Customs House show aims to sock it to audiences - with your help

Gareth Hunter
Gareth Hunter

Sole music is coming to the Customs House - and now the search is on for the North East's odd socks.

The South Shields theatre needs at least 50 brightly coloured and - most importantly - clean odd socks, for its latest in-house production.

Zipp! One Hundred Musicals for Less than the Price of One is a hilarious musical revue conceived by Gyles Brandreth and Stewart Nicholls.

It whizzes through more than a century of Broadway and West End musicals in 100 minutes, including the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in 60 seconds.

The cast for the show, which runs from Tuesday, September 19, to Saturday, September 23, includes Afnan Iftikhar, who was a finalist in ITV’s Superstar, and Melissa Cavanagh, from BBC’s The Voice UK.

Now director Gareth Hunter, of Ion Productions, is looking for some help with props.

He said: "We need 50 brightly-coloured, clean odd socks, of all shapes and sizes, for a particular bit in the show. I can’t say what it is, because it would spoil the surprise, but it’s

for a comedy part of the show.”

Sock donations can be left at The Customs House box office, which is open every day from noon until 6pm, or 8pm on show days.

Gareth has been keen to bring Zipp! to The Customs House for several years, after seeing the show for himself when it toured the UK, having proved a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in

2002 and in the West End.

He said: "It is a comedy musical revue, with a selection of songs from the musicals, but all done in a very zany, madcap and humorous way.

"There is nothing serious about the show. It is a really good fun night out, with songs that will stick in your head and laughs that will make your belly ache.

"There is a lot of banter with the audience and they are a big part of the show. A lot of it is quite spontaneous, so it is going to be different every night."

Afnan graduated from Northumbria University with a first class honours degree in performance and went on to further his education in New York with the Broadway Artist’s

Alliance. He has since worked professionally worldwide on both stage and screen.

Originally from Sunderland, Melissa was chosen by Boy George to be one of the 12 artists on his team on BBC’s The Voice UK in 2016. She now lives in London and is pursuing herlove of singing and musical theatre.

Peter Grant, Rhys Chambers and Chloe Hazel Oliver complete the line-up.

Peter, who lives in Durham, produces and presents The Week and Behind Closed Doors on Made in Tyne and Wear and is also a regular on BBC Radio Newcastle and Look North. He

also has four professional pantomime appearances under his belt.

Rhys, from South Shields, is musical director at South Tyneside Academy of Musical Performance. He can play 17 instruments and is studying music at Durham University, specialising in music history, conducting and orchestration and music and science.

Chloe is a trained actress, puppeteer and singer with experience in movement and dance, most recently appearing in Naked Truth at the Leicester Square Theatre in London, which led to a short tour of UK theatres.

Performances of Zipp! start at 7.45pm, with a Thursday and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets are priced £17, or £15 for Friends of The Customs House. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit