STARTING THIS WEEK
THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD (Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, Wirral, August 13-14)
FOLLOWING hot on the heels of The Gruffalo’s sell-out tour and monstrous West End success comes The Gruffalo’s Child – with attitude! The Gruffalo said that no Gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood. One wild and windy night, the Gruffalo’s child ignores her father’s warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist, does he? The Tall Stories Theatre Company brings Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning sequel to life in this magical, musical adaptation. All adults must be accompanied by a responsible child. Call 0151 666 0000 or visit www.floralpavilion.com.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (The Lowry, Salford Quays, August 8-10)
MEN Theatre Award-winning youth theatre The Company returns to The Lowry with an iconic Broadway show. This is a musical and satirical look at cut-throat corporate life and office politics. Recently seen on Broadway starring Daniel Radcliffe, this Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning show has earned classic status. The plot is set in New York in the 1960s at the World-Wide Wicket Company. With show-stopping numbers like Brotherhood of Man and I Believe in You by Frank Loesser, the show chronicles the meteoric rise of J Pierrepont Finch, a young but bright window-cleaner who buys a book and soars up the corporate ladder using its instructions, his charm and his wits. The Company Music Theatre is a national youth theatre for musicals that auditions 13- to 23-year-olds nationally and produces shows at The Lowry and in London. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
ROOM ON THE BROOM (Lyceum Theatre, Heath Street, Crewe, August 16-18)
ADAPTED for the stage from the best-selling book by Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson MBE and Axel Scheffler. A spellbinding adventure from the creators of The Gruffalo! The witch and her cat are flying happily along on their broomstick when a stormy wind blows the witch’s hat, bow and wand away into the night. With the help of a daft dog, a beautiful bird and a friendly frog, her belongings are retrieved. But this broomstick’s not meant for five and it snaps in two! When a hungry dragon appears, who will save the poor witch? And will there ever be room on the broom for everyone? A magical, musical delight for children aged three and above. Call 01270 368242 or visit www.crewelyceum.co.uk.
THE SUNSHINE BOYS (Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool, August 15-September 7)
LIFE in Theatre Productions present Neil Simon’s critically acclaimed Broadway and West End Vaudeville comedy. Liverpool theatre veterans Andrew “Drew” Schofield and Alan Stocks play the lead roles of Al Lewis, the laid-back, smiling assassin, and the cantankerous old clown Willie Clark. They are a one-time vaudevillian double-act who, throughout their 40 year career, grew to hate and despise each other. It’s now 1972, in New York City, and CBS invite the comedy duo to be re-united for a nostalgic History of Comedy TV-special. Forced together once again, their old rivalry resurfaces and hilarious shenanigans occur as they prepare to take centre stage for one final time. Call 0844 888 4411 or visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk.
THIS IS MY MUSICAL (Forum Studio Theatre, Hamilton Place, Chester, August 8-17)
DIRECTORS Dani Fray (from BBC1’s Grange Hill) and Phil Cross (children’s director of Oliver! at Drury Lane) have assembled an incredibly talented cast for a summer production featuring hit songs from the biggest shows currently packing audiences in on Broadway and in London’s West End. Book Of Mormon, Matilda, Billy Elliot, Newsies and Spiderman are featured as well as the older favourites such as Les Mis and Anything Goes. The cast of 18 features some members currently living and rehearsing in London but all of whom have a strong connection with Chester. Call 01244 341296 or visit www.chestertheatre.co.uk.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, July 12-August 25)
THE Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre project continues its fourth season in the Chester beauty spot with a brand new adaptation of the classic swashbuckling romance. A deadly and heroic swordsman with an unfortunately large nose, Cyrano is desperately in love with the beautiful Roxanne but is worried his physical appearance does not match his skills with a blade or his poetic way with words. Roxanne, however, seems infatuated with dashing but tongue-tied young Christian. So our hero decides to help his new pal with a poetic romantic assault. Directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace. Call 0845 241 7868 or visit www.grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk.
EVITA (The Lowry, Salford Quays, July 29-August 10)
STARRING West End star and multi-platinum selling artist, Marti Pellow and featuring some of the most famous and inspiring stage music ever written, including the classic songs Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, On This Night Of A Thousand Stars, Oh What A Circus, You Must Love Me and Another Suitcase in Another Hall, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s extraordinary musical embarks on a spectacular national tour. Bringing to life the dynamic, larger-than-life persona of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, Evita tells the story from her young and ambitious beginnings to the enormous wealth and power she gained and her ultimate rise to sainthood. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, July 5-August 25)
THE Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre project begins its fourth season in the Chester beauty spot with William Shakespeare’s charming, witty and romantic fantasy. Four young Athenians lost in the woods, a wedding on the horizon, their minds foggy with passion. A group of day-tripping rustic amateur thespians. They are all set to lose their minds, possibly for good, to the outrageous Oberon, Titania, Puck and their fairy band. Directed by Alex Clifton. Call 0845 241 7868 or visit www.grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk.
