The 30th anniversary season at Hexham’s Queen’s Hall Arts Centre – once again offering a smorgasbord of music, drama, film, comedy and family entertainment – begins next month.
And one of the shining – and homegrown – highlights also doubles as an entry in the upcoming Hexham Abbey Festival too.
On September 26, the market town’s own Theatre Sans Frontieres will present Le Moulin Magique, featuring a clown from the Cirque du Soleil.
The production, which is packed with talking vegetables and live music, tells a magical folk tale from Brittany in which a miller and his wife are so hungry that their boots are on the menu – and yet their landlord displays no sympathy. It’s aimed at those from eight upwards.
Also on the family fun schedule is the specially-commissioned Cuddy & His Mates (October 5), which explores the lives of three of the Northern saints – Cuthbert, Bede and Godric – and tells of their childhood escapades.
And while we’re on with the slices of the season which all generations can enjoy, we should also mention the pantomime season production of Treasure Island, which will run from December 11 to 28 and will be performed by Oddsocks Productions.
Following the success of last year’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, (attended by over 4,600 people, don’t you know), Treasure Island is promising to be an equally energetic romp.
To coincide with the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice in 2013, Two Bit Classics will make their first appearance at the venue with a two-actor/21-character version of Jane Austen’s most cherished novel on October 9.
October will also see a visit from the popular satirist, humourist, public intellectual and TV personality, Sir Jonathan Miller. He’ll be there to entertain on October 12. The following month, all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes are promised from the Reduced Shakespeare Company on November 9.
And, as the dark nights draw close, North East singer-songwriter Jez Lowe hosts a Geordie Christmas Beach Party on December 14 with his band the Bad Pennies and special guest Benny Graham.
Artistic director, Geof Keys, says: “The arts centre was founded in the 1980s through the passion and commitment of large numbers of people in Tynedale, and we continue to provide opportunities and activities for a broad range of local interests.
“We are also deeply grateful to the dozens of volunteers that help us run the Queen’s Hall and to the hundreds that support us through our Friends scheme.
“We are currently expanding the volume of work we produce for young people and we are developing new programmes in digital art. We also have some great new shows this season.”
Alongside all this, the Hexham Film Club will continue to prosper, with screenings of The Sapphires, Audrey Tatou in Delicacy, Martin Sheen in The Way and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby.
There is also a rare chance to see the classic Gone with the Wind on the big screen.
Meanwhile, Hexham & District Music Society will open their 2013-14 season on October 16 with a visit from BBC Young Musician of the Year 2006 Mark Simpson, followed by concerts from the London Conchord Ensemble and the Doric String Quartet on November 6 and December 6 respectively.
Hexham Amateur Stage Society will set sail from November 13-16 with Anything Goes, while Queen’s Hall Theatre Company hosts some volcanic eruptions with Up Pompeii between October 26 and 26.
And on the exhibition front, there will be a new one from Paul Stangroom featuring paintings of Whitby Abbey, and the Embroiderers’ Guild “Lindisfarne” exhibition, inspired by the visit from the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Clearly we haven’t had room to offer a comprehensive guide to everything on offer.
There wasn’t space to go on in detail about performances from Phizzical, Junco Partners, Reform Theatre, The Mighty Doonans, iMagician, Scott & Shackleton, David Nobbs, Theatre Hullabaloo, Aly Bain, Kathakali, Pinter, Djangologie and Andrew Motion... but we’re sure you get the idea.
For full listings, ticket information and bookings, visit www.queenshall.co.uk or call 01434 652477.