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There’s great children’s entertainment at The Deco still to come this year: from Pinocchio to Pongo’s Party, and the best in Panto, with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this Easter Holiday to ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at Christmas. You won’t beat The Deco for fantastic children’s entertainment, and fun for all the family.

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant gets a spring season of children’s fun underway on March 28th, a fantastic show featuring 21 lovable puppets. Then, from one lovable character to another, as the iconic Basil Brush is among the stars of our Easter Panto, which also features Atomic Kitten’s Kerry Katona, and X-Factor finalist now CBBC presenter Lauren Platt. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is on at The Deco over two days, on the afternoon of April 10th, and the evening of the following day, April 11th.

Two days later, it’s children’s party time at The Deco. You are all invited to join us for Pongo’s Party, hosted by Marty McDonald. But will Pongo’s friends – including Molly Moo the cow, Sheena the sheep, and Sally the scarecrow – remember to be there. We’re sure they will. But what we DO know that the Easter Bunny has promised to make an appearance!

The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio comes to the Deco on May 12th – it’s a brand new, musical adaption of a much-loved classic tale, brought to you by Immersion Theatre, and packed with lots of new songs, audience participation, and plenty of laughter, too.

Then, later in the year, Marty McDonald and friends are back in town for Half-Term fun on October 28th, this time celebrating the arrival of a Toy Machine at the farm. What could possibly go wrong! There’s more awesome Half-Term fun that week with The Snow Queen, on October 30th, a wonderful new adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson classic that inspired Frozen, and brought to life by actors-musicians, illusion and puppets.

All that, and another top-class Christmas Panto with ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ between December 6th and 28th, and even more: join us on December 13th for a brand new show coming to The Deco: Santa’s Christmas Countdown – not just great entertainment, but every child leaves with a present from Santa himself!

The Deco. Children’s entertainment of the highest quality in 2019.

In the Spring of 2018, Lee Ridley was already a popular figure on the comedy circuit. But when he won Britain’s Got Talent in June, Lost Voice Guy suddenly became a name everyone was shouting about. Winning a TV talent contest can take an act onto a whole new level of fame with doors opening more readily than they might have done before.

As he takes to the nation’s stages with a touring show entitled ‘I’m Only In It For The Parking’ – which brings him to The Deco Theatre this Saturday (February 9th) – the County Durham-born Lee found that this was no more truer than in his case .

“The main reason I decided to audition for Britain’s Got Talent was obviously to meet Ant and Dec,” he half-jests. “But I also did it because I thought it would help me develop as a performer. Of course, I never expected to win it. In fact, I had to cancel my summer holiday because it clashed with the final!

“It was definitely worth it though; I think the look on my face when I won said it all. Winning the show has changed my life in so many ways, and as a comedian, I’m busier than I ever was before.

“One of the best things to happen since I won is that people are engaging with me a lot more than they would have in the past,” said Lee. “For the first time they seem comfortable talking to a disabled person. I’m used to being stared at for negative reasons so it’s nice to be stared at for positive reasons for a change.”

While Lee has plenty to say about those who have bigoted opinions about disabled people, he’s just as tough on those who are either patronising or overly keen to elevate the disabled into saints simply for being able to achieve something.

And all of it is done in the most non-Geordie accent you can imagine, all plummy, middle England and computerised, with the voiceless Lee communicating through an iPad app. But why did he pick that particular voice to express his comedy with?

“To be honest, I didn’t have much choice – the app I use to speak only had a limited number of voices to choose from, and my particular voice was the best of a bad bunch,” he said. “I’m quite used to sounding like a posh version of RoboCop now though, and I think the posh accent makes my jokes even funnier. I’ve sounded like this for most of my life now, so I do think of it as being my own voice. I think I’d feel weird if I had to change it now.”

