Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

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Heading into the Opera House on a cold Monday night surrounded by burly boys in stockings and suspenders and gorgeous girls in teeny tiny French maid’s outfits can only mean one thing; the fabulous Rocky Horror Show is back in town!

An unbelievable 43 years old now, Rocky Horror shows no signs of ageing as this bright, bold and brilliant production burst into life. There is a buzz in the air from the many audience members dressed up for the occasion and the cheers and whoops begin as soon as the curtain rises. If you don’t know the story…(Really?! Where have you been!) then here’s a brief overview; conservative kid Brad (Richard Meek) and his straight-laced fiancé Janet (Hayley Flaherty) are on their way to visit their old science teacher Dr Scott (Paul Cattermole). Their car breaks down on a dark windy road in the middle of nowhere; the only thing in sight is a creepy looking castle, of course they decide to knock on the door and ask for help, and so the fun begins as we meet Frank-N-Furter and his debauched gaggle of a gang.

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Taking on the part of Narrator is Charlie Condou, well known for his recent role in Corrie, Charlie makes for a witty and cheeky narrator, he gives as good as he gets with the notoriously quick audience heckling and is immediately likeable with his relaxed and fun approach to telling the tale. Before you know it you’re up on your feet doing the Time Warp much to the delight of the audience and screaming with pleasure as Frank-N-Furter (Liam Tamne) makes his entrance. Tamne makes for a delicious Frank, sassy, strutting and completely debauched, exactly as he should be!

Director Christopher Luscombe has done a fine job of making this production an absolute must-see, the whole cast are exceptional. Both Hayley Flaherty (Janet) and Richard Meek (Brad) are superb, their transformation from prim and proper to debauched and dirty is fabulous. Paul Cattermole takes on two roles Eddie and Dr Scott and does a fine job with each. Special mention also must go to Kristian Lavercombe Riff Raff, Kay Murphy Magenta and the brilliant Sophi Linder-Lee Columbia flirty and frivolous, complementing our leads perfectly.

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Added to the superb cast, the creative team have delivered a visually stunning show, costumer designer Sue Blame has kept things traditional which is exactly what the audience want to see, whilst set designer Hugh Durrant wraps the stage in a giant celluloid movie reel perfectly lit by Nick Richings tremendous lightening design.

The show is sharp and without doubt the most fun you can have on a Monday night in Manchester, fun, filthy and totally fabulous! On at the Opera House until Monday, tickets available here!

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-rocky-horror-show-2/opera-house-manchester/

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/

 

 

 

Keep Dancing

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With this year’s Strictly now in full swing, dance fever has struck once again! If the week long wait for the celebrities and professionals to hit the dancefloor is just too much then shimmy down to the Palace theatre for dance extravaganza, Keep Dancing!

Starring ex-Strictly pro’s Robin Windsor and Anya Garnis with guest celebrity and 2012 winner, Louis Smith (who gets a huge cheer from the audience); Keep Dancing is an explosion of sequins, salsa and some seriously impressive hip swivelling! Showcasing everyone’s favourite dances from the Tango to the Charleston and everything in between, Keep Dancing is a delightfully entertaining production which will thrill all the diehard dance fans amongst us.

The stars of the show are undoubtedly Robin and Anya, performing both pieces with the ensemble dancers as well as some exquisite solo pieces; they truly give a masterclass in dance with each discipline just as impressive as the last. The speed and agility in which they move is incredible, they are true professionals and utterly mesmerising, if I even attempted some of the intricate routines they glide through I’d end up in A&E with at the very least a dislocated hip and several broken bones.

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Interspersed between the dance numbers are beautiful musical and vocal pieces, singers Adam Warmington, Harriette Virginia Mullen and the superb Lisa-Marie Holmes were excellent, delivering gorgeously reworked versions of well-known classics which offered the dancers the perfect soundtrack to showcase their skills. The set design is simple and effective with staircases on both sides leading to an upper deck for the singers/musicians, teamed with dramatic and atmosphere lighting the scene is perfectly set.

The choreography team of which Robin and Anya are a part of have done an incredible job in delivering a tight and engaging show, jam-packed with top class routines, a particular highlight for me was the all-male paso, totally stunning and as dramatic as any good paso should be, add to that the bare chest of Robin Windsor and the swooning soon began!

If you’re looking for a fun night out, teaming with sensational routines and stunning choreography then Keep Dancing more than hits the mark, fun, flirty and totally FAB-U-LOUS!  

Palace Theatre, Manchester – Tues 4th-Sat 8th

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/keep-dancing/palace-theatre-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/

 

 

English National Ballet – Giselle

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Choreographed and Directed by Akram Khan, with co-production from Manchester International Festival and Sadlers Wells, Giselle is quite simply magnificent. Having seen the classical ballet only once before being asked to choreograph this new interpretation, Akram Khan has created something so special and unique I would have happily stayed in my seat and waited the 24 hours until the next performance just for the chance to see this magical piece again.

