The Addams Family preview

Credit: Matt Martin

The Addams Family, photo credit for images: Matt Martin

They’re creepy, kooky, and all together ooky and are heading to the Lowry for two weeks of fiendish fun this August. From the writers of multi-award winning Jersey Boys with music and lyrics from Tony Award nominated Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family are in for a shock when they realise Wednesday Addams (Carrie Hope Fletcher), the ultimate moody teenager, has grown up and has a truly shocking secret that only her Father Gomez (Cameron Blakely) knows; she’s fallen in love with a normal boy! So begins a riotous evening of spooktacular fun as the Addams’ host a dinner for Wednesday’s normal boyfriend and her ever so conservative parents.

We caught up with Carrie Hope Fletcher who plays Wednesday and Les Dennis who plays Uncle Fester ahead of their arrival in Salford to hear all about the witty and wicked show critics are describing as ‘gloriously ghoulish!’

credit: Matt Martin

Les Dennis as Uncle Fester

While both actors are hugely experienced in all aspects of entertainment with Les starting his career back in 1971 at the tender age of 17 on the iconic Opportunity Knocks and Carrie treading the boards in the West End as a child actor in Les Mis, Mary Poppins and Chitty the both know exactly how best to develop their characters and put their stamp on this production. Les explained how he wanted to bring his own Fester to the production, “I wanted him to be childlike and have a sense of fun, in the breakdown it said a tenor voice and also a vaudevillian so I knew straight away he had musical roots”

Carrie is a huge fan of the movies, in particular Christina Ricci, describing the challenges in taking on such an iconic role Carrie said; “It’s difficult to take on board bits of a character you really loved and think can’t be lost because they’re so iconic while trying to make it yours at the same time. When I was in Les Mis playing Eponine, Trevor Jordan said to me ‘The character has got to find you as much as you have got to find the character’ which is something that has always stayed with me”.

credit: Matt Martin

Oliver Ormson as Lucas and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday.

Les too is a huge fan of the family telling us, “As soon as my agent said they wanted me to read for Fester I said, absolutely! I’ve grown up with the series, then watched the films with my kids recently as they wanted to know more about the Addams Family, but I really wanted to try and bring my own Fester, I love playing him, he’s such fun and he’s the one character who gets to talk to the audience and of course he champions the love affair”.

Both Les and Carrie are clearly having a huge amount of fun touring with this weird and wonderful production which sees the famous cartoon creations of Charles Addams turned into a musical comedy. Carrie describes working on the show as an absolute scream, stating she has never seen a cast as in love with a show as this one; “We have as much fun back stage as we do on stage, it’s just as crazy” Les added, “If you’re anywhere with Cameron Blackley (Gomez) it’s going to be fun and can’t be anything but crazy, he is just life and soul!” Carrie added “On stage he is absolutely brilliant as Gomez and backstage he is basically Gomez without the Spanish accent! It’s such a wonderful company, the cast, the crew, everyone just has so much fun and I think that comes across on stage too, we all hang out together, we all get on so well and we are just having the best time”

credit: Matt Martin

Cameron Blakley as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia.

We asked Les and Carrie which were their favourite numbers in the show, Les particularly loves Happy Sad which Gomez sings, “I think any Dad that has a young daughter and has that heartbreak of her growing up and losing her that song will literally have them in tears, it’s a beautiful song”, Carrie picked a line out that she really loves singing “In Crazier Than You, there is a line I love singing, ‘I’m gonna cut you with my love and with my knife’ for me it just sums up Wednesday completely, loving and terrifying all at the same time”.

The Addams Family opens at The Lowry on 29th August and runs until 9th September, book now for this fabulous family treat, tickets are available via www.theaddamsfamily.co.uk/tourdate/the-lowry-salford/

 

 

Gangsta Granny

 

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Being massive fans of David Walliams children’s fiction, we approached the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of Gangsta Granny with excitement and a little trepidation. What if they didn’t translate Walliams’ clever story and capture his imaginative and laugh-out-loud storytelling to their stage production. It quickly became apparent that the cast were going carry it off and their on-stage interpretation didn’t disappoint.

Ben is an eleven-year-old boy (played by young adult Ashley Cousins) with flamboyant, ball room dancing parents (Rachel Stanley and Benedict Martin). They mean well, but this dancing duo are caught up in their own drama and don’t really have time for Ben or his Granny. As a result, Ben and Granny (played last night by Louise Bailey) are unenthusiastically forced together every Friday night. Ben thinks his granny is the most boring person in the world. She relentlessly feeds him cabbage based meals, even inventing cabbage mouse for desert and their weekly games of Scrabble are the highlight of her week.

