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Nov 20th

RENT - In Concert - Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

By Paul Tyree

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Review by Paul Tyree 

A stripped-down stage resembling scaffolding, two staircases and a walkway surround the 5 piece orchestra that deliver a seamless musical accompaniment to the performers delivering this concert performance of Rent.

With seeming minimal staging (although its obvious a great deal of direction has gone into making this seem minimal  - as there's actually a great deal on show here) this then becomes all about the performances.

Set in that world we all remember of prejudice and ravaged by aids this is a musical that asks that most bohemian of questions, what thing of beauty will you leave behind. How well do you know your self and how brave can you be facing that most difficult of things - life!

This is a musical all about love! Love of friends, lovers, parents even but most of all life and the funny and beautiful ways it can make you feel.

The performers are all magnificent. It would be unfair to single people out as they all contribute to an evening where the audience felt like another character in the show. Such was the connection created by the music, the story and the actors that there truly seemed to be a shared experience running throughout the lyceum last night.

Marvellous experience, no doubt coming to a theatre near you soon so treat yourself.

THURSDAY 21ST NOVEMBER

DUBLIN
Bord Gais Energy Theatre

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie 

0818 871 3023

 

FRIDAY 22ND NOVEMBER
TORQUAY

The Princess Theatre
www.atgtickets.com/venues/princess-theatre-torquay/
0844 871 3023

 

SATURDAY 23RD NOVEMBER
BRIGHTON

The Brighton Centre
www.brightoncentre.co.uk
0844 847 1515

 

SUNDAY 24TH NOVEMBER
BRISTOL
Hippodrome Theatre
www.atgtickets.com/venues/bristol-hippodrome/
0844 871 3012

 

WEDNESDAY 27TH NOVEMBER
BRADFORD
ST GEORGES HALL
www.bradford-theatres.co.uk
 01274 432000

 

THURSDAY 28TH NOVEMBER
NEWCASTLE
MILL VOLVO TYNE THEATRE
www.millvolvotynetheatre.co.uk
 0844 871 3018

 

FRIDAY 29TH NOVEMBER
MANCHESTER
PALACE THEATRE
www.atgtickets.com/manchester
0844 871 3018

 

SATURDAY 30TH NOVEMBER
LIVERPOOL
AUDITORIUM LIVERPOOL AT ECHO ARENA
http://www.echoarena.com/
 0844 8000 400

 

Nov 6th

A Christmas Carol - Lyceum Theatre - Sheffield

By Paul Tyree

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'A Christmas Carol' - Review by Paul Tyree

Northern Ballet last night rang in the first chimes of Christmas with their fantastic adaptation of Dickens A Christmas Carol.

As I'm sure we'll all be familiar with the tale I'll dispence with the traditional plot review and go straight on to talk about the production.

Firstly the look and feel of this production is absolutely sumptuous. Lez Brotherston's set and costume designs are nothing short of genius. You are immediately transported back to victorian england and the world of Dickens.

Secondly the score and the orchestra provide us with a magnificent landscape of sound which breathes more than just music into the air but often times serves the story and dancers, almost giving us the impression that the music has become words that we can understand.

David Nixon has choreographed a beautiful ballet which also gives us moments of high entertainment. The dancers compliment each other beautifully and you can't help but admire the choregraphy that tells this complicated story with seaming ease.

Split into three acts by two intervals, the first act seems to be the solid base from which the performance builds beautifully in the second and then takes off into one of the finest ballets I've seen by the third.

Can't recommend this highly enough.

Wed 6 Nov 7:45pm £15.00 - £35.00
Thu 7 Nov 2:00pm £12.00 - £27.00
Thu 7 Nov 7:45pm £15.00 - £35.00
Fri 8 Nov 7:45pm £17.00 - £37.00
Sat 9 Nov 3:00pm £15.00 - £35.00
Sat 9 Nov 7:45pm £17.00 - £37.00

Nov 5th

Love Your Soldiers - Crucible Studio

By Paul Tyree

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'Love Your Soldiers' - Review by Paul Tyree
Directed by Richard Wilson, Written by Robin Hooper.

This new play by Robin Hooper concerns two brothers fighting in Afghanistan examining their relationships both with girlfriends, family and some of the Afghan people.

Richard Wilson has once again directed a piece of theatre with a deft touch and there is much about his direction and staging that should be commended.

Unfortunately it is in the script and some of the acting that this new piece of theatre really falls apart. Whilst the dialogue is mainly fine many of the plot twists are either signposted a mile off or are just plain ludicrous.

The central story conerns Ken, fighting overseas with his brother and missing his girlfriend Gemma. Unbeknownst to him she is also conducting a love affair with his brother, Roly. On one patrol Ken has a bad back (I kid you not) and so his brother takes his place. Unfortunately his brother is then blown up by a roadside bomb, losing both his legs and his manhood. (Some might say he deserved it).

