Madness and Sugababes confirmed for York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend gigs on July 22 and 23

Madness this way lies: The Nutty Boys return to York Racecourse this summer

MADNESS are on course for the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend for the second time post-racing at the July 22 evening meeting.

Camden’s Nutty Boys last played the Knavesmire track in July 2010, and once more Suggs and co will roll out such ska-flavoured music-hall hits as Our House, One Step Beyond, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love, House Of Fun, Michael Caine, Wings Of A Dove, Night Boat To Cairo, My Girl, Driving In My Car, Tomorrow’s Just Another Day and Embarrassment.

The veteran London band – they formed in 1979 – have performed outdoors over the years at Glastonbury, Camp Bestival and their own Madstock Festivals and they took part in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

The second Music Showcase Weekend, immediately after the afternoon race card on July 23, will feature the original Sugababes line-up of Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena and Siobhán Donaghy. The London girl group last played York as long ago as 2003 with a line-up of Buchanan, Buena and Heidi Range at the Barbican Centre, as was.

Sugababes, who revived the trio of Buchanan, Buena and Donaghy in 2019, have six number ones to their name, placing them second only to the Spice Girls among British girl groups. Racegoers can expect chart-toppers Freak Like Me, Round Round, Hole In The Head, Push The Button, Walk This Way and About You Now, alongside cherry-picks from 20 more Top 40 hits such as Overload, Ugly, Red Dress, Girls and Get Sexy.

Sugababes: On track to play York Racecourse on July 23

Those booking now can take advantage of the early-bird and group rate deals on general admission tickets. To book, visit yorkracecourse.co.uk; admission to the main grandstand and paddock enclosure starts at £32 per person for a group of six and racegoers aged five to 17 enjoy a special rate of £10 (subject to limited availability). As well as free car parking, no booking fees apply.

On the course itself, the sporting action features seven races on both days, headlined by the Listed European Breeder’s Fund Lyric Stakes on the Friday and the Sky Bet York Stakes as Saturday’s six-figure centrepiece.

The race dates in late-July fall when the prevailing weather should further contribute to the positive steps made by the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Nevertheless, racegoers are offered a guaranteed refund in the event of Covid-related alterations, as well as the reassurance that all Covid-19 protocols applicable at the time will be followed.

James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship, says: “Everyone at the course is really excited that these magical racing and music events are scheduled to return. Bands that bring a smile to many faces, add in the spectacle of the racing itself, and we hope it will prove a summer weekend to savour.”

Please note, admission is not available on a concert-only basis; the gates will be closed at the time of the seventh and last race at both meetings.

There will not be a third race-day concert at York Racecourse this summer after the British Horseracing Authority removed that meeting from the 2022 calendar.

Drag diva Velma Celli to host Yorktoberfest Beer Necessities marquee shows at Kavesmire and Impossible York events

Velma Celli: York drag diva will be hosting Yorktoberfest and Impossible Drag Brunch entertainment in October

YORK drag diva deluxe Velma Celli is to host the Beer Necessities marquee entertainment at Yorktoberfest, York’s newly expanded beer festival on Knavesmire.

The fabulous cabaret creation of West End musical star Ian Stroughair will be on song on October 21 and October 28 to 31, with two sittings on the Saturday (30/10/2021), but is unavailable for the sessions on October 22 and 23.

Yorktoberfest will follow in the traditions of the first Oktoberfest staged in Munich in 1810, bringing beer, bratwurst and oompah to a giant Bavarian-styled beer tent in the Clocktower Enclosure at York Racecourse, complemented by a vintage funfair.

October 29 and 30 festival sessions have sold out already but tickets are available for other sessions at the new event run by North Yorkshire co-producers Johnny Cooper, chief executive officer of Coopers Marquees, and James Cundall, CEO of Jamboree Entertainment.

