Rehearsal for Murder

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From the writers of Murder, She Wrote, Richard Levinson and William Link and produced by Bill Kenwright, Rehearsal for Murder arrives at the Opera House for a week long run. With an all-star cast the show is a well-acted and entertaining whodunnit that will have you scratching your head and realising what a dreadful Detective you’d make!

With numerous plot twists and a good dollop of red herrings Rehearsal for Murder creates suspense and intrigue along the way. Alex Ferns most famously known for playing psychotic Trevor in Eastenders plays Alex Dennison, a writer who exactly one year ago on opening night tragically lost his future bride and leading lady of his new play, Monica Wells, Susie Amy. Monica dies in suspicious circumstances after the opening night party following a mysterious phone call. Convinced she was in fact murdered Alex sets the scene to replay events of that night with all who were involved in order to discover what really happened.

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Set inside an empty theatre the play uses a series of flashbacks to retell the story to great effect; the cast give strong performances with Ferns delivering delightfully unhinged grieving fiancé to great effect. Anita Harris makes for a fine theatre producer, in the role of Bella Lamb, dramatic, sassy and fabulous darling! Former Emmerdale favourite Peter Amory gives a great performance as David Mathews, a slightly seedy leading man….or so we are lead to believe. And of course where there is a leading lady there has to be a fame hungry starlet waiting in the wings, Sophie Powels plays Monica’s understudy Karen Daniels, could the opportunity of seeing her name in lights lead her to commit the crime?

Lighting designer Douglas Kuhrt has done a fine job in adding to the mysterious atmosphere and chillingly lights our deceased leading lady as she appears silently on stage reminding us why we’re here. Rehearsal for Murder is a gentle evening of murder mystery and as the suspense intensifies the calibre of the cast can be seen, a very well-acted and enjoyable production. So…..whodunnit? Well you’ll have to go and see it to find out!

Tuesday 11th October-Saturday 15th October, Opera House, Manchester

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rehearsal-for-murder/opera-house-manchester/

 

 

 

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical

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Telling the story of The Small Faces rise to fame from a wannabe rhythm and blues band up until their much documented break-up on stage at Alexandra Palace, All Or Nothing is an engaging and hugely entertaining new musical.

With a book by Carol Harrison and directed by Pat Davey, All Or Nothing delves into the troubled past of a band who started out as fresh faced and full of attitude teenagers who wanted to change the ‘Mersey-beat’ scene and deliver something fresh, raw and exciting. We follow the band as they change from cheeky newcomers into a top sellers racking up iconic hits including Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Sha La La La Lee and of course All Or Nothing until years of constant working, exhausting touring, clashes of ego and general disillusionment with life at the top takes its tragic toll.

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The show is narrated by an older, no longer with us, Steve Marriot (Chris Simmons) looking back at the story of his life while his younger self performs in front of him, his narration is witty, revealing and brings a great pace to the production. Thoughtful and at times nostalgic, Simmons gives an outstanding performance, we see him go from light-hearted, dancing round the stage to crumbling before our eyes as the lifestyle becomes too much for his younger self, the liquor bottle becomes his constant companion as he smokes and drinks himself past the point of no return.

The use of an on-stage narrator works extremely well, Simmons swiftly creates a warm relationship with the audience and gently guides us through his compelling tale.

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The four cast members playing The Small Faces are excellent, Kenney Jones, (Drew-Levi Huntsman) Ian McClagan (Joshua Maddison), Ronnie Lane (Joshua Dowen) and Steve Marriot (Tim Edwards). All four act and play throughout, their musical pieces are tight and their scenes together authentic from bright-eyed wannabee hit makers to worn out and irritated popstars, each cast member gives their absolute all.

Special mention must go to Carol Harrison who as well as writing the book delivers a moving performance as Kay Marriot, mother of Steve. Carol delivers not only comedy and plenty of laugh out loud moments but also emotional and intense moments as she sees the tragedy that is unfolding before her.

