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THE MERSEY BEATLES JOIN ‘UTILITA LIVE FROM THE DRIVE-IN’ SERIES

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The legendary music of The Beatles will be celebrated in the band’s home city with a major open-air concert on the banks of the River Mersey.

It is today confirmed world renowned Liverpool-born tribute band The Mersey Beatles will play a special drive-in show at Liverpool’s Central Docks as part of Live Nation’s Utilita Live From The Drive-In series.

And this unmissable concert – on Sunday July 26 – is set to be this summer’s biggest live music tribute to the Fab Four in the UK.
Tickets go on sale on Monday June 29 at 10am via www.livenation.co.uk

Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, is reimagining the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in a one-of-a-kind drive-in setting.

Designed to comply with all official guidelines, Utilita Live From The Drive-In will see some of the biggest names in UK music perform live on stage backed by a full concert production. Audiences at 12 sites across the UK will enjoy shows from the comfort of their own private viewing zones next to their cars – with each zone appropriately distanced from one another.

Tony Hadley, The Streets, Cream Classical Ibiza, Gary Numan, Embrace, KT Tunstall, Tom Grennan, Lightning Seeds, The Zutons and Beverley Knight are among the headliners already confirmed for the Liverpool series.

And music fans are in for a hit-packed treat as The Mersey Beatles bring their famed live show – which takes audiences on a magical trip through the iconic music of the greatest band of all time – to the Mersey’s world-famous docklands on July 26 (21:00 BST).

Formed in Liverpool in 1999, The Mersey Beatles – Mark Bloor (John), Steven Howard (Paul), Craig McGown (George), Brian Ambrose (Ringo) and Tony Cook (keys/percussion) – were the resident Beatles’ band at the legendary Cavern Club between 2002-2012 – clocking up more than 600 gigs.

Since leaving The Cavern, the band has toured the world many times over – winning legions of fans for their faithful recreation of The Beatles’ unmistakable Liverpool-born sound.

Steven said: “We cannot wait for July 26 – it’s going to be an incredibly special night on the banks of the River Mersey here in our home city.

“Like all bands we saw all our touring plans for 2020 – which included shows across Europe, America and Australia – halted by the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Utilita Live From The Drive In’ is a brilliant concept by Live Nation and we are thrilled to be part of it.

“It’s going to be so great to get out there on a stage again and play for an audience. This show is going to be a hit-packed celebration of the greatest band of all-time – and played where it all began right here in Liverpool. It’s going to be amazing!”

For more information about Utilita Live From The Drive-In, including performance schedules, locations and full terms and conditions, go to  www.LiveNation.co.uk/utilitalivefromthedrivein

HEIR FOLLOW THEIR HEROES TO RECORD AT WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS STUDIOS

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Groove pop band Heir have followed in the footsteps of their music heroes – all the way to Abbey Road!

The Leeds-based five-piece – whose reputation and fanbase is growing across the UK – debut their eagerly-awaited new single Fear of Falling on Thursday June 18th.

The brilliant slice of throwback pop was not only recorded at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios but was produced by the great Ken Scott who has famously worked with such icons as The Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Elton John.

The magical experience at Abbey Road was new territory for Heir whose previous singles were all recorded in the far more humble surroundings of their home studio.


Heir Frontman Tom Hammond said:
“It’s just mad to think our new single was recorded at Abbey Road and produced by Ken Scott who is just a legend.

“It’s certainly a long way from recording at home with up-turned mattresses for vocal booths and keeping your fingers crossed that delivery drivers or door-to-door salesmen do not disturb you!

“For any musician, to walk into this hallowed studio, the place where so many famous artists have recorded – where The Beatles created Sgt Pepper – is a moment you don’t really even dare dream about because it feels so intangible. We struggle to say that we were allowed in there without smirking – it’s crazy really!”

Fear of Falling is the lead single from the band’s new two-song release Heir at Abbey Road which also includes the heartfelt and beautiful track Victoria Falls.

