Winter Hill

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Set on Bolton’s iconic Winter Hill, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play explores what could happen if corporate greed was allowed to take over the town’s beloved moorland and the effect of this on a group of feisty local women, not yet ready to bow down to might of the developers. Transforming their reading-group into a powerful political statement where revolution, resistance and rebellion take centre stage the ladies occupy the part-built sky-scraping hotel as they declare themselves to be “Women Against Erection”.

The play is delivered in a series of flashbacks, present day sees Emma (Fiona Hampton) daughter of activist Dolly (Denise Black) meeting with some of the women who occupied the building with her mother to find out the truth about what actually happened that day.

Winter Hill is a real ensemble piece with clear and witty narrative and a cast any production would be thrilled to have, it’s a joy to see such talented female actresses under one roof. Denise Black, is superb as the gutsy and fearless Dolly, she is determined to safeguard the future of Winter Hill for the generations to come to enjoy and explore as she did. Souad Faress takes on the role of Vivian; somewhat mysterious in her background she is quietly confident and utterly committed to the cause. Janet Henfrey delivers a fine performance as wheelchair bound Felicity, weak of body but strong of mind she offers sharp and witty observations of the world as she sees it. Louise Jamerson’s Beth is less revolutionary than her friends but her loyalty to them soon sees her understanding more their reasons for resistance. Attempted voice of reason is local councillor Irene (Cathy Tyson) calm and rational she attempts to talk the ladies out of their action but you can’t help think she like the rest of the Council has been dazzled by the investors as she attempts to justify their approval of the monstrous hotel despite the fact the promised school and social housing seem to have been long forgotten now the developers have moved in.

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Resident Octagon artistic director Elizabeth Newman has delivered a thought-provoking and quality piece of drama, this all female cast shine as they strive to decide what makes a heroine and eventually realise that if they are going to be heroines then they will be heroines for humanity, a sentiment that really strikes a chord in the current unsettling political climate. This is a passionate and spirited piece as we see the underdog fight to make a difference, the women are tired of being suppressed and will go just as far as they need to make sure their voice is heard. They declare that the bullies “…don’t come with machine guns but power points and plans” as they unite to show just how strong and important people power can be, a relevant and powerful reminder to us all.

On at the Bolton Octagon until Saturday 3rd June tickets available here https://octagonbolton.co.uk/whats-on/theatre/winter-hill/

 

 

 

Julie, Madly, Deeply

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Hit West End show Julie, Madly, Deeply will visit Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre for two show only this coming Sunday. Written and performed by the insanely talented Sarah-Louise Young (most recently seen in Hope Mill’s critically acclaimed production of Yank!) and directed by Russell Lucas this charming and cheeky cabaret takes an entertaining look at fan and fandom.

A huge fan of Julie Andrews since childhood Sarah-Louise Young intertwines songs from Andrews much loved career including Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music with stories and anecdotes detailing the highest of highs and lowest of lows of Andrew’s life. A show guaranteed to have you grinning from ear to ear this witty and entertaining tribute is an absolute must-see!

Sunday 14th May 3pm and 7.30pm at Hope Mill Theatre

Tickets available here http://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/julie-madly-deeply/

 

Flare 2017 launch

Flare

Flare International Festival of new theatre which is taking place across the city between 4th -8th July announced an inspiring and innovative full programme line up this afternoon.

Acting as a platform for some of the most talented national and international theatre makers and featuring around 60 of the best new international artists Flare 17 promises to be a unique and exciting celebration of new theatre. The full programme includes performances, workshops, feedback sessions as well as parties for both performers and audiences alike.

Artistic Director Neil Mackenzie explained the importance of programming international work, “It is our aim as an international festival and as advocates of emerging experimental theatre to bring together the international community of radical theatre artists to inform and enrich theatre practice in this country”

Flare 17 will take place at various venues across the city including HOME, Royal Exchange Theatre, The Lowry, Contact, Martin Harris Centre and 70 Oxford St and will present an ambitious programme of work from across Europe. Highlights announced today include:

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Party by Spanish/Brazillian artists Beaches – An immersive dance and audio show for 10 spectators at the time. Alluding to elements of our collective memory and popular culture, the piece creates a utopian simulation of a night out, one that functions as a detonator for hacking the senses of the spectator, blurring the limits between reality and representation.

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Blind Cinema by Britt Hatzius – In the darkness of a cinema space, the audience sits blindfolded. Behind each row of audience members is a row of children who, in hushed voices, describe a film only they can see. Accompanied by the soundtrack (which has no dialogue), the whispered descriptions are a fragile, fragmentary and courageous attempt by the children to make sense of what they see projected on the screen. In focusing on that which lies beyond the sense of sight, the attention switches between the world of the film, guided by the whispering voice, and the shared physical space of the cinema. For these performances the children will come from St Brigid’s RC Primary in Beswick, and Beaver Road Primary in Didsbury.

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Grand Applause by Guillem Mont de Palol & Jorge Dutor – An extraordinary on-stage exhibition of performance and visual art, presented in the form of the opera – Carmen. In the opera, Don José falls in love with Carmen who becomes infatuated with the bullfighter Escamillo. Don José’s love quickly turns to violent jealousy. He tracks Carmen down and kills her.

On a stage that is wired for sound, Grand Applause offers a stirring soundtrack, a live chorus and a choreography of artworks, by three artists: Norberto Llopis in the role of Carmen, Luis Urculo in the role of Don José and Bernhard Willhelm as the toreador Escamillo. After their huge hit #losmicrófonos at FLARE15, irrepressible theatrical mavericks Guillem Mont de Palol and Jorge Dutor are back, but on a much bigger scale…

Flare Molar

Molar by Quim Bigas Bassart – A much acclaimed and highly energetic interactive solo performance about happiness, and the way we move and are moved. A favourite at festivals across Spain, this is a performance that reflects on the commercialisation of human emotion, and is presented for free in the Great Hall of the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

Tickets and full listings are available now via www.flarefestival.com

 

Bucket List

(c) Alex Brenner

Following an award winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe run, the internationally acclaimed Theatre Ad Infinitum bring their latest powerful piece Bucket List to the Lowry.

The all-female cast tells the story of Milagros, a spirited Mexican orphan who tragically sees her mother murdered during an anti-corruption protest. Milagros is left with only a bloodied list of names, names of those responsible for her mother’s death. Milagros soon realises her only option to make them pay and find her vengeance is to destroy them, one by one.

(c) Alex Brenner

Ad Infinitum’s style of story-telling is exceptional, physical, effusive and hugely powerful. The piece at 90 minutes straight through with no interval flows rapidly and packs a punch, raising a fist of defiance to the powers that be. The ensemble cast successfully take on a number of roles; once you get into the flow of how this innovative company share their tales you are soon scooped up and hooked by their charismatic and emotive style.

(c) Alex Brenner

(c) Alex Brenner (info@alexbrenner.co.uk)

Director Nir Paldi perfectly illustrates through her cast the desperation and frustration of living in a place where poison not only flows through the rivers but right to the core of the establishment. The cast made up of Tamsin Clarke, Charli Dubery, Luisa Guerreiro, Orian Michaeli, Deborah Pugh, Shamira Turner portray this tangled web of hurt and pain magnificently, there are many light-hearted moments of joy as we see Milagros childlike, innocent as she has fun with her young friends before the brutality of real life takes over. An interesting and clever narrative of a chess game flows through the piece, offering tactical advice on how best to make the next and most deadly move whilst offering up the suggestion we are all just pawns in a bigger and much more terrifying game.

Bucket List is passionate and incredibly moving, intricate and brilliantly delivered, physically charged theatre at its best. On at the Lowry until Thursday 27th April tickets available here; https://www.thelowry.com/events/bucket-list

Miss Saigon returns to Manchester!

