Tag Archive | "City Varieties Music Hall"

Win a Family Ticket for Pantomime at City Varieties Music Hall


Win a Family Ticket for Four (max 3 adults) to one of the following preview performances of Aladdin the Rock’n’Roll Panto

Fri 24 Nov, 7pm; Sat 25 Nov, 7pm;
 Sun 26 Nov, 7pm.

Just answer the question: What was the title of the first Rock’n’Roll Panto at City Varieties?

Email your answer (with NORTH LEEDS LIFE in the subject line), together with your name, phone number or email address to marketing@cityvarieties.co.uk by noon on 17th November.


The winner will be picked at random from the correct answers. The decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Pantomimes at City Varieties date back at least to the early 1940s when Harry Joseph was proprietor. One famous tale exists of a woman giving birth during a performance of ‘Babes in the Wood’ in 1941… legend has it that the child was gifted free admission to the Varieties for Life.

Pantomimes fell from favour towards the end of the 1940s and it wasn’t until 1968, after Harry’s sons, Stanley and Michael had taken over, that they made a return, with Terry Cantor at the production helm. These often featured Terry’s son, Kenny Cantor, alongside other variety stars such as The Patton Brothers, Wendy King and the hugely popular clown Charlie Cairoli. Productions of ‘Cinderella’ during this period were famed for a coach pulled by real (but very small!) horses and ‘Snow White’ boasted ‘real dwarves’.

In the early 1980s, ownership of passed into the hands of Leeds City Council and General Manager Peter Sandeman was appointed. As well as reintroducing a stage version of ‘The Good Old Days’, he revived the family pantomime. Forming a partnership with writer-director Robin Davies (Catweazle, Shakespeare in Love), these hugely successful shows, ran for over 20 years and established the Leeds tradition of an anarchic ‘rock fight’ with sponges! After ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ completed its run in January 2009, the venue closed its doors for a major restoration, primarily funded by Leeds City Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of City Varieties.

Following the £9m refurbishment, City Varieties Music Hall re-opened in the Autumn of 2011 and that December hosted ‘Aladdin’ the first of the Rock’n’Roll Pantos – a very different format from the previous style, using a talented troupe of actor-musicians who performed all the classic hit songs and music live on stage. The ‘rock fight’ was given a makeover to become a ‘boulder battle’ with giant inflatable bouncing balls creating bedlam around the auditorium.

Over the past few years, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’, ‘Dick Whittington’, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ have all been given the Rock’n’Roll Panto treatment with increasing success and a whole new Leeds tradition has been born. This year the cycle begins again when the Varieties revisits ‘Aladdin’ – it’s time to start polishing those lamps!




Posted in Arts & Culture, Featured, TheatreComments (0)

Leeds at War; a Tale of a City of Culture


It is somewhat fitting that on Remembrance Day this year, the City Varieties Music Hall will welcome a production that commemorates both Armistice and the theatre’s own starring role during World War 1.

Those Were The Days takes to the stage on Saturday 11th November  – exactly 99 years after the hostilities of WW1 ended. It looks at both the dark days of the war along with the joys of live performance and Yorkshire spirit. Performed by actors ranging from ages six to 60, the production brings together history, entertainment and theatrical style with humour, emotion and a large dollop of Leeds.

“Those Were The Days celebrates this city; its people, its culture and, importantly, its theatres”, said Leeds writer and director Liz Coggins. “In the late 1800s and early 20th century, there were six theatres in Leeds and a music hall on practically every corner; the Music Halls were at the heart of the culture of the working classes; people would gather and sing, drink and laugh together and forget their troubles; when war broke out this didn’t stop – in fact it became even more important.”


The City Varieties was one such music hall. It began life in 1865 as a room above a pub and went on to entertain the people of Leeds through two world wars before becoming world famous for hosting the BBC programme The Good Old Days which ran every weekend for 30 years from 1953. As other such venues closed, the City Varieties continued and today is the longest running music hall in the country.

In what promises to be a pure celebration of music hall entertainment, the show on 11th November will introduce audiences to  the stars of the time;  Marie LloydVesta TilleyFlorrie FordCharlie Chaplin and Leeds lass Vesta Victoria each make an appearance, buoyed up by the songs and comedy sketches of the era. A live band supports the cast and songs include the famous Marrow Song, Yes! We Have No Bananas, It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and many more.

The Leeds characters that introduce the production and take the audience on its journey may well be fictitious, but their tales are based on real life stories; the story of the famous 15th Service Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment – better known as The Leeds Pals – is honoured, based on the accounts of a Leeds Pal called Harry – Liz’s own Grandfather.

