A PROGRAMME of shows to help audiences across Northumberland step into Spring have been announced by the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.

The scheme, which enables remote communities to experience the arts, offers the opportunity to enjoy drama, comedy and puppetry in a space close to home.

Highlights works with more than 70 venues across the North-East and Cumbria, while being part of a national network of over 30 rural touring schemes in England and Wales, under the umbrella of the National Rural Touring Forum.

The Spring line-up promises a varied programme, with performances differing in length and genre. And audiences are being promised compelling storytelling, music and theatre. Spectators can take advantage of much-loved classics or experience new and exciting work.

A broad mix of shows ensures that the whole family will be entertained throughout February, March, April and May.

Six distinct shows have been hand-picked for the Tynedale area, by village promoters.

The season kick-starts with an evening of ‘Swinging the Classics’, brought together by Dutch violist, Tim Kliphuis, and his trio, at Tarset Village Hall, on February 14 at 7.30pm.

Music lovers will appreciate a high energy performance, which takes inspiration from gypsy and classical Jazz.

In what promises to be a show like no other, Box of Tricks Theatre Company will debut ‘The Last Quiz Night on Earth’ at Bardon Mill Village Hall on February 21.

Kicking off at 7.30pm, landlady Kathy and quizmaster Rav invite teams to tackle a series of questions, though not all is as it seems – or as simple – as a host of unexpected guests arrive.

The show promises to grip viewers, until the very end.

Not content with just providing a great performance, Box of Tricks Theatre Company will provide a complimentary pie and peas supper, offering attendees the chance to really make an evening of it.

English duo The Hut People, made up of Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond, will transport listeners at Allendale Village Hall across the globe on the evening of February 23.

The pair will mix folk music and other worldly rhythms, beginning at 7.30pm. Audience participation is strongly encouraged and toe-tapping guaranteed as listeners experience this rich musical adventure with percussion aplenty.

Allendale Village Hall and Wark Town Hall will both play host to Slanjayvah Danza’s interpretation of ‘6 feet, 3 shoes’. The tale of cross border friendship will be performed at Allendale on April 2 and later at Wark on April 5.

The all-female cast will use contemporary Scottish dance and flamenco to provide an unforgettable spectacle from 7.30pm.

Allendale audiences are invited to join a ceilidh to round off the evening, whilst Wark watchers can enjoy a quiz in the interim.

Award-winning Box Tale Soup will tour with Highlights again, bringing to life a stunning new adaptation of Grimm’s Most Magical Stories in the form of ‘Little Grimm Tales’.

Children under three will forget their Bardon Mill surroundings during the performance on April 5 at 2pm, as they are transported into a world of adventure with fairies, frogs and beasts.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Liz Cotton will round of the local entertainment on April 26 with ‘100% Cotton’.

The hour-long performance, beginning at 7.30pm, promises honest, naughty and rich ballads revealing the star’s most intimate secrets.

The songs, packed with love, fun and a hint of rudeness, should make for the perfect evening at Wark Town Hall.

The Highlights team also have plenty to offer for those willing to travel, with shows across Cumbria and County Durham.

‘Ladies that Bus’ from Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster, and the Brewery in Kendal, will arrive at Edmundbyers Village Hall on March 6 at 7.15pm.

Peppered with light-hearted humour and touching titbits, the performance documents the comings and goings of the 55 bus route.

Concluding proceedings, Tyneside’s leading jazz vocalist, Zoe Gilby, will perform an array of originals songs and covers with her quartet at Hallbankgate Village Hall, Brampton, on May 15.

Her repertoire will include lyrical interpretations of jazz standards and an adventurous blend of contemporary composers from Kate Bush to Pink Floyd.

The performance will also feature the talents of double bassist Andy Champion, guitarist Mark Williams and drummer Richard Brown.

More information on all Highlights shows across Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham can be found at www.highlightsnorth.co.uk.