Little Shop of Horrors – Cast Interviews

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Cult classic and audience favourite, Little Shop of Horrors is heading to the Palace Theatre in October as part of a new UK tour. Set in 1950’s New York, well, Skid Row, to be more precise, Little Shop of Horrors is a hilarious tale of, love and laughter, with a little bit of murder, mayhem and of course a mean green mother from outta space thrown in for good measure!

Geeky but loveable Seymour discovers an exotic new plant which soon turns around the fortunes of the failing Mushnik’s Flower Shop where he works as an assistant in downtrodden Skid Row. He christens the plant ‘Audrey II’ in honour of his fellow assistant Audrey whom he is secretly besotted with. Sadly Audrey is stuck in the clutches of the sinister (if not a little bit sexy) Dentist, Orin Scrivello, who has a rather unhealthy passion for pain. Add to this the fact that Audrey II is quickly developing into a demanding, ill-tempered, obscenity loving carnivore that’s attracting more and more attention by the second and you’ve got one hell of an entertaining production.

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We sat down with cast members Rhydian (The Dentist), Sam Lupton (Seymour) and Stephanie Clift (Audrey) to hear what this revamped production has in store for Manchester audiences.

Taking on the devilish role of the Prince of plaque, is X Factor finalist and recording artist Rhydian, who has been a huge fan of the show for many years so jumped at the chance to join the cast. Experienced in musical theatre having appeared in Grease, We Will Rock You, Jesus Christ Superstar and Rocky Horror to name but a few, Rhydian loves the fact he can be completely outrageous on stage and have so much fun with the role.

“With this show you feel every single emotion, you’ll be crying, you’ll be laughing, you’ll be wincing, you’ll become absorbed with the relationships the characters have with each other. The energy is fantastic, we have the best director, lighting designer, choreographer, cast, it’s a winning combination and a great night out”.

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“I do musicals if I really like the show, and I really, really like this show, I love big show stoppers, everyone knows the music from Little Shop even if they don’t at first realise, the audience reactions have been incredible, we’ve even got the rights to perform Mean Green Mother live which we’ve never had before and the audience totally love every single minute of it as do we as a cast performing it”.

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Joining Rhydian as unlucky in love, Seymour is Sam Lupton, a graduate of Manchester School Of Theatre and experienced West End performer who has appeared as Boq in Wicked as well as in the touring production of Avenue Q amongst many other great shows. Having studied in Manchester for three years Sam is really looking forward to returning to the city, Sam loved living in Manchester and misses his time here, he used to frequent the Palace Theatre weekly so his return is made even more special by the fact that this is his dream role in a theatre that he loves.

“I saw an article around April time announcing the tour would be happening and have been a huge fan of the show since I was 6 or 7, I’ve always wanted to play Seymour professionally even more so after appearing in an amateur production when I was 15 where I played the voice of Audrey II, I rang my agent straight away and said ‘That’s mine, I want it’, after four or five rounds of auditions where I auditioned with several different Audrey’s, officially getting the part was fantastic”.

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Stephanie Clift who appeared in Mamma Mia in the West End straight after graduating from Arts Education Schools London in 2013 completes our leading line up and is totally thrilled to have bagged the role of Audrey, finding out about the show in a more unusual way;

“My baby niece is taught dance by the associate musical director Mark’s partner Suzie in Devon when I’m from, I was home one day and went to see my nice at her dance class where I got chatting to Suzie who asked me what my dream role was, I immediately answered Audrey from Little Shop and Suzie told me then that it was due to be going on tour, I knew straight away I had to be in it”.

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Both Sam and Stephanie agree that one of the highlights of the show for both them is when they sing Suddenly Seymour together, they feel the buzz of the audience anticipation of the song followed by their enjoyment once the music begins, for Stephanie it holds some really special nostalgic memories;

For me as a little girl, falling in love with the show, with Audrey and now getting to do that, remembering my reaction as a little girl and now being involved in creating that reaction for our audiences, it really is a dream come true”

Directed by Tara Wilkinson for Sell a Door Theatre Company and Damien Tracey Productions, Little Shop of Horrors is already proving to be an almighty hit, with rave reviews from each stop on the tour so far. With only one week to catch this riotous and hugely entertaining show act fast and book your tickets, with a strong cast, awesome staging, and catchy tunes you’ll be humming for days this really is one not to be missed!

