Wicked

WICKED UK & Ireland Tour. Photo Credit Matt Crockett (2)

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Global sensation Wicked flew into Manchester this week for the final stop on a mega UK and international tour which has travelled over 27,000 miles taking in destinations far and wide from Singapore to Switzerland. This final leg brings it back to Manchester’s Palace theatre offering audience’s one final chance to catch the smash-hit musical outside of the capital.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked has now been seen by over 60 million people worldwide with an incredible 73,000 tickets being sold here in Manchester for this current production.

Wicked - The Emerald City. Photo credit Matt Crockett

Telling the untold story of the Witches of Oz before, during and after Dorothy so rudely landed on top of one of them, Maguire turns the well-known characters created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz upside down as we soon begin to realise there are most definitely two sides to every story. We follow the unconventional and unexpected friendship of Elphaba and Glinda who meet on their first day of University and the journey which leads them to ultimately become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda The Good.

The familiar becomes unfamiliar, as everything we thought we knew about the magical land of Oz doesn’t seem quite so clean-cut anymore, even questioning the morality of Dorothy at one point, I mean seriously though who does steal a dead woman’s shoes?

WICKED UK & Ireland Tour. Photo Credit Matt Crockett (4)

Amy Ross is truly magical as Elphaba, one of the best performers I’ve seen. She is mesmerising in the role giving a masterclass in stortytelling. Her delivery of the iconic Defying Gravity note perfect and packing a powerful punch, she convinces entirely, nailing every goose bump inducing moment to perfection.

Helen Woolf is superb as Glinda, she portrays the ditsy blonde with real heart and joyful conviction bringing light and sparkle to the piece. She is flamboyant, funny and totally fabulous, her strong characterisation and comic timing ensuring she perfectly embodies Glinda the Good.

WICKED UK & Ireland Tour. Photo Credit Matt Crockett 1

The chemistry between Ross and Woolf is a delight to watch, their friendship entirely believable. Together they are funny, fascinating and at times deeply moving, their powerful duet For Good a real stand out moment which leaves the majority of the audience reaching for the tissues.

Audience favourite Aaron Sidwell is laid-back and suave as Fiyero while the ensemble make dancing in Susan Hilferty’s exceptional costumes look impressively easy.

Wicked - Defying Gravity. Photo credit Matt Crockett

Wicked recently celebrated 15 years on Broadway and is currently one of the longest running productions on the West End and after tonight it’s easy to see why, as a show it never fails to thrill. It’s an outstanding piece of musical theatre which loses none of the wow factor of its West End counterpart. From Eugene Lee’s big, bold set to Stephen Schwartz’s sensational music and lyrics, Wicked delivers everything you could wish for from the magical land of Oz.

The standing ovations will no doubt continue night after night of the 5 week run, the pleasure this perfect production brings is difficult to rival. A spellbinding show which enchants every time.

Wicked is on at the Palace theatre until Saturday 5th January, tickets available here.

Wizard of Oz Interviews | Part 2 | Holly Tandy

Holly Tandy

Following on from our chat with Kelvin Fletcher, we caught up with Holly Tandy who is about to step into the ruby slippers and play Dorothy in Sellador’s Blackpool Christmas extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz.

Opening Night: This is your first musical theatre role, how are you feeling?

Holly: I’m super excited; it’s such a good opportunity for me. I’ve never done anything like this before and have always wanted to, it’s one of those things where I’m constantly learning which has just been just great. I know the skills I’m learning in addition to the things I already feel I have strength in together are preparing me for not only this role but my future career, it’s brilliant.

Opening Night: Are you looking forward to performing in Blackpool?

Holly: I’m so excited to get on stage and perform, being back up North feels really special for me too. I’m so excited for the audiences to see this show, my family are all coming along as well and they can’t wait, it’ll be really nice to share this with them.

Company of The Wizard of Oz

Opening Night: What is it about The Wizard of Oz that makes it so appealing?

Holly: It’s such an iconic show, a total classic that everybody knows and loves. There’s something very comforting about The Wizard of Oz and the familiarity and affection we all have for it. It’s such an engaging piece of theatre too, great for kids, just a really good feel-good show and the perfect Christmas musical for all the family.

