PREVIEW: THE BAND at The Manchester Opera House OPENS TOMORROW

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There is just over twenty-four hours to go until the most eagerly awaited new musical – written by the award-winning Tim Firth (The Girls- Musical 2015) and featuring the music of Take That – goes in front of The Manchester Opera House audience for the first time.

The show begins in Manchester tomorrow, 8th September with national press night on Tuesday 26 September.

THE BAND is a new musical about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband. For five 16-year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything. Fast forward twenty-five years on and we are reunited with the group of friends, now 40-something women, as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.

The Band is being played by young performers AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, who, as Five to Five, won BBC’s Let It Shine and the chance to star in the musical.

THE BAND Five to Five © Jay Brooks
THE BAND
Five to Five © Jay Brooks

The Band will be running at The Manchester Opera House from Friday 8th September all the way through till 30th of September, before embarking on a major UK tour until July 2018. Excitement is building fast with advance box office sales already topping a record-breaking £10MILLION.

Tickets for this hotly-anticipated show are available to book online from atgtickets.com/manchester or by calling the box office on 0844 871 3018 (fees may apply).

For full tour listings please click here.

Mini Critic : The Next Step – Wild Rhythm Tour (The Lowry, Salford)

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The Next Step is a Canadian reality-style TV show that follows a group of young dancers and in the UK, this popular tween drama is broadcast on CBBC.

In this explosive collaboration,The Next Step has teamed up with new CBBC show Lost and Found Music Studios and the result is The Next Step: Wild Rhythm Tour.

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Young dancer and fan of the show Evie went along to The Lowry with her mum Karen to check it out…

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“Hi. My name is Evie and I am nine. I was lucky enough to go and see The Next Step at the Lowry for my birthday present off mum and it was way more than awesome!

When I have time I sit back and watch The Next Step on TV and it was just fantastic to see them dancing in front of my very own eyes. I felt like my brain was going to burst with excitement!

I loved seeing the dancers being themselves and getting to know their real personalities. James and Eldon were hilarious although the girls always rule. I enjoyed the choice of music and the emotions and drama of the different dances.

The video clips inspired me to start dancing more and maybe if I work hard and believe in myself I could be in A Troupe one day. I can’t wait to see them on tour again in October.”

Evie really enjoyed The Next Step and mum Karen was impressed by the interaction during the Q&A and the positive message that the young audience take away with them…

“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as it’s based around a TV dance programme but I can honestly say we both loved it. And I reckon by the audience response and feel of excitement in the theatre that the was general feeling from everybody. My daughter sat in awe watching the energy and passion of the dancers in front of her and you could see the commitment they give to their dance. The show was full of interaction, humour, drama and emotion and you felt totally engaged with the show and performers.

The interactive aspect was great as the kids got to be involved in a Q+A session engaging with the dancers and learning a little more about them and their aspirations. The dancers and singers were great role models for the kids and told how if they believe in themselves and work hard and show commitment they will achieve their goals. A great message for the kids to take away. I always thought it was just a TV programme but it is so much more. On a personal level this cast and their stories mean such a lot to my daughter. She has had troubles at school even at the young age of nine and she says the programme helps her solve problems at school as the programme looks at relationship dynamics and how the cast work through them. Fantastic as our kids need all the help and tools they can in order to live life to its max.”

The Next Step begins touring again in the autumn.

Kicking off at the SECC in Glasgow on 21 October 2016 with more dates in Manchester, London. Nottingham,  Brighton, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Bath and Cambridge. You can click here to get your tickets.

 

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Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave

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Photo Credit : Kristy Stott

Since Big Fish Little Fish launched in Manchester in November 2015 their family raves have proven to be the hottest ticket in town. Always a sell-out gig, with tickets selling out for the Manchester January event in 15 minutes – once you’ve been you will know why.

With creative and exciting family fun at their core, Big Fish Little Fish host day-time dance music events which are as much about the parents as they are about the children – it’s like being at a mini festival, right in the middle of Manchester. Designed to attract the post-rave generation of parents and their offspring – it’s cool, social and there is probably no better place for it than Chorlton. We were lucky enough to bag tickets so we schooled our little fish together, and mooched on down to Chorlton Irish Club to experience the vibe for ourselves.

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‘The Parachute Dance’ is a highlight.               Photo credit : Kristy Stott
The events are recommended for families with children under the age of 8 as many of the activities are designed for younger ones. These 2-4 hour party people have taken care of everything with a secure buggy park outside and a baby chill out area upstairs. Although many of the rave parents took to the dancefloor with their babies in a sling or in arms. It’s good for mum and dad and the babies certainly enjoyed the sensory stimulation from bubble machines and roving colourful club lights. The club classics are also played at a lower level which suits little ones and parents too – great to see fellow Chorltonites striking up banter with each other. Did I mention that there is also a licenced bar?

