REVIEW – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (The Lowry)

Pixie Lott in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
© Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Upstaged Rating: 

Holly Golightly has aroused much discussion over the years, from the page of Truman Capote’s Novella to the big screen classic portrayal by Audrey Hepburn in the 1960’s. Now, Breakfast at Tiffany’s comes to The Lowry, Salford and we are transported back to Capote’s original 1940’s New York setting.

Pop star Pixie Lott steps into Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Givenchy’ shoes as the charming Holly Golightly. With authentic design by Matthew Wright, Lott certainly looks the part in her fabulous vintage wardrobe and super-sparkly diamonds – however, this is certainly an ambitious role for her first stage show.

Capote’s novella has been adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg and revolves very much around the on-off romance between Holly and struggling young writer Fred (Matt Barber). Besotted and fascinated by the extroverted and effervescent Holly, Fred tells the story from his perspective and acts as narrator. Matt Barber puts in a brilliant performance, leading the audience through an array of emotions following his infatuation with Holly Golightly.

© Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Under Nikolai Foster’s direction, Robert Calvert puts in a sturdy performance as Golightly’s estranged husband Doc towards the end of Act One which just keeps us ticking over to Act Two. However, many of the other characters feel slightly underdeveloped, giving us little chance to really understand them. The balance on stage does seem a little skewed when a beautiful fluffy white cat (Bob The Cat) steals the stage from the main action.

Ben Cracknell’s vivid lighting design teamed with Matthew Wright’s authentic set and costume design is a real highlight and really gives the live performance a filmic edge.

Now, all the pre-show talk has been about Pixie Lott taking on the iconic role of Holly Golightly – there really is no doubt that she can sing. Strumming her acoustic guitar she performs 3 live songs, most notably ‘Moon River’ and she is soulful, engaging and unique.

This production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is certainly a gem but is regrettably lacking the clarity and cut of a real Tiffany diamond.

-Kristy Stott

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is at The Lowry until Saturday 16th April 2016 and you can get your tickets here.

REVIEW – The Girls (The Lowry)

The Girls at The Lowry, Salford © John Swannell
The Girls at The Lowry, Salford
© John Swannell
Date: 19 January 2016
Upstaged Rating: 

Get a ticket and go and see The Girls. It is a phenomenal production. A thunderous applause and a well deserved standing ovation greeted the passionate performers and production crew on the press night. Being able to witness everybody around you in the stalls leap to their feet, cheering and clapping is a rare occurrence and a worthy testimony to show how fabulous The Girls really is. Just go.

The Girls is a heartwarming, super charming and quintessentially English new musical inspired by the true story of Yorkshire’s real Calendar Girls – a group of Women’s Institute members who, in memory of one of their husbands, produce a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research. This new musical charts the journey of a group of ordinary ladies as they achieve something incredible and explores the effect that their strength has on everyone around them.

The writing collaboration between the master of popular songwriting, Gary Barlow and Tim Firth who wrote the film and the play for Calendar Girls, is a perfect recipe for success. Add some outstanding performers to the mix and you have a musical which is not only highly entertaining but one which fully connects with its audience. Hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time, I spent most of Act 2 looking through a blur because my eyes were so teary from laughing and crying at the same time.

Robert Jones’ set design of olive green drawers and cupboards is suggestive of quaint, rural England. Providing the perfect canvas for the action to unfold, whether indoors or on a Yorkshire hill top, in this close-knit and supportive community.

Tim Firth, Gary Barlow & the original Calendar Girls credit Matt Crockett
The Original Calendar Girls     ~The Girls at The Lowry, Salford~   – Credit Matt Crockett


This production is packed full of superb musical numbers with that unmistakeable Barlow hook, the lyrics are loaded with wit and most importantly we can relate to them. ‘Who Wants a Silent Night?’ is delivered with pizzazz by parish organist and single mother Cora (Claire Machin). Retired school teacher Jessie (Sara Kestelman) sings a poignant and uplifting ballad about growing older, ‘What Age Expects’ which was a highlight for me. With tunes so catchy and memorable many of the audience left humming and singing their way out of the theatre.

