REVIEW: 20th Century Boy @ The Opera House, Manchester

The life of glam rock icon Marc Bolan is celebrated in this musical which visits the Opera House as part of a tour marking 40 years since the star’s untimely death.

The show charts the progress of the musician from childhood through his rise to stardom, descent into hedonism to his death in a car crash.

There is an attempt at portraying Bolan’s cocky swagger and a desperate desire to make it to the top while showcasing those memorable seventies tunes.

And there is no doubt that the music is the show’s biggest strength. George Maguire manages to capture the essence of Bolan in some impressive performances.

Unfortunately, the glue that holds it all together – the script – is sadly lacking. The drama is often quite laboured, lacking energy and quite clichéd at times.

John Maher’s original script was developed with additional material from Nick Graham and Colin Giffin. Perhaps it’s a case of too many cooks, because it didn’t work for me.

There was sometimes a cringey, amateurish feel to the production with clunky scene changes and an odd set design.

That said, it was still an enjoyable night out, but it could have been so much better. Perhaps the producers would have been better off playing to their strengths and presenting a straight tribute act show.

Runs till Saturday April 21

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REVIEW: Of Mice and Men @ The Opera House, Manchester

Many people are familiar with John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men either as admirers of the American literary giant or having studied it at school.

The story is centred around the unlikely coupling of George and his mentally disabled companion Lenny – a gentle giant unaware of his own strengt.

They are bound together by a mutual dependence and both harbour an unattainable longing for a utopia in which they will have a place of their own, where they will rear chickens, tend rabbits and live off the the fat of the land.

Steinbeck is rightly revered as a champion of the downtrodden and oppressed giving a voice to the poor and migrant workers of the American dustbowl.

You might say that you can’t go wrong with the the classic ingredients of a Steinbeck story – but you can if you mess about with those ingredients.

I’m not sure whether it is the result of the interpretation in this production at the Opera House or whether it was down to Steinbeck himself, but there were some strange departures from original text.

Fortunately the heart of the play, which relies on the relationship between exasperated George and his companion is not lost.

And the performances by Richard Keightley (George ) and Matthew Wynn as Lennie are touching, with well crafted portrayals of the elderly Candy from Andrew Boyer and Crooks from Kevin Mathurin

But Curly’s Wife, trapped in a world she is desperate to escape, is given new lines and different edge to her character that doesn’t quite fit. Rosemary Boyle does well with what she’s been given in this production, but what she’s been given is not the Curly’s wife I remember. In this version before the inevitable tragic encounter with Lenny, she has suitcase in hand and is ready to leave. But the Curly’s Wife I know would never leave. She is trapped.

But although this show could have been better in my view, it maintains the heart and soul of Steinbeck’s story and is certainly worth seeing.

Runs till Saturday.

New management team takes over at Wythenshawe Town FC

Wythenshawe Town FC have appointed a new management team at Ericstan Park. James Kinsey and Daniel Whiteside take over as First Team and Assistant Managers

James Kinsey and Daniel Whiteside take over as First Team and Assistant Managers

at the club and will be in charge for the game against Altrincham FC Reserves on Saturday.

The pair join Town from East Manchester FC, currently in third place in the Premier Division.

Chairman Kenny Hope said on the club’s website: “I am delighted with the qualities of our new management team, they have the qualities needed to take our club forward. James and Daniel are both very passionate, full of hunger and are determined to take Wythenshawe Town to the next level.”

With skills gained from managing the Manchester County FA team, as well as involvement with the management teams at Stalybridge Celtic and New Mills AFC, Kinsey brings with him vital experience of North West football.

“I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead a club that has such huge potential. It was a difficult decision to leave East Manchester at this point in the season but once I had sat down with the club it quickly become apparent that this is a club that wants to go far, which made the decision easy. We have an excellent set up here and everybody who works tirelessly behind the scenes has big plans for this club to climb the football pyramid.” said Kinsey.

“It is now down to myself and my team to match that desire on the pitch and I’m sure we will reach the targets that have been set. We will look to bring in a couple of new faces and get some wins in before the season finishes. I’ll also be adding Daniel Whiteside to my coaching team as my assistant who is an instrumental part of all that I do. We have worked together a lot in the past and I believe we can hit the heights that have been set. I can’t wait to get started.”

Youngsters fly the flag for Wythenshawe in dancing championships

dsc_0716.jpgEight youngsters are flying the flag for Wythenshawe this week as they compete in the World Irish Dancing Championships.

The eight girls known as the Pink Ladies are members of the O’Reilly Academy of Irish Dancing and are in Glasgow for the prestgious contest.

They will be competing against dancers from across the world.

Sinead O’Reilly took to Facebook to wish her girls good luck and to rally support to get Wythenshawe behind them.

She said: “To our Ceili Team we are so very proud of your passion, commitment and never ending dedication. An incredible bunch of young people to be around and that just adore what they. Good luck to our fellow dance friends all over the world.”

O’Reilly’s Academy of Irish Dancing, teach a range of classes for boys and girls from aged four upwards.

They meet at St Anthony’s Parish Centre on Portway on Tuesdays and at St Andrew’s Methodist Church Hall, Brownley Road on Fridays at 6pm.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Miss Saigon @ The Palace, Manchester

MISS SAIGON. Ashley Gilmour 'Chris' and Sooha Kim 'Kim'. Photo Johan PerssonThis must surely be the show of the season at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

The lavish sets and a breathtaking staging matched by pitch perfect performances by a magnificent cast makes for a truly stunning production.

