New Dirty Dancing Tour!

DD2

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will be returning to theatres in 2018!

The all new tour will open at Brighton’s Theatre Royal on Thursday 20 September 2018 before touring to Dartford, York, Stoke, Hastings, Southend, Birmingham, Preston, London (New Wimbledon Theatre) Plymouth and Oxford – with further dates to be announced.

Full of heartache, passion, sensational dance routines and all the classics including ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the ever popular  ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ this fan favourite returns due to popular demand having played to sold out audiences in 2016/17 taking an incredible £13 million in ticket sales!

Full casting is yet to be announced but you can guarantee this smash hit musical based on the iconic 1987 movie starring the incredible Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey will guarantee an unforgettable night out.

* Pictures used feature previous cast*

2018 TOUR DATES

Thu 20 – Sat 29 September

Brighton Theatre Royal

www.atgtickets.com/brighton

0844 871 7650

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

Mon 1 – Sat 6 October

Dartford Orchard Theatre

www.orchardtheatre.co.uk

01322 220 000

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am

 

Mon 8 – Sat 13 October

York Grand Opera House

www.atgtickets.com/york

0844 871 3024

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

Mon 15 – Sat 20 October

Stoke Regent Theatre

www.atgtickets.com/regent-theatre

0844 871 7649

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

Mon 22 – Sat 27 October

Hastings White Rock Theatre

www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk

01424 462 288

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am

 

Mon 29 October – Sat 3 November

Southend Cliffs Pavillion

www.southendtheatres.co.uk

01702 351 135

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am

 

Mon 5 – Sat 10 November

Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre

www.atgtickets.com/birmingham

0844 871 7647

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

Mon 12 – Sat 17 November

Preston Guild Hall

www.prestonguildhall.co.uk

01772 804 444

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am

 

Mon 19 – Sat 24 November

London New Wimbledon Theatre

www.atgtickets.com/new-wimbledon-theatre

0844 871 7646

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

Mon 26 November – Sat 1 December

Plymouth Pavilions

www.plymouthpavilions.co.uk

0845 146 1460

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am

 

Mon 3 – Sat 8 December

Oxford New Theatre

www.atgtickets.com/oxford

0844 871 3020

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

 

FURTHER DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED

Beautiful The Carole King Musical

Beautiful

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Since first premiering on Broadway in 2014, Beautiful The Carole King Musical has gone on to open in London, Tokyo & Sydney winning multiple awards along the way. Manchester audiences are lucky enough to have the show at the city’s Palace Theatre for the next four weeks offering festive theatregoers an wonderful alternative to traditional Pantos available at this time of year.

Telling the inspiring true story of Carole King’s incredible rise to fame from selling her first song as a teenager to her 70’s solo success headlining Carnegie Hall, Beautiful is an incredibly powerful, and enormously entertaining piece of theatre.

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The musical dedicates the perfect amount of time to King’s (Bronté Barbé) early career and skilfully explores the effect her relationship with writing partner & husband Gerry Goffin (Kane Oliver Parry) had upon their songwriting, this also extends to the influence of the couples competitive friendship with fellow songwriters Barry Mann (Matthew Gonsalves) and Cynthia Weil (Amy Ellen Richardson), both songwriting teams undeniably behind some of the sounds which without doubt helped shape popular music.

The back catalogue available to compliment Douglas McGrath’s book is almost embarrassingly brilliant having written for the likes of The Drifters, The Shirelles and Aretha Frankin the show features classic after classic including Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Up on the Roof, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling and You’ve Got a Friend to name but a few.

Beaut 3

Bronté Barbé as King is outstanding, sweet and soulful, she plays King with enormous heart and sensitivity, hugely likeable with a quiet inner strength that grows as her relationship with Goffin stumbles. Barb beautifully portrays a woman who knows her self worth and remains true to herself despite life’s challenges.

Kane Oliver Parry compliments Barbe perfectly, the chemistry between the two is fantastic as real life struggles take hold both deliver some exceptional acting. Special mention must also go to both Amy Ellen Richardson & Matthew Gonsalves, their partnership as Cynthia and Barry is a delight to watch.

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Beautiful further impresses with one of the best ensemble casts I’ve ever seen, slick, sharp and insanely talented each scene is a joyful celebration of incredible music. From the very first ensemble scene the sheer energy and talent on display gives a clear message that this show is something special.

