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Your guide to everything in North East

10 things: Stand-up, songs and theatre of war

Here we bring you a round-up of 10 of the best performers, musicians and cultural delights in the region

Comedian Frank Skinner
Comedian Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner: Man in a Suit, February 25, Newcastle City Hall, 0191 277 8030 or www.newcastlecityhall.org

Following a sell-out London run, comedy legend, TV presenter (and let’s not forget chart-topper) Frank Skinner brings his new show to Tyneside. Seven years since his last solo show, the now 56-year-old father-of-one, has finally grown up and is ready to let his army of fans see the results... although it’s a knocking bet there’ll still be a requisite measure of filth on the menu.

Gary Barlow: Since I Saw You Last, April 12, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, 0844 493 6666 or www.metroradioarena.co.uk

After the success of his first solo album in more the a decade, our latest national treasure is on the road to revel in it. Since I Saw You Last put the final piece in the jigsaw of the Take That lynchpin’s comeback following the storming return of the band, his popular stint as head X Factor judge and ever-increasing reputation as the go-to guy for national concerts of celebration.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, Sage Gateshead, 0191 443 4661 or www.sagegateshead.com

The 10th anniversary line-up for the largest under-one-roof festival outside London once again features myriad jazz talents from far and wide. The foursome of Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese, known as the Spring Quartet, make their first trip to the UK; the genre-defying Robert Glasper; jazz guitarists, Bill Frisell; and acclaimed composer Django Bates with his Belovèd Trio are just a few of the treats on offer over a very special weekend.

Tonight’s the Night, March 31 to April 5, Sunderland Empire, 0870 602 1130 or www.sunderlandempire.org.uk

The songs of Rod Stewart and the writing of Ben Elton converge in this hit musical comedy from the West End. With a career spanning five decades, the former is enjoying a new wave of popularity thanks to his acclaimed latest album, Time. But this show, set on the “means streets of Detroit” is all about the back catalogue, featuring the likes of Maggie May, Baby Jane, Hot Legs and Sailing.

Alan Davies: Little Victories, April 18, Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre, Newcastle, 0844 493 9999 or www.millvolvotynetheatre.co.uk

Comedian Alan Davies had spent a decade away from the stand up stage when he returned last year... and he obviously enjoyed himself. Back with a new show founded in the small triumphs in life, the star of Jonathan Creek and QI panel stalwart will be putting his storytelling and smartness to laughter-making use.

The Two Worlds of Charlie F, April 28 to May 3, Newcastle Theatre Royal, 08448 112121 or www.theatreroyal.co.uk

Winner of the 2012 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, The Two Worlds of Charlie F is performed by serving and veteran soldiers, and explores the effects of injury and its impact on others, before, during and after. The play was created after injured soldiers were encouraged to use theatre as part of their recovery process, which was the subject of BBC documentary Theatre of War.

Catch 22, April 20 to May 10, Northern Stage, 0191 230 5151 or www.northernstage.co.uk

More than 50 years after it was firts heard, Joseph Heller’s explosive, subversive, wild and funny story is undiminished. Northern Stage are producing the UK’s first touring production of the author’s dramatisation of his novel, first published in 1961. Set in the closing months of World War Two, bombardier Yossarian is trapped in the absurd world of an inescapable war.

Lorna Simpson, until June 22, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, www.balticmill.com

This first European retrospective presents more than 30 years of Brooklyn-born Lorna Simpson’s work across the media of photography, film, video, and drawing. Simpson became well-known in the mid-1980s for her conceptually rigorous and language driven large-scale works combining photographs and text. In the mid-1990s, she began creating large multi-panel photographs printed on felt, mostly accompanied by text panels indicating different locations and intimate encounters. In the last 15 years, she has turned to film and video works in which individuals engage in enigmatic conversations that seem to address the mysteries of both identity and desire. The exhibition also gathers a large group of watercolors Simpson has created since 2005.

STONE part of the AV Festival 14: Extraction, until May 17, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, 0191 561 1235 or www.ngca.co.uk

The combined talents of Yuri Ancarani, Vanessa Billy, Jimmie Durham and Maria Thereza Alves, Harun Farocki,Marie Lund, Dennis Oppenheim, Gabriel Orozco, Thiago Rocha Pitta and Thomas Sopwith make up this group exhibition – one of two thematic AV Festival shows, alongside METAL at mima. STONE asks us to look again at our relationship to the most basic and fundamental of building and working materials and explores the artists’ relationship to it as they re-examine the raw materials that create our experience of the world.

Incognito, April 3-5 (previews) and April 22 to May 3, Live Theatre, Newcastle, 0191 232 1232 or www.live.org.uk

Hot to trot writer Nick Payne, who won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play in 2012 for Constellations and has also penned The Same Deep Water As Me (Donmar Warehouse), Wanderlust (Royal Court) and If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at The Bush Theatre and in New York (starring Jake Gyllenhall) will preview and premiere his new play on Tyneside. Billed as “a dazzling play about what it means to be human” it is set across three times and locations: The 1955 autopsy of Albert Einstein in New Jersey; pioneering brain surgery in Bath in 1953; and present day London where a neuropsychologist is making choices that change her life.

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