Opening Night: How are you finding working in a cast as opposed to as a soloist on X Factor and how does the performance vary?

Holly: It’s so much fun. We all get on so well, everyone’s been so great, we’ve really clicked. There’s so much talent in this show, every cast member from the ensemble to the leads, I couldn’t be happier really with how everything’s going.

X Factor was a great was to build my confidence but this is very different. Pop elements don’t really fit with musical theatre so I’ve been really disciplined in adapting my style and the way I work for this show. I’m enjoying the challenge so much, I’ll always be grateful for my X Factor experience; it’s given me a platform to build on and led to this great opportunity.

Holly Tandy as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Opening Night: What’s are the challenges working on the show?

I was feeling a little nervous about working with Toto at first before we started rehearsals but we’ve got such a great team that I know it will be great. They’re so well trained. Also the amount of lines at first was something I didn’t quite anticipate, I knew there were lots but didn’t realise quite how many, but that’s come on great and you soon pick things up, the show is looking and sounding really good.

Opening Night: Are you feeling any nerves ahead of officially opening?

A little, but I think that’s healthy. It’s a nervousness of wanting to do well, wanting to do the role justice etc. it’s not the kind of nerves that are eating me up. I’m really enjoying it and I think a little bit of nerves shows just how much you care and I do really care about getting this role right and doing a good job.

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Opening Night: Selladoor are known for being inventive and dynamic how are you finding working with them?

Holly: It’s been amazing, they are just so good at what they do and such a great bunch of people, all so good at their jobs, they are all so talented, from the director, to the choreographer to the musical director each and every person I’m working with is just so brilliant and so good at getting each cast member to be the best they can be. It’s been an absolute pleasure so far and no doubt will continue to be.

The Wizard of Oz opens on Friday 7th December at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and runs until Sunday 30th tickets available here.

SIX the Musical

Six 1

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It was just a month ago that the Spice Girls announced a series of comeback gigs that seemingly sent the music world into a feverish frenzy: Girl Power was back and back with vengeance. However way, way, way before Girl Power was a thing, we had Queen Power in the form of six strong, powerful, inspirational ladies who just so happened to be married to the same man, Henry something or other.

With the exam aiding rhyme of: Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived coursing through your brain from the outset Six bursts into life with the vibrant, ballsy opener Ex-Wives where we are introduced to our six monarchs: Aragon, (Jarneia Richard –Noel) Boleyn, (Millie O’Connell) Seymour, (Natalie Paris) Cleves, (Alexia McIntosh) Howard (Aimie Atkinson) and Parr (Maiya Quansah-Breed. This certainly sets the tone for the evening, there are big tunes, ostentatious costumes, and some seriously sublime and sassy performances.

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The premise for the show is a simple one, the women want to step out from the shadow of their husband, Henry VIII, with each of them convinced that their story is more interesting than their counterparts. The only way to find out who the ‘Queen Bee’ is, is for each one to tell their story and let the audience decide.

Writers Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss have created a modern masterpiece. Songs weave historical facts with smart, cutting and cheeky lyrics. The show is a hybrid between a traditional musical and what could easily be a huge stadium concert marrying the two together whilst at the same time sending them up in the process. The pair poke fun at the X Factor whilst in addition making some serious points about the media trying to divide strong females instead of encouraging unity and sisterhood.

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The all-female cast are on fabulous form with each of them getting their moment in the spotlight. All the ladies demonstrate their huge talent by singing various styles: drawing inspiration from artists such as Beyoncé, Lily Allen, Adele, Britney Spears and Alicia Keys to name but a few. They are supported by a great backing band who perform a wide range of musical genres, from hip-hop, to German techno, with some unique interpretations of Greensleeves thrown in for good measure.

Stand out songs (and believe me it’s difficult to pick as they are all exceptional) are the brilliant and bizarre German electro pop ditty, Haus of Holbein, and the catchy Anna of Cleves solo, Get Down. It’s not all fun and frolics as the Katherine Howard led, All You Wanna Do takes the show into a momentary but necessary dark place, as we vividly realise the abusive treatment she endured, so relevant today with the #meto movement, brilliantly and cleverly performed by Atkinson.

