If you love the North, then this blog is for you. We hope this music and film blog is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art to heritage,as well as everything in-between.We also want to flag up forthcoming gigs, theatre and film across our region.
We scour the region for interesting gigs and stories, histories, ambitions and events. Want to read a carefully crafted article about an oddball museum or go behind the scenes of a leading institution? You can find that here.
The Ladyboys return to Manchester
The Lady Boys are back in town! In what has become a regular event the Lady Boys of Bangkok have returned to Manchester for their latest tour. Unlike a lot of shows that you see there is no overly drawn out introduction with too many warm up acts. This is a show that gets into the action straight away with a variety of different sets. If you enjoy camp you will love this show. The group does multiple musical takes on Greece and Lion King to name just a few. One of the things that is very well done in these shows is keeping the audience engaged and that does mean audience anticipation so as they’d say during the show if they dance around you or drag you up on stage “don’t be offended!” You will also have the opportunity to have a photo during the interval, these boys are only here once a year so don’t miss out or you’ll be waiting another year. As someone who last saw the show 3 years ago one thing I can say is that this is much improved, there was nothing wrong with the show when I originally saw it but this was a smoother operation which had great pace and tempo. I highly recommend you get a ticket, this really was a brilliant night. The Lady Boys are in Manchester until the 24th June so you have plenty of opportunity to catch them while they’re here.
With the well-received sequel T2, currently out on DVD and on demand, there is renewed interest in Irvine Welsh’s original novel, and the first Danny Boyle film. So, there is no better time to catch Trainspotting live on stage.
But, regulars to the Lowry, be prepared! From the minute, you enter the Quays theatre, you will notice some major changes. You are handed ear plugs and a wrist band on arrival, and you are led by some jubilant clubbers into the venue, which resembles a bed sit meets a drug fuelled night club. Livin Joy’s exuberant track “Dreamer” blares out of the speakers, and you are taken back to a time when the drugs worked for many. It’s apt that the company are called In Your Face Theatre, as there is not much let up for the actors, who work like dogs throughout. But, the effect of the immersive nature of this production is mixed. During some scenes, such as the infamous toilet scene, this totally works, as you get to experience the degradation, as well as see it. And humour is used to good effect throughout.
The audience do get used to the constant references to them, as if they are characters, and it gives the illusion that the cast is far bigger than it is. But when Begbie (the brilliant Chris Dennis) struts across the intimate space and shakes his drink at the audience, you do not gain anything narratively speaking and it feels like an effect – which exists purely because it can.
In terms of performances, there is no weak link whatsoever. But for me, Greg Esplin’s Tommy is so likeable, his pre- destined demise is heartbreakingly real, as this actor captures his despair perfectly.
Gavin Ross plays Renton as a hybrid between the skinny jeans wearing skinhead and his (movie) pal, Spud. And he does so admirably. And, hats off to Erin Marshall, who portrays grief with every inch of her body and you feel her pain.
The play moves at light speed, so unlike the film – you never engage with the characters as much as you would like. But, comparisons with the movie aside, this is theatre which crosses boundaries, a play to be experienced, and it offers you a unique, thought provoking and entertaining night out. And the cast sure have a lust for life.
We are being spoilt with amazing drag talent coming to perform in Manchester. Tuesday night was no different with the amazing Alyssa Edwards coming to perform at the Frog and Bucket as part of her Night of a Million Laughs presented by Klub Kids. As you already know Alyssa was a firm favourite of both Season 5 and All Stars Season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race and it’s that charming personality that shines through.
Frog and Bucket really put on a great set with brilliant warm up performances from Lill Queen and Joe Sutherland. As point of reference is a brilliant stand-up comedy performer in his own right and someone to watch in future. He was hilarious and a great way to get ready for the main event.
Alyssa is a true professional and despite having her luggage lost at Dublin she was able to get to perform with a little help from Roxxxy Andrews who not only lent her clothes but also came down to present Alyssa tonight. There was a brilliant Q&A session with the audience clearly not always sticking to script themselves and asking some hilarious questions about Alyssa’s bedroom activities which were met with equally funny responses.
It was also announced by the host that Klub Kids were bringing Latrice Royale back to Manchester for a date as yet undecided in August so please stay tuned for updates on that. A big thanks to Frog and Bucket and Klub Kids for hosting such a great event and a special thanks to Alyssa for a brilliant night.
If your vision of Jane Austen is femininity and flounce be prepared. Without a skirt lifter in sight, this contemporary take on the classic novel offers the expected quality of the Royal Exchange with an unexpected twist on the classic novel.
From the opening moments it is clear this is not what most people will expect. Who would have thought Austen could write for the 21st century? Who would have thought Jane’s work could generate such hilarity? There are moments in the first half where you may question whether the frivolity dominates the tale, and, yes, there is that danger. However, the quality of Jeff James’ direction ensures this does not become farcical, with the more reflective second half balancing the earlier lightness. The original story is adhered to: girl meets boy; girl spurns boy on the advice of elders; girls regrets the cowardice of that decision; they meet again 8 years later… Lara Rossi (Anna) is superb. Rarely off the stage, she leads and dictates the action through a series of ‘tig- you’re out’ slices of time that become increasingly harder to achieve. Helen Cripps and Dorian Simpson are hilarious in their Jeremy Kyle-esque portrayal of Anna’s sister Mary and husband Charles. The challenging staging offers more than it initially reveals, as do the cast with their onstage changes and beachwear moments. If you spent your formative years indulging in Jane Austen, whilst socialising at the Hacienda / Sankeys, this is your ideal night. If not, you’ll love Jeff James and James Yeatman’s adaptation anyway.
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