CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED shows, Edinburgh Fringe Festival hits and renowned performance companies – the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme is bringing a host of professional productions to communities throughout Northumberland.
A packed programme of theatre, music and dance is lined up for the region, as part of Highlights’ spring season, which runs from February to May.
Villages such as Bamburgh, Rennington, Howick and Seahouses are all on the itinerary over the coming months, with a range of shows planned.
But Whittingham is first on the list, when the village’s Memorial Institute hosts Pip Utton’s one-man portrayal of Charles Dickens on Saturday, February 11 (see preview, right).
Highlights is a rural touring scheme, working in partnership with a network of more than 30 village halls and community venues across Northumberland to provide professional touring theatre, as well as dance, music, comedy, children’s shows and exhibitions.
It receives funding from Northumberland County Council and Arts Council England, and makes it possible for smaller, isolated villages to offer their communities access to touring productions from regional, national and international performance companies.
Esther Hingle, outreach worker for Highlights Northumberland, said: “Highlights events are a great social night out. They offer a friendly and intimate alternative to traditional theatre venues and bring quality performances to the doorstep of small communities.”
• Pip Utton is Charles Dickens: One-man show describing Dickens’ final moments before reliving what he believes were the happiest years of his life. Saturday, February 11, Whittingham Memorial Institute, 7.30pm, tickets £7, £4.50 child, bookings 01665 574964.
• Chris Newman Trio – Still Getting Away with It: Boundary-crossing music, from Irish to American to swing and modern jazz, interspersed with warm/witty anecdotes. Friday, March 16, Rennington Village Hall, 7.30pm, £8.50, £5 child, bookings 01665 577535. Saturday, March 17, 7.30pm, Berwick United Reformed Church, £8.50, £3.50 child, bookings 07752 403409.
• Whitebone Productions – Bane: Award-winning, one-man comedy. Sunday, February 26, Hepscott Parish Hall, 7.30pm, £10 (includes buffet), bookings 01670 514031.
• Monster Ceilidh Band: Newcastle’s four-piece Monster Ceilidh Band hurl the tradition of ceilidh into the 21st century. Friday, February 24, Pegswood Community Project, 7pm, £6.50, £4.50 conc, £16 family, bookings 01670 512185.
• Alison Neil – Truly Yours, CB: One-woman show portraying the life of Charlotte Brontë. Saturday, March 3, Middleton & Todridge Village Hall, 7.30pm, £7.50, £3.50 child, £20 family, bookings 01670 772600.
• Open Clasp Theatre Company – Swags & Tails: Comedy drama telling multiple stories of life after 70. Saturday, March 10, Seahouses Sports & Community Centre, 7pm, £7, £4 child, £18 family, bookings 01665 721868.
• Lebedek: Pan-European music, featuring Russian folk songs, Eastern European Gypsy music, and more. Sunday, April 15, Crookham Village Hall, 7.30pm, £8.50, bookings 01890 820706.
• Bare Toed Dance Company – Fly By Night: A playful aerial dance show themed around sleep, dreams and bedtime. A show for pre-school/young primary children and their families. Thursday, April 26, Berwick United Reformed Church, 2pm, £7.50, £3.50 child, bookings 07752 403409. Free workshop, 3pm, advance booking required.
• Trifle Gathering Productions – A Curious Evening of Trance and Rap with The Ogden Sisters: A deliriously absurd and witty show by Nick Whitby where audiences voyage to the physical realm, through the etheric region and right up to the brass knocker of a portal door. Friday, May 4, Bamburgh Pavilion, 7.30pm, £7.50, bookings: 01665 721061.
• The Stu Brown Sextet – Raymond Scott Project: An evening of wacky, hyper-animated, eyeball-popping cartoon jazz widely recognisable in numerous cartoons, including The Simpsons. Thursday, May 10, Whittingham Memorial Institute, 7.30pm, £7, £4.50 child, bookings 01665 574964.
• Keira Dance – Threads: A fresh and distinctive fusion of contemporary and Irish dance styles. Friday, May 18, Whalton Village Hall, 7.30pm, £7, £4 child, £20 family, bookings 01670 775386.
• Teasel Theatre Company – Grisly Tales from Tumblewater: A funny, spooky and playful adaptation of Bruno Vincent’s dark novel. Aged 8 and over. Saturday, May 19, 7.30pm, Hepscott Parish Hall, £9, £4 child (includes buffet), bookings 01670 514031. Sunday, May 20, Howick Village Hall, 7pm, £7, £4 child, £20 family, bookings 01665 577384. Saturday, May 26, Seahouses Sports & Community Centre, 7pm, £7, £4 child, £18 family, bookings 01665 721868.
• New Perspectives Theatre Company – The Honey Man: A tale of growing up and growing old, of shared history, of dying bees, healing herbs and possibly a little magic. Saturday, May 26, Pegswood Community Project, 7pm, £6.50, £4.50 conc, £16 family, bookings 01670 512185.
For more information about the shows, visit www.highlightsnorth.co.uk