Billed as “the UK’s queen of vocal drag”, with diva devotees at New York and Australian clubs, the London Hippodrome and Edinburgh Fringe, Velma Celli will be joined in Yorktoberfest’s entertainment line-up by the New York Brass Band, from…York.

They will be stepping into the de rigueur Lederhosen and Dirndls to take on a new persona as the New York Oompah Brass Band. Expect thigh-slapping, foot-stomping Oktoberfest tunes to be added to their repertoire of feel-good disco classics. 

Dancing will be encouraged, as it has been for more than 200 years of Oktoberfests, aswill be the wearing of Lederhosen, Dirndls or any other fancy dress, with nightly competitions and prizes for the best dressed.

The poster for Velma Celli’s “Halloweenish” show, Equinox, at the Impossible York Wonderbar on October 15

The Bavarian Bar will serve authentic German beer, wines, prosecco and spirits or soft drinks for those who prefer not to “hop”. German-inspired food stalls will serve sausages, schnitzels and pretzels, plus vegan and vegetarian options.

Funfairs are an integral part of German Oktoberfests. Consequently, Yorktoberfest will have its own traditional funfair with thrills on the Dodgems, Twister, Speedway and Chair-o-Plane.

Tickets for Yorktoberfest are on sale through ticketsource.co.uk/yorktoberfest, priced at £15 per person for unreserved seating, a reserved table of six for £90 and a VIP table of six for £135, situated closest to the stage with table service. Please note, a booking fee applies; tickets also will be sold at the entrance, subject to availability.

Co-producer Johnny Cooper says: “We’re looking forward to seeing one of our biggest marquees at 160 metres long, installed on Knavesmire and themed with all things Bavarian, including a stage, bespoke thatched wooden barns, flags galore and generally everything needed for a great night out.”

Co-producer James Cundall adds: “We’re determined to bring events to York that people can enjoy after the long months of Covid restrictions, and with sessions selling out already, it seems there is demand for an autumn cheer-up event. 

“Yorktoberfest promises to be an evening of hearty fun, with beer, bands and bratwurst, not to mention a drag queen.  Dust off the fancy-dress outfits and come along!”

Meanwhile, now roosting back in York since the first lockdown, rather than in his adopted home of London, Velma Celli/Ian Stroughair has a diary filling up with engagements, ranging from the Pelton Arms in London (the pub used for exterior shots in Only Fools And Horses) to the Ian Stroughair Jazz Band’s jazz and blues gigs at Nola, the new York jazz restaurant at the former Rustique in Lendal; next up on October 5.

One for the future in York? Velma Celli in Aladdin Sane make-up for Irreplaceable, Velma’s David Bowie tribute show

After a summer and September on call to fill in for star turn Betty Legs Diamond at Funny Girls shows in Blackpool – where Ian/Velma trained, “watching Betty for 20 years” – Velma will be hosting her regular Impossible Drag Brunch slots at the Impossible York Wonderbar, in St Helen’s Square, on October 2, November 6 and December 4 at 12 noon and 2.30pm each Saturday afternoon, with a Christmas theme to the December shows.

In further Impossible York outings, look out for full-scale solo performances of The Velma Celli Show on October 15, November 19 and with a Christmas flavour on December 17, all at 7.30pm.

The October gig will be a “Halloweenish” version of Velma’s Equinox show, the one with “witches, creeps and freaks”. “I’ll be doing Hocus Pocus, I Put A Spell On You, Radiohead’s Creep, A Thousand Years from Twilight, and plenty more Halloween gore,” says Velma.

Coming up for Ian will be Velma Celli shows on Atlanta Cruises’ ships to Florida and Miami and, hopefully, but yet to be confirmed, a York performance of Ian/Velma’s new tribute show to David Bowie, Irreplaceable, with a three-piece band.

“I’ve only done it in Southampton so far, but I’m looking to do a small-scale performance in York,” says Ian. “I’m meeting York Stage director Nik Briggs – I played Fleshcreep in his York Stage panto, Jack And The Beanstalk, last winter – about the possibility of presenting the show here.”

