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Seconds Away! A gripping new play with songs, scripted by Ian La Frenais with music and lyrics by Jimmy Nail to debut at Live Theatre

Live Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Bill Kenwright Productions are thrilled to present an exclusive first staged reading of an original play with songs, Seconds Away! starring celebrated actor and musician Jimmy Nail and written by legendary screenwriter Ian La Frenais. The staged readings with live music run from Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 February 2024 and offer an incredibly special opportunity to experience a brand new work at the beginning of its journey.

From an original idea and with newly commissioned compositions written by Jimmy Nail, these staged readings will feature a cast who will perform scenes and songs accompanied by a live band featuring local legends Peter Tickell, (Musical Director) and Lindisfarne’s Ray Laidlaw (drums and percussion).

Seconds Away! Chronicles the poignant odyssey of Fighting Frankie Tanner, a once-celebrated heavyweight boxing champion grappling with a life overshadowed by adversity. Amidst personal grief, the wreckage of his marriage, and the fractures within his family, Frankie embarks on a journey of redemption. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Newcastle Upon Tyne, this two-act play with songs delves deep into the themes of personal combat, enduring values, family discord and regional pride. As Frankie confronts these formidable challenges, he must summon his inner strength for a final, monumental battle—the greatest of them all.

Returning to Live Theatre after a sold out Live Encounter in April 2023, Jimmy’s extensive acting credits include TV series Crocodile Shoes, Parents of the Band, feature film Evita, stage musicals The Last Ship and The War of the Worlds. His hits include Big River, Aint No Doubt, Crocodile Shoes, Love Don’t Live Here Any More and Cowboy Dreams.

Jimmy Nail who takes on the role of Frankie Tanner said:

I am delighted to be returning to Live Theatre and to Newcastle Upon Tyne, my spiritual home, to team up with Ian (La Frenais) and to bring Seconds Away! to the stage. Geordieland is where the play was conceived and it was always my fervent hope we would begin its journey in this theatre and this city. Knockout! as Frankie might say. My compositions will be immeasurably enhanced by the group of musicians we’ve somehow managed to assemble, players of the very highest calibre. I’d pay to see this line-up outside of the play! I look forward to confirming cast members in due course. My thanks to Jack McNamara and everyone at Live Theare and to Bill Kenwright and all at BKL. See you in February!”

Musicians Peter Tickell and Ray Laidlaw will be joined on stage by virtuoso guitarist Micky Crystal (acoustic guitars) and celebrated harpist Mary Macmaster (acoustic/electro harps, vocals). The full cast of actors/singers will be announced very soon

Seconds Away! reunites Jimmy with Ian La Frenais with whom he collaborated so successfully on the hugely popular TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Spender and the feature film Still Crazy. The prolific and acclaimed writer is well known for groundbreaking series The Likely Lads (co-written with Dick Clement) which followed the adventures of Bob and Terry, two working-class lads from the North East. Ian’s credits also includes TV series Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Porridge, Going Straight, Lovejoy and Spies of Warsaw as well as feature films The Commitments, Goal, Flushed Away, The Bank Job and Across the Universe. His most recent work includes the Sixties documentary My Generation and the stage play Chasing Bono.

Commenting on the collaboration, Ian La Frenais said:

I welcome any opportunity to work in the North East and help bring its characters and culture to a wider audience. Like Jimmy, this is truly my spiritual home and the values instilled in me in my early years have defined me ever since no matter where I have lived whether it was in London or California. I thank Jimmy for giving me this opportunity, the superb cast of actors and musicians, the staff of Live Theatre and Bill Kenwright who keeps us all believing.”

Seconds Away! Integrates original music and drama. Audiences can expect scenes of light and shade, finding humour in the darkness. Tickets priced at £30 are available online  or from Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

Photograph credit: Tony Mac.

  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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