Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

An Energetic Exploration of Local Anthems; Geordie the Musical, Customs House, South Shields, until September 5

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

An Energetic Exploration of Local Anthems; Geordie the Musical, Customs House, South Shields, until September 5

Article excerpt

WHILE the pop numbers of Little Mix and Joe McElderry may be better known to young South Tynesiders, there are many who will claim the old songs are the best ones.

You can judge for yourselves in this new show, in which the songs of Geordie Ridley, Tommy Armstrong, Oliver Heslop and others are performed with great gusto.

Oliver Heslop, who appears in the musical played by Donald McBride, was a Newcastleborn businessman who had a great love for North East dialects and gathered their words and phrases into a series of books published in the 1890s.

It was his contention that particular ways of speaking, always subject to changing lifestyles and influences, survive best in poems and songs.

Evidently that view is shared by expat Geordie Andy Bogle, who grew up in South Shields and went to work in the oil industry in the United States, where he now lives. But as he says in the programme: "No matter where I go in the world, I will always be a 'Shields' lad."

It was his idea to put on Geordie The Musical, celebrating the North East dialects and the songs which grew out of the Industrial Revolution, and he and his American friends backed it up with money.

They were the VIP guests at the premiere and Mr Bogle was made an honorary fellow of the Customs House Academy, which nurtures young talent.

A Customs House elite worked on the musical with Jarrow-born writer Tom Kelly providing a narrative and actor Jamie Brown stepping in to direct after the tragic death earlier this year of Jackie Fielding, to whose memory this show is now dedicated.

There is no great driving plot, or indeed very much action at all. Geordie The Musical is set almost entirely in The Wheatsheaf, a Tyneside pub that is simply but effectively brought to life in Kate Unwin's set with its overhanging gantries and chains.

Here the hard-working locals, including Heslop and Tommy Armstrong (Micky Cochrane), gather to sing songs and indulge in 'a bit crack. …

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