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Mar 24th

Fiddler on the Roof - On Tour

By Paul Tyree

Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof – Lyceum Theatre Sheffield, then on Tour.

Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of Tevye a Jewish milkman in a small town in Russia and the difficulties he faces regarding his daughter’s marriages. Premiering in 1964 it became what was then Broadways longest running show and of course went on to spawn the hugely popular film of the same name.

Paul Michael Glaser, who also starred in the film, now brings the role of Tevye to life, a man hugely put upon both by life, God, circumstances and probably most of all, his daughters.

Having never seen this on stage before , it has to be said that this production is a real treat and should be sought out on its future travels around the country.

Many of the songs are instantly recognisable and well sung  throughout, but it is in the performances that this production really comes to life.

Paul Michael Glaser holds the audience magnificently throughout this show. His performance is both funny and yet hugely touching. You really feel the struggle of a man at conflict with his faith in the face of changing times. He so desperately wants to see his daughters happy and well but all their choices of husband manage to challenge Tevye in one way or another.

The rest of the cast are also magnificent and they all play their own instruments throughout the performance creating the music of the piece. This is challenging for any performer, the fact that nearly all of them were playing instruments whilst also in many instances singing and dancing really does go to prove just how wonderfully multi-talented this cast is.

At a running time of 3 hours and a 7.45pm start time it does however beg the question why they didn’t begin the show earlier. Had they done that I for one would have happily brought my daughter to this wonderful show but, certainly on a school night the finish time was simply too late. That’s a shame because this show is easily entertaining enough to introduce a younger audience to it.

That, however, is a minor quibble. The fact that it doesn’t feel like a long show, should give you an indication of just how good and entertaining this piece of theatre truly is.

 Tour Dates

25 – 29 Mar DARTFORD Orchard Theatre 01322 220000

1 – 5 Apr LONDON New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7646

7 – 12 Apr  TRURO Hall for Cornwall 01872 262466

15 – 19 Apr SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion 01702 351135

22 – 26 Apr NORTHAMPTON Royal & Derngate 01604 624811

6 – 10 May EASTBOURNE Congress Theatre 01323 412000

Mar 19th

Never Try This at Home - Sheffield Crucible Studio

By Paul Tyree

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Never Try This At Home is one of those rare theatrical events in that it manages to make you laugh but at the same time leaves you completely unsatisfied as a piece of theatre.

Firstly the story or plot, of which there is very little, imagines what might have happened to an imaginary Saturday morning kids show named Sushi,( and for Sushi read Tiswas ).

After one of the cast has an on air breakdown we fast forward to the present where a tv show is trying to reunite the cast in order to discover  what happened in the fateful last broadcast.

The cast it has to be said all perform very well, although at times appear to be enjoying themselves more than the audience.

The company also employ the services of a local school band who play a couple of 3 minute instrumentals which seem to go on forever, are completely irrelevant in terms of the plot, therefore boring the backsides off the audience.

This has all the hallmarks of a newly devised piece of theatre. It feels 20 minutes too long and could really do with the help of a script editor.

Coupled with this is the fact that the plot doesn't really go anywhere or answer the questions' that are set up.

With all that being said it is consistently funny throughout with several marvellous set pieces. It does however all feel a little pointless and an exercise in giving several decent performers something to do.

Running until Sat 22nd March

Wed 19 Mar 7:45pm   £15.50* Book Tickets
Thu 20 Mar 7:45pm   £15.50* Book Tickets
Fri 21 Mar 7:45pm   £18.50* Book Tickets
Sat 22 Mar 2:30pm   £15.50* Book Tickets
Sat 22 Mar 7:45pm   £18.50*


Mar 5th

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

By GRAHAM CLARK
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Not being a lover of ballet this production was a good introduction to the world of dance.  The publicity leaflets bill the show as "a global phonomenon" and after seeing the spectacular production I can see why.
 
Tchaikovsky's dramatic music fits in well with the story. The show though seems to be in two parts, the first half has plenty of humour although there are still a few darks moments.  Liam Mower played a tortured soul as the Prince, whilst Chris Trenfield as the Swan was serene.

Anjali Mehra plays a humourous part as the Prince's girlfriend - her facial expressions were a joy and you knew exactly what she meant! There is even a nod to modern technology as her mobile phone starts to ring whilst watching a ballet in the Royal Box.

