A PAIR of actors are staging a comeback 18 years after appearing in a South Tyneside theatre’s first-ever show.
Beryl Henderson and Neil Armstrong are set to appear in a stage adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s The Fifteen Streets at The Customs House, in South Shields.
It was the first show that the Mill Dam venue ever produced back in 1996.
The play, which runs from tomorrow until Saturday, is being staged by Gareth Hunter and his company ION Productions.
Set in South Tyneside, it follows the O’Brien family and their neighbours and is a story of a battle between classes.
Beryl, 77, of South Shields, is reprising her role of Peggy Flaherty.
She said: “It’s great to be in the show again. It’s amazing how much you remember – all the lines have been coming back to me.
“Peggy is a really nice character to play, and when I heard Gareth was putting the show back on, I knew I just had to audition.
“It’s a typical Catherine Cookson story, set in 1910 in the 15 streets of Jarrow, I think it’s around where the Simonside Industrial Estate is now.
“It follows the O’Brien family and there’s a very strong Catholic influence, and of course it’s all about class.
“There’s quite a lot of tragedy throughout the play but there’s humour as well.”
She added: “I think Catherine Cookson is still very important to the people of South Shields and it would be nice to bring it to the younger generations.”
Neil, 50, who lives in Washington, is playing Shane O’Brien, the father of the character, Dominic, that he played in 1996.
He said: “Now that I’m old I’ve got to play the dad. I’m loving being in the show again and there’s a really great cast and it’s been lovely to work with Beryl again.
“I think this is the only Catherine Cookson novel that was ever turned into a play because I know she was very cautious about dramatising her work.
“If it’s not the only one then it’s one of the few. It’s one of the most popular books too and everyone knows the film, I think mainly because it has such local resonance for people.
“It’s almost like going to a museum and seeing how things used to be.”
The Fifteen Streets is at The Customs House from Wednesday to Saturday, at 7.30pm each night.
Tickets cost £13 with an £11 concession. To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call the box office on 454 1234.