Little Shop Of Horrors – Palace Theatre, Manchester,
Mon 31st Oct-Sat 5th Nov
Perf Times: Mon-Sat eves 7.30pm, Sat mat 2.30pm
0844 871 3019

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/little-shop-of-horrors/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

 

GENESIS premieres at The Lowry this November

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Image: Morag Siller and Sally Dynevor [Steve Searle/WENN.com]

The world premiere of Genesis will open at The Lowry, Salford, on Friday 11 – Sat 12 November 2016.

Genesis has been created by Forward Theatre Project and is the result of a two-year research partnership with the UK’s only charity dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer, South Manchester’s Prevent Breast Cancer.

The story of Genesis began when Charlotte Bennett, Artistic Director at Forward Theatre Project, met one of Prevent Breast Cancer’s patrons, actress Morag Siller in 2013. Morag shared her story of her battle against the terminal breast cancer and how this prompted her to get involved with Prevent Breast Cancer. In 2015, Charlotte began working with Morag to create a piece of theatre that would help raise awareness of breast cancer prevention. Sadly Morag passed away this April,and now Genesis has become part of of Morag’s legacy in supporting the work of the charity, and the play will be performed in her memory.
Coronation Street star Sally Dynevor was close friends with Morag and a co-patron of Prevent Breast Cancer. A breast cancer survivor herself, Sally says:“In order to build a breast cancer-free future, prediction and prevention are imperative. This play is about telling the human side of science. It addresses the incredibly difficult emotional journey we embark on when we are told we can potentially avoid rather than survive cancer by being told our predicted risk.”

Sally continues:“Breast cancer prevention is something that’s extremely close to mine and my family’s hearts, which is why we’re backing this incredible project to create awareness through the art of theatre.”

In developing the play Frazer Flintham, Genesis playwright, and Charlotte Bennett interviewed over 40 people – from geneticists, scientists and surgeons to patients, families and fundraisers connected with Prevent Breast Cancer, to explore the complex human impacts of predicting illness through science.

The all-female cast, featuring Helen Bradbury (who played Elizabeth I in BBC2’s Bloody Queens: Elizabeth and Mary in February this year), Joanna Nicks and Charlotte Melia, will be rehearsing in Manchester throughout October, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Judi Hibbert of Prevent Breast Cancer said: “1 in 9 women and 1 in 1000 men will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. We are delighted to be working with Forward Theatre Project and tremendously excited that they will be able to help portray the breast cancer situation in a way that even more people across the UK will understand the situation and help support it.”

Alongside the production, Forward Theatre Project will deliver a series of workshops and events including:

  • Free educational drama workshops with young women (aged 16+) from schools about body confidence and teaching breast checks.
  • ’Feel Good’ workshops for breast cancer patients including a pamper day of makeovers and professional portrait photographs.
  • A live stream of the show online for audiences to access across the world
  • A photography exhibition of 5 topless images of patients who have had mastectomies which celebrate survival, to be shown at The Lowry during the opening run of Genesis.
  • A full post-show panel discussion at The Lowry on Friday 11 November with collaborating scientists and artists.
Following its premiere at The Lowry, Genesis will then tour to Soho Theatre (London); Beggar’s Theatre (Cumbria); The Continental (Preston) and CAST (Doncaster).

Listings information
Genesis (UK Premiere)
11 & 12 November (8pm) | 12 November (2.30pm)
Tickets: £12 (£10 concessions)
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
Box office: 0843 208 6000
www.thelowry.com/event/genesis

English National Ballet – Giselle

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Choreographed and Directed by Akram Khan, with co-production from Manchester International Festival and Sadlers Wells, Giselle is quite simply magnificent. Having seen the classical ballet only once before being asked to choreograph this new interpretation, Akram Khan has created something so special and unique I would have happily stayed in my seat and waited the 24 hours until the next performance just for the chance to see this magical piece again.

