Little Women

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Louisa May Alcott’s much loved classic about the four March sisters growing up in Civil War-era New England has been a literary favourite for almost 150 years now. Seen previously on the big screen, radio plays, TV series and straight theatre plays the March sisters undoubtedly have a place in the hearts of many, this is the first time however the Broadway musical has made its way to European shores as the incredibly successful pairing of Hope Mill Theatreand Aria Entertainment continue their vision to deliver accessible musical theatre in Manchester.

The production offers a condensed take on the heart-warming story of trailblazer Jo and her three sisters, Meg, Beth and Amy March, with Jo at the spirited centre of the piece. With their father off at war and their mothers encouragement to be the best versions of themselves they can be, the sisters set out on their path to becoming ‘little women’.

Amie Giselle-Ward is outstanding as Jo, passionate, strong and always true to herself, Giselle-Ward embodies perfectly the brash and bold Jo Marsh with a raw energy that utterly captivates, fiercely loyal and defiantly proud her characterisation is honest and raw as she delivers an incredibly moving and deeply emotional performance. She fizzes and boils over with a determination to live the life she chooses not one society choses for her, a woman seemingly ahead of her time when the book was first published in 1868 and an absolute heroine to women today.

The ten strong cast are incredibly hard working and beautifully demonstrate the importance and strength of family, love and hope regardless of the situation or difficulties they face. Each of the sisters are perfectly cast, Jemima Watling is superb as Meg, sweet and sensible, with a heart full of love. Katie Marie-Carter makes for a fabulous Amy, spoiled and selfish she is wonderfully dramatic. Cathy Read plays Beth with sweet affection, gentle and kind with a real sincerity she is the calm to Jo’s perfect storm.

Bronagh Lagan’s direction ensures the production remains entirely committed to delivering Louisa May Alcott’s message of love, family and female empowerment with wonderful storytelling throughout.

Ben M Rogers light design gently warms the production, allowing Nik Corrall’s simplistic yet effective set to shine. The intimate setting of Hope Mill Theatre is perfect for this engaging production, giving audiences the most wonderful connection with the characters as Jason Howard’s music and Mindi Dickstein’s lyrics are brought to life by Rickey Long’s superb musical direction.

Little Women is a celebration, joyful, spirited and full of heart. The perfect festive treat for all ages, delivering an important and current message that into each life some rain must fall but never let that diminish the fire within you.

On at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 9th December tickets available here

Hope Mill Theatre announces 2018 season!

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Award-winning Hope Mill Theatre and resident producer Aria Entertainment today announce their much anticipated 2018 season, with three bold, exciting and ambitious in-house productions.

The converted mill in Ancoats currently hosting the European premiere of Little Women enjoyed a landmark 2017 season which saw 5* critically acclaimed productions and London transfers for Yank! and Hair with Pippin following in early 2018 will begin the season with the world premiere of new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries (on sale today).

This new musical comedy which runs from 18 January to 10 February 2018 charts the hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking sagas of mid-life dating. When twice-divorced Lily inadvertently finds herself under a much younger man, it opens the door to a wild new world of inappropriate relationships. From Tom the Tender to Sam the Submissive, via Paul the Policeman, Hat Trick Patrick and Matt the Monstrous (with Old Willy and Philandering Phil mixed in along the way) Lily finally finds Ben the Bountiful.

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Spring Awakening will run from 19 March to 3 May 2018. A production hailed as “one of the great musicals of the last decade” (New York Times) and the winner of eight Tony and four Olivier Awards, Spring Awakening follows a group of teenagers in late-19th-century Germany navigating the struggles and virtues of blossoming youth, with an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and a Grammy award-winning rock score. This landmark musical will be presented in an intimate and bold new production helmed by director Luke Sheppard (In The Heights, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole).

Third show to be announced is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic classic Aspects of Love which will run from 5 July to 4 August 2018. Featuring the iconic “Love Changes Everything” Aspects of Love tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their artistic companions, against a background of 1940’s France and Italy.

