Friday, March 1

North West

Domingo Hindoyan’s Bruckner – Liverpool Philharmonic
North West

Domingo Hindoyan’s Bruckner – Liverpool Philharmonic

This week, Liverpool’s famous youthful talent took to a prestigious stage and celebrated great success with a charismatic grey-haired leader.  No, not Carabao Cup-winning Liverpool FC with their academy starlets under Jurgen Klopp, but the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra under former percussionist and ‘the scouser in our team’ Sir Simon Rattle. But on Thursday night it was the seasoned pros of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra who celebrated the music of two composers who showed that talent can materialise at either end of the age spectrum.  On the one hand, the Violin Concerto by prodigious child prodigy-turned-Hollywood-star-composer Erich Korngold, and on the other the monumental Seventh Symphony by Anton Bruckner, who was in his late 50s by the time he beg...
Beautiful The Carole King Musical – Grange Theatre
North West

Beautiful The Carole King Musical – Grange Theatre

This evening, I was lucky enough to visit The Grange Theatre in Hartford where The Zodiac are performing Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, the Northwest amateur premier, directed very well by Valarie Ball. After a wonderful greeting by the company and made to feel very welcome (thank you to Jude and Jessica), we take our seats ready for the show. The stage is set with a grand piano in the centre, with a spotlight on it. As the curtain goes up, we see the huge structure that is used to break the stage up, giving the piece levels and the 10-piece on stage band a home throughout the show. Beautiful follows the story of Carole Joan Klein, who takes on the stage name of Carole King at 16 when she pitches her first song ‘It might as rain well until September’, to meeting her future husban...
The Drifters Girl – Liverpool Empire
North West

The Drifters Girl – Liverpool Empire

The Drifters Girl is the story of the R&B vocal group The Drifters, and the remarkable woman behind their success. The story follows the ever-changing line up of lead singers, backing singers, promoters, writers, and producers, with the one constant being the group’s robust manager, Faye Treadwell. It narrates how so many tried to cash in on The Drifters name, yet there can only ever really be one true ‘The Drifters.’ If, like me, you love going to the theatre to listen to great music, sang by quality singers, supported by a superb live band, with glamourous lighting and costumes, then this show is perfect for you. The singing was great throughout, and the inclusion of all of our favourite Drifters hits such as ‘Save the last dance for me’, ‘Saturday night at the moves’, and ‘Under...
Twelve Angry Men – The Lowry
North West

Twelve Angry Men – The Lowry

The production of "Twelve Angry Men" at The Lowry Theatre in Salford, directed by Christopher Haydon, delivers a captivating and thought-provoking theatrical experience, earning a solid four-star rating. Adapted from Reginald Rose’s classic screenplay, the narrative unfolds in the intense setting of a New York jury room, where twelve jurors must decide the fate of a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering his father. While the overall production impresses with its compelling narrative and masterful direction by Haydon, there were occasional instances of overacting from some cast members. While overacting can be forgiven if emotionally connected to the character, there were moments where believability faltered, and made some of the stronger characters appear like they were crazy. Despit...
Stranger Sings! – Floral Pavilion
North West

Stranger Sings! – Floral Pavilion

Fans of the Netflix sensation Stranger Things will love this tongue in cheek parody of the hit show. Mainly focusing on Season 1 as the source material we get an ensemble cast all of which playing different well-loved characters. It begins with an instantly recognisable set by Justin Williams, consisting of fairy lights and 80's decor in what doubles up as Mike's and Joyce's house. The boys are playing dungeons and dragons and being set in Hawkins, a town where nothing happens, was perfectly normal to cycle back home without supervision. Ahh what a decade. If you've seen the show you will know that Will ends up missing, but is really in the upside realm, a creepy alternative reality. If you haven't watched Stranger Things yet then I would say watch it first, as this is a parody musical...
Pretty Woman – Palace Theatre Manchester
North West

