What’s on? There’s something for everybody in Newcastle Theatre Royal’s Summer/Autumn season ’17

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Whether it’s a dramatic play, a hilarious farce, a stunning dance show or a feel-good musical you’re after, there’s something for everyone in Newcastle Theatre Royal’s Summer/Autumn ’17 season, which was recently announced.

Hollywood legends Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal (above) star in Love Letters (Tue 19 – Sat 23 Sep ’17).  Following a critically-acclaimed Broadway run and sell-out US Tour, this stunning production about first loves and second chances comes to Newcastle for 8 performances only.

The drama continues with Dame Sian Phillips and Derek Griffiths in Driving Miss Daisy (Mon 2 – Sat 7 Oct ’17).  This heart-touching production – made famous by the 1989 Academy Award-winning film – set in Atlanta, Georgia tells of how a profound and life-altering friendship blossoms against a backdrop of prejudice, inequality and civil unrest.

Just married.  Bored already.  Hedda longs to be free…Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre, this modern production of Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece Hedda Gabler comes to Newcastle (Mon 12 – Sat 17 Feb ’18).

It’s time to dust off your leather jackets and pull on your bobby socks as Danny and Sandy fall in love all over again in Grease (Mon 16 – Sat 21 Oct ’17).  Featuring unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word and Summer Nights you’ll be ready to hand jive the night away!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning masterpiece Sunset Boulevard comes to Newcastle for 1 week only (Mon 9 – Sat 14 Oct ’17).  Starring internationally acclaimed musical theatre star Ria Jones as Norma Desmond and with a much-loved score including With One Look, The Greatest Star of All and The Perfect Year, Sunset Boulevard promises to be a spectacular treat for all musicals fans.

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Ria Jones will play Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

The Gloria Tour heads to Newcastle Theatre Royal for one night only.  Local star Joe McElderry and special guests from the musical phenomenon Joseph perform smash hits form the new album Saturday Night at the Movies (Sun 30 Jul ’17).  And legends Des O’Connor & Jimmy Tarbuck will take to the stage for a spectacular evening of entertainment (Sun 5 Nov ’17).

The ever-popular Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace return to Newcastle Theatre Royal with hot new stage spectacular Tango Moderno (Tue 26 – Sat 30 Sep ’17).  The Strictly Come Dancing favourites and world champion tango superstars will set your heart racing with passion, thrills and incredible dance.  The beauty of dance continues when Northern Ballet present The Little Mermaid (Tue 31 Oct – Sat 4 Nov ’17).  This stunning original ballet, choreographed by David Nixon OBE, will transport you into a world beneath the waves as a young mermaid is willing to give up everything she knows for love.

The power of Opera North will be seen this Autumn in a season of short operas.  The Little Greats (Wed 8 – Sat 11 Nov ’17) will feature three emotionally charged double bills including Pagliacci, Trouble in Tahiti and Trial by Jury.  Opera fans will be mesmerised when Opera North returns again in 2018 with a season of operatic favourites (Tue 20 – Sat 24 Mar ’18) – Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni and Un Ballo in Macshera.

And there are plenty of great shows to suit all tastes already on sale in the current season.  Star of stage and screen Sheridan Smith will be reprising her role as Fanny Brice when Funny Girl (Tue 16 – Sat 20 May) comes to Newcastle for 1 week only.

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Olivier nominee Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl

Young Frankenstein (Sat 26 Aug – Sat 9 Sep ‘17) will get its UK premiere when Hollywood legend Mel Brooks brings his classic movie to life on stage in an all singing, all dancing musical based on the 1974 Oscar-nominated smash hit movie,

There’s a jam-packed line up of top-class musicals which includes the feel-good spectacular Mamma Mia! (Tue 28 Mar – Sat 15 Apr ‘17) and the critically acclaimed Sister Act (Mon 19 – Sat 24 Jun ‘17) starring Alexandra Burke and directed by Craig Revel Horwood.  The fun continues when Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton kicks up her heels in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Mon 10 – Sat 15 Jul ’17), follow the yellow brick road with NMTC’s production of The Wizard of Oz (Tue 25 – Sat 29 Jul ’17), former Strictly champions Tom Chambers and Caroline Flack star in Crazy for You (Tue 12 – Sat 16 Sep ’17) and the Olivier award-winning West End show Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Tue 14 – Sat 18 Nov ’17) tells the inspiring story of an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent.

