Don’t call me a goth...

Echo: Man in black – Andrew O’Neill says he has been a show-off since birth

9:00am Saturday 19th April 2014

HE might dress in black, listen to heavy metal and is interested in the occult. But don’t call Andrew O’Neill a goth.

Pirate Gran leaps from page to stage for fun

Echo: Where is she? The stage version of the adventures of Pirate Gran, charted in the books written by Geraldine

7:00am Friday 18th April 2014

HAVE an Easter holiday treat with gran – Pirate Gran! For all those who haven’t read Geraldine Durrant’s popular books, Pirate Gran does all the things a normal grandmother does, except she’s also a pirate with a crocodile under her bed and a raft of seagoing adventures to talk about.

Have a Jolly time at the Comedy Club

Echo: Double act – brothers Ed and Tommy Croft are set for the Comedy Club

9:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

ENJOY the Jolly Boat show at the latest Comedy Club at Colchester’s Charter Hall.

Curious way of watching live shows

Echo: Luke Treadway – plays Christopher Boone in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

7:00am Wednesday 16th April 2014

ESSEX audiences will have no need to pack hard hats at a special live cinema screening of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time A production of the hit play made headlines around the world in February when the ornate ceiling of London’s Apollo theatre collapsed on to playgoers. But the incident has not quenched the appetite for the play from audiences, who have flocked back since the theatre was reopened.

Jane Austen inspires improv comedy show

Echo: 'Austentatious' – in the style of Jane Austen

9:04am Tuesday 15th April 2014

IT is a universally acknowledged truth that making fun of Jane Austen can be very humorous indeed.

Leigh am-dram society show picks up top award

Echo: New showcase – Leigh Operatic and Dramatic Society’s, left to right, Sarah Kelleway, Lesley Broadway, Helen Sharpe (front), Natalie Macmillan, Zoe Berry, Michael Felgate, Ashley Laker, Matt Ford (front) and Peter Brown

8:00am Friday 11th April 2014

A CHRISTMAS Carol, the hi-tech 2013 production of the Dickens classic by Leigh Operatic and Dramatic Society, has received a top local honour.

All set for a weekend of classical music

Echo: All set for a weekend of classical music

1:15pm Friday 28th March 2014

SOUTHEND Choral Society will perform Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabeus” tomorrow night at 7.30pm at Crowstone United Reformed Church, Westcliff. Although not as well-known as “Messiah”, during Handel's lifetime Judas Maccabaeus was one of the most popular of all his oratorios. Following its hugely successful first performance at London's Covent Garden theatre in 1747, the work was subsequently revived during Handel's oratorio seasons every year until his death in 1759. The 100-strong choir will be joined by four professional London-based soloists, accompanied by Stephen King on the organ and conducted by Roger Humphrey. The Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs will also be performing in this work, singing the well-known chorus of the youths “See the conquering heros come”. In the same church on Sunday afternoon, the Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs will present “Listen with Mother”: a concert for Mothers’ Day, when they will join with young players from South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra. In a programme of music by Strauss, Faure, Tchaikovsky, Delibes, Schubert and much more, the 120+ young musicians will join together to serenade all mothers (and grandmothers) in the audience. The groups will join together to perform the Evening Prayer from the 19th century composer Engelbert Humperdink’s opera “Hansel and Gretel” and Haydn’s playful Toy Symphony” will also be performed. This concert starts at 3.30pm and tea and cakes are served to all mothers and their families after the concert. On Saturday evening, 7.30 at Trinity Methodist Church, Clayhill Road, Vange, The Dove Singers will be performing a programme of varied music ranging from Handel to Rodgers & Hammerstein, conducted by their new musical director Kara Florish. Looking ahead to the next weekend, don’t miss the chance to hear The Southend Bach Choir will be performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonnelle at St Augustine’s Church, Thorpe Bay on Saturday 5th April. Finally on Saturday night, at Westcliff High School for Boys at 7.30pm, the Southend Youth Orchestra, which was formed just 18 months ago, will be performing Mozart's Magic Flute Overture, Schubert's Symphony no. 8, a Vivaldi concerto and works by Vaughan Williams and Mathias.

Martyrs’ tale with puppetry and song

Echo: Drama – Neil Gore and Elizabeth Eves in We Will Be Free

7:00am Friday 28th March 2014

A NEW play about the Tolpuddle Martyrs is set to premiere at Colchester Arts Centre.

