Teletubbies Live

Teletubbies Live 1 Photo Credit Dan Tsantilis

Credit: Dan Tsantilis

As the sun sets across the country and small children are being coaxed to sleep in households everywhere there has been one main stay on children’s television for the past 20 years and that is the highly successful Ragdoll production of Teletubbies Live.

A beautiful programme, telling simple stories to children about four very colourful alien like characters living in a floral woodland landscape. Having watched the show most evenings with my own children growing up it was with much excitement that I would get to take my three year old son to see it brought to life in the World Premiere of Limelight’s new theatre production.

Written and directed by Richard Lewis the show entitled ‘Big Hugs’ follows exactly the same format as the TV show with the baby face in the sun rising at the start and Dipsy, LaLa, Tinky Winky and Po popping out of the grassy background to squeals of excitement from the young audience. Teletubbies Live has the highly energetic Sam (Naomi Slater) linking each scene and providing the dance actions to all the songs and her performance is as enthusiastic as you would expect. There are very simple children’s stories such as counting sheep and chasing rabbits plus annoyingly addictive songs throughout which keep the exuberant audience jumping up and down.

Teletubbies Live 2 Photo Credit Dan Tsantilis

Credit: Dan Tsantilis

The transition to stage for such a well know show is seamless and every child (and plenty of adults) left the theatre with an extra spring in their step and catchy melodies humming round their heads. My little boy spent most of the show with his eyes like saucers and mouth wide open as he tried to work out how his favourite character Noo Noo the vacuum cleaner was within touching distance and not behind a glass flat screen!

Say ‘Eh Oh’ to this beautiful children’s theatre show with the little ones in your life as it tours the country and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Opening Night guest reviewer: Justin Eagleton

Teletubbies Live runs at the Palace Theatre Manchester until Sunday 19 November   www.atgtickets.com

For national tour dates visit www.Teletubbieslive.com

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Little Women

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Louisa May Alcott’s much loved classic about the four March sisters growing up in Civil War-era New England has been a literary favourite for almost 150 years now. Seen previously on the big screen, radio plays, TV series and straight theatre plays the March sisters undoubtedly have a place in the hearts of many, this is the first time however the Broadway musical has made its way to European shores as the incredibly successful pairing of Hope Mill Theatreand Aria Entertainment continue their vision to deliver accessible musical theatre in Manchester.

The production offers a condensed take on the heart-warming story of trailblazer Jo and her three sisters, Meg, Beth and Amy March, with Jo at the spirited centre of the piece. With their father off at war and their mothers encouragement to be the best versions of themselves they can be, the sisters set out on their path to becoming ‘little women’.

Amie Giselle-Ward is outstanding as Jo, passionate, strong and always true to herself, Giselle-Ward embodies perfectly the brash and bold Jo Marsh with a raw energy that utterly captivates, fiercely loyal and defiantly proud her characterisation is honest and raw as she delivers an incredibly moving and deeply emotional performance. She fizzes and boils over with a determination to live the life she chooses not one society choses for her, a woman seemingly ahead of her time when the book was first published in 1868 and an absolute heroine to women today.

The ten strong cast are incredibly hard working and beautifully demonstrate the importance and strength of family, love and hope regardless of the situation or difficulties they face. Each of the sisters are perfectly cast, Jemima Watling is superb as Meg, sweet and sensible, with a heart full of love. Katie Marie-Carter makes for a fabulous Amy, spoiled and selfish she is wonderfully dramatic. Cathy Read plays Beth with sweet affection, gentle and kind with a real sincerity she is the calm to Jo’s perfect storm.

Bronagh Lagan’s direction ensures the production remains entirely committed to delivering Louisa May Alcott’s message of love, family and female empowerment with wonderful storytelling throughout.

Ben M Rogers light design gently warms the production, allowing Nik Corrall’s simplistic yet effective set to shine. The intimate setting of Hope Mill Theatre is perfect for this engaging production, giving audiences the most wonderful connection with the characters as Jason Howard’s music and Mindi Dickstein’s lyrics are brought to life by Rickey Long’s superb musical direction.

Little Women is a celebration, joyful, spirited and full of heart. The perfect festive treat for all ages, delivering an important and current message that into each life some rain must fall but never let that diminish the fire within you.

On at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 9th December tickets available here

Hope Mill Theatre announces 2018 season!

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Award-winning Hope Mill Theatre and resident producer Aria Entertainment today announce their much anticipated 2018 season, with three bold, exciting and ambitious in-house productions.

The converted mill in Ancoats currently hosting the European premiere of Little Women enjoyed a landmark 2017 season which saw 5* critically acclaimed productions and London transfers for Yank! and Hair with Pippin following in early 2018 will begin the season with the world premiere of new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries (on sale today).

