Newcastle might not be the first English destination that springs to mind when you’re thinking of planning a theatre break but our compact city has a lot to offer and there’s not a night goes by that you can’t find an amazing production to capture your imagination.
I’m busy planning a theatre break for my Mum and Auntie who are coming to visit me in Newcastle later this year and it’s made me realise just how lucky I am to have so many wonderful theatres on my doorstep, we are honestly spoilt for choice!
City Centre Theatres
Top of the list is the stunningly beautiful Grade I listed Theatre Royal on Grey Street in the heart of the city. It’s been welcoming theatre lovers since 1837 and still retains lots of character and charm thanks to careful restorations over the years. The annual panto is always a big hit at Theatre Royal and it’s the regional home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The listings also regularly include musicals, comedy, ballet and children’s theatre.
Another city centre fave is the impressive Northern Stage; it’s not only a wonderful place to see a play but it’s also the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England. I’ve seen many exciting and innovative productions here and the onsite restaurant is also well worth a visit!
For a more intimate theatre experience, the small but perfectly formed Live Theatre near the Quayside is a delightful little place. This is where up and coming writers get to cut their teeth and where creative talent is nurtured.
Newcastle is also home to the world’s oldest working Victorian theatre, The Tyne Theatre and Opera House. I haven’t actually been to this one for ages but looking at the listings it seems to be the place for stand up comedy and locally produced musicals.
Beyond the city centre there’s also a handful of small local theatres where amateur dramatics thrive. The People’s Theatre in Heaton has a 500 seat auditorium and puts on an eclectic mix of shows.
Alphabetti Theatre is new venue that doubles up as a second hand book store. The fringe performance space hosts new and original work from emerging artists. You’ll find it opposite the Discovery Museum on St James’ Boulevard. (So, actually this one is in the city centre but just off the beaten path)
In the suburbs of the city there’s also Gosforth Civic Theatre, a fully inclusive community theatre that is run by a charity which gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to belong, work and get involved in the arts.
A few miles down the road from Newcastle the Sunderland Empire welcomes touring West End shows that other local theatres simply aren’t big enough to accommodate. Due to its size and beautiful interior, watching a show here really is a magical experience!
I have also seen many fantastic productions at PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay and the Customs House in South Shields which is a theatre I fell in love with after seeing Geordie the Musical there a few years ago.
Open Air Theatre
During the summer months, it’s possible to get your theatre fix while soaking up the sunshine in North East England. Kynren is a ninety minute outdoor blockbuster that tells the epic tale of England’s history in an action-packed, immersive and awe inspiring performance with a cast and crew of other a thousand!
There are regular open air shows taking place in the picturesque surroundings of Jesmond Dene during July and August thanks to Heartbreak Productions.
National Trust host great summer shows in the North East too, in 2018 Gibside welcomes Alice in Wonderland and Little Women!
Where to Eat and Sleep
Hopefully I’ve convinced that you Newcastle is well worth a visit for a theatre break so if you’re thinking of heading here from further afield you’ll need somewhere to fuel up and unwind.
My blog is full of restaurant reviews and recommendations, just take a look around the food section. Although one of my favourite restaurants for pre-theatre feasting in Newcastle is one that I haven’t actually blogged about yet, Cote Brasserie. It may be part of a chain but it offers excellent value and I’ve had a delicious meal and excellent service every time I’ve been there.
When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in Newcastle, well, you’ll need my handy guide to the city’s best hotels…
So… when are you coming and what are going to see?