Sensitive, Hilarious & Emotional – Poet’s Take On Dementia

Playwright, Frances Poet, has a wonderful ear for northern dialogue that translates beautifully to her latest play, Maggie May: a caring, humorous and emotionally heart-wrenching take on dementia. My dad suffered from the same affliction but, despite the perceived tragedy of this ‘disease’, we once found ourselves rolling in the aisles at ‘Jimmy’s’ hospital after he dramatically shouted ‘duck’; we all did. “My God,” he said, “that train just missed you!” Seconds later, ‘normality’ returned! And that is dementia, so beautifully articulated…

The Cher Show – Three Cheers For Cher!

What a fabulous show! Written by Rick Elice and directed by Arlene Phillips, The Cher Show tells the story of Cher’s spectacular rise to fame from humble beginnings living in California to the global stardom she now enjoys. The show races through the decades charting Cher’s strengths and vulnerabilities, whilst highlighting her complicated relationship with Sonny and the eventual breakdown of their marriage, the constant pressures that inevitably accompany fame, her new found relationships, and of the millions earned, lost and…

Joe Pasquale Returns To The North In Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

Hilarious mishaps and DIY disasters are bringing the house down, quite literally, as Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em hits the road with Joe Pasquale (New Faces, I’m a Celebrity, Spamalot, The Producers) as the lovable accident-prone Frank Spencer, written & directed by Guy Unsworth the adaptation of the hit TV show is coming to Blackpool. Betty has exciting news for Frank, but he’s preoccupied by possible newfound fame as a magician. With guests arriving for dinner and crossed wires all around,…

Interview With Debbie Kurup - The Cher Show

The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame, flying in the face of convention at every turn. This new production features a fresh take on her show-stopping costumes which earned her the title of 'the ruler of outré reinvention'. In a dazzling glitterfest sparkling with Cher’s signature wit and style, the music features her biggest hits, including If I Could Turn Back Time, Strong Enough, Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, The Shoop Shoop Song, I Got You

Charles Brunton Talks To Us About Bedknobs And Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is winging its way north and makes a final appearance at the Sunderland Empire before the show closes. When the three orphaned Rawlins children are reluctantly evacuated from wartime London to live with the mysterious Eglantine Price, they have no idea what adventures lie ahead. Discovering Eglantine to be a trainee witch, they join forces to search for a secret spell that will defeat the enemy once and for all. Armed with an enchanted bedknob, a bewitched…

Interview With Steve Coogan Ahead Of The Alan Partridge Live Tour

After 13 long years, the one and the only Alan Partridge is back on our live stages. Not that Norfolk’s beloved son has been idle in the interviewing years. Far from it. There have been published memoirs (the first of which was I Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan), a film (Alpha Papa), a web series (Mid Morning Matters), documentaries (such as his caustic look at the state of Britain in Scissored Isle), a podcast (From The Oasthouse) and,…

Mikron Theatre Company Celebrate 50 Years Of Touring

The celebrated Huddersfield theatre company Mikron Theatre is set to continue its 50th anniversary celebrations this May with the premiere of Red Sky At Night, Lindsay Rodden’s (Here, Northern Stage and Curious Monkey) new play about the everyday topic we all talk about – the weather. Through the chronicles of history, people have gazed up and marvelled at the mysteries of the weather. Generations have tried to master the elements and understand the magic of the skies. Hayley’s sunny, beloved dad…

Reviewing The Osmonds - A New Musical

They sold over one hundred million records, their posters were displayed on many a teenagers' bedroom wall and they were probably one of the first American boy bands, yet up to now there has never been a musical to tell their official story. It is narrated by Jay Osmond, played by Alex Lodge, about his five brothers from Utah, pushed into the spotlight as children and who went on to create a series of smash hit records. The audience hear of the…

A Roar Of Praise For The Lion King

An exuberant, confident and magnificent Lion King strode into the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, this week with a stentorian roar. Behind came a tumultuous entourage of elephants, zebras, antelopes, giraffes and cheetahs emerging from the stalls in a parade and blaze of colour, clamorous sound and technological wizdarary that would put Harry Potter to shame. The weather may have been cooling down outside but the inspirational set, music and performers warmed the cockles of the heart of the mixed aged audience if…

Graham Clark Chats To Emma Price From Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director Carlos Acosta promises entertainment for all ages when he brings an explosion of Spanish sunshine, spectacular dance and vivacious comedy to the Sunderland Empire. In a new production created especially for Birmingham Royal Ballet, Don Quixote introduces the audience to Cervantes’ famous knight himself, lovers Kitri and Basilio, and a host of supporting characters.…

