Don’t Miss The Audition Starring Charlie Hardwick and Rachel Unthank

Published: 9th February 2024

A new musical with songs from the Great American Songbook will premiere at The Customs House next month. Charlie Hardwick and Rachel Unthank take to the stage at the Customs House on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th March in The Audition, the story of five leading ladies competing to star in a new show.

Charlie, whose credits include Emmerdale, Ackley Bridge and Cooking With Elvis, will join Rachel from the award winning band The Unthanks making her theatrical debut in the production. Rachel said: “I was 15 years old when I first saw Charlie Hardwick perform and I’m a bit bowled over that I will be sharing the stage with her for my first ever outing into the world of acting. The Audition is full of songs and stories about women, something which has long been at the core of Unthanks material. Although I am more used to singing such stories, I am looking forward to embarking on this exciting new journey.” Charlie added: “I last performed at The Custom’s House in The Awkward Squad and am very much looking forward to being back there.

“My character Jennifer is a fading Broadway star now resident in England working on a comeback. I’m looking forward to exploring what makes her tick and of course performing some wonderful songs.” The Audition is written by former television producer and commissioner Graeme Thompson and directed by Max Roberts, whose credits include The Pitman Painters (West End and Broadway), Educating Rita, Cooking with Elvis, And a Nightingale Sang. The pair – who have a shared love of music theatre – met when Graeme joined the board of Live Theatre in Newcastle where Max was artistic director.

The show sees five women turn up at a theatre in North East England to audition to play a famous diva in a new musical about her life. They’ve been told to tell personal stories as a way of relating to the roller-coaster life and career of an ageing screen, stage and recording star – who may or may not, be fictional. As the audition progresses, the women talk about their lives, loves and their career highs and lows. And they choose music from Broadway and the Great American Songbook to highlight their personal experiences.

The music of Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Sondheim, Hoagy Carmichael, Kander and Ebb and others allows the women to open up about ambition, success and disappointment. A bond develops between the five as they support each other in laying bare their own lives. Musical numbers include Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, Lush Life, Maybe This Time, But Not For Me, I Get Along Without You Very Well and I’m Still Here. The musical director is Andrew Richardson and further casting will be announced next week.

Tickets are available for four performances at The Customs House Studio at 2:30pm and 7:30pm on Thursday March 14th and Friday March 15th are available HERE. The show will be presented in the form of a rehearsed reading as part of a week of workshops and rehearsals.

Writer Graeme Thompson, well known to Customs House audiences as the co-writer of the annual pantomime, commented: “The show has five leading ladies sharing their stories and singing some of the greatest songs ever written. We can’t wait to see how the show will develop after its week in South Shields.”

Max Roberts said: “There are so many contemporary themes explored through the lyrics and the book, and I’m hoping audiences will enjoy being in the company of great actors and great music from some of the finest songwriters of the last century.”