OTHELLO (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, August 2-23)
THE Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre project continues its fourth season in the Chester beauty spot with its first Shakespearean tragedy. The great warrior Othello, saviour of his adopted homeland, is brought to despair and self-destruction by the brilliant cruelty of the Bard’s most charmling, brutal and quick-witted villain Iago. This taut thriller is built around an epic battle of wills for the sake of love and honour. Directed by Alex Clifton. Call 0845 241 7868 or visit www.grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.
TOO CLEVER BY HALF (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, July 10-August 17)
TOLD by an Idiot return with another anarchic comedy. What does it take to get to the top? Charming, ambitious, smooth-talking liar Gloumov is determined to climb to the top – and he doesn’t care how he does it, or who he steps on to get there. Following the overwhelming success of You Can’t Take It With You (Royal Exchange, Christmas 2011), the Royal Exchange Theatre and the internationally acclaimed Told by an Idiot once again join forces to give their unique take on the prolific Russian playwright’s hilarious satire about the problem of honesty in a lying, hypocritical world. Backstabbing, greed, and some wonderfully odd characters combine with the Idiot’s anarchic energy to create a comedy that is seriously funny, and wildly physical. Call 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, October 17-19)
STEP into an upside-down world where familiar things are made strange, with enchanting and horrifying results. Alice in Wonderland is about crossing the threshold between childhood and adulthood, and about the behaviour of one generation seen through the eyes of another. Volcano’s “brave, stupid and beautiful” brand of theatre is an intriguing match for Lewis Carroll’s exquisitely deranged tale of childhood, misunderstanding and adventure. Volcano brings you an older-than-usual Alice, and the strangeness of the world she encounters is not supernatural but deeply rooted in the insanities of our culture and society. Plunge with us down the rabbit-hole into a 21st-century asylum adventure, full of ambition, distraction, uglification and derision. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
ARISTOCRATS (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, September 19-October 12)
DURING a perfect summer in the mid 1970s, the children of the O’Donnell family drift back to the crumbling ancestral home. The domineering Judge O’Donnell lies dying upstairs as his children drink, dance and struggle to face the future. Long-unspoken truths and glorious fictions collide in Brian Friel’s achingly beautiful play about the disintegration of the Irish gentry. Aristocrats is directed by Clwyd Theatr Cymru associate director Kate Wasserberg following her acclaimed productions of Salt, Root and Roe by Tim Price, Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet and, in 2010, Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
BLOOD BROTHERS (The Lowry, Salford Quays, September 2-7)
WRITTEN by Willy Russell, the legendary Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. The superb score includes Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True. Few musicals have received quite such acclaim as the multi-award winning Blood Brothers, and Bill Kenwright’s production, having recently celebrated its 23rd phenomenal year in London, continues to enjoy standing ovations at every devastating performance. Call 0843 208 6000 or visit www.thelowry.com.
CABARET NOIR (The Whitby Club, Dunkirk Lane, Ellesmere Port, August 25)
AN EVENING of mystery, magic and exotica featuring, among others, stars of burlesque Suzie Sequin and O Carolina, the magic of John Holt, the sultry singing of Phoebe Dodd accompanied live by Roger Stephens, the electronic wizardry of John Paul and the quirky Tango dance of Faux de Ville. The evening is compered by Lady Boudoir. Tickets are £10 and available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/69624 or from L.Miller on 07764 318416.