Phoenix Dance Theatre Mark 40 Years

Phoenix Dance Theatre present their exciting birthday programme at Leeds Playhouse this week. To celebrate their milestone 40th birthday they are bringing together a range of work from across the Company’s illustrious history, culminating in a special celebratory gala. 40 Years of Phoenix features an eclectic selection of work by internationally acclaimed, award-winning choreographers, including former Artistic Directors and collaborators. Artistic Director Dane Hurst says: “The 40 Years of Phoenix programme encapsulates the depth, breadth and complexity of dance in…

Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical Roars Into Stockton Globe

After a multi-million pound refurbishment Stockton’s 1931 Art Deco theatre The Globe, staged the first week long musical since the building re-opened back in the autumn. Tastefully restored to its former glory I was impressed with the sight lines, the comfortable seating with good leg room and the predominantly green decor of the 3,000 seater venue. Shows do not come more bigger, bolder and brash than Bat Out Of Hell. Based on the songs of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman the…

Interview With Joanne Clifton Who Is Touring With The Addams Family Musical

Joanne Clifton is probably best known for her time on Strictly Come Dancing. The Lincolnshire born star is now appearing in the smash hit musical comedy The Addams Family which visits the north of England this spring and summer. The tour opens at the Bradford Alhambra. I asked Joanne about the musical and her career to date. What drew you to the role of Morticia? When we were younger my brother and I used to watch the TV…

The Lemon Table – A Bittersweet Treat

The Lemon Table offers its audience sixty-five glorious minutes of unadulterated Ian McDiarmid, probably better known for his role as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars series. McDiarmid has selected two monologues from Julian Barnes' 2005 book of short stories The Lemon Table, both of which explore what it is to grow old. Both monologues feature an older man and, at first sight, that is all they have in common; but, as the story unfolds, other parallels and perspectives emerge. Geoffrey,…

Interview With Dr Ranj - Bradford’s New Panto Star

Dr Ranj is a well known TV personality as well as still being an NHS Clinician working on the frontline. He makes his Bradford pantomime debut at the Alhambra Theatre alongside Billy Pearce, playing the Royal Doctor in Sleeping Beauty. Is the pantomime in Bradford your first one to appear in? Interestingly, this is the second pantomime that I have appeared in, though there has been a massive gap in between this one in Bradford and the last one I was in,…

Review: Atalanta Forever At Piece Hall

There are several natural symmetries in Mikron Theatre’s latest production, which opened against the Italianate backdrop of Halifax’s Piece Hall on Wednesday night. As we emerge from our own toxic ‘Annus Horribilis’, Atalanta Forever is an utterly persuasive reminder of another period of immense social turmoil in the immediate wake of the Great War. Taking as its focus, the then, for many, reprehensible notion of ladies’ association football, Amanda Whittington’s fiercely intelligent play re-imagines the tortuous beginnings of Huddersfield’s own Atalanta…

The Book Of Mormon Is Laugh Out Loud Musical Heaven

The Book of Mormon debuted back in 2011 and immediately became a buzz musical. The hype surrounding the comedic prowess of the Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone satirical exploration of the beliefs and missionary message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints built quickly and it is today regarded as one of the finest contemporary comedy musicals. With the West End production still proving as popular today as when it opened in 2013, the UK and…

Alone In Berlin In York

The ironies of life, its bizarre coincidences, habituations and twists of fate never cease to amaze. Dreadful things seem destined to happen, the whirligig of time bringing in its revenges and spreading paranoia. Last night a palpable pall seemed to hang over York Theatre Royal even before the doleful play began. Based on true events, Hans Fallada’s Alone In Berlin is a harrowing novel, its subject matter necessarily dispiriting, with no ray of hope other than the indestructibility of the human…

Upon The Stair At Harrogate Theatre

Upon the Stair is a classic horror storytelling in three parts - the sort that beguiles and intrigues and doesn't let you go until your thirst for a resolution has been slaked. The three stories are about three lost souls bound to a cursed book - The Cry of the Bubák, Mirrorman and The Xylotheque - are all dark, gothic, ghostly tales told by writer/actor Adam Z Robinson, actor and BSL (British Sign Language) performer Raffie Julien and, on-stage with the…

