WITH winter on the horizon and thoughts turning to Christmas, Darlington Hippodrome launches an exciting Spring 2019 season of productions.

With the annual family festive pantomime, Aladdin, about to start its run of 50 performances, thoughts turn to Spring and an exciting season of productions at Darlington Hippodrome and the adjoining Hullabaloo.

The first week-long show following pantomime is another smash-hit direct from London’s West End – The Simon & Garfunkel Story (Tuesday 29 January to Saturday 2 February). Now seen by over a quarter of a million people across the world, this production is a critically-acclaimed concert style theatre show about two young boys from New York who went on to become the world’s most successful music duo.

Fans of the court-room style drama will love The Verdict (Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 February) starring Ian Kelsey as a washed-up, veteran lawyer (and alcoholic) who is presented with a seemingly open and shut case. Instead, Kelsey’s character, Frank Galvin, takes the case and the entire legal system to court. A stunning thriller made famous by the five-times Oscar-nominated film with Paul Newman and James Mason.

Paul Nicholls (EastEnders) and Chris Fountain (Hollyoaks) star in a brand new stage adaptation of the classic film Rain Man (Monday 18 to Sat 23 February). When self-centred salesman Charlie discovers that his long-lost brother Raymond, an autistic savant with a genius for numbers, has inherited the family fortune, he sets out to get ‘his half’.

Funny man Nick Hancock stars in the world premiere tour of a brand new British farce Octopus Soup (Tuesday 26 February to Saturday 2 March). Insurance consultant Seymour is in the last chance saloon and everything rests on this one important conference call. What could possibly go wrong? Enter Marvin, a bungling burglar with bad knees.

Our younger audiences will be enthralled by Tom Gates – Live on Stage (Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 March). Tom is doing everything possible to stay out of trouble but somehow he has three sad faces on the school achievement chart! From the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company, producers of Horrible Histories, comes this world premiere production – an exciting and hilarious new adventure that sends Tom’s world spinning.

Jonathan Wrather (Emmerdale, Coronation Street) heads the cast of the Oscar Wilde classic The Picture of Dorian Gray (Tuesday 16 to Saturday 30 March). In a society obsessed with youth and beauty, Dorian Gray is given the chance to keep his looks forever. But at what cost? This bold new production of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel celebrates his wonderful language and will appeal to audiences young and not so young and keep you on the edge of your seats.

Following recent successes with Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, DarlingtonOS will be putting on the style with the smash-hit song and dance spectacular Top Hat (Wednesday 3 to Saturday 13 April).

Who doesn’t love a classic who-dunnit – and there’s none finer that The Mousetrap (Monday 29 April to Saturday 4 May). The Mousetrap has kept audiences guessing for so long, becoming the longest-running show of any kind in the history of theatre. The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there’s a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? This production stars Gwyneth Strong (Only Fools & Horses, EastEnders).

Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sparkling family musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat returns to Darlington (Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 May). Joseph was the first of Lloyd Webber and Rice’s musicals to be performed publicly. Now seen by an estimated 26 million people, and counting, Joseph continues to enthral audiences around the world.

Looking a little further ahead, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is coming to Darlington (Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 September). Forget feel good, Buddy is a feel great show! Experience the drama, passion and excitement as a cast of phenomenally talented actors and musicians tell Buddy Holly’s story, from his meteoric rise to fame, to his final legendary performance at The Surf Ballroom in Iowa.

Shorter-run shows

Spring 2019 brings a wealth of one-night and short run shows at Darlington Hippodrome. Welcoming in the new year with a laugh is Sandi Toksvig and her one-woman comedy show (Friday 11 January). Expect tall stories, fascinatingly funny facts, really silly jokes, a quiz and a quick-fire Q&A session. Don’t expect tap-dancing, leotards or forward rolls. On Friday 12 January the Roy Orbison and Travelling Wilburys Experience take you on a journey through the story of the Wilburys with music, narrative and big-screen action. Capturing the excitement, energy and charisma that have made Rod Stewart a true rock icon, Some Guys Have All The Luck will have all Rod’s classic hits and more on Tuesday 15 January followed on Wednesday 16 January by the Illegal Eagles, the world’s number one Eagles tribute act.

