Canal Street Music,Theatre and Film

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.

Not Dead Enough

Peter James’ third novel in the award-winning Detective Superintendent Roy Grace crime series is currently touring the UK in a new stage adaptation.
The curtain opens on a darkened stage with a single spotlight focussed on a seated woman. Next minute she’s dead. We discover this is Brian Bishop’s wife and evidence soon mounts to point the finger of guilt at him. However he was sixty miles away in London…or was he?
Ian Talbot’s direction is pacey, ensuring smooth transitions between scenes within the 3-way split set. However this production suffers from acting more wooden and shaky than an Acorn Antiques set, and probably gained more laughs, though not necessarily for the right reasons. Whilst Laura Whitmore (Cleo Morey) comes out fairly well, the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, in particular her co-stars Bill Ward (DS Roy Grace) and Stephen Billington (Brian Bishop).The stilted dialogue, lack of emotion and shallowness of character is surprising from these experienced actors.
Despite the limitations of the performances, the story is clever and keeps you guessing. Without giving anything away, the end of the first half guarantees you will want to return for Act II.
Not Dead Enough is a very apt title…
Rating 2/5
Opera House: May 22nd-27th 2017
Click for more here

Tue, 23 May 2017 11:20:37 +0100

Kate Rusby-Life in a paperboat tour-Stockport Plaza- May 12th 2017

Kate Rusby is one of those artistes that I have wanted to see for many ayear but never got round to going. However thanks to Canal Street I got the chance to see her the other evening and I am so glad I did. She appeared at the Stockport Plaza as part of her Life in a paperboat tout, that being the name of her latest album. I must say that the Plaza is an amazing place, like stepping back to the middle of the last century. If you have never had the pleasure I would recommend that you give them a visit.

Kate is from Barnsley as is evident from her accent but as soon as she starts singing all that changes. Her voice is a beautiful folk pleasure. Between songs she regaled us with anecdotes and remembrances from the 25 years she has spent recording and touring. We were given songs from the full history of her recording career including “Who will sing me lullabies” about a very close friend who got very ill and unfortunately passed away, very sad and yet happy at the same time. The best received song of the night was “Big Brave Bill” about a superhero from Barnsley who goes out performing heroic things and then goes home to drink Yorkshire tea.

The band were excellent, This included her husband Damien O’Kane who is an accomplished guitarist and could even make the banjo sound good. At one point Kate left the stage to allow the band to perform some tunes. The difference with this is that they were original tunes written by the band and very entertaining. If you get a chance to see Kate on this tour I would heartily recommend it if you like a night of humour and good music.

By Peter Sheridan for Canal St Online

For more about Kate including remaining tour dates visit

Tue, 16 May 2017 12:29:33 +0100

The Wedding Singer at the Opera House


Nine years ago, the Broadway transfer of The Wedding Singer arrived, destined for the West End. It starred Jonathan Wilkes and Natalie Casey. And, although it was a sweet natured show, it lacked that certain something, to take it to London.It’s back now, and it is now a funny, fast paced, delightful show, thanks to a spirited cast, and a great ensemble. From the moment, you sit down, you are reminded that you have gone back to the 1980’s and who doesn’t love this decade. 

Oversized mobile phones, piano ties, and Spandau Ballet all feature in this gag fest.Based on the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore rom com, the musical version has the best moments from the film, with some of the supporting characters roles, expanded to suit the musical format.Tara Verloop is a star in waiting, as Holly. In a traditional romantic comedy, she would be the wise cracking best friend. But, here she steals the show right from under the lead actresses’ nose. Uber-talented and setting the stage alight, whenever she steps onto it, she has powerhouse vocals and genuine presence and comic timing to burn.Jon Robyns’ Robbie is delightful. 

This West End pro has the likes of Avenue Q, Spamalot and Memphis under his belt, and here he grabs the lead role with both hands and has the audience eating out of his hands. Cassie Compton has great vocal ability, but her accent wavers and she does not truly convince. She is heartfelt, when singing, and then flat when she is acting, something is missing.Ray Quinn has a blast as Glen Gulia, as does Ruth Madoc as Grandma Rosie, rapping and causing chaos, whenever her character is on stage. Samuel Holmes’ George is also excellent, and a real scene stealer.

