Tag Archive | Manchester Opera House

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: The Band @ The Opera House, Manchester

The cast of The Band, credit Matt Crockett

Pic: Matt Crockett

Take That fans, prepare yourselves for something you’re not going to like. You won’t like this review much, but I’m sure you’ll love The Band, a show featuring the music of that iconic boy group.

I have to admit I came to this show with fairly low expectations. I’ve never been a massive Take That fan, and I thought the X-Factor-style TV show which searched for five lads to star in the show was an afront to Saturday night TV. Read More…

REVIEW: George’s Marvellous Medicine@ The Opera House, Manchester

georges-marvellous-medicine-by-birmingham-stage-company-photo-by-mark-douet-_80a8139For any child who is a bit down in the dumps or for any adult fed up with the news at the moment, George’s Marvellous Medicine is the perfect tonic.

Roald Dahl’s classic story about an amazing youngster who  accidentally comes up with an incredible invention when trying to teach his disgustingly grumpy granny a lesson, is beautifully brought to life at the Opera House.

Adapted by David Wood, the country’s leading children’s playwrights, the show is one of Dahl’s funniest and most exciting stories all about a young boy who makes a marvellous new medicine to cure his grandmother of her terrifying temper.

But when his grandmother drinks his special new potion the results are explosive and the most incredible things begin to happen – it’s the start of George’s amazing adventure!

There is lots of raucous fun, featuring giant chickens, giant grannies and oodles of outrageous over-the-top antics to keep children entertained between the ages of 4 and 100.

Ed Thorpe is excellent as George, and Debroah Vale is superb as the obnoxious Grandma and the special effects are simple but impressive making for a show which does justice to Dahl’s genius.

 

REVIEW: Heartbeat@ Opera House, Manchester

Carly Cook, Erin Geraghty & Matt Milburn (1)Manchester Opera sees the staging of ITV’s sedate Sunday night drama Heartbeat brought to the stage, which will undoubtedly delight fans.

It is a nice relief from the high octane dark themes of Marcella and Happy Valley. This charming production is like a comforting  warm nostalgic hug  rather than the punch in the face you get from the aforementioned programmes  (brilliant though they are).

For some, the production may be a little too sedate, but it is an excellent recreation of the hit TV cop show set in the the Yorkshire Dales in the late sixties, which had viewers glued to their sets. Read More…

REVIEW: Chicago @ The Opera House, Manchester

CHICAGOThere is no doubt that this Opera House production of the smash hit musical, Chicago, has pulled out all the stops to give audiences all that jazz… and more.

The show fizzes with energy and faultless performances from every cast member from chorus line to leading characters.

 

Based on real life observations of Chicago Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins in the roaring 1920s,  the show tells the story of nightclub singer Roxie Hart who shoots her lover and  cell block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, who fight to keep from death row with the help of sliver-tongued lawyer, Billy Flynn. Read More…

REVIEW: King Charles III @ The Opera House, Manchester

Robert Powell in King Charles III UK Tour. Credit Richard Hubert Smith.jpgIt was a bold and ambitious project to attempt a modern history play exploring the characters of our current royal family as well as what makes our constitution tick.

There will be those snooty enough to turn their noses up at the audacity of dabbling in Shakespeare’s form and no doubt some will be outraged at this imagining of the shaky transition between the reign of Elizabeth and that of her successor.

But writer, Mike Bartlett has pulled off a remarkable feat of producing a weighty yet accessible play which is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

And Salford-born Robert Powell is excellent as the troubled monarch finding his feet in his new role as he awaits his coronation, wasting no time in hurtling head-long into a constitutional clash with the government.

The play has all the ingredients of a Shakespearean tragedy – a lofty, some might say intransigent, figure set up for a devastating fall, told in verse, with plotting and intrigue and the appearance of a ghost.

The trouble starts when the conscience of the king prevents Charles from giving the royal assent to a bill guaranteeing a statutory right to privacy and a shackling of press freedom. The subsequent stand-off between a parliament determined to exercise its democratic mandate and a king bound by a sense of duty and what is right, leads to a crisis which threatens the future of the monarchy.

But this is not a crusty worthy tome about the British constitution. At the heart of this play is a clash of characters and ideals. It is is about duty, family and betrayal.

And no-one should be put off by the fact the drama is acted out in verse. The form serves to emphasise the weight of history and tradition but in a style which is contemporary and accessible.

These lines are delivered by a very strong cast with a convincing performance by Ben Wrighton as Prince William who is torn between loyalty to his father and a sense of duty to the future of the monarchy.

This is well worth a look.

Dave Toomer

Runs till Saturday March 12

 

 

REVIEW: Let It Be @Opera House, Manchester

image003There’s a blast from the past at the Opera House this week as the music of legends of pop, the Beatles, is celebrated in a hit-packed show.

The  show charts The Beatles’ meteoric rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, through the height of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces. Four boys from Liverpool who went on to change the world.

If you’re a Beatles fan and expecting a decent performance from a good tribute band paying homage to those timeless classics, you will be satisfied.

But if you want a  more than that and a strong narrative which tells the story of the Fab Four you will be disappointed. I fall into the latter category and after seeing the imagination put into the staging and presentation of productions like Thriller Live, this show seemed a little flat for me.

That said, there were plenty of people in the first night audience who lapped it up and there is no doubt that the performers are very accomplished musicians providing some superb renditions of those now legendary tunes.

Paul Mannion’s guitar solo in While My Guitar Gently Weeps stood out as a highlight of the show and the magnificent effects in Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was another show-stopper.

It’s worth a trip if  you know what to expect. The show is basically a  concert with some bells and whistles.

Runs till Saturday March 5.

By Dave Toomer

 

 

 

 

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