York Musical Theatre Company determined to take “phenomenal” Jekyll & Hyde The Musical out of niche status at JoRo Theatre

Steven Jobson, who plays Jekyll/Hyde, and Nicola Holliday, in the role of Lucy Harris, pictured at York Castle Museum

YORK Musical Theatre Company are marking their 120th anniversary with a new staging of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

Directed by Matthew Clare, York’s longest-running amateur theatre company are presenting Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of love, betrayal and murder from May 25 to 28, when the epic struggle between good and evil comes to life to the pop-rock score of Grammy and Tony Award-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse.

Jekyll & Hyde has been described as a “niche musical”, prompting Matthew to say: “It was first done in Texas in the 1990s and it’s true it’s not been done commonly. Maybe its subject matter is off-putting to those who want something more family orientated: Annie comes without seven murders, doesn’t it – and I once did 17 productions of Annie in one year!

“But given that the music is phenomenal, we stood the chance of getting a really good cast, doing some music nights with musical director John Atkin going through some of the score, and we ended up with a really good turnout for the auditions.”

Among those auditionees was Glyndebourne Academy alumna Alexandra Mather, who will play Emma Carew. “The music has some operatic elements and strong musical theatre ones too,” she says.

“So, the show has that crossover appeal between the populism of Lloyd Webber and the sophistication of Sondheim. It’s Phantom meets Sweeney Todd, with the big power ballads for the Lloyd Webber factor and the interplay of Sondheim in the ensemble scenes.”

Matthew Clare: Directing York Musical Theatre Company’s production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Stevenson’s tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself – finds both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret.

A devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve the most challenging of medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers-that-be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons, along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

“It’s a really powerful story rooted in Dr Jekyll looking for a cure for his father’s dementia,” says Matthew. “Most people can probably sympathise with that emotion, that desire, but the issue is that he becomes obsessed with it.”

Alexandra adds: “Jekyll doesn’t have a way to pursue this through the proper channels because it’s a one-man crusade and he ends up having to push Emma away because of what he’s doing.”

Anthony Gardner, cast as lawyer John Utterson, joins in: “Hyde is a diminished part of Jekyll. He’s juxtaposed with Utterson, who has all the correct moral values and represents stability.”

Matthew notes how Hyde is the only honest character in the story. “That’s a really weird thing to say about your villain, who’s always within Jekyll.”

“It’s Phantom meets Sweeney Todd,” says principal cast member Alexandra Mather, describing the musical style of Jekyll & Hyde

How we might behave in any given situation depends on where we are in our lives, suggests Alexandra. “We are not constant,” she says. “Depending on where we are, it can bring out that other side.”

Anthony is playing “one of the more relatable characters”. “Utterson is Jekyll’s best friend but he’s also someone who steps out of the story and becomes a narrator, so as such his voice is one of the ones you can trust,” he says.

“He’s desperate to save his friend but he’s also blind to his faults so he’s always one step behind.”

Anthony has been “knocking around I don’t know how many companies all these years”, from York Light Opera Company to York Opera, the Bev Jones Music Company to York Musical Theatre Company. “But the draw to Jekyll & Hyde for me was very specific,” he says.

“I met my fiancée doing an abridged version at the ROSS Musical Theatre Performance School at Lancaster: a 45-minute version that still had all the murders and the full story.

“I had to play two characters: my first take on Utterson, a role suited to my style, and Spider; my now fiancée was playing Lucy Harris, the prostitute, and now she’s playing Lady Savage next week.

Devoted man of science: Steven Jobson’s Dr Henry Jekyll

“We’re due to get married next year. We got engaged over lockdown, and we’ll be getting married on Kirkgate at York Castle Museum, where, as it happens, we did the photocall for Jekyll & Hyde.”

Anthony’s bride-to-be is Elizabeth Vile. “No, she will not be keeping her maiden name! I had always thought I would go double-barrelled when marrying, but ‘Vile Gardner’ doesn’t quite work, does it?!”