Northern Broadsides Quality Street. A Delightful Confection

"Jane Eyre goes to the Panto" might be an unkind summary of Laurie Sansom's first outing as Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides, nonetheless it is a reasonable shorthand. J.M.Barrie's original piece is called Quality Street, and it was so popular in its day that that its name was used by the chocolate manufacturer Mackintosh, from Halifax. Characters from the play were used regularly in the early advertising for the chocolates and the film and stage versions remained hugely popular from the…

seeds At Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre

Shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, seeds comes to Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre next month as part of a UK tour. Sensitively written by Mel Pennant, it tells the story of two mothers united in sorrow, unable to escape the tragedy and violence of knife crime. Together, they try to face the hardship of protecting their sons – one in life, and one in death. On Michael Thomas’s birthday, his cake sits in his mother’s living room, its candles burning undisturbed. Jackie…

Barnstorming Premiere At The SJT

The Red Barn Murder, as the popular press would call it in 1827, was one of those capital crimes that gripped the public of Jane Austen’s time and became part of a culture that lived on for generations. The village, Polstead, Suffolk, where the murder took place quickly became a tourist attraction and the barn, where Mary Marten’s body was discovered, was haunted by souvenir hunters. The particularly gruesome nature of the killing and the manhunt for the murderer shocked…

Newbies Give Joseph Fresh Impetus

Considering that Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat has successfully been pedalling its wares since 1968, I think it is fair to say that reviews can no longer be about the musical, more about those nervous actors who are charged with stepping into the main roles! How do you judge a libretto, score and production in its own right when audiences, the ultimate critics, have been returning time and again for more than half a century, to watch this light-hearted, feelgood look…

Overblown But Enjoyable - Spirit Of The Dance

David King, producer of Spirit of the Dance, has a nice line in modesty, referring to himself as ‘the working man’s Andrew Lloyd Webber’ on the company website. In fact, there are more flattering adjectives about the show in each paragraph of the site’s digital copy than Dr Johnson probably has on each page of his daily diary: breath-taking, runaway express train, powerful and so the list goes on. But then, Mr King probably had a hand in penning the copy! My…

A Dignity That Outwitted The Holocaust

Dr Janusz Korczak lived his life in a state of permanent dignity despite having to suffer the horrors of the Warsaw ghetto and transportation to Hitler’s death camps. But, by following an unwritten code of humanity based on a philosophy of ‘right and wrong’, this noble writer, doctor, storyteller and persecuted Polish Jew, left a legacy that continues today, despite perishing at the hands of the Fuhrer’s Nazi henchmen. He was the man who ran an orphanage in the Polish capital, said…

Triumph Of Priestley’s Timeless Drama of Conscience

If youth is wasted on the young then let us hope that Priestley’s classic thriller, An Inspector Calls, is not, for this brilliant piece of drama – a permanent fixture on many school syllabuses - can be seen at its finest in Bradford’s Alhambra this week. Set in 1912 Edwardian England but, interestingly, first staged in Moscow because Bradford’s famous son could not find an appropriate venue in Britain, this crushing indictment of unaccountable greed, power and social division, leaves you…

Zombie Attack In Leeds (Playhouse!)

Nowadays it may seem like a movie that is best left in 1968, but dismiss George Romero’s iconic horror flick – Night of the Living Dead - too quickly, and you ignore a ground-breaking film that was key to shifting the public psyche away from Hammer horror, where something terrifying had to have two bolts through its neck or a pair of blood-sucking fangs! So, I was intrigued, and a little excited, at the prospect of seeing Imitating the Dog’s ‘Remix’…

The Teletubby Magic of Opera North!

Getting lost in Leeds is one of the unique pleasures of Christmas…..especially if your wanderings take you to the confines of your imagination! Father Christmas no longer has world domination over childhood dreams for there is a new contender on the block…………Opera North! This premier classical orchestra, so often locked in the confines of challenging operatic scores, every now and then steps into a lighter world, and how good they are at it! This year Prokofiev’s charming tale of courage and compassion –…

Snow White – Big Bucks But Tiring Format

Bradford Alhambra’s pantomime has become a love affair between its main protagonist, Billy Pearce, and his adoring public, but how long this marital bliss can last is questionable. The UK’s premier panto producers, Qdos, re-book Pearce year after year for one reason and one reason only: he continues to pack ‘em in and the audience love him so I have little doubt that it will sell out, for now at least. However, this singular personality-led approach, adopted by so many theatres, is,…

No Sleeping Through This Beauty!

The accents were thicker than Yorkshire pudding doused in gravy which only served to make the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, even funnier, as Hester The Jester waded into the baddie with more force than a Barnsley miner on the picket line! The evening was a competition to see who could get more gags in about Hebden Bridge, Saddleworth Moor and the perils of taking a bus ride to Mirfield alone! And that’s what made this a great ‘local’ pantomime, full…