One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is to go to the theatre. Whether I'm seeing a play, musical theatre or a comedy show, I always have a great time, especially when I go to The Customs House.
If you read my post about when I went to see Joe McElderry, then you'll know that The Customs House is one of my favourite theatres and one that I've been going to since I was a child. The whole place has a feel good, local spirit about it that is so welcoming. The building itself is beautiful, the facilities are fantastic and they have the best panto I've ever seen there year after year. You can catch up on that post and read more about this great place here, if you didn't see it before.
One of my favourite things about The Customs House is that they really nurture local talent and show how proud they are to be situated in the North East. There's a lot of talent up here and its great to be able to see that on stage in South Shields.
Last night, I visited the theatre to see a performance of the musical Dance Across the Tyne which is a Customs House Community Production written by David Cooke and Grahame Wright. This musical was created when Ray Spencer (aka Tommy the Trumpeter to all of you local folk and the Executive Director of The Customs House to everyone else) asked them to write another musical following the success of Dance to Your Daddy, last year.
I took my friend Kieron Boston along with me. He is a fabulous singer and budding thespian himself so I knew that he would enjoy going to the theatre.
Dance Across the Tyne tells the story of a boat load of Venezuelan sailers who dock in South Shields and cause a stir amongst the lads and lasses in the town, not to mention their parents. Jealousy and rivalries lead to tension and fighting but amongst it all, romance blossoms for a short time. Call it a missed opportunity or simply that it wasn't meant to be, Dance Across the Tyne shares the impact that a chance meeting can have on the lives of so many people for years to come.
It is a twisted tale of unrequited love, secrets and lies, regret and the feeling of what if. I'm sure this is something we've all felt at some point in our lives which is what makes this play feel incredibly real and believable.
It is set across three eras; 1959, 1984 and 1999 and the 18 strong cast move throughout them effortlessly. The play often reflects on earlier times before coming back to being in the moment which I really enjoyed as I felt as though I was able to understand the story and the background of characters more as I could see the story play out.
I don't want to say too much for fear of giving the plot away but if you come to see this show, you'll be certain to expect some twists in the plot.
The acting throughout was superb and I particularly liked the way that some of the characters grew older not just in appearance but in their stance and manner. The actors really embodied the personality of the characters which made them very believable. Natasha Haws who played Maria was an absolute stand out both in voice and acting. I recognised her as the actress who played Alice in last years panto, Alice In Wonderland and it was great to see her taking on a different role. She has a beautiful voice but what I loved the most about her performance was her story telling skills and the natural comedian in her. Her character was very believable and had plenty of the Sand Dancer charm that has you laughing out loud that we're known for in the North East.
While this is certainly a performance for adults young and old, I think locals will really appreciate the attention to detail in the script, with plenty of local references to times gone by. The show even has a screen as part of the set that combines old style footage with scenic views of South Shields shot by a drone which I think is really unique for a production like this and a great visual feature. It really helped to set the scene.
The music was very cleverly written, with the lyrics really conveying the story very well. There was a couple of small moments during the counterpoint songs in the first half that I felt could has been a little tighter and sometimes the voices and sound felt as though they were unevenly distributed on the stage. However in the second half, everything was very slick and the cast delivered a faultless performance.
It was in the second half that I really felt captivated by the story; I felt as though I really understood the characters and the emotion behind their decisions, which was very easy to get swept along in as someone watching the show. It takes brilliant acting to achieve that and I think the full cast did a tremendous job. The role of Christine played by Angela Hannon was particularly noteworthy; her solo was nothing short of INCREDIBLE!
Dance Across the Tyne is on until Saturday 5th March and I'd highly recommend heading to see it. After having a root canal today, an evening at the theatre was a lovely treat and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening!
Tickets are available to buy online here, direct from the box office or over the phone on 0191 454 1234. They're really affordable at only £10 for adults, £8 for concessions and £7 for friends of The Customs House.
What do you like to go to see at the theatre? Have you ever visited The Customs House?
*pro photos used with permission from The Customs House, the rest are snaps from my iPhone... please excuse my appearance, I've had a root canal today!