Feb 17 2013 Chester Chronicle
STARTING THIS WEEK
ALADDIN (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 27-March 2)
A RUN-IN with Palace guards leads young tearaway Aladdin into a whirlwind of adventure and romance, involving unbelievable riches, love at first sight, treachery, and of course a magic lamp. Duped into helping an evil Maghrib, Aladdin finds himself trapped in a cave for three days and nights, with no light and nothing to eat. But it is only when he attempts to light the old lamp he’s found, that his real adventure begins! Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Aladdin is the perfect treat for the whole family, a feast for the eyes with beautiful costumes and sets, breathtaking choreography and, yes, a magnificent flying carpet! Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
THE BLUES BROTHERS - APPROVED (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, February 28-March 2)
THE police, theatres and members of the public are here by warned to be vigilant and on the look out for two men dressed in black hats, black ties and sunglasses. Otherwise known as The Blues Brothers. They’re back and on a mission! Direct from a residency in Chicago and a national tour of the USA. The boys are joined on their mission to bring soul and blues back into your heart by the fabulous Bluettes and an incredible Blues Brothers Band. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Mount Street, Liverpool, February 21-23)
A NEW play by Mike Bartlett performed by third year acting students. A brilliant scientist but dysfunctional father predicts global doom while his three daughters struggle to keep their lives on track in this epic rollercoater of a play. Taking us from 1968 to 2525 and back again, it explores our anxiety about the future of the planet and our ability, nevertheless, to enjoy the excesses of today. Call 0844 873 2888 or visit www.lipa.ac.uk.
EDUCATING RITA (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, February 28-April 5)
WILLY Russell’s classic character comedy comes to the Clwyd stage in a production directed by Emma Lucia. Rita is unhappy with her job and the low expectations of those around her. So she embarks on an Open University course in English literature which brings her into contact with tutor Frank, a failed poet whose cynicism has led him to take solace in the bottle. Their encounter will change both of their lives forever. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 22-March 9)
THE bloody battlefields of the Thirty Years’ War provide the setting for Brecht’s astonishing tragedy of war. Vital, indomitable, contradictory, Mother Courage is considered by many to be one of the most powerful stage creations of the 20th century. She is a tireless entrepreneur of the battlefield, Mother Courage is unswerving in her determination to make a profit from the dirty business of war even as it threatens her children. An unforgettable theatrical experience, Brecht’s great story of war and business with its rich mixture of narrative, incident, music and dry humour is as clear-eyed and provocative as ever – a must see classic. The production features strong language and smoking on stage. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, February 20-March 6)
CAMERON Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical. With a brilliant new design by Paul Brown, costumes by the much missed Maria Björnson, a new staging by Laurance Connor, director of the recent acclaimed 25th anniversary celebration at The Royal Albert Hall. The production is overseen by Cameron Mackintosh and Matthew Bourne. Far beneath the majesty and splendour of the Paris Opera House, hides the Phantom in a shadowy existence. Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all, the love he holds for his beautiful protégée Christine Daaé is so strong that even her heart cannot resist. Call 0844 847 2525 or visit www.liverpoolempire.org.uk.
THE RAINBOW CONNECTION (Unity Theatre, Hope Place, Liverpool, February 21-23)
JOE never goes out because he doesn't want to. Shelly never goes out but desperately wants to. He is agoraphobic and is mourning the loss of his daughter in a car crash. She is decidedly outgoing but kept dangling on a string by married boyfriend Bernie. She is straight. He is gay. Can they ever be more than just friends? A bittersweet romantic-comedy from the writer/director of the award-winning Wannabe, Joanne Sherryden and Paul Goetzee. Call 0844 873 2888 or visit www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk.
THE RESONANCE OF SECLUSION (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 28)
IN 2000 ARTIST Joash Woodrow left his home in Leeds to move into sheltered housing in Manchester. Having lived as a recluse for almost 40 years, few could believe what was discovered when the contents of his house were revealed. Despite his apparent seclusion Joash had painted and drawn throughout his life, filling the rooms of his suburban semi with over 700 paintings, 3000 drawings and thousands of books. Discover an extraordinary story inspired by one man’s unstoppable drive to create and the equally unstoppable support of his family that made his artistic life a reality. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
SOLDIERS’ WIVES (The Brindley, High Street, Runcorn, February 23)
FIVE wives are living on an army base in England, waiting for their men to return whole and unharmed. War does terrible things to people, leaves scars both visible and invisible. A front-line incident ricochets through their lives and each woman is forced to confront hidden and painful truths. Features Catherine Shipton, nominated for Best Solo Performance at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 for this performance. She is best known for creating the iconic and hugely popular role of Duffy in the BBC award-winning drama Casualty. Ring 0151 907 8360 or visit www.thebrindley.org.uk.
SOME SMALL LOVE STORY/BEULAH (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 21-23)
MUSICAL Theatre Matters and Total Theatre Award nominated writer Alexander Wright presents two outstanding productions. Some Small Love Story is a bold and honest piece of contemporary musical theatre set against the music of Gavin Whitworth. T this tale sees joy and tragedy collide to create something unique and profoundly affecting. Beulah is a beautiful and delicate folk musical featuring original music, puppetry and poetry. Inspired by the writings of William Blake it explores dreams, reality and how we understand the very fabric of our world. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
TALES FROM UNDER THE COUNTER (Unity Theatre, Hope Place, Liverpool, February 27-28)
A WIDOW, a criminal son, an affair and a honeydew melon baby. What happens when you lose everything? If there are no customers? Does your world end? Do you create a new one? Meet the owners of three abandoned shops as you enter their absurd and wonderfully, weird worlds. Exploring love, loss, melons and the plight of all things small, come walk the streets between comedy and far darker places! Idiotsinsync return to unity after a rapturous reception with this hilarious and newly adapted dark comedy. Call 0844 873 2888 or visit www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk.
THREE BIRDS (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, February 27-March 16)
THE Royal Exchange Theatre in association with the Bush Theatre presents the winner of the 2011 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting by Janice Okoh. A darkly comic drama about childhood, family and fantasy. Siblings Tiana, Tionne and Tanika have found themselves home alone. Tiana's keeping it all together by taking charge of housework and homework. But Tionne's experiments are getting stranger and stranger and Tanika's starting to act up. As the outside world begins to press in, the three will do anything to keep their secret safe from the adults who come to call. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
HAIRSPRAY (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 11-23)
THE West End's favourite musical comedy is coming to The Lowry. Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart as she sets out to follow her extraordinary dreams, inspire her mum and win the boy she loves. It is the musical with everything - the ultimate feel-good show which has played to sold out houses in London, on Broadway and theatres around the globe. Starring Mark Benton as Edna Turnblad, Lucy Benjamin as Velma Von Tussle, Marcus Collins as Seaweed Stubbs and newcomer Freya Sutton as Tracy. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
THE LION KING (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, December 1-April 20)
ONE of the biggest success stories in musical theatre history comes to Manchester for four months, directed by Julie Taymor and featuring songs from the hit Disney movie. Members of the cast hail from 12 different countries with the roles of Young Simba and Young Nala to be played by local talent. The company is made up of 46 members including Cleveland Cathnott, who is currently part of the London company of The Lion King and will be playing the role of Mufasa. Stephen Carlile will take on the role of Scar while Nicholas Nkuna makes his UK debut as Simba. Carol Stenett will continue her role as Nala from the West End production and Gugwana Dlamini will return to her previous role of Rafiki. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE MISANTHROPE (Playhouse Theatre, Williamson Square, Liverpool, February 15-March 9)
DISGUSTED with French society, where powdered tops gossip in code and bejewelled coquettes whisper behind fans, poet Alceste embarks on a one-man crusade against fakery, frippery and forked tongues. But could the woman he adores be the worst culprit of them all? Following the huge success of Tartuffe and The Hypochondriac, this reunites writer Roger McGough and director Gemma Bodinetz with the works of Moliere. Call 0151 709 4776 or visit www.everymanplayhouse.com.
THE MOUSETRAP (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, February 18-23)
ONE of the world’s longest running stage productions is embarking on its first ever UK tour. Agatha Christie’s record breaking production has entered its 60th year in London’s West End. To mark the anniversary, Mousetrap Productions has licensed 60 productions world-wide including this one at the Regent. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, February 9-23)
JASON Donovan will reprise his West End role of Tick in this touring production also starring Richard Grieve and Graham Weaver. Based on the smash-hit movie, this is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dancefloor favorites including It’s Raining Men, Say a Little Prayer, Go West, Hot Stuff and Always on My Mind, this is a wildly fresh and funny musical. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
RAPE OF THE FAIR COUNTRY (Anthony Hopkins Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, February 14-March 9)
COMPELLING drama by Alexander Cordell that captures a family’s role in their nation’s turbulent past. It is 1826 - the Mortymers are a Welsh family caught in the bitter crossfire between their English employers and the early trade union movement. Moments of warm humour and great poignancy abound as we are swept from the fiery hell of the furnaces to the icy stillness of a Welsh mountainside and on to bloody scenes of rebellion. Directed by Tim Baker and adapted by Manon Eames. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, February 20-March 30)
HARPER Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is one of the most enduring and best-loved stories of our time. Written as an urgent plea for tolerance and compassion at the height of the Civil Rights movement, it tells the story of Scout Finch as she grows up during the 1930s depression in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. Her childhood innocence is shattered when her father, Atticus Finch, defends a young black man accused of rape. This is a universal tale of prejudice, deep inequalities and humanity. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
THE BEAR (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, April 25-27)
A TAUT, tense and funny show about an everyday murder and a mythic bear. Angela is a solicitor's clerk. She works with the defence team during criminal trials. The job brings her face to face with people accused of GBH, rape and murder. In the cells under the Old Bailey, Angela meets her client accused of murder. “It wasn't me, the bear did it.” He's obviously lying. Or mad. Without knowing why, Angela finds herself hunting the bear. Until she discovers the bear is hunting her. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
THE BEGGAR’S OPERA (Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool, March 1 and 3)
WE’RE all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. A filthy beggar has scraped together some folksongs, stolen a story and written an opera. Crooks are heroes, wrong is right, and some of those tunes sound suspiciously like something you’ve heard down the pub. Meet Polly Peachum, Lucy Lockit and the original Mack the Knife (Macheath) in The Beggar’s Opera, the show that’s been outraging and entertaining audiences in equal measure since 1728. Opera North’s Richard Farnes features in this riotous co-production with the European Opera Centre. Britten’s brilliantly imaginative score brings this work alive for the audiences of today. Call 0844 888 4411 or visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk.
BLOOD WEDDING (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Mount Street, Liverpool, March 7-9)
A CLASSIC play from 1933 by Federico Garcia Lorca, performed by third year acting students, which evokes the heat and passion of Spain with a young bride-to-be’s family unaware of the emotions lurking beneath the ties of family and duty. Call 0844 873 2888 or visit www.lipa.ac.uk.
CANNIBALS (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, April 3-27)
A BOLD and unique world premiere by Manchester playwright Rory Mullarkey. On a farm, in a village, on the fringe of Europe, life is simple but hard. When the sweeping forces of war and progress pass through, Lizaveta must run for her life. Finding shelter on an old woman’s farm, she tries to piece her life back together. But her past catches up with her and she must keep moving. Her journey through a land of mud and blood, icon painters and holy fools, takes her across continents to the other side of the world. Through Lizaveta’s eyes familiar places and notions of love, family and identity become distant and strange. It is directed by Michael Longhurst who recently directed If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet starring Jake Gyllenhaal in his American stage debut. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
CHESTER MYSTERY PLAYS (Chester Cathedral, June 26-July 13)
EVERY five years, the spectacle and history, miracles and mystery that are the Chester Mystery Plays come to the city. A huge community production, which tells the greatest stories ever told. Written in the 14th century, by monks of the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral), the plays tell Bible stories from The Creation to The Last Judgement. Originally produced by the guilds of the city the Chester Mystery Plays were banned in the 16th century. A modern revival was established in 1951 to celebrate the Festival of Britain and the plays have been produced approximately every five years since. The 2013 production is directed by Peter Leslie Wild with a new script by Stephanie Dale and original music composed by Matt Baker. Call 01244 500959 or visit www.chestermysteryplays.com.
DIRTY DANCING (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, March 12-30)
AN UNPRECEDENTED live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensationally sexy dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash-hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring hit songs, including Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me? and the heart stopping I've Had The Time of My Life. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
DIRTY DANCING (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, May 21-June 15)
AN UNPRECEDENTED live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensationally sexy dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash-hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring hit songs, including Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me? and the heart stopping I've Had The Time of My Life. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
A DOLL’S HOUSE (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, May 1-June 1)
NORA, a young wife and mother, is married to Torvald, a recently promoted bank manager. Life seems content and settled until their marriage is threatened when a terrible secret from Nora’s past comes back to haunt her and she begins to question their world. Henrik Ibsen’s ground-breaking play is widely regarded as a landmark of the modern stage. A story of domestic revolution, female empowerment and the journey towards self-liberation, it queries aspirations, success and what it means to raise a happy family. The play is still as charged, intense and provocative as it was 130 years ago. This production stars stars Cush Jumbo as Nora. She is reunited with director Greg Hersov following the hugely successful
Pygmalion (2010) and As You Like It (2011), for which she won the 2011 Ian Charleson Award. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
DON QUIXOTE (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, July 22)
SOFIA National Ballet presents Don Quixote. No ballet can equal this Russian showpiece of thrilling technique, pure panache and explosive balletic fireworks. This is the enchanting story of an eccentric, yet noble old gentlemen Don Quixote. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
ELLEN KENT’S CARMEN (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, March 9)
DIRECTED by Ellen Kent, this traditionally staged, dazzling new production set in Seville and reflecting a Goya painting, with fountains, flowers, orange trees and even a rescue donkey, guarantees an evening of passion and romance. Starring international mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova, whose portrayal of Carmen has won rapturous reviews, this is the story of a bewitching gypsy girl whose tantalising beauty lures a soldier to desertion and ultimately leads to her own murder. Carmen features some of the most evocative and best-loved melodies in opera, including perhaps the best-known baritone aria of all - The Toreador’s Song. Sung in French with English surtitles. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
ELLEN KENT’S TOSCA (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, March 8)
DIRECTED by Ellen Kent, and starring the celebrated international soprano Elena Dee, this traditional production is a heady mixture of true love, torture and treachery, with two of the best roles for tenor and soprano, plus a truly blood curdling villain. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Rome, with spectacular costumes, and featuring a boys choir*, this most popular of operas is sure to delight with its tender, moving arias Vissi d’arte and E Lucevan le Stelle. Sung in Italian with English surtitles. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
FIREARMS AND FINGERTIPS (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, March 20-23)
A MODERN day morality tale about gun crime. Fifteen-year-old shooting victim Spencer is being willed back to life by his distraught mother as he lies in his hospital bed. At the same time, two agents of death, Chalice and Brown are callously killing time until The Grim Reaper arrives. This is a tale about the consequences of guns in society by musician, filmmaker and playwright James Shaw. Spoken word, visual art and projection combine with a live soundtrack including The Beatles, Nancy Sinatra and Daft Punk, provided by scratch champion, DJ Rasp. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
GISELLE (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, July 23)
SOFIA National Ballet presents Giselle. The most poignant of all classical ballets combines powerful emotions and visual splendour in a chilling and heart-rending tale of love, treachery and forgiveness from beyond the grave. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
HORMONAL HOUSEWIVES (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, April 24)
THE girls return in 2013 with hilarious all-new sketches, as well as all the very best bits from last time round. Looking at everything that makes today's woman tick (or ticked off). Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
MOSCOW STATE CIRCUS (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, March 5-6)
THE Moscow State Circus will present its latest and most spectacular show with this sensational extravaganza Babushkin Sekret. Inspired by the Russian legend of the 12 chairs, this new show will combine contemporary and classical circus in a way never before seen. A mammoth cast of Russia's greatest and most talented circus artists will take you on an incredible journey. The newly devised show includes the beautiful queen of Russian Circus Yana Alievia on a revolving ariel chandelier, the Whirlwind Rubsovsm troupe who acrobatically catapult themselves at breakneck speed, the juggling Sherbakovs on the reverse pyramid of St Petersburg, and the Doktrov, flying and spiralling in the apex of the auditorium with grace, beauty and elegance. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com or ring 0844 871 7649.
A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED (Lyceum Theatre, Heath Street, Crewe, March 5-9)
THE villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.’ A childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out. What follows is a classic Agatha Christie puzzle of mixed motives, concealed identities, a determined Inspector grimly following the twists and turns and the inimitable Miss Marple on hand to provide the final solution in a dramatic confrontation scene just before the final curtain. The production stars Dean Gaffney of EastEnders who is also a noted stage actor, Gemma Bissix from Hollyoaks and former Doctor Who companion Katy Manning. Call 01270 686777 or visit www.lyceumtheatre.net.
THE RED HOURGLASS (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, April 22-23)
A DAZZLING, witty and erotic tour-de-force from one of Scotland's most versatile talents. Glenfiddich Scottish Writer of the Year Alan Bissett performs his first new works since his smash hit The Moira Monologues (Royal Exchange, 2010). In The Red Hourglass, Bissett plays five parts: three male, two female, none of them human, locked up together in a mysterious facility. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
SWAN LAKE (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, July 24)
SOFIA National Ballet presents the greatest romantic ballet of all time, brought to life by Tchaikovsky's haunting and unforgettable score. From the impressive splendour of the Palace ballroom to the moon-lit lake where swans glide in perfect formation, this compelling tale of tragic romance has it all. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE 39 STEPS (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, March 4-9)
DIRECT from the West End, Broadway and 25 countries around the globe comes a joyous version of the Alfred Hitchcock classic spy thriller, brilliantly and hilariously recreated as the smash hit Olivier Award Winning Best New Comedy. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE VICTORIAN IN THE WALL (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, April 12-13)
A NEW play from Perrier Award-winner Will Adamsdale Latte-land. Organic everything, endless box-sets, knock-throughs and maisonettes. A work-shy writer discovers a Victorian man living in the wall of his flat. Everyone’s pretty surprised. Adjustments need to be made. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
I WAS A RAT (Playhouse Theatre, Williamson Square, Liverpool, March 19-23)
THE title refers to the claim made by a scruffy page boy who turns up one evening on the doorstep of an old married couple. But what is he now? Philip Pullman’s glorious and gripping story is brought to life on stage for the first time in the UK. Combining humour, fabtasy and adventure, this moving and darkly comic tale slowly reveals its connection to one of the most famous fairy tales of all time. Call 0151 709 4776 or visit www.everymanplayhouse.com.
WICKED (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, September 12-November 16)
THE global musical phenomenon that has been casting its spell over audiences across the world for nearly a decade, flies into Manchester for a strictly limited run. Call 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.