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What’s on in Yorkshire during January

PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 December 2017

Renowned harpist Catrin Finch

Renowned harpist Catrin Finch


Entertainment and events around the county chosen for you by Tony Greenway


January 15th

Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo is all bright jackets and TV train travel these days. So it’s hard to look at him now and remember that, once upon a time, he was a rising star in the Thatcher government; a deft and politically ambitious man who later became Defence Secretary under John Major and was often mentioned as a potential Tory leader.

For years, Mr P could do no wrong. But politics is a spectacularly fickle game: he lost his Enfield Southgate safe seat in 1997 to Labour’s Stephen Twigg (the very first ‘Portillo moment’); and then, when the Conservative Party leadership came around in 2001, he lost that to, er, Iain Duncan Smith (how did that work out for Iain, by the way?). Fate can be cruel.

In this special appearance entitled Life: A Game of Two Halves, Portillo talks about his career both in and out of Parliament and then invites questions from the audience, which is brave of him. Maybe you should ask what on earth possessed him to team a salmon pink jacket with a green shirt during his Great British Railway Journeys programme; or how he feels about constantly being referred to as ‘Michael “choo-choo” Portillo’ by Andrew Neil on This Week, the BBC’s Thursday night current affairs show. If you’re given the microphone but aren’t a fan of Portillo’s politics, resist the urge and keep your question clean.

King’s Hall, Ilkley 01274 432000



January 25th & 26th

Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour

Comedian Susan Calman travelled much further on her Strictly — horrible word alert! — ‘journey’ than she ever thought possible and was visibly moved when voted off at the end of November. Dancing on the telly on a Saturday night was, she said, the best experience of her life, so it’s no surprise to see Calman confirmed for the Strictly Live Tour (alongside Jonnie Peacock). More of a surprise is that judges Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli are making an appearance, with Ore Oduba, the tearful 2016 champ, on hosting duties.

First Direct Arena, Leeds 0844 248 1585 firstdirectarena.com



January 6th & 7th

Hammonds Saltaire Band

New Year. Pah. I don’t like it. Christmas is over and we’re staring down the long, cold, dark barrel of January and February. Then again, this time of year at the SJT means a visit from Hammonds Saltaire Band, who’ll be playing a mix of traditional, classical, popular and show tunes. Hmm. Maybe New Year isn’t so bad after all...

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough 01723 370541 sjt.uk.com


January 7th

New Year Gala Concert

A New Year’s concert of polkas, waltzes and marches from the Strauss family and others, courtesy of the Orchestra of Square Chapel.

Square Chapel, Halifax 01422 349422 squarechapel.co.uk


January 20th

Icons of the 80s

People of a certain age: you have nothing to lose but your mullets. Pull on your Day-Glo t-shirts, dab on some eyeliner and come to Harrogate for a concert of questionable taste featuring Go West (We Close Our Eyes, Call Me, King of Wishful Thinking), Nik Kershaw (I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, The Riddle, Wouldn’t It Be Good, Dancing Girls) and ‘special guests’ Cutting Crew (I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight).

Harrogate Convention Centre 01423 502116 harrogatetheatre.co.uk


January 23rd

Teddy Thompson

This talented British rock and folk artist, who has a winning way with a tune and a stunning vocal range, including a beautifully controlled falsetto, never achieved full Ed Sheeran-style commercial lift off. That said he’s had his fair share of success with critically acclaimed albums Separate Ways, Up Front & Down Low and A Piece of What You Need.

Pocklington Arts Centre 01759 301547 pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk


January 25th

The Searchers

Get this: The Searchers formed 60 years ago next year and have a back catalogue that contains some solid gold Merseybeat classics including Sweets for My Sweet, Sugar and Spice, Don’t Throw Your Love Away, Needles and Pins and When You Walk In the Room. Fifty million records sales can’t be wrong.

Pocklington Arts Centre 01759 301547 pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk



January 26th-February17th

The Culture: A Farce in Two Acts

We don’t know very much about this comedy from the pen of James Graham, one of the UK’s leading playwrights but nor does Martin Green and he commissioned it. ‘It’s a look at (Hull’s) year of culture and it’s by someone who is probably the hottest writer in the country right now,’ says Green, director of Hull 2017. ‘My absolute top tip is for people to scramble for a ticket.’

It’s true; Graham does have a wildly impressive CV. He wrote Ink and Labour of Love, both of which ran concurrently in the West End last year plus This House which was nominated for the Olivier Best Play Award and The Vote, which was nominated for a BAFTA.

The blurb says that his new play examines ‘the “culture” of culture and the inner workings of the Hull 2017 project’ and there has been a rumour that it might be self-spoofing. You know a bit Twenty Twelve, a bit W1A.