It is not just the iconic helicopter scene in Miss Saigon, when the Americans make their humiliating retreat from the devastated South Vietnam city, that makes this show linger in the memory.

In true Cameron Mackintosh style, there is nothing out of place. Every cast member makes a vital contribution and is on point.

And the dominant themes in the story of power, love and loss are hammered home in every line and every note.

In a retelling of the opera, Madama Butterfly, the musical tells the story of young Kim, a 17-year-old girl who flees her burning village to Saigon where she takes a job in a bar and brothel, ran by the infamous Engineer – a schemer with his eyes set on a new life in the USA.

Kim  meets Chris, a US Marine. They fall in love but their happiness is short-lived, and when Chris returns to America. There follows Kim’s quest to be reunited with her love, who unbeknown to him, fathered her son, Tam.

MISS SAIGON. Red Concepcion 'The Engineer'. Photo Johan Persson (2)Red Concepcion is faultless as the slippery Engineer, with a performance that evokes both revulsion and sympathy. His rendition of The American Dream is real show stopper.

Sooha Kim also excels as Kim with a skillful performance delivering a beautiful interplay with Ashley Gilmour’s Chris, matched by in incredible vocal range.

Runs till May 12

 

Woman jailed for four and half years for manslaughter of Wythenshawe man

A woman has been jailed after the death of a man in Wythenshawe.

Michelle Ingham, aged 47, of Maismore Road, Wythenshawe has been jailed after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Around 1pm on Thursday 24 August 2017, a woman arrived in a taxi at Maismore Road to visit her friend but was immediately approached by Michelle Ingham who told her that her boyfriend was dead.

The woman rang for an ambulance and made her way to the flat where 47-year-old Kai Prothero was laying in the bedroom, unresponsive.

Under the guidance of the call taker, the woman performed CPR and a short time later, a paramedic attended to find blood and smashed crockery in the hallway.

He made his way to the bedroom where there were clear signs of a disturbance and blood on Kai’s face.

He was pronounced dead shortly before 1.10pm and a post-mortem examination revealed Kai’s death was a result of numerous stab wounds.

Ingham was arrested at the scene and has remained in custody ever since.

She has now been jailed for 4 years and 6 months.

Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe of GMP’s Major Incident Support Unit, said: “Losing a loved one in these circumstances is devastating and something no family should have to go through.

“My thoughts are with Kai’s family today, as they have been since the start of the investigation.

“My hope is that today will give them some comfort, knowing the person responsible for taking Kai’s life is in prison.”

Manchester College names new building after much-loved former student, Kirsty Howard

DSC_0201The Manchester College  named their Wythenshawe site Howard House in an official VIP naming ceremony earlier today (23 March), in honour of former student and prolific fundraiser Kirsty Howard.

 Kirsty’s family were VIP guests at the ceremony and unveiled the plaque announcing the new name of the recently-refurbished site to guests from the community, staff and local MP Mike Kane.

 At the ceremony, Francis House Children’s Hospice was named the Group’s charity partner of the year in honour of Kirsty and was presented with a cheque for £5,000 to kick-start their fundraising efforts.

 

Phil Taylor, Director of the Kirsty Club and speaking on behalf of Francis House, said: “Thank you to the LTE Group for its very generous donation which will have a huge impact on the charity. Naming the building Howard House and fund-raising for Kirsty’s charity of choice is a wonderful tribute to her memory.”

 The LTE Group has recently invested over £1.5m in upgrading the facilities at Howard House, which first opened in 2010, to house over 160 staff from the Finance, Health and Safety, HR, IT Services and Marketing and External Relations teams. The move has helped to consolidate group operations teams and promote closer collaborative working.

 Wythenshawe and Sale East MP Mike Kane attended and spoke with the family, staff and students. The Labour Shadow Schools Minister said: “I’m delighted to have been invited here today. LTE Group’s investment in Howard House, and the surrounding site occupied by The Manchester College, represents a significant investment in Wythenshawe.

 Today has also been an opportunity to remember and celebrate the life of Kirsty Howard. Speaking to Kirsty’s mum and dad I know they are very proud of their daughter’s achievements, not only as an unbelievable charity fundraiser but as a student at The Manchester College. Naming this building ‘Howard House’ will serve as a fitting and long-lasting tribute to Kirsty.”

 The investment forms a key part of the Group’s estates strategy and its vision to transform the way it delivers leading post-16 education, training and skills.

 John Thornhill, Chief Executive of the LTE Group said: “The Manchester College is incredibly proud to have supported Kirsty in her studies and we’re honoured to name the building Howard House, to reflect her connection to us and the local area.

 “We will also be using the occasion – and other events throughout the year – to raise money for Francis House in her memory, including entering a team of LTE group runners in this year’s 10k Great Manchester Run on Sunday 20 May.

 “Kirsty was, and continues to be, an inspiration to many in Manchester and she remains a fantastic example of the values which we encourage in our colleagues, students and learners.”

 To learn more about LTE Group and The Manchester College, visit their respective websites:www.ltegroup.co.ukwww.tmc.ac.uk.

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