The amazing opportunity to record at Abbey Road came about when multi-Grammy Award nominee Ken was on the lookout for a band to work with as part of his role as visiting professor at Leeds Beckett University.

After being sent a list of Leeds-based bands he chose Heir, five mates – Tom Hammond (vocals/guitar), Sam Perry (keys), Harry Vernon (bass), Samuel Newham (drums) and

Ste Fisher (guitar) – who first met at the city’s College of Music and now have a burgeoning reputation as purveyors of uplifting and infectious pop.

“We worked with Ken for a few days in Leeds and got on very well,” Tom added. “He then kindly asked us to join him for a project at Abbey Road. We, of course, said yes instantly and we recorded there in Studio 3 for two days.

“It was an experience that’s difficult to relay in a way that does it justice. Each of the boys have strong emotional connections to records that were made there and to be trusted by the man who brought them to life to do the same with our songs is something we will be forever grateful for.

“We’ve never been in a proper studio before and then here we are at the studios where some of the most famous and ground-breaking music was created.

“We learned so much from working with Ken. He gave us the confidence to just go for it and I think that comes across in the songs we recorded.”

Ken, who worked on no fewer than eight albums with The Beatles at Abbey Road as well as Bowie’s iconic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, said: “I have to feel that thing a fan would feel for the bands that I work with. For me that’s Heir at the moment.”

Heir had been due to follow their EP release with sold out live dates in London, Manchester and Newcastle before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

The band, who have opened for the likes of Honne, Olly Murs and Lawson as well as playing Leeds and Reading Festivals, have had previous releases featured on BBC 6 Music and are a name on the tip of the tongue of the team at BBC Introducing. They are currently working on new material which they will be releasing very soon.

Heir at Abbey Road is available to download and stream via all major music platforms from June 18th.

Marisha Wallace releases glorious gospel rendition of ‘Tomorrow’

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West End and Broadway star Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls, Waitress, Aladdin) has released a glorious and soulful cover of the timeless ‘Tomorrow’ from the musical Annie in aid of the vital work of Broadway Cares and MAD Trust.

100% of the funds raised from the purchase and streaming of the new single will be donated to both organisations to help theatre professionals in the US and UK who have been left out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first time Broadway Cares and MAD (Make A Difference) Trust has ever partnered together to receive a joint donation.

“Tomorrow is a song I’d listen to when I needed some positivity to get me through the tough times –  and boy, do we need that now more than ever,” says Marisha from her apartment in London where she has been quarantining since March.

The track was self-recorded entirely from her apartment and then shipped over to and produced by music producer, Steve Anderson (Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears).

Marisha added: “I wanted to give this song new life. I recorded it in my living room and cried between takes. It was healing me, and I wanted it to heal others.

“So, I called my friends and all the fans to stand with me. When we sing the lyrics of ‘Tomorrow’ we stand in solidarity that together we will get through this dark time for our community. The world may feel darker than ever but one thing I do know – the sun will come out tomorrow.”

The video features many stars of stage and screen including Katharine McPhee, Lea Salonga, Leslie Odom Jr, Ledisi, Beverley Knight, Ben Forster, Alex Newell, Nina West and Kerry Ellis joining in virtually from their homes.

You can stream/purchase the song here: https://lnk.to/1Y4QrjS0

Donate to Broadway Cares at www.broadwaycares.org/help2020

Donate to MAD Trust by texting 70111 to donate €5 in the UK or www.madtrust.org.uk/covid

EVERYBODY DANCE… NILE RODGERS & CHIC ARE RETURNING TO SCARBOROUGH OAT

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The undisputed Kings of Disco Nile Rodgers & CHIC are returning to the Yorkshire coast for what promises to be this summer’s ultimate party night.

The legendary hit-makers will play a headline show at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on Friday August 21.

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday (March 13) via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com

Nile Rodgers is a multiple Grammy Award-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist with more than 200 production credits to his name. He is constantly traversing new musical terrain and successfully expanding the boundaries of popular music.

As the co-founder of CHIC, he pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits such as Le Freak, Good Times and Everybody Dance that sparked the advent of hip-hop.

