Michael Clark Company – ‘to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll…song.’ £15 ticket offer!

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Co-produced by the Barbican, Michael Clark Company and Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Michael Clark Company returns to The Lowry on Wed 19 October with a new work ‘to a simple, rock ’n’ roll . . . song.’ the third act of which is set to the music of David Bowie, including the title track from his final album, Blackstar.

The performance, which will also feature Future Legend, Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family and Aladdin Sane is the Company’s first at The Lowry since 2013. Steve Cowton, head of theatre operations at The Lowry, said:

“Michael Clark has an excellent reputation for collaborating with artists, designers, writers and musicians to help introduce dance to new audiences. He’s also no stranger to Bowie, whose music his company has performed to many times before. Blackstar is already part of music history and I am proud that The Lowry is able to bring this new work to North West audiences for this one-off performance.”

On at The Lowry, Salford Quays, Weds 19th October, 8pm, follow the link below and enter BOWIE in the discount/promo code box for £15 tickets!

http://www.thelowry.com/event/michael-clark-new-work-2016

 

Pride and Prejudice

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First published back in 1813, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice marks the return of Regent’s Park Theatre to The Lowry for a third time following their hugely popular visiting productions of To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.

Austen’s classic comedy tells the much-loved story of the Bennett family and their five unmarried daughters. Mr and Mrs Bennett soon see an opportunity to rise through the ranks of society when the wealthy and devastatingly handsome Mr. Bingley and his friend, fellow eligible bachelor, (and even more wealthy) Mr. Darcy arrive in the area. The Bennet’s eldest daughter Jane soon catches the eye of Mr Bingley while the brooding Mr Darcy clashes with the Bennet’s feisty second daughter, Elizabeth, despite this, their paths are destined to repeatedly meet.

Adapted for the stage by Simon Reade and Directed by Deborah Bruce, the creative team have worked their magic on this production, delivering a bright and joyful reworking of Austen’s wonderful comedy. Set Designer Max Jones has created a remarkably effective revolving structure which works wonderfully well and allows the cast to glide with ease from the Bennett’s parlour at Longbourn to the grandeur of the ballroom at Netherfield Park.

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Both opening and closing this production is the delightfully dramatic Mrs Bennett announcing “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Played by Felicity Montagu, this role couldn’t have been better cast; she is everything you’d wish for in a ‘Mrs Bennett’, brash, attention-seeking, uncouth and ridiculously excitable. Her shameless attempts to get her daughters married off are hilarious; Montagu was made for this role and carries it off to perfection. In contrast to Mrs Bennett is the reserved, thoughtful and long suffering Mr Bennett, played wonderfully by Matthew Kelly, he is the calm to Mrs Bennett’s storm, the pairing of the two actors is a delight to watch.

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The five actresses playing the Bennett girls each offer something different and ensure that each sister has their own strong identity and characterisation, amazingly several of the girls are making their professional debuts. Tafline Steen who takes on the tough role of Elizabeth does so with ease, she is sublime. Feisty and passionate, and just as headstrong and determined as Austen wrote her. Steen’s performance is outstanding, an actress no doubt headed for big things, she is truly exceptional.

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Her clashes with Mr Darcy, played by the broodingly handsome Benjamin Dilloway are realistic and believable; the change in her emotions is moving to watch. Mr Darcy is another hard role to deliver, a fine balance to get right, by Act II we see Dilloway convey the warmer side of Darcy that Austen’s reader adore and yearn for and the side ultimately we knew was there all along . Special mention must go to Steven Meo with his riotous interpretation of Mr Collins the clergyman, irritating, try hard and totally nauseating, the last person you’d ever want around, he is hilarious, utterly brilliant to watch. Also praise for Leigh Quinn who takes on two roles, Mary Bennett and Annabel De Bough, although smaller roles she absolutely shines in each.

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Pride and Prejudice is a classy production, accessible and fresh. An complete joy for Austen’s fans, it’s also is the perfect introduction to those dipping their toe for the first time. Delightfully entertaining with laugh out loud moments and a superb cast, an absolute must see!

