Play Hard

What’s on in April across the North East

From dancing with Dua Lipa to singing along to Sam Fender, giggling with the GC to risking bellyache with some sickly-sweet ballet, plus two brand new additions to the North East’s festival scene – April is the month to get out and about.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 01.04.2022



Sam Fender

6pm, Tuesday 5th – Wednesday 6th April

Utilita Arena, Newcastle

He’s gone from local lad to local hero in record time, thanks to his ‘music that punches the air and the gut’ (The Guardian), Sam Fender is gearing up for two extra-special homecoming shows at Utilita Arena, Newcastle this April.

His return to the live arena has been explosive, seeing Sam and his band play to hundreds of thousands of fans all across the UK.

Goat Girl will support Sam Fender at this not-to-be-missed gig.


Martin Kemp ‘Back To The 80s’ DJ Set

8pm, Saturday 16th April

Bishop Auckland Town Hall 

The hottest ’80s club night is coming to Bishop Auckland, as actor, TV personality and star of Spandau Ballet, Martin Kemp, will be spinning the biggest and bests hits of the decade.




Dua Lipa

6pm, Saturday 23rd April

Utilita Arena, Newcastle

Smash hitmaker and global superstar Dua Lipa touches down in the North East for this special show at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, ready and willing to Blow Your Mind.

Responsible for some of the hottest hits of recent years, Dua Lipa will be bringing the showmanship than only top, top artists can deliver as you fall in Love Again with the Electricity and Physical magic of a live show that is well and truly Hotter Than Hell.

You’ll feel like you’re Levitating after this one.




The Da Vinci Code

7.30pm, Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th April

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered – and alongside his body are a series of baffling codes.

Follow the pulse-racing journey as Professor Robert Langdon and fellow cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to solve the riddles – leading to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and beyond – in this world premiere stage adaptation of the best-selling novel of the century.


The Cher Show

7.30pm, Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th April

Sunderland Empire

Six decades of stardom, over a hundred million records sold and 35 smash hit singles. Legend, icon, queen. She is Cher and this is her show.

Music icon turned Hollywood royalty, the Grammy®, Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning Queen of re-invention has conquered it all. It’s now time to turn back time with this fiercely fabulous kick-ass new musical, from the writer of Jersey Boys.




An Evening Without Kate Bush

7.30pm, Wednesday 27th April

Alnwick Playhouse

The chaotic cabaret cult phenomenon, An Evening Without Kate Bush, has made its way to the North East.

Acclaimed performer Sarah-Louise Young has teamed up with theatre-maker Russell Lucas to explore the music and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music.

Enter Strange Phenomena, howl along with the The Hounds Of Love and dance on the moors with Wuthering Heights. After all, Kate’s not there – but you are.




Fertile Ground: Myths and Dreams

7.30pm, Friday 6th May

Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle  

Ok, so we’re know we’re looking ahead a little further than a month for this one, but we really didn’t want you to miss it.

Fertile Ground returns to Gosforth Civic Theatre with Myths & Dreams, an ambitious and innovative programme created by four choreographers. The new season combines dance, film and digital sculpture in an imaginative evening performed by the cast of the North East’s top emerging professional dancers.


Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!

7.30pm, Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th April

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The sweetest of all Matthew Bourne’s treats comes to Newcastle for one week only!

Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Anthony Ward’s delectable sets and costumes combine with Bourne’s dazzling choreography to create a fresh and charmingly irreverent interpretation of the classic.  Expect a sprinkling of delicious new surprises in this reinvented production for 2021.




Giovanni Pernice: This Is Me

7.30pm, Sunday 10th April

Darlington Hippodrome

Strictly Come Dancing favourite Giovanni Pernice returns to the live stage with his new, highly anticipated hit show, This Is Me.

With the Italian’s natural charm, combined with beautiful choreography perfectly complemented by a fabulous soundtrack, This Is Me pays homage to the music and dances that have inspired Giovanni’s career – from a competition dancer to one of the biggest names on the hit BBC show.