On Thursday 17 January join Royal Northern Sinfonia for music to get everyone dancing! Among the programme young sax star Jess Gillam plays showpieces with a Latin flavour. Royal National Sinfonia is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra, and the leading professional orchestra in the north east. Calling all Bingsters! Bing and his friends are coming to Darlington in the first ever Bing Live stage show on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 January. Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando as they find out how to tell stories by pretending, dressing up and singing songs.

On Monday 21 January Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock returns to Darlington but this time with very special guest Sam Bailey. Throwing just the right amount of fun and humour into his scripts, Steinman ensures the audience are roaring with laughter and wanting more. Direct from London’s West End Fastlove is the Uk’s finest George Michael tribute show and is coming to Darlington on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 January followed closely by the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia with four classics – Giselle, Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake from Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January.

Award-winning comedian Adam Kay takes to the Hippodrome stage on Sunday 10 March sharing entries from his diaries as a junior doctor. Ben Fogle will be in Darlington on Monday 11 March with his Tales from the Wilderness. The much-loved TV adventurer will recount his thrilling tales. Hold on to your hats – The Dreamboys are coming to town on Thursday 14 March (strictly for 18+ only).

For lovers of smooth jazz, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars (Friday 15 March) combine world-class live jazz alongside rare archive photos and video footage. Let them take you on a guided musical tour of jazz bars and jook joints. A joyous new stage show celebrating the music of Tina Turner, What’s Love Got To Do With It features Tina’s greatest hits performed by the amazing vocal talent of Elesha Paul Moses. Our spring brochure cover star Brendan Cole brings his all-new show to Darlington Hippodrome on Sunday 17 March. Brendan Cole – Show Man guarantees you a night of beautiful ballroom magic and high energy Latin passion.

Back by popular demand the ever popular stage show That’ll Be The Day is coming to Darlington on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 March, incredible live performances blending solid gold hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Never off the TV, Dr Michael Mosley will be sharing his thoughts on health, fitness and general well-being on Wednesday 20 March. Your chance to say farewell to The Searchers on Thursday 21 March as they embark on their farewell tour which will feature all their greatest hits as well as many album tracks and anecdotes about their career.

For lovers of everything extinct, Dinosaur World Live comes to Darlington from Friday 22 and Sunday 24 March with a special meet and greet after the show – a chance to get up close to your new dinosaur friends. Steeleye Span has become one of the most enduring stories in the folk world led by the iconic Maddy Prior. They visit Darlington on Monday 25 March as part of their 50th Anniversary Tour.

Bobby Davro is back playing Smee in the Easter pantomime, Peter Pan, on Sunday 14 and Monday 15 April. Also starring will be Dani Harmer as Wendy and Lloyd Warbey as Peter Pan. For some close harmony nostalgia there is none better than Walk Right Back which tells the story of the most successful duo of all time – The Everley Brothers. Follow the brothers’ story from their rise to fame, their decade-long feud to the glorious reunion that gave them back to the world, and to each other (Tuesday 16 April). Music of a different nature is celebrated on Wednesday 17 April with Quadrophenia – The Album Live. Eight-piece band The Goldhawks deliver a stunning live performance of the Who’s smash hit concept album backed with exciting large-screen projections.

Award-winning Story Pocket Theatre combine physical theatre, puppetry and glorious storytelling to bring David Baddiel’s AniMalcolm to the stage on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 April. Malcolm doesn’t like animals which is a bit of a problem as his family loves them. On a school trip to a farm he begins to understand animals more deeply than anyone. Rumours of Fleetwood Mac return on Tuesday 23 April to celebrate 50 years of the very best of Fleetwood Mac, including a special blues set paying tribute to the Peter Green era. On Wednesday 24 April the London Festival Opera presents A Celebration of Opera, a programme of passion, drama and humour with superb singing, elegant costumes and beautiful set with distinguished singers from the Royal Opera, English National Opera and Glyndebourne.

The all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy Menopause The Musical roars into Darlington from Thursday 15 to Saturday 27 April. Starring Maureen Nolan, Cheryl Ferguson, Rebecca Wheatley and Hilary O’Neil, Menopause the Musical is packed full of one-liners about night-sweats, hot flushes and memory loss backed by a pounding soundtrack of 60s, 70s and 80s pop classics.

