Local History Month highlights

As a Love Middlesbrough Lass I get to do and see some amazing things, and Local History Month was no exception. A month long celebration throughout May of Middlesbrough heritage, with a programme packed full of events, I  was so excited to decide where I would go first!

Middlesbrough’s Theatrical History held at Middlesbrough Theatre was presented by self-titled, local time traveller Martin Peagam and the Chair of Middlesbrough Theatre Ltd, Ray Burton. Martin started the evening with a fascinating insight into the theatres of Middlesbrough – I had no idea there had been so many or that they went back so far in history! His passion for the subject was evident right from the start and everyone in the audience was totally enthralled. Ray followed this with the history of Middlesbrough Little Theatre, as it was originally known, including how it was funded, a potted history of the group and some brilliant anecdotes from all-nighter dress rehearsals! The evening ended with a fab presentation, made by the Theatre technicians, of some of the famous names that have graced the stage over the years. The icing on the cake was when members of the audience were allowed to go on the stage and have a good look behind the scenes. All round, it was an excellent beginning to my first Local History Month!

Middlesbrough Theatre exterior 1957

Next up was the unveiling of the Tom Dresser statue in the grounds of the Dorman Museum. Strolling through Albert Park to get to the museum, I was amazed to see the size of the crowd, and it was particularly heartwarming to see lots of local school children there too ❤️ The event, held on the centenary of Tom Dresser’s winning of the Victoria Cross during the First World War in 1917, was really very moving from start to finish. The speech from Tom’s grandson particularly had me welling up and I might even have shed a tear or two… I was lucky enough to be given access to the statue close up to get some photos for Love Middlesbrough and it’s truly stunning – so much detail! The sculptor, Brian Alabaster, is a wonderful artist and I can highly recommend taking a look next time you’re at the Dorman Museum.

The following day, there was more history to come – this time a hard hat tour of the Central Lodge, Askham Bryan College, in Stewart Park. I have to admit I’m beginning to develop a bit of a fondness for wearing a hard hat – until becoming a Love Middlesbrough Lass I’d never worn one in my life, and since then, I’ve had one on loads of times!

An absolutely cracking tour, we got to see so much more than I had anticipated and there was loads of fascinating facts to go with it all from our wonderful tour guide, Francine Marshall. I don’t want to give too much away as you can request a tour for yourself (which I would highly recommend) but safe to say there are some real beauties along the way from tiles to doors to the graffiti…oh! Honestly, it was brilliant, and even Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass gave it a solid 10 out of 10.

 

My final event of the month was Putting Ladies on a Pedestal, presented once again, by our beloved time-traveller, Martin Peagam. I was introduced to some ladies of Middlesbrough that I had never heard of, and my history-loving head is intrigued and wants to find out more. As with all of Martin’s talks that I attended, it was highly entertaining and once again his passion and enthusiasm shone through. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak I absolutely insist you should go – Love Middlesbrough recommends for definite!

Local History Month 2017 was presented in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough, and facilitated and supported by Middlesbrough Council, and coordinators Rob Nichols and Tracy Hyman from Discover Middlesbrough. I want to extend my thanks to them all – this Love Middlesbrough Lass loved every moment of it and I can’t wait for the next one!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s adventures in Middlesbrough!

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love (other than food), it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar! (We’ve been really subtle about it, haven’t we?)  So when we were asked by Middlesbrough Theatre to make a video promoting the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s theatre show, we were absolutely on board!

The brief was to film the Very Hungry Caterpillar in different famous places in Middlesbrough and make a video of it, so off we went (with not one but two caterpillars!) on a trip around the town.  The video will be appearing on your screens very soon, but we thought you’d love to see some of our behind the scenes pics.

