Shirley Valentine

Shirley

It’s an incredible 30 years since playwright Willy Russel introduced the world to Shirley Valentine and what better way to celebrate than to bring her out of the kitchen for an anniversary tour.

The play which has travelled the world winning a string of awards as well as being made into a film starring Pauline Collins which earned both BAFTAs and Academy Award nominations is as iconic as the Liver Birds. 40 something Shirley is trapped, drowning in a life which has lost all its spark, where the most important job she has is getting her husband’s tea on the table and her best conversations are with the kitchen wall. Downtrodden and deflated Shirley is tired with what life has become until one day out of the blue she’s offered the opportunity to inject some adventure, in the form of 2 weeks in Greece with her single pal Jane.

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Taking on the role of Shirley in this one woman piece, is Jodie Prenger, she finds the warmth and humour within as she delivers a heart-warming and gratifying performance. Possessing all the grit, determination, humour and vulnerability of the Shirley we all know and love as well as ramping up the humour with her skilful and entertaining depiction of the various characters which inhibit Shirley’s world. She glides with ease from one character to the next, breathing fresh life into the pages of Russel’s much loved work. Prenger is a force to be reckoned with, commanding the full attention of a packed out Lowry theatre, she delivers a wholly believable and deeply touching performance, audience laughter is closely followed by thoughtful reflection as Prenger finds the true heart of Shirley as her desperation for more becomes painfully clear.

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Russel’s familiar themes of loneliness and inequality are just as relevant today as they were when he originally penned Shirley. His writing is sharp and poignant, offering humour, depth and a fine understanding of the way many women see the world. Director Glen Walford makes great use of the material allowing Prenger to take this piece and really make it shine. Designer Amy Yardley’s kitchen set in Act I is impressive, allowing Shirley to cook up her chips and egg without missing a beat of the mighty monologue she delivers.

This is a fun, feel-good and thought-provoking production which like Shirley really gains momentum when our heroine chases her dream and starts to really live. A wonderful revival, which will make audiences fall in love with Shirley all over again.

On at The Lowry until Saturday tickets available here https://www.thelowry.com/events/shirley-valentine

Teletubbies Live!

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Time for Teletubbies! Time for Teletubbies!

The World Premiere of the first EVER Teletubbies stage show will take place in Manchester this November!

Everyone’s favourite colourful characters, Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po will take to the stage at the Palace Theatre in celebration of their 20th anniversary and we have all the details you need in order to join them!

Teletubbies Live promises to be a show filled with love, laughter and Teletubbies favourites including the Tubby Phone, Noo-ooo and Sun baby. Young audiences will be invited to join in the fun as they enjoy regular much loved features of the TV show as well as brand new songs by from BAFTA award-winning composer Mani Svavarsson.

Produced by leading children’s theatre team Fiery Light, in partnership with licensor DHX Brands and specially adapted and created by Richard Lewis, who has also created and directed the super popular Peppa Pig Live shows, Teletubbies Live is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the magic of the heatre as this colourful and mesmerising show plays out before them.

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Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 28th June and the Palace theatre will be marking the event with a FREE family friendly launch party from 10am-12 noon where you can meet Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po! There will be giveaways, face-painting, photo opportunities, cupcakes and babycinos as well as EXCLUSIVE ticket offers!

Anyone who buys tickets at the event for Teletubbies Live will be entered into a free prize draw to win some fabulous Teletubbies merchandise! So don’t delay head down to the Palace Theatre, Oxford St, Manchester at 10am on Wednesday June 28 to join in the fun and be the first in line to get your tickets! For more information head to; www.Teletubbieslive.com

 

 

The Lady Boys of Bangkok

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Yes, the Lady Boys are back in town with their lavish new production –  WHO RUNS THE WORLD! Performed by 16 of Thailand’s most alluring Lady Boys at the specially created Thai Pavilion, the show has pitched up in Manchester, Chester Road until 24th June.

© Dean Martin Photography 2015 - www.deanmartinphotography.com

credit: Dean Martin photography

It’s the perfect way to forget what is going on in the real world for a couple of hours and enjoy pure cheeky fun with an abundance of sequins and campness! The Lady Boys of Bangkok is of course, (as you get from the title), performed by gorgeous showgirls like no other showgirls – they are all male Thai nationals. Each one is absolutely stunning with never ending legs, chiselled cheekbones and made up to perfection. I defy any woman not to feel envious and any man to not question his sanity that these ‘women’ are actually men!

WHO RUNS THE WORLD sees the ensemble strut their stuff through a number of risqué routines, lip-syncing their life out of pop classics from divas like Beyonce, Arianna Grande and Rhianna. They also play homage to the theatre with cleverly crafted sections from The Lion King, Grease and Chicago.

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No expense is spared when it comes to the costumes, there’s rhinestones a plenty and flamboyancy is obviously the theme with huge feather head dresses and cage-like dresses that have your jaw dropping at the splendour.

And then there’s Trevor…the Lancashire addition to the group, known to audiences up and down the country as ‘the little guy’. Trevor is hilarious with his ‘Benny Hill’ style solos playing up his ‘northern roots’ and the fact he is so far removed from the other 16 performers onstage.

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It’s all huge fun and the audience love it as they holler, sing along to the cheesy tunes and get up on their feet to dance along. If you want something that will put a smile on your face you can’t go wrong with The Lady Boys of Bangkok and after a years’ absence from our great city Manchester is glad to have them back.

Top Tip: Look out for special discounts on their website and 241 nights. Plus, if you want to make a night of it there’s Thai cuisine available in the Pavilion and two bars on site to put you in the party mood.

The Lady Boys of Bangkok 2017

 Who Runs the World! Tour

The Sabai Pavilion, Chester Road Car Park, 2 mins from Deansgate Station, M15 4NP

Fri 9th June – Sat 24th June 2017

http://www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk

 

 

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles

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Northern Rep bring Arthur Conan Doyle’s much loved classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles, to Great Northern Warehouse’s new space, The Reading Room, this week.

Northern Rep invite audiences to join Sherlock Holmes and his trusted sidekick Dr Watson as they travel from the streets of London to the Devonshire Moors in an attempt to solve the mystery of, The Hound of the Baskervilles. The intimate city centre setting allows Northern Rep to deliver an evening of fast-paced action as two hugely talented actors take on every role in this riotous romp. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have never been so funny as they poke fun at the mystery and melodrama of the Moor!

Thomas Moore, Artistic Director of Northern Rep, said: “I’m thrilled to be bringing one of Sherlock Holmes’ and Dr Watson’s most famous adventures to Manchester in its own purpose built theatre: The Reading Room. We’ve been working hard over the past few months converting a secret corner of The Great Northern Warehouse into an intimate 30 seat theatre that will host The Hound of the Baskervilles. Expect riotous performances from Mr Holmes and Dr Watson as Mrs Hudson takes care of all of your refreshment needs from your seat!”

Presented by Northern Rep, adapted and directed by Thomas Moore, and performed in pairs by four cast members – Thea Beyleveld, Christopher Brown, Angela Hazeldine and Michael Justice – who rotate performances. The Hound of the Baskervilles opens on Friday 16th June. Ticket information can be found here; www.northernrep.co.uk/thebaskervilles

Tickets £12 (Previews from Friday 16 – Monday 19 June tickets £6)

120mins including interval.

Gangsta Granny

 

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Being massive fans of David Walliams children’s fiction, we approached the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of Gangsta Granny with excitement and a little trepidation. What if they didn’t translate Walliams’ clever story and capture his imaginative and laugh-out-loud storytelling to their stage production. It quickly became apparent that the cast were going carry it off and their on-stage interpretation didn’t disappoint.

Ben is an eleven-year-old boy (played by young adult Ashley Cousins) with flamboyant, ball room dancing parents (Rachel Stanley and Benedict Martin). They mean well, but this dancing duo are caught up in their own drama and don’t really have time for Ben or his Granny. As a result, Ben and Granny (played last night by Louise Bailey) are unenthusiastically forced together every Friday night. Ben thinks his granny is the most boring person in the world. She relentlessly feeds him cabbage based meals, even inventing cabbage mouse for desert and their weekly games of Scrabble are the highlight of her week.

Ben would rather do anything than spend time with Granny.

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That is, until he uncovers a secret, suggesting that perhaps Granny is not quite as boring as he thinks. As a result, Ben and Granny embark on an exciting adventure, one that will bring them together and will form an unlikely bond that can’t be broken. Not only do they come within a hairs’ breath of stealing the Crown Jewels, they also meet Her Royal Majesty, the Queen, who treats them with an improbable lenience.

Director Neal Foster and his team should be applauded for their inventive use of space, sound, light and costume design. They worked wonders recreating many different scenes from the book and managed to stay true to the original tale, despite the on-stage constraints. Granny’s recounts of her youthful escapades were wonderfully illustrated by imaginative and elaborate costume design and took the audience on a hilarious journey through her many adventures and encounters.

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Following the interval, the show stepped it up a gear with many more laugh out loud moments and lots of audience participation. Bens involuntary participation in a dancing competition, which was hosted by the hilarious Flavio and played by Devesh Kishore (he also played Raj, an endearing character that appears in most of Walliams’ novels), and the chaos that ensued, had the audience laughing and jumping from their seats in pantomime style.

All in all, this is a heartfelt cross-generational story told with great humour. Be warned, as with many of Walliams children’s stories, there is a sad twist in the tale, but fear not, this is dealt with sensitively and everyone left the theatre happy. According to the youngest member in our party it was “better than the book!”.

