Jorvik Viking Centre is “Good To Go” from next Saturday

Jorvik Viking Centre, re-opening on July 11

THE ever-resilient Jorvik Viking Centre is back on track from next Saturday with the Good To Go certification from Visit England, so all the boxes marked Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines have been ticked.

One important change is a switch to pre-booked visits only, with designated time slots every 20 minutes, to help control visitor flow and numbers, as well as extended hours over the summer months.

Within the building, in Coppergate, free-flow areas, such as the galleries will be more structured with presentations delivered by Viking interpreters, rather than video content or handling sessions.

Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny: Joining countertenor Iestyn Davies at a socially distanced National Centre for Early Music for York Early Music Festival online concert

York Early Music Festival, online from July 9 to 11

NEXT week’s “virtual” three-day event will be streamed online from the National Centre for Early Music, replacing the July 3 to 11 festival that would have celebrated Method & Madness. Concerts will be recorded at the NCEM’s home, St Margaret’s Church, in Walmgate, with social-distancing measures in place and no live audience.

York counter-tenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny present The Art Of Melancholy on July 9 at 7.30pm, when John Dowland’s Elizabethan music will be complemented by Davies’s renditions and readings of poetry by Robert Burton, Michael Drayton, Rose Tremain, Leo Tolstoy and Dowland himself.

On July 10, online concerts feature lute and theorbo player Matthew Wadsworth at 1pm, harpsichordist Steve Devine at 3.30pm and lyra viol player Richard Boothby at 7.30pm. July 11’s programme includes Consone Quartet at 1pm and Stile Antico at 7.30pm.

Tickets are on sale at tickets.ncem.co.uk and boxoffice@ncem.co.uk, with a festival package at £30, individual concert tickets at £10 each and illustrated talks at £3.50 each.

Richard Bainbridge RIP: York Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of his passing on Sunday

Remembering Richard, York Musical Theatre Company, Sunday, 7.30pm, online

YORK Musical Theatre Company will mark the first anniversary of leading light Richard Bainbridge’s exit stage left on Sunday with a special online memorial concert.

Streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel, the 7.30pm programme will celebrate Richard’s theatrical life with songs from all the shows he loved and the many he graced with the company.

Taking part will be Eleanor Leaper; Matthew Ainsworth; John Haigh; Florence Taylor; Moira Murphy; Amy Lacy; Rachel Higgs; Peter Wookie; Matthew Clare; Chris Gibson; Helen Singhateh, Jessa & Mick Liversidge. Returning to the ranks will be professional York actor Samuel Edward-Cook, alias Sam Coulson in his YMTC days.

Joker: One of the films at the Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema in York

Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema, Knavesmire, York, tomorrow to Sunday

STATIC cinemas remain in the dark, but drive-in cinemas with social distancing rules in place have been given the Government green light.

North Easterners Daisy Duke’s Drive-In Cinema are revving up for four screenings a day. Take your pick from the very familiar Mamma Mia!, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Frozen 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Showman, A Star Is Born, 28 Days Later, Pulp Fiction and Joker. Tickets can be booked at dukescinema.epizy.com.

Interaction between staff and customers will be kept to a minimum, with cars parked two metres apart and those attending expected to remain within their vehicles for the duration of the screenings on LED screens with the sound transmitted to car radios.

Ready for a reading challenge? Here comes The Silly Squad

The Silly Squad, Explore York Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge 2020, July 10 to September 18

GIVEN that Explore York’s libraries “aren’t open fully yet”, The Silly Squad Challenge is going virtual this summer, enabling children to take part online. There will be activities to do too, all on the same theme of fun, laughter and silliness.

The Silly Squad is a team of animal friends that loves to go on adventures and get stuck into all manner of funny books. This year, the Challenge features extra special characters designed by the author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson.

The Silly Squad website provides an immersive and safe environment for children to achieve their reading goals. Head to Explore’s website and join through the Summer Reading Challenge button.

Paul Weller: York Barbican in 2021; new album tomorrow

Keep seeking out the good news

NO Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad at York Theatre Royal from July 14, and Everybody’s no longer Talking About Jamie at Leeds Grand Theatre that week too. Even the Downing Street daily briefings are off after all the unintended humour of 24 episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour.

However, all’s Weller that’s Paul Weller as the Modfather’s autumn 2020 gig at York Barbican is moved to June 29 2021. In the meantime, his new album, On Sunset, is out tomorrow.

