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Mar 15th


By Cameron Lowe
Review by Graham Clark

Hairspray the MusicalIt was an appointment not to be missed as this uplifting and entertaining musical rolled into Bradford. The musical is set in Baltimore in 1962 and the theme is” Integration, not Segregation” as the story does have an important message about civil rights in the early sixties in America.

The story starts off with Tracy Turnblad (portrayed superbly by Freya Sutton) looking like a (larger) Sixties version of Katy Perry.  She is talent spotted on the TV programme, The Corny Collins Show. The show is a glossy affair but all the people who are on the show are middle class white Americans with the black youngsters dancing at the back; that is until Tracy speaks out for racial integration.

Mark BentonTracey’s mother, Edna is played with passion by Mark Benton who could pass for a good pantomime dame. It is a role that Michael Ball has played in the past and it is one that has to be played with comedy. Benton pulls it off easily.

Lucy Benjamin played a larger than life performance as Velma Von Tussle, the over powering mother who tries to get her daughter Amber (Gemma Sutton) crowned Miss Hairspray.

There was even a mock Supremes trio in the musical, dressed in red sparkly dresses who sang Welcome to the 60’s as girl trio, The Dynamites.

Sadly X Factor contestant Marcus Collins was too ill to perform but understudy Fela Lufadeju played a strong performance as Seaweed J Stubbs.
Sandra Marvin (Motormouth Maybelle) has a powerful voice and this is witnessed on I Know Where I’ve Been, when the voice you are hearing could easily give the likes of Beyonce a run for her money.

With Tracy winning on two counts; winning the contest of Miss Hairspray 1962 and winning the right to get black people on to the Corny Collins Show, the musical does have an uplifting feel about it, albeit with an important social message. The songs may not be well known but when you hear them they sound like your old favourites. The show ended to a standing ovation as the energetic cast danced and sang to You Can’t Stop The Beat.

A feel good show that put some colour and energy back into what would otherwise have been a dreary winter’s night. Definitely a show to go out of your way to see.


12 - 23 March 2013
Alhambra Theatre

Tickets £19.50 - £45.00

Mar 13th

The Great Gatsby - Sheffield Tue 12 - Sat 16th March - Review by Melanie Creaser

By Paul Tyree


The Great Gatsby - Review by Melanie Creaser

Artistic Director David Nixon’s adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is the Northern Ballet Theatre’s latest foray into literature through dance. 

Can this iconic novel of the Jazz Age with its exceptional dialogue and narration be convincingly adapted to ballet?  It is truly a challenge to perform this piece and provide sufficient insight into the lives, loves and neuroses of the characters without resorting to the spoken word.

            The opening scenes bode well and draw one in pleasingly, helped along by skilful lighting and stylish costumes.  The action jumps around a little as we are introduced to the main players in quick succession.  Seamless scene changes keep things on track.  As the performance progresses the dancers are delightfully exhilarating in their finery as they portray the dapper and flapper types of 1920s high society and wannabes. 

            The younger Gatsby and Daisy are shown often as memories at various stages in the performance.  This informs the audience of their past involvement but fails to offer a true understanding of Gatsby’s utter dedication to recreating his lost love affair and his single minded determination to become whatever he needs to be in order to take Daisy and make her his future.  

The sets are sometimes sparse but still impressive.  A sense of opulence when it is required is created more by costume and lighting than background.   There is a fitting dank and stark environment when it comes to Wilson’s garage, his wife Myrtle being the mistress of Daisy’s husband Tom, suitably aggressively portrayed by Kenneth Tindall.  Victoria Sibson as Myrtle provides the necessary contrast to Daisy with great success, indeed she and her stage husband Benjamin Mitchell as Wilson excel and rightly receive the warmest response from the audience.

