Friday, June 18

North West

Opera North: A Night at the Opera – The Lowry
North West

Opera North: A Night at the Opera – The Lowry

The last performance Opera North gave before lockdown in March 2020 was at The Lowry so it seems somehow appropriate that they should come out of their enforced hibernation to perform an evening of popular opera classics at the same venue. Also, this was the first time I have seen anything live since then and I have to say it was absolutely wonderful to see performers in the flesh, to feel their emotions and admire their talent. Online performances have got us through this terrible time but there is nothing like the real thing. The cavernous auditorium of the Lyric theatre was, because of Covid restrictions, mostly empty. Even though the audience was small it was extremely appreciative of a wonderful night’s entertainment. Paul Daniel, the conductor, was a charming and witty tour...
Opera North: Fidelio – The Lowry
North West

Opera North: Fidelio – The Lowry

The story of Fidelio is a simple one. Leonore (Rachel Nicholls) under the guise of a man (Fidelio) infiltrates a Spanish prison in order to free her husband Florestan (Toby Spence), who is a political prisoner.  Meanwhile Don Pizarro (Robert Hayward), the governor of the prison and very man responsible for the wrongful imprisonment of Florestan intends to kill him before Don Fernando (Matthew Stiff) can arrive and uncover the cruelty taking place within the prison walls. The orchestra, conducted by Paul Daniel, was magnificent. Being socially distanced and taking up most of the stage, it was a different setup, and one which the musicians will have grown accustomed too, but the sound was rich, textured and balanced, and I would have been quite content to listen to it all night. ...
The Play Scratch Night – Online
North West

The Play Scratch Night – Online

I think it is fair to say the arts have been hit hard during the COVID19 pandemic with the closure of theatres, music venues and everything in between but what is quite beautiful, is that the amazingly passionate people of the art world have not stopped writing or creating new drama for the world to see. Liverpool has been lucky enough to still have its own arts festival running at this time. The LightNight festival has given hope to the people of Liverpool over the last while by showcasing everything from large-scale light projections and live music to workshops on spoken word, art, crafts and theatre. LightNight has also seen a string of events such as street performance, walking tours, dancing and late-opening exhibitions taking place right across the city centre. LightNight is p...
Hushabye Mountain – Hope Mill Theatre
North West

Hushabye Mountain – Hope Mill Theatre

This was a theatre trip of many firsts for me, not only had I never heard of Hushabye Mountain (except from watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and singing it myself); this was my first Hope Mill performance.  And all I can say is ‘wow’.  I won’t lie, I had read the synopsis and thought that the subject matter might be a little depressing but what these six amazing artists achieve, is something wonderful. Yes, you read that right – just a cast of 6 people who not only acted but seamlessly changed ‘scenery’ whilst already into the next scene and working in costume changes into that scene. I put scenery into inverted commas as there wasn’t any to speak of really, no elaborate drops (except for the Church and the star cloth – and who doesn’t love a star cloth) no big flats to move, ju...
The Last Five Years – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse
North West

The Last Five Years – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

The award winning The Last Five Years has got to be one of my favourite musicals. With a stunning musical score by Jason Robert Brown, the one act musical requires actors with a broad range both vocally and emotionally to portray the joy, hardship and heartbreak Cathy and Jamie endure throughout. With a tiny cast of just two actors, and directed by new Garrick Artistic Director Joseph Meighan, The Last Five Years is an intimate look at the relationship between two New Yorkers: a writer and an actress The musical follows their love story in a fresh, modern way, as its unconventional structure tells Cathy’s story in reverse and Jamie’s chronologically. You may have seen Hollywood star Anna Kendrick and Broadway sensation Jeremy Jordan in the film adaptation released in 2014, so Ella- ...
Judy & Liza – Floral Pavillion
North West

Judy & Liza – Floral Pavillion

What an absolute joy and honour it was to be able to be at the first show at the Floral Pavilion, whose auditorium has been closed to patrons since March last year. The staff and regulations that have been put in place to allow people to feel safe, have definitely done just that. And what a show to reopen the theatre with! Judy & Liza is a bit like the concert a lot of people would have wanted to see, but never got the chance to. 45 years after they performed together at the London Palladium, this vaudeville-style concert of a show tells us a brief history of Frances ‘Baby’ Gumm and her daughter Liza May Minnelli. It’s been well thought out and put together so well, that at times you forgot you were watching actors playing the roles and not the legends themselves. Helen Sheals as J...
Dangerous Liaisons – The Lowry
North West

Dangerous Liaisons – The Lowry

“Well…at least we know the music” In one of the first performances to be hosted by the Lowry since the latest easing of restrictions, Northern Ballet have bounded onto stage with a revival of Dangerous Liaisons, their stunningly choreographed interpretation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel, set seamlessly to the familiar strings of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia. With little spoken word to guide us on our way, the overheard audience comment above reflects the biggest challenge in this adaptation – keeping up with this complex tale of two 18th century French aristocrats who goad each other into a web of seductions, leaving a trail of broken hearts in their wake. When the Viscomte de Valmont develops genuine feelings for one of his conquests, th...
Sleeping Beauty – M&S Bank Arena
North West

Sleeping Beauty – M&S Bank Arena

Live theatre is back after over. A year of wanting and hoping it was amazing to be in an auditorium waiting for the curtain to rise. Sleeping Beauty at the M&S Bank auditorium until the 6th of June. The show had Gareth Gates (Les Miserable and Pop Idol), Bippo who is the comedy relief in the show, and Emma Grace Arends as Beauty amongst a small chorus. The show is approx. 2 hours long with one interval. Watching the show I felt it was rather flat, it’s opening weekend energy is meant to be high but I just felt underwhelmed. The music over shadowed the microphones so some parts of the vocals were lost. Moving on some lines were muddled up and Gareth Gates entered too early for his scene. Bippo however, rescued it well. It came to a point where it was a live rehearsal not an opening ...
Meet Me at Dawn – Hope Mill Theatre
North West

Meet Me at Dawn – Hope Mill Theatre

“No matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief or does it?” “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” The stunning Hope Mill Theatre opened its doors to a long-awaited theatre audience eager to get back to watching live performing arts. The Covid safety screening was efficient and slick where the front of house staff guided you through from the box office to the bar area where they had tables with sectioned screens and table service to minimise movement. British playwright, screenwriter and director Zinnie Harris’ Meet Me at Dawn was first performed at the Traverse Theatre in Scotland in 2017 at the age of 48 her plays have been translated and performed in many countries and she has directed for a number of theatres, including the Royal Shakespea...
C-O-N-T-A-C-T – Salford Quays
North West

C-O-N-T-A-C-T – Salford Quays

A young woman, Sarah (Chloe Gentles), goes about her day in silence, troubled by erratic thoughts and a pain in her sternum that won’t go away. When she sits on a park bench, lost in thought, a stranger (Cellan Scott) tries to strike up a conversation which she initially spurns. But all is not as it appears, and soon she is propelled on an emotional journey that will change her life forever. The idea behind this production from C-O-N-T-A-C-T theatre is intriguing. Set entirely outside, the audience follows the actors around an outdoor environment, watching their movements whilst listening to voice-over and music provided by a digital app on their smart phones. This is both a refreshing change from more traditional theatre experiences and a timely approach in the context of the pandemic...