On Thursday 21st April 2016 Queen Elizabeth II will have her 90th birthday. In celebration of this event York Musical Theatre Company presented Happy & Glorious as a tribute to the longest-reigning British monarch. This semi-staged ensemble production took a wide selection of songs from the musicals of the last ninety years and cleverly created a fun and varied show.
Arriving at Liverpool's St George's Hall, I was transported to Philadelphia in the 1970s as soul superstars, The Three Degrees took to the stage. Dressed in some of the most sparkly frocks I've ever seen, they looked every bit the part and sounded it too, with great voices and hitting notes, other groups can only dream of. The band has had many members over the years (15 to be precise) but has always been a trio, and the trio of talent currently comprises of Original members; Valerie Holiday since 1967, Helen Scott since 1976 and the newly joined Freddie Pool since 2011.
It’s impossible to review a show at St Georges Hall without mentioning the venue itself, especially the concert room which is where the performance took place. The architecture is absolutely stunning, and the grandeur of the room just hits you immediately. Almost every person who entered the room automatically did a scan of it, taking in the sheer beauty of the environment, in particular the ceiling décor and chandelier.
On to the main event, and the entrance of the musicians. They entered the stage one by one, beginning to play their instruments on arrival, until all of them were on stage and taking part in the opening number. It was a fantastic start to the show, and prepared you for the spectacle that was to follow for the evening.
Up On The Roof celebrates the wonderful music of Carole King and James Taylor. With songs such as: Up On The Roof, You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman), Handyman and You’ve Got A Friend it's the perfect show for any fan of these incredible artists. Accompanied by a fantastic 6 piece band and showing a real enthusiasm for the songs made the night a one to remember!
Dan Haynes and Pete Richards make up "Bookends" - a Simon and Garfunkel tribute. Although they bear no physical resemblance to Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon, all you have to do is close your eyes and you can honestly believe you are listening to the real thing.
The show comprises Dan and Pete singing but it is interspersed with video footage of Simon and Garfunkel and a narrative providing us with interesting information about them and a potted history of their partnership and rise to success. It was a nice supplement to the evening's entertainment.
It has been over three years since I first had the pleasure of seeing MASTERS OF THE HOUSE; four distinguished West End actors whose credits include Les Misérables, The Phantom of The Opera, Evita and Mamma Mia. My first instalment of this fabulous foursome came about after seeing posters around Hertfordshire some years ago for an upcoming one night performance at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage. The posters promised an evening of well-loved show tunes so, being a huge fan of musicals I was quick to book front row stall seats months in advance. I was slightly worried at the time that the theatre was rather sparse with audience members and suddenly felt vulnerable in the front row. But from the moment they came on the stage and started performing some spine tingling renditions of every bodies favourite show tunes, by the end of act one I was desperate to follow this wonderful foursome around and eagerly tried to keep a watchful eye for upcoming performances without any success and I even started to wonder if they were still performing. Fast forward to the present day and I was utterly ecstatic to see a poster in what is now one of my local theatres just before Christmas and was determined I was going to attend, come hell or high water!
If you expect a tribute to look like who they are portraying, sound like them and even perform like them than Magic: A Kind of Queen is not the tribute act for you. Maybe this is why the first thing we see on the screen at the back of the stage, the words, ‘this is not a lookalike performance’ is given as a warning and stating the obvious when they walk out onto the stage! Whilst they do state that they do not attempt to emulate Queen visually on their flyers, it’s apparent by audience reaction (looking at one another with puzzled expressions and hiding their giggles) that many are not aware of this.
In order to do full justice to this one hour lunchtime concert, I first need to try and explain a few things....
1. What and who is The Michael Kahan Kapelye?
This the Manchester University Music Department's own Klezmer Ensemble. The ensemble is named after the prominent Manchester musician Michael Kahan who performed in both the classical and klezmer genres and was tragically killed in 2008. The ensemble was formed in 2011 by course tutors Ros Hawley and Richard Fay, however the ensembles reforms each year choosing a new set of students to come together and develop this perhaps somewhat unfamiliar style of music, so far removed from classical, to perform regularly throughout the city, especially at The Manchester Jewish Museum.
Tonight at Manchester's Opera House, I'm waiting for Meatloaf. As the curtain awash with moving lights drops, Meatloaf is revealed, although this meatloaf has less hair and has developed a Mancunian accent; but he does have two important things in common with the real Meatloaf, he can sing as well as the man himself and he knows how to entertain a crowd. This is Steve Steinman's Meatloaf, a tour dedicated to the greatest hits.
Most Meatloaf fans will be very familiar with Steve Steinman, most famously for his appearance on TV's 'stars in their eyes' over 20 years ago, since then, Steve has performed all over the world and I was rather excited to see tonight's show.
According to the limited information on the University website, Manchester University Big Band was formed in 2004 "to give students the opportunity to play large ensemble jazz to a very high standard".
High standard is right – I was quite amazed by how talented this 17 piece band are.
As a novice to the Jazz world but a keen admirer of the art form itself, I was anxious but thrilled to be attending ‘RNCM Big Band with Clark Tracey’. The event took place in the modern and beautiful large theatre the Royal Northern College of Music and seemed to be the perfect venue for a performance of this kind. The set to the show unexpected, I was surprised to see a set for a Jazz Big Band but it surely did add an area of professionalism and also helped to tell the stories behind the music. It was beautifully designed and showed some deep thought had been put in to make it relate to the performance.
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