Final rehearsals are underway for a musical play which brings one of the North East’s greatest music hall stars back to life.

Rachael McShane – an original member of five times Folk Award winners Bellowhead – is one of the performers preparing to take to the stage in Mr Corvan’s Music Hall at the Gala Theatre later this week, and said the show has already had an impact on her as an artist.

“Ned was also a fiddle player and singer and he had a lot to say through his music about the social injustices of the time, as well as wanting to give his audiences a good time,” she said.

“He sounds just like most folk singers and performers today – we’re still singing about the things that matter to people.”

Rachael, who lives in Newcastle, has previously performed at Gala with Bellowhead as part of Durham BRASS festival, but says this role will be somewhat different from her usual shows.

“It’ll be the first-time I’ve been the lone musician in a production, but Chris Connel and Jamie Brown – who play young and old Ned – are great singers and are really bringing these songs to life,” she said.

“Rehearsals have been really hard work as there are 22 songs in the show, but we’re having a lot of fun and it’s been a truly lovely group of people to work with. We’re all very much looking forward to opening the show in Durham.”

Rachael will be joined on stage by Jamie Brown from Gateshead, who returns to the Gala following performances in The Fighting Bradfords and last year’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.

“Ned was essentially a lad from humble beginnings who found a passion and pursued it – in that sense I’d say we share common ground. It’s hard not to be engaged and inspired by some of his lyrics,” he said. 

“The North East has a unique history that has shaped what it is today, and the more I find out about that – and the characters that shaped it – the more privileged I feel to be part of retelling these stories for a modern audience.”

Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PORKH79FHzk to watch a trailer of the show, including interviews with Rachael, Jamie and Chris Connel as well as writer Ed Waugh.

The world premiere of Mr Corvan’s Music Hall will take place at Gala on Thursday, 25 May at 7.30pm followed by a performance at the same time on Friday, 26 May and Saturday, 27 May. A matinee performance will also take place on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets for the show cost £15 or £13 for concessions and can be bought by visiting www.galadurham.co.uk, calling the box office on on 03000 266 600 or visiting the venue in person. 2-for-1 tickets are available for the opening night performance.