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West End show mixes people with puppets

NO STRINGS ... Starset Theatre cast members with puppets from their production of Avenue Q. From left, Peter Moore, Tracy Clough, John George Hudson, Sarah Ketchin, Helen Wilson and John Milestone.

NO STRINGS ... Starset Theatre cast members with puppets from their production of Avenue Q. From left, Peter Moore, Tracy Clough, John George Hudson, Sarah Ketchin, Helen Wilson and John Milestone.

WESt End stars will be centre-stage in South Tyneside this weekend – with a helping hand from some local talent.

Starset Theatre will be taking over The Customs House in South Shields for a brand- new production of award-winning hit Avenue Q.

The coming-of-age musical, which started in 2003 and has had successful runs on both Broadway and the West End, mixes people with puppets in a tongue-in-cheek tribute to children’s classic Sesame Street.

The production is the first with an adult cast to be staged by Starset Theatre, South Tyneside’s longest-running performing arts group for children and young people.

The group not only secured a licence to bring the production to South Tyneside, but also managed to secure the puppets made for the show’s forthcoming nationwide tour.

Theatre lovers in South Tyneside will have a first look at the colourful cast of puppets before they are used at a host of venues across the country next month.

While the puppets have made the trip to the North East from London, a gifted cast of actors from South Tyneside will bring them to life.

Elissa Hudson, who is director of Starset Theatre and has run the group with musical director husband John for 14 years, said: “Avenue Q is an award-winning show.

“It is a real laugh out loud and side-splitting show and is a tongue-in-cheek homage to Sesame Street.

“In the show there are people and puppets all going about their daily lives and sharing the same world.

“It is a great show for all ages. I have had a call from someone in their late 80s who saw the show in the West End and is coming along to the Customs House.”

Mrs Hudson is delighted to bring West End quality to South Tyneside.

She added: “Avenue Q ran for several years in London and when it became available for local groups it was great for us to not only get a licence but get the puppets from Paul Jomain, who worked on the West End production and was also the man responsible for the PG Tips Monkey.

“We drove to London on Friday and picked up the puppets on Saturday.

“They are insured at £80,000. We haven’t let them out of our sight since. They may be the most expensive visitors to the Custom House.

“They are the puppets that will be used in the 12 week tour of Avenue Q starting next month. But they will be in South Shields for our show first.

“There will be West End calibre production values and a very talented cast of actors.”

The production has proved popular with all ages, though as it contains adult themes, parents are asked to use their discretion as to whether their young childen should come along.

The show is on at the Customs House this Saturday and Sunday, with performances at 5pm and 8pm on both days.

Tickets, priced from £11, are available from the Mill Dam venue’s box office on 454 1234 or online at www.customshouse.co.uk

For more information on Starset Theatre, log on to www.starsettheatre.co.uk

n We’ve got two tickets for Saturday’s 5pm performance to give away.

Just tell us what children’s classic Avenue Q is a tribute to.

E-mail answers to chris.maxwell@northeast-press.co.uk by 4pm tomorrow.

Twitter@shieldsgazchris

 

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