Should you be seeking further reasons to be “immersed in the myth and mystery of 19th century London’s fog-bound streets” in Jekyll & Hyde, here are two more from director Matthew.

“Because of Covid, York Musical Theatre Company haven’t had a full-scale production for two years since Jesus Christ Superstar, just a couple of online concerts, so it’s great to be back,” he says.

“It’s also very interesting to have two performers playing Lucy – Nicola Holliday on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening; Claire Pulpher on Thursday and at the Saturday matinee – and seeing how they play her in their different ways.”

York Musical Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 25 to 28, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Copyright of The Press, York

York Musical Theatre Company’s poster artwork for Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

York Musical Theatre Company concert raises £2,133 for Ukrainian aid appeal

The concert poster for last Saturday’s fundraiser

YORK Musical Theatre Company & Friends have raised £2,133 for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal from A Concert For Ukraine, held on April 30 at Our Lady’s Church, Cornlands Road, York.

Organiser Sophie Urquhart says: “As we’ve all been so horrified by the tragic images on the news every night from Ukraine, I felt determined to do something, however small to help. 

“As a member of York Musical Theatre Company (YMTC), it seemed an ideal solution to put on a concert for people to enjoy and to raise funds at the same time.   

“The rest of the company couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, and once our musical director, John Atkin, was on board, the whole plan came together, inviting members from other local theatre companies to join us.” 

Last Saturday’s programme featured multiple show tunes from West End musicals past and present, ranging from old favourites from Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street to a couple from YMTC’s next show, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, now in rehearsal for a May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

“We also had a wonderful and inspirational lady called Victoria from the Ukraine opening our concert, reminding us why we were all there,” says Sophie.

All proceeds are going to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal run by Action Aid. “For those that couldn’t attend, but would still like to donate, there’s a JustGiving page set up,” says Sophie. To give, go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/Concert4Ukraine?utm_campaign=lc.

Now, in the words of John Atkin, YMTC will “play catch-up” with Jekyll & Hyde rehearsals.

York Musical Theatre Company to hold show song evening for Ukraine appeal

York Musical Theatre Company’s poster for Saturday’s concert

YORK Musical Theatre Company & Friends present A Concert For Ukraine on Saturday at Our Lady’s Church, Cornlands Road, York, at 7pm.

Organiser Sophie Urquhart says: “As we’ve all been so horrified by the tragic images on the news every night from Ukraine, I felt determined to do something, however small to help. 

“As a member of York Musical Theatre Company (YMTC), it seemed an ideal solution to put on a concert for people to enjoy and to raise funds at the same time.   

“The rest of the company couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, and once our musical director, John Atkin, was on board, the whole plan came together, inviting members from other local theatre companies to join us. 

Saturday’s programme features multiple show tunes from West End musicals past and present, ranging from old favourites from Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street to a couple from YMTC’s next show, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, now in rehearsal for a May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. 

“We’ll also have a wonderful and inspirational lady called Victoria from the Ukraine opening our concert, reminding us why we are all there,” says Sophie.

Tickets cost a minimum of £5, either on the door or through reservations on 07806 487695, with all proceeds going to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal run by Action Aid.

“For those that can’t attend, but would still like to donate, there’s a JustGiving page set up,” says Sophie.  

To give, go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/Concert4Ukraine?utm_campaign=lc

York Musical Theatre Company to hold humanitarian fundraising concert for Ukraine at Our Lady’s Church

The poster artwork for A Concert For Ukraine

YORK Musical Theatre Company and Friends will come together to raise money for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal at A Concert For Ukraine on April 30.

The 7pm musical evening of songs from the shows past and present will be held at Our Lady’s Church, Cornlands Road, Acomb, York, where singers from assorted York musical theatre companies will perform selections from Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street and Godspell.

Tickets (£5 minimum) can be reserved on 07806 487695 or bought on the door. “If musical theatre isn’t your thing, or you’re unable to attend, please give a small donation to justgiving.com/fundraising/Concert4Ukraine,” says organiser Sophie Houghton Brown.