Both brothers conveniently have an Afghanistany friend called Rashid back in Britain who is both a confidant and a moral sounding board for both brothers and Gemma. When Roly comes back to Britain for rehabilitation
Gemma says she wants to be with him and feeling sorry for his loss of manhood that she's carrying his baby.

Later we find out that this is a lie and it's actually Ken's baby. Ken eventually discovers the betrayel before returning to afghanistan and eventually being killed.

Charlotte Beumont is excellent in a thankless part as the girlfriend and Chris Leak as Ken makes a charming enough lead. Jordan Bright who plays Roly is a disabled actor missing both his legs. Whilst you can understand
the desire to cast a disabled actor, unfortunately in this case it does not come off. Mr Bright is not a strong enough actor yet to carry this part through with any sort of conviction.

Best of all is Chris Reilly as Ken's commanding officer. He acts with conviction and brings a real sense of belief and drama to the part. Also excellent is Nabil Elouahabi as Rashid. His character is the moral centre of
the story and portrays the Afghan people well, until he is totally undermined by a plot twist towards the end of the play.

Unfortunately, even though most of the actors do their best and the direction is excellent this is one of the weakest pieces of theatre I've seen at the Crucible for a very long time. Whilst there is much about it that
should be applauded, unfortunately a lot of the writing does seem very naive indeed. One to miss!

Tue 5 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 6 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 7 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 7 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 8 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 9 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 9 Nov 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets
Tue 12 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 13 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 14 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 14 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 15 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 16 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 16 Nov 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets
Tue 19 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 20 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 21 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 21 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 22 Nov 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 23 Nov 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 23 Nov 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets

Oct 31st

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Lyceum Theatre - Sheffield

By Paul Tyree
Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Review by Paul Tyree

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Priscilla Queen of the Desert does that rare thing of actually bettering the thing on which it’s based. Based on the film of the same name this production is chock full of joy and myriads of costume changes.

Noel SullivanTick, an Australian drag queen, is asked to go to Alice Springs to finally meet his son and manages to convince two other drag queens know as Bernadette and Felicia to join him on the epic drive across the country. On the way there they have adventures, encounter some prejudice but ultimately overcome all with the use of daring costumes, great music and a ‘show must go on’ attitude.

The production values on this show are sublime and hidden away behind the set is a fantastic orchestra that are note perfect and manage to recreate all the wonderful songs as though being played by the orginal artist. Noel Sullivan playing Tick, the lead character sings wonderfully and makes an engaging and sympathetic hero or heroine, if you like. Equally good is Richard Grieve as the ageing Bernadette who manages to finally find love out on the great highway.

All of the performers should be congratulated for a wonderful evening that at various points had the audience leaping up and joining in with the songs. I took my daughter who is 10 and she had an absolutely wonderful evening. The themes concerning homosexuality and cross-dressing are dealt with with fantastic tact and the songs and entertainment comes across so thick and fast that you’re swept away in a road trip that’s a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Wonderful show!

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

Thu 31 Oct 7:45pm Audio Described, Signed £28.00 - £40.00*
Fri 1 Nov 5:00pm £23.00 - £35.00*
Fri 1 Nov 8:15pm £30.00 - £42.00*
Sat 2 Nov 3:00pm Captioned £28.00 - £40.00*
Sat 2 Nov 7:45pm £30.00 - £42.00*
Sep 26th

Cabaret, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, Monday 23 September 2013

By GRAHAM CLARK
I have always thought that Will Young was a bit of a wet dishcloth as far as his singing goes, however, in the new production of Cabaret he shines in the role of Emcee. The character feels like it was made just for him to play. 

The play is set in pre-war Berlin in 1931 and the action centres around the Kit Kat Club which is run by Emcee. The show does have its lighter moments but there is a serious and dark side to the show with homophobia, race and relationships being called into question.

American writer, Clifford Bradshaw (Matt Rawle) arrives in Berlin looking for inspiration for his next novel. He stays at the boarding house run by Fraulein Schneider (played by Lyn Paul who you might recall from the New Seekers). Whilst in the city Bradshaw goes to the Kit Kat club and meets a former male lover there. Here he meets dancer Sally Bowles (played tonight by under-study Emily Bull) who he srtikes up a romantic relationship with. She eventually becomes pregnant, with Bradshaw being the probable father.

The first half of the show is quite easy going with a bed scene where many bodies coming out from under the sheets is pure pantomime. It is in the second half of the show when things  take a darker turn.

The Nazi's beging to gain power, Fraulen Schneider's proposed marriage to fruit and vegetable shop owner Herr Schultz (played with style by Linal Haft) is called off because he is a Jew. Bradshaw leaves Berlin and goes back to America. The Kit Kat club is closed down and the play ends with the members of the club meeting their fate in a gas chamber. As I said, it is not for the faint hearted. It was unusual for a show to end on such a dramatic finish. The audience remained silent for 10 seconds or so before the show received a standing ovation.

A thought provoking show with a set of great dancers and actors. 

Runs until Saturday 28 September.
Sep 11th

New Jersey Nights - The Alhambra, Bradford

By GRAHAM CLARK
In the tradition of recent musicals such as Dreamcoats and Petticoats and Save The Last Dance For Me, this production of New Jersey Nights celebrates the music of another era; this time the music of  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

New Jersey Nights

Valli and the Four Seasons were perhaps the first boy band, long before the likes of One Direction (who get a namecheck in the show). The casting agents have found 4 superb singers and dancers to portray the act: Jon Hawkins, Ricki Rojas, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield are great together. Also on stage are three male and three female dancers along with a four piece band.

There is not so much of a story to the production, it is more of a celebration of the music and hits from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The enthusiastic cast appear to be thoroughly enjoying the show and this infectious vibe is passed on to the audience.

I never knew Frankie Valli had so many hits and the show covers the groups career from Rag Doll, Sherry, Walk Like A Man right up to the theme tune to the musical Grease. The show also features the music of Phil Spector in one act, with the girl dancers becoming the Ronettes to perform Be My Baby.

An a capella version performed by the lads of Silence is Golden sent shivers down my back.

A standing ovation at the end of the performance was justified for this feel good show that will leave you with a spring in your step and humming those tunes the next day.  A superb cast and a show that ticks all the boxes.

Runs until Saturday 14 September 2013
www.bradford-theatres.co.uk


 
Aug 22nd

Hairspray - Leeds Grand - Wednesday 21 August 2013

By GRAHAM CLARK
Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad (played superbly by Freya Sutton) who follows her dreams and in the end, gets the man she loves.

Hairspray the Musical

The musical is set in Baltimore in 1962. Tracy dreams of appearing on the Corny Collins TV show , presenter Collins (Charles Ruhrmund) is a cheesy slimeball. Her dreams come a step closer when the TV show organises a talent show sponsored by a Hairspray company, hence the musical's title.

Hairspray Cast

Tracey's mum Edna (played wonderfully by Mark Benton) tries to keep a tight rein on her daughter whilst her dad Wibur (Paul Rider) runs a joke shop - The Har de Har Hut.

The story line does have a serious side to it: that of segregation of black American's in the early 60's. Tracy speaks out about this whilst appearing on the TV show and ends up getting locked up in jail!

The TV's show producer Velma Von  Tussle (played by Lucy Benjamin of Eastenders fame) is desperate to get her daughter Amber (Gemma Sutton) to win the TV talent show. If course as in all happy endings, Tracey gets out of jail and wins the TV Talent show and the man of her dreams - singer Luke Larkin (Luke Striffer). Her black teenage friends even get on the TV show too.

The songs in the show are loosely based on late 1950's American pop songs and add substance to the show.

The comic timing between Mark Benton and Paul Rider in the part of the musical where they perform the song, Timeless To Me, is like a Morecambe and Wise sketch. At one point Benton could not contain his giggles.

Mention too should go to Sandra Marvin who plays Motormouth Maybelle  who has a voice that would shake even Tina Turner's wig!

 This is an uplifting,energetic show that as the musicals finale says You Can't Stop The Beat: there is no stopping this entertaining and joyful Show.

Leeds Grand Theatre - Runs until Saturday 31 August 2013.
 Tickets £19.00-£46.00
www.leedsgrandtheatre.com
Jul 30th

Midnight Tango - The Grand - Leeds

By GRAHAM CLARK
You could be forgiven for thinking that the show is going to be all about the tango, but I was pleasantly surprised to witness a production that includes some excellent bossa nova jazz songs which were played by a talented 5 piece band.

Midnight Tango

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have dazzled television audiences for 8 series of the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing and now they have created their own show - Midnight Tango.

The show is set  in a late night bar in Buenos Aires which is run by a husband and wife team, Carlos (Anthony Renshaw) and Rose (Tricia Deighton) who together provide the humour to the show with Renshaw's gestures reminding me of Charlie Chaplin. The chemistry between husbamd and wife worked well.

Of course the stars of the show are Simone and Cacace, who dance the night away at the bar. When El Gato arrives (played by Diomar Giraldo) he tries to win the heart of Sofia (Cacace). The question is, who will win the girl's heart?

Miguel Angel has a singing voice that could rival  Julio Iglesias and throughout the show he is given the opportunity to perform some romantic tracks that are another good reason to see the show. 

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace

The footwork of Simone and Cacace is breathtaking and in perfect timing. There is plenty of leg kicking in true tango style. I came to the show with an open mind and left with a smile on my face. An unexpected surprise.