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Powerful, emotive and hauntingly beautiful. Khan has taken Giselle, originally choreographed in 1842 by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli and brought it bang up to date, expanding it’s themes of love, betrayal, reality, the afterlife, money, power and the injustice that comes with not having either, so apt for the times we live in. Khan’s Outcasts are a community of peasant migrant workers disposed of by their employers and banished behind a thick and impenetrable wall, their only use now seemingly is to entertain the factory Landlords ,should their elitist former employers so desire.

Despite this dark and desolate life refugee Giselle (Alina Cojocaru) still finds hope and a love to cling to in the form of Albrecht (Issac Hernandez), a wealthy suitor who has crossed the line after becoming transfixed by Giselle’s beauty. Their love affair sadly has not gone unnoticed by Hilarion (Cesar Corrales) a peasant ‘fixer’ who shifts his allegiance from his community to the wealthy Landlords for his own gain, Hilarion will set about to ensure that Giselle and Albrecht do not get their happy ending.

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Vincenzo Lamagna’s reworking of Adolphe Adam’s score injects drama and grit with its powerful industrial presence, paired beautifully with Mark Henderson’s dynamic lighting design and Academy Award winning Tim Yip’s epic visual design and incredible costumes this production is destined to become a modern classic, a piece you would happily return to time and time again and discover something new on each visit. It is quite simply breath-taking; the skill on show left me speechless.

In Act II we see Giselle arrive in the afterlife, a ghost-factory inhabited by the Wills, (haunted spirits of the ill-treated factory girls) their en pointe work is dazzling, they appear to hover ghost like en masse, powerful and dark they are completely hypnotic with their tumbling unkempt waist length hair and tattered, rag-like dresses. Khan isn’t afraid to use long dramatic silences where you find yourself holding your breath afraid to break the silence yet desperate for the next mesmerising move from the stunning Company.

Bold and inspiring, Giselle more than deserved the standing ovation it received. Special mention must go to Principles, Alina Cojocaru, Issac Hernandez, Cesar Corrales and Begona Cao, all gave exquisite and unforgettable performances. My advice would be to beg, steal or borrow to get a ticket to this truly ground-breaking and achingly brilliant production.

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Giselle, The Palace Theatre, 27th Sept-1st October 2017

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/giselle/palace-theatre-manchester/

Aladdin Press Launch

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First Family Entertainment and The Opera House, Manchester have announced their star-studded line up for this year’s fabulous family panto and boy are we in for a treat! Oh no we’re not……OH YES WE ARE!!!!

There will be superb sets, sparkling costumes and of course side splitting comedy all headed up by a spectacular cast! Rumour has it there may even be a flying carpet and don’t get me started on what that magical lamp might do!

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First up is much loved Manchester actor John Thomson, currently riding high in the TV ratings with the return of the brilliant Cold Feet, John takes on the role of the evil Abanazer. After playing Captain Hook back in 2007 John is thrilled to take on another notorious baddie and is looking forward to the challenge of getting the fine balance right between the comedy of the role and also the mischief and villainy.

“Playing a baddie is all about getting the balance right…one foot in the booooooo’s and one foot in the ha ha ha’s, to the kids watching it means everything, it’s so real to them, they get so involved and everything that happens on stage is so important”.

John spoke about his admiration for Panto greats who have paved the way for our current stars, Cannon and Ball, Norman Wisdom, Russ Abbot, Cilla Black..and more recently Joe Pasquale, Bradley Walsh, Bobby Davro and Brian Conley;

“..they delivered performances I not only admire but also aspire to, for me it means I want to get this right”.

John loves the unique charm and the Britishness of Panto, noting that the top three trending items on Twitter over the weekend were “The Archers, Country File and Antiques Roadshow” John thinks it’s clear what the British public want, good ,well made, wholesome entertainment, with hopefully the successful return of Cold Feet shaking things up a bit and paving the way for a return of more quality drama and entertainment and what better place to start than with the much loved tradition of Panto!

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Joining John for the festive season as the Genie of the Ring is the legendary Sherrie Hewson. Sherrie is hugely excited to return to Manchester, where she had an enormously successful five years on the cobbles at Coronation St. Aladdin is one of her absolute favourite Panto’s so she’s thrilled that her Grandchildren will get to see her in such a magical production.

A veteran of Panto with many tales to tell Sherrie will make for an exceptional Genie, dramatic, flamboyant, not to mention totally and utterly fabulous!