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Photo Credit : Kristy Stott
For those who need a quieter area – there is a chill out area complete with books; for those creative minds, there are some super craft activities too – many of the children enjoyed the scribble wall and playdoh. There was also the opportunity to create your own tie or add a temporary tattoo to complete your look.

Giant balloons and glow sticks make the dance floor fun for the little people while the grown-ups fully appreciate tunes by DJing duo Heavy Feet. Every event has a theme too – this particular event was a ‘Hat and Moustache’ rave with prizes for the most creative headpieces.

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Healthy treats from The Nice Lolly Co to keep everybody happy…
Prior to becoming a big hit up North, Big Fish Little Fish have been running events in and around London as well as hosting gigs at Camp Bestival and Kendal Calling. And now they are branching out all the time with gigs planned for Edinburgh and Cardiff.

If you want to be one of the first to know about Big Fish Little Fish events – you can sign up to their mailing list here.

 

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My Favourite Productions of 2015

My Favourite Productions of 2015

It has been an exciting year for Upstaged Manchester and I feel blessed and nostalgic as I remember the productions that have lifted my heart, helped me to question and generally captivated me this year. Here is a list of my theatrical highlights for 2015.

 Yen at The Royal Exchange

I couldn’t shake this 2013 Bruntwood Prize Winner by Anna Jordan for quite a while – it left my mind doing somersaults. Jordan’s phenomenal writing and her vivid characters combined with Ned Bennett’s clever direction and Georgia Lowe’s sparse set design gave an unforgettable fusion of total brilliance.

Nirbhaya at The Contact Theatre

This brave, real and haunting piece of work, exploring the effect of the brutal attack that Jyoti Singh endured on board a bus in Delhi on December 16th 2012, stopped me in my tracks and left me speechless. A perfect example of the role that theatre has in spreading an important message and how art can bring about change.

Shooting With Light at The Lowry

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This is by far the best production I have ever seen in the Lowry Studio – slick choreography and an atmospheric soundscape. Idol Motion will certainly be a theatre company that I will be looking out for in 2016.

The Rolling Stone at The Royal Exchange

The Rolling Stone had me captivated – on the edge of my seat throughout. With outstanding performances from all, Chris Urch’s Bruntwood Prize Winner about the persecution of gay men in Uganda stays with you for a long time. I am so pleased that it is being performed at Orange Tree Theatre in January and February of 2016.

Boeing Boeing at Oldham Coliseum

© Joel C Fildes

I had never seen a farce done well – until I saw this version of Boeing Boeing directed by Robin Herford. An energetic production with an outstanding cast – their timing and delivery was impeccable. It really lifted my heart to see the performance propelled along by gasps, laughter and impromptu applause from the audience.

 

Beautiful Thing at The Lowry

© Anton Belmonte

The combination of Jonathan Harvey’s brilliant writing and Nikolai Foster’s intelligent direction managed to bring out every nuance in the script – I found myself noticing elements that I hadn’t fully appreciated in previous interpretations. This production felt like a celebration and a salute to how far rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people have come over the last 20 years, and a recognition that we still have a fair way to go.

Kafka’s Monkey at HOME

What an accomplished performer Kathryn Hunter is – such a rich tone and incredible physicality. Masterfully directed by Walter Meierjohann, I feel blessed to have witnessed a performance like this – this show certainly put Manchester’s new arts space HOME on the map.

Golem at HOME

A true theatrical spectacle and a perfect amalgam of animation, live performance, music and claymation. Golem was like nothing that I had ever seen before – sharp interaction between the performers, Paul Barritt’s eye-popping animation and Lillian Henley’s brilliant silent movie-esque score.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at The Lowry

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a tremendous piece of theatre – a perfect collaboration with outstanding performances throughout. Gripping and heartfelt – the perfect example of the power that theatre has to change the way that we view the world.

Wicked at The Lowry

Emily Tierney as Glinda & Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba. ©Matt Crockett
Emily Tierney as Glinda & Ashleigh Gray as Elphaba. ©Matt Crockett

Well, I’m a big fan of Wicked and despite having seen the production before it just gets better and better for me every time. With magnificent music and lyrics, Wicked is a theatrical feast for your eyes, ears and hearts.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you – thank you for all of your support this year. 

Wishing you all the best in 2016.

-Kristy Stott

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