Nile Rodgers & CHIC are no strangers to Scarborough Open Air Theatre having played a sell-out show at the venue in 2018.

Nile said: “As most people know the UK is my home from home. Myself and CHIC had a brilliant time when we played Scarborough OAT in 2018 and we cannot wait to come back again this summer. It’s going to be another amazing night – so bring your dancing shoes!”

Nile transcends all styles of music across every generation with a body of work that’s gained him inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

His work with CHIC and his productions for artists such as David Bowie, Diana Ross and Madonna have sold more than 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. His innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk, Avicii, Sigala, Disclosure and Sam Smith reflect the vanguard of contemporary music.

This unmissable Scarborough OAT show is presented by Cuffe and Taylor. Promoter Peter Taylor said: “Nile Rodgers & CHIC are global superstars and we are delighted to be bringing them back to Scarborough OAT.

“The show in 2018 was brilliant, Nile and CHIC never fail to get an entire arena on their feet dancing. This is going to be one of the highlights of the summer and I would strongly advise people to get their tickets now because you will not want to miss this!”

Tickets for Nile Rodgers and CHIC go on sale via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com or in  person, from Scarborough Open Air Theatre Box Office (01723) 818111 and the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau (01723) 383636.

MACY GRAY AND LIGHTHOUSE FAMILY ADDED TO YORK FESTIVAL LINE-UP

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Grammy Award winner Macy Gray and British pop-soul stars Lighthouse Family will join music legend Lionel Richie for an unforgettable night at York Festival.

The two chart-topping stars are the latest additions to a stellar line-up for the brand-new music festival which will be held at York Sports Club between Friday June 19th and Sunday June 21st.

British music icons Madness headline the opening night before pop superstars Westlife take to the stage on Saturday and then Lionel Richie will close the festival on the Sunday.

And the four-time Grammy Award-winner will now be joined on the night by two artists with hit-packed live sets.

Macy Gray first broke onto the scene in 1999 with her debut album On How Life Is. Inspired by the stylings of Billie Holiday, the American R&B and soul singer-songwriter is revered for her wonderful and unmistakable voice.

Her hit song, I Try achieved global acclaim and delivered her a Grammy while debut album On How Life Is sold an incredible seven million copies around the world.

In the 20 years since, Macy has amassed a global fan base, appeared in many films and TV shows and released 10 studio albums — most recently 2018’s Ruby. As well as sold-out live shows and her own hit albums, she has featured on songs with such artists as Dolly Parton and Ariana Grande.

Lighthouse Family became one of the most successful British bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, selling more than 10 million albums and producing such timeless hits as Lifted, High and Ocean Drive.

The Newcastle-based duo – singer Tunde Baiyewu and keyboardist Paul Tucker – released their first single Lifted in 1995. The uplifting pop-soul classic went on to become one of the defining songs of the era.

Six-times platinum debut album Ocean Drive was followed by Top 10 albums Postcards From Heaven and Whatever Gets You Through The Day. After an 18-year hiatus, Tunde and Paul reunited last year to record Blue Sky In Your Head, their fourth studio album, which saw them matching the chart success of their previous releases.

York Festival director Peter Taylor said: “We are delighted to add both Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family to our debut line-up. Together with the global icon that is Lionel Richie this is going to be an amazing and unforgettable night.”

York Festival’s opening night headliners Madness will be joined by indie chart-toppers Lightning Seeds, Craig Charles with his famous Funk and Soul Club DJ set together with Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York’s very own Violet Contours.

Joining Westlife on the Saturday night will be superstar pop group All Saints, Brit singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis Bextor, indie rock band Scouting for Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald, who will be spinning the discs for a very special DJ set.

For more information and tickets go to www.york-festival.com

KIDZ BOP look ahead to first-ever UK headline tour

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KIDZ BOP the #1 music brand for kids, is bringing the KIDZ BOP World Tour to the UK for eight live concert dates in April 2020.

 This marks the first-ever headlining tour for The British KIDZ BOP kids, who have sold more than 275,000 albums to date.