This new musical comedy which runs from 18 January to 10 February 2018 charts the hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking sagas of mid-life dating. When twice-divorced Lily inadvertently finds herself under a much younger man, it opens the door to a wild new world of inappropriate relationships. From Tom the Tender to Sam the Submissive, via Paul the Policeman, Hat Trick Patrick and Matt the Monstrous (with Old Willy and Philandering Phil mixed in along the way) Lily finally finds Ben the Bountiful.

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Spring Awakening will run from 19 March to 3 May 2018. A production hailed as “one of the great musicals of the last decade” (New York Times) and the winner of eight Tony and four Olivier Awards, Spring Awakening follows a group of teenagers in late-19th-century Germany navigating the struggles and virtues of blossoming youth, with an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and a Grammy award-winning rock score. This landmark musical will be presented in an intimate and bold new production helmed by director Luke Sheppard (In The Heights, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole).

Third show to be announced is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic classic Aspects of Love which will run from 5 July to 4 August 2018. Featuring the iconic “Love Changes Everything” Aspects of Love tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their artistic companions, against a background of 1940’s France and Italy.

The hugely successful partnership between Joseph Houston and William Whelton, the co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre and producer Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment is further testament to their commitment to make Hope Mill Theatre the home of new musicals and revivals in the north and beyond with two more yet-to-be announced productions in Autumn/Winter.

Hope Mill Theatre Exterior Shot

William Whelton and Joseph Houston, co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre said: “We wanted to make sure our third season was even more ambitious and we feel we have managed to achieve that with the world premiere of the new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries, an exciting revival of Spring Awakening with an Olivier Award-winning creative team and our first staging of an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic – Aspects of love. Once again we have proved the power of regional theatre and continue to spearhead Hope Mill Theatre as a leading player in new musical staging, musical premieres and exciting revivals.”

Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment, who has just seen her production of The Addams Family transfer to Singapore stated “I have enjoyed working with the theatre on taking our shows to new commercial levels in London and am extremely delighted to announce the first three shows of our 2018 season, it is an honour to share this diverse selection of work with you. We hope to continue to champion the genre and bring in audiences from far and wide.”

Further information can be found here

@Hopemilltheatr1

@ToyBoyDiaries

 

Spamalot

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Review by Matthew Forrest 

 The programme states that Spamalot is lovingly ripped off from the motion picture” of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Well for my money, this production is doing itself a disservice; if anything it’s enhancing the ‘Python’ legacy and introducing them to a wider audience. 

As a Python fan, you sometimes take it as a given that most people will love them and their work as much as you do. However that’s not always the case, as some people just “don’t get it” or have never seen the Python’s in action before. For die-hard fans like myself, the nay-sayers and the unacquainted, Spamalot is the perfect night out, suitably ridiculous, occasionally bewildering, but always hilarious! 

Following the plot of the film, Spamalot sees King Arthur and his faithful servant Patsy, as they attempt to enlist various brave and not so brave knights to join him at his court in Camelot. It is here that the voice of God or, more accurately Eric Idle, send Arthur and his Knights on a quest to seek out the Holy Grail. 

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As you would expect it’s absolutely bonkers: most of the set-pieces are in there, from The Knights who say Nee and Black Knight: with the welcome addition of a new character in the Lady of Lake. 

The cast are on great form: Bob Harms is excellent as the pompous, self-absorbed King Arthur, Rhys Owens is on equally good form as Patsy, a polar opposite to his master but certainly the brains of the outfit. Sarah Harlington offers a scene stealing turn as the Lady of the Lake, who has an equally inflated opinion of herself, similar to that of King Arthur. 

They are supported by a fantastic, hard-working cast with most taking on multiple roles, who are all given their moments to shine. Standout scenes include Jonathan Tweedie’s Lancelot and his daring rescue of Prince Herbert and the cast’s spectacular Knights of the Round Table routine. 

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Eric Idle, along with John du Prez have come up with catchy and funny tunes that aren’t strictly in keeping with the show. The Song That Goes Like This takes a much-needed swipe at musicals and their big defining tunes, whilst You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz, takes a well-aimed shot at celebrity culture and has been updated with numerous topical references. In addition, there is the über-camp His Name is Lancelot and of course the old faithful Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. However, it’s Sarah Harlington’s vocals on Whatever Happened To My Part? and her duet with Norton James in Lady of the Lake that really bring the house down. Harlington’s voice is phenomenal: so much power blended with her comic timing certainly make you wish her part was that bit bigger. 

Director Daniel Buckroyd has certainly got the best out of his cast, with all involved displaying a gift for comedy, and allowing room for a spot of adlibbing as well.  Some cast members just about managed to told hold it together, which really added to the fun of it all. 

I really can’t fault this wonderful show. It has everything you would want in a musical: silly, uplifting fun, catchy tunes and a sing-a-long, to boot. You really can’t ask for more. Spamalot is currently on a nationwide tour and is well worth catching when it comes to a theatre near you. 