Dance fans can look forward to the magic of Ballroom and Latin dance being celebrated in Keep Dancing (Tue 18 – Sat 22 Apr ’17) and the eagerly-awaited Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes (Tue 2 – Sat 6 May ‘17) is set to dazzle audiences in an intoxicating drama where life imitates art with fateful consequences.  Milonga(Fri 16 – Sat 17 Jun ’17) unites Argentinean tango dancers, contemporary dancers and live musicians to create a show that captures the unique style of celebrated choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

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Mel Brooks’ iconic Young Frankenstein is coming to town

Local sisters and Mercury-nominated mavericks of British folk music The Unthanks (Sun 14 May ’17) showcase the extraordinary songs of Molly Drake in a mesmerising performance of her charming and bittersweet works.  And discover the joins of exploring the Wilderness with Ray Mears – Born to Go Wild (Sun 29 Oct ’17).

There will be laughs a plenty in Ray Cooney’s Olivier Award-winning comedy Out of Order (Mon 22 – Sat 27 May ’17) and the fun continues with Henning Wehn (Sun 22 Oct ’17) and the show-stopping 17/18 Pantomime Peter Pan (Tue 28 Nov ’17 – Sun 21 Jan ’18) starring Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward.

The heart-warming and life-changing comedy Shirley Valentine (Mon 23 – Sat 28 Oct ’17) will see Jodie Prenger star in the title role as the Liverpool housewife who heads off to the sun and starts to see the world, herself and the life she let behind very differently.  This, the first major revival of the national treasure, is a must-see for anyone who adored the 1986 Oscar-nominated film by Willy Russell.

Audiences will be on the edge of their seats with spine-tingling drama coming by way of Peter James’ Not Dead Enough (Mon 20 – Sat 25 Mar ’17) starring Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore, the chilling The Woman in Black (Mon 24 – Sat 29 Apr ’17) and Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone (Mon 31 Jul – Sat 5 Aug ’17) which unravels a lifetime of deceit and brings a shocking revelation.

In Running Wild (Tue 9 – Sat 13 May ’17), going to Indonesia with her mum isn’t just a holiday for Lilly; this epic and spectacular production tells an emotional and moving story of love, loss, loyalty and of living for the moment.  The innovative drama based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Tue 30 – Sat 10 June ’17) returns to Newcastle after a sell-out run in 2015, and Jane Eyre (Mon 3 – Sat 8 July ’17) plays following a critically acclaimed season at the National Theatre.

Younger audiences will be delighted by Babe, The Sheep-Pig (Tue 13 – Wed 14 Jun ’17) and E.Nesbit’s classic novel The Railway Children (Mon 26 Jun – Sat 1 Jul ’17) is brought thrillingly to life in a stunning new stage production.  Following a smash-hit West End season, the tea-guzzling tiger is back in The Tiger Who Came To Tea (Thu 29 Jun – Sat 1 Jul ‘17).

Tickets for all new shows in the Summer / Autumn ‘17 season go on sale to the general public at 9am on Fri 17 Mar 2017 and can be purchased online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge).

Friends of the Theatre Royal can book new season shows online and through the box office on Mon 13 Mar 2017 and receive discounted tickets as well as other benefits – visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk/support/become-a-friend for more information.

Photos: Samantha Ovens/Johan Persson/Austin Hargrave

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Hardwick Live returns for 2017 – Here’s who’s on the bill…

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Hardwick Live will return to Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield this summer, with an array of musical legends topping the bill.

The event, which has been dubbed ‘The North East’s biggest live music event’, returns to County Durham on Saturday August 19.

Headlining this year’s show are 90s favourites Ocean Colour Scene (with special guest Pete Doherty). They will be joined on the bill by Buzzcocks, Soul II Soul, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Gabrielle and the Brand New Heavies, amongst others.