COPENHAGEN (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, October 31-November 23)
A TENSE thriller based on a real event at the height of the Second World War. The German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, is now working for the Nazi Government, so why should Niels Bohr, his close friend and colleague, trust him any more? In 1941, these two great scientists meet for a brief moment in Copenhagen. Everything they say is fraught with great personal danger, but crucially has the capacity to change the course of the conflict that ravages Europe. They fail to understand guarded language or to trust one another’s motives and part disastrously. Michael Frayn’s play reconstructs what went wrong at that meeting and its consequences for world history. Directed by Emma Lucia, following her successful productions of Educating Rita by Willy Russell and God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza at Clwyd Theatr Cymru. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
DAYTONA (Anthony Hopkins Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, September 16-21)
HAUNTING, funny, poignant and full of mystery, Daytona by Oliver Cotton is a play with not one but two love stories at its heart. Happy in their shared passion for ballroom dancing, Joe and Elli plan to win the next big competition. But the unexpected arrival of a figure from their past threatens to throw everything off balance. What can this man want of them on this cold winter’s night? What can possibly be gained from this uneasy reunion? When they discover the story behind his sudden return, Joe and Elli must confront a profound moral dilemma. The play stars Maureen Lipman, one of this country’s best-loved actresses, and Harry Shearer, famous for providing character voices for The Simpsons and the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
ERIC AND LITTLE ERN (Anthony Hopkins Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, November 5-8)
THIS affectionate, moving and fantastically funny homage to the greatest comedy double act that Britain has ever seen vividly brings back warm memories of a bygone era. Recreating some of the finest moments of Eric and Ernie’s television and stage performances, cherished moments from the archives sit alongside new material created by the performers. Together they make a brilliant comedy that recreates the all-ages appeal of Morecambe and Wise in their heyday. Creators and performers Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens are seasoned stage and TV actors with a wide range of credits from Shakespeare’s Globe to Lead Balloon, while director Owen Lewis most recently staged solo shows for Suggs, Mrs Moneypenny and Hardeep Singh Kohli; previous stage credits include the West End and international hit Pete and Dud: Come Again. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
ISLAND MAGIC (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, September 19-20)
SET in the warm climes of a magical island. This is a tale of bravery, magic and romance. A truly feel good musical play performed by the enchanting Trapdoor Theatre students. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
MANSFIELD PARK (Anthony Hopkins Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, November 12-16)
CATCH this spellbinding adaptation of Jane Austen’s captivating novel as it returns to tour in 2013. Unceremoniously uprooted from her humble family home, intelligent young Fanny Price is dropped into the bustling, aristocratic household of her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, where she finds herself buffeted from one crisis to the next in the company of her cousins and their well-to-do friends. Yet throughout this turmoil one thing remains a constant – her love for the generous, worthy and steadfast Edmund Bertram. But will this love be her salvation? Or will she be forced to marry the charismatic Henry Crawford for connections and wealth alone? Can Fanny triumph over her adoptive family’s demands and follow her heart to acquire the husband and life she so desires and deserves? Written by Tim Luscombe, whose other acclaimed Austen adaptations include Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and directed by Colin Blumenau, Mansfield Park is a must-see for lovers of Jane Austen, and indeed all classic drama, from the country’s last remaining Regency Theatre. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
PARTICLE VELOCITY (Anthony Hopkins Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, November 9)
FOLLOWING the success of 2012’s Crossing Points, Phoenix Dance Theatre return to Clwyd Theatr Cymru with a bill that is alive with music and sound. Set to a specially commissioned score, Phoenix artistic director Sharon Watson’s Repetition of Change uses movement to unravel our genetic code, taking the audience on a volatile journey through the fascinating world of DNA. Specialising in explosive, powerful dance, Douglas Thorpe’s Tender Crazy Love is a blistering duet that features his trademark raw, visceral choreography. Ki by Jose Agudo is a ferocious solo inspired by the fearsome Mongol warlord Genghis Khan that fills the stage with physical dance. Completing the bill is All Alight, celebrated choreographer Richard Alston’s first work for Phoenix. Featuring the full company, this elegant piece is danced to Ravel’s moving Sonata for Violin and Cello. The score for Repetition of Change, Forms Entangled, Shapes Collided by Kenneth Hesketh, was commissioned with funding from the RPS Drummond Fund for Phoenix and Psappha. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE (Grove Park Theatre, Wrexham, September 5-14)
JIM Cartwright’s original, hilarious and hauntingly moving play. Shy, reclusive Little Voice is a girl with a big secret – a singing voice to die for. Unfortunately, her brash, self-centred mother Mari doesn’t care for LV or her beloved music. So Little Voice stays locked in her bedroom listening to her late father’s record collection and perfecting impersonations of Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland among others. When Mari starts dating small time talent agent Ray Say, she thinks she’s found love at last. And when Ray hears LV sing, he thinks he’s found the jackpot. All Little Voice wants is to find is happiness. But we don’t always get what we want. A play that is touching, tender and tragic all in one. Visit www.groveparktheatre.co.uk or call 01978 351091.
SHH! (Emlyn Williams Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, October 15-16)
A RIVETING and poignant piece of dance theatre from Shut Up and Dance that digs unblinkingly into the lives of a couple. Their domestic bliss, erotic dreams, personal fantasies and internal dramas collide in a virtual house with no walls and in full public view. It builds on the themes of human communication explored within the images in Sue Williams’ 2006 Arts Mundi finalist exhibition. The evening show includes an exhibition of related images from Williams’ work. Not suitable for children. There is a suggested age limit of 16 for the production. Call 0845 330 3565 or visit www.clwyd-theatr-cymru.co.uk.
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.