Special Mention (1)
A revival of When the Boat Comes In, a new production of When the Boat Comes In (Part 2)—The Hungry Years, a revival of The Dolly Mixtures, a new play Bobby Robson Saved My Life about the North East football legend, and a co-production of another new play, Everywhere We Go, an almost tribal celebration of South Shields FC, plus Heart of the House, a son et lumière extravaganza in which images of the history of the venue and of South Shields were projected onto the building, followed by what was possibly its best panto ever (Snow White—which was also the first panto at the venue), all these were part of the impressive 25th Anniversary celebrations of the Customs House in South Shields. For a small (437-seat) venue which also includes a cinema and a gallery and has a very active outreach and education programme, that’s worthy of a special mention!
Special Mention (2)
There is one other production which deserves recognition but isn’t a NE production, nor can it really be properly called a visiting production. It was on tour from Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, which would make it a North West / London production, except that its two actors, its director and most of the creative team were from the North East, more specifically Live Theatre. Max Roberts, emeritus AD of Live, directed and it starred Wearside-born Jessica Johnson and Teesside’s Stephen Tompkinson, so in almost every way it was a NE production.
Its only NE outing was at Darlington Hippodrome, which is where I saw it. It was a very fine production of an almost 40-year old play which is just as relevant now as it was when it was first produced in 1980. It, of course, is Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, which will tour again next year on the play’s 40th anniversary.