John Atkin, of York Musical Theatre Company, says: “YMTC Choir members decided to do this concert after their performance at the York Community Choir Festival 2022 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

“The choir will be singing the songs they performed at the festival alongside numbers for their upcoming production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.  

“We’re delighted that well-known York performers, who have worked with York Opera, Black Sheep Theatre, Joseph Rowntree Company, Bev Jones Musical Company, Pick Me Up Theatre and White Rose Theatre, will be joining us as guests.” 

Concert proceeds and donations to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal will help DEC charities to provide food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families. To find out more about their work, visit www.actionaid.org.uk. Donations will be sent directly to ActionAid in a fast and secure way.

More Things To Do in York to celebrate losing an hour’s lie-in tonight. Clock in to List No. 75, courtesy of The Press, York

Quick step: Jake Quickenden as dancing cowboy Willard in Footloose The Musical at York Theatre Royal

FROM Holding Out For A Hero to Search For The Hero, Charles Hutchinson is on a quest to find heroic deeds and much else to entertain you.

Musical of the week: Footloose at York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday

DANCING On Ice champ Jake Quickenden rides into York as cowboy Willard and musicals stalwart Darren Day plays Reverend Moore in Racky Plews’s touring production of Footloose The Musical.

Reprising the 1984 film’s storyline, teenage city boy Ren is forced to move to the rural American backwater of Bomont, where dancing and rock music are banned. Taking matters into his own hands, soon he has all hell breaking loose around him and the whole town on its feet. 

The set design, by the way, is by Sara Perks, who designed York Theatre Royal’s open-air show Around The World In 80 Days last summer and Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre productions in York. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Reunited: EastEnders soap stars Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett in the chilling thriller Looking Good Dead

Thriller of the week: Looking Good Dead, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday

AFTER playing bickering husband and wife Ian and Jane Beale in EastEnders for years and years, Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett are re-uniting, this time on stage in Shaun McKenna’s stage adaptation of Peter James’s thriller Looking Good Dead.

No good deed goes unpunished in this story of Woodyatt’s Tom Bryce inadvertently witnessing a vicious murder, only hours after finding a discarded USB memory stick.

Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger. When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to face while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryces’ lives. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Writer, journalist and historian Simon Jenkins: Appearing at York Literature Festival

Festival event of the week: York Literature Festival presents Europe’s 100 Best Cathedrals with Simon Jenkins, St Peter’s School, Clifton, York, tonight, 7pm

FOR Europe’s 100 Best Cathedrals, former editor of the Evening Standard and The Times Simon Jenkins has travelled the continent, from Chartres to York, Cologne to Florence, Toledo to Moscow, to illuminate old favourites and highlight new discoveries.

Tonight he discusses the book’s exploration of Europe’s history, the central role of cathedrals in the European imagination and the stories behind these wonders. Box office: yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk.

That Old Devil Moon, by Richard Kitchen, from Navigators Art’s Moving Pictures exhibition at City Screen Picturehouse

Exhibition of the week: Navigators Art in Moving Pictures, City Screen Picturehouse café and first-floor gallery, until April 15

FROM December’s ashes of the Piccadilly Pop Up Collective studios and gallery in the old York tax office, Navigators Art have re-emerged for a spring exhibition at City Screen.

For their first post-lockdown project, founder Navigators Steve Beadle and Richard Kitchen have invited fellow artist and teacher Timothy Morrison to join them for Moving Pictures: From Fan Art To Fine Art.

“The title is deliberately ambiguous, and we’ve responded to it accordingly,” says Richard. “There are works that relate to cinema and other media but also many of which interpret ‘Moving’ in other ways.”

BC Camplight: Examining madness and loss at The Crescent, York

Rearranged York gig of the week: BC Camplight, supported by Wesley Gonzales, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

MOVED from March 10, BC Camplight’s gig in York highlights the final chapter of his “Manchester trilogy”, Shortly After Takeoff.

“This is an examination of madness and loss,” says BC, full name Brian Christinzio. “I hope it starts a long overdue conversation.”

Fired by his ongoing battle with mental illness, Shortly After Takeoff follows 2018’s Deportation Blues and 2015’s How To Die In The North in responding to BC’s move from his native Philadelphian to Manchester. Cue singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and Fifties’ rock’n’roll. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Sanna Jeppsson’s Viola de Lesseps and George Stagnell’s Will Shakespeare in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Shakespeare In Love. Picture: Matthew Kitchen Photography

York premiere of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Shakespeare In Love, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, April 1 to 9

LEE Hall’s 2014 stage adaptation of Shakespeare In Love, the Oscar-winning film written by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, celebrates the joys of theatre in Pick Me Up’s first show of 2022.

Directed by Mark Hird, it recounts the love story of struggling young playwright Will Shakespeare (George Stagnell) and feisty, free-thinking noblewoman Viola de Lesseps (Sanna Jeppsson), who helps him overcome writer’s block and becomes his muse.

Against a bustling background of mistaken identity, ruthless scheming and backstage theatrics, Will’s love for Viola blossoms, inspiring him to write Romeo And Juliet. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Heather Small: Proud moment at York Barbican

Voice of the week: Heather Small, York Barbican, April 2, 7.30pm

BILLED as “The voice of M People”, soul singer Heather Small will be combining songs from her Nineties’ Manchester band with selections from her two solo albums.

As part of M People, she chalked up hits and awards with Moving On Up, One Night In Heaven and Search For The Hero and the albums Elegant Slumming, Bizarre Fruit and Fresco. The title track of her Proud album has since become a staple at multiple ceremonies.

At 57, she will never be one to rest on her laurels: “If you got the feeling I do when I sing, you’d understand,” she reasons. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Steven Jobson (Jekyll/Hyde) gets to grips with Matthew Ainsworth (Simon Stride) in rehearsals as York Musical Theatre Company director Matthew Clare looks on

Book early for: York Musical Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 25 to 28

FLOOR rehearsals are well under way for York Musical Theatre Company’s spring production under the direction of Matthew Clare, who is delighted by how the cast is responding and supporting each other.

The epic struggle between good and evil in Jekyll & Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of myth and mystery on London’s fog-bound streets, comes to stage life in Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s pop-rock musical, where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling twist and turn.

YMTC are running an early bird discount ticket offer with the promo code of JEKYLL22HYDE when booking at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk by April 10.

York Community Choir Festival on song for concert week at Joseph Rowntree Theatre

The Rolling Tones: Performing at York Community Choir Festival on March 5

EIGHT shows, with a different line-up every time, make up the York Community Choir Festival 2022, York’s celebration of choral music from Sunday to March 5.

Taking part will be three primary school choirs (Osbaldwick, Robert Wilkinson and Headlands), Huntington Secondary School gents and ladies’ choirs and 30 adult choirs.

Despite there being close to 200 song choices, in only one concert will the same song be sung by two choirs, in very different styles. Each concert ends with everyone singing I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk

The concert line-ups:

Sunday, 4pm

Jubilate, ladies’ choir; Community Chorus, mixed voices; Chechelele, world music a cappella; Singphonia, Don Pears’ new choir.

Monday, 7.30pm

Garrowby Singers, mixed voices; Tadcaster Community Choir, mixed; The Chorus Crew, male shanties and folk song from Harrogate area; Main Street Sound Ladies Barbershop Chorus, ladies’ barbershop.

Tuesday, 7.30pm

Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus, ladies’ chorus; In Harmony, mixed voices; The Daytones Harmony Chorus, male barbershop, from Clifford; Dunnington Community Choir, mixed voices.

Wednesday, 7.30pm

Sounds Fun Singers, ladies’ choir; York Celebration Singers, mixed voices; Euphonics, ladies’ choir; Stamford Bridge Community Choir, mixed voices.

Thursday, 7.30pm

York Military Wives Choir, ladies’ choir; York Hospital Wellbeing Choir, mixed choir; Easingwold Community Singers, mixed choir; Spirit Of Harmony, male barbershop.

