The Wizard of Oz | Blackpool Opera House

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Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Following on from the magical Peter Pan last year Selladoor Family return to Blackpool for their second festive season with firm family favourite, The Wizard of Oz.

This iconic musical adventure sees Dorothy (Holly Tandy) swept up out of Kansas landing with a bump in the enchanting land of Oz. Dorothy’s abrupt arrival marks the end of the Wicked Witch of the East and the start of Dorothy’s journey to the mystical Emerald City in a bid to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Katie Milner-Evans) and ask for her help to return to her family back in Kansas.

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Selladoor have gone all out in this lavish production, Steve Howell’s sets are stunning and combined with Sarah Mercade’s beautiful costume design and Jack Weir’s atmospheric lighting offer some real wow moments; not only does the Wicked Witch fly through the sky but Glinda the good witch even arrives via floating golden bubble!

All the classic songs from the instantly recognisable score are there including We’re Off To See The Wizard, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead! and Over The Rainbow which is delivered note perfect by X Factor sensation Holly Tandy who makes a strong musical theatre debut.

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Tandy is joined by a superb trio of friends as she journeys through Oz; Kieran McGinn makes for an exceptional Scarecrow, full of heart and charisma he brings an innocent charm to the role. Emmerdale favourite Kelvin Fletcher impresses as the Tin Man, proving to be a strong character actor who switches from farmhand to Oz resident with ease while Radio Wave’s Scott Gallagher is a delight as the Cowardly Lion, funny, engaging and undoubtedly the King of the Forrest.

Chloe Carrington covered the roles of Miss Gulch and The Wicked Witch in the particular performance we saw, owning the stage with every shrill cackle she is clearly having lots of fun with the part and more than rises to the challenge.

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No Wizard of Oz would be complete without a host of colourful Ozians and vibrant indeed they are with both the ensemble and the young company delivering outstanding performances; adding depth and richness to this impressive production with a slick delivery of Khiley Williams’ striking choreography.

If you’re looking for a festive treat then look no further, click your heels together three times and whisper, ‘there’s no place like the Blackpool Opera House’. This wonderful adaptation of an all-time classic will not disappoint, great cast, superb sets and stunning costumes ensure that this Wizard of Oz is wonderful indeed!

The Wizard of Oz is on at the Blackpool Opera House until Sunday 30th December tickets available here.

*Photography by Mark Dawson

Wizard of Oz Interviews | Part 2 | Holly Tandy

Holly Tandy

Following on from our chat with Kelvin Fletcher, we caught up with Holly Tandy who is about to step into the ruby slippers and play Dorothy in Sellador’s Blackpool Christmas extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz.

Opening Night: This is your first musical theatre role, how are you feeling?

Holly: I’m super excited; it’s such a good opportunity for me. I’ve never done anything like this before and have always wanted to, it’s one of those things where I’m constantly learning which has just been just great. I know the skills I’m learning in addition to the things I already feel I have strength in together are preparing me for not only this role but my future career, it’s brilliant.

Opening Night: Are you looking forward to performing in Blackpool?

Holly: I’m so excited to get on stage and perform, being back up North feels really special for me too. I’m so excited for the audiences to see this show, my family are all coming along as well and they can’t wait, it’ll be really nice to share this with them.

Company of The Wizard of Oz

Opening Night: What is it about The Wizard of Oz that makes it so appealing?

Holly: It’s such an iconic show, a total classic that everybody knows and loves. There’s something very comforting about The Wizard of Oz and the familiarity and affection we all have for it. It’s such an engaging piece of theatre too, great for kids, just a really good feel-good show and the perfect Christmas musical for all the family.

Opening Night: How are you finding working in a cast as opposed to as a soloist on X Factor and how does the performance vary?

Holly: It’s so much fun. We all get on so well, everyone’s been so great, we’ve really clicked. There’s so much talent in this show, every cast member from the ensemble to the leads, I couldn’t be happier really with how everything’s going.

X Factor was a great was to build my confidence but this is very different. Pop elements don’t really fit with musical theatre so I’ve been really disciplined in adapting my style and the way I work for this show. I’m enjoying the challenge so much, I’ll always be grateful for my X Factor experience; it’s given me a platform to build on and led to this great opportunity.

Holly Tandy as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Opening Night: What’s are the challenges working on the show?

I was feeling a little nervous about working with Toto at first before we started rehearsals but we’ve got such a great team that I know it will be great. They’re so well trained. Also the amount of lines at first was something I didn’t quite anticipate, I knew there were lots but didn’t realise quite how many, but that’s come on great and you soon pick things up, the show is looking and sounding really good.

