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Apr 26th

CATS at Bradford Alhambra

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Graham Clark

Joseph Poulton as Mistoffelees, Photo Alessandro Pinna

The West End production of this long running musical has returned to the Bradford Alhambra for a 2 week run which finishes on Saturday 4 May.


There is not so much as a plot or a storyline to the musical: the set is an old rubbish tip under the light of the full moon where the cats are all meeting for the Jellicle Ball.


As the night unfolds each cat is introduced to the audience, with most of the cats making their entrance through the stalls of the theatre as they prance and purr their way onto the stage.


With characters like Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser who perform acrobatics to the magical tricks that Mistoffelees (played by Joseph Poulton, pictured) entertains everyone with, the show moved along at a fast pace.


Understudy Alice Redmond was a delight as she played Grizabella, the cat whose beauty had now faded in old age. Her version of "Memory" brought a tingle to the spine. The lyrics of the song made more sense in the context of the musical as Grizabella was left alone by the other cats, leaving her alone with her memories.


Melissa-James-as-Bombalurina-and-Lily-Frazer-as-Demeter_Photo-Alessandro-PinnaThe superb cast danced with expert timing and sang non-stop for over 2 hours. The lighting was more like that of a rock concert and the special effects included a flying saucer that went up vertically above the stage and a podium that took Grizabella to the heavens.


As the cats paraded within the audience during the show, the audience were made to feel part of the show.


For anyone with even a slight interest in a feel good musical, this show is sheer purrfection!


23 April - 04 May 2013  Book now (booking fee)

Apr 22nd

9 to 5 The Musical at the Lyceum Sheffield

By Paul Tyree

9 to 5 by Patricia Resnick, Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton


Based on the 80's film this theatre production seems to be overcoming problems in the exact same way that the three stars overcame their sexist boss in the movie itself. On the night in question the start of the production was delayed by several minutes. Not something that can't be overlooked. However, much as I am a fan of Dolly Parton herself, this production has been Dollied up to within an inch of its life. Dolly, projected on a giant screen, becomes our narrator and guide as several scenes are bookended by her words and homespun charm. This, it has to be said, is the weakest and most unnecessary part of the show. It's almost as if they lack belief in the story itself and hopefully any revivals of this musical would be well advised to drop the Dolly sections completely.
That being said there is much on show here that is well worth the price of admission. The songs and music, by Ms Parton, are excellent and deliver in exactly the way they would need to to make this show work.
Jackie Clune as Violet, the Lilly Tomlin part, gives you a sense of reliability. Her performance is relaxed and, indeed in the best sense of theatrical tradition, she makes it look easy - which means she's working very hard indeed. Amy Lennox as Doralee, the Dolly Parton role, is charming and sings well. However, the star of this show by a hundred miles or more, is Natalie Casey as Judy, the Jane Fonda part. Ironically it was Jane Fonda herself who asked Patricia Resnick to write the film, so it is perhaps fitting that the actress playing her part would shine the brightest, even though Ms Fonda's name doesn't appear anywhere on the marquee.
Ms Casey, who has made this part completely her own, seems to be channelling both Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman to create one of the best female comic performances that you're ever likely to see. She is worth the price of admission alone, simply as an acting class, and I would advise any parent with a child who wishes to act to get to the Lyceum before this closes. Without her performance the show would have been average, but with her she makes the nine to five worth showing up for.
Playing until Saturday.



Apr 10th

Simon Boccanegra by English Touring Opera

By Paul Tyree

Simon Boccanegra by Verdi

Tue 9th April Lyceum Theatre


English Touring Opera's version of Simon Boccanegra is a shining, brilliantly sung, directed and designed piece of Opera, as far removed from their other offering 'Cosi Fan tutte' as can be imagined.

This tragic tale of a father reunited with his daughter amid the backdrop of political intrigue, betrayal and revolution is a masterpiece which will reaffirm any lost faith in this companys' ability to produce a sublime work of art and an opera that is well worth checking out whilst still on tour.

James Conway's direction is assured and his staging of this epic never feels any less than wonderfully conceived. A great help in this regard is Samal Blak's design and Ace McCarron's lighting which add a marvellously atmospheric feel to this production.

Several of the performers give stand out vocal and acting performances. Craig Smith as Boccanegra himself seems to grow in stature as the play goes on getting better and better as each scene progresses. He is never better than in the scenes he shares with Elizabeth Llewellyn, who plays his daughter. She gives us perhaps the performance of the evening as her voice is flawless and her interpretation of the character wonderfully realised.

Running her a close second in the performance stakes however is Charne Rochford who plays her fiance Adorno. He gives a wonderfully passionate and fiersome performance, his voice being the best male voice on show on the night by far.

All in all English Touring Opera have presented us with a wonderful rendition of a classic opera that excels in pretty much every area of this art form and you can't really ask for more than that from any company.

  1. York Theatre Royal — 12th Apr 2013 - 7:30 pm
    YO1 7HD Book Online Now

  2. Wolverhampton Grand Theatre — 16th Apr 2013 - 7:30 pm
    Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1DE Book Online Now

  3. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 19th Apr 2013 - 7:30 pm
    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP Book Online Now

  4. Gala Theatre, Durham — 23rd Apr 2013 - 7:30 pm
    1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham, DH1 1WA Book Online Now

The tour continues until 30th May.

Apr 10th

20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield

By Paul Tyree

20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield


Sheffield People’s Theatre

Tuesday 9th April – Crucible Studio, Sheffield

Reviewed by Melanie Creaser

Sheffield People’s Theatre is back following their first production, Lives in Art, in November 2011.  20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield is directed by their Creative Producer, Andrew Loretto and brings together this collection of five minute plays which seek to explore modern-day Sheffield in all its glory; the good and the bad; the highs and the lows.  Provocative areas such as racial intolerance and degeneration rather than regeneration are explored but ultimately it is a celebration of Sheffield, its environment and its people.
 All the writers are connected to the local area in some way and range from the relative newcomer to those who are award winning.  The cast of 62 (boasting a huge age range) has been recruited through a series of auditions from the Sheffield area as well as existing members of the Sheffield People’s Theatre.
 The plays, as would be expected, span a wide range of styles and genres, something for everyone it might be said.  However, it is a tall order bearing this in mind to offer a collection of performances which will be universally appealing.  Indeed, there is the occasional blip.  Some segments fail to capture the imagination as well as others and there is a problem at times with voice projection from a small number of the players.  That said, on the whole these snappy, short plays flowed from one another surprisingly well and were in the main variously dramatic, surprising, amusing and uplifting.  In fact, by the end the viewer has experienced a whole range of responses which shows surely that the audience had been engaged as desired.  Indeed the reaction from the sell-out crowd was warm throughout.

 The physical movement of the cast as they went from one idea to another was seamless as it was within the scenes.  A project such as this could have come across as extremely bitty and it is a credit to the cast, production team and direction that it succeeded so well in this way. 
 The play which asked the question, “Where is the centre of Sheffield?” stood out with its conversation-stimulating assertion on the plight of the city centre with its claim that, “…the centre of Sheffield is old folk; it’s memories.”  Similarly interesting was the running girl who feels at times uninspired to continue her training due to the adverse effect of Jessica Ennis and the pressure she subsequently felt to succeed rather than enjoy.  The fertility sketch was pleasing but lifted to a level higher with the introduction of “Eric” played beautifully by one of the more mature cast members.  His one-liners were a treat and beautifully delivered.
There were times the performance waned a little but was always lifted again such as when the snooker song brought us back into the fold with its delivery and its wit and humour.  The Sheffield closing down sale was a satirical hit and perhaps an apt way to bring proceedings to a close when the idea was reprised at the end of the performance.  Indeed, the plays, when dealing with less attractive ideas and opinions about the city managed not to depress but to enable the viewer to be sentimental about some of the less desirable aspects or perceived problems in the city, cleverly encouraging awareness and discussion but not despair.
One would not expect to find such a wide range of styles in one production and this can’t help but hold the performance back a little as due to individual tastes there will always be sections which don’t particularly appeal but this does not make for a bad experience; it is just something to be accepted.   On a personal level, the sketches were far more entertaining and satisfying than some of the other genres on offer.  The chanting for example at the beginning of the evening simply grated on the nerves.  Others may not agree but that is the beauty of having such variety on offer.  It is a little like a tasting menu.  There will be morsels where you are left wanting a bigger piece and others you would perhaps choose to pass over.  On the whole though, this innovative event is provocative and entertaining and well deserves the high level of interest the city has shown and the resulting excellent ticket sales.
 If this sort of local interest offering is appealing then don’t hesitate next time this company comes along – get your tickets quickly as if tonight’s example is anything to go by with its overall impressive show of enthusiasm and production values, they are only going to get even more popular in the future if their next project can capture the local public’s imagination once more.

20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield runs until Saturday 13th April.

Tickets for this production have now SOLD OUT. For returns, please call Box Office on 0114 249 6000 0114 249 6000 

Apr 10th

Save The Last Dance For Me - Leeds Grand Theatre

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Graham Clark

Save the Last Dance for MeSet in a time when “petrol was 4 bob a gallon” this splendid musical was an unexpected surprise.

From the same production team behind “Dreamboats and Petticoats”, this new light hearted musical is set in the early sixties.

On their first holiday without their parents, sisters Marie (Elizabeth Carter) and Jennifer (Verity Jones) decide to go to Lowestoft.  Bored with the typical British summer weather they take solace when they meet Milton (Lee Honey-Jones) a handsome young American Air Force officer who informs the sisters that Elvis is playing a show that night at his Air Force base in Lowestoft!  Of course, Elvis is not playing; it is just the local air force band.  Whilst there, Marie meets Curtis, an Afro-American with whom she strikes up a romantic relationship.

Special mention should go to Jay Perry (Rufus) who has grown a lot from his S Club Junior pop group’s days 10 years ago. He played the part of Rufus with style, authority and humour.

Although the script is full of humour, the show explains the American political undercurrent of the time and race segregation in the early sixties.

Curtis is moved to Frankfurt but, at the last minute, before he is due to leave he decides to stay in the UK and follow his heart and, of course, the show has a happy ending.

Save the Last Dance for Me

The talented cast were superb throughout; the transition from acting to singing to dancing was slick and effortlessly performed by each member.

The songs are perfectly placed in the show and the cast acapella versions of Teenager in Love and Hushabye were note perfect.

This performance was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  There were smiles and plenty of happy conversation as the audience left the theatre with that feel-good factor running through their veins!

Save the Last Dance for Me
Leeds Grand Theatre
Runs until Saturday 13 April

Tickets £16.00 -£31.50
Online Box Office

Apr 9th

Cosi Fan Tutte - Lyceum Theatre Sheffield

By Paul Tyree
Cosi Fan Tutte
                                 by Mozart 


The Lyceum plays host to a huge variety of touring productions every year, including large-scale musicals, drama, children’s shows, opera, ballet and contemporary dance.
With over 1000 seats, the Lyceum is a beautiful late 19th Century building located on Tudor Square, close to the Crucible Theatre.

  • 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000 , 0114 249 6000 FREE 
Apr 5th

High Society - Bradford Alhambra

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Graham Clark


High Society

This Cole Porter period musical is set in 1930’s America (Long Island) and is one of those shows that contains so many songs that you never realised where they came from; Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Well, Did You Evah and Lets Misbehave all of which make sense when you hear them in the context of the show.

I have never seen the film version so have nothing to compare the show to but, for me, it ticked all the right boxes.

Tracy Lord (played with style by Sophie Bould) is about to marry her next husband George (Keiron Crook) whose character is as wooden as the tennis racket he carries when he first appears on stage.  Her ex-husband, the suave, smooth talking Dexter Haven (Michael Praed) returns on the scene to put a cat amongst the pigeons.  Add to that the arrival of a good looking journalist Mike Connor (played by understudy, Matt Corner) and you have the main characters of the show.  Tracy’s younger sister Dinah (Katie Lee) has some strong lines and some worldly advice for her big sister.  At times her character could be annoying but she did have a certain charm.

Teddy Kemper, as Uncle Willy, has the wittiest lines and plays the part with ease; delivering his colourful antics.

Early on in the show, we see that Tracy made a mistake in leaving Dexter and that the flame of True Love burns brightly for them both.  It is easy to work out how the show will end.

With a vast range of emotions portrayed in the show from jealousy to lost love, it is a show that everyone can relate too.

If you are romantically inclined then this is a show for you. On a distinctively chilly night in Bradford it warmed the heart.

High Society

02 - 06 April 2013
Alhambra Theatre

Tickets £14.50 - £34.50


Apr 2nd

The 39 Steps - Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

By Paul Tyree
The 39 Steps
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield  2 - 6 April 2013


For anyone who has seen the several film and tv adaptations of John Buchnan's work, this adaptation by Patrick Barlow will come as a refreshing and perhaps blessed relief.

It is fresh, funny, well written, acted and directed and therefore a wonderful, if brief evening at the theatre. If the adage goes, 'always leave them wanting more' then this adaptation certainly does that. Such is the variety of stage craft on show it virtually makes your head whirl at the thought processes involved in making this one of the most cleverly directed evenings at the theatre that you're ever likely to see.

The cast of four inhabit a veritable sea of different characters and do so with aplomb and great skill. Richard Ede as Hannay, the main character, manages to look like and convince as the sort of Englishman that perhaps never really existed but we sorely hope actually did. He is effortless and charming and definately one to watch for the future. Charlotte Peters as the sole female, inhabiting several different female roles is a recent graduate, but this never shows as she performs with skill, humour and some depth and is a more than capable foil to Mr Ede's Hannay.

Special mention must also go to Tony Bell and Gary Mackay who carry perhaps the greatest burden of this production, inhabiting at least a dozen characters each but making them all recognisable and very funny indeed. This shows their wonderful stage craft and goes to prove that a small cast need not necessarily mean a small production.

What I remember most although, apart from the very funny script, is just how well directed this play is. The number of times that this production manages to surprise almost equal the number of times it manages to bring the audience into the joke. With a minimum of fuss and a few props this company manages to transport us to all the places you might see in the movie, but manage to make them more vital, real and enjoyable than they have ever been before.

It simply remains to say that Patrick Barlow has taken what is traditionally a pretty pedestrian thriller and changed it into something much more fun and intelligent but no less thrilling for that. For Sheffield patrons it's an absolute must see.


Wed 3 Apr 7:45pm   £15.00 - £22.00 Book Tickets
Thu 4 Apr 2:00pm   £12.00 - £19.00 Book Tickets
Thu 4 Apr 7:45pm Audio Described, Signed £15.00 - £22.00 Book Tickets
Fri 5 Apr 7:45pm   £22.00 - £29.00 Book Tickets
Sat 6 Apr 3:00pm Captioned £13.00 - £20.00 Book Tickets
Sat 6 Apr 7:45pm   £22.00 - £29.00 Book Tickets

Mar 28th

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Graham Clark

Matthew Bourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty is billed as a gothic fairytale and although this is also a family show it does not disappoint.

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

The show is set in 1890 with the stage sets looking like something out of Downton Abbey, and costumes to match.  The story was not changed too much from the original; King Benedict (Edwin Ray) and Queen Eleanor (Kerry Biggin) are granted a child but as they do not show any gratitude the dark fairy places a spell on the child.

Ben Bruce plays a dual role as Carabosse, the dark fairy and Caradoc, her son. Princess Aurora is played with style and intrigue by Ashley Shaw.

The lighting was superb, especially during the summer sequence which brought some bright sunshine to a chilly dark winter’s night in Bradford.

All the dances were performed, as you would expect, with effortless timing.

Yorkshire born Dominic North plays Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper, with charm and exuberance. Due to his romantic interest in the Princess he is sent to sleep for 100 years as a result of the dark fairy’s curse.

The second half of the production moves forward 100 years to 1990 and Leo returns to fight for Princess Aurora’s love, this time with choreography that is more contemporary. Of course, like all good fairy tales, the couple live happily ever after.

The show is a visual treat with amazing choreography and plenty of emotional drama.

Receiving a deserved standing ovation, this is a show that will appeal not just to fans of ballet but to casual observers too.

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
26 - 30 March 2013
Alhambra Theatre
Tickets £15.00 - £35.00
Alhambra Box office: 01274 432000
Alhambra Online:
Tour: Online Tickets 

Mar 20th

Acorn Antiques - The Lyceum Theatre - Sheffield

By Paul Tyree

Acorn Antiques - The Musical!

Tue 19 – Sat 23 March


Presented at The Lyceum - Sheffield

Crofthouse Theatre Company

Acorn Antiques are are under threat from new property developers so Miss Babs, Miss Berta and Mrs Overall have to find a way to save the shop and themselves in this all singing and dancing version of the popular sketch from Victoria Wood’s tv show.

Helen Kempton steals the show as Mrs Overall, expertly  capturing the look, sound and comic timing of Julie Walters to perfection. Louise Walker as Miss Berta is also marvellous and displays a voice that could easily hold up on any professional stage. In fact all of the performers acquit themselves well in this romp that is perhaps most suited to the amateur stage, considering its subject matter.

Expertly performed and directed this is a decent night in the theatre for many reasons. It is wonderful to see Mrs Overall again and some of the sight gags that break theatrical convention work wonderfully well.

However it is precisely these things that also highlight how uneven and awkward some of the rest of this script is. Many of the songs feel like padding and carry little weight and whilst there are a number of gags that hit home, there are also far more that fall flat, and that is in no way the fault of the performers.

Indeed you feel that the weak link in all of this, funnily enough is Victoria Wood herself, who has taken a brief moment of genius on a tv show and reworked it into a rather flat and formulaic night in the theatre. This shouldn ‘t however reflect on the company who all acquit themselves well. In fact, if you missed this in the West End,  then I’ve no doubt that this production is very near its equal, so you could do worse than checking it out at The Lyceum whilst it’s still around. Playing until Saturday.


Wed 20 Mar 7:15pm   £10.00 - £20.00 Book Tickets
Thu 21 Mar 7:15pm   £10.00 - £20.00 Book Tickets
Fri 22 Mar 7:15pm   £10.00 - £20.00 Book Tickets
Sat 23 Mar 2:00pm   £10.00 - £20.00 Book Tickets
Sat 23 Mar 7:15pm   £10.00 - £22.00 Book Tickets

mrs overall