Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It is of course the time of year for that most British of institutions…the Panto, so it’s only fair that the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have a crack at it with their version of Peter Pan. The trouble is this lot are to high-quality theatre what the Daily Mail is to fair and unbiased reporting!

The Cornley PDS are of course the creation of super-talented Mischief Theatre Company, who bring their smash-hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong, to the Lowry just in time for the festive season.

Like their pervious offering, The Play That Goes Wrong, this production focuses on the hard working, but inept ‘amdram’ troop as they attempt to put on a performance of JM Barrie’s classic, which as director Chris Bean is at great pains to stress “isn’t a pantomime, more a  Christmas classic”, with disastrous, yet hilarious results.

This is a play within a play, as the Cornley players each with their egos, foibles and lack of ability soldier on in an attempt to put on the best show possible: these include, Jonathan, as Peter Pan (Ciaran Kellgren), a lady’s man, whose wandering eye and haphazard flying technique keep plunging the show into chaos. We also have Sandra, as Wendy Darling (Katy Daghorn) who is desperate to standout from the crowd, with a somewhat OTT, performance. Then there is Max, as Michael Darling/crocodile (Tom Babbage) who is only in the show because his family are bank rolling it, he also has a soft spot for Sandra.

In addition to these three, we have egotistical co-directors Chris and Robert (Connor Crawford and Oliver Senton), a petrified actor, Lucy (Georgia Bradley) searching for her voice, Dennis (Rommayne Andrews) an actor, who needs his lines feeding to him via headphones. Then there is Francis, the show’s narrator (Patrick Warner) who is having all manner of issues with his stage entrance/exit, and pyrotechnics, then finally Annie (Phoebe Ellabani) who has more costume changes than Beyoncé. As well as these combustible elements, there are technical difficulties blighting the performance from radio interference from a local taxi firm, to a revolving stage with a mind of its own.

Once again Mischief have created another comic masterpiece, full of slapstick, outstanding physical comedy, great comedic set pieces which come thick and fast, sure some of the gags you can see coming a mile off but that’s half the fun of it. The show is very similar in delivery to that of Mischief’s previous productions, but it’s a format that clearly works and is a must for fans or a perfect introduction to what they are all about.

There is so much to admire from the outstanding cast, who all get their moments to shine, the clever writing, and most impressive of all the technical wizardry of the production team all combine to make this show such a treat.

Just like a puppy this show shouldn’t be just for Christmas, it will bring you joy and laughter no matter what time of year you watch it.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Lowry till 7th December tickets available here.

SIX The Musical

SIX

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In just two short years SIX the musical has gone from launching at a 100 seater venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to preparing to open on Broadway at the 1000 seater Brooks Atkinson Theatre next February. To say the show has been a success is a mega understatement; rarely does a new musical capture the imaginations of the public in quite the way SIX has. With loyal fans eagerly joining the Queendom and social media awash with cosplay costumes and videos of the show’s final number (the megaSix) a second UK tour was inevitable and lucky for us SIX chose to return to The Lowry for a festive six week run.

SIX

The premise although seemingly simple is brilliantly innovative. The Queens until now have been confined to the history books, summoned occasionally when children recite the old ‘Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived’ rhyme; deciding enough is enough the Queens finally find their voices each taking their turn in a lyrical battle in a bid to prove once and for all who really did have the toughest ride at the hands of their infamous husband Henry VIII.

Part pop concert, part staged musical SIX is a fierce and fabulous retelling of history, remixed and reimagined for a whole new generation. Every song is outstanding in its originality and pure genius. Each Queen is offered the opportunity to walk away with the crown allowing every cast member to breathe life, heart, soul and some serious sass into their namesakes. Individually they are uniquely brilliant together they create the ultimate girl band; guiding us through a sisterly retelling of their forgotten stories while poking fun and posturing for the top spot along the way.