Friday, 7.30pm

Eboraca; Huntington School Choirs; Acomb Community Choir, mixed; York Phoenix Harmonies.

Saturday, March 5, 2.30 pm

Osbaldwick Primary School; Headlands Primary School; The Rolling Tones, seniors’ choir; Three Crown Sound; York Musical Theatre Company.

Saturday, March 5, 7:30 pm
The Abbey Belles, ladies’ choir; Bishopthorpe Community Choir, mixed choir; York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir; Supersingers, mixed choir; Robert Wilkinson Primary School Choir.

Rehearsals start for York Musical Theatre Company’s May show Jekyll & Hyde The Musical. Who’s in Matthew Clare’s cast?

York Musical Theatre Company’s artwork for Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

REHEARSALS are underway for York Musical Theatre Company’s May staging of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

“The production team were blown away by the high standard of talent that attended the two days of auditions in January, resulting in a very tough task in the casting of roles,” says company stalwart Mick Liversidge. “In fact, deliberation went on to the early hours of the morning after the final auditionee had left on the second day.

“YMTC feel that the resulting cast will deliver a fantastic show, worthy of marking the company’s 120th year. Rehearsals began on Monday and the cast couldn’t wait to get stuck into the sumptuous music of this fabulous show.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, the epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage to the thrilling pop-rock score of Grammy and Tony Award-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse.

An evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself – finds both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret.

A devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve the most challenging of medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers-that-be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons, along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

York Musical Theatre Company invite audiences to “be immersed in the myth and mystery of 19th century London’s fog-bound streets, where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling turn and twist” in the May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. For the Early Bird discount of £2 off each ticket, use the promo code JEKYLL22HYDE when booking online.

Jekyll & Hyde cast:

Dr Henry Jekyll/Mr Edward Hyde: Steven Jobson
Emma Carew:  Alexandra Mather
Lucy Harris:  Nicola Holliday & Claire Pulpher (shared role)
John Utterson:  Anthony Gardner
Sir Danvers Carew:  Nick Sephton
Simon Stride:  Matthew Ainsworth
Lady Beaconsfield:  Helen Spencer
Lady Savage: Elizabeth Vile
Archibald Proops:  Ryan Stocks
General Glossop: Rob Davies
Bishop of Basingstoke: Ryan Richardson
Spider: Ben Caswell
Nellie: Erin Keogh

Ensemble: Eleanor Anson; Faye Addy; Danar Cantrill; Ellie Carrier; Sophie Cunningham; Bethany Edwards; Rebecca Ellis; Tess Ellis; Emily Hardy; Cameron O’Dent; Frankie Nicholls; Suzanne Perkins; Victoria Rimmington; Paula Stainton; Hannah Wakelam.


Director: Matthew Clare; musical director, John Atkin; production manager, Peter Jamieson;
wardrobe, Kathryn Addison.


York Musical Theatre Company seeks new recruits for May’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical as part of 120th anniversary celebrations

York Musical Theatre Company’s poster for next May’s production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

YORK Musical Theatre Company is seeking to attract new members to take part in next year’s exciting shows to marks its 120th anniversary.

First up will be Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, directed by Matthew Clare, with musical direction by John Atkin, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from May 25 to 28.

An introductory evening will be held on Thursday, January 6 at 7.30pm at Poppleton Methodist Church Hall. “This will be a chance for anyone interested in being involved with the show to meet the production team and chat about auditions, rehearsals, the characters, the plot and the music,” says new committee member Mick Liversidge.

“There’ll be auditions for all character and ensemble roles on Saturday, January 15, from 11am to 3pm, and Tuesday, January 18, from 7.3pm to 9.30pm, again at Poppleton.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s thriller The Strange Case Of Jekyll And Hyde, the musical sets the gripping tale of a brilliant mind gone horrifically awry to a powerful pop-rock score by Frank Wildhorn, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

“Jekyll & Hyde The Musical should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says committee member and actor Mick Liversidge

In attempting to cure his ailing father’s mental illness by separating “good” from “evil” in the human personality, talented physician Dr Jekyll inadvertently creates an alternate personality of pure evil, dubbed Mr Hyde, who wreaks murderous havoc on the city of London.

