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REVIEW: A Judgement in Stone @ The Opera House, Manchester

A-Judgement-In-StoneI’m quite a fan of the odd murder mystery – Poirot, Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek are always sure to entertain.

Sadly this stage adaptation of Ruth  Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone does not fit into that category.

This was a tired production with a very limp script.  Adopted from the novel written in the early 70s, the tale of the events leading up to the murder of a posh couple and their two grown up children told through flashbacks, does not stand the test of time. Read More…

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REVIEW: The Snowman@ The Opera House, Manchester

snowmanmanc4JPGYou can tell Christmas is coming when the city’s lights switch on, when John Lewis launches its festive advert, and when the Snowman arrives in Manchester.

And this production, brought to the stage by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company aimed to please. Most of the youngsters who saw this festive music and dance extravaganza seemed impressed. Read More…

REVIEW: Spamalot @ The Palace, Manchester

Spamalot-057-Press-Copy-SMALLAs a fan of Monty Python, having been brought up on their diet of anarchic madness, I approached this production of Spamalot with some trepidation. 

I needn’t have worried. The show, which is basically a stage adaptation of the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is a superb tribute to the comedy team. It will certainly satisfy the die hard Python fans and will introduce a whole new generation to the genre.   

The style of humour won’t be to everyone’s taste and it sounds ludicrous that a group of people slapping each with fish and a King entering the stage on an invisible horse to the sound of coconuts can be funny – but it just is.  Read More…

REVIEW: Wipers Times @ Opera House, Manchester

38785_fullThis extraordinary tale of a group of soldiers who produce a satirical newspaper in the heat of battle in the middle of the First World War is the perfect tribute to the to the British Tommy.

The story sums up both the courage and humour which abounded amidst the conflict and the futility and tragedy of war. As writer Ian Hislop said afterwards in a Q and A with the audience it was the soldiers’ insistence on laughing in the face of death which made the story all the more incredible Read More…

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard @ The Palace Theatre, Manchester

38496_fullSunset Boulevard is one if the classic film drams of the twentieth century and the return to stage of Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation could not be more timely. 

The story of a fading film star of the silent era thrown onto the scrapheap by the emergence of the talkies – attempting to make a combat and cling on to her youth through an affair with a young writer, is remarkably prescient.

There is no casting couch in this story, but the message is clear that long before the Weinsteinns of this world polluted the movie industry, one only needed to gently scratch away the glitter of Tinseltown to find something deadly dark underneath, where every barman, waitress and young wannabe would do anything to get their big break in pictures.

Brought to life with incredible staging, the show faithfully recreates the movie magic made famous by Gloria Swanson and Joseph Cotton; and the Phantomesque theatrics and dark music, courtesy of Mr Webber are extremely effective.

Danny Mac also delivered as the struggling writer held in the thrall of ageing star and  Adam Pearce is superb as the devoted butler, Max von Meyerling, with a pitch-perfect performance.

But central to the show was the stunning  Ria Jones as the desperate and maniacal Norma Desmond. The standing ovation was entirely deserved and the close to tearful curtain call indicated the emotional investment in the role.

Runs till Saturday October 28

 

 

REVIEW: Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Palace, Manchester

Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was one of my least favourite musicals until I saw the Bill Kenwright production featuring the magnificent Joe McElderry last year.

And as the show returns to the Palace this week there is no sign that those numerous performances have made the X-Factor winner jaded in any way.

McElderry’s performance is just as strong, delivered with the same energy that has made this version of the  Lloyd-Webber and Rice classic such a winning formula.

McElderry is excellent as Joseph,showing why he won the X-Factor but also that musical theatre is his natural home. He is comfortable on stage delivering the comedy as well as the music.

But it isn’t all about Joe. A very strong cast throws everything at the audience with an energy and enthusiasm which is instantly infectious. Trina Hill is excellent as the narrator and Ben James-Ellis is a hoot as the Pharaoh. Read More…

REVIEW: Son of a Preacher Man @ Palace Theatre, Manchester

son_of_preacherThis is a superb celebration of the songs of Dusty Springfield held together with an original and convincing story.

Son of a Preacher Man is not a juke-box show purely for die-hard Springfield fans, although the excellent delivery of those classic tunes by a very strong cast is sure to please. Read More…

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