Yank! Preview


On March 9th award-winning venue Hope Mill Theatre will host the European Premiere of the much anticipated Yank! A moving World War II love story which will examine what it means to be a man, to be in love, and explore the struggles simply being in love can bring.

Based on the 2010 Off-Broadway production written by David Zellnik with a score created by his brother Joseph Zellnik the musical transports us back to the unforgettable sounds of the 1940’s, focussing on the life of Stu (Scott Hunter) who is called up to serve for his country. Stu meets and falls in love with all-American guy Mitch (Barnaby Hughes) and so begins a tougher and more emotional fight than Stu ever expected to be facing.


Yank! will be the third in-house production delivered by the hugely successful paring of Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment, who brought runaway hit Parade and cult classic Hair to Manchester audiences last year. This pairing is clearly one which understands the importance of getting things absolutely right, they put their heart and soul into delivering emotional, powerful, dynamic and beautiful productions, the prospect of them handling something with issues so current and so important is utterly thrilling. Add to this the fact that James Baker (director of Parade) is at the helm along with the addition of a third co-producer, Ben Millerman from Mr Millerman Presents and you soon realise that this is going to be something very special, without doubt crafted with love.


We were lucky enough to join the cast for a preview at Hope Mill Theatre and hear from director James Baker who shared just how thrilled he is to be given the opportunity to tell such a beautiful story and really examine what it means to love in a time when division is so rife.

“I read the musical and just absolutley adored it, I think for me it’s important that when I pick up a musical, I absolutely  fundamentally love the story, for me it’s always about the story and Yank! has such a beautiful story. It’s about two people, two men that fall in love in World War II  in America, that alone is an exciting prospect, a gay love story set in World War II, that was enough to hook me in, but then the layers, the questions, the things that it asks, made me think there’s much, much more to this musical”

The cast delivered several of the shows musical numbers including the beautiful Rememb’ring You, My Soldier and Your Squad Is Your Squad each of which were absorbing and really gave a taste for this vibrant and dynamic production. Scott Hunter and Barnaby Hughes’ voices perfectly complimented each other, rich and powerful with an enormous amount of warmth. Sarah Louise Young the only female in the production sounded exquisite as she delivered her piece with real emotion and heart.The 12-strong cast are hugely talented and totally committed to doing justice to this emotive and bold piece of theatre, we fully expect Yank! to follow in the footsteps of Parade and Hair in firmly placing Hope Mill Theatre on the cultural map as a groundbreaking and innovative venue and one of Manchester’s brightest and boldest assets, roll on opening night!


Yank! will run for four weeks from Thursday 9th March to Saturday 8th April at Hope Mill Theatre. Tickets are available now. Previews £15, all other performances £16-£22


Funny Girl

Funny Girl

Hot on the heels of it’s much adored, critically acclaimed not to mention record breaking West End run, Funny Girl embarks on a 22 city UK and Ireland tour with Manchester being its first port of call. Boasting some of the most recognisable songs in entertainment history, Don’t Rain On My Parade and People, the hugely iconic show tells the story of the delightful Fanny Brice (Sheridan Smith) a lovable comedic singer and dancer striving for a leap across the water from Brooklyn to Broadway.


The recent West End revival was the first since the original 1964 Broadway production transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre with the one and only Barbara Streisand who then went on to immortalise the role on the silver screen, winning an Academy Award on her way. Big shoes to fill you might think? Enter Sheridan Smith! What a talent!

For anyone wondering how Fanny could be played by anyone other than Streisand wonder no more, book yourselves a ticket and see for yourself, Smith is quite simply perfection. Her characterisation and comedic timing is sublime, you can literally feel the audience fall more and more in love with her with every line she utters and every kooky facial expression she pulls, she is a true star. While she plays the clown perfectly she also has sass and class in bucket loads, she is utterly captivating. She gives the gutsiest of performances from belting out the iconic Don’t Rain On My Parade with heart and determination to her stunning rendition of The Music That Makes Me Dance beautifully tender and deeply moving. You literally cannot take your eyes off her. A personal highlight for me was You Are Woman, I Am Man, where she finally falls under Arnstein’s clutches, although who is seducing who is debatable, I had tears of laughter by the end of this riotous scene.

Funny Girl

Smith is joined by a fine cast who add to the joy of this brilliant production, the dashingly handsome Nick Arnstein, Fanny’s gambling chancer of a husband is played wonderfully by Chris Peluso. The show also has many impressive chorus numbers which are beautifully choreographed by Lynne Page and delivered with precision by the hardworking ensemble. The trio of Fanny’s Mother and neighbours, Mrs Brice, Mrs Strakosh and Mrs Meeker are terrifically entertaining (Rachel Izen, Myra Sands, Zoe Ann Brown). With stunning costumes from Matthew Wright and set design from Michael Pavelka, Funny Girl delivers everything you would hope for and more. It is no surprise that the audience leap to their feet during the finale, this show and Smith truly deserving of the full standing ovation they received.