The event will also include performance by acclaimed tribute act The Bootleg Beatles, to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the Fab Four’s Sgt Pepper album.

Ocean Colour Scene shot to fame in 1996 with the release of the Moseley Shoals album, which spawned a number of hit singles including The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught the Train and Hundred Mile City.

The Birmingham band got their big break after the album caught the attention of Chris Evans, who championed the album on his BBC Radio 1 show and then used a riff from The Riverboat Song as part of his Channel 4 TV show, TFI Friday.

Libertines founding member Pete Doherty will be returning to his North East roots, after a return to the spotlight following the release of his Hamburg Demonstrations album last year.

New York three-piece Fun Lovin’ Criminals will be bringing their laid-back eclectic mix of soul, funk, hip hop, blues, R&B and jazz to the event. Fronted by the legendary Huey Morgan, the band are perhaps most famous for their 1996 hit Scooby Snacks, taken from the Come Find Yourself album which spent more than a year in the UK album chart.

London singer Gabrielle is a multi-platinum selling artist who boasts two BRIT awards, two Mobos and an Ivor Novello among her accolades.

With early hits including Dreams, Give Me a Little More Time and Walk on By, Gabrielle collaborated with East 17 on the 1996 classic If You Ever, and then enjoyed further success a few years later with hits Rise and Out of Reach, which was used on the soundtrack to Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Also appearing will be British punk legends Buzzcocks who last year celebrated their 40th anniversary and will be heading to Hardwick Live as part of a US and European tour.

Two-time Grammy award-winners Soul II Soul have been stars on the club scene since 1989. Headed by producer/singer/songwriter Jazzie B OBE, the band hit the big time in 1989 with Keep on Moving featuring vocalist Caron Wheeler.

They scored their first number one that same year with Back to Life, which made them a household name the world over and is now regarded as one of the most iconic songs of that era.

Brand New Heavies will return to the region as they enjoy a resurgence of popularity with fans of all ages, thanks to their cool soul and funk sound.

The 90s favourites, whose hits include Dream on Dreamer and Midnight at the Oasis, have had a busy 12 months touring Europe and Japan, and remain in high demand across the world.

As well as big names, Hardwick Live will feature a number of up-and-coming acts from the region and across the UK, along with a number of DJs and comedians.

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(Above) The crowds at previous years’ events

John Adamson, owner of Ramside Estates which runs Hardwick Live, believes this year’s line-up is the strongest to date. “It is a pleasure to be able to announce the return of Hardwick Live in 2017, particularly after its sabbatical last year,” he said.

“And of course we’ve also got the amazing show by Madness the night before so this really is going to be a weekend of incredible music at Hardwick.”

Photos: John Runciman & David Hudspeth

Hardwick Live will take place on Saturday August 19 at Hardwick Hall.  Tickets will go on sale on Friday 10 March, at 10am, priced at £8 children, £15 for 13-17-year-olds and £49 for adults. Day and weekend tickets are available. For tickets, click here. For more information, click here

 

Get your Christmas all wrapped up by the Children’s Foundation and Intu Eldon Square

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As Christmas Day fast approaches, shops are buzzing with people grabbing those last-minute gifts. But as you flash the cash and leave laden with bags full of presents, don’t fret about the dreaded wrapping because there’s help at hand.

The Children’s Foundation have teamed up with Intu Eldon Square and set up their annual wrapping stand to take some of the pressure off you this festive season. Shoppers can leave their gifts with the stand’s volunteers and have them wrapped up super fancy, in return for a donation. You can choose from a range of wrapping paper, ribbon and bows (the flashing bows are major, FYI). All gift wrap has been kindly donated by local businesses and the stand is run completely by volunteers.

The stand was launched this year by cast members from the Tyne Theatre’s pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, last Friday. They follow in the footsteps of other famous faces who have launched the scheme in the past, including Pam Royle and Ian Payne from ITV Tyne Tees, former Emmerdale star Charlie Hardwick and Heart Radio’s Justin and Kelly.