Having started performing comedy in 2012, Lee won the BBC Radio New Comedy Award in 2014 and has created hour-long shows for the Edinburgh Fringe such as Disability For Dunces, Inspiration Porn and Laughter Is The Worst Medicine. He’s also co-written and starred in Ability, a Radio 4 sitcom about a man with cerebral palsy who moves out of his parents’ home, and penned a book which shares the title of this new touring show.

But with all that success on his CV already, where does he see his career going now? “I honestly don’t have any big ambitions. When I first started stand-up comedy, I just thought I’d try it for a bit of fun.

“I never expected to be this successful in my wildest dreams. So, I’m just taking it all as it comes and seeing what might happen next. I’m enjoying the ride and that’s the most important thing.”

Being on tour is something of a ride for any comedian, but for Lee, that adventure has extra obstacles and barriers inherently built into it. However, he is determined to make the most of these opportunities. “I think the best thing about being on tour is getting to see some really lovely places that maybe I wouldn’t have ever visited otherwise, and then getting to meet people from all different walks of life.

“I’ve got a lot of fans based all over the place so it’s nice to be able to get to meet them. One of the worst things is definitely being away from home. I quite like my home comforts such as my bed and being able to sit in my pants and watch television all day. So I miss that when I’m away.”

Audiences, of course, come in all different shapes and sizes, and life on the road wouldn’t be the same without some odd incidents occurring along the way. “You would be surprised at how many people come up to me after gigs and ask if I really can’t speak. Because, of course, it would totally be acceptable to pretend to be disabled for a laugh. I can safely say that I have never been able to talk. I have lived in Newcastle all my life, but for some reason I still haven’t picked up the accent. However, if you are trying to place my accent, it’s from PC World.”

Truth plays a major part in Lee’s comedy and he is often calling out politicians as well as the general public for their negative or dishonest approach to disability. The upside is that he’s rarely short of stories and anecdotes. One instance where he was ordered by a train inspector to give up his disabled seat for someone else inspired his episode on the Sky Arts Comedy Shorts series last year.

“I think most of my comedy comes from my real-life experiences. On the one hand, that’s quite frightening because some of it is unbelievably ridiculous. But on the other hand, it gives me some great material. I’d be silly not to use these experiences, and if I didn’t laugh about it then I’d most definitely cry!”

As the nation is about to find out, it’s not just Lee who’s laughing when his Lost Voice Guy airs his opinions.

It was a cult novel, one of the iconic films of the 1960s, and more recently it has become an acclaimed stage play.

And ‘The Graduate’ – made famous by the film starring Ann Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in 1967, and featuring the Simon and Garfunkel hit song ‘Mrs Robinson’ – is being performed on stage at Northampton’s Deco Theatre this May.

The theatre is teaming up with the award-winning White Cobra Productions, with three performances between Thursday, May 16th, to Saturday, May 18th.

“White Cobra did some outstanding productions at The Deco last year, and we are delighted to welcome them back,” said Jill Roach, House Manager of the Deco Theatre. “Having loved the film, I’m really excited about seeing The Graduate performed on stage, and I have no doubt that White Cobra will deliver another top class production for our audiences.”

Set in California in the 1960s, Benjamin Braddock is a confused young man. Having just graduated, he finds himself uncertain about his future, disconnected from his purpose, and increasingly alienated from the upper-class, suburban, “plastic” world of his parents.

Fighting panic and boredom, he is deeply conflicted but ultimately willing when Mrs. Robinson, the unhappily married, alcoholic, and charismatic wife of his father’s business partner, lures him into an affair. But Benjamin’s life becomes complicated when he falls in love with Elaine, Mrs Robinson’s upbeat daughter.

The stage adaptation of The Graduate is a dark comedy, full of rapid-fire dialogue between fascinating and horrifying characters, while exploring family dysfunction, parental expectations, crumbling marriages, and the naive, yet disillusioned, dichotomy of youth.

“As well as being a great film, The Graduate lends itself brilliantly to the stage,” said Richard Jordan, of White Cobra Productions. “It’s up there with other movies which have worked so well as theatre pieces, such as The Full Monty and Billy Elliott, and we can’t wait to bring it to the Deco stage in Northampton.”