Beautiful raises the bar for jukebox musicals and then some, in addition to the spine tingling performances is an enormously witty script which has the audience laughing out loud throughout. The care and attention given to this biography will no doubt ensure standing ovations night after night. Ultimately this is a story of hope and self belief whilst giving audiences a wonderful reminder of the incredibly emotional impact music can have, a truly joyful, must-see show.

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On at the Palace theatre until Saturday 6th January, tickets available here.

Dick Whittington

Dick W 2

Opening Night verdict 🎅🏼🎅🏼🎅🏼🎅🏼

Qdos Entertainment, the worlds biggest pantomime producer bring their magical production of Dick Whittington to Manchester’s Opera House this festive season.

Starring the hugely popular John Barrowman, an absolute  panto pro he has the audience in the palm of his hand from the off, whipping off his trousers to reveal the tightest pair of pants to ever grace the panto stage! Joining Barrowman are legendary double act, The Krankies, stalwarts of the cabaret circuit since the 70’s, Dick Whittington marks their seventh season alongside Barrowman and their on stage chemistry is electric.

Sprinkled with lots of adult humour Dick Whittington is high on audience interaction and chock-full of laughs as Dick (Barrowman) falls in love with Councillor Krankie’s (Ian Tough) daughter Alice (Lauren Hampton). dastardly King Rat (Phil Corbitt) however has other ideas as he tries his best to come between our lovebirds.

Dick W 3 Fun and frolics are high on the agenda as Barrowman greets the Manchester audience with an “Ey up chuck!” he is a highly entertaining, hugely charismatic, singing, dancing, innuendo spouting machine! Pair this with an outrageous performance from the Krankies and you really have got a match made in double entendre heaven. Lots to keep little ones and Mum & Dad highly amused with a few jokes perhaps a little too close to the bone for older children, who Mum and Dad may be desperately hoping don’t get certain jokes, let’s just say there could be some interesting conversations on the way home!

The rest of the sparkling cast compliment our leads perfectly with special mention to Jacqueline Hughes who delights as The Spirit of Bow Bells and Ryan Kayode as Tommy the Manc Tabby Cat who judging by the applause received was clearly an audience favourite too.

Dick W 1 As you’d expect there are ad libs galore particularly between the hilarious Krankies who remain sharp as a tack. Jeanette Tough, now aged 70 could give Debbie McGee a run for her money as she’s flung around the stage, barely stopping for breath and even ending up inside a giant sharks mouth!

The choreography is executed perfectly by the Company who are joined on stage by local children from the Stalder Academy of Dance.

Many of the usual panto traditions are here, there’s ghosts & ghoulies, silly songs and sparkly sets plus a surprise soaking for some audience members, however this is as Dick with no Dame which for me seemed an odd choice, please Qdos can we have our Dame back next year? Preferably Manchester favourite Eric Potts. The 3D section is enormously impressive but scared my young guests to the point of having to cover their faces, much too frightening for young children.

The cast have undeniable chemistry, particularly evident during an underwater version of 12 Days of Christmas, which has the audience in hysterics from start to finish.  The storyline is secondary to the madcap mayhem playing out before us as Dick Whittington entertains and delivers a highly memorable night, for some this may be classic ‘British humour’ that needs a little updating, there was no doubt however that Dick Whittington brought a lot of laughter and festive cheer to Manchester last night, it’s a cheeky, festive treat!

On at Manchester’s Opera House until Saturday 7th January, tickets available here.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland 2016 promo

Event City’s mega 22,000sq m of exhibition space has been transformed once again into a fabulously festive Winter Wonderland which will undoubtedly thrill young and old alike.

Now in its 5th consecutive year, Manchester’s biggest attraction boasts more rides than you can shake a candy cane at, as well as shows, festive food and drink and of course no Wonderland would be complete without the big man himself, Father Christmas! There are even a couple of very special guests to entertain the little ones this year in the form of classic children’s favourite’s, Rainbow’s George and Zippy!

Winter Wonderland 2

With over 50 rides and attractions all under one roof you really are spoilt for choice, from an indoor circus to classic fairground favourites Winter Wonderland quite literally has something for everyone, with the added bonus that everything (apart from food and drink) is included in your ticket price, so no need to worry about limiting the number of rides you go on or searching for loose change, you can enjoy the rides as many times as you like from the minute you arrive!