The tour, which features today’s biggest hits “sung by kids for kids”, will visit iconic venues across the UK during the Easter holidays, opening at the world-famous The London Palladium on Tuesday, April 7. It follows the release of KIDZ BOP’s fifth UK album, KIDZ BOP 2020.

The KIDZ BOP Kids, Ashton, Max, Mia, and Twinkle, will bring the interactive live family-friendly concert experience to the following cities:

Tues April 7 – The London Palladium

Weds April 8 – The London Palladium

Fri April 10 – Liverpool Empire Theatre

Sat April 11 – Birmingham Symphony Hall

Mon April 13 – Glasgow SEC Armadillo

Weds April 15 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

Thurs April 16 – Cardiff St David’s Hall

Fri April 17 – Manchester Bridgewater Hall

The tour will see the KIDZ BOP Kids perform some of today’s biggest global pop hits live on stage. The all-new show features awesome set design, costumes, exciting choreography, and tonnes of cool surprises! Dads even have the chance to show off their best dance moves on stage during the “Daddy Dance Off.”

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com 

 

We spoke to Ashton (14), Max (15), Mia (14) and Twinkle (13) as they prepare for the tour.

 

How long have you been in KIDZ BOP?

MAX (15): Just over three years now for me. I wouldn’t say I’m a veteran, but I am part of the original UK team, and we’ve added a few new people along the way.I’ve seen it grow and it has been so much fun doing all the shows.

I’d seen the American KIDZ BOP Kids and watched their videos loads before I auditioned – and seeing them doing all that and their live shows, I was so excited to be chosen for the UK team.

MIA (14): I’ve been in KIDZ BOP just over a year. It was a bit of a different start for me, as I was filmed during the audition process for a TV show. I was at school with Ashton and Twinkle, so I knew a bit of what KIDZ BOP was all about when I started the audition process which was massive with being on TV too. There were a lot of stages, and the very last one I was performing with the KIDZ BOP Kids, and when we finished, I was told I’d been chosen.

TWINKLE (13): I was 10 when I started, so it’s been over three years now, it’s gone so quickly. I did the same as Max and Ashton, going through a whole big audition process at the very start of it all; lots of rounds of dancing and singing, and I eventually got in. I was at the Sylvia Young Stage School for about a year before auditioning.

ASHTON (14): It’s been about three years since I signed up with KIDZ BOP, and it’s been incredible seeing how much we have grown from just making music videos here in the UK through to travelling to New York last year [2019] to film there on location, and then looking forward to 2020 and having our own tour in the UK.

 

What’s your favourite thing about being a KIDZ BOP Kid?

MAX: I love performing, I love being on stage – so the tour will be amazing; singing some of my favourite songs with some of my best friends. It’s amazing to think we now have a tour which will be all about us, the UK kids, after having done a big live show alongside the American kids last year.

MIA: It’s like all my dreams come true to be in KIDZ BOP; I get to rehearse songs, travel the world with my best friends, it’s all amazing. Honestly, I do love everything about it, but probably at the moment, I’m super excited for the tour and starting rehearsals to learn the new dances. I love all the clothes we get to wear too. We have a stylist called Gemma, who brings all the outfits to out shoots, I always look forward to seeing what she’s got for us.

TWINKLE: For me, it’s actually the rehearsals for our live shows and performances – which is a bit different to the others. It’s the time when we get to experiment with new dance moves and our vocals, and we learn so much during the rehearsal sessions. The process of creating the show is hard work but so much fun, and then we get to go out there, perform and see all the reactions from the audience; I love watching out for that too.

ASHTON: I really enjoy the production side of it, making the songs and learning about that technical process. Then, of course, we take it out to the live shows and performances and it’s amazing to see people singing the tracks back to you.

 

KIDZ BOP is massive in America where it first launched – and it’s growing more and more popular here in the UK now too. What’s the difference between the UK and US KIDZ BOP Kids?

