Tag Archives: Customs House

The reviews are in!

Thursday 28 April 2016

The first production in our Shakespeare season, Romeo + Juliet, is growing from strength to strength – and it’s not just us saying that, the reviewers think so too!

We’re getting some wonderful feedback, which is just rewards for all the incredible hard work the cast have put into this production over recent weeks.

Stephen Oliver writes in the North East Theatre Guide:

“A must-see.

This production is a happy marriage of great acting, lively action scenes and a charismatic cast.

The decision to deliver a parochial production has helped liberate Shakespeare’s story and they’ve probably ended up with a show that’s closer to what the Bard intended.”

You can read the full review here.

MITW - paulAnd hot on the heels of this, we talked this morning to Made In Tyne & Wear for their arts & entertainment show The Lowdown.  The lovely Hazel Pude asked director Paul Dunn about his inspiration for the production, how it all came about, and how he put together the cast that have delivered such a great production.

Our Romeo + Juliet, David Jackson and Brogan Gilbert, told the cameras about recently performing with The Globe theatre for the MITW - actorsShakespeare celebrations, and being accepted into not one, not two, but three drama schools – as well as their palpable on-stage chemistry and complete ease and comfort at have to snog each other on a regular basis!

If you haven’t seen it yet, you still have a chance to catch it.  It plays Alphabetti theatre tonight and Friday, then on Saturday night it goes to the Alun Armstrong theatre in Stanley.

If you can’t make it this week, you have a chance to see it at the Customs House on Thursday 19th May, 7.45pm.



Romeo & Juliet – Extra date added

Thu 31st Mar 2016

David and Brogan in rehearsal
Rehearsals:  pictures by Vanessa Karon

Well, rehearsals for our first Shakespeare 2016 production, Romeo and Juliet, have finally begun.  Our pair of star-crossed lovers, David Jackson and Brogan Gilbert, have thrown themselves into their roles, and already things are shaping up to produce a great piece of theatre – even if we do say so ourselves!

And The Customs House in South Shields think so too, as they have invited us to take the production there.

We’ll be playing for one night only, in the main house at the Customs House, on Thursday 19th May 2016.

Show starts at 7.45pm. There are various ticket prices, including an early bird offer, so head over to their website or call their box office on 0191 454 1234.


Vote for us in The Journal Culture Awards 2014


First of all, we want to say a huge thank you to all of you who nominated us for the Sunderland Echo Awards earlier this year. We’re pleased to say that we have been shortlisted for Performance of the Year, and will be attending the awards bash on 26th March – fingers crossed!

Also coming up soon is The Journal Culture Awards, which aims to recognise outstanding achievements in the arts throughout last year – and we’d like your vote one last time please!  Closing date is 28th February, so you haven’t got long.  It will only take a few minutes, and you’ll really help to establish Cranked Anvil in the North East Arts scene, as we strive to do bigger and better things in the coming year.

There are several categories in which you could cast a vote, so if you have the time, please feel free to vote in all of them (details below).

Voting form is here

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR  (vote for ‘Cranked Anvil – I Left My Heart In Roker Park’)

 This award is for a group or company who you have seen or heard in 2014. Has a performance in the North East raised the hairs on the back of your neck, moved or inspired you? If the answer is yes we want to hear about it. Examples could include dance, music, stage/theatre or comedy productions.


 This award will recognise an individual performer who has stood out during 2014. We’re welcoming nominations for actors, dancers, musicians, singers, spoken word artists and comedians. Nominations can be for one stand out performance which got your attention or for a collection of performances throughout the year.

WRITER OF THE YEAR  (vote for ‘Tom Kelly’ – writer of I Left My Heart…)

 This award will recognise an author, playwright, screenwriter or poet who has had some outstanding work published or performed during 2014.
Thanks everyone!

Vote for us in the What’s On Where 2015 Awards

Thur 15 Jan 2015


After the news earlier this week that our production of ‘I Left My Heart In Roker Park’ was named Best Revival of 2014 by the British Theatre Guide’s North East editor Peter Lathan, we’re pleased to see that the Sunderland Echo are holding their What’s On Where awards again this year. Here’s what they say on their website:

Once again, we are looking for the very best in the arts, culture, hospitality and leisure sectors of Wearside. Enter your nominations here.
The awards are held in association with our weekly entertainments guide, Wow 24/7, and aim to reward the elite in everything from restaurants to children’s venues, takeaways to parks and community areas, and hotels to the best shopping experience.

It’s only the second time we have held the awards and we want to build on the success of last year’s great inaugural competition.

That’s where you come in. We want you to nominate your favourites in each of the categories listed.