SIX

Lauren Drew commands the stage as Catherine of Aragon, statuesque and strong she switches from stone cold serious to super fun with a skilful ease. Maddison Bulleyment has perfect comedy timing as Anne Boleyn even managing to make getting behead get plenty of laughs while Lauren Byrne’s soaring vocals are a real goosebump inducing moment.

Shekinah McFarlane is a joy as Anna of Cleves with bags of sass and the richest of voices while Jodie Steele captures perfectly the lost innocence of Katherine Howard in her heartbreakingly brilliant version of All You Wanna Do.

SIX

At tonight’s performance alternate Harriet Watson takes on the role of Catherine Parr, her crystal clear vocals and genuine warmth more than doing justice to Marlow & Moss’s lyrics.

The diversity of the cast is enormously refreshing to see, while each individual delivers a fully realised, complex character. The wide range of pop influences ranging from Beyoncé to Britney will ensure the melodies stay with you for days while the lyrics give make these historical women much more than ‘just wives’ giving them heaps of personality and depth.

Gabriella Slade’s edgy costume design has a fun, modern feel while Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography cements the strong girl power vibe.

SIX

SIX hits every mark as a perfect piece of theatre, innovative, uplifting, funny & immensely empowering. If this is what herstory looks like then sign me up now for the school of Marlow and Moss!

You can catch SIX The Musical at The Lowry until Saturday 11th Jan with the extra week added due to phenomenal demanding having the best availability tickets can be found here.

 

Marvel Universe LIVE!

mul2_20170625_01793_edit_0

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Kate Goerner

It’s been hard to avoid the all-conquering global domination of the Marvel universe in the past decade, thanks to the big screen smash hits of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. And now you can see your superhero faves up close and personal in a new Arena size show – Marvel Universe LIVE!

In Manchester this weekend, the show features aerial stunts, martial arts, daring motorcycle skills, pyrotechnics, special effects, 3D video projection and much more. Called on by Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy join the Avengers on a momentous crusade against the scheming Nebula who teams up with the conniving and loathsome villains Loki and Green Goblin.

mul2_20170624_10679_edit_0_0 - Copy

The incredible superhuman forces of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk and Black Widow will unite in clashes that pit student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.

Given that the popularity of the Avengers & Co is so huge that parents would probably fork out for anything branded under that banner, it’s gratifying to see the level of work and sheer skill that has gone into this massive show. All credit to Marvel and producers Feld Entertainment for delivering a budget-busting, large-scale production that’s chock full of thrilling stunts and action packed dramatics. You really do get plenty of bang for your buck here.

mul2_20170624_10617_edit_0 - Copy

The main attraction is certainly the much loved characters – who jump, punch, kick, fly and web-sling their way through proceedings. The costumes and wigs etc are spot on, with a special shout out for our favourites Groot and Rocket Racoon from Guardians of the Galaxy.

A stunning sequence on motorbikes had us holding our breath and a scene-stealing appearance by the mean, green Hulk was well worth the wait! The fight choreography is spot on, executed with precision by the impressive hardworking cast of over 25 performers. But it’s not all explosions and punch-ups though, there’s some really artistic moments to enjoy too, including a stunning display of aerial artists on silks and a dramatic section with a host of fire jugglers. And the terracotta warrior statues that ‘come to life’ were beautifully realised too.

mul2_20170625_00773_edit_0

My little Captain America certainly didn’t want it to end, declaring it “the best show he had ever seen!” Which is high praise indeed.

Marvel Universe LIVE! definitely puts the super into superhero!

Further information, tickets and tour dates can be found here.

 

Jack and the Beanstalk

Review by our mini reviewer, Daisy Eagleton, aged 9.

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Christmas showstopper Jack and the Beanstalk, which is one of my favourite pantomimes, is jam-packed with some great actors at the Oldham Coliseum.

Jack was played by Sam Glenn who did an amazing job of making everybody smile with his fun personality.

Chris Lawson directed the show and brought in a different vibe to the usual panto, making this very modern, tackling things like veganism and how we use so much technology!

I loved the young dancers in the show, and they had such beautiful and colourful costumes – I wish I could dance like they did.

