Ghost

Ghost 1

Bill Kenwright Productions brings Ghost the Musical to the Lowry stage this week as the last stop on its UK and Ireland tour which began at the New Wimbledon Theatre back in September 2016.

Based on Bruce Joel Rubin’s much loved 1990 film, starring the legendary Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, with music by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, and lyrics from Grammy Award winner Glen Ballard, Ghost the Musical tells the tragic love story of Brooklyn residents Sam (Andy Moss) and Molly (Kelly Hampson) whose lives are torn apart when Sam is tragically murdered in the street in a robbery gone wrong. As Sam watches the scene of his death from a distance he realises he has become stuck between two worlds, torn away from his idyllic life and one true love, Sam soon realises this was no tragic accident and his beloved Molly too is in danger, he must find a way to connect and ultimately protect her. His method of protection takes on the form of the outrageous, hilarious and hugely entertaining psychic and spiritual healer, Oda Mae Brown (Jacqui Dubois).

Ghost 4

Kelly Hampson covering the role of Molly tonight on behalf of the indisposed Carolyn Maitland (get well Carolyn) does a fine job, her voice is sweet and strong and the chemistry between her and Sam (Andy Moss) endearing, she embodies the grief of losing her lover tenderly and with real heart. Moss makes for an enormously likeable Sam, fun, playful, and full of life, making the scenes where he realises he has died all the more poignant. His commitment to protecting his love from danger is hugely moving while his interactions with Oda Mae (Jacqui Dubois) are simply brilliant. Dubois was born to play Oda Mae Brown, bold, brash, outrageous and full of attitude she is a joy to watch with razor sharp comic timing Whoopi Goldberg would be proud of.

Ghost 3

The staging of this production allows for some clever effects and the strong supporting cast directed by Bob Thomson deliver fine performances with special mention to both James Earl Adair and Gerry Lee Netley who play the hospital ghost and subway ghost superbly.

Ghost 2

Ghost is a highly entertaining show, with beautiful music and solid performances, you will most certainly laugh, quite probably cry and as soon as you get home will be digging out that old DVD when you remember just how much you love this beautiful story. An engaging and beautifully delivered production.

On at the Lowry until Saturday 29th April, tickets available here!

https://www.thelowry.com/events/-ghost-the-musical

 

Running Wild

RW

War Horse author Michael Morpurgo has created yet another stunning story which has now been adapted for stage, this time aimed at a younger audience.

Running Wild tells the tale of 9-year old Lilly (Jemima Bennett) who is struggling to come to terms with recent death of father, a soldier in Afghanistan. To ease her loss her Grandma suggests she takes a trip with her Mum to Indonesia for Christmas to make new memories and get the chance to ride her favourite animal, the elephant. When a tsunami hits the island though tragedy strikes again and Lilly is whisked off into the jungle on the back of Oona the elephant and about to face some of the biggest challenges of her life.

RW 1

Morpurgo based Running Wild on real life events he read about in a newspaper back in 2004, when a tsunami hit Sri Lanka killing over 300,000 people. Out of all that tragedy came a shining light – an uplifting story of a little boy who got stranded in the jungle after the elephant he was riding on charged off as soon as the quake hit, saving the boys’ life in the process.

RW 3

In the stage adaption by Samuel Adamson the boy in the book becomes a girl, played during this Children’s Touring Partnership production by three alternate young actresses. Jemima Bennett played Lilly on the night we saw Running Wild and gave a polished performance as the feisty tomboy. Bennett takes on the huge role with a professionalism beyond her young years, and demonstrates Lilly’s sheer determination to survive everything the jungle throws in her way.

RW 2

There’s a plethora of spectacular puppets on display created by former War Horse Puppetry designers and directors Fin Caldwell and Toby Olie; from Sumatran tigers, to crocodiles and Orangutans. All of them are beautiful crafted and expertly handled by the talented team of puppeteers that bring them to life onstage and give them a heart and soul.

James Whiteside compliments the thrilling action with his atmospheric lighting design which evokes the mood changes of each scene perfectly. Whiteside effectively uses frantic flashes of strip lighting to signify danger and beautiful firefly-esq lights that highlight moments of serenity.