            The 1920s Gatsby fails to make his presence felt. He is an enigmatic character to his party-going hangers-on but the audience needs to know him.  The choreography does not truly inform us of his inner turmoil, obsession and dedication to success, both financially and in terms of regaining his lost love.  We are shown that some of his dealings may have been less than above board but do not gain an understanding of why he feels he had to rise to the top.   

Regardless of any reservations the first half races by.  The largely classically acted ballet is beautiful, the performance absorbing.

            As the action intensifies during the second half, the dance remains compelling and passionate but it just isn’t enough without speech to adequately express the subtleties of Fitzgerald’s work.  Too many characters and nuances of the novel are missing.  With a work as short as The Great Gatsby everything is relevant and so omissions, although inevitable are bound to reflect on the quality of the story telling.

            Martha Leebolt is delightful as the adult Daisy.  Her acting as well as her dancing is captivating.  The problem is that what she is being asked to portray is simply not the Daisy of the novel.  Yes, she is a much maligned wife but she is also shallow and self-serving.  The audience should, but does not, suspect what Gatsby is unwilling to see, that she will always remain in the fold – Myrtle, Wilson and even ultimately, Gatsby being collateral damage.  It is a loss to the production that it fails to inform. 

The choreography afforded to Tobias Batley as Gatsby struggles to allow us to truly appreciate him.  The novel is called The Great Gatsby for a reason.  As Nick reflects at the end of the novel, Gatsby to him is the untainted character; Tom and Daisy are careless people.  He has nothing but disdain for them.  These reflections are significant but are omitted.  

            The individual’s response to this ballet depends on whether the quality of the ballet or success in relaying the intricacies of the plot is of more importance.  The dance, grace, costumes and the general feel the players create is truly engaging. However, due to a lack of the spoken word and shortcomings in the adaptation itself, the power of Gatsby’s dream and the reality which could not live up to it is not adequately expressed. 

Ultimately, although frustratingly untrue to some of the characters, as a story ballet for its own sake this production is skilful, graceful and utterly enjoyable.

Review by Melanie Creaser

Wed 13 Mar 7:45pm     Book Tickets
Thu 14 Mar 2:00pm     Book Tickets
Thu 14 Mar 7:45pm     Book Tickets
Fri 15 Mar 7:45pm     Book Tickets
Sat 16 Mar 3:00pm     Book Tickets
Sat 16 Mar 7:45pm    

 This production performed at the Sheffield Lyceum venue.
Feb 11th

Bull,...Is the word in Sheffield!!

By Paul Tyree

                         BULL by Mike Bartlett

A Sheffield Theatres Production, Wed 6 – Sat 23 February

By Mike Bartlett

Presented at the Crucible Studio Theatre
Running time: aprox. 55 mins (no interval)

Bull at The Crucible StudioAt only 55mins long without an interval this is a play designed to be short, sharp, shocking and to hit the audience between the eyes. At £14 per ticket however, this had definitely be a pretty darn good 55 minutes of theatre otherwise you might feel a little short changed at end of the evening.

Undoubtedly this explains the stunt casting of four actors that you will recognise from their many appearances on television. Most recognisable is Adam James here giving us his trademark arrogant city boy which has featured in many tv appearances, most noticeably in ‘Hustle’. Sam Troughton plays a likeable but put upon character much like his character ‘Much’ in the latest incarnation of ‘Robin Hood’. As I write I’ve no doubt you will be under no illusions as to why I believe we should be congratulating the casting agents as much as we should the writer or director of this piece.

The Crucible studio has been transformed into the equivalent of a bear pit or gladiatorial arena, with much of the audience asked to stand around the side to increase the feeling of claustrophobia. Bull claims to be a play about office politics but heightened to such an extent as to be a metaphor for the nature of life. Whilst undoubtedly well acted and directed, it is neither well written enough as to stand as either metaphor for life, or even about office politics. It is, however, a show piece for how sharp dialogue and clever direction combined with first class acting can transport an audience into believing in something that actually, if they took a moment to sit and think about, they would be able to pretty quickly dismiss.