Miss S 5Hot on the heels of yesterday’s exciting Matilda announcement Cameron Mackintosh has today announced that Miss Saigon will land at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 21th March 2018 and will stay in the city for a total of 7 weeks until 12th May 2018, with tickets going on sale on 18 May. www.miss-saigon.com

Mackintosh also announced the principal casting of his acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical, Red Concepcion will play ‘The Engineer’, Sooha Kim ‘Kim’, Ashley Gilmour ‘Chris’, Zoë Doano ‘Ellen’ and Gerald Santos ‘Thuy’. At certain performances ‘Kim’ will be played by Joreen Bautista.

Here at Opening Night we’re thrilled to hear that Barnaby Hughes most recently seen in Hope Mill Theatre’s stunning production Yank! will be amongst the cast, huge congratulations Barnaby!

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Miss Saigon tells the heart-wrenching story of the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.  The show has since been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

Tickets will be in huge demand for this epic production, we are thrilled to say in Manchester the heat is most definitely on!

MISS SAIGON UK TOUR 2017/2018

www.miss-saigon.com

 

MONDAY 3 JULY – SATURDAY 22 JULY 2017

CURVE, LEICESTER

www.curveonline.co.uk – 0116 242 3595

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 26 JULY – SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2017

BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME

www.birminghamhippodrome.com – 0844 338 5000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2017

BORD GAIS ENERGY THEATRE, DUBLIN

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie – +353 (1) 677 7999

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2017 – SATURDAY 6 JANUARY 2018

WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF

www.wmc.org.uk – 029 2063 6464

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY – SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2018

FESTIVAL THEATRE EDINBURGH

www.edtheatres.com – 01315296000

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2018

MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON

www.mayflower.org.uk – 02380 711811

ON SALE NOW

 

WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2018

MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester/0844 871 3019

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 16 MAY – SATURDAY 23 JUNE 2018

THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME

www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/0844 871 3012

ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 4 JULY – SATURDAY 4 AUGUST 2018

THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH

http://www.theatreroyal.com/01752 267222 ON SALE 18 MAY 2017

 

WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST – SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL

www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk  01603 63 00 00

ON SALE 21 AUGUST

Boris – The Musical Preview

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Established in June 2016 as a response to the Brexit referendum, Blowfish Theatre bring their 5* debut show ‘Boris – The Musical’ to Manchester’s Dance House theatre on Saturday 15th April. Made up of students, alumni, and staff from the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Huddersfield, the University of Kent, and East15 Acting School, Blowfish make politically engaged theatre on a shoestring budget, working with nothing but talent, determination, a dodgy wig, and a little help from their friends.

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Described by director Kyle Williams as “…a huge amount of fun to make, but mainly exhausting.” Boris – The Musical covers the rise, fall and (unfortunate) rise again of our current Foreign Secretary. Part biography, part farce, part songtastic satire, “Boris” is the 5* musical for people who don’t like musicals. There will be punk, pop, gospel and even a sexy tango called Me and My Johnson along with additional (soon to be smash hits) I’m talking about Brexit! and Posh Lads plus many more. In these troubling times, we all need something to laugh about and who better to laugh at than Britain’s finest politiclown.

Boris will be played by David Burchhardt, of the role David says “There’s a real skill in trying to capture BoJo’s “off the cuff” approach to public speaking. Every night I have to use all my training to get that spontaneous feel. Any rumours that I haven’t learnt my lines are completely untrue, no matter what the writer tells you.”

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The show will be returning to Manchester in July for three dates at the city’s Z-arts venue on 27th, 28th,& 29th July before heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

In the words of Blowfish Theatre, “Come along and laugh your socks off for an hour at the state of the world…before returning to your grim, unavoidable reality”.

Tickets available now via the following link: http://www.thedancehouse.co.uk/events/2017/115-boris-the-musical

 

Bat Out of Hell the Musical- After Party interviews and ticket news!

Andrew Polec (Strat) & Christina Bennington (Raven) at First Night of Bat Out of Hell Manchester Opera House credit Phil Tragen

Andrew Polec (Strat) and Christina Bennington (Raven). Photo:Phil Tragen

Opening Night were privileged to have access all areas at the Bat Out of Hell the Musical’s aftershow party at Revolution Bar De Cuba last week.

