Latest news and updates

The multi award-winning comedian and musician Vikki Stone is completing the line-up for this year’s Deco Theatre Panto, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Vikki will the Panto ‘baddie’ between December 6th and 28th, playing Flesh Creep – a role she’s perfectly suited to, having been nominated twice for ‘Best Baddie’ in the annual British Panto Awards, and is very proud of.

“I absolutely love being the baddie, it’s fantastic fun, and the more I get booed and jeered the more I think I must be doing my job well,” she said. “I have loved Panto since I was a child, and it’s a privilege now for me to be among the performers on stage entertaining the audiences.”

Vikki will be lining up in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ with Deco regulars Colin Ridgewell, Chris Wills, Clive Fletcher and Fern Roach. Ellie-Rose Green makes her professional debut, while Sam Munday-Webb both performs in, and directs the Panto, for the second year.

Said Vikki: “This is my first time at The Deco, but everyone made me so welcome at the photo-call, and I’m really looking forward to being involved in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ – and having established a glowing reputation for the quality of its Pantos over the years, I’m looking forward to being part of another great show at a lovely theatre.”

Vikki, whose credits include is The Now Show on BBC Radio 4, The John Bishop Show on BBC One, and the BBC Proms Podcast, is very much a rising star, and Northampton audiences can see her in her own touring show ‘Song Bird’ at The Derngate on October 19th.

“Northampton is very blessed with its choice of great entertainment venues, and between them there is something for everyone, which is fantastic for local people,” said Vikki, whose show has earned her favourable comparisons to the late, great Victoria Wood.

To book tickets for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Deco, go online: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/jack-and-the-beanstalk/ or call the Box Office on 01604 491005.

After the success he had directing last year’s Christmas Panto ‘Cinderella’, Sam Munday Webb will be back at The Deco performing the same role this year, for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

This time, Sam will be concentrating solely on his role as director, having doubled up last year as one of the ‘Ugly Sisters’, forming a superb, and hilarious, double act with Colin Ridgewell. But he wants to dedicate his total attention to putting on a fantastic Panto.

Indeed, The Deco is in perfect hands: Sam is a student of Panto, and an acknowledged expert in the field; he is also the executive producer of the Annual British Panto Awards, which he helped launch four years ago, and which is fast establishing itself as one of the big awards ceremonies of the showbiz calendar.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be working with The Deco again this year,” said Sam, who runs the Brackley Youth Theatre in the town where he lives, and has recently launched a consultancy offering specialist coaching in presentation skills. “The Deco’s a lovely theatre, and it has deservedly established itself as a venue for top class, and affordable, Panto for all the family.

“I absolutely loved every minute of last year’s Panto experience at The Deco; I wanted to create something fresh and modern, but embedded in tradition, and I certainly believe we succeeded.

“The cast were a pleasure to work with, the standard of the talented young singers and dancers supporting us was amazing, the audiences were awesome, the feedback was immense, and the team behind the scenes were fantastic and incredibly supportive.

“I didn’t need to think about it when I was offered the opportunity to do it again,” said Sam. “But this year I thought it best to totally dedicate myself to my duties as a director: playing one of the Ugly Sisters was great fun, and doing it with Colin was a laugh a minute, but I’m going to be totally hands-on behind the scenes.

If anyone knows what makes good Panto, it is Sammy – a Panto fanatic, be it as a performer, director, or a member of the audience, and he has a phenomenal knowledge of its history and tradition.

So as an expert in Panto, what makes a good show?

“For me personally, I love the relationship between audience and performer,” he said. “I love the freedom of interaction with the audience during the show; the off-the-cuff laughs that you can have, and adapting the script throughout the run to make it relevant to issues in the news.

“The camaraderie, banter, and respect among the cast last year made it a pleasure to turn up every day, during rehearsals and the run of the Panto, and if the audience see you all having fun together on stage, and enjoying it as much as they are, then you’re on to a winner.”

For tickets for ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Deco: www.thedeco.co.uk, or call the Box Office on 01604 491005. Alternatively, call in at The Deco, on Abington Square, between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.

For more information about the Panto Awards, visit the website: https://www.pantomimeawards.co.uk/

The Deco Theatre is offering an amazing opportunity to youngsters between six and 17 years old during later this year, with the opportunity to take part in their Summer Holiday Youth Theatre Workshop in August.

