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Great Yorkshire Fringe: our top 10 of what to see and do

July 14, 2017 7:20 AM
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Great Yorkshire Fringe: our top 10 of what to see and do

CLEAR your diary, cancel all engagements and give your compete and undivided attention to this year's Great Yorkshire Fringe.

The city's annual entertainment festival is back for its third successive year, with more comedy, theatre, music and family fun than before.

With scores of shows brought to York by hundreds of performers, the challenge is: what to see?

So we have done the hard work for you and selected our not-to-miss festival choices...enjoy!

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Quite a few famous faces are York-bound this year: German comedian Henning Wehn is staging his one-night-only gig at the Barbican (Saturday, July 29, 7.30pm, £18.50, 16+); comedian Nick Hall brings his act about assassinated British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval to The Shed (Sunday, July 23, 5pm, £7, 12+), while the irrepressible Scottish magician and comedian Jerry Sadowitz will be letting out a roar in the White Rose Rotunda (Thursday, July 27, 8.45pm, £19.50, 18+). The White Rose Rotunda will become an auction room when Sean Kelly, star of Storage Hunters, shares unusual and funny stories from his life, and auctions off cheeky items from audience members in aid of Help for Heroes (Saturday, July 22, 8.45pm, £15).

Many acts have already won acclaim in the Edinburgh Fringe, and so already come with a "Must See" sticker. These include: George Egg DIY Chef, who enjoyed sell-out runs in the Scottish capital in 2015 and 2016 (The Shed, Wednesday July 26, 8.30pm, £12/£10, 16+); cult comedian and Metro columnist Richard Herring, dubbed "King of the Edinburgh Fringe" (White Rose Rotunda, Saturday July 29, 4.30pm and 7pm, £15, 16+), and ex Phoenix Nights' Janice Connolly's comic creation Barbara Nice, aka "Edinburgh's favourite housewife" whose show, Raffle!, not surprisingly includes a draw. (Wednesday, July 26, 7pm, £12/£10, 14+).

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If you like your funny with a feminine edge then check out these sister acts: Juliette Burton's Butterfly Effect is an Edinburgh Fringe Preview on the back of two Edinburgh sell-outs for the award-winning comedian in 2015 and 2016 (The Tea Pot, Thursday, July 27, 8pm, £10/£8, 14+); also fresh from acclaim in Edinburgh is Sophie Willan with her brand new show (The Tea Pot, Saturday, July 22, 8.30pm, £7, 16+), and Abi Roberts brings a first with her English-Russian comedy Anglichanka (The Tea Pot, Friday, July 21, 8.30pm, £8/£7). Sasha Ellen is the accidental hero of her own act, billed as "a brutally honest stand-up show about mishaps, misunderstandings and general screw ups". (The Shed, Monday, July 24, 7pm, £7, 16+).

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Do you want to learn magic tricks or would you rather fall under the spell of some of the best illusionists around? Why choose? You can do both this year in the Fringe. Wannabe wizards can check into magic school at the West End Magic Workshops (The Tea Pot, Saturday, July 29-Sunday July 30, 11.15am and 1pm, child £15, ages 7-13). Award winning Oliver Tabor holds all the cards in his show, West End Magic (The Tea Pot, Friday, July 28-Sunday July 30, 3pm, £8.50/family £30). Time travelling magicians Morgan & West bring their unique formula to The Tea Pot also (Friday July 21- Saturday, July 22, 7pm, adult £12/child £10, 9+). They are also doing gigs for a younger audience (5+) at the White Rose Rotunda (Saturday July 22, 1pm and 3pm, tickets: adult £10/child £7.50/family £30).

Musical acts hope to strike a chord with Fringe audiences this year. York Barbican is joining the festival party for the first time, with some big gigs lined up. The most talked-about show has to be Curtis Stigers and the Ronnie Scott's Big Band orchestra re-creating the legendary Sinatra at the Sands concert (Friday, July 28, 7.30pm, £27.50), but music lovers can also enjoy tribute shows to Abba and Queen at the Barbican during the Fringe. Other venues that can't stop the music include The Teapot which hosts a homage to Woodstock in Janice Joplin and Friends, straight from the West End (Saturday, August 5, 8.30pm, £18, 12+). Festival favs The Grand Old Uke of York are back too, but just for one night, so don't miss Yorkshire's very own 14-piece ukulele collective. (White Rose Rotunda, Monday, July 24, 7.30pm, £10).

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Looking for something surreal? Then park your shopping trolley by The Tea Pot and savour the likes of The Delightful Sausage, whose new sketch comedy, Cold Hard Cache, promises to be "surreal, interactive and very silly" (Wednesday, August 2, 7pm, £7). At the same venue and date, check out more off-the-wall fun in Standing on the Shoulders of Ants - who knew being allowed to stay up to watch Crimewatch aged six could cause such trouble? (Wednesday, August 2, 5pm, £8). Board up the windows and prepare for comic carnage in the shape of Hurricane Katie, who one reviewer described as "unusually perceptive, always original and entertaining" (The Shed, Monday, July 31, 8.30pm, £7).

Slightly Fat Features return to York with their The Slightly Fat Show, a comic and chaotic evening of variety - expect stunts, laughs and mayhem. (White Rose Rotunda, Monday, July 31, 4pm, Tuesday August 1 - Friday, August 4, 7pm, £12.50/family £44). Burlesque is back with The Great Yorkshire Tease, from the producers of Moulin Ouse, as much about showgirls as satire (The Shed, Friday, August 4, 8.30pm, £18).

The Great Yorkshire Fringe is only three years young, but already some acts just can't keep away. Back for 2017 are comedians Henning Wehn (Barbican, Saturday, July 29, 7.30pm, £18.50, 16+), Richard Herring (White Rose Rotunda, Saturday July 29, 4.30pm and 7pm, £15, 16+) and Paul Foot with his hit show Tis Pity She's A Piglet (White Rose Rotunda, Thursday, July 27, 7pm, £12.50, 16+). Showstopper! The Improvised Musical returns with its award-winning format too (White Rose Rotunda, Tuesday, July 25, 6.30pm & 8.45pm, £16.50). Meanwhile, the original family dance party Baby Loves Disco takes another spin at the White Rose Rotunda, why not bop along? (Sunday, July 23, 12pm and 2.15pm, £8, suitable for children aged 0-7). And the hunt is on again for the Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year, with heats starting at The Tea Pot on Friday, July 21 at 5.30 (tickets £6.50, 16+).

Roll up for the York Fringe Dog Show, bark by poopular request (sorry!). It costs £2 to register your pooch for a category that covers everything from Prettiest Female and Dog with the Waggiest Tail to Dog with the Best Fringe and Dog Most Like its Owner. Spectators go free and it is all in aid of RSPCA York (White Rose Rotunda, Tuesday, August 1, registration from 2.45pm, show starts at 3pm).

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