Back To The Future The Musical

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Ever since it was announced that Back To The Future would be receiving a musical makeover the buzz online has been immense, with fans eager to see just how their beloved film would be recreated on stage while some theatre fans a little sniffy at the possibility of a remake.

With the film’s original creative team of Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis bringing this project from screen to stage it’s certainly fair to say Back To The Future is in very safe hands. Add to the mix Tony award-winning director John Rando and a new score from multiple Grammy-winning Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard, alongside classics from the film’s original soundtrack and any pre-nerves about the quality of the show should disappear, for anyone still unsure, strap yourself in and get yourselves down to Manchester’s Opera House for one hell of a fun ride!

This inventive production stays true to the source material with all the classic lines fans know and love making an appearance with the addition of some welcome creative surprises. Upon entering the theatre what immediately strikes you is Tim Hayley’s bold design lit spectacularly by Hugh Vanstone and Tim Lutkun, illuminating the Opera House stage, sides and ceiling which has the already excited audience positively fizzing.

Recreating such an iconic film means the stakes are unquestionably high, one thing that absolutely had to be right was the casting and boy did they get it right!

Olly Dobson is superb as Marty McFly, perfectly embodying the character fans know so well he sounds so unbelievably like Michael J Fox it’s incredible. Bursting with charisma and bucket-loads of Marty charm this hugely talented actor carries the role off with an effortless ease.

Roger Bart is sensational as Doc Brown, it’s clear to see he’s having a hell of a lot of fun with the role and takes the audience along for the ride. This is not so much an impression more his own eccentric interpretation which die-hard fans will be more than happy giving them even more reason to love the legend that is Doc Brown.

The chemistry between Dobson and Bart is an absolute joy, they bounce of each other brilliantly; their friendship entirely convincing, bringing an enormous amount of fun to this well-crafted piece.

There is strong support from the rest of the cast most notably Hugh Coles, Rosanna Hyland and Cedric Neal who play George McFly, Rosanna Hyland and Cedric Neal respectively.

Hugh Coles is absolutely adored by the audience, receiving a huge roar of approval the moment he utters his first line. So convincing is his portrayal it’s almost as if someone went back in time and grabbed him from the 1985 film. Unbelievable to think this is his professional stage debut as he has the audience rooting for him from the off.

Similarly, Rosanna Hyland convinces entirely as Lorraine Baines, a strong actress with a stunning voice her impressive Lorraine would be hard to top.

Adding a little sass to the production Cedric Neal makes the absolute most of his two roles, he’s a born entertainer and has the audience well and truly in the palm of his hand.

The strong ensemble delivers Chris Bailey’s choreography with precision whilst doubling up in various supporting roles adding some hilarious twists to famous scenes.

Then of course there is the DeLorean, WOW! When these big scenes come my goodness do they impress. The effects are nothing short of spectacular, there’s a feeling from the audience that lifelong dreams are being fulfilled with every activation of the flux capacitor, seeing really is believing, it really is an absolute must-see.

While music favourites from the original film score are greeted with affectionate applause some of the new songs do feel a little unnecessary, while they all work well and fit the story at times it feels like the drama of the piece is interrupted by the introduction of a musical number, shaving a couple wouldn’t do any harm and would allow for the dramatic tension that’s built to grow further. This is a minor quibble however on what really is a hugely impressive production.

Back To The Future The Musical feels like a theatrical event, which has West End written all over it; you know the story yet it continually surprises you, never taking itself too seriously the show delivers everything fans would expect and so much more. State-of-the-art in its delivery the show must be celebrated for bringing many new theatre goers through the doors at the Opera House, such it the appeal of this cultural phenomenon.

No fan could ever come away disappointed and new audiences will marvel at the spectacle while having a whole heap of fun along the way. It’s pure theatrical escapism which you’ll want to return to again and again, spectacular!

Catch Back To The Future The Musicalat Manchester’s Opera House until Sunday 17th May before it’s planned transfer to the West End, further information for London can be found here.


