Etta James show to visit North West!

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The smash-hit show, At Last – The Etta James Story, is set to tour later this month starring the sensational Vika Bull; marking its UK debut on the 28th March when it opens at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre, the show also stops off in Manchester on 10th April at Royal Northern College of Music.

Following its world premiere in Melbourne in 2013 At Last – The Etta James Story has since packed theatres throughout Australia and New Zealand. In 2016 the show returned to Melbourne for a sell-out season at The Arts Centre and July saw the show triumph for a third season at The Sydney Opera House.

The show tells the story of soul legend Etta James’ turbulent life and features some of her most beloved songs including Tell Mama, Something’s Got A Hold On Me, Sugar On The Floor, the heart rending I’d Rather Go Blind, plus her iconic signature song At Last and much more. Vika puts her heart and soul into this unforgettable show and is joined on stage by some of Australia’s finest and funkiest musicians.

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During a long and tumultuous career that saw her win six Grammy Awards and a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Etta James has influenced a vast array of artists from Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart and is acknowledged as inspiring the careers of a new generation of singers from Christina Aguilera, Joss Stone, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. Sadly, Etta’s frantic recording and touring schedule coincided with her ever-growing addiction problems and over time she not only sang the blues…she lived the blues. Mercifully, her passion for life and strength of character saw her conquer her demons and she continued to record and perform into her seventies.

“Phenomenal vocals – outstanding!” Broadway World

Tuesday 28th March, Epstein Theatre, Liverpool www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

Monday 10th April, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester www.rncm.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Target Live to open Manchester Office

 

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Fantastic news for the Manchester theatre scene today as Marketing and PR agency Target Live announce they are to open a new Manchester office.

 

The newly established team is made up of three firm favourites from the Manchester theatre marketing and PR scene, Emma King, former marketing manager at ATG, who takes on the role of account director for marketing. Emma is joined by Anna Whitwood, who was a founding member of AKA North and is current marketing and communications manager for Manchester’s Palace Theatre and Opera House, and Kate Goerner, who has been press officer for the Palace Theatre and Opera House for the past eight years.

 

Bought by global communications firm Havas Group last year, the new Manchester team will be based at Havas Village on Princess Street, right in the heart of the city.

 

Describing Manchester as “a high priority” for the company, Havas Media Group chief executive Paul Frampton highlights the importance of Manchester not only in the North West but also nationally as a hub for not only touring productions but new and innovative pieces of theatre.

 

Target Live’s current clients include Bill Kenwright a firm favourite on the touring scene, revival musical 42nd Street which begins previews at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in March and Opera North who regularly visit the Lowry with their touring productions.

 

We’d like to wish Target Live, Emma, Anna and Kate every success in this exciting new venture, a team we have always enjoyed working with, we’re thrilled to hear this wonderful news!

 

 

 

Babe, The Sheep-Pig

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It’s almost time to meet the lovable Babe in a heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery. Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s much-loved children’s novel which inspired the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Babe, The Sheep-Pig will be brought to life on stage in an enchanting new production. Featuring stunning puppetry, an original score and an utterly charming ‘baa-ber sheep’ quartet, Babe and the residents of Hogget’s Farm will visit The Lowry from Tue 11 to Sat 15 April as part of a major UK Tour.

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When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm he is taken in by the trusty sheep-dog Fly, and soon discovers a talent for herding. With the help of his adopted Mum, the polite piglet soon wins over the most suspicious of sheep. But can a small pig make it in a dog’s world, and when his farmyard friends are in trouble can Babe save the day?

Babe, The Sheep-Pig is adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning playwright David Wood OBE, who is best known for his adaptations of classic family titles including Goodnight Mister Tom, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. It is directed by Michael Fentiman, whose productions include The Taming of the Shrew and Titus Andronicus (RSC), and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Kensington Gardens) which he co-directed with Rupert Goold.

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The residents of Hogget’s Farm will be brought to life by beautiful hand-crafted puppets, created by award-winning puppet designer Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, with the ensemble cast delivering masterful puppetry by puppetry director Matthew Forbes (Associate Director in Puppetry & Movement, War Horse).