Um... is there any truth in that? But honestly, Green really can’t say. ‘One of the deals is that myself and the team absolutely do not get involved in (a production) until we see it on the first night, so that it can truly be an independent artist’s view of what they think has happened in this city in the last year,’ he points out. ‘So we have no idea what’s going to happen but James’ work always has great points to make about the role of culture in society and he does everything with great love and precision. My guess is that it’s going to be an extraordinarily exciting night at the theatre.’

Hull Truck 01482 323638 hulltruck.co.uk


January 15th-20th

Strangers on a Train

Writer Patricia Highsmith had a fantastic knack for crafting wonderfully warped psychological chillers. Look no further than her 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley, for example, in which a sociopathic young man befriends and then murders the heir to a fortune, later assuming his identity and doing away with an acquaintance who suspects him of foul play. Plainly, Ripley is an immoral chancer but he’s drawn so beautifully that we almost (almost) want him to get away with his blood-soaked crimes. Matt Damon might have made him a bit too charming in the 1999 movie.

Arguably, however, Highsmith’s most famous book is Strangers on a Train (1950), which was turned into a terrific movie by Alfred Hitchcock. After a chance encounter, the two title characters — Guy and Charles — agree to ‘swap murders’ because they stand more chance of getting away with ‘motiveless’ killings: so Charles promises to kill Guy’s unfaithful wife if Guy kills Charles’ controlling father. The only problem is that one of the men is joking about the whole thing, and the other is a deadly serious psychopath who really is bent on homicide...

This production of Strangers bubbles over with famous TV faces: Coronation Street’s Christopher Harper, Emmerdale’s John Middleton, Jack Haines from Call the Midwife and Hannah Tointon from The Inbetweeners and Mr. Selfridge.

Lyceum, Sheffield 0114 249 6000 sheffieldtheatres.co.uk


January 30th-31st

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads

This one-man drama by Adrian Berry — his first play — was a knock out at the Edinburgh Fringe and has travelled to Yorkshire before, appearing at the Helmsley Arts Centre at the beginning of 2017. At Sheffield, you’ll be hard-pressed to get a ticket because the last time we looked it was sold out; although it pitches up in Barnsley, Pocklington and Halifax next month. The plot focuses on a young David Bowie obsessive, and features Bowie’s music and the voice of comedian Rob Newman. The title, of course, is a line from Life on Mars.

Studio Theatre, Sheffield 0114 249 6000 sheffieldtheatres.co.uk


January 23rd-27th

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Curve Theatre’s excellent adaptation of Roald Dahl’s brilliantly sparky tale is still doing the rounds, so if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s another chance. A boy tries to treat his grim granny’s bad attitude with a medicine of his own making: a course of action best described as ‘unwise’, as it turns out.

Lyceum, Sheffield 0114 249 6000 sheffieldtheatres.co.uk



January 26th

Catrin Finch

Wales-born Finch — a renowned harpist — has performed across the world and was once Royal Harpist to Prince Charles. Are Harry and Meghan looking for someone similar for their big day, maybe? Here she performs a mixed programme including Bach, Debussy, and Nino Rota’s Sarabanda E Toccata.

Bradford Cathedral 01274 432000 bradford-theatres.co.uk



January 19th, 28th & 31st

Madame Butterfly

Puccini’s epic tale of betrayal (a Japanese girl marries a dashing but dastardly US naval officer) is one of the most performed operas in the world. French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels returns to the title role for what The Telegraph called ‘an overwhelmingly powerful performance’.

Leeds Grand Theatre 0844 848 2720 operanorth.co.uk


January 26th

Christiane Karg

The German lyric soprano is famous for her roles in Mozart operas (she also studied at the Mozarteum University Salzburg) but in this special concert at the Assembly Rooms she performs work by Wagner, Satie and — in his anniversary year — Debussy.

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds 0844 848 2720 operanorth.co.uk/contact



January 9th-13th

The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is now a staple of the holiday season: but when it opened in 1892 in St Petersburg, it flopped. Tchaikovsky died a year later, never knowing what a phenomenon it would become. This production is from the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet.

Lyceum, Sheffield 0114 249 6000 sheffieldtheatres.co.uk



January 14th

Chris Rock

The sweary, controversial, Brooklyn-raised comedian and actor has won four Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and took the number five spot on Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. On a less controversial note, he also voices Marty the zebra in the Madagascar film series. Your granny probably loves Rock because of that movie but, really, don’t take her to see his stand-up show, unless you’re prepared for a really quiet car journey on the way back home.

First Direct Arena, Leeds 0844 248 1585 firstdirectarena.com


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