Backstage blogging… the Christmas edit

Helen Fussell, aka our woman with the lowdown on Newcastle and Gateshead’s independent stages offers some seasonal theatre highlights. Diaries at the ready, if you please…

At this time of year some of us are feeling a bit frazzled trying to get everything done before the holidays, but making time for a night out with friends and family is the perfect antidote to Christmas burn out.

Here are some of the things that have got me feeling festive this December, and a few more shows coming up that are guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Last week, the whole of Byker Primary School came to see A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage through the theatre’s Pay It Forward scheme. If you haven’t seen it yet, Mark Calvert and the team have made a cracking show and it’s been getting brilliant reviews, but what really made it for me was when the kids couldn’t wait to tell us about their favourite bits afterwards.

Byker Primary School children enjoy A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage

Byker Primary School children loving A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage

The standing ovation on press night nearly brought a tear to my eye, but when a six year old jumps out of their seat at the end of the show because they’re just bursting to tell you all about their first ever visit to the theatre you know you’re onto a winner.

A Christmas Carol is on until January 5 (top tip: shows after Christmas have most availability and you might still be able to bag bargain tickets!)

Billed as ‘the perfect Christmas boxset’, this December Live Theatre offers a wry, funny and alternative look at the festive period with four plays by Olivia Hannah, Henry Lawrence, Jamie Morren and Tamsin Daisy Rees – four talented writers based in the North East who were discovered through Live Theatre’s artist development programme.

Christmas Crackers at Live Theatre

Live Theatre is showing a quartet of Christmas Crackers this festive season

Oh, and Live have finally got a card machine in their bar so you can eat, drink and be merry without having to nip out in the freezing cold for cash.

Christmas Crackers  is on until 22 December. Visit the dedicated page on the website to find out more and grab your tickets.

Over at the city’s ‘best-kept secret’, Alphabetti Theatre have got a Christmas Market today (Saturday December 15) from 12pm-5pm. With mulled wine and a special festive pop up choir with the brilliant Beccy Owen, this one is worth popping into even if you’re one of those smug types who’s already got all their presents wrapped up.

Christmas Cabaret at Alphabetti Theatre

A Christmas Cabaret at Alphabetti Theatre promises a nailed-on festive treat

On stage at Alphabetti, you’ll find some of the region’s best independent theatre makers getting Christmassy AF in the Christmas Cabaret (December 18-22). Look out for The Last Stop directed by the fabulous Karen Traynor (assistant director on A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage); Olive written by Mhairi Ledgerwood whose work has been performed at the Traverse, Northern Stage and Live Theatre; and Holly and Ivan by Christina Berriman-Dawson (currently in the Theatre Royal’s panto) and musician Richard Dawson, and directed by the very talented Emma Roxburgh.

And if that’s not Christmassy enough for you, Alphabetti promise a good old festive sing-along in-between plays.

Follow Helen Fussell on twitter @HellFuss

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