The Workshop runs for a week from August 5th, from 10am to 4pm each day, with the finale, on Saturday, August 10th, when the youngsters will be performing the musical ‘Fame! Jr’ to a live audience at 2.30pm and 6.30pm.

For £155 – and £100 for siblings – youngsters taking part in the Workshop will spend a week learning, rehearsing and then performing two shows on the Saturday. The fee includes a DVD of the show, and two free tickets for one of the live performances; extra tickets cost £10.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for children from six to 17 to take part in a youth drama and dance project, in an actual theatre and performing on stage before a live audience at the end of the project,” said Jill Roach, House Manager at The Deco Theatre.

“This project has been incredibly successful since we started doing it a few years ago, with the finished product each time phenomenal, and we’re really excited to be doing it again this year.”

All participants are welcome to audition for main parts of the show. Those auditions will be held on Sunday, May 19th, from 10am to 1pm, and the following day, on Monday, May 20th from 5pm to 8pm. Call backs will be on Saturday 8th June from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

‘Fame! Jr.’ is set during the last years of the “Fame School,” New York City’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street (1980-1984). The musical follows the bittersweet but inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of gruelling artistic and academic work in order to achieve their dream of “hitting the heights” and putting their “name in lights.” But it’s not always plain sailing!

Please call The Deco theatre on 01604 491005 for a registration/audition pack or email us at hello@thedeco.co.uk.

 

Dean Friedman has been hailed as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. And visitors to Northampton’s Deco Theatre will find out why when he performs live on Thursday, July 16th.

The Deco is one of 37 venues the American legend has included on his annual tour of the UK.

Friedman, from New Jersey, was elevated to international stardom in the late 1970s and early 80s, when his hit singles included Lucky Star, Lydia and Ariel, among others. He has written and recorded successful albums over four decades, and continues to perform all over the world.

But it is for the UK that he has a special soft-spot: he has had more success in the singles’ charts in this country than anywhere else in the world. “I put that down to boring business and politics,” he said. “If the songs receive air-play they will have success, it’s just a matter of getting on the playlists, but the thing is, I’ve been an independent for most of the last four decades so it’s difficult to compete.

“But my songs are successful in spite of that – I wrote a song called McDonald’s Girl which was banned (by the BBC) because of the reference to the fast food chain in its chorus,” he said. “That was then, but later on McDonald’s used it in an advertising campaign, and Barenaked Ladies had a hit with it.

Friedman, now 63, is not just an immensely talented musician, singer and songwriter, he is also an accomplished entertainer, who thrives on inter-action with his audience during his shows.

He said: “I do believe that engaging an audience face to face – standing in the same room, breathing the same air – is the most profound and richest mode of communication that we’ve got, or will ever have.”

During his concert at The Deco, Friedman will be performing solo, on guitar and keyboard, featuring songs from throughout his four-decade career, including familiar, radio hits and fan favourites, drawn from his eight studio albums.

“I love coming to England, it’s always a pleasure playing to an appreciative audience, and it’s why I come over every year,” he said.

For more information, and tickets, go to www.thedeco.co.uk/event/dean-friedman/ or call The Deco Box Office on 01604 491005.

TV quiz star and acclaimed comedian Paul Sinha is bringing his stand-up comedy show to Northampton’s Deco Theatre in June.

Paul, a qualified medical doctor, and now famous as one of the stars of the popular ITV quiz show The Chase, is coming to The Deco on Wednesday, June 5th. Paul is the headline act on a night of comedy that includes three talented support comedians, Chris Kent, Josh Pugh and Rich Wilson.

It’s Paul’s second visit to The Deco – he was star performer on a comedy night at the theatre in August 2013, when he went down a storm with the audience.

“Paul was hilarious when he was here five and a half years ago, and we’re delighted to be welcoming him back,” said The Deco’s House Manager, Jill Roach. “Paul is obviously a very clever man, and in the top 50 of the world’s best quizzers, a status he proves worthy of regularly on The Chase.

“But he is also an extremely talented stand-up performer who now travels all over the country, and indeed the world, entertaining audiences, and with a fantastic support cast that he brings with him, we’re looking forward to another great night of stand-up comedy at its very best!”

For tickets to see Paul Sinha – known to his fans on The Chase as ‘The Sinnerman’, and reknown for the white suits he wears on the show – perform his stand-up comedy routine, and his support act of talented comedians, call The Deco box office on 01604 491005, or book online: https://www.thedeco.co.uk/event/paul-sinah/.

 

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.

 

 
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