Opening Night: Are you feeling any nerves ahead of officially opening?

A little, but I think that’s healthy. It’s a nervousness of wanting to do well, wanting to do the role justice etc. it’s not the kind of nerves that are eating me up. I’m really enjoying it and I think a little bit of nerves shows just how much you care and I do really care about getting this role right and doing a good job.

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Opening Night: Selladoor are known for being inventive and dynamic how are you finding working with them?

Holly: It’s been amazing, they are just so good at what they do and such a great bunch of people, all so good at their jobs, they are all so talented, from the director, to the choreographer to the musical director each and every person I’m working with is just so brilliant and so good at getting each cast member to be the best they can be. It’s been an absolute pleasure so far and no doubt will continue to be.

The Wizard of Oz opens on Friday 7th December at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and runs until Sunday 30th tickets available here.

First look Doctor Dolittle

Have you booked your tickets yet?

Be quick as you’ve never seen anything like it!

We are absolutely loving these production shots from Doctor Dolittle which opens at The Lowry next week.

The magical musical which promises festive fun for all the family will run from Tuesday 11th December until Saturday 6th January.

Starring Harry Potter star Mark Williams at the Doctor, Corrie favourites Brian Capron as both Albert Blossom and the mighty Straight Arrow, Vicky Entwistle as trusty side-kick Polynesia while Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aïda) will be playing Lady Bellowes and Poison Arrow.

The spectacular stage show follows Doctor Dolittle on his magical adventure in pursuit of the Giant Pink Sea Snail which holds the secret of life and making the world a happier place. We’ll meet marvellous humans as well as some mighty impressive animals along the way including the Pushmi-Pullyu and the Doctor’s trusty sidekick Polynesia the Parrot. The show promises to be a thrilling Christmas treat for young and old.

Tickets are available now and can be found here.

Wizard of Oz Interviews | Part 1 | Kelvin Fletcher

Kelvin Fletcher

Following on from the huge success of Peter Pan last year Selladoor Productions return to Blackpool with an iconic musical adventure as we see Dorothy click her heels together and arrive at the legendary Opera House.

This highly acclaimed adaptation from The Royal Shakespeare Company promises to be a magical treat for all the family featuring timeless classics: We’re Off To See The Wizard, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!, The Merry Old Land Of Oz and Over The Rainbow, add to this lavish sets and spectacular costumes and you really do have the prefect festive treat.

We were lucky enough to catch up with cast members Kelvin Fletcher (Tin Man), Holly Tandy (Dorothy), Scott Gallagher (Cowardly Lion) and Kate Milner-Evans(The Wizard) ahead of opening night on 7th December to hear a little more about what audiences can expect from this theatrical adventure.

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Opening Night: How are rehearsals going?

Kelvin: Absolutely brilliant, it’s been such a whirlwind. We’re doing full run-throughs now and tech rehearsals are getting closer, the whole process has been amazing for me, a lot of new firsts, coming into musical theatre, I’ve never done this sort of thing before, anything I have been a little bit anxious about the team who have been great have reassured me and offered some brilliant advice. I feel like I’m really growing in confidence every day, we’re all really looking forward to getting to Blackpool now and performing in front of an audience.

ON: We all know you so well from Emmerdale, how is acting on stage different to TV acting?

Kelvin: Day to day it’s very different, yes I’m used to acting but acting on stage is so much more expressive, especially in musical theatre with such larger than life characters. It’s been wonderful really to get a chance to do things I know are in my repertoire but that I’ve never had chance to express before. I’m also really excited for people to see this different side of me, a very different side to what they’re used to seeing; it will be a lot of fun for everyone including me.

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ON: As the Tin Man you have one of the most restrictive costumes in the show, how are you finding that?

Kelvin: First couple of dances I thought it would be best to try and be quid rigid with my movement but then I was struggling a little to get the fluidity of the dance so I decided to do it the opposite way and master the dance first then add the rigidity of the Tin Man. This is the great benefit of rehearsals it allows us to try different ideas and see what works best. Then of course there’s the silver makeup which looks amazing but I’ll definitely need help with that, I managed to leave some on the other day and caught myself in the mirror still wearing a bit of guy liner!

ON: Will your family be making the trip to Blackpool?

Kelvin: Yes, they are so excited, when I first started acting it was on the stage, that’s where my love for acting blossomed so it will be nice for us all really to get back to where it all started and it couldn’t be a better show, a big flamboyant musical like this is just so exciting for us all.