The younger cast members are students at On Stage Academy. They work with Liz and her team to learn every aspect of theatre and stagecraft.

It is such a delight to see young people performing pieces from 100 years ago”, says Liz. “Children are never too young to experience live professional theatre in its many genres. The history of this profession is as important as the craft itself.  To this end I would encourage families to come together for an old-fashioned, much-loved evening at the theatre.”

Those Were The Days is at City Varieties Music Hall on Saturday November 11th at 7pm

Tickets are on sale now priced at £19.60

Book online at cityvarieties.co.uk or call Box Office on 0113 243 0808

Posted in Arts & Culture, HistoryComments (0)

Phill Jupitus Comes to City Varieties


Comedian Phill Jupitus comes to Leeds City Varieties on Thursday, 28 September .

Is there anything Phill Jupitus hasn’t done? He was a DJ on BBC 6 Music, team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, poet who supported Billy Bragg in the 1980s, TV and film actor, improv player, and musical star of Hairspray and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and now he’s returning to the live arena for a new stand-up tour in which he gets to be two people.

“I have a lot of material to choose from for this tour”, said Phill about his pun-loving stand-up, poetry and music show, Juplicity. “The thing that really works for me is that I support myself as Porky The Poet, so he goes out and does 40 minutes to start the evening. Because of Buzzcocks and other jobs, I let Porky and the poetry slide but after about a decade I came back to it, often just chucking stuff out on Facebook for mates to read. Combined with the old poems, and factoring in chit-chat between them, I had about an hour of material.”

Phill also has a proven track record of live music behind him from his time with the all-star Idiot Bastard Band. “The songs for this tour are solid; which all comes from the time I was in the band with Neil Innes and Ade Edmondson. Because I’ve spent time away from touring stand-up, you get better at doing it by building the source material. For the autumn tour I’ll do two hours: 40 minutes poetry, quarter of an hour of songs, and the rest is stand-up.”

Juplicity draws on Phill’s life, which he describes as both ‘chaotic’ and ‘flaky’. “Sean Lock has a phrase, that is both inspiring and worrying, about comedians mining their own personalities for material and then negotiating how much to keep back. Initially there was some resistance to me discussing things about my family.  As a comedian you are a person in a society within the world; all you have to do is look at things and shift your camera angle, then put a wider lens on the situation so that it resonates with people.”

It’s hard to know exactly what’s down the road for the ever-adaptable Mr Jupitus, but for now he’s enjoying the cut, thrust and edge-of-the-seat jeopardy that only live comedy can truly provide. “I think I’ve found a way of monetising a social dysfunction. I’ve always maintained that there’s something slightly wrong with arts and crafts types putting themselves in the most confrontational situation, which is standing in front of strangers and trying to get them on side.”

For tickets visit cityvarieties.co.uk

Posted in Arts & Culture, ComedyComments (0)

Roll up, roll up…A World Famous Leeds Variety Show in Support of our Carers.




Join local charity Carers Leeds this Saturday for an afternoon of great entertainment held in one of the UK’s oldest music halls. Five incredible acts from across the UK will come together for an afternoon of fun and entertainment.

Opera-lele – George Bartle and Amanda Harkett offer a crossover act specialising in singing music from opera and musical theatre accompanied by the emotionally powerful yet understated twang of the ukulele.

Andy Eastwood – specialist in the ukulele, ukulele-banjo, violin and guitar, in a high-energy, upbeat stage act, he combines his showmanship and personality with remarkable vocal and instrumental artistry.

The Mersey Belles – cousins Nancy and Pearl will take you on a trip down memory lane infusing the ukulele with fabulous renditions of all the old classics from the 20’s right up to the 50’s.

Alan Yates – offers music including George Formby, Melody and old time ‘Sing-alongs’ for those trips down memory lane! 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, Rock & Roll, Beatles, Shadows and Eagles.

Ray and Jonny – Whether it is wartime songs, or cheeky ballads, these boys have something for everyone.

Master of Ceremonies Matthew Ward – returns to the City Varieties to host a splendid afternoon of music and merriment and will ensure that the afternoon runs smoothly and splendiferously.

The Acts appearing are all giving their time and talents to show their support for the 72,000 carers living in Leeds. With your help, together we can support carers to take care of themselves, whilst caring for their loved ones.

For over 20 years Carers Leeds has been committed to improving the lives of the city’s unpaid carers and helping them to continue caring. Based in Leeds city centre, it delivers confidential one-to-one and group support, as well as advice over the phone and online.

Tickets are just £12 each or £10 for carers. To book call Carers Leeds on 0113 246 8338 or book online here.