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Powerful, emotive and hauntingly beautiful. Khan has taken Giselle, originally choreographed in 1842 by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli and brought it bang up to date, expanding it’s themes of love, betrayal, reality, the afterlife, money, power and the injustice that comes with not having either, so apt for the times we live in. Khan’s Outcasts are a community of peasant migrant workers disposed of by their employers and banished behind a thick and impenetrable wall, their only use now seemingly is to entertain the factory Landlords ,should their elitist former employers so desire.

Despite this dark and desolate life refugee Giselle (Alina Cojocaru) still finds hope and a love to cling to in the form of Albrecht (Issac Hernandez), a wealthy suitor who has crossed the line after becoming transfixed by Giselle’s beauty. Their love affair sadly has not gone unnoticed by Hilarion (Cesar Corrales) a peasant ‘fixer’ who shifts his allegiance from his community to the wealthy Landlords for his own gain, Hilarion will set about to ensure that Giselle and Albrecht do not get their happy ending.

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Vincenzo Lamagna’s reworking of Adolphe Adam’s score injects drama and grit with its powerful industrial presence, paired beautifully with Mark Henderson’s dynamic lighting design and Academy Award winning Tim Yip’s epic visual design and incredible costumes this production is destined to become a modern classic, a piece you would happily return to time and time again and discover something new on each visit. It is quite simply breath-taking; the skill on show left me speechless.

In Act II we see Giselle arrive in the afterlife, a ghost-factory inhabited by the Wills, (haunted spirits of the ill-treated factory girls) their en pointe work is dazzling, they appear to hover ghost like en masse, powerful and dark they are completely hypnotic with their tumbling unkempt waist length hair and tattered, rag-like dresses. Khan isn’t afraid to use long dramatic silences where you find yourself holding your breath afraid to break the silence yet desperate for the next mesmerising move from the stunning Company.

Bold and inspiring, Giselle more than deserved the standing ovation it received. Special mention must go to Principles, Alina Cojocaru, Issac Hernandez, Cesar Corrales and Begona Cao, all gave exquisite and unforgettable performances. My advice would be to beg, steal or borrow to get a ticket to this truly ground-breaking and achingly brilliant production.

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Giselle, The Palace Theatre, 27th Sept-1st October 2017

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/giselle/palace-theatre-manchester/

George Egg, Anarchist Cook, Review

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The Lowry, Salford

George Egg is an anarchist, now I’m not saying he’s currently plotting to overthrow the Government (although what he does in his spare time is quite frankly none of our business) but when it comes to the rules and restraints of a hotel room, George Egg most certainly likes to bend, boil and slap them in between a Corby trouser press!

Having spent many years on the comedy circuit George has become more than familiar with both hotel rooms and the ridiculously overpriced room service that comes with them, I mean £10 for a cheese and pickle sandwich?! Really?!! So, he decided to take a stand and do something about it, thus his show was born. George sees past the traditional uses of your average hotel room’s equipment and with a little bit of thought, creativity and lashing of sachets of malt vinegar, somehow not only manages to create a three course meal (and an impressive one at that) but delivers a highly entertaining comedy show throughout.

Where we might see a small and a little bit useless travel kettle, George sees an opportunity to create his own tasty ricotta before gently poaching a fresh seabass to perfection, and don’t even get me started on his use for a Gideon Bible!

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George is a total foodie, his knowledge and creativity are exceptional, add to this the fact he can make you laugh too and you’ve got a pretty marvellous all-rounder. Multi-tasking his way through first, second and third courses, George entertains with jokes, comedy stories and fun foodie facts along the way, all while doing things with a hotel iron you never thought possible! The show is fast paced and highly entertaining, made even better when you realise you get to try the food at the end of the show! There was even a guest appearance from Great British Bake Off finalist and owner of The Hive Bakery, Luis Troyano. Innovative, creative and engaging, you’ll leave the show with a smile on your face and the burning ambition to stay at a Premier Inn!

http://www.georgeegg.com/

https://thehivebakery.com/

The Community Centre

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Engine House Theatre, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester

Written by Nicola Gardner (who also takes on two roles in this new production) Directed by John Klark and Produced by Darren Adams, The Community Centre gives us a hilarious account of a day in the life of a local Community Centre and all the madness that comes with it. With diverse characters and lots of laugh out loud moments, The Community Centre is a riot of the familiar ridiculousness of day to day life down at the local Community hub.

