The true story of a group of extraordinary South Tyneside women is the highlight of a fantastic season at a popular borough venue.
The new What’s On guide is out for the Customs House, South Shields, and bosses are delighted to be bringing an all new musical as part of their summer line up.
The Dolly Mixtures is the story of eight incredible women who set-up a variety act when one of their husbands’ was diagnosed with cancer – later going on to raise £100,000.
It is written by the dream team of Tom Kelly and John Miles, who were behind hit shows Tom & Catherine and Dan Dare at the Mill Dam venue.
Customs House executive director, Ray Spencer, who will also direct The Dolly Mixtures, said: “They overcame amorous committee men, flat tyres and difficult audiences to raise £100,000 across the North East for Cancer Research.
“These women really were the North East’s very own Calendar Girls and we’re thrilled to tell their story.”
The Dolly Mixtures runs from August 24 to September 3 and follows last summer’s smash hit Geordie the Musical, also written by Tom Kelly.
Tom’s show Baby Love, about club singers battling between the smiles on stage and the sadness off, also opens the drama season at the venue on May 3 and 4.
Cranked Anvil present a new take on Romeo & Juliet with the star-crossed lovers’ ‘ancient grudge’ taking on the form of the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle.
Also taking to the stage will be Apphia Campbell in the five-star Black Is The Color Of My Voice, which has sold out in New York, Shanghai and Edinburgh and features the music of Nina Simone.
The studio season features the award-winning Daniel Bye’s Going Viral, Made Up featuring live make-up application, Hebburn star Neil Grainger in Petrification and Wayne Miller, writer of Santa’s Naughty Elf, brings his clever and witty scriptwriting to an adult audience with The Big Goodbye.
Ray added: “This season’s drama will make you laugh, sing along and possibly shed a tear, we’re really looking forward to seeing what our audiences think of the shows we have lined up for them.”
There’s laugh-out-loud comedy this summer with the South Tyneside Comedy Festival. It is organised by Jason Cook, who also runs the venue’s Comedy Club, and fellow South Tyneside comic Chris Ramsey and Sarah Millican’s husband Gary Delaney are already on the line-up. There’s also Justin Moorhouse, Steffen Peddie, Carl Hutchinson, The Geordie Rat Pack and for the kids Martin Bigpig.
“We’re delighted to be hosting the South Tyneside Comedy Festival live at our theatre for 10 days of fun and laughter,” said Ray.
The Festival runs from July 29 to August 7.
The theatre is also playing host to The Antiques Roadshow’s Eric Knowles who will make valuations ahead of his show and the theatre will welcome members of the community to debate for and against Britain remaining in the European Union.
For music lovers the venue sees the return of Joe McElderry, former Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman, music from the stage and screen with award-winning harmony group Blake, the traditional songs of the North East from The Pitman Poets, Cabaret favourites Encore are back, Westoe Brass Band pay tribute to a former member and The Rock Choir make their Customs House debut.
There are also tributes to Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Tina Turner, The Who, David Bowie, The Traveling Wilburys, The Eagles, Free, Queen and the whole 1960s era with Juke Box Sixties.
Ray added: “We always do music well at the Customs House and there’s something for every taste in our new season. And what season would be complete without something for our young people.
“I’m delighted to see the return of The TakeOver with more than 40 workshops, events and shows all programmed by young people for young people during the May half-term.
“We also welcome back Ballet Theatre UK who sold out earlier this year, we’re thrilled to have the premiere of Don’t Dribble on the Dragon and I’m personally looking forward to seeing Wave, a specially designed show for young people with autism and profound and multiple learning disabilities.”
May sees Ballet Theatre UK pirouette back into South Shields after their sell out performance of the Snow Queen earlier in the year, this time performing Pinocchio.
The People’s Theatre Company also return in June hot on the heels of their hit How the Koala Learnt to Hug, which was at The Customs House earlier this month. Their new show Don’t Dribble on the Dragon features magic designed by the late Paul Daniels. Tell Tale Heart bring Wave, their take on The Tempest especially aimed at young people with autism and profound and multiple learning disabilities, also in June.
July sees Starset Theatre bring a double bill of Disney in the form of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, Dinosaur Park (The Jurassic Parody) stomps into the Mill Dam, while The Railway Children is brought to a whole new generation when it pulls in to South Shields.
Finally, it’s the return of the annual Summer School. This year the talented youngsters will be performing Bring It On from August 12 to 14. If you would like to get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can pick up a copy of the new What’s On Guide at the Customs House box office.
For more information or to book tickets, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call 0191 454 1234.