Runs until Saturday 3 August. Tickets £17.50 - £35.00
www.leedsgrandthearte.com
Jul 3rd

Priscilla - Queen of the Desert - The Musical. Leeds Grand Theatre

By GRAHAM CLARK
A sign displayed in the audiotorium warns "this performance contains strong language and adult themes" informing theatre goers what to expect from this colourful and entertaining show.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The innuendos are far from subtle and the music (gay disco anthems) is as over the top as the costumes.

There is a story to the musical though - 3 friends who dress up as drag queens hop aboard their own bus from Sydney aiming to get to Alice Springs, their bus breaks down en route in the Australian outback and they experience bigotry and insults from the heterosexual male members of the outback. Families are reunited and true love is found at the end of their journey and the show finishes on a high.

Jason Donovan is the headline artist and he plays a convincing role as Tick. Interestingly enough Kylie Minogue is the trio's fantasy figure. Richard Grieve better known as Jonny Foster in Emmerdale plays Bernadette with ease whilst Graham Weaver settles into the role of Felicia.

Three feathered divas Emma Kingston, Ellie Leah and Laura Mansell descend on high from throughout the show giving the disco numbers some flavour. It's Raining Men, I Will Survive and Hot Stuff have never sounded as good. Each song is perfectly placed in the musical with the lyric to each song bringing meaning to the dialogue.

If you are looking for a fun night out with a show that has that feel good factor then this is the show for you. It might not be high-brow but fun it certainly is.

Runs until 13th July 2013. Ticket prices £10.00 - £39.50

Book on line at: www.leedsgrandtheatre.com

Telephone: 0844 848 2700
 
Jun 25th

This Is My Family! - At Sheffield's Crucible Studio

By Paul Tyree

This is My Family

Crucible Studio - Wed 19 June – Sat 20 July

Written by Tim Firth

Sian Phillips (May) & Evelyn Hoskins (Nicky), This Is My Family at the Crucible Studio Theatre. Photo Keith Pattison.jpg

This is My Family is the musical story of a family seen through the eyes of Nicky their 13yr old daughter. With a stressed Mum and a Dad in the full blown throws of a mid-life crisis, a 17yr old brother desperately in love and going through his moody Gothic truculent phase and a Nan with early signs of dementia this isn't what you would call your typical musical.

Tim Firth, of Calendar Girls fame has here constructed a modern day musical pitched perfectly to tug at the heart strings of anyone that's ever been in a relationship, or indeed young, (in other words all of us).
It's wonderfully insightful, hugely funny and ultimately very moving indeed. Tim Firth, the Writer and Daniel Evans the director have every right to be proud of themselves for this fantastic addition to Sheffield's theatrical cannon.

All of the cast perform suberbly and combined with music that runs throughout the entire show their timing is immaculate. Special mention must also go to the musicians that performed at the side of the stage as at a 2hr running time playing music constantly for that amount of time and to be note perfect is no mean feat indeed.

Bill Champion and Clare Burt as the Mum and Dad rediscovering their affections for each other are both hilarious and moving at the same time. Terence Keeley as their teenage son is also brilliant in the role with a mightily impressive voice to boot. Special mention however must go to Evelyn Hoskins as Nicky the 13yr old daughter. She manages to ideally convey the spirit of the part she plays and yet be the calm at the centre of the storm as her brother, mother, dad and nan whirl around her.

Finally and most beautifully is the part Sian Phillips plays as the Nan. This is an acting masterclass if ever there was one. Understated, moving, hilariously funny and heartbreakingly real this performance is worth the price of the ticket on its own.

There was a real electricity in the Crucible Studio last night that built and built as we the audience realised that we were witnessing something very special indeed. These plays and performances do not come around very often and it truly was a priledge to be there at the start of a musical that could very easily go on to become the next phenomenon.

I really cannot praise this highly enough, so do yourself a favour and come to Sheffield's Crucible to witness the beginning of something that I have no doubt is going to just run and run. Exemplary!

Sian Phillips as May in This Is My Family at the Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield. Photo credit Keith Pattison.jpg

   
Tue 25 Jun 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 26 Jun 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 27 Jun 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 27 Jun 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 28 Jun 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 29 Jun 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 29 Jun 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets
Tue 2 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 3 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 4 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 4 Jul 7:45pm Signed £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 5 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 6 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 6 Jul 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets
Tue 9 Jul 7:45pm Talkback £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 10 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 11 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 11 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 12 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 13 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 13 Jul 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets
Tue 16 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Wed 17 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Thu 18 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Thu 18 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Fri 19 Jul 7:45pm   £15.00* Book Tickets
Sat 20 Jul 2:15pm   £13.00* Book Tickets
Sat 20 Jul 7:45pm   £18.00* Book Tickets