CRITICALLY acclaimed live theatre, high profile stand-up performances and family fun are just a few of the things awaiting people that are preparing to attend the eclectic season of shows at Gala Durham this spring.

The Durham City venue, which is operated by Durham County Council, opened its new season with First Time on Friday (January 21) with an autobiographical show from HIV+ theatre maker and ‘It’s A Sin’s’ Nathaniel Hall about growing up positive in a negative world.

Despite the first who coming and going for Gala Durham, there’s more live theatre with Theatre Space North East’s Black Mirror-esque Girl In The Machine on (Saturday, February 19). Written by the award-winning Stef Smith, it explores present-day unease about digital intrusiveness.

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Following the success of its productions of The War of the Worlds and The Hound of the Baskervilles, Northern Stage will present its electrifying adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic The Invisible Man (Tuesday 1 March)

Hollyoaks and War Horse’s Majid Mehdizadeh stars in Young Man’s Angry Movements (Y’MAM) on Friday, April 1. In this brutally honest autobiographical solo-show, Majid looks at the origins of his personal struggle with anger, anxieties, desires, and fantasies of toxic masculinity.

And award-winning Quick Duck Theatre will bring its Edinburgh Fringe smash-hit coming-of-age comedy about the complications of 21st Century communication Yours Sincerely to the venue on Friday, April 8.

The Northern Echo: Northern Ballet - Harris Beattie, Aerys Merrill and Kirica Takahashi in Pinocchio. Picture: Drew ForsythNorthern Ballet - Harris Beattie, Aerys Merrill and Kirica Takahashi in Pinocchio. Picture: Drew Forsyth

Meanwhile, Gala Durham’s comedy line-up begins next Friday (January 28) as Ed Byrne returns to a sold-out Gala Durham with his new show ‘If I’m Honest’. And limited tickets remain available for The Mash Report’s Nish Kumar’s new show ‘Your Power, Your Control (Saturday, February 12).

Ed Gamble, who will be stopping at Gala Durham twice as part of his ‘Electric’ tour on Friday 18 and Friday 25 February, while Welsh comedian and panelist on Would I Lie You Kiri Pritchard-McLean will perform her show ‘Home Truths’ on Saturday, March 12.

Double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Ahir Shah returns with ‘Dress’, a new show about significance, insignificance and scurvy on Friday, February 25, and American comic Reginald D. Hunter is back with the searingly honest and brutally funny ‘Bombe Shuffleur’ on Saturday, March 26.

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Through their trademark blend of joyful songs, silly stand-up and riotous storytelling, Jonny & The Baptists visit Gala Durham on Friday, April 22 to help people find meaning, humour and beauty in the worst years of the century.

The North East’s own Chris Ramsey (Sunday, February 13), The Masked Singer host Joel Dommett (Saturday, February 26) and Mark Steel (Thursday, April 28) will also be performing to a sold-out Gala Durham as part of their tours.

Following the success of The Nutcracker Re-Miced, Gala Durham will once again be producing family theatre with Cinderella’s SnapTok (Friday 25 and Saturday 26 February). A co-production with Blowin’ A Hooley, this fairy tale for the 21st Century sees Cinderella 20 years after her ‘happy ever after’ and Prince Charming nowhere to be seen.

The Northern Echo: First Time (2019) Andrew Perry. Picture: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL.First Time (2019) Andrew Perry. Picture: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL.

Cindy’s back in County Durham with her daughter, Stacey – who’s obsessed with a new app, SnapTok. Consuming all her attention, Stacey’s grades are slipping and she’s discovering the difference between friends and followers.

And there’s more for families to enjoy as Northern Ballet retells classic children’s story Pinocchio on Friday, April 8 and Yorkshire-based theatre company Wrongsemble presents a brand new musical retelling of Cinderella with The Not So Ugly Sisters (Wednesday, April 13).

Fresh from lifting the glitterball this year on Strictly Come Dance, a sold-out audience can expect all their favourite ballroom and Latin dances from Giovanni Pernice on Wednesday, March 23.

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Fifty years since the release of their classic album ‘Fog On The Tyne’, Lindisfarne frontman Billy Mitchell and founder member Ray Laidlaw present an evening of music and stories in The Lindisfarne Story on Saturday, April 23. And nearly 30 years since their formation, John Peel favourites Half Man Half Biscuit play Gala Durham on Friday, April 29.

Following the release of the packed out line-up, Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “What a fantastic line-up Gala Durham has in store this spring, with many events already sold out. The theatre is a big part of our bid to be named UK City of Culture in 2025.

“This season the venue is providing a wide range of different stand-up performances, music concerts and children’s stories which are suitable for all the family, including Cinderella’s SnapTok, which the theatre is producing itself.

“We’re very excited to welcome people young and old to Gala Durham for the packed programme over the next few months and hope everyone attending the theatre enjoys their visit.” 

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