Marisha Wallace | Live


Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hot on the heels of her final Waitress performance and ahead of opening as Motormouth Maybelle in the London Coliseum production of Hairspray this April, Marisha Wallace has embarked on her first ever UK tour; launching with a bang last night at Sale’s Waterside Arts venue.

Bursting onto the stage looking spectacular in silver sequins and white marabou feathers Marisha proves she means business opening with a stunning rendition of Etta James’ Something’s Got A Hold on Me.

Accompanied by a four-piece band led by musical director Ross Stanley and two soulful backing singers, Marisha’s warm personality and magnetic charisma shine through as she opens up to her audience through frequent heartfelt exchanges between songs. Announcing that when she first performed in public aged just 5 years old she forgot all the words, it’s safe to say she had no such problem last night as she promptly treated the excited audience to a superb rendition of Stevie Wonder’s I Was Made To Love Her.

It’s clear to see that soul runs through her veins and the music she listened to growing up as a child in North Carolina has really shaped her as an incredibly expressive performer who communicates not only with her voice but with her whole being. She is an absolute natural on stage, incredible to think at aged just 17 she was told she may never sing again due to a cyst on her vocal chords which following the prayers of her parents miraculously disappeared when she went for surgery leaving scar tissue in its place.

The varied set list has been lovingly created catering perfectly for all tastes, Act 1 is made up largely of soul classics with a lively rendition of Tina Turner’s River Deep Mountain High ensuring this party gets well and truly started while Marisha’s version of The Bee Gee’s How Deep Is Your Love is as emotional as it is pure.

There’s well-chosen tracks from musical theatre with a heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Heart of Stone from musical theatre phenomenon SIX which is given a goose-bump inducing gospel spin while Marisha explains to the audience how the lyrics speak to her, “A heart of stone to me means that love is resilient, that I have loved before and I truly believe my resilient heart means I have the capacity as we all do to love again”. This level of honesty combined with her unquestionable talent endear her to her audience so completely they literally hang on her every word.

She closes Act 1 will a sensational Aretha Franklin medley, a tribute to the legendary singer whom she met backstage when the star came to watch Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, you can’t help but think how much joy her performance would bring to the late great Aretha.

Act 2 opens with Marisha’s catchy new single Fight Like A Woman, a sassy, strong pop anthem entirely fitting for International Women’s Day; she then continues her celebration of iconic performers with a high-energy tribute to the woman she describes as ‘The Voice’ the one and only Whitney Houston. Lapping up this upbeat medley the audience leap to their feet in approval before Marisha silences the room with a powerhouse performance of I Will Always Love You, nothing short of phenomenal, the audience once again up on their feet.

A rousing rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been from Hairspray gives the audience a hint of what they can expect from the forthcoming West End production while Marisha gives us an insight into just how much of a life changer her roles in the West End have been. As her career soared, she faced heart-breaking times in her personal life and through the roles she’s undertaken has developed an optimistic resilience which leads her beautifully into a special version of Tomorrow from Annie blended with Chaka Chan’s moving Love Me Still.

Inviting children from Stagecoach Salford and Manchester Contemporary Youth Choir to join her in an empowering performance of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman allows an opportunity for another inspiring reminder that, “anything is possible, if you just believe in yourself” and of course another standing ovation, the forth or fifth of the show at least, we lost count!

Of course, no performance would be complete without Marisha treating the audience to her jaw-droppingly perfect delivery of And I Am Telling You from smash-hit musical Dreamgirls, this one song is without doubt worth the ticket price alone, stunning from start to finish.

As cries of ‘More’ ring out from the audience Marisha returns to the stage treating us to one final classic, ending the night on the most joyful of highs with a fabulous rendition of Proud Mary, there’s strutting, sass and even an opportunity for some great fun audience participation.

Marisha Wallace’s genuine warmth and incredible talent ensure this is an unforgettable night. Her voice is sublime, smooth as honey and strong as hell. She takes you on an emotional journey with her refreshing honestly while her note perfect delivery will completely blow you away. Talent like hers is rare, so grab your opportunity to witness it while you can!