When I first saw, this show many years ago, it lacked oomph. On this tour directed with panache by Nick Winston, a completely different production has emerged. It is laugh a minute, has brilliant performances, and is a genuinely great night out. I do!The Wedding Singer is at the Manchester Opera House until 20 May.

By Glenn Meads for Canal St Online.

Check details and book via here..

Tue, 16 May 2017 09:26:09 +0100

La Strada at The Lowry


Last month the Lowry gave us Sally Cookson’s astonishing production of Jane Eyre. This month we are treated to another stunning piece of theatre directed by Cookson – the first UK stage adaptation of Federico Fellini’s iconic 1957 film: La Strada.
La Strada tells the tragic and tender tale of wide-eyed Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) who is sold by her impoverished mother to the brutish strongman Zampano (Stuart Goodwin), a travelling sideshow performer. Their journey through the Italian countryside leads them to a ragtag touring circus where they meet Il Matto (Bart Soroczynski) the free-spirited tightrope walker, who tries to rekindle Gelsomina’s broken spirit.

60 years after winning the Best Foreign Language Film Academy award, this new adaptation has been devised by the cast through improvisation; their creativity captured by Cookson and writer in the room, Mike Akers. The slickness of this seamless production is evidence of this collaborative work; powerful moments of imaginative storytelling as we travel ‘the road’ with our three main characters.

Brisson is perfectly innocent as Gelsomina; Goodwin is strong, harsh and menacing as Zampano; and Soroczynsk displays impressive circus skills in his tender portrayal of Il Matto; all supported by a multi-talented cast of actor-musicians who bring the story to life through live music and original songs. This is an ensemble piece not just of actor and musician, but set, lighting and sound, each complementing the other to provide a unique experience.
This a beautiful piece of theatre in a perfectly intimate venue. An emotional journey that will be remembered for months to come.
Rating 5/5
Quays Theatre, The Lowry: May 15th-20th 2017


By Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online

Book tix here

Tue, 16 May 2017 09:10:31 +0100

The Toad Knew at The Lowry

One of Europe’s most inventive artists - James Thierrée - visits The Lowry with the only two performances outside London of his latest production The Toad Knew. With a family history including Eugene O’Neill and Chaplin, it is no surprise that Thierrée is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest and most creative performers and directors.
The Toad Knew features six characters who emerge into a strange netherworld of steaming water, animalistic machines and sinister objects. The stage is dominated by a huge wire-driven, hovering lantern consisting of multiple sections that continually move and reshape throughout the journey – reminiscent of a creature straight out of Dr Who.
The characters embark on a journey of discovery. I did recognise a tableau of earth, fire, water and air but quite what that journey was seemed unclear. However, the dramaturgy felt irrelevant – this is about the astonishing visual experience. Beautifully grotesque. Unnervingly stunning. Tragically comedic. Amusingly dark. Dreamlike. Nightmarish. Harmoniously discordant.
Whilst the audience at the end may have been slightly smaller than the one at the beginning, for those who experienced every second, this was 90 minutes of pure imaginative delight! The 10 minute curtain call was richly deserved, particularly for the 3 backstage wire operators – a choreographic triumph. Good luck in the Molière Awards on May 29th.

Rating 4/5
By Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online
Lyric Theatre, The Lowry: May 10th-11th 2017