Tickets for Velma Celli’s Impossible York shows are on sale via  impossibleyork.com/wonderbar

Back in that small car, big egos running rampant, podcasters Chalmers and Hutch set off to the Edinburgh Film Festival

Sign of the festival times in Edinburgh

GOOD to be back, good to be back. After a summer break, Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson resume their arts chat with reflections on their return to the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Did Graham’s day out among the 90,000 throng at Leeds Festival pass the test after all that Covid testing?

Verdicts too on Harrogate Theatre’s immersive play, Our Gate, and on British Sea Power’s name change in woke times can be heard in Episode 55 at: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/9127399 .

More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Re-grouped and refreshed, McFly are ready to rock York Racecourse gig on Saturday

McFly: McFlying out of the starting stalls at York Racecourse on Saturday

THE glorious summer weather may be on the downturn by the weekend, but McFly’s Danny Jones will be hoping for more clement conditions than on one past visit to North Yorkshire.

“When we played Dalby Forest [June 26 2009], if I remember right, there was a huge, thick fog all around us that night, and people at the back could hardly see a thing,” recalls the re-grouped London band’s lead guitarist and co-lead vocalist, ahead of Saturday’s post-racing concert at York Racecourse: their first show in 18 months.

McFly, the boy band formed in 2003 by Bolton-born Jones, Tom Fletcher, Dougie Poynter and Harry Judd, returned last year with album number six, Young Dumb Thrills, after a ten-year gap and a detour into boy-band supergroup McBusted.

Why “Young Dumb Thrills” when Danny, for example, is 35? “I think it’s partly about reminiscing, but you know what, we always say ‘what do we want to do, where do we want to go with our music’, just as we did when I was 17 when I moved down to London, and Dougie was 15, and we thought we knew it all,” he says.

“But when we-reformed and we were making the album, I said, ‘Guys, we’re still young; we could still be a young band starting out’.”

McFly’s Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones performing at the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend concert in July 2012

Danny never doubted McFly would return one day from their hiatus that began in 2016. “I knew it was never going to stop. We just needed a holiday; after 13 years you need a break, after 13 years of carnage, you really do, but this way we can come back for 15 more years,” he says.

In the boy-band 2000s, McFly flew to the pop peaks regularly, making chart history as the youngest ever band to have a debut album go straight to number one in the UK, when July 2004’s Room On The 3rd Floor beat The Beatles’ long-standing record, set with Please Please Me in March 1963.

They have chalked up seven number one singles and ten million album sales, and their high-energy York Racecourse set could parade 5 Colours In Their Hair, Obviously, That Girl, All About You, You’ve Got A Friend, I’ll Be OK, I Wanna Hold You, Don’t Stop Me Now, Please, Please, Star Girl, Baby’s Coming Back, Transylvania and One For The Radio.

Saturday’s set definitely will combine past and present, after their 2020 renaissance with the singles Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special from the number two-charting album Young Dumb Thrills.

They are busy recording again. “Young Dumb Thrills was more ‘one song is this, one song is that’ stylistically; it wasn’t sonically together, but now I’m finding the new album we’re working on is more collective sonically,” says Danny.

Bridegroom Danny Jones leaves St Mary’s Priory Church, Old Malton, on his wedding day after marrying Malton model Georgia Horsley in August 2014

“It’s still in the really early stages. We’ve built this amazing studio in West London, where we used to rehearse downstairs, and after the business run by the guy who owned the building didn’t survive, we’ve taken over the rehearsal room to make a recording studio down there with a hang-out space upstairs.

“We’re working with friends and new people to find our new identity for the new record, and it’s kind of ’70s and ‘80s’ rock.”

