It is exciting visiting the theatre to watch a new musical, and it is brave for a company to perform a new musical, as they don’t often bring in the large audiences as the more classic and well known musicals do. This week Huddersfield Musical Theatre Company has taken on the challenge of performing the original UK production of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and with it only having opened in the West End of London in 2014 the musical is still fairly unknown. However, the show is based on the 1988 film of the same title, and the film is known for the hilarious comedic performances of Michael Caine and Steve Martin. I think it was these hysterical performances in the film that has helped Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ success, as the West End run was then followed by a tour of the UK in 2015.

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Written at the end of 'The Book Musical' era, before the popularity of through-sung, 'Rock Operas' really hit, this Musical is traditional in every sense. It has both overture and entr'acte; a flimsy storyline with quite ordinary dialogue leading up to songs a-plenty; good characters versus bad, with good winning the day; and of course, a dog! But what is it about THIS Musical that has made it remain a perennial favourite whilst others have been and gone without so much as a second glance?  Of course, it's a very heart-warming and life and love affirming story featuring young children. It's also a very 'real' story in the sense that such orphanages did actually exist [although I doubt they had quite such a dreadful Mistress as Miss Hannigan], and the time and place are historically accurate. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President, and he did announce a 'New Deal' to help turn the economy of the USA round; and he did have amongst his staff a certain Harold Ickes; and Louis Brandels was the Associate Justice to The Supreme Court. So there was something there that the American public could definitely relate to.

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The very title of this play brings sniggers......... 'what? You are reviewing a vagina?' laughed my husband, 'No way do I want to listen to stories of vaginas' said another friend, even I decided against asking my mother to come with me feeling sure I would be embarrassed by the topic in her company, so I was more than surprised, but equally delighted, when my 20 year old daughter said she would come with me this evening. I admit to feeling out of my comfort zone just by the very title...the vagina, it's not your everyday topic of conversation now is it? Everything I say seems to relate to a vagina this evening. 'an intimate atmosphere', 'a touchy subject', 'do you need a hand' when taking off my coat asks my daughter which leaves us laughing at the double entendre.

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With a rousing opening rendition of Dolly Parton’s iconic '9 to 5' as the company of Nogal Productions take to the stage and with great choreography this promises to be yet another amazing production from an amateur group. Founded in 1984 by Garry Norris and Sue Gallagher this local award winning theatre group fundraise for special needs students integrated into the community. Tonight’s performance is supported by a wonderful invited orchestra under the direction of Gill Streatfield.

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Altrincham Garrick's latest offering is the hit play, The History Boys, by one of Britain's finest living playwrights, Alan Bennett. Although this is not Bennett at his best, and the play is really quite long, there is still the trademark biting humour, the battling with sexuality, and the feeling that the common man has more about him than those wielding the power.

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Ok, I'll say it... I'm crazy for you!! Stockport Operatic Society (Amateur) have produced an absolutely first class show from start to finish and, with the Plaza's narrow stage notwithstanding, was a huge undertaking to fit so much set (and two cars!) on their stage leaving room (just!) for the wonderful choreography and story to flow.

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Tonight, Meighan Youth Theatre Productions (MYT) presented us with an evening jam packed full of songs from a total of 29 different musicals.   There was no MC, just performance after performance with no pause in between songs (very smoothly done I have to say).

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In HOME's Theatre 2, a smaller studio theatre, Manchester School Of Theatre presented their first play this season with their third year students. The chosen play, David Hare's The Blue Room was a rather odd choice I thought, not least because it is one of Hare's lesser known and rarely performed works, but also because it is really a series of duologues which are connected only by one actor continuing into the next.

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'I can't fight this feeling' of utter joy. What a show! From the second the house lights went down we were transported to the Sunset Strip and into Dennis Dupree's nightclub, the Bourbon room. Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical bursting with songs from the 80s, including Cum On Feel the Noize, We Built This City, Here I Go Again and the show stopping Don't Stop Believing. It tells the story of Drew, a boy from South Detroit and Sherrie, a small town girl, chasing their dreams of making it big and falling in love.

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South Manchester AOS's (SMAOS) latest production is the Broadway hit, West End flop, but most definitely Z-Arts hit, The Drowsy Chaperone.

 

The Drowsy Chaperone is a play about a Musical, a fictional Musical which we see played out on stage, interrupted by the play. It is a post-ironic, retro-modern satire on the Musical Theatre genre of the Broadway of the 1920s; and it uses an actor, in present day (the play), playing the audience a record of the Musical, which unfolds, hallucination-like, in front of our eyes in this man's own apartment; which he comments on throughout, interacting with - as much as one can interact with an apparition - well I think you get the idea!

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It is quite difficult to comprehend that Manchester Musical Youth (MMY) are only two years old! In the last 24 months they have set new standards in youth performance, not only in full musical productions but countless concerts. Their reputation in Manchester now makes a ticket to one of their shows a highly sought after prize and I was honoured to have been invited to see their 2nd anniversary concert at Oasis Academy in Salford Quays tonight.

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