The show has Kenwright written all over it, literally – with his beloved Everton football club emblazoned on the set.
And who can begrudge him that in a show which bristles with energy, fun and tragedy, exploring the concept of nature versus nurture?
Penned by Merseyside playwright, Willy Russell, the story centres around twins separated at birth but drawn together throughout their lives by fate, with tragic conclusions.
Lyn Paul, who some may remember from the 1970s pop group the New Seekers, gives a powerful performance as the long-suffering working class mum, Mrs Johnstone, forced by circumstances to give up her son to middle class employer, Mrs Lyons, desperate for a child .
The promise that Mrs Johnstone can see her son every day is quickly broken, but the two boys lives are intertwined bringing together two very different worlds.
Sean Jones is particularly excellent as Mickey. We watch his progress with class division there for all to see from encounters with police in his youth to the harsh realities of adulthod. While his brother Eddie goes to university and ends up with a position on the council’s housing committee Mickey is thrown onto the scrapheap.
There are certainly tear-jerking moments but this is a show which is full of energy. The songs are a bit corny and there is no shortage of clichés in the dialogue but this show is more than the sum of its parts. It is well worth a visit.
Runs till May 26th
This 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.
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
The Sound of Music is at the Palace Theatre this week and is sure to have fans of the timeless musical singing along to those classic tunes.
This tale of love blossoming between novice nun Maria and the frosty Captain von Trapp when she arrives as governess to his children has been a regular festive favourite in Christmas TV schedules and is now beautifully brought to the stage with impressive and lavish sets and high production values.
It is based on the true story of the von Trapp family singers who fled Nazi-occupied Austria as political refugees.
After a slightly underwhelming start to the show when it would have been nice to have seen a little more personality from the nuns ruminating about how to solve a problem like Maria, the production picks up with some delightful performances by the children.
Lucy O’Byrne does well as Maria, delivering those familiar tunes with aplomb. Neil McDermott seemed to struggle as the Captain in the first half of the show with some of his singing being drowned by the music, but his performance grew on me and he did much better after the interval.
The interval came following a truly show-stopping performance of Climb Every Mountain, by Megan Llewellyn in the role of Mother Abbess. It was magnificent.
Acclaim should also go to Kara Lane and Howard Samuels who excelled in the roles of the Captain’s prospective wife Elsa and impressario Max Detweiler. Neither would be out of place in Hollywood roles.
Overall, a charming production which is well worth a visit.
Runs till Saturday March 17
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…
The 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…
As 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…
Sunset 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