I’ve no doubt, if you ask most people leaving the studio if they liked this piece, they would say yes, and then if you asked them why, they would say it is because of how it made them feel. Many of them, for instance, would have had the female character in this cheerfully crucified. That is not to say, however that you should go and see this.

This is a scene. A very good scene, but without a heart or a purpose. It is not yet a play. At one point the destruction of Sam Troughton’s character is likened to natural selection, to Darwin, just survival of the fittest. Without wishing to hark on about how much the author has misunderstood Darwin, at the end we are left with a very well acted, directed and ultimately soulless, nasty little piece of theatre of very little redeeming value. It could, however, one day grow up to be a very good, visceral, exciting and moving play indeed. One day! Perhaps! But,…and it has to be said….not today!

It’s very cold in Sheffield at the moment. Snow on the ground. My advice…as they say on the news…only make that journey if it’s absolutely necessary. Remember….. Keep safe!!

They’re showing 2 episodes of Frasier in the morning on Channel 4. And it wont cost you £14 to watch those now will it. Love Frasier. Bloody well written. Damn well acted. Free…..Hurrah!!


Dec 24th

Interview with Alexander Wright, writer/producer of 'A Christmas Carol' by the Flanagan Collective, the Lamb and Lion, York

By Sue Casson

York-based Alexander Wright has ‘lovingly bastardised’ Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the Flanagan Collective’s interactive Christmas show at the Lamb and Lion, York (selected dates until December 30th). I caught up with him for a quick chat.

SC: So, what have you been up to?

AW: I run two theatre companies, Belt Up Theatre, resident at York Theatre Royal since 2009, and the Flanagan Collective, with whom I’ve adapted and produced ‘A Christmas Carol’. I’m also an Associate Artist at YTR. I’m mainly a playwright but people like us have to do everything! My play ‘The Boy James’ is currently touring America with Belt Up, I have two musicals touring in the spring, and a play called ‘The William Stories’ at London’s Polka Scrooge Screen shot 2011-12-16 at 16_02_58.pngTheatre. I was also Associate Director of the 2012 York Mystery plays, which were really wonderful to be part of. It was remarkable to see how much people cared, not necessarily for religious reasons, but because of the story, and the fact that these plays belong to the people of York. Many people had never been involved in theatre before. There was a remarkable community spirit that brought out the best in people. It was heartening to spend that much time with 1500 people. What a good chat with a great bunch of people can do is amazing, so it was very humbling to be part of. In theatre, you end up in your own little world, but I was thinking, ‘This is the first time you’ve ever acted and you’re learning my rules but you’re an incredibly successful barrister’. All those people from such rich, vibrant backgrounds in a room together – and they’re waiting for me to tell them what to do! Very peculiar. They were lovely. Lots of brilliant people.      

SC: Why ‘A Christmas Carol’?

AW: Thomas Bellerby, the director, and I were chatting over a pint in the Lamb and Lion (a historic pub nestling below York city walls, about a minute’s walk from YTR) about how lovely it is when people eat and drink together. In Soho, a lot of pubs and cafes have started advertising communal dining tables, so I thought that people might enjoy sitting down with others to eat and share an experience. The Lamb and Lion is a beautiful Victorian building, so ‘A Christmas Carol’ came up. Like the Mystery Plays, it’s a story that you know well but just kind of by osmosis. You think of Scrooge as a ‘Bah, humbugging’ miser, shouting at everyone for no good reason, but a very tender, sad story emerges as you begin to understand why he is like that, and his social difficulties in terms of his upbringing, his relationship with his family, what he hasn’t had. In the book, his finance rejects him, saying that his nature has changed and that he’s become fixated on monetary rather than romantic or friendship value. That’s very sad.

SC: Why did you decide to make it a highly interactive production?

