Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes

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Due to popular demand and for the 1st time in New Advenutres history, Matthew Bourne’s Olivier award winning production, The Red Shoes returns to the Lowry next week for the second time during its current season, offering audiences one final chance to catch the visually stunning and technically sublime production which has captivated audiences since its World Premiere at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in November.

Based on the academy award winning film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and of course the much loved Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, The Red Shoes tells the story of “Victoria Page”, the girl who yearns to become the greatest dancer in the world.

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New Adventures favourite, Ashley Shaw, most recently seen across the UK and internationally as “Aurora” in Matthew Bourne’s critically acclaimed Sleeping Beauty, takes on the role of Victoria and has enchanted audiences with her exquisite and breath-taking talent. The Red Shoes is an utterly captivating and timeless piece, a tale of heartbreak, passion and love as Victoria becomes Principal dancer in the new ballet ‘The Red Shoes’ but finds herself torn between two men, resulting in the most beautifully intense and incredibly emotive performances.

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Lifting this already superb production to an even higher level is the stunning new score arranged by New Adventures Associate Artist, Terry Davies using the magnificent music of golden-age Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann. The combination of this exquisite theatrical score and breath-taking performances from the New Adventures Company make this a show not to be missed.

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After it’s sell-out visit to the Lowry last December The Red Shoes returns for one week only from Tuesday 11th until Saturday 15th July tickets available here www.thelowry.com/events/matthew-bournes-production-of-the-red-shoes

 

Fantastic Mr Fox preview

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The brand new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much loved classic Fantastic Mr Fox arrives at the Lowry next week and promises to be a gloriumptious treat for the whole family!

Although Mr Fox is smart, clever and of course completely fantastic, does he underestimate how determined the farmers are to get their revenge? Can he hatch a cunning plan to save his friends and family? And can rabbit keep quiet for long enough not to give the game away? You’ll simply have to watch to find out!

We sat down with composer Arthur Darvill (familiar to many as Rev. Paul Coates in Broadchurch) to hear more about the show and find out what audiences can expect from this dahlicious family theatrical feast!

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Arthur felt it was a real privilege to write music for this new production. “It is a pinch yourself moment. When re reading the book I thought I love this book but I don’t know if I can do this, which I think is a good reaction to have. Throughout the writing process, it has been about honouring what Dahl wrote and making sure the music tells the story in the best way we can tell it.”

A massive Roald Dahl fan, Arthur remembers reading Fantastic Mr Fox in his cabin bed when he was a child growing up back in Birmingham. “I read it in one go, in one night and just absolutely loved it. It had a drastic impact on the way my world was shaped. Dahl made the most disgusting things in life seem like the most joyous. He also had a great sense of justice, which can only be a good thing.”

Arthur expanded on what he wanted to capture about the story and its characters via the music; “There are a definite group of characters in Fantastic Mr Fox; humans and animals. I wanted to give them both a very different sound to start with and as the story develops, these sounds slightly cross over depending on what is happening. The farmers have a dirty earthly English sound and the animals are freer. Mr Fox is arrogant at times and Mouse sings about cheese, which is very sweet.”

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We asked Arthur what he hoped audiences would take away from the show? “I hope audiences take away melodies that they can sing on their way home. This show is so much fun and the right people get their comeuppance. It is not black and white. You will go home discussing the moral content of the story whilst laughing at the jokes. It’s a perfect family show for all ages”.

You can catch Fantastic Mr Fox which is adapted by Sam Holcroft and directed by Maria Aberg, from Wednesday 5th July until Sun 9th July at the Lowry theatre, Salford. Tickets available via the following link; https://www.thelowry.com/events/fantastic-mr-fox

 

 

Teletubbies Live!

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Time for Teletubbies! Time for Teletubbies!

The World Premiere of the first EVER Teletubbies stage show will take place in Manchester this November!

Everyone’s favourite colourful characters, Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po will take to the stage at the Palace Theatre in celebration of their 20th anniversary and we have all the details you need in order to join them!

Teletubbies Live promises to be a show filled with love, laughter and Teletubbies favourites including the Tubby Phone, Noo-ooo and Sun baby. Young audiences will be invited to join in the fun as they enjoy regular much loved features of the TV show as well as brand new songs by from BAFTA award-winning composer Mani Svavarsson.

Produced by leading children’s theatre team Fiery Light, in partnership with licensor DHX Brands and specially adapted and created by Richard Lewis, who has also created and directed the super popular Peppa Pig Live shows, Teletubbies Live is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the magic of the heatre as this colourful and mesmerising show plays out before them.