As his fiancée, Emma, grows increasingly fearful for her betrothed, a prostitute, Lucy, finds herself involved dangerously with both the doctor and his alter ego. Struggling to control Hyde before he takes over for good, Jekyll must race to find a cure for the demon he has created in his own mind.

“The music for this show is sumptuous, with some fabulous moving numbers for the lead characters to perform, backing up a truly bittersweet story of love, passion, sex and murder, mixed with both the physical and mental struggles of Dr Jekyll to vindicate his medical theories,” says Mick.

To register for an audition, send an email to: auditions@yorkmusicaltheatrecompany.org.uk.
“The auditions are open to anyone who wishes to be involved in what should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says Mick.

More Things To Do in and around York as Wuthering Heights goes ‘camp folk musical’. List No. 56, courtesy of The Press

Carr double: Jimmy Carr to play both York Barbican and Grand Opera House

Charles Hutchinson fishes out No Such Thing As A Fish and plenty more besides to hook you in.

Two bites at the cherry of sceptical comedy: Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny, York Barbican, tonight, 8pm; Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday, 8pm

JIMMY Carr will be playing York twice inside a week on his rescheduled Terribly Funny tour, visiting both the Barbican and Grand Opera House.

The host of Channel 4’s The Friday Night Project and 8 Out Of 10 Cats will be discussing terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. “But they’re just jokes,” Carr says. “They are not the terrible things.” 

Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo, he asserts. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk or atgtickets.com/york. 

Jools Holland: Back at the piano with his orchestra in York and Harrogate

National treasure shows of the week: Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, York Barbican, tomorrow, 7.30pm; Harrogate Convention Centre, Saturday, doors, 7pm

PIANIST, bandleader and ringmaster Jools Holland is joined by his 19-piece orchestra for the 2021 autumn tour of his long-running celebration of ska, boogie-woogie and the blues.

The Later presenter, 63, will be welcoming regular vocalists Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall, plus special guest Chris Difford, his former compadre in Squeeze. Lulu is in with a Shout of a guest spot too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Bella Gaffney: Down by the river on new single Black Water. Picture: Esme Mai

Folk gig of the week: Bella Gaffney, York St John University Theatre, Saturday, 7.45pm

BORN in Bradford and educated in Nottingham, singer-songwriter Bella Gaffney now lives in York, performing both in The Magpies trio and solo.

Combining her folk-inspired compositions with her original arrangements of traditional pieces, Bella has a new album on its way in 2022 funded by Arts Council England and York charity Doing It For Liam.

Listen out for the single Black Water, a lockdown-inspired homage to the River Wharfe and its power to connect Bella to family and friends miles away. Katie Spencer supports on a bill promoted by The Crescent in a new venture with York St John. Box office: ticketweb.uk.

Russell Watson: Delighted to be performing again after the lockdowns, singing in York on a Sunday afternoon

Matinee idol of the week: Russell Watson, 20th Anniversary Of The Voice, York Barbican, Sunday, 3pm

REARRANGED from October 9 2020, Salford tenor Russell Watson’s 20th anniversary celebration of his debut album The Voice will be a Sunday afternoon performance.

Watson will be joined by a choir for a matinee concert featuring such favourites as Caruso, O Sole Mio, Il Gladiatore, Nessun Dorma, You Are So Beautiful, Someone To Remember Me and Faith Of The Heart. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

York Musical Theatre Company singers Cat Foster, left, Richard Bayton, Helen Spencer, John Haigh, Henrietta Linnemann and Rachel Higgs step out for Hooray For Hollywood

Escapist nostalgia of the week: York Musical Theatre in Hooray For Hollywood, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm

DEVISED by director Paul Laidlaw, York Musical Theatre Company’s Hooray For Hollywood celebrates songs from Tinseltown’s golden age of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. No

Laidlaw’s slick and sophisticated six-hander show stars Cat Foster, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann, Helen Spencer, Richard Bayton and John Haigh, who will be evoking the days of Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. Box office: josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.

