This Friday evening we welcome the Yorkshire Gypsy Swing Collective to Ilkley Playhouse for the first time.

Come and enjoy some of the region’s hottest gypsy jazz and swing players on Friday, April 5, playing music inspired from legendary musicians Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli of the “Quintette du Hot Club de France” and more! Expect fiery solos, foot-stomping rhythms and even some jazz standards to sing along to.

Our next play to open in the Wharfeside Theatre on Thursday, April 11 is Ladies Unleashed, written by Amanda Whittington. Old friends Pearl, Jan and Linda are enjoying a long-awaited break on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland coast, when an unexpected visitor arrives. None of the friends have seen or heard from Shelley for years, so their retreat soon becomes a fun and laughter-filled reunion. However, much has changed in all their lives since they were last together and tensions soon begin to arise, as echoes of the past start to emerge. Woven into the plot is the tale of two ‘herring girls’ from the late nineteenth century, who dream of a better future. Amanda Whittington has written over thirty plays for the radio and the stage, with Ladies Unleashed being the final play in a trilogy which began with Ladies Day in 2005 and continued with Ladies Down Under in 2007. Whittington’s plays often deal with women who are trapped in mundane lives, dreaming of a better life – and Ladies Unleashed is no exception. Look forward to an evening of laughter and tears as the ladies meet up again for their final adventure. Ladies Unleashed runs until Saturday 20th April.

Stagefright Comedy Club returns on Saturday, April 27 when you will be treated to an evening of hilarity from comedians Aaron Simmonds, Phil Pagett, Alex Mitchell, Helen Brooks and Gareth Williams. Aaron Simmonds, who is frontlining the event, is fresh from a solo UK tour. His credits include The Russell Howard Hour, Breaking The News, Guessable and The Stand Up Sketch Show. He has a talent for weaving an overarching story into multiple anecdotes, calling back to them masterfully throughout his performance. Joining him is Birmingham based Phil Pagett who has been performing since 2010 and his act features a heady combination of clever, sharp one-liners and bone-dry observations. In addition to his live work he has written for Mock the Week and BBC Radio 4. Also performing is Helen Brooks who, in her own words, looked to comedy as a way of turning her problems into punch lines. Expect a heady mix of self-depreciation, social commentary and green sequins. She is a comedy writer on BBC Radio 4 ‘The Skewer’ and BBC Scotland ‘Noising Up’. Gareth Williams, another talented comedian joining the line-up, has been described as ‘fabulously confident and instinctively funny’ (Derbyshire Times). He is winner of the Komedia Comedy LaunchPad and ‘wins over audiences with his “Did he really just say that?” humour. Finally, Alex Mitchell ‘brings a breath of fresh air to any comedy night. He has strong material from the start and the crowd instantly warm to him.’ (Lairy Laughs Comedy). What a line-up! The evening will be compered by the fabulously talented Anthony J. Brown.

Join Britain’s leading hot-fingered mandolin virtuoso Simon Mayor, and silver-voiced songstress Hilary James, for an unmissable evening of musical fun on Saturday, May 4. Well-known for the diversity of their repertoire: from folk songs to blues, classical mandolin showstoppers, hot swing fiddle, quirky poems, limericks and comic songs. Simon’s unique brand of off-beat humour and Hilary’s honey-dripping voice and amazing bass mandolin, makes for a hugely entertaining evening.

On May 24 and 25 a new play Bridge, written by Sarah Nelson, comes to Ilkley Playhouse, starring Dean Smith and Tom Gibbons. On a dark night, Jacob stands on a motorway bridge, wrong side of the railings. Liam, an off-duty paramedic happens to walk past. One man whose job it is to save people and one who has come to a moment in his life where he needs to be saved. What follows is an unexpected conversation, a purging of fears and regrets, as they finally open up about what has brought them to this moment and discover whether the time they spent together on the bridge might change them both forever. Bridge is a pitch-black comedy about the fragility of men trying to survive 21st century life. Exploring the pressures and challenges they face, the detrimental effect on their mental health and the power of talking to someone. The last decade has seen a growing conversation about men’s mental health, and an awareness that the power of men talking about how they feel can and does save lives.

Ilkley Gazette: ClassClass (Image: submitted)

The next play to open in the Wildman Studio is Class, written by Iseult Golden and David Horan. A parent teacher meeting goes very wrong in this play about learning difficulties: in school and in life. Brian and Donna’s son is nine years old and he’s struggling. That’s what his teacher says. He recommends he should see a psychologist. But Brian and Donna – recently separated – never liked going to school, never liked teachers. So are they going to trust this one? Should they? Class is an explosive triple confrontation over learning difficulties, love and entitlement. This award-winning play looks at the plight of teachers on the frontline and the pressures of modern masculinity. There are no answers in this classroom, but plenty of questions, as we explore the uncertain territory where prejudice, damage and failed intentions collide. The play runs from May 13 to 18.

To book tickets for all our plays and events visit or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.