Communities make a musical

Katie Doherty, who came up with the idea of Beyond The End Of The Road and has written music and lyrics.
Katie Doherty, who came up with the idea of Beyond The End Of The Road and has written music and lyrics.

The sound of music will be ringing out of village halls across Northumberland in a unique show created by the communities it will entertain.

Beyond The End Of The Road is a new musical about the county, with each performance in ten different venues made slightly different to reflect local stories.

Set in the imaginary village of Place, where residents’ loves, losses and deepest secrets are revealed, the show is the brainchild of musician Katie Doherty, who moved from the city to a hill farm in Blanchland and has penned the music and lyrics.

But further inspiration has come from the stories and characters of each of the villages it is visiting.

Award-winning performing arts company the November Club, based in Morpeth, has travelled the county in the run-up to the production to hold story gathering sessions and drama workshops with residents.

Families have also taken part in ‘make and do’ days to create bunting to decorate the venues, and WI groups in each of the communities are baking cakes to share in the interval, from Thropton’s famous Tattie Cake to a border tart from Kirknewton.

There will be guest appearances from local talent, from playing small parts to performing in the community choir and joining the end-of-show ceilidh, compered by internationally acclaimed English concertina player and Northumbrian piper Alistair Anderson.

Director Cinzia Hardy, of November Club, said: “This is the only musical to be made based on rural life in Northumberland and it’s something to be celebrated.

“We have been able to build on our unique approach to working with local communities, reaching new places and people across Northumberland.

“The content will be shaped by each village and it will be a real discovery of the county.”

The musical, written by Laura Lindow, is produced by November Club in collaboration with Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.

The tour begins at Hexham Auction Mart tomorrow (Friday), at 7.30pm. Further dates are: Thropton War Memorial Hall, June 9; Felton Memorial Hall, June 11; Kirknewton Village Hall, June 16; Norham Village Hall, June 18; Shilbottle Village Hall, June 23; Bardon Mill Village Hall, June 25; Sage Gateshead, June 27; Whalton Village Hall, June 30; Crossman Village Hall, Holy Island, July 1.

Tickets cost £3 to £24. See www.highlightsnorth.co.uk or the venues for details.