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This is a fun and enormously entertaining show filled with glitz, glamour, plenty of attitude and more than a razors edge to it, it’s addictive and then some. Whilst sisters may be doing it for themselves isn’t it better when they work to unite, in this case six heads are better than one, even if two of them have been chopped off!

Six is at the Lowry Quays Theatre until 16th December. Tickets available https://thelowry.com/whats-on/six/

Preview | What’s Love Got To Do With It

Tina Turner the Musical might currently be wowing West End audiences, but north west fans of the iconic soul singer can look forward to a chance to see a stage celebration of her greatest hits a little closer to home in early 2019.

What’s Love Got To Do With It is a new tribute show embarking on a massive UK tour next year – featuring all the hits fans of Tina Turner would expect.

Audiences can look forward to hearing stunning musical arrangements of Tina Turner’s most-loved classic hits including Private Dancer, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Proud Mary, River Deep, Nutbush City Limits, Simply The Best and many more.

Bringing to the stage Tina Turner’s famous high energy performances and incredible vocals will be Elesha Paul Moses (Whitney – Queen Of The Night, The Voice, X Factor) supported by a full 10-piece live band.

Speaking about playing Tina Turner, Elesha said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be touring the UK with What’s Love Got To Do With It? This is going to be a magnificent show and one that truly celebrates the incredible music and career of Tina Turner.

“Tina is a great persona to emulate on stage. I have performed as her many times over the years so to now be the lead in a show that will travel all over the UK and celebrate everything about her is an amazing opportunity and one I’m really looking forward to.”

The show comes to the Liverpool Empire on Tuesday 19th February, at the start of a massive 50 date tour.

Other north west dates in the tour include Blackpool Opera House on Saturday 20th July, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Friday 20th September and Warrington’s Parr Hall on Friday 13th March.

What’s Love Got To Do With It is presented by leading live entertainment promoters Cuffe & Taylor, and Paul Roberts Productions.

For more information visit www.cuffeandtaylor.com.

First look Doctor Dolittle

Have you booked your tickets yet?

Be quick as you’ve never seen anything like it!

We are absolutely loving these production shots from Doctor Dolittle which opens at The Lowry next week.

The magical musical which promises festive fun for all the family will run from Tuesday 11th December until Saturday 6th January.

Starring Harry Potter star Mark Williams at the Doctor, Corrie favourites Brian Capron as both Albert Blossom and the mighty Straight Arrow, Vicky Entwistle as trusty side-kick Polynesia while Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aïda) will be playing Lady Bellowes and Poison Arrow.

The spectacular stage show follows Doctor Dolittle on his magical adventure in pursuit of the Giant Pink Sea Snail which holds the secret of life and making the world a happier place. We’ll meet marvellous humans as well as some mighty impressive animals along the way including the Pushmi-Pullyu and the Doctor’s trusty sidekick Polynesia the Parrot. The show promises to be a thrilling Christmas treat for young and old.

Tickets are available now and can be found here.

Stick Man Live

Stick Man 1

Reviewed by Matt Forrest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer Julia Donaldson has created a firm family favourite in Stickman: the book has brought happiness and joy to families all over the world. So with Scamp Theatre bringing a live stage show to the Lowry this Christmas this will undoubtedly be one of the must see events of the festive season.

Stickman is a simple, but captivating story: Stickman leaves his Stick Lady Love and their three stick children at home whilst he goes for a morning stroll.  Unfortunately, on his jog he encounters a rather boisterous dog who takes a shine to our little wooden friend. Poor Stickman is thrust into an unwanted adventure involving adults, children and animals: whilst also taking him to the beach, the bottom of the sea and for an unforgettable sleigh ride with St Nicholas! Will Stickman make it back to his beloved family and their family tree?

Stick Man

This production is fantastic: a great blend of storytelling, catchy songs, puppetry and humour. The music by Benji Bower and musical direction from Alex Higgins is unique and ‘off the wall’, perfect for the show. The three actors work their socks off throughout playing all the various characters and different musical instruments. They are brilliant and certainly know how to get the best out the audience. All three have a tremendous gift for physical comedy.

The other star of this show is the audience, there is plenty of audience participation involved in this performance and children and adults alike firmly got into the swing of things.

