Huge variety of great value events on offer from Newcastle venue that’s far more than a theatre

Huge variety of great value events on offer from Newcastle venue that’s far more than a theatre

Less than nine months after its grand reopening following a £2.4m transformation, Gosforth Civic Theatre (GCT) has welcomed around 35,000 visitors through its doors

Having kicked off a bold and vibrant programme of spring and summer events, the charity team behind the much-loved cultural asset took the opportunity to reflect on its success since reopening with a massive family-friendly bash for the August Bank Holiday weekend last summer.

Marketing and Programming Manager Scott Forbes explained: “We are so proud of the variety and quality of events we’ve been able to secure for our amazing audiences to enjoy over the coming months, not least the return of our hugely popular beer festival.

“More and more producers, agents, artists and organisations are choosing us to host experiences of all kinds within our new and improved spaces, and we owe much of that to the loyalty and support of our fantastic local community, who have not just attended our 100+ events since reopening, but helped spread the word for us as well.”

The May Day Bank Holiday weekend is shaping up to be a cultural delight for sound and stage fans alike as prolific singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams and Withered Hand, also known as Dan Willson, kick things off on May 2nd with their blend of inventive folk instrumentation and modest confessionals as part of their promotional tour for album Willson Williams. Following that, on May 3rd there will be a standing-only set from Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band before the following evening sees the final performance on the regional tour of Limelight, from the team behind the acclaimed Haddock and Chips.

The play by Janet Plater, which is based on the career of real-life Victorian star of the stage, Julia St George, born on Broad Chare in Newcastle upon Tyne, will take its audience behind the scenes of the Theatre Royal Newcastle in 1854, and the performance – the last in a 22-date tour featuring 17 venues across the region – will include songs from the magical era of music hall.

If movies are more your bag, GCT is screening the multi Oscar-winning The Holdovers on May 23rd, and Best Picture winner Poor Things on July 11th, shortly followed by Disney’s Wish and the phantasmagorical Wonka, both on July 20th.

Comedy fans can support some of the best LGBTQTIA+ wits on the circuit as on May 18thJesterval and Curious Arts join forces to provide a special night of laughs for those aged 16+. Hilarity by Jesterval will then return on June 29th and August 31st.

Not only that, but eco-conscious fashionistas can grab a bargain at a community clothes swap, Swap Don’t Shop, on May 13th, then again on May 26th as Sister Shack presents its inaugural, dog-friendly and free, flea, handmade and vinyl market.

For something a little different, the Great Circus Takeover takes place on May 30th, and Prime Wrestling on June 8th, with the raucous, cabaret-style Frognal and Fox – A Life in Song taking to the stage on June 6th. Featuring favourites by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Stephen Sondheim and Noel Coward, this original show by Cinzia Hardy, in association with Carole W Productions, is sure to excite and delight in equal measure.

If that’s not enough, the curiously-titled Tomatoes Tried to Kill me but Banjos Saved my Life, tells the inspirational true story of passion and the healing power of music in overcoming life’s obstacles on June 28th.

Scott continued: “And we have barely scratched the surface of the musical performances we have coming up from the likes of Brit and Grammy-award winning guitarist and songwriter Bernard Butler, formerly of Suede.

“So, cliché as it may sound, whether you’re into music, theatre, comedy or film – or just being part of your local community – at GCT there really is something for everyone.

“The best part is that our audiences at these incredible events, through ticket sales and spending at our Café Bar, enable us to provide opportunities for young people and those with learning disabilities, to train, perform and belong at GCT, with 70 individuals taking part in our programmes for those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) each week.”

A culmination of this will be showcased on July 19th with Freedom Moving, a performance of physical theatre and dance work produced by individuals on GCT’s SEND courses, and its work with local SEND schools. In addition, this year the venue is also debuting its first ever Summer School for seven to 16-year-olds.

Another planned highlight for the summer is the 2024 return of the ever-popular GCT beer festival, a three-day event that will not only see the team serving 20 keg and 10 cask ales, cocktails, spirits and wine alongside no and low-alcohol options, but on August 2nd, it will kick off with Suburban Soul Disco, a set from Sister Shack DJ, Awkward Black Girl, who is renowned for crafting unforgettable shared experiences through her fusion of soul, R&B, hip hop, pop, disco and more.

GCT, whose recent refurbishment, much of which was made possible by the Youth Investment Fund, saw it transformed into a modern, accessible, community-focused venue for the people of Newcastle and beyond, first opened its doors in 2016. But the former council building it operates from, close to Regent Centre, is due to turn 50 this year, a milestone that is not lost on the team behind the venue.

And with greater improvements to its café bar offering, they’re accommodating even more private and corporate events, such as weddings, which currently make up around a third of its annual calendar.

Chief Executive Rob Huggins added: “GCT is of course a cultural building, but beyond that it has the power to create real and lasting social change in the heart of our incredible community.

“That’s why we do what we do.”

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