The tour poster for No Such Thing As A Fish, full to the gills with facts at the Grand Opera House, York

Podcast transfer of the week: No Such Thing As A Fish, Nerd Immunity, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm

SUITABLE for “anyone with a thirst for knowledge, a taste for puns and a need for belly-laughs”, the weekly British podcast series No Such Thing As A Fish is presented by the geeky researchers behind the BBC Two panel game QI: James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber.

Now, “the QI elves” are on their first tour since 2019, revealing favourite unbelievable facts in their Nerd Immunity live show. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Ash Hunter as Heathcliff and Lucy McCormick as Cathy in Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights at York Theatre Royal

World premiere of the week in York: Emma Rice’s Wise Children in Wuthering Heights, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to November 20

EMMA Rice’s Wise Children teams up with the National Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Bristol Old Vic for Rice’s folk musical, robustly visual account of Emily Bronte’s Yorkshire moorland novel.

Lucy McCormick plays Cathy in this epic story of love, revenge and redemption, now infused, according to the Guardian review, with “unfaithful storytelling”, pastiche, comedy and a “raging camp” tone. Interesting! Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Close, but no cigar: Omid Djalili takes the mic in The Good Times

What better time for The Good Times: Omid Djalili, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 8pm

AFTER experimenting with a Zoom gig where he was muted by 639 people, British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Omid Djalili is back where he belongs:  bringing The Good Times to the stage.

Expect intelligent, provocative, fast-talking, boundlessly energetic comedic outbursts rooted in cultural observations, wherein Djalili explores the diversity of modern Britain. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Kristin Hersh: Electric lady lands in York next spring

Newly confirmed for 2022: Kristin Hersh Electric Trio, The Crescent, York, April 24, 7.30pm

THROWING Muses co-founder Kristin Hersh will return to The Crescent with her Electric Trio, featuring Throwing Muses bass player Fred Abong and drummer Rob Ahlers, from her other band, 50 Foot Wave.

In store is a loud, tight and intense set of material spread across singer and multi-instrumentalist Hersh’s 30-year career that saw Throwing Muses deliver their latest indie rock album, Sun Racket, in September 2020. Ahlers will open the gig in a solo showcase for his album Yellow Throat. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Hollie McNish: Sold-out Say Owt gig on Wednesday

Recommended but sold out already:

SOUL singer Gabrielle’s Rise Again Tour show at York Barbican on Wednesday; poet and author Hollie McNish, hosted by York’s spoken-word crew Say Owt, at The Crescent, York, on Wednesday.

Kevin Poeung as Merlin in Northern Ballet’s Merlin. Picture: Caroline Holden

World premiere of the week outside York: Northern Ballet in Merlin, Leeds Grand Theatre, Tuesday to November 20

OLIVIER Award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie makes his Northern Ballet debut with the epic adventure of Merlin, the world’s most famous sorcerer, who must discover how to master his magic to unite a warring kingdom. Cue heartbreak, humour and more than a little magic. 

McOnie is working with the Leeds company after choreographing King Kong on Broadway and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsheritagetheatres.com.

REVIEW, 10/11/2021: Northern Ballet in Merlin, Leeds Grand Theatre ***

DREW McOnie’s dazzling direction of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2016 whetted the appetite for his debut for fellow Leeds company Northern Ballet.

In his first full-length ballet, the Portsmouth-born Olivier Award winner applies his choreographic prowess to the world premiere of Merlin, an epic fantasy adventure, very definitely for a family audience, that would have benefited from being staged in the upcoming holiday season.

Merlin may be billed as “the world’s most famous sorcerer”, but the story that unfolds here needs recourse to Page 4 and 5 of the programme to peruse The Story – At A Glance to be assured wholly of who’s who and what’s what in what Northern Ballet artistic director David Nixon calls “this magical tale with a heart-warming family narrative”.