There is a visit to a seedy club where disco dancing meets ballet with some very swift moves. Strictly Coming Dancing was never as good as this!

It is in the second half of the show where things get deeper and darker and the swans appear  and things become grander at the Royal Ball with the dark side of the Prince and his nightmares coming to life.

Swan Lake

The show was funny, engaging and it held my interest throughout. For anyone who  needs a easy introduction to the world of ballet this is the show to see. Brilliant.


Runs until Saturday 8th March 2014
www.bradford-theatres.co.uk









 
Feb 12th

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

By Paul Tyree

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Adapted from the screen for the stage Seven Brides tells the story of Adam Pontipee first marrying a frontiers gal and then trying to find
wives for his six brothers. His wife, however must first try to knock off the rough edges from the boys to turn them into more marriagable material.
With women on the frontier being in short supply, however, the brothers end up kidnapping their intended conquests and taking them back to
their cabin which gets cut off from the town by an avalanche. This traps the girls with the boys for a few months until the pass opens up in the
spring. With the girls having to live so close to the boys, the time and close proximity spent together ends up having the desired effect even
though kidnapping is hardly most people's idea of an ideal courtship.

With Alex Hammond having to stand in for Sam Attwater as the male lead, this production was perhaps never going to truly hit the heights of the
finest of musical theatre. However what we did have was a cast all giving fine performances and quite a number of laughs along the way.
My daughter truly enjoyed it, and whilst I wasn't quite as impressed, this was still a solid and enjoyable night in the theatre.

Alex Hammond gives a likeable enough performance, although it was by no means the star turn that he might have hoped for. It was therefore left
to Helena Blackman of 'How do you Solve a Problems like Maria' fame to give us the real quality on the night. It has to be said that her voice was
absolutely flawless and helped raise this production above what it might have been.

There were also several excellent performances from the Brides and the Brothers. Without a doubt the most engaging of the brothers was the crazy and knockabout Frank played by Sam Stones. He seemed to be most aware that a musical theatre performance is not just about the dancing and singing but also about the acting of the part. He, undoubtedly, was able therefore to give a more complete performance, one would say, than most of his brothers
in the piece.

Standout performance amongt the brides has to go to the engaging performance given by Georgina Parkinson as Alice. Whilst everyone performed well amongst the girls, hers, again seemed of a slightly higher level in turns of intensity and vibrancy for the audience.

All in all, this may not go down as the best night I've ever spent at the Lyceum theatre, the show has much to go for it and is certainly, by far,
from the worst. The script and direction are excellent. The performances in most cases are bright and energetic and ultimately very professional
indeed. It's certainly worth going to see if you have the chance. Funny, bright and well performed.

Wed 12 Feb 7:45pm   £24.00 - £32.00* Book Tickets
Thu 13 Feb 2:00pm   £19.00 - £27.00* Book Tickets
Thu 13 Feb 7:45pm Audio Described, Signed £24.00 - £32.00* Book Tickets
Fri 14 Feb 7:45pm   £26.00 - £34.00* Book Tickets
Sat 15 Feb 2:00pm Captioned £24.00 - £32.00* Book Tickets
Sat 15 Feb 7:45pm   £26.00 - £34.00* Book Tickets
Jan 15th

Dreamboats and Petticoats

By Paul Tyree

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Dreamboats and Petticoats

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Featuring over 40 songs from the 50’s this musical from the pen of Marks and Gran (famous for Birds of a Feather amongst others) is chock full of toe tapping and instantly recognisable music. Telling the story of young Bobby and his group of friends trying to write a song for a local talent contest and their subsequent romantic adventures, this gives the perfect outlet through which to use so many of the 50’s biggest hits.

So much about this musical is fantastic. The fact that all the music is played live and sung well by pretty much all of the cast is to be highly commended. The writing is often funny and the performances generally fantastic.

Greg Fossard as Bobby is sometimes not quite loud enough or projects enough through some of the songs making him sometimes difficult to hear, but this is probably the only failure of an otherwise wonderful show. Matthew Colthart as Norman sings wonderfully and gets most of the laughs but perhaps even more impressive in an unforgiving role is Will Finlason as Ray the main female characters brother. He really impresses both with the best male voice on show here and his acting, mannerisms and look perfectly suit the role he is playing.

