Andrew Dipper

Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House reach for the stars

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When SMG Europe pulled the plug on operating Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House back in 2015, many feared it would be curtains for the iconic Grade I building nestled in our vibrant city centre. 

What the theatre did retain, though, was a core group of people who understood what a special venue it was. They understood the level of investment needed to make the Tyne Theatre great again. Not necessarily a financial investment, though that clearly oils the wheels – but an investment of time, care and attention.

Speaking at the time, Frank Lloyd, the chairman of the theatre’s Preservation Trust, told Giggle Beats that it was such a magnificent theatre “we know that whatever happens we’re going to make it work.”

And that’s what they did. Fast-forward 17 months and the Westgate Road venue is thriving once again, this time as a self-funded company spearheaded by Joanne Johnson, the theatre’s director.

Under the new regime the theatre has placed live comedy at the heart of its programming. Since January 2015 the venue has hosted comedy stars such as Chris Ramsey, Dylan Moran, Ed Byrne, Frankie Boyle and Katherine Ryan.

And local hero Sarah Millican will be doing 11 shows at the theatre in 2016 alone, most of which have already sold out.

“Back in January 2015 when the new company was born, we honestly had no idea what the future would hold,” Joanne told Giggle Beats.

“So being a completely independent company who receive no funding, it’s vital that we continue to hold successful shows in order to keep this historic building open to the public.”

The theatre’s comedy line-up continues to expand.

In recent weeks the Tyne Theatre have announced dates from a whole host of critically acclaimed comedians including Tape Face, Jerry Sadowitz, Josh Widdicombe, Rich Hall and Omid Djalili to name a few.

That’s in addition to the likes of Joe Lycett, Romesh Ranganathan and Nina Conti, whose shows have been on sale for a few months – completing a programme that really has something for every comedy fan in the North East.

“We think with this line-up we’ve cemented our status as the go-to theatre for comedy in Newcastle upon Tyne,” Joanne beamed. “We’ve come such a long way in just 17 months and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.”

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: they’ll make it work.

Tickets for all Tyne Theatre & Opera House shows are on sale now. Tickets start from £13.