Book your tickets now for this delightful adventure for all the family, on at The Lowry from Tues 11th – Saturday 15th April.

http://www.thelowry.com/event/babe-the-sheep-pig

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Preview – Bat Out Of Hell- The Musical

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Exactly one month to the day Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical will be all revved up and ready to take to the stage at the Manchester Opera House for the first night of an impressive seven week run of what is set to become one of the biggest musical theatre events of the year.

Originally called Neverland, and based on a futuristic version of Peter Pan which writer Jim Steinman originally work-shopped in 1974, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical has been many years in the planning. Set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland we meet Strat (Andrew Polec) the forever young leader of The Lost who has fallen for Raven (Christina Bennington), who has been locked away in the palace towers by her Father Falco (Rob Fowler), the oppressive ruler of Obsidian. The show takes us on an adventure of romance, rebellion and rock ‘n’ roll and features many of the monster hits we all know and love including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

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We were lucky enough to be treated to a preview from the rehearsal rooms and boy is Manchester in for a treat! The large cast are absolutely full of energy and sounded incredible, Polec led the charge as we were given a taste of what to expect when the show premieres at the Opera House on 17th February. Directed by award-winning theatre and opera director Jay Scheib, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is no doubt set to become a theatrical triumph , vibrant, sassy and full of attitude, the cast delivered each song with passion and were brimming with energy and the self-assured confidence you’d wish for from any rock star. The cutting edge and dynamic choreography of Emma Portner compliments the soundtrack perfectly and adds even more attitude to already explosive performances.

Sitting down with director Jay Scheib and producers David Sonenberg, Michael Cohl, and Tony Smith we heard more about the work that has gone into bringing this production together and the commitment they each have to ensuring the dream of seeing Bat Out Of Hell turned into a musical becomes not just a reality but an exciting and vibrant theatrical experience. Discussing the appeal and longevity of the music Scheib said, “You can have one perspective on the songs as a teenager and that perspective can shift as you move into different stages of your life, some songs get old where these songs just get different and their meaning changes, so they are always relevant”. David Sonenberg noted also that “Steinman first wrote the song titles then challenged himself to write a song that lived up to the title, he is a brilliant lyricist, just amazing at writing melodies”.

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It’s clear to see why Andrew Polec was given the lead role; the minute the music starts he is transformed into Strat, totally focussed and committed to delivering a performance Meatloaf himself would be proud of, if there is such a thing as having ‘it’ then Polec has got ‘it’ in bucket loads. It’s clear to see why the producers knew so quickly when Polec arrived at the open casting in the United States that he was “Born to play the part”, his casting in the role couldn’t be more perfect, Tony Smith states “You have to have an incredible voice for these songs, he’s not blown away by the scale of these songs, he’s amazing” Beautifully complimenting Polec’s strutting and rebellious Strat is Christina Bennington as Raven, she has the most beautiful voice and a wide-eyed innocence that’s just waiting to be corrupted by some serious rock ‘n’ roll, Bennington describes Raven’s meeting with Strat as a meeting of minds, “…she craves the love of her parents but feels suffocated by it, once she meets Strat she feels there’s the chance of a whole new kind of freedom but, she has an internal battle as she is torn between the love of her parents and her love for Strat”.

There is some real star quality involved in this new musical, the heartfelt delivery of new song What Part of My Body Hurts the Most by Rob Folwer and Sharon Sexton gave me goosebumps, emotional and touching the quality of the writing is so good it would be right at home on any of the Bat Out Of Hell albums. Fowler describes the songs as “…totally relatable, they tell the story for you, they’re full of honesty, even the new songs feel so familiar” a true sign of excellent writing. Likewise Danielle Steers and Dom Hartly- Harris give a powerful, emotionally charged performance of Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad that left me desperate to see more. Manchester audiences may also recognise Andrew Patrick-Walker, most recently seen in Hair at Hope Mill Theatre, Andrew is thrilled to be returning to Manchester with such an exciting and ground-breaking show.

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There is some serious weight behind this production, the sets and costumes promise to be spectacular with the building of the set beginning at the Opera House almost 6 weeks before opening night it is a show of enormous scale. Following our discussions with the cast and creatives it is obvious that this show is going to be nothing short of epic, the care taken to ensure this production is of the highest standard is clear to see, the opportunity to get to know Bat Out Of Hell as a theatrical piece is going to be an absolute joy, roll on February!

