Jane Eyre

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

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Since its debut at The Point Theatre in Dublin on 2nd July 1996, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance has mesmerised audiences the world over, from London to Las Vegas public demand for the show renowned for its spectacular showstopping routines has never waned. Now almost 21 years since its official debut, Flatley brings his rejuvenated show Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games to Manchester’s Palace Theatre with local talent James Keegan taking on the lead role of The Lord handpicked no less by the main man himself.

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is built around a classic good versus evil story, after an introductory projection featuring Flatley and his young son, Michael St. James, we are introduced to our talented cast via the dream of Little Spirit, (Jess Judd). Little Spirit sees the Lord of the Dance as everything good in the world, this purity and honesty is however threatened by the Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and his evil army of Dark Disciples, add to this the dark temptation that comes in the form of Morrighan the Seductress (Andrea Kren) who is determined to come between The Lord and his true love, the pure and perfect Saoirse (Caroline Gray).

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The story is a simple one, sometimes a little unclear but let’s be honest we haven’t come here expecting a deep and thought provoking narrative it is without doubt the dancing the draws the crowds year after year and it soon becomes very clear as to why. We are eased in with some exceptional acrobatics from Little Spirit who I’d happily have watched more of, as she introduces us not only to the story but also the running musical theme which we hear throughout the show, Lord of the Dance of course! As we meet the rest of the cast via various routines it is the full traditional ensemble pieces that really grip the audience, the energy and talent on display is mind-blowing, you can’t help but smile whilst watching, it’s an absolute thrill to hear the thundering drum of these lightening quick feet.

LOTD 2

The production is at its most powerful during the battle scenes, Zoltan Papp makes for a deliciously menacing Dark Lord, whipping the audience into a frenzy with his fabulous footwork. The sequence where he along with his Dark Disciples corner Little Spirit (Jess Judd) is performed beautifully, strong and precise with great characterisation, special mention also goes to the battle sequence between The Lord of the Dance (James Keegan), The Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and their respective armies, beautifully choreographed and directed by Flatley this scene really packs a punch.

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Paul Normandale’s staging of this production is almost as impressive as the talent on stage, huge flat screens the full width of the Palace’s imposing stage deliver colourful and bold projections, interjected with thrilling and sometimes unexpected pyrotechnics, complimented by stunning lightening design also by Normandale. Christopher Woods’ costume design is impressive, there are all manner of styles on show, with some really beautifully designed pieces, juxtaposed to the traditional is a section where the females are in not much more than bras and knickers while the men also whip their tops off, while this got a few whoops from the audience it seemed a little unnecessary and distracted from the beauty of the performances on stage.

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Special mention must go to musicians Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan, their fiddle playing is exceptional, a real highlight sandwiched between the exhilarating dance routines. As well as musical elements the audience are treated to vocals from Erin the Goddess (Sophie Evans) the choice of songs for me fell a little flat, something more upbeat and memorable would have sat better within the production and left more of an impact.

Manchester lad James Keegan really gives his all in the role of The Lord, following in the footsteps of Flatley is no mean feat but Keegan soon has the audience in the palm of his hand as he dances his way across the stage with precision, style and bags of charaisma.

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There is no doubt that Flatley has the magic formula when it comes to entertaining his fans, Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is an absolute feast of dance and colour, with jawdropping choreography that will no doubt continue to delight and thrill dance fans for years to come. It’s an impressively entertaining show, bringing joy to young and old alike, hugely deserving of praise and the standing ovation Manchester was only too happy to bestow.

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 15th April, tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/lord-of-the-dance/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

The Dukes Re-Union

Duke Renunion - Social Header (4)

Mike Sweeney and The Salford Jets will reunite at The Grand Palais, Swinton to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their debut performance. The Dukes Re-Union will also feature The Trend, Mad Jacks Travelling Circus*, Fast Cars and DJ Mike Prince and will make two nights of musical memories from their days back performing to capacity crowds on the renowned stage at the Duke of Wellington in Swinton.

