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A Beautiful Way To Spend Christmas

beauty and the beast visual smallA beastly tale beautifully told will entertain audiences at The Dukes in Lancaster this festive season.

Beauty and the Beast, which runs from November 20, 2015 to January 2, 2016, is a classic fairytale full of adventure, fun, wonderful characters and drama.

The audience is invited to join Belle as she leaves her family and ventures deep into the forest towards the magical castle. There she confronts the Beast, a grizzly and gruesome creature who’s in hiding from the world.

Can the Beast soften and change during Belle’s stay in his home or must Belle look beyond his grotesque appearance to what really matters?

Performed in The Round, this new version of Beauty and the Beast has been adapted by the Lancaster-based writer and father-of-two, Eddie Robson.

It promises to be a feelgood festive treat for all the family and is the perfect Christmas play for anyone aged 5 plus.

Beauty and the Beast is the fourth Dukes Christmas production in The Round to be directed by Joe Sumsion who saw a version of this fairytale when he made his first ever theatre visit to The Dukes in 1973 aged 5.

He said: “Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic, rich and moving story – the best of all fairytales for my money. It’s about the idea of true beauty and how it could be that a young, beautiful woman would fall for a hideous beast. Presenting this story in The Round, with the audience in touching distance of the characters, will give it an extra frisson.”

Beauty and the Beast is the highlight of The Dukes festive season which also includes a Christmas Cabaret with Slightly Fat Features on December 10 & 11 and a selection of seasonal film screenings.

To book tickets for Beauty and the Beast, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit (opens The Dukes website in a new window)


Beauty and the Beast is written by Lancaster-based Eddie Robson who has previously contributed to The Dukes youth theatre productions of Your Country Needs You (But I Don’t Need My Country) and Your Country Called(And It Wants You Back) as well as Late Night Lock-In. He has written episodes of Sarah & Duck for Cbeebies and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, sketches for Mitchell and Webb, and ten episodes of Radio 4 Extra’s Doctor Who series. His other work includes a novel, non-fiction books on film and TV, and comic strips for Marvel Comics and 2000AD.

All but one of the cast will be familiar to Dukes audiences.

Victoria Brazier (Adelaide/Narrator 2/Whitelaw/Hatstand) played Nancy/the Judge/Noah Claypole in Oliver Twist this summer.

Gareth Cassidy - shown below, (Beast/Narrator/Judge/Factory Worker) played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in 2013 and has also appeared in Treasure Island, Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, The Life and Times of Mitchell & Kenyon, Pierrepoint and Peter Pan.

Polly Lister(Felicity/Narrator 3/Statue) appeared as the Witch in Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest in 2014 and has just won a UK Theatre Award for her performance in Abigail’s Party at Keswick’s Theatre By The Lake. She will also take the lead in her self-penned one woman show I Was A Wife early in the New Year at The Dukes.

Guy Hargreaves(Beaumont/Armour 2) also appeared in Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, Robin Hood, Peter Pan and Accrington Pals.

Derek Elwood(Narrator 1/Mayhew/Clock) appeared in The Twits in 2006.

Making her Dukes Christmas show debut will be Natasha Davidson - shown below) who plays Belle and was seen in The Round as Fanny in Bolton Octagon’s production of Hindle Wakes earlier this year.

Gareth CassidyNatasha Davidson

Bye, Bye Beauty and the Beast

The Dukes production of Beauty and the Beast is proving a box office hit.

With just days to run, the show is one of the Lancaster theatre’s most popular Christmas productions in recent years.

Thousands of people have already enjoyed this classic fairytale adapted for The Dukes by Lancaster-based writer and father-of-two, Eddie Robson.

Eddie is more used to writing for television, radio and comics but has scored a stunning success with his first Christmas theatre show.

The production also features a talented cast including Polly Lister who recently won a UK Theatre Award for her performance in Abigail’s Party at Keswick’s Theatre By The Lake. In Beauty and the Beast, she plays one of Belle’s sisters, Felicity, and a statue.