Why draw on ’70s and ’80s rock, Danny? “We’re working on that line of ‘where do guitars belong in the pop world now?’, and we thought we should be influenced by pop bands who do ‘rock’ really well, like The Who and Oasis, because though we all have such different musical influences, we can agree to pull on Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Van Halen,” he says.

McFly, who had to forego playing Scarborough Open Air Theatre last July in the first Covid-crocked summer, will be returning to York Racecourse after their previous Music Showcase Weekend show in July 2012, having played York Barbican already that April.

Lancastrian Jones is no stranger to the Broad Acres of Yorkshire. “My sister Vicky lives in Leeds and my in-laws are in Malton,” he says.

Rick Astley: Opening the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend tomorrow evening post-racing

Should you need reminding, he is married to Malton model Georgia Horsley, a former Miss England, their wedding ceremony having been held at St Mary’s Priory Church, Old Malton, on August 2 2014.

Malton, of course, is synonymous with racing or, more precisely, racing stables. “Behind my in-laws’ house are the stables of a really well-known Irish trainer [although the name escaped Danny’s recollection,” he says. “I’d never seen a racehorse before or seen the veins on a horse close up. Amazing!”

Don’t bet on Danny having a bet on Saturday afternoon. “I’m just not a fan of losing!” he says, but McFly fans will be on to a winner. “You give them what they want. We’re not self-indulgent. If they’re not having a good time, we’re not having a good time, and vice versa.”

That rules out any colts bolting out from the latest studio sessions but guarantees plenty of favourites coming home triumphantly.

Rick Astley plays York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend tomorrow evening post-racing; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon, post-racing.

Tickets for these combined racing-and-concert events are on sale at yorkracecourse.co.uk. As well as free car parking, no booking fees apply, but please note, admission is not available on a concert-only basis; the gates will be closed at the time of the last race.

UPDATE: 24/7/2021 McFly arrive at York Racecourse, ready to play to more than 30,000 racegoers after the Saturday race card.

Copyright of The Press, York

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.

No resurrection for Jesus Christ Superstar after council ‘admin error’, but what next for unstoppable Bev Jones Music Company?

Bev Jones Music Company cast members gather at Rowntree Park last September

THE York version of The Masked Singer is coming to a head.

Bev Jones Music Company’s open-air production should have opened at Rowntree Park amphitheatre this afternoon but instead Jesus Christ Superstar has turned into Jesus Christ Supersnag – all because of masks.

In a nutshell, producer Lesley Jones was given an edict 12 days ago by City of York Council that Claire Pulpher’s cast of 27 must wear masks when singing to meet Covid regulations, not least Claire herself in the role of Mary.

Oh, and the not-for-profit York company would need to pay for professional security staff too for safety purposes, to stop anyone who had not booked from congregating on the periphery. Oh, and could the company provide portable lavatories too, please?

All this came via an email to Lesley from a Public Health Specialist Practitioner Advanced. “Whilst I have every sympathy with anyone trying to deliver an event, we can only give them the advice we have and cannot offer anything other than what the government guidance allows at the time of review,” the council apparatchik wrote.

“It is also worth noting that as this is a musical and involves singing, there is specific reference in the performing arts guidance to singing and the additional risks this poses in relation to Covid transmission. This is not currently considered in the Covid plan supplied by the organiser.”

The official cited an extract from the guidance “requiring the event organiser to pro-actively discourage activities which can create aerosol such as shouting, chanting and singing…as this is a popular musical can we be assured this will be realistic or achievable? Also wearing face coverings reduces the mass of aerosol expelled when singing, so masks should be worn during the event. Probably not possible?”

Probably not possible? Impossible, decided Lesley, as the additional costs would be prohibitive, and so, down the drain went many hours of rehearsals and hundreds of ticket sales for today’s 3pm show and tomorrow’s 2pm and 5pm performances that would need to be reimbursed (a task now being handled by the Joseph Rowntree Theatre box office).

