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Published 27th Sep 2018

love songs at middlesbrough theatre this autumn

Jarrow-born playwright, Tom Kelly, is something of a North East phenomenon. He is a poet, with 8 poetry collections and two volumes of short stories published but he is perhaps best known throughout the region for his plays and musicals, often featured at the Customs House in South Shields, where his most recent works The Dolly Mixtures, written with John Miles, and Geordie The Musical, played to rapturous houses, justly earning standing ovations every night. His one-man play, I Left My Heart In Roker Park also played to packed houses, winning a WOW award, and Tom was a finalist in the Writer of the Year category in the Journal Culture Awards for Geordie.

On October 23rd, his new play Love Songs, which is packed with classic 60s songs, comes to Middlesbrough Theatre, presented by Baby Love Productions. Baby Love productions are husband and wife team, Helen and Jonathan Cash. Helen and Jonathan are experienced musical theatre performers, with numerous leading roles at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle and elsewhere around the region to their credit.

The couple live in Blaydon, as it happens, right next door to Tom Kelly, which is how the play came about. In 2016 they toured his play with 60s songs, Baby Love, which was a favourite with audiences. As North East Theatre Guide said, “Baby Love benefits from an insightful script, good music and charismatic acting.”
Tom explains, “After the success of Baby Love’s tour, I wanted to write something to capitalise on the talents of Helen and Jonathan and, as they are both singers as well as actors, it seemed a shame not to use that.”

The new play features an array of classic songs, such as Bridge Over Troubled Water, Somewhere, True Love Ways, Love Me Tender & Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. These songs are performed by the two protagonists as part of a 60s tribute tour.

Although the songs are nostalgic, the themes of the play are very contemporary. The play deals with themes of mental health and domestic abuse as the two lead characters face up to their own demons to have a chance at building a life together.

Tom explained, “I love these songs and tribute tours are the bread and butter of many of our local theatres nowadays. It seemed very current to use that as a background to address subjects like mental health and the impact of domestic abuse in a believable and ultimately positive way. I believe audiences will respond to that. ”
Typically for Tom’s work, Love Songs also has a lot of humorous sections. The play features the quirky characters that people the tribute tour, some of them unable to separate themselves from the icons they portray, with often comical consequences.

Jonathan, who both directs and acts in the play, told us, “We had a great time working with Tom on Baby Love and had the joy of experiencing at first hand the emotional impact his writing has on audiences. It’s the authenticity of his characters and the depth of feeling he brings to his writing that makes his work so satisfying, both to watch and to perform. There’s always a mix of drama and comedy that makes the work real and engaging. When he said he was writing a new piece especially for us, we were, naturally, delighted. It’s a privilege to have a play written for us by one of the region’s foremost playwrights. We’re just extremely lucky he happens to be our friend. Also living just next door makes it really easy to get together for rehearsals.”

“We’re really excited to be playing at the lovely Middlesbrough Theatre for the first time. It has lots of atmosphere and the audience are really close to the stage. Looking around it, I realised straight away that it would be the perfect venue for an intimate play like Love Songs. We will be able to really engage with the audience, while singing these iconic numbers.”
You can watch a short video about the play and find more information about baby Love productions at the website http://babyloveproductions.co.uk

The play is at Middlesbrough Theatre at 7.30 on Tuesday 23 October.

Tickets available from https://www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk/shows/love-songs/



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