Posted in Arts & Culture, Charity, Community NewsComments (0)

Camille O’Sullivan’s ‘Carny Dream’ at City Varieties




Award winning singer and actress Camille O’Sullivan brings her new show The Carny Dream to Leeds City Varieties on March 12th.

The French-Irish songstress is one of the country’s most celebrated artists and is taking her unique and enchanting performances on tour in the spring of 2017.

Camille O’Sullivan is one of Ireland’s most exciting performers who enjoys a formidable international reputation for her dramatic interpretations of the narrative songs of Nick Cave, Brel, Waits, Bowie, Radiohead and more. As much a storyteller as a singer, chameleon-like on stage, her performances are sometimes heartrending, occasionally mischievous but always a spine-tingling, exhilarating carousel ride. With her voice ranging from emotive rock to vulnerable whisper, Camille is fierce, playful and totally mesmerizing, transforming each song she interprets into a gripping theatrical experience. In this new show she has been inspired by the strange, magical, dark and light world of Circus and dreams, asking herself ‘where are you now and what did you dream?’

Camille has performed to audiences at London’s O2, Sydney Opera House and Royal Festival Hall. She returned to London’s  Roundhouse Theatre last year performing her show to a sold out crowd.

She has won numerous awards and garnered attention with a scene stealing performance on BBC Two’s Later…with Jools Holland (which lead her to support him at Royal Albert Hall). Camille was also chosen by Yoko One to perform John Lennon’s Double Fantasy alongside Patti Smith and Siouxsie Sioux at Meltdown 2014.




Posted in Arts & Culture, Sound & Vision, TheatreComments (0)

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto Rocks The City Varieties



The famous Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is rocking City Varieties Music Hall once again, and this year’s show, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ seems to have even more energy than previous years!

And they didn’t waste any time – it was only minutes before everyone was shouting at the stage. Justin Brett as Dame Taffeta Trott was suitably outrageous; Bethan-Wyn Davies made a lovely Princess Susie (cue ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’!); and Hannah Price as the bad witch was superbly nasty. Lisa Goodhand as Fairy Fanciful, who was the main narrator too, never missed a beat. Dyfrig Morris as King Camelot was hilarious and he and his sidekick Harold the Herald (Kenny Davies, who is basically addicted to Rock’n’Roll panto and appears nearly every year), produced some great slapstick moments.


Alex Wingfield was the handsome prince (Simon Steadfast) and Dan Bottomley Morgana’s hapless son and Simon’s competition – his rendition of ‘Sex Bomb’ was something else! Katia Sartini was excellent as a scatty sprite trying to win her fairy wings; and Scott Haining’s opening number ‘Celebration’ got the show off to a great start.


What always surprises me is how supremely talented the cast is – all play at least one instrument and there were some lovely voices. The show was packed with great music, featuring songs from the 50s through to the present. The show was rounded off with the traditional ‘Boulder Fight’, where giant balls (boulders!) are bouncing all over the audience.


“Our Rock’n’Roll Pantos have been extremely popular since they were first introduced in 2011”, says Ian Sime, General Manager at City Varieties. “They have grown year on year and have now become a Christmas tradition for families in Leeds and beyond.”

A great time was had by all! The show continues until 8th January. Tickets (£14 – £25) are available from 0113 243 0808 or online at cityvarieties.co.uk


Posted in Arts & Culture, Younger LifeComments (0)

Shappi Khorsandi at City Varieties




Shappi Khorsandi is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of her arrival in Britain and bringing her new show, Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey to City Varieties Music Hall on Wednesday 21 September. She’s reclaiming patriotism, sending a love letter to her adopted land. Please don’t come if you’re a skinhead (though naturally bald folk are welcome).

Star of Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News for You and Q.I., Shappi is back with whip-crack jokes and is effortlessly funny as she handles every subject with a razor sharp wit, softened only by her deliciously mischievous delivery and endless charm.

Shappi has notched up numerous high profile television appearances including; Live At The Apollo (BBC ONE), Channel 4’s Comedy Gala At The O2 (Channel 4, 2010 – 2016), Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (BBC ONE), The Graham Norton Show (BBC ONE), Have I Got News For You (BBC ONE) and her own Comedy Store Special for Comedy Central. She also had the honour of being nominated at the prestigious British Comedy Awards in the Best Female Comic category up against fellow nominee’s Jo Brand and Sarah Millican.  Shappi has also appeared as a panelist on ITV1’s Loose Women and BBC ONE’s Question Time.

In December 2015, Shappi was also elected president of the British Humanist Society.

Tickets: 0113 243 0808, www.cityvarieties.co.uk

www.shappi.co.uk / @shappikhorsandi




Posted in ComedyComments (0)

The Story of Guitar Heroes


Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin, Brian May and Slash are just some of the outstanding guitar heroes you will have the chance to experience. This live concert-style ‘rockumentary’ is performed by renowned musician Phil Walker and his exceptional band.

