Lea Salonga may not be a name that sparks immediate recognition with the general public, but in musical theatre circles this woman is revered as an icon. Disney obviously agreed with this assessment when they awarded her Disney legend status; she was the voice behind both Mulan and Princess Jasmine in Aladdin. Add in the fact that she originated the role of Kim in Miss Saigon on both Broadway and in the West End and it is easy to see why the Manchester Opera House was brimming with anticipation this evening.

Of course, we will never know the conversations that took place between those sirens of the silver screen Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. We will never really know what they really thought of each other although from anecdotal evidence we can have a damn good guess!

Based on the life of playwright Andrea Dunbar (writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too), Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile gives Andrea the chance to tell her own story. Adapted by Lisa Holdsworth from Adelle Stripe’s ‘outstanding debut novel’ of Andrea Dunbar’s life, this play is a fictionalised version of events inspired by Andrea’s reality.

Many people are searching for the yellow brick road, a magic path out of the heartbreak of their lives. The idea of a magical escape is pervasive and if your life is full of darkness and danger then it becomes a dream, something on which to hold.

My first remarks must be about the venue. It’s been a while since I was at the Coliseum and whilst it has some new décor and different staff. One thing I still remember and that is its heart. The cheery “Hello” from the box office staff and the “Hiya” as the lady in the next seat gets past you. It’s delightful.

This particular Cirque de Soleil show was inspired by James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ and takes the audience on a journey through many different lands. It highlights various struggles and immense effort from the performers in each ‘new land’ and immediately creates an atmosphere of intensity for the audience from the outset. However, a feeling of intensity at a Cirque de Soleil performance was a surprise for me and not exactly what I was expecting.

Equality is something which is accepted and taken for granted these days – everyone wants and expects it, and nobody would dare suggest that any sector of society shouldn’t have it. It hasn‘t always been this way and in 1968, a group of female machinists at the Ford Factory in Dagenham, who had been regarded as unskilled workers, stood up to their (male) bosses and went on strike to demand equal pay.

When first staged in 1888, 'Miss Julie' caused a sensation in Strindberg's native Stockholm, with its exploration of sex, the class system and the tragic consequences of a brief 'upstairs/downstairs encounter.

The best type of theatre experience for me is when a production pushes boundaries, sending an audience out of its comfort zone and capturing the entire auditorium’s attention; the new play; Rotterdam by Jon Brittain does exactly that.