Pratchett magic at Towngate

Echo: Pratchett magic at Towngate

12:00am Friday 28th March 2014

GOING Postal is the latest story by the much-loved Sir Terry Pratchett to be staged by Thalians – the Basildon drama group. Mike Betteridge, chairman and founder-member of Thalians, says: “Our regular Pratchett  productions are always a big  attraction for local audiences, who really warm to Sir Terry’s humour, storytelling skills, amazing characters and wonderful imagination.” Going Postal has proved one of  Pratchett’s most successful tales, both as a book and as a well-received 2010 TV production. The story revolves around the central character of Moist von Lipwig;  a con artist,  natural-born criminal, fraudster and habitual liar. So, who better to be appointed Postmaster of Ankh Morpork’s ailing Post Office? With the help of a clay “golem” monster,  who has spent the last 200 years at the bottom of a deep pit, and also aided by the fascinating, if unattainable Adora Belle Dearheart, head of the Golem Trust, Lipwig has to ensure the mail gets through. Other members of the team supporting him are the 100-year-old Junior Postman Groat and his pin-obsessed assistant Stanley. Unfortunately, success means taking on the gargantuan, money hungry Grand Trunk Clacks Communication Company and its bloodthirsty piratical head, Reacher Gilt. “Still,” says Mike, “If the bold and impossible are the order of the day,  then Moist von Lipwig will do it – in order to move the mail, get the girl and, hopefully, continue breathing.” Mike adds: “Every Pratchett play creates a technical challenge. This time it has been the need to create the character of the Golem, who is made of pottery. “Our resident whiz on inventive solutions, Ian Stewart, is constructing a whole head mask from latex and a body designed to look like pottery.”

Seize the chance to audition for the Wall

Echo: Resounding success – the performance of Quadrophenia at the Mercury last year

6:00am Wednesday 26th March 2014

AUDITIONS are being held across north Essex for this year’s Mercury Theatre Young Company.

Bard group in another venture on wilde side

Echo: Classic – Jeremy Battersby, Louise Calton (left)  and Amanda Whiteford in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband

12:00am Wednesday 26th March 2014

SOUTHEND Shakespeare Company is giving the Bard a brief holiday. Their next production returns instead to another giant of the theatre, Oscar Wilde.

REVIEW: Black Coffee - Powell as Poirot was just spot on

Echo: Talented - Robert Powell, centre, as Hercule Poirot

10:00am Thursday 20th March 2014

ROBERT Powell’s a brave actor. On accepting the role in Black Coffee, he had to play Agatha’s Christie’s much-loved Belgian sleuth, portrayed on TV so memorably by David Suchet.

"I was called a heartthrob, but you can't take that stuff too seriously" Robert Powell speaks ahead of appearing at Westcliff's Palace Theatre

Echo: Robert Powell in Black Coffee

6:01pm Friday 14th March 2014

ROBERT Powell may possess the most stunning blue eyes in the world.

Quentin’s the name, partying’s the game at the arts centre

Echo: Nothing Up Our Sleeves – Dean Allen Jones and Alice DLumiere with juggler Matt Ball at the Tea and Sympathy Night Circus evening

8:00am Friday 14th March 2014

BURLESQUE, magic and live music will all feature in a special night at Colchester Arts Centre.

Brenda brings splash of colour to Octagon

Echo: Abstract landscapes – Brenda Jones with one of her paintings

10:00am Wednesday 12th March 2014

ARTIST Brenda Jones is used to having her work displayed in offices.

Essex-loving Strictly star is going to have a ball in Basildon

Echo: Dance duo - Pasha Kovalev with fellow Strictly dancer Katya Virshilas

8:00am Saturday 8th March 2014

FROM Siberia to Basildon, and countless glamorous destinations inbetween, Strictly Come Dancing’s Pasha Kovalev has inspired audiences all over the world with his red-hot Russian dancing talent.

REVIEW: CLASSIC GHOSTS Technical hitch spooked Palace Theatre fright night

Echo: Jack Shepherd – handled stage problems admirably

10:00am Thursday 6th March 2014

LET me start by saying I wish I was writing this three nights into the run – but I’m not.

Literary bloggers’ date for a wordy adventure

Echo: It’s only words – Kate Neilan and Rob Chilver

9:00am Sunday 2nd March 2014

THERE’S an adventure in words taking place next week, thanks to Colchester literary bloggers Kate Neilan and Rob Chilver.

I wore knickers for a joke...they revealed more than I expected!