Drag diva Velma Celli, the creation of York actor Ian Stroughair, has announced another online outing, The Velma Celli Show, Kitchen, on July 11 at 8pm.

Kitchen sing drama: York drag diva Velma Celli announces latest online show on the home front

And what about…?

BBC One revisiting Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, each one even starker in their isolation in these dislocated times of solitary confinement, shielding, loneliness and finding other people irritating. The Leeds playwright, now 86, has added two ones to his 1988 collection. “Quite bleak,” he says.

New albums by Neil Young (“new” but unearthed 1970s’ recordings); Jessie Ware, Nadine Shah and Haim.

Scarborough Art Gallery unlocking its doors from this weekend. A walk on York’s city walls with its new temporary one-way system in place for social distancing from Saturday….and then drop down for a drink at Grays Court Hotel’s new walled garden bar, in the shadow of York Minster.

Or a walk along Pocklington Canal, but watch out for the two swans, guarding their nine cygnets by the water’s edge.

First, Velma Celli’s divas take over her Bishopthorpe kitchen this weekend. Then, she can come to your place if you ask

Velma Celli’s show poster for Me & My Divas on Saturday

“DARLINGS, I am in London for a bit to try and get things moving and it’s safe to say that it is depressing as F!” So wrote York drag diva divine Velma Celli to her adoring devotees on email on Saturday lunchtime.

“Anyway, I’ll plod on as long as I can. So, I am doing my show ‘Me & My Divas’ next Saturday [June 27] and I would LOVE for you to join me LIVE from LANDAN!”

Since then, Velma, the glorious cabaret creation of actor Ian Stroughair, has returned to Bishopthorpe, from where his series of online performances, streamed live from the Case De Velma Celli kitchen, will resume this weekend.

Tickets for the 8pm show cost £7 at ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-me-live-stream-tickets/10614645. As always, tickets come off sale at 5pm and the link will be sent out at around 6pm

Here Charles Hutchinson has a quick catch-up with Velma in the lead-up to Saturday’s virtual date with divas galore.

“Crazy. talented and confidence to suit”: Velma Celli’s three steps to being a diva


How did it feel heading back to London from York after three months in home-town lockdown?

“It was both exciting and nerve-wracking…” 

…You say you went back to London to “try and get things moving”. What can you do at this stage?

“I was hoping to network with restaurants and other smaller venues planning to open on July 4, but it was impossible, so I’m back in York for two weeks.”

How did your last online York kitchen show, Equinox, go on June 13? What did you perform with your remote guest Jodie Steel, the West End star of Wicked, Six and Rock Of Ages?

“It was the best yet! SO much fun. Jodie and I sang Take Me Or Leave Me from Rent [the American musical in which Ian Stroughair played the messianic Angel].

What’s the history of Me & My Divas? 

“I first performed it in January this year in Perth, Australia, at Fringeworld, winning the Best Cabaret award for the season.” 

What’s the content of this new show?

“No diva is safe, no riff she won’t sing – so strap yourself in and let the belt-off begin.

“Me & My Divas is an overindulgent diva fest celebrating the songs and behaviour of all of your favourite divas, including Celine, Mariah, Whitney, Aretha, Cher, Britney (maybe not!) and many more.”

Definitely being one yourself, what are the qualifications required to be a diva, Velma?

“Crazy, talented and confidence to suit.”

Will you have a guest joining you remotely, like you did with Twinnie, Louise Dearman and Jodie Steel for your previous online shows?

“I am working on this. Hopefully I will.”

What are your upcoming plans as lockdown loosens ever more expansively?

“Darlings, you can now book Velma OR Ian to perform privately for your ‘Bubble’ in your outside space/garden or publicly if you have a venue with enough room for social distancing indoors or out!!!

“Get in touch if this is something you might be interested in at stroughair2@hotmail.com.”

“Expect a lot of belt and emotion,” says York drag diva Velma Celli as witching hour beckons for online Equinox show

Something fabulous..and wicked this way comes: Velma Celli to stream Equinox show in kitchen-sing drama

DRAG diva deluxe Velma Celli invites you to “join me in my kitchen as I celebrate all my favourite witchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals” online on Saturday night.

The cabaret creation of York actor Ian Stroughair will be presenting Velma’s hit show, Equinox, Something Fabulous This Way Comes, from Case de Velma Celli.

“Equinox is a love letter to all the witches and magical creatures who have graced our stages and screens, from Wicked to The Wizard Of Oz and every belty enchantress from the coven in between,” says Velma, who will sing her siren songs at the witching hour, “when daylight and darkness are almost equal”.