The hugely successful partnership between Joseph Houston and William Whelton, the co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre and producer Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment is further testament to their commitment to make Hope Mill Theatre the home of new musicals and revivals in the north and beyond with two more yet-to-be announced productions in Autumn/Winter.

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William Whelton and Joseph Houston, co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre said: “We wanted to make sure our third season was even more ambitious and we feel we have managed to achieve that with the world premiere of the new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries, an exciting revival of Spring Awakening with an Olivier Award-winning creative team and our first staging of an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic – Aspects of love. Once again we have proved the power of regional theatre and continue to spearhead Hope Mill Theatre as a leading player in new musical staging, musical premieres and exciting revivals.”

Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment, who has just seen her production of The Addams Family transfer to Singapore stated “I have enjoyed working with the theatre on taking our shows to new commercial levels in London and am extremely delighted to announce the first three shows of our 2018 season, it is an honour to share this diverse selection of work with you. We hope to continue to champion the genre and bring in audiences from far and wide.”

Further information can be found here

@Hopemilltheatr1

@ToyBoyDiaries

 

Yank! Preview

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On March 9th award-winning venue Hope Mill Theatre will host the European Premiere of the much anticipated Yank! A moving World War II love story which will examine what it means to be a man, to be in love, and explore the struggles simply being in love can bring.

Based on the 2010 Off-Broadway production written by David Zellnik with a score created by his brother Joseph Zellnik the musical transports us back to the unforgettable sounds of the 1940’s, focussing on the life of Stu (Scott Hunter) who is called up to serve for his country. Stu meets and falls in love with all-American guy Mitch (Barnaby Hughes) and so begins a tougher and more emotional fight than Stu ever expected to be facing.

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Yank! will be the third in-house production delivered by the hugely successful paring of Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment, who brought runaway hit Parade and cult classic Hair to Manchester audiences last year. This pairing is clearly one which understands the importance of getting things absolutely right, they put their heart and soul into delivering emotional, powerful, dynamic and beautiful productions, the prospect of them handling something with issues so current and so important is utterly thrilling. Add to this the fact that James Baker (director of Parade) is at the helm along with the addition of a third co-producer, Ben Millerman from Mr Millerman Presents and you soon realise that this is going to be something very special, without doubt crafted with love.

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We were lucky enough to join the cast for a preview at Hope Mill Theatre and hear from director James Baker who shared just how thrilled he is to be given the opportunity to tell such a beautiful story and really examine what it means to love in a time when division is so rife.

“I read the musical and just absolutley adored it, I think for me it’s important that when I pick up a musical, I absolutely  fundamentally love the story, for me it’s always about the story and Yank! has such a beautiful story. It’s about two people, two men that fall in love in World War II  in America, that alone is an exciting prospect, a gay love story set in World War II, that was enough to hook me in, but then the layers, the questions, the things that it asks, made me think there’s much, much more to this musical”

The cast delivered several of the shows musical numbers including the beautiful Rememb’ring You, My Soldier and Your Squad Is Your Squad each of which were absorbing and really gave a taste for this vibrant and dynamic production. Scott Hunter and Barnaby Hughes’ voices perfectly complimented each other, rich and powerful with an enormous amount of warmth. Sarah Louise Young the only female in the production sounded exquisite as she delivered her piece with real emotion and heart.The 12-strong cast are hugely talented and totally committed to doing justice to this emotive and bold piece of theatre, we fully expect Yank! to follow in the footsteps of Parade and Hair in firmly placing Hope Mill Theatre on the cultural map as a groundbreaking and innovative venue and one of Manchester’s brightest and boldest assets, roll on opening night!

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Yank! will run for four weeks from Thursday 9th March to Saturday 8th April at Hope Mill Theatre. Tickets are available now. Previews £15, all other performances £16-£22

www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk