Premieres, hard-hitting drama and some of the best musicians around will help a South Tyneside theatre mark its 21st year.
The Customs House, in South Shields, has one of its most varied seasons this autumn with everything from evenings with racing car drivers to true stories of notorious art thefts to a pantomime with a difference.
The season has kicked off with the premiere of the already much-loved Geordie The Musical, which runs until September 5.
Customs House executive director Ray Spencer said: “Geordie is a stunning piece of theatre which we’re all thrilled with. A lot of hard work has gone into putting on this show and the audiences are just loving it – singing and clapping along and giving it a rapturous applause and standing ovations.
“Geordie is just one of the exciting shows we have coming up in our 21st year as a Trust, which we celebrate officially in November.
“I can’t wait to see the premiere of The Cinder Path and the extraordinary tale of The Duke in the Cupboard, and I’m looking forward to welcoming back Lesley Garrett, The Manfreds and Chris and Pui as well as local talent Joe McElderry, Jason Cook, Chris Ramsey and Sarah Millican.”
Alice has already sold more than 10,000 tickets and it’s shaping up to be our biggest hit yet, so get your tickets now before they’re all gone - don’t be late to celebrate.Ray Spencer, Customs House executive director
The Cinder Path starts on September 9 and marks the theatre’s second back-to-back premiere following Geordie.
The Ion Productions’ show has been adapted by award-winning actor Paul Dunn and is the first Catherine Cookson novel to be adapted in more than a decade.
Bosses at the theatre are also thrilled to announce a new season of seven contemporary dramas called Custom Made, which will see some of the best shows from around the country brought to the venue’s Studio Theatre.
It is also an opportunity for members of the theatre’s Friends scheme to pay what they decide. Custom Made features The Disappearance of Dorothy Lawrence, One Last Waltz and Edinburgh Fringe First award-winner Confirmation.
Other drama includes Susan Wear’s true story of a Newcastle man-turned art thief in The Duke in the Cupboard in October. Following on from their Einstein and Darwin creations, Tangram Theatre Company complete their ‘scientrilogy’ with the Marie Curie-inspired The Element in the Room, and Rumpus Theatre are back with another spine-chilling tale with The Haunted Dolls’ House, both in November.
The theatre will also pay homage to Jackie Fielding, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Jackie was a prolific director in the area and a memorial evening will be held on Sunday, September 13, to raise funds which will help young people to pursue their dreams of attending drama school.
There is something for all music fans to enjoy from opera to folk to pop. Sixties band The Manfreds and Seventies tartan-loving pop stars the Bay City Rollers featuring Les McKeown will hit the stage as well as everyone’s favourite soprano Lesley Garrett, North East folk band The Unthanks and South Shields’ very own Joe McElderry.
There’s also top tributes A Vision of Elvis, T-Rextasy, UK Rock Legends and The Counterfeit Sixties.
This season brings another first for the Customs House in the form of Jason Cook’s Comedy Club.
Jason will bring some of the best comics to his hometown venue every season, with the first one on October 24, while also celebrating the dawning of 2016 with his New Year’s Eve Special.
Even more hilarious homegrown comics are heading for the Customs House in the form of Chris Ramsey and Sarah Millican, as well as North East comedy legend Bobby Pattinson.
Variety is the spice of life so you can see everything from the very funny Lee Brannigan’s Bella Bluebell to music from the Customs House Big Band – where you can choose your own musical numbers – and much-loved regulars Encore and Timeless Theatre Productions to The Original Stig Perry McCarthy, who’ll be revealing all about his time as an F1 driver and on Top Gear.
For little theatre lovers there is Sing-a-Long-a-Frozen, Starset Theatre’s Barnum and Performers Stage School’s Snow White, while CBeebies favourites Chris and Pui and the Customs House’s Wendy the Witch return.
Finally, no Customs House year would be complete without the pantomime of pantomimes Alice in Wonderland and Santa’s Naughty Elf for the under sevens.
Ray added: “We absolutely cannot wait to head into Wonderland this Christmas. Alice has already sold more than 10,000 tickets and it’s shaping up to be our biggest hit yet, so get your tickets now before they’re all gone – don’t be late to celebrate.”
Tickets for all shows are available from box office on 0191 4541234 or by visiting www.customshouse.co.uk