Since going into self-isolation in Bishopthorpe lockdown after an Australian tour, Ian has performed two Velma shows online: a fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice on May 2 and Large & Lit In Lockdown on May 16.

Tickets for show number three, Equinox, cost £7 at: ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-equinox-live-stream-tickets/10604915. Around 30 minutes ahead of the 8pm start, audience members will receive a link to watch the performance, which can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV.

Charles Hutchinson puts the bewitching questions to a still virtual Velma Celli  

How did the Large & Lit In Lockdown show go? Did you have a special guest join you in remote mode?

“It was SO much fun. Sarah [Walker] and I have really fine-tuned the production of a show in a kitchen now during these bizarre times – said nobody EVER!

“I had West End superstar Louise Dearman join me for a remote duet. She’s immensely talented. Check out her albums on ITunes et al.”

How’s life in loosened lockdown ticking over for you after more than 75 days?

“I’m good. Taking each day as it comes and I’m trying to remain that way. As we know, theatre is most likely to be the last thing to open but I try not to think about that too much for my own sanity.”

“I understand the misunderstood and the outcasts, what with being a member of the LGBTQI+ community,” says Ian Stroughair, the York actor behind the Velma Celli drag act

What is the history of your Equinox show? 

“I did a UK tour of Equinox first. Rare to get that opportunity but it came right off the back of a hit run of my show A Brief History Of Drag, so I said ‘Yes’, having not yet written the show!

“We’ve played a tour of Australia too and, of course, the West End.”

What draws you towitchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals?

“Just my upbringing of The Wizard Of Oz and The The Wiz and the like. It was when the old movies were still treasured and we watched them as a family.”

Were you always drawn to them? Do you feel a connection by any chance?!

“I think I might be drawn to them because I understand the misunderstood and the outcasts, what with being a member of the LGBTQI+ community.”

Who and what features in Equinox and why?

“All your fave witchy, dark, fabulous witch moments in musical theatre and the movies. Ursula to Elphaba and everything in between.”

What do you most enjoy about the witching/bewitching hour?

“It’s a time to unleash the magic and be utterly awesome.”

What costume can the online audience look forward to this weekend?

“A fabulous black dress.”

Any guest contributors popping up or will you be flying solo?

“I’ll have West End star Jodie Steele joining me, remotely again of course. She’s appeared in Wicked, Rock Of Ages and Six, to name but a few.”

What will be the closing number and why?

“I can’t tell you. It’s the finale and a girl NEVER tells…just expect a lot of belt and emotion.”

Velma and Jodie: Silk and Steele on Saturday

Nothing much happening in these loosening Lockdown days? Everything still being called off? Here are More Things To Do on the home front, courtesy of The Press, York. LIST No. 7

On your mask, get set…go…where?

EXIT stage left 10 Things To See Next Week In York for the still unforeseeable future in these woolly-thinking lockdown times when everyone’s gone to the beach…or Burnsall.

Make do with entertainment at home and now farther afield, in whatever configuration, as you stay alert to working out how to interpret the Government’s green-for-go rules, in the stultifying shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic that has higher figures in York than elsewhere in North Yorkshire, lest we forget.

From behind his door a little more ajar, but still nervous about comings and goings, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Your Place Comedy….from their places: Simon Evans and Jo Caulfield go online for a laugh

Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans, Your Place Comedy, streaming into your living room from theirs, Sunday, 8pm

AFTER Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont in April, followed by Simon Brodkin and Harrogate’s Maisie Adams in May, Yorkshire’s virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy returns this weekend with a double bill of BBC Radio 4 stalwarts, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans.

Led by Selby Town Hall manager Chris Jones, ten small, independent Yorkshire and Humber venues unite to present a fundraising evening of humour on the home front, broadcast live from Caulfield and Evans’s living room to yours for free at yourplacecomedy.co.uk. Donations are welcome afterwards.

Here comes the wickedly fabulous Velma Celli, York’s kitchen cabaret diva

Something Fabulous This Way Comes, Velma Celli’s Equinox, June 13, 8pm

DRAG diva deluxe, Velma Celli, the cabaret creation of York actor Ian Stroughair, invites you to “join me in my kitchen as I celebrate all my favourite witchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals”.

“Equinox is a love letter to all the witches and magical creatures who have graced our stages and screens, from Wicked to The Wizard Of Oz and every belty enchantress from the coven in between,” says Velma, who will sing the siren songs of the hags and creatures that go bump in the night as she weaves her cabaret magic at the witching hour, when daylight and darkness are almost equal.