The Children’s Foundation aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the North East and North Cumbria by tackling issues like distress, disability and disadvantage. The charity is based at the RVI in Newcastle and last year helped over 30,000 children.

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Above: The Children’s Foundation helps children across the North East and Cumbria

Jonathan Clegg is the Community and Events Fundraiser for the charity. “This is the tenth year of the wrap stand and so far over £25,000 has been raised,” he told us. “Last year it raised over £6,000 and we hope to beat that this year.

We always have the same people come back year after year and it’s always nice to see some familiar faces.”

I stopped by the stand to get the full wrap experience and was suitably impressed with Jonathan’s elf skills! See for yourself…

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Beautiful!

Make sure you stop by the stand and donate if you can. It really is all for a fantastic cause and what better time than Christmas time to give back. Any donations are welcome and will all go to helping The Children’s Foundation continue their brilliant work.

The stand is located outside of Kurt Geiger and opposite John Lewis in Eldon Square and is open 10.00-18.00 Monday-Saturday and 12.00-16.00 Sunday and Christmas Eve.

90s dance act Whigfield and TV singing stars to perform at Cumbria Pride

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A host of Eurovision and TV singing stars will take the stage at this year’s Cumbria Pride.

90s Eurodance act Whigfield, who had a massive hit with Saturday Night, will top the bill on a day where LGBTQ people and their straight allies are encouraged to come out and celebrate in Carlisle city centre. Nicki French, who represented the UK at Eurovison in 2000 with camp classic Don’t Play That Song Again, is also on the bill. They are joined by Britain’s Got Talent stars Danny Beard and Matthew Pagan, The Voice alumni Jolan, Jordan Gray and Amrick Channa, amongst others.

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Whigfield, aka Sannie Carlson

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Nicki French

The event, which takes place on Saturday September 17, will also host guest speakers, including, legendary human rights activist Peter Tatchell, Labour MP Stephen Twigg and representatives from EuroPride, the Terrence Higgins Trust and Stonewall.

There will also be food and drink vendors, market stalls and an official after-party at Havana nightclub.

Cumbria Pride is a free event and takes place from 12.00 until 18.30pm.

Watch the teaser video below:

For more information on Cumbria Pride visit their Facebook or Twitter

Club goes classical: Manchester’s classic Hacienda sound to be showcased in Sunderland by 40-piece orchestra

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Whoever says you can’t like classical music as much as you like acid house is a liar. And to those liars I say, check this one out. One of the North East’s leading open-air concert venues is gearing up to follow in the footsteps of the Royal Albert Hall.

Herrington Country Park in Sunderland will play host to Haçienda Classical – a very special, one night only tribute to classic acid house and rave hits, performed by a 40-piece chamber orchestra with the backing of two of the UK’s top DJs.

Around 5000 people are expected to attend the event, on Friday August 19, which boasts a set list full of dance music classics from the heyday of Manchester’s legendary Haçienda nightclub.

Classic tracks by New Order, Inner City, Black Box and Marshall Jefferson have been reinterpreted by the club’s original DJs, Mike Pickering and Graeme Park. They will be performed alongside the Manchester Camerata Orchestra, who have been called “one of Europe’s best chamber orchestras.”

Also on stage will be the AMC Choir, New Order’s Peter Hook (above) and X Factor star and Happy Mondays’ singer, Rowetta (below)

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(Photo credit: Al De Perez)

A special, three- tiered concert stage, with a performing area of 48ft by 40 ft, is to be erected by organisers, who are also laying on festival-style food and drink.

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A previous Hacienda Classical concert (above)

“As a venue, it’s got numerous practical advantages such as plentiful parking and superb access to the region’s two leading roads; the A19 and the A1,” said Karen Makepeace, in-house promoter for Northern Sessions, which is bringing the event to the North East.

“Plus the venue is perfect for an outdoor concert like this. We can’t wait to bring Haçienda Classical to Herrington.”

General admission tickets are £35 and VIP packages, for £100, include on-site car parking, entry to a VIP enclosure with outdoor deckchair viewing area, arrival drink, access to pay bar facilities, VIP toilets and a barbecue buffet.

