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Theatres on the coast take centre stage when it comes to summer entertainment.

PUBLISHED: 00:44 27 May 2013

Scarborough Spa © Craig Yates DOZ / Alamy

Scarborough Spa © Craig Yates DOZ / Alamy

© Craig Yates DOZ / Alamy

End of the pier shows have long-since fallen out of fashion (mainly because the piers themselves have fallen into the sea) but seaside theatre and entertainment is still booming.

When it comes to music, Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre ( is hitting all the right notes this summer with a packed programme of top-name acts. Olly Murs, The Wanted and the Happy Mondays are all taking to the stage at Europe’s largest open air theatre in June, followed by X-Factor winner Leona Lewis and old rockers Status Quo in July, and Welsh warbler Katherine Jenkins, the girls from The Saturdays and the boys from McFly in August.

This marks an amazing comeback for the Scarborough venue after its closure in 1986 with a final concert by – rather appropriately – James Last.

It was originally built by Scarborough Corporation in the early 1930s on the site of Hodgson’s Slack (taking advantage of the natural ground contour to create the amphitheatre).

The stage was (and still is in the modern, revamped version) set on an island in the middle of a lake. Among its many past hits are musicals The King and I and Hiawatha, which saw Native American warriors paddling round the stage in canoes, as well as the much-loved It’s a Knockout television series, which was hosted by the theatre for 11 years.

If you’d like to score even more music this summer, The Darkness will be descending on Scarborough Spa ( in June. The glam-rock group, who scored big hits with I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), are raring to get going again after several months on the road last year with Lady Gaga.

The seaside venue – it really is beside the seaside, with great views across the bay – will also play host to young folkster Amy Macdonald and The Wedding Present in July as well as family shows and performances by top comedy stars throughout the season.

Helen Broadbent, general manager at Scarborough Spa, said: ‘We’re really excited to unveil our summer programme, including The Darkness as the latest part of the line-up, and hope people will come along and enjoy all we have to offer.

‘To see such a packed line-up is great for both the venue and the town itself, as it means we are able to offer entertainment to audiences of all tastes.’

If you fancy having your ribs tickled this summer (who wouldn’t?) then The Spa at Bridlington is the place to be. Old favourite Jimmy Tarbuck will be joined on the seasonal bill by king of the celebrity jungle Joe Pasquale and deadpan humourist Jimmy Carr.

Joe McElderry, the dimpled former winner of the X-Factor, and The Script, led by Danny ‘the one who sits next to Tom Jones on The Voice’ O’Donoghue, will also be singing for the suppers at The Spa this summer.

Back in Scarborough, the reliably traditional Futurist Theatre ( is concentrating on good old family fun with the latest show from the fabulously ridiculous Chuckle Brothers (this time they’re going to-me-to-you with The Phantom) and Ken Dodd, who’s bringing his Happiness Show to town just before the kids go back to school.

As if all that was not enough, Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre ( is going one better by not only hosting a new show this summer but an actual world premiere. Muddy Cows is the latest offering by BAFTA-winning playwright John Godber, tackling the world of women’s rugby through a grudge match between a Yorkshire squad and a seemingly unbeatable New Zealand side.

And finally, if the Muddy Cows have got you in the mood for some good, clean farm fun for your pre-school charges to enjoy, the Stephen Joseph is also staging Tiny Time Tales: Wiffy Woo Works on the Farm especially for two to six-year-old theatre-goers (they’ll probably let you in too if you promise them popcorn in the interval).


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