MAX: We usually sing UK chart songs, and the US kids will sing the songs from their charts. But then there are some huge hits, which are big tracks on both sides of the Atlantic and we come together for those. Last year [2019], we went to New York to film with the US kids – and did Lizzo’s Truth Hurts where we appear in the US kids’ video, and we did Jess Glynne’s One Touch with them in our video. In November 2018, we had our first trip to America with KIDZ BOP, recording One Kiss (Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa) in the studio, but the trip last year was the first time we got out and about filming videos as well as recording in the studio.

ASHTON: Probably my favourite song of all the ones we’ve done so far is Beautiful People (Ed Sheeran), which we filmed on that trip – the video is awesome. We were filming on a beach in front of Coney Island… What’s not to love about that?

 

Do you enjoy making new friends and all the experiences which KIDZ BOP has brought you?

MAX: It’s been brilliant to meet everyone through this experience and we’ve all become such good friends. We all share the same passion and come together to sing and dance. Then there’s meeting the fans too, and we’re so lucky to have them… It’s like we’re all one big global KIDZ BOP family.

TWINKLE: It was amazing working with the US kids, with different people and on different songs. The trips we get to go on to film abroad are great fun. We’ve been to Germany to film with the German KIDZ BOP kids too, joining in with their videos – so we get to learn songs in other languages too. We might not have spoken the same languages but, like Max said, we share the love of singing and dancing and that’s what brings people together wherever they come from.

ASHTON: The whole experience is a dream come true for each of us. We’d never have imagined a few years ago that we would have achieved all of this; none of us had done anything like it before and we just didn’t realise how many opportunities it would bring us; traveling, meeting so many people, touring the UK. It’s just WOW.

 

Obviously, life as a KIDZ BOP Kid is limited – you’re only a kid for so long! So what would you like to do in the future?

MAX: Hopefully I’ve still got a little while as a KIDZ BOP kid, especially as I’m still loving it. I would definitely like to stay in music – writing and producing my own songs. I play guitar and a bit of piano, and I have a bit of software on my computer at home.

MIA: I would love to stay doing this forever if I could! But I’d also maybe like to try acting on TV. I had done some bits and pieces of acting before KIDZ BOP and TV adverts, but one of the things which has been really amazing about being in KIDZ BOP is getting to experience lots of different areas of the industry – music, TV, producing, performing. I’ve just learnt so much and it’s really opened my eyes to different things.

TWINKLE: Yes, I’d like to stay in the industry too, making more music and also doing more acting, probably in TV.

ASHTON: Before KIDZ BOP, I just wanted to be an actor, but this has really opened my eyes to so many different things and different opportunities in the music and entertainment business. I would love to work in music, but there are lots of things I want to know more about now too.

 

What are you looking forward to most with the tour?

MAX: For me, the Palladium dates will be the big ones as I’ve got my family and friends coming along, and it’ll be so good to see them all there in the audience. I’m especially looking forward to performing Uptown Funk, that’s my absolute favourite track at the moment because it gets such a great reaction when we perform it, whether it’s been live or on TV.

MIA: The first songs I did with KIDZ BOP were Rise and One Kiss, so they’re always special for me and I’m looking forward to doing them on the tour. Although, like Max – I also love Uptown Funk, it’s such a great track. And the Manchester show will be extra special for me, as I come from Lancashire so lots of my family and friends are coming. Every time I speak to them, they’re telling me more people have booked to come and see me there.

ASHTON: I’m excited to perform in Birmingham, because although I live in London I have a lot of family from there who don’t always get to see what KIDZ BOP is all about for me. And of course, who doesn’t want to say they have performed at The London Palladium? That’s going to be special as London is home. But I can honestly say, I really want to see the reactions from everyone right across the country – that’s going to be incredible.
When we did the KIDZ BOP World Tour headline show in London last year, with the US KIDZ BOP Kids, that was great – it was the first time people in the UK had had the chance to come out specially to see KIDZ BOP in a live performance, we’d always been part of other shows… And now, here we are preparing for our very own KIDZ BOP UK tour. We can’t wait.

