Due to make its Liverpool premiere later in the year, War Horse visited the city today to give a specially invited audience a chance to see how the mechanics of the show work, meet some of the people who make the show what it is, and ask any pondering questions to some of the expert puppeteers/actors.

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On Saturday 28th January people will get the chance to find out more about the performers, plays and behind the scenes plans for the Everyman Company season. The Hope Street theatre will be opening its doors to give a unique opportunity for people to see how their plans are shaping up with cast, writer and director Q&As, music, backstage tours and interactive activities.

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Tis the season for launches of the exciting news seasons of theatres up and down the country but where better to preview a sensational new season than the North West?

 

The beautifully ornate auditorium of The Grand Theatre in Blackpool played backdrop to the theatre’s 2017 Spring/Summer season press launch, attended by members of the media, trustees, supporters, performers and a few other special guests. With refreshments and a buffet, attendees entered through the stage door straight onto the boards trod by many a personality and variety act and were given the opportunity to mingle and use iPads to read of the forthcoming season.

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TeenStar, the UK’s only competition exclusively for pre-teens and teenagers is now open for entries, whilst currently receiving a surge of applicants and hopefuls.

 

With all past winners having gone on to have extensive success (X Factor’s Luke Friend and Emily Middlemas, winners in 2013 and 2014)- and also Rachel Ann, the winner for 2015 who went on to be picked for Ricky Wilson’s team in The Voice last year.

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Carolyn Maitland will join Bill Kenwright’s production of the timeless story of love, despair and hope, GHOST - THE MUSICAL, in the part of Molly alongside Andy Moss as Sam. Taking its inspiration from the classic movie, this innovative reimagining features an expanded book, new music and original staging, and will continue to tour the UK in 2017, starting at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford on 17 January.

 

Carolyn’s musical theatre credits include ‘Ellen’ in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre), ‘Joelle’ in Groundhog Day (Old Vic), ‘Rose’ in From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre) and ‘Kate’ in Kiss Me Kate (Old Vic, West End & Chichester).

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2017 sees the 50th anniversary of many iconic moments in Liverpudlian cultural history, one of those is the coming together of Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri – The Mersey Sound. One of the best-selling poetry books of all time, the bicentennial celebrations begin at the Liverpool Playhouse on Saturday 28th January with Roger and Brian performing a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems set to music.

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I was intrigued to discover that Liverpool Network Theatre were putting on the Peter Shaffer double bill of White Liars and Black Comedy at the beginning of February, two plays designed to sit together but often attracting critique - even Shaffer had three goes at writing White Liars. It was therefore with some pleasure that I got to meet up with not one but two directors - Andy Kerr and William O'Neill - and their ‘shared’ assistant director/production manager, the ever-delightful Sandra Tschackert.

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A Dark and Atmospheric Murder Mystery heralds the New Year

 

Carlton Players open their New Year at the Little Theatre in Birkenhead with a production of Agatha Christie’s ‘Love From A Stranger’. Not knowing too much about this piece, I was pleased to meet up with director Elaine Louise Stewart who informed me that the play is in fact a 1936 stage adaptation by Frank Vosper of a short story by Agatha Christie, ‘Philomel Cottage’, which dates from 1924. It was described at the time as a ‘brilliant terror play’ and which led to some stage, film, and radio adaptations in the 1930’s and 1940’s, including a run on Broadway. A little more research reveals a further radio dramatization in 2002 and a couple of low-key stage productions but then the trail, in true crime-writing style, goes dead and it is left to Stewart to put me out of my misery and provide an overview of the story.

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After his success and enhanced exposure on the latest series of The X Factor, where he got through to the Bootcamp stages under Sharon Osborne, twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Wilkins was invited back to perform at the live final in Wembley Arena and will now be presenting his first headline gig in his hometown.

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North West End was once again thrilled to be invited over to Sheffield to witness the final stages of rehearsal for Manor Operatic Societies annual pantomime which is set to be performed at the magnificent City Hall in Sheffield from the 27th December until the 8th January 2017. This year they are presenting Jack and the Beanstalk, and from what we saw in the rehearsal room it is set to be their biggest ever production.

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Friday 10th - Saturday 18th February 2017

 

Celebrating LGBT History Month in Manchester.

Tickets from £3 plus free events and exhibitions.

 

2017 is an important year in British LGBT history as it marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the Wolfenden Report that recommended that homosexual activity should no longer be a criminal offence. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

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