Echo: A great set of pipes – ‘the Singing Plumber’ James Edwards

7:00am Friday 28th February 2014

Opera star James Edwards, 40, plays the male lead role of Ridolfo in La Boheme at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Born in Rochford and raised in Southend, the tenor now lives with his wife and family in Corsham, Wiltshire.

The joker from the jungle - Rob Beckett on treating Ant and Dec like dustmen and his show in Colchester

Echo: Rob Beckett

12:00am Thursday 27th February 2014

THE cheeky-faced, toothy comedian Rob Beckett – best known for presenting the spin-off show to I’m a Celebrity – seems partly surprised, partly humbled by his success.

Roles for all on the Road

Echo: A cast of dozens – three actors play out a scene from Jim Cartwright’s Road

10:00am Tuesday 25th February 2014

ONE of the top plays of the 20th century will be the latest production by Essex University’s Theatre Arts Society this week,

Discuss: When is a painting finished?

Echo: You be the judge -  Steve Dowson's exhibition of portaits asks at what stage a painting can be said to be finished

10:00am Tuesday 25th February 2014

AN exhibition of portraits which questions at what stage a painting should be considered “finished” is on at the Miss Annabel Dee gallery, in Leigh, on Saturday.

Comic master in town - with his take on death

Echo: New show – comedian Richard Herring

8:00am Friday 21st February 2014

HE’S almost an annual visitor to the Colchester Arts Centre and comedian Richard Herring is back this weekend with his latest show, We’re All Going To Die.

Denise's show of strength for the broken hearted

Echo: Denise Van Outen

3:08pm Wednesday 19th February 2014

DENISE Van Outen wanted to write a musical which would connect with all the women out there who have had their hearts broken.

"This show isn’t about performing dwarfs...you will forget the actors are short" Warwick Davis appearing in See How They Run in Westcliff

Echo: "This show isn’t about performing dwarfs...you will forget the actors are short" Warwick Davis appearing in See How They Run in Westcliff

3:00pm Friday 14th February 2014

BRITAIN’S biggest small celebrity is coming to Westcliff in a production which even its executive producer admits is pretty bizarre.

Why I'm on solo mission: Chris Davison talks to Kelly Buckley

Echo: Acoustic album – Chris Davison has released his first solo album, Antidote to Rock and Roll

10:30am Friday 14th February 2014

IF you’re on the local music circuit, you would have most likely seen Chris Davison perform as double bass player in folk-punk festival favourites Deferred Sucess and singer/guitarist in Silvertruth.

My pal Eddie Izzard is helping me live comedy dream here

Echo: My pal Eddie Izzard is  helping me live comedy dream here

6:00am Monday 16th December 2013

EVEN superstar stand-ups like Eddie Izzard need help getting gigs sometimes.

I was on stage in Grease once, with no boxers on!

Echo: I was on stage in Grease once, with no boxers on!

1:02pm Friday 13th December 2013

SIMON FIELDING, 40, is both star and director of Rapunzel, this year’s panto at the Towngate theatre, Basildon.

Jeff Brazier is flying high as Peter Pan, but his biggest role is being dad to his kids

Echo: Star of the show – Jeff plays the title role in Peter Pan

8:00am Thursday 5th December 2013

JEFF Brazier’s biggest critics when he performs on stage as Peter Pan will be his two children.

Panto will be a big surprise...to actors!

Echo: On the spot – Wendy Morgan, Ali James and Ali Graves

10:00am Wednesday 4th December 2013

IF you thought you were a bit too old for pantomime, BANGyellow could throw a whole new light on things.

Chat with audience inspired my new comedy routine

Echo: Stand-up - Jo Caulfield

9:40am Wednesday 4th December 2013

STAND-UPS find their inspiration in truly bizarre places. Take Jo Caulfield’s latest show, Better the Devil You Know, which came about after a conversation with a member of her audience.

I’d love to wear that cool suit and play Doctor Who

Echo: I’d love to wear that cool suit and play Doctor Who

1:36pm Wednesday 27th November 2013

Peter Brown, 36, lives in Southend. He is a member of Leigh Operatic Society and is starring in A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff, from today until Saturday.

Shakespeare in Southend

Echo: Election boost inspired by the Bard

1:29pm Wednesday 27th November 2013

FOLLOW Shakespeare’s classic tale of two pairs of lovers when East 15’s Acting and Stage Combat present a Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Clifftown Theatre, in Southend.