AW: We wanted to spend time developing a forum whereby people could just have a lovely evening, laughing and entering into the spirit of the story. People are remarkable. Twenty strangers come together and are so generous towards each other, helping each other to food and mulled wine. It’s great to be a part of that. You feel you’ve made brief, passing friends. We’re at a party held by Marley at Scrooge’s house, which Scrooge, naturally, isn’t very happy about. We’ve done away with the spirits, but I don’t think anyone’s noticed, so that’s alright. Marley is the conduit for all three spirits, guiding Scrooge through his memories. The Ghost of Christmas Present is ourselves, as Scrooge watches us feasting, playing games, singing and having a great time. We can’t rehearse that, but it’s been going well, and the audience is great, playing along. That bit of the storytelling is just real - we don’t show five actors having a lovely meal together. The audience help each other, share a meal and talk, in the true Christmas spirit, which is lovely.

SC: Do you think that interactive theatre is the future?

AW: I’ve always found it very difficult to ignore an audience. It’s a very modern thing to pretend that you’re in the real world and that everyone in the dark isn’t real, which is why making work in pubs is great. People go to the theatre to watch a play and then leave, whereas they’ll happily spend two hours in the pub just because it’s a nice place to be, so making work in a pub is great. In ‘A Christmas Carol’, you’re part of the conceit, because you help Marley to cheer Scrooge up. People start to interact with him and really care about him. When Scrooge gets himself a minute bit of bread and cheese, people say, ‘Come on, Ebenezer! You can eat more than that!’, and he says, ’No, no, this is fine’. People will always make traditional theatre and  I’m not saying we should knock down the National (or should we?!), but I think it’s much more fun to be a part of something than to be presented with it, and just clap politely at the end. 

SC: Finally, why should people come and see ‘A Christmas Carol’?

AW: It’s just a lovely way to spend time. It has real heart to it, and that comes from the audience; it’s how much they give that makes it special. Christmas gives us a nice excuse to be openly generous. It isn’t about expensive presents, but about having a good time with others, so it’s lovely to make a play where people are at the centre. We’re not trying to present something clever or new, to smash anything down or make anyone cry. We’re just trying to do something genuine. The success of the evening is nothing to do with us. We just hope that people will leave having had a great time because of everyone in the room.  

Dec 20th

Cinderella - The Alhambra - Bradford


 Cinderella - Bradford Alhambra


With a fake snowstorm blowing outside the theatre doors and carol singers inside singing the old Wizard Christmas Hit, I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday, the atmosphere had been set for this lavish production of the most romantic and loved pantomimes, Cinderella.

Comedian, Billy Pearce seems to be part of the fittings and furniture at the Bradford Alhambra – this is his 14th pantomime appearance at the Alhambra.

Arriving on stage in a Segway his humour and wit was as quick as his entrance and he plays a brilliant part at Buttons: he could be Cinderella’s big brother.

The Ugly SistersThe ugly sisters, Nicole and Tulisa (Brian Godfrey and Ben Stock) looked like a cross between an explosion in a sweet factory and a paintball trip that had gone wrong such was their over the top colourful costumes. They even managed to make the Lady Gaga hit, Born This Way, sound like it had been written specially for them. They had some of the best lines in the pantomime too.

Lynda Bellingham glowed as the Fairy Godmother playing the part with a comic touch and adding some glamour to the show.

Brendan Sheerin make his entrance appropriately on a coach and played a superb part as Baron Hardup – he can dance too as witnessed with him dancing in a tutu with Buttons to the Bolero!

Cinderella's CoachBritain’s Got Talent was transformed into Bradford’s Got Talent with the ugly sisters watching from one of the theatre’s seating boxes. Of course Pearce won with the contest with a side splitting routine. 

The ugly sister’s pet spider, Webster appeared to grow in size every time he made an appearance; his final appearance was as a gigantic smoke-breathing beast which took over the stage. The special effects also included Buttons riding his motorcycle out over the heads of the audience, a fake snow storm over the audience and streamers cascading into the stalls. The special effects alone set this pantomime apart from other productions.

Afnan Iftikhar was captivating as Dandini and Christopher Drake and Hannah Grover sparkled as Prince Charming and Cinderella. All 3 had good singing voices.

The sketch where Buttons, the Fairy Godmother, Dandini and Baron Hardup sing the Twelve Days of Christmas was especially comical.

The panto moved at a fast pace holding everyone’s attention. With the dark winter nights and days ahead of us this show is the perfect pick me up to chase away any winter blues. It appears that Bradford has done it again with this entertaining and colourful family show.

Book Tickets
Runs until 3 February 2013

Dec 20th

My Fair Lady. The hottest ticket in Town!

By Paul Tyree


A Sheffield Theatres Production

My Fair Lady

Thu 13 December 2012 – Sat 26 January 2013

Presented at Crucible
Running time: 2 hours 55 mins (including an interval of 20 mins)  


As could be predicted because of the public’s affection for this show many of the nights are already sold out in Sheffield, so if you’re looking to see this then you may have to seize the moment very quickly indeed before it’s lost forever.

Having not seen every show in every theatre in the land I can’t say that this is definitively the best, but I can predict that it is probably in the top 1 per cent and can expect to be picking up many awards from theatre land in the near future.

All of the cast are amazing, (more on that later) but the star of this show is undoubtedly Daniel Evans, the director. Having fashioned the best Shakespeare seen in Sheffield in 30 years with Macbeth several months ago, this then is his crowning glory and an announcement that as a director he is one of the best currently working in the industry.

This is just as good as it gets in terms of how effortless great acting and singing can be made to seem and yet what we don’t see are the many arduous hours making it look effortless and that often starts with the director. Special mention must also go to Alistair David the choreographer as this truly does resemble a ballet of sorts in many passages, such is the grace and complexity of much of the dance numbers.

Dominic West as Professor Higgins is simply wonderful, making both the acting but more importantly the singing feel completely natural and born of the story rather than added on. He is also a more suitable and believable foil for Eliza than Rex Harrison in the film version ( and a far far better singer to boot). Indeed much of this production reminds you of how wonderful and immediate theatre is and whilst the film version is marvellous, this really does give you the sense of just how amazing the original production must have felt to audiences when it was originally presented.

Indeed this, in many respects betters the film – it really is that good.

Carly Bawden as Eliza sings and acts the role perfectly. There isn’t a note or indeed foot wrong. Her singing voice is as good, if not better, than the one they dubbed onto Audrey Hepburn in the film, and Anthony Calf (better known as the boss in New Tricks, the TV series) is absolutely fantastic as Colonel Pickering.

With that being said and whilst much praise should indeed go to the leads, the real stars of this show are all the other actors on stage that pick up and carry this production, taking many roles, moving scenery and just giving their all to make every other part of this show appear seamless and that is no mean thing. Without them, no matter how good the leads were, this show simply would not exist. And so it is to the complete company of My Fair Lady that I raise my glass to this Christmas for making the last show of the year that I’ll see, the best one of the year.

Many many thanks to you all and Merry Christmas to one and all.

Merry Christmas.

Thu 20 Dec 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Thu 20 Dec 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Fri 21 Dec 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Sat 22 Dec 2:30pm Captioned £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 22 Dec 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Mon 24 Dec 2:00pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Thu 27 Dec 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Thu 27 Dec 7:30pm   £30.00 Limited Availability
Fri 28 Dec 7:30pm   £30.00 Limited Availability
Sat 29 Dec 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 29 Dec 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Mon 31 Dec 2:00pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Wed 2 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Thu 3 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Thu 3 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Fri 4 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Sat 5 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 5 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Tue 8 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Wed 9 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Wed 9 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Thu 10 Jan 7:30pm Audio Described, Signed £25.00 Book Tickets
Fri 11 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Sat 12 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 12 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Tue 15 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Wed 16 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Wed 16 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Thu 17 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Fri 18 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Sat 19 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 19 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Tue 22 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Wed 23 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Wed 23 Jan 7:30pm   £25.00 Book Tickets
Thu 24 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Fri 25 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets
Sat 26 Jan 2:30pm   £20.00 Sold Out
Sat 26 Jan 7:30pm   £30.00 Book Tickets