For more information click here and for tickets call 0844 8889991 or click here 

WATCH: The ‘superhumans’ of the 2016 Paralympics shine in new advert

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Both the Olympics and the Paralympics are just around the corner, and Channel 4’s new advert for the latter is, in a word, stunning. (There aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary for the amazing athletes that compete in the games, and throughout the year, but stunning is a good start.)

Channel 4 are broadcasting all of the coverage of the games, as they did in 2012 – programming which won them a BAFTA. Their slogan this year, We’re The Superhumans, is backed up by the advert, which showcases ordinary members of the public, stunt men and women, and athletes, including swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

The clip is set to the swinging sound of Sammy Davis Jr’s Yes I Can, performed by a band of disabled musicians. Other scenes include someone landing a plane with her feet and a particularly stirring moment featuring a school counsellor telling a young lad that he can’t do something, followed by the lad fiercely playing wheelchair basketball.

According to Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, the advert is aimed at not just athletes, but “anyone with a disability”.

The Paralympic Games take places in Rio September 7-18. You can see all of the coverage on Channel 4. Watch the advert below:

Newcastle Pride 2016: Parade details and who’s on the main stage and when

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It’s that time of year when the LGBT community and their straight allies descend on Newcastle’s Town Moor for a weekend of fun, celebration and, perhaps this year more than most, reflection. We’re here to give you the DL on how to take part in the parade what’s happening on the Main Stage when. Last year, 10,000 people marched in the parade and thousands more partied in the park to the sounds of Belinda Carlisle and B*Witched. And this year could be the best one yet.

The parade will start at Newcastle Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH then head down Northumberland Street, up Percy Street and in to Exhibition Park and the Town Moor.

It will start at 12pm so make sure you’re at Newcastle Civic Centre by 11.30.

The theme for this years parade is Be Yourself, Change the world #BE PROUD. Participants are encouraged to wear fancy dress, bright colours and make lots of racket!

Once the parade is done and dusted, the day’s line-up will begin. Headlined by noughties boyband 5ive on Saturday and M People front woman Heather Small on Sunday, there will be a host of other acts to keep you entertained all weekend.

Here is the Main Stage programme for Saturday:

From 12.00 – 14.00

Pride Radio

Northern Proud Voices

Carol Laula

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From 14.00 – 16.00

Winner of Drag Idol, Octavia Die

Lorraine Crosby

Debbie Roberts

From 16.00 – 18.00 

Jordan Gray

Shane Richie Jr Band

Hazell Dean

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From 18.00 – 20.30

Tina Cousins

Jake Quickenden

Heather Peace

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And Sunday is as follows:

From 13.15 – 16.00

Pride Radio

Courtney Dixon

AJC

NE Girls

From 16.00 – 18.00

Christian MJC & J-Sol

David Stoker

Nathan Moore

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From 18.00 – 20.00

Boulevard’s Danni Dee & The Broadway Dancers

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Heather Small

There will also be a dance tent, sponsored by Powerhouse, and a cabaret tent, in association with Eazy Street, with plenty of DJs and drag talent if the Main Stage isn’t your scene. Market stalls, an assortment of bars and funfair rides complete what is looking to be a fantastic weekend.

This year, the bars have been removed from inside the tents and put outside – more room for dancing!

Please remember that Newcastle Pride is a free event (the biggest free pride in the UK, no less) and that it is vital to donate anything you can to keep it that way. So if you see one of their hard-working volunteers, put some money in the bucket, put on your (glow in the dark!) wristband and have a ball.

Have fun and stay safe. Happy Pride, Newcastle!

Actress and writer Caroline Ahern dies aged 52

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Caroline Aherne, the writer and actress of The Royle Family and Mrs Merton fame, has passed away aged 52.

Neil Reading, her publicist, said on Saturday: “Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away, after a brave battle with cancer.

“The Bafta award-winning writer and comedy actor died earlier today at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester.

“The family ask for privacy at this very sad time.”