To book tickets: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/the-graduate/ or call 01604 491005.

Old time Music Hall. As traditionally British as fish and chips, Morris Dancing and Christmas Panto. And by many, still loved as much today as it was in the “good ol’ days” of Marie Lloyd, Max Miller and Gracie Fields.

For those who can still remember theatre when the stars of Music Hall were the A-list celebrities of their day, variety entertainment is now a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. To the younger generation it is a wonderful insight to how it used to be, way back when.

And it is why the Deco Theatre’s ‘Glory of Music Hall’ shows are proving so popular, especially among the senior community who relish an opportunity to roll back the years, enjoy a good laugh, and have a sing-a-long too. Oh, and not forgetting afternoon tea.

Next up is Tuesday, April 23rd, when The Deco celebrates St George’s Day with another great afternoon of fun, entertainment, and afternoon tea. All in all, a great opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of like-minded people, and have a fun time doing it.

“It all started when London’s well-known Brick Lane Musical Hall came up to Northampton and put on a show for us, which went down well,” said Jill Roach, House Manager at The Deco Theatre. “What we learnt from that was there is definitely an audience out there for old time variety entertainment, and we were keen to keep pushing it.

“And as word started to spread, and more and more people heard about what we were doing, numbers have gone up and up, to the point that our shows are now selling out.

“It’s a simple, but popular format: comedy, music, singers and sing-a-longs, and with afternoon tea served during the interval, for the older generation it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon; for many it brings back so many memories of their younger years.”

The last ‘Glory of Music Hall’ hosted at the Deco, last November, celebrated the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War, but also paid tribute to the contributions of all those whose lives were touched by both World Wars, be it on active service in the Forces, or contributing to the War effort back home. There was a full house, generating a wonderful atmosphere during both halves of the show, and during the interval too, when tea was served.

“It is so rewarding to look out at the audience and see them having so much fun,” said entertainer Clive Fletcher, who directed and compered during that performance. “They come as couples, small groups, or as larger parties from clubs, societies, day centres, and care homes too, and they generate a lovely atmosphere, and roll back the years with us.”

Comedy was provided by magician Mel Harvey, who was very much the London spiv, with his pencil moustache and pin-striped suit. He was also very funny, and his tricks extremely clever, with the inevitable audience participation.

Katarina Warcaba accompanied Clive on keyboard as he led the audience though a catalogue of popular sing-a-long songs from both Wars, while singer Fern Roach ended the show with a tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, and mixed together, they came up with the perfect recipe for a much-appreciated afternoon’s entertainment.

Said Clive: “The feedback has been fantastic, and what we’ve found is that many people have come along to the show, and enjoyed themselves so much not only have they come back, they’ve recommended it to others, and it’s gone from there.

“But I do think it’s a lovely way for older people to have an afternoon out knowing they’re going to be entertained, and with it, in the company of others who come to the show for exactly the same reason,” he said. “For those of us on stage, and behind the scenes at The Deco, it’s a pleasure to do it, and we’ll put on another great show for St George’s Day!

“I should point out, by the way, that some of the older people come accompanied by their carers, and we get great feedback about the show from them too!”

For more information about ‘The Glory of Music Hall – St George’s Day’ at The Deco, go to https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/glory-music-hall-3/, or call The Deco on 01604 491005.

Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley – the Lost Voice Guy – kicks off a season of stand-up comedy at Northampton’s Deco Theatre when he brings his one-man show to the town on February 9th.

Lee, 38, won the £250,000 first prize last June, and with it an appearance at the Royal Variety Performance, which he did to much acclaim. He has also established himself as one of the country’s favourite stand-up comedians, and his touring show is playing to packed houses.

Following Lee to The Deco later in the month is Jack Barry, another acclaimed performer who takes to the Deco stage on February 23rd, with more great comedy in March and April.

