Dec 11 2011 by Michael Green, Chester Chronicle
ALEGRIA (MEN Arena, Manchester, April 4-7)
CIRQUE du Soleil brings its critically acclaimed production Alegría to UK arenas for the first time. Alegría is a Spanish word that means happiness, joy and jubilation and features an international cast of 55 performers and musicians from 17 countries and showcases breathtaking acrobatics. Call 0844 847 8000 or visit men-arena.com.
ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, January 24-28)
DAVID Essex returns to his roots and takes the title of his big-selling debut album from the 70s as the inspiration for a musical set against the backdrop of a travelling funfair. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
CHICAGO (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, March 19-24)
BASED on real life events back in the roaring 1920s, this show sees nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoot her lover and – along with Velma Kelly – fight to avoid death row with the help of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (The Lowry, Salford Quays, February 23-March 10)
MINER Luther Gascoigne and socially ambitious Minnie are newly wed. Luther’s mother disapproves - in her view, Minnie’s pretensions make her an unsuitable match. A shocking revelation from Luther’s past provokes a rich drama of sexual tension and class conflict set during the bitter 1912 miners’ strike, written by DH Lawrence and presented by the Library Theatre Company. Visit www.librarytheatre.com or call 0843 208 6005.
DAYS OF LIGHT (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, February 1-4)
HAWAII. Late light slanting through bamboo blinds. Rattan chairs creaking. Ceiling fans turning lazily. The sameness of the seasons; no autumn, no spring. Underneath the ocean the magma rages. Ageing ex-pat Miss Peoke awaits the return of her son, whilst Nathan anticipates the arrival of his new love. But what else is stirring in the crystal blue lagoon? Days of Light marks the welcome return to The Studio of Starving Artists, whose recent successes include Road Movie and Eat Me. Ring 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
THE GATEKEEPER (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, February 8-25)
THIS world premiere lifts the lid on a darkly comic family get-together. Mike and Julia made sure their children Rob and Stacey had the best of everything when they were growing up. Now they're adults all they want is to be proud of them. But when they meet up in a Lake District holiday cottage to celebrate Stacey's birthday, it seems that nobody has been honest with each other. With a brilliant ear for dialogue, playwright Chloe Moss wickedly captures the infuriating family habits and conversations that can drive you mad. The bid to keep up appearances in front of an unexpected guest soon falls by the wayside as secrets are revealed and the ‘get together’ falls apart, in this painfully funny play. Ring 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
I DREAMED A DREAM (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, June 19-23)
SUSAN Boyle will make a guest appearance in this eagerly awaited new show based on her life story. Starring Elaine C Smith (Rab C Nesbitt) the musical follows Susan Boyle’s rise from humble beginnings to global icon and features signature songs from her multi-platinum selling albums. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE LION IN WINTER (Little Theatre, Gloucester Street, Chester, January 14-21)
CHESTER Theatre Club presents John Goldman’s classic historical drama. Set in Chinon Castle at Christmas 1183, we meet the Plantagenets, one of the most influential and warring families of the time. Henry II is aware of his mortality and wants to ensure the legacy of the ‘empire’ he has built lives on. He has three living sons and one of them is his favourite. But his wife, Eleanor of Aquitane, favours another son and this gives rise to disagreements. Call 01244 322674 or visit www.chestertheatreclub.co.uk.
LORD OF THE DANCE (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, January 2-8)
LORD Of The Dance has become the most talked about, most written about and most acclaimed show in musical history. It has gone on to receive unparalleled accolades and has broken theatrical records everywhere. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
MATTHEW BOURNE’S NUTCRACKER! (Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, January 24-28)
ONE of the most popular dance productions ever staged in the UK, Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! returns to celebrate its 20th anniversary. This delicious theatrical feast has family-sized helpings of Matthew Bourne's trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy. Nutcracker! follows Clara's bittersweet journey from a hilariously bleak Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross' Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland. Tchaikovsky's glorious score and Anthony Ward's unforgettable sets and costumes combine with sizzling choreography to create a delicious theatrical feast. Call 0844 847 2525 or visit www.liverpoolempire.org.uk.