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Tickets go on sale on Wednesday 28th June and the Palace theatre will be marking the event with a FREE family friendly launch party from 10am-12 noon where you can meet Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po! There will be giveaways, face-painting, photo opportunities, cupcakes and babycinos as well as EXCLUSIVE ticket offers!

Anyone who buys tickets at the event for Teletubbies Live will be entered into a free prize draw to win some fabulous Teletubbies merchandise! So don’t delay head down to the Palace Theatre, Oxford St, Manchester at 10am on Wednesday June 28 to join in the fun and be the first in line to get your tickets! For more information head to; www.Teletubbieslive.com

 

 

Gangsta Granny

 

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Being massive fans of David Walliams children’s fiction, we approached the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of Gangsta Granny with excitement and a little trepidation. What if they didn’t translate Walliams’ clever story and capture his imaginative and laugh-out-loud storytelling to their stage production. It quickly became apparent that the cast were going carry it off and their on-stage interpretation didn’t disappoint.

Ben is an eleven-year-old boy (played by young adult Ashley Cousins) with flamboyant, ball room dancing parents (Rachel Stanley and Benedict Martin). They mean well, but this dancing duo are caught up in their own drama and don’t really have time for Ben or his Granny. As a result, Ben and Granny (played last night by Louise Bailey) are unenthusiastically forced together every Friday night. Ben thinks his granny is the most boring person in the world. She relentlessly feeds him cabbage based meals, even inventing cabbage mouse for desert and their weekly games of Scrabble are the highlight of her week.

Ben would rather do anything than spend time with Granny.

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That is, until he uncovers a secret, suggesting that perhaps Granny is not quite as boring as he thinks. As a result, Ben and Granny embark on an exciting adventure, one that will bring them together and will form an unlikely bond that can’t be broken. Not only do they come within a hairs’ breath of stealing the Crown Jewels, they also meet Her Royal Majesty, the Queen, who treats them with an improbable lenience.

Director Neal Foster and his team should be applauded for their inventive use of space, sound, light and costume design. They worked wonders recreating many different scenes from the book and managed to stay true to the original tale, despite the on-stage constraints. Granny’s recounts of her youthful escapades were wonderfully illustrated by imaginative and elaborate costume design and took the audience on a hilarious journey through her many adventures and encounters.

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Following the interval, the show stepped it up a gear with many more laugh out loud moments and lots of audience participation. Bens involuntary participation in a dancing competition, which was hosted by the hilarious Flavio and played by Devesh Kishore (he also played Raj, an endearing character that appears in most of Walliams’ novels), and the chaos that ensued, had the audience laughing and jumping from their seats in pantomime style.

All in all, this is a heartfelt cross-generational story told with great humour. Be warned, as with many of Walliams children’s stories, there is a sad twist in the tale, but fear not, this is dealt with sensitively and everyone left the theatre happy. According to the youngest member in our party it was “better than the book!”.

On at the Opera House until Sunday 11th June tickets can be found here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/gangsta-granny-2017/opera-house-manchester/

Reviewed by Margot Power

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

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Based on the best-selling book by legendary children’s author Dick King-Smith, which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig is brought to life on the Quays stage in the most enchanting and charming of ways in Polka theatre’s delightful new production.

Babe arrives at the Lowry as part of an extensive UK tour which will see our little piglet entertain audiences from Salford to Southend with many stops along the way. Directed by Michael Fentiman whose previous productions include The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus (RSC), and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Kensington Gardens). Babe is a story of perseverance, friendship, understanding and bravery. When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm as a proposed addition to Christmas dinner he is taken under the wing of loyal sheep-dog Fly and soon discovers a talent for herding, (once he eventually works out his own unique way of encouraging the sheep on the farm to do things his way). But as cute as our little piggy is can he make it in a dog’s world? Will Babe be the hero of the hour when his farmyard friends are in trouble? Will Mrs Hogget find an alternative pork free recipe for their festive feast? That we won’t tell you, you’ll have to head down to the Lowry to find out!

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We will tell you however how truly enchanted we were by this beautiful production, the stunning hand-crafted puppets, created by award-winning puppet designer Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, were expertly brought to life by the talented cast who delivered a masterclass in puppeteering and performance, the children in the audience were truly captivated.

