REVIEW: Geordie The Musical, The Customs House, South Shields, Until September 5

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.
Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

This is the kind of show that makes you proud to be from the North East.

Geordie The Musical is powerful, passionate, emotive and inspiring.

It’s set on the banks of the River Tyne during 1890 and follows the lives of the owners and regulars of Tyneside pub, The Wheatsheaf.

The watering hole is owned by former miner James Melia (Shaun Prendergast) and run by his wife Bella (Viktoria Kay, also assistant director) and their daughter Maggie (Eleanor Chaganis) who dreams of going to university.

With the help of regulars Tommy Armstrong (Micky Cochrane), Robert Charlton (Phil Corbitt), Irishman Micky Cumisky (Luke Maddison) and Oliver Heslop (Donald McBride), the pub’s atmosphere is very much alive and well.

They sing famous Geordie songs like Cushy Butterfield and Keep Your Feet Still together and share tales of times gone by.

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

But the pub is threatened when Joshua Adams (James Hedley), who claims to work for a powerful industrialist, tries to evict the Melias from the pub to knock it down.

Meanwhile, scholar John Thompson (Adam Donaldson) has come to town, by request of Oxford University, to study the Geordie dialect.

The play was penned by Jarrow playwright Tom Kelly from a story by ex-pat South Shields man Andy Bogle, and it’s truly wonderful.

The passionate characters each have a strong identity and are very relatable – you really care for them.

This is the kind of show that makes you proud to be from the North East.

The audience lapped it up as they sang and clapped along to the famous songs, played fantastically by on-stage musicians, who really added to the overall atmosphere.

The end of the first act was a real crowning moment. The way the characters used trays, washboards, watering cans, and a chain and bucket, to accompany their performance of Byker Hill and Walker Shore was phenomenal.

The staging itself is absolutely stunning. The set is spectacular and the lighting and smoke effects are powerfully atmospheric.

Each of the actors performed with gusto, but it was Cochrane who stood out from the crowd for me. His chilling rendition of The Trimdon Explosion was beautiful and haunting.

From left, Adam Donaldson as John Thompson and Donald McBride as Oliver Heslop.

From left, Adam Donaldson as John Thompson and Donald McBride as Oliver Heslop.

Maddison also made a big impression, his Irish accent was amazingly authentic, not slipping from it once, and Kay garnered lots of laughs as her ‘posh’ character tried to ‘talk proper’.

There was no weak link within the cast – each actor gave a memorable performance.

The show was originally due to be directed by Jackie Fielding, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Jamie Brown stepped in, with big shoes to fill, and did an astounding job. I’ve no doubt that Jackie would be proud.

The only downside was the way the show seemed to end before the story was completely resolved – it was a bit of a shame.

I would have liked to know how it all turned out, but at the same time, that’s not what it’s really about. It’s about the way us Geordies stick together and look out for each other, and about being proud of where you come from.

From left, Luke Maddison as Michael Cumisky, Micky Cochrane as Tommy Armstrong, Phil Corbitt as Robert Charlton and Donald McBride as Oliver Heslop.

From left, Luke Maddison as Michael Cumisky, Micky Cochrane as Tommy Armstrong, Phil Corbitt as Robert Charlton and Donald McBride as Oliver Heslop.

Geordie The Musical is proud and passionate with a wonderful story to share. It’s a real celebration of the Geordie dialect and the Geordie people.

Gan along and see it while you’ve got the chance, pet.

Geordie The Musical runs at the Customs House until Saturday, September 5. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.

Geordie the Musical is on at the Customs House, South Shields.