And yet everything had been possible when Bev Jones Music Company staged the socially distanced Strictly Live In The Park on September 13 last year, same location, but no requirement to mask up the singers. Just as York Stage had been able to perform shows at the amphitheatre from August 23 to 25 (York Stage Musicals revue) and September 18 to 20 (Jukebox Divas).

When Lesley made the booking in February for the return to Rowntree Park, she planned the event in line with the council’s event management plans, requiring a Covid risk assessment and a health and safety assessment, plus contingency plans in the event of a terrorist attack or flooding.

Put in place were Covid testing for the cast; thermometer testing for cast, crew and public at each performance; ticket-only admission; the audience placed in socially distanced bubbles. The new normal, in other words.

The council’s later demands over masks and security came after its discussions with Public Health England and the Safety Advisory Group, but what was the difference this time?

City of York Council, in effect, made an admin error, as explained to Lesley Jones by Sarah Stoltz, the council’s director of public health, in an email on June 6. “One of my staff was asked by Trading Standards on 26th May 2021 to provide public health feedback to the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on the proposals for your event,” she wrote. 

“I must stress, here, that the feedback in the email was only intended to be shared with SAG members for them to consider this, along with all the other expert advice from members of SAG, e.g. North Yorkshire Police, so that SAG could make a decision on whether the event should go ahead and what mitigations might need to be in place.

“We are in stage 3 of the government roadmap out of lockdown and so it is entirely appropriate that SAG undertook due diligence on the safety of the event, as happens with all events across York.”

Here comes the crucial part: “But the email was never intended to be shared with you and it did not constitute public health advice to you personally as the organiser; it was feedback to SAG and members would have considered the appropriateness of this feedback in due course,” said the director.

“However, it was shared and unfortunately taken out of context. I understand how angry and frustrated you must have felt in receiving it and can only apologise for the distress this has caused you.”

The explanation came too late to resurrect Jesus Christ Superstar, alas. “We were given such restrictive regulations by City of York Council, we had no option but to pull the production,” says Lesley, who is launching a formal complaint.

Is there any good news for Bev Jones Music Company devotees, however? “I must tell you that an ‘angel’ has appeared in the form of Jamboree Entertainment, who have offered us their professional [Sounds In The Grounds] festival stage on June 24 as compensation, if we could put together a music event suitable for the venue,” says Lesley.

“Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we’ve taken on the challenge, resulting in the aptly named Strictly Unstoppable, featuring every member of the JCS cast in a new-style production for The Bev Jones Music Company with the emphasis on ‘an evening of fun with massive pop tracks to suit all, plus a beer wagon to help the atmosphere’.

“For those who love festivals, this will be popular, with numbers such as Boogie Shoes, Forget You, Uptown Funk, Sweet Caroline, a Whitney Houston song, Somebody To Love, Barcelona, to name a few, plus a smattering of show tunes from Chicago and The Rocky Horror Show and dozens more. We want the audience to get up in their social bubbles and dance.”

York Spring Fair & Food Festival opens at York Racecourse for Bank Holiday and half-term funfair rides, games and 40 stalls

Town Crier Ben Fry, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of York, Councillor Chris and Joy Cullen, and York Central MP Rachael Maskell at today’s opening ceremony. Picture: Lisa Stonehouse

YORK Spring Fair & Food Festival opened this morning in the Clocktower Enclosure at York Racecourse, Knavesmire, York.

The ribbon was cut by the new Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Chris Cullwick, his first of no doubt many event-opening ceremonies since taking up his office yesterday.

Town Crier Ben Fry heralded the occasion and York Central MP Rachael Maskell was in attendance too to mark English Tourism Week.

Running over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend and through the half-term break to June 6, York Spring Fair & Food Festival is the first major outdoor event to be held in York since the easing of Covid restrictions under Step 3 on May 17.

It represents the first outing this year for York funfair operators Coopers Marquees and for many of the food and drink traders.

The event is one of the largest vintage funfairs to be mounted in the north of England for many years, comprising nine adult rides (although many are suitable for all ages),four children-specific rides and five game stalls with prizes every time.

The traction engine and Gavioli organ have not been out for almost two years, unable to turn out at any events last year, and ordinarily they would have attended fairs during the spring but have had many cancellations once more. 

The traction engine was driven in under steam to open the event, with a competition winner, Connor Witty, and his grandfather, Roy Barber, aboard after the family had to shield during the pandemic.

Competition winner Connor Witty and grandfather Ray Barber on the traction engine at the inaugural York Spring Fair & Food Festival at York Racecourse. Picture: Lisa Stonehouse

For vintage funfair enthusiasts, several unique or rare restored rides are on site:

* The 1936 ‘Ark’ Speedway, one of only four working models in Britain;

* Hush Hush, the Monorail train, the oldest ride dating from 1933 and the largest of its kind, featuring 11 local stations on the old LNER line;

* The 1947 Muffin The Mule Autodrome, the last remaining ride of its ilk, still with its original Edwin Hall artwork;

* The 1937 Brooklands Dodgems, one of a very small number of speedway tracks themed on the famous Brooklands motor-racing circuit, featuring rare original artwork.

York Spring Fair & Food Festival has employed many people, their first job in the events industry for many months, and at long last it represents an opportunity to interact with the public.

This outdoor fair and festival is a Covid-compliant event for all ages, where the organisers are following all prevailing Government guidance on Covid-19: signage to remind visitors of one-metre social distancing; hand sanitisers at the entrance and funfair rides and stalls; regular cleaning of rides, stalls and picnic tables and visitors being advised to wear face coverings on funfair rides.

Two family-owned York companies, Cooper Marquees and Jamboree Entertainment, have joined forces to create this event, combining the vintage funfair and a food festival showcasing 40 artisan food and drink producers’ stalls from Yorkshire and beyond.

Connor Witty on a funfair ride at the York Spring Fair & Food Festival. Picture: Lisa Stonehouse

Co-producer Johnny Cooper, chief executive officer of Coopers Marquees, says: “It’s exciting to be able to put together a vintage funfair on a scale that hasn’t been seen in York for decades. 

“The rides are visually stunning with artwork going back almost 90 years.  There will be rides and game stalls for all ages, so it’s a great opportunity to get out and have fun in a Covid 19-compliant environment.”

Fellow co-producer James Cundall, CEO of Jamboree Entertainment, says: “As we emerge from the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdown, we are thrilled to be staging one of the first events in Yorkshire that will place the very best Yorkshire products before an audience hungry for an exciting day out.”

Coopers Marquees was established in the 1990s and is now Britain’s tenth-largest marquee company, supplying structures to  events large and small, such as food festivals.

Jamboree Entertainment brings 25 years of experience in producing live entertainment worldwide, and closer to home runs the Winter Wonderland ice rink and funfair, the upcoming season of Sounds In The Grounds concerts and the Great Ryedale Maze at Sherburn. 

The York Spring Fair & Food Festival is open daily from 10am to 6pm; admission is £3 for adults; children aged 12 and under, free. This excludes rides and game stalls, priced at £3 per person. 

From each admission charge, £1 will be donated to the New Building Fund of Ryedale Special Families, a charity that supports families with disabled children and young people.

Tickets are on sale at: ticketsource.co.uk/yorkspringfair. Booking in advance is recommended as numbers will be restricted under the Covid regulations. If unsold, tickets can be bought at the gate.

Rick Astley and McFly on track to play York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

Rick Astley: Biggest favourite of the summer at York Racecourse this season

NEVER gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, and sure enough, Eighties’ pop icon Rick Astley will play the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, albeit a year later than first planned.

Originally booked for July 25 last summer until Covid sent race days behind closed doors, Astley, 55, will take to the stage on July 23 after the Friday evening race card.

Less than 24 hours later, re-formed London boy band McFly will perform the second Music Showcase Weekend concert, post-afternoon racing, on their return to the racetrack where they first played in 2012. Like Astley, they had to forego a 2020 outdoor gig, in their case at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 21.

Newton-le-Willows crooner Astley is enjoying a career resurgence on the back of his 50th birthday-triggered album, the self-penned, chart-topping, platinum-selling 50 in 2016, after a decade-long hiatus, followed by Beautiful Life in 2018.

In 2019, he released a career-spanning compilation, The Best Of Me, a top-five success with 11 additional reimagined tracks and new single Every One Of Us. That year too, he undertook a 38-date stadium tour as special guest to Take That, playing to 500,000 people.

Showing his cross-genre appeal, Astley graced Reading Festival’s main stage to sing Never Gonna Give You Up with Dave Grohl’s rock band, Foo Fighters. Just before the pandemic, he toured Australia and New Zealand with a-ha.

Far from quiet during lockdown, he has amassed nearly two million YouTube followers with a series of Lockdown Covers from his home studio and become a major force on TikTok with 1.7 million followers, being selected as one of Louder’s top ten “must follow” artists on the digital platform.

During this time, he has supported the NHS publicly support and has organised free concerts for NHS staff at this October’s upcoming UK arena tour.

His July 23 set will be built around such Astley favourites as Never Gonna Give You Up, Whenever You Need Somebody, Together Forever, When I Fall in Love, She Wants To Dance With Me and Cry For Help. 

McFly: Back on track at York Racecourse this summer after first playing there in 2012

In their early-evening Saturday show, McFly will combine past and present, drawing on songs from their six studio albums.

Last year, after a ten-year gap and a detour into boy-band supergroup McBusted, the familiar McFly line-up of Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter and Harry Judd returned with Young Dumb Thrills, charting at number two.

The singles Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special received BBC Radio 2  airplay and the band played on Britain’s Got Talent, The Graham Norton Show and and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, as well as making their own ITV1 documentary about their hiatus, All About Us.

Formed in 2003, McFly became the youngest ever band to have a debut album go straight to number one in the UK, when July 2004’s Room On The 3rd Floor beat The Beatles’ long-standing record, set with Please Please Me in March 1963.

McFly have chalked up seven number one singles and ten million album sales, and their high-energy York Racecourse set could parade 5 Colours In Their Hair, Obviously, That Girl, All About You, You’ve Got A Friend, I’ll Be OK, I Wanna Hold You, Don’t Stop Me Now,  Please, Please, Star Girl, Baby’s Coming Back, Transylvania and One For The Radio.

McFly last played live in November 2019 in a stand-alone show, One Night Only, at the London O2 Arena to mark their re-formation.

Tickets for the Music Showcase Weekend combined racing-and-concert events are on sale at yorkracecourse.co.uk. As well as free car parking, no booking fees apply, but please note, admission is not available on a concert-only basis; the gates will be closed at the time of the last race.

The dates in late-July fall well after the scheduled “Step 4 of the roadmap” on June 21, so York Racecourse is taking a “positive approach to the occasion”.

However, “given both the circumstances and that operating details for large venues are still awaited from Government, racegoers are offered a guaranteed refund in the event of Covid-related alterations, as well as the reassurance that all Covid-19 protocols that are applicable at the time of the event, will be followed,” York Racecourse states.

James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship, says: “Everyone at the course is really excited that these magical racing and music events are scheduled to return. With a northern boy set to play, then a band that bring a smile to many faces, add in the spectacle of the racing itself and we hope it will prove a summer weekend to savour.”

Beer, bratwurst, Bavarian dress code, brass band and funfairs bound for Yorktoberfest

BEER, bratwurst and all things Bavarian are on course for York Racecourse this autumn at the debut Yorktoberfest.

