Tag Archive | Opera House Manchester

REVIEW: Strangers on a Train @ The Opera House, Manchester

strangers-on-a-train-theatre-royal-glasgow-1It was always going to be a big ask to bring Patricia Highsmith’s tense psychological thriller to the stage and this production doesn’t quite pull it off in the way that Alfred Hitchcock famously did on the silver screen.

There is much of merit in the show, with some effective mood lighting and innovative use of sets, but the pace and direction lets it down and it is certainly a play of two halves.

The story is based around the consequences of a chance meeting on a train between  Guy Haines, an ambitious architect and alcoholic wreck, Charles Bruno. In a drink-fuelled stupour, Bruno comes up with  a hypothetical plan, where he would to murder the wife Haines is about to divorce in exchange for Haines killing Bruno’s father.  When Bruno unexpectedly keeps to his side of the bargain, pressure is applied for Haines to deliver, thus providing the main premise for the drama.

But prior to the interval, the dramatic action is laboured, slow and frankly quite boring.  When you don’t care that much about the fate of the characters, you know something is wrong. However, maybe some-one had a work in the break, because the pace picked up in the second half culminating in the dramatic conclusion at the end.

Chris Harper as Bruno and Jack Ashton as Haines deliver reasonable performances although there are one or two instances of the audience perhaps laughing when they shouldn’t as Bruno becomes increasingly psychotic.

Overall, not a terrible night at the theatre, but one that is distinctly underwhelming.

Runs till February 10



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: 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: Bat Out Of Hell, The Musical@ The Opera House, Manchester

The cast of BAT OUT OF HELL - THE MUSICAL, credit Specular (3)

Photo: Phil Tragen

This much anticipated stage show based on the classic Jim Steinman album has been hyped for months prior to it’s opening at the Manchester Opera House. So what can we say about Bat Out Of Hell?…

Wow… Just Wow.

Does it live up to the hype? The hype doesn’t do it justice.  It doesn’t come close. Read More…

REVIEW: Aladdin @ The Opera House, Manchester


Ben Adams as Aladdin 1 Credit Phil Tragen.jpg

Pic: Phil Tragen

Panto season is well and truly upon us, and this year’s offering at Manchester Opera House – Aladdin – is a festive treat for all the family.


With fantastically lavish sets, fun-packed frolics, a smattering of stage magic and some songs to get the toes tapping and the hands clapping, this show is a hit with kids of all ages.

Right from the off, the show provides the near-perfect blend of lots of fun for the kids and a flurry of gags the adults can enjoy, although one or two were a little cringey – referring to male dancers as pansies. Maybe that should stay in the 1970s.

Bu there is plenty to enjoy from John Thomson’s nod to his Jazz Club character in the Fast Show to the sing song with some children from the audience near the end and a mention for groups across Manchester who were there on the night, including Newall Green Brownies.

Pop star Ben Adams from boy band A1 is excellent as the poor boy who makes it good after rubbing a magic lamp unleashing the all-powerful genie. And Cold Feet star John Thomson is the perfect villain, Abanazar, whose evil machinations get the kids booing.



Pic: Phil Tragen

Sherrie Hewson also shines as the Genie of the Ring and magician Neil Henry wows the audience with his skills making a birds and rabbits appear while providing a comedically sound rendition of the hapless Wishee Washy.


But the undoubted mainstay of the show is Eric Pott’s Widow Twankey. Every comic line is perfectly timed and the show is a triumph for Potts who directs as well starring in the production.

It’s great fun so bring the family to the Opera House to complete your Christmas

Runs till January 8 2017



REVIEW: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing @ The Opera House, Manchester

lisa-dillon-leah-whitaker-paige-carter-rebecca-collingwood-in-rsc-cfts-loves-labours-lost-photo-manuel-harlan-40The Royal Shakespeare Company is in town with two productions of its highly acclaimed interpretations of two of the bard’s funniest plays.

And if you’re new to Shakespeare and are worried the whole thing will go over your head, you shouldn’t. This is Shakespearean comedy as it was intended – brash, entertaining and hilarious.

It is now generally accepted that Much Ado is the “missing” work referred to as Love’s Labour’s Won a romance linked to Love’s Labour’s Lost. Read More…

REVIEW: Rocky Horror Show @The Opera House, Manchester

_rop0812The outrageous Rocky Horror Show returns to Manchester and it’s better than ever.

Having experienced Richard O’Brien’s infamous show for the third time, i have to say this is the best version I’ve seen, even surpassing the 40th anniversary production.

The the Usherette’s opening homage to sci-fi classics to the show’s fabulous finale, a close to impeccable cast hardly put a foot wrong.

In case you don’t know, the show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank N Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their former college professor. It is an adventure they’ll never forget.

Like me, you might not be brave enough to don the fancy dress – stockings and suspenders – which has long been a tradition of a show which prides itself on attracting a very lively crowd – but I would defy anyone not to be Timewarping before the final curtain.

rocky_proshot4That lively audience is very much the equivalent of the twelfth man in football, shouting out lines a quips, adding to the atmosphere. Charlie Condou’s narrator bore the brunt of most of the interjections and coped with it quite well with some retorts and ad libs – although at times the exchanges bordered on the irritating.

But I’m nit-picking. This show is a class act, with Liam Tamne brilliantly doing justice to the wicked tranny genius Frank-N-Furter, strutting about the stage like he owns it. Richard Meek and Helen Flaherty are similarly excellent as Brad and Janet and Kristian Lavercombe is commanding in the role of Riff Raff.

But a special mention has to go to Dominic Andersen, who was cast in the role of Rocky – the product of Frank’s attempt to create the perfect male specimen. But in addition to his obvious assets, the boy can act too, bringing to life what is quite a difficult part.

The icing on the cake are some stunning sets and superb choreography.

If you’re a fan of the show already you won’t be disappointed by this production. If you’re not, you’ll be hooked. Catch it while it’s still in Manchester.

Runs till Saturday October 29

Dave Toomer


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