Mr Darcy must be one of literature's most romantic figure; a masculine, heaving hunk in a wet shirt and tight cream pants. The Question is... How does Mr Darcy end up in 'Rebecca', so to speak? Not the sort of a question I thought I would be pondering on a Wednesday night.

Established in 1999 'Beyond the Barricade' is a musical theatre review in concert style. It stands out from the crowd for a couple of reasons, the first as every note is sung and played live. Secondly, the show features only 'Les Misérables' principles, bringing with it a wealth of industry talent and experience.

To give the performance it's full title, The Amazing Adventures Of Pinocchio, one would imagine a fantastic Arabian Nights style show. However this is Hard Graft Theatre Company, and this year's budget must have been tight since it was not even a patch on last year's fayre.

 

A simple curtained screen and two moveable flats were used throughout for different purposes. The silhouette work was good, and the turning round of the two flats worked well. It was simple but sufficient.

The Emperor & The Nightingale is a tale set in ancient China about an Emperor who wants everything, including things he can’t have and a beautiful Nightingale who teaches him how to open his heart and love.

 

This adaptation has to be one of the best I have seen of this production; it added real humour to the play which had the audience laughing throughout.

In a very original adaptation of the perennial favourite fable of The Snow Queen; Little Pixie Productions came to Oldham's intimate and welcoming Library Theatre for one performance only before embarking on a small tour and returning to Manchester to play at Hope Mill Theatre between the 12th – 17th December.

Some show titles produce an earworm and this is a prime example. Every time I mentioned its title to a curious acquaintance, I'd end up with Here Comes Santa Claus on a loop in my addled brain.

 

I say addled, because two off key productions in a week is more than a little unfortunate – and this one is certainly not hitting all the high notes.

As the nights draw in and even Blackpool Illuminations go dark, sitting in front of the telly or streaming a movie can sound like a mighty good idea – why go out into the cold and damp when you can be entertained from the comfort of your armchair?

 

At this time of year, it takes something special to drag folk to the theatre – so, judging by the healthy-sized audience at the opening night, it appeared The Shawshank Redemption was doing everything right. It's based on a well-loved movie after all, and boasts three very familar faces in pivotal roles.

I bet we all know someone, you know the miserable one, the one that moans about everything, the one so self centred that they can't see how their actions could affect others, the one who complains about Christmas and all it entails, the one you call Scrooge and buy the 'Bah Humbug' hat for at Christmas (could this be you?) ..... I suggest this year you buy them (or yourself) a ticket for this wonderful musical and just maybe everyone will begin to see how with just a small gesture the happiness they could bring and be part of.

Rehearsal for Murder adapted for the stage by David Rogers and written by Richard Levinson and William Link (writers of TV's Murder She Wrote) is presented by the Classic Thriller Theatre Company, a new venture for Bill Kenwright after a decade of plays touring with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.

I almost feel guilty when admitting to not being a particular fan of William Shakespeare but after watching this performance of The Winter's Tale presented by the Octagon Theatre and University of Bolton this evening, I can honestly say that I can see the attraction. This production directed by David Thacker is totally captivating from the start and has an extremely talented cast.

'Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue I Can Sing a Rainbow' (well nearly)..... oh wait that's a song of the fifties and wasn't included in this show, hardly surprising as this is a musical set in the 60's but the fabulous cast of Shout! certainly shone as colourful and bright as a rainbow at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool this evening.