Since going into lockdown in Bishopthorpe after an Australian tour, Ian has presented two Velma shows online from Case de Velma Celli: a fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice on May 2 and Large & Lit In Lockdown on May 16. Tickets for Equinox cost £7 at: ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-equinox-live-stream-tickets/10604915.

Alan Ayckbourn and Heather Stoney: Performing together for the first time in 56 years in his audio play Anno Domino. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

If you haven’t heard Alan Ayckbourn’s Anno Domino yet, why not…?

GOODBYE Alan Ayckbourn’s 83rd play, Truth Will Out, postponed at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Hello instead to his 84th play for lockdown times.

Ayckbourn has not only written and directed it, as per usual, but he performs in the audio recording too, marking his return to acting, 56 years after his last appearance on a professional stage in Rotherham.

In one of his lighter pieces, charting the break-up of a long-established marriage and its domino effect on family and friends, Ayckbourn, 81, and his wife, actress Heather Stoney, play four characters each, aged 18 to mid-70s. “We were just mucking about in our sitting room,” says Ayckbourn of a world premiere available for free exclusively on the SJT’s website, sjt.uk.com, until noon on June 25. 

York Festival of Ideas had a bright idea: let’s go online for a Virtual Horizons fortnight

York Festival of Ideas, staying alert and staying home until June 14

FESTIVAL after festival has bitten the dust in Covid-19 2020, but if one event could be guaranteed to come up with a different idea, it would be…the York Festival of Ideas.

Consequently, ideas are still blooming in June, as the University of York invites you to go on a “journey of discovery that will educate, entertain and inspire you from the comfort of your own home”, under the banner of Virtual Horizons.

The festival team has worked hard with their partners to bring together a diverse programme of talks, music, activities and community trails. Topics range from author Tansy E Hoskins revealing what exactly your shoes are doing to the world (Foot Work, June 6, 1pm), to scientist Phil Ball discussing genetic editing, cloning and the growth of organs outside the body (How To Grow A Human, June 8, 6pm).

Or, if you need your topicality topping up, how about trenchant broadcaster and political commentator Iain Dale mulling over “the phenomenon” of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a talk “big on comedy and fun” (The Book Of Boris, tomorrow, June 5, 6pm)? Comedy? Fun? Just what we need to tackle the Corona crisis.

L’Apothéose in the grounds of the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, York, in 2019. Picture: Jim Poyner

Fieri Consort and L’Apothéose, National Centre for Early Music streamed concert, June 13

THE NCEM, in Walmgate, York, continues to share concerts from its archive on Facebook and online. On June 13 comes the chance to enjoy music by past winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, a double bill featuring Fieri Consort from 2017 and last year’s winners L’Apothéose.

To view Fieri Consort and L’Apothéose in concert for free at 1pm, follow https://www.facebook.com/yorkearlymusic/ or log on to the NCEM website, ncem.co.uk.

Cotton Bud Carousel Horse, by Vivien Steiner: Inspiration for the Scarborough Great Get Together postcard competition. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust/Vivien Steiner

Scarborough’s Great Get Together, June 19 to 21

ORGANISED by We Are Scarborough and Say Hello Coast, this event is inspired by the Jo Cox Foundation’s national Great Get Together: a celebration of the late Labour MP’s life and her vision of bringing people together.

This year, it will take place online and will include three competitions: creating a postcard comp on the theme of Scarborough Fair; song lyrics and a multi-genre comp for writers, poets, model-makers and performers. 

For more information on the Scarborough Great Get Together, full details on entering the competitions and more about Scarborough Fair and its history, go to: facebook.com/TheGreatGetTogetherScarborough or wearescarborough.co.uk/.

Voice of an Angel: Christie Barnes recording her role in the York Radio Mystery Plays remotely from home

York Radio Mystery Plays, on BBC Radio York, Sunday mornings throughout June

YORK Theatre Royal and BBC Radio York are collaborating to bring the York Mystery Plays to life on the airwaves in four 15-minute instalments on the Sunday Breakfast Show with Jonathan Cowap from this weekend.

Working remotely from home, a cast of 19 community and professional actors has recorded Adam And Eve, The Flood Part 1, The Flood Part 2 and Moses And Pharaoh, under the direction of Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster.