She first became famous as the Checkout Girl in The Fast Show but became a household name as granny Mrs Merton in The Mrs Merton Show, which first aired on BBC Two in 1995.

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She won best female performer at the British Comedy Awards in 1996.

The Royle Family was born after she and friend Craig Cash, who played gormless Dave Best in the show, threw themselves into their work after a suicide attempt.

The show dominated the 1999 British Comedy Awards, winning four. Aherne herself won best actress for her role as dippy daughter Denise.

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The Mrs Merton Christmas Show won the best talk show Bafta in 1997 and The Royle Family took home the best sitcom award in 2000 and 2007.

Aherne was nominated for Baftas for her performance in both shows, as well as her directing of The Royle Family in 2001.

More recently, she could be heard, along with Cash, as the narrator of Channel 4 show Gogglebox.

Fellow comics have paid tribute to Ahern on Twitter.

David Baddiel paid tribute on Twitter writing: “The talent, you all knew about. But she was a really lovely woman. Vulnerable and complex and damaged but…lovely.”

David Walliams added: “Absolutely devastating news about Caroline Aherne. A true comedy genius, her work was equally funny & touching.”

WATCH: Rihanna shares stunning new video for Star Trek theme song Sledgehammer

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Rihanna has taken a break from twerking and packing out stadiums across the world to record the soundtrack to the new Star Trek film. (I know, we’re shocked too) And today, she put out the video.

Sledgehammer, which comes from the new Justin Lin-directed Star Trek Beyond -the third film in the new rebooted franchise of the space saga – is a soaring ballad co-written by Jesse Shatkin and an unknown songwriter by the name of Sia.

It’s a different direction for the Bajan beauty, and definitely has Sia’s stamp on it – ironic as it was the Titanium singer  who hit headlines earlier in the year when she revealed RiRi was one of a number of singers who turned down tracks she wrote – tracks which eventually formed Sia’s wild successful album, This Is Acting. Dreamy piano and synths and backed by a pounding beat on Sledgehammer and it sounds like a ready-made hit. Lesson of the day: Always listen to Sia.

The video sees Rihanna gyrating on a big rock, on what looks like Mars. She’s surrounded by all manner of trippy kaleidoscope effects, rocking a Shaolin monk-esque outfit. She even make monk robes look high-fash. Is there anything she can’t wear? It’s a stunning video by all accounts and it’s always refreshing to see an artistic pop video.

Watch the video below:

 

Jumpy to premiere in Newcastle

ALL Tilly, Lyndsey, Mark, Cam, Hilary, Josh, Bea, Frances, Roland

A play by April De Angelis will make its Tyneside premiere next week.

Jumpy premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2011 to rave reviews and subsequently transferred to the West End, starring Tamsin Greig and Doon Mackichan. This production is being staged at the People’s Theatre in Newcastle.

Hilary (Rye Mattick) once protested at Greenham Common. Nowadays, her protests tend to focus on persuading her contemptuous teenage daughter to fully clothe herself when she goes out. A marriage in ruins and a career on the rocks only add to the perils of life for a middle-aged mum in Walthamstow. Where did it all go wrong?

It has been described as an exploration ‘the life, the worries, the strength, and the vulnerability of the post-feminist urban woman.’

£1 from each ticket sale will go towards The People’s Theatre Redevelopment Scheme, which has been shortlisted in a national competition. Volunteers at the theatre are appealing for votes from the public to help them win £150,000 towards its redevelopment (plans pictured below)

It is the only theatre shortlisted alongside 12 other schemes across the country.  The volunteer run theatre stands to benefit from £150,000 towards its redevelopment.

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For the People’s Theatre Tony Childs said, “We are proud to be the only theatre in the country to have made it as one of 12 projects in the national shortlist, competing against 1,800 other projects.

We’ve had a great voting response from our audience and membership.   What we now need is for the wider community to show support for what will be a great asset to Newcastle and the North East.”

Read more about the plans here.

Jumpy will run June 14 to June 18 at 7.30pm. You can buy tickets in person at the box office, by calling 0191 265 5020 or online here.