Musical theatre is celebrated with Stars of Les Miserables In Concert on Sunday 5 May - The Barricade Boys are back on the road with this five-star international tour. Join the greatest 60s party in town with Summer of Love on Tuesday 14 May including over 40 hits from one of music’s most influential eras. Another party night on Wednesday 15 May with Seven Drunken Nights – a celebration of Ireland’s favourite sons the Dubliners. A guaranteed evening of humour and craic. Comedy lovers can look forward to a night of Dave Spikey – Juggling on a Motorbike on Thursday 16 May. Dave looks back on his incredible journey from working class lad to much loved comedy performer, presenter and writer via Phoenix Nights and 8 out of 10 Cats.

For the younger theatre fans Zog will be an instant hit from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 May. Zog comes to life in Mike Shepherd’s magical adaptation which lifts the classic children’s book from the page to create a real and fantastical world on stage.

Music royalty will grace the Hippodrome stage on Sunday 26 May when Marty Wilde, Eden Kane, Mike Berry, Nancy Ann Lee and The Wildcats present Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll with its fusion of sound and rhythm that shaped the style of music for a generation. On Tuesday 28 May Steve Steinman brings his brand-new production – Anything For Love with special guest star Lorraine Crosby, the female lead vocalist on Meat Loaf’s Grammy Award winning song I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Music of a softer nature can be enjoyed on Wednesday 29 May as Elkie Brooks comes to Darlington Hippodrome with her powerhouse blues vocals and trademark impossibly long notes that leave you mesmerised. After a successful debut tour, Dear Zoo, the timeless children’s book, returns to the stage and is dropping in to Darlington on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 May.

Star of Ab Fab The Movie and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist La Voix presents her unique style of entertainment on Tuesday 18 June. Expect immaculate impressions and amazing vocals – a feat for the senses, an evening of frills, frocks and fun. Those Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians are back with Horrible Histories from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 June. Historical figures and events will come alive on stage and hover at your fingertips. Michael, Starring Ben is a jaw-dropping and magical tribute to the King of Pop Michael Jackson with the amazing Ben Bowman on Monday 8 July. For an evening of pure entertainment, fun and feathers then look no further than The Ladyboys of Bangkok on Friday 6 September. Now seen by over 3 million people it’s cheekier, funnier and as spectacular as ever.

For fans of The Who, Tommy – The Album Live sees a return of the band The Goldhawks with another amazing live performance of a classic studio album on Saturday 7 September. The Aretha Franklin Songbook: Respect is an amazing live concert that pays tribute to the Queen of Soul on Monday 23 September while on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September In The Night Garden Live is a brand new stage show. Lasting just under an hour this is a perfect introduction to theatre for younger audiences featuring all their favourite characters from the TV show.

There is a fabulous season of performances lined up in the beautiful 170 seat studio theatre The Hullabaloo adjoining Darlington Hippodrome. On Saturday 12 January Jason Cook takes to the stage with his own brand of comedy. On Sunday 13 January there is a very special opportunity to introduce the very youngest members of your family to classical music with Baby Sinfonia, a 45 minute classical treat with members of Royal National Sinfonia suitable for babies up to 18 months. TV antiques expert David Harper will be in Darlington on Tuesday 15 January with a live and unscripted talk featuring funny behind the scenes anecdotes – you can even bring in your own antique for evaluation. There’s a double bill of comedy on Sunday 3 February with Laruen Pattison and Brennan Reece with an age guidance of 16+. Join Britain’s leading political comedian Matt Forde as he presents Brexit Through The Gift Shop on Tuesday 19 February.

Author and broadcaster Tim Marshall will be giving a talk about his new book Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls on Monday 25 February. One of the most enduring TV classics is celebrated in a new stage production Dad’s Army Radio Play. Two actors play 25 characters in this brilliant staging of three classic radio episodes on Thursday 28 February. Where There’s Muck There’s Bras is performed by stand-up poet Kate Fox on Friday 1 March, a comical and thought-provoking show about northern women. A comedy fest is on the cards on Saturday 20 April featuring BBC’s Angelos Epithemiou and Channel 4’s Barry from Watford with a guest appearance from double act Barney Fishwick and Will Hislop. Duos come and duos go and some nurture and fine tune their art. Husband and wife team Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman bring their own folk based music to the Hullabaloo on Tuesday 30 April. Armed with his usual swagger and playful sense of mischief, join Tom Stade on Friday 3 May.

Additional shows are regularly being added to the Darlington Hippodrome schedule. To ensure you keep up to date please visit the website.

Tickets for this new season go on sale from 10am on Monday 3 December.

For further information and to book contact the box office on 01325 405405, or visit www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk to choose your own seats online. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.