Pretty Woman – Palace Theatre Manchester

The Palace Theatre Manchester opened its doors to ‘Pretty Woman the Musical’ as a part of its UK tour, derived from the book by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton with Music and Lyrics from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The 1990 romantic comedy was a huge success on screen starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and was directed by Garry Marshall which received several awards during its time, so I was intrigued to see how it would transfer onto a musical theatre stage. The storyline is based on a billionaire corporate raider businessman Edward Lewis (Ben Darcy) who finds himself in Hollywood whilst working on his latest deal, when lost in the city he meets Vivian Ward (Paige Fenlon) a street worker, the confident prostitute manages to win his attention with her cheeky charm and her know...
Lettice & Lovage – Little Theatre Birkenhead
North West

Lettice & Lovage – Little Theatre Birkenhead

Director Mike Sanders has Peter Shaffer’s super witty script to work with but whether a mix of first night nerves and learning curves, this production from the Carlton Players doesn’t really take full advantage of its snappy pacing and eye rolling bon mots. Lettice Duffet (Katy Downes), an expert on Elizabethan cuisine and medieval weaponry, is an indefatigable but daffy enthusiast of history and the theatre which she combines in her role as a tour guide at Fustian House, one of the least stately of London’s stately homes. As she theatrically embellishes its historical past, much to a mix of surprise, consternation, and pleasure from visiting tourists (Phyllis Brighouse; Lynda Critchley; Richard Isles; Rebcca Williams; Lucy Ashdown; Sallyanne Nelson; Gareth Crawshaw), she ultimately co...
The Vicar of Dibley – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse
North West

The Vicar of Dibley – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Altrincham Garrick Playhouse’s The Vicar of Dibley transported audiences back to the quirky charm of the beloved TV series, delivering an evening of uproarious laughter and heartwarming moments. Directed by Pete Brassington, the production showcased the talents of a remarkable cast of amateur performers who breathed new life into the iconic characters. Meg Brassington shone as the irrepressible Geraldine Granger, infusing the role with wit, warmth, and a touch of sass. Opposite her, Hugh Everett embodied the pompous yet endearing David Horton, while Dan Ellis captured the bumbling charm of Hugo Horton. Helen Swain charmed as the sweet-natured but somewhat dim-witted Alice Tinker, eliciting plenty of laughs with her comedic timing. Christine Perry brought Letitia Cropley to life ...
The Guildford Poltergeist – Hope Street Theatre
North West

The Guildford Poltergeist – Hope Street Theatre

Where to start with this play? It’s 1965 and a dysfunctional family of Irish descent (confusingly called Starbuck - a Yorkshire name) have moved from Manchester to deepest Surrey. Following the death of their father, bright seventeen-year-old Tristan must leave school to support his violent, alcoholic mother, Kathleen, and his neuro-atypical, school-shirking sister, Joyce. They’re already outsiders but they’re just about fitting in. Until the arrival of a poltergeist, which brings them infamy and attracts the suspicion of the local community. It also brings them into contact with a paranormalist, the priest, the press and the plod. Playwright Tess Humphrey has a lot to say about, in no particular order: Catholicism, generational trauma, otherness, racism, sexism, neurodiversity, PTS...
Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch – The Lowry
North West

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch – The Lowry

Brash, bold and untold, Unfortunate is the story of (arguably) the best Disney villain ever made, Ursula the sea witch. It is the side of the classic 1989 story, The Little Mermaid, as never seen before. The original character was inspired by the triple treat drag queen Divine, so drag culture has been intertwined with the villain from the very start. This musical parody brings the character right back to its roots with an outrageously camp new story. The musical parody dives deep into what really happened all those years ago under the sea. We’re first introduced to a young Ursula Squirt, from a poor family in the depths of the ocean. We see her grow into an intellectual octo-woman and diva. Her relationship with King Triton was not as foretold; they explore their complex relationsh...