Sherrie hugely values the importance of Panto and loves how it gives so many children their first opportunity of live theatre. Sherrie described how Panto has given her own Grandchildren a taste for the theatre, something they now all enjoy as a family with regular trips to London.  Sherrie takes great pride in knowing her part in this year’s Panto will create magical memories for many more children and families new to the world of theatre. With great experience comes great knowledge and after working on so many panto’s in the past Sherrie certainly knows a great cast when she sees one;

I’m so looking forward to working with my fellow cast members, this cast feels really good, everything fits and feels just right.

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No Panto is complete without a dashing Prince and there’s no exception here, taking on the role of Aladdin is they very lovely Ben Adams known to many as the lead singer of popular 90’s boyband ‘A1’. Ben is now a hugely successful songwriter having recently enjoyed a spell at No 1 with the track ‘Guilty Flowers’ which he co-wrote with Ward Thomas and Shelly Poole. Add to this the fact Ben still tours with A1 and has recently reached No.1 with his own Classical Ep ‘One Beautiful Mourning’ as well as creating a new musical Eugenius! Phew!

Ben is really excited to be in Manchester, this is actually his third Christmas playing Aladdin after previously playing the role in Woking and Milton Keynes so when given the chance again he was keen to perform somewhere new, Ben reflects on his touring years with A1 and described past Manchester audiences as ..”Brilliant, always great fun” but due to being on the road he’d only ever get to stay for one night before heading off to the next gig so Ben’s taking this time as a great opportunity to explore Manchester and get to know this fabulous city.

While Ben is excited to take on the role again he’d love in future to tackle the challenge of playing a dame, having lots of fun with the role and of course enjoying the great interaction with the audience.

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Completing the start-studded line up and appearing as the long-suffering Widow Twankey will be Eric Potts, one of Britain’s best loved panto dames. Eric has previously won critical acclaim for his panto roles at the Opera House playing Widow Twankey in Aladdin in 2009 and Sarah the Cook in Dick Whittington in 2013 and is a huge crowd pleaser. As well as appearing in and writing the script, Eric will also be directing this year’s show!

With laughs a plenty, chart-topping songs, tonnes of unforgettable Panto puns, lamp loads of wishes AND a real flying carpet, Aladdin is set to be the most magical show of the season. Once you rub the magic lamp this fine cast will transport you into a magical world of boo-able baddies and hunky heros with more than a few tricks and treats along the way!

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Opera House, Friday 9th December – Sunday 8th January

Tickets available now from  http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/opera-house-manchester/

ACCESS PERFORMANCES FOR ALADDIN
There are two BSL Interpreted Performance scheduled for Thu 15 & Fri 16 Dec 2016, 7pm, and on Fri 30 Dec 2016 at 1pm a Relaxed Performance. For more information on access performances call the access team on 0161 245 6605.

Sunny Afternoon, Opera House, Manchester

The Sixties weren’t the era dubbed ‘swinging’ for nothing. It was the time of great music being born and bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were holding court to the screaming masses. There was another band on the block though shaping the sound of the Sixties, made in Muswell Hill, London and going by the name of The Kinks.

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Sunny Afternoon pays homage to the four young cockney lads who made up that band famous for singing simple songs about life in London and what a wonderful time it was. The musical, penned by original band member Ray Davies, first took to the stage in 2014 and since then has enjoyed a successful run in the West End bagging itself four Oliviers on the way, including Best New Musical. Manchester now gets the chance to cast its eye on the show becoming the first stop on its premiere UK Tour, with a week long run at the Opera House.

Unlike other musicals that feature the back catalogues of songs from famous bands (We Will Rock You-Queen, Mama Mia-ABBA) Sunny Afternoon uses all the well-known hits in a biographical way charting the creation of The Kinks and the ups and downs they encounter as they embark on stardom.

Ryan O’Donnell puts in a captivating performance in the lead role of Ray Davies, the reluctant pop star more at home composing songs than on tour singing them. His vocals are pitch perfect and executed with such raw emotion you really feel he means every word.

O’Donnell previously performed as the alternate Ray during Sunny Afternoon’s West End run and it’s great to see him bag the role for good as part of the UK tour. His co-stars are equally as talented, Mark Newham putting every ounce of energy he has into playing Ray’s younger brother Dave, as he manically strums the bass guitar and behaves like a childish rock star vying to be centre of attention with his frenzied antics.

Garmon Rhys is believable as shy bassist Peter Quaife but it’s Andrew Gallo who almost steals the show as the bands percussionist Mickey Avery, performing an impressive drum solo that seems to go on forever, to the delight of the audience.

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One of the refreshing things about Sunny Afternoon is that it isn’t a musical full of bubble gum sweetness and karaoke classics. At times it’s gritty, the music is raw, and there’s more than a sprinkling of expletives in the script.