Tour dates for Marisha Wallace can be found here.







By the Waters of Liverpool

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

By the Waters of Liverpool the follow up go the hugely successful Twopence to cross the Mersey is a continuation of the fascinating life story of Merseyside novelist Helen Forrester. The eldest of seven children Helen and her family were forced to leave behind the luxuries of their middle-class lives after their father went bankrupt due to the Great Depression.

Life without the privileges they were used to was hard, not only faced with the fight to survive but also the increasing rise in fascism which meant war was looming large.

Set pre and early World War II Helen’s is a fascinating, emotional and honest story about the realities of growing up at a time when everything you know has changed, money is tight and tensions within a strained household run high. The family who were once affluent enough to employ their own servants now struggle to keep the creditors from their door with Helen as the eldest child seemingly taking the brunt of her parents shame and frustration.

Using the ‘story theatre’ device characters both narrate and address directly the audience with all cast members aside from Helen (Lucy Dixon) taking on multiple roles. This style of storytelling works incredibly well as characters are brought to life convincingly and with sensitivity by this talented cast.

Mark Moraghan and Sian Reeves convince as Helen’s parents, struggling to adapt to their new lives the tension created in the household feels authentic and adds dramatic tension to the piece. Like the other cast members they skilfully switch between roles with apparent ease.

Dixon is superb as Helen, she really gets to the heart of the character, quietly determined despite the obstacles both life and her family have put in her way. Her sensitive portrayal of a young woman who had to fight hard for the right to make her own choices is both believable and moving.

Eric Potts is a delight in his various roles from zealous ARP warden to enthusiastic dance teacher, he brings great warmth and genuine fun to each role.

Lynn Francis proves what a talented actress she is bringing a real wit and creativity to each character she portrays while Danny O’Brien adds a heartwarming emotional depth to the piece as Helen’s fiancé Harry and Parry Glasspool impresses in multiple clearly defined & strongly delivered roles.

Richard Foxton’s simple set design is evocative and atmospheric beautifully lit by Ian Scott while Kate Harvey’s sound design transports you from scene to scene against the iconic Liverpool backdrop.

Writer Rob Fenah and director Gareth Tudor Price have worked together wonderfully to bring this well-paced and satisfying production to the stage.

This is a celebration of Forrester’s determination and drive to succeed against the odds delivered truthfully.

By the Waters of Liverpool will leave both your heart warmed and your eyes a little misty as this bitter-sweet story leaves its loving mark.

By the Waters of Liverpool will tour until 13th May further information and tickets can be found via the following link

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Insane Animals

Insane Animals press pic 4 (2026). Photo by Drew Forsyth

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Back in 2017 HOME launched it’s T1 project, the idea was to commission new projects and bring them to the art houses 500 seat theatre. The first of these commissions went to the writing duo of George Heyworth and Liv Morris, better known as comedy double-act, Bourgeois & Maurice. What they’ve come up with is Bourgeois & Maurice’s Insane Animals.

This is an epic sci-fi, comedy journey takes us right from the dawn of civilisation through to a bleak looking future for humanity, along the way there are catchy tunes, biting gags, costume changes and sequins… lots of sequins!

Bourgeois & Maurice are a pair of alien gods who have arrived on earth in the present to see what a mess human are making of the world and to bear witness to our inevitable destruction. However, the pair decide to offer humanity a chance of salvation, by looking at the story Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is believed to have formed the basis of the world’s first every recorded story. He is an arrogant, cruel ruler, who persecutes his people. However, with the help of our extra-terrestrial visitors, we will see Gilgamesh, fall in love, suffer and learn what it is to be human, but will it be enough to save humanity?

Insane Animals press pic 9 (2323). Photo by Drew Forsyth

If Bourgeois & Maurice’s Insane Animals is an indicator HOME’s future output then we are in for a treat: this is a silly, surreal, and smart musical, filled with great tunes, cracking one-liners, and great gags. Any show that has references to Ru Paul’s Drag Race and the British Museum’s questionable attitude to how it acquired its collection is of course going to be quite special.