RW 5

Running Wild isn’t a sugar coated ‘George of the Jungle’ story you might expect it to be, in parts it is quite upsetting and, for the younger children in the audience, a bit scary (I’d advise to ignore the guidance of age 6+ to be safe and take those aged 8 upwards). However, it is also a play that excites with its adventure and manages to leave both children and adults with some important moral messages about our society today and our relationship with animals.

Runs at The Lowry, Salford until 22nd April. Tickets available here; http://www.thelowry.com/events/running-wild

 

 

Cyrano

Cyrano 3

Northern Broadsides together with New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme bring their swashbuckling tale of the legendary Cyrano De Bergerac to the Lowry this week in a newly adapted production from award-winning playwright Deborah McAndrew. Delivered in verse and littered with delightful blasts of baroque music director/ composer Conrad Nelson’s Cyrano is a gloriously fun interpretation of Edmond Rostand’s romantic comedy about unrequited love.

Husband and wife team McAndrew and Nelson stage this European classic with wit and regional charm and although we are in Paris amidst the golden age of the musketeers it is warm Northern voices which deliver the verse. A hint of “Robin Hood Men in tights” in its bold and clever comedy this new adaptation is bright and brilliant.

Cyrano 2

Christian Edward makes for a charismatic and commanding Cyrano, entirely confident and cool unless his massive conk gets a mention. Retired to his fate that he’ll never find love with a hooter so large Cyrano becomes third wheel in the fledgling relationship of the blindingly beautiful Roxanne (Sharon Singh) and the ever so handsome Christian (Adam Barlow). Cyrano releases his inner longings for Roxanne onto parchment which she is led to believe comes from the hand of the perfectly formed Christian, who sadly flunked school when it came to prose. It is only many years later Roxanne learns the truth and realises the man she loves has been nose to nose with her for her entire life, quite literally.

Cyrano 4

Edwards is exceptional as Cyrano, instantly likeable with bucket loads of swagger he is proud and combative but really loveable at heart. Throughout the piece we see drunken poet Ligniere (Michael Hugo) act almost as a narrator, vocalising the woes of our characters and commentating on the pains that are the Parisian nobles, Hugo is brilliant fun, entertaining and very witty. Francesca Mills takes on multiple roles and is exceptional in all, quick witted and engaging she makes for an excellent pick-pocket sidekick to our hero Cyrano.

Cyrano 1

Northern Broadsides have succeeded in making their Cyrano both cheeky and passionate, the entire ensemble cast work brilliantly together, with laughs a plenty as well as tender and touching moments Cyrano has got it all, wit, vigour and the most impressive hooter you’ll ever see!

On at the Lowry until Saturday 22nd April tickets available here; https://www.thelowry.com/events/cyrano

Boris – The Musical

Main_BoristheMusical_HeatherIsobel

Established in June 2016 as a response to the Brexit referendum, Blowfish Theatre brought their satirical comedy-musical about the rise, fall and unfortunate rise again of politiclown Boris Johnson to a packed out Dance House theatre last night.

Directed by Kyle Williams and writer Laurence Peacock, Boris – the Musical is a great fun show which gently illustrates just how bonkers the world of politics truly is whilst offering many, many laughs along the way.

2_BoristheMusical_HeatherIsobel

David Burchhardt, is excellent in the role of Boris, his portrayal is weirdly accurate even down to the hideous blond thatch, he greets audience members on their way into the theatre in true bumbling and bombastic Boris style. He is energetic and engaging as he commentates on his life story being acted out on stage. We follow Boris through his days at Eaton and Oxford with a visit to the Bullingdon Club as this political romp illustrates just how ridiculous our political leaders really are. We meet snooty and condescending ‘Dave’ Cameron as well as the painfully ambitious Michael Gove, continually waiting in the wings for political puppet Johnson to stuff up.

3_BoristheMusical_HeatherIsobel

Liz Kearney and Polly Bycroft-Brown take on several roles in the production including Dave and Gove, both have great stage presence and strong vocals which really compliment Burchhardt ‘s bungling Boris. With songs such as Born to Rule, Super Mayor and a hilarious Sound of Music reincarnation in the form of How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Boris, Blowfish theatre offer a sharp observation of the calamity that is Boris Johnson and the absolutely absurd political landscape he currently resides in. A great fun and hugely entertaining piece, highly recommended.

