The Loves of Others


We’ve all been there, that awkward moment when you witness a couple have blazing row, it could be  friends of yours, or complete strangers, I once saw a couple verbally massacre each other in the snacks and nibbles isle at Tesco  the night before Christmas Eve, it was embarrassing, crass, but most of all entertaining. Well imagine that multiplied by three and the genesis of the latest offering from play write Alex Keelan, The Loves of Others.

Set during two separate dinner parties held a year apart, we are treated to an insight in the lives of 3 couple’s lives: we have the host and hostess of the party Max (Dan Jefferies) Leanne (Alexandra Maxwell), he’s a boozy hangover from the ‘Loaded’ generation, and she’s Hyacinth Bucket only on Facebook. There are Tina (Amy Forrest) and her partner Dave (William J Holstead), she has a few confidence issues, and he’s a bit laid back to deal with them. Finally there is Vic (Alice Proctor) and Ike (Kyle Walker), she’s strong willed and feisty, he’s a people pleaser. As both dinner parties continue, relationships become more fractured, friendships and boundaries are pushed to the limit.


The script is a fine blend of acerbic put downs, and on point observations, whilst at times dealing with dark subjects including abuse, grief and prejudice Whilst some may feel dissatisfied with the rather abrupt ending, I rather enjoyed that the play left it’s characters dealing with their issues as opposed to resolving them: like a snapshot into their world.

There are fine solid performances throughout from all 6 actors: however I find that none of their characters were particular likeable, just as you begin warming to one of them, they’ll do or say something that will just grate on you. Director Kayleigh Hawkins certainly works her cast hard; with full costume and scene changes throughout neither which detract from the story. There is no interval either so the play never loses momentum allowing the lighter moments to shine through, whilst enabling the tension build and the mood to darken.


The promotional material claims The Loves of Others to be “A Modern Northern Abigail’s Party”, which will certainly draw in the punters, but may also mean that the two could be unfairly compared. This is a funny, brave, ambitious, and at times miserable look at modern British life, a hark back to the Great British kitchen sink dramas, only replacing the kitchen sink with a selfie, and a bottle of vino! 

Spelling Bee Preview

Spelling Bee

Following on from last year’s success of Urinetown The Musical, Side by Side Productions return next week to Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre with a charming and funny production of the Tony Award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Ever wonder what’s going through the adolescent minds of those endearing, quirky Spelling Bee champs? Six awkward spellers learn that winning (and losing) isn’t everything as they vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. In hilarious, touching, and catchy songs by William Finn, each speller reveals his/her hopes, struggles, and passions as they make their way through the competition. Even audience members are invited to challenge the six competitors!

Director Mal Wallace said “Spelling Bee is a fantastic musical which is rarely produced and the exceptionally talented cast and production team are a joy to work with. Judging by the hilarity that is constant through every rehearsal the audience are in for a real treat!”

Spelling Bee contains mature themes and language.

Follow Side by Side Productions on Twitter for futher info: @sbsprodutions #SpellingBeeMCR and head to www.ticketsource.co.uk/sidebysideproductions to book your tickets!

Hope Mill Theatre

Tue 25 – Fri 28 July 2017

Tickets from £13

Dirty Dancing

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Dirty Dancing is back (and we’re loving it)!

The famous Patrick Swayze film of the 80’s, waltzed back into Manchester last night, to a room filled with predominantly females, and all round die-hard Dirty Dancing fans, who certainly weren’t disappointed.

Set in the 60’s, the stage show sees 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman at Kellerman’s holiday camp with her family. After befriending the staff, she quickly finds herself developing a crush on the gorgeous dance instructor, Johnny Castle (played famously by Patrick Swayze in the film). When Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, has to miss an important performance, Baby gets thrown in at the deep end and steps in. The rest is history.

Adapting a well-known classic such as this one onto stage seems like a mammoth task, but in this instance it certainly paid off. The show is an almost seamless copy of the film; from the music to the costumes and not forgetting those iconic film quotes.

From, ‘come here lover boy,’ to ‘I carried a watermelon,’ this show has it all. But nothing got a bigger reaction from the audience in Manchester than, ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’, which got more squeals of delight than the numerous times that Lewis Griffiths (Johnny) took his top off – it even had some people jumping out of their seats!

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Griffiths seriously was a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire show, as he played the moody, and at times mean, Johnny Castle. Leaping and spinning his way across the stage, the audience were exhausted just watching him. With his smoldering looks, and athletic body (that certainly didn’t go amiss), he was the perfect person for the role and lived up to the memory of Swayze.

Katie Eccles took on the lead role of “Baby,” skilfully portraying the character’s journey from a naïve teenager, that can barely put one foot in front of the other, to a mature and raunchy dancer. As suspected the dancing majorly outweighed the acting, but when you’re being flung into the air like a rag doll and your head is millimeters away from the ground, Eccles can be forgiven.

The show’s set design is very cleverly constructed with a revolving stage that allows each scene to flow seamlessly from one to the other. The use of lighting and sound effects were also key factors within the show – a clap of thunder and the use of strobe lighting transported us into a thunder storm, a clever device to lead us into the famous lake scene.

A projection of a lake is used for the scene were Johnny is teaching Baby that all important lift, a true moment in the film that captures the couple’s relationship. However, whether or not this was the intention, in the show this scene is turned into a more comical feature. Admittedly, it seems somewhat difficult to portray a lift in water, without there actually being any water.

The show is filled with all the iconic songs from the film’s soundtrack, including “Hungry Eyes”, “Hey! Baby” and “Love Man” with the powerhouse Sophia Mackay astounding the audience by belting out song after song with such ease. A special mention must also go to Carlie Milner who played a perfect Penny Johnson, with legs that seemed to go on for days and awe-inspiring flexibility that made the women in the audience green with envy.

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From catchy music that we all know and love, to thrilling dance moves, and sizzling sexiness, this show is the definition of a feel good show. There’s no doubt that you’ll leave with a smile on your face and humming the songs in your head for at least the next few days.

Rightfully greeted with a standing ovation, the entire cast really did look like they were having ‘the time of their lives!’

Dirty Dancing runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 22nd July.

Review by Opening Night guest writer Francesca Eagleton

 

 

Bishop Paul new Liverpool Pride Parton

Liverpool Pride announced this week that their new Patron for 2017’s festival which takes place over two packed days this month will be The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Paul Bayes.

Bishop Paul, says he is delighted to back the region’s established annual celebration of all things LGBT+, and is looking forward to taking part in this year’s festivities.

The festival which takes place on Saturday 29 July and Sunday 30 July, in its eighth consecutive year. 2017 sees an exciting star-studded line-up in a bid to make the free event a colourful and vibrant celebration of all things LGBT+.

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets for the annual Liverpool Pride March on Saturday 29 July as it weaves its way around the city centre. Bishop Paul will be among those invited to speak at the Muster outside St George’s Hall ahead of the parade beginning.

As well as headliners Atomic Kitten taking to the main Barclays Festival stage there will be a busy line-up of Pride Community events across the city including exhibitions, workshops, music, literature, theatre and Pride at the Pictures, something for everyone to enjoy.


Meanwhile a host of Liverpool landmarks will be lit in rainbow colours as part of the Come Out of the Shadows initiative, helping make Liverpool the most visibly LGBT+ city in the UK.

Bishop Paul said: “Ever since the tragic death of Michael Causer, Liverpool Pride has stood for the struggle for justice as well as the celebration of LGBTI+ life in our city and region. I am privileged to identify with Pride’s contribution to tackling prejudice and promoting awareness of the richness of our LGBTI+ community. As a Christian, I really believe that Jesus wants a community where all are included and free from fear. “Now we all know that the Christian church in general, and the Church of England as part of that, can get itself into a twist over inclusion and equality issues. I myself have been advocating in the church for LGBTI+ inclusion, and all Christians have to agree that homophobia and hate crime are evil and are to be resisted.

“At the recent meeting of our General Synod the Church of England made some clear and positive statements resisting so-called conversion therapy and exploring services of welcome for trans people who want their true identity to be recognised before God.

“When I came to Liverpool three years ago and met LGBTI+ Christians across Merseyside, and in particular our Open Table LGBTI+ Christian community, I saw again the real joy we can know as a church when we are open and welcoming to all.” 

Liverpool Pride’s Lucy Day added: “We are all delighted that the Bishop is to be a patron of Liverpool Pride, and we welcome him to the Liverpool Pride family. We’re very much looking forward to him joining us at Pride weekend this month.

“Pride respects people of all religious beliefs.”

Keep up to date with Liverpool Pride announcements and plan your festival weekend at:

Website www.liverpoolpride.co.uk

Facebook: LiverpoolPride

Twitter: @LiverpoolPride

 

The Salford Belles

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Jack Land Nobel’s darkly comedic soap opera The Salford Belles is headed to Hope Mill Theatre from tomorrow as part of The Greater Manchester Fringe this month.

First staged as The Barnsley Belles by the Yorkshireman Company back in July 2013 and now given a Salfordian twist by LS Theatre Productions, The Salford Belles promises to be a little like an episode of Coronation Street screened way, way after the watershead!

We meet Queenie, Mary and Martha who are all are at their wits end after a lifetime of cooking, cleaning, caring and conspiring. They are all desperate for change – but at what cost? Join The Salford Belles in this hilarious dark comedy and discover what goes on behind closed doors when the washing’s brought in from the rain and the curtains are drawn.

Catch the show from Monday 17th July until Saturday 22nd at Hope Mill Theatre, tickets available via the link below;

http://www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk/index.php#startlisting

 

 

The Marriage of Kim K


A combination of a musical about the failed marriage of Kim Kardashian and Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ really shouldn’t work but somehow Northern music/theatre duo Leoe & Hyde have created a little piece of magic here, ensuring a monster hit for fringe production, The Marriage of Kim K.

