Christmas in Newcastle Under Lyme is no longer punctuated by the opening of chocolate advent calendar, instead the festive season is marked by the biannual return of Uncle Eric and his band of 60s merry men and women for a fortnight long run at the New Vic Theatre once again.
For those not familiar with the premise of “Uncle Eric”, David Graham, the brains behind the operation, transports his audience back in time to the swinging 60’s for two hours of era appropiraite music complete with live band and a Carry on Film worthy script full of cultural references that only true Stokies will get.
Uncle Eric has developed somewhat of a cult following within the city with many of the audience attendees having seen at least one of the shows before – I’ve seen three shows previously and the lady behind me somehow managed to deliver all of the shows BADUMTSH one liners despite it being opening night.
This Christmas you’re coridally invited to Uncle Eric’s Christmas Party down at The Place Nightclub which (if you’re old enough to remember) was an iconic venue in the Potteries which opened in 1963 and once hosted the likes of David Bowie and Led Zeppelin. Sadly the venue was recently demolished so its only apt that the infamous club is honoured in a local treasure of a show.
Eric, devestated over his beloved Madge walking out on him following a series of indiscretions, is overjoyed when he receives an invite to DJ for the biggest Christmas party in the area which is set to boast celebrity appearances such as George Harrison, Sandie Shaw and Elvis Presley with an aim to put the venue on the musical map with the British media!
Unfortunately, the manager of The Place isn’t too handy with her Yellow Pages (and this is a time before better known search engines) so will the night be a star studded success or will it fall flat on its face as with many of Eric’s escapades.
The play is punctuated throughout with more than 20 of the much loved songs of the 60’s, 12 of which are new additions to the show (as there are the long loved favourites) which captures the yesteryears to a T.
It’s impossible not to be swept along with the infectious humour and good cheer that this show brings and the testament is in the faithfulness of the audience who dust off their tinsel and Christmas jumpers to catch up with Eric and co year after year. The uniqueness of Uncle Eric shows is the quality of the music and the outstanding talent of the cast who slip so easily from their roles as various characters in the play to delivering up-on-your-feet applause worthy musical performances.
If you don’t find yourself up on you feet by the end of this show, I question your festive spirit. If 76 year old Geraldine from Meir Heath can manage it, then so can you!
Uncle Eric’s Christmas Party runs at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme until Saturday 12th December and you can buy tickets for the show online or at the box office.