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ON: How does it feel knowing you’ll be performing at the Winter Gardens?

Kelvin: I’d never actually been despite knowing how iconic it is, it’s got such a great reputation, so to be performing there is going to be unbelievable. It’s such a great space, it’s huge, we can’t replicate the size of the set in the rehearsal space because it’s so huge which gives a sense of the sheer scale and spectacle of this production.

ON: We know you’re used to working with animals from your Emmerdale days but how about on stage?

Kelvin: I keep thinking to myself “If the dog doesn’t run at that particular point what will we do?” ha ha but I don’t have a lot of interaction with the dog to be honest it’s more Holly, as if playing Dorothy isn’t tough enough! The dogs are so well trained thought that no doubt they’ll be as good as gold and more than likely steal the show!

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ON: How are you finding the singing?

Kelvin: Our Musical Director has been amazing, I’ve never had any singing training before so I’ve just been like a sponge really taking on any piece of advice. We’ve all got numbers throughout and mine’s a lovely little number which starts off with some dialogue then breaks out into a song, I really can’t wait. Then of course there are lots of great songs throughout, choreographed dances, there’s so much going on it really will be spectacular.

The Wizard of Oz opens at Blackpool’s Opera House on Friday 7th December until Sunday 30th December tickets available here.

Magical Christmas Movie Experience comes to Manchester

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Here at Opening Night we’ve started to feel a bit festive with the announcement of some Christmas movie classics being screened at a new pop up cinema launching next month – including Home Alone, Love Actually and Die Hard (and yes Die Hard IS a Crimbo movie – no debate!)

The Magical Christmas Movie Experience will showcase some of the best-loved Christmas movies in the surroundings of a beautifully transformed Mayfield Depot near Manchester Piccadilly.

Cinema goers will enter a magical kingdom through a secret wardrobe, finding themselves in an enchanted forest full of festive surprises.

Running over four long weekends from November 23 to December 16, the festive film programme includes The Greatest Showman, Love Actually Weekend and two Christmas Classics weeks.

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The phenomenon that is The Greatest Showman will be brought to life in colourful fashion with, stilt walkers, fire breathers and a fabulous choir creating a fully immersive experience. And there will also be sing-along screenings. Yeah ok it’s not really an Xmas movie – but we’re not complaining!

The Love Actually weekend takes the yuletide feelgood favourite, starring Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Martin Freeman, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley among other famous faces and adds the seasonal sound of a live gospel choir as well as some more surprises. We’re already welling up at the thought of THAT Emma Thompson scene (dammit where’s the tissues!)

And the Christmas Classics weeks features a host of heart-warming, thrilling and hilarious favourites including Home Alone, The Holiday, Elf, Die Hard, The Polar Express and Gremlins.

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There’s be plenty of food and drink to feast on too.

In the cinema, a range of seating will include giant bean bags, and while people are encouraged to dress warmly for the winter weather, there will also be blankets on offer to snuggle under which will keep audience’s toasty – and which will be donated to the city’s homeless after the final screening.

Steven Matthews Event Organiser said: “Last Christmas Love Actually appeared in the same location, that was huge and really well received.”

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“This is something new for Manchester – it’s the first experience of its kind with an enchanted forest and everyone’s favourite festive flicks. Audiences can expect loads of surprises, and a totally unique experience.”

Doors to the enchanted forest and food court open at 6pm on Thursdays, 5pm on Fridays and from noon at weekends.

Tickets for all the films start from £14.99.

For more details visit http://www.magicalchristmasmovieexperience.com

 

Interview | Doctor Dolittle’s Brian Capron

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Doctor Dolittle returns to the stage this Christmas in Leslie Bricusse’s acclaimed family musical which opens at the Lowry on Tuesday 11th December.

Based on the much loved 1967 film with Rex Harrison, Leslie Bricusse’s family favourite promises fun for all as eccentric Doctor (Mark Williams) takes us on a magical adventure in his quest to find the Giant Pink Sea Shell which holds the secret of life and making the world a happier place.

Not only will we meet the Pushmi-Pullyu and the Doctor’s trusty sidekick Polynesia the Parrot but we’ll also meet many wonderful human companions along the way. Here at Opening Night we were lucky enough to catch up with one of the talented humans taking to the stage this festive season in the form of Brian Capron.

Coronation Street legend and much admired theatre actor Brian give us the inside info on what we can expect from this Christmas spectacular.

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Opening Night: This production sounds absolutely spectacular, especially the puppets.