GOOD CAUSES SET TO BENEFIT AS YORK FESTIVAL NAMES ITS CHARITY PARTNERS

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York Festival – the historic city’s major new three-day music event – will support no fewer than five local charities this summer.

Global icon Lionel Richie, pop superstars Westlife and British music legends Madness will headline the brand-new festival at York Sports Club between Friday June 19th and Sunday June 21st.

As well as three days of unmissable live music – which will also include performances by Lightning Seeds, All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Scouting for Girls among many others – it is hoped thousands of pounds will be raised for local good causes.

Festival organisers Cuffe and Taylor are today delighted to announce they have selected St Leonard’s Hospice (pictured above) and The Snappy Trust (pictured left) as York Festival’s first ever official charity partners.

These two much-loved, York-based charities will be joined at the festival by the Lord Mayor of York’s three chosen annual charities. This means festival goers will be supporting the work of five local good causes.

The mayoral charities will be announced when Cllr Chris Cullwick takes over civic duties from current Lord Mayor Cllr Janet Looker in May.

York Festival director Peter Taylor said: “We are absolutely delighted York Festival will be supporting five local charities and good causes in its first year.

“Just before Christmas we invited applications for charity partners. We were inundated with nominations from so many good causes who all do wonderful work locally. It was an almost impossible task to select which charities would be our official partners.

“Together with St Leonard’s and The Snappy Trust, we are really pleased to be working with the Lord Mayor’s charities. Representatives from all will be at the festival and we would urge festivals goers to do what they can to support these very worthy causes.

“It is going to be a brilliant first year for York Festival. Not only are we bringing a sensational line-up of world-renowned artists but also supporting the great work of these wonderful local organisations.”

St Leonard’s Hospice, which this year is celebrating its 35th anniversary, provides specialist palliative care and support for local people with life limiting illnesses.

As well as offering in-patient care and its Hospice@Home service, which allows people with to be cared for in their own homes, the Tadcaster Road-based hospice offers bereavement counselling, occupational therapy and spiritual care.

Dawn Clements, St Leonard’s Hospice’s Director of Income Generation, said: “We are thrilled to have been selected as a charity partner for the inaugural York Festival. 2020 is a special milestone for St Leonard’s Hospice, as we celebrate our 35th anniversary, and we look forward to celebrating with the community we serve. Because they care we can!”

The Snappy Trust (Special Needs Activities and Play Provision for York) supports children and young people with wide-ranging disabilities, from across the York area.

​It now helps youngsters by maximising personal development and providing good quality play and recreational opportunities for children and young people with special needs.

Anne Stamp, project manager at The Snappy Trust, which is based at Lowther Street, said: “We are delighted to be working with York Festival – a major new event for this great city and we cannot wait for it to begin.

“The people of York are so generous with their support of The Snappy Trust and we look forward to seeing them at the festival. Come and say ‘hi’ and see how you can help us continue to make a real difference to young people’s lives.”

And Cllr Chris Cullwick added: “As the Lord Mayor elect I look forward to taking up this important role in the city from May and I am delighted York Festival has kindly offered to support my nominated charities each of which is doing vital work in the local community.”

York Festival has a stellar line-up in its debut year.

Opening night headliners Madness, who have chalked up no fewer than 15 UK Top 10 singles and seven Top 10 albums, will be joined by indie chart-toppers Lightning Seeds, Craig Charles with his famous Funk and Soul Club DJ set together with Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York’s very own Violet Contours.

Westlife headline on the Saturday night as part of their UK-wide Stadiums in the Summer Tour. The UK’s top selling album group of the 21st century will perform classic hits such as Swear It Again, Flying Without Wings and You Raise Me Up together with new songs from their forthcoming album Spectrum.

Joining Westlife on the night will be superstar pop group All Saints, Brit singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis Bextor, indie rock band Scouting for Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald, who will be spinning the discs for a very special DJ set.

Sunday night headliner is none other than international superstar Lionel Richie. The four-time Grammy Award-winner will perform a hit-packed concert that covers his extensive and much-loved repertoire – from his hit-making days with the Commodores right up to the present day.

