Dark Hearts of Space – The Lowry

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Dark Hearts of Space, realised and perform by Dasha Rush & Stanislav Glazov explores offered visuals and sounds which filled the stage as the cinematic images were visualised through a double screen. Projectors filled the syc back stage and a huge gauze screen up stage giving a 3 dimensional effect which was was highly engaging. The 40 minute performance displayed a way to escape, a space to expand your mind, it was ever so cool.

The experience was a visual play of many different black hole creations which credits the visual Graphic Designer Stanislav Glazov the male part of this charming duo, as later in after show talk we hear that the technology and artistry is extremely advanced. To an untrained eye, it was a little disparate. The shift of ideas felt more of a scratch performance making the whole experience very open ended and non-directional and I didn’t feel a connectivity to couple that with a philosophical notion or spiritual notion, the abstract determined non attachment to the ideas that were playing out.

Dasha Rush played an electronic sound score that washed over the subconscious mind and supported the visual lead, I found this quite meditative. A unique piece in which the cosmic space created in this collaboration was at times spellbinding.

 Guest reviewer, Kate Jackson

 

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

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It’s almost time to meet the lovable Babe in a heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery. Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s much-loved children’s novel which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig will be brought to life on stage in an enchanting new production. Featuring stunning puppetry, an original score and an utterly charming ‘baa-ber sheep’ quartet, Babe and the residents of Hogget’s Farm will visit The Lowry from Tue 11 to Sat 15 April as part of a major UK Tour.

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When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm he is taken in by the trusty sheep-dog Fly, and soon discovers a talent for herding. With the help of his adopted Mum, the polite piglet soon wins over the most suspicious of sheep. But can a small pig make it in a dog’s world, and when his farmyard friends are in trouble can Babe save the day?

Babe, The Sheep-Pig is adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning playwright David Wood OBE, who is best known for his adaptations of classic family titles including Goodnight Mister Tom, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. It is directed by Michael Fentiman, whose productions include The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus (RSC), and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Kensington Gardens) which he co-directed with Rupert Goold.

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The residents of Hogget’s Farm will be brought to life by beautiful hand-crafted puppets, created by award-winning puppet designer Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, with the ensemble cast delivering masterful puppetry by puppetry director Matthew Forbes (Associate Director in Puppetry & Movement, War Horse).

Book your tickets now for this delightful adventure for all the family, on at The Lowry from Tues 11th – Saturday 15th April.

http://www.thelowry.com/event/babe-the-sheep-pig

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The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

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Returning to The Lowry as part of a new 25 city tour, The National Theatre’s multi-award winning production The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time, is as spellbinding and incredibly moving as ever. Adapted by Stockport born Simon Stephens and directed by Manchester’s own Marianne Elliott, Curious introduces us to a very, very special person, the utterly extraordinary, Christopher Boone.

 

The story follows fifteen year old Christopher (Scott Reid) upon his alarming discovery of the murder of his neighbour’s dog Wellington, whom he has found speared with a garden fork. Christopher, wrongfully under suspicion makes it his mission to solve the mystery of the murder by documenting the facts he discovers through his thorough and detailed investigations. Christopher is a complex yet truly remarkable boy, like many autistic people Christopher sees the world very differently to perhaps you and I, for one he truly ‘sees’ the world, he notices each and everything around him, he observes and processes every physical detail in his environment, colours, sounds, textures, everything Christopher sees is in exact and minute detail. His brain is as complex as it is fascinating, metaphors don’t make sense and people are generally confusing.

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Scott Reid as Christopher is fantastic, he makes such a physically and emotionally challenging role appear effortless, he is hugely likeable and engages the audience from his very first scene, you quite literally fall in love with Reid’s Christopher, you want him desperately to succeed and to be happy, safe and secure. The relationship he has with Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy) his teacher is beautiful; she calms and soothes Christopher when things get too much and he stops being able to process the endless information his brain is constantly receiving, more importantly she totally and utterly believes in him.

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As the story develops we soon realise that Christopher like many people on the Autistic Spectrum is uncomfortable with touch, the amount of physical contact he will engage in is minimal and must be on his terms, this is beautifully directed and makes for some of the most poignant and emotional scenes in whole production as we witness Christopher’s parents battle to simply comfort their child.

Director Marianne Elliot along with Movement Directors Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett and Adrian Sutton have created something truly unique with their cast, from weightlessly floating through space to the trauma of using the unwelcoming and chaotic underground the way the cast move is mesmerising. The organisation and exact movement of the cast is outstanding, their fluid movement so intricate.

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Complementing the brilliant cast is a truly stunning set, it is in effect part of the cast as it is so involved in every aspect of what happens on stage, the cast and the set at times almost become one, moving fluidly together to astonishing effect. Designer Bunny Christie, Lighting Designer Paule Constable, Video Designer Finn Ross and Sound Designer Ian Dickinson have created something truly magical here.

Curious is a production that leaves an huge impact, at times heart-warming and funny it is also through provoking and incredibly moving, without doubt an absolute must see.

On at The Lowry until Saturday 4th February

http://www.thelowry.com/event/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time

Preview – Bat Out Of Hell- The Musical

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Exactly one month to the day Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical will be all revved up and ready to take to the stage at the Manchester Opera House for the first night of an impressive seven week run of what is set to become one of the biggest musical theatre events of the year.

Originally called Neverland, and based on a futuristic version of Peter Pan which writer Jim Steinman originally work-shopped in 1974, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical has been many years in the planning. Set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland we meet Strat (Andrew Polec) the forever young leader of The Lost who has fallen for Raven (Christina Bennington), who has been locked away in the palace towers by her Father Falco (Rob Fowler), the oppressive ruler of Obsidian. The show takes us on an adventure of romance, rebellion and rock ‘n’ roll and features many of the monster hits we all know and love including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

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We were lucky enough to be treated to a preview from the rehearsal rooms and boy is Manchester in for a treat! The large cast are absolutely full of energy and sounded incredible, Polec led the charge as we were given a taste of what to expect when the show premieres at the Opera House on 17th February. Directed by award-winning theatre and opera director Jay Scheib, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is no doubt set to become a theatrical triumph , vibrant, sassy and full of attitude, the cast delivered each song with passion and were brimming with energy and the self-assured confidence you’d wish for from any rock star. The cutting edge and dynamic choreography of Emma Portner compliments the soundtrack perfectly and adds even more attitude to already explosive performances.

Sitting down with director Jay Scheib and producers David Sonenberg, Michael Cohl, and Tony Smith we heard more about the work that has gone into bringing this production together and the commitment they each have to ensuring the dream of seeing Bat Out Of Hell turned into a musical becomes not just a reality but an exciting and vibrant theatrical experience. Discussing the appeal and longevity of the music Scheib said, “You can have one perspective on the songs as a teenager and that perspective can shift as you move into different stages of your life, some songs get old where these songs just get different and their meaning changes, so they are always relevant”. David Sonenberg noted also that “Steinman first wrote the song titles then challenged himself to write a song that lived up to the title, he is a brilliant lyricist, just amazing at writing melodies”.

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It’s clear to see why Andrew Polec was given the lead role; the minute the music starts he is transformed into Strat, totally focussed and committed to delivering a performance Meatloaf himself would be proud of, if there is such a thing as having ‘it’ then Polec has got ‘it’ in bucket loads. It’s clear to see why the producers knew so quickly when Polec arrived at the open casting in the United States that he was “Born to play the part”, his casting in the role couldn’t be more perfect, Tony Smith states “You have to have an incredible voice for these songs, he’s not blown away by the scale of these songs, he’s amazing” Beautifully complimenting Polec’s strutting and rebellious Strat is Christina Bennington as Raven, she has the most beautiful voice and a wide-eyed innocence that’s just waiting to be corrupted by some serious rock ‘n’ roll, Bennington describes Raven’s meeting with Strat as a meeting of minds, “…she craves the love of her parents but feels suffocated by it, once she meets Strat she feels there’s the chance of a whole new kind of freedom but, she has an internal battle as she is torn between the love of her parents and her love for Strat”.

There is some real star quality involved in this new musical, the heartfelt delivery of new song What Part of My Body Hurts the Most by Rob Folwer and Sharon Sexton gave me goosebumps, emotional and touching the quality of the writing is so good it would be right at home on any of the Bat Out Of Hell albums. Fowler describes the songs as “…totally relatable, they tell the story for you, they’re full of honesty, even the new songs feel so familiar” a true sign of excellent writing. Likewise Danielle Steers and Dom Hartly- Harris give a powerful, emotionally charged performance of Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad that left me desperate to see more. Manchester audiences may also recognise Andrew Patrick-Walker, most recently seen in Hair at Hope Mill Theatre, Andrew is thrilled to be returning to Manchester with such an exciting and ground-breaking show.

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There is some serious weight behind this production, the sets and costumes promise to be spectacular with the building of the set beginning at the Opera House almost 6 weeks before opening night it is a show of enormous scale. Following our discussions with the cast and creatives it is obvious that this show is going to be nothing short of epic, the care taken to ensure this production is of the highest standard is clear to see, the opportunity to get to know Bat Out Of Hell as a theatrical piece is going to be an absolute joy, roll on February!

Tickets are available now via http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/opera-house-manchester/

http://www.batoutofhellmusical.com

17 February – 29 April 2017

Opera House, Manchester

Performances: Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, Thurs & Sat at 2.30pm (no matinee on Sat 18 February)

Tickets: from £17.50

Manchester Theatre Award Nominations Announced!

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Nearly 90 performers or productions have been chosen in more than 20 categories for the Manchester Theatre Awards, picked by a panel of 10 regional theatre critics.

The winners will be announced live on stage at a red carpet event at Manchester’s HOME venue on Friday March 17, hosted by comedian, actor – and playwright – Justin Moorhouse.

After watching more than 200 theatre performances throughout 2016 the MTA Panel has narrowed down a shortlist that honours everyone from established star names in main house productions, to complete newcomers.

In the past Manchester Theatre Awards have often gone to actors and actresses who go on to become household or even Hollywood names such as Andrew Garfield, so who knows what the future will hold for those who have been given the nod this year.

Leading the way this year is the Royal Exchange picking up a massive 20 nominations – a double celebration in what is their 40th anniversary year of bringing acclaimed productions to Manchester. This year’s categories for Best Actress and Best Production also see the Royal Exchange and the city’s shiny new HOME venue go head to head for the coveted trophies.

Great news for Manchester’s emergent Hope Mill Theatre making its mark on the award this year with a nomination in the Best Musical category for its regional premiere production of Parade. This brand new fringe venue, in an old mill in Ancoats, has staged several ambitious productions in 2016 and there is a wealth of exciting projects ahead for them in 2017.

One nominee Opening Night would love to see pick up a gong on the 17th March would be Lisa Maxwell who is nominated for Best Actress in a Visiting Production for her portrayal of Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow at the Opera House. Maxwell was mesmerizing at the Hollywood musical star in her later tragic years and it would be great to see her get the acclaim she deserves for the role.

All nominees are invited to the awards event and if you are a fan of the theatre and want to go along on the day you can get a ticket via the HOME website www.homemcr.org or by calling 0161 200 1500. Tickets are priced at £15.

See you there!

Manchester Theatre Award nominations in full…

Best Actor

Rob Edwards, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre, Bolton

David Neilson, Endgame, HOME, Manchester

Daniel Rigby, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Don Warrington, King Lear, Royal Exchange

 

Best Actress

Niamh Cusack, Ghosts, HOME

Kaisa Hammarlund, Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange

Julie Hesmondhalgh, Wit, Royal Exchange

Kathryn Hunter, The Emperor, HOME

 

Best Production

Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange

Ghosts, HOME

The Emperor, HOME

Wit, Royal Exchange

 

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Crossley, Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange

Raad Rawi, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange

Marc Small, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre

Miltos Yerolemou, King Lear, Royal Exchange

 

Best Supporting Actress

Natalie Dew, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange

Sharon Duncan-Brewster, A Streetcar Named Desire, Royal Exchange

Natalie Grady, Martha Josie and the Chinese Elvis, Octagon Theatre

Amy Nuttall, The Winter’s Tale, Octagon Theatre

 

Best Visiting Production

946 – The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps, HOME

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Lowry, Salford

Love’s Labour’s Lost / Much Ado About Nothing, Opera House

The Encounter, HOME

The James Plays, Lowry

 

Best Actor in a Visiting Production

Edward Bennett, Love’s Labour’s Lost / Much Ado About Nothing, Opera House

Rufus Hound, The Wind in the Willows, The Lowry

Simon McBurney, The Encounter, HOME

Michael Pennington, King Lear, Opera House

 

Best Actress in a Visiting Production

Lisa Dillon, Love’s Labour’s Lost / Much Ado About Nothing, Opera House

Aoife Duffin, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Lowry

Lisa Maxwell, End Of The Rainbow, Opera House

Zizi Strallen, Mary Poppins, Palace

 

Best Newcomer

Daisy Badger, Look Back In Anger, Octagon Theatre

Ben Hunter, The Girls, Lowry

Norah Lopez Holden, Ghosts, HOME

Kirsty Rider, Pride And Prejudice, Lowry

Holly Willock, The Wind In The Willows, Lowry

Young “Michael” cast, Billy Elliot, Palace

Young “Scout” cast, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre

 

Best Opera

Andrea Chénier, Opera North, Lowry

Billy Budd, Opera North, Lowry

Don Giovanni, ETO, Buxton Opera House

Tamerlano, Buxton Festival, Buxton Opera House

 

The Robert Robson Award for Best Dance

Akram Khan’s Giselle, Palace

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lowry

Nederlands Dans Theater 2, Lowry

The Red Shoes, Lowry

 

Best Musical

Billy Elliot, Palace

Parade, Hope Mill Theatre

Singin’ in the Rain, Octagon Theatre

Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange

The Wind in the Willows, Lowry

 

Best Fringe Production

 Boomtown Gals, Various venues

Die Diana, Bandit, Mugger and Thief, Manchester

Multi Story, Monkeywood, Various venues

The Trial, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

 

Best Fringe Performance

Joyce Branagh, Boomtown Gals, Various venues

Sam Grogan, Waiting Room, King’s Arms, Salford

William J Holstead, The Trial, Hope Mill Theatre

Leanne Martin, The Brink, King’s Arms

 

Best Studio Production

 Dirty Pakistani Lingerie, Lowry

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, HOME

The Solid Life Of Sugar Water, Royal Exchange

Wish List, Royal Exchange

 

Best Actor in a Studio Production

 Alexander Gatehouse, Ventoux, Lowry

Joseph Quinn, Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio

Rex Ryan, Pilgrim, Lowry

 

Best Actress in a Studio Production

 Erin Doherty, Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio

Sarah Emmott, Declaration, Lowry

Georgia Henshaw, Bird, Royal Exchange Studio

Molly Vevers, Ross and Rachel, Lowry

 

Best New Play

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, HOME

Bird, Royal Exchange Studio

The Emperor, HOME

Wish List, Royal Exchange Studio

 

Best Design

Endgame, HOME

La Vie Parisienne, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre

The Pitmen Painters, Coliseum, Oldham

 

Best Ensemble

946 – The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps, HOME

Singin’ In The Rain, Octagon Theatre

The Pitmen Painters, Coliseum

The James Plays, Lowry

 

Best Special Entertainment

An Anatomie In Four Quarters, Lowry

Cirque du Soleil – Amaluna, Trafford Centre

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Old Granada Studios

The Peony Pavillion, Lowry

 

Youth Panel Award

NOTHING – The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company

The Secret Garden – Octagon Youth Theatre

The Factory – The Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company

The Siege of Christmas – Contact Youth Company with Swung Low