As the ‘Duke of Welly’ is no longer a live venue, the Grand Palais on Station Road in Swinton (formerly the Wishing Well) has been chosen as the stage for this extraordinary get together where fans can take a trip back in time and enjoy the nostalgia of those magical nights forty years ago.

Salford Jets

After the initial gig sold out a second date has been added with the two shows taking place on Friday 26 & Saturday 27 May 2017. Salford legend Mike Sweeney, currently a presenter on BBC Radio Manchester, said: “This year sees the 40th anniversary of The Salford Jets and the start of our Monday night residency at The Duke of Welly on the ‘Top Road’ in Swinton which rolled out weekly until 1982! To celebrate and together with those ‘Duke’ stalwarts Fast Cars, The Trend, and Mad Jack’s Travelling Circus, we’re having a reunion at Swinton Palais on the 26th and 27th May. Tickets are going like the clappers and this won’t happen again so be there or be very square!”

Mike Sweeney 1

The Dukes Re-Union, produced by Tony Mercer, promises to be a Bank Holiday weekend smasher not to be missed, snap up tickets now while you still can for this special event that will be sure to get you rockin’!

Website:     http://www.thedukes.org.uk

Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/dukesreunion/

The Dukes Re-Union

Friday 26 & Saturday 27 May 2017

Doors Open 7.45pm

The Grand Palais (Formerly the Wishing Well)

90-11 Station Road, Swinton, M27 6AH

Tickets £15

Tickets can be purchased at the Lighthouse shop situated next to The Grand Palace (cash sales only)

Telephone Box Office 07956 702 745

*Mad Jacks Travelling Circus 27th May only

 

Matilda to visit Manchester!

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 14.3-242

As part of a newly announced UK and Ireland tour, the Royal Shakespeare Company will visit Manchester’s Palace Theatre with their multi award-winning production Matilda The Musical, for an impressive 10-week run from Monday 18th September-Friday 24th November 2018.

Tickets for Manchester will go on-sale to the public on Wednesday 26 April following a priority booking period between Wednesday 19 – Tuesday 25 April. 

Winner of 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the RSC’s touring production of Matilda The Musical will open at Leicester Curve, playing from 5 March 2018 and will also visit Dublin, Sunderland, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Cardiff with further dates and locations still to be announced in due course.

The production will be accompanied by a new education programme to engage young people, inspired by Matilda The Musical. From a travelling library of stories led by Mrs. Phelps, to whole school takeovers of Matilda, the RSC aims to reach over 15,000 children, in collaboration with touring theatre partners. Further details to be announced.

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 09.09.16-253 Small

Dennis Kelly, (book) said: “It’s been a long time coming but I’m delighted that we get to take Matilda around the UK and to Ireland. We have some fantastic theatres in this country and in Ireland, supported by smart, engaged audiences and we can’t wait to bring this crazy, messy, anarchic explosion of a show to them.”

 Tim Minchin, (music and lyrics) said: “I – like millions of others – feel like Dahl is in my blood, because I grew up with his books. So to have contributed to a piece of work that brings one of his most famous stories to life is one of my life’s great joys. I’m utterly thrilled that audiences in cities all across the UK and Ireland will now share and be part of Matilda’s story.

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director said: “We are thrilled our home-grown miracle, which started life after a seven year gestation in Stratford-upon-Avon, has grown into a bit of a global phenomenon. Following Matilda’s successful run on Broadway, our current tours around North America, Australia and New Zealand, and continuing into our sixth year at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End, it is fantastic that we can share Matilda with audiences around the UK and in Ireland. In collaboration with our touring partners we will also deliver a programme of ground-breaking interactive education projects to enable young people to emulate Matilda, sharing the extraordinary power of story-telling and the boundless creativity of their imaginations.”

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 11.09.15-99

Now in its sixth year in London’s West End, Matilda The Musical is the longest running production at the Cambridge Theatre where it continues to play to packed houses. With book by Dennis Kelly, original songs by Tim Minchin and direction by Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Inspired by the incomparable Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews.

Matilda The Musical has been seen by more than 6.5 million people worldwide. Having swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and winning four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway, Matilda The Musical has now played in 50 cities worldwide and continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around North America.