Best of all, however, is Hannah Boyce as Laura, the young girl who loves Bobby from afar before blossoming into the heroine and centre of the story. She sings beautifully thoughout and her performance overall is probably the best of the night.

A special mention must also go to Chloe Edwards-Wood who played the saxophone fantastically throughout whilst also dancing, singing and acting. She was note perfect in a thankless role but her efforts did not go unnoticed.

My daughter, who is 10 years of age, and didn’t know any of the songs also had a marvellous time. She said the music was great, which just goes to show how well the songs have been chosen in order to help to tell the story. The Lyceum was full last night, it has to be said, by an audience that was predominantly well over 60 years of age, but this musical can and should be enjoyed by all ages.

A wonderful family musical. Playing until Saturday!

Wed 15 Jan 7:45pm   £21.00 - £29.00* Book Tickets
Thu 16 Jan 2:00pm   £20.00 - £28.00* Book Tickets
Thu 16 Jan 7:45pm   £21.00 - £29.00* Book Tickets
Fri 17 Jan 7:45pm Audio Described, Signed £24.00 - £32.00* Book Tickets
Sat 18 Jan 3:00pm   £21.00 - £29.00* Book Tickets
Sat 18 Jan 7:45pm   £24.00 - £32.00* Book Tickets
Jan 7th

The Nutcracker - Moscow City Ballet - Lyceum Theatre

By Paul Tyree

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The Nutcracker

By Moscow City Ballet


Lyceum Theatre - Sheffield



What oh what to say?

Undoubtedly there must have been people within the audience that enjoyed this, (although I can't think why) as they were clapping at the end, but I have to say that if ballet as an art form ever dies then it will be precisely this sort of production that finishes it off.

Poorly staged - three backdrops a bare stage but no set of any kind.

Poor costumes - the Santa and the Wizard costumes being the real lows of the evening. (Dumbledore lives, but Santa looks to be on his last legs!)

Horrible choreography - twirling and pointing but no connection to the story whatsoever. In fact if you don’t read the synopsis in the programme (assuming you’re wealthy enough to buy one that is) then you will probably be completely lost in the first five minutes.

Sloppy and half hearted dancing - one poor tall calumphing redheaded principle dancer could hardly get off the ground and at one point nearly fell over, causing a sharp intake of breath from the audience. Even the main characters were falling out of lifts and struggling to maintain holds and positions. 

Acting ability – none! Not one of the ballerinas whether male or female managed to express a real emotion throughout the entirety of the production. Your average 5 year old would have managed to convince more than this.

All in all this was without a doubt the worst ballet that I have ever seen and what made it so much worse was that the company all looked so bloody pleased with themselves, even though this was only ever third rate at best.

The first ten minutes of this ballet are probably an object lesson in not how to tell a story.

The must have been 25-30 people all dancing around interminably in crowd scenes, mugging and pulling various faces at each other without anything actually happening. In fact this theme of ‘just dancing around without a purpose’ carried on throughout the evening.

I am aware that this is probably what most people would define as a traditional ballet, but at various points there were up to 18 female ballerinas on stage with absolutely nothing to do. No purpose, no impact on the plot or story.

This style of ballet and indeed of choreography probably amazed back in the 1800’s but if ever any company needed to be brought into the 21st century then it is without a doubt Moscow City Ballet.

This was simply uninvolving and most damning of all utterly pointless. No one would have been uplifted or amazed. No hearts would have sung, no tears shed as the story was so vague and utterly without meaning or depth as to render the telling of it more of a history lesson than a reason to enter a theatre.

At best you could say the plot involves an old man trying to seduce a young girl with gifts and getting a bit upset that she still prefers to play with toys instead of him. (Admittedly, it’s not the most forgiving of interpretations, but if you didn’t know the story and simply watched this ballet then that is probably the interpretation you would have come away with).

Most galling was how the principle dancers expected applause whether their efforts deserved it or not. They came time and again to the front of the stage their self satisfied faces gleaming with arrogance and self congratulation that we had been lucky enough to witness their jumps or pirouettes. They even went so far as to have the curtain lifted for a second bow at the half, which caused me to stop and laugh at their sheer cheek as I was hotfooting it to the bar.

What oh what to say indeed!?

AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!

