Curtain Warmer

30th January 2023 Progressive Players News
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The Progressive Players got 2023 off to a top-hole start with a spiffingly bonkers comedy by The Goodale Brothers. Based on stories by PG Wodehouse and performed by a cast of three taking multiple roles, Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense gave our audiences a warm glow on cold evenings. As one patron was heard to say at the end of the show; “Just what you want in January, a good laugh!”.

If you’ve checked out the What’s On section of this website, you’ll know that we’ve got some cracking titles lined up to take us through spring and on into the summer months.

In February we present Bothered and Bewildered by Liverpool playwright Gail Young. The play is described by publishers Concord Theatricals as a “tragi-comedy about memory, loss, secrets and, above all, love”. At the heart of the play is a sensitive portrayal of one woman’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, and of her daughters’ efforts to cope. There is much laughter, maybe a few tears – and a special appearance by a certain romantic novelist of real-life renown!

Our March production is The Diary of Anne Frank, dramatised by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. German-born Jewish girl Annelies Marie Frank was executed at Belsen in either February or March 1945 – the precise date is unknown. Her story has touched and inspired millions since. It was 1959 when we first staged this remarkable play about a remarkable young girl, and we are proud to present it again in 2023.

Playwright Shelagh Stephenson was born in Tynemouth, and it’s one of her plays which provides our production for April. Enlightenment is a compelling mystery and a powerful study of parental grief and hope amidst uncertainty.

A much-loved favourite returns to the Little Theatre in June. JB Priestley’s charming comedy When We Are Married has been performed by the Progressive Players four times (1945, 1964, 1983 and 2005) and we make no apologies for staging this evergreen classic a fifth time. The programme notes for our 1964 version stated:

“With this production … we are celebrating the twenty-first anniversary of the opening of the Little Theatre, which was completed in 1943”

So it’s appropriate that we again present When We Are Married in 2023, our Little Theatre’s 80th anniversary!

That’s as far as our What’s On section currently goes, but fear not – we have more great productions lined up to take us right into next winter. We’ll be announcing the titles soon, but… want a few hints?

Plays with ‘murder’ in the title always seem to go down well, and the Progressive Players have staged quite a few over the last century. In July we’re adding to the number with a superb thriller adapted by Shaun McKenna from a novel by Peter James. A five-star review by London Theatre 1 called it “A masterpiece of comedy theatre – macabre, farcical, yet delicious, it really is just perfect”.

After our customary August break we return in September with a delightful two-hander comedy written by John Godber. It’s been a while since we last presented one of his plays at the Little Theatre Gateshead. 2006 in fact, and the play was Teechers. The title of this year’s choice is especially appropriate…

As aficionados of the Progressive Players will be aware, it was in October 1943 that we staged our first play in the newly-built Little Theatre; A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. In October 2023 we revisit the Bard of Avon when we present what promises to be an unforgettable production of one of his greatest and most famous works. Clues: we’ve done it before, and it’s not A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Last December, as an experiment, we staged a short festive play for children aged between 3 and 8. The Elf Who Saved Santa proved highly successful, so we’ve decided to do another one this year! It’ll be a new play which will follow the same format of feel-good fun, with no wicked witches or evil kings. Plus, every child will get the chance to go up onto the stage and meet Santa himself.

Wait a minute, we hear you cry, will there be nothing in November? Well, yes, there will be, but we haven’t chosen it yet! Our November production will be finalised very soon, so keep checking for details on our website and social media – we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.