Stick Man 3

The show is completed by a magical set design by Katie Sykes, which brings to life Stickman’s world: we are transported from a winter wonderland to under the sea, from the beach to Santa’s sleigh.

This is the perfect Christmas show, fun, engaging, full of energy and dollops of Christmas spirit. It is a treat for the whole family.

Stickman is at the Lowry until 6th January, tickets available here.

Wizard of Oz Interviews | Part 1 | Kelvin Fletcher

Kelvin Fletcher

Following on from the huge success of Peter Pan last year Selladoor Productions return to Blackpool with an iconic musical adventure as we see Dorothy click her heels together and arrive at the legendary Opera House.

This highly acclaimed adaptation from The Royal Shakespeare Company promises to be a magical treat for all the family featuring timeless classics: We’re Off To See The Wizard, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!, The Merry Old Land Of Oz and Over The Rainbow, add to this lavish sets and spectacular costumes and you really do have the prefect festive treat.

We were lucky enough to catch up with cast members Kelvin Fletcher (Tin Man), Holly Tandy (Dorothy), Scott Gallagher (Cowardly Lion) and Kate Milner-Evans(The Wizard) ahead of opening night on 7th December to hear a little more about what audiences can expect from this theatrical adventure.

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Opening Night: How are rehearsals going?

Kelvin: Absolutely brilliant, it’s been such a whirlwind. We’re doing full run-throughs now and tech rehearsals are getting closer, the whole process has been amazing for me, a lot of new firsts, coming into musical theatre, I’ve never done this sort of thing before, anything I have been a little bit anxious about the team who have been great have reassured me and offered some brilliant advice. I feel like I’m really growing in confidence every day, we’re all really looking forward to getting to Blackpool now and performing in front of an audience.

ON: We all know you so well from Emmerdale, how is acting on stage different to TV acting?

Kelvin: Day to day it’s very different, yes I’m used to acting but acting on stage is so much more expressive, especially in musical theatre with such larger than life characters. It’s been wonderful really to get a chance to do things I know are in my repertoire but that I’ve never had chance to express before. I’m also really excited for people to see this different side of me, a very different side to what they’re used to seeing; it will be a lot of fun for everyone including me.

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ON: As the Tin Man you have one of the most restrictive costumes in the show, how are you finding that?

Kelvin: First couple of dances I thought it would be best to try and be quid rigid with my movement but then I was struggling a little to get the fluidity of the dance so I decided to do it the opposite way and master the dance first then add the rigidity of the Tin Man. This is the great benefit of rehearsals it allows us to try different ideas and see what works best. Then of course there’s the silver makeup which looks amazing but I’ll definitely need help with that, I managed to leave some on the other day and caught myself in the mirror still wearing a bit of guy liner!

ON: Will your family be making the trip to Blackpool?

Kelvin: Yes, they are so excited, when I first started acting it was on the stage, that’s where my love for acting blossomed so it will be nice for us all really to get back to where it all started and it couldn’t be a better show, a big flamboyant musical like this is just so exciting for us all.

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ON: How does it feel knowing you’ll be performing at the Winter Gardens?

Kelvin: I’d never actually been despite knowing how iconic it is, it’s got such a great reputation, so to be performing there is going to be unbelievable. It’s such a great space, it’s huge, we can’t replicate the size of the set in the rehearsal space because it’s so huge which gives a sense of the sheer scale and spectacle of this production.

ON: We know you’re used to working with animals from your Emmerdale days but how about on stage?

Kelvin: I keep thinking to myself “If the dog doesn’t run at that particular point what will we do?” ha ha but I don’t have a lot of interaction with the dog to be honest it’s more Holly, as if playing Dorothy isn’t tough enough! The dogs are so well trained thought that no doubt they’ll be as good as gold and more than likely steal the show!

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ON: How are you finding the singing?

Kelvin: Our Musical Director has been amazing, I’ve never had any singing training before so I’ve just been like a sponge really taking on any piece of advice. We’ve all got numbers throughout and mine’s a lovely little number which starts off with some dialogue then breaks out into a song, I really can’t wait. Then of course there are lots of great songs throughout, choreographed dances, there’s so much going on it really will be spectacular.

The Wizard of Oz opens at Blackpool’s Opera House on Friday 7th December until Sunday 30th December tickets available here.