The quirky group of wonderful characters which also includes a hatstand, clock and suit of armour, provide humorous support to Belle, played by Dukes newcomer, Natasha Davidson, and familiar Dukes face, Gareth Cassidy who appears as the Beast.

The show, which is performed in The Round, has been directed by Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion, whose very first theatre experience was seeing Beauty and the Beast at The Dukes 42 years ago.

The Dukes has a proud tradition of entertaining generations of families over the festive period and there’s just days left to enjoy this year’s offering which closes on January 2.

To book tickets for Beauty and the Beast, which is recommended for anyone aged 5 plus, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website

New Year, New Documentaries

In the new year The Dukes has a series of documentaries lined up for your enjoyment. Here's news of the first three . . . 


A behind the scenes documentary about Steve McQueen’s car racing drama Le Mans, launches the 2016 season of DukesDocs at the Lancaster cinema.

Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans(15) is screened on January 14, 2016 at The Dukes and tells the story of a project which the Hollywood star had been dreaming of for a decade.

At the time Le Mans went into production, McQueen was one of cinema’s biggest stars but as work on the film got underway, his dream project quickly turned into a nightmare.

sheepA slower pace of life is reflected in The Dukes second documentary of the month – Addicted To Sheep(PG) – on January 16, 2016.

Following a packed screening in October, this charming documentary covering a year in the lives of two tenant farmers in the North Pennines, returns for another showing.

nazi legacyJanuary’s final DukesDoc on the 27th January 2016 is My Nazi Legacy(PG) which follows three men travelling across Europe. Two of them have to confront the actions of their fathers who were both senior Nazi officers and the third visits the place where many of his Jewish family were destroyed by the fathers of the two men he has come to know.

Tickets for all DukesDocs, which are the best new documentary films from around the world, are priced £6.50/£5.50 concessions.

For more information and to book tickets, phone The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website

Please note that bookings via the website have a £1 transaction fee. 




Go Large This Christmas

Slightly Fat FeaturesVariety is back at The Dukes this Christmas, and it’s Slightly Fat.

Since they last brought festive fun to the Lancaster theatre in 2013, Slightly Fat Features have won the Prix Coup de Coeur at Just for Laughs Montreal, the world’s biggest comedy festival, and played a celebrated West End run.

The awardwinning comedy troupe will bring their mix of physical skill and orchestrated mayhem to The Dukes Christmas Cabaret on December 10 and 11.

This night of riotous entertainment featuring circus tricksters, original live music and magical moments is the perfect way to kick start the party season and once the cabaret is over, there’s a chance to dance the night away with Dukes house band, Quay Change.

The Christmas Cabaret is recommended for anyone aged 14 plus and tickets are priced £14/£12 concessions(a £1 per transaction fee applies to online bookings). For more information and to book, call The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website

Homeless Drama Group Have A Ball


A classic fairytale can be seen in a new light when performed by a group of homeless people at The Dukes this Christmas.

Cinderfella will be presented on December 9, 2015 by Alternative Outcomes, a theatre company formed in 2013 by a group who use Lancaster District Homeless Action Service.

The play is based on Cinderella but has been rewritten by Alternative Outcomes who meet weekly at The Dukes Centre for Creative Learning in Lancaster.

The company take traditional stories and re-tell them to better reflect their experiences of street homelessness.

Cinderfella is their third production following their successful tour of Ebenezer Dealer last Christmas and a one-off outdoor performance of Twisted during the summer in Williamson Park.

Ebenezer Dealer was recorded by Radio Lancashire and the broadcast on Christmas Eve has recently won a Gillard local radio award.

Cinderfella will be performed on The Dukes main stage by the group who also have responsibility for much of the behind the scenes work.

This new interpretation of an old story shines a light on modern day issues facing vulnerable people in society who are struggling with everyday tasks, jobs, jealousy and family problems.

Tickets for the performance at 7.30pm are £3. For more information and to book tickets, phone The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit The Dukes website

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