Something magical happens the second I enter Preston’s Charter Theatre and it's great. A green land of countryside is evoked with the sounds of crickets and birdsong against a flowing river. Hats off to the sound design, provided by Jack Hubbard and Jack Rodriguez in this production of Wind in the Willows by Preston College’s Performing Arts.
Going to see Shrek in Blackpool with my sister in law and 10 year old nephew and 14 year old musical-mad niece, we were all feeling pretty excited. After all, it’s a hilarious film with loveable, quirky characters and generally a good time. Sadly, that didn’t quite translate onto the stage.
Legally Blonde the musical opens with a high energy number as sorority girls cycle around the stage. Expressing their excitement from learning that their friend Elle Woods has just got engaged to her boyfriend Warner. However the majority of the audience are all too aware this isn’t the case.
Brian Conley is at any price the greatest entertainer judging by audience reaction this evening at the Charter Theatre, Preston and is warmly welcomed from the moment he steps out onto the stage. Conley had this evening’s audience in the palm of his hand, his charisma and stage presence oozing as he launched into his comedy routine.
Another week, another jukebox musical at the Grand. And, like those old-fashioned jukeboxes, I was desperately waiting for another slice of vinyl to drop onto the turntable. It may feature a whole raft of sublime songs made famous by Dusty Springfield, but this show stops and starts like a well-worn 45 with a bad scratch across its grooves.
East Is East is a key British movie which at first glance appears to be a light-hearted look at a dual heritage family struggling to find their place but this very timely revival of Ayub Khan Din’s play reveals a much darker heart despite plenty of laughs along the way.
A splash of colour brightened up a quiet corner of the theatre foyer as I arrived for the performance – two multi-coloured tickling sticks adorned a table which also contained a book of condolence, open for members of the audience to add their tribute to Ken Dodd, a great supporter of the Grand.He was a consummate showman who wasn’t averse to a natty costume or two – and he even had several hit records. The same can be said for Marc Bolan, dead at 29 and still much missed. His music lives on though, and this show weaves much of Bolan’s back catalogue through a cobbled-together story of his life.
As a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley I was really looking forward to this show which is currently touring the UK and starring Canadian Steve Michaels as Elvis. Michaels has had international success performing as a tribute artist to the iconic star and has shared a stage with the legendary Jordanaires and Sweet Inspirations who recorded and toured with Elvis for many years.
With coach-loads of people queuing to get into the Grand Theatre, Blackpool this promises to be a great evening for Country music lovers and there was a buzz in the air even before the show started.
Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ must be on everyone’s list of classical favourites, so the Locrian Ensemble, which specialises in baroque music, have placed this much-loved piece at the centre of the programme they are currently touring. The ensemble, dressed in period costume, offered the audience at Blackpool Grand a menu of early classical hits, including Bach’s Air on a G string, Handel’s music for the arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon – and, inevitably perhaps, Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’.
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