For more information and tickets go to www.york-festival.com

UK’S RISING STARS JOIN WEST END MARVEL MARISHA WALLACE ON STAGE

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Young singing stars will join Broadway and West End leading lady Marisha Wallace on stage when her debut UK tour kicks off in March.

The powerhouse star of such smash-hit shows as Dreamgirls, Waitress, Aladdin, The Book of Mormon – and very soon Hairspray – will play a series of spectacular live shows throughout March.

And now local choirs and musical theatre students will perform with Marisha at the shows. They will join the West End star for what will be an unmissable rendition of This Is Me from the blockbuster movie The Greatest Showman.

The groups to join Marisha are:

Manchester Contemporary Youth Choir and Stagecoach Salford will perform at Sale Waterside

Everybody Sing community choir at Newbury Corn Exchange

BITA Musical Theatre at Birmingham Hippodrome

Showdown Theatre Arts and The Act Too Arts Academy at Horsham Capitol

Stagebox at Leeds City Varieties

Guildford School of Acting (GSA) at The Arts Theatre in London’s West End

Marisha is currently winning rave reviews in the West End smash hit Waitress and will soon play the iconic role of Motormouth Maybelle in the eagerly awaited West End return of Hairspray, alongside Michael Ball.

Before then though, Marisha cannot wait for her debut UK tour and to perform alongside young singers from across the UK.

Marisha said: “I could not be happier that so many community choirs and musical theatre students are joining me on stage throughout my UK Tour.

“This is my first ever headline theatre tour and I really want to make these shows unique and extra special. I cannot think of a better way to do that than to be joined on stage by such super-talented local performers.

“These shows are going to be amazing, so my advice is to get your tickets now!”

Inspired by the likes of the late, great Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, Marisha’s voice will pull you from your seat and to your feet. She effortlessly infuses jazz, gospel and R&B with a healthy dose of soul that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted.

On Broadway, she has starred in shows including Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon and Something Rotten and then here, in the UK, as Effie White in the stellar West End hit Dreamgirls. Last summer she starred alongside Will Smith in Disney’s big screen summer blockbuster Aladdin.

Beginning at Sale’s Waterside (March 8), Marisha’s tour then heads to Newbury Corn Exchange (March 11), Horsham Capitol (March 13), Birmingham Hippodrome (March 14), Leeds City Varieties (March 16), Lichfield Garrick (March 17) and the Arts Theatre in London’s West End (March 23).

Tickets – priced just £25 – are on sale now via www.cuffeandtaylor.com

THE SHERLOCKS AND ELIZA SHADDAD TO JOIN KEANE FOR UNMISSABLE NIGHT

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Yorkshire indie rockers The Sherlocks and formidable songstress Eliza Shaddad will join Keane for an unmissable night at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

Keane – one of Britain’s most successful bands of the last 20 years – delighted their legions of devoted fans by returning from a six-year hiatus in 2019 with brilliant new album Cause and Effect.

They have won rave reviews since returning to the live arena and will play a massive headline gig at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on Friday July 17.

And they will be joined on the night by two of the UK’s most highly-regarded up-and-coming artists.

It is almost five years since Sheffield alt-rockers The Sherlocks burst onto the scene with a succession of radio hits and stellar live shows. Their 2017 debut album Live for the Moment was a Top 10 hit and was followed last year by their sophomore offering Under Your Sky, which won rave reviews and boasts anthemic new single One Day.

The Sherlocks – Kiaran Crook (guitar/vocals), Brandon Crook (drums) and Josh Davison (guitar) and Andy Davison (bass) – have played some massive gigs and festivals both as headliners and as special guests to such rock luminaries as Liam Gallagher, The Kooks and Kaiser Chiefs.

When Scottish-Sudanese singer-songwriter Eliza Shaddad released her debut album Future in 2018 it instantly won praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, MOJO and The Sunday Times. Her new EP Sept-Dec, features a grungier and edgier sound that has had the critics purring their approval.