There’s some wonderful moments to watch out for, from the goosebump inducing guitar strumming of You Really Got Me to the poignant a cappella version of another of The Kinks greatest hits, Days.

If you weren’t a fan of The Kinks before, you will leave the theatre wanting to hear more of their music but not before jumping to your feet to dance along to their toe tapping tracks in the show’s rousing encore. A standing ovation well deserved, congratulations Ray Davies, you really got me!

Sunny Afternoon – Opera House, Manchester
Friday 19 to Saturday 27 August
For more tour information www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com

Sister Act, The Palace Theatre, Manchester

Returning to Manchester after her triumphant spell in the Bodyguard, Alexandra Burke proves this diva is here to stay as she delivers all the sass and attitude that makes Deloris Van Cartier such a loveable and unforgettable character.

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Directed and Choreographed by Strictly legend Craig Revel Horwood, Sister Act tells the story of wannabee singer Deloris who sees a little too much during a late night discussion between her married boyfriend Curtis (Aaron Lee Lambert) and his no good cronies, one of which he believes has ratted him to the cops. Deloris flees for her own safety and finds sanctuary in the local Convent under the instruction of local cop and former school friend Eddie (Jon Robyns). Life as a Nun is a million miles from her usual liquor swilling, cigarette smoking, good time gal days but that irrepressible Deloris spirit soon has chance to shine when she’s given the opportunity to work with the choir of Nuns who currently sound like a cat’s chorus.

Burke is perfect in the role of Van Cartier, with just the right amount of sass and diva attitude she also has a lot of fun with this role and her comedic side is given the opportunity to shine, add to it that voice and wow, we have our star!

Burke is complemented by a strong cast; the Nuns really do take this production to the next level, each of their scenes is full of joy and every actress gives their absolute all. Notable performances come from Karen Mann as Mother Superior whose stern guidance despite frustration after frustration eventually develops into a solid bond, and the fabulous Sarah Goggin whose is a joy to watch as Sister Mary Robert, gaining in confidence with more than a little guidance from her new found sister. Jon Robyns makes for a great Eddie and you’re desperately willing him and Deloris to get together pretty much from the start of the show.

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The choreography is fun and flirty and further adds to the laughs this production provides, Matthew Wrights set and costume design works well transporting us from 1970’s nightclub to quiet Convent with ease. The one thing that distracted me a little during this production was the use of actor-musicians, whilst this works wonderfully for some shows for me I wanted my Nuns giving it their all for the fabulous choreography rather than being distracted from their booty shaking by playing the trumpet, but that comes down to personal taste and that being said everyone on stage absolutely excelled at both.

Sister Act is fun and totally fabulous; Burke’s voice is big, bold and beautiful, a heavenly production with bucket loads of feel good factor!

On at the Palace until Saturday 3rd September

Tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/sister-act/

 

 

King Lear, Opera House, Manchester

An exciting addition to the current offerings celebrating 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare is Director Max Webster’s touring production of King Lear with the mighty Michael Pennington wearing the tragic Kings crown.

Pennington gives an absolute masterclass in classical acting, he is utterly mesmerising, angry and fierce one moment, fragile and vulnerable the next, he draws the audience in and you quickly forget there are a few hundred other theatre goers around you.

The transition from powerful tyrant at the start of the play where Lear wrongly disowns adoring daughter Cordelia (Beth Cooke) to the final scenes where we see him broken and maddened by sorrow is enormous, captivating and totally heart-breaking. Misjudging his two eldest daughters loyalty, Lear finds himself increasingly desperate, stripped of his wealth and majesty, the respect he was once shown is now forgotten and he is left to live with the past mistakes he has made.

In addition to Pennington’s fine performance is a very strong cast who each in turn deliver fantastic performances. Lear’s two eldest daughters, Goneril and Regan are played expertly by Catherine Bailey and Sally Scott, an evil duo who grow increasingly twisted with the power bestowed upon them. Similarly the warped relationship between brothers Edgar (Gavin Fowler) and Edmund (Scott Karim) is played out perfectly, the villainy of Edmund leading to the brutal demise of his own father Gloucester (Pip Donaghy) offers Edgar the opportunity to secretly nurse and care for the Father he was forced through the evils of his brother to flee.

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Adrian Linford’s set is sparse but effective, allowing the actors to be the firm focus of this production. At just under three hours including an interval it is not a short production by any means but Director Max Webster maintains a great pace and flow which combined with the fine performances on stage keep you totally engaged.

Although one of Shakespeare’s most bloodthirsty tragedies, this excellent production offers wit, humour and many moving moments, it is beautifully accessible Shakespeare, unpretentious, poignant and totally gripping.

On at the Opera House until Saturday 4th June, tickets available here; http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/king-lear-2016/opera-house-manchester/