The Crucible is the main producing venue in the Sheffield Theatres complex. On occasion, the Crucible hosts touring work. The Crucible is also the home of the annual World Snooker Championship.
The performance area is a thrust stage which extends into the auditorium, enabling the audience to watch the action on three sides. No member of the audience is ever further than 22 metres from the stage, and the sightlines are excellent, offering equality of experience across the auditorium.

  • 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA, South Yorkshire , United Kingdom
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000


Dec 17th

Robin Hood and his Merry Mam! York Theatre Royal

By Sue Casson

Vince Gray as Robin Hood and Berwick Kaler as Mrs Hattie Hood in Robin Hood and his Merry Mam! - Photo by Kippa Matthews.jpg

The UK’s longest-running dame, national (and particularly Yorkshire) treasure Berwick Kaler takes to the stage for his 33rd annual pantomime in York, based on the tale of Robin of Sherwood, a bright Christmas show for all ages.  The humour runs through the action like a deep vein of gold, often bordering on the surreal and absurd, and managing to strike exactly the right note with the audience, many of whom have been coming to see Berwick since childhood and now bring their own kids to delight in this annual feast of fun, laughter and music. Without patronising anyone, onstage or off, this production manages to be accessible to all ages. One feels at home, constantly amused, bewildered and surprised at the antics unfolding on stage. (Warning: some of the jokes are as bad as you get at home!)


Sian Howard as Lady Hamalot, Vince Gray as Robin Hood and the chorus in Robin Hood and his Merry Mam - Photo by Kippa Matthews.j

York Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director, Damian Cruden co-directs, expertly combining the strengths and team spirit of the ‘old-hands’ with bright, new talent, such as Musical Director Mike Turnbull. The professional chorus of six take full part in the action, playing the minor parts as well as engaging in energetic song and dance routines, and there is also a sub-chorus of children, who perform their role with great integrity and commitment, generously guided by the rest of the cast. What an amazing introduction to theatre, to share the stage with Berwick Kaler! Indeed, one of the ‘bairns’ from a few years ago has now returned as an adult member of the chorus. The main cast work together with enormous generosity, good humour and focus. Martin Barrass is back, fresh from his West-end stint in ‘One Man Two Guvnors’, to play Berwick’s son, Geoffrey Hood, and the two form a perfectly synchronised double-act born of years of working in close harmony. Suzy Cooper is simply delightful as Maid Marian, a superb all-rounder, and Siān Howard’s witty vivacity shines through. Vincent Gray is a striking, engaging Robin Hood, and AJ Powell, as Ice Blondel, a lovable, endearing Brummie, but in fact the roles don’t matter, or even the plot, which swiftly descends into chaos. Even those on stage don’t even seem to be fully following what’s going on amidst the comic mayhem, except perhaps Berwick, at moments, who writes, co-directs and stars in it! Confusion is a great leveller and the thing is simply to sit back and enjoy this crazy spectacle. It’s not about following what’s going on – it’s about enjoying what is happening from moment to moment.

Suzy Cooper as The Maid Marian in Robin Hood and his Merry Mam! - photo by Kippa Matthews.jpg

With bright, colourful sets, rousing music, a warm rapport with the audience and lines like ‘Don’t bury me at sea – I can’t swim!’, this is a wonderful Christmas show for all the family, in which carrots take on an inexplicably prominent role. In this ‘little local pantomime’, the technical hitches become an integral part of the fun, and Berwick is the jewel in Britain’s panto crown. It is mesmerising to watch his relaxed, generous performance as he leads the audience and his often bewildered cast through a joyful evening of fun, laughter and downright silliness. At one point amidst the slapstick, Berwick cries ‘Remind me, son, what panto are we doing this year?’, and amidst the hilarity, sing-a-long, jokes and capers, it really doesn’t matter.  

