Tuesday, January 25

North West

The Secret Circus – Unity Theatre
North West

The Secret Circus – Unity Theatre

Showcasing local talent and alternative acts, the Secret Circus provides a variety show based on fun. Offering opportunity to local acts, it aims to share originality and diversity in entertainment. With the line-up and acts changing, no two performances are the same, so it is roulette on the experience you’ll get on the night. Compered by The Queen of Heartbreak, Beija Flo and Naffrodite, the audience encountered a selection of the entertainment Liverpool has to offer. Eleven performers took to the stage, many in costume and some appearing to suffer the impact of nerves. First up was Trev Fleming, who gave a reading of three poems. The final one, Christmas Dinner, touched the audience and had a nostalgic poignancy within it. This was followed by some interpretative dance from Th...
Cinderella – Regent Theatre
North West

Cinderella – Regent Theatre

The theatre is alive with the buzz of hundreds of people gathering together for a tradition that sadly had to be broken last year. The atmosphere in the auditorium was in a word electric. The Regent Theatre always go above and beyond with Panto, this one is no exception. For their 14th year together we have Jonathan Wilkes and Christian Patterson as Buttons and Baroness Heifer Hardup respectively. These two together is a match made in heaven. There is a reason they keep coming back, the people of Stoke adore them both. They’re regional treasures at this point frankly. We have a few more returning actors in Kai Owen, a massively watchable Dandini who gives off an air of Dad jokes coming to life in the best possible way. Naomi Slights as Cinderella was a perfect principal girl, she was k...
Peter Pan – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse
North West

Peter Pan – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse pantomime is more than an annual festive tradition. It’s a treasured part of the local community. After a year away, thanks to one thing and another, it’s so gratifying to see packed houses of families once again enjoying an ambitious and joyful show. There are very few surprises here. The Darling children are growing up fast, while their distant father is increasingly frustrated with the ‘poppycock’ fairy tales filling their heads. It’s to be Wendy’s last night in the nursery. What Mr and Mrs Darling don’t know of course (the grown-ups always forget) is that the magic is real. Peter Pan’s shadow is hiding in the toy box and our hero wants it back. So begins an awfully big adventure to Neverland and back. Writer Tom Whalley has penned a largely fa...
The Book of Mormon – Palace Theatre
North West

The Book of Mormon – Palace Theatre

The Book of Mormon has been making global headlines since it hit the Broadway stage in New York in January 2011. The musical is the creation of Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone and it’s a story that takes you through the journey of two young American Mormon missionaries who are sent from the comfort of Salt Lake City to Uganda to spread the word and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The lead characters are Elder Kevin Price (Robert Colvin) who is looking forward to his two-year mission whilst praying he will be posted to Orlando a magical place where he once visited as a child and dreams, he will return, whilst his partner Elder Arnold Cunningham (Connor Peirson) a nerdy overweight compulsive liar and fantasist missionary is solely looking for a b...
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe – The Lowry
North West

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe – The Lowry

There can’t be many people who don’t know the story of the four Pevensie children and their adventures in Narnia, overcoming evil while learning about sacrifice and redemption. Edmund’s rescue from the thrall of the White Witch, Mr Tumnus’s bravery and Aslan’s triumphant return are some of the many key moments from the book that make it onto the stage in this vibrant adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s classic story. Condensing a whole book into 105 minutes is not an easy task, but director Michael Fentiman and his creative team met the challenge head on. The production succeeds particularly in its incredible design, and not only visually. Set (Tom Paris), lighting (Jack Knowles) and music (Benji Bower, Barnaby Race) are beautifully layered so that the audience can clearly understand exactly wh...
Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World – Liverpool Playhouse
North West

Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World – Liverpool Playhouse

I absolutely loved this show! Fantastically Great Women, a musical based on the picture book by Kate Pankhurst, aims to inspire children with stories about women who have claimed their place in history in a whole range of different fields. The concept is simple but effective. Jade (last night played by the outstanding Eva-Marie Saffrey), a 10-year-old girl on a school trip to the museum, is tired of restrictions and of never being listened to, and, we later find, is having difficulty coming to terms with her parents’ imminent divorce. Hence, she has decided to hide away in an off-limits section of the museum, the soon to be opened ‘Gallery of Greatness’. Picking up a toy plane, she wishes she could have an adventure – which is the cue for Amelia Earhart to make an appearance, quickl...
Oliver Twist – Storyhouse Chester
North West

Oliver Twist – Storyhouse Chester

The Christmas season is back and with it brings the next instalment in the ever-popular Storyhouse Originals, Oliver Twist. Adapted by Alex Clifton, Storyhouse have worked their magic once again to bring this classic story to Chester with the added extra something special that Storyhouse always manage to inject. With the auditorium set out in the thrust configuration, the intimate setting it perfect to transport us to the streets of London, with a huge house at the back of the stage as the focal point. The use of the space is creative and transitions from scene to scene with such ease that you go from a London Street to Fagin’s Lair to Mr Brownlow’s House in a blink of an eye. With pieces opening out in to shop fronts, to secret ‘entrances’ for Fagin, including tiny details like a life...
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – Royal Exchange
North West

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – Royal Exchange

At Christmas the Royal Exchange usually stages a classic musical to bring us some festive cheer with Sweet Charity, Guys and Dolls and Gypsy being recent successful offerings. It is therefore something of a radical departure this year to find the new team of Artistic Directors (Bryony Shanahan and Roy Weise), plumping for a play based around Scottish folk ballads to entice theatregoers away from pantomime, hearth and home. As I made my way to my favourite theatre, braving monsoon conditions, drunken office parties and the questionable attractions of the Manchester markets, I was intrigued by this quirky choice. I left three hours later, exhilarated, charmed and slightly confused by this uneven but undeniably captivating piece of theatre. We are presented with the eponymous Prudencia Ha...
Tom’s Midnight Garden – Theatre by the Lake
North West

Tom’s Midnight Garden – Theatre by the Lake

Nothing heralds the start of Christmas like the family production at Theatre by the Lake - and this year they added some festive sparkle to the children's classic Tom's Midnight Garden, writes Karen Morley-Chesworth. Not a traditional Christmas story, but one loved by all ages, making this the ideal family visit to the theatre. Director Liz Stevenson has brought some real drama to this tale, where time past and present come together on the stroke of 13 from the grandfather clock in the hall. The characters from across time create an eerie image in a beautifully choreographed scene at the opening of the production. The minimalist set crates the moves through time and into the midnight garden with flying flowers and a greenhouse. However, it is the snowfall in the second part of th...
Eric and Ern – The Lowry
North West

Eric and Ern – The Lowry

Anytime there is a poll on the public’s favourite comedy act, or a look back at the TV of yesteryear, one double act will feature, without fail – Morecambe and Wise. Icons of their era, they’ve left a legacy of classic comedy that is adored to this day. So, whilst modern-day comedians may attempt to push boundaries with their material, it’s a brave soul that attempts to re-visit the most-loved sketches of these titans of British comedy. Ian Ashpitel (as Ernie) and Jonty Stephens (as Eric) are those souls, having developed tonight’s variety show from their stage play of the duo’s enduring partnership. But it is quickly obvious that even the most die-hard fans will be breathing a big sigh of relief that the material is in very safe, and very funny hands. Soaking the audience with a...