The Arden School of Theatre have started the new year off with a double bill of pieces from their Dance And Performance students.

 

The first piece, lasting just shy of half and hour, was a four-hander, and was actually much more a piece of devised theatre than dance, which I feel sure, must have taken its four participants somewhat out of their comfort zone and challenged them in new and exciting ways. These were 3rd year students Jay Willis, Leanna Harford, Josie Osbourne and Rebecca Wellum, who using a mixture of fantasy, reality and dream, took the audience on a rather distopian Orwellian nightmare. Or at least that was how it started! With use of pre-recorded voice-over and mime, we were shown the four inmates of this institution and their quotidian lifestyle.

The Pendleton School of Performance And production Arts in Salford is a 6th form college catering for that interim between O levels and university, and catering especially for those who are wishing to take their theatre or media studies further and make a career from them. There are various 'majors' within the school, and this evening we were entertained by the Musical Theatre students.

Students of the 6th form college for Performing Arts took to the stage tonight for the first of their season of extracurricula public productions, the junior version of Elf (A Musical based on the popular film).

 

With a running time of just over one hour and performed through without interval, this was a high energy fantastical romp for Christmas. For those who don't know the story, then we start in the North Pole in Santa's workshop, and all the elves are busy making presents. There is one elf however how is much taller than the rest, and we soon learn the reason for this, he is a human and his family live in New York. Cut to NYC and the meeting with his family and of course nothing goes as expected, and chaos ensues. However, if we would all just believe in Santa Claus and spread a little Christmas happiness, all will work out just fine.

Manchester City Ballet, the name of the company performing classical ballet, is part of the training given by one of the UK's leading ballet training schools, attracting students from all over the world, Manchester's own The Northern Ballet School. And how lucky that they occupy a building with it's own beautiful Art Deco theatre on which to present their labours of love, The Dancehouse Theatre.

La Vie Parisienne, or in English, Parisian Life, is a light-hearted comic opera by French composer Jacques Offenbach. It tells of the lusty, sexual, and sensual desires of eligible bachelor men and married women; married men and Moulin Rouge dancers; and also highlights most clearly the French attitude at that time of he English, as they become the main focus and centre of a lot of their humour.

The third and final production this year from The Manchester School of Theatre took us to Donegal, and the small loch-side town of Buncrana during the Second World War. More specifically to the kitchen of a beach-side house owned by the West family.

 

On entering the auditorium, the first thing that strikes you, in fact the only thing to strike you, is the magnificence of the set. Designed by Olivia Du Monceau, this was absolutely lovely. A wooden house with the kitchen open to the audience, and the beach and sand around. It was the attention to detail though which truly impressed.

It is always a pleasure for me to visit the productions performed by Arden School of Theatre, and this will now be the third full scale Musical I have watched in their own theatre space, the Waterside in the Sheena Simon Building. Their Musical productions are always a little on the raw side, and when, as was the case with Ragtime, it would have benefited from a more lavish set; the bare minimalist set and 'studio theatre' feel worked very much in this Musical's favour.