Ben would rather do anything than spend time with Granny.

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That is, until he uncovers a secret, suggesting that perhaps Granny is not quite as boring as he thinks. As a result, Ben and Granny embark on an exciting adventure, one that will bring them together and will form an unlikely bond that can’t be broken. Not only do they come within a hairs’ breath of stealing the Crown Jewels, they also meet Her Royal Majesty, the Queen, who treats them with an improbable lenience.

Director Neal Foster and his team should be applauded for their inventive use of space, sound, light and costume design. They worked wonders recreating many different scenes from the book and managed to stay true to the original tale, despite the on-stage constraints. Granny’s recounts of her youthful escapades were wonderfully illustrated by imaginative and elaborate costume design and took the audience on a hilarious journey through her many adventures and encounters.

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Following the interval, the show stepped it up a gear with many more laugh out loud moments and lots of audience participation. Bens involuntary participation in a dancing competition, which was hosted by the hilarious Flavio and played by Devesh Kishore (he also played Raj, an endearing character that appears in most of Walliams’ novels), and the chaos that ensued, had the audience laughing and jumping from their seats in pantomime style.

All in all, this is a heartfelt cross-generational story told with great humour. Be warned, as with many of Walliams children’s stories, there is a sad twist in the tale, but fear not, this is dealt with sensitively and everyone left the theatre happy. According to the youngest member in our party it was “better than the book!”.

On at the Opera House until Sunday 11th June tickets can be found here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/gangsta-granny-2017/opera-house-manchester/

Reviewed by Margot Power

Trainspotting: Live

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Credit: Geraint Lewis

It’s not often that a production leaves me wanting to go straight back and see it again but that is how I felt after watching Trainspotting: Live at The Lowry this week. The incredibly immersive offering, based on the cult Irvine Welsh novel, is punchy, powerful and fizzing with gritty realism. Co- directors Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin have delivered a genius piece of modern theatre which gives audience members the full ‘Trainspotting’ experience as soon as they walk into the auditorium.

Conventionality goes out of the window from the start – there’s no seat numbers on your tickets, instead you are given a glo-wristband where the colour denotes where you’re placed for the show. When you step inside the auditorium the action has already begun and all seven actors that make up the cast are dancing their tits off, glo sticks aloft and banging music playing at full blast. It’s like you are in an underground rave and the electricity and pumping bass lines hit you like a bolt!

Either side of the action are raised seating areas which mean you face each other side on and can witness every hilarious reaction to the crowd participation. It’s not the most comfortable way to watch a show but, as it’s just 75 minutes straight through and hugely transfixing, the numb posterior doesn’t detract you from the action. One thing to note seating wise though is if you are placed by the mid seating toilet then prepare yourself for a soaking as the infamous ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene becomes all too real.

Trainspotting: Live is certainly not for the fainthearted or the easily offended but if you have read the cult novel or seen the film you should be fully aware of what to expect. The beauty of this production is that every night of the run will bring with it a new element of audience related ad-libs, depending on the crowd, as the cast find new ways to offend and delight in equal measure. There’s full frontal nudity, needles, soiled sheets and even a used condom hurled out into the audience!

Credit: Geraint Lewis

The young Scottish cast should be applauded for the physicality of their performances, each one giving all of their energy to the roles, visibly sweating their way through scenes. It’s hard to pick out anyone from such a strong team but a special mention must go to Gavin Ross who plays the central character, Renton. Ross gives a stellar performance and revels in the part that Ewan McGregor made his own. Together the seven strong ensemble bring to life all the key characters and scenes alongside superb use of lighting, sound and a script which is every bit as edgy as the screenplay, immersing you into the dark world of drug addiction from the off.

20 years after Trainspotting hit our screens and asked us to ‘choose life’ 2017 saw the release of the follow up, T2, introducing a whole new generation to this powerful and evocative story. Trainspotting: Live just enhances this following further and I’m sure in its own right will become a cult classic amongst theatre goers and fans alike.

Rest assured you will not be disappointed in this breathtaking, rollercoaster of a show so get your tickets fast and don’t miss it if it stops at a station near you anytime soon.

