Archive | Arts & Culture

Evita at The Grand


Telling the story of Eva Perón, the wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Perón, the classic musical Evita returns to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 16th May for one week only.

Evita follows Eva’s journey from humble beginnings through to extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status which ultimately lead her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people.

Taking on the iconic role of Eva Perón is one of musical theatre’s most exciting leading ladies, Emma Hatton. She recently finished wowing audiences in the lead role of Elphaba in the West End’s production of Wicked. Prior to this she performed the principle roles of Scaramouche and Meatloaf in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, and Donna in the West End production of Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Making his UK debut is leading Italian performer Gian Marco Schiaretti taking the role of Che, a character who reflects the voice of the Argentine people – linked to Eva by destiny; he brings conflict to the story of Eva’s rise to fame.

Featuring some of the best loved songs in musical theatre, including Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, On This Night of a Thousand Stars, You Must Love Me, and Another Suitcase in Another Hall Evita continues to entertain audiences 40 years on.

Evita is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th May

Tickets are priced from £20.50 to £41.50

Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700



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Play about Leeds Chinese Communities Premières at Oriental City


From Shore to Shore is a new play by Mary Cooper in collaboration with MW Sun that weaves together three revealing and moving stories drawn from different generations of people from the British Chinese community. The production will be performed at Oriental City Restaurant in Leeds from the 16-18 May at 7.30pm (16th at 6.30pm and Mat performance at 12.30pm on the 17th).


Directed by David K S Tse, From Shore to Shore spans a century of Chinese history through its stories of love and loss, struggle and survival.

Taking place in a restaurant, enhancing the themes of food and its relationship to love and survival, and accompanied by a Chinese meal, From Shore to Shore blends  English, Mandarin and Cantonese in an innovative way.


Playwright Mary Cooper, who has written for BBC Radio 4, Channel 4 and Granada, and multilingual collaborator M W Sun have spent three years researching and recording stories with people in the Chinese community.

“From Shore to Shore draws on the stories of interviewees from 14 to 84, stories often hidden even from family members,” said Mary. The play reveals the long-view of migration – one of toil, endurance and success in the UK.  It has been an extraordinary insight into an undiscovered side of Britain’s rich contemporary diversity reaffirming our common humanity in these divisive times.”

For more info visit




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The Playhouse and Curve Theatre Present ‘The Graduate’

‘The Graduate’, adapted by Terry Johnson and based on the novel by Charles Webb, is currently at West Yorkshire Playhouse and running until Saturday 27th May, and I urge you to go and see it.

Directed by Lucy Bailey, it is a co-production by West Yorkshire Playhouse and Leicester’s Curve Theatre and captures 1960’s comfortable, suburban California so well. Benjamin has just graduated. He finds himself disillusioned by the world of his parents and is easily, if awkwardly and guiltily, seduced by their neighbour, Mrs Robinson, played to perfection by Catherine McCormack. She is a bored alcoholic, trapped in a loveless marriage and she delightedly plunges him into a world of sensual hedonistic pleasure which sets them both on a thrillingly destructive course.  Of course, Mrs Robinson has a lovely daughter and when Benjamin actually falls for her the gloves are off!

“The Graduate is a satire on the values and lifestyle of middle class suburban America”, said Lucy Bailey. “The world seen through Benjamin’s eyes is a heightened surreal version of reality, at times grotesques and absurd. It’s a coming of age play – painfully funny and deeply human.”

Catherine McCormack, best known for her roles in the ‘Braveheart’ with Mel Gibson, and ‘Spy Game’ with Brad Pitt, plays Mrs Robinson and is a joy to watch. In fact the entire cast is brilliant, though one criticism I heard was that perhaps Benjamin, played by Jack Monaghan, was a little overplayed, but I didn’t find that. Yes, he made you feel a little uncomfortable but he was meant to as he wrestled with his conscience, tried to avoid his parents questions, took Elaine (the daughter) on an excruciatingly awful date to a strip club (cue twirling nipple tassels!), found himself falling in love and having to explain that to Mrs Robinson….her husband….his parents….Elaine!