As well as Heyworth and Morris, that cast includes great comic turns from Emer Dineen and Kay Mohamed-Mason playing multiple roles, with the remaining cast double us the backing band, The Forgettables. The songs are catchy, with some great, cutting lyrics with standout numbers being Brink of Extinction and the hilarious, self-aggrandising Thank God.

Michael Hankin’s set design is clearly a love letter to to the B movies of the 1950’s with the set during the first act resembling an unopened buffet at a labour club, there’s lots of silver foil which is by no mean a criticism, it adds to the shows charm.  Julian Smith’s costumes are OTT and look absolutely fabulous, perfect for the production.

Insane Animals press pic 5 (2054). Photo by Drew Forsyth

The show isn’t without its flaws at times the choreography is a bit all over the place whilst adding to the sense of fun can become a little distracting.

With Bourgeois & Maurice’s Insane Animals the writing team of Heyworth, Morris and director Philip McMahon have created the natural successor to Rocky Horror Picture Show (no one really remembers 1981 follow up Shock Treatment), knowingly kitsch, often camp and occasionally crude, this is an original, fun, entertaining romp where nothing is off limits and everything is fair game!

Bourgeois & Maurice’s Insane Animals is at HOME till the 14th March 2020 tickets available here.


BRB | Swan Lake


Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Birmingham Royal Ballet brings ballets greatest love story to the Lowry’s lyric stage this week and it is as breathtakingly beautiful as ever.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s instantly recognisable score, played to perfection by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Swan Lake offers an unforgettable night of theatre. From the opening of Act I it’s clear to see why this classic production first created in 1981 by Sir Peter Wright and Galina Samsova remains a firm audience favourite. From stunningly intricate choreography to lavish sets, sumptuous costumes to sensational performances this magnificent production has it all.


Split into four acts Swan Lake tells the dramatic love story of Prince Siegfried and Odette; impeccably danced by César Morales and Momoko Hirata. Opening with a funeral scene following the death of The King, Prince Siegfried’s fear of a forced marriage is realised. With no desire to marry he distracts himself by heading off to the Lake with faithful equerry Benno (danced wonderfully by Tzu-Chao Chou) for a spot of hunting. It is here by the moonlit waters he witnesses the majestic Odette, a stunning Swan Princess who has been cursed to live as a Swan by evil sorcerer Baron von Rothbart. The spark is immediate, and the Prince falls hopelessly in love. From here their dramatic story unfolds, exquisitely told by this highly skilled company.

César Morales excels as Prince Siegfried, athletic yet gentle his bewitching by the glittering Odette feels entirely believable. Momoko Hirata captivates entirely, her elegance as the delicate Odette in complete contrast to the determined and devious Odile. She performs the complex choreography with such graceful ease appearing at times to almost float on air. The pairing of Morales and Hirata works beautifully every intricate movement appears effortless with each moving pas de deux receiving rapturous applause.


One thing which really stands out in this production is BRB’s ability to consistently deliver complex choreography while still ensuring the storytelling is both clear and well defined. There is never any confusion as to what is happening on stage as the company have wholeheartedly mastered the art of storytelling through dance. The addition of Phillip Prowse’s grand sets and lavish costumes adding depth and richness.

This is truly a company production and no Swan Lake is complete without the iconic cygnets whose presence on stage for the opening of Act IIIV drew gasps of delight prompting a spontaneous applause so impressive was the sight. Their perfectly in-sync delivery is a genuine moment of unforgettable joy.


This thrilling production really is a ballet for all; young , old, long standing ballet fans and first timers alike will fall in love with BRB’s Swan Lake, epic in scale and exceptional in delivery, if you only ever see one ballet make sure it’s this one.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake is on at The Lowry until Saturday 7th March tickets available here.

*Images used are 2020 touring cast