Celebrating its 21st anniversary, Riverdance hits Leeds Grand Theatre this month as part of a national tour.
The Irish line-dancing phenomena began as a performance piece in Dublin, supporting 1994's Eurovision Song Contest. This year the expanded dance show celebrates a landmark anniversary with a tour showcasing a cast of dancers born in the year of Riverdance's creation.
This Spring sees one of the longest-touring musicals return to the Leeds Grand Theatre. The first major collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of the most celebrated musicals of recent years. Boasting stars such as Jason Donovan and Donny Osmond in the leading role, it has also proved to be a perennial favourite with families and particularly children.
Frazer Hines has been performing for sixty years on stage and screen. His work has taken him from Doctor Who and Emmerdale Farm to movies with Charlie Chaplin.
I spoke to him in the run up to his performance in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None at Leeds Grand Theatre. As one of Yorkshire's sons returns to Leeds, I learn about his role in the show, reflecting on the past and looking to the future.
When asking friends what their favourite movies are, you can be assured that somebody will wax lyrically about The Shawshank Redemption. Based on the story by Stephen King, the 1994 film regularly finds itself topping the lists of the most popular movies of all time. This season, a theatrical adaptation arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre as part of a national tour. Following a film held in such public affection, how does a new imagining for stage stand up to scrutiny?
Andy DeFresne (Ian Kelsey) finds himself incarcerated at Shawshank State Penitentiary with two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover. Befriended by Ellis 'Red' Redding (Patrick Robinson), Andy is inducted into prison life but inevitably succumbs to abuse and torment. It's the 1940s and corruption is rife throughout the prison system; by using his tact and illelect, Andy makes long-term plans for the perfect escape.
And Then There Were None comes to Leeds Grand Theatre this week as part of a national tour. Based on the record-breaking murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie, the play introduces ten individuals as they are lured to an island retreat and played a recorded message. The voice threatens to make them pay for a series of unspeakable crimes, assuring them that nobody will survive the duration of their stay. Soon the party realise that the killings in the house are being conducted by somebody within the group. The race is on to expose the murderer.
The modern recipe for a winning musical often features a classic film as its inspiration, with the addition of catchy musical numbers and preferably an all star cast. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical contains just these ingredients and stops off at Leeds Grand Theatre this month as part of a national tour.
Lawrence Jameson is a sophisticated confidence trickster, forging a living from the rich and gullible. When Freddy Benson arrives on the French Riviera, the duo briefly become partners in crime before the wealthy Christine Colgate checks in. In a battle to secure her assets, Lawrence and Freddy go head-to-head in a hustle of ever-growing proportions.
Sixties rock 'n roll musical Dreamboats and Miniskirts arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre this week. Continuing the story from Dreamboats and Petticoats, the show follows Laura and Bobby after their brief success on the hit parade. As The Beatles cause a sensation throughout Liverpool, Bobby and The Conquests attempt to cut a record and become part of the touring action; but a bad decision sends Bobby and Laura spinning in different directions with a hit single which may break them apart entirely.
Calamity Jane, a classic Western musical, rides into Leeds Grand Theatre this month. Featuring a stampede of iconic show tunes, rugged characters and unexpected romance, Calamity Jane is a new production of a much-loved classic.
It’s the Summer of 1876 in Deadwood City, Dakota. When Calamity Jane, a tomboyish cowgirl, brags that she can deliver hot Chicagoan performer Adelaid Adams to the local stage of Deadwood, she sets out to the big Windy City to persuade the sultry starlet, only to pick up her maid for a live performance which will shake up the local community and create a love triangle of gunslinging proportions.
Cast: Laurence Pears, Cornelius Booth, Matt Cavendish, Leonie Hill, James Marlow, Chris Leask, Harry Kershaw, Naomi Sheldon, Alex Bartram, Rosie Abraham
Director: Adam Meggido
Writer: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields.
Theatre: Leeds Grand Theatre
Duration: 120 minutes
Start Date: June 17, 2015
Following Mischief Theatre's smash hit comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, the company present a second outing of theatrical disaster when Peter Pan Goes Wrong at the Leeds Grand Theatre this week. Promising perilously violent stunts, gloriously destructive sets and general calamity on stage, it offers a version of Peter Pan which audiences are never likely to forget.
When the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society pulls into town it is guaranteed something will go wrong. This year's Christmas production of Peter Pan (opening in the Summer due to a booking error) is touted as the most expensive production from the company yet. Starting with noble and ambitions intentions, the show begins to fracture as actors drop out, scenery falls apart and lighting and sound runs wild. Famous for featuring a flying boy who didn't grow up, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a downward tailspin of chaos, calamity and courage. As ever, the show must go on...
Cast: Cory English, Jason Manford, Ross Noble, David Bedella, Tiffany Graves, Stephane Anelli
Director: Matthew White
Writer: Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan
Theatre: Leeds Grand Theatre
Duration: 150 minutes
Start Date: June 8, 2015
In 2001 Mel Brooks adapted his hit comedy film The Producers into a hit Broadway musical. This week the Tony award-winning show arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre.
The Producers is the story of Max Bialystock (Cory English), a theatre producer with a string of Broadway stinkers to his name. When accountant Leo Bloom (Jason Manford) reveals that more money can be made from a failure than a success, Bialystock sources a hideous script to be realised by an incapable director, in the hope of creating a guaranteed flop. With plans to escape with the show's investments to Brazil, the duo's hopes are dashed when Springtime For Hitler becomes an unexpected hit.
Musings, arguments, reviews and projects within performing arts. Archived reviews from Entertainment-Focus.com. © Samuel Payne 2016