Funny Girl

If Manchester didn’t feel lucky enough to be the opening stop on the tour then the we must be pinching ourselves knowing that Funny Girl complete with Sheridan Smith will be returning to close the tour in August, tickets are available now but will no doubt be snapped up so act quick! Funny Girl is just magical, an absolute triumph! A five star masterpiece!


Palace Theatre – Saturday 18th February – Saturday 25th February 2017

Returning Monday 7th August – Saturday 19th August 2017


Danza Contemporanea De Cuba


The three works explored a huge celebration of cuban culture, talent and the collision of contemporary and cuban techniques. Each of the pieces ask so differently of the dancers we see the power of their embodiment transform throughout the evening.

Reversible by Anna Lopez Ochoa immediately introduces us to the intimacy of the work to come, two statues framing the stage. Man and Woman dressed only in underwear both bare chested, raised high by a circle of supporting dancers. The hugely talented 25 strong cast weave through duets designed to break force and stretch intention in combined forces meeting their equal intensity, the engagements explore provoking couples who resists and draw out and detach, playing with attraction and sensuality the choreography finds new ways to move without losing contact, with fluidity the cast fall through the space. With moments of outstanding dancing from bodies moving in totality the company dance as one body of movement one voice heard in 25 tones, Ochoa is looking at the essence of humanity when caught in the broils of love and attraction. The bare chested men and women is unquestionably identifying strength and sensuality within humanity. Costumes by Vladimir Cuenca style men in skirts and women in trousers suggesting gender equality.


The Listening Room by Theo Clinkard, sets the stage for a thoughtful performance sending a blanket of silence across the audience he opens with a line of dancers quietly engaging with the soundscape they are hearing through their own set of headphones, each are set up with an mp3 player. We’re witness to their interpretation. The authenticity in the concepts that were being delivered brings a new light to the stage, a humanness which is celebrated through the choreographer, later in the after show talk Theo Clinkard talks about his focus to see instinctive choices. This is apparent and resonates with moments of authenticity and humility. The cast find it a pleasure to play in this arena, which is also deeply crafted in movement and phrases of choreography. We can see that they have enjoyed this creative process. Really stunning lighting accompanying the piece is designed by Fernando Alonso.


Matria Etnocentra by George Cespades is an ultimate delivery of cuban rhythms beaten together with an army soldiers solidarity and so fierce and passionate. They dance from their hearts with rhythms so complex and with furious speeds but with a dignified cool. Army boots, khakis and tanks, sometimes underwear, sometimes work wear.The cast move easily in the complexity of the formations, they thrive as the layers get more intense – a build of endurance fighting within the formations and the rhythms. Choreography that we would normally see as celebration is reversing its position and driving this work as a protest. George Cespedes is prehaps staging his protest. Matched by electronic duo nacional Electronica and Hermanos Exposito.


A really brilliant triple bill, with outstanding talent, it was a pleasure to hear the director talk about his interest in Contemporary Dance and Cuban Dance ‘colliding’ to make progressive world class dance Miguel Iglesias which is certainly what he is delivering. They will take Europe by storm wishing them the very best with their tour.

Guest reviewer – Kate Jackson


Target Live to open Manchester Office



Fantastic news for the Manchester theatre scene today as Marketing and PR agency Target Live announce they are to open a new Manchester office.


The newly established team is made up of three firm favourites from the Manchester theatre marketing and PR scene, Emma King, former marketing manager at ATG, who takes on the role of account director for marketing. Emma is joined by Anna Whitwood, who was a founding member of AKA North and is current marketing and communications manager for Manchester’s Palace Theatre and Opera House, and Kate Goerner, who has been press officer for the Palace Theatre and Opera House for the past eight years.


Bought by global communications firm Havas Group last year, the new Manchester team will be based at Havas Village on Princess Street, right in the heart of the city.


Describing Manchester as “a high priority” for the company, Havas Media Group chief executive Paul Frampton highlights the importance of Manchester not only in the North West but also nationally as a hub for not only touring productions but new and innovative pieces of theatre.


Target Live’s current clients include Bill Kenwright a firm favourite on the touring scene, revival musical 42nd Street which begins previews at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in March and Opera North who regularly visit the Lowry with their touring productions.


We’d like to wish Target Live, Emma, Anna and Kate every success in this exciting new venture, a team we have always enjoyed working with, we’re thrilled to hear this wonderful news!