Runs at The Lowry, Salford until Sat 11th June

https://www.thelowry.com/events/trainspotting

*Best availability for tickets, Thursday 8th June*

The Play That Goes Wrong

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Bursting onto the Lowry stage this week with a crash, bang and almighty wallop is West End smash hit and recent Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong.

Mischief Theatre have come a long way since their humble beginnings in an Inslington Pub and their original production continues to thrill as the company delivers the silliest and most calamitous night out at the theatre you’re ever likely to witness.

Cornley Polytechnic amateur dramatic club invite us to join them as they attempt to stage their bold new production, Murder at Haversham Hall, a 1920’s murder mystery which quickly becomes less whodunnit and more survival of the fittest.

The catastrophes begin immediately as the lights go up prematurely as our victim is still getting himself in place on the chaise lounge. Anything that could go wrong absolutely does in this riotous romp of farcical fun. The physical comedy is hilarious with gag after gag hitting you thick and fast, you just about regain your composure when another disaster unfolds and tears of laughter begin again. From missing props, to set malfunctions you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing as the cast press on with their ‘show must go on attitude’ and remain completely in character despite the chaos unfolding all around them.

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High praise must go to this hardworking ensemble cast, the teamwork involved to enable such slick delivery is impressive; their commitment to making things look so delightfully disastrous is incredible as the madcap mayhem leaves audiences exhausted from laughing so hard. Each person on stage gives their all in this high energy romp and together creates the most wonderful team. Special mention must go to Alistair Kirton as Cecil Haversham he is superb, so thrilled with his own performance any audience applause is too wonderful to ignore. Also Patrick Warner as Inspector Carter, his attempts to remain calm amidst the madness are hilarious. Making it all possible is Nigel Hook’ set which is superb, intricate and sophisticated with all manner of opportunities for disasters to unfold as every piece has its part to play.

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The Play That Goes Wrong is the perfect tonic; the company deliver the most seamless escapist fun, something so important in current times. It’s chaotic, silly, brilliantly bonkers and delightfully daft, an absolute must see!

On at The Lowry until Saturday 10th June https://www.thelowry.com/events/the-play-that-goes-wrong

Buddy

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Everybody knows the tragic story of Buddy Holly: one fateful night, February 3rd 1959, Holly along with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens perished in a plane crash. With that in mind, you may be expecting a melancholic affair from Buddy –The Buddy Holly Story and that couldn’t be further from the truth in what is truly an uplifting and entertaining piece of musical theatre.

The show takes a look at how Holly (Alex Fobbester) and his band The Crickets, started playing country-and-western music: when really their passion lay in ‘rock-n-roll’, and the struggles of initially getting anyone to take him seriously as a ‘skinny white-boy with thick rimmed glasses.’

KJohnnyW Photography

What follows is a series of set pieces as the band hit the recording studio and put down tracks such as That’ll Be the Day and Peggy Sue, followed by a history making performance at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem as Buddy Holly and the Crickets became the first white band to play the theatre.

Following the interval, the production takes a familiar turn as Holly finds love, gets married, and parts company with his band and manager, this seems standard fair for these types of theatre biographies which culminates with Holly’s final gig in Clear Lake, Iowa.

This is a fantastic production which provides an interesting and fun look at Holly’s career, as well as a snap shot of life at the time. Fobbester is on great form as Holly, playing him as a likeable but determined singer. His performance anchors the production and more than does justice to Holly’s legacy with sublime renditions of Rave on and Oh Boy. Fobbester is supported by a relatively small but hard working cast, who are a joy to watch: they are clearly having a ball and this shines through in their performance. Special praise for Thomas Mitchells as the Big Bopper and Matthew Quinn as the Clear Lake compere – who put in great comedic performances that very nearly steal the show.

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I must admit I’m a sucker for the old 50’s radio adverts and the production is littered with these which are comedy gold and a nice touch to a bygone era. The production offers nothing new in terms of storytelling: it’s a tried-and-tested music biography that countless other productions are doing, the difference here is that because of the tragic nature of Holly’s death, you can’t help but hope for a different outcome which you know you’ll never get.

Rave on took on a different meaning in Manchester and the UK following the Happy Mondays’ recording of a different song with the same title. Well Buddy –The Buddy Holly Story is claiming it back and judging by the audience members up dancing in the aisles they’re doing a great job!

Buddy –The Buddy Holly Story is on at The Palace Theatre, Manchester till June 3rd find tickets here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/buddy-the-buddy-holly-story/palace-theatre-manchester/