Boris – The Musical will be returning to Manchester in July for three dates at the city’s Z-arts venue on 27th, 28th & 29th July before heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe festival tickets available here; www.boristhemusical.com

Jane Eyre

3

First staged at the Bristol Old Vic, where the story was performed over two evenings, director Sally Cookson brings her acclaimed production on tour, presenting Bronte’s much loved classic as a thrilling and inventive performance beautifully staged in the Lowry’s Lyric theatre.

6

While many will be familiar with the story of Jane Eyre for some it’s one of those novels that you may have always intended to read but never quite got there, it is the biography of orphan girl Jane Eyre (Nadia Clifford) and bares striking similarity to Brontë’s own life, raised in the North of England Jane is taken in by her Uncle after the heartbreaking death of her parents, much to the disgust of his cruel wife, Jane’s Aunt, Mrs Reed (Lynda Rooke). When Jane’s Uncle becomes unwell, he asks Mrs Reed to promise to raise Jane as her own, sadly although she provides a house for Jane to dwell in she certainly doesn’t offer the love and warmth of the promised home subjecting Jane to a life of misery and abuse from not just her Aunt but her Cousins as well. At 10 years old she shipped off to Lowood, a school for orphaned girls, where she continues to experience a cruel and unforgiving life, despite this Jane manages to form a strong bond with her school friend Helen Burns (Hannah Bristow), tragedy however is never far away and Jane suffers more gut-wrenching loss.

7

Eventually Jane becomes a teacher at Lowood but yearns for change and adventure, she advertises herself as a Governess and is soon summoned to Thornfield Hall to educate Edward Rochester’s (Tim Delap) French ward Adele. As the developing friendship between Jane and Rochester begins to build strange happenings within the house start to occur risking both the safety and the future of both Jane and Rochester.

9

The staging of this production is immediately striking upon entering the theatre; set designer Michael Vale uses wooden pallets to create various levels and platforms accompanied by multiple ladders and steps which are used to maximum effect by the cast. Aideen Malone’s lighting design is bold and dynamic, creating and changing the atmosphere dramatically throughout the production.

4

The small cast take on a multitude of roles throughout the play and are magnificent, their characterisation outstanding and utterly captivating. They strive to ensure we see Brontë’s work is just as relevant today as it was then; they deliver each and every character with commitment and style. The piece feels fresh and inspiring as the spirited and strong Jane fights for her own freedom and fulfilment. Jane is told early on in the play after being punished by her Aunt in the red room, “Perhaps you should learn to keep your passions under control” something we soon realise is a thing Jane in order to be true to herself could never do. Nadia Clifford is superb in the role of Jane, yearning for liberty and adventure her spirit is strong and her need for fulfilment, physically, spiritually and mentally never wavers. Clifford is mesmerising, charismatic and captivating you immediately warm to her and are desperate for her to succeed. Sally Cookson uses several cast members to verbalise Jane’s inner thoughts, this works beautifully, illustrating just how strong and determined Jane truly is as she battles with herself to do what she believes is right as heart-breaking as it may be.

8

Melanie Marshall as Bertha Mason, the ‘lunatic in the attic,’ is superb, frequently appearing through musical interludes her vocals are hauntingly brilliant and pack a real punch. The effect feels almost like a musical narrative, with hugely inventive and highly original song choices that flow beautifully from one scene to the next offering more depth to an already magnificent production. The entire cast give their all; they make for a tight ensemble and move fluidly from one role to the next, accompanied by on stage musicians who add a further creative layer to this inventive piece.

10

Jane Eyre is a truly exceptional piece of theatre, groundbreaking and utterly captivating. Brontë’s much loved masterpiece is delivered with freshness and intelligence, you can’t help but think how pleased she would be to see her Jane portrayed with such heart and soul. The National Theatre in partnership with Bristol Old Vic once again succeed in bringing a true masterpiece to life, full of passion, intensity and originality, an absolute must see.