We started off at the Transporter Bridge, because there’s nowhere more iconic!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge

Meanwhile, the baby Caterpillar who’s scared of heights visited Transporter Park, and then they met the dinosaurs at Teesaurus Park.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Transporter Park The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Teesaurus Park

There was a lot of climbing around, especially on the Bottle of Notes…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Bottle of Notes

The Very Hungry Caterpillar(s) enjoying the Bottle of Notes

We also stopped for a snack break in Stewart Park, for very good ice cream!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying ice cream

It’s a hard life going on adventures, so we had to give the Caterpillar lots of time to rest.  You know what they say – never work with animals!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Stewart Park

As well as getting to explore loads of fantastic places like the top of the Transporter Bridge, the Dorman Museum, and getting fed ice cream, the Caterpillar also got into some trouble, like getting stuck down a chair at Middlesbrough Theatre…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Middlesbrough Theatre

…and climbing into the Albert Park cannon!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Albert Park

And of course, because it wouldn’t be Love Middlesbrough without cake, we took our two hungry caterpillars (and hungry Lasses) for some amazing cakes made by the fabulous Songbird Bakery!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Songbird Bakery cakes

And the Caterpillar(s) didn’t get around by themselves – there was also heaps of work done by the Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and honorary Love Middlesbrough Lass, Matt!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and Lad) Love Middlesbrough Lass (and Lad) 

In case you missed it the first time we put the link in, you can book your tickets for the Very Hungry Caterpillar show via Middlesbrough Theatre.

The First Hippo on the Moon – review

Our latest guest post comes from Lisa, who was lucky enough to be offered two complimentary tickets to The First Hippo on the Moon by Middlesbrough Theatre.


After reading David Walliams’ story to my nearly three year old, and not getting a very engaged response, I was unsure of what to expect from the theatre show.

As soon as we entered the theatre we were greeted by a friendly steward who helped us find our seats. The steward was great with my little girl, chatting away and engaging her in the experience from the outset.

The show opens to a simple yet beautifully created set, clearly depicting a jungle scene and a gigantic TV screen. The set immediately prompted questions and intrigue from my little girl, who appeared to be getting more excited and interested in what was about to happen around her.

As the jungle characters took to the stage, the audience both young and old were immediately impressed by the fun-filled, life-sized puppets. Each character was brought to life by the five talented actor-puppeteers, each having a clearly defined comedic personality, which had the audience laughing straight away.

The story unfolds as the hacked-off hippo called Sheila decides she’s going to give rich and famous fellow hippo Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III a run for his money in his dream of getting to the moon first. In a bid to stop Hercules from stealing the simple jungle dweller’s dream, Sheila and her friends hatch a plan to make sure Sheila gets to the moon first!

While Sheila moans and groans, her faithful friends work together to create a DIY rocket from the best jungle material. With a little advice from Bob the ape, the team set to work creating the mass of rocket fuel needed to send Sheila whizzing into space, which is a massive pile of poo!

While trying their best to create enough poo for Sheila’s expedition, the creatures begin to descend upon the audience in their hunt for more poo! Squeals of glee and laughter erupted from the children as the creatures collected the rest of the poo needed from their parents.

Throughout the show we also encountered a number of fun, musical theatre-style songs and dances, which helped keep the attention of the youngsters, as Sheila does eventually achieve lift off after the monsoons have finally stopped.

In the end, Sheila got to the moon, but not without blowing up her rocket. But she couldn’t get too excited as it turned out she landed on the moon at the same time as Hercules! Hercules is so busy boasting about the fame and fortune he’ll gain when he returns to Earth, he doesn’t realise that while letting Sheila back on his rocket, he’s left himself stranded on the Moon forever! Back on Earth, Sheila officially becomes the first hipponaut on the Moon….forgetting to tell anyone about leaving Hercules to be the only hippo on the Moon!


The stage adaptation of World Of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon will be touring the UK until July 2017. Find your nearest dates and venues on firsthippolive.com #FirstHippo
Facebook: facebook.com/LesPetitsTheatreCompany
Twitter: twitter.com/PetitsTheatre

The First Hippo on the Moon

Simon Yates – My Mountain Life – Middlesbrough Theatre

In the remote Siula Grande mountain in Peru in June 1985, mountaineer Simon Yates was faced with an unbelievable situation. But then again as an incredibly experienced worldwide adventurer Simon knows how to face up to hair raising situations and quickly analyse the right way out of amazing situations.

simon-yatesIn a really gripping talk illustrated by breath taking photography and short film clips Simon took the audience on a mouth watering trip around the tops of the world. From the Alps, to the Himalayas, the bottom of South America, to the tips of Greenland we climbed the near vertical walls of rock and ice in the company of our ever calm host.

