Lancaster and Morecambe entertainment review of the year in 2015

Vintage by the Sea Festival in Morecambe.'A Spitfire near the Midland Hotel.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'5-9-2015
Vintage by the Sea Festival in Morecambe.'A Spitfire near the Midland Hotel. PIC BY ROB LOCK'5-9-2015

Reporter Gemma Sherlock looks back at some of the big names and events to hit the district over the past year, from January to December.

JANUARY

Kendal Calling 2015

Kendal Calling 2015

Holly Johnstone, from BBC’s acrobatic show Tumble, visited Lancaster Grand Theatre with dance partner H, from Steps. Local girl Holly appeared in the finals with the singing sensation and showed off their moves in a night of experimental dance.

Heartbreak, sympathy and compassion created during World War One embodied a new song at the Dukes. The Muddy Choir took its audiences through the trenches of Ypres and on the battlefield.

FEBRUARY

Kiss fans were in for a Valentine’s Day treat when tribute act Krazy Knightss popped into the Bath Hotel. The Wigan tribute band had a rocking selection of mainly 70s and 80s KISS classics.

Heather Small

Heather Small

Milnthorpe teen Faye Bowness bagged the annual Furness charity star award when she sang Pie Jesu’. The farmer’s daughter became a recording star for the day when she won the Charity Stars final at the Lancaster Grand.

The misery of mobiles was highlighted in an interactive show at the Dukes Theatre. I Wish I Was Lonely committed the audience to leave their mobile phones turned on during the show. Poet Hannah Jane Walker and theatre maker Chris Thorpe investigated what it meant to participate in communication – or not.

Lancaster singing sensation Amy Jo Clough starred in Little Shop Of Horrors at the Lancaster Grand Theatre on February 25. It was the start of a fruitful year for Amy who gathered a string of star-studded events soon after, including Morecambe Carnival and touring with 80s star Rick Astley.

MARCH

Comedian John Bishop

Comedian John Bishop

A tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob of the 50s and 60s Billy Fury was shown at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. A touring show dedicated to keeping the star’s name alive stopped off at the theatre.

Scottish wildlife film maker Gordon Buchanan told of his remarkable escape from a polar bear which nearly killed him. The survivalist visited the Platform in Morecambe to tell his grizzly tale. Known for films such as Big Cat Diary and BBCs Springwatch, Gordon relived the incident which occurred when the film maker followed a wild polar bear family in Norway.

March also saw one of the biggest sell-outs at Lancaster’s Grand Theatre. Tickets for funny man John Bishop sold out within 20 minutes. It seemed the comic couldn’t stay away from the theatre where he filmed the ITV Christmas show ‘Panto’ in 2012

Claire Sweeney spoke about motherhood before a show at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. The Liverpool actress was about to go on tour when she discovered she was pregnant with her son Jaxon.

Pop star Rick Astley

Pop star Rick Astley

Children’s TV stars Sooty and Sweep and their TV partner Richard Cadell visited the city for their live show at the Platform.

APRIL

The smash film Hair Spray. was turned into a musical by Lancaster Amateur Operatic Dramatic Society at the Lancaster Grand Theatre.

Thousands were expected to line the promenade as the Morecambe Carnival line-up was announced. X Factor fans were in for a treat as ex contestants and stars including former boy band Stereo Kicks, Lancaster soul singer Paul Akister and former winner Shayne Ward were all announced to take to the Bay Live stage.

Morecambe got its own hall of fame for professional wrestling. The first inductee into the Morecambe Wrestling Hall of Fame was Doug Williams, former British Heavyweight Champion. .

MAY

Eighties icon Rick Astley spoke to reporter Greg Lambert ahead of his gig in Preston. The pop heart-throb spoke about his career, his wife and his career so far.

There was a special BBC date for young rising star Molly Warburton. The Carnforth singer bagged herself a BBC Bestival date as her glittering career took off. The young singer was certainly making an impact on the live music singer as she also appeared in a host of other festivals including Kendal Calling.

The annual Wray Village Scarecrow festival treated families and visitors to a fun and creative day out. The village hold’s the festival on the first bank holiday of May. Activities involved scarecrows, a 10k fun run, a car boot sale, crafts and food.

Irish country music star Nathan Carter made his mark with audiences when he appeared at the city’s theatre. .

Festival organiser Ivan Harrison celebrated his ten year anniversary with his annual festival in Morecambe. The week saw Ivan and his punk crew make a day out for the Nice N Sleazy festival by bringing some of the most popular punk artists in their history. The festival at the Trimpell Sports and Social Club welcomed punk musicians from all over the country.

May also saw the return of A Splendid Day Out. The eye catching steam punkers headed to the Platform for a celebration of fashion and culture.

Andy Parson’s fifth show ‘Live and Unleashed- But Naturally Cautious’ saw the star of BBC2’s ‘Mock The Week’ and ‘Live at the Apollo’ deliver his trademark sharp comedy. .

