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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Little Women

Little Women

at Hope Mill Theatre

Reviewed by Katie Leicester December 2017

 

Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester was originally an empty listed Victorian warehouse, that two actors spotted on Gumtree and have transformed into Manchester’s newest theatre, hosting smash hits such as ‘Hair’, ‘Yanks’ and ‘Parade’.

 

It is the brainchild of married couple Joseph Houston and William Whelton, who wanted to bring the magic of musicals to Manchester’s fringe scene. The pair opened the 120-150 seater theatre and large cafe bar. The former engine room of the huge mill is now a 50-seater licensed cafe serving food and drink daily until 6pm, and until late during show nights.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

at Oldham Library Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

The theatre at Oldham library is a compact ampitheatrical space with the semi-circular performing area on floor level and the audience on a set of risers on one side. With this in mind, there should never be any sight issues, and the audience should always be able to see everything without difficulty. Not this afternoon.

 

This afternoon I was present to see Oldham Theatre Workshop's presentation of Peter Pan. Oldham Theatre Workshop is a local institution, and a byword for excellence in youth drama training. Started by David Johnston way back in 1968, the company take students from 6 years to young adults, and have their own studio next door to Oldham's library.

 

It has been a long time since I saw a production by these talented youngsters, and so I was looking forward to what they could do with the well-known and perhaps tired story of Peter Pan.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

at Pendleton Sixth Form College

Reviewed by Katie Leicester December 2017

 

As a theatre goer of over forty years and a theatre critic I have seen many professional, no expense spared productions, but I love nothing better than getting back to the roots where it all begins and watch the talent of today start on their first steps to stardom and Musical Theatre.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Until being asked to review this Musical, the name of Carole King was practically unknown to me - being just that little bit before my time, and not being a part of my musical grounding at school age. I therefore did what any sensible person should do in this case, and search the Web to find out. One of the great things about my job is not simply that I can indulge in my passion of theatre going and enjoying the spectacles before me, but I also learn a lot too.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Qdos Entertainment are back, and have not skimped on budget to bring you this year's thrilling SFX masterpiece. Costumes and set are wonderful and colourful, songs upbeat and catchy, music great, and the special effects and pyrotechnics are simply the best I have ever seen in any pantomime ever - including Rudolph pulling a sleigh out over the audience. Later on in the show, a large shark was doing the same, whilst the lovers have a lovely tableau in front of a giant Catherine Wheel.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Around The World In 80 Days

at The Lowry, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

In yet another adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, this time by Laura Eason, we went on a whistle-stop tour of the world as it was, or at least as it was romanticised as being, back in the days of Victoria and Empire.

 

This version was one whose target audience though was not the hardened mature theatre-goers like myself, but the tweens and youngsters who might well be coming to the theatre for the first time, and the way in which this company engaged this audience and made them feel safe before making them complicit and a part of the story was excellent.

 

I have been to something in excess of 100 pantomimes and even more children's shows, and rarely have I seen a cast able to 'work' the audience and slowly involve them more and more in the way this cast did, and for this evening's audience, which was made up in no small measure by majority younger generations, this was delightful and they loved it.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Gruffalo at The Lowry

by Tall Stories Theatre Company

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

A young child's modern classic, a book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tells the story of a small mouse who enters The Deep Dark Wood and scares off the mouse's natural predators by inventing a Gruffalo. To the mouse's surprise, the Gruffalo is real and wants to eat the mouse, until the mouse has the guile to show the Gruffalo that the mouse's predators are scared and they become friends.

 

Of course you have to be of Infant School age (4 - 6 years old) to truly enjoy these stories as that of course is their catchment age range, and for this afternoon's stage adaptation by Tall Stories Theatre Company, this age range and perhaps a little older formed the majority of the audience.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Eight

Eight at 53two, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Eight is a collection of monologues by writer Ella Hickson. The 'catch' with this presentation however is that the audience are asked to vote for which 4 of the 8 monologues they would like to watch before they enter the auditorium. We were given a short breakdown of each character and in true political fashion, asked to put a cross in the box next to our choice, and then deposit the voting paper in a box at the box office.

 

Those with the most votes got to perform that evening. This evening however, there were 9 actors, not 8, and we voted for 4 monologues and saw 5.

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Manchester theatre reviews

9 to 5 - The Musical

9 to 5 - The Musical

Produced by The Arden

at Waterside Theatre, Sheena Simon College

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Students on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course at The Arden (part of Manchester College) perform for the public twice a year, and their choice of Musical always surprises me.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Nativity! The Musical

Nativity! The Musical

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

OK, I admit it, it was wonderful! Produced by The Belgrade Theatre of Coventry, this is the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of the Musical version of a film I have never seen. I therefore went this evening with absolutely no prior knowledge of what to expect. I have one more admission too, as I sat in the theatre and looked at the very Christmassy set and listened to a stupid and twee voice-over asking us not to use our mobile phones. I then witnessed an awful introduction to the show, absolutely hating what I was watching for twenty minutes.

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