The QT

Tuesday 23 July 2024

Royal promotion for Gerry and Sewell

Newcastle Theatre Royal is preparing for a bout of football fever as a North East play earns itself a place in the premier league. Sam Wonfor reports
Jack Robertson in Gerry and Sewell which packed them in at Live Theatre in 2023

Newcastle Theatre Royal is set to become a ‘sea of black and white’ this autumn as a play which started life in an attic in Whitley Bay prepares for a big league promotion.

The venue is teaming up with Laurels Theatre and Eastlake Productions to announce a North East-soaked co-production of Gerry and Sewell — an adaptation of Jonathan Tulloch’s novel, Season Ticket (which translated to the big screen in the form of 2000 film, Purely Belter) kicking off in October.

In a turn of events which might provoke a ‘oh my word’ from the coolest of commentators, it’s safe to say Blyth-born and Olivier Award winning producer Jamie Eastlake’s stage telling of the tale of two lads from the wrong side of the Metro tracks, who make it their mission to secure a pair of season tickets to St James’ Park, has been on quite the journey.

Since debuting at Laurels Theatre with two sold out runs in 2022, the play became the first full North East production transfer to Live Theatre’s main stage, where it enjoyed three sell-out weeks in November last year.

Cast members Becky Clayburn, Dean Logan and Jack Robertson will be on the pitch in Gerry and Sewell at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Now Gerry and Sewell’s considerable exploits involving stolen toilets, family trauma, run-ins with the social and a ‘fair few radgies’… as well as a bucketload of chicken nuggets, will be given an even bigger stage following its latest booking.

Jamie, who is the co-founder of Laurels Theatre, said: “Opportunities don’t come much bigger and better than this; the chance to recreate the story of Gerry and Sewell — a true Tyneside tale — on stage at one of the leading theatres not only in the North East region, but the country, is something which only comes along once in a lifetime.

“The reaction to the lads’ story has been unbelievable and following the success of Gerry & Sewell during its previous runs, we can’t wait to share their tale once again and turn Newcastle Theatre Royal into a sea of black and white.”

Jamie Eastlake at the Theatre Royal announcing the co-production of Gerry and Sewell

In the same way that the production had to expand to fill the stage at Live Theatre, on-stage proceedings will be moving up another league for the Theatre Royal run.

While the Metro train — currently residing at Anarchy Brewery in Newcastle — will be pulling onto stage again, plans are underway to extend both the staging and the cast for the new production.

Becky Clayburn (‘Tyneside’) and Dean Logan (Gerry) who have been with the play since kick off will return to their roles and will be joined by Bafta-nominated actor and writer, Jack Robertson who played Sewell to memorable effect during the Live Theatre run.

The opening sequence of Gerry and Sewell at Live Theatre

Casting auditions are set to take place in the coming weeks for the additional and expanded roles — which will be revealed in due course.

Flag gurus Wor Flags, who made sure Live’s main auditorium was bathed in black and white, have also signed on for the promotion season at the Theatre Royal. 

We feel confident in saying it’s going to look pretty special.

News of this latest co-production comes just months at the Theatre Royal announced its return to theatre making via a co-production with David Pugh of Isobel MacArthur’s Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)  which will take to the stage in September.

Marianne Locatori, chief executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal said: “Our region is rich in storytelling and ensuring that these local narratives are represented in our programme and performed on our stage is incredibly important. 

Becky Clayburn as ‘Tyneside’

“We are delighted that we have the opportunity to work creatively alongside Jamie and the team to showcase this fabulous tale which is deeply rooted in the North East.”

She added: “Earlier this year, we announced our first co-production in more than a decade and hot on the heels of Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of), we’re thrilled that we can now further supporting amazing local talent the region has to offer and grow and nurture cultural creativity in the North East.”

Gerry and Sewell plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from October 2-5. Tickets are on sale to the general public from July 1 and can be booked via the website or box office on 0191 232 7010.


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