 On at the Manchester Palace Theatre till the 11th November tickets available here

 

 

The Snowman

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Opening Night Verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Based on the classic book by Raymond Briggs and the much loved film directed by Dianne Jackson, Birmingham Repetory Theatre’s The Snowman flies into Manchester’s Opera House this week.

This enchanting show, now in almost its 25th year remains true to the original story with a few added surprises and unexpected treats along the way. One Christmas Eve we see a little boy lovingly build a huge snowman, hours later, far too excited to sleep he creeps downstairs to find that his snowman has magically come to life and is about to take him on an exciting adventure he will never forget.

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This classic production features a sparkling array of enchanting characters including the villainous Jack Frost, a beautiful snow princess, super cute sleigh pulling deer and even a limboing banana! Ruari Murchison’s set is fabulously festive as wintry projections give a sense of everything taking place from within a giant snowglobe. There is no speech in this dance and musical piece nor is it needed, the storytelling delivered by the cast of colourful characters is wonderfully clear and enchants the very youngest to the very oldest in the audience.

Composer Howard Blake’s score further adds to the descriptive nature of the production, from loud stomping footsteps through the snow, the ticking of a clock to the delicate drop of snowflakes his score is sweeping and magical. Robert North’s choreography suits each individual character perfectly, from prancing penguins to jolly Father Christmas who wiggles his bum before dancing a jig. And of course the classic, “We’re Walking In The Air” is featured to great effect, astonishing the children in the audience entirely, we won’t spoil the surprise though, you’ll have to see the show!

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A perfect introduction to theatre for young children with its clear and vibrant storytelling, The Snowman is an entirely enchanting production offering a taster of ballet in an informal and accessible way. Genuine humour and strong characterisation in this charming tale ensures The Snowman will continue to be a family favourite for many years to come.

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-snowman/opera-house-manchester/

Things I know to be True

Things

Opening Night’s verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Following on from a hugely successful and critically acclaimed 2016 tour of Australia and the UK Things I Know to be True presented by Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia arrives at Chester’s stunning Storyhouse this week.

Before the production begins an announcement is made informing the audience that unfortunately John McArdle is unwell and instead artistic director Scott Graham will take on the role of Bob, script in hand. This is of no detriment to the production, Graham clearly knows the play well and gives an excellent and moving performance, perhaps a little ironic and in keeping with the themes of Andrew Bovell’s play, life indeed is unpredictable and challenges frequently arise.

Bovell’s focus for the piece is the Price family, a family who on the face of things seem average and ordinary soon become complex and entirely captivating. We see life through the eyes of the four grown up children, sons and daughters to Fran and Bob, working class parents who strived to give their children opportunities and more than they had. The pressure to rise to these expectations however means cracks soon begin to show as their children struggle to be more yet are consumed with their desire to have more. Cracks become chasms as illusions and pretences are shattered and exposed as individuals begin to break under the burden of responsibility and crushing love.

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This is a beautiful and deeply moving dissection of family life, where secrets are uncovered and resentments boil over, missed opportunities become deep regrets as the emotional fragility of the family is laid bare.

Added to Bovell’s outstanding script is Frantic Assembly’s superbly physical storytelling. Outstandingly choreographed movements add depth and meaning to the piece, they also offer the audience precious moments to reflect and process the struggles and bombshells playing out before them in this visually mesmerising production.

Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham’s direction is exceptional, beautifully staged and stunningly lit by Geoff Cobham. The extremely hard-working cast deliver an entirely flawless performance; each actor on stage fully embraces Bovell’s complex and multifaceted characters. Special mention goes to Cate Hamer as the families matriarchal Mother, Hamer is utterly compelling as Fran, strong, sharp and witty yet burdened by missed opportunities of what might have been and drowning with worry about her children.

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Things I Know to be True is a deeply moving piece of theatre, laugh out loud funny in parts yet achingly sad in others, strikingly beautiful and visually captivating, powerful and poignant. Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company have delivered a perfect piece of theatre.

On at Chester’s Storyhouse until Saturday 11th November, tickets available here http://www.storyhouse.com/event/things-i-know-to-be-true

Competition – Teletubbies


The Teletubbies are coming to Manchester this month with the premiere of their first EVER stage tour with the show, Big Hugs!
Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po will be taking to the stage at the Palace Theatre, Manchester from Friday 17th until Sunday 19th November in a show filled with love and laughter as they explore the magical world of Teletubbies Land.

We have 1 x family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) to give away for the 4pm performance on Friday 17th November. To be in with a chance to win simply like our Facebook page, leave your name in the comments box and share this post!

The winner will be announced at 7pm on Sunday 12th November!

Tickets and further information for this fabulous family adventure can be found at www.atgtickets.com/shows/teletubbies-big-hugs/palace-theatre-manchester/