Joanna Riding is outstanding as Annie – putting on a brave face as her husband John (James Gaddas) battles against cancer. Their partnership on stage is believable and touching; humorous and real – providing the hope and inspiration for the calendar girls extraordinary triumph. Claire Moore gives an energetic, brave and brilliant performance as close friend Chris – she is immediately likeable, defiant and loyal – she is not afraid to speak out against the traditional Women’s Institute values, but she does so with humour and conviction which the audience laugh, clap and cheer along with.

The leader of the Women’s Institute Marie, played admirably by Harriett Thorpe, struggles to get the women to fall in line with her ideas. Ex air-hostess and golf enthusiast Celia played brilliantly by Vivien Parry and struggling alcoholic Ruth, played with expert timing by Debbie Chazen complete the line-up. The tightly woven sub-plot featuring Chris’ son Danny (Ben Hunter), love interest Jenny (Chloe May Jackson) and his best friend Tommo (Josh Benson) gives a further injection of comedy and shows the effect that the women’s bravery and influence can have on the younger generation.

The Girls is a fantastic musical – I really hope that it gets a well-deserved airing in the West End – but don’t just take my word for it – go see for yourselves.







-Kristy Stott

The Girls is at The Lowry until Saturday 30th January 2016 and you can get your tickets here.

REVIEW – Forever Young (Oldham Coliseum)

 Forever Young
Date: 6 march 2015
Upstaged Rating: 

Forever Young is a musical and a black comedy set in a nursing home where the residents are all retired actors. The play is based around each of the characters and their own quirks and traits – it’s rather like a collection of musical numbers punctuated by short comedy sketches.

Ironically, the play opens very quietly, the only noise being a clinical looking Sister George (Georgina White) who whistles the Kill Bill tune while slapping rubber gloves against her thighs and spraying air freshener around the residents lounge. Slowly each of the ageing thespians are revealed to us as they make their comical entries onto the stage. First up is Mr Bednarczyk, who is the musical director as well as a resident at the home – he reluctantly takes his seat at the grand piano to provide the soundtrack for the other characters to make their ceremonial entries on to the stage.



The cast are all superb, under the careful direction of Giles Croft and the clever choreography of Adele Parry, they all stagger to life and deliver some cracking numbers once Sister George exits the stage and closes the door. Mr Frater’s gait and word finding difficulties are highly convincing and Ms Little’s confused stare and disinhibited outbursts are all believable traits of somebody with dementia. When a conflict breaks out between Mr Frater and Mr Elkington, beside from being the slowest fight in history, it is the greatest source of humour for the audience – they roared with laughter on the night that I attended.

Musical comedy highlights are a plenty – the two romantics Ms Darcy and Mr Superville sing a sweet version of I Got You Babe as well as trying to recreate Torvill and Dean’s 1984 Olympic winning Bolero. Tiara and lace clad Ms Little also sends up a version of Aqua’s Barbie Girl  with a prosthetic limb and uses her fox stole as an air guitar for an entertaining version of I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The play also harbours some tender moments between the characters – when Ms Little passes a tissue to Mr Frater we can only imagine that he is thinking about lost youth and love. Ms Darcy’s version of the Nirvana classic, Smells Like Teen Spirit, also reminds us of the loneliness associated with getting older.

The production is loaded with plenty of highly amusing comic sequences and characters that you could watch all day – however, there isn’t much of a plot to push it along and so it does feel like it drags at times. Nevertheless this didn’t appear to hinder the audiences enjoyment judging by their applause and squeals of laughter.

Forever Young celebrates the lives and loves of older adults and blows the assumption that people in nursing homes are just waiting for their final curtain call. As well as being a musical comedy on the surface – this play actually makes a valid commentary on the way that we treat and view older people. This talented cast of seven certainly prove that old age can be a laughing matter.

-Kristy Stott

Forever Young runs at Oldham Coliseum until Saturday March 21st 2015