Ahir Shah is stopping off at The Deco on March 15th, during his nationwide tour where he performs his stand-up show ‘Duffer’ which won him much praise, and played to full houses, at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer – a show that saw him earn a second successive nomination for Best Show at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Completing a quartet of top class comedians at The Deco is Sean McLoughlin on April 5th. Fresh from being the warm-up act for Ricky Gervais during his UK tour last year, Sean will be performing his show ‘Hail Mary’, a show that led ‘Time Out’ to describe him as “…the best comedian you have never heard of.” He hopes this tour will rectify that low profile, though he is very well known to regular audiences on the comedy circuit.

“We’ve four fantastic stand-ups coming to The Deco and we’re really looking forward to providing our audiences with some great, fun, nights out,” said House Manager Jill Roach.

“Obviously Lee has been very much – and very deservedly – in the public eye following his Britain’s Got Talent success, but trust me, Jack, Ahir and Sean are all top class, and will each deliver a brilliant show.”

For more information about all four comedians, and all shows at The Deco, go to www.thedeco.co.uk, or call the Box Office on 01604 491005.

 

Northampton’s award-winning Elvis Presley tribute performer Simon Patrick is coming home to put on a show in his home town.

He’s performing at The Deco Theatre in Abington Square on Saturday, January 26th, and to add the rock and roll theme of the evening, he is being supported by tribute artists to Billy Fury and Shakin’ Stevens, along with The Viva Las Vegas showband, and backing singers.

“It’s always great to come home, and The Deco’s an amazing venue, I’m really excited to be performing there” said Simon. “It’s going to be an amazing evening performing as ‘the King’ live in concert, with awesome support in Johnny Red as Billy Fury and Dean Ryan as Shakin’ Stevens, and there’ll be a fantastic atmosphere, so come join the party!”

Simon, and Elvis fan since he was four years old, has been performing tribute shows to his hero for over 20 years. Back in 2007 he was the winner of Great Britain’s Best Elvis Tribute Artists, won the ‘Elvis European Championship’ three years later, and has been a finalist in the ‘Ultimate Elvis Competition’, staged in Memphis, USA.

Said Jill Roach, house manager at The Deco: “We’re absolutely delighted to be hosting Simon at The Deco, his show’s are amazing, and he very much justifies his reputation as one of the best Elvis tribute shows in Europe, let alone the UK.

“It’s a fantastic night out, and if you love Elvis, and a rock n roll night out, you’ll go a long way to beating this.”

For tickets, go to www.thedeco.co.uk, call the Box Office on 01604 491005, or pop by at The Deco, in Abington Square, Northampton, between 10am and 4pm Monday to Saturday.

Singer Lydia Lucy is back at The Deco this Christmas, which is great news for everyone who’ve told us how much they enjoyed her Panto performances in Peter Pan last year, and Beauty and the Beast in 2015. And despite a busy schedule, Lydia had no hesitation, she tells us, in accepting the invitation to play Cinderella this Christmas.

Actually, to describe Lydia’s schedule as ‘busy’ is to grossly under-estimate it. Perhaps ‘manic’ is more appropriate, or even ‘non-stop’. The bottom line is this: Lydia works incredibly hard; and such is her flourishing career as a singer and performer, her workload as taken her to many parts of the world this year, as well as all over the UK.

So, by her own admission, appearing in Panto in Northampton throughout December is rare stability. And anyway, she loves being at The Deco. “I really do,” she says. “It’s a wonderful family atmosphere: I love the team behind the scenes who work so hard, and are always so helpful and obliging, I love working with the cast – some familiar faces, but those I hadn’t met before are fab – and the audiences at Deco Pantos are always so much fun, and fantastic to perform to.”

It was after her first Deco Panto appearance in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ that Lydia went off to compete in the TV talent show ‘The Voice’, where she made it through to the Grand Final, and finished third. She made such a big impression to so many, that she has barely had a day off since!