On at The Lowry until Saturday 15th October

http://www.thelowry.com/event/pride-and-prejudice

Dirty Dancing-The Classic Story on Stage

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copyright: dreamteam-pics

It’s been 10 years since Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story Live On Stage opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre, taking an advance of £15 million in ticket sales and becoming the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. A decade on a packed out Palace Theatre proves the show is still as popular as ever as it stops in Manchester as part of its UK tour.

Based almost word for word (bar a few additional scenes) on the hit 80’s movie starring the late great Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles it’s a real treat for any fans of the film and even those who have never seen it before.

Dirty Dancing tells the story of 17 year- old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman who learns a lot more than ‘dancing’ when she stays at Kellerman’s holiday camp with her family in summer of 1963. Baby is heading for the Peace Corps and wants to make the world a better place but, as she stumbles across a secret sexy dance off at the camps staff quarters, her life turns upside down. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and resident dancer Johnny Castle, Baby soon has the time of her life mamboing her way into becoming a woman.

Packed with energy from start to finish the record-breaking show has been reconceived in this all new production by an innovative creative team. Federico Bellone’s direction is slick, the scene changes are tight and in the words of Simon Cowell, Bellone has definitely ‘made it his own’.

Leading the way is Lewis Griffith as dance instructor Johnny Castle. No stranger to the stage having starred in hit musicals such as Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys and Ghost, Griffith oozes sex appeal from every pore. He sizzles onto the dancefloor with sensational hip action and thrusts which will make you blush.

Making her professional musical theatre debut as Baby is the delightful Katie Hartland who, unlike others who have played the role before, steers clear of delivering a carbon copy of Jennifer Gray’s portrayal of the character. Hartland delivers every line with a fresh quality and creates some really sweet comic moments as she struggles to master the dance moves. Someone who has no issues with her footwork though is Carlie Milner as Johnny’s dance partner Penny. With a set of pins that makes everyone go green with envy Milner shows off her physical prowess and is perfectly cast as the former Rockette who gets ‘knocked up’ by love rat waiter Robbie.

Special mentions must go to Julian Harries and Simone Craddock who play Baby’s parents in roles which are more developed for stage than screen. Daniela Pobega also excels as part of the ensemble belting out  some of Dirty Dancing’s iconic tunes Yes and (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

This latest production will leave you wowed not just by the cast but by Gillian Bruce’s brilliant choreography and the shows’ impressive set, designed by Roberto Comotti, which expertly revolves to reveal a number of different locations from the Kellermans to the Sheldrake and back again.

With an incredible finale that brings a magical movie moment to life and the electric excitement from the audience as Johnny utters the immortal line ‘nobody puts Baby in a corner’, Dirty Dancing – the classic story on stage will not fail to put a smile on your face and set your heart racing.

This is one production I’d definitely carry more than a watermelon to go see again and again!

www.dirtydancingontour.com

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copyright: dreamteam-pics

LISTING INFORMATION

Dirty Dancing – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Mon 10 – Sat 15 October 2016

Rehearsal for Murder

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From the writers of Murder, She Wrote, Richard Levinson and William Link and produced by Bill Kenwright, Rehearsal for Murder arrives at the Opera House for a week long run. With an all-star cast the show is a well-acted and entertaining whodunnit that will have you scratching your head and realising what a dreadful Detective you’d make!

With numerous plot twists and a good dollop of red herrings Rehearsal for Murder creates suspense and intrigue along the way. Alex Ferns most famously known for playing psychotic Trevor in Eastenders plays Alex Dennison, a writer who exactly one year ago on opening night tragically lost his future bride and leading lady of his new play, Monica Wells, Susie Amy. Monica dies in suspicious circumstances after the opening night party following a mysterious phone call. Convinced she was in fact murdered Alex sets the scene to replay events of that night with all who were involved in order to discover what really happened.

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Set inside an empty theatre the play uses a series of flashbacks to retell the story to great effect; the cast give strong performances with Ferns delivering delightfully unhinged grieving fiancé to great effect. Anita Harris makes for a fine theatre producer, in the role of Bella Lamb, dramatic, sassy and fabulous darling! Former Emmerdale favourite Peter Amory gives a great performance as David Mathews, a slightly seedy leading man….or so we are lead to believe. And of course where there is a leading lady there has to be a fame hungry starlet waiting in the wings, Sophie Powels plays Monica’s understudy Karen Daniels, could the opportunity of seeing her name in lights lead her to commit the crime?

