It always struck me as a bit sad that when Joe McElderry returned to his old Customs House stomping ground as the winner of The X Factor in 2009, he wasn’t allowed to belt out a song for the cheering pantomime crowd he was smiling for.
Such is the strait jacket nature of a Simon Cowell contract. Boo to that.
Anyway, now free from the shackles of his talent show rise to fame, the 22-year-old has booked a trio of gigs at the South Shields venue. So there.
The concerts, which make up part of Joe’s 2014 tour and will take place on March 22 and 23 (there’s a matinee performance on the latter), also serve as some of the many treats the Customs House is serving up in 2014.
A diverse programme features music to please you no matter what your preference, original and adapted plays, dance shows, comedy for all and let’s not forget Sing-a-Long-a Grease. There are also many one-off performances which may entice a new audience to the popular venue.
On January 28, one day after Holocaust Memorial Day, 91-year-old Zdenka Fantlova will tell the amazing true story of how she survived six concentration camps and put her life at further risk to hold on to the tin engagement ring given to her by her first love, who sadly did not survive.
In a testament to the programme’s eclectic nature, a few days later, audiences will get to see LDN Wrestling on January 31 before getting all nostalgic for the aforementioned Sing-a-Long-a Grease on February 1.
On March 9 retired murder squad detective Trevor Marriott will delve into The World’s Worst Serial Killers, while The Bobby Thompson Story will bring the ‘Little Waster’ to life on March 20. Another one-night stand comes from BBC Radio’s Stuart Maconie, who will be dropping in to discuss The People’s Songs on March 29.
Staying with the music, there will be a steady stream of award-winning tribute bands strutting the stuff of their idols including Limehouse Lizzy, The Billy Fury Years, Jersey Boys and Four Seasons tribute Ragdolls, Abba Reunion, The Buddy Holly Story, T-Rextasy, and Classic Clapton.
And as well as the regular band night Second Tuesday, Brit award-winning harmony group Blake will be coming to South Shields as part of their biggest tour for seven years.
The season’s drama offering kicks off on January 23 with an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and gets into its stride in February with Tea with the Old Queen, on February 6; Away from Home, which explores homosexuality in football on February 13; the hard hitting piece of new writing Weather to Fly on February 15; and the touching comedy adventure Finding Joy on February 21 and 22.
Later, Michael Chaplin’s Tyne will enjoy a run from February 26 to March 1 while Timeless Theatre offer a trip down memory lane in its show All Our Yesterdays from April 8 to 10.
For the children there’ll be The Girl and the Unicorn during February half term (featuring the unicorn from the latest panto); a retelling of Goldilocks in Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair? on March 29; and CBeebies favourites Chris and Poi and all their wacky characters on April 12.
For dance fans there is contemporary dance from James Wilton in Last Man Standing on February 8, and on the horizon there’s ballet The Little Mermaid on May 31 and An Evening with the Stars of Strictly Come Dancing with Pasha and Katya on June 7.
New comedy night The Comedy House takes place in February, March and April and features comedians such as Hebburn’s Jason Cook and Steffen Peddie, Gavin Webster and Nathan Caton. Also bringing in the laughs will be comic pianists Worbey and Farrell in their show Deviations on a Piano on April 4 and Britain’s Got Talent’s Steve Hewlett.
The ventriloquist, whose characters include Arthur Larger and ‘Little Simon Cowell’, will also be joined by award-winning illusionist Richard Griffin on March 6, whose show serves as the perfect appetiser for the return of the South Tyneside International Magic Festival, which is back from March 12 to 15.
The venue’s marketing co-ordinator Ali Brown said: “We are so excited for this year’s season. There is a great mixture of shows and we most definitely have something for everyone.”
Call 0191 454 1234 or visit www.customshouse.co.uk for tickets.