And though she can’t give too much away at the moment, she is already excited about what 2019 holds, with exciting opportunities about to come her way.

“I’d love to say more, but it’s all under wraps at the moment,” said Lydia. “Suffice to say I’m excited, but then I’m very lucky, because I’m doing what I love: singing and performing; it’s so busy, it’s crazy at times, but always great fun.

“But doing Panto is great fun too, and crazy in a different way, because we all have so much fun on and off stage.

“And what’s more, we’ve got another fantastic show lined up, with a great cast, and yet again, an amazingly talented team of young local performers and dancers supporting us, so it’s all very exciting.”

‘Cinderella’ is at The Deco Theatre, Abington Square, from December 7 to 29. For tickets, www.thedeco.co.uk, call the Box Office on 01604 491005, or call by in person between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.

Actor Chris Wills returns to The Deco Theatre this Christmas for his second Panto appearance as Prince Charming in Cinderella. He played the role successfully two and a half years ago, when The Deco put on its first Spring Panto, and is not only delighted to be doing it all again, but to be back in Northampton for a second successive year.

“Cinderella is a terrific Panto,” said Chris, who is originally from Wigan, in Lancashire, but now lives and works out of London. “I’m really excited to be back in Northampton, we’ve another great show, a fantastic cast again, and if the audiences are as wonderful as last year, then it’s going to be another wonderful Panto experience.

“The audiences generate a fantastic atmosphere: they make lots of noise, they’re interactive, and they all turn up with the purpose of having fun, and as a performer, that is exactly what we want!”

It has been a busy year for Chris, since he ended last year’s run of ‘Peter Pan’ at The Deco. For much of 2018 he has been on the road, travelling around the UK, Europe, and into Asia, performing in the touring production of Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’.

“It’s been busy, it’s been fun and I’ve really enjoyed myself,” he said. “But it’s been intense, and doing Panto is obviously quite a contrast, though I’m very lucky as an actor to have a wide variety of opportunities.”

Chris will be starring in the Deco Panto alongside Lydia Lucy, Colin Ridgewell, Lee Bright, Clive Fletcher, Fern Roach, and Sammy Webb, who is also directing the show, his first at The Deco. “It’s another fantastic cast, Sam’s a great character on and off stage, and I’m really looking forward to working with him, his knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, Panto is awesome.

“The other thing which always really excites me is the consistently high standard of young, local performers who appear in Deco Panto’s as part of the Chorus, and once again I’m hearing how hard they’re working in preparation.

“Not only that, The Deco have a fantastic support staff behind the scenes; they really look after us and make us welcome; and for all of us, it becomes one big family for a month – and that includes the audiences!”

Chris is a perfect fit for Panto, as much of his work is with Children’s Theatre productions.

“I love it, and I love Panto,” he says. “Great Panto involves a good team, good songs, naff jokes and lots of fun, and that’s what we’ve got, and will be having, in our Cinderella show, and I can’t wait to get started.”

‘Cinderella’ runs at The Deco from December 8 to 30. For tickets: www.thedeco.co.uk, call the Box Office on 01604 491005, or pop by to The Deco, in Abington Square, between 10am and 4pm Monday to Saturday.

A feast of laughter is lined up at the Deco for the new year, headlined by Lost Voice Guy, Lee Ridley, but also bringing to Northampton two of the most highly rated acts on the stand-up comedy circuit, Sean McLaughlin and Ahir Shah.

The 2018 ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Lee Ridley takes to The Deco stage on Saturday Feb 9th, having won rave reviews for his appearance at the recent Royal Variety Performance, which you can see on ITV, on December 11th.