His quests to conquer the previously unclimbed still takes Simon to all parts of the globe. He has come a long way from his Leicestershire village, about as far from mountains as you could wish to be born. Simon told us of the amazing temperature ranges in the giant mountains of Pakistan, in his tent at 6000 metres the thermometer went from +38 C to -5C in a few minutes. There was spending over 20 days scaling shear vertical cliffs in the Andes. Or Tierra Del Fuego where it is so remote that not only does no one live there but it wasn’t even mapped. A true wilderness that has drawn Simon Yates back again and again.

But back to the cliff hanger for that is what it was. Below Simon his climbing partner Joe Simpson was apparently dangling from the end of a rope but had not responded for well over an hour. Gradually his weight was pulling Simon off the mountain, who was also starting to freeze. The man at the top found a knife in his clothing and took a fateful decision, which he said was really his only option and cut the rope. Amazingly both men survived and that action has been recorded in a book and film, “Touching the Void,” it made both men famous.

But here tonight was the story from the other view point, not the climber that then plunged to the bottom of a crevasse and somehow survived but the climber at the top of the rope who said matter a factly that once he found the knife it was his only option. And it worked! They both lived to tell their tales.

It was a thrilling ride tonight without getting up off our seats. As well as the quiet calm, that must be so essential for a climber of the world’s great peaks, Simon Joyce transmitted his passion and drive for adventure. A group of scouts were sitting amongst the big audience, I wonder how many of them will be inspired to pursue their own adventures.

Simon Yates – Middlesbrough Theatre – Thursday 2nd March

There is a really interesting range of acts programmed for this the 60th anniversary season of the Middlesbrough Theatre. This Saturday join broadcaster John Suchet as he delves into the life of the most naturally-gifted composer that ever lived, Mozart.

www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

A Night at the Theatre – Blithe Spirit

Escape into another world with Noel Coward’s comedy classic, Blithe Spirit running this week at Middlesbrough Theatre. Enter the country house set of the early twentieth century, a world of faltering servants, clipped accents, cocktails and it is formal dress code for dinner parties. It is all frightfully correct but there are frightening things bubbling beneath the surface. This particular dinner party thrown by socialite and novelist Charles and his wife Ruth serves up far, far more than the hosts bargained for with hilarious consequences.

Charles is researching for his latest book and decides to invite the marvellously over the top medium Madame Arcati over to conduct a séance. Maybe he ought to have thought twice before the flamboyant spiritualist asked if there was anyone there. Charles’ troublesome first wife Elvira seemed only too keen to return and cause all sorts of trouble and mayhem between Charles and second wife Ruth.

We are so lucky to have Middlesbrough Theatre. The unassuming post-war theatre sits amongst the foliage of leafy Linthorpe. The theatre has so many pluses, from the ample car parking right outside to the attentive staff. There are the home comforts of proper theatre seats and the rake affords superb viewing. Yet it has that intimacy of a small theatre but with a stage big enough to allow the elaborate country house set. In fact the last time I attended a play here we were all actually seated in the round on the stage itself.

Blithe Spirit is regarded as one of Noel Coward’s masterpieces, breaking all records for a West End run with nearly 2000 performances through the 1940s, records then smashed by The Mousetrap. Yet Coward went out of fashion, his plays about upper class England were something of an anathema to the aspiring post war generations. Latterly we fell in love with Noel Coward all over again as he made notable appearances on the screen, who can forget him as the criminal godfather, Mr Bridger, in The Italian Job.

This show is co-presented with Less is More Productions. They are a local company aiming to create theatre in Tees Valley area. Less is More like to work with and nurture emerging artists from Middlesbrough and the north east. That is certainly the case with the actress fulfilling the role of the ghostly presence of Elvira. South Shields Natasha Haws still known to many as the ridiculously talented teenage singer songwriter. She is also a ridiculously talented actor on the stage.

Only Charles can see Natasha/Elvira’s ghostly presence but while the results are hilarious for us they are certainly no laughing matter for the hen pecked husband. He is suddenly trapped between his high maintenance first wife Elvira and equally domineering second spouse, Ruth. Charles doesn’t know which way to turn. Maybe he could enjoy the best of both worlds. Yet secretly and certainly not silently Elvira is plotting, plotting, plotting.

Really funny, superb acting and a great opportunity to revel in a real treasure of 20th century theatre.

You can see Blithe Spirit – Friday and Saturday evening 7.30pm

£14/ Concessions £12

Middlesbrough Theatre, The Avenue, Middlesbrough, TS5 6SA.
T. 01642 81 51 81 | Website: www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

Blithe Spirit poster