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 Witches (The Lowry)

Sarah Ingram in The Witches © Catherine Ashmore
Sarah Ingram in The Witches
© Catherine Ashmore
Upstaged Rating: 


Roald Dahl’s wonderful and vibrant stories have captured the imaginations of millions of children (and adults) across the world. Translated into 58 different languages, Dahl’s rich and impressive portfolio has been successfully adapted for stage and screen over the years. The Witches has always been a favourite in our house, fascinating, terrifying and always prompting curious questions, and it translates perfectly to the stage in this adaptation by David Wood.

“Horrible things can be exciting”

An 8-year-old Boy goes to live with his cigar-puffing Grandma in Norway following the death of his parents. An expert on witches, his Grandma has many fascinating stories to tell and explains to him how to spot a witch. To honour his parents last wish, Boy and his Grandma return to England so that he can continue his education and it is here that he comes across some of the cruellest and most powerful child-hating witches.

Under doctor’s orders, Grandma (Karen Mann) and Boy (Fox Jackson-Kenn) take a trip to Bournemouth to allow Grandma time to recover from a bout of pneumonia. It is highly unfortunate that their home in Bournemouth, The Hotel Magnificent, is also the venue for the annual witches AGM. Under the guise of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Hotel Magnificent houses some of the most prolific witches in the world and the most feared Grand High Witch (Sarah Ingram).

Under Nikolai Foster’s impressive and paced direction, this production is a scream from beginning to end. The talented cast of seven play a multitude of characters between them as well as playing a range of instruments.  

Fox Jackson-Keen plays Boy, a versatile performer – he engages skilfully with the audience using puppetry and acrobatics, giving the show an interactive dimension. The relationship between the two friends, Boy and chocolate-chomping Bruno (Kieran Urquhart) is touching and hilarious. Superb physicality and super sparkly costumes allow several of the cast to slip between roles – most notably, Elexi Walker is a complete howl as the feisty Liverpudlian, Mrs Jenkins. Headed up by Sarah Ingram’s brilliantly terrifying Grand High Witch, sniffing and squealing, the small coven of witches contort about the stage itching and scraping their skin – perfectly peculiar and comical.

Isla Shaw’s delicious costume design of larger-than-life sparkles and neon brights works wonderfully alongside the simple set design, clever projections and special effects. The witches scaly scalps, which are exposed in the 1990 film adaptation, are covered by wacky headdresses, designed by Diana Hudson, seeking to engage the young audience rather than alienate and upset.

Nikolai Foster has seasoned the recipe just right for this production – a little dose of fear, a lot of heart and lashings of humour. The Witches is a truly fantastical show and a marvellous introduction to theatre for many of the younger audience members. With a first half of 45 minutes and a second half of 30 minutes, it’s the perfect show for children over the age of 7.  

-Kristy Stott

The Witches is at The Lowry, Salford until 26th March 2016.

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


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

final profile pic



REVIEW – Beautiful Thing (The Lowry)

Thomas Law & Sam Jackson © Anton Belmonte
Thomas Law & Sam Jackson © Anton Belmonte
Date: 13 april 2015
Upstaged rating: 

Jonathan Harvey wrote Beautiful Thing when he was just 24 years old. The production first premiered in 1993 at the Bush Theatre and now this critically acclaimed award-winning play, directed by Nikolai Foster, returns to the stage at The Lowry.

Heated by the backdrop of a glorious summer, Beautiful Thing is an urban love story which captures how it feels to be a teenager, coming of age and the pangs of first love. Troubled teen Jamie (Sam Jackson) lives with his feisty mum, Sandra (Charlie Brooks) on a rundown council estate in South East London. When his neighbour and classmate Ste (Thomas Law) gets beaten so badly by his alcoholic father one night, Sandra suggests he stay with them and sleep ‘top-to-tail’ with Jamie.

Charlie Brooks’ comedy timing as the loud, brash, attention seeking Sandra is highly entertaining, particularly when all five characters are on stage together. Vanessa Babirye is outstanding in the role of Leah, the Mama Cass obsessed neighbour – she steals the show completely when she takes LSD, dresses up in Mama Cass attire and believes that she is the dead singer. And Sandra’s ‘artist’ boyfriend Tony (Gerard McCarthy) also puts in a superb performance as the latest in transient string of lovers.

Both actors, Sam Jackson and Thomas Law play the bedroom scenes with the right amount of teeny awkwardness. Jamie appears quite brave about his sexuality whereas Ste comes across as more vulnerable – their scenes together are well played with the right balance of fuzzy warmth and sexual tension.

Ben Cracknell’s balmy lighting design complements Colin Richmond’s gritty, urban set design, which includes a rising platform which offers itself as a bed and an outside air vent which swiftly transforms into a bedside table.

Jonathan Harvey’s writing is still immensely brilliant and still relevant; Nikolai Foster’s direction manages to bring out every nuance in the script and I found myself noticing elements that I hadn’t fully appreciated in any of the previous interpretations that I have seen. 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. It all stands to prove that this love story between two working class boys is still as beautiful and as powerful as when it was first written over two decades ago.

 Beautiful Thing is at The Lowry, Salford until Saturday 18th April. There will be a post show Q & A with the cast on Thursday 16th April – hosted by Manchester Pride and chaired by British Actor and Writer Arthur Bostrom (‘Allo, Allo!). This event is free to ticket holders.

-Kristy Stott