Opera star wows at variety

Dawn Furness.
Dawn Furness.
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Local acts drew in the crowds as a variety show hit all the right notes last week.

Dawn Furness, of Cramlington, was one of the stars of the show as more than 300 people attended the Northern Stage event.

A total of nine acts covering dance, music, comedy, poetry and drama and each proved a hit with the audience.

Director and compere, Joan Hewitt, said: “It was a such a success that I now realise there really is no need to go chasing after southern celebrities as I did last year:

“We have enough talent up here.

“All of the artists bar one were from the north east.”

Dawn used to tour with Opera North and once sang with Pavarotti.

She returned home for family reasons, and has now added film- making and stand- up to her repertoire .

Dawn said: “Comedy is difficult for females to break into, as 90 per cent of comics are me.

“But two thirds of attenders of a stand- up course I did were women.

“Political material is a male domain, while women focus on personality and relationships.”

Dawn also campaigns for fairer arts funding for the north.

“The arts budget is tiny,” she said.

“It costs 17p a week per person, less than half the price of a pint of milk.

“Yet 76 per cent of English adults engaged in the arts in the last 12 months.

“The north gets a dreadful deal in comparison with the south.”

The show also included stars from nearby North Tyneside including singer songwriter Pete Scott, Ron Brown and Mike Hirst of the Mayday Band, and compere and poet Joan Hewitt.