(This too is their 25th Anniversary – and on this evidence I would heartily advise that they don’t go for 26. Maybe time to hang up those tutus, have a vodka and remember the good times eh!)

On the up side this bunch of chancers must be the best advertisement for Northern Ballet yet!

Northern Ballet will be performing Cleopatra at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from Tue 25th – Sat 29th March. I haven’t seen it yet but on tonight’s evidence I can already highly recommend it. Northern Ballet – for when you want your ballet to touch your heart and make you glad you saw it!! Northern Ballet – for when you still expect a ballet to tell a story!! Northern Ballet – for when you expect great staging and costumes!! Northern Ballet – for when you want great choreography and ballerinas that can dance!! Northern Ballet – ballet for people who exist in the 21st century. Northern Ballet – (did I mention they’re on at the Lyceum in March) – Book now for Northern Ballet!!  Not sure I can make it any plainer than that.

 

 

Dec 19th

Oliver - Sheffield Crucible Theatre

By Paul Tyree

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Oliver! 

Monday 16th December 2013 - Crucible Theatre,

Reviewed by Melanie Creaser


Sheffield Theatres under the direction of Daniel Evans invite us to experience their version of Oliver!  Lionel Bart’s popular adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is playing to packed houses and no wonder; this energetic show is a predominantly delightful experience. 

 

Expectations are high when a novel and its subsequent film and stage adaptations are so well known and loved.  Dickens was a young man when he penned this second novel, and would surely have been impressed by the youthful vivacity on display in this latest musical adaptation of his work.  

 

The first show-stopper of the night, Food Glorious Food, was suitably rousing and much appreciated by the audience.  The children were certainly in good voice as indeed they were throughout.  Oliver himself, played by Jack Skilbeck-Dunn, a local schoolboy should be proud of his performance which suffered only a couple of minor blips.  His portrayal was utterly adorably but avoided being syrupy sweet, thankfully.

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The crowd scenes with musical numbers were particularly impressive, almost to the extent of creating a film-like quality.  It felt like there were hundreds rather than dozens of players on the stage.  This feeling was helped along by excellent choreography, well executed by the cast such as in the number Consider Yourself, performed towards the end of the first act.  It was marvellously well performed and elicited cheers from the audience, who seemed fully absorbed in the proceedings.  Another highlight from the first act was the comically menacing portrayal of the undertaker, Mr Sowerberry by Chris Vincent whose performance was hindered only by not being longer.

 

The second act opened spectacularly with Oom-Pah-Pah performed by Hayley Gallivan giving us her excellent portrayal of Nancy with much of the rest of the cast supporting beautifully in the energetic pub scene.  As with many of the routines it made all the more visually appealing by the strong colours used in some of the costumes and props. 

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The sets were effective, working well in helping to draw the viewer in to the proceedings.  Fagin’s abode was nicely created with just enough detail for us to be able to fill in the gaps from our own imagination.  Fagin himself played by Tom Edden probably achieved the greatest applause from the audience and did all the right things but nevertheless, for this audience member, failed to completely steal the show as some would say the character should.  However, his final number, Reviewing the Situation, was superb and saw him step up a gear.

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The only real disappointment in this production was the lead up to the ending which seemed a little rushed.  Bill Sykes’ demise was rather hurried, his dog Bullseye only seen for seconds and the dog’s vital role in the downfall of Sykes overlooked.  Sykes’ capture and comeuppance felt rather glossed over, even taken for granted in the end.  That said, it is difficult to capture the role of Bullseye on the stage but still, it’s a shame they didn’t.

 

All in all this is most definitely a show to see.  Get in quick as dates are selling out fast.  This one is a cracking production by Sheffield Theatres have achieved a real crowd-pleaser.

 

Melanie Creaser.

http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/

Oliver! runs until 25 January 2014 

Dec 19th

Jack and the Beanstalk - Lyceum Theatre Sheffield

By Paul Tyree

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Jack and the Beanstalk

Review by Halina Rhodes

Damien Williams once again rides into Sheffield in another all singing and dancing extravaganza chock full of wonderfully silly gags , music and brilliant sets and costumes.

This is the perfect family panto to get you in the Christmas spirit on the long wintery nights yet to come.

Luckily my 10yr old daughter came along and asked if she could review the show from her point of view - so here goes.