At the centre of the story we have Amelia, (played superbly by Amelia Gabriel) and Stephen (portrayed wonderfully by director and composer of the piece Stephen Hyde), a couple who are poles apart in their ideas on what makes for a relaxing night in front of the TV, something which ultimately affects the harmony of their whole relationship. Amelia will happily watch, and watch, and watch reality TV Queen Kim Kardashain while Stephen’s idea of heaven is immersing himself in the works of Mozart, regardless of whether he understands what is being said or not.


As our couple sit centre stage fighting for control of the TV remote a look into the life of Kim K begins to take place stage left whilst The Marriage of Figaro emerges to our right. The staging of this piece is wonderfully creative, with witty lyrics and outstanding orchestration, sharp observations are played out to great effect.

As Kim (played brilliantly by Yasemin Mireille), becomes increasingly bored of life with Kris (portrayed superbly by the hilarious James Edge) we see perhaps that reality TV isn’t too different from real life as Amelia and Stephen become increasingly frustrated and fed up with each other. Cut to the Marriage of Figaro and life isn’t too rosy here either as Count Almaviva (played by the charismatic and comedic Nathan Bellis) is increasingly testing his Countess (portrayed beautifully by Emily Burnett) with his dalliances and downright bad behaviour. We soon begin to realise that life is pretty similar for us all, whether you’re from revolutionary France, glamorous LA or sat on your sofa scrapping over the TV remote here in the UK.


The whole cast deliver outstanding performances, Leoe Mercer has gifted each character with witty and well observed lyrics which offer many laugh out loud moments as we realise just how absurd life can be whether that be as a grand Countess or a struggling composer, and how deep down we’re not so different after all, allowing the three very different stories to perfectly intertwine. The addition of a live orchestra really makes this a stand out piece, Stephen Hyde’s score adapted from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is beautiful and sets perfectly the pace and flow of the on stage action.

Together Leoe & Hyde have created an absolute gem of a show, witty, beautifully crafted and superbly delivered. Book your tickets here www.marriageofkimk.com/tickets.html

 

 

 

Brazilica Carnival hits Liverpool!

Brazilica Parade Crowd Scene - smallA carnival atmosphere will take over the streets of Liverpool this weekend as Brazilica prepares to bring Rio-style colour and music to the city centre!

The 10th annual Brazilica – the UK’s biggest Brazilian Samba Carnival – is a fabulous three-day festival of all things Latino, promising pulsating samba rhythms, fantastic food, entertaining and thought-provoking film, and not forgetting of course dazzling carnival costumes!

One of the absolute highlights of the entire festival is the Carnival Parade, which takes place this Saturday 15 July. Thousands are expected to line the streets to watch the parade as it makes its way from Abercromby Square to Williamson Square, filling the air with colour, music and fun as it passes by in a blaze of feathers, sequins and energetic samba bands.

Starting from Abercromby Square at 8pm, the parade will turn on to Oxford Street and then left on to Hope Street. It will then turn right by the Philharmonic pub and will then follow Hardman Street downhill before moving onto Bold Street. The Parade will then continue into Church Street, before finishing in Williamson Square – a new location for 2017.

The entire Parade will be led by the newly-crowned Carnival Queen, who will be chosen during a hotly-fought competition evening at PANAM on the Albert Dock the night before.

Bascillica route

Details of the parade have been released and will include music and dance from more than a dozen amazing Samba bands including Grupo Sambafriq, Katumba, Paraiso School of Samba, G.R.E.S. Cidade Brilhaute, Manchester School of Samba, Liverpool Samba School, Baque Ogun, Oxiris Wirral School of Samba, Som de Meio, Arco Iris, Karamba Samba, Batala Mersey and Worldwide Samba Drummers & Preston Samba Dancers, ensuring the parade will capture true Brazilian flare, colour and carnival spirit! Meanwhile the samba party will continue until the early hours with the official Brazilica After Party taking place at Camp and Furnace on Saturday 15 July from 10pm – 4am, featuring carnival DJs and live music. Entry £5.

Maeve Morris, festival director, said: “This is the 10th anniversary of Brazilica and we can promise Liverpool a fantastic carnival atmosphere all weekend, with a non-stop party on the main stage at our new location at the Pier Head Village down on the marvellous Mersey waterfront.

“The Carnival Parade on Saturday evening is always a real highlight of Brazilica, and I promise this year will be no exception with a host of brilliant samba and carnival bands and some truly fantastic costumes on display making it a must-see event.”

For details of the full Brazilica 2017 programme be sure to check out the Brochure: http://bit.ly/2tuw3LF

Keep up to date with all Brazilica Festival activity at:

http://www.brazilicafestival.com

http://www.facebook.com/brazilicafestival

Twitter – @BrazilicaFest