BC: It’s going to be wonderful, so much thought and planning has gone into this production. The planning alone for the puppets has been incredible. It almost doesn’t feel right saying puppets as they are so lifelike, they’re such characters which their own individual personalities.

ON: Are you looking forward to performing with the puppets?

BC: Absolutely, I have a number with the Pushmi-Pullyu, which is a double headed llama & when I first saw the puppet it wasn’t quite finished but even then I could tell just how impressive it was going to be, it was already taller than me! It’s absolutely huge and has a performer in either end. It will be performing a dance in the middle of the number, Never Seen Anything Like It, which will be just magical.

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ON: It sounds like the show is really going to impress visually.

BC: Tom Piper the designer is one of the best theatre designers in the country. The way he has envisaged the whole thing, coming out of a storybook really is so very, very exciting.

The show will still be a period show but some things will be a little updated. It’s amazing really just how relevant to today this show is. There’s a charming message that comes through about the preservation of flora and fauna, conservation of animals etc. and it is presented so beautifully.

ON: You’re playing two characters in the production, can you tell us a little about them?

BC: Yes I play two characters; the 1st is Albert Blossom who owns the circus. He’s a big, fun character to play and of course I get to perform the fabulous Never Seen Anything Like It which is one of the big turns in the show. He’s a wonderful character to play. The second character is a complete contrast, a character called Straight Arrow, he is head of the natives on Sea-Star Island, the island Doctor Dolittle visits. He’s very posh so a wonderful contrast to the 1st half.

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ON: Are you looking forward to spending the festive season at the Lowry?

BC: Absolutely, I often do panto at Christmas, in fact last year I was at the Stockport Plaza so I’m really excited to be coming back to the North West with such a wonderful Christmas show.

Doctor Dolittle really is a genuine family show, suitable for young and old to enjoy together. It’s going to be wonderful, there’s a great cast, spectacular songs, incredible scenery and costumes, it really will be something special.

Doctor Dolittle opens at The Lowry on Tuesday 11th December and runs until Saturday 5th January tickets available https://thelowry.com/whats-on/doctor-dolittle/

 

Winter Wonderland

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Event City’s mega 22,000sq m of exhibition space has been transformed once again into a fabulously festive Winter Wonderland which will undoubtedly thrill young and old alike.

Now in its 5th consecutive year, Manchester’s biggest attraction boasts more rides than you can shake a candy cane at, as well as shows, festive food and drink and of course no Wonderland would be complete without the big man himself, Father Christmas! There are even a couple of very special guests to entertain the little ones this year in the form of classic children’s favourite’s, Rainbow’s George and Zippy!

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With over 50 rides and attractions all under one roof you really are spoilt for choice, from an indoor circus to classic fairground favourites Winter Wonderland quite literally has something for everyone, with the added bonus that everything (apart from food and drink) is included in your ticket price, so no need to worry about limiting the number of rides you go on or searching for loose change, you can enjoy the rides as many times as you like from the minute you arrive!

For the littlest members of the family there’s a baby chill out zone including large soft play area as well as a meet and greet with Santa, numerous toddler friendly rides with flashing lights and beeping horns which kept my little visitor entertained long past her usual bedtime and although this is Christmas you can even take a trip to the seaside at the giant sandpit. A huge positive is that sessions are limited to avoid overcrowding, which further added to our enjoyment of this incredibly magical place.

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For older children and adults there’s all the favourite classic rides you’d hope to see, the dodgems, the waltzers, hilarious bucking broncos and an enormously fun cyclone (which I’d advise going on before you enjoy one of the delicious bubble waffles!)

If this wasn’t enough there are lots of fabulous shows at various intervals throughout each session, Rainbow Live with Zippy & George, a fabulous Christmas Circus, The Ice Princesses, Jedi Knight Training, an all-new Daisy & Ollie Show from Cartoonito, as well as an opportunity to enjoy a Christmas Melt-Down – fun and dancing on the main stage with Winter Wonderlands crazy DJ!

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With tickets prices, £20.50* (plus £1.50 Quaytickets booking fee) per ticket for adults and children aged 3-16 (under 3’s free) or £70 for a family of four, Winter Wonderland really is excellent value for money with each session lasting for four hours. My group and I left feeling festive and giggling about all the fun we’d had whilst planning our next visit to this magical place, an annual visit (or two) has quickly become one of our favourite Christmas traditions, with fun and lots of it guaranteed!

Open from 9th December 2017 until 1st January 2018, booking is highly recommended as some dates are already sold out, tickets are available here.