Jan 10 2010 by Michael Green, Chester Chronicle
AND A NIGHTINGALE SANG (New Vic Theatre, Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, January 29-February 20)
A TEAM of TV talents are swapping soaps for Spam sandwiches for this wartime comedy. Katherine Dow Blyton of Hollyoaks is joining forces with Eastenders director Sarah Punshon for CP Taylor’s play, filled with musical favourites from the 40s. In World War Two Newcastle upon Tyne, the Stotts are an eccentric family waging personal battles against the terrifying backdrop of war. Amid the air raid sirens and fears of poison gas, Mam makes Spam sandwiches, Dad makes his own entertainment, Grandpa mourns his dead whippet, and daughters Joyce and Helen discover the joy and heartbreak of first love. Ring 01782 717962 or visit www.newvictheatre.org.uk.
CHINESE STATE CIRCUS (The Lowry, Salford Quays, January 27-31)
THE Chinese State Circus returns to The Lowry with a new production. Narrated by the Monkey King, this spectacular show brings together world class martial arts warriors and acrobats, as well as a dizzying succession of plate-spinning divas, Beijing bicycle dancers and the Lion Dance. Visit www.thelowry.com or ring 0870 111 2000.
THE DREADFUL HOURS (Everyman Theatre, Hope Street, Liverpool, February 11-13)
COMBINING Tmesis Theatre’s trademark physicality with new writing from acclaimed North West playwright Chris Fittock, this is a darkly comic drama exploring the quiet disintegration of love’s first flourish through the lifetime of one couple’s relationship. Visit www.everymanplayhouse.com or ring 0151 709 4776.
GHOST STORIES (Playhouse Theatre, Williamson Square, Liverpool, February 4-20)
A TRULY terrifying theatrical experience written and directed by Jeremy Dyson of The League of Gentlemen fame and Andy Nyman, who co-created Derren Brown’s TV and stage shows. This is a spectacular 80 minute ride that will chill and thrill in equal measure. Not suitable for anyone under the age of 15 or of a nervous disposition. Visit www.everymanplayhouse.com or ring 0151 709 4776.
THE GOLDEN PATHWAY ANNUAL (Forum Studio Theatre, Hamilton Place, Chester, February 16-19)
PUPILS from Theatretrain schools in Chester and Wrexham present a play by John Harding and John Burrows that is a series of connected sketches following the life of Michael Peters from the age of 2-23. It is a nostalgic look back at the period from the end of the Second World War to the 1960s but it is also much more than that. Visit www.tiptopproductions.co.uk or ring 01244 341296.
GOOD WILL (Forum Studio Theatre, Hamilton Place, Chester, April 23-25)
IN A local government office, one woman searches for the courage to keep her dignity and finally voices the truth. Card-maker Margaret Gallagher is a lonely widow who is cajoled into teaching by Clare, a newly promoted manager at the local authority. Margaret is needed to cover a staff shortage but is unaware of a pending inspection set to shape the future of the service. This thrilling drama by Paul Kelly is a story of exploitation, betrayal and integrity. Visit www.tiptopproductions.co.uk or ring 01244 341296.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 (Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, February 1-6)
THE first film was turned into a stage musical that was so successful, its sequel has now received the same treatment. All the much-loved characters from the film series make a welcome return and the soundtrack features songs such as What Time Is It and You Are The Music In Me. Visit www.liverpoolempire.org.uk or ring 0844 847 2525.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, March 8-13)
THE first film was turned into a stage musical that was so successful, its sequel has now received the same treatment. All the much-loved characters from the film series make a welcome return and the soundtrack features songs such as What Time Is It and You Are The Music In Me. Visit www.ambassadortickets.com/stoke or ring 0844 871 7649.
HOLD TIGHT IT’S 60S NIGHT (Forum Studio Theatre, Hamilton Place, Chester, March 18-27)
CINDERELLA revisited with the beehives, the minis, Dusty, Cilla and much more. Suburban England in the middle of the Swinging Sixties. Downtrodden teenager Ruby dreams of meeting her handsome prince, falls asleep and is suddenly whisked away to the arms of Rock Hard at the Plastic Palais de Dance. Visit www.tiptopproductions.co.uk or ring 01244 341296.
I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Library Theatre, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, February 11-27)
TOUCHING, poignant and typically funny Neil Simon comedy drama. Hollywood screenwriter Herbert Tucker is down on his luck. Struggling with writer’s block, his career is on the skids. One day, his daughter Libby, an aspiring New York actress he abandoned nearly 20 years ago, turns up unannounced at his door. Visit www.librarytheatre.com or ring 0161 236 7110.
LABUTE TRILOGY (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, January 26-27)
DIALOGUE Productions make their Mold debut with this stunning trilogy by award-winning playwright, screenwriter and film director Neil LaBute featuring The Furies, Land of the Dead and Helter Skelter. In a chic restaurant in New York, a husband and wife meet to take a break from Christmas shopping. He doesn’t know she has already seen him today. Elesewhere in town, a couple part. He goes to the office, she visits a clinic. Two loves meet to talk about their relationship - no easy task with a surprise guest. Visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk or ring 0845 330 3565.
THE ORIENTATIONS TRILOGY (Library Theatre, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, February 17-27)
RE-ORIENTATIONS is the third part of ground-breaking theatre company Border Crossings’ trilogy and is a visually stunning feast, tackling issues of gender, sexuality and performance in mythic and contemporary Asia. The trilogy is produced in association with the all-male company Yaksha Degula from Bangalore in India. Visit www.librarytheatre.com or ring 0161 236 7110.
PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES (Little Theatre, Gloucester Street, Newtown, Chester, March 8-13)
THE most contemporary offering of the latest Chester Little Theatre season is this 2004 Alan Ayckbourn play. It intimately follows a few days in the lives of six characters in four tightly woven stories through 54 scenes. Visit www.chestertheatreclub.co.uk or ring 01244 322674.
A RAISIN IN THE SUN (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, January 27-February 20 2010)
LORRAINE Hansberry’s play was the first written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, winning the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best play of 1959. Lena’s life on Chicago’s Southside has always been about staying alive with “a pinch of dignity”. Now the insurance money from her husband’s death is coming through, her family sees the chance to make their dreams come true. But when those dreams conflict, it becomes harder than ever to retain that dignity. Visit www.royalexchange.co.uk or ring 0161 833 9833.
RE:PLAY FESTIVAL 2010 (Library Theatre, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, January 26-February 6)
FIRMLY established as the primary platform for theatre companies to present the best productions first seen in smaller venues in manchester and Salford to a wider audience. Details of the programme will be available on the Library website. Visit www.librarytheatre.com or ring 0161 236 7110.
SALT (Royal Exchange Theatre Studio, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, February 3-20 2010)
WORLD premiere of Fiona Peek’s sparkling and seductive play, one of four winners of the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition. Though Amy and Simon have the money and children that life has so far denied Nick and Rachel, a friendship forged years ago remains constant. When they find the cash to enable their friends to hold on to their dreams, a simple act of charity brings everything bubbling to the surface. Visit www.royalexchange.co.uk or ring 0161 833 9833.
THE SNOW QUEEN (Theatr Stiwt, Broad Street, Wrexham, January 30-31)
HANS Christian Andersen’s everygreen fairytale of the frozen north brings a touch of magic. Former Crossroads star Jane Rossington features in the title role as the Snow Queen who plans to rule the world in a new ice age. Visit www.stiwt.co.uk or ring 01978 841300.
THE WOMAN WHO COOKED HER HUSBAND (Forum Studio Theatre, Hamilton Place, Chester, April 9-11)
FOOD for thought from playwright Debbie Isitt for any man with an appetite for adultery. Hilary is a housewife with all the tricks of the trade when it comes to keeping her home shipshape. the only problem is husband Kennth takes his dinner and clean clothes for granted. Then Kenneth decides to have an affair with a younger woman who can’t cook to save her life. Visit www.tiptopproductions.co.uk or ring 01244 341296.