Lowry Competition!

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We are thrilled to be able to offer our reader the chance to win 2 x tickets to Symphonie Dramatique at the Lowry on Tuesday 23rd May!

Presented by French-Canadian company Cas Public, Symphonie Dramatique offers a darkly humorous look at the mythical couple, Romeo and Juliet combining ballet with elements of hip hop and video projections to tell the story of the two star-crossed lovers by award winning choreographer Hélène Blackburn.

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The performance takes place beneath a huge chandelier of wine glasses, alongside a score from Martin Tétreault that evokes Prokofiev, Tchaïkovski and Gounod. Switching suddenly and seamlessly between moments of wild abandon and abrupt stillness Cas Public’s dancers leave no space to get comfortable as you’re hurled from scene to scene. From sections en pointe to popping and locking you won’t know what to expect next.

Competition winners will receive 2 x tickets to Tuesday 23rd May, 8pm performance at the Lowry. To enter simply RT this post and follow us on twitter or like and share on Facebook! Winners will be announced on Sunday evening, good luck!

La Strada

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Ahead of a London run at The Other Palace this summer La Strada embarks on a small UK tour with the Lowry being one of the lucky theatres to host this magical production.

Based on the 1954 Oscar-winning film by Federico Fellini, La Strada is the story of young Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) who is sold by her struggling mother to travelling strongman Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), she is to be his assistant, a post previously held by her sister Rosa who Zampano mysteriously tells us ‘Didn’t survive the winter’. Naïve Gelsomina is instructed to beat a drum and announce Zampano’s arrival whilst under constant and real the threat of being beaten until she gets it right, out of loyalty to her family and with a mission to understand what really did happen to her older sister Rosa, Gelsomina obeys, follows instruction and accompanies the bullish Zampano on his travels across Italy. Zampano frequently abandons Gelsomina overnight as he enjoys the hospitality of local women and more than a few jugs of wine, he is brutish and cruel yet she remains loyal and strives to please him. Things change when they join a travelling circus and Gelsomina meets Il Matto, The Fool (Bart Soroczynski) who has a long history of pressing Zampano’s buttons and pushing him just that bit too far. The Fool opens Gelsomina’s eyes to the fact that life is for living and that everything living and breathing has a purpose, no matter how insignificant it may seem, through their meeting we see Gelsomina find her inner strength and the courage to take back her life.

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Audrey Brisson is superb as Gelsomina, she perfectly embodies the shy and awkward young girl, she is captivating and engages the audience from her first moments on stage, her whole body is used to create this beautiful and frightened character, you believe her entirely and are desperate for her to succeed and to fly. Her development throughout the piece is a joy to watch, as her confidence grows and she starts to believe she matters and truly has a purpose in life. In contrast Stuart Goodwin’s Zampano is vulgar and unfeeling, he delivers the role of the yobbish strongman so convincingly you find yourself desperate for him to get his comeuppance. Bart Soroczynski is a delight in the role of The Fool, with superb circus skills he is utterly captivating, he is weary of being a clown yet if not a clown what else would he be? He finds humour in the irony of his life and pokes fun at not just himself but all around him, his sees humour where there is none, making you feel that for The Fool life has become a tragic cycle of painting a smile on his face yet insdide his heart aches.

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La Strada was devised by the entire company within the rehearsal rooms, with a guide on where they wanted the story to go, collectively the entire company worked together to decide how this piece got there, creating with it a real unity amongst the company. It is a beautifully dynamic and wholly enchanting piece of theatre, further evidence of just how thrilling and forward-thinking Director Sally Cookson’s work is. The piece is enthralling and utterly captivating, with an ensemble cast who move together so effortlessly it is at times as if they are as one. The talent of the actor-musicians on-stage outstanding. Cookson’s superb direction allows for her cast to really deliver the most perfect of productions. Katie Sykes’ stripped back set allows scenes to flow effortlessly into one another, while the cast use every inch of the stage in this physical and multi-layered production. La Strada is a delight, Cookson’s storytelling so rich that I literally didn’t want this production to end; it is a work of real beauty, full of heart, a true theatre gem.

On at the Lowry until Saturday https://www.thelowry.com/events/la-strada

 

BREAKIN’ CONVENTION ’17 brings its beats to The Lowry

JustDance by Belinda Lawley

Just Dance, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Sadler’s Wells’ critically acclaimed international festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, is back, with performances from UK and international companies and crews.

 

Following the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells over the May bank holiday (Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May), Breakin’ Convention is now touring for a second consecutive year and comes to The Lowry, Salford Quays this weekend Friday 19 & Saturday 20 May.                                              

 

Now in its 14th year, the production is once again hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades.

jonzi D by Belinda Lwley

Jonzi D, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Breakin’ Convention is one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture.