 

TOUR Listings

 

Leicester Curve

Monday 5 – Saturday 24 March 2018

Box Office: 0116 242 3595

www.curveonline.co.uk

 

Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Wednesday 4 – Saturday 28 April 2018

Box Office: +353 (1) 677 7999

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

 

Sunderland Empire Theatre

Tuesday 8 May – Saturday 2 June 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 3022*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire

 

Milton Keynes Theatre

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 30 June 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 7652*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre

 

Birmingham Hippodrome

Tuesday 3 July – Saturday 8 September 2018

Box Office: 0844 338 5000**

www.birminghamhippodrome.com

 

Manchester Palace Theatre

Tuesday 18 September – Saturday 24 November 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 3019*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester

 

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff / Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru

Tuesday 4 December 2018 – Saturday 12 January 2019

Box Office: 029 2063 6464

www.wmc.org.uk

 

Cilla – Open auditions!

Cilla

The search for the next big musical theatre star is on as producers of Cilla – The Musical confirm open auditons will begin around the country in May. The auditions will start in Liverpool before taking in Edinburgh, Birmingham and London in a bid to find their leading lady.

Producers are looking for a charismatic and talented actress with a great voice to portray the title role, starting in Cilla’s hometown of Liverpool.  The dates and locations for the auditions are as below:

Tuesday 2 May                               Liverpool Empire

Monday 8 May                               Edinburgh Playhouse

Tuesday 9 May                               Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre

Friday 12 May                                 London Dominion Theatre

 

Robert Willis (Executive Producer and Cilla’s son), said: “My Mum Ioved singing and performing ever since she was a young girl and she was determined to do what she loved. Having performed at the clubs around Liverpool, including the famous Cavern Club, she got her big break when Brian Epstein spotted her and signed her. It was the start of everything that was to follow. She was a natural born performer who lived to entertain her audience. We are hoping to find that person who also dreams big and has the talent to match but just needs the chance to show it. We can’t wait to meet you!”

The new production which is a heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed ITV mini-series based on the early life of Cilla Black, by BAFTA award winner, Jeff Pope (The Moorside, Philomena, From The Cradle To The Grave, Mrs Biggs) will open in her hometown at the Liverpool Empire from Thursday 7 – 16 September before embarking on a nationwide tour. The musical score will be the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me, alongside a backdrop of the legendary “Liverpool Sound” including the Beatles’ Twist and Shout, and American influences like California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas and many more.

Cilla – The Musical is produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield, alongside Executive Producer Robert Willis.

TOUR DATES

 

Liverpool Empire Theatre                                                                                        atgtickets.com/Liverpool

7 – 16 September                                                                                                         0844 871 3017

 

Edinburgh Playhouse                                                                                               atgtickets.com/Edinburgh

19 – 23 September                                                                                                       0844 871 3014

 

Milton Keynes Theatre                                                                                            atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

26 – 30 September                                                                                                       0844 871 7627

 

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton                                                                      mayflower.org.uk

3 – 7 October                                                                                                                  023 8071 1811

 

New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham                                                           atgtickets.com/birmingham

10 – 14 October                                                                                                            0844 871 3011

 

Blackpool, Opera House                                                                                               wgbpl.co.uk

17 – 21 October                                                                                                             0844 856 1111

 

New Theatre, Cardiff                                                                                                 newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

31 October – 4 November                                                                                          029 2087 8889

 

New Wimbledon Theatre                                                                                        atgtickets.com/Wimbledon

7 – 11 November                                                                                                          0844 871 7646

 

Regent Theatre, Stoke                                                                                                   atgtickets.com/stoke

14 – 18 November                                                                                                       0844 871 7649

 

Palace Theatre, Manchester                                                                                  atgtickets.com/Manchester

21 – 25 November                                                                                                       0844 871 3019

 

Bradford, Alahambra Theatre                                                        

bradford-theatres.co.uk

28 November – 2 December                                                                                     01274 432 000

 

More tour dates to be confirmed soon.

 

Visit cillathemusical.com for all the latest tour and audition information

Twitter: @CILLAMUSICAL