In a nutshell, “an otherworldly ritual brings with it two mighty Gods. Their union creates an orb that falls to earth and reveals a baby within: Merlin. A young Blacksmith (Minju Kang) finds this helpless child, adopting him in as her own.”

Hence the family appeal of a coming-of-age story with fleet-footed, nimble Kevin Poeung in the role of blossoming wizard Merlin discovering how to use his magical powers to unite the warring kingdom.

The importance of family – in this case Merlin being raised by a strong, principled single mum – provides the everyday beating heart of McOnie’s Merlin, albeit that power struggles and romance are the more obvious headline-making material here.

Northern Ballet go for the epic scale to excite younger audiences drawn to Harry Potter, Star Wars and the Tolkien films: cue sword fights, puppets for a smoke-billowing dragon and wild dogs, and an Excalibur that lights up in the manner of a Jedi lightsabre.

Colin Richmond’s golden set designs are spectacular, even magical, and of course there is magic in the show, but CharlesHutchPress did not find McOnie’s production wholly magical, despite the performances of Antoinette Brooks-Daw’s Morgan, Javier Torres’s Vortigern and Abigail Prudames’ Lady of the Lake.

McOnie has made his name in musical theatre, an artform that comes with narrative in song and book, but dance must fill in the gaps, and the storytelling is not this Merlin’s strongest suit, for all the zest of Grant Olding’s music and the panache of McOnie’s modern choreography, allied to classical steps.

Review by Charles Hutchinson

Hooray! York Musical Theatre Company cast raises a glass to Hollywood’s golden age ahead of Rowntree Theatre show

York Musical Theatre Company cast members Cat Foster, left, Henrietta Linnemann, John Haigh, Richard Bayton, Helen Spencer and Rachel Higgs dress the part for Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola in York

YORK Musical Theatre Company will offer escapism to Hollywood’s golden era after release from the pandemic lockdowns at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

The classic American cinema of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s will be explored in song in the slick and sophisticated six-hander Hooray For Hollywood! from November 8 to 10.

Devised and directed by Paul Laidlawthe piece was first staged at York Theatre Royal Studio in 2007, and now Laidlaw reignites his show with a cast of six – Richard Bayton, Cat Foster, John Haigh, Rachel Higgs, Henrietta Linnemann and Helen Spencer in a nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of a bygone era from the MGM, Warner Bros, RKO and Universal studios.

Richard Bayton, left, and John Haigh raise a glass to Hooray For Hollywood! at Nola

“Packed with a classic collection of love songs, torch songs and comic numbers, Hooray For Hollywood! covers iconic artists such as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to name just a few,” says Laidlaw, who recalls the premiere 14 years ago.

“We’ve actually performed the show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre before, as well as at the York Theatre Royal Studio. As we head into our 120th year next year, it felt right to be a bit nostalgic and look back at some of our original pieces that audiences loved and revive them for new audiences.

“We loved performing The World Goes ’Round a few years ago and this show has a similar feel in that it’s a small cast and is fast paced and slick but will take the audience on a magical musical journey.”

Cocktail time for York Musical Theatre Company cast members Rachel Higgs, left, Henrietta Linnemann, Cat Foster and Helen Spencer at Nola

In the lead up to next month’s performances, Laidlaw’s cast members have been Puttin’ on the Ritz in a photo-shoot at the Nola jazz restaurant and bar in Lendal, designed to evoke the glitz and glamour of vintage Hollywood.

“Housed in the old congregational chapel on Lendal, the gold, mirrored decor of Nola was the perfect setting as the cast of six brushed up their white tie, tails and top hats – so to speak! – and posed with martini glasses in the 1920s’ Art Deco atmosphere,” says publicity officer Anna Mitchelson. 

“Richard, Cat, John, Rachel, Henrietta and Helen are now deep into rehearsals for the show, learning intricate harmonies and weaving famous Hollywood melodies together in a unique and clever way.”

Tickets for the 7.30pm performances cost £15, £12 for age 18 and under, on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.