 

The tour line-up includes Soweto Skeleton Movers who mix comedic contortionism with the Pantsula dance style native to the townships of South Africa and perform to Kwaito music, a form of Afro house.

Breakin Convention 30 April 2017 at Sadlers Wells theatre.

Soweto Skeleton Movers, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Joining them is Canadian group Tentacle Tribe, the Montreal-based dance company. Tentacle Tribe creates uncommon dance works with a contemporary twist using conceptual hip hop and influences from all types of earthly creatures.

tentacle_tribe_7 by Paul Hampartsoumian

Tentacle Tribe, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Completing the international line up are Just Dance from South Korea with an updated vision of Korean shamanistic mask performance. Live Korean drumming accompanies a crew of poppers and B-boys, with many with world titles to their name.

 

The UK tour also offers local dance companies the opportunity to perform alongside the International acts. Local crews for The Lowry dates include:

 

Friday 19 May: 01612twelve95, Chad Taylor Dance, Fidget Feet, Shockout Arts

Saturday 20 May: Explosive, Lauren ‘Fidget’ Haywood, LadyBoy, Stage Pro Academy

 

 

Tickets on sale now https://www.thelowry.com/events/breakin-convention

 

The Wedding Singer

Wedding Singer

Based on Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy’s monster hit movie The Wedding Singer arrives at Manchester’s Opera House full of hairspray and highlights for one week only.

Recreating the storyline familiar to film fans where loveable lead singer of wedding band ‘Simply Wed’ Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns) gets jilted at the alter by brutal bride Linda (Hannah Jay-Allan) who decides wedding singing just isn’t cool enough for her rock chick ways. Waitress Julia (Cassie Compton) helps Robbie eventually see past his misery and realise perhaps he hasn’t sung his final wedding song just yet!

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The Wedding Singer bursts into life from the opening, full of high energy dance routines and powerful performances Chad Beguelin’s witty and sharp lyrics are an absolute joy. Chockfull of laugh out loud moments this production is cheeky, charming and full of sass! West End favourite Jon Robyns takes on the role of Robbie Hart and delivers it perfectly, his Somebody Kill Me had the audience howling with laughter, his woeful misery at being dumped reminding us all just how truly ridiculous love can be. His voice is smooth and strong and the chemistry between Robbie and Julia (Cassie Compton) is perfect. Former X Factor contestant Compton is sweet and soulful; her harmonies with Robyns are simply beautiful. The show also hosts another X Factor favourite, 2006 X Factor finalist Ray Quinn who is tremendous in the role of Glen, odious and arrogant Quinn steps into Glen’s 80’s loafers and braces with ease, sharp and snarling, looking like he’s just walked off the set of Wall Street with his slicked back hair and suitcase sized mobile phone.

Special mention must go to Ruth Madoc who plays Rosie, Robbie’s randy rapping Grandmother, Madoc is hilarious and looks like she’s having just as much fun performing as the audience are having watching the show. Her paring with George (Samuel Holmes) for Move That Thang is a scream. Holmes as George delivers witty one lines throughout the production and his specially written song for the Bar Mitzvah just has to be seen!

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Director and choreographer Nick Winston has delivered a real treat of a production, with some stand out scenes that deserve special mention, All About the Green which opens act two packs a punch with some slick choreography and dynamic staging whilst Single in contrast is stripped back and simple but enormously effective, as the males of the cast share their woes whilst gathered behind the bar displaying some clever and entertaining choreography.

The Wedding Singer is a high energy, action packed, feel-good production, with a strong cast and a highly memorable score, it’s an absolute riot of an evening. Grab your hair crimper; slap on your best blue eye shadow and hot foot it down to the Opera House to party like its 1985!

Tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-wedding-singer/opera-house-manchester/

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Sukanya

Sukanya

To say that Sukanya is Ravi Shankar’s only opera, while true, gives a misleading impression of his talent and influence on world music. Knowing he began writing it in the eighth decade of his life tells us more about his enthusiasm for music and his constant desire to find new ways to express this. It was to be his final work, and one can only imagine the weight of that in the hands of David Murphy, who completed the opera alongside Shankar’s daughter, Anoushka. Almost five years after Shankar’s death Murphy conducts the London Philharmonic for the opera’s premiere performances – the second of which is at The Lowry, Salford.

It feels like a true celebration, both of a life and of a true fusion of West and Eastern traditions. It opens with a solo sitar, the instrument for which Shankar was best known. Hearing Parimal Sadaphal play is probably as close as we’ll get to experiencing how Shankar might have interpreted it, given that he was taught by Shankar himself from the age of seven.

Sadaphal sits to one side of the foot of a wide staircase that opens to raised platform. At the other side sits Ashwani Shankar on the shehnai, an Indian instrument, like an oboe. The orchestra is seated on the stage and includes musicians playing the tabla, mridangam and ghatam percussion.