Receptionist and self-declared Manager Precious played by writer Nicola Gardner, rules the Centre like an old school mistress with threats to bar anyone misbehaving as she ‘Has the power, you know’ I absolutely adored Precious, such a brilliant character and so well acted by Nicola, she perfectly recreated that ‘power gone to their head’ type character we’ve all no doubt come into contact with at some point in our lives, the audience lapped up her ‘service with a (sinister) smile’ such a great character I’d love to see more of.

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The play is performed in the thrust formation, meaning that the audience sit on two opposing sides of the theatre with a runway style stage running through the centre, with action taking place both in the centre and at either end of the ‘runway’. At one end we have Bev and Anisha, played by Lynne Payne and Sayera Haque, employed by the Community Centre to look after the Community Farm animals, both however are much, much better at taking extended tea breaks and having a good old gossip about their love lives than they are at actually doing any work. Their conversations were brilliantly written, many a giggle of recognition rippled through the audience as they reflected on their disastrous love lives from speed dating to borderline stalking of clearly uninterested men who they hilariously assumed were just playing hard to get.

At the other end of the Community Centre we have Sister Johnson (Linda Hargreaves), Sister Richards (Nicola Gardner, Brother Leroy (Tony McPherson) and Brother Myers (Declan Wilson) four friends who while away their days making use of the centres gas and electric whilst sharing a tot of rum and the playful banter only true friends can have. All four actors excelled in their roles, witty, entertaining and totally loveable. Moving between the two groups, broom in hand is hopeless Caretaker Robbie, (Mike Coombes)  white as snow yet desperately trying to convince both himself and those around him that he’s black, frequently asking his spirit guide Bob (Marley) whom he has a shrine to, for guidance and clarity. Despite his ridiculous swagger and Bob Marley hat complete with dreadlocks, you can’t help but love the hapless Robbie and will him to succeed.

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The Community Centre succeeds in demonstrating to us all that despite our differences and quirks we are basically all the same; we are all seeking out comfort and happiness through our meaningful connections with others. A real fun piece of theatre, with many laugh out loud moments, the production will leave you feeling smiley and thoroughly entertained, as the late great Bob Marley would say, ‘Let’s get together and feel alright’

Tickets are £10/£8 for concessions and the show runs until Saturday 24th September.

Schools/BSL Interpreter: Friday 23 September 2016, 14:00

http://www.communitycentre.org.uk/

 

FUNNY GIRL by Styne,           , Music - Jule Styne, Lyrics - Bob Merril, Director - Michael Mayer, Choreographer - Lynne Page, Set Michael Pavelka, Costumes - Matthew Wright, Lighting - Mark Henderson, Savoy Theatre, London, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

Sheridan Smith brings Funny Girl to Manchester

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Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl. Credit: Johan Persson

Yes folks it is true! Opening Night can reveal that, following the critically acclaimed and record-breaking sold-out runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Savoy Theatre, Sheridan Smith will reprise the role of Fanny Brice for the UK tour of Funny Girl – opening at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, on February 18, 2017.

It’s great news that Sheridan will be taking the show on tour after winning rave reviews for her performance in the West End. The acclaimed actress and musical theatre star is set to perform in Manchester, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle, Southampton, Bradford, Southend, Cardiff and Dublin.

Funny Girl brought global fame to Barbra Streisand 50 years ago and boasts some of the most iconic songs in film and theatre history. For those who haven’t seen the musical it tells the story of Fanny Brice, whose vocal talents and comedic ability see her rise from Brooklyn music hall singer to Broadway star.