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Rebecca Brower’s set is simple and effective, allowing the music and story to take centre stage here. This isn’t a musical with narrative dropped in around it; it’s a well written play which uses the music of its subject to great effect. With authentic 60’s clothing as well as props this is a piece that has been developed with true love and affection. The ensemble are excellent, playing various roles with some great comedic timing. The audience lapped up the witty jokes and cheeky quips and many a sound of recognition was heard as the cast kicked into one of The Small Faces classics. All Or Nothing makes for a fabulous night out, fun, feisty and totally fabulous!

On at Buxton Opera House until Weds 5th Oct

Manchester Opera House 18th Oct – 22nd Oct

http://www.allornothingthemusical.com/tickets.html

 

 

Little Shop of Horrors – Cast Interviews

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Cult classic and audience favourite, Little Shop of Horrors is heading to the Palace Theatre in October as part of a new UK tour. Set in 1950’s New York, well, Skid Row, to be more precise, Little Shop of Horrors is a hilarious tale of, love and laughter, with a little bit of murder, mayhem and of course a mean green mother from outta space thrown in for good measure!

Geeky but loveable Seymour discovers an exotic new plant which soon turns around the fortunes of the failing Mushnik’s Flower Shop where he works as an assistant in downtrodden Skid Row. He christens the plant ‘Audrey II’ in honour of his fellow assistant Audrey whom he is secretly besotted with. Sadly Audrey is stuck in the clutches of the sinister (if not a little bit sexy) Dentist, Orin Scrivello, who has a rather unhealthy passion for pain. Add to this the fact that Audrey II is quickly developing into a demanding, ill-tempered, obscenity loving carnivore that’s attracting more and more attention by the second and you’ve got one hell of an entertaining production.

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We sat down with cast members Rhydian (The Dentist), Sam Lupton (Seymour) and Stephanie Clift (Audrey) to hear what this revamped production has in store for Manchester audiences.

Taking on the devilish role of the Prince of plaque, is X Factor finalist and recording artist Rhydian, who has been a huge fan of the show for many years so jumped at the chance to join the cast. Experienced in musical theatre having appeared in Grease, We Will Rock You, Jesus Christ Superstar and Rocky Horror to name but a few, Rhydian loves the fact he can be completely outrageous on stage and have so much fun with the role.

“With this show you feel every single emotion, you’ll be crying, you’ll be laughing, you’ll be wincing, you’ll become absorbed with the relationships the characters have with each other. The energy is fantastic, we have the best director, lighting designer, choreographer, cast, it’s a winning combination and a great night out”.

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“I do musicals if I really like the show, and I really, really like this show, I love big show stoppers, everyone knows the music from Little Shop even if they don’t at first realise, the audience reactions have been incredible, we’ve even got the rights to perform Mean Green Mother live which we’ve never had before and the audience totally love every single minute of it as do we as a cast performing it”.

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Joining Rhydian as unlucky in love, Seymour is Sam Lupton, a graduate of Manchester School Of Theatre and experienced West End performer who has appeared as Boq in Wicked as well as in the touring production of Avenue Q amongst many other great shows. Having studied in Manchester for three years Sam is really looking forward to returning to the city, Sam loved living in Manchester and misses his time here, he used to frequent the Palace Theatre weekly so his return is made even more special by the fact that this is his dream role in a theatre that he loves.

“I saw an article around April time announcing the tour would be happening and have been a huge fan of the show since I was 6 or 7, I’ve always wanted to play Seymour professionally even more so after appearing in an amateur production when I was 15 where I played the voice of Audrey II, I rang my agent straight away and said ‘That’s mine, I want it’, after four or five rounds of auditions where I auditioned with several different Audrey’s, officially getting the part was fantastic”.

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Stephanie Clift who appeared in Mamma Mia in the West End straight after graduating from Arts Education Schools London in 2013 completes our leading line up and is totally thrilled to have bagged the role of Audrey, finding out about the show in a more unusual way;

“My baby niece is taught dance by the associate musical director Mark’s partner Suzie in Devon when I’m from, I was home one day and went to see my nice at her dance class where I got chatting to Suzie who asked me what my dream role was, I immediately answered Audrey from Little Shop and Suzie told me then that it was due to be going on tour, I knew straight away I had to be in it”.