The scene is finally set using projections onto a backcloth, which take us from a night sky to a jungle, a palace and at one point we are in a room with photos of the maestro himself on the wall. Five classical Indian dancers, wearing ghungrus foot bells and five singers tell the story, supported the BBC singers chorus on both sides of the platform.

Visually there is a lot going on. At first it feels like the five singers are having to battle for attention. But, perhaps because in essence it is a simple static scene the atmosphere settles quickly and the overwhelming sense is one of space and rest. There are some wonderfully peaceful moments in the music as well as moments of vibrancy and joy that make you almost want to jump out of your seat and join in.

The story is based on a tale taken from an ancient Sanskrit, Mahābhārata. It tells a young princess, Sukanya whose destiny leads her to marry an old sage, Chyavana she finds in the woods, and her love is such that it restores both his youth and the sight to his bleeding eyes.

Shankar, who was 30 years older than his widow, Sukanya is said to have seen a connection between this ancient myth and his own life. The opera is named after his widow and it is as much a love letter to her as it is to his music.

The story itself is stretched to its limits, and there is one scene where Chyavana (Alok Kumar) sings to Sukanya (Susanna Hurrell) about the differences between Eastern and Western music, where we feel we’re being lectured to rather than entertained.

On the whole, this mythical love story is presented with a lightness of touch. The passion it creates is for the music and Shankar’s legacy is a genuine fusion of Eastern and Western traditions that feels a natural harmony.

Guest reviewer Carmel Thomason

 

 

Dementia Friendly First

The Mikado

 

Ahead of Dementia Awareness Week (14-20 May 2017) The Lowry are delighted to announce that they will be hosting their first ever dementia friendly performance this coming July.

Regan De Wynter Williams Productions will present Sasha Regan’s all-male Gilbert and Sullivan classic, The Mikado on Tue 25th – Sat 29th July, with a specially adapted dementia friendly performance matinee on Wed 26 July, 2pm.

First pioneered by West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Lowry is proud to be the first theatre to offer a dementia friendly performance in the North West. Adaptations to make the production accessible may include changes to the pacing of the story as well as using repetition so audience members can follow the story more easily.

The Lowry itself will be looking at dementia friendly adaptations such as keeping the lights up in the auditorium so that theatregoers are not in complete darkness; having an open door policy so that theatregoers can see all exits and are free to exit and enter when they need to as well as having extra trained staff on hand to help out with individual’s needs. This is a wonderful step by the Lowry and further shows their commitment towards making theatre accessible to all. Further information regards the Lowry’s commitment to accessible theatre can be found here; http://www.thelowry.com/information/access-information

The Mikado

Dates: Tue 25 – Sat 29 July

Times: 7.30pm. Thu & Sat 2pm.

Dementia friendly performance: Wed 26 July, 2pm.

Tickets: £26.50 – £29.50. Conc £2 off.

Tickets available here www.thelowry.com/events/the-mikado2

The Toad Knew

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James Thierrée comes from an impressive artistic dynasty; most famously his grandfather was Charlie Chaplin, whilst great-grandfather was playwright Eugene O’Neill, creativity no doubt flows through his veins.

A child of the circus Thierrée brings his sixth production from his Compagnie du Hanneton The Toad Knew to the Lowry this week for 2 performances only.

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Six kidnapped siblings are trapped in a cobwebbed and dusty space, a skeletal staircase rises from the floor, a long forgotten tap drips somewhere in the distance. A wandering singer roams the stage, powerful and beguiling her vocals are jumbled and bluesy as they accompany the crackling soundtrack.

Thiérrée is the master of this show and acts out some brilliantly comedic sight gags which have the audience roaring with laughter, visually this piece is beautiful. Whilst his fellow performers wriggle and writhe the slapstick moments are those that shine brightest and thrill the audience.

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The full height of the Lowry’s lyric theatre is used to maximum effect as a collection of lights hover above our performers, influencing and affecting their behaviour. One performer weaves through the wires and cables that control the assent and descent of the lights with ease and real beauty, tangled amidst the power of the kaleidoscope.

Whilst the piece is visually beautiful it is at times a little frustrating, occasionally feeling that just as sections are gaining momentum they end rather than reaching their full potential and deliver the wow the audience is waiting for. Whilst a very entertaining piece the lack of punch means the production delivers more of a fizz rather than the bag that the talent on stage are clearly capable of. At 90 minutes straight through this is an interesting and charming piece with some moments of pure genius and impressive physical theatre, with just a few tweaks here and there it could be magnificent.

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On at the Lowry this evening 7.30pm https://www.thelowry.com/events/the-toad-knew