Popular shows ‘come home’ for anniversary celebrations

WE might still be hanging desperately on to summer, but that certainly hasn’t stopped us planning a few dates to look forward to in the coming months.

WE might still be hanging desperately on to summer, but that certainly hasn’t stopped us planning a few dates to look forward to in the coming months.

And The Customs House in South Shields, for one, is delighted that so many culture lovers are so keen to fill up their calendars.

Already the venue, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, is reporting record box office takings since the release of the new season’s ‘birthday’ programme.

“We have been overwhelmed by the sheer demand for tickets we have been experiencing since the brochure launched,” reports executive director Ray Spencer.

“It has been a record breaking period for ourselves and demand is still extremely high – it’s a great start to the 15th birthday celebrations.”

And, as part of the festivities, it has announced three “homecoming” shows to reflect, as we do on any birthday, on its cultural past.

Kicking off the fun is the traditional home-grown panto – with Ray and comedy partner Bob Stott in Sleeping Beauty this year, from December 2 to January 3, and already 9,000 tickets have been sold.

Then the hugely popular comedy Dirty Dusting, by North East playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, makes a return to the venue where the story of three female pensioners who set up a phone sex line first began.

Starring the original “Dirty Dusters” Helen Russell, Gwen Doran and Jean Southern, it will run for 14 performances from January 20-30.

Then from February 3-13, the 1998 hit musical The Machine Gunners, adapted by Jarrow-born playwright Tom Kelly from Robert Westall’s book, is back.

Featuring original music by John Miles, the show, which tells the story of a group of teenagers growing up on Tyneside during The Blitz, received four-star reviews when it was performed at the Edinburgh Festival.

Kelly will also be taking part in March’s show Talking Tom: a celebration of his humorous monologues accompanied by readings of his poetry. It can be seen from March 17- 20.

Ray said: “I am delighted that we have the chance to perform these three fantastic shows.

“Dirty Dusting and The Machine Gunners are two of the most successful we have ever produced and anyone who has seen Tom Kelly’s monologues before will know that Talking Tom is a must-see show.”

:: Tickets for all three ‘homecoming’ shows are now on sale now. To buy, or to find out what the current season has to offer, visit www.customshouse.co.uk or call (0191) 454-1234.

 

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