So, if you saw ‘I Left My Heart…’ in 2014, and you think it deserves a vote under the Best Show/Performance Of The Year category, please take a few minutes to go to their website and nominate Paul and/or the show.

Thanks everyone.

actor Paul Dunn in performance
actor Paul Dunn in performance

Cranked Anvil on the BBC!

Tuesday 2nd September 2014

It’s been a very busy few weeks at CAHQ.  With the show opening in just over two weeks, we’re now into the business end of things. Actor Paul Dunn and writer/director Tom Kelly are in the rehearsal room, working hard to mould the show into an entertaining piece of theatre, while the production team – including the ever-inventive and incredibly talented David Gibson – are working behind the scenes to get everything ready for production week.

Look North's Jeff Brown interviews Paul Dunn
Look North’s Jeff Brown interviews Paul Dunn

Tickets are continuing to sell incredibly well. A lot of the performances are now completely sold out, and Durham Gala have asked us to do another night there.  So currently, the run consists of 9 performances:

Customs House, South Shields: 19th (2 shows), 20th, 21st
Durham Gala  23rd
Arts Centre Washington  25th
Durham Gala (again)  26th, 27th, 28th

And we’re expecting that to go up even more by next week, after a morning with Jeff Brown and the Look North team, filming a short piece about the play.  Being a Sunderland supporter himself, Jeff was extremely interested in the play and its background, and Tom and Paul really enjoyed talking to him on camera about their experience so far of putting the show together, and about being long-suffering Sunderland supporters for many years!

The item should air on BBC’s Look North, 6.30pm, some time in the next week. Keep a look out for it!


Jeff Brown speaking to writer Tom Kelly
Jeff Brown speaking to writer Tom Kelly


SAFC – the best fans in the world!

Roker Park flyerThursday 31st July 2014

The Cranked Anvil office will be closed for a week after tomorrow, as we decamp to Edinburgh for the Ed Fringe. So we’ve been hard at work this week, getting things organised before we go. And of course, the one thing we’ve been concentrating on is I Left My Heart In Roker Park.

Production is in full swing now, and there’s already been some nice coverage in the local press. You can read the article in the Shields Gazette here.  Posters have gone up in Durham, Washington, South Shields and, of course, Sunderland. The people of Sunderland showed huge interest and support, and a lot of people came up to us while we were postering.  They told us they’d read about the show in the Sunderland Echo, and were looking forward to seeing the show. No wonder SAFC has the amazing support that it does – the Sunderland fans are second to none!

And today we had a meeting with Michael Ganley from SAFC Museum, who is quite possibly the most dedicated fan we’ve met yet! Full of ideas, full of passion, and we’re really looking forward to him being involved with ‘Roker Park’, and to working with him over the next couple of months and into the future.

Michael has been avidly collecting SAFC and football memorabilia for over 30 years – ever since he tried his luck asking Jackie Charlton for his football boots. (Ask Michael to tell you that story – it’s hilarious!)  When the shows are on in September,we’re planning to have Michael display some of his memorabilia, and he’ll be on hand to tell the stories of how he came by them.  There’s a whole host of stuff – although our favourite is the 1973 cup final shirt, signed by Bob Stokoe!

You can follow Michael on twitter here, and take a look at some of his collection on his Instagram Page.

And if you haven’t booked tickets yet for the show, make sure you get in quick. Durham Gala has already sold out one night, and the rest of the tickets are selling fast; with the venue brochures now printed and sent out, the rest of the tickets are sure to be snapped up soon. Go to our show page here, and then follow the link to the relevant venue.

Sept 19th & 20th – Customs House, South Shields

Sept 25th – Washington Arts Centre

Sept 27th & 28th – Durham Gala


Roker Park – tickets selling fast!

Monday 7th July 2014

With still over two months to go until the shows open, and with virtually no press or publicity having gone out yet to the general public, the word coming back from the theatres is that I Left My Heart In Roker Park is already proving extremely popular with audiences!

The Customs House is about half sold, over the three performances, and The Durham Gala has asked us to add an extra performance due to demand! 

So don’t miss out!  If you want to catch this fantastic production, get your tickets now. Go to the Production Page, then follow the links to the relevant theatres.


Football isn’t a matter of life and death, it’s much more important than that!

For lifelong supporter Kevin Halliday, following his team has given him his fair share of highs and lows over the years.  As he sits in the back garden of his home – on the site of the former Roker Park – he recalls the events of his life as they interweave with the fortunes of his beloved Sunderland AFC.

Excitement, heartache, disappointment, satisfaction, jubilation; watching his team and living his life have both provided them all.

This updated version of Tom Kelly’s funny, poignant and ultimately heart-warming play tells the story of one man’s journey through his life and loves.