Photo credits Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

On at the Lowry until Saturday 15th April https://www.thelowry.com/events/jane-eyre

Miss Saigon returns to Manchester!

Miss S 5Hot on the heels of yesterday’s exciting Matilda announcement Cameron Mackintosh has today announced that Miss Saigon will land at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 21th March 2018 and will stay in the city for a total of 7 weeks until 12th May 2018, with tickets going on sale on 18 May. www.miss-saigon.com

Mackintosh also announced the principal casting of his acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical, Red Concepcion will play ‘The Engineer’, Sooha Kim ‘Kim’, Ashley Gilmour ‘Chris’, Zoë Doano ‘Ellen’ and Gerald Santos ‘Thuy’. At certain performances ‘Kim’ will be played by Joreen Bautista.

Here at Opening Night we’re thrilled to hear that Barnaby Hughes most recently seen in Hope Mill Theatre’s stunning production Yank! will be amongst the cast, huge congratulations Barnaby!

Miss S 6

Miss Saigon tells the heart-wrenching story of the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.  The show has since been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

Tickets will be in huge demand for this epic production, we are thrilled to say in Manchester the heat is most definitely on!

MISS SAIGON UK TOUR 2017/2018

www.miss-saigon.com

 

MONDAY 3 JULY – SATURDAY 22 JULY 2017

CURVE, LEICESTER

www.curveonline.co.uk – 0116 242 3595

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 26 JULY – SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2017

BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME

www.birminghamhippodrome.com – 0844 338 5000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2017

BORD GAIS ENERGY THEATRE, DUBLIN

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie – +353 (1) 677 7999

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2017 – SATURDAY 6 JANUARY 2018

WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF

www.wmc.org.uk – 029 2063 6464

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY – SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2018

FESTIVAL THEATRE EDINBURGH

www.edtheatres.com – 01315296000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2018

MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON

www.mayflower.org.uk – 02380 711811

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018

MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester/0844 871 3019

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 16 MAY – SATURDAY 23 JUNE 2018

THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME

www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/0844 871 3012

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 4 JULY – SATURDAY 4 AUGUST 2018

THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

http://www.theatreroyal.com/01752 267222 ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST – SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL

www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk  01603 63 00 00

ON SALE 21 AUGUST

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

babe-1

Based on the best-selling book by legendary children’s author Dick King-Smith, which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig is brought to life on the Quays stage in the most enchanting and charming of ways in Polka theatre’s delightful new production.

Babe arrives at the Lowry as part of an extensive UK tour which will see our little piglet entertain audiences from Salford to Southend with many stops along the way. Directed by Michael Fentiman whose previous productions include The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus (RSC), and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Kensington Gardens). Babe is a story of perseverance, friendship, understanding and bravery. When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm as a proposed addition to Christmas dinner he is taken under the wing of loyal sheep-dog Fly and soon discovers a talent for herding, (once he eventually works out his own unique way of encouraging the sheep on the farm to do things his way). But as cute as our little piggy is can he make it in a dog’s world? Will Babe be the hero of the hour when his farmyard friends are in trouble? Will Mrs Hogget find an alternative pork free recipe for their festive feast? That we won’t tell you, you’ll have to head down to the Lowry to find out!

babe-3

We will tell you however how truly enchanted we were by this beautiful production, the stunning hand-crafted puppets, created by award-winning puppet designer Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, were expertly brought to life by the talented cast who delivered a masterclass in puppeteering and performance, the children in the audience were truly captivated.

babe-2

Madeleine Girling’s stage design sweeps you away to a countryside farm as cast members reside on the stage dressed as fluffy sheep, baah-ing and chomping on hay. The incredible puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes really makes you feel that the residents of Hogget’s Farm have come to life before you, so good is their fluidity and characterisation you soon begin to believe you really are down on the farm. The joy this production brings to its young audience is utterly heart-warming, the small cast deliver this production with heart and soul and the importance of true kindness and real friendship shines through. Babe will warm your heart, fill you with joy and remind you of just how much good there is in the world.

On at the Lowry until Saturday 15th April https://www.thelowry.com/events/babe