Jane McDonald: New date for her Let The Light In concert at York Barbican next summer

Seek out the good news

YORK River Art Market in July and August, ruled out by social-distancing rules. York Early Music Festival’s summer of Method & Madness in July, called off. Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In concert at York Barbican tonight, lights out. The list of cancellations may show no sign of abating, but you can always look ahead by searching for event updates on websites.

York River Art Market? Charlotte Dawson and co promise a return to Dame Judi Dench Walk in 2021. York Early Music Festival? Watch this space for the possibility of an online version of this summer’s festival emerging. Wakefield wonder Jane McDonald? Lights up on July 4 2021.

The Howl & The Hum: York band release their debut album

And what about…

The debut album for our disconnected times, Human Contact, by York band The Howl & The Hum. Jorvik Viking Centre’s Discover From Home, digital resources for stay-at-home exploration, such as videos, downloads and audio recordings about Viking life and culture. Garden centres, the real green-for-go sign of lockdown easement. Castle Howard reopening its gardens and grounds; bookings only. Walks on Hob Moor, to the Railway Pond. Crepes at Shambles Market. Pextons reawakening for DIY needs and more on Bishopthorpe Road.

Bowie, Barbra and Britney in your living room on Saturday? Yes, courtesy of diva Velma Celli’s online kitchen-sing drama

Dish of the day in her Bishy kitchen: Glam York drag diva Velma Celli is back on your telly or PC this weekend

VELMA Celli, York’ glamorous globe-strutting drag diva, will be Large & Lit in her latest lockdown concert streamed from her Bishopthorpe kitchen on Saturday night.

Ian Stroughair, the alter-ego of fabulous cabaret creation Velma, returned to self-isolate in his native York, rather than his adopted milieu of London, directly from a tour of Australia, and obeying government orders, he has stayed home since quarantine.

Ian, who presents The Velma Celli Show at The Basement, City Screen, York, each month, organised Velma’s first intimate kitchen gig for May 2, in support of St Leonard’s Hospice, in Tadcaster Road, where his late mother was a patient.

“I’d always wanted to find a way to support the hospice, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Ian, who raised £1,288 for St Leonard’s that night. “With so many conventional fundraising events postponed due to the lockdown, it was a great way for people to support the hospice while enjoying a fantastic, fun and fruity evening of live music in their own living room.” 

Ian’s glittering cabaret queen has starred in such self-originated shows as A Brief History Of Drag, Equinox – Something Fabulous This Way Comes and Me And My Divas, as well as The Velma Celli Show, and now he adds Large & Lit In Lockdown to his title list.

Diva Velma’s repertoire of impersonations of singers and their peculiar mannerisms draws inspiration from a multitude of the best female vocalists of the past 75 years, from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga and beyond. “And unlike many drag queens, Velma always performs live, adding her own special spin to familiar songs,” Ian says.

“This time we’ll have some Bowie, Barbra and Britney,” promises Velma

Charles Hutchinson asks Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli for quick answers to quick questions ahead of Saturday’s 8pm gig.

How did the first kitchen concert go? What was the highlight for you? 

“It was so much fun but totally bizarre not having an audience. Trying to navigate this new way of working was tricky but still fun. The highlight was telling my house mates to clap at the end of the songs! Bless them, they didn’t know if they were allowed. LOL!”

How did it work out singing a “remote” duet with York country singer Twinnie?

“I sang from the kitchen and she was out in the garden – which you can get to without coming through the house – on a radio mic. There was a rather fabulous patio door reveal! ‘Social-distant duetting’ is the new black!” 

Why have you chosen Large & Lit In Lockdown for the latest show title? Nice alliteration, by the way!

“I love alliteration and I am large. Mainly because it’s become custom in this house to fry EVERYTHING!” 

Where will you perform on Saturday? In the kitchen again or another room?

“Kitchen, better acoustics.” 

How will the set list differ from the first concert?

“It will be completely different. This time we’ll have some Bowie, Barbra and Britney! Ya welcome!” 

Choice of dress for the occasion?

“Whatever I can still fit into.” 

Any songs come to mind to perform in response to the Government’s new advice to Stay Alert?

“All By Myself, the Eric Carmen song.” 

When do you envisage being able to return to the world of the stage, the greasepaint and the live audience?

“I don’t want to think about that! Most likely 2021. Urgh.”

How do people acquire a ticket for the best seat in their house for the live stream from Case De Velma Celli?

“As per [usual], all you need to do is get ya tickets from the link below a.s.a.p. and a live link will arrive in your email inbox on the day of the show. Click on it at show time and BOOM! There she is.

https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-large-secret-york-venue-tickets/10581785.

Love and light, Velma.”