Society has taken a fresh look at a Christmas classic

Echo: Society has taken a fresh look at a Christmas classic

10:27am Monday 25th November 2013

NUMEROUS stage versions exist of A Christmas Carol, but any musical version with a score by the great Alan Menken has to be something special.

A Christmas cabaret

Echo: Eynsham Pre-School Christmas Craft Fair

6:00am Friday 22nd November 2013

A CHRISTMAS Cabaret and Dance will be held at the Feering Community Centre, Coggeshall Road, on November 30.

I’m finding the bullfighting scene a real challenge... I play the matador and the bull!

Echo: I’m finding the bullfighting scene a real challenge... I play the matador and the bull!

7:00am Thursday 21st November 2013

THAT’S the thing about one man shows – you get to play all the parts, however tricky they may be.

Classroom comedy is a real family affair, but daughter calls the shots

Echo: Classroom comedy is a real family affair, but daughter calls the shots

6:00am Monday 18th November 2013

IT’S a real family affair for the latest show by Brightlingsea’s Seaview Players.

Bob Mills' road to stand-up success

Echo: Bob Mills' road to stand-up success

8:00am Friday 15th November 2013

ANY self-respecting young comic would want to give stalwart stand-up Bob Mills a lift home – if only to hear his stories.

I’m looking forward to my next role...it’s been a while since I wore a spangly frock

Echo: I’m looking forward to my next role...it’s been a while since I wore a spangly frock

11:01am Thursday 14th November 2013

LES CANNON, 48, from Westcliff, plays Nathan Detroit in Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of Guys and Dolls.

Voice star to front campaign group’s show

Echo: Leanne Jarvis

10:00am Tuesday 12th November 2013

ONLY Cowards Carry, the anti-knife crime charity campaign group, is putting on a show at the Princes Theatre to mark the first anniversary of the organisation being set up.

There was a real buzz about our open-air performance... we disturbed a wasps’ nest

Echo: Andrew Sugden

9:00am Monday 11th November 2013

ANDREW SUGDEN, 49, from Leigh, plays the title role of Antony in Southend Shakespeare Company’s production of Antony and Cleopatra, part of the Romans season starting on November 19.

Catch Countryfile star Adam’s Princes talk

Echo: Catch Countryfile star Adam’s Princes talk

8:00am Friday 8th November 2013

FARMER and television presenter Adam Henson is the next guest speaker at the Clacton Arts and Lits Society.

Ex-Voice star will add fun to burlesque

Echo: AN EVENING OF BURLESQUE - Theatre Review

1:41pm Thursday 7th November 2013

SAM Buttery – a finalist from the original series of BBC1 TV’s the Voice – will be joining the cast of An Evening of Burlesque at Basildon’s Towngate Theatre tomorrow night as its special guest.

Play within a play proves a challenge for actors

Echo: Listen to what's in Tuesday's Echo

4:00am Thursday 7th November 2013

COMEDY specialists East Essex Players’ latest production, Stopped Interrupting, by Nick Broadhead, gives the cast an unrivalled chance to practise their accents.

Hurry to see Milton

Echo: MILTON Jones.

7:40pm Wednesday 6th November 2013

IF you fancy your funny bone tickled, get along to the Cliffs Pavilion to see Milton Jones put on his comedy show On the Road on Thursday.

A mysterious end to theatre group’s year with first stab at Agatha Christie

Echo: Mike Poole

1:37pm Wednesday 6th November 2013

WHAT better way to round off the Colchester Theatre Group’s year than with a play they have never d o n e before?

Renowned artist at festival

Echo: Listen to what's in Tuesday's Echo

1:18pm Wednesday 6th November 2013

AN artist who is fast becoming a bit of a star in the arts world is going to be opening the Shorelines Festival in Leigh on Friday.

Towngate night of comedy

Echo: Comic - Markus Birdman

9:00am Tuesday 5th November 2013

A GROUP of well-known funnymen bring the renowned nationwide comedy club Jongleurs to Basildon this month.

Mods to shake the Cliffs

Echo: Mods to shake the Cliffs

11:00am Friday 1st November 2013

NOT many amateur drama groups get to perform at the 1,600-seat Cliffs Pavilion, but Mods are no ordinary band of thespians.

See our Oliver! for musical joy ...and charity

Echo: GP practice moves to temporary home

3:21pm Thursday 31st October 2013

MORE? Yes! More!A production of the hit West End musical Oliver! is running from today until Saturday – all in aid of charity.






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