"This was like the best panto I've ever seen because a lot of it was new. They still did some of the old stuff but that was quite short, but the comedy was new and really funny. I really liked the dame and at one bit he came on a wrecking ball like Miley Cyrus. That was brilliant. It was really funny though through all of it. They were all really good."

As she says this panto feels really fresh as though they knew that they had to move on from the past. Many of the staples make a brief appearance but are mainly there for a few minutes as the sets are moved.

The humour feels current and up to date and whilst Damian Williams is undoubtedly the star, this is a real team effort. Everyone performs wonderfully, even H from Steps, which was nice to see.

This then is wonderful, not just for children (as there were surprisingly few there on the night we saw it) but obviously for adults as well with just the right amount of innuendo that might sail over the children's heads but keep the oldies amused.

A marvellous show and a real treat for everyone at Christmas. 

Jack and the Beanstalk

Fri 6 December 2013 – Sun 5 January 2014

Box Office: CLICK HERE

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Dec 18th

Aladdin - Bradford Alhambra - Tuesday 18 December 2013

By GRAHAM CLARK
The Bradford pantomime at the Alhambra theatre has always set the benchmark for other pantomimes in the country. This years production of Aladdin is a lavish affair with excellent special effects such as a giant Cobra, a huge Genie of the lamp, a flying carpet and a larger than life Gorilla!

Bradford Alhambra, AladdinAppearing in his 15th panto at the Alhambra, Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce is an old pro at this type of thing, he held the audience in the palm of his hand from start to finish playing Aladdin.

Chico plays the Slave of the Ring and he appears to have made the transition from X factor hopeful to pantomime star with ease. Bare chested throughout the show, he gave the mums and grandmums in the audience a treat with his manly figure.

Jeffrey Harmer playes an excellent baddie as Abanazar: "I thought you were Simon Cowell", Chico says to Abanazar on their first meeting. Adam Stafford as Widow Twankey has some choice lines too that are not just for the younger members of the audience: "I'm having trouble with my Hotpoint" he shares as we enter Twankey's laundry.

Aladdin, Alhambra Bradford
Photo courtesy of Bradford Theatres

Jenny Gayner as Princess Jasmine is delightful whilst the dancers in the show never miss a beat. The Acrobats in the show - The Acromaniacs - provide more splapstick but their timing is just as tight as Billy Pearce and his jokes.

Of course there is some audience participation with plastic bananas being handed out into the audience who are then invited to throw them at the giant Gorilla!

Even One Direction's Number 1 hit, Live While We're Young gets sung in the show along with last year's LMFAO hit, Party Rocking.

Like all good pantomimes it ends with a happy ending with Aladdin marrying Princes Jasmine. "Have you enjoyed it?" asks Pearce as the audience replies enthusiastically. "If you want some more, come back tomorrow then when we do it all again" he jokes.

Aladdin, Alhambra Bradford
Photo courtesy of Bradford Theatres

The Alhambra show has done it again with a show for the young and young at heart. It might have been a damp winter's night outside but there is still a beacon of light and energy at the Alhambra with this superb production
Nov 21st

Scrooge - Grand Theatre Leeds

By GRAHAM CLARK

This production of Scrooge starring Tommy Steele has had a successful run at the London Palladium and now it is on a national tour.

Scrooge UK Tour

If you like a dramatic musical with great costumes then this is a show for you. Of course with it being in the run up to Christmas it does seem more topical. The Charles Dickens story is well known and Tommy Steele does add a bit of showbiz glamour to the production: he still has bags of youthful energy, he seldom left the stage with him being in nearly every scene.

With the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to remind Scrooge about the low depths his life had sunk to and how he could change that, it brought a tear to the eye at times. There is a bit of magic in the show too with the ghosts appearing out of nowhere on stage. The ghost of Christmas present is played superbly by James Head who brings a bit of Brian Blessed to the character - a commanding figure full of authority.

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What a contrast there is in the show with Scrooge turning from a miserable old skinflint at the start of the show to a generous man who helps to pay for Tiny Tim to find  a doctor to cure his  poorly leg and treating the rest of Bob Cratchit's family to the best Christmas dinner they have ever had.

Receiving a standing ovation from the sold out crowd, this is a story that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Runs until Saturday 7 December 2013.

http://www.leedsgrandtheatre.com