JUNE

Bare village geared up for their annual Barefest festival to celebrate all things good about Bare. The community established event included the annual Mayor making ceremony which elected Derek Robinson, the village florist as Mayor.

Reporter Nick Lakin reviewed the king of pop Sir Elton John when he played at the Westmorland County Showground. ”

Kites of all shapes and sizes filled the sky on Morecambe promenade as More Music hosted its summer extravaganza. Professional kite flyers got the chance to show off their skills and designs as the array of colour dazzled visitors across the resort.

Minecraft became the new craze for Lancaster pupils as Our Lady’s Catholic College got the chance to take part in a ground-breaking project. The popular building game was the format used to help design Lancaster University in the gaming world.

Plenty of Twists and Turns were expected to arrive at Williamson Park in Lancaster. The Dukes outdoor production of Oliver Twist was the biggest outdoor theatre production in the UK. The summer event entertained thousands.

JULY

Witty Edingburgh Fringe Award winner Gyles Brandreth performed at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. Known for his public speaking, Gyles spoke out on his career whilst performing stand up comedy.

Morecambe singer Ashleigh Wood released her latest video celebrating all that is great about the resort. Branded the new face of Morecambe, Ashleigh released a cover of the Bring Me Sunshine song made famous by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Iconic images were featured in the video including the Eric Morecambe statue and the Eric Morecambe statue impersonator Paul Frith.

Basil Brush was promoting his new tour which boomed across the country including the Platform, in Morecambe. The fictional anthropomorphic fox is best known for his appearances on daytime British children’s television.

Hundreds of jazz fans basked in the glorious sunshine to enjoy Morecambe Jazz festival. The shows in Morecambe and Lancaster entertained jazz fans from all over the world. Performers included the Billionaire Trio.

A new festival, as a mini WOMAD, took place on Morecambe’s promenade as part of the first ever Seaside Fiesta. More than 200 drummers from all over the world lined the promenade in a spectacular ensemble as part of the Batala Encantro.

AUGUST

Dancers put their best foot forward as part of the Annual Summer Festival of Dance. Dancers from 16 schools across the district performed at Heysham High School to show off their skills.

An unsung hero of a popular radio show spoke of his pride as his creation celebrated its 32nd anniversary. The Northern family the Bradshaws captured the nation’s hearts in the 80s and 90s and Buzz Hawkins brought the family to life on stage. Bradshaws in Goosed arrived at the Lancaster Grand Theatre and welcomed a packed out audience.

SEPTEMBER

More than 40,000 people visited Morecambe promenade as the annual Vintage By The Sea Festival arrived with a bang. Wayne Hemmingway’s festival celebrated all things vintage from classic cars, unique fashion and family fun events. The sunshine helped during one of the town’s busiest weekends as many enjoyed all that was on offer, including vintage plane fly-overs, fashion stalls, a pooch parade, competitions and delicious food.

Barber Ryan Wallance, manager of the Temperance Club in Morecambe, had the tables turned on him when Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett turned up to give him a shave. Todd, played by John Beamer, and Lovett, played by Emily Prescott, popped into the barbers on Marine Road ahead of the Morecambe Warblers production of Sweeney Todd the musical.

OCTOBER

Funny man Patrick Kielty made his Dukes debut and needed help from residents. The popular Irish comedian returned to he stage with his show called Help, entertaining audiences with his views on love, life and happiness.

Locals with memory loss and their families were offered help by Lancaster theatre, The Dukes as their project launched. A Life More Ordinary (ALMO) gives people living with dementia more choice, control and greater access to leisure and cultural opportunities at The Dukes and potentially 15 other venues nationally to benefit around 5,000 people.

Fright night came to the cells as the popular A-Wing event arrived at Lancaster Castle. Lancaster boys Bondax headlined over the Halloween weekend which saw the former prison cells turned into a dance floor.

NOVEMBER

Bonfire night dazzled the city and resort as visitors enjoyed the annual fireworks display launched from Lancaster Castle. Many community organisations also held firework displays lighting up the sky across the district.

Lancaster Red Rose Amateur Operatic Drama Society revealed their Christmas production with Scrooge The Musical at the Winter Gardens. Based upon Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol, the show tells the story in which the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night, after being visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

DECEMBER

The Dukes Christmas production of Beauty and the Beast proved a hit with audiences as the magical adaptation was performed in The Round. Dukes newcomer Eddie Robson focused on the 220-year-old original by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in his re-telling of the story.

Morecambe’s West End glowed as the annual lantern parade festival hit the streets. Organised by More Music the night was filled with music from school choirs and a unique array of lantern displays.

Chart-topping singer, Heather Small spoke to reporter Gemma Sherlock ahead of her visit to the city next year.

Heather achieved a number of hits with M People, including Search for the Hero, Moving On Up and One Night in Heaven. She offered her support to flood victims and spoke of her excitement to perform at the Lancaster Grand Theatre in February.