Following Ridley to The Deco five weeks later is rising star of the comedy circuit Ahir Shah, on Friday, March 15th. He is bringing his show ‘Duffer’ to Northampton, which has already started its UK tour, following its critically acclaimed sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe early this year, earning him a second nomination in a row for Best Show, at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Ahir has won many plaudits for his stand-up comedy, including this recently from the Daily Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comedy/what-to-see/one-generations-eloquent-comic-voices-ahir-shah-control-edinburgh/

And completing a trio of great stand-ups at The Deco is Sean McLoughlin, who comes to Northampton on April 5th. Fresh from opening for Ricky Gervais on tour, McLoughlin – described as “the best comedian you haven’t heard of yet” by Time Out magazine – is taking his acclaimed, smash hit show, Hail Mary, on the road.

As well as providing tour support for Gervais’ record-breaking international ‘Humanity’ tour, McLoughlin was also handpicked to open for Bill Burr at the Royal Albert Hall recently, and for the legendary Doug Stanhope.

He has also made appearances on Stand-Up Central, Comedy Central At The Comedy Store, and his talents have landed him a Chortle Award nomination, and a review by Beyond The Joke as “…the epitome of the skilful stand-up…”

Said Jill Roach, House Manager at The Deco Theatre: “There’s a great appetite for good stand-up comedy in Northampton, and we’re are delighted to be bringing some of the country’s best performers to town, as we did recently with Lauren Pattison, who was fantastic.”

For tickets and more information about all three shows, go to www.thedeco.co.uk, or call our Box Office on 01604 491005

 

Actor Colin Ridgewell is heading back to Northampton this Christmas for his fifth Panto at The Deco Theatre, and this year he is back doing what he loves best: playing one of the – he’ll be one of the two Ugly Sisters, playing the role alongside Sam Webb, who is also the show’s director.

Colin, on the left in this picture of our Ugly Sisters, was the baddie in ‘Peter Pan’ last year, and loved being Captain Hook, a role he played superbly. But it was as a Dame in previous Panto appearances that won him a legion of fans at The Deco, and he’s looking forward to doing it all again in ‘Cinderella’, which runs from December 7 to 29.

“It’s great to be back at The Deco for another Panto, I’m really looking forward to being a Dame again,” said Colin. “It’s great to be working again with Lydia (Lucy), Chris (Wills), Clive (Fletcher), and Fern (Roach), and to be teaming up for the first time with Lee (Bright) and Sam; when we got together for the photo shoot earlier in the year there was immediate camaraderie and connection between us all.

“As others will tell you, if the cast get along well together, and genuinely have fun performing in the Panto – as we always do at The Deco – then it makes it even more enjoyable for the audience, they feel the buzz, and we all bounce of each other.

“The audiences are traditionally terrific at The Deco, every year they come along with the sole intention of enjoying themselves, being inter-active, and joining in the fun, and for us on stage it makes it all the more fulfilling and rewarding – and we absolutely love what we do.”

Colin, who first made a name for himself in the BBC’s popular ‘Grange Hill’ children’s TV show in the 1990s, says what also makes The Deco special for him is the team behind the scenes.

“The staff treat you like family, nothing’s too much trouble, it really is a pleasure to work there; and not just that, everyone involved with the production are totally professional and at the top of their game at all times,” he said.

“I should also point out the amazingly high standard of the young dancers who support us throughout the run – year on year they are outstanding, and they’ve made an enormous contribution to the success of our Pantos.”

On stage, and off it, laughter is never far away during Panto season at The Deco. Colin’s own funniest memory on stage was two years ago, and it still makes him chuckle now. “It was during ‘Snow White’ in 2016 – I was playing a Dame, and during a scene that I was in, one of my boobs popped!

“I carried on as though nothing had happened, but Nick Cochrane was having none of it, and had a field day; his reaction was hilarious, and the audience loved it,” said Colin. “Lee Bright is just as mischievous as Nick, so I’ll have to be on my guard!”

Colin and the cast will be appearing in Cinderella from December 7 to 29. Tickets can be bought online at www.thedeco.co.uk, by calling The Box Office on 01604 491005, or by popping by to The Deco on Abington Square, Northampton – across the road from BBC Northampton, and opposite Steffans the jewellers.

 

 
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