Lighting designer Douglas Kuhrt has done a fine job in adding to the mysterious atmosphere and chillingly lights our deceased leading lady as she appears silently on stage reminding us why we’re here. Rehearsal for Murder is a gentle evening of murder mystery and as the suspense intensifies the calibre of the cast can be seen, a very well-acted and enjoyable production. So…..whodunnit? Well you’ll have to go and see it to find out!

Tuesday 11th October-Saturday 15th October, Opera House, Manchester

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rehearsal-for-murder/opera-house-manchester/

 

 

 

Stripped Back, Elaine Paige Review

 

RE: Elaine Paige 2016 - announcement & on sale

Elaine Paige Stripped Back Tour

Elaine Paige stepped onstage at the Bridgewater Hall to a rapturous applause last night as she treated Manchester fans to her latest tour Stripped Back. Looking a vision in lilac, Britain’s Queen of musical theatre belted out the tracks of her youth from some of her favourite songwriters including Nilsson and Webb. It was a night full of memories for Paige as she regaled the audience with amusing anecdotes of going on a date with Paul Simon and almost passing out with excitement as she met her idol Paul McCartney.

Featuring hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s such as Carole King’s One Fine Day, Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park and the Beatles’ Yesterday the concert was a step away from what we are used to hearing from the diva and for the first 30 minutes there was hardly a show tune in sight.

Defying her 68 years Paige shimmied through song after song, hitting some huge notes along the way. Despite everything though it all felt a bit flat, what the crowd really wanted to hear was some of her famous hits and it looked like they might be going home disappointed.

Luckily they got their wish as Elaine began to talk about the time she sung the duet I Know Him So Well with Barbara Dickson. There was an excited buzz of anticipation as the band began to play the intro and the audience came alive, mesmerised by her performance. This is where Elaine is truly at home, every note fitting her voice like a glove.

By the end of the show you feel like you have spent over an hour and a half with a friend and it seemed that Paige felt the same. The classy star was humbled at the standing ovation she received and looked like she truly enjoyed her time on the stage.

A few people left before the encore. Big mistake. With her biggest hit Memory from Cats and With One Look from Sunset Boulevard as part of the set list, it’s a moment you don’t want to miss.

Elaine continues her 23 date tour next weekend as she plays Southend Cliffs Pavilion.

Tickets on sale now

WWW.GIGSANDTOURS.COM • 0844 811 0051

WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK • 0844 826 2826.

 

Elaine Paige Tour comes to Manchester

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Singer Elaine Paige comes to Manchester this weekend as part of her 23 date series of concerts from October to December 2016, entitled‘Stripped Back’, which will see her perform her most popular hits as well songs from her favourite songwriters.

The musical theatre legend will be at the Bridgewater Hall on Saturday 8 October and Opening Night are off to see her in action.

Elaine says: “I’m so excited about this series of ‘weekend’ concerts, this is going to allow me to do something completely different.  A brand new show celebrating songwriters I love such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Harry Nilsson, Jim Webb, Burt Bacharach, Sting, Lennon & McCartney … the list goes on.  Their music has been the soundtrack to all our lives, not just mine.  And it’s the ideal opportunity to perform in an intimate way … I’m doing these new shows ‘Stripped Back!”

Elaine has performed live in concert all over the world and as a recording artist has worked with legendary producers such as Tony Visconti, Dennis Lambert, Peter Matz, & Phil Ramone amongst others.She has starred in more smash hit West End & Broadway musicals than anyone else of her generation.

We are big fans here at Opening Night of Elaine’s successful weekly BBC Radio 2 show Elaine Paige on Sunday, which is a blissful two hours of songs from stage and screen. If you are heading down to the concert at the Bridgewater Hall on Saturday  then give us a tweet on @OpeningNight_ or if you’ve already seen Elaine in one of her tour dates let us know what you thought.

 

Tickets on sale now

WWW.GIGSANDTOURS.COM • 0844 811 0051

WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK • 0844 826 2826.

Tour Dates:

October 2016

Saturday 8th             Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Thursday 13th          Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Friday 14th                Basingstoke Anvil

Friday 21st                Grantham Meres Centre

Saturday 22nd           Scunthorpe Baths Hall

Saturday 29th           Leicester The Curve Theatre

Sunday 30th               Kings Lynn Corn Exchange

 

November 2016

Saturday 5th             Birmingham Symphony Hall

Sunday 6th                 Buxton Opera House

Friday 11th                Swansea Brangwyn Hall

Saturday 12th           Malvern Concert Hall

Saturday 19th           Lowther Pavilion, Lytham St Annes

Sunday 20th               Scarborough Spa

Tuesday 29th             Cheltenham Town Hall

Wednesday 30th       Northampton Derngate

 

December 2016

 Monday 5th               Bury St Edmonds The Apex

Tuesday 6th               Bury St Edmonds The Apex

Sunday 11th               Leeds Grand Theatre

Tuesday 13th             Wrexham William Aston Hall

Sunday 18th               London Theatre Royal Drury Lane

 

           

 

Be My Baby

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Brooke Vincent makes her professional stage debut in Be My Baby, currently touring the UK with stops in Chesterfield and Bury St Edmund. The Coronation Street star is on home soil this week as the production sets up base at Salford’s Lowry Theatre, where it runs until 8th October.

Brooke has chosen well for her first major dabble into theatre, taking on one of the lead roles in Amanda Whittington’s play about teen pregnancy in the 60s. The period tale is a bitter sweet story of four young girls who form a bond after they are sent away in ‘shame’ to a convent for unmarried mums. Each from different backgrounds they hide away from society’s disapproving eyes until they give birth and return home, without their babies. As the play unfolds the audience laugh and cry along with Mary (Jess Cummings), Queenie (Brooke Vincent), Norma (Josie Cersie) and Dolores (Eva McKenna), as they share their stories with each other, keeping up their spirits and confessing sometimes shocking secrets.

The four actresses are all superb; Jess puts in a credible performance as well-educated Mary who wants to break out from the convent and survive as a single mum, Brooke oozes sass as ‘leader of the pack’ Queenie showing the girls the ropes and delivering some acidic one liners, Josie gives a heart-breaking performance as fragile Norma struggling to cope at giving her child away and Eva displays some great comic timing as she plays ditzy Dolores.

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Hi-Di-Hi star Ruth Madoc has also found a well suited role as the stoic ‘Matron’ of the convent. The 80s sitcom star manages to make the audience see the two sides of her character as she wrestles between her duty to make the girls do ‘the right thing’ and her sympathy towards the pain they are going through.

With scenes interlaced with well-known songs from the female icons of the sixties, such as The Ronettes and Dusty Springfield, Be My Baby has a nostalgic feel about it and at times you could imagine it being turned into a TV series, in the vein of Heartbeat or Call the Midwife. From the young teens in the audience to those who had grown up in the 60s the play manages to engage on all levels as they connect with the action onstage. There’s some great moments to watch out for as the pregnant young girls try to forget their predicament by singing along to Dusty tracks in the laundry room and some shocking revelations in act two.

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Not often does a play come around written for an all-female cast ( Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Should being one of them, along with Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls) so Be My Baby is a refreshing treat. It is also a harsh reminder of what the stigma was like to be an unmarried mum to be in the sixties and the unthinkable agony that many women went through went they were forced to give their babies up for adoption.

4-8th October The Lowry, Salford Quays, www.thelowry.com/drama

Keep Dancing

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With this year’s Strictly now in full swing, dance fever has struck once again! If the week long wait for the celebrities and professionals to hit the dancefloor is just too much then shimmy down to the Palace theatre for dance extravaganza, Keep Dancing!

Starring ex-Strictly pro’s Robin Windsor and Anya Garnis with guest celebrity and 2012 winner, Louis Smith (who gets a huge cheer from the audience); Keep Dancing is an explosion of sequins, salsa and some seriously impressive hip swivelling! Showcasing everyone’s favourite dances from the Tango to the Charleston and everything in between, Keep Dancing is a delightfully entertaining production which will thrill all the diehard dance fans amongst us.

