The widely-anticipated Matilda The Musical has finally arrived in Manchester for an 11-week run at thePalace Theatre and to mark the occasion, Scarlett Cecil who is one of the four young actresses sharing the title role, popped down to Manchester Central Library to strike the iconic Matilda pose in front of the landmark city-centre building.
The first show of the Royal Shakespeare Company production based on the much-loved Roald Dahl story in the city will be tonight, Tuesday 18th September.
Sophia Ally, Annalise Bradbury, Scarlett Cecil and Nicola Turner will share the title role of Matilda in Manchester. The adult cast includes Craige Els who, having played Miss Trunchbull in the West End for three years from 2014 to 2017, has returned to the role for the UK and Ireland tour. Carly Thoms plays Miss Honey alongside Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.
Matilda The Musical has now been seen by eight million people worldwide, having toured to over 65 cities and played more than 6000 performances in the West End, on Broadway and on tour across North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Matilda The Musical now has its first non-English language production at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, South Korea which opened earlier this month.
The show is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and direction by Matthew Warchus. The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.
Jason Donovan will make his debut as a producer when he joins forces with Mark Groucher in a new production of the much-loved glittering hit musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
The show begins its tour in September next year (2019) and will be at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on November 25th.
The show makes a perfect vehicle for Donovan to begin his life as a producer, having performed in the cast of the original West End production and two subsequent UK tours.
Jason Donovan said: “Having spent years performing and always harbouring the desire to become more involved in the creative process, I am delighted to be joining Mark Goucher as producer on this wonderful show. Priscilla is perfect vehicle to venture into the world of producing and bringing all my experience on the show seems the logical next step. Priscilla is such a wonderful Australian story about diversity. It is a modern musical with a great heart.”
The iconic hit musical has more glitter than ever before, featuring a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife, Finally and many more.
Based on the Oscar-winning film, PRISCILLA is the hilarious adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime. Their epic journey is a heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance.
This brand new production comes from the team behind the critically acclaimed UK tours of Hairspray; with direction by Paul Kerryson, choreography by Tom Jackson-Greaves with designs by Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith, lighting design by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Ben Harrison.
The show has Kenwright written all over it, literally – with his beloved Everton football club emblazoned on the set.
And who can begrudge him that in a show which bristles with energy, fun and tragedy, exploring the concept of nature versus nurture?
Penned by Merseyside playwright, Willy Russell, the story centres around twins separated at birth but drawn together throughout their lives by fate, with tragic conclusions.
Lyn Paul, who some may remember from the 1970s pop group the New Seekers, gives a powerful performance as the long-suffering working class mum, Mrs Johnstone, forced by circumstances to give up her son to middle class employer, Mrs Lyons, desperate for a child .
The promise that Mrs Johnstone can see her son every day is quickly broken, but the two boys lives are intertwined bringing together two very different worlds.
Sean Jones is particularly excellent as Mickey. We watch his progress with class division there for all to see from encounters with police in his youth to the harsh realities of adulthod. While his brother Eddie goes to university and ends up with a position on the council’s housing committee Mickey is thrown onto the scrapheap.
There are certainly tear-jerking moments but this is a show which is full of energy. The songs are a bit corny and there is no shortage of clichés in the dialogue but this show is more than the sum of its parts. It is well worth a visit.
This must surely be the show of the season at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.
The lavish sets and a breathtaking staging matched by pitch perfect performances by a magnificent cast makes for a truly stunning production.
It is not just the iconic helicopter scene in Miss Saigon, when the Americans make their humiliating retreat from the devastated South Vietnam city, that makes this show linger in the memory.
In true Cameron Mackintosh style, there is nothing out of place. Every cast member makes a vital contribution and is on point.
And the dominant themes in the story of power, love and loss are hammered home in every line and every note.
In a retelling of the opera, Madama Butterfly, the musical tells the story of young Kim, a 17-year-old girl who flees her burning village to Saigon where she takes a job in a bar and brothel, ran by the infamous Engineer – a schemer with his eyes set on a new life in the USA.
Kim meets Chris, a US Marine. They fall in love but their happiness is short-lived, and when Chris returns to America. There follows Kim’s quest to be reunited with her love, who unbeknown to him, fathered her son, Tam.
Red Concepcion is faultless as the slippery Engineer, with a performance that evokes both revulsion and sympathy. His rendition of The American Dream is real show stopper.
Sooha Kim also excels as Kim with a skillful performance delivering a beautiful interplay with Ashley Gilmour’s Chris, matched by in incredible vocal range.
The Sound of Music is at the Palace Theatre this week and is sure to have fans of the timeless musical singing along to those classic tunes.
This tale of love blossoming between novice nun Maria and the frosty Captain von Trapp when she arrives as governess to his children has been a regular festive favourite in Christmas TV schedules and is now beautifully brought to the stage with impressive and lavish sets and high production values.
It is based on the true story of the von Trapp family singers who fled Nazi-occupied Austria as political refugees.
After a slightly underwhelming start to the show when it would have been nice to have seen a little more personality from the nuns ruminating about how to solve a problem like Maria, the production picks up with some delightful performances by the children.
Lucy O’Byrne does well as Maria, delivering those familiar tunes with aplomb. Neil McDermott seemed to struggle as the Captain in the first half of the show with some of his singing being drowned by the music, but his performance grew on me and he did much better after the interval.
The interval came following a truly show-stopping performance of Climb Every Mountain, by Megan Llewellyn in the role of Mother Abbess. It was magnificent.
Acclaim should also go to Kara Lane and Howard Samuels who excelled in the roles of the Captain’s prospective wife Elsa and impressario Max Detweiler. Neither would be out of place in Hollywood roles.
Overall, a charming production which is well worth a visit.