For the littlest members of the family there’s a baby chill out zone including large soft play area as well as a meet and greet with Santa, numerous toddler friendly rides with flashing lights and beeping horns which kept my little visitor entertained long past her usual bedtime and although this is Christmas you can even take a trip to the seaside at the giant sandpit. A huge positive is that sessions are limited to avoid overcrowding, which further added to our enjoyment of this incredibly magical place.

Winter Wonderland

For older children and adults there’s all the favourite classic rides you’d hope to see, the dodgems, the waltzers, hilarious bucking broncos and an enormously fun cyclone (which I’d advise going on before you enjoy one of the delicious bubble waffles!)

If this wasn’t enough there are lots of fabulous shows at various intervals throughout each session, Rainbow Live with Zippy & George, a fabulous Christmas Circus, The Ice Princesses, Jedi Knight Training, an all-new Daisy & Ollie Show from Cartoonito, as well as an opportunity to enjoy a Christmas Melt-Down – fun and dancing on the main stage with Winter Wonderlands crazy DJ!

Winter Wonderland 1

With tickets prices, £20.50* (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee) per ticket for adults and children aged 3-16 (under 3’s free) or £70 for a family of four, Winter Wonderland really is excellent value for money with each session lasting for four hours. My group and I left feeling festive and giggling about all the fun we’d had whilst planning our next visit to this magical place, an annual visit (or two) has quickly become one of our favourite Christmas traditions, with fun and lots of it guaranteed!

Open from 9th December 2017 until 1st January 2018, booking is highly recommended as some dates are already sold out, tickets are available here.

 

 

The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo 2

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tall Stories Theatre Company arrived at the Lowry’s Quay’s theatre this week for their month long run of the glorious Gruffalo.

This beautiful musical adaptation Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler classic picture book brings the animals of the deep, dark wood to life as we follow mouse (Lauren Scott-Berry) on her search for hazelnuts, during her journey through the woods mouse meets a mixture of woodland folk (all played wonderfully by Alastair Chisholm) including a cunning Fox, a supposed wise old Owl and a hilariously hypnotic Snake. All fancy a little bit of mouse for dinner but the clever little creature outwits them with the threat of the Gruffalo (Aaron Millard), but we all know there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo is there?

The Gruffalo 1

Tall Stories which was founded in 1997 by joint artistic directors Olivia Jacobs and TobyMitchell have excelled in translating this children’s classic from page to stage, each and every child in the audience entirely captivated from start to finish. The tree actors work together beautifully as they enchant the young audience, characters are differentiated through a variety of voices, movements and simple but very effective costumes. The short book has been perfectly padded out to ensure an hour of quality entertainment including a dancing snake, a bossy old owl and if you’re lucky you may even get the Gruffalo sat beside you!

Gruffalo 1

The delight on the children’s faces for the entirety of the show is worth the tickets price alone, with wonderful audience interaction, a charmingly authentic set, sweet and simple songs the Gruffalo is the perfect family festive treat!

On at the Lowry until Sunday 7th January tickets available here.

Around The World In 80 Days

80 Days

Who knew that we could take a trip around the world without even having to leave Salford?

Laura Eason’s fast-paced adaptation of the Jules Verne’s classic novel sailed into Salford last night, as it continues its Christmas run at the Lowry theatre.

The 1872 classic tells the story of the mysteriously wealthy Phileas Fogg (Andrew Pollard), who puts his life savings on a bet that he can travel around the world in just 80 days, whilst avoiding the devious Inspector Fix (Dennis Herdman), who believes he’s a bank robber.

Passepartout is Fogg’s lovable companion, played by Michael Hugo who certainly knows how to steal a show. Hugo and Passepartout are a match made in heaven, superbly displaying his skills as an actor, from martial arts to his improvisation with unfortunate members of the audience – which was particularly impressive.

80 Days 1

Director, Theresa Heskins pieced the whole show together in a staggering 25 days and the hard work has truly paid off as she’s transported the classic book onto stage effortlessly.

The brilliance that is set designer, Lis Evans can’t go unmentioned either. Evans easily transports us around the globe with her simplistic set design of suitcases and maps. These objects may seem relatively uninteresting, however in this case with the help of choreographer Beverly Edmunds, the duo manage to turn a set of old battered suitcases into stairs, trains and even boats with the blink of an eye.

80 Days 3

A talented ensemble of only eight actors play a globe’s worth of more than 100 different characters. The strong cast work like a well oiled machine, switching seamlessly between not only characters but countries too. One moment we’re in France and the next (with a change of a hat) we’re whisked away to Italy.

