Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats pounces into Leeds Grand Theatre this week as part of a national tour. Following a revived engagement at the London Palladium, the record-breaking musical is back; offering its trove of iconic songs and magical dance routines with a few unique upgrades.
This month, Chichester Festival Theatre brings its new production of Guys and Dolls to the Leeds Grand. Opening on Broadway in 1950, the musical ran for over a thousand performances, winning a Tony Award before being developed into a legendary movie starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. Featuring a host of instantly recognisable musical numbers such as Luck Be a Lady, this new staging promises audiences a nostalgic, uplifting experience.
Guys and Dolls tells the colourful story of the prohibition era in New York. Alcohol and gambling is outlawed and petty crime rules the streets. Secret bars are rife and a subculture of men gamble with dice in the sewers. Above ground the drum-thumping Save-a-Soul Mission attempts to turn sinners to the light, led by the pious and beautiful Sarah Brown. Sky Masterson, a habitually slick gambler, accepts a wager to whisk a doll off to Havana and Sarah Brown becomes the mark. What begins as a bet soon blossoms into something else entirely different…
Musical adaptations of hit movies are a trend which seem to remain ever-popular. One of the latest is The Bodyguard, a big-budget staging of the 1992 movie sensation which swept Whitney Houston from popstar to global icon. This month, Alexandra Burke of The X-Factor fame takes on the role of Rachel Marron, as the musical stops of at Leeds Grand Theatre.
The plot couldn't be simpler: When superstar singer Rachel is subject to death threats from a mysterious stalker, Bodyguard Frank (Stuart Reid) is hired to protect the headstrong performer. Soon their tetchy relationship blooms into an awkward romance, with Frank choosing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Improbable bring Opening Skinner's Box to West Yorkshire Playhouse this month. Adapted from the 2005 book by Lauren Slater, the play recalls the bold and bizarre history of some of the most extraordinary psychological experiments of the 20th Century.
From the makers of Britain’s Got Bhangra comes a new musical based on the 7th century romantic tale of Laila. Set against a Persian landscape with contemporary song and dance, it is a show which charts the tragic story of star-crossed lovers, 700 years before Romeo and Juliet.
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.
West Yorkshire Playhouse presents Great Expectations in the Quarry Theatre, in a new adaptation by Michael Eaton. A tale of fortune, favour, identity and destiny, the play follows the story of a blacksmith’s apprentice as he is funded by a mysterious donor to become a wealthy gentleman.
Charles Dickens' celebrated novel has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times with variable success. Michael Eaton's new imagining for West Yorkshire Playhouse attempts to capture the gothic intensity of the novel and is directed with an equally dark intent by Lucy Bailey. One of the draws of Dickens is the detail in his writing, be it character or place, and Bailey's production embraces a love of stage business and detailed dressing to bring that world to life.
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.
In September 2015 I spoke to godfather of magic, Paul Daniels, whilst on tour with his Intimate Magic Show.
He reflected at length on a career which has encompassed comedy, drama, music, cult game shows and of course, illusion. A straight-talker with a cheeky warmth and Yorkshire charm, the world-famous magician radiated an infectious sense of humour in this candid interview.
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