Very funny, sad and quite insightful. Don’t miss it!


Photos: Manuel Harlan

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The Hope Theatre Group Returns


The Hope Theatre Group is back up and running again, and will be presenting The Pleasure of the Fleeting Year at the HEART Centre, Headingley, on 20th, 26th and 27th May.

Founded in 2000 the group has staged no fewer than 13 productions of plays by Shakespeare plus plays by Christopher Marlowe, Sophocles and Christopher Fry, as well as a series of ‘words and music’ recitals.

The Hope Theatre Group presents The Pleasure of the Fleeting Year


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The Half-Shilling Curate: A Personal Account of War and Faith in 1914-1918




Sarah Reay’s ‘The Half-Shilling Curate’ (as he was affectionately known by his family), tells the personal story of an army chaplain, the Reverend Herbert Butler Cowl, from Christmas Eve 1914 to the end of hostilities in 1919. Based on his letters and writings, it illustrates the value of his faith during the war – the balance between being a chaplain and carrying out his duties as a British Army captain.

At the outbreak of war he volunteered to become a Wesleyan Army Chaplain and started documenting his journey with the Durham Light Infantry, from life in the Army Home Camp in Aldershot, to France and the Western Front near Armentières, where he was severely wounded.

On his journey back to England aboard the hospital ship Anglia, the ship hit a German mine in the Channel. As a result of his actions that day, he became one of the first Wesleyan Army Chaplains to receive the Military Cross for exemplary gallantry.

Although never fit enough to return to overseas duties, he worked as an army chaplain in army garrisons and home camps in England. The book gives an insight into day-to-day life and the strains of service as an army chaplain at Colchester and Portsmouth.

Twenty years later he found himself at the centre of another battle – the Second World War – and he was in London throughout the Blitz.

Herbert’s story concludes with the intimate observations of a spiritual man driven to follow his faith during war.


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Two Great Shows at The Carriageworks for Half Term



The Carriageworks Theatre has two brilliant dramas for children this May Half Term.

‘Don’t Dribble on the Dragon’ (ages 2+) is on Wednesday 31st May at 2pm. It is based on the book by Steven Lee and features Tom – a toddler with a cool older brother, a secret dragon, and a dribbling problem that just won’t stop. When his dribbling threatens to tear the brothers’ friendship apart, can a dose of crazy dragon magic save them? With magic designed by the late Paul Daniels, this is a magical musical adventure and a great feel good show for big hearted adults, cheeky cool kids and loving little ones.


‘Tarzanne’ (ages 7+) is on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June at 3 and 7pm. Presented by Interplay Theatre, it follows the story of a young girl lost to the jungle as a toddler and growing up with an adoptive family of apes. Interplay specialise in theatre that engages the senses and brings interactive storytelling in immersive environments to audiences.

Tickets for Don’t Dribble the Dragon (£8.50/£9.50 adults/ £34 family) and Tarzanne (£6 /£8 adults/ £24 family) are available from 0113 376 0318 or



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The Northern Short Story Festival is Back

The Northern Short Story Festival is on Saturday 3rd June at The Carriageworks Theatre.

Promoting the short story form through workshops and events, popular published authors, editors and small press publishers will come together to share their stories, expertise and wisdom with you.

The festival will feature two Q&A events: Small Press Panel – What do Editors look for in a Short Story? With host Becky Cherriman and guests Teika Bellamy, (Mother’s Milk Books), Jamie McGarry (Valley Press) and Becca Parkinson (Comma Press) and  Get Published, Get Shortlisted hosted by James Nash with writers Richard Smyth, A.J. Ashworth and Liz Ottosson.

There will also be four workshops: How to Tell a Story in an Image with Sarah Dobbs; Endings in Short Stories with Zoe Lambert; Crime Writing with Jacob Ross; and Look to the Stars, astronomy-inspired writing exercises led by A.J. Ashworth.

There’s a Flash Fiction Slam competition. 9 slots, 5 minutes, best story wins!  The judges are Jimmy Andrex and John Irving Clarke.

The festival organisers are delighted to launch Leone Ross’ new short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway, published by Peepal Tree Press. And also very excited to announce that they are launching The Walter Swan Short Story Prize 2017-18 at the Festival.

“We’re proud to bring the Northern Short Story Festival back for a second year, with a great line-up of writers and workshops, and affordable ticket prices that make the festival accessible for everybody,” said Leeds author and festival curator SJ Bradley.

Tickets range from £5 to £9 or you can buy a day ticket for £20. Full details can be found at

The Northern Short Story Festival is a partnership venture between the Leeds Big Bookend Festival and the Carriageworks Theatre, with additional funding from Leeds Inspired and Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.


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Green Film Festival Screening at Hyde Park This Week

This Thursday, May 4th, as part of the UK Green Film Festival, Hyde Park Picture House is screening ‘How To Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change’, the new film from Josh Fox.

Best known as the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning writer/director of Gasland, Josh Fox is internationally recognized as a spokesperson and leader on the issue of fracking and extreme energy development.

‘How To Let Go of the World’… follows Josh to 12 countries to investigate the greatest threat our world has ever known in his deeply personal style. Traveling to six different continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences, but asks what is so deep within us that climate change can’t destroy?





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New Yorkshire Murder Mystery Series

A fascinating and atmospheric crime mystery begins when a body is discovered deep in a cave system in the Yorkshire Dales. There are numerous suspects in the local village, but how did the body get there? And why did it apparently disappear for a while? The solution involves unusual historical research, a dramatic exploration of the caves and a hectic pursuit of the killers.

This is the first of a series of Yorkshire Murder Mysteries by J.R. Ellis, featuring DCI Oldroyd. For further information, visit

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Interview with Andrew Lancel, Star of A Judgement in Stone


Ruth Rendell’s thrilling mystery A Judgement in Stone is at The Grand Theatre from Monday, 24th – Saturday 29th April. Actor Andrew Lancel took time out to talk about his role in the production.


Q: How did you get involved with the play and what attracted you to it?

A: Working with Roy Marsden and Bill Kenwright again. Also, it’s a whole new genre for me and the first time I have played a copper since The Bill.

Q: You’ve worked with Bill Kenwright before on a couple of shows, nice to be part of one of his productions again?

A: Very. It’s my fourth in 3 years. I love the company and they put on things people want to see.

Q: A Judgement in Stone is widely considered to be Ruth Rendell’s greatest work – why do you think that is?

A: It’s a real statement on our class system. A fascinating story, sad, shocking and real.

Had you read the book before you were cast in the show – what did you love about the story?

A: No. The horror at the centre of the crime in such a class divide.

Q: How different is it being on stage as opposed to in front of the cameras?

A: Huge difference, it’s chalk and cheese. The discipline is hugely different. I just want to get on with it, I know my lines now. So come on – let’s get the curtain up!

But I’m learning more and more that its a process which I’m growing to love and when you’ve got someone like Roy Marsden up front, it makes a huge difference. His experience is so vast, you have to listen and take it on board. You don’t always have to agree but having a captain like that at the helm makes it enjoyable. It’s all about the part for me. I’ve had a nice long run with really good, usually intense characters, none more so than Epstein and Juror 3 in Twelve Angry Men. I’m very fortunate, whether it’s stage or telly or radio or singing, or whatever it is, as long as it’s interesting.

Q: Did you know or have you worked with any of your cast mates before?

A: Roy Marsden and Bill Kenwright. Also Ben Nealon as I did Soldier Soldier in 1996.

Q: This production has been on the road since January – what are the nicest things about being on the road?

A: Keeping it fresh. Great venues and seeing the country.

Q: Are there any dates on this tour you’ve not played, any cities you’re looking forward to visiting?

A: I haven’t been to Tunbridge Wells and Weston-super-Mare. Looking forward to returning to Newcastle, Wolverhampton, Leeds, Malvern and Cheltenham.

Q: Finally, without giving too much away, why should audiences come and see A Judgement in Stone?

A: It’s a ‘Why Done It?’ and ‘Who Done It?’.


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