The stars of the show are undoubtedly Robin and Anya, performing both pieces with the ensemble dancers as well as some exquisite solo pieces; they truly give a masterclass in dance with each discipline just as impressive as the last. The speed and agility in which they move is incredible, they are true professionals and utterly mesmerising, if I even attempted some of the intricate routines they glide through I’d end up in A&E with at the very least a dislocated hip and several broken bones.

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Interspersed between the dance numbers are beautiful musical and vocal pieces, singers Adam Warmington, Harriette Virginia Mullen and the superb Lisa-Marie Holmes were excellent, delivering gorgeously reworked versions of well-known classics which offered the dancers the perfect soundtrack to showcase their skills. The set design is simple and effective with staircases on both sides leading to an upper deck for the singers/musicians, teamed with dramatic and atmosphere lighting the scene is perfectly set.

The choreography team of which Robin and Anya are a part of have done an incredible job in delivering a tight and engaging show, jam-packed with top class routines, a particular highlight for me was the all-male paso, totally stunning and as dramatic as any good paso should be, add to that the bare chest of Robin Windsor and the swooning soon began!

If you’re looking for a fun night out, teaming with sensational routines and stunning choreography then Keep Dancing more than hits the mark, fun, flirty and totally FAB-U-LOUS!  

Palace Theatre, Manchester – Tues 4th-Sat 8th

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

 

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical

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Telling the story of The Small Faces rise to fame from a wannabe rhythm and blues band up until their much documented break-up on stage at Alexandra Palace, All Or Nothing is an engaging and hugely entertaining new musical.

With a book by Carol Harrison and directed by Pat Davey, All Or Nothing delves into the troubled past of a band who started out as fresh faced and full of attitude teenagers who wanted to change the ‘Mersey-beat’ scene and deliver something fresh, raw and exciting. We follow the band as they change from cheeky newcomers into a top sellers racking up iconic hits including Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Sha La La La Lee and of course All Or Nothing until years of constant working, exhausting touring, clashes of ego and general disillusionment with life at the top takes its tragic toll.

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The show is narrated by an older, no longer with us, Steve Marriot (Chris Simmons) looking back at the story of his life while his younger self performs in front of him, his narration is witty, revealing and brings a great pace to the production. Thoughtful and at times nostalgic, Simmons gives an outstanding performance, we see him go from light-hearted, dancing round the stage to crumbling before our eyes as the lifestyle becomes too much for his younger self, the liquor bottle becomes his constant companion as he smokes and drinks himself past the point of no return.

The use of an on-stage narrator works extremely well, Simmons swiftly creates a warm relationship with the audience and gently guides us through his compelling tale.

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The four cast members playing The Small Faces are excellent, Kenney Jones, (Drew-Levi Huntsman) Ian McClagan (Joshua Maddison), Ronnie Lane (Joshua Dowen) and Steve Marriot (Tim Edwards). All four act and play throughout, their musical pieces are tight and their scenes together authentic from bright-eyed wannabee hit makers to worn out and irritated popstars, each cast member gives their absolute all.

Special mention must go to Carol Harrison who as well as writing the book delivers a moving performance as Kay Marriot, mother of Steve. Carol delivers not only comedy and plenty of laugh out loud moments but also emotional and intense moments as she sees the tragedy that is unfolding before her.

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Rebecca Brower’s set is simple and effective, allowing the music and story to take centre stage here. This isn’t a musical with narrative dropped in around it; it’s a well written play which uses the music of its subject to great effect. With authentic 60’s clothing as well as props this is a piece that has been developed with true love and affection. The ensemble are excellent, playing various roles with some great comedic timing. The audience lapped up the witty jokes and cheeky quips and many a sound of recognition was heard as the cast kicked into one of The Small Faces classics. All Or Nothing makes for a fabulous night out, fun, feisty and totally fabulous!

On at Buxton Opera House until Weds 5th Oct

Manchester Opera House 18th Oct – 22nd Oct

http://www.allornothingthemusical.com/tickets.html