Tickets are on sale from today and, with just a week’s stop at the Palace Theatre, the show is sure to sell out soon. Get your hands on them whilst you can as you don’t want anyone to ‘rain on your parade’ if you miss out…(sorry-we couldn’t resist!)

Manchester Palace Theatre

18 – 25 February

Box Office: 0844 871 3019

www.atgtickets.com/manchester

 

 

BRB, Shakespeare Dream Bill

Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Lowry, Salford

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Ahead of their full length interpretation of The Tempest this Autumn, Birmingham Royal Ballet bring their Shakespeare triple bill to the Lowry, opening with American choreographer Jessica Lang’s elegant and contemporary, Wink, which takes its name from the first line of sonnet 43, ‘When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see’. Inspired by Lang’s favourite sonnets, the five poems, read in reflective and brooding voiceover, compliment the expressive and emotive choreography.

The large expanse of the Lyric stage is perfect for Mimi Lien’s minimalist yet striking set, individual dancers stand behind chest height square panels, which swivel round and change from black to white, in effect winking at the audience. Peter Teigen’s lighting mirrors the changing colours and helps set the dramatic and intense mood creating together the perfect staging for Lang’s powerful piece. The dancers give faultless performances, Brandon Lawrence’s movement is seamless, Lang has worked closely with composer Jakub Ciupinski to ensure the themes and feelings of each piece echoes the mood of the sonnets. Whilst there are many elements of classical ballet, Wink delivers something fresh, exciting and delightfully contemporary.

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Next we have José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane – Variations on the theme of Othelle created in 1949 it remains to this day a classic of American modern dance. Stripped back to just four principal characters; The Moor, Iago, Emelia and Desdemona, Othello’s tragedy is beautifully told in this 20 minute quartet. Limón through his delightful descriptive choreography tells the tale of the unfortunate Moor, his wrongfully suspected wife, and the Moor’s devious friend and wife.

The quartet move fluidly in a close circle, Othello’s precious handkerchief being passed from hand to hand, the niceties and decorum of the stately court dance soon exposed to be merely a façade for the passion and jealously bubbling away underneath. There is no set, just our four dancers as the focal point on a darkened stage; they succeed beautifully in drawing our attention as the glide effortlessly with purpose and heartfelt meaning, expressive, passionate and exquisite.

The Dream_ Birmingham Royal Ballet; Oberon; Joseph Caley, Titania ; Nao Sakuma, Changeling Indian Boy; George Ring,  Puck; Mathias Dingman,  Bottom ; Jonathan Caguioa, Rustics; Alexander Bird, Feargus Campbell, Max Maslen, Valentin Olovyannikov, Lewis Tur

The final piece of this Shakespeare celebration is Frederick Ashton’s flirty and fun, The Dream. A 1964 one-act ballet telling the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream all set to a delightful Mendelssohn score. In stark contrast to Wink and The Moor’s Pavane, The Dream has a full and detailed set, we are transported to Peter Farmer’s magical forest and ushered into Oberon and Titania’s enchanted Kingdom, gently and beautifully lit by John B. Read.

The pace of the story telling is perfect as the ensemble cast usher us through the story charmingly, Mathias Dingman’s Puck is perfection, impish, playful and full of fun. Kit Holder makes for a delightful Bottom, comedic and as oafish as you could wish for. Special mention must also go to both César Morales and Momoko Hirata whose Oberon and Titania are quite simply enchanting.

The company excel in the utterly delightful and totally entertaining piece, fun, witty and classically beautiful. Birmingham Royal Ballet once again prove just what an exciting and dynamic company they truly are.

The Dream_ Birmingham Royal Ballet; Oberon; Joseph Caley, Titania ; Nao Sakuma, Changeling Indian Boy; George Ring,  Puck; Mathias Dingman,  Bottom ; Jonathan Caguioa, Rustics; Alexander Bird, Feargus Campbell, Max Maslen, Valentin Olovyannikov, Lewis Tur

https://www.brb.org.uk/