After one helluva performance the cast and crew of the spectacular show were ready for some serious rockin’ to celebrate the amazing reception they received from the Manchester crowd.

We got to catch up with some of the stars of the show along with one of the producers and director. It was clear all were in great spirits and deservedly so,  producer David Sonenberg explained just how much the show meant to him and the audiences going to see it.

“To go to a musical that has these great songs and get chills, again it is a tribute to Steinman, his lyrics are just epic. I see people who these songs are important to-at our first preview we had people from Seattle, Japan, Australia, Germany Belgium and tonight some of the same people came back again and they have tickets for the London Coliseum in June, so there’s a passion for this stuff.

For me it was very rewarding, like a long childbirth.”

The world’s first look at Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell the Musical has been greeted by 5-star reviews across the board (check out ours on an earlier post) – now, due to overwhelming public demand the producers have extended its season at the Manchester Opera House by three weeks, until 29 April.

One of the cast who will be celebrating their extra time in Manchester is local lad Andrew Patrick-Walker. Originally one of the Swing team Andrew actually got to step into a role he was understudying on Gala Premiere night. When the original performer of  Blake fell ill earlier in the day he had just a few hours to prepare.

Andrew Patrick-Walker told us how it was a special moment to get an opportunity like that in his home town:

“It feels amazing, I had my Mam and Dad here tonight and I can’t really describe it. We all got a bottle of Moet from Meatloaf and Jim Steinman sent us all cards and he’s been watching rehearsals all the time, he’s really happy with it and the producers are making sure his visions going the right way.”

Meatloaf hasn’t just been generous with champagne, he’s given leading man Andrew Polec (Strat) a few wise words of advice along the way.

Andrew revealed to us:

“He (Meatloaf) said these songs take commitment and as long as you work hard on them and fully commit to them then you  can make them your own  and once you make them your own you can give them as a gift to the audience.

What’s wonderful about the Mancunian audience is not only did they get the first concert of Meatloaf way back when but they just give it right back every night.”

Director Jay Sheib & Designer Jon Bausor at First Night of Bat Out of Hell Manchester Opera House credit Phil Trage

Director Jay Scheib and Deigner Jon Bausor. Photo: Phil Tragen

Relative newcomer Andrew Polec wows the audiences in his role of Strat – and we thought it was very refreshing to see a production that doesn’t rely on ‘star’ names to carry the show but gives fresh talent a chance to shine. Director Jay Scheib told us:

“You know we decided not pursue ‘stars’ we  decided to audition as many people as possible and come up with an ensemble that were superskilled people no matter where they were and no matter what their experience so for many of them this is their first show. And there are some who are much more seasoned like Rob Fowler (Falco) and Sharon Sexton (Sloane).”

Rob Folwer (Falco) & Sharon Sexton (Sloane) at First Night of Bat Out of Hell Manchester Opera House credit Phil Tragen

Rob Fowler (Falco) and Sharon Sexton (Sloane). Photo: Phil Tragen

All of the cast should be commended for their fantastic performances, they are clearly out there 8 shows a week giving it their all. As Andrew Polec explains:

“It takes a lot of hard work and commitment-we’re sweating up there and it seems like the Mancunians are sweating with us and enjoying the whole party and together we create a whole different creature.

I feel like the first time we did this show for a preview audience we had no idea what we were going to expect- I said the first line ‘I remember everything’ and the audience went uproariously into applause and cheer.

We’ll see what London thinks, it’s gonna be an adventure!”

I think we can safely say it will be a smash in the West End and, if you haven’t got your tickets to see it in Manchester yet, the 3 week extension is a lifesaver. Extra performances are on sale now. Box Office: 0844 871 3018 (subject to booking/transaction fees)

http://www.BatOutOfHellMusical.com

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Opening Night’s Nikki and Michelle rock out at the BOOH after show party!