The Nutcracker is at the heart of the English National Ballet. Wayne Eagling’s Nutcracker is the 10th production that the company has done and is full of new interpretations, exciting choreography, elaborate, breath-taking set designs and beautiful costumes.

With a title part-taken from an Emily Bronte poem about defiance, No Coward Soul, written and performed by Emily Parr, is a one-woman tragicomedy about coping with modern day life as a cynical romantic, striving to survive alone in the midst of a painfully amicable divorce, and raising that question time immemorial: why must everything be so difficult?

Giuseppe Verdi’s 1851 opera Rigoletto is based on Victor Hugo’s notorious play ‘Le roi s’amuse’ which was banned after only one performance in 1832 for causing offence to both public morality and political sensibility. Verdi’s re-telling thankfully got past the censors to provide a three act play which exposes the counter-morality at play in society.

This week, Make it Write Productions has put on Start Square, a new play by Sharon Colpman. Start Square tells the story of Arthur Watts and his struggles in life after his wife leaves him. When Dorothy Fry appears on the scene, secrets start to be revealed.

Opera was slow to catch on in England during 17th C and Rinaldo, composed by George Frideric Handel with libretto prepared by Giacomo Rossi, was the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage in 1711.

Family and trust are central themes in Will Cooper’s powerfully emotional new play from Grin Theatre Company. Performed at VideOdyssey (formally Toxteth TV) in Liverpool, the play finely balances the story of a family torn by a shared truth that threatens to overwhelm and consume everything they hold dear.

Constellations is an astounding text. Contemporary and received with universal acclaim on a global scale, it’s easy to see the attraction to staging this work. Fortunately, although What We Did Next’s production of the play fails to reach the heights this text is capable of, it is appropriately adventurous, explorative and avoids doing itself a disservice like so many amateur productions of this play have done before.

L’elisir d’amore (the elixir of love or love potions) is a comic opera in two acts by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti with libretto by Felice Romani. Written in 1832, today it is one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti’s operas. Since its first showing in 2007, Annabel Arden’s staging of this heart-warming romantic comedy has become a staple in the Glyndebourne repertoire and was a great way to mark their return to Liverpool after a forty-year absence.

Uncommon Women and Others is Wendy Wasserstein’s classic play exploring the place of women in the changing world of 1970s American society. Telling the story of a group of friends at Mount Holyoke College, a Seven Sisters School, the play opens with a reunion between some of the friends and then proceeds to flashbacks showing their time at the College.

Despite its long run in theatres I have to admit that I have never actually seen this very popular musical based upon the book of T.S. Eliot and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Although familiar with a couple of the songs I have no idea of the storyline so I was very much looking forward to this production with the youth of the Rainhill Musical Theatre Company.

LUST return to the Stanley to kick this academic year of productions off with Little Shop of Horrors. Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of Seymour and his discovery of a blood thirsty plant, Audrey II. It has a great book packed with plenty of laughs by Howard Ashman and brilliant music by Alan Menken.