Tag: Manchester Opera House

REVIEW: Let it Be @ The Opera House, Manchester

Peppers 1-3224 (Photo Paul Coltas)I know Let it Be, which celebrates the incredible music of the Beatles, has a strong and loyal following, but when it was last in Manchester I wasn’t overly impressed.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to see the show return with a much improved production, giving a very appreciative audience a glimpse of what might have been had the fab four got back together.

This revamped production which closes its UK and Ireland tour at the Opera House this week is brimming with energy which has the audience calling for more.

Act One takes audiences through the early days of the band as they embarked on their musical journey and onwards to the heights of Beatlemania. We see the historic Royal Variety Performance,  Shea Stadium concert when the band broke America, the iconic Sergeant Pepper period and their famous final public performance on the roof of the Apple building.

But a brand new Act Two slips the audience into a parallel universe where the band put their differences aside after the  break-up for a reunion concert to celebrate John Lennon’s 40th birthday in October 1980, just a couple of months before the star’s untimely death.

Abbey 1-5615 (Photo Paul Coltas)It is the ultimate concert that never was, giving audiences a chance to experience what it would have been like to hear Beatles songs that were never performed in public as well as the hits by John, Paul, George and Ringo, such as Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, My Sweet Lord, Starting Over and Imagine.

The Let It Be cast –  Michael Gagliano from Woking (John Lennon); Emanuele Angeletti from Italy (Paul McCartney); Irish/AustralianJohn Brosnan (George Harrison); and Ben Cullingworth, from Market Harborough in Leicestershire (Ringo Starr) –  did the songs justice with some outstanding performance.

Vocals were on-point. There was  some expert instrumental work, with Brosnan’s guitar solo in My Guitar Gently Weeps providing the biggest highlight.

And the biggest ring of endorsement must surely come from the crowd who lapped it all up, singing and dancing to those timeless classics

Runs till Saturday October 27


REVIEW: Rock of Ages @ The Opera House, Manchester

I don’t really know where to start with this review of hit musical Rock of Ages which returns to Manchester this week, taking us back to an era of big hair, dodgy taste and even dodgier social attitudes.

Do I start with the the impressive performances by a strong cast that belted out a host of classic rock numbers, or the the laughs from a string of jokes varying in quality, or the shudderingly cringeworthy inappropriate references which probably should have remained in the eighties.

I’ll start with the performances. There is no doubting this production brings together an array of talent to deliver those Whitesnake, Journey and Foreigner songs in a story – such as it is – of a small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew drawn together at the Bourbon music club on LA’s Sunset Strip.

If it’s original and incisive story-telling you’re after, you’ll be disappointed. The story, involving a love triangle between Sherrie, Drew and debauched rock star Stacee Jaxx; and a wicked property developer threatening future of the Bourbon Club, is a vehicle for the rock songs in this juke box musical.

But it has to be said, no-one can fault the musical talent on show. Danielle Hope’s Sherrie is excellent and Luke Walsh as Drew certainly shows he can hold a note and rock with the best of them. Lucas Rush delivers his role well as the narrator, holding everything together.

The show cleverly sends itself up, referring disparagingly to the film the show is based on, and this goes some way to papering over some of the dodgy aspects of the script.

But there are a number of moments where I genuinely cringed and thought “did I just hear that?” There were the over-sexualised dance numbers and lines and scenes which in the light of #metoo should have been revamped for a new era.

They could be forgiven had it been satirical or cleverer, but unfortunately this show has none of that, and on the day when Bill Cosby was sentenced for his exploits as a sexual predator, making jokes about a rock star paedophile on the run and hiding out in South America is probably not the best idea.

Cirque Éloize celebrates 25th anniversary in Manchester with stunning show

HouP_C-QManchester Opera House will present a blend of circus arts, theatre and dance when Montreal-based Cirque Éloize CIRKOPOLIS, performs on October 6.

Eleven acrobats and multidisciplinary artists rebel against monotony, reinvent themselves and challenge the limits of the factory-city.

Performing within an inventive stage design, and accompanied by an original musical score and video projections, they live in a world where fantasy defies reality — the veil of anonymity and solitude is lifted and replaced by bursts of color. Continue reading “Cirque Éloize celebrates 25th anniversary in Manchester with stunning show”

REVIEW: 20th Century Boy @ The Opera House, Manchester

The life of glam rock icon Marc Bolan is celebrated in this musical which visits the Opera House as part of a tour marking 40 years since the star’s untimely death.

The show charts the progress of the musician from childhood through his rise to stardom, descent into hedonism to his death in a car crash.

There is an attempt at portraying Bolan’s cocky swagger and a desperate desire to make it to the top while showcasing those memorable seventies tunes.

And there is no doubt that the music is the show’s biggest strength. George Maguire manages to capture the essence of Bolan in some impressive performances.

Unfortunately, the glue that holds it all together – the script – is sadly lacking. The drama is often quite laboured, lacking energy and quite clichéd at times.

John Maher’s original script was developed with additional material from Nick Graham and Colin Giffin. Perhaps it’s a case of too many cooks, because it didn’t work for me.

There was sometimes a cringey, amateurish feel to the production with clunky scene changes and an odd set design.

That said, it was still an enjoyable night out, but it could have been so much better. Perhaps the producers would have been better off playing to their strengths and presenting a straight tribute act show.

Runs till Saturday April 21

REVIEW: The Band @ The Opera House, Manchester

The cast of The Band, credit Matt Crockett
Pic: Matt Crockett

Take That fans, prepare yourselves for something you’re not going to like. You won’t like this review much, but I’m sure you’ll love The Band, a show featuring the music of that iconic boy group.

I have to admit I came to this show with fairly low expectations. I’ve never been a massive Take That fan, and I thought the X-Factor-style TV show which searched for five lads to star in the show was an afront to Saturday night TV. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Band @ The Opera House, Manchester”