A big mention needs to go to everyone behind the scenes as they did a great job with the scenery and set; the huge beanstalk coming out of the ground and going into the air was so magical to watch.

The real laughs in the show come from watching Dame Dotty Trott, played by Richard J Fletcher, who made everyone nearly fall out of their seats with his funny jokes and over the top outfits. His unicorn costume was definitely the best!

My favourite character was Hazy the Hippy Cow, played by Mitesh Soni, who danced to ‘I like to moo-ve it’ and said we should ‘give peas a chance’, which made me smile a lot.

If you like pop music too, there’s so many hits in the show, including ‘Giant’ by Rag n Bone Man, which is really cool and got me and the rest of the kids in the audience singing along to it.

This pantomime was so good, me and my five-year-old brother loved it. It’s on until January 12th 2020 and I would definitely say to go see it!

Jack and the Beanstalk, Oldham Coliseum 16th Nov-11th Jan 2020 tickets available here.

The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit

Copyright Phil Tragen 2019

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hope Mill Theatre’s 2019 seasonal offering The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit acts as a sequel of sorts to the much-loved Charles Dickens classic; A Christmas Carol.

We follow the story of ‘Tiny Tim’ who now at almost 16 lives with his guardian Ebenezer Scrooge. As his sixtieth birthday fast approaches Timothy (Ryan Kopel) decides instead of following in the footsteps of Ebenezer (Paul Greenwood), committing himself to a life of counting money he instead wishes to broaden his horizons by exploring the world and making a life for himself in his own unique way.

Copyright Phil Tragen 2019

Quickly realising times will be tough without the security and backing of Mr Scrooge Timothy sets about seeking employment, soon realising that perhaps life isn’t quite the wide-eyed adventure he’d anticipated.

He meets a whole host of colourful characters in his bid for independence most notably a glorious group of clowns expertly led by the infamous Grimaldi. The boarding house he lodges at also offers some unexpected life experiences where the hope of a happy ending finally seems possible when housemaid Lucy (Sammy Graham) catches Timothy’s eye; but of course this is theatre so expect testing times and little soul-searching scenes to fall in the path towards that happy ending.

Copyright Phil Tragen 2019

Ryan Kopel is outstanding as Timothy, loyal to his beloved Mr Scrooge yet quietly determined to walk his own path he gives a charismatic and enormously engaging performance. Barely leaving the stage throughout his energy and commitment is richly rewarded, winning the audience over with soaring vocals and a genuinely warm likability as he grows in both strength and stature.

Paul Greenwood makes for a passionate and powerful Ebenezer Scrooge who softens at the mere sight of his beloved Ward.

Copyright Phil Tragen 2019

Michael Matus is a joy as unpredictable Grimaldi injecting humour as well as some surprising poignancy to the story. Tantruming one moment then turning on the star quality the next his characterisation is well defined and his delivery wonderfully entertaining.

The talented ensemble which includes several actor/musicians take on multiple roles all to great effect. Under Jonathan O’Boyle’s clear direction transitions are fluid and characters well defined while the vocals of every cast member are sublime adding richness to Andre Catrini’s melodic score which is beautifully delivered by a band of five led by Chris Poon.

Copyright Phil Tragen 2019

The story is without doubt quirky and at times is a little bonkers but the strength of the cast combined with a dedicated artistically driven creative team ensure the right elements are realised to make this unique story a success. Ultimately a journey of self-discovery, love and the importance of how we connect with each other, delivered with real heart and great humour, a wonderfully uplifting tale for the festive season.

Catch The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit at Hope Mill Theatre until Sunday 29th December tickets available here.

Preview | Marvel Universe LIVE!

Marvel 2

If you have a little Captain America or Black Widow who loves all things Marvel – then Manchester Arena is the place to be this week!

Marvel Universe LIVE! Is an action packed arena stunt show, where audiences can enjoy seeing all their favourite heroes and villains do battle live!

