West Yorkshire Playhouse opens a new season with its first in-house Shakespeare production for some time. Richard III is arguably one of Shakespeare's most brutal tragedies; a tale of jealousy and arch manipulation escalating in monstrous acts of violence, the play centres on a malcontent who will stop at nothing to gain access to the throne.
Paul Daniels has been performing internationally with The Intimate Magic Tour, offering a close-up illusion experience which promises: “you’ll never get closer”.
Tom Mothersdale dangles his bare feet in a moat of dark water as the audience take their seats. Behind him is a peeling stucco wall. "I have things up my sleeve,” he boasts. “But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion..." So begins the memory play which launched the career of Tennessee Williams, which is at West Yorkshire Playhouse this month.
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.
The National Theatre brings The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to Leeds Grand Theatre this week. Based on Mark Haddon's best-selling 2003 novel, the play follows the investigations of fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone as he attempts to solve the mystery of a neighbour's murdered dog. The story is unique, presented from the viewpoint of a high-functioning autistic teenager who is voyaging through adolescence and domestic upheaval, constructing a world within a strict set of mathematical boundaries.
The domestic storyline is a simple one and follows the fallout of a marriage breakup and the darkly comic assassination of a dog with pitchfork. Christopher's methodological approaches to solving the murder provide an insight into how he copes within a universe of chaos and irrational human behaviour, forming strategies to deal with new experiences and unexpected challenges.
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.
Bill Kenwright brings Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical based on the progressive rock album by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, to Leeds Grand Theatre this week. A production which has ignited passion and fury in equal measure, the show arrives with a guarantee of provocation.
The musical follows the final days of Jesus Christ, who is betrayed by disciple Judas Iscariot and subsequently crucified under the Roman Empire. Loosely inspired by biblical texts and developed from a sensational album, the show offers an audacious interpretation of an ancient story told through progressive symphonic rock.
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.
Musings, arguments, reviews and projects within performing arts. Archived reviews from Entertainment-Focus.com. © Samuel Payne 2016