Citizens Of Our Time

Saturday 23rd April – Sunday 26th June.

Side Gallery, Newcastle

As the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill reaches its final stages in parliament, ‘Kill the Bill’ protestors continue to take to the streets, condemning it as an attack on our civil liberties.

Side Gallery explores the motivations and methods of individuals and communities who have been compelled to campaign and protest through the work of Gary Calton, Izabela Jedrzejczyk and Amber Films.


The Female Gaze: Revisited by Alice Hawkins

Until Saturday 23rd April

Hartlepool Art Gallery

Don’t miss your last chance to catch this extraordinary panoramic portrait of women around the world from renowned artist-photographer Alice Hawkins this month.

Examining the changing perceptions of femininity, fashion and gender over the past two decades, Hawkins captures women who ‘the everyday burlesque’ – the theatrical, the outrageous or the larger-than-life, including portraits of female musicians Beth Ditto, and Hawkins’s long-term collaborator Paloma Faith, seen in an entirely unexpected guise.




Daughters of the Soil – Joanne Coates

Until Sunday 5th June

The Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick

Women make up 15% of the farming industry in the UK, but their contribution is often overlooked and, despite playing a central role in agriculture throughout history, documentation of female farmworkers is slim – something documentary photographer (and friend of HLN) Joanne Coates is trying to combat in this innovative new exhibition exploring the role of women in agriculture in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.




Gemma Collins

6.30pm, Friday 8th April

O2 City Hall, Newcastle

It’s the GC, babes. And she’s bringing her Big Night Out to Newcastle’s City Hall.

Known for her diva-like behaviour, being all about drama and never afraid to speak her mind, Collins is guaranteed to have you belly-laughing in your seats as she recalls the trials and tribulations of being a fabulous Essex girl and reality TV star. 


Iain Stirling

8pm, Thursday 7th April

Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

Do you ever wonder how people manage to be normal? Love Island legend Iain Stirling does. So much so, he’s written a brand new stand-up show about it. Join the cheeky comic as he explores his inability to function in the most basic of public settings, social media’s constant pressure to ‘live your best life’ and that one time a man stole his shoes. 




Hilarity Bites The Hipp

7.30pm, Friday 8th April

Darlington Hippodrome

Hilarity Bites The Hipp is always a good laugh, but we’re even more excited than usual for this instalment as it sees a line up compromising four top female comics.

Live at the Apollo Laura Lexx leads this night of top-class humour, joined on stage by the delightfully funny Lucy Porter, Hal Cruttenden (Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week), Mock the Weekstar Ria Lina and Doctor Who actress and renowned circuit stand-up Bethany Black. Our comic cups runneth over.




Morpeth Book Festival

11am, Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th April

Pleased To Meet You, Morpeth

The first-ever Morpeth Book Festival is set to showcase more than 30 authors and poets from the North East, over two days of accessible live readings, family events and workshops.

Vera author Ann Cleeves and Hollywood scriptwriter, novelist and TV producer Chuck Hogan are set to take centre stage, while local literary legends such as Mari Hannah, Robert Scragg and friend of HLN, Helen Bridgett, will also be in attendance.

Don’t miss it!


Stockton Calling

1.30pm, Thursday 16th April

Music venues across Stockton

Stockton Calling is a day-long music festival taking over 11 of Stockton’s music venues and clubs in a day where over 80 bands will perform.

This year, local legends Komparrison, Amelia Coburn and BigFatBig will be sharing stages with some of the music industry’s bigger names, including Self Esteem, The Pigeon Detectives and Reytons.





11am, Saturday 30th April – 1st May

Bishop Auckland Town Hall

BACCANALIA is Bishop Auckland’s inaugural entertainment festival with something for everyone.

This brand new celebration of all things performance, with events for the little ones, bigger ones, grown up and mature ones! Bring your friends and family and join this frivolous festivity of arts, culture and social revelry.

Featuring: theatre, cabaret, comedy, music, party events, family shows, kids entertainment and creative workshops.

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