The intimate Quays Theatre at the Lowry is the perfect setting for this well-loved classic. Even without the use microphones and an audience filled with young children, sound projection was never an issue.

Eight actors, 125 characters, eight countries, six trains, five boats, four fights, a circus and an elephant all crammed into a two-hour show – we’re exhausted just thinking about it.

You can join Philleas Fogg and Passepartout in their race against time at the Lowry Theatre until January 7th 2018 tickets available here.

 

*Reviewed by Opening Night guest reviewer Francesca Eagleton*

Interview – Sting | The Last Ship

Sting

Undoubtedly one of the most successful UK artists of all time having sold millions of records, won every award & prestigious accolade imaginable including multiple Grammy’s, Brits, a Golden Globe, 4 Oscar’s nominations, an induction to the Hollywood walk of fame and a CBE to name but a few, Sting has now set his sights on musical theatre with the self-penned, The Last Ship. We were lucky enough to be invited to an intimate launch of the musical which docks at the Lowry Theatre from 3rd July 2018.

Sting may have come a long way since his childhood days spent in the shadows of the shipyard in Tyneside but he has never forgotten his roots. In writing The Last Ship Sting rediscovers the impact industrialisation & loss of identity has on a town and it’s inhabitants. As a child Sting thought of the shipyard as a dark and dangerous place, his biggest fear that he would end up there, unable to fulfil his dreams of being a singer. “Many years later I realised I owed a debt to my community, a community who’d had their incredible skills set thrown on the scrap heap, their dignity in working taken away, I wanted to explore what happens when you take this away, economics does not exist without community.”

Not strictly autobiographical but certainly very influenced by Sting’s childhood, lead character Gideon has turned his back on his hometown, leaving to become a sailor, after 17 years away her returns to reconnect with a lost love, however tensions between his past and his future flare as the once proud town he left is now a community in demise as the local shipyard is closing and fear for the economic stability of the town is overwhelming.

Sting 1

Of the story Sting said “I know how difficult it is to write an original story, many musicals are based on stories we already know, films, even cartoons but I wanted to take on that challenge, it was fun, it was hard-work, inspiring, challenging, disappointing, thrilling so many emotions, almost like a ship, there are so many moving parts and elements that need to come together, effectively you are the captain of the ship. It was hugely challenging but also so much fun.”

The musical has a very strong sense of regional identity, having lived away from the North East for so many years now Sting feels he is in the perfect place to look from the outside in, “I live an international life, I’m from a community but I live outside of it which to me feels like a good place to be impartial and give a voice to a community who maybe don’t have one.”

Giving his childhood community a voice is clearly a huge driving force behind The Last Ship as well as the emotional debt Sting feels he has to pay. “I was formed by the North East, my engine of ambition was created there, I was very lucky to be able to do what I did and it was only through good fortune when I left at aged 18/19 that I was able to, I am enormously grateful for the environment in which I was raised. It was rich and full of symbolism, the launching of a ship makes me tearful even now, something so enormous being launched by the hands of its makers, the workers of the town, happy and proud of what they have created yet at the same time anxious at when their next job might be.”

Sting 2

Sting explained what drove him to take on the challenge of musical theatre, “I’m undoubtedly driven by curiosity, driven always by the thought of ‘What’s next?’ I never want to keep pressing the same buttons, creativity is an elusive animal, hunting creativity means putting yourself out of your comfort zone, I’m not driven by success but driven by my own curiosity, I’m an eternal student.”

After a runs on Broadway, Chicago, Salt Lake City and now Finland, Sting explained how the piece has been altered slightly for the UK and Ireland tour which opens in Newcastle in March. “I felt the show needed slightly refitting for this tour, it’s more political than it was on Broadway, the struggle of the men takes precedence here as opposed to the love story which was very much focussed on for Broadway. Once I’d started with the characters the songs then came very, very quickly, almost like it was stored up deep inside, a story just waiting to be released. I’ve never been so passionate about anything I’ve done.”

Directed by Lorne Campbell with set design by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions The Last Ship promises to a powerful, emotional and inspiring piece of theatre. Steeped in the proud history of the North with a stunning score, melodic folk music as well as rousing ensemble numbers The Last Ship starring Jimmy Nail sails into the Lowry from Tuesday 3rd July 2018, tickets available here