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Madeleine Girling’s stage design sweeps you away to a countryside farm as cast members reside on the stage dressed as fluffy sheep, baah-ing and chomping on hay. The incredible puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes really makes you feel that the residents of Hogget’s Farm have come to life before you, so good is their fluidity and characterisation you soon begin to believe you really are down on the farm. The joy this production brings to its young audience is utterly heart-warming, the small cast deliver this production with heart and soul and the importance of true kindness and real friendship shines through. Babe will warm your heart, fill you with joy and remind you of just how much good there is in the world.

On at the Lowry until Saturday 15th April https://www.thelowry.com/events/babe

 

 

 

Justin’s Party

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There’s hardly a parent or grandparent in the UK who doesn’t know the name Justin Fletcher. He’s been on CBeebies screens for around 10 years in a number of shows, including Gigglebiz, Something Special and Justin’s House, all of which have been a big hit with children. Now Justin is taking to the stage with his UK tour of Justin’s Party and it’s proving to be a sell-out. The show reached Salford’s Lowry Theatre on Mother’s Day, providing two packed out shows full of toddlers and young children bubbling with excitement as they waited for the main man to make his appearance.

When he did the atmosphere was electric, Justin can do no wrong and fizzes with energy as he sings, dances and generally entertains the transfixed ‘mini’ theatregoers. He’s not alone in the show though, like every good party he has invited his friends; an ensemble of lively and colourfully dressed performers along with CBeebies favourite Cat Sandion. The premise for the ‘party’ is to celebrate the arrival of Justin’s new puppy Engelbert – cue a number of kids singalong classics, the Hokey Cokey, Heads Shoulders Knees and Toes and If You Are Happy And You Know It.

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During the 1 hour 40 minutes there’s confetti cannons galore, a hilarious scene where the icing of Engelbert’s giant cake gets messy (much to the squeals of delight from the children) plus a surprise visit from one of Justin’s most famous characters, Mr Tumble!

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Justin’s Party is delicious fun from start to finish and will leave children in a state of hyper that no amount of e numbers could come close to. A brilliant show and well recommended for families everywhere.

www.thelowry.com

 

BRB – Cinderella

brb-5Birmingham Royal Ballet triumphantly returns to the Lowry with David Bintley’s magical production of the classic and much loved fairy-tale ballet, Cinderella. Originally performed in 2010 and broadcast by the BBC as their 2010 Christmas ballet, Bintley’s award winning production features the complete original score by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev delivered superbly by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Staying true to the Cinderella story, we meet the wicked stepmother, Cinderella’s two ugly sisters (who we of course love to hate), as well as the handsome prince and not forgetting her magically gifted fairy Godmother.

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We begin in the dark and dank depths of Cinderella’s kitchen dwelling where a bare foot Cinderella has been cast by her wicked stepmother and ugly sisters, her only purpose in life seemingly to serve them. Despite the bleak and depressing surroundings Jenna Roberts ensures Cinderella shines and her joyous and delicate performance is enchanting. She moves with poise and perfection, light on her feet and full of endearing charisma.

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The story telling in this production, as with all Birmingham Royal Ballet productions is wonderfully clear allowing for a beautifully paced performance where we move effortlessly from one piece to the next, eager for more. Complimenting this exceptional narrative is an impressive set and deliciously extravagant costumes both designed by John F. Macfarlane, familiar to audiences as designer of the BRB’s hugely popular Nutcracker. The excellent narrative also allows for some great comedy acting from Skinny (Samara Dowes) and Dumpy (Laura Purkiss), the ugly sisters. Both excel in their roles and their acting is wonderful, offering the audience laugh out loud moments each time they enter the stage they are a fantastic fun and absolutely adored by the audience.

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Perfectly partnering Jenna Roberts’ Cinderella is handsome Prince, William Bracewell. Strong and athletic Bracewell is perfection in the role and the two of them glide beautifully together, their pas de deux performed at the grand ball is utterly mesmerising, they delivery of Bintley’s choreography is precise and striking. As the clock strikes twelve the dreamlike scene begins to crumble as Cinderella dashes from the scene leaving only her sparkly slipper, cue a highly entertaining hunt for the wearer of the shoe.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet succeeds once more in making a production which is not only enchanting and utterly thrilling but accessible and appealing to all. It is wonderful to see a diverse audience from very young children to those senior in age all totally captivated by this stunning production.

Cinderella is a work of magic, enchanting and sublime, an absolute delight.

On at The Lowry until 4th March

http://www.thelowry.com/event/birmingham-royal-ballet-cinderella