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Wythenshawe Cricket Club wins CAMRA accolade

Wythenshawe Cricket & Sports ClubWythenshawe Cricket & Sports Club, in Northenden, has been named Club of The Year 2018 by Stockport and South Manchester Campaign for Real Ale.

Welcoming the accolade, Club Chairman Mike Dean, has thanked staff and officials who w promoted and worked on their annual beer festival which featured many local and speciality breweries  held at the end of September last year

Mr Dean said on club website: “Well done to Anthony Sherratt for the initial organising of the festival before his retirement and to all our members who support the club throughout the year.

“A great accolade for a great local community club that serves outstanding Cask Ales the whole year round, why not come down and sample some of our great ales which include the very popular Manchester Pale Ale (MPA) we’d love to welcome you here to join in our success and our community.”

The club has a busy year planned including a Valentine’s Day Evening with live entertainment, a Mothers’ Day Launch. More details on their website.

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REVIEW: Arsenic and Old Lace @ Northenden Methodist Church 

For those familiar with Arsenic and Old Lace, it is usually the classic film starring Cary Grant which springs to mind.

This makes bringing the story to the stage somewhat of a challenge for any theatre company. 

But it has to be said that the Northenden Players have pulled it off with aplomb, with a production which rivals some professional efforts I have seen. 

For the benefit of those not familiar with the story, originally penned by playwright Joseph Kesserling, it tells the tale of two sweet old ladies whose mission it is to help sad, lonely old souls escape the sorrows of the world by slipping arsenic in their elderberry wine and burying them in the cellar.

They are aided and abetted in their madness by their barmy bugle playing brother Teddy, who is convinced he is Theodore Roosevelt. Caught up in all this is Mortimer Brewster, who appears the only sane member of the family and attempts to protect his aunties with hilarious results. 

With twelve bodies buried in the cellars the plot thickens when Mortimer’s long lost criminally insane  brother Jonathan arrives with a thirteenth.

It all sounds completely bonkers. It is, and it’s brilliant. 

Rosemary Mark and Lesley Bowers are superb as the two nutty sisters with expert comic timing and Robin Bell also makes a wonderful Teddy.

John Wheatley also delivers the laughs and the menace as Jonathan and there is a lovely interplay between him and plastic surgeon sidekick Dr Einstein played beautifully by Tim Collier. 

At the centre of it all Ben Thomas is very good as Mortimer, delivering some of those classic lines, my favourite being “madness runs in our family, it practically gallops.”

This is a wonderful pre-Christmas treat and you just have to time to catch it . The last show is tonight Saturday December 16 at Northenden Methodist Church Hall on Victoria Road.

Dave Toomer 

REVIEW: Evita @ The Palace, Manchester

Evita-at-Palace

Madalena Alberto as Evita

It was stunning performances by a strong cast that made this production of Evita, a show worth watching.

But seeing for the first time the Rice and Lloyd-Webber take on the woman who battled to escape the obscurity and poverty of her life as a struggling actress to become the spiritual leader of the nation – it simply confirmed my prejudice that the musical theatre legends are really not all their cracked up to be. Read More…

REVIEW: A Christmas Carol @ The Bolton Octagon

Marc Small       Pic: The Other Richard

A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic tale of of redemption which is familiar to almost everyone. It has been done so many times that it is a brave person indeed who decides to attempt to bring it to the stage and make it fresh.

But it is mission accomplished for the Bolton Octagon team who have managed to pull off something quite remarkable for their Christmas production this year.

Bolton writer, Neil Duffield, who adapted the Charles Dickens masterpiece for the stage, is no stranger to children’s productions – and it shows. There is the perfect blend of Dickens’ dark message, playful humour and festive spectacle which makes this just right for children of all ages.

The structure of the story brings a freshness which delight the audience. Dickens’ words come spinning at us through the decades and are remarkably apt. If I’m not mistaken Duffield adds some themes of his own about Scrooge’s cruel observations about the homeless “choosing to sleep” in shop doorways.

The staging is wonderful with some marvellous effects which don’t go over the top and Ben Occhipinti’s direction brings a pace to the the story which has you glancing your watch when we reach the interval, thinking “is it that time already”

Marc Small is excellent as the dour despicable miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, haunted by four ghosts whose task it is to make him see the error of his ways.

We are so familiar with the story we know the outcome, but it is what we encounter on the journey which makes this show such a joy. Special mention has to go to Sue Davaney whose portrayals as the Spirit of Christmas Present, the Charity Lady and Mrs Fezziwig are forces of nature.

A real treat to get you in the festive mood.

Runs till January 13.

Dave Toomer

REVIEW: Cilla the Musical @ The Palace Theatre, Manchester

downloadThe incredible story of the rise to stardom of the nation’s favourite, Cilla Black is brought to the stage at the Palace Theatre in Manchester this week.

And the show is the perfect tribute to one of Liverpool’s finest daughters who made it to the big time from humble beginnings on “Scotty Road”. Read More…

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…

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