Marvel 3

The brand new show – from the team behind Disney on Ice – is at the Arena from Thursday 28th November to Sunday 1st December and features aerial stunts, martial arts, daring motorcycle skills, pyrotechnics, special effects, 3D video projection and much more.

From Spider-Man to The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, this really sounds like a must-see show for any comic book-mad little (and big!) kids.

Marvel 4

Called on by Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy join the Avengers on a momentous crusade against the scheming Nebula who teams up with the conniving and loathsome villains Loki and Green Goblin.

The incredible superhuman forces of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk and Black Widow will unite in clashes that pit student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.

Marvel Live

“Our tremendously talented creative team and a nearly super human cast, have created a show that brings Marvel to life,” said Juliette Feld, producer of Marvel Universe LIVE! “The show creates an experience that immerses families in non-stop action, creating movie-style thrills and jaw-dropping stunts that showcase the powers of your favourite Super Heroes right before your eyes.”

For tickets and more information visit www.marveluniverselive.co.uk

 

The Red Shoes

THE RED SHOES

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures premiered The Red Shoes in 2016 it stunned audiences and critics alike, winning two Olivier Awards as well as the LA Critics’ Award for both choreography and set and costume design. Returning for 2019 this breathtakingly beautiful piece of theatre proves to be as timeless a classic as ever.

Based on the 1948 Powell and Pressburger film which drew it’s inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Red Shoes this perfectly paced production is rich in indulgent theatricality, sweeping you up on a joyous, heart-wrenching, mesmerising journey from the moment Benard Herrmann’s stunning score with orchestrations from Terry Davies begins.

THE RED SHOES

The Red Shoes tells the powerful story of young ballerina Victoria Page (Ashley Shaw) who swiftly rises to the position of principal dancer after her recent arrival at an established ballet company. Her success brings her to the attention of both composer Julain Craster (Dominic North) and also that of the dance company’s powerful impresario Boris Lermontov (Adam Cooper). With the first there is a genuine truth and innocence with the second the lure of higher artistic achievement pulls like a magnet, which ignites a battle between ambition and true love.

Ashley Shaw makes a welcome return to the role of Victoria Page a role she originated in 2016; her performance feels entirely authentic as she weaves her way through a whole spectrum of emotions capturing euphoria and bliss just as convincingly as she portrays terror and furious anger. This authentic emotion paired with her exquisite technique and precise delivery is nothing short of magnificent, embodying the young dancer to perfection. Her performance during The Ballet of The Red Shoes is mesmerising as she is firstly enthralled by then ultimately captured by the shoes, she tells the story movingly and with her whole being.

THE RED SHOES

Adam Cooper’s Boris Lermontov is strong and domineering, seductive in both his power and precision, he stalks the stage bringing an ever-present feeling of temptation and danger while Dominic North’s portrayal of struggling composer Julian Craster is a joy to watch, his solo piece in Act One develops a strong characterisation which he maintains superbly throughout

Bourne’s skilful storytelling and his unbeatable attention to detail matched with a company of dancers at the absolute top of their game ensures that this production enthrals entirely. From playful scenes on the French Riviera to intensely passionate duets every element of choreography is slick, masterful and exciting while every single person on stage gives an impressive and fully developed performance. It is such a visual treat almost cinematic at times that one viewing doesn’t feel like enough, every scene could stand alone and happily satisfy any theatre goer.

THE RED SHOES

Lez Brotherston award-winning set design is immediately striking and wonderfully effective. Allowing the audience access to both onstage and off-stage scenes via a grand revolving sumptuously curtained frame which almost feels like it pirouette’s before your eyes, drawing you into the very heart of the drama, lit beautifully by Paule Constable.

The Red Shoes is a unique piece of theatre in which every element has been crafted with such love and care that the end result is an unquestionably perfect piece of theatrical magic. Bourne’s wonderfully clear storytelling ensures that anyone dipping their toe into the dance world would find the show accessible while seasoned fans of his work will revel in the thrill of having another dazzling piece to enjoy, a masterpiece!

The Red Shoes is on at The Lowry until Saturday 30th November, tickets available here.