Broadway Stars and Songs Celebrated in New Graeme Thompson Show

Fans of the Customs House pantomime will be pleased to hear that co-writer, South Shields-born Graeme Thompson has written his first play.
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Last week, the theatre held rehearsed readings of The Audition, a new show written by Thompson and directed by former Live Theatre artistic director Max Roberts.

Set at the Customs House, the show follows five actresses who come to the theatre for an audition to play a famous actress (the identity of whom remains unknown). The women then take turns to tell the ‘producers’ stories of their greatest struggles, which range from first heartbreak, grief and addiction, to less relatable problems of being a well-known Broadway star. They also take turns to sing musical numbers from the Great American Songbook, a collection of the most important and influential American songs from the early 20th century.

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The captivating performances of songs such as ‘I’m Still Here’, ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ and ‘Maybe This Time’ honour Broadway and old Hollywood, with audiences nodding along in recognition and appreciation for the music chosen. The stories which lead up to each of the songs also show the ways in which, even if we’re in wildly different situations, we can relate to music and use it to help us through hard times.

The Audition's castThe Audition's cast
The Audition's cast

Musician Rachel Unthank, who sings in The Unthanks with her sister Becky, makes her acting debut playing recovering alcoholic Kate.

Charlie Hardwick, who audiences may recognise from Emmerdale, Ackley Bridge, and Byker Grove plays fading Broadway star Jennifer Jackson, who has come to South Shields in the hope of a comeback to theatre.

Andrew Richardson not only served as the musical director for the show, but also portrayed the fictional musical director Barry, and brought the whole play together with both his musical talent and great comedic timing.

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North East actors Catherine Dryden, Kay Milbourne, and Eleanor Grainger also star, and bring both heartfelt emotion and fantastic singing voices to their performances.

This rehearsed reading will help the writers develop their work for the next stages, wherever that may be. Though it’s not yet known when The Audition will be back on stage, any fans of classic Broadway shows should definitely keep their eyes out for the show making a return for a night celebrating the arts and some of the worlds greatest musical songs.