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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Qdos Entertainment are back, and have not skimped on budget to bring you this year's thrilling SFX masterpiece. Costumes and set are wonderful and colourful, songs upbeat and catchy, music great, and the special effects and pyrotechnics are simply the best I have ever seen in any pantomime ever - including Rudolph pulling a sleigh out over the audience. Later on in the show, a large shark was doing the same, whilst the lovers have a lovely tableau in front of a giant Catherine Wheel.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

at Event City, Trafford Park

Reviewed by Katie Leicester December 2017

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… well this is certainly true at Event City in Trafford Park. Winter Wonderland is back for its fifth year with live theatre, a circus, fairground stalls, arcade attractions, gifts stalls, fairground rides and of course with the one and only Father Christmas and his glittering elf helpers there is literally something for all ages. For the thirsty adults, there is a well-stocked bar, which has a great range of wines, spirits and beers and of course the infamous hot mulled wine to enjoy whilst soaking up the Christmas atmosphere. There is also an abundance of stalls selling some fantastic foods and sweet treats to satisfy most palates This is the fourth year I have visited Winter Wonderland with my family, and this year the ‘Kingpin Events’ have excelled themselves with plenty of new attractions and fantastic performances.

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Manchester music reviews

Cendrillon at RNCM

Cendrillon at RNCM

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

French composer, Jules Massenet was a prolific opera composer, and so as part of the Royal Northern College of Music's French Connections Festival, what better way to celebrate the festive time than with his take on the seasonal classic, Cinderella (Cendrillon in French).

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Manchester theatre reviews

Around The World In 80 Days

at The Lowry, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

In yet another adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, this time by Laura Eason, we went on a whistle-stop tour of the world as it was, or at least as it was romanticised as being, back in the days of Victoria and Empire.

 

This version was one whose target audience though was not the hardened mature theatre-goers like myself, but the tweens and youngsters who might well be coming to the theatre for the first time, and the way in which this company engaged this audience and made them feel safe before making them complicit and a part of the story was excellent.

 

I have been to something in excess of 100 pantomimes and even more children's shows, and rarely have I seen a cast able to 'work' the audience and slowly involve them more and more in the way this cast did, and for this evening's audience, which was made up in no small measure by majority younger generations, this was delightful and they loved it.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Gruffalo at The Lowry

by Tall Stories Theatre Company

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

A young child's modern classic, a book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tells the story of a small mouse who enters The Deep Dark Wood and scares off the mouse's natural predators by inventing a Gruffalo. To the mouse's surprise, the Gruffalo is real and wants to eat the mouse, until the mouse has the guile to show the Gruffalo that the mouse's predators are scared and they become friends.

 

Of course you have to be of Infant School age (4 - 6 years old) to truly enjoy these stories as that of course is their catchment age range, and for this afternoon's stage adaptation by Tall Stories Theatre Company, this age range and perhaps a little older formed the majority of the audience.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Eight

Eight at 53two, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Eight is a collection of monologues by writer Ella Hickson. The 'catch' with this presentation however is that the audience are asked to vote for which 4 of the 8 monologues they would like to watch before they enter the auditorium. We were given a short breakdown of each character and in true political fashion, asked to put a cross in the box next to our choice, and then deposit the voting paper in a box at the box office.

 

Those with the most votes got to perform that evening. This evening however, there were 9 actors, not 8, and we voted for 4 monologues and saw 5.

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Manchester music reviews

Carols By Candlelight

Carols By Candlelight

at Manchester Cathedral

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

An annual charity event run by Henshaws, a charity which helps partially-sighted and blind people in Greater Manchester gathered a large crowd and support this evening for their Carols By Candlelight.

 

Set within the ancient splendour of Manchester Cathedral, the music sounded magnificent un-amplified, resounding off the high vaulted roof, especially now with their new show-piece Stoller organ, which I was hearing for the first time this evening.

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Manchester theatre reviews

9 to 5 - The Musical

9 to 5 - The Musical

Produced by The Arden

at Waterside Theatre, Sheena Simon College

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Students on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course at The Arden (part of Manchester College) perform for the public twice a year, and their choice of Musical always surprises me.

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Manchester music reviews

The Kalinka Youth Balalaika Orchestra

The Kalinka Youth Balalaika Orchestra

at Royal Northern College Of Music

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

A yearly event around the beginning of December, and St. Petersburg comes to the Royal Northern College Of Music. I didn't know, but Manchester and St. Petersburg are twin cities, and have been since 1962.

 

The Kalinka Youth Balalaika Orchestra, the only one in the UK, is Manchester based, but receives regular tuition and support from Russian greats at this instrument, and this evening I was surprised at just exactly how young (Primary age) and how talented some of these players were.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Nativity! The Musical

Nativity! The Musical

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

OK, I admit it, it was wonderful! Produced by The Belgrade Theatre of Coventry, this is the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of the Musical version of a film I have never seen. I therefore went this evening with absolutely no prior knowledge of what to expect. I have one more admission too, as I sat in the theatre and looked at the very Christmassy set and listened to a stupid and twee voice-over asking us not to use our mobile phones. I then witnessed an awful introduction to the show, absolutely hating what I was watching for twenty minutes.

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