Mounted by James Cundall’s Jamboree Entertainment and Johnny Cooper’s Coopers Marquees, the October 28 to 31 event will follow the traditions of the first Oktoberfest, staged in Munich in 1810, where citizens were encouraged to eat, drink and be merry at the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and his princess bride.  

So much fun was had that an annual tradition was born…and now residents of York and beyond will be invited to “eat, drink and be merry-go-round” at the Clocktower Enclosure on Knavesmire, where a giant Bavarian-styled beer tent and traditional funfair will set a festive scene.

Inside the marquee, authentic German beer and a range of German-inspired food will be served at an array of tables and benches, while York’s own Oompah Brass Band will add to the hearty fun with their “thigh-slapping, foot-stomping, feel-good music”.  

Dancing is encouraged, as it has been at such gatherings for more than 200 years, as is the wearing of Lederhosen [traditional Bavarian men’s short trousers], Dirndls [Bavarian women’s rural domestic clothing, made from grey or coloured linen, sometimes with leather bodice and trim] or any other fancy dress, with nightly competitions and prizes for the best dressed.

Prost! Friends drinking together Bavarian beer in national costume or Dirndl at Oktoberfest. Likewise, fancy dressing German-style will be encouraged at Yorktoberfest

The Bavarian Bar also will serve wines, prosecco, spirits and soft drinks for those who prefer not to ‘hop’. A variety of food stalls will provide such essential favourites as sausages, schnitzels and pretzels, as well as vegan and vegetarian options.

Funfairs are integral to German Oktoberfests, and so Yorktoberfest will have its own traditional funfair, with Dodgems, Twister, Speedway and Chair-o-Plane delivering thrills

Yorktoberfest will have a limited capacity, with specific opening times: October 28 and 29,  7pm to 11pm; two sittings on October 30, 1pm to 5pm and 7pm to 11pm, and one sitting on October 31, 1pm to 5pm.

Tickets for Yorktoberfest are newly on sale at ticketsource.co.uk/yorktoberfest, priced at £15 per person for unreserved seating; £90 for a reserved table of six, and £135 for a VIP table of six, situated closest to the stage and with table service. An Early Beer(d) offer of £5 off per person is available on all ticket categories until July 31. Tickets will be on sale at the entrance too, subject to availability.

Yorktoberfest is produced by CMJ Events, a joint venture between the two York family-owned companies of Jamboree Entertainment and Coopers Marquees. CMJ Events will be bringing the York Spring Fair & Food Festival to the Clocktower Enclosure at York Racecourse from May 28 to June 6, as well as Sounds In The Grounds concerts by Beyond The Barricade, Abba Mania and A Country Night In Nashville from June 25 to 27, again at the Clocktower Enclosure.  

Super troupers: Abba Mania will play at the Sounds In The Grounds concert at York Racecourse on June 26

Welburn producer James Cundall’s Jamboree Entertainment team brings 25 years of experience in producing live entertainment worldwide, and closer to home produces Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland ice rink and funfair, Sounds In The Grounds concerts at five venues around England and The Great Ryedale Maze at Sherburn.

Cundall also presented Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre on the Castle car park pop-up Elizabethan theatre site in York in 2018 and 2019.

Coopers Marquees was established in the 1990s and is now the tenth largest marquee company in Great Britain, supplying a range of structures to events large and small.

Co-producer Cundall, chief executive of Jamboree Entertainment says: “We’re determined to bring events to York that people can enjoy after the long months of Covid restrictions. Yorktoberfest promises to be an evening of jollity, with beer, bands, and bratwurst. Dust off the fancy-dress outfits and come along!”

Co-producer  Cooper, CEO of Coopers Marquees, says: “We’re looking forward to seeing one of our biggest marquees, at 160m long, installed on Knavesmire and themed with all things Bavarian, including a stage, bespoke thatched wooden barns, flags galore and generally everything needed for a great night out.”

Yorktoberfest will conform to all prevailing Government guidelines regarding Covid-19.