Tickets are available now via http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/opera-house-manchester/

http://www.batoutofhellmusical.com

17 February – 29 April 2017

Opera House, Manchester

Performances: Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, Thurs & Sat at 2.30pm (no matinee on Sat 18 February)

Tickets: from £17.50

Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment announce triple 2017 musical bill!

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The hugely successful partnership between leading London-based theatre production company Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre one of Manchester’s newest arts venues which brought us the much loved Parade earlier this year looks set to go from strength to strength with the announcement an impressive trio of shows for 2017.

Headed up by Manchester-born Producer and Company Director Katy Lipson, Aria Entertainment originally joined forces with Hope Mill Theatre, based in a Grade II listed mill in Ancoats and brainchild of Joseph Houston and William Whelton, back in January 2016 to spearhead the venue as a platform to showcase, and bring both new and revival musical theatre to the North. Further cementing their commitment to the partnership came in today’s announcement of their three exciting headline musicals for 2017 – Yank!; The Stationmaster; and Little Women.

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Yank! is a World War Two love story, with book and lyrics by David Zellnik and music by his brother Joseph. It tells the story of Stu, a scared mid-western youngster who is called up in 1943. He becomes a photographer for Yank Magazine, the journal ‘for and by the servicemen’. With a score that pays homage to the timeless music of the 1940s, the musical explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle. Yank will also be produced with Ben Millerman and directed by James Baker who also directed the almighty Parade.

Yank! will run from 9 March to 8 April 2017.

The Stationmaster is a musical Aria Entertainment first produced a workshop production of in 2015 as part of their annual From Page To Stage Festival Of New Musicals. The musical is inspired by Horvath’s Judgment Day, translated by Christopher Hampton with a book by Susannah Pearse and Music and Lyrics by Tim Connor. Set in a small town in the Lake District in 1958, railway stationmaster Thomas Price is the pillar of his local community. But when a young woman unexpectedly arrives on the platform, his well-ordered life begins to unravel. The Stationmaster will be directed by Bronagh Lagan.

The Stationmaster will run from 7th September to 30th September 2017.

Little Women will make its UK premiere at Hope Mill Theatre from 9th  November to 9th December 2017. The musical originates from a book by Allan Knee, with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, Little Women follows the adventures of the March sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested – her friend Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters and their experience growing up in Civil War America. . This will be the UK premiere of the Broadway musical which starred Sutton Foster who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance and will no doubt be a highly anticipated production.

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Aria Entertainment’s Producer and Company Director Katy Lipson said of todays announcement;

“I am absolutely delighted to announce our 2017 season at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester. I am also excited to be on-board as resident producer on all in-house musical productions and to lead our vision on producing exclusively musical theatre with a focus on new musicals. We hope through our productions of Yank!, The Stationmaster and Little Women, we can bring even more audiences into the theatre to discover the intimacy and wonderful work we are investing in.”

Joseph Houston, Artistic Director of Hope Mill Theatre, added:

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce our 2017 season of musicals in collaboration with our resident producer Katy Lipson. All three titles are extremely exciting not only for Hope Mill Theatre – but for the musical theatre industry. Staging the UK premiere of two exciting shows such as the Off-Broadway musical Yank! and Broadway hit Little Women solidifies the theatre’s vision for producing never been seen before works and, the staging of new British musical The Stationmaster, we show our commitment to supporting new British musicals. These titles are sure to cement Manchester and the North’s position as a key driving force in musical theatre.”

To conclude the partnership’s programme for 2016, opening this weekend for Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre is cult classic musical, Hair, the story of a group of peace-loving hippies living in the shadow of the Vietnam War.

Previews begin on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November, followed by a three-week run from Tuesday 15th November to Saturday 3rd December. Tickets available via the link below;

HAIR the musical

LISTING INFORMATION

YANK!

9 MARCH – 8 APRIL 2107

On sale Thursday 10 November 2016

THE STATIONMASTER

7 SEPTEMBER – 30 SEPTEMBER 2017

On sale soon

LITTLE WOMEN

9 NOVEMBER – 9 DECEMBER 2017

On sale soon

http://www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

 

Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical

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Originally released in 1977, Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell has sold an eye-popping 50 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time, if this wasn’t impressive enough 16 years later Bat Out Of Hell II was released, which produced the unstoppable hit I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).  In 2006 Steinman and Meatloaf triumphed again with the release of Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose. Excitingly for us these three almighty collections with the addition of a newly written chapter have been translated into a new musical which will make its world premiere at Manchester’s Opera House on 17th February 2017 before heading to London’s West End for a limited season.