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Both Sam and Stephanie agree that one of the highlights of the show for both them is when they sing Suddenly Seymour together, they feel the buzz of the audience anticipation of the song followed by their enjoyment once the music begins, for Stephanie it holds some really special nostalgic memories;

For me as a little girl, falling in love with the show, with Audrey and now getting to do that, remembering my reaction as a little girl and now being involved in creating that reaction for our audiences, it really is a dream come true”

Directed by Tara Wilkinson for Sell a Door Theatre Company and Damien Tracey Productions, Little Shop of Horrors is already proving to be an almighty hit, with rave reviews from each stop on the tour so far. With only one week to catch this riotous and hugely entertaining show act fast and book your tickets, with a strong cast, awesome staging, and catchy tunes you’ll be humming for days this really is one not to be missed!

Little Shop Of Horrors – Palace Theatre, Manchester,
Mon 31st Oct-Sat 5th Nov
Perf Times: Mon-Sat eves 7.30pm, Sat mat 2.30pm
0844 871 3019

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/little-shop-of-horrors/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

 

The Community Centre

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Engine House Theatre, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester

Written by Nicola Gardner (who also takes on two roles in this new production) Directed by John Klark and Produced by Darren Adams, The Community Centre gives us a hilarious account of a day in the life of a local Community Centre and all the madness that comes with it. With diverse characters and lots of laugh out loud moments, The Community Centre is a riot of the familiar ridiculousness of day to day life down at the local Community hub.

Receptionist and self-declared Manager Precious played by writer Nicola Gardner, rules the Centre like an old school mistress with threats to bar anyone misbehaving as she ‘Has the power, you know’ I absolutely adored Precious, such a brilliant character and so well acted by Nicola, she perfectly recreated that ‘power gone to their head’ type character we’ve all no doubt come into contact with at some point in our lives, the audience lapped up her ‘service with a (sinister) smile’ such a great character I’d love to see more of.

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The play is performed in the thrust formation, meaning that the audience sit on two opposing sides of the theatre with a runway style stage running through the centre, with action taking place both in the centre and at either end of the ‘runway’. At one end we have Bev and Anisha, played by Lynne Payne and Sayera Haque, employed by the Community Centre to look after the Community Farm animals, both however are much, much better at taking extended tea breaks and having a good old gossip about their love lives than they are at actually doing any work. Their conversations were brilliantly written, many a giggle of recognition rippled through the audience as they reflected on their disastrous love lives from speed dating to borderline stalking of clearly uninterested men who they hilariously assumed were just playing hard to get.

At the other end of the Community Centre we have Sister Johnson (Linda Hargreaves), Sister Richards (Nicola Gardner, Brother Leroy (Tony McPherson) and Brother Myers (Declan Wilson) four friends who while away their days making use of the centres gas and electric whilst sharing a tot of rum and the playful banter only true friends can have. All four actors excelled in their roles, witty, entertaining and totally loveable. Moving between the two groups, broom in hand is hopeless Caretaker Robbie, (Mike Coombes)  white as snow yet desperately trying to convince both himself and those around him that he’s black, frequently asking his spirit guide Bob (Marley) whom he has a shrine to, for guidance and clarity. Despite his ridiculous swagger and Bob Marley hat complete with dreadlocks, you can’t help but love the hapless Robbie and will him to succeed.

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The Community Centre succeeds in demonstrating to us all that despite our differences and quirks we are basically all the same; we are all seeking out comfort and happiness through our meaningful connections with others. A real fun piece of theatre, with many laugh out loud moments, the production will leave you feeling smiley and thoroughly entertained, as the late great Bob Marley would say, ‘Let’s get together and feel alright’

Tickets are £10/£8 for concessions and the show runs until Saturday 24th September.

Schools/BSL Interpreter: Friday 23 September 2016, 14:00

http://www.communitycentre.org.uk/