Please note: Saturday’s online event can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV; tickets cost £7.

Nothing happening in these Lockdown limbo days. Everything off. Here are 10 Things To Do on the home front, courtesy of The Press, York. LIST No. 5

Nothing happening full stop. Now, with time on your frequently washed hands, home is where the art is and plenty else besides

Exit 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future in Lockdown hibernation. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether together or in self-isolation, in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Street protest: The Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes cast on the march from York Minster Plaza to York Theatre Royal in 2017. Picture: Anthony Robling

Streaming of Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes, York Theatre Royal Collective Arts programme

YORK Theatre Royal is streaming the 2017 community play Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes for free on its YouTube channel until May 31.

Co-produced with Pilot Theatre, this outdoor and indoor production was performed by a community cast of 150 and a choir of 80, taking the form of a  protest play that recalled how women in York ran safe houses, organised meetings, smashed windows and fire-bombed pillar boxes as part of the early 20th century Suffragette movement.

“Now the stage is dark and the streets are empty, but looking back to the way in which that show brought people together, inspiring them in so many ways, is a wonderful reminder of the power of theatre and community,” says playwright Bridget Foreman.

Whispers From The Museum: the new mystery adventure from Scarborough Museums Trust

Whispers From The Museum, online mystery adventures for children

ADVENTUROUS youngsters can solve a new online mystery, Whispers From The Museum, set at Scarborough Art Gallery and Rotunda Museum, from May 12. The buildings may be closed under the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions but strange messages have been appearing inside. Who or what is making them and what are they trying to tell us?

For six weeks, young people – and their grown-ups – can uncover stories about assorted Scarborough Museums Trust objects by completing online missions and challenges from their own home, set by Scarborough artist Kirsty Harris.

The stream team: Your Place Comedy double bill Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam, performing from their living room to yours

Your Place Comedy, streamed from their living rooms to yours

AT the initiation of Selby Town Hall arts centre manager Chris Jones, here comes gig two of Your Place Comedy, a Sunday night when comedians stream a live show via YouTube and Twitch from their living room into yours from 8pm. There is no charge, but you can make donations to be split between the ten small, independent northern venues that have come together for this Lockdown fundraising scheme.

After Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont and a pyjama-clad Mark Watson in the inaugural online gig, this weekend’s stream team will be Theresa May’s Tory conference P45 prankster Simon Brodkin and Harrogate’s Maisie Adam, as seen from home previously on last Friday’s Have I Got News For You.

Grayson Perry with his teddy bear Alan Measles on a visit to York in May 2014 to open the Meet The Museums Bears event

Inspired by Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4…

IF you have enjoyed Grayson Perry’s convivial call to art, Grayson’s Art Club, on Channel 4 on Monday nights, with portraits and animals as the two subjects so far, seek out the “Ultimate Artists’ Activity Pack”.

This downloadable artist activity pack is suitable for children and adults alike, with Grayson among the contributing artists. So too are Ampleforth College alumnus Antony Gormley, Mark Wallinger, Michael Landy, Gillian Wearing and Jeremy Deller.

The Art Is Where The Home Is pack is the creation of Sandy Shaw, director of the Firstsite Gallery in Colchester, who says the activities should be fun, done on A4 paper and ideally shared.

Drag diva Velma Celli’s poster for Large & Lit In Lockdown, her next online show

What next for Velma Celli, York’s drag diva?

AFTER last weekend’s concert streamed from a Bishopthorpe kitchen in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice, York’s international drag diva Velma Celli has confirmed another such online extravaganza.

Large & Lit In Lockdown will be large and live at 8pm on May 16. “All you need to do is get your tickets from the link below and a live link will arrive in your email inbox on the day of the show.

“Click on it at show time and BOOM! There she is,” says Velma, the spectacular singing creation of Ian Stroughair. Tap in: https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-large-secret-york-venue-tickets/10581785.

Activity of the week: Rearranging your bookshelves

THANKS to Zoom and all manner of online visual services, placing yourself in front of your bookshelves is becoming the new normal, as tracked by the Bookcase Credibility Twitter feed, @BCredibility.

You may not go as far as J K Rowling, who re-arranged her books in colour sequences, but this is the chance to both gut your book collection and to find new ways to categorise those shelves, more imaginatively than merely alphabetically. This is spring cleaning with a new purpose.