Named a Rising Star of 2019 by the BBC, Eliza’s reputation for powerful live shows has seen her touring extensively with the likes of Kate Tempest, James Bay and Turin Brakes. She will join Keane throughout their 2020 UK Tour.

Before pausing in 2013, Keane had sold 13 million records worldwide, released four Number One studio albums, won two BRIT awards and an Ivor Novello award.

Their 2004 debut album Hopes and Fears, which gave the world such timeless classics as Somewhere Only We Know, Everybody’s Changing, This Is The Last Time and Bedshaped, is ranked among the UK’s 40 best-selling albums of all time.

Their 2019 return Cause and Effect – which includes the singles The Way I Feel, Love Too Much and Stupid Things – was produced by David Kosten and the Keane themselves, and is the sound of a band rejuvenated.

Tickets for Keane, The Sherlocks and Eliza Shaddad at Scarborough Open Air Theatre are on sale now via www.scarboroughopenairtheatre.com. They can also be purchased, in person, from Scarborough Open Air Theatre Box Office (01723 818111) and the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau (01723 383636).

Music Hall Legend Dan Leno to Return to London for West End Premiere

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The amazing life and tragic demise of music hall legend Dan Leno is being celebrated in an unmissable production making its West End debut in April.

Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno will premiere at the Criterion Theatre on Monday April 27th. Tickets are on sale now HERE

Comedian, TV star and radio presenter Steve Royle stars as Dan Leno while comedy giant and music hall aficionado Roy Hudd OBE will guest star in the cameo role of Herbert Beerbohm Tree.

The London premiere of Naturally Insane! comes as the production has already toured across the UK and enjoyed rave reviews including the seal of approval from comedy legend Peter Kay.

Speaking about the production, Peter said: “It’s great to see the life of the great Dan Leno being brought to the stage with such brilliance. Steve Royle has funny bones and this unique heartfelt production allows us to see both Steve’s magnificent talent and Dan Leno’s.”

Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno is set in Camberwell Asylum in the last weeks of Dan Leno’s life as he reflects on his life and career.

The Criterion Theatre has been chosen for this special premiere as it sits opposite the former London Pavilion Music Hall in Piccadilly Circus – where Dan Leno performed hundreds of times at the height of his fame.

A legend of his time, Dan Leno developed his skills as an artist in the Northern and Lancashire music halls before becoming a huge celebrity in London theatres. He also established his name as the pre-eminent pantomime star at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where he created some iconic dame roles and became a favourite of King Edward VII and the Royal family.

Written by playwright David Slattery-Christy, Naturally Insane! presents a joyful insight into the life of a legendary comedian.

Roy Hudd agreed to perform in the Criterion Theatre production after seeing the play in Eastbourne.

He said: “So many folk have tried to bring the Victorian comedian to life – almost impossible I thought until I saw Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno by David Slattery-Christy.

 “This really is quite something. It captures the wild imaginings of a comic genius perfectly. Steve Royle looks like the man, moves beautifully, like the dancer Leno was, and makes you love him on sight. I do urge you to see it if you can.

 “I’m excited about it. I do believe this play is a bit special.”

Steve Royle was offered the part of Dan Leno after David Slattery-Christy saw him performing in Blackpool Grand Theatre’s pantomime where Steve has performed as lead comic for almost 20 years.

Speaking about the role Steve, who has appeared in a string of comedy TV shows including Phoenix Nights, Max and Paddy and Stand Up Britain, said: “Dan Leno was as passionate about pantomime as I am and hopefully I do him justice on the stage.

 “He is a hero of mine and it is therefore an absolute honour to get the opportunity to portray him in this masterpiece of a production.

 “Everyone involved is thrilled to be bringing Naturally Insane! to the West End so it will be very exciting indeed when we walk out onto the stage at the Criterion.”

After the performance there will be a short interval before Roy Hudd, who is president of the British Music Hall Society, gives a talk about Dan Leno and his legacy.

For more information about Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno and to buy tickets go to www.criterion-theatre.co.uk/whats-on

Alternatively, you can call the Box Office 033 33 202 895.

 

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