Originally called Neverland, and based on a futuristic version of Peter Pan which Steinman work-shopped in 1974, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical has been many years in the planning. Set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland we meet Strat (Andrew Polec) the forever young leader of The Lost who has fallen for Raven (Christina Bennington), daughter of Falco (Rob Fowler), the oppressive ruler of Obsidian, who has been locked away in the palace towers. The show takes us on an adventure of romance, rebellion and rock and roll, which features many of the monster hits we all know and love including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

Manchester was treated to a preview of the show this week when the cast descended on Albert Schloss to perform three tracks from the upcoming show, full of energy and sounding incredible, Polec lead the charge as Manchester audiences were given a taste of what to expect when the show premieres in February. Directed by award-winning theatre and opera director Jay Scheib, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is no doubt set to become a theatrical triumph , vibrant, sassy and full of attitude, the cast delivered each song with passion and were brimming with energy and the self-assured confidence you’d wish for from any rock star.

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Adding his support to the new musical was the legendary Meatloaf who spoke of his passion for the music of his great friend Jim Steinman;

“This has been Jim’s dream for 50 years, he wrote Who Needs the Young when he was only 19 years old! The genius of Jim Steinman added to the passion and meaning he puts into his music combined with the feeling it gives you is immeasurable.  Bat Out Of Hell doesn’t belong to me, it doesn’t belong to Jim it belongs to each and every one who listens to it, who performs it, it belongs to you, and now it needs to belong to Andrew Polec who will in turn make it belong to the audience”

Tickets are available now via http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/opera-house-manchester/

Website: www.batoutofhellmusical.com

17 February – 29 April 2017

Opera House, Manchester

Performances: Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, Thurs & Sat at 2.30pm (no matinee on Sat 18 February)

Tickets: from £17.50

La Bohème Preview

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Renowned Opera producer Ellen Kent returns to Manchester’s Opera House this month with Puccini’s beloved and one of the most popular classic operatic stories ever told, La Bohème.

Puccini’s masterpiece, with its soaring melodies and emotionally stirring orchestration is based on Henri Murger’s novel Scenes de la vie de Boheme, it includes many  unforgettable arias  including the beautiful ‘Your Tiny  Hand  is Frozen’, ‘They Call Me Mimi’ and ‘Musetta’s Waltz’.

Set in Paris, La Bohème tells the tale of ill-fated lovers Mimi and penniless writer Rodolfo. Mimi and Rodolfo instantly connect but Mimi’s flirty behaviour leads Rodolfo to call time on their love, wracked with guilt and pining for his sweetheart he soon returns to his lover but of course this being an opera there’s a sprinkling of tragedy to deal with along the way.

Ellen Kent’s La Bohème will be traditionally staged featuring stunning sets and beautiful costumes. The set will reflect the Bohemian art of the Parisian period and included in the show will be the additional treats of a live brass band, wintry snow effects and even Musetta’s dog which will make an entrance.

Said producer Ellen Kent: “The scene when Mimi and Rodolfo meet and she sings They Call Me Mimi always makes me cry. It’s a lovely piece of music. I try to do opera that the audience can emotionally connect with, not just on a musical level but with the personal drama happening on the stage.”

French soprano Olga Perrier together with the international soprano Ecaterina Danu are returning to star in this production as Muzetta and Mimi respectively. The international tenors Giorgio Meladze and Vitalii Liskovetskiy are also returning after they have previously enjoyed huge success performing in the UK.

Sung in Italian with English subtitles, La Bohème really makes Opera accessible for all, entertaining, poignant and playful, La Bohème is the ideal introduction for newcomers looking to explore what Opera has to offer as well as being a treat for the established Opera lovers amongst us.

Book now at www.atgtickets.com/Manchester or by calling the box office on 0844 871 3018.

La Bohème – Opera House, Manchester

Saturday 12th November 2016

Perf Times: 7.30pm

0844 871 3018* http://www.atgtickets.com/manchester *

*Booking/transaction fee applies