Robin Hood and his Merry Mam! is on at York Theatre Royal until 2nd February. Box Office: 01904 623568

Dec 17th

A Christmas Carol

By Sue Casson

This exciting new adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale by Alexander Wright (York Mystery Plays 2012, Beulah, The Boy James) presents scenes from Scrooge’s life, while also giving us a chance to speak to him, offer him food and drink, and try to cheer him up. This interactive performance takes inventive liberties with the original to create an intimate, witty and totally involving experience, in which we, as the audience, become the happy, feasting spirits of Christmas present, unnerving Scrooge and ultimately seeking to transform him.


A Christmas CarolThis site-specific, immersive production, set in the Top Parlour Room of the Lamb and Lion Inn (a beautiful, historic pub, nestling under York city walls), enables us, uninvited, to spend a jolly evening with Dickens’ notorious miser at his house on Christmas Eve. Using intense dramatic moments, feasting, drinking and games to create a combination of a family party, a shared meal and participatory storytelling, the Flanagan Collective hosts a wonderful, unpredictable evening, involving lots of laughter and live music. John Holt Roberts, as the Spirits of Christmas, guides our mission to shake Scrooge from his gloom, sweeping us along with great energy, good humour and hearty Christmas songs, and occasionally calling on us to help him tell the story of how the cantankerous old miser got that way. Ed Wren meanwhile is an endearingly recalcitrant Scrooge, pitching his performance perfectly. Children will certainly enjoy the challenge of trying to cheer him up! Both actors work in close harmony, skillfully leading us to a deeply satisfying, heart-warming climax.


Director Tom Bellerby (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Beulah) generously hands over a large proportion of the drama to the audience, allowing them to guide what happens to Scrooge, and this brave production takes lots of risks, admirably pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre, but never too far. The delicious food and drink are deeply integrated into the action to form a communal Christmas feast as the centrepiece, and the audience’s usual discussion and taking of refreshments, that would normally occur at the interval, flow seamlessly into the main fabric of the drama, feeding back directly into what happens in the story. You feel fully part of the drama, and that you can actually make a difference to what happens.


Although the concept of audience participation strikes fear into the heart of many, in such expert hands it works brilliantly, and everyone can join in as much or as little as they wish, in a warm, relaxed, family atmosphere. Being suitable for ages 8 upwards, this is an excellent show for the whole family, and the intimate, candle-lit setting creates a strong sense of being at home, while in the heart of the city. With only 20 tickets per show, including festive food and drink, this is a deeply nourishing evening in every sense, leaving us with a lovely chock-a-bloc, relaxed, Christmassy feeling. It offers us, like Scrooge, a brief pause in which to spend time with others, soften up, relax and recall the true meaning of Christmas. What more could you ask for?


The Lamb and Lion Inn is at 2-4 High Petergate York YO1 7EH (01904 612078)

15th-30th Dec, £25. (not 17th, 24th, 25th, 26th)
Show include some hearty Christmas food and a drop of whatever Marley has in his flagon.

Dec 14th

RAPUNZEL at The Crucible Studio

By Cameron Lowe

tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal  (Review by Paul Tyree)

Wed 12 December 2012 – Sat 5 January 2013


Tutti Frutti productions in association with York Theatre Royal bring their new take on Rapunzel for young children to Crucible’s Studio. With three actors and minimal sets, but with wonderfully open acting and stylized movements, this adaptation not only brings the story to life it also shows how great theatre for children need not cost the earth.

Exploring themes not normally associated with Rapunzel this takes the traditional reading of the witch stealing a baby and locking her in a tower redundant. Instead we have a grandmother that simply fears the loneliness of losing the one other person in the world that she cares about. Indeed here it is Rapunzel herself in this version that encourages the building of the tower in order that she might see further away, as far as the eye can see. Her enquiring mind ultimately leading to the inevitable desire to leave home and explore the world that the grandmother so fears.

Mike Kenny’s script is lyrical and mesmerising, and Wendy Harris’s direction has combined with a team of actors to create a method of storytelling that kept even the youngest of children in the audience transfixed. And that truly is the test of this sort of theatre, can you keep the young ones from drifting off, from talking, from being confused or just simply bored. And this production achieved that seemingly with consummate ease, although it must have taken a huge amount of work.

Linking words with a stylised dance style the three actors were always in movement, always giving the children something to watch, but it was never done for its own sake, it always had purpose, calm and felt more akin to some martial art than dance itself.

There were also original songs which felt fresh but also poignant and truly served the story.

And finally the three actors were all marvellous. Gayle Newbolt plays Rapunzel throughout many different ages and manages to capture them all with aplomb. Hers is truly a wonderful performance. Selina Zaza is also fantastic as Nan and really convinces as an old woman, even though she is really very young indeed. There is an aching quality to her performance that in a sense allows the audience to see what this play is really about and that is the loneliness that occurs when children grow up and move on. Max Gallagher as Rafi is our storyteller, love interest and holder of the moon. On at least two separate occasions he traverses the stage with a light encased in a spherical shade to represent the moon, and one of the young people behind me said “He must be really strong”. (And I’m pretty sure they weren’t being ironic – four year olds rarely are). He too is incredibly engaging and so this production not only has the best in terms of writing and directing but has assembled a wonderful cast as well.

As a treat for your youngest at Christmas time, you really couldn’t do much better than to take them to this.


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Located within the Crucible building, the Studio Theatre has a flexible design allowing the seating to be adjusted to play on one, two or three sides or in the round. Seating in the Studio is unreserved.
The Studio hosts a mix of small-scale in-house and touring productions, as well as hosting the acclaimed Ensemble 360's tri-annual Music in the Round Festival.  

  • 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000


Dec 12th

Cinders in Sheffield

By Paul Tyree



Fri 7 December 2012 – Sun 6 January 2013

Presented at Lyceum
Running time: 2 hours 25 mins (including an interval of 20 mins)

The best Panto ever? Oh yes it is! Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes….. you get the idea…..and yes it probably is!

Sure to take Sheffield by storm the latest Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantos production is by far and away the best panto that I’ve ever seen. All of the audience were buzzing with the excitement of seeing a panto that was not only truly funny but graced by some fantastic performances and truly wonderful special effects. Everyone had the most marvellous time and you could see how much the performers were enjoying it too.

Damian Williams, fast becoming a theatre great, was the true star as Buttons and dare I say even better here than his normal star turn as the Dame. Seemingly channelling Tommy Cooper he steered the evening towards heights very rarely hit before by Panto. Jonathan Ansell of G4 fame was surprisingly effective and his voice was magnificent throughout as was Kate Quinell’s as Cinderella.

In fact all of the cast were magnificent and truly pushed themselves to give us the best night possible. Writer Director Paul Hendy should therefore be truly proud of this production. The gags were fresh and topical, we even had a Gangham style number which was hilarious.

My daughter also said it was the best panto she’d ever seen and even at the tender age of 9 she is a bit of a seasoned panto watcher so that’s compliment indeed.

If you can take your children to any panto this year I would advise you to make it this one. In these dark depressing times of austerity this is worth its weight in gold.

Until Sunday 6 January 2013 Book Tickets


The Lyceum plays host to a huge variety of touring productions every year, including large-scale musicals, drama, children’s shows, opera, ballet and contemporary dance.
With over 1000 seats, the Lyceum is a beautiful late 19th Century building located on Tudor Square, close to the Crucible Theatre.

  • 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000