OLIVER! (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, January 25-March 10)
THE classic stage musical by Lionel Bart based on the Charles Dickens novel makes a welcome return with a fabulous cast headed by Neil Morrissey as Fagin. The score includes Food Glorious Food and many more memorable songs. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
PANTO’S ON STRIKE (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, January 11-14)
PADDY McGuinness and Jonathan Wilkes star in this original, side-splitting, rip-roaring comedy show that will have you rubbing your magic lamp. But be warned – the adult only humour will bring out the big kid in all of you. Over-18s only. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
PEPPA PIG’S TREASURE HUNT (Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester, February 15-16)
PEPPA and George are up to fun and games on a day out on Grandad Dog's boat. Help them, with Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra to follow the clues and find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, April 5-May 19)
CAMERON Mackintosh presents a spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical which will star John Owen-Jones as The Phantom and Katie Hall as Christine. Phantom became the longest running show in Broadway history in 2006 when it celebrated its 7,486th performance, surpassing the previous record holder Cats. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
RELATIVELY SPEAKING (Little Theatre, Gloucester Street, Chester, March 10-17)
CHESTER Theatre Club presents this early classic from Alan Ayckbourn. When Ginny misleads her new boyfriend Greg into believing she is visiting her parents in the country for the weekend, she hasn;t expected him to follow her in order to give her and them a pleasant surprise. For her, the surprise is far from pleasant as the country home belongs to her older lover and his wife. By the time Ginny arrives, Greg has already introduced himself to her lover’s wife as her daughter’s boyfriend. Cue a succession of misunderstandings and deceptions, presented with typical Ayckbourn relish and wit. Call 01244 322674 or visit www.chestertheatreclub.co.uk.
SISTER ACT (Empire Theatre in Lime Street, Liverpool, May 22–June 2 2012)
FROM producers Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment (Hairspray, High School Musical) the smash hit musical comedy based on the classic film comes to the Opera House direct from its record-breaking run at the London Palladium. Call 0844 847 2525 or visit www.liverpoolempire.org.uk.
SOUTH PACIFIC (Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, Manchester, March 13-17)
THIS breathtaking and lavish Lincoln Center Theater production reinvented the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein show, swept the 2008 Tony Awards, played to sold-out houses on Broadway. The UK touring cast is headed by former EastEnders star Samantha Womack. Ring 0844 372 7272 or visit www.manchesterpalace.org.uk.
SPAMALOT (Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, January 16-21)
AUDIENCES all around the world have been roaring with laughter since Monty Python’s Spamalot, by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005. It tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The show features the hilarious songs He Is Not Dead Yet, Knights Of The Round Table, Find Your Grail and of course Always Look On The Bright Side of Life. Marcus Brigstocke triumphantly returns as Arthur, King of the Britons; Jodie Prenger reprises her role as the Lady of The Lake; and Todd Carty is back as Patsy. Call 0844 847 2525 or visit www.liverpoolempire.org.uk.
TWO (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, January 18-February 25)
IN A northern pub, a landlord and landlady welcome you to join the colourful collection of people who make it their local. In this public place, you'll glimpse some private moments as we overhear snippets from the bittersweet lives and relationships of the regulars. Share an evening with two incredible actors as they conjure up every one of Cartwright's distinctive and original tales, exploring the highs, lows, triumphs and disasters that are part and parcel of being one half of “two”. Following the hugely successful Zack, comedian and actor Justin Moorhouse reunites with director Greg Hersov to play the Landlord in this acclaimed Jim cartwright play. Ring 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.
WONDERFUL TOWN (Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, March 31-April 14, 2012)
FOR the first time The Royal Exchange Theatre, The Hallé Orchestra and The Lowry will combine their artistic forces and present this remarkable fully staged, brilliantly choreographed production of the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein’s musical comedy. Connie Fisher plays aspiring writer Ruth Sherwood who arrives in New York with her beautiful younger sister Eileen. The indomitable pair meet an array of colourful characters along the way, creating chaos at every turn in their search for romance, success and a free meal at Walgreens deli. Ring 0161 833 9833 or visit www.royalexchange.co.uk.