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The return of The Dolly Mixtures

Published: 22 May 2019

North East musical The Dolly Mixtures returns to the Customs House for a second run as part of the venue’s 25th anniversary celebrations. It was first performed in 2016 to great acclaim—take a look at our review—but the 2019 version brings with it a few changes.

Most of the cast—Georgia Nicholson, Victoria Holtom, Kylie Ann Ford and Christina Dawson—return in their original roles as Doris, Sylvia, Liz and Joan respectively. Two of the original cast also return but in different parts; Sarah Boulter, who played Betty in the original production, this time plays Margaret, while Patricia Whale, who was Margaret originally, now plays Jean.

There are three new faces: Natasha Haws as Hilda, Zoe Hakin as Betty and Steven Lee Hamilton as Margaret’s husband, Ken, whose cancer battle inspired the Dolly Mixtures' performances.

There’s a change to the creative team too. The show will be directed and choreographed by TV and West End star Mina Anwar, who was assistant director to Ray Spencer and also choreographed the 2016 production. Her TV credits include The Bill, The Thin Blue Line, Shameless, Doctor Who and Coronation Street. On stage in 2017, she appeared in the new musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Sheffield Crucible and continued her role for the transfer to the West End’s Apollo Theatre.

The Dolly Mixtures is the story of a group of women who, because the husband of one of them had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1972, decided to raise money to provide additional comforts for long-term patients in South Shields Hospital by performing a singing / comedy act in the working men's clubs. They were a big success and went on to fundraise for Cancer Research. They raised more than £100,000 during their time together and at the end of the original run of the play they were honoured with a lifetime achievement award by Cancer Research UK.

The play chronicles their career and, in particular, the problems they faced in the male-dominated world of the working men's clubs.

The play, written by Tom Kelly with music by John Miles, runs from 21 to 31 August and tickets, priced from £16, are now on sale.

Peter Lathan