Romesh Ranganathan: Rearranged York Barbican date

Still keep trying to find good news

POCKLINGTON’S Platform Festival in July, off. More York Races meetings, a non-runner. Deadpan comedian Romesh Ranganathan on Sunday at York Barbican, off; Whitby Fish & Ships Festival next weekend; the chips are down, alas. The list of cancellations grows like the wisteria adorning York’s houses this month, but you should keep visiting websites for updates.

Platform Festival? Negotiations are underway to move as many acts as possible to next summer. Romesh? His show, The Cynics Mixtape, is in the 2021 diary for May 15, still without an apostrophe in its title. Fish & Ships?  Sailing into harbour next May. York Races? Further updates awaited.

Woodland bluebells , Spring 2020

Venturing outdoors…

…FOR your daily exercise, be that a run, a cycle ride or a stroll near home, in a changing environment. If your route allows, check out the bluebells, now a glorious woodland haze, and the rhododendrons, bursting through too. In Rowntree Park, the ducklings are taking to the water, no need for armbands. Thank you, nature and the natural world, for keeping up our spirits.

Clap for Carers

STAND by your doors at 8pm every Thursday, no excuses. Theatre-goers, concert-goers, save your hand-clapping for our NHS doctors, hospital staff, carers, volunteers and key workers. How moving, too, to see familiar buildings bathed in blue light: a glowing tribute growing by the week.

Louis Theroux: New BBC radio series of interviews in lockdown

And what about…

NEW albums by The Strokes (the uncannily titled The New Abnormal); Lucinda Williams, Car Seat Headrest and Damien Jurado. Michael Henderson’s new state-of-the-nation book That Will Be England Gone, The Last Summer Of Cricket. The TV adaptation of Normal People, Sally Rooney’s story of complicated Millennial teenage love, directed by Room filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson on BBC Three, One and iPlayer. Louis Theroux’s lockdown interview series, Grounded, on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds. Parsnips, however you cook them.

Copyright of The Press, York

York drag diva Velma Celli’s on your telly for online fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice

Velma Celli: Adding more than a little sparkle to lockdown

VELMA Celli, York’ very own globe-strutting drag diva, will host a special fundraising concert for St Leonard’s Hospice live from her kitchen on Saturday night to “add a little sparkle to lockdown while helping this great cause”. 

Ian Stroughair, the alter-ego of fabulous cabaret creation Velma, returned to self-isolate in his native York directly from a tour of Australia, since when he has joined a host of fellow West End performers to create a season of online streamed concerts from their own homes. 

In the wake of Velma’s successful Leave A Light On concert, when viewers tuned in from York, London and even as far afield as New York, Ian decided to organise an intimate gig in support of St Leonard’s Hospice, in Tadcaster Road, York.

“Unfortunately, too many of us have seen the amazing work of the team at St Leonard’s Hospice first hand, as loved ones, including my mum, spent time there as cancer was making life increasingly difficult for them,” says Ian, who presents The Velma Celli Show at The Basement, City Screen, York, each month.

“I’ve always wanted to find a way to support the hospice, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. With so many conventional fundraising events postponed due to the lockdown, this is a great way for people to support the hospice while enjoying a fantastic, fun and fruity evening of live music in their own living room.” 

Ian’s glittering cabaret queen has starred in such self-originated shows as A Brief History Of Drag, Equinox – Something Fabulous This Way Comes and Me And My Divas, as well as The Velma Celli Show.

Diva Velma’s repertoire takes inspiration from many of the best female vocalists of the past 75 years, from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga and beyond. “So there’s something for everyone – including hilarious impersonations of the voices and peculiar mannerisms – of some of pop music’s most famous stars,” Ian says.  “Unlike many drag queens, Velma always performs live, adding her own special spin to familiar songs.”

Tickets for Saturday’s event are available from https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-is-live-in-secret-york-venue-tickets/10574895, priced at £7.  “With all proceeds going to St Leonard’s Hospice, we’re hoping that each person watching will buy a ticket, rather than one ticket for the whole room!” requests Ian.

Online audience members will receive a link to watch the performance 30 minutes before the 8pm show, which can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV.

Velma Celli: From her kitchen to your living room on Saturday night

Charles Hutchinson asks Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli for quick answers to quick questions in the build-up to Saturday’s gig.

Where are you playing this online show? In York or are you back in London now?

“Darling, I’m in Bishy Bishopthorpe. I came up a week before lockdown.”

Why did you choose a kitchen as the performance space for Saturday’s stream?

“It’s the biggest room and better acoustically.” 

Describe your kitchen. Colour scheme? Favourite kitchen gadget?

“We are white and grey in our kitchen. Gadget? Bottle opener (obvs!).”

What do you most like about kitchens?

“I love kitchens ’cos I’m a mean cook. Not a bitchy one, just very good! I actually wanted to be a chef, that was the plan. I love to bake.”

What’s your favourite dish you make? 

“At the moment, my favourite thing is a custard cake. It’s my great friends Eliza and Suzie’s grandma Dot’s recipe and it’s heavenly.”

Any tips for cooking in lockdown?

“Get creative with what’s in and try not to over-shop.”

How have you been coping with lockdown in York? What are you doing to fill your days?

“I’m coping well. I have my moments because I travel so much with work. I’m cycling a lot and writing.”

Are you good in total isolation? 

“NO.”

What are you missing most in lockdown?

“Being with my friends and family.”

What had you been doing this year before lockdown struck?  

“I toured Australia with my latest show, which was amazing. I also went on the Atlantis Gay cruise around New Zealand and just lots of fabulous gigs in the U.K.”

What was in your 2020 diary that you now can’t do?

So many gigs – and I was supposed to open and star in Funny Girls in Blackpool for a few months.” 

Why are you doing this concert for St Leonard’s Hospice?

“St Leonard’s Hospice cared for my Mum in her last days. It’s a fantastic facility in York that – since Mum’s passing – I try to support as much as I can because they are utterly fabulous.

“The staff are like living angels. I am in awe of them.”

How did the Leave A Light On show go?  When was it broadcast?

“I did it as a solo show on April 2 and it was so much fun. Special shout-out to Eliza and Jamie at Lambert Jackson Productions for their involvement. They’re awesome.”

What songs will you be performing this weekend and why?

“Ooooo, don’t want to spoil the surprise! There’ll be some Queen, Gaga, Judy [Garland] and many more.”

Will there be any special new additions on an isolation theme?

“Yes! A Nirvana classic but re-written lyrically.”

Which one? Maybe that new President Trump Covid-19 favourite Smells Like White Spirit?

“That’s it. Bang on the sentiment.”  

What length will the show be? Any guests?

“One hour. I’ll have the insanely talented Twinnie joining me, though safely apart. She’s up in York at her Mum’s for lockdown. Her album Hollywood Gypsy just came out and it’s amazing!

York country singer Twinnie: Velma Celli’s special guest on Saturday

“She hasn’t decided on what else she’ll performing yet, but most likely we’ll do an album track together too.”

I know just the song! May I suggest her candid yet candied single Better When I’m Drunk?

“Perfect. That’s the one. Whoop!”

Finally, how will you celebrate when you can perform on a stage again, in front of an audience?

“By being ready and raising my game.”

To listen to York country singer Twinnie’s debut album, Hollywood Gypsy, last week’s BBC Radio 2 album of the week, go to: https://twinnie.lnk.to/hollywoodgypsyWE

Copyright of The Press, York

Everyone is welcome at Velma Celli’s Drag Party as York cabaret queen streams show

Velma Celli: drag queen supreme on stream

YORK drag queen supreme Velma Cella is to appear in thousands of living rooms across the country – and around the world – in an uplifting live concert, streamed tomorrow evening.

Velma’s Drag Party will be on screen at 6.30pm as part of the Leave A Light On concert series promoted by Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café, St Martin’s Lane, London, to provide financial support for the performers involved and entertainment for people in self-isolation.

“This is a tough time for many people, particularly those who regularly attend live concerts, shows and gigs who are missing the unedited nature of live performance,” says Ian Stroughair, the West End actor and singer behind Velma Celli’s spectacular make-up and even more spectacular singing.

“I’m incredibly proud to be taking part,” says Ian Stroughair, alias Velma Celli

“So, it’s fantastic that Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café have produced such a superb series of concerts that can be watched live at home from some of the finest West End performers. I’m incredibly proud to be taking part.”

Velma Celli’s monthly show at The Basement, City Screen, York, is in abeyance during the Coronavirus lock-down, but devotees and first-timers alike tuning in tomorrow evening can expect “some belted classics and plenty of laughs along the way as we leave reality behind for an hour of camp fun”.

Leave The Light On pays homage to the theatre tradition of leaving a single light burning on the stage of an empty theatre,  supposedly to appease the ghosts who reside there.

Tickets for the live stream cost £7.50 and can be bought up to an hour before the broadcast.  Viewers will be sent a link via email that enables them to watch the performance live.  To buy, go to thetheatrecafe.co.uk/event/leave-a-light-on-velma-celli-live