On at the Opera House until Sunday 11th June tickets can be found here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/gangsta-granny-2017/opera-house-manchester/

Reviewed by Margot Power

Trainspotting: Live

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Credit: Geraint Lewis

It’s not often that a production leaves me wanting to go straight back and see it again but that is how I felt after watching Trainspotting: Live at The Lowry this week. The incredibly immersive offering, based on the cult Irvine Welsh novel, is punchy, powerful and fizzing with gritty realism. Co- directors Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin have delivered a genius piece of modern theatre which gives audience members the full ‘Trainspotting’ experience as soon as they walk into the auditorium.

Conventionality goes out of the window from the start – there’s no seat numbers on your tickets, instead you are given a glo-wristband where the colour denotes where you’re placed for the show. When you step inside the auditorium the action has already begun and all seven actors that make up the cast are dancing their tits off, glo sticks aloft and banging music playing at full blast. It’s like you are in an underground rave and the electricity and pumping bass lines hit you like a bolt!

Either side of the action are raised seating areas which mean you face each other side on and can witness every hilarious reaction to the crowd participation. It’s not the most comfortable way to watch a show but, as it’s just 75 minutes straight through and hugely transfixing, the numb posterior doesn’t detract you from the action. One thing to note seating wise though is if you are placed by the mid seating toilet then prepare yourself for a soaking as the infamous ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene becomes all too real.

Trainspotting: Live is certainly not for the fainthearted or the easily offended but if you have read the cult novel or seen the film you should be fully aware of what to expect. The beauty of this production is that every night of the run will bring with it a new element of audience related ad-libs, depending on the crowd, as the cast find new ways to offend and delight in equal measure. There’s full frontal nudity, needles, soiled sheets and even a used condom hurled out into the audience!

Credit: Geraint Lewis

The young Scottish cast should be applauded for the physicality of their performances, each one giving all of their energy to the roles, visibly sweating their way through scenes. It’s hard to pick out anyone from such a strong team but a special mention must go to Gavin Ross who plays the central character, Renton. Ross gives a stellar performance and revels in the part that Ewan McGregor made his own. Together the seven strong ensemble bring to life all the key characters and scenes alongside superb use of lighting, sound and a script which is every bit as edgy as the screenplay, immersing you into the dark world of drug addiction from the off.

20 years after Trainspotting hit our screens and asked us to ‘choose life’ 2017 saw the release of the follow up, T2, introducing a whole new generation to this powerful and evocative story. Trainspotting: Live just enhances this following further and I’m sure in its own right will become a cult classic amongst theatre goers and fans alike.

Rest assured you will not be disappointed in this breathtaking, rollercoaster of a show so get your tickets fast and don’t miss it if it stops at a station near you anytime soon.

Runs at The Lowry, Salford until Sat 11th June

https://www.thelowry.com/events/trainspotting

*Best availability for tickets, Thursday 8th June*

The Play That Goes Wrong

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Bursting onto the Lowry stage this week with a crash, bang and almighty wallop is West End smash hit and recent Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong.

Mischief Theatre have come a long way since their humble beginnings in an Inslington Pub and their original production continues to thrill as the company delivers the silliest and most calamitous night out at the theatre you’re ever likely to witness.

Cornley Polytechnic amateur dramatic club invite us to join them as they attempt to stage their bold new production, Murder at Haversham Hall, a 1920’s murder mystery which quickly becomes less whodunnit and more survival of the fittest.

The catastrophes begin immediately as the lights go up prematurely as our victim is still getting himself in place on the chaise lounge. Anything that could go wrong absolutely does in this riotous romp of farcical fun. The physical comedy is hilarious with gag after gag hitting you thick and fast, you just about regain your composure when another disaster unfolds and tears of laughter begin again. From missing props, to set malfunctions you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing as the cast press on with their ‘show must go on attitude’ and remain completely in character despite the chaos unfolding all around them.

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High praise must go to this hardworking ensemble cast, the teamwork involved to enable such slick delivery is impressive; their commitment to making things look so delightfully disastrous is incredible as the madcap mayhem leaves audiences exhausted from laughing so hard. Each person on stage gives their all in this high energy romp and together creates the most wonderful team. Special mention must go to Alistair Kirton as Cecil Haversham he is superb, so thrilled with his own performance any audience applause is too wonderful to ignore. Also Patrick Warner as Inspector Carter, his attempts to remain calm amidst the madness are hilarious. Making it all possible is Nigel Hook’ set which is superb, intricate and sophisticated with all manner of opportunities for disasters to unfold as every piece has its part to play.

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The Play That Goes Wrong is the perfect tonic; the company deliver the most seamless escapist fun, something so important in current times. It’s chaotic, silly, brilliantly bonkers and delightfully daft, an absolute must see!

On at The Lowry until Saturday 10th June https://www.thelowry.com/events/the-play-that-goes-wrong