Once again I find myself going to see a Musical somewhat uncertain that it will be my cup of tea. I have only previously ever seen snippets of the full version of this Musical before, and I have been less than impressed. A world in which puppets and humans interact; where some puppets are human and some are monsters, and yet all live happily together in a very Sesame Street sort of way?! It all sounded too infantile, ridiculous, and dare I say too American for my tastes.

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The rarely performed but incredibly hauntingly beautiful Musical, The Secret Garden, based on the Frances Hodgson Barnett novel of the same name, is the latest offering from those talented folk over at Altrincham Garrick.

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It is always a pleasure to attend a production performed by aspirational young people who will one day seek to progress through the industry. It is an equal honour to be invited to preview a show with such strong story as #YOLO by Matthew Bulgo, with a well-recognised group such as CYGNETS, as part of the National Theatre's Connections Festival 2017.

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The Kindertransport (German for "children's transport") A play by Diane Samuels, which examines the life,  during the second world war and afterwards, of a child called Eva Schlesinger, who was one of the many children to be given safe passage from Germany to England to escape the Holocaust. Though fictitious, it's based upon real stories.

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s2smodern

Sheffield based theatre group Splinters, formed in 1989 to bring the very best of Sheffield's young theatrical talent together, ranging from age 14-30.  The group recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary and decided to invite ex members to take part in their production of RENT, under the name of Splinters25, which was performed at the Crucible Theatre studio in Sheffield's city centre & was a major success. This gave the Company the urge to give older ex-members another chance to take part in another huge musical.  Fancying something with a bit more of an edge and not your normal run of the mill musical, they decided on the hit musical ROCK OF AGES. 

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After seeing Manchester Musical Youth's production of "Les Misérables" last year, I was so impressed and awe struck, I chose not to see it in the West End earlier this year because as far as I was concerned, I'd seen the best production of it that I could ever see.

 

So...I was a little bit dubious about seeing "Legally Blonde" (having purposely avoided the film and the stage version) as, well, let's face it - it's about a blonde girl who shrieks a lot and there's a lot of pink in it.  Yet again MMY shoot down my preconceptions and completely knock it out of the park!

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The Almost Famous Company is a student run amateur company who perform both plays and Musicals in the university's own theatre; a small, but perfect and well-equipped stage with raked seating, seating I would imagine, around 150. The company however, does not only admit members from students on the university's acting and theatre courses, but membership is also extended to any current student of the university, no matter what they might be there to read.

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Spellbinding theatre at its best

 

Anthony Shaffer’s play is a myriad of twists and turns through a cleverly constructed framework of surprises which makes it a conundrum for a critic because to give any indication of the plot would only spoil your enjoyment of this superb production from Rainhill Garrick Society.

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Last year I ended my review of Fame by saying, “This was my first visit to Flixton Girls School, it certainly won’t be my last!” So, I was thrilled to be invited back to review this years’ production of Legally Blonde Junior. Once again, their welcome was second to none as I was escorted to my seat where I found the younger members of the chorus already seated on benches in front of the stage all wearing matching pink t-shirts.

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With a set to match the quality of The Brindley Theatre itself, designed by Mike Hall, Barbara Worrall’s production of Richard Harris’ Stepping Out, performed by Centenary Theatre Company, seemed disappointingly under-rehearsed.

 

As a well-established society nominated for numerous awards, I was underwhelmed by - stated in the programme - ‘the calibre and scale’ of such a production, with two members not portraying clearly defined characters in contrast to the personalities of the rest of the cast.

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I am not sure why, but the Gods certainly have it in for me. Every time I visit Oldham's boutique Lyceum Theatre, the weather is somewhat tempestuous. Most would undoubtedly see this as a bad omen; on the other hand I have now come to regard it as just the opposite, since once inside this underground treasure-house, one is always assured of a warm and friendly welcome, and the quality of the plays they produce never disappoints.

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