Click here for more info

Thu, 11 May 2017 09:55:29 +0100

MK Ultra at Home

“I can’t be immune to dance because I love Strictly but I don’t really know what’s going on”, so spoke my friend in the interval of MK Ultra by the Rosie Kay Dance Company and it echoed my thoughts. I’m not an expert in contemporary dance so am probably not really qualified to review it but from an extremely lay person’s point of view, all the parts were there but I didn’t feel that they gelled together all that well.
In what was a master stroke for Kay, she timed the production MK Ultra, an examination of the conspiracy theories of the illuminati, perfectly with these crazy modern times of alternative facts and post truths.  The opening graphics proclaim “This is fake theatre”, setting the scene defiantly.
MK Ultra refers to a mind control technique, allegedly adopted by the CIA in the 1950s and 60s. The conspiracy theory that this production focuses on is one that the CIA aligned with Disney to create controllable public figures to spread their messages to society.
This was portrayed through videos by Adam Curtis, a filmmaker who’s HyperNormalisation and Bitter Lake you may have seen through iPlayer.
Backed with a dance soundtrack created by Annie Mahtani including potential illuminati subjects such as Britney, seven dancers interpreted the struggle faced by those who lie victim of the illuminati as they look to create a new world order.
The cast of this production are very good with the stand out star being Shelley Eva Haden who is wonderful to watch. What I found interesting was that the choreography for the whole production was incredibly tight however each performer clearly stamped their own identity onto the dance, making each one slightly different, treading just the right side though to ensure a cohesive experience for the audience. This gave off a reality TV competition of sort, each candidate battling for supremacy, working carefully within a structure but trying to stand out, which one character finally does and the throne in the corner becomes used.
The only real issue I had as an audience member was tying these all together and understanding the story. I probably should have done some reading up before I attended and I would have had a much better experience as having read up since, it has made things seem much more clearer.
This didn’t detract from enjoying a night at HOME for another groundbreaking performance that the venue is becoming well known for.  Whether you subscribe to the conspiracy theory or not, it is an important and compelling production that leaves you questioning whether we are all just being controlled after all.
3 stars

Chris Park for Canal St Online

More here

Fri, 05 May 2017 10:19:34 +0100

Shalamar at Manchester Academy


One of the best gigs this year for me. A fan since my teens when they were a regular fave played at 18th birthday parties Shalamar still retain their energy and delivered a great performance. Found myself Ringwalding with the best to the faster hits like Dead Giveaway & Disappearing Act and crowd-stepping to There it is & Take Me to the Bank.

Really nice crowd with a wide age range and the staff at the Academy were friendly and accommodating. Jody Watley wasn’t conspicuous by her absence as a bouncy Carolyn Griffey brought her own vim and vigour to the act which along with Howard and Jeffrey’s flair and a skilled support band made a superb concert all round. 

A long finish encore with Night to Remember left us happy and wanting MORE.

By Neil Walbran  for Canal St Online.

Fri, 05 May 2017 09:49:01 +0100

Ghost at The Lowry

The musical adaptation of the hit film Ghost premiered in Manchester six years ago, before heading for the West End and Broadway. So, there is a great deal of good will from audiences here because it feels like our show. And, there is the fact the film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg has many iconic scenes.

When the show first arrives here, it featured some amazing effects by Paul Kieve. This time around, the smoke and mirrors are missing and with this omission, some of the magic is gone.

That’s not to say, there is nothing to see here, as Kelly Hampson is excellent as grief stricken Molly, and Ethan Bradshaw holds his own as Sam who is caught in between two worlds, trying to find his killer. There is a scene stealer here also, who stops the show from becoming maudlin; Jacqui Dubois. Her Oda Mae, the dodgy psychic who begins to hear the dead, is a powerhouse, in terms of comic timing and vocally. Every time she is on stage, this show comes to life.

Sam Ferriday is suitably enough panto villain to give you the binary opposition that shows like this need, as Sam’s ‘best friend’, Carl.

Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard’s songs keep the show bouncing along, and highlight the melancholy and empty feelings of grief and loss very well.

For anyone who has seen the show in its original form, or during the first tour, there is a nagging feeling here that things have been scaled down way too much and it feels a bit cheap. From the size of the ensemble, lack of special effects through to Mark Bailey’s wobbly set design.

There are some magical moments created by the illusionist Richard Pinner, but not enough to satisfy those who pay full whack and expect more bang for their buck.

The cast give it their all and work incredibly hard to engage the audience, and in most cases, they succeed. The narrative sticks faithfully to the movie, so fans get what they came for. It’s just a shame, that they may also feel that they need a bit more spent on the show to truly believe.

Glenn Meads for Canal St Online

Ghost, the Musical is at the Lowry until 29 April.

Book here.

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:31:36 +0100