Phil grew up in Cleckheaton and started playing the guitar at the age of six, thanks to his father who was a guitar player in the 1960s. He turned professional as soon as he left school and soon got a reputation as one of the most versatile guitarists in the country. Over the years, he has toured the world with various artists, including Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, Sarah Jory, Circus Of Horrors, Doctor & The Medics, Rose Marie and many more.


“To get the chance to bring my own show to City Varieties is just fantastic”, said Phil. “I have seen some of my favourite bands play there, so for me to play there myself is just incredible.”

With over 20 guitars used on stage, the show accurately recreates the sound and ambiance of each guitar hero, starting from the 1950s through to the present day. The show also uses the very latest in video screen technology to create a larger than life event.

The Story of Guitar Heroes is at City Varieties on Thursday 31st March, 7:30pm. Tickets (£ 21.60) are available from 0113 243 0808, or www.cityvarieties.co.uk


Posted in Sound & VisionComments (0)

“Ventriloquist for the South Park Generation” Comes to City Varieties

The America’s Got Talent 2015 winner, British ventriloquist and comedian Paul Zerdin, returns to the UK with a major tour kicking off here in Leeds: Spongefinger is at City Varieties Music Hall on Friday 8th April .

Paul Zerdin’s award-winning and redefining puppetry work is aided and abetted by his loveable sidekicks the precocious Baby, cantankerous OAP Albert and cheeky pre-teen Sam.

Zerdin made his TV debut in 1996 as the first outright winner – by over 100,000 votes – of LWT’s The Big Big Talent Show, hosted by Jonathan Ross. Since then he has appeared on countless TV shows including Comedy Central’s The World Stands Up, ITV1’s Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford, Tonight at The London Palladium, The Princes Trust Gala and three appearances at The Royal Variety Performance. Winning Series 10 of America’s Got Talent in September last year, Zerdin and his sidekicks soon went viral on YouTube, receiving millions of views from around the world.

Since his win, Zerdin has completed a headline show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas and is also in talks with various US TV networks; catch him in the beautiful intimate venue that is City Varieties!

Paul Zerdin Spongefinger is at City Varieties Music Hall on Friday 8th April

Tickets: £19.10

Book online at cityvarietes.co.uk or call box office on 0113 243 08 08


“Technically immaculate, it’s what he does with his slick talent that really sets him apart. His relationship with the characters has all the dramatic tension of a real life double act” The Guardian

“When you are not laughing you are simply in awe” Three Weeks Edinburgh

Posted in Arts & Culture, Comedy, TheatreComments (0)

Eddi Reader at City Varieties


After years as a session singer and touring around Europe, it was Fairground Attraction really brought Eddi Reader to the attention of a wider audience. The single ‘Perfect’ and album ‘First of a Million Kisses’ both topped the British charts, and her subsequent albums signalled her ability to assimilate different musical styles and make them all very much her own.

In 2001 she moved back to Glasgow where she recorded the classic ‘Songs of Robert Burns’ album. She took her Burns songs all over the world and found connections to the bard everywhere from Kolkata, India, to Sydney, Australia. In 2006 she released ‘Peacetime’ on Rough Trade Records featuring some of the finest traditional players and produced by John McCusker.

‘Love Is The Way’, Eddi’s seventh solo album, was released in 2009. Produced by Eddi herself, it is her best work so far. Recorded in a matter of days with her band in Glasgow, the record has captured her finest form. It includes songs written with Boo Hewerdine, and John Douglas (The Trashcan Sinatras); a song from Irish singer/songwriter Declan O’Rourke, a rare Brian Wilson composition, an Eddi/Fleetwood Mac ‘mash up’, and a wonderful song from Dublin songwriter Jack Maher.


2010 saw Eddi play sold out shows promoting “Love Is The Way” all over the world. It also brought Eddi’s Hollywood movie debut as she featured in Richard Linklaters, “Me And Orson Welles” with Zak Efron and Clare Danes. Eddi plays a chanteuse in the movie and is featured singing ‘Lets Pretend That There’s A Moon’ with the Jools Holland Orchestra.

From the traditional to the contemporary, Eddi brings life to all forms of song. What sets Reader apart is the depth and quality of the emotional performance; her ability not only to move the listener but to connect her experience to that of her audience. She has effortlessly developed into one of